i worked at the bookstore this morning. filling in for a friend. and we had a busy afternoon with last minute things for the latest house project we're doing. we take possession tomorrow and we had to get the cheque at the bank and take it to the lawyer as well as have our final walk-thru at the house. driving home from the lawyer's i noticed a woman walking. everything about her seemed smooth and unruffled. yoga pants and pea jacket. scarf. and a pleasing aura of calm. i'm not even sure she knew she had this gift. i'm intrigued with the idea that i could wear the same clothes and my stride down the street would certainly not be unruffled. i can easily find a shield of calm when i need it in my tangle of energy, but it's the effortless polished visual that i covet. something that very few have naturally. once effort comes into play, the beauty of it is destroyed. i was reminded today how each of us is presented so differently to each other. fascinating.
we are home. happily and safely home. and i'm getting my early morning tennis fix watching the australian open mens semi-final match between ferrer and murray. it always gives me a boost of energy for my day watching the masters of my favorite sport show their stuff so powerfully. this only happens during the australian, that i can get up an hour or so early and catch an hour or two of live tennis before my day begins. it is one of my very favorite things. when i was very little i connected with the game and very soon i understood the magic of it. i grew up far from tennis courts and didn't really know how to muster up someone to play with anyway. so i took over the north wall of our house. there was only one window, high and in the peak of the wall, and it faced a large treeless expanse of grass. i would spend hours hitting against the rough limestone wall that sent back erratically angled balls that i would chase down. i was often chris evert in my mind. or my favorite player at the time, tracy austin. and then john mcenroe came to town and won my heart. his loudmouthed rebel ways were perfect for my own tween attitudes. tennis is a passion that has owned me far longer than any of the countless passions that fuel me. the game has changed. the faces have changed. but the fire it lights in my life stays the same.
i think we live a fanciful life. it's ideal for us. so why do we need a break from it? why a vacation? we are able to spend most of our time together anyway? and we set our own hours for the most part. why take the time and spend the money to escape our perfect little life? i ponder as we are packing up the room today. we're leaving this evening and making serious plans for our return visit. we wandered the beaches all week together. we planned our day around 3 criteria.....beach time, eating and....i guess it was just 2 criteria. we both read most of the day by the waves. i mentioned before.....that was when i knew luxury was afoot. when i had nothing to take me away from reading. i brought 4 books. and have just begun book #4. tom brought 2 books, both of which i'm interested in reading as well. so we are nicely stocked. if i finish mine today, i'll bust into the one he just finished. our library consisted of 'the crossing' by cormac mccarthy; 'the englishman's boy' by guy vanderhaeghe; 'half broke horses' by jeannette walls; 'the sentimentalists' by johanna skibsrud; 'divisadero' by michael ondaatje; and 'the paper garden' by molly peacock. i loved noticing as we wound through the oily brown bodies poolside, that i could find the canadians based on recognizing the books they read. so, off i go to read away the last few hours of our vacation beside the sea, in the hot sweet january air of jamaica. tomorrow we'll be reading next to a fire in the january weather we are more accustomed to.
we are in the last few days of our holiday. rested. relaxed. massaged. skin finally smooth and recovered from the dry furnace air at home in canada, but sun-burned in patchy places where the sunblock missed. today book #3 begins....the biggest luxury of all, reading. over 1000 photos on one sd card, with more cards waiting in the wings. and a week of being together without needing to organize or plan or remind about anything. it's been exactly what we needed. and one of the surprising little gifts of our vacation has been adam. we met him at our first meal and he has been our waiter every day since. always greeting us and making us feel welcome and special. we always have a little chat about our day. and he tells us about his life. we look forward to breakfast and lunch because we know adam will be there to brighten our meal. and make sure we never need coffee or juice. but the service is an aside.....it's the warm conversation that makes our meals such a pleasure. we will miss the sun and the ocean and the laziness. but we'll really miss our daily chats with adam.
not only did tom have to convince me to leave my beloved compound of home & studio and to fly again after 12 years, but also to vacation on a resort. the idea was as distasteful to me as leaving our home and hurtling 1000's of kilometres through the air. i've always loved to explore when i travel. settle into a place and stay as long as possible, learning what it's like to be there, to live there. i felt embarrassed at the idea of a resort with everything catered to the softness of north americans and europeans. i thought the plan of being at a resort as pedestrian as sitting beside the pool and drinking daquiries. but we wanted to relax so here we are. and it's wonderful. the jamaican people we have met are warm and lovely. we learn about their families as they learn of us. the beach is private and relaxing. the buildings are majestic with colonial stylings. dark woods and bright white walls. the food is fresh and we never have to just grab fast food. wonderful fresh fruit and vegetables at the ready. our balcony sits over the ocean and we listen to the waves all night. i am happy for a week here to soak in the sun and get warm and sleep and lose all the tension for a week. but i still want to explore the real country, the island i've learned to love vicariously from my many wonderful jamaican friends. that will be next year.
the winter despair that was beginning to creep into everything i did has been eased. i have the sweet humid air of jamaica to thank for it. and my husband with his wonderful idea of travelling to get some sun this year. i have spent the past decade refusing to fly, terrified at the idea. although i lived the first 30 years of my life flitting happily about the globe, something broke in me and i could no longer do it. tom has been trying to get me to go somewhere as long as i've known him, and i always refused. but this time, thanks to some sound advice from sheila coupled with the self knowledge to realize i could not hold on to this fear forever, i finally agreed to vacation with my husband. i was filled with dread and didn't know how i'd actually go through with it. but here we are, after a lovely smooth flight. and i think the spell may be over. my broken spot healed. and walking on the beach with my man, the warmth of the sun on my skin and my bare feet in the sand in january.....it's fabulous.
the lake froze last night. yesterday there were waves. cold and choppy waves. and this morning there was only still ice. overnight. and tomorrow i'll be on warm sand next to open waves in jamaica. so much changes overnight.
i am drowning in winter. being a grown-up is just too complicated sometimes. winter is a childhood pleasure. forts and snowballs and skating and sledding and snowmen and hot chocolate. the specialties of winter. the smell of wet wool, the scrapy sound of snowpants rubbing together, red chapped fingers & cheeks and peeling lips. and the slapping floppy sound of unfastened boots hurrying to or from school. i remember rushing to catch the bus to school, half running and sliding on the frozen puddles with an open coat and a bag of lunch, up the quarter mile tree-lined lane to the road from our house. the bus was extra creaky in the cold. and a few times it slid off the narrow gravel roads and into the ditch in heavy snow and ice. and we'd wait while one of the high school boys would walk to the nearest house to call for help before hitch-hiking home. and even when the bus was on schedule, it was usually dusk when i climbed off the bus and headed back up the lane in the late afternoon to the glowing windows of home. and i could smell the warmth of the kitchen before i reached the door. winter didn't seem difficult at all.
the early morning cups me in it's warm dark hands. when edgar wakes me and drags me out of bed before i naturally would, i have an hour of groggy lazy morning time. the furnace is running with a constant hum clearing the chill of night and replacing it with a warmer house. i have a fire on as well and the cats are curled in front of it, arranged around edgar who, ironically is fast asleep again. i am sprawled on the couch with a laptop propped across my legs desperately wanting to use this hour to it's fullest. it's a good hour. the house is quiet and clean, but the most i can do is get a glass of water and stare at the computer. my eyes sting from waking just a little too early and there is a kink in my neck that will hopefully stretch out over the course of the day.
it's a velvety time watching the sky grow smoky as it lightens and turns from night. and that is all i really need to do....watch the morning arrive and awaken with the day.
most people have quite defined opinions about cats and i can readily admit to loving them.... although ours perpetually drive me crazy for one reason or another. there is a distinct sensuality about cats that cannot be denied. the ability to adjust discomfort to something beautiful is the cats greatest ability. it is on the coldest day of the year that you find a cat curled and warm in a pile of quilts and feather pillows. they know how to always enjoy the greatest comfort despite the circumstance. finding ellsworth tightly curled on the settee in the window on quilts and pillows this morning, created a cozy warm feeling in the house despite the harshly cold temperatures outside. and on the hottest day of summer, seeing the cats sprawled and swaying on the porchswing in the shade of the cool stone wall makes the air seem a little less heavy and the breeze a little sweeter. it is a gift they share with us.
for years i painted. i thought it was what i would always do. i was driven to paint. but gradually my painting was replaced. a few years ago i worked in an art supply store. i had been sure that this was the ideal part time job for me. a truly perfect place for me to while away time, fantasizing about the brilliant potential of the materials at my disposal, organized on shelves for me to choose from. going home with bags of paint and wonderful papers and canvases. but i found the days endlessly long. there was a lifeless and wretched quality to those days. i couldn't understand it. how was it possible that i could be bored. period. i am never bored. ever. and here i was wandering between the shelves going mad with boredom. and i started to analyze it. the art materials were quite pathetic, actually. stiff and empty and meaningless, waiting sadly. static. dead. there was no vitality. they were quite ridiculously depressing until they were used. until they become the art they are dead materials. and i think the contrast is a sharp one when compared to the bookstore where i also work. being in the presence of books all day is powerful. the ideas and knowledge and power of story leap among the shelves with an energy and speed and sparkle that is impossible to muffle. there is no waiting. the work is complete and present and real and true. i make art from books. the pages steeped in age and thought and image and brilliant skipping energy motivate me and find me and engage me while i find my own new language in them. for 20 years or more i had used old printed pages in my work, attaching them to paintings, incorporating them with ease. but without knowing when or why, the pages took over entirely. i may have grown disenchanted spending too much time with the dead, soul-less materials, but i believe i was heading on this journey regardless.
throughout the wintry months, i usually bask in the cozy cave of our house. i read by the fireplace, watch movies, drink tea, cut paper, make collage, and as always, build quilts. the more winter rages outside, the more content i feel. and although our mild winter has been anything but raging, i've come to a point this year where i need to feel some sun. warmth on my skin. grass between my toes. it's been at least a couple of months since i was barefoot in the yard and i'm beginning to dream about summer. i found this photo of our living room window looking into the yard and it stops my heart a little.....the open window. the smells of grass freshly cut and the trees flowering. the breeze off the lake with the lake scents. and the sounds.....the birds, the cats, the squirrels, the children, the boats and cars.....all of it wanders in the window with the breeze. i often notice the scents and sounds more when they drift in the window than when i'm outside in the midst of it all. maybe because the house is quieter and darker than the outside. i'm eager to breathe warm air again and to be awake with the sun at 6 am feeling fresh and ready for the day. just a few more months.....
well, now i have to write a new number at the end of the date. a new year poses all sorts of aesthetic dilemmas to me. i haven't yet written 2o11, but it changes the face of my journal and receipts and memos....anything i scrawl the date on. today is gray and rainy and dull, a perfect day to get used to a new year. we had a neighbor extravaganza across the street last night. and now i'm spending the day getting used to this new year. absorbing the feel of a new expanse of time. is it so different from yesterday? i'm told it is. but i just see the numbers changing.
i feel like quilts are alive. they reflect all the little joys that make life special. they emanate love and warmth. the quilts i make blend a grandmother's ideals with a fresh youthful flair. there is a nostalgia for seasons past combined with hopefulness for a bright full future. you can find me online at www.chasinglightningbugs.com