Wednesday, September 30, 2015

a special Wednesday

I suppose every day is special -- to borrow Ed's philosophy for a minute. But some days are ordinary and wonderful and some are unique and wonderful and today surely belongs to the latter camp.

Breakfast is in the sun room.

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Our bowls are full of pears, grapes and plums that had just been trucked over from a grocery store (that's some 7 miles away, but they deliver!).
Testing, we're just testing how it works.
You know you're never going to convince me that online grocery shopping is the way to go.
Just testing...
I have to see the full display, consider the freshness, read the labels...
Not bad: you must admit, the fruits aren't bad.
And smell the fruits and compare the ingredients on all the whole grain chips...
The peach could use a few days...
Well that's okay, most peaches could use a few days... and the delivery person was awfully nice. But too much plastic! Everything was in a plastic sack. We have ten bags just from this one small order.
You can make special requests: skip the plastic.
I need to see which berry is plumpest, which banana is least damaged...
Just testing.

And then I go to Snowdrop's home. Here's a difference to the day: I will be with her at her house and in the evening I'll be taking her to her weekly music class. And after -- home to the farmhouse, with Snowdrop in tow. She'll be with us until late tomorrow as her mommy and daddy are off and away (to an award event honoring my daughter's professional accomplishments, so that's cool in its own right).

And so we begin our morning of play. Ah, she remembers that standing up is the wave of the future for her!

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Stand up, sit down, stand up, sit down. Okay Snowdrop, let's try something else. How about music sticks to get you ready for music class?

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Good effort, sweet one! 

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No, not an exercise bar, but hey -- good stretching!

And then, here's another novel twist to the day: after her lunch, we walk over to the expo center: it is the week of the World Dairy Expo -- a really big deal for the state of Wisconsin and for the dairy industry. Why not introduce Snowdrop to the animal that makes us proud -- the cow?

And here are my post factum thoughts on this expedition: the world of a little one is so small! Oh, you may travel and take her places -- she's been to Chicago several times. You may immerse her in social events -- she has been to more than one baseball game and is a regular at evening get togethers. She has, besides me, any number of adoring caretakers -- grandpas, grammies, aunts, uncles, to say nothing of the nursery at her church and the occasional baby sitter when I'm not around. She takes it all in stride. She is a happy, outgoing little girl.

But her world is small. Zoos, cheepers, cats - yes, animals all, but there is nothing, nothing like plunging her into a megaspace of cow stalls, with all the noise, machinery, smells, boisterous voices, megaphones, and of course moooooos coming on strong from all directions.

(It doesn't help that on our walk over (the expo center is a short distance from where Snowdrop lives), we had to pause at a train intersection while a large and loud train rumbled by. Snowdrop shook with fear.)

And here we are, at the expo center.

Whoa! All those cows!

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I take her out of the stroller and carry her past stall after stall. I talk about the cows and the milk and the cheese and the udder and the cows and the milk and cheese and the farmers who make it all possible for us. She listens, looks, and clings to my arm.

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We go into the arena too, and watch the selection of the top jersey.

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 ...while the small crowd cheers on. Or rests. I suppose it's a grueling set of days for the dairy people.

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Toward the end, Snowdrop isn't complaining. She is just somewhat aghast.

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It just doesn't fit into anything she'd seen so far.

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(On the upside, I think she is ready for a visit to the Royal Highland Show in Edinburgh. Someday.)

And of course, there's nothing like the joy of returning home after an especially exciting set of hours. When I ask her at home "what does the cow say," she just laughs and laughs!

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At the music class she is her usual radiant self (possibly more than one grandma has said this of her grandchild). She is learning not only songs and rhythm, but also restraint and she is not too young to understand that there is a time for exuberance and a time for quiet. Tonight, she shows that she can do both very very well.

It's just an hour short of her bedtime when we get home to the farmhouse. Ed has picked up take-out Japanese for dinner, but still, it takes me a bit of time to tidy up and set out the food. All evening long, Snowdrop is at her best. She follows me around but settles in to amuse herself whenever I need time to wash dishes or eat my own dinner.

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pots: I'll just examine grandma's pots...

Tomorrow she may act like a 2 month old, but tonight she is no longer a baby -- she gives us a glimpse of herself as a child.  

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

then came Tuesday

Oh, it rained during the night! Big torrents of gusty rain, pounding on the farmhouse with all its might, making me, for the hundredth, no millionth time grateful for that solid roof over our heads.

And in the morning, the rain continued. Moderately, yes, that, but it wasn't outdoor weather -- not for us, not for the cheepers.

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Breakfast is early and at the kitchen table.

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I am in a hurry and I quickly review the catch up grocery list. I need stop at the store midweek. Either we are eating more fruit, or I bought too few items last Friday. Ed is convinced that we ought to try a local grocery store's delivery service.
Here, it's so easy! He brings his computer to the table and rattles off various fruits we could purchase online.
But I need to inspect each item individually...
We order it for the employees at Tormach -- it's all great stuff.
Not possible. Or, if it is all "great," then it's engineered to be that way.
Try it!
I think about my day: busy. Okay, just this once.

Off now to spend Tuesday with Snowdrop.

She wakes up, she bathes, she waits as I get her breakfast ready.

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As usual, this is her most chipper time -- rested and now fed, ready to take on the world.

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But she is ambitious and very quickly she pushes herself to stand and take her baby steps behind mr. lion.

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And then she pauses. She seems to want to examine her dress and in so doing, she finds herself standing alone.

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Of course, sometimes, her bravery gets her down on the floor. Learning can be a tough game, little one!

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After letting her take a few more concentrated wee steps behind mr. lion, I take her downstairs for more quiet play. She needs a break. She finds it in examining the claws of ms. sloth.

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And the day passes in this way. She is at an age when her moods, frustrations, joys are more predictable. Even though in many ways, every single hour reveals something new about this girl. And of course, one can only guess what goes on in that little (well, not so little) head.

Evening at the farmhouse. I make my ol' reliable pizza, with more garlic than I care to admit publicly. Ed beams. We settle into our evening on the couch. We exhale.

Monday, September 28, 2015

a warm Monday

I mention at the outset that this is a warm Monday because I don't expect more such days this year. Let's enjoy it!

Rise with the chickens. Admire the now mostly harvested fields that stretch out into the hills, admire the faintly pink and cornflower blue sky.

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And yes, do eat that one last breakfast on the porch. It's warm, no? Yes, it's really perfect out there.

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Do some housework if you must, but when Snowdrop comes over (because you know, it is Monday), don't spend too much time indoors -- just enough to mess with grandpa Ed...

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... then go outside! Feed the cheepers a treat of stale bread (oh, how she loves feeding the cheepers and coming as close as she can to their delicate down).

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All under the swaying branches of the mighty (and it is mighty) willow...

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I know you've seen similar photos before, but this is it -- that last warm day! It must be remembered for its grand beauty, right there, under the willow.

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Let's settle down for a nap now. A quiet moment with penguin and with a book about penguins...

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But I have a distracted girl here: her focus is on grandpa Ed who is adjusting her crib -- lowering the mattress to its nearly lowest position, she is that tall!

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Finally. Nap time. And lunch time. Crawl time, stroller time, play time -- all in that warm air. Bask in it! Just today, love the last few whiffs of that wonderful warm, summer-is-over air.

And then all is quiet.

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Dinner of stir fry, tidy up, write post.

Later, when dusk is no longer dusk, but the night has not yet eclipsed all light, Ed and I sit on our picnic table in the courtyard and watch the bats. Isie boy joins us.

How good it is to be sitting on the table, gazing up at the darkening sky!

Sunday, September 27, 2015


Like so many other avid gardeners, I run out of gardening steam toward the end of summer. In fact, Ed had picked up a fresh load of beautiful wood chips a few days back and each day he has asked me where I'd like them distributed. I have no more gardening imagination. I don't know, I tell him.

But today I worked hard to change my attitude. After a thorough farmhouse cleaning and a late breakfast...

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... my sweet gardening companion had that inquisitive look in his eye again and I remembered how pleasant it is when we work together outdoors.

And so we unloaded chips and admired the occasional bloom...

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... and I felt so content and deeply grateful that we have made such progress in our outdoor work this year. I'll still be trimming the yard with a winter plant cut, but for now, I can sit back and say -- we're more or less done for the year.

The afternoon is cloudy and not too inviting and so we spend many hours staring at the porch door frame and imagining that it is a lighter shade and wondering why it isn't a lighter shade.

After, we turn to our airline and miles dilemma. We all know by now that Ed does not want to travel -- at least not without camping gear and who knows what other adventuring paraphernalia. And yet he has accumulated miles in his Air France account and because he has been sitting still, the miles are about to expire. Unless someone (like me!) uses them soon. And so we spend the many necessary hours booking a trip for me for next month, under the deadline so to speak. (It takes a long long time to accomplish a miles purchase through Air France.)

Other bookings follow. Everything about this trip must be on the cheap and I brag to Ed how inexpensive the accommodation I'm booking is. He tells me -- I could easily find something even cheaper.
I groan.
He picks up his computer: here, you could have signed up to stay at a coop and be a student community leader. They'd even give you a few coins for bread and coffee in the morning!
Would you have gone if I had agreed to do that?
Well then, I'll stay in my own cheap room elsewhere.

And then we are back to our lovely normal -- I cling to Ed on his motorbike and we zip to the hidden court for a game (by our own rules) of tennis. The ride, past golden fields and against darkening skies is as beautiful as the game itself...

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Then a warm and happy Sunday dinner with the young family...

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(Snowdrop always helps me cook)

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(mom and babe)

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("but I want to help you, grandma!")

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(time for the p.j.s... and home)

... and finally, a quiet evening on the couch.

A productive Sunday. A lovely Sunday. The harvest moon is out and shining on us all tonight.

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Saturday, September 26, 2015


Most any sane person would have spent the day entirely outdoors. How many more days will there be this year when the temperature climbs to 70 and the morning mist (lovely as it is)...

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... lifts to reveal a cornflower blue sky?

I do put in some good outdoor time. After breakfast...

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... and after a quick look at the flowers that truly make me smile (because, you know, it's September)...

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... I pop over to Snowdrop's home, where I find her freshly bathed...

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... and ready for our outing (and in the meantime, sneaking in one more fond caress of the queenly cat, who puts up with it, but only for one pat before scampering out of Snowdrop's reach)...

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... and the three of us -- my daughter, Snowdrop and I -- set out for the farmers market downtown.

It's a great walk there and back and of course, there's also the big walk around the Square itself, considerably slowed today to a mere crawl because the weather is so fine and there are so many of us out there, pawing at the vegetables and fruits.

Snowdrop smiles at all who throw a smile her way and so it is one big smile fest...


... and she is rewarded by her mom with a cracker, which she takes about twenty minutes to nibble on. (Her mom tells me Snowdrop prefers a rosemary one, but this is almost as good.)

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On the way home, she starts to doze off a little, which would have been ruinous for her "morning" nap, so to keep her awake, I take her out of the stroller and carry her home -- something that keeps her grinning endlessly (and keeps my arm muscles in good shape).

But in the afternoon, I stay inside the farmhouse. No excuses. I have to prime and then stain the porch doors. It's a tedious job and one fraught with dangers of the spill-streak type but what is curious to me is that in the end, the wood is a shade or two darker than that on the existing frames, even though I had stained those as well when I first moved in here now 4.5 years ago. Same wood, same stain, different result.

Ah well, you'd not notice it unless I point it out to you and in any case, aside from the final rub tomorrow (well, and the painting of the walls around it), the task is done and I am very happy about it, even as my outdoor time was less than I would have wished on such a beautiful day.

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And it really was a beautiful day.

Friday, September 25, 2015


I don't walk on Fridays, I run. Inevitably, my posts are shorter, my stories less thought out, my photos less studied.

Oh, there's the beautiful opening to the day. Well, beautiful for me...

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... I suppose for Isie boy as well (he is allowed only on the porch and only if accompanied by an adult).

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But after that, I'm on the run. This is by choice and so I am not complaining. It is wonderful to make your lists smaller and your future days, therefore, more carefree.

One errand that I have for today is picking up my replacement lenses for my glasses. The glasses are still under warranty and so it is a blissfully cost free transaction, but I note as I take off my glasses to have them refitted with new lenses, that I am quite useless without eye-wear. That's a recent thing. I could, up until a handful of years ago, see quite well in the distance. But now, I wouldn't trust myself to drive a car without glasses and I certainly can't read anything unless I'm looking through a thick corrective lens.

But I have never had a second pair of glasses! Too expensive (I need bifocals, which automatically triples the cost), too unnecessary. It would be like an insurance policy that you hate to get because you know you wont need it.

Until you do.

I travel so much -- how is it that I don't worry about losing/breaking/misplacing something that links me to the rest of the world?

And so I'm rethinking my game plan. And immediately comes the dilemma: should my second pair be the cheapest available, because after all, chances are I wont ever need it, or, so long as I'm getting it, mightn't I want to make a fashion statement? Imagine! A second funky pair that I could cart out for that special evening out (not that I have many special evenings out, but I have one today and so my mind strays in that direction)!

This is how capitalism thrives, of course. From bare bones, you quickly move to something more special, costing, of course, just a wee bit more. Machines churn, production rises, the stock market improves.

In the afternoon I am with Snowdrop.

You'll see more photos here (and fewer words) because from a grandma's perspective, she is just irresistibly clever and radiant and awesome (sorry if you've heard these same words from other grandmas).

Here, she finally, finally catches up with one of the household cats. And she is thrilled. And the cat is patient.

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Another playful moment -- where she is saying "okay grandma, go ahead and take your picture, but don't you think I may be needing a haircut soon?"

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We play with musical instruments. The little Mozartina is especially grand with the tambourine.

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And then, in the evening, the three girls -- Snowdrop, her mom, me -- go out for a celebratory drink. A month of the new work schedule, the end of the week, the coming of Fall -- pick your reason for a celebration. We go downtown on the early side, just before the official start of happy hour, just in case the little one has a restless moment.

But Snowdrop is excited. She is convinced that the waitress is there to smile at her and she reciprocates.

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Oh, Snowdrop!

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Of course, the excitement of life eventually exhausts her. But in a good way.

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I come home at dusk. There is dinner to fix, cheepers to hide -- the usual stuff. The good stuff. 

Fall is off to a grand beginning.