"She refused to be bored, chiefly because she wasn't boring." Zelda Fitzgerald

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Tiny Bouquet

I have been thinking Lenten thoughts, going over ways to add penance, giving and prayer to my life in more ways and one of the ways I've been working on is a silent walking time first thing in the morning. Time to pray, listen, be still, hear and just generally not be online or on my phone or carrying on two or three conversations at once with the boys. I've been enjoying it a lot and am starting to wind my walk down with a little poking around type browse around my own yard to see where spring is showing up and what little touches of new life I see. This week, I saw that my Lenten Rose is blooming! It was just an unlabeled, cheap grocery store potted variety that I put in the ground after it finished blooming for me indoors last year.

I so hoped it would take, a Lenten Rose has been on my gardeny wishlist for a long time and lucky, lucky me...I got one for a pittance at my local grocery! I think I bought a mixed pot of several different cream, pink and burgundy shades and it looks like only the dark wine color has managed to set itself firmly into the soil. Still amazing to me that even when we are getting temperatures in the 30's and sometimes even 20's this brave little flower does its thing, undeterred. I have noticed that there are still several upcoming buds so I took to liberty of bringing one indoors to enjoy in a bottle. What a treat to have a small bouquet from my own garden in February!

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Friday, February 24, 2012

Willy Wonka, Poetry and a Garlic Cure

Today was a clammy sort of late winter day. Rain and spits of snow under a curtain of grey. The roof leaked into the playroom and made a pool of rust under the metal tray full of matchbox cars. We read far more chapters of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory than I intended.
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For lunch we turned on the broiler and toasted pita breads, spread butter on their hot, golden tops and cut them into garlic powder dusted wedges. They were so cozy and delicious going down that I had to repeat four or five times before all the littles were satisfied. I spent my nap-time quiet hour reading poetry instead of writing my own, looking for little nuggets of beauty or humor that other writers found in February.
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I sometimes need to just stick my head up there in the clouds and feast on cotton candy in order to have the fodder to continue. Ruth Stone, Jane Kenyon, Rumi, Mary Oliver and the like are good February nap companions. I am just nudging off the barest tickle of a cough which sometimes catches in my chest halfway between a choke and a laugh, so I keep rationing off another raw clove of firey garlic for a secret cure, drinking tall sparkling glasses of water and believing I am to strong to be brought down. Yesterday I had a long nap, and today I had a long poetizing. Little cures.
Three banana bread loaves in tins.
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Am off to kitchen to make a warm loaf of oat zucchini bread and put on make-up for a night out with A. We're off for a snug, weekend beginner alone together. The babysitter gets to wipe the noses and dole out the mac and cheese and I plan to order a de-caf espresso and drink it in long slow sips after dinner.
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Thursday, February 23, 2012

And Then One Day He Drew His Daddy

I love the stage where my child's art starts getting representational. I love it for the same reason I love hearing their first clear words, not because art or language starts there but because me understanding them starts there. My kids have all happily colored and scribbled away from the time that they can first hold a pen. We do very little coloring book play at our house, and the boys almost exclusively attack blank pages with whatever is at hand.

The first experimentation with color and line is lovely but the step into portraying life more visibly feels significant to me. The first thing Ru drew that was clearly decipherable was a balloon. A happy first choice. Dee, has hit the stage with a human subject no less, a portrait of his daddy.

 Love that great big smile, the long, thin legs and the open, spidery arms that are reaching hug-style clear off the page. Oh, to be a symbolism soaked art therapist and be able to dig significant meaning out of these little things, tiny windows into the inner boy.
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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Little Moment in the Manic Rush

We just had a crazy, wild, we're-certifiably-insane kind of high speed visit to Michigan over the weekend. Baby arriving in the middle of the year will mean that we would have had a rather long time between visits with our parents this year. Not quite winter to winter but close. SO, we decided to do the ridiculous and improbable and drive madly back over the course of a weekend, across 14 hours of roads with the boosting of a four day weekend and have a quick hello.
Grandpa, helping zip up Dee's coat before we leave.
A little glance at Mom.
And a little smack for Grandpa. A well-loved man.
Sometimes you have to do crazy things. And sometimes you don't have to but it sure can be fun! I had to share my favorite photographic moment of the weekend, to share a little of the spontaneous fun. Family is a good deal.
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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

66 Square Feet

Its always good to share your new finds with others. Today I'm sharing the link to another blogger's site. I've only just discovered Marie's wonderful, 66 Square Feet but that just means I have a lot more to read and devour. She is an avid nature watcher, cook and gardener. She lives in New York City where she gardens on a tiny apartment terrace and she lives in South Africa where she eats plump, local figs in her mothers garden and documents the amazing flora of the region.

She's witty, she's literary, she's amazing with a camera, full of inspiring tidbits and an astounding well of garden knowledge. I wish I could meet her in person and share a dinner together in a stolen night of Cape Town summer but in lieu of that maybe I can shoo a few of you over her way and to enjoy her beautiful webby world with me. Bloggers like this need more people.
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Friday, February 17, 2012

Poetry Friday: A Winter Poem

Happy Poetry Friday to one and all....hope you have a great weekend...maybe even a long one for those whose employers observe? Am still feeling a bit of the February doldrums today. The only thing that really seems to keep it seriously at bay is home renovation and cleaning projects. (Yes, I am a walking hormone riddled cliche.)

candle
candle (Photo credit: JustyCinMD)

Every single weekend can't be a marathon of painting and dusting, sometimes other activities call. Am writing a winter poem today to boost the enthusiasm for the season that can not be entirely blotted out by home improvement projects and re-organization plans.

Winter’s Tail

The living room air smells faintly burnt
The ashy, cozy scent of December and January
Months of smoke whorling off the spacious mantle.
The frozen metropolis holds my mate and so
I sit here, boys in my lap, pacing storybooks
Watching winter pass, night after fiery night
We light the hearth to launch my husband home
Post-dinner sparks to return our human cannon-ball

There are mad, snowy caterpillars crawling all our sills
Green tips on the potted lemon taunting in the sunroom
I clatter all the dishes loudly, shuttling them into a rinse
Then kiss children dream-ward and I drain the tub
My sponge swims tired whorls up the sides, the air
Still enough to hear the drain gargle away to a hiss.
I pour myself a sultry cup of solo chai, drunk feet-up
The spoon's final pass is the sharp ring of a holy bell.

The house does the jig of the season, panes rattling percussively
A hilarious interruption of the silence, lest it all feel too still
I dim the couch-side light elegantly, a candle burning on the table
I swathe my hips in the couch throw and imagine the train hurtling on
I check the back porch switch and watch light fern on the walk
And sit listless with my book reading that same line over and over
Until the back lock chatters and suddenly he stamps in grinning,
His hair all twisting whorls dusted with the glint of sugar snow.


If you want to read other poetry contributions, original or that real, published, high quality stuff....jog on over to Gathering of Books for the round up of great links. Its a good way to tell your brain TGIF.
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Thursday, February 16, 2012

24 Reasons Why February Is Sublime

A list is a kind of a cure. I keep a small pad on my bedside table for self-curing end of day (or early morning) stress bouts. I keep oodles of lists on our computer, I scribble them on our new kitchen chalkboard and I have a gazillion all over my iPhone to boot.  Lists galore! That's the way to sooth what ails you.

 I do eat trash to calm myself but I am trying to break the habit and one of the recent ways I've been reading about is replacing the habit with a different soothing mechanism...a good way to figure out what works for you is to observe yourself and see what else you do to set things right again. And the first answer that came to me in the midst of my ill-tempered fit this morning was LISTS!

It's February and my id is sulking and sobbing by turns. Time to solve it. Here's a list of what I love about February today, greyest of months, center of winter's numb heart.

25 Reasons Why February Is Sublime

  1. Its the month when we celebrate love with its very own holiday.
  2. It has a Leap Day!
  3. The snowdrops bloom in February.
  4. It's great baking weather.
  5. Chilly days mean snug fires in the fireplace with a big stack of library books teetering next to us.
  6. President's Day is a special surprise I always forget about that brings us a little long weekend together.
  7. Maple syrup season starts!
  8. There are always stray clementines lingering in my coat pockets.
  9. We use the snuggly throws on the couches.
  10. Sunny days feel potent and rich, even if they are infrequent.
  11. Greenhouses. 
  12. In February I sew and knit and paint and all other manner of industrious indoor things.
  13. Dee was born in February.
  14. February is short.
  15. It's a great time to read design blogs.
  16. Sleeping comes naturally in February...a healthy habit after all.
  17. February is a great time to test out new teas and coffee spices.
  18. Watching costume dramas (which my boys consider a fun treat!) is a wonderful chilly February occupation.
  19. The people in my life who love me feel warmer and brighter and more potent to me in February.
  20. Scarves and boots come out to play!
  21. I get to try out chapstick and lotion flavors with impunity. 
  22.  The weeds in the garden stay in check perfectly.
  23. I think of having company.
  24. The Academy Awards happen!
  25. Coffee houses.
See? Not so bad now! February...my new pal. Just don't wear out your welcome, eh F? I have hyacinths out there budding and we're not gonna wait forever for 'em.

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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

All Abuzz

Am abuzz with a million little projects around the house. Since painting the hallway I have painted the entryway, painted a little cupboard that stands there to be a foyer catch-all/storage piece, hung a new piece of art, re-arranged the mantle display over the fireplace, sourced a free dresser for my boys room and moved clothes into it, pruned the lilac and finally I hung up my necklace collection that has been living sprawled all over the top of my dresser. Hooray! Whew!






Am feeling sometimes busy and sometimes accomplished and then sometimes way behind the ball when I look at all the astounding numbers of projects waiting for attention. Writing out the list of things that are all finished so that I can look at them in one long queue is boosting. Does anyone else add things to their To Do List that you already did so that you can feel you've got something done? It's a silly mind game but knowing the games is sometimes what makes the difference.


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Thursday, February 9, 2012

Maine Shrimp Are Divine

It's Maine shrimp season!!!! Sound the bells!

I am very lucky sometimes to live in New England. Every single time I eat or buy astounding, fresh seafood is one of those times. I am a seafood fanatic from the cradle, raised to believe that those who eat lobster and shrimp, and milky, tender scallops are having a better time.


This is my third season eating Maine shrimp. I first found out about them on Chowhound, source of so many good edible pearls of wisdom. Someone was raving about them and mentioned off-hand that many of the Whole Foods Markets up and down the coast carry them in season. I have been on the prowl ever since. The season is erratic as are most things dependent on weather and the whims of God but they usually show up at the seafood counter somewhere in the time from December to April or so.


Maine shrimp aren't actually shrimp at all, they're tiny little prawns that are beautiful and extremely delicious. The flesh is tender to the extreme, bright coral pink when raw, unlike the thick gray bodied shrimp from The Gulf. The are often sold head on, with their long whiskers needling through the pile. The skins are very delicate and thin, super easy to peel, and they cook extremely fast. They really require little more than a gentle toss in a hot pan of butter and garlic. I try to go light on the seasonings with Maine shrimp because they are a unique flavor all on their own. The meat is sweet and just a touch briny, almost like very tender, sugared lobster. These little creatures are also wild, not farmed and sustainably harvested by local fishermen during a specific window of time which means they are a much better eco-option than the big meaty shrimp coming in from Vietnam. They are also handily only about 2-6 dollars a pound.

These babies get eaten in quantity in season, ala sweet corn in August. These fleeting food treasures get no better than the now. We have heaping plates of them with just a drizzle of butter or a sprinkle of garlic to set them off. Mostly, its just shells and shells and shells and hands on munching with a few restrained bundles socked away in the back of the freezer. I bet they'd make amazing ceviche, and I also need to try cooking the shells down for stock (bisque anyone?) w/ some roasted onions and carrots. Mmmmm......plotting my next trip to the seafood counter.
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Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Four Years and a Nutella Cake

Dee is four! He had a wonderful birthday, a celebration which waffled (in the planning) from a family-only affair to a the reality which involved three families and their children...the star guests were all girls. He told me he likes girls better because "they are nicer than boys." He is fervently hoping that Baby is a little sister, his current favorite dream.
Love this picture of the birthday boy, very seriously puzzling out the physics of a water spraying ball machine at The Children's Museum.
The party was great...happy children, minimum of tears, some simple presents (okay, okay and a pair of ridiculous Nerf guns), hot dogs all round, strawberries and banana wheels and a cake to beat all cakes. Mama aimed for something healthy and Dee asked for chocolate and hit our perfect compromise with their amazing Nutella style hazelnut cake from Paleoliscious, a place I am sure visit again for fabulous recipes. This cake is nuts, eggs, chocolate and honey, all wholesome, real foods and yet it turns out a dessert that feels beautifully indulgent.

Never really cooked with whole hazelnuts before

Reminded me of one time when we went picking them under the bushes near our house.