A Midsummer Lights Dream

Ah, the beauty of summer, with its never ending warm, sunshine filled days that entice us to take the long way home and drink in the cocktail of colors.  Where annuals and perennials conspire with wildflowers to present us with a symphony of sights that are in a constant state of transformation is where I have chosen to reside. In fact, I have become so enraptured with this season, I have all but forgotten to share it with you.

Bijou Blanket brimming with color

 

Fuchsia Zinnia

 

 

 Rudbekia, a staple in our garden

 

Queen Anne's Lace

 

 Periwinkle Wildflowers

 

‘Tis the season to bring the indoors out, and enjoy every moment from dawn till dusk and beyond.  So, as the sun disappears and gives way to the cool breezes that usher in starry nights, Irwin and I like to add our own brand of illumination: candlelight.

 

 

Breathtaking Sunsets

  

What can be more enchanting on a tranquil summer evening than the warm glow of candlelight?

 

 

Simply Enchanting

 

 

We know only too well how instrumental candles are in setting the proper mood either indoors or out during any season, but candlelight outdoors during summer is absolutely sublime.                                                                                                                                                          

            

A real Connection  

                                                                                                    

A star is born

It is the season of infinite possibilities so use your imagination.  Many found objects in your home can be the perfect vessel for a candle or tea light.  An old lantern that we purchased our first summer in the house sits along side an inverted vintage capiz shell lampshade that houses a candle.

Our 1st lantern, previously owned by Betsey Johnson

 

While we employ a variety of candles, we particularly love using tea lights because they are small and can be placed in a wide array of vessels.  Additionally, these short burning beauties are readily available and extremely inexpensive.  

Shades of light

 

We have a collection of glasses that we taped and frosted ten years ago for a family event.  We continue to enjoy them especially during the summer.

 

Ten years....and still going strong

 

And a vintage silverplate bowl we picked up at a tag sale many years ago has served a multitude of uses, most recently as a candle holder.

Vintage Silverplate shedding new light 

 

And until a better solution comes along,  it is absolutely necessary to integrate citronella candles into the mix.

 

 

Citronella helps take the bite out of a summer evening

 

The possibilities are endless and only limited by your imagination.  So make the most of every evening,

 

 Divine illumination

 

 

All Aglow

 

   

Moonlight

 

and this weekend, as the fireflies make their special brand of magic in the moonlit sky, make a little magic of your own and create a Midsummer Lights Dream.

 

Pure Magic

 

 

How Green is Our Garden

Our Modern Garden is almost three weeks old and like most new parents, we are simply over the moon.  Our hearts are bursting with pride and our fledgling farm is flourishing.

 We arrived last weekend just in time to pick a substantial amount of lettuce, arugula, basil, spinach and parsley. 

        

A bed of Lettuces

  
The seeds planted are sprouting like mad and we anxiously await picking the radishes as well as the beets, which appear to be making quite a bit of headway while the carrots, cucumbers and sweet basil are still in-utero, so to speak.

 

sprouting seedlings

 

The menu reflected our current harvest and included:

Fresh Mozzarella, tomato and arugula sandwiches with olive oil and garlic on a fresh farm store baguette.

 

Baguette with Fresh garden basil

 

A wonderful mixed greens and arugula salad with goat cheese, beets ( not from our garden yet) and toasted slivered almonds.

 

Arugula salad

 

A delicious frittata  using garden spinach and basil along with feta cheese, tomatoes, peppers, mushroom and just a bit of mozzarella.

Fabulous frittata

 

 

And finally, with our garden greens all but picked we combined the remaining spinach, arugula and basil to make a fantastic pasta with pesto and sun dried tomatoes.

 Trifecta Pesto

 

 

With the weekend almost here and the plants replenished, some new "farm to table" dishes are sure to be on the menu.

 

And, have we mentioned our latest guests?

I awoke this morning to find this family of five woodchucks.  The parent was foraging on our lawn as the four babies lounged on the porch steps, posed for family photos and went exploring in our flower beds.  I'm hoping they graze on the lawn like their parent and not on out plants.

 

Proud Parent

 

Just Chillin'

 

brotherly love

 


Say Cheese

 

Enjoy the weekend!

 

In A Flash

As I sit at the kitchen table staring once again at a gray sky and winds whipping leaves around the driveway I am reminded that although the calendar says spring, the thermostat says, well…something else. 

Spring is revealing itself daily

 

Feeling more like Thanksgiving than Passover/Easter, it is nice to see that despite the brisk temperature, spring is revealing itself daily.  And today, as we celebrate Earth Day, I relish the fact that I am privileged to be spending it in the country with Irwin, our youngest son and especially with Charlie. 

Charlie is delighted to be welcoming spring with us

 

Last Friday Irwin, Charlie and I left the Gallery in the early afternoon and headed for the country.  Although it was too cool to drive with the top down, I was just happy that the temperature was above freezing and no precipitation was in the immediate forecast.  The first blooms of the season were making their debut and we were anxious to spend some time drinking in the glorious weather.

After dropping our bags and putting away the food, we grabbed a couple of frosty beers and headed out.  On the way, as is my ritual, I checked on the nest outside our front door and was beyond thrilled to discover it had a new addition already built and a lovely expectant couple preparing it for the season.  This was a good sign. 

A new addition on last year's nest

We settled into our weathered Adirondack chairs and were transfixed by the cacophony of sights and sounds of the season.  I was struck by the seemingly simple yet extraordinary fact that each spring season, like a snowflake, looks the same, but in fact there are no two that are exactly alike.

Irwin enjoying communing with nature

 

A perfect place

 

Heading inside for a refill, I walked by my laptop and wrote:

 

And at that very second I heard Irwin scream “Charlie, come back here”.

What was just a serene moment of enjoyment and reflection was instantly transformed into one of absolute panic and chaos. As I headed to the porch door, I caught a glimpse of Irwin running across the lawn and reversed directions heading out the mudroom door to the driveway.  While in hot pursuit, Irwin screamed that Charlie, our senior dog with disc problems, had taken off after a fox.  Charlie was nowhere to be found as Irwin headed past the future location of our garden and into the woods screaming Charlies name. 

into the woods

 

Thinking that Charlie might be headed for the road, I flew down the driveway, still in my heeled boots screaming his name, hoping that the approaching car did not hit him.  But there was no Charlie in sight and at that moment, the all too painful reality struck me like a boulder.

a long way in heels

 

I continued to scream Charlies name and Irwin’s as well because I could no longer hear him.  I ran up the steep grass covered hill thinking that perhaps Irwin, who had been having chronic back issues, might have injured himself while hunting for Charlie.  As my breathing quickened I hoped that my ascent would compensate for that morning's missed cardio session while not give me a heart attack.  Amazing what runs through your mind at moments like these.

the path of my troubled ascent

 

 

these boots were made for Walking NOT running

 

When I reached the top of the hill and still could not hear or see either Irwin or Charlie absolute terror set in and I had difficulty catching my breath (which I must say, in retrospect could have been caused by my poor cardio skills) and I felt almost as if I was having an out-of-body experience.

Back in the driveway, I was welcomed with silence and my panic ensued.  I continued to yell Irwin & Charlies names in vain while conjuring up painful images in my mind.

Just at that moment I heard Irwin shriek: “You get back here right now” and saw Irwin and Charlie emerge from the woods.  What in reality was less than five minutes seemed like painful eons.   It was hard to imagine Charlie, who has difficulty jumping on the bed sometimes, taking off at lightening speed, but nevertheless, he did.  It was even more difficult to comprehend that he could have been lost or worse.

 The lessons learned are plentiful and obvious but still worth repeating.  Savor each moment rain or shine.  Life is finite and even the best laid plans can change in a flash. 

As I sit here typing with Charlie at my side and our guest snuggled in her nest, the sun has made a brief appearance and the Magnolia is on the cusp of blooming.  And I am grateful to be able to share this happy ending.

Our guest in her nest

 

our beloved magnolia

 

Happy Earth Day, Passover & Easter!

 

Spring's Bouquet Awaits

If you have been a reader of our blog, you know how much Irwin and I love our country lifestyle; how we bask in the glow of that simpler slow home life surrounded by the beauty of nature in every season.  And while we adore every moment we are able to spend there, I have to admit that returning to the country this past weekend was slightly depressing.  While we were the ones who practically hearkened the plague of Snow Days that befell us this winter, we have exceeded a point of satiation and are longing to see grass, however brown or soggy it may be.

When we arrived in the country we were greeted with exceedingly muddy roads bordered by massive banks of blackened snow.  Our patio, still buried in gray frozen matter, revealed the season’s wrath with our spun fiberglass table literally crushed from snow weight and the glass top of our bar precariously perched on winter’s muddled remains.

Remains of the season: Crushed

 

 

Design: Fallen Asunder

 

But the temperature was above freezing and although the pervasive dreariness seemed to hearken back to an early English Gothic novel, rain was on the way and with it the long awaited, much overdue disappearing act of the snow.

As promised, it rained throughout the night as well as the following day, which included our entire ride back to the city.  So imagine our surprise when the alarm company called us the following morning to advise us of a power outage in the country. It seemed that the rain turned into snow and ice, devastating our entire area and leaving almost three hundred homes without power.  The highly anticipated cleansing promised by the foul weather turned into an ice storm with trees and power lines down.

A bleak trip

 

 

a wet welcome

 

 

 

A Hauntingly beautiful yet destructive surprise

photo courtesy of  J.Debonis

 

Three days have passed and we are still awaiting power restoration, which has already been pushed back four times.  We are desperately hoping to avoid receiving that dreaded “low temperature” call from the alarm company and the possibility of frozen pipes as well as extensive damage.

Which brings me to my much-circumvented point: Life is unpredictable. There are so many things we have little or no control over on a daily basis.  What we do know for sure is that we must embrace all that we have, hold on to our seats and hang on for the ride, taking the wheel whenever possible and ALWAYS wearing our seat belts.

Despite the length and severity of this winter, spring will indeed arrive EVENTUALLY, and with it, the beautiful, bountiful bouquet of scents, textures and colors that remind us all that life, despite its unpredictability, is spectacular.

Spring's Bouquet: Arriving shortly

 

In celebration and in anticipation of spring, a season of rebirth and renewal, we are once again teaming up with Komen CT to raise funds and awareness for and about Breast Cancer.  Our pair of Pretty in Pink 4 Life Mid Century Bouquet Club Chairs in a bold hot pink floral print are available individually or as a pair, and as with the beautiful Pretty in Pink 4 Life bench, all the proceeds from the sale will go directly to Komen CT.

 

Our Mid Century Bouquet Chairs: Pretty in Pink

 

 

A Beautiful addition...for life

 

Help us celebrate the beauty of springtime and the gift of life itself.  Please share this  so that everyone can be Pretty in Pink for Life.

 


A Labor of Love

The last hurrah of the summer season with its long lazy days, its bright blue skies and sumptuous outdoor meals has finally arrived.   For as long as I can remember (and on a good day that can be quite an extensive period), I have approached Labor Day with a mixture of excitement and dread.   The excitement of beginning of a new school year, with infinite promise and expectations, tempered by the impending dread of early darkness and frigid days.

Though it has been several many decades since I endured tropical temperatures in order to don my newest corduroys and long sleeve shirt for the first day of school, the emotions I felt all those years ago are still palpable and easily brought to the surface. 

It began Sunday night as I started to put the house in order.  I was achy, tired and cold.  At first I thought it was just exhaustion from helping our middle son move into his dorm the day before (a tale to be told on another day) and it was not until Monday morning that I realized that I was encountering that old Labor Day anxiety.

 There are just some things we never really outgrow. Like most emotions, they must be acknowledged and put into perspective before we can move forward.

On this particular Labor Day, it was easily done simply by taking a walk around our property.  Our garden, obviously taking slow home to heart, was still miraculously in full bloom.  This amazing vision easily quelled my ancient emotions and reminded me once again, to take the time to enjoy the subtleties of life and its changing seasons.

A virtual walking tour of our garden:(all photos taken 9/6/10)

 

While this seemingly endless bloom our garden is experiencing is probably the result of our early spring confusing nature’s clock, I prefer to think of it as nature’s Labor of Love, a very special anniversary gift for a very special anniversary: Our 30th.

Yes, today is our thirtieth anniversary and while I am back in the city, Irwin is in Brimfield; the first time we have ever been separated on this day.  And irony of all ironies, to celebrate our anniversary remotely, Irwin decided to surprise me by sending me photos throughout the day; photos he had taken yesterday at the house of things that really symbolize our love for our home, family and each other.

this is the image that I awoke to:"Happy Anniversary from Home"

 

Then, by mid-morning:"FTD Delivery" My favorite bouquet-No care required

 

 

At Dinnertime: Anniversary Dinner (taken by his hotel)

 

And Finally, this evening: "the sum of us"

The etching on the glass says:Authentic - like us!

 

 

The photos, along with captions were the sweetest gift and brought me to tears; truly a Labor of Love. The funny thing is, he had no idea what I was planning to write for this post, nor did he have any idea of the photos I had taken.  What can I say, after thirty years of marriage, you do think alike.

Happy Anniversary Honey! Here’s to a hundred thirty more years of love and laughter….

As the moon set I set the alarm for two am, yet by midnight I was still awake.  I could not shake the events of the past few days and I could not get this phrase out of my head: “More being, less doing.”

 

The moon setting over "our" mountain

 

It is no secret that we love our life in the country. We have managed to rebuild a slow home that we have furnished with vintage and mid century pieces and live an intentionally slower life that we fully embrace.  We even held off bringing internet into our home for over ten years, fearing that it might inhibit the quality of life we enjoy here.  I write about it all the time, the slower pace, the thoughtful lifestyle, paying attention to the little things, making memories, taking the time to smell thethe rebirth of spring, but never had the importance of this lifestyle become clearer to me than this past week.

I attended the memorial service of a friend’s sibling, an extraordinary individual who passed away too soon. Although the situation was tragic, the celebration of his being was stunning and I walked away wishing I had known him in life. His wife’s words resonated in my head as she reflected upon their life together, wishing that there were “more being and less doing”.

More Bee-ing

 

So simply stated, it was profound: More being, less doing. Which brings me back to Friday night.  Setting the alarm and getting up at 2am would probably have not been a priority two or three years ago.  I would have probably set the alarm with good intentions and then shut if off and gone back to sleep.  I now know better.  Given the finite amount of time we are privileged to be here and how quickly it flutters by, every day & every experience is a gift to be savored. The time spent “being” is why we do all the ”doing” in the first place.

Life Flutters by

 

Although I know that inherently, and write as well as talk about it, I often forget to do it.  My children remind me of this all the time and to be honest, I am not always the best at practicing what I preach, but I am going to try each and every day as I chant my new mantra: More being, less doing.

So, Irwin and I took a blanket outdoors after 2am and lay under several more as we faced the Northern sky awaiting a five thousand year old event that did not disappoint.  We spent over three hours gazing at the meteor shower and the enormity of the heavens; just being, not doing.

Perseid Meteor Shower

 

Batter Up: Just Another Wednesday Night in the Country

Last week I read a post by my good friend, interior designer Jonathan Legate and it reminded me of an experience I had written about two years ago.  In keeping with sharing the good bad & hysterical experiences of country living, I decided to go back and edit this never before published piece and share it with all of you. Enjoy!

 

Talk about confronting phobias head on.  Tonight I came face to face with the granddaddy of all of my phobias, BATS. And I’m not talking about the kind that A- Rod swings.  I am talking about the Titans of Transylvania.  Those webbed- winged, blood-sucking vampire vermin of the night.

 

A transylvanian Titan

 

Anyone who knows me knows that despite being an avid nature lover, I loathe having anything fly over my head.  As far back as I can remember, I had been petrified of low flying birds.  When my grandmother let my budgie, Billy Boy, out of his cage for his daily exercise, I ran out of the room screaming.  Over the years, I have attempted to analyze the reason for this phobia but have not been able to come up with anything concrete.  I often wonder if, as an infant, I was traumatized by a bird mobile hanging over my crib, or could it possibly be the flying spoons of soft-boiled eggs that my grandmother piloted from the bowl to my mouth each morning that set this irrational fear in motion.   Perhaps it is simply because I spent the first twenty years of my life living directly under the Kennedy Airport flight patterns; whatever the reason, I am petrified of all low flying creatures especially ghoulish, rabid mosquito slurpers.  

 

just like my billy boy

 

My Fright Night began quite normally enough.  With Irwin in the city and my chores complete, I settled down in front of my laptop, icy cold cocktail in hand and prepared to begin my first attempt at serious writing.  Before I was able to type my first word, I saw something from the corner of my eye that sent a chill down my spine.  I shook my head, trying to clear the cobwebs of the cocktail when it appeared again.  It was big and black with the wingspan of a stealth bomber and it was traveling through the den at what seemed like Mach 1 speed.  Shockingly, just as I was about to begin writing a bat-tale, a new one was unfolding right before my somewhat bloodshot eyes.  Being known to occasionally overreact, it should come as no surprise that I immediately began to freak out.  I catapulted myself off the couch and barely missed the low farmhouse ceiling as a high-pitched shrill escaped my lips.  I frightened myself and can only imagine what it did to the not-so little fella, who was blinded by all the lights on around the house. Thankful that my screams were not confused with a bat mating call, I did what any bat-o-phobic person would do; I began to rant and cry, calling for help from Charlie, our laid-back, Flat Coated Retriever mix.  Unfortunately, and not surprisingly, he offered no support, so I immediately pulled up the hood of my sweatshirt and ran to higher ground. 

A lovely summer evening....at bat-o'clock

 

 


 Icy Cocktail


Our master suite is located on the newer side of the house directly above the great room.  It is separated from the staircase vestibule by a pair of French doors, installed in classic “local country” manner: upside down and accordingly, they do not close properly.   Being a quick witted adaptive Manhattan native, I grabbed a small towel and tied it around the handles to attempt to secure them.  Actually, I am sure there were about a gazillion other choices that would have been more effective, but it was the best I could come up with in my semi- catatonic state. 


secured french doors


All the lights were on and my not so adorable, winged friend was charging the French doors like a “ bat out of hell” as I began to hyperventilate and mumble to myself.  He seemed to be trying to leave through the porch screen door located at the bottom of the stairs and being the naturist I am, I knew that bats can fit through openings as small as an eighth of an inch so I began to pray that this winged creature of the night would exit stage left through a gap on the side of the screen door.  But, that wish was not realized and my nemesis continued to swoop and fly aimlessly, crashing into walls, doors and windows. 

 

 

 

escape route below

As I stood, peering out from my temporary safe haven I realized that, in my haste to escape, I had taken nothing with me; not my cocktail, not my computer, and most importantly, not even a phone. I was now sobbing uncontrollably and screaming “ I don’t even have a phone with me, I don’t even have a phone”, as the enormity of my dilemma set in.  Irwin, who had always come to my aid during  “bat-ventures”, was miles away in NYC and I was left with Charlie to deal with the situation.  And what a situation it was.  While I was sobbing, Count Batula was storming the palace.

 

The Count and I had one thing in common; his exit was paramount to both of us. As he repeatedly attempted to escape, I became his biggest fan, cheering him on and offering words of encouragement.  Unfortunately his sonar must have been on the blink because he was just not able to find an escape route and resumed his erratic flight pattern.

 

As I stood trembling behind the French doors, my flying nemesis took off in search of an alternate egress, leaving me a window of opportunity.  Understanding that I had little choice, I wrapped my hooded self in a towel for extra protection and opened the French doors (not a difficult task considering the fact that they don’t actually close).  With the speed of a jaguar- okay, so maybe it was more like a highly caffeinated tortoise, I ran back to the den and retrieved a phone, my drink and my laptop and retreated once again to my tower.  I took a couple of swigs of my lukewarm cocktail and waited for the pseudo-courage of the vodka to set in.

 

 

That's me...the speedy tortoise

 

After what seemed to be a millennium, the bat no longer appeared in the vestibule and I hoped that, like that infamous season of Dallas, it had all been a terrible dream.  Armed with my trusty phone, I called my husband and sobbing uncontrollably, filled him in on my predicament.  In truth, I knew that he could not help me, but I had to talk to someone and Charlie was just not interested.  In fact, despite my insane behavior, he was sprawled across my bed, dozing.   

 

 

Sound asleep

 

Irwin confirmed what I already knew.  I was on my own with no safety net.  I was forced to confront one of my greatest fears head on and despite my somewhat unstable emotional state, I was enveloped by a sense of inner calmness.  I closed the vestibule light, took another sip of my cocktail and began to write this tale.  In truth, I knew that after turning off the light, it was only a matter of time before the bat resumed his pursuit of freedom and although I was still shrouded in panic… and a bathroom towel, I also knew that I could not sleep until I set my airborne enemy free. 

 

As I continued to write, I heard a gentle knock on the wall and knew that “Darth Vader” had returned.  I attempted to quell my rising panic with another swig of vodka as I pondered my next step. Feeling as fearless as a marine, I formulated plan of action.   I would brave the elements, run down the stairs and attempt to release him by holding open the screen door on the porch.  At the time, it seemed like a simple solution.  If ‘Bat-zilla” saw the open screen door, he would simply leave- end of problem.

 

I barricaded Charlie in my bedroom and flew down the stairs.  I flung open the screen door and held it from behind as any courteous doorman would.  I waited and waited as my worthy opponent continued to fly around the great room and vestibule performing feats any Blue Angel would be proud of.  Unfortunately, he came nowhere near the door.  As I stood, paralyzed in the cloak of darkness, a frightening thought occurred to me: I might actually be inviting more bats to enter rather than assisting the departure of this single bat.  Despite this, I continued my bat-watch.  When I realized that there were no bat sightings for over forty-five minutes, I closed the screen door and did something I would not have believed possible an hour before.  I relinquished the role of victim and in its place, assumed the role of hunter in pursuit of prey.  Allowing myself no time to reconsider, I grabbed a flashlight from the porch and mounted an expedition both in and around the house, shining the light into the darkest recesses, looking for my unwelcome guest. Although life altering, the unsuccessful mission brought me back, once again, to my screen door post, prey-less.  Hunter or not, I was really tired and just wanted this adventure to come to an end.   As if hearing my prayer, Sir “Bat-a-lot” reappeared and resumed his air show.  Then, as suddenly as he reappeared- he was gone again and all was quiet on the screen door front.  I was baffled because he had been at the top of the stairs near those shoddily installed French doors just a moment before.  Where could he have possibly gone?  A quick walk up the stairs answered my question.  My very own flying “Fear Factor” was now on the other side of the French doors swooping over Charlie as he napped on the bed.  

 
Blue Angels could learn a thing or two from my little winged angel

My sense of calm immediately dissipated as I envisioned Charlie being attacked by the bat. I threw open the French doors and shrieked at Charlie who followed me down the stairs and out the screen door.  Now we were both on the porch holding the door open waiting for our uninvited guest to leave.  It was like “déjà vu all over again” and although I can’t speak for Charlie, my patience was running thin and I was rapidly running out of steam.  It was now after one a.m. and I had been dealing with this situation for over four hours.  I knew I could not leave the perpetrator in the house but had no idea how to evict him.   I am not a quitter by nature but enough was enough.  I was ready to give up, take Charlie and sleep in the car. It was a small convertible car – but it was also a bat- free car.  Anything had to have been better than this “Cat and Bat” chase.

 

 It was just at that moment, a moment of complete and utter desperation, when it dawned on me.  If The Count was not going to come to me, I was going to go to him. I went back up the stairs to watch the latest flight exhibition when I noticed “Bat Masterson” trying to escape from my room by climbing on the open window screens.  I considered closing the window, trapping him between the screen and the window but could not bring myself to get that close.  What if he was startled and flew right at me?  Who would be there to call 911 when I started foaming at the mouth?  Although like the Cowardly Lion, I too had found courage, I was not totally bonkers: I was not about to go “Rambo”.   Instead, I immediately knocked out the screen from the window closest to the door, closed the door and waited.  Finally, miracle of miracles,  “Bat-dini” made his escape and flew out the open window.  I instantly ran in and closed it and was immediately flooded with relief and awash with sheer joy. 

 

I was absolutely giddy.  I wanted to call everyone and anyone I knew and tell them that I had indeed completed my “Mission Impossible”.  I yearned to shout it from the rooftop, to write it across the sky.  I had beaten my foe.  I conquered what I thought was an insurmountable fear.  I outwitted my blind friend and won the battle.   Unfortunately, it was just before two in the morning and most of the world was sound asleep so….I climbed into bed with Charlie, who had resumed his snoring, and recounted my tale to….my laptop. Just another Wednesday night in the country.

 

Make a Wish and....

With much anticipation and little fanfare, Irwin & I packed a bag or two, grabbed Charlie and headed for the hills last week to spend some much needed time in the country.  This is what we live for and we celebrate our good fortune every day that we are able to spend in our home surrounded by nature.

Of course, the first thing I did upon arrival was walk the property and check on our seasonal guests.  I was so excited to see the nest that had been built Memorial Day and had eggs hatched on the longest day of the year now housed a robust brood of six babies that were preparing to depart, leaving us as “Empty Nesters” once again.  The added pleasure of finding that a beautiful pair of cardinals had built a precious nest of birch bark in our beloved lilac bush almost sent me over the top.

Five of six of our latest brood

 

Our cardinal

 

the cardinal nest made with birch bark

 

From the beginning our house has attracted wildlife, a topic I have addressed in previous posts and am constantly in awe of.  Irwin and I often joke about how we have willed the arrival of our feathered and furry friends and perhaps we have.

It could be argued that our purchase of a painting of a large black dog, initiated the arrival of Charlie, our big black dog and the sketches of birds nests along with the glass eggs in nests displayed in our home have heralded the abundance of nests on our property.

the painting that heralded charlies arrival

 

The "man" Himself

 

sketches of nests

 

 

glass eggs in nests

 

One could further agree that a sketch of a raccoon, the only valuable gift left by the previous owner of our house, was single-handedly responsible for last summer’s Raccoon-Fest, and finally, the placement of the wooden bunny in our “Wish Basket” which to our utter shock and amazement, brought bunnies to our property.

our raccoon sketch

 

 

Our raccoon-Fest

 

 

our "wish basket"

 

our bunny

 

We believe that the universe will give you what you ask for if you put it out there so our wish basket is always on display in the den.  We keep the wooden bunny and Charlies broken collar in it at all times as a reminder of the enormous wishes we have been granted.

Now I’m not saying that we always get exactly what we wish for, I did NOT ask for a woodchuck, especially after last summer’s raccoon-fest and our sealing up all the openings under the porch, but nevertheless, Woody, as we’ve come to call him, not only resides on our patio in a gargantuan cave he has built, but has an extended family of baby woodchucks living under our porch.

Woody

 

woody's home

 

I’ve also put several small winning lottery tickets and handfuls of dollar bills in the basket and have yet to win Mega-Millions or Powerball but there is always the possibility.

So why not make a wish or two? Who’s to say how messages are communicated in the universe or how things are heard in the heavens?  What is important is that we put our message out because…you never know.

We just added our latest wish in the basket….I’ll keep you posted!

 

our latest wish is in the basket

 

Capture the Flag...And Memories Too!

Last year, right before Memorial Day, I wrote a post about our flag tradition.  Well, with the Fourth of July practically upon us, I thought it would be a good idea to re-share this lovely tradition with all of you.

Our Annual Flag

As we all know, summer is fleeting.  Even as we are preparing to begin the celebrations of the season, back to school items and early fall fashions are hitting the shelves and windows of our favorite stores.  While this has been going on for quite a long time, it seems that it worsens every year.  Irwin and I always joke about it, saying that it is difficult to find summer items in mid-July because stores are filled with Halloween items and sleds, which by the way, is not very far from the truth.

As more of our goods became imports and delivery times increased, retailers had to make earlier commitments to goods and ….well, you know the rest, we are about two and a half steps away from Christmas in July-literally.

So, while that ephemeral summertime window is open, we should take every opportunity to savor the sweet smells and vivid colors of the season, and do all that we can to capture this season’s memories so that they can be enjoyed throughout this year and for years to come.

colors of the season

 

 

A happy fellow in yellow

 

Coleus Foliage

 

Vivid in Violet

 

Our flag tradition allows us to do just that.  It began three years ago when:

our flag, which we had hung from our porch in the country, was ruined in a storm and Irwin and I were unable to find a good quality replacement in time for our upcoming Fourth of July celebration with friends. In a quest to create last minute, patriotic décor, Irwin grabbed a handful of small, cut out, color copies of a beautiful American flag, which we kept in a jar in the kitchen and placed them in planters all over the porch.  He then hung one flag on one of the posts as well.  Our celebration was a success and even after the holiday ended, and the other paper flags were put away, the flag on the post remained.  Irwin suggested that we leave it up there until the following July 4th, as a tribute to our country and as a reminder of the wonderful celebration we had.”

The flag remained there until the following July 4th, when we took it down, noted the names of the guests from the previous year on the back and placed it, once again, in the glass jar on our kitchen shelf.  We replaced it with a new flag that already had the current year’s guests’ names on it. And the tradition continued.

 

 

our Captured Flags

 

 

This year, we will replace the flag, once again and save the current flag along with its memories for years to come.

 

 

 

Memories in a jar

 

 

While Irwin and I have been trying to capture summertime in a jar since we were little kids by collecting fireflies & caterpillars, our “Capturing of the Flag” is far more humane and longer lasting.

 

So, while you are preparing for your family celebration this weekend, consider including our version of “Capture the Flag” in your festivities.  With best wishes for a happy and safe Fourth of July from our family to yours!

 

 

our newest family members

 

 

The Sweet Smell of...Roses

I can’t help myself.  When springtime explodes in the country and we are on the cusp of summer my heart literally skips a beat.  When hummingbirds visit while I have my morning coffee on the porch and fireflies light up the night time sky like fireworks, I am in heaven because I know that this is the season when we become more than transient guests in our own home.  This season, however fleeting, is the one that literally forces us to stop whatever we are doing and smell the roses.

While Irwin and I try to get away for at least one night a week during the year and spend part of the winter holidays in the country with the family, it is not quite the same as the late spring and summer when we afford ourselves the luxury of spending considerable blocks of time in our rural retreat.

And…what better way to welcome us for the season than to be greeted upon arrival on the Friday of Memorial Day weekend by a sweet little bird finally building the nest I had been pining for since the start of spring; the nest that has been there every spring/summer since we bought the house, the nest I was so disappointed not to see on Mother’s Day.

 

The perfect building project began on Friday-moved in on Sunday

 

It is part of my ritual.  When I arrive at the house, I walk around and examine the changes in our plantings and check on our seasonal guests including the Robin’s nest in the gutter and the other in our beloved Dogwood.  Imagine my utter surprise and sheer glee when I saw the first specks of mud on the porch roof. At that moment I exhaled, knowing that all was right in our little piece of the universe.

We all know that is so easy to get caught up in the complexity of daily living and lose sight of the time we need to spend enjoying the beauty we are surrounded by.  But acknowledging it and doing something about it are two incredibly different things.  Just the other day, I had that very discussion on Twitter with two good Twitter friends, @tandemantiques and @jonathanlegate.  We all acknowledged the fact that because summer is fleeting, we must take time to “smell the roses”, a priority that we often overlook.  I said that I needed to enjoy EVERY moment of this precious season and take it one day at a time.  Hilary (@andemantiques) agreed adding “It's true - I know that I sometimes squander my now because I'm focused/worried about down the road”, something we are all guilty of and Jonathan added: I’m “always thinking of the future but taking time to enjoy the present while respecting the past.”   A truly beautiful statement that says it all and is something we should all allow ourselves to do.

So, here is to summer and the beauty it reveals to us everyday.  Let’s all make a commitment now to stop and enjoy "the sweet smell of... roses” this season before it is just a memory.

Some of "the roses" we have stopped to smell this season so far: Enjoy!

Superb Spirea

 

 

colossal Catnip

 

Color-fusion

 

 

relaxing Goldfinches

 

A statuesque Iris

 

 Breathtaking Day Lilies

 

A humble bumble bee

 

The beauty of another sunset

 

The Golden glow of evening's approach

 

 

The warmth of a tea light

 

Only nature's song can be heard

 

the dance of the flames

 

Waxed beauty

 

 

Our mentor Charlie, who inspires us everyday & reminds us of how sweet the roses can be!

 

 

 

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