Wednesday, October 15, 2014

One Indispensable Day in October

One Indispensable Day in October

  Although I prattle on about each season as though it’s my favourite, it’s no secret that autumn holds my heart tight within its bright orange glow.  When that first chill pierces the morning air and the light becomes clearer than an artist’s eye, I feel a unique joy.  So as I sat trying to think of all the delicious puzzle parts that make up the autumnal season I found it impossible to jettison even one.  Fall without scarves or shawls, turtlenecks or Dubarry boots?  Unthinkable.  To take away firesides or flannel shirts, tartan blankets or Halloween?  Never.  Losing pumpkins or cinnamon, scarlet leaves or apple pies?  Oh my goodness, no.  I doubt I could even loosen my grasp on Mario Badescu’s Bee Pollen Cream, my secret weapon for the pinkly chapped cheeks that come after brisk walks with Edward.  But the truth is, the part of autumn I would find utterly indispensable is none of these things, delightful as they are.  You see, I couldn’t imagine autumn without one special day in October.  It is a day celebrated in my family as faithfully as Christmas, and with as much gladness.

The Songwriter and I were best friends all through my teenage years.  We were the type of friends who would call each other after our dates with other people to commiserate with one another about how dreadful they’d been.  We went practically everywhere together, laughing all the way.  Then one afternoon in October, we drove up into the mountains for a picnic by a lake.  We came home engaged to be married and have never looked back.  So, every October, when that particular date rolls around, we go back to the same secluded lake in the woods - to remember, to celebrate, in gratitude and love.

We’ve never missed a year.  We’ve returned on sunny days and stormy ones.  On days when the leaves wore colours more brilliant than butterflies and on days when the heat of summer lingered and kept them clad in green.  We have come during years of bounty and during years of loss.  We have come when we didn’t really have time to do so.   Edward and Apple go with us now, eager to follow the well-worn path that winds through the thicket surrounding the lake.  A family holiday just for us.

Last Saturday afternoon, I visited an elderly friend who’d been feeling poorly.  She happily told me all about her grand-daughter’s new marriage and, as she related their plans for the upcoming holiday season she said, “It makes me so happy to see that this new couple understands the importance of traditions.”.  My mind went immediately to our day in October and I had to agree with my friend.  Traditions are touchstones, occasions set aside to mark the passing of time even as we revel in all the present joys.  Our lives spin so fast; it is vital to keep our eyes on the still places so we don’t lose our balance, lose our way.  Traditions are the still places.  Our day in October is a tradition.   

Oh yes, I know it sounds sappy.  Who celebrates the day they became engaged, for goodness sakes?  Isn’t the wedding anniversary enough?    But I couldn’t imagine autumn without this most personal, most celebratory, day.   After all these years, The Songwriter is still my favourite person; we still laugh every day.  I am grateful. So yes, this is the one part of autumn I could never relinquish.

Once again, I'm tickled to take part in Splenderosa's monthly topic.
Always such fun to see what everyone writes.
See more HERE.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Wilmont and My Passport

Wilmont and my Passport

He had shown me parts of Shetland I would never have seen otherwise:  hidden coves where corpulent harbor seals lounged on grey rocks, blinking their black round eyes at me as I sat watching them with my chin resting on my knees…. secret seasides where the tide came in white with hundreds of swans… a strip of wide sandy beach where waves crashed on either side as I walked its length with the sound of a wild wind in my ears.  Now as he pointed towards the horizon he looked grave as he said, “Weather’s changing.  It’s gonna get bad.”.  

Tom was our tour guide, a life long Shetlander, wealthy in his knowledge of the islands, but as I squinted in the bright sunlight to follow his gaze all I saw were a few thin clouds, misty and grey, gathered together far out in the sea. They certainly seemed innocuous enough. “But… “, I said, noticing he had already left to head back down the hill.  I followed behind him at a clip.

I had not originally planned to come to the Shetland Islands.  But when a friend and fellow knitter wrote to tell me she’d booked a trip to Shetland Wool Week I found it impossible to resist.  After all, I was already in Scotland.  So The Songwriter flew home to Edward and Apple on the date we had planned, and I made my way up to Aberdeen to meet my friend.  We boarded the fourteen hour (Fourteen!) ferry to Shetland, landing early on a rainy Saturday morning, picking up a car and heading north where we took another ferry to the island of Whalsay. There we spent seven hours under the delightful tutelage of two Shetland ladies, learning the intricate techniques of fair isle knitting.  

We took a wonderful tour of the island on the day before we left, returning back to our inn with Tom’s dire weather prediction bouncing round our heads.  Sure enough, we received an email that evening from the ferry company informing us that the ship was sailing two hours early in an attempt to avoid what was coming.  “Really?”, I said, as I stuck my head out our picture window, breathing in the air of a clear, starlit night.  

The next morning dawned drizzly and cold.  We visited a couple of museums and wool shops and whenever shopkeepers heard we were leaving that afternoon, expressions fell and darkened.  “Oh, you’re in for a rough one.”, they said with concern. “Take your seasickness medicine every hour on the hour and don’t even try to sit up.” 

The feeling of foreboding was heavy in the little ferry terminal as we left.  The few passengers there were shuffled down the walkway as a stiff wind blew the rain sideways into the foggy windows.  I swallowed hard.  Once in our cabin, I stretched out on my bed, clutching Wilmont, our stuffed monkey who accompanies us on every long journey, grateful I’d decided to keep him with me instead of sending him home with The Songwriter, and I waited.  

The moment the huge ship released its grip on the dock, it started.  Violently swaying and tipping, we made our way out into the wilds of the North Sea, feeling farther than ever from home.  Two hours later I was holding onto the sides of my bed as it pitched backwards and forwards and side to side when I heard… “Due to the expected adverse weather conditions, the restaurant will close in one hour.  Passengers are requested to stay inside their cabins.  Thank you.”   
OH Lord, I thought.  It’s going to get worse.

And dear reader, worse it did get.  Items sailed off tables, doors flew open.  Occasionally there would be a sound so deafening and a jolt so violent it seemed we’d obviously run headlong into something of monstrous proportions.  The cabin would then creak and moan as though threatening to break apart completely.  Without great effort, I could see myself quite clearly, alone as I bobbed up and down in the dark North Sea, clutching the two items I felt I would need most:  Wilmont and my passport.  

Either I passed out or fell into a frightful sleep, for I woke up at four in the morning and everything was still.  Wondering for a second or two if I was indeed, dead, I peered out the window, saw a tall building and, as it possessed nothing of a heavenly quality, decided I must still reside in the land of the living.  Slowly I stood up, opened our cabin door and ventured out into the eerily silent ship.  Padding upstairs, I found the crew sitting in the bar, sipping coffee and watching the weather on their computers.  “Excuse me, “ I said in a weak voice that sounded nothing like my own.  “Where exactly are we?”

“We’re in Aberdeen”, came the proud reply.  “Made it here two hours early like we hoped.  Beat the worst of it.”

With great diplomacy, I chose not to comment on this last statement, but just said, “Thank God.  I don’t ever want to be on the sea again.”

The room filled with laughter and one man said…”Ay, what you mean, lass?  People'd pay good money at a fun fair for a ride light that ‘un.”

I left as soon as the doors were opened, 
Wilmont in one hand, my passport in the other.

Wilmont, at Holyrood Castle, Edinburgh Scotland
October 2014

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Scottish Highlands

Still in the Scottish Highlands.
More Adventures Coming.
Be Back Soon With Tales to Tell

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Celebrating Fall.... A Special List

Celebrating Fall.... a Special List

It was a day peculiar to this piece of the planet,
when larks rose on long thin strings of singing
and the air shifted with the shimmer of actual angels.
Greenness entered the body. The grasses
shivered with presences, and sunlight
stayed like a halo on hair and heather and hills.
Walking into town, I saw, in a radiant raincoat,
the woman from the fish-shop. 'What a day it is!'
cried I, like a sunstruck madman.
And what did she have to say for it?
Her brow grew bleak, her ancestors raged in their graves
as she spoke with their ancient misery:
'We'll pay for it, we'll pay for it, we'll pay for it!'
by Alastair Reid

The photograph and poem above might give you a clue where The Songwriter and I are.  
Needless to say, I am in my favorite land at present. 
 More later.
For now…. here’s a few treats for an early fall.  

1.  Outlander Knitting
For those people who have always questioned my tendency to head to Scotland whenever I go on holiday... (“What about Italy??  Wouldn’t you prefer a more tropical clime?”)... I have only to point to the new television production of the book, Outlander.  An endless stream of scenes from the Scottish Highlands, romantic and achingly atmospheric, I dare anyone not to be seduced by their beauty.  As I lover of Scotland, I haven’t missed an episode.  But there is another reason I have become a devoted viewer.  And yes, I am well aware of the remarkable handsomeness of the show’s male lead, but he is only a distraction to the real temptation of this eye-catching show.  I am talking here about the knitting.  Shawls and scarves, sweaters and capes - enough to make a knitter positively swoon.  Just take a gander at the fabulous cowl worn by the show’s star  in the photo above.  Sigh.
The knitting community is nothing if not resourceful and new patterns for these Outlander creations flood the internet after the airing of each new episode.
See HERE.  And HERE.  And HERE’S the cowl that I made.

And of course, here’s my favourite model in two of my latest finished projects.
 I am wearing these in the Highlands right now!
(I tried to make him smile, but he took this modeling job very seriously.)

2.  The Bartering System
As someone who loves to bake but is reluctant to partake of every concoction in its entirety lest I become rounder than tall, I have recently entered into the most satisfying deal ever.  One of my favourite neighbours raises not only three adorable children, but a mini herd of mini goats, a rabbit, two cats, and a flock of designer chickens that seem hand-painted by angels; I see designs for rooms and sweaters in their feathers each time I visit.  Well, here’s the thing.  Even with a family of five, my friend was gathering far more eggs than she could use each and every week.  So.  We have joined together in an old-fashioned arrangement known through the ages as the bartering system.  I bake something fabulous for her family, and in return receive a large basket full of fresh eggs.  All colours, all sizes, as befitting a flock of feathered individuals rather than a bunch of poor systemized, programmed, industrialized fowl.  These eggs have transformed my breakfast into a tasty treat I look forward to every morning.  Plus, I get to wave my wooden spoons over desserts both delicious and ambitious.  A win-win for everyone!  Highly recommended if you have the right neighbours.  That’s the adorable middle child, Dahlia, pictured above. 

 3.  Kitchen Tiles
I think it started with the kitchen so prominently featured in the 2003 film, Something’s Gotta Give.  A somewhat beachy kitchen, with white cabinets, white subway tiles, black countertops and dark wooden floors.  Almost instantaneously it seemed, that kitchen was absolutely everywhere.  It’s undeniably beautiful, but so sadly ubiquitous now.  With each new copy it seems more and more unoriginal and bland; it could be anyone’s kitchen.  I don’t know about you, but I am longing for colour and individuality in design these days.  Even wild eccentricity, if it accurately represents the personality of the owner.  To that end.... these tiles by Welbeck have me entranced.  The whole line sends sparks through my mind.  Can’t you just imagine the kitchen these could inspire?
It would definitely require an Aga.
Find them HERE.

4.  Dog TeePees
Edward loves to hop up in our bedroom windowseat to view the back garden at his leisure, and to nap. Apple has a special spot in the family room just behind a painted monkey book stand and just over a floor vent for the air-conditioner.  Both of them can also occasionally be found snoozing together underneath the piano, a hiding place  where they are guaranteed privacy as well as an excellent view of the front door.  Every dog loves a special spot to call his on.  Which brings me to the photo above.
Find it HERE.

5.  Two New Books for Fall
With fashion weeks in New York and London just past, 
 two books sound like so much fun.
I’ll Drink to That 
by Betty Halbreich
If you happened to see the delightful little bonbon of a film, Scatter My Ashes at Berdorf’s, you’ll easily remember Betty Halbreich.  She stole the movie away from everyone else, including personalities as gilded as Lagerfeld and Armani.  A personal shopper at Berdorf-Goodman department store for years, Betty has stories to tell, all with a snooty, imperious tone than somehow manages to charm rather than repel.   She’s now written a book that’s sure to be an entertaining romp of a read.  
Find it HERE.
and here’s a bit of Betty from the film.....

Vivienne Westwood
by Vivienne Westwood and Ian Kelly
One of the most original and iconoclastic designers writes her autobiography.
This one has to be a good time.
Find it HERE.
6. Artistry and Kindness
I’m not particularly sure how I came to be so fortunate, but I’m convinced I have the best readers in the entire world.  Whenever I hear about the horrors of the internet, I don’t say much, for my experience through this blog has been nothing short of lovely.  Case in point:  the charming Tish Jett of the blog Femme d'Un Certain Age … posted a photograph of Edward and me a few weeks ago along with the words, “somebody should paint this!”.  A few days later, I received a letter from the gorgeous artist, Helen Tilston, who informed me she had done precisely that.  Whilst on holiday in Ireland, she placed her easel beside the sea  and painted the image of Edward and me.  It arrived this week, along with two special pebbles from the very same Irish shore on which the painting was created.  What can I say to such generosity?  A mere Thank You seems quite anemic to me.  Needless to say, I shall treasure this forever.
Visit Helen and see more of her work, HERE

Helen painting Edward by the sea in Ireland.
Love this!
And before I go,
 a bit of Outlander for you to enjoy....

I'll be in touch soon! xoxox,

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Sharing.... Sort Of

Sharing, Sort Of

A buttery golden pound cake always sat under a cut glass dome on the kitchen counter of my Great-Aunt Susie.  No visitor was too insignificant to be offered a slice of this delectable concoction and no visitor would ever dream of refusing such an offer, for Aunt Susie’s culinary skills were legend.  Her pièce de résistance was her Burnt Caramel Cake, a towering wonderment that was known to make grown men swoon as easily as it turned their wives positively green with the sort of domestic envy reserved for those shirt-waisted, pearl-draped housewives of a bygone era.  It was the icing.  Deep, rich, and tawny as the king’s honey, it was impossible for any woman in town to recreate, no matter how diligently they tried.

Now, Aunt Susie was a formidable woman, something even I, the little golden-haired grand-niece on whom she showered unabashed affection, could easily see.  She was not a woman to be crossed, pushed, or pressed.  Deservedly proud of her cooking, she preferred to be thought of as unique in those abilities and kept her recipes as secret as the spells of a sorceress.  The few women who had been so foolish as to request her recipe for that Burnt Caramel Cake only did so once.

So, frustrated by years of unsuccessful attempts to recreate that caramel cake, the women of Aunt Susie’s church hatched a plan. They decided to publish a cookbook.  My Aunt could not possibly resist the lure of publication, in hardback no less.  Her name placed forever in print as the creator of such a magnificent cake would surely appeal to her pride, her altruism (for the cookbook would raise needed funds for the church, after all), as well as her sense of legacy and veneration as it would be handed down in her family, generation after admiring generation.  To their surprise and immense delight, my Aunt agreed to include her much coveted Burnt Caramel Cake recipe in the book and the ladies of the church could hardly wait for the date of publication.

I have that cookbook in my kitchen now.  And yes, there on page 40 is my Aunt’s famed Burnt Caramel Cake.  She has provided a detailed recipe for the cake, which is a basic yellow cake the sort of which most amateur bakers would have easily mastered in grade school.  But at the close of the recipe, she has simply written :  Frost with Burnt Caramel Icing.  No instructions, no ingredient list, no special secrets revealed.

I would like to say that this tradition of culinary secrecy ended with my Aunt, but I laugh to myself now as I remember my Mother sneaking out of church down the back stairs one Sunday morning, determined to avoid a lady who’d requested the recipe for her Christmas Fudge.  I use that fudge recipe still, every festive season, a family privilege reserved for those of MacDonald blood, but I feel the ice cold stares of the matriarchal wing of my family whenever anyone asks for the recipe.  “I’ll just make you some”, I usually reply, unwilling to disturb those formidable women gone on before.  I have toyed with the idea of finally sharing these recipes by engraving them on my tombstone, thereby ending the secretiveness once and for all even as I ensure that my grave will be visited for years to come.

Above painting by P. J. Crook

I am once again honored to have been included in By Invitation Only, 
 the brainchild of Marsha Harris, creator of the beautiful blog, Splenderosa.  
You can find all the other essays on this month's topic of Sharing, HERE.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

I Credit My Father

I Credit My Father

As punctual as daybreak, as constant as the tides, it is a memory that returns to me every single time I walk along a lonely beach at twilight.  The wonderfully reliable recollection floods my senses and I find that, once again, it takes no effort to see myself as I once was -  a little girl, holding the hand of my father, trying without success to match his stride in the sand as we strolled along in the light of a setting seaside sun.  We would stand with our eyes on the dark stripe of horizon as the sea stole the sand away beneath our bare feet, grain by grain, as though in an hourglass, causing us to sidestep to firmer footing every minute or so.  The wind would whip and whisper. And my Father would tell me stories.

“Look”, he’d say.  “Way out there.  As far as you can see, and then a bit more.  Can you see it?”

“See what?”, I’d ask, my little eyes squinting as they stared at that mysterious place where sea becomes sky.

“Oh, there’s so much to see”, he’d reply.  “There are creatures, way down in the water, creatures taller than buildings, creatures that can fill up the sky.  Monsters and heroes, angels and witches, good things and bad things.”

“Dogs?”, I would ask, hopefully.

“Maybe, “ came the reply.

And I would stare and stare, my eyes stinging, with my little heart throbbing halfway in hope and halfway in fear.   And just the night took over the day, I would squeal....”I think I can see it, Daddy!  I see someone walking out over the sea!  Someone really big!  Can you see him??”

“Of course I can, Squirt.  You bet I can.”

Sometimes at night when Edward lays quietly beside me as I read before bed, I catch him looking up at me, his big brown eyes a mirror of his devoted soul, and I’m almost certain he’s getting ready to speak.  There is a part of me that would not be at all surprised.  I watch the crowds in airports, wondering which of these people might be in disguise.  Which ones are angels?  Who is here from a different time?    I think the owls speak in a lyrical language I have yet to learn.  I think there just might be those around me I cannot see, busying themselves in work of which I know nothing.  I don’t have to talk myself into this way of seeing the world; it is as much as part of me as breathing.  And of course, I credit my Father.

My imagination was awakened on those seaside walks when I was little.  My Father told me stories that erased a flat and monochrome world forever, stories that sparked and crackled as they opened door after door in the halls of my mind, doors that, once opened, can never be closed.  When I weary of a world too often as insipid as it is cruel, it is to these rooms that I flee, finding comfort in the colour inside them - the light, the knowledge, the joy.

A couple of weeks ago, I stood again by the sea in the blue black light of approaching darkness.  My Father has been gone from this world seven years now, but just as he taught me all those years ago, I watched the horizon - staring hard, eyes stinging - in anticipation, hope, and a little bit of fear.  And just as the stars began to prick through the blue velvet sky, I could see him.  Walking along the ribbon of night - as tall as a giant, as solid as a rainbow.

“Do you see him, Daddy?
“You bet I do, honey.  You bet I do.”

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Goodbye to Summer

Goodbye to Summer

In May the letters sat there, enervated and mute, awaiting our attention.  We scooped them, gathered them up one by one, like bouquets of perfect dahlias, arranging them carefully into the seasonal words we’ve loved for so long, words all the more evocative for the brevity they conveyed.  Honeysuckle.  Jasmine.  Watermelon.  Seaside. 
They are the words reserved for summer, and we anticipate the delight they bring us each year.

This summer, however, other hands were rummaging in the mountains of letters, seizing them in angry fistfuls, creating dark words that threatened to blot out the ones that we love.   Hateful words such as Ebola and ISIS.  Ferguson.  War. These rang in our ears with a leaden tone, bringing sorrow and fear with each reverberation.

In the past several weeks, I have stood at the edge of my country with my toes in the sand, looking far out to the Atlantic from the shores of both our northernmost east coast state and our southernmost.  On a white-washed afternoon in Maine, I stood on a shoreline dotted with lilac-coloured oyster shells and azure sea glass staring out past the ivory sails of tall schooners to the horizon beyond, knowing that, if only my eyes were magically stronger, I could watch as these same waters lapped up on the coastlines of France.  The same feeling came to me on the evening I walked along an empty Florida island beach as a setting sun turned the sky into a prismatic spectacle that was an utter privilege to behold.  As a salty wind whipped round me, I stopped to consider the darkening line betwixt sea and sky and wondered about the African eyes possibly staring back at me from across those very same seas.

It is clearer that ever to me that the world, once thought of as so vast and unknowable, is now so small and vitally interconnected.  Living in the city to which the two American Ebola victims were brought, and successfully treated, only served to illustrate how intertwined we all are.  Years ago, news of the horrors occurring in countries oceans away came to us weeks after the fact, if at all.  These days we know of them as they are happening.  The modern globe is a tiny one; we must accept.

September First has always seemed much more like New Year’s Day to me than the January one that bears the title.  So today I am waving goodbye to this summer that was with the  hope that, as I gather up fresh new letters to fashion the words for the season I love most - words such as Mittens and Firesides, Jack-o-Lanterns and Snow - I will find letters enough to spell out words for a new year's fresh start; words more eternal, more redemptive; words that remain unquestionable and true.
Justice and Peace. 
  And Love.

Take a deep breath.
A new season beckons us all.

 Islesboro, Maine

Thursday, August 21, 2014

I Must.... I Simply Must..

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by;
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking, 

I must go down to the seas again for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying, 
And the flung spray and the brown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life, 
To the gulls’s way and the whale’s way where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover, 
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.
by John Masefield

As you can see from the photo above, 
I am off this week, feeding my soul.
I shall return with merry yarns, soon.

Monday, August 11, 2014

The White Feather

The White Feather

If the afternoon had not been so hot, with a sun so relentless, then perhaps I would not have chosen the hat with the widest brim.   I might even have gone hatless, preferring instead to let the wind blow my hair as I took in the expansive green vistas of an early August day.  Maybe I would have been looking up. 
Up through the trees to the blue sky beyond.
 Up where the mockingbirds chase the red-shouldered hawks away from their nests.
 Up where the  clouds draw grand pictures at the gates of  heaven.   
I would have been studying those pictures perhaps, trying to decide what they were -
 A castle? A dragon?  
Spinning wheel?  
But I wore the wide-brimmed hat to hide from the sun and my view winnowed down to the earth at my feet.  
Focused, sharpened, my eyes wrapped around the smaller things:
 the acorns, the pebbles - blue violets, green moss.  
And then, there it was,
 pinned to the ground by a shaft of sunlight falling hard through the trees,
 white as bone, light as the air. 
A feather.
I bent to pick it up.
Stronger than it looked at first sight, each tiny white strand clasped together along the quill, like hands.
 So sadly grounded, still ready for flight.  
Too small for a wren, a robin, or thrush.
Had it dropped from the wing of a gull, or an owl?
Or perhaps from my guardian angel, in an effort to prove that she’s there.

Now it sits in a vase on my desk.
I run my fingers down the ruffled edge at least once a day.
Not to remind myself of flight that has ended, 
but flight that has yet to be.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Votes For Edward

Garden and Gun magazine is having a dog photo contest, 
and Edward has entered!
Help him show the world that a rescue dog can be a winner!
Vote for him HERE and tell your friends!
(PS.... you can vote once every 24 hours!)

Edward thanks you so much!

Heads up.... the contest has now ended.
Edward thanks you all heartily for your votes!
Fingers crossed!!

The wonderful author of Forever Chic, Tish Jett,
has written a delightful piece on dogs and
has generously featured Edward,
who now feels like he's already won.
Visit her HERE.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Bits of Summer Afternoons

Bits of Summer Afternoons

When it comes to my writing, discipline is a garment I’ve rarely worn, preferring instead to rely on the less weightier components of creativity:  inspiration and caprice.    But I’ve been trying discipline on this summer and have found it to be, to my surprise, much less scratchy and uncomfortable than I’d originally thought.  My muse, forever flighty and untamed, has proven jealous of my new flirtation with discipline and has chosen to land on my shoulders whenever I give myself over to this sturdy friend, which has been both productive and delightful.  So I’ve spent a lot of this summer inside my own head which, as they share my reluctance to enthusiastically embrace the weather in July, has been just fine with Edward and Apple.  They have been happy to doze at my feet for hour on end, taking breaks occasionally to cut figure eights through the garden lest the chipmunks and squirrels take advantage in their absence. 

One cannot ignore a summer afternoon every day, however.  So we have ventured out on occasion and have found magical sights in every corner.  I thought I’d share a few of these with you.  So here’s a bit of our summer afternoons so far. 
We hope you are enjoying your days as much as we are.

Taking a Break to Sit in the Clover...

Surprise in a Garden....

A Blessedly Cool Day at the Beach...
A Huge Topiary Apple.....

and the Real Girl at the Seaside.

A New Addition to the Sidewalk Garden...

Giuseppe Arcimboldo Jumps Off the Canvas and Lands in a Garden...

The Fluffy Furry Summer Fellow...

Friday, July 25, 2014

Time Thieves

Time Thieves

Those of us fortunate to be children in the sixties saw a lot of changes happen on our watch.  I still remember the first day girls were allowed to wear trousers to school.  I, of course, remained clad in a dress but eagerly watched out of the school bus window as we pulled up that inaugural morning to see which of us was to be the first one to boldly step across the sartorial threshold.  There stood Kathryn, the only girl in a pair of trousers, looking both proudly rebellious and extraordinary comfortable as she maintained her status as class iconoclast with enormous dignity and flair.  Times had changed.  

We saw a  man walk on the moon.  Well, I fell asleep on the sofa before those first historic steps, but “collectively” we saw a man walk on the moon.  We’ve watched as computers took over the world, ever shrinking in physical size even as their domination of the culture grew.  There are no record stores anymore.  No more waiting for our holiday photos to be developed.  No more running from store to store: we can order everything, from underwear to Bartlett Pears, online.  

All this technology makes our lives easier, right?  A to do list can be knocked out in short order, right?  So what do I do with this amazing gift of additional hours afforded me by electronic progress?  I waste time on the internet.  Great grey masses of minutes - enormous, air-filled hours.  I fall down the rabbit hole at Pinterest and get hopelessly lost in a world of dreamy pictures, knitting patterns, and recipes.  Or I wander over to Twitter and find articles I’ve missed, following the links to read them all.  There are the new photos of Prince George to see and new videos to watch.  (I’m still in love with this one.) I check the weather in Lerwick; discover a funny picture of Prince Charles. 
And then, Lord help me, I find the quizzes.

Now I’m not thrilled to admit this, but I’m a total sucker for quizzes and questionnaires.  The Proust one is my favourite part of every Vanity Fair magazine.  I answer each question and compare my answers with everyone from Maureen O’Hara to Tom Jones.   I mean, how great is it that Catherine Denueve answered the question, “What do you dislike most about your appearance” by saying, “My left ear”?

Unfortunately for me, there is an alarming number of these little time thieves scuttling across my screen these days.   Purely for fun and hardly scientific, they are hard to resist all the same.  I blame Downton Abbey.  “Which Downton Abbey character are you?”  That was the first one I saw and of course, I  just had to participate.  Actually, there were several of these little tests on Downton Abbey and I took every one, finding out at the close of each that I was, indeed, the Dowager Countess.  No lovely Lady Mary, no stalwart Mrs. Hughes.  No, I was the Countess, always the Countess. 
I spoke to  several friends who all said, “Oh, yeah.  I can see that”.

This was so revealing that I began to take more and more of these little personality tests. So far I’ve learned that my spirit animal is an Owl and the colour of my aura is blue.  I will, apparently, be reincarnated as a dove and my mental age is twenty-five.  (Really??)
Which Shakespearean character am I?  Ariel. 
Which Wizard of Oz character am I?  Glinda.
And though, with her long legs and impeccable style, I was hoping to get the Duchess of Cambridge when I took the “Which Member of the Royal Family Are You” quiz, I was instead informed that I am, in fact,  The Queen. 
 I am now seriously afraid a pattern is emerging.

At this moment, I should be making coconut cupcakes for book club.  I should be scheduling a couple of train trips and finishing Chapter Eight.  There are linen shirts that need ironing and a shawl I am determined to finish knitting before a big journey in the fall.  Some birthday presents to wrap.  Dinner to plan.  And finishing Chapter Eight!  
But wait! 
 I need to find out which Dr. Seuss character I am before I do anything else!  

See?  It is a funny picture!

(and oh, by the way,  I am The Cat in the Hat!)