Archive for the ‘Personal’ Category

The Tree

December 27th, 2012

December always tends to slip away in a bit of a blur. This year was no exception, so here I am, late with my holiday post and left with loads of unshared photographs that date back as far as February. I won’t get to all of them before the year closes out, but stick around [...]

 

December always tends to slip away in a bit of a blur. This year was no exception, so here I am, late with my holiday post and left with loads of unshared photographs that date back as far as February. I won’t get to all of them before the year closes out, but stick around because one of my immediate goals for the new year is to finish blogging about some of our trips from 2012: Boston, Charleston, Savannah and of course Iceland.

 

This year was our fourth December with my cousin Brent living nearby in Massachusetts. A few weeks ago, he packed everything up after completing his graduate work at Boston University and headed back home to Hawaii. But before he left, we returned to Jones Farm in Shelton to get our Christmas tree.

I love being up high on a hillside and though we’ve also been to Treat Farm and Maple Row to search for a Christmas tree, Jones Farm has my favorite views.

Here’s D on the hunt.
Waiting until mid-December means searching a little further afield for the right tree. This year was probably the longest we’ve ever been on the hunt, but we’re never out there for more than 20-30 minutes.

We’ve got our final choice. Note to self: trees on a hillside may not be as tall as they appear.


Once inside the house, it was quickly apparent that our tree was vertically-challenged. It was raised up on a box and flanked by the yard reindeer. Every year there are a few strings of Christmas lights that won’t cooperate. Less than half the reindeer lights worked, so we didn’t bother even bringing these 2 fellows outside. Brent was in charge of tree trimming, which is why all our ornaments are hung with such perfect care.

Next Fall, Brent will start dental school – probably in the Midwest. I’ve never been to Kansas City, but it looks like we have a few years to arrange a visit.  Brent continues the white coat tradition in our family. Both my grandfather and his father graduated from the same dental school. We are proud of him, but will miss him dearly. Next December just won’t be the same.

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marathon monday

April 16th, 2012

After stumbling upon a student tour of The College of Charleston, I momentarily wished I could linger forever in the dreamy / sunny / 80 degree weather of South Carolina in April. But I found my way back to Connecticut, thoroughly refreshed by a much needed holiday. What’s it like to travel with me? Well, [...]

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After stumbling upon a student tour of The College of Charleston, I momentarily wished I could linger forever in the dreamy / sunny / 80 degree weather of South Carolina in April. But I found my way back to Connecticut, thoroughly refreshed by a much needed holiday.

What’s it like to travel with me? Well, for starters there’s constant eating and drinking and the ever persistent camera. For this trip, we were joined by 2 additional travel companions, my cousin Brent… gearing up for his first half marathon on May. And Miranda, running her 4th Boston Marathon, today.

While I’m usually lagging in the back, well aware that walking + shooting photos  = sprained ankle (been there x 2),  Miranda’s always out in front, leading the way. She never misses an opportunity to urge me to do more with my blog, so Miranda – today this post is for you and your 26.2 miles on the road to finding a cure for cancer.

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good riddance irene

January 24th, 2012

While cataloging the posts that didn’t make it on to the blog in 2011, I recognize that I was notably quiet about our experience with Tropical Storm Irene. I was unnerved by life without electricity and even more upset watching my in-laws and their neighbors deal with aftereffects, less than half a mile away. We [...]

 

While cataloging the posts that didn’t make it on to the blog in 2011, I recognize that I was notably quiet about our experience with Tropical Storm Irene. I was unnerved by life without electricity and even more upset watching my in-laws and their neighbors deal with aftereffects, less than half a mile away. We hosted those a few who could no longer inhabit their homes and lived by the grace of a generator. It was not convenient, but it was nothing to complain about.

I started this post back in September, but never found the energy to finish it until now. Five months later, my in-laws are very close to returning home.

September 8, 2011
How quickly life goes back to normal. I’m still momentarily surprised by hot water from the tap, flipping the switch and being delivered from darkness. Last week, I learned to appreciate all those little things so easily taken for granted.

Hurricane Irene roared up the Eastern Seaboard, but in the end it was the storm surge that ended up being even more devastating. Here in Morningside we lost power for 5 days, but I know there are those who lost much more. It was a rough week all around, but we are counting ourselves lucky that our friends and family are safe.

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In Morningside, a tremendous wind violently ripped the leaves into a soggy green carpet

The angry Long Island Sound, high above from the Morningside seawall

So much for the hurricane shutter… and the window.

The storm surge flooded the neighborhood and set all kinds of personal effects adrift in the street.

Not every golf cart ride is fun

One block in, now on the waterfront

This little water voyage made me smile

One day later: golden tranquility returns to the shoreline.

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kindness of strangers

December 21st, 2011

The week before Christmas, I can always start to feel things come a little unglued. It’s that one last gift you can’t figure out, the traffic jam in the parking lot, and the stress over entertaining family. Last night a person we had never met before bought us dinner. We were a surprised and hesitant [...]

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The week before Christmas, I can always start to feel things come a little unglued. It’s that one last gift you can’t figure out, the traffic jam in the parking lot, and the stress over entertaining family.

Last night a person we had never met before bought us dinner. We were a surprised and hesitant in accepting his generosity, but he simply insisted we pay it forward. This afternoon I had the answer. I remembered Community Plates, a local Connecticut non-profit recently featured on CT Bites.

‘Tis better to give than receive. So true…

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thymes frasier fir

December 19th, 2011

As we close in on Christmas, I have a great little discovery for all of you who have said “bah humbug” to pine needles on the floor and the question, “did you remember to water the tree?” If your Christmas tree was assembled after digging out the storage box, there’s no doubt you may still [...]

 

As we close in on Christmas, I have a great little discovery for all of you who have said “bah humbug” to pine needles on the floor and the question, “did you remember to water the tree?”

If your Christmas tree was assembled after digging out the storage box, there’s no doubt you may still miss that woodsy holiday scent that comes along with dragging a live tree inside your house. The Thymes Frasier Fir collection is the answer. So many candles feature an overbearing fragrance, but this is one is very balanced and natural. Light this candle before the doorbell rings and you’ll notice  guests immediately comment that the tree smells great! I received this candle from a co-worker and now that I’ve test-run it a few times, I’ll say it’s a worthwhile investment and makes a fine holiday gift. It burns cleanly and evenly and when you take down the ornaments, you can pack this candle away knowing it will last for many Decembers to come.

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photo booths – a word to the wise

November 4th, 2011

Photo booth shots may com back to haunt you! I’m aware they are a popular feature at weddings these days, but have never come across one before Katey and Dave’s NYC wedding. There’s something about this curtained little cramped space that guarantees some laughs, especially since I entered with a camera hound celebrating his birthday! [...]

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Photo booth shots may com back to haunt you!

I’m aware they are a popular feature at weddings these days, but have never come across one before Katey and Dave’s NYC wedding. There’s something about this curtained little cramped space that guarantees some laughs, especially since I entered with a camera hound celebrating his birthday! This booth automatically took 6 photos. We kept one strip of 3 and the other 3 went into a guest book. We  kept the sillier shots (still safe in my wallet) and gave the newlyweds the straighter set of photos. Turns out NYC Photobooth supplied the bride and groom digital copies of EVERY photo! They’re also online, in a event gallery. Mercifully, those images are password protected, but you can laugh at ours below!

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torrey pines

July 13th, 2011

We initially planned our trip to Southern California to celebrate a few milestones in my father’s family: my grandfather’s 88th birthday (a significant celebration is in order if you are Japanese) and my cousin Geoff’s graduation from UCSD.  My aunt planned this family reunion and firmly believes that in order to have a successful family [...]

 

We initially planned our trip to Southern California to celebrate a few milestones in my father’s family: my grandfather’s 88th birthday (a significant celebration is in order if you are Japanese) and my cousin Geoff’s graduation from UCSD.  My aunt planned this family reunion and firmly believes that in order to have a successful family vacation, you must ensure everyone gets at least one activity that makes them happy. Since D was enduring a lot of time with MY family, I’m sure his trip highlight was a round of golf with my uncle and grandfather on the North Course at Torrey Pines.

When we arrived in La Jolla, we drove straight to the course for a 10 am tee time. After our hot afternoon inland in Coto de Caza, I was unprepared for the June gloom and chilly temps on the coast. Like a true rookie visitor to the San Diego area, I hadn’t packed enough long-sleeved clothing and I figured, “oh it’ll just burn off.” I didn’t expect to go out on the golf course, but at the last minute my uncle suggested riding in the cart. I grabbed my camera and proceeded to freeze my way through the front 9.

While the guys were warming up on the driving range, I took a look around.

My Uncle Steven

D on left, my grandfather on the right

What the deal is with the Torrey Pine?
Is it native to only this area of La Jolla? It certainly is a iconic feature of this course.

Looking south to downtown La Jolla

My grandfather is an avid golfer and was a longtime member of Waialae CC. These days, he doesn’t get out quite as much, but regardless, it’s pretty impressive to play a full round of golf at a US Open course when you’re 88!

I begin to tire of pine trees and start checking out other flora and fauna

There were loads of rabbits on the North Course. This fellow is just chillin’, not the least bit afraid of me or any of the golfers passing by.

I really can’t explain the wacky range in exposure for these photos. I’d like to blame it on the June gloom or the rush to find a place to shoot, while not holding up the game, but really it boils down to user error.

When we hit the turn, I promptly jumped out of the cart and booked it on over to our hotel. I was freezing cold and had lost feeling on the side of both my pinky fingers 3 holes ago. The Hilton Torrey Pines was our home base for 2 days. Located right on the edge of the 18th fairway, we found it both comfortable and reasonably priced! We also liked being situated between both La Jolla and Del Mar. Check out the view from our room!

A final note about me (and golf):
Even though I can’t play, I am one of the crazy few who finds it relaxing to watch golf on tv. Perhaps I am just so happy that football season is over! I also don’t mind riding along in the cart, as long as the course is a worthwhile spot for photos.

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morningside at 90

July 7th, 2011

Once upon a time, Morningside was just one large estate. Eventually it was subdivided into many smaller building lots that make up the footprint of the current neighborhood. This year, the Morningside Association celebrates its 90th anniversary!  I think most of our neighbors would agree that Morningside is at its best during the summer.  In fact, [...]

 

Once upon a time, Morningside was just one large estate. Eventually it was subdivided into many smaller building lots that make up the footprint of the current neighborhood. This year, the Morningside Association celebrates its 90th anniversary!  I think most of our neighbors would agree that Morningside is at its best during the summer.  In fact, its finest hour may just be the Fourth of July picnic.  Last year, my Hawaii cousin Brent attended this bbq organized and funded by the association and proclaimed it was like being in a movie. There’s a lot of All-American small town appeal in this community of about 200 families. Where else can you gather in the summer shade and eat your neighbors’ home cooking while watching kids go crazy with tug-of-war, sack race and egg toss? I know there are many, many folks who contribute their time and efforts to make this event happen, but I believe an extra special shout out belongs to Bob W, Mr. Fourth of July.

We’re lucky to have a rec field that is managed by the association. When we arrived, the grill was already going with burgers and dogs.

Neighbors contribute side salads and other specialties

First order of business: getting in line for lunch

Tug of war

We bring our own chairs and always seek shade on the hillside. This year the weather was perfect. Just a slight breeze to cool things off.

Back to the three-legged race

And the sack race

And finally… the egg toss. A lot of eggs met their demise on that field!

It’s really wonderful to have a frosty treat on a hot summer day. In order for the neighborhood kids to get their ice cream, first they need to deliver it out to all the adults on the field.

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the ‘M’ in M&Co

April 4th, 2011

It started with a paperweight. Nearly every summer of my childhood, I flew from Connecticut to visit my father (an attorney) who lived in Honolulu. I had my eye on a paperweight that he kept at home. It looked like trash, a discarded sheet of yellow lined legal paper destined for the garbage. I wanted [...]

 


It started with a paperweight.

Nearly every summer of my childhood, I flew from Connecticut to visit my father (an attorney) who lived in Honolulu. I had my eye on a paperweight that he kept at home. It looked like trash, a discarded sheet of yellow lined legal paper destined for the garbage. I wanted this paperweight even though I had no legal aspirations and it’s doubtful that I had ever even scribbled on an 8.5 x 14″ page. I certainly wasn’t churning out anything special in middle school, but I still grasped the small pleasure that comes with *physically* discarding a bad idea. These days, just try getting that same satisfaction when you delete a file into the ‘recycle bin’ on your computer desktop!

My dad passed away my freshman year of high school and no one claimed (or threw out) the crumpled mass. An only child, I quietly claimed this memento as my own.


Who would design such a paperweight? I never bothered to investigate. This pre-dated the days of Googling every question that pops into your head. I had never even heard of the New York design firm, M&Co.  My introduction came after college, when I bought a hardcover copy of Tibor Kalman: The Perverse Optimist. As I poured over the pages, there was the story behind the paperweight.

And it had friends!

Inside that hardcover retrospective, I also took a special shining to the whimsical drawings and paintings of Maira (the M in M&Co) Kalman. Over the years, she’s stayed on my radar. I bought What Pete Ate for a friend’s son. I stumbled across The Pursuit of Happiness blog on the New York Times. I purchased the hardcover of The Elements of Style (for the illustrations) and when we bought our new house, I proudly shelved it in our downstairs bathroom. Bonus points for you, if you visit and happen to notice it.

Last week I finally crossed paths with this fast-talking artist, who really can find inspiration in just about anywhere. In May, she’ll be moonlighting as a maid in an Irish castle.  After a Westport Library/Write Yourself Free talk with her partner-in-crime Rick Meyerowitz, Ms Kalman graciously signed my copy of The Elements of Style.  The first thing she did was inspect the book’s spine to make white typeface was printed properly.  I immediately panicked, but was assured not to worry. My copy came off-press just fine.

Rick Meyerowitz’s work was mostly new to me. I’m a bit too young to remember National Lampoon the first time around, but his new retrospective Drunk, Stoned, Brilliant, Dead has also been purchased, signed and has quickly topped the backlog stack of New Yorker magazines on my reading list. I would love to sit down to dinner with these two. They have a sharp eye for both the absurd and the beautiful in life. Plus, they love to photograph food!

End note: I’m sure many of you are thinking, why doesn’t she read the damn Elements book and learn a thing or two from Strunk and White? Like Ms. Kalman, I appreciate wit and wisdom of The Elements of Style, but I’m a designer, not a writer. I find grammatical guidance difficult to absorb or heed.
Recently, I posted a link to Dine with Design, a June 11, 2011 event that features food from Harvest to Heat chefs and artisans at Philip Johnson’s Glass House. The sole Facebook comment came from my friend Burke, who noted, “People who dine in glass houses shouldn’t throw cherry stones.” I thought this quip was the perfect match for a Maira Kalman illustration. But of course she’s already been to New Canaan and I’d know that if I had bothered to read about restrictive clauses.

image via nytimes

If you’ve never seen Maira Kalman in action, you can watch her TEDtalk video below.

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Happy Birthday George

February 17th, 2011

My stepfather is probably the person who has most influenced my love of food and travel. Tonight we celebrate with family, but George has never dined at Schoolhouse at Cannondale so we plan to remedy that shortly. I always hear rave reviews for Chef LeBant’s food, I don’t know why it’s been over a year [...]

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My stepfather is probably the person who has most influenced my love of food and travel.
Tonight we celebrate with family, but George has never dined at Schoolhouse at Cannondale so we plan to remedy that shortly. I always hear rave reviews for Chef LeBant’s food, I don’t know why it’s been over a year since our last visit!