Sunday, December 30, 2012

and it snowed

 Night snow.

Morning snow.

 Snow through the window.

Today is a day for tidying. I shoveled snow this morning, and this afternoon will take the ornaments off the tree, though I will leave the lights for one more night. Needing a break from the machinations of Lincoln's cabinet I picked up a book by Donna Leon which makes me want to book a flight to Venice.

 Or perhaps Key West. Marilyn Silver, who I got to know through the Longyear Gallery next to my old store, spent a month in Key West last winter and did a series of cottage paintings. I bought this one-- looking at it warms me and takes me far from the snow.

The pink car is probably why I chose this one.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

waiting for snow

The house is quiet. 
My oldest son left yesterday,
and my husband went to the Catskills this morning.

I decided to stay home with the other boys and the cats--
to enjoy a couple more days of the tree, 
and the first significant snow of the year, due later this afternoon. 

 I'm always melancholy around Christmas, and spent much of yesterday with my new Miss Havisham lap quilt made by dear Annette of Chasing Lightning Bugs--reading, napping, conversing, drinking tea, petting cats...  I'm reading Team of Rivals--it is 1861 and the Civil War is heating up. Oddly (or not) Great Expectations was published in 1861.

I've always loved Annette's quilts. Her most recent are inspired by classic novels she listens to in her studio while working. Jane Eyre, Mr. Rochester, Madame Bovary, Pip--all have inspired quilts.

Today I'm listening to Bach, and thinking about things large and small. I've never been much for new year resolutions, but last year I decided to work on being a better friend. It went pretty well, choosing one thing, so I'll do it again. I'm not sure what--I have a lot to work on.

There are cottage roses on the back of the quilt, cats on the ottoman.
 Later it will snow.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

greetings of the season

 The tree is up.

Aji helped.

 I made cranberry orange (two of my favorite flavors) puffs. 
They're somewhere between a cookie and a scone.

This is where I'll be for much of the next week--
the lights are both pretty, mesmerizing, and comforting. 
(The cats are camouflaged in the brown blanket on the chair.)

 Wherever you are, however you celebrate (or don't), whether you're with family, friends, or solo,
I hope you are enjoying the holiday season.



Tuesday, December 18, 2012

around here

I love watching the mother cat (Masa) groom the kitten (Aji). She licks and nibbles, spends much time on the ears, including inside. Last night Aji started grooming her mother, inside of ears included.

How's the holiday stuff going? There is now a tree, though it's still on top of my car. More deer and greens and holly around the house. Lights (colored, always) are up on the outside tree.  I'm thinking about making apple cake and cranberry orange cookies and am pretty sure my sons will take care of Christmas dinner, because they enjoy cooking more than I do.

I'm concurrently reading a trio of books: Team of Rivals, by Doris Kearns Goodwin; Best American Sports Writing 2012; and Out on the Rim, by Ross Thomas. They balance each other nicely. When I've had enough of Lincoln I can read about a baseball player. You don't have to like sports to enjoy Best American Sports...they are human interest stories, always well-written. I just finished one by a writer who, like me, knows nothing about cricket and who went to India and Bangladesh for the 2011 Cricket World Cup to learn. It was completely confusing to him until he played street cricket with the 10-year old son of a taxi driver, and then it came together. Like all the best writing it's about more than one thing. 

And if, like me you have a semi-secret love for espionage novels, you should check out Ross Thomas. He published 25 books in the 70's and 80's but never got the attention he deserved.

It's cold and rainy and I'm planning to put together a sweet potato and cannellini bean casserole. How to spice it? Cinnamon? Curry? Garlic? Which way should I go?

Saturday, December 15, 2012

shut out the noise

I'm glad there's not a bird in there.

Maybe because of yesterday, this decal jumped out at me as the perfect stocking stuffer. My definition of family is deep and wide. There's room for you in the teepee.

I tend to get stressed out before the holidays. Today I decided I'm having none of it--I'm shutting out the noise and expectations. Life is too short. So if I don't get the Christmas cards done or buy a tree until Christmas Eve, that's okay. (And if you have a good tip on keeping indoor cats happy, I'm listening. It's my first time.)

 I hope you are enjoying a lovely stress-free weekend.



Wednesday, December 12, 2012

around here

It's all about the kitties these days. 
And small deer are appearing everywhere. 
Also the occasional bear.
Soon a tree, which the kitten will assume is a new toy for her.

I've been reading


In recent years I've had trouble finding new fiction that I really love, that resonates and makes me think. Books that are beautifully written, take me deep, and make me care about the characters and the story.

 My luck seems to be changing. I wrote here about The Dog Stars and here about The Snow Child.

In the past week I've read two achingly beautiful, mournful books that take big themes--war, friendship and loss (The Yellow Birds) and family, history, and loss (The Orchardist) and make them intimate.

Of course, just because I love them, doesn't mean you will. Book love is so personal--each reader brings different experiences and desires to a book. But if I do read a book that is moving and illuminating, I like to tell people about it.

Read more about The Orchardist here and The Yellow Birds here.

Friday, December 7, 2012

upstate, downstate, downtown, uptown (and kitten)

Since closing the store, I've been spending weekends catching up on neglected friends and favorite places. The weekend after Thanksgiving, we went to Vermont to see dear friends who live near Bennington, a small town that has THREE independent book stores, and a fourth until a recent fire.

Then breakfast in Amherst, where I planned to visit Emily Dickinson's house, but the timing didn't work out. I did, however get to have an excellent college town breakfast--such fun to overhear ernest conversation about Kierkegaard and Fellini while eating French toast.

Last weekend to the Catskills, where many businesses have the Closed sign up for the winter, but lunch at Two Old Tarts--Senegalese peanut soup, sour cream apple coffee cake, and hot cider, was sublime. I visited friends, holiday shopped and found an antique desk for my son, so....

 Sunday morning I drove to Brooklyn to deliver the desk, then uptown to spend a couple of hours in the Metropolitan Museum, then midtown where I met my son and his girlfriend at a holiday fair. That night, walking the streets of Manhattan into a neighborhood of stately townhouses I had such a feeling of familiarity, and realized that for an instant I felt like I was walking within a book I just finished--Mark Helprin's In Sunlight and In Shadow. He writes with such love and intensity about New York City (and does so even more in one of my favorite books, Winter's Tale).

Monday morning I walked through Chinatown into the Lower East Side

where I loaded up on pickles and bialys, neither of which are properly made in Boston (and don't get me started on Massachusetts pizzas which, for some reason are all made by Greeks).

I'll be home this weekend, hanging wreaths and trying out cat names. This may be my last long post for a while, since I now have to share the computer.

What? You want more kitten pictures?

Enjoy your weekend!


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

say hello

Our new kitties--mama and baby. Mama and three were found under a porch when the kittens were about 10 days old. The local cat rescue took them in and fostered them. Two of the kittens were adopted together and we brought these two home today. Mama is only about a year old but she's very mellow, and the kitten is everything you would want in a kitten. I kept trying to take pictures of her awake, but they are all a blur.

Their foster home names were Miss Kitty and Matisse (the tip of the baby's tail is white, like it was dipped in paint) but we're going to rename them. Suggestions welcome.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

red, black, cream

Source: via country on Pinterest

Source: via country on Pinterest

With the help of Gerry, our good friend and neighbor in the Catskills, who is a designer, we hammered out the details for the new kitchen. Please bear in mind that it's a contemporary cedar house located in the woods. It won't look like any of the above kitchens but they give a sense of how the colors and materials look together.

 -Black beadboard island with Carrera marble (white marbled with grey) top.
-Red lower cabinets and drawers with soapstone (black marbled with white) counters.
-Two cream upper cabinets (there are four windows) with glass doors, and maybe a red beadboard back.
-One cream upper cabinet with no doors (open shelves).
-Wide plank reclaimed wood floors.

It feels odd to be writing about this...not really comfortable. Too personal? Too decorate-y? Anyway, I probably won't write about it again until it's done. If you're wondering about the tiles, I'll just say celadon, evergreen, bamboo, burgandy. You'll have to wait for the rest.

Back to Thoreau and Emily Dickinson soon.


Friday, November 30, 2012

four seasons, one kitchen


Blues and greens, touches of pink and yellow. 
Those are the colors I gravitate toward, surround myself with,
that my Massachusetts house is filled with.

The Catskills house is stone, tree bark, moss, and autumn leaves.

World's ugliest kitchen has been demolished. I've been imagining a barn red island with a dark soapstone surface. These floors. Natural cherry cabinets. This weekend I have to make choices. Orders must be placed. 

I have these tiles that I got at an auction (where else?) and badly want to use them on the walls/ backsplash. Cabins, canoes, pine trees...they are perfect. Except the colors.

Perfect in a white kitchen. 
But the Catskills house is the colors of autumn.
Please tell me--

Can the colors of spring and summer

exist in a kitchen with those of autumn and winter?

(Such a frivolous dilemma.)

Enjoy your weekend!