Saturday, August 30, 2014

Making a home……

If you're married, or living with a partner, have you 
moved since you first put down roots in a home together?
I was living in a tiny apartment in Washington, D.C. when 
Bob and I married almost fifty years ago! Within a 
couple of weeks we moved to Bob's home town of Manchester, 
New Hampshire . . .  

 . . . and set up house in this lovely home, renting the 
second floor from the elderly French Canadian owners who 
lived downstairs. We had to scrimp to pay the rent - times 
were really tough for us in those days. I would often sit 
on the back steps looking out across the city to 
Mt. Uncanoonuc in the distance - wondering how on earth 
I had ended up so far from my home and family in England.

I was so happy when we drove by the house today and saw 
how well it has been kept up and is obviously loved by its 
current owners. Those simple wooden steps where I sat,
planning my future, knowing I would probably never live 
in England again, have been replaced by lovely decks 
and stairs. 
The garden was neat and attractive and the red front door 
most welcoming. Some windows were open allowing the fresh 
air in. Notice the beautiful front porch, sadly it was a 
part of the house we were not permitted to use. 

My dear in-laws lived a few hundred yards up the street 
and were very kind to me during my New Hampshire years. 
Burying my mother-in-law next to Bob's father this week 
brought back so many memories. We've spent a lot of time 
driving around town and chatting about those early years.
Today we returned to the cemetery to make sure all was well.
It was, and we feel comfortable leaving for home tomorrow 
knowing our loved ones are together again.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Lake Champlain. . . . . . .

Last night we took an unplanned ferry ride across 
Lake Champlain from Vermont to Plattsburgh, New York.

Old style lakefront vacation lodgings - still very attractive when kept up so well.

Returning to Vermont today we drove down through the sunlit 
lake islands to Burlington, arriving back in Manchester, 
New Hampshire - our starting point last Tuesday. 
Our unplanned road trip turn into a lovely vacation - 
the countryside and coastal regions were all so scenic, 
the kindness of the near perfect late Summer weather was 
a most generous extra.

Always an interesting journey………..

No time to write much as we head even further north this morning toward the Canadian border. We didn't expect to get this far and don't have passports with us so will not be venturing into that lovely land, unfortunately!
More of New Hampshire included the Bretton Woods resort, Bethlehem with historic theatre and quaint shops, and a sudden drop in temps. which had me digging out a jacket to ward off the bracing mountain air.
Vermont was awesome and included a tour of the Cabot cheese factory, with nibbles - dinner at the New England Culinary Institute in Montpelier - and scenery to behold!

Looking out at Lake Champlain now and will be on the road after breakfast.
More later.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Continuing the New England road trip………………

We're snuggled into our hotel room in the mountains tonight.  

 This was the view as we drove into North Conway, NH this 
evening, the air cooling comfortably following another
very warm and sunny day.

Evening falls over Mt. Washington, New Hampshire - 6,288 feet, highest mountain in the 
Northeastern United States.

New England countryside.

White Mountains of New Hampshire.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Coastal Maine, USA . . . . . . . . .

This is where Bob and I spent today in brilliant sunshine 
and 78 degrees. . .talk about a perfect late Summer's 
day, this was it!

Cape Neddick Lighthouse known as 'Nubble Light', York, Maine,
 was built in 1879 and is still in use today.

Perkins Cove, Ogunquit Beach, Maine. . . we spent 
many a Summer's day here between 1965-1977 when we lived
in New Hampshire and Massachusetts, and always love
to come back.

Wild white roses at the beach.

Tomorrow we plan more New England travel. . . heading inland 
from the Maine coast to New Hampshire's White Mountains, 
then on into Vermont.

Monday, August 25, 2014

New Hampshire Summers . . . . . . .

I'd almost forgotten how perfect the late Summer days can be
 'up North'. Yesterday we took a drive through New Hampshire 
back roads, stopping at a couple of small country towns, 
once for a coffee, and then to buy yarn from a truly
old-fashioned yarn shop. I thought of how some of my 
blog friends who knit, crochet etc., - including 
Claudia in NY, Tammy far away in Kuwait - would 
have enjoyed being there with me.
It was the most amazing selection of yarns I've ever seen. 
Yes, I did buy some French yarn to knit a scarf while 
TV watching come Winter. Nothing complicated as were 
some of the knitted beauties on display in the shop, 
because I don't need complications at this time of life.

Domed building is the State House in New Hampshire's 
capital city of Concord.

The red house and barns were a gracious complex of 
buildings, and FOR SALE, set back from a country road rolling 
through the small town of Weare. I can imagine it soon 
dressed in even more color as Autumn foliage appears.
I'd enjoy living there, just far enough removed from the 
madding crowd such as we now have in greater Raleigh, which 
by the way, welcomed its one millionth resident last Friday!
I lived up here in New England for 12 years - I think I 
could return quite easily.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

This precious life . . . . . . . .

I will be away for a little while.
The loss of my dear mother-in-law requires a trip north 
to New Hampshire for her burial. We'll then take 
some time to visit with our family, followed by a few 
days touring around much-loved New England places, 
especially those holding fond memories for us from 
the years when we lived there. 

Bob and I thank all of you who have been so kind leaving
loving and meaningful condolences at this sad time.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Rest in peace…………………

We have lost a lovely and loved woman.
My mother-in-law, after ninety six years of sharing her 
kindness and great love, has gone home to be with her 
many family members and dearly loved friends who left this 
earth in years gone by.
It hurts so much to lose a person who was good and gracious,
gentle, yet strong when necessary. Her infectious smile and 
natural beauty enveloped us all for a very long time, and 
for that we are so grateful. 

Bertha Lucille (Messier) Sullivan
Manchester, New Hampshire
June 16,1918 - August 20,2014

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Books in Denmark. . . . . . . .

Last year I found intricately folded books tucked into displays in several antiques shops 
around North Carolina. I took some time to look at how they were fashioned, photographed 
some, then came home and made a couple of my own.  It was fun and not too difficult, 
click HERE for directions - I used inexpensive vintage hardcover books from the used 
book store.

Above is a very simple folding job - my first ever and something even 
children might enjoy creating.

The reason for another post on folding are the following books. In June, I found 
these amazing creations displayed in the window of a small gallery in a 
Copenhagen, Denmark side street as we were strolling off the main 
thoroughfares during our day in the lovely city.

I think you will agree that this artist has brought paper folding to another 
level with these folded books - I think they are truly awesome.

The one above is my personal favorite and I think I will have to try 
my hand at creating something similar.

I photographed these through the window. I like the idea of framing folded books 
and hanging them on the wall for a three dimensional piece of art.

My folded books and vintage books. 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Farewell to figs………………

Over the weekend the figs seemed to vanish into thin air. The plump ones left on the 
trees Saturday - because I just couldn't handle any more in my kitchen - were devoured 
by birds, especially robins, and the occasional squirrel. Fruits pecked open and 
savored allowed the bees to buzz in. . . . so I stayed away.

It has been a great crop this year and I have made good use of the figs. . . . . come 
on over if you want a jar of yummy jam, I have plenty, fig and lemon, fig and ginger.
Need to do some gentle pruning soon as both trees are so big now. . . . . have some 
friends who would like a fig tree of their own so I may try propagating a few to share.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Creating serenity . . . . . . . .

I haven't done anything creative around the cottage all Summer,
so yesterday I just had to change a few things around or go crazy 
staring at the same old same old for one more hot and muggy day!

I picked the dining room which is to the left as soon as you enter the 
front door so I try to keep it tidy. I no longer use the table as my 'office'.  
When Bob retired we were able to make his upstairs office (formerly a bedroom)
 into an office for the two of us. . . . . yes, the stairs provide exercise!

I decided to cover the farm table in my heavy vintage French linen tablecloth - a great 
find in a quaint little antiques shop in Carcassonne, France - and layered a French 
linen bolster cover across the center under the dough bowl, also French.
I moved the large grey metal baskets, great find at SuzAnna's Antiques, from the top 
of the dresser to the table and tweaked a few items on the dresser shelves.
In the corner you can see my 'cabinet of curiosities', moved from the living room.
 Inside, who knows what you may discover . . . . right now a birds' nest, butterflies, 
this and that from the natural world. On top I placed a bowl made from resin starfish, 
holding my collection of white china vegetables!
No drastic changes but I'm pleased with how cool and serene the room looks 
on these very hot August days.

Do you find yourself just enjoying your rooms as they are for Summer, but when 
you feel Autumn in the air your creative energy returns and you want to 
make changes?

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Sunflower Saturday. . . . . . . .

In the quiet, early hours of Saturday morning. . . . . 

. . . . . a lone sunflower remains in the front garden, its face 
turned toward the east as the sun rises and another beautiful 
late Summer day begins.
Happy weekend.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

My Summer reads ~~~~~~

What are you reading?

I'm half way through an incredible book - definitely not pretty - in fact a very painful story to read.

behind the beautiful forevers
by Pulitzer Prize winner Katherine Boo

If you've traveled to India, especially Mumbai,
you will want to read this story. 
Although I did see some disturbing sights around the city,
this book opened my eyes to what I didn't see when visiting 
there a couple of years ago.

"This book is both a tour de force of social justice, 
reportage and a literary masterpiece."
_____Judges Citation for the PEN/John Kenneth Galbraith Award

"Reported like Watergate, written like Great Expectations, 
and handily the best international nonfiction in years."

"There are books that change the way you feel and see: 
this is one of them."
______Adrian Nicole Leblanc

"Pure, astonishing reportage. . .
an unforgettable TRUE story, meticulously researched 
with unblinking honesty."
______The Christian Science Monitor

"Extraordinary. . .moving. . .Like the best journeys, Boo's
book cracks open our preconceptions and constructs an
abiding bridge - at once daunting and inspiring - to a world we 
would never otherwise recognize as our own." 
______National Geographic Traveler

If you would like to have this book, leave me a comment in this post only.  I'll draw 
a winner next weekend then mail it to you as soon as I've finished reading it.


Do you read short stories?

I like to keep this type of book nearby when traveling-----here, there, everywhere; but specifically for times when waiting for appointments, flight departures, a coffee break alone with nobody to chat with. . .moments in time that needn't be wasted by just waiting for something.

My current book of short stories is extraordinary and by a wonderful writer.

Brief Encounters with Che Guevara
by Ben Fountain

I was directed to this book when in Mr. B's Bookshop 
in Bath, England. Knowing nothing about this Dallas
author - acclaimed and awarded for his first novel, 
Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk (which I've yet to read)-
I took a chance and purchased it.
These are amazing short stories.

"Exceptional. . .Each of these eight stories is as rich 
as a novel. . .heartbreaking." 


Waiting to be enjoyed again - 

- one of those all time favorites we each have - and I'm anxious to pick up my copy for what has to be the fourth time. Of course I've watched the incredible movie even more times. 

Out of Africa
by Isak Dinesen

My old, much-loved copy was printed in 1965. It's a bit 
dog-eared and stained inside from a folded 1992 
newspaper article. It details Karen Blixen's
(she wrote under the pen name Isak Dinesen)final refuge 
in her childhood home in Rungstedlund in the northern 
suburbs of Copenhagen, Denmark. 
She lived there the last 31 years of her life - it's 
where she wrote this book about her heartbreaking years on 
her coffee farm in Kenya.
If only I'd had time I would have visited Rungstedland, 
now a museum, in June when in Copenhagen.
Meanwhile, a journey in the not too distant future has once 
again put this wonderful story on my book list.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Still picking the sweetest figs………….

They just keep growing, plumping up and getting 
sweeter……hubby just keeps picking, trying to beat 
the feasting birds, despite his arms getting covered 
in mosquito bites, poor guy. 
Whereas, yours truly is still running a jam factory in
the kitchen, baking all things figgy, and now leaving 
bags of fresh picked figs on the front porch for neighbors 
to collect! 

Yes, still on the galette kick. I love making these 
rustic fruit tarts. 
I even saw recipe for a tomato galette which set me 
thinking - I might try that with a a mix of heirloom 
tomatoes for supper one evening.

Anyway, I enjoyed making this one with fresh picked figs 
last weekend - and Bob, who picks them but rarely eats 
them, actually said he loved this 'figgy tart'.

Rustic fresh fig galette

Monday, August 11, 2014

A day in Kristiansand, Norway……..

"God Dag" from Norway.
It was a beautiful, warm sunny day when the ship docked in southern Norway.
The 'capital' of this area is Kristiansand, a pleasant town of 70,000, making it 
the fifth largest town in Norway, and situated at the mouth of the River Otra.
Kristiansand is a thriving port and tourism is expanding as the city has become
a popular Summer resort.

Exploring on foot was easy as distances were not great.
Walking from the dock we passed the colorful fish market, 
shops and restaurants.

The waterside was lively, boating obviously very popular and we were told most 
citizens owned a boat of some type.

Beautiful swan families along the riverbanks………..

Charming architecture and local ladies……….. 

….and this surprise, a McDonald's in an elegant historic building. 
That's definitely taking fast food to another level!

The time here went by much too fast and soon it was time to return to the ship for 
our sail back to home port, Southampton.
Queen Victoria set a south westerly course passing over 'Jutland Bank', famous
from the naval battle of WWII. Later that evening, after transiting the North Sea, 
she joined south west bound traffic lanes to once more pass through the 
Dover Straits in the late evening, en route for an early morning arrival in England.

Crossing the North Sea.

Hard to get back to real life after two weeks of being spoiled, and visiting 
many beautiful places in and around the Baltic. However, with some time ahead 
in my real home, England, before heading back to the States, I was ready to disembark 
and sally forth knowing there were family and friends to see, and new places to visit.

So, next travel story will be about time spent in Bath - hope you will come 
back to share the wonderful visit to an amazing historic city.