Wednesday, February 29, 2012

In Memoriam...

Last night we had extremely strong winds and gusts to 55mph. One of those gusts took down a gorgeous treasured old cedar tree that was twice the size of our cottage. Mark and I loved that old tree and valued its shade and its beauty. We feel the loss this morning of this tree that shared our country place. There is not only a hole in the landscape but in my heart.
We were surprised we didn't hear the break

This shot shows the weakness in the tree
so there is a reason it succumbed to the
ferocious wind last night

Another view...

So so sad about this loss

"If a tree dies, plant another in its place."- Linnaeus

...And that is exactly what we plan to do; I'm just deciding what kind of tree to plant.

“Tree planting is always a utopian enterprise, it seems to me, a wager on a future the planter doesn't necessarily expect to witness.” ― Michael Pollan, Second Nature: A Gardener's Education

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Ruminations About Simplification

This picture speaks for itself! It is a picture of the excess in American life since the 1980's as demonstrated by the McMansion. The 'little' house in the center is a lovely perfectly proportioned two story family home. Perhaps the size of these McMansion's had something to do with our eventual mortgage crisis too. I think initially it was unbridled optimism and 'feeling' rich so to the middle class, a castle was possible, hence, the McMansion.

If you are interested in home and interior design (my 'other' passion), check out this website by Patricia Gaylor at and read about her take on the picture above.

Sitting down with a cup of tea and a new design magazine is pure luxury for me. I can't tell you how much I've spent on design magazines over the years. To justify the expense, I've chalked it up to my design education!  I think I've learned a thing or two about design as a result so I've never been intimidated when putting together my own home. It was great fun to transform this old country cottage into our home. The cottage has many rough edges that I softened with design but the old cottage doesn't try to be anything but a cleaner, brighter and a little more stylish version of its original self.

New life for childhood
family radio cabinet!
Since retiring, I've found myself changing perhaps because I have more time to ruminate. I've realized I'm happier with what I have and where I am. I don't want to shop for more things but rather find I am trying to reduce the amount of things we have or repurpose them. The family radio which was part of this wood cabinet has become the storage for CDs and the top is the entry shelf for keys, mail, etc. I changed out the fabric that covers the 'speakers' to match our decor and kept the wood as is. Its perfect and full of family memories. I remember Mom using the top for raising bread dough since the radio made it warm; and it was the spot for the nativity set every Christmas.

I like our small home that is the perfect scale for two and the right size for me to care for by myself. The cottage is cozy and all rooms are totally utilized every day except for the small guest room. I've had great fun decorating our home and amazingly our things fit the space perfectly. Choosing the interior colors, walls and flooring, window coverings and fixtures was fun and after three years I still love the choices. I have to admit that a big part of the charm of our cottage is the windows that extend the eye to the beautiful outdoors which visually expands the inside space!

Maybe the desire to lighten one's life is a function of age but I hope that others are finding the same sense of restraint. We Americans are so fortunate to live in our fabulous country of plenty but at times it can be overwhelming with choices and frankly, stuff.

I just finished a fabulous book called The Dirty Life: A Memoir of Farming, Food, and Love by Kristin Kimball. Kristin, a Harvard educated professional woman living in NYC, met a young idealistic farmer on a writing assignment, fell in love and jumped into a total life change. She and her husband learned to utilize old things and to repurpose other things to suit their needs on a very tight budget. It is beautifully written and an amazing tale of a life that is not for the faint hearted. I always enjoy memoirs because they let me try on another persons life and lifestyle. I related to many of her observations and feelings while reading her memoir of life on Essex Farm which is now a successful venture. Kristin also writes a blog that you can read at...
The Dirty Life

What is it about old peeling red barns that are so appealing? Hopefully ours, this spring, will be a striking shade of geranium red! You'll see when it happens.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Snow Storm Pictures

We had our third snowstorm of the winter and it was a doozy. The storm started with a day of rain (yippee!) which turned to wet heavy snow for nearly another day (yippee!). All the living things with roots in the ground are happy with the moisture that this storm brought.

Here are some pictures of the storm - during and after - that you may enjoy; especially those of you in California who have been enjoying 75-80 degree weather. See what you are missing?

We woke up to heavy snow with branches
weeping to the ground so we had the big
job of knocking the snow off.

The birds were feeding throughout the
storm during the day
This birdbath heater becomes critical
for keeping the water unfrozen in this
country. The water is what draws the
birds to Edwards Ranch.
See what I mean?
The Dot House in the storm. Snow
swirled and filled the pen so I had
to clear a path so the hens would come
out of the house once the snow stopped.
See the snowbank in the Dots pen?

Here I am in my chicken chores couture
clearing the snow so my girls can get outside.

A view to the garden where you also
see the birds in the snow picking through
seeds blown to the ground.

Buddy found a protected spot under
the evergreens.

Buddy's nose in the snow...he did this
all day evidently looking for something
And then the sun came out... very very
cold as you can see by the fluffed feathers
on these robins at the birdbath.
The heavy wet snow on the branches
highlight the birds waiting for their
place at the feeder
I've told you, this is robin country!
Click on this picture to fully see the
joy of the birds in the crisp blue winter
And in spite of the freezing weather,
high winds, snow and being stuck inside
during the storm, my girls still gave me
16 beautiful eggs in one day! Boy, are
they producing now.