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.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Summer, So Far

To begin with, summer has been busy and hot, and neither of those observations is very interesting, even if they are true. I've been inclined to declare this The Summer of Plagues, but given all that we've endured thus far, it seems a bad idea to tempt fate... we may not be out of the woods, yet. A lot has challenged and vexed us, and most recently it's been the broken pipe behind the failing refrigerator. It was only a teeny hole, in a tiny pipe, but the effects have been monumental. Picture: emptied cabinets, torn drywall, pulled up flooring, a refrigerator in the middle of the dining room (awaiting its diagnosis), and the general chaos and dispiriting consequences of time, and resources going into damage control. My saving grace is my sick and twisted sense of humor, so that I won't have to wait 5 years before I can look back and laugh at all of this. Our hall, kitchen and dining room look like a disaster area, complete with yellow caution/cuidado tape. It's hilarious.

So, yes... there have been many bumps and setbacks, and trials, and moments of utter bewilderment, but it would be a shame to surrender, to succumb to the dark side. So I sketch, and let my mind wander, and I make-believe, I look for friends, I fold laundry, count chickens, feed goats, take pictures, and buy seed packets.

I am working up the courage to (finally) enroll in an art class. Our community college offers a brilliant course that I've had occasion to pop in on. The stars seem to be aligning, all the children will be occupied, and I cannot think of any more excuses not to go back to school. The lure of being in this class is the chance to learn art techniques, but more than that... it's to be with those students that meet in that class. They're so supportive and friendly. There are all levels and styles represented, all ages, but they are each encouraging, affable, communicative, and sympathetic, and it gives the group an inviting, heartening feel.

What if this is The Summer of Art and Friends? Someone sent me a message on IG, sharing one of her works in progress, which felt like such a kind gesture of trust. It was an exchange that really boosted my spirits. And then, we were invited to visit JPL... NASA!! (Read that with a giddy squeal) And besides being utterly blown away with profound awe and respect for our country's achievements in science, technology, engineering, art, and math, I was emotionally overcome by the generosity and thoughtfulness of our friends, and their friends, and the kindnesses that come into our lives. I have a lot to reflect on here... and some of it is to remind myself to make the effort to be available, to offer more to the people I love, to the friends I admire, and appreciate, and need. It's a constant effort, and takes adjustments, I suppose, to balance our obligations and regular life challenges, with being a good friend, with reaching out, sending a note, making a call, showing up. I have been remiss, I think.

I've held back. I've tried, too hard, to hold up a lot of ideals, and responsibilities, and personal challenges. I've been too overwhelmed to be open, to come forward, and I have even forgotten how... how to be vulnerable, how to be seen. I've let my insecurities and sensitive inclinations close me off, and silence my story. It's not been a very healthy path to take. Part of me repeats this narrative about the people that have admonished me for saying too much, but that's dumb, too... those people aren't my friends, really, and I need to stop surrendering my time and thoughts and actions to their agendas and judgement. I want to take responsibility for what I think and believe, instead of trying to point my finger, or resign myself to living with excuses. Of course, it's not always easy to feel overcome by life and stress, and to dare myself to do more, be better. I have a lot to reflect on here. And some thank-you cards to write, and send.

Hello, Fred.

Yes, I think this can be The Summer of Art and Friends, or the The Summer of Begin, Again.

Hello, Maria, Yanina, Janice, B, Anne, Vera, Karen, Jola... and me.

Yanina, the evenings in your home always seem to be the ones that inspire my spirit. What a gifted host, and warm friend you are. And what a beautiful home you keep.

On the calendar... the appliance repairman will come give our refrigerator his prognosis. I don't even know what I am hoping for! A new refrigerator? An easy repair? Both have some appeal. And on the same day, we are getting our septic tank pumped! Oh boi... I really know how to make a day great. Lol.


The Summer of Art and Friends, The Summer of Begin, Again.

And daring myself to do more, be better.

Even when I feel like this...

I want to try and show up, face the world, and see the gifts, the possibilities, shoot for the stars, be a friend.