Thursday, October 11, 2012

Ode to a Childhood Home

(This post first appeared on Apartment Therapy)

I spent this past weekend at my childhood home in Yonkers, NY, showing my daughter where Daddy grew up and helping my parents pack up a few final things before the big move. After thirty eight years, our old three-story Victorian will house some other lucky family. As I walked around the near-empty rooms it struck me how much that house shaped my ideas about space, architecture and design. While I will miss countless things about it, here are some details that epitomize why it will always be a treasured place to me.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

My Elusive Garden Gnome

A little red garden gnome visits me quite often. I have been trying to take her picture forever, but she is notoriously camera shy.
But I came across a passage in an old book about the best way to attract gnomes: bubbles! Gnomes love bubbles--who knew? Once I broke them out, she slowly emerged from the woods.
The little gnome didn't quite know what to make of them at first, but she quickly fell under their spell and had to take a try herself.
It took awhile. She even gave them a taste, but nothing was working.
She began to lose hope.
But gnomes are a stubborn lot, so she stuck with it and eventually--success!
She was so happy, she even smiled for the camera.
There's nothing cuter than a happy gnome.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

A Week on the Cape

It was the best of times.
 A week in Wellfleet, MA. A tiny run-down cottage across from the oyster flats. Grilled seafood. Casually pocketing five or six oysters to be eaten raw later. Catching sea bass on a fishing charter, and having your professional chef neighbor fillet and cook it for you. Seeing absolute joy on your daughter's face as she drinks in everything about the beach. Sitting outside and reading Thoreau's 'Cape Cod' while the two ladies nap. Crystal clear glacial ponds. Fish and chips. Sand castles. Cooler baths. Big gin and tonics with dinner. Being lucky enough to have a very cool couple with young kids renting next door. Managing to avoid all of the dreaded traffic. Daydreaming about owning a little place on the water. Relaxing. Making plans for going back. 

It really was the best of times.
Up close with a Monarch.

Big catch.

The freshest oysters evah!

Checking out a little crab.

She spent a lot of time happily shoveling.

Our little sugar cookie.

Ladies of the dunes.

This is the only way we could get her to stay still.

Impromptu bath tub.

That about sums it all up right there.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

How to Hide a Propane Tank

There is a propane tank hidden in here somewhere.
When I was building this house, there were a million decisions that needed to be made on a daily basis, oftentimes when under the gun with a sub contractor waiting on your word or a backhoe idling in the driveway. And with what these guys charge, you want as little idling and waiting around as possible. So while some things were planned meticulously, like the way our kitchen flows into the dining room with an extra-large slate countertop peninsula between them, other things were decided on the fly. Like where to put the 250 gallon propane tank. Of course, it needs to be somewhat close to the house. But only a fool would put it at the head of the parking area, so it is the first thing anyone sees when they pull up to the house. And only a short-sighted moron would have this space also be perfectly framed by the kitchen window above the sink, where countless hours will be spent scrubbing pots. And only a...well, you see where this is going.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Evolution of a Blanket Fort

Nothing is more classic for indoor play than a blanket fort. Over the past month or so I have been tinkering with them, creating them on the fly with whatever material was at hand. I know that sounds stupid, since the materials are basically blankets and things to drape them over. But if you know me at all, you know that eventually that wasn't going to cut it anymore. Shit was going to escalate.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Mainely Awesome

We recently spent a week in Maine visiting family and old friends. It was blazing hot but we managed to stay cool, have fun, and eat plenty of lobster. Here is a photo recap.

cooked, uncooked, she doesn't care

lobster soft taco with pasta and grilled veggies--yeah, it was as good as it looks

a little cool down

wiffle ball in the back yard--summer has truly arrived

a very one-way game of catch

big ocean=big hit

one of the most relaxing back decks evah!

a very poor panoramic of a very incredible view off of the back deck

The obligatory photo at a lighthouse

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Opening Pandora's Box

Sometime last year, I submitted my children's album Huckleberry Party to Pandora, and after a month or so I was informed it was accepted. Sweet! They told me the process was not a quick one to go from accepted to actually being played on the service, but I was in no rush. I checked in every week or two, and eventually, months later, there I was. 'Would you like to create a Richard Popovic station?' 'Why yes, I think I'd like that very much.' I set it up and wondered what song they would play first. OK, not one of mine, no biggie, I bet I'll be next. OK, not that one, maybe the next one. Or the one after that. Or after that. Or maybe at half past not in my lifetime...

Friday, June 22, 2012

Blind Faith: Reflections on Father's Day

Chilling in the grass

As the weather steadily gets warmer I find myself taking my daughter to play on the local church lawn more and more often. It is the closest big flat grassy area to our house, and since flat areas are hard to come by on our little piece of land, I have been making the steep and arduous trek up there whenever the sun shines. The church is old and has a few huge uneven granite steps leading up to the front doors. We spend a lot of time going up and down these steps, ignoring the lawn and the toys I have so invitingly spread out on it.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

New Bees, Old Burdens

A queen cage. Notice the white dot on the queen's abdomen.
One always approaches the beginning of the beekeeping season with trepidation. Did the hive survive the winter? Do they have a queen? Is she going to lay? When will first bloom be? They are delicate creatures, at least up here in the great white north they are. So it was with joy that I discovered both of my hives had survived. An excellent start. I started to count the extra pounds of honey I was going to harvest with two hives at full strength from the get go. But Grandma always said don't count your honey before it is bottled. Or something like that.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Garden Gossip

A nice row of bush beans.

Last year was not a great year for the gardens at my place. With O. being born in March, any planting was haphazard at best. I had the best of intentions to make this year better, but it has not really panned out. Some tomato plants, some winter squash and some bush beans just about sums it up for the vegetables. That and some carrots, which are usually a complete pain in the ass to plant because the seeds are so small, and then you have to thin them, which no one ever does well enough, and then the carrots end up tiny and oddly shaped. Not this year. This year I found Carrot Tape, which are seeds spaced perfectly apart, embedded in a biodegradable paper strip. All I had to do was make a little trench, cut the tape to length, and I was done. A couple hundred carrots planted in five minutes. If this works I am will be a fan for life.

Two things I am psyched about garden-wise are my blueberry bushes and my sapling screen.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

May Day

Under the Maypole.
Don't misunderstand me--I do not mean May Day as in my ship is going down (although on some days...). I mean May Day as in the celebration of the first of May and a welcome to spring. Nelson holds a great gathering every year on the town green with a maypole, Morris Dancers, and a cakewalk. I wasn't sure what a cakewalk was, and have since learned that it involves kids walking around the maypole and then stopping all at the same time. If you are standing on a wooden plaque, and the number on the wooden plaque matches the number called, then you win a cake. A whole cake! Sounds good to me.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

In Search of Wild Edibles

 A friend gave me a tip the other day about a nearby location for fiddleheads. For the uninitiated, fiddleheads are what ferns are called as they emerge from the ground, before they unfold. While not all are edible, and some are slightly carcinogenic, if you find a patch of Ostrich Ferns, you got it made. Because they are considered safe to eat, and are absolutely delicious.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Easter in Pictures

Easter at Fran and Pam's house, lest you think that I could pull off a perfect table setting like that. I sure as hell cannot.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Welcome, here is your complementary pie

Nice flutes.
Wouldn't life be grand if we all received a pie just for being born? What is more welcoming than a home-made pie? Sure, you--being one day old and all--can't really enjoy it. But the folks who brought you into this world certainly can. Don't worry, you'll get a shot at your own pie when you have a kid. Sort of like Social Security, but better funded and less political.