Thursday, August 7, 2008

There will be a wine festival in New York City in October. My favorite stars from the Food Network will be there. I can’t attend this October—we’re invited to a wedding that weekend, BUT, I could get there! The addresses given for the festivities are familiar to me now. I could get there by train, then go by taxi or bus (I didn’t quite master the subway). The city was opened up to me by Carolyn—a New Yorker, a friend, a woman of the world, who came into our lives when she met my brother on a trip to Russia. Carolyn traveled extensively on assignments for “Modern Bride” and “Better Homes and Gardens” as well as other publications. And she knows New York City and how to get anywhere she needs to go. When I was in New York she not only showed me around, she showed me how to get around. We went by foot, taxi, bus, subway and boat. I learned what a “New York minute” was as we sped around from place to place and probably saw more in a week than I could have seen any other way. Carolyn was an amazing tour guide, showing me the big picture of Manhattan and surrounding areas by boat as well as intimate glimpses into local shops and independent movie theaters. In a little French restaurant I met her friend in whose art studio I stayed for the week. Rachel was Editor of Country Living magazine for many years—for its best years, actually. That was the magazine that inspired me for those same years—I still have many of those copies and they still inspire me. I get them back out for every Thanksgiving and every Christmas. I don’t buy the new ones. They’re not the same. While I was there, in Rachel’s studio, I had the lights of the Chrysler building shining in my window like a lit-up Christmas tree every night. It was a wonderful place to stay. I spent some time every morning just looking out that window across the city--I miss it. From there I could walk to a little park by the Hudson River or to Central Park and everything in between. I learned that New York City on an early Sunday morning can look like "the morning after" just like a person and that it quickly whips back into shape by Monday morning, as if nothing had ever happened. I'll always remember the flowers and fruits on every street corner and the buses and taxis that took turns blowing horns at each other. The Broadway show was wonderful and Indian food and the borscht were the best. I saw Bergdorf Goodman's, Tiffany's, Wall Street and I saw the statue in the Conservatory that was inspired by one of my favorite stories, "The Secret Garden." I saw where the World Trade Center used to stand and heard protesters shouting in front of the Chinese Embassy. I left, knowing movies of New York and stories in New York would now be familiar and that I had become a tiny bit of a New Yorker myself.
"Thank you, Carolyn” and “Thank you, Rachel” for a week I’ll always remember.

Monday, August 4, 2008

What I loved most about my recent trip to New York City was the discovery of neighborhoods! There was such a diversity of neighborhoods—all within an easy walk or bus ride. I wasn’t so much blown away by the skyscrapers and the fancy stores and glamour of the city as by the little Italian shop that had the best parmesan cheese and balsamic vinegar and the little rice pudding cafĂ© that had only rice pudding, but the creamiest, best, rice pudding I’ve ever had outside of home. Chinatown was like a little piece of another country and the fresh produce in the neighborhood groceries, especially Eli’s, was amazing. It’s rather fascinating to imagine going home every day with all those neighborhoods, rich and poor, ethnic and glitzy—skyscrapers and saltwater—all around. I’ve always lived in the country—it’s my home—it’s beautiful and my first choice for where to wake up in the morning, but while I’m sitting on my deck watching the leaves change over fields and mountain this fall and the snow drift in from the west this winter, I’ll think about all those people in all those neighborhoods up there in New York City.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Over The Rainbow

Do you know how those special family scenes in movies sometimes have a soft, afternoon light haze over them with stirring, beautiful music informing you that these are moments you will never forget? That was Laura’s wedding on Friday, June 20, just before sunset.

We were on an upper deck overlooking the Chesapeake Bay. The sun was low in the sky and the evening summer breeze was soft and warm, making the apple green, peach and lemon lanterns sway gently under the white lattice where Laura and Jake would soon promise to love and cherish forever. My two sons, in black tuxes with green orchids were tall and handsome as they escorted me in to an instrumental, “Piano Man.”I memorized each moment, wanting to keep it. Then the music changed to a Hawaiian version of “Somewhere, Over The Rainbow,” and little Madison, the flower girl, came, shyly and perfectly, down the aisle, hurrying a little when she was close to her destination, her grandparents, waiting in the front. Following her came seven bridesmaids in short apple green dresses, carrying yellow summer bouquets, faces beautiful and full of emotion of the moment. Then Laura, absolutely breathtaking, came in with her Dad to “How Deep Is Your Love.” The breeze, catching her veil and her hair made the moments even more deeply etched in memory. She looked young, happy and totally beautiful in her ivory, satin wedding dress, her long veil and gardenias in her wedding bouquet. With the background of the bay, the twinkling lights of cars over the bay bridge in the distance, the changing colors of the cloudy, evening sky in the west, and the air of a summer evening all around, the seven bridesmaids in green and the seven groomsmen in black with green orchids stood on each side of Laura and Jake while the minister reminded them and all of us of the importance of the vows that were soon to be said. Laura and Jake poured sand to symbolize the blending of their lives. They spoke to each other, they smiled and laughed to each other and made promises. Emotions flowed freely when a reading from Carson told them that, after this day, they would say to the world, “This is my husband, this is my wife.” And, at the end of the ceremony, the music played, “I’m Gonna Be,” as they came back down the aisle, beautiful, happy, and husband and wife.

The rest of the evening was a wonderful celebration of food, music and dancing. Laura traded her veil for a gardenia in her hair. Jake removed his jacket. The fragrance of lilies and gardenias scented the night. There were speeches, dedications, special dances, cake cutting and joy. As the sun set, guests walked down to the water with little stones to toss into the bay to make their wishes come true. The wedding day ended too soon, but the pictures are coming in and the memories are safe!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

"I like you because you're a nice person to like"

It's been a long while again since I've written my thoughts, but that doesn't mean I haven't been having any. It's 2 days until my daughter's wedding. The place is beautiful--on the water, the weather's beautiful--blue sky and white clouds, and she's beautiful, but I'm sort of panicking just a little. I have no reason to. Her fiancee is the right guy--part of the family, already, and we have no doubts about that. But, still, she's getting married. . .When I'm not being sentimental, I'm pretty excited. Their wedding website is and they have planned everything well. Our car is packed, the dresses are altered, I've lost 19 pounds, and it's time to go. --I'll have a lot more to say next time.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Finally Done

I finished knitting my fingerless gloves!! I have a page of comments on "lessons learned while knitting." This project reminded me over and over of the necessity of focus. If I tried to do anything else, like chat with a friend (!) I made a mistake. If I felt comfortable with my rhythm and started to knit mindlessly, I made a mistake. Sometimes, for no apparent reason, I made a mistake. I made more mistakes and started over more with these gloves than anything else I've ever knitted! Just when I thought I had finally finished the second glove, I laid it beside the first one and it was an inch longer than the first one! I had to unravel some of it again. But I like them. And the pattern is "Snow on Cedars!" I'm ready to start my next project--probably Estonian socks.

And I've lost 4 more pounds eating good food in small amounts and have finally begun my exercise program of adding weights and core exercises to my dancing.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


Another Easter arrived last weekend. We colored eggs, made spring foods and had our bouquets of pussy willows, Easter Lily and daffodils. I feel new energy and excitement, knowing the garden and potting shed will soon be humming again and the deck will replace the living room.

Ok--this "think yourself thin" business is working. I've lost 7 pounds. It has been mostly my mental shift that has allowed me to eat differently. I'm eating purposefully. I know the "superfoods" for health: deeply-colored fruits and vegetables, fish, turkey, beans, soy, oats, nuts, yogurt and tea. I keep those foods in the house. If I don't have them, I can't eat well. I find diet books and articles somewhat helpful and inspiring and I use them for recipe ideas, but I like exciting cookbooks better--the ones that contain small meals full of flavor. My breakfast today was 1 hard-boiled egg, half a slice of whole-grain bread, a chopped tomato and a small apple, cubed and rolled in a bit of walnut oil and ground walnuts. I actually couldn't finish the whole egg--it was all so satisfying. I'll have my daily smoothie later. It's usually made with some type of frozen fruit and skim milk. My favorite is frozen bananas, a spoon of Nutella and skim milk. However, a tropical fruit smoothie with cream of coconut added is pretty darn good!

My lunch will be "Tapas" style--small amounts of a variety of good foods that I have on hand. There is leftover pork that can be a small pork medallion with a bit of Asiago cheese over it, some baked sweet potato--I can glaze a couple chunks of that with some acacia honey and microwave it a couple minutes. On the side I think I'll add a marinated artichoke, a bit of sour-cream cucumber salad and a couple grape tomatoes drizzled with a bit of olive oil and fresh basil.

If I plan my meals with emphasis on small amounts and lots of flavor, I have the perfect combination. And I've already started running out to the herb garden this spring. The new chives are up, the parsley is producing its second-year crop and the thyme survived the winter well.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Birthday Reflections

Last week I had a birthday. I looked back at my goals of two years ago when I turned 60. I had said I would “dance” through my sixties. I wasn’t really sure what I meant. When I turned 60, I took a year off from work to clear my life of some clutter. I found my house and my mind were actually quite similar. Both were cluttered and tired and needed some revamping! During that year I organized, I gardened, I cleaned, I cooked, I walked, and I wrote. I started a cookbook, I visited my daughter in Baltimore, sailed, went to some great restaurants, strolled on an island beach--and I danced. I danced at the weddings of two of my children and I danced at home. I learned my greatest passions in life involve my senses. The fragrance of daffodils transports me to all the springs I have known and loved. Roses and honeysuckle are overwhelming in their fragrance and an armful of lilacs is almost more than I can stand. And there are lilies-of-the-valley, mock orange, . . . My family helped me plant a tiny lavender field so I will have plenty to scent the sheets on the linen shelves upstairs. I brush my hands over the lavender whenever I pass by.

My year off was filled with heady fragrance and culinary adventure. What is better than a kitchen stove with a ready pot, a counter of fresh vegetables, mushrooms, cheeses, and a bowl of straight-from-the-garden dill, parsley, rosemary and thyme with a good Wusthof knife and a cutting board? All of that is even more delightful if the blackberries are ripe and a pie crust has already been rolled out by best friends in the kitchen, with a dog or two waiting for a snack.
I discovered that I love clothes that feel good on my skin—soft cotton is my favorite. I like the feeling of earrings that are long enough that I can feel them dangling against my neck.

I rediscovered music. Sometimes I want beautiful, soft music so I can float along with it in my mind, sometimes I play music that is powerful, and sometimes I just play any music that makes me want to move. Dancing has become my exercise.

Over that year off, I learned what “dancing through my sixties” means to me. It means absorbing the fragrance, feeling the sun, the breeze, and the earrings, sharing the food, laughing at the humor, and treasuring the faces. It means responding with all my senses to any music I hear or want to hear, and eliminating all the clutter that makes me stumble.
In the movie, “Ratatouille,” the food critic says, “I don’t like food; I love it. If I don’t love it, I don’t swallow.”

Sunday, February 10, 2008

"When The Sun Rises, Wake With A Song"

Well, Laura, there’s this “pie of the month” thing. . . and when you peel a healthy avocado for your salad, what do you do with the other half?? It turns brown if you don’t eat it. . . and then your husband gets interested in the pie thing and he makes one that sits in front of you on the counter all day. How can you just have one piece of that?! And can’t we all just eat a lot and then hibernate for the winter? What happened to that idea??
I did walk outside today and prune the grape vine while the wind buffeted me all around. That felt like some kind of exercise. I think I’m lighter now.

I looked to my wise list of advice from a dog for something inspiring. One says “take naps,” but that doesn’t help. The next one says, “stretch before rising.” OK. I will get up 20 minutes sooner and start the day with Yoga to some beautiful music—stretching myself thin. It’s time to bring out the inspiring Yoga for Chickens and bask in its wisdom. My routine, just for this week, will be, “Gizzard Stretch, shoulder shrug, hippie chick, drumstick stretch, cat-cow, and flying bug/crawling bug.” All will be done before the Sun even rises. I'll face the day--a better chick.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Hahaha. What would I do without your support, Karen?? And your humor! I'm hurrying to get my new socks finished so I can share them here. I'm making wool socks even though I can't really wear wool. In fact, I think I'll go ahead and share them, even though they aren't finished yet. It was tricky trying to start the yarn at the right place to make the design fall the same way in the second sock as it did in the first. I didn't get it quite right. I can see now why mismatched socks have become popular. It would have been easier to let the second sock form whatever pattern it wanted to rather than trying to start with the same color at exactly the right place! I need a sock knitting class. Maybe I can get my second one finished during our next session of "Golden Girls" and knitting!

I keep hearing weight loss advice everywhere. It seems that dieting has been shown to "never work." Now we are advised to lose weight by forgetting about diets. Instead we should just watch what we eat, avoid sugar, watch portion sizes, write down everything we eat, when we eat it, why we ate it and how we felt after we ate it. TV says "this is not a diet--follow our guide and menus. . ." HOW IS THIS NOT DIETING??? Books say, "Think yourself thin!"

OK. There must be some sense in there somewhere. I'm going to lose weight by willing myself to do so with the power of positive thinking. I'll let you know how it goes. Seriously.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

New Year

"Faith is believing that one of two things will happen, she said, that there will be something solid to stand on, or you will be taught to fly."

I don't know who wrote that. It's on a magnet that I bought in Ocracoke, NC, last summer. It gives me the courage to live life the way I choose--not that it's been very daring so far. Still, I like it--in case I do decide to take some kind of leap someday. And I did try Caviar over Christmas!

I can't believe I haven't written since June. Too much has happened since then to catch up on, but it's been an awesome 6 months. We've had a second wedding that was beautiful in the mountains of WV. And we have another one coming this summer on the Bay. Christmas was awesome and New Year's Eve was lots of fun. After Christmas we hit some sales and I have almost a whole new wardrobe to inspire me to do the New Year thing again and get vibrant and healthy. I'm excited about my coming projects for January. I'm knitting socks, trying new recipes and making a "pie a month" with a friend. And I'm planning a wedding with my daughter. I'll be sharing some of my favorite things here.