cozy fall: a homecoming

Fall never arrived in Florida. I wanted it to, what with the magazines declaring it time for militant greens enmeshed in gold, gauzy textures, draping and harder edges, lit up with ox blood red lips and sumptuous olive eyes, not to mention the cozy knits that come winter have lost their cozy and found themselves on the bulk-up bore list. In Boca, I wanted to transition into earth tones and cashmere wraps, but although it was time, it most certainly was not the place. New York is the place.

Today I’m snuggled up on my sofa, staring out beyond my back porch at a willow tree and pines, all green still, needles on. But soon the deck will be littered with curly leaves and it will be time for mulling spices and lipsticks named “bitten nutmeg.” With Young’s Farm a minute’s drive away, the walnut honey bars will lay heavy on their waxy paper, hurried into our toasty home. What the picture doesn’t tell you is that this rental home of ours does not run on propane but on electric. Electric heat is nightmarish. This much, I’ve learned. This and that I cannot ever again live in a home without a garbage disposal. Once you’ve had one and become accustomed to dumping, say, the dabs of cereal and milk from the bottom of a bowl into the disposal and must switch to straining the cereal out with your fcuking hand, so the milk goes down the drain, and the cereal head to a compost bin or garbage bag… well, it’s work I’d prefer not to have.

Speaking of homes, we’ve decided to rent our house to a Texas football legend. So we’re no longer paying electricity, propane, lawn upkeep, etc. on a home we rarely see. Phil was just back in Austin, packing things up, bringing home Texas BBQ. We seriously love that town, especially the people. And the food, fine.

Now, speaking of people… lately I’ve been struck by the depths of love between people. It seems to be birthday month (obviously, it’s my month!), and as such, I’ve witnessed gifts given and parties thrown. And all I can really say is this: if you love someone, there’s one sure and clear route to showing them: making them a montage. Whether it’s a Straight Up and Thirty scrapbook surprise, created behind your back, with friends conspiring, or a video montage complete with interviews from loved ones across the country and world, it’s the best way to show love. It’s also the most time consuming, selfless, activities one can plan. But it is the truest form of love I’ve ever seen given, handed to a recipient. And it lasts forever. It’s the most exquisite gift you can give. What’s more is that it really says something about the person who has chosen to make this gift, beyond their love of the recipient. It says a little something about what they value. Family, friends, making memories. If they care enough to capture it all, to document it, to add a soundtrack… it shows you how full of life, what truly wonderful people they are… just for the giving. I’ve been busy with the move (yes, still!), and the kids’ new school, and the homework for them, which is basically for me, since I must supervise, and the gym, not to mention TRYING AND FAILING to write, so I wasn’t able to make a video for my dad on his 66th birthday, yesterday. It doesn’t mean I love him any less, obviously, but it was a reminder that I need to rearrange some of my priorities for the upcoming holiday seasons.

I’ve received gifts like this three times. Once from Phil, once from my high school best friend who no longer speaks to me – I have no idea why to this day, but I’m sure some random anonymous people will tell me exactly why in the comments! – and once an extraordinarily touching and completely unexpected video from the girls of my Girl Scout Troop in Austin, TX.

This past weekend, we attended a surprise 40th birthday party, and when I saw the video she made for her husband, I thought, “I want to be closer to her, to them, because anyone who can make a video like that has her focus on exactly the right things.” This September, I’m declaring, as the month to savor. To delight in the smaller moments and side roads, to heat your cider, take out your video camera, and to do something will all the digital photos and videos you’ve already shot. Have something to show for it. Then get on with the give.



  1. You are the queen of putting lipstick on a pig. Let’s call your color ‘autumn denial’.

    You say: “Speaking of homes, we’ve decided to rent our house to a Texas football legend”

    Reality: Decided? How about- we couldn’t sell our house and it was a financial drain, so we rented it. No need to say legend.

    As for your best friend no longer speaking to you. I don’t know her or you, but I’ll play along and make a guess. It was not one thing, just a long time of you annoying her with something (being self centered, needy, copying her, whatever) and she had enough and cut it off. She should have confronted you, but really that would be awful for both of you.

    Lastly, why no photo credits?

    1. Anon – Why do you read this blog if you have such an obvious dislike for Stephanie? Move on and do something more productive with your life than posting bitter comments.

    2. Touche! I don’t know how this chick has any friends or snagged a husband. Well said!

    3. Since she has to rent the house because nobody is buying it, it’s so obnoxious but typically Stephanie to throw it that a LEGEND is renting it. Who cares?

      1. Anon, no need to refrain. I share your opinion but don’t have the time and wherewithall to write.

  2. Choices. We had offers on the house, accepted, then realized we needed to put on a new roof and made the decision to rent rather than keep it on the market to wait again. That was a choice, a decision, as stated. And photo credits, what to myself? Bike, taken by Stephanie Klein. Hike taken by Anon.

  3. One of my very best high school friends recently quit speaking to me too, for no apparent reason. I would venture to guess that proximity, either physical or emotional/mental distance, had a lot to do with it for both of us.

    Congrats on renting the Texas house. If selling wasn’t an option, why let it sit there and drain your pockets? Besides, it seems that you have a special place in your heart for Austin. Keeping the house is a way to keep a tie to a place you love, and good excuse to go back from time to time.

  4. I adore your blog, but I must respectfully disagree with this post. There is no such thing as a universal most thoughtful gift. The best gift is something that the recipient will adore, cherish, and remember for years to come.

    This can come in many different forms. For you, it is a montage. But that isn’t necessarily true for everybody. Personally, I love photography in general but despise photographs of myself. I also am never sure what to do with videos and scrapbooks, they are something I would look at once and then put on a shelf.

    Like you often say, there are 31 flavors for a reason. This is your flavor. It might not be a delicious flavor for others, but the tone of the post suggests this is the universal best gift.

  5. Anon,

    Go suck a pig! Too bad a house didn’t fall you from one of the tornados in NY last weekend. It would have been a well deserved fate. You are just hateful miserable troll. Just get over yourself. I can’t stand reading your negativity and it’s time you moved on.

    Sorry Stephanie for being soooooo crazy but he/she deserves it. Glad you were able to rent your house to someone you chose and that you are enjoying your move to NY, Hope you enjoy the crisp air this week and I look forward to some great autum dessert recipes.



      1. Author

        May I just say, I dedicated a page in my fifth grade diary to declare my love to Peter Cetera? I did… and I still like that song for the Karate cheese that it is.

  6. Anon, you are sooooo negative. I can’t believe that your negative attitude only surfaces in reference to this blog. I can’t imagine how the ones that love you (and I do hope their are many) react when you call them on everything. Or, do you call them on everything? Is it just this blog that gets your goat? What about the old saying, “live and let live?” Your energy is not healthy. Also, if you believe your comments and somehow justified, why don’t you have the balls to put your name on your posts? Peace to you and enjoy your hike.

  7. I’m with you. I step outside when I let the dogs out at 6 am, and for the last week or so the morning air has had that chill to it. Heaven. Standing in front of my closet I remind myself it will get up in the 80s later in the day, but for one blissful moment I consider nubby sweaters. Enormous scarves. Boots.

    This year in North Carolina this year we’ve had awful, awful drought. My trees have all survived but there’s a side effect; the leaves on my maples began to turn toward pinks and reds a few weeks ago, a branch here, a branch there. I pick up the ones that fall and bring them inside to savor. I know I should be saddened and worried by these leaves, but my inner eight year old just wants to shop for school supplies.

  8. Montages are great and I really want to make one for my parents’ upcoming anniversary. Your post is a reminder to gear into action and “get on with the give” on that front.

    This year I started making animated GIFs for loved one’s birthdays – and boy, talk about time consuming but the recipients love them. It all started with the one I made for my 4 year old nephew: and by now it’s become a sort of self-imposed tradition.

    On another topic, a blogger friend (benign, chill online friendshhip and back and forth) totally dumped me recently for no reason … not that this compares to an old best friend doing same but it hurts on a smaller scale.

    1. Author

      As for the benign blogger “fallout,” is it possible that the blogger is simply too busy right now, that it’s not personal? I know I once stopped following a reader on twitter, and she was hurt, even though it wasn’t personal… I got spam.

    2. I confess I have dumped an online and real life friend in my time. Mostly due to my insecurities/hangups/morals. And my inability to be completely open and honest not wanting to hurt ones feelings while trying to protect my own.

  9. Well, this Texas football fanatic is dying to know who the football legend is!

    Agree on “fall” in FLA – the absolute worst part of living in Tampa. I’d get the magazines and die a little inside. Yes, it was nice that the humidity lifted and the days were maybe five degrees cooler, but I longed for crispness, sweaters, and leaves. It was always a hoot, though, seeing the long-time residents bust out the parkas when the temprature dipped below 65.

  10. Where is Three Teen’s Mom…she would be able to wave her wand and make Anon disappear! Stephanie, brilliant on the take-down…again, your ease of dealing with this person is tops. Their clock-work commenting is proof that you really get their Bloomies in a knot!

  11. Author

    The high school friend stopped speaking to me IN high school. It’s not that we’ve been friends since high school and then poof! of all my closest friends now, I can’t imagine my life without them in it… and at least one of these, no two, wait more, I actually met on book tour!

  12. What I’ve always told the darlings is if you give attention to the mean kids, it fuels their fire and makes them meaner. The best revenge is to ignore them, and let their negativity lie out there, alone and ridiculous, until it crawls away. Hard to do because we always feel that one last ‘zinger’ will win the hand…but it never does. Mean people suck. Period.

    I loved this post with the curly leaves and autumnal thrum. I’m looking outside my window now at the tapestry of the changing leaves on the mountains and feeling the world shift again. Mom goes in for yet another major surgery tomorrow…this time we’re all scared of the outcome. One thing that the last 6 1/2 months of ‘death by hip replacement’ has taught my little village is that death comes. Change happens. None of us gets out of this alive. But if we can provide a safe, loving, nurturing nest – we can at least live graciously and eventually die graciously.

    The 3 teens have all moved into their respective college dorms leaving my home oddly silent. Food stays in the fridge. Counters stay neat and tidy. No interesting piles of bike gear/skis/tents/books/make-up mysteriously appear. The book I’m writing is twisting its way out of my soul and onto the screen. It’s a time of great change, for certain. But all will be well. As my youngest daughter says all the time ‘keep calm and carry on’.

    1. I hope your mom is doing well, TTM : ) I can’t wait to read your book…you are brave to step out and do what you’re doing! Wish I had the same hutspah!

  13. I totally get the garbage disposal thing. Lived without one for five years…never again unless I move to a foreign country.

    I love fall. It’s my favorite season. The summer gets so hot for me, I feel like I just wilt. Fall feels energizing to me. Cooler nights, crisp days. I love how you put this is the time to savor. I savor the fall light, the crispness, how things feel fresh and there are so many colors to look at. Unfortunately, due to drought, fall is coming fast and furious here, trees are dropping their leaves already.

    I already made two apple pies from the tree in our backyard, think I will make another this weekend. Happy Fall to you!

  14. Stephanie hurry and show us what you have done to the new house

    Anon go suck on some bull nuts and Choke ! ugg

    1. Glenda, what you wrote is far worse than anything I have said to Stephanie, so I guess I should say the trite shit to you that her followers say:

      Get a life
      Suck on it and die
      What you wrote says more about you than me
      You are jealous
      Don’t feed the troll
      Stephanie rejected you ( or in your case, you are desparate to be friends with Stephanie)

      1. Good comeback! You are stating your opinion about Stephanie but these minions get way nastier in attacking you. They need a life to be so defensive of someone they don’t know. Stephanie is a snob and I’m sure she wouldn’t give these people the time of day.

  15. Stephanie, along the lines of gift giving. My boyfriend would like a gun for his birthday/Christmas. I got him a gun for Christmas last year because that’s what he wanted. He has 3 now, and uses them rarely (to go shoot clay pigeons, but one is for home defense). I just don’t want to get one for him plus I’m not overly crazy about the idea of gun ownership. He already has 3, when does it end? Is gift giving just about what the recipient wants? I as the giver want it to be more personal & thoughtful. I know we’ll have many more holidays for gift giving but it just irks me that he is so adamant about another gun. What do you think?

    1. Pethaps it’s my anti-gun attitude, but if you’re not comfortable giving your boyfriend ANOTHER gun, the answer is simple: Don’t. There are plenty of other choices that would make him happy & I’m sure you’ll find one that will be more acceptable to you.

    2. Not that you asked me…but here’s my two cents. Yes – if you want the recipient to be delighted with what you are giving, then gift giving IS about what the recipient wants if he has made it clear. End of story. My ex-husband would typically chose a gift for me that was not even in the ballpark of what he knew I liked or wanted and present it with a comment like “I wanted you to have what I want you to have, if I don’t like what you want then I don’t want to give it to you.”

      My husband collects guitars. He has about 16 of them now. He’s not even a very good player, he just likes guitars. Now, I get that he can’t hurt anyone with them, but when an occasion comes along I will happily get him another guitar even tho I am tired of looking at them everywhere and I don’t get the attraction – cause it’s his thing, it makes him happy. Just like he gets that even though I have a ton of jewelry, when occasions roll around, hell yes, more jewelry thrills me.

      So, the bigger question is, if you are uncomfortable with guns and gun ownership, and your boyfriend really loves them, is this someone you want to commit to? Will having guns in the house be something that ever stops making you uncomfortable?

  16. Just curious as I have bought and sold one home in the past and am currently in the process of purchasing one late-19th century home and getting an early 20th-century home ready to sell…if someone made an offer to buy your Austin home, but you discovered you needed to replace the roof (though I don’t quite get this – did you not know before someone made an offer on your house that you needed to replace the roof?), couldn’t you just give concessions to the Buyer (i.e., lower the purchase price) so you could sell and have the Buyer deal with the roof issue? Now, you’re landlords and what if there’s a storm and the roof springs a leak on your tenant…you still have to deal with the roof issue, except now from a distance. Considering the Austin-area real estate market, wouldn’t you just want to sell when you had the chance?

  17. Stephanie why not do us all a favor and just DELETE Anon’s comments? His/Her comments are NOT WORTHY!

  18. …I’m going to just toss another thought/opinion out there…holding on to the house in Austin, perhaps because you hope to one day return to Austin as a lifestyle for your family, because it was such a good place to raise hops into Beers :)

  19. Anon,

    I don’t understand why you are reading someone’s blog when you clearly do not like Stephanie or her actions. Why waste your time dumping on her when you could be doing other things?

  20. Please keep Anon’s comments. I can’t be the only secret fan. Anon has become such a fixture of this blog that I would be disappointed to not see Anon’s posts. Like it or not, Anon slaps some hard realities into Stephanie’s posts. Is it possible to be a Stephanie fan and still see the merits in Anon’s comments? I think so.

    I fell in love with Stephanie Klein’s writing in 2005 and have since shared many of her blog entries and saved her writings for future reference. How I adored single SK. I highly doubt I would be a fan had I stumbled upon the blog post-marriage. However, because of the past investment I remain a loyal reader (for better or worse). I don’t share the complete sentiment of Anon, but I must say, I sometimes inwardly cheer her/him on for not being afraid to hold up some possible harsh realities. Also, kudos to Stephanie for not being afraid to publish them. Every interesting protagonist needs a worthy antagonist right? ;)

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