Friday, March 31, 2017


A small twist in a day and suddenly, everything is different, novel, clever!

A simple thing (on this cold and gray March day): Snowdrop's school is closed for parent teacher conferences. I flip my time with her: from second half of day at the farmhouse, to the first half of day at her house.

I wake up and get going. Really early (for me) and really fast (for me)!

Breakfast! Hurry, Ed! Hurry hurry hurry!!
Ed: I'm not in a hurry...

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At Snowdrop's home. On time. Phew! Parents go off to their conference with the teachers (the girl is doing great!), then to work. Snowdrop and I play rockets and trucks until she tells me: the trucks are too loud.

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She settles into fixing the roof of her play house with a wrench and screws. That sounds ambitious, no? I put her up to it.

And then I say the magic words: do you want to go out to a special lunch with me? In a restaurant?
You'll think the magic word is "lunch" or "restaurant," but no: it's "go out!"

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She states her preferences: we should go out to a bakery where she can have a croissant. Well fine with me! She is a cheap lunch date!

We go to Madison Sourdough. (In the parking lot, she encounters urban art.)

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At the bakery/cafe, I order for her both the croissant and a grilled cheese sandwich with fruit. She eats both. (I set up the camera for a time release.)

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Another patron offers to take our photo. Sure! I mean, how often do I get to take Snowdrop out to lunch! A cheap lunch at that!

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We go for a short walk after and she is my best companion, admiring everything, describing it all, asking questions, pointing to our reflection in the glass displays...

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Okay, back to the artsy parking lot...

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Then home. Her home.

She is full of energy! As the cats watch, we dance!

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Afternoon. It's surely past her nap time. Never mind. Her parents come home, she settles down, I retreat...

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Not a big switch in the scheme of things, but it's one that has me thinking: do I take for granted all that is handed to me each day, because it follows a similar pattern? Do we all do that? A tiny change and I see the beauty of my day, all in a new light. Or at least a new shade.

I love my routines, my patterns. I prefer knowing what I'll be doing tomorrow and the next day. But I guess I like an occasional shake up too. We all need it: a chance to see something afresh.  A chance to delight in something as if we were tasting it for the very first time.

Thursday, March 30, 2017


We should be more in step with our natural world, I think. When the sun shines and the gentle breeze heralds a warm spring day, we should bounce out of bed and dance our way through outdoor pleasures.

Conversely, when the day dawns wet, cold and blustery, we should let our mellow inclinations take hold, progressing quietly, contemplatively through the hours, perhaps doing some tidying of indoor spaces and internal thoughts.

In fact, we begin the day exactly in this fashion. It's cold and wet outside and Ed and I read a bit, then talk about the issues of the day through a pleasant and mellow breakfast.

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The cheepers are a bit confused by the wind and rain, but after a few attempts at scratching the fields, they retreat to a restful afternoon in the barn.

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The crocuses fold up and wait for the passage of this weather front.

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But Snowdrop -- she is bouncy today! Quiet and contemplative? No, not her!

Disappointed that we cannot go for a walk after school, she recovers quickly enough when I offer her an excursion to the library.

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She loves our local branch and she takes in all that it offers, including great people watching and... lots of space to assert her rapidly accelerating independence.

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At the farmhouse, too, she is so full of ideas, so full of adventure that I find myself waffling between indulging her creative assertiveness and protecting us both from sure mishaps.

It is a busy afternoon!

And the winds howl and the rain comes down and some of us think this is just perfect weather for a cup of tea and a good book while others feel the stir of great things happening, mellow inclinations be damned!

Maybe next time the weather turns nasty, I'll roll out the yoga mat. I can't quite see Snowdrop moving toward an hour of meditative thought just yet, but at least her exuberance would find an outlet in the practice of downward dog, or better yet -- in the floppy release of the child's pose.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017


What makes you happy? You know, so that you can't help but smile, feel all warm inside, breathe a deep sigh of contentment? I always thought that most people's lists are long and varied. There are the basics, there are the unusual pleasant surprises, there are the planned events and then of course all those little moments of beauty, peace, tranquility. So lots, no?

Ed, however, claims that his list is short. And he firmly disavows my suggestions that certain tasks that he has undertaken and which he pursues with dedication and hard work are sources of great joy. On the other hand, spending time together laughing at a clip of a late night monologue -- that pretty much tops his list. That, or working side by side on a beautiful day on some farmette project. And, he adds sheepishly last night, playing with me and Snowdrop.

People like that are rare, I think. Sure, many of us would say that spending time with loved ones or good friends are up there, but they're closely followed by other pursuits: reading, traveling, eating chocolate. Dancing, painting, baking, growing flowers. Work accomplishments. Success. Mastering the piano. Collecting antiques. Fishing. Perhaps not all these make your list, but some surely do?

I have always admired Ed's very modest approach to life and it is absolutely the case that I have simplified every aspect of my day as a result of spending time with him. And yes, what tops his list tops mine too. And still, I am the restless one. Despite Ed's reluctance to travel, I still get a thrill stepping off an airplane at some destination that I've come to love. Buying summer dresses for Snowdrop, grabbing a drink with my daughters and their beloveds, swimming at Franqui beach -- these things cling stubbornly to my list of happy moments.

Still, the more exotic stuff doesn't happen every day and I am so on board with the idea that the things around us are what gives us both copious amounts of happiness.

(I offer you a photo from last evening, taken just a few hours before we meandered toward the subject of happiness; the sun came in through the western kitchen window as it always does in the warmer months, the flowers positively danced, the little blue vase once purchased in Istanbul glowed and I smiled a genuine big smile of contentment.)

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This morning, as predicted, is both cool and gray. The cheepers come early toward the farmhouse, perhaps looking for the little girl who was so willing to give them a ride in the cart.

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As I prepare breakfast, I see that Trumpian real estate mogul in my day lily bed. Our resident groundhog has condos and vacation homes all over the farmette! Why can't he leave my flowers alone?!

As he scurries into his newly dug palace, I ask Ed if I would harm him if I shoveled some dirt on top.
Yep, he'll die laughing at you! -- Ed answers.

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We have breakfast in the sun room just because it's brighter there, even if the sun stays behind clouds.

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The morning -- the first one without appointments or must-do chores in  many a week -- flies. We linger too long over the morning meal and we continue to talk about work and play and all such stuff and before long it's time for me to go and pick up Snowdrop.

But first, a stop at the bakery. Here we go: her favorite snack waits for her.

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Snowdrop, of course, is both predictable and unpredictable. Yes, she eats her favorites, but seeing Ed munch on a bunch of cheddar bunnies brings out the longing for that which is his. (Snowdrop is thrilled if you give her some of your food to try. Plateful of snails? Great! Yum! Can I have another?!)

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Cheddar bunnies. A new pleasure.

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Snowdrop, of course, finds great pleasure and true joy in very simple everyday stuff. Ed comments -- of course she is happy! Two people are dancing polka with her and offering her a box of cheddar bunnies! 

Yep. The basic requirements for true joy.

(Can you touch the ceiling? Almost!)

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(Watching polka dancers.)

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A funny TV moment watched together, a shovelful of dirt, youtube polka and cheddar bunnies. Yep: happiness.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

the great outdoors

This day is a teaser: here, take a look at what's coming!

By the time Ed and I sit down to breakfast, the clouds have parted and the temperatures start to climb. Not for good. The rest of the week will be wet and cold. But I get that: we need the rain, we need that reasonable progression toward full blown spring. And yes, I'll take today's sidestep and peek at the gloriousness of what's to come.

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And though it's true: the farmhouse framed by a bed of blooming daylilies in July is more regal than its plain old facade in late March, but hey! Do you see those bunches of narcissus? And the plump buds on the lilac (to the right)? We are so on our way!

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And yes, there are, finally, the emerging flowers of early spring.

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Ed and I spend a few minutes working outdoors, but unfortunately, neither of us has the time to do as much as we might have done with a freer set of hours. I rake, of course. Clearing the flower beds is a priority and though I did much of the work during our February heat wave, there are still things to be done before the flowers emerge full force.

Too, we need to get started on the tomatoes. Last year we planted seeds on March 29th. I don't think this year we'll pull it off that soon!

Never mind. We're still only in March. We'll get to everything in early April.

In the meantime, we all get a real thrill out of having this gloriously sunny spring day.  I pick up an excited Snowdrop. She knows there'll be a flower hunt and a stroller ride in store.

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The little girl and I both sing songs as we walk the blocks of her neighborhood. True, she sings a different song than I do, but that's okay. We're singing! That's plenty good enough!

Later, at the farmette, she has no intention of keeping her jacket on. Nor does she head for the farmhouse. She knows it's outdoor weather!

She saunters to the cart where we had been piling fallen leaves and spent plantings.

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I want to climb inside!
Sure, Snowdrop.

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The cheepers hear us and they come running, excited at the possibilities!

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Snowdrop watches them, amused at their enthusiasm.

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I don't think, though, that a ride in the cart is what Scotch, our older brown girl, had in mind!

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I tell the little girl that perhaps her new doll Rosie (yes, I know -- her new doll has the same name as my scooter; I can't help it -- she chose the name) would enjoy being wheeled around more than Scotch does.

Oh, Snowdrop loves the idea of taking out the doll with stroller! She would be running down the rural road behind her charge for hours on end if I didn't remind her that the roads are off limits for play.

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Time to redirect.
Look, Snowdrop! The crocuses are blooming!
Just yesterday, they were only a bud. Today -- perfection.

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We go inside now. Snowdrop looks around for Ed. He comes over from the sheep shed and she is just too excited, explaining to him every detail of her life right now. The girl loves to recount what's happening in the here and now.

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I suppose there is now a certain predictability to these posts: they start with breakfast and they end with Snowdrop enticing us to her tea party. I understand her happiness. After all, I too relish that time around a table.

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And yes, I admit to the predictability. The thing is, with every new week, it all seems so different to me. Snowdrop grows, the seasons change, inclinations and perceptions shift and so in fact, nothing stays the same. It's as if each day I begin with something unknown and unexpected. Sure, it's the same good meal, but nothing about it tastes like the one from the day before. To me, it's always one incredible, beautiful surprise. 

Monday, March 27, 2017

first day back

I wake up and look outside. It's a cloudy day and not unlike Warsaw temperature wise. Still, in the same way that people were grumbling about the later arrival of spring in Warsaw, I can tell (and grumble) that here too, at least as compared to the last March weeks of recent years, we're behind.

It's not that there aren't evidences of growth. But last year, I see on Ocean that we had lightly yellow heads on the daffodil stalks. Today -- well, we're still not at that stage. The stalks are up and out, but there aren't the flower buds yet. And our crocuses really should be exploding. In reality, just a handful are showing some color:

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But there is no going back. We're on our way to spring. Right, cheepers?

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Ed and I have a bit of a thrown together breakfast. Half sleepy, with a fridge that's rather empty (this is a good thing: I always tell Ed to eat his way through everything in my absence), and in a slight rush, as I want to finish tidying the place and get some shopping done before picking up Snowdrop.

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The reunion with the little girl at her school is predictably wonderful. She, too, had been away (with her parents) and so everything old and familiar was suddenly fresh and new again. She couldn't wait to step out and look to see if the stroller was waiting for an "a'venture." It was.

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It's still in the mid forties (about 7C)  and so I am not ambitious. She wants to go on a flower hunt and we do that, though the number of flowers we spot on our walk can be counted on the fingers of your hand.

But it's pretty in that pre-bloom kind of way, where there are promising buds sprouting everywhere. We walk to the park by the lake and I have to admire how serene and lovely the waters are today.

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Snowdrop is nonstop chatter now and even as she swings, I hear her explanation of what she is seeing and what is happening in the world around her -- all this from the delightful and delicate viewpoint of a very young person.

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I told her I had a surprise for her at the farmhouse and she is oh so keen to get to it...

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I have finally acquiesced and picked up (across the ocean) a pretty stroller and a doll to go with it. Neither of my girls, to my recollection, cared for pushing a stroller around and their interest in dolls was marginal until the horrible (in my view) Barbie came along, but Snowdrop just loves to place everyone and everything in a stroller and she is beyond happy to be able to do it at the farmhouse as well.

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Up and down, around and back again. With gusto!

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Add to it a croissant -- bliss.

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Then there is the sweet reunion with ahah...

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I am not surprised to hear her ask him for a polka dance. It's wedged in her head that Ed is the polka guy and she waits with happy anticipation for the sound of the accordion.

And they dance.

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And all is right with the world.

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(Do you think she never made it to the tea set? Oh, but she did. And she was ever so happy to set a place for Rosie, the name she chose for her new doll.)

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Evening. I cook up a favorite soup for Ed and me, and then I try to let go of the day. It can be hard -- not because the day had any drama, but because it was, in fact, quite normal. Different time zone, but normal.  Peaceful. Calm.