Saturday, January 22, 2011

Snowed Under /Out From Under

The snow this year has been piling up.  Just after the most recent storm, I was driving home from work and noticed along the sides of the road that the snow blades had exposed a timeline of the storms' history.  Like sediment, layers of snow told the story of the past month's deluges.  It was fascinating in an archaeological kind of way. 

Of course, the best thing about new snow is that, for awhile, all the nasty, dirty snow wears a clean coat.  Everything sparkles in the sun and even the strongest sunglasses cannot dull the intense whiteness.

I have been joyfully hibernating.  I have read countless books, cleaned a little and simplified my busy life.  It is amazing how many time (and mind) wasters I have filled my life with.  Some may have started for good reasons, but have been continued out of habit rather than need.  Take my budget notebook, for instance.  A page for every month to track purchases and bills and plastic pockets for the receipts.  Originally, we were trying to identify our cost of living and where we could trim.  It worked.  Never occurred to me to discontinue it.  And did I mention that it is time-consuming?  Yup.  Well, we trimmed and saved and now I have said adios to the chore.  I kept only the critical receipts for taxes and house renovations.  How nice to have that eliminated from my life.  Now I can get back to my book or putter in my studio unfettered by paperwork. 


Monday, January 17, 2011

Weekend Finds

No matter how thorough I am when I pack up the Christmas decorations, there are always a few which hide and then show up weeks later.  I'd like to say I have discovered them all, but only time will tell.

It is nice to restore order and give the house a more streamlined countenance.  Saturday was cleaning day, Sunday was for baking - both nice on a cold and snowy winter weekend.  I added pomegranates to the apples in the pie crust which was yummy - next time I want to add more.  Reducing saved paperwork upstairs, most of which could be pitched, felt good.  Why do I save so much?  Every time I purge, I think of Chris having to go through this stash someday.  I wouldn't want that chore and I certainly don't want her to have it either.  There are plenty of minimalist people in the world - you'd think I would have brushed up against a few in my lifetime.  No such luck.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Sunny Long Beach

The TNNA (National Needlework Show) just ended and, as usual, the talent rivals any art gallery.  Creating art with needle and thread is soul-satisfying.  Choosing from amongst a plethora of images is impossible.  Good thing I was here for work instead of myself or I would have been bankrupt by the end of the first day.  I have a healthy stash at home, thank you very much, and two needlepoint pieces plus a pair of socks to knit with me in my hotel room.  I did have Lisa, at Nashville Needleworks, order one piece for me from Melissa Shirley Designs.  It is a beautiful folk star embellished with holly and ribbons by Mary Lake Thompson for next Christmas.  I couldn't resist!

I took a class while at the show and am excited about working on the design.  I knew I would put the project I brought with me aside when I started this one - it is beautiful.  

Other than my luggage getting routed to India instead of Los Angeles, it was a good trip and I was able to get in some stitching in the evenings uninterrupted by TV or housework.  Two of the benefits of traveling alone are a comfy chair all to myself and room service. 

Sunset over Long Beach Harbor
I think they felt sorry for me when I arrived at the hotel without my luggage.  They gave me a wonderful corner room with a table and chairs by the window and a comfy arm chair with ottoman.  The sunset the first night had the horizon on fire which was a little disconcerting since the busy docks were out there.  I head back to snowy Boston tomorrow.  The warm sunshine of southern California will have to wait for my next visit in a few weeks for the Hobby Show.  This time I think my bag will stay with me on the plane.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

More from New Year's Weekend

Spending the last few days (and the first of the new year) in a regal old hotel near Boston Common is bliss.  Exploring the city, experiencing our first "First Night" with all the festivities, parade and fireworks was a blast.

It was unseasonably warm which had families out in droves.  Everyone was so excited to be there and the line at the skating rink in Boston Common was a long, patient one.

The sculptures were magnificent but drippy as the sun warmed them, softening their details.  George Washington was having a difficult time crossing the Delaware, but the dolphins took the excess water in stride.

We watched the midnight fireworks from the harbor which was unique, but I envied the masses on the pier who were counting down the seconds only to break into a roar as the clock struck the hour.  It was quiet on our boat.  They didn't do a countdown or play Old Ang Syne.  Next time, I want to be with them. 

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

MFA Art of the Americas Wing

John Singer Sargent      The Daughters of Edward Darley Bolt
I am in heaven!  I love the new wing at the MFA.  Bob and I spent a long weekend in Boston for New Year's Eve and I got to explore the exhibits to my heart's content.  While he napped (he is tolerant of my museum forays up to a point), I savored the works of John Singer Sargent (my favorite), Mary Cassatt (another one) and impressionists to moderns.  I left two floors for another time.

John Sargent  An Artist in his Studio
This one, of an artist friend in Italy really shows his love of white on white with the bed linens draped over the footboard.  The rumpled sheets, hastily pulled back out of the way, reflect the light streaming in the window.  He was a master at juxtaposing color and creating balance.

Mary Cassatt      Afternoon Tea
Mary Cassatt depicted the gentler side of life with her mother and child portraits and friends enjoying an afternoon tea.  How wonderful to be able to see these works in person any time I want!I can only imagine what treasures are stored below that I have yet to view.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

First Night Boston

Our long weekend in Boston for the New Year festivities has been great.  We stayed with friends at the Parker House at the top end of Boston Common at Tremont and School Streets.  Since it is the oldest continually running hotel in America, I love its historical roots and the timelessly elegant lobby and rooms.  Sitting just at the base of Beacon Hill, walks in the area have taken us onto cobblestone sidewalks which run past tall brick townhouses decked in Christmas finery.  No blow-up Santas here, just beautiful window boxes filled with greenery, berries and ribbons.  A step back in time.

We ate in restaurants tucked into alleys and an Irish Pub outfitted with grand woodwork and well-worn wide plank floors.  At Marliave's, we sat at a table in the front window which was wreathed in pine and fairy lights.  The food was exceptional.  Emmet's Irish Pub had one of the best clam chowders I have ever had and we went back for dinner on Saturday night.  Fiore's in the North End - what can I say?  Sunday Gravy like mama made back in the old country and waiters who treated us like old friends. 

The new Art of the Americas wing at the MFA had me giddy with pleasure.  I only got to explore two of the four floors as I savored every exhibit, but that means I can go back for the others!  John Singer Sargent's artwork was amazing and I saw paintings which were new to me.  How lucky I am to live so close to all this!

We went to the Improv Asylum and saw a comic at the Park Plaza Hotel after the parade and Boston Common fireworks before heading towards Long Wharf and the harbor cruise at midnight to see the fireworks from the water.  It was exciting to see them reflected against the tall glass buildings along Boston harbor, but I felt left out of the countdown on the piers and the festivities among the masses of people there.  If we come down again, I want to be with everyone else at the stroke of midnight.  Some things are just meant to be shared.