October 28, 2013

The year's last, loveliest smile...

Such gorgeous weather this weekend!  Bright sunshine, a little cool in the shade, and perfect sweater weather in the full light of the sun.  I love autumn!  I do not, however, share the same affection for fall cleaning.  While I try to keep my house "picked up" most of the time, and deep clean when I'm expecting company, the two areas that regularly get away from me are my garage and my laundry room.

My laundry room is slightly creepy, tucked in my basement with only two flickering old fluorescent ceiling lights (and I hate, hate, hate fluorescent lighting) and dreary 1970's wallboard.  Do you remember that stuff..it's kind of like paneling but instead of faux wood it is stamped with icky (usually gold) designs?  And even though it is a fairly small space, besides my washer and dryer there is a utility sink and a water softener, two hanging racks with my daughter's ballet costumes and prom dresses, and two folding chairs stacked high with seasonal pillows and extra comforters.  Did I mention the old, stained gray concrete floor? It's a hot mess.  I would post a picture, but somethings are better left unseen. I saw this picture over the weekend and thought how cute it would be to try to fix up my laundry room to look like this instead.  I'll keep you posted on when/if that project ever takes off!  The appeal of this picture is it doesn't try too hard--you can tell it's still just a basement area but it looks sooo much better than mine! I'll keep you posted as to when/if that particular project ever takes off!

Basement Laundry Makeover
photo courtesy of Better Homes and Garden

And then there's the garage.  I wish I could say my garage looked like this:

or this:

but alas, my garage is something more along the lines of the Black Hole of Calcutta.  Things are temporarily placed in the garage and then never seen again.  I once read that the acronym STUFF stands for "Something That Undermines Family Fun."  If that is so, then no wonder my garage is no FUN at all!  Stuff, stuff and more stuff.  So I tackled what I could manage over the course of two days and reduced the stuff by over 14 contractor sized heavy duty plastic bags.  It doesn't mean the garage is organized like those in the pictures, and it doesn't mean it's done, but it's definitely better and that makes me happy. I love organized spaces. 

But of course there needs to be more to a weekend than cleaning!  My husband and I saw a Saturday matinee of Captain Phillips with Tom Hanks.  What can I say about a movie that had us both sobbing at the same moment??  The acting is amazing.  I was just glad I knew the end before I saw the movie, because I was on the edge of my chair anyway and if I hadn't known the ending I might have passed out from sheer anxiety!  I also tried a couple of new recipes, re-read an old Dick Francis book while stretched out on the sofa with my puppy in my lap (my husband says both of us were snoring, but I'm sure it was just Willow...),
and  to top off Sunday night I celebrated fall in one of the best ways possible...homemade apple dumplings. I use the recipe passed down from my grandmother to my mother, and I feel proud (and a little homesick) every time I serve them. They are topped with a homemade buttery caramel sauce, and even if I do say so myself, they're pretty tasty!

I thought you might enjoy a few views of the Atlantic Ocean, as seen from the lovely Cliff Walk in Newport, RI.  They make me want to pack my bag and head back East...such beautiful scenery! This is the section of the 3.5 mile Cliff Walk that my work colleague and I completed, starting at the Memorial Drive entrance off of Easton Beach and ending at the Breakers (mansion at top left of the picture).  This walk was designated at a National Recreation Trail in 1975--the first in New England. It is world famous as a public access walk that combines the natural beauty of Newport's shoreline with the stunning architectural history of Newport's gilded age.

Of course the walk took a little bit longer since I kept stopping to try to capture the "perfect" picture that showed both the beautiful foliage and the sea so far below us, but fortunately my friend was incredibly patient...

Besides the foliage the trail itself offered some interesting shots, including the famous 40 Steps to the Sea, a dramatic stone staircase that drops about two-thirds of the way down the side of the cliff to a balcony over the sea.  During Newport's Golden Age, these steps served as a gathering place for the servants and workers from the mansions that line the Cliff Walk.  Here they would hold weekend dances and play the Irish songs and music that reminded them of home. 

I love this picture, but I won't spoil the effect by telling you what the "cross" really was---something disappointingly prosaic!   Sometimes photography is all about the illusion, right?

And in celebration of the lovely autumn foliage, here is a nice poem to start our week off on a happy note.  Richard Gilder (1844-1909) writes of the cheerful goldenrod that I saw on my walk.

An Autumn Meditation


Grows a weed
More richly here beside our mellow seas
That is the Autumn's harbinger and pride.
When fades the cardinal-flower, whose heart-red bloom
Glows like a living coal upon the green
Of the midsummer meadows, then how bright,
How deepening bright like mounting flame doth burn
The golden rod upon a thousand hills!
This is the Autumn's flower, and to my soul
A token fresh of beauty and of life,
And life's supreme delight.

Happy Monday!

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