Monday, July 17, 2017


When I do a thorough farmhouse cleaning, typically, as this week, on a Sunday, I tell Ed to please keep things squeaky clean for that one day. I don't set (many) (any?) rules as to how things should be the rest of the week. We muddle through: he tries to remember to be at least a little orderly and I silently straighten things that I cannot ignore. The farmhouse is our home and it has to be comfortable for the person who is fussy and for the person who is the antithesis of fussy.

But as I step out into the garden this morning, it strikes me that raising day lilies is like letting a hundred Eds loose each day, without any rules or requests. Why? Well it's obvious: yesterday's perfection is today's spent garden. All those lovely trumpets are long gone. New ones will have emerged, but the old ones droop and wither, ruining, or at least diminishing the aesthetic somewhat.

All this to say that I really do like to spend the prebreakfast hour tidying things up a bit, even if it means I have to wage war with the mosquitoes. To me, it's worth it.

(I do not have favorites in the garden, but these beautiful trumpets take my breath away each year. In the past, I've paired the photo with Bach music clips. So sing to yourself a favorite Bach melody!)

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I do not aim for perfection, just (as in the farmhouse) a modicum of visual loveliness.

(These "girls" remind me of a flight of butterflies...)

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(Speaking of girls, here are the two who rarely scratch in the summer months; mostly they hide under the cars, but one loud "cheepers!" call is enough to have them come running for the usual scraps of bread.)

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Breakfast: long and lovely. It is the perfect weather day. Zero complaints. Totally perfect.

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For the rest of the morning, I go out in ten or twenty minute spurts -- to pick over the grand bed...

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... and the front road bed (seen here from another corner).

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It's a well known fact that achieving success, however you want to measure it, requires effort. And so I slap away the mosquitoes and tend the flowers. Yes, it's worth it.

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When I pick up Snowdrop, she asks immediately if we can go the pool.
We don't need to go to the play ground or coffee shop, Gaga. We can go straight to the swimming pool.

The good news is that I am prepared for swimming, but of course, we have to kill time before the pool opens later in the afternoon.

We play games at the play ground. (Hey, gaga, you go to that house and I'll go to this house and then I'll climb up here and hey, you can go up there ... etc. "Hey" is a favorite word of hers these days.)

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At the pool, we are, as always, right at the opening hour. So yes, Snowdrop has her sublime moments of total quiet, before the crowd descends. Or perhaps I'm the one who enjoys the stillness. She rather likes watching all the kids play.

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But here's a surprise:  in the ninety minutes we are there, only one school bus delivers kids from some program or other (last week, one very warm day had twelve buses here). Perhaps pool comes as a reward for a few days of work? I cannot tell.

(Snowdrop is delighted to have baby with her again. She is a nonstop chatter box and baby gets a lot of advice, reassurance and instruction, as well as a few tosses!)

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I consider myself to be a rather hovering type of grandma. I do not necessarily think this is a good thing, but I cannot help it and surely in the swimming situation, better oversight is just fine. But it's so easy to miss something! As Snowdrop roams the pool (she is getting more adventurous each time we're here), I watch for a few seconds another child managing a difficult social situation. I then turn my head toward Snowdrop, only to see her completely submerged. Perhaps she tumbled. She is certainly up and laughing quickly enough. But I have to say, I am glad that, in addition to my presence, the pool is well staffed with a whole crew of roaming life guards. For that moment when, like me, you get momentarily distracted.

(A favorite Snowdrop activity: to go out and run in screaming. Like the big kids!)

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(At the farmhouse, dressed up and ready to play. Can I ride the bicycle? No! It's time for a book and a nap!)

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I think I wore her out today. Or, more accurately -- she wore herself out. She sleeps a good long time.

(What's this around her mouth? Oh, she spied a leftover cupcake from Saturday's party.)

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A more serious dance around the living room...

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... and she's whisked away home.

I settle into evening routines, but with windows wide open. It really is a gorgeous evening! Too, I'm pan frying fish. The fragrance of fish goes out, the smell of summer comes in.

It's hard to get me to do anything big or bold after dinner, but today is somehow different. Is it the perfect weather? The beauty of a summer evening that's flawed only by the bugs close to the land?

You want to play tennis?

Without hesitation, Ed is up and we're headed toward his motorcycle. But here's a surprise: our favorite hidden and not really well tended tennis courts are being used!

How about the ones near the lake? Those are even more dilapidated. Surely no one will be there.

Indeed. These Lake Waubesa courts have weeds growing in every crevice and believe me, there are chips and crevices throughout. The net is missing. The place is a mess.

But we're here and we haven't another option and so we give it a try.

And I swear, we have one of our better games ever. Perhaps it's that it doesn't matter. When you are faced with ideal conditions, maybe the pressure does its work on you. It feels like you are being watched and judged. Here, you are doing the courts a favor just by showing up. In the same way that any garden pruning that I do, under adverse conditions, is a glorious benefit. Who cares that it's far from perfect?

The air is cool now. Ideal sleeping weather. But who wants to sleep when the evening is this grand?