Sunday, September 28, 2014

In search of beauty

Sometimes I just need to look at pretty things.  Stuff that is visually stimulating.  One day that could be bead magazines.  Another day it could be twenty shades of green in a thick forest of trees.  Sometimes it's a good movie with gorgeous scenery, well-written dialogue, stunning costumes and attractive actors.  Now and again it's looking at my collections - china, beads, found feathers, fabric.  Often it's laying in bed at night with a book on flowers or paintings or birds.  (I confess I hope that putting pretty images in my head just before sleep will make my dreams more colorful, detailed and interesting.)

The last few days have been full of what I consider beautiful.  I spent Friday afternoon at Montgomery Place - well, wandering around the grounds actually.  While walking the acres of trees, trails and gardens I felt a strong sense of calm.  It is a rather serene place, from the formal gardens and arboretum to the cascading waterfall on Sawkill Creek.  I saw chipmunks chasing one another, a centipede hiding under a tree root, frogs leaping into a man made pond, hawks gliding over the river in lazy circles, pink lady bugs crawling over petals and bumble bees making their rounds in the flower patches, their tiny legs covered in pollen.  I photographed a dragon fly that settled on a bare rose bush.  I met a woman from New Jersey on the north porch who told me of other notable mansions to visit in the area.  I ogled a grasshopper that looked as though he was the model for camouflage clothing.  What a wonderful way to while away a few hours and get some exercise too.

On Saturday, Tim and I got up for garage sales and a flea market at a local church.  I met a lovely woman who sold me some splendid china pieces as we chatted about how we're both perhaps a little too fond of dishes.  I bought some glass bowls which I like to place beads in when I'm inspired to match them together but don't yet know how I'll turn them into a piece of jewelry.  I looked at lots of vintage jewelry and handmade items.  Tim scored some Star Wars drinking glasses, a new desk and a small baker's rack for our kitchen from some seriously jolly people who gave free candy with every purchase.  I also snapped up a few paperback novels on the cheap.  Then I spent the afternoon tidying, arranging and taking photos while enjoying the sunshine streaming through the windows.  I also bird watched a bit with the cat.  We've had lots of cardinals and blue jays in the yard lately.  I like to listen to her chatter at them through the window screen as they hop around blissfully unaware that she likely wants to eat them (one of the reasons we don't let her outside).  Just after dusk a doe and her twin fawns grazed amongst the trees and tall grass next to our house.  We watched from our bathroom window, huddled and whispering so we wouldn't startle them.

Today I'm feeling domestic and a bit under the weather.  So instead of rambling around the countryside, I've baked two loaves of pumpkin bread, washed our linens and hung them on the line, sent some emails to old friends and made a pizza.  Later I'm going to start a mini-series that stars Benedict Cumberbatch. 

What do you consider beautiful?  What do you seek out when you're looking for pretty things?  Where do you go to find lovely?  

Sunday, September 21, 2014


Yesterday Tim and I did everything from acquiring new auto insurance to climbing a fire tower.  He is quite busy with classes these days so it was nice to have him all to myself for the day. 

We visited the Hudson Valley Farmers Market.  I fed baby goats and afterward we picked up some veggies and spices.  The nutmeg I bought has got to be the one of the best-smelling things on this planet.  Seriously.  I think it is going to become part of a loaf of pumpkin chocolate chip bread later today.

Got any more pellets?  They're right over there.  Only 25 cents for a handful!

Then we went to Hardscrabble Day in Red Hook which is a celebration of the town's humble roots as a rural farming community, as I understand it.  Food, flea markets, face painting, live music, games for the kiddies and generally an excuse for folks to ramble around and chit chat with their neighbors.  I like that small towns do things like this.  It makes me think of movies and TV shows that depict town gatherings and dances - food, gossip (not the malicious kind), dancing, who is romancing who, who is wearing a new dress, any moral lessons to be learned, etc.  And now I want to listen to the soundtrack to Pride and Prejudice (the Keira Knightly version) or watch Little Women (with Winona Ryder as Jo) or an episode of Little House on the Prairie.  I know, I'm kind of a sap.  

Later we went to Ferncliff Forest where there are lean-tos and fire pits for camping and a fire tower that affords an incredible view of the Hudson River Valley.  It was nearing dusk when we reached the top, and the sky was a bit cloudy to begin with, but what a gorgeous scene all around us.  I joked that I could see New York City from there.  As someone who has a serious fear of heights, I'm not sure how I managed to get to the top and back down without shaking, but I did and I'm glad that I could.

Last night we began watching the Ken Burns PBS series on the Roosevelts.  It is very, very interesting.  Always having been a fan of Theodore Roosevelt's policies on preservation and  his gung-ho attitude in general, it was good to learn more of his history prior to becoming President.  Since we are very near Hyde Park and Tivoli, and Long Island isn't too far way, it is perhaps a good idea to educate ourselves about the history of the people who had such great influence over politics on a state and federal level.  We're thinking about going to FDR's home and Presidential Library next weekend.

Whatever you did this weekend, I hope it was fun or interesting or maybe just relaxing.  I get to visit a DMV office and interview for a few jobs in the next few days.  The rest of my weekend is going to focus mainly on these things.  Cross your fingers for me!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Finding the time to be outdoors

I've been researching and seeking out the pockets of nature that exist where we now live - the ones set aside purposely for walks, reflection, exercise, education, preservation and appreciation for the scenery.  I've been to a few in the last week and have enjoyed some of the endless winding country roads that cross the landscape.  There is beauty all around us here, to be truthful.  Gorgeous historic homes, vistas of the Catskill Mountains and beyond, forests of trees changing color by the day, algae covered ponds, the Hudson River, rolling hills of farm land.  It's all here and more.  

Wilderstein - home of Margaret Daisy Suckley, friend to FDR, now a National Historic Landmark with walking trails

Yesterday I took a walk at a place called Poet's Walk.  It was created for quiet reflection and inspiration, both of which I found there.  I also had the pleasure of seeing several blue jays and a Pileated woodpecker along with dozens of squirrels and chipmunks leaping across the trail or up and down trees, some even throwing acorns down to the ground inches away from where I was walking.  Of course, I didn't take it personally.

One of the structures along a path at Poet's Walk with a nice view of the Catskills beyond
I had the trails to myself in most places and rested without interruption on a bench overlooking the river.  You see, I do enjoy walking with others to have their company, but I also relish time alone in the wilderness.  It is the one place where I can truly shut out all of the extraneous stuff and put into focus what needs doing.  It is also perhaps the best place for me to clear my mind in order for creative ideas to present themselves.  

Who doesn't appreciate a roomy, comfortable bench with a view?

In the upcoming days, I hope to take a walk through the grounds of an old mansion with extensive gardens that are open to the public.  Tim and I also plan to watch the sun set behind the Catskills from a fire tower in a nearby forest.  Who knows what other pleasures the weekend will bring?  I can wish for more fine weather and time for a jaunt or two outside.  

May you find the time to do the same if you find delight in it.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014


I stumbled upon this a few weeks ago which is a bit odd since I don't often watch music videos.  I just viewed it again and found the message even more resonant the second time around.

We recently watched "Eat Pray Love" (for the third or fourth time).  As always, I love the scene in Naples where Liz tells her friend Sofi that she is over the guilt of having to constantly worry about her calorie intake and recalling each morning everything she ate the day before so she knew how much self-loathing to carry into the shower with her. Well, Amen!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Finally, it's set up

So back when I wrote that my priority in moving into our new place was to put together my creative space, I should have realized then it was a fantasy.  First and foremost, that was what I wanted to do.  Not clean the bathroom or put the dishes away in the kitchen, not even set up our bedroom.  Well, folks, practicality sometimes takes precedence over one's need to make things.  That sort of sounds like the old saying - necessity is the mother of invention.  Not quite the same thing, but perhaps you get the gist anyhow.

Well, it's unpacked, organized, ready for things to be dreamt up and created.  The beads and wire and tools are waiting.  Stacks of fabric and thread and my sewing machine are seemingly itching to be turned into something useful (or at least pretty).  Handmade papers and Modge Podge and canvases all ready to go.  Postage stamps and flowers cut out from catalogs and bits of ephemera just clamoring to collectively become something more.  

Still needs a little decoration.  Something colorful on the wall or ceiling.
The bright corner.  I stop and look almost every time I pass the bead strands.
Yet, I find myself focused on reading instead.  Fiction books.  Four in the last two weeks, squeezed in between cleaning, setting up house, looking for work and the daily bits we all have to do like grocery shopping and washing dishes.  This enjoyable, albeit guilt-inducing, pastime is preventing me from doing other things I could or should be doing.  Such as adding some ingredients to the the rotting bananas in the kitchen to make some yummy bread.  Such as applying for more jobs.  (Ooh, that's a big one!!)  Such as exploring the area which I now call home as summer eases into fall and the weather cools.  Such as checking things off my to do list that are more important than finishing another novel on my Kindle.  The latest one giving me strange, scary dreams, by the way.  

I'm going to chalk this up to a need for being quiet.  A need for stillness.  For having our kitten strewn across my lap or belly so we both feel comforted.  Perhaps a need for a bit of escape from missing Montana.  Surely, it is an escape from the nervous angst of trying to find a job.  I also think it's the time of year.  As the trees change color and the nights become downright chilly, autumn is a time to cuddle up with a good book, to bake things with apples and pumpkin in them, to break out thicker sweaters and to kind of...nest, no?  That being written, a job and income would be considerably more handy than seasonal creature comforts!!

Well, maybe after I finish this last book (I'm already more than halfway through!), I will get back on the bandwagon so to speak.  Find a job and conjur something up in my newly put together room.  Then I can feel irreproachable when I begin the next borrowed e-book which is Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed.  I'm expecting it to be a good read.
The red barn that is the view from my windows.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Love this song....

I swear, if I could sing like this I would walk around belting out tunes all of the time.  This is one of those songs I go back to again and again, especially when I need to listen to something loud.  I love her voice, her hair, her clothes, her humility, her talent.  She looks as though she stepped out of a dramatic English period piece or a timeless fairy tale. 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

"Just Saying"

My stepdad and little sister have this thing that whenever someone says "just saying" they have to use air quotes.  Tim and I are now doing it, and because it comes from two of the silliest, loudest people one could ever meet, it makes us giggle every time.

A hazy view of the Hudson Valley and Catskill Mts.
Today, I'm "just saying" that I love a good warm day when it's dry, there is a slight breeze, my cat is napping away in the kitchen window and I have jewelry on my mind.  I'm also "just saying" that for the first time since we've moved to our new place I feel rather content.  Not stressed out over the immense amount of cleaning and organizing to be done.  Not feeling disgustingly overheated and sweaty because the temperature and dew point are almost the same number.  Not feeling like finding a job isn't going to happen.  Instead, I'm feeling like I can only do what I can, one day at a time, one task at a time and that is OKAY.  It truly, really is okay.  No one is coming to my house for a magazine shoot, for the love of Pete!

Miss Penny, sleeping the day away Could she be any more cute?

Besides, the two houseguests who've already visited did not care a fig about unpacked boxes or that we are still sans couch and bed.  They were happy to see us and to spend time with us.  Our first visitor was my younger sister who is stunningly beautiful, motivated, hilarious and, at times, wise for her young age.  (Oh, to be 23 again!)  

Our second visitor was an Antarctic friend, now living and working in Africa, home for a brief time in NY to see family and friends.  I asked her a ton of questions, learned a lot, and I've been dreaming of gorillas every night since.  I need to get to Africa to see the big critters!  I've seen rhinos, tigers, lions, lemurs, cheetahs, baboons, hyenas and once even fed a giraffe, but they were all in zoos.  I want to see a majestic elephant in the wild, flapping its huge ears, encouraging a young one to move along with its trunk.  I want to watch a big cat on the hunt, crouching close to the ground before leaping to run after its intended prey.  One of these days, I do hope.   

Giraffes at the Wellington, NZ Zoo

Monday, September 1, 2014

Lovely horses

At our old place in Montana, two to three horses seasonally roamed the strip of land behind our home.  We fed them apples and carrots on occasion, and we always enjoyed them being part of the view outside our living room windows.  I liked to watch them nuzzle each other and run around, seemingly aimlessly.  I loved petting their noses when they would let me.

Near our new place in New York there are horses as well.  They live in a small red barn on an adjoining property, and they wander in and out to sleep, graze and roll around in the grass of the paddock just outside their stalls.  The barn and house are for sale so I'm unsure how long they will stick around, but I will enjoy them as long as I can.  I haven't decided if I will cross the driveway to feed or pet them, but it's lovely to watch them all the same.