Monday, May 04, 2009

Some Things Good

Sometimes I wonder how I could bring us to this place, Garage Mahal, our rental palace, when I do not like it here. Couldn't I see that the floors were more slippery than wet snow on black ice? Didn't I realize that the tropically landscaped yard was small, useless and had no drainage? Why didn't I suspect that the indoor plumbing would make me seriously appreciate outdoor plumbing? Funky stained carpet is a financial drain and health suspect. Door knobs fall off, and the plumber we called insisted he could tell the landlord that the garbage disposal is "#$%^&* than @#!^" There are some scary mold places and an untraceable odors. The medicine cabinet and the towel racks both expired.

Why did I bring this upon us? The only thing I was concerned about was the sponge painted wall in the "formal" dining room. I thought I could not live with that wall longer than 6 months, a year maximum. I thought living in a big rental palace with faux columns and a circular staircase would be an interesting and easy, temporary experience. I thought I would never, ever endure more than two years or as many as three years here. When Geoff said we might stay here for 2 or 3 years, I spontaneously burst in to tears and became physically nauseous. Seriously.

Seriously. I am very unhappy. And I apologize for revisiting this theme... this theme? It's not as though I chose to keep a blog just so I could complain about my personal suburban crisis, the trials of living in So Cal during a housing bubble. Chickenblog is approaching an anniversary, and in the beginning there was optimism and industry, deep thoughts and other musings and there were trials and tribulations too, but I did not feel then as I do now. I did not feel like living in my home was a daily struggle to cope and accept and resolve to believe that someday things would be better. Sigh.

Living here, in Garage Mahal, I find that I face an almost daily struggle to cope with being unhappy here, to accept that... it could be worse? And I resolve to move forward, seeking bright spots, possibilities, rays of light, rainbows, fluffy clouds, sparkly fountains of sugarplums.

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens,
bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens, brown paper packages,
children that sing, chickens, and tacos and road trips in a car, these are some of my favorite things by far...

Last night I deliberately went looking for some good things. Things in the garden that are worth appreciating, celebrating, photographing. Things that made me admit, even if reluctantly, that it's not so bad here. Of course I count the children. And I half count the chickens, but only half, because they do not belong here and their chicken ways have gone too far testing the limitations of tropical landscaping with poor drainage.

I was very happy about the roses at Garage Mahal, until the landlord hacked them to the nubs the first time they blossomed, so now I try not to think about them and sometimes a few good ones are allowed to bloom and then I look at them and sigh.


Would you believe we get blackberries here? Amazing. The first year Max and Maria gobbled a total of twelve over the course of a week. The second year there were none. Now there are a lot of white blossoms, so maybe...

Every now and then one of these blows by. We can hear the flame that heats up the air. I wonder if they can see us, waving. I wonder where they land, if they were cold when they slipped in to the clouds.

Maria reminds me of all kinds of good things, like popsicles, hugs, dancing, smelling flowers, holding chickens, coloring, new stickers, bath toys, cooking together, walks, the farmers' market, bringing the brothers home from school, Family Night and applesauce. Those are some good things.


Helen said...

Good things I see:
A cat contemplating chicken for lunch.

A bright pink bouganvilla tree.

A tall palm tree.

And could that be and old school big wheel?

Good things I can't see:

The smell of a lovely backyard rose.

Voices of a loving family as dinner is being prepared.

Bright minds with bright imaginations.

Ocean mist.

Love Aunt Carol

warren said...

Sorry for your funk...but that pic of your daughter which the chicken made me smile. You do have good stuff around you!

Chris said...

Natalie, your photos are beautiful, especially those of Maria!

I'm glad that you always manage to search for the good in the midst of the not-so-good!

One day, soon I hope, a dream home will be yours.


happy zombie said...

Natalie, I ache for you. I know of what you feel. I'm SO NOT SAYING "been there done that". I am saying I know of what you feel and one day it will change. It will be better. I promise.

Different house, different location, different horrors... but the same feelings. I promise you... it will change for the better. It will. Many extra X's and O's for ya! xoxoxom

nikkipolani said...

I read your list of things about garage mahal that you didn't see when you chose it... reminded me of my brother's list about the apt he moved into. But it's good to know what to look for next time. Good to know what you don't want. Good to know that you can still beauty and good things in the midst of it all. Hugs.

judy in ky said...

Why in the world would the landlord hack down the roses? I never liked having landlords either.
I feel for you too. I have lived in some places I hated.

I'm fairly happy where we are now, but I still have a list of things I would like in a future home... more privacy, more trees, more shade, bay windows, a wood-burning fireplace, a beach nearby.

I sincerely hope you find your dream home.

Rita said...

I think your picture of Maria holding the hen is precious and could win a prize. I kept going back to it "so real." I wish for you happier days and a place to live that you can call home. As for now you are doing a good job trying to accept what it is for the moment. Find something good in each day...soon this to will be behind you.
Many prayers.

campbellgirl said...

Ooooh Natalie, THAT rose - is it PEACE? It's very, very beautiful. Whatever it is called, I'd be taking cuttings and growing more!

Maria holding the chicken (Betty?) - that's a priceless picture - especially with Chango in the background, eyeing them up!

Can't really help you with your funk, except to say that all things pass, but then you know that already sweetie, don't you?

Love and hugs from your Kiwi friend.

Em said...

It's Ok, Natalie... you can feel sad, and dissapointed, and have your day or so of 'funk'... we'll still love you and love reading your blog. You're a wonderful Mom, a really great wife, and super-duper blogger. Thanks for sharing your ups and downs with the rest of us out here who many times feel the same ways, but can't put it into words as elloquently as you can. <3 Em

Lesley said...

Gorgeous pics! I so loved seeing the balloon — they were flying over our house the day I left Carmel Valley.

OIJOY PHOTO - the blog said...

I'm so sorry this is a tough time, hang in there Natalie. There is such a yearning in our hearts to have a place of our own, a home. I totally understand why you would feel the way you do.

Lily Boot said...

Oh I can so relate to your post - we lived in the tumbledown house for 4 years - toilets that leaked through the floor and into the front hallway, floorboards that didn't meet the walls letting in cold drafts and rodents, a bathroom that was colour of dark concrete. The only saving grace was the garden - a huge Moreton Bay fig and heaps of other trees - lots of opportunity for adventure and playing and heaps of privacy. Until Valentines Day 2008 when the landlord had them all cut to stumps despite my pleas and tears. It's hard to see past what's leering at you each day - hope you maintain the strength to do so. :-)

Felicia said...

Don't let the muggles get you down! Or the walls and floors either :)

tara said...

I have days (many) where I struggle to find anything worth seeing. It is worth it to look though. Maybe it is even imperitive. For a long time I had to keep a gratitute journal. I had to list 3 good things that happened each day and some days I had to leave blank. I certainly came to appreciate the little (maybe not so little) things.
The only thing about life that stays the same is that life never stays the same.

Tracy said...

Sweet, sorry I am that your home continues to cause unhappiness for you. But your home-life is rich...and I am glad you do find much happiness in the small things of daily life with your family. It is the small things that become the big things when we are unhappy and help see us through...And it is ok to feel unhappiness. The nice thing though is that happy does return in one form or another--as so elegantly presented here with these beautiful photos! Maria looks so grown up lately--a little young lady. Thinking of you and sending a happy smile your way :o) ((HUGS))

Anna Banana said...

We have infinity blackberry flowers too, way more than in any of our 16 years here, what's going on?? Thinking of you, Chica.
-Anna B

Julie said...

I could really feel your frustration and sadness with some of your circumstances. I admire your deciding to look for and focus on the things that are so good around you...Your photographs are beautiful, especially the last one. Gorgeous.

village mama said...

just 'hi'...I wish I were one of those people who KNOW, in their gut how to say 'just the right thing'. xo. xo. xo.

Laciefan said...

Sorry for your low. Living in socal is very isolating. I was surprised when I moved here at how distant people are, separated by cars, by suburban life, by the time they spend commuting that leaves no energy for socializing with friends. The fence/castle mentality makes one feel suspicious even of neighbors. Also, because of long commutes, often girlfriends you make or connect with through work, your husband's work, etc. often live so far away that getting together is impractical. You will feel energized by France. It is very kid-friendly and all the walking you do puts you in contact with people in a wonderful way.:)

Little Ant said...

I understand the frustration of being in a place you know is not your destiny. I cannot wait to move from the city to a more rural area with land. Someplace I can increase my livestock and garden. However, since I have about a year to wait until my son and daughter graduate I have determined to "bloom where I'm planted" so to speak. I am homesteading my small city lot as best I can. When I am down about not being where I want to be I take heart that I am getting past my learning curve in regards to chickens, gardens and the like. :)

tea time and roses said...

Hello Natalie!

I am so sorry for the low my dear and hope you are feeling much better. Little Maria is growing by leaps and bounds, and oh so beautiful! Wishing you a lovely Mother Day filled with joy!