Sunday, May 29, 2005
Celtic Tree Month of Hawthorn
Sunny and mild
We had so much fun at our friends’ place! We spent most of the afternoon on the deck, playing with the dog, drinking wine, talking and reading. I always bring books with me, my friends always have a stack of interesting books, and off we go.
Since they live on a river? Inlet? With marshland, they get a lot of birds, and recently bought Bird Watching For Dummies. Since I have to get up to speed for the Salt Marsh stories, we spent a good part of the afternoon going through the book and trying to figure out what we saw.
The most fun was a family of white swans – the parents and two little ones trailing behind them. They had the best time gliding up and down the river, scolding kayaks who came too close, and teaching the babies about the rocky beach.
Some heinous person in the Bronx a few weeks ago stabbed and stomped a pair of swans to death – I hope he meets the same fate. Swans are so beautiful – even though they’re temperamental. I understand why British royalty considered them sacred and harming a swan was once punishable by death! I don’t know if that’s still the case, but it should be.
We also saw a white egret (snowy egret?) I didn’t know what an egret was before – I assumed it was a heron – but there’s a difference. And it was an egret. Okay, so it took us nearly forty-five minutes to identify it (the egret made fun of us the whole time), but, eventually, we got there.
And I have to track down some of the cookbooks they have – there are two by Sarah Leah Chase, written during her time on Nantucket, that are fantastic, and I can’t wait to get my hands on them and start cooking.
One of the things I love about visiting these friends is their magnificent kitchen – in which they let me cook, whenever I visit! While we had the traditional hot dogs with all the trimmings for lunch, I created a hamburger for dinner filled with herbs and spices (rosemary, tarragon, thyme, basil, scallion, garlic, sea salt and white pepper), with just a touch of steak sauce and roasted red peppers on top. It was very good!
On a more disturbing note, my mother, who’s staying nearby looking after a dog, fell and hit her head hard enough to lose consciousness for a few seconds the night before. The dog, being a sweet-tempered creature, was very worried and stayed right with her. But her arm and shoulder are sore, and she’s got a bruise on her forehead. My SO, who’s certainly been hit in the head frequently enough in his line of work, knew what to look for. Other than bruises, she’s okay, but we checked on her periodically throughout the day and took the dog out for a good long walk. My mother is 80 – even a minor fall is a big deal.
We ended up staying overnight at our friends’ place – they have a lovely guest suite. I felt guilty about the cats, but, even though we weren’t far from home, we had enough good food and, especially, good wine to make it inadvisable to drive home in the dark – especially on a holiday weekend filled with drunk drivers. So we stayed over night, woke up to a glorious morning overlooking the water, and came home early. The cats, as expected, were absolutely furious with us, and we will be groveling for most of the day. Actually, he’ll have to grovel for both of us – I have to write.
Having said that, I’ve moved one of the little beasties off the keyboard three times while I worked on this post.
One of the discussions that came up is about the house hunting. My friends brought up an idea that’s intriguing, because I hadn’t thought along those terms at all.
I’ve adamant about wanting an old house with history. I don’t like the modern “open plan” type living spaces – I want rooms with doors I can close, so I can get away from myself (and the critters). What we discussed last night is the possibility of, instead of being locked in by old houses with tiny rooms and too-small windows (I don’t believe in buying a house and gutting it or tearing it down to start over – if you don’t like the house, buy something else), to look at houses, both old and new, that have full attics. Instead of locking myself in to creating my library/office on the ground floor and a spare bedroom turned into a sewing room, an open space attic that runs the length of the house might be a better choice (provided the construction is sturdy enough that the attic can hold the books). One end of it could be devoted to the writing desk, the books could run the length of the space, but I could also have large, open tables for sewing and photography projects. Yes, it’s one open space, but it would be isolated from the rest of the house by being up in the attic, and it would have all my creative work in a single space, instead of fragmenting it.
Their attic is only used for storage, but we climbed around up there and talked about the possibilities for a similar space. I’d always figured the attic could at least be partially converted into a yoga/meditation room. But why not have it creative space for everything? A real studio space? The lack of natural light is the only thing that bothers me in their attic, but, as they pointed out, many houses with attics running the length of the space have more windows than simply one at each end.
It’s an enticing possibility.
I believe that, the moment I find the right house, I’ll know it. I’ve always known when I found the right place to live, and always regretted it when I rented a space that did not feel right.
I worked a bit on the Boothbay Harbor piece, but that was it.
So, today, I have to make up for everything that didn’t get done yesterday. But yesterday was a necessary break.
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