23 posts categorized "Home"

It's about all of our tracks


Changing the landscape; our shiny new porch / New Jersey / Oct. 2008


a few hectares
of the land our own piece
of the planet in the cadastre register
that sounds really good
speaks of our verve
and exceptional pleasure
we are changing the landscape
we are holding it carefully and
courageously in our arms
walking we are turning the planet
with our legs because our piece
is not just a delineated plot of land
it’s about all of our tracks
path cardiograms we are leaving
on the very heart of the landscape
in the soil under our fingernails
on our fingernails under the ground

~ Croatian poet Slađan Lipovec (from: Rijeke i mjesečine)

Hang out on the line


Clothes last longer. Where do you think lint comes from? * / New Jersey / Sept. 2008

The dryer has stopped drying. So a make-shift clothesline goes up. There is something comforting and alive about a full clothesline. The late September sun is so strong that the dishtowels seemingly dry in minutes.

* One of the top 10 reasons to hang your clothes out to dry from Project Laundry List. They advocate "making air-drying your laundry acceptable and desirable as a simple and effective way to save energy." Another good reason to "hang out": Sunlight bleaches and disinfects. And: It is an outdoor experience that is meditative.

Calm down


A Luxardo Maraschino toast to the refurbished porch posts (at least two of them are over 100 years old) / New Jersey / a cool September evening 2008

Calm down. Both your sins and your good deeds will be lost in oblivion.

~ Czeslaw Milosz

... and speaking of oblivion ... $85 billion dollars to bail out a company built on risk and paper? (... not to mention the millions-of-dollars-bonuses these "leaders" got every year)  ... why not $85 billion dollars toward sustainable energy sources or health care or a thousand other things that would improve the world? ... they say they had to do it to protect the economy from another blow ... well maybe the economy needs another blow to set it straight -- kind of like when you're feeling sick for a while, but when you finally throw up you feel better ... OK, I need to calm down now ... pour me another glass of Maraschino...

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The cardinal's kingdom


Overseeing his kingdom / New Jersey / June 2007

I've been seeing a lot of cardinals in the yard. Yesterday afternoon I saw a female cardinal head straight for the birdhouse that sits just to the right of what you can see in this picture (exactly where this cardinal is looking). As soon as she got there, a cacophony of sound erupted from inside the house -- I think there is a whole brood of hungry young cardinals in residence there.

Saffron Marigold


Saffron Marigold Midnight Lotus Sheer Curtain Panels / April 2007

After seeing the movie The Namesake, I couldn't get the images of Indian textiles out of my head -- their colors, patterns, and vibrancy. I searched online, and discovered Saffron Marigold, a company that sells home furnishings that are block-printed by hand in India. Shesham wood is hand-carved to make the blocks and each design may use from 3 to 30 blocks. Pigment dyes are used with the blocks to produce the luminous colors (read the full description here). I purchased two sheer curtain panels and they arrived in a beautiful package from Mumbai in five days (and the company didn't charge my credit card until they'd heard that I'd received the curtains -- how often does that happen?!). The ethereal white lotus blossoms floating on deep cobalt blue waters make my kitchen glow.


"The lotus, in which the gods discovered their grace and majesty ..."


To Johnson City, Tennessee


My steps were made from Appalachian Soft Textured Oak by the Miller Brothers Company, Johnson City, Tennessee / Feb. 2007

Paulo is taking up each of the stair treads and sanding them. He found this label on the back of one. According to the Miller Family Papers at East Tennessee State University, Elbert Haynes Miller and W. H. Miller formed two successful Johnson City businesses with other members of their family: The Miller Brothers Lumber Company and Central Tobacco Warehouse. What caught my eye was “Johnson City, Tennessee” -- immediately the lyrics to the family-favorite Old Crow Medicine Show song Wagon Wheel popped into my head: Walkin' to the south out of Roanoke / I caught a trucker out of Philly / Had a nice long toke / But he's a headed west from the Cumberland Gap / To Johnson City, Tennessee. Here they are performing the song on the Woodsongs Old Time Radio Hour:

Turns out that Johnson City was known as a hotbed for old-time music and was the site of a Columbia Records recording session in 1928 known as the “Johnson City Sessions” (Fiddlin’ Charlie Bowman was one of the most famous participants; recordings from the Johnson City Sessions are rare). See a postcard image of the Miller Brothers plant after the jump.

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We must step up the Stairs


Steps in Transition / New Jersey / January 2007

The carpet that had encased the steps has been removed revealing beautiful, if somewhat beat-up, oak treads. The balusters and handrail are gone leaving big holes behind. The bottom step has been sacrificed for more floor space.

The vision must be followed by the venture. It is not enough to stare up the steps -- we must step up the stairs.
        - Vance Havner (American Baptist preacher)

Disavow Inauthentic Simplicity


Late Fall Afternoon Sun / Charlottesville, VA / October 2005

One of my favorite sections of the paper is House & Home in the Thursday New York Times. This past week they did a story on Dan Ho who has written a book called Rescue From Domestic Perfection. I love his philosophy. He has "downsized" his life from a 1,200 square foot house to a rented apartment in Greenwich Village that is one-quarter that size and his message is basically that we don't need all the stuff that we're told we do. "At the core of his philosophy is the belief that our relentless attention to renovation and reorganizing, to building and rebuilding, distracts us from the more demanding work of becoming better partners, caretakers and friends. Style in Mr. Ho's view, is unstudied, capricious." (NYTimes, Thursday, Oct. 19, 2006, p. F1)

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Outside a Connection to the Unknown


Plates on the "buffet" waiting to be filled with cheese, crackers, pineapple, pears, pepperoni bread, and Mom's stuffed mushrooms, spinach balls, and relish cheese / October 2006

This past Friday night was cool and crisp. The temperature had dropped about 30 degrees from the day before. The girls came over for wine and cheese and fruit and talk and then we strolled uptown to the Art Walk where we browsed in the shops and saw some wonderful artists like the ceramics of Jenny Davies-Reazor (she makes beautiful, unique tiles and ceramic shrines). We all enjoyed the walk and being out in the fresh air. It reminded me of why Halloween used to be my favorite celebration. Not because of costumes or candy, but because we went walking around at night by ourselves. Outside it smelled like fall, the leaves crunched underfoot and blew around as we walked the streets, and on that night there seemed to be something extraordinary in the air -- a connection to the unknown and the mysterious.