30 December 2015

a little christmas

christmas has always been one of my favorite times of year, and this year's holiday was wonderful in so many respects. the time between thanksgiving and christmas did not pass as quickly as it had other years, and i had plenty of time to do what i wanted to do to celebrate and needed to do to be ready for the day. i volunteered at our local community center and school so i was around excited little kids - not to mention the excitement in my own family. the girl, the not-so-little-girl, and i got all dressed up one sunday night and went to a fancy restaurant for dinner, to one of those places with beautiful christmas displays. it's something i have wanted to do for many christmases and i am so glad we made that memory. i celebrated advent at church and loved the preparation for jesus' birth. christmas eve here was fun; christmas day at the girl's was wonderful.

but something just wasn't quite right this christmas and try as i might, i just cannot pinpoint it. i am chalking it up to the mild weather, the lack of snow, and the fact that it was a brown, almost green, christmas. it's the only thing i can think of.

29 December 2015

origami delight

one saturday this fall, i chanced to meet and be part of a conversation with a lovely and quiet man, probably a little older than me. what we talked about must have been pretty general and of little significance, because i can't remember the topics. what i do remember is the fact that he was actively interested in whatever it was we had to say. he asked questions, and was a very good listener.

before he left, he presented us each with an intricate origami dollar, crisply folded into a beautiful symmetrical object. mine was a heart, backed on a felt square and carefully packaged into a tiny sleeve. at the back of the package, a card with a greek proverb, a shiny sticker, and a tiny jeweled bauble. clearly, this man was intentional in his presentation.

we were so taken aback to receive such a lovely gift from a stranger. we tried to pay him, but he declined. we offered dollar bills so he could make more, and he told us it wasn't necessary. he wouldn't give us his name, only asked that we enjoy his small gift.

i stood the dollar heart on my desk here, and thought about the chance encounter for days. months later, i am still in awe of all that transpired. why would a stranger do such a thing? not only is he spending a great deal of time making these for people he doesn't know and likely will never see again, he's giving away his money a dollar at a time. obviously, his simple reward is in the delight and enjoyment of his recipients.

a few weeks ago, as i inserted my card into a gas pump a few towns away, i found something blocking the slot. i removed it, and was elated to find another origami dollar, packaged in the same manner, this one folded into a tiny shirt. my glee was apparent as i pocketed the treasure and pumped the gas, grinning like a fool. how lucky was i to encounter this man, not once, but twice? by the time i was finished, i knew how to repay this man. i returned the shirt dollar back to the gas pump slot in hopes that the next person would find in it as much delight and enjoyment as i had.

28 December 2015

autumn, odds & ends

it borders on embarrassing to be doing this - posting photos and writings from up to four months ago. but i've been feeling guilty about not writing, have been missing blogging, and thinking lots about how to get back into the swing of things. i've decided there is no gracious way to do it other than beg your forgiveness, thank you for your concern, and just jump right back in. so i'm playing "ketchup" again, and fashioning several posts of remembrances that i should have been here long ago... 

thanksgiving. it was lovely, meaningful, quiet. the not-so-little-girl was in charge of decor, so she painted dried oak leaves and personalized them with guests' names. an unseasonably warm day, and we opened windows to let out the heat from the turkey roasting. 
pumpkin pie, made from a pumpkin i roasted myself. it was burned, but delicious. and i'll never use canned pumpkin again. 

fruits and vegetables, ready to roast in the oven for squash soup

the festive kitchen chalkboard, with a turkey suggesting that we eat more chicken. 
snowdrops, coming up in the garden in december. worse than this, the girl's snowdrops actually flowered. it makes me wonder what they'll do in april, when they're supposed to appear. 
and look. here's the carrots from the garden. they were short and stumpy, but quite tasty. next year, i'm planting twice as many. 

finally, bernie sanders. i have seen him twice this fall. generally, i am pretty quiet with regard to politics, trying to be respectful of others' opinions. but this year, i just can't do it. 


in my defense, fall this year stretched for month after glorious month, with warm days and brilliant nights, and i was away from my desk and outside as much as was possible. in september and october, the foliage was blindingly beautiful. i spent so much time stopping and marvelling at the incredible show of color new england had this year, that i didn't take any photos, save the few you see here. i knew my skills could never do justice to the beauty i was seeing with my eyes, so i didn't even try. and, now that it's gone, i don't even think i'm sorry i did that.

the other thing: as much as i adore fall, i was dreading the thoughts that winter was coming next. last winter must have taken a toll on me, one who always loved the beauty of the season. it was just too cold, too snowy, and much too long. so when autumn continued into a bright and clear november, and then morphed into a balmy, dry december, i wanted to take advantage of every outdoor moment i could. i put on my blaze orange scarf and strolled into the woods during hunting season. i drove with the window down. i painted and stained and polyurethaned. i sat outside til dusk and read. i stood in the yard and gawked at the night sky. and i reveled in the fact that i could wear a denim jacket and sneakers instead of wool coats and boots.
as i write this, we are anticipating our first significant snowfall. our brown christmas is just over, january approaches, and it's okay for snow now, i think. i just hope it's not as much as last year. 

27 December 2015


this one deserves its own post, late or not. when friends go on trips, i ask them to bring me back a rock. here's one that a friend found for me. do you see the face?

mid to late summer

time at the beach was again a high point of my summer. weather was perfect, rental was fabulous, but being with family was the best. assorted brothers and sisters came and it was wonderful to spend time with them. after years of being together on a regular basis, i miss them now that our parents are gone, and i so look forward to this extended time with them every summer. also, the girl and the not-so-little-anymore-girl both were there for a few days. so much fun...such precious memories. 

here's july's blue moon rising over the atlantic. the not-so-little-girl thought it was pretty funny that it was a pink blue moon. 

i took lots of low light photos as i grappled with manual settings on my camera to try to graduate from shooting in automatic. sometimes it worked, sometimes not. 
the other summer highlight was a prolific vegetable garden, the first in many years. did I take any photos? no. just beach-y things this summer. although i think i might have a shot of harvested carrots around here somewhere...

21 July 2015


all i really wanted was a picture of this butterfly that hung around the garden for days, fluttering in and around this milkweed plant. but on the way to photograph it, i got sidetracked by some of the other flowers in the garden.
purple coneflower...
poppy (from helen!)...
and daylily, with ant. 

24 June 2015

22 June 2015

a birthday in june

this is my grandfather, my mother's father. as a small child, i believe he was my favorite person. he talked to me and he made me laugh. he took me to church, and on trolley rides to boston and ferry trips to nantasket. he called me on the phone and showed me off to my great-aunts and uncles. he spoiled me with banana splits. when i was learning to drive, he gave me his old green two-toned ford. when i needed furniture after college, he gave me his maple bedroom set and didn't mind that i painted it navy and lime. on the day of my wedding, when i went to the hospital to see him, he cried because he was too sick and feeble to come and watch me get married. i adored my grandfather - he was huge influence in my life. although he's been gone now for most of my life, i still think of him quite often and silently thank him for making me feel so loved. he'll always hold an important place in my heart.

the little girl was born eight years ago this month, on the day of my grandfather's birth. i wish they could have met. he brought so much joy to my young life, and she brings so much to these waning years. i love that the two of them are connected in this very small, very special way.


yesterday the girl and her family were here for a visit. at one point, they went for a quick walk, and the little girl came back with exciting news of newts. they counted thirty-one, she said, but there were at least a hundred. her dad accidently stepped on one and felt bad. they were all over one side of the road but not the other. they were everywhere!

after they left, after the table was cleared and the leftovers were put away, after the dishes were washed and the floor was swept, i took a walk down the stretch of road she described. i was disappointed, but not surprised, to see only three newts. tiny and new, they were wandering the road long after their ninety-seven brothers and sisters had dispersed. up the hill and into the woods they went, all while i, of course, was doing more important things than investigating the wonders of spring.

19 June 2015

june moon

this evening, the moon set in the west shortly after the sun. in my eagerness to photograph it, i went off about an hour too early and was disappointed to find it still very light. but i took a lot of shots anyway and cropped the ones of the moon. this is my best shot of the evening. i think i can see a crater!

09 June 2015

guest photographer

Over the weekend, the little girl took off up in the back for a woodland walk. before she left, i handed her my point-and-shoot camera and told her to take photos of interesting things she saw. and she did!

bunchberry. i've never seen this here. she identified it back at the house using one of my field guides. i was pretty impressed with both the photo and the research skills. 
a camouflaged toad. can you see it? i couldn't, until she pointed it out to me. 
 new growth on hemlock. she thought it was beautiful and soft. 
bark on a tree. not sure what was so appealing about this one, but she really liked it and was proud of it, so here it is. 
finally, claw marks on a tree - from a bear, she tells me!!

07 June 2015

june garden

what's blooming in june?
morning glories
inherited irises - they came with the house!
lupine - purple and pink
flight-of-the-butterfly iris
chive blossoms
and this new plant, given to me from her garden by an acquaintance. she doesn't know what it is and neither do i. but i'm watching and documenting and i'll figure it out!

26 May 2015


since i've semi-retired, one thing i'm just not doing enough of is keeping up with new books. it's odd, i know, but it's true, and it bothers me a lot. so when folks started talking about the girl on the train and what a thriller it was, i thought- i must read it. since i didn't want to wait for it at the library, and because i didn't want to lose my resolve, i downloaded it to my kindle and began to read straight away. and, from the get-go, i did not like it - at all. i'd read rave reviews - so i kept on reading. friends gushed about it - so i kept on reading. i finished it friday night. and i hated it. yes, i did.

today at the library, i saw the print version at the desk, so i thumbed through it. inside, characters i didn't know, scenarios i didn't recognize, whole paragraphs i didn't recall. how could this have happened? did i fall asleep and miss large chunks of the story? am i really that poor a reader?

i went to the kindle app on my phone to check. and the cover (which i never look at on ebooks) was very different. so was the author's name. slowly it dawned on me - i read the wrong book

in hindsight, it's no wonder. just look at how many there are!  what am i reading now? station eleven...i think. 

24 May 2015

in the garden

for days, i've been here, in the garden. weeding, dividing, transplanting, planning. new growth is always so green and lush and promising, and volunteer plants so surprising. this is my favorite time to be in the garden, before anything even begins to bloom. 

21 May 2015

what's this?

this tree's been in my backyard for half my life, yet i have never seen it like this. it's all leafed out, but it has what i can only imagine to be tree "flowers" hanging from the branches. a strange and unusual sight out the back window, that i mostly just want to document here.

20 May 2015

purple lilac

since they began to bloom last weekend, i have taken at least a zillion photos of purple lilacs. i am hoping to capture just the right shot, and submit it to the state's lilac photo contest. i entered a few years ago with an adorable shot of the little girl wearing a red sox cap with a lilac pressed right up to her nose. maybe it was too cute - it didn't win. so this time i'm trying for a conventional shot. so far, no luck. i have only a few more days to shoot, then the florets will begin to turn brown and eventually shrivel up - along with my chances of winning.

15 May 2015