30 November 2011

a little surprise

when I was a kid, my father used to travel a lot. when he returned home, he always had small surprises in his suitcase. what I remember most was hotel soap - those tiny lovely bars of ivory and camay, smelling perfumey even through the wrappers. using them in the bath, the bars always lathered so richly and fit so easily in little girl hands.

when she was small, i continued this same tradition for the girl. but i'm thinking about tweaking it a bit for the little girl.

29 November 2011


i am away at a professional conference for three days. i know other attendees go to workshops all day, then party all night. i just can't do that. by the end of the day, my brain is fried. there's so much i don't know, it's just overwhelming. btw, one of the things i don't know how to do is mobile blog. so i'm trying it now!

25 November 2011

guest photographer

imagine my horror at realizing, too late last night, that i had taken not even one picture of the thanksgiving festivities! me, who documents everything! but i laughed when i found this just now on the camera:  the little girl snapped this picture of the traditional fruit bowl soon after she was finished assembling it. our thankgiving tableau. note lowly worm, taking it all in from his perch high atop the centerpiece.

24 November 2011


dinner is over, dishes are done, kitchen is dark, and turkey stock simmers on the back of the wood stove. i sit with the last of the holiday wine and heart full of gratitude, so thankful for all i have. i hope it is the same for you.

23 November 2011

snow for thanksgiving

not just a snowstorm, but a day off from work - and spent doing thanksgiving preparations with the little girl. blessings abound!

21 November 2011

t-day prep

i start in august, i really do. all the cleaning and organizing needs to be done by thanksgiving, so that i can enjoy all the things i love about this holiday. i try to plan ahead, even bake ahead, but i am never quite where i want to be this, the week of thanksgiving. curtains hang in the windows, covering them, waiting for me to hang new hooks to pull them back. windows are washed inside and out - but not the bedroom ones. i have a cabinet yet to paint and then fill with the contents of the old cabinet, which are piled haphazardly in, of all places, the guest room. to add to the stress, i am in week four of a six week online course.

in the end, all i can do is laugh, pin back the curtains with twine, close the bedroom doors, and get my homework done. i'm so excited that thanksgiving's coming.

18 November 2011

week end

leave work as color in the western sky fades. opposite, where the sun had risen, now shines venus, brightly splendid in a tangle of black branches and jagged limbs. the air is cold in my nostrils. my fingers grow numb as i take this shot. my heart is light knowing i'll see the little girl tonight. tgif.

13 November 2011

november 12 of 12: shades of brown

fall's blinding colors have been gone for weeks now. except for the flat green of pines and hemlock, the rest of the november landscape goes to a profusion of browns. time was when i thought it so drab but now i see there's something quiet and calming and restful about this color in all its glorious shades.

by november, the wood is in. oak, maple, birch, beech. it's sat for a year to dry out and is seasoned now and ready to burn. it sits stacked outside the door, a wall of brown, ready to be called upon to take the fall chill off and keep this old house warm well into the winter.

the forest floor is covered in browns, nature's november carpet, stretching far, far into the woods, just as far as the eye can see.

after they fall, most leaves dry up and their edges curl into themselves. not so with oaks. their umber leaves hang on to their branches longer and, when they finally do fall, they are broad and flat against the ground, a ragged piece of brown paper, blowing along end over end in the wind. 

beech leaves have turned a uniform, muted brown but will not fall. they stay on the tree for much of the winter making a dry chattering sound when the winds blow fierce and the snowflakes whirl.

so many pods are dry and opening in november, dropping seeds that will settle into the earth with the hopes of rebirth in the spring. these are the bean pods remaining on the poles after the little girl collected a basketful to split open. she has the purple mottled seeds packed away in their round cardboard box for replanting in the spring, just as she has done for most of the novembers of her life. 

the once vibrant morning glory plants are now spent. i should unwind them from their trellis. but i love seeing the way the brown weaves in and around itself and how the pods are plump with seed. i'll leave them for the winter, hoping that they not only add interest to the snowy landscape in february, but that they also may reseed themselves in the spring. i can hope, can't i?

weeds are lovely and so interesting this time of year. i have no idea what this is but it represents so many common plants that line the roadsides and the edges of the woods. hundreds of tiny brown seeds ready to burst forth airborne when they catch the winds.

and here's another...

look at these maple pods. you can see that the double pod has split, leaving the seeds on either side ready to root themselves firmly in the grass where they will no doubt be run down by the lawnmower in may. good thing there are hundreds of these winged pods on the ground, everywhere.

once a gorgeous blue, the hydrangea are now lifeless brown on the bush. but look at the intricacies in the  oval petals now that the color is not there to blind the observer.

i'm not sure these are pods. i wonder if they may be seeds or even spores. i know they're from a fern that grows in the woods around here. i gather bunches of these in november and scatter arrangements in places where i can admire the stoic shiny brown all winter long.

finally, so many special fall drinks are brown. apple cider. pumpkin spice coffee. hot chocolate. cocoa chai. warm soothing drinks to sip by the fire and chase away the november chill. 


11 November 2011


thanks dad. 
and rick and mark and billy & tommy and both larrys and mike and bruce and john and austin's mom. 
and so, so many others. 

09 November 2011

this old table

early november brings the ritual of readying the kitchen table for the holidays and for the winter season beyond. it gets a good cleaning, then a few deep coats of lemon oil. some dark scratch cover is a futile attempt at making the surface uniform in color. and when the job is finished, this table is still in awful shape.

forty years ago, the oval table was bought brand new in an intentionally distressed condition. new pine, but beaten and gouged to simulate age and wear. the thinking then was that we wanted folks to be comfortable sitting at it, feel at home, and not worry about bangs or dents or coffee rings.

now all these years later, its finish is old and worn, the wood beneath barely protected. i know it's dried out. i know it needs refinishing. but the mars and dings, the scrapes and gouges all represent the activity that's gone on at this table. the holiday dinners and saturday suppers, the candyland and gin rummy games, the homework and the coursework, the cookie decorating and the quilt-making and the letter writing. almost every person i have ever loved has sat at this table. my mother's signature has been here, and the backwards letters of the girl's early attempts at writing. the square patch where the little girl stuck on tape and lifted the dark color. the small stain from spilled wine. the table's finish, or lack of it, speaks to its history and i cannot bear to sand it away. so every fall i clean and oil and cover the year's scratches with stain stick. i strategically place the runner over the matchbox truck scrape. and i ready the table for another season of celebration.

06 November 2011

look to the woods

here's another of november's amazing features: you can see clear into the woods. leaves in spring and summer on shorter trees and bushes block the view. winter snow mounds and shifts with the wind. but in november, the leaves have fallen to the forest floor, they uniformly carpet it, and you can see places you've never noticed before. the horizon shows clear across your view. you can see trickling  streams and wide rivers. crumbled foundations and meandering rock walls. and, if you're lucky, you can see animals.

this is not the best of photos. it was taken at twilight, right after i watched a deer leap across the road and saunter into the forest. i watched him 'til he disappeared.

02 November 2011

frosted oaks

this is what november should be. cold crisp mornings. days warm enough for jackets only. clear calm starlit nights. now if the snow would only melt away...just for a few more weeks...