Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Row By Row

The goats escaped. If I don't close the gate just right, the latch is just slippery enough for a heavy goat to push her way out, and that is what Tasha and Ada did. Lean in, ladies, and the world is yours for the taking! They probably had an hour or two before anyone noticed. Well, the hens noticed. And I am sure Cairo, watching from the porch, nose pressed against the screen... he certainly noticed. They weren't completely fatigued by the time we discovered them, and Tasha still had some mischief in her. You can see the chickens know that something yummy may come of Tasha's exploring. She and Ada know how to open the feed cans, but maybe they were too full of grass and tomato vines to dive into the treats. Plus it's hot, and somehow the drive to extend ourselves more than necessary is too much to bother with in this heavy, glaring weather. For once, it was easy to lure the goats back into their shelter, and the chickens followed suit.

The plumeria love the weather, and the hollyhocks, too. Chango likes to be in cool places, like stretched out on the kitchen floor, or where the breeze comes through the front screen. But Chango also loves company, and no matter how hot it gets, he will never miss the chance to curl up on someone's lap. He seems smaller and more frail every day, and none of us can stand to deny him any little comfort, so he has all the canned pumpkin and free laps his heart desires.

If it's silly of our cat to seek warm places to nap, it's perhaps even sillier for me to be crocheting in this climate. But there I go, row after row. I am driven by these colors and by the urge to try new stitches. I am making all of this up as I go. And even though I am determined to add new stitches, I am too lazy to look up tutorials, or finally learn how to read crochet patterns. My experiment may yield something worthwhile, but just like when I cook, I can't be sure I'll be able to replicate the recipe I have concocted. And the shawl is getting big, and warm. It won't be any use until December, maybe February. Will winter ever come? And rain. Out West, we all crave some rain. I try not to think about Fall, and rain, about cold mornings, and baking, and because I try not to think of these, I am nearly obsessed with anticipation, and frankly, that is silly as well.

The Mess draws closer and closer to recovery. In fact, we have already started using the refrigerator, again. It is on double secret probation and we hope we've repaired all leaks and damages. But there is still painting and caulking to do. Ugh. But! We have ice, and we have that marvelous honeymoon period where I only want prettiness and order inside the refrigerator. I love the feeling I get, post-crisis, when I am overcome with relief and gratitude and a seemingly boundless determination to be good, and efficient, prudently organized and not unlike a domestic goddess of order and serenity. Yes, all of that just from having a refrigerator making ice, and nearly back in the recess where it belongs. So close. I hope this is the longest running honeymoon ever.

Did you know you can prove something by contradiction? Max taught us how. Well, he taught me how. Geoff knew, and Maria caught on very quickly. I was slow to catch on, but Max is infinitely patient. This is all from his summer course, Mathematical Reasoning. Before he finishes summer school, Maria will begin her freshman year of high school, and I will start school next week! (I did it! I applied and in a day or two, I will enroll in that art class I've had my eye on. Do I need a lunch pail? New shoes? A haircut? I may be getting as excited as I am nervous...) It's funny, and contrary: I am so eager to rush into fall, into cool nights and overcast days, but then again, everything moves so quickly, and soon I may lament the days that have passed too swiftly.

Maria translated from Latin (thank you Google) the message on our board... Regard with wonder that which the smallest of creatures display. And I think we may add time. I want to be in wonder of time, of each row, and season, to be present in this day.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

August, Bit by Bit

Here are bits of August... and only the first five days of this month. This hot month. Let's just get that stated and over with. I won't linger on the subject of heat, of humidity. I won't drone on about how some evenings even the merciful breeze has left us. It's hot here, and hotter other places, and don't know of many that are enjoying this. Thankfully, we also have shade, and breezier days, and the fans help, and (begrudgingly, but also so very thankfully) I let Geoff run the a.c. unit in our bedroom... it is a contentious point, because I have a list of grievances against a.c., and wish to singlehandedly contribute to saving the world, but also I am useless without sleep. (What is an empathic, bleeding-hearted liberal to do?)

The good bits of August also include Max's birthday, and the friends that joined us in a spontaneous celebration. Basically I tracked down a cake, and we sang, and ate cake beneath the shade of the trees lining our street.

Funny month August... it feels like the heart and start of real summer, what with the weather, and our town being full of tourists, the heady smell of sunblock and surf, and yet back-to-school is rearing it's needy head, and so there are forms to fill, supplies to replenish, orientation dates to mark. Both Max and Maria are starting new schools, so there are new hoops to jump through, new cultures, new routines to anticipate. And! Max signed up for a summer course... Mathematical Reasoning. So, August suggests a freedom, a dash across sandy shores, and catching fireflies, merriment, abandon and glee, but really it's also knocking on the door, with an urgent message... Get ready. It's business time.

I miss ice cubes that magically appear from a tall appliance that stands tucked away in our kitchen. So... where we stand with The Mess... the tiles are set, and grouted, and next comes drywall, then we can put the refrigerator back in place (It's not repaired, but if I understand correctly, I believe we are going to vigilantly monitor the situation and adjust our sails as needed.) Also, I have a dread suspicion about the state of the inside of our disabled refrigerator... we were convinced the refrigerator was a tosser, and when we emptied and moved it, then wrapped it in caution tape and warned people not to stand too near it, because it is a teetering 4 ton monolith, we left out a crucial step: We did not clean it out. I cannot bring myself to type the words I would use to describe what I suspect we are going to discover. In the pantry we still have shelves to reinstall, more painting to do, and in the hall, all of our assorted treasures and holiday dishes, vases, knick-knacks etc need to be cleaned and settled back into their spaces. By now, after seeing them lined on the floor since July, I'm less inclined to see them as treasures and more as contenders for a yard sale. We are cursed with blessings.

On Instagram I post pretty pictures; not to create a false depiction of my life, not to suggest that I have superior domestic skills, and enjoy only curated days, blithely unaware of global warming, dust bunnies, or my unbrushed hair. The pretty pictures are to help me cope, to give me hope, to keep my focus on those many blessings we enjoy. Yes, the point of view I share is skewed and highlights the shinier moments, but believe me... I am the second picture of Cairo, not the wide-eyed floof nugget of cuteness.

If you are struggling, too, if life is complicated, hot, heavy, messy, or a bit too much... I understand. I get it. Come, sit next to me. Let's talk, or let's just dangle our feet in some cool water, and exchange funny videos of pets. There's still three more weeks of August to go, and it may get hotter, messier, and we need to see each other through this. I think the pretty pictures, small breaks, really long breaks, and silly cats help.

Friday, August 03, 2018

Home Days

When I took this picture, I had to put down the bundle of dirty clothes I was carrying, because I needed to capture this moment... this moment when I saw a space clean, safe, pretty, holding tokens of things that I love, things that make me smile, like chamomile blossoms, art, and toys, favorite books, summer light. And I distinctly recall, and feel again, the joy of this space, this freedom, and I wished, I wish everyone could have their space, a place, or a feeling of acceptance, of comfort, a respite from worry, a beacon of light, hope, with room for art, and favorite books.

And then, of course, there are other parts of home! And rather than show you rotted floor boards, and water logged dry wall, let's just take a moment to read Cairo's expression. Oh, kitty! He's claimed the case of socket wrenches on the dining table, in the midst of our plumbing and appliance catastrophe. (Crisis. Catastrophe. Fiasco. Disaster? Disruption? The right nomenclature is so so very important.) Cairo, with his look of disapproval, will stand in for the very worst pictures of The Mess.

What we have here is a very large, 15 year old(-ish) refrigerator with a freezer door that leaks like a sieve. We are going to fix that.

And we are going to fix the broken pipe, the studs, the drywall, the flooring, the pantry, the hall cupboards, all of it. All hands on deck, and Geoff at the helm. It wasn't what we had in mind for our evenings, weekends, and summer days, but at least we have some tools and skills, and so this is just part of our home days.

Fortunately, there is more to our home days than damage control and trips to the hardware store.

And things are steadily progressing. And, just look at all of those baked beans! I could never completely despair when I have four cans of baked beans in my pantry.

I also have favorite books, and an IG friend invited me to play a game... for 7 days I post a picture of a book, without explaining or reviewing it. I was tickled to be included. And it's been interesting to consider the books I want to share. It makes me wonder about my tastes, interests, motivations, where I take my inspiration.

And there's another introspective and engaging activity I am involved in... a swap. Who remembers swaps? They were so plentiful and frequent in the olden days of blogging. I found this one, celebrating Beatrix Potter, at Bobby Pin Bandit. Now I am in it... creating inspiration and mood boards, and preparing to make something to delight a recipient in the gift exchange. I know her favorite colors, and interests, I have seen her inspiration board. Actually, I am enjoying seeing everyone's ideas, and creations. I feel immersed in a stream of whimsy and happiness.

And someone knows my favorite colors, and maybe they've seen this board I made, with help from Pinterest (featuring works and inspiration from Beatrix Potter herself, Alicia Paulson, Maggie Rudy, Cherished Vintage, Molly Brett, Jean Baptiste Monge, and others I had trouble identifying.) My tastes and interests are wildly eclectic. It's nice to think a package will come for me, in this fun swap. But I am already enjoying participating. Like with the book game, it's giving me a chance to ponder my interests, and think about the things that make me feel joyful, amused, taken in. When I spent more time with Pinterest I enjoyed collecting images, and organizing them into boards... it's like curating your own magazine, or building a massive scrapbook. I am still working out my understanding of what I enjoy about this... and trying to refute the idea in my head that it's only indulgent and superficial. Thoughts, thoughts, thoughts... no end of opinions and thoughts. Sometimes it's just nice to go with a feeling, especially a good one.

Somewhere in this house is a little figurine, Hunca Munca. Where can she be? I have this book about Beatrix Potter, which I admit I thought would be a bit more of a narrative, fanciful, romantic tome... it's actually rather academic and... what's the word? Well, it's a bit unvaried, straight to the facts and dates. I guess, when I started it I was in a mood for something more emotional, and descriptive. Good grief... this is why I don't write book reviews. I sound a bit dull, myself. It's a good, factual book, and actually a brilliant resource for getting to know a woman far more complex and significant than her mice and bunnies might suggest.

Company's coming! Grant has been teaching in Japan, and he's home, traveling on business, with students. We warned him about the upheaval and messes here, but it was no obstacle to an evening of Bird House fun.

Goats, chickens, swimming, talking story, eating tacos and salsa, roasting marshmallows, and learning about s'mores... home is a very good place when friends come by.

And now... it's a new day. Another home day. We are so fortunate. We have so much to celebrate.