Saturday, March 10, 2012

One Book, 2 Chapters

Front Cover

It has been so long since I have visited my blog that I could barely remember my login password. Not good, must remedy, somehow. So here is a little tidbit for now. It is a book called The Memory Chalet, by the deceased Tony Judt. It came to me via a friend. She has visited der Schweiz for business and can relate. I enthusiastically started to read the book, shoving aside the arduous pact I made with myself to finish my 3 stacks of trade magazines before I picked up another book.

After the preface and the first four chapters, my enthusiasm quickly waned, but I held fast to check out his insight about the tiny mountain country in the middle of Europe, from which some of my ancestors evolved. Judt's memoir is organized in a very nice fashion, particular to the cards he was dealt at the time. It is not that this is a bad book. It is pretty good, in concept. But I just can't bring myself to love it enough to read it in it's entirety. Too many other good things to read are sitting by my bedside, calling my name for attention, but still piling up because I have no time. But what I did read, I liked. What I did read focused mainly on Switzerland and was pretty darn accurate.

So if you choose to read this book looking for Switzerland references, allow me fill you in so you may cut to the chase. There are a few well chosen words in Chapter One. They very accurately describe the timeless vibe of a Swiss ski holiday. And then there is the more lengthy Chapter Twenty-five. This one accurately captures the essence of what Switzerland is all about, for better or worse, from an outsider's point of view. This, he really nailed. That's all I will give, for fear of spoiling your read.

Monday, October 17, 2011


Wow, I have neglected the blog lately, haven't I? Needless to say, it has been a crazy, busy, at times, hectic, summer. And it is actually fall now, so it continues....

We recently had windows replaced. It was the hope that we could refurbish the originals, instead of replacing. But time didn't allow for that. So we shopped, got estimates and sticker shock, but finally found windows that we could live with architecturally and fiscally. Our old, wavy glass, century old portals to the world are gone. I see architectural salvage in their future, if only I had the time to do the research. The old windows are resting comfortably in Garage Mahal.

Gone are teh 'breezes' that used to pass through the old windows. Even when they were closed, which was most of the time because only a few opened. We joked in advance of the replacement that we would suddenly be getting sick all the time because the new windows would seal properly and there wouldn't be any fresh air circulation indoors.

I joked, but was a little serious, too. So yesterday we went out and brought home some new house plants, to help improve the indoor air quality as a result of the tightly sealed up windows. Just the basics to start. Must see how the cat responds first. Hopefully she won't bother with them. We now have a fern, an African violet, cactii and an orchid, as well as another random green plant with no tag.

The fern came to be just because I like them. The cactii are inspired by our recent Arizona vacation. The violet is in honor of my Grandma, who had many and they all looked great. And the orchid is for some showy, shameless flowers. The random green plant is because I like to give homes to strays from time to time.

I also repotted my Grandmother's old spider plants. Again. They have been with me since she died in 1994. Scott's fig tree, which I named Stavros, will be coming indoors for the winter pretty soon. And I still need to find a peace lily. Just because I like them and have never had one.

So here's hoping for a warm house with great views and healthy air this winter!

Sunday, September 18, 2011


I read about these rebel knitters that knit up bikinis for trees and booties for USPS post boxes in NYC. They go out at night and dress them up, so to speak. But I spotted these in West Chester, PA. Tree love. If I had free time, I would do the same. Someday....

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Jones'

We have had such little rain and such very hot, humid, oppressive weather this summer. I just was out tending to the veggie patch. But tonight is actually comfortable. Not August at all. First, the hum of one person's mower, then another, then another. The Jones are out in force hacking and wacking at their green spaces, whether it needs it or not. They keep up with one another, like they think they should.

Just because there was some rain, the brown has begun to turn a little green again and the 80 degree at 7:30 PM weather feels like long pants time compared to what we have had, does not mean we need to mow just yet. Give the keeping up a rest and enjoy the pleasant weather instead. The grass can wait, and surely will go brown again. It is August, after all.

Dear Jones', the air quality police will give you a gold star if you just say no to the mow. At least for now. Instead, after the next rain, look for all the mushrooms that have sprouted.

Friday, May 20, 2011


I think it is very entertaining when you realize that you have become like some ancestor, even if just in a small way. The older I get, the more things I notice.

Today I went to the local dairy/vegetable/ice cream store, Merrymeade Farms ( to get milk to make ricotta cheese. I have a recipe planned for it that I will make over the weekend. It is a rainy day and I put on my rain boots to head out. When I got there, instead of heading indoors to just get milk, I was drawn in to the garden center area by a sign telling of organic herb plants ahead. Mind you, I just spent last weekend planting 23 veggies and 35 perennials, with help from Scott. The last thing I need is more plants. But I had to go there....

I perused a very extensive collection of herbs and such, but what drew me was the beets and brussel sprouts. I decided I needed them and headed in to pay. Then I found fresh asparagus, another ingredient necessary for my recipe. As I was putting my stuff in the car, I realized that my veggie patch consisted of all the things my Grandma Rose seemed to eat a lot of. When I was young, however, I wouldn't touch the stuff. I thought she was nuts and didn't understand why she would slave over a hot stove to cook beets forever when she could have just grabbed a Ho-Ho instead!

Our veggie patch was heavily influenced by Scott's foodie tendencies, too. We eat and cook together. So how is it that so many things Grandma used to eat are now regular counter clutterers in my house? Genes.

Maybe she is proud of me and maybe she is just looking at me, shaking her gray head thinking, "Finally, this kid has smartened up." Whatever the case, I should thank her. After all, she was right. Tea is good. Beets, rhubarb, brussel sprouts and asparagus are really good things. I am happy to finally have a tiny, but hopefully productive veggie patch again. I haven't done one since NY. I attribute my gardening gene to her. Those Swiss gardening and farming genes. Who knows, maybe that is why I am a landscape architect, too.

On the other side of the family, I get the feistiness from my Grandma C. She was a redhead until she passed, no matter that she wasn't a true redhead. I love to tease Scott. I do it all the time, whether he likes it or not. It isn't mean-intentioned. I have often wondered where this came from. Grandma C is the answer to that. She was always good for bantering back and forth with the men of the family.

My list of similarities goes on. I am proud that I have become like my Grandmas in at least some ways. They were hard-working, good ladies. Not bad trees to fall from.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Green Day

How do you like my Still Life in Green?

Today was a Pretty Green day, both Prettier and Greener than most. First, it was a Pretty, sun-filled and clear, yet chilly spring day. A crisp reminder from Mother Nature that winter may be forgotten, but she hasn't left just yet. Then I took the train into the city, also very Green. And then I went to the grocery store and laid out all my pickings on the conveyor belt at the cashier only to realize that everything was Green. Even the daffodils, Green because they haven't yet opened. Okay, everything except the bread and potatoes. And that is not unusual at all.

I came home, put away the groceries and discovered that there are TONS of Green things in the fridge. Kale, my new favorite veg, Green onions, Green olives, cilantro, pickles, the list goes on. All the good stuff. An avocado sits ready for eating on the Green granite counter with the Green glass backsplash. And that is not unusual at all.

And I write this from my green painted living room with green curtains. My mouse has a green mousepad. And that is not unusual at all.

And I am wearing Green pants. And that is not unusual at all.

Green Day!

Friday, February 25, 2011


So, you know I can't get enough snow. This has been a pretty nice, snowy winter here in the southeastern PA region. Lots of little snow storms early in the year. But it all melted in the last few weeks and the spring rains have come, I fear, early. The words, 'early spring' are curse words to me.

But I love rain, too. I knew rain was forecasted and it actually was raining at bedtime last night. I woke up and just knew it was still raining. This prospect was enough to get me out of bed quick. I ran to the window and was happy to see the stuff falling from the sky.

Today I had a breakfast date with friends. I ran downstairs and kissed Scott good morning and declared how happy I was that it was raining. A good day for rain boots, even. The giddiness continued thanks to my reverse seasonal affective disorder, my term for my love of bad weather and dislike of perfect sparkly sunny days and warm weather.

Our breakfast destination was closed because of a blown transformer. So we went to another place. Then I went to K-Mart and I wasn't there 5 minutes and the power went out, forcing me to seek a new place to shop. BTW, it gets pretty dark in the back of K-Mart when the power is out.

Now, I should be doing all kinds of things, but the sun showed up and sucked out all that good serotonin that was keeping me happy and productive. I had slumped in a chair and was accomplishing nothing for a few minutes when I realized what had happened.

But, to my appreciation, the clouds rolled back in, this time with lots of wind. The rain will come again, I am sure, maybe even thunder. And I will go on being productive, crossing things off my list, as my serotonin kicks back in with the promise of puddles and worms.