31 December 2008

top ten reasons why 2008 wasn't so bad after all:

#10: didn't lose money in the stock market because we didn't have much invested anyway
#9: mpg for new car began to rise in may, right around the time gas prices started to climb
#8: a bad case of shingles left no noticeable scars or side effects and the headache just comes and goes now
#7: the red sox did okay without manny 
#6: even though i lost my good friend pat i still see remembrances of her every time i turn around
#5: the baby girl learned to walk and talk, and to dance and sing
#4: last year's jeans still fit this year
#3: surpassed 500 blog posts, despite the fact that i don't have all that much to say
#2: family and friends are healthy and happy and safe
and the #1 reason 2008 wasn't so bad after all...hope for change!

a happy, serendipitous new year to you all.

in bloom and on time

yes, reader, i know you've seen these paperwhites blooming in my kitchen every christmastime. but this year's blooms are so stunningly perfect and fragrant and they give me such joy that they bear blogging again. please forgive me.

30 December 2008

bird ball

a chickadee feasting at the bird ball that santa put in my christmas stocking! a good present for the birds. and for me, too!

27 December 2008

the sampler

fifteen years ago, i painstakingly designed a personalized cross stitch sampler. after years of stitching other people's designs, this piece was to be my magnum opus. but soon after i began the needlework, i gave up in frustration when the task proved to be too much for these aging eyes. for years, the canvas sat, untouched. then at some point, the girl took it and, following my plan, finished it with eyes younger than mine. on christmas eve, she presented it back to me, wrapped in a box with a bow. and aging eyes wept with joy and gratitude.

22 December 2008

the view from the car

sunset taken from the speeding car as i barreled down the highway to finish the christmas shopping that didn't get done over the weekend. only two more shopping days 'til christmas. yikes.

21 December 2008

baking day

day two of a snowstorm, a foot of the white stuff, and the perfect day to bake. date nut bread and pound cake and a candy recipe from a friend. maybe some cookies. white stuff all over the kitchen.

19 December 2008


Out of the bosom of the Air
Out of the cloud-folds of her garments shaken,
Over the woodlands brown and bare,
Over the harvest-fields forsaken,
Silent, and soft, and slow
Descends the snow.

-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

18 December 2008

simple celebrations

today i attended a school lunch and sing along and mingled with excited children and beaming parents to the strains of "rudolph the red nosed reindeer." tonight i went with friends to a community concert, with adolescent singing, high school musicians, elves as emcees, and the hallelujah chorus for a finale. both were simple yet meaningful affairs that brought out the joy and magic of the holiday. they slowed my pace and were just the respite i needed during this final rush to christmas.

17 December 2008

big town small trees

the evergreen trees lining the parking lot of the biggest market in our area. and after today's snow, they're all decked out for christmas.

16 December 2008

small town big tree

the tree on the town's postage stamp-sized common. it's probably the biggest evergreen in the whole town, and it's all decked out for christmas.

13 December 2008

full cold moon

i awake early. much, much too early. but brightness streams in the windows and spills onto the floor. i arise, look out, and gasp at the scene - a wonderland of ice encrusted trees all reaching for the source of the illumination. in nightclothes and boots i venture out to try to capture it. who can sleep on such a wondrous night?

12 December 2008

ice storm

many parts of northern new england have experienced a pre-christmas ice storm, complete with downed trees, power outages, and states-of-emergencies. here we had flickering lights and ice covered limbs. but we also had quiet carols, cocoa chai, candles in the windows, and woodstove warmth. a quiet pause before a weekend of christmas hustle and bustle.

08 December 2008


can't decide whether these belong in the leave-well-enough-alone category with the poinsettia and the eggnog, or whether sugar-free candy canes sweetened with splenda may be a good christmas innovation.

07 December 2008

the honor system

during yesterday's serendipitous shopping trip, a remarkable thing happened to me. as i approached a shopkeeper with my arms full of purchases and my credit card extended, she pointed to the sign by the register. cash or check only, it read. or honor system.
"just send me a check later," the shopkeeper says.
"are you kidding?" i question.
"nah, i do it all the time," she says.
"you don't even know me!" i exclaim in disbelief. "how do you know you'll get paid back?"
she replies, "hey - it's your karma..."
so i charged $61.19 in amazing items to a person i've never met and perhaps will never see again. and her check will go out in tomorrow's mail along with my sincere gratitude for her kindness and her trust. but the striking thing about the experience is the feeling of awe i am left with, even a day later. i am eagerly anticipating paying that kindness forward. maybe even two or three times.

06 December 2008

village shopping

this afternoon, a friend and i meandered into a charming but unfamiliar community, a remote village filled with old new england houses and old country stores yet bustling with holiday merriment and christmas cheer. we shopped craft fair booths set up in small spaces and bought homemade soaps and jellies, handmade beaded items, unusual toys and books, and christmas paperwhites and amarylis from local garden club members who offered their methods to force them into christmas bloom. in the basement of the methodist church, at long tables set in red and green, we had a lunch of seafood corn chowder, a warm roll, and spicy gingerbread, all made by the women's club for a price of under five dollars. there were smiles and greetings as folks passed us on the road and there was just enough snow on the ground to make it feel festive. it was the perfect pre-christmas experience - and it was way better than the mall.

04 December 2008

countdown to christmas

for almost a year, i've been planning a little christmas surprise for the girl. finally, this was the week to reveal it. it's coming to you a few days late since i wanted to check with the girl about sharing it. 25 ornaments that may look ordinary to the casual reader, but that hold a special significance here at christmas time. happy advent.

03 December 2008

you get what you paid for

when i go away, i'm pretty meticulous about packing. this trip i remembered the electric toothbrush but forgot the toothpaste. so i made a cheap purchase last night at a nearby dollar store. only as i was readying for bed did i realize i left the tube in the car. so i brushed with plain water and went to sleep. this morning i retrieved the toothpaste from the car to find that i had purchased vanilla mint colgate with my dollar. vanilla mint. doesn't that sound like a scented candle - or aerosol room freshener? i had to drink numerous cups of coffee to get the wretched taste out of my mouth. not looking forward to brushing tonight...

01 December 2008

gilding the poinsettia

well, apparently nothing is sacred!  tell me, why would anyone do this to a living thing, especially one so naturally beautiful??

29 November 2008


o good grief. is nothing sacred? sugar cookie eggnog? pumpkin? if only because it's a seasonal libation, let egg nog be pure and unadulterated and traditional - with the only flavoring the time-honored hint of nutmeg. okay, and maybe a little brandy.

28 November 2008

post thanksgiving

after a heavily techno day of shopping black (and pink!) friday deals online and assessing students' tech projects, it's nice to end the day at the other extreme - on the couch in front of the fireplace listening to the first strains of windham hill christmas music while turkey stock simmers on the woodstove and fills the house with good smells.

27 November 2008

the other turkey

along with the fall decorating and the cranberry-orange relish, a new thanksgiving tradition has begun - a yearly hand turkey from the baby girl. i'll save them from one thanksgiving to the next and may eventually add them to the fall decorating cache. i hope it will be a fun tradition for her on a day when there are not many kid-centered activities - and it will be a chance to compare artistic technique from year to year. that said, behold the first offering, traced by grammie and colored by the baby girl. please note that most of the strong coloring is within the traced shape and that the young artist has carefully chosen classic turkey feather colors from her box of 16 crayons! hand turkey #1 @ 17 months. happy thanksgiving!! (don't forget to take the poll in the sidebar ------>)

24 November 2008

first snow

it's hard to focus in the dark, in the snow. but i wanted to try to capture it as it came as a surprise. time to go to bed, tonight with the outside light on, so i can watch the season's first flakes drift past the window as i fall to sleep.

23 November 2008

thar she blows

day 8 of a bothersome cold and already i have been through two of those cubical boxes of tissues. on my return trip to the pharmacy, where they know me by now, i compare the cube and the rectangle, thinking they are all the same tissues. not so! the rectangle contains 132 tissues, the cube only 60. the tissues in the rectangle are bigger than those in the cube. and the rectangle is more expensive, but not by much. since my tissue holder is for a cube, i wonder if i can take the tissues from the rectangle, fold 'em in half, and stuff them in the empty cube. because at the rate i'm going through tissues, i'll use up those 60 cube tissues by tuesday.

22 November 2008

overnight ice

yesterday water at this familiar spot was still and black, the kind of pool that looks to be bottomless. overnight, temperatures dropped sharply and wind picked up. this morning - ice, from one bank to the other. as i watched, oak leaves skittered and twirled across the surface in the wind, the first skaters of the season.

15 November 2008

drab saturday

a hydrangea dried beautifully on the plant, its translucent flower petals representing the most color in the landscape on a drizzly grey morning.

13 November 2008

the end.

remember those pansies from posts past? just the other morning, i picked a few for a tiny kitchen window vase and marveled at the fact that there were still flowers blooming in northern new england in november. but alas, last night's temperatures were too much for them and they succumbed to the frost. it was time.

11 November 2008

lucky numbers

while shutting down for tonight and packing up for tomorrow, i glanced at the display on my cellphone as it powered down - just in time to glimpse a unique sight. by the time i turned the phone back on and retrieved the camera from its zippered case, a minute had passed and i had missed recording the serendipitous moment: 11:11 on 11/11. perhaps i'll catch it on 12/12, shortly after midnight.

10 November 2008

the last planting

fifty assorted daffodil bulbs planted in the far corner at the edge of the woods, just in front of the too tall stump. fifty more will go in tomorrow all in a clump and in a spot visible from the windows. daffodils hold such promise in their squat little forms. it makes planting on a chilly wet november day well worth the effort.

08 November 2008

november rain

rain in early november brings down the last of the leaves...lilac, beech, some oak. here you can barely see the roof of this summer cottage for all the leaves. very soon, gusty winds from the north will clear the roof and scatter the leaves skyward. fall is drawing to a close.

31 October 2008

so soon?

doesn't it seem christmas comes earlier and earlier each year?
fifteen years ago early morning sales began the day after thanksgiving. later christmas magazines started appearing on supermarket newsstands around veterans' day. and now this in my inbox today - as well as the first christmas commercial of the season on tv tonight. i expect when i go out later this morning, still chewing my halloween gum, the stores will all be decked out for the holidays. after all, there's only fifty-five shopping days left!


like my costume?
happy halloween!

30 October 2008

riding shotgun

seen sitting in the passenger seat of an suv in a bank parking lot. and look, he's even buckled in. funny the things some adults do when it's time for hallowe'en...

28 October 2008

cheesy glasses

here are the drug store cheepos i had to wear for two days instead of my regular wire framed glasses. over the weekend as i cleared brush, a lilac branch snagged and caught my specs as i heaved it out into the woods. it took forever to find those glasses in the brambles and leaves, and, when they were recovered, they were in quite sad condition. so i wore these scratched plastic readers while they were being repaired. and no one even noticed the change. 

26 October 2008

forest floor

yes, it's blurry, i know. i was trying to photograph that orange seed pod on the birch branch but had only the lesser camera and, to make matters worse, was without my glasses. still, i like the colors and textures and wanted to post this even though its blog-worthiness is questionable.

25 October 2008

goodbye to the gardens

a grey fall saturday is a good day to cut back the gardens and clean them up before snow arrives. pulling and cutting plants, one last round of weeding,  and some on-the-spot divisions of plants make the task last all day. as always there are surprises - the blooming johnny-jump-ups hidden among the dead rubekia, a paper thin chrysalis hanging from dried milkweed, the strong scent of lemon balm as my rake passes over the dead flowers. in the vegetable garden, hidden under the damp vines, i find a huge cucumber that has somehow escaped picking. and on the bean pole, i cut and pocket shriveled brown seed-laden pods that hold the promise of next year's beans. after many trips to empty the wheelbarrow, i end the day with a cup of tea in the adirondack chair, tired but satisfied, as the maples release their leaves with the wind. 

20 October 2008

october grasses

not sure how much longer grasses will look this feathery and winsome against the evening sky. this morning we had a killing frost. tonight the forecast is for rain - or possibly snow showers. i have yet to see a flake - and that's fine with me. 

19 October 2008

rally cap

and it didn't even work. the red sox lost in game 7 of the alcs. no world series for me. no more baseball until spring. and certainly no joy in beantown tonight. *sob*

18 October 2008

frost at dawn

with this week's full harvest moon and a starlit cold overnight, everything this morning was tinged with sparkling frost for a few brief moments before the breaking sunlight melted it all. 

13 October 2008

the nice thing about pansies

the first nice thing about pansies is that they come out so early in the spring. well before any of the other annuals arrive, pansies provide a multitude of much welcomed color after the drab months of winter. the second nice thing about pansies is that, after they have gotten leggy and sad-looking in the heat of summer, as the days cool and fall arrives they stage a comeback that lasts until frost. and the last nice thing about pansies is the seed pod. in that short period after the fat pod splits in three and before the wind or rain ensues, the seeds wait all lined up in perfectly lovely little rows. Observe...

12 October 2008

autumn in new england

because you can only blog so many foliage pictures before your readership begins to roll their eyes and curse you under their collective breath and since it is once again a totally spectacular new england sunday, i offer you this autumn montage with the vow that this is the end of foliage season as far as serendipitous is concerned. really. i promise.

11 October 2008


after a poor start to the season, fall foliage is beyond breathtaking this weekend. here i pulled over to the side of the back road i was following to marvel in the colors and patterns and textures of the trees on the hillsides. only after moving beyond the awe and beauty of it all did it occur on me what a great shot this might make - cows and all. 

05 October 2008

short & sweet

the first carrot from the garden. neither underdeveloped nor stunted,  it's a variety that grows short and fat as it matures and is good for heavier garden soils like ours. other years' attempts have yielded carrots that were puny and thin, hardly more than orange roots. planting this kind was a carrot coup. i sure hope helen's reading this.

03 October 2008


these toll house wannabes represent the most productive thing i have done in an entire week's time. don't be impressed or anything. they were from a ready to bake, ready to expire package i keep on the refrigerator door in case guests show up. but it sure felt good to finally accomplish something, even if it was a little easy baking.

02 October 2008

inside looking out

maple leaves on the hill in back just after the rain. taken through the back window - a lucky shot.

23 September 2008


this boggy spot by the side of the road is where i glimpsed this morning, with my peripheral vision, a great blue heron standing in the mist in the shallow water. alas it was too late to turn the car around and, by the time i came back later in the day, the mist was, of course, long gone, taking the great blue with it.

21 September 2008

to the orchard

off to the apple orchard this fine late summer day where there were plenty of opportunities for photos in great light, like these pumpkins in an old mail wagon.

16 September 2008

tuesdays with money

a while back i hit a landmark birthday - a big one. i'm ashamed to admit i was pretty depressed by it. so in an effort to curb this feeling, i've taken to seeking out the positive aspects that accompany this decline in years. and here's an ongoing one: tuesday is senior day at the drugstore. so i make my list and only shop there on tuesdays. i make sure the twenty-something behind the counter scans my key ring fob. and see the savings? since i started tallying it, i've gotten discounts amounting to around $14. maybe i'll save up for a unicycle.