Musing with Max

Musing with Max

December 31, 2013


From all of us at Max's house, a happy, healthy and joyous New Year!

Should auld acquaintance be forgot, And never brought to mind? Should auld acquaintance be forgot, And auld lang syne! 

 Chorus: For auld lang syne, my dear, For auld lang syne. We'll tak a cup o' kindness yet, For auld lang syne. 

And surely ye'll be your pint stowp! And surely I'll be mine! And we'll tak a cup o' kindness yet, For auld lang syne. 

 We twa hae run about the braes, And pou'd the gowans fine; But we've wander'd mony a weary fit, Sin' auld lang syne. 

We twa hae paidl'd in the burn, Frae morning sun till dine; But seas between us braid hae roar'd Sin' auld lang syne. 

And there's a hand, my trusty fere! And gie's a hand o' thine! And we'll tak a right gude-willie waught, For auld lang syne. 

For auld lang syne, my dear, For auld lang syne. We'll tak a cup o' kindness yet, For auld lang syne. 

~Robert Burns~

December 27, 2013

Hound dog

When we first encountered Max at the South Orange Animal Shelter, where he went by the unfortunate name of Timothy, we weren't sure what he was, other than the dog Frank fell head over heels for in about a split second. We did notice he was spry and friendly and very alert. His crate was very very clean and we were told he was very particular about keeping his space clean, unlike another pup named Moby who we won't discuss. Anyway, he also loved treats and would sit there alertly and give his paw, right or left, sit and lie down on command and then vigorously wag his tail once he was given a treat. All he clearly wanted to do was make one happy. As we filled out the paperwork we asked what breed(s) he was and they told us he was a mix...probably a bit of beagle which explains his adorable face

and his penchant for little bit of barking.

Apparently they also like to nap quite a bit

so OK, maybe so. The coloring is a little off though and so is the size, so it made a lot of sense when they said he was also a Treeing Walker Coonhound, which if you know this dog almost describes him to a tee from his grazing way of eating to being very active

and sticking to one toy

to taking a nap under the covers.

 He even tries to climb up trees which is very cute and amusing until he starts eating bark and gagging but I guess he's going after the 'coon or in this case squirrel, squirrel, squirrel and trying to trap it for us to hunt. Like that's gonna happen. And then there are those times when instinct just takes over, the hackles go up from the back of his neck, down his back all the way to the tail and the nose hits the ground

and he pulls you around on the morning walk in relentless pursuit of something only he can smell because in the end

Happy New Year from nothing but a hound dog.

December 22, 2013


In a previous life, way before she was a wife and mother,

my mom was a concert pianist. From what I understand she was quite good. She taught my cousin how to play the piano when she was a little girl; the student surpassed the teacher and at the ripe old age of six she was a soloist on stage and making headlines all over Cuba. When I came along about 20 years later there was a grand piano in my house and she tried to teach me but unlike my cousin who was clearly a prodigy, I would have none of it. Regrets, I've had a few. I may have had absolutely no interest in playing it...well, I should say "playing it properly" since I was quite the expert on banging on the keys...I sure did enjoy listening. Her favorites were Chopin and Schubert and the great Cuban composer, Ernesto Lecuona. She stopped playing when we left Cuba and her piano was taken away. My classical music education however did not stop. My father

was an opera buff and a lover of classical music. One of the first things he bought after we arrived in this country was a record player then he slowly started to amass a quite impressive record collection of classical music and operas. I remember sitting on the couch which doubled as my brother's bed listening to this beautiful music with him as he would close his eyes and lean his head back to capture every note in all their glory. His favorite was probably Beethoven's pastoral and Rigoletto's La donna e mobile and Pagliacci but there really was no bias so I got to listen to quite an array of composers. When I started to take ballet lessons I did well because I could feel the music, I had been feeling it since day 1. At home we have a very eclectic music collection, back in the 80's Frank was a part-time DJ so there is dance music of all kinds, there's soul, funk, rock, Dean Martin, Bobby Darin, Tony Bennett, favorite movie soundtracks (my personal favorites, 2046 and Talk to Her) tons of jazz and a lot of classical including an entire Ernesto Lecuona collection which my mother bought me. So during this, the Christmas season

are there any more perfect compositions than Beethoven's Joy and Handel's Messiah? I think not. I have seen snippets of Messiah on and off throughout the years on PBS but have never seen it performed. So imagine my delight when I got a call from Frank on Monday which went something like this:

F: what are you doing on Thursday?
Me: Nothing that I know of, why?
F: Want to meet me at Lincoln Center at 7:30?

I don't have a bucket list...or at least I didn't before. Check.

Merry Christmas.

December 8, 2013

Waiting for snow

It is cold here today, somewhere in the mid 20'sF. The forecast says snow later today and you can feel it in the air; it is overcast and the sky is just that hint of pinky gray that says snow is coming. Frank is upstairs in his office working on some big project and Max is accompanying him,

meanwhile I'm sitting here looking for kid toys and books for Christmas gifts while listening to Dexter Gordon and waiting for that first snow of the season. Happy Winter Sunday.

November 29, 2013


Where did this month go? It seems as if just yesterday I was trying to figure out a Halloween costume. We went from light to dark, crisp Fall days to biting cold windy days, pumpkins to pines; all in a whirlwind of non-stop activity and I can't believe that Sunday will be December. So where did it go? It's been a tad hectic. For one, my company has won several awards as a fast growing leader in it's field and awards mean awards ceremonies and dinners. Considering the fact that I was the point person on all of these awards our CEO (my boss) wanted me to attend all of the ceremonies. An honor and frankly lots of fun, you get all dressed up, eat luscious food and drink for free, sit at a VIP table with other chosen ones from your company, get talked about, etc. Also, a little tiring, got to work, run home, get all dressed up, drive miles and miles to places in New Jersey you've never heard of, go to work, run home, get all dressed up, run into New York by train, car or whatever method you and others have devised, party after the party get up the next day got to work....get a cold, do it again. Whew! In addition we have Thanksgiving, the holiday of holidays, the one everybody loves but the retailers completely ignore since we go from Halloween to Christmas in a blink. Either way it is one special day and this one was extra special for me since my closest friend from my childhood and teenage years would be joining us and so would her two daughters who I had never met since we haven't seen each other in 30 years.

So before November 2013 is a mere memory I would like to give thanks,

for reunions,

Trader Joe's awesome brined turkeys

turkeys, running around the yard

Dorie Greenspan's  french apple cake

Smitten Kitchen's absolutely fabulous pumpkin and black bean soup

The New York Times Dining section delicious stuffing and an amazing butternut squash and red onion with tahini dressing side dish that just brought the house down

Max, for making everyone feel so welcome and loved

Frank, for being the perfect host considering there were four women to one of him and he just catered to us as if we were all special...and cleaning up. I think I'll keep him

My Mother, who showed me how to set a table, how to appreciate beautiful linens and instilled in me the special meaning of Thanksgiving.

...and all of you who come back and read and comment and share and make me laugh and make me cry and are my friends.

...and leftovers.

November 4, 2013

Goodbye October or Smashing Pumpkins

It isn't easy bidding goodbye to October, for one it's my birth month and therefore always been my favorite. Then to top it all off, for the most part, it is quite beautiful in a myriad of ways. October is when we first start to see pumpkins and squashes of all shapes colors and sizes, like this

so that we can make delicious pumpkin dishes, like this

Roasted sugar pumpkin soup

garnished with

roasted pumpkin seeds

but then suddenly once it gets close to Halloween they start to disappear. Why is that? The supermarket next door to my office has been out of pumpkins for three weeks, and what do they have instead????? little pines with red velvet bows. Don't know about you but I want all that Fall during Thanksgiving. Speaking of which, last night our temperatures dropped to 30F so Max and I took the time this weekend to look out

the back door

the front door

from the porch

and the kitchen window

to take in the last of the glowing season which depresses Max so he'll go take a nap.

Me, I'll just console myself in the kitchen with Forager’s Boeuf Bourguignon, one of the October dishes from 66 square feet

Hmmm, I feel so much better now. Bring on November.

Thanks Jane xoxo

October 27, 2013

In the Fall

At this time last year we were preparing for what would become one of the most devastating hurricanes in the history of this country...and in the Northeast no less. Sandy roared on shore and proceeded to destroy, leaving a disastrous mess behind the effects of which are still being felt. A week later we were hit with a massive Nor'easter which dumped a huge amount of snow on the remaining trees which still had their leaves on. We went from a hot humid Summer to the dead of Winter in an instant. We had no Autumn, the prettiest and usually shortest of seasons. So I think it is only fitting that this year, after a pretty crappy Summer; too hot, too cold; too humid; too dry; too wet; too many bugs ALL the time, we are experiencing what has got to be one of the best Fall seasons in a very long time. The temperature has cooled gradually as the days have grown shorter with crisp cool days and clear blue cloudless skies. The trees' changing colors have been slow and methodical inching towards peak putting on a spectacular show. I'm not sure my photographic skills can do it justice but I'll give it a shot.

Bob and Suzanne's red leaf maple:

The little tree in the middle of my flower bed:

My Japanese Maple:

South Mountain Reservation, Essex County, New Jersey:

The summer-flower has run to seed,
And yellow is the woodland bough;
And every leaf of bush and weed
Is tipt with autumn’s pencil now.

And I do love the varied hue,
And I do love the browning plain;
And I do love each scene to view,
That’s mark’d with beauties of her reign.

* excerpt from Autumn, by John Clare