dystopian gardening 

7822C7DC-92EE-42E4-86EC-B71B7E2D7C69Has no one else noticed?  There are very few daffodils blooming.  This unnerving phenomenon is particularly apparent in my garden.  I have planted shit loads of daffs and narcissus over the years and I anticipate enough blooms to cut  several dozen inside. “A host of golden daffodils.”  This year’s crop, front and back garden is a handful, maybe 7. No, not even 7.  My next neighbor usually has a drift on the side of her house facing my side door.  It is a micro climate that blooms in full glory at least a week before mine.  This year, she has less than a dozen. Continue reading

land of lupines

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

movin’ may

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

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

open hands

Noxious weeds gone.

In 1851, The Whale, the English edition of Moby-Dick, was published, differing from the American edition with thousands of punctuation and spelling changes, and over 700 different wordings.  In 2003, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, the fifth book in the series, was published with 864 of similar differences between the American and British versions.  Has our understanding English improved in the last 150 years?

Joni Mitchelle’s For The Roses this morning.  Comfort music.  Not quite my first Joni but the first album that I bought when it was released.  Prior to Joni, I had been such a musical snob. I appreciated trained voices and songs that were a part of stories.  Musical stories. Oh, there were the Beatles, The Dave Clark 5 (my best friend’s favorite) and other distractions.  They were inconsequential, or so I thought. The American Musical Theater was my ‘real’ music.  And then Joni, thanks to a boyfriend, and also our newest Noble Prize winner.  I’ve been humming Dylan albums straight through all week.   Continue reading


Star fish fossil at the Museo di Storia Naturale in Milan

It rained in the very early morning and now again at dusk.  The day was by turn, cool, sunny, cloudy, hot and muggy.  What of my mood can I blame on the weather?

Julia and I continue to work on our gardens.  We are weeding and cleaning the back beds.  I am making space for some of what must be moved.  I’ve not heard back from the inspector who told me he would call back in regards to an extension of time before imposing a fine to give me time to transplant.  I hesitate calling in case the answer is not what I want to hear.  In the meantime, my across the street neighbor received a complaint similar to mine.  Their terrace garden is considerably smaller and their plants, although over 24” are all perennials whose final height is only in place for a few weeks.  Someone on the neighborhood yahoo group has taken to calling he who is complaining the garden gestapo.  I am almost more angry about this second complaint.  No, not quite true.  I am angry over my complaint as well.  I am still muttering as I garden and doing a fair bit of blaming. Continue reading

silver linings & rainbows


We are sinking into home.  Beds.  Couch.  Kitchen sink.  Julia’s cello.  Machines.  My first batch of tomatoes from the Farmers’ Market being sauced as well as a small pot of tomatillo sauce.  To be ultimately frozen for winter dishes.  I have missed the wonderfully large bunches of basil at the market.  I have none growing.  Me thinks no pesto this year. Continue reading

all that no longer fits

Some of what is more than 24″ 

Yesterday was a day of issues and challenges.  Two to be precise.  Two challenges that I had no idea I was going to come home to.  Both require lots of energy and some decisionmaking. After 24 hours of fretting and feeling sorry for myself, for us, it was time for action.  Action, in some cases, is a number of phone calls, messages left and then patient waiting.  So a measure of frustration gets added to the mix, but I posted on Facebook and also on my neighborhood listserv about the appropriate issues and the response from neighbors and friends has been so supportive.  And I really needed that.  A hazard of living alone, no one to vent to or commiserate with.  Online friends are not the answer to all the hard situations of the world but it felt good to keep one eye on Facebook responses as I started cutting down my beloved garden.

Continue reading


Sitting on the front porch, drinking a giant glass of iced coffee and eating a very sugared scone, both of which I have sworn off and desperately needed this morning.  After inhaling the scone and sucking up half the coffee, I begin to feel humanity seeping back into my bones.  I look down to see the nose of a squirrel about six inches from my foot.  I startle at exactly the same moment as the squirrel—I know this guy, he spends many a morning on my porch.  He moves around me, not quite out of sight. This is his porch as much as mine.  I feel my heart beat quickly after the startle and I imagine I see his racing in his chest.  We are not friends, both wary of the other, but not exactly unfriendly either.  I put my plate of scone crumbs on the floor six feet from my seat, half the distance between us.  He is still; his eyes on me.  I sit back down and he advances to the plate much more quickly that I would have advised had I been his mother.  He eats.  I do not offer him a sip of coffee but wonder if caffeine would have made him a squirrel-ier squirrel this morning.   Continue reading