Chatter Creek Cottage: Six Bunnies for Dinner!

IMG_20160327_091026559_HDREaster was never a big holiday when I was growing up, most likely because my mother raised me and she was not fond of her religion. Quite different from my father’s family, my grandmother was a devout Catholic. I was spared Catholic school and a religious upbringing though Catholic school most likely would have made me smarter and a religious upbringing most likely would have made me less tolerant of any religion. I have nothing against religion, mind you, and I respect the history of religion but I prefer to probe history rather than to just accept what the ancients tell me is the truth of it. I like to come to my own decisions about who is the true Lord and what exactly is ‘the Lord’ and can there be more than one God? I think all religions serve a purpose and there isn’t a Church I don’t like, I find them beautiful. But bottom line, when one is in touch with their spirituality they must seek their own truth about it and acknowledge their own experience of discovering the ‘soul of being’.

Well, enough about the meanings and consequences of Jesus’ last supper and his resurrection, let’s have dinner. Religious holidays are such great excuses for a dinner party, dinner parties on a grand scale. One can put all kinds of meaning into eating and celebrating with friends and family. I like the social ritual of dining, of conversing. Laughter is never far when friends get together and we are breaking bread together, but behind the laughter and the wine there is the spirit of caring, the joy of sharing. There is something deeply religious to me about what we human beings have created for ourselves on Earth. I could go to a beautiful house and get down on my knees and whisper ‘thank you’ for unity and for the goodness of ‘us.’


Chatter Creek Cottage: Begin Spring!

IMG_20160313_105943393Do you see it, do you see it, do you see it? Two little lavender flowers in the ground reaching up to say hello? Could it be spring? I’m looking everywhere and I find them all over, little green buds, little flowers struggling to grow. I can’t wait for this season to burst open so that I can run around with dirt and plant Azaleas, hydrangeas, Yellow Twill Dogwood. I’m sniffing around like crazy but I don’t smell it yet. We’re planting lavender all over the place so we’ll smell it soon. Spring smells subtler than summer but nonetheless, intoxicating. We’re painting our window boxes and dreaming about geraniums and zinnias. Can’t wait until the grass is really green and there are Robins landing on the fence and bunnies making their way across the yard. I can’t wait until Chatter Creek is a Kaleidoscope of blues and greens, yellows and purples. Red leaves against the white fence will startle me, White roses dancing in the rain will thrill me.

Ah, spring. Shelley said it well…Oh, wind, if winter comes, can spring be far behind? It’s all poetry. It’s all there to become poetry. I am a lover of words, gardens and music. I am adrift in the yearning for beauty and art, landscapes that touch my soul. Don’t you know, I am brought to my knees by nature.

I await by the running water of my lovely Chatter Creek Cottage and I look for hints of it, I dream of short sleeves and cut off jeans and lazy days tasting a crisp white wine while the spring sun teases me and friends talk of barbecues and porch parties. It all beckons me. Oh, my God, bring it on; bring on that surge of life!



Chatter Creek: An Arresting Image

IMG_20160312_095535382This is the house on the other side of the road. I love looking at it, it peeps behind the living room window like something tired and old but with a beauty that only a mysterious old relic can have. It looks on history, on change and seems to feel the shock of progress, the affront of cars, the need for cement roads that were once dirt and dust and carried the sound of horse’s hooves the way evening carries footsteps.

I love still images, somehow reminding me of people who hide behind their silences and their sadness, revealing all too clearly the losses of their life. But my house across the road doesn’t dwell on that, it barely even sighs. Age has brought it a daunting respect that I can’t help giving it. It looks on, somehow reminding me that time passes and everything around us transforms, lingers momentarily before our eyes and moves on.

Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing I don’t know. I wrote a book called Annabel Horton, Lost Witch of Salem because the history that I can’t remember being a part of fascinates me. Maybe I was there; maybe I’m an old soul like my house across the road. Annabel Horton crosses time to fight the evil she doesn’t understand. She lives in the eighteenth century and in the nineteenth century but she yearns for the simplicity of much earlier times, despite the fact they strung up witches in 1693.

Sometimes, when I look at the changes I’ve seen I feel the arrogance of the 21st century and yearn for shoulder pads, Cole Porter, a 1956 Eldorado and Norman Rockwell, but like my arresting image I can do nothing but look on.


Chatter Creek Cottage: A Haunting

IMG_20160226_202847907_HDRNo ghosts yet that I’m aware of, I’m referring to the beautifully haunting painting on the wall. I got it many, many years ago in an antique store on Broadway, some obscure little hole in the wall on the upper west side of Manhattan The store had the most distasteful odor of too many cats, but cats in an antique store sort of go together, like dogs in a backyard.

The painting comes from the Victorian era and doesn’t smell at all like too many cats, it’s very delicate, the frame is oh, so fragile but the painting, if you can see it well, speaks to me. I never look at that painting without hearing the artist’s voice, without feeling the vision at that precise moment of time that the artist captured, and captured so magically. The painting is unsigned so I can’t put a face to the communication, though it’s there. The artist and I are communicating and I am moved, made more serene. I’m aware of some mystery in our world of which we know nothing. There’s sadness to it because the moment of time is gone, its been encapsulated. And yet, there is more than sorrow to death even though I can’t speak its language – yet. I don’t know that what is missing isn’t found anew in art, as something transformed and even more fulfilling.

I am fascinated by landscapes and portraits. My grandfather was a painter but I don’t have any of his paintings and maybe he was as good as the painting on my wall in Chatter Creek Cottage. I have a book coming out that is actually a trilogy, The Fourniers, Book one (When Hannah Played Ragtime), Book two (Glamor Girl) and Book three (At the End of a Whisper). The books are about three generations of women and how they were influenced by the times in which they lived. In the second book (Glamor Girl) one of the characters runs an art and antique scam in which false appraisals puts a lot of money in someone’s pocket when the work is resold. I also write about an upscale organization of art thieves in my book, Marybeth, Hollister & Jane and interestingly, in the book I’m presently writing, Dead to Me, there is a haunting landscape by the artist Johnson Heade which is stolen by a neighbor.

So I love art and I’m fascinated by it and the whole concept of time that art and photography captures. Finding a beautiful landscape to put up on the wall of Chatter Creek Cottage makes me happy, as if I’m giving Chatter Creek more secrets to whisper when the lights go down and the creek runs like a wayward child, and the souls of the gifted are still.