Now, where did I leave that?

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Some Weeks Never End

Like this one....they just drag on and on......Last Saturday we visited the very small and cozy Chancellor's Sheep and Wool Showcase at Clermont.  It was a glorious day, and Clermont, on the banks of the Hudson, was dressed in her finest lilac and green.  I watched a group of womyn at their wheels overlooking the water, overheard one say, "when else do you get the chance to sit and spin by the river?" and had to agree; it seemed to be almost the quintessential spinning experience.  I say 'almost' because  Country Wool does ocean-side spinning (and knitting) retreats in Cape Ann, and that, to me, sounds absolutely perfect.  Anyway, the weather was gorgeous, the few sheep were fleecy and adorable.
We passed acres and acres of apple trees in full and glorious bloom:
Returned home and abandoned all thoughts of yard work, instead dragging out chaises and lounging lazily on the porch for a couple of hours, Linda napping, me reading, the cats drowsing all around us.  Is it any wonder that a work week following such bucolic bliss would stretch as endlessly as silly putty?

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Kind of Day the Poets Write About

Today was the kind of weather day that almost makes mowing a privilege and a blessing (hey, I said ALMOST).  I have vacation time that needs to be used up soon, so I came home at noon and headed outside.  Alot of the property can be done with a riding mower, provided one is okay with steep inclines and very heavy motorized machinery (thank you, Linda), but there are areas that are either too steep entirely, or too narrow for maneuverability. So we use a walking mower there, and this time of year I actually enjoy doing it, for the first hour or so anyway. My  favorite place to mow is the grape arbor, which is about 15-20 feet long, running down the slope. At the 'top', we can see the mountains--which were stunningly clear today, admire the joyful white flowers in the strawberry bed, catch whiffs of lilac--or at least, imagine how sweet the air will be in a few more days when the blossoms are fully opened (some former owner loved lilacs; we have at least a dozen very large, old lilacs in purples and white scattered about), pause to consider the metaphors inspired by the still-blushing grape vines as they reach for each other, leaning in as if to whisper their heart's desire to a beloved. At the 'bottom' of the arbor, we can see the blueberry bushes making magnanimous promises, echinaceas & yarrows spreading lush foliage so fast we can almost see it growing, stonecrop glowing like sunlight as it dangles over the edge of the raised bed, and the vegetable beds we built last year waiting impatiently to produce all that lush abundance  last year's bad weather pre-empted.
But all good things come to an end, or at least, the pause button gets pushed.  The glory of the day has been cloaked by twilight, the fruit trees are swaddled against the frost forecasted for the wee hours, and the moon is high in the sky, lighting the way for true nightfall to arrive.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Of Time & Space & Friendship

"It's great to be talking again!"....thus began a recent email from a friend who has had less time to email, being swamped with work (makes me feel like a total slacker, although I do make up for that in September and January!) after being tucked away in a Greek mountain village during a mostly-no-internet Spring break. This friend--Helen--made a somewhat miraculous reappearance in my life last Summer after over a decade of no communication; when last we had 'spoken' it was through handwritten letters before we'd ever heard of a thing called 'email'. A move, a lost address, and in the blink of an eye it seemed that the thread between us--a pale blue thread the color of whisper-thin airmail envelopes stamped 'par avion'--had broken; there was no gentle fraying, just a snap and two dangling ends. Once Al Gore invented the internet (okay, I joke about Mr. Gore, but that's because he broke my heart by not showing up to truly run for election in 2000...) and we mere mortals became entangled in the world wide web, I searched for my long lost friend, and even emailed someone with the same name once with great hope, but alas, it wasn't to be. And then one day I checked a mostly-defunct email address and saw her name in my inbox! Turns out she had been trying to track me down, a task made more difficult by my first-name change a decade ago that she never knew about, but bless her heart, she kept trying. What a joy it's been reconnecting the thread, now the gossamer web of cyberspace. And how different it all is now....we 'talk' to each other several times a week, sometimes even several times a day!--no more weeks or even months of daily mailbox checks waiting for that blue envelope, watching for that (even still) familiar handwriting. We get to peek into each other's lives now with luxurious immediacy as photos magically appear in our inboxes. Images of her beautiful daughter (in whose face I can see more than traces of the girl I knew when we were that age some 35+ years ago, before Helen returned to her home in Greece) and the gorgeous sunset in my backyard fly through space and time, instantly reuniting us.

I refuse to believe that the printed word is fading before our eyes, that soon the whisper of turning pages will be replaced by the silent touching of a Kindle screen. Those decades of letter exchanges were a pleasure, reading page after page detailing a life, thoughts, wishes, dreams, hopes; putting pen to sometimes elegant stationary and other times to frayed notebook paper, was satisfying and cathartic. Every letter strengthened the fabric that was first woven in a seventh grade classroom, so I miss--just a little bit--that tangible connection. But I also love the instant gratification of connecting this way, of sharing thoughts and events as they happen, communicating in almost-real time, even if our present-time has a seven hour difference. I love that we can laugh at the same things, discuss the weekend or the volcanic ash cloud or the health care bill that just passed or Linda's latest project or Helen's daughter's school assignment while it's all still fresh and current. And I rejoice at the magic that has allowed two friends to reweave their friendship of more than three decades.

Monday, April 19, 2010


Saturday evening graced us with a fleeting but dramatic interplay of cloud and sun I just had to share:

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


By the way, although I've not mentioned my paramour of late, the romance is still going strong. We still steal moments together, immerse ourselves in only each other for hours at a time, and--with Linda's gracious acceptance--spend a precious hour or two together most evenings. I'm delighted with the latest knitting project, but alas, can't share any photos because it will be under the tree next December, and I don't want to ruin any surprises. I'm afraid this will be the case for quite some time, as I'm planning numerous hand-knit gifts. Rumor has it that by the end of the month I just might have a spinning wheel to rent, and I'm trying so hard to be patient. I confess though that I've neglected my spindle even though I have some lush rambouillet to practice with. The knitting is so soothing (especially because I'm working with a simple pattern, a farrow rib) that it's what I reach for first, despite the guilt involved in ignoring the spinning. I'm really looking forward to two upcoming classes at Country Wool: session 1 of Beast to Beret, and Percentage Knitting. The former comes one week before the Sheep and Wool Festival in Massachusetts, so will prepare me for buying bags of fleece!

This past weekend we visited two architectural salvage stores, Historic Albany Foundation's Architectural Parts Warehouse, and Habitat for Humanity's Restore. We scored instantly with a sweet, spindle-decorated gem that, even with the added cost of paint and rescreening, came in at about half of what a similar door would have cost new. She's a sweet thing--you can catch a glimpse of her, paint drying, in front of the flowering quince.

It's been a valiant effort getting this straight door to hang and close properly on our anything-but-straight doorframe, but we're getting there (we meaning mostly Linda!). Sunday was a glorious day for mowing and such; Linda worked on prepping the landscape where the bees will be living, and took a couple of other photos for me:

We call her 'the Lady'; she bears a resemblance to Kuan Yin but isn't actually a goddess, although her serenity blesses our yard.

And as mentioned in an earlier post, the sweet cherry is blooming!  Of course, the last few nights we've had to create a makeshift shelter to protect her from freezing.  It's worth the effort to wrap her and the apple trees when anticipating sweet fruit later this year.

A sad update...all that wrapping with blankets and contractor bags doesn't seem to be working; the flowers are browning and falling off.  And on an unrelated note, I just discovered that a mole or vole or some rodent creature has burrowed and furrowed its way through the strawberry bed! Mots caught one on Sunday, but we didn't think too much of it; we attributed the bizarre holes in the yard to serious water/erosion issues...but the strawberries are in a raised bed, and these are clearly freshly dug holes. 

Monday, April 12, 2010

Thought for the Day

Heading out early to attend a trade show all day, but wanted to post something to sum up the weekend: an up-close and personal shot of the flowering quince in the yard. We almost cut her down a year ago, but last night, eating dinner on the porch and admiring her finery, we agreed we were glad we'd let her be....

Monday, April 5, 2010

It's the Little Things

Sometimes love can be measured--as if it needs to be--by the smallest, most mundane arriving home to discover that my beloved had installed the screen door out front.  Okay, delight over a screen door may seem odd, but I've wanted one for three years.  I'm a big fan of open windows and doors, but would prefer to keep Zamboni in (except when we purposely let her out in back where there's a fence) and bugs out.  Yesterday we finally bought one and Linda painted it, but I had no idea I'd arrive home today to find it installed and waiting to serve.  I did a happy dance right there on the walkway!  And I don't know why because I hate loud noises, but I like the sound it makes as it slaps shut....if I had kids in and out and had to hear it every five minutes, maybe not so much, but in some weird and twisted way it's a Spring sound, a happy sound.  So...thank you, Linda.

Let the Sun Shine In

We had a framed poster in the entry hall when we were was a tan background with a red round splotch intended to be the sun, and the words 'Let the Sun Shine In' splashed on it.  It occurs to me that it was truly an incongruous art choice for my parents, who certainly did not welcome in the Age of Aquarius or the hippie sentiment evoked by the words.  Maybe they thought it was a weather statement....

Anyway, how awesome was this weekend???? The sunshine, warmth and fresh breezes lured us outside for our 2010 inaugural breakfast on the porch Saturday. We plotted and planned over coffee and yogurt, fending off cats convinced we must have something worth sharing (I offered a taste of coffee to Mots, who was unimpressed and appeared to be rather offended), periodically interrupting ourselves to play 'name that bird call' as woodpeckers and titmice, cardinals, chickadees, nuthatches and phoebes enjoyed some backyard speed-dating. Work felt like pleasure as we built a simple two foot fence around the raised veggie beds to keep the aforementioned felines out of them. The weather was incentive enough to keep right on going, and when we settled down to our first grilled dinner of the season and surveyed our queendom, the iced ginger beer felt especially well-earned. The 'lady' is once again keeping serene watch now that Linda has stabilized her. The trellis and fences have been cleared of morning glory and hyacinth bean remains, forgotten bags of mulch have been reassigned, the Winter-abandoned wheelbarrow--last seen as a forlorn, half-buried splash of red in the snow--was pressed into service once more and now stands ready and waiting for the next workday. The trees, shrubs and perennials have all been assessed to see what survived Winter, and there was a bit of pruning here and there. Alas, we've lost five baby fruit trees, but we just might see some cherries and--dare I say it?--a few apples this year, and just maybe the Reliance grapes will join the Concords we savored last Fall. Ferny yarrows and masses of strawberries are already coming back green and strong, and echinaceas with magical names like Harvest Moon, Twilight and Ruby Star all have new growth just beginning to reach above the soil. The Coppertinas are covered in coppery green leaf buds, and the blueberry bushes are clearly enthusiastic about this season. The flowering quince can barely contain herself; she's dripping with pink buds shamelessly aching to burst open to the sun's caress. And isn't that what Spring is all about?