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Rainin… Rainin.

Ok, maybe not NEVER… but can you give us just a few days of sun? Please, pretty please?

Is it annoying to complain about the weather? I know, last year I complained about the heat…

Perhaps it isn’t annoying but rather pointless? I mean, what can we actually do about it? Absolutely nothing. Which is why it’s so annoying!

Oh well, today I don’t care. It started raining Friday night, and hasn’t really stopped precipitating some sort of liquid. We’ve seen everything from torrential downpours to thick mist. I really. Am. Tired. Of the rain. The gloom. The cold, enveloping watery veil that seeps into every pore. Yuck.

It’s May, for f.’s sake! Where are my May flowers? Soaked in a puddle, that’s where—all my newly planted daisies and snapdragons are droopy and saturated saying “Enough! Show us some sun!”

I feel squidgy and sowish from not walking to work as I usually do. It’s weird to not walk my 4 miles round trip nearly every day. Walk in the rain!? No way. I’d get to work looking, and probably smelling, like a wet dog. The buses are full and soppy. All the people in there together, we look sad and smushed like marinating sardines. Lots of frowny-faces and frizzy hair.

And speaking of wet dogs, even Gordon doesn’t want to go outside. I tried to take him out last night before bed. It was pouring but he HAD to go out! He got to the top of the stoop and looked at me like “Are you f.ing kidding me?” and walked back to the door. I had to drag him by his collar down the stairs where he promptly peed and hurried back inside. Poor guy. Hasn’t had a decent walk in three days which means he’s extra ornery. I’m not joking, he actually gnawed open a carton of chicken stock, spilled it all over the floor, and lapped up whatever came out. We found the empty carton on the floor with tooth marks in it. Darn dog. He needs a good 10-mile run as much as we do.

Oooh poor us. Pity pity pity party. Boo hoo hoo. I know I sound like a whiny baby. I’m TRYING to find the good in this, I am.

For instance, everything now is so green. And so many shades of green I can’t even count them. It is beautiful. Also, the hot water bottle is perfect for rainy nights, and I do love using my hot water bottle. Hmm… what else. I do like the sound the rain makes when it hits the windows. It’s calming and nice. I haven’t had to water the plants outside, and I know when it DOES get sunny, they’ll do so well. AND, the lettuce I planted outside loves the cool and rain. We’ll have a nice harvest of greens this weekend. OHKAY… there are a few good things about the rain. I’m not so sad or jaded, just looking forward to some sun.

And, hey. I did make quite a fine soup yesterday for dinner—a hot cuppa soup IS the best remedy for a chilly day.

Here’s the recipe—I made it up as I went, but it was so easy. I call it:

Easy Veggie Soup with Pasta (deep. really creative.)

2 T olive oil
2 cups of grape tomatoes, halved
1 t minced garlic
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup frozen corn (you could use fresh veggies – I just didn’t have anything but carrots)
1 cup diced carrots (really any veggies you like, up to 3 cups)
1 carton or large can of veggie, chicken, or beef stock
1 small can of tomato sauce (not pasta sauce, plain tomato sauce – Hunts makes a good one)
1.5 to 2 cups water
salt, pepper, spices to taste (I used rosemary)
any pasta you like, boiled to al dente **tip! keep .5 cup of the pasta water after it has boiled and stir it into the soup – gives a rich taste to it!

Pour the olive oil into a large pot. Heat the oil and add the tomatoes and the garlic. Let them get mushy in there, about 5 minutes. Turn down the heat if the garlic gets too brown. Add the veggies and saute them until warm. Add the tomato sauce, the stock, and the water. Let simmer until the veggies are well cooked. Salt, pepper, and spice to taste. Cook your pasta, strain. Add .5 cup of the pasta water to the soup and let simmer a few more minutes. Put a few pastas in a dish and pour the soup over. Eat and be warm.

That’s it. Easy as soup.

If it’s raining where you are, I hope you stay very dry and that the sun comes out soon. If it doesn’t look like it’s going to clear up, I suppose you can hunker down, make some soup, and listen to the rain with a good book and a warm blanket.

If it’s sunny where you are, please send some our way!

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I went home this weekend, to to be with my family and to see friends. I needed a mini-break, as they say in England. A small vay-cay. Some R&R.

I traveled home to remember what wide-open spaces look like when you’re driving on a lonely highway and you can see that point way out in the distance where the earth meets the sky.

And to remember what the cool, clear, fresh air smells like, almost minty and piny and cold in your lungs, but then warm. Spring in Wyoming means five different weather patterns in four hours—pouring rain, gale-force winds, blizzard snow (it didn’t stick, but it came down with a fury), beaming sun, and sad grumpy drear.

It felt good to be there, surrounded by things I know, people I love, small moments here and there that reminded me where I came from and why I am who I am.

I am eternally grateful, and immensely blessed.

But on my way back, I caught myself saying I was going home. “Oh, it will be good to be back home,” I said. But hadn’t I just come from home? Is Massachusetts now my home (say it ain’t so!)? Can I have two homes? Or three? Or four? Not actual buildings, but spaces—or feelings of all-is-ok-ness, one-ness, whole-ness. Is that what I meant by “going home”?

What is home? Where is it? Or who?

Before leaving for college, my parents told me no matter where I roamed, Wyoming would always be my home—Wyoming, my native land of the vast sky and big prairie. Snow in all seasons and drive-up liquor stores. Fly-fishermen and eagles on fence-posts. Mountains, streams, and antelope. I left Wyoming to see something new, to go someplace with “less dirt”. To widen my mind and my purview.

When I got to Mount Holyoke, home was where my bed was—

every year in a different place on campus, each room a special place for me and my thoughts, my books, my music. I felt good there, like I belonged. Like I was intrinsically connected to the place and the people there with me, those who came before me, and those who would come after me. Each year was new and different.

shannie, 1st year roommate. we broke the light. thelma & me.

But every late August, when I stepped back on campus, I felt like I was right where I needed to be. Soon I’d see my friends and we’d fall right back where we left off the previous year. It was a place of shared experiences, of self-seeking, of togetherness.

Then during the summer I went back to “home-home” as I called it. Back again to Wyoming, to my family, my room, my bed, my dogs.

My first job out of college was really when I first set up my own space that was really and truly mine, my new apartment. My walls, my kitchen, my art space.

And now Mark and I have a home here, in Watertown,

with our dog, our bed, our pictures.

I’m at home with Mark, in his hug. With his laugh and warm smile.

We feel good here, all together, “at home” in our 1200 square feet of room, and beyond that space the life we’ve shaped with one another.

All of this, and yet still I’m not certain. What IS home?

Is it a warm blanket? a friendly hug? where your family lives? where everyone knows your name? Could be… Surely it isn’t only the things around you, in your life, or the space they fill. Is it the people? Or is it just where you are, in that moment? And there, could it be many places?

Perhaps the answer is that home is where you are, where I am, where we are together, and that home will be ever-changing, ever-moving, because life is ever-changing, ever-moving. And in that movement will always be a constant space where we feel good, we feel like our true selves, we feel like we’re whole. And all those spaces will always be there, waiting for us.

I feel good knowing this. I feel calm. I feel at ease.

I haven’t written in ages! I’m terrible. I’m the worst ever. I say this every time, too. But really I think this must be the longest time without a post. Three months? Bennett! Bad! BAD!

Last time I wrote it was almost Christmas. Now it’s almost Easter… well, almost. We’ve seen a whole season come and go and not a post on anything. Not a one about being tired of snow (And lots of snow did we have – holy cow! Something like 39 inches?) or exploring new places (the Art & Architecture Tour at the Boston Public Library is a hidden gem). No news on our Year of Bread baking challenge (Did you know we haven’t bought bread in THREE MONTHS!? We’ve baked every bit of bread we’ve eaten this winter!) All this including the sad fact that we’ve had zero giveaways, and NO pictures of Gordon. Sad face.

And I wish I could write more today but I have to-dos and projects I’ve been putting off and MUST get to them. I know, I know. You may say, “Isn’t this a project you’ve been putting off?” and yes, it most certainly is and I feel terribly about it. Not just because I’ve been neglecting the blog and my readers, but in the spirit of full disclosure, I’ve been putting it (and my other to-dos and projects) off because I’ve been a lazy bear. Very lazy. Winter got me bad and I’ve just been a bum. Watched too much TV, and really, it’s all been filth. I am no better for it. Shame on me. Shame on me and the time I’ve wasted.

But don’t you worry. It’s spring! The sun is out longer and fills me with all kinds of happiness and spirit and inspiration. I’ll be back and better than ever very soon, with lots of newsy posts chock full of happy happiness, food making, artsy fartsy goodness, and all other things LPE.

So until then, I leave you with two things:

1. A picture of Gordon – because that’s why you drop by LPE, right? To see Gordon’s sweet cheeks, and NOT because every time I write a new post and hit PUBLISH a little link pops up on Facebook and Twitter and that urge to click on a link comes over you and you click without thinking.

NO, you come here of your own volition, I know it.

And 2:

A giveaway!!! I will send a snail mail grab bag—colorful pens, lovely papers, envelopes, blank note cards, stickers, etc.—to the fifth new person to subscribe to LPE. Just hit “L.P.E. to Y.O.U.” on the left hand side ← over there and enter your email address. When we post, which is hopefully, and fingers CROSSED, oftener than not, you’ll get a little PING! Note: You can unsubscribe at any time (but I hope you don’t!) by clicking “manage” under L.P.E. to Y.O.U. Believe me, knowing I have subscribers who are expecting things of me will keep me motivated, so this is a win-win in many ways.

Wahey! We’re (nearly) back!

Would that it was snowing right this moment, blanketing the world with the fluffy, white, winter-y stuff.  I would go outside with Gordon and Mark and make tracks and angels and snowballs.

It is not actually snowing here in Boston town, nor is it in the forecast (although I’m sure we’re in for a good Nor’Easter soon.  It is, after all, New England).  Yet it is snowing here on L.P.E.  A beautiful quiet whisper of snow coming down ever so softly. The snow on L.P.E. is not cold and doesn’t blow away.  It doesn’t sting your face and you can’t catch it on your tongue.  But my hope is that it conjures up good feelings and leaves you thinking fondly of winter white holidays and happy childhood memories.  And hopefully it makes you smile.

Snow snow snow snow SNOOOOOOW.

It won’t be long before we’ll all be there with snow

Snow…
I want to wash my hands, my face and hair with snow

Snow
I long to clear a path and lift a spade of snow…
Snow
Oh, to see a great big man entirely made of snow

Where it’s snowing
All winter through
That’s where I want to be

Snowball throwing
That’s what I’ll do

How I’m longing to ski
Through the snow-oh-oh-oh-oh

Those glist’ning houses that seem to be built of snow
Snow

Oh, to see a mountain covered with a quilt of snow

What is Christmas with no snow
No white Christmas with no snow
Snow

I’ll soon be there with snow

I’ll wash my hair with snow
And with a spade of snow
I’ll build a man that’s made of snow
I’d love to stay up with you but I recommend a little shuteye
Go to sleep

And dream … Of snow.

Hmmm… Me thinks it’s time for a giveaway!

Write your favorite snow memory in the comments, and I’ll send one lucky reader a sweet little surprise!

 

 

(The lyrics and song “Snow”, from the movie White Christmas, are © 1953, Erving Berlin)

 

I am sweating. Glowing. Dripping.

It’s too hot. And it’s not even hotter than yesterday I don’t think.

Weather.com says it’s 85, feels like 89.  “Warm.”  Yeah. No sh.t.

Even my fish are looking at me like, “Uhm… the water is WARM, Momma! Yeah, we’re cold-blooded but this is ridic!”

I don’t feel like eating. I don’t feel like cooking.  I don’t even feel like watching TV.  I don’t feel like doing much of anything but laying on the floor with Gordon, sprawled out, limbs not touching anything, cold washcloth on my forehead, wishing the heat away.  Poor Gordon doesn’t feel like doing much of anything either… not even a bone will tempt him.  Ice will though, he loves ice.  We are lucky to have window-units to keep the place a bit cooler, but it still gets warm.  I worry for those with no cool air or ventilation, or who are working in jobs that keep them outdoors or in hot areas.  We saw a worker get pulled out of a construction site today with what appeared to be heat stroke–the paramedics came quickly but I hope he’s ok.

Today I read a terribly sad and beautifully written article from March 2009’s Washington Post about children being accidentally left in cars by absent-minded but deeply loving parents.  On days like today I worry about children and pets and the elderly being transported in cars at all or even being left in their homes with no air conditioning or fans, and hope that their caregivers remember to check on them, to take them (babies/pets/elderly) out of their cars even for a quick errand, or to provide cool water and air when possible.

We haven’t had a good rain in weeks… maybe a month! In sharp contrast to last spring when we had record rains all of June and much of July.  Now, where only last month the grass was green and lush, today everywhere it is brown and dry.  The leaves on trees and plants hang sad and parched.  The pavement stays warm long into the night and the water runs tepid out of the faucet.

Ok, enough for now.  I’m going to give Gordo another round of ice cubes and maybe spray him down a bit with some water.  Maybe spray me down a bit too.  Mark is playing softball and I hope he is drinking enough water!!  It will start to cool off and it’s always a few degrees cooler in Cambridge than it is in Belmont, though only a few miles away.

What are you doing to stay cool?  Please be careful everyone!

The National Weather Service is predicting that a “SIGNIFICANT WINTER STORM WILL IMPACT THE REGION WEDNESDAY AND WEDNESDAY NIGHT WITH HEAVY SNOW AND STRONG WINDS…” note use of capital letters for emphasis.  It could very well be a snow day here tomorrow.  I’m hoping for it, but I’m thinking the big snow won’t start until tomorrow afternoon, by which time I’ll have already been at work wishing I was curled up with the dog and some cocoa watching recorded episodes of American Idol Hollywood Week.  I’ll finish my work day and then have to wait for a bus that won’t show because the snow is impacting the overhead lines, or if and when it does show up is packed with masses of people trying to exit the city.  We’ll then trudge through several inches of snow to home only to be met by a dog who has been inside all day long and desperately needs a walk.  Fun Fun!  I’m not complaining, really, in fact I wish for MORE snow because I really want a snow day.  I just don’t want to come home from a long day’s work in a snow mess.  So yes, more snow please!  I’ll take all that DC has had and more! Bring it on!  I heart snow days!

If… IF… it is a snow day, either tomorrow or Thursday (both unlikely, but a girl can dream!) here are the top 10 things I would do:

1. Sleep in
2. Stay in my sweats all day
3. Make a big pot of coffee and eat a giant bowl of Malt-O-Meal, extra lumpy and two brown sugars
4. Knit and/or paint and/or make Valentines
5. Watch tivo’d episodes of Chuck, American Idol, and Biggest Loser
6. Finish this terrible book I’m reading called The Anglo Files.  Funny, but super whiny and borderline offensive towards all things Britain
7. Bake Mark these cookies, or these cookies
8. Give Gordon a bone and watch him hide it
9. Force Mark to play a board game with me, preferably Boggle or Life
10. Make a pot of soup

How would you spend a snow day?  Or, if you live in DC or anywhere in the Mid-Atlantic, how have you spent your snow days?

Today was the time-honored tradition of Mount Holyoke Mountain Day!  Started in 1838, Mountain Day celebrates the mountain, the fall, good friends, and time off from classes, homework, books, and studying.  The bells toll at seven o’clock in the morning for five straight minutes, calling the students from their beds and to the top of the mountain.  Some drive, some hike, but it is being at the top that counts, meeting friends, eating ice cream, and taking pictures.

The Summit House, Mount Holyoke
The Summit House, Mount Holyoke

While I, sadly, could not spend the day partaking in any traditional Mountain Day festivities, I did take time to remember some of my favorite Mount Holyoke outdoor moments.  My favorite two come from then and now…

Winter, 2003: Snow hiking and sliding with Michelle and Jessica


Michelle and Jess at the top

My friends Michelle Boudreau Mattingly and Jessica Ketchen and I decided, as trip leaders of outing clubs often do, to lead a hike.  It was the middle of winter, but we thought hey–winter hiking is fun!  We advertised the hike up the Notch on our website and sent an email to the Mount Holyoke Outing Club listserv, and yet we were the only crazies to show up.

In the cold and snow we hiked up the Notch, a hike up one of the Seven Sisters on the way to Mount Holyoke, to see… well, nothing. Visibility was low, the snow was falling, and it was COOOOOLD.  But fun, and beautiful.  It was just the three of us on this trip; everyone else was curled up warmly with their comforters in their rooms watching a movie, studying in the library, or hanging out in Blanchard.  But not us.  No, that Saturday we hiked the mountain.  And then we slid down:

Jess and I sliding down the mountain

And then, we drove to Harrells for ice cream.

August 2009, Hiking the Metacomet-Monadnock trail to the summit of Mount Holyoke with Mark & Gordon:

One Saturday this past August, Mark and I decided that we’d drive out to the Pioneer Valley and hike Mount Holyoke.  I’d promised him long ago that I’d take him there, but this was the first time we’d been together.  We took Gordon with us, because he too likes to hike.  And what a good hiker he was! This trail is steep in many places and easy in others, and has beautiful views of the Oxbow, North Hampton, and the Pioneer Valley to the west.

The Oxbow, from vista on the Metacomet-Monadnock Trail
The Oxbow, from vista on the Metacomet-Monadnock Trail

The day we chose to hike might have been one of the hottest and muggiest of the year.  It was quite warm and buggy and pretty disgusting but we had lots of extra water and snacks, and hopes of cool drinks and sandwiches after reaching the summit, so we hiked on.  We hiked past the Mount Holyoke Outing Club cabin, up a steep knoll and along the ridge towards the Summit House.  One of my favorite moments from this hike was about 2/3 the way through.  We had just passed one of the vistas looking out to the Oxbow and were continuing to move along the ridge and down one of the low points.  We reached a big pile of rocks from which we’d climb down into a little ravine that we would walk in for a while before going up the long push to the top.  Gordon approached the rocks carefully… he looked down, tried one path down and didn’t like it.  He tried another and didn’t like that one either.  Then he stopped and sat.  We urged him “Come on Gordon! You can do it!” as he’d climbed up and down other piles of rocks and steep sections like a champ.  But not this pile.  Nope.  Too steep, and he was no dummy.  So Mark climbed down about half way, picked him up and carried him down.  I’m not too sure Gordon enjoyed being carried, but Mark put him down and we all continued on our way up the trail to the summit.

Once on top we took the traditional photograph in front of the Summit Sign:

Anna, Mark & Gordon on the Summit of Mount Holyoke

and then drove to Mount Holyoke (the College) where we bought ourselves those cold drinks and sandwiches we’d hiked for and sat on Adirondack chairs on quiet Blanchard Green to rest our toes and weary minds.

Relaxing on Blanchard Green

Today there was no hiking for me, but I read tweets all day from @mtholyoke about all the fun times that students were having going on hikes, hanging out at the summit, and eating ice cream with President Creighton.

I cannot say that I hiked any mountains, or even enjoyed the wilds of nature.  But I did conquer something…

A mountain of BerryLine froyo.  Yes indeed.

Perhaps next year I’ll hike a mountain instead?

How did you spend your Mountain Day?

Gordon has a new toy.  Well, it’s an old toy.  But he just figured out how to use it so it seems new to him.

You stuff it full of treats and then roll it around and the treats pop out.  He played with this thing for about half an hour.

Here’s a peek (note: there are four videos and while they’re very short, I recognize that you may not love watching 266 whole seconds of a dog playing with a ball.  So if you want the quick version, go for videos 1 and 3.  I think they’re the best):

I love how he plays a bit, and then looks at me as if to say “Oh, hey!”

Here he gets me to play a bit too:

Now he’s got the thing cornered:

He’s had too much I guess:

What a Gordon! He’s so smart sometimes.  And funny.

Based on  your emails and comments, we know what you, our loyal readers want to see: more of the plants. We’ll get to those in a minute.

But first, here are a few shots of how we celebrated Easter this year. As Anna wrote earlier, my sister, Annie, who lives just down the road in Boston came over and we had a feast. Anna’s creations from her new Wyoming cookbook proved ready to go into the permanent rotation. Here we are posing for obligatory pre-meal photos before digging in:

easter1

After brunch, Annie opened her Easter basket. Gordon was especially interested in its contents:

easter2

What can we say, he knows what the good stuff smells like:

easter3

Apparently, begging is exhausting. It always amazes us where and how Gordon can fall asleep:

easter4

It was a lovely holiday and a great opportunity to think about our families and friends and reflect upon the magnificence of winter turning into spring.

Speaking of spring, ok, it’s time for some plant seedling updates. I’m happy to report that we have removed the greenhouse lids on two of the flats because the seedlings have outgrown their roofs. Here’s the latest:

small_plants2

They are all mostly in the 3-5″ tall range. The green beans are especially happy, already sprouting little leaves!

small_plants4

My favorite upstarts have been the sunflowers. They sprouted up a few days ago, with the seed coats a clear giveaway for what was coming up out of the ground:

small_plants3

We’ll probably have to start transplanting the squash, beans, and cucumbers soon. We’ll put some more pictures up when we do. Send along your own if you are taking the plunge into container gardening. It’s easy and incredibly satisfying.

Until next time, Happy Holidays and happy spring!

It’s getting cold in Boston, and we’ve been trying to think of ways to keep the heat inside. We thought that stopping the stiff breeze coming through the living room windows was a good place to start… So, remembering what my grandma had growing up, we decided to make some window and door “snakes.” Basically some old fabric filled with rice. Anna did a great job sewing, even adding some buttons and stitching enhancements — like this:

dsc01430

We felt the difference almost immediately. Only problem is, some of them don’t stay put and try to escape into other rooms…

dsc01443

So good thing we have a Gordon to corral them!

dsc01440

Anyone else have ideas for keeping an old New England house a warm(er) this winter?

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