Julia and cake

Half the year has been lived.  Not really wanting to measure progress and projects but all the same, I wonder if I am standing in the same place. Surely, I have moved either by my own energy or the winds of changing times. I can quickly recount gains and losses, some sad, some hopeful, some just as they are. Like the cracks in my porch ceiling that I watch without judgment.

Julia is on a meds vacation weekend for the first time in 6 or 7 years.  When she first started on stimulants for her ADHD, she almost stopped eating and quickly began losing weight, but her behavior in school made the meds indispensable. So, she was medicated on weekdays and crazy on weekends.  She was tough on therapists and in church school on the weekends and she also ate like a starving woman.  During the week, I filled her food with as many calories as possible and there was at least one bottle of Ensure, rebranded dinosaur milk, every day. After a few months, Julia’s eating and weight stabilized and although she has always been in a low percentile on the growth chart, her docs have been comfortable with her progress.  But since the beginning of the year, she’s lost 8 lbs. on a steady decline. I wanted to blame our summer healthy diet—fruits and vegetables, a little protein and dairy and very little starch—but she has been losing since January. Continue reading

land of lupines


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img_1138We drove up to Ashland, WI, during the weekend, a short trip to go to a memorial service.  I’ve not been that far north and although the weather was wet, damp, then rainy and rather cold, there were trees to drive through and lake beaches to walk on. I fell into writing about where Julia is this summer which I’ll post separately.

I loved getting out of Madison!  Apart from a very few quick trips to the Chicago burbs, its been months since we’ve left. I love Madison but I crave travel. Driving up north was unexpectedly satisfying. Quiet, gray, rolling hills, lots of evergreen trees and water.  The lake looking so vast that a casual observer might mistake it for a sea. And the lupines! I have not driven through a landscape of wild lupines.  Like in Barbara Cooney’s story of Alice Rumphius, a kid’s book I haven’t thought about in years. The lupines were beautiful. Someone at the memorial said they were invasive. It may be wrong but I wish to be invaded by lupines.  I stopped by the side of the road more than once trying unsuccessfully to capture what I saw.

The lupines were worth the drive. Continue reading

water skiing


Colsac Skiers came to the little bay a few blocks from our house today and Julia got to water ski with them.  She loved it!  And after sitting for her first ride, she really wants to stand.  They will be back in two weeks.  We’ll see if she can do that later on this summer.

I heard about this group a few years ago from a friend, but hadn’t checked them out because we were traveling.  Today, we came upon them setting up when we were riding our bikes.  We turned around and went home, Julia changed into her suit and we were back for the adventure.



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Julia graduated from eighth grade on Wednesday and had a pretty wonderful day.  She picked out her dress and the blue rose for her hair.  She is a kid who loves dressing up and here was an occasion. She was even willing to pose for numerous mother pictures.  The bus ladies were effusive with the compliments.  These two women who drive and help out on the special ed bus greet her every morning and appear to love her chatter.  Julia entertains them every morning. Continue reading

just my view from the porch this evening


Countries, governments, empires rise and fall.  I was not a bad student of history. I learned the three to five to seven reasons why Greece and Rome and the city states of Italy and England and France and various dynasties of China fell.  Somewhere in those reasons was usually some catastrophic event— a war lost or a prolonged war won but leaving a weakened empire or a natural disaster. I imagined that the linchpin of any fall was that catastrophic event.

When David and I lived in Frascati, Italy, we would talk politics with our landlord and his young adult children.  Mr. Maoli told us that the United States was powerful now but that as a nation we were children. He said that once there was nothing stronger than Rome, and in another age Venice, Siena, Florence and Genoa were all powerful. And now, they were not. I agreed. He made sense. Nothing, even a democracy, even the leader of the free world, lasts forever. Continue reading

movin’ may


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4:00 p.m.: I’ve spent the day in the garden beds, digging up the last of the bulbs in the front terrace beds, transplanting ajuga from those same beds to the side in front of the fence.  This is a place where the worst weeds grow. Ugly, ugly, ugly.  I planted ajuga on the fence line last fall.  About a third of it took, so I’m trying again. Cutting back spent bulb plantings and weeding just a tiny bit. I have some mighty incredible weeds after our week of rain.

Julia is working on cover art for a class project while she listens to music. Kid bob mostly with a bit of classic rock mixed in. “I just love ‘Thriller,’” she tells me. How can I not smile indulgently?

For the cover art, Julia sketched the old fashion way and then transferred her drawings to an iPad app for coloring.  When finished, the enhanced drawings will all go into a collage app to be arranged on a background and titles. For a child who stumbles over simple directions, she has figured most of this out by herself. When she’s run into problems and asks me, which surprisingly she is doing with more regularity, she is patient as I figure the problem out and usually fully understands my solution about half way through my explanation. Continue reading

my major



Two deaths. One the wife of friend; the other the mother of a friend no longer. The first was a sound shake. A woman who was ill and being treated, who was expected to survive, to be healed. An unexpected death even though there was probably some scientific percentage that she would not survive. Like David. Twenty percent of those with heart transplant don’t survive. And we never considered for a moment that to be David.

We are all always part of the percentage. Continue reading

dane county farmers market


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Sitting in front of the Capitol.

I miss writing about our travels, but of course, we haven’t been anywhere for awhile.  Browsing the NYTimes Saturday morning, I found an article about Genoa  and I melted with the memories of last year. I added my favorite restaurant and B&B whose owners took such good care of us to the comments but I was ready to sink into my grumpy, petulant child self because there will be no travel like that this summer. And then, after breakfast Julia and I bundled up and went to the Madison Farmers Market and I decided do some writing about the pleasures of Madison and surrounds from now until the next time we board a plane.

So, the Madison Farmers’ Market. Correctly titled the Dane County Farmers’ Market began in 1972 and is America’s largest producers-only farmers’ market. It hosts 300 vendors and completely encircles the Capitol Building. Continue reading

last week



Rain and thunder for the last two morning.  My brave girl, terrified of thunder, puts ear plugs into her ears, wears her sister’s red rain jacket and grits her teeth against the challenges of the day.

Breathe, honey.  She runs into the rain towards the little bus that drives her to school.  I am grateful for her bravery, for loving bus ladies and for her teacher who thanks me for a heads up email. Continue reading