There was a Sunday last summer, or perhaps the summer before, when I was at the SOWA market. In one of the many stalls displaying handmade goods, I was thinking that I had no use for the little pieces of pottery that I was admiring. Absolutely no use at all. But I wanted them none the less. I was not conflicted, I was only candid. After all, there was not a great deal of money involved, a veritable pittance when one took into consideration their charm
I love the little foot on this one:
And I was correct. I have absolutely no practical use for them. I buy so many littles, that I have run out of jobs for them.
I already have one for my ring:
(My parents brought this back for me from one of their trips out West)
One for my pearls:
One for my daily spritz:
(a dainty little dish from Monticello)
One for my mad money:
(a handmade gift from my offspring)
one for my lotion
(another handmade gift)
What to do? The search is on for a way to use these little treasures. I want to see them, I want them to be part of my day..
They obviously won’t do as a fruit bowl
too small to hold our ever expanding collection of beach rocks
not quite large enough for a serving size of 23 almonds
But then an idea struck me, and it was only because I undertook this consternation at the beginning of the day that an answer presented itself.
I will use one for my pills. It may sound a rather pedestrian use for such a pretty little vessel but isnt that rather the point of pretties? I have to take my medicine every morning an hour before I get up and since we are early risers here in Woodcock Pocket an hour earlier than early is early indeed. When it suits me, the pre-dawn rattling of a pill bottle is a handy passive-aggressive way to express any marital displeasure but usually I try to be quiet as a mouse so as not to disturb Mr Bebe in his last hour of sleep. The littlest little is the perfect answer, really. Its decorative knobs of slip (glaze) will keep the pills from sliding away from groggy fingers searching in the dark. The bowl is noiseless, and will be the last thing I see at night and the first thing I see in the morning.
Any suggestions for the other two? Don’t tell me to wait until I require multiple prescriptions
I love littles. I don’t understand why, but I do. Little objects of indiscernible purpose make me happy. Is this unusual? I am an inveterate collector of beach rocks, I have a couple of small crystals hanging in windows, I have all of my grandmothers buttons from her sewing box, miniature bows for miniature boxes for miniature gifts…it goes on.
Those of you that follow me on social media are forgiven for reading the title of this post as a deconstruction of a Gore-Tex and Polarfleece ensemble with handwarmers and Bean boots. My Instagram has been a venue for my winter griping and twitter and pinterest have served the same purpose. But today I am going in a different direction, though still somewhat (indirectly) blizzard related.
In order to survive captivity one must occupy the mind with a pleasantness. An occasional distraction from the gelid monotony. One of the ways I accomplish this is by joining Mr Bebe on the couch in front of the fire for a nightly episode of our new show:
I know that most of you have heard of Time Team, but it is a recent discovery for us. It suits our end of day routine quite nicely as it is interesting enough to capture our complete attention yet not so cerebral that it reminds us how tired we are. It’s like a personable Nova. Archaeology has always been one of The Four-along with opera singing, acting in British costume dramas, and and international woman of mystery-it is a calling I would have pursued, if fortune and talent were at my beck and call. The very idea of digging in the dirt and pulling out an object last touched by human hands more than 2000 years before is fascinating, and were it not for my debilitating camping allergy then I may have have been an archaeologist and adventurer myself.
But it is not only the fascinating archaeology that keeps us engaged, it is the sudden and seemingly incongruous bursts of sartorial folly that provide a humorus foil to the descriptions of Roman architecture and Iron Age pottery. Whether by accident or design these gaffes are integral part of the show, and we find that we begin every episode with curiosity not only for what will be unearthed but what will be uncovered.
I blame the producers. If they feel the need to inject a bit of flesh into the show why not hire some sexy young cheerleaders to jump around off to the side and leave the archaeologists to their work? They are taking advantage of these dedicated and scholarly men and women who may be very learned in their field but naive when it comes to the tacky, grubby world of commercial tv. So I find myself compelled to solve this problem for all of archaeology. I will clear my calendar and focus on this important issue. The show may be over but I am offering my services as visiting professor to all the graduate and DPhil programs to teach a course in Archaeology Outfitry.
ARC801: Fieldwork Practicalities: Unearthing the Past Without Revealing Secrets (Required) -Prof.Bebe
OOTD or Outfit Of The Dig:
Dressing for a dig, one must keep certain realities in mind: hour upon hour is spent kneeling in the dirt bent over at the waist. Space can be confining, and the work can be rather rigorous and there may be no laundry services available. Therefore, the best way to go about an outfit for a dig, whatever the season, is to dress as you would for an outdoor workout. High performance clothing is a must:
Water resistance is the key to fabrics for the summer dig. Whether a day of glistening in the hot sun, or working in rain and mud, these shirts and shorts will dry quickly, wash easily, and last the season. The bottoms should be of a darker color to hide the dirt and the tops should be light and bright so one avoids getting run over by a front-end loader. Sun protection is of paramount importance-a lightweight hat that is also water resistant and a tube of non-toxic sunblock should always accompany an archaeologist to the digsite. and her little daypack should include barettes to keep her hair out of the soup. Back at the tent, there should be a nailbrush and a manicure kit, and they should be used daily. Lastly a cushion for the knees-an eager young grad student may easily overlook this accessory but the knees age vigorously so unless she wants a couple of ripe advocados by the time she is into her tenure, care must be taken to pamper them.
Again, stick to fabrics that perform when wet. A good wool blend is best for the tops. The pants are can be lined, and outer shell should be water resistant. You really should consider silk long underwear ( I am wearing mine as we speak). It provides an exceptionally thin layer of warmth. I also recommend a polarfleece scarf for any outdoor labors. The fabric is soft, warm lightweight and very easy to clean; if it should get in the dirt it can easily be rinsed out and left to dry overnight. Along with a wool headwrap and wool glove liners this is an arrangement that should provide plenty of comfort in temps above zero Fahrenheit.
When the new generation of well groomed and attractive archaeologists hit the digs, tv producers will be inspired to renew Time Team, they will approach Bebe to replace Tony Robinson and I will spend my days exploring the archaeology of Western Europe.
It may be some time before I am heard from again. Mother Nature is collecting on her debts and the snow-free winter we have enjoyed thus far is coming to a sudden, blizzarding end. The storm of 2015 is bearing down upon us and three feet are predicted. As the very first flakes fall outside my window I have taken a moment out of my storm prep to send up what may be my last communication until the tulips poke through in the spring. You see, despite living in the woods, The Family Bebe are not particularly self-sufficient. Or woodsy. Or in the least bit rugged. Most notably, our entire homestead runs on electricity. Lights, internet, heat, water, pellet stove, everything requires a steady flow of juice running into our, …uh…whatever it runs into. One fallen branch across a powerline can put our whole operation out of business. Most of our neighbors, far more hardy than we are (my girlfriend has chickens and makes her own maple syrup!!), have generators, and could probably survive until the summer. We never really felt the need for such unattractive, cacophonous pieces of machinery. Rather seemed a bit doomesday prepper for our lifestyle. If our house ever fails to provide for us we simply close the door and go to another. But now our little upturned noses will be frostbitten because the snow will have us trapped here to face our folly.
Keep your fingers crossed for me. Mine will be too cold….
That’s how Paris felt to me. It may be easier to process as a tourist. I was almost jealous of the hotel-staying, English speaking, sightseeing crowd. Once the monuments are seen and the museums visited all that was left of the day was to enjoy a croissant or vin chaud. Not for them was the pleasure of buying groceries at night in the Monoprix, operating a French washing machine, tiptoeing up and down ancient stairs so as not to disturb neighbors, or navigating the city while scouring centuries of history stored in my mind behind a jumble of Frenglish.
No, for us it was an exhilarating, challenging and wonderful chance to be Parisian, not just see Paris. No lines, no English, no itineraries
So come with me, as we explore Paris.
Here we are: our apartment on Quai des grands Augustins. Standing at our front door, the Pont Neuf is to our left, Notre Dame to our right, the Seine directly in front of us and history all around us
Parisians are quite friendly, thank you very much. When planning our trip I came across quite a few warnings about the rudeness of Parisians, especially the waiters. I didn’t remember this from my last visit so I was dubious and I was right to be so-Parisians are quite friendly and personable. More so than the people of Boston. Which is not to say that Bostonians are rude (ahem) they are just into themselves whereas Parisians are into life.
I wasn’t impressed with the food.
There. I said it.
I heard a few gasps just then.
Everything was delicious, but there wasn’t much that I couldn’t enjoy here in Boston as well. What I enjoyed was the way the French eat: they sit down properly, and take their time. They eat everything we are told to fear: white bread, cream, real butter, cheese, and wine in the middle of the day. And I shall bestow upon you, free of charge, the secret behind the ‘French paradox’….ready? …Sit down, it will be a lot to process…hold on to your hat……
They eat LESS
Food is a serious business, it’s not to be rushed. No silly diets or fads. And unless otherwise advertised, the food is always French. No tex mex apps, oriental salads, or buffalo spices. We ate mostly in the brasserie, though. Although I grew a bit weary of croque monsieur I love that the menus are, for the most part, unadulterated.
We took a peek at the major sights of course
But the big sights needn’t be seen. Oh, to just wander in Paris! The city offers so much in her architecture and style that simply wandering through the streets is enough to get the experience of Paris. Every street was cobblestone, every building historic, every corner revealed an ancient church.
The Unexpected (The little differences that captured my attention)
Ou et le…..?:
I have an excellent sense of direction. And Mr Bebe is an actual expert in land navigation. So it came as quite a surprise to us when we found ourselves hopelessly lost on more than one occasion. At first it was a little concerning, standing stock-still on a Parisian street, map in hand, and absolutely no idea how to get where we were going. But I highly recommend it. You never find as much as you do when you are lost..
Let’s Not Get Physical
Since diet and exercise occupy much of my day, I found that spending time in a community that puts no thought into them at all was intriguing to say the least. So much extra time in the day! And they obviously know what they are doing: not everyone is thin, but no one is fat
Forget about water. The French just don’t drink it like we do. If you ask for water they will bring you a little bottle to share. So if you are, like me, the type that is very conscious of ‘eight glasses a day’ then you will find yourself parched. Drink more vin rouge to take care of the dehydration headaches. That’s what I did.
The pickpockets must make a decent living because they are out in droves and they do not even try to be subtle. Anywhere more than ten people may gather there will be a group of 20-something girls with crumpled papers approaching people for signatures. They were everywhere. Armies of them across the city, men and women,and we were warned by our Parisian friends that they can get very aggressive. The police won’t arrest them so they are free to grab jewelry and phones and run off. Its an interesting situation. For the most part we could simply rebuff them and they would move on but one man actually grabbed the hand of my 14yo daughter and got very close as his partner moved in. Fortunately I was right there and can give a quick slap like my Irish grandmother. Over here, these sorts of shenanigans would get you a pop on the nose. Lucky for him my husband wasn’t the one standing next to her.
People in this country would lose their minds if soldiers patrolled the streets. It would be viewed as a violation of civil rights, intimidation, and/or incitement. Personally, I like a man person in uniform. But then again I don’t do anything wrong. Not in public, anyway.
You’re on your own
Of course I never noticed it much before, but we are rather catered to in this country. Signs are translated, grapes are seeded, showers have doors, stores honor their posted hours. But in France I noticed a more laissez faire attitude toward providing conveniences.
Nowhere was this more evident than when we were abandoned at Petite Trianon. Shuttles bring visitors back and from from Versailles as they are quite a distance apart. After a late day visit to the Queen’s humble abode, I stood in line for the return shuttle awaiting my children. I told Monsieur ticket taker that we would be four for the trip and he said nothing. It would have been a bit helpful if he mentioned that this was the last shuttle.He didn’t even glance back at me as he drove away
Children are nowhere to be found, the shuttle has gone and suddenly there is not a soul to be seen. And this is in the woods, there are no main streets where a cab might be hailed. So we walked, in the misty rain, no maps, darkness approaching, and only our wits to lead us in the right direction
It’s amusing, but I felt rather unimportant. Didn’t the staff wonder why we were still there, damp and confused? Not a single patrol car or security guard approached us to ask if we were lost. Apparently it mattered to no one but us that we were stuck in the middle of Versailles all alone. C’est le vie.
I enjoy a challenge anyway.
And I hope my readers do as well-coming up: what I wanted to see in Paris. But first: an important day trip.
She smiled pleasantly. “That’s 40 euros, please” Quickly and efficiently change was made and tickets were delivered. Another smile. “Thank you, Merci.”
And with that brief exchange we began the last leg of our 12-hour journey. My non-existent French had made something of itself and I was surprised at the ease of it all. But we were struggling under the slumping fatigue of a sleepless night and heavy luggage. Paris had not waited for us, she was well into her day, and, in an additional act of betrayal, she wouldn’t easily give up our apartment. We searched, our minds on a job, our heads not yet in Paris.
Then, suddenly, we were standing on the Pont Neuf, the Eiffel Tower to our right, Notre Dame allowing herself to be observed to our left, and the Seine flowing under our feet.
Paris comes at you all at once.
Heavy, ornately carved ancient stone soars into the sky.
Paris delivers on all of its promises
Soon after purchasing those train tickets into the city we were immersed in Parisian life. We walked everywhere, we looked at everything, we spoke to everyone. Every minute of our day was filled, quite often with nothing at all. We left behind almost all of our other life, after all, it was only for ten days and France has so much to offer that you don’t want old habits to get in the way of new experiences. In some ways, we had no choice: we spoke little French and had to practice as we went, our computers and iphones failed to work for a myriad of reasons, and even the phone in our apartment didn’t work. But I think it was mostly Paris itself, she brings your senses to the very edge of overwhelmed and while you are there, you are so consciously in Paris, you cannot be anywhere else. Paris takes up all of your attention.
It has begun. The sky is a bright blue, the oblique sunlight is dazzling and the wind, our own mistral, swirls and gusts through the colorful branches and carries orange, red, and yellow confetti along in a carefree aerial dance
I just raked that area yesterday
We are deep into that season for which our little part of the world is so well known and although I am no fan of the cold weather which it portends, I do enjoy the fall here in New England. Much like the earliest settlers who reveled in the bounty of the harvest and enjoyed the last days of habitable weather before the frozen chill of winter robbed them of crops, livestock and occasionally family members, folks here seem to embrace this season with a happy heart in a last burst of conviviality before the long hibernation.
Maybe it’s the beautiful surroundings, where even driving down the highway is like a leaf-peeping holiday. Maybe it’s the cool nights when we can finally pull out our LLBean down comforters and snuggle against the chill. Maybe it’s the time spent at harvest festivals and apple picking rather than lawn mowing and pool cleaning.
pick some, eat some
blue sky, red apples
apple picking in central MA
The days are still warm and windows remain open, allowing the delicious smells of baked goods to waft out and tickle the air with delicious scents of pumkin pies, apple tarts and homemade applesauce. Indeed, one cannot walk around my neighborhood on a Sunday morning without the comforting smell of bacon and pancakes. Apples, honey, pumpkin, and squash overflow baskets and farm stands. On my own kitchen counter is a mini peck of macintosh apples destined for tarts, pies, pancakes and muffins
pumpkin apple bread, freshly made this very morning
One of my favorite things in fall are the crows. Those cacophonous and boisterous visitors have arrived, their black feathers, beaks and craggly legs contrasting against the bright yellow and orange leaves of the trees in which they sit, watching us… and plotting. Calling out to one another, not in the sing song melodious rhythms of their cousins, but in a loud and striking alarm reminding us that the end is near.
Where Spring peeps and twitters, fall gusts and caws. Even walking along with the dogs on a cheerful sunny morning the intense stare from the black eye of a jackdaw above -‘the grave and stern decorum of its countenance’-and it’s alarming call can give one pause, as if there is a warning to heed. They bring to my mind Halloween, Edward Gorey illustrations and Poe.
Edward Gorey cartoon for Masterpiece Theater. PBS has made yet another grievous error in eschewing this wonderful opening for something more slick and flashy
Typically not a fan of the macabre, I do appreciate the sharp contrast with the verdant summer. It almost puts me in the mood to celebrate the coming of winter, and to settle in comfortably with the understanding that summer is Nevermore
Edward Gorey’s Gashlycrumb Tinies
Black plants with black berries adorn our front steps
Edgar Allen Poe statue recently unveiled in Boston
Some boys are made of more than frogs and snails and puppy dog tails. Some are made of clever bon mots, good natured gibes, and sharp repartee. None more so than our dear GSL, that charming comment czar and post pundit who makes all of our blogs more interesting and entertaining and is never short of enthusiastic participation and loyal support.
We never stopped at the jewelry counter of Jordan Marsh. We simply and, I thought, hurriedly, passed it by on our way in or out. But the gems within captured my fascination and held it so tightly that I truly believed the natural order of the world would be best served by my having ownership of them. There was no desire to wear them around and cause pangs of jealousy from my enemies in the schoolyard; it was just a primal impulse to possess them.
I was reminded of an echo of that feeling when I spent the night at the Oliver Wight house.
I knew they had a Rufus Porter mural there, but not until I walked through the large old door and my eyes adjusted to the cool darkness of the hallway did I realize that it wasn’t on special display, guarded under glass or behind velvet ropes. There would be no guard approaching from the corner of the room to banish my camera, no visitors at my shoulder to apportion the view (or my personal favorite, read aloud)
There was not a soul around, and I was free to get as close as I wanted, to examine it at my leisure and take as many pictures as I chose. I could discuss out loud with Mr Bebe different points of interest which,I am sure, pleased him to no end. It was mine -all mine. Like ye olde canopy bed I would sleep in upstairs, this belonged to me, if only for one night.
An ambitious renaissance man and rumored to be the inspiration for Twain’s Connecticut Yankee, Rufus Porter was not only a popular folk art muralist and portraitist, but a teacher, a traveler, a writer, a poet, a publisher, and a keen inventor. He held over 25 patents and he started Scientific American magazine. He taught painting, opened a dance school, invented the revolver, designed an airship, wrote poetry and worked his entire life devising mechanical improvements for agricultural, military and transportation machinery
He spent several years wandering up and down the East Coast with his painting gear. He did some portraits but the bulk of his work was on the walls of private homes and public hostelries exchanging work for lodging. At some point in his travels, he stopped into an Inn in Massachusetts where, almost 200 years later, Bebe would rest her head.
*(the lighting was quite poor so the picture quality is inconsistent, Im afraid. Mr Bebe held open the door to let in more natural light which helped for some areas but not all.)
nota bene: Bebe is not adverse to having a Rufus all to herself at an inn…
To reflect upon my OOTS is to imply that it is a thing of the past, but that is hardly the case. We are still in the throes of summer and although Gentleman Farmer is sending his offspring back to school, the boys of summer are out of the pennant race, and last night I slept with a blanket I will hold on desperately to the dog days of summer
To this end, I will discuss my OOTS. Our clothing choices speak volumes, more about a persons life can be revealed in a top and bottom than in pages of text, and much of my life can be read in my wardrobe. Unwilling to adopt a versatile uniform in which I go from task to task in sartorial mediocrity, I am much more comfortable suiting my outfit to my actions. A very high-minded attitude for someone on the bottom of the family clothing budget hierarchy. And someone for whom fuss, bother and ill fit are equally intolerable. When I am not working out, landscaping or covering up a bathing suit I am in my normal daywear which must meet the aforementioned criteria as well as have the ability to go from boat to pub, walking tour to restaurant. A challenging task, but I do my best to come up with a few key pieces that I can switch up. To wit:
Cotton eyelet skirts. Although not quite fitted enough at the waist (Bebe has a hip to waist ratio she would rather flatter than conceal) they are comfortable and pretty. I have one in white and one in navy blue. Putting some thought into getting the aqua one as well
Cotton tee shirts-no prints please-that are cheap enough not to be precious and quality enough not to be cheap. I like to wear my pearls with a tee shirt, but only with a crew neck. I just don’t like the curvature of a 19″ strand of pearls cutting across the opening of a v-neck. White and black are my favorite colors but I particularly like the orange one (not pictured) that I wear with the navy skirt.
Summer feet The sneakers are from from LL Bean. They were on sale in the store this past Spring when I went in for something else and I picked them up just to have as a summer back-up. They turned out to be one of my favorites as the summer contains a lot of walking and occasional boat trips. I bought the Cole Haan loafers because I have two different pink tee shirts but they are not as comfortable as I originally thought. Otherwise I wear a pair of nude sandal wedges
My summer hat. I love it. I bought it at a little hat shop in Provincetown and though it was something of a spur of the moment purchase I have no regrets
My bag I know I seem an awful prep-a -doodle-doo but when your summer takes you from boat to barn you appreciate the yankee aesthetic and you realize why it came about in the first place. In this I can carry not only my wallet and keys, but sunblock, maps, water, a bit of lunch, family cellphones and glasses etc. And if I have to, I can zip the top up and keep them all inside. Very handy to deter pickpocketers in crowds and strong gales off the North Atlantic, though Im not too certain about how it will stand up to a horse looking for a mint- which I did almost find out when I casually hung it on a railing in the barn. It can get wet, banged around, packed away and still does its job flawlessly. Obviously I don’t take it out for an evening but otherwise it is my summer partner, my only concession to ‘uniform’ dressing.
These pieces are summer to me. It will be a sad day when I will prep them for their winter hibernation and pack them away. The colder months have their own charms, I know. But I am not a fan of the bulky wool and mulitple layers that they require. No, I like hot sun and lite cotton. I like long days full of activities, sunblock in my hair and cool pubs. The warm weather may last well into September, but the summer has only two short weeks left.
I was working-tap,tapping away at my computer, windows open, dinner cooking, wine poured. Typically a quiet time of day, the normal sounds of summer had suddenly risen to a boisterous pitch. Across the street, over a stone wall, and up a grassy hill, four children were swinging in their backyard. From where I was sitting in the dining room I could see them, and oh were they swinging. Obviously deep in the throes of competition, they were going as high as they could, yelling to one another gleefully. The instant that I looked up and saw them I was awash with the remembrance of that soaring, thrilling feeling on my yellow swing at Alconleigh.
Over, above and almost around-It was a homemade swing, my father built it from sturdy materials of longevity. Thick chains, hanging from a large piece of timber that was secured to the trees with massive bolts. The seat was a large chunk of wood sanded smooth and painted yellow with real oil based paint that wouldn’t peel, chip, or weather.
The pine trees it hung from soared up forever into the sky, trees that had been standing there for a century before they became the sentinels to my yellow swing. Something about the height of those trees made the swinging seem small, that no matter how high you could get you still were only frolicking around at their bases.
That feeling of freedom encouraged my mind to wander and though I paid not the slightest bit of attention to my safety, instinctively I held tight, managing to stay with the swing even when the seat came out from under me at the highest peak when, upside down with feet pointed toward the sky, the chains would slacken and the swing start to fall back on itself. This only added to the thrill.
Occasionally we would jump off rather than come to a stop, arms and legs flailing to get the most of the brief moment between swing and ground. I only see unsupervised children do that now.
And the space trolly was the cats pajamas.
Despite the picture, this was for older kids only as it was frought with dangers from which little tots could not protect themselves. We were warned: keep hands away from the cables or fingers could get cut off, dont bounce or the cables could rip out of the tree and slice our heads off..the warnings were dire. It was not for the faint of heart. Should you twist around the wrong way you would go crashing through the rhodedendron or careening into the rough bark of a sturdy pine. But all these dangers only enhanced the feeling of freedom as you flew 100 feet across the yard. No helmets, no knee or elbow pads just scrapes and bruises and exhilaration.