Saturday, January 31, 2009

If you never leave your house,

and you don't watch t.v., don't get The Times delivered, and you've been replaying the same cd in the kitchen for weeks...
you're going to miss out on some information. Just a word to the wise.
John Updike, for anyone else who's had their head buried in the sand, died on Tuesday.
I remember the exact place and time in which I first read Couples.
I remember citing my having read Couples as evidence of my not being ignorant of the ways of the world. (JG Melon, 1991, Clare.)
I was really, very ignorant of the ways of the world.
I wish I could claim to be much better, now. But apparently, not.
I'm going to get The Times delivered. Really soon.
Two in one day...but I had to say something. Thanks for reading.

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The Poorly Bed

My birthday girl was knocked down for the count by the cold and flu season; no sleepover.

I know what you're all thinking, but I was really, very sad for her. And for her friends, who are so sweet, and called to say get well.

She has good friends. Just like her mama. You know who you are.
Thanks, friends. Thanks for reading.

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Friday, January 30, 2009

Friday Happiness :: Supabah* edition

This weekend will run the gamut from:

Aforementioned Friday night:: sleepover party for ten-year-old birthday girl and her friends.

Saturday morning:: pancake breakfast and subsequent collapsing into stupor after party ends.

Saturday afternoon:: nursery school torture sugar winterfest.

Saturday night::loving it up, whilst one post-winterfest three-year-old sleeps it off.

Sunday afternoon:: art opening for a local photographer and friend.

And then...

I need to mention, that one of the reasons I have married a man completely a-typical, sports-fan wise, is that (Oh. Hi Bri! Hi, Dad! Are you listening? Well, um...) I was raised amongst a breed of man (five of them) who could actually make an entire afternoon out of That's right.

I'm not even talking about the endless playing of golf, throwing of baseballs, bouncing of basketballs, running of miles, rehashing ad infinitum of every.stroke of every.hole of an entire round of golf. Sometimes two rounds.

I'm just talking about the watching. The eyes still fixated on the t.v. screen but empty glass raised toward sister watching. The food. The socks. The smells.

Not a lot of sister-love being paid when there's a game to be watched. I'm obviously scarred for life.

So, now. The husband who couldn' The husband, manly in every other way, who has to hmm and haw when the subject of "the game" gets brought up.

Except for the Super Bowl. And for one Sunday of the year, just like every other (apparently!) bitter year of my young life, I am a sports widow.

All of a sudden, I've got a beer-drinking, nacho-eating, glossy-eyed sports fan on my hands.

And you know what?

I'm right there to fill his glass.

But for the rest of us, we can watch this*. And then go knit, or something.

Enjoy your weekend. Thanks for reading.

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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Everyone has a story

I was trying to find a quote I'd read recently about how everyone feels sad, or scared, or lonely, or unsure at some time. Or maybe it was that you should be kind to people because we all have the same fears, we all feel low, now and then. Or that we are all (maybe, it's just most of us, though) trying our best, and that we should keep this in mind as we come across each other during the course of the day. The course of our lives. We forget this at our peril.

I couldn't remember exactly what I'd read, though. So instead, I found this long ago post by someone I've never met, and it sounded pretty close to what I was thinking about in the first place.

More tomorrow. Thanks for reading.

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Buckets of Love

Happy Birthday to my sweet girl. You have always been my little one, even long after you weren't. I guess it's time for me to see you as the incredible ten year old you've become, and let you show me where you want to go.

If you want me,
honey baby, I'll be there.

I love you more than you'll ever understand. Until, one day, you do.

Happy Birthday, Linds. Thanks for reading.

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Our house, in motion, and at rest

I would definitely rather lose my sense of smell than my sense of humor. Who wouldn't, right?
I hate when a woman is talking to a man and a woman, and she directs all her eye contact at the man. If you ever catch me doing this, I beg you to start waving your arms in the air and say "over here, por favor!"
When I was little, I would slip a piece of paper, or string, or something, under the couch or in the corner of a closet, and see if when I found it, months or years later, I could remember the exact moment I had put it there.
My absolute most favorite meal is veal picatta. I don't eat veal anymore, but I really miss it.
I don't sleep well at all at night. I'm half awake for most of the time. But during the day, when the kids are in school and Anna is napping, I sleep like the dead. This is a major problem, but I don't see it getting solved until, say, all the kids are in college or married or something. Even then...
I have always wanted to live in a little house. I think even if we won the lottery, I would make this little yellow house much nicer, and maybe add a bathroom (or three; see sidebar to reference number of daughters), but basically wouldn't want anything else. I attribute this almost directly to this book.
I would always prefer to have tacos, but Tim likes burritos better. This, and the fact that he likes unscented floss, and I mint flavored, are among the major differences of taste we suffer. Neither are deal-breakers, thank goodness.
When the phone rings at night now, and we know it's just another telemarketer, we both say out loud, "what fresh hell is this?" It makes me laugh, every.time.
Just checking to see if there's anyone out there. Thanks for reading.

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Monday, January 26, 2009

Monday Morning :: Random bits and pieces

::Coughs and sore throats all around here, today. A little lemon ginger concoction is just the thing.

::And some beans simmering, already, to make this incredibly comforting white bean gratin, from Alice Waters.

::A whole stack of New York and The New Yorker magazines to get through, from Tim's mom. We've never even looked into getting our own subscription. She sends them to us, without fail, when she's done. Complete with little sticky papers attached about which articles were most interesting, or some small note so we don't miss something good. It's like having our own reader's guide. We think it's hilarious to read similar pieces in each magazine and then trade; always two completely different takes on the same topic.

::We're two thirds of the way through the Three Colors trilogy, and I have to say, I'm a little baffled by White. I've got great hopes for Red, though. Blue was slow, but engrossing, mostly because I could watch Juliette Binoche read the phone book for two hours. In French.

::Next Friday, if someone would remind me why a sleepover party for ten year old girls is a good idea, I'd appreciate it.

And now, I have to get the remaining healthy child off to nursery school. Tim and I had promised each other to walk together every Monday-the gallery is closed and the kids, in theory, are all in school. I don't see that happening, now. It's so hard to keep these little rituals going in the middle of life's swirling business. But I think it's worth trying.

More tomorrow. Thanks for reading.

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Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sunday lunch, and the lakes are open

A calm, lazy Sunday, with just one girl at home.

One girl bereft that she can't go skating with the boys across the street, today. Too little to go alone. Too small for these skates, here. Daddy will get you some that fit, tomorrow. Your sisters will be home soon.
A hankering for oven fries, satisfied.
A long winter nap casts the quietest spell on the house. The heat is humming, and the old radiators kick and snap every once in a while, but no need to turn a light on, yet.

What I wouldn't give for a fireplace on a day like this.

Hope you are enjoying your Sunday, too. Thanks for reading.

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Friday, January 23, 2009

Friday Happiness :: Birthday Edition

Tomorrow is my birthday. My forty-second.

I was going to write a witty (I wish!) post about what I want for my birthday. I still might, so you're not out of the woods, yet.

But in looking around for a picture, I found this one, and so I'm going to bore you with a story, instead.

Here I am, at the bar at Buffet de la Gare, the most perfect example of a French bistro that can be found in these parts, without having to take a plane(or a train, for that matter.) I am here to celebrate my birthday, with girlfriends, earlier this month.

But I have to tell you, that the first time I came here still holds such resonance in my heart, that I can not return without being steeped in love and family and memory.

I was turning thirty. I had a newborn baby, my first. I had moved back to the suburbs from the city, was learning how to be a mother, re-learning how to be a daughter who now needed a grandmother for her own daughter, and was re-folding my self into the family I had inevitably pushed away from. When I write those words, I am envisioning the movement a swimmer makes, when they push off the wall after a dizzying flip turn, to shoot themselves back in the direction from which they just came.

My brother Glenn and his wife had arranged a party to celebrate. Me. They arranged it all, as they have so many things for me, since they met and fell in love when I was all of five years old. If I ever needed somewhere to look for an example of what love is, other than my own parents, I have never needed to look far.

That birthday at Buffet de la Gare was memorable for so many reasons. It was the first time I had ever left my baby with a sitter. It was a glamorous night with red wine, and cassoulet, and creme brulee, and a dark brown silk nightgown wrapped up in tissue paper. I felt, for perhaps the first time, like a grown-up. Someone who would be brought out to such a place for their birthday. Someone who would be given a negligee. Someone who needed a sitter.

But I mostly remember this: in the car on the way to the restaurant, my brother asked me what I had thought my life would be like at thirty. And if I was happy now that I was there.

And my answer? I had always hoped that by thirty I would be married, and have a house, and have a baby. So...yes! Was.I.ever.happy.


If you've been paying attention here, you may know that my answer was not the end of my story. But it wasn't not the truth, either. Maybe what I know now, twelve years later, is that the question my brother asked, can't be answered easily, completely, or immediately. That there is a sliding scale that has to take into account what you know you want, know you need, and what you are capable of being, before you can spit out a final rating on what's what.

So, there I sat in that restaurant again, last week. They've done some renovations and the new owners are back. It looks lovely.

I didn't need a sitter this time; I had my husband at home, drawing cartoons and shepherding six girls through their bedtime routines. My newborn was doing seventh grade math, and my third newborn was asleep in a big-girl bed. I was with friends the likes of which I never had when I was an isolated new mother, living in the back-of-beyond, and trying to figure it all out. I wasn't that thirty year old anymore, but I didn't feel all that much older, either.

So, what do I have to say now, on the eve of my forty second birthday?

Ask me again, Glenn. Ask me again.

More tomorrow. Thanks for reading.

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Thursday, with not much to say.

It's hard to find a little green, in the midst of all this cold, white, sparkly stillness. Here's some.

More tomorrow. Thanks for looking.


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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Good day. Sunshine.

I know I should be posting some pictures from the opening last night. Telling you all about how it went. How so many people came that it was hard to move around, hard to see the walls. About how many people bought so many pieces: our biggest "success" yet, if one were the sort to measure success by such a thing. I could tell you how good it felt to have friends and strangers walk through the door, excited from the day, and fully in the spirit of this thing we are doing.

But I really don't feel like it. Truth is, I'm never very good at doing the thing I'm supposed to be doing. I guess I have "authority issues".

I wish, too, I were capable of saying something poignant or profound about yesterday's main event. But so many others have said it so well, I'm mute. You all know how I feel about it, anyway. Because you probably feel the same way. Awed. Relieved.

Besides, I have a daughter home from school today, and frankly, all of the other stuff, the outside-of-this-house, whole-wide-world, national stage, current events stuff, doesn't seem so topical to me right this minute.

Right this minute, this is it.

More tomorrow. Thanks for reading.

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Monday, January 19, 2009

The View

from eyebuzz. Fifth in a series.

MLK Jr. day. No school. Soft snow on and off all day. Lots of show prep. Lots of help.

You can see Molly's Obama on the shelf. He'll be displayed properly by tomorrow.
In one of those perfect coincidences, the video we have as part of the show (by Marcy Freedman), features finger puppets reading testimonials by more than fifty people on why they voted for Obama. Some of my favorite ones:

I voted for Obama because I now understand the redemptive power of the vote.

I voted for Obama because I am hungry for intelligence. Mama.
Here's some of that help I mentioned:

Our view, today. Thanks for reading.

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Saturday, January 17, 2009

Saturday in January

out ::

Hope you are enjoying the weekend, too. Thanks for reading.

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Friday, January 16, 2009

Friday Happiness :: cute-factor warning

Last of these pictures, as promised. One reason I kept going with them, was that Anna got into it and "helped" me arrange the shot every day. (If you were thinking it was spontaneous: no, that's not where we keep the pomegranates usually.) On scout's honor, this one is all hers. Her idea, her prop styling. It's so good for a three year old to have a marketable skill, I think.

We bought this mouse-doll in Nantucket last spring. I say "we", because I mostly fell in love with the little corduroy jumper, and pretty much insisted on buying it for Anna, and then named it Theo, which she could never remember. People would bend down and say "oh, what a cute dolly. What's her name?" and Anna would pause and look up quizzically and say "what'd you name her, again Mommy?"

I even posed her for a photo-shoot, to send to all the relatives. By her, I mean Anna, but Theo is prominently featured. I imagined them saying "Oh, look at what good taste in toys TaraAnna has!"
So, Theo eventually went the way of many toys, and spent a long summer and fall in the backpack we keep in the car for boredom emergencies.

And then, one of Anna's sisters bought her a used copy of Chrysanthemum for Christmas, and she has decided that Theo is, in fact, Chrysanthemum, and thus, should be lavished with affection.

So, Theo and I are having our day.
Enjoy the long, cold weekend ahead of us. Cook soup. Cuddle up.
More, someday. Thanks for reading.
edited note: Anna saw this after I had posted it, and said "oh, look! Me and Theo." Go figure.

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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Sparky liked ice skating, too

It's still dark out, and the snow is falling quickly, almost like rain would fall. It's early, and the kids are still asleep. This almost never happens in this house, in which a single creaky footstep awakens someone, if only the noisy cat. There are seven deer outside of my window right now, and one has stopped and looked up, as if my quiet typing is alarming him. And the most miraculous thing about this morning is that it is snowing, and the schools are still going to be open today.
Tim began writing a comic strip named Three Feet in 2001. It had three little girls as the characters, although it wasn't really a "kids" strip. The humor was all Tim, aimed at us grown-ups, for whatever being a grown-up is worth, when it comes to humor.

If you knew the kids, you could easily recognize who was based on whom, but the strips didn't really so much come from what they did, as from who they are.

A little while into drawing Three Feet, he added two more characters. Two more little girls. It was a big day for my kids when he first wrote them in.

I am always impressed by three things about Tim's cartooning:

1) he is an excellent draw-er. He says he's not so great, and that anyone can learn. But I know better. He's way good.

2) he is an excellent writer. Now, I say this in light of the fact that I know he can't spell to save his life, and has a shady understanding of the rules of grammar. But I think the writing on the strip may just be his strong point. He's very smart, and astute at "getting" people and situations.
3) he's obsessed by it. He is always thinking of ideas for the next strip, he is always sketching out little scenes and story-boards. Sometimes, while he's lying in bed, waiting to fall asleep, I hear him chuckle, and I know he just thought up a cartoon.

A year or so ago, he started a new strip, Milton 5.o. The kid characters from Three Feet show up occasionally, but it's mostly about a duck (Milton), and a robot, named CPU. If I was pressed to explain, I would say that they are Tim's two alter-egos. But no one asked me.

We've sent the strips in to the syndicates a few times...we're just about ready to send them again. So far, no takers. But we did get a really nice handwritten note from one editor. So that's something. And Three Feet is published monthly in our local (very local) paper.

Anyway. Just in case anyone is wondering what those cartoons are in the picture today. And I promise, if you can just bear with the narcissus bulb pictures for one more day, I'll have gotten it out of my system.

More tomorrow. Thanks for reading.

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Have I mentioned I'm a huge Johnny Cash fan?

We got the band back together last Saturday night, more or less. I hadn't played the bass in so many weeks. I'm embarrassed to say how many weeks. Lots.

And I was never that good, even way back when, in the summer, when we were playing all the time. I can't carry a tune at all, either. But in our band, I have what they graciously refer to as "timing". I can sing the song along with our playing. Which is more than can be said for some of us. Ahem.

All of this is totally and completely not.the.point.

I love to play. I love to hold the guitar, and take apart the song until I can figure it out. I get it pretty quickly, too. But again. Not so good. Awful, actually. And not the point.

The point is that this is one of my life-long fantasies. Being a part of a band. Playing the bass. I remember distinctly, in college, daydreaming about being the one up there playing Sympathy for the Devil, for instance, instead of being one of the lost and wandering drunken souls down on the dance floor, waiting for the chance to go home. I'm not an exhibitionist, not by a long shot. Actually, I get all blushed and rashy at the thought of someone listening to me, looking at me.
But it's a way to escape, withdraw, I guess. Or so it seemed, back then.

But now, that's not the point, either.

The point is that my husband is over there playing the guitar, and looking so earnest and happy. And our lead guitarist, well, he's practiced more than anyone, and has gotten so good that I want to get better, just to be able to keep up with him. And our keyboardist: he is constant, and steady, and who knew that he could play so beautifully, almost any song we pick, and keep it all going for us, even when we are fumbling and laughing so much we can barely make out which song we're on.

And then, another point: we are fumbling, and laughing and our kids are among us now, picking up any instrument left, joining in, a part of the band. And all of a sudden, we're all doing this amazing thing. This thing that we can teach them, and they can teach us, and we can all learn, together. This thing that makes us laugh, and makes us a part of something that is unlike any other part of our lives.

We're making music. Together.

We got the band back together last Saturday night. Music to my ears.

More tomorrow. Thanks for reading.

ps. Johnny Cash, and Bob Dylan. And Neil Young. And lots of people who were born way before me. But I still do love that Bon Iver boy, even if he was born in 1981.

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Tuesday before the Tuesday

I am so touched by the enthusiasm that we are getting from people about our upcoming show. I wish I could come up with the right caliber thank you to Jen for the pieces she's created for us.

And now Molly is joining us by sending her Obama finger puppet to watch over the show. Her encouraging words about what we're doing are spurring me on.

If you've kept up with us a bit, you might know that in the past we've had some... slow openings. But I feel like we're on the crest of a wave with this, and that people do care, and will come.

In any event, we are excited, and...well, you'll come, won't you? And maybe, bring a date or something.

Hope to see you there. Thanks for reading.


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Monday, January 12, 2009

Monday Morning Love

Today I am loving:

that I got my bread mojo back. Turns out, it's the flour, stupid.

the first piece Jen made for The Obama Show. Getting excited for the opening. Being re-inspired by this.

the minestrone I made on Saturday, which fed eight of us dinner that night, three of us lunch the next day, and two girls dinner Sunday night...still going, still yum.

January. The ease, the coziness, the nothing-special-going-on-but-let's-get-together kind of nights we've been having with our friends. And it's my birthday month. And Lindsey's. So, something special, after all.

More tomorrow. Thanks for reading.


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Friday, January 9, 2009

Friday Happiness

Twenty three degrees out, so right now, happiness is all about tea, toast and scarves. Barely any snow left; all cold, no fun. In our town, we all wait for the reservoir to freeze, so we can skate. But that rarely happens any more. Rarely.

When I grew up (here), I remember skating, every year. For what seemed like weeks. But who knows what really happened, looking back from this age to that age? How do I know? Maybe it was just a few days then, too.

What I do know is that when I was young, we could skate all the way out to the small "island" at the far end of the skating lake. We'd sit on it's edge, on the dirt mound that made up this island, freezing and flirting until the Rec Department guys (and how old were they, even? Nineteen?) would shoo us off and back towards the skating shack.

My kids hardly believe me when I tell them about skating out to the island. Maybe this year, it will freeze, and they'll get their chance.

Happiness today, all about keeping warm. Thanks for reading.

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Thursday, January 8, 2009

Thursday at home

It was so windy today, with the gusts coming up against the windows during naptime-more mine than hers. We both woke up pink-cheeked and warm, and ready for the sisters to come home.

We barely left the house this afternoon, with one girl after the next arriving home, bringing in the cold air and stories to tell. Stories of young lives lived from eight to three, outside of the home, and outside of our family.

The rest of the day spent living our lives here together. Some sort of internal tag sale, with each sister buying up hand-me-downs from the other, that surely would have landed in their closets unbidden, once the mother-of-the-house got around to re-purposing assets.

The rest of the night trading shouts and murmurs about their day. They are barely separated throughout the day, by a few hallways and classrooms and blocks in the same town. But still, at the end of their separate days the retelling is all. The retelling is processing, turning non-events into stories, stories into memory.

And then, just as quick and violent as the gusting wind, they are all away...teeth brushed and next day clothes chosen, books open and tea warming small circular spots on their chests as they lie in bed.

And some barely stay awake to hear their song, to hear the last whispered "Goodnight, I love you."

Good night, I love you.

More tommorow. Thanks for reading.

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Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Who does she think she is?

I'm sorry I missed this film when it was at the Jacob Burns last month. Just reading about it, watching the trailer, browsing the site, makes my heart beat faster. The basic premise, that women who want to fulfill their own artistic passion have to do so at the peril of their being (or being seen as) sub-par mothers, is one that chills my blood.

Because, artists or not, don't we all feel like this, to some degree? That constant scale inside that tips uneasily whenever we are tending to either being a parent, or being our own person. The feeling that it is necessary to choose one or the other? And knowing absolutely that we shouldn't have to.

And, of course, it is not just in the art world that the challenge of pursuing one's own goals is mightily compounded by virtue of being a woman and a mother. Lawyer, vet, architect. Teacher, dancer, chef. In this day and age of fabulous promise and change, I can only hope my girls grow up feeling they can be their best selves, and still be the best mom.

That they can be whoever they think they are.

More tomorrow. Thanks for reading.

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Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Tuesday :: completely random words + pictures

I don't know the chicken very well, but the angel we got to take home, cook an omelet for her, and put her to bed.

In lieu of anything much to say, here are two photos from our walk at Stone Barns on Sunday. There are lots more, I was crazy with the camera...I'll save them for other days short on words and pictures.

In the meantime, I want to direct your attention to a new project which two stellar bloggers have begun this new year. Words and pictures.

And thus, a pattern develops today, after all.

More tomorrow. Thanks for reading.


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Monday, January 5, 2009

Monday Morning :: Fresh Start

I want to thank all of you for indulging me so kindly during all of that holiday madness. I certainly was obsessesed for a few weeks there, no?

I hope you understand that it was necessary for the happiness of my family and my own sanity. I decided at some point that if you can't beat 'em...well, you know.

Really, what I decided, was that I needed to stop fighting it all. That my lot in life (for now) is as chief cook and bottlewasher, and that by resisting this reality, I was only making myself miserable. Well, actually, that was the problem. Not only myself miserable.

So I threw myself into the happy holidays, and you know what? They were. Happy. I felt, internally, a loosening of something that used to be wound pretty tightly. The anxiety melted a little. Maybe, I fulfilled my one wish for this season.

And here we are, on the other side. With as much eagerness as I put out all the holiday finery, I have put it all away, now. The tree is on the curb (and not in a plastic bag...can someone please explain that to me?), the windowsills are cleared off, and the tabletops are pared down. The red and forest green in the house are back to a bare minimum.

We're back in the pink. And white. Soft greens. Pale, pale blues.

I think this is a perfect time to reassess what we have around us, and perhaps start fresh. Even if in small ways. A new tablecloth, or switched around furniture. I once read somewhere that if you went through every room and put three things away it would make a big difference.

It does. I'm making a little more room around here. Room to think, room to breathe. Room to settle in and enjoy the space in front of me.

More tomorrow. Thanks for reading.

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Saturday, January 3, 2009

The View

from eyebuzz. Fourth in a series.

I got lucky with these birds. I walked out front, and hit the right button just as they were all taking flight. I stood out there periodically for the rest of the afternoon, and never got them to do this again at the instant I was ready. They had their own agenda, which did not include me.

This couple were exceedingly interesting, and interested in the gallery. It made my whole day worthwhile. They had more to say about art, and commerce, and psychology, than a shelf of books. They promised to come back, and I'm hoping they do.
I've never opened the back door, before today. There's a whole other view from there. I've lived here my whole life, and Tarrytown keeps showing me different corners of herself.

My view, today. Thanks for reading.

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Thursday, January 1, 2009

First day, first night

Today is a day to stay in bed way past reason.

Today is a day to cook and cook and cook. For later today, when we will eat and eat and eat.

Today is a day to clear out the basement, so the girls will move the dance studio from above our heads in their room, to below us, where they won't crack the ceiling any further.

Today is a day to notice how it looks when the sun shines through the branches onto the snow. How it looks, from indoors.

Today is a day to thank the neighbors, for taking everyone in/on last night.

Today is a day to play board games (not me, I don't do that...but the rest of the household, go to it!)

Today is a day to practice writing 2009 on your checks. I will surely be writing 2008 until mid-February.

Today is a day to plan to start walking, reading, knitting, skimping...tomorrow.

Tonight is a night to toast the new year, and to turn in early, under many, many old quilts.

Enjoy your first day, first night. Thanks for reading.

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