Creating joy during the 2020 holiday season hasn’t been as simple as in previous years. Despite all, I am grateful for so much, but most especially for my loving family, and, too, that our very elderly relatives –my husband Tom’s parents , my Mom, and Auntie Joy– have not been struck down by the virus.
I am especially thankful for Tom, who always puts his family first in every way imaginable way. He has been our anchor during the past ten months. Last night we celebrated our anniversary. Usually we would go out to celebrate but instead, Alex and Liv made a wonderfully fun delicious surprise dinner. My favorite is lobster, so they prepared that for the first course. Tender, sweet, and cooked to perfection. One of Tom’s favorite dinners is Alex’s Bolognese sauce, accompanied by Danielle’s pasta. That, along with a super deluxe bottle of Lambrusco from Savour, and a loaf of Virgilio’s bread made extra delicious with buttery garlic, well it was heavenly. The best fun and most memorable anniversary ever <3
Wishing all my Friends a peaceful Winter Solstice <3 Today marks the first day of winter and the shortest day of the year. Tragedy after tragedy every day fills our lives but there is hope and light. Praying 2021 will bring peace, compassion, and the best of health to all.
Since Thanksgiving, Charlotte has been back with us full time. Even if one tried, it’s nearly impossible to be sad living with a three year old. She’s at the tender, magical age of wonderment, accompanied by innumerable questions, all the while daily conquering new challenges.Saturday was her very first time sledding. She sped down the hill countless times with her Dad (our son Alex), and TiTi (daughter Liv) and loved every minute.
The following day, Sunday, Charlotte only wanted to sled down on her own and insisted on carrying her sled to the top of the hill without adult assistance. Day three, and she was fearlessly snowboarding with her Dad. I think we have another natural born athlete in the family <3
No matter your choice of candidate or the results, it’s nearly unbearable to see our nation so extraordinarily divided. How will we ever cross the divide? Heartbreaking, discouraging, and compartmentalizing is necessary for the soul. Our lives go on, our dreams need fulfilling, and our friends and families need us.
Our daughter Liv has been home visiting for the past three weeks. She worked from home the first week and then had a much deserved staycation.
Because of coronavirus, Liv had rescheduled a trip home several times. Eight months is the longest we have ever gone without seeing each other. Her visit was THE highlight of the year and hopefully she is returning at Christmas time. Lots of singing, cooking wonderful dinners, day trips, family game nights, and so much love. Oh how I love my family and for that reason, I feel like the luckiest person in the world. Counting my blessings.
Hiking Dogtown with my family on Saturday, we headed out when it was raining. I left my good camera behind and only had the cell phone. Oh how I wished I had my Fuji with me! It was gorgeous and beautiful and because of the drought you can walk out onto the shore a little ways, too.
We were having a fantastic time until Charlotte was stung by a Yellow Jacket. Fall is Yellow Jacket season so be on the lookout if you go (they are everywhere at this time of year). Yellow Jackets can become very aggressive in autumn as their food supply dwindles and they are looking for food to feed their larvae.
After Thursday’s storm we tried going for a beach walk at Good Harbor, Brace Cove, and Niles before giving up and finding a less windy stroll along Niles Pond. The water was a gorgeous deep ultramarine and even the inner harbor was beautiful with whitecaps.
Whenever at the Lobster Trap Tree to take a photo or passing by, there is a steady stream of people–families, couples, and groups of friends–stopping to pose and take snapshots. It’s a Gloucester thing for sure!
The tree will be up most likely though the end of January. David Brooks shares that the time of dismantling is weather dependent however, the BIG BUOY PARTY FAMILY FUN NIGHT is Friday January 25th, so don’t wait too long to take a photo at Gloucester’s beautiful (and the World’s Best) Lobster Trap Tree.
Saturday my daughter Liv and I took a break from all things Christmas and visited Parker River National Wildlife Refuge and Sandy Point Reservation. Hiking around the refuge is one of our favorite things to do and I was thrilled that she got to see not one, but two owls, a Barred Owl, and a Snowy Owl. The Barred was very nearly completely obscured in a dense thicket, nonetheless exciting to see, and the Snowy was spectacular, causing quite a hullabaloo with the onlookers as he perched in a tree by the road leading into the refuge.
To see an owl in the wild is a gift, and I am counting my blessings, for my beautiful, kind-hearted daughter, and wonderful wild creature encounters.
Wednesday and Thursday were spent on a whirlwind trip to NYC for my husband Tom to meet with literary agents.
Upon arriving Wednesday night, our daughter Liv took us to a wonderful Italian restaurant at Chelsea Market, Giovanni Rana Pastificio and Cucina, which specializes in pasta dishes. Every bite of every dish was out-of-this-world delish however, she and I both agreed that the Squid Ink Linguine, Broccoli Rabe, and Lobster entrée was extra-extraordinary.
After dinner we explored the HighLine, which is only a short walk from the Market and is especially festive and fun at dusk.
View from the HighLine
The HighLine was bustling with young couples, old couples, families, friends meeting for dinner and drinks after work, and tourists, too. The gardens are exquisitely maintained and beautiful any time of year, day or night. How well the gardens are cared for is reflected in how very much they are enjoyed by visitors. The HighLine gardens are so appreciated that they even illuminate the flowers!
View of the Chrysler Building from the HighLine
The following morning, Thursday, I walked around Tudor City Parks in the UN headquarter’s neighborhood and then took Liv to a charming French restaurant near the theatre where she works.
Bold and beautiful heart-shaped foliage of our native Redbud tree (Cercis canadensis) at the Tudor City Greens
The trip was too brief but very successful though I have to warn our readers that if you are traveling by car to New York City, the construction traffic homeward in the northbound lanes was horrendous, on both Routes 15 and 95. It took us seven hours to get home!
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If you go to Giovanni Rana Pastificio and Cucina, you have to try their Lambrusco “Pruno Nero” Cleto Chiarli, a wonderful sparkling red wine that is round and flavorful of fruit and berries, but not at all sweet. The color is an inky purple red and the wine is equally as rich tasting as its hue. Lambrusco “Pruno Nero” Cleto Chiarli is not your grandfather’s Lambrusco.
Lambrusco Pruno Nero is definitely worth seeking out and makes a refreshing summer beverage. I’ll mention it to Kathleen at Savour Wine and Cheese and perhaps she’ll give it a try at the shop. We’ll let you know if she does.
My daughter Liv writes about ABT’s production of Swan Lake at Lincoln Center. To this day, i can’t look at a swan without thinking about her dancing around our old apartment–she virtually lived in her swan costumes!
Reblogged from Boston to Brooklyn ~
Last night I had the pleasure of attending the American Ballet Theatre’s production of Swan Lake at Lincoln Center. My obsession with Tchaikovsky’s ballet began at a very young age; as a three year old, my mother made me black swan and white swan costumes, which I wore threadbare, and my father taught me how to play the theme on the piano at the same age.
It only took me twenty five years to make it to a live performance, and it was far more sublime then I could have imagined. Leads Polina Semionova (Odile/Odette) and Marcelo Gomes (the prince) executed the choreography with consummate lyricism and passion, and of course Tchaikovsky’s music, conducted by David LaMarche, was purely transcendent.
My husband’s extended family has been celebrating Christmas Eve together since they emigrated from Germany in the mid-1800s. I was feeling a bit melancholy, as I think were other family members, because the older generation (now in their 80s and 90s) is retiring from hosting the parties. The festivities will surely still go on, although not in quite the same high style as Christmas’s past because many of the next generation (such as ourselves) have made their homes far and wide.
This year was my mother-in-law’s turn to host the party. The table was beautifully decorated and I love the simple and cheery touch of the cardinals on the apples.
Bumbleberry Torte from BonBonerie
Cincinnati was settled largely by German immigrants and judging by the countless established bakeries dotted throughout the city, I imagine the original emigrees were fabulous bakers. One of Tom’s cousins, Debbie, created a cookbook based on favorite family Christmas recipes, including recipes that date back to the 1800s, recipes from the family’s cooks, and recipes from old German great aunts who also lived in the big house and whose job it was at Christmastime to make thousands of cookies. When we spend Christmas at home and not in Ohio, Liv, Alex, and I love to cook from the family Christmas cookbook and the cookies especially are the yummiest you could possibly imagine.
My father-in-law, who is the most kind-hearted man I have ever met, has a wonderful sense of humor, and is a great storyteller, too–and boy does he have many stories to share from a life richly led!
Dusting of snow Christmas Eve morning
Cincinnati is just that much further west that sunrise is nearly an hour later than in Gloucester. The club that we stay at is set within a golf course sited on a hill, with beautiful panoramic views of the surrounding countryside.
Getting ready for Christmas Eve celebration #2!
Always a challenge to get loved ones to stand still long enough for a photo!
Double Exposure Fuifilm X- E1
End Note: In poking around online, I found a photo of the home of Great-aunt Kitty, where the Christmas Eve parties were held continuously for many years. Tom has fond memories of wonderful Christmas’s spent there and especially of the “kiddy table,” where all the cousins and siblings sat together (no adults!), and I gather, where many food fights occurred. The house, still standing, was donated to the Cincinnati park board and you can see more photos of the gorgeous interior at this link: The Gibson-Hauck House. While in Cincinnati we also visited the Rookwood Pottery studio. If you have ever seen Antiques Roadshow, you probably know how beautiful is Rookwood pottery. This post is already too long so later in the week I’ll do a little post about Rookwood.
Snapshots from a recent trip to Brooklyn and NYC to visit my darling daughter Liv.
We had a wonderful time walking everywhere and dining out. Liv always takes me to the most fun restaurants with fabulously yummy food, and they are never too pricey; the prices are comparable to our favorite Gloucester restaurants.
Native Honeysuckle for the Hummingbirds at the HighLine
For our HarborWalk Gardens, I had wanted to to see what’s in bloom at the HighLine gardens during the late summer and early fall, as well as what was blooming at Piet Oudolf’s designs for the Battery Gardens of Remembrance and The Bosque.
At the HighLine, we paused for some length at the stunning grove of Japanese Clerodendrum (Clerodendrum trichotomum); whose one of several common names befits it’s great beauty–Harlequin Glorybower Tree. The stop-dead-in-your-tracks-deliciously-fragrant blossoms float atop a canopy of fluttering leaves. The blooms are similar looking to jasmine flowers, but are even more sweetly scented. A magnet for butterflies and hummingbirds, the tree blooms at a time of year when much of the rest of the garden is winding down. The glorious glorybower is on my wish list for next year and, as it is just barely hardy through zone 6, I’ll find a sheltered and protected spot in which to experiment.
The Spiral Fountain at The Bosque (Spanish for a “grove of trees”), with the Statue of Liberty in the background, Battery Park Park, New York City.
For Christmas Liv gave me an early edition of Emily Dickinson’s poems. I cried. The poems of Emily Dickinson play a beautiful role in my book, Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities, but the sweetest poem of all found within the books’ pagesis the poem written by Liv, when she was only twelve.
Emily Dickinson, published 1892
When Liv was twelve I hired her to transcribe the first draft of the manuscript for Oh Garden, which I had written in longhand, to our then new computer. I had not yet learned how to use the computer and she was quite proficient. The original manuscript included recipes and illustrations, but no poetry. She took her job transcribing very seriously and one day, about halfway through the project, announced that I needed a poem for the book. She dashed upstairs to her bedroom, returning only half an hour later with her contribution, “My Mother’s Garden.” Her tender poem suggested to me that I include more poetry and it was a joyous experience searching for just the right poem to illuminate each chapter. The book grew to comprise many poems by Emily Dickinson, along with works by Federico García Lorca, John Keats, Amy Lowell, Chinese painter- poets, and even a funny and sweetly sarcastic poem by Dorothy Parker titled “One Perfect Rose.” When the time came, I showed my publisher, Mr. Godine, Liv’s poem. He was delighted to include “My Mother’s Garden” and it can be found on page 206.
Now I keep this cherished gift of Emily Dickinson poems by my bedside table and each time I reach to read it or simply when the cover catches my eye, I am reminded of Liv’s gentle, thoughtful love and of the most cherished gift of all, my daughter.
My Mother’s Garden
An exotic sunset-tinted rose
Intoxicating breath of a magnolia
The small windy brick path
Leading to a hidden paradise
Butterflies flutter their own petal-wings
Over the smiling face of a daisy
A hushed lullaby to the garden sings the stream
Honeysuckle vines twist their elegant tendril,
Grasping the delicate lattice
Gorgeous, vibrant hollyhocks stretch their faces
Towards the radiant sun
Drinking in the soft light
Soon the sweet mellow silence is broken
By a joyful cry of children,
Two, three, now four
Suddenly the garden is a place of singing and frolicking and dancing,
Youthful and inviting.
This blessed garden’s soul shines forth in each and every existence
From the flitting butterflies
To the smallest thriving plant
To the noisiest child that finds peaceful comfort,
I loved this Macy Gray song from the moment I first heard it. The lyrics are full of hope. I found the song to be perfect for creating a montage of my favorite clips, filmed in and around Gloucester over the course of the past month. The footage is from works-in-progress butterfly films, 2012 Greasy Pole shorts, and random footage from a family picnic. The film showcases just some of the natural beauty found in Gloucester, from sunrise til sunset. Is it too crazy–butterflies and Greasy Pole Walkers–you tell me because I see beauty in everyone and everything.
Filmed at Niles Beach, Pavilion Beach, Good Harbor Beach, Eastern Point, Brace Cove, Gloucester Harbor Walk, and Plum Street. Created for Good Morning Gloucester. Dedicated to Joe Ciaramitaro and his beautiful family and to our beloved Gloucester community.
Thank you Ciaramitaros for your help with my Monarch film!
Thank you to my darling daughter Liv; as Craig said, “a trifecta–beautiful, smart, and funny!”
Beauty in the World Sung by Macy Gray
2012 Sunday Greasy Pole Walkers
“Beauty in the World” is by American singer Macy Gray from her album The Sellout, which is Gray’s fifth album and first since her under-performing 2007 album, Big. The Selllout is her return to musical form after almost conforming when her last album didn’t take off. “I thought after Big flopped maybe I should do what everyone else was doing,” she said. “Go out and hire the hottest producers, the best writers, get real skinny. But none of those people called me back.”
The song was inspired by hearing her daughter’s laughter on a down day. “I didn’t even know what she was laughing at. I thought ‘at least she’s happy.’ And I felt at least I hadn’t failed there, because my daughter’s happy.” -wiki
The Greasy Pole Walk is a competition that takes place over a three day period and is an integral part of the Saint Peter’s Fiesta. The Greasy Pole Walk and Greasy Pole Walkers are unique to Gloucester, Massachusetts.
We are rejoicing! The day began beautifully –with cerulean skies and Liv’s favorite breakfast, chocolate chip pancakes. Liv sang the mezzo solos in the Mozart Coronation Mass this morning at the Eliot Church in Newton, under the dirction of the gifted conductor David Castillo Gocher. She, and we, will miss David. He has received a fellowship to study at Northwestern University in Chicago. Congratulations David! We raced back to Boston where we found Commonwealth Avenue mobbed with students and parents; Nickerson Field even more so. Eric Holder, the U.S. Attorney General, was the keynote speaker (frankly, a generic speech was given, nothing like Jerry Saltz’s inspiring talk given the preceding day at the CFA convocation) and after the usual pomp and circumstance, the graduates were conferred. These past four years have flown by. She has worked so hard and we feel blessed that she has her degree from the College of Fine Arts. Thank you Boston University! Liv is traveling west for a few weeks and then working as the orchestra librarian at Tanglewood this summer. I don’t know what the future will bring, and with her artistic nature, I am sure she will undergo many transformations. I do know she has the tools to live the beautiful life–determined spirit, passion to create, incredible work ethic, and joie de vie. We are so very proud of our beautiful, musical, and hard-working daughter, and oh so happy for her.