Saturday, January 28, 2017

What My Saturday Looks Like So Far

The attic work has begun--again.

Now, if the Man had his way, we'd just throw everything in big plastic trash bags and take it to the dump. Even the good stuff. The Man is a Shock & Awe kinda guy. But me, I want to make sure all the good stuff goes to a good home. I want to box up craft supplies and take it to the Scrap Exchange. I want put together boxes of similar things (play camping gear, play kitchen stuff) that I can advertise on FreeCycle.

Which means it's going to be messier before it gets neater. But I have a dream, and right now I have an almost free Saturday to make my dream happen. To get a good solid start.

Are my outer messes physical manifestations of my inner messes? Part of me thinks that if I finally get my attic put to order, my brain will be put to order in some way, too. It will help clear out my head. Give my soul a little room to move around. Maybe that's crazy. Might be, could be.

Have I mentioned that I'm taking a sabbatical? Not from writing, but from most social media, too much news, anyone who stokes the fires of doom and gloom on a daily basis. I am intent on taking the long view. Is the sky falling? Maybe. But maybe not.  It won't fall if people of good will listen to each other more, call fewer names, seek communion with one another across our differences. But when I propose this as a possibility, I don't get a lot of buy-in. Even in church, I fear, so I'm taking a sabbatical from church as well. I want to get re-centered in my faith and my thinking. I want to look for a way ahead.

Yes, I do believe I'm cleaning out the attic in my head. I need more light shining in. Please keep me in your prayers.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Me, Again


Usually I write in the morning and run errands, go to the gym, meet with friends, what have you, in the afternoon. I pick up Will at 3:05, and after that I'm typically home for the rest of the day.

But today I had to do something late in the morning that was going to cut out a chunk of my writing time. So I decided to switch things around. I'd run my errands and go to the gym before my morning appointment, and then I'd write in the afternoon.

As soon as I came up with that idea, I wondered if maybe I shouldn't try switching things around on a more regular basis. Maybe not on the days I have lunch with friends (which I'm trying to limit to once a week), but on other days? I could get stuff out of the way and then sit down to write without those nagging thoughts that I have so much to do, so many errands to run. Also, my gym holds most of its classes in the morning, and I've been wanting to do yoga and stretch these old bones out.

I've written for two hours this afternoon, and plan on sitting down tonight around 7:00 (another good time of day for me--I'm often energized in the early evening) and do my last hour of work. So far I feel like the day has worked out well, and it's been fun to think that my errands are done as well as my exercise.

The thing is, I've been thinking a lot about things I'd like to change in my life, but I've felt sort of stuck. That attic I'm always writing about? Still a mess. And now, as we've collected the contents from the old mountain house my mother-in-law passed onto us years ago (and which we sold a few years back) as well as things  that the boys have outgrown or have outlived their use, the garage is another huge problem area. Will we ever get either of these storage spaces cleared out?

And will we ever get new counters and back-splashes in the kitchen? A new carpet in the living room? Will I ever lose twenty pounds?

Maybe by changing my schedule around, I'll open up windows of opportunities I wasn't aware existed. Maybe I can get some of that cleaning and organizing done with my morning energy, and still feel I've got plenty of juice to write later. I'll keep you posted! In the meantime, how do you get things done? Have you ever made a serious change in the way you do things?

Saturday, January 21, 2017

I Don't Know if I'm Back, But I Thought I'd Say Hi

A baby quilt I made in December. I still need to give it to the baby, but the holidays got in the way, and then the weather got in the way ... Soon!

It is a gloomy Saturday morning. I just dropped Jack off at school, where he boarded a bus to a debate tournament in Raleigh. In a little bit I'll eat breakfast and then work on some quilts. At 2PM, I'll meet my writing workshop girls at a nearby Barnes & Noble. Our group is small, and sometimes I think my presence isn't necessary, these girls are such good writers, but it's true I do keep them on track.

I had not meant to stop writing here when I last wrote, but I did. It was a hard, hard summer. My mother-in-law had a stroke in early July and died in late August. I have often relied on theologian Sam Well's words, "If you can't make it happy, make it beautiful," but we could make that time neither happy or beautiful. To protect the Man's privacy, I can't go into details, but the actions of some of his relatives made his life--and our life together--miserable. To give you some idea of what it was like, I actually convinced the Man, a total non-self-helper, to read a book called How to Talk to Crazy. I highly recommend this book if you have to deal with difficult people on a regular basis.

It's not really over yet, as the Man is the executor of the estate, which is a huge job. He finally hired an estate attorney to help him with some of the paperwork, and we're hoping everything will be taken care of by the end of the month.

Some nice things happened this fall. I published my first book for adult readers (it's about quilts and quilters--you can check it out here), and it's gotten a great response. I entered three quilts into the Modern Quilt Guild's national show, QuiltCon, and two were accepted. The show is next month in Savannah, GA, and I'm going! Jack applied early decision to Davidson College and was accepted, which he's very excited about (as are we all).

I've been working really hard, maybe too hard. The good news is, as soon as I get my show quilts mailed off to QuiltCon on Monday, I'm going to have a nice long period of quiet time.  I plan to write and quilt and to maybe take a hike or two, maybe find a new house cleaner (the old one didn't work out in the long run) to come in every couple of weeks to clean the bathrooms and mop the floors. I plan to take a little time off to do nothing. Doing nothing sounds really nice.

I hope this finds you well. I hope I won't be a stranger.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Sorry to take a few days off. My mother-in-law had a stroke on Monday and that has made our life topsy-turvy. She is doing okay--she's aware, responsive, herself, and in good humor--but will have to spend time in acute rehab. As is often the case with strokes when it comes to a prognosis, we won't know until we know.

The Man has been in Charlotte with his mother for several days now. As is often the case when parents get ill, there is stress in the family. Everyone has the best intentions at heart, I believe, but this is an emotional and complicated time. So far the Man's cooler head has prevailed in the decision-making process, but the road may be bumpier up the way.

My mom was diagnosed three years ago with a very aggressive form of lymphoma, from which she is now fully recovered (and is considered cancer-free, praise be). The stress level was enormous. My and my brothers ideas about how best to serve her and my father during this difficult time varied and sometimes were at odds. No one was ugly, no one yelled or said mean things, but communications were strained. So I know how it goes. You always think you'll handle things beautifully until you don't.

So we're a little tired here, a little discombobulated. All prayers for Melvene and the rest of us are appreciated. I'll be back, hopefully with happier news. See you soon!

Monday, July 4, 2016

Hello & Welcome to My Life

Opened up the fridge this morning to grab some half and half, and this is what was waiting for me:

That's right. That's a plate with a tiny bit of pizza crust on it. Plastic wrap pushed back, but not removed. Plate not removed. So yes, a nicely chilled all but empty plate greeted me first thing this morning, and it wasn't the least bit embarrassed to be found in such a state of undress. It was enjoying the cool climate.

Please note that the nicely chilled all but empty plate is surrounded by many, fine nutritious snacking options: carrots, honeydew melon soup, a variety of lettuces and slaw. On the shelf beneath it are the remains of a lovely roast chicken. But whomever ate the pizza wasn't interested in healthy snacking. That is not their way.

What is their way, other than grabbing pizza slices but leaving an all but empty plate? Cereal boxes left open and out, little bits of cereal littering the counter around them. Cereal bowls with just a touch of milk in them, left to the side of the sink. Never in the sink, and never, ever rinsed, and never, ever, never, ever rinsed and put in the dishwasher.

Never never never never ever.

I can see there's work to be done here, and this work doesn't involve me rinsing cereal bowls and putting them in the dishwasher.

On a related note, the other day I asked Jack to please empty the dishwasher. His immediate reply was "sure," but after a second he looked at me and asked in a pleasant, curious tone of voice, "Why?"

As in why on earth are you asking me to do this, not why does a machine filled with clean dishes need to be emptied.

For the sake of my children's future spouses, I must start riding herd. And yes, I have the laziest children in the world, and yes they will resist and grump and grouch every time I remind them to do something. But it has to be done.

Because I can't take another morning like this one.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

I went to the farmer's market this morning in search of the perfect peach. The peach I bit into when I got home wasn't perfect, though it was better than the ones I've gotten so far in the grocery store.

We had tons and tons of rain in May, and I wonder if that's going to affect the quality of the peaches this year. A man I talked to when we were in Ocracoke, where they also had a very wet spring, said the island figs this year were the size of baseballs and tasted terrible. Essentially they were big globules of water.

Our figs are finally back. Two years ago I gave the fig trees a severe talking to--which is to say, I pruned them within an inch of their lives--and last year there were lots of leaves but no fruit. This year we have fruit and I couldn't be more thrilled. The figs are still small, so I don't know how they taste yet, but I'm relieved to know I have not robbed our trees of their productive purposes.

Today I'm going to work on a quilt. I may go to the gym, although it's so hot and muggy outside that it will take courage to leave the house. Tonight we're in for a treat: The Great British Bake-Off returns for its new season! I can't wait to see who this year's contestants are. Fingers crossed that they are asked to make something divine with figs!

Last night for dinner I made tortellini with pesto and bruschetta. As far as I'm concerned, tomatoes, basil and garlic are the very essence of summer. They're all I ever wanted.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Fridge at Ocracoke Museum

No post yesterday--I fell asleep early in the evening (I did a workshop yesterday afternoon--always fun and always exhausting for this introvert) and didn't wake up until 6AM this morning. The good news is, this puts me on a morning posting schedule. It's easier for me to do daily things in the morning. By most afternoons, my mind is scattered and unruly and not good for much.

No big plans for this 4th of July weekend. We are a lazy people who refuse to drive on trafficky holidays. If someone wants to go look at fireworks at the ballpark, I'm game, but I'm actually not that big on fireworks, at least not after the first five minutes. We'll cook out hamburgers on Monday and eat banana pudding (banana pudding!), which seems like plenty enough celebration to me.

Have I mentioned the entire family is obsessed with "Hamilton"? Jack got there first, but in April, after I decided to listen to the cast recording and figure out what all the fuss was about, I too became a Hamilton-head. Then the Man, then the Will, and then a few weeks ago we were all sitting down in front of the TV to watch the Tony's, just so we could see our beloved "Hamilton" cast members live and (almost) in person. I've never watched the full broadcast of the Tony's before and it was good! Much better than the Oscars.

Anyway, "Hamilton" is a work of genius and I bless Lin-Manuel Miranda for writing and composing it. If you haven't listened yet, be forewarned: some strong language lies within. Will and I have had some good talks about profanity and the power of language as a result, and how sometime profanity can be extraordinarily effective, but you dilute it of its force if you use it all the time.

One of the things I have to remind myself to do is keep an accurate ledger when it comes to the world. So many bad things happen that sometimes it feels like it's all bad. But good things happen as well--small good things and larger good things, acts of decency, kindness, courage and, yes, artistic genius. We get to put "Hamilton" on the side of the ledger that counts the amazing genius things that are a gift to us all--we get to put it on the side of the good. It counts.

In that vein, I will leave you with this quote from The Fellowship of the Ring:

The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair, and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater.

See you tomorrow!