Archive for ‘Health and happiness’

January 1, 2014

Welcome to 2014!!

Happy New Year!!!

We woke to a sparkling winter’s day in Connecticut. There was a light sprinkling of snow on the ground and the temperature hovered just above 10 degrees. The world looked fresh and new and just the kind of day which should welcome in a new year.

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Looking out the front, the walkway stones were barely visible.

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The backyard was empty and inviting for a stroll or a four-legged romp.

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The pond is almost empty of water and the sun breaks across the tops of the trees its light streaking through the frosty air.

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  Dakota surveys his realm and all is well in his world.

The last thirteen days of break have been delightful. Long stretches of relaxation were punctuated by activity. Countless hours of knitting and spinning balanced out with a bit of cooking and family outings. We had a trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, a quiet and enjoyable Christmas Eve and Day with just the four of us at home, a transition from Rye Brook to the country and a good stretch of time at one of our favorite places on earth. It has been a good ending to the holiday season and a great start to a brand new year.

2014 lies before all of us with opportunity, challenge and the prospect of happiness and love. 2013 was a good year for our family, I hope the same for 2014–for our family and for our friends and extended family.

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June 3, 2012

Two-Berry Kinda Girl

This is perhaps an indiscreet post. There are some things one shouldn’t really expose about oneself or write about. I’ve thought long and hard about this, but we’re all friends here so I am going to share something a bit embarrassing and, well, indiscreet.

For years I have suffered from an addiction. It isn’t pretty to have to talk about this, but I have been totally and completely addicted to my Blackberry. It just fits right into my palm. I can carry it anywhere or I can put it in my purse. I am never without it. There have been a few times when I have failed to re-charge in a timely fashion and I have to tell you the result is not good. Once or twice I have failed to replace it in my purse and left the house without it. I kid you not, my hands were shaking. I was out of touch. Untethered. Who knows what could be happening–I certainly wouldn’t.  As I said, this is rough stuff, but I knew you could handle this level of honesty and not let it affect our relationship.

Of course, the need to have my Berry with me is one thing. What I do with it is quite another. It doesn’t matter the day of week, the time of day, my location; I check my email, texts and messages compulsively. My family will tell you. Even on vacation, I can slip that little puppy out of my purse and just have a quick peek. Just in case. There could be a major development. Some key transmission of information and data and I would need to know it.

My Beautiful Berries

Keeping all of this tawdry drama in mind, you can probably imagine how I feel now that I am employed and have not one, but two Berries!! Look at these babies. My Purple Berry is my work Berry. It is a Blackberry Bold 9930. This puppy is hot. She is sleek and her keys have great click-like movement. Twitter feeds are gorgeous on her and so is Facebook. She is one hot Momma. My Red Berry is for personal use. She is a Blackberry Curve 9330–a compact little minx and she has everything I need to stay in touch with my family and friends. She may not be quite as big as Purple Berry, but she brings messages of love and what’s needed from the grocery store, so she’s got a special place in my heart.

So, there you have it. My subway rides are orgiastic moments of Blackberry checking. First one, then the other. I get it all done. My train rides follow suit. Purple Berry first? Red Berry waits her turn. They’re patient and they know they each have their place in my heart. After all…

I am a Two-Berry Kinda Girl.

March 4, 2012

The Spirit of Creativity

Taking pictures of things I have made is not something natural to me. I am not an archivist by nature. Everyone in my family will say that I have little tolerance for hanging on to stuff. They always accuse me of giving their (unused) treasures away if they can’t find something. At the office, I used to have regular clean up days where we disposed of outdated files and documents. I used to love to say, “This isn’t the Library of Congress.” That probably bugged a lot of people who don’t share my proclivities.

However, visual recordings of things I have made are often revelatory. I will look at a picture and say to myself, “I made that?” I won’t recall making the item, but very often (and I don’t meant to sound boastful), I will be surprised at the creativity involved in what I have made.

I felt that way today when I put on a sweater which I hadn’t worn all winter. Needless to say I have a lot of sweaters and with the mild weather, this very warm sweater hadn’t had a turn. I love this particular sweater for several reasons. First off, I love the color and the texture of the yarn. It is a warm fuchsia color and, because the yarn is Manos, the color and the thickness of the yarn are a bit uneven. It looks very warm and a little rustic, but just a little. The pattern I used to make the sweater is from Elizabeth Zimmerman. It is her Bog Jacket.

Anyone who has read or knit from Elizabeth knows that her instructions are a bit intuitive and she offers lots of suggestions for modifications. The Bog Jacket is a bit boxy and one of the modifications I made was to tailor the waist so that the jacket fits with more style. Another alteration I made is to fold back large cuffs at the sleeve. I chose to knit an attached i-cord all around the edges, up and down the front, around the bottom of the jacket and at the folded back sleeves. The i-cord is a lovely navy blue from the same yarn. I really like the contrast of the deep pink with the dark navy. Finally, I chose to make the front closing from i-cord which loops on each side of a frog closing.

Putting on the sweater was a bit like looking at a photo, I was intrigued and amazed that I had created what I had made. This made me think about creativity. When am I most creative and when do I feel like I have nothing imaginative to give? A big part of it has to do with stimulation. The more outside stimuli I take in, the more ideas I seem to have. It doesn’t necessarily have to be related to knitting or crafting. It is the stimulation of having any kind of idea or inspiration. It just seems to get the neurons firing and Bang! Pow! New ideas keep flooding into my head. These ideas may be business ideas, they may be ideas about what to cook and, very often, they are ideas for something I want to make or some new way to do something I have done before in an innovative way.

Creativity is a state where I feel alive and energized and my mind is working overtime. It is a state of excitement and fulfillment. It feeds on itself. Feeling a lack of creativity is a dead zone. It is self-inflicted because it means that I have not put myself into contact with experiences which challenge me and expose me to new ideas.

The Bog Jacket in Manos

February 9, 2012

Generosity Day

Sasha Dichter writes a blog which I read. He is leading a movement to create Generosity Day, an upgrade of Valentines Day. I think this is a great idea. I hope you will join in and also spread the word.

Also Sasha has a TED Talk on this subject as well: http://www.ted.com/talks/sasha_dichter.html. Sasha is Chief Innovation Officer at The Acumen Fund.

Ideally, every day would be Generosity Day, but this is a good start.

April 25, 2011

Kindness Reigns

Three things in human life are important: The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind.”
 Henry James

 There are some lessons which seem to need to be learned over and over again. Kindness and speaking softly fall into those categories for me. The world always needs more kindness especially these days. It is so easy to be kind to other people. It just takes some thought and a little effort. Making someone smile, holding the door, asking someone how they are and meaning it. Those are all gestures which brighten the day. It is a lot harder than it looks to hold that intention every day.

And it isn’t just strangers who deserve kindness. No matter how strong and good my intentions, sometimes I find myself speaking more sharply than I intend. Maybe I feel rushed or a little cranky or am just distracted and then I say something which just doesn’t sound the way I would like it to. Most of the time it isn’t intentional, but that doesn’t make it any better. Most often it seems my children are on the receiving end. When I see that look in their eyes, it makes me shudder. Not only do I not want to be sharp with them, I don’t want to teach them to be like that either.

I wonder if Henry had the same problem.

January 13, 2011

Swedish Proverb

 

Fear less, hope more, eat less, chew more; whine less, breathe more, talk less, say more,

hate less, love more; and all good things are yours.

–Swedish Proverb

During the infamous walk, our tent neighbors across the row had decorated their tent with sayings all of which were on laminated cards and tied to their tent with pink ribbons.

Neighbors were encouraged to select a tag which meant something to them and take it with them. I picked the proverb written above. I liked it for several reasons. First of all, and most important, I liked the message. All good things to keep in mind in terms of living a better life and being a better companion on this earth. I also liked the somewhat clunky translation. At least, I attribute it to the clunky translation and not some rather microscopic focus in the Swedish mentality. I get the point of “eat less, chew more” but would never have thought to express it quite like that.

In any case, the saying hung from my knapsack during the walk and now hangs on my bulletin board where I can see it.

As part of the focus on resolutions for January, I share it now. May all good things come to those who read and try to live this proverb.

January 11, 2011

Garden Notes 2010

I know perfectly well that I will never remember all the lessons I learned from this year’s garden if I don’t write them down. So, with this in mind, here are my thoughts. Would love to hear from all gardeners with their ideas, advice, etc.

This year’s garden was a pretty good success. The mix of items could be improved and there were some things which we just didn’t enjoy, but we sure got a lot of tomatoes and cucumbers and it looked spectacular with the shooting sunflowers in the center.

Lettuce. We had way too much lettuce. I planted it in flights about three weeks apart as recommended, but we couldn’t eat it fast enough and much of  it went to seed. Peter didn’t like the lettuce because it wasn’t what he was used to (iceberg). I have four packets of lettuce seeds left over from this year. At the end of the season after I had cleaned things up for the winter, I opened the gate to the garden and let the bunnies come take care of the lettuce. They thought it was quite tasty.

Cucumbers. Ellie begged me to plant cucumbers. I don’t really like cucumbers, but Jim does and Ellie does. We had cucumbers coming out our ears and no one wanted to eat them. Not unlike zucchini, they grew with terrifying rapidity. Giant cucumbers would emerge from the lush vines. And the vines were crawling everywhere. I had to stop using the gate and step over the fence because the cucumbers owned the passage. Deep six next year.

Swiss chard. Planted it for Jim. He loves swiss chard even though I hate to clean it. We ate it once and the rest just sat. Deep six next year.

Sunflowers. Planted “Supersnack Hybrid” sunflowers from Burpee. They are supposed to have inch long seeds which are perfect for roasting. They grew tall and gorgeous, but then the flowers died and we never got any seeds. Try another variety next year. I did love the profusion of tall plants spraying up like a fountain from the middle of the garden.

Herbs. The herb garden was fun and mostly a success. Basil was good. But I ordered six different varieties. Next year I will just plant the normal kind. The more unusual varieties were not as useful. San Remo and Pesto Perpetuo Basil were both good. I ordered them as plants from Burpee. Thyme and marjoram were both fun as was Rosemary. I used the last of those herbs in December for a big pot of soup. It was deliciousw soup and I was so happy to brush the snow away and find a few last home grown herbs. 

Tomatoes. Tomatoes were the stars of the garden. I adore tomatoes and I would spend any amount of time out there trimming and caring for my tomato plants. Some varieties were great, others less worthwhile. I planted 14 tomato plants which was arguably too much both in terms of available space and the ability to keep up with yield. Some tomatoes withered on the vines because we just couldn’t eat fast enough. I distributed many to the neighbors, the mailman, the pool man and anyone else who happened by the cul de sac—like Peter’s driving teacher.  Next year I think I will reduce the number of plants to no more than 9 or 10.

Black Pearl Tomato– from Burpees. These were very tasty small tomatoes with a dark brown/red appearance. I planted three of them. I ate those right off the vine. I felt like a brown bear standing in the garden and just plucking the little tomatos and popping them into my mouth. I think one bush would have been enough, but I will definitely should plant some next year. They were very tasty.

Big Rainbow Tomato-from Burpee. These were quite beautiful. The plants produced well and I will definitely order next year. Yum, can’t wait. 

Gold-Medal Yellow Tomato-from White Flower Farm. Part of Bobbie’s Christmas present to me. This didn’t yield a lot of tomatoes and they were late in the season. I would like to have some yellow tomatoes, but it might be good to try a variety which matures more quickly. They were tasty, but will try another variety.

Riesentraube Tomato-from White Flower Farm. The name translates to big grape. They are cherry tomatoes with a funny little point on the end. They were very tasty. I think they got overlooked by the Black Pearl tomatoes, but I plan to try them again next year. 

Red Brandywine tomatoes-White Flower Farm. Classic brandywine. Definitely worth buying next year whether from White Flower or elsewhere.

Green Zebra Tomatoes-White Flower Farm. Hard to tell when these were ripe because I kept waiting for the green to leave. Good plant, mark next year so I know they are supposed to be red and green.

Black Prince Tomato-White Flower Farm. This was the kinkiest, most gorgeous tomato. I was sorry that I didn’t get more of them but the plant I had was damaged in a terrible wind storm and I think it was brave to grow at all. Will definitely try again next year. Gorgeous color.

Fourth of July Tomatoes-Burpee. Had ordered three of these. Ordered them because they mature quickly. But they were quite small. I think one bush next year just to have that early tomato fix. I like bigger slicing tomatoes and these were too small to slice. 

Planting formation. The garden was a circle like a clockface. Standing at the gate, facing the garden the tomatoes were planted from 3-6 and 9-12. Herbs were planted from 6-9 and lettuce from 12-4. I need to remember to rotate positions. I also need to remember to spread manure before turning the soil.

But all in all it wasn’t a bad first outing. Again, would love comments and advice.

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