troubles melt like lemon drops

04.2014 philadelphia storylife imitates art, two smart sassy redheads and four charming handsome boys (two of whom have four paws, admittedly). mornings off – be they good friday or just a nice weekend – sometimes just mean classic movies in our robes in bed. i think philadelphia story is the perfect vehicle for james stewart, and had i been tracy lord, i can’t imagine picking dexter over him. any man who will carry you elegantly up through a nighttime garden singing ‘somewhere over the rainbow’ is, drunk or no, in my estimation, worth keeping.

good friday is rainy and damp here, but no schedule and no timekeeping and no chores except from the assembly of the traditional nine-egg lemon tart for easter. no one is ever excited about the lemon easter tart except me, but it i remember eating it in australia, in a tiny one-room farmhouse, and thinking how fresh and wonderful and perfect it was. it stays with me, those simple happy memories, and sometimes a ritual can just belong to one person. lemons are spring to me. lemons are the taste of new life and rising suns and risen sons and lime tinge in the trees.

blessed, and thankful for it.

20140418_175021~2and just in case anyone thinks we are very serious around here, this.

IMG_20140418_103906#catladyproblems, insert smiley face and xoxo here, darling emmett, our little lanky james stewart of the day.

 

spring malaise

“Perhaps what we call depression isn’t really a disorder at all but, like physical pain, an alarm of sorts, alerting us that something is undoubtedly wrong; that perhaps it is time to stop, take a time-out, take as long as it takes, and attend to the unaddressed business of filling our souls.” – Lee Stringer

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I have a spring cold, and all of the suddenly nice days have made me perhaps a little depressed too. I know, I’m contrary. Worst winter of the decade, I’m fairly chipper, give me some sunshine and pollen and it brings me to my knees. I think it’s partially the uneasy feeling that I should be doing something that I’m not or enjoying the sunshine or riding a dappled pony through a field of daffodils or doing a triathlon instead of what I’m actually doing, which is usually sitting on the couch.

Some days there’s nothing for it except rest, and fresh food, and maybe flowers. I’ve also spent a fair bit of time on the couch with Season 6 of ‘Mad Men’ (and coincidentally, recently found January Jones has an Instagram feed, and if you can get past the endless parade of absolutely spectacular selfies, her hashtagging and commentary is pretty funny and clever).

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IMG_20140407_101229I don’t get sick very often but when I do, I am a miserable human being to be around, disheveled and bleary and endlessly contaminating shared surfaces.  So it’s nice to have one little soul in the world who can tolerate me at my worst. (As much as I love it, my neti pot does not have a soul, so it doesn’t count.)

It used to be Grey Cat, and I have been blessed by whatever benevolent wind blows around this universe to have found another.

IMG_20140405_100637Emmett, of course, in his softer moments when he is not trying to escape from Alcatraz or knock pictures off the walls or swing on my Japanese lantern or tear his litterbox apart or find some birds to chew on.

#thisiswhywecanthavenicethings

(suck it, January).

in like a lion, out like a – well, a lion.

it’s april 5 and last night we had a fire in the fireplace and the wind howled around the eaves. there were two nice days last week and i got out and ran on one of them, 4 miles at lunchtime in a chill windy sun. i love the sound of the red-winged blackbirds swaying in the reeds. i run down and around and up, over thawing mud studded with deer prints, curious bones being churned up in the roadside thaw, past fallen trees and a tiny mirrored pond that in the summertime will have a turtle sunning itself. then i come back and see the office building and slink between all the polite cars in the parking lot, smelling like a wet dog, blowing and sweating and still half-wild. it’s like my alter-ego, and i come back and shower and put my work clothes back on and sneak back to my office, feeling rebellious and pleased and only slightly apologetic.

03.2014 redwinged blackbird

every day that we see the sun, i try to get us outside, especially on weekends. i like this teetering on the edge of the spring precipice, oddly, because i know once the balance tips over things will go fast, the warmth and green will come in fast forward and before i know it be full summer, blooming towards ripeness and rot.

03.2014 geese on ice03.2014 lambs03.2014 sandhill cranes 03.2014 swan

 

“He’s got that New Orleans thing crawling all over him, that good stuff, that We Are the Champions, to hell with the rest and I’ll just start over kind of attitude.” ― Chris Rose, 1 Dead in Attic

a week in new orleans – when one is supposed to be spending long days in an expensive, work-sponsored academy training – just isn’t enough. i need to go back, when i have more time and more energy to explore all of the little shining things and time-worn bits of a polished old world that peek through the dirt and the cheap beads and dive bars.

03.2014 sarge and suitcase03.2014 poydras street, nolathe hotel was on poydras street and i found it off-putting. it’s a big brand hotel and my room was cramped and dirty. the first day, i was too tired and out of sorts to do much more than sit through my classes and observe the view from my room.

03.2014 old wall nolaon the second day, the sun was out and the sky was blue, and i escaped at lunchtime to wander through the concrete labyrinth of the warehouse district. i don’t know how people don’t just stop and stare constantly at the brick and beams and old things.

03.2014 sunshine nolathe sun was a nice visitor, too. after the hardest winter in michigan, i felt like i could dose on vitamin d for days and not get enough, my cheeks were pink and slightly sunburned and it felt wonderful. that night, we had a sponsored dinner at a nearby restaurant which, as one of my fellow attendees amusedly pointed out, felt like a VFW hall. buffet lines, drink tickets, and a zydeco band, a bare dance-hall feel, fried alligator and bread pudding. maybe we would have danced and drank more if we hadn’t all been strangers, pulled together from different parts of the country, a brief stop and three days of camaraderie is not enough to build real friendships on, funny how the world intersects our paths, for what meaning?

03.2014 hotel monteleoneon the morning of day three, i was finally brave enough to get up early and explore before class, seeing the side streets of new orleans still unconscious and recovering from the evening parties that never end, a ceaseless engine of careless mechanical gaiety that brings new tourists every day, every week, every year. i feel sorry for the city, it must be exhausting to start that huge cheap engine without ever stopping to rest, like a terrifying carousel of lights and leering clowns and shrieking music, no respite. yet the city is long past caring, the streets aren’t friendly, they have seen a million like me and will see a million more, they are oblivious to their own tired beauty.

03.2014 st. louis cathedral nola03.2014 cafe du monde nola

the coffee was wonderful, the cafe full of chattering staff in paper hats pulling chairs off tables, clattering, streets damp outside. a busker setting up with a trombone under a flowering tree, a wrought-iron fence, a brick sidestreet. the beignets made me feel sick, the heavy greasy sweetness, so i left the bag on the bench and knew someone would find them.

 

 

03.2014 jax beerso much strange beauty and every day the sun comes up in humid, steamy splendor over the river, and there are so many sudden moments of quick passing loveliness. you could easily miss it.

03.2014 sunrise 2 nola 03.2014 sunrise nola03.2014 pigeons nolai will be back. i don’t want your beads or your bourbon street, though, i will stay off your carousel. i just want moments like this.

03.2014 sunrise windows nola

bucket filling

I really limped into the homestretch of the weekend – it was a long week of hard work. There was a “three states in one day and back” kind of day, and a “going away party for a Japanese friend” kind of day, and a “kindergarten Valentine’s day party” kind of day. And this weekend I find myself alone, which is a bit anxiety-producing but more than likely a much-needed respite and an excuse to be as ridiculously lazy as I can possibly be. In kindergarten they teach the concept of bucket-filling – filling other’s buckets with kindness, and filling your own with things that make you happy. It’s a kind of private magic to have a good stretch of time to just be quiet, to drift around the house cleaning and thinking and not talking, watering plants and doing little projects and refilling birdfeeders and falling asleep whenever I want and trying new recipes. It leaves me feeling a little stronger, my light shining a little more brightly.

I have a stack of new books from the library – I love it and hate it when everything on my reserve list comes in at once, such pressure – and there are some awesomely bad old movies on the movie channel to look forward to, including the piece de resistance, The Gorgon, a masterpiece of schlock. I just read this which I wanted to share. I have a raggedy old chair and some milk paint in case I feel motivated enough for a project, and I have two boyfriends with stripes, whiskers, and paws to keep me company. Posing beautifully with books is just one of the things they’re good at.

02.2014 emmett & goldfinch 02.2014 sarge & soviet cooking

hold on

I read somewhere that you shouldn’t talk about weather on your blog, but I think that’s only for people who actually believe that other people read their blogs (which I don’t) and anyway, it’s kind of the only thing to talk about around these parts right now. My weeks have been reduced to sleeping, driving (sometimes up to 2 hours or more one way), working, driving, eating. Every day dawns in some repetition of slate grey arctic cold, more snow or wind chills. I know, we live in Michigan, what do we expect? I guess I would expect that the schools would be able to function in these conditions. Tons of snow days and more to come, not always because of snow but also because of subzero wind chills. Safety first, I suppose, but at this rate Snoop will be in kindergarten until July, and for working parents, it’s just no joke to have to accommodate this kind of situation.

With the lack of routine, my fitness has fallen off, I have a brand new  pair of beautiful Mizuno Wave Rider 17s that haven’t come out of the box yet. I hate running on a treadmill, there’s just no joy in it, and the temps and deep snow and ice have made it inadvisable to try to run outside, even for a runner who vastly prefers and enjoys cold running, like me. We eat well, lots of vegetables and fruits thanks to our weekly organic produce deliveries, but I’m taking a multivitamin supplement to help with my D3 levels and trying to drink fizzy vitamin / mineral supplement packets a few times a week as well. I haven’t been outside long enough to get sufficient vitamin D, I’m sure. I’m trying to respect the body’s natural tendency towards dormancy during the dark months and reading some good advice on how to work with that, especially from This Original Organic Life and Portland Apothecary.

We are trying to do fun, small things and enjoy the world around us as always. I try to treat myself to the shows I love on TV – Sherlock and Downton Abbey are back, as is Justified, Sleepy Hollow finished with a cliffhanger – and trips to local places new and old. Ikea is great for a day of overwhelming amazingness and frantic consumerism in the best possible way.

01.2014 ikea cartsLast night we visited a Japanese market and sushi bar (in the middle of another snowstorm, natch) and Snoop used chopsticks for the first time. We loved looking at the new textures and colors and foods, browsing up and down the aisles.

01.2014 japanese fishThere are swimming lessons for the little one and nights with the furry boys in front of the fireplace.

01.2014 sarge sleeping 01.2014 swim lessonAnd even though it feels impossible, every day gets a bit longer and we are tilting back inevitably toward the sun, hold on.

01.2014 sunrise