Friday, December 18, 2015

Merry & Bright

Season's Greetings from the Freshtown bear.
Freshtown is our Catskills grocery store, 
and it is well populated with carved bears.

Every year I do less and less holiday decorating
and enjoy it more and more.
Just imagine a single wreath on this old barn.

Deer festivities,

mantlepiece whimsy,

and a tree. Greens scattered here and there.
Outside, a tree with colored lights.
Inside, the first time I've used white lights in many years.

We are doing our family Christmas with the boys this weekend.
Christmas Eve I will find a candlelight church service,
and on Christmas proper I will be at the cat shelter in the morning,
then a movie and Chinese food.

I am almost free of tradition, and it is liberating.

Monday, November 30, 2015


When in the country the waterfall is the center of attention. It is majestic and loud and beautiful. It slows people down, they pause and contemplate. The stream it feeds into becomes an afterthought. So I've been trying to pay more attention to what goes on downstream. The smaller falls, swirls and eddies formed by rocks. The rocks themselves. Mossy, ferny twiggy things.

 Icy bits are starting to form.

Thanksgiving was an eclectic bunch of friends, everyone brought something. I  made my favorite applesauce cake. I boil apple slices in apple cider so it is very apple-y. Holiday lights went up in the little towns, a wonderful thing when it gets dark at 4:00. There were lots of leftovers, and Reader, I read Jane Eyre for the first time.

xo, Jennifer

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Catskills, something new

Most of you who read this blog were with me when I had my little store in the Catskills.
Now, my family is starting a new venture. We've bought a commercial property
in the rural hamlet of Andes, New York, in the Western Catskills .

Over the years it's been a creamery, a lumber mill, and a feed and grain store.
It's right next to the old train depot, where in the early 20th century, cans of Andes milk
 from the creamery were loaded onto the train for delivery to distant places.

There's plenty of sunny land to start a flower farm or grow blueberries
or, maybe one day, have donkeys or goats.
Thanks to Delaware County's Right to Farm Law
you can have a farm in the middle of town.
(Read more about that here.)
Though at 3.5 acres we won't be doing any serious farming.
But still, flowers...(for the goats to eat?)

One day I hope to have a painting studio inside that door,
with a view of the rolling hills and changing seasons.

There are also two huge pole barns,
for tractors or square dances or art installations.
There are a lot of unknowns,
but there's plenty of space for dreamers to implement their dreams.

I'm a little nervous about it. It's a real, long-term commitment. Not something I expected or asked for, but it's a wonderful property, and I'm feeling some love for it. It's about five miles from the house where we've been weekenders since 2002. The Rail Trail is on one side, the Tremperskill Creek on the other, and it's two blocks from Main Street. The best part about having my store was the friends I made, of feeling like I was part of the community. This rural region of upstate New York makes my world a better place, and I hope we can return the favor.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

around here

I'm savoring autumn, taking in details,
storing them away, 
for bleaker days.

I collected leaves, and remembered doing so as a child
and with my own children--
the colors, that spark of wonder.

I've been volunteering at a cat shelter.
In case you want a pet, 
but not the long-term commitment that comes with owning one,
shelters are always desperate for foster families.

My palette has changed with the season.

I take a walk every day,
try to stay in the moment more
and worry less.

I hope you are enjoying autumn, or spring, depending where you are.



Wednesday, October 14, 2015

a country weekend, autumn

 I rarely get to the country at the peak of fall colors,
always a little early or a little late. 
But this year it couldn't have been more beautiful. 

 Mesmerizing, inviting reverie and giddy moments,
fleeting glimpses of the profound.
Nature. Earth.

The backroads of upstate New York ablaze.

For the first time, I saw the changing color of the ferns, 
how lovely they are.
Our property is shady and damp, filled with ferns, 
so why haven't I ever taken this in before?
I could study this landscape for the rest of my life 
and never see it all.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

flowers, painting, cats, books

Hello, friends. I post infrequently here these days, but this is still a special place to me.
I'm very active on Instagram--I usually post one or two pictures a day,
 it's become my online community. 

Like blogging, it can be what you want to be.
There are maybe 30 or 40 people who post regularly on subjects I enjoy
(flowers, painting, cats, books) 
and that I look forward to, and who I feel a connection with. 

There are others I follow for other reasons. 
(Great travel pictures, funny cat pictures, artists, street photography.) 
It's visual, words are brief, but do exist, and it doesn't devour time. 
You can't go into depth like you can in a blog, 
but it's been a while since I've gone into depth here, 
said anything new.

 I also don't like posting the same things here that I do on instagram. 
Each place should be different.
I am planning to post more regularly on my art blog, 
because I feel like I have new things to explore on that subject.
Here, it seems like I've just been doing the same thing over and over.
(I went to the Catskills/Brooklyn/Provincetown, I'm reading this book, Aji is smelling flowers)

That works better on Instagram.
For instance I love seeing Jane's Gus and Lucy every night.
I miss them when they aren't there.

 I'm not stopping-- I will post here now and then.

(edit: After I published this I went to a pick your own flower farm
where I saw many varieties of sunflowers and immediately got an idea for a blog post!)

 I think/hope there will come a time when I'll find something new to say.
But it will require thought and effort on my part.
There's something I'm considering, but I'm not sure....

I have a bit of news to share.
I now have a website for my art (here)
and I've joined two galleries--
The Loading Dock Gallery in Lowell, MA and
The Longyear Gallery in Margaretville, NY 
(in the same building where I had my store!)

Huge thanks to all of you who supported and encouraged
my return to painting. It means the world to me.

I am so very grateful for the friends I've made here.
You've seen me through some rough spots
(which, of course I didn't blog about).

xo, Jennifer

Friday, August 21, 2015

a country weekend

Country weekends are much the same-- the frog pond, wildflowers, farmers markets, wading, moss, ferns...But it always feels fresh. There is less noise there. Cell phones don't work, internet is slow and shaky, there is more space to breathe and think and not think. When I was young I did a lot of camping, backpacking, hiking, sleeping outside. I've never once slept outside of our house in the Catskills, but lately I've been feeling the urge for a campfire and a night of stars. I'm too domesticated, I want to let things go.

Friday, August 14, 2015


Central Park, New York

Mark Rothko, MOMA

In front of the Brooklyn Museum

Wild Raspberry, Catskills, Upstate New York

Aji and garden flowers.

Hello Friends,
I've been quiet, feeling like I either have nothing new to say here, or too much. I can't find the medium. It will come, or maybe not. But I love this place, and my connection to you, and can't stay away for too long. A few pictures from my summer.
I hope all is well with you.
xo, Jennifer

Sunday, July 26, 2015

flowers everywhere

Imagine my delight when I came upon a farm that has a pick your own flower plot.

 They handed me scissors and I came home with a glorious bundle of
sweet peas, stocks and snapdragons.

 My painting studio is in an old textile mill, next to freight train tracks, where a train passes through daily. I've found a delightful variety of wildflowers thriving along the tracks.

I've noticed that if I pay attention, there are flowers everywhere. Popping up through a crack in the pavement, in a pot on a city windowsill, behind a gas station...

and in my garden.

 Peonies opened my eyes to how varied flower buds are. I'm trying to look, not just at the bloom, but at stem, leaves and buds. Every evening when I visit my flowers I have to remind myself to slow down, pay attention.

 The bud of the black-eyed Susan is particularly enchanting.

                                  The dog days of summer are upon us, and I hope to pay attention
                                  to where the flowers are, especially the unexpected places.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Summer reading, watching, painting

I just got an email from Netflix headed "Watch More, Read Less." Are they watching me? Do they have access to my library card, my online shopping, my bookstore security cameras? Do they know that I've only watched a few hours of tv in the last month? Or is everyone reading more and watching less?

Don't get me wrong, I think Netflix, along with libraries, and long walks, are the best bargains around. In fact, the last thing I watched was a haunting French series, The Returned, on Netflix. But recently I've been reading even more than usual. I come home tired, feed the cats, spend a bit of time in the garden, and read. I start on my little porch, where I have a good view of the rabbits and robins, and stay there until dark. Summer nights.

I'm painting as much as I can these days. It's surprisingly (to me) physical. And not cerebral, which I love. In my off-time I go to museums, read art history, sketch, think; but when I'm actually painting I zen out/zone out. And go home tired.

I've joined a cooperative art gallery, and am building a web site for my paintings. (Very much in progress, here. ) It's terrifying to go public, but it feels right too. More on that another time. I hope to blog more consistently about painting and art in general over on Orchards in Space. (These are clues about the mini-rant on my last post.)

 Meanwhile here are a few things I've recently read and watched that stayed with me. Of course just because I like it doesn't mean you will. I got this idea from Petra, and also see her glorious post here. I'd love to know if you've been reading or watching anything that you are crazy about.


*Sacred Games, Vikram Chandra,  big book of India. Crime, Bombay, people.

The Seashell Collector, Anthony Doerr. short stories (reread). Elegant, nature, thoughtful.

A God in Ruins, Kate Atkinson. WWII, post-war Britain, family.

***Elizabeth and her German Garden, Elizabeth von Armin. A garden of one's own.

*Reporting Vietnam various journalists. War, history, politics. 

The Really Big One, The New Yorker. Science, earthquakes, holy cow!


The Honorable Woman, BBC mini-series. Espionage, Israel-Palestine, Maggie Gyllenhall.

Wolf Hall, BBC mini-series. History, Royalty, Cromwell.

**The Returned. French mini-series. haunting, love, humanity.

The Americans, FX. Espionage, family, suspense.

**A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night. Strange endearing little film.

*recommended by one of my Instagram pals (in case you think it's just cats over there).

** recommended by my son Luke, who always finds me eclectic interesting things to watch.

*** recommended by Mise, of Pretty Far West.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

a quick question

I used to be a simple country girl, who read a lot. Now I have more email addresses than I can remember, two blogs, an instagram account, and I'm building a webpage. I upgraded something on my laptop and can't find my pictures, but they magically appear on my mobile device, which used to be a phone.

Is anyone else confused?

Thursday, June 25, 2015

a country weekend

After the four hour drive, up Weaver Hollow Road, then a steep plunge down to our house.

frog pond at dusk
 I walk the property, making sure all is well.

buttercups, rocks, lichen and brook

the blue hills of the western Catskills

 Water and wildflowers, wildflowers and water.

the waterfall
 Wandering, gazing, pondering.

frog pond by day

orange hawkweed a/k/a devil's paintbrush

Ferns, lichen, moss. Stones, bluets, blackberries. Every day in the same places I would seen new things, things anew. There were friends and family, lovingly prepared meals, country roads, farmers markets, my favorite used books store, a gallery opening for a dear friend. I exhale, take a deep breath, breathe.