Sunday, May 24, 2015

How do you sell happiness in the age of discontent?

(I swiped the title from a recent episode of Silicon Valley on HBO.)

I'm finding happiness lately in horticulture and I don't care how it makes me sound. So much is blooming, unfurling, releasing and pushing in a diverse palette of greens and bright pastels. It's magic coaxed out of the ground of its own transformative power. And the engagement I feel is priceless.

Thursday, May 21, 2015


That's how many miles I drove to bring my daughter and her possessions back from Eckerd College located in St. Petersburg, Florida. I flew down and picked up a shiny white SUV (thank you Enterprise!) in Tampa and after spending a night visiting an old friend who has relocated there, Sarah and I loaded up her dorm room in short order (thank you daughter for being so organized) the next day and headed north for our five day adventure. I wanted to make some stops along the way and Sarah wanted to see the Atlantic Ocean after being on the Gulf Coast all year- so I took time in advance to plan our route.

On our way out of town we strolled Sunken Gardens and both of us were dazzled by the incredible plantings, the arcade of King Palms and the butterflies dancing from the tops of the trees to the flowers blooming at our waists.

The first night out I chose Brunswick, Georgia after researching online for "the best beaches in Georgia" as it was very close to two recommended beaches that didn't require taking a ferry.  I'm considering becoming an Airbnb host and decided to use that option for this trip. I found a listing for a lovely room in a spacious house with private bath. Approaching Brunswick we crossed the Sidney Lanier Bridge, a stunning feature in the landscape .

Driving to our hosts' home we were overtaken by the charm of Brunswick and when we found our accommodations for the night we both fell in love. The large oak trees carry drifts of Spanish moss and the stately residences and gardens of their neighborhood were a delight. After dinner and exploring  downtown, we sank in to the comfortable bed. The alarm set, our next objective was to get to the beach in the morning before we got on the road again. (What a great first Airbnb experience- thank you Mary Lou!)

Jekyll Island was a revelation. Empty and easy to park early in the morning, we spread our towels on the soft white sand and soaked in the sun, breeze and sound of the ocean. A few dips in the water felt lovely.

Lately I've been considering an eventual move and I wanted to spend a few days in Greensboro, North Caroline to check it out. Our airbnb was located in a residential neighborhood that I wanted to see. Before I left home I connected with local realtor Susan Lowe who showed us a few houses and shared her vast knowledge about Greensboro. I had read about the city's aquatic facility and I got to go inside and check in out when it was in full tilt mode. What an incredible public amenity!! The swimmer in me was in love.

Monday morning we checked out the Greensboro Junior League's Bargain Box shop located downtown. Sarah snared some choice finds and I purchased a few books from their shelves before getting on the highway. I arranged to stop at Spoonflower's offices in Durham on our way north- a printing facility that does incredible work.

I've printed some designs with them (here and here) and wanted to see their operation. Eloisa was kind enough to give us a tour and I was inspired to see all the layers of effort that are involved in their range of products and services. Awesome!

For our last night I had found a couple on Airbnb who rent a vintage Airstream parked under a canopy of trees on their family farm in Virginia located close to the highway. Jocelyn and Josiah Lockhart raise rare and heritage breeds and were really swell hosts.  The Airstream camper proved remarkably comfortable and the dark brought a storm with flashes of lightening that illuminated its interior. We fell asleep to the ping of raindrops hitting the metal roof. Very soothing. My daughter, the animal lover, was in heaven with their dogs and the next morning got to feed a baby sheep. Smiles all around.

One last day of driving brought us home safe and sound to Sleepy Hollow. I returned the car with a full tank and in perfect condition having driven 1551 miles. Somewhat exhausted and relieved to be back I'm grateful it all went as well as it did!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Adviser Tells All

As the youngest member of my family and with four older brothers, there were certain realities of life in the suburbs that were inescapable. I learned what boys like, from listening to sporting events on the radio, to checking out each year's new cars, to perusing (usually alone) any copy of Playboy that you could lay your hands on. My father was not the sort of guy to find Playboy interesting (at least I never found any thing racy when I poked around their room- looking at the effects of the grown-ups in my life). No, there had to have been a more illicit source that allowed this distinct periodical to enter our house (only to be hidden away under a bed or in a drawer). My mother was not particularly nosy, so you would not be found out. She was too busy reading Trollope, or Proust, or Dickens or a pile of mystery novels to pay us a lot of attention. We five kids mostly did the right thing and didn't require all that much minding as I recall.

I did find the stash of Playboys and aside from the very provocative photos of some very lovely ladies wearing little to no clothes, I was fascinated by the  Playboy Adviser who answered readers' intimate questions with a lot of information shared in a frank and unembarrassed tone. My eyes were opened wide to what transpires between consenting adults and as a young teenager, I was completely amazed. So when I came upon a box of old Playboys at a tag sale I had to pick up a few for sentimental reasons. It took me back to a time of true innocence and boundless curiosity. Interesting times in a young girl's life to remember.

Monday, May 11, 2015

In the Resale Lane

I'm not embracing minimalism. Just clearing some space to lighten our rooms. The kitchen serves as location, studio and office as I tackle my list and try to make some art in the process. Wish me luck!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Mother's Day around Here

I had a completely fine Mother's Day. Kept it simple and when you factor in that all three of my children wished me Happy Mother's Day (and one offspring delivered some sweet gifts yesterday with a handmade card), I was content. My husband and I took in the very thought provoking film  Ex Machina and so many flowers are blooming in my yard that I don't really know where to begin.

Making the mashed sweet potatoes for Sunday dinner seemed par for the course. As a mother I have accepted that one of my greater talents is keeping the wheel of our family moving forward- no matter what day it is.