Wednesday, July 31, 2019

July ends with smiles

When you get older (all you young people reading this, take note), you start paying attention to your physical capabilities a lot more. You have to expect changes and some of them are likely to reflect a physical slowdown. You can complain and recall wistfully how it once was, or you can simply use the new information and proceed forward with what you've got. My friends (include in this my sweetie) all belong to one of two sets: those who do not talk about limitations and those who recognize them, but choose to proceed forward with a light shrug and a grateful acknowledgement of all that's still good in their lives. Either way, it makes for very fine times together.

And so, it comes as no surprise that Diane's visit at the farmette was completely wonderful. In all the decades that I have known her, in all the travels and visits we have shared, I've never heard her wallow in distress, no matter how stressful life became. It's a good way to move through the inevitable shake ups and perturbations!

This morning, I had an early appointment and so once again I had to be up supremely early, in order to feed the cats...

(what do you have in store for us today, huh?)

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... and at least attempt a light lily trim.

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Later in the morning, the three of us sit down to breakfast together. It's a gorgeous, breezy day!  The porch is a piece of heaven right now.

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The man with the garlic mist came by and so I should be (mostly) mosquito free for the next few days. Life is good!

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And then, Diane is off on her return journey and I catch up on a few chores, before heading out to pick up the little girl and bringing her back to the farmette.

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Time to rest, read, regroup and rally.

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And then go out to dance class.

(cheepers: where is everyone going???)

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On time today!

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Yes, on time with the day, with the end of July. On time. On schedule. I have not fallen off course in my "week of people!" (See post of a few days back.) And that's no surprise: people, the right people, dont hold you back. They push you forward.

Onto August!

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

whispers of fall

It should have been a relaxed, leisurely day. It has so much going for it! Perfect weather. No appointments, no messy entanglements or chores. A friend visiting. And did I mention the fabulous weather?

Just before five in the morning, as Ed tossed slightly, enough to tell me he's awake, I ask him -- should we trap the kittens today?

Cursed words -- they will haunt me for the rest of the day.

His response -- you mean right now?
No, in time to get them to the clinic (which opens at 7).
We'd have to set up the trap...
I need you to do that part...
And then set it up a second time...
What do you mean "a second time?"
Well, for the remaining kittens. We can dump the first catch into a cardboard box.
Whoa... this sounds too ambitious!
We need to practice pulling the string on the door...

This is why in the predawn light, just when the mosquitoes are revin' up for their day's intense work, Ed is practicing closing the door on traps and animal carriers, all with the hope of catching the six kittens and their half sister and getting them to the vet today.

At 6:45, we're setting the food as bait, then standing back, waiting for the kittens to go in. And they do go into the animal carrier. Two, then three..

Ed! Close the door!
How many are in? I can't see...
Three, maybe four. Close it!
Here comes another...

Close it!

He does, with a bang. Two kittens manage to leap out just in time, the two remaining ones crash and thrash against the door that's loosely held shut by kitchen string. Needless to say, the kittens are successful. Both of them escape.

Well that was a bust!

I turn to my spent lilies. Easier to snip them than to play catch games with the cats. Ed patiently watches the cats as they sniff around the reopened carrier.
We're learning! He tells me. Next time, you'll have to be there to quickly latch the door.
And you can't wait too long, hoping for all six! Four is good enough! (Well, not really good enough, but better than zero...)
We'll try again next week (when the clinic is open for this kind of stuff).

Late nights and early mornings are not a grand combination. We are tired.

Still, I'm outside now and there are beds that need deadheading. I set to work in the flower fields, while Ed retires after the morning's excitement.

Flower photos (first one -- taken by Ed):

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(A very successful clematis plant, rarely appreciated, as it hugs the back of the bed by the parked cars...)

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A pause to deal with the hungry cheepers....

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(Can't you just feel that late summer vibe here?)

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(The day this particular lily finishes her bloom is the day that I start thinking about Fall...)

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Breakfast, with Diane and Ed, on the porch, because, well, it's just so perfect outside today!

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(with a sunny view toward a corner of the garden...)

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There is little mystery to where the day travels from here: Diane and I spend the better part of it on the porch, talking. Lunch, too, is on the porch (eggs from three cheepers)...

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And there we stay until it is time to pick up Snowdrop.

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The little one and I discover a whole new series of books that she immediately loves (the Zoey series)...

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... and it is hard to convince her that one chapter book, read cover to cover, is more than enough.
I'm losing my voice! -- I protest. Snowdrop is worried: you're not really losing your voice, are you Gogs?

In the end, she settles for another project -- putting together a kite with Ed.
But you can't fly it! There's no wind! Someday soon, okay? Such typical words, uttered to a child who understands "someday soon" to mean not very soon at all.

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Evening dinner: so many summer veggies to stirfry with shrimp! And there's no mystery to how we then spend our time: we watch the debate. A first for me, as I had been traveling when the previous ones took place.

Night. It's so cool that the quilt is a welcome cover. I can almost feel the first whisper of... Fall.

Monday, July 29, 2019


How we love our lifelong friends! They know so much about us! They track our families, they offer sympathy when needed and light frivolity when we need that even more. But what are the chances that they will always live close by? In America -- small. How many of your best friends still live within a fifteen minute drive of your home? A pathetically small number, right? Perhaps zero?

Maintaining long distance  friendships should be easy -- all that technology! And travel options! But the fact is, most of us are terrible at it and even though big ticket news items are indeed shared, it's the small stuff that falls by the wayside. And that's a shame, because as you and I know, it's in the small stuff that we most often find the most sacred moments.

Diane, my friend of law student days, arrived at the farmette today. I'm lucky. She is good about flying up to the farmette! (Well, to airports not too distant from the farmette.) My next 48 hours are going to be full of those minutes that you need to keep a friendship alive. So, once again, posts of few words, but surely not of few warm feelings.

First, though, the usual: a morning with cats and flowers.

This is the cat chaos that I face every morning. Enough to give you pause? Indeed! Especially when you realize that some of them may impregnate the others. Cats have no social prohibitions about mating with a sibling.

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We take out our Have-a-Heart trap and call a vet to see if we can figure out how to get a bunch of these cats "fixed."

Flowers? Well, we're now in retreat mode: I snipped close to 800 lilies today. That's 200 fewer than yesterday. I feel like summer is  coming to an end!

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Today's sweet stars..

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And in the afternoon, I pick up Snowdrop, who rushes over to tell Ed that he is very late in picking up Diane at the bus stop!

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The little girl plays alone for nearly the whole time Diane and I start in on our catch up marathon. I sometimes think that kids are very reassured by the sound of adult voices, telling stories that they can half understand in the background.

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In the evening, I make Aperitivi Rosati: lovely summery spritz drinks over which a discussion of life may begin!

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And eventually, Ed joins us for a dinner out on the porch.

Predictably, it is a long long time before Diane and I leave that porch. Empty glasses in hand, we come inside only to continue our talk in the kitchen... then the living room... until neither one of us has any zip left. Tomorrow! We'll pick up again tomorrow.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Sunday in six chapters

chapter 1: Do Not Neglect the Day Lilies!

If you're going to set for yourself the task of clearing away spent lily blooms, then it's important not to fall too far behind. Especially in the week when there are people passing through, who may enjoy a well tended garden. (My younger daughter asks me -- would it look that bad if you left them to their own fate? The answer is complicated: most gardens I've seen let the lilies be. But most gardens are not built around day lily plants. Mine are. The lilies dominate in many spaces and believe me, the beds do not look as magnificent with spent flowers drooping from long stems.)

But tending the garden should not creep too much into time spent with visitors (the younger family!) who are here only for the weekend. The conclusion? Get up even earlier than their wee one (who herself rises at 6:15)!

And I do. And I work quickly. I do skip a handful of beds and even so, I snip off upwards of 700 blooms. And I'm back in the house by 7.

Memorable images from my morning work:

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(The bed to the west of the porch is quite dense this year. I'll have to reign it in a bit next spring. Note that most of the lilies here have not yet bloomed. They're August lilies.)

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(The Big Bed is quieting down. One of the readers proposed that I do an album of the Big Bed through its seasonal changes. It's an excellent idea! A great winter project!)

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(One doesn't have favorites among kids and grandkids, but one does tend to find delight in a selection of lilies each year. These girls are definitely up there for me this summer!)

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(The lily bed by the porch in the early morning is only partly unfurled for the day. The flowers will open up right around breakfast time!)

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chapter 2: Good Morning!

Well now, there's stirring in the farmhouse! 

We ready ourselves for the day. ("Mom, do you need some more cream?")

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And of course, there is breakfast. Primrose ate her way through her fruit bowl as together, she and I were preparing the fruits for all of us. But there's still oatmeal! And kefir, and yogurt, and really bad coffee for some of the older folks. (My new machine did not arrive on time. Ah well. It made for a good story all weekend long.)

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Youngest, oldest. He eats she eats.

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And now my daughter arrives with her two kids...

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chapter 3: The Blueberry Adventure

Snowdrop had been eager to go to the blueberry patch with her cousin. Finally, this morning, she has her chance to lead the way!

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Everyone wants to be in on it!

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True, it is a little bit hot and a little bit buggy. But we get our berries! The two girls are the experts here: both have picked the warm little berries before.

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Having sampled the fruits (and reaffirmed for Primrose the connection between what she eats and where it comes from), we follow the path back to the farmhouse!

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... with a pause to have Primrose get to know our cheepers up close and personal. We have very well behaved, non-intimidating chickens!

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chapter 4: The Band of Cousins

There is a slight scuffle as to who should pound the xylophone. Bring out the drum. Two more sticks to distribute. We have a band!

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After a very loud performance, we (thankfully) settle into quieter play. The key here is to take possession of the reader's lap. It's an ever-changing configuration of little ones.

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So ends the farmhouse romp. The younger family is packin' up.

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chapter 5: The Brunch

I had wanted to fix brunch for everyone, but it was pointed out to me that this would require too much time in the kitchen. Our days together are not long. I've cooked dinner. Let's eat out on Sunday!

And we do. At Sardine.

(waiting for the last two gentlemen to arrive)

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Snowdrop does her marker sketches, Primrose attempts to do the same.

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Sparrow, who likes tall people, has a conversation (of sorts) with the waiter who admires his teething biscuit.

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And now it's time for everyone to leave and go home. This home, that home.

I'll take all the hugs I can get!

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Good byes are so hard.

chapter 6: Back to the Farmette Flowers

At least the flowers haven't gone away. They're there to comfort, to inspire...

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But it is awfully quiet this evening at the farmette. Ed and I plant some peas, then I throw one last glance at the flower beds.

Hi, Dance...


Hi little kitten, hiding in the lily field.


Flowers, cats, kittens. Gentle moments with my sweet partner in crime. Daydreams about future days, when the farmhouse will be buzzing with the sound of young voices again.