Friday, April 08, 2016


It's the end of a week. And, we are in the final push to get us out of the more challenging aspects of early spring: it's the last in the string of cold and gray days. And the little girl is near the end of her sniffles. And me? I just move into each day as it presents itself, even as I am very glad that we're facing better days ahead.

But first, the wake up: a dusting of snow, again! But it's not too cold. This is silly stuff. Even the flowers don't much care about the inconvenience.

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The cheepers too seem oblivious: this is like a sprinkle of pepper on the sweet cake of spring.

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Breakfast. Lovely. Cheerful.

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And then I sit back for a few minutes and think about cooking.

I'd just responded to an email from Pani Karolina (my Warsaw architect-designer extraordinaire) and it had caused me to reflect on how I prepare food these days. Pani Karolina had asked if, in order to save money (the renovation is coming in over budget -- what a surprise), I wanted to eliminate the installation of a stove. Cooktop -- yes. But am I really going to bake or grill or in other ways fuss with major food preparation in Warsaw?

Well, the answer is obvious -- I may or may not, but if I hope to sell the apartment at some point to someone who buys it for its completeness and wonderfulness (no further work required!), it's got to have a stove. And who knows? Maybe I'll even use it!

And this lead me to wonder if, in recent years, I've gone too much in the direction of simplifying dinner preparations. I still take at least an hour (on Sundays -- more than that) to prepare dinner each night, but I've concluded that Ed doesn't much care if I finesse a meal and so if there are corners to cut -- I cut them.

But this, I think, is a mistake. I recall the famous words of my friend Patrizia in Parma, who was shocked that I shouldn't dress with care, just because the people I see in the course of the day don't particularly notice. Don't you want to do it for yourself? For the way you feel in all ways? -- she had asked.

And so today, I took greater care with planning the menu for the week ahead. I picked up cookbooks before going to the store. I thought about the lessons I had learned over the years about preparing and presenting dishes.

And that felt really really good.

In the afternoon, I am with Snowdrop.

My younger daughter had asked -- why don't you try pigtails on her? Today I did.

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I suppose the one issue is that suddenly, the girl looks... like a girl! Did we bypass toddlerhood?

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Suddenly, I am the east European babcia singing --

Wasn't it yesterday
When they were small?

Sunrise, sunset
Sunrise, sunset
Swiftly flow the days
Seedlings turn overnight to sunflowers
Blossoming even as we gaze

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Late, late afternoon, the winds pick up, but the skies clear a little. You want to go outside, Snowdrop? Does she ever!

(At the coffee shop.)

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And in the evening, she is at the farmhouse.

Snowdrop, do you want to go outside?

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In the house again, the girl picks up her favorite books and some unusual ways of reading them.

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And she finds some new books too - variations on the very first stories that caught her attention.

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And of course, she makes a beeline for the airplane and the train with the funny wooden passengers on board.

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When did she become so certain of her own mind? So good at figuring out her own path?

One of the unexpected bonuses of being a grandparent is that it brings you down a notch in terms of your ideas and beliefs about raising children. If you thought you got it right (or wrong) with your own kids, this new line of progeny teaches you that actually, you haven't figured out anything at all. And in my opinion, that humility is a very good thing indeed!


  1. I'm so amazed Snowdrop doesn't rip pages in books!

    I just listened to On Point on NPR yesterday about the "joy" in cooking even the most mundane things. I get too stuck in doing the familiar, sometimes.

  2. Pigtails are great! When's the next haircut?

  3. Pippi Longstocking, don't you think she is a perfect Pippi in those ponytails! Loved everything about this post, and the line about the "flowers don't much care about the inconvenience" -- a good lesson there.

  4. S is so darn cute with "pigtails"! And right, she doesn't even look like a toddler anymore. She is dressed like my preschoolers in miniature. If your family has boys after this, and we have girls, can I buy all of these clothes from you? :)


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