January 4, 2010

A New Year, a New Decade, and a New Life Plan

It's been snowing here in New England for, like.....five days!

This pot of the alpine Narcissus from Morocco, N. romieuxii ssp. cantabricus is full of bulbs and blooms this year. Started from seed, this pot is very impressive, maybe because I have been saving the seeds and resowing them back into the same pot? Not all of the seeds, so some of them. The rest go into new pots every spring. I am still impressed at how easy these rare forms of Narcissus are to grow in a cool or cold greenhouse. Any reader of this blog knows that I am addicted to the winter blooming Narcissus, but hey, I am.

Not only am I a plant geek, I am a planning geek too. Especially during this time of New Years resolutions. My friend Wendi inspired me a decade ago, to make a list that is more meaningful than a mere resolution list. To create a list that is even grander than a bucket list, although, in many ways, these lists, which we exchange annually via email to inspire each other, end up reading very much like 'Bucket Lists". In their most basic form, the lists run down both short term goals, and long term ones - life long ones, as if one of us might actually cross of many of these life long bucket list items all within a single year.

Sometimes the simple is fine. Regular Paperwhite Narcissus appeals to even the plant nerd's like us, after all, we all started there! I do love the smell, yet I hate cat pee....what's up with that? Although, I do think certain Fir tree's smell more like cat pee.

This year, I have yet to write mine, for after two weeks off from work ( did you see all of my posts?), I ended up doing virtually nothing. Nothing, not even a load of laundry. I don't know why this happened, but the Holidays are, for many of us, a time that we both anticipate, and resent. Emotionally, it all weighs in heavy one way or another. Since I have purchased my family home, I host the entire family for Christmas Eve dinner, which being of Lithuanian heritage, runs long and late into the night. But this year, it was difficult to simply get 'into' the season. We usually have a tall tree, 16 feet of dropping needles and yards of twinkle lights, but that didn't happen, not did any outdoor lights, or wreaths. I made two bay laurel wreaths, and was lucky to drag out some sad, faux garlands to make the house look somewhat festive ( no one really notices, anyway - only I know if I didn't make the perfect Martha Stewart hand made sweeps of holly roping and massive wreathes of rare evergreens, still, I wanted to). But in the end, I didn't feel guilty about it, and that's growth, I guess. Time moves on.

In this time of my personal life transition,( more about that later this month), comes new goals that seem as if they should have more profound goals. And I do have them. The idea isn't as much about crossing things off of these lists, for these lists are rather impressively unattainable ( well, mine are, I mean, it's not like I list: Make a million dollars in one year", but I do want to visit every World Herritage SIte before a certain date). But I think it's more about the idea of making a list, the process of making it, that makes it an effective tool for not just moving forward, but in turning the knob of life value, to the high position.

I realized this week, how easy it is to plop ones self infront of a TV and laptop, and for two weeks, just let time drift by, accomplishing nothing. I am certain there are folks who do this every day, it's so easy, and wasteful, yet, I did it and even though I sat there thinking about going to the gym, or runnng to the market, or perhaps crossing one of the tiny list items off of my vacation task list ( like caulk the bathroom tile, which has been sitting there for 2 years unfinished), I just couldn't get my ass off of the sofa. Yeah, I had a super crazy busy December at work, and I needed to decompress, since rarely do I even have a single hour of down time, but two weeks of mind numbing nothingness coming to easy? I can only hope retirement wouldn't be this way.

Of course, in this down time, the dogs just joined in. Margaret curled up next to me under a throw, as if she was not a wire hair crazy bitch terrier, but a fluffy white poodle. Fergus curled up in his bed with his back pushed up against the steaming radiator. Outside, it snowed, it seemed, non-stop, well, at least for the past 5 days it has. Design may gave something to do with it, for with a 59 inches flat screen, a two box set of vintage Julia Child videos, the snow falling, the fire going endlessly, it all just added up to a sleepy trance that included various seed catalogs, web sites for rare plants ( I was impressed at how Plant Delight's Nursery switched their 2009 catalog over to their 2010 catalog exactly at midnight on Dec 31's, yes, I noticed that). In the end, I feel like a did waste time, but I am strangely OK with it. This morning, it's back to the routine, for now. Up at 5:00, out the door at 7:00, commute for an hour, then work, and focus. THose dreams of "We should have a farm in Vermont so that we can raise heirloom veggies and vintage goats and make artisianal cheeses and pottery" go away in a "poof' of airline tickets to the LA office, airport shuttles, how to tie a four hand tie and the constant beeping of the iPhone, with dinners and lunches being scheduled for the week, to "catch up" on unfinished December issues. Now, it's a world of triple-booked meetings, Power point decks, emails and budget reviews. Now, that stack of heirloom seed catalogs next to my sofa that I was putting off looking at, seems desirable again. Perhaps next weekend, or the one after that ( no wait, I'm in LA that weekend, then Vegas for the Home Electronics Show) ugh. Vermont, Vermont, Vermont......

Making Parisian Macaroons on the New Year

New Year's Day brought my friend Jess and her friend Liz from Brooklyn, who convinced me to attempt whipping up a batch of Parisian Macarons. It was fun, and we may make more next weekend in different flavors and colors. When Jess and I we're in Tokyo we saw how popular these were in the train stations, and now they are so trendy in NYC and London, yet, so easy to make. We make almond vanilla pink ones, filled with a vanilla pistachio swiss merengue buttercream. Yum.

Jess pipes pink butter cream on the macarons, because, during this Holiday break, we didn't eat enough butter ( or cream).


  1. Hi Matt,

    I have been a lurker (follower) on your blog for a while now.
    I have always been fascinated at all that you do and all that you share. I am sure I have barely been exposed to a 10th of it all.

    But this morning, as I am in the same boat as you are, I find myself amused at your post and completely in tune with everything you said.

    I am a magazine editor and rarey take time off. And last week I did exactly what you did. Seed catalogs, cooking, crochet in front of a tv with movies playing that i mindlessly watched.

    So you have inspired me to write my own list....and have made me feel like my own 'zoning out' last week was worth it. (besides I planted and played in the dirt like mad and that renewed my soul)

    Take care!
    ps. happy new year!

  2. Hello? Is that Matt? This is Vermont calling.....We just wanted to let you know we've got a farm here just for you! Come up and make your cheese, we need more cheese makers!! Hope to see you soon in these lovely and green (now white) mountains.

  3. Matt:
    There is something about the winter holidays that breeds procrastination in many of us - myself included. I have been hunkered down in front of the computer compiling blog posts with a frenzy, albeit in an effort to precipitate the list of things that I should be working on. This is the year that I want to join the GWA, and start designing greeting cards, and creating video segments for the blog... and....and...and!

    I thoroughly enjoy your writing and look forward to many more inspired moments..... sometimes you just need to say screw it all and fall into a momentary stupor! At least that's the excuse I'm sticking to! Happy New Year!

  4. Wow, those little Morrocan narcissus look like the yellow bulbocodiums that are so sweet.

    Yes, Narcissus does have a kind of ammonia-like aroma, too many in too close a space. I usually keep mine in an unheated laundry room, the fragrance isn't so heady where it's cool.

  5. These life shifts are a part of growth. And the doing nothing thing seems to be a part of the "I can do it all" but the flip side of this is "I don't want to do it all" and then you do nothing......I'm going Buddhist starting the day after Thanksgiving until January 2nd from here on out.

    Wishing you an interesting journey in 2010. May it be filled with creativity and enlightenment!!!!

  6. Hi Matt,

    Sounds like your holiday decorations equaled mine, but from your photos, I think you still did better!

    That N. romieuxii ssp. cantabricus is beautiful. I've added some of the winter blooming Narcissus as a result of your blog and magazine. So you can add a check mark next to your list of "expanding others knowledge of the plant world".


  7. Grower Jess12:02 PM

    Alpine narcissus!! They're great looking. I too am a plant geek, I am a grower for a major plant/seed company that I won't mention but you have in a nearby post. Want to share some seed? I might have something to peak your interest.

  8. It will be great to watch Pink, i have bought tickets from
    http://ticketfront.com/event/Pink-tickets looking forward to it.


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