Tuesday, October 18, 2016

To Everything a Season

The evenings are cool and crisp, as are these October mornings but the days warm to pleasant sweatshirt weather or perhaps just a light shirt. As I walk the two blocks to Rick's, or longer as I head to the ditch, I find myself making more noise as my feet turn up the first of the fallen leaves, dried, curling up at the edges, waiting to be swept away by those doing their best to tend the lawn and sidewalks before things get completely out of hand.

I can hardly keep the bird feeders full. Whether they are stocking up for winter or simply bulking up to keep themselves warm on the cool evenings, I do not know. I know only that they are ever-present, always lending cheerful chirping and intriguing Lizzie.

I have discovered recently that she'll take her birds any way she can get them, including on the computer screen. A few youtube bird videos have her entranced, often stepping onto the keyboard to get a closer look -- or sniff. I have to smile when she does this, her alert eyes, ears perked up to the sound, the tilt of the head. She lives her life for the very moment.

I wonder if she processes that these are unattainable things, yet  things in which she can become involved, appreciate, even become entranced. After all, we humans can do that and we do it every day. When we were children we had fantasies of becoming a princess or movie star. For some those wishes came true. But I think we still have a fantasy or two now and then -- being the author who is doing the book signing for their best seller, the photographer who is heralded for remarkable work, the philanthropist whose gifts can help change the world. I'll watch "Dancing with the Stars" and see myself doing outrageously fabulous dancing in high heels and feathers with a live orchestra and my own private instructor. Well, that's not going to happen. Maybe that's my human version of the bird videos.

Although we're already into the second half of October, it feels more like the beginning. Perhaps that is because where I am, in Michigan's "middle of the mitten," the color is slow to come, only now beginning to show the flaming oranges, deep reds and golden ambers I associate with fall. As I look out my window this very moment, I see deep green leaves on all the trees. Soon the ginko will turn pale yellow, the locust a darker gold and that bank of trees dividing my yard from a neighbor's will fall to the ground, leaving the yard open, more exposed. I frame my camera carefully to catch the best color at the Ditch, but truth be told, the leaves on other side are still pretty green.

Is it possible that in a month or two or three I will be looking at a white world out there, layering on extra sweaters and wishing once again for spring to come? Oh yes, it is possible.

The past couple of weeks have been a little tough, a little gloomy. A friend died and it seemed like few besides Rick and I cared. I know that everyone grieves in their own way and I try to hold that in my heart, but it wasn't just the death but the last months of life that found us both feeling she was somewhat neglected by those who should most have cared.

Were we right? Who is to say? It know how hard to watch someone you love fail, I know the grieving begins long before the death. I know that it is easier for friends like us who are less involved emotionally to judge, try as we might not to do just that. Friends, who will miss the person but do not have the lifelong memory bank to draw upon memories good and bad. Granted, our friend was older, ill for a very long time and in pain. But she deserved better. As much as I would never say to anyone grieving "She is in a better place now," for once, that seems very true. I like to think of her as wrapped in love and peace.

This month has also been challenging as my lung illness has reared its ugly head again, wearing me down. I huddle in a quilt or fuzzy throw, then toss it off. Hot, cold, hot, cold. It's not menopause. That boat sailed a long time ago. It's just life. A part of my "normal" that I had completely forgotten about. I find myself longing to hunker down, be cozy. Drink tea. Savor a wonderful scone. Read books. Pet Lizzie.

But I know the holidays approach and with them, my busy season. An early deadline for our annual sale finds me needing to beef up inventory with no energy to do so. I did get my notecards ordered -- singles and sets of blank thank you note-sized cards from some of my favorite photos and paintings. Here are a few.


I anticipate an array of upcoming events -- my first Southern Exposure workshop of the season, a fall fundraiser for our theatre. several lunches with friends, a trip to the Detroit area to see Kevin and Molly and go to the Detroit Symphony. Ah, there's the shiny spot. That trip would be fun no matter what. But Kevin and Molly are expecting their first child in February -- a little boy. Now that gives me something to anticipate in the all-too-long winter!

And the other shiny bit? The end of summer bounty of color. Oh, not just the leaves, but the flowers on their last hurrah, looking as bold and bright as possible, almost as though they are expecting competition from the trees and dressing accordingly. My neighbor's garden, so beautiful from first flower to first snow is ablaze with color and even the mums I bought at the market lend their own cheer to the gloomiest of days.


It's a Sunday afternoon as I finish the first draft of this post. Rick will soon return from his bike hike, possibly the last of the season. It's been rainy all day and he'll appreciate loading up on carbs with the wonderful pasta I'll begin making shortly. The kitchen will be filled with the fragrances of garlic and oregano, caramelized onions and maybe something wonderful for dessert.

We walk a path in life, sometimes of our making, sometimes not. We round the corner at the ditch and hope to see Harry the Heron. But we may see Ella the Egret instead. If we're wise, we will pause and decide if it is a good thing (it is), a bad thing, or nothing at all and move forward accordingly. Catching our breath, holding tight to the things that we value most and looking for the best way find our own happy ending.

Three more weeks till election day. I can hardly wait.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Out and About in October

Things seem to get busy in September but by October we are in full swing with all the joys (and obligations) that autumn brings.

There are long walks as we savor the last of the sunny weather. Crisp mornings often bring sunshine later in the day but it's not shorts-and-t-shirt-weather. I find myself bundled up in a sweatshirt and jeans for my walks to the ditch. The slightest bit of color is finally making its way to our neighborhood, making my way all the more pleasurable!

But oh, how those walks pay off! I was surprised -- and enchanted -- to discover that Ella (or Eddie) the Egret was still in residence.

I stand in awe of this remarkable white bird, so carefully stalking his food.

But Ella isn't alone at the Ditch. Harry and Harriet made swooping reconnaissance missions.

It was difficult to catch them on camera as they flew about, surveying the territory, but they were so majestic it almost took my breath away.

The ducks, of course, were out in full force, moving -- it seemed to me -- to a different part of the pond. Perhaps it was because it was sunnier there.

And I also caught a good glimpse of this fellow. Badger? Groundhog? Something else? I don't know but he was definitely enjoying lunch in the reeds.

And you can't go anywhere without seeing squirrels scurrying to store their winter nuts!

Between looking at the early color -- astors and sumac, mostly -- and admiring the critters, I also enjoyed delightful conversations. One was with an acquaintance through our theatre community, an actor whose work I respect a great deal, We talked cats -- he has a Lizzie lookalike. Then I talked with a couple who have their own names for Harry -- Henry and Henrietta!

Of course, not all the glory is at the Ditch. A visit to the market brought full-out fall inspiration and a fantasy of brilliant color.


And the price on mums wasn't bad either!

We also recently enjoyed the first of a series of chamber music concerts held in Lansing's Old Town. This area connects directly with the arts via a number of community events and galleries.

It is also a bit of a renaissance district in our community with restaurants and retail making it a welcome destination.

 As we waited outside the concert venue, a fellow walked by with these three Old English Sheepdog puppies.

I hope he has a very big house! He'll need it. But they were oh, so adorable!

The concert itself was a good start to the season, with lovely music in a salon-like setting with refreshments and a talk-back afterwards.

On the home front, it is time to tidy up yards and put gardens to bed. I've sure appreciated Rick's help in making my lawn look much better!

And, for a chuckle, a look at a rental sign in our neighborhood for a lovely duplex (I should know -- I lived there a few years! Horrible landlord -- one time we had carbon monixide issues, another a leaky roof with 19 bowls in my kitchen!) It also appears he can't spell!

It seems as though the days are getting more and more beautiful -- but all of us who live in Michigan (and other parts of the upper Midwest) know...

It's the calm before the storms of winter!

Monday, October 10, 2016

Easing Into Fall at Home

As much as I love fall, I've been slow to welcome it this year, the summer having been so wonderful. But it's time. And before I pull out all the Halloween things, drop in to my house for an visit and check out the early fall decorating.


Come on in! The wreath at the door was my forsythia wreath from Southern Exposure. It has oranged up a bit for the season!

The greeting angel bears fall feathers and cotton, and of course a few fresh flowers from the market.

In the living room you'll find a little bit of early Halloween over the cabinet.

And a wreath on its door!

Over by the china cabinet, my fall wheat stands guard, along with other fall bits, like happy pumpkins. And lots of lights.

My blog friend Diana gave me some of the wheat she used in her daughter's wedding plans when I visited several years ago. It is all the more special since Diana is no longer with us, but always in my heart.

I'm wild about the white Jack Be Little pumpkins and you'll find them all over!

I'm loving little lights this year. I must have the battery people ecstatic with my purchases! Fortunately, the lights are LED!

My living room is impossibly dark, thanks to trees shading the yard. So these little lights come in extra handy.

I particularly like these little round balls. And of course, this jack o'lantern on a bicycle is a favorite!

My friend Barb gave me this sweet Spode pitcher as a hostess gift once and it looks great with dried green hydrangeas!

Several bloggers made good use of lanterns and bird cages with their fall decorating and yes, I have used the ideas of many of you!


Of course, I don't leave the bathroom out either!

In the family room, you'll find the fireplace mantle decorated.

Very simply, so far -- pumpkins and gourds. I'll get more Halloween in here soon.


But the sweet little autumn girl is courtesy of one-time blogger (and wonderful art buddy) Joanne. I just love her!

There is a wreath that hangs on the fireplace cover from bittersweet.

And an arrangement from another Southern Exposure visit using dried hydrangeas on the wall, underneath my collection of British commemorative china.

Lizzie has chosen her spot (definitely not my choice!)

Lately I've started keeping magazines and pencils on a wicker tray -- it keeps me honest and it keeps the table a lot neater!

And I still haven't been able to take these hydrangeas down for another season. There's something about the quiet lavender-like purple that seems to fit.

Even though no one comes to the back door, I have to have a wreath!

Of course you can't stop by without a bite to eat! The recipe for this chicken casserole -- photographed right before it went into the oven -- came from Jean of Delightful Repast and it was the perfect fall evening dinner! By the time I remembered the "after" photo, it was more than half gone!

When you say farewell, don't forget to check out the cotton bole wreath on the inside of the front door. This one was a snap and for once I resisted the urge to do too much to it!

Thanks for coming by -- and celebrate fall!

This post will be shared later this week with Share Your Cup and Thoughts of Home on Thursday. You'll find wonderful decorating ideas, recipes, crafts and more at both these sites.

And special thanks to Jann at Share Your Cup for featuring The Marmelade Gypsy and this post in their weekly features! I'm honored!

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