I’d Rather Read than Pin

As I was walking through the kitchen yesterday, I spied a butterfly in the Chicken Wire Fence Garden.

Me: Oh, there’s a big butterfly in the garden!

Don: (silence)

Me: Do I dare try to get a photo? It will probably be gone by the time I get out there.

Don: I wouldn’t bother.

Me: (ignoring him, because I wasn’t really asking his advice) I’m going anyway.

These kinds of conversations go on all the time here.

monday giant swallowtail 3

It was hot and humid and sunny. And the butterfly stayed long enough for me to get a few pics.

monday giant swallowtail 4

monday giant swallowtail 5

And now for the gist of this post:

I’ve come to the conclusion that I’d rather read than pin.

It’s been a long time since I’ve been on Pinterest. It simply hasn’t been on my radar. Oh, I know that Pinterest can bring a lot of visitors to a site and that means more ad income. A lot of bloggers strategically pin images (and also pin for pleasure, of course) that will hopefully go a bit viral. I get a fair amount of visitors from Pinterest and I’m grateful. I’m also flattered and grateful when others pin images from this blog. Perhaps I could get more income by strategically pinning. It’s one of those “I know I should, but I just can’t bring myself to do it” situations.

When I’m working on the dollhouse, I’ll usually end up pinning some images and tutorials. I know my sister loves it for crochet and knitting patterns. I totally get why so many people love it. The truth? I don’t go back and ‘visit’ my boards very often. Once pinned, usually forgotten.

I just can’t seem to get excited about it. I am bombarded with images (especially decorating photos) on a daily basis, simply by visiting other blogs. And let’s face it, both on blogs and on Pinterest, there is often a sameness to the designs and color choices, so it’s very rare that I see something startling and unusual enough to want to pin or repin it. More often than not, the images/designs are variations on the same theme.

Heck, I’ve had a copy of Flea Market Style sitting on the coffee table for a week now. I bought this particular copy on Tuesday in NYC. I’m sure it’s full of beautiful photos and great ideas for repurposing.

Have I cracked it open? No.

I am sadly lacking in the Pinterest gene.

Is it simply a matter of Decorating Photo Fatigue? Or, just plain Photo Fatigue? Probably a little of both. I just don’t want to spend hours on Pinterest. Or even an hour. I have no desire to be a Pinning Pro.

But I know lots of you spend time on Pinterest and love every minute of it. It provides lots of good tips, ideas, and inspiration. It’s like an uber-magazine.

So, I have a feeling I’m the exception here. The oddball. That’s okay. I’ve certainly been in that position before and most likely will be again.

I’m sure you’re thinking, “What are we going to do with her?”


My name is Claudia and I’d rather read a good book than pin.

(New post up on Just Let Me Finish This Page.)

Happy Monday.




That came up rather quickly, didn’t it?

I remember when summer seemed to last forever; a long stretch of endless days of reading, riding bikes, playing outside, camping. Ninety days turned into 1000 days. Three months were more like six months.

As we get older, not so much. A summer seems to fly by. A blink of the eye and suddenly leaves are on the ground and the bright light of summer is beginning to turn into the golden light of autumn.

How grateful I am that this spring and summer were the first in a long time where I wasn’t away from home for several weeks. Only two and a half weeks in Chautauqua. I got to see the gardens in all their stages of growth. Usually, I miss either the beginning or the last couple of months of the gardens. So, I’m grateful.

garden and fallen leaves

It may be September, but the Chicken Wire Fence Garden is thriving. Leaves on the ground. Flowers blooming.

Sort of perfect.

3 morning glories

I finished The Heist by Daniel Silva yesterday. I’m now reading The Marco Effect by Jussi Adler-Olsen (an author you really should get to know) and a wonderful book by Pat Conroy, My Reading Life. Conroy writes so beautifully that I’d even read his grocery list. He’s that good.

I also had a 2½ hour phone conversation with a wonderful friend of mine – a fellow voice/speech coach. Lovely. Don was away on a gig, so I took advantage of a chunk of quiet, undisturbed time in the house. It was so great to catch up with her.

And I mowed the whole front yard yesterday! That’s a workout, my friends, and I was exhausted afterward. It was more humid out there than I had thought. I was trying to beat out the rain that was coming (we really need it) and I managed to finish about ten minutes before the first drops fell. And then it rained quite a bit, which the gardens and trees and plants are clearly appreciating this morning.

My husband is a proud member of three unions. Unions gave actors fair pay, regular hours, protections of all kinds, and health benefits; things they didn’t have for years and years. Happy Labor Day.

Happy Monday.


Roses are for Remembrance

Not long after my mother died, my friend Martha, who blogs at Poetry and a Cup of Tea, told me she was sending me a rose bush called Remember Me in honor of Mom. It arrived while I was away in Chautauqua. After writing to Heirloom Roses, I found out it was okay to keep it in its original container until I got back home. Don dutifully watered it.

After I got home, we found an appropriate place to plant it – near the side gate in a very sunny location. I wasn’t counting on a bloom this year, but lo and behold, a bud appeared.

remembrance rose 1

Then this.

remembrance rose 2

And now this. Gorgeous. It’s quite a large flower. The scent is heavenly.

Thank you, dear Martha. I stood by the bush yesterday and thought of my mother. Your thoughtful gift brought tears to my eyes.

Yesterday morning, I was reading about Monarch Butterflies and their soon-to-be migration south. I lamented that I hadn’t seen one this year.

Later, I went out on the porch and there was a Monarch in the Chicken Wire Fence Garden! I, of course, ran for the camera.



monarch 3

So, so happy to see one! The markings on a Monarch remind me of stained glass.

What a beauty.

Birds and butterflies and critters. They make me smile.

I’m just about to finish The Heist by Daniel Silva. I’m in the can’t-put-it-down stage.

And we watched Dead Poets Society last night. Oh my heart. That movie is so haunting and beautiful. I can’t stop thinking about it. We are friends with Robert Sean Leonard and watching him in this movie, so young and so impossibly heartbreaking and wonderful in that role, made me cry. And then to add in the layer of now, the loss of Robin Williams, so recent and so raw, well, it’s almost overwhelming. I hadn’t seen the movie since it first came out. I’m so glad we watched it.

If you’ve been doing the Christmas Critter Felt Along, scroll down one post for the newest patterns.

Happy Sunday.


New Felt Critters for September

Dawn and I have been doing this since January. Each month, we’ve given you two new critter patterns. 16 critters so far!

Okay. Last month we made the Cow and the Raccoon, right?

Time to unveil the new critters for September:

christmascritters august

The Beaver and the Butterfly. (The Beaver just might be my favorite so far.)

Once again, I used fabric glue. No time to embroider at the moment, so I’ll add the embroidery later. I’ve used the colors of the Monarch Butterfly, in honor of my first Monarch sighting. I was starting to think I wouldn’t see one!

To Download the Woodland Butterfly, click here.

To download the Woodland Beaver, visit Dawn’s post here.

Have fun!


The Abandoned Toys

old toys

Do you see that plastic container full of dog toys?

Scout hasn’t played with them for a few years. Riley stopped playing with them even before that.

But there they sit. I can’t bring myself to get rid of them. They certainly don’t make for an attractive display. They are directly in front of me as I sit in my blogging chair and there’s no denying their presence. Every once in a while, I contemplate getting rid of them. Or hiding them away somewhere in the house.

Can’t do it.

I suppose it must be what parents feel when they contemplate favorite toys that their children have outgrown. We all know my dogs are my children, so I guess I’m just a typical parent.

I think they’ll stay there for a bit longer.

golden zinnia

I pulled a lot of weeds yesterday. A lot. The gardens are looking a bit cleaner, thank goodness. I pruned a few bushes. It felt good to be working in the garden after my stint indoors.

This weekend? I’m taking it easy. I’m awaiting the newer version of the Hamlet script which should be arriving in the mail today or Tuesday, so work on that is temporarily on hold.

But I have a lot of reading to do for future book reviews and for me. I have some NY Times crossword puzzles that I haven’t touched yet. I have to check up on my dad. I have some old movies to watch with my husband. Maybe a bit of lawn mowing.

mg buds new and old

And some flowers to photograph.

What are your plans for this three-day weekend?

(Last day to enter the giveaway for a copy of The Long Way Home by Louise Penny. If you’re interested, stop by Just Let Me Finish This Page. I pick a winner this evening.)

Happy Saturday.



I have emerged from the No Direct Sunlight Zone. No more antibiotics, thank goodness. A trip into NYC earlier in the week. And yesterday…a hike up in the mountains.

It’s been a long time! And my achy muscles have confirmed that this morning. But it was worth it.

aug friday me

Can you tell that I’m happy?

aug friday rocky path

The rock formations are incredible.

aug friday view

And you can’t beat the views.

aug friday view 2

It was so nice to get back up there. But it’s been so long that I’ll need to build up those hiking muscles again.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch:

aug friday new dawn rose

A few New Dawn rose buds are starting to open. This is a treat for me because most of them opened while I was away in Chautauqua, which made me sad. Hello beautiful rose.

And the morning glories keep coming.

aug friday morning glory

Reminders: There’s a giveaway going on over at Just Let Me Finish This Page. There’s also a book review today of Invisible City by Julia Dahl. Stop on by.

Happy Friday.


Out and About in the City

How about some photos of NYC today? After editing them in Lightroom, I realized a lot of them are of green spaces and parks, due, I’m sure, to my need to take refuge from Tuesday’s heat.

NYC - stand of trees

This gorgeous stand of trees is located on 81st Street, just off Central Park West.

NYC - leaves on ground

Ummm….that’s a lot of leaves on the ground for August. Gulp.

NYC - 81 & CPW

Central Park West and 81st. Several years ago, I was up here every day when I was coaching Shakespeare in the Park. The best part? Walking along the streets at night, catching a glimpse of the interiors of the apartments; a bit of curtain here, some bookshelves there, a beautiful lamp, art on the wall.

NYC - brownstone1

A brownstone. Check out the gorgeous detail.

NYC - brownstone2

More brownstones. They don’t make them like this anymore. Unfortunately.

NYC - brownstone3

Be still my heart. May I please have a little pied à terre in this building? I’d be perfectly happy with a little studio apartment where we can spend the night when we have to work in the city.

That seems reasonable, doesn’t it?

NYC - empire cake2

Love this. A bakery full of cakes and cupcakes. (I managed to keep myself from entering the door, but it wasn’t easy.) Love the fonts used in their logo.

NYC - empire cake1


Now I want a cupcake.

NYC - Union Square

Union Square. Nearby? The Strand bookstore.

And from home:

NYC - morning glory

More morning glories. Sigh.

If you stop by Just Let Me Finish This Page, you’ll see that I’m having an extra-special giveaway.


Happy Thursday.


Meeting Louise Penny

A long day yesterday and a hot and humid one at that!

New York City was sunny – always good – but traipsing around in the stickiness made for a tired, tired girl at the end of the day.

I went to the Strand Bookstore and had a lovely time among the stacks. I wanted so many books but limited myself to two. Interestingly, I didn’t find the editions of Hamlet that I wanted, which was a surprise. I stopped by Anthropologie. Gorgeous and inventive displays, as always. But I didn’t buy anything.

Then I walked over to Chelsea Market, which is in an old building that has been renovated and now includes all sorts of smallish restaurants and shops. Several companies have office space there, including The Food Network and MLB.com and Oxygen (Oprah’s network.) But boy, was it crowded with tourists! I grabbed an expensive grilled cheese sandwich (everything is pricey in NYC) and did some people watching.

WED google

Look at what’s right across the street from Chelsea Market. (Even here in the city, they’re watching me!)

After that, I headed on up to the Upper West Side. I happened upon a used bookstore where I found two editions of Hamlet at a great price. Victory!

WED Roosevelt Park

I sat for a while in this little park that is right next to the American Museum of Natural History. I’ll have more photos of the city for you tomorrow. I didn’t take a whole lot, however, because it was so darned humid!

Eventually, I headed over to Barnes & Noble, where I figured I’d grab a bite to eat in the café. When I checked out the area where Louise Penny would be speaking, I noticed there were people already there. (It was around 5:00 pm.) So I got my food to go and plopped down in a seat. Eventually, two other early arrivers sat nearby and I had a wonderful conversation with these women about how much we love Louise Penny’s books. It was great fun, like being in a Louise Penny Fan Club, which I suppose we are. The husband of one of the women also came along. He’s apparently a voracious reader and he loves her books, as well. Lots of stimulating conversation as we sat waiting for the start of the presentation.

Goodness, was it fun! Ms. Penny came out and spoke to us for about 20 minutes; she spoke of her childhood and of discovering at a young age that she wanted to be a writer. But a career at the CBC won out for a number of years until one day, at the age of 45, her husband said that if she really wanted to write a book, he would support her financially while she was doing it. She spoke about the very early days when she thought about the town she was creating – drawing a map of the town of Three Pines, a map she still has. And she spoke of deciding that she wanted to write about characters that she would like to have as friends; her idea being that if you’re going to spend as much time as a writer must spend with characters, she wanted them to be interesting and complex people she would like to hang around with. She spoke of doubts, of taking that first step and putting words on the page, of trying to find a publisher. (Her publisher and editor were sitting in the row in front of me.)

She is funny, charming and very honest. (I want to be her friend.) She also opened the floor to questions from the audience.

Then it was time for the book signing and we all got in a long line and awaited our turn.

WED Louise signing

There she is!

When it came time for me, one of the employees saw my iPhone and said he’d be happy to take a photo of Louise and me.

WED Louise and me 2

Then we chatted a bit and I told her about the blog (this one) and that I’d raved about her books here, which resulted in quite a few new readers and fans. She was so effusive about that, thanking me and saying how powerful social media could be for an author. I thanked her for sharing her talents with us and for writing all about Three Pines and Inspector Gamache. (By the way, she pronounces it with a short a (as in cat) in the second syllable, not with an ‘ah’ as I had been doing!) She grabbed my hand and thanked me for reading the books and spreading the word.

WED Penny autograph

And the inscription: For Claudia – Thank you for telling so many others!

Sigh. I want to live in Three Pines and dine at The Bistro and chat with Louise Penny.

Here’s the book:

WED The Long Way Home

Gosh, she’s terrific.

I’m so glad I went, though I didn’t get home until almost 11:00. Tired today, but very happy indeed that I decided to go for it and attend the event. If you can ever see her, I urge you to. She’s a wonderful speaker – warm and charming and everything you thought she would be.

Happy Wednesday.





saturday-zinnia with aphid

Don has decided that zinnias are his favorite flower. He loves to wander over to the Chicken Wire Fence Garden to see the new blooms. He’s fascinated by all the different colors and designs. He asks me a lot of questions about them.

tuesday zinnia 1

The other day, I found him researching them online.

He knows a lot about them now. More than me.

tuesday zinnia 2

Truth be told, zinnias fascinate me. The endless variety, the never knowing what color 0r shape is going to come out of the ground. The tall sturdiness of them. This one, with its candy cane petals, took me completely by surprise.

tuesday zinnia 3

They are immensely cheery flowers. And here in the Northeast they bloom later in the summer, which makes for a welcome sight in an otherwise tired garden.

I can hear the Canada Geese honking as they fly over the house. Another sign of Fall. Leaves are on the ground. The light is more golden.

Hold off a bit will you? I’m not ready for Fall. Morning glories are blooming, roses are blooming, zinnias are opening daily. The temps today are going to be just shy of 90 degrees. We’re still in the midst of summer, thank you very much.

I’m off to Manhattan today. I’ll tell you all about it tomorrow.

Happy Tuesday.


On the Agenda: Coffee, Books and NYC

Two foggy mornings in a row.

I love a foggy morning. It’s such a sweetly mysterious way to start the day. If my memory serves, those kind of mornings seem to happen more often as we move into Autumn.

Hurrah! I had my first cup of coffee this morning with half and half. No more black coffee because of the antibiotics. See? My needs are few. But it didn’t taste quite the same to me as the coffee does when Don makes it, so when he got up I asked him about it. Turns out he adds an extra scoop. Ah! Bless him, he made another cup for me and I am happily sipping it while working away on the laptop.

purple thistle

These thistles are growing wild alongside the house. Lucky me!

I’ve decided to treat myself to a trip into NYC tomorrow. I have to buy some material for my work on Hamlet, and what better place to go but my favorite bookstore in the world – The Strand. And, to top it all off, I’m going to Barnes & Noble on the Upper West Side, where Louise Penny will be signing her newest book, The Long Way Home.

I’m so excited! I decided that after being housebound for so long, I deserved a treat and Don agrees wholeheartedly. So I’ll take off in the morning, go to The Strand and spend lots of time there and maybe stop by Anthropologie and then I’ll have a meal somewhere before I head to B &N (early) so that I can be in line for the 7:00 pm event.

All about NYC and books tomorrow. And finding a new pair of readers, since mine broke the other day. I’m wearing an older pair at the moment.

New post up on Just Let Me Finish This Page today. Stop by.

Happy Monday.