Christmas rocks on…

December 29, 2011 § 12 Comments

Kids returned to their respective homes:  Jack the Dog went home with Nor and D, of course and Snarl headed back to his studio miles away. Mom is back at her house. The sun is out.

Christmas is still everywhere.
I have even thought this morning that there are some corners in some of the rooms that even now, even still could use some Christmas decoration. But I stay my hand.

There is never too much Christmas spirit.
Time to pause and walk around the house, something I rarely get to do this time of day. (on vacay this week.)

Thinking of all of you with whom I share comments and creativity and stories and wishing you a continuing joyous season and Happy New Year…and also that you could be here for some coffee and pie.

Pictured below, the DR and the large mossy wreath is the one HM “won” at auction at the Botanical Garden.

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favorite things…

December 6, 2011 § 7 Comments

At last, to catch up with a workable holiday theme, to bring a little of this, a little of that to the holiday buffet of favorite things!

Herein, a journal. It’s a tiny little gipper, brought to me by dear friend Linda of Haute Loire, when she took a cooking tour in Tuscany. This is actually a little journal, about 4×5″ and with a long thin leather strap to wrap it all ’round. Nope, this one remains untouched to date. And it doesn’t play well on the shelf (due to its leather string.) But it’s the real ‘ting, all lovely paper inside begging beggging begging for some written words – no matter what they are, to dress it up and make in sing (which it would likely do with a marvelous Italian accent!)

Why so compelled to journal?
It’s an old art, if not an ancient one. The history of the practice will zip you right back to 10th century Japan (ah, those ladies of the royal court…who wrote).
Journaling endures. Not just because people have time on their hands (like the Bennett sisters) but are, moreover, driven by a need to record things, about the world, about themselves, about what they see and don’t see…about fiction. 
It’s notable in the two different  journaling classes I attend that the attendees are always asking what they should write in a journal, in fact, what IS a journal? Others don’t say anything. They might read what they’ve written…or not. They might ask questions and have done no writing. They might come clutching a notebook of some sort and hope for….other people to talk with about writing? I don’t know. I go to for inspiration. I am fascinated by the teachers and their very disparate approaches. I am fascinated by those who attend. And such stories come out!
 Sometimes I write while I’m there. (This is allowed and accepted.)

I would say a journal, frightening or not in its blank blanc-ness, is the ultimate gift, to be explored, to draw the adventures out and onto the page for the writer to then re-enjoy.

The gift that keeps on giving.

holiday writing non-whirl…

December 3, 2011 § 12 Comments

It’s reading season. It’s writing season.
This is the next journal (above)…having just finished filling a custom-rendered beauty that Jeanie made for me (below).

Yet, if one were to gage journaling success on pages filled from Dec 1 to now, ah, well, then, I’ve a ways to go. And that includes travel time and you know very well that a great deal of inner thoughts can be accomplished on a plane. But I did not write. I read a bit, wrapped my scarf like an Englishman because the piped air wouldn’t respond to the “off” position, and I smiled, not insanely, just enough so people would know I was pleasant although I did not want to talk. (I’m not a plane talker.)

Yet the most writing accomplished in these three December days is lists!  Xmas gift lists. Then I forget where I put them. I write them again. I switch purses, bags, wallets. I write lists yet again. I jot lists in journals. Which one? the one I always always carry? (tiny, and from Etsy) or the ‘overall’ one (the likes of which are pictured above)?

While I may have intended to get someone on the list a collection of Billy Collins poetry, that person might now, in the list’s fifth or sixth or senventh incarnation, be relegated to getting a souvenir album of the Cardinals World Series win. And yet I have forsworn getting all nervous and jumpy about the gift part.

So as I write and sip at the dawn of this weekend morning and gaze at the boxes of Christmas lights that will somehow spring to order and stage themselves for outdoor and indoor decor, and wonder about getting out there into the holiday fray, a great deal of which I really do enjoy, but moments in Blogland are  holiday-precious and full of friends and friends-that-would-be if actually here. 

So, as a writing “dabble,” the following notes from holiday wanderings during lunch yesterday and then last evening with HM:
1) It is possible to read HUGO CABRET while sipping coffee at B&N. Then…plan to see the movie which is compelling simply because of Scorcese’s work and personal take on it.
2) The Charlie Brown Christmas Tree available at various stores (this is not an ad!)  is really rather charming and not too in-your-face to have sitting on your desk at work. (Needs batteries; the ones supplied didn’t work. I will therefore guess the song it plays is the one from the Peanuts TV special of yore.)
3) Stray cats this time of year are to be fed and watered,  not shooed away. Same with the rotund bluejays and redheaded woodpeckers who suddenly prefer the black oil sunflower seed to the lovely suet that HM bought for them and their big old beaks.
4) Coffee gets a makeover every year during the holiday season with scents and flavors and creams and bits of things like peppermint and salt and pumpking and sprinkles. I think the barristas are a tad disappointed when I ask for a mere “tall coffee.”
5) Is anyone else getting all kinds of decorating ideas and then wondering when and how said ideas will actually be accomplished?  I have an idea for a garland that does not involve going out to chop down or shop for live branches….hmmmmm….more to follow!

Happy Day 3 of Advent!

Time out…

November 28, 2011 § 20 Comments

We took a road trip…

To  a wilderness place for a little time out.

We slowed down and geared up for the impending holidays… and wandered around, gathering strength from nature and from conversation and laughs, without phones and frippery and interruption… oh yeah, and we ate!
And we talked about living in this place, not just for a weekend.

But  we realized…there’s no place like home. Time out will do that for you, will elasticize and bend ’til the chrono continuum falls away and you can think straight,  about where in the universe you really are and are comfortable.
It’s good to get away. It’s great to go home.

In this holiday season, as always, I wish everyone a home, a place, a port in the storm. 
May we be that for one another as well.

always throwing a punch of some sort…

November 9, 2011 § 6 Comments

(Renoir’s Alfred Sisley….photo snapped at the Chicago Institute of Art, allowable as long as no flash is used.) This image was chosen because it looks like he’s thinking about what Ernest is saying, below.

“What a writer has to do is write what hasn’t been written before or beat dead men at what they have done.”

-Ernest Hemingway

Thanks, Ernest. You have such a way with words. No, really.

going long…

October 20, 2011 § 6 Comments

“You need that pride in yourself, as well as a sense, when you are sitting on Page 297 of a book, that the book is going to be read, that somebody is going to care. You can’t ever be sure about that, but you need the sense that it’s important, that it’s not typing; it’s writing.”

– Roger Kahn

I haven’t read Roger Kahn. Except this quote.
Funny when your eye falls on just what you need, when you need it…a quote like this, especially… “that it’s not typing; it’s writing.”
And the sun comes out.

Caught red-handed…

October 16, 2011 § 7 Comments

(photo was “filtered” using MS Digital Suite’s  “pencil drawing” effect. This one goes in the Backyard book, now in progress.)

Archie successfully raided the bird feeder.

It has since been moved, only inches but enough to quell this young buck’s leaping abilities.
And yet his engineer-brain is already at work on finding a new path to plant him on the feeder plate and allow him to plump up on that lovely black oil sunflower seed.

to be continued…

Saturday…just like that

October 15, 2011 § 6 Comments

(pictures from the patio)
I know, I know. More flower pictures.  But these are (nearly) the last of the morning glories as the reality of Frost edges closer on the calendar. These little beauties who sing with light are such a send-off in the morning as I click-click-click in my heels to the car, clutching keys and purse and there they are, going intesely about the business of beauty and stopping me in my 8-5 tracks. They are such shouting welcomers when we get home – yes, they stay open because the light isn’t nearly so intense and they cover the brick wall at the back end of the driveway, waiting all day to cheer our return. They are Fall weather thrivers.

I haven’t been writing nearly as much; just notes and nonsense and silly sketches in my  journal.  As though in preparation for something bigger to write.  I walk and wander with my camera in my free time (ahahaha – please define free time!) and you are my patient friends stuck, for now, with flowers.

One of my favorite editors has left her job. Having seen changes in the publisher and publication, she has opted instead to throw herself into the freelance world. We have worked together for years. Without her at that magazine’s helm, I have lost interest in pursuing feature writing there. I might have made that decision soon anyway; it’s time to write without deadlines, but write nonetheless. (See LitLove’s entry on deadlines.)

This is a gorgeously noisy yet tranquil world, with glimpses of stories everywhere, of things to capture and cook up and tell while sitting around the fire, later, in the warm dark of the evening.
Onward.

fruit, Fall and fine food writing…

September 21, 2011 § 9 Comments

What IS it about berries and cream…
Or, berries sprinkled with raw sugar…
Or, a quick thick dip  in some chocolate fudge sauce…

ah, but the berries are on the wane, making room for the apple, that icon of health, Johnny A-seed and Fall.
 I made a mile high pie on Sunday and forgot to shoot it (with my camera, I mean, of course!)

As for best apple pie recipe, you have to know what pieces to steal from which cookbook,but do include something from the JOY OF COOKING (the vanilla!).
Also, you have to have a Grandmother somewhere in your family history who put pies on the table every weekend, never getting all dramatic or show-offy about it, never blinking, never missing. Upon praise, she lifted an eyebrow and gave a bit of a smile and went on about her business.  And we never got her apple pie recipe in writing, either.

So, I try to get mine to be at least the color of hers (thanks to cinnamon and a little shoosh of nutmeg) and focus on the crust as well as on apples that have FLAVOR! Sure you can make a pie with apples from the root cellar that have been sitting there forever, but treat yourself and get really good ones, really juicy sweet-tart apples,  no more than a week old from the orchard.

Yup, if I had me a horse, I’d ride out there (where?) and pick all day ’til even the horse said” that’s enough.”

Here’s to apple pie time!
Which has me thinking it’s a good time to read one of Laurie Colwin’s essay/cookbooks again – give ’em a try if you haven’t – yum!
     HOME COOKING: A WRITER IN THE KITCHEN
     MORE HOME COOKING:  A WRITER RETURNS TO THE KITCHEN
These are wonderful. For so many reasons. Fulfill  your reading (and eating ) appetites.
And …. these would make grand gifts for the holidays…seriously.
Read them. Enjoy. Tralala.

small splendor…

September 18, 2011 § 10 Comments

Only the love birds were eating in the rain this morning.
I didn’t catch a picture of the fat-bodied lovelies before they went whistling to the top of the roof and refused to come back.

I left the back doors open, leaving only the screens, and started scribbling in my journal, to warm up.

And when I looked up, the rain had stopped and there was a six-bird chorus of seed cracking going on.

Hello, Sunday.

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