This past year has been hard. I am not going to go into all the details for many reasons and I am not purposefully and annoyingly being vague. What I have learned is that so many of us are having a hard time. There is scarcely a person out there that isn’t struggling with something. Life is hard. And sometimes we lose our endurance for it..I did. I woke up to too many mornings with my sole desire being that of only returning to bed, as if I could sleep away my sorrows. I couldn’t.
This winter too has been hard. I have caught every cold one can catch. I have said “no” to too many invites; I have recused and laid my creativity fallow; I cried tears to the point of dehydration, and whined and prayed and pleaded for a reprieve. I have imagined that all the trials were part of some epic dark night of the soul that would reveal the meaning of life at its end.
And then something shifted..just enough. It was as if I was holding my breath and was at last allowed to inhale. A small inhale, but a glorious one.
Sunday I painted the piece above. I am not quite done.. I am waiting for the paint to dry a bit so I can add the finishing touches. I am grateful. I have much to be grateful for despite the hard stuff…so much.
When I was in art school, I painted what what I believe to be my best work ever. It was an acrylic on a small piece of wood painted in the style of a Byzantine Icon of Frida Kahlo. It was beautiful. It really was. I loved it. On the day it was completed, I hung it in art building on a hallway alongside the works of my fellow classmates, as per the usual practice. That night it was stolen.
I recall when I hung it I had a fleeting feeling that this would be the last time I saw my painting, but I dismissed it. In the blank space on the wall where my Frida had hung, I put a note pleading for her return. No questions asked. I hadn’t even taken a photo of her! Other notes from fellow students soon appeared. They weren’t as nice as I had been and I was kind of happy about that. But the notes didn’t help and I never saw my painting again.
In the years since then, I have tried to repaint that Frida. But they never were as good as that first one and I never finished a piece. You can’t recapture the energy and the magic of certain paintings; they’re just special and that specialness is a one time thing.
This week I was inspired to try again. I decided to forgo the icon format…too soon still. This is the second Frida this week. She looks a little angry here, but maybe she’s got something to be angry about.
Sun on the Hen House
I live in a pretty little house at the foot of the White Mountains in Northern New Hampshire. The backdrop of which provides boundless inspiration. I have an ever expanding garden I tend to and a small flock of chickens. We are only allowed 6 hens in town per household. I have 3, I had four until this winter. I call my little flock “the girls”…”the ladies” ..””my hens.” I love them all.
The girls have literally been cooped up for the past few weeks. The bitter cold, the non stop polar winds.. it was too much. Just before the new year I lost Euphemia. She was a frail hen to begin with, one eyed and lacking in neck feathers… the odds were against her. Mille Fleur Bantams are not known for their hardiness; they are known for their feathery feet and bright disposition.
I may be a little like my hens. Winter has been tough on me too. But the sun is out and the temperatures are up and we are all out to play today.
Rest In Peace Euphemia… you were a good hen. May your eternal coop be warm and your feed dish full of meal worms.
The couple at the post office this morning was waiting on a package of provisions for their next leg on Appalachian trail. That they were hikers was clear. They were on an adventure; but then, so is everyone.
So many people come up to this area to hike the White Mountains, accumulating 4000 foot peaks like charms on a bracelet. I came here to live.
I am settling into my new home. I want to see and know every corner of my new landscape. Summer is slipping away and I know that winter will be cold and long and exploration will be slowed. I already find myself revisiting places I’ve been, wanting to know them intimately. Sometimes I am overwhelmed by the vastness of this land..so many trails, and rivers, creeks and waterfalls. How will I ever get to know it all?
For the very first time in my life, I want to be..want to feel..attached to a place. I am choosing to be home. I am choosing to stay, connect, and put down roots. I cannot say that I have ever done this. I have lived my life as a perpetual visitor, never once have I really been home.
Luka knows where we’re going before I even get in the car. She sees me grab my bathing suit and the whining starts. I can hardly blame her. Durand Lake in Randolph is her paradise…a nice loop trail, long grass, a lake. What more could you want? I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.
“Do not waste your time and energy wishing for a different set of circumstances”
I am never alone
I am a part of a whole
so vast it is unknowable with my own thoughts
I do not need to understand
I came here not for understanding
not to grow
not to become
or even to learn
I came here to Be
fully present, wholly here
with open eyes and heart
and with compassion
as only myself
This recent move is my 23rd. I have lived in no less than 23 homes. I am not counting all the temporary/in-between houses I resided in as well…like the apartment my family lived in for the summer while we looked for housing in Hawaii, or the mobile home we lived in while my parents house hunted in San Antonio, or the times I lived with friends or in hotels or cottages…the impermanent places. One might argue that after 23 homes, there was no permanence really. But in my heart, each of these “places” became “homes.” This is the life of a child of a career military man.
With every move came packing and unpacking. Sometimes we stored our possessions only to recover them years later and find we had outgrown our stuff. It’s been three months that I have been without the majority of my possessions. They arrived from their hibernation in a storage unit and their long trek across the country just a few days ago. As I have unpacked I have rediscovered items I have carried with me one way or another since I was a child.
a deck of cards
my teddy bear and Raggedy Ann
various pins from races/events I entered as a kid
my Baptism dress
my green yoyo
a little blue plexiglass box with a bead, a dairy key, and small squares of fabric inside
my childhood rosaries( you really can’t get rid of a rosary can you?)
the very first crochet hook I ever owned, given to me by my Grandmother
an afghan I began as a kid and completed when I was in high college(crochet with the above mentioned hook)
my flokati rug doll from Turkey
my childhood scrapbook
I am sure I will find some more as I unpack. I cannot part with any of these things. Often I feel as if I am unconnected to any place on this earth, that I have never been in a place long enough to be noticed or remembered. These pieces of my past remind me that I have an identity and presence, they are tangible reminders that I am connected to my own history.
It’s glorious. I love everything about my new home. Really, everything!
The beautiful wood floors, the stain glass windows( see the previous post), the large yard, the once barn/now garage/soon to be art studio, the window seats in the living room (my favorite place to sit) my doorbell, the lovely perfectly sized kitchen(not too small..not too big), three bedrooms, the ceiling fans (so nice here), the lilac bush and the giant maple, the front porch…the back porch, the neighborhood, the next door neighbor, the town, the beautiful White Mountains that surround us…
Chris took me on a drive last night to see moose, still elusive. As we were heading home he said something to the effect that we had sacrificed a lot to get here. It’s true. We’d talked and planned and acted on a dream of coming east for about a year and half. We gave up the security of jobs and friends and a known way of living for a giant unknown. We have spent a lot of money and energy to realize our dream, our scheme, our plan for a different kind of life. We have been each other’s sole companion and confident, cheerleader and best friend. More than a few judged what we were doing. They thought us fool hearty…that we needed to be careful..have more of a definite plan. We did what we did. Sometimes you have to take a chance and leap. We’re still leaping, there are still some unknowns, but what happens tomorrow is always unknown.
Today, I know that I love where I am living. For the first time, truly, I feel home. I am in a place of my own choosing. Today, there is no place else I’d rather be.
Daughter: How would you feel if I bought a shot gun
me: Chris Blair (he texted back first after I read the text aloud): this is either the best bad text or the worst good text I’ve ever read
me: How would you feel about having a baby sister or brother
Daughter: I would shoot myself with the shot gun