Tuesday, March 31, 2020

There's a Bunny In the House!

I'm pretty sure this isn't going to be my biggest "decorate for Easter" year. But if you don't get the bunnies out a few weeks before Easter, when will you?

So up came the favorites. I realized the pressure was off to put up everything I had when I remembered that I had given a good deal to Goodwill last spring. It made the choices easier!

One of the things I regret before the "staying in" was not buying fresh flowers (which, of course, would be dead by now!). Still, I'm glad I have my "permanent botanicals," as my friends at Southern Exposure call them! These tulips are quite real.

This is one of my Vintage by Crystal favorites. Two more are coming soon! I have hardly shopped since the book buy in Canada and I figured I deserved it!

The top of the china cabinet always needs some pretty! Some of my favorites are here -- a swag my cousin gave me several years ago, some bird's nests...

 ...the sweetest bunny bank a friend sent me (it's filling with my spare change but no deposits of late. alas!)

This nest had the perfect message for our times. Peace, Hope, Joy. Especially hope.

The tiny peat pot was one of a series from my crafting times a couple of years ago.

This bunny was new last year. I can't resist a bunny!

The mantel of the family room is pretty routine. 

I'm so glad I have a boatload of bunnies in the basement! The apple blossom swag on the left was a Southern Exposure project a few years ago. I may move it elsewhere but for now, it works.

The lantern was a Southern Exposure project long ago that has been done over and over. It just seemed right to have a bird's nest nearby.

On the heart, a mama bunny and her baby have found their own little carrot patch!

My cheery bunny found a new home in the family room this year. The basket next to it was a rainy-day project a few years ago. I just hot-glued faux carrots to a basket and filled it with a bunny to peek out.

Like I said, I love the bunnies.

I'm also a sucker for wreaths. This one has a few of my felties.

And there was a little forsythia left over, so I tucked it into the former Christmas wreath. I love the rustic look.

Atop another cabinet, a bit more forsythia. These were art fair purchases decades ago. I love their simplicity.

Above the desk, a birdhouse back in the birdhouse-making days, flanked by two bunnies!

 Let's take a look in the hutch. Peter Rabbit is waiting!

And more nests. Long after the bunnies are gone, the nests will remain somewhere!

Finally, this week's centerpiece. Who knows? Maybe it will be there all the season! I love my Pendelfin rabbits, which I started collecting when I was a kid.

I haven't brought out their "house" yet, because I'm running a little tight on room. (I still haven't done the Easter egg trees either, and I'm beginning to wonder if they'll make an appearance.

Well, I still have a couple of weeks!

Sharing with:   Tuesday Turn-About     /    Let's Keep in Touch    /     Pink Saturday     

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Observations on Life Outside

That is, life outside my walls! Like so many of you I have been "in" but that doesn't stop me from noticing what's going on outside!

I've noticed on my walks how respectful people are of others' space (and their own), crossing to the other side of the street when approaching someone coming forward on the narrow sidewalk. We yell, "Thank you!" and "This is weird, isn't it?" But we are all grateful.

I had my first Facetime with the Toddler Twosome and their family. All was well and it was so good to see those little Munchkins. Then Thing 2 hit Thing 1 on the head with a remote (or maybe a phone). There were tears, hugs, and a reluctant "sorry." Then time for bed. We'll try again! Alas, we'll miss this scene in a few weeks. Maybe I'll stuff the eggs and hide them in the yard and make Rick go hunt for them. That will go over well.

I have loved the email interchanges with many old friends and bloggers. Just checking in. There isn't much one can do from afar, but the check-in helps.

Rick freaked out after he saw the grocery store video, which I will share here and suggest viewing. He hadn't been doing any of this. I'd been putting things away that he'd bring with rubber gloves but not washing them down. We are now. The video is excellent. A little daunting but then what else have we to do with the extra time if we're home. (It's amazing how long that damn virus can live on surfaces!)

I am cooking though. We are somewhat at the mercy of what is in the market, but the pantry is pretty full. I'm thinking of sweet potato hash for dinner or roasted veggies. Or possibly soup -- we're still in cool weather, even though the days are warmer.

The birds are surfacing again at Lizzie's feeder. They seem to come and go in spurts, and I'm trying to figure out if Lizzie's Bar and Grill is "the boring but reliable restaurant," one that is thrown off for a period for some trendy new spot with better seed. Yet the customers return.

It reminds me of the place where I meet with old work friends periodically. It's not flashy but it's reliable. The food is perfectly adequate. Well, somewhat better than adequate. They treat us well and we always have fun together.  And where else can you go where you can get chicken pot pie, meatloaf, Greek food, pizza or an omelet at any time of day? When we have our dinner there at 5, the place fills up fast with old people. Older than us, that is. It was a bit of a shock to realize as the virus broke out that we fall into the "elderly" category of over 60 or 65 (depending on your source).

I am seeing cancellations at some of my favorite places, including Southern Exposure, where our Easter Basket workshop was canceled and others pushed back later in the spring. And, I have made the very difficult decision to cancel my trip to England in the fall. There will always be an England, they say. I just hope it -- and I -- stick around long enough to see.

For the first time, I have experienced telephone and tele-medicine appointments with my docs. The telephone ones are fine but I feel somewhat compelled to look decent and clean up the wall behind my computer camera for the tele-med appointment. Much like taking blog photos of cute vignettes when you know ten inches away is some pile you can't seem to put away. (Don't deny it. You do it too.)

And I finally bit the bullet and signed up for Acorn TV as most of the Brit mysteries I like on netflix have run out of broadcast rights and are back on streaming only. I may sign up for Britbox too, but there's only so much I can watch.

 We're all thinking of things to do -- some of us working through a long overdue list of chores, ramping up the reading or gardening. I am getting a big kick out of seeing the reporters reporting in from their own environments! Peter Baker's bookshelves -- I want to know what's on them! Phil Rucker has some really lovely yellow flowers in the background. Heidi Przbala has a gorgeous space with a lot of white -- how does she keep it clean? 

Are you saving money these days? I am. Without going out to eat, followed up by a stop at Home Goods or Michael's, not going to the theatre or movies or buying gas, I might be able to make an extra house payment. Well, not quite, but it will definitely bring down the principal!

But mostly I worry. I worry about the friends I don't hear from or see posting. I worry about other friends who are working and consequently meeting with others. I worry about those who are "the helpers," as Mister Rogers called them -- not just the medical staff on the front lines but the day to day people who will take someone to the hospital or a medical appointment -- and just hope that they don't get the virus.

I see bloggers and FB friends making masks to give to hospital workers. Others who post on the neighborhood page, asking if anyone has a stick of butter -- and someone does and says they will leave it on their porch for pick-up. I see parents working at home while minding their children and in many cases serving as their teacher. They are working two jobs at a time when some cannot work at all.

I try my best to imagine Trafalgar Square without loads of people. My friend in Paris sent me this photo of the Eiffel Tower from his grocery run. How strange there isn't a soul in sight. I watch too much news. I cry too many times a day.

I dream of my happy places, the summer to come and the ones after that and hope we will be able to enjoy them. I'm willing to stay inside as long as it takes. To keep distant when I'm outside -- even after they restrict the "rules."

We are never stronger until the moment we are in shared crisis. Somehow, no matter how hard and challenging it is, we rise up in ways large and small.

 I leave you with some beauty from Southern Exposure.

Blooms to heal aching hearts.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Our "Into the Woods" Moment

Recently I saw Stephen Sondheim/James Lapine musical "Into the Woods" performed by Michigan State University theatre students. The show and its songs have come back to haunt me in recent weeks as I realize we are having our own global "Into the Woods" moment.

The play/film is based on (mostly) Grimm Fairy Tales and many of the characters -- Red Riding Hood, Jack (of Beanstalk fame), Cinderella and others are familiar friends to those of us who grew up before "Spongebob" and "Curious George." The first act ends "happily ever after"; the second act reminds us that "ever after" doesn't always last.

The play's underlying theme of "giants in the sky" that can turn a happy ending into a time of terror. This has been equated in the past to the AIDS epidemic (which was kicking in as Sondheim and Lapine wrote the show) and 9/11 (which was around the time of one of its many Broadway revivals.) Think of it as a tornado destroying a town or terror attacks.

When I saw the show in February, I had no idea that within a month we would be experiencing our own "Into the Woods" moment.

When the giant comes down from the sky in retribution, determined to destroy the kingdom, panic ensues. The Baker's shop has been destroyed and his wife is dead. Jack's mother killed. Cinderella has left her prince who is longing for an affair with Sleeping Beauty. Red Riding Hood's grandmother has died. These four main characters -- all of whom have either experienced tremendous loss because of the giant's wrath -- realize that they must work together to help beat this enormous foe.

Together, and only together, can they get out of the woods.

And so, they do. They come up with a plan. They work as a "community" of sorts, taking care of one another and defeating the giant. They remind us that "no one is alone."

We have a giant in our midst. We have a plan -- Stay Home.  We must work as community -- a global community -- to beat the giant. We must remember that staying home or keeping a spatial distance is as important in its own quiet way as the difficult work the front line personnel are doing.

If we have to be out, we must remind those who don't keep distance to back away. We must cover our coughs, sterilize our counters and door knobs, phones and remotes. We must wash our hands -- again and again. For if we can stay home and stay well -- for a long period of time -- we can make their work much easier. We can save lives, too. Not just our own, but others.

We must follow the plan.

Please. Stay Home. Stay Well.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Working Through the Bookstack

I recently read an article about Tsundoku -- which is basically the practice of buying more books than you can possibly read. I admit it. I would like the think they'll all be read. I know they won't. I will never get through the books on my pile. Books I am given. Books I had and never read (but now they look fascinating). Books I pick up at library sales or used bookstores or the next in a series I've followed for ages. Or the first in a new series, for that matter.

I am an eclectic reader. I am open to most genres (I'll skip sci-fi, dystopian novels and fantasy, though). Mysteries and biography/memoirs come to the top of my list. I'm pretty big on history or historical fiction, too. As for general fiction, well, I'll read it for book club or if passed onto me. But I'm not quite as likely to pick it up on my own (unless it's by a favorite author).

A lot of us are finding a bit more time to read than even before these days. So, I thought I'd share a few thoughts on some of the things I've been into lately. Let's start with a disappointing biography.

Edward VIII: An Intimate Biography by Hector Bolitho

The first thing wrong with this book is the title. It is neither intimate, nor barely a biography. Granted, it was published in 1937, shortly after the King's abdication and much of what has become common knowledge -- both the scandalous and the simply sad -- wasn't known then.

Bolitho has quite a collection of books under his belt (he published 59 books during his career), but this includes little information about Edward's upbringing (some of which was confusing -- you didn't know if he was writing about Edward VIII (aka David and The Prince of Wales), his father, or his grandfather, Edward VII, (also Prince of Wales before becoming King). It also reads like a travelogue in many ways, following each of Edward VIII's travels as Prince of Wales in overly purple prose with chapter titles like "Australia," "South Africa," "India."

This might not bother me so much but a few months ago I read Philip Ziegler's fascinating (and very long) biography which not only outlined the reception Edward received but also bouts of petulance, irritability and sexual promiscuity along the way.

I know I need to make an allowance for the time this was written (and published in England where Edward VIII was protected by the press for far too long). Still, Mrs. Simpson, for whom he abdicated the Crown, is a mention in only the last few chapters. We don't know how they met or other elements of the relationship that led to these events. Maybe Bolitho didn't either. Nonetheless...

A Bitter Feast by Deborah Crombie

Moving on, back to one of my favorite mystery series -- the Duncan Kincaid/Jemma James mysteries by Deborah Crombie. "A Bitter Feast" is her long-awaited follow-up to the last in the series and it was well worth waiting for. Many series should be read chronologically and this one should be too, just to see the character development of this pair.

To summarize the overall series, Duncan Kincaid works for the Met as does his now-wife, Gemma James (which is one reason why you should read this series in order; characters evolve through time). The large majority of stories are set in London but occasionally the venture farther afield.

This particular entry in the series is quite self contained. It would be richer with some history of the characters but if it was your first, it would in no way limit the fascination of the mystery itself. Besides, it's set in the Cotswolds. Now, what's not to love about that!

Comfort Me with Apples by Ruth Reichl

Back to memoir with restaurant critic/editor Ruth Reichl's very fun "Comfort Me with Apples." Reichl recalls her days living in Berkeley and her first forays into food writing. It is a memoir that is both personal, sharing her life in a Berkeley commune, her marriage and affairs with her boss and the guy who would become her second husband, and professional. Her descriptions of food and her encounters with now-famous chefs at the start of their careers (including a fellow called Wolfgang Puck) are fascinating and delightful.

Each chapter ends with a recipe, some her own, some adapted from well known chefs, including Alice Waters of Chez Panisse. It's worth it for the recipes along. The grins are bonus points.

Bryant and May: London Calling by Christopher Fowler

I mentioned this one in the last post. It is a series of stories featuring the two octogenarian detectives -- suave John May and his polar opposite, Arthur Bryant. Why these have never been made into a series is beyond me. The stories are clever as they follow the two detectives and their "Peculiar Crimes Unit" in solving various mysteries.

I heartily recommend the series itself. The books are long and not your typical whodunit. They go into quirky parts of London you may never have thought about (the underground water system, its classic pubs). They aren't always fast reads but they are good reads.

Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz

Horowitz brought us the television adaptations of Midsomer Murders and Foyle's War. He knows how to spin a yarn and this is a fun one. A book editor, while on the search for three missing chapters from an author who delivered the book and presumably jumped to his death from a tower, goes on a search for the chapters. In doing so, she encounters a mystery as puzzling as the one in the book.

Cleverly, Horowitz includes "author" Alan Conway's "Magpie Murders" chapters before launching into the editor's search for the missing chapters, which lends depth and fun to the characters. It's a delight.

Beatrix Potter: A Journal 

As you can tell, this isn't really Potter's journal, although it may well have been taken from her journals. I'll rely on someone else to know that -- I don't really care. This is my treasure from my Canada trip.

It is oversized with pages almost like book board. They are in color and writing -- presumably Beatrix's -- and her drawings.

Best of all are the little surprises -- a copy of the letter where she wrote a young friend sending the first version of Peter Rabbit's story.

Tucked in the back under a colorful flap is a hard-bound copy of Potter's first version of the Peter Rabbit story we know so well. It is enchanting.

Someday I'll be able to share this with the Toddler Twosome. Maybe I can even turn one or both of them into a tsundoko!

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