Sunday, July 05, 2020

Sunday - 114th

What a strange day! Totally weird, in fact. You know how you sort of have a mental image of how the next day will be? Well I did and then kaboom! It turned out to be nothing, nothing like that. Just weird. Suffice it to say that Ed said "shit" about a dozen times today, which is perhaps more than I had heard out of his mouth in all the years that I've known him. He does not emote with the help of curse words, saving those for animated conversations which sometimes need a little edge to them to make a point.

The day's developments were were just a tiny bit my fault. I woke up at 5 and finding Ed awake next to me and with the computer on, I said -- you know, I'm going to ask for your help with a problem I'm having with my computer.And I explained briefly what the issue is.

[For the techie readers who just can't wait for me to delve into a computer mystery, let me just say that it's a complicated story and has to do with how an Apple computer interfaces with Lightroom photo editing, and how that in turn interfaces with flickr, my photo storage site, and finally, and importantly, how that all interfaces with blogger, my blog hosting service. It turns out that when you take decisive action in one of these, it has consequences for all the rest. Since I have reached capacity on my laptop, I needed to move or delete photo files, triggering a tsunami of unanticipated events. I needed help in figuring some of them out.]

I had intended to leave this question dangling, like an idle thought that you mull over in your spare time, but in fact, Ed went to work on trying to solve just one small piece of the puzzle. In a short while, he told me he had it in hand.

But he didn't have it in hand. And in trying to backtrack and mend some steps he had taken, he managed to delete all photos from the year 2018. (This is where the ten shits were throw in.) As my daughter pointed out later -- ah, the year TWO of your grandchildren were born. Ooops.

The guy spent the rest of the day restoring files and learning how all these programs work together. Not being an Apple guy, or a Photoshop guy, or a flickr guy and certainly not a blogger guy, there was a lot that needed to be explained by me. And so we spent the day thus: him, trying to fix, understand, solve the underlying issues and save my overstuffed computer problem, me, trying to explain all that I knew and assist.

It was noon before we even toyed with the idea of whether to bother with breakfast.

(In the end, we bothered.)

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In the afternoon, Ed continued with his work and came up with some pretty good solutions. I was less help then. I kept saying -- I can't do this now, I have to bake a cake!

And I did -- both have to bake and fix dinner, a somewhat special one because of Snowdrop's half year birthday. (She's five and a half today.)

If yesterday had many, many hours of outdoor work, this day had none. And perhaps that's a good thing: it was hot and steamy and now the bugs are starting to be really irritating, so all in all, nothing out there beckoned. Except maybe this (as seen on one of my quick saunters to feed the animals)...

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Exploding day lilies!

Or this...

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It felt odd to be so housebound. Not at all what I would expect on a sunny summer day. Ed, somewhat groggy from lack of sleep, kept at it, fixing, testing, trying to unravel the secrets of these programs that were messing terribly with my computer and looking for a solution going forward. Me, trying to keep up with dinner prep.

All this was bothersome enough, but then things got even more complicated. A friend called to tell me she was not well. So of course, you leap to the question -- is it CoVid? And yes, she will have been tested and she'll know in a few days, but she had one of those stories of many hours of waiting in the hot hot sun (despite feeling unwell) to procure a test and you sort of have to wonder -- why does every aspect of this problem have to be this hard?

Not everything about this day spelled trouble. In the evening, the young family was here for dinner and it was indeed the little girl's half birthday and though we don't typically make a fuss on half-a-year days, this year she did get a cake and a dinner of favorites out of me.

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Five and a half.

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(Just two)

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(Not sure about those sparklers...)

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(Even as her mommy loves them.)

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Gaga, can I have a picture with you??

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(Let's get Sparrow in on this...)

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She was overjoyed and said many sweet things all evening long and honestly, seeing a happy child does bring you out of your own internal spin and so the evening ended late for me, for Ed, but it ended on an upnote on all fronts. Grandkids are happy, the computer issues are getting close to a solution, my friend is feeling a little better.

But my oh my, what a strange and electrifying day!

And the moon keeps shining as if nothing happened, as if it was just another July Buck Moon, shining brightly, letting us know that we are small potatoes in the scheme of things, that life goes on, no matter how weird the day may be.

Saturday, July 04, 2020

Saturday - 113th

Kids keep you sane. Without their presence in your life, you can easily spin into regrettable behaviors. This day surely is proof of it. See if you don't agree:

Fourth of July. It's a holiday that I think about, of course, even though I'm never quite as enthusiastic about traditional celebratory activities as most people appear to be. Typically it's hot and buggy outside. Parades, military fly-overs -- well, I'm not a fan of them on any holiday, unless it's Thanksgiving and you have it on the TV in the background and the things that are flying over are huge balloons of Peanuts characters. I suppose having been raised in a (so-called) communist country, where parading success, real or imagined, and glossing over failures was the norm, I tend to shy away from this kind of stuff, preferring humbler displays of pride in country. Kids on bikes and trikes with red white and blue streamers seem so perfect, no?

I do like food traditions and Fourth of July has a lot of good edibles associated with it, so there's that. But then come the fireworks. Neither Ed nor I especially like fireworks. And so this day, this historically important day (why the fourth, when the vote for independence actually took place on the 2nd?), is a time to skew dinner toward the traditional grilled foods and to think, especially this year, about the significance of historic events in the evolution of this country and about the people who contributed their heart and soul to improving the lives of others.

So, bottom line -- we keep things simple, contemplative, and quiet. And yummy!

As predicted, it is hot outside. High near 90F (32C). And sticky. Flies buzz and it's not a lazy buzz, it's an "I'm going to get you!" buzz that you feel obliged to swat at, just in case it's a horse fly. I feed the animals and consider what's next. Surely I have to fill out tax forms. And clean the house so that it shines! We have floor cleaning stuff. We have rags. Ed promised to help.

But first, breakfast.

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I had started in on cleaning, but now, having spent the morning meal gazing out on the flower beds, I cannot turn my back and go inside.

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It's the first day in several weeks without kids here and I feel I need to catch up with weeding and a bit of watering.

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And then it all spins out of control. Without the need to stop for kids, for anything actually, I don't bother looking at the clock and work from one bed to the next, pulling out one weed after another. I work all the flower fields but two (so seven in all). And the temperature climbs and the sun is hot and flies buzz and yet I do not take a pause, but continue to work and pull and dig until I haven't a single ounce of oomph left in me. Hands take on blisters, nails break, and still I keep digging and pulling and in some instances, dousing with water.

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You'd think I'd stop by mid afternoon, but I do not. I mow down paths across our grassy swaths of land and Ed and I speculate about planting more wildflowers and keeping our mowed  paths interesting and inviting going forward.

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This year, since we no longer mow most of the farmette grasses, we have an enormous number of frogs showing up -- tiny ones, big ones, brown ones, green ones. And, too, dragon flies and damsel flies. Ed's enchanted by it all. I am too.

Late afternoon. This is not time to start in on the taxes. I pick up a few rags and attack the floor. Between the two of us, we manage to wipe down a lot if not all of the farmhouse hardwood floors.

Evening. Grilled brats with sauerkraut, the very last of Matt's asparagus, lettuce from our own lettuce patch, berries from our bushes...

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... pea pods and scallions from our CSA box.

To say I am spent understates things for sure. Still, it's the fourth. Look outside, if not at fireworks, then at the full moon that shines brightly on all of us, equally, tonight.

Friday, July 03, 2020

Friday - 112th

 A full day. A hot, steamy, sweaty full full day.

I know, I know, we are all having unusually full days. Except those who feel emptied out and left dangling. So, let's just say we're all having unusual days.

I'm up super early. Ed's up super early. With eyes half closed, he tells me, at 6 am, that he has to fix a board up on the porch roof. I don't know why he finds this to be the right time for it: maybe he wants to avoid the heat. Maybe he was dreaming of roofs. In any case, he climbs out the upstairs window as I go feed the animals.

(on the way back from the barn and sheep shed, I throw a glance out on the Big Bed...)

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Here's another day lily! There will come a time (very soon) when there will be hundreds of them. Right now, I rejoice whenever a new one bursts open.

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Hi, Ed.

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I turn my attention to grocery delivery. If we are in isolation a year from now (making it the 477th day of isolation), I'll know not to order produce the day before the 4th of July, especially if it's something people might want for their red white and blue celebration (corn, strawberries, etc...). It's either not available, or way past the sell-by date.

Breakfast. Under the porch roof, which is now fixed.

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The day is a little different in that Snowdrop has a school Zoom meeting early in the morning, after which I am to bring her here (by herself) for the better part of the day. There are a number of good reasons for this new Friday plan. For one thing, it gives us a chance to do some stuff that's tough to accomplish when I'm chasing her sweet two year old brother.

(on arrival, she finds a lavender sprig..)

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I start off by suggesting an art project. I am not a clever craft person, but her school sent some ideas of things you might paint and make with your kids at home and I'm happy to give those a spin.

There is a very clever way of making puppets on sticks -- I tell her.
She listens to my outline of the steps. Nope, she has a better idea. She wants to do an art project with the dolls (she has two that are, according to her, school aged).
Making puppets?
No. We'll do inspire-ist art.
Inspire-ist art? Where did you get it from?
Up in my brain. Here's what we do...

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At lunch time, she asks me to eat with her. Typically I don't eat lunch with the kids. They are hungry far too early and, too, our lunch menu choices often don't overlap.

But today, I join her.

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She looks at my jar of strawberry rhubarb jam.
Can I try some?
Of course.
I give her a spoonful, then another. It is the best thing that I have ever eaten!  Snowdrop has a lot of enthusiasm for foods in her.

Ed has been itching to make some ice cream "the old fashioned way." Put ingredients in a jar, shake vigorously, freeze. We do that this afternoon.

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(she's timing him on his jar shaking)

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I can't imagine it will be as wonderful as the stuff we sometimes make in the ice cream machine, but the process of doing it this way is definitely fun for a five year old.

And now we are back to art and Snowdrop does start sketching a new book, but then decides it's more fun to help me with my own drawing...

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And now it's nearly evening. Time to go home. And still, I feel we should take one more walk out toward the farmette meadows, because it is summer and these walks are so calming and restorative. Ed comes with us. He's eager to show Snowdrop where the damsel flies (what us normal folk would simply call dragon flies) hang out. 

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And to lead her to the few places where she can find some raspberries...

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And now it is time for me to take her home.

(Driving past the front bed, I notice the first nasturtium are opening up...)

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Evening. Ed thinks we should finish harvesting the cherries. It's hot, but he perseveres...

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I return to the farmhouse to water the pots. Oh, you may wonder what the tall green shoots are toward the front right. It's garlic, growing randomly in the courtyard. We think it may have seeded from the compost pile. Lots and lots of garlic. Nature can play funny tricks on you.

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A hot day, a warm eve. A holiday weekend for many. We're hearing the bang kaboom as we speak. Happy fourth. Healthy fourth. Fire up a grill and burn the stuffing out of some meats and veggies!

With love.

Thursday, July 02, 2020

Thursday - 111th

The second day of July rolls in hot and steamy. And green. Looking out on my Big Bed this morning, I see a lot of buds, but not many blooms yet.

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Yes, the lemon yellow day lilies are popping out in many other beds, but I'm waiting for the other colorful varieties to take over. Well now, here's one!

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The true lilies -- the oriental and trumpet tall girls (real name: "lilium") are ahead of the day lilies (real name: "hemerocallis," translated as day beauty from Greek). You can see both the orange and yellow spikes here. And there are more and they are just about ready to flower.

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So, bottom flower line: we're at the cusp of the big bang. But not there yet.

As I walk back to the farmhouse after animal feeding, the adult swallows come out and swoop around the courtyard. They want to appear aggressive. The cats have stayed away from their garage nest, full of little ones. I'm glad.

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Dance, keeping a low profile in the courtyard.

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Oh, and a random note: we wintered over three big pots in the sheep shed. Two looked like death had struck early. But lo! Outside again, in the warmth of a summer season, they're happy and thriving. Here's one:

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Okay, back to the morning. And guess who calls me at breakfast time?? Yes! Little Primrose. We talk peaches and blueberries.

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And after, I get this guy to come down and join me for our porch morning meal.

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Phew, busy enough morning for you? In the nicest way.

The kids arrive just as Ed and I wolf down the last piece of peach.

It is hot. There are bugs, but in tolerable quantities. (Should we thank the swallows? Typically by now we are overwhelmed by mosquitoes. Oh, but this year is not typical. Not by a long shot.) I don't really need to apply super duper repellents, though I do spritz them with the "natural" stuff that makes you feel like you did something, even though you know the bugs are laughing themselves silly at your efforts.

We walk over to the young orchard.

The chickens are coming, the chickens are coming!

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Snowdrop hops on the ladder and reaches for a few cherries that have yet to have the imprint of hungry birds.

Sparrow does agree to try the ladder. At two, he can hang in there, but he's not going to scale it high enough to pick any cherries. Though I'm sure he'd be happy to keep up with his sister, in all but the actual eating of the fruit.

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Walking back, a pause to play with the weeping swaying lovely willows.

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Sparrow's affection for Happy, the rooster, is strong and ever-present. Even with windows closed, we can faintly hear Happy's rooster cry (the bird never shuts up). Sparrow always perks up and  acknowledges the crow with a happy "Happy!"

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Inside: loving the cool air after our hot walk.

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Somewhere in the middle of the morning, I abandon all school-like schedules and offer them water play. On the porch, so bug free.

It's amazing to me how much they still enjoy this silly tub of a wading pool! I've thought about upgrading it somewhat but decided there's no need: they have a better deal at home. Here, it's just a fun occasional soak in cold water on a hot hot day

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Our not so feral feral queen, Dance, is no longer afraid of the two kids. She naps through their raucous, wet play.

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Both Snowdrop and Sparrow insist on dumping every old pool toy in the wading tub. I never acquired anything interesting or elaborate for it, but they claim every last silly bug, boat, cup and bucket is important.

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Lunch is very late.

Later, much later, when the kids are home and the cats, chickens and swallows are resting somewhere, Ed asks -- want to go for a walk?

I do. A real walk along a real path. I now I vowed not to return to our county park until the virus was history and at least three seasons have come and gone, but still, maybe we can sneak in a late walk? I mean, who goes hiking at 5 in the evening?

We hop on his motorbike and head out.

There are some beautiful moments. The prairie is thick with future blooms. We see all our favorite pals: birds, bees, bunnies, dragonflies. And not a person in sight.

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But as we cut through the forest, the bugs pick up considerably. So maybe this will be our last summer walk here?

Who can tell.

Evening. Lentil soup, salads, and sweet peas from our CSA box.

Summer foods for a summer mood.