31 December 2009

blue new years eve moon

the second full moon of december, aka a "blue moon", albeit looking more grey than blue through the heavy, hazy cloud cover. i hope skies are clearer where you are as your decade turns from one to the next. happy new year, everyone.

30 December 2009

doing the dishes

never have i been a fan of dishwashers. there's something so soothing about washing dishes by hand. i like everything about it - the hot water, the suds, the smell of clean, the inability to do anything else because hands are submerged and wet. i love the colors and patterns of the dishtowels flung over my shoulder even though i always air-dry. i can pack a dish drainer a foot high with a sculpture of sparkling cups, plates, bowls, and glasses and never have it so much as shift. i scour a pan and shine its copper bottom til it gleams. i hum or whistle as i clean and remember childhood days when my sister and i would harmonize camp songs as we washed and dried. this time for water-play, for looking out the window, for replaying of the day's events, and daydreaming of tomorrow - that's what you miss when you run a dishwasher. that and the feel of shea butter lotion luxuriously rubbed into water-weary hands.

29 December 2009


downy woodpecker, busy at the suet block this late afternoon. these days the air has been frigid and the wind bitingly cold. in weather like this, some birds need all the high-energy suet they can get. fortunately for this one, it's so cold that the squirrels aren't coming out of their dens to argue with him about sharing.

28 December 2009

the 4th day of christmas

i've always wanted to live in one of those cultures where christmas really didn't begin until christmas day. where festivities continued on for the twelve more days after christmas, and ended several days after the new year had begun. with all the holiday preparations, it seems a shame to dismantle it all just because christmas day has come and gone. so i keep the tree up for as long as i can, and leave primitive santas strewn around for longer. and this year, i might just leave the string lights up until the vernal equinox. after all, it will still be winter!

25 December 2009

christmas magic

out early with the camera this silvery christmas morning. the mountains and hilltops were magical with frost so i went to them. see more here.
wishing you all a wonderful christmas day.
god bless us every one.

24 December 2009

prioritizing christmas

and to think that i thought that i was too busy, that i wouldn't have time, that i was too tired and stressed - and that i almost missed decorating gingerbread men for santa with the little girl. thanks to the girl for making me see the light of christmas - and for making it happen.

just think...i almost missed gingerbread men with belly buttons.

21 December 2009

darkest hour

so keep me safe and hold me tight,
let the candle burn all night,
tomorrow welcome back the light.
‘twas the longest night of the year

-mary chapin carpenter

20 December 2009


what you notice when you drive slowly enough down your own road. i was looking for greens and cones and berries to decorate with - certainly not searching for wildlife!

17 December 2009

semester's end

tonight was my final university class of the semester. i'll not be teaching my class in the spring. at the time that decision was made, there was no choice but to decline the position. funny how it felt so right then and feels so wrong now. i think i'll miss being on campus.

13 December 2009

the nose knows

this is paperwhite narcissus, bulbs which i force into bloom every year for the holidays. having flowers in winter is wonderful but it's the sweet smell filling up the house that i really like. but i'm in the minority, i'm afraid. long has the girl told me, to her the things smell just like feet. and this year as i show the delicate blossoms to the little girl, she announces that they smell like poop.

12 December 2009

the wrong gingerbread

a few years back, i had gingerbread at a holiday function. never had i been a fan of the stuff, but this gingerbread was fantastic - moist, dense, pungent, almost black. right then, i set about to find the recipe for myself. but in all my attempts, and there have been many, i just cannot replicate it. today's effort is from a cooking show on npr and is made with molasses, dark brown sugar, an egg, and lots of spices including, of all things, black pepper. still it is not the correct one - it's spicy, all right, but it's too cakey and too high. my new/old friend susan thinks stout may be the secret ingredient. and i have yet another recipe with buttermilk that i'll try this holiday season. what do you think - does anyone out there think they may have the recipe i'm seeking?

11 December 2009

what's in a name?

how much faith do you put in a doctor named tina? and another named bonnie? shouldn't doctors have strong names like elizabeth or margaret or catherine or ann? i suppose it could be worse. i could have a doctor named chip.

09 December 2009

no school snow day

what better way to spend a snowy stay-at-home day than to have a play day with your favorite little girl? books and crayons, music and dancing. a nap by the woodstove. and here's lunch - turkey soup, crackers, milk, and grapes, all consumed with as much gusto as a two-year old can muster, while her babies haven't even woken up from their naps yet.

06 December 2009

aptly named

on a visit this weekend to the restroom of a historic 1840's church, i was compelled to capture this photo. if you are not in the habit of clicking the pictures to see them in their larger form, i'm afraid you'll never understand why i'm blogging a toilet.

05 December 2009

the arrival

outside early this morning, it feels as if it could snow at last. after a moonlit overnight, the morning air is cold, the sky a flat leaden grey. there's a fresh-frigid smell that fills the nostrils just before snow arrives. and nature is hushed and quiet, as if waiting. in early afternoon, it begins, spitting slowly at first and then falling faster, in great fat fluffy flakes...

our first snow.

01 December 2009

still leftover

do you suppose the caffeine in the coffee may negate the effects of the tryptophan in the turkey sandwich? because i have consumed so much leftover cold turkey lately that i've been in a state of perpetual drowsiness for days and days.

30 November 2009

late season color

found in the garden, long after it was cut back and put to bed for the winter, these tiny cranesbill leaves turn shades of gold and crimson, just as the trees that overshadow them did weeks before.

26 November 2009

turkeys day

this morning early i turned at a bend in the road and came upon the biggest flock of turkeys i think i've ever seen, calmly pecking away at the side of the road. and on thanksgiving day, yet - how serenditpitous is that? did i have my camera? sadly, no. so you will have to be satisfied with this, the centerpiece on the table after the day's festivities were complete. i hope you all had a blessed thanksgiving.

25 November 2009

good design/bad design

look at that baking powder container. round, so spoons fit in, with a piece of metal so you can level your half teaspoonfuls, even a plastic disc lid so it shuts up tight when not in use. and then there's the baking soda. cardboard box. perforated lid that never opens well and certainly does not shut. and if you try to use the inside section of the lid as a leveler, the surface of the teaspoon never comes out even. i wonder why the baking soda people don't come up with a container that at least rivals that of its counterpart?

23 November 2009

cranberry perfection

for the first time ever, tonight i made my mother's cranberry orange relish precisely right, with just the right amount of orange and sugar to balance the tartness and the sweetness. it filled exactly the special container i use every year. perfectly - and without the recipe, which i, after following it all these years, have now lost.

22 November 2009

food for thought

one of my sisters emails us all - does anyone have our mother's cheesecake recipe? i am the keeper of her recipes, the one with the ancient, stained good housekeeping cookbook and the blue plastic recipe box. i retrieve them both, and search through the meals of our childhood, recipes written in my mother's elegant hand or carefully typed with the old script typewriter from the 60s. scalloped potatoes, meat loaf, oven baked chicken, old fashioned apple pie. tucked into the pages of the coverless cookbook i find yellowed clippings of recipes from the long gone "women's" section of the sunday paper. jordan marsh blueberry muffins, lazy beef casserole, split pea soup, the best ever chocolate cake. turning pages that she turned as a young mother, fingering the white lined index cards she painstakingly copied. smiling at long forgotten recipes, surprised at ones she saved from me. i locate the cheesecake recipe and send it off to everyone. i hold out the card for cranberry fruit nut bread to make for my family, a fitting remembrance of my mother at our thanksgiving table.

21 November 2009

yankee ingenuity

photographed at the edge of the road. is it a golf hole flag? a wind sock? no, it's a handy marker to designate the edge of the road when it's obliterated by piles of snow. long branches forced upright into the ground by plow crews line the roadways and mark the corners. plain folk who want to remember in winter the boundaries of their driveways use them too. some markers have a florescent banner at the top but most do not. come january, when the snow is deep, they'll all stand rigid and tall over the snowbanks. as long as we don't get too much snow, that is. or as long as a plow doesn't come along and knock them down.

17 November 2009

last to leave

foliage is long gone by now and all that remains are the steadfast oak leaves. great gusts of wind rip them from their branches, tossing them skyward, then swirling them down and around, a drab maelstrom in the chill november air.

13 November 2009

a great week for clouds

i'm not sure what's going on in the atmosphere but it was another amazing cloud formation this evening as i left my other school. this is from the cheesy little camera. i sure do wish i'd had the good one with me.

12 November 2009

neutron ball

another fitful night of sleep, the result of too much on the mind mingling with too much on the plate. good thing my latest toy flashes colors and lights up in the dark.

11 November 2009

working al fresco

what a fine day to work outside, even if it is on coursework. at this point in the year, there won't be many more glorious days like this one.

09 November 2009

blue period

already daylight departs much too soon. i leave work and photograph the clouds, come home and snap the last of the lilac leaves. both captured against a blue-fading-to-black, late afternoon sky.

08 November 2009

who lived here?

found during yard clean-up, tucked into a half-dead hanging plant, this wee nest. never this summer did i see birds swooping into it, not to incubate eggs, not to feed chicks, not to urge younglings to fly. i'm distressed to have missed it all, particularly since everything happened right outside my back door. as poor consolation, i'll shelter the nest outside until after frost and freeze, then bring it into the house as a winter reminder of the spring to come.

07 November 2009


how can these strangers know me so well? they send me a seven page, 96-item survey, knowing full well that, even though i have better things to do, i'll fill it out. because look - they've already paid me a crisp new one dollar bill to do it! they also must know i work ridiculously cheap.

05 November 2009


i came over a rise and there it was, in all its solitary, barren splendor. doesn't it look like this perfectly-proportioned maple dropped its leaves five minutes before i happened upon it?

02 November 2009

into the woods

a sure sign it's november is seeing these banners on local stores. happy hunting and from a beer company, yet. time to wear blaze orange in the backyard. time to pull shades on windows facing the woods. and time to bless the herd. run fast, my deer.

01 November 2009


tonight, i have been reading about the fine line between grieving a loss and feeling excessively sorry for oneself. admittedly, i have spent today doing a lot of both. tomorrow i hope i can go back to the former. but on this, her birthday, i am feeling a bit orphaned - and i really miss my mom.

27 October 2009

tea time

six boxes of good earth cocoa chai, my wintertime drink of choice, arrive in today's mail. this stash is more than enough to last me through the cold, dark winter months ahead. all i need now is a netflix account and a snuggie.

26 October 2009


here's the reason why many don't bother growing mums in northern new england. it's late october and finally, this plant has blossoms. but it's grown so tall and leggy that it's falling over on itself. will these flowers grow much bigger? probably not. will they materialize before a fall snowstorm does? not likely. easier then to buy fall plants in pots to compost in november after a hard frost, leaving the garden space for daisies and lilies and plants that look pleasing for a good length of time.

24 October 2009

fascinating faucet - or a whole new low

yes, indeedy, i am blogging a faucet. because what better thing to do on a cold rainy october weekend than collect up a screwdriver and an old toothbrush to dismantle the bathroom faucet and scrub years of accumulated sludge and slime from the valves within? yeckkk! but truly, the reason for the picture was to help name those snap-in things that cover the screws recessed in the handles. index buttons, they're called and they can be bought online to replace the 20+ year old ones that are so disfigured you're never quite certain anymore which is h and which is c. upon downloading the photo, i immediately saw a moose (see?) and am now thinking about posting this to the "faces in places" blog. and finally, the photographer is reflected on the chrome within - twice, in fact, due to the close proximity of the also sparkling bathroom mirror.

18 October 2009


the center of a tiny white chrysanthemum, one of hundreds on the plant. once again, this looked pretty plain and uninteresting in the viewfinder when i shot it. but i love the detail in the photo, especially the variations in color and the veining on the petals.

17 October 2009

a saturday in mid-october

begins at the farmers' market with macoun apples, homemade rolls, and beautiful freshly dug carrots for a dollar a bunch. continues at home with the little girl opening dried bean pods, plunking the seeds in a bowl to save for spring planting. smelling each sad herb plant one final time before heaving them all into the compost. raking piles of leaves to leap into and roll about in, shrieking with laughter, as the girl films for posterity. ends in the sitting spot, quiet and alone, with a cup of tea, a grateful heart, and leaves in my hair.

16 October 2009

last one

in hindsight, i suppose i should have blogged months ago about the serendipitousness of finding a limited edition bag of tootsie pops containing all chocolate, rather than writing now about the sad occasion of indulging in the last remaining confection.

14 October 2009

early chill

cold enough tonight for the first fire of the season. it seems so early. hope it's not an indication of things to come...

12 October 2009

fall, leaves

this picture is probably bad from a technical standpoint. but i find it kind of fascinating in a bizarre way. it was taken in the yard with the macro. the pink blur in the corner is the little girl who had just seconds before scooped up an armful of leaves and tossed them high. and there they are, suspended. sort of.

11 October 2009

still life with pears

the girl has a pear tree in her yard and it's loaded with fruit. she shared and here they are. not sure what to do with them all. pear sauce? pear crisp? pear pie? maybe i'll just eat them. and because they're so small, i'll do it a pair at a time.

10 October 2009

merry columbus day

if it's columbus day weekend, can christmas be far behind? i purchased these at the post office this morning when i went in to buy forever stamps. the clerk told me holiday stamps were flying off the shelves and if i waited too much longer i might not be able to find any when it was time to send christmas cards. jeez.

09 October 2009

friday night ritual

at the restaurant with the little girl we color as we wait for our dinners. she giggles with glee each time i color in one the characters' eyes or nose, then grabs the red and scribbles in great round strokes. when the food comes, she helps herself to the side order of rice, spooning it onto her plate with great tenacity and care. later we go home, put on pajamas and socks and snuggle on the couch with books. friday evening is for babysitting - because i want to. the anticipation sometimes gets me through the week.

04 October 2009

fall décor

today, the annual gathering of the bittersweet, a native vine that is a traditional aspect of fall decorating here. every october, a new jumble of vine is clipped while in its yellow-berried state, stripped of its leaves, and carefully placed in this carved wooden trencher. overnight, the yellow casings split and pop open, revealing its bright orange seed pod inside. then the arrangement dries beautifully and remains in place through the fall and winter months, a golden and orange riot of color atop the living room cupboard, high up by the beams.