Wednesday, March 26, 2014

armchair travel

The wind is howling and there's a blizzard on Cape Cod--I kind of wish I was in Provincetown in heavy snow and winds, the wild ocean surrounding that little spit of land, windblown tales of shipwrecks and endurance...

Speaking of endurance, I recently read two powerful works of non-fiction: Wave, by Sonali Deraniyagala, who lost her entire family (husband, children, parents) in the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, is harrowing and beautifully written. Unbroken, A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption, by Laura Hillenbrand is also harrowing, suspenseful, and a real page-turner.

When I was sick I mentioned that I was reading the Bruno, Chief of Police detective series. I also read The Martian, by Andy Weir and thoroughly enjoyed it. Simply written, oddly compelling. Some brilliant short stories from Archangel, (natural science and history) by Andrea Barrett and The Things They Carried (Vietnam War) by Tim O'Brien balanced things out a bit. 

I've discovered something about short stories--it's good to mix them up. They can be intense, and sometimes stories by one author can have a similarity of tone. Following the voice of one author with a different one keeps it fresh. I know a lot of people don't think they like short stories (we discussed that here) but they can fill a niche of time or mood.

When I felt better I had a craving for a big India book. I have a lot of novels that take place in India and I feel compelled to keep them together. You can see many of them in the picture above (and a glimpse of the foot of my bed--always have book choices handy). I remembered that I'd only read the first book in Paul Scott's Raj Quartet, and had mixed feelings about it, but I read the second book and loved it, so now I'm reading the third.

In the last month my reading has taken me to Sri Lanka, Japan, France, Mars, Vietnam, and India. Is there a book you love that has a strong sense of place?

Friday, March 21, 2014

zen kitty

(I won't complain, I won't complain, I won't complain...)

So what if it's cold and windy and my yard is still snow-covered?

(and all the other blog kitties are showing off their homegrown daffodils)

                                                                  I will read zen poetry, 


and savor flowers from distant lands.

Or maybe I'll just watch Maru the Cat videos.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

I meant to live a quiet life

Snow, slush, ice. Warmish days start the melting, then it freezes. Bits of brown grass are visible around the edges. The birds are singing more, as the wall of winter opens to distractions and daydreams.

In five days it will officially be spring. A poem by Mary Oliver:


This morning
two birds
fell down the side of the maple tree

like a tuft of fire
a wheel of fire
a love knot

out of control as they plunged through the air
pressed against each other
and I thought

how I meant to live a quiet life
how I meant to live a life of mildness and meditation
tapping the careful words against each other

and I thought--
as though I were suddenly spinning, like a bar of silver
as though I had shaken my arms and lo! they were

of the Buddha
when he rose from his green garden
when he rose in his powerful ivory body

when he turned to the long dusty road without end
when he covered his hair with ribbons and the petals
         of flowers
when he opened his hands to the world.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Princess Bride or Bitches Brew?

I've been lying low, nursing a nasty cold , trying new things. Who knew I could spend hours on the internets looking at nail polish? As an established lover of the color green why have I never worn it on my nails?

It's been days of tomato soup and tangelos, The Princess Bridemy good luck scarf, and the comfort food equivalent of mysteries, the Bruno, Chief of Police series, wherein Chief Bruno Courreges takes good care of his small town in the Dordogne region of France. He teaches rugby to the local children, cooks memorable meals for the women in his life, and still finds time to catch criminals.

Winter is not officially over, so I won't complain about the falling snow. However, the camera on my Blackberry is no longer working. I didn't use it much, because, well, it's a Blackberry, but I think I'm finally going to join the rest of the world and buy that other phone, mostly so I can play Instagram with my internet friends. There is now a book about design bloggers. How long will it be until we see it pictured on a design blog? (Wait! It already is.) And so on...

I'm more interested in nail polish colors. Trying to justify this mini-obsession, I tell myself I view them with a painter's eye. Like looking at paint chips, I am tempted to buy by name. California Coral. Bitches Brew. Aruba Blue. But most of the names are awful. Coat Azure. Bouncer, Its Me. Saturday Disco Fever. Perhaps it's my calling to create seductive, literary names for nail polish. I'll get back to you on that. Here's the real Bitches Brew. And a peek at The Princess Bride:


Saturday, March 8, 2014

pinecones and sweet peas

Winter, Andes New York

Last night a raccoon joined the rabbits at the flower pot--it's a peaceable kingdom around here. Despite the fact that a pinecone was the symbol on business cards, etc. for Country Weekend the store (and is now a convenient avatar) I didn't realize that they are a regular source of food for birds and squirrels until I read Bernd Heinrich's Winter World.

"...while spruce cones stay long on the trees, the seeds fall out of them as the cones dry and the bracts curl out." He describes chickadees hopping about fresh snow eating spruce seeds, nuthatches picking them out of the cones on the trees, and squirrel chewed cones under the trees. He does this in great detail, counting how many seeds per cone (80) and when and how a squirrel decides to attack or discard one. (Far too long for a blog post, it involves how full of seeds a cone must be to make prying apart the bracts worthwhile.) He then investigates the seeds of balsam firs. I do love a passionate naturalist.

Winter, Naples Florida

A year ago, I was in Florida. Now I'm in snow-covered Massachusetts, but yesterday it was 40 degrees, almost balmy--I drove with the window open. The little girls who live across the street are riding their scooters in the driveway. With the time change this weekend we get an extra hour of light, and that will make all the difference.

If you are more interested in fashion than pinecones you will enjoy this short Bill Cunningham video where he describes a trend of dusky pastels in winter wear--he calls them sweet pea colors. More about Bill Cunningham here.

Enjoy your weekend!


Friday, March 7, 2014

small things

I've been savoring my beautiful arrangement of roses, ranunculus and sweet peas, but it's this little one on my bedside table that my sons noticed.

This winter's been so cold, icy and snowy that I've been scattering bird seed in more places than usual, including a big terra cotta pot I forgot to bring in. The pot is tall enough that the top peeks out from the snow still on the ground.

Every night two rabbits sit in it and pick through the seeds to see what the birds (and squirrels) have left. We put out celery too, but they seem very happy with sunflower seeds. It's a nightly ritual, people and cats looking out the window watching the rabbits in the flower pot.

If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?

Sunday, March 2, 2014

sweet peas, roses, ranunculus, freesia, jasmine...

We have two feet of snow on the ground, and no signs of spring,
so I went to Bow Street Flowers,
 to see Shelley, and the bunnies, and for flowers.

 I've written about Bow Street before--
you can see pictures of the store here and here.
It's like walking into a storybook.

I put the flowers in a low vase 
so I can enjoy them when I am reading.

I look up from my book and see this.

 Sometimes I close the book
and just gaze at the flowers.