Sunday, November 30, 2008

One night in Hudson

We did the usual Warren Avenue walk, Spotty Dog beer fest, Baba Louie's romantic organic pizza dinner (for three).

This time, though, we stayed for nighttime. Christmas decorations, and after-dark lights.

And a gallery opening; such beautiful I would take home and hang, and be happy to have in my house and my life, everyday. Maybe it's hard to make much of these paintings online. You have to see them in person. They are wonderful; complex and soothing at the same time.

I found this years-old post about the artist on a now-defunct blog, and I love the quote about how and why to buy art.

Then the long, windy road home to our little house, poised on the edge of December, already sparkling with little white lights.

More about that, tomorrow. Thanks for reading.

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Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Best wishes to you all; may we stay as grateful and appreciative all year long as we are today.

More tomorrow. Thanks for reading.

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Outside my window this morning

A long long time ago, when I was nursing (some baby or another) and was held hostage in front of the tv, I watched Oprah. I've got nothing against Oprah, it's just that we don't watch tv usually, and so I haven't seen her in a while.

But back then, she talked about this thing called the gratitude journal or somesuch, where she would keep a list of things that made her give thanks for life, or the world, or whatever, and review it at the end of each day to remind her of all the blessings she has.

She's pretty funny, actually, and one day she said she was feeling low, and looked out the window of her office and saw a squirrel eating a nut and thought "I better write that down; the way this day is going I might have to use the damn squirrel tonight."

I think about that often for some reason, and so I was tickled pink this morning when this little guy showed up in my window, and spent a good ten minutes there, checking out the bittersweet, sniffing the pumpkins, generally not bothered by me and my camera at all.

Fortunately, I've got lots and lots and lots of things to be grateful for tomorrow, and every day, other than that squirrel. But he was pretty cute, nonetheless. And a reminder to keep my eyes open to the beauty and goodness all around me.

More tomorrow. Thanks for reading.


Monday, November 24, 2008

Monday morning, Saturday night, and Thursday

Good morning. This is a hard post to write.

Not that anything momentous has occurred. It's just hard to write this morning because I'm exhausted. I am writing checks with my social schedule that my forty-one-year-old body can not cash.

But fortunately for me, I am not doing any major cooking this year for Thanksgiving. Come to think of it, I'm buying cheese for Thanksgiving. This I can handle.

Actually, I sort of miss the thrill of it all. Choosing the dishes, setting the table, baking ahead, cooking in the middle of the night.

So, for solidarity with my friends and family who are in the throes of meal prep this week, I'm going over to Whole Foods. I'm going to look in the faces of my fellow shoppers, and smile. I'm going to let someone else get the last bag of organic fresh cranberries. I'm not going to clear my throat at the poor soul standing smack dab in front of the chestnuts, wondering if they could possibly really be edible and what her sister-in-law says have to be on the menu at Thanksgiving. I am not going to judge the one who sneaks the pre-made gravy into the cart, because I. have. been. there. And frozen organic pie crusts are in aisle six.

If I see you there, I'll gladly wait in line at the deli counter for you, or go fetch a bag or two of Parker House rolls. Or better yet, a cup of tea.

Because I'm just bringing the cheese this year. And man am I tired.

Happy Holidays! Thanks for reading.

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Friday, November 21, 2008

Friday Happiness

Today I am:

Feeling at ease as the weekend stretches out before me.

Looking forward to Third Friday tonight, and bringing the girls to the grand opening of the hot dog shop in town.

Loving that in our town, this passes as a big event.

Admiring Tim's painting, both noun and verb.

Drawing encouragement for our January show* from this. Proud to know people demonstrating for this.

Anticipating the party we're going to Saturday night. You wouldn't guess it from looking at me most days, but I do love to put on lipstick and talk to grown-ups sometimes.

Savoring this morning just a minute or two longer. Then time to get going. The weekend is here!

Enjoy yours. Thanks for reading.

*Teaser # 2. More about this soon.

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

First snow est arrive!

No sun this morning, but the first snow fell. Not much snow, but for a three year old, enough to don snowsuit and boots, and run around in the backyard catching flakes on her tongue.
I was thinking about what event is looked forward to with as much anticipation and excitement by adults, and what (cynically) popped into my mind was the arrival of Beaujolais Nouveau. And, what do you know! Today is the third Thursday in November, and, thus, the very day on which that occurs each year. Last year the Georges Duboeuf was so cheap and tasty it became the house wine here until they ran out of it at the store.
Hard to believe I can even think about that right now, as we had a friend visit last night and got into a flock of wine. He was in town for the release party of his friend's new cd. You can listen to it here, and then go out and buy it. Why this woman is not a regular on WFUV is a mystery to me.
Well, at this point in the morning, the sun is out, the first snow is gone, and it's time for me to pick up that little girl at nursery school. She'll be disappointed, I fear. She was hoping to make a snowman this afternoon.
Her chance will come soon, I hope. Something to look forward to. Thanks for reading.

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

More boots

and why this isn't a food blog...*

I'm a pretty good cook. I'm not one to take a compliment well, and even less one to toot my own horn (and that's not a euphemism for anything)...but I'm a pretty good cook. This is born out of:

a) passion: I have wanted to be a pretty good cook since as long as I can remember, and I am, to an embarrassing degree, food-centric (aka, obsessed).

b) necessity: I, regularly, am solely responsible for feeding eight humans. Practice makes perfect. Necessity is the mother of invention. Etc...

But this is not a food blog (and by that, I mean, that I have heretofore not posted recipes, menus, what have you...) primarily because I can not seem to take a decent picture of the food I make. Something about the lighting in our kitchen, the several cameras I use, and my general ineptness at Photoshop, makes it impossible for me to take a decent food shot.

When you look at cookbooks these days, the photography, styling, and settings are so perfect and inviting and beautiful they take what could be merely a sideshow to the recipes, and turn it into a scene stealing artform. I aspire to this.

So, frankly, I've been embarrassed to talk much about food, because I don't have a decent picture to go with the text.

But I really like this picture of our shoes, left at the door after three of us came home.

So that's what I'll show you, for now. But trust me, we're eating beautifully over here.

More tomorrow. Thanks for reading.


* An homage to this blog-go read it and laugh.

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Monday, November 17, 2008

Boots, pear, stick, leaf falling

November is very different from October, and from December. It is it's own thing. Of course, it's got Thanksgiving, and we'll get to that. Lots of side dishes and table settings and wine glasses. Can never get enough of those. Turkeys and Turkey Trots, and family.
But I'm finding the waiting, the stillness, the anticipation, very nice. We are about to be. All sorts of things. All sorts of places, moods.
For now, we are here. November. Raking. Curling up. Wading through the daily routine. No special meals to be made, yet, except for every ordinary one, which is special just because. Nothing to be wrapped yet. Too soon to feel like we should be doing something else, getting ready.
I'm liking it. Hope you are taking a breath now, too. Thanks for reading.

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Sunday, November 16, 2008

Sunday morning

I've been pregnant three times {this is not an announcement of a fourth, so take your hand off your heart, Mom}, and each time, I swear I half expected to have the baby come out asking for coffee cake.

The first two pregnancies, I confess, were fueled by those cheap high-fructose containing Sarah Lee numbers, but both of those babies are healthy and smart, so go figure. I had wised up by the time I was pregnant with Anna, and would insist on some bakery-fresh version. Now, my ideal is my friend Liz's homebaked one from the Tate's cookbook.

But they also do a good job at a catering shop around here that the girls and I had breakfast at yesterday, and so I splurged and came home with a coffee cake. Which I promptly hid, in anticipation of Sunday morning- in my mind, the only legitimate time to have coffee cake. Particularly if you're not pregnant.

Imagine my horror, then, when my little one asked me this morning, "what's coffee cake?"

Thank goodness I had one on hand to show her.

I don't have one on hand anymore.

Sitting in the window seat with her, eating that cake, watching the wind pull the last of the leaves off the trees, was the perfect Sunday morning.

I hope Sunday is perfect for you,too. Thanks for reading.

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Saturday, November 15, 2008

The View

from eyebuzz. Second in a series.

My view, today. Thanks for reading.

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Friday, November 14, 2008

Friday Happiness :: Home Edition

I am off this morning to visit friends; a friend of mine, and of the little blue-eyed one, who most often is dragged on whatever errand or mission her parents and sisters deem important.

I am lighthearted when I read the excerpts from this favorite book, quoted on this wonderful blog.

I am anticipating receiving what will be my new kitchen curtains from Denmark.

I am loving the number of members of the household who can't keep their hands off our piano.

I can not wait to watch this movie tonight, whil'st the man is off playing poker. The girls will most likely be watching this. (Don't judge until you're alone with five pre-teens on a Friday night!)

I love how Portland, Oregon and Portland, Maine seem to be twin portals of artistic, creative goodness.

I am inspired by the spare, natural holiday decorations in this month's Country Home magazine; a refreshing change from the usual over-the-top kitch and whimsy that's put out there this time of year.
And it being Friday, I spent some of my morning sitting in the car, in the driveway, in tears, listening to the end of today's edition of StoryCorps on NPR.
Happy Friday. Thanks for reading.

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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Friends and Neighbors Quilt

A while back, on one of those (many) September days when the school district gave us a "bonus" day with the children, I panicked. Summer was over. The pool was closed. The beach was closed. The forecast called for rain. Help.

My friend Beth took mercy on me, and we "traded" kids. What that meant was that for a short time I baked cookies with one of her sons, and for hours on end she had my girls over for a quilting bee.

Beth has an amazing collection of fabric from which she let the kids design and cut squares, and then the task was left to her to sew it all together for us.

I came home one day last week to find the quilt put together and given to our house, an honor we gladly accept.

We're going to hang it in our dining room, as a most treasured work of art, and a reminder of the spirit in which it was made. Sharing days with friends and neighbors, and getting each other through the trials of life, big and small.
More tomorrow. Thanks for reading.

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The mighty brush, the mighty loaf

Tim has started painting again, in anticipation of a show we have in mind to open in the new year, around, let's say...January 20th. More about that later, though.

It makes me proud and happy to see Tim back at painting. He has a lot of creative energy, which he puts into drawing the cartoon, and gardening, and building things around the house. But watching him work through a painting is really magical, inspiring.

No more so though,than this:

We started baking bread again last night, encouraged by Beth's bread this weekend and by the ease of the recipe she used. Not that ease is a deal-breaker, when it comes to bread. I'd go through all sorts of hoops to get that perfect, crusty, chewy, tasty loaf.
But no need, apparently. This loaf was so...magical...that we started another one right away, for tonight (it takes 18 hours to rise). And so on, and so on.
A loaf a day. That's the plan.
Tim's trying to work out some equation for how much each loaf will cost-surely less than a dollar?-but honestly, who cares when it's this good?
All I know, is we're not playing The Man's game anymore, bread-wise.
More tomorrow. Thanks for reading.

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

On Being and Holidays

As I sit here deliberating what to write, four of the girls are out in the yard drinking warm cider and playing some game that involves the quilts from their beds, yoga mats, and the fallen leaves. They look happy-they're laughing and squealing, as girls will-and the sun is shining on them. For some reason none of them have socks or shoes on, which is baffling to me, sitting inside with slippers on and working through the second pot of tea.

I want to write about how much trouble I'm having living up to this handmade holidays pledge, this vow to not buy Made in China, and this need to work with very little money to make this Christmas what the girls all have come to expect. But I'm finding that writing about it sounds either preachy or whiny, and even worse, smug. And I feel none of those things.

So let me explain. I'm trying to do it differently this year for two reasons. One is financial. The other is much bigger.

The term living sustainably has become a catch-all for everything from recyclable building materials to organic farming to vintage clothes. But to me it means something else: that your life makes sense. That it works not just on paper, but holds together solidly in the living of it. That making one part of your life work doesn't come at the expense of another part.

And the other thing I'm aiming for now is to live with intent. What I mean by this is that I've thought about and really want to do what I do, have what I buy, eat what I put in my body and my kids bodies. Say what I mean to say. Spend time like it counts.

For me, all of this becomes more difficult around the holidays, because so many decisions are based on other peoples expectations and demands on our time that come from outside the home.
And also: The presents. The lights. The teachers gifts. The party clothes. The holiday cards. On and on.

The reality is, that while I would love to knit or craft all of my gifts for everyone, that is not going to happen. Not if we're also going to eat, wear clean clothes or sleep.

The reality is, that while my girls appreciate a scarf or a collage, they also need or want things that I can't possibly make for them.

Let's look at underwear, for instance. Yesterday I bought thirty five pairs of girls underwear, all made in China. I just don't see how I could avoid that. If organic cotton underwear handmade in the USA is available, I'm reasonably sure that I can not afford it-not for six girls, anyway. There were t-shirts for cheap, too, and those were made in Vietnam. Is that better? Is Guatemala treating their workers right? Aren't we losing jobs to India, too? Can I buy something from Thailand and still sleep at night?

But I digress. (And I may even be whining, right?)

I guess it's all about balance. About trying to slow down the spending and the buying. Trim the number of things we have to get to those we need to have, or want to keep. Make decisions about what you want to do and what has to be done. And follow through.

I'm hoping its going to be ok to not meet expectations. That maybe I'll find out they were all mine, anyway. That being present, instead of frenzied, will set up some new expectations, ones that are a pleasure to fulfill.

If nothing else, when it's all over, I want everyone to remember this as The Christmas Mommy Wasn't Uptight. If it means they can't have that and the fill-in-the-blank, then so be it.

More tomorrow-no, I mean less. Much much less tomorrow. I promise. Thanks for reading.


Monday, November 10, 2008

Only in New York

I don't get into "the city" much, even though it is only 28 miles and 35 minutes by train away. I did actually live there (for about eighteen months), and work there (for about thirteen years), but I do not consider myself a "New Yorker" (much to my mother's regret).

I didn't realize just how removed from it all I have become until I spent the day in on Saturday. I really did feel like a visitor, a tourist almost, and certainly felt wide-eyed and full of wonder.

I'm not too proud a blogger to tell you that I've been sitting here paralyzed for about an hour trying to decide which pictures to post. Also, I have some things on my mind I'd like to write about, which have nothing to do with any of these photos, so I've decided that I'm just going to post a whole bunch of them and I'll get back later once I've gathered my thoughts.

We did go to MoMA. Here's proof.

But that didn't really work out so well, as it was super-crowded, and it turns out that the Tweens Tour isn't so engrossing At some point not too far into it, one of them (mine) asked if we "could go to the Gap after?"

So we moved on rather quickly, not to shop(yet), but to EAT.

The tweens liked this, quite a bit. Here is their comments card: Nice butter.

Then, feeling a little buzzed from all of that...cheese...we decided to take a quick run down to ABC Carpet and Home. You can not imagine how much the tweens enjoyed that. Not kidding.

They were mostly agog at price tags. I felt I had found the museum for me. It's all as visually spectacular, and just as unattainable.

And then we saw this:

I suppose we can only call this "The Obama Chair."

Moving on from the six floors of fabulousness, to the Union Square Market in the rain, I went into a sort of produce-induced trance. Miles from any sort of farm, but it is truly gorgeous.

And I loved this: Oh! So that's where greener pastures lie...

I'm saving my favorite picture for tomorrow's post. It won't have anything to do with the text, but it's very pretty.
Are you still there? Thanks for looking. Thanks for reading.

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Friday, November 7, 2008

Friday Happiness

Glad today that the week is over, even if it was the best of all possible weeks, in one sense. Still, it was stressful, and the weather was (is) draggy, damp. I feel like things are rotting underfoot. We need some of last week's crispness again.

Lots of art this weekend:

The Joan Miro exhibit at MOMA, with my twelve year old, for a special family program aimed at "tweens" (what a silly word though, right?)

An opening reception up in Hudson at John Davis Gallery which I would love to go to. Sort of a busman's holiday, I suppose. Probably won't make it up there Saturday night, but it will make a great Sunday drive.

Hudson Crafts Collective show at Umami, in Croton-on-Hudson, on Sunday from 1-5.

Plus lots of eyebuzz work for Tim and me this weekend, going through artist submissions, setting the 2009 calendar of exhibits, designing & ordering cards and posters for the next couple of shows. Nice work, if you can get it.

Glad for a break from the weekday rush, for a chance to dwell on what just happened, to raise a glass or two in celebration, and gather my thoughts for the road ahead.

Happy Friday. Thanks for reading.


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Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Keeping track of the moon

Back when we had Labradors - first my Sam, and then our Sam- we were beholden to the routine of at least twice a day taking a walk. Of course the dogs would always get way more time running and sniffing and chasing...but at least twice a day, we would leash them up and take them out purposefully, to...well, you know.

Tim and I lived in a carriage house with the girls for two years, that we all across the board refer to as The Cottage. Our nightly walk was up to the road, and down a now defunct driveway of what once was a private school, which opened up into acres of empty land with huge old trees and little else.
There are a bunch of bignewhouses there, where we used to walk the dogs, where I once played and made-believe with my childhood friends. When we first moved to The Cottage, it was just as it was when I was young.
Every night Tim and I would walk up, walk over, and look skyward. Note what was going on with the moon. Kiss. And turn around and turn in.

I miss lots of things about having Labradors. I miss lots of things about The Cottage. But most of all, I miss keeping track of the moon.

In between dogs. Thanks for reading.

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And now, back to our regularly scheduled programming...

Inspiration is where you find it. If it happens to come from the cheese department, then so be it.
Onward and upward. Thanks for reading.

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Monday, November 3, 2008

We get to choose.

This or this. Whatever your choice, please remember to make it tomorrow.

See you on the other side. Thanks for reading.

Reading material

The stack of things waiting to be read is growing. The girls and I stopped into The Village Bookstore on Saturday to put out new gallery cards, and, as usual, did not leave empty handed. It is such a fine book shop. To go in there is like visiting with your kindest, most well read relatives.
On my reading list:
1) The book that I'm supposed to have read by Wednesday for book club, although I'm sure we will barely move past election coverage long enough to discuss the book, so that may buy me extra time. I'm really interested in this book but the last few weeks have not been so good for me, reading-wise.

2) The vintage copy of Franny & Zooey that my brother gave me this summer. (I've skimmed through and re-read a few sections, but want to go back and do it right.)

3) The new Julia Glass book, just out and had to be bought in hardcover, because I couldn't wait. Although, that said, I also don't want to start it, because then I will read it, and it will be over, and I will have to wait until she writes another one. I love her writing that much.

4) This new cookbook by Barbara Scott-Goodman which is so cozy, warm and beautiful it makes me look forward to the transition from fall to winter.

I am also in love with the new online issue of This Joy + Ride, for the inspiration and the mesmerizing photographs. I look at all four issues as a meditation on stillness and beauty. It makes me long to take better photographs, so I could capture even a slight sense of the perfection I see in nature.
Hoping to find a little stillness and beauty today. Thanks for reading.

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Sunday, November 2, 2008

Music in the air

The only thing that's knocked this out of my cd player lately has been this.

The former is someone I had never heard of until Bret included Skinny Love in a mix he gave me last summer. Then, once I got into (ok, obsessed by) Bon Iver, references to same started showing up everywhere, most notably (for me, anyway) on Swallowfield. I actually got chills, thinking that my favorite Maineartistmomblogger was listening to the same music as I was.

But these days we've been listening to the latter, Calexico, who will be at our own Tarrytown Music Hall on November 15. Tim and I will be listening both from inside eyebuzz on our cd player, and out on Kaldenberg Place, where the sounds of the Music Hall drift through the air and down the street to our little gallery.
It's pretty cool for us to witness the comings and goings of all the increasingly big-time artists who are playing the Music Hall. We don't get to actually go to any of those concerts, since, well, we're either home with our kids, or trying to lure ticket-holding-art-lovers into eyebuzz with wine and cheese. But we love that it's there, or, rather, Here. It's one of the things that makes Tarrytown not-your-runofthemill-suburban-cultural-wasteland.
That, and the galleries. Of course. Thanks for reading.
p.s. While I'm on the subject of music, here's a little autumnlovesongdedication to the man in the house. 'Cause it's my blog and I can do what I want.

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