Sunday, December 28, 2014

la dolce vita

The last time I was in Italy was October 2011. 
If you go back in the archives you'll find some posts about it.
I had a store then and every weekend (almost) 
drove four hours to the Catskills to run it.
 I was still practicing law, representing mentally ill people in court.

I've closed the store and stopped practicing law, except for some pro bono work.
I'm painting, almost full-time, and writing a book,
blogging (occasionally) and instagramming (a lot).

I've become a crazy cat lady.

Tomorrow I return to Italy. 
It will be cold, but it's cold here too.

There will be New Years in Bologna
known as La Dotta, La Grassa, La Rossa 
(the learned, the fat one, and the red)

and wandering through Venice without crowds.

It will be good to see new things, and 
it will be good to come home.
See you then. Be good. Have fun!

xo, Jen

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Christmas cats, flowers and a bunny.


A visit to Bow Street Flowers
filled me with holiday warmth and cheer,

and my house with beauty.

Aji finally left the tree 

to work on (re)arranging the flowers.
My work is done. She's in charge now.

Jane is sharing our Christmas in the house posts, so scoot on over here to join in.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

merry and bright

I love Christmas lights. Every night I stay up late, 
reading, in sight of the tree.
(Do you spy two cats?)

 My mantle is covered with a rainbow coalition of deer.

I made friends at the local pet store/cat shelter.
I wish I could bring one home, but two cats is my limit these days.

My son Luke, adopted this sweet cat in Brooklyn.
I can't wait to meet her.
(Am I grandmother to a cat?)  I'll bring toys.

The days are short and cold on this side of the planet.
I hope that you are filled with light and warmth.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Thanksgiving in the Catskills

I felt like I was living in a Robert Frost poem.
Stopping By the Woods on a Snowy Evening was on repeat.

Dinner was at our friends George and Gerry's house.
( and their three Boston Terriers--see Louie, above)
It was an especially nice group of friends and family.
Everybody contributed to the meal.

 There was just the right amount of snow--
enough to be pretty,
but not a bother.

I often find holidays stressful, and have struggled to simplify,
to focus on what matters, enjoy the little things.
Tonight talking to my son about Christmas I said,
Just give me a tree with lights and some hot chocolate and I'm happy.

Monday, November 24, 2014

fresh, local, seasonal

My last visit to the country I spent a considerable time watching ice form.  The creek water is shallow; it tumbles over jumbles of rocks creating small waterfalls, estuaries and coves. The temperature drops, molecules rearrange, and moving water, ice crystals and icicles mingle.

I was sad to read about the disappearance of glaciers at Glacier National Park. It's overwhelming, all of it.

And I keep thinking about this piece by John Lanchester, A Foodie Repents, in the New Yorker discussing, among other things, his Irish mother's spaghetti bolognese, and how she, who was at one time a nun, learned to cook. Also working as a restaurant critic, food trends, and  the politics of food--how the choices we make about food matter at every level. To a point. The point at which we can't feed the world with our seasonal, local free-range choices. 

He writes, "If shopping and cooking really are the most consequential, most political acts in my life, perhaps what that means is that our sense of the political has shrunk too far—shrunk so much that it fits into our recycled-hemp shopping bags. If these tiny acts of consumer choice are the most meaningful actions in our lives, perhaps we aren’t thinking and acting on a sufficiently big scale. Imagine that you die and go to Heaven and stand in front of a jury made up of Thomas Jefferson, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Martin Luther King, Jr. Your task would be to compose yourself, look them in the eye, and say, “I was all about fresh, local, and seasonal.”

So now I'll tell you about the meal that my three boys and lovely daughter-in law cooked. They bought my husband a smoker for his birthday and came to the country to present it to him and cook up a storm. Our new kitchen was put to the test. They made pulled pork (from a Catskills pig), kimchi, pickled scallions, kale (cooked with gobs of Hudson Valley garlic), biscuits, mashed potatoes, and ice cream. A dozen eggs from our friend George's chickens were used. A meal made with love. And as much local food as we could find.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


This way?

Or maybe this?

A bit of turquoise?

The changes are subtle but make a difference.
 Sometimes it's difficult to know when a painting is finished.

I am really getting into these dark paintings. Start with black and work out from there.

And then there are cats and flowers.


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

on the waterfront

The Italian film Shun Li and the Poet, is about friendship, mostly, and immigration, poets and fishing. It is poignant and lovely and sad, a little bit heartwarming, a dash of toughness. I found it on dvd at the library, a great source for movies. I also recently read a fierce and loving book called My Brilliant Friend, by Elena Ferrante, the story of the friendship of two girls in Naples in the 1950's. So detailed and fascinating and infuriating. It is the first in a trilogy, and I am making myself wait a bit before I read the next one.

The above pictures were taken last weekend, on the waterfront in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

Friday, October 31, 2014

rest in peace, Galway Kinnell

 One of my favorite poets died this week. Galway Kinnell. I was lucky enough to study with him, and, for a period of time, to call him a friend. He encouraged me to write seriously, to believe in poetry. I did, until I didn't.

Saint Francis And The Sow 

The bud 
stands for all things, 
even for those things that don't flower, 
for everything flowers, from within, of self-blessing; 
though sometimes it is necessary 
to reteach a thing its loveliness, 
to put a hand on its brow
of the flower
and retell it in words and in touch
it is lovely
until it flowers again from within, of self-blessing;
as Saint Francis
put his hand on the creased forehead
of the sow, and told her in words and in touch
blessings of earth on the sow, and the sow
began remembering all down her thick length,
from the earthen snout all the way
through the fodder and slops to the spiritual curl of the tail,
from the hard spininess spiked out from the spine
down through the great broken heart
to the blue milken dreaminess spurting and shuddering
from the fourteen teats into the fourteen mouths sucking and blowing beneath
the long, perfect loveliness of sow.
--Galway Kinnell 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

the blustery day

 All day the words Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day have been going through my head. Phase two of autumn is kicking in. The first phase is when you start to feel the edge--crisp air, russet leaves, the anticipation of heavy sweaters and crackling fires.

Then, bam! it's raw and windy, like today. Blustery. Flannel pajamas seem like a good idea. Lucky me, I got these gorgeous flowers from Bow Street, and they are at my side, warming me up.

I'll be making baked ziti and garlic bread tonight,
maybe baked apples,
a blustery day dinner.

Even the cats don't want the window open.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Provincetown, looking, painting

I took my son Matt to Provincetown last week. He likes off-season beaches
 and art, and P'town has an abundance of both.

I showed him my favorite galleries, gardens and houses, 
and he showed me things I'd never noticed,

like this gorgeous bit of sidewalk inlaid with iron and glass.
What's the story behind that?

There's a garden filled with sculptures I love to view through the wrought iron gate

but I never noticed the stunning stone wall
studded with geodes, minerals, marbles, glass orbs.

Provincetown has given me plenty of painting inspiration.
I'm feeling good about the switch from acrylics to oils
and these most recent pieces. Some clarity is emerging.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Autumn in (upstate) New York

A misty morning drive to Bovina for an egg sandwich takes me through this gentle upstate landscape. Rolling hills dotted with farmhouses, barns and the occasional Airstream, milk truck rolling down a country road…My crush on pink peonies and orange roses has given way to a deep love of russet, apple, pumpkin, the smell of woodsmoke, the sound of acorns dropping.

It's becoming an annual ritual for me to post this poem by Rilke. (2013, 2012)
The poem that gave me orchards in space.


     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)

The best thing about blogging is the friends I've made, and I'm not going to call you virtual friends either. I love that New Zealand Amanda's posts about spring coincide with mine about fall, and that when I am shoveling snow she will be sharing her peonies. It truly is a world wide web, both infinitely large and comfortably small.

xo, Jen