Off to Peru

July 5, 2019

Wednesday afternoon I drove DH and Lucy down to Connecticut. They are headed to Peru for a ten-day father/daughter trip at the start of DH’s summer of guiding. The only flight I could wangle with frequent flyer miles was early morning of the 4th of July, with Lucy returning on the 15th at nearly midnight, so I had booked them out of Hartford, only twenty minutes from Amanda and Jon’s house.

The trip down was punctuated by the discovery that our car’s air conditioning was broken. (This is not a feature that is tested much at home.) So we drove the highways with all the windows open, shouting over the roar of the wind. It reminded Lucy and me of our trips to family reunions when she and Jon and their cousin Jessie were little, when we couldn’t afford to fix the air conditioning and thus similarly drove, sweating and shouting, with me as the driver making up songs in an effort to keep the children entertained.

Sadly, Amanda and Ami were away, but Jon was a fine host. We had pizza and gelato and watched Raiders of the Lost Ark, a film Lucy somehow missed in childhood. It was lovely to hear the familiar sound of Jon’s laugh and the murmur of him and Lucy talking as I washed dishes in the kitchen.

Getting ready for this trip had been pell-mell.  DH worked through the weekend at his old job, had meetings Monday, and then spent Tuesday trying to pack everything he would need for the next two months. He laid out all his clothes and supplies in Jon and Amanda’s room at our house, crossing off lists. In the interstices I was mowing, weedwhacking, and fencing — and pulling him away to talk to people on the phone at Social Security.

But at last all the details were ironed out. After 20 years, he had a new email address. Health insurance had been successfully switched to my name. The packs were packed. The dogs went to the vet overnight. Alison would tend my barn that evening.

Yesterday morning we kissed Jon goodbye and then I dropped DH and Lucy at Bradley International airport.

After hopscotching across the U.S., this morning they finally landed in Lima, Peru. I hope they have a great time.

Happy Thanksgiving!

November 24, 2018

Jon, Amanda, and our granddaughter Ami have been here for the holiday. This photo cracks me up. At eleven months, Ami rarely scowls, but she had just waked up from a nap and was not excited by the photo op. Nor by that day’s below zero temperatures.

It had snowed on and off Wednesday with high winds while we all were traveling. (I had to go to Vermont for the dentist and the kids were driving up from Connecticut.)

However on Thanksgiving day itself, dawning at 2° F, the clouds slowly began to clear. I got up early to have coffee and start baking pecan pies at 6 AM. Soon the whole wheat buttermilk rolls were rising. The pies came out of the oven and as the rolls baked, the sweet potatoes were boiled and mashed. Next the turkey went in to start roasting while I chopped onions and celery for the stuffing. Most of these items had vegan twins so I was watching the clock and my list, crossing my fingers that I could shepherd it all in and out of the single oven to be ready at the same time. It worked! I tossed a big salad — putting the romaine aside for the chickens! — and at 2 PM we all sat down to a casual, fun feast.

Lucy was at a college ski camp in Canada, so it was Jon, Amanda, Ami, DH, me, and our friend Mike around the table. Despite missing Lucy, I felt very happy.  Our first family Thanksgiving at the farm!

Friday was clear and 12° below zero. All the views were lovely (including this one, shot by DH from our bedroom window). The sun has put in an appearance so rarely this fall that one could hardly quibble that the temperature was a bit nippy for November.

The star of the holiday, however, was Ami. We all doted on her for three days straight. So fun to wake up in the chill of the morning to a baby.

Our dogs were fascinated by her noises. Maybe she was a giant squeaky toy! To keep her safe from their boisterous enthusiasm we set up her portable playpen in the living room.

Grandpa and Ami.


Ami was willing to come to me for short periods. Here she’s inspecting my watch.

Currently she tests most items for edibility.

Though Amanda brought a number of freezable teething toys, Ami was most fascinated by a giant ripe pear.

She worked at it with dedication on and off all that day.

Here’s Jon reading Ami a bedtime story. (The E. H. Shepard Winnie the Pooh print on the wall behind them hung in Jon’s — and then Lucy’s — childhood bedroom. It was later water-damaged in storage but I can’t find another copy, so for now I accept the wrinkles.)

This morning Jon took this video of me cackling and Ami squeaking — shared laughter.

The only unhappy moment in this wonderful visit was saying goodbye. Happy Thanksgiving to all!


A Quick Stop Home

October 22, 2018

Lucy was home this weekend for a brief mid-semester break. It was hard as both DH and I had to work and then had additional work commitments Friday and Saturday nights, but early Sunday morning we celebrated her 21st birthday (which actually occurs in another week) with gifts and birthday donuts before she returned to college.

It was the typical family birthday, mostly used books, but also some ammunition for her biathlon rifle and new strings for her guitar. (We call that being well-rounded.) Our friend Gary had kindly wangled a couple of signed ski posters for her dorm room wall.

Almost before we knew it, Lucy had packed up her books, loaded her skis into her friend’s car, and was on her way.

Twenty-one years old and taller than I am! Reading books on philosophy and international political economy! Just the other day she was sitting in my lap while I read aloud Billy and Blaze.

Where does the time go?

A Shopping Trip

August 3, 2018

Yesterday Lucy and I left at 8 AM to drop the dogs to stay at the vet (DH being away) while we were in Vermont for the day. We have scheduled twice-annual trips to Burlington for the dentist since she was a baby. Years ago, Jon, Lucy, and I would all take the day off from school and while in Vermont we would do all our big-city shopping. Now it’s just Lucy and me, she is taller than I am, and she sometimes takes the wheel. But it’s still fun, nostalgic for me, and a great opportunity to spend hours in the car chatting with my girl.

After our dental appointments we headed to the mall for some back-to-school shopping. Given that we had to squeeze in four hours of driving, an hour at the dentist, and a half an hour on each end to tend to the dogs, it was a bit of a Marx Bros. rush through the clothing racks. Still, we found a couple of pretty shirts at J. C. Penney and a denim jacket and pair of shorts on clearance at Old Navy.

However we were searching for jeans. At 5′ 11″, with her Nana’s narrow hips and her skier’s muscled thighs (think Eric Heiden), Lucy is tough to fit in jeans. She tried on pair after pair in store after store. If they fit in the waist, they were sausage casings on her thighs. If they fit in the thigh, they gapped four inches around her waist. If by some miracle they fit everywhere else, they were inevitably half a foot too short. Naturally, the style from a few years ago that fit her perfectly is no longer made.

But even the struggle with jeans is nostalgic. When she was little, I (not a seamstress) used to fold the waistband of any elastic pants in a pleat and stitch it in back to make the pants stay up on her hips. Other styles she simply rolled down from the top. Poor Lucy always wore her shirts long to cover the lumps of extra material. Needless to say, she was an undemanding child. Once she became a teen, however, I discovered Ebay. Now our quest is simpler: if nothing in the store fits, find any style that works and Mom will find them online! Last night I searched for and found a pair of her old jeans on Ebay and ordered them.

It was a long but happy day. I am storing them up carefully, like a squirrel.

Hot Work

July 1, 2018

It’s hot and humid. Flies are biting. The cows are miserable and wait at the barn gate every morning to come into the dark. It has been too clammy to sleep and I am up each day between 3:00 and 4:00 AM.

Damon was felled by a stomach virus so we have not worked on the driveway. I have been outside every day mowing and weedwhacking and picking rocks. I know intellectually that I am making headway but it’s hard to see because a lot of the work has to be done over again so soon.

I try not to get caught up in worrying about it — my dreams of accomplishment for this week were, as usual, unrealistic — but to keep working slowly and steadily. Progress here has always been incremental. Sometimes the increments have been infinitesimal. I tell myself that as long as I’m moving forward I am fine.

Today marks a month since my builder told me in an angry email that he would be back to me “in a couple of days” with a list of work (paid for a year ago; my mistake) that he would finish this summer. I have heard nothing. This unpleasant situation weighs on me heavily and I try not to think about that, either.


I do chores early tomorrow, put the dogs in the vet, and drive to get Lucy in New Hampshire. It will be a long day on the road but lovely to see her, to visit with New Hampshire family, and to see Jon, Amanda, and Ami in Vermont on our way home. The air-conditioned car will be nice, too.


Sobering News

June 13, 2018

I love this photo of our son Jon, his wife Amanda, and their baby Amelie, taken just a few days ago. Ami is a bright and happy baby who smiles all over her face.

Yesterday Ami was sedated for an MRI to check the development of a lung problem that doctors had been tracking since she was about 12 weeks’ gestation. Amanda endured almost weekly ultrasounds throughout her pregnancy and there was a fear that at birth Ami would have to be rushed to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Then Ami was born and everything seemed to be fine. No NICU, no special care at all. We all breathed an enormous sigh of relief and thanked God. Later office tests seemed to indicate that the non-cancerous mass in her lung was now of negligible size.

Thus the news from yesterday’s MRI came as a shock. The mass is still there, it is impinging on Ami’s lung development, and it must be removed so the lung can develop properly. The doctor prepared Jon and Amanda for the possibility that the entire lower lobe of the left lung might have to be removed. While this should not affect Ami’s future breathing capacity (the remaining lobe should grow to fill the cavity), dealing with the mass at all will be a major surgery and clearly not something one wishes to contemplate for their six-month-old baby girl.

No plans or dates have yet been set but I am trying to think of ways I can be as helpful and supportive as possible.



January 8, 2018

In Minnesota, the sub-zero weather was so bitter that several races had to be canceled. (That is Lucy’s breath frozen to her face.) Nevertheless, she qualified for the team going to the biathlon Junior World Championships, in Otepää, Estonia!

Her shooting wasn’t where she wanted it to be but her skiing speed kept her high in the rankings (racers ski penalty laps for missed shots). Qualifying for the team was a feat, especially considering that these were her first real biathlon races on snow.

Unfortunately, between expenses and timing it is unlikely Lucy will be going to Estonia in January. Her goal is to qualify for and compete at the college championship ski races (NCAAs), which are held only a day or two later in the United States. Biathlon has the potential to be a great opportunity for her but it is one that will wait. Though Lucy will continue to train and strive to improve, for now the college circuit is her primary focus.

I really understand very little about sports but it makes me happy indeed to see my girl rewarded for her gritty dedication, day after day for years.