Cairo has entered his active kitten phase... the rambunctious, frisky, pouncing, bounding phase with sneak attacks, and ridiculous maneuvers that demonstrate that he is also still goofy, awkward, cute, and sometimes too much! When he needs disciplining we've taken to calling Mister Washburn Foo, or Papa Foo. Papa Foo surveys the situation, and with a look in his keen eye you can tell he means to get a handle on things. He moves right in, pins his Boop, and bathes him. Cairo loves the chance to wrestle and battle, but it doesn't take long for him to realize he's cornered, and he submits to another bathing from Papa Washburn Foo.
Home sweet home, right from the entry. This corner changes with each season, with each new sprout that emerges in the big planter, with every this or that left on the table, or hanging from a nail. When I come home I see familiar things, like bird houses, and beach stones, seashells, and the onion tops that grew again, and I feel a sigh of bliss, because this is our Bird House, and those are our onions, our treasures and bric-a-brac. It's almost seven years since the Big Blue House became our own Bird House. Seven years settling in, making a home, trusting, learning, enjoying. I wish everyone, who desires it, could have their own corner to call home.
These morning glories... gorgeous. I'm gazing at this image and reflecting on everything it means to me... the forms and colors, the fragrances, and variety of flowers are always amazing, always a pleasure, that I welcome a chance to feel restored by even the smallest sampling of nature, that gardens are a gift that go beyond boundaries and our differences. I am recalling the great masses of morning glories that grew in a curtain around the place where Geoff and I were married. I am feeling some relief from the stress of politics, and car troubles, worries, and headaches, because the corners of our world have picket fences and flowers, beach walks, and chickens, challenges and solutions. Setbacks, and comforts.
And just to sustain the feeling of relief, to restore some levels of calm and hope, here are a few more corners of our world.
This was our first summer trip to the beach. We packed a picnic, came with a shade shelter, and towels. We built a fire, and hung out for hours. It was a good day, and a good reminder that we have this tremendous resource practically at our front door. I met a woman from Phoenix, visiting with her family, and she was so thrilled to be at the beach, so delighted to hear some of my impressions and suggestions for future visits, and she declared, "You must be here... everyday?" But, no. No, we don't go to the beach nearly that often, and I did feel a blush of embarrassment admitting that. I'm tempted to list all of the "important" reasons and excuses for why we don't go to the beach everyday, but that's not helpful, or necessary. Instead, I have been simply trying to go more often... however late the hour, or unprepared I feel, even if we cannot stay long, or I feel like there's one more thing I should do instead, and maybe especially, even if I feel like it'd be easier to just stay home... I have been making the trip to the beach.
Our corners of the world include chickens, goats, cats, and robots. We love our Bird House, the home we've made for our paints, and projects, our pie pans, books, and quilts. And even though I love to travel, relish a good road trip, home is where I want to be, to return to, to hideout. Yeah... I think I have become a bit more reclusive. Is it the outside world that sends me deeper into our retreat, or the voice inside, acknowledging that I am happy in a smaller, familiar corner?
Last week Alex suggested we go for a walk after dinner. And so I relented, and chose to head out, rather than hideout. It was a welcome escape from bad news, and anxious feelings about other, bigger plans in the works.
I cannot decide if it's a spiritual, new-age philosophy, or something scientifically proven, and factual... doesn't matter: The beach, with waves hitting the shore, spray in the air, the salt, all of those negative ions and their positive vibes, make a body feel better. Movement is good, company is good, the rhythm and sensory pleasures of the beach are all good. And after our time in Wisconsin, thanks to Laura and Gary, the hike at the waterfalls, the day on the lake, I think this natural joy can happen anywhere... anywhere we are in motion, away from routine, from the ties of our usual comforts, in a place where we find ourselves as part of the world, and not driving by it, using it, consuming it, but actually engaged, joining in the breath and rhythm of the wind, or water, the movement of birds, the trajectory of the sun, the rising of the moon, it's healing, uplifting, inspiring, good.
Of course, I am not always readily available in body and mind to acknowledge this brilliant insight, and so I stew in my worries, resist the tide, and forget to go out, to hold hens, smell flowers, walk barefoot across sand, wade along the lakeshore, water my fuchsias, book that camping trip! Alas! How much I miss. And... Hurrah! Because it's not too late to try again.
And the corners of our world increase, and move out, forward. And, please, however prepared I could be, or might have been, or ought to be... some changes are going to take more time, more faith, more daring, more beach walks, more deep breaths than others. It is a paradox of sorts, to feel as confident and awe-inspired by Max, by where Max has come from, by how much he has achieved, and how well he has prepared, and yet to feel myself so surprised, so emotionally unprepared to face this next part of the journey, his, mine, ours. I saw it coming, I did not see it coming. Life, you are tricky, like that.
Then we have this. Neo Cairo Nepenthes, our boop. Our fur baby. A corner of the world so distracting, and silly, so alive and amusing, that we cannot help but laugh out loud at the sight of him.
I am always in a mental battle with myself over how I would like to be, and how I am. I would like to be a domestic goddess, with fresh linens on every bed, and a dinner plan for every evening. I imagine a clear desk, clean car, groomed goats, flossed teeth, toned calves, and spotless shower walls, but nope. Right now, there is a very pretty bouquet on our mostly clean table cloth. The pantry is as immaculate as I can ever hope, and William did as much for the cabinet where we keep spices... I call these incidences miracles! I very recently cleaned and organized the critical components of the master bath, and my car is tidy, and finally getting some recall issues attended to. This may be as good as it gets.
Sure, the airbags, shift lever, and "SRS" unit are getting replaced, but there's also the matter of my dying ignition tumblers, the suspension and shocks, the disintegrating steering wheel. It seems my new car, my darling Jet Puff, somehow, got old. And I try not to panic, but nothing stays the same, fresh, new, tidy, organized. Much to my dismay, I find that housework bores the heck out of me, so that doesn't help. And the news is full of bad headlines, no matter what your politics are!
Flowers! Quick! Beach walks, too, even if it's late in the day, and we forget to bring towels. More time in nature, more laughter, cat posts, slow, deep breaths. And stepping back, like this, blogging, looking at these pictures, I am reminded that life may be tricky, but it's going to be okay. And sometimes, quite often actually, our lives are much better than okay. We have a very pretty bouquet of flowers on a mostly clean table cloth... and that's quite a lot to be thankful for, right there.
More walks, even if it's because my car is in the shop, and they're 'not sure what's wrong with your starter.' I gotta look up, and look out, and move forward.
While not technically in a corner, sleepy Neo Cairo has made himself a comfy little corner in the world... which happens to be in Geoff's geek corner of the living room. We are trying to keep track of all the little corners that kitty finds for himself, so we don't lose sight of the tiny guy.
This week, for the Picture a Day Project, I've decided to add a theme. The theme? Corners. I didn't come to it by any great process. It was simply that this morning I realized that of the four pictures I took, half of them were of the corner of a room. Then, while working on this post, I enjoyed thinking of the comforting idea of in someone's corner. Lately, I have been enjoying the support of friends who have been giving support and encouragement, who have been in my corner. There's also the backed into a corner idiom... not so pleasant, but it happens. If anyone wants to share their pictures, literally or figuratively, please show us your corners. And if you feel backed into a corner, maybe we can show you there's someone in your corner, ready to give encouragement.
This corner is so full of things and feelings I love, with stories to tell, I don't know where to begin! A list? Top to bottom? Left to right? Metaphorically? Anecdotally?
On the wall, framed, is a family recipe for oatmeal cookies. The oatmeal cookies. The ones I remember since I was a girl, that my mother made when I was five and we lived in Ramona, where there was a field of sheep across the street, and I'd follow my cousins to the creek to catch tadpoles, frogs, fish, and beetles. In Ramona, two blocks from Main Street, my mother's shop, the kindergarten on the other side of Main Street, my father's red truck in the dirt driveway. The same cookie recipe I followed when I won a blue ribbon in the sixth grade baking contest, that I would happily bake on demand for my brother Bill. It's perfectly worn, stained and tattered, a treasure.
Rowe Pottery, and Rockdale Union Stoneware, from twenty-nine years of visiting Wisconsin. I still remember my first visit, when Geoff proposed, and I met his family, when I fell even more in love with him, and with thoughts of building our lives together. The salt-glazed stoneware is beautiful, and practical, and I remember thinking, Someday I hope we have a nice collection, that there will be old and familiar pieces in our kitchen, that have served us, and made me happy with their pretty motifs, and forms. It was more about associating them with making traditions, memories, connections, than simply having a lot of pretty dishes. And now, all these years later, I enjoy the gratitude, the pleasure that I am reminded of because we have visited Wisconsin, because we have baked pies, and made dinners, and washed dishes, and fed families, and been together, happily. It's lovely to turn toward this corner and be so sweetly reminded of dreams that have come true. And while we visited Laura and Gary on our recent visit to Wisconsin, I saw how they displayed their pie pans, and admired it. I told Laura, how Alex and I had just been discussing that our own pie pans sat stacked on a shelf, where we couldn't appreciate the paintings on them. They are always either covered in good food, or put away. Back home, simply by fortune and chance, William brought out two plate displays, with birds (no surprise,) that had been long ago stashed away, out of sight! Now, like Laura and Gary, we can enjoy our pie pans, even when there is no pie!
The print of the boy reading in the kitchen has always felt like a familiar reminder of our family, of madres en cocinas of tortillas, of books, homeschooling, comforts and traditions across generations. It's a print my mother brought me from her travels. On top of the Hoosier cabinet is a painting done by my great-tía Thalia, and she painted the watermelon, too. She was my grandmother Eunice's sister-in-law, and she began painting much later in life. Her work brings back happy memories, spiced with scents, sights, and sounds of the painted walls of her old home in Mexico City, the African violets, her dolls, the philodendron that I recall as growing from the first floor, vining around the room, reaching the second floor by way of the stairwell. I think of open stall markets, ancient ruins, and late nights with cups of coffee, pan dulce. Alex's painting, a watercolor rabbit is there, too, and Maria's jar of lucky stars. Organically, naturally, a narrative is spoken here... something to do with art, with traditions, with generations connected by making, cooking, painting, creating. In my corner I have family, resources, memories, a history, and hopes for the future. No wonder I like seeing this space in our home.