Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Empty days; Full days

For more than 100 days we did not travel any further than the 26-mile drive into Louisville. For those who know us, you know that this is highly unusual behavior. As much as Ed and I love our life here on Farm Dover, we also love traveling to new destinations or checking back in on the places we go to time and time again.

I can't explain it. We were just happy at home these nearly four months. We had been away much of the summer and early fall and contented ourselves with tending to the land, the house, the cottage.

And then there were days when rain would settle in or snow would blanket the paths and fields. Days of bitter cold. Ed would build a fire. I'd undertake a soup or stew. We'd read. We'd nap.

Here's how poet May Sarton describes these days and the need for them:

I always forget how important the empty days are, how important it may be sometimes not to expect to produce anything, even a few lines in a journal. A day when one has not pushed oneself to the limit seems a damaged, damaging day, a sinful day. Not so! The most valuable thing one can do for the psyche, occasionally, is to let it rest, wander, live in the changing light of the room."


This past weekend we abandoned our still, quiet life and headed to Brooklyn/NYC. We took in the metropolitan sights and sounds; stayed in a hip hotel tucked under the Brooklyn Bridge; ate Italian, Thai, and American food; drank craft beer, and experienced art with an edge. But best of all, our hosts were daughter Mary and her boyfriend Brian. They were exceedingly kind to us.

I was reminded how much I do love to travel. How exciting the world beyond our gravel drive can be. How traveling as much as we do makes us good travelers.

We are back at home now, and happy to be here. But now I've got the travel bug and am already dreaming of all the places we can go in 2018....



1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge, 60 Furman Street, Brooklyn. Boutique hotel located just next to Brooklyn Bridge. Beautiful views; thoughtful design.

Grand Central Station Oyster Bar, 89 E 42nd St. New York. A New York institution which I had never been to. We met for beers and oysters before heading to dinner.

Restaurante Grifone, 244 E. 46th St. Old-school (and a bit old-fashioned) Italian restaurant that we had taken each of the kids to on their 13th birthdays. Nice to see that not much had changed in the decade since we were last there.

Fort Defiance Cafe and Bar, 365 Van Brunt St., Red Hook. Restaurant near Mary and Brian's loft where we brunched on Saturday. Loved it.

Pioneer Works, 159 Pioneer St. Art gallery in Red Hook. Amazing exhibit by Anthony McCall: Solid Light Works. See it if you can.

Other Half Brewing Company, 195 Center Street, Brooklyn. Fun (and young) craft brewery.

Pok Pok, 117 Columbia St. Brooklyn. Best Thai restaurant ever (Michelin Star 2014 and 15). I'd go back in a heartbeat.

First Presbyterian Church, Brooklyn. The most welcoming, diverse church service I've ever attended. Fabulous choir and piano/saxophone/drums.

Minetta Tavern, 113 MacDougal St., West Village. Great old tavern with a classic vibe. Also Michelin starred.

Whitney Museum of American Art, 99 Gansevoort Street, Meatpacking District. Nice way to spend a morning looking at art in beautiful surroundings. We moved from floor to floor by the outside stairs, featuring fabulous views of the meatpacking district, High Line, and skyline.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Another year; another transformation

Here comes another birthday. Don't get me wrong: I'm delighted to be having another birthday, but don't really feel like doing a lot of celebrating. (I'm still recovering from Christmas.) I've been trying to talk Ed into celebrating with me on July 19, rather than January 19. He's about convinced. (He's still recovering too).

Debbie, circa 1960. Artist unknown.

Whether we celebrate this weekend or in six months doesn't really matter. But the fact that I will be turning a year older in just a couple of days, does give me pause. It always does. As you may recall, two years ago I pondered the fact that I was turning into a tomboy; and last year, I announced that I was transforming into a late-in-life protester. I'm declaring 2018 as the year I dip my toe (or my paintbrush) into making art.

I've always considered myself artistic, but never ventured very far into validating it. I figured there would be a time for art somewhere down the road. But now that I find myself somewhere pretty far down that road, I better get started on that dream. So, I've signed up for a drawing class. It meets on Mondays for 8 weeks. Santa brought me all the supplies that I will need. It is just a small step, but a step nevertheless.

I'm excited and a little fearful. What if I don't have any talent? What if everyone in the class is way ahead of me? Or heaven forbid, what if I find great joy in drawing and want to spend all my waking hours making art? The uncertainty is scary and exhilarating at the same time. This class will surely be a time of growth and learning, perhaps a transformation. Creating art is something that I've always wanted to do – here I go. Who knows, perhaps this year, I'll turn into an artist!

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Joy of Cooking

All the kids were home for the holidays. (In fact, Jack just left to go back to Berlin on Saturday afternoon.) Let me tell you, there has been some serious cooking going on in the Farm Dover kitchen for the past three weeks.

Granola, life-changing bread and Snug Hollow pancakes for breakfasts, oyster stew, bean soup, and Mary's favorite vegetable soup for lunches, butternut squash lasagna, osso buco, chicken cacciatore and Christmas cheeseburgers for dinners. And let's not forget the pumpkin pie, mincemeat cookies, eggnog, homemade peppermint ice cream, and bread pudding for desserts. Oh, and cheesestraws, lots of cheesestraws.

I don't regret one single bite; for, along with the calories came time in the kitchen cooking with, and for, those I love the most. It was a time of great joy.

Having said all that, I was delighted when Jack suggested that he might cook us a Chinese dinner a few days before he was set to leave. It felt great to turn the planning, chopping, cooking – even the cleanup – over to him. Dinner was delicious. He is an accomplished cook, but I also think that food made with love always tastes better.

The next day, Jack announced that he wanted to bake a poppy seed cake roll. It was something he had ordered with coffee often in his travels around Europe and wanted Ed and me to try it. He had packed two bags of poppy seeds in his carry-on luggage, found a recipe on line, and set to making us this Old-World sweet treat. The recipe sounded complicated to me, but I wasn't the one trying to figure it out. I watched out of the corner of my eye as he ground the tiny poppy seeds in the coffee grinder, proofed the yeast, cut butter into a flour mixture, kneaded the dough, rolled the dough out into a rectangle, spread the poppy seed filling to within an inch of the edges, rolled the whole thing up like a jelly roll, allowed it to rise for an hour, and then baked it to a golden brown. It turned out beautifully, both to look at and to eat.

Jack is now gone back to his life in Germany. But each morning this week, I cut a slice of the poppy seed roll, fill my coffee mug, and, as I nibble away at his lovely creation, I think about how happy I am that he, and his two sisters, all are accomplished cooks -- and seem to get as much joy cooking for others as I do.

P.S. While his poppy seed roll was rising, Jack went down to the pond and joyfully skated round and round the ice. His mama hopes that he finds such joy in all the challenges he undertakes this year. Love you buddy. And miss you too...