July 5, 2014

A Very Bunny July 4 Mantle

This year, I'm still getting settled in my new home, so the festival holiday decorating is, out of necessity, restrained and contained. Still, I do like to use the fireplace mantle as the focal point for any celebratory displays.  Since my July 4 decorations were somewhat limited, as well, it seemed the best way to use them was atop the mantle.

I picked up Mr. and Mrs. Independence Day bunnies at a July 4 festival in central New York about 25 years ago. I was heavily into my "country home" period and they just appealed to me. (My only stuffed animal to survive from childhood was a beloved bunny, so this pair spoke to me instantly when I saw them, snapped them up and brought them home.)

To my disappointment, I discovered that Mrs. bunny lost one of the tiny wooden beads that served as eyes (as you can see on Mr. bunny). Not sure how that happened, but they've been in storage in an uncovered box for some months so I can only assume the single thread keeping it tethered simplly broke and I didn't notice. Still, the beads are quite small and I thought she could do with some larger "eyes" and I found a pair of pretty, bright blue buttons that I though would do the trick very nicely. (I'm thinking about a similar pair of red buttons for Mr. bunny in due course.)

None of this is very fancy as holiday gestures go, just a few things that are in keeping with the spirit of the holiday, all linked by some fun red foil-covered wire with stars to provide the requisite "fireworks" and sparkle. It's the best I can do at this stage...more elaborate decor will be possible in the months ahead, I'm sure, but I should have the full compliment of July 4th regalia for next year.

After a somewhat rainy start on the 4th, the weather in the Great Northeast is expected to be summer perfection for the whole weekend!  Hope your July 4th was a fun and festive celebration and the holiday weekend is a happy, healthy and safe one! 

June 21, 2014

Fast Forward to Summer!

I admit it. I've been AWOL. It has been a busy crazy spring and I have no other excuse, but I'm hoping posting today, on this first day of summer, that I'll be forgiven.  I've got some photos to share...nothing spectacular, but better than none at all.

As I mentioned the last time, I moved into a new home at the first of the year.  I'd rather not get into photos of the home itself because it has been - and continues to be - a rather protracted settling in process, but I have been spending time out in the yard and creating the start of a pleasant environment out there.  My home has a lot of northern exposure, so doesn't get a ton of direct sunlight inside (except through the skylight at mid-day), but as the sun moves around during the day that yard gets a good bit of direct sun from about mid-day on and plenty in the afternoon.

Since I don't have the time or energy to get into creating a vegetable garden, I am experimenting with container plants, mostly flowers and herbs that I can shift around to capture maximum sun.  I've picked up some of the usual annuals - geraniums, petunias, a few snapdragons, some vinca vine - and have been enjoying their constant blooms since late spring.

I also decided I'd be a little bit ambitious and start some annual flowers from seeds, just to see if I could create a real display of vibrant color. I've always admired the brilliant zinnias that a friend grows annually, so I'm giving them a go, along with morning glory and some cleome.  I've grown the latter two in the past and always liked them, but it has been quite a while since I've grown anything from seed, so this will be a little bit of an adventure.  Perhaps in another month or so, I'll have some new colors in bloom...we'll see.

In the meantime, here are a few shots of my efforts to date.      

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.