June 11, 2015 § Leave a comment
Just got to the beach, solo as Mr. H is at a conference. I left the city at exactly the wrong time and almost four hours later I arrived. A-dog got sick in his crate, O-dog was generally annoyed and my butt and feet were throbbing from being seated for that long and the possibly inappropriate footwear I choose to drive in. Alas, the evening was rescued by this week’s flower haul, that among other things, resulted in this little lovely. I look forward to eating a late breakfast in front of it in the morning.
(Photo: Some Cozy Night)
June 9, 2015 § 2 Comments
As a Christmas present this year, I gave Mr. H a trip to the Grand Staircase in hopes of seeing the desert and an incredible night sky. We went this past April and while we didn’t see as many (okay, any) stars on account of cloud cover, there were many things that must be shared.
After a longish day of travel, we arrived at a rather remote town twenty minutes outside of Page, AZ, in Utah. The traveler in me wanted to get out right away and hike, but the girl in me won and we had lunch and took a nap out on the patio of our room with a view. (I may have also had a massage.)
But the next day, at around 7AM, we were up and ready for our first adventure: A tour of some local Slot Canyons. “What are those” you ask? I had the same question. And according to Wikipedia, a Slot Canyon “is a narrow canyon, formed by the wear of water rushing through rock. They are significantly deeper than wide. Some slot canyons can measure less than 1 metre across at the top but drop more than 30 metres to the floor of the canyon.”
I think Wikipedia is kind of missing the point in its accurate but dry entry. THESE are slot canyons, and I am thinking it takes A LOT of water rushing through to create them…
So we are already at truly beautiful, but do you see the top of that ladder? You must climb down into the canyon and then you get to walk around this…
Pretty wonderful and honestly like nothing I have ever seen before.
As you would imagine, walking around these for a few hours can stir up a girl’s appetite, so it was back to the resort for lunch and then a hike around the preserve there…
Rather grand from far away, and yet totally different as we kept moving upwards. When we arrived at the top of the main mesa we were climbing, it was like being on the moon (as I imagine it, as least)…
Very cool. (And I am fairly certain that much of this is also created by “the wear of water” — there are monsoons in this part of the country twice a year.) Also, very grand, but there are also smaller moments to be enjoyed…
You know what they say about the desert being dusty as well as cold at night? It is true. Extremely true. So after this hike, I was cold and in need of a single malt and a bath. So a tipple and a bath commenced, followed by dinner and an early bedtime since the next day we were off to the Grand Canyon at 6:30AM. All I kept thinking was that this better be good. It was…
So this is where we had lunch…it seemed a little wrong to chew around all of this, but you know, I did. And it was fantastic.
It was also cold and rainy! So after we got back — it was almost a three hour drive both ways — there was a little more single malt for its warming properties and another massage. Much needed because the next day was Bryce Canyon at 7AM. It was still cold and rainy, but off we went…
We walked down to the bottom and then back up to the top. It was completely different from the other places we had been and let’s just say a very good workout. And an excellent last stop.
Next morning, we were off into the clouds…
And circling the city…
And finally back home…
Which was definitely not the desert. And while I was thrilled to have visited, I was also quite happy to be home.
(Photos: Some Cozy Night)
June 2, 2015 § Leave a comment
It is 55 and drizzly in New York and thank heavens, Florence and the Machine have released their third record: How Big, How Blue, How, Beautiful. And my initial, totally unprofessional assessment is that it is great. Early favorites include “Ship to Wreck”, “Third Eye” (infectious), and “What Kind of Man”. While I patiently wait for the new Frank Ocean and need a little break from Kendrick Lamar’s latest (while excellent), this is just the ticket!
May 30, 2015 § Leave a comment
Behold the yummiest face mask I’ve ever had the pleasure of using. I had been reading about Fresh’s Sugar Face Polish for some time now, but was always worried that it would be a little too harsh on my skin. I cannot remember what turned me, but holy cow — this stuff is great. Light exfoliation with super moisturization (is that a word?) and it tastes like creamed butter and sugar. Need I go on? If you on the market for a new mask and are too terrified to try the SK-II ones (I am not so sure that it won’t cause a claustrophobic episode), give this one a whirl.
(Photo: Some Cozy Night)
May 25, 2015 § 2 Comments
OK, that title is a bit of a stretch, as the topic is simply running (and meditation tossed in for some additional Personal Growth). But here is my story, so far… Last fall, I finally owned up to the fact that while running and at other times, my shoulder was going numb, which would be followed by intense pain that could last for days. This was going on for at least six months…probably longer…but I finally was in enough pain to know that I needed to act. So I saw a somewhat unsympathetic (I think he was disappointed that I wasn’t a more interesting patient) but very good sports physician about the whole affair. Turns out, my neck is a bit of a mess and all that running I’ve been trying to do (I am still glacially slow) was making it far worse. There were painkillers, x-rays and the thing I dreaded most: physical therapy. What there wasn’t was running. I was benched before I even got good. But the Doctor’s hope was that I could get back to it in several months. And after another horrid winter and months of not feeling too much pain, it looked like this last Sunday: How could I not give it a go? So I put on my running shoes — plus sunblock — and off I went in hopes of reaching the beach before sunset. (Note: This is only two miles, but I felt the need to calibrate.) It wasn’t especially easy, but the lilacs were in full bloom and scented my way while I was busy keeping my shoulders down, neck relaxed and body upright (all things learned at PT…and all harder than you would think.) After what seemed like forever, I reached my destination: And I could not have been happier. The beach was not at all busy, or too cold, or really anything but perfect. So I sat down for a spell and worked on another thing I’ve been avoiding, my LovingKindness* meditation — an exercise that I find even harder than running sometimes. As I write about it now, I do find it interesting that both running and this practice sort of require that you be gentle with yourself, but not at the expense of being persistent. So like me to try to improve both at once. Someday maybe I will give it a rest….but not at the moment, it seems. ANYWAY…we arrived back at the beach for the holiday weekend on Wednesday night and after one rainy day, I was back at it — running and LovingKindness — on Friday, and then Saturday, and yesterday and today. My plan is to do it all week out here and see how it goes. So far, so good. I am finding that doing this almost daily is making the lows less awful and the highs a touch more elevated. And then of course there are the little treats along the way… It seems sometimes as if every bit of non-protected land out here is being overbuilt, but there are still places where other creatures rule. And the horse farms do make me happy. And as we move from late spring to full-on summer, the honeysuckle blankets anything that will have it, making taking a good, deep breath even more rewarding. (And really, this all requires a lot of breathing…very glad not to be in the city during this experiment.) I could look at the dunes forever. Aside from being beautiful, they are also rather fragile and in need of care and consideration. Which, as you are working on your LovingKindness and trying to heal your body, you start seeing in a new light. Not in a bad or needy on inconvenient way, which is a very easy place to find yourself when confronted with things that are delicate and in need of care. But for me at least, in a way that speaks to how it is best to treat yourself and others around you — with patience, understanding, persistence and love. xx * Here is a link for more information, but my go-to guy is Jack Kornfield for these endeavors. http://www.contemplativemind.org/practices/tree/loving-kindness (Photos: Some Cozy Night)
January 24, 2015 § Leave a comment
Heavens, it snowed last night! So this is looking like an Indoor Day. As such, it only makes sense to get my picks for the best records of 2014 down, with “pairings” should you decide to have a little something while you are listening:
D’Angelo and The Vanguard: Black Messiah
Released late last year, this was, I think, the best record I heard in 2014. Heavily influenced by Prince, Marvin Gaye and others, it has its own complex sound that requires multiple listens even though it sounds like record you’ve always had a few tracks in. When I worked in the music industry, D’Angelo was on a rapid rise, but I somehow had never listened to him and then he was on a ten-year hiatus. I was missing out. He is the real deal. And this is meant to be listed to as a piece. Get a glass of wine — make that a healthy pour of a juicy California red, this is an American artist, after all — sit down, and listen all the way through.
Lucinda Williams: Down there the Spirit Meets the Bone
Lucinda is loved by her serious fans (“Change the Locks”, people!), kind of known by many more for a few great songs that crossed over (“Car Wheels on a Gravel Road”, which should be loved by many), and downright disliked by those who may find her music a bit, well…dark. But as a friend and I discussed after seeing her perform in November (fantastic!!), so much of what she is singing about feels “resolved”. So I don’t often feel sad or riled up after listening to her — it’s more like “I hear you, Lucinda”. And this record is no exception.
I first listened to it while doing a kind of rude thing at MoMA. I was tired of hearing everyone else’s chatter at the Matisse Cutouts show (which was really quite overwhelming, I think on account of the scale of everything), so I popped on my headphones, cranked up the volume a bit and moved through the exhibition. Matisse and Lucinda Williams seems like an odd combination, I’ll admit. But there was some kind of synergy going on…the music made you slow down and really take in the work on display. I kept the headphones on and listened again while visiting some of my favorite pieces in the other galleries. Wonderful.
This is a record where you can skip around or shuffle, but I find myself lingering on many, especially “Compassion”, which is an adaptation of her late father’s poem of the same name:
Have compassion for everyone you meet,
even if they don’t want it. What seems conceit,
bad manners, or cynicism is always a sign
of things no ears have heard, no eyes have seen.
You do not know what wars are going on
down there where the spirit meets the bone.
Best listened to when you are feeling fine but maybe a little introspective. And this is a smoky scotch — not wine — situation.
Kylie Minogue: Into the Blue
Everyone needs a Kylie song now and again — even if they don’t know it yet. Many of us need entire records because this is a woman who loves to entertain, works with great producers and collaborators, and has access to fantastically fun and well-written songs. It’s a party all of the time but with more musical substance that a non-fan would expect. (And if you ever get a chance to see her in concert, get your bootie to it, as you will both have a silly fun time.)
After her last record, Aphrodite, I was not sure how she could top it. Yet she did. If you are feeling tired or have a case of The Blahs, take two Kylies (really, any two except for the duet with Enrique Iglesias) and see if you don’t feel better. The whole record will get you though a painful workout, or trying to figure out what outfit is the Best You at a given time, or making dinner for some oddly large number of people when you’ve worked all week. Depending upon the time of day, Into the Blue is best paired with water, coffee or a glass of rose champagne.
(“Compassion” by Miller Williams, from The Ways We Touch: Poems. © University of Illinois Press, 1997.)
January 21, 2015 § Leave a comment
Honestly it is too long a story and not that interesting. But just in case you were wondering, I hope to begin posting again soon. (So many new skincare products, and flares are back, and I’ve been wearing flats a ton and I need to re-do all of my makeup choices…and try making that cauliflower “pizza” crust.) But I need to gear up…so please don’t go.
In the meantime, rest assured that Mr. H and I are well, as are A+O and life, while always a little nutty, is better than fine. Here are (way too many?) snaps from the past year…
Our annual New Year’s Eve dinner last year, always with good wine — and good friends.
As you may recall, the East Coast had a ridiculous amount of snow. So this year, we tried to get the dogs into booties. As you can see, they loved them.
But the booties were with us all winter long…and trust me, it was a l o n g winter.
Alas, there was hope before we knew it. (Actually, it seemed like forever before there was hope, but bitter is not good for my complexion.)
Just a gorgeous truck…these are becoming more and more rare. Note the lack of snow…I think this was in April.
We also went to George Nakashima’s studio in May — a birthday gift from Mr. H. People: If you can get there, go for the storage room of wood alone. Stunning. But I also rather loved the outdoor views.
The rains came as they always do, but this year, they created a darling bunch of mushrooms. Don’t they look like little umbrellas? Love.
And this year’s cutting garden was my personal candy store.
And while I was running one day in June, I just had to stop — not only because I thought I was going to die, but also to capture this fantastic lichen. Gotta’ love lichen…the colors are so complex that only nature can make it so.
Another lone mushroom of summer.
Have you heard that Farm Weddings are all the rage right now? Well, they are. And they are fabulous. This were just some of the gorgeous flowers from the best wedding I’ve attended in years. The whole affair — from the BBQ Rehearsal Dinner to the late-into-the-night Wedding celebration — was just full of love and all things lovely. Truly special.
And you know where to find me in July, August and whenever I can be there. This year was no exception.
And a final summer arrangement, that I managed to get a bee a out of without getting stung or the bee having left this world too soon.
Suddenly it was fall, which brings us our first apples. This one was from a friend’s tree.
And then is was the Most Wonderful Time of the Year. Pumpkins were picked twice and included a visit to a (terrifying) play area that included a (very dangerous) real fire engine that my oldest nephew — we’ll call him “Original” from here on out — had to climb onto. There was NO WAY I was letting him on this vehicle of pointed, sharp metal, open areas large enough to get a small head stuck into and heavens knows what else, all by himself . So I did what apparently NO OTHER ADULT would do: I got on with him. At least it has this cool set of dials to geek out over, but really, I needed a cocktail after Original and I slid down off the thing.
No words. (And this doesn’t even begin to capture the true colors of the leaves.)
Fall also is my favorite time to cook hearty winter greens, but before I sauted these, I had to show them raw. Too pretty!
It rains a lot in New York. It just does. And for some reason, even though the boys have no issue running bootless through the snow, rain is a no go. Even if it has recently rained, as pictured here. You might be able to detect the wordless conversation they are having: “Hey, did it rain?”, “Yeah…it did…unacceptable! Back inside pronto!” And that is exactly what these buggers did — this has become Standard Operating Procedure. Dislike!
But then they do something adorable like this and I (almost) forget about their Rain Issues.
And suddenly it was the holidays again. The time of Pannetone for Breakfast and cozy bedside flowers. Two restful weeks later and we were back in town.
Which is fine by me. I love the beach, but the winter light is beautiful anywhere. Especially when there are new varieties of amaryllis to be enjoyed.
And nighttime in the city, where even an uninteresting block is transformed by the crisp (ok, horridly bitter) air and light. Seriously, this is the block my dentist’s office is on and I just popped out and had to take a picture.
But to be truthful, the cold here is downright maddening. (And it hasn’t even been that bad — yet.) Back at the beach, our florist seemed to understand that people need a little hope and had these stocked. A little bit of sunshine right on the table.
And a little bit of inspiration to make sure I am entering the new year with the right frame of mind, courtesy of the Dalai Lama. With all the nuttiness that is going on in the world, it is good to aspire to kindness. To paraphrase Lucinda Williams and her late father, Miller, you just don’t know what someone is going through at any given time, so I am trying to stop before I am anything less than kind and compassionate this year — every little bit helps.
(Photos: Some Cozy Night and Mr. H; “Kindness” from How to Practice: The Way to a Meaningful Life by the Dalai Lama, copyright 2003.)