28 October 2009

our little princess is a star...

... no matter what happens. After a fair amount of goading from my mother, I submitted a photo of Foof to the local paper's Pet of the Month contest in which twelve animals are chosen to appear in an ad during each month of 2010. Three hundred entries were received, Foof was number 99. Aha! Palindromic alphabetically as well as numerically! I was convinced this would increase her chances of being chosen for the next round. I lobbied quietly in her support, but frankly, it didn't really matter what happened. She got her picture in the paper, it was all a bit of fun. Then, Tuesday morning, my mother called with a typically oblique intro, "I have some information for you. Foof made it into the top 50". I confess, I was proud of my girl. The next round is the decisive one.

26 August 2009

wee beasties...

I'm going all crafty now that autumn is approaching. These were cross stitch designs I made in response, in the first example, to a fervent bout of mouse huntin' and trappin' that was going on at my parents' house, and, in the second example, as a sort of put-the-boot-in daily reminder. The mouse is accompanied by French text that translates to "Long live the little mice!". The rabbit is as yet unattended by its inspirational catchphrase, which will read, "Salta prima di inacidire", which translates from the Italian as "Leap before you sour".

07 August 2009

time spent wisely in a plane...

For some reason, these pictures have been on my mind lately. They were taken last year on our way home from Seattle. The landscape is fascinating, as are the clouds, so I took lots of photos of farmland and developing weather.

Summer holiday...

We traveled to Westport Island, Maine this year and paid another visit to The Squire Tarbox Inn, undoubtedly one of the most pleasant, home-away-from-home kind of places to be. An organic farm, run by the son of the owners, occupies a large part of the property and many of the vegetables are available daily in an adjacent farm stand as well as the Bath farmer's market on Saturdays. The busy Tarbox hens lay the eggs for our breakfast, hummingbirds dart from flower to flower, goldfinches, chickadees, and warblers race to the feeders, just out of reach of Molly, a family cat whose fondness for birdwatching rivals my own. A gregarious Bernese mountain dog rambles about, visiting guests in the dining room. It is the sort of place that induces pangs of homesickness whenever I contemplate having to leave it.

I bought these now tired looking black radishes from the farm. I'd never tried them before and in their raw state, their spiciness was incendiary! Beautiful to look at though, from a distance.

Part of the 1200 miles we drove were located in Ellsworth, where we had a ravingly good dinner at Cleonice. We had the marinated olives, organic beet, walnut, and gorgonzola salad, and the scungilli salad to start, with bluefish and steak frites to follow. The service was friendly and professional and the food just delicious! I was hoping to find the locally grown heirloom bumblebee beans, so named because of the maroon beelike shapes that mark their exterior, but found local calypso and big yellow eye beans instead at John Edwards Market.

I usually prepare them by soaking the beans overnight, then cooking them until meltingly tender, drain them and pummel them slightly into just a hint of a mash, add generous amounts of olive oil, lots of freshly crushed garlic, chopped parsley or any other herb lying about, large crystals of crunchy sea salt, and fresh Tellicherry pepper pounded in a mortar. Eaten while the beans are still warm, with the steam wafting gracefully upwards, and the sea salt, herbs, and pepper pungent and bracing, this is, for me, an ultimate comfort food.

A trip to the beach inspired me to start collecting seaweed. Foof was impressed and claimed it for her own. We also went to the Maine Coast Botanical Gardens in Boothbay. There was an exhibit of work by the sculptor Wendy Klemperer who creates these beautiful, feral metal sculptures of wild animals.

09 July 2009

old birds...

I have been throwing money away on pre 1850 ornithological and other engravings. I love them all, but would like to point out the 350 year old owls in particular.

9 July 2007

In April, I began reading Dickens. I had been asked, some years ago, to compile a life list, and among the things I wanted to accomplish before I die was to read all of Dickens' novels. I started with David Copperfield, followed by Great Expectations, followed by Tale of Two Cities, which is where I am now, albeit not happily. Everyone I have spoken with about this little project urged me to read this one next and I am barely trudging through it. I simply cannot find a way to enjoy it. I'll just cut to the chase: I found something so very much better to read and it has absolutely renewed my joy in reading again. (Disclaimer: I really do love Dickens.)
This is IT...Stillmeadow and Sugarbridge, a folksy yearlong correspondence written in 1953 by Gladys Taber and Barbara Webster.

It is not clever, prescient, or cutting-edge, thank goodness. It is kind, thoughtful, and authentic, thank goodness. There is plenty of talk about Great Danes and Cocker Spaniels, the sound values of a country life, the comfort of a good book, the ways of the garden and wild animals. It is full of sane and sensitive observations about a life without the incessant invented complications of our time. One of my favorite passages:
"The moles are at it again! The yard fairly billows as we walk across it. I wonder what they do in their dark secret burrows all winter? Presumably they hibernate, but they are certainly busy the minute the ground softens with the end of winter. And as fast as we roll the humps and reseed the holes the dogs have excavated, there are more jutting up. Followed by more and deeper holes, of course. We gave up croquet on their account. There was no level space left on the lawn."
Yes, indeed, what do they do all winter? How lovely the luxury to imagine it! How wonderful it is to spend time with someone alive to natures' exquisite subtleties and for whom imagination is alive! How many unbearably dull conversations I have lately had the misfortune to endure. Dull for so much foolish posturing, so much thoughtless competition to be clever. And to say nothing!! Such relentless, empty babbling! What a relief to reject such enervating nonsense and choose to spend time with a companionable voice that is human and substantial!
Gladys Taber, who I believe may have been the model for Elizabeth Lane in that wonderful film, Christmas in Connecticut, lived in Southbury, Connecticut and wrote prodigiously. Barbara Webster, of Chester County, PA, authored a handful of books including Creatures and Contentments, which I'm about to begin soon. I have not abandoned Dickens, and I will read another fifty pages tonight and for the next few nights until I finish (next one is Pickwick Papers), but I just crave these tales from Stillmeadow and am beginning to feel quite sad as I come to the end of this inspiring book.

31 May 2009

for Boris...

I'm rather proud of this planting. The black and green theme is one I've used in the past as a tribute to my much beloved cat, Boris. This time, I added violets and plums with petunias and phlox. Other pictures include a photo taken from Vashon Island, fragrant mock orange, and my feline muse.

30 March 2009


Marble magnets. Done to death, but still awfully satisfying.

Further evidence proves that I buy things simply because of their packaging.

15 March 2009


Discovered the work of Swedish glass artist Bertil Vallien courtesy of this site. I don't care for most of his work, lots of glass portraits, but these are brilliant!


Not quite Spring...

02 January 2009

Bonne Annee!

January, day two.
Taking the better part of December and requiring every bit of determination I had, the throw was finally completed two, or was it three?, days before Christmas. Knit three, slip three, ad nauseum. What unrelenting tedium, and it will be a long time before I try something like that again. I still have two sweater projects that need to be finished, (I have developed this counterproductive tendency toward not finishing things), but frankly, I would be perfectly happy to knit nothing at all for quite a while. Then, this morning, I thought, "I should knit myself a hat".

My inherited orchid began blooming on Christmas Eve. It's an Oncidium, Sharry Baby, and it is perfuming the living room with a delicious vanilla fragrance. My other orchids, purchased inexpensively as a result of some volunteering at a college plant sale, are still green, and in some cases, actively growing, but no promise of flowers yet.

Alternatively, the cats are well and supremely happy and acting like kittens again, thanks to the success of their new diet, lavish amounts of playtime, and lots of love.

Here's to 2009. May we all find what we are looking for this year.