Because of Your Short Hair

It’s always going to be there. I keep thinking I can leave it behind.

Last week I told Boo I was going to be at her end of the year party. And she asked me not to. But then she said, “but Daddy can go.” Insert knife to heart. When I asked her why she didn’t want me to go she said:

because of your short hair.

Me: Why does it matter that I have short hair?
Boo: Because the kids ask: why does your mom have short hair?
Me: And what do you tell them?
Boo: Because she had cancer.

She thought my hair was short because of cancer still. As if it didn’t grow anymore. I told her that my hair is short now because I just choose to keep it that way. And then we came up with a handful of answers she could use instead like:

Maybe the same reason you have short hair?

Because she’s lazy.

Oh her? No idea who she is.

But seriously when I thought about it, the truth is that I am lazy. Lazy about hair. I don’t want to spend time doing my hair. I can get ready in 5 minutes flat and no hair dryer needed, ever. But yes sometimes I do wish I had my long, flowing locks, but I’m not sure I’m ready to give up the freedom I have without them yet.

And I realized that there are things that my daughter will forever attach to cancer. Like the loss of my hair. She doesn’t remember about the hospitals, or the surgeries or anything else. But she remembers my hair. And so I’m torn just for that reason on keeping it short.

beforeafter

And then I realized along with the hair that I’d also never really fully recovered physically. So, last week, I took a big step and signed up for Crossfit.  And I signed Brett up too because we can go together first thing in the morning. And we already know 95% of the people there, because it’s a very small town. And yes it’s a little intimidating but I’ll make up my own rules like I always do. The sign that said “no water breaks” on the wall? I broke that rule 5 minutes in. I think it’s going to be really fun…except for snatches. I definitely won’t do a lot of snatches.  I’ll be taking water breaks during snatch time. Yeah, you can’t make me. I’ll throw a silent tantrum. Plus I can’t stop laughing at the word snatch…just like I can’t stop giggling when someone says the word beaver, or balls. I had to say the word penis the other day at the vet and I almost choked trying to hold the laughter in.

Maybe one day I’ll mature. A little. And maybe I’ll grow my hair back out. And maybe I’ll be able to climb up a flight of stairs without being winded.

Speaking of beavers, I tried repeatedly to save 2 baby beavers last week. They kept trying to cross the road. When someone asked me what I was doing on the side of the turn to Deep Creek I told them:

I’m saving baby beavers!

I was even going to make a sign that said: watch out for the baby beavers.

And then they turned out to be groundhogs.

Honest mistake because I swear this sign has a groundhog on it, not a beaver:

beaver

 

Dang. I have no idea how beavers hijacked what was supposed to be a slightly-serious post.

P.S. Let me know if you have any other answers Boo can use. My snark ran out.

 

The Poetry of Earth

This weekend we spent a lot of time outdoors. Brett teaching Boo about her paddle on Fontana Lake:

paddleboarding2

Bryson City Outdoors (BCO) has paddle boards you can rent right at the Finger Lake.  Brett, tiny Maximus, and one of Brett’s BCO partners Ben and his dog Lager:

paddleboarding

When Brett was about 10 feet away from shore Max jumped in and swam for it with an audience watching from shore. I’d say he’s a brave little guy…but really I think he’s more crazy.

Yesterday we hiked to Andrews Bald. The drive up 441 to get there is pretty amazing in itself (it starts at Clingman’s Dome):

drive up

It’s about a 3.8 mile hike roundtrip. A little rocky in places but a great moderate hike for almost any level if you take your time. I love the balds because you can see for miles and miles, there are no trees obstructing the view. Sometimes I can’t believe places like this exist, pretty much untouched by humans except for the narrow trails we’ve left:

grassybald

Logging the hike in our “nature” journal:

journal

I keep a journal because I’ve found that if I have the intention of writing things down I see more. My mind looks for ways to describe a place to someone else. I love this line from  John Keats:

thepoetryofearth

I don’t know exactly what he meant by that, but my own takeaway is that the earth is itself poetry. This place has been pretty much the same for thousands if not millions of years. It will outlive us all a million times over (unless we get sucked into a black hole filled with asteroids.)

Sometimes I’ll pick up a rock or a flower or notice a new tree or animal and wonder: What if I’d never seen this? And it starts a continuous process of looking a second time, and then a third and soon I’m pulling apart a patch of clovers to see what world lives underneath that I may have been missing. And there’s a whole world underneath. 

When I was younger I wanted to be a forest ranger. At some point that dream was shifted and molded into a career path that wasn’t necessarily my own. Not that I want to be a forest ranger now, but isn’t it an odd thing how we shift our innocent, passionate young dreams into what we think will be more acceptable and secure?

All the big people are simple, as simple as the unexplored wilderness. They love the universal things that are free to everybody. Light and air and food and love and some work are enough. In the varying phases of these cheap and common things, the great lives have found their joy…so simple we are, so little we want, we are wise and will get what we want… -Carl Sandburg, in a letter to his wife 

And then today I’m sitting outside with my dogs because I can’t feel good about myself if they are locked inside staring out the window. And there’s the drone of a yellow jacket hovering nearby and I’ve decided to be a little more tolerant because there must be some use for the yellow jacket right?  I can’t think of one but surely there is some important task for the yellow jacket. I’ve slowed my pace of life and I wonder if it’s possible to gain momentum while simultaneously slowing down? I remember learning in school, maybe in physics, that it takes like 25 miles for an aircraft carrier to stop moving because of the force.

Anyway, onto some kind of point here. If you’ve never visited a bald…you need to. Because when you get there you’ll stand above the whole world and I think you’ll get it. And maybe you’ve felt that before. Up in those kinds of high mystical places, or maybe it was on a long stretch of white beach. My friend Jodi calls it a whoosh.  I think it’s where fear and hope and reverence and joy all collide at once.

And sometimes, like poetry, you can even find little galaxies of stars there:

galaxies

The Raptor and the Mourning Dove

Today I heard a huge “boom” right outside my window. The dogs went wild and ran from door to window to door. As I peeked out our big living room window I could see a hawk upside down moving his wings a little. I locked up the dogs and went outside to see if he was okay. HIs little chest heaved just one or two more times and then he was completely still. I yelled at him trying to shock him back into this world, but he was gone.  Lifeless. Poor little guy. To the right of me was another bird, its neck broken, in a pool of blood. It pretty much died instantly when they both hit the side of the house going about 100 mph. Normally I wouldn’t share a photo of a dead animal but the hawk was so beautiful. Those yellow-rimmed eyes, still wide open:

hawk
At first I thought that it was a pigeon that had been killed but it turned out to be a mourning dove. I won’t share that photo, even though it’s also quite beautiful I think with the thick crimson blood and the closed periwinkle eyelid, some normal people might have an aversion to it. But I did draw it:

IMG_6354

When I was reading about the mourning dove today I learned that it is the closest relative to the extinct passenger pigeon. Coincidentally I wrote about the extinct passenger pigeon on Instagram recently.  I’d found an origami version of the bird in the September 2014 issue of Smithsonian Magazine:

origami

The last wild passenger pigeon died in March 1900, shot down from the sky by a boy in Ohio. The last one in captivity died at the Cincinnati Zoo in 1914. Her name was Martha. She didn’t live the best life. (imagine being the last of your kind on earth, an elderly zoo attraction in a cage, with no friends, i.e. planet-of-the-pigeon) Her body was saved though and you can see her at the National Museum of Natural History through the end of this year. In 1860 there were estimated to be almost 3.7 billion Passenger pigeons. Then they were hunted to death. Not one left.

“MARTHA, last of her species, died at 1 p.m., 1 September 1914, age 29, in the Cincinnati Zoological Garden. EXTINCT”
(photo source)

Martha,_a_Passenger_Pigeon

(You can read more about Martha here.)

Speaking of taxidermy, because I know you are super interested, right? I’m reading a book right now called Still Life: Adventures in Taxidermy. It’s kind of a memoir about taxidermy. Randomly picked it up at the bookstore.  I’m all for taxidermy to preserve animals, I’m just not a fan of it for the sport of killing trophies.

Honestly, for a split second I thought about the idea of keeping the tiny hawk and having him stuffed. But…the House on Hospital Hill is not the Biltmore Estate.  We don’t really have a place for skinned and stuffed animals. Plus I’d have to go through crazy hoops probably to get salvage permits and who knows what else.  The vultures around here keep leaving me feathers and it’s illegal to even keep those according to the North American Migratory Bird Act. Even if it’s from a dead animal. I doubt there would be a federal raid if I kept just one, but I won’t take my chances.

Have you heard about the Rauschenberg’s assemblage art Canyon? (You can view it here I don’t want any part of Migratory copyright infringement of bald eagle art.)  I was following the story a few years ago. Basically Rauschenberg’s piece contained a stuffed bald eagle which meant it could never be sold. According to the heirs of an estate that owned the piece that one little fact, in theory, would give it a value of zero for estate taxes. But the IRS placed a value of $65 million on it, which carries a huge estate tax:

“The IRS is saying you have to pay the tax. If you sell the work to raise the money to pay the tax, it’s a criminal offense and you go to jail.” -Ralph Lerner, art dealer, as quoted in Art News. 

It was eventually donated to MOMA. No charitable deduction with a value of zero.

Sorry total tangent there. But I do think the use of discarded objects by Rauschenberg is very relatable to vultures in a way.

Anyway, it takes all my energy not to keep a feather…because I’m constantly picking up little things here and there for the shadow boxes we have.

vulturefeathers

Seven vultures were just staring at me yesterday morning from a tree in our yard. FYI: they don’t like to be talked to. One by one they picked themselves up and flew away:

vulture

The vultures use the thermal air currents to fly with very little effort. I watch them all the time and they are so peaceful and unassuming, rarely flapping their wings. Just gliding. I think they are a great symbol for floating through life and I think a vulture feather carries a message with it: use your energy wisely. One circled me the other day…literally just about 50 feet away, just hanging out. I could see her eyes and then she flew off. Just curious I guess. Or maybe the crows told her that I give away popcorn occasionally on the tree stump.

I know I’ve written about this before but it’s primarily why I left the two birds for the vultures today.  A sky burial:

I re-watched the movie Kundun a while back and was reminded of the sky burial that Tibetan Buddhists use at death. The vultures  scavenge the remains of the dead, giving them second life.  There’s a powerful part in the book Last American Man where Eustace Conway’s horse Hobo breaks his leg and he shoots him and leaves the body for a year:

He left Hobo where he’d fallen. He wanted the vultures to eat him. He knew that the Native Americans believed vultures to be the sacred transport, the means by which a spirit is delivered from the earth up into the sky. So Eustace left Hobo there, where the birds could find him. Which means that, even today, whenever Eustace is working outside and sees vultures drifting in the air, he looks up and says hello, because he knows that’s where Hobo lives now.
The Last American Man, Elizabeth Gilbert

(amazing book btw, I read it straight through and didn’t sleep for a night)

A year later Eustace went back for the vulture feathers, to collect them and to put them somewhere sacred.

Every time I see a vulture drifting in the air I say hello too. And thanks.

And as Whitman put it: What stranger miracles are there?

The circle of life.

Rest in peace little raptor.

Rest in peace little dove.

Faith Hope Love and Luck

St. Patrick’s Day is my father’s birthday. He would have been 68 today.  I’ll always wonder what he would have looked like as an old man, at 80 years old like my grandfather was. They’d probably look very much the same. He’ll always be forever young now. But I know he sees what we are up to these days!

Did you know that each leaf on a 4-leaf clover stands for something? Faith, Hope, Love and the fourth for Luck.

 

(click here for the story of these 4 leaf clovers)

clover

Boo is still on Spring break…and it is instantly spring here in the mountains. We left last week to the remnants of snow and today there are flowers blooming.  Boo returning from a walk today with Max:

max

I love this time of year.

flag

To Tell a Better Story

Recently I’ve been working on a course by Storyline for creating a life plan. I thought it might direct my biographical writing a little more if I had a process in place because otherwise I have zero process.  One of the first steps in the course is creating a timeline of significant turns in your life, both positive and negative turns.  I had Boo list the big events she remembers in her life so we could make a timeline for her too. I thought it would be neat to look back on later in life and see what she thought were significant events…something I wish I’d done earlier on.

Things she listed: my father’s funeral (she remembers the bagpipes and the hearse); when I was diagnosed with cancer (she doesn’t remember much, just that I had cancer and lost my hair); the time she was wrapped in wrapping paper at a party we hosted for our church’s youth group and she was crying from being claustrophobic inside, moving to North Carolina, starting a new school, and getting her dog Max a few weeks ago.

Timeline

At first I was really sad and disappointed that her memories have been mostly sad and traumatic up until our move to NC. (How could she not remember that birthday party?  Or Christmas? Or the time we went to Disneyland?) I made each event into a little strip and taped it to her timeline and when we looked at the events together she obviously noticed the same thing.  After a few minutes of contemplation she asked me to change the rules of the process:

“we don’t have to put things that just I remember, you can help me remember big events that were happy that I was too little to remember”

She is my greatest teacher. And it’s true…we need other people to help remember our stories, the perspective of another lens to look at our life through. A biography to compliment our autobiography. My timeline takes up 4 pages to her 1…but her 1 pager is already such a great story. My job is to help her see that.

The cool thing is that no matter how crappy things have ever been at times children can see the positive changes we make in our lives…the impact of being determined to tell a BETTER story. Living that out.

I love this quote:

“And once you live a good story, you get a taste for a kind of meaning in life, and you can’t go back to being normal; you can’t go back to meaningless scenes stitched together by the forgettable thread of wasted time.” –Donald Miller, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years

We can edit our own life. Always a rough draft. I have this quote cut out and pasted into one of my journals:

I have already lost touch with a couple of people I used to be. -Joan Didion

One night Brett asked me if I knew what my purpose was in life. I answered: I don’t know, and I don’t know if I will ever know, but I think I get glimpses of it.  I don’t think we are ever supposed to know, otherwise it would be like we’d reached our story’s arc: hey, I know what my purpose is! now I can retire at age 37!  It seems like it would be all downhill from there. I think we do get some signs to help us head in the right direction, sometimes they are u-turns. And so I can reinvent myself every day towards the story I want my life to tell. I can safely say that I may never find myself, and I’m okay with that.

It’s never too late to be who you might have been. -George Eliot

 

 

 

 

Snow Angel Bombing

Today is the 2nd snow day this week.  Boo and I stayed in all morning and watched the resort cam of downtown Bryson where we could see Brett working on his building and the snow accumulating at the Great Smoky Mountains Train Depot. Then I asked Brett:

Hey, will you stop by the train depot parking lot and do a snow angel for us?

And I captured it:

It made our morning.

You can view the resort cams live here:

Bryson City Resort Cam (at town square)

Great Smoky Mountains Railroad Cam (at the depot below our house)

Hope everyone is staying warm today. A few views from our small town of Bryson City yesterday:

Morning snow:

bryson1

Early afternoon clearing up:

bryson3

Venturing out for lunch:

bryson2

 

And this morning…

Snuggling in with Max who just had surgery yesterday:

bryson4

Walking to the neighbor’s:

snowday

I’m just glad to be here!  I was flying back from Seattle on Sunday and my flight was cancelled from Atlanta to Bryson City.  I had just gotten off a long flight at 7pm:

flight

Because of the forecast I knew if I didn’t get home Sunday night I wouldn’t be able to get home for a few days…so I rented a car and drove the 3 hours to Asheville to pick up my truck. There wasn’t a single solitary soul at the Asheville airport at 1:30am when I dropped off the rental car.  A little eery.  I cranked up Ruby, checked her transmission fluid, and drove the remaining hour and half home to Bryson City.  As I drove I thought:

I have never been so content, after navigating the cities and airports and highways and rental cars, to get into my rumbling little 1982 truck and drive the rural winding mountain roads of NC at 3am.

And this is what was waiting for me on Monday morning…our first snow in Bryson City. Probably Max’s first snow ever…he’s not so sure about it:
snowangel

Who Can See the Wind

On my way to Patti Digh’s Life is a Verb Camp last week, outside of Hendersonville, I stopped by the Biltmore House to walk around. At 4pm it felt like I was the only one there, not a person in sight on the South Terrace:

Who can see the wind? Neither you nor I.  -Christina Rossetti

biltmore3

The wind was fierce and cleared the sky of everything below cloud level, making the landscape seem unreal:

biltmore2

Did I just step through the wardrobe? Or maybe into Wuthering Heights? Jane Eyre! That red maple looked to me like a cross between Medusa and Merida. While walking back to my truck I paused and then made my way back to find out its name:

 Red Cutleaf Japanese Maple (dissectum atropurpureum).  aka Medusam Meridaum.

biltmore1

I just got really tired. I think this will be the end of this post. Hopefully I spelled everything right.  If not just consider it a new word.

P.S. I think I need a Jane Eyre quote just to wrap this up…and this one stands out because someone recently asked me if I knew what an automaton was.

“Do you think I am an automaton? — a machine without feelings? and can bear to have my morsel of bread snatched from my lips, and my drop of living water dashed from my cup? Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain, and little, I am soulless and heartless? You think wrong! — I have as much soul as you — and full as much heart! And if God had gifted me with some beauty and much wealth, I should have made it as hard for you to leave me, as it is now for me to leave you. I am not talking to you now through the medium of custom, conventionalities, nor even of mortal flesh: it is my spirit that addresses your spirit; just as if both had passed through the grave, and we stood at God’s feet, equal — as we are!”
― Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre

P.P.S. automaton: a moving mechanical device made in imitation of a human being (i.e. C3PO I guess)

Begin at the Beginning

Sometimes I have so much to tell you I don’t know where to start. I write things down in bits and pieces in word documents, journals, emails to my self and I even dictate while driving.  It all piles up for a few days and then it’s too much to pare down into one post. So I have to choose what to write, what to save for later, and what to set free into the black-hole-of-writing-that-no-one-will-ever-see-for-eternity.

Begin at the beginning and go on til you come to the end then stop. -Lewis Caroll

Starting at the beginning? That would take forever. I don’t have forever. I’ll just start at the part about exploring the lake bed this past week.  This is what the lake bed looks like right now:

Fontana Lake Bed in Bryson City, NC (at the 288 boat ramp)

In the winter the lake water is let out of the Fontana Dam to prepare for the spring rains.  I think it’s the most amazing thing in the world. I always want to know what is at the bottom of a lake or river. I always imagine it’s pretty dark and sinister.  In my mind I see old rotted out trucks, like in Fried Green Tomatoes, but it really isn’t like that.  I guess I expected to see a lot of trash and discarded stuff, but I wasn’t prepared for all the clothing we saw: jeans, khakis, a prom dress.  A lot of people lose their clothing in the lake apparently.  I wanted to stop and pick it all up because I thought it would make an interesting art project:

Clothing Found in Fontana.

If anyone would like to fund this “found clothing” project or collaborate let me know…because I need a partner willing to pick it up and wash it out. Or I need one of those long handled picker-uppers.

Among all the discarded clothing we found the old bridge from Highway 288.  It wasn’t really lost, but it’s usually underwater:

Fontana Lake Bed (and bridge) in Bryson City, NC (at the 288 boat ramp)

Speaking of writing that ends up in the black-hole-of-writing-that-no-one-will-ever-see-for-eternity:

Google God be one of us
Kubla gob blah on the bus
Boobs got blah I want no bus
Kubla got that one of us
Google got that one no bust
Good luck out that one of us
Could look up that one of us
Luck got that one of us
But the bus got that one that best
Go but I got the one that must
Got butt no one noticed us

I was trying to get my phone to transcribe “Gooba gobble one of us“, that scene from the 1932 movie Freaks. Instead I got 11 lines of gibberish. I saved it anyway. It’s good stuff.  Boobs got blah I want no bus.  I couldn’t have come up with that if I’d tried.

Last night we visited our friend George (who is a cook at the inn) and his wife Deborah at their house on one of the Fontana coves.  I love when directions around here are:

Drive down the highway
Pass the mulch piles
Turn right
Drive until the road ends. 

If we’d tried to use the GPS it would have said we needed a ferry. GPS doesn’t work here. It’s like the Bermuda Triangle. So we followed the written directions and drove until the road ended. And found George. He was on his tractor. And the craziest thing is that you can’t even really tell that the lake reaches this point except for the docks and boats sitting at odd angles on the ground in the little dish-like hollows:

lake fontana2

 

And now I’ve come to the end for now.

Full stop.

Darn…that’s not even a full story.

But sometimes I see a really beautiful story being written right before my eyes and it just hasn’t been lived out quite yet.

I wrote this in my journal this week, a note to myself:

Find things interesting.
It’s all interesting.
The blah days turn into “neato”…
…if you look hard enough.
It will keep you going.

It’s not poetry. But maybe this is: Boobs got blah I want no bus.

 

 

Our Lives are in Chapters

Earlier this week we made a new friend.  One who is going to bulldoze a house to build a new one.  He let us spend some time in the house to see if anything was worth salvaging.

Here’s what I didn’t expect: the wide range of emotions I felt as we went through the house.

All of these:

Elation: I need shelves and this is the mother-load.

Anxiety: I know someone who could use all of this chicken wire. I know someone who could use this dishwasher. I don’t have a big enough truck. What will become of all of this!?

Embarrassment: Is this kind of like dumpster diving?

Greed: I want all of these old bricks. I don’t know what I’d make with them yet, but I want them. Just because I can. 

Awe: I haven’t seen one of these in 30 years. 

Humor: This IS kind of like dumpster diving. I am a dumpster diver.

Gratitude: So thankful for this opportunity.

Sadness: Look at these old papers and letters from the original owners. Receipts from her antique shop she ran, newspaper clippings saves, cards from loved ones.  These people are long gone now.  And from this pile of memories they were once very much alive.

Nostalgia: Walking through this old house is like deja vu: the blue carpet, the parquet flooring, the ceramic tile, the blue and white kitchen.

Nostalgia because 11 years ago we lived across the same golf course in a very similar home. We’d purchased it from a family friend. The house was deemed a tear down so basically we only purchased the land it was on. But a lot of hard work made it a home for us:

our Charlotte home back then 

ouroldhouse

I learned to reglaze windows, we renovated bathrooms, and every winter we had a huge oil tank refilled so we would have heat.  I loved the history. I loved finding old photos of the family who lived there before us. I loved finding traces of the old wallpaper and bits and pieces of past lives in the big scary basement. And while working in the yard we would get visitors from the golf course, people would stop by and say: you live here?  this is amazing. And it was a source of pride. And then one day we decided to walk away from it…we sold it to another family friend who we knew would tear it down and build something brand new:

the rubble of our home

bulldozedhouse

Brett: Would we have been happy in this life?

Me: I don’t know. Maybe. It’s all relative.

Brett: I guess we’ll never know.

Me: And that’s okay too.

Oh the questions: Would we have eventually torn down the house and built a larger one? Would we have been able to appreciate such a beautiful home with huge newer homes going up all around ours? Would we still be working at the banks we’d worked at?  Would we have enjoyed the country club life?

Does any of it really matter? It’s just one or two chapters.

The thing is, earlier this week, we ate at the country club with my family a few nights. I felt so much nostalgia for the place. My sister told the waitress how we’d grown up there and even our grandfather had been a member.  I remember the humble beginnings when the pool house was just a plain brick rectangle where we purchased frozen candy bars and greasy cheeseburgers.  I love the life my sister and her husband have created for themselves there. I love the life my brother and his wife have created there too. It’s for them. It wasn’t for us.  And that’s what makes life beautiful.

And the replay of questions:

Would I have had more kids if we’d stayed in our old life? Well yes probably.

Would I have been diagnosed with cancer and lost my ability to have more children? Maybe. Maybe not.

Would we have millions in the bank if we’d stayed at our investment banking jobs. Quite possibly.

I don’t know.

I don’t know.

And I don’t have to know.

I can live in the questions.

I can find safety there too.

And sometimes I wish for a tablespoon of it all here and there.  Can this kind of life be a side dish?  No, not for me.  Because I know myself and I bend myself all out of shape because of what others are doing. And in that chapter I would have never seen my husband except for on the weekends. And in that chapter I would have had to hire a nanny to watch the kids so I could work 16 hours a day downtown. There was no way to balance it all. Sometimes there can’t be baby steps, there just has to be a huge leap.

And I think back to that house we were salvaging in pieces only a few days ago: The people who lived in that house probably had similar questions and dreams. Did they live their dreams? I hope so. But now they are gone. And it reminds me how short and fleeting life can be.  Their whole life in a blink of an eye. The passing of time marked by boxes of newspapers, antiquated postage and vintage greeting cards.

We’ve walked away from a few of those chapters already and might just walk away from a few more.  And those chapters pass in the blink of an eye too.  A blink of an eye. A millisecond in all of eternity. But here our lives are happy and full of joy, and it’s not that we didn’t have that before, but it’s much richer I feel. There are varying degrees of happiness and joy. I was re-reading parts of Under the Tuscan Sun this morning and these passages hit me like a ton of bricks:

Wonders. Miracles. In cities, we’re less and less capable of the imagination for the super real, ground down as we are by reality. In rural areas, close to the stars and groves, we’re still willing to give it a whirl.

Is it a whim? It feels very close to falling in love and that’s never really whimsical but it comes from some deep source. Or does it?

I think this rural-ness will be a long chapter, and the thing is….I’m always willing to quickly admit that I was wrong, and shift directions. It wasn’t always that way…. but now ….it is. Now I know that we lose a part of ourselves in the process and we leave things behind that other people would refer to as assets. We walk away from country club memberships. We walk away from sweat and hard work in a house only for it to be bulldozed, shoveled and dumped. And sometimes we grieve for what might have been and the idea of it all. And sometimes we fall in love and we quickly fall out of love. And then sometimes we stumble across opportunities to sift through what others have left behind, and someone else’s trash is another person’s treasure. And we are humbled, and we learn and we grow. And we end up gaining.

And yesterday when I heard the wheels of the tires hit the gravel at the inn I felt a sense of relief.  The crunch is oddly soothing and the way the truck rocks back and forth on a country road is something I’ll never grow tired of. Choose your rut carefully is that old saying.  Right now I want my rut to be gravel and rocking back and forth.

And I just write it all down so that I can live it all twice.

Writing about this place, our discoveries, wanderings, and daily life, also has been a pleasure. A Chinese poet many centuries ago noticed that to re-create something in words is like being alive twice. –Under the Tuscan Sun

If You Like Old Stuff Like I Do

Visiting my family in Charlotte, Brett and I went to the mall today. It was like being a fish out of water.

Me: Um, what is this?
Saleswoman: A shrug.
Me: Really? What are the holes for?
Saleswoman: Your arms.
Me: I don’t get it.
Saleswoman: Are you from another planet?

Ok just kidding she didn’t ask me that. She just walked away.

After escaping the mall, we spent the day salvaging a few usable items from a house that is being torn down.  Everyone’s trash is another person’s treasure…especially if you like old stuff like I do. Brett found some old hardware and fixtures, and I found some old newspaper articles in the attic.

salvage

Tonight we went to a new friend’s house for dinner, and I warned Boo ahead of time: we are going to a fairytale house, with a garden just like the Secret Garden, gargoyles and passageways, and the library looks just like the Book Thief and it has a staircase just like the Biltmore house. And you should have seen her face when we walked into the library…it was just like when Liesel sees the library in the mayor’s house in The Book Thief.

Boo on the stairs being followed by a Bengal cat:

library

We ate dinner with our friends Nick and Suzie and Boo asked if she could be excused from the table early, so she could spend time in the library. I’m not sure I’ll ever hear that again. She found The Boxcar Children on the shelf and she was told she could borrow it. Suzie also had this old mail order catalog she’d found and it was in perfect condition. Circa 1915 this catalog would have been right around the time of the Titanic.  The mail order form was still in the center of the catalog, making me want to fill it out and send it in with my 89 cents.

catalog

And yesterday we spent some time with my brother and his family. It was my nephew’s birthday. And I actually have a photo of me and my brother for once, although it does look like I’m trying to get away from him, but that was only because I was trying to take a photo with my nephew Carter:

brother

And since we are staying with my sister we’ve spent a lot of quality time with my little niece Leighton.  I get to bathe her each night and we all take turns feeding her and she’s just the sweetest baby. I might just steal her..because I’m pretty sure I’m her favorite person in the whole wide world:

leighton

Speaking of old stuff I picked up this really old metal globe last week while thrifting/antiquing. Even my thrifty hubby thought it was a find we couldn’t pass up. Not that we have the space for it right now.

globe

 

And then there’s just this:

tree

 

And this:

leighton