Thursday, October 30, 2014

Until the street lights come on

Back in what seems like the proverbial olden days now, we were allowed to play outside after dinner until the street lights came on, which signalled the day's end and time to come inside. This weekend marks the end of Daylight Savings Time, which means those street lights are going to come on an hour earlier.

It's nearing time for A Butler's Manor to have its bath, get into jammies, and go to bed.

For us, "bath" means making the necessary upgrades or repairs, refreshes, and general maintenance that we don't want to do while guests are in residence trying to relax. (Believe me, we've tried to do it before with guests in residence. Among other things, it's a mighty slow process when your available workday is roughly 11 AM to 3 PM.)  We know that someone wielding a power sander on the shingles outside the house or a chain saw on errant branches doesn't make for a very Zen-like experience to someone inside.


The gardeners among you might appreciate Chris's wheelbarrow full of plant trim as he goes about cutting back those plants whose foliage doesn't overwinter well, and pulling the bulbs from the beds, cleaning and drying them for their winter storage. Others might find the fallen leaves and dried seed heads as architecturally interesting as I do. But it's time to shut down the sprinkler system, put the winter blanket on the pool, take down the umbrellas, and bring in the patio furniture.

We'll be taking care of this sort of business beginning next week, November 3 through November 20, 

Join us for A Butler's Manor's last hurrah of 2014 when we reopen for the last ten days of the month of November. Kick off the holiday shopping season and support Small Business Saturday (November 29) by shopping Southampton's eclectic little shops. You'll find the elves (a.k.a. the Village Parks Department) will have installed and decorated the parade of Christmas trees that line Main Street and Job's Lane. and created the wonderland of sparkling white lights that outline the deciduous trees and buildings. The village's annual Parade of Lights and Tree Lighting will be held about 5:00 PM at Agawam Park, complete with carolers and refreshments afterwards. A good, crisp late autumn chill is almost guaranteed to be the weather forecast; a perfect time to wrap a scarf around your neck as you wander hand in hand with someone you love. Come on back to A Butler's Manor where we'll have a wood fire burning in the fireplace in the living room. 

Then it's time for beddy-byes, as we close on December 1, 2014 for our winter sabbatical.

It's been a great year. Thank you to all!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Planting ahead

PeeGee Hydrangea in full Fall glory!
It's been so lovely to feel Fall come in, to take my early morning walk at o'dark thirty increasingly when it IS still dark and need a jacket and even -- yikes! -- gloves. And then there's today, when at 6:00 AM a light cloud cover increased the temperature 20 degrees over the previous day: 65 vs. 46. No jacket on my walk. And for the next couple of days, maybe my last chance to wear flip flops.

Perfect weather for starting a new garden.

As I've explained to nearly everyone who knows us, Chris is the gardener and my only contribution is to point and suggest. To that end, we have been discussing for a few months now how to do a long border garden opposite the pool.

This past weekend began the digging and clearing of miles of ivy. We've been the beneficiary of a load of small buddleia (butterfly bushes) which will form anchors in the garden. Existing Annabelle and lacecap hydrangeas, a smoke bush, and a backdrop of forsythia will remain. To this we plan to add more groups of rudbeckia (black eyed Susans), grasses great and small, and a host of cannas, dahlias, and roses in shades of yellows and oranges, with touches of deep blue. Here's the space.


(sigh.) We've got a looooong way to go!

On a different note: I've written before about times when it seemed all the guests were from the United Kingdom, or Australia, or otherwise international. Well, this week, the tables turn -- all of our guests are from, or have ties to, Southern California. A foursome travelling from Arizona met while at Chapman College (now Chapman University) in the City of Orange, my home town. Another guest now lives in Northern California but grew up in Orange too...only a couple of miles from me. Another couple arrive today from San Clemente, on the southern tip of Orange County. And another guest lived in Huntington Beach and La Jolla for years and years. So this will be the week of the "non-accent" that folks from the East Coast still swear is recognizable as West Coast, ha! (What accent, dude?)

A recent guest from Australia shot this photo of us against our autumn mantle. I should have dressed to match the season better...

Speaking of the season, as weather cools, our tastes begin to crave the comfort food associated with fall and winter. Now is the time for the scent of cinnamon and cloves and ginger, and so I am making and serving breads, muffins, french toasts and pancakes with ingredients such as pumpkin, apples, pears. cranberries, and egg nog. This truly is my favorite season of the year.

Happy Fall!
Quote of the day: Work is love made visible. And if you can’t work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work and sit at the gates of the temple and take alms of the people who work with joy. ---Kahlil Gibran