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Saturday: Beautiful Things

Early Spring in Neshanic, NJ by local artist Joe Kazimierczyk

Early Spring in Neshanic, NJ by local artist Joe Kazimierczyk

Yesterday on my way to the fitness center, I passed under the branches of some large cherry trees at my worksite and noticed that they are starting to get buds on them. The transition from winter to spring has been slower than normal in NJ this year, making me momentarily question the conventional wisdom about global warming. We should have forsythia unfurling right about now. I expect it will happen within the next week. Some people like the seasons; I prefer climate. But I’m stuck in NJ so I’ll take what I can get.

This morning, I thought I’d step out of the Banzai Pipeline of political, economic and international turmoil that is bearing down on us and enjoy the beauty of the season. It’s a cloudy day in NJ, a perfect day to clean out the clutter and nestle on the sofa with a cup of hot lemon maté and a stack of seed catalogues and shelter magazines.  Two of my new favorite blogs, Design*Sponge and Remodelista are perfect for days like this.  This week’s Design*Sponge featured the house and kitchen of my dreams as well as recipes for a perfect spring brunch.

In the meantime, I’ve been spending 4 days a week at the fitness center, running, spinning and lifiting weights until my whole body feels like it’s coming apart at the seams.  It’s part of a fitness initiative and I’m on a team with 3 other people.  I can’t let the team down.  There are about 800 of us at 3 sites participating in this competition with some nice prizes in store for individual and team winners.  But, man, am I beat by the end of the day.  It’s about all I can do to eat my skimpy dinner and watch a little Star Trek before I crash.  Still, it will be worth it if I can see my cheekbones again by June when the competition ends.

So, for today, I’m going to catch up on the domestic scene, look for more budding plants and smell the earth.

Here’s a poem from ee cummings, one of the BFF’s favorite poets:

a)s w(e loo)k
S         a
rIvInG .gRrEaPsPhOs)

Welcome Spring!

59 Responses

  1. The essay, lovely. The painting, beautiful. The poetry, wtf???

    • Ok, cummings is messing with your mind. Turn the poem sideways, like an emoticon so that the flat side is on the bottom and the wavy part is on the top.
      Now, squint. What does it look like?

  2. I have no clue! Like with cooking, if it requires more than 3 ingredients, and multiple utensils, it becomes far too difficult for me and is an assured disaster. Short, sweet, and simple are the byplay of my existence.

    • It’s sort of a visual pun. The actual poem is actually quite simple. It’s only one line:
      Who as we look up now gathering into a T, he leaps arriving to rearrangingly become grasshopper.

      But if you look at the poem sideways, it looks like a grasshopper in outline with antennae and backlegs bent. At least, that’s what it looks like to me. And the body of the poem has the grasshopper coiling and uncoiling like a spring so the word grasshopper goes in both directions.

      Of course, some Jacques Derrida fan will probably interpret it differently but I think the concept of the poem *is* deceptively simple which makes it so frustrating when we look for deep meaning that isn’t really there.

      It’s just a funny little poem about a grasshopper that leaps.

      • Okay. But for someone who defines poetry from a Hallmark greeting card, this is another class I would have flunked along with cooking and calculus.

        • Pat, you are very funny. Delightful to read.

          • Seriously, Pat, you need to write another post. You are very Erma Bombeckian in style. Maybe you are our first breakthrough writer.

      • He must have had some kind of special relationship with his typewriter. Grasshoppers smell.

      • Please arrange the following into a “visual pun” poem that represents a squished grasshopper.

        Spring bad. Hot weather. Me sweat. Pull weeds. Back hurt. Mow lawn. Back hurt. Plant shit. Back hurt. Sweep sidewalk. Back hurt. Me sweat. Car broke. Me walk. Feet hurt. Day hot. Day HOT. Me sweat. Day long. Hate light. Air conditioner. Pay money. More weeds. Winter good. Spring bad. Spring BAD!

        And that is THAT. I hope we’re clear. Politics shmolitics; any more of this “Welcome, daffodils!” crap and I’ll de-list the Confluence.

        And sca-REW Derrida.

  3. Ummmm, grasshopper?

  4. Will go out to check the daffodils as a result of this inspirational post. saw this in my local paper, worth a shot. Earth Hour:


    Dim the lights for one hour around the globe. I love these possibly meaningless gestures. Yes, I participated in “Hands across America.”

  5. Spring

    A distant memory

    Ice forms on the stoop

  6. Thanks for the link to design sponge. That kitchen is
    simply beautiful.
    I am sitting here this morning trying to pick a paint color for my 1936 bathroom, which was freshly reglazed this week, and the bathroom in that house decided it for me. Politics and paint all in one morning.
    Mix a mimosa and the day will be perfect.

    • OooooooOOOOooo! What color is your tile?

      • White. I had it ‘perma-glazed’ the tub and tile are now a bright shiny white and the sink console is ‘espresso’/black, so I thought I should put a color on the walls, but this bath is striking with just black and shades of white, so, thanks to you, I am done with the decisions.
        The perma-glaze was an economic compromise, we had planned on building a new bath in an addition when I could get my 401k money. in a couple of years.
        wow. I could actually type that without weeping.

        • I’m really starting to like the shades of white uncluttered minimalist look. The BFF is going to freak when he sees all the little jars of white tester paints I am accumulating to redo the living room and dining room. He helped me drylock and paint the basement and that was a never ending saga.
          I think I may have to hire someone to do it for me this time.

  7. As a resident of mediocrity, just chalk me up to someone who takes comfort in the obvious. I get lost in subtext.

  8. I wish we had spring here, but we don’t get it as early as you do in New Jersey, RD. I still can’t see any buds on my forsythia. I do have a few little signs of life in my hydrangea bush out front and some leaves that will eventually be lemon balm. I love cherry blossoms, but we probably won’t see those for quite a while yet. In New Hampshire they still have several feet of snow covering the ground. At least our snow is gone for now in Mass.

    • It was a much colder March than recent years. I hate it when the heater comes on.

      • I hate that too. But one good thing about daylight saving is that with the longer afternoons I can keep the thermostat down as long as the sun is pouring in the windows.

  9. I’m pretending it’s spring on my Facebook FarmTown. It helps.

  10. Katiebird,

    I was talking about plants to my sister-in-law from NH last night, and I started remiscing about the plants I used to see growing wild in Kansas when I was a kid. We had pussywillows all over the place and I never see those here. I wonder if I could get them to grow up here in the northern region?

    One other wonderful sign of spring that I do have is that my bougainvilla has blossoms. I have kept it going in the over two winters, now but it never blossomed in the house before. I also have a mandeville and it is blooming too! I can’t wait to get them outside–maybe by May?

    • We don’t see grasshoppers around here either….

    • Oo! Oo! Yes, you can get pussy willows to grow in the NE. My mom has a killer pussy willow that she periodically gives cuttings to. Her cuttings grow like crazy in Camp Hill, PA and NJ.

      • I think you are in a different growing region than I am, but I am tempted to try it. I have seen pussywillows in garden catalogs before. Also, my sister-in-law said she saw a “weeping pussywillow” at a garden center. That sounds really pretty.

    • We had a Willow tree in our back yard when we first got our house but, we lost in an ice storm (the same storm that did this)

      I totally forgot about it until now. I should look to see if they’re selling them around here.

    • Bougainvilla in Boston? Congratulations

      • Thanks. I bought it three years ago for an outrageous price–I think about $35.00, but I just fell in love with it. I decided to try to keep it going over the winter and it didn’t look that great by spring but once I got it outside it went nuts again. I get full sun in part of my front yard for most of the day. I keep it right out in the sun. This winter most of the leaves fell off as usual, but in the past 2 months it started getting new growth and now it it is blooming. And I haven’t even fed it. I’ll have to do that this weekend.

  11. It is mild today and I have a few windows open just to smell the fresh Spring air! We had almost 6 months of winter this past year and New England, typical as it is, will enjoy a short Spring and then bounce us into Summer humidity where I will be bitching and moaning once again.

    • Yep. I miss the long, beautiful Indiana springs. Can you believe we used to have to have “transition” clothes there?

      • What I remember is that in high school, we had woolen uniforms, blazer and skirt. By the third week of Spring, we all wanted to disrobe en masse just to quell the itching but the nuns took a dim view. The only concession was that once inside the classroom, depending on the nun, we may be able to discard the blazer, but most of them told us to “offer it up to the suffering souls in Purgatory”.

        Now that they have abandoned the idea of Purgatory I am seeking retribution.

        • I sense the beginnings an fp post. When are you going to feel like writing again, Pat? Not trying to be a nudge….

          I posted on Catholic memories once.

          • bb: I need inspiration! I was thinking of doing an imitation of e.e. cummings, which to be honest, looks an awful lot like the retorts I gave to Carol back in the Ed Rendell days and needed no explanation.

          • LOL, Pat! I kinda miss those days of you and Carol talking back and forth.

  12. The bloom is on the cactus
    desert dandelions
    form a yellow carpet
    across the dunes
    verbena, primrose
    brittle bush
    baby blue eyes
    punctuate the message
    we have seasons

  13. Okay, about to go out for the day, but as I am a HUGE cummings fan (my mom read me cummings as a wee tot), I couldn’t resist:

    the wind is a Lady with
    bright slender eyes(who

    moves)at sunset
    and who—touches—the
    hills without any reason

    (i have spoken with this
    indubitable and green person “Are
    You the Wind?” “Yes” “why do you touch flowers
    as if they were unalive,as

    if They were ideas?” “because,sir
    things which in my mind blossom will
    stumble beneath a clumsiest disguise,appear
    capable of fragility and indecision

    —do not suppose these
    without any reason and otherwise
    roses and mountains
    different from the i am who wanders

    imminently across the renewed world”
    to me said the)wind being A lady in a green
    dress,who;touches:the fields
    (at sunset)

    • Yep, Just discovered Next Generation. The BFF doesn’t like the Star Trek franchise so for many years I didn’t watch. Took in a bit of Voyager back in the day and caught a few DS9. But for some reason, missed all of NG and Enterprise.
      Call me a sucker for good Sci Fi. The special effects are still cheesy and the characters a bit one-dimensional but it’s entertaining and every now and then, philosophical.
      It’s a guilty pleasure that I hide in the basement.

  14. Star Trek?? Who knew that there was a kindred spirit boldly going….

    Meanwhile, in western Oregon tons of stuff is blooming, come rain or shine…mostly rain lately.

    Between raindrops yesterday we built another raised bed, filled it with good dirt, and topped off the other 2 beds with @ 6″ of fresh stuff to work in. At my age I end up with a combination of a heat pad on my back and ice packs on my shoulders after a day like that.

    Today will indeed be a day of rest.

    • Yep, Just discovered Next Generation. The BFF doesn’t like the Star Trek franchise so for many years I didn’t watch. Took in a bit of Voyager back in the day and caught a few DS9. But for some reason, missed all of NG and Enterprise.
      Call me a sucker for good Sci Fi. The special effects are still cheesy and the characters a bit one-dimensional but it’s entertaining and every now and then, philosophical.
      It’s a guilty pleasure that I hide in the basement.

  15. Have pics but not the tech

  16. bb: You have e-mail.

  17. bb: You have e-mail.

  18. RD, lovely. I’m go to read some more e. e. cummings and put Oblahblah out of my mind for a while. Thank you.

  19. Spring!

    Boy are you lucky with that BFF if he whispers e.e.’s “small hands” ahem….

    ah poets……..!

    RD I loved that taste you have in beignets and kitchens. Out here architecture can be found like that all over the place. Basically houses are called “bungalows” — they built bazillions in the 1920’s into the 30’s. Anything under 1935 and you get all the fab details? Like all that wood trim and so forth — people redo them.

    Many friends of mine moved to Portland in the early 90’s. The architecture of the Northwest is totally classic —
    I found a picture of the outside of a house like that for you guys — the 4 square….


    You know what RD and Co?

    There is a point where how you are living is the most important thing. What has caused me to realize this was dealing with losses?
    Of family. My house was built in 1930 — when I did the kitchen over a few years ago now — it made all the difference in the world.

    That Spring cleaning deal? RD, I did the stove. That stove was the best thing I ever got. It’s not the top of the line thing, but? Wow.
    I got it at Sears — it was made in Canada. It has a convection oven and “industrial strength” burners. It looks like this:

    with this over it:


    That range hood was made in Italy. They were having a sale and so the stove was like $1700 and the hood $700. I got a Bosch (dishwasher to match — and that thing? OMG. It is silent — you cannot hear it — plus the design? Wow…

    These three things? You would not believe how great they are. My house is funny because the guy that built it in the 30’s gave his wife this huge (for the times) kitchen with a breakfast nook and a laundry room. When they opened up the walls to do some electrical?
    The whole structure is Redwood — a lot of it salvaged…

    Imagine — he created this house for her in the height ot the Depression.

    You would be amazed what a french door can do to add light for about $300. That made the laundry room an extension, now.
    I had this great handyman guy named Wayne do these things.
    He built me a dream — even though I knew one day the house might get rented out.

    I’ll try to take some pix.

    RD, white paint is usually a miracle — wainscotting is like paneling you nail or glue to the wall — made of pine. If the BFF can be………..?

    He could?

    If e.e. is his fave?
    Bet you have a charmer on your hands.

    ps: at the Y I joined —- OOOOoooooooooo those rooms full of machines — wow. I hear you. They have a POOL outdoors and finally it is getting warm enough. It’s great, going there. Actually it offers as many things as that stove does, in a way? I haven’t even tried half of them yet…..

    ps: the weather is very different out here — the seasons don’t quite come at the same times? Weird.

    hugs and great painting!

  20. Has anyone posted this yet?

    Krugman: the left’s new anti-Obama

    A stark image of Paul Krugman, the bearded New York Times op-ed columnist and Princeton economist, appears on the cover of next week’s Newsweek, with the headline “OBAMA IS WRONG: The Loyal Opposition of Paul Krugman.”


  21. Fif,

    I’m reading that right now!

  22. hi..friends,,i have enjoyed reading all the posts.thanks.
    it.s still cold here in Ohio.seems Spring is a little shy this year
    love you…….

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