Archives for posts with tag: home sweet home

Chilly morning. Coffee just a memory at this point. I consider making a pot of tea, or having a mid-morning soak in the hot tub. I think ahead to the weekend, and blustery autumn days, chilly walks through piles of autumn leaves, and cozying up to the fireplace wrapped in a soft blanket with a good book. There are some delights that even pandemic life does not dim. A book by the fire? Add a mug of warm cocoa to that, and it’s a small slice of heaven for some of us. 🙂

I ran a brief errand, and returned home. There’s still something so magical about stepping over the threshold, here. Home. Feels good. I smile at the fall foliage on the pear tree beyond the window. Here and there, green leaves turning to russet shades, shaking with the breeze as if to say “it is chilly today”. I sigh out loud in the quiet of my studio.

Small moments and small pleasures make up so much of what is joyful in life. I mean… that’s true for me, specifically. I can’t speak for your experience. 🙂 My results do vary… often depending on my choices. I sit with that though for a moment, aware of the chilly autumn day beyond the window. Aware of the comfort I am fortunate to enjoy, here at home. I think about that hot tub, out on the deck, and the pain I am in with my arthritis, right now…

…Choices… verbs… free will… opportunity…

…It’s a good time to begin again. 🙂

The week began with unexpected (but welcome) contractors. It continued, yesterday, with the return of the (now expected, still welcome) contractors and the completion of the dry walling, taping, texturing, and painting. Today? Carpet, and, I think, the completion of the last bit of our moving “adventure” (which was the discovery of a leak, by way of the visible damage it had caused). Finally.

New homeowner shit. I’m not bitching – I’m delighted to have a home. I’m just counting down the days (hours, now?) until I can sigh contentedly, feel safe, settled, and at home – without huge holes in the walls, and an entirely unfinished closet, and paintings stacked everywhere in a seemingly haphazard way. lol 🙂 I’m sipping my coffee feeling grateful for this house, our home, this partnership, and my partner – and mentally listing for myself all of the many things we’ve gotten done since we moved in, just 98 days ago. 😀

…Time is a funny thing, isn’t it? I feel simultaneously that I’ve “been here a long time” (and thus, it feels unreasonable that I’m not yet wholly “moved in”) and also feel as if we just moved in “a couple weeks ago” (in which case, it totally seems reasonable to still be “sorting out some details”).

In early April, we began looking for a home of our own together, quite seriously. The search became “urgent” in an earnest “this has to get done because we’ve got to move” sort of way, in spite of the pandemic, at the end of April. By May 19th, we’d found what we were looking for, and made an offer. I’m still surprised by how quickly that went. We closed at the end of June, and began moving in. Pandemic restrictions at their most severe (up to that point), we did the move ourselves, and it took just shy of 10 days to get it all “done”, such that we were no longer moving out of anywhere, just putting finishing touches on moving in. That makes it all sound rather easy – and it was as easy as my Traveling Partner could make it, no doubt. Organized. Well-considered. Planned carefully. Executed skillfully. Still hard. Still a lot of manual labor. Some fussing. Some crying.

…There were some trying moments, that’s just real…

Since we moved in, there has been what now seems like an inevitable cascade of “small things” to handle. Squeaky doors. A hot tub leak. Quite a bit of spilled water. Cleaning. Things to assemble. Small repairs. Totally ordinary homeowner stuff. lol At first it mostly felt new, and delightfully autonomous (no call to a landlord, no delay in getting stuff done that wasn’t chosen), then it began to feel sort of “crushing”. (Strictly temporary. Change is.) We fixed things, and moved on. I feel a bit as if this last bit of contractor work really finishes the move, is what I’m saying. (Omg, so many words just to get to that idea. Sorry.)

No idea what comes next. New adventures. Everyday life. Contentment. Romance. New recipes? New neighbors.

A sunny day on the deck, a view of the forest beyond.

It’s time to begin again. 🙂

I am relaxing on a summery afternoon, sipping blackberry flavored fizzy water. I check the label. “Natural flavors”. Sure, okay, but… it doesn’t really taste like blackberries. I mean… it wants to. It fails. Real blackberries have a certain something to their flavor that must be very difficult to capture, preserve, or duplicate. I search my recollection for any commercial product at all that really tastes like blackberries. I don’t think of one. I let it go. Life has a few mysteries, perhaps this is one? Regardless of the lack of real blackberry flavor, the fizzy water is cool and refreshing, and not so much fizz as to feel sharp or unpleasant on my tongue. I sit with the experience a little while. It’s enough to enjoy the pleasant moment on a warm spring afternoon.

I listen to the traffic on the busy street at the end of the driveway of this rented duplex. The paperwork is done. The appointment to sign this and that is set for a day next week. The weekend ahead feel relaxed, and purposeful. I smile at the moving boxes, and look over my “to do list”. I won’t miss the traffic, the busy street, or the noisy neighborhood.

I don’t have to miss the roses; my container garden will move with us. 🙂

I take a moment for fond appreciation of the human being that is my Traveling Partner. He’s done much to make this move organized, and comfortable. He knows how much moving disrupts the routines that support my day-to-day emotional wellness and preserve the general appearance that I adult skillfully. It’s not that I don’t, I guess generally I do, these days. It’s nice to have some help with the busy-ness and clutter of life, though. He makes a point of reminding me that now is time to finish up the packing and organizing. For a couple week’s he’s been tenderly reminding me to take a breath, and slow things down. Timing matters. He gets that for me it matters a great deal, and doesn’t tease me over it. (Well, maybe a little…) He’s considerate and caring, and the moments when we frustrate each other have been few. This is certainly an easier, more emotionally comfortable, move for me, of all the moves I’ve made since… yeah. Since ever, I guess. I don’t have a recollection of a move that has been more organized, settled, or joyful. It’s pleasant. Like this blackberry fizzy water; it doesn’t need to be explained or solved. I remind myself to enjoy the experience, and sit quietly with my gratitude, for a bit longer.

The titular moment I’m waiting for is that moment ahead. The one with the signing? No. The one with the house keys. The one when I park my car in my driveway – our driveway – for the very first time. Home.

Home

…There’s a new garden to plan. Roses. Dahlias. Maybe jasmine and honeysuckle, too. Herbs in pots, and summer veggies in raised beds… I feel happy tears well up, and a smile so big it makes my face hurt.

My sigh fills the room. The sound of contentment. Another glance at my list of packing tasks I plan to tackle this weekend. Another sigh. Less contented, more resigned. I’m reminded briefly of the work involved, by the physical pain I am in. I shrug it off, unconcerned about that. The work involved is worth overcoming or enduring it. It’s a very human experience. Fucking hell, I’m so glad I’m not doing this move alone, or having to impose on friends, or hire strangers. This move feels intimate, connected, and shared, in a different way. I think back on other moves – was I adequately grateful, and did I say so, all those times I’ve imposed on friends for help, when I moved? Maybe not… I haven’t always been the woman I am… hell, even now, it’s often a solid real-time effort to be the woman I most want to be… a very human experience, indeed. I add “say thank yous for past moves” to my list of things to do. Dear friends have sometimes traveled great distances just to help me move. I am beyond fortunate.

…I remind myself to spend a day writing letters to friends and family from the new address, once we’re moved in. I took a handful of days off to do the move – more to give myself a chance to get used to the new space, new routines, new sounds and new shadows, than anything to do with unpacking boxes. I’ve learned a few things about caring for this fragile vessel over the past decade. There will certainly be time to write a few letters. 🙂

I listen to the birdsong and the breeze, and wonder what songs the birds will be singing (or, more accurately, what sorts of birds will be singing their songs) from the new deck, looking out into a different wood. I think about the walks I will take on new trails. I think about what the change in perspective may mean for my journey. I remind myself, as I have so often before, to “stay on the path”.

Seems to be very effective so far… probably doesn’t hurt that the path is mine, and that I choose it myself.

Maybe it’s not too late in the day, on a Friday, for another cup of coffee…? Certainly, it is not too soon to begin again. 🙂

Life can feel pretty chaotic, happenstance, random, coincidental or strange. I’ve got my free will, you’ve got yours, we’ve all got circumstances. Somewhere in the recesses of my fragmented memory I hear a memory of myself screaming at someone “This is not a fucking GAME!”

Isn’t it?

Is it?

What if it actually were, and we could know that going into it, and as with any game, even have the rules in front of us, and a moment to get set up? There are lots of sorts of games that life is rather like. Games make good metaphors of life for that reason, and many games creep into our language as figures of speech. (I’m looking at you, Baseball!)

If you had a stack of chips – call it your savings – and cash flow that replenished that supply – call it ‘a job’ – and some goals to reach with those resources, and some challenges and hurdles to overcome… that sounds a lot like life. The only thing missing is a system of winners and losers, and a way to keep score. And a timer. Games always end.

Here’s your first goal, first round of the game: acquire suitable housing. lol Yep. There are a lot of options. Do your chips cover what you want most? No? I guess rethinking that makes sense then… What can you afford? Meet the need as soon as possible, improve over time; it’s a common strategy. What if you are fortunate enough that you don’t want or require more than the basics? Your chips pile up! Is that important? No – they’re just chips. lol  A lot of people miss that detail.  We primates are a competitive bunch – what we grab up and keep close doesn’t have to have real value, it just has to be more of whatever it is than that monkey over there has. Hell, in some groups, even having more pain, more misery, amounts to riches.

Every choice we make matters. Every opportunity for a decision, or indecision, or action or inaction, takes our piece another step around the game board.  We progress toward our goals, or move away from them. Sometimes we stand still.

This morning, I’m playing The Game Of Life in my imagination. I’m starting with the chips I’ve got, the job I have, and mentally rebuilding my experience with those resources. Not personally my own? I’m not counting it.  What do I really need? What do I want? What contributes value to my experience? What do I keep, what I do I let go? What can I have? What is out of reach? What matters most?  At the conclusion of this morning’s game, I’m hoping for a clearer picture of the life I would like to be really living. A good map makes any destination easier to reach.

What will I choose to fill my life, my home, my experience?

What will I choose to fill my life, my home, my experience?

Few challenges are as challenging as they seem. Few hurdles stand as tall as we fear. Our choices matter – even our choice about what matters, and what the choices may be.  Today is a good day to make good choices.

Did you see that house?? Wow – check out that car! Designer clothes…limited edition printings…specialized or customized decor…exotic rare flavors, places, experiences… What do you aspire to? More? Much more? Go big or go home! Dream big! Shoot for the moon! More…further…better…

A wow moment on an ordinary day.

A wow moment on an ordinary day.

No wonder I feel so pushed sometimes. It’s a very big world, and there are so many opportunities, so many wonders, and challenges, so many things to try or experience – I guess I’m not surprised that so many folks chase some dragon or another, looking to fulfill themselves, or achieve one goal or outdo some standard or expectation, hit a noteworthy benchmark, impress someone, or climb some mountain, ladder, or heap.

Soap bubbles are also 'real'.

Soap bubbles are also ‘real’.

I know a man with a spectacular home. He bought it for his own reasons, perhaps because his last home wasn’t ‘enough’. He shopped a long while before he found what he was looking for. I still don’t really understand his choice. He bought a mammoth home, worthy of being called ‘an estate’, well off the everyday beaten path, and far out of view of any sight of ‘economic distress’ in a place of exquisitely preserved nominally natural loveliness… it’s huge. Quite large. Well and good, of course, for his substantial family… wait… no, he lives alone, generally. He has just one child (living far away), and no likelihood of grandchildren, not even a dog by his side. Many rooms, much square footage, and more than much else, it boldly states ‘here lives a man who is economically successful’. It’s very fancy. His own tastes, as a man, seem quite simple. He has worked hard and as much as his understanding of the world permits, he is an ethical and good man. He seems mild of temperament, professionally competent, and decent. He tends to be modest and self-effacing when confronted directly, or in conversation, by ‘someone better’ than he sees himself; it is clear that the superiority in question is a matter of financial success. He treats a man with more money as likely to be simply smarter, wiser, more right more often, in a word – better.  If success is measured in dollars, square footage, rarity, or exclusivity, then perhaps a very grand house is an excellent value in communicating that success to the world.

This says something about who we are.

This says something about who we are.

What does that house mean? Oh – not to him, because how that house meets his needs, or what value it has for him, isn’t really relevant to me at all. Not my house. Not my family. Not my measure of success. It’s just an anecdote about a guy with a house.

The basics, walls, windows, a roof, a door.

The basics, walls, windows, a roof, a door.

When I was much younger, in my 20s, I loved shoes, and clothes, and traveling to destinations; most of my disposable income went to those opportunities. I aspired to all sorts of ‘greatness’ and hit the mark once in a while, and struggling and suffering when I didn’t. I pushed myself hard and continuously to ‘succeed’. I defined success based on a number of things that were economic in nature, and certainly each of us is free to define success in our own way… only… I wasn’t doing that, at all. I was defining success as I had been told to define it, based on someone else’s measure of success. (I think we all start there.) Many of us find our own way to re-defining success in our own terms. (I did, eventually.) The discovery that ‘clothes don’t matter’ was an important game-changer for me. I came home from war substantially changed of mind and heart, and on the scale of clothes and shoes it was obvious.  It took a while longer and a house to teach me why ‘clothes don’t matter’, and the nature of sufficiency. I’m still learning.

"Kuwait; Oil Fires" 26" x 48" oil on silk.

“Kuwait; Oil Fires” 26″ x 48″ oil on silk.

Funny thing, though… that house… You see, having a home, a place of my own, somewhere I could always come back to, however far I strayed, somewhere to count on… that has been a measure of success for me, for a very long time.  I get excited about fancy big homes with ‘tons of features’, so much so that I recently allowed myself to be entirely de-railed from a thoughtful, reasoned, careful house-hunting process by the dangled temptation of something bigger, better, fancier… more. More than I need, for sure. I noticed when it happened, but the pure addictive delight of the daydream in front of me was intoxicating, and fully distracting from something far far more important to me – ‘enough’. An important lesson in attending closely to my own needs, my own goals.

It's a trap!

It’s a trap!

Sufficiency. Contentment.

Sure, I suppose a million-dollar home in an exclusive gated community of like-minded individuals surrounded by landscaped scenery, safe behind efficient alarm systems, and deeply invested in society by way of a hefty mortgage would be one way to shout “I am a success!” to the world. Having a big house with plenty of room, and rooms, and features, and space, and customized to suit my taste for color and design would be very aesthetically pleasing, and potentially very comfortable and satisfying. It might satisfy some wants, fulfill some desires, even meet some needs. It would answer a very different question than “What is enough?”

For me, a grand house could not be described as ‘necessary’. It would not be about ‘meeting my needs’, and however often words about needs might be spoken by someone with the money to buy such a grand house, a house like that is not likely to be about needs. A house like that is about wants, and wanting, about craving, acquisition, and fighting discontent with possessions, and communicating status to the world. What need does one human being have for a house of many rooms, many bathrooms, many many square feet, broad expanses of lawn, yard, or acreage, neatly landscaped, arranged, and managed in accordance with the community covenants and homeowner’s association guidelines? I firmly assert again, it is not about needs, or meeting needs, at all.

I know what I need. I need enough. Sufficiency. Safe, secure, sheltered from inclement weather, adequate protection from the unknown intentions of those who might wish me ill, a place where I feel nurtured, at ease, content, and ‘at home’. I need a home, far more than I need a house. I’ve lived in reasonable comfort for months in a tent, in good company, well-provisioned, and feeling both safe and secure. I’m pretty sure ‘my real-estate’ in that circumstance measured something like 20 sq ft. The more-than-dozen of us sharing that tent had about 500 sq ft together. It seemed, at the time, rather generous. Most of the time it felt like ‘enough’. Clearly ‘enough’ isn’t about square footage, stone walls, expanses of lawn, HOA by-laws, elegant roof-lines, granite counters, upgrade appliances, or gated communities. What is ‘enough’? What is ‘home’?

One of the flavors of 'home'.

One of the flavors of ‘home’.

Home. Yeah. Home is high on my list of priorities. Getting there is just starting to peek over the horizon on my vast to-do list of personal growth, and desirable achievements…and I don’t even know yet everything I ‘need’ to measure my success there… other than ‘enough’.  Excess is a burden. Delighting in excess is a fast track to being a shitty human being. lol.

What's your pleasure?

What’s your pleasure?

I probably wouldn’t be a really first-rate minimalist. I’ll be honest about that. I like some luxuries, and my aesthetic preferences result in the possession of the occasional object or two without purpose beyond beauty, but there, too; I call the shots on my idea of success, and only I truly know what meets my needs, and what those needs are, and why. I recognize the possibility that some solitary person with vast wealth might truly ‘need’ a huge grand house of many rooms filled to the rafters with carefully placed exquisite objects that reflect their taste and experiences, reminders of other things and moments, and perhaps such vast wealth truly results in a life so well-lived that the accumulated possessions truly fill such a grand house in a predictable and commonplace way. It’s possible. I have books, paintings, paperweights… having space to display them might seem a necessity from some perspectives, and certainly practical objects like books lose value when they are boxed up, labeled, and put into storage. I would be less satisfied to be without books, and the wee library space I have put together in my current house satisfied my heart when I finished that project. If I had more books, I’d ‘need’ more space. It’s not quite the sort of ‘need’ I’m really on about, though… and the small library I have is just bookshelves along a wall in a mostly unused corner. It meets my needs. It is enough.

I’m spending some time reconsidering my discontent in all manner of things, and the questions I am asking myself are ‘What do I really need?’ and ‘What is enough?’ I have never found contentment – or happiness – in ‘more’, ‘bigger’, ‘better’, or ‘further’. I have found it in sufficiency, in appreciation, in gratitude. I may want ‘more’, I only need ‘enough’.