Monday, August 31, 2009

Shifting Sands

It has been searingly hot and dry for the past week or so, peaking around 109 on a regular basis. It makes getting a whole lot done rather difficult, as I can only work for a little while before I am forced to stop for water and to sit to regain my equilibrium. Mom came Thursday and Friday (even she thought it was hot, which is funny because she is always cold!) and has inspired a whole lot of moving and shaking around here. Fresh eyes and a fresh perspective on my issues. We are full of ideas and thoughts about what to move and how to maximize the storage I do have and how to make the best of awkward rooms, but until today it has been too hot to do much about it.

A fog bank is descending into our little valley - pretty uncommon here in the dry foothills, even if it is a regular occurrence just a few miles away at the coast. I love watching the tendrils of fog sneak past, as if bent on a secret mission. It may not become a full-blown London style fog, but even this much moisture is a blessing. The coolness it brings renews energy and drive. I am ready to do more moving and shaking.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

A Visitor

I am finally realizing how much I have let slide in my home and for how long. It can be a bit discouraging, really, when I step back and look at what I have neglected and what it means that I have to do to "fix" it.

Today my mother is coming to my house to brainstorm with me. I still have a ton of basic clean up to do (just letting her come over today is difficult, since I don't want anyone to see the state of things...) but we are hoping that getting some ideas down of where I want the house to go in terms of decor will help me stay motivated through the tough parts. She has also developed a fascination with Feng Shui, and it seems to help her not only stay motivated with the picking up (not that she really had a problem with that to begin with) but also helps her to see the positive things that happen more easily.

I just hope that she can help me to see through the boxes that have been on my floor for months while I have been too depressed (and too overwhelmed by the mess!) to take care of putting them away.

One of the things I am hoping that she can help me with is creative storage ideas. Our house came with a lot of things, but storage space wasn't one of them. I keep running into this as I work on picking up and putting things away. There is a reason I haven't kept up with it so well - there doesn't seem to be anywhere to put it! So the boxes stay on my living room and kitchen floors, the computer stuff proliferates across the guest bed in the office, on top of the crochet projects that I finally have a place to store but now can't seem to get to. I'm guessing that I'll be looking for some large baskets and other dual-purpose furniture as I go along to help with the storage stuff. Not to mention even more decluttering!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Birthday Thoughts

The morning is quietly full of birdsong and the sun is rising strong, though it will still be pleasant for another hour or so. My flowers and seedlings are thriving in the long angles of morning sunlight, reaching for the sky in their many ways.

This seems to be a morning for reflection. Especially since yesterday was spent with my nose in a book! For my birthday this past weekend my parents gave me a beautifully bound book that contained both Wicked and Son of a Witch. I finished it last night. Yes, I read quickly. Yes, I enjoyed it thoroughly. But reading and immersing oneself in a world outside of one's own does not generally make much time for appreciating the everyday world around you.

Another year older (but I can't really tell) and another year wiser. I have no grand ideas this birthday about what the future will hold for me. I have no grand plans to go overseas, get married (I'm quite happy with my husband... and don't really want that stress again!), or anything else unusual. My plans for this new year in my life are to relish the simple pleasures, rediscover who I am and what makes me happy, and to live into the truth of what I learn about myself and my family.

I am looking forward to this simpler journey. I have wonderful companions on the trail with me and a heartfelt desire to be as true to myself as I am to them.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Dust and Reminders

I sometimes forget how wonderful it is to work with someone on a project. I have loner tendencies, exacerbated by a sort of perfectionism and a perverse need to say that "I did it all by myself" that can undermine my efforts at teamwork. Helping my mom this week with her projects has been a reminder to me that I don't always have to do it all by myself.

It is a lesson I am slowly learning in my marriage as well. I still love the sense of accomplishment that comes from completing a challenging (to me) project. But I am not weak or wrong to ask for or admit that I need help. This is a major lesson for me, especially as I am dealing with my ongoing depression. I don't have to face the isolation alone. I have my amazing, loving, supportive, awesome, encouraging husband at my side and my parents and friends a phone call away when I am trapped in my downward spiral or the bottom of the pit that I wake up in. I am not alone.

God, of course, is always with me. In that sense I am never alone. God has given me these people, this family, to embrace me with human arms when God's spiritual arms aren't physical enough to keep the darkness at bay. I also forget to look. I can't always find God when I am in the midst of the darkness, and I wander in a barren land wondering where He is. So He comes to me in the faces and arms of my family.

So much to learn from a few days of dusting and running errands with my mom. So many blessings showering down on us.

Monday, August 17, 2009


I received an early birthday present yesterday, and accompanied by my family and some friends we went to see Wicked. It was a fabulous show with some really thought provoking themes running through it. One of which is watching Elphaba, who becomes the Wicked Witch of the West, blossom into her own.

It made me think of the feeling I have had recently watching my seeds sprout on my windowsill as I prepare for the fall planting season. Kale, Brussels Sprouts, Fennel, Marigolds, all are sending up tiny little seedlings in the plastic sprouting tray holding small peat pots that will be planted with the seedlings to nourish them. This feeling is one of coming home, doing what is right for my soul in this season.

I am busy this week helping my mom to clean and beautify her house - a little bit like my childhood summer mornings. It is a gift for me to share my renewed energy with her, the energy that is blossoming as I clean and recover my own home from the chaos it had fallen into. Of course, hers is more of a routine neaten up than mine has been and will continue to be for a while yet.

I am finding both comfort and expansion in my domestic endeavors. Putting down roots and sending up leaves to the heavens. Defying gravity, as Wicked says.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Midnight Laughter

I was awakened around midnight last night by a sound that has been absent from our hills for a long time. We heard it often our first year in the house, but for about a year it seems to have been missing. Then I sat upright in my bed, my heart pounding with joy and dread, sometime just before midnight. It was quite close, perhaps a block or so away unless the echo was magnified by the nearby houses. I contemplated putting some outside clothes on and stepping onto the porch, but settled for laying back down and letting the sound wash over me through the open windows.

The coyotes are back. Their bark sounds a bit like rather maniacal laughter, and in the clarity of the darkness I could understand how coyote got a reputation among the indigenous peoples as a trickster. It sounded like several of them gathered and were calling across the hills to the rest of the pack to join them. I wondered what kind of pranks they were plotting in their midst as they cackled amongst themselves in the deep darkness.

So many people consider them nuisance animals, the same way they view wolves. They are good for nothing but ruining ranchers livelihoods. To me they are an important part of the ecosystem, managing rodents and other populations of small animals that could potentially cause issues by over stressing their various food sources. When coyotes are around and I hear their crazy laughing bark in our dry hills I know that there is balance in our habitat. When they are conspicuously absent and the hills are unusually silent I am aware that all is not right in our world, and I worry.

Laugh on, brother coyote, laugh on.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Cleaning Continued... Part 2?

What is it about cleaning house that seems to clean up those mental cobwebs and "stuff"? I've been at it non-stop for almost a week: deep cleaning a bit at a time, sorting, separating, rearranging, all kinds of stuff. I've started the seeds for my cool-weather crops (kale, brussels sprouts.... ) and am in the midst of several different jams and marmalades. I have more energy than I have had in months and I'm excited to get the day started every day.

Perhaps it is clearing all of that old stuff out, the way my mom is always talking about energy flowing with feng shui. Perhaps it is simply the physical activity after a sedentary job and the wide-open possibility of this time of transition. Perhaps it is the time to really learn about what my body and soul need to stay healthy. Whatever it is, I am feeling better than I have in a very long time.

I can't say that my house is finally perfect, or even close to the way I ultimately want my nest to be. But I can say that I am inspired to keep working at it. My biggest obstacle today is finding a non-chemical deodorizer/air freshener. Just below the bathroom window was ground zero for a skunk last night and it was enough to make my eyes burn! Any suggestions are welcome... I'm spending my computer time doing research today!

Monday, August 10, 2009

My Summer Vacation?

I've been absent from my computer recently. It really doesn't have much to do with my relationship with the computer. It has to do with the sudden, intense, deep excavation I have felt the need to perform on my home. I've been contemplating this for a while. I've even talked about my tentative beginnings here in the last months. Last week I finally dove in. Friday afternoon I was able to sit at my dining room table for lunch for the first time in (I'm ashamed to admit this) at least three months. Saturday and Sunday my little family enjoyed our meals at a real table instead of on our laps. This has inspired me enough to tackle part of the living room and kitchen areas today.

Okay, this is my house, but even I am revolted by the state of things that I am discovering. Ick. I hadn't realized just how much of what I can only call guck has been hanging out here in my little cottage for way too long now. It feels great to be cleaning it up and making a true home sanctuary here. I'm even getting excited to rediscover just how revolting the faux tile of my kitchen counters really is. Which I consider a sad statement of the reality of the way my mind has been (non)functioning in the clouds of an unacknowledged and untreated depression for many months.

Summer has always been associated with deep cleaning for me. My mother was a teacher (now retired) and so that was the time when we would wake up, eat breakfast, and start taking down everything on a wall or out of a cupboard, washing it, telling stories about it - where and who it came from, what memories are associated with it - and putting it all away again. Those summer mornings with my mom meant a lot to me, even though at the time I thought it was a drag and would do my best to escape from cleaning detail. Once we finished the assigned cleaning for the day we would go to Sea World, or as I got older, the beach or a local swimming pool for more traditional summer fun. Looking back, I treasure the stories and the way those mornings cleaning helped to form the wonderful bond my mom and I now share even more than the afternoons of fun ever did.

Summer is the time to set up the ability to keep your nest clean for the rest of the year. With my mom's need for a neat, clean, tidy home the deep summer clean was essential. I find that with all of my windows open, music playing loud enough to be heard over the dishwasher, washer and dryer and a soapy sponge in hand my mind is clearing even as my kitchen counters are clearing. Perhaps a little bit of Brother Lawrence in me - he believed that all work was spiritual in nature and is often quoted as saying that he could worship God just as well among the pots and pans as he could in chapel. My mom is just a phone call away for support, and I am praying my way through the clouds of depression in a way that is reminding me of God's everlasting embrace in ways that I never imagined. Healing is here. Home is here. God is here.

I am coming home in more ways than one, and my little cottage is turning into a sweet little nest and sanctuary in a way that it has never been.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Close Encounters

In the midst of this stressful season in my life I do have my light moments. This past weekend my husband and I spontaneously packed up a picnic dinner and headed out to the coast to watch the fireworks that happen nightly all summer at one of the local attractions. We parked in the parking lot of a park across the water from where the fireworks are set off and took some time to wander around the shoreline as the sun finished setting. We spent the next hour or so as the sky continued to darken watching the fishermen around us, the lights pass around us from cars on various roads that we could see, and the boats coming in from a busy day on the water. Slowly I began to unwind. My mind was running around just a touch slower and I could breathe again.

A little while before the fireworks began I looked down at the boulders at my feet that sloped down into the water and was startled to see a beady pair of eyes staring back at me. Bigger than a mouse, though I did see one of those later, too. These were larger than I would have expected, black and deep, just a foot or so away from my toes. I looked again in the weak light of the parking lot lights and realized that they were a part of a pale, pointed face, a grey or blackish body, and a long, flexible, naked tail. Yup. This was a genuine opossum encounter. He (I didn't check, but just sort of labeled it a him) investigated around the rocks and found some leftover bait to chew on for a while. We tossed a few lumps of bread leftover from our dinner to him and admired his very sharp little teeth and cute paws from where we sat. I was rather entranced by the whole thing once I relaxed about having something with a large quantity of sharp teeth within reaching distance of my toes in their sandals. I kept watching him hunt for his supper (breakfast?) until the booming of the fireworks sent him back to his nest and safety.

The fireworks were beautiful, but I remember the possum and that encounter more from that night!

I am sharing this post through Tuesdays Unwrapped at Chatting at the Sky. Check it out for more inspiring stories of special moments in the midst of the ordinary.