Thursday, December 31, 2009

there is so much activity and noise downstairs right now-colored lights are being hung, rugs are being vacuumed (although this is a bit like shoveling snow before a blizzard), old sheets are being nail-gunned to the walls, music is blasting. and the party hasn't even started. it's looking a lot like a college dorm in my basement, and frankly, i'm sceptical.

whose idea was this kids' party, anyway? and how am i going to get tim to come across the street with me to the grown-ups party? seems like all eight of us are having too much fun just getting things ready over here.


i am sneaking up to the computer to say goodbye to 2009, and to wish you all a joyful night and a hopeful new year.

i think this past year for me was one of finding the new beginnings in endings, and noticing the beauty in things not obviously so.

i think this past year i grew up a lot, and maybe even found my inner kid a bit, too. learning something new has been challenging and energizing at the same time.

i think this past year i started to let go of a lot of things that i held onto out of fear and habit.


i was reading a story about a completely dysfunctional group of people, and the thought came to me that they just don't know how to be a family. and then i realized: we do. we know how to be a family.

i will take that one thought with me into the new year, and everything else will fall into place.


wishing you peace, health, and happiness in 2010. thanks for reading.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

hi. just to prove that i'm not always so grumpy, i thought i'd come back here with a few nice things lately::

. although i'm ready for a clean slate in my house, i'm bowing to protests and keeping the tree up a little longer.

. i may never take down the twinkly lights. that's a fact.

.i just made a starter for bread. we should have fresh loaves by tomorrow afternoon.

.and i'm also making, for the first time, a loaf of beer bread.

.little miss a. and i had lunch out today at our favorite place. it's been a long time. she rose to the occasion just beautifully.

.we grown-ups in the neighborhood are having our new years eve party sans kids this year. which means the kids are having a new years eve party across the street, at our house, sans grown-ups. i'm not sure which i'm more excited about. i've got nachos and little hot dogs and caramel corn and homemade chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwiches in mind for them. i even bought some ("clean") soda, and sparkling cider for midnight.
i may end up staying at the kids party(cue loud protesting).

.i bought a bonafide party dress. i really don't know what got into me, but i can not wait to put it on and watch the magic happen. um, that is what party dresses do, right? it seems to work for anna, and she knows from party dresses.

.every time i hear the opening words of weary memory, i feel like running to wherever tim is and kissing him: found your mittens behind a box of pictures; you would wear them before i brewed the tea.

.if i could just request one more gift from santa, it would definitely be a pair of these to wear as house slippers. lucky for me, i have a birthday in january.

.we are having one of the best months ever, in terms of people buying art from the gallery. it's like the art gods looked down on us, saw us feeling slightly discouraged, and said "keep at it. people are out there who like what you are doing." thanks for the chin up, art gods. i think we are coming into a new year of good things downtown.

well! i surprised myself, here. i could keep going, but i've got kids to hug. thanks for reading.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

ok, the truth is, i'm not going to be able to draw any profound conclusions about this past year. frankly, i know what my weaknesses and my strengths are every day of every month, and it being the last week of december doesn't really change anything.

i will say that what amy wrote about resolutions usually focusing on our failings hit home for me. i suppose i could make a list of things that i need to work on, or change, or do and not do in the new year, but most of those are small, personal adjustments that are too intimate to share, and too specific to be meaningful to anyone but me.

besides, the overwhelming vote seems to be that i need to relax. this has been voiced by the people who know and love me best in varying ways, from "just take it one step at a time" to "maybe you shouldn't be too picky?" right down to "is she going through menopause? she seems a little grumpy" (this last, from my dad!); the chorus of friends and family who seem to think i need to relax, already is getting loud and, um, organized.

so alright. i'll relax.
i'll try.


one of the sweetest things about this christmas was that the girls were able to do most of their shopping themselves, thanks to their babysitting money, and the fact that they can walk into town from our house together. they were all genuinely more excited about giving presents to us and each other than what they were getting. this is a big change from some years ago, when they all actually counted how many presents were in each of their piles. drama ensued.

this year, they even filled tim and my stockings, which i know really meant something to them, since in the past they would be sad when my stocking wasn't full like theirs was on christmas morning. the implication of them doing so is, of course, something i'm not going to examine too closely.

one of the things we each found in our stockings this year was a long stemmed rose: a white one for me, a peachy-pink one for tim, and a pink one for anna. they're over there in a vase right now, and it makes me happy to look at them.


that's all for today. a cold wind is swirling around and we keep losing power, but i'm venturing out for provisions. thanks for reading.

Monday, December 28, 2009

hello, monday.

we're home, and all the hustle and bustle is over, but things are not at all back to normal. the kids are here at home all week, we don't have much planned until new years eve, and all of the snow is gone. to be honest, i think the next few days are going to be challenging for me. i'm ready to make a clean sweep of the house-toss that tree out, already!-and spend some quiet time regrouping my thoughts and settling down. i think that will have to wait until next week.


we spent a couple of days at my brother's house in connecticut, and when we woke up sunday morning, there was an eerily beautiful fog. the light was dull, the air heavy with water, although you couldn't quite say it was raining.

i walked out of the house with my cameras and didn't get far before i was mesmerized by small wondrous things: reflections in puddles on the pavement; leaves and moss frozen under opaque, melting ice; rich tones of rust and curry making their way out from under the snow; droplets of water on all of the branches, glistening in what little bit of sunlight could filter through the cloud cover; gorgeous, wispy patterns made by grasses and sticks protruding from an icy pond.

it was all, simply, beautiful. i'll share some of the photos from that walk here this week, and hopefully be able to form some thoughts about what the end of this year, and the beginning of a new one, mean to me.

for now, i'll just leave you with a hello. hope you all had a wonderful weekend. thanks for reading.

Friday, December 25, 2009

and greetings.
i am just about falling asleep here,
but wanted to say,
that i will be back,
with some thoughts
on the end of the year,
and the start of the new.

if ever there were someone
ripe for new years resolutions,
that would be

tired and happy,
and off to visit with family
for a few days.
thanks for reading.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

out in front of our house,


this is my favorite night. the anticipation, the preparations, the wrapped packages and the whispering of secrets. the food, and the memories, and the laughing. the late hour finishing details - seemingly inevitable, no matter how much i've done ahead of time.

mostly, i feel full up with love, tonight.

all is well, here. i just wanted to stop in and say hello, and best, best of all wishes, my friends.

i'll be back when i can. there's just so much i don't want to miss.

happy night. thanks for reading.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

oh, there is so much beauty around.
my daughters ask me a question,
and a little part of the hardness
that has crystallized inside
as i have grown into this older,
unfamiliar me
starts to melt,
because i am both
renewed by them,
and made even older
and more unfamiliar
i hesitate to answer their question.
we are at the point
when the old answer
is not acceptable,
but the whole true
ugly, beautiful answer
is not yet acceptable,
their eyes tell me at the same time:
we want the answer,
we don't.
so i straddle that line,
for one more year.
because i love them,
and because
i don't really want to say
the truthful answer
out loud.
but oh,
do i love them.
and oh,
are they beautiful.

the days get longer from here on in. thanks for reading.

Monday, December 21, 2009

there was a whole lot of happy this weekend.
we spent friday night with good friends and ate and talked and laughed for hours and hours.
saturday night we kept anna up too late at a holiday party. we walked home in the snowstorm, sat in bed and read her stories, and tucked her in way past her bedtime.
sunday i never left the house. we have about a foot of snow, and tim and anna got out there, but i stayed in and baked, and wrapped presents, and made onion soup. the girls came through the door calling out the number of days until christmas.
a good mixture of going out and celebrating, and hunkering down at home. seemed just about right.


some books on my wish list:

nicholas nixon: the brown sisters. thirty-three years.
harry benson's america
adam bartos: yard sale photographs
Hudson Valley Mediterranean: The Gigi Good Food Cookbook


hard to believe it's the first day of winter, and the second to last week of the year.

keep warm and be well. thanks for reading.

ps:: these photos are from our first snowfall in the beginning of december.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

so, this here space started out more than a year ago as a way to get the word out about our little gallery and what we were doing down there.
now, it's really not so much that, anymore.
ok, it's not that at all.

it's my place to write down things as they are happening to us. a way for me to stop and think and notice all the good and not so good things that make up our particular corner of the world.


something else happened along the way. i fell in love with taking pictures. and while i still firmly have both feet planted in the amateur camp, it gives me so much pleasure to see and record our life in this way. and what i needed most was, frankly, a hobby.

because it wasn't going to be so good, if it kept on that the only "hobby" i had was our house and our children and all the toil and worry that comes with both of those beloved things.


i've been experimenting with film the last couple of months, with limited success. not least of all because it takes more money and time than i have at my disposal. and tim seems to think that it's a waste of effort, as well. don't hold this against him, but he's really sure that digital is the only way to go.

i was not so sure. then i got my first black and white roll back, and it was intriguing. then i got my second roll back of black and white, and it was depressing. i was done. won over to tim's side.

then, i got my first color roll back, and wow. there is something about the texture and the color and the depth that i find too compelling to turn my back on without a few more rounds of trial and error.


i'm turning to you, my friends. my very talented friends, to help me in whatever way you can. any thoughts on film? do you develop your own, or do you have to drive to the nearest last standing vestige of film developing, as i do? any tips on scanning film onto flickr? because i think in the end a poorly scanned photo can defeat the whole purpose.

and what is the whole purpose?

i know we are all too busy right now for this, but if you are out there, and you shoot film, and you have any thing at all to say to me on the subject, i would be very appreciative.


snow, snow, snow here! so beautiful out, and cozy in. but more about that tomorrow.

best wishes and good night. thanks for reading.

Friday, December 18, 2009

friday happiness::
on my doorstep this morning was a box, from a friend. inside: a beautiful teal-blue scarf, an angel, and two hundred dollars.
thanks, stephanie, for the kick in the pants. the best kind of kick in the pants.
the gentle kind that says remember what you haven't lost.


on top of that,

tonight: latkes with some of my favorite people. and a husband who's trying to talk me into going out afterward.
tomorrow: snow!!! and the neighborhood holiday party.
sunday: nothing. i'm guessing we're going to be in need of some nothing by then.

wishing you some peace, calm, and a kick in the pants. thanks for reading.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

somewhere along the line today, running errands, i lost two hundred-dollar-bills that tim gave me to buy some groceries and the last of the christmas presents.

i know i should be able to bounce right back from such a thing. it's only money, la la la.

that's a whole lot of money for us right now.

and i'm not usually careless. i might even say never.

i keep retracing my steps. i called the camera shop, the bookstore, and the bakery. no luck. cleaned out my wallet, scoured the car. nada.

i just needed to get this off of my chest before i tried to come up with something happy for tomorrow.

if you find two,crisp hundred-dollar-bills, give me a call.

if not, give me a hug. thanks for reading.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

outside my kitchen door
outside my kitchen door
the light right now is very pretty.

not much to say, today. here's a collection of shots i've taken in the last couple of days. as you can see, i haven't been very far from home. which is a good thing, and a bad thing.

i haven't taken a good walk in a few days and it's starting to get to me. i feel sluggish and tired, but restless, too. i really need to get out there everyday, and when i don't, my brain and my body get all into knots.


it's not four thirty yet, and the light in the house is sliding through all sorts of spectacular shades on it's way to fading out for the night.


i received shari and jen's book in the mail this afternoon, and i can't wait to settle down on the couch later on, and look through it again and again. as much as i love all the inspiration i find on flickr, there is no substitute for having a book in my hands that i can savor and keep forever (or pass on to a friend).

and that's all i have to say, today. thanks for reading.

Monday, December 14, 2009

we have no snow left here now, and when i lamented that fact this morning, tim remarked that it's too early, anyway. we don't really get snow until january. i suppose he's right, and i felt momentarily child-like for even longing for snow, like a kid who runs out to the back yard in her slippers with her tongue hanging out, trying to catch the first tentative flakes that fall, before they turn to rain.

there's still some leftover color out there, though. it's a beautiful time of year, i think.


last night after dinner, tim and i swept through the house and cleaned. it didn't take long, working together. tim vacuumed and i mopped. we started the base for a beef barley soup for tonight's dinner. i put new flannel sheets on our bed-the first we've ever had. the girls fell asleep a little early, exhausted. i did some knitting, while tim finished up some gallery work. the whole house was dark and quiet by a little before ten. it felt so good to turn out the lights, knowing that things were ready for a fresh start on monday morning.


i'm pretty sure you all know what's going on over at habit this month, but i just want to say that i think what emily and molly have done there is brilliant. the first post in december, with all of those voices in one place, actually gave me chills. i don't think i've missed a day all year, but the chorus of women now sharing pieces of their lives is truly more than the sum of its parts.


wishing the week ahead is a gentle one. thanks for reading.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

i'm sitting down here in the gallery another saturday, while tim slips back into daddy mode, as when i met him. only now, plus one. anna is the age the big girls were when we met. i think i mentioned that already, recently. but i keep thinking it, lately. that thought keeps creeping into my thoughts in the middle of thinking about something else entirely. i'm not sure if this is meaningful in any way, other than that my thoughts are pretty much all creeping up on each other all the time like that. they don't get a lot of shoulder room, my thoughts. lately.

when i'm down here in the gallery, i watch all the cars and people go by the window. the cars drive too fast, of that i'm sure. the people move much slower, but i like that i can recognize so many of them. i know a lot of folks in this town, apparently.

but then, there are numerous other cars and people i do not recognize, and i wonder about them; where do they all live, and what brought them here today, to tarrytown?

i'm listening to pandora; and i finally broke out the little space heater. my lunch was eaten long ago (mushroom soup and tea) but i do still have two clementines and some chocolate tucked away in my bag for the inevitable slump to come in a half hour or so.

tim called earlier looking for a bathing suit for anna. i didn't even ask. it's not my show up there, today.

today i'm down here in the gallery, and it is as if my life is on pause. i am not needed like i am needed all day long every day at home. and that needing me sometimes almost pulls me down under the waves, down back under the covers. but now, here, with just me and my thermos and the quiet, adorned walls and two little speakers playing only the songs i like, i feel suspended.

later on we will make pizzas, and i will hear about the day with too many voices talking at once, and respond to requests, both big and small.

tomorrow we will take a walk and i will carry anna part of the way and put her cold hands between mine and blow into them to warm them up. afterwards, we'll go home and i'll make brisket and noodles. our parents will join us for dinner, and then, eventually, tim and i will get up and start doing the dishes while they sit and talk, with the last mouthfuls of coffee in their cups. another week will end, another begin.

but today, i will sit here and wonder about the people i don't know who keep passing by the window, bent towards getting to the other end of the street.

enjoy the day, and keep warm. thanks for reading.

Friday, December 11, 2009

friday happiness::

things are not very easy here right now. and yet, why? what's the big deal? why isn't everything ok?
i think we humans make life difficult. or is it the other way around? life is hard.

in any event, it's friday, and i need to come up with a reason to be happy. i think that when i am in the midst of december, i'm so focused on the expectations that the holidays bring, that its harder to see all the run-of-the-mill little things that are really pretty special.

breakfast comes to mind. every new day i get to put water on for tea, fill the pot, cover it with the tea cozy. wait.
and i've said before that there's no day that can't be improved with some cheesy toast. i'm standing by that.

and then there is that little girl over there, making a birthday card for her friend, whose name starts with an r, but it always comes out as a w. very cute.

and later on, her sisters will come bounding in the door looking as though the whole world exists just for their laughing. and believe me, they're not so easy to deal with, but i would never begrudge them that laughter.

and there will be hot chocolate, and pistachios, and fig jelly, and chicken pot pie. (but not all together.)

and it's cold out there today. cold. but that just makes inside feel warmer.

life is hard. but it's not so hard to find a little happiness, too.

enjoy the weekend, and best wishes. thanks for reading.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

snow day lunch table.
snow day dinner table.

some days, the things that you think are going to be so hard to get through, turn out to be not so, after all.

a street cleaner goes past our house, and it seems old-fashioned to me, for some reason.

anna can make up our shopping list by drawing pictures, and i realize this is actually, legitimately helpful.

i also realize that i am made to feel quite happy when people eagerly eat what i put on the table for them.

the colors of the holidays are not really red and green; they are the colors of pine needles, and frosted windows, and dark chocolate, and bright tissue paper, and tea with honey and lemon.

i miss friends and family who are far away very much right now.

i'm really crazy for these.

and i'd like to report that jen's gingerbread was easy and awesome. if you all lived nearby, i'd bring some over and we could have a good chat.

best wishes. thanks for reading.


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

hi. things are moving into high gear around here. family is visiting, school events are happening, the tree is up, and there are lots of behind-closed-doors wrapping sessions. it seems as if the secret santa elves have really done their work this time around.

i've been pleased with the gifts i'm finding to give this year. i guess i can't say too much, here. i've bought a few books of poetry. this one for my dad, which i hope he likes. and some prints i've framed and am sending off to friends. a few things from this etsy shop, and this one. i suppose i'm giving things i would really like to keep for myself. hee.

i also have no fewer than three scarves on needles. each would make a very nice gift, if only i could sit down long enough to finish them, without falling asleep. double hee.

there's lots of cooking to be done. it seems a little early to make and give holiday treats, but not too early to do some homework. today's assignment: jen's gingerbread. if mine turns out as good as hers sounds, i think we may have a winner.

our first snow is almost gone. i'm hoping for more. either way, i can't wait to bundle up and get back out there, again. it's a good combination: get out, get moving, get chilled; come in, settle into the warmth, settle down for while.

best wishes. thanks for reading.


Sunday, December 6, 2009

we took a walk today, and it was very cold, and very sunny, but my boots got soaked through, because i do not have proper snow boots anymore. and anna. well...anna alternates between flitting across snowy fields waving her arms and singing, and dragging her thirty-some-odd pounds across muddy shale paths because she can.not.walk.any.more.



when i was in college i wore bean boots almost exclusively. to class, to parties, with dresses, with pajamas. i felt invincible. i could go where i needed to and get where i was going. these are on my christmas list. they may be the only thing.


when tim and i were first together, we had five children: three of them were anna's age now. two were younger. we talked a little about it this weekend, in the context of not being able to conceive of having three of anna at once. plus.

but we did. bathtime. dinner. wintertime, trying to get them out the door to school, or to play? how? bedtime. bedtime songs times five.

we've started to talk to anna a little about how it was, before her. we told her about when we lived in the cottage, with her sisters, and they all slept in one room, and we would lie in bed with them and sing them a song, one by one.

tim could never remember the words to "winter wonderland", so when his girls picked that one, i would always have to be the one to sing it to them. it felt like they were giving me a gift: they were choosing me (in a roundabout way) to sing their song.

i often worry now about being "present" with the kids, but maybe, i'm too "present". it's all about the here and now. reacting to what is happening in the very moment we are living.

i think there are some things i should remember.

goodnight. thanks for reading.


Friday, December 4, 2009

(monday thru) friday happiness::
i'm sure the week sped by for you as it did for me. in trying to grasp how we got from there to here, i went through each day in my head. it was a busy week, filled with some hardships, but when i look back, there was so much to savor. if i had not really thought about it, day by day, this week may have just gone down as "the week we all got sick."

so here are a few sweet moments from this too-fast, under-the-weather week:

monday, i sat across from my father and mother, next to my brother, in a restaurant in nyc, and heard a story from sixty years ago that i had never heard.
tuesday, i went out with tim, to a party at a friend's shop, and on the walk back home, we stopped in the woods and took pictures in the light of a full moon.
wednesday, we celebrated emily's twelfth birthday. and even though she was feeling miserable, the sweet thing opened her presents with more grace and kindness than most grown-ups could muster.
thursday, i spent time in anna's school and saw how truly happy she is to be there.
and now,friday, blue skies, crisp air, and the weekend to look forward to: homemade sushi, more lights and a tree, a morning out with my two "big girls", a nice long hike with tim.

i've been feeling a little overwhelmed and off-center, but when i look back at it this way, it was a pretty good week.

hope you had a few sweet moments this week, too. thanks for reading.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

the children are falling by the wayside, one by one.
i suppose it is inevitable that i, too, get sick. but oh, that will not help matters.
not one bit.
right now i am a pusher: of echinacea tea; of clementines; of matzo ball soup.
i'm using, too. i have more water on for the boil, right now.

i'm secretly glad for the excuse to stay in. i could (should?) be running all over the county on errands. but i'm here. home. nursing the infirm.

i think i'll go make cookies.

be well. thanks for reading.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

walking around bantam lake
walking around bantam lake
Some more photos from my trip up to Litchfield County last weekend. It was such a luxury to take long walks, and stop and take photos, and not have to chase Anna in the middle of it all. Although the friend I was with remarked that walking with me was like walking a dog-walk, stop, take a picture, walk a little more, etc... (I assure you she said this kindly.)

One of the things I had wanted to do up there was stop in a bookstore. I keep a running list of recommendations (mostly from blogs. mostly from Shari, actually), and wanted to find one or two of them to get started on. On the way home (Tim and Anna had come to pick me up Sunday morning) we stopped in Kent, Ct. Tim took Anna to a park nearby and gave me some time alone to browse in the bookstore there. It was one of those bookstores that you could (I could) spend hours in. Hours.

For some reason I always associate bookstores with my father, although I can't remember a particular time we were ever together in one. We did travel together a lot when I was young-practically all summer-and I picture us ducking into a bookshop in some foreign city or another, and each getting lost in the stacks.

When I was growing up, there was a bookstore here in town. It's where the tearoom is now, for those of you who live here. The Book Inn. It's long gone, but I can still picture the layout in detail.

Unfortunately, there isn't another bookshop here now. I'm happy for all of the nice little shops and restaurants that we do have, but I do so wish that I lived in a town with a bookshop. I think it's important.

I've heard of the concept of having a "third place": somewhere other than home, other than work, that you gather with people. I suppose a coffee house or bar very often fills that role. I guess I just always pictured my third place as being a bookstore. In a way, that's what we are hoping to create in the gallery.

I could have gotten the books I was looking for on amazon. (They weren't even available at the library.) But I drove over to a neighboring town, and asked the extraordinarily nice owners of the bookshop there to order them for me. She was very glad I did, and it made me happy to do right by a small business. I'm going to try hard to remember that as I finish up my Christmas shopping.

Ok. Hope you are well. Thanks for reading.