Saturday, October 03, 2015


You could say that this was an ambitious day, despite the fact that we spent the first hours luxuriating in a reclining position, deep in conversation about the morality of war and globalization (we do not disagree on either) and not getting onto breakfast until close to the noon hour.

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I caught up on indoor chores and had little interest in working outside. I am not yet used to the chilly winds. I give you just one farmette photo:

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But in the mid-afternoon, I pick up my daughter and Snowdrop...

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where are we going?!

... and we drive to a place where I took my daughters when they were just a bit older than this sweet child. It has been one of our favorite autumnal hiking destinations -- Indian Lake. Time to immerse the little one in the magic of a nature walk.

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it's really windy, dear girl: you need a jacket

It's a splendid hike!

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A first for the little one, but surely to be repeated again and again.

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It's wonderful to see Snowdrop appreciate the forest, the bouncy step, the brisk air...

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The leaves are just in the very first stage of autumnal color.

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But already Snowdrop knows how to bliss out in the magic of the season in this very beautiful place.

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At the farmette, the light is already fading when I return. Each day, the cheepers retreat a few minutes earlier. I heat up left over chili and think back to walks I've taken with my own girls when they were so very young.

Friday, October 02, 2015

are you glad it's Friday?

Early morning, pretty landscape. That's almost a given here, at the farmette.

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Sunshine in the cooler season puts us in the sun room for breakfast -- another habitual act.

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And here's another commonplace occurrence: when I shop for groceries (always on Fridays), the clerk will ask me (as he did today) -- so, are you having a good end of the week?
Today, upon hearing this, I was too nit-picky in my answer. I wanted to side step the question so I said -- is that like a "how are you," where you're just supposed to say "fine thank you" and provide no detail?

In fact, I wasn't sure if I was having a grand old end of the week. My morning, breakfast notwithstanding, had gotten off to a rocky start (coordinating stuff with Ed was tricky) and I have, in my non-Snowdrop hours, too many things to think through and no clarity of thought going into the weekend. But the clerk was just being polite and I should have said "yes, thank you" because of course, in the scheme of things, my petty issues are just that -- petty and my days are otherwise sublime.

Therefore, when at the next store (Trader Joe's) I was asked by that clerk -- do you have any plans for the rest of the day? -- I took an honest but more positive approach:
I'm baby sitting my granddaughter, I admitted with a smile.
Well that's nice of you -- he answered.
I love my granddaughter, I said.
Lucky you, said another customer.
And I emphatically agreed, even though I wasn't sure which part she regarded as lucky.

Snowdrop is delighted to see me, possibly because I bring over one of her favorites -- a little bunny rabbit with a blue head (she had left it at the farmhouse), or maybe because she is just a "delighted in the world" kind of baby.

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But wait a minute -- am I using the right words here? Is she still a baby? Here she is, playing with her rhythm stick:

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Ed had asked -- at what age do they become a toddler? I mindlessly answered -- oh, around one.

But Snowdrop is just a few days short of being nine months old. Is she really not a toddler yet?

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Even when she deliberately rolls around on the floor, looking at me and chortling away at the silliness of it all, I no longer see her as an infant.

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In the afternoon, Snowdrop has that what now, grandma look.

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I can't disappoint her. We go outside to smell the autumn air.

There is a strong, gusty wind on this sunny October day, the kind that gives a rosy glow to cheeks and noses.When she protests a jacket, I tell her that in Poland, she would not get away with being outside at her age without a cap.

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We walk and sign songs and I think -- actually, I do feel it's Friday and I'm glad it's this day, in the same way that I am glad when it's another day. There are always so many surprises in each one!

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Thursday at the farmette

Oh, Snowdrop! You do wake up earlier here than at your own home. But you carry your enthusiasm for the day no matter where you are!

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Well, okay. Farm people wake up early. Ed and I wake up early. Join the party!

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But breakfast first! You've eaten your main grub, but you can certainly munch on a kale/apple/spinach cracker while we eat. Happy? Yes, I can see you are.

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It's cool outside, but we must go out anyway. There is something special in sitting in un-mowed grass. Birds, Snowdrop -- you're listening to the songs of birds.

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The farmhouse feels so warm and cozy afterwards. The sun comes into your play space -- so pretty!  But I can see that you can't stay put for long. You're definitely in an exploring mood. Stand up and get going. But first, a moment of rapture: those circles on the chair! Wow!

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Nap, eat, play -- it's always a little different here at the farmhouse, but your routines don't vary greatly. And that's a good thing, I think.

Late afternoon. Hey, little one, it's time to head home. Good bye grandpa Ed! (Ed, she likes being held upright. Why do I bother saying these things: the two of them always figure out on their own how to chill together.)

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I have a few more minutes with you, little girl... Should we walk your home neighborhood? It's windy!

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But you don't mind, do you? You've always been remarkably brave in the cold.

And now it's time for me to leave you to your parents. I hope I hand you over in good spirits -- a little calmer, wiser, older. Yes, no doubt -- you're all that, Snowdrop!

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!