Sunday, May 31, 2009

A night with the Haworths

Friday, I spent much of the day cooking a few of our favorite things. Here are the ingredients for Molly's aunt's lemon-dill salad dressing (with salt and pepper too); I used only a bit of that dill. I just liked having lots of the herbs I used (rosemary , sage, dill, thyme..) hanging out around me while I cooked. Here is the recipe. Please try it.

1/4 to 1/2 cup olive oil
zest and juice of one lemon
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dill
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup parmesan cheese

Mix all ingredients. For best results, make ahead of time and refrigerate for a few hours to allow flavors to meld.

I also roasted some homemade fries with Nicolas' young yukon gold and red potatoes:
The main event was one of Gillen's Bronze Turkeys.

This feast was inspired by a visit from the Haworths, who were on their way to the beach. As it was also Alex's 14th birthday, we made his favorite dessert, apple crisp with ice cream.
It was our second Thanksgiving feast, just this month. At the other end of May, on the night before I left for Boston, Nicolas' brother Damien and his family came to dinner. That turkey was good as well, but now I've really gotten this turkey preparation thing down. Damien, you'll have to come again. It's all about the overnight brine. I like Wolfgang Puck's recipe - lots of honey, maple syrup, coarse salt, cloves, ginger, herbs... We ate every bit of that bird.

There were mojitas made my Mindy with my neighbor's mint (mmm!) accompanied by lots of good talking:There was night swimming:The next morning there were Mindy's cinnamon rolls, Gillen's birthday sign and the perfect gift to Alex from his siblings - a shirt with his World of Warcraft character on it. A very good time was had by all.

Thursday, May 28, 2009


In my opinion, there is not much that can compete with the joy of holding a six-week old baby. Isha is feminine, tiny and perfect. I washed our clothes yesterday but was careful to leave out the shirt that smells like her. It was hard to say goodbye to she and my sister.

At the same time, it was wonderful coming home to my guys, and to the newest blossoms from the farm:Today, Gillen, Jesse and I finally had a quiet day at home. I have been fully appreciating all that these eight and eleven year old boys are about. No more intoxicating essence coming from the top of their heads, but it is nice to sometimes know what they are wanting/thinking. I did not take my camera to Montana but my sister let me take a few with her's and will be sending me a CD. I'll get to wax poetic about Isha then.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Too often, lately, it moves lightening fast. It blurs by, just like Fracas while in pursuit of a frog; or on a low to the ground sneak inside to grab a lap:That is how quickly my boys seem to grow.At least he is still using the wrong side of Nicolas' razor, and apparently even the wrong end of his face:
At least there are still dinosaurs on the edge of the bathtub.

I love Nicolas in pajamas.

I will be gone for a time, to Montana, where my little sister lives with her husband and new baby girl, Isha. I am respectfully requesting (in my mind) that there be no growing while I am gone.


It is way too soon to be leaving them again. Once a year makes way more sense than twice in one month.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Saturday in the country

As opposed to last Saturday, when I was packing in art films, bookstores and city friends, today was all about Gillen and Jesse and their favorite things to do - which are much better done in the country.

Most Saturdays start with Gillen's archery class. He is getting really good. I admit to hoping that archery competitions, with their stuffed animals, end up enticing him more than real hunting. But then, I grew up in the city. Gillen thanks God he's a country boy.We bought books at the Scholastic book fair and then made our way to our local Rutledge May fair. There were country bands, barbecue, art booths and pony rides.

We got to visit Molly in her studio there and tell her how much we loved her newly published book, How the Caboose Came to Rutledge. She and her husband Ed owned our house before we did. Ed threw out his back while creating this house's second floor. The book is about him giving up the hammer and nails and deciding to buy a caboose. He did just this. Over ten years ago, Ed bought a sweet little red caboose and moved it to Rutledge in order to open an ice cream/ sandwich shop.

We got to see the original pages for the book framed on Molly's studio wall. Our house is in the book:
Then we went next door to The Caboose. I got homemade lemonade, Jesse had a double scoop cone and Gillen had a green and blue ice.
Next was bungie jumping.

Back home again, there was baseball (Jesse's latest self-proclaimed obsession):
My cousin Lake came to dinner.He played baseball, then football and helped Jesse for a while with the guitar.
It is now Sunday. The boys are out there gardening and I'm going to soak and then stuff our grape leaves with something good and serve them with greek salad for dinner. But we also have big sitting-on-the-couch-with-a-movie (or several) plans. I'm looking forward to that.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Boston, part two

On Sunday, I met my friend Cary Godbey in Back Bay. In the seventies, she lived around the corner from me and we shared our long daily journey to Park School as well as our young latch-key-kid highs and lows. She brought me my homework for two weeks when I was out of school at thirteen with shingles. She introduced me to James Taylor and Pousett-Dart Band and Dan Fogelberg. She was cool, and full of life, and a really good friend.

Before I met Cary, I went to the front steps of my own building on Marlborough St. and then went around the corner to Exeter St., to visit my tree. When I was about seven, several kids in the neighborhood were assigned a square plot of sidewalk, its concrete covered up with soil, on which to plant a small tree. Here is my tree, about 35 years later. Sunday was a beautiful day in Boston. It was Mother's Day. We couldn't imagine that anyone would be home. But we managed to get inside both buildings and into both of our old condominiums. Cary's had the same owners that had bought her place from her mother and it had most of the same wallpapers and paint on the walls, as well as her mother's 1970's avocado-green colander and green glass jars.

We got inside of my bird-cage elevator, both crying and laughing our slow way up to my old landing. There is a sky light at the top of the elevator shaft, so as you approached my floor, the 6th, you would feel, looking up through the open elevator cage, like you were going to burst right through the glass, like Willie Wonka does with Charlie, in his chocolate factory. Several friends had shared that memory with me the night before.

We left the birdcage, climbed up some new-to-me steps in my old hallway and went through a metal door that opened onto the roof. This was where my family had gathered to listen to the Boston Pops, eat our annual lobsters and watch the fireworks being set off over the Charles River, every 4th of July. In the winter, it's one of the places where I'd built snowmen with my brother.
The trees are growing past the buildings! So cool.
Here is another view of Marlborough Street, below, but this one is through my old living room's window! Due to Cary's fiesty encouragement, I knocked, waking up a very pregnant woman and her husband. They were so nice about it and invited us in to explore.
Unlike Cary's, only its shell remained the same as 28 years ago. It has been modernized, with lots of doors added between rooms and a ceiling lowered in the living room. Everything was painted a stark white and the floors were all restored, and bare. I don't have many pictures. I missed the many avocado trees growing in big pots, the long paths of of ivy winding over the fireplaces and the colorful wallpapers.
It was fun to see the old place again. But I had no longing to be back. Without my mother, Jody, Ulle, my brother Kenneth and our German Shepard, Damien, it felt warehouse-empty. It was like seeing a loved one who has died - this body, too, was nothing but an abandoned snake's skin. The life had left the building.

A few hours later, flying home, my descending plane's video screen showed an interview with players from the Atlanta Braves. On the way to Boston, they'd shown the Red Sox. I'm not a huge baseball fan, but at the sight of the Braves, a lump formed in my throat. There is a nostalgic hold that Boston may always have on me.

This week, I was surprised by just how happy I felt to be living here, in the country. In this moment, with the boys, with a farm rooster simmering in the pot and Gillen and Jesse's garden through the window, I am so glad to be here now, and now, and now, as I was never able to be back then. Hopefully, my children are having that chance now too.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

May flowers at the farm

Thanks to April showers, and a lot of hard work by Helen and her team.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

My Weekend in Boston

Though rain had been predicted, instead it was one of those perfect, soft May weekends, with Cherry trees, tulips and every other spring-thing in bloom. I got loads of city energy from so much people-watching and from seeing the buildings of my childhood. I also managed to appreciate the subway all day Friday, and then to be off of it before there was a serious wreck on it that evening.

Boston is so pretty.I took the subway from Logan airport to Boylston Street, near where my mother's ballet school used to be, and then walked to the Public Gardens. I saw the Swan Boats, the Frog Pond and the statues that had been part of my childhood from the time I was seven.

I ate at a cafe on Newbury Street. It was one I'd been to before, but with another name (both mine and that of the cafe).

Walking to the Boston Public Library, I saw that the building where we'd performed when I was with Boston Childrens Theater had now become an H&M clothing store.

In the middle of the giant Boston Public Library is a courtyard, with tables and a fountain. It feels like an Italian Piazza, without the good coffee and loud voices. I sat here for a while.
The sun moved in and highlighted the girl to the right of the fountain, and I thought of my childhood friend Ruth, and how we had shared a love of books, of writing and of our own unique whackiness, at Park School, at the library and at (what was then) Newbury Street's Harvard Bookstore Cafe. This girl looked so much like her.
Ruth couldn't make it to the reunion.

But, it was so great to stay with my first best friend - Sally Solomon - and to see so many others.

See how giddy I am? See what the old friends are thinking? "Barbara" really needs to get out of the boondocks more often...We all immediately slipped right back in synch., connecting as easily as we had back then. They all now know about unschooling. I learned a lot too. They remember lots of fantastic stories, even ones about my childhood home and family, that I had forgotten! I'm blaming it on moving around so much and not getting back in touch sooner. Or, I just live in the moment too effectively. Yeah, that's it.

It's nice to think that these memories were stored with old friends. Maybe I'll be able to hang on to a few of them now. Periodically, I'll have to record some here.There were other highlights :

- Going alone to a Coolidge Corner art house movie theater (where the popcorn was organic and the butter was real!) to see a film, "Every Little Step" about the making of A Chorus Line (a show that my mother and I loved and trudged through the blizzard of '78 snow to see).

- Sharing a Turkish brunch and deep conversation with my stepfather.

- Browsing through a great independent bookstore for an hour and then buying a book I've been waiting to find for months, that was now available in paperback - Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri.

This next one really needs it's own post. Remember the picture (you three regular readers ;) that I posted of myself in this post? The fireplace remains the same but everything else has evolved.
To be continued.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Where the Boys Are

This past weekend, visiting Boston and Brookline and my friends from thirty years ago, was magical. I loved growing up in that part of the world alongside those people. Much of my long-ago past rushed back to me through the city smells, the walking, the subway rides, the ancient bricks, the street signs and through the (previously forgotten to me) stories shared by my friends. I will post about it soon.

Today, it was all about my guys. Being away from them for a few days, especially when there is a plane involved, always makes me smotheringly appreciative of them when I return. I so love Boston. But this is where the boys are.

Nicolas hosted a big Seeds of Change event at the farm today. I blogged about it at that other blog. I love watching him talk about the farm. Even better was the moment when he pulled me into the barn, opened the cooler and... (you're having crazy thoughts now, aren't you) handed me a huge bunch of asparagus he'd put aside for me. good as my first kiss ever, with red-headed John Tayer in seventh grade.
There were thirteen new additions to the farm over the weekend. Twelve are from Gillen's heritage breed turkeys, the Bourbon Reds. One is a Standard Bronze turkey. Gillen's glad that he will have so many new heritage birds. He is feeding the poults yogurt and egg yolk (thanks to Danielle) and we hope this group will make it.
Jesse gave me a tour of the vegetables he had discovered on "that really long day" (Friday) that he spent at the farm while I was gone. Thankfully, he had a great time the rest of the weekend.

The tomatoes have outgrown him:
He led me to his favorite row - the sugar snap peas - and picked me a handful.
Despite my love of the Boston Public Library, which I did get to re-visit, there is something to be said for reading Calvin and Hobbes in the middle of an unoccupied field:It is good to be home.