Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Holiday(s) Cheer

Somehow, I made it to the 23rd, semester's work done, and we left for Maine that day.  Since then, there's been some activity, some rest.  For today, a post on holiday celebrations.

Of course, we have been lighting Chanukah candles and exchanging gifts:

But we also had a pretty spectacular Christmas, for a household that doesn't "celebrate" Christmas.  We got unexpected snow (about 3-4 inches) that fell in gentle, big flakes most of the day.  We had a quiet, cozy, enjoyable day.

We also made a Festivus pole (look it up, if you don't remember).  I talked the kids into a quick "feats of strength" with the pole itself, rather than arm wrestling.

What were your favorite holiday celebrations this year?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Comic Relief

Today has been non-stop: grading, meetings, Chanukah preparations.  The rest of the week promises more of the same rushing. 

The only thing to do, in a case like this, is to escape in a little humor...brought to us by my beloved Anya.

After all, who can resist a cow-cat?

Wishing you all comic relief in the midst of madness.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Lessons from my hair

I'm growing out my hair.  It's annoying.  This morning, while trying to get it to look somewhat normal at an awkward stage, I thought:

"My hair looks better cut short, but having to work on it so much doesn't suit my life."  Thus, I am growing it out.

Then it occurred to me: this is the same attitude that I need to develop toward my body. 

Where can you choose what suits you rather than what "looks good" to others?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

In MY kitchen

One of the blogs that I often read ( had a post today on "In the Kitchen"...full of holiday baking, winter cooking, and home-grown stores.  So cozy and sweet.

So, what's in MY kitchen?

A mess. 
Remnants of the easiest possible meals we can make while Howard and I are both swamped at work.
Another damned book for me to try to get reviewed.
Wine that's turned to vinegar.
Goyishe art projects that Anya brings home from school.

And, not far away, in the dining room:

Evidence of work in progress.  And, of course, more mess.

Hey, it's finals time and I'm also reviewing job search files.  You were, perhaps, expecting holiday cheer? 

Bah.  Humbug. 

If I make it, alive, to December 23, it will be a minor miracle. 

So, what's in YOUR kitchen?

Friday, December 9, 2011


(Anya and Dad holding hands)

Today marks two years since my Dad died.  This year, how about some of his most famous kinds of sayings?  Some of these are verbatim, while others capture the gist of the kind of things he would say.

1. After a meal, especially Sunday dinner at mid-day, Dad would say "I hate to say it, Martha, but that was a good meal."  (Thank you to Kevin for reminding me about that two years ago!)

2. Dad used to say "Not all of us can be chiefs; someone's got to be an Indian."  Okay, not PC, I admit.  But, it was Dad's way of explaining that it's okay to be...ordinary, not to be at the top all the time.  I think it's how he made sense of and took pride in his own life, though I doubt he would have seen it that way himself.

3. Dad used to advise me that it's better to have a machine with fewer parts, simpler.  Less likely to break.  Good point, Dad.

4. As the years passed, one of his standard lines was "It's hell to get old, but it beats the alternative."  (Thanks for beating the alternative, Dad.)

5. Okay, I don't have a line for this, but it bears saying that my Dad used to tell WWII stories all the time.  Not serious stuff, weird stuff.  The one about time he and his buddies stole a German generator comes to mind (they were drunk). 

6. Dad used to say that workers/democrats have supper at 5:00.  The wealthy/republicans have dinner at 7:00.  You guessed it: we ate supper at 5:00. 

I still miss you, Dad.

What lines remind you of your Dad?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Playing with Fire

While in Maine, I lit my first fires.  I know: it's strange that I managed to get to the ripe old age of 46 without having made one. 

My first fire failed.  I gave up for the night and felt completely demoralized.  I was already a bit overwhelmed by actually being in the house and facing all the work ahead of us.  I was convinced that I would never be able to measure up to my own expectations.  How could I live the life I want if I can't even figure out lighting a damned fire?

The next day, with more patience (and remembering more about how others had started fires in my presence), I succeeded.  The fire glowed and the wood stove eventually warmed the room...and much of the downstairs.  It was the coziest I'd ever felt in a home of my own, and the kids were mesmerized by the flames as they listened to a book on CD that evening.

And I gained confidence.  Maybe, just maybe, I can find my way to the kind of life that I really want to be living...and by just being me, not by trying to be like anyone else.  There might even be hope for me in the garden one of these years--though I'm not entirely convinced of that yet.  But, I'll keep trying. 

What experiences have built your confidence and determination lately?

Sunday, November 27, 2011


After a precarious start, we spent a few days in Maine over the long weekend.  I'm sure there will be many posts to come on this experience, as it had a deep impact on me in ways both expected and unexpected.  For now, just a few photographic highlights.

Ikea furniture was the call of the day/s.  It left behind a lot of allen wrenches.

Cozy spots are starting to take shape:

Some of the views are great (though the sea views will largely be lost when the leaves come back in spring):

And, of course, some Thanksgiving traditions were maintained:

(for those who can't make this out, the farmer is holding up a calendar, and the pig is exclaiming "so long, sucker!")

And yes, the tub was to die for.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Relaxing into Thanksgiving

My plan for the upcoming long  weekend is to spend as much of it as possible with a view similar to this one:

(That, of course, would be the view while sitting in the bathtub in our new house in Maine.)

This Thanksgiving I am grateful for so very, very much.  But perhaps most of all I am thankful to be at a mindful crossroads, with many wonderful options to explore.

What are you grateful for these days?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Some Days Don't Turn Out Like You'd Expect

I'm tired today, so I'll let Sam's art-story "speak" for itself.

(My, What a beautiful day it is!)

(Don't count on it, they say there is going to be some bad weather.)

(What kind of weather?  Oh, bad weather.)


I'm not sure which I like better: the dinosaur with the backwards baseball cap or the optimistic T-Rex.  

Friday, November 11, 2011

It's Ours!

It started last summer as an idea: a place to go to relax.  No big planning required, just go.  Have more quiet.  Spend more time with the kids.  Regenerate before returning to the madness of our daily lives.  Ideas of a cabin by a lake (too buggy) turned into thoughts of a cottage near ocean (perfect!).  Before we knew it, we found a house we loved...and yesterday we closed on it.  It's ours. 

Every step in this process has been illuminating.  There were serious conversations about money, of course...but even those blended into discussions of what we want our lives to be about, how we want to live, where we are and want to be going.  The craving for more quiet and slowness has predominated those discussions.  Oddly, making this huge new purchase got us to think about simplifying: we have cut far back on stuff we were paying for but don't really use much, or value (phone and cable services, stuff we buy, money we spend without thinking about it, stuff in the house we don't use).  Eventually, we decided that this house is just right for us and where we are and what we want.  And the point, really, was to spend money, time, and energy on what will add value to our lives.

We started out looking for a house to escape to on weekends and occasional weeks.  The house we found is one we plan to spend every summer in, from the time the kids get out of school until it's almost time for them (and me) to return to it.  Along the way, somehow, this also became a house that we are considering if/when we want to take that next step, to a permanent change to a simpler lifestyle, with less full-time madness. 

I am, as always, impatient to know how it will all turn out.  But, Howard keeps reminding me to stay in the moment and enjoy what it is, right now. 

I think we're going to like this cozy cottage of a house.  Rest assured, more pictures to come as we settle into it!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Baby Business

...They're now selling babies online! (Who edits this stuff, anyway?)

Then again: maybe this is what they're planning on doing in Mississippi if the "Personhood" referendum passes and they have an over-abundance of babies around...

(Today's post is what happens when Howard and I put our heads together...not sure what that says about us.)

What poor editing makes you laugh?

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Some Current Favorites

It's October, so life is rushed.  The madness (that won't be over until mid December) has begun, and my work is literally piling up around me.

Meantime, I thought it would be nice to pause and reflect on some of my "favorite" stuff right now.

1. This photo of Howard. 

2. Anya's book making.

3. The Sisters Grimm, book 6: Tales from the Hood.

4. Dreams of this bathtub.

5. Sam's origami that we hung from the ceiling (that's actually been around for a while, but I find myself noticing it often these days).

The days are exhausting, and I never seem to catch up. But, at least there are a few favorite things that keep lift my spirits from time to time...

What are your favorite things lately?

Monday, October 3, 2011

October in New England

It's that time of year: full-fledged fall in New England.  Is there anything more beautiful?  It is, admittedly, my favorite season of the year.  It makes me think of:

1) Apples and pumpkins and all sorts of squashes.

2) A return to baking: apple crisp, spice breads, wheat bread.
3) Stomping through leaves (make noise!).

4) A cozy house and reading or telling stories.
5) Long walks in brisk weather.
6) Hearty soups and stews returning to our cooking repertoire.

Unfortunately, October is also the busiest month of the fall semester in academia.  That means I won't get to go out for walks, or bake, or snuggle in the house, nearly as much as I want right now.  Sigh.

Still, it is beautiful.

What do you love about autumn?