friday five

Friday Five

1. Shake your groove thing. This week I was invited to a performance of the legendary Alvin Ailey Dance Company at the Apollo Theater. I don’t know much (okay, anything) about professional dance. In fact, when I was a kid, my mom signed me up for tap dance lessons and after a few sessions, the teacher gently suggested I find another extracurricular activity. Let’s just say graceful movement is not my strong suit. But I digress…

The Alvin Ailey Dance Company started in 1958 with a group of African-American modern dancers. They have toured around the US and 71 countries, worked with Duke Ellington, and have a dance school for the young ‘uns. There is something about the energy of a live performance (be it music, theater, dance, etc.) that makes a recording pale in comparison. Maybe that’s because there are no “do-overs.” You’re there with the performers who have trained for many months, probably years, likely decades, to bring you this one-of-a-kind show. They show up and put it all out there every night, and I admire that.

Ailey at the Apollo

The Apollo is notable in its own right. Opened in 1934 in Harlem, the theater has hosted legendary performers such as Billie Holiday, James Brown, Ella Fitzgerald and Stevie Wonder. Aretha Franklin won the Amateur Night at the Apollo competition and was paid $25 for her efforts. Can you imagine watching young Aretha perform from these seats?

Box seats at the Apollo

Box seats at the Apollo

I couldn’t take any photos during the performance, so I took one of my program.

This leaves me speechless on several levels.

This leaves me speechless on several levels.

Here is a short video featuring clips from different performances. Don’t they make it look easy?

Have you been to any live theater lately?  

 

2. Platform Diving. This mosaic adorns the wall of the subway station near my office. It’s one of those things that I look at but don’t really see every day. Then, for some reason, I took notice of it last week. Check out all of those tiny glass tiles that create the picture of whales swimming on the subway. I wonder how many tiles are in each mosaic. There are seven mosaics in Deborah Brown’s installation along the platforms. Some have turtles, manatee and octopi. Brown was inspired by the way underwater creatures navigate in passageways and tunnels just like subway commuters.

Is there anything that you pass every day but don’t really see? 

Subway mosaic

Platform Diving by Deborah Brown

 

3. The danger of a single story. In my first novel set during World War II, the main character, Rose, questions the US propaganda machine pumping out horrifying images of the “Nazi devils.” She figures that there must be German wives and mothers, much like herself, who are concerned that their husbands won’t make it home alive. From there, a sort of compassion develops for her counterparts on the other side of the war. When I submitted these pages to my workshop group, a woman derided the scene. “This would never, ever happen,” she said, waving her hand dismissively. “You make it sound like Rose doesn’t support her country. You make it sound like she’s changing sides.”

“You don’t think that a person in her situation might consider the opposing point of view, especially when the goal is the same on both sides?”

“No. A person with Rose’s background would not have been open-minded enough to consider that possibility.”

Ironic, no? I was a little surprised by this woman’s vehemence. Then I realized that she had developed a single story of an entire generation and clung to it without reservation. It didn’t occur to her that in every country and culture, past and present, there are many stories. While there may be a pervading opinion or situation, to say that everyone believes this or everyone lives like that leads to stereotype and critical misunderstanding. Some of this is reinforced through literature (and media, but that’s another post!). Which is why, I think, we often find “truth to be stranger than fiction.”

Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Adichie discusses this beautifully in her TED talk as she relates how, time and again, she has misinterpreted others or been misinterpreted by others due to the single story. A wonderful reminder for everyone to stay open in the face of pervading evidence to the contrary, especially poignant for those of us who are writers.

“The consequence of the single story is this: it robs people of dignity. It makes recognition of our equal humanity difficult. It emphasizes how we are different, rather than how we are similar…Stories matter. [Having] many stories matter.  Show a people as one thing — as only one thing — over and over again, and that is what they become.”

 

4. A tree grows in Brooklyn. A mural in a community garden near my apartment where I sometimes stop to read a book with a cup of coffee.

A tree was planted

 

 

5. Search Term-apalooza! It’s time, once again, to play Search Term-apalooza! This is a fun game when we take a look at the search terms people have entered and found themselves, for better or worse, at this blog. Here we go:

  • Clown car min-van
  • Cangro mating (I’m feeling a little exposed)
  • Numerical reasoning (clearly they are in the wrong place)
  • How to be a captain at a party
  • Inflatables
  • Help me come up with a rhyme for my sales pitch
  • Wash your dishes
  • Raising worms cinnamon
  • Hiding under desks
  • Creamed in fishnets
  • Bubbling in wall
  • Nutella crepe hangover (my favorite!)
  • I’m crazy about you

Are there any usual search terms that have led people to your blog? 

Have a great weekend, everyone!  Happy Mother’s Day to those who are celebrating this weekend. 

Vendredi Cinq (Friday Five) From Montreal

I hope you all had as much fun as I did with the Where in the World Am I? contest. Thanks for posting your guesses! I was so excited to see where you thought I was, and now I’ve added a few destinations to my bucket list! By the end of the week, many of you had guessed correctly – I was in Montreal!

A big thanks to Serena Kovalosky over at The Artful Vagabond and Caitlin Kelly at Broadside, both of whom have a special fondness for Montreal and offered wonderful suggestions to help us see the city like locals. Well, not completely like locals. The only French I know comes from risqué songs, so I was a little nervous after reading Le Clown’s post. But after I butchered the pronunciation of nearly every word (Bon-gewer!) Montrealers kindly switched to English. Let’s just dig right in, shall we?

1. The Bagels.

For those of you who think those tasteless disks you find in your grocer’s freezer are bagels, I’m here to tell you that you’re missing out! Now, I live in a city where bagels are as ubiquitous as snarky comments. If I were a betting woman, I’d say there are dozens of bagel shops in my neighborhood alone. In short, I know bagels. Good bagels. So I was a bit skeptical. I mean, look at the difference. (What’s up with the giant hole?)

But I need not have worried. Montrealers take their bagels seriously. Some folks will have their bagels shipped from St. Viateur or Fairmont, two venerable Montreal institutions. Heck, Montreal bagels have even made it into space. What makes them different? They are baked in wood-fired ovens with a bit of honey, whereas New York bagels are boiled.

A bagel at Beauty's.

A bagel at Beauty’s.

I had my bagel at another must-eat, Beauty’s Luncheonette and served by this sassy, charming woman. Beauty’s has been in business since 1942, opened by Hymie and Frieda Sckolnick. While we were there, Hymie (now 91 years old!) made a brief appearance. Beauty was Hymie’s bowling nickname.

Beauty's

Beauty’s

2. The Poutine.

The what? The poutine.

Montreal Poutine

Montreal Poutine

What’s not to like about poutine? French fries (good). Cheese curds (good). Brown gravy (good). It seems to me that poutine is to Montrealers what Krispy Kreme doughnuts were to those of us who went to college in the South.  In other words, it may have certain restorative powers, though I can’t lay claim to that as we found ourselves at a local poutine joint, La Banquise in the Plateau neighborhood, at dinner time. French fries for dinner? Why, yes. And we weren’t the only ones. There wasn’t one table open while we were there. By my count, La Banquise had 25 different kinds of poutine, though we decided to go with the classic.

I'll be needing a fork, thanks.

I’ll be needing a fork, thanks.

3. The hockey. Go to Montreal and not catch a hockey game? Why, that would be like going to Paris and not visiting the Louvre, going to China and not walking along the Great Wall, going to New York and not running into Maury Povich. You get the idea.

On this day, the Canadiens (a.k.a. the Habs, can anyone confirm why they refer to the team as the Habs?) took on the Philadelphia Flyers.

Go Habs Go!

Go Habs Go!

The Canadiens lost 7-3 and this photo might give a clue as to why. Notice all of the Canadiens’ players (in red) looking in different directions? That seemed to be the theme of the evening. But it was fun to hear the fans call to the players in French whilst drinking our $11 American beers (not a typo).

Montreal Canadiens

Which way did the puck go?

A few of the flags representing the 24 Stanley Cups the Montreal Canadiens have won.

A few of the flags representing the 24 Stanley Cups the Montreal Canadiens have won, more than any other team.

4. The church. Our first day in Montreal went something like this:

Snow in Montreal

So we decided it was an indoor day and went to Notre Dame Basilica. I don’t think the photos do it justice, but here goes.

Notre Dame

Completed in 1829, the nave is covered in 24kt. gold. This is with the altar lights on.

This is with the altar lights off.

This is with the altar lights off. The ceiling is a dusky blue covered with gold stars that is stunning. I don’t think I’ve seen that before.

We couldn't get a great shot of the outside, with the snow and all, so this is from Wikimedia Commons.  Notre-Dame Basilica, Montreal, Quebec, Canada. View from Place d'Armes.

We couldn’t get a great shot of the outside, with the snow and all, so this is from Wikimedia Commons.
Notre-Dame Basilica, Montreal, Quebec, Canada. View from Place d’Armes.

5. The winner. Thanks to everyone for participating in the Where in the World Am I? contest, where each day I posted a clue to my location. The first person to guess correctly got to choose the charity for the donation. Well, I won’t keep you in suspense  any longer! The lovely Ema guessed Montreal on day two! She lived in Montreal for three years, so I think she had an inkling. She loves the ocean, so she’s chosen to have the donation go to Oceana, an organization that focuses on conservation worldwide. There were 36 total comments, and 9 of you did guess Montreal correctly, so I’d like to add those to the total amount of the donation. I’m making a donation of $45 in Ema’s name to Oceana. Thanks again, everyone!

Have a great weekend everyone! On Monday, I’ll have more on our visit to the Cabane a Sucre (Sugar Shack). 

Friday Five

1. Sunday Blahs. Every Sunday night, about 7 p.m. it starts. The Sunday Blahs. I don’t think I’m the only one who starts dreading the looming work week. (And lately, my weekends have been filled with chores, so it doesn’t even feel like I’ve had the necessary R&R.) I’ve been reading up on some suggestions to beat the doldrums. Here is the helpful tips portion of this blog (you’re welcome):

  1. Plan something fun in the coming week. Whether it’s lunch with a friend or a movie you’ve been dying to see, you’ll have something to look forward to when Sunday rolls around.
  2. Turn off your devices. We all know this one. Checking your emails and voice mail starts to get you into work mode too soon.
  3. Write a journal entry. Take some time to reflect on the past week and jot down a few special moments. It could be something small like a bird splashing around in a puddle or seeing the first daffodil bud of spring. (Both happened to me this week!) If writing them down harshes your buzz, try using a voice recorder.
  4. Take a mini-vacation. If your weekends are filled with kids and carpools, doing something by yourself can have amazing restorative powers. Catching a movie, taking an undisturbed bubble bath or even going grocery shopping by yourself can make you feel more relaxed.
  5. Get some sleep. I recently read in the New York Times that 41 million Americans (that’s a third of working adults) get less than 6 hours of sleep a night. Plan to get to bed early may make Monday a whole lot better. Maybe.

Do you have any Sunday night rituals?

2. The Care and Feeding of Kitties. My neighbor took a vacation to Mexico (jealousy!) and asked me to watch her two cats. While I’ve taken care of many cats at the animal shelter where I volunteer, I’ve never had the opportunity to cat-sit before. I learned a few things:

1. Cats are not dogs. I bet you’re surprised to hear this. I was, too. These lovely kitties met me at the door every day. They meow-ed and pranced around, twitching their tails. They rubbed their little faces against my legs and sometimes even pawed at me. Fairly dog-like, right?  Not so fast. The moment they finished eating, they threw a look over their shoulders and slinked off into the bedroom. I think they saw me as their waitress. But they’re terrible tippers.

2. Cats are zen creatures. These two kitties seemed to spend a lot of time sitting next to each other and staring out the window in a contemplative sort of way, just blissing out in a sun spot. Eckhart Tolle wrote, “I have lived with many zen masters, all of them cats.” Now I realize the truth of that statement.

3. Cats are stealthy. Sometimes, I would feel like I was being watched. I’d look over my shoulder and no one was there. I’d get that funny feeling again, turn around and find myself nose-to-nose like this:

Bella

Feed me.

3. April is…spring.

April hath put a spirit of youth in everything.

~William Shakespeare.

4. April is…Poetry Month. For years I had a love/hate relationship with poetry. I wanted to enjoy it, but the poems I read were so dense, so unreachable my eyes would glaze over immediately. I’d close the book and shake my head in frustration. Then, while browsing in a bookstore for a novel not long ago, I realized that there were some fiction writers and subjects that I connected with and some that I didn’t. Maybe the same was true of poetry. Maybe I’d been reading the wrong poems. (I know, amazing revelation, right?!) Now, I wouldn’t say I am a connoisseur but I have  a new appreciation for it. I have a sense of what I like and why.

The first thing to understand about poetry is that it comes to you from outside you, in books or in words, but that for it to live, something from within you must come to it and meet it and complete it. Your response with your own mind and body and memory and emotions gives a poem its ability to work its magic; if you give to it, it will give to you, and give plenty.

~James Dickey, winner of the National Book Award for Poetry

Do you like poetry? Who are your favorite poets or poems?

5. Two poems. Last April, I ran a few posts featuring some of my favorite poets: Mary Oliver, Seamus Heaney, Deborah Garrison, W.S. Merwin. This year, I thought I do something a bit different.  I’d love to introduce you to some poets you probably don’t know — yet.  Over the next few weeks, they’re going to take over this space on the Friday Five to share one poem they’ve written and one poem they admire.

Guest Poet: Jason Primm

Jackie said to me, “I’m doing a thing on my blog where I post poets that aren’t well known. Right now when I share a poem it is someone like Mary Oliver or a poet laureate, you know, really famous successful people.” I was tempted to direct her to my own blog at that point, but instead, I admitted that she had come to the right place. Boy and how!

This poem grew out of a habit, a terrible habit, as bad as smoking, of using Greek myths as a kind of cloak to both hide and express my feelings, the real grade A inner turmoil. It is about the arguments with ourselves that never end and how good it would feel to just give in. Or maybe not. Maybe it is about something else. The more astute of you will have noted that my name is Jason which is why this mythic tale has always held a certain amount of interest. The speaker isn’t necessarily Jason. I always imagined him as one of the nameless sailors on the boat. This poem first appeared in the 2012 editon of the journal, Paper Nautilus. I sent my work to them because I thought it was one of the best names that I have ever seen for a journal.

The Argo, by Lorenzo Costa via Wikipedia

The Argo, by Lorenzo Costa via Wikipedia

Argonaut

Like breathing, I stopped thinking
I was rowing. We were a ship
and the ship was a man beating
the choppy sea to a smooth glass road.
Had it been just me, I would have stopped
when my shoulders hurt and the last light of home
dropped like a coin into the dark sack of night.
But we were the Argonauts. Wind burnt and sun
drugged, I thought home waited – the bubbling
pot of meat by my snoring father,
the hands of my mother cool on my face
and those first girls willing to teach me love
on the worn paths above the bay's calm.
The places we went weren't gentle, but I knew
what to do in battle. I worked to stay alive.
Without it, I was lost and time spread
like a red tide under us or sat on the deck,
a tangled rope. After all the miles and men
we made die, it wasn't the sword
but the endless back and forth that kept me alive.
There was a sea monster that swam lazy,
lying in the cool shadow of our ship
like a woman on her back, inviting a lover,
bending her knees, planting her heels in the salty
glitter of the moving sea. To the rhythm of the rowing,
she called our names, told us the water was warmer
than a woman's lap. I licked the salt off my lips
and believed it was true. Even after we found
the deeper water, I heard her voice
setting the pace. How I longed for her hands on the small
of my back, the lace of rising bubbles,
the still ocean floor and the end of all rowing.

Jason’s poem suggestion:

Sometimes people ask me to make suggestions of poems for special occasions. Especially weddings. I used to say no problem and I would go home and page through my books and come up with nothing that could possibly ever be used. Now I know enough to know that any poem that I like about one of those special occasions is too complicated to be used in a moment of simple and benignly dishonest well wishing. Here is a poem that Phillip Larkin wrote on the birth of friend Kingsley Amis’s daughter. He wished her happiness. Of course, being a great and terrible poet, he talks honestly about the nature of happiness and how it is achieved. This is not a card that Hallmark is coming out with anytime soon.

Philip Larkin

Philip Larkin

Born Yesterday

For Sally Amis

Tightly-folded bud,
I have wished you something
None of the others would:
Not the usual stuff
About being beautiful,
Or running off a spring
Of innocence and love -
They will all wish you that,
And should it prove possible,
Well, you’re a lucky girl.

But if it shouldn’t, then
May you be ordinary;
Have, like other women,
An average of talents:
Not ugly, not good-looking,
Nothing uncustomary
To pull you off your balance,
That, unworkable itself,
Stops all the rest from working.
In fact, may you be dull -
If that is what a skilled,
Vigilant, flexible,
Unemphasised, enthralled
Catching of happiness is called.

Jason Primm lives in the empire of Brooklyn and works on the casino cruise ship of Manhattan. He does most of his writing on the F-train. His work has most recently appeared in Paper Nautilus, burntdistrict, Grasslimb, and The James Dickey Review. You can find his most recent musings at his almost new blog.

Is that a poem you’d give to a friend on the birth of her daughter?

Next Thursday starts the “Where in the world am I” contest. Each day for five days, I’ll be posting a clue about my secret location. The first person to guess correctly gets a donation to a favorite charity. I’m so excited about it. Stay tuned!

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Friday Five

1. You Are Beautiful! A simple statement, but a powerful message. Sometimes we all just need a little reminder of something we already know. Ten years ago, Matthew Hoffman wanted to spread the word, so he had 100 stickers printed and put them around town. He offered to send stickers to anyone who requested them. Now more than a half million have been distributed around the globe. The project has even inspired murals and exhibitions at institutions.

He developed a Kickstarter campaign to document the past decade in a book. The funding goal was surpassed last month. Look for the book this September. In the meantime go to the site to get some free stickers of your own to help spread the message.

You Are Beautiful New Orleans, LA

You Are Beautiful at the Brooklyn Bridge

You Are Beautiful at the Brooklyn Bridge

You Are Beautiful San Jose Airport

You Are Beautiful San Jose Airport

2. Bacon and Egg Man.  So, I was at a book launch party this week at the Tribeca Grand. I say this casually as if book launch parties at the Tribeca Grand are something I do every week. If it sounds far too swanky for the likes of me, it was. I took plenty of photos to give you a taste of it, but sadly, the only one not blurry and dark was this one of the exterior. (It only gets ritzier on the inside.)

tribeca-grand-hotel

But on to the reason I was there: A book party to celebrate my friend Ken Wheaton’s second novel, Bacon and Egg Man.  I’ve read earlier incarnations when it was just a little ol’ WIP, so I’m looking forward to seeing if he took all of my editing suggestions checking out the final results. Writers spend a lot of time in a strange solitary confinement so it was great to celebrate and acknowledge his achievement.

I hope you’ll get an opportunity to pick up a copy. Here’s a down-and-dirty synopsis and then you can read an excerpt here:

Bacon and Egg ManIn the halls of Congress, on the streets, in the media, the war on fast food is on. Tofu may be topical, but bacon is eternal. Bacon and Egg Man, Ken Wheaton’s second novel, is a sly send of up of a politically correct food establishment, where the Northeast has split off from the rest of the United States. The new Federation is ruled by the electoral descendants of King Mike, a man who made it his mission to form a country based on good, clean living. But you can’t keep good food down. And Wes Montgomery, a journalist at the last print paper in the Federation, is a mild-mannered bacon-and-egg dealer on the side. Until he gets pinched and finds himself thrust into Chief Detective Blunt’s wild-eyed plot to bring down the biggest illegal food supplier in the land. To make matters worse, Wes is partnered with Detective Hillary Halstead, the cop who, while undercover, became his girlfriend. Their journey takes them from submarine lairs to sushi speakeasies, from Montauk to Manhattan, where they have to negotiate with media magnate The Gawker before a climatic rendezvous with the secretive man who supplies the Northeast with its high cholesterol contraband, the most eternal of all breakfast foods: bacon and eggs.
Are you reading a book right now that you’d recommend? Share in the comments. I’m always looking for new books to put on my TBR list. I’m reading Elizabeth Strout’s new novel The Burgess Boys. (I won a copy on Goodreads!) Loving it, so far!
3. Airports. When I was in high school, my wonderful literature teacher told my class that she found inspiration at the airport. She said she could spend hours dreaming where people were going and why they might be going there. She’d filled dozens of notebooks with character sketches and letting her creativity run wild. Until then, I’d never really kept a notebook. I’d tried keeping diaries, but after a few entries I’d lose interest. To be introduced to a character / image notebook was really intriguing. Even today I carry a notebook just about everywhere I go.

I hadn’t thought about that in years until I read a post from Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project. She posed a question to her readers: What is your favorite thing to do in an airport?  The answers were fun, ranging from browsing in the bookstore (a personal favorite) to shopping for perfume at the duty free shop to downing a rum and coke.

So tell me, what is your favorite thing to do in an airport?

P.S. This is another great opportunity to tell your about an upcoming contest I’m hosting in April about my vacation destination. More details to come!

4. What is a weekend? Fans of Downton Abbey will no doubt recognize the dowager countess’s (a.k.a. Maggie Smith’s) now-famous question. Her confusion is understandable for a woman who has lived an aristocratic life, never having to work. I have come to feel the same way, but for exactly the opposite reason. I used to look forward to the weekend with gleeful abandon. A brief respite from the office. The luxury to follow my own schedule. The enjoyment of small adventures. Lately my weekends have become filled with errands and obligations. One task after another in a never-ending sea of chores. Every Sunday night, I’m wondering where the time went. Does anyone else feel the same way? Do you have any suggestions on how to put the f-u-n back into the weekend?

5. Price that mansion. Part of my neighborhood is an historic district with stately, gorgeous homes around every corner. Here in a new, occasional series on the blog, I’ll share photos and a bit of history of some of these mansions. This place is on the market. Want to put in a bid? Guess how much you’ll need.

Tracy Mansion

This 50-foot-wide neo-classical limestone mansion was constructed in 1912 by the Tracy family, who were in shipping and used it as a family home.

Tracy Mansion

The floor plan is largely unchanged from when the Tracy family owned it. There have only been three owners. This Italian marble fireplace is 8-feet tall.

Tracy Mansion

The mansion has 23 rooms, nine bathrooms and approximately 10,000 square feet of space. These wood panels are made from mahogany.

Tracy Mansion

The curved marble entry hall has bronze doors and Corinthian-style columns.

Have a great weekend everyone! 

Friday Five

1. Tiny Bubbles. There’s something about penguins that is comical and fascinating at the same time. They’re so awkward on land yet in the water they’re graceful and elegant. To get out of the ocean onto the ice is a combination of both qualities. They propel themselves at three times their natural speed and then land on the ice in a big thud that nearly knocks the wind out of them. Two National Geographic photographers went to the Arctic to capture the process and found out something very interesting in the way the penguins use the bubbles of oxygen to their advantage.





2. Speaking of bubbles. This is the happiest thing I’ve seen all week. I dare you not to smile. Double dog dare you.





happy-poster-preview3. And speaking of happy. Last weekend, sidelined by the beginnings of a cold, I watched a documentary called Happy. Filmmaker Roko Belic shot over 400 hours of footage all over the world—from the swamps of Louisiana to co-ops in Denmark and the streets of Japan—to explore what really makes people happy. Six years in the making, the film is full of insight from happiness researchers, positive psychologists and real people from every demographic, all asking the question: What lies at the core of a human being’s happiness?

Ultimately he finds that many of us have gotten things backward. A lot of us think: when I have a spouse/dream job/mansion/baby (insert your personal desires), then I’ll be happy. The film takes us around the world interviewing everyday people and psychology researchers to show that is never the case. The most satisfied people use happiness to achieve those other goals. In other words, be happy first.

I found two of the interviews really poignant. The first was in a Kolkata slum. A man named Manoj Singh points to his home, what I would describe as a lean-to with a tarp covering it, and he says. “This is a good house. We get a nice breeze. It keeps the sun off. The only problem is during the monsoons when the rains come in.”  His son, who waits for him to return home each day from his job as a rickshaw driver, and his baby daughter’s face regularly fill him with joy. When the interviewer asked if he was happy, he didn’t hesitate for a second. “I feel that I am not poor because I am the richest person,” he says.

Another interview took place in a boat tooling around the Louisiana bayou. The guy’s house is just on the other side of the levee. At dusk he watches the wildlife because he says, “The stillness speaks to me. Nature is good medicine. This is my happiness.”

What do you think lies at the core of a human being’s happiness?



4. Vacation makes me happy. Whenever I travel somewhere new, I try to read a book or two about the location. Not a guidebook, but a work of fiction or memoir set in that city. I find it gets me in the mood of the place in a unique way. Do you do that also? (Or am I the only book nerd enthusiast here?) Sometimes it can be difficult to find such a book, depending on where you’re traveling. For the spring trip I’m planning, I came up empty time and again. Then I came across this website: Books Set In… which does just that. Type in the place and you’re off with a list of books.

You savvy folks may have noticed that I didn’t mention where I’m going this spring. I’m going to leave that a s-e-c-r-e-t for now. There will be a contest and a giveaway coming shortly. Stay tuned!



5. The details. Most people describe snow as a blanket, covering everything in a pristine (for a while) layer of white. Of course there is truth to that, but snow also highlights. It calls attention to the details that often go unnoticed or ignored. Here are a few photos I took during our last snowstorm.

I love how the snow has settled on the peaks and valleys of the ornamentation on the outside of this brownstone.

Brownstone

Look how it gets into the crevasses of the stones on this old church so that you can see the unevenness of each level.

Church

It coats each leafless branch of this tree so that you really see them individually. Amazing how tiny snowflakes can do this.

Tree

The snow makes me take in my neighborhood in a new way, right down to the iron gates . Usually I look but I don’t see, as the zen saying goes.

Fence

Have you had the opportunity to see your town or home in a new way? 

Have a great weekend, everyone!