Hello, from the goats and chickens! The goats are woolly, and hungry. The chickens have fully recovered from their late autumn molt, thank goodness! They need all of their tail feathers and cloaks, and after they finish their breakfast, I open the gate so they can free range, and find dryer, sunnier parts of the garden. The four bales of straw we aquired have made a good difference in taming the mud, and insulating the shelters. Before the next storms come (not that there are any in the forecast, so far,) I really should order a few more bales. It's a funny little thing about winter, and planning ahead that I always have to be reminded and prodded, because I forget that winter and storms go well beyond Christmas and New Years! Some days, even in January, I can hang the wash in the sun, and consider tide-pooling in my bare feet. Still, there will be more cold, more dampness, hopefully more rain, and it will go on well into June. I musn't let this sunnier week fool me into thinking it's spring!
Hello, from cats. From this cat, Cairo, who knows it's winter, without reading forecasts, or stepping in mud. He knows it's best to nap regularly, and stake whatever cozy claim is available, including laps, arms, sweaters, quilts, boxes, and neatly folded laundry. All three kitties have been exemplary winter kitties. They snuggle, they do long, slow, luxuriant stretches, then coil again, back into round loaves, feline mounds. We find them in baskets, on chairs, even under covers. We find them languid, affectionate, peckish, too.
Hello, from the quiet corners, from my best intentions. I am determined to read. Specifically... I am determined to read books. I read articles, and blogs, poetry, quips, anecdotes, messages, and cereal boxes, but not many books. I listen to NPR, to audio-books, and even an occasional podcast, and later I recall bits and pieces, and tend to say aloud "I read this thing...," but no, maybe not. An ill-effect of that head-on collision is that I couldn't read, not easily, not for any length of time, and it was slow. I'd have to read passages over and over. It's still difficult to focus, to retain things. The effort makes me sad, bitter, too. I turned to audio-books, but for at least 18 months, I only listened to "The Secret Garden," every single night, over and over and over again. Ask Geoff. He could probably recite it. Is this a resolution? It is, of sorts. I resolve to read books, and visit local book shops, and support authors, artists, and heal my addled brain. I resolve to learn to make a pie crust, and enjoy small gifts, do like Hayao Miyazaki, and "be satisfied with the particulars."
And thank you, Janece, for pointing that out, on his birthday. And thank you, Anna Banana, for bringing me Pie For Everyone
for my birthday.
Hello, from our break, from unstructured time, and following whims, inspecting, playing, and answering our own curiosity. On Monday I asked Maria, "What are you thinking of doing this week?" And she talked about laundry, cleaning, making art, learning to play the ukulele, and reading. She's done laundry. And some cleaning. She's made some wonderful art. On Tuesday, she asked about our old ukes, and I helped her bring them down from the high spot where they'd settled. She claimed one, found a tuning app, and settled herself in her room, where she was joined by a cat. And she studied, and practiced, and applied herself, and strummed and strummed and strummed! By bedtime, she gave me a little concert, You Are My Sunshine
was the feature piece, and I loved it. She is a total novice, an absolute beginner, and I say this admiringly, appreciatively. I love that she's taken this impulse and followed through. I hear her strumming, again, just now!
She played practically all day Wednesday, too, and late. The rest of us share glances, our eyes look upward, toward her room, then we smile knowingly, appreciatively. Music in the house, again, like when that was Suki's room, and she'd record in the closet, the library, when she'd sing with her ukulele.
I am so glad for this school break for Maria, for her to have time, and to be clever and motivated to use it... time to follow an impulse, give something a try, to be curious, and play, to make art,
to heal, to dabble, and meditate.
Hello, from our Bird House, inside, and out. We are beginners, old pros, novices, and amatuers, hobbyists, practioners, dabblers. Some have pointed out that we are nearing entry into year three of a global pandemic. It's a sad and weary thing, and too big to entirely comprehend, to account for the many losses, cope with the grief, to grapple with the cognitive dissonance. One year ago we saw our nation's Capitol terrorized and trampled by insurrectionists, prodded by a fool. A year ago, there was hope that we might have a vaccine, that it would come soon, for all of us. And yet, whether it's madness and lies, or progress and endeavor, we are still divided, still contending with wilful ignorance, hate, denial, misinformation, greed, selfish choices. Help me! Help me, Miyazaki, sages, friends. Remind me, again about those particulars,
where we can give, and receive, our small gifts, and see the sunlight glinting on the peak of our roof, sit under a warm cat, practice ukulele.
"There are so many things we can’t do anything about if we think about generalities. Things won’t go well because there is a huge gap between the generalities and the particulars. If we see generalities from the top of a mountain or from a plane, we feel it’s hopeless, but if we go down, there is a nice road running about fifty meters, we feel this is a nice road, and if the weather is fine and shining, we feel we can go on… Since the people in the community are cleaning up the river in my neighborhood, I join them when I have the time. A human can often be satisfied with the particulars. That’s what I like best these days."
Geoff sent me a little comic. Two characters are seen, one clearly distressed, "Aren't you terrified of what 2022 could be like? Everything is so messed up."
The other, intently digging, surrounded by seed packets, a watering can, doesn't skip a beat, "I think it will bring flowers." "Why?"
asks the dumbfounded friend. "Because I am planting flowers."
I wish you all the best in your reading! All The Light We Cannot See is fabulous. I love it when kids just form a project in their head and then scurry off to their room. In fact I wish had the freedom to do that as an adult!
I LOVED All The Light We Cannot See! So good.
My older son has picked up his long-neglected guitar this week on his extended winter break, and it's been so nice to hear it again!
Thank you, Sarah. I want to read both books, All The Light, and Cloud Cuckoo Land. I am taking your best wishes to heart.
And thank you for sharing your thoughts on young people taking initiative to do something for themselves. I have been feeling so pleased and happy for Maria, and I love that it's not my agenda, that there is no plan. Don't you have even a little freedom to do the same? I hope so! I need to pay closer attention to how I am using my time, and try to form more projects that I apply myself to.
So many positive comments and rave reviews for Anthony Doerr's works. Maria loved Cloud Cuckoo Land!
That is great about your son and his guitar. Hopefully, if he's enjoying it, he can keep playing, even as school picks up, again. I have loved hearing music in the house, again. Some instruments have pleasant qualities, even in the hands of a beginner. The sound of those strings being strummed makes me happy!
The particulars rather than the generalities...this strikes such a chord. I've been focussing in on the details rather than the Big Picture lately. The Big Picture is too overwhelming.
The photos of happy Maria with her ukelele are just lovely!
Amelia, when I read your last blog post ( I hope my comment didn't get lost in the Internet web!) I thought you were very much minding the particulars, with all of yourl focus on your achievements, your happy and glad moments... good plan, and wonderful achievements. I was enjoying your stamps, on Instagram.
And thank you for sharing your appreciation with me about the picture of Maria... I loved that her joy came across, and I was hesitant to share it. Usually, I keep the most personal, or emotional, images for just us. It makes me happy that you can see it's special, too.
I'm afraid your comment didn't make it through the web - not sure why, but I guess it happens from time to time! But thank you for your lovely feedback here, and on Instagram too!
P.S. All your tile choices are great - I especially love the star tiles but I don't think you can go wrong with any of them - just remember how beautifully the last bathroom came together and trust yourself!
Ghibliotheque!!! ❤️❤️❤️ And I have a copy of All The Light We Cannot See but haven't cracked it open yet. Soon, I hope!
Paul & I have reread and refreshed ourselves with that Miyazaki quote. It's a good one!
Maria... her art and the joy on her face! I adore her!
And that comic Geoff sent you... reading it... just gave me a chill! Lovely.
I haven't even cracked it open, Ghibliotheque. And I am already off to a weak start with my reading plans. I won't say "I give up," but I think it's at the very least a slow start.
Thank you for loving on her art, and recognizing the joy in her expression. I cannot deny... I love the moment captured.
Let's plant flowers, Janece. I need to get my hands in dirt, and plant lots and lots of them.
Be kind with yourself and your plans. You have *a lot* filling up your life. Leave the books and any other self-made resolution-ish plans out as temptations and if they don't tempt, then that's okay. Follow the impulses of your heart... like planting flowers! 🌻🌼🌷🌹
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