31 August 2012

Favorite Thing No. 71

There used to be a weaving shop up the road where you could watch the proprietors at their looms. On any given day they were either teaching their students how to weave, or working on their own projects.  There were beautiful rugs, mats, towelling and scarves for sale.  And there were also dolls. Unique, charming, love-starved dolls, made of scrap materials, with yarn hair and satin faces. Each doll came with a name, bestowed upon her by her maker.  (And like ships, I think it may be bad luck to change the given name of a doll.)

After lusting after these dolls for months I finally bought one. Her name is BOP and since arriving at the house she has demonstrated a magpie-like tendency for acquiring things that don't belong to her.  Heart-shaped sunglasses, a concertina, and several strands of mardi gras beads.  The second doll was a gift.  Her name is Bokoo and has a haircut very like mine. The third doll, also a gift, came to me during a long illness, and is called Sweet P. Over time she, too, has helped herself to a gold turban, a rosary, and a red-foil Chocolate Kiss brooch.  (I think she has some voodoo hoodoo going on.)  

Bop is the larger—and bossier—of the three. In fact a friend of mine complains that she has way too many privileges.  That may be true but ... there you are.

 Sweet P, Bop, and Bokoo


29 August 2012

Katrina, Katrina

These were some of the headlines seven years ago:
  • Snipers halt hospital evacuation
  • Dome evacuation descends into chaos
  • Stranded kids cry out for rescue
  • 'Modern day genocide'
  • Thousands stranded
  • Mayor: Police forced to leave convention center
  • Police say some officers have stopped showing up for duty
  • Houston's Astrodome full, turns away refugees
  • Where’s the help?
  • Stranded, sick, dying, still waiting 
 There’s no reason in the world why a situation—caused by nature, not terrorists—had to deteriorate to the point where headlines like this described any American city. This wasn't Rwanda or Somalia or some war-torn country in the heart of the Third World. This wasn’t a city under seige by insurgents or cruise missiles. This wasn’t happening in a country without resources or manpower. This was New Orleans. A major city in the richest country in the world. A place that government emergency crews could have travelled to—snipers or no snipers—if our government had the inclination to do the right thing.  If CNN and NBC were able to get "boots on the ground", why couldn't our government do the same? (It's interesting to note that in that same year, government officials air-lifted hay bales to starving cattle in the mid-west.  Were the people of New Orleans any less important?  Surely they could have organized a drop with bails of clean t-shirts, wipes and tissues, pallets of water?)

These photos were taken not days after the hurricane but 14 months later. There was still no running water or city services. The dates spray-painted on the houses range from mid-September to mid-October. That's when officials finally made their way into the 9th ward—in some cases, nearly seven weeks after the area flooded—to search for survivors. Or bodies. 

As a result of Hurricane Katrina, 80% of New Orleans was under water, in some places as much as 20 feet. 705 people are still missing and 1,836 people were killed. Hundreds of thousands of residents were left unemployed. I frequently write about my garden and cottage, the things I make or buy, and the lovely items that give me pleasure. I am so lucky in my possessions, in my home.  

 Things still are not right in New Orleans. And until they are, I hope people won't forget.
I hope they will continue to volunteer to build, will continue to invest some sweat equity, and will donate what they can.
 

28 August 2012

The secret life of gardens

I watch
a spider's web,
Silver, shining symmetry
in the dawn sunlight.
I ponder the night's work
of the builder...
—Graeme King
I don't know if it's just this summer, but I seem to have so many more spider webs in my garden than I have in past years!  Each morning there's another one that must have been spun in the dark of night, with slender threads reaching from a potted plant up to the arm of a chair, or from a trellis over to a wind chime.  The patio and gardens are an obstacle course each day, trying not to be caught up in webs as they brush along my arms and face.  And I always feel badly after walking into one of their masterpieces.  I think of how long and with what difficulty they toiled overnight to build them.  And here I am—like a marauding giant in their Liliputian world—crashing through their handiwork.  But unlike humans, they don't seem to feel sorry or angry and simply drop down on a new 'line' and start spinning again. By morning, or even sooner, there will be another web, just as intricate as the one I inadvertently disturbed.

Speaking of marauding, I was drying some white work pillow cases on the clothes line recently. I don't have a proper clotheslines but, rather, a doubled strand of jute twine reaching from the edge of the verandah to the edge of the garden shed. While waiting for my linens to dry, I sat in one of the Adirondack chairs to read, looking up now and then and enjoying how the pristine white cases looked in the sun with all the garden greenery waving softly in the breeze around them. Smiling, I went back to my reading but when I looked up again, the pillow slips had vanished! And not just the pillow slips but the entire clothesline.  I shot up out of the chair and found a white mass of wet pillow cases lying on the brick garden path.  Scooping them up, I muttered something un-ladylike and then checked the clothesline.  Someone or something had sliced cleanly through the end that had been tied to the edge of the shed.  At that moment I sensed movement on the shed roof and looked up into the face of a squirrel who had a nicely bundled piece of jute twine hanging out of both sides of his mouth.  "What did you do!" I scolded, trying not to laugh. He only cocked his head and clasped his paws in front of him, snapping his tail a few times, the piece of jute still clenched in his mouth.  With a sigh I repaired the line and tied it back on the shed and the went back to my reading, keeping an eagle eye on the wash line.  A few days later, while sitting in the garden, I saw what I guessed was the same squirrel, bounding down the shed roof, hopping onto the clothesline hook, and nibbling another piece of jute from the line.  "Here! Stop that, you naughty thing!" I said, getting up and running to the shed.  Again, he just sat back on his haunches, with folded hands and a jute-filled mouth, looking at me with beady eyes. I had to laugh, in spite of myself.  Most often they busy themselves with stealing birdseed, but this was taking thievery to an entirely new level. I suspect he's lining a nest, getting ready for winter.  Or perhaps, as my neighbor suggested, he's making a hammock to enjoy these last days of summer!

And then there was the opportunist who started visiting the garden "after hours".  (I hesitate to call him a thief since my part in all this could be construed as entrapment.)  A few weeks ago, I was standing in the kitchen one night when I heard activity at the floral water bowl I keep next to the rain barrel. (I like to have fresh water for my neighbor's two cats who visit during the day, and the little Corgi mix who wanders down with her mistress each night at five o'clock.) It sounded like the bowl was being pushed around on the ground with quite a bit of gusto, but the lateness of the hour convinced me that it was neither the cats nor the Corgi, and I wondered if it was a racoon or even a skunk. It's been so hot and humid recently, I know that the garden animals have been desperate for water, even going so far as digging around flower roots to get whatever moisture might be there.  Not wanting to scare whatever it was (and not wanting to get sprayed if it was a skunk!) I didn't dare walk outside. The noise stopped after awhile and I forgot about it. But then it happened a few nights later, and again a few nights after that.  My curiosity winning out over caution, I carefully crept to the side door and opened it as slowly and quietly as I could, trying to peer down the patio to the rain barrel. There I could see an enormous fluffy cat (one I've seen in the neighborhood before) bellying up to the water dish for a drink, making quite a mess and nearly upending the bowl with his antics.  ("Make mine a double!")  Apparently my kitty bar has an evening clientele!

It's amusing to realize that "my" garden really isn't my own much of the time, and that so much activity takes place there. Here's to the spinners, the thieves and the thirsty prowlers that busy themselves in the garden when I'm not looking!






24 August 2012

Dollhouse Downton Abbey

Knowing I'm a fan of Downton Abbey, a friend just sent me this link.  

[Warning: it's terribly silly!]

Nomad siblings.... Sibella and Chris Court

'Despite being born in idyllic Sydney, Sibella's gypsy soul had her travelling the world
searching for beautiful and unusual things to discover, from a very early age.'

 'Describing herself as a ‘bowerbird’ and collector, Sibella works with Anthropologie USA, travelling on their inspiration trips and designing product ranges. Sibella continues her nomadic ways by travelling regularly around the globe seeking inspiration for her styling and writing.'

'Chris's passion for photography began in his early teenage years
when his mother (with great foresight) sent him off, with his 2 sisters and brother,
to photography courses every school holiday.'

'The darkroom is an intriguing and amazing place for nurturing creativity.'

 'After completing a BA Chris entered the commercial photography industry.'

 'Sibella is a best selling author of the highly awarded styling books “Etcetera etc”, "Nomad", and "The Stylist’s Guide to New York".  Her next book "Bowerbird" is due for release in October and is all about collections and how to display them.'

  'Chris has photographed 3 books with sister Sibella.'

Etcetera etc.....  Nomad.....  

...... and Bowerbird 

[Text from Sibella and Chris Court's official bios. Photos by Chris Court.]

23 August 2012

I'm in love


"The bricks have long been erased; the siding, overtaken. Thick waves of grass creep toward porches and consume them. Trees obscure facades and burst through roofs. The dwellings are empty; the families are gone. The onetime homes have been almost entirely reclaimed by nature."

This is one of several photographs taken by James Griffioen,
in a series he calls "Feral Houses".

21 August 2012

The Art of Longing

 John William Waterhouse "The Crystal Ball"

Yearning is such a beautiful word.  Each language has a version of this emotion. In Portuguese it is saudade, while the German word is sensucht.  In this age of immediate gratification, I think we have lost sight of the art of yearning for something we might never achieve, and the attendant benefits that accompany that sort of visceral yearning.   

Seeing Venice.  Riding an elephant. Owning a home by the ocean.  

 Longing for the unattainable is pleasurable in a strange way, or at least I find this to be true. It is the setting of magical goals in our hearts—goals that might never materialize and yet they fire our imaginations with ripe possibility and allow us, in our quiet moments of yearning, to picture ourselves in that daydream world. 

If there were more longing in life, there might be less debt.  Now, now now.  Like Veruca Salt in Raold Dahl's cautionery tale, we cannot wait for, save for, yearn for, or relegate to the imagination those things we desire but cannot have right now. We instead bankrupt ourselves for the immediacy of possession. We are bullied into making bucket lists and to accomplish each item. We are assured that nothing is unattainable. We are told about the 50 things we must do, the 100 places we must see, before leaving this life. We are not told that it's alright to dream and yearn and not possess or accomplish. We are not taught the art of longing.  Longing, it would seem, is an ugly and archaic and self-defeating passtime.

I spoke about the art of longing with a friend one day, of the ability to see something in a window or magazine, to imagine having it, to take pleasure in the idea of it, and to let the yearning curl around your mind and heart with the tantalizing hope that perhaps one day it might be possible. And to be wistfully content if it is not. Longing can and should encompass not needing to own something, despite wanting to.

My mother, when she has seen something lovely in a shop window, has frequently said: Isn't that beautiful?  But don't get it for me... I don't need to own it.  And another friend spent years of Sunday afternoons going to open houses with her husband, despite the fact that they had barely enough money to live on, much less buy a house.  She was practicing the art of longing. 

Longing can embrace the sheer pleasure of knowing a particular item or place exists in the world with us.  Too few people know what it means to desire something and be willing to allocate the reality to 'some day'.  Or perhaps to 'never'.  Nearly a year after that conversation with my friend, this delightful book arrived.

Nineteen Hats, Ten Teacups, an Empty Birdcage & The Art of Longing

Longing, far more than it haunts you,
reminds you of your true name.
Longing that is with joy is complete longing.
When it is strong it calms us.
Longing is whatever one wishes.
It can tell you your life again.
Longing does not change anything.
It is the art of not knowing.
Longing is when we think our storm is the right size.
A little can be eternal.
Longing always visits one who is content.
It may be the gift no other gift provides.
Longing comes singly and leaves accompanied.
It can be happiness.
Longing is a word that means to put stars together:
the faith you instill, the faith it has instilled.
Longing is to be someone.
To be someone in solitude.
—Cooper Edens

20 August 2012

Things We Find in Books

Several times over the years I have bought—or borrowed—an old book, only to find something miraculous tucked inside, making the volume all the more precious for this unexpected treasure. There was, of course, the Oxford letter found one moonlit summer's night. And then there was a letter I found in a volume of poetry by Alfred Lord Tennyson.
The volume is very old and fragile, bound in a soft olive green suede embossed with goldleaf lettering and a garland of flowers.  Its pages are thick, creamy stock with hand-cut edges, uneven and ragged on three sides and sewn into the binding by hand. When I found it in the old shop, the book's edges were sufficiently misalligned as to conceal the letter.  It wasn't until I arrived home and thumbed through the poems that I discovered it, written in a spidery hand and revealing names and intentions that tugged at my heart.

 
Judging from the letter tucked into its pages, it was a heartfelt gift, passed from one generation to another.  The names are there but there are no faces or histories to go with them.  Only a little girl, a kindly older gentleman, and his two sons—Doug and Wally.

I was nearly in tears by the time I finished the letter and can never take down the book without feeling a deep affection for the writer, his father, and that little girl... whoever they were.

Dear Little Girl,
This little book of poems was the property of  my dear father.  It was printed and bound in Scotland, the land he loved so dearly.  As a reader of poetry, I have yet to meet his equal.  How well I remember Doug and myself gazing into the fire, listening to Dad reading poetry, in such a way that it carried the mind far away from local surroundings.
I want you to take this little volume as a gift from me.  As I write this I can imagine the smile on his kindly old face as he sanctions my act in giving it to the dear girl whom I know he would have wished to have it.
The writing and English in this note is bad but there is a lump in my throat which is choking me.
Good night dear girl,
Wally



17 August 2012

Gerald Durrell

When I first discovered the books of Gerald Durrel (1925-1995) I couldn't put them down to take care of even the most rudimentary personal or gastronomical tasks.  He is British (enough said, for those who enjoy their dry, understated but deadly wit) and his speciality is memoir, namely his recollections of his childhood. 

The biographical notes one finds about him are a clue to his unique upbringing and ultimate writing style:  Born in Jamshedpur, India, Gerald was the youngest child of Louisa and Lawrence Durrell (both of whom were also born in India of English and Irish parents).  Durrell spent most of his time in the company of an
ayah (nursemaid) and attributed his lifelong love of animals to his first memorable visit to an Indian zoo. The family moved to England after the death of his father in 1928 and settled in South London, where Durrell "frequently stayed home from school by feigning illness". In 1935, Mrs. Durrell moved her three youngest children (Gerald, Margo and Leslie) to the Island of Corfu, where her eldest son Lawrence (the author) already lived with his wife. It was here that Gerald's long love affair with insects, birds and beasts flourished. In fact he frequently terrorized his long-suffering family with a menagerie of local animals he insisted on keeping as pets in the home. 

Durrell is a wonderful writer, and his books contain the most beautifully evocative passages about their Island home.  Here is his description of his first glimpse of Corfu: 
The tiny ship throbbed away from the heel of Italy out into the twilit sea, and as we slept in our stuffy cabins, somewhere in that tract of moon-polished water we passed the invisible dividing line and entered the bright, looking-glass world of Greece. Slowly this sense of change seeped down to us, and so, at dawn, we awoke restless and went on deck.
The sea lifted smooth blue muscles of wave as it stirred in the dawn light, and the foam of our wake spread gently behind us like a white peacock’s tail, glinting with bubbles. The sky was pale and stained with yellow on the eastern horizon.  Ahead lay a chocolate-brown smudge of land, huddled in mist, with a frill of foam at its base.  This was Corfu, and we strained our eyes to make out the exact shapes of the mountains, to discover valleys, peaks, ravines, and beaches, but it remained a silhouette.  Then suddenly the sun lifted over the horizon, and the sky turned the smooth enamelled blue of a jay’s eye. The endless, meticulous curves of the sea flamed for an instant and then changed to a deep royal purple flecked with green. The mist lifted in quick, lithe ribbons, and before us lay the island, the mountains as though sleeping beneath a crumpled blanket of brown, the folds stained with the green of olive groves.  Along the shore curved beaches as white as tusks among tottering cities of brilliant fold, red, and white rocks. We rounded the northern cape, a smooth shoulder of rust-red cliff carved into a series of giant caves.

I knew I had fallen in love with this man when I read his note of thanks to his mother in the introduction to his first book:

I should like to pay a special tribute to my mother, to whom this book is dedicated. Like a gentle, enthusiastic, and understanding Noah, she has steered her vessel full of strange progeny through the stormy seas of life with great skill, always faced with the possibility of mutiny, always surrounded by the dangerous shoals of overdraft and extravagance, never being sure that her navigation would be approved by the crew, but certain that she would be blamed for anything that went wrong. That she survived the voyage is a miracle, but survive it she did, and, moreover, with her reason more or less intact. As my brother Larry rightly points out, we can be proud of the way we have brought her up; she is a credit to us. That she has reached that happy Nirvana where nothing shocks or startles is exemplified by the fact that one week-end recently, when all alone in the house, she was treated to the sudden arrival of a series of crates containing two pelicans, a scarlet ibis, a vulture, and eight monkeys. A lesser mortal might have quailed at such a contingency, but not Mother. On Monday morning I found her in the garage being pursued round and round by an irate pelican which she was trying to feed with sardines from a tin.
“I'm glad you've come, dear,” she panted; “this pelican is a little difficult to handle.”
When I asked her how she knew the animals belonged to me, she replied: “Well, of course I knew they were yours, dear; who else would send pelicans to me?”
Which goes to show how well she knows at least one of her family.
Lastly, I would like to make a point of stressing that all the anecdotes about the island and the islanders are absolutely true. Living in Corfu was rather like living in one of the more flamboyant and slapstick comic operas.

I highly recommend "My Family and Other Animals" and "Birds, Beasts and Relatives".  


 Gerald Durrell.... the young man and the old.


 

15 August 2012

Knit Your Bit!

More than 16-million men and women were in service during WWII. In their honor, the American Red Cross offered a commemorative knitting kit several years back, based on the Knit Your Bit campaign they introduced in the early 1900s. The tin included yarn, needles, and a reproduction of the original instructions for one pair of men's socks.
According to the Red Cross, "The Knit Your Bit campaign began in World War I, but became a critical part of providing aid and comfort to American troops during the Second World War. As textile producers and factories were converted to support strategic military needs, volunteer knitters were called upon to help supply soldiers with warm clothing for harsh climates. Red Cross patterns were designed to be compatible with their uniforms and equipment. Wool yarn was provided by the Red Cross as well as the design specifications that were to be met."

"If the garments did not pass inspection, they were ripped out and redone," says Steve Shulman, Executive Director of the American Red Cross Museum in Washington D.C.  He explains that with rationing such a concern, conservation of resources was a priority as well. "Any leftover yarn or rejected pieces were returned to the Red Cross and recycled for use by another knitter," says Shulman. "Not a bit of it went to waste."

 I purchased a kit when they were first available. (The underside of the lid features the original Knit Your Bit poster!) I didn't get around to making the socks right away and then I forgot about them. But this summer I brought the tin downstairs and I'm determined to start working on the socks. When I've finished, I'll use the tin to store some of my knitting accessories. 

10 August 2012

"Car Talk" Rules


Perhaps this is coming from having been raised by a doting father who secretly wanted a son, but for my money Car Talk is easily the funniest radio show going. ("Car advice, tips, troubleshooting, and answers to your car questions.")

I don't know what's more hilarious,
the mechanics who field the calls—"Click and Clack" (aka The Tappet Brothers)—or their callers.  (Especially the ones who try to mimic the sounds their cars are making.) In fact, there's a handy "sounds to listen for that your car might be acting out" on their site:

Bad Bearing in Timing Belt Tensioner: woh woh woh woh
Bad Turbo: boooOOOOOOooo
Boiling Coolant: bllgh blllgggh blllllgggghh
Brake Booster Failing: hissssssssss ssss ss
Clutch Release Bearing on the Way Out: jee je je jeee
Connecting Rod that went through the Engine Block: clicketta clicketta clicketta 
Engine Knock: tuckaTHUCKtuckaTHUCKtucka
Fly Wheel: gurrEENK, gurrEENK, gurrENK 
Misfire: puhVRooPuhHoo puhVROOpuhHOO
Power Steering Pump Going: nnnghuh nnnguh
Transfer Case on the Way Out: glaghhghgghhh woongghhh
Vacuum Leak: vwishhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

So I was pretty disappointed when I heard that the Tappet Brothers are retiring after 35 years on the air. But all is not lost—they'll be recycling 25 years of old shows. 

RAY:  Hey, you guys.
TOM: With Car Talk celebrating its 25th anniversary on NPR this fall (35th year overall, including our local years at WBUR)…
RAY:  …and my brother turning over the birthday odometer to 75, we’ve decided that it’s time to stop and smell the cappuccino.
TOM:  So as of October, we’re not going to be recording any more new shows.   That’s right, we’re retiring. The good news is that, despite our general incompetence, we actually remembered to hit the “record” button every week for the last 25 years.  So we have more than 1,200 programs we’re going to dig into starting this fall, and the series will continue.
RAY:  Every week, starting in October, NPR will broadcast a newly assembled Car Talk show, selected from the best material in our archives.
TOM:  Sorry, detractors, we’re still going to be on the air!
RAY:  But to our fans, don’t be sad. We’ve managed to avoid getting thrown off NPR for 25 years, given out tens of thousands of wrong answers, generated lawsuit threats from innumerable car companies, and had a hell of a lot of fun talking to you guys. 

Carry on, guys.  YEEeeEEeeEEeeEEeeEEee!  (That's my fan belt, acting up.)

http://www.cartalk.com

09 August 2012

If it's August it must be... Susan

Every August, Susan arrives at my cottage—with various friends and family—and sort of takes over for the next month, albeit in the nicest way.  She's quite a colorful character, unceasingly cheerful and completely "low maintenance"—in short, the perfect guest! Indeed, ever since we met nearly 12 years ago I've always looked forward to her stay here each year.

I think Susan delights in being here as well and always seems to enjoy the time she gets to spend outside in the gardens. She's quite a peripatetic guest in that regard and on any given day I can find her standing in the rear garden or perhaps in the front gardens, or just wandering down the side of the house where the patio is.  (I've even found her standing by the curb some mornings!) But she likes being inside as well it's always nice to spend time with her in the parlor, kitchen or verandah.

My neighbors have come to anticipate her arrival each year and I'm always happy to bring her over to their homes, knowing that she'll brighten up their time with her.  Sometimes when family or friends visit, I offer to send her back with them for a brief visit since, after all, it seems selfish to keep her to myself for nearly six weeks! 

Yes.... Susan arrives each August, bringing happiness, color and cheer. 
And while having someone stay for that long might seem tedious, 
I'm always sorry to see her go.  


07 August 2012

Life has loveliness to sell,
All beautiful and splendid things.
— Sara Teasdale 
I was thinking this morning of some of the 'beautiful and splendid' items I've received from friends and family over the past summer months... some were the result of their "cleaning out" frenzies, some were hostess or thank you gifts, and some were simply rooted in the random but heartfelt generosity that seems to surround me at every turn.
  • A four-leafed clover, tucked into a note that found its way through the post 
  • An enormous bag of oatmeal colored Wool-Ease yarn (I can hear the pitter patter of sock feet in my future)
  • A bright red button that says "KEEP CALM AND CARRY YARN"
  • An antique Black Currant Pastille tin
  • A huge white canvas beach bag with a drawstring and pale blue strap handles 
  • "If Walls Could Talk: An intimate history of the home" (I can't wait to start reading this!)
  • A lovely cherry tomato plant (already potted, thriving, and ready to watch grow)
  • A hand-me-down (albeit NEVER worn) fawn-colored suede vest from J. Peterman (Be still my heart) 
  • A bouquet of cutting flowers including flag iris, peonies, and snap dragons
  • "Just My Type: A book about fonts" (Don't laught... fonts are powerful things and it's utterly fascinating) 
  • A miniature bee skep for my garden
  • A bouquet of pink and white tulips  
  • A white button with red letters that says "I'm patient BECAUSE I knit"
  • A pot of bright red Bee Balm (with an errant Columbine tucked at its feet) 
  • A home decorating book by Laura Ashley
  • A plastic carry bag with silver zebra stripes (!)
  •  A tea towel commemorating the Queen's Diamond Jubilee 
It's good to think back now and then on all the lovely things that pass from loved ones' hands into mine. And to remember to be grateful... not for the things themselves, although I certainly am, but for the kindness invested in them.

06 August 2012

Life in the garden off the grid

There was no internet, no car, and not much money, but despite what some might consider a life of privation, the past two months have been blissful.

When you know you can literally sit at home for two months and do nothing, the temptation is there to do just that. But I've learned, each summer, to keep a small notebook, and to write down the things I accomplished at the end of each day.  (NOTE TO SELF: Getting up, brushing teeth, dressing and eating do NOT count.)

Keeping the little ledger up to date wasn't as labor intensive as it might sound, and it did help to look back now and then (especially on those days when I was feeling particularly indolent) and see that despite a proclivity for abject laziness, I had actually accomplished quite a bit in the days previous.  And not only the "house chores" I'd hoped to tackle, but also enough whimsical activity to make it truly seem like a screen-door-slamming summer holiday.

- Painting the verandah ceiling with a two inch brush so I could get into all the beadboard crevices -- it took four days

- Gardening

- Reorganizing the garden shed.. which is actually a garage, but with no car and a large garden, "garden shed" makes more sense

- Enjoying several tea parties in the garden with visiting friends and family

- Painting the kitchen walls and cabinetry 'Cottage White' to go with the black and cream 1930s subway tiles

- More Gardening
 
- Knitting a basketweave ivory baby blanket

- Riding a 19th c. carousel with four generations of my immediate family. (All were accounted for when the ride ended, including my mother)

- Celebrating several family birthdays

- Going through all the wonderful magazines that had been piling up unread throughout the cottage. (Mercifully I didn't come across any that said "LINCOLN SHOT!" on the cover.)  
   
- Knitting a pair of spiral tube socks for a friend's mother

- More Gardening
 
- Enjoying a cheap 'n cheerful dinner at a clam shack by the sea

- Driving up the Maine coast to visit family

- Sitting on the patio under a market umbrella with countless glasses of iced tea, watching the flowers grow, greeting the neighborhood cats, and being continuously amused by the squirrels (even when they ate my clothes line)

- Writing copious letters and cards to friends and loved ones

- Did I mention gardening? 


And all about was mine, I said,
The little sparrows overhead,
The little minnows too.
This was the world and I was king;
For me the bees came by to sing,
For me the swallows flew.
(Robt. Louis Stevenson)