Category Archives: Joie de Vivre

Have Garden Will Share

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Summer will reach its pinnacle shortly. In my perfect life, I would have this high summer weather every day—windows open, breeze blowing the curtains, occasional rainy days (or nights) to keep things green and growing.

But here it is, with summer near half gone, and I haven’t kept up the pace with all that needs doing. Until about five years ago, I had beautiful and meticulously tended gardens  of herbs, flowers, and vegetables happily commingling in my potager’s plot. Good medicine, from hands in the soil digging and planting, through tending the growth, to fragrant bouquets, healthy meals and medicinal tinctures and essences bottled and labeled. My gardens have been physical and spiritual sustenance.

Sadly, my gardens are now overgrown and choked with weeds. I feel more and more each day that I’m falling hopelessly behind. This year I’ve accepted, with much sorrow, that having offered me daily retreat for so long my once lovely gardens are now lost to me—I can’t keep up with the work of them.

I’m feeling my age.

Truth be told, many days I feel years beyond my age, mostly because of thyroid disease and chronic pain from spinal stenosis. I’m engaged in a daily struggle to keep these maladies from diminishing my life. This tale of infirmity isn’t my story, not the one I want to define me, at least.

Accepting the limitations that age or conditions put on living isn’t easy. Coming to terms with the fact that I will not be forever young and vital feels like defeat. Admitting that today is the best I will ever be and each tomorrow is a diminishing progression, even though in unnoticeable increments, is not an easy surrender.

Gone are the days when I could clean my house from top to bottom before noon, then run errands and still have the energy for dinner with friends or to attend an event. Now I’m lucky to clean two rooms at a time. When I’ve cycled through all of them by week’s end, it’s time to start at the beginning again.

The little acre yard carved out of the northern forest that I share with my better half and Gypsy Cat is getting harder to keep mowed and manicured. Shrubs are overgrown, dead tree limbs threaten to come crashing down, and the only grass we have is the crabby kind (a lot like me these days). Summer now stretches out as days stacked upon days of trying to make it all look good again (also a lot like me).

The garage, potting shed, and equipment barn have become our proverbial closets of shame, stuffed with our stuff—from things that would be useful to somebody but just not us, like bicycles and sports equipment, to life’s accumulation of cast offs that need to be sorted, donated or trashed.

When finally having all the things you worked so hard for becomes too much work, could owning less be the way to experience more? And is age really just a number only if you can pull off being younger than your years? Why does it feel so shameful to feel older than my number?

More importantly, would off-loading the unnecessary ballast accumulated over years of building a material life, add up to more years of living in the end?

Unless somebody willing to exchange work for a garden share comes knocking on my door, I’m about to find out.


Sunday Morning Coming Down

camera-514992_640It’s Sunday. The house is quiet in these early morning hours. I’m tucked away in my she-room, sipping fresh coffee. In summer, when the sun rises early enough to angle through the small window, it falls across the corner of the antique maple dresser I stripped down to the wood and then hand-rubbed with tung oil to reveal the grain.

The sun beam catches the glass of the framed mirror above the small chest of drawers and the room glows with the sweet promise of the season. Whispers fill my inner ear, I’ll bring you fragrant bouquets of roses and peonies. We’ll share lazy afternoons on the two-seater porch swing, and long nights tangled in the sheets when your body glistens from the heat of my touch. 

Oh, lover Summer, be still my heart.

Meanwhile, a friend shares a photo of her morning coffee at a sidewalk cafe in Paris and I feel a pang of envy for the life that got away.

I thought I’d journey to foreign places at this juncture in my life. I thought I’d sip coffee in a Paris Cafe, eat pasta alla Norma and visit the La Pescheria Market in Sicily, dip my toes in the Mediterranean, and drink Ouzo in Greece.

Alas, my husband’s health makes it extremely difficult to travel, and the stress of it when we do only worsens his conditions. He worries about getting where we need to be when we need to be there, with all the medical paraphernalia in tow and on board. But his concerns are that of a general running a campaign. I am the foot soldier with boots on the ground, carrying out the mission—and all the bags.

My travels worries are different. The possibility of a sudden crisis, even death, is something I live with every day. At home, or anywhere within the borders of the continental U.S., I know what to do.

With overseas travel, the thought of navigating unfamiliar territory and being unable to speak the language in an emergency makes it quite a different prospect. I worry about hospitals and transports if his heart, his burdened lungs, and his blood sugar all conspire to attack, deflate, and spike or plummet at the same time. I worry about simply getting us both back home if he dies.

Even when I imagine the best possible outcomes, I still see barriers everywhere. He won’t be walking along the ocean’s edge with me, strolling the maze of cobbled streets in historic cities, or climbing the stone steps of seaside villages, ancient ruins, or soaring cathedrals.

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It seems rather a lot of work, worry and expense just for me to spend most of my time in hotel rooms and sidewalk cafes, even if they are quintessentially European. Sure, I may be able to savor an authentic croissant with my French Coffee or wash down a plate of good Italian pasta with a goblet of chianti, but is it really worth all that?

The heart wants what the heart wants, and despite knowing the reality, considering my husband’s limitations, would be disappointing at best, my heart still aches for this unrequited encounter. Friends tell me to go without him. He tells me to go without him—lot’s of women do it.

We made these plans in a time when we thought we’d both be strong and healthy forever, or at least until we were, you know, really old. My husband has been to Europe, as a soldier, and numerous times after that. Our dream was to go together, to share the beauty and wonder with each other.

I have traveled without him since we married, though on a smaller scale. It only exchanges one ache in my heart for another, the longing for him to be at my side sharing the moments that photographs can’t capture. It casts a pall of loneliness.

My friend is traveling alone with others—sans husband. When she returns home he won’t be there to greet her; he died before they could share this time of their life.

One heartache for another.

 


Color My World

Today I stumbled across a Facebook post with a picture of a very purple kitchen. The person who posted it said, “Can’t wait for the comments.”  Mine was, “I love it!”

I noticed the photo had been shared from another source, a listicle of the worst kitchen fails. It’s one thing if you install a cabinet that blocks an adjacent drawer from opening and don’t fix it; that is sort of a fail. But a good many of the kitchens that made the list were given  down for color choice.

Screen Shot 2018-04-07 at 12.17.16 PMWhen did we become so judgmental of personal tastes, and yes, maybe even needs? Maybe the proud owner of this kitchen is somehow enriched by the color purple. Maybe it gives a whimsical energy to what can be a lot of kitchen drudgery.

Maybe this Hello Kitty kitchen is a tribute to somebody the designer once loved—even her own inner child. Maybe hers, or any of the other’s who dared to paint their kitchensScreen Shot 2018-04-07 at 12.14.27 PM outside the pallet of beige and brown, were repressed in their love of bright colors. Maybe this is their way to break free, be surrounded with the colors of their dreams and finally stop giving a flying fuck in hell what anybody thinks of it, thank you.

Maybe it’s none of our business what people do with their personal spaces, even those seen publicly—like window trim, front doors, the cars we drive, the clothes we wear. This is a sarcastic maybe. You get that, right?

I’ve always been free with the application of color in my life. I like bright, brilliant colors because I live in a northern region of the United States with many more dark than sunny days—and I have S.A.D. My wardrobe is full of purple, fuchsia, lime green, hot turquoise and more of the tropical rainbow.

My first branding colors for the MAD Goddess were Orchid and Orange, a contrasting pallete that wasn’t much seen then. Now I see it everywhere. I have since muted my orange, and I’m not sure why. That’s for another time, I guess.

After enduring a small, dimly lit kitchen for the first several years of my marriage, when we remodeled and I designed the 24 x 12 foot real cook’s kitchen of my dreams, I choose a nice, sedate, medium oak for the cabinets. Then I installed dark, green-cork pattern commercial vinyl squares on the floor and painted the walls bright apple green. I got a lot of judgment. I didn’t care.

Unable to sprout wings and fly to some tropical destination with the first signs of fall, I once painted my bedroom in the colors of an ocean sunset and hung deep coral colored sheers on the windows so the light coming through them made the room glow. I was told it looked like a brothel. I didn’t care.

I share my space with another human being. I kind of like him. Okay, I like him a lot, but—please— his favorite color is brown. If not for him, I just might paint my cabinets inScreen Shot 2018-04-07 at 12.14.54 PM these colors that remind me of a candy necklace and happy childhood memories. He might have another heart attack if I did. I didn’t cause the first one and I sure don’t want to cause any subsequent infarctions. However, there’s nothing stopping me from having a collection of dishes in shades of these delicious colors—Hello Fiesta.

Studies on the effect of color on mood abound. All of us react differently. So it’s okay if you would never paint your kitchen purple, or candy necklace colors, or eye-popping green. But it’s not okay for you to pass your highfalutin judgment on those who do.

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And btw, If I ever get that snow bird park model I’m dreaming of in south Florida, I’m painting the cabinets this color with glass tile backsplash in multi-shades of sea-glass. Ditch the dark wood accents and decorate with an ocean theme. And a mermaid. There has to be a mermaid.

Note: All of these photos came from the same Worst Kitchens Ever source. I am not linking it because I don’t want to give them traffic. If you want to see it, use your google.

 

 


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