Sunday, May 31, 2009

Has it really been 31 days already? Indeed, if my calendar is correct, today is the last day of my self-imposed post-a-day challenge. Sound the trumpets! Toss the confetti! Bring cupcakes!

It’s been quite a month, and I am so grateful to those of you who bravely rode the blogwagon with me. Honestly, I think it’s far too much to ask of people, this posting every day business. You’re busy. I feel a bit guilty about routinely pulling you away from more important things just so I can wax poetic about a biscuit recipe, blooming lilacs, a grandfather you never knew, or an MRI machine that looks remarkably similar to a tanning bed I’ve never seen.

Still, I’ve really enjoyed getting to know you again. I appreciate the experience of sitting back and reflecting on each day, which became a meditation of sorts. I am happy that the “blog clog” has been undone and that my words are flowing quickly and more comfortably again. And I really enjoyed this chance to share a little more of my world with you.

Generally speaking I’m not the kind of gal who likes to put a giant sign on her head that says, “Look at me!” (I’d much rather hold up a sign that says, “Look at the yarn!”) But this month has shown me that it is possible to share elements of yourself in a way that helps connect others to themselves, if that makes sense.

So much is interconnected. Rho and her clam pie, Melanie and her grandma’s song about white lilacs, Sue and her artichokes with lemon garlic mayo, Rosi and her paper take-out box of fried clams, Thanh and her Vietnamese chicken porridge, Amy nursing her family with homemade miso porridge, Abby and her Penn Station artichoke sandwiches, Minh and her tarte a la moutarde, and Cat and her complete love of digging her hands into dark loamy soil in search of the magical potatoes that lie hidden beneath.

(Hmmmmm, I guess you could say I’ve written a bit about food this month?)

Please know that, though perhaps not daily, our journey shall continue. And if you need to reach me, you can always find me here.

Thank you, my friends!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

catching up

Originally uploaded by norvegal

Spring isn't an easy time in Maine. While the rest of you are bragging about your daffodils and tulips, we're still shoveling out from the latest snow storm. By the time we finally catch up with the rest of the country, you're already in your bathing suits headed to the beach. When the lilacs finally bloom, which is happening right now, most folks can only reply distractedly, "Lilacs? Huh? Oh yeah, I remember those."

The lilacs represent a particularly special time here because they take hold of my life for one intoxicating week. My house is bordered by two enormous lilac hedges. By "enormous," I mean that each hedge is literally the size of a small house -- in fact one hedge surrounds a cellar pit where an old cape used to stand.

When these lilacs bloom, which they're in the midst of doing right now, everything smells of lilacs. If I walk out onto the porch, I am engulfed in that warm sweet powdery fragrance. Not a stenchy, headache-inducing synthetic perfume but the real deal. I can't see a single lilac from there, but I can smell them as clearly and intensely as if a huge bouquet were right beneath my nose.

And it's all happening right now. At this very moment, as I type these words, everything smells of lilac. Fresh flowers are, for me, the absolute epitome of luxury. (Well, that and freshly squeezed orange juice, clean sheets, and sweaters that never pill.)

So this is my favorite brief and enchanting period of time. It feels almost magic, as if fairies have been allowed to take over the world for a week. It is decadence and abundance, the floral version of suddenly having a machine that spouts $100 bills, or a faucet that offers up hot chocolate and fresh chilled lemonade. I only wish this blog had smell-o-vision so that you could enjoy it with me.

Friday, May 29, 2009

creative tides

by the sea
Originally uploaded by norvegal

Remember that little window of space I mentioned at the beginning of this month? Sadly, it is beginning to draw to a close. External commitments once again are starting to lay claim to my creative energy. Not Knitter's Review, which is such a near and dear part of my life that I almost forget it is a commitment. But other projects that I've been lucky enough to snag. Most of them were anticipated and scheduled well ahead of time, but a few came on as last-minute surprises, which upped the tension sooner than expected.

Having had a remission from my chronic overcommitmentitis for the last few weeks, I'm fascinated to feel -- actually literally feel -- how the return of tension and deadlines impacts my inner ecosystem. I'm not talking "boo hoo vacation's over" stuff. But rather, and this may sound hokey, I can almost feel where those creative commitments pull their energy, and what other creative pursuits can no longer manifest themselves as a result.

No matter what we'd like to think, we humans are not eternal fountains. Our energy is not limitless. Tug on a wire and some lights will flicker. Push that button and a toilet flushes somewhere in Singapore. Add two unexpected but welcome writing deadlines within the next week and the home-made bread and fully decorated cupcakes must go. Not just because there's no time, but because there's no juice in that creative well -- it's being used for other things.

I have no answer to this quandary, I can only offer it as an observation. Everything really is interconnected. All we can do is try and tend our inner gardens as best we can.

Speaking of which, guess what just sprouted?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

the world's greatest buttermilk biscuits

on this weekend's menu
Originally uploaded by norvegal

Seeing as we've become the bestest of friends, and seeing as another weekend is almost upon us, I thought it my duty to share with you The World's Greatest Buttermilk Biscuit Recipe.

I've made it several times already. The first time was so good I was stunned and convinced that it had to be a fluke. But the second time was even better. And from then on, I knew that this would become that secret recipe I pull out when I have a last-minute culinary emergency and want to look like one of those women who knows what she's doing.

This recipe comes from Susan Wyler's Cooking from a Country Farmhouse, an out-of-print collection of recipes that looks at first like it'll be one of those gratuitous "I moved to the country and learned to cook" books but is actually very good. I like Susan because she, too, lives in a restored farmhouse. We crazies need to stick together.

Anyway, you start by preheating your oven to a toasty 450 degrees and smearing a small amount of butter onto your favorite cookie sheet.

Now, sift together 1 cup flour (all-purpose is fine), 1 tsp baking powder, 1/4 tsp baking soda, and a wee pinch of salt.

Cut a mere 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter into the mix. Three tablespoons! In the baking world, that's nothing. When the butter feels like little flakes of oatmeal in the flour, pour in 2/3 of a cup of buttermilk. The first time, I put in 3/4 of a cup by mistake and it was fine.

Mix just to the point where everything is blended, and then STOP. Put the spoon down! Resist temptation! This does not want to be mixed any more than absolutely necessary.

Finally, take your favorite soup spoon and scoop out a moderate sized dollop of batter (dough? batter?) and drop it on the cookie sheet. These guys like to spread, so give each one a few inches of personal space. If you need a second sheet, go for it.

Slide in the oven and bake for 12 minutes. Or 14 minutes if you have my oven. You want them to be nicely gold with a little crust on the bottom.

Oh, and if you want a little extra excitement in your life? Grate 1/4 cup parmesan into the flour mix before you add the buttermilk. Your life will never be the same.

And that, my friends, is absolutely it. This recipe is almost criminal in its speed, simplicity, and deliciousness.

Bon appetit!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

only in Maine

So I showed up for my MRI and was whisked away to an elegant little seating room. There we all sat, other patients reading about Tom Cruise in the latest issue of People magazine while I knit away on a grape-colored fingerless mitt.

They call my name and off I go, past an equally elegant dressing area ("All you have is that belt? Just take it off and bring it with you."), down another hallway, around a corner, and, excuse me, the fire exit?


We go through the fire exit and out into the back parking lot, under a blue tarp and over to a series of metal steps leading up into the side of a TRACTOR TRAILER.

That's right, my big fancy state-of-the-art high-tech MRI was administered in the back of a tractor trailer. As I said, only in Maine.

A while back I decided that if this knitting and writing business totally flops and I need to get a "real" job, I could get trained as an MRI machine technician. I love machines, I love technology, and I love the challenge of keeping people calm and grounded throughout what is, for many, a scary process.

And today's excursion has taught me another potential benefit of my new career: travel! You never know where that truck will be parked. One day, Kittery. The next, Fort Kent.

Maybe they'd even let me get a truck driver's license so I could drive the trailer myself?

Just a thought. It's always good to keep your options open.

And in totally unrelated news, today my friend Jenny Makofsky would've turned 40. We met my first week of college, walking back to our dorm together after we both tested out of Freshman English. We soon became fast friends. We worked in food service together, doing our best to liven up people's dull mornings with song, dance, pantomime, poetry and foreign language games. ("Just give me my fucking eggs," I believe one crew tream member said. Ahhh, good times, good times.) I visited her in London when she studied there, and she visited me when I was studying in Paris. Back at school, our dorm rooms were never more than a few doors apart. She could always drop by for one of my elicit toast parties (toasters were verboten - shhhhh) and I could always hear strains of the David Bowie records (yes, records) that she played over and over again.

Jenny was a force. Strong and powerful, Wagnerian on the outside; but tender and kind and vulnerable on the inside. I loved her dearly. When she laughed, the world filled with color and everything became good. And by some stroke of luck, I was able to make her laugh. Her laughing made ME laugh, so that by the end of an evening with Jen I would be sore and hoarse (and Jen would usually be needing a new inhaler). But I'd feel so happy.

In 2004, a traffic accident pulled Jen from this world and delivered her, well, I don't know where it delivered her. But I hope it was someplace good. A heaven styled in the manner of Barcelona but with a dusting of Oaxaca, a place where Jonathan Richman performs nightly, where her fountain pen never runs low on ink, and where she can always, always keep a close eye on her dear sister Serena. Happy 40th birthday, Jen. From my vast 7 days of experience on the subject, I can tell you that it'll be your best decade yet.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

dear diary

Welcome to day 26 of my 31-day blogstravaganza! For those just joining, let me reassure you that I do not make a regular practice of posting every day. In fact, it was my tendency not to post that finally prompted me to take the post-a-day challenge.

We're on the home stretch and I find myself facing new obstacles. Having shared so many frequent updates about the minutiae of my life, I feel like we're on much closer terms now. To the point where it almost seems normal to tell you what I had for breakfast and whether or not my toenails need clipping. Neither of which you need to know.

However, I will tell you about tomorrow's adventure, when I have my very first (and hopefully only) MRI. They want to see the contents of my brain and make sure all is as it should be. No monster truck rallies or tiny dancing babies or anything.

It will be absolutely fine, and I'm not sharing this to solicit any concern or sympathy. But I do have a wee fear of confined spaces that may or may not date back to the time my brothers rolled me up in a carpet and stuck a chair on top of me. (I think I even asked them to do it. Why? I have no idea.)

Anyway, tomorrow morning I shall be drugged to a happy babbling oblivion, and I shall remember the wise advice that Melissa shared with me here. "Just think of it like a giant tanning bed," I believe she said.

What I really like about this advice is that neither Melissa nor I has actually ever used a tanning bed. I've never even seen one in person. This vision is completely foreign to us both, yet comforting. So if you read this before Wednesday morning, think of me happily snoozing away in my little tanning bed, will you?

Monday, May 25, 2009

sibling rivalry

Originally uploaded by norvegal

Back when I thought yesterday's toppled apple tree was dead, I went ahead and planted a peach tree where the apple tree's two main branches split and fell. I liked the way it looked like the old tree was giving the new one a hug of support.

Well, now that the old apple tree is actually still an apple tree, we have a little bit of an issue. Namely, two trees where there should be one.

I'm not a huge fan of killing things, so my plan is to let the two trees come to some sort of an agreement. And in the meantime, just in case the peach tree resented all the attention its neighbor got yesterday, I'm posting this picture of its beautiful blossoms for you to enjoy.

Today was a garden day and I am now typing with only one eye, so I'll keep this short. The other eye is fine, it's just concealed beneath a red, blotchy, swollen lid where a certain ex-black fly decided to have its dinner. But the rugosas were successfully transplanted out of the lawn mower's path, so my sacrifice was worth it.

And no, I didn't slip in the shower.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

blooms again

the old apple tree
Originally uploaded by norvegal

A few years ago, one of the old apple trees in my garden finally gave up the ghost and tipped over. I saw it coming--it was teetering closer and closer to the ground--but I failed to go out there and prop it up in time. One heavy rainstorm and down it went.

I didn't have the heart (nor the implements) to cut the tree down and finish the job, so I just let it sit there.

Well, guess what came back to life this spring? One entire side of the toppled tree is now covered with these glorious pink blossoms. Walk towards it and you'll hear a loud hum of bees ecstatically rolling in the pollen of each flower.

There's a lesson in here somewhere, I'm sure.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

I've been caked!

I've been caked!
Originally uploaded by norvegal

I went to my LYS today and came home with cashmere and this cake. I tell you, turning 40 is proving to be the best thing that ever happened to me.

Having a friend who also runs your LYS is a knitter's dream. And I'm not just friends with Karen because she controls my yarn supply, either. Although my admiration for her has grown tenfold since she opened String Theory. We were actually friends even before she became my dealer. Er.... LYS owner.

So, when she found out it was my birthday, Karen decided to surprise me with a cake. No Betty Crocker just-add-oil-and-an-egg concoction, but this beautiful masterpiece. Her plans for a drive-by cakeing went awry when she discovered I wasn't there, but she refused to be thwarted. She sent me an email with the subject line, "You've got cake!"

Which was enough to make me jump in the car and head to Blue Hill pronto. (Seriously, yarn and cake. What a combination. Would you like crack with that? Yes please.)

As gifted a dyer as Karen is, she is equally talented in the kitchen. This cake is a masterpiece of construction and flavor. Imagine a moist yellow cake with hints of almond extract, layered with smooth WHITE CHOCOLATE frosting and a fine layer of raspberry sauce. The top is adorned with sweet little blue violets that are the only things to suffer from the time lapse. This is one fine cake.

It makes me marvel at how many other excellent--and I mean truly excellent--cooks must be out there, quietly going about their lives, conjuring up magic in in their home kitchens. Delighting themselves and those around them, not seeking any greater acclaim or public glory than the simple pleasure of making good food.

And now, if you'll excuse me, it's time for my hourly cake feeding.

Friday, May 22, 2009

fryolator season

fish season
Originally uploaded by norvegal

Maine is a state of seasons. We have, of course, summer, fall, winter, and spring. We have mosquito season, black fly season, and mud season. We have tourist season, hunting season, and leaf peeper season.

And we have another season too: Fryolator season. To be exact, fryolator-fried fish season.

The best fried fish in Maine--in the whole country, I believe--comes from small the family-owned "shacky" places that dot the Maine countryside. They open Memorial Day weekend and close some time in October before the first hard frost.

Seating is usually outdoors at sticky picnic tables, and facilities tend to be of the port-a-potty variety. Credit cards are rarely if ever accepted. Perhaps at the yuppie places in Kittery and Wells, but not up the coast where I am.

The menu at these places usually consists of fried haddock, scallops, or clams. Some will also have lobster rolls or crab rolls, both of which are served on toasted hotdog buns. And all these establishments will offer French fries and onion rings, cole slaw, and the staple condiment, tartar sauce.

(Some places will also offer the lesser hamburger, hotdog, grilled cheese sandwich, or--for ungrateful kids who don't deserve the investment of a haddock basket--fried chicken fingers.)

Dessert falls into one of two camps: soft-serve and hard scoop. A few places, like the one I frequent, dare to serve both. But most stick with one type of ice cream, and their loyal followers insist it's the very best on earth. Whatever it may be.

The fish place of my childhood closed a few years back, so I am still wandering in fryolator limbo while I decide where to place my allegiances now.

The top contender is pictured above, and it overlooks one of the most beautiful tidal inlets along the entire coast. The owner is a hoot. He does things like grow tomatoes upside-down in recycled kitty litter containers that are suspended from an old swing set with a hand-lettered sign above it that says, "Just hangin' around." When people ask him what tomato variety he is growing, he likes to say, "Ripe."

Anyway, fryolator season is my personal undoing. I approach its arrival with both glee and dread, because I am powerless over a good haddock basket. But thanks to Maine's notoriously short summer, fryolator season will be over before we know it.

In the meantime, anyone want some of my fries?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

happiness in a skein

happiness in a skein
Originally uploaded by norvegal

Seriously. Does it get any better than this?

Yesterday morning I walked down to the farmer's market, which takes place every Wednesday in Portland's Monument Square. It was truly a propaganda day, bright and warm, the air smelled sweet, everybody was in a good mood, everything looked pretty, and it was the kind of morning when people visiting from elsewhere suddenly declare, "That's it, I'm moving here."

(I speak from experience and can only advise you NOT TO CALL THE MOVER until you've thought about it a little longer.)

Anyway, the market was overflowing with big healthy seedlings--vegetables, fruits, herbs, flowers, and random ornamental stuff. One vendor had local cheese, another had pork in a big ice chest, and yet another had amber-colored jars filled with honey. Yum, yum.

But what made me happiest of all was the sight of this yarn, white and clean and bright and lofty and freshly spun and full of opportunity and potential, like a big empty sheet of paper. It came from the vendor's own sheep. (When I asked what kind, he shrugged and said, "they're just mutts.") His wife hadn't had any time to dye it yet because she was busy with their newborn. "I don't even know, like..." he said, shrugging and shaking his head, "how much yarn is in there or anything."

Dude, like, Yarn Whisperer here, reporting for duty!

So of course I grabbed a hank, popped it open, pull it taut, and give him a mini-tutorial on hank construction, showing how it was most likely a two-yard loop and that he could count the strands in the loop, multiply them by two, and have a pretty close idea of how many yards were in there (approximately 180).

I think I was probably much more excited about it than he was. In fact I'm plotting to go back and offer to buy up his entire clip for the season. For what purpose I do not know, but when has that ever stopped a knitter before?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Thank you

Originally uploaded by norvegal

I'm full of feelings and low on words tonight, so I'll keep this short. I do want to thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for the outpouring of well-wishes and generous words of wisdom that you've shared with me in relation to this day I have dreaded and feared for so long. I feel extraordinarily lucky, and I thank you for the collective hug that made this day so meaningful.

For me, birthdays tend to bring up memories of past birthdays, which inevitably leads to a sense of loss and sadness about what is no more. Missing people who are no longer here, spaces that are long gone, times that have passed. And realizing how short our remaining time here really is. Which is why, when my mother and brother drove away, I stood on the sidewalk with quite a heavy lump in my throat.

There is much to celebrate, and much for which to be grateful. So we shall not end this day on a sad note. Instead, we will reflect upon the wise and inspirational words that my niece Emma wrote in her card to me. "You better have a good b-day," she said, "or the FBI will surround your house and you will be fired from your job and you will run out of money...So happy b-day."

Oh, to be 10 again.

Actually no. On second thought, I'm quite happy to be right here, right now, swilling my Metamucil and stocking up on Depends and thinking about how to make the very most out of every minute I'm given.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

I'm in my thirties

It is a bright sunny day here, with more puffy clouds and a strong, warm sunshine that makes my skin feel warm and happy. I'm down in Portland for the next few days.

Today my mantra is, "I'm in my thirties." Sometimes it alternates with, "I'm thirty nine." I repeat it again and again and again, trying to savor every single syllable one last time, because when the clock strikes midnight it will no longer true. I know it's ridiculous to go on like this, but there you have it. Earlier today my brother called and asked to speak with the "decrepit old hag," then excused himself, "Oh wait, that's tomorrow."

So I'm comforting myself at my favorite coffee place, with a good cappuccino and a piece of toast by my side, knitting away on a Top-Secret project while fussing with the pattern on the world's smallest laptop (more on that later). They're playing a steady stream of the most magnificent and moving early Aretha Franklin ever recorded. The sweet, soulful, emotional stuff that makes you want to weep and rejoice simultaneously.

My mother flew east from Arizona a few days ago and is due to arrive here in less than an hour. It'll be nice to ring in this big birthday with the person who did most of the heavy lifting some NINE years ago. She turns 70 this summer and is grappling a little, so we'll be good company.

Thanks for listening. May your day be beautiful, wherever you are.

Monday, May 18, 2009

In keeping with this blog's apparent "I see dead people" theme, today is my grandfather's birthday. He was a very big part of my development as a person, and I was by his side when he took his last breath in 1997, so I can't let this day go by without a few words on his behalf.

My grandfather was a brilliant man who was passionate about his work and famous in his field. I spent much of my early life seeking his approval and usually failing—I mean heck, it's hard to compete with a member of the National Academy of Sciences when you're 9 and your biggest accomplishment is being able to fry an egg without setting off the smoke alarm.

Just by existing, he set the bar higher than any reasonable human could jump, but I kept trying. He had a brain that wouldn't stop, and he approached everything with a steady, methodical eye that sometimes drove me (the impetuous pre-teen) nuts.

In that regard I feel extremely lucky that he lived long enough to see me become an adult and start to find my way in the world. We were able to connect on a much more genuine and enduring level then.

I know he was proud of me, though I have no idea what he would've made of this whole knitting business. (I think he would've snorted, but the fact that I wrote two books would've redeemed me.)

Still, I take great pleasure in knowing that I helped give something back to him in his later years, that he had a better sense of who I was as a person (and I him), and that he left this world knowing that I would be ok.

Happy birthday, grandpa.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

small-town burial

a gratuitous shot of this morning's buttermilk biscuits
Originally uploaded by norvegal

Speaking of Wayne and his full-fingered mittens, his memorial service was yesterday. Grace wanted to wait until the worst of winter had passed. At 2pm sharp we all gathered at the Lakeview Cemetery, which overlooks—you guessed it—a lake. A big gorgeous freshwater lake called Walker Pond, where my mother attended summer camp as a kid and where I first learned how to capsize a boat.

On this day, the sky was filled with puffy white clouds, and a stiff wind kept the black flies at bay. As Wayne’s great grand-nephew squirmed in his father’s arms and Grace periodically sniffed the sprigs of rosemary she was holding, two ministers (one retiring, the other taking his place) navigated the nuanced waters of Wayne’s agnosticisim with a surprising dose of respect.

A man sang “No Man is an Island,” and several people read Wayne’s poems. One, called “Next,” spoke to the fact that he was the last remaining sibling of 13 and that, indeed, he knew his turn was next. We all said the Lord’s Prayer and departed, driving in a long caravan to the town hall for a reception. Tables had been set up in the same room where we all cast our votes each November.

At the front of the room, a long row of tables had been laden with a feast fitting of Wayne’s memory: trays of meatballs, lasagna, and ziti pasta, hand-sized sandwich rolls filled with crab salad, tuna salad, and chicken salad, potato chips, miniature cupcakes, various tea cakes, and a particularly tasty cottage cheese Jell-O salad with multicolored marshmallows on top. Washed down with sparkling fruit punch and giant cauldrons of weak coffee. The food was a loving and genuine expression of this little community, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

As is usually the case, seating followed the unspoken custom. Locals sat together in clumps, and PFAs (my term for “people from away”) sat together in other clumps, and very, very few felt comfortable crossing party lines and injecting themselves upon the other group. These two groups will never become fully amalgamated. (I straddle somewhere in the middle, being from away but related to a much-beloved semi-local character.) The fact that both sides were in attendance was a testament to Wayne who, although married to a local for 50+ years, was born in Ohio and thus never quite fit in here either. Maine is funny that way.

One table was dedicated to mementos. We saw his dashing military portrait (he was a spitting image of Val Kilmer circa Real Genius) and his college diploma. We saw a picture of him gracefully skating on the pond. (“He was 80 there,” Grace told us. “He finally gave up his skates when he turned 85.”) We leafed through a small photo album showing his later years. But most of the table was taken up with huge grainy laminated Polaroids of their yard, taken by their neighbor after he clearcut the beautiful woods immediately behind their house.

The clearcutting was actually a horrible moment for a lot of us, and those pictures seemed a strange thing to display in his memory. And the neighbor didn’t even show up for the funeral or the reception—but he did send those pictures. (I knew they were from him because he has a serious, serious lamination obsession.)

This is the same neighbor who put some odious campaign signs in my front yard and then had his wife come over and yell at me for taking them down. (Apparently putting them in his own yard wasn’t in the strategy, but my yard was? Strange people.)

As cruel a blow as the clearcutting was to Grace and Wayne, they faced it with remarkable dignity. I would’ve busied myself with evil, dark, and barely legal revenge plots, but Wayne—already well into his 90s—went over and helped this neighbor chop and stack the wood properly.

So actually, on second thought, those ugly pictures of barren woods and blurry woodpiles were a fitting tribute to Wayne’s gentle spirit and even temperament. And they were a gentle reminder of that oh-so-useful universal truth: You can’t always control what happens around you, but you can control how you respond to it.

Saturday, May 16, 2009


Originally uploaded by norvegal

Are anyone else's chives growing like crazy? Mine are. In fact I suspect they're plotting to overthrow the rest of the garden, and I am powerless to stop them.

They're so healthy, so happy, so perky and reliable. They tell me Mother Nature might stick around for another year. And they hint at what's to come, weeks of being able to walk out to the garden with a bowl and a pair of scissors and return to the house with the fixings for an entire meal--and an indescribably tender and delicious one at that.

I snipped a big handful today, slicing them very fine and tossing them in my salad. It was delicious.

Does anyone have any other good suggestions for chives? Chive butter, chive soup, chive pate, chive ice cream, chive toothpaste, perhaps even a chive facial mask? I'm open.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Stalking the stove

All this nostalgia about my grandma made me curious about that stove. Not the big electric Titanic with the built-in pot in which she allegedly used to cook things to oblivion, but the second one I remember best, with that amazing broiling contraption.

I started hunting on the ole interwebs and lo, I actually found it. A Chambers range, I don't know the year or model but this is pretty close.

Turns out it, too, had a built-in pot—although I never recall it being used. The cute salt and pepper shakers were a figment of my imagination. It breaks my heart to know that this stove went with the house when it was sold in 1992, and that the new owner most likely had it hauled to the dump ASAP so that he could put in a Wolf behemoth instead.

But even more to my dismay was the discovery that this is the same stove a certain Rachael Ray uses on her show. So please let it go on the record, right here and now, that my grandma had hers first.

I don’t mean to malign Rachael Ray, although she does make an easy target for folks who believe in making real stuffing for the turkey instead of crumbling a store-bought cranberry muffin into a sauce pan with a box of Swanson’s chicken broth. (I’m sorry but I still tremble at that one.)

Since she and I share the same publisher, I am bound by the Author Code of Loyalty to defend her every move. I’m quite sure that she is an extraordinarily hard-working person who is grateful to have found success in this niche, and to have been able to parlay that success into broader things like a talk show and an appearance at Bryant Park. We should all be so lucky.

As many times as I’ve cringed at her shortcuts, I do appreciate her efforts to encourage more people to skip Applebee’s one night a week, stay at home, and cook delicious meals. And even Anthony Bourdain has started to warm to her.

So I guess it’s ok that she has my grandma’s stove. But has anybody ever seen her use it?

Thursday, May 14, 2009

In defense of glop

My father wishes to interject a little of what he calls "reality" as it relates to yesterday's nostalgic look back at my grandma's cooking. Keep in mind that she was his mother-in-law, and that his marriage to my mother ultimately failed. (Not that this should, ahem, bias your opinion or in any way discredit the legitimacy of his claims.)

Anyway, my father seems to have a very different memory of my grandma's cooking. He alleges that she cooked all her meals to oblivion, slowly simmering them for six hours or more in her stove's built-in cooker. (She had a huge electric range and one of the burners was literally a recessed pot, like an integrated crock pot.)

I offer two points in her defense. First, they later replaced that stove with a beautiful Wedgewood gas range that had a pop-up broiler and an adorable matching salt and pepper shakers. More often than not, she would bake or broil a big piece of fish for dinner. Fish does not take nine hours to cook, therefore it was not possible for her to cook it to oblivion.

Second, the one dish that she did insist on slowly cooking for days on end was ratatouille, and hers happened to be splendid. Therefore on those occasions when she did feel moved to cook something to oblivion, she chose an appropriate dish for the occasion.

And third, assuming she may have cooked other items to oblivion in that giant electric pot from time to time, however rare that may have been, I am confident she had a very good reason for doing so. Like, for example, she wanted to use as few dishes as possible since her lousy son-in-law and lazy daughter never offered to help with the clean-up. Just projecting.

I hereby rest my case and shall now return to my nostalgia. Everything always looks so much better in rose, don't you think?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

more fun

more fun
Originally uploaded by norvegal

I've just rediscovered another reason to love my grandma.

Not only did she instill the knitting bug in me, which is a pretty big thing since that has since become my passion and my career. But she also taught me the pleasures of cooking well. When I'd visit her in the summer, every single day we'd go to the fish market to see what was fresh (how I loved making those "scrod" jokes), and then we'd stop at the vegetable stand and pick up whatever looked ripe. Her salad dressing was always homemade, whisked together in the bottom of a big, perfectly seasoned wooden salad bowl. In her later years she pretty much gave up on desserts, so we resorted to boxed ice cream and Pepperidge Farm cookies. But the rest of the meal would be fantastic.

She is still with me in my kitchen -- in my baking sheets, my measuring cups and spoons, my cast-iron frying pan, my rolling pin, my dishes, my spoons, and most definitely in my cookbooks. She liked to have duplicates of things, "just in case," which is how I ended up with two copies of Larousse Gastronomique (one in French, one in English), two copies of Craig Claiborne's NY Times Cookbook, three dog-eared copies of Fannie Farmer, and two, count 'em two entire sets of the Time Life Foods of the World series (which is actually a great read--did you know MFK Fisher co-wrote the Cooking of Provincial France volume?).

Today I glanced over at one of my shelves and rediscovered this gem lurking in the shadows. Curnonsky was apparently the pen name for French writer Maurice Edmund Sailland, aka the Prince of Gastronomy. He was a prolific writer (including as a ghostwriter for Colette's husband) with a penchant for food -- writing about it and EATING it. He was a large, large man who, rumor has it, needed to be carried by six friends when he went out to restaurants. His gastronomic exploits were cut short when, at the age of 84, he leaned too far out a window and became a victim of gravity.

But anyway, the book is a great big time capsule with wonderful old black and white pictures and recipes for improbable and not-entirely-appetizing concoctions that require strange organs encased in gelatin, fish that don't exist here, and fresh bunny rabbit flesh. Other recipes use more familiar ingredients and are remarkably simple, many taking only five or six sentences to explain.

I spot a recipe for Les Sables de Caen (those irresistibly delicious butter cookies) and shall stock up on extra butter for the weekend just in case.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

I'd like to thank the Academy...

Originally uploaded by norvegal

In honor of having reached Day 12 of my 31-day barnstorming blog extravaganza, and to give you a breather from all those "word" things I've been throwing at you, today I present this bouquet of luscious roses. Courtesy of Whole Foods, $10.

I'm more of a rumpled farmhousey flower person, but these called to me. They have such a regal presence that I keep doing a double-take when I see them. It feels like this woman is sitting at my table patiently waiting for me to serve tea. Or perhaps it's this woman, whose patience is clearly growing thin. Wait! No! If I'm lucky, my guest is this woman who is too in love with my silver candelabra to notice that I haven't served tea yet. Crikey! I'd better run put on the kettle now.

Monday, May 11, 2009

wayne reknit

wayne reknit
Originally uploaded by norvegal

What a pleasure to spend the afternoon holding Wayne's hand and saying a personal farewell. While the results aren't completely perfect, I'm pleased enough.

And I think...I hope...that he would've approved.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

reknitting wayne

Originally uploaded by norvegal

I have been given an extraordinary task.

About three years ago, I waxed poetic here about Wayne, my elderly neighbor with a penchant for exquisite woodpiles. He and his wife Grace live just up the road from me in a tiny trailer that feels like Snow White should pop out from around a corner and start singing with the animals. It's a magic little place.

Grace is a living embodiment of her name, and Wayne was a lovely man, strong and smart but with a wonderfully mischievious glint in his eye. I didn't know him well, but he was a benevolent presence. I'd see him outside, tending his wood piles, raking blueberries, or keeping his driveway meticulously clear of snow and ice. We'd nod, smile, and wave.

Wayne passed away this spring, and I still feel a lump in my throat when I drive past their little house. He'd been sick for many months, during which time Grace never left his side. Now, after a quiet period of seclusion, she is back out in the world. She is getting her kitchen repainted and her deck repaired, signing up for more satellite TV channels, and basically filling me with awe and appreciation for the lessons she is teaching me just by living.

While not a knitter, Grace is a fixture at my knit-in. She brings her embroidery and sewing projects, and we all hang on her every word.

Well, last week she presented me with a whopper.

Wayne had a funny middle finger that was shorter than the others. Grace's aunt had knit two pairs of special gloves for him, tailoring that middle finger to fit his hand perfectly. He wore them faithfully all these years.

Grace handed me two of those special gloves and asked if I could reknit the shorter finger in each so that it extended the length of a normal finger. She is sentimental and practical -- she wanted a nephew to have Wayne's gloves, but she wanted him to actually be able to wear them.

So I shall unravel those stitches that were so carefully placed there some 40 years ago by another knitter. And in the reknitting of those stitches, I shall miraculously heal Wayne's funny finger.

I wonder if he's sitting up in the blueberry field watching over this and smiling? I dearly hope so.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

planting potatoes

planting potatoes
Originally uploaded by norvegal

Did you know that potatoes grow from potatoes? Not innocent little seeds but actual fully grown potatoes?

It seems sort of strange to me, a little cannibalistic, but there you have it. To grow a potato plant, you take another potato -- a particularly healthy, "pathogen-free nuclear stock" potato but basically a potato -- and if it's large you take a sharp knife and ruthlessly hack it apart. Usually only into two pieces, but still. You do this right there in front of its friends and family. They can hear the screams. They know their own fate. It's awful.

My own potato massacre took place yesterday. I set the pieces out to dry overnight, and I gave them a proper burial this afternoon.

But their martyrdom shall not be for naught, my friends. With any luck, from their dark tombs shall sprout healthy green leafy plants with lovely blossoms. And while those plants shall themselves shrivel and die in 13 to 17 weeks, do not despair.

You need only look under the surface for hope. Literally underneath the surface where those plants were growing. Pull away the soil and you'll discover a whole new batch of young, healthy potatoes ready for harvesting. Like panning for gold, sift through the soil and you'll find one, two, three, four, five, a dozen or more beautiful healthy babies just waiting to be baked, dotted with butter, and eaten alive.

Ahhhhh, nature.

Friday, May 8, 2009

delightful dough

delightful dough
Originally uploaded by norvegal

Can I tell you how much fun I've been having with Michael Ruhlman's new book, Ratio?

Well I HAVE.

This novel-sized, black-and-white book—nothing glossy or four-color about it—has transformed my relationship to pie crust. And it's only May!

Back story: Every New Year's Eve I sit down with my journal and write about the year that has passed, and I try to think about what I'd like to accomplish in the coming year. I usually like to keep things vague, like "Become a better person" or "Get more organized," but this year I added a special note to the list: "Master pie crust."

I've never been very fond of pie. It's the crust I don't like, so dense and greasy. As a kid I'd scrape out the guts and leave the crust behind, driving my mom nuts. Most of my feeble attempts to replicate pie dough as an adult have fallen apart before I could even get them into the pie plate.

But I live in Maine now, and Maine is the land of blueberry pie. Every summer, a steady stream of visitors passes through my house, asking for steamed lobster, rides in the sailboat, and endless helpings of blueberry pie. I want to be a skilled, confident cook who isn't afraid of that word, "pie." Which is why I put that on my list of things to accomplish this year.

Enter Michael Ruhlman and his book Ratio, which is based on the notion of using culinary ratios, or fixed proportions of ingredients in relation to one another, to prepare many common foods. These could include breads, stocks and sauces, custards, batters, and doughs, including—ding ding ding—pie dough!

The ratio for pie dough is super easy to remember, too: 3-2-1. Three parts flour, two parts fat, one part water, all parts figured by weight. That's it. My first attempt at the 3-2-1 pie dough was so wildly, astonishingly, life-transformingly successful that I had to try it again because I was convinced it was a fluke and all future attempts would be dreadful, therefore dashing my hopes for culinary excellence before they ever managed to get off the ground, leaving me a shattered, dense and greasy shell of my former self. But the results were just as good the second time around. Delicate, flavorful, flaky, buttery, delicious. Yes ma'am, there's a new sheriff in pie town.

The coolest part? You don't even need to use this dough for your standard gloppy sweet pie, either. No sirree. A few weeks ago I sauteed myself up some onions and mushrooms, blanched a pound of spinach, and mixed it all in a bowl of ricotta with an egg yolk and a dash of nutmeg. I scooped it into individual squares of dough, folded them over, pinched the edges, and put them in the freezer for a rainy day.

It's not raining today, but want to guess what's for dinner?

Thursday, May 7, 2009

sweet spring

sweet spring
Originally uploaded by norvegal

On my walk this morning I discovered this beautiful sweet-smelling harbinger of spring. It shares the side of a building with an ancient wisteria vine that, too, was showing signs of renewal. I stood there and greedily sniffed this magical fragrance over and over and over again until I started to get dizzy.

Today had an odd vibe in Portland, though. A very tense, aggressive vibe. It was raining, which isn't at all unusual. But the traffic was bad. Backed up beyond anything normal for this little town. Stopped, in fact. People were honking. Yelling. Swerving. Doing stupid things they don't normally do.

And on the sidewalk, people with stern faces and big umbrellas kept pushing past me. People with Somewhere to Go, if you know what I mean. A giant Portland police "Special Situations Unit" van drove by slowly, packed with policemen in full garb. Have we been invaded? Attacked? Where was the protest?

Well, it turns out they were all in town to experience the so-called world-famous motivational mega-show called Get Motivated. It features, among others, America's #1 Motivator, Ameria's Best Inspirational Speaker, America's #1 Health and Fitness Expert, the President and CEO of Forbes, Inc. (hint: his name rhymes with Steve Forbes), and America's #1 Mayor (hint: he and a famous reindeer share the same first name).

For a mere $19, you could send your entire office to spend the day being told, among other things, how to get everything you want, how to reach goals you never thought possible, how to maximize your sales potential, how to get ahead and stay ahead, how to unlock the secrets of anti-aging, and how to provide leadership for New York City after a terrorist attack.

Not to belittle the people who were coming to this show. I think it's noble and good to strive to become a better person, to push ourselves to excel, to move beyond our comfort zones and dwell in that daring, scary place where miracles can happen.

But the vibe leading to this event was not open and uplifting, people were not looking one another in the eye, smiling, and being kind. They were in that aggressive "me-first" mode that I always find just a little bit worrisome (the police in riot gear certainly didn't help). And I found the idea of 5,000 me-firsters jammed in one space, breathing the same air, listening to the same messages, equally worrisome. Call me old-fashioned. Bottom line: I didn't want to be anywhere near town when their 8 hours and 45 minutes of lectures by America's #1 [insert title here] came to a close. Maybe I'm wrong, maybe they will leave uplifted and kinder and better people. I hope so.

But just in case, I'm loading up the ole jalopy and heading north to the country once again, where Casey the cat and a good E.B. White essay (or two) await.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Passing prime

Past its prime?
Originally uploaded by norvegal

I went to the doctor yesterday to see if there have been any advents in migraine therapy since the last time we talked. (Nope, there haven't been any.) While I was waiting, I overheard an elderly woman talking with the receptionist. "She gave me a pneumonia shot and a tetanus shot," she said. "And she said this was the last tetanus shot I'd ever need!"

Mind you she was speaking in the happy voice of someone bragging, look how lucky I am, neener neener, I'll never need a tetanus shot again. But I heard, "The doctor said I only have 5 to 10 years left to live." Although she clearly had no problems with what she'd been told, it made me feel strange and sad and thoughtful.

So I went and talked with my doctor, a lovely smart woman who has freckles and curly hair and a fantastic way of really hearing what you say—or at least putting up a convincing front. We talked about migraines and she explained how women tend to get them when they reach puberty, and that they can get particularly bad on the other end of the journey as our ovaries reach their expiration date.

I turn 40 this month, so that expiration date is still a little while off. But I'm sensitive to it. Once women hit 40 in this country, it seems as if the prevailing culture really wishes they'd sorta...just quietly disappear. Please don't be so visible, thank you very much. It's not good for PR.

Anyway, my doc did give me something for the nausea. Among its various side effects are dizziness, fever, drooling, mask-like face, protruding tongue, rigid arms, rotation of eyeballs, shuffling gait, tremors, increased psychotic symptoms, heels bent back on legs, heart attack, and—particularly welcome in a drug to prevent nausea—nausea. My friend Jane noted that the heel thing could make for a very effective ice-breaker at parties. Always look on the bright side.

On my way out, they had me schedule blood work, an MRI, and my very first mammogram. It felt strangely like I was scheduling my car's 60,000-mile service and saying, "What the hell, can you toss in a new timing belt and some tires while you're in there?" Only it's a body, not a car. I asked if I'd get any discount for preordering a walker and my first case of Depends now, but they said no.

Sometimes I find life almost too surreal to fathom on a cerebral level. So much is happening simultaneously, from bliss to utter despair, from youth to, well, you know, anti-youth. It seems to me that if you spent too much time thinking about it, you'd go batty. And, considering the alternatives, I think I'll just go with it.

If I take good care of myself and if I'm very lucky and if the shuffling gait, tremors, and increased psychotic symptoms don't get me first, I, too, may become that happy 90-something-year-old bragging that she never needs another tetanus shot again.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Mayo Clinic

May Mayo
Originally uploaded by norvegal

Ever wonder what you must look like to the outside world?

I pondered that question today as I found myself walking down the street carrying nothing but this jar of mayonnaise.

It just seemed lewd, seedy. Not wholesome and optimistic, like milk or peanut butter. Not embarrassing but necessary, like toilet paper. But just plain weird. Mayonnaise.

I imagined a tidy elderly couple driving by me on the road, the woman spotting me, looking closer, furrowing her brow. She turns back to her beloved Henry (behind the wheel, wearing freshly ironed khakis and a turtleneck) and asks, "Now what could that strange girl be doing with that jar of mayonnaise?"

He turns to see what she's talking about, spotting me. He just shakes his head sadly. "I just don't know, Myrtle. I just don't know." The car speeds off to safety.

The reason was obvious enough to me: Steamed artichokes. I'm down in Portland today and have come into possession of beautiful artichokes. I went to steam them and discovered - horrors - that I had no mayonnaise. All the corner market offered was this jar of dubious brand-I've-never-heard-of-before stuff, so that's what I got.

How do you eat your artichokes? Do you steam and dip them in mayo? Squeeze a little lemon over them? Perhaps add a dab of horseradish? Yogurt? An oil-and-vinegar marinade? Anything else I should try?

p.s.-Speaking of which, happy Cinco de Mayo!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Today's post is brought to you by the letter C

edna's cake
Originally uploaded by norvegal

So many good things start with the letter C. Cashmere, chocolate, cat (both the four-legged and two-legged kind, especially if your last name is Bordhi), Clara (of course), and CAKE.

Cake has been on my mind after I read a particularly poignant piece by Orangette. She wrote,

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about cake. This is not an unusual condition for me, but it happens particularly often when I’m feeling frazzled or tired or harried, right around the same time that I start listening to the easy listening station on the car radio and feeling genuinely soothed by it. It’s pretty clear that you need a good night’s sleep when “Peaceful Easy Feeling” comes on the stereo and you almost choke up, sitting there behind the wheel of your Honda with its missing hubcaps, singing a mournful duet with Glenn Frey as you thump-thump over the speed bumps of residential Seattle. It is also pretty clear that you need cake.

After yesterday's episode, it's pretty clear that I need cake. Not a thick gunky tower of sweetness, but something simple, pillowy, and soothing that will ground my body and make things ok again.

I pulled out my copy of Edna Lewis's The Taste of Country Cooking and turned to page 86 for the cake that had inspired Orangette to wax poetic. It's called the Busy-Day Cake, and it's an extremely simple recipe - just your usual flour, butter, milk, sugar, eggs, baking powder, vanilla, and nutmeg. I swapped buttermilk for the milk, but otherwise kept to the script.

And yet there is something magic in the precise combination of those ingredients. What came out of my oven 40 minutes later was not only beautiful, it was calming and healing. Lofty and moist, not too sweet, and with a fine and perfectly crunchy layer on the outside. In the comfort food repertoire, this is the cake equivalent of homemade chicken broth. And, since I can't take Thanh up on her offer of homemade Vietnamese chicken porridge (which I do believe would make everything better again), I'll just eat cake.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

A lost day

angelique tulips
Originally uploaded by norvegal

Today I write to you from my couch, where I'm semi-recumbent and wrapped up in a red plaid blanket. Casey is napping at my feet, an empty bowl of chicken broth is on a little tray on the floor, and Book Two of the Complete Calvin and Hobbes is by my side.

This has been an ironic day. Part of why I decided to skip the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival this year is because it seems to bring bad migraines - I blame the pollen. Normally I'm a perfectly healthy person, mind you. But I spent an entire Saturday evening one year curled up on the bathroom floor of a rather sleazy hotel room that smelled like cigarettes. The next year I spent most of Sunday lying in my rental car, parked around the back of the fairgrounds where all the vendors come and go. Even last year I woke with a headache despite taking every precaution possible, keeping myself medicated all 48 hours of the event.

So you may find it rather ironic that, the year I decided to stay home, the ghosts of festivals past paid me a visit anyway. Without being too graphic, I'll just say that I spent eight solid hours being sicker than I've ever been before, at 20 minute intervals, and by the end, even the Russian judges gave me a 10 for my performance. I traded the gold medal for a cold washcloth and, 12 hours later, a bowl of homemade chicken broth. (Word to the wise: If you want to love yourself even more than I hope you already do, always, always, always keep some homemade chicken broth in the freezer. You never know when you may need it.)

I'm wiped out. But instead of boring you with any more of this gruesome woe, I'll share a picture of the angelique tulips that grow by my front door. This year's tulips are still humble green lollypops at this point, so this picture is from last year. But it's a nice reminder of things to come.

Thanks for listening.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Mending fences

Mending fences
Originally uploaded by norvegal

Today is my brother Eric's birthday. I wish I could drive down to Boston and surprise him with a giant chocolate cake. But Boston is five hours from here, and he has his hands full with two energetic little kids - and the last thing they need is their loopy aunt Clara showing up on the doorstep, getting the kids all riled up right before dinnertime. So I'm here instead, wishing him a most marvelous birthday.

It is also the first day of the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival, and for the first time in several years I am not there. This was intentional. I decided that I needed to be home. And it feels good.

I spent the day outside weeding and getting the garden fences in working order. These fences run around each of my two gardens. The one closest to the house has mostly kitchen things - lots of different herbs, including a spectacular bed of chives, plus lots and lots of lettuces, carrots, radishes, spinach, beets, and Swiss chard. The bigger one is down in the field, measures about 20 x 60, and has more stable things like strawberries, asparagus, raspberries, and sorrel, and that's where the onions, potatoes, peas, beans, kale, and tomatoes go.

The onions went in last week, and ever since I've had a low-grade anxiety about getting the fences fixed up so that my babies are fully protected. Nobody seems to go for the onions, but still I worry. I love my onions.

The gardens are protected with a plastic mesh fence that I secure with green metal posts. Pretty much any kind of fence would be better than this, but I've grown fond of it over the years. It is unobtrusive, relatively inexpensive, and it gets the job done. And I like the sound the wind makes as it blows through all those fine holes, a kind of whoooooooosh that magnifies the feeling of the wind.

Over time, though, this plastic mesh tends to break down and develop holes. Any sane person would tear the stuff down each fall and just replace it with brand spanking new plastic every spring, but I come from hearty New England stock. So, instead, each spring I take my giant ball of twine down into the gardens and slowly, patiently, some might say crazily patch all the little tears and holes. My fence is a veritable crazy quilt of patches and knots, and I'm just fine with that.

I like the concept of mending fences. Both literally and metaphorically. Fences protect you. Fences normally take quite a bit of time and care to create. They deserve to be tended, mended, and thanked for the noble task they perform so valiantly.

Having mended my own fences, I'm now off to bake a cherry pie.

Friday, May 1, 2009

May: An Experiment in 31 Days

Tap tap tap... Is this thing still on?

When I meet fellow knitters and they find out that I'm that Clara, they may say, "I read your... your... your..." and they pause, not quite sure what to call Knitter's Review. So they usually end their sentences with, "your... BLOG... every week!"

Which is extraordinarily sweet. I'm always tickled and very honored to hear that anyone bothers to read what I write, much less enjoys it. But it always makes me feel a little like an impostor, because I don't consider Knitter's Review a blog. It is a weekly publication. Online magazine. Newsletter. Whatever. It's a business, it's a publication.

But I consider this more personal. This is my blog.

You may laugh at this news, since I have let this blog lie fallow so dreadfully for the last six or so months. How did this happen? I can only blame word overload. I had too many words spilling forth from every orifice -- words for Knitter's Review, words for my second book (which is now in the can and on its way to China), and words for the various columns and articles that I have been fortunate enough to be able to write. It was just too much, and I had no more left for here. I do not believe in blathering for blathering's sake, so I kept quiet.

Well, time has passed and a little more space is opening up in my life again. It's been interesting to watch what I choose to put in that space. This is a very specific kind of space I'm talking about. Not random life storage, not "gee I have more time for bowling" space, but like a sacred little box in which important things are conceived, fostered, slowly grown, and finally born. A creative womb or greenhouse of sorts.

There's room in that womb, if you'll pardon the pun. I've been having a blast slowly emerging from the thaw and picking up things I haven't had time to do in a long time. Things like cooking. Baking. Decorating absurdly ornate cupcakes. Things that don't directly relate to yarn or knitting, necessarily, because I still feel like I need to cleanse my palette a little more.

And yet I miss this place and I miss talking to you. So I have decided to embark upon a personal adventure this month. I'm going to open my window to you and share all 31 days of my May, day by day, with you. Consider it a sort of daily twitter but with more words.

Wait, didn't I just say I am not a fan of blather for blathering's sake? I am not. I promise, I shall not blather.

And with that promise, I shall send this missive out into the blogosphere. If you'd rather find out what I had for breakfast and the last time I flossed my teeth, you can still follow me on Twitter.

Talk to you again soon!