Tale of Summer

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Both my granddaughters have summer birthdays. Charlotte turned 3 in July and Emma  15 this month. The latter will be entering high school next week. This morning she tried out for the field hockey team.

While all us adults are scratching our heads trying to figure out how to maintain our relationships with the 15 year old, Charlotte is breezing along in her special love of life that is inspiring us all. She has become a big light in my life. While on the topic I’ll add another Charlotte photo taken during low tide at the beach.

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Seems like last summer it was all about going to the beach in a kind of California sense,  people surfing and playing in the waves. This summer I’ve seen more of the other side of possibilities when it’s low tide. Seems I feel friendlier with this face of the Atlantic. It’s more approachable for me. Who knew? Charlotte can go either way with equal gusto.

SONY DSCMy daughter and her family moved recently up the coast several miles from where they were living. The house is just across the road from the ocean, but in an area where there’s lots of marsh land. So the drive from my house to hers has some great views of this type of landscape.

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If you’re driving along the coast highway there are places to stop and try the local seafood and such. I forget the name of this restaurant but took this photo out back with a view of the marsh. These nautical objects are a common sight here.

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As an artist photographer I couldn’t resist taking this shot of the gradations of color in this rhubarb.Nature can do it but it’s not that easy to go from red to green when you’re painting.

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And not to be forgotten, there are the beautiful flowers in the back yard of the house here (411 Middle St.– has it’s own website). This summer there are lots of different colors of large day lilies. Everything growing in the back yard pretty much acclimates to the weather here, which includes enough rain that watering is never needed (as long as I’ve been here, anyway). For someone like me coming from the western side of the US this is amazing. I do water in the small vegetable garden I maintain in a back corner of the yard.  It doesn’t get ideal sun exposure so I try to focus on plants that will be OK with that. The kale and the broccoli are thriving and the sweet basil doesn’t seem to mind. I just finished my second batch of pesto!

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Nasturtiums also like my little garden so I’m growing lots of those. Tried planting some zinnias from seed when I took down the pea supports. They seem to be growing well but have a ways to go before blooming. I try to encourage them when it their turn for some water from the watering can.

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This photo of Chance and me was taken at a spring I learned about online that’s located in a woodsy spot on the outskirts of the nearby town of Exeter. People who know about it line up for their turn to bottle their water and they swear by its great taste and purity. We were told mid afternoon is a good time to go to avoid the potential wait. So far we’ve followed that advice and have had short waits. Katrina and her family is enjoying the water.

Hope your summer has been a pleasure.

Sending love, Kate

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May’s First Year Anniversary

Went to the farm market last Saturday and found this hanging basket of petunias ready for sale. This must be a sign that the local frost danger is past? Also noticed lots of tomatoes but am still not buying my plants for another week or so. SONY DSC       It’s been an up and down spring with the weather here, but I believe this is normal I arrived May 1st to Portsmouth a year ago and I recall the entire month of May was back and forth between warm and blue skies and grey, cloudy skies with temps in the 50s. Yesterday it was both. Started out cool and grey and ended up amazingly inviting for outdoor activity. My former husband, Mr. Cartwright (Chance) is here for the summer again and we have been playing tennis every couple of days lately. Fun!

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Here’s a look from a couple of days ago of my mixed lettuce bed, the one I planted at the same time as a row of peas. If you look closely you might see three kinds of lettuce (or more), spinach, arugula, kale, and cilantro. For some reason I like to plant an area like this randomly and then thin plants out at this stage to allow some to really thrive. The thinning is a lot of work but it get’s me out in the garden and up close and personal with the plants which I’ll soon be cutting leaves from with scissors for my salads (cut and come again).

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The back yard of the house where I live is a treasure trove of trees, shrubs and perennials.  If you want to keep track of what’s going on you almost have to take a walk around every day. The tulips and the daffodils have come and gone now but I have a couple of nice photos I took I want to share.

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This daffodil ended up in the windowsill of the kitchen sink and seemed to last forever. I finally had to take a photo, one if my best of that particular flower ever.

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Here’s a photo I took of myself in the mirror at the farm market that shows off what’s blooming now around town. Love the bleeding hearts and the lilacs.

With Chance here for the summer I am feeling free to stay focused on my painting. I’ve been working on expanding the variety of my cards. As many of you have seen on my FaceBook posts I’m working on images of mermaids and having a lot of  fun with it. Today I start my first painting on a wood panel that will include a mermaid. I’m signed up for a holiday crafts fair that I attended last November and will be able to anticipate what I can offer there. Last year it was all very spontaneous and last minute and yet I did well. I continue to do astrology readings from time to time.

Of course the family is my reason for being here and that continues to feel gratifying to my heart. I’m continuing to post a New Moon blog each month and I’ve added a second FB page for my art business. Life moves along, steady as she goes.

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Searching for Spring

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Yesterday I felt inspired to get out with my camera and look for signs of spring in the bushes and trees. The day’s temp was around 40 and there was little wind. That’s about all that’s required right now for us to celebrate with an outing. I’ve mentioned my love of trees in my past couple of posts and I’ll admit I’ve really enjoyed the look of the bare branches of the winter season, my first here. I’m drawn to the phrase, “bare bones,” it’s meaning of getting to the bottom of things, to the truth or the essence of something. I enjoy the clear lines of a winter tree, the way they can seem like fingers of the human hand reaching out. I like the clarity of branches growing out from the trunk of the tree and I sometimes imagine the roots are doing something similar underground.

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We still have patches of snow in the backyard in the shady areas. And of course someone who has lived her a long time will tell you there have been blizzards in April, warning you not to get too comfortable with the idea that spring weather is here for certain. Still, as they say it seems the “back of winter” has been broken. I’m generally a healthy and good-tempered person but the confinement I felt this winter was a real test to my patience and amiability. Up until a couple of months ago I seemed able to view living the way I’ve chosen for now, in a house with other people, had it plusses and minuses and the two sides seem to balance out. But I began to feel trapped and easily annoyed by the environment in general. I know myself well enough to not lose hope that a better, more uplifting energy would return. That seems to be the case of late and what a relief!

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I am an astrologer and I post a monthly astrology blog each New Moon. I like to remind myself and others that the cycle of each year repeats itself in a meaningful way. Winter has its positive value, particularly as a time to go within, to slow down, to investigate the dark places in ourselves. After this winter’s experience I feel closer to what I’ve called “the Fruitful Darkness.” I won’t go on about what I’ve discovered about myself, but as I type this I can acknowledge a kind of exhilaration arising in me, surely a sense of surviving a challenge. I guess it’s similar to the way we feel when we see we’ve recovered from an illness or an injury. We are BACK! And why not celebrate with gratitude and anticipation for the explosion of beauty to come.

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I did find some flowers peeking out from the rubble of leaves just uncovered by melting snow. These were in my own backyard just outside the door we use to go there. I had taken the previous photos earlier and never saw any flowers, so it was a kind of last-minute bit of luck. Again, I’m sure they have a name but it escapes me. All I can think of is “crocus” but they don’t seem to quite measure up with my mental picture of that. But there will be plenty more great flowers to photograph ahead and warm weather to encourage me to get out and find them.

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This is a photo I took a month ago from the backyard looking west to the neighbor’s house. There is some mysterious beauty in the proportions and the combination of the tree and the decorative touches of the house. So I guess this would be the “before” photo that tells the story of my appreciation of the winter trees.

Just when I was feeling down a month or two ago I started noticing ravens out my skylight window. There were times when there were a lot of them flying around in my view, almost as though they were trying to speak encouragement to me. It’s true that ravens are one of my top favorite things in the world to observe. Once the tree branches here are obscured by leaves it must be more difficult to spot them. This may explain why I didn’t notice very many until lately. Where I last lived, in Taos, NM, they were very much in evidence all year long. I put that high on the list of all the many reasons to love Taos.

Happy Spring 2014! Until next time…

Kate

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Heart of Winter

 

SONY DSC Earlier in the month we had a wild stormy day that caused a big ruckus along the coast. Probably a mix of high tide and winds or something. Anyway my daughter had taken the coast road to Portsmouth from her house and had seen amazing things along the way involving high waves and sea water making its way onto the road. She was eager to show me what she saw so when she got home we drove out toward the beach near her house and I was able to take this shot. I could not have dreamed up the surfer walking along inside my shot. Priceless.

I’m spending a lot of time in my room up on the 3rd floor staying warm and keeping busy with computer projects. I’ve vowed to expand my both my web presence and my social media connections this winter and with the help of my webmaster sister and her husband (Active Canvas) things are moving along in a forward direction.

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The highlight of my room is the east facing skylight. From my lofty height I see seagulls flying at eye level and the sun and the moon doing what they do. Sometime the glass becomes covered in snow and I lose my view and my free light.

The bird in the photo is a tree ornament handmade by a friend of mine in Ketchum, ID. It’s a magpie, native to both Ketchum and Taos, NM, places where the elevation is high, the mountains tall and the native sage sees little moisture. I occasionally see a few Ravens looking out my skylight but there are no magpies here on the coast, not that I’ve seen.

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My #2 window faces north, looking toward the downtown of Portsmouth about 4 blocks away. Plenty of trees in this view much to my delight. The autumn leaves were awe inspiring, as you can imagine. I’ve always been a tree lover so the patterns of these branches are as special to me as a fine painting. There’s something very satisfying about the bare branches of trees in winter, their strong but flexible form, the way they reach up and outward like inviting hands.

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Speaking of windows, I pass this one several times a day on the stairs and when it’s frosty like this I pause to admire the patterns. It could be the improvements made in window technology these past decades but it seems to have become rare to see frost like this on a window. It seems something we must all intuitively remember having seen in a long past era. It feels elemental and old fashioned, a fairy tale? or something so magical and beautiful it could only be produced by nature.

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And now we come to our beating “heart of winter” found inside the carriage house, a smaller attachment to the total house at 411 Middle. It’s large living room has a gas stove that mimics the look of an actual fireplace. Since this is the main source of winter heat for the three floors of the carriage house it is almost always on. It’s very attracting and comforting. Besides that the room has a high ceiling and two walls of almost all windows with views out to the back garden. On a winter morning, that also happens to be sunny, the combination of sunlight and fireplace is like a magnet for the Soul.

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The contrast in this photo of my granddaughter, Charlotte, visiting the carriage house living room illustrates the intensity of the light coming in the room. She has absconded with Bob’s blue exercise ball which he keeps in his office down the hall.

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I recall I mentioned I would talk about my switch to a raw/vegan diet when I moved into the house last May. I’d been exposed to the diet in Ketchum through Ananda’s popular juice bar but had never really pictured myself adopting it. But seemingly out of nowhere I had this opportunity and I embraced it. It seems one of the barriers to the diet is the trouble and expense of amassing the equipment that breaks down raw food so that it can be utilized better by the body in the forms of juice, smoothies, sauces and crackers. In this case all the equipment was there. I just needed to familiarize myself to it and learn as much as I could as fast as I could to get on with eating in a new way.

My first teachers were Bob, the resident owner, and Ken, a fellow house-mate who loved the raw diet and was available and willing to share what he knew. I started out with smoothies and salads. I missed my old fruit and granola breakfast so eventually came up with a recipe to make my own version of raw granola.

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This didn’t happen right away but when it did it was a game changer for me. I had been sprouting buckwheat to use as a substitute for the rice and quinoa that I’d been eating before and that was working. I stumbled upon a recipe that used the sprouted buckwheat as a substitute for the oats. The rest of the nuts and seeds and such were pretty standard. I used the dehydrator to make it all hang together and be crispy.

Around this time I discovered I could make cashew milk very easily in the VitaMix with just cashews and water (more or less). This became my “milk.” I had been making almond milk before this but got discouraged because it’s so time and labor intensive (at least the way I was doing it).

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So more on this topic at another time and one more kitchen photo, the sunny corner with the much used sink.

 

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Winter’s Way

No doubt about it, winter is having its way with us here in New England. I miss the pleasures of the backyard garden, time at the beach with family and those bike rides into town on errands. I’ve been using the indoor focus to hunker down in my small studio and make the holiday cards and tree ornaments I always do in the pre-holiday period. Upstairs at my computer I’m putting in more time expanding my website and online social networking (check my site for changes?).

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It was a bit of a shock to see this sight a week ago when the big snow storm that had been making its way across the country got to our neck of the woods. That’s my Honda Element where you see the slice of orange color. The snow plow got as far as possible up the driveway to clear a path for us to move our cars onto the street, thus making room for another pass to clean up the other side. I did my part. It took two athletic sessions with a small plastic snow shovel to get enough snow off my car to safely drive it out. The beauty of the snow and the day’s call to action made for an invigorating energy that seemed to affect everyone at the house (411 Middle St. Portsmouth NH) in a positive way.

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Here’s a photo of the same snow the next morning but in the backyard of the house. The thoughtful landscape architecture of the backyard shows off well in contrast to the white snow. Like icing on a cake.

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Here’s another backyard attraction of the season, the many rose hips that follow the blossoming roses of summer. These are fairly large so add color to the backyard’s winter palate. I first noticed rose hips in the natural environment when I moved to Mendocino County in California back in the early 70s. Each winter I would go out on walks and pick as many as I had the patience for and bring them home to string for Christmas tree decorations. Some years later I probably got interested in their nutritional value (vitamin C especially) and picked and saved the hips for winter tea as well.

SONY DSC Last month I fell in love with this tree down the street and took a photo for my blog that showed off its colorful oak leaves. A couple of weeks ago I noticed it again with a dusting of snow on its branches. Didn’t have my camera then but a couple of days ago took this shot. A mighty tree like this brings up the sense that older trees have an important and positive energetic place in the settings they influence. I am still feeling somewhat at odds with the urban environment that I now inhabit. But this tree, less than a block away, has become an anchor, a reminder that somehow the cars and the cell phones and the rush of modern life connect to the same air and water and nurturing soil vital to the oak tree. The word “guardian” comes to mind.

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Between the oak tree and the busy street is the brick sidewalk. This photo shows Middle Street looking south. Our house is on the left but far down and hidden by trees. I suspect if you look for a chimney structure sticking up in that zone it’s a marker flag for our house. Anyone can see that when these houses were built and lived in by single families they were symbols of wealth and architectural beauty. Now this street is part of a highway that runs parallel to the coast and can take you to up to Maine or down to Massachusetts. But even more relevant, it’s a main thoroughfare for local traffic moving north to south.

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Here’s a close up of the brick sidewalk. Our house is located in the so-called historic district of Portsmouth. I’m not sure that explains the brick sidewalk but I’d presume that there is a relationship. I’ll just guess that some distance from this district the city must stop this charming pattern? There is a lot of foot traffic on this sidewalk as many people living, like we do, in apartments inside these large houses, don’t have cars. They are able to walk to work at jobs in Portsmouth. I am friends with one young woman living in the house who has never owned a car. She’s lived in New York City and other urban places where having a car is not essential and feels very comfortable with that style of life. In any case, this is one of the many positive and practical facets of living at 411 Middle.

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I’ve been pretty quiet about my raw/vegan diet here. There are two kitchens in the house, one is for normal/mainstream cooking and the other is limited to the raw/vegan approach. At the time I moved in there was a small room available in the part of the house that includes the raw kitchen–the Carriage House. Also I was told there wasn’t room for more people to use the other kitchen. I took the room and the kitchen and the diet that came with it. As you can see in this photo the stove is a storage area for a juicer. There are two juicers actually, each represents a different technology for juicing The bowl  with the paper towel holds some grain that is sprouting. I believe it is wild rice. We do a lot of sprouting. Not only does soaking grains make them softer and thus easier to eat, but it initiates the sprouting process, one that increases the nutritional value of the food. Once you can see signs of a sprout you eliminate the water and let it sit in the bowl until its achieved the stage you’re looking for.

More about my relationship with the new diet in another post. Have safe and happy holidays this coming week. Thanks for continuing to encourage me to post this New England blog. Your feedback is welcome.

 

 

 

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