Wednesday, May 28, 2014

cat culprit and country house colors

This is the cat that led me to fall knee deep into a ditch of mud.
Before that, I took a drive to the Lucky Dog Farm Store
Grilled swiss on homemade bread and a cup of Senegalese peanut soup for $5, folks.

(warning: many pictures ahead)

On the 8-mile drive along Route 2 
I passed 14 barns
and took a picture of every one.

You can locate Andes (where our house is) and Route 2 on the map here  and zoom out to place it in relation to somewhere you're familiar with. (I realize I talk about the Catskills so casually, as though everyone knows where it is.) Speaking of the house, I've never shown you a picture of it.

Because it's a boxy modern house that didn't fit me or this blog or the Catskills which is filled with farmhouses and cabins and cottages. It's less boxy since we bumped out the kitchen--but it still screams 1970's California. (I know, I was there.)

Anyway, it's time to paint (stain, actually). In this picture, with all the green and the snow the color doesn't look too bad, but it's a lifeless opaque stain and looks dated.  I tested some deep greens on the trim this weekend, but they didn't work.

I thought about deep browns, and some cool black/charcoal houses I've seen pictures of. See here.  I especially love #3, the barn in Connecticut, and # 10, the Scandinavian cottage. But our house is in a hollow, with woods on three sides and going that dark would look like the home of a scary witch in a fairy tale.

 I thought about those barns. Maybe an old barn gray with red trim? And then, why not barn red? It would be a nice homage to the history of the area.

This barn is up the road from our house, one of the few old family dairy farms still in business.

I love the red and black cabinets we put in the kitchen. 

Staining the trim around the windows deep charcoal could add a fresh and modern touch. 

Over the years we've added a lot of decking and a footbridge across the brook.
How would that look in deep charcoal/almost black?
Brilliant idea? Big mistake?
What do you think? 

Monday, May 26, 2014

a country weekend

There was the farmers market of course, and an auction, many barns, paint samples tested on the house with final decision based on those barns, great books finds at Bibliobarn (the treasure being Hiroshoge's Fifty-Three Stages of the Tokaido), an epic fall into a ditch while taking a picture of a roadside sculpture of a cat, lots of wandering… I have much to share with you, but right now I'm tired and just want to say hello. Oh, and there were wildflowers!

Hope you had a good weekend.

xo, Jen

Friday, May 23, 2014

messages over land and sea

I'm in the Catskills now--it's fully spring, heavy with greens and peeps and early wildflowers. The waters are rushing with snowmelt and I feel a wonderful vibrancy everywhere--the air filled with excitement and expectation, dreams of canoes and campfires, picnics and swimming holes.

These days when I go to the studio I usually paint, but I also make mixed media pieces now and then--I love pulling together disparate objects and creating something from them. Something strange is going on in my life--it's like I'm back where I was before I had children. In those days I wrote poetry  and painted. But slowly I gave that up--I didn't haven't what I think you need to be an artist and that is intent. I can't think of a better word for it.

So, I had kids, went to law school, worked for years in the trenches in the intersecting worlds of child abuse, homelessness, addiction, poverty and mental illness. I've quit that world, except for some pro bono work; my kids are more or less grown, and now I have what I didn't have when I was young, and that is creative intent. So I'm writing and painting again; it feels good, it feels right, and like something I can do for the rest of my life.

Recently Orion Magazine, which I love, hosted a poetry exchange, and my friend Kate and I participated. We did three exchanges and enjoyed it so much, we're continuing on our own. You can see two of each of our poems here on the Orion Tumblr Page. (Scroll down to Kate Reddy and Jennifer Jefferson.)

I'm telling you this because…this blog, and you who read and comment regularly, have become an important part of my life. We edit our lives as presented on our blogs, and I suppose I want to try doing a little less editing. Also, I'm trying to become more confident, less shy. In real life, I never tell people that I write or paint (or blog). In real life, I have all kinds of problems. I'm trying to integrate the disparate pieces of me, and oddly enough, this seems like a good place to do it. (I say oddly because it's so public. But it feels so private.)

Anyway, I hope this doesn't freak you out. I promise there will still be an endless stream of cat and flower pictures. Just maybe a little bit other now and then.

Not I, nor anyone else can travel that road for you.
You must travel it by yourself.
It is not far. It is within reach.
Perhaps you have been on it since you were born, and did not know. 
Perhaps it is everywhere - on water and land.

-Walt Whitman, from Leaves of Grass

xo, Jen

Monday, May 19, 2014

flowers in the house

It's such a pleasure to be able to step outside
and pick a few flowers. A few all I need.

I own (far too) many vases and pitchers and jars,
all lovely flower holders
but I keep going back to the same ones.

This pitcher, from my father's family's 
West Virginia farmhouse. 
I remember big farm breakfasts there--
maybe it was used to hold milk?

And this cranberry glass vase
was a gift from my father.

I know I've written about both those things before.

I have family on my mind.

The wedding is less than two weeks away.
I wish my father was here for it, and to get to know Alexandra,
he would have loved her.

Visit Small But Charming for more flowers in the house.

xo, Jen

Saturday, May 17, 2014


Hello friends. My computer is in the shop and I am writing this on my new mobile device. (Bye nice Blackberry keyboard, hi Instagram.) I haven't figured out how to access my cw email or your blogs on this thing, or reply to comments, but I will catch up with you soon.

There are lilacs blooming and lilies of the valley and viburnum. Rabbits are frolicking and I am reading Wind in the Willows. I hope you have flowers and books nearby too. xo Jen
p.s. Sunday a.m., borrowing computer to reply here. Can't post from this one because my pictures are on my phone and computer. And I'm sure there's a way, but thinking about it make me tired...Can we go back to film and index cards and mail that requires a stamp? (just kidding. sort of.)

Monday, May 12, 2014

cafe solo

I snuck away to Provincetown this weekend. 
The perfect place for a little retreat.

more posts on Provincetown:

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

a country weekend

Ramps (wild leeks) grow rampantly on our property in the Catskills. They've become quite trendy, with several articles already written about them in this spring's NY Times. Last weekend we pulled (oops, I mean harvested) some and cooked a ramps themed dinner. Rather, Bob did, with some help from Luke.   Luke made some fresh farmers cheese, served on slices of bread with ramp jam and pickled ramps. He also grilled ramps to be served with Bob's cream of ramp soup, kale with ramps, ramp risotto, and chicken cooked with, you guessed it, ramps. I drew the line at ramp desserts (having once had a garlic dinner that carried through dessert) so we had fruit cobbler with sour cream ice cream. Then after we'd all (several friends joined us) digested a little and laughed a lot, we passed around the chocolate ice cream Matt made.

What did I do? Stayed out of the kitchen. Visited friends. Read. Took a nap. Set the table. Washed lots and lots of dishes and pots and pans and strainers and blenders and…..

 I hung up one of my paintings, a big step for me, because I am pretty shy about my creative endeavors. But it's a good spot for all those greens, there in the house in the woods.

Keeping company with lilacs, roses and hyacinths, from my Bow Street Flowers trip.
Some people take their pets when they travel. I take my flowers.