Category Archives: Friday Favorite

September 24: Friday Favorites—A Card and Two Sweet Kitties

Because of a busy schedule, I haven’t been posting on Fridays for quite a while, and therefore haven’t been sharing Friday Favorites.  However, this week, I received the sweetest little packet from my blogging friend Ju-Lyn of Touring My Backyard, and I had to bring Friday Favorites back for at least this week.

Here is what Ju-Lyn sent:

Ju-Lyn wrote that her eldest daughter tatted the bookmarks. Also that the kitties remind her of our own Little Miss and the stone cat (Minerva) in our front garden.

Many, many thanks, Ju-Lyn. What a wonderful surprise!

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Next week, I truly am on vacation. No painting trim, no standing on the toilet to reach difficult spots. Dee has taken the week off, and weather permitting, we are hoping to go to the coast a few times, have snacks by the river in a nearby town, and generally do a little more celebrating in honor of Clif’s 70th turn around the sun.

So far, the weather forecast looks very encouraging. I hope to get some good pictures and if I do, I’ll share them in short posts throughout the week.

The following week—the first week of October—I plan to be back to a more or less regular schedule.

Until then…

 

Friday Favorites: Farmer Kev & Sister Hazel

This week, on a lovely day in May, we received the first farm share delivery from our very own Farmer Kev, a young farmer extraordinaire and a friend of the family. Farmer Kev has a farm and co-op and delivers a mix of things that he grows as well as items “from away,” as we Mainers would put it. From his co-op, you can order an astonishing range of items ranging from eggs to tofu to nondairy cream cheese.

Here is a picture of Farmer Kev.

Farmer Kev’s Organic publicity photo

 

Sometime this summer, I hope to go to his farm, take pictures, and do a short interview with him for the blog.

In the meantime, here is a picture of what was delivered on Tuesday.

The greens are from his farm, and I immediately wash, spin, and package them so that they are ready to eat whenever we want to make a salad.

The other vegetables are from away, but they taste amazingly fresh and delicious.

We have paid ahead for four seasons of Farmer Kev’s Organic, and I can’t think of a better way to spend the money.

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I came of age in the 1970s during the time of the great singer-song writers—Carole King, James Taylor, and Joni Mitchell. The Rolling Stones were going strong. Ditto for David Bowie. In short, folk and rock are in my DNA. This is the music of my youth, and I still love it.

However, luckily for me, I have children who came of age in the 1990s, and what a time for music it was. As with so many things, my girls broadened my musical horizons, and it didn’t take me long to become a big fan of alternative rock—Counting Crows, REM, Pearl Jam, and Sister Hazel.

So here’s a trip back to the 90s with Sister Hazel. At the risk of sounding nostalgic, I do have yearnings for the time when gas was less than $1 a gallon, and climate change was still just a blip on the horizon (I know, I know. climate change was there, and we should have been paying attention.) Authoritarianism seemed to be on the wane, and there was even a book published called The End of History. (Again, I know, I know.) The 90s also saw the rise of independent cinema along with the rise of alternative music.

I could go on extolling the virtues of the 90s, But I’ll stop and leave you with “All for You” by Sister Hazel. I hope you enjoy this trip down memory lane.

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Simple pleasures and favorites from blogging friends:

It’s fall in New Zealand, and this week on Thistles and Kiwis, yellow calla lilies and crunchy leaves are celebrated. And rightly so.

The pandemic has been with us for well over a year, and I think for many of us, even the homebodies, it has been crushing at times. But with the vaccines there are glimmers of light, and on Piglet in Portugal, there is a rejoicing in going and out and about again.

In Something over Tea, there is a lovely floral surprise to brighten the day.

In Touring My Backyard, Ju-Lyn finds “respite in running, in nature.”

 

 

Friday Favorites: Moss Garden Progress, Peter the Potter, Lake Street Dive

The last day of April, and there is a steady rain, much needed as the month has been dry enough for there to be fire warnings. For us, the rain couldn’t have come at a better time. A day or two ago, Clif removed moss from the roof of our little shed and added it to our moss garden. I have read that moss needs to be watered regularly for it to take, and there is no watering like a steady rain.

Here is a picture of the moss garden to date. Regular readers will notice what we have added—a cement lantern, which we had put in a  side garden. As a result, the lantern was mostly unseen. Clif and I thought it was time for the lantern to come out front and shine.

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Readers who are fans of the wonderful The Great Pottery Throwdown will recognize the man in the picture below. His name is Peter White, and he was one of the potters in Season 4, which ended not long ago. For me, he stands out among the other potters—all who are excellent in their own way—because of his age and his willingness to learn new things. Peter turned 70 not long ago, and a clip on the Throwdown featured him expressing his desire to keep learning, no matter how old he is.

His attitude both inspires me and captures the way I feel about writing, which I have been doing for a long time. Nevertheless, even though I am not young, I always seek to be a better writer. Peter, who was not at the top of the pack at the beginning of Season 4, exemplified how being open and willing to learn can go a long way toward improvement.

And for those who have not seen Season 4, well, you will just have to watch for yourselves to see how far Peter rose.

PR picture from The Great Pottery Throwdown

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As for music…hot off the Tiny Desk (Home) Concert press—Lake Street Dive!

Rachel Price, the lead vocalist, has such a wonderful voice that it gives me the shivers. Her voice is smooth without being cloying or overly sentimental. Wowsah, that woman can sing!

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Favorites and Simple Pleasures from Blogging Friends:

For sheer lovleliness and wisdom, Xenia Tran’s Tranature is an oasis in a harsh, often chaotic world. One of her posts this week—Puente Poetry: Presence—captures the sadness and beauty of living.

Alys, from Gardening Nirvana, chronicles how her spider plants went from being indoor plants to thriving outside in her garden in sunny California. (New Englanders, do not try this at home.) She then goes on to compare the plants to bloggers. Alys concludes “You follow bloggers, they follow you, and before you know it, you’ve found a community.” Absolutely, and how wonderful.

Amanda, from Something to Ponder About, writes in praise of solar energy. In Australia, where she lives, “1 in 5 houses now produces energy from solar systems.” And this includes her own house. Yay!

Among other delights, in This Week’s Small Pleasures, Thistles and Kiwis features tall evergreens against a bright blue sky. To this Mainer, there is no finer sight.

In Touring my Backyard, Ju-Lyn rejoices in sunshine after a rainy spell. And perhaps even more important, getting her first vaccine. Great news, Ju-Lyn!

 

Friday Favorites: Compost, Maverick Gardeners, C. Tangana

All right, confession time: Few things fill me with more joy than  rich, dark compost does. If this makes me sound like a gardening nerd, then so be it. And when the compost is free, well, even better. For home gardeners, our town’s transfer station offers compost for the taking.

Behold a mountain of black gold,

where Clif digs with his trusty spade.

Voila! Compost at home waiting to be spread. Be still my trembling heart.

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Now,  you might be asking yourself, “What can compete with compost?” How about a book about wildly creative, eccentric gardeners? Yes, please! Enter Felder Rushing’s Maverick Gardeners: Dr. Dirt and Other Determined Independent Gardeners, introduced to me by my blogging friend Susan Rushton.

I cannot overstate how much I am enjoying this book about folks who, as Rushing describes it, color outside the lines when it comes to gardening. From photos and descriptions, I gather that Rushing is this kind of gardener, someone who tosses out the notions of perfect plantings and tasteful groupings and instead goes for wild creativity. It seems that I am that kind of gardener too, with an inordinate fondness for folderol and ornaments tucked among the plants. Then there is my obsession with moss. How I love moss, which grows on my front lawn, on my driveway, and even on the roofs (or rooves, as we say in Maine) of our house and shed.

Reading Maverick Gardeners feels like discovering a community of kindred spirits, exactly what I need right now in this time of the pandemic, which can throw even the most buoyant spirit into a funk.

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For music, once more to NPR’s Tiny Desk Home Concerts. One of the things I especially love about Tiny Desk is how it introduces me to music and musicians I never would have heard of otherwise. So it is with C. Tangana, a Spanish rapper who got together with his extended family to make this extraordinary video that features musicians and singers of all ages. Note how in the back right corner, his mom and aunt are really into this concert. Finally, you don’t have to understand a word of Spanish to be moved by the music.

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Favorites and small pleasures from blogging friends:

From Thistles and Kiwi, food, glorious food, and an equally glorious blue sky.

Alys, from Gardening Nirvana, has put together a lovely collage of what’s blooming in her garden right now. There might be a sweet kitty in the mix, too.

Ju-Lyn, of Touring My Backyard, extols the loveliness of rain, especially when she is watching from her balcony.

If you would like to have a post featured on my weekly Friday Favorites, let me know, and I will include it.

 

Friday Favorites: A New Frog, Backyard Visitors, a Sara Kays Song

Jackie Knight is an indefatigable gardener with a penchant for owl garden ornaments. On his blog, her husband Derrick Knight has noted that Jackie has 100 or so owls in her delightful gardens.

My penchant is for amphibians, primarily toads and frogs, and I have my own little collection of garden ornaments. Recently, I was inspired by Jackie’s example, and I ordered another frog to add to the group that hangs out by our porch in Toad Hollow. (Frogs are welcome, too!)

This new frog also has a solar light, which gives it an oh-so-lovely glow. I will never have as many amphibians as Jackie has owls. Unlike her, I have to bring my buddies in for the winter. But it’s fun to add a new one to the group every now and then. A simple pleasure, to be sure.

An even simpler pleasure is to sit on the patio in late afternoon and see the little visitors that come to our yard in the woods.

There are cardinals,

mourning doves,

and chipmunks. (This one is a particularly feisty critter who charged a pair of mourning doves. Wish I had gotten a picture of that.)

Watching over it all is Mei Ling, who bears strong resemblance to the chien-gardes, magical relics that are featured in my podcast Tales from the Other Green Door. 

For music for this week’s Friday Favorites, I chose Sara Kays, a very young singer—she’s twenty-two—who got her start on TikTok.   The song I’m featuring—“Remember that Night?”— deals with romantic love and loss, themes that are of central importance to teens and young adults. But even we older folks can cast our minds back to those days when someone we dearly loved stopped loving us. It happens to most people. And while we move on and usually find someone who suits us better, we can remember, with a bit of nostalgia and sadness, an early love that didn’t last. Kays reminds me of Joni Mitchell, a little, and Aimee Mann. I’m hoping to hear more from this talented, soulful newcomer.

Favorites and simple pleasures from blogging friends:

From Book Chat with Shane, his 10 Most Anticipated Books. Shane was once the Adult Services Librarian at our town’s library, and his devotion to books fills my heart with joy. Shane’s favorite genres are literary fiction, thrillers, and mysteries, but from time to time he also adds a dash of fantasy to his reading.

The Curious Introvert, in Today’s Musings, takes solace in both nature and culture. Michigan, where she lives, has been designated as the country’s Covid-19 epicenter. Sigh. Let’s hope that spring and vaccinations soon put a stop to this rampaging virus.

Thistles and Kiwis rejoices in fall colors, food, and an Easter celebration.

And Ju-Lyn, from Touring My Backyard, is fascinated by the art of the staff.

 

Friday Favorites: Gingerbread Tea, Favorite Muppets & Rainbow Connection song

I am a devoted tea drinker—coffee is too bitter for me—and one of my favorite places to get tea is from Harney & Sons, where tea can be ordered online. (The shipping is free.) For Christmas, my daughter Dee bought me a tin of their Gingerbread Festival tea, and I am hooked. When I ran out , I promptly ordered myself another tin, which came in this week. Happy, happy day! The tea has a lovely gingery slightly sweet taste, a perfect low-calorie drink for late afternoon.

For media: Two episodes of Pop Culture Happy Hour, a podcast that I’m a big fan of. Pop Culture Hour, hosted by a regular rotation of arts journalists, features pieces about books, movies, television shows, and music. Frequently, other podcasts are recommended.

This week, the Pop Culture Happy Hour crew, led by the plucky and perky Linda Holmes, explores a question that is dear to my heart—who’s  your favorite Muppet? I am too old to have watched either Sesame Street or The Muppet Show when I was a child, but I watched them with my children and found the Muppet Universe an utter delight.

On Thursday, the PCHH crew delved into their favorite Muppets. You might disagree with their choices, or you might find themselves nodding in agreement. But really, aren’t all the Muppets wonderful in their own offbeat ways?

On Friday, PCHH revealed the results of a listener’s survey for top ten favorite Muppets. I was surprised by some of the choices and rankings, but I will not reveal the results.

I will, however, share who my favorite Muppet is: the green soulful, slightly melancholy Kermit, who works so hard to keep everything together. As a Franco-American, I am drawn to his sheer froginess as well as his work ethic. 😉

Do you have a favorite Muppet? If so, which one?

As for music, how could I resist “Rainbow Connection” by none other than Kermit the Frog? Brings tears to my eyes every time I hear it.

Simple pleasures and favorites from blogging friends:

Thistles and Kiwis writes about a trip to Queenstown, New Zealand.

Ju-Lyn, from Touring My Backyard, journeys back in time to explore the new Gallop extension of the Singapore Botanic Gardens

The Belmont Rooster illustrates how to sneak in the back way and uses Classic Editor in WordPress rather than Block Editor. I am conflicted about this. I prefer Classic Editor, but I have learned how to use Block Editor and can see its merits. Anyway, complete instructions are given should you want to use Classic Editor, which definitely qualifies as a simple pleasure, especially when compared with Block Editor.

Friday Favorites: Fruit & Veg, Great Pottery Throw Down, Bruce Hornsby and The Range

Today is a typical Maine March day—gray, drizzly, depressing. In Maine, Covid-19 cases have not dropped, and according to the New York Times, Maine’s Covid risk is deemed very high. In addition, there are forces throughout the country that are on the rampage, trying to make voting as hard as possible for people who don’t look like they do, as Bruce Hornsby would put it.

Plus, WordPress has cast its wicked magic, and I am trapped in the kingdom of Block Editor. I know some bloggers actually like it, and that’s great. But for a poor old hack like me, who has more projects to fill my time than there are hours in the day, the last thing I need is a new blogging format to figure out. (Whine, whine, whine just might lead to wine, wine, wine late this afternoon. 😉 ) Eventually I’ll get used to Block Editor. I just hate spending this much time on it when I have other writing to work on.

Therefore, this Friday I really, really needed simple pleasures to cheer me up, and just in the nick of time, all the way from my blogging friend Betsy in California, came this assortment of deliciousness. An added bonus is that I had never had kumquats before, and what a treat to sample these tart, citrusy gems, which come from Betsy’s backyard. (The lemons come from her backyard, too, and the artichokes from a farmers market.) Many, many thanks, Betsy!

Onward to media! For a soothing, fun show—much like The Great British Baking Show—you can’t beat The Great Pottery Throw Down, recommended to me by my blogging friend Quercus. Several things make Throw Down a bingeable series: quirky judges, plenty of time spent getting to know the various contestants, and the sheer audacity of some of the items that are made. For example, toilets. Have you ever thought of constructing a toilet out of clay? And then actually have it flush? No? Neither have I, and to tell you the truth, I wouldn’t have the faintest idea how to go about it. While I could probably manage a badly constructed plate or mug, a toilet is an engineering feat far, far beyond my capabilities.

We watch the show on HBO Max, which requires a subscription. You might be able to get the show on other channels.

Because I mentioned Bruce Hornsby in my opening paragraph, this week’s featured music is “The Way It Is” by Bruce Hornsby and the Range. Some of you might remember this terrific song from 1986. Unfortunately, Hornsby’s message is still relevant today.

But on a happier note—dang, that man can play the piano.

Here are favorites and simple pleasures from other blogging friends.

Ju-Lyn, from Touring My Backyard, is enjoying a new extension of the Singapore Botanic Gardens.

From Thistles and Kiwis, so many delightful simple pleasures, including food, dance, books, going to the hairdresser, and blogging friends. Hear, hear for blogging friends, who not only expand horizons but remind us that there are so many good people around the globe.

Friday Favorites: A Forty-Fourth Anniversary, See’s Chocolates, and Jon Batiste

Today is our forty-fourth wedding anniversary.  Hoo-boy! As I like to note, those who get married in Maine in March are apt to be hardy couples who can weather most anything. And so it is with Clif and me.

Because of the pandemic, there will be no going anywhere special. No matter. We bought plenty of tasty treats, including shrimp—the highest on the food chain that we’ll eat—good bread, real butter—oh, wowsah!—and a small chocolate cake. Holy cats! I can’t remember the last time I had chocolate cake.

We also bought some Sees chocolates and nuts, which will last us for a long while.

As we got married in March in Maine, you might think that we went somewhere warm for our honeymoon, but you would be wrong. Instead, we went to Montréal, where the snowbanks were as high as they were in Maine, and the snowplows traveled at a clip that was terrifying.

But what a wonderful trip it was, and yesterday Clif and I had a lovely time reminiscing about that gray European-like city. We ate tourtière pie, went to small cafés and pastry shops, visited a museum with a fabulous King Tut exhibit, stayed in a delightful hotel that could have been in the middle of Paris, and laughed at a smartly dressed woman who swore in French when a car splashed her at an intersection.

In those days, we traveled with the help of AAA, with little bound paper strips of maps called TripTiks. Readers, they were awesome and really made traveling easier. We found our delightful hotel through AAA. I think we just stumbled on the cafés, but that was forty-four years ago, and we might have used AAA for guidance with that, too.

Anyway, despite the passage of time, it made us both smile to talk and think about going to Montréal.

This week, for music in honor of our anniversary, I am turning to the buoyant Jon Batiste and his “I Need You.”

 

Here are some simple pleasures and favorites from blogging friends.

From Piglet in Portugal, a jar of smiles.

Ju-Lyn, of Touring my Backyard, got warmth from a snowy scene. (Someone from Maine just might have sent her a card.)

Thistles and Kiwis shared the many wonderful things popping up in Wellington.

Dawn, from Change is Hard, featured a picture of one of the loveliest harbingers of spring in the northern United States, the red-winged blackbird.

 

Friday Favorites: A Spring Walk and The Mighty Mighty Bosstones

In Maine in March, Spring is a fitful affair that comes and goes. Sometimes it seems like winter; other times, there is a hint of something soft and warm in the air.

Yesterday definitely felt like spring. The temperature reached the mid-50s, a heatwave as far as Clif and I are concerned, and in the afternoon, after our work for the day was finished, out we went for a walk.

I know from reading other blogs that some people get snowdrops and daffodils this time of year.

In Maine we get footprints in the mud,

water rushing down the side of the road,

and a bucket to collect sap for making maple syrup.

But because Clif and I are Mainers, this is what we are used to, and all these modest signs of Spring are thrilling to us. There might be more cold weather, there might even be snow, but Winter is relaxing his icy grip.

Also on yesterday’s walk, we thrilled to the sight of the snowbanks pulling away from the side of the road.

We stopped to chat with our friends Cheryl and Deny, who were out in their fenced-in backyard with their dogs. Our friend Judy, with her own dog, was visiting. How good it was to see them all, lovely dogs included.

We waved to other neighbors who were sitting on their front porch.

“Heatwave” I called.

“Yes, yes,” they called back.

And to follow a tradition that I’ve begun this year, here are Clif and I waving to you.

It might look as though I have some kind of third appendage hanging from me on the far left. Instead, it is the sleeve of my jacket. I grew so warm that I had to take off my jacket and tie it around my waist.

What can I say? I’m a “Mainah,” and after the cold of winter, 55°F with no wind feels pretty darned warm.

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This week for music, I’m going to branch out from my beloved Tiny Desk Concerts to feature a YouTube video of “The Impression that I Get” by The Mighty Mighty Bosstones. It seems to me that during this difficult year, most of us have been knocking on wood, and I bet these musicians are, too.

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Here are favorites and simple pleasures from other blogging friends:

Dawn, from Change is Hard, featured her smiling Sheltie.  And what could be better than a smiling Sheltie? Not much.

On the other hand, the birthday of a beloved child is pretty darned special, too. Ju-Lyn, from Touring My Backyard, and her family recently celebrated her lovely daughter’s 21 birthday. Happy birthday, Jo!

Thistles and Kiwis wrote about all the cool things popping up in Wellington—art, parks, food. What a great place!

Friday Favorites: A Chinese New Year Card, Call My Agent, Leon Bridges

A few days ago, I received another unexpected treat in the mail—how lucky am I?—this time from my blogging friend Ju-lyn of All Things Bright and Beautiful. She sent me a Chinese New Year’s card, all the way from Singapore, along with two lovely bookmarks made by “crafty older daughter.” What nimble fingers crafty older daughter has.

Such a delight! Thank you, Ju-Lyn. The card is on the metal bulletin board by my desk, where all I have to do is glance to my right to see  the jaunty lanterns and the impressionistic market. And thank you crafty older daughter. The bookmarks, ready for action, are on my nightstand, next to my TBR pile of books.

On Netflix, Clif and I have been watching—all right, binging—a delightful series, Call My Agent (Dix pour Cent in French).  Set in Paris, the show is about ASK, a company of agents and their assistants that works with promotes, soothes, and takes care of actors. The agents and assistants are quirky, competitive, and flawed without being hateful. Famous French actors—Juliette Binoche, Isabelle Huppert—make hilarious guest appearances. Sometimes the episodes are laugh-out-loud funny, and sometimes they are moving as Call My Agent explores issues that actors, especially women, must face. If you love movies, especially French cinema, then this is a series to watch. As Arlette, one of the agents, notes, “When things are getting you down, there’s always the cinema.”

Yes, there is.

Now onto music! I am a huge fan of R & B, and Leon Bridges, only twenty-six when this Tiny Desk Concert was filmed in 2015, seems to be channeling those who came before him, especially Sam Cooke. Music for the ages.

Here are some favorites and simple pleasures from other blogging friends:

Ju-lyn, of All Things Bright and Beautiful, features a gorgeous pineapple cake that is also a work of art.

Thistles and Kiwis features, along with mouth-watering food, the fabulous Botanic Gardens, which are within walking distance of where she lives.

Piglet in Portugal has many things to smile about: a new website, a new book that identifies wild flowers in her local area, and weight loss.