I don’t know how many times I read Catcher in the Rye when I was younger. Or how many four leaf clovers I’ve found. But the answer to both would be “a lot.”

I remember what I wore to school on the first day of 4th grade (white tube socks with red stripes, cut off baby blue Levis cords shorts, a red and white striped t-shirt, and blue converse low-top look-alikes) and I remember when I did the hula for Jim Bonifay in the talent show. I can’t recall what my homeroom teacher’s name was in junior high or why I ever quit hanging out with Ann. But I do remember the first time I smoked pot and learning how to dive from a stranger at the apartment complex pool.

I can’t remember if it was the boy in the hospital or the boy on the train who kissed me first. But I remember both those kisses.

I never could understand why boys could fool around with as many girls as they wanted and maintain a cool and stellar reputation, but if girls acted the same, they were slutty whores. I know that I didn’t give a rats ass what anybody thought.

There are times I wish I could be like that guy who was preaching Jesus in the McDonald’s when I was on my way to work. He was preaching past me, to the couple on my other side. They were being polite but clearly didn’t want to hear what he had to say. And neither did I, so I told him to shut the hell up. Then he got mad and started fussing at me, but I didn’t give a damn. Nobody wants to be bombarded by that evangelical bullshit. But that guy – that guy believed so fervently that he was chosen, that he was right, he never even considered anyone else in the room. Until me, anyway. Then he forgot his prophecy of love and forgiveness and damned me straight to Hell. How empowering it must be to have that kind of faith in a metaphor.

I’ve always been keenly aware of imbalance and unfairness. Sometimes this drives me to argue, sometimes this drives me to a dark corner of my room. Sometimes, I pour myself a drink. I don’t suffer fools gladly. And I know there’s no “get out of jail free” card.


amaros

Amaro. Perfect for those bittersweet moments in life.

Listen

 

lead kindly light

I began on the crisis/suicide prevention line as a volunteer but, as a result of a profound epiphany, my dedication soon turned into a full-time paying job. I managed the crisis line, training volunteers in active listening and ensuring that boundaries were kept in place. The volunteers and I spent countless hours on the phone, at all times of day and night, listening to strangers recount their days and share their grief, sadness, and desperation. We listened, heard their stories, and validated their struggles. Not every caller was suicidal. In fact, most of them were not. But for those that were, we reflected the glimmer of hope they had exposed by reaching out, and did our best to get them through the abyss. For the many more callers who were not ready for finality but felt lost in the dark, we provided enough reflection so they could find their way through to another day.

My days of crisis work slowed as my family grew. As my days became less entwined with human frailty, I developed other passions. I had perfected my pie dough many years prior, and found myself with more time to experiment with recipes and flavors. I had always wanted to learn to quilt but didn’t even know how to sew. After the birth of my first son, my husband gifted me a sewing machine, I took a class, and have been creating and designing quilts ever since. I’ve learned how to forge steel, weave linen, create shrubs, sell vintage wares, and have thorough knowledge of a whole catalog of acronyms related to digital marketing. And plans for learning much much more. Some skills and knowledge become a part of who I am, others slip away.

pie

The acts of learning and labor I connect with the most are those that can, for even just a brief moment, provide some sort of comfort to another. Homemade pie for women in a domestic violence shelter providing a welcome moment of respite; quilts donated to a worthy cause or given to a newborn child of a friend; even cocktails shared with a neighbor, forgetting our troubles for an hour or two, provide benefit to us both.

loveglasses

Comfort comes in all forms. A slice of pie or a cocktail, a handmade quilt, or an anonymous listener on the end of the phone – all can provide that same profound epiphany I experienced many years ago. The realization that what we all crave, what is ultimately the best thing we can do for one another, is often the simplest to provide. Just a bit of light in the darkness, a bit of warmth in the cold.*

*inspired by Father John Misty

 

Summer

Long evenings of dappled light
Cicadas
Watermelon with a touch of salt
Lightning Bugs
Bare feet
Weathered quilts, worn to a softness that only time and usefulness provide
Thunderstorms
Evening cocktails
Tobacco fields
Bluebirds
Secrets
Baseball
Peach juice running down your chin
Ocean waves
Linen
Birthdays
A cacophony of frogs
Honeysuckle
Wishes
Sun-kissed skin
Summer.


I’ve already discussed one of my Summertime favorites at the end of this post , bourbon slush. And it’s become quite clear to me that I drink an ample amount of gin during the hotter months. With that in mind, I share with you a super simple drink, a Gin Elderflower Cocktail:

elderflower

First and foremost, the specific ingredients are key. A London dry gin to start – I often purchase Broker’s as the price is excellent and the flavor is great. Very dry, works in most any gin cocktail. And, well, the bowler hat they cap it with is pretty excellent kitsch.

The Belvoir Elderflower cordial is another must-have. It’s getting harder and harder to find locally, although you can find it on Amazon if nowhere else. They also have some nice lemonades and sparkling waters that make great mixers. I’ve even seen a few in the local Target on occasion.

And lastly, I can’t say it enough, so I’ll say it again – use a good quality tonic. Sure, I use whatever the grocery store has available in a pinch, but I have really found a great difference in the flavor and enjoyment of my cocktails when using what I consider, a “cleaner” tonic. Q tonic is sweetened with organic agave and uses natural quinine; Fever-Tree is sweetened with cane sugar, also using natural quinine. I guarantee if you line either one of these up against your high fructose corn syrup brands, you will notice a difference.

So, now that you have my two cents on the ingredients, the cocktail itself comes together quite easily…..

  • healthy shot of London dry gin
  • about 1-1.5oz of Belvoir Elderflower Cordial
  • 2-3 cubes of ice, topped with tonic

And that’s it. Sip while thinking about the long hot Summer ahead….

Collecting

I’m attracted to the object but drawn to the hunt. The search for treasure. The quest to discover the forgotten or see the unseen. Alas, I also find myself saddled with a great affection for, and tendency to personify, inanimate objects. As in, I might be wandering an antique or thrift store and come upon a small wooden goat, just sitting on the shelf, all alone. And the next thing you know, I have great empathy for the loneliness of said goat and I purchase it with my quarter and take it home and place him in a spot of prominence in my house, where he is adored daily and, I come to believe, is much happier.

goat

I collect a lot of handmade items. Embroidered textiles, quilts, table linens, pottery, and quirky handmade art, purchased from flea markets and thrift stores. A lot of my reasoning for procuring these items is not based on “sound” mind, but more from “feeling.” I find myself considering the maker and the time and care they took to create the item. I consider the delicate stitches and am struck by the patience they required. Or I notice the hurried and uneven stitches, demonstrating a drive for completion versus a desire of perfection; both create beauty in the end. I think about the individual making the item and wonder why there are no loved ones holding on to this bit of history, no family to admire this connection to their past. This makes me thoughtful and a bit sad, often driving me into my own almost-empty pocket to purchase the object and call it my own.

quilt

My consideration of the object is equal to my consideration for the creator. I honor those who came before me, whomever they were or still are. The residual energy that was once in their hands now lies in my own, evidenced by their creation being recognized, appreciated, and welcomed. If I am able to purchase the item or am only able to honor their energy for a fleeting moment, I am grateful to fill this role.

windups_blog

I have been an avid collector of one thing or another for most of my life. Yet, with every filled space there must be an equal empty space. Somewhere. There must be balance. Even I reach limits with my madness, particularly with items that are not handmade and/or take up a lot of visual space. I’m a skilled purger of “stuff.” The Fiestaware dishes I had amassed became a monkey on my back and I rid myself of all of them. I’ve downsized my collection of wind-up toys (shown above, prior to downsizing) to only ones holding sentimental value. And I don’t seek out Peter Max items anymore, although I have yet to be convinced to rid myself of what I own. Oh, and that goat ^^up there^^? Come to find out, he was created by a Swedish designer by the name of Gunnar Ander. I sold him to a collector. He was actually kind of hard to let go, but I knew he would be properly admired, so we parted ways.

bourbons

All in all,  I’m much more discerning these days, only picking up items I simply can’t resist, for one reason or another. My book collection grows and grows, shrinks a little, and then returns again. That’s about the only thing I collect wherein I find I have too much and then, suddenly, not enough. Well. Books and booze. Liquor takes me in an opposite direction on the creation timeline, though. Instead of honoring the past while appreciating an object made long ago, I look towards the future and consider all the possibilities, all the concoctions I could create. Because, really, there’s not much more satisfying than an evening spent browsing through books on your own living room floor, with a freshly made cocktail in your hand.

Or maybe that’s just me.

 

 

Secrets

I had been visiting the shop since I was a teenager, a result of hanging out with my then boyfriend who liked to paw his way through all the used record bins, looking for classic rock, independent label punk, and oddball novelties. While he remained steadfastly focused on the myriad of album cover art and liner notes, my attention drifted to the books and the shop’s internal landscape.

Upon entering the store, there was a noticeable, distinct energy. The casual gruffness of the all male employees, the ever-so-slight musty smell of the used books and records, combined with the patchwork of flyers, photos, notes, and random bits of paper found taped to every available surface created a surprising sense of coziness one wouldn’t expect while standing on a linoleum floor beneath fluorescent lights. The ends of bookcases, the sides of record bins, the space between the top row of books and the ceiling, the side of the cash register, the glass of the door- any place where your eye might roam, your gaze would land upon a found secret note, a photograph, or newspaper article, long ago forgotten and rediscovered, stashed in a book. One could spend hours reading in the store, never opening a book, but feasting on the ephemera before them. For a girl who reveled in the smallest detail and was fascinated by secret intimate knowledge, I left the record buying to my boyfriend and simply wandered the aisles in awe.

noteinabook

Many years passed and, as luck would have it, I found myself actually being paid to spend my days in the land of dog eared pages and cracked leather bindings. I learned about the various types of paper on which the words are printed, the distinct style of individual book cover designers, the information contained on the copyright page, and how a book can be aged based on the quality of the linen, leather, or paper covering its boards. I learned that a dust jacket is a valuable asset. I learned about publishers, secret indentations, and the value or non-value of an ex-library book. And I learned that almost every person who walked through the door, looking to trade or sell their books, thought their heavy cardboard box contained some real gems. Only on rare occasions was this actually true. But we welcomed their box and looked and sorted through it all, brushing the mouse droppings aside, blowing away the dust bunnies, and wiping off a variety of sticky substances from who knows what. They brought us their books and presented their stories. We listened and acknowledged their feelings of sorrow, loss, sometimes even desperation. Occasionally, they left with a bit of cash in their pocket. But always, whether or not we took any of their books, they left feeling a bit lighter, their load a bit less heavy.

lecarre list

To this day, I love finding a note stuck in a book. Or an inscription containing wit and humor, only intended for the book’s owner. I once purchased a copy of Letters from the Earth by Mark Twain. It wasn’t a first, but an early edition with a dust jacket. The cost was negligible, I assumed due to a scrawling inscription that covered both the front and back end papers. I took the book home and stuck it on a shelf. It was probably six months or so before I took the book down, opened it and actually read the inscription.

pageone_blogpagetwo_blogpagethree_blogpagefour_blog

The inscription was written by Nina Clemens, Mark Twain’s granddaughter.


dunvilles

I still revel in small details and intimate knowledge, especially when discovered unexpectedly. I picked this single malt Irish up in Connecticut and now its mysteries are hidden in plain sight, right upon my home bar. All you need do is simply take a sip.

Sol

She’s so hot.

fireball

A fireball, waiting to warm your belly.

Her radiant madness setting your heart on fire.

Stand too near, too long, and her aura burns right through you.

beachsun

She gives all she has to give, tirelessly.

She is there for you, almost every day.

Yet…she can be elusive.

suninthewoods

Some avoid her strength, intimidated by her confidence, and seek the darkness of shadows.

anotherbeachsun

I choose to bask in her warmth whenever she lets me, wherever I might be.

I find her irresistible.

skyfire

She has the power to destroy us all.

And she will. One day.


I love the Sun. Year after year, I eagerly await the time to slip out of the every day, slip out of the chores of adulthood, slip out of any preconceived notion of what I should or should not be doing. I eagerly await the time I can slip out and slip into the sun.

suninmyface


My first love is whiskey, yet I find myself drinking my share of gin as the days get longer and hotter. Occasionally, I find the perfect shrub to compliment bourbon and I get a thrill of drinking my cherished amber elixir with a fresh fruity shrub.

apricot

Here we have:

  • 2 oz. bourbon
  • 1.5 oz. of apricot shrub
  • 3-4 dashes of Smoke & Salt Crude Bitters

Add 2 cubes of ice, topped off with club soda. Lucious.

Boots

When I was a young girl, I found myself burdened with a desire like no other. It outweighed most everything and laid heavy on my mind. I was determinedly convinced that obtaining my desire would make my world complete and provide me with some sort of unspoken power. I innately knew this to be true, long before ever having an inkling of what that power actually was.

About once a year, my folks, with my sisters and I piled into the Gran Torino station wagon, would set off in the middle of the night and head to Tennessee to visit my grandparents. I was usually nestled in the way-back, having made a cozy bed in the center of all the suitcases, creating my own private hideaway. The sun would begin to rise about the time we crossed the state line, rousing us from our sleepy slumber. As we made our way to Clarksville, I would spend most of the time gazing at the landscape as it flew by the car window, thinking about why the ground moved so quickly while the treetops took so much longer to leave my point of vision. Or watch and wonder as rain drops traveled up the window instead of down. Or ponder a fly trapped in the car, questioning his speed in the air, in the car, versus outside, and how confusing it must be for him when he did finally escape in a completely different state.

Most of the time in the car, my mind was occupied. Yet, somewhere along our route we would pass a Boot Outlet. And on every trip, my thoughts would then turn to cowboy boots and I would eagerly ask if we could stop. I was told “Next time” or “Not now.” Man, I wanted a pair of cowboy boots more than anything. Not any ol’ pair of boots, but COWBOY boots they had to be. I was only 10, maybe 11 at the time, but I knew. I knew there was some magic that came with wearing those boots. I wanted to be privy to it.

I kept asking and finally got a pair of cowboy boots when I was 13 years old. With those boots came the magical feeling that I could do just about anything. Whenever I wore them, there would be no hiding, there would be no fear, there would be no kissing ass, only the kicking of it. I had tapped into the unspoken power. I was proud to be who I was. And who I was was a girl who wore cowboy boots.

I’ve owned at least one pair, if not more, at any given time since then. Dingo, Justin, Nocona, Lucchese, Old Gringo, and others I’ve surely forgotten, have all stood or still stand on my floor today. Every pair I’ve ever owned has provided me with that same sense of indomitability, that same sense of “I got this.” For me, a girl of 13 or a woman of 50, I can think of no other singular item that provides such a sense of strength and confidence, such transformational magic, as a good pair of cowboy boots.

boots

Well. Maybe lipstick. But definitely cowboy boots.