30 January 2014


winters like this one, i need to look for all the joy i can find. i just stood in the window for too long, watching the bright morning sun glint and shine through this icicle. by the time i got a decent shot, the sun had shifted. but i'm posting it anyway!

happy that january is almost behind us and hoping that groundhog day is good and cloudy!

28 January 2014

robin in winter

this little creature has been around my windows for weeks, eating the crabapples and the holly berries in the yard (and in the window boxes and door baskets!). but how can a robin be this fat in the dead of winter? or is he just all feathers and fluff?

24 January 2014

full circle

when i was a child, my father's mother lived close by and i'd often walk to her house. food was important there and she was always cooking and baking. she'd feed me ginger ale floats with vanilla ice cream and tell me that i'd remember her when she was gone because of them. i do have a lot of food-related memories of her - she taught me how to measure shortening by putting water in a measuring cup and then adding the crisco. she always let me sift the flour and mix with the egg beater. i make her gingersnaps at christmastime.

as i worked in my own kitchen this afternoon, a forgotten memory came spilling back to me. in my grandmother's refrigerator there was always a partially eaten cold chicken, leftovers sitting on a
flowered plate in the middle of a silvery gelatinous pool of congealed juices. i remember thinking it was one of the most disgusting foods i'd ever laid eyes on. i couldn't bear to touch the quivering jellied mass or eat the slimy chicken. it was just too gross. yet here i was today, the grandmother myself, shredding leftover cold chicken and scraping that same goo from one of my own plates to add to the stock to make soup for my granddaughter's dinner. i've come full circle!

22 January 2014

deep freeze

so much for the january thaw. we are back in startlingly cold weather once more. i fill the wood stove several times a day and still wear fleece and scarves in the house. i bury myself under the covers at night and wake up with a cold nose. i even bought long underwear! i'm about to throw caution to the wind - and money out the window - and just turn the heat up to 75°. if anyone catches me complaining about the heat this summer, remind me of days like this one!

it seems all i do in winter is write about the weather. but in extended periods of cold like this one, it's a big part of what goes on around here. it occurs to me, though, that i never seem to remember from one year to the next exactly how cold it's really going to get. and would i leave this area because of it? nah.

15 January 2014

january thaw

after so much ice and rain, finally...a perfect winter morning. sunshine, blue sky, temperatures pushing 40°F. icicles drip. puddles expand. a window by my desk is wide open for a few minutes only. and i am working as fast as i can so i can get out and enjoy the day, this hiatus in our cold and snowy weather.

07 January 2014

winter herbs

early in the morning, as the coffee brews, i begin a job i look forward to each january: i carefully lift bunches of summer herbs down from the beam in my kitchen where they've been hanging for months and i prepare to store them for winter use. i am intentionally late in doing this. it's an experience i need now, in the blustery cold of winter, more than in the calm warmth of october when the herbs are likely more fresh.

peppermint, orange mint, my favorite spearmint, thyme. i strip woody stems of their crinkled leaves which i gently crush in my biggest bowl. soon the kitchen smells like july as i funnel and bottle and label. i pile the stems to save for an aromatic start to a fire. flakes fall into my coffee, giving it a hint of mint some folks pay for. the scent will linger into mid-morning as i go about my other work. and i'll wait just as long as i can to wash away those sweet summer oils from my fingertips.

06 January 2014

a fine new year

happy 2014 to you! i remember watching and reading science fiction that referenced years like this as being in the far distant future - and here it is - and we are in it!

despite my best efforts, it's been a slow start to the new year. christmas came down on new years day. extra holiday food was minimal because i didn't bake much. i skipped after-christmas sales because i don't need anything. but our weather has been dreadful and that's impacted my new year's momentum. we've had snowstorms and ice storms and bitter cold. scarf-in-the-house cold. fingerless glove cold. socks-in-bed cold. but the cold has made for beautiful nightscapes. one sub-zero midnight i got up to find the moonless sky bright with a zillion stars.  i sat in the window wrapped up in a quilt watching and waiting for an aurora. but, as much as i wanted to, it was just too frigid to get up, get dressed, and go out with the tripod to try to photograph anything.

but there has been enough snow just recently to bank the base of this old house in a tight heavy blanket of white; it makes a big difference in the comfort level here. i am thankful for that warmth and for so much more in this fine new year.