‎"...a little 'trouty', but quite good" ~ Eve Kendall, North By Northwest

Saturday, March 31, 2007


Last night our friends Steve and Sarah came over for dinner.

Sarah brought us sunflowers she had planted in one of those little trays where you can break apart the pots and plant the whole thing. I asked what I should do with them and she told me to put them in a sunny window. She didn't realize I needed more guidance than that and I am too embarrassed to tell her as we're still in the sort of new friend phase. She is a gardener and I am afraid she will fire me as a friend once she learns the truth.

After dinner I tried to get as much gardening information out of Sarah as I could - while trying not to appear like I was taking advantage. Where is the line between after dinner chat and a consultation for which I should be billed? There is a fig tree in our future. She also suggested espaliering a pear tree, but I can barely spell it, much less do it. Meanwhile, Chris and Steve were discussing the application of different alternative energy techniques. I think Chris was doing the same thing I was.

This morning I put the tray of sunflowers in an asparagus serving bowl (made by another friend and used more than one might think) and set it in our front window. I figured it should be watered, but it seems so delicate..... I watered it through a tea infuser. I may at some point invest in a spray bottle.

I am praying that I don't kill the sunflowers, as it will be sad not to see Steve and Sarah all summer while I make excuses as to why they can't come over.

Dinner: seared tuna with soba noodles, and mixed greens with sugared pecans, blue cheese and dried cranberries. I also made my knock-off of the spinach, jalapeno, feta dip they used to serve at City Spirit in Denver. And plum upside-down cake.

Friday, March 30, 2007


I have a thing for spiders. This one was on a traffic barrier in a parking lot.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Miss Rogers

There is a big excavation pit on the main road going through town. Soon to be more condos. I wish I had taken a picture of the flower shop and green house that used to be there.

The first winter I lived here, I was given a very large plant from that flower shop. It wouldn't have survived in my cottage (nor would it fit - my cottage was literally a renovated garden shed), so I took it back to the flower shop and asked to exchange it for something less likely to die on arrival. They gave me a gigantic credit, which I used over the next two years. Whenever I felt like I needed to buy myself a little something I'd drop by the flower shop and get a plant - an ornamental pepper (the cats only ate them once), a fig tree, a Norfolk pine..... I also took flowers to everyone who invited me over. I have never been so gracious as when I had that credit.

I have seen painters set up easels across the street from the flower shop, with its buckets of color out front and steamy greenhouse to the side. A locust tree grew right through the roof of the greenhouse while it sat empty.

The foundations have been poured and we will soon see what sorts of dwellings will replace the flower shop. We will probably all refer to them as "the condos where the flower shop used to be" for the next 20 years. People who never saw the flower shop will call it that.

There's a restaurant that's changed name and ownership a dozen times, and how you refer to it is the indicator of how long you've lived here. Even people who never went to the Fogcutter (a previous incarnation) call it "the restaurant that used to be the Fogcutter". I predate the Fogcutter. And my husband predates the restaurant that predates the Fogcutter. Phew.

Of course it does make it difficult to follow directions if you're not from here. The building where the barbeque place used to be is up for rent again. It's across the street from where the coffee shop used to be.

Some friends of ours moved to a town near here. They wanted to go to the Cranberry Festival parade so they checked the paper for the time and parade route. They found the time and discovered that the parade would "follow the same route as last year".

We are nothing if not helpful.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007


"One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating."
-Luciano Pavarotti and William Wright, Pavarotti, My Own Story

Thursday, March 22, 2007


Since it is officially spring, I suppose it is time to delve into my shelf of gardening books and discover what I am already too late for. Our little (much maligned) vegetable garden is cold and brown and looking very unlikely these days. The fence blew down over the winter. I'm not sure which winter. The last living thing - rosemary - finally succumbed and is a monument of deadness in the middle of everything.

The rosemary was doing fine a couple months ago so I snipped some off for Lucy when she was making focaccia. I think that was probably the culprit - its soul slipped out of the fresh snipping. I'm sure it's in one of these gardening books (the information, not the soul).

I know the first thing to do is pull the fence out, put everything in the middle of the garden and burn the whole thing to the ground. That's what people do around here. Burn things. At the first hint of spring the fire department starts doling out burn permits. And then the next thing you know there are these heaps of burning leaves and branches and what-not. I don't know where all the what-not comes from, since we did the same thing in the fall and left not one single twig. The birds have to migrate due to a lack of building materials. But my knowledge of things aviary will have to wait for another post.

This one is strictly botanical.

So I will burn the garden and it will be time for a new fence. Contrary to the predictions of our neighborhood, our garden has been relatively unmolested by local wildlife. This is fairly surprising since it has been guarded by nothing more than bits of crumpled fencing and some very sturdy daylilies. The only possible explanation is that it doesn't look like a garden. Not even to a rabbit.

Once the fence is up I will make little tufts of dirt and put some seeds in. I will wait a few weeks and go to the nursery to buy small plant versions of the seeds that didn't come up. If things go desperately wrong, there's a farmers market down the street and who will be the wiser?

Sunday, March 11, 2007

The Woodstove

Tonight Chris made a fire in the stove outside and set up our little cafe table and chairs for dinner. Sometimes I feel like we should either be living in a yurt or a trailer

The stove is a story in itself. So here goes.

Two winters ago Chris got all hot and bothered about getting a wood stove for our livingroom. It isn't heated by anything except huge south-facing windows and the warmth coming through the floor from downstairs, so it seemed like a good idea. This may have also happened shortly after the storm that knocked down heaps of trees and left us without power for 24 hours (we were the lucky ones). Fond memories of huddling around the fondue pot.

So he goes on ebay and finds the stove I am least aesthetically opposed to. Not that it isn't ugly. It's just charmingly ugly in a way that reminds me of a Phantom Tollbooth drawing. He wins the bid and we pile the kids in the car and drive to New Hampshire.

When we get it home (all 9 billion pounds of it), we discover that it is not something-something listed and therefore we will have to install it squarely in the middle of our smallish livingroom in order to comply with code. I am not okay with this.

So in the driveway it sits, unused. And then one day, when we were trying to throw a surprise birthday beach bash for a friend, it was pressed into service. The evening of the party was drizzly and I, throwing up my hands, said "fine, we'll have it here." I even cleaned my bathroom.

One friend came over and hung a huge blue tarp between some trees. Voilà - a porch. Another friend brought a grill. The only thing we were missing was a beach fire to roast our marshmallows over.

Thank God for the woodstove.

So tonight we sat around in the extra hour of daylight and were grateful that all the food our children spilled will perhaps be eaten by wildlife. We smell like woodsmoke, which makes us seem vaguely exotic. And we enjoyed the centerpiece of nearly dead crocuses Lucy picked today and submerged in a jelly jar.

Dinner: Indian Style Black Bean Burritos

Sunday, March 4, 2007


Yesterday my husband spent the afternoon working in the yard, disassembling a deck that was soon to be a personal injury claim. My mother in law stood in the doorway, asking why it has to go. In her defense, she is blind.

It seems things around here take an eternity. In other cultures, mañana is an acceptable time frame. In the US, we like to have things done. Period. Not at my house, but in general. It seems like success is a finished house, completed goals, a Martha Stewart garden. Anything that's in progress is, conversely, a sign of failure.

At my house, we are all process and not so much realization. The deck may lie in pieces for months, or it may be hauled away to the dump this afternoon. There may or may not be a replacement in our lifetimes. We will have many, many plans for the replacement.

But all is not lost. Lucy helped her dad take the deck apart and discovered a hornets' nest (vacated). Isn't it incredible how precise it is?

So now we're driving around and looking at other people's houses. We're thinking about a trip to Provincetown because we both always have architecture envy when we're there. It would be a great time to go photograph unsuspecting homes and see what we can duplicate.

You may be thinking wait, this is a deck. And you'd be right. And that's our problem, why things take so long. You see a deck (or not, as the case is today), we see a place to put a woodstove and hang out on chilly evenings, a flagstone terrace to put our breakfast table out on, the greenhouse my husband has been itching to build, a sunroom with attached terrace, a wrap-around porch with 2nd floor deck.....

And then my husband starts in about excavating the side of the house and making a walk-out basement. This is when I hold my head and sing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star as loud as I can.


I almost stepped on the first snowdrop of spring - although technically it's not spring yet so it would not have been my fault for stepping on it.