January 30, 2011

Cure for Cabin Fever

It has been a busy month (when isn't it a busy month?!), but I'm taking a momentary break from the fray to share a few shots of the snow-covered terrain around the country house, an unexpected (but not surprising) visitor, and a bit of winter brilliance.

It's old, but, seemingly, ongoing news that the Northeast has been bombarded with heavy snows. There appears to be no let-up in sight either. (It is, obviously, midwinter.) We're pretty accustomed to heavy snows in these parts, but some years are far worse than others. (Last year was a snowfall cake-walk compared to this winter.) I've mentioned this before, but the good news is that we're well equipped to deal with it before it comes and throughout its duration - which is more than can be said for other parts of the mid-south and south, that are paralyzed by it, so things calm down as soon as the falling snow departs.

Here are a few shots of the most recent arrival, about a week or so ago:

An unexpected visitor strolled by with a friend the other day...it was bitterly cold, so I hope they were able to find some nourishment and protection in the woods next to the house...

Still, I'm not a fan of the white stuff. It's pretty when it first arrives at the start of the season (just before Christmas is nice), but, after about month, I've usually had enough. There's only so much shoveling and path-clearing I (and my muscles) can tolerate. I like my roads clear and dry, too, so, not being a "winter sports" enthusiast (I don't ski, snowboard, snowshoe and I haven't skated since childhood and don't care to go there again), I'm pretty much done with it at this point. After what, according to the weather experts, has been the eighth snowiest winter on record here in upstate New York (and still counting), I'm more than ready for Spring to come - much sooner than later, too, please!

A very dear friend recently made a holiday venture of potting up some flower bulbs - paperwhite narcissus and amaryllis - that she put in pretty containers and placed in a local consignment shop for sale. I gave her a number of extra white, hobnail glass planters that I had accumulated (since I've been clearing out the family home for the past month) along with some others of a suitable size and style that I picked up for her at my local Goodwill. It was, all told, a modestly successful initiative, but what my sweet friend didn't tell me was that she also intended to return one of my glass pots, containing a beautiful, big amaryllis bulb already started in potting soil, to me as a Christmas gift. It was a lovely gesture, and the nicest part was that the visual gratification would be delayed by a month, when the stalk and flowers gradually would emerge. Emerge they did and it has been a glorious sight watching the deep, coral-colored blooms slowly unfold and brighten some of these bleak snowy days of winter:

It's an affirmation that Spring is indeed coming...I know it is.

January 17, 2011

New Year, New Look

As the handful of you who are regulars here will note, in the interest of a new year and new beginnings, I've given the blog a major face-lift (blog-lift?). I loved the old design, its warm and toasty pumpkin plaid and turquoise, but with a new year comes a desire to clear the decks, clean the closets and get a jump-start on Spring cleaning.

As with a room in one's home, I wanted to shift away from things that are too fussy and pare down to a more simple, more sleek and - dare I say it? - a more elegant look and feeling. So, here, today, I give you the new and hopefully more contemporary version of Country Contemporary.

It's funny how styles, whether in fashion or interior design, are so cyclical, with things that were once new and trendy relegated to the back room and things that were, perhaps at another earlier time, so fashionable, have come to the forefront once again.

Now, as I prepare to leave, once and for all, my family's home of 50 years - a fine example of a mid-century modern ranch with international style references that was the cutting edge of contemporary style in 1958 - it has struck me as somewhat ironic that things with such classic, mid-century style and lines have returned to the forefront.

There always will be a strong affinity for the traditional home, but there is a place for "modern" in the mix. I'm not talking so much about the usual 1950s "kitschiness" as much as the low, sleek lines of a 1960s or 1970s contemporary sofa - simple, linear, and uncomplicated. I'm not a connoissoeur of such style as much as I merely am an observer of this style evolution, as one who lived through that earlier era that influenced much of my personal aesthetic when I set out on my own as a young adult.

As these trends change, so, too, does the world of Country Contemporary, the blog, evolve -- as well it should. I'll be tweaking a few more things on the blog as we go forward...eliminating some of the visual and audio clutter (I'll replace the buttons with links shortly, so you still can find some of the other blogs I admire and enjoy) and tightening up the graphics. (I've removed the music for the moment until I can find a way for it to be more seamless in presentation - it was seriously slowing down the upload at my end.)

As things progress here, I hope you'll continue to join me from time to time along this appealing, and hopefully interesting, new path.

January 14, 2011

For the (Winter) Birds...

Snow, snow, snow...the latest Nor'Easter to hit upstate New York left us with a fairly substantial calling card, but it didn't deter the birds who have made my bird feeder their daily source of food.  Good thing I filled it up before the last storm.

I heard on the news yesterday that it's only 65 (now 64) days until Spring (March 20).  That's encouraging - only two months to go - and the daylight is lasting just a bit longer than it did two months ago.  It's no longer dark as night at 5pm (always a tough transition for me to accommodate) and we've rounded the bend back toward warm sun, lush green trees and grass, and longer daylight days and evenings...aaahhhh!

I've put away most of the holiday decorations and have transitioned to just those generic "midwinter" items.  I like to keep the symbols of winter - natural pine cones and some evergreens - as my literal and figurative references and decorative gestures. 

The nice thing is that the brilliant ruby reds of the holidays make the transitional color thread right to Valentine's Day.  It's just the shot of color I need in the house to brighten these sometimes bleak, snow-covered winter days.  I've even pulled the Valentine's and Easter boxes out of storage as I plan the pieces what I want to bring out that will carry me visually and psychically through the winter and right up to the very edge of Spring.