February 1, 2014

New Year, New Home

Well, the 2013 holiday season (post-Thanksgiving) came and went, and while I'd started a Christmas Day post, I only got as far as the first word..."I".  Now, more than a month later, and after several interrupted attempts in January, I'm finally back to give it another go on February 1, so belated Happy New Year (plus 31 days)!

To be fair, I had something of a legitimate excuse for my absence -- I moved.  Again.  Seems like it is something I've done several times during the past few years - actually I have moved twice since 2010 - so while I've learned never to say "never" and certainly nothing is forever (sigh), this move was a deliberate one to a very neat place that I looked long and hard to find. 

The latest move was driven, in part, by my changing job situation and location, so once the job location was settled, I set about to find a place that would meet my fairly short but very firm list of needs.  The past few years have been ones of some compromise involving the location of my residence, and being the "mom" of several beloved if somewhat aged felines that have been with me since the day their little furry selves were born at my former farm in the country, they were the number one non-negotiable.  Where I go, they go.

Fortunately, after several months of scouring the market (which, fortunately, is something I also do as part of my job, so fairly easy to manage), I found the perfect place.  Another requirement was that it be very near my workplace.  That's not something that was important to me in the past, when I actually preferred to be in the country and just far enough from the office (25 miles) that it wasn't too nearby, but was easy to get to via the nearby interstate highway network.

But times change, preferences change, and I've reached a point where, even though I've always loved driving and travel, my days of commuting more than a few minutes are done.  Gas is no longer as cheap as it was back when I had that easy, 30-minute commute, so the goal at this point was to find a place that met my needs in a pleasant location that was convenient to work and to all the other amenities I need regularly (grocery, bank, cleaners, gas station, and a little discretionary shopping and dining).  In other words, a place in suburbia.  Hard to believe, since I abhorred that notion of suburban living for at least 30 years, but age and life have a funny way of reminding you that it's time to adjust the residential priorities. So I did.

Now I'm five minutes from my office and the aforementioned amenities are even closer...yet just enough removed from my home that they're not "in my face" - just a short ride away.  I truly never believed I'd say this, being the city-born girl who is a country girl at heart, but love it!  Sure, I miss the rural landscape right outside my door, but it's only a 15 to 20 minute ride away, so not far at all.  All I really need at this point is a private little patch of grass, some trees, a few pots of flowers, my bird feeder and the ability to watch the neighborhood squirrels figure out where to find nuts, berries and my bird seed.  It's okay...I'm happy to share with all of Mother Nature's creatures, and they provide endless hours of entertainment for the kitties on the other side of the sliding glass door. No, I don't see wild turkey or deer out my kitchen window any longer - sigh - but when I do see them in my travels in the country, I appreciate them even more.

I only arrived at my new suburban abode on New Year's Day, so I have only just begun to get settled, and it will take a while before I have a sense of the rhythm of this place, but I'll be back as often as I can to share the latest evolution here at the abode as I gradually transform this plain box it into what I hope will be home for me and the kitties more than just a few years.  We'll see how it goes!

November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving...Let's Hear It for the Big Bird's Big Day!

It's a lightly snow-covered landscape here in upstate New York for Thanksgiving this year, and cold, too!  The weather gods wreaked a bit of havoc for "home-for-the-holidays" travelers yesterday, but things seem to have settled down now and it's a bright and clear, if very chilly, day.

I recently wrote a post that I shared with friends on Facebook about my disappointment that a lot of the accoutrements of autumn and Thanksgiving were pushed out of view in retail stores almost moments after trick-or-treaters made their annual neighborhood tours.  Hardly an autumnal display of gourds and pumpkins or a traditional turkey dish or platter to be found anywhere and this most American of holidays was still nearly 4 weeks away!  It was so disheartening to me to see the trappings of Christmas, lovely as they are, consume our visual environment in the stores before we've taken a moment to enjoy the rest of the autumn season, the bounty of the annual harvest, and given thanks for our many blessings.  

The nice thing about Thanksgiving is that it's about celebrating food and the importance of sharing it with friends and family and being thankful for the good things in our lives.  It's not about buying stuff and shopping, though the retailers are starting to intrude on the day in ways that I wish they wouldn't.  We can shop 24/7 now, and we don't need to leave the comfort of our chair to do it -- why do stores feel it necessary to open on Thanksgiving Day to sell us stuff and make an extra dollar?  I love the Pizza Hut manager who refused to open his shop on Thanksgiving - and was fired as a result.  Something is very wrong there.  As far as I'm concerned he did the right thing...and more should follow his example.  

Enough ranting, though...it's time to get back to chopping and sauteeing and preparing to take my contribution to a dinner with friends and celebrate the day and friendship and give thanks for my many blessings on this sunny day.

Happy Thanksgiving to you!

November 3, 2013

Spring Ahead, Fall Back - Seasons Changing...

To my utter embarrassment, spring was the last time I posted here.  It was just a very busy spring and summer, and early fall, so now, upon the first day of (Eastern) Standard Time, I've managed to come back to the fold.  I so enjoy reading others' blogs...it has become part of my regular weekend traditions...and it's always a treat.  I owe my patient followers an explanation.

I can't promise I'll be back to routine posting, as I'm in a period of transition again - actually, I hope it's close to the end of my extended period of transition - so things are still a bit hectic, but I hope they'll be on a more permanent footing by the first of the year...time will tell.

In the meantime, I celebrated a "milestone" birthday last week - at least some consider it a milestone when there's a 0 involved.  I just prefer to think of it as hardly any different than the day before or the day after.  The fun part was that I was the happy recipient of the lovely arrangement of flowers, mini-pumpkins and bittersweet pictured above. I put them on the shelf by the window and, this afternoon, the sun shone in to illuminate them at just the right angle.

The sun shining in at a certain angle during mid-afternoon also signaled the aforementioned seasonal change as the sun begins to drop on the horizon an hour earlier than yesterday.  It's the sign that the growing season is done, and winter is around the corner.

I love the fall, when the leaves change and the traditions of autumn - Halloween and Thanksgiving - immerse us in the colors of the harvest and pumpkins, but I've always found the change to EST as a depressing day. We "gained back" the hour that we lost in the spring, and though we don't lose an hour, of course, the hours of daylight, which have been diminishing naturally since late June when they were at their longest, are given a preemptive jolt, and the sunlight disappears by 5pm here in the Northeast.  For two months, I'll endure the loss of late afternoon/early evening light and celebrate again when the winter solstice arrives in December...

Enjoy these early days of November as we fall back into the mid-autumn routine.

March 31, 2013

April flowers...

Happy Easter!

How did it get to be April already?  I just added a post...hard to believe that was a month ago.  Time is flying, but I couldn't be happier that Spring has arrived, on the calendar, at least.  It's starting to get a bit warmer here in eastern upstate New York...finally!  These aren't my crocuses (I wish), I found them on Pinterest (thank you to whoever originally posted them), but they reflect my current sentiments...bring on Spring flowers, starting with these little guys.

Even if April showers are the order of the day (or month), I'll take them if we do, indeed, get more flowers in May, and the leaves on the trees return to remind us that life is renewed, as always at this time of year.  It's such an optimistic time...can't complain about that!

I hope your Easter (or whatever holiday you're celebrating lately) is a wonderful one and spring brings you all the marvelous signs of the season we've been long awaiting!

March 2, 2013

Spring on the way...

It's nearly here.  Some people can't wait for the holidays in December.  I have more excitement for the arrival of spring.  It can never get here soon enough for me.  When you live in the Northeast, where winters can be an on-going challenge between the cold - sometimes bitter cold - and the snow - sometimes interminable snow - the arrival of the birds, the slightly warmer temperatures are a godsend.

A month ago, in early Feburary, I was preparing to head south for a very short - extended weekend, really - trip to South Carolina.  I was due to leave very early on a Saturday morning on a flight that would take me from upstate New York directly to Charlotte, NC, followed soon after by a quick flight to Augusta, Georgia, which is the largest regional airport near my destination in southern South Carolina.  I was to return on a flight that would arrive late on Monday evening, giving me essentially 2 1/2 days of escape in a warmer, if not sunnier, southern town.  Well, the heavy snows that were predicted for the evening before my departure for points south were threatening do in most flights departing from upstate New York that Saturday, so I make some quick changes that pushed my departure back by a day, to Sunday, effectively reducing my trip to 1 1/2 days.  I debated whether to cancel the trip altogether, but opted to go ahead even with the shortened duration  since some escape is better than none.

I arrived at my destination with no trouble and enjoyed most of my visit to a small, very horsey town that I'd known of for many years but had never visited.  Then, mid-afternoon of the day of my departure, I got a text message from my airline advising that my early evening flight home had been cancelled.  Cancelled!  That meant, effectively, that I couldn't leave that day, and would have to settle for an early morning flight (way too early) the next morning.  One might have considered that fortuitous, but I really need to get home sooner rather than later, which meant I'd spend the better part of the next day flying, which is never my preference when I hadn't planned to take that as a day off and be traveling.  Oh, well...not much I could do accept make the best of it, so I did.

What was significant was that it was warm - not hot - but warm at my destination and that was a joy.  I always appreciate grabbing a few days somewhere warm by the time February rolls around.  It's the best way I've found to fight off cabine fever and the "midwinter blues" that invariable envelope me by late January.  I'm usually done with winter by that point, and this year was no exception.  Just get me to Valentine's Day - and that fun punch of bring ruby reds - and I'm ready for bright green, pastels, the fun of St. Patrick's Day and anything springy.

So it's nearly here - finally - and in another week we'll push those clocks ahead another hour, I'll be leaving the office in the daylight again, which always makes me happy.  Then the warmer weather, the buds of spring blooms - the crocuses and the daffodils won't be too far behind and life will begin anew...and none too soon.


February 5, 2013

Lost in the Fog...

It's the middle of winter, for sure.  I took this photo out my window on a recent aberrationally warm day when the ground blanketed by snow was far colder than the air that surrounded it.  The scene was clothed in a thick, misty fog - it was strange, but quite lovely.

I, too, have felt a little bit lost in that fog...not in any serious way, but enough that I haven't been back to the blog since my last post.  That is due mostly just being very busy at work and very busy at home.  But the effect of my neglect was that I have been woefully slow at noticing that I had a comment on my last post that I only just saw.  And from a new follower, no less.  Bad blog ettiquette on my part, but I've addressed the oversight, posted the comment and thank her (I assume she's a her) for her comment and interest.  I hope to be a better blogger in 2013.  Not sure it will happen, but I certainly can strive to do better.

It is my habit to try to post at least monthly, since it's an easy thing to remember and the start of a month usually brings thoughts of the usual traditions of that month, the season, and the scenery - all the things that provide a sense of continuity and the comfort that it brings. 

The photo above, or a minor variation on it, is my scenery these days.  It's an old apple orchard, not a highly productive one, but it came in handy during the fall for a few choice fruits for pies and sauce.  It's asleep now, but now that it's February, the daylight is lingering slightly longer in the afternoon - thank goodness - and that's a hint that spring and warmer days are in the wings.

It has been cold - bitter cold - here for a while, but those days have been punctuated by occasional bursts of balmy weather - just enough to tease (or torture) us into thinking it will remain warm.  But, of course it doesn't.  Still, it's nice to be reminded that the warmth will be here in due course.  Not usually soon enough for me, though, so in order to jump-start my desire for warmth and the cheerful signs of spring, I'm heading south for a few days.  I find it's the best way for me to break up the monotony of cold and grey that so often envelopes us in midwinter.  I'll be off to South Carolina for a few days of warmth - for sure, sun - I hope, and the company of good friends whom I have the good fortune to visit.

I promise I'll be back sooner rather than later to share images from my travels.  Until then, stay warm and maybe buy a pot of blooming bulbs, like cheerful yellow mini-daffodils, to keep you thinking ahead to spring, too.  It will be here soon enough...


December 9, 2012

Hard to Believe It's the Holidays

I barely had time to recover from our food-laden Thanksgiving when the spate of holiday celebrations began!  Fortunately, things are slowing down a bit and I've had a chance to catch up on some tasks, but I still haven't broken out the holiday decor in earnest...except for one thing.  I saw a nice image in the December issue of Traditional Home magazine (one of my favorites) that showed a simple planter in a deep bucket shape stuffed with evergreens and holly...so simple and festive.

Inspired by the simple elegance of the idea, I re-purposed a planter of mums (since faded) that I'd picked up at the grocery store earlier this fall.  I loved the little arch and "Welcome" sign added to the planter, so I wanted to use it again.  I trimmed some errant branches from a nearby juniper bush that needed pruning ('tis the season to prune your hardy plants and shrubs), stuck them in the pot with the potting soil left over from the mums, and added some variegated faux holly...et voila!  A cheerful little holiday greeting standing by my front door ready to welcome my holiday guests.  So simple and easy.

I'm ready now.  Let the celebrations begin!