Sunday, January 31, 2016


It is a quiet day. Wet and quiet -- we wake up to rain. Not the kind that washes away all remaining snow...

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...but the kind that forms water droplets on branches of trees.

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We eat breakfast in the kitchen, just because. The house is freshly cleaned it seems a happy place to settle in for a morning meal.

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The rest of the day? I'm at the kitchen table as well. The tulips keep me company. I read stuff on the computer about photography. (With a break for yoga. The tulips keep me company for that as well.)

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I haven't done that -- read about photography -- for a while and if you do not pay attention, the world of camera technology moves in bold new directions and leaves you behind. (I have always been a reluctant learner of new technology and so I give myself time today. Okay, with another pause for coffee and cookie treats, which, I suppose, is the counter pose to yoga.)

By dusk, I focus on preparing supper.

The young family comes and the farmhouse is quiet no more.

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What's for dinner, grandma?
Pasta with sun dried tomatoes, garlic and arugula. And parmiggiano reggiano.

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One last story for the night...

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...and the little girl goes home and I tidy up and get ready for the week that's before us.

Saturday, January 30, 2016


Late Friday evening, Snowdrop returned to her home and Ed carried away the trapped possum. Butter, our white hen was pushed back into the coop and the door was locked tightly behind her. But we spotted a second possum hovering to the side and more importantly, Scotch was missing.

You looked all over the barn? I ask. It's easy to miss something in the dark. There's machinery, there are boards, wire netting, bales of hay.
With a flashlight. Nothing.
How about in the garage? She'd been hanging there earlier in the day.
Not there either.

I'm tired. I need to get some sleep. But I can't leave our girl vulnerable to the predator that seems still to be nearby. Reluctantly, I put on my jacket and stick a flashlight in my pocket.

I search the garage thoroughly. No, certainly not there. I turn toward the barn. It's a beautiful night and I take a moment to gaze up at the sky. The clouds have parted to reveal a brilliantly display of starlight. It's the kind of stuff you see in picture books but rarely in real life.

But in looking up, my gaze wanders to the big crab apple tree. There's something bunched and huddled high up in the branches. An animal waiting to pounce? I shine my flashlight.

It's Scotch.

Honestly, I'd never seen a chicken high up in the tree. I reach for her -- I have just enough stretch to get her down.

Look what I found in our crab apple!

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So the girls are now safe in the coop. The trap is set for the second possum, but by morning, it stands empty. Ed thinks maybe he's run away.

I can't pretend to understand the life and habitat of wild beasts. I'm just glad our girls are safe. For now.

Saturday breakfast. A happy set of minutes.

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That's almost a genuine smile! We're not rushed, there are bands of sunshine -- bliss!

I go out to say hi to the cheepers (and to make sure yesterday's visitor, the one who eluded us in the end, hasn't returned). They're buoyed by the warm temperatures (we're having an unusually warm day -- 40F/4C -- a rarity for January) and they even take a few steps out of the barn to catch the treat they know I always have for them.

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It's a perfect day for a walk along the rural roads. Ed had been studying google maps and he thinks we may be able to veer off our favorite road and eventually come to a lake. It's called Hook's Lake. It looks quite big on the map.

This is not easy on a day where paths -- if there are any -- are covered by ice and snow. But we take a stab at following deer tracks leading off the road and sure enough, we find the lake.

Let's cross it and see where we end up.
Ed, how do you know it's frozen? I'm only a tiny bit worried. Our big lakes are frozen solid. This smaller body of water is probably solid ice to the bottom.
You'll be fine.
Wait, first a photo of me lying on the lake. You know, a parting shot...

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He takes it, then walks forward. I look after him.
If it's so safe, how come there are absolutely no footprints on the entire lake?
No one comes here.
Not a single foot has stepped here? People may know something we don't.
Stay in my tracks. You'll be fine.

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And of course, he's right. It still feels somehow precarious to be crossing a lake in this way, but I know the feeling of vulnerability is irrational.

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Besides, once we move even further from civilization, we do come across prints. Plenty of them.

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They're wild turkey \ foot prints and their patterns are nothing short of splendid.

In fact, it is an exhilarating walk, made all the more memorable because I know many, many weeks will pass before we have such fine weather again.

In the evening (after carting off a load of books that I'm donating to libraries and Goodwill), I spend some time thinking about books I had read and especially those that taught me stuff I hadn't quite grasped about human nature. Like great moments in travel, great reading experiences for me are those, where you say to yourself: this is new... it doesn't affirm anything I thought before. It creates a fresh image of the way people can be with each other. (The book I'm reading does that and I love it to pieces for it.)

It is one of those pleasantly pensive times, when deer romp through your yard, dusk sets in and you are at peace with the world.

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Friday, January 29, 2016


How did that happen? How did the day start with sunshine...

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...then, as if changing its mind, the skies turned gray. For a while.

And how did it happen that I bought six full bags of groceries today?

And why, after taking forever to unpack them, just as I'm leaving to go to Snowdrop's home, why do I see Scotch walking up the path to our farmhouse door? The cheepers never come this way during the winter. And I mean never.

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I greet her, give her some bread, but it all seems wrong to me. Where is her buddy Butter?

I go down to the barn. Butter is agitated. She's pacing the barn. Like someone awaiting test results. Agitated.

What the hell's going on here?

I look inside the coop. Oh no!

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A possum is inside, eating chicken feed.

I'm due at Snowdrop's. I can't be late. Scotch is by the house, Butter is pacing, Ed's at a tech meeting and the possum is firmly inside the coop. And I mean firmly. When I approach, thinking surely he'll scamper off, he hisses his sharp teeth at me.

Slam. I close and latch the coop door, trapping him inside. I don't know if this is a dumb move or a smart move, I haven't a clue as to what the possum might do to the cheepers, but I wanted a barrier between them and him and this is the fast way to accomplish this.

And then I play with Snowdrop. I put in calls to Ed with basically one message: help! I have no clue where to go from here.

I concentrate on Snowdrop.

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We play, we read, we dance -- all of it.

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She is to spend the evening with us at the farmette, and by late afternoon, I pack her into the car seat and we zip home. To a beautiful sky, with an almost setting sun. (There's that blue again!)

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Ed is home now and he has borrowed a trap and stuck it inside the coop. Butter is still pacing. Scotch has no interest in going near the barn. Snowdrop and I feed her bread at the picnic table.

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Unfortunately, the possum, possibly well stuffed with chicken feed, has no interest in going for the food in the trap. He has settled in the roost.

I don't think he'll ever leave!

And if he does, will the girls ever want to go back?

Snowdrop and I retreat to the farmhouse to prepare supper. I make the mistake of giving her a chunk of parmiggiano reggiano which I am grating for the asparagus. She loves it so much that, for the first time, I get a strong protest when I take it away from her. So she's at heart Italian. I'm okay with that.


We eat, she eats, she naps, we play. She revels in a piece of fig newton Ed breaks off for her.

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And eventually, the young couple picks her up and she goes home.

As for the cheepers? Late into the evening, the possum is trapped and Ed takes him away. Is that the end of the siege? No. As Ed carries the intruder off, he sees the second possum emerge and hover near the entrance to the barn.

It's going to be a long night.

Thursday, January 28, 2016


Right about now, at the tail end of January, I begin to be hyper sensitive to the modest palate of color that winter presents for us. On gray days, you really begin to count days toward spring.

Indoors, of course, all remains lovely and ever cheerful.

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Outside -- well, you have to wait for that cloud break to rev up your spirits. And this morning, driving to the store to pick up the ridiculously bothersome (see yesterday's post) photos, we had that cloud break and it was splendid!

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I'm good now for another week or so.

I arrive at Snowdrop's home a tad later. The little one greets me with the usual hopeful look -- will you pick me up, grandma?

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My day with her starts off not unlike yesterday. The temperatures hover just above the freezing mark and so I take the little girl out for a walk, but this time with her mom who is hurrying to work. We keep her company (at least for part of the way). Ah, that needed splash of color!

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Of course, Snowdrop must show her mom the beloved pinwheel. Icy flurries have come out of nowhere, but the little one doesn't mind. It's all rather pretty actually.

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On the return, I reward her with a quick stop at the neighborhood cafe. We don't really encourage snacking, but this is a special moment (my first cafe visit with her) and so I let her pick off a tiny piece of blackberry scone. Does she like it? You tell me!

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Well, alright. Just a wee piece.

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Honestly, I think she's ready for the cafes of the world!

In the afternoon, we stick to the home base. So much there to discover! Here, she probes the pantry -- a favorite spot for her.

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I'll end with this pensive shot -- let me take that under advisement, she seems to say.

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I like that. Listen to the other voice. Consider it. Make wise choices.

And don't fret too much if a winter day dawns cloudy and gray.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016


Life is nothing more than a pinwheel.

Well, okay, it's a little more complicated, but it surely has the spin, the colors, the repetition.

You see the repetition, of course, in my morning run to the barn to let the cheepers out. (But isn't the sky suggestive of perhaps an unusually pretty day ahead?)

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There's, too, the breakfast routine. Early today, so we're in the kitchen. But in many ways, special as it may be to me, it's a repeat performance (and perhaps that's what is so special about it). And always with a few blooms to get us off to a colorful start.

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An early morning with Snowdrop. Is that a rerun? No. At least not in the way it appears to me. Take this morning. She wakes up all smiles and giggles. Sunshine streams into the house and I think -- maybe we should go for a walk? It's just below freezing but there is so much brightness outside! I haven't taken her out in a stroller since... oh, maybe October!

Put on your snowsuit, little girl. And let's borrow mommy's scarf to use as a lap blanket. Off we go!

We walk our summer route -- right through the old neighborhood where.... there is indeed that trusty pinwheel perched on a white picket fence! Same one! Same delighted recognition on the part of Snowdrop!

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We reach the lesser lake -- frozen now. What does this mean to her? Once blue, now white.  All I can do is repeat that explanation which really is no explanation at all -- it's snow-covered!


We're back by her home. I want her to relax in the snow, but putting her down to make a snow angel isn't going to do it. What are you doing, grandma?? -- she seems to ask. A diaper change??

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And still, Snowdrop shows me each day her beautiful faces of play. They're familiar. And so enchanting. Or, is it that the pinwheel of time is spinning a basket of grandma delights felt by grandmas the world over?

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We do have one task to accomplish: I'm bent on taking a photo that she needs for one document or another. I think I got it. But believe me, it takes a lot of stupid facial expressions on my part and good natured patience on her part to get us through it. Here's a photo that isn't quite what I used, but it does shows my strategies for getting the little one to sit still.


And now it's evening. Ed needs my help jump-starting his truck, left in a distant parking lot (a colleague had been using it and the headlights had been left on). On the upside, helping push the truck out of a tight space surely firmed up my upper arm muscles. Too, driving home, I saw that wonderful cloud-dappled sunset over the farmette.

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At home, it's my turn to ask for Ed's help -- I want to send for printing the photo that I had taken of the little one for her parents' document needs. It is one of those frustrating tasks that's made all the more exasperating because the editing programs don't match the instructional materials which, in turn don't match the printing directions. Moreover, Ed is incensed that there is a $7 surcharge for printing out a particular size. He will go to great lengths to avoid avoidable surcharges, but my patience for the project runs out. Still, I am surprised that I can be brought to (near) tears by a printing job, but there you have it -- we all have our weaker moments.

A pinwheel, I tell you. Life is just a pinwheel of colors and spins and repetitions, with the occasional snafu that tests your resolve to stay calm.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016


It's the unexpected that often unravels your sense of quiet and well-being. But sometimes, it does just the opposite.

No one talked of snow -- at least not in any amount that would transform our frozen splotchy landscape. And so waking up to the unexpected -- several inches of gentle loveliness is wonderful indeed.

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I let the cheepers out and pause to admire the farmette trees...

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How could something so plain as white snow be so pretty?

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Of course, it comes with its own headaches -- an iced over car, slushy streets in the city -- but I'll take those, just for that walk outside, or the glance out the kitchen window at breakfast.

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But not too long of a glance. I'm with Snowdrop early today.

She wakes up to a great mood and we fly through the morning rituals. Here she is, bathed and dressed, running around with music sticks, just because.

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Impishly showing off that she knows darn well what a tongue is.

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Having a wild hair day?

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Nothing a hair clip can't fix. This is one of her favorite books. I think she thinks one of the girls pictured therein is her.

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Still, I can't resist the snow. I bundle her up and out we go. She's tentative. And that mitten! Where did you lose it, Snowdrop?

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Well, never mind. We're not out for long. Just enough to take those steps in the snow.


Back to the puzzles of home.

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And the satisfaction of getting something to work.

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And so the hours, like the flakes outside, fly in unexpected directions, most often with beautiful results.

My evening is a bit unusual, in that I join Ed for a semi techi-work dinner for out of town Tormach visitors. Importantly, the restaurant served a special of Bouillabaisse. I don't say no to a good bowl of Bouillabaisse.

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