Wednesday, December 28, 2011

New Year's Resolutions

I just read an article in the paper that said you should have those close to you make your New Year’s resolutions, and then work together on periodic progress reports during the year to see that they are achieved.

I gave up making resolutions years ago, as they were always the same and I never followed through with them……….paint each day, be more gregarious, etc., etc.  In general I am quite happy with my life, so don’t feel this great need to change it in anyway.

Now, the question is, what would those close to me suggest for my resolutions?  I am sure the first one would be to not be such a PITA (I am sure you can figure out what this acronym means) about food, clutter, etc.  I am working really hard on this as I have achieved a diet that works for me and I have a house that is clutter-free and I enjoy being in it, so my PITAness comes from trying to make others want to follow my path.

I think another suggested resolution would not to be so critical of others.  I have been working on this one too, and it has been quite successful.  I have overcome many problems in my life and I somehow expect others to do the same.  It doesn’t work that way, and I know it.  I constantly hear my beloved daughter saying “Mom, it is not your concern.”  And this is the voice I am listening to and trying to be more open in my judgment of others.

So, as the New Year approaches, I look forward to a year of many exciting changes (hopefully) for me, and to a better me, that is open to change.  And you, what would those close to you suggest for your New Year’s resolutions?

Saturday, December 24, 2011


                                                   MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Want to Smile?

This is a video that my daughter posted on Facebook of my 6 year old grandson, Eli, when he was 3.  He is always in some sort of outfit, so the gloves and hat are very fitting to his personality.  I laugh every time I watch this.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Are You Warm Enough?

As I sit here right now, I have on a Cuddl Duds long sleeve shirt, a long sleeved cotton shirt over that, and then a turtleneck, an old cashmere crewneck and a wool cardigan.  I do not turn on the heat in my Maine apartment.  Fortunately I am on the second floor, so some of the heat rises from my downstairs neighbor.   Julie’s house is always freezing, so I dress prepared…..seeing the kids running around half naked (or fully) sends shivers through me. 

At my house, I have a wood burning stove, which pretty much heats the entire area that I habitat.  I have a wonderful old wool sweater that Julie brought back from a trip to England that I wear around the house.  It is thick…..when I wash it, it takes days to dry.  It is really an old geezer sweater, but I love it.

One knows whose house is warm and whose house is less warm and whose house is downright freezing,  and dresses accordingly.  With several holiday parties coming up, one must take this into consideration when choosing which outfit to wear.  The worst is when you have dressed for cold and it turns out to be very warm and you have to excuse yourself and go to the bathroom and shed a few layers.

I see they sell fleece sheets in the stores.  The thought of crawling between those on a cold night is appealing…....but wouldn’t you be roasting by 3 AM? 

Monday, December 12, 2011

Small Pleasures

During the night, I was thinking about the small pleasures in life.  What started this line of thinking was I was too hot and I put my leg on the cool side of the bed and it was such a wonderful feeling.  And then my thoughts went to how wonderful that first cup of steaming coffee is in the morning. I got up and got that cup of coffee and am reading my book Rules of Civility by Amor Towles and serendipitously come across this line….

"Whatever setbacks he had faced in his life, he said, however daunting or dispiriting the unfolding of events, he always knew that he would make it through as long as when
he woke in the morning he was looking forward to his first cup of coffee".

And yesterday the day was filled with many small pleasures.  Julie, the kids and I went on the carriage ride around Portland, then had an early supper at Flatbread Company, followed by a drive around Portland to see all the wonderful lights.

It is hard to see the driver, but he was wonderful and it looked as though he frequently stopped for a bit of grog to keep warm.  And oh how hard it is to get 4 kids to smile a natural smile or to get me to not look like I weigh 300 lbs.........those puffy down jackets don't help!

I would love to hear some of your small pleasures.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Friday ramblings........

I just read that the hot new color for 2012 is ORANGE!  I look dreadful in orange.  I love how the fashion industry just decides what color will be the featured one, not taking into account that we all have different coloring.

I remember years ago going with some friends to a “Color Me Beautiful” session where they matched up the best colors for you and assigned you a season.  They would drape big swatches of fabric on you and you could immediately see what looked good and what didn’t. I still have that little folder somewhere with swatches of all the colors that were suited to my coloring. I used to carry it around in my purse.
It doesn’t really matter to me what the new color of the year is, as I do most of my shopping at this Goodwill in Maine where people donate these incredible clothes.  It is fun to get dressed and realize that my entire outfit may have cost me $10.  

OK, let me put on my Goodwill L.L. Bean jacket ($7.99) and take the dog for a walk!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A Mixed Bag

A very busy day yesterday with our annual holiday yoga brunch at my house in the morning and then to a wake for a man that I grew up with who died at age 66 of cancer. 

The brunch was fun with lots and lots of delicious food.  It gave us all a chance to chat more than the usual few minutes before and after class.  I made the dish that Christina mentioned in my blog entry asking for brunch recipes.  It was very good but I couldn’t get the olive loaf, which I am sure would have added a bit of zing to it.

The wake was unbelievable.  My brother came over from Massachusetts to go with me.  There were 11 children in this family so we all were friends/classmates with one of them and it was nice to see his siblings, even though it was a sad occasion.  We waited in line for an hour and a half.  There were hundreds and hundreds of people there.  He was a very charming and gregarious man which was evidence by the attendance.  It really hits you when someone younger than you dies and this has happened far too often in the last months.

On a happier note………..I dabble in watercolors and have made cards and gift tags from my paintings.  While the supply last, I will gladly send my Gray Zone readers a set of my gift tags (specify holiday or general-see picture) if they comment on what they are doing charity-wise this holiday season.  Just email me your address and I will get them in the mail right away.  You can see that I am not expecting an overwhelming response as I think there are about four people at this point who read this blog!

Saturday, December 3, 2011


OK, all you magazine publishers out there.  I want you to send me a renewal notice WHEN my magazine subscription is about to expire.  I don’t want any notices telling me that if I renew now at this special reduced rate, I can get your magazine for the next 2 years.  Nor do I want you to tell me that if I renew now, I can sign up umpteen people for free.  Nope, I want you to send me a notification one month, well, OK, two months before it expires.  I want no other information from you until then…………DO YOU UNDERSTAND?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

I Think It's Thursday........

My daughter, Julie, has been trying desperately to get a Christmas picture with all four kids looking decent or even looking at her.  I LOVE this one and think she should use it and just stick in another picture of the baby.

By the way, if you want to smile, go to her blog and watch the video of the 3 ½ year old telling her age.  I know I know they are my grandchildren and I think they are the cat’s meow, but they can be so amusing.

Otherwise, a foray “out among um” for a few items yesterday about did me in.  Not so much the crowds but that all the aisles are packed with merchandise so you can barely move.  I did get some fake evergreen for $2.45 for my little mantle and my beloved candle chandelier.  This morning Grayling and I gathered some greens from the property and I stuck them in my outside pots.  Just in time as the soil was just about frozen.  I got wreathes from Trader Joe’s for $6.99, so will decorate them with natural materials.  Et voilà, my decorating is almost done.  I don’t normally do a tree, just a few branches with the little lights on them. The reason for getting this done now is, as I mentioned yesterday, I am hosting the annual yoga brunch on Monday.

I have been doing Anusara yoga for the past 10 years with the same teacher and same group of women.  It has been such an incredible balance in my life.  I do it 2-3 times a week and it takes place at my neighbor’s, who very, very generously lets us use a large room in his house.  I am at the point where I don’t know what I would do without yoga.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Recipe Wednesday

I made this recipe when my friend Susan ( came for dinner recently.  She is usually my guinea pig for new recipes.  It was very, very tasty.  I am not one that likes to cook while guests are here, so next time I will do it ahead to the point of sautéing.  The recipe is from Cuisine at Home magazine.

By the way, I am hosting our Annual Yoga Brunch next week.....any ideas for a good, make ahead brunch dish?
Greek Chicken Roulades with white-wine reduction
Look for chicken breasts that are at least six ounces in weight - - they’ll be big enough to hold the filling when pounded thin and rolled. 

Calories: 389 
Makes 2 servings
Total time: 30 minutes

12 pitted kalamata olives, divided
3 Tbsp. fresh bread crumbs (I used whole wheat, seasoned canned ones)
3 Tbsp minced oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
1 Tbsp. minced lemon zest (a Meyer lemon from Susan’s tree!)
2 gloves garlic
1 tsp. dried oregano
2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (6 oz. each), trimmed of fat
2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup diced onion
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 ½ cups low-sodium chicken broth
1Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. cornstarch

Dice 6 olives; set aside. Process remaining 6 olives, bread crumbs, tomatoes, zest, garlic and oregano in a food processor until minced.

Using a meat mallet, pound chicken between plastic wrap to a thickness of 1/4 inch. Spread olive-tomato filling on chicken to within 1/4 inch of the edge of pounded chicken breasts. Roll up chicken to enclose filling, starting at one short end. Use toothpicks to secure chicken rolls.
 Sauté roulades in oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until browned, 4 minutes. Remove chicken to a plate. Add onion to the skillet; sauté 2 minutes. Add wine; cook until liquid is reduced by half, 1-2 minutes. Add broth. Bring mixture to a boil; add diced olives and chicken rolls.

Cover skillet; reduce heat. Simmer chicken rolls 10 minutes; remove chicken to a plate. Whisk together lemon juice and cornstarch; Add cornstarch mixture to liquid in the skillet. Simmer, stirring constantly, until sauce thickens. Simmer for 1 minute. Slice rolls; serve with sauce.

Per service with sauce : 389 cal; 10g total fat (2g sat, 6g mono, 2g poly); 102 mg chol; 770 mg sodium; 19g carb (2g fiber, 5g total sugars); 45g protein; 3 mg iron; 64 mg calcium.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Home Again..............

Here I am back in my rural abode.  When I awakened in the night (or should I say “when I was awakened” by cat walking on my hair!), I could hear some wild animal howling and I thought how the night before in Maine I probably would have heard fire engines or ambulances.

If I were wealthy would I have both places?  No, at age 68 and single, my thinking has changed.  I would love to get another little house, as I am not really an apartment dweller, with a yard for the dog and cat, and a little garden.  I have reached the time in life where I would like to be near my daughter and her family.

So each day when I walk here, I savor my surroundings like a sponge, so I can recall them when I am not here.  I grew up in the mountains so have a particular affinity for them, but have found that being near water is a huge draw too.  I love to watch the sea birds, boats and all.

Here is the view from the walking trail by my house in New York.

 And here is the dog, Grayling, dressed for hunting season.

And here is the park in Maine that I walk to each morning.

Friday, November 25, 2011

From Maine

I am here in my “other” place with my family.  It amazes me that I have had this little apartment for two years.  I am the senior tenant, not only in longevity, but also in age.  And where did those two years go?

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving…..delicious meal, good company.  The only mishap was that the dishwasher broke.  I had said to my daughter, Julie, the day before “Wow, this is a workhorse, what brand is it?”, since they do two full loads a day vs. my possibly two loads a week.  Poof, the next day, having received that compliment, the machine bellied up.  I left them last night with dishes piled sky high.  It reminded me of a Saturday Evening Post cover that I had on my refrigerator for years……..a woman sitting in a kitchen, looking totally exhausted, with dishes piled all around her.  You could see into the living room, the husband sitting in a big old strata lounger, puffing a cigar, watching football on TV.

Today I rearranged furniture in my apartment.  This is a little something I do all the time that has driven a few men in my life bonkers.  I just get bored with the same old, same old, so need a little change.  Unfortunately, it didn’t work out as planned in this two room space, but I was too tired to put it back in its original state.  Maybe next time.
These are my granddaughters………….Zuzanna, “Zuzu”, 3 ½, and Ramona “Mony”, 1 ½.  I will introduce the boys next time.

Enjoy the long weekend everyone.  I have been having trouble with the wifi here so haven’t posted much.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

An Autumn Saturday

I have put off raking leaves for several days now…..too cold, too wet, too windy, are the excuses that I have concocted to avoid this task.  I did send for a leaf tarp which came today.  It is just a 7’ X 7’ tarp with handles at the corners.  I do wish I had gotten a bigger size, but it works very well and in a few hours I was able to make a major dent in this dreaded task.

I remember as a kid loving to rake leaves.  I would go out with my friends and we would make a whole house layout with the leaves and then “play” house.  I don’t remember making huge piles that we would jump in not do I remember burning them.  My father had made these large compost bins where they were deposited, if my memory serves me right.

As a young married, living in suburban New Jersey, I remember inviting our Manhattan friends out on a nice autumn weekend, and they would rake leaves as though it were a unique country experience.  We would then wine and dine them for their efforts.  It was really fun.
But then came the advent of the “leaf blower” and the whole neighborhood would be buzzing for days with these machines.  They finally did put a ban on commercial landscapers doing it on Sundays.  I would never own one of these.

But today’s leaf raking turned out not to be a dreaded task at all, but a very pleasant one.  It was a beautiful day and I would stop and contemplate the beauty of the mountains.  No one was around, as most of my neighbors are weekend people and were not here.  The hunters (first day of rifle season) had yet to exit the mountains.  It was a good day.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Misc. Friday........

I am going through a bit of “blog block” as I read everyone else’s and find them so good and interesting.  This is also why I have such trouble when I take art classes as I will invariably sit next to someone who is fantastic and become totally paralyzed.  But I am going to continue on with my blog and get in the cadence of it………..

Recently, in the November issue of Country Living a wrought iron candle chandelier was highlighted for $16.95.  I have always wanted one, mainly as the lighting in my dining room is via lamps only, there is no overhead light.  I ordered it ( and it came in a day.  It is very well made and very much a bargain for $16.95.

Did I mention that my ceiling is 12’ at its highest point?  Did I mention that I live alone and that when I want something done I get impatient if I have to wait for help, so take it on myself?  I have completed many a death defying act because of this impatience.  Well, this proved easier than I expected although I did have to stand on the next to the top rung of my 8’ stepladder.  Here is the result……………..

Can't you just see some holly wrapped around the chandelier for Christmas?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

What Are You Reading?

In my old Gray Zone newsletter, I would always list what I was reading.  I love to read, always have.  As a kid, it was my great escape. As a parent, I always read to my daughter.  We would go to the library a couple of times a week.  She in turn reads to her kids all the time and her oldest (age 8) can usually be found under a table, or in a corner, reading.

Recently I started reading mysteries.  Many of my friends read these and I see shelves and shelves of them in the library.  I started with Louise Penny and read all hers, but could see as time went on, there was a publisher there pushing her to quickly get out another one.  Her last one wasn’t as good as the others. 

Someone recommended Charles Todd’s Ian Rutledge mysteries.  These got tiring after awhile as Ian never seemed to grow, even though he had had a breakdown after WWI.  The interesting part about these books is the time period which, was pre DNA and forensic technology, so the mysteries are solved on clues alone.  I would love some good mystery recommendations.

I usually have two or three books going….a non-fiction, a fiction, and something light to read before I go to bed.  Right now I am reading Henry Miller’s The Colossus of Maroussi, Gail Levin’s Edward Hopper: An Intimate Biography and Charles Todd’s The Red Door.  The library just called and said two books I had requested are in - In the Skin of a Lion by Michael Ondaatje and The Newton Letter by John Banville.  This will keep me occupied in Maine next week.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Trying to Keep Up...

I am not really a “Facebook” person but I belong to Facebook.  I originally joined as my daughter ( had posted pictures of the grandkids.  I must say I look upon it more as an anthropological study.  It surprises me that I have even started a blog.  And yet if you took my computer away from me, I would go through total withdrawal.

The one thing that fascinates me about the technological world is that one can carry on their social life while at work.  Recently I was walking in a park in Maine and a public worker was mowing the lawn, a young man.  He stopped every two minutes to text.  Not yet being a Maine taxpayer, I just observed, but had I been one, I might have said something to him.  Or the other side of this is someone who hadn’t gone to work because they were sick (a migraine no less) and yet I saw several Facebook postings from them on that day.  I guess if it doesn’t affect me directly, I shouldn’t care.  It is just when I think of these incidents compounded, it gives me pause.

Years ago, I worked with a man who had been out on disability for several weeks, possibly longer than necessary.  One day he gets a call from the boss who says he would like to come and visit him.  “Sure” he replies.  “When would you like to come?”  “We are right around the corner from your house now” was the reply.  This was when cell phones were just out and few people even had them.  My colleague quickly got down off the ladder as he was painting a room and retreated and reclined on the couch.

As one gets older, it takes time to get used to new things.  My biggest fear is that if I don’t keep up with things as they come along, I will be in big trouble down the road.  Plus I don’t want my grandkids to call me a troglodyte.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Still Adjusting to the Time Change

After walking across my head for half an hour, the cat finally arouses me, in a bit of a rage I might add (me, not the cat – he is quite pleased).  It is 4:30 AM!
As I sit down with my cereal and coffee to read, I look out and see the moon.  Now, if I didn’t know it was 4:30 AM, I would think it was the middle of the night…but slowly the day unfolds.  I actually love the very early morning, I just don’t like to be awakened in such a fashion.
I love the morning to read, which I do for about an hour.  Usually yesterday’s paper but since there was no mail yesterday, I settle for an old New Yorker from October that a friend gave me.  A wonderful article by Atul Gawande on having a coach(es) help you to top your skills.  Gawande called in a retired colleague to help him better his surgical skills; he highlights a teacher who had coaches help her better her teaching skills.  Gawande is a wonderful writer and always seems to be thinking of ways to make things better, i.e., “The Checklist Manifesto”. I highly recommend any of his books.

Friday, November 11, 2011

How I got started............

Back in 2004, I started a monthly newsletter called The Gray Zone.  The title not only referring to the mop on top of my head, but also that hazy area I found myself my 60's, not feeling old, but not feeling young either. Not ready to launch into the elastic waisted polyesters, but also not wanting to wear jeans with a fly 1 1/4" long! "The Gray Zone".
I had quite a following.  The newsletter included my musings as well as books I was reading, good food I was making, and movies I was watching.  As time went on, I spent less and less time on the newsletter and monthly became bimonthly, then quarterly, etc.  Yet, I still found myself composing articles in my head as I walk each thus, I am starting this blog.