Thursday, July 31, 2014

Kitchen Blooms

One of the pleasures of summer is picking single blooms for my kitchen windowsill. I love to look at these blooms every day. As soon as I have flowers in the spring, I have flowers on my windowsill.  I like being able to study the flowers a little more closely than I do in the garden, and it makes washing the dishes a little more pleasant.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Just Around the House, Early in the Morning

Just Around the House, Early in the Morning
by Mary Oliver

Though I have been scorned for it
let me never be afraid to use the world beautiful.
For within is the shining leaf
and the blossoms of the geranium at the window.
And the eyes of the happy puppy as he wakes.
The colors of the old and beloved afghan lying
by itself, on the couch, in the morning sun.
The hummingbirds' nest perched now in a
corner of the bookshelf, in front of so many
books of so many colors.
the two poached eggs.  The buttered toast.
The ream of brand-new paper just opened,
white as a block of snow.
The typewriter humming, ready to go.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Watering Cans, Continued

New on my list, this watering can from Belgium. Love the coffeepot shape. (Image via Pinterest)

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Watering Cans

I started collecting vintage watering cans about fifteen years ago, and I have quite a few now. I love seeing them all around my garden.  I especially love the painted ones. I have blue and green, but I really really want a yellow one. I'm kinda past the collecting phase, though, so that probably won't happen.

I make good use of them, especially now in these hot and humid days of late July, when I am watering every day. The garden is struggling right now with the heat and with another problem I haven't had to deal with before-- deer!  The other night when I was coming home from work around 9:30 pm, I pulled into the driveway and almost hit a deer!  I was so shocked.  This is after all a pretty populated suburban neighborhood. We see a random deer, but it's never been a problem. The next morning I noticed that all the tasty buds of my day lilies in the front garden were neatly munched off.  And I have been noticing a few hostas chopped off.  And begonias... I guess someone has been snacking on the buffet that is my garden. Lots of delicious morsels around here.

Friday, July 18, 2014

The Arsonist

I haven't read a book by Sue Miller (The Senator's Wife, The Lake Shore Limited) in awhile and I liked her newest one. Set in a small town in New Hampshire, it is the story of Frankie Rowley, a young woman who has been working for the past 15 years in East Africa. Exhausted and somewhat jaded about the aid work she is doing in  Africa, she comes home to New Hampshire, where she spent summers as a child and where her retired parents now live. But as soon as she arrives, mysterious fires are being set in summer homes across the town. Tensions are high among the permanent residents and the 'summer people.' She begins a relationship with the publisher of the local newspaper, and tries to make peace with her aging, and ailing parents. This is a book about what home means, and where you belong. Not all questions are answered, and I liked the uncertainty that you are left with at the end of the book. No set answers, just like real life. Very readable, a good summer read.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Reading Hemingway

Patty at Mont Saint-Michel, France
I love this poem because every time I read it I think about my friend Patty, and when we were in graduate school in Paris back in the day.  We were so young and liked to think of ourselves as intellectuals,  and we would walk around Paris looking for Hemingway's cafes, and talking to each other in Hemingway's simple. spare. style. We thought we could be writers too. We liked to drink that cold, dry wine. So cold, so dry.  We thought we were so smart, so cool.

Reading Hemingway, by James Cummins

Reading Hemingway makes me so hungry,
for jambon, cheeses, and a dry white wine.
Cold, of course, very cold. And very dry.
Reading Hemingway makes some folks angry:
the hip drinking, the bitter pantomime.
But reading Hemingway makes me hungry
for the good life, the sun, the fish, the sky:
blue air, white water, dinner on the line . . .
Had it down cold, he did. And dry. Real dry.
But Papa had it all, the brio, the Brie:
clear-eyed, tight-lipped, advancing on a stein . . .
Reading Hemingway makes me so hungry,
I’d knock down Monsieur Stevens, too, if I
drank too much retsina before we dined.
(Too old, that man, and way too cold. And dry
enough to rub one’s famished nerves awry,
kept talking past the kitchen’s closing time!)
Reading Hemingway makes me so hungry . . .
And cold, of course. So cold. And very dry.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Summer Weekend

A typical Virginia weekend, hot and steamy. The garden is so lush right now, so much green everywhere (except for the lawn, which is turning the usual July brown) with pops of pink here and there. Blooming now are phlox, daisies, purple coneflowers, yarrow, day lilies, zinnias, a few roses.  I worked in the garden both mornings, mostly watering, weeding, and cutting back, still pulling out larkspur.  On Saturday I went to the farmer's market at Lake Anne--it's always a pleasure to see that pretty flowery wall along the lake, and pick up some fresh produce as well.

Lake Anne Farmer's Market

Lake Anne

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Books On My Nightstand

It's a rainy morning here in the garden today, so let's look at what I'm reading lately.

  • Burial Rites, by Hannah Kent--a novel inspired by the true story of a young woman accused of murder in Iceland in 1829. Highly recommended to me by my library friends.
  • The Silkworm--second Cormoran Strike book (Cuckoo's Calling was the first) by Robert Galbraith (aka J.K. Rowling).
  • The Arsonist, by Sue Miller--after working in Africa for 15 years, Frankie comes home to New Hampshire to regroup and rest, unfortunately someone is setting fires around town.
  • Jar City, by Arnaldur Indridason--first in the Erlendur series by this Icelandic author (I enjoyed Hypothermia).
  • The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green--I may be the only person who hasn't read this book yet (reading now). 

Monday, July 7, 2014

First Tomatoes

They're Sweet 100s, and while not big enough for a BLT, they're perfect for popping in your mouth when you're outside in the garden. And yes, they're delish.

Thursday, July 3, 2014


I am not usually a big mystery reader, but lately they seem to be just what I feel like reading. Nothing too complicated, nothing too deep,  enough of a puzzle to keep me interested,  compelling characters.  This book, Hypothermia, was the selection of the mystery book group at my library, and although I don’t attend it, several of the members told me it was really good, so I decided to give it a try. I had never even heard of Icelandic writer Arnaldur Indridason, but apparently he is fairly well known in mystery circles. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked this book. There must be something about these Scandinavian writers that appeals to me--the sparseness of the writing, the cold, stark landscapes, the brooding detectives.

The main character in Hypothermia is Reykjavik police detective Erlendur,  another in the long line of tortured Scandinavian detectives (hello, Wallander)--moody, unhappily divorced, troubled children. When a young woman commits suicide, Erlendur dutifully notifies her husband. What looks like a clear-cut case of suicide begins to unravel after the woman's friend approaches Erlendur with doubts about the suicide.  Erlendur begins to dig deeper into the dead woman's life and finds hints of seances, the  supernatural, and the woman's obsession with the idea of life after death.  At the same time,  Erlendur is thinking about his own loss, a brother who disappeared in a blinding snowstorm on a mountain many years ago when they were children. That loss has never left him and is perhaps the reason he can't let go of other missing person cases.

I was surprised how much I liked the book, and I liked getting a glimpse of Iceland. There are several more Erlendur books, so I am looking forward to reading those too.