*Lyrics from Goodbye My Love by Emilie Mover from her album Mighty Time. I like this song. I even liked the whole album when I spotify‘d it. But I wanted to choose a song that I wouldn’t hear on a regular basis to reveal this bit news. I made the mistake of choosing a song I loved for my post about losing Bec, and I still can’t hear the song without crying. So, sorry, Ms. Mover, I don’t think I’ll be frequenting this song, beautiful it may be.
So, recently I’ve been dealing with a slow, but painful transition. Maybe it’s a mid-life crisis, maybe it’s just par for the course when you set out to reinvent your life, maybe it’s a symptom of accepting that your parents (and yourself, thusly) are aging, and we won’t all live forever. Anyway, no matter how you slice it, I’ve been blue. I’ve been sad, and I’ve been just muddling through.
Now, there is good news coming, so don’t fret, but it is bittersweet good news. We sold our house. Perhaps I should have written that like this: WE SOLD OUR HOUSE! We are currently under contract, and, barring crazy circumstances, it looks as if we’re going to actually close this sale, and finally move on from this stage in our life. So, even though we adore the new owners (neighbors of ours who just happened by on a walk on one of those first few warm spring days), we are (I am) so sad to let go of the house.
Suzanne, the plans they made put an end to you…*
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*Lyrics from James Taylor’s classic Fire and Rain. James Taylor equals Massachusetts to me. And this song is sad, and mournful, and at times joyful, and really feels like an anthem for the week we all just shared. All my love to the families and friends of those we lost this week.
I’m from Massachusetts. All my life, whenever I’ve left the area where I grew up in Western Massachusetts, people outside the area have assumed that if I said I was from Massachusetts that I was obviously from Boston. Now, if you’re even a little familiar with Massachusetts, you’ll know that you could never confuse the two regions (western v eastern Mass).
First, there’s the accent – ours is vacant, or perhaps vaguely Northeastern American, but not distinctive enough to make fun of (sadly). Second, there’s the city part. I grew up in a rural, farming area, where ‘city’ meant a main street with three or four blocks of shops. My hometown is approximately 30,000 people large, and the town where my parents lived in when they were married (and we were small) was populated in the three digits. One general store, one main street, that’s about it. Third was the weather. We had vastly different storm systems, often cutting diagonally through the state, with the Eastern part getting rain, and the Western part getting snow, or Eastern Mass getting a hurricane/nor’easter, while Western Mass got nothing. They were coastal, we were in a plain between ‘mountain’ ranges (sorry actual mountain dwellers, we called those short hill-ish things mountains, so that’s what they are to me). My experience of Massachusetts set a mild rivalry between west and east – although we did grow up saying wicked a lot – and we all sort of understood that you could never lump us together as a whole. Not really. I mean, sure, we all rooted for the same sports teams (but so did most of New England), and we all voted the same way (not block to block, mind you, but when averaged out there is more blue than red, but not by much), but we were different.
After this past week of events in Boston, I’ve never been prouder to be from Massachusetts than I am now. read on…
I’m waking up, I feel it in my bones*…
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*Lyrics from Radioactive by Imagine Dragons from their album Night Visions. I’ll admit to not listening to the whole album yet. I’ll admit to finding this album by the ‘top album’ feature on iTunes. I’ll admit that this video is bizarre. This song is rather pop-like, and not my usual fare, but the lyrics, and the mood suited my own today, so I used it. Maybe the album will be a good one for spring runs, or spring cleaning, or spring lounging in the sun that is finally penetrating our atmosphere and shining down on us again. Let’s all have a listen on spotify, and report back.
Spring. She took a long time to get here this year. Maybe she didn’t but it sort of felt like that these past few weeks. Probably because I’ve been living back in The Big House, and away from my normal routine with my husband. He’s never worked this much before (this is his busy season, so to speak, but this is ridiculous), and we’ve never had two homes to keep us apart. Jeff’s office is in the city (well, Brooklyn, but you get the idea) so he MUST be down there during the week. And I’ve got my own things are brewing back at home, working on a new project with Dave from Innovative for some amazing clients on an amazing house. I’ve needed to be nearby for time-sensitive decisions about plans, materials, budgets, etc., while Jeff has needed to be buried in his work for his own time-sensitive deadlines. So we’ve been experiencing the season apart from one another, and our own work has kept us from having any real quality time.
So, this spring, which is finally springing forth, is really a long time coming. read on…
Everybody knows that crime pays, and everybody loves it…*
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*Lyrics from Bear Hands‘ Crime Pays song off their album Burning Bush Supper Club. Jeff’s been telling me about these guys for a while now, and this song, well, it seemed relevant to the current mood in the world. At least some pockets of the world. (And it’s a great album – every song of theirs that came up on Pandora I ‘liked.’)
I’ve been thinking non-stop about the events in Newtown (who hasn’t?), and considered joining the conversation. And then I heavy-heartedly sighed. So then, I thought, ‘maybe I should just bake something instead?’ Right? Much better idea. For as many legitimate discussions are cropping up due to the madness (and the sadness), and as opinionated as I am about it all, I think I’ll leave it, just as I’ll leave the emptiness alone. Sometimes, talking about something (or sharing countless images, or names, or candlelight vigils, or articles, or opinions) makes it worse, even when intentions are good.
So, for the latest installment of Kitchen Monthly (which I should really re-rename Kitchen Wheneverly), Pumpkin Pecan White (and Brown) Chocolate Chip Muffins, anyone? read on…
You’re every thought, you’re every thing, you’re every song I ever sing…*
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*Lyrics from All I Do Is Dream of You from Singin’ in the Rain. Easily my favorite musical, and my go-to for an enjoyable bit of movie watching (especially when recuperating from several minor ailments). Plus, the lyrics can easily go non-romantic when you think about painting. Which I constantly do.
A few weeks ago, I was absolutely out of my mind, bonkers, needing to paint something. Anything. I was like Gene Kelly in Singin’ in the Rain running around yelling, ‘Gotta paint!’ Seriously, it was becoming a problem. So I pulled out a small canvas I’d gotten on sale ages ago at Michael’s, and just went for it. We had limited time – had to get the house ready for a showing, and had to prepare to head back to the pied-à-terre – so I just barreled through. Crashed through my burning desire to build something, to witness that change, and to have something (besides muffins, brownies, or cookies) to show for it.
Rough draft. I think that’s what I’ll call it. read on…
And what we knew, that life is gone and it’s hard without you…*
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*Lyrics from Lavender Diamond‘s song I Don’t Recall from their 2012 album Incorruptible Heart. This song captures the melancholy, introspection, and grief that this time of year brings up in many of us. It’s not all Black Friday tramplings, and Cyber Monday identity thefts, you know. Some of us care about more than that. 😉 Ok, and I miss the doggie.
The diminishing sunlight, the chilling temperatures, the influx of cold and flu season, the pressure of holiday hoopla, the inevitable changing of the calendar (and in my case, aging, as my birthday falls in late November) all makes for a reflective and challenging time of year. It’s when we all take stock of who we are, what we’ve done, what we haven’t, and why. It’s when we try to express our love for our friends and family in impossibly small increments of time, with gifts that cannot measure the gratitude we have for each other, with traditions that sometimes don’t mean much, but feel supremely important in our near hibernative states (let’s not forget that cold and flu season is gearing up, too). With all this pressure to look forward and backward simultaneously, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and a bit, well, unprepared.
That’s why I’m making a list. Not of gifts, not of groceries, not of resolutions, but of simple tasks to keep my brain (and spirit) moving forward. Not selling the house this year was a time-consuming setback, more emotionally than anything, but I’m refusing to let that keep me down. My list will include minor upkeep on the house, mini-projects to keep my creativity flowing, and simple tasks (like hanging art, changing paint colors, or clearing out junk drawers) to remind me that even when the big things don’t go as you’d hoped, you can still accomplish little things that will bring you joy. I’m after you, joy. You can’t escape me. I’ll grab ahold of you whether you like it or not.
I’ll be home for next year, darling, I’ll be home for next year…*
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*Lyrics from Next Year by Two Door Cinema Club off their newest album Beacon. I’m pretty smitten with their up-tempo songs – great for running – and their overall modern, pop, alternative vibe. It’s so exciting when a band you found that you really liked releases a new album. It’s like a fresh start. I needed that.
Well, sadly, I’m here to announce: we didn’t sell our house. After four months on the market, we decided to let the listing expire, and take the winter off from trying to sell. The stress of having to keep the house in museum quality condition – and that means it’s virtually impossible to do any crafting or art of any kind, since those activities always make several days of clutter and debris – was getting to be too much. Plus, with Thanksgiving only a week away, and then Christmas right behind it, we’re going to want to be free to un-stage our house to make way for guests, gifts, feasts, and celebrations. Who can do that if you have to drop everything to get the house ready for a showing? Not I.
We’re hoping to re-list the house in the spring, when, possibly, the market improves, and the weather lifts. This cold snap brings the reality of shoveling, and muddy feet (thus mopping, mopping, mopping) that would surely lengthen our preparation time for house showings. But, you can always check out our house room by room by searching for (you guessed it) ‘house tour‘ in the archives, or view a briefer tour at our house tour tab. And there’s always our house’s very own website which will stay up for now (just sans MLS#). We’re (obviously) incredibly proud of all the hard work we put into the home, and are sincerely sad to leave it (which is why we’d rather just enjoy our time here during the winter). Hopefully, a lucky family will come along who simply MUST live here, and the house will end up in the care of a dedicated and loving family. Until then, this is our reality.
Not ideal, no, but what can one do? We’re going to try to make the best of it, and do things that normal people still do to their homes: hang art, decorate for the season, possibly spruce up a wall or two (I might, or might not, have a stenciling problem). So, I’ll have more things to show you, eventually. And I’ll get around to finalizing our pied-à-terre. So much was going on simultaneously that it’s been hard to complete anything, let alone photograph it.
Well, I hope you’re all well. Disappointment is hard to cope with (as some of you know from last Tuesday’s election results), but it is a part of life. I am choosing to see this minor setback as an opportunity – to create, to play, to linger, to reassess. What do you do to cope with a disappointment?
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I wasn’t going to put yet another opinion about who to vote for, blah, blah, blah, on the interwebs, but, well, I felt I had to. I’d like to say that I don’t really care who you vote for, that the important thing is that you DO vote. But that’s not fully true. I do care who you vote for, and it DOES matter to me. Now, I can’t make you believe in my point of view any more than you can convince me that I should believe in God, or that I should have 12 babies. We all have our own paths in life, and we all have the right to do as we see fit.
In the wake of the storm surge that inundated the Northeast last week, and in light of my fervent belief that with great power comes great responsibility, I felt it was right to talk about it. Responsibility. People on the (political) right speak of ‘personal responsibility‘ a great deal, and they speak of things like liberty, freedom, and other abstract notions of basically doing whatever the fuck you want, whenever you want to do it. (Maybe they don’t mean it that way, but the deregulation that many of them call for makes me believe that they don’t really believe that we are responsible to one another, for better or worse.) I don’t believe in that sort of way of thinking about culture, society, and each other.
Ok, sure, you want to own a gun, and I don’t want to stop you. But I don’t want you to shoot me. So, what do we do? We make rules, and we abide by them. We all agree on some basic things: it’s not okay to murder, steal, torture, etc., so we enlist law enforcement and legal systems to deal with people who break those rules. What strikes me as odd, however, is how often the plea for basic health services is seen as some sort of lazy entitlement; or, how the desire to care for a people’s elderly or infirmed (and I include mental health in this) is seen as weak, or unnecessary. These so-called ‘social programs’ are there to protect the greater population from the failure to look after our weaker, or harder hit citizens.
We all share in the benefits of having a huge country, with plenty of natural resources, coastal ports to import and export goods from, from the ability to feed our own people from our own land, and to engage with the world from a position of great economic power. But, with that power comes the responsibility to look after our own – when the storm surge hit the entire coast of New Jersey, vast swaths of New York City, Long Island, Connecticut and Rhode Island, did we as a nation say to ourselves ‘eh, too bad for them, eh?’ No. We commended the efforts of our political leaders to put aside the petty squabbling to do what is right. To use some of our collective power to protect those read on…
When I give my heart, it will be completely…*
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*Lyrics from When I Fall In Love as sung by (gulp) Celine Dion. I know, I know! It’s sort of cheesy (ok, a LOT cheesy), but, well, I’m a romantic, and a sap. And I started out with a different song in mind, but something in the lyrics of this one spoke to the nature of the vows that were given (not taken). And the video is wretched, and has nothing at all to do with the loveliness that was this past weekend. But the Doris Day version seemed too sad… and not what I wanted. Oy, ok. Just, insert your own tune, but know that you cannot fall without giving yourself to the fall. You cannot receive the love, you must give it. That’s how it works. Ok, moving on.
So, I have several blog posts written, just waiting for pictures. Which will be taken when things get a little more finished, or when I get back in the habit of photographing things as I go along. I’ve been a little rushed, and a little overwhelmed of late, what with having the house on the market, also trying to home-ify our pied-à-terre, all that bouncing back and forth, packing and unpacking, and then making a trip to lovely northern California for Jeff’s cousin’s wedding (more packing, and unpacking). We may not have shown you our wall paint selections for the flat yet, or have any news to report regarding the sale of our home, but we did manage to take pictures of our trip, and it was spectacularly lovely.
Head down as I watch my feet take turns hitting the ground…*
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*Lyrics from Beyonce’s Smash Into You. I know this song isn’t about running, but it could be. If you weren’t Beyoncé. And you didn’t look uhhh-may-zing in just a leotard and a flowing, chiffon cape. But, again, we’re not Beyoncé, are we?
Several months ago – after a particularly rough year (emotionally) following the loss of our doggie, and succumbing to the default setting that I have that encourages me to eat, drink and try to force myself to feel merry even when I’m sad, lonely, and grieving – I decided to start to try to get back into shape. Just like many of us, I do this every few years, because it often doesn’t stick, or because I allow my emotions to control my eating and exercising habits. This time, though, I wanted it to stick.
Part of my strategy for growing a new routine in my life was to get help. Luckily for me, Jeff was willing to tackle the project of revamping ourselves together. Without his support, and his partnership, I doubt I’d have a shadow of a chance to change my ways. I also made my intentions public to my friends on Facebook, to my family, and to myself. I bought an app for my phone that would help coach me along, and set my goals at really small, incremental (read: realistic) steps that would allow for interruptions – things like traveling, family time, and personal wellness days (ladies, you know what I’m talking about) – to be included in the schedule. I set goals, and together we met them.