Tuesday, April 25, 2017


You look out your bedroom window and you see the white lilac in near full bloom. Your heart sings! The lilac bushes here are tall. You can never reach the flowers from the ground below. There's only one thing to do: take out the bedroom window screen, climb out onto the sloping roof, and snip a few clumps to bring to the breakfast table.

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(I wont clip any of the tulips: I'm so grateful that these survived the early spring animal attack.)

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Breakfast on the porch! With lilacs!

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Our daffodils, still going strong!

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And here's one of my favorite farmette corners in spring: the old orchard, blooming now, in a meadow of purple and white violets.

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Okay, to work! So much of spring digging and planting is done on my knees that I try to remember to keep my pants from being torn to shreds by wearing knee pads. (Photo by Ed.)

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Cheepers! Stay out of the flower bed! There, that's a good place for you to do your preening!
I thought you didn't like it when they pooped up the walkway -- Ed says with a grin.
I can sweep up their poop. I don't want to have to sweep up knocked down flowers!

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And soon it's time to pick up Snowdrop, who again has had a full and active morning at school. She is definitely tired, even as she looks like she's ready to take on the world!

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A few adventuring favorites: the big swing!

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Learning about railroad tracks...

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And then it's time to head to the farmette. A quick play outside...

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... with a bucket for her various gardening projects...

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But when she is tired, it's not hard to coax her back into the farmhouse. Especially if Ed is there, and a snack is waiting, and favorite books are strewn about the couch. Oh, and of course, her baby awaits her tender caress.

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After her nap -- we read. Here's my little grandgirl, in her post nap discombobulated state!

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And outside, the world is brilliant with spring color!

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Monday, April 24, 2017


We have two more days of unseasonably warm weather and I intend to make good use of them both!

My day is split evenly in half: the first chunk is spent digging, hauling, and planting and the second chunk is with Snowdrop.

But first, there is breakfast.

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Immediately after, I step outside.

An appreciative look to the east...

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A look to the west...

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A frown at Java, who is about to trample over tender shoots...

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And I'm off to work on the expanded front flower field.

The cheepers follow. I don't mind their company here. They look quite lovely (in my view) on the young lawn and they don't like to join me on the bed because the chips are dense and they yield little that is tasty for them. Too, I think we provide sympathetic, bucolic vignette for the cars that zip by on our rural road: I work the flower field and the hens hover and though they come close to the pavement, they would scoff at the old question -- why does the chicken cross the road? They never venture on the road. Ever. Their sense of boundary is quite remarkable. What's beyond our three acres? They don't care.

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Just past noon, I pick up a tired Snowdrop. She looks like she has been into a million things in her morning at school and a priority is to get her home and changed. (A bath may also have been a good idea!) But we do take the time to walk the neighborhood a bit first. She loves the quiet stroller ride and I like walking with her too. Especially when it's 70F (21C) outside!

At the farmhouse, she wants quiet time with her toys and so we play indoors. (Snowdrop, you now also have croissant crumbs on your face!)

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When Ed comes in, he shares a bit of cinnamon roll with her...

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I think she is long overdue for a nap, but she appears to have a small burst of energy and she coaxes him into dancing the polka. As always and despite having just done a lot of heavy work outside (oh those feet!), he is incapable of saying no.

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A few more minutes, gaga! Fine. I don't want to discourage a construction project.

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While she naps, I sow peas -- both the edible kind and the flowering ones. We have some clever/foolish ideas on how to keep them out of reach of farmette wildlife. It's an experiment! If it fails, we'll continue to pick up peas at the market and try something else next year.

This is what spring is for us: a chance to recommit to past successes, but also to step out and try something new. There is so much opportunity for being creative, for pulling out a "what if."

Clouds roll in in the evening, but the air stays warm. It's a beautiful time here, at the farmette! Outrageously beautiful!

Sunday, April 23, 2017


It's late. The sun has long set, the skies are dark. The dinner dishes are stacked, Ed is dozing on the couch.

Typically, this is when I put the final touches on an Ocean post: I study the end day photos, I correct the text.

Not so today. I pushed nearly everything onto this late hour in favor of working outside before dusk set in. And so once again, I am scrambling to write something for you. Ocean has had to take a back seat to this most gorgeous day.

It starts with breakfast on the porch. It's still a little cool, but we don't mind! The sun's out! Life is so very good!

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(Well, good if I can ignore the cheepers just outside the screen porch. Their claws can be fierce when they set their heart on a particular piece of yard.)

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Here's a curious thing: This year, as last year, the early tulips were decimated by some hungry farmette resident. Possibly the groundhog, though we can't be sure. But for some reason, the later tulips (both this year and last year) escaped this tragic decapitation. So I think we may get a (reduced, but hey!) bloom out of the bulbs I planted last Fall after all!

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I am spent. I've divided day lilies, I've transplanted dianthus, I've pruned the invasive monarda and coreopsis, I've planted a few newbies to the garden.

Yet non of this is work! There is a glow to this day for sure!

In the evening, Snowdrop and her parents are here for dinner. First thing's first: the little girl and I head out to the asparagus patch. Spaghetti primavera is no good without spring asparagus!

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She brings the picked spears inside for all to share. (It always amazes me how small her hand is as compared to ahah's!)

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Dinner on the porch. Snowdrop does not forget about her babies.

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How beautiful it is outdoors tonight!

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Snowdrop agrees.

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I know we'll surely have some cooler days ahead, but I could never complain: not after this most perfectly glorious weekend! 

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Earth Day

It is, in Wisconsin, the most beautiful of all April days: plenty of sunshine, warm enough to keep to a light sweater (and not even that if you're working), crisp, green and wonderful.

I do not pause. Once I'm up, I stay up, crazily moving through the day until now -- suppertime -- when I feel I can finally give it a rest.

And so it's a photo day on Ocean! Few words. No time for words. No need for words! It's Earth Day, and I celebrate it by being outside all day long. Though not for breakfast. Too cool in the early morning hours. We eat in the sun room.

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Henny! Leave my flowers alone! Go scratch somewhere else! Oh, those cheepers!

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Morning: I'm with my daughter and granddaughter at the downtown farmers market. The vendors line the blocks around the Capitol. It takes more than half an hour to make your way around.

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When we're done, Snowdrop leaves her stroller for a romp on the Capitol grasses. Today, she is enthralled by the large trees.

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Hide and seek!

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I see that she would very much like to climb a tree. That wont work here, but at the farmette, low limbed trees abound!

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She is handed a free construction hat at a store on the Square. Snowdrop loves hats.

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And then I leave her to prodeed with her family weekend, while I turn my attention to my flower beds. There is a lot to do! (The cheepers are like loyal pups -- they follow me to whatever corner of the yard I'm in.)

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I work   ALL   DAY   LONG. Digging. Weeding. Planting. Pruning.


Pause to admire blooms on trees: they're everywhere now! Here's one of our young peach trees.

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Here's a cherry -- so delicately fragrant!

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(The cheepers follow.)

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And the daffodils continue to dance and swing and sway...

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I tell you, a gorgeous day. My muscles ache, my nails hands are caked in mud. A perfect day.

Friday, April 21, 2017

April 21st

I know many people look askance at birthdays and, too, at people who make a fuss over their own "special" day. It seems at once so self indulgent and irrelevant! Another one of those "me me me!" selfie moments, when in reality, the day is just a speck on the calendar of human existence. Shouldn't we be more humble about our own presence on the planet?

But here's another take on it: it is tough these days to find community. The Earth is crowded, people move from one place to the next, families break up, hunting and gathering seems so yesterday. So perhaps you could find in birthdays an excuse to get closer to people you most care about?

For me, there is another dimension: birthdays are personal. No one should care about the passing of your years. But you should care. Rather than drifting through life without thought to how the next year compares to the one before, isn't it good to be more deliberate about it?

I'm sixty-four today. I have sixty-four years of adventures, projects, mistakes, ambitions, feelings, springs, summers, falls, winters behind me. I'm beginning my sixty-fifth. To take the time to reflect, to be grateful, to look ahead -- to me, this is so cool! A birthday (for me) isn't a party day, it's a day to consider life once more. To find your personal reasons to smile. 

And if you can find a handful of loved ones to bounce around with -- well, that smile can turn into a mighty grin and you're on your way to the next year. Excited for the possibilities.

The morning dawns cool but with patches of sunshine. I used to joke that I do not recall an April 21st without at least a bit of sunshine in my day. This statement is less about my birthday of course, than about the weather patterns of the northern hemisphere where I've spent all my years: in April, clouds move through swiftly and even a rain spattered day can surprise you with moments of sunshine.

We eat breakfast in the sun room.

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The goal after is to take stock, to set a plan for the weekend garden work. But I linger inside. There's no hurry today. This is the luxury that every birthday deserves (yet it's the one thing that's so tough to come by) -- to have on your hands idle time.

Outside, the daffodils steal it once again. Their gold is my gold today.

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I dig and plant just one flower (in a vulnerable spot by the path to the house: here, the cheepers are especially prone to scratching). Tomorrow, I'll work harder.

My afternoon with Snowdrop is special, as her mommy joins us in our play. Adventuring is for the three of us (or perhaps the four of us, as my Chicago daughter calls just as we begin our stroll through the neighborhood: I feel especially rich being unexpectedly surrounded by the chatter of my three best girls!).

We visit the distant coffee shop...

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(Where Snowdrop explains to her mommy what's what...)

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And then we're off to the park. Snowdrop wont just stay with the kiddie swing these days. She now wants a turn on all possible swings.

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A climb up on the life guard's beach chair...

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And then we're off walking the neighborhood again, admiring all that's blooming right now.

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And still our outdoor time is not over. We tidy up Snowdrop's garden at her home...

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And then finally, we're indoors, where Snowdrop is extremely anxious to have me open birthday gifts. (I can help! I can do it!)

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If not for my text and, too, that last photo, the post would not appear that different from any other late April Ocean post. So what's the big deal?

And yet it's different. I know the date inside out. April 21st. And indeed, the evening takes on some of those celebratory overtones. A drink out with just my daughter...

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A dinner with Ed (a real selfie here, perhaps because we are doing an evening out -- a rarity for us)...

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And an evening at home, like the two couch hounds that we are -- looking for something funny and wise on TV, but really, just taking in the last bit of a birthday. Mine, sure, but this doesn't make me unique or special. We all have birthdays. You, me, everybody. Happy birthdays to all of us!