Thursday, January 30, 2014

Beatrix Potter winter

I don't get to the Catskills much in the winter.  I miss it. I long for the rolling hills, 
red barns, tiny villages, the slow way of life, my eclectic group of friends, 
our house in the woods, strange and interesting snippets of nature...

However we do have our own little suburban wildlife dramas. This red squirrel (just like Squirrel Nutkin), not much bigger than a chipmunk, is a regular, and he chases off the big grey squirrels. I now have several feeding stations, so you might see chickadees and nuthatches at one feeder, bluebirds at another, woodpeckers and cardinals at the suet feeders, doves competing with the squirrels for what's scattered on the deck. It's like a school cafeteria, where every table has a different group. The drama kids, the jocks, the band kids...

Rabbits come at dusk and hang out close to the house. Aji watches them for hours. It is all very Peter Rabbit. They are almost tame.

I hope the fox doesn't come back.

Monday, January 27, 2014

flowering fleeing

And I was alive in the blizzard of the blossoming pear,
Myself I stood in the storm of the bird-cherry tree.
It was all leaflife and starshower, unerring, self-shattering power,
And it was all aimed at me.
What is this dire delight flowering fleeing always earth?
What is being? What is truth?

Blossoms rupture and rapture the air,
All hover and hammer,
Time intensified and time intolerable, sweetness raveling rot.
It is now. It is not.
           - Osip Mandlestam, 1937
The last known poem written by Mandlestam, shortly before being sent to a Gulag camp by Stalin, where he died in 1938.


Saturday, January 25, 2014

small things

I counted six different types of tracks in the snow. Birds and squirrels are regular visitors, occasionally I see rabbits, and a possum and fox have put in an appearance this winter. I keep putting out food, and am rewarded by sweet sights every time I look outside.

I painted all day, and tonight's dinner was red pepper hummus, feta cheese, pita bread, carrot sticks and strawberries. Dessert: Cranberry orange ricotta cake from Trader Joes--it's delicious.

Emails have been flying back and forth as decisions are made for the wedding flowers. We all like blues and deep purples for the bride and boutonnières with things like pine needles and rosemary. I've gone down the Pinterest rabbit hole with bouquets.

I finished Body & Soul by Frank Conroy, and give it a near universal recommendation--it's smart, deep, and heartwarming.

I hope you are having a pleasant weekend (and staying warm).


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

we are the night ocean

 So many birds stop by before it snows. I fill the feeders and scatter seed on top of the old snow, watch them swoop in, cluster, chatter. It's bitter cold again and I'm reading a wonderful book, Body & Soul by Frank Conroy. New York in the 1940's, a lonely, neglected young child prodigy taken under the wing of a neighborhood music store owner. A book filled with heart and soul.

I'm going to have tomato soup with grated cheddar cheese in it for dinner, while the rest of the family eats Cuban pork sandwiches from leftover pork Bob made last night. (I have never acquired a taste for pork.) I have some good clementines too.

Whenever I post something personal (like family pictures) I have to overcome the urge to remove them, and then I usually put up another post the next day, a more impersonal one---birds, books, mugs of tea...

We are the night ocean filled
with glints of light. We are the space
between the fish and the moon,
while we sit here together.

Monday, January 20, 2014

as we were, dog & cat love



(you saw him here too)

Little Bear

I had pets my entire life until about two years ago. My two indoor/outdoor cats disappeared, probably captured by fishers or foxes according to our town animal control officer. 

Then my dog died of kidney failure--a side effect of lyme disease that I didn't know she had. For the first time, I doubted my ability to take care of my pets, and, to be honest, enjoyed the lack of responsibility. 

But it wasn't long before we adopted Aji and Masa (my first indoor cats) and I'm so glad we did.

Enjoy your week--


Friday, January 17, 2014

Monday, January 13, 2014

flowers and books in the winter house

White freesias from the supermarket mix with garden greens and reds,
for a nice winter bouquet.

(The scent of freesia is too strong for some, but I love it--it's
the top note of Antonia's Flowers, one of my favorite perfumes.)

How to survive the polar vortex.

And, I have some book recommendations for you.

 I'm always looking for literary detective/crime novels (no that's not an oxymoron). Norwegian by Night by Derek Miller is smart and suspenseful, with appealing characters and an interesting setting. An American widower (Korean war veteran, early stages of dementia) living with his granddaughter in Norway, protects his traumatized young neighbor (who witnessed his mother's murder). The two of them flee the killer, and their ensuing adventures are a poignant mix of humor and terror.

Submergence is breathtaking, and will stay with me for a long time. An English spy and an Australian oceanographer meet and fall in love at a British seaside hotel. The book goes back and forth between their points of views: he, captured by Somalian terrorists and she, on a ship off the coast of Greenland, preparing to dive to the ocean floor in a submersible. Love and science, deserts and oceans, wonder and terror. Read more about it here.

I'm late to the 66 Square Feet blog, but I'm catching up, and was moved to buy the book 66 Square Feet: A Delicious Life, One Woman, One Terrace, 92 Recipes. It's a lovely combination of beautifully written essays, recipes and photographs; each chapter encompassing one month. I've been savoring it--reading one month at a time.

Now jump on over to Jane's to see more Flowers in the House. You'll be glad you did.


Friday, January 10, 2014


No, I don't know what it means. Do you?

When I was in New York, the talk at brunch was this New York Times regional dialect quiz. Of the six people (including myself) I know who have taken it, the results nailed the region where that person was raised or spent a significant part of their life.

 I lived in D.C./Virginia/Maryland until I was 14, San Francisco Bay area from 14-27, then New York and New Jersey (more recently Massachusetts). The first time I took the quiz my 3 cities were San Francisco, Oakland and Fremont (California). I took it again (there is variation in 5 or 6 questions) and it was San Francisco, Oakland, Newark/Paterson (New Jersey). (Weird--I worked in Paterson for many years.)

I had to think about some of the questions, and decided to go with my first instinctive reaction. For instance there are lots of rotaries in Massachusetts, and people (and signs) here call them rotaries, and I might even use that word if driving with someone in Massachusetts and giving them directions, but my instinct is to call them circles which I guess is what they call them in California where I learned to drive and they don't have any, so that was my answer.

I'm curious to know the results of a wider range of people, so if you feel like taking it, you'll find it here. It's U.S. specific, but if you live in another country, you might want to try it anyway, just for fun. Of course my idea of fun might not be the same as yours...

Enjoy your weekend,

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

little birds

In this bitter cold, I am putting out much more bird seed.
I bought another feeder and scatter seeds on the deck.

It's such a pleasure to watch the birds, and when the food is scattered widely they share nicely with the squirrels. A rabbit makes a regular appearance and we had a possum come by for a couple of nights, but the biggest surprise was the day I saw a red fox in my suburban Boston yard.

view from my kitchen window

Sparrow, finch, wren, dove, woodpecker, blue jay, chickadee, cardinal...
There is so much I cannot do, but I can try to take care of this tiny corner of the world.

Here I am at 2-1/2, with a pan of food to put in the feeder.

Did I take the cat for a ride on the saucer?

(Thanks to Jane for the idea of digging up old photos.)

Hope you who are sharing the polar vortex with me are warm and cozy.


Thursday, January 2, 2014

sweet things

I am eating my way through Manhattan. My day started with the perfect flaky croissant. A few hours of meandering through Greenwich Village and SoHo led to lunch at Shanghai Cafe in Chinatown. A wander through Little Italy, the Lower East Side and the East Village called for a hot chocolate stop. Dinner was the best mac and cheese ever, at Murray's Cheese Bar, followed by cupcake tasting at Molly's. 

Good thing I did all that walking.

I am in town to dip my toe in the wedding planning for this sweet couple. (Yes, that's my son. No, that's not Manhattan.) Hence the cupcake tasting. This also involves visiting a few florists--such a treat--you know how I feel about flowers.

Snow is blowing, lights are twinkling, and I don't have to shovel.