Friday, November 05, 2021

The Moon and The Stars and The Fog

Good morning! Hello. Probably you can't see me, because of this fog. I'm over here, at my desk, in a dark office, feeling a million miles away. It was foggy yesterday, too. We weren't sure we were going to get Maria to school on time, we were driving so slow, cautiously. And everything is as damp as if it rained. I suggested to Geoff that we could ride our bicycles this morning, and he said let's wait until midday, when the sun is out. Nah! My reluctance to ride under the noon sun is in direct contrast with his disinclination to ride in cold, damp weather. We'll probably ride in the late afternoon, when it's both sunny and cooler. In the meantime, I will blog a little, make our bed, get to the market, bring Maria home, and think about the holidays.
Maybe, I will also sit with Maria, again, as she finishes up her college applications. It's no secret that I am happy to be invited to sit beside her as she fills these forms out. It gets a bit nostalgic, as she recalls classes she's had, and the extracurricular activities she's been involved in. Other times it's a tangle of timelines, and we search our brains (and this blog) for clues about which came first? and where were we when? Can you see? Our cat? Feynman was helping, too.
When I did the big clean-up, I came across the apron I was embroidering on so much last winter. At some point, I had to set it aside, and I sort of forgot all about it. Funny thing, I started to feel that it was silly to put so much work into an article of clothing meant for keeping clean, when I'd be mortified to get it messed up. And furthermore, it needs more embroidery, because the blank spaces are out of balance with the stitched ones. But. But, how can I seroiusly add more effort to something whose purpose is already confounding?
The Moon and Sun, the planets... I loved being immersed in this mindful yet fanciful flight. Every element has meaning, a story, and the stitches told it all in open-ended, inventive interpretations, designs.
And on the pocket, this kitty, hanging his washing. I think this is the last bit I stitched up, before the long break. So. I wonder if I will add something to the other pocket. And what about the middle, which is like a wide open field? An empty field that looks glaring for it's vacancy.
Well, we have the weather for embroidering, so that's nice. And I can be sure I will have company. These last few days, Feynman has elected himself Human Companion, and he settles in on top of anyone, or anything, warm and accomodating.
Yesterday, I was drawing at my table on the balcony, when I heard a Mmmmew. I looked up and spied the tips of two gray ears, and I replied, Feynman. He answered by raising his head and peering down at me. I called his name, again, adding Who's my most handsome kitty?
Here is my handsome kitty, soaking up my affections.

He came in to hear more, then moved over to the bed for a warmer, more accomodating snuggle. I'm sure he's somewhere cozy, now. I might join him, keep him company, and think about the holidays. I have been at this for a few days, and I am enjoying it very much, the ideas, and dates, the plans, and hopes. It's a good foggy morning pastime, planning our activities, imagining what we will do during winter break, anticipating the visits with family, the traditions we have, and new things we might include.

Post Script

Not a day goes by when I don't think of my beloved Grandmother, our Grandma Jones. She is on my shoulder, over my heart, in my head. She guides me, pulls me forward, coaxes me to rally, informs my resolve, inspires me to tap into my courage, see the beauty. It's constant... loving her, missing her, replaying all of the moments, and instances of goodness that I had the honor and pleasure of enjoying with her, because of her. I was aware that the anniversary of her passing was imminent. It does not feel any easier to accept, any less sad. She lived a long life, that was good. I still feel a bit riled, kind of greedy, unreasonable, when it's suggested that a good, long life is all we can ask for, that it's a consolation. I just want her. I still just want her.

I finished this post, and my phone pinged, a message from my Mom. It was four years ago, today, she reminded me. And even though I knew the anniversary was coming up, I wasn't thinking of it, yet, not when I was blogging. I read the sweet message from my Mom, then looked back at my computer screen, thinking, I didn't mention Eunice, or this day, its significance, and then I looked closer and saw something... something I am aware of everyday. She's there, even when I am not deliberating writing about her, or focused on her, she is here. I posted the yellow flowers that I had had this pressing compulsion to photograph minutes ago, when coming home from dropping off Maria. Yellow flowers are Eunice, they belong to Grandmother. That's always how I see it. Cats, and owls and embroidery, aprons, and making everyday things beautiful... all of those are Eunice, to me. And that's her quilt on our bed, where the kitty is warm and comfortable. And thinking of holidays, of family gathering, and feeling sentimental, nostalgic, yet cheered by the prospect of pretty things, and spiritual joy, courage and pleasure in the face of challenges, resolve... those are her, too. Those plans and hopes, and memories, are dearer, and more cherished, because Eunice is on my shoulder, a part of my heart, in my thoughts. And Mommy, I love you. Weren't we the most fortunate? I am thinking of you, and feeling sad, as well as blessed. I know you will find pretty things in nature, in memories, and find her there, too.

Wednesday, November 03, 2021

There is Good In Store

I let yesterday be gentle. For one thing, I've cleaned so much, I am afraid to touch anything, start any new projects. Whenever I've made big progress on restoring our home to appreciable levels of order, I have an impulse to seal off rooms, check into a hotel, and put the house on the market. I haven't had to move in a long time, but it's still the instinct, action, I am most familiar with! Probably the two "busiest" things I committed to included regularly stepping into the bathroom to enjoy the progress Mike is making on installing the green tile around the tub, and the other was taking a nap. After the nap, I wanted to be outside, walking or pedaling, feeling the cold day on my face, imagining we live on the edge of the woods, near a meadow. So, I decided to forage... to ride my bicycle to that special corner where it almost is like living near the woods, at the edge of meadow, where I can find pinecones. There are two pinecone spots that I can ride to, and the prospect of collecting pinecones really cheers me up. It's become a tradition, I realize, and I really love having traditions.

Recently, a favorite blogger posted a small bit about blogging falling away, adding "If you have a blog, please comment here so I can check it out!" I jumped on that, and fortunately, so did some other active bloggers. I wonder if Alicia has caught on that she's made so many of us happy to find each other?

Here we are, with already one month behind us of my three favorite months. I am determined to see the good in store, to be both present and forward thinking... whatever it takes so that I feel like I am making the most of these days, filling up on soothing scents, invigorarting jaunts outdoors, gathering memories, making fun out of simple activities, making plans for more. I don't love Christmas Day, well I do, but what I love love are all of the days in anticipation, the outings, the enterprise, projects, quiet reflection, the traditions, and gatherings. I love the music, the sparkle, the days when it rains, or the wind blows. I love preparing menus and everyone buzzing around the kitchen to make favorite dishes, especially when we can have company, and feast together.

People love to debate about when these things should begin, or when they should not. I really don't care to see Christmas merchandise in July, and I will never rush past Thanksgiving, otherwise, I vote for taking joy where you will, where you can. Play those Carols, roll out the garlands, put up some lights! If red and green are your jolly, then haul it out! Isn't there little enough jubilation and exuberance as it is? I see no reason to quash anyone's happy. We didn't put much out for Halloween, this year, and William has already packed most of it up. I am ordering our tree today, because the school does such a nice fundraiser for that. It will be delivered the first Friday in December. I changed out playlists on my phone, and put in some new ones, with just a few wintry tunes. I bought pine scented soaps, and they're on the cupboard in our bathroom. They make me feel like we have a little spa or B & B upstairs. I was thinking of these small steps for a while now, maybe since last January, honestly. And then I saw a lovely post from another blogger, and she mentioned her Tiny Secret Festive Season, the small things she does that make her happy, and I think the idea is brilliant... slowly add in small, simple things that cheer you. Things that gently usher in the new season. I am happy with just the prospect of creating my own Tiny Secret Festive Season... thank you, Nicole.
This morning a favorite Instagram account, Harlem Love Birds, posted in her stories about stepping outside for a minute. Quiana got her inspiration from MJ Kocovski, at There's Good In Store. Virtually, I joined Quiana, and for one minute I walked outside, stood in silence, looked up at the sky, contemplating how amazing life is. It was so good, I took another minute, before feeding chickens and goats. Oh, and Tasha is sleeping... boy, did she give me a scare, because she was so sound! I don't know why it is, but even simple things slip from my memory, and when someone suggests a thing, even as obvious as "look at the sky" I feel like I am reset, recentered. Oh, yes, I reflect, those things really help, and I should do that, go there. It's good. I need the reminders... nature is healing, the sky fills me with wonders, I can take slow, deep breaths, the birds are singing, there is good in store. Thank you, friends, near and far, for inspiring me, for connecting, and sharing.

Tuesday, November 02, 2021


I am pretty sure life has a lesson for me, and I am pretty sure I've faced this lesson before. The recurring test revolves around housework, shame, exposure, and being far too concerned about what other people think. I'd love to write a poetic essay on this lesson, reflecting my humility, and essential truths about time management, how physical spaces can reflect internal struggles, about unhealed trauma being irrepressible, no matter how much I shut my eyes to it. And! Naturally, I would be remiss if I did not include a nod to COVID, lockdowns, and the insular, safe-space I hid in, where I could shirk both healing and recovering from the domestic perils and collateral damages of not being able, nor willing, to keep things in order.

The house has been simultaneously in a state of upheaval, change, and stagnant neglect.

It has become pressingly necessary to both keep the good upheaval and changes moving forward, and to shake up the rest: Clean the dang house. A lot.

I was trying to do more in one week than I have done in three years, and it was really really really hard. Hard and impractical.

I got my ass kicked.

I kicked some ass.

Some of it may have been me, kicking my own ass.

Four minutes before the architect arrived to walk through the whole house and measure things, and get familiar with what we have and where we are going, I started crying uncontrollably, and having a basic panic attack. 99.99% of my life I have been embarrassed, shamed, or strong enough to know damn well when it's ok to cry or get emotional and that's almost always never, and this was not the time, nor place (according to internalized beliefs and expectations, which I have come to realize don't hold up against trauma that has been suppressed and masked and cast aside to be dealt with later.)

I acted bravely, and out of character: I called a friend. Actually, I texted, which was easier to do than speaking aloud. I reached out, I bore my heart, my weakness, and vulnerability. This counterintuitive move made a world of difference... another lesson for me: Ask for help. My friend came through, and I didn't even have time to read her response, but she came through, and even just knowing I was in a safe (virtual/cyber) space, gave me enough relief, to rally, and compose myself, and see a time beyond this moment when it was going to be ok.

The house is way cleaner. I am way tired. And the architect didn't inspect half as thoroughly as I dreaded. And if I have any sense, and want any life lessons to stick I should look into getting back into physical, and emotional, therapies, I should keep moving forward... ride my bicycle, make salsas, call friends (or text them), take risks, take naps, learn and relearn, and question my beliefs, challenge the internalized messages that guide my instincts and actions, push myself to do more, and still, let go of the idea that I am not enough.

I don't want to publish this, but accountability and vulnerabilty are in the lessons, too. And when other people share their truths, I often find it remarkably encouraging, comforting.

Let's change the subject.

I have been making design cards... with Layout, which is an app that works with Instagram, I can create a photo collage. I used it to put pictures of different elements together so we can have a first impression of ideas for the hall bathroom. Since I was ordering things online, it was trickier to get a feel for how all of the different parts would come together, and this has been the most accessible way for me to sort of compose a look. The green tiles surround the white tub. The black and white tiles go on the floor, and this is the blue locker we are putting in there for storage. Last step... find a paint to bring it all together. I chose one of these. Don't worry, I am not asking anyone to choose, or taking a poll. The deed is done. In fact, today the bath wall is getting tiled. It looks amazing! I love it! By the end of the week, I should have a before and after post, in case anyone wants to see what finally happened.

Good things...
After the cats got their clean bills of health, we were treated to this rare and totally precious scene: All three kitties in harmonious communion. And at one point, Feynman sat up and turned to clean Sakamoto. I hope this is a trend. I hope we have a cozy winter, and the kitties never quibble, hiss, bite, grapple, tussle, nor fracas, ever again.
Our Halloween was low key. It comes as a surprise, because I am accostumed to us doing more. Lots more. And I had passing moments of thinking well, this is disappointing, or panicky I am doing this badly. But really, it was nice. Low key was good, and fine, and we had our fun, and I don't feel let down, or like anything was missing, much. I got to cook, which was something fixed in my mind, and I invited friends to come to the driveway, enjoy a fire, have dinner. I watched as my youngest rode off with Alex, Bambi, Acorn, and Armand, to trick or treat, without me. And that was ok. I made my favorite beans, lots of salsa, and guacamole, I marinated carne asada, roasted onions, squash and potatoes. We had corn tortillas, cilantro, and a good fire going. And we had friends drop by, and I ate, and sat, and chatted. I loved watching Maria and Acorn, then joined by Bambi, sit together to sort, organize, and swap their treats. I always love that classic Halloween scene.
The house really is cleaner. And it really needs more cleaning. And that's fine. Announcement: I am not a very good housekeeper, and I've gotten worse since a drunk driver plowed into my car, and I struggle with a lot of things and the worst might be feeling like I am a bad person for not managing everything with grace and decorum. I think it's a good thing to admit all of that, and figure out how to walk away from feeling tormented by it. And another good thing... I found the frame I brought home from the second-hand shop in Portland, same shop where and when I should have got the needlepoint doggie (that ended happily, anyway!) Once I got home, "real life" took over, and the frame was lost in the shuffle. One nice thing about cleaning is putting things together, like this woodsy frame and my woodsy painting. I am projecting hopes and wishes into this... for warmth and comfort and a simply wonderful holiday season.
Here is Cairo, looking debonair? Suave? Fluffy?

Here is Saki, looking like my darling smol boi. He is short and round and shy and insecure and darling and funny and I just love him. My baby landseal. Oh, my heart.

Potpourri: /ˌpōpəˈrē/ noun A medly of things heaped together, oddly tempting to eat as a snack, but not necessarily tasty or safe to ingest. May smell pretty, or for others, smell offensive. To each his own. Can be displayed openly, flagrantly, or discreetly concealed in a pretty, covered dish.