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Archive for the ‘gratitude’ Category

A simple old life.

 

I love these things about my simple life.

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1. important messages writ large in sidewalk chalk.

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2. The 3 year old who lives at the end of the block bringing offerings of little yellow wildflowers because she is (not so) secretly hoping that you can be easily persuaded to share the aforementioned sidewalk chalk.

3. Sharing your sidewalk chalk.

4. Onions!

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5. Blue food!

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6. Daisies

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The little hill outside my studio is covered in a blanket of wildflowers and tall grass. The neighbor’s cats stalk through it as if they were tigers in the jungle. My own cats watch with envy, confined as they are behind the windows of our cabin. They are fat LA housecats, after all, not woodswise. Sometimes we let them out on the deck to roll about (supervised) in sunbeams, but that is probably as close to tiger-hood as they will ever come.

What was it that Bilbo once said? It is no small thing, to live a simple life. And I’m grateful for mine.

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…in a word? Bloody brilliant!

The weekend started out spectacularly when I fell down our stairs at 5:30 in the morning (that’ll larn me to try to walk without coffee) and pulled and strained a bunch of things that are best left unpulled. Like knees.

I discovered the wonderful Blooming Lotus – a husband and wife duo who teach yoga and make the most stunning wind chimes you might have ever seen. These are works of art and a set of amethyst and copper chimes followed me home. They were promptly given to Captain Sexypants, because I love him and something so beautiful could not possibly exist without me wanting to give them to him, along with the moon. Seeing as how the moon is impossible, windchimes it is! They were technically a birthday gift .

I’ve heard it said that “True Love Waits” but in this case True Love was pushy and started whining until the Cap agreed to unwrap what was in the shopping bag RIGHT NOW, two days early, instead of on his actual birthday.

Sometimes True Love gets like that.

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Love the fire patina on the copper and all those rough stones. They are making our back deck rather fabulous. I’m a little worried that between those, the zen bells and the Tibetan prayer flags all over our front porch, our neighbors might think we’re pinko hippie liberals. Or something. Heh.

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Musical high point of the whole weekend was definitely this Celtic rock band called Stand Easy. I got a huge kick out of them. Their show was a lot of fun!

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All I have to say about that is, “wow.” Their singer/piper fellow John is really nice and wow can he ever rock the pipes. Throw in a pair of stompy boots, a fetching chapeau, a kilt and er, hello there Mr. Bagpipe Rocker Guy! You make the world just that much better with your bagpipes and your music (not to mention your knees, not that I was looking at them. Well maybe a little.) You just keep doing what you’re doing, ok? It’s working out fine. Carry on.

Seriously though, aren’t we all just sooo grateful for Scottish rock bands?

Thanks, Celtic Faire!

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The huge horrible task of taking our very overgrown and wild yard down to bare earth and creating a fire-safe zone around the cabin is done. The last of the bags of detritus went off to the slash pile this morning. Oh there’s a spot here or there, I suppose, but for the most part we are ready to settle into some kind of routine maintenance.

Of course now that I say that, I think, “Oh but we have to put in pavers by the front walk and I wanted to lay down pea gravel on the parking berm and… and… and…” and the Captain looks at me dubiously, knowing that the list of things that start with, “Honey Please Help Me Do This…” is growing. And not that I blame him, you know. There is reading to be doing. Always. Pea gravel and pavers can butt into book time if you let them. The trick is not to let them.

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We are in the process of demoing our back deck, which was rotten and squishy.  A little disconcerting to look out the back door and see an 8 foot drop. The cats keep running over and meowing anxiously at the window. “Hey guys? Uh. I hate to tell you this but, someone stole our deck.” Like the little plastic castle, it seems to be a surprise every time.

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I have big plans for spring. New bird feeders and some bird baths, a stone path to the creek, and perhaps a little bridge up the daffodil hill where the fire pit lives. I am slowly creating what amounts to bird nirvana in our yard.

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My birds are a source of unending delight. I will miss them when they move south for the worst of the winter.

 

The pace here is slower and quieter, but richer somehow.

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There is more room for thinking and less noise to keep you from it. I feel like we are just now starting to get into tune with it and soon winter will be here just when I am starting to adjust to autumn.

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As the year gets darker, I am grateful for the act of building the morning fire, of stacking the firewood,  and cooking dinner with the Captain… that rhythm is kind of like a heartbeat. The cats do their part, making sure I am laughing.

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Living is different here. I like it. The other day was cold, so I put on my warm coat when I went out. I felt so grateful to have it, so grateful for the simple feeling of being warm. At some point I just started taking things like that for granted. There is a lot of gratitude. Not the deliberate practice of coming up with a list each day, just the sense of thankfulness that comes because you are genuinely glad that something is real or true or exists in your world. Small things, big things, things you can’t touch… I swim in it daily.

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Darkness, messy yard, and all.

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The Nuthouse is finally beginning to resemble a place where someone lives. The weather has started to turn from hot hot summer to crisp autumn. Days are still warm, but the nights and mornings… oh they aren’t so warm. The Nuthouse is very snug though, when it is cold outside. We have a great little woodstove. The cats really approve of that. Ollie, in particular, has a great affection for the stove.

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While they’ve all been exploring the pleasures of radiant wood heat over the last few days, Ollie was the first of our crew to really commit himself to the experience. Because he is brave and intrepid like that. Two points to Team Tuxedo.

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We had a hell of a rainstorm yesterday. Thunder and lightning, several bouts of hail… you know you’re a jewelry maker when you are looking at the hail stones and offhandedly think to yourself that they look like 10-12mm quartz beads. It was over by dawn and we had bright blue skies when I woke up today. The cats and I were beautifully toasty inside, with the fire crackling in the stove providing a counterpoint to the drumming water on the roof and the BOOM! flashes of light and sound going on outside.

It was all kinds of beautiful when we got up this morning.

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Steam was rising off of every surface as the sun hit it. Moss, the deck, the chairs, our neighbor’s cabin. I’ve really never seen anything like it. All shades of wood and brown and green with sparkling water drops and cottony white puffs of mist. I looked at all that and thought to myself, you know, how do you even do something like that justice? How do you share that? I don’t think you really can. You can try. But some things really just have to live in your experience. Then again, a camera helps.

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It is breathtaking and beautiful and the world is somehow all washed clean, just like after a rain in LA, but in a totally different way. The thin layer of ash that was clinging to this part of the world seems to have been washed off, and all the colors are more vibrant today. I know they say that the Rim fire won’t be fully out till the first snow, but I hope the rain helped the firemen a little bit at least.

I have an Autumn Morning After Rain necklace in my mind. All crystal drops and leafy peridot against a darker framework of woody browns and golden yellows. There’s a story that wants told.

I love it here.

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I think my favorite part of moving in is finding the little things that make something feel like it’s yours, like you live here and not some other person whose life is unfamiliar. I love making a new place pretty and it’s been especially fun with the Captain.  I put a few of my things out, he puts some of his things out, they go on the same table and viola, at some point, it becomes ours. A painting I gave him sits near a framed photo taken by a woman he lived with decades ago is next to a thing my ex husband gave me while we were married. I am kind of glad to know that love endures and what was precious remains so. That even though time can change the shape of a relationship, the relationship can carry forward in a new incarnation. I like that as we put our home together, we are making space for who we were before these four walls.

It’s nice to walk into our bedroom where I hung the pretty blue candle holders, where his mattress is covered with my quilt, where our dressers frame the window and his funky velvet chair makes a reading nook next to the table I painted, and think, “Hey this is our bedroom that we share.”

It’s a work in progress. But we’re doing it together.

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One of the things I’ve tried to keep in mind as we’ve set up camp is that saying by William Morris (which I am going to paraphrase) to “Have nothing in your home that is not both useful and beautiful.” Everything we’ve kept is something we’re happy to see when we need it and I think that’s probably rather the point of having things. Yes it’s risky to use the “best” Franciscan vintage plates for every day and they might break, but, why-ever would you not? Life is risky and things break and sometimes they don’t work the way you expected.

You should probably just use the good plates.

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Even with all that, space is problematic. We’re finding ourselves having to creatively repurpose things. For example, a DVD rack on top of the old living room bookshelf makes a pretty good china cabinet.

I know.

It looks like a DVD shelf sitting on a bookcase.

Just, pretend.

Travel to the world of Pure Imagination. There now. Isn’t that a great china cabinet? Of course, the trickle down theory of using bookshelves for china cabinets means that this has created issues around storing our actual DVDs and books, but, that’s also a work in progress.

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The cats are starting to settle in. Panoramic Bird TV at every window is endlessly fascinating to them.  I have decreed that here on the mountain they are all still Indoor Cats. Here it is not so different from Altadena’s foothills in that we have coyotes, bobcats, raccoons, foxes and other things that would like nothing better than to nosh on a fat, crunchy on the outside, cream-filled cat snack. Soon they will learn that life for Indoor Cats up here on the mountain includes cosy woodstove mornings. I don’t think they’ll mind those.

No, it isn’t one bit like what we expected.

It’s way better.

Life is funny like that.

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Holy cow, we made it.

We moved in.

We live on top of a mountain, now.

And now? Settling in with a nice cup of tea.

My favorite tea is from Harney & Sons and is their Russian Country blend. It’s a substantial cup that manages to be delicately, delightfully smoky. Kind of like the mountain right now. The Rim Fire is still only 80% contained but pushing back up towards wilderness and granite and not so much towards houses anymore. There are fewer firemen on our side of things, though I’m told they will have crews out here until the first snow. “The first snow.” People up here say that like, you know, it just snows like a normal thing that you can expect, like a train or the mail, which I guess it does. There’s going to be a first snow and then a second snow and a third, until it’s all snow. That’s usually the thing they say before they eye my little red Honda and say, “You have a 4wd, right?” and we say, “Uh. No. We’re working on it.” and they say, “Good. Because, you know, you’ll get a LOT of snow up there.”

You know. A lot of snow. Like you get, like a normal thing.

Our boxes are slowly becoming a stack of broken down cardboard, and the house is slowly taking on a new life, pieces of our previous lives mixing up to make something entirely new.

Seems like a good time to stop and make a cup of tea.

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The view up here is lovely and it is quiet, and maybe the kind of place that makes you realize that you haven’t really sat down and stopped and enjoyed a cup of tea in a long long time. Oh sure you’ve had a cup of tea, but your mind has been racing on to the next thing and you haven’t really Been Here Now in any kind of meaningful way. Maybe not in years.

One of the lovely things about a nice cup of tea, of course, is that it can make the world slow down a little bit, if you let it.

 

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Even the social scene is changing and bringing new friends who are happy to stop by for a drink and a chat.

Life on the mountain is good and a little bit smoky.

Kind of like a nice cup of tea.

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The Rim Fire

Our moving truck is supposed to be here in 3 days to load up, and then we will be moving into our new home in the Sierras, right? Well, not so fast there, cowboy. The Rim Fire is burning a hole in our plans.

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photo credit – Steve Ryan (some rights reserved)

The folks on the fire lines are nothing short of Big Damn Heroes. Thank you, National Guardsmen and women, Cal Fire and the Forest Service, and all the other small crews and departments from around the state (and indeed, the country!) that have contributed resources to fighting this blaze. Y’all are remarkable.

I went on Flickr and found some photos that are ok to show here under creative commons license. If you want some others, clicky the link above.

Rim Fire 2013
photo credit – CA National Guard – some rights reserved

Rim Fire 2013
photo credit – CA National Guard – some rights reserved

I feel pretty anxious about it all, but what are you going to do? I guess this is an adventure we are having. My thoughts are with those displaced by this blaze and the folks whose homes are in its path. Two leggers and four.

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