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

 

 

I love June!  While I don’t necessarily enjoy the frenetic race to reach the finish line at the end of the month, it is usually a month filled with happy occasions like the end of the school year and graduation (our youngest graduated from high school this month), weddings, birthdays (Irwin’s was on the 18th) and Father’s Day. The last couple of weeks are often chaotic and exhausting, but the days are some of the longest and the weather is finally truly warm. AND…summer finally arrives.

 

Graduation

 

Summer Arrives

These are the days I cherish, the days I long for all year. The days I hold firmly in my heart as I wade through mountains of snow in the absolute darkness of late afternoons in December.  I cling to these early days of summer as I begin the count from the shortest day of the year to the longest and am always astounded to have made it back again, another year under my belt.  It is cause for celebration: A time to truly be grateful for all that we have. And what better place to do it than in the country; where we can focus on the basics of a quality, slow home lifestyle.

 

Slow Home

 

Busy Bees

 We arrived in the country on Friday and were greeted by our neighbor Jeanne, and our four-week old garden.  Jeanne had baked a strawberry/rhubarb birthday pie for Irwin from scratch with fruit she had gotten at the local farmer’s market.  The smell of the sweet fruit wafted through the air and the plate was still warm to the touch when she handed it to me.  The garden offered up rose-colored radishes along with growth by leaps and bounds.

   

Home Made Birthday Pie

 

Rosie Radishes

Although Irwin is not big on birthday celebrations, we have grown to understand how really special each one is so we began his birthday with the gift of a waffle maker and my preparation of a delicious Belgian waffle batter from scratch along with fresh whipped cream.  The result was so delicious, that I have vowed never to use a mix for either waffles or pancakes again.

 

 Waffle Maker

 

Breakfast Remains

Then the boys gave Irwin a very special gift and card and it was then time to pass the Kleenex. 

 

A Kleenex Moment

The rest of the day was spent relaxing and taking some family photos and ended with an easy barbeque and consumption of Smores cupcakes I made thanks to a recipe shared by @RidgelyBrode

 

Four Out of Five (Middle Son Had to Work)

Smores Cupcakes

Simple and sweet, we ended the day driving our youngest to camp. 

 

The events of last weekend may not seem out of the ordinary in any way and that is exactly my point.  It was a simple relaxed birthday weekend that we were privileged to share as a family: A privilege that we would like many others to have the opportunity to share for years and years.

 

And so, we are welcoming summer with another kind of celebration.  A celebration that we would like to share with all of you.  Through the power of social media, we have collaborated with Sunbrella to introduce our latest Pretty in Pink for Life piece to benefit Susan Komen for the Cure CT.

 

Our Latest Pretty in Pink 4 Life to Benefit Komen

This fabulous fuchsia powder coated Mid Century iron ottoman covered in Sunbrella’s Canvas- Hot Pink 5462 and Steeplechase-Malibu 56064 fabrics is phenomenal and is perfect for summer fun either indoors or out!

 

So please help spread the word and help us find this wonderful ottoman a home so that Komen CT can benefit from ALL the proceeds of the sale.  It is our way of sharing the simple pleasure of birthdays with others.

 

For Details on this piece:

www.irwinfelddesign.com/index.cfm/product/1182_13/pretty-in-pink-4-life-mid-century-fuchsia-sculptural-ottoman.cfm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Modern Garden

Two months after sharing our first post about our Garden of Dreams, it has become a reality.  But as is often the case with best-laid plans, the final incarnation is much different than the original proposal.

Yes, it is true: we got carried away!  We got so caught up in the excitement of having our very own, slow home garden this summer, that we neglected to realize that our initial plan of 10’x10’ raised planter beds was waaaay too ambitious for citiots like ourselves.  In addition to it being too large and requiring serious fencing, it was too far from our water supply and would have required massive amounts of bending.  So we went back to the drawing board and our wonderful neighbor Jeanne, who is collaborating with us on this venture, came up with an alternate plan.  She found Western Red Cedar tool-free assembly elevated garden beds made by Gronomics and we purchased two from our local garden store along with a simple gardening book that explained how to prepare the planting beds. 

 

A garden in a Box

 

 

Read and Seed

 

We initially planned on placing the beds, which measure 34” x 48” each, in front of our shed, but after waiting patiently and unsuccessfully for days and days and days AND days for the sun to make an appearance so that we could ascertain if the location was indeed sunny enough, we decided to plant them in our driveway, where we were sure that six hours of daily sun would not be a problem.

 

Sun-where?

 

So this past weekend, in between the thunder, lightening and soaking rain, we assembled the beds and planted the garden.

Our intern: Zippy

 

Simple Assembly: A Family Affair

 

The finished product

 

  Thanks to Jeanne’s diligence and research, we filled the beds with a mixture composed of:

1/3 Vermiculite

1/3 Peat Moss

1/3 Compost mixing three kinds including organic compost, a compost/humus mix and compost Jeanne had accumulated last year.

How to make your garden grow

 

For Peat Sake

 

We began by spreading a tarp and combined the mixture for each bed separately so that it would be more manageable.  Then our youngest son shoveled it into the beds where we continued to mix it and water it so that it was well blended and moist.

three kinds of compost

 

Blending the ingredients

 

Raking it in

 

the perfect blend

 

the good earth

 

hands on work

 

 

We planted one bed with plants including two kinds of lettuce, two kinds of mint, arugula, spinach, jalapeno peppers, red peppers and thyme and the second bed with seeds for carrots, cucumbers and radishes along with several kinds of beet plants.  We are planning on filling in with other herb plants this coming weekend and are still discussing how best to house tomato plants.

Separating the arugula

 

Almost done

 

put to bed

 

great greens

 

ready to grow

 

 

our dream team

 

 


 For now, both beds are covered with bird netting to discourage the deer, possibly the only animals that can reach the comfortable height of 32 inches.

 

 

Net worth

 

Just born but sure to grow to love our garden

 

There is something so wonderfully rewarding about getting your hands dirty and planting food to harvest that we all, including our youngest, were swept up in the excitement.  We were so thrilled with our initial planting, we ran back to the farm store for more plants!

And this is just the beginning.  If we are successful with these two raised beds this season, we will plant the larger raised beds we had originally planned, next year and use these two raised beds for herbs.  And there I go again, getting ahead of myself, but it is almost impossible not to.

The simple pleasure of this modern take on ancient agrarian farming has really inspired us and the possibilities are endless. With our Garden of Dreams taking shape, can Alpacas be far behind?

our future??

 

So, as you begin your holiday weekend, think about building your own Garden of Dreams, however small.  The results will be magical!

 And here is the proof: Our first radish sprouts popped up yesterday, just three days after planting the seeds.

A sprout even the green giant would be proud of

 

 

 

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….

This past Saturday night we hosted our first “Road Party” in the country and it was  spectacular!  It was attended by nine families including ours and was so successful, we have decided to make it an annual event.            

Our House

 

Unlike suburban neighborhoods with streetlights and sidewalks, our road in the country is light-less and dirt. While our home is situated close to the road, most of the other homes that dot our road are nestled in the mountainside at the end of dirt driveways, many of which are a half mile long or more. 

Our Road 

 

That being the case, it should come as no surprise that after ten summers in the country, we knew little, if anything about our neighbors.  But all that changed last summer, when we met our new neighbor Jeanne and her dog Zippy.

Zippy and Charlie became fast friends and Charlie (as well as Irwin & myself) eagerly anticipated Zippy & Jeanne’s impromptu visits before or after their afternoon walk.  Jeanne, living here full time for half the year had managed to meet more local people in her first month here, than we had met in the ten years previous and it was through her that we finally met some of our neighbors last Labor Day.

Zippy & Charlie: Best Buddies

 

This year Jeanne had a brilliant idea.  She suggested we collaborate and host a “Road Party” to get to know more of our “hidden” neighbors. Because there is nothing we enjoy more than hosting a party, we immediately offered our home for the event.  Jeanne dropped mailers in every mailbox and under every front door she could find on our half of the road (the road is over three miles long) asking people to RSVP and bring an appetizer, side or dessert.  We had no idea who or what to expect and the result was more wonderful than we could have ever anticipated.

Our neighbors regardless of whether they were able to attend or not, called and emailed telling us how much they loved the idea of a road party. Despite never having any discussion about specifically what anyone was bringing, the collaboration was astounding and the resulting menu blended together seamlessly and needless to say, the buffet was plentiful.

In keeping with our slow home philosophy, we re-purposed cloth napkins and dishes that we had originally purchased and/or made for our children's B’nai-Mitzvah years ago and made a tablecloth from an upholstery fabric remnant.  Using our own silverware, the only disposable items used at the gathering were about thirty plastic cups, which were recyclable.

Tableware set up: Nothing Disposable Here

 

Irwin took two colors of napkins from the assortment and in lieu of napkin rings, he used a roll of twine we had and rolled and tied each napkin with a simple twine bow; an easy and inexpensive touch that made tremendous visual impact.

Re-purposed napkins tied with everyday twine

 

Irwin then strategically placed cut flowers from our garden in vintage silver plated champagne glasses as well as a collection of vintage vases we have accumulated over the years.  He supplemented our garden’s bounty with flowers Jeanne had purchased at a local farm to complete the arrangements.

Vintage silver plated champagne glass with farm flowers

 

More home grown flowers

 

Farm Flowers in our vintage vase

 

More local flowers in a vintage silver plated bowl

 

 

And...More local & farm flowers

 

our miniature roses

 

And the food, have I mentioned the food? Well, all of the food we prepared as well as the food that our guests brought was made with locally grown or purchased ingredients and was amazingly fresh and tasty.

Irwin's Fresh Mozzarella, tomato & basil salad-locally grown with toasted ciabatta bread & hummus

 

 

a new twist: hummus served in margarita glasses

 

 

Can't you just smell the fresh basil?

 

 

Jeanne's home made roasted chicken salad

 

My home made pasta w/arugula pesto sun dried tomatoes goat cheese and local grilled corn

 

Our neighbor Gloria's garden salad made form vegetables she grew in her garden (sorry for the leftovers photo)

 

Drinks including water, Iced tea and my special vodka cocktail

 

Jeanne's home made peach & plum pie made with locally grown fruit

 

 

my home made cupcakes

 

 

 Charlie: Ready for guests

 

 

 

Although I stopped taking pictures when the guests arrived, I must list the delicious additions they contributed to the event:

  • A home made Ceasar salad
  • A home made Goat Cheese & Pesto Torta
  • A home made grilled summer squash salad ( squash grown in neighbor's garden)
  • Home made crab filled finger sandwiches
  • A fruit salad that included sever types of locally grown plums as well as peaches
  • An assortment of local artisanal cheeses
  • A rustic peach pie made by a local farm as well as a mixed berry pie from our local Biodynamic farm

But more than the wonderful food, the time spent getting to know our neighbors was priceless.  We met new neighbors to the road as well as long standing residents; weekenders like ourselves as well as full-timers. We shared a meal as well as our love for this special place on our planet and as the evening came to a close and we cleaned up, we all agreed to do this again next year.

 

Glasses that we frosted for oldest son's bar mitzvah in 2001 now staples in the country

 

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

 

It's All About the Little Things

While we can all agree that gifts of jewelry and expensive handbags are always coveted and appreciated, sometimes it’s the little things that cause our hearts to swell as we become teary-eyed and farklempt...And it is the little things that make our houses cherished homes.

That was just the way I felt on Sunday when Irwin surprised me with breakfast on the patio.  Irwin, our resident Frittata Master, chose to treat me to an asparagus and goat cheese omelet.  While the omelet was delicious, it did not bring a tear to my eye, despite the red pepper flakes.  What really touched me was the coffee station he set up in our prep/storage room, complete with farm fresh milk. It made a simple breakfast at home seem like a private dining experience in a lovely bed & breakfast; just a little touch that meant the world to me.

Breakfast waiting at the "Coffee Station" on the way to the patio

 

our storage/Prep room-Not yet finished

 

 

my coffee station-"A little thing" that meant the world to me

 

 breakfast gobbled up but the hydrangea remains

 

Irwin is constantly tweaking our home.  Editing and rearranging have become a way of life for our family and we all enjoy the inherent surprises that are revealed to us almost daily. It is absolutely true, that on any given day, we might arrive home to find our den and dining room flipped, or the master bathroom re-accessorized.

In light of this, it should come as no surprise that, while I was out of the house driving our oldest to the train station Sunday afternoon, Irwin was busy rearranging a corner of our bedroom so that I could have a dreamy reading niche.  Yes, yes, I know I have expounded on the many seating and eating areas in the house, but NONE of them are in our bedroom.  When I cannot sleep and want to read, I cannot do it in bed because Irwin is extremely light sensitive.  I have desperately attempted to circumvent this issue by implementing the use of reading lights…and even flashlights, but it was to no avail.  If I wanted to read while Irwin was sleeping, I had to go downstairs. 

 

My reading niche

But now those worries are a thing of the past, because Irwin generously presented me with this sweet niche he created by re-purposing pieces from other parts of our house including the stunning Hydrangea (the only bloom we had this year) that was on our breakfast table.

 

it's all in the details including my breakfast hydrangea

The focal point of the area is a vintage chaise that I adore.  Although it is delicate, it is extremely comfortable and I love laying on it.  I have my own reading light, far away from our bed that will afford me hours of uninterrupted reading while offering Irwin hours of uninterrupted sleep. Beautiful artwork,a fantastic screen, candles, a throw and fresh flowers complete the niche.  The only thing missing is a decadent box of chocolates...and me!

Perfect:Down to the smallest detail

 

Like “Dining Out…at Home”, the little things that we do to our living environment can make us feel like we are spending time in a lovely inn or hotel and who doesn't enjoy that?

Time at home feels like time away

 

I look forward to returning to the country later this week and relaxing with my book and a glass of wine in my reading niche, enjoying the little things that make everyday life so special.  But first, I’d better check with Charlie. I have no idea what he's reading.

Charlie's Book Club?

 

**Thank you Irwin for always reminding me to pay attention to the details and nuances in life!

 

The other day our country neighbor and good friend Jeanne stopped by with her delightful dog Zippy for a collaborative dinner and we once again began the discussion of where to eat.  It is not that we have no place to eat, but rather the opposite.  The number of places in and around the house available for sitting and especially eating has become somewhat of a joke amongst our friends over the years.

Charlie's good friend & neighbor, Zippy

 

It is true, we have many places throughout the house, both indoors and out to sit and relax and…to eat.  What can we say? Maybe it’s because we both come from families where food is so important, or maybe it is because in our city apartment, we have no outdoor space, and our formal dining room was eliminated years ago and combined with our living room to make way for a much-needed den.  Whatever the reason, if you are looking for a place to relax or…eat, we have a place for you!

 

dining in the great room under ceiling fans is a great alternative on warm evenings

 

We love spending time in the country and when we are not working on the house, we are usually relaxing and/or entertaining at home.  Irwin loves to cook and set a table so we rarely eat out and because Irwin is a creative genius whose mind is constantly churning out new ideas, it is essential that different venues are available for him to work in.

My favorite way to begin an evening: a pitcher of cocktails

 

Alfresco dining under a tree

 

Our Dining Room: A thanksgiving favorite

  

Most breakfasts are served in the kitchen or on the porch, where the usual fare is either my famous blueberry or banana pancakes or Irwin’s world-renowned breakfast frittata made with whatever is available in the fridge.

 

Our kitchen: open 24/7

  

 

the porch: No  Reservation needed

 

irwin's famous frittata

 

Lunch and dinner can happen almost anywhere but always feel special.

 

dining on our deck is lovely in the afternoon

 

So, whether you are two for dinner or serving twelve, have one eating area or more, little changes can go a long way in making  “at home” dining special.

For example:

We always use an abundance of candles, votives and tea lights.  They add warmth and make everything sparkle and glow.

 

Authentic atmosphere

 

Tea light in vintage cup with fish tank gravel

 

 

light, light and more light

 

When possible, we use cut flowers from our garden; they are easy and inexpensive and always look and smell wonderful.

Fresh garden flowers-always a hit

  

We usually mix and match glassware, dishes and flatware to create interest.

This mix on our patio is fun

  

AND…we primarily use cloth napkins with napkin rings.  I know, nobody wants to spend time ironing napkins- and the truth is, I don’t.  We use lovely cotton and linen napkins that just need to be folded warm from the dryer.

 

Lovely napkin rings a gift from good friend Maybelline Te

 

 

Another feast cooked by non other than Irwin

 

I know these suggestions seem very basic and they are, but with a little imagination, you too will feel like you are dining out…at home.

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

 

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