Sunday, September 30, 2012

how I know it's autumn

I baked gingerbread. Wore flannel. Watched football. 
Thought about building a fire. Contemplated winter reading.  

Decided I cannot live without warm red cabinets in the new kitchen.

How do you know it's autumn?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Catskills Weekend

looking down the driveway

My weekend was mostly work--cleaning out the store.
 Many things to the thrift store, others to sell on Etsy, to keep, to give as gifts. 

 But there were autumn leaves, everywhere.

Morning coffee by the waterfall.

A visit to a customer to see the soapstone counters in her kitchen. 
This magnificent barn is on her property.

Her charming yellow farmhouse in the distance.

Her pond, thick with water lilies,
 where she holds skating parties in the winter.

Why the sudden interest in soapstone? I'm saying goodbye to the world's ugliest kitchen. Every surface covered with laminate the color of Silly Putty. Tiles the color of Silly Putty, walls and molding the color of Silly Putty. After ten years of this (granted, only on weekends) we are treating ourselves to a new kitchen.

Soon the hammock will come down, and winter will be in sight. 


     The leaves are falling, falling as if from far up,
     as if orchards were dying high in space.
     Each leaf falls as if it were motioning "no".

     And tonight the heavy earth is falling,
     away from all the other stars in the loneliness.

     We're all falling. This hand here is falling.
     And look at the other one ... It's in them all.

     And yet there is Someone, whose hands
     infinitely calm, hold up all this falling.

                               -Rainier Marie Rilke (translated by Robert Bly)

Monday, September 24, 2012

the little black vase

My usual method of flower arranging is: put a bunch of the same type of flower in a complementary vase/jar/pitcher, or when the garden is flush, gather a bunch and call it a posy. Today, inspired by Jane, I tried to pay attention to foliage, texture, and shape. 

I  rounded up my black vases. (The one above is actually charcoal grey, but isn't grey the new black?)

Flowers are scarce, 
but I found plenty of interest in my garden.

I don't care for the color or look of sedum, but
 mixed with hydrangea it becomes interesting.

I use so much hydrangea that I don't really see it any more,
 but adding pine needles freshens it up.

You can't go wrong with black and pink.

Be sure to visit Jane's Flowers in the House

Friday, September 21, 2012

wood slice paintings

My father was a collector of many things, and my favorite was his wood slice paintings. They remind me of him and of California, where I used to live. (Some of you may remember, I wrote a bit about them here.)

Some were made for tourists  in the 1940's and 50's, when the development of interstate highways and motels made road trips a favorite American past-time. Most are from the western states.

Cabins and lakes were a favorite subject. This one is pretty typical.

Many are of mountains.
I inherited my Dad's collection and have hung most of them in our Catskills house.

The oldest ones I have are of the Cliff House in San Francisco. 

They are probably from the late 19th century.

I've sold a few on Etsy, and through there met a collector, E.G., who loves them as much as my Dad did. This is a picture of the oldest one in his collection--it's from 1895, and it is a beauty.

From unknown Arkansas historical collection.
E.G. sent me this picture from a World War II Japanese internment camp--they are sawing a log to make wood slices for paintings. Seeing it added a new dimension to the paintings for me.

There's not much information about them, even on the internet, but E.G. hopes to write a book about them. He was told they were a German tradition from the Black Forest, where they are known for elaborate carved plaques. He is a photographer, so could take pictures for the book.

Desert paintings are rare. Here is a desert painting from E.G.'s collection.

My Dad only had one of the desert.

 Some look like they were done by Sunday painters, not for tourists.

I view them as folk art.

 They are sweet little slices of history. Souvenirs, memories...

 I have had so much trouble with the new templates (see Comments), I've reverted to the old one. Sorry for any frustration this may have caused!

Hope you have a great weekend--I will be cleaning out the store.


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

yes, you're in the right place

Warning: Work in Progress

 I'm trying out some of Bloggers new "dynamic" styles.

First I tried Mosaic--too confusing. Now I'm going back and forth between Magazine and Flipcard.
 If you look at the upper left side of the page, you can change the views yourself, temporarily. Classic is closest to the old one. Unfortunately, I have to make the new look go live before I can really test it out. I'll be fooling around with this for a day or two, so please be patient.

Don't worry, it's still me.

Monday, September 17, 2012

spring or fall?


The leaves are still green in New England and there are flowers in the garden. Yet everywhere I see signs of autumn (a/k/a fall). Pumpkins and chrysanthemums at the grocery store, fat new novels at the book store, blogs memorializing the end of summer.


Yesterday I was pruning and wondering what season is most popular--spring or fall. I am ruling out summer and winter (except, perhaps, for skiiers and surfers). I think those months are enjoyed for moments and memories-- a glass of lemonade, walk on the beach, fresh tomatoes, drifting on the lake, girls in their summer dresses (title of a classic story by Irwin Shaw)...the first snow, cozy by the fire, a mug of hot chocolate...


Spring and fall are anticipated for the fullness of the season, for the transition from something strong (winter, summer) to something gentle, yet intense (spring, fall). They are seasons of longing-- think spring fever. And now,  fall fever. I look forward to it--I am already storing books, like a squirrel does nuts; filling the fruit bowl with apples, and looking forward to taking my sweaters out of the cedar chest. If pressed, I would say fall is my favorite season. 

You? Or do you live somewhere where the seasons are not so strongly defined? I lived in California for 14 years and sometimes people say to me--didn't you miss the seasons? Ask me that question in October I will say yes. But in January, deep in snow and ice, California looks really good.

Picture captions are my fanciful seasonal interpretations.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

losing the narrative

Today is the last day the store will be open. I'm not there--Harriet is taking care of things. It's just too strange and awkward, and a little sad to be in charge of my own clearance sale.

The store has been the spine of this blog, 
an identity beyond myself. 

I feel like I'm losing the narrative flow here.
 When I take disparate scraps and turn them into a collage, 
my goal is for the sum to be greater than the parts.

I hope that my love of books, history, and nature; 
occasional trips to auctions and elsewhere, 
will give me interesting observations and experiences to share with you
without the store to hide behind.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

continuous as the stars that shine

The first house we owned was a row house in Brooklyn. It was built in the mid-1800's and was 15 feet wide. When we bought it, our 15' x 50' back yard was what is known in Brooklyn as an Italian lawn--concrete. Eventually we had it sledge hammered away and we planted a sweet garden. Thinking about it is giving me incentive to learn to scan old photos, so I can show you. Anyway, it was then that I got my first White Flower Farm catalog, and ever since I've dreamed about The Works. Read the description--poetry, yes?

Enchanting as lichen is, and moss and ferns and seed pods, I love daffodils (and all other flowers). I'm  considering this mixture of 100 daffodils and 20 hostas. I have the perfect place for it, and autumn weekends free for planting bulbs. The thought of seeing those daffodils in the spring might sustain me through the winter when "on my couch I lie/in vacant or in pensive mood" *. If I went to the nursery and tried to choose such a large quantity I would have a nervous breakdown. What do you think?

*William Wordsworth, Daffodils

Sunday, September 9, 2012

gone to seed, part two

Dishevelment is less appealing in my cultivated Massachusetts garden,
than in the natural wildness of the country. 

 In the country there are no thoughts of pruning, weeding, dividing.

 Determined to improve my observation skills,

I study the various stages of flowers

 and enjoy their late season unruliness.

So interesting that the delicate white lily of the valley 
has a sturdy orange seed pod.