Sunday, April 26, 2015


There is brilliant, warm sunshine outside (and it's slated to be with us all week long)! It's a sign! Most obviously, it's a sign that the growing season is truly upon us. Typically I do not feel confident about putting things that aren't hardy (yet) into the ground until mid May, but looking at the weather maps gives me confidence. We're to have a real heat wave by the end of the week. I can start planting!

That clear sky (and a good night's sleep) also gives us a bit more clarity in the vision that Ed and I have for our travel adventure (together at last!) in July. The short list of possibilities gets severely slashed: Nova Scotia? Out it goes! No long range hikes with wilderness camping (that is not so wild as to send chills up my spine). Long flight connections. (Me, I was pushing for it: imagine all the lobster shacks lining the waterfront!) Maine -- another cross out. Too wild (in the mountains), too busy and private by the southern coast. Too many ripples in the water and dangerous swells and sea tides for kayaking (by my estimation). And so we cross off and toss out ideas, until finally we are left with just one  -- something we keep coming back to. Something that appeals to us at some level (as you can imagine -- different levels for the both of us).

I'll let it dangle like that for now. After all, we may wake up tomorrow and cancel yet again. Or we'll go. And while I have the floor, let me assure you, I'm making far more compromises to reach a common ground! Far more! (If Ed had the floor, he would say the exact opposite.)

Alright. New flights booked, old ones cancelled. Several calls to distant places to make sure what we want (what Ed really wants -- again, I have the floor!) actually does exist. And then we put it all aside for another day. Finessing the details need not happen until later.

And now is the time to take out the shovel and dig up the garden -- both in the new flower field and, too, to rework portions of the old ones a bit. I have not one, but TWO water pistols (one looks more like a water machine gun) to keep Oreo at bay, but honestly, since his day away with the chicken mama, he's been rather less feisty.

Immediately after breakfast...


I go out to work the soil in the new flower field. (The cheepers follow. Oreo does too, but a little to the side of the action.)




Picking out new plants and putting them into the ground then spraying them with a hose to settle them in -- this is the gardening routine that I love best. All the preparing, weeding, clipping -- all that is just background noise to the wonderful act of pushing something new into the soil, firming the dirt and stepping back to let nature do its magic.

(last year's expanded field)

(the beloved farmhouse, reflecting the blue sky)

In the evening, the young couple comes over, along with a friend, and with Snowdrop for a Sunday dinner at the farmhouse. A vegetarian meal tonight: roasted asparagus and radish, porcini mushroom and red wine risotto. I just get a wee glimpse and a brief cuddle with the baby. Snowdrop has plenty of doting hands to comfort her when the going gets tough!





Such a beautiful day... Inch by inch, row by row...

Saturday, April 25, 2015


Most of the daylight hours were spent on an exasperating, frustrating, inconclusive search for a July travel destination for the two terribly picky and not altogether compatible travel partners: Ed and me.

I have finally agreed to go back to some of our earlier adventuring (meaning: no prebooked overnights, tent and camping gear packed and ready for use, with lots of hiking and/or paddling thrown in). For Ed, the negatives of travel are not only in the prebooked tidy and pretty rooms, but, too, the hassle of taking complicated flights to distant places and being stuck there no matter what the weather or inclination -- until the flight back. Group adventuring is, for him, out of the question (you mean I have to talk to people and listen to what the guide says?) and campgrounds are where you go when it's midnight and you have no quiet corner to pitch your tent. Meaning when even the ditch by the side of the road is unavailable.

Me, I'm really squeamish about paddling where there are big ripples (I reject anything over grade I, especially given my attachment to traveling with my laptop) and I'm not too fond of bears, mosquitoes, big ocean waves and cliff-edged trails.

Do you see why there is so little overlap?

Right now, we have booked flights, but we intend to cancel them tomorrow. (I have invited my nephew to come stay at the farmhouse, so that should we choose to go somewhere, there would be someone to care for Isie boy and the cheepers, though if he comes and we go nowhere at all -- that'll be just fine!)

And so I have nothing, absolutely nothing to show for the day except a couple of useless flight reservations. Of course, there was a breakfast...


...and I did poke out on this cold and gloomy day to admire my flowers...


... and I said hi to the cheepers (it's so green outside already!)...


... but apart from this, we are bleary eyed from staring at our computer screens and not very enthusiastic about any of the trip options we have on the table right now.

At the end of our search efforts, Ed muttered -- maybe we should just go down the Wisconsin River for a few days... And you know, suddenly that just doesn't seem like such a bad idea. (Even though we've done this trip. More than once.)

We take a break. We run errands. We come back a touch more optimistic. We'll sleep on it. Yeah, we'll sleep on it all.

I bake Tartine Bakery brownies to fill the house with aromas that distract us from the cold day outside and the tedium of surveying open travel computer tabs inside.


In the evening, the energy level shifts. Snowdrop is our guest and she keeps us entertained.


In answer to the commenter who asked about her hand to mouth activity, consider Snowdrop and the mouse:


Or Snowdrop and striped piggie:


Or why not aim big -- Snowdrop and the Minnesota moosie:


Or Snowdrop and the upside down cow:


Or Snowdrop and the right side up cow:


All from tonight. How can you not smile and smile at this little girl?!

The evening passes. Snowdrop goes home.

Ed and I laugh at our earlier indecisiveness. Even as we have no Einsteinian moment as to what direction our summer adventuring should take.

Friday, April 24, 2015


If it's Friday it must be a more hurried breakfast...


A less thorough inspection of what's going on outside...


And a protracted trip to the grocery stores, to do the weekly shopping. All this must be finished by the afternoon hour, when I go and spend time with Snowdrop (...who is so acrobatically inclined right now that all you can do is watch, marvel and applaud and use all your skills to keep her calm during a feeding or reading of a book; the girl wants to go and practice her new skills!).

(sitting is not nearly as exciting!)

(I'm on the move!)

It's interesting how quickly I ascribe talents and inclinations to her. As if they were permanent, not merely a passing thing. In fact, we can't tell, I certainly can't tell if her her energy will always guide her to be as active as she is now.


But it sure does not seem like this child will retreat meekly in life and count the minutes until the end of the day.  This is a girl with spunk!


The rains begin to fall in the afternoon and they will continue to dampen the earth (though not our spirits!) throughout tomorrow. I'll be missing the second farmers market of the season (who wants to stroll around the square in the rain...). That's okay. I need a quiet day at the farmhouse -- the kind where you have inconsequential thoughts and you scheme and imagine and maybe bake something and maybe pick up your writing pen again.

Or not. The nice thing about being retired is that you can spin new plots and ideas for yourself when you wake up in the morning.

Thursday, April 23, 2015


I couldn't wait any longer. It has to be today. True, the night was so chilly that the water froze in the water dish we keep for the cheepers by the picnic table. But the forecast promises a warm up. Soon. And anyway, today is so sunny! Even the daffodils perk up!


And the cheeper girls seem somehow more radiant, more effervescent today (Oreo follows, at a distance)...


And in the new orchard, a few cherry blooms signal the coming of fruits. Maybe not this season, but soon!


Ed and I eat breakfast in the sun room, but thoughts of the porch are certainly in my head. Maybe next week we'll be out there again!


And immediately after breakfast, I drive out to my favorite shopping venue of them all -- the Flower Factory. Now! Today! It's time to take a look at what may be good for planting in the new flower field standing ready (after the bramble dig out operation).


There are very few people shopping for flowers so early in the season (at this possibly largest perennial retailer in the Midwest, just ten minutes south of the farmette). I talk to the owners and compare notes on which plants had trouble this winter. For me, the struggle is always with lavender -- it lives, but it tells me again and again that it would prefer a climate closer to that found along the Mediterranean.

It takes me several hours just to look, to touch gently, to admire. I pick out some new additions, but I'm proceeding slowly this season (in part because Snowdrop fills a good part of the day for me and too, I don't need to buy so much; I can divide some of the plants in my garden and spread them to new flower fields).

And very quickly, it's time to head for Snowdrop's home.

She is radiant and cheerful and shows off the best ballet pointy toes, so appropriate, given her ballerina "shoes"!


We try sitting up again...


And there are books to read...


And of course, her gymnastics are very impressive.

(look at me, grandma!)

(oh oh! I flipped to the side! how do I get myself up now?!)

Very impressive!

(yeah, I think so!)

And, too, I like to watch her work through her grabbing motions and I tell her that she is indeed the best grabber I have ever seen this side of Lake Monona! Snowdrop likes compliments.


When her mom returns home, the three of us go for a walk around the smaller lake.

(Snowdrop, can't you smile for the camera? Nope!)

(but I'll smile for mommy!)

It's both cool and warm, sunny and windy -- a day that reminds you of how easy it is to get complacent about spring and the good things it brings with it, at the same time that it nudges you to have hope, because really, we're done with the tougher seasons!

In the evening, Ed and I take a walk in our local county park.


It's quiet here most anytime we come (a very underused park!). And we're quiet too tonight, both lost in our thoughts -- mine straying toward people, his probably toward machines.


It is late by the time I get supper on the table. Cheeper eggs, asparagus, mushrooms. A spring favorite of ours. With a huge salad.

The day started prettily and ended beautifully. How good is that?!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

the next day

As Snowdrop plays with the intensity that is so part of her style, I'm looking outside the window in her home and thinking -- my those really are snowflakes out there! Oh, nothing that would stick. It is, after all in the mid forties F. Much better than the near freezing we had at daybreak. Snowdrop, your nickname seems very seasonal today!


Again we take a pass on working outdoors. Breakfast in the kitchen, both of us loving the oatmeal that, too, seems fitting for a day like this!


With the whirlwind of activities and travels, I've not caught up with the basics of life (for example, paper work) since before I left for England in mid March. This is the day for it. With a few solid peeks at the daffodils outside to remind myself of spring.


And of course, there is the afternoon with Snowdrop. She is right now leaping into new realms of physical adeptness. Huge push ups!

(I can fly! Sort of.)

(Hi, grandma!)

And tumbles!


And a more or less steady sit.


But more importantly, she is playful -- with or without guidance. And when she catches me watching, when she hears the sound of encouragement coming from me, she beams. And then I beam. And she beams some more. And chortles and goes back to mastering the next step of play (which, of course, is for her, hard work).


Who says you can't be energetic when you're housebound?!

Of course, eventually you do get tired...


Evening. I pull into the long gravel driveway of the farmette. Such daffodils there are!


At home, I look through my two new cookbooks (birthday gift) and, too, at the trail guide for a planned July adventure with Ed. A glass of kir vin blanc rests on the side. The good thing about spring is that not all days are beautiful. You don't have to work hard with a pitchfork and a shovel every single minute of the season.