Saturday, December 26, 2009

A Single Girl's Christmas

This is about the extent of my ability to vamp.

The boyfriend took off on his annual sojourn to Florida about a week early leaving me alone for Christmas this year. I didn't know what I would do for Christmas but I figured I would find someplace to go and someone to share the day with.

Christmas eve arrived and I was working the late shift at the gallery meaning I would have to stay until 2 to make sure everyone had picked up their last minute framing. At 1 pm an artist/friend stopped in to wish me a happy holiday on her return from food shopping. We started yakking and she suggested that a glass of wine would be nice. She also suggested a little cheese and crackers to make it truly celebratory. Out to the moving larder that is her car and she returned with the victuals and our party began.

After a while we both started whining about the sorry state of our wardrobes and how we had allowed ourselves to not dress up to the best of our abilities- all lubricated by a glass of wine. While we hadn't stooped to wearing sweat pants in public, we certainly were on the slippery slope of "well, this is good enough."

Two o'clock soon rolled around and we packed up my dog and headed over to a boutique that was having a big Christmas Eve sale. It is a store that I rarely go into because it specializes in tight, shiny, sparkly, ruffly clothes. My friend and I tried everything on, spurring each other onto ever more body conscious clothing. (Mind you- she is a size 4 and my height plus she takes ball room dancing classes which requires tight and shiny.) We helped a young man buy some necklaces for his wife and kibitzed with the other women who wandered through the shop. About 5 o'clock we made our choices, untangled my dog from a clothing rack and left giggling.

I walked out with a tight hip length angora sweater with a rather plunging v-neck (among other things). I teamed it up with a new lacy tank top and a low slung wide, black belt. It is a decidedly sexier look than I usually wear, but I thought it made me look a touch more continental. She left with a pile of skirts, sweaters and necklaces. We had a ball.... sort of Pretty Woman minus the man with the credit card. I think if I am going to be a single girl on Christmas Eve that this should become an annual tradition.

Now for a better pair of jeans.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Good Art, Bad Art

I believe I have written previously about how to tell good art from bad art. Many people are stymied by this skill and think that experts are trying to pull the wool over their eyes. A good rule of thumb is if it makes you say "Awwwwww, how cute" or "You can see every little feather (hair, pore, blade of grass)" you are probably looking at bad art. It doesn't mean you can't enjoy it. It just means it doesn't belong in a museum.

I have been doing a lot of reading on the Italian Renaissance recently as I am preparing for a trip to Florence this spring. The Stones Of Florence by Mary McCarthy, while in general a terrible book, contained some tidbits of information that got me thinking. In particular that with the rise of wealth for a few merchant families who patronized artists, there was a concurrent rise of bad and simply sexually provocative art. (Art being the word that pornography often hides behind.)

Sometimes in my reverence for the great cultures of the world I forget to consider that they had their flaws too. I hope as I wander through the Uffizi and the Duomo I remember to keep it all in perspective and look with critical eyes. Were these artists the Thomas Kinkade or Peter Max of their age- spinning out product for their clammering public?

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Celebrity Spotting- NH Style

I was walking in downtown Concord this past Thursday and saw a real live celebrity- Lorraine Merrill, Commissioner of Agriculture for the state of NH. It was one of those moments usually experienced in New York City. The sudden sense of recognizing the person in front of you and the overwhelming desire to shake their hand and say "I know you." You will be glad to know that I resisted. I can only imagine that Lorraine is somewhat relieved too.

Most people don't know the face of our Commissioner of Agriculture but my boyfriend happens to subscribe to the Weekly Market Bulletin. You can find it on most news racks next to People and Us. I generally check it out to see if any maple syrup condensers are for sale in Plainfield or working Corgi pups are ready to help me round up the sheep. I think the boyfriend likes to keep up with the wholesale cost of eggs. It is also an important source of gossip and info ready to help you identify people leaving the Legislative Office Buildings in Concord. Celebrity spotting in NH is light on the Versace and Prada and pretty heavy on down vests, jeans and muck boots. Puffy down outerwear tends to mask the sartorial accouterments of a celebrity so it is crucial to memorize the faces.

Monday, November 30, 2009

1979 Redux

My friend, Lynn & I throwin' the gang symbols before leaving for our 30th High School reunion....just to let you know where we fall on the nerdometer.

So I went to my 30th high school reunion this past Saturday, which was incredibly fraught with
apprehension, not to mention wardrobe malfunctions. Who was to know that two weeks prior to this event my wardrobe would turn into a closetful of clothing that my grandmother wouldn't be caught dead in? Or that the one pair of hip, properly fitting trousers I owned would be eaten by a gas tank cover?*

We got there and it was immediately okay. While checking in I turned and introduced myself to a classmate behind me. As my friend Louise said- "You will not recognize a single male from your class." It was true. It was fun to try to dredge up details with each of them. Not to say that there wasn't a table full of broad shouldered males who refused to get up and mingle, but as I said, they refused to get up and mingle so I didn't have to figure out how to talk to them..... 30 years later.

As a high school student I was relatively bright but different. I had tremendous deficits in math and really loved the arts. Because of that I tracked along with the future non-academic sorts in math. And the powers that be saw Art as an extra so there was no college track art classes. Signing up for Auto Body was the same as signing up for Painting III. Not trying to pass too much judgment here- just saying that I got to know a lot more of the student body than most.

One particular classmate sidled up to me- trying to place me exactly. We realized we shared airspace in Graphic Arts (which fell into Shop classes- go figure?) and advanced Sculpture. A few of us were looking at the old year book photos when this guy slyly says to me "Oh her- she had the best boobs in the whole class."

Sigh..... Not that I was offended. I have heard the word "boobs" once or twice in my life. I suppose I could have played a lady and told him how crass he was, but I suspect he knew he was crass. My disappointment is that, as in High School, my face still says "I am your best friend. Talk to me like your locker room buddy."

Whatever..... maybe in my next life I'll come back as my sister Abby, who looks like a woman even in a ridiculous hat.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Cosmic Return

I fell in love. It was both fast and slow paced. It was one of those vacation flings while I was out in Albuquerque a few weeks ago. We met on a Thursday in a casual way- just a quick glance across a room. On Saturday we got together, but it didn't seem right so I didn't pursue it. By Monday morning it had become a full blown obsession, but I was on the plane back home.

Despite my qualms that they were a little too snug I was on the phone by Tuesday to tell my boyfriend "go buy me those pants! They are in the back right. They are corduroy but they look like velvet. They are Christopher something brand. They are half price. I must have them. Size 6- accept no substitutes."

He arrived home two weeks later with the trousers. They sat on my bureau wrapped in tissue and a little bit of regret. Perhaps they were too tight? Who was I to think I could fit into a size 6. Perhaps when I tried them on I was just having a thin day? Will I look ridiculous?

I finally put them on one morning and they fit like a glove. The corduroy was so fine, so black, so soft and amazingly did not pick up every stray white hair from my dog. This was meant to be. I wore them once. I wore them twice. They didn't stretch out and hang droopily off my butt. I LOVED these pants.

But the third time is a charm. I was meeting a client after hours on a Saturday afternoon. I wanted to look professional but Saturday relaxed. I paired the beautiful black trousers with a lapis lazuli three quarter sleeve blouse. I looked great. I assured my boyfriend I would be home by 5. The clients were difficult but engaged. I am sure my outfit tipped the scales- especially those pants. But the clients didn't leave until 5. I raced out the door of the gallery and jumped in my car. Damn! I need gas. I am racing to fill the tank but the pump isn't working. I screeched over to the next tank and fill up. I grab my receipt but noticed that someone had left theirs. I fatefully ripped it off and threw it in the trash and then turned to get into my car. And ran into my gas tank door.

The clip tore through the beautiful, soft fabric of my pants and into my hip. I was bleeding and pissed. I had only worn them three times and they were gone- nothing tears quite like corduroy. It is designed to open up like a Ziploc bag. Repair was not an option. I was so pissed that I couldn't even call my boyfriend to say I was running late. I would have bitten his head off. I hated the whole world for wrecking those trousers.

I suppose I got to look good three times. Well- what is it that they say? Pride goeth before a fall.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

"How's The Water?"*

I became smitten with David Foster Wallace a few years back when I read this brief couple of paragraphs by him in the Atlantic Monthly.

I had never read anything by him before seeing this cover essay asking 100 of our country's great thinkers to give us something to think about. It clearly did just that. His succinct essay stopped me cold and I wondered why no one had bothered to say this before. I also wondered who this man was.

I got one of his books- A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again. His writing is dense and not easily digested. Keep your dictionary handy. If you want to take a look, again, at those things we take for granted.... he is the writer for you.

He killed himself at the age of 46 after a long struggle with clinical depression. It was sad, but almost like a freight train bearing down on you- an inevitable conclusion. It really puts a focus on the tragedy of mental illness (?)......and such a loss for humanity.

Don't know why he has popped into my head again. Look him up. Keep him alive.

*From his address at a Kenyon College graduation.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Stop Making Sense

It's not easy being green.

I ran into an old client on the street the other day and we did a quick catch up conversation. He told me he had just gotten back from South Africa.

"Wow! How was it?"

"Weird. Despite the end of apartheid there is still this thing hanging over the country."

I told him about another friend who had gone to South Africa recently who had a similar observation- official discrimination has ended but the different races do not mingle on a social level.

He ended with "We are so lucky in this country. We just take it for granted."

I know that things are not peaches and cream in this country as far as discrimination goes, but there is a broad acceptance of different people- or at least an abhorrence of crude and ignorant displays of intolerance. There is also room for conversation about acceptance/inclusion. I watch from the sidelines, bemused, as gay people fight for the right to marry. (This "right" isn't as desirable as one might think- I am not a huge fan of this legal institution.) This is a conversation that never would have taken place 20 years ago. I think of my clients who openly refer to their partners. The shame and stigma of this acknowledgement seems to have vanished. I was also pleasantly pleased by the near seamless mixing of Hispanics and Anglos in New Mexico during a recent visit. When I lived there 20 years ago the resentments were palpable between the two races.

There are still many instances of discrimination, hatred and even violence against those who are different. I think, as a country, we don't recognize how things have changed over time. We have every right to be proud of our continued struggle towards universal rights.

Bash on!

Monday, November 9, 2009


I use to be an okay cook but my skills have deteriorated over the years. First I was married to a man who thought that Chef Salad was the height of cuisine and now I live with a man who cooks far better than I have ever dreamed of. I still enjoy cooking... I am just no damned good at it. So while my boyfriend is away for a few weeks to explore our vast country I have taken to blaspheming his kitchen.

I am celiac, thus cannot eat wheat/gluten. Pasta is right out. I have been wanting to try Polenta Lasagna for a while as a way to get my cheesy goodness spot satisfied. I had all the ingredients I thought appropriate but was too cavalier to look up a recipe. Really how hard could it be? Polenta, sauce, fresh mozzarella, pesto-right? I layered, baked and awaited my righteous reward.

I suppose there are cookbooks for a reason, like say, to tell you that a bunch of moist ingredients will blend into a monolithic pan of ingredient. It didn't taste too bad but there is something about the word "lasagna" that evokes distinct layers of different textured items. This had turned into a loaf of very cheesy, slightly tomatoey polenta. In and of itself- not terrible.

I had it for dinner two nights in a row and then had it for lunch today (the downside of cooking big complicated dishes is eating them for several days.) I mulled about what had gone awry. I realized it wasn't the food, it was my attitude. If I stopped thinking of it as lasagna it became more palatable. When I thought of it as a lovely, cheesy side dish I loved it a little bit more. But what would I call it- polenta pudding?

I am guessing there is a larger life lesson here.

Thursday, November 5, 2009


I took this photo last fall on Route 103 in the middle of nowhere. It is one of those visual non-sequitors that I love. Santa in Autumn?

I have been feeling unsettled as of late and I can't quite put my finger on it. But I do recognize the symptoms as they have cropped up for me periodically in my life. I keep buying stuff as if I am trying to fill a hole. I am aware of it but I still allow myself to do it because it tends to run its course after a certain dollar amount..... and when I realize it doesn't solve any problems.

But in the meantime...... my wardrobe has gotten a serious updating!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Beautiful Fall

Today is one of those under appreciated fall days. The kind that everyone gives short shrift to. It was grey and dreary- not even a breeze to portend the rain & snow heading our way this afternoon. The leaves have turned russet after their gaudy fall display. Everyone seems to have retreated inside. I love the damp coolness...... Welcome winter!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Killer Dog

I chose to park in a slightly different place that morning, thus changing my walk into work routine ever so slightly. Some construction has filled up the small side street where my business is located so I was a little distracted by the internal cursing in my head. "Why don't they ever think about the businesses they are disrupting? Would it kill them to not park all three major pieces of heavy equipment right in front of my entrance? If all 4 city workers choose to eat lunch on my stoop again complete with folding chairs and coolers spread out I am going to have to say something."

I barely noticed the small tug at the end of the leash tethering my precious little pooch Henry, but I did notice the shark like snap and cloud of feathers around him. Crunch, crunch. He was rolling the still peeping body of a sparrow around in his mouth trying to get a little traction to swallow the mouthful of bird. I don't know what I was thinking but I wrestled the bird from his mouth and left it on the sidewalk. Did I really think it would make it after such a mauling?

I know it is the way of the world... not so much eat or be eaten, but eat AND be eaten. There is many an animal in the woods who would make a quick snack of Henry or even me. But to be present at the dispatching is a little troubling. Was it cruel? No, it was swift and sure. It was also all instinct on his part. Food presented itself and he partook. I ,too, am a meat eater and understand that it means one less sentient creature in order to stoke my body. It is just one of those thoughts that rolls around and around in my head, not making sense.

And then I had chicken for dinner.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

I Need Some Of This

A couple of weeks ago I planned to meet my friend Annie for a girl's night in. I went to Manchester early to catch a show at the Currier Museum, then wasted an hour walking my dog around the old neighborhood before meeting Annie. I love the old homes and density of Manchester. I ended up at Wagner Park, which most people call Pretty Park. It is pretty- very formal and peaceful with an array of evergreens, paths and lovely iron benches.

My insides have been a swirl lately so Henry & I decided to finish up with a little meditation and sat on a bench. And right on the bench was this stone which reads "Peace is in You." It made me so happy. Someone left it there and I found it! And I could use a little of what it was espousing. I practically giggled.

I went to the other benches to see if there were more stones..... and there were! I picked up three more and put them in my pocket. Then I sat down to contemplate my bounty. "You are a pig for keeping this wealth all to yourself," I thought. I reluctantly placed the stones back on the benches where I found them, keeping only my red stone. "But you really like them and they mean something to you," I thought again. Sigh, how could I keep them and share the bounty? I went and picked up one more to give to my friend Annie and left the others for someone else.

I hope someone who needed to find those stones found theirs. I hope it was as meaningful to them as it was to me. Even if it wasn't meaningful, maybe it will bring them meaning some day.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Martha Graham

Henry performing a very Martha Graham-esque spin & swirl.

We went to see the Martha Graham Dance Company this past Thursday at the Dana Center at St Anselm College. It was a very educational experience. Normally that phrase has all sorts of negative connotations- as if you were being force fed information. In this instance education and dance worked well together.

The Artistic Director, Janet Eilber, spoke between each dance, which was also interspersed with historic films of Martha Graham herself dancing. Her first dance was in 1926. Graham was the originator of expressive modern dance, as we know it today. She used fabric and hair to accentuate the movements of the body and was not afraid of using awkward movements to convey an emotion. Graham was an American original and huge part of our cultural heritage. For these reasons it becomes important to "learn" about her. I enjoyed it thoroughly.

The dancers were good- performing historic pieces. Some of the dances felt dated- a little too melodramatic for modern sensibilities. Others felt fresh and as pertinent as any modern dance out there.

I suppose the biggest shocker for me was that Copland's Appalachian Spring was commissioned by Graham to create a wholly American dance. Having studied music as a young girl this tidbit of information was divorced from my performing it with a band. Graham also used Isamu Noguchi to design the sets for Appalachian Spring... and here I thought he was just a faboo furniture designer for Herman Miller and sometime sculptor.

Clearly I still have a lot to learn....

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Channeling My Inner Princess

I visited a friend last week and she asked the simple question- "Don't you ever do something without worrying what someone else will think?" I honestly answered "no." Bad answer.

Somehow the question rolled the conversation around to what you wear. Why can't we just be like little girls and wear the things that make us the happiest. We discussed throwing a party with the theme of "Princess" where everyone just puts on their favorite clothes with total disregard for matching, appropriateness and propriety. My role model would definitely be my four year old niece featured in the gallery of photos to the left..... she does a pretty mean monkey face.

The next morning I regarded my jewelry selection which included many rhinestone treasures from the boyfriend's vintage collection. I love looking at them but rarely wear them. Throwing caution and conventional taste to the winds I put on two pink rhinestone selections to adorn my periwinkle cashmere sweater.

My 8 AM meeting started with compliments for the jewelry and kept on up through the day. People loved the pin in particular- which is a real knock-out piece! I am thinking I need to put conventional tastes aside and pull out my red shoes and rhinestone jewelry a little more.

Viva La Princess!

Minor Rule of Life

Henry in his warm weather sleeping position. In the colder months he curls up into a fur muffin.

I have a little rule for myself: never walk past my dog without reaching down to pat him. It is not quite as obsessive as running back to the house to check if I turned off the coffee pot or tapping on a door frame three times before entering, but a rule nevertheless. Sometimes I forget and have to turn around to complete the task.

Why? You might ask........ if I didn't do it I would feel it was an opportunity lost. That could be an opportunity lost to express my affection for my dog or just a more general opportunity to reach out (literally) and change a moment.

Or I suffer from a mild form of ocd.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Cooking with Gas

Last night I left work a little early to make chile rellenos for my annual Mexican/birthday Fiesta in January. If you are a Capricorn you either embrace the season and throw a sliding party or you search the cuisine of the Southern Hemisphere to find an appropriate way to pretend the weather outside is balmy. As a young girl sliding parties seemed adequate. Now tequila & tamales seems a far better way to go. But, I digress....

We finally had a hard frost a couple of nights ago necessitating the garden purge. All fruits and vegetables were picked and shuttled to our house for safekeeping. This means everything needs to be eaten, frozen, cooked.... or composted. The poblano chile crop tipped the scales at about 1/3 bushel. That's a lot of chiles!

It is also a lot of chile rellenos. I roasted, skinned,and deseeded for about three hours. The on to the actual assembling. I stuffed them with Monterrey jack cheese, dipped them in egg and then dredged them in corn meal.... for a gluten free relleno. I fried. They cooled. Then I wrapped them all between layers of plastic wrap and into the freezer. My party will be in January.... it almost makes you long for winter!

Bon Apetit!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

I Had The Time of My Life

He isn't Patrick Swayze, but....

The other day at work my young colleague announced "I just have to say this. I am so sad that Patrick Swayze died. I just loved him in Dirty Dancing."

Really now. I did some math and then asked her if she was even born when it was made.

"Two years before- in 1985."

How did she know when this movie was made?!?!?

"Oh, I have a copy of it. All of my friends do."

I confessed I had never seen the movie so she generously lent it to me. Last night I watched it. The critics were right. It was a bad movie- hokey plots, bad lines, predictable outcomes. But I can see why the movie has staying power. Patrick Swayze is every girl's dream of the misunderstood, bad boy who really is noble, intuitive, sensitive and don't forget "Oh my God, look at that body!" While the movie was undeniably steamy, there was still a lot of innocence to it. The steamiest scenes were always on the dance floor. The film made me smile- right down to the oft quoted "Nobody puts Baby in a corner" and Swayze's athletic leap off a stage. I don't think a woman in the world would kick him out of bed for eating crackers.

I wonder how I had managed to never see this iconic film. Where was I in 1987? Perhaps I had just moved to Taos, New Mexico and was too hip to partake of the death knell of disco. But my youth is complete now that I have seen Dirty Dancing. And I, too, am sad that Patrick Swayze died.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Back on the No-Wheat Wagon


So for a brief couple of months my body was all copacetic with the ingestion of all things gluten. After almost 10 years of intolerance of the stuff I went on a bender. I was eating bagels! And real pasta! Cookies! I suppose if it had tasted better I would have eaten whole bags of flour.

Of course- old habits die hard. I couldn't seem to remember that I could make sandwiches with bread instead of rice cakes. I continued to eat my cheese and crackers without the crackers.

Then things started going a little haywire about a month ago. My lower legs started itching wildly, then my torso. Red dots broke out and I had scratched my legs raw in some areas. My knee and ankle joints hurt to the point where I curtailed my walking. These things could be chalked up to an over active imagination prone to hypochondria. Then the other shoe dropped.... constant diarrhea.

I had a final bagel and called it quits. I was back on the no-wheat wagon. Within two weeks my symptoms have disappeared. With a quick shrug of the shoulders I have accepted my fate. I am going to miss all that good stuff, but worse things in life have happened. I have already been through the experimenting stage to see what makes a good gluten free muffin, how to pack a satisfying lunch and how to find GF snacks in convenience stores for the occasional hunger attack. I'll live.

I suppose I should be thankful for my brief reprieve.

Monday, September 7, 2009

A Quick Look-See

Nothing too special going on the garden beyond its usual wonderfulness. Although it could be mistaken for Versailles, what with all the weeding, sculpting & primping I have been doing. I am still loving this new sculpture.

My hydrangea didn't bloom very well this year. I experimented by cutting it all back to the ground this past fall. That could be its problem. Or the lack of sunshine coupled with too much rain this summer could be the cause of its non-performance. Not a huge loss (like the Rose Chafer Beetles eating my Peonies), but something to be noted.

This is the best Hosta I own. Its gold color, seer-sucker leaves and sheer size make it a knock out. I wish I knew what variety it was, but many of my Hostas were saved an ignominious death in a formerly well tended garden going quickly to ruin.

I love fall.

Ode to the Garden's Bounty

It is that time of year when everything is looking mighty tempting in the boyfriend's garden. The tomato plants were really whipped by a blight from all the rain but still managed to produce. They look a bit pathetic with so few leaves but are covered with the most important thing- big, juicy tomatoes!

These are some winter squash that are as big as bowling balls. I LOVE winter squash almost as much as I love my new Helenium!

The fenced off area where we keep the compost operation doubles as a grape arbor. This year the vines have crept right across the top creating a green gate way. It looks in to some old broccoli plants. If I squint my eyes a bit I can pretend I am in a French cottage garden.

Every year the boyfriend worries that the Poblano Peppers will not pull through, but this year looks to be another bumper crop. They are a favorite of mine. Their earthy and slightly piquant flavor makes the best Chile Rellenos.

He grows lots of things just for me- beets are one of them. They are a lot of work to prepare and cook, but they are a childhood food memory for me that makes me smile. These are the size of softballs!

I think I'll go eat!

New Love

I was consulting with a neighbor/friend, who happens to be one of my gallery artists (whose show is opening this coming Friday- shameless plug!), about extending the garden at our local library. We both love gardening and are quite serious about it. Perhaps one of these days I will do a post on her charming gardens.

After a little poking in the soil to determine that tree roots will keep us from doing several things, she suggested that we do a little field trip to a traffic circle in a neighboring town. Just 200 feet up the road she had an even better suggestion. "There is a tiny little nursery called Robert's Greenhouse in a tiny little town. " The nursery is so tiny that it doesn't even have its own website. So away to Webster, NH we drove.

It had a field full of sheep panting in the September sun to keep my dog occupied and a fine selection of good looking plants. Despite the freeze on my plant buying budget I broke down and bought this Red & Gold Sneezeweed- I prefer the more sophisticated name of Helenium. Its beautiful velvety red flowers made me weak in the knees.

It took me two days to decide where its permanent home would be..... next to my low blue spruce. The rusty red is a perfect foil for the blue green. I am in love. Who knew at this age?

Friday, September 4, 2009

Night Walk

This time of year is so pretty as the day turns into night. Fog rolls in. The skies are so clear and full of stars. The humidity no longer weighs down every step.

This is the field next to my house looking towards Bald Sunapee, my very still windmill and the moon illuminating my driveway.

Ahhh..... fall!

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

The boyfriend has been pestering me to customize his old beater pick-up with agricultural plates for quite some time. He uses it to pick up hay, manure, etc.

Looks pretty speedy- aye? Covers up some rust too.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The End Game

I was going to take another photo because this one is blurry. I probably forgot the flash. Somehow I thought it was apropos.

I went to see my new dentist. Nothing too terribly wrong was discovered. I need to have two old fillings replaced, but no big deal.

My gums are in decent condition too, with no signs of periodontal disease- Phew! They stick a probe in between your gums and teeth and do measurements of the "pockets" all the time muttering numbers to themselves "1,2,1,1,1,1,2,3,2,3,1,1." It sounds like an oceanographer doing a sounding for depths of the Continental Shelf or something.

But there were some recommendations.

Despite the good readings she said that I could reverse the "3's" with more regular flossing. She also noted that I had some self-inflicted gum recession due to overly vigorous and improper back and forth motion with my brush. She highly recommended an electric toothbrush.

My whole life I have avoided any sort of electrical appliance for a task that can just as easily be done manually. The selling of these ridiculous appliances somehow feels both gimicky and like a conspiracy of the electric company to create more demand- can openers, food bag sealers, air freshener dispensers- Jeesh!

On the other hand, I feel like I am reaching the end game. I am not old, but I am not young either. If this electric toothbrush will keep my teeth and gums healthier than I will swallow my pride, stand at my sink every morning with a vibrating stick stuck in my mouth and chalk it up to progress. I need to preserve what I have.

Next stop- eye exam.

Mistakes Are Good!

This post could be construed as a direct follow up to my previous post.

Two Autumns ago in a fit of laziness experimentation I decided to use the lawn mower to put this large patch of Clara Curtis Mums to bed for the year. The following gardening season I had a rather sparse and unusually uneven display. In my defense, Clara Curtis Mums are famous for their raggedy displays- they grow at uneven heights and bloom in a very patchy pattern.

But this year- behold! The patch is almost uniformly in bloom and at a (relatively) consistent height.

The problem with this method is it only gives you a good display every other year. Or perhaps this patch required the invigorating buzz cut? Perhaps I'll have a lovely display for a few years running?

I feel an experiment coming in.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Failure of Imagination

I have a friend, maybe even friends, who are dealing with big decisions. It is heart breaking to hear about and watch. The anguish is sometimes too much for me.

Like a lot of women, I want to make it better, but can't. To top it all off I am not a particularly demonstrative person so I am guessing my friends look at me as the rational one. I tend to offer solutions to help people through the maze.... no doubt exposing the two semesters of graduate school when I thought I wanted to be a counselor.

It all makes me think of decisions gone awry in my own life. I think some choices were due to a real failure of imagination. I have made choices I can only regret; paths not taken because I couldn't envision the possible outcome. I have to wonder why I chose things that didn't take advantage of the most I have to offer... and the best that I could be.

My fallback position is the status quo.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Love My Dog

When my dog is happy his tail doesn't just wag. It goes in circles like a helicopter- like when he is hunting mice or sees me walk down the stairs every morning.

How can you not love that?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Of Art, Fashion and Gardening


This is a photo of the garden about a mile from my house. The photo was taken about a year and some ago. The gentleman who planted the garden finally made the choice to put himself in assisted living. A middle aged couple bought the house late this spring. Immediately the blasphemy began.

First let me describe what makes this garden so special. Its maker was so restrained in his design focusing on textures, specifically the textures of evergreens: picea, mugo pines, dwarf spruce, golden thujas, juniper. The shades of green- from blue to yellow- were stunning. He then created sparkle by dropping in heaths and heathers. The dainty blossoms of pink & purple were about all the excitement this garden could stand. It was elegance defined- and all by an amateur gardener!

The new owners' blasphemy included digging out a stand of red twigged dogwood, which provided winter interest, to put in a circle of white phlox, Star Gazer Lilies, birdbath & gazing ball. Each of these things on their own, or perhaps in a different setting, would be fine. In this garden of cool contrasts and restrained elegance it felt an awful lot like like bringing a Vegas showgirl to a society cotillion.


The other day I had three older women come into my gallery- a private reunion for some Wellesley roommates. Each of them were dressed so superbly. They were each aware of their body types, body limitations and what might come across as too trendy as opposed to stylish. Their accessories were perfect. They has the most beautiful jewelry- not too much! Just the right amount. Even their make up was not noticeable next to the fine shine of their natural assets.

Where do women learn to dress like this? Wellesley?


For years I have pondered the differences are between good art and bad art. Don't expect the answer in this post. Philosophers have been pondering it for millennium. Don't expect a Podunk NH art dealer to answer the big question.

I have noticed that good artists apply their paint (or whatever medium) with confidence. The tentative stroke is for those who haven't spent time, time, time developing a masterful one. Please don't ask me to describe a good stroke. I have had this conversation with many artists I respect who are equally mystified by trying to describe it. We fall back on the old trope of "I know it when I see it."

Along with the confidence in knowing how to apply one's medium comes the confidence to know when to stop. The amateur cannot resist fixing just one more thing. This almost always comes at the expense of the painting. It becomes over worked and muddy, the strokes become labored and wooden, the frustration mounts and it all becomes clear on the canvas. A good painting feels effortless and will sing with a sort of internal vibrancy.


I aspire to achieve the heights in all of these categories- art, fashion and gardening. I don't think I am shallow but that visual things give me huge pleasure and satisfaction. The world is interpreted through my eyes. I don't think many people see me as particularly fashionable, but I look for clothes that complement me and make me comfortable and feel good. I would like to think I cut a reasonably stylish figure. Some people might think me an art snob and others an art novice. I enjoy it at my level but am not afraid to reach for the next. My gardening is probably my most wooden achievement. Like many amateur artists I get caught up in the details at the expense of the big picture.

As I have stated before refinement come with paring back rather than adding more. Edit!

Edging Redux

So here are the images of my hard day's labor. I only edged about 1/4 of this garden but it is the most visible and cherished section.

Edging involves taking the edge of the garden out about 6-8" from its current edge and then shaking all of the precious soil out of the sod. Sometimes this requires allowing the sod to bake in the sun to dry out the soil so that it shakes loose more easily. After a day of this my hands cramp up from clawing at the sod to rip it up and banging/shaking it to within an inch of its life. 93 degree weather is perfect for this sort of task- sweating aside.

It is a constant battle as the lawn is always encroaching on the garden, but an extremely satisfying chore- for me. (Some people might think it was work.) It is very clear where the lawn ends and the garden begins. The right curves are also essential- they add to the overall look of the garden. Ultimately mowing will be easier too as I won't have to be so cautious about what I am brushing up against and giving an inadvertent haircut. All the plants are set safely back.

Of course, being on my hands and knees at eye level with all of my foliar friends allows me to see and then pluck every weed that stands in between me and perfect order.
Onward Christian Soldiers! Although I think it is cleanliness that is next to Godliness, not weed-freeliness.

Sunday, August 16, 2009


Too tired to take a new photo- this is from 2008.

Edged for most of the day. 'Nuff said. Too tired to write.

Saturday, August 15, 2009


Black-Eyed Susans hiding amidst the yarrow.

It is that time of year when gardens can look their tattiest. The heat is oppressive and (usually) there isn't enough rain to keep things lush. All the plants are tired of kicking up the chlorophyll to keep their leaves a deep, dark green- instead they are a spotty yellow.

Once again- due to a summer of abnormally high rain fall- things are not too bad. The lawn is thick and lovely. The plants are still standing erect. My personal battle- Black-Eyed Susans.

I have always had a problem with pulling a plant in the wrong location that is otherwise healthy and desirable. It seems to have a right to live and blossom. The Black Eyed Susans grow wild. They pop up in my yard and garden. Today was a day of ruthlessly pulling them out. Order was restored and I am happy.

The garden was beginning to have that overall sameness with lack of definition. Everywhere you looked was another sunny yellow flower with a brown eye. Editing is hard but in the end the product is easier to look at and understand.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Love My Dog

I love that when my dog has fallen asleep before I remove his harness and collar he won't lift a paw to help me. it is like trying to take a sleeping child out of their clothes and put them into pajamas- dead weight.

I suppose this might pass for a maternal feeling- aye?

Friday, August 7, 2009

Toad Jerky

Pardon my hiatus.

I have been working on training my dog quite a bit recently. With the aid of a harness I have gotten him to stop pulling the leash while we walk. His other annoying habit is to go berserk whenever he sees another dog- in particular Yellow Labs.

I am not sure about his previous life but Yellow Labs must have played a big and sinister role in it because he twists, turns, snarls and barks when he sees them. And we see one almost every morning on our walk. It was a good opportunity to train him. It has taken almost a year but I can get him to sit and just whine a little when this dog goes by. It isn't perfect but it is a huge improvement.

My next goal is to get him to come when called. I figured this would take a treat so delicious that his head would snap if I pulled one out of my pocket. I bought some freeze dried 100% liver treats- but they only made him throw up. As you can see by the photo milk bones and Rodz Pawz Chicken Treats leave him cold. The thing he seems to really respond to is road kill.

I was relaying my training dilemma to my brother. I said that road kill seems to be Henry's favorite treat. He suggested I was missing a huge marketing opportunity by not developing a really stinky treat made from road kill or better yet, horse manure- Henry's two favorite food groups.

As we were walking the other morning Henry was able to snarf up an old dried up toad from the road before I could stop him and the perfect name for this training treat leaped into my head- Toad Jerky. Toad Jerky anyone?

Monday, July 13, 2009

Across A Crowded Room....

I was astride my trusty steed. The sun raking obliquely across the field of oats (or maybe not). When suddenly our eyes locked and we both stood still. Unable to speak.... to name what was happening to the both of us. It was, it was..... it was.....

The perfect combination: Butterfly Blue Delphinium and Purple Smoke Bush. I had to turn off the engine of my riding mower, dismount and get a closer look. Electric blue and deep, dusky purple.

Thank you Oscar Hammerstein.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Two Girls Eating

My friend, Michelle, is an interpreter for the historic Wentworth Coolidge Mansion in Portsmouth. We took a lunch break together- for which she provided lunch. I am apt to eat peanut butter on bananas or whatever is easy & available. Michelle packs fruit salad, chocolate and Manchego cheese.

Now that is a lunch fit for girls!

That is Michelle's "What the hell are you doing? " face.

Monday, July 6, 2009


Sometimes too much is, well, too much.

Louise and her friend Lori came over to my garden expressly to rape and pillage, but only in the friendliest of ways. Lori recently lost her garden to a divorce and I am all about helping women to get their gardening mojo back after something as undesirable as a divorce and all of the financial set backs that go with them.

So I let go of a lot of day lilies, silver king artemesia, catmint, campmanula glomerata (clustered bell flower to those who flunked Latin), Egyptian onion, echinacea, my beloved Coronation Gold yarrow and on and on. Although Lori drew the line at hosta.... "I like everything but hosta" which sounded suspiciously like Tigger announcing that Tiggers like everything but thistle.

Where I am going with this is that I am always so selfish about my plants. I have a hard time digging, dividing and then giving away. Just ask my boyfriend. I won't even let him cut flowers from the garden. But after letting go of some of my plants I was surprised that my garden didn't look denuded. As a matter of fact, It looked refreshed and even under control.

I took the hint so the next day I moved a few ladies mantle and hostas from the front of the house to a new garden, ripped out some egyptian onions that were in the wrong place. It felt less packed in and the individual plants were allowed to shine.

So many gardeners fall in love with this plant and that plant and cease to see how they work together. Plants are stuffed in where ever the fit. I am slowly creating swathes of certain plants to make a larger visual display- meant to be seen from the distances that my yard offers. It means eliminating things that don't live up to their promise or don't look good or just look too meager. It is a lesson I occasionally brush up against in the rest of my life too.

In the words of a Scottish museum guard to me after I elbowed my way to front of a line (unknowingly)- "Bash on, lassie. Bash on." And don't forget to let go.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Time For A Tune Up

Sometimes when my dog is walking it looks like his front tie-rods are shot. Do cars even have tie-rods anymore?

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Falling Off the Wagon, So To Speak....

If you need some great photos to illustrate this post- go here. But I suspect this is an image we all keep deep in our minds... right next to nude celebrities.

For almost ten years being a celiac has defined my life, or at the very least defined my diet. I have been unable to eat wheat, oatmeal, rye, spelt, barley or any of the other grass based grains. Admittedly I am self diagnosed... but only after multiple specialists either gave me a perfunctory once over and announced IBD or others who ran me through a battery of upper GI's and any other humiliating probe they could think of before shrugging their shoulders and saying "IBD." Cutting gluten out of my diet had given me the greatest amount of relief from my symptoms.

In mid-April I had yet another major (for me) medical crisis and had to have a tooth pulled. The tooth had grown into my sinus where it had caused an infection in my jaw. There was a good chance this had been an infection for quite sometime. Within days I noticed that things were, shall we say, quite regular. Over the years I had experienced occasional, albeit brief periods of digestive normalcy but to experience such an extended period of things working as the textbooks say they should - unheard of!

Days, weeks and then months passed without terrible pain in my stomach. My curiosity piqued I tried a bagel. I waited 4 days. Then I tried another. Still no problem. Since then I have tried any number of things which usually have me running in the other direction- pasta, bread, cookies.

We have started incorporating wheat products into our evening meals.... and one of those meals I have dreamed of for years is Macaroni & Cheese. This is a lowly pleasure from childhood- neither fancy nor precious. It was served frequently but was always welcome. Tonight the boyfriend & I made it together....

It has been so long since I cooked anything like this I have forgotten how it is made. He definitely had his ideas about how it should be done. While there is no such thing as bad Mac & Cheese- there are only degrees of goodness, I have a fondness for my mother's way of cooking everything to just shy of burnt. The top should be very crunchy and the brown of mahogany. The interior should be thick & cheesy.

I think gluten/wheat does not agree with me 100%... sort of the way I get canker sores if I eat too much citrus, but it is definitely back in my diet. I think I shall start experimenting with the best Mac & Cheese Evar'. The better to sooth my dainty stomach.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

If Some Is Good, More Is Better

I have addressed garden ornamentation recently so I thought I would write a little ode to my boyfriend's style of ornamentation.

His ornamentation philosophy runs towards those things that move and thus scare away vegetable & fruit predators ... like these saber tooth Cedar Waxwings that think domesticated strawberries, which are in a convenient patch, are much easier hunting than those little, indigenous ones that are spread hither and thither over our acreage.

This is the strawberry patch which has a spinning poly-Cardinal and a poly-Peacock that sort of limps as it lost a few tail feathers. The garden also has two dangling, plastic, spinny things and a faux owl. As you can see we have also posted Henry out there to work for his dinner by keeping any marauding chipmunks at bay.

The boyfriend's other penchant is for gargoyles. These serve to keep out the evil spirits- both in general and for the gardens. We have them inside the house too. Actually the big guy in the patch of Campanula Glomerata is my personal gargoyle purchased pre-boyfriend so clearly I also felt a need for a little spiritual look out.