Wednesday, November 30, 2011

last day of November

Okay, surely this is the last time! I know student types bike through snow drifts, but today is plenty cold for me. Though sunny, too and so out comes Mr. Red.  Pedal on!


Though if you can’t see the ice forming on this inlet, it’s because my photo isn’t good enough to show it off.


Coming home is tougher.


A tired and hungry person should not be climbing hills that lead up to the farmette.


It can make one grumpy. As I park the bike (for the season?) in the garage shed, I pick up nearby clippers. I may as well cut back the rose bush that extends too far over the path to the door of the farmhouse. As I snap away, backpack tossed to the side, the prickly twigs grab my coat and hold on. I call out to Ed who is standing nearby -- Ed, could you help me please? 

That phrase “Ed, could you help me please” is dangerously prominent in my everyday. Ed, the shower handle is loose. Ed, why isn’t the outdoor thermometer working? In past years, I’d discard broken things that I couldn’t fix (that would be a good 75% of broken anything). Or I’d live with the deformity. Or hire someone. I realize how easy it is to say now -- Ed, the coat hook is loose, the twig has grabbed my coat, the water heater is off again, the Christmas tree stand is missing a screw (all these from the last week alone).

It would never have entered my mind to carefully allocate tasks between Ed and myself in these times that we've hung out together. It happened almost intuitively. And they're unbelievably gendered allocations. Ed, don’t wash that – you don’t use warm water or soap, just let me do it. Ed, I’ll be downtown today, let me pick up the groceries. Ed, can I get you a bubbly? (I have slipped into his quirky vocabulary here) a blanket? a clean shirt?

As Ed plucks bramble twigs from my coat, I relax. But not totally yet. This semester has been menacing with my sanity. It'll take me a while to let go of it all.

We drive to the café where I have a shot of coffee and Ed dozes.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

city lights

One aspect of this day was predictable: Tuesday. Many classes to teach. Early wake up, early everything, followed by a late return. Nothing new there.

On the return end, I paused. City time. A haircut (it’s been seven months since I had one! Jason, my former haircut man, would cringe). A glass of wine...

DSC09690 - Version 2

...dinner with a friend.

An urban dweller’s everyday. A dazzling step out of the ordinary for me.

Afterwards, I drove home to the country, where Ed never even noticed the haircut, but my sweats and red plaid flannel shirt and Isis were waiting. The lovely predictability of home.

Monday, November 28, 2011

the Monday after

The Honey Wagon came to the farmhouse today. $500 later, my landlord sent him on his way.

That’s a lot of honey, no?

Don’t be misled. The “Honey Wagon” is merely a name for a company that comes to clear, inspect, possibly fix your septic tank. By the price of things you’ll know that our problem was thankfully small. Another blocked pipe – the one leading out to the drain field.

Right now we have the cleanest septic tank this side of the Mississippi. So much so that I almost don’t want to, well, pollute it.

In fact, I am delighted that there was a quick and ready solution. Ed and I talked about possible scenarios should it become necessary to reconstruct the entire farmette septic system. I spoke in favor of extended-stay motels. He mused about roughing it. I am delighted that we did not have to flip a coin on those two choices.

It was, otherwise, a long day. I’ll have a week of long days, as I want so much to be able to take a break starting late next week. Work madness followed by weeks of near-calm. It's a pattern for me. I've gotten to almost like it.

In the meantime, you’ll be amused to know that Ed is packing up our beautiful, wonderful, addictive big screen TV. He found a better deal on this Cyber Monday. I know he’s hoping, too, for a set with a better tuner. Right now, antenna notwithstanding, every time someone walks in front of it, the picture freezes for a second. Ed tells me, not incorrectly – we’ll have this set for twenty years. How long before you, too, get irritated by it? So, the saga of the set continues.

But as I return to the farmhouse late, to that faint golden glow of the outdoor lamp, a half cloaked moon, an almost dark sky, I think these days are, well, quite heavenly.


Sunday, November 27, 2011

slow to post today?

Tired, discouraged, overworked. But wait, doesn’t that describe any number of Fall Semester days? What’s different about this day? The gray skies? Eh, that’s November for you. So what is it that made it so top heavy, so monstrously difficult to navigate?

Blame it on the cat.

Please do note that he is “the cat” when I am ready to claw him to pieces. He is Isis at all other times.

The cat has things well sorted in his little head. Saunter over in the evening. Watch a little TV, saunter out, then in, then out then, just as the farmhouse inhabitants are getting heavy eyed – in again.

We go upstairs, the cat goes upstairs. He crawls all over. Ed tries to keep him to one unobtrusive spot on the bed. Ed fails. One hour, two, the cat jumps down and makes noises, weird noises, I want you to come down with me noises. Ed goes down, lets him out. Ed comes back up, the sensor/doorbell chimes. It’s the cat again, reconsidering.

We repeat this little game for the better part of the night. By 5 or 6, the cat settles down. At my feet. Meaning I cannot move my feet lest I knock the cat down. Mustn’t disturb his delicate nature. I stay still.

By 8, the cat wants to go out one last time and he stays out then and I fall into deep slumber. Finally. But only for a brief hour. Because even though it’s Sunday, I’ve got work to do and cat or no cat, I must attend to it.

But I am tired.

If I had wanted a robust outdoorsy Sunday, it was not to be. I walked the farmette property. I admired the steely blue fields to our north...


I absolutely loved seeing the Caribbean sunshine yellow of the farmhouse against the otherwise un-Caribbean colors of late November (even as I had to shake my head at the willow branches -- innocent and bare now, deceptively delicate, but I know better -- ready to attack any pipe that comes within spittin' distance of its stubborn root system).


Then I returned inside and worked some more.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

...on a pear tree

For several weeks now, I’ve been saying this to Ed – it’s is last warm day... you should paint, you wont be able to do it again until spring!

But today, I think I'm right.

There isn’t a lot left – the wall behind the screen porch (who can even tell from the outside...), the dormer to the west. And I don’t really mind anymore. The house looks good and yellow, or yellow and therefore good. I’m happy. And still, Ed picks up the brush and sits down in the dry porch area to paint.

Even as today, I really say these words (it’s the last warm day...) more to myself than to him. To prod me into realization. We’re dropping down in temperatures significantly next week.

So, rather than bemoan the drizzly soppiness of the day, let me remember it for its unique warm loveliness. Especially as witnessed against a now Caribbean Sunshine Yellow house.


The weekend is a quiet one. Before the storm of December shenanigans. Isis comes and goes, I write exams, watch movies with Ed... We’re waiting until businesses open on Monday to attack the sewage issues. No real pressures today or tomorrow.

Though you have to look hard to find the pretty details, the things of color, the odd piece of fruit still clinging to the pear tree. No partridge. Just a pear -- oddly shaped, tough, but golden.


Turkey soup for dinner. With lime and avocado and chilies.  There is no better leftover food, eaten on quiet leftover days.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving reconsidered

By now, of course, it’s all a crazy and yet wonderful blur. Late Wednesday, four men working in the basement to unplug a pipe leading to the septic tank. Roots, coming out in bundles, like black fishermen’s nets tangled with seaweed. Laborious task. Reinforcements called in. Smells of baking pumpkin cheesecake should be filling the air. Instead, in the basement at least, there is faint odor of sewage.

The 100 feet of pipe is unplugged. They’ve paced it out, they know the length of it, the snake that pushes through appears to have made it all the way to the tank.

So why is the water backing up still?

The men pack up their machines and head out. You have a major problem – the lead guy tells us. Backed up tank maybe. Or worse, your drainage field’s not working. Dig out the manhole tomorrow. See where the sewage level’s at.

Thanksgiving morning. The golden grain was gathered all, the maize the nuts and the fruits of fall... a childhood song that I remember.

Ed has been digging since sunrise, uncovering the manhole to the tank. Looks awfully full in there. Still, for the time being we appear to be (cross your fingers here) okay. The system, however troubled, allows for some water usage. There’s a failure somewhere and quite likely we’re a hair’s breadth away from having to replace the entire sewage system at the farmette, but right now the water has resumed draining. To a dangerously high tank, but still, it’s draining.

Ed gives the thumbs up, for today at least. Proceed as usual. We’ll attend to the problem tomorrow. Okay, fine, but how do I make up for the lost yesterday?

I’m on track with breakfast. Sometime in the night I made the cinnamon rolls. Yeasty, spicy, rising now, ready to bake. Easy. They come out hot just as daughters, one boyfriend (other one has left to be with his clan) and Ed come together for the morning meal.

DSC00552 - Version 2

Lunch is easy, too. Traditional favorites. Squash soup with goat cheese herbed dumplings and chive scones. Daughter helps, food’s ready in good time.

DSC00557 - Version 2



But as my girl and I clear the table and attack the dinner menu, I realize that not baking the dessert earlier is going to be a problem. The pumpkin swirl cheesecake is ridiculously complicated. I hadn’t bothered reading through the recipe. Bake your own fresh ginger cookies for the crust? You’ve got to be kidding.


After, bake the crumbled cookie crust for a half hour, then, finally, bake the whole cake in a water bath, steaming it in a slow oven for two hours. Really? And when does the turkey get its turn? And the sweet potato rounds? And the cranberry muffins?

As the cookies bake, my younger girl and I take a break. She lives in the city. My mothering ways tell me she needs fresh air. Can’t do anything with the oven in use anyway. We walk across the fields...


Down to where the deer play. You can’t see them through my camera lens, but they’re there, distantly, specs of graceful movement.

It’s late. At the farmhouse we move into high gear. Both daughters and boyfriend are in the kitchen now, cooking chopping, moving from one dish to the next. The cheesecake is out. As I stuff the last herbs under the skin of the bird, we plunge the muffins in for a quick bake. Finally, at 5:35, I put in the turkey.

Meanwhile, we munch on appetizers – the sweet potato, the fried sage. Cheeses, artichoke bits, smoked salmon...



...and we take a break for a movie. And then my little one and I race to the finish line. Turkey’s out, mushrooms are browning in butter, brussel sprouts are pan roasting. Potatoes are tender, ready for mashing, cranberries are ready, corn needs a swirl with the chipotles.

DSC00598 - Version 2

We sit down to dinner just before 9. Within the acceptable time frame of this holiday, no?


Oh, yes, the pumpkin swirl cheesecake with the ginger cookie crust. That too.


Today, we recover. Ed and I weigh the probability of bypassing a major retrenching of the sewage system. Not even a small chance. We check levels, measure distances, look at the original plans of pipes and tanks made up for the previous farmhouse owners. Looks like the next weeks will focus Ed’s attention on this major project. For today, he finishes painting the outside farmhouse trim. How fortuitous that the painting project is nearing completion (except for one dormer – saved for spring now, for sure)!

In the late afternoon, Ed drives a captured mouse from the sheepshed. Isis is getting mouse lazy. Spending too much time moving from lap to lap, watching movies with us at the farmhouse.

Country living offers up interesting surprises.

Thursday, November 24, 2011


5:35 p.m. At long last the bird goes into the oven.

That’s the upshot. How we got there and with what toil and trepidation – that’s a story for tomorrow. I haven’t an ounce of energy left. Enough only to say that I hope every one of you had a lovely and love-filled Thanksgiving.

Until tomorrow – when we can process it all.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

wild Wednesday

The hour before the sun rises is, in my mind, the prettiest one out here, at the farmette. The gentle colors, wisps of mist caught in crevices of barren fields, a delicate frost in the cold seasons – it’s all rather breathtaking.

But on teaching days I haven’t the time to really take note. If I wake up early, I pick up my laptop and get going. Emails, lecture notes, the usual stuff.

On the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, the rules change. I haven’t formal lectures today. Work can wait. I look out the east facing windows. Isis is purring somewhere at the foot of the bed. Who let you in? Never mind, I know.

I pull on sweatpants and a jacket and go outside. Frost has again covered the fields beyond the orchard.


I take Rosie out of the garage shed. She starts easily enough, but the cold is fogging the helmet face shield. The rearview mirrors, too, are icing over. Have to be careful on the pavement. Easy to slide on a day like this.

There is no traffic on the rural roads. Not at this hour. Just a beautiful sense of peace, quiet, and a muted pink beginning to a day.


I go further – toward Lake Waubesa. Past empty fields, past bare trees and leaning mailboxes.


I’m feeling the cold. I remembered gloves this time, but the air is bracing! Can’t be more than 25.

Oh, but it’s worth it! The lake is as if Monet had painted it.


The mist lingers, delicately shielding the waters from the first blast of orange light.


I don’t stay for the sunrise. I’m happy with this mellow predawn sky. I don’t want it to be upstaged.

As I turn the motorbike around, I hear the blast of gunfire. It reverberates across the lake, as if someone was shooting toward the other side. Deer hunters, for sure.

I head back home past the fields that so often tempt the deer to come out of the forests here, even at this most dangerous for them time of the year. Yes, they’re out.


I’m at a distance, but they see me. They wait, watching intently. I try not to move and perhaps that is warning enough. They turn back and saunter toward the forest.

Just around the bend from the farmette is my favorite spot and here, I almost always see deer. Yes, she’s here.


I linger, but only for a little while. My youngest one and her boyfriend are coming for an early breakfast. I have things to bake. Whipped eggs with leeks, spinach, sausage, on a potato pancake. Apple puff pastries.



I’m working in the kitchen with an eye out to the birds that still come to our trees outside. But wait, what’s that coming up the woodchip path?

Oh, it’s a wolf!

He comes toward the house as if he were a pet, a welcome guest! I grab the camera but I know I wont get him – he has a determined gait. Past the house, into the fields. My shot, from behind the screened window barely catches his furry tail. (Ed later laughs and tells me it’s like a photo of a UFO. Here’s the evidence! Some evidence...)

You can’t have seen a wolf. A you sure it wasn’t a dog?
I know the difference between a wolf and a dog. That thing was huge! And his tail...

We check the Internet. Yes, over the years there have been wolf sightings outside of the city. Add mine to the list. I let Isis out and he immediately sniffs the path followed by the wolf. You be careful, you hear? – I tell him.

Pre-Thanksgiving morning. How gorgeous is this day! I take a few photos and I suppose I could post one of us gallantly sitting around the farmhouse table, but I like this one best. She’s telling a story. Or maybe reacting to one. He’s amused. I’m amused too.


Later in the day, my girl and I have a coffee break at the café. Now is the time to catch up. And we do.

DSC00546 - Version 2

At home, I throw a load of laundry Last minute preparations. The farmhouse will be full. Two nights of guests. Things are clean, ready, but I need this one last load.

What’s this? A puddle? A huge puddle in the basement! Ed!

We have a backup in the sewage pipes. Oh oh, Ed frowns. I wonder if the willow roots finally broke through the pipes leading to the septic system... He plunges coils into the old pipes – nothing. His friend comes over with more sophisticated rooter coils, cables, cameras. 80 feet into the pipe, he finds a blockage. Tree roots. You really should've taken down that willow, he tells Ed. (Ed loves the grand willow that hangs over the driveway; he’s been avoiding the inevitable, hoping that he can stall that huge project for a while yet.)

I return to the kitchen and take stock: without water, cooking and baking have stalled. I can only hope that the roots are small. Removable for now. That we’ll have water. That the meal will go forward.

To be continued. Tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


It used to be, in years past, that I kept long lists of small things I needed to attend to each day. My lists are shorter now, but the items seem bigger. Address student needs (with a sublist that is frighteningly complicated). Teach one class, then another, then another. Shop for Thanksgiving dinner. Prepare house for two days of family visits. Get Ed to take out three weeks of mail from the mudroom bench. Beg Ed to wear clean jeans in the days ahead. I mean, these items are huge!

They fall on this day, this Tuesday before Thanksgiving. And I saw it coming. (I want to know – why do we toss and have trouble sleeping before days that require the most from us?)

No matter. It’s not as if anyone would be lusting to be idling outside. Here’s what it looks like just to the west of the farmette. A tractor working the fields adds a drop of scarlet to the otherwise ghostly landscape.


It's hard to revel in fields that match the color of the bare trees, that match the color of the skies, that match the color of most everything within eyesight.

The day ends, as usual, at the café. I push aside thoughts of lists and work and dark prewinter landscapes and concentrate on the essentials: a late evening “lunch” of a peanut butter and jam sandwich, a strong cup of coffee and ... nothing more than that.

Monday, November 21, 2011

back and forth

Tom Sawyer was wrong. What can I say – he missed an opportunity. Remember the very early pages where he is whitewashing a picket fence? A punishment for him and so he tries to hand the task over to others? Mistake. Lesson for me this week: enjoy the utter simplicity of running that brush one way, then back again. The journey.

I couldn’t do any of that today. Early in the day I dusted off Rosie and set off to campus.

Damn cold out there! Deceptive sunshine of a Wisconsin winter(like) day! Still, it is a beautiful ride! If I hit the hour exactly right, I avoid the toughest traffic. It is like a sail along a vast and empty byway into town. Surely one of the last of this year’s rides. And one of the most satisfying.

Fine. The day passes. I’m anxious to get home. If it was cold in the morning, it’s colder now. I ride Rosie around a different edge of the lake.


 Lovely colors. Cold in the thighs.

I pull up the dirt driveway of the farmette. Leaves scatter. I love the way the motorbike suddenly hits the woodchip stretch that leads to the garage shed. It means I am home.

Ed’s there with a can of paint.
It never got anywhere near 48, he tells me.


And yet he’s done a huge amount. The east side is nearly all yellow!

I put away Rosie and we drive in the warmth of the Red Hot Lover to the café.  The car's old, but it can still spit out the heat. A beater with a heater, Ed will say.

I’m sorry I didn’t help paint toward the end. Running the brush, back and forth, dabbing at the deeper crevices in the cedar boards.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

from tropics to reality

Last night I attended a dinner party where the guests where all about half my age. Since my daughters are in that demographic, I am not entirely unfamiliar with the ways and habits of that world, but still, it’s rare that I sit at a table and banter along with people who think it’s quaint that there was once a life without cell phones.


Ed was invited as well, but if you put Ed outdoors for several hours, then sit him down to a plate of warm and filling food, there is absolutely no chance that he will keep his eyes open after the last bite. May as well leave him home with the cat, where they can both purr at the bliss of lying on the floor undisturbed by the human kind.

The dinner was billed as a Hawaiian themed event – to chase away the blues (or, more accurately, grays) of the season and I swear the message with the invite suggested Hawaiian attire. I’m not one to dress up, but I did unearth a very colorful Mexican embroidered shirt which, at a pinch, could be regarded as tropical.

I was surprised then to see that no one gave even a nod to the Hawaiian theme. Not even the hosts. When I asked how come, they smiled indulgently, as if to say – most people know that you don’t follow goofball advice about how to dress for a dinner party.

After the dinner, I stepped outside and took in the city lights against the darkness of the lake before me. So different from when I pedal or roar past these waters in the light of the work day! I'd post a photo, but, I don’t want to end on a gloomy note. Bad enough that I have to end on a cold note.

...because this morning, Ed and I were out early scraping, painting – working hard to make progress on the east side of the house – and then, shortly after noon, just after I mentioned to Ed that I was running low on Caribbean sunshine yellow, he came over to my spot and asked – aren’t you cold?
No, not especially. Stroke, paint, dab, stroke, paint...
Well I am.
A first. And he was right to notice that the temperatures were falling. We were two degrees upwards of the “no paint zone.”

Reluctantly, I followed him indoors.
I should work on my exams, I say to him.
Come, watch a movie with me.
We do. I can’t remember the last time I watched something in the middle of the day. An eerie, but not altogether unpleasant way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

November notes

This is November. This unexpectedly (or perhaps what should have been expected even if it was not predicted) gray day teasing you with a drizzle and just as you sigh and pick up the paint can to go indoors, ending its tease so that you’re back at it until the next time and the next.

Isis regards all this as highly unpleasant. He rarely leaves the sheep shed. If he does come to the farmhouse he may take me up on the offer of a drink,


...but immediately after he’ll run back to his own place at the shed, burying himself in an open drawer of a dresser where Ed sometimes remembers to put away clean shirts.

I joined Ed in the painting project today. It’s the only way. At first he grunted, but not for long. In fact, he moved his white paint to my yellow paint so that we were within a breath of each other, so much so that we stumbled and got in the way of the other, but in a pleasant sort of way.

In the distance we heard the gunfire of November’s deer hunt.

Ed repeated the journey comment (see post below) and I began to think that he does really take pleasure in this particular task – this prolonged journey around a building, replacing warped boards, patching this, scraping that.

I remain goal directed. That’s November for me: get it done, finish the lectures, write the exams, get the painting finished before frost sets in, buy the holiday foods, check off items on the list, get it done!

Alright. Let me slow down. One week at a time. And I got a good one coming up: Thanksgiving. Daughters come. We cook. This year and maybe every year henceforth, in the (almost) yellow farmhouse.


Friday, November 18, 2011


Okay, I’ll let you scrape more, only don’t rush it. And be quiet. The journey, you have to enjoy the journey.

Ed’s not a new age kind of guy, so I know there’s a grin in that statement.
I was loud because the wind was knocking down the ladder on top of me. I scraped all morning long. My hands are blistered. With bloody knuckles. I’m doing it so you can paint before the cold spell sets in.

The instructions on the can warn not to paint below 35 degrees and Ed is interpreting that generously: last week’s high of 37, for example, was not good enough. Too cold.

And he is right – I am in a rush. We’re so close now to having the most visible portions of the farmhouse painted. I'll settle for that much. So that when you drive up it mostly seems yellow rather than oddly multi-toned.

The journey, gorgeous, he grins.  It’s the journey.

The nickname “gorgeous” comes up a lot ever since I stopped cutting and coloring my hair. Jason, the hair color genius would be appalled.

We paint and scrape in silence.

DSC09627 - Version 2

Ed positions the ladder and I climb higher.  Don’t fall. Please. You’re so clumsy!

He doesn’t mean it. And yet he means it. But even as he means it, he’s not bothered by it.

DSC09636 - Version 2

In the evening we stop and drive down to the café. Paul, the proprietor, is getting ready to close. Between the routines of shutting down the place he talks about what it’s like to have grown up with a very remarkable but also remarkably unusual dad. I think about unusual parents, unusual upbringings. I think about how I’ll be seeing my own father within a month.


The café's closed now. Ed and I make our way to Harbor Freight – that "guy" store (his description). Lots of metal. He picks up another motion detector so that we can better monitor the comings and goings of Isis the cat. Do we really need it? I ask. Yes! I think Ed would have been an interesting dad.

We drive home with just the faint light of the inadequate beams of Ed's ancinet Geo. There isn't a bright moon, but there are plenty of stars outside. It'll be a cold night again tonight.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

something new

A day of work, yes, still that, and also of a few small new details.

First, I should note that it was cold when I set out to campus this morning and it stayed cold the entire day. And so I drove to work – there and back. It felt like a letdown, but a nice and warm letdown.

The drive home was a bit circuitous. I passed the lagoon of Lake Wingra and I had to stop, get out and take a closer look. From far away, it seemed as if the lagoon was developing a sheet of ice over the surface.


On closer inspection, it appeared that the lagoon WAS developing a sheet of ice over the surface.

Such a cold, cold day.

Other new things? Well, I have some new Ocean readers who, understandably, are having a hard time figuring out what’s what here. Some have threatened to read the whole blog to get a better sense of who’s who and doing what for which purpose. I feel bad about that. So I wrote up a brief summary of the pertinent (and impertinent) facts of the past 6.75 years – i.e. from the period of the life of the blog. If you are a new reader – take a look, scrolling down to the bottom of the right hand column. Does that help? Let me know.

Ocean is forever evolving. It surely isn't what it was 6.75 years ago. And that's a good thing.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


Now’s the time to reflect. The bursting at the seams with work weeks are rapidly coming to a close and though work will continue to dominate the waking hours for months on end, at least it’ll stop keeping me awake at nights.

Fall is slowly receding. Indeed, I think we’re in that period of overlap where it’s no longer fall...

(on my way to work)

...and not yet winter.


Call it fa’nter.

So I have emerging pockets of time. Early morning time, evening time – time to reflect. And I reflect best when I am on the move. For example biking.

But is biking compatible with fa’nter?

I tested it today. First, I thought about riding Rosie. But when I left the farmette, the official temperature was hovering near freezing and the wind was brutal.

I don’t like being cold. Zipping around on a motorbike would be cold.

Riding a bike is different. You work hard and you move with less speed. I put on a snug cap, bundle a scarf many times around my neck and set out on Mr. Red.

Whoaa! That is some gusty little wind! Straight in my face. The shortcut ride (of seven miles) stretches into a looooooooong ride. (An hour.)

Eyes tearing, cheeks burning, I push on, thinking -- this is crazy. It doesn't help to be mocked by holiday snowmen on the approach to the downtown.

DSC09613 - Version 2

Yeah, hi to you too!

In truth, I am immensely proud of my efforts, even though reflecting is not possible (for me) when I’m battling wind. I'm not like the black ducks (are they ducks?) on lake Monona. I don't have a coat of oil protecting my goose-bumpy skin.


My older girl is at the farmhouse for dinner tonight. I want to tell her about the ride in, but the topic does not present itself.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

morning, noon, night

At four (in the morning), I can’t sleep. Too much to do. I’m thinking – if I start attending to it now, the load would be easier. But I haven’t the energy and so I drift from computer, to half sleep, to a wakeful conversation with Ed on the subject of a couch. Random, right? But we’ve been going around this for a while: is it good to have a couch in what appears to be the sunniest room in winter – the south facing front room? It is a theoretical discussion: I have no funds nor great desire to fund even the cheapest couch. But it’s a challenge, too – how cheap would the cheapest acceptable couch cost? It's a game that Ed and I so often like to waste time playing. (Answer: $469, yet again at I hate that Walmart always comes in ahead of the pack.) Ed’s ideas come in cheaper, but they’re (in my book) rather off the wall: throw pillows on the floor. Buy a stained piece of junk off of Craiglist. Inflate something. You’re not credible – I tell him. It’s a juxtaposition of who we are: the guy who will eat ramen, me – who prefers the fresh and honest.

The light just outside the windows is strengthening. I look toward the east. Ed – it’s such a pretty sky! I should take a photo...
From where?
It’s a problem. I haven’t the oomph to chase a sunrise. I take another look out the window. I could climb out on the roof...
Is it iced over?
Can’t tell... Looks alright.
Go for it.
I’m in a state of...nighttime underdress!
A few seconds on the roof – you can handle it.

It is freakishly disconcerting: the slope is significant enough for me to feel off balance. Or is it the weirdness of being up there, cold, barefoot and bare armed, gripping with my toes the asphalt tiles of the roof of the farmhouse?


Eventually the sun climbs higher. Time to pack up and fire up Rosie.  Classes start early for me today.


This day is perhaps the peak of intensity: classes – the first, the second, the third, interspersed and followed by endless office hours, as students try to add the finishing touches to their written work.

I take a coffee break – yes, I have to. Today is the free extra espresso shot at the University Bookstore coffee stand and I am so happy to go down the hill for it.

It is a lovely day, by the way. In case anyone noticed. Some made good use of it.

DSC09587 - Version 2

I leave my office when the sun has already set. By the time I am near the farmette, the sky is just ever so faintly aglow.


But you know, it was a deeply satisfying day, too. For the “busiest day of the year,” I did okay by it. And I talked to my mother who was surprisingly happy. I had sent her photos of my daughters for her birthday. She is 88 years old today. For once, I had no doubt that I did something that brought a smile to her face.