Posts Tagged 'city life'

May Days

trailingvinesThe days are filled with flowers. This whole week has also been rainy, so I pause to marvel at a new bloom, a new bud forming, and rain drips down my raincoat’s hood, and slowly runs down the bridge of my nose. I’m loading photos onto my flickr feed as fast as I can. The colors are fabulous.

We’ve seen the first stirrings of the fig tree closest to the house coming back. Leaves have unfurled like tightly wrapped green fans, and I think I’ve seen some of the breve’ figs. The Gardener has been fighting a fight to the death with old tree roots, trying to get a patch set up for new raspberry bushes (a more intricate endeavor than I knew, with lots of space needed between the canes… and no idea if that means between the roots as well).

Also with spring comes: Mother’s Day and the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival. It’s always either raining, or blistering hot, with lots of hours spent hiking about looking at the alpacas in pens, sheep shearing, and sheep on parade.

In the merry month of May, the Midatlantic region gets ready for Preakness . Preakness is always an exciting time, with tours of the stables at sunrise, and the unveiling of the Mayor’s hat (there is a female mayor in Baltimore right now…. I’m not sure a man’s tophat would be all that interesting). The stars, of course, are the jockeys and horses that come to Pimlico to race, and it get very exciting. [It also gets very tempting to go to the free sunrise tours, to see what the track looks like.]

The bird watching has been marvelous: titmice, mockingbirds, blue jays, red tail hawks, a brown creeper, and maybe a wood thrush. We’re ignoring the cardinals and robins that never seemed to leave. (I’m also ignoring politics right now. Focusing on birdsong, flowers, and a weekend that’s packed with too many things. MD Sheep & Wool is always a grand time, by the way. But I’m double-triple-booked.)


I have postcards all around my office. Some of them are antique, framed ones, showing photos of places that were near a camp I used to be a counselor at. Others are of bookish things from the British Isles. Still others are art postcards, bought when a local artist’s work delighted me, or a museum had a postcard of a particularly meaningful painting. I’m in the process of making more room in my office, and find that I’ll need to have a postcard framing and hanging afternoon, hopefully when it’s icky outside.

Artists whose postcards I’ve collected:

Martha Dougherty is a contemporary artist who does lovely watercolors set in Baltimore, Maryland — both interior views and external street scenes. Truly lovely. Here’s another one [Madison at Charles Street]. In some of the saturated street scenes, she’s the artist whose work is the closest reflections of the way I see color in landscapes. Very interesting. Linda Hall is another contemporary artist who does watercolors in Chestertown, Maryland.

So, have you collected postcards? If so, are they just mementos of places you’ve been, scenery you love, mail you received from loved ones, or affordable art?




Our attic is like many others after winter: dusty, filled with any number of weird things, and incredibly chaotic. While in the process of straightening things up, I stumbled over:

  • Textbooks (honestly, the philosophy books and Fowlers book on literary crit can go)
  • Children’s books (I’ve tagged most of these for the Little Free Library down the block)
  • Art books (I’m sending several out as surprises, to people I think will like them)

Books I’m sending to the secondhand bookshop include books that scared me witless in 6th grade, and The Endless Steppe, which some child might find interesting, etc.

And then I stumbled over the doll clothing. Most of the doll clothes were all lovely little things that my mother had. Petticoats, pantaloons, dressing gowns, dresses, pantsuits for boy dolls, little flower girl dresses, dresses from Gone with the Wind. Tightly crocheted little caps. And I wonder, eyeing the boxes in the attic: where are the dolls that would have worn them? And will it be a nice or startling surprise.

Birds on film

Unfortunately, this doesn’t reflect what I’ve been able to catch with my camera. But the DC Eagle Cam is up, and it sounds like at least one chick is showing signs it wants to leave the egg.

The infrared camera captures all nighttime activities. Photo: Sue Greeley.

Photo from the Washington, DC Bald Eagle web cam (not my property – see attribution below)

© 2016 American Eagle Foundation, EAGLES.ORG

Click here to go to the Eagle Cam with live bald eagles in Washington DC: eaglecam. It’s the closest humans are going to get while they are in their aerie. Me, I’m a little bit obsessed, after seeing one of the nesting eagles last year flying in the vicinity of the National Arboretum. Meanwhile, after typing the word “eagle” many times, I’m plagued with self-doubt about the spelling.



March comes in like a kitten

… a #kitten whose every waking moment is filled with a search for the best toy/object to bite/inappropriate place to climb ever.


I receive “help” as I put away some candles.

I think you can sum up the mood of the humans in the house as: “exhausted, amused, and semi-bitten”. She zooms from sleep, to waking, to frightened of snow shovels with snow on them, to biting the older cats. All of which explains lack of knitting content, lack of reading content, languishing blog, etc. Pretty much it’s all kitten time, except when she’s sleeping on our feet.

Caroling, caroling

‘Tis the season, even if the weather argues that it’s almost time for Spring Break.

We’re having a heatwave (it’s likely to hit 70 degrees F [24 degrees C] on Christmas Day, so it’s time to find clothing that suits the weather while also suiting the season.  At least I like the color red, so I have a festive light blouse to wear caroling, as well as a cotton Christmas sweater. Not sure if people outside the States have these (sort of legendary these days, with whole sites dedicated to showing the worst examples). I kind of like mine, and I’m pleased that it is warm enough for me to wear it.

To get in the spirit, I’ve been listening to music from Natalie Cole’s Holly and Ivy album. Here’s one that relates to the title of this post (link here). And I’ve also decided to stop baking cookies — it’s too hot in the kitchen. One set of cookies and fruitcake is enough…

So, are you looking forward to a brown, rainy Christmas like those of us on the east coast? Or are you already buried in snow? Or planning a sunny beachside celebration while roasting things on the barbeque?

And, Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year!

Getting ready for the season

There are 2 concerts this weekend (tuxedo and formal shirt is over at the cleaner’s). I’ve got the ingredients for Moravian Christmas cookies on the kitchen counter and refrigerator (still not sure if I will just punt to the easier gingerbread). There are a lot of store bought kinds of “Moravian cookies” you can get from high-end stores. No, I’m not sure I get that. It’s an old recipe, and it makes about a gazillion.  If you get the ones from Winston Salem, stick to the ginger spice ones — that’s the closest to what the family recipe is. Sort of.

I was clever this time, and bought the molasses at the grocery during Thanksgiving shopping, when no one is thinking about it for their pantries (it’s gone today), and I think I picked up the last dark brown sugar the store has.

I’m fairly sure the store will stock shelves again.

But, I can’t be sure.

It took them since Thanksgiving to get unsalted butter back in the case.

There’s the normal mad crush of work prior to the Christmas week, when lots of people take off for the holidays. And I’m not sure when I’ll find time to actually Christmas shop. But… I have a stockpile of projects that I did earlier in the year for specific people. Hopefully on Saturday the weather will stay fine so I can have a blocking party prior to the concert.

So, I assume everyone else has their list sorted, and is settled in to the cozy part of things. If you’re not, and you’re like me… hail friend well met! This is the first year in years that I’ll have kitten help with giftwrapping. 🙂

Giving thanks

It’s been a very long weekend (family visits, inflatable mattress in the office, lots of baking, to-and-fro-ing). Over the river and through the woods, only now my Aunt is the grandmother in the song.

Our house is still cleaner than it was 2 weeks ago, and we’ve swapped out the multicolored ears of corn on the doorway for a giant Christmas wreath. And before I get swept up in a search for the Christmas ornaments, and a good location for the tree … I’m going to spend the last few waking ours of this weekend being thankful.

The in laws came, so we terrorized the kitten with the inflatable mattress in the office, and it’s been a whirlwind of preparing dishes for one potluck dinner after another. The last dinner was with my family, accompanied by some pretty heavy discussions of the kinds that families have.

I’m thankful I live near enough to visit family and friends. I’m thankful the kitten didn’t manage to bite my father-in-law. Very grateful that I wasn’t responsible for either of the Thanksgiving feasts.

I’m thankful that I live in a mostly peaceful area, where things aren’t perfect, but people are trying to make things better.

Foods we baked this weekend:

  • Dates stuffed with manchego cheese and wrapped with bacon (on a friend’s bar-b-que)
  • Spoonbread (Fannie Farmer’s recipe –> and oldie, but a goodie)

If you’re in a region that celebrated Thanksgiving, hope it was wonderful. If you aren’t, I hope you were able to have a peaceful time.

Ain’t that America

…or at least our little slice of it:

Going to a friend’s house, for too much salad & side dishes, beer (if you want it), soda (if you want it), pit beef or roast pork loin from the grill. People brought casseroles, grilled tomatoes, watermelon, cherry pie. And then when it grew dark, we squished over to the local park through the leftover puddles from the morning rain, and watched fireworks to celebrate Independence Day. And above the trees, we could see other towns’ fireworks going off.

We spent the short drive home reminiscing about other 4th of July celebrations, and when we used to be able to get up on a hill and see the fireworks coming up from the valleys below us. We live someplace else now, but Independence Day celebrations tend to be very similar from town to town or state to state.

I hope yours was splendid. Unless you’re waiting to celebrate a holiday in another country (according to the Internet, Venezuela has their Independence Day on the 5th and Argentina’s in on the 9th). And there’s a Belgian National day sometime late in July.

Cat rodeo

Poor Malkin. Below is from the days of leisure, when he was able to fend off the other cat for hours of time on the sun porch. Now, he’s the innocent bystander/hapless pony (or gazelle) being ridden by the kitten/cowboy/small tiger. It’s most undignified for a 14 year old cat.

His Most Serene Fluffybutt enjoying the sun porch

His Most Serene Fluffybutt enjoying the sun porch

Meanwhile, Leia is having none of it (she wasn’t named after a princess for nothing).


As for us, we’re protecting cheese sandwiches as best we can, intervening between cat and kitten when we must, and considering a run to the store for more bactine. We keep reminding ourselves that for Malkin, this is a little bit of payback after he tortured the older cat when he was introduced 14 years ago (when the elder one was in an Elizabethan collar after a procedure). So, has anyone had great success introducing a new blissful bundle of tooth and claw into your house?

Have you noticed that the older cat that’s getting the worst of it will go out and seek his small oppressor when he feels a little dull?