Surrounded by Beauty!

Have you ever been so overwhelmed by the indescribable beauty you are observing that you get a little sad, because no photo will ever be able to capture the incredible sight before your eyes? Any photo you take or picture you snap will only ever be a pale reflection of the stunning sight before your eyes. The beauty that you witness is not portable. It is at moments like those that I find myself thinking: via

I am going to share with you a few pictures I have taken during moments that took my breath away, in hopes that you will be equally as astounded as I am that photos of such beautiful moments – exquisite though the subject matter is – show just a fraction of the incredible nature of reality. If you can fathom that concept, then you will realize that there is so much beauty around us on a daily basis, so much wonder to behold, that maybe it can serve as a reminder to take advantage of the things we see with our own eyes!

Le Coucher du Soleil  

beauty on the seine

Paris, France

Pathway to Versailles

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le chateau de Versailles, France

The Good Board Walk

boardwalk

Good Harbor Beach, Gloucester, Massachusetts

Le Papillon

butterlies in France

Aix-en-Provence, France

Ciel Du Passé

cieling

le chateau de Versailles, France

Floating

clouds drift

Pine Bush, MA

Senioritis

ferrin field - the view

Ferrin Field, Wenham, Massachusetts

Summer Heat

fire of summer

Beverly, Massachusetts

Wedding Day

 gorgeous sunrise

Geneva, New York

Wishfully Skee Rye Run

grandpa's drive

Pine Bush, Massachusetts

Finals

   nighttime in college

Gordon College, Coy Pond, Wenham, Massachusetts

Cloud Jumping

 puddles in paris

Le Jardin des Tuileries, Paris, France

Lacey Fields

queen anne's lace

Trumansburg, New York

A Covenant Forever

rainbow

Ithaca, New York

Reflections and Changes

reflection

The Lynn Wood, Massachusetts

A Sky on Fire

Sky on fire

Somewhere between Boston and New York…

Clearly

summer sky

The Great Lawn, Manchester-by-the-Sea, Massachusetts

Ice Over

Home and Ice

Ithaca, New York

Blustery

More France

Somewhere in Haute Savoie, France

Nostalgia

sunset

Cayuga Lake, Ithaca, New York

Through The Window

France

Aix-en-Provence, France

Driving Home

 the drive home

Somewhere on Rte 227 in New York State

Wild Tigers

tiger lillies

Trumansburg, New York

Glory, A Bus Ride Away

tholonet

Le Tholonet, France

Tulips, One Dog

 tulips and puppies

Beverly, Massachusetts

Farewell, Formally

view from the omni

view from the top of the Omni Parker in Boston, MA

Come Thou Fount

water

somewhere near a metro stop in downtown Boston

Fields of Down

watercolor world

Near Crane’s Beach, Ipswich, Massachusetts

Make a Wish

Wish

Ithaca, New York

On The Front Porch

Home

Ithaca, New York

Traveling Through

Light and Glory

Paris, France

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Four Seasons – Not Just A Restaurant

WInter Sky

You never understand the reality of living in New England until you have forgotten what the front porch looks like without salt stains, you can’t remember what it feels like to walk on dry pavement (forget about grass!), and you can tell that there was an overnight snowfall merely because of the pale white quality of the early morning light leaking through the tightly-closed blinds. It’s a crazy, bipolar kind of existence, living in Massachusetts, because the snow is a force to be reckoned with, an all-encompassing lifestyle shaker. And yet, somehow it renders the two (if we’re lucky) months of summer so vibrant and lush that you can’t bear to leave. In the midst of seemingly endless parades of snow alternating with that strange weather that meteorologists refer to as “wintry mix”, we just manage to remember that in a few months there will be a sea-change.

The Deluge

Oh, sure, first it will rain . . . torrentially . . . possibly for the entire month of June. After that, though, this world that has been so monochromatically gray and so inexplicably frozen will explode into action.

The Explosion

The trees will blossom into lush fullness, the ocean will sparkle like a blanket of diamonds, the heat will surprise popsicles into melting, and the sun will catch oft-hidden pale skin unaware with more than just a kiss of color. I often wonder how southerners read C.S. Lewis’s The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, and really get it. Who can understand the curse of “always winter, but never Christmas” if they haven’t lived it in some way? A single season –even winter– might not sound too bad for people who have not truly traveled into the extremes.

Extremes

Why do we think, societally, that talking about the weather is shallow? Perhaps we use it as a conversational crutch to avoid more personal dialogue, or to keep chatter topical and connect us to everyday faces we encounter through that one universal experience, but weather is nothing to be relegated merely to the surface level. Weather, in its extremes, and perhaps even in its temperance, can be life-changing. A freak storm might end a life but a lifetime of weak sunlight on crabgrass might render a life less full, which is possibly more insidious. Talking about weather might just be the most important thing we do, if it allows us to recognize the multifaceted brilliance of our backdrop.

Beauty

Maybe I will someday laugh at these foolish musings and think that I was young and over-romanticizing a silly topic. Or maybe when I am old, I will move to an always-sunny climate because my back can no longer take the hours of shoveling required to manage life in New England. I don’t pretend to know the way that age shapes perspectives on weather, but I do know that snowstorms that were once just a glittering world of opportunity for forts, snowmen, and hot chocolate are, sadly, now more commonly groan-inducing reasons to shovel the driveway so that you can slide terrifyingly as you try to stop the car on the commute to work. Perspectives do change and the practicalities and responsibilities of life might change me, so I might be lying when I say that I always will live in a place with four seasons. It is, however, my plan, and for this moment I am sticking to it.
No Exit In Sight

So today, even though I am headed to pick up my snow shovel and scrape off the tired Honda, I am going to remember that in a few months everything will change. I am thankful to know what it means to have a season, to understand the curse of the White Witch and the joy in the hope of Aslan. I am thankful to live in New England. The snow may be deeper here, but the sun is also warmer.

The Backdrop

Petticoat Mania

Chiffon, Silk, Ruffles, Lace, Tiers

petticoats

via

I have a major obsession with petticoats. Perhaps this is not a surprise to some. It’s just that petticoats make every full skirt behave the way it should, you know? There is something inherently feminine and inexplicably satisfying about donning a few layers of lace chiffon and sashaying from Point A to Point B like  Scarlett O’Hara…

 
via

Plus, you just stand out from the crowd when you wear one. Example? Look how it seriously transformed my other-wise awkward salmon colored dress:

I know, I know, it’s old fashioned. I get the occasional little old lady telling me that she remembers being forced to wear them as a girl . . . BUT, I also get a lot of people who wish they were fashion-forward (backward?) enough to attempt to wear a petticoat. For some reason people think it takes guts to wear one of these darlings, but the reality is that they’re very empowering, you know? It takes a lot less chutzpah than it takes to wear some of those scandalous get-ups people go clubbing in these days. Yes, I am old-school. I ascribe to the  passé philosophies made popular by the oh-so-gauche stylists of decades past like, oh, you know, Christian Dior? According to St. Wikipedia, the return of the petticoat (following their necessary extinction during World War Two) is thanks to Christian Dior’s “New Look” line, back in in 1947

via

Who is Edith Head, might you ask? And what would she know about dresses? She happens to be the only lady in American HISTORY to win EIGHT Academy Awards for costume design.

Edith

via

Yeah, Pixar even made a character based off of her in The Incredibles. She’s kind of a big deal. So, don’t take my advice, take Edith’s. Lay off the skin tight, and spruce up a dress here and there by adding a fluffy little petticoat into the fray!

Paint + Wine + Friends = EXCELLENT

Once upon a few months ago, my dear friend KTD asked if I wanted to rally the troops and sashay over to Newtonville, Massachussetts for my very first visit to The Paint Bar. If you are like my past self and are unaware of what this magical-sounding location might be . . . well, allow me to enlighten you.

It is a one-session painting class.

With Alcohol.


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Sharing the affinity for both fine wine and arts-n-crafts is not something that should be relegated to the stereotypical French past, my friends! You’ve got to try this! Even people who proclaim themselves hopeless with a paintbrush and helpless with a palette (*cough* me *cough*) will be surprised at the fun AND the results! Everyone gets situated with the colors necessary for the session’s assigned painting, and then the lovely artist-in-charge (it’s a family-run business) takes you through the process of painting!

Adding some COLOR to life!

About two hours of wholesome fun later, you go from white canvas and a simple smattering of paint to a whole new product!

Voilà! My Masterpiece!

I strongly suggest hopping on this bandwagon and booking yourself (and some friends) a fun afternoon (or soirée) in the near future!  $35 is more than worth the full experience, but you seriously have to book in advance because these puppies are booked out for weeks, and sometimes even months, in advance!

Listen to me, I sound like an infomercial. That alone should tell you that this is worth it . . . give it a try! Let me know if you enjoyed it as much as I did!

True Confessions of a Klutz

I feel like I should start this like the stereotypical AA meetings you see in movies. You know:

“Hi, my name is Abby, and I am a klutz.”

Why are we talking about this? Well, because I want to share my lament in hopes that it might encourage others not to bemoan their own klutz status. What made me think to write this now??? Well, this week at work I tripped over some computer chords and said a not-so-choice word as, skidding, my knees caught the brunt of my fall against the sand-paper-like carpet. Uncomfortable as it was, this is not the only outlandish occurence of anti-gravitational skill in my recent past. To be quite frank, falling down is starting to become a serious problem for me.

that friend
This past year I have realized, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that I am no longer just occasionally clumsy, but that I am that friend; the one that is always falling down. Don’t get me wrong, gracelessness when moving has never been my forté, but the last 12 months have been rife with some real doozies.
Let’s rewind a few months, just to give you a clear picture of how impossible living with klutziness has become. Twas the night before my brother’s wedding, and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, except for little old moi. And for good reason! Most of the family were passed out, exhausted after rehearsing not only the wedding itself, but also the coordinated dancing “flash-mob” that my brother and his fiancée were planning for the reception . However, I was running around printing of final details for the wedding gift my brother and I were putting together for the newlyweds (a year of pre-planned dates with all the necessary accoutrements!). After my second failed attempt to print, I headed upstairs to see if anyone else was still awake to help me with the infernal printer. Halfway up the stairs, I remembered that I needed to turn the basement lamp off . . .
down down down
That’s right. Being the extremely graceful person that I am, I managed fall down my parents basement stairs at about 1:30 in the morning and (drum-roll please) land nose-first on the concrete floor, officially breaking my nose less than 12 hours before the ceremony. Somebody award me a badge.
badge?
I’ve never broken a bone before, but then I’ve never had a sibling get married before, so maybe it was only appropriate that they should both happen for the first time on the same day.
flight...
I actually would prefer to think of the entire episode as an experimental (if failed) attempt at flight, especially since I’m not really sure how I wound up landing as far away from the steps as I did. Plus, the entire experience certainly made me much more thankful for ibuprofen, since I took about 4 of them every few hours on the wedding day.
All this said, if you are like me, and you really identify with this tiny dancer when it comes to lack of innate grace, . . .

Remember:

how we risevia

JOYEUSE St.Valentin!

Happy Valentine’s Day!!!

Check out  some of the notes that I shared with Friends  (and students!) on this lovely day:

narwhalstars sold

pine coneshoney badgers

And. . . because laughter is just wonderful:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=LDWJn3IwiaM

My handsome valentine:

love in it

The cupcakes I made for my students: 

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2013-02-13_20-19-22_632

2013-02-13_20-18-44_472

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The adorable sweet notes that I received at work today!

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A very Happy Valentine’s Day to you if you are reading this!