Lucky Number Seven(th Birthday)

Two years and two days ago, we brought her home.

Sudo on her first day with us, July 14, 2012.

Sudo on her first day with us, July 14, 2012.

She settled right in.

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If “settled in” is synonymous with “took over the couch.”

She’s a little grayer in the muzzle now, and has a touch of arthritis in her toes, but she’s just as cuddly as ever, and she’s even braved various bodies of water (up to her belly, at least).

Car ride!

Car ride!

Here’s to several more years of snuggles and walks.

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Container garden: July update

Happy to report that everything is going pretty well! Something is getting at the strawberries – even with the net I put over them – but the herbs are doing splendidly and there is even a new rose on the rose bush (originally a Valentine’s Day present from the Whole Foods flower section).

These things. Their name refuses to stick in my head but they are very pretty.

These things. Their name refuses to stick in my head but they are very pretty.

The parsley is most enthusiastic, but sage and basil aren't far behind.

The parsley (middle) is most enthusiastic, but sage (right) and basil (left) aren’t far behind.

Top: flowers and herbs. Bottom: strawberries, peppers, and tomatoes.

Top: flowers and herbs. Bottom: strawberries, peppers, and tomatoes.

The squash, now with two blossoms.

The squash, now with two blossoms.

Rose red.

Rose red.

Here’s what everything looked like in mid-May, for comparison.

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Upside is the best kind of down

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Under the (coffee) table and dreaming

What are you looking at?

What are you looking at?

You can't tell me how to sleep.

You can’t tell me how to sleep…

...or with whom...

…or with whom…

...or where to sleep. This bed is now mine too.

…or where. (This bed is mine now.)

Sleeping in range of the camera is not for the self-conscious.

You also cannot tell me when to wake up.

Especially that.

Especially that.

But perhaps I will wake up if there is a car ride involved.

But perhaps I will wake up if there is a car ride involved.

Or a squirrel toy to chew...

Or a squirrel toy to chew…

Squirrel toys beware!

Squirrel toys beware!

Sleeping in range of the camera is not for the self-conscious.

Sleeping in range of the camera is not for the self-conscious.

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A to Z Bookish Survey

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Who can resist a survey? Well, we’ve all gotten better at it over the years, or maybe it has just become more distributed, spread out across various social media platforms, so that your Goodreads friends know what you’re reading and your Twitter followers know who you thought should have won Best Picture and your Facebook friends know you “like” the new Matt Damon movie (not to mention all the old Matt Damon movies).

Anyway, my friend Linda (ThreeGoodRats) found this survey at Roof Beam Reader, created by Jamie at The Perpetual Page Turner, and I’ve been suckered in.

Author you’ve read the most books from:

Ann Patchett comes to mind first – I’m fairly certain I’ve read every book she’s written. But there there were all those series books I read as a kid, so it could be one of those authors, like Joanna Campbell or Joan Lowery Nixon or Lois Duncan or Caroline B. Cooney.

Best Sequel Ever:

I did love The Subtle Knife, the second book in Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy, even though it had a cliffhanger-y ending. I also liked Gayle Forman’s Where She Went,sequel/companion to If I Stay.

Currently Reading:

The Vacationers by Emma Straub, and Everybody Sees the Ants by A.S. King (audiobook).

Drink of Choice While Reading:

Depends on the season.

E-reader or Physical Book?

Physical, mostly. I get a lot of digital galleys on the e-reader, and it’s a nice way to read the really long books (Bleak House, Anna Karenina, The Goldfinch) and not have to carry around a four-pound block of paper.

Fictional Character You Probably Would Have Actually Dated In High School:

“Would have actually” is pretty far from “would have wanted to.” I quite like Sean Kendrick from Maggie Stiefvater’s The Scorpio Races.

Glad You Gave This Book A Chance:

Cloud Atlas and The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet by David Mitchell; these were book club picks and I needed the nudge, but I’m so glad I read them and got to discuss them. Another book club book I probably wouldn’t have read otherwise: Anna Karenina.

Hidden Gem Book:

Overture by Yael Goldstein was really lovely.

Important Moment in your Reading Life:

Er…learning to read? My parents read to me every night until I was about eight and decided it would be faster if I read by myself.

Just Finished:

Orlando by Virginia Woolf, The Secret Place by Tana French, The Cove by Ron Rash, Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit.

Kinds of Books You Won’t Read:

Self-help/inspirational, diet books, celebrity memoirs, Nicholas Sparks.

Longest Book You’ve Read:

Anna Karenina, I think. Unless you count the whole Harry Potter series as one book. Updated to add: is Gone With the Wind longer than Anna Karenina? If so, GWTW. But Anna Karenina felt longer.

Major book hangover because of:

This happened more when I was younger. Last year when I read Me Before You by Jojo Moyes I couldn’t face reading anything else right away so I just read it over again. Sometimes a magical place or particular writing style/voice will linger with me. Updated to add: Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel.

Number of Bookcases You Own:

Six, plus a basket of New Yorkers in the bathroom.

One Book You Have Read Multiple Times:

Hahaha, ONE? I’ve probably read The Time Traveler’s Wife more than any other book, but I love re-reading.

Preferred Place To Read:

Anywhere, everywhere.

Quote that inspires you/gives you all the feels from a book you’ve read:

“It occurs to her that there is one thing about people you can never understand well enough: how entirely inside themselves they are.”-Pigs in Heaven by Barbara Kingsolver
“No one can do a thing about feelings, they exist and there’s no way to censor them.” -Identity by Milan Kundera

Reading Regret:

I regret spending time on books I disliked from the start when I should have abandoned them; I regret not having read certain books yet, but I plan to remedy that eventually.

Series You Started And Need To Finish (all books are out in series):

Not sure there is one. There are series I haven’t finished but it’s a conscious choice.

Three of your All-Time Favorite Books:

The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, The Magician’s Assistant by Ann Patchett, His Dark Materials (trilogy) by Philip Pullman.

Unapologetic Fangirl For:

“Fangirl” certainly brings Rainbow Rowell to mind…I’m also vocal on behalf of Ann Patchett, Neil Gaiman, Simon Van Booy, John Green (though he has enough fans now), Chris Cleave, David Levithan, Julia Glass…

Very Excited For This Release More Than All The Others:

I’m always wildly excited for new Tana French or Maggie Stiefvater books. Right now I’m looking forward to The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell.

Worst Bookish Habit:

I often have more library books checked out than I can read in any given three-week span. Then I give the library books priority (because they have due dates) and take forever to get around to reading the books I actually own.

X Marks The Spot: Start at the top left of your shelf and pick the 27th book:

The Likeness by Tana French. (Fiction is shelved alphabetically by author.)

Your latest book purchase:

Oliver and His Alligator by Paul Schmid from Porter Square Books.

ZZZ-snatcher book (last book that kept you up WAY late):

The Secret Place by Tana French.

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Container garden

Here are this summer’s plants, and good luck to them!

flowers

A pretty orange flower I couldn’t resist.

roses

A mini rose bush I got for Ben for Valentine’s Day. It’s been inside since February.

mint

You can never have too much mint.

chives basil

Chives that survived the winter indoors; basil grown from seed.

rosemary

Rosemary also spent the winter indoors…and made baby rosemary.

Herb box with basil, parsley, and sage

Herb box with basil, parsley, and sage

Strawberry in pot, with squash in yard in the background

Strawberry in pot, with squash in yard in the background

Last year's strawberry buckets, which somehow survived the winter...

Last year’s strawberry buckets, which somehow survived the winter…

Last year’s strawberry buckets just have some holes drilled in the bottom for drainage, but this year’s tomato and pepper plants have a fancy drainage system devised by my friend. Each bucket is set down into another bucket, with a space (reservoir) between them into which the PVC pipe goes (there’s a little elbow on the bottom of the PVC pipe). You water through the PVC pipe, and the plants “drink” from the bottom up. There’s a drainage hole for excess water to escape. Pretty clever; I take no credit.

Five tomatoes, two bell peppers, one strawberry plant

Five tomatoes, two bell peppers, one strawberry plant

A butterfly wind chime from Mom

A butterfly wind chime from Mom

Let’s hope for a pleasant summer and not the hellish heat we’ve been told to expect after the exceedingly long, cold winter. Hurray for New England!

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From snow to spring

Winter was especially long this year. Here’s a post I started back in February:

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Nothing like being at work, watching inch after inch of snow fall, and feeling glad you put a shovel in the back of your car this morning. (That’s got to be on one of those “You know you’re a New Englander when…” lists, right?)
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Please excuse the glare from a light on the window (above); I took this photo from inside, ’cause I ain’t crazy.

But it is pretty when the sun comes out…

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***

Winter was especially long, and spring was especially poky in its arrival. But the snowdrops and crocuses began coming up a few weeks ago (though they got battered again by snow, ice, sleet, etc.), and now we’re seeing daffodils, early hyacinths and grape hyacinths, and a few tulips.

Today was finally warm and dry enough to take a blanket in the backyard and read outside for a few hours (until our delicate little flower of a dog got too warm and had to retreat to her fainting couch indoors).

"I don't know about this whole 'outdoors' thing. I like my couch."

“I don’t know about this whole ‘outdoors’ thing. I like my couch.”

In addition to the flowers growing outside, I’ve been indulging in some fresh cut flowers for inside. The blue glass bottle we brought back from Barcelona has been an excellent vase for these mini gerbera daisies:

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Is it ridiculous that aside from postcards, chocolate, and slightly-reduced TBR (to-be-read) lists, the only thing we brought back from Barcelona was an empty one-liter blue glass bottle? Probably. But it was just too pretty to leave behind.

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In other news, I can report that this flourless chocolate cake is as easy and as delicious as promised by both its creator and Deb at Smitten Kitchen (“17 flourless dessert ideas,” 4/16/08). Should you need something to get you through the final day of Passover (sorry I wasn’t more timely with this), this one is a winner.

Finally, for the two? three? loyal readers of this blog who have missed more frequent greyhound photos, here are a couple more:

"What's down there? Floor. Hmm. Floor looks comfortable too."

“What’s down there? Floor. Hmm. Floor looks comfortable too.”

"Helloooo down there."

“Helloooo down there.”

 

 

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Watercolors and Quilts at the Boston MFA

I had never been a member of any museum until this year, but I did a small amount of math and figured that it would be worth it to become a member of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts if I visited the museum at least three times a year. I’ve already been twice and it’s only April, so I’m glad I joined, though I could do with less junk mail.

In January I saw the John Singer Sargent Watercolors exhibit just before it closed, and it was absolutely fantastic. I was familiar with his oil paintings of course but had no idea he’d painted so many watercolors as well (or painted so much, period. The man was a workhorse). A few of my favorite paintings from the exhibit are included in the preview slideshowVenice: Under the Rialto Bridge, Mountain Fire, and Pomegranates. I also learned in the exhibit that Sargent invented the word Intertwingles (n.) for the interchangeable, entwined forms of the female subjects of his paintings (usually his sister and niece).

This month, my mom and I went to the “Quilts and Color” exhibit. Though I plan to go back and see the Impressionism exhibit that we didn’t have time for, the quilts were really cool. It raised my feminist hackles a bit to see the names of the (male) collectors prominently, while many of the names of the (female) quilters had been lost or forgotten, but their quilts were definitely neat to look at. Here are a few I especially liked, from the more traditional to the Escher-esque:

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These photos don’t show the incredible detail of the quilts, the tiny pieces and intricate stitches; they must have taken ages to make. Then again, you couldn’t just go buy blankets at Bed, Bath, & Beyond, and you couldn’t waste time on TV or the Internet because they hadn’t been invented yet. Instead, they did something useful and beautiful.

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I wonder if the quilter gave herself headaches making this one.

Magic Eye before Magic Eye was a thing.

Magic Eye before Magic Eye was a thing.

 

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I forget the name for this type of quilt (above), but it’s the kind that’s economical because it uses all the scraps it creates. And the blue is called “Lancaster blue.”

Double Wedding Ring Quilt, c. 1940

Double Wedding Ring Quilt, c. 1940

For all the beautifully curated exhibits, the impressive permanent collection, and the excellent events (Neil Gaiman!), the thing that delights me most at the MFA is this:

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Chihuly’s “Lime Green Icicle Tower” (is that its official name? That’s what it’s called in the press release [PDF]) is 42 feet high and weighs 10,000 pounds. Originally installed for the exhibit “Chihuly: Through the Looking Glass,” and designed especially for the space, it was acquired by the museum thanks to patron contributions. And yes, that’s a lot of money to spend on art when not everyone in the world has access to clean drinking water, but…

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…it’s pretty gorgeous.

 

 

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