Saturday, April 09, 2016


When I moved to the farmhouse now five years ago, I decided, with Ed's hard encouragement, to adhere to minimalist principles. Downsize yet again. Buy (almost) nothing new. Make do.

And it worked. The furniture I had was just fine. True, the kitchen table that Ed threw in doesn't expand and large family meals have required an awkward combination of several tables strung together to look like ... several tables strung together and yes, for various showers and family celebrations some people were without comfy chairs to sit on, but basically, we've done well. Inspired by this success, I continue to downsize. My library collection is one fourth what it once was. Useless kitchen gadgets (sometimes but rarely missed) have done well on Craigslist. In the alternative, Goodwill is just 3.1 miles away.

I like to think we add flowers outside, but nothing inside.

Then along came Snowdrop.

The crib. Of course she needed a crib! And a high chair. And a changing table. And so on. I'd forgotten how children swallow stuff and they grow, too, so that yesterday's stuff is put aside for the next one, should there be a next one, and the next incarnation of stuff makes its way into the house.

I try to keep it simple. But the fact is, if a child spends a lot of time in your house, you'll want to make it a good place for her to be.

Today I announced that Snowdrop really will need a small table and a chair. Ed groans at this. Let's look at Craigslist! We do that. I don't like anything.
How about if I built her a picnic table with benches?
Nice of you, but it wont look good.
How about if you pull up a wee chair to the coffee table?

I laugh at that. Our so called coffee table is a whopping 24 by 24 inches. It serves as a resting place for Ed's computer, his stack of unread mail and a dining table come suppertime for the two of us. The image of fitting in Snowdrop's crayons and paper is kind of funny.

We rearrange things to make room for the wee table and chairs. The farmhouse is small, but it will take on another piece of "stuff." Ed shakes his head. Minimalism, diminished yet again! In exchange, I promise to give up another shelf of books and the walker Snowdrop rejected long ago.

We are determined to live an uncluttered life.

But this does not hold true for our great outdoors!

True, we wake up yet again to a hard frost -- near record lows -- but I know this will be the last one and so I walk out at sunrise with a bounce to my step.

Besides, it's going to be sunny! Sunshine makes up for the cold.

(From behind the willow...)

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(It's cold, Java... I know, Henny.)

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(This better be the last of it!)

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We eat breakfast in the sun room.

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And then we work outdoors. Oh, do we work! It never warms up beyond the upper thirties F (no more than 4C), but I shed everything, down to a light sweater.

We pull weeds, we unload wood chips and we expand (that's right, expand) the new flower bed that will run along the front of the property. For the first time, I will be growing plants that aren't just for us to see (all our other flower fields are within the farmette courtyard, so unless you come up to the end of our driveway, you would not know they are there).

I don't have many photos. It's dirty work and the camera deserves a respite inside. Just this one, of, well, nothing, really. Ed is rebuilding my bean trellis. I'm pulling weeds.

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But it's a magnificent day and Ed had to listen to me say more than once -- isn't life grand?
To which he'll respond -- Yes gorgeous, in the most non-emotive voice he can muster.

A brief coffee and cookie break (just at home)...

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And then we continue.

It's after six when we finally throw down the pitchfork, the rake, the clipping shears. And of course, this was the day I was to cook something other than the simple, the straightforward.

Well fine. Roll up the sleeves and get to it. With a special thanks to Yotam Ottolenghi, whose recipe (from Plenty More) I follow, using eggs from our girls.

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It's a Parmesan cauliflower cake...

(Before it goes in...)

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(After it comes out...)

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Late supper. Long day. Beautiful day. Flower beds waiting now. In all their readiness.