Sunday, July 25, 2010

Waking Up

"This terrifying world is not devoid of charms, 
of the mornings that make waking up worthwhile."
~Wislawa Szymborska

Hope you are having many such mornings this summer.  I am taking a short break from boxes and bubble wrap to check in.  One week to the move, and many details are falling into place while others just buzz around my head like nagging houseflies.  If I were a better blogger I'd be photographing the proper method of wrapping a Limoges set for transport or listing 25 creative ways to use up relish and other refrigerator condiments, but I am so not that blogger.  

Instead I'll tell you that I'm praying for a break in the heat before next weekend and that I am mostly excited--alternating with bouts of deep mood indigo and occasional swings into panic.  Ah, moving.  

By the way, the above photo is from a recent visit to my mother's house.  I woke up in my childhood bedroom one morning to see sunlight streaming in.  Contrary to how it may seem, I don't normally sleep with my camera, but it happened to be on the table beside me that morning, so I adjusted the settings and focus as best I could through bleary eyes, and snapped.  It's by no means a perfect photo, but it captures exactly how I felt that morning--and quite a bit of how I feel about returning to my home state to live after almost two decades away: nostalgic, hopeful, relieved, and a little disoriented.  Not quite Alice down the rabbit hole, but not exactly everyday reality either.

Wishing you a day of adventures and enticing charms.  

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Boxes, Books, Boots, and Cats

This morning, halfway through forcing a shelf's worth of poetry books to fit like a Chinese puzzle inside an old pinot noir box, it suddenly hit me: I'm moving again.  How many times have I packed these same books into the handy castoffs of a local liquor store?  Six?  Seven?  And how many times have I vowed that this will be the last time I do this for a very long while?  Maybe two.  The last vow came five years ago, but life since then has been a roller coaster with a lot of stomach-lurching drops and upside-down swoops.  It is definitely time to move--move on, move away, move back to a place we adore to be near people we love.  Most (maybe all) moves I've ever made have been for jobs or school.  This one is for love.  

We're hoping the cats will love their new home, too.  Maybe even Scout.  Anyone who knows Scout knows that she is a challenge.  I have a spot in the sunshine all picked out for her daybed, but I suspect she'll also want a dark nook in the farthest reaches of the closet in my study.  A girl needs spots to suit her changing moods, so I will do my best to accommodate Miss Scout's needs.  

And speaking of closets, I wish I could build one just for our cowboy boots.  We don't own a lot of clothing, and I don't have all that many pairs of shoes, but we do own a pair or two (or twelve) of boots.  I'm thinking of transforming one of our bookcases into a display for them.  They're too pretty to stow away, plus Scout needs closet space for her dark-mood bed.  

I've been missing my blog rounds this month.  Once we're settled into the new place, I'll be back to a more normal schedule again.  Thanks for being patient with me.  xo Gigi

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Love Nest

Every summer, my husband, my mother, and I begin our annual search for that year's very best fried clams.  We take our quest seriously, for we don't just love fried clams, we adore them.  And we're picky about where we get them and how they're made.  We don't like them dipped in batter.  It's crumbs all the way with us.  And never clam strips.  It's the whole clam, belly and all, or nothing.  
We have a few favorite fried clam haunts.  Some of them are locals-only places; a few are more well known to tourists, but still amazing.  The Love Nest at the Five Islands Lobster Co. is one of the latter.  In fact, here you'll find some of the freshest, tastiest clams in New England.  And the ambience can't be beat.
I grew up just a few miles down the road from the Love Nest, and I can attest that it's a great place for lobster, but for me, nothing tastes more like summer than a fried clam basket.  
And yes, that's a Moxie.  You know me and my love for Moxie.  I don't usually eat fried food or drink soda, but I make an exception every now and then for this meal.  So we walk an extra mile or two the next day.  With views like the one below, even on a socked-in day, it's all worth it.
And then there's the ride home, comparing notes on the sweet and briny clams, the crunch of their crumb coating, the tangy zest of the homemade tartar sauce.  As the sun sets, the clouds lift, and suddenly the evening seems filled with expectation and the promise of an endless summer.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Porch Dreaming

Found here

Soon Mr. Magpie and I will be flying to a new nest.  We aren't selling our old one for now--just renting it out for a year or two until (hopefully) the market improves for selling.  And we're not buying a new place.  Instead, we've rented out the second floor of a massive old brick Victorian right in the heart of one of our favorite neighborhoods in the whole wide world.  Coffee shops, used book stores, yarn and fabric shops, restaurants, bakeries, and other inspiring places abound.  We're just a few blocks to the ocean and to miles and miles of hiking and biking trails.  We can barely wait!

One of the best things about the new place is a glassed-in sunporch right off our bedroom and living room.  You step up into the porch, which is painted all white, including its brick wall, and it has an old, honey-colored hardwood floor.  We plan to use it for lounging, growing plants, eating lazy Sunday breakfasts, and maybe even sleeping sometimes.  I have always wanted a sleeping porch, and this one might just fit the bill.  

So, I'm dreaming about porch decor until August when we move in.  Here are a few ideas that have inspired me online.  Have any favorites?

Found here
Found here

Found here

Found here
Found here
This post makes me feel like I need a nap!  xo Gigi

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy Fourth of July!

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, 
that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, 
that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Thomas Jefferson wrote a brilliant document.  I mean it is rhetorically brilliant, full of powerful  repetition, variation, and meter.  And more importantly, this brilliant form embodies a message that is clear 
and audacious 
and profound.  

To break free from an oppressive government and start anew, to know that life can be better and to fight to make it so, to be willing to risk everything to ensure that the rights of all citizens are protected--well, I feel grateful every day that our forefathers had such vision and strength.  As I read through the Declaration of Independence, I cannot imagine a world without this document.  These were not perfect people, and while their vision did not include blacks or women, it laid the foundation for the development of a nation and a constitution that would come to recognize that all people must be afforded these same unalienable rights.  Have we accomplished this yet in the United States of America?   Certainly not.  In fact, since 9/11, we have seen the erosion of many basic rights in this country in the name of protecting our borders, but as Benjamin Franklin wrote, "He who sacrifices freedom for security deserves neither."    

Today I am thankful for our founding fathers and mothers; I am thankful for the men and women who serve in the military; I am thankful for those who fight against tyranny of thought and action; I am thankful for the teachers who serve our nation by educating its youth; I am thankful to people who fight to ensure fundamental intellectual freedoms, including the freedom to dissent.  Often in America we conflate democracy and capitalism, as if our form of government and our economic system are one and the same concept.  But democracy isn't about the freedom to buy cheap towels at Walmart or to have 75 different scents to choose from at Yankee Candle.  Democracy needs an active and educated citizenry.  Literacy is on the decline in the U.S. (and throughout much of the world).  I know this not only because I read dire statistics and articles about this fact on a regular basis, but because I have taught for many years and because I have worked as an adult literacy tutor.  The less literate we are, the less capable we are of participating in our democratic system at the local, state, or national level.  Education is not  only about training for a job.  Jobs come and go.  These days, they seem to go more than they come.  There is something more essential that education offers us.  It is about becoming empowered to think and act for ourselves.  It is about asking questions, arguing, recognizing injustice and speaking out against it.  It is about the joy of learning and of being a strong individual as well as an active citizen.  A strong democracy depends upon it.

The signers of the Declaration of Independence were smart and brave; the militiamen who fought one year earlier in the Battles of Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775 were smart and brave; the suffragists who fought to win women the right to vote were smart and brave; the civil rights leaders of the 1960's were smart and brave.  We, too, need to be smart and brave. Jefferson knew it was not enough to believe that the rights of Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness were inalienable; we must assert that they are, again and again, and we must actively ensure that these rights of our fellow citizens and ourselves are protected.  If we think of democracy as a living thing and not a static concept, then it becomes easier to understand that, like a garden, democracy must be tended and nurtured.  I, for one, hope that over time I can become a better gardener.   

To my US friends, here's hoping you have a beautiful July Fourth.  Oh, and speaking of capitalism, while I know the above photo that I took last night just before sunset looks suspiciously like a Chevy commercial, I couldn't resist it.  As I said in yesterday's post,  we're back on the island this week, and the mood here is decidedly laid back and celebratory.  These folks were having a great time riding around the island.  That light alternating with long shadows across the road and illuminating the tree trunks just called out for a photo.  


Saturday, July 3, 2010

Paella on Peaks Island, Posies, and a Peek

There is much to tell.  Some of it will have to wait, even though I am bursting at the seams.  First, let me say how much I miss you.  Soon I will be free to come for visits and reads and chats.  For now, I'm keeping up when and where I can.  

One nice piece of good fortune is that we are back on the island where we lived for four months last fall.  We're just here for a week, but a blissful one spent at the home of friends.  The paella above was made by our friend Ed the first night we were here.  It was the best paella I've ever tasted.  I suspect that part of the pleasure stemmed from Ed's considerable culinary skills and part from the fact that we were eating it here on the island.  I would be sad that we are only staying here for a week were it not for the fact that . . .

. . . soon we will be living just a 15-minute ferry ride from here.  Very soon.  More details on that coming shortly, but for now, a peek above at some lovely posies I picked today while gardening at our friends' home, and a peek below at our new neighborhood.  Yes, that's Mr. Magpie looking in the windows.  
And finally, a quote that has been our guiding force of late: 

Risk! Risk anything! Care no more for the opinion of others, for those voices. Do the hardest thing on earth for you. Act for yourself. Face the truth.
~Katherine Mansfield

Hope you are well.  Island photos to come in the next day or so!  To my US friends, have a happy and safe 4th of July!