Monday, June 26, 2017


Over breakfast, Ed and I have a Very Serious Discussion about tree branches.

farmette life-5.jpg

I want to cut back the ones that hang low over our entryway.
We'll get a little light in, which will dry out the walkway and keep down the mosquitoes. (The nasty bugs haven't attacked us yet this year, but I have no doubt they'll be here soon.)
But look at all those lovely leaves! And the nuts!
We never see any of the nuts because the squirrels get to them first. You know that.

In the end, he agrees to climb up on the roof and do some minor trimming. And I mean minor. This then is our morning: mostly talk, little action.

...but with a very pleasant assessment of the garden, as admired on my numerous walks back and forth to the woodpile, where we tend to dispose of cut branches.

(The flowers by our parked cars.)

farmette life-4.jpg

(I want the lilium to bloom this week, but the return of cool weather seems to have slowed these trumpets down a bit...)

farmette life-10.jpg

One more morning task: throw these two hens off their roosts! Henny has been hanging out in the coop, Java in the garage. They're brooding -- meaning they've stopped laying and they sit without interruption on imagined eggs. Ed will pick them up once a day and plunk them down next to food and water so they wont grow weak. After a few minutes of pecking, they'll both return to their roosts.

farmette life-14.jpg

It is a windy day and it is especially nippy when you venture out to the lakeside playground -- which is where Snowdrop wants to go after school. Well okay, just for a few minutes.

But for the little one, it's never "just for a few minutes..." On the upside, she does not object to a pony tail, at least here by the lake, where her hair is constantly blowing over her face.

farmette life-20.jpg

A run to the life guard tower...

farmette life-32.jpg

A climb up...

farmette life-35.jpg

And then (aided by a tiny food bribe), I convince her that it is time to make our way back to the car.

At the farmette, I ask her if she'd like to take a flower walk in the front bed. For some reason, she loves this long stretch of perennials.

farmette life-53.jpg

But there's another treat for her today -- the ripening raspberries.

farmette life-8.jpg

She is never greedy. Just a few and she is content.

farmette life-56.jpg

Once inside, she does remember a different pleasure: can I have some ice cream, gaga? I laugh. She laughs. You can really go back and forth with her like this for a while. She loves to laugh and even more -- to make others laugh.

farmette life-61.jpg

This is a child's gift, no? The desire to engage in laughter. Oh, but that we could engage them all, those children of the world... without worry, without indifference.

Sunday, June 25, 2017


As I fiddle around in the kitchen, getting breakfast ready, Ed calls out from the couch -- I'm reading this article about why women tend not to be entrepreneurial...

Are you suggesting I look at it? 
Ed has always laughed at my lack of entrepreneurial spirit. He cannot understand why I don't want to make money off of Ocean, or why I drag my heels with putting out a book, indeed many books, or why I don't buy into the idea that building something for profit can be fun.

farmette life-10.jpg

Even though it's a little cool outside, we linger over the morning meal, turning our thoughts to the day ahead. Ed wants to finish clearing the felled tree and, too, he wants to see what damage I did to the tractor-mower. Me -- well, it's time to do a major farmhouse cleaning.
Let me know when you're ready to vacuum - he tells me. And then: Oh, someone's coming by to pick up those motorcycle manuals I put up on Craigslist.

I have two thoughts on this. First, in the matter of vacuuming: though I take responsibility for keeping the house clean (believe me, you would not want to hand over that responsibility to Ed), I have occasionally relinquished the vacuuming to him. Sure, it's not as good as if I did it. So what. It's 30 minutes in my pocket.

My second thought is about those ancient and moldy manuals. Why anyone would want them is beyond me, but Ed was confident that they would sell and months later there is indeed an interested buyer. Ed's success rate in selling stuff on Craigslist hovers at 95% while mine comes in at a dismal below 50%. How does he do it?

As I scrub every corner of the house, Ed pauses in his outdoor work to greet the buyer -- an older guy who has driven here all the way from the Dells (just under two hours) to get the ancient manuals. And I see that this is not going to be a quick pick up. The two of them exchange information about motorcycles, machines, EBay, Craigslist and even when I am done cleaning, I can still hear their voices coming up from the basement. So I vacuum. Thoroughly.

Just when I'm done, Ed comes in from having waved they guy out and down the driveway and asks - why didn't you wait and let me do that?

Because. You'll be wanting to fix yourself lunch now and after, the afternoon will be mostly gone and you wont finish clearing the tree and fixing the mower... But don't worry: vacuuming gave me a chance to think about why women tend not to be entrepreneurial. Maybe I'll read that article after we're done with dinner and I put away the dishes.

He settles in to eat his reheated something or other while I turn my attention to preparing dinner.

And if you picked up from this story the message that I spend too much time on cleaning and tending to meals, well, that's really not so. These days, I don't clean up to my standards of what is a neat and tidy house. It's just one of many many things that I try to get to in the course of the week.

At the end of a day, I am satisfied if I've had time with my family (or sometimes friends) over a good meal in a pleasant setting. And if I've played well with Snowdrop, exhibiting the patience of the calm grandmother. I like thinking ahead to future trips. I'm deeply satisfied if I have had some time to write and yes, Ocean writing does count. I am also happy as a clam (well, more like a butterfly) if the garden is blooming well and if I did something physically demanding. And if Ed and I worked on something together.

Would I be equally satisfied if I put aside much of the above in favor of taking risks and investing time, energy and resources in a venture that might fail?

That's so not me.

Garden walk...

farmette life-4.jpg

And on to dinner. Photos will replace text here:

farmette life-17.jpg

farmette life-25.jpg

farmette life-30.jpg

(Snowdrop, you have a very chocolaty mouth!)

farmette life-40.jpg

farmette life-43.jpg

Dinner done, dishes washed and stacked. The sun has nearly set...

I take Rosie out for a ride.

farmette life-47.jpg

Last bit of sun, last minutes of work. Grateful for all that this season delivers.

farmette life-48.jpg

Saturday, June 24, 2017


Most of the time, when I go to the farmers market with my daughter and granddaughter, I hardly take any family photos. My mind is on other things: picking foods, maneuvering the stroller, chatting up my girls.

But today is different. I use my camera a lot -- not so much on the foods or vendors, but on Snowdrop and family. Here's why:

It is a brilliant day, though a bit on the cool side. I smile to myself on that one: no need to discuss the terrible harms of wearing a sweater with Snowdrop. (Though even on hot days, it is a pointless discussion. Me: Dear one, it's hot! if you keep the sweater on, you'll feel sweaty and awful! You'll feel ill, I'm sure! Snowdrop: I want my sweater on!) The day is made for little girls who love their sweaters.

Big girls too: Ed and I eat breakfast on the porch and I'm definitely wearing a light cardigan.

farmette life-5.jpg

A quick look at the garden...

farmette life-2.jpg

And I'm off to the young family's home for our weekly trek to the market.

Snowdrop is out of her bath and ready to go. It appears that baby is coming along with us today!

farmette life-8.jpg

(Is it that baby picks up Snowdrop's ready smile, or is it that Snowdrop herself responds to baby's exuberance?)

farmette life-11.jpg

We are at the market and out comes my camera. Why? Because we're all here today: Snowdrop, both parents and, too, Snowdrop's other grandma who has arrived for a visit with the little girl. (The four of them are in the photo below.)

farmette life-22.jpg

And so once again, my focus at the market changes. Oh, I poke about, picking up the asparagus (last time for the year!) and strawberries (these, too, are nearly done) and onions, mushrooms, and the rest of the market bounty, but mostly, I am enjoying watching Snowdrop's big girl antics.

Pushing the stroller...

farmette life-20.jpg

(I can see you upside down, gaga!)

farmette life-24.jpg

Resting on a bench, waiting for the rest of us to catch up with her...

farmette life-27.jpg

Enjoying this grandma's company...

farmette life-30.jpg

And, upon hearing music from a curbside band, dancing.

farmette life-36.jpg

Oh, does she dance!

farmette life-61.jpg

Want to dance with me, Gaga?

farmette life-47.jpg

Listen! The music is starting again! Dance!

farmette life-59.jpg

And I do, but honestly, today is a day for watching the little one get just that much older, livelier, attuned to the world around her.

farmette life-63.jpg

There are other beautiful aspects to this walk (here's one: the view back to the Capitol)...

farmette life-66.jpg

After all, it's never all about grandparenting. On a day like this, the garden beckons.

At this time of the year, the rewards are plentiful. Like all concerned stewards of the land, we work to encourage the monarch butterflies to make this their summer home. Milkweed is a pampered plant at the farmette, sometimes growing in terrifically inappropriate places (typical: in front of the garage where the motorbikes are kept, so that if you want to take one out, you have to wiggle your way around the tall stalks).

But the monarchs don't just look for milkweed. They're enticed by many, many blooms. And today, I am thrilled to see them make numerous forays to our gardens.

farmette life-12-2.jpg

There are other details to admire right now and part of the joy is in catching the expected. I know so many of the pairings too well here! I know that this iris will bloom alongside this achillea. And it does, and when it does -- I'm thrilled.

farmette life-16-2.jpg

And now here's a very welcome surprise: the first raspberries are ripening!  Snowdrop will be thrilled with this seasonal development!

farmette life-17-2.jpg

Toward evening, I do my annual takeover of the plowing/mowing at the farmette. Ed does the month to month maintenance, but I do one massive effort to fill in where I think he has too readily looked the other way.

I don't like working the heavy machinery across the rough terrain and I haven't touched some of the wilder regions of the farmette land since my younger daughter's wedding here three years ago.

But I want to bring back the discussion Ed and I have had about what to do with the overgrown fields out back and one way to do it is to plunge into the thicket of weeds and to take stock.

It is a tough job and (predictably) I break the mower forging through the mess out there. But I've made a dent!

(Working the machine across those fields, I again encounter the butterflies that appear to have settled here. No way will I disturb their homes. Swish! Wiggle and zoom around their favorite flower. Ed! I feel car sick!)

farmette life-22-2.jpg

This is our day then. Of little ones and butterflies. Of dances and ripening raspberries. What's there not to like?

Friday, June 23, 2017


I am waiting in line at the coffee shop with Snowdrop after school. The day is a tiny bit chaotic as I'm trying to fit a lot into it. Moreover, I don't know about her, but I had a night of frequently interrupted sleep due to the heavy storms that passed this way again. So I'm patient (if there is one virtue that I think grandparents should cultivate it's patience and so I am forever pausing, thinking, reconsidering...) but at the same time, I am too aware of the ticking clock on a tightly scheduled day.

The customer toward the head of the line wants a sandwich. Darn! The coffee shop staff move at a very slow pace. Ah well, maybe the guy just in front of us wont make great demands on them.

Indeed, he does not.

I'd like a cookie and a coffee, he says and takes out his credit card. (The rule here is that you can't use a card if your order is under $5.) I know this wont add up to $5, so please put whatever she is ordering on my card (he points to me).

In fact, Snowdrop and I always have a carefully calculated snack that totals to just a few cents over $5 so that I can use the card (a scone and a shot of espresso will do it), but he didn't know that.

I remember reading about such a gesture in a Ramona Quimby book -- a favorite series which I devoured with my girls when they were little, and I thought  -- this is so kind, to reach out to strangers in this way, but I've never done it, in part because I'd feel flustered and awkward and timid -- I mean, what if the recipient of a largess felt insulted by it?

Well, I did not feel insulted. I felt that this town (this world) has so many good people in it and here's one of them and isn't that just reason enough to smile!

Let me return now to breakfast which is a tad rushed, because I have groceries to buy and Ed has meetings to attend. I'd picked up fallen flowers, casualties of the storms, and put them in vases and so it surely feels lush on the porch, but we have to make do with an unusually short time to enjoy it.

farmette life-8.jpg

Garden walk.

farmette life-6.jpg

Then the saunter to the various stores, the unpacking, storing, sorting, clearing and now I am off to pick up Snowdrop and we are at the coffee shop.

farmette life-12.jpg

After our neighborhood walk, we have something important to do: the young family is in the middle of purchasing a new home. It's never done until the day everyone signs mountains of paper and shakes hands all around, but if all goes well, the new home is now identified and the back and forth is almost complete. So Snowdrop and I set out to visit it for a quick peek (a first for me... she'd seen it before at an open house).

Of course, she should be napping by now. Instead, she listens to discussions of "a new home" and moving and she senses the enthusiasm for this project which seems rather strange to her, but because she is a cup half full kind of kid, she finds reasons to rejoice and spends a good bit of time running between the bedrooms and finding pleasure in this grand new place by waging a singular marathon in it.

farmette life-19.jpg

Back and forth.

farmette life-21.jpg

And now she is very tired and though my patience quotient is still doing well, hers is wearing thin. I take the little girl back to the farmette and we spend a quiet few minutes cooling off at the wading pool...

farmette life-27.jpg

farmette life-29.jpg

... and eating fruits (I cannot think of a fruit that Snowdrop would reject) and reading books.

farmette life-40.jpg

She naps, I admire the lovely clumps of iris and lavender in the gardens...

farmette life-13-2.jpg

farmette life-15-2.jpg

Nap ends, Snowdrop plays music to celebrate love and friendship. The world seems like such a caring place.

farmette life-12-2.jpg

A little girl, or a stranger in line at a coffee shop can get you to focus and think good thoughts about all that a day puts before you.