These Years





I am finding these young teenage years challenging.  Don't get me wrong, she's still as sweet as can be and funny, too.  But friendships are paramount now, and I'm not sure at times where I fit into the scene.  

I provide what she needs and take her where she wants to go.  I fine-tune the logistics and oversee her responsibilities.  She's really in charge of it all, though.  

I tell her often how proud I am of her accomplishments and efforts.  

I miss the days when my job was to keep her safe on the neighborhood playground and hold her in my lap so she would take an afternoon rest.  

I miss being her world.

Rebirth





My copies arrived on Monday.  Kindred Issue Six is a beautiful issue!  

I am thrilled and honored to have my essay, The Porch Light Is On, and an accompanying photograph, included in this issue's theme of rebirth.

I can't wait to find the perfect spot to sit down with a cup of tea and be inspired by all the other writing and photos.  I hope that you will join me!

So Many Ways To Tell A Story




I have been thinking a lot recently about telling stories. Specifically, how many methods there are to tell them.

I tell mine through essays and blog posts.  Sometimes I try to let the photographs do the telling, with a few sentences for support.




I am hoping at the end of the summer to have a year's worth of photos capturing the seasons to make a photo book for myself.  Having discovered the self-caring qualities of self-portraiture, I would love to capture this evolution in a different book.



But since the fall, scrapbooking keeps whispering to me. I'm realizing that I want a method that combines text and images in a way that goes beyond the vertical and scrolling of a blog page.  Beyond the limited text that can be incorporated into a photo book. 

I want to use this sophisticated form of scrapbooking as way to journal. 

A different voice emerges from each medium, so why can't the story of a trip, for example, be told in a blog post, a photo book, and then again on a scrapbook page? 

The only real problem is how many hours there are in any given day to thoughtfully express ourselves in words, images, and scraps of handmade paper.  Far too few, in my opinion.





A Peephole





I need to cut a peephole to look out from this close space I have wiggled myself into that has no windows or doors.  

A small hole through which I can squint and say, I think I see a way I can make that connection back to that place and those people.  If I place the phone number in front of me today, I can make the call tomorrow.  If I give myself stationary and a time limit, I can sit down and write that letter start to finish.  

If I say, just thirty minutes a day and press the timer, I can make my way slowly through the revisions on that essay.

Defined as such, a peephole isn't so scary.  It's just enough of a view to begin to make my way towards what I want to do, but don't yet know how to, or if I am courageous enough to go the distance.

A Strategy





I want to stop procrastinating.  

I'm breaking a number of the difficult tasks down now into 15 minute increments in an attempt to make them less overwhelming. 

I feel a bit better.  We'll see how it goes.  Anything has to be an improvement over avoidance, no?


 

Finding Myself In The Closet





Last month I took a self-portraiture class, and I found that I responded to some of the prompts by reaching into my closet and dressing up. 

I wasn't trying to play a character, if anything I was allowing myself to be more me. 

I reached for two coats that I never wear because I'm not sure how to wear them, but I thought they would look pretty in photographs.

The funny thing is, that once I wore them around at home, I felt so comfortable in them.  Perhaps it's because they brought out a part of myself I wanted to express. They captured a delight I rarely allow myself to feel with clothing.

I tend to go for the daily "uniform" that serves as the backbone of my wardrobe. 





The green alpaca coat in the first photo, I knit a number of years ago.  I wrote about that process at the time, and also mentioned why I don't wear it more often on my "about" page.

The velvet coat was a gift from Mr. Savory one Christmas.  I have never worn it, not being sure if it was an indoor garment or an outer layer, but when I put it on with jeans, it clicked.  It felt elegant but not fancy, and it was fun to twirl around in on a frigid winter day. 

I hope I experiment like this more often.  The class offered me a comfortable environment to come out and play.  Life can't be all parkas and black wool overcoats!

Tea Habits



I've been drinking more tea lately.  I'm enjoying peppermint tea in the late morning while writing, to keep warm after my usual two cups of coffee. 




In an effort to improve my restless sleep by decreasing caffeine, I have switched my afternoon tea from a black (Irish Breakfast is my favorite) to a white (Indian White) or Oolong. I am also trying to create more of a tea ritual by sitting down and drinking it while it's hot, maybe having a cookie along side to tide me over until dinner.



These Hamantaschen were actually Olivia's dessert the other day, but after she kept raving about them, I had to have one with my tea! 

Eating Citrus





We've been eating citrus all winter.  Edible sunshine.


 

Clementines. Cuties. Grapefruit. Blood Oranges. Minneolas.



 And, of course, drinking the morning orange juice.





 But our conversation has turned to how impatient we are for summer fruit.  March and April are the hardest.  I dig into the freezer for last summer's blueberries and try to remain creative, baking with local apples from our winter CSA. 

I remember my mother telling me that when she was a child she received oranges in her Christmas stocking.  It's hard to conjure delight for something that has become so common. 

Looking at these photos together refreshes me a bit, though.  Look at all that sunshine!

About


Thanks for stopping by.  I do appreciate your visit here to Hearth Arts.

My thirteen year old daughter took this photo of me and our Labradoodle, Charlie, at one of our favorite places: Hawk Haven Winery, just outside of Cape May.  Charlie looks like he would rather be running through the vines playing his favorite game of chase!

This second photo is a self-portrait taken by the grand sugar maple in our front yard.  I am wearing a coat I knit a few years ago that fits imperfectly, and I rarely feel brave enough to leave the house wearing it.  The Rowan pattern makes me dream of sheep herding in the English countryside, which is what the model was doing in the pattern photograph. 



Say hello--it makes me feel good to know someone's out there!
e-mail me: clarice at verizon dot net
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Eagerly On The Mat





A few months ago I turned a corner with my yoga practice.  I am no longer making myself do it because it fulfills my exercise requirement.  I am eager to step onto my mat because that hour helps me feel so much better physically and emotionally.  Bye bye achy crotchetiness. 

Icey Beauty





It's been all about the weather this week.  Snow, rain, ice, cold.



The week unfolded like this: snow Day, two hour delay, snow day, two hour delay, normal school day. The trees were beautiful early in the week before their branches were burdened with ice and came crashing down on power lines.  We were fortunate, losing power for only six hours, while we lit candles and sat by the fire to eat meals and play games.

Regardless of attending so little school and few extracurricular activities, we all seem ready to have a weekend!

Winter Walk




 

I took Harry and Charlie out for a couple walks in the woods this weekend.  They were so happy to romp in the snow!

 

 Bringing my camera was a needed distraction from the cold.




 

Making these guys happy makes me happy.  It's hard not to laugh looking at that face full of snow!  I hope you are staying warm and entertained.

The January Yard





I first noticed my friend here a week or two ago when he landed with a thud one morning on the railing of the patio steps.

I looked up where I was working at the table to see this potbellied Robin.  Every day, now, he settles into the bush, eating the little berries and basking in the sunshine when it is available.

I have found that I look for him in the mornings, now, and enjoy his presence.  Company!  (Perhaps he is really a female and will be nesting here come spring?  Every summer when I trim this bush I find a nest hidden deeper within the branches.

 
The garden and yard are so brown and frozen now.  Noticing these Rose Of Sharon seeds yesterday lifted my spirits!

When I Have No Words





I think it is time to admit that I've been experiencing some sort of writer's block here.  It's as if I open my mouth to speak and no sound comes out.  

I don't know if it has something to do with an essay I have been struggling to write for a few months.  Sometimes when I am writing elsewhere, I can't write here, too.  


 
Momentarily this morning, I considered letting this space go, and it hasn't been the first time.  But even in the quiet times, even when I'm stuck, it's comforting to come here and kick around.

The fog excites me; maybe it provided inspiration for a few words and pics today.  Be back soon, I hope.

Back To Normal






Today, the first day back to a regular schedule after the long break, is about making lists and getting organized. 

Cake For A Change





I was too busy preparing and hosting on Thanksgiving to remember to photograph our table, our guests, and even what we cooked and baked.  

I wanted to finish in the kitchen, go out for a walk with Harry and Charlie, and their out-of-town visitor, Dolly, and then sit down for a while by the fire before gathering for our dinner. 




In addition to my apple pie, this year I thought a cake might be a nice addition.  Most everyone made the traditional selection of pie, so we ate pumpkin gingerbread cake all weekend.  I finished the last piece this morning.  I've shared other recipes from Gingerbread here before, and this one was as wonderful as the others.  The pumpkin cuts the intensity of the spice a bit, yet the overall flavor is definitely of gingerbread.


Pumpkin-Gingerbread Cake
adapted from Gingerbread

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup dark molasses
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups pumpkin puree (1 can of puree is 2 cups, so I added 1/4 cup of homemade rhubarb butter, or you could use apple butter or apple sauce)
Confectioner's sugar for dusting

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Butter and flour a 10-inch tube pan.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves in a large bowl.

Put the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium-high speed until smooth.  Add the granulated and brown sugars and beat until light and fluffy.  Pour in molasses and beat until smooth.  Drop in eggs, one at a time, and beat for about 2 minutes, stopping at least once to scrape the sides of the bowl.  Add the vanilla extract, pumpkin puree, mixing until combined.  Reduce the mixing speed to medium-low and gradually add the flour mixture, beating just until incorporated.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 1 hour, or until the cake is dark chestnut brown in color, the top is cracked, and a wooden skewer inserted near the center comes out clean.  Set the cake on a wire rack to cool in the pan for about 15 minutes before turning out to cool completely.

Dust with confectioner's sugar.