Monday, July 16, 2007

Deep Thoughts and Other Randomness

He might be even less interested in driving than I was at his age, but he's learning anyway. Don't confuse lack of interest with lack of care. He studied diligently and with appropriate regard, and he earned his learning permit. Now he studies my driving, asks about braking distances and parking methods. During our road trip he read the driver's handbook aloud and so we all got lessons and refreshers on the rules of the road. He may be sporting a sly grin in this picture, but I am certain William will prove to be a good and responsible driver. Yesterday the whole family spent the evening in an empty lot, while William got his first behind the wheel experience. Do you know what passes quickly? The time between first toddler steps and the day your baby is in a mini van, driving parking lot laps.

We have one child learning how to operate heavy machinery and another relishing the joy of art. Maria, like her brothers, draws every day. I know this pattern well... the piles of papers, the dull pencils, the ink stained fingers. She sings while she draws, like Alex did when he was 2. She fills her pages, describing every figure and feature, like William did. She is methodical like Max. I love her faces, with eyes and noses. I love that she gives people shoes and broad smiles. And I love this pudgy nosed kitty that she made just the other day: "Kitty. Big-big eyes, Mommy. See?"

I must have been feeling just a touch of quilt pride to set up this shot. Me. Posing with the doll quilt before I sent it away for keeps. If the recipient ever posts about it, then my flood gates will open and I'll pour forth all the little details that have been spinning in my head. I think handmade crafts are always full of more than what can be seen, and since this particular project has had me writhing with self-doubt, I am eager to point out its merits. And in the midst of my minor pity party, I saw something unexpected...

Ah. Shouldn't I drop my worries, and just revel in the joy of this little one, and her 3 loving brothers? Uh-huh... I think so. I'm so glad she peeked her little face in this picture. She's such a precious source of happiness and amusement. She shows a lot of interest in my sewing. She watches me and holds fabric scraps together. She calls it making fabric... (In the interest of historic accuracy, I feel compelled to mention that she can't pronounce f-a-b-r-i-c. It comes out fagg0t. I always repeat the correct pronunciation and she always smiles and says with more emphasis, "Ya, fagg0t." She also has unique pronunciations for shirt, frog and fork. William and I hide our laughter. Alex is earnestly working on her elocution.) She was quite certain that the Mariposa quilt was going to her collection, and she would inquire about its progress, while I was quilting it. She asked, "It's pokey?" She's careful about the pins and needles. When it was finished she clapped her hands, then opened her arms to embrace the quilt and wrap her bear in it.

This is not our house, but I could live here.

I could live lots of places, which I think may be my coping method... coping with renting and feeling disconnected. This is not famine, war or global warming. I like to emphasize my gratitude and the good things going on, but it feels disingenuous to leave out the truth about how low I have been feeling. Despite evidence to the contrary, I am not fairing very well as a tenant. Lately it has left me rather despondent and pitiful. Oh, let's not mince words: I hate renting. I hate the columns that grace the foyer. I hate the wall paper in the bathrooms, and green faux marble face of the gaping mouth fireplace in our bedroom. I hate the algae green rag painted wall in the family room, and the world's shiniest, most slippery tiled floors in the kitchen, foyer and dining area. I hate that our landlord comes unannounced with excuses for going in the garage and working the yard. I hate that he over-waters his tropical plants and makes us pay for it. I hate that there's no room for me to garden.

Ehh... it all sounds so minor and whiney when I see the feelings and sentiments written down, but trust me it's defeating. After 4 years of renting 2 places, after 23 other moves and after making plans and setting goals and hoping... well, I feel defeated and frustrated and disconnected, and like I could just go wherever, which recently, I have begun to realize is what I do. Rather than unpack and settle in, I plan road trips. Rather than organize the garage, I join quilt swaps and make yo-yos. Rather than starting another filing system, I volunteered at the school. I keep finding excuses to turn away from this house and the work it needs to be a proud home.

We have fun. We see new places and discover wonderful corners to admire and pass time in.

Other places are so much nicer than home. Other blogs, and bookstores, campgrounds, quilt shops, playgrounds, museums... little escapes from reality. I don't know how much longer we'll live at Garage Mahal. I don't know where we'll go next. I do know that I need to find the resolve or will, or gumption or something to accept these walls and this life, the good and the frustrating, and to be a better person, mom, homemaker.

I could live here, in this wonderful loft bookstore, with the cozy, inviting reading corner. I love its rough wood floors and the high ceilings, the natural light that seeps in to the room and makes soft shadows amongst the shelves and tables. It is a place that projects care and warmth, effort and regard... I could live here.


  1. Hi there,
    We're back. I'm thinking of you, just wanted you to know. I really believe that some day you'll understand why you needed to be at Garage Mahal right now. All in good time, my pretty, all in good time....

  2. You frighten me with talk of how fast time goes from first steps to driving a car. I already feel that since of out of control speed when it comes to Amira's growing up. You just confirm it... darn it.

    Maria's drawings are wonderful. I'm so taken with them. And you made me laugh out loud with her pronunciation of fabric. :)

    The bookstore looks marvelous -- no wonder you made it home for a bit. And as far as your home goes -- it will come and it's going to be so joyful. I'm going to celebrate with you when that day comes! In the meantime, you have no idea how much I delight in hearing about the beauty, creativity, love and sheer amount of life embracing that you and your loved ones do. You inspire me!

  3. Wow, your doll quilt is beautiful. It turned out very nicely. Your use of color is very very pretty. I'm working on putting a few red and yellow pieces together (my cathedral windows is one of these projects) but this quilt is very sweet and adorable. Your partner will adore it I'm sure!

  4. Thank you for sharing so much of your thoughts, your feelings, your family today...Your children are beautiful, and so nice follow as they grown into themselves--through art, driving! How quickly the time does pass, but what a blessing it all is. You have every reason to want to stand proudly with that quilt--it's a stunner! Sometimes we put so much of our heart and soul into to something, it's hard to part with. But sometimes that parting with something we make is good, because we get to share it with others. Year of renting--that is tough. Maybe think of the Garage Mahal as a sort of comfortable waiting room until you fine HOME. Make it as home as you can in the mention, give it a sense of heartfelt home spirit, even if it's only for a time. Your yourelf give off such light! Turning our souls open to a place have have a great way of helping us see where we are, who we are, and where we'd like to go. How I love to visit you here...I learn so much! ((HUGS))

  5. Natalie- I was single for a long time between husbands and lived in apartments and I understand how you feel- some landlords are so territorial that they never let you feel like you belong "in their house" or that paint colors are their choices alone.I missed living in my own home and now, after being married to Fred for almost 4 years, I feel somewhat settled in my gypsy heart. You know that the love and happiness you have with your family is more important than the walls that surround you and you will always have those memories of your travels and favorite places years from now to enjoy. I love to read about your adventures. I love sharing your world. There are very few blogs that I read as often as yours. I know that I have a lot on my Blog but they are like candies in a jar- pretty to look at but no substance. Your blog is a mirror for who you are. Kind, patient, caring, giving, nurturing, strong, loving. Someday you will have your own house and all your decorating nightmares will be over. So for now just keep on going and quilting and stay busy and ignore that other crap- it doesn't matter- its the people in a home that do. I think your blog is a great place to voice that stuff- get it out and go on- I love the driving lesson and the baby talking- they are so awesome- nice kids you're growing- now, do you want to see your chicken apron or do you want to be surprised?

  6. Ugh - I can tell it was past my bedtime when I wrote my comment. I hate typos... bleah. Oh well, you knew what I meant. ;)

  7. Support. I am blessed, there's no doubt about that. Thank you for your kind thoughts and hugs. I came home from errands and found that the three violets I managed to shelter from the landlord's crew were raked under, but I also found your words and concern and it bolstered me. I will be returning to these comments in times of need. Thank you so much.

    Kim... oh... the suspense is crazy... you could surprise me, but if you post pictures and do one of your fabulous write-ups, then I would be as thrilled when it arrives, because I will get to hold and touch and embrace your generous creation. I win either way, so you choose. Sweet torture!

  8. Natalie, I love all the photos of your children and the details you notice in their make up, their individuality. I'm amazed they don't seem at all fazed by your picture-taking :-) Interesting to hear how you cope with renting - I hope that situation changes for you soon.

  9. Awww re: what passes quickly. <3 *Hug* for the renting frustrations. And woohoo for any place with lots of books! :)


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