Category Archives: Friday Favorite

Friday Favorites: The Consolation of Nature

For me, as is the case with many people, nature is a great consolation when there are troubles big and small. Even in March in Maine, there are signs of spring, reasons to be glad and feel a little comforted.

At breakfast one morning this week, I looked out the window and spotted this chipmunk on the small wall Clif built to hide our garbage cans, which we use to store sticks and fallen branches. Chipmunks hibernate in the winter. Seeing the chipmunk out and about, even though the weather is brisk, even though there is mud aplenty, is a cheering sign of spring.

Tiny red buds have started appearing on the maples, and here they are silhouetted against a morning blue sky.

The fungi pictured below is not a sign of spring, but this time of year—when the snow is mostly gone and not much is growing—it really stands out.


Thoughtful Posts from Some of the Lovely Blogs I Follow

I’m guessing that for most of us, Ukraine is never far from our thoughts. How could it be any other way? Not only is the death and destruction in Ukraine horrible to behold even from afar, but it’s being wrought by a tyrant with an arsenal of nuclear weapons. In response, some of my blogging friends have, in their own way, added their voices in support of Ukraine as they chronicle this terrible time.

Donna, from Retirement Reflections, offers practical ways that people can help Ukrainians.

Tanja, from Tanja Britton, takes solace in memories from winters’ past and shares wonderful photos of animals that live in her area.

Xenia, from Tranature, wrote a simple, lovely haiku and lit a candle for peace.

Debbie, from Musings by an ND Domer’s Mom, has written a thoughtful post that asks “What’s Valuable to you?” I was particularly taken with this: “To grumble and complain that we don’t have more — when so many have far less — feels like the gravest of sins to me.” Yes, yes!

Jane, from Robby Robin’s Journey, has reposted an old blog post about a trip through the Soviet Union 1970. Her observations and conclusions are illuminating and help provide an understanding of where Russia is today.

D. Wallace Peach, from Myths of the Mirror, has written a haunting poem about war and hope.


DakhaBrakha’s music is not the kind I usually listen to, but that’s one of the reasons why I love NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts so much. It exposes me to music and groups I have never heard of. Also, DakhaBrakha is from Ukraine, which is particularly relevant right now. The group’s music is wild, haunting, and arresting, yet another example of how music can be many things. And the costumes? Well, as one commenter put it, “Came for the hats. Stayed for the music.”

Friday Favorites: Of Bluebirds & Bluegrass

This week birds, birds, birds are making me oh so happy. A male cardinal sings his spring song in a bush right outside my window, and when I look out, I often catch a flash of red. I wish I could get a picture of Mr. Cardinal, but he’s very wary and flies away every time I go to the window for a closer look. Certainly can’t blame a bird for being wary.

Even more exciting are the bluebirds, which for the first time ever  have come into our yard. Generally, they like fields and open spaces and don’t usually hang around in the winter. However, for reasons known only to them, the bluebirds have decided to stay in Maine during the cold season. To my delight, they have discovered the feeders in our yard at the edge of the forest.

Our dining room has big windows that look out over the backyard, and from the dining room I have been able to get reasonably good pictures of the blue beauties. (I knew they would fly away if I went outside.) A male is on the left, and a female is on the right.

Unfortunately, they aren’t very nice to each other some of the time. In the picture below I caught the male giving the female a look that clearly says “back off.” (I guess we’re still a few months away from mating season when a male bluebird probably wouldn’t be so cavalier.) And although I didn’t get a picture of it, I saw the female bluebirds doing the same thing to the males. It’s a rough and tumble world out there for birds.

Nevertheless, after living here for thirty-eight years, I am thrilled to finally see these lovely bluebirds in my backyard.


Nifty Posts from a Few of the Lovely Blogs I follow

To carry on with the bird theme:

Julie of From My Window featured fabulous close-ups of a male cardinal. Oh, I am envious.

All the way from South Africa—courtesy of Anne of Something Over Tea—comes this photo of the dignified streaky-headed seedeater.

On Change is Hard, it’s bird central at Kensington.

Coincidentally, Tootlepedel’s recent post is called “Birds, Birds, Birds,” and it is chock-a-block full of those fluttering, flying beauties.

Bon Anniversaire (or Happy Birthday)!

From Touring My Backyard: Bon anniversaire to Ju-Lyn’s “Baker Fiend Younger Child.”

From Rabbit Patch Diary: Bon anniversaire to Michele’s mama.


Now to music, but from humans rather than birds.

Along with alternative rock, I really like bluegrass. While it has its roots in traditional Irish, Scottish, and English music, bluegrass has its own sound, and to me it sounds American—peppy yet at times melancholy. Sad even, reflecting the full range of human emotions.

I recently came across the Del McCoury Band on—where else?—NPR Music Tiny Desk. Utterly charming, Del McCoury is bound to make you smile, both with his music and storytelling.

Friday Favorites: March 4

I’ve decided to bring back Friday Favorites, where I highlight some of the things that have made me happy during the week—music, TV shows, movies, podcasts, food, nature. On the third Friday of the month, I’ll feature books I’ve read and tie in with Donna at Retirement Reflections, who is one of the hosts of the monthly “What’s on Your Bookshelf?”

Each Friday, I’ll provide a short list of nifty blog posts from some of my lovely blogging friends. Let me tell you, it’s not easy to winnow the list down to a few choices. So many good posts from blogging friends near and far. But never fear! I will get to everyone eventually.

In the comments section, if you are so moved, feel free to let me know what has made you happy this week. It doesn’t have to be anything grand or exciting. I’m especially fond of simple pleasures, and I always enjoy getting suggestions of what to read, watch, or notice.


This week I watched—all right binged—the delightful sitcom Abbott Elementary, a mockumentary about a group of teachers and the challenges they face in an inner city school in Philadelphia. The humor is gentle rather than uproarious, and this a show with warmth and heart. The ensemble acting is fabulous, and each of the actors shines like a tiny jewel.  Abbot Elementary is an ABC show that’s also available on Hulu.


Nifty Posts from a Few of the Lovely Blogs I follow

The Sydney Opera House aglow with Ukraine’s colors. Birds, gardens, kangeroos. Gerrie, of Canberra’s Green Spaces, features them all in a recent post. As always, this Mainer is agog over the beauty of Australia.

On the blog Now I’m Sixty-Four, Platypus Man takes us on a tour of the Burghley Sculpture Garden. Oh, be still my trembling heart. I have always loved sculpture gardens but had never articulated why. Platypus Man hits it right on the piton—as we Franco-Americans would say. He writes “In galleries and museums sculpture is contained, hemmed in by walls and ceilings, often difficult to fully appreciate. In sculpture gardens and parks however, sculpture sits comfortably within a spacious, natural environment, with room to breathe. And the sculptures and the landscape in which they sit enhance one another: the gardens and parks frame the sculptures, while the sculptures become visual anchors within their surroundings.” Yes, Indeed!

On Going Batty in Wales, there’s a recent post about the kindness and generosity of a blogging friend from far away. This line really struck me: “I never thought that writing about my simple life in this rural backwater would result in my having wonderful friends all over the world.” Same, same, same. And what a delight!


This incredible performance of songs from the Broadway musical  Hadestown was recorded on NPR in the “Before Times,” as Stephen Thompson put it—just before Covid cracked down on the world. Wonderful, wonderful music, and the last chilling, thrilling song, “Why We Build the Wall” is especially relevant.



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!


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.


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.


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.


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


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!


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.


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.


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.


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.