Friday, May 31, 2019

Friday: it's who we are...

Crazy weather! Weather is not climate, of course, and climate is not weather but still, we live in a season that's swinging wildly. It's hot today! But luckily, it's not wet. We've had enough of wet stuff!  All the rain has been an invitation to summer bugs. While working in the garden, I slapped my first mosquito today. In May! There used to be a time when we'd watch the mosquitoes make their grand entrance in time for the Fourth of July fireworks. A few years ago they surprised us by arriving in time for Summer Solstice (and my daughter's wedding). This year: May. Not even the bitter cold winter scared these guys away.

Well, it's never a big swarm at the beginning. After feeding Stop Sign and Dance...

farmette life-5.jpg

... I continue picking out weeds and putting in the couple of replacement plants Ed and I picked up yesterday.

And breakfast most definitely and wonderfully is on the porch.

Ed, hurry up!

farmette life-12.jpg

During our morning meal, I tell him that I have a list of things I want to accomplish in the next few days. I need his help.

Like what? he asks.
Okay, mowing. What else?
Not just your old mowing where half the grass is left tall. Careful mowing!

I'm listing tasks because on Thursday afternoon we're having a party of sorts. We expect some two dozen people -- local landowners, gardeners, environmental activists. It's not our guest list -- a friend asked us to host it and she is supplying the people. They all want to learn more about the project that's taking shape just across the road from us -- the Groundswell Conservancy has purchased (through donations) the fields of corn, with a plan to convert them into educational plots, for those seeking to rebuild their lives, perhaps through farming, even as they have few resources at their disposal.

We need to neaten the compost and really, I have a long list! The place can't look too funky...
But gorgeous, it's who we are.

Ed has me thinking about this for the rest of the morning: he is right, of course. We don't have order here. My flower fields were born out of chaos and I've added to them without careful planning. I keep an eye as to what should grow where, yes, of course. But we've never sought to create anything even close to tidy and perfect. We're always changing things around, trying to improve things gradually even as forces of nature push forward, threatening to overwhelm us.

And at a deeper level, we are a compilation of traits that are specific to us, our choices, our place on this earth. Everyone is, no? Ours happens to be a little hodge podgy and humble inside and at the moment -- flower heavy and unmowed around the edges outside. Do we really want to show ourselves to be different than who we are?

farmette life-22.jpg

In the afternoon, I bring Snowdrop home. This is what she asks for when I come and she is having a very hard time shifting from an interrupted nap to real time: I want to go home. To her, on a school day afternoon, the farmhouse is home.

And she always, always regains her energies here. Bouncing back and engaging in play with joy and panache!

farmette life-48.jpg

Toward the end of her visit, she steps out to spemnd a little time on the porch. She is, as always, tempted to pick a bloom or two. There is still the belief in her that if placed in water, that picked bloom will never die. Typically, I just tell her that I prefer to leave the flower on the plant, but today, I harness her enthusiasm for snipping off buds and tell her she should help me look for the spent ones. I make the mistake of calling them the stupid ones. "Look for the stupid ones!" For the rest of the afternoon, I hear -- look, Gogs! here's a stupid one! And here's a stupid one!

Kids, unfortunately, listen to grownups.

farmette life-59.jpg

Tonight, my daughter is returning from a D.C. conference. When I bring Snowdrop home, her mom has just come in. We all spend a wonderful set of minutes on the deck.

farmette life-79.jpg

Well, after the kids have gotten in their minutes of swinging. Sparrow tries to keep up with his sister, but I tell you, that girl likes to swing hard and high!

farmette life-74.jpg

I return home. Our home.

farmette life-85.jpg

A warm, beautiful day. We topped 84f (29c). Crazy weather, but for once, I don't think anyone was complaining!

Thursday, May 30, 2019


My head is buzzing with kids -- both of the human kind and of the bearded-eats-everything kind, and with that cold that is retreating, but too slowly, and also with summer activities that are about to heat up for me.

So let's go easy this morning. And indeed, it is a gentle morning: still cloudy, so breakfast is in the kitchen...

Ed! I'm ready! (Fallen irises from the garden.)

farmette life-2.jpg

And then I pull weeds. After a period of constant rain, stuff grows, whether you want it or not.

Let me insert a few photos of what's blooming right now.

We are at the cusp of pink! These are light and frilly. The peonies will be bold and closer to magenta.

farmette life-11.jpg

(Many buds -- iris and peony -- waiting to pop open.)

farmette life-28.jpg

(Dance: yes, but what do you have for me?)

farmette life-25.jpg

(Colorful blooms, up above and down below)

farmette life-30.jpg

By afternoon, the clouds are almost completely out of here. I'm fine with that!

It's definitely warm enough for me to take Snowdrop to the park. But a snack comes first.

farmette life-68.jpg

farmette life-56.jpg

Home again...

(They are all on such friendly terms!)

farmette life-83.jpg

(Happy really is a good rooster. Remarkably so, actually. The girls have taught him well!)

farmette life-85.jpg

A new Snowdrop game: "let's design our own computers!" Hmmm... I wonder where she gets her inspiration...

farmette life-96.jpg

Look who is here to pick you up, little one!

farmette life-109.jpg

And that's it, no?

Oh, not at all. After Snowdrop goes home, Ed and I get on his motorbike and rumble over to our little farmers market, where we talk to Farmer John (the cheese guy) about.... goats.

Wait til they jump on your car! They love that!
We have old cars... It wont matter...
A visitor might feel differently about it!

You know, there are so many more pressing goat rearing concerns, that this one just makes me smile...

And our evening's not over yet: I want to replace a plant that has been ravaged by.... I don't know who or what. Maybe cheepers, maybe something else. We ride over to the Flower Factory. It's a beautiful evening to be in the open air, scooting between forests and vales, fields and farms. The smells are exquisitely those of late May. The colors are gentle. Many of the invasive species that we see along the roads really should be pulled (honeysuckle, dame's rocket), but their sweet fragrance is in fact enchanting!

I hold two flower pots in my lap ("we've never had someone come to shop for flowers on a motorcycle before!") and we meander down this road, turning on the next, and the next, until we get home.

It should have been an easy supper of eggs and veggies from the market (asparagus!), but we gave away all our eggs. Time to cook up some lentil soup. Dinner is very very late.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019


When you take your camera out for a walk every single day like I do, you have to retain a healthy critical attitude as to what's photographable at any given moment. Yes, yes, I know -- a serious photographer would find unique compositions everywhere. Why limit your tableau to pretty flowers or gardens or happy cheepers and happy children! But I'm not in that league. I merely want to take note of the best of the best that's out and around me. I look for that and I look differently, depending on the day.

For example, at the end of May or in the first weeks of June, greens dominate. It's not summer yet, but the spring flowers are now nearing an end. And so to me, what's picture worthy is a small corner of a bed, rather than the entirety. (In mid summer, it'll be the opposite.) Like this corner of the driveway bed (it shows off the late spring companion to all those whites -- the purple iris):

farmette life-10.jpg

As long as we're on the subject of purple, can we give one last nod of thanks to our magnificent lilac? Thank you!

farmette life.jpg

Still, to give the day some perspective and balance, I feel a slight obligation to go back to that entirety. So, from the kitchen window, looking out at the beds.

farmette life-13.jpg

And now I' can go back to the small wonders here and there...

farmette life-49.jpg

farmette life-52.jpg

farmette life-70.jpg

You can see that we're having another cloudy day. But I'm not complaining. If you look at the map of the US where tornadoes have touched down in the last few weeks, Wisconsin is the only state in the Midwest and Southwest that has been spared. Too, I think we're all getting a break from gray wet days very soon. I'm sure everyone's looking forward to a return of blue skies and crisp, breezy, sunny days.

Speaking of small wonders, Sparrow comes over early, because the new routine is that he spends the first half of Wednesdays with me. Hi Sparrow, welcome back!

farmette life-27.jpg

How about a selfie, together?

farmette life-25.jpg

The serious demeanor quickly evaporates. The giggles come back. Sparrow can produce a laugh on demand perfectly, to get you to laugh back at him.

farmette life-31.jpg

But the smiles are frequent and genuine.

farmette life-33.jpg

In the early afternoon, when the weather looks oh so much better, I take the little guy outside again. He still worries a bit about the new stuff all around him, but he worries less. You could almost believe that there is a smile on his face.

farmette life-87.jpg

One more photo from the first half of the day and this one has to do with goats.

farmette life-53.jpg

Say what? Where are the goats??

The fact is that in our spare minutes we've been talking about taking in two small goats. Friendly ones that are great with kids. We have the land and the mowing needs (goats are great at eating up your weeds and Ed is a reluctant mower). But we have very different ideas on how such a project should unfold.

Ed and I never argue. Really never. But we're not the same in our habits and so occasionally we get stuck in our own corners, incapable of movement, both convinced that our clearly delineated path is the wise one for us both to follow.

We got stuck with the goat project; we're ready to give up on the whole idea.

Perhaps some of you may be wondering -- aren't we too old for this? Don't we have enough on our hands?

Perhaps. But we both love being around animals (especially those who stay outside!) and the ones we have now are not very social. We care for them, but they stay at a distance. (And anyway, who besides Ed wants to spend time petting a chicken?) The cats have brought worry, without the sweetness of friendship. For instance, Jacket has disappeared. He was always here and now, for a handful of days, he's missing. A car? A predator? What?

Goats seemed like such a fine idea until we plunged into the details of the set up. And now it just seems like a huge chore, and no I don't want little calf huts to shelter them and invisible fences that we move around, and how are we going to manage in February with those little huts, and anyway, maybe making yogurt out of their high fat milk is a little bit crazy after all.

But I mention all this because we have been consumed by this idea. Until today when we got unconsumed by it. In the photo above, Ed is demonstrating how one can get close to Stop Sign and Dance (don't I know it!) and perhaps after a while they'll be less flighty...

In the afternoon, I put all thoughts of animals and plants aside and focus on Snowdrop.

The sun comes out (for a brief spell)!

farmette life-103.jpg

I'll only post two farmette pics: Snowdrop going in and Snowdrop coming out.

farmette life-111.jpg

(with a box of cheddar bunnies for the car ride home)

farmette life-142.jpg

Evening. I continue to battle a cold. Ed is out biking. But, the sun is poking out more and more, and we're still talking about goats.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019


At 5:45, Sparrow decides to test his vocal chords, chatting up a storm in his little bed, which stands in the little room he shares at the farmhouse with Snowdrop. (Both are sleeping over for a few days.) I give him a few minutes to settle down, but he continues to talk and Snowdrop is by now quite awake, so I take him downstairs and tell the little girl to keep on sleeping until her alarm goes off (at 7:15). Unfortunately, she does not want to miss all the action downstairs and so this is how I find myself up with two playful kids at the wee hours of the morning.

farmette life-3.jpg

farmette life-23.jpg

(He is strong. Good thing the gate separating his space from hers snaps shut tightly.)

farmette life-10.jpg

It is a school morning. Still, we all sit down to breakfast together. A habit I cannot break.

Wet and cool outside. Warm and cozy in the kitchen. (Ed dispenses the maple syrup. Always.)

farmette life-31.jpg

During the meal, we play word spelling games. Looking over to a chipper Sparrow, I note once again that he is in disgrace! (This is what we say when he wakes up way too early). Snowdrop asks me if I know what "disgrace" means. I am about to offer a definition, but she beats me to it, explaining that it is when you do something that is wrong, but not so wrong that you'd go to jail for it.

She is correct -- there are many shades of "wrong" in this world and Sparrow's chatter at predawn hours ranks low on a scale of "unsatisfactory to awful," nonetheless, we will all be tired today. Except for Sparrow, who will neatly compensate for his errors by taking long naps.

farmette life-41.jpg

(Outside, the lilac is ending its week of loveliness. Hey, do you see who likes to play high up in its branches? It's Dance!)

farmette life-53.jpg

Are we ready to go? (I am to drop off Snowdrop at school. Later in the day, I'll be returning Sparrow to his home and picking up the girl, for our usual quiet afternoon together.)

Snowdrop, can Sparrow borrow a pair of your bright pink socks? Thank you!

farmette life-60.jpg

(The two guys do not shy away from pink...)

farmette life-84.jpg

The school drop off is perhaps a tad chaotic. Sparrow is tagging along and normally, this is an inconsequential thing, but today he decides, just for the ten minutes we are in the school building, to be completely unhappy. And the class is getting ready for a field trip, by school bus -- a first such ride for the little girl. (She is very excited about that part.) And I haven't done a drop off in years so I only slightly remember the routines.

Well that's okay. Every drop off person has had a screaming infant in tow at one point or another. And Sparrow calms down the minute we leave, resuming his winning smile and easy going ways the minute I put him down on the farmhouse floor.

Later, as he naps, I take stock of the garden. There are plump buds throughout, the plumpest certainly belonging to the iris and peony.

farmette life-90.jpg

But at the moment, color can only be found in potted annuals. (Stop Sign lends her small form to give you perspective!)

farmette life-92.jpg

Among the perennials in the flower fields, just about the only blooms right now are from flowers that are white!


farmette life-97.jpg


farmette life-101.jpg

In the afternoon, Snowdrop is here again. She always pays homage to whatever is blooming, sniffing out the most fragrant whites today (without a doubt that honor would go to the potted alyssum)...

farmette life-108.jpg

And then we switch to play. Her energies rebound...

farmette life-123.jpg

... she is all twirls and dances once again.

farmette life-133.jpg

The evening is quiet. It's a sudden switch from two days of crazy busy. I don't mind either extreme, though perhaps in shorter doses than in past years.  Oh, but I do miss the little ones. When they smile, the whole place shimmers and sparkles. I wish we had had better weather so that we weren't so housebound, but looking at states to the east and south of us, I have to say, by comparison, we had a very lucky run of it. No one lost a roof. No trees were uprooted.

With only one eye open and only partway, I must sign off! Good night little ones everywhere. Good night parents, good night grandparents.

Monday, May 27, 2019

holiday Monday

Such a rainy day! You feel bad for people who planned picnics and outdoor events. Holidays are few and far between. To lose one to bad weather can be tough.

Here, at the farmhouse, we plan on staying inside: Ed, Gogs and the grandkids.

It is a busy day! A photo run will give you bits and pieces of it. I have time for little else.

Outdoor play for the kids? Forget it! In the early morning, Snowdrop walks out in her pj's and retreats quickly. It's cold! She tells me.

farmette life-15.jpg

I fix breakfast. The kids satisfy their hunger/impatience, by sharing some toddler puffies. All air, no substance, if you ask me, but they like 'em...

farmette life-30.jpg

Finally. Pancakes. Well, not for Sparrow (he prefers pouches of mushy foods) and not for me (I do love my oatmeal). But the other two are happy!

farmette life-32.jpg

We play. Both kids are really easy to entertain and keep busy, but it is a shame that it's not a day for the great outdoors. So many grand things to discover there! Another time. Today, we frolic indoors.

farmette life-56.jpg

farmette life-73.jpg

(She explains to him that it's a French book. He has that look  -- "French? What's that?")

farmette life-75.jpg

(The two nut thieves: we have a nut drawer and they both like to raid it.)

farmette life-99.jpg

(Lunch: I call it a picnic because we're not at the table. A long discussion follows: is it a picnic if it's indoors and on the couch? Is it?)

farmette life-106.jpg

And the rain keeps falling...

farmette life-112.jpg

Oh, do these two love each other!

farmette life-126.jpg

(He naps, she paints...)

farmette life-143.jpg

Dinner is a bit ambitious: tacos with shrimp in green mole. I cleaned the shrimp before the two little ones were even awake. The rest of the prep was sprinkled throughout the day.

farmette life-160.jpg

That's it! No more pics, no more words. I'm spent. Not because the kids required energy (they do, even as they would manage just fine if I had less of it), but because I have the sniffles and I need to get some rest. Tomorrow and the next day -- busy once again!

As I wind down, I keep thinking about the last two might: yesterday, Snowdrop was impossible to put down. She was up with endless questions and requests, long into the evening/night. Nonetheless, Sparrow slept through her loud clamors. Or at least he didn't utter a peep. Today it was the reverse: she was the tired one (he had naps, she did not). She was so ready to sleep, but he was not. He jabbered and thumped in bed for a solid hour after I closed the door on them. She didn't utter a sound.

My feeling is that the kids are so comforted by the other's presence, that they dont care about the noise. What lulls them to sleep is the scent, noise, movement of the other. I think about this because growing up, I always shared a room with my sister. I couldn't imagine being without her at night. That was postwar Poland, of course. And still, this weekend reminded me of those years. I may find it hard to balance the needs of two little kids right now at the same time. But they don't find it hard at all. In their world, they are in the same frame, the same orbit.

Okay, it was to be a wordless post. I'll stop clicking now. All is quiet. At your home too, I hope.