Wednesday, March 16, 2016


What looked like a dream, a wish in waiting, maybe not to come true for weeks, suddenly it's real: Spring has arrived with all its sweetness, birdsong, the warmth of sunshine, a gentle breeze in the air, longer evenings with just enough chill to crave a fire and all the tiny blossoms, making the season so desirable. 

My daffodils look ready to bloom in a fortnight, tiny bluebells cover the still dormant grass, and the squirrels chase each other up and down the trees.

My impatience has given way to a a calmer joy, a mood elevation I can only blame the season for. My heart is filled with optimism and I feel energy rising again. 
Today I met my dear friend, Deirdre Verne, a fellow writer and mother, a woman I admire for her accomplishments. My own dwarf against hers I feel. You can find her fabulous books here and everywhere books are sold. We talked shop and how to build a story line, how to come up with credible characters and how to make it all work. It is always incredibly invigorating to exchange ideas and to brainstorm about writing with her. For weeks now I have struggled with a particular issue, something I have carried around for decades and how to deal with this in my writing. It had come to a point where I felt it crippled my abilities to tell the story and she simply said, do not worry so much, just write it all down, there is much time to change it and you can always edit it out. How little does she know how it has freed me. After we parted my head was spinning with ideas. Perhaps it was the sun, sending her rays over my keyboard, perhaps it was my friend's easy attitude to something which had loomed over me for weeks, but since that moment the inner blockage has disappeared and after I came home I sat down to prep-write. I dropped everything and typed away notes and sentences, which I did not want to loose until I would have time to properly write. When the phone rung, I did not expect anything unusual. But it was my teenage son, asking me where I was. I had overlooked the time and had forgotten to pick him up from school. 
Thankfully it takes just a few minutes to get him and I was only ten minutes late. I laughed to myself, this had, as far as I can remember, never happened. 
Shall I put an automated reminder in your phone, my son asked me slyly, but not unfriendly when he stepped into the car. Please do so I answered smilingly and he did. Now, if I happen to become entrenched in writing, some friendly reminder will pull me out of my reverie and bring me back to reality.

And now, as I write this, I see outside my window the old Magnolia tree with its long pink blossoms, leafless still, but ready to bloom. I am ready too. How I love spring.

Friday, March 4, 2016

March fever

March is the month of each year, when I am the most impatient. I feel spring fever, a restlessness of my body and sometimes my mind too. I have to hold the rains tight and bring myself back to the now. I want spring to burst forward, I want the temperatures to rise, I crave fresh green and the stir of milder air and sunshine in pale turquoise skies. 

Nothing can sooth that feeling and looking outside this morning and facing a sprinkling of fresh snow and an icy blow upon getting our son to school.... makes me impatient right again. So what's a summer loving girl to do? I redecorate. 

Our mantle in spring colors

Recent shell finds in Cancun

My treasured collection of spring colored books and old Easter bunny decorations.

I can't deny my love for birds and nests.

Glass, wood and green in a quiet way say spring to me.

And of course tulips too.

Anyway, yesterday, after almost two months of waiting I received decorator and inspiring blogger friend Anna Spiro's lovely book, named aptly after her blog, Absolutely Beautiful Things

Anna Spiro's captivating book.

After a first quick glimpse, I brewed fresh tea and sat down to enjoy a good long read. Her decorating skills have been long familiar and I had met her a few years back in New York. She is as lovely in person as her blog suggests. But what moved me so much more in her colorful book was her vivid description of her background, her warm recalling and recognizing of the women in her family, her mother, her grandmothers and aunts. It's a familiar thing. I owe so much as well to my mother and grandmother. In a subtler way perhaps then Anna, but I fully understand her gratefulness to the line of inspiring women, who all influenced and guided her to finally finding her own decorator voice and style. Her color/pattern preferences and design philosophy largely mirror mine and I smile every time I see her images. What separates us are our different backgrounds, the places we grew up and the climate we lived in as children and adults. This of course has a profound impact and surely shapes our understanding and inclinations when it comes to hues and light and how we might love brightness in everything or adore subtle shades of decorating or dressing. 
Looking back to my mostly grey looking childhood in East Germany in the 60's and 70's, I still mostly remember the faded colors of the windswept Baltic seashore, bleached sand, sun and skies and the pine forests. 

The dark, slow flowing river Elbe in my hometown Dresden and the fields of rye and hops growing at the surrounding hills. Muted colors. And yet I think back and I have also clear images of my grandmother's garden, filled with roses and summer flowers and the colorful paintings I saw at Dresden's famed museums and galleries. There was always color in my imagination. My grandmother had a lively way of describing her own childhood and her memories of Dresden and its splendors before the Second World War have made them somehow mine too. Just like Anna's mom, my own mother has a gift for arranging and from my earliest childhood I remember the joys of seeing her decorating for the holidays or bringing flowers and plants into the apartments we lived in. My mother's family handed down blue and white Meissen porcelain, they too had a love for beautiful things and I have inherited this love. My parents had bought in the late 50's a gorgeous chippendale dining set, at a time when most young couples bought 60's modern. They still live with it and whenever I visit them I adore it. 
After all these years, the scent and luster of the glass fronted vitrine is still the same and this is true for the large buffet, which holds all my mother's china treasures. Needless to say my parents never bought anything else after that. I have a deep appreciation for loved and collected furniture, some well made and valuable and some just fun and fabulous, worth no more then the paint it's been updated with.

Southern charm: Charleston, NC

But there is something else. I believe we all have a time, era, style, a climate we are most comfortable with, something which only reveals itself after we have lived for a while and for me it has always been the pleasures that come with what I call 'Southern living'. My mother told me the summer I was born was particularly hot and I guess the heat in the autumn after my birth has blessed me with a desire for warmer climates. Evidently, growing up in East Germany was very different,  nothing at all compared to the charms of 'Southern living', but once I had left East Germany behind my fascination with the South of France and Italy dominated my travel interests. Now, after having lived in America for more then twenty years, I dream of living somewhere near the shores of South Carolina or Georgia. It is impossible not to have been shaped by the culture, colors and patterns of the South in my style preference, just like Anna Spiro's heritage and love for vibrant colors and a wild mix of patterns has left its mark. She would fit into a antebellum mansion or a house by the beach with a wraparound porch covered with bougainvilleas and a garden with life oak trees, covered in moss. 

I wonder when my life will present the chance to live there. Maybe when our youngest is out of school? Maybe when I 'retire'? LOL! 
I have no idea. But I dream nevertheless and just like so many impossible things, which have happened in my life, things I could have never imagined, so this dream might come true sooner then later.

For now it's March in New York, snow, sunshine, cold winds and mild air chase each other around every corner and only the arrival of the robins and grackles make me hopeful its only a few short weeks until spring is finally here.

Happy spring, y'all! 


All images my own.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Whenever I cannot write

The call of the geese gets me all the time.

Whenever I cannot write... I rearrange things. I clean, I sort and somehow things get sorted in my mind. This is wonderful, because I can trust it works. While I clean this and sort out that, I listen to music or the birds, chat with friends via texts or simply marvel at the things I love: Books mainly and some old knick knack I always pick up here and there and sometimes I find artists who's work I'd love to support big time but my budget lets me only get tiny things. But tiny things can be big too, right?

Black Hibiscus candle and scarf from here and gold filled bowl from Christina Salusti, Woodstock,VT.

Thankfully my budget is small, otherwise our small house with small rooms would be even more overrun with.... things. Nice things, but nevertheless a lot. Every year at least once I promise myself to reduce. I do re-use though. A lot. Instead of buying new things I often buy used ones. Old silver, vintage cutlery, found pieces of furniture. Its clearly a passion and I also have promised often enough to open an ETSY shop to bring the things, which are hopelessly stored back into circulation. It hasn't happen yet. I somehow cannot part with things. But even I can see, I should. So shall I go head and do this?

Another of Salusti's beautiful bowls.

Whenever I cannot write.... I think about things, problems, issues, my family, my writing. Sentences pop into my head and then I run to my notebook or phone and write things down. Cleaning calms me. Others might choose meditation, but I clear my mind while I contemplate which bowl goes well with what candle holder and where I should put this wonderful sideboard, which has spent too many years of exile at the veranda. I stand and watch the sun move over from the dining room into the music room, where a golden afternoon light plays with the wooden blinds and beckons me to sit and tickle the keys of the piano. I often succumb to its calling.

Summer and fall arrangements

Whenever I cannot write... I let it go. I have learned over the last years that writing cannot be forced. Regret is a sorrowful master and I have dismissed it early in my (still short) writing career. I know I will pick up after a dry spell and that gives me great comfort. I know there are times I will not be able to sit down to write. Mostly during holidays, just like recently over the Christmas break in Vermont, when I had been happily occupied with my family, but too distracted through outings and other entertainments.
Dutifully I had brought my computer, but never opened it to write. I remember a few years back, being fretful, nervous about interrupting the flow, but somehow I've learned that these sometimes unwelcome pauses have hidden benefits. They lend themselves to contemplation and some distance gives me a new prospective. Now, when I am stuck with a particular problem I give myself a time out. I cook, bake, clean, rearrange. I tinker around.

Today's  work:  January collection in the morning.

And at night.

Today, a few days into the new year, I took down most of the Christmas decorations, although the tree is still up. Some candle holders and decorations needed mending, careful packing and as with every season or holiday I feel it passes faster and faster, Wasn't it only yesterday that I dug up the boxes from the basement? Back it goes.

Window sill in the music room with some fine editions of Penguin Classics.
Tree in a bed of acorns and fragrant star anise.

Winter light is bright and clear and every January I love to have the light come in and play. I love glass in winter. Sunlight, china, crystal, brass and silver, a white table cloth. I love candle light and it warms the brilliant light and bends the cold into something I like. It is as if the light cleanses everything, cleanses my mind too.

I love the clean, fresh look.
The day has passed and finally I sit down, a fire warming my toes, while the chilly air presses against the windows. A hot tea near my chair, my laptop at the ready. And now I just let it flow, let the day pass by and share my thoughts with you for what's it worth. Being creative is a bit like shape shifting. It applies itself to all ways of life and that is such a wonderful thing. Whether I make salad dressing or shop for dinner or sort the laundry, whether I think about any problem or rearrange my collection on my windowsill, I know my creative energy is with me like an invisible cloak. I am deeply grateful for life has given me such a gift. 

Most of these things have been everywhere in our house.

There are times when I feel the cloak has gotten caught somewhere and then I need to be still and rest. Particularly anger and creativity are on the opposite end of the spectrum for me. There are people who can funnel their irritations into creativity but that's not how it works for me. When I am in a temper, when I am too distracted to write,  I clean. My house is not overly tidy and I take it as a good sign. After all, I have other things to do....

A preliminary home for Chip's artwork.

An art print from a painting by Chip Evans, whom we met in Woodstock, VT a few days ago. 

I try to work on reducing stress. It's one of the very few New Year's resolutions. I hate them for I feel they are forcefully tied to a rather random date. (Sure, I do get the symbolic power of a new year.) But I prefer resolutions when I have a need for them. I get overwhelmed quickly and then all systems shut down. Not so good and too disturbing.

Tea at night.

But thankfully cleaning and sorting are great problem diluters and after a good day's work I usually can sit down and write. I take a deep breath or two, look with some satisfaction at the new arrangements and feel content.

Wishing you all good ways to resolve issues and if you like, try organizing your cupboards when you feel you are stuck. It's very invigorating and renewing. Here is to a fresh New Year, where problems shall melt away with the power of contemplating while cleaning...


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