Where's the village?

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Everything is not in its place.

I have an old spice rack on my wall. It was given to us by a friend of the family, with spices still in it from nineteen-fifty-something when it was given to him and his wife as a wedding present. We immediately dumped them all out and washed the bottles, so it's a spice rack of nice clean empty shiny bottles in four rows of twelve, except for one empty space which is the saffron bottle, because I kept the saffron -- damned if I'm going to throw out something that expensive even if it's 60 years old. But that spice rack, when I can stop looking at the incongruous empty space, is an inspiration to me. It's practically my motto. They're all neat and tidy and in a spot that fits them exactly right, that was made for them. They have a place.

There's an old phrase that I like: "A place for everything, and everything in its place." I know myself too well by now to believe that I will ever have everything in its place. There are times when I believe everything is in the exact wrong place, at least in the dajamou's playroom, which then leads me to ask why am I bothering to have "places" for a four year old's toys?

But that's the thing. I have this wide-eyed, slightly panicked, clutching-to-the-floating-debris deep down certainty (read: delusion) that if I just had a place for everything, if there was a perfect box, basket, shelf, cubby or bin for every last thing this family owned, then I would be able to breathe easy and concentrate on what really matters. Things like making sure the dajamou grows up with an inherent sense of her self worth and without too many body image issues. Like snuggling with my beloved. Like maintaining the lines of communication with my family. Like reading every Hugo and Nebula award winning novel from the beginning of time. In roughly that order.

The reality is that my house is...well, OK, I'll be honest and say it's not quite a hovel, but mostly because it's big and rambling enough that the crap can spread out to a somewhat even level of entropy. Excepting, as always, the dajamou's playroom which is a slow motion hurricane at all times.

But when things get too crazy and cluttered and covered in white clouds of dog hair (they call it blowing coat, what this beast does twice a year), when the burden of it all becomes too heavy, I can turn to the kitchen wall and gaze upon my nearly perfect spice rack (gotta use that saffron soon, dammit) like a Martha Stewart mandala and feel like there's hope for order, somewhere in my world.

But I swear. If this house gets burned down, or we have to move, or pretty much whenever I ever again have to choose a new home? I am SO picking a small one. One that only has room for the necessities and that I can vacuum in 20 minutes or less. But not until I take full advantage of the dajadaddy's equipment-and-space-intensive hobbies, like mead making, woodworking, and sewing. After that? It's all about the small house, baby.

But only after.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

What Makes Me Happy.

I have been working on figuring out what makes me happy and why. Here is as good a place as any to keep a list.


1. Being "in on" things. Making memories. This is hard to describe, but the closest I can come is with examples. I love helping people move to a new house, redecorate a room, start a new business, make some kind of change. I don't necessarily have to be the architect of change, or even the catalyst. It's enough to say "I helped. I was there when that memory was made." I also love being at memorable events, like incredible concerts or plays, group vacations, retreats...I used to love being a camp counselor. Perhaps it's a way of feeling like I matter, or of proving that I exist outside my own head. A shared experience means more to me than a lone accomplishment.

2. Music. Hearing, making, experiencing, dancing. You know that question that everyone asks themselves in high school, about what handicap you would choose, if you got to choose, if you had to choose? Would you rather be blind or deaf or in a wheelchair, that kind of thing. It's kind of odd and callous in a very adolescent sort of way, but maybe it's a way of starting to grapple with empathy. I don't know. Anyway, it's always kind of stayed with me. I think the one that would hurt the most is to lose my hearing, because music has such a profound effect on me. But then again, I am a voracious reader, so who knows? Perhaps I'd compensate. This, however, is getting off the topic. The topic is, music makes me happy. It has the ability to change my mood, or enhance my mood, or let me get over myself and my mood, depending on what I hear.

3. Being with familiy. This might be a subset of Number 1, since the thing I love most about being with my family is sharing memories and experiences with them. But I think it's important enough to have on its own. In particular, I love the newest generation, the dajamou and my nieces and nephew. I love watching them change and grow and play together and develop into amazing little people. It hurts, how much I love them and miss them.

4. Color and beauty. We painted our living room bright golden sunflower two-tone yellow in our old house. And every time I went in that room I smiled a little. It never got old. Neither do rainbows, or the teensy little blue flowers that pop up in my yard every spring, or the deep cobalt blue of my enormouse tea pot, or the red cardinals and brilliantly yellow goldfinches at my bird feeder. Japanese gardens. Fireflies. A freshly polished hardwood floor. This house.

5. Traveling. I went to Greece in the 90's and it still ranks in the top 5 happiest times of my life. I love going to the Georgian Bay every summer with the dajadaddy's family. Even going back to Portland, though I lived there for 10 years, gives me a thrill because there's so much to see and do there.

Ode to Digits

As the dajamou was practicing her buttoning technique on her dress today, she created this little ditty:

My fingers are special
My fingers are good
My fingers are good
My fingers are good

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

If you think about it, it's only fair

Yesterday when dropping off her cousins at the airport, the dajamou was miffed that there's a part of the airport where only people with tickets are allowed to go, and not visitors. She asked me to take her to the part of the airport where only visitors are allowed to go, and not people with tickets. Imagine the next degree of miffedness when I told her there wasn't one.

Monday, July 16, 2007


Back from a week on the Georgian Bay. Words cannot express how much I love that place.