One of Many Cautionary Tales
It seems much of New York City is under construction! Gone, or nearly gone, are those big flat industrial areas where dead trains are left to rust. In place of tired trains are new grand and elegant buildings under construction. Who will ever fill all those over-priced suites and condos? New York City, this time, was a city covered with scaffolding in my favorite neighborhood…Chelsea at Ninth Avenue all the way to the Javits.
So, what is a girl to do with such time in NYC but eat and search for wonderful finds! Firstly, I ordered some divine goods that will arrive over the next several months. I visited all my favorite booths and bought and dreamed and swooned and bought some more! The books, always my favorites, and John Derian’s booth in Accent was dreamy as usual. Tuesday at John’s booth is doughnut day! Big flat brown pastry boxes of doughnuts from his favorite maker of such sin. Ah, what a glorious thing it is to be a shop owner!
Lets talk food here. You know I adore new haunts and even more so if the food is heaven…which it mostly was. Day one, I started with lunch at Il Buco Alimentari & Vineria over on Great Jones in the Bowery. What a lunch! And what a great lunch date with Jeanette Farrier! If you do find yourself at their bar counter, by all means, order the fried artichokes! I could astro travel there right now for a serving of those crisp bits of grace! I also ate at Balaboosta on Mulberry Street…such a fine meal of small plates from Israel not unlike Ottolenghi’s recipes from “Plenty” and “Jerusalem.” I hope to get the Balaboosta cookbook in soon! There was a meal or two at Pastai on 9th Avenue, which is an artisan pasta bar! And finally a meal at Buvette on Grove Street. A wee bit of a disappointment but the small space is quirky and worth a visit.
Bae Takes on a Snow Day
Bae is my granddaughter, who has a spirit of adventure during any storm! We, in New England, have weathered way too many snow days! I am wearing those tracks on my tired old black snow boots the spikes of which keep me upright (mostly.) The red snow shovel is about to be grafted to my left hand, and those snow boots have taken on the image of Manolo’s in my snow-blinded mind!
Last week I opened a dresser drawer I rarely visit…it contained yoga clothes and stacks of bathing suits…neither of which I much use. I once said buying a bathing suit is one of life’s most daunting experiences. I have never been a swimmer and look like a bag of bell peppers in a bathing suit so why do I have five of them…the bathing suits, not the bell peppers! When snow is pilled around my little igloo, I wonder what is going on with the bathing suits. Have they gone dancing with the lycra yoga pants? Will Mike, my much adored, well paid, snowplow guy really show up? What is happening with my Hellibores who are buried under mountains of frozen snow? So many questions…all pondered over a wee dite of single malt scotch!
Hang tight for Spring…it must be just around the bend or maybe I am!
“Future Beauty” at Peabody Essex Museum
January brought with its dip into the unknowable freeze, a trip to the Peabody Essex Museum. I always forget how much I adore that place! Sadly, “Future Beauty” is no longer there but this might have been my favorite piece. Can you imagine a frock like this one for a day at the store? Miss Rita Rose would be wearing a matching item, of course, and she would flounce a bit and then plop down to be as close to the heat source as possible. I might have a difficult time sitting in the thing but would do my own fair share of flouncing. Ah, if only it were possible and my own legs as slim as those featured. Now, mind you, this little item does nothing in the warmth category…but such style!
About a thousand years ago, when I was living another life in California, my dear friend Lone gave me this Aebleskiver pan. She gifted me this item with a recipe and a magic crochet needle. All of which will be used to create the wonders of an aebleskiver! Now…listen up here…this is an essential pan to get yourselves through the freeze of January. I will add the recipe, and you can whip over to William Sonoma to fetch such a pan. Search through your great aunt’s crochet basket for the magic thin crochet needle or use a small-gage knitting needle. While I have had my share of love for the virtues of kale and swiss chard of all sorts…nothing beats a bit of fat, a little sweet, and an aebleskiver on a bitter January day!
1 1/4 cup flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp ground cardamon
3/4 cup milk
1/3 cup beer
2 eggs separated
1/2 stick butter
1 tbl. sugar
1/4 tsp salt
About 1/2 stick butter for baking…
Mix flour, baking powder and cardamon well with the milk, beer, egg yokes and the melted butter, salt and sugar is now added. At the end, fold in the stiffly beaten egg whites. Heat the pan on top of the stove…add a bit of the melted butter used for baking into each well of the pan. I use a small gravy scoop to add the batter to each of the seven pan wells. This is the tricky part but very doable… once the little orbs have cooked underside…circle the magic wand of either knitting needle or crochet hook around each of the seven and when ready scoop it round. (make, sense?) Continue to cook on the freshly scooped side. Serve hot with either a small mound of powdered sugar or superfine sugar and always Smuckers raspberry jam on the side! First dip the aebleskiver into a touch of sugar and then into the jam! Sinful, I know, but what better way to survive a polar vortex. Pop by my house if this seems confusing, and I will give a demonstration on the joys of making these little gems! Good Luck!
Was I Kidding…GREY!
So here we are again…end of year, Christmas madness, birthday soon…none of this makes for a gentle December! This is the month I make a new bucket list. I revisit the old list and then I check into the bucket list from a few years back. Well…no surprise! Same old haunts get rolled over with the exception of that trip to India. I have left it off the list this year. And then there are all the January intentions…the gym attendance, losing weight, reading more, endless dinner parties, which never seem to get served in that dining room of mine. So this year, I vow to gain weight, I shan’t join the gym, NO ONE is invited to dinner for the whole damn 2014! I am calling this advance thinking in the reverse. Maybe some weight will peel off, maybe someone will insist to pop in for dinner, and for sure I will indulge in the stack of books longing to be read on cold grey days like this.
This afternoon I wandered with the Rita Rose in one of our favorite cemeteries. I love a good, quiet walk among the headstones. Today I realized my adoration for the planted ones is the sense of order. So unlike life. I think of all those lives buried beneath the stones; I can be quite certain the lives lived were totally without the order I now see. I think of the urgency of their lives and how not one of us expect to be gone one day and maybe buried in such a place. Tidy, well raked and with very few tasteless plastic flowers. With such creative lives these folks must have lived, I dare say the tender maintance of their sites has little to do with their “one wild and precious life” now gone. (If you haven’t read poet Mary Oliver’s “The Summer Day”…it is one to read again and again.)
On another pensive note this grey December day…what became of all that creativity? The headstones long for a sassy etching of words that tell me more than “My Redeemer Liveth.” PLEASE! Tell me, as I pass by your resting place, that you loved art, you ate to excess, you read endless books, you walked the woods, you adored your dog. I will pause and pay my respects to your delicious excess!
Late 15th Century Carving
Yesterday was one of those Tuesday’s! I tucked myself into Big Jane Honda just as first light appeared and drove to the GO Bus station off Route 128. Thinking, the whole time, I must be mad! Those of you who know me know I have a tendency to be a tad impulsive and those who love me…love that about me. Except, of course, for the two former husbands and those who don’t love me at all! I heard on NPR, a few weeks back, this lively interview with Janet Cardiff and her Forty Part Motet sound installation at The Cloisters in Manhattan. It was just too tempting to avoid the jaunt!
Mr. GO Bus dropped me at 31st & 8th Avenue. I dashed across the street, took the A Train to the tip-top of Manhattan, walked through Fort Tryon Park where the gardens must have been splendid in the deep summer. Just beyond Fort Tyron Park are the grounds for The Cloisters. Magnificent! In the intimate Fuentiduena Chapel (see photo below) were forty speakers positioned at shoulder-level. I could wander and stop and wander again hearing each movement and every sound that composed this fourteen-minute motet. I could stay all day and, in fact, I can’t believe I didn’t spend the night being swept up by Thomas Tallis‘s sacred work!
Fuentiduena Chapel, The Cloisters
Forty speakers, one Spanish Crucifix from 1150-1200, a handful of quiet people caught up in the wonder of it all! There was little else but to head back through Fort Tyron Park, board the A Train to 52nd Street, then the C Train to 23rd Street, then a brisk walk to Le Grainne Cafe over there on 9th Avenue and 21st. Have a quick lunch, including a giant bowl of latte, dash off across the street to Billy’s for two sinful cupcakes to be devoured on the 4 pm return GO Bus! I have to pinch myself to know the whole of Tuesday wasn’t simply a dream!
This Morning’s Cemetery Walk
Wasn’t it yesterday when this very tree was in fresh green bud? What the hell happened to summer! I promised myself that I would blog more often. I thought I would even add a recipe or two with these frequent blogs. I would keep all of you, who dare to check in, entertained with the nonsense of life, the joy of shop keeping, and the social world of one chic little pug named Miss Rita Rose. So now it is deep fall…the leaves are going fast. It is time to fire off a blog!
The Magical Diane Hanna
One of the most delicious early fall capers was a trip to Centerville Historical Museum down on the Cape and a visit to Diane Hanna’s show “Miz Haversham Revisited.” Get in your car immediately, head to the Cape, and prepare yourself for a lovely wander in one of the most charming museums around.
Now…I must tell you Diane has one whole room. A lovely aubergine-colored room filled with the imagination of our favorite poet. It was one of those beautiful fall days when I drove down. The leaves were just turning. I always prefer leaves without a rake in hand. I know Diane and her work well enough to have known I would be in for a treat. I was not prepared for a feast! Diane’s show will be up until December 7th so you have a bit of time.
Now, Darlings, having directed you to the car and a bit of a road trip, I want to remind you that this weekend is Roslindale Open Studios. This is an event not to be missed! We have a grand lineup of four artists, and I know other neighbors are hosting artists in their stores. Get down to Rozzi, spend a day, buy some art, dine out in one of our award-wining restaurants and call it a weekend! Take the road trip to Centerville on your next Saturday off!
September's Crescent Moon Over Canandaigua Lake, New York
Well, this evening I tucked away all those two-piece bikinis you have seen me lounging in at the pool. I also tucked away Miss Rita Rose’s collection of summer frocks…the wonderful little sundresses with the nipped-in waist and the boleros to match she so loves to wear. We are, the two of us, looking into the box of woolies…our sweaters and wool caps, our mittens and winter coats. All that scratchy wool stuff that at first wearing is too warm and then, come December, isn’t warm enough!
August was one of the most amazing weather months here in Roslindale. I had, as you know, the whole of August off or so the sign on my door said. ”Off” is such an odd term. It wasn’t entirely off, it was more like “ON.” We had a number of house guests, a number of dinner parties, a trip to the gift show in New York City (which I adore doing though it is work). I cooked just about everything from Ottolenghi’s “Plenty” and “Jerusalem” cookbooks, and soon his very latest “Ottolenghi” will be in the store. Looking back at August, I seem to have had my tits over the oven much of the month!
I must have eaten a couple hundred ears of fresh corn this summer, rubbed with sweet butter and dusted ever so lightly with Maple Sweet Pepper, which we will soon be selling in our Fall Pantry section. This Maple Sweet Pepper is to die for! It is the creation of a talented spice maven in Portland, Maine whom I met, by chance, on a Wednesday Farmer’s Market up in Portland. I will tell you more about the Pantry and all its goods suitable for gifting once October begins.
Antique Bronze Buddha Lamp
This little beauty is one of the finds from upstate New York. I found more antique salts, some wonderful silver plate serving pieces, and several amazing old cameras with expandable lenses. I know so little about cameras but loved their look and worn leather cases. I am a dreadful sucker for the lovingly used object!
Rita Rose and I have taken to the local cemetery for our evening strolls. Now, those of you who know me, know how much I adore a truly delicious obit. Along with that, I am an incurable grave stone reader. I think it must come from the ashes of those pets and humans I have loved. I have the ashes of Wally and Lulu ensconced in a fine clay urn made by an artist in Idaho. Byrd Swift’s ashes are in an antique Han Dynasty clay urn that once held cosmetics for the tomb of the departed nobility.
For a time I had some of my mother’s ashes until I scattered her over her favorite fishing hole in Markleeville, California. After my father died, my mother called to see if I wanted “some” of my father’s ashes! How do you resist “some” of dad…you don’t! Weeks later a pound or two of dad arrived in a zip-lock bag tucked into a UPS box that also held a one-pound wedge of Parmesan cheese and a Chinese stir fry cookbook. We are Italian and often generous to a fault! To my mother it was not unusual to divide up dad’s ashes nor was it odd that they should arrive with such a bizarre assortment of gifts! Perhaps that is why I like a good obit and a stroll around a quiet graveyard just as the sun is setting.
Joanne Rossman from John Ryan Johnson on Vimeo.
It came as a delightful surprise…well, maybe shock is more like it. I got a call from New York City from filmmaker John Ryan Johnson who told me that he was hired by American Express to make a video for Small Business Saturday. He was charged with choosing one retail shop to film in the Boston marketplace and HE CHOSE US! It was our website that reeled him in.
Well, that got Rita Rose in such a tizzy that she was running circles around me stirring up dust bunnies from who knows where. You remember what she was like over an outfit for the royal nuptials! It was all she could think about…what little pug outfit for a trim Miss Rita Rose to wear? She settled on basic beige with dark accents. The girl has such style!
John Ryan Johnson arrived with his wonderful crew and spent 7 or 8 hours filming everything in sight….I told every story I knew ’til I was hoarse. But look what magic he made! I am so thrilled to have this wonderful commercial. American Express will be putting on their Small Business Saturday site and may use snippets for a national commercial. We will keep you posted.
An lastly, kudos to my Rita Rose who is always the star of any show and to Julie at Levesque Creative for our website and for her own star turn in the this little gem of a video.
Ryan Johnson Films the Store
What a Friday that was two weeks ago! Such a flurry of attention! Needless to say, Rita Rose loved each and every minute. She insisted on a hair and makeup person while I went au natural. This grand and exciting caper was for American Express and their Small Business Saturday promotion. Lots of talent in one room making 6 Birch Street look terrific. Lots of equipment too while John Ryan Johnson worked his magic on what might be a two-minute clip for TV or U-tube. Please visit Ryan’s website and see the work of this talented man: jrjfilm.com. It was an honor to have Ryan and his remarkable crew at the store!
Rita Rose in Her Element...
Can you believe this month! Hotter than the hubs of hell as my mother loved to say. She had other choice words for such heat but, in the interest of class, I shall leave all her comments on weather to the imagination!
Once again, the store will be closed for the whole month of August. Miss Rita is counting down the days! I believe she has made plans for a little ride in the sidecar of Kirby’s big red Vespa. Perhaps you didn’t know about Kirby…he is the new boy/dog next door that has pitched himself at Rita Rose for months. With all this endless heat, Miss Rita has finally given in to his persuasion. Kirby is over joyed but I suspect it is simply the red Vespa she is interested in. I know the way pugs think…she sees herself streaking around town on one of our hot evening with the wind whipping her little face, tongue hanging out, while wearing some skimpy midriff thing. Leaving poor Kirby at the counter of the Pet Cabaret holding a bag of frozen thigh bones in his dark little paws.
Sitting on the chaise, in the Florida room, is a new stack of “reads” for the month of August. A client, Paul Kenney, has written a novel on South Boston titled “Paths Along the Way,” which will be my first adventure of August. Other book I hope to read are “The Coat Route: Craft, Luxury, & Obsession on the Trail of a $50,000 Coat” by Meg Lukens Noonan and “Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity” by Katherine Boo. Talk about a book journey for the month…from the wildly expensive coat to Mumbai and that doesn’t even include Southie!
Happy and safe end of summer from Rita Rose, from the store, and from this purveyor!
Best Legs of the Weekend!
Above item is reason #1 to head to P.Town anytime during the summer! Is it the heels or the pink bike that makes this man such a catch? We did arrive, the five adults, three dogs, and two lovely children to darling John’s house in P.Town…what a kind man he is to put up with such an assortment of guests. Of course, the early summer scene in P.Town is delicious as is the food at a new fantastic little place called The Canteen. We didn’t do too badly ourselves with the dining and the tequila on John’s back porch.
Voted Best Butt in Town!
What can I tell you! This fine rear-end was found moments after Mr. Pink Stripe and just before a fish taco at The Canteen, along with a side of grilled brussel sprouts and lemon/lavender ice for desert! Then a snooze over a good book and later a wander to the beach with Miss Rita Rose who insisted on dragging out her striped beach umbrella…you tell me, does life get better than this?
This is it! The Canteen.
I would almost drive there right now, this very minute, for a fish taco and a side of brussels were it not for a Saturday stint at Joanne Rossman’s fine establishment!
Another Favorite Destination...Gloucester
Last weekend, Miss Rita Rose and I headed to the North Shore for an overnight in Gloucester. I tell you…I have been living large this summer! No beach scene but wonderful food and long walks filled with lust for a summer house. I suspect having a summer house is like parenting a teenager. Moments of pure joy and years of maintenance! As a friend once told me while cleaning up his boat (which spent much of its life on his paved driveway), ”Do you know the two best times in a man’s life? When he buys his boat and when he sells his boat!” I keep reminding myself of that as I lust after another house, with or without a “water view.”
Little Miss Rita is going into Angell for a bit of surgery on Tuesday. Its a pug thing…a bit of adjustment for her snoring! I expect she will be back at the store on Thursday with a complete nose-job.
Civil War Memories at Walnut Cemetery
On the 27th of May, Rita Rose took me to her favorite place to walk. I had forgotten that it was Memorial Day, and as we approached a lovely grassy knoll, there ahead of us was a small gathering of very senior folks. Some were wearing their World War II garb…the khaki uniform of the early forties. There was a color guard, and a bugle played taps as a veteran laid this wreath on the Civil War memorial statue. I was caught short, all else stopped while the mournful notes bounced off headstones and the surrounding woods. I thought of all the wars since that “great and final war”…Korean, Vietnam, Desert Storm, Iraq, Afganistan! The endless killing and all that sadness filling the world. When will it ever end or, better still, will it ever end?
When I was a child, Memorial Day was called Decoration Day. I thought it was a day named specially for my brother. Each Decoration Day we would clip lilacs and snowball flowers from the garden, and once in a while there would be a rose or two that dared to blossom in an early Nevada spring. My father would use the kitchen table to make the most beautiful bouquets out of our garden to decorate the grave of my young brother. I loved this day about as much as I loved Christmas. It was the one time that my father’s scarred and gentle hands made exquisite arrangements, and I watched in complete silence as the magic of his work took shape. I wish it were still Decoration Day and that there were no war wounded or dead for any of us to mourn. Being a child was once such a simple thing.
Birthday Morning for Rita Rose
If ever you have a chance do talk to Miss Rita about the endless celebration she insisted upon. I know she will tell you details that pug would never tell me!
She had a grand day of turning six…endless dog attention from her latest fan…that scruffy new boy on the block who is a black short-haired mix of delicious rescue. Rita Rose plays hard to get at times though she does seem to be a dreadful flirt with Rufus.
Today we are heading out to P.Town and a stay with our friend John. There will be quite a collection of us down there. (Does that dear John know what he is getting into?) Included in the group are three dogs, two grandkids (mine!), a daughter, a son-in-law and the darling Patch men (Don and John). The car is loaded with assorted beach needs…booze, food and Rita’s favorite two-piece with the little striped twirl skirt. More on these adventures later!