Clipping

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As a friend dropped me at the house Saturday and looked over at the field of clover, he said, “Well, I know you don’t like yard work.” He knew it before the blooms began to pop a month ago and his observation carried no malice.  The advice that followed revealed he wanted to help.

There are other things that need attention. Three large ferns hang on my front porch. It’s remarkable how they change the space, creating a sense of privacy though they block the view neither in nor out. From the street they look lush and full, happy and healthy.  Closer, you can see that there are sickly, brown, dead fronds beneath the cascade of green. I’ve been watering, but it runs through, creating a waterfall that splashes onto the stone ledge.

I worry about them.  They are in my care, after all, though I know I am not a good caregiver for anything that does not have a heart.  For the last few days, I’ve taken advantage of the rain and left the ferns in the yard for a good long drink.

I remember my mother caring for ferns in the ’70s.  She had a copper sprayer that was about five inches tall.  Its body was low and wide, curving up to a round handle for her index finger and a pump at the top that she pressed with her thumb to deliver a quick but gentle mist to the fronds of the plants.  She had small shears, the red handles longer than the blades, that she used to clip the dead limbs before she returned them to her macrame holders. When I have the opportunity to take inspiration on nurturing from my mother, I do.

Today, I brought my kitchen shears out to the porch and gently lifted the healthy fronds and began to trim the mess underneath. It was worse than I thought. The green leaves had hidden more dried, spindly stalks than I realized.  The whole plant was soaked and as I parted the curtain of green to get to the worst of it, dead leaves stuck to my hands.  Once clipped, the dried fronds refused to loosen their grip and I had to untangle them as they clung to their cousins.

It was the sort of task that was tiresome long before it was finished.  Beyond that, now there is a mess on the front step that I still need to clean, though I’m hoping another shower will wash away the debris.  It was heartening, however, that as I hung the ferns back on their hooks, I could see the thin, spring green stalks with gentle curls on the ends beneath the mature leaves.  I’m hopeful that at some point they will unfurl.

 

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From the Heart

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About this time every summer I wonder where I get the notion that summer is going to be relaxing. Three boys with some combination of sports, jobs, school and friends mixed with the regular nonsense of my work and my friends and, oh, two dogs – who think they want to be walked, but really it’s much too hot – is not relaxing.  It’s usually fun, but not relaxing.

Added to the mix this year was a family tradition of which our oldest was a part. This, too, took a little time, but was also a lot of fun. Some of the milestones in my children’s lives have been marked with gifts. Their father gave me a bracelet when each of them was born. They received silver cups and spoons, christening presents a little later on and gifts for graduations that seem to come nearly every other year.

Since this night was about him, I wanted to carry something with me to remind myself that for all the fuss of dress and shoes and hair and lipstick, I was there for him. He, who originally thought he might rather attend a two-day concert in Ohio, but who managed all of it with a lot of grace.

I stitched a clutch that is a jumble of where he is in his life now.  The five of hearts marks the Roman numeral of his name and the overwhelming love I’ve felt for him since the beginning.  The orange and blue is for Syracuse, where he has made his own home for the first time. The chairs were part of the portfolio he submitted when he was applying for school.  The building where they reside (on paper and in his imagination at least) is stitched on the other side.

Did he notice? Of course, he noticed.  He’s well-trained after all.  I imagine he’ll notice each time I carry it at the next milestone and the next.

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Line ‘Em Up

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World of Interiors always feels like a decadent indulgence.  Their product features are so clever.

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As I do love to draw on the walls, I notice when other folks do, too.  This very simple trompe d’oeil lite could be executed with a yard stick and any old curved thing to use as template.  I’ve done this by holding a dinner plate (or salad, or whatever) against wall or paper.

You know, because it’s summer and there’s always a little leftover black and white paint in the basement.

I don’t have photog info, but this feature appeared in April, 2016.

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The Good Lieutenant

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It’s good to have good friends.  A very good friend confirmed recently what I was feeling about a very medium dress.  It’s not easy to deliver difficult news.  Fortunately, I don’t have to do that today.

My friend, Whitney Terrell, has written a book.  The Good Lieutenant is not his first book, but it’s certainly his best book.  I would have read it start to finish regardless, though I was skeptical that I would be engaged by a war book. A book about Iraq.  Not that he had anything invested in my reading, he assured me that it’s a love story. He knows that’s a good hook for me.  The book is beautifully, and seamlessly, told in reverse order.  This unusual construction is not difficult to follow in the least and provides an interesting perspective on the development of his characters. I started reading Saturday and was awake until two-thirty this morning, captivated by their story.

Whitney was embedded twice in Iraq and reported his experiences for the Washington Post. He raises questions about how we define bravery and valor, but he doesn’t preach. It is always a very human story.  A bright and educated friend of his said, “I finished the book and turned it over to read the first chapter again.” It is the sort of book that you don’t want to be over, even at two-thirty in the morning.

You can find The Good Lieutenant here.  Reviews from Men’s Journal here and the Washington Post here.

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About Face

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I met Paul Vandekar a few years ago at the Laurintzen Garden Show in Omaha.

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We bonded over a Leeds horse and I’ve been on his mailing list ever since.

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I can’t remember when I met Piero Fornasetti, but it might have been hanging around Grace’s dining room.  I can still see that heavenly wall of the artist’s portraits of Lina Cavalieri against the rich russet walls.

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Regardless, it was charming to see them again in Mr. Vandekar’s catalogue.

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Pick a favorite or build a collection, either way it would be a cheeky addition to any interior.

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Piece by piece or in sets.  Here.

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