31 December 2010

a new year's wish on a planet

since i was a little kid, i've wished on first stars, birthday candles, hay trucks, turkey wishbones and all manner of traditional and not-so-traditional objects. and although i know this is jupiter, not the-first-star-i-see-tonight, i instinctively began a wish on it when i spotted it bright and shiny in the sky this new year's evening.

my wish for you this new year is days of wonder and awe, of laughter and joy, and of just enough of what you need to keep life as good as it is. happy new year!

love, chris

29 December 2010

not-so-boring board games

there's nothing like a rousing game of candyland in the evening to calm a little girl and make her sleepy! she played with a vengeance and came in a close second, then took almost ninety minutes to settle down and go to sleep! next time, i'll go back to reading her books before bed!

26 December 2010

a brown december

outside, it begins - our first real snowstorm of the winter. it promises to be a big one, with blizzard conditions overnight and more snow tomorrow. so this morning i took to the woods, one final walk before winter sets in. the sky was overcast with the thick grey clouds that always precede a good snow. the air was invigoratingly chilly but so still. maple and beech leaves crunched under my boots on the frozen forest floor - not the dry crackle of fall but the solid sound of a winter's freeze. mosses and fungi were frozen in time, hanging on to stumps and rocks in muted autumn shades of brown and tan and green. the small pools of the brook were skimmed over with ice as water beneath continued to bubble over rocks on its way down the hill. i looked for animals, but saw none. i listened for birds and squirrels, but heard nothing. all was calm and still, waiting for the snow that, sooner or later, always comes in december.

25 December 2010

merry christmas!

oh tidings of comfort and joy...
and a merry christmas to you and yours.

23 December 2010

moon rise with contrails

tonight with moonrise, there were numerous contrails from one airplane after another flying from the eastern horizon high in the air to almost directly over my head. the moonlight illuminated these condensation trails and made them look so magical and futuristic. it was difficult to capture them in the dark with no tripod, the camera resting on the hood of the car. so this is one time i'm going to suggest that you be content with this smaller picture than click for the larger, less focused one.

21 December 2010

christmas lights

when we were litte, my father used to pile all us kids in the station wagon and take us for nighttime rides to look at christmas lights. every year when i drive past this place, i am reminded of that. he would have loved this spot. do families still do that today - take a december ride for the express purpose of looking at christmas light displays? or do they just notice them as they go about their regular routine?

19 December 2010

a blessing and a curse

at first i drove right past this scene. it was quite lovely and i did slow down for it. but really, you can't photograph everything! however, this beauty is the price you pay for having a snowless december. you don't often see the lake this frozen and this glossy. so i turn the car around and go back, inch it along by the side of the road until i can see it all again - the ice on the lake, the snow on the mountain, the blue of the sky. i set my camera and start to shoot.

in the distance, i see a jogger headed my way, frosty breath forming a cloud around his head. as he approaches, i say good morning. he returns the greeting as he passes by. then he turns, jogs backward a few paces and, looking at the camera, says, what do you see? everything comes my response. i see everything.

17 December 2010


she looks at the cd cover and says, "hey! that's just like my small cup!" i look. i don't see. she goes to the cabinet and finds the cup, brings it to me. "that's just like my cup - see?" and i do. minutes later, she writes her name. shaky letters out of sequence, but there they all are. i am continually amazed to see the changes in her development, and always so excited to see what will come next.

15 December 2010

out of place

what's wrong with this picture? can you see? do you notice what just does not belong in sight - or production - at christmastime? maybe i shouldn't let things like this annoy me. but i'm such a traditionalist, especially around holidays, that it does. by my calculation, this oddball item is more than four months premature. that said, i bought it. for christmas. it will make the girl laugh to see something so badly out of place this special time of year.

11 December 2010

ice on the river

so cold has it been this week that small ponds and streams have begun to ice up. i was surprised to find the edges of this quick moving river showing ice. yet isolated spots in wetlands are covered in a glassy grey sheet of ice from edge to edge and larger lakes are ringed in white shoreline. it seems this all happened rather quickly, but it's mid december, and it's time.

10 December 2010

christmas play

at thanksgiving time, the little girl told me "you sure do have a lot of decorations around here!" i wonder what she must be thinking now that christmas and winter are here! tonight, she joined in the frivolity of decking the halls.

there's a small tree under here somewhere.

and this is the house that mr. and mrs. santa salt&peppershaker share, constructed with every wooden block in the box. notice all the christmas trees they have!

06 December 2010

the elusive gingerbread

with apologies to friends who were reading serendipitous last year at this time, i am once again bringing up the perennial holiday subject of gingerbread. never a fan of it as a child, in december i become obsessed with duplicating a particular gingerbread served as a simple dessert at a local ladies auxiliary christmas luncheon. but this stuff is anything but simple. it's dark. it's moist. it's flavorful without being overly spicy. and it's amazingly delicious. i tasted it again on saturday and now the old gingerbread fervor has returned for yet another season.

it's made with an old secret recipe, the ladies tell me with twinkles in their eyes. every town baker uses the same recipe so the gingerbread will be consistent for each seating. one woman slipped and told me the secret was in the molasses. of course, i have experimented with amount and types of molasses. sulphured. unsulphured. blackstrap. this year, i have some locally made, in the cupboard, waiting for baking time. 

last winter i think i made five attempts, trying duplicate this elusive gingerbread, but to no avail. so i ask you, dear readers...what do you know about gingerbread? is it all created equal? are there tricks to the making or baking of it? what makes a dark, moist, not too dense or spicy gingerbread? your thoughts and recipes shamelessly accepted.

04 December 2010

old nest

i spotted this from a distance, a dark mass at the uppermost branches of the bare tree. tucked high in a perfect crook, this abandoned nest. what kind of exceptional building skills must be holding it up there in this december wind and weather!

02 December 2010

quick! deck the halls!

it was beginning to look a lot like christmas today, at least at the hotel. i arrived home tonight to well-intended decorations, gracing the couch and the living room floor and laying on top of half-opened boxes. over the weekend, let the decorating begin!

30 November 2010

new learning

spending several days at my favorite professional conference, one i haven't attended in two years. there is just so much to take in, so much new to learn. it's energizing though, as i sit here in stocking feet with room service, reviewing the events of the day and wondering what wonders tomorrow may bring...

27 November 2010


inside, they're pajamas.
outside, they're flannel pants.
but only if you're under 15.
or just running to the end of the driveway to pick up the mail.

26 November 2010

the day after thanksgiving

this crystal sight out my window as i wake up entirely too late on the day after thanksgiving. the house is filled with the good smell of turkey stock, simmering all night on the woodstove. it looks like a good day to stay inside and start dreaming of christmas. 

25 November 2010

thanksgiving 2010

here's to the lovely quiet holiday with family! roast turkey, pumpkin biscuits, amazing stuffing, squash from the garden, and gravy that didn't have to come from a jar after all! to quote the little girl's favorite thanksgiving song -
thank you, thank you, thank you, let's all say thank you, we will all say thank you, on this special day...

thank you also for kind and loyal readers. you bring special joy to my blogging!

24 November 2010

apple pie

overheard in the produce aisle: "i love apple pie! i could even eat it for breakfast!" i chuckle - because i have done just that!

21 November 2010

full moon november

late last night, i spent far too much time trying to photograph the moonlight from the almost-full moon. it was mesmerizing, the magical way it flooded the yard and the now-stark woods, seemingly turning night into day. as i grew more and more frustrated with my inability to the capture the scene on film, it occurred to me that i was missing out on the moment. so i packed up my camera gear and went to bed, eyes wide open on the pillow, watching as the moonlight spilled through the windows and across the room and finally, into my dream.

18 November 2010

colorless days

it's pretty hard to find any natural color these drab november days. here  are the last remaining leaves of the rugosa rose bush, muted yellow against the rest of the gray-brown landscape. 

14 November 2010

takes a lickin' & keeps on tickin' - sort of

this shows what happens to your camera as you're sliding into the driver's seat and it slips from your jacket's left pocket at the precise moment you choose to close the car door. miraculously, it still takes pictures! but unless i revert to using the viewfinder, which seems too pre-digital (and small!) to me, it's tricky to see the subject of the shoot. plus i am always afraid the camera will get jarred and all the jagged pieces of glass i can see in there will splinter out into my pocket. where the camera never should have been in the first place - but always was.

08 November 2010


today i bought a bottle of cough medicine at my local pharmacy. because of some popular active ingredient in it, the cashier is required to ask for and record the buyer's date of birth. now really, i am quite obviously of age for these matters and i am always a tad miffed by this request. my age is simply no one's business. so i rolled my eyes dramatically and blatantly lied about my age, trimming eighteen years from it.  and not only did the clerk believe me, she called me ma'am!

07 November 2010

home again

over the weekend, i went home. back to where i was raised, back to see five of six brothers and sisters who lived there with me. it was far too short a time together but it was wonderful. i miss the place but i especially miss them and i wish we had had more time together. now we're again scattered... until summer perhaps.

04 November 2010


i remember when i was much younger, the first time some unknown someone addressed me not as miss, as i was accustomed, but as the dreaded older-woman title - ma'am.

can i help you, ma'am? are you finding everything you need, ma'am? thank you, ma'am.

needless to say, i cringed for a very long time when i was addressed as such. but over the years i've grown and evolved into the ma'am designation and have actually worn the title proudly now for decades. so you can imagine my horror as i slowly come to the realization that, when you become of a certain more mature age, you're no longer referred to as ma'am. now, you're called hon.

you want coffee with that, hon? anything else, hon? 
have a nice day, hon.

sigh. maybe i should just stop asking for the senior discount.

01 November 2010

all saints day

november 1st is all saints day in my church, a day we are required to attend mass. and it was also my mother's birthday. now more than ever, i am comforted by the fact that she shared more than eighty birthdays with a day to honor saints.

in my childhood, there were a few years where i tried to go to church on my own birthday since that's what my mother always did. finally one year, i realized she most likely went for the holy day, not for her birthday. i remember feeling some childish disillusion at that realization.

tonight, i was weary from events of the day and looked forward to relaxing at home, so i thought i might skip mass. but in the end, i went, mostly for my mom. it was peaceful there with good messages and music. it was all saints' day. and after all, it was her birthday.

31 October 2010

all hallow's eve

a quiet, uneventful halloween with no trick-or-treaters, save one - a cute little bee with striped tights and pipe cleaner antennae. since it was the end of her halloween escapades, she stayed to warm up with a soup and bread dinner, as did her parents. pretty interesting to hear about halloween as seen through the eyes of a three year old.
not that i want to wish time away, but i'm glad to see october end tonight. october is so glorious and beautiful and special, but november is the time i look forward to all year. so good-bye, october. happy halloween, everyone.

30 October 2010

muted beauty

here's the last saturday in october - with autumn foliage long since past its peak color, but still dazzling in spots, especially against a cold, grey sky like this morning's.

26 October 2010

rising mist

just in time for halloween, spooky mist
rises over the river on the twilight ride home.

23 October 2010


must political signs be this big? do politicians think i can't see them littering the lanscape so they just made them larger? do they honestly think that, after weeks and weeks of looking at roadways lined for miles with standard size vote-for-me signs, i'll think about voting for the candidate whose sign is the most detracting from the natural environment, the biggest eyesore? with this election, i'm noticing more and more of these oversized signs. i'm not impressed and i'll sure be glad to see them gone. ten more days til the new england countryside reverts to natural.

that said, don't forget to vote on november 2nd - oh wait, how could you forget? the signs reminding you are everywhere!

22 October 2010

autumn chill

early morning was again frosty and cold, with ice on the windshield and snow(!) pellets on the roof. all through the day i watched from windows as flakes drifted from the sky and clouds careened overhead. but at leaving time, the sky had cleared, the sun shone brightly, and the air was biting cold with the feel of winter. back home, i put on a sweater and heated some cider to warm me. it was that kind of day...

19 October 2010

first frost

overnight, our first good frost, the kind that edges grasses and fallen leaves and makes the landscape look ethereal and sparkling white in the dim morning light. here, it covers the down of a grounded milkweed seed with thousands of drops of hoary crystals.

fall into the kitchen

what is it about fall that makes me so drastically alter the way i cook? here's the weekend's dinner, pot roast with carrots, that will be consumed several more times this week along with the garlic mashed potatoes not shown. and now this morning i am up early to put a roasting chicken in the crockpot. summer evenings were spent cooking on the fly, grilling lean meats and fish and concocting salads with vegetables from the garden. what is it about cooler weather that makes that change? certainly it's not a matter of time as i have more of that in the summer. is it just me??

and then there's baking - apple crisp, pumpkin bread, oatmeal raisin cookies... those never happen in the summer!

13 October 2010

the lump in my throat

from the first early morning rescue to tonight's thirty-third and final recovery, i've found myself today either blinking back tears or weeping outright, wide-eyed and silent. what amazing resilience on the parts of so many people - governments, rescue teams, families, and especially miners. very thankful tonight that the rescue efforts in chile were so wondrously successful.

11 October 2010

peak foliage

this is the color we wait for from early september on.
this is as good as it gets. and it's just breathtaking.

10 October 2010

the perfect ten

on 10-10-10, it's the perfect fall day in the perfect fall weekend. apple festivals and craft fairs, foliage and wood smoke, pumpkins from the garden, butternut squash soup and hearty breads for supper. a frost last night gives the morning air that crisp coldness that lingers on your cheeks even after you go back into the warmth of the kitchen. this vibrant time of year is when i'm most thankful to be exactly where i am right now.

07 October 2010

for the soul

there are moments when the sunshine and the north wind beckon, when the colors in the hills blind you to all that needs doing below, when you just need to be out and away from all that is worrisome or vexing or even mundane. so you go, leaving the work and the world behind - and don't even feel guilty about it.

04 October 2010

c is for comfort

for lots of reasons that seem much less important tonight, today was not my best day. and here is the homemade cookie (minus the bite) with which my friend nancy surprised me this afternoon. it was a small offering but it made me smile and feel better and was one of the nicest things that happened to me all day. it was the kind of simple gesture that makes me want to pay it forward.

02 October 2010

bah humbug 2010

today, october 2nd, the first day it's been chilly enough here to refer to the day as a typical fall one, i turn a corner in a large department store to view this: christmas 2010.

in a "normal" year, i notice holiday magazines have hit the newsstand by columbus day weekend. close to halloween, i typically hear the first too-early holiday music emanating from the tv in the living room as it plays in the background for a christmas promotion. but to have christmas this blatantly in my sight at the beginning of october is just wrong!

by my calculations, this display will be out for one-quarter of the year. at least they waited until i had a sweatshirt and socks on before they put it up.

29 September 2010

soooo close

tonight i went to a dinner meeting for a local association. at the end of the evening, there was a raffle for a brand new iPad. the winning number was 9768826! not only did i lose by one number, it was the final number. the winner - my tablemate and good friend eric, who works with iPad-using students for a living. where's the justice, i ask you?

on a related note, in another raffle i did win something, just yesterday. it's a $25 gift certificate for the home heating oil - but i burn wood and gas.

literally, i can't win.

26 September 2010

window walker

tonight crawling up my window, i find this tiny frog, suction-ish feet firmly planted on the slick glass. if it's flies he's looking for, he's come to the right place. there's even a spider web out there for the insects. he's a determined creature, and i watch as he climbs to the top of the window. why he doesn't backslide on such a slippery, vertical surface, i do not know.

22 September 2010

equinox 2010

other years i've missed it, this changing of the seasons. i've looked up from my work or i've sped around a corner and been jolted to see that fall has come on so quickly while i was busy with other things. but this year, i've noticed. i've watched color creep in a bit at a time, each day a little less green and a little more vibrant. i've felt the subtle change in air, the cool northern undertones of the breeze. i've seen the morning light slanting at a new angle as it filters in through windows. i'm watching it happen.

today autumn thinks it's here. but i can tell it's still coming.