Economic Stimulus

There’s a Marimekko store about a mile and a half from our apartment, in Huron Village. We’ve driven past it several times but have never ventured inside. This weekend, though, as we were on our way to Sofra for lunch, I noticed a huge “Final Sale Days!” sign in the window, so I convinced Stephen to stop on the way back and browse with me.

I’ve never been a huge fan of the classic Unikko fabric (sacrilege!), but I fell in love with this pink-on-pink version when I saw it in the Scandinavian shop we visited in Portland in June. I couldn’t reconcile myself to the price then (this stuff is not cheap), but I steeled myself this time and got enough to make a couple of pillowcases for the bed. We really don’t need any more pillowcases, but the fabric is so lovely and summery that I'm sure they'll be used frequently. I got this little glasses case in the same fabric, rationalizing that I’ve been carrying my sunglasses around in an old sock for the past year and am ready for an upgrade.

We got some birdy fabric, too, to make throw pillows for the couch. And then I saw this plywood tray, the same one I’ve long coveted in one of the pictures in this book (scroll down), and decided to be completely reckless and buy that, too. The staff seemed grateful to make a sale—they said business has been slow lately, but they’re encouraged that it will pick up soon because there are more smudgy noseprints on the outside of the windows when they arrive in the morning lately. Some of those noseprints, no doubt, were from me, although I didn’t admit it. Oh, Finnland! Oh, Scandinavia! How I love your homegoods.


Iggy Stardust

We got a cat! His name is Iggy, he’s six years old, and quite big for a cat. I mean, he’s tall/long, but also rather…plump. We’re going to take him to the vet and see if he needs to be put on a diet.

In the meantime, we’ve been bonding with this new addition. Iggy’s very affectionate and rather dog-like. He follows us from room to room, sits between us on the couch when we watch TV, and likes to nap at the foot of the bed while I'm reading. (To minimize the potential for allergic reactions, though, I always kick him out of the bedroom before going to sleep.)

The cat came to us from one of my co-workers. Her fiancĂ© is deathly allergic to cats, so her parents have been watching Igs since she moved in with him, but they travel too frequently to really take care of him well. My co-worker has been looking for a new home for Iggy for a while now, so this worked out well for all of us. I was nervous at first that Iggy would trigger Stephen’s cat allergies, but he's been okay so far (fingers crossed).

Iggy’s been really good about not scratching the furniture, although he has done some serious damage to the catnip mice we got him. Here are three of his toys (from right to left): a brand new one, a 3-day-old one, and a third that he’s played with for a week. Poor things. Thank God we don’t have real rodents in the apartment. As it is, we come home to every evening to evidence to the latest Catnip Massacre: little felt ears and tails and bits of stuffing scattered throughout the apartment.

But we don't mind too much.


Return to Georges Island

I can't believe it's been almost two years since our last trip to the Harbor Islands. This Sunday, we once again took the ferry to Georges Island. Stephen brought his pinhole camera along, which is what these photos are from. They're a little blurry, but I like the immediacy of the images. They weren't filtered through lenses or fancy digital settings. It was just the object and the film, and a tiny hole in a piece of cardboard.

Ads on the T for the Boston Harbor Islands say, "Minutes away. Worlds apart." I can't think of a better description--it's almost bizarre how tranquil the islands are, given that you can see the Boston skyline and the runway at Logan Airport nearby. After battling our way through the lunchtime crowd at Faneuil Hall, it was a huge relief to board the ferry and chug out into the harbor.

Located 7 miles from Long Wharf, George's Island encompasses 39 acres at high tide and 53 at low. According to the National Park Service, "The island sustained agricultural use for two hundred years until 1825 when the US Government acquired the island for coastal defense. Over the next twenty years, the island was dramatically altered and one of the country’s finest forts was built. Dedicated in 1847, the fort’s defensive design was virtually obsolete upon completion. However, the fort served as a training ground, patrol point, and Civil War prison that gained a favorable reputation for the humane treatment of its Confederate prisoners." Today, the fort is a National Historic Landmark, and is open to the public year-round. Boy, does it sound like I'm doing their PR or what?

But I love it there. Our visit always seems too short. I like to lie on the grass near the ocean for an hour or two and let my mind go blank. Then we spend some time exploring the twisting stairways of the fort and poking around the old granite outbuildings, trying to imagine what each room and structure was once used for. I invariably hear kids ask their parents if the island is haunted, which isn't surprising. It has the spooky air of a place that has lived many lives.

Lives that only ghosts remember now.


Midsummer Review

While looking at a gallery of reader-submitted vacation photos on the Boston Globe's website today, I realized that I have done a poor job of documenting my own summer adventures thus far. Stephen's camera broke a few weeks ago, so I'm sort of scraping things together here, picture-wise, but here are some of the Greatest Hits of Summer '09.


We spent half a week in early July in Acadia National Park with my parents and youngest brother. It was cool and foggy, much as it has been in Boston for the past 2 months, only more picturesque. In our four days there, we managed to squeeze in several of my favorite Acadian activities:

1. Sitting in the gazebo at Thuya Garden (my mother and I agreed that this is our "happy place"--the place you're supposed to think of when you're trying to dispel anxiety and slow your heart rate).

2. Hiking the 3 mile loop around Jordan Pond, followed by tea at Jordan Pond House.

3. Eating ice cream and sandwiches in Bar Harbor. (If you're ever looking for a quick and tasty lunch in the area, I highly recommend the cheddar/pesto/apple panini at Michelle's Brown Bag Cafe on Main Street. We had lunch there on Friday, then went back on Saturday to get more sandwiches for the ride home.)

4. Shopping at the Rooster Brother in Ellsworth, followed by dinner at the Mex, where I always eat way too much and regret it.

5. Walking through the Asticou Azalea Garden, followed by pastries from the bakery at the Colonel's in Northeast Harbor

On our last morning, the sun finally came out, so Stephen and I took a spontaneous hike up the South Bubble to Bubble Rock, which is even more vertigo-inducing than I remembered. Even Stephen wouldn't go near it.

Photo courtesy of themaclellans.com

Stephen's mom recently got two new baby chicks for her coop. They're now a couple of weeks old, and so tiny and soft, just as you imagine a baby chick would be. We've spent lots of time hanging out with them and feeding them insects and Cheerios. Stephen's poor dog is very jealous and can't understand why we lavish attention on little fluffballs that can't even do tricks. But we've got to enjoy them extra now while they're still so cute and easy to catch!

Cupcakes and the Children's Museum

Last weekend, we got dressed up in our fancy clothes and went to the Ritz-Carlton for cupcake tea. (These cupcakes are actually from Lulu's, but you can see the real deal on the hotel's website.) The cupcakes were delicious and gorgeously crafted, but five cupcakes--even five mini cupcakes--is a lot to take in one meal. I only got through three, and that took about an hour. Woo!

Afterward, we took Stephen's three little cousins to the Children's Museum, which I've never visited before. It was fun for all ages, but I wish I had come as a kid to crawl around on the New Balance Climb. Lucky ducks.

I've also been taking a couple of summer classes, reading, and wrapping up the fiscal year at work. Of course, I still have a zillion things I want to do before the fall. I think I'd better make a late summer to-do list, since the next 1.5 months are likely to go by as quickly as the last 1.5 did. At least the sun is finally out, so we can get down to the business of sandal-wearing and food-grilling.