Category Archives: domesticity

Stuff and non-stuff

A gifted bowl. Milkweed pods sprayed gold by my sister.

Even as the tableaux produces a pang about Noreen (she was rapidly declining this time last year), the simplicity pleases.

A worn wooden floor. An exalted weed. A textured bowl crafted by a friend, lively in its imperfection.

Our relationship to things changes over time, doesn’t it?

I’m always ready to take the decorations down before husband and somehow feel a little bad about that. What does my eagerness signal?

Don’t get me wrong. I love the sweet nutcrackers, the festive wreaths, and the sentimental decorations given to the boys year in and year out. They represent a life lived and lived with some modicum of joy.

They signal the advent of time-outside-of-time.

In other years, the enjoyment of displaying decorations and the pleasure at putting them away ran about 50/50. This year, there was no contest. I felt a visceral relief clearing the spaces. I can almost imagine not bothering with any of it at some point.

I’ll leave you with this shot from Finn’s and my morning walk and a stanza from a poem by Wallace Stevens:

I do not know which to prefer, / The beauty of inflections / Or the beauty of innuendoes, / The blackbird whistling / Or just after.

From Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird.

Bibs and babs

K will be home tonight after ten days away. Ten days is a lot longer than six. I lost interest in food during this absence, which I can’t explain. Seems all I want to eat is an eight year old’s diet: yogurt, blueberries, pancakes, and cereal. I made granola. Finn got the rib eye.

When we returned from Denver all the boxes of my sister’s stuff felt oppressive — even the ones in the garage.

I emptied two more. To preserve the glorious and moving variety of my sister’s clip file, I’ve started on album on Flickr.

Writing stalls and twists in on itself. To “get to yes,” I have to reduce a task to its smallest component. Not “open laptop and log in” small — but almost.

Dog walks provide ballast. The flag iris, so regal last week, start to fade and wither while the Japanese iris rise up in tight buds or open flowers of the deepest purple. It’s a pretty time of year.

The way certain things back up while K is away can be managed –right? — the critical appointments, the hopes for a beach house rental in August. Assertive is what I’ll be. Instead of bitchy.

Meanwhile Father’s Day approaches. I know what I WON’T be buying. Check out the price on these swim trunks. I was blowing through Bloomingdale’s yesterday and this little ticket blew my fucking mind.

One of the neighborhood library kiosks had a book he’d enjoy. I took it. That will prompt me to deliver a handful of books in return. A win/win. No money exchanged.

Last thought: I now know that whenever trump travels, my mood takes a big hit. For that reason (and because Mo hadn’t heard of Randy Rainbow), I’ll leave you with this. Can’t wait to see what he does with London.

Looking back and forward

Tomorrow, Salem apartment inspection and key hand over. A finality, there.

The house and garage at this end are stuffed in spite of vigorous give aways and throw outs. But it can all wait ’til I get back.

This windowsill photo was taken roughly one year before my sister died just before the movers came. Who knew how little time she had left.

Aside from an eye hemorrhaged enough to warrant an urgent care visit yesterday, everything continues apace. The crocus are up, Euros obtained, tickets to the Villa Borghesi purchased, and a keyboard for tablet ordered (my old lap top is heavy!)

Also: filled the freezer with chicken pot pies, single serve pizzas, and meatballs. Otherwise, in my absence K might subsist on rice cakes and peanut butter (funny. Not funny).

It looks like I’ll be needing a raincoat in Italy and guess what? I DON’T CARE.

Sunday table 1/13/18

The football game is on. A fire snaps in the fireplace. Leftover stew was divine.

This Cloth doodle irked. The layers impeded handquilting, so I’m calling it done.

Planning to reopen my old Etsy store in near future. I would love love love to let go some of my work! And a teeny income stream would be novel, welcome.

Puzzles done. Vacuuming done. Finn is limping so another walk is not in order. Time to iron a few shirts and sort the sock basket!

(Studio tableaux)

We rearrange

It’s a mistake to think people are creative. They don’t create anything. What they do is rearrange things.

Novelist Mark Helprin interviewed 10-5-17 on the podcast, “The Avid Reader“.

Prior to that, he said, “You have to have models [to write about]. We have only what we are given in creation. We don’t create anything. All we can do is interpret it.

He’s one of those superb writers who’s had an incredibly interesting life, like Louise Erdrich (with her 1/2 German, 1/4 Native, 1/4 French ancestry (talk about a cast of characters!)). Turns out that as a boy, Helprin lived in a Parisian house that had safeguarded a Jewish family in its attic for years. Imagine what those walls had to tell a young child!

It’s important to remind a person like myself that every life is interesting in some measure. And besides, my life, to use his logic, is what I was given.

He also talked about how often writers’ first novels are autobiographical. He didn’t think so at the time but now sees it to be true.

His new novel is the first he’s ever set in contemporary time. I can’t wait to read it.

Meanwhile, my antique-dealing neighbor who sold his house put even more treasures on the curb today. I snagged a triptych — with hinges that work in both directions! I’ve wanted one for years. I mean, years. Our family room has a large opening to the cellar stairs which acts as a conduit for cold air. The temperature issue’s been partly resolved by hanging one fluffy blanket over the cellar door and another over the dog gate. But still, I’m thrilled.

I’m going to make some collage packs for Newton Open Studios and include some of this gorgeous Chinese-scribed paper. If you, dear reader, would like to receive a collage pack, leave a comment below saying so and I’ll draw a name next week.

Curb finds and scale

When the neighbors move, I sometimes get prizes like that chunky and lovely planter above. It’s perfect for holding some of my SoulCollage cards!

I had hoped it would work in this corner cupboard (a neighbor cast off itself which K bought for $400 and cleaned and waxed). But the planter’s too big — yet another lesson in how much scale matters. It’s also not white enough. Not sure when I became this fussy, but there you have it. (Three other white pieces on those shelves, by the way, were curb-finds and two plates purchased for a song at a yard sale).

A too-busy weekend. The good news? Having one event on the calendar inspired me to get my hair cut! (K’s office holiday party). I feel reborn. Somebody remind me in about two months, okay?

Geometry and Junk Drawers

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Two free photo apps and a quilt picture and I could fiddle all day (PicFrame to combine images / Prisma for filters).

Monday, I like to get some cleaning and straightening done (is this how we’re referring to procrastinating these days?). I hadn’t intended to go on a tear but ended up organizing the kitchen drawer — the one we call “the vitamin drawer” even though it’s also the chap stick drawer, the dental floss drawer, and the spare key drawer.Most items were keepers, like the coins and rusty bits above, but a few items had to go — like the Teen Multi Vitamin with a “use by” date of 2010.  Found all my silver bracelets, which I had been vaguely missing, as well as a number of watches.

There were LEGO guys and a miniature warrior, as well as a Playmobile broom. And look at that tube of BB’s! I suspect that dates back to my husband’s childhood and I have no idea how it arrived in this drawer.

Next up was the blanket chest in the corner. Inside I found cloth, of course, and on top: a lot of paper (printed out chapters with beta reader comments and one of my research notebooks). None of it’s particularly essential at this point but the pile was a reminder of the dangers of shoving shit into closets and drawers when company’s coming — you may not see those things again for another couple of seasons!