Tuesday, March 03, 2015


The natural world is, today, in its monochromatic phase. A squirrel leaps from snowdrift to the crab apple. It's the only place where you'll see color right now (not in the squirrel who is, predictably, gray, but in the bits of fruit still clinging to the tree -- faded remnants of another day, another season).


Never mind. It's all inconsequential. We were to have more snow, we didn't have more snow, we may get a half an inch of wintry mix, or not -- these are the details of a day that matter if you can't rid yourself of a preoccupation with the dragginess of this winter. Me, all I can see is the string of sunny days down the pike (starting soon!). Everything else is just a wait, made tolerable in the way that airport waits are made tolerable by images of what lies ahead.

Breakfast is fine. Ed isn't going to give me an easy shot, though again, it hardly matters when there are copious bunches of daffodils and ever-exploding orchids in the frame.


You would think I'd be dragged down, too, by the small amount of sleep I logged in last night. Sometime midway through the night it struck me that the bright days ahead will be a lot more fun for Snowdrop if she has a jacket that isn't as huge, or as confining as a snowsuit for our outdoor adventures. There I was, a 3 a.m. shopping for my granddaughter. Successfully! (I hope.) Next week will reveal whether she appreciates my efforts on her behalf.

In fact, I'm not dragged down at all. I am cloyingly chipper and happy, all the more so because little Snowdrop is dropped off at the farmhouse for her Tuesday visit.

(cheek to cheek with mousie)

The little one cycles through a lot of terrain today! Play with mousie, play with moosie, play with grandma's camera, sleep, squirm, eat and then another round! Consider her day in this whirligig of photos (some on a self-timer, which makes for its own interesting game!):

(her "I'm not a newborn anymore" face)

(let's go wild with Minnesota moosie!)

(grandma, you are not moosie!)

(grandma, could you hold me?)

(okay, I'm happy again)

(very happy.)

(and very tired)

She leaves. I turn off the music that she enjoys so much. Suddenly the farmhouse is quiet. Too quiet.

Monday, March 02, 2015


It was the day for my annual skin check. My doc and I are the same age and we share something else: a desire to get to the essentials. Rather than starting each visit with polite how are yous, we instead get to the heart of things by asking  -- so where are going next? She and I share a love of travel and though our trips are somewhat different (I haven't been to a resort in a very long time), it hardly matters: we like to weigh options out loud and we have in each other a ready audience. Luckily it's like visiting a dentist: one can do an exam and chat at the same time so no minutes are wasted and it's a lot more pleasant than listening to the doctor recite your skin imperfections, giving them clinical names that make you seem terribly flawed.

I mention this because today I had to cut the travel talk short and work in the fact that I was a grandmother. Well wouldn't you know it -- my doc became a grandma of a baby girl this past Thanksgiving! I worry now how we're going to fit in mention of trips and granddaughter progress during future visits.

In the middle of this week, we are to have our one final blast of real winter. Snow, arctic air, bla, bla -- the usual. After? Sunshine and a warmup. You can't really get me to complain about three bad days when we have the beauty of spring waiting to make her presence known. 

There is a beautiful poem by one of my favorite poets -- Szymborska. It's called "Nothing Twice" -- here are the first two verses:

Nothing can ever happen twice.
In consequence, the sorry fact is
that we arrive here improvised
and leave without the chance to practice.

Even if there is no one dumber,
if you're the planet's biggest dunce,
you can't repeat the class in summer:
this course is only offered once.

I thought quite a bit about it today. It struck me how much I adore my granddaughter and how I'd move mountains for her. And how thrilled I am to have this chance to spend time with her and give her only my best words, my brightest smiles. Maybe the poem is wrong then? Maybe, in being a grandmother, you get to have a stab at being an even better person. To repeat the course, as it were.

My photos from today:



The entrance to the barn is so iced over that the cheepers cannot pass. I come out to lure them with bread. Each in turn flies over the tricky spot.


I sneak away without telling them that after their bread treat, they have to fly over the ice again to get back in the barn. The exercise is good for them!


After my appointment, Ed and I go for a walk. In our "neighborhood." Did I mention that the sun is piercingly brilliant today?


We hike off trail, trampling down the variously distributed snow and last year's prairie. Next summer, this field will be abloom with cone flowers and goldenrod.


Here's one last good look at winter. Deer on a field of snow -- yes, it all belongs to yesterday's season. (I'm forward thinking.)


Finally -- an afternoon with Snowdrop.


Oh, Snowdrop!


And from Wordsworth:

Blue-eyed May
Shall soon behold this border thickly set
With bright jonquils, their odours lavishing                
On the soft west-wind and his frolic peers;
Nor will I then thy modest grace forget,
Chaste Snowdrop, venturous harbinger of Spring,
And pensive monitor of fleeting years!

Sunday, March 01, 2015

putting words in the mouths of babes

Sometimes you can well guess what goes on in the mind of an infant. Where is my food? Take me out of this car seat! Sometimes you can only imagine.

As I launch into my second (and, unfortunately, last) day with little Snowdrop (after a night where I was on edge and she was perfect), let me give the little one an adult vocabulary and let her speak through the photos I'll be posting. Of course, I can't say for sure this is what would be going through her head, but it certainly seems plausible.

Here's our day together, with my thoughts and possible Snowdrop thoughts:


me: wow, she is still asleep! and the swaddle didn't totally come undone!
snow: will she feed me if I wake up and turn on my demanding whimper? I'll give it a try...


me: first she eats, then I bathe her. I am such a sucker for natural baby product that claim to have not only lavender but also pansy flower extract. It feels like I'm lathering her with a spring bouquet! Oh, but bathing her in the sink is hard. Phew! I didn't let her slip through my fingers down the drain!
snow: I love bath time!


me: I'm going to dress her in the spare jammies I keep at the farmhouse. Otherwise she'll outgrow them! There, fresh and ready for the day!
snow: She obviously wants me to look cute. Alright, I'll oblige.


me, to Ed: today, you take the breakfast picture. Snowdrop is joining us, of course!
snow: So what's the deal here, she eats while I watch? Is that even fair?


me: Quilt time! On the tummy, then on your back! Belle, the cow will keep you company!
snow: I think I'm going to really love this cow with the skinny legs -- once I learn how to pick her up!


me: This bamboo bandana bib is so soft! And it snaps in the back -- nice!
snow: Wait, is it time for food, or time for pictures? I'm pretty patient for an almost eight week old, but you're pushing it, grandma!


me: Not a whole lot of sun, but it is in the twenties... Just for a few minutes. To the barn and back.
snow: I hate hate hate hate putting on the snowsuit and cap! I'm just going to howl the whole time you're doing it! Fine, I'll quiet down, but only if you keep the stroller moving! Do not stop for a photo! Hey, grandma, are you listening to me??


me: Oh! The parents just called to say they're coming home in a little while! I have to settle her after her outdoor adventure! Snowdrop, will you have one last dance with me?
snow: I miss mommy and daddy. But okay, grandma. I know you love me too.

Saturday, February 28, 2015


The day dawns brilliantly! It's cold, but the sun is strong and spirits, at least our spirits down here, at the farmhouse, are high!

Breakfast is a delight. Daffodils are selling at $4 per huge bunch. Irresistible and such a strong statement about the inevitability of spring.


The rest of the day belongs to Snowdrop, who is visiting at the farmette.

At first, when she arrives, she takes stock, looking for the familiar.


Finding it, she pours forth the smiles.


We play the dancing moose game (what, you don't know it? it's where the Minnesotan moose discovers itself to be in Madison... Ha ha ha! So funny!)


I remember the first time I left my kids overnight. There was no texting, no email, no cell phone. You left a string of phone numbers and hoped nothing would happen between the time you were at one and the next.

Not surprisingly, barely an hour had passed since her drop off and Snowdrop's parents were texting, inquiring about her wellbeing. She was, of course, fine, but I wondered, had she been a wreck, would they have fretted? Ah, technology! It reassures, but it also can exacerbate worry. Still, on balance it offers the opportunity for a quick check-in. You can always decide not to make use of it. (By the way, typing with one finger while patting a baby's back with the other hand is ... interesting.)

After lunch, Ed takes a minute to cuddle Snowdrop. Both have an expression of delight, with a touch of terror...


I take her outside then. It's as warm as it'll get today -- upper teens, but the sun makes it an almost warm set of minutes. Though I limit the first run in the newly assembled farmhouse stroller to the mailbox and back.


In the mailbox, I find the Etsy baby quilt I ordered. Terrific turnaround! I must have searched a thousand quilts. This one was the obvious choice. For the strawberries. For the birds. For the cheepers!


Of course, you can't just keeping on going, from one thing to the next. The girl needs a break. I put on Chopin Nocturnes, and little Snowdrop adopts one of her favorite resting positions. (This is when I get the post written.)


Evening is about to set in at the farmette.  In a repeat of yesterday, deer come to dig and graze in my large flower bed.



I don't usually post this early, but hey, I'll grab my minutes of quiet time as they come. She's gurgling on my lap, content. I'm gurgling on the computer, equally content.

Friday, February 27, 2015


There is a predictability to a winter day. Unlike in the other seasons, the orbit for us is limited and our chores are what they can be, given our indoor lifestyle (especially in the absence of a good snow base).

So you wont be surprised to read the same old Friday listing of grocery shopping, cheeper feeding, bla bla bla... Same old.

And yet, for me it's all so splendid when the day is bathed in sunshine!

Breakfast comes with an exclamation mark! (Even though it's Friday, so it's rushed and, therefore, in the kitchen.)


And though it's still terribly cold outside, the cheepers find their corner of trapped sunshine and are out to greet me as I go to give them bread.


True, it is a treacherous visit these days. The snow from the barn roof melts in the sunshine and drips down, only to form a thick layer of sloping ice. How the cheepers manage to walk on this is beyond me. Ed and I cling to anything in sight to stay upright!


In the afternoon, both parents of Snowdrop have to work and so I come again to spend time with the little one. I had been reading an article in the NYTimes about a woman who traveled with her 8 month old to the south of France. The child isn't really the focus of the article (and I have so many editorial comments on it that I really can't get myself to even put a link to it -- it's probably not worth your time), but I did pick up a couple of references to the baby's fussiness before dinnertime and loud fussiness at bedtime, to say nothing of an ungodly wake up hour. I look at Snowdrop now and I contemplate if she will be a tough one to take places. (My girls were so easy to keep quiet that we could travel with them everywhere, even when they were just approaching toddlerhood.) I think not. She looks like a peaceful sort, no?


Her wake ups this afternoon? All squishy smiles!


We have some grand play times...


... and lots of lovely stretches together. She doesn't have shoulder issues yet, but it's best to think ahead!


And it all feels magical to me!

Evening. I cook dinner. I look up and notice a deer sauntering just outside.


Tomorrow Snowdrop's parents have obligations that require a Snowdrop drop off for the day and a first night ever at the farmhouse!  It's tomorrow's story, of course, but I note it now, because who knows how much time there'll be for writing. I'll post, but depending on the degree of her spiritedness, it may be a very short post!

Thursday, February 26, 2015


If you're thinking I'm about to post some fine weather news, you are so wrong! We're in the bitter cold category again and though there is relief in sight for the weekend, it's a marginal upswing -- one that keeps us well below freezing still.

But, let's not neglect to recognize the joy inherent in a sunny day!


Yes, you could say there's relief in sunshine. But, too, for me, relief comes from my early morning trudge to the clinic to get the much anticipated, much needed cortisone shot in the old shoulder that has been frozen since sometime in September and that has become so uncomfortable, that I've been  up now three nights in a row, incapable of finding a good position for it. To say nothing of the horror of discovering that Snowdrop likes this and only this shoulder for her dancing nap.

What a relief!

Breakfast is, therefore, even more chipper than usual.


The sun streams through the window, the orchids are exuberant!


And the afternoon? It belongs to Snowdrop. Her parents have much to accomplish today and so her mom hands her sleepy countenance over to me...


...and out they go. Snowdrop wakes up and looks me straight in the eye, as if to ask -- what do you have in store for me today, grandma?


We roll out a quilt and set to it!


Yes, of course, as always, Snowdrop has her serious, pensive moments...


But the grins are not far behind.


She is such trusting spirit!

(You want me to do what? push my hand up? okay...)

May she always know how many loving hands there are, reaching out to help her navigate the tough world out there!

My shoulder relaxed, my heart full, I return home, where we confront the selling of the '93 Escort. (Can you believe that it actually makes me sad to see it go?) Ed has cleaned it up, I take better pics of it. Buyers (like me!) are drawn to the bright and beautiful and the old red girl is made to look as beautiful as she can get.


We immediately get calls on it.

And by the light of the moon, she sells. For $700. I could have held out for more -- there was a line of interested buyers -- but I liked the first couple who came for her. And, it is a huge relief to have this car buying/selling stuff behind us.

Thanks, old girl -- you never once let me down.