Having no pictures of my own these days,


I’ve taken to stealing them from my kids.

M is currently making a life-sized cow for her sculpture class. Before they started the project, the class went on a field trip to see what cows actually look like — not hard to find cows in rural Ohio. This one’s my favorite.

I worked on a dairy farm one summer. It’s kind of surprising what cows are really like. Sometimes they’d run around their field for no reason at all — they’re not always as staid as you might imagine.

My mother arrived. We walked down the street to get wine at the great wine store where nothing costs more than $20 and they can tell you what to buy to eat with Indian food. The answer was a dry Riesling. We got three bottles, but not all Riesling. We stopped at the drug store for a few things, then wandered back through the farmers market, where we got some bread, pasta, tomatoes, a few amazing pears and two plums. We ordered takeout at the Indian restaurant. They let us rest at a table with all our bundles while we waited, and then we walked home.

It’s kind of fun to impress people with my neighborhood.

We sat on the couch and watched Rachel Maddow as we ate. No kids at home can mean we no longer need to pretend to be civilized.

I took her this morning to the festivities at her old college. She’ll be there a few days, and then back. She seemed both happy and worried about seeing her old friends, which I suppose is the way it always is at those things.

Tonight I will go home, collapse on the sofa and eat leftovers. Hooray!

Things of interest


Phew — the upstairs is clean-ish. The downstairs is at least not deadly. My mother is coming to visit today, then leaving for the weekend, then coming back on Sunday. My sister arrives next Thursday and everyone leaves the Tuesday after. This has sparked a fit of cleaning, but it had to happen in any case — the kids are mostly not living at home, which changes things, and we’ve lived in our house exactly 6 years now, which seems to be just the amount of time to realize where things should be put, and which things, brought along from the old house, really ought to go. I’ve developed a plan, too, for the awkward corner of the kitchen. Apparently we can do nothing about this plan until M graduates from college, however there is some comfort in thinking that eventually the lightbulbs will have a better place to be than in the closet under the stairs behind the toolbox, the vacuum cleaner, and the tennis rackets. I think I will tell K this — it may change his mind about how long we need to wait.

M took this picture — isn’t it lovely? It’s from her print-making studio.

I’m thinking about Saturday. I suppose I should keep cleaning, but really I think I’m going to go for a long hike. I’ve got a 10 mile loop mapped out. I’ve got to catch up with my nemesis — the woman my age who can hike 13 miles a day with a backpack and up a mountain. I know I can do it — so I’m on a mission.

Sunday — gardening.

Okay — got to go.



I’m on a tear — so much to do I can’t even think.

Getting through it, though.

It’s fall. It’s cold at night, which makes it perfect for sleeping.

I’m pulling sweaters out and thinking about mittens and bulbs. It’s partly vestigial — there’s not much winter to prepare for here — but not completely unnecessary. It will start to rain in the next few months. It will get a little colder. Now is the time to clean up the garden and get stuff planted for next spring. In a certain sense it really is spring, since things grow here during the cool season, so you’ve got to get them in now.

Odd, but you have to replace the urge to hibernate with the urge to go outside and dig.

Anyway, that and cleaning the basement — that’s what I’ve been up to.

So —


A long weekend.

I cleaned out the basement.

It turned out that in order for K to clear the files off the floor in the dining room, a path needed to be cleared from the basement door to the file cabinets in the basement. It’s lovely now — the paper products are all on a shelf inside the door; the gardening stuff is all in the gardening stuff corner. You can actually see the surface of the workbench, and all the bicycle stuff is together, too. There is more to do — the camping gear is not arranged as well as it could be, and I suspect there’s a lot more that could be thrown away, but it was unbelievably pleasant this morning to want to cut a rose to bring inside and to open the basement door and find the clippers right where they ought to be, and not to have a bicycle bark my shin when I reached for them.

I thought some more about the best placement of grasses and flowers in the backyard. Wavered on the path issue — thinking maybe large stepping stones instead.

We got texts. M sent a picture of the plans for her life sized cow sculpture, and picture of the view out the new art building of clouds and trees after a big rain. N send a picture of an artistic lettuce planting. She was manning a booth at the Common Ground Country Fair, which sounded like fun. Draft horses and sheepdog trials and apple cider doughnuts.

My brother and his new romantic interest came to dinner on Sunday, bringing a double bed for N’s room, which meant I had to clear our her room to make room for it, which I did. The bed looks good, but I think there’s still too much furniture in the room. Still thinking about that. I also cleared out M’s room and vacuumed up unbelievable amounts of dust. She’s got stacks of paintings and drawings and papers and sketchbooks. I took them all out and vacuumed behind them. I moved the bed, which was hemmed in with portfolios and stacks of Vogue magazine, and vacuumed behind it. There’s still a huge heap of stuff to be put back somewhere, but it’s better.

I went for a walk with A and A. It was hot! and dry. It’s that time of year. We talked about paint colors. A and A are painting their bathroom. My neighbors are painting their trim — I came home and talked about paint colors with them, too. (They’re highlighting the egg and dart trim on their door, which is of course identical to our door, with gold paint. It looks really nice. Now I want to do ours, too! Of course, I cannot.)

I went to the grocery store. It seemed we had no food at all. I bought a lot of food.

I made chili and cleaned off the kitchen table. I vacuumed the downstairs. I changed the cat litter. By the time my brother arrived, the chili was simmering. I made the cornbread while K and D put the new bed together. By the time the new boyfriend arrived the kitchen was fairly civilized. They ate chips while I unloaded the dishwasher. He and K made the salad and we ate. It was good!


I think we like him — he cooks, and talks, but not too much.

We made plans for what to do for the grand visit — my mother and sister are coming soon for a longish stay.

We had the most delicious lemon cookie ice cream for dessert. The boys left. K and I read the paper in great tiredness, and when we went up to bed it was lovely that the huge pile of crap that has occupied the middle of the bedroom floor for months was no longer there.

I’m thinking about re-painting the bedroom. It’s green now, but there’s a nicer, greyer green in the study — either that, or just a soft grey.

So that’s that.

In the garden


I spent most of the weekend in the garden.

I picked apples (but have not yet made applesauce) and poked around. I weeded. I planted a few things. I thought about this whole meadow idea. I’m realizing that our grassy area is so small that it really can’t be a meadow. I mean, it can be a meadow of short grasses with taller more interesting ones along the edges. But we do need a place to drag the chairs around.

Spending time out there — I also read Vanity Fair (the magazine) and talked to my sister on the phone — makes it easier to make sense of garden plans. I pulled a bunch of bricks out of the inexplicable rock heap under the apple tree. I cut back the ginger (which isn’t really ginger) and the dried gladiola leaves. I don’t even like gladiolas — would it be okay to just pull them up and pitch them? Or maybe just move them — they’re in a very stupid place.

We have plans for a path, too. That will change things, too.

The weather was perfect.

What I’ve got to do is to fill in the grass there behind the chairs, with carex pansa and carex divulsa for the truly shady parts. It should have been filled in long ago except I listened to my brother who told me not to buy as much sod as I needed. The fire circle has to get a bit bigger. And we have to make a path along the left edge of the picture, leading to the compost bin.

Behind where I’m standing I’m thinking about bees.

And taller grasses with interesting sexual parts (that is what the meadow man called them) mixed in with flowers — maybe gladiolas? — waving around the edges here and there.

What a pleasant weekend.

(Look! Here’s the idea!)

This morning


On my way to the post office, to mail N the hooks she mistakenly had sent to me, I saw:

2 women with large bandages, one on her foot (under her nylons, in sensible heels) and one on her knee. The latter was much younger, with no nylons and a short skirt.

2 women on the bus, comparing their bright plastic glasses.

1 woman in a large quilted coat — what will she do at noon when it’s 75 degrees?

Lots of people outside the hardware store, including a man in a suit with two large brooms, and another man, not old, who told me he remembered when the train set was much larger.

The bus was packed, but this time people moved to the back to let more on, and halfway up the hill the busdriver started letting people in the back door, where there was more room. What a good idea — they’re all students anyway, who ride for free.

We have made it to Friday at last.

Treading water


I’m treading water here.

The house is full of enormous boxes full of packing peanuts, plus five garbage bags full of that bubble wrap, not to mention piles of the things that were in all that packaging. All stuff from my mother-in-law’s house. Some of it, for instance the bowl she always served beans in, can be incorporated easily. Other things, like, for some reason, her butter dish, I can’t imagine using. She used it every day for as long as I’ve known her. For some crazy reason it seems too intimate.

We’ve also got some pieces of art which she wanted us to have. One is quite large and I’m not sure how I feel about it. Perhaps one of the good things about having it resting up against the wall in the dining room is that we can figure out how we feel about it.

We also inherited her odd little round Swedish mirror, which I have suddenly developed very fond feelings for. That’s already up in the hall in the place that always needed a mirror.


At work, too, I feel completely snowed under. I just cleared out a pile of unread New York Review of Books, though, and that has helped a lot. I think that if I can just get my desk cleared, it will make it that much easier to identify and then do the things that are lurking under there, needing to be done.


Odd items


I am now wondering why I sent her some of these things — this one was for nostalgia as much as anything. We had something like this when I was growing up. It was used to grind the nuts for thumbprint cookies at Christmas.

Apparently it is fall, now.

I’m feeling behind — behind at work and behind at home. I went to a talk by John Greenlee about meadows and grasses at a local nursery last weekend. (Actually, this criticism of him here is apt.) As a result I now have a lot of plants waiting in my garden to be planted — both grasses and other things. But before I plant them I need to think about the as yet unbuilt path. So there’s that. I did water them this morning, though.

Oh, there’s this and that, and I just got back and now it suddenly feels like Christmas is breathing down my neck. Last night it occurred to me that it might be a good idea to knit Christmas hats with attached beards for the girls.


Or not.