Time For an Adventure
This is a copy of the very same postcard I sent to my soon-to-be ex-husband once I settled in on the East Coast. That was years ago now but I continue to love a loosely packed suitcase, a pair of sturdy shoes, and the world to discover. Summer does that to a person…you could be poor as a church mouse and still dream of sitting in some little Paris cafe. You might be smoking a Gauloises, you might be wearing an off-the-shoulder number, and for sure your shoes would be the best bit of the tart you dream of becoming.
So that is it Darlings…a June fling…and given that it is nearly July, I may have to revisit this fantasy. July, which could be hotter than the hubs of Hades (an old favorite saying of my mother’s). This July might find me standing in line, waiting for two scoops of a favorite ice-cream. Of course I arrived at this magical ice-cream stand in my red convertible…the top will be down (the convertible top and not the one I will be wearing!). Perhaps before I find this magical ice-cream place…which will be tucked in along a country road lined with tall shade trees, I will have discovered a little farm stand and picked up a dozen freshly laid eggs. While there I will flirt shamelessly with the young farmhand who drops an egg or two while I lean in to pay him. My shoulder-length blond hair will be tied back in a smart little kercheif. The vixen I long to be will have its way with me in July.
Then comes August. The store will be closed the whole month…I shan’t be sporting long blond hair, nor my Paris heels, and there will be no fresh young farm boys to have my way with. What a dull month August will be! Just me and Miss Rita Rose stretched out on the chaise lounge eating bon-bons and reading trashy novels. I will think every morning about yoga and going off to the Y and on some days I might even wear my yoga clothes (which is nearly as good as going…right?) and I will feel some small sense of guilt that I didn’t make it to either the Y or yoga. A month off is filled with good intentions, too much eating, a movie or two, and a whole lot less income…but what a price to pay!
Nine years ago, when I bought this house, the former owner waxed on about the “water view.” Swear to God I have been searching for that water view for most of these past nine years. I have looked in early spring when the leaves are newly formed but the trees are not yet full. I have looked in the dead of winter over brown branches of tall trees with my feet ankle-deep in snow. I have leaned over the balcony as far as possible to glimpse the water view.
Two weeks ago, my neighbor came up to the newly restored balcony, and he commented on my “water view.” I gave him one of my know-it-all snickers with a sort of “you ain’t foolin me pal” response…it was then that he turned me a quarter of a turn to see Corita Kent’s watertower, Dorchester Bay, and off in the lovely blue distance a small island! Oh, and did I mention that on a really clear day, I can see the Eiffel Tower over there in Paris!
I wonder how many times in my life a quarter of a turn could have made such a huge difference! It is sobering to think that I have such resistance to really “seeing” the all-of-it! So now I have a water view, a new balcony, and another divine place in which to day dream. But…dear friends, should you find yourselves on the high sea, and I am with you on that yacht…for heavens sake don’t let me navigate…lord only knows where we might end up!
Someone Has a Project in the Nevada Desert
For a truly great adventure…head west! Which is just what I did in early April. My brother asked for cooking lessons back in December. It seemed a fine idea given that I adore both cooking and my brother! A dear client of mine had gone to visit her family in Iran and brought back two packets of the most divine saffron to share with my brother. What saffron! And, what an amazing time I had for three days of chopping, searing, roasting, toasting, eating, laughing and drinking!
Of course, I drove past my childhood home. I saw the broad brick front porch with the turned iron railings, and I remembered, like it was yesterday, leaning over those black iron railings and tossing my wedding bouquet into a gaggle of hands raised high above heads to catch the bouquet (it was the late fifties and marriage was on the mind of every single girl). Had I tad more sense, I would have tossed the groom and kept the bouquet and then sped off in my hunter-green, four-door Dodge!
I traveled between mountain ranges on smooth black asphalt to Eureka, Nevada to visit my daughter Andrea. I rode these highways as a child sitting in the wide back seat of my Uncle Woodrow and Aunt Helen’s white Buick. Back then, we were heading out on the summer rodeo circuit to small, dusty towns where Woodrow would win medals for his calf-roping skills. We stayed in motels with neon lights and cheap chenille bedspreads.
All those miles of traveling Highway 50, I inhaled my Uncle Woodrow’s Kent cigarette smoke and listened to the likes of Patsy Cline on the radio. All the while between Patsy Cline and the dark conversations of a marriage about to go sour, I dreamed of being Dale Evans, while in the front seat, two folks were riding in a haze of disappointment and eventual divorce. Me…I had Dale Evans as my side-kick!
You Gotta Love a Place That Offers Free Air!
The minute my plane touched down in Reno I remember the state song: “Home means Nevada, home means the hills, home means the sage and the pines”. Swear to God, I couldn’t sing that little ditty on this side of life but out there…no problem! It is not a particularly beautiful song nor can I sing a note but put me behind the wheel of a rental car with open desert and wide skies and you would think I wrote the thing!
I think, one day, when I no longer want to hold court at 6 Birch, I will leave the key to such a lovely store under the welcome mat. I will hang up my snow shovel, my New England dreams, my access to the North Shore and that Cape Cod I so love, and I will head west where there is no ocean and all is dry and the honesty of place is felt in your bones. There must be a Dale Evans jacket with fringe waiting out there for me.
Miss Rita Rose Does a Marilyn
Well, this might just be a week of remarkable news! First, can we talk here about the new law in Massachusetts. I am mighty proud of a state that has declared it is no longer legal to “up skirt.” Of course, before this madness was outlawed, it was legal. All of us who are skirt wearers could well have had our cotton knickers shot from the mini cam on some toe of a Doc Martens….said Doc Martens stood next to us on the T and was worn by some innocent looking man who cozied over and had his way with our underpinnings!
So now it is illegal and who the hell knew it was ever legal? ”Up skirting” is one of those terms like “selfie,” new to the game of language and maybe even a good Scrabble word. Either way, beware of those frisky Doc Martens-wearing mini cams on innocent looking blond boys.
Then there is the weather! Can I just fester a tiny bit here about winter, which seems to be endless. When I moved to Boston a thousand years ago, there was a pothole on Commonwealth Ave. that was finally filled by a local with a twin bed mattress! I see pot holes that could swallow a queen-size Serta Posturepedic.
I wonder if those little sweet yellow buds of crocus that I spotted on yesterday’s walk were stunned into death by today’s 14 degree weather and the wee dusting of yet another layer of snow. I wonder if I will piss and moan when the dread summer of ninety plus degrees and high humidity arrives…will I sit quietly remembering this winter, mop my weary brow with a cold cloth. Will I have the good grace not to complain. I just don’t know and can’t promise a damn thing…but bring on the heat, I am willing to give it a try!
You do know that the whole purpose of this blog is to tout the store and all its lovely goodies that are arriving, and you do know I rarely go on about the store. It does still exist, and there are some mighty fine products for you to spend your hard-earned bucks on…come visit me. I promise to mind my manners, wrap your goods nicely, and keep all my opinions to myself…for at least five minutes!
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.