Monthly Archives: February 2013


It’s the last day of February. And somewhere not far away, a songbird is warbling his little heart out. This isn’t the all-winter brass section performance of trumpeting Canada geese. This is a determined little woodwind soloist, a perfectly ordinary spring song, an unseen fistsize bird announcing to the world at large that he’s back and ready to start this year’s family now that winter is over.

Only it’s still February. Very strange. I hope he’s not being too optimistic.

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Rainbow Colors

Just what it says, basically – post pictures with four or more strong colors

MulticolorDockingBarHarborDocking in Bar Harbor, Maine – July 2008

MulticolorCookbooksCookbooks in my dining room – ten minutes ago

MulticolorWilliamsburgFlowerGardenFlowers in Williamsburg, Virginia – May 2007

100 Word Challenge for Grownups – Memories

Julia’s 100 Word Challenge for Grownups gives us another picture this week to inspire our short-short stories. Let me know what you think of mine!


The package came on Monday – an inlaid wooden box, locked. On Tuesday, a small envelope. The note inside said only “Rosemary. That’s for remembrance.”

The key lay in the frostbitten herb garden. Her heart hammered as she picked it up. Late at night, she turned the lock. Letters overflowed as she lifted the lid. Taped inside the lid, another note – “Pray you, love, remember – remember how I love you. Love, let me come back.”

She smiled grimly as she fed the letters into the blazing fireplace. What about the box? Pretty, new, no memories left in it. She’d keep it.

Waaabiiii Ssssaaaabiiii…stretching an idea too far?

Do you ever have trouble thinking of your next post? Never fear, the friendly dinosaur who posts as Rarasaur has started a new project – Prompts for the Promptless – to suggest ideas we can all play around with.

The prompt of the moment is “wabi-sabi”. Wabi-what? It’s a Japanese concept, or type of art, or approach to life: finding beauty in the simple, the flawed, the damaged, the impermanent. Flower arrangements; rustic pottery; the tea ceremony.

Anti-wabi-sabi, then, would be perfection. A few months ago I visited someone whose home came about as close to perfection as you can reasonably get – everything was new and sparkling and tastefully coordinated. It was beautiful, but after half an hour or so it made me uncomfortable. I found myself thinking “Whose house is this, anyway? Anybody could live here. It’s as if the owner wants to keep her own tastes and interests hidden.” (This was probably an unfair reaction, but it’s how I felt. As I say, the house was lovely; it was just that it was also completely impersonal.)

Now, I’m in the middle of reorganizing my home. But what am I really trying to accomplish? Not sparkling perfection with a mirror surface that reflects back the visitor’s own face and hides mine. No, I’ll try for something flawed and changeable and a little impromptu, with miscellaneous books shelved all over the place and food cooking in the kitchen and probably some knitting in progress lying around. Something organized and clean, but well-used.

It’s not the tea ceremony. It’s probably pushing the concept way out of its true shape. But it’s what real-life wabi-sabi means to me.

Travel themes: Bridges

Ailsa’s seen the Golden Gate Bridge recently, and that inspired her to ask us for our photos of bridges. All right –


Passing far below a bridge over the Corinth Canal in Greece


Another of the little bridges you find all over Venice – without them, pedestrians would be trapped


Heading home over the Delaware Memorial Bridge between Pennsylvania and New Jersey on a cloudy, windy afternoon late last December

Bridges can be big or small; sometimes you go under them, and sometimes you cross over them.

Friday Fictioneers: Explorers

Another week, another Friday Fictioneers, another photo prompt chosen by the one and only Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. Let me know what you think of my story!


“Stay out of the old barn,” Mom said. So did Grandma. Mostly it was empty except for Grandpa’s workshop. The farm was sold years ago – now it grew houses, so there were neighbor kids to play with when I stayed with Grandma.

Of course we loved to explore the barn. Ghost smells of hay and cows, stripes of sunlight filtering between the old boards. I don’t remember the floor breaking or Grandpa rushing out of his workshop and calling the ambulance.

I woke up with a sore leg. Mom looked scared. “You kids were in that barn,” she said.

“Am I gonna get punished?”

“I think you punished yourself enough. You’ll have that cast on at least a month.”

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Red and White

Cee is planning a series of photo challenges based around colors – this week, she’s asking for pictures featuring either red or white or both.

RedAndWhiteDoubleKnittingAnd it just happens that my messing around with yarn has left me halfway through this very red and very white…well, kind of cream…piece of two-sided reversible knitting. (Pattern from the Winter 2012 issue of Knitty.)

Reverse 100 Day Challenge: 40 days and counting?

Counting? Not really. Getting rid of things, that’s what I’m doing. (For an explanation of the Reverse 100 Day Challenge, look here.)

The project is going well, except that it may be taking over. Two days ago, I wrote up a schedule intended to get the whole house (well, except for the basement) cleaned up by the end of March. Oddly, so far – yes, for two full days – I’ve been keeping at it.

I’m not going to give a day by day diary this time, though. Just a summary: mostly what’s getting recycled, given away, or once in a while thrown out has been books and piles of papers – no surprise, since that’s what we have much too much of in this house. And then there were the oddities, like the pants hanger – I have no idea how it wound up with its handle sticking off to the side at a forty-five degree angle, but it’s no use to anybody. Trash! 😀

100 Word Challenge for Grownups: The Contest

This week, Julia’s prompt for the 100 Word Challenge for Grownups is  …what does it taste like…

To participate, add 100 more words to the prompt and tell us a short-short story. (Don’t forget to post the link over at 100WCGU!) Here’s my version. Please comment – I’d love to know what you think of it!

The Contest

My Aunt Joan’s hobby is winning cooking contests. Well, entering them. So when I heard her excited voice, I knew what I was in for. I went over anyway.

She waved a dripping spoon at something with lots of multicolored layers. “What is it?” I said.

“Lima Fruit Parfait.” She beamed at me. “For the Lima Bean Festival down in Cape May. It’s got strawberries and oranges and blueberries and, of course, lima beans.”

“Lima. Fruit. Parfait. What does it taste like?”

“Oh, who cares? People eat with their eyes, right? And it’s pretty.”

“But lima beans with strawberries? And stuff?”

“Beans are fruit. Technically. I think.”

* * *

(The Lima Bean Festival in Cape May, New Jersey is real. Aunt Joan and her parfait are not, and the actual festival should not be blamed for them!)

Travel theme: Mountains

Ailsa wants to see mountains this week – of course, mountains come in different sizes, depending on where you are. My little corner of the planet barely has hills, let alone mountains – so any mountain photo I can offer has to be a travel picture, just right for this project 🙂

MountainTopOfCadillacMountainLookingTowardBarHarborMEThere are the less ambitious mountains, the kind we have here in the eastern U.S. This is the view from the top of Cadillac Mountain, Maine, looking down toward Bar Harbor (just above and left of the middle of the photo).

Aug03NeedlesNearMtRushmoreOn the other hand, some mountains are so tall and steep and rocky nothing even tries to grow on them – these are in the Black Hills of South Dakota, not far from

MountainAug03MtRushmoreMount Rushmore.

(Unlike Ailsa, I don’t have any snow-topped mountain photos handy. Somewhere, boxed away, there should be pictures from the time we hiked up Mt. Ranier in Washington right to the foot of the glaciers (at those heights, you really notice that there’s not nearly as much oxygen as here at sea level), but that was in the pre-digital days, and it would take a long search to find the prints.)