Tuesday, October 31, 2017

chilly day for trick-or-treeters

They say it hasn't been this cold in Madison on Halloween since oh, some twenty years ago -- meaning, before any of today's trick-or-treaters were even born. We're at 34F (just 1C) when the kids set out at dusk. Brrr!

The cold of this day kept me inside all morning.


farmette life-2.jpg

...Followed by long hours of occupied couches: we have two in the farmhouse. Ed sprawled on the longer couch (which is just a tad too short to support his long frame) and I sprawled on the shorter one (which is just a tad too short to support my overage frame) and we both succumbed to a bit of indulgent rest time, losing ourselves in our books and various readings.

Cold as it is right now, I don't believe the farmette ever felt the deep freeze of this past weekend. A few of my annuals are still showing off their colors. You wouldn't see that after a hard frost.

farmette life-3.jpg

And still, it is chilly.

When I pick up Snowdrop, she runs to the door to get going on our adventure. I call her back for her jacket. She tells me -- grandma, it's hot outside!
No way, Snowdrop. No way.

farmette life-6.jpg

She is, however, insanely proud of her hair bow and so she remains hatless. Perhaps for this reason, she is willing to call it quits after just a handful of minutes on the playground.

farmette life-24.jpg

(At the farmhouse, stealing a cookie...)

farmette life-32.jpg

At some point, she tells me that her bow is clipped in the wrong place. Here, on top of head, grandma! 

farmette life-37.jpg

Her parents come, ready to take her out for trick-or-treating...

farmette life-43.jpg

I ask later on if it went well.
Of course it did! Two years old, but happy to run up to a home and ask for candy!

With several sweaters filling her cookie monster suit, I don't think she ever noticed that it was barely above freezing!

farmette life-40.jpg

Monday, October 30, 2017

knowing my way around

I listened in on a conversation between my daughters this week-end. My younger girl had been driving to her sister's house and she noted how she felt a swell of nostalgia as she drove the same route that would have taken her to her own childhood home. (My older daughter lives not too far from where they grew up.)

None of us -- not my daughters nor I -- are especially parochial in our orientations. They've traveled and they've lived for many years on the eastern coast. Me, well, you know me: if given a chance, I will fly to the other side of the ocean at a snap. And yet, in many ways, we are all attached to Madison. The littlest one got married here. The older one moved back here. Me -- well, I've never left and I never want to leave, Ed's suggestion that we relocate to New Zealand notwithstanding.


farmette life-1.jpg

Madison is not a large city. I got some ribbing from family and friends when I settled here. I can't believe this is where you chose to live -- my father said during one of his infrequent visits (why come here? what's there to do?). But the longer I live here, the more I like living here. (Though the farmhouse is in a rural landscape, we are fewer than two minutes from the boundary line with Madison, so I don't think I've quite abandoned the city.)

One benefit of never leaving a place that has been home for much of your entire adulthood (and into your senior years!) is that you get to know nearly everything about it. Take October: I know that in the first week or two, going to the Arboretum will be worth your while. It's gorgeous then! (But not in all segments of this vast space! I know which are the best for a quick, colorful peak!) Come Halloween, I know to switch my focus: the best spot then is Owen Woods (aka Owen Conservation Park). It's astonishingly beautiful!

I have an appointment close to Owen Park in the morning and afterwards, I have a wee bit of time to kill before I have to pick up Snowdrop. It's a no-brainer. I head to Owen Woods.

farmette life-21.jpg

It's cold today! Near 40F (right about 4C) and windy! But, in the noon hour, the sky clears just occasionally and in any case, I'm walking briskly!

farmette life-16.jpg

It is a gorgeous woodland...

farmette life-12.jpg

... and prairie.

farmette life-17.jpg

The entire park is nearly always empty and I think how lucky I am to have it in my pocket for these small adventures.

farmette life-24.jpg

When I pick up Snowdrop, I consider returning with her to Owen Woods, but the weather deteriorates significantly and I decide to stick to more familiar routines. They include walking to the park...

farmette life-33.jpg

I bundle her against the winds and she is just delighted to play, wrappings and all...

farmette life-40.jpg

But after a while, she admits to being cold.  It could be that she is tired (no nap today). I surely am happy to retreat. Even with mitts, cap and my winter jacket, I am just barely pleased to be outside.

farmette life-44.jpg

We come back to the farmhouse and we continue our game of "school."

Want to draw with me?
Of course I do!

farmette life-47.jpg

Nap time! Snack time! Group time! Potty time! Book time! -- We go through all the familiar sequences of her school day.

Outdoor ball game time!

farmette life-70.jpg

I have a book that I picked up for Snowdrop. It's called "This Beautiful Day." It hit a chord with me because nearly every day when the little girl and I walk her school neighborhood, I sing to her a (made-up) song about how beautiful is the day when she and I walk together. The book, too, considers even the most cloudy, blistery days as being quite possibly very beautiful

I would say that today is like that: cold, blustery, sometimes wet. But so very gorgeous.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

family at the table redux

That table -- with food, flowers, family... It makes an appearance again and again this weekend.

(Morning pre-breakfast with Ed...)

farmette life-2.jpg

Brunch is nearly always the meal that draws a visit to a close. We're at Forequarter... The young family, the young couple -- all here, much to Snowdrop's joy.

farmette life-7.jpg

(Even as Snowdrop never forgets that there is a Gaga in this midst - one with a very welcoming lap.)

farmette life-9.jpg

She asks to draw. She wants to improve and she fills a page of her Moleskin notebook with intricate designs...

farmette life-12.jpg

And the food comes and we dig in...

farmette life-17.jpg

(What is everyone talking about?)

farmette life-19.jpg

One last piece of bacon...

farmette life-20.jpg

And then I say my goodbyes and drive home.

(November colors...)

farmette life-25.jpg

One last Sunday table: an evening family meal at the farmhouse. A smaller group and nothing ambitious -- but still fresh and honest.

Snowdrop leans on Ed's knee and urges him to leave the news magazine and play...

farmette life-6.jpg

He never says no to her...

Hey, you two! It's dinner time!

farmette life-8.jpg

We eat, they leave, and then I lose myself to my thoughts and reflections. So much to think about, so much to love!

Saturday, October 28, 2017

family at the table

As you add years to your belt, you change -- a little, a lot, in this way and that. But there is one thing within me that has stayed the same: I have always held the belief that a well cooked meal, prepared in the company of your beloveds, then eaten together around one big table, is one of the most valuable and infinitely pleasurable experiences you can have in any ordinary day.

Today was to be a cooking day and it did deliver some incredible moments for all of us.

But let's roll the day back to the beginning -- not an ordinary beginning to be sure.

I wanted to clean the farmhouse from top to bottom.


And so Ed slept and I cleaned.

He wakes and asks -- why didn't you ask me to help? I smile indulgently. From top to bottom. He can't do from top to bottom. Only I can.

We sit down to a pre-breakfast of fruit...

farmette life-4.jpg

And then I harvest the last of the flowers that wont withstand the deep freeze that will come tonight, while the cheepers watch...

farmette life-6.jpg

(Irises! Lavender!)

farmette life-7.jpg

And now it is noon and the young couple arrives with lunch for us and it is one beautiful, heartwarming meal!

farmette life-12.jpg

Immediately after, my younger girl and I roll up our sleeves, don our aprons (sewn for us by my ever wonderful sister in Warsaw) and get to work.

The menu is ambitious in that it is labor intensive: stuffed agnolotti, a kohlrabi frisee salad, apple crisp with ice cream.

Agnolotti are tiny funny shaped stuffed pasta pockets. We are pros! We've made pasta dishes before (gulp! it's been a while...)! We get to it. Ed and my son-in-law leave us to play disc golf. My daughter and I revel in the smells of roasting squash, garlic and sage.

She stuffs the little pockets expertly. Hundreds of little pockets! (We will eat them all!)...

And in the late afternoon the young family arrives and Snowdrop is just so excited!!

farmette life-21.jpg

But oh, how she has grown! She is happy to play food games with her uncle,  do a complicated puzzle with her dad...

farmette life-28.jpg

... or to run up for a hug from her aunt...

farmette life-40.jpg

And our cooking work continues, with only a momentary break for a picture...

farmette life-33.jpg

As dinner approaches, we gather in the kitchen...

farmette life-44.jpg

... and soon, very soon, dinner is served!

farmette life-50.jpg

I think Snowdrop says it best when she looks radiantly around her and exclaims -- our big family is here!

farmette life-54.jpg


The little girl's smile is ferociously sublime!

farmette life-61.jpg

She launches into a story  -- with all the gesticulations and exclamations that are so her own!

farmette life-67.jpg

When nudged to eat more, she demures and tell us -- I'm sorry, I'm busy talking!

farmette life-69.jpg

You cannot help yourself -- you just laugh and laugh, because, well, just because! Does there have to be a reason?

A most perfect day. I'll remember it for a long, long time.

Friday, October 27, 2017


Tomorrow night comes the deep freeze. One such event and the growing season comes to a crashing close. Nature can be brutal.

You want to be prepared. But you're never fully prepared. Have I forgotten something??

But first comes breakfast.

farmette life-1.jpg

Then grocery shopping. It's not just the regular weekly trip to the store: we're planning a big time cooking marathon tomorrow. I have to keep the ingredients straight!

In a normal week, I would then pick up Snowdrop, but this week is unusual in that her school (and every other school in Wisconsin) is closed for staff inservice. As I wait for her dad to drop her at the farmette in the afternoon, I go over to the truck farmers fields to the east of us. The dahlias are in full bloom. I know that the farmer stocks the Saturday market, but he seems to have given up on this field of half faded blooms. He'd always encouraged us to pick what we want. Now is the time to pick.

The farmhouse is full of dahlias.

farmette life-1-2.jpg

Dahlias everywhere!

farmette life-2.jpg

Snowdrop comes over just about the same time that the farmer drives up to survey what's left of his flower field. Most of the blooms are past their prime. As always, he tells me to pick my fill. And as always, he wont accept payment. We do each other countless favors. I am happy to hear that he plans on planting even more flowers here next summer.

Next summer! That's not too far! And in the meantime, the cheepers hover and Snowdrop enjoys the freedom of plucking her favorite blooms.

farmette life-17.jpg

(These are they!)

farmette life-22.jpg

Inside again (oh, does it feel good to be in a warm farmhouse after the hefty winds outside!), I suggest we play school. Snowdrop considers this to be a splendid idea and for the next couple of hours, she is the teacher and I and her babies are the neophytes, navigating our way through the complicated educational system, with one one helpful (two year old) teacher (Snowdrop) as our guide. Luckily, she is warm and gracious, so we manage quite well.

farmette life-35.jpg

(Reassuring the baby that she will learn to draw circles... one of these days.)

farmette life-36.jpg

In other news:

Late, very late, Ed drives out to our local bigbox to pick up a disc (for the final day or two of disc golf!). I passed on the chance to replace what I already have. Instead, I rifle through my iTunes and listen to music.

I listen to a song I loved oh some ten years ago, when visiting my younger girl at Law School.

These days, she and her husband live just three hours south of me and still, I travel down to see them far too rarely. When they come up here on a weekend, it becomes intensely their weekend, because it is just so thrilling to have them in our midst again.

They're coming to Madison tomorrow and even Snowdrop knows this -- we've been talking about it for days!

I look at the littlest one and I wonder: will her mommy miss her someday as much as I miss my youngest one? 

farmette life-43.jpg

Still, we are all within spittin' distance of each other. A drive away, nothing more. How grand is that!