I’ve been coming to my family’s beach house every summer since I was born. It’s a lovely, classically old-fashioned house, with old exposed wood beams and white-washed walls, a screened in porch with a swing hanging from the pale blue ceiling and a room in the front where you watch the ships and the storms come in and where, after air conditioning and, grudgingly, internet, the only real “improvement” has been the addition of the small fridge tucked into the pantry off the tiny galley kitchen to hold more wine. It’s the kind of place that feels at once incredibly special and hushed and totally broken in and comfortable. Coming into it for the first time every summer, upon opening the door it always feels like the house has been holding its breath, and woosh! It all comes rushing out with this very particular smell. This very our-old-beach-house-smell. What is it that’s so powerful about that? The heady undercurrent of the house smell is punctuated by the rush of summer exclamation points- the intoxicating-sweet of the bedside gardenia, the you-can’t-buy-it-anymore-but-it-lives-in-the-teak-drawers-here-for-forever pina-coco smell of ZERO spf tanning oil, the woodsy cedar of breeze-thin cotton blankets in the linen closets, the musky sand-and-sea smell of old surfboard wax. All of these conspire to make this smell, saved up in a summer of living, biding its time through the stormy winter, just waiting to waft out again next year. My brother once told me that he would steal one of the ancient navy towels with the birds on them from the house at the end of every summer just so he could have some of the the house smell until he came back. This year I might just try and take it with me when I leave too.
The south is getting ready to storm vine.co/v/bLqWFQpIXWn
— Susannah Hornsby (@loiseaufait) June 7, 2013
We were out playing music for a party on the big old river last night, I’d call her the first American river, the first one that mattered before we got out to the Mississip, the James, and this old beauty, this magnolia on her banks at the actual site of the America’s first town, Jamestown, blowing hard in anticipation of the torrent of Tropical Storm Andrea. It’s been raining for hours. So ends a week at the beach, scoping rockets, playing music, making delicious noshes, and eating lots of fried seafood. We’ll be back to adventures in country and city life next week (if Andrea doesn’t bury us under feet of water). Happy weekend, dears.
It’s cold and blustery and I’m having some lovely ladies over tonight for a little light Holiday Crafting (we’ve all been a little under the weather, so I think we’ll just have to hope that our ancestors were correct in prescribing whiskey for ailments and add extra honey to our hot toddys). Very colonial, very exciting! Hopefully they’ll be more helpful decorating than this guy.
ps. for those of you in the know, that is NOT Nipsey Russell, that is his ever-lovin-brother/doppelganger Mr. Peepers.
Yes, those are my painted wood farmhouse floors. Yes, that is my pink poinsettia. Yes, they were both waiting for me when I returned to the country from the city this week. The floors have been here since 1890 or so, the poinsettia, since just last week, but my how I love them both. My mama has been getting me a pink poinsettia for my birthday every year, as long as I can remember, since before I wore a fur muff and a cape (like this) and took three very special friends to Richmond for a tea party and to see The Nutcracker (this was my deepest desire as a girl turning 8 and, frankly, that STILL sounds totally awesome). Also waiting for me upon my return, a parcel from dear McKay, with a new story (hers) and moon vine seeds to plant in the spring (mine), and a big ‘ole box from Jay and Katie Rose full of JARS (!! how well they know me) and, among other affirmations, this quote:
Time and tide wait for no man, but time always stands still for a woman of 30.”- Robert Frost
Now, I realize that there may be a bit of a mid-century jibe lurking here, one about lying about your age, but that literally didn’t occur to me until just now… rather, I read it as something powerful, as if, at 30, a woman has a certain hard-earned-sense and now-finally-trusted-intuition and faith-in-the-weight-of-her-own-truth to slow down from the head-long gallop of 16, the jittery glitter of 21, and the loud, mouthy, wisdom of 25 and take a deep breath, at last, and be comfortable in quiet, in time, in her own skin. 30 years of living may not magically afford us the ability to weigh what we need and want and love and craft a life of purpose and beauty out of them, but I turn 30 on Sunday, and I’ll celebrate it at Home, with wood-smoke and family, with Sweetheart and music, with friends coming down from the cities and coming in from the farther-out-country mountain hollers, and with love. And fried chicken, oysters, and champagne. So.
We’re doing it! First thing tomorrow. Sweetheart used to drive a big rig (yes, it’s true) so he’s piloting the truck, I’m steering The Thon. I can picture the way now: the bad merge down by the waterfront onto the BQE, loping down south through Brooklyn, over the Narrows, after the short bit of nothing Jersey, when Pennsylvania actually becomes beautiful, we bust a left at Appalachia, in some WPA wonder the road is new, the mountains old, the sun will be setting, then it’s Second Star to the right and straight on ’til morning. Send us your best karmic wishes to sing us sweet and simple all the way back home.
Mama, Mama many worlds I’ve come since I first left home.
And it’s Occupy Sandy!! Forget the gravy boats and Tiffany’s china, Occupy has set up an amazing registry here, chock full of the stuff that people affected by the storm actually need. We can attest firsthand that they hit the nail on the head (with one of these hammers– they’ve registered for 40 of them) with what’s needed. The items will be shipped to the Occupy Sandy relief outpost at the Church of St. Luke and St. Matthew in Clinton Hill. I was there this morning, and it’s a truly majestic scene in there- a beautiful sanctuary full to the brim with food, blankets, volunteers, and tools, glorious tools (painted pink so they can be identified and shared)! For those of you out of the area wondering how you can help, get the future Mr. and Mrs. Occupy something off of the registry– and get them to the church on time!
top picture from here, bottom pics from my fuzzy phone.
Oh Adventure! Last weekend we got a wild hair, piled into Francine (Miss Jocie’s mobile… all good cars have names), and made our adventurers way to Storm King Art Center. Five women strong, scarves, leathers, the flush of possibility, (and we picked up Mike, king of beers and collars, on the side of the road), a wrecking crew to make our way. Just an hour north of the city, Storm King is an outdoor sculpture park situated on 500 acres of impeccably swooping jealous-Olmstead wild-meets-barely-tamed earth, dotted with monolithic sculptures. In a word, it is awesome. This time it also happened to be peak leaf season, PEEPINGPEAKING, and everything was suffused with the kind of beauty that you can’t stop talking about, the sheer hush and truth of where you are, who you’re with, how the air feels, how the golden-hour light looks, and the how-if-everything-hadn’t-happened-just-so we wouldn’t be here, but it DID so REVEL IN IT makes you utterly, totally full-hearted and giddy. Storm King is open through November, so get thee there, this weekend, do it. And after you do, order six pulled pork sandwiches and a parcel of tallboys, to go, from Barnstormer’s BBQ. At least that’s what we did. Here, some of the beauty:
It’s been a pretty big week for pizza (when is it not a big week for pizza?): we went to Grimaldi’s new location in an unspoken celebration of Ann Marie’s return to the East Coast, and today I’m leaving to meet my Mama to take a pizza making class as part of her ongoing JUBILEE celebration. We’ll stay with our town mouse friends, have much wine and lots of food, and generally make merry in the best of ways. On a related note, did you know that a standard baking stone is, like, $30? I’ve been under the illusion that they’re hundreds of dollars and that’s why I don’t have one. GET THEE TO A CHEF SUPPLY STORE! In love and pizza, have a wonderful weekend.
Grimaldi’s image from here.
I’m a sucker for good packaging. When I went to the co-op this week, these concord grapes were laid out like a hot breakfast in their own specially designed little cardstock bag, a squatter version of an apple sack, with a long white stitched handle and perfect Manischewitz-y purple font extolling their delicious and organic status. And, they smelled so very grapey, an olfactory punch powerful enough to create lush sense memories on the spot. I bought a bag and carried them home. By the time I got them back to the apartment, the bag was a crumplety mess, and when I liberated them from their 4x6x4 home it was like a grape clown-car. They just kept coming and I realized I had way more grapes on my hands than I could reasonably eat. Sharp-sweet, tannic, and full of seeds, what to do? Obviously, make Grape Jam. I got out my laminated “making jam without added pectin” chart from the very back of my recipe binder, and went to work. Skinning, seeding, boiling, sugaring, boiling, pouring into jars, putting hot hot hot on toast. Sweet, simple, at once fresh and old fashioned, this jam turned out fantastically, and it’s the most glorious rich dark purple color. Oh boy!Quick jams like this are sort of just about the easiest thing you can make. Have a pot? Can you stir? Good. You’ve got what it takes. If you’ve never made jam before, this tutorial is ah-mazing and has great pictures of each step. This kind of lazy-man’s jam plays fast and loose with canning/preserving requirements, so it will only keep for a few weeks in your fridge (add “the space to store a pot large enough for water bath canning” to my “homesickness vs. wanderlust” chart) but with enough crusty bread and one or two friends who should be gifted a sweet little pick-me-up-in-a-jar and you’ll go through it in no time.
In anticipation of the frost, we pulled up all of our flourishing basil and made a huuuuuuge batch of pesto. We’ve now got at least 15 summer-bombs in our freezer to make it through the long winter. I continue to be wowed by the perseverance and successes of our little backyard garden. The last basil plant I kept in the city committed herbicide by jumping out of our 6th floor window and landing, crime scene style, at the bottom of the airshaft. I bet it’s still down there. Are my snack-sized frozen zip-locs a glorious root cellar full of pickles and preserves? Not quite, but, hey, baby steps. Have a wonderful weekend!