31 December, 2014

Close at hand

 
 
My visit was further enhanced
by various tactile expressions: 
 
Vin chaud and a new wool wrap
to ward off the chill.
 
Stiff linen napkins at Ladurée.
 
The heft of silverware at Musée D'Orsay.
 
Heavy, elegant menus.
 
Chilled fingers
stealing heat from a cup of chocolate.
 
Silk wall coverings at the Carnavalet.
 
The supple warmth of
a nutella crepe.

 
Eric Bompard's cashmere.
 
The exchange of bills and coins.
 
Sorting through bins of used books.
 
Vintage furs, silks and leather bags.
 
New "furs" and silks.
 
Soothing lotions.
 
A hot shower and warm bed.
 
 
 
 
 
 

30 December, 2014

Evocative echoes

I loved my trip to Paris.
It was a sensory-intensive experience
from beginning to end.
 
We had many drizzly, but mild, days of
walking to and fro
about the city, absorbing the nuances of its 
quotidian rhythms.
(I wish I'd snapped a shot of the le Pain Quotidian)
My clothing selection was
adequate
- which is all I had asked of it -
in light of the laundry
facilities in our
charming apartment.
 
So, what did I hear?
 
I was awakened several mornings by the
sound of the rasping broom of a
street sweeper below our windows.
 
 
This pianist livened the street corner
at a flea market on a dreary day.
 (We kept hoping the ladies would break into song.)
Rain on my umbrella.
Church bells.
The organ at Notre Dame.
A boy's choir performing the Hallelujah Chorus.
A piano recital in a nearby church.
The melody of conversation.
The whine of approaching motorcycles.
Car horns.
An accordionist on the metro.
Street musicians doing their best with the Beatles.
Laughing children.
The click of heels on cobblestone.
Late-night revelers.
The hushed reverence of memorial places. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


30 November, 2014

Countdown

Next week at this time
we'll be in Paris.
 
This will be a busy week as final
preparations are completed.
 
Here's a section from my to do list:
 
finalize packing selections
go to the bank
get a manicure
pay bills
have my glasses adjusted
compile addresses for  postcards
avoid breaking toes
(or fillings)
 


27 November, 2014

Faux Snow Bunny

I like Thanksgiving.
Like so many
I have much in my life that
prompts a spirit of thankfulness.
 
Thanksgiving evokes tradition and
a nostalgia unmatched by other holidays
even though it seems to be increasingly overlooked
in our accelerated commercial
holiday season.
Regardless of personal preferences
and health-driven choices
we many of us I tend to revert to certain traditional
patterns and indulgences.
Or maybe I'm just weak-willed and
susceptible to peer pressure...
 
 
Today's outfit was pulled together to
match the retro vibe of the day.
With my "stretch" pants
tucked into snow boots, turtleneck, chunky cable sweater
headband and sunglasses
I felt like I had just stepped off a
vintage travel poster.
 
Over the river and through the
woods, indeed.
 
Hope you enjoyed your day.
 
 
 


23 November, 2014

Sunday Night

 
I baked an apple pie for some friends
earlier this evening and the fading
aroma is competing with
tonight's shrieking winds to put me in a
cozy frame of mind. 
I was actually on my way to bed
but the opportunity to cross one
more item from my list
was irresistible.
 
Our fall weather has taken a turn toward
winter which means
blankets and sweaters and coats
that would ordinarily not
make an appearance
for another month
have already been put into
 rotation.
 
These were my favorite shoes this fall: 
 
 fun and comfy, they've logged many miles.
 
These clogs from Dansko have 
proven to be a good choice
and have been perfect with jeans
or a skirt and tights.
 

Our flight to Paris leaves in less
than two weeks. 
My packing list has yet to be finalized.
The idea of being able to do laundry
tempts me to pack
light, very light,
 making every choice critical.
Or not. 
 
 
 
 

21 October, 2014

Packing Report

This was the original packing list from our recent trip. 
I've crossed out the items I didn't use.
 
4 sleeveless/short sleeve layering pieces:
berry
gray
charcoal
ivory
4 long sleeve tees:
ivory
tan
charcoal
mustard
3 V-neck cashmere sweaters:
navy
gray
teal
3 button-front shirts:
denimish
gray/teal plaid
gray paisley(tunic length)
2 pants:
white cords
charcoal
1 navy skirt and tights
1 charcoal wool blazer
 
With temperatures unexpectedly warm
- upper 60s and 70s -
layers weren't necessary.  I never wore the blazer.
We didn't do any "fine" dining, so the skirt
remained in the suitcase.
 
It's reasonable to assume that many pieces
can be eliminated, because
in Paris I will have access to laundry,
but, December weather should call
 for some layering pieces, so
I'll be looking for that happy medium
to allow more room for
shopping!
 
These items worked for me.
The color combinations were easy and
flexible.  I felt well-dressed and appropriate
in my choices.  The white cords were
fun to wear, though I don't see them
making the trip to Paris.  My boots
proved to be very comfortable.  I had casual shoes
in the bag, which I did wear, and need
to decide which pair of
shoes will accompany my boots
across the pond.
 
Overall it was a relief to see how versatile
the carry-on bag can be. 
It eliminates a certain amount of "stress"
to know that I can do this,
though it's not a convenient system if there are several
overnight stops involved. 
Everything had to be loaded and layered
rather precisely in the bag
(it was full)
which made for less-than-fun repacking
every morning. 
I'm looking forward to having a destination
allowing me to unpack once.
 
 


Gratuitous Cute Grandson Photo

 

Meet Levi
the reason for our recent road trip.


03 October, 2014

Trial Run

 
This is the 22 inch suitcase I purchased for the trip to Paris
in December.
 
 
Tomorrow we leave for a week's travel
to the East coast, which is always a favorite
destination.
 
I'm using this outing as a trial run
for the December trip.
My travel guru strongly urged using
only a carry-on bag
which will be a new experience for me.
 
So.  In this bag - this very small bag - I have
4 sleeveless/short sleeve layering pieces:
berry
gray
charcoal
ivory
4 long sleeve tees:
ivory
tan
charcoal
mustard
3 V-neck cashmere sweaters:
navy
gray
teal
3 button-front shirts:
denimish
gray/teal plaid
gray paisley(tunic length)
2 pants:
white cords
charcoal
1 navy skirt and tights
1 charcoal wool blazer
yoga pants. cami and oversize tee
undies and socks for a week
1 pair of shoes
1 pair of slippers
3 scarves
cosmetic bag
my kindle
assorted charging cords.
 
My tote bag holds:
 a small crossbody purse
several books
wallet
aspirin and other necessities
perfume
lipstick
pen
My watch,
pearl studs and
simple hoops are it for jewelry.
 
Tomorrow I'll wear:
 tall boots (tan)
navy pants
ivory vest
the 4th scarf
and a long sleeve tee.
(which I'll leave at Naphtali's and reclaim on our return)
There is also a weather-proof jacket
which will be thrown into the back of the car.
 
Naphtali and Aidan have offered/agreed
to keep Charlie for us while we're gone.
This is a chance for them to see how a dog would fit into
 the new school routines and
we're glad to leave him with family.
So our trip starts with an overnight in
Minneapolis, which is
always a treat.
 
It all works on paper so we'll see...
I went in today for a manicure
- I love the shellac -
so my nails will be lovely
- and indestructible -
for the duration.
 
The forecast for next week indicates mid to upper 60s
with the possibility of a 70 thrown into the mix.
Everything is set for a great time!
 
 
 

03 June, 2014

Memorial Day Weekend

 
We arrived in the Cities on Friday afternoon.
Tim studied the tree and devised a plan.
The first supply run was made that night so he
could make an early start
the next morning.
 
Last year - this same weekend - we helped move
 Naphtali and Aidan into this house.
A tree suitable for a tree fort
was on their list of non-negotiables.
 




 You're looking at one happy kid!
 

The injury to my foot kept me off the ladders
and on the periphery for this project.
They worked hard and nearly
non-stop through Saturday and Sunday. 
There was a neighborhood
gathering scheduled for 6ish Sunday night.
The tree fort was complete and
Tim had manned the grill by 5:30!  
 
Unfortunately there is no photo of the finished project.
Naphtali created a charming focal point
by hanging a few accessories
and arranging a table and chairs under the platform.
I've been told a rope and bucket has been added
to serve as a dumb-waiter.
 
We'll be returning to build a deck
under the upper-tier,
but Phase 1 is complete.
 
 
 



31 May, 2014

Accessories Count

 
We went to see Naphtali
and Aidan over the Memorial Day weekend.
We had a great time.
 
These were important parts of
"that look"
for Charlie and me.
 
 
I won't even try to tell Charlie's saga.
You'll have to be content knowing
he almost died,
but didn't.
 
My story will be abbreviated.
Hurt my foot,
saw the doctor - twice - and
have an MRI scheduled for next week.
I have hobbled, iced, elevated and tolerated
pain and activity for about two weeks.
 
 
 
 
 


14 April, 2014

Monday Morning

Productivity is over-rated.
 





25 February, 2014

Killing Time

Or waiting for paint to dry.
 
Nail polish
but you get the idea.
 
The shellac manicure has spoiled me.
Suddenly, the time involved in "doing"
my nails at home
has become intolerable.
Keeping my nails presentable consumes
 at least two nights a week -
nights that could be used for so many
other pursuits.
 
I use the nudest of nude polish
and keep my nails fairly short
so it's not a matter
of maintaining fire-red talons.
It's simply that they have to look "done."
 
Thinking it would minimize my OCD
concerning chipped polish, and thus allow me to coast
with just one session during a week,
I tried just a clear coat for
 shine and protection.  
It didn't work.
It's been three days
and I just couldn't take it!
I've just applied a quick coat
of color so I can go to work.
 
Obviously wet nails don't interfere
with typing
so the time would provide a good excuse
to post on a regular basis.
There is never enough time for reading
so wet nails would be the
perfect cover story
to curl up and read the night away.
 
Yes, it is a trivial complaint, at best,
and there is always a
suitable resolution
for such matters.
 
 
Faux Fuchsia says it best:
"Chipped nail polish still revolts me." 
 
 
 

20 February, 2014

Just to let you know...

... it's
snowing
 
 
and thundering.

18 February, 2014

In Season

The air has been filled with the
long, shifting V-s of
returning geese.
Their honking
alerts the casual
witness to this seasonal
trek pulling the eye to the horizon
where they hover en masse
looking for a place to rest.
 
We've also seen a flock of mallard ducks
and deluded and bedraggled robins
 huddled in the falling snow.
 
Within my four walls there
are signs of impending spring, as well.
This morning I opened the
storage space built into the fireplace shelving
 
 to retrieve some seasonal accents.
 
Today's bright sunshine is whispering that it might
be reason enough to debut
some "spring" clothes at work tonight...
 

16 February, 2014

Sunday Evening

I still find it
hard to believe that time can slip so quickly
through my fingers.
Intended posts and other projects
were set aside this week
to allow for the unexpected.
 
Last weekend Tim fell while cross-country skiing,
causing something in his knee to pop.
He iced and elevated through the night
and decided the next morning that it should be seen.
Preliminary diagnosis
was a torn ACL.
An MRI on Thursday indicated a torn MCL,
which means that surgery won't be required.
A round of PT twice a week for the next
 month or six weeks
and he should be good as new.
We're very thankful.
It did mean, though, that I was the designated
driver for work and appointments,
a role that will continue for at least another week.
 
We had several snowfalls last week
and the truck just went down our street
spreading the de-icing solution in
anticipation of freezing rain/ice later tonight
and into tomorrow morning.
Yippee.
 
Anyway, I was able to claim
some of the week for myself:
 
Tonight the last few rows of my sweater back will be finished,
bound off, and the front section begun.
 
My navy wardrobe selections are coming together.
A mariner dress from llbean
will be nothing but fun to wear.
A cotton/cashmere blend V-neck sweater
will prove versatile.

Local sales added a solid (but lightweight) 3/4 sleeve cardigan
a coral top (which may not make it)
a tank with embellished neckline
a 3/4 sleeve mariner top
and a pair of tan jeans.
 
 
The sneakers were found online.
A local store carried the style, but not
this color, so they were ordered and shipped to my front door. 
They are cute, comfy and will be a fun option
 for casual outings.
There are a few more packages
scheduled to arrive in the next few days.


Paint chips have proven helpful
when trying to "remember"
a color from one place to the next.
 
And this:


 
was going to be so much fun.
Projects using bleach pens and various
fabric mediums are featured on Pinterest
from time to time
and this was going to be my
grand experiment!
The scarf was clearanced for $3.00 - why not
take the chance?! 
 
It didn't work.
Plan B doesn't exist at this point
but I'm determined to
transform this scarf.
 
 

04 February, 2014

Flotsam and Jetsom

It's snowing.
I've already shoveled twice today:
before I left for  the gym
and after my return.
My guess is an easy 6 inches so far,
and it's expected to continue through the night.
 
The library will close early
meaning I won't be working tonight.
So rather than entering my full-on
getting-ready-for-work-mode
I shall blog.
With a cup of hot chocolate
comfortably within reach. 
 
We had our first cross country skiing
experience over the weekend.
I will tell you that I'm willing to give it
 another try,
express thanks that no footage exists of our outing,
and then move on to a new subject.
 
Our trips to Minneapolis are always too short
and very busy.
This trip also included a
Chinese New Year celebration with Aidan
pizza and foosball
pot roast, roasted marshmallows
snow removal and
 our farewells to Proton.
 
 This:
 
called my name at the thrift store during a blitz stop.
I'm embarrassed to admit that
Naphtali was wearing it at the time.
We did the "Oh no, you should take it!"
routine for a couple  minutes
and then it was mine.
 
This is why I don't take pictures.
This sweater is the loveliest, lightest
 mohair concoction in a rich caramel color.
The collar
(I know "fur" is divisive)(but I love it)
creates a soft frame.
The smile it generates starts in my toes!
 
 The plan was to wear it to work today
with a black tee and jeans.
It will make its debut tomorrow!
 
In return for Naphtali's generous capitulation
I offered to alter the sleeves on a
  beautiful black linen tunic
that she would have otherwise walked away from.
See? Win-win!
 
Not one, but two new berets
have recently been finished and made their public debut.
No photos exist of either event.
 
This:
 
is the sweater I'm knitting.
Let me say that again:
I'm knitting myself a sweater!
 
My list of things to try someday
includes several items that I should just
well, try.
This past year has already seen so many new
experiences why let
a small detail like primitive needle skills
prevent me launching another
new project?!
 
Actually, I recently read some good advice that went something like this:
Knitting dishcloths won't teach you to knit socks.
If you want to knit socks, then knit socks.
 
Here's to "knitting socks" in the new year!

30 January, 2014

Appropriate

The third word to describe how I want to
 be seen is appropriate.
 
Healthy.
Casual.
Appropriate.
 
So, here's where I am:
 
I hadn't planned to even think about
spring/summer clothes
until April, but everyone else seems to be...
 
Our weather can be unpredictable until
well into April.
Because my internal thermostat
is wacko
my current supply of clothes are
lighter and layerable
and hopefully will see me through
for a while, yet.
 
The undeniable fact, though, is that with my weight loss
I have no spring/summer clothes.
 
If I'm going to shop I want to add
pieces that will fit a broader plan for this
next phase of building my "look."
 
I've spent  many hours
The starting point always seems the
biggest challenge.
Two neutrals?  Three?
A favorite painting?
A scarf?
Just tell me where to start!
 
In spite of my ruminations it has been a good week.
Important decisions have been made;
Nails?  Shorter.
Hair? Longer.
The third word.
 
While looking through my closet for something else
I found several unexpected items that
helped shape a plan.
 
For whatever reason these things
have survived both the moving purge
and the weight loss shuffle and were buried, forgotten,
in the depths of my closet.
 
 
A blue Missioni-style sweater.
A plaid fabric belt. (!?!)
A pair of blue tweed pumps.
Blue and white cardigan.
 
 
 
Add the tan bag
- my favorite summer bag -
and I think we can see a pattern developing.
 
At this point I'm happy to go with a
plan in navy.
It's a good starting place for me.
I'm excited to get started.
 
 
 
 


26 January, 2014

Sunday Afternoon

I should be driving, so today counts as
a free day.
Free days - as you know - should
be used for projects or naps
or movie marathons
but shouldn't be wasted on ordinary
household tasks like
laundry.
 
The weather kept us from making the trip
to Minneapolis to
 say goodbye to
Aidan's dog, Proton.
He wasn't himself when they came for Christmas
and a trip to the vet yielded a
sad diagnosis.
 
We were already on the calendar for the
Chinese New Year program
coming at the of this week, but it
seemed urgent to make
the trip now.
Unfortunately the weather interfered and we
made the call to stay home.
So we skyped instead!
We were able to chat.
Charlie added his greetings.
Proton responded to our voices and wagged his tail.
 
None of us know what the next few days
will bring.  So we were glad
to see Aidan and Proton.
We talked and laughed together.
It was far from perfect, but
it was good.
 
 

17 January, 2014

Senior Discount

I've noticed that many
retailers
restaurants
service providers
calculate senior status
beginning at different ages.
 60 being the most common with
an occasional 55 to be found. 
 
Apparently This Old House marches to its
own beat on this one.
Or has a terribly slow/thorough process
for finding seniors.
 
This came in the mail for me today:


 
 
Such a deal!
 
 
 

16 January, 2014

Thursday Morning

My haiku challenge has ended.
On Tuesday the last one was composed and posted.
You'd think that after a solid year, those few minutes
would still automatically beckon.
Nope.
No topics clamored for expression as I walked to work
and back yesterday.
No snippets pushed their way into my
consciousness as I woke this morning.
Seems odd that something so vital to your
everyday rhythms for that length of time
could so easily stop.
 
I am thinking of planning on a new
- but less formal -
challenge.
How to go about it
will require some thought and
coordination.
It will take me waaay
outside my comfort zone, as they say.
 
But I can remember thinking
that kickboxing/gymrattery was waaay
outside said zone.
A new ten-week session has begun at the gym.
There are 60+ students
and four of them are part of our regular
class time. 
I've agreed to be a coach, assisting
a woman who has done this
for previous sessions.
We're not instructors.
 
We help/support the newbies as they
sort through all the terms and techniques,
 easing them into the mainstream
of class activity.
Four days in and so far, so good.

I'll get back to you with that other project.

 
 
 


14 January, 2014

365 Homeward


The scent of wood smoke

Rides the north wind suggesting

That warmth awaits me.

13 January, 2014

364/365 Passage


We track our times of

Challenge through those dear faces

Standing alongside.

12 January, 2014

363/365 January Sunrise


Neon lavenders

And pinks overlay the fresh

hues of dawning day.

11 January, 2014

362/365 Over the Rainbow


Certain memories

Replay in technicolor

Dazzling wistful eyes.

10 January, 2014

361/365 Fine Lines


New territories

Of thought and practice require

Careful attention.

Don't Call Me - I'll Call You

Some days, all you can do is laugh at yourself.
In a year filled with personal challenges
and new experiences
I've encountered an unexpected hurdle.
 
 
I've recently upgraded traded up to a smart phone.
Not the smartest phone,
 but definitely smarter than the old one.
(The kind referred to in movies as a $10 burner phone.)
 
And yes, it will make certain 
communications easier.
And, yes, I expected a certain learning
 curve would be involved. 
 
The biggest challenge, so far?
Learning to carry it.
 
A gadget that has to be on or near my person?
At all times?
In an accessible manner?
Who thought this would be a good idea?
 
Do I want it in my right-hand coat pocket
when I run into the store?
Then my keys have to go somewhere else. 
When I return to the car it has to be
removed from the pocket
before the seat belt is applied.
Can't just dump it in my purse
can't leave it home
can't answer it in the car
can't stand the thought of carrying it
from one room to the other.
And on and on and on.
 
The old phone was treated as
a phone.  It sat on my desk
 - next to the land line-
unless I was using it.
Which wasn't very often.
In fact, I blithely and
routinely ignored it unless a road
trip was scheduled.
It was a safety net for solo travel situations.
 
I still ignore the new one
when I'm in the car.
Absolutely.
It stays in one spot when I
roam the house.
I'll figure it all out
but it makes me laugh to think
I've joined the ranks of those who sit
in parking lots to check
their latest message.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

09 January, 2014

360/365 Quickening


Bleak morning haze,

Thick with silence, dissolves as

The sun climbs westward.

08 January, 2014

359/365 Day's End


From behind closed doors

Comes the deep rasping chorus

Of well-earned sleep.

07 January, 2014

358/365 Pause for Breath


A satisfied air

Of relief follows the end

Of scheduled effort.

The Unexpected Delights of Rural Iowa

I ran a few errands earlier today.
 
I'm on my way home
- maybe three miles from the house -
when I crest a hill and looking
forward to the bottom
  see the unmistakable
white heads of two
- count 'em 2 -
bald eagles in the middle of the road
worrying a bit of roadkill.
 
They lifted away as the car came nearer
and I watched their shadows
circle past me to turn and land again.
There was no traffic from either direction
so I took my time
and enjoyed the sight.
 
 
Did I have a camera!?
Of course not, so I'll close with this image
courtesy of Google.
 
 


06 January, 2014

357/365 January's Yield


Springtime’s fertile fields

Lay barren and snow-swept by

Winter’s bitter winds.

05 January, 2014

Oh the thinks I had thought!

Today was filled
with shiny expectation!
My list had fun entries
sprinkled among the laundry and dishes
and normal getting-ready-for-the-week items.
 
I was going to post a couple recent outfits
- and then I went to edit the photos -
so that's not going to happen this week.
 
But I'll give myself credit
(take it where you can)
for actually having taken photos!
They are an afterthought, at best.
 
I was also going to activate a new gadget
but it requires information
from my current service provider
so that means business hours tomorrow.
 
Downtown Abbey is still ahead.
 
Here's a sop
as the planned pictures
were a flop:
 
 
Naphtali and I had our nails "done" the
Monday before Christmas.
She opted for a pedicure in preparation
for her trip to Haiti.
I had my first shellac manicure.
It will be three weeks tomorrow and
they still look like we just left the salon.
Growth is evident at the base of the nails but
tips and color are intact
and still vibrant.
What do they use to remove this stuff!?
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


356/365 Where Friends Gather


Warm eyes and knowing

Smiles offset the brutal cold

Of winter’s icy touch.

04 January, 2014

355/365 Heft


Wool socks, either plain

Or bright, add comfort when faced

With bitter cold days.

03 January, 2014

354/365 Fronts


Banshee winds assail

My senses creating cold

In the midst of warmth.

Granola

My sister-in-law gave us
homemade granola for Christmas.
 
It was delicious and didn't
last very long.
 
I asked for the recipe.
She obliged.
A batch has already been made and enjoyed.

Here's how it works: 
 gather ingredients and equipment
 
stir together
 
 bake in 10 minute increments
 
add almonds and back in the oven
 
mmm - golden and delicious.
 
This is the recipe as I made it:
 
3 C. rolled oats
1 generous tsp. cinnamon
1/3 C ground flaxseed
3 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. oil
1/4 C honey
1/4 C brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 C whole almonds
1/3 C sunflower nuts
 
Preheat the oven to 325F. 
Toss the oats, flaxseed and cinnamon together.
Mix honey, oil, sugar, and vanilla in a separate bowl.
Pour over oat mixture and
mix well.
Spread on cookie sheet covered with
parchment paper.
Bake 10 minutes. Stir.
Add almonds.
Bake 10 minutes.  Stir.
Add sunflower nuts.
Bake 10 minutes. 
Turn oven off but leave in oven
another 5 minutes.
 
My SIL used 2 cups of oats,
no flaxseed,
1/3 C almonds
 and added
pistachios(rather than sunflower nuts)
 and 2/3 C craisins
 (after cooling for several minutes). 
 
Tasty by the handful
or with milk and blueberries!