Saturday, January 29, 2011

Is it a fact that Hell is hot? I beg to differ.

I took this photo just after Christmas during sunrise. It's the view from our side porch, heading down to the barn. I had it as our screen saver for a while, until Jonathan said he was finding it depressing. Why do you ask? How could such a lovely palette of winter colors make one feel depressed? I happen to know the answer. It's because the winter weather has become all consuming, totally taking over lives, ruining our plans and in general making every detail of daily existence more difficult. Let's start with the snowfall, for example. What you see in the picture here is considered a delicate dusting compared to the additional snow that was added in January. We have "feet" of snow. Multiple feet. And it's snowing right now. Nothing serious, but just a little fuck you snowstorm. As in, are you sick of winter, yet? Yeah, well here's some more snow=fuck you. It's ridiculous. On the other hand, whenever it isn't snowing the temperature plummets way down to the negative digits making a brief hike to the mailbox feel like you're conquering the peak of Everest. Mind numbing, f-ing Little House on the Prairie cold. Lately, everywhere I go all people can talk about is the damn weather, and that my friends has truly gotten boring. I'm thinking of bringing my snow shovel around with me and whenever someone makes an inane comment about the weather I'm going to smack them in the ass with it. Another thing I really love about right now is when my southern friends call and ask "how cold is it up there?" or "how many inches did you get?". When I finally unclench my jaw and tell them the answers, then they try to make me feel better by saying "it's cold down here, too". 40 degrees isn't cold!!! I'd be wearing a t-shirt at this point if the thermometer were to hit 40. But enough about the weather for now. I'm done with my rant. There is small shred of hope that I can salvage out of this frost filled misery, which is that it will be February 1st this coming Tuesday. Goodbye January 2011! You made your point and you will go down in history as one of the worst winter months on record. Happy? Ironically, as I just typed that the sun came out here making the snow sparkle like a zillion tiny diamonds strewn across my yard. I could almost call it pretty. Almost.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Oh my darlin'

I'm no fancy photographer, but I love this shot I took of a fresh box of clementines basking in sunshine on my dining room table. Looking at it makes me feel warm and happy, just behold those goldy-orange mini-orbs of juicy sweetness, effulgent in the natural glowing light. In general, I'm not a big citrus fruit fan, but these little beauties are a delicacy that only come around during the winter holidays. I gobbled up most of this box by myself (with the exception of a few that were sacrificed for a juggling demo at our New Year's Eve party), and I have the cankers to prove it. I will also report (although this is probably the kiss of death) that I've staved off any colds/flu's this year, despite having several hacking house guests over the holiday season. I believe the added infusion of fresh Vitamin C must have something to do with it. Or is it just luck? Whatever the reason, I'll take it. And I'd better just shut up about it, because if I don't I'll surely wake up tomorrow with a sore throat.
I've been trying to avoid writing anything about the weather lately, because frankly it's become boring. Basically the weather report goes like this, "big ass storm, followed by bone cracking cold temperatures, a seasonably reasonable day, then big ass storm..." Get the picture? It's like Mother Nature went on vacation to the Caribbean and put winter's weather pattern on a loop. This morning it was -12 degrees. Twelve degrees BELOW zero. Ridiculous. It won't rise about 15 degrees today, so they say. It's survival time. Get plenty of vitamin C, dress appropriately, stock up on booze, and hunker down. This will all be a distant memory come July...or I'll be getting shock therapy, one of the two.

Friday, January 21, 2011

I'm a little teapot, short and stout...

Let me start this post by saying that I've always been a diehard coffee drinker. Not that I drink it black, or anything, but I really like a strong cuppa java in the morning to get me going. I've got a system that I use, like a religious process, of making coffee. First, put on the kettle. Second grind the beans. Third pour boiling water over ground beans in a French press (must be strong, good quality beans-no Folgers, or Maxwell House). Fourth, wait 15 minutes, depress the plunger and voila- powerful coffee magic. Mmmm, it really is good to the last drop. The press confounds my Mother in-Law, which I find strange since it's probably one of the earliest, therefore primitive methods of making coffee. She's a drip brew kinda gal. Press a button, walk away, minutes later, brown liquid is ready for the taking. I appreciate the instant gratification of that brewing method, but I can't stray from the flavor produced by coffee made in a press. Coffee people tend to come from one of two camps. You're either a Dunkin' Donuts fan, or a Starbucks aficionado. And if you're the type who can buy a cup of joe at a gas station, then you have no taste buds and deserve to burn your tongue. I can't abide any strange flavors in my coffee. No french vanilla, no pumpkin (gross!), just wholesome beans, handpicked by Juan Valdez and his tiny, overburdened donkey.
This Christmas I gave Jonathan that cute little teapot in the photo. One of our friends served us a delicious tea after a dinner party and we both flipped over it. It was simply brewed in a vessel just like the one above, and it had a mellow, yet addictive flavor. Ti Quan Yin is its name. We couldn't get enough of this brew and like gluttons we drank cup after cup. That night opened up a whole new world of hot, caffeinated beverages for us. There is a tea company in our area called Harney and Son's who maintain a "tea house" in Millerton, NY. I'd never ventured into the tea house, because frankly I've never had that much passion for tea. But after trying the one flavor, I knew there must be more so it was time to take a trip. The tea house was packed with people on the day we chose to check it out. I perused the shelves of tins of loose tea, bobbing and weaving between nattily dressed couples and their perfect miniature replica's (otherwise known as children). Upon closer inspection, I noticed that the women all appeared to be botoxed and their hair was coiffed and colored just so. The men were rugged, handsome, yet sensitive fondling the tins with faraway looks in their eyes, as if they were recollecting a lovely memory that involved drinking that very brew. Did everyone have a sexy, foreign accent in this place but me? The entire crowd looked as though they'd just been prepped for a magazine shoot, for say Brooks Brothers, or Nieman Marcus. I looked down at my faded jeans and Ugg knock-offs that smelled faintly of horse. Pulling my carhart knit cap down over my brow line, I hastily selected a promising citrus blend, paid for it and slunk out of the store. Jonathan was waiting for me in the car already, since five minutes in that atmosphere had been enough for him.
"Honey, that was just creepy," I said to him. "Is that what "tea people" are like?"

When we go to the coffee house up the street there are often men in flannel shirts, with beards and long hair. Mother's with sticky fingered children, jostle in line, maneuvering their baby carriages and smiling apologetically when they bump you by accident. They are REAL people. The tea house was a surreal experience. There was definitely a Stepford Wives vibe in that place. I'm sure that I'll have to go back for more tea at some point, but I'll make sure I go to the hairdresser right before and wear my finest woolen togs. And I can fake a British accent with the best of them. But just know, I'm no tea person. I'm a coffee lover all the way, just dipping my big toe in the fancy tea pool for some variety on a cold wintery day. Seeing how the other half lives, as it were. Pinkies up and all that rot...

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


I'm doing it again. I'm using my blog to avoid writing anything "serious". The blog is a light, airy, non-judgmental place for me to visit. I get to spout off on a certain topic, or recent occurrence in my life. Some folks read it. They give me positive feedback. I satisfy a certain writing urge. It's a win/win situation, right? Except for my angst over not actually making a solid effort to write anything else. Angst? Oh YES, angst!!
Why do I look at a blank page on my new iworks office program and feel like I'm staring into a snake pit? I actually managed to write a couple of pages the other day, but then pathetically the creativity dwindled, I lost interest, and I found myself on ...Facebook. I'm like a student with bad study habits. Do I need to lock myself in my office? Chain my leg to the desk chair? Have parental controls applied to my computer so I can't go on the internet for several hours a day? Quit Facebook? Get some black market Adderall? Is there an answer? No, I don't think so. I've been told that I need a writing plan. My plan is to write. Something. Anything. Fiction? Non-fiction? The idea of writing a novel is way too intense. How about some nice short stories? Or an essay? I continue to receive encouragement from many sources telling me that I should write. Oh blog, you've become my prostitute. I visit you for quick, impartial satisfaction a few times per month and neglect the other "relationship" that I'm supposed to be having with "real" writing. Don't worry blog, I can't quit you ( one of my favorite lines from Brokeback Mountain, from one gay cowboy to another). I do feel better now that I've stopped by for a quickie. Guess I'll log off and see if I can come up with anything spontaneous and brilliant that will get me published and famous and driving a Porsche and buying a house and... Maybe that's a bit too much pressure to put on myself. Therein lies the problem. I think I'll just make a quick cup of tea before I settle in...