Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Diversions and Transgressions’ Category

With only some regret, I’ve pulled the last of the tomatillo plants. And just tonight, while a handful of hot peppers are still turning orange on my windowsill, the last of the kale was consumed. Next year, I plant smarter, tend smarter, hopefully cook smarter and eat smarter. That’s what they all say! No traffic jams in the kitchen! Hah!

In any case, it’s almost time to put the garden to bed, and yet I keep finding the most interesting things out there.

I especially like this time of year for its odd mix of hope and resignation. I am relieved and delighted to see that the dogwood I planted just this year survived the drought and indeed has buds that I hope to witness in full flower next spring. If this baby tree had not survived, I would have been put in the awkward position of having a cosmic discussion with the Golden Retriever-in-a-can that I’d planted with it.

Likewise, the rhododendrons have buds, and the little peach tree, in spite of having lost all its fruit shortly after I planted it, seems to be healthy and willing. Sometimes it is wise to hunker down and focus on setting roots, even if it means passing on the flashy stuff.

As I walk in the woods and tidy the garden these days, I remember that there are things that are beautifully and inextricably entwined with their own decay.

It’s a good time of year to share a meal with friends, to visit children and aging parents. It is a good time of year to contemplate the dying and turn toward the living.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

My life improved dramatically the day Mr. G moved in.

If you are a violin restorer, you probably have all the clamps required to make a violin, plus a plethora of other specialty gadgets for holding and clamping every finished part of an entirely curvaceous instrument. Multiply this by x if you work on cellos, too. If you work on viols, you are probably smart to specialize and outfit accordingly. If you work on basses, there is no hope. Usually the violin clamps work for violas, but the cello clamps are, of course, a lot bigger, generally used less frequently, and that much more of a pain to store.

One truism of violin making/restoring seems to be that there are never enough clamps. At least that’s the way it always feels. My answer to this mental state (besides buying more clamps) is to make sure that the ones I have are accessible. Even that thing that I use maybe once every three years. Even that thing I bought because it looked like a good idea at the time, but I still haven’t used it. If I were to put it REALLY away, I would forget that I have it, and then I would need it. And, having forgotten all about it, I would have to suffer hearing myself whine, yet again, about not having enough clamps.

So when I saw Mr. G in a fancy woodworker’s catalog, I thought: “He ain’t cheap, but he might be worth it”! The big question was: “Are we truly a good fit”? Well, Mr. G has exceeded my expectations, so I think I’ll keep him.

I know it would be hard for the general public to understand what’s at issue here. So here is a sampling of some of the clamps I use  on a regular basis:

Now imagine a pile of these oddly shaped objects jamming up your drawers:

I like neat. And I like being able to pick up one clamp up at a time, without a snaggly bunch of hangers-on coming along for the ride. And that’s why Mr G and I get along so well. Look at this:


And this:

And this:

Wait, I’m not done…this:

And finally, this:

Yeehaaw! That just about takes care of everything. ‘Til death do us part!

Did I mention he comes with wheels and is great at holding a glue pot?

Read Full Post »

Yesterday I delivered a bunch of home grown veggies to my neighbors. I was grateful for the short term loan of a dehydrator, with which I dried my first batch of Principe Borghese tomatoes. I look forward to committing these little red gems to olive oil and herbs, probably sometime in January or February, when a hit of summer will be ever so much more effective than the latest designer “pick-me-up.”

So my thanks to M and her partner T, with whom I remarked about how this summer seemed to be  unusually difficult for many of us. I say was, because we have just been kissed by our impetuous lover (if you live in New England), Autumn. Yes, the temperature dipped below 60〫F just the other night. In New England we love and hate the weather. It is unreliable – glorious and disappointing in turn.

For the better part of the summer we have been looking at this:
I did not mow the grass during the month of July. And while that would seem like a strange gift of time otherwise unallocated, the “brown out” has, overall, been a serious downer. I’ve been thinking about my first year in this house – only last spring/summer, really – in which I sweated through a dramatic late winter thaw that flooded the basement, a nearby spring tornado, an almost unheard of East Coast earthquake, Hurricane Irene, and a devastating late October snowstorm that downed trees still dressed in showy yellow, red  and orange foliage. The aftermath of that last storm inhibited mobility, left thousands without power for days and caused several deaths including the old lady up the street, who died wrapped in a blanket, in a comfortable chair, because she would not leave her 45 〫F house.

For me, the weather events of 2011 were all near misses. Still, I admit to becoming weather shy. Maybe it is a function of my age, or of circumstance. I am a newcomer to this community. In any case, as this dry, dry weather seems to take a needed turn, it is a joy to be sharing the bounty of a summer salvaged by care and diligence:

Read Full Post »

If you are here because you’ve just visited my website, you might be wondering about Buggy.

Official entry name “Bugzilla” lost mightily in the 2012 Great Holyoke Brick Race. Not surprising given the level of ingenuity and enthusiasm gone into sending those bricks on (mostly) wheels careening down the ramp on Race St, in Holyoke, MA USA on June 9, 2012.

http://papercitystudios.wordpress.com/the-great-holyoke-brick-race/

 

See Buggy’s back end on the far right.

However, the fastest bricks were not necessarily the most notable (imho – ok, I ‘fess up – I lean toward the “be” end of the “be-do” spectrum). For instance, the rolling, bumping  brick in a ball of ice was a dark horse of epic proportion. It was and did, at least for a while. And the brick with loaf of bread – like a still life gone AWOL, well mostly it was, but kind of failed at the do part (ie it didn’t). “Cyclops” and “Grendel” made an appearance -be-ers or do-ers? Maybe you, and hopefully they, will have to show up next year to find out.

It was fairly predictable that Buggy would not get an award for speed. But Buggy gets my vote, because she’s made out of my kinda junk!

Okay, the brick came from the backyard and the wheels from an old pair of skates, but otherwise the wooden bits are all salvaged from the pile of crappy instrument parts that I can’t seem to ditch. I only had to kill one cello top that was lurking in the attic, three warped junky bows too short for tomato stakes, a violin scroll that the maker should have been ashamed of, and my own beautifully cut, but unfortunately no-longer-applicable violin bridge. I consider this experience a great success because Buggy:

1. survived two runs down the ramp
2. did not burn up upon reentry
3. inspired a $10 donation to Goodwill (skates)
4. incited a dopamine riot
5. remained intact to tell the story
6. made some friends
7. and proved, yet again, what a fun and funky place Holyoke is.

Buggy, btw, when not retrieving mail, spends her days lounging on the porch or lurking in the shadows as she likes. She is not allowed on the couch.

See you next year!

(Cyclops was a be-er, Grendel, definitely a do-er).

Read Full Post »

Possibly the best thing I ever brought home from my visits to Italy:

I had my first spritz in Venice, in a bar at Piazza San Marco. I observed city workers in yellow safety gear and large rubber boots stopping in after their day’s shift to down a tall icy wine glass full of something I had to try. I was traveling solo and so it was all up to me to make this educational experience happen. I was motivated.

Some kind of sketchy Italian combined with some sketchy English and a few minutes later I had myself an Aperol spritz and a new best friend. I had opted for bitter, rather than sweet and I’m still not sure what the sweet option would be – maybe Campari, or maybe more of what I was offered on the train platform in Florence (that’s another story)!

I’m a little embarrassed that I’ve had to (cough!)google the proportions of Aperol, prosecco and seltzer. Then there is the issue of a slice of orange? like I had in Venice? or a green olive, as is recommended in some foody travel blog I read once (maybe they know something)? Personally, I prefer both. A slice of orange grabs your nose as you go for the dive, and the olive is that opening to another dimension as you come up for air.

By the way, a spritz is readily available in Cremona as well (this is a violin related blog), where I’ve had it served in the early evenings with a bowl of pistachios and/or a bowl of potato chips. I think it’s a northern Italian thing. Say “Aperol spritz, per favore”.

2 oz prosecco

1 1/2 oz Aperol

dash seltzer

orange slice, green olive and lots of ice

*note: be sure to add the Aperol last, after the seltzer and prosecco so that it diffuses nicely in the glass, rather than sitting at the bottom.

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts

%d bloggers like this: