Moving along

Some thing’s getting done. Other things getting fucked up (by you know who — don’t ask me about aprons right now).

Will make (an unexpected) run to Salem today in order to take my sister to the North Shore housing office. She’ll be signing the lease for subsidized housing this afternoon. Hooray!

Now if only Son #2 would get a job — something, anything — if only to stave off K and me having to ask, “What is our limit here?” I don’t know the answer to that, but I do know that many families would’ve considered it reached and then some.

It is very cold today. Very. As in, bitter. But, Finn and I walked around the lake with a friend and she graciously shared stuff about the child of hers that has needed extra this and extra that.

Her words were the first gift of the week. The second is that K has agreed to come home early so that I don’t have to abbreviate the visit with my sister in order to accommodate the dog.

Off to fix and apron!

Follow through

Finishing books that I abandoned after reading 100 or so pages is having a curiously strong impact on my sense of self. Who’d have thunk? It’s empowering! Since the New Year, I’ve completed a handful of books that, absent the #theunreadshelfproject (Instagram), I might never have finished.

With that in mind, I’d like to experiment with follow through here.

This is me: tomorrow I’ll post about unreliable narrators. Then: silence.

I may then write about the topic privately; I may not. But the point is — here there’s a hanging intention, a risk left unmet.

They are often tricky topics about race or my writing or both. I get nervous talking about my novel as if to do so is to jinx it or, almost as bad, to publicly shame myself for not being done yet.

Because some planned posts involve historic references and/or nuanced ideas about ownership of stories, I can’t bang them out the normal way. “The weather’s this. Patchwork is that.” I need time. And courage.

But, the posts don’t have to be perfect, either. The ideas don’t need to be fully fleshed out. And, though this is not best practice, I don’t even have to include all the necessary attributions at the time of publication. This isn’t scholarship, after all.

I’ve already had the experience of readers giving me important clarifications or details. And encouragement. Why wouldn’t I keep availing myself of that?

So deep breath.

Austin Kleon, from “Steal Like An Artist” speaks to this.

Jude Hill models this day in and day out. One way of looking at my intention here is that I want to apply a spiritcloth approach to historic fiction. In so doing, I hope to exemplify another of Kleon’s big ideas (one that is often misunderstood) which is to say that “Stealing like an Artist” means trying to think like people we admire. It doesn’t mean trying to copy what they make (although he attempts to normalize that as well, noting that all artists learn by copying and if you want to be good copy, not one, but many).

Well, this turned into a little Kleon book review which was not my intention!


PS We got more than a foot of snow and a fourth nor’easter is on the way. Honestly, as long as K is not in Asia (which he was for the first two), I don’t care.

Snow and time

It’s coming down hard. Brush the car off one hour and the next it’s covered again — with four inches of snow! Been shaking the branches of the arbor vitae and holly.

Still finding bottle brush trees to put away.

With all the sticks littering the backyard, Finn just wants someone to play with him when he’s out back. Right now, though, he’s snoring, curled up next to K.

March is birthday month: both boys, my brother and sister in law, and my mother in law. A few pictures going back to first boy’s first year.

A little peanut in a Moses basket.

A first Christmas in Florida.

The Uncle Fester phase.

Precious commodity: sleep.

PJ’s from Korea. Pond my mother made.

Bumpers, quilt, and curtains I made. A happy chappy (Oh Lord, was there a heating pad in the crib?)

First trip to the Vineyard. Two color ear flap hat knit by moi.

PO’d kitties. Suddenly not the center of our world.

Stay warm if you’re sharing this blizzard and if not, stay cool while ever more shit hits the fan in Washington!

A last shot spit up by FB this morning. Not from his first year, obviously.

Label the room. Why not?

Labeling a room is one way to start the week. And lists are a way of life. It’s sunny. Birds are singing. And tomorrow, it will snow. They’re predicting 10″ to 12″ — but lighter this time. Still, the forecast is enough to kibosh a Salem visit for tomorrow. More time to write!

Even though my cold came roaring back this weekend, I managed to: fill four bins with twigs out back, make a necklace, cook six meals (counting Friday), clean up several rooms and vacuum the basement studio (while in pursuit of my Pfaff sewing machine cord and pedal — found!), buy and wrap a bday gift, make a tricky ask for photo attribution on FB, watch Betsy deBoob on 60 Minutes, and continue along with the creepy and satisfying Netflix series, “The Frankenstein Chronicles”.

How was your weekend? Are you watching anything good?

I’ll leave you with three selections from Krista Tippet’s interview with social scientist and YouTube sensation, Brené Brown.

“It’s really a struggle to straddle the tension of YES/AND.”

“Your level of true belonging can never be greater than your willingness to stand alone.”

Brown also cited a useful definition of civility as promulgated by the Houston organization, Institute for Civility in Government: “Civility is claiming and caring for one’s identity, needs, and beliefs without degrading someone else’s in the process.”

(Should I take back the “deBoob” insult? Maybe. But not now).

Interview here: “Strong back, soft front, wild heart.”

Back light and self pity

It’s a little funny to me that just beyond this serene house quilt is the huge mess associated with tree clean up.

Happily, my brother in law came to help yesterday, otherwise we’d really be behind the eight ball.

It’s still a bit daunting. For one thing, on closer inspection, we noticed that the tree did hit the house, so I’ll need to get an insurance adjuster out here as soon as possible (after two back to back nor’easters, I imagine they’re very busy!) More snow coming Tuesday, P.S.

With the ladder leaning on an about-to-be-cut branch, there were plenty of Wily E. Coyote jokes.

We tried to broker a meeting between Finn and his dog cousin, Ziggy, and did everything right up to a point — (starting in neutral territory, keeping a good distance, then closing the distance, then a break apart) after which it did not go well. It turned into a minor disaster, actually, because when Finn went apeshit, I slipped in the snow and let go the leash. Ziggy seems to be fine, but it didn’t prevent one of my self-pitying laments about difficult dependents.

Speaking of which, after eight years on the wait list and three application updates, my sister has gotten subsidized housing. This is the best possible news for her (and secondarily for my brother, whose financial burden will be greatly reduced). For me, it is a giant chore with no real benefit (did I mention self pity about difficult dependents?) I am happy for her, don’t get me wrong. I just wish there was someone else to orchestrate the move.

Meanwhile, these are my last few weeks to prep for Newton Open Studios. We will pay rent for my sister’s current apartment through the end of April, which hopefully will make the transition manageable.

(Just so you know, we moved all her belongings into storage in 2009, out of storage in 2010, and then had to assist with near complete possession pack up during the bed bug ordeal last year. These were the same years that we moved our sons a total of seven times).

Two blessings and a soup

Blessing one: Finn was in the house when the large pin cherry on the lot line crashed into the deck. (So was I. I watched it fall).

Blessing two: the tree landed two feet away from the house. One branch was closer: about six inches!

I was also worried about the arbor vitae on the south side of the house, bowed as they were over some power lines.

After filling the feeders, freeing these shrubs of the cement-like clumps of snow and tying them up as best I could, I made soup. Delicious soup.

Stock: two beef bones, vegetable trimmings, a cup of red wine, two heads of garlic and S&P.

Soup: one sliced onion, two carrots, one potato, 1/4 c white rice, and a few Tbs fresh chopped cilantro, more S&P. Yum!!

Sunday quiet

Thank you to those of you who chimed in on the post, “a great gust of wind.” I marked it ‘private’ this morning, sooner than I said I would.

Today I’m back to shrugging a bit and thinking, “it’s only money.” There’s more involved of course but the edge is gone — that never helpful edge.

Meanwhile, yesterday I destroyed this log cabin crib quilt by using the only functioning machine in the house right now to attach a satin binding. The tension is screwy. I’ve adjusted it repeatedly by sliding the top dial around but it’s time to get out the teeny screwdriver and adjust it at the bobbin level. Also, the needle is telling me it should be replaced — pop pop. It’s making too much noise when it enters the fabric. Every seam pulls and while I can pull back at the ironing board, it’s not always enough to remove the slight puckers. Very unsatisfactory.

It is grey and chilly and quiet, today. I plan to watch the Oscars. Do you? Next year I really have to do better. I think I’ve only seen three of the movies up for awards.