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Of Coffee Pots and Journaling

Coffeepot

I'm sitting here in my art studio, sipping the last cup of coffee from this morning's pot, savoring it, and just thinking about creativity's ebb and flows.

It's a battered old thing, this pot. Near as I can figure, with a bit of help from Google and Etsy, it's going on 60 some years old. Nearly as old as I am, and both of us dinged up a bit, but still going strong.

Some years ago, as we packed up Dad's home, I rescued this poor baby from the pots and pans' cupboard, beneath the built in stove. I hadn't seen it used in years; Mom, then Dad had moved onto its more modern relatives, but being the Depression babies that they were, had hung onto it, "just in case."

I carried it home to Virginia, not really thinking I'd being making coffee from up, and for a long time, it just sat in my kitchen, making me smile with the memories of the past.

Just for grins and giggles, as he says, Phil decided to experiment with it one day, and it's been pressed into service ever since. If we're not in a hurry, it's put to work. There's something about watching the brown liquid begin to perk and bubble with a sound all its own. A rich aroma works its way through the kitchen and up the stairs, telling me as one of the grands puts it, that it's sunny time.

Maybe it's my imagination, but the coffee is richer and deeper somehow, and if I'm not careful the first sip or two can scald my tongue.

I've been in some sort of creative funk lately. It's not that I don't have ideas; I do, and there are lots of them. But my energy went missing, and other than perusing the net, and getting lost in its rabbit holes, I've simply been reading the kinds of books that don't make you think, or playing Suduku and Solitare.

Yesterday, I decided that enough was enough, and I pushed myself to pick up the paintbrush, acknowledge the crankies, and just get started, not putting any great importance on the outcome.

Crankies

I've never been a believer of making my journals just pretty images, of somehow sending out the message that everything is just hunky dory. And, I figured that maybe if I acknowledged it...not bemoaning or wailing about it...just simple acknowledgement, that I could move past this bit.

I can't really describe just how good and right it felt to play with the paint colors, images from magazines, and to just cut and glue. Therapy, indeed.

I had to laugh when I found the image of the girl; she's just so perfect. If I had gone looking for her, she never would have appeared. I just started putting down marks, paint, etc. letting the page become what it needed to be. I altered the cut out images, making them more my own. I didn't fret about wonky letters. I just kept going, and the more I did, the better I felt.

To, make a bad pun, more than the coffee is perking. Ideas are stirring, stories asking to be written, a photography class to be planned.

Sometimes, I just need to begin. The rest usually follows.


Getting the Crankies Out

IMG_2924

See that guy, second from the left? He is clearly telling the universe his blues, shouting out his woes, feeling sorry for himself, bemoaning his woes...

There are a thousand ways to say it, and sadly, other than the shouting it out for all the world to hear, that was pretty much me yesterday.  Grumpy. Out of sorts, and no way to make me happy.

I had just had too much fun - broken air conditioners in cars, pipes that leaked, a dishwasher that refused to run. Being pretty much broke, and no junk food in the house.

Because you see, scarfing down junk food satisfies something in me. I feel miserable afterwards, and honestly, I rarely really taste what I'm eating. I know it's not one bit good for me, but I do it none the less.

Except for yesterday, because there was just no junk food to be had. This budgeting business (a good thing, mind you, and I'm glad we're doing it) allows for only so much junk food, and when it's gone, it's gone.

Prior to the budgeting business, I would have been in the store, scooping up chocolate tortes, cream cheese goodies, cookies, and more. Maybe that poor guy above had no more clam or crab pickings? Maybe no kind soul fed him chips or fries that day. Who knows, but I think we were of like mind. The world was out to get us.

My brain knew logically that there was no shortage of food in my house; I had lots of choices, really. But in my funk, none of them appealed.

Blushing confession here...I ate several packs of Scooby Doo Fruit Snacks, just to get a taste of sweet. It's a sad day, indeed, when you snitch your grandson's snacks.

I thought about making blueberry muffins, but at that point the dishwasher had gone on strike refusing to fill. I didn't want to clean up the mess involved; laziness prevailed.

Said dishwasher, and its partner in crime, the kitchen faucet confounded us. Somehow, when the water heater got replaced, and everything was working downstairs, the faucet, on its own accord, just stopped dripping. Just stopped.

There is no logical connection between that faucet and the hot water heater. None. We followed all the pipes.

Yeah, right.

Replace the hot water heater on the lowest level of the house, and the faucet on the middle level now behaves. We happily took back the faucet for a refund, loaded the dishwasher, and turned it on.

Nothing, just nothing, but a few hums from the motor. No water.

So, googling how to fix something began again. Many things were tried to no avail. I asked Phil if maybe the hot water to the dish washer had been turned off, and he assure me he had not touched it.

More googling.

No success, so I resigned myself to washing by hand, which really is not a problem, but it added to my woe is me for sure.

And, at one point, Phil came up, smiling, to tell me that the dishwasher now was working.

Pause, and a question as to how he fixed it.

He grinned and willing confessed that yeah, the hot water to the dishwasher had been turned off.

God bless the man for confessing; I might well have made something up. He could have spun a stream of technical garbage, and I would have accepted it.

So, here I sit, trying to shake off the blues.

Pay day is nearly here, and I can restock the larders. I have a working dishwasher, and I have hot water in my house. Laundry is going, as is the infamous dishwasher. The part to fix the car's AC has arrived. (Thank you, Amazon, and God bless you!)

Chicken is marinating and waiting to be grilled.

I'll be working on my journal page in between doing some other things, some needed, but others just for fun, just for me.

And, just maybe, I can get rid of these d*mn crankies.

 


Just Remember to Be Grateful

IMG_2950

Honey, the hot water heater is leaking.

Um, as in just a little, right?

Nope, as in it's all over the floor, and I've got some towels soaking it up.

7:30 AM, and all my cylinders now popped into action. With a few muttered not so nice words, I began pulling on clothes to see how I could help.

Down one level of steps, and a dripping noise caught my attention. Pausing to listen, I thought that Phil had pretty much made it clear that the water heater was not "dripping" water. Still, I hoped that maybe he had managed to stop the flow, but the noises from the next level down told me I might have false hope.

Wandering into the kitchen, I watched in horrid fascination as the kitchen faucet's steady dripping morphed into a stream.

Honey...the kitchen faucet is leaking as well.

Further investigation revealed the two water incidents were not connected, but instead, two distinct problems. Nice.

And, then, the upstairs toilet flushed itself, reminding both of us that it, too, was on today's agenda of problem solving opportunities. 

Phil managed to get the water heater shut down and the mess cleaned up.

An awkwardly place vise grip ensured a supply of cold water, which at this point, was better than no water at all. At the same time, it stopped the ongoing flow. Realistically, the kitchen faucet should be an easy fix, with a short trip to Home Depot to obtain a new faucet and the parts needed for the toilet repair.

Note, that I wrote "should be," because a mechanic was at that very moment, trying to fix its AC, which he thought he'd fixed, but a short trip on Friday let us know that, nope, the AC still didn't care to work during this heat wave. We are a one car family, so, pretty much we were now housebound with no hot water, a broken hot water heater, a dripping kitchen faucet, and self flushing toilet.

And, then I learned how much I took for granted.

I couldn't take a hot shower or wash my hair. Well, I could, but that water would be mighty cold.

Laundry that required at least warm water needed to wait.

Breakfast clean up would be tricky.

I couldn't even hop in the car and run away from it all.

And, that tiny bit of extra money tucked away after careful budgeting went flying out the window.

A year or so ago, I would have gone ape you know what crazy. There would have been weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth.

Many deep breaths.

Even more prayers for strength and patience.

More deep breaths, but I began to realize that it could be so much more worse.

The water heater broke while we both were home; we might have gone away, both have been working, ....you get the idea.

And, I did have water. Cold but clean water. So many people don't.

The extra bit of money vanished, but I could buy the needed parts.

I only had to wait a few days, and hot water would flow again.

I had food to eat and dishes on which to eat it.

Truthfully? Not fun, but we'd manage.

Most of all, even with all my work on remembering to be grateful, I realized I still had a lot more work to do. There is still far too much I take for granted.

As I type, I'm listening to clunking and other noises coming from our bathroom. The kitchen faucet will get fixed. Sometime this evening, a nice man will appear and install a new water heater.

I'll turn on the dishwasher, take a hot shower, and begin to do the laundry.

And, before I go to sleep, I'll remember to write down a few things for which I'm thankful, because despite the weekend of non working needed things, I've got a good life.

Scratch that.

I've got a really really good life filled with a ton of blessings.

P.S. Why the buttercups? Because they're bright, cheerful, and remind me of our recent beach trip. They're one of the blessings I pictured in my mind when I needed to take those deep breaths!

 

 


Trying for Normal

Nor2

Last week, well the last several weeks, spun us up, down, and sideways. Last week, though, created the biggest impact. In the space of 48 hours, family members ended up in the ER twice, and then landed in the hospital for surgery.

And, Phil and I ended up trying to create a sense of normal.

I'm not sure what normal constitutes, other than it's always changing. Things you never expected to happen or be doing suddenly become your everyday. You cope even though you're running ragged, sleep deprived, and don't have much of a clue about what's happening next.

You just cope.

I've often read that "normal is just a setting on your dryer." Guess what folks, normal doesn't exist on my dryer. I can see high, medium, and delicate, but not normal. So, it goes.

Right now, I've got carpet freshener sprinkled through out the house, and I can hear the washer chugging. The aforementioned dryer hums along nicely, tumbling blankets and towels. I've wiped down the kitchen, unloaded the dishwasher, and now, I'm sitting here trying to put the chaos of last week into words.

I'm so grateful for "normal."

Even more so, I'm grateful that I have people in my life that know they can lean on Phil and me, and, we can lean on them.

As one of my children and a spouse dealt with emergency rooms and hospital horrors, Phil and I stepped in, along with others to create a safe, loving spot for our grandson, affectionately known as Twit #2.

I started to type that because of his special needs, Twit #2 does much better when things play out in a routine he knows. But, you know what? Don't we all?

Because our lives our so closely connected, Phil and I know this little boy's routine fairly well. So, even with his mom and dad out of the picture, he felt safe, loved, and nurtured.

On Monday night, Phil stepped in alone, and spent the night with this little one. They played, talked, built things, talked some more....well, Twit #2 talked and Phil listened! Dinner got made and eaten; books were read before bedtime. Toys got picked up and stowed away in their places. Then, Grandpa curled up on the couch, and waited for the "kids" to get home.

Wednesday brought the second trip to the ER, and eventually a hospital stay with surgery. I began twit duty on my own, and then Phil joined me. We played, talked, put away toys, and fed our twit. Pizza got ordered and eaten; bedtime stories got read.

A phone call came, and I agreed to stay the night so our "kids" could stay together at the hospital for support. I sent Phil packing, to go home and sleep. Phil offered to come back with pjs and a change of clothes, but I've fallen asleep in my clothes many a time, and overall, I was pretty clean!

I wasn't sure how/when I'd get back to my own home, but I knew it would happen eventually, and nothing else mattered much.

I curled into bed, figuring out how to concoct a sort of night light, left the bedroom door ajar in order to listed for the twit, should he awake. Bob, the cat, perched herself on the edge of the bed, bewildered at seeing me in her mom's place. None of us, it seemed, operated on "normal."

Bob did make out the best; when else all failed, we fed her. She in turn, tried her best to convince us that we'd underfed her and she needed more. Sometimes it worked; sometimes, not. Truthfully, we knew we probably were overfeeding her, but Bob is one one persistent soul and VERY mouthy.

You know, I'm not even sure I have the above days right. I'm sitting here trying to remember Friday; I know we had our twit again on Saturday, along with twit number 1. Couch cushions got upended to become a fort. Train tracks got laid out, right at the bottom of the steps, of course. Grandpa got both boys outside for awhile, and the driveway and rocks got painted. Some trees got painted as well. Grandpa watched the two of them run to the paint, load up, and then run to the tree. Back and forth, back and forth, and not at all efficient.

Grandpa nearly suggested moving the paint closer to the tree, but stopped himself in time, realizing a lot of energy was getting spent. Energy that would not be coming back inside with the boys!

Hospital release dates kept shifting, and along with loving our twit, we acted as listeners, just there to take in information that needed to be shared - food gone missing, food that when it arrived came complete with a fly in the soup. Nurses who didn't seem to care, not even acknowledging their presence, let alone listen to and answers questions along with nurses that bent over backwards to reassure and get some food to the patient. The arrival at the second hospital thinking you were having a consult about the next step and then being prepped for a surgery you didn't expect to have, didn't quite know why you were having it, and just generally being thrown for a loop you didn't need to be riding.

We listened, not having answers, but answers weren't expected. Emotions just needed to be released and acknowledged, and that we could do.

Our patient came home Saturday night, and a bit of normalcy got restored  for him. Twit number 1 went home Sunday morning, and Phil and I decided to replenish the groceries.

Our house looked like a tornado had touched down. Laundry screamed from the upstairs basked. We looked at each other and said, "Nope."

We decided to go adulting at a favorite winery. The winery wasn't going to be open much longer, but it would be enough to restore a bit of relaxation. A glass of one of our favorite wines for each of us, and a plate of meats, cheeses, and other goodies to be shared. We sat, talked, munched, and sipped while looking out over vineyards just coming to life.

I'm almost afraid to say it, but "normal" might just happen this week. By the end of today, my house will be more or less straightened, and laundry will be mostly done. (Is laundry ever really done?)

I have snail mail to create, writing to do, and photos to take.

At some point in our future, "normal" will be upended again. It doesn't matter; we'll get done what needs to be done.

We'll all be tired and out of sorts.

But, we'll do it all with love, simply because we love.


What's Not Wrong?

Tulip with quote

"What's not wrong?" Laura asked.

She went out to point out that we humans seem to be hard wired to focus on what's wrong in our lives. Ask anyone how their day is going, and most folks will list all the woes and tribulations of the day; we seem bent on drama. It's as if sharing what's okay, or good, just doesn't evoke enough response in folks.

I think she's right; just look at the news each day. Not much "feel good" stuff going on in the headlines, or dare I mention it, the current political campaigns.

So, Laura asked us to sit for 5 or 10 minutes and simply list what's not wrong, whether they're tiny and seemingly insignificant, or they're huge. Then, we were to choose at least 1 item on our list and photograph it.

I'm finishing up Laura's on line photography course on gratitude, and "What's Not Wrong?" is the most recent lesson.

Gratitude and contentment are a huge focus for both Phi and I right now; both words have been popping up everywhere for us, whether it's the financial course offered by Michelle Singletary, Laura's course, or more.

Being content doesn't mean we don't desire anything; I could produce a list pages long for you! Instead, being content comes from making the simple decision to be happy with what I have. It means to take a deep breathe and enjoy the life I have.

And, it is a good one; it really, really is.

Honestly, this contentment gig is a work in progress, and sometimes, I am feeling rather cranky as the latest bit of camera equipment appears on an Amazon link, as we pass the newest little restaurant crowded with folks laughing and enjoying themselves, as I read about someone extolling the newest and greatest art supply. A very persistent little voice grumbles, "I want it."

Truth is, I (we) have way too much stuff; the piles that have made their way recently to Goodwill make me cringe, and I mutter, "What is God's name were we thinking?" My stuff spilleth over, and it's not what's making me happy.

My stuff wasted money, makes me cranky finding a place for it, gives me a sore back as I pack it up and haul it away.

I've long ago learned to cull the ongoing ads from Chico's, Michael's, Anthropologie, and more from my email list. What does pop up periodically rarely gets opened. Because if I do open it, I want it.

I don't need it, but boy do I want it!

So, what's not wrong in my life?

I have a roof over my head, and a husband that loves to cook.

He buys me fresh tulips and daffodils because both make me smile.

We love to go exploring new places, and we've learned that we can have an awesome time and spend little.

I have enough art supplies to open up my own little shop; long forgotten tucked away treasures are getting rediscovered and used.

My two grandsons give the world's best hugs.

Our car just ate up $855 last week; so why am I content? I could pay the bill and still have a bit left over.

I could go on and on.

Listing them was good for me; I'm keeping that list.

Because, you see, I know the cranky voices and the "I want its" will be back. I know sometimes it's not going to be fun.

Before I go to bed, I try to remember to write down one good thing about my day...a sunny blue sky, the violet's blooming out front, hamburgers from the grill. When I need to, I spill them out and look at them.

It's work sometimes, this learning to be content. It's a conscious decision to pause when someone asks me about my day, and then to tell them something that's "not wrong."

I guess you could say that Phil and I are in training to look at our life and focus on the blessings, both large and small.

So, tell me, what's not wrong with your life? I'd love to hear!

 


No Real Hurry

Space walk

I want to dance along this path

until I arrive at

that place where

the earth kisses the sky,

but not too quickly, please.

 

Because, you see

there is so much magic along the way

and I need to inhale it all,

let it mingle in my mind and soul.

 

I want to drink it in greedily,

swirl it in my mouth,

and encourage it to linger on my taste buds.

 

I've learned there's no real hurry

to arrive at my destination,

and that I will be taking the byways

and back roads

that meander through sleepy old towns,

stopping for picnics along the way,

watching the bees gathering pollen

and the butterflies nectar.

 

No, there's no hurry,

none at all.

But when I do arrive

I'll turn and look back

one last time

and simply smile in awe

before I tumble into

a brand new space.

 

 


Nestpoem

Gathering the snippets of brightly colored threads

the pieces of my life...

 

Feathers dancing

across pine needle

carpeted forest floors

 

Snuggling a pansy's roots

down into the deep rich soil

that gives it life

 

Scents of spring rain

and soup

simmering on the stove

 

Catching the night's sounds

through open bedroom windows

weaving them into a

dream catcher's web

to hang above me

 

Listening to winter stripped trees

whispering my stories

and asking for their voices to be heard

 

Grandmother wisdom

drawing close the

laughter and kisses

of those I love

building a nest in my soul.

 


Needed

Alex with legos

I need

to be with someone who accepts me just the way I am

and  loves me still.

 

I need

to spend the whole day

just doing not much of anything with this person

 giggling, laughing, being silly

doing what strikes our fancy at the moment

not even needing to leave the house

 

I need

to know I'll have this person's

complete and utter attention

promising to do the same for him

entering into his world completely

learning lessons hidden in play

forging connections

unbroken by time

 

And, I think, that this is what love means,

or at least, partly so.


Carried by the Surprise

Winter walk2
                                                                        At "Twisted Posts Winery";

"There's no excuse for being bored. There's a great big world out there with so damn much to see and do. If you're bored, it's your own damn fault."

And, with those words from Dad, off we'd go with little or nothing to spend, sandwiches packed, and open to adventure. Gas was cheap, and the possibilities seemed endless. 

I own some well traveled, time worn, oh so comfortable gypsy shoes. I use them every chance I get.

Inspiration is there for the taking, no matter what the season or weather. I just need to open my eyes, drink it in, and collect the magic. It might be a tiny seed pod from a tree, a blue jay's feather, a post card sized print from a local artist.

I might be watching whiskey get made, taking in the latest art gallery exhibit, or poking in a new to me antique shop and coming home with ephemera for my art and journals.

My husband owns a pair of those gypsy shoes as well, and just like my childhood days, there might not be much money to spend, but pack us some fresh grapes, some good cheese, and maybe a loaf of really good bread and we're set. Even a PBJ as Twit #1 calls them, or a ham and cheese sandwich, taste pretty darn good when we're off adventuring.

Yesterday's photo prompt asked us to think about several things - where we find hope or inspiration, the things that drain our soul, what we longed for, and what prevents us from acting on our dreams.

There's a whole heap of photo possibilities in those questions!

All of us experience those soul draining days, filled with anxiety, loss, fear, and so much more. Life hands them to us on a regular basis, and I'm glad I don't know what's coming some times.

 I've learned though, that I nearly always get through the problem of the day one way or the other. Strong Eastern European blood runs through me, and I carry a lot of strength inside me. A lot of stubbornness as well, which might be the only thing that gets me from points A to B at times. One step at a time, baby, one step at a time.

As for what holds me back, well, it's mostly me. Fear of what others might think, fear of not being good enough, fear of "wasting my time.' So many damn fears that keep me, and you and you and you, from really living our lives.

Leaning into this second half of life, I'm going for it, good enough or not.

Because you see, I'm doing it for me, and that's the only reason I really need.

       "I would like to live,

      Like a river flows,

      Carried by the surprise

      Of its own unfolding."

               - John O'Donohue

                 "Fluent"

 

 

 


Living the Second Half

Twistedpoststree

I'm continuing to turn the camera on me - not always directly, but the intent is to figure out what's going on inside of me, to examine my life a bit, which is not always pleasant, but never boring!

I've just started a class, "Living the Second Half" with Glen McKerrihan, perfect for me, since I'm probably in the last quarter if anything. It promises to be intriguing, not only in the sense that I'm examining my life, and where I hope to go with it, but I'm also stretching as a photographer and at times, a writer.

Like most of us, I'm a bit surprised when I look into the mirror. When did I turn into my mother and my aunt? And, where in God's good name, did those neck wrinkles come from? This peek doesn't cause despair; it just startles me. I've earned those wrinkles and more.

Plus...I'm digging this part of my life. I'm more secure in myself, in what's important to me, and what's not. I've learned to say "no" more, but I'm also saying "yes" to new things, to new ways of doing things. And, I'm doing some pruning, cutting away branches in order to let in the light. I need the light in so many ways, and I think I'll be forever stretching toward it.

I'm finding it that it's okay to not always meet everyone's expectations; battles might be the result, but so far, I've survived. Not everyone is happy, and that's okay, too.

I'm dancing with the winds of change, but I'm still rooted in what's important.

I'm learning to use my minutes wisely, spending them as I like, creating, laughing with my twits, reading good books, exploring new places and ideas.

'Cause, you know - I've got a lot of life to live! I plan to lean into it, and embrace it with arms wide open to the possibilities of it all.