Happy New You

The first New Year's Eve that Allison was a little person who walked and talked, she misunderstood what we were saying to each other all through the evening. She would walk up to a new arrival and say "Happy new you!" with her big smile. Everyone loved it. Of course. It was actually closer to the sensibility of the moment than happy new year. The idea of new year's resolutions certainly has everything to do with making yourself over, doesn't it? On the eve of a new year, we can re-invent ourselves, become whatever we can imagine.

So Allison and Carl and me and Kim wish all of you a very HAPPY NEW YOU!


Best emails: What is love?

I found some old emails and discovered why they hadn't been deleted. Some of them are funny and some are touchy-feely good stuff.

Some 8 year olds were asked about the nature of love. Here are the responses:

When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different. You know that your name is safe in their mouth.

Love is what makes you smile when you're tired.

When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn't bend over and paint her toenails anymore. So my grandfather did it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis too. That's love.

Love is when my mommy makes coffee for my daddy and she takes a sip before giving it to him, to make sure the taste is OK.

Love is what's in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen.

If you want to learn to love better, you should start with a friend who you hate.

When you tell someone something bad about yourself and you're scared they won't love you anymore. But then you get surprised because they love you even more.

Love is when you tell a guy you like his shirt, then he wears it everyday.

Love is when mommy sees daddy smelly and sweaty and still says he is handsomer than Robert Redford.

Love is like a little old woman and a little old man who are still friends even after they know each other for a really long time.

During my piano recital, I was on a stage and scared. I looked at all the people watching me and saw my daddy waving and smiling. He was the only one doing that. I wasn't scared anymore.

My mommy loves me more than anybody. You don't see anyone else kissing me to sleep at night.

Love is when mommy gives daddy the best piece of chicken.

Love is when your puppy licks your face even after you left him alone all day.

I know my older sister loves me because she gives me all her old clothes and has to go out and buy new ones.

Love cards like Valentine's cards say stuff on them that we'd like to say ourselves, but we wouldn't be caught dead saying.

When you love somebody, your eyelashes go up and down and little stars come out of you.

Love is when mommy sees daddy on the toilet and she doesn't think it's gross.

You really shouldn't say 'I love you' unless you mean it. But if you mean it, you should say it a lot. People forget.


Problem solved

This room was a problem for us. Clearly, it's too skinny and to make matters worse, it's a main thoroughfare. A long time ago this was the patio of the original house and when it was turned into a room, they didn't make it any bigger, which was something it needed. We measured carefully (several times) and picked this lovely leather sofa and chair. There's not enough space between them for a "normal" coffee table. Kim and I scratched our heads and pondered what we could do for a table. We sketched out a couple of ideas. I truly admire how Kim solves a problem. He brings such creativity and playfulness to it. Then he competently executes it.

To solve the problem of the too skinny room, the table had to be very very thin at one end, so it would fit between the sofa and the chair. There was a little bit more room on the other end. His design is so elegant, so simple, and solves the problem so exactly rightly.

He wanted it to resemble a musical instrument. I think he succeeded, don't you?


Happy happy Christmas and joy to you all

This is the first video I've put on my blog -- I just learned how today. I'm thrilled to present for your enjoyment this incredible a cappella group Straight No Chaser.

P.S. This is for Lois and Cousin Waxx.


What a cute computer!

Isn't it precious? It just got delivered today -- it's Kim's new baby. He does love his computers. Oh, I don't blame him, they're fun and useful and ... and ... and ... and helpful. Yes, that's right. Computers can be helpful, that is to say, buying this computer can be helpful. It's a program called One Laptop Per Child and it's wonderful. If you want to participate, hurry, do it right now, time is running out. They have extended the program through December.


A Reminder

This is a reminder. In case I ever take myself seriously again, all I need to do is have a look at this photo.

I vacuum my backyard.

Yes. I do. While listening to tunes and sometimes dancing. Yup. That's me.


Stories told by flowers: Lorelei

These are Lorelei's orchids. Lorelei doesn't garden particularly, but she's always liked having some greenery in her house. Some friends gave her this beautiful orchid plant as a house-warming gift when she and Roland moved into their place in Dublin. She told me she was worried about taking care of it and did I know what it needed. Ooo sorry, orchids don't tell me anything about what they want. So she did her best. And would you please just look at this incredible, fantastic display of gorgeous, outrageous blooms!?

I've known Lorelei since she was in high school -- that would make it about 14 years. She was one of my students and what a joy! Every teacher's dream -- a fun, excited, laughing out loud, full of life-type person. I don't think I've ever met anyone quite so out-going. She makes friends easy as pie and stays with that friend forever. I can't believe how many people she knows and how long she's known them.

This is Marsood and he is her godson. He's the child of one of Lorelei's very, very good friends. Marsood's parents are amazing people. They have six kids -- some are his from an earlier relationship, some are hers, some are theirs that they've adopted. And these guys were willing to take crack babies and give them love and a home and an education. They truly are remarkable.

Earlier this year, Lorelei decided to make one of her life-long dreams come true: she was moving to Ireland. She'd talked about it for years. And then, out of nowhere, she met this lovely Irish man. And Lorelei doesn't fall easily in love. In fact, in all the years I've known her, I don't think she ever had a boyfriend. She liked guys okay, but maybe there wasn't a lot of trust there. Her friends must have given her about a dozen different going away parties.

Probably the hardest person to say good-bye to was Marsood.

Roland is the lovely Irish man that Lorelei met, fell in love with, and moved to Ireland to live with. I haven't met him yet but from everything she's said, he's a sweetheart. I'm really, really, really happy for both of them. They go about Ireland pretty regularly, finding interesting hikes, walks, farms, pubs and....

That was quite a hike that day. They climbed Croagh Patrick Mountain. I think Croagh means Saint. Nice view, eh?

People make pilgrimages to Saint Patrick Church at the top of the mountain.

It makes me very happy to think of Lorelei dancing through the woods with her young man. That's the thing about caring for someone: you really want them to be happy in their life. I think she looks happy, don't you?

Lovely spot. I'll ask Lorelei where they were that day. When you go to Ireland, you can take this walk too and see this view.

Recently, Lorelei and Roland traveled to Belgium, where Lorelei's mom was born and where her maternal grandmother lives. As long as I've known Lorelei, she's told me wonderful stories about her bonnemammy. And of course she wanted Roland to meet her.

Naturally you don't travel all that way and skip seeing the sights. When Allison and I went to Europe after she graduated high school, we visited Mont St. Michel too.

I need to ask her about this one. What the hell is an anchor doing in the front yard of a castle, for crying out loud? Oh well.

So that brings us up to the present -- okay, this is a few weeks ago. Roland cooked Thanksgiving dinner while Lorelei

trimmed their tree. Isn't it beautiful?

It's kind of hard for me to really "get" that Lorelei lives in Dublin, in Ireland. That's weird, you know? It'll be more understandable when I go visit her. I do miss her, a lot.


Florida stories: Inspired

A few weekends ago we went to the American Craft Show in Sarasota. These amazing shows are part of the work done by the American Craft Council. We saw such incredible things, such beautiful things, things you could easily and happily design an entire house around. Let me show you...

This lovely chair was made by T. Bayley Wharton who owns Furniture x DESIGN in Mount Airy, North Carolina. What we saw at the Sarasota show that isn't on his website, was a truly unique and exquisite platform bed. Absolutely gorgeous. And yes, I'd be thrilled to build a house around such a piece of furniture.

Then there were phenomenal pieces of glasswork, like this bowl with what might be little worlds resting in it. It would be like having your own universe sitting on your table, to be inspected any time you wanted. This was made by Geoff Beetem of Athens, Ohio. There were about 2 dozen glass artists and all the work was extraordinary. It was hard not to buy everything we loved.

Our house is full of ceramics. Kim's whole family -- his mom, brother Jeff, sister Susan, himself, and his daughter Slayde -- contributed graceful and handsome pieces. My brother Doug is also a potter and we have some of his work as well. I also collected pieces made by students when I worked at a high school. There were at least 30 ceramics booths at the show. We were awed, to say the least. This graceful piece was made by Gayle Pritchard of Social Circle, Georgia. I was sorely tempted to add this to our collection.

I really wanted to spend money on the elegant clothes. They were genuinely, unbelievably stunning. But I know that I don't wear clothes like that, I just admire the hell out of them and want to own them. Here's a divine jacket by Lynn Yarrington of New Haven, Vermont.

I typically don't spend any time looking at the jewelry booths since I don't wear any, other than my wedding band. I also wasn't drawn to the leather work. Normally, I wouldn't stop at musical instruments, but the booth called StrumSticks was amazing. Bob McNally of Rockaway, New Jersey has come up with a marvelous musical instrument that he claims anyone can play -- and never a wrong note. Check it out and decide for yourself.

I could go on and on. There were about 120 booths, an incredible array of handmade works of art. We talked about furnishing a house from an event like this, as opposed to Pier One or Target. What a different environment you'd create that way. Actually, our goal is to learn about making these kinds of things ourselves. We truly were deeply inspired.

All photos in this post came from the artists' websites. They are used without permission and will be removed at the artist's request.

In dreams

I've been dreaming about smoking. It's so real -- it feels like I AM smoking. When I wake up, I feel guilty, but I also feel like I've satisfied any craving I had for a cigarette. It's weird. I expect to smell smoke in the room. I worry that I've actually started smoking again without knowing it. Can that happen? It's so X-files.