(this is a post that apparently never got published back in the spring? It must have been from May? Maybe?)

It has been a glorious couple of days here in Vermont — brilliant blue skies, bright sun, a bit of a breeze and not too cold. We’ve been working in the gardens, finally getting the back garden on it’s way. We’ve changed the placement of the walkway to the kitchen door, we’ve ordered a tree for the entrance and the roses arrived yesterday.

We spent the morning yesterday at Horsford, the whole family happily hiking over the hillocks and fresh mulch to search for the trees we were looking for. Sadly, we are as yet undecided, as none of us can agree on a single tree. It’s so delightful to have the minions excited about helping build this place into a home; we obviously cannot purchase a tree they won’t agree on.

Last night, we grilled for the first time this spring, deliciously greasy sausages, asparagus tossed in salt & olive oil, peppers and onions and mushrooms on the grill pan. S began teaching the boys how to start the fire, how to grill, what to watch for, how to know when something is finished cooking, how to hold the tongs and move the food around. It’s amazing to watch how they light up, and how he encourages it.

I had a gin & tonic with dinner, and perhaps out of the faded remnant of puritanical familial guilt over such decadence, I woke up early this morning and began ticking down my to-do list like the industrious hausfrau I can be sometimes. By 10am, I had the entire list done, and have steadily been findng little things to do — calling around to find who might have a replacement battery for my watch, double-checking our upcoming sports schedules. I’ve even gone into uber-oberhausfrau mode by rinsing out the compost bins.

I rewarded myself by parking my lawn chair in the middle of our driveway (HA! take THAT, ticks!) and reading for a blissful hour. Last week, I finished off reading three books in a series (the first – ehhh, a little too frantic, the second — positively delightful, the third — omg wtf, suddenly quite disturbing in patches???), read exactly 8 pages of another series I thought I would adore (with not only knitting, but punny titles? That’s so me!) but can’t stomach another page of it (back to the library book sale it goes…), and finally settled on this one, The Summer Before The War by Helen Simonson, a book I picked up at the aforementioned book sale and haven’t gotten around to reading yet.

It is absolutely delightful, even 118 pages in, and it’s the sort of book that is just so satisfying to read that I lose any ambition to continue writing my own books. I will perhaps, instead, keep the punny-titled books around as an inspiration/irritation to keep writing books I want to read.

I’ll close with a rough transcript of my phonecall to a local pharmacy, regarding watch batteries.
me: Hi, I’m calling to see if you have a particular watch battery in stock?
him: A what?
me: a watch battery
him: for what?
me: a battery, for a watch
him: a battery for a what?
me: a watch. Like, that you wear on your wrist and it tells time
him: we don’t have watches here
me: do you have the batteries for watches there?
him: what kind of battery?
me: a 321? or an sr616sw?
him: a battery for what?
me:…………..a watch.
him: I’m looking a display and I see Duracell and I see hearing aid batteries
me:…………..are there any that say 321?
him: no, they say Duracell.
me: …………ok, thank you! Have a nice day!

I tried to buy local, dear reader, I really did. But nobody in town has the battery I need, so I ordered it online. And now I might need another gin & tonic.

current mood: blissed out

current book: The Summer Before The War by Helen Simonson

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WELP, THAT TOOK A WHILE

So, clearly, daily blogging is not for me. Well, maybe. Perhaps. We’ll see.

Last year was….difficult. Lots of growing pains and having to hack off dead wood and trim back to the roots, and any other number of applicable gardening metaphors.

Much to my astonishment, I find that this past winter has flown by. I can’t believe it’s April already, though it *did* snow this morning as I was walking the dogs, so there is something to be said for counting the date as January 312th. But, I have done so much better this year, not just barely keeping my head above water, not just surviving, but actually doing a bit of thriving and growing.

Part of it I’m chalking up to the marvels of modern medicine – I’m on a new med that I think is really making a difference. With the clearing of my brain fog is coming returned productivity and, most importantly, creativity. I have missed making things. I have missed sketching out ideas and plans. I have missed scribbling down plots and details and schemes. And it seems the more I sketch and plot and plan, the easier it becomes, the more inspired I am, the more I want to do.

Part of it is having a better handle on my daily schedule. I am volunteering all over the place, and just the fact that I have a commitment on Tuesdays and Thursdays, means I have schedule the time to do other things. Which means things actually get scheduled, and completed, and my days aren’t bleeding into my weeks, into months and years.

Time is no longer smearing by.

I’ve got one book I’m actively working on. I’ve got a bunch more I’ve made notes on. I’ve got a bunch of sketches for things I want to sew — which, hopefully, will provide enough impetus to get me to do what needs to be done to get my sewing machine out and find it a place for it to live. I’ve got carving projects I have sketched out, once I get my workbench free of all the other reno/construction projects currently living on it. I have a sweater I’m knitting for, honestly, the 5th time because I keep messing up and having to tink and re-knit — but somehow, I’m not frustrated with it. I am volunteering at our school, and the smiles on the faces of the kids when I walk in, the way they all come up and start talking to me about their day — not as a “grown-up”, not as “someone’s mom”, not as “that weird lady who keeps showing up”, but as a friend — the way a few of them come up and ask me for a hug, particularly the few who I fear don’t get many hugs at home — they mean the world to me.

So, here’s to springtime in Vermont.

Here’s to snow falling on the hyacinths pushing up through the mud.

Here’s to my beautiful roses coming up green and strong and wild, despite all that’s been done to them.

Here’s to my beloved beautiful minions, who are also coming up green and strong and wild and wonderful.

Here’s to my ridiculous pups, who are the sweetest, most idiotic, delightful pups in the world.

Here’s to having more love than I know what to do with, and living my life every day to make sure I spread that love as far and as wide as I can.

Here’s to not letting the world weigh me down, and remembering that maybe sometimes the only thing I can do is to shine my light as bright and as warm as I can.

Today’s quote:

Wherever you are, be the soul of that place.

– Rumi

Day One

I have no real idea what this blog is going to be about. I’d hoped it was going to be inspiring stories about what it’s like to come back to your home after 5 years away and all the joyous and wonderful reconnections and uplifted spirits.

But it ain’t like that at all.

I’ve come home to a place I barely recognize, where I no longer fit in – though, truthfully, with my new-found eyes, I’m nearly certain I don’t *want* to fit in here. Everything is the same on the surface, yet everything has shifted, as if the set pieces from an old show have been recycled en totale for a new one.

So, here I sit. Two years on from my 5-year adventure, 30 pounds heavier in actual weight, bogged down immeasurably by metaphorical, and feeling like I’ll have no peace until I’m somewhere else – somewhere I can walk down the street without feeling afraid of the crazed gun-toting person just waiting to pick a fight with me. Where I can wear my wacky earth-child dress one day, and my Brooks Brothers suit the next, and no one will bat an eyelash or make a comment. Where the fact that I dyed my hair bright red would not be a topic of conversation. Where my opinions are my own, and there’s no need to sugar-coat them, or try to make them more palatable. Where “No.” is a complete sentence.

Through some long talks and some not-so comfortable self-reflection, I’ve come to realize that, while potentially unnerving, the unknown no longer terrifies me. Those five years in France, in a majorly diverse University city, proved to me every day that we, as humanity, have more commonalities than differences. The unknown no longer frightens me. It’s the the known quantities surrounding me that I’m afraid of.

I’m living in an area of the US where diversity is next to nil. We’re about as homogenous as it gets, and though there’s a rampant streak of hippie-dom around here, there’s also a definite, deep-seated conservatism in others. I’m not afraid of the “illegals” in the area (they work on the farm down the road from me.) I’m not afraid of the refugees being resettled nearby. I’m afraid of Joe Regular, hard-workin’ Amurican gettin’ his news from Fox and swallowing the current regime’s Kool-Aid like it was….well, Kool-Aid.

Now, the 30 pounds of actual body weight wouldn’t be much of an issue, if it were the voluptuousness of a Sophia Loren “Oooo, too much spaghetti”. But it’s not. It’s the cram 5 cookies in my mouth without tasting them because I just want the fleeting feeling of being sated. It’s the “I’m already fat, one more Big Mac isn’t going to make it worse” defeated attitude of someone whose gone from making an effort to wearing pearls and scarves and high heels, to wearing sweatpants and winter boots and not giving a flying crap about my appearance.

Not that I’m advocating everyone should be high maintenance. I don’t. You gotta do what you gotta do. I just have a sneaking suspicion that for me, personally, I do better with the “fake it till you make it” method of pulling myself out of this depressive boggy fog.

So, where does this rambling post leave me?

I’m taking it step by step. One foot in front of the other. Today, I’ve taken a shower. I’ve put on my French clothes that  are, admittedly, a bit snug, but already I feel like maybe I can do a bit more. I even put on my favourite perfume, and a gorgeous antique necklace I bought at a street fair one hot summer day in France. I’m writing this post. That’ll be more than I accomplished yesterday, and I’m counting that as a win.