This view from my son’s new apartment in Montreal
The moon — whenever, wherever, in whatever phase
dirt, chives that come back with vigor, shiny baubles in the garden
homemade granola — with lots of nuts and sweetened with maple syrup
a path re-established in the garage — signs of progress
de-gunked window tracts and clean sills
these pants, made several years ago
Having just bailed on a volunteer commitment that was way bigger than expected, I am having to rest in the awareness that I am better off suffering temporary negative judgment than jostling a set of tasks that I really really don’t want to perform. Oh well.
C. came and went last week. We hardly saw him. As it should be. As it should be. Meanwhile, my younger son is making prom arrangements. As the light lingers well past dinner time, the season reminds us all of the inescapable passage of time. Sometimes we meet the changes with a glad heart. Spring is comin’! Scrubbed a wall and floor in the studio on Monday. Dead mouse stink is a great motivator. (Product note: I have fallen in love with orange-scented oils to clean wood). Little fella below was discovered around this time last year. The space is beginning to feel welcoming. Open. I burned sandalwood. I moved stuff around. At this point I am not getting rid of clutter so much as consolidating it. Lastly, I bought one of Saskia’s beautiful pieces (more pix soon). Just look at it! It couldn’t please me more. It feels important to recognize the economies of happiness. It’s different for everyone. My recent rather pedestrian conclusion is that such domestic equations rely on more than dollars and cents to come out properly.
Is it an indulgence for someone confronting TWO college tuitions this year to buy a piece of hand-worked art? Perhaps. Perhaps. But when I consider how much pleasure it gives me, the calculation comes out with a different answer — absolutely worth it; a bargain.
Reminds me of a Nicole Hollander cartoon from ages ago, where her character, Sylvia, asks, “What is a good hair cut worth?” The answers were:
a) three months of therapy; or
b) six months of therapy.
And check out the package Saskia used to ship my quilt from Holland. And, I’m not even showing you the handmade paper it was wrapped in, or the lovely laminated tag enclosed. Delight! And more delight! If you are not familiar with Saskia’s work, you are in for a treat. Her blog, Tales from the Birdhut, is listed on my sidebar under her name.
(And by the way? That cool skull block print in one of the studio shots was a freebie (!!yes!!) by Brenda Beerhurst, inserted in a package when I bought a print of a banana bike from Rick Beerhurst a few years back).
“It’s Not about Me — Questions for a 19 Year Old” (Sketchbook Project, 2014)
“What will you carry” is a question that confronts all ages, of course. As my in-laws empty their house to move to a retirement community, the question is quite literal. Some of the things they will not be able to take are being divvied up among their children. And then, of those same items, we need to re-ask: “save, give away, throw away”? As I continue going room to room (now with a focus on the rat’s nest that is my studio), I am remembering an interesting novel on the topic, in which the protagonist had a hard and fast rule. Every January she surveyed her apartment and if she had not touched the thing during the previous year, she got rid of it (“My Year of Meats“, by Ruth Ozeki). That is more severe than suits me, but the question of maintenance is not: “Do I want to have to keep handling this thing to keep it clean and in its proper spot?” The answer, surprisingly, is often NO.
Young people ask “What will I carry” in an abbreviated way, using the dorm checklist as reference, and if they are reasonably nice, they let their mothers buy them some linens. Now that we know that D. will be going to college in Colorado (big HAPPY news of last week!!), the question gets asked with the logistics of flying in mind.
There are the less literal ways to ponder this, too. When I ask, “What will you carry” of my children, I say it with the deepest hope that they will carry forward many memories of caring, humor, and nurturance from home.
If it is true, as Gretchen Rubin says in “The Happiness Project,” that “[a]ny single happy experience may be amplified or minimized, depending on how much attention you give it,” then I want to figure out how to do this better.