Monday, September 19, 2011

A Late-Afternoon Improvised Daybook. . .

What I've Been Doing. . .

Lissy enjoying NC Wyeth's art at Portland Art Museum.

I’ve been to Portland to visit the members of my family who live up there—Aimee and Josiah and their sweet little girl and Melissa. Melissa and I went to the Portland Art Museum together. She was tickled to see an NC Wyeth illustration (The Great Train Robbery) because Wyeth is one of her favorite illustrators (possibly the favorite?). I own a book with the collected correspondence (maybe just with his extended family) of NC Wyeth, which I love to read. This is the book where I got one of my favorite “kindred spirit” quotes: “Canned life is not agreeable to me.” Yep, I’m with you there, NC!

Franciscan Monk in the Garden of Gethsemane.
John Singer Sargent

 We all agree that this William Bouguereau portrait subject
looks like a cross between little Liya and Michelle!

Seeing a painting in real life, as you know, is so much more striking and wonderful than seeing even an excellent print of it, so we stood and looked over Wyeth’s oil painting for a long time. Another one we both loved was John Singer Sargent’s Franciscan Monk in the Garden of Gethsemane.

On the way back home, Aaron and I stopped off to see Michelle and her three little ones and were greeted with squeals and hugs, which is always nice. The kids showed us all of the things they’ve been doing and pulled out their favorite books for us to read together. Roman showed us the little “mounting board” (a piece of cardboard) where he has been pinning the insects he collects. I love to see this kind of thing! Michelle was busy with her usual projects. She is one of those people who gets things done! Very creative, artistic, and undaunted by any challenge that presents itself. I love to see what she’s been up to when I visit. Today she had the bookcase she built several years ago lying on its back on the floor. She was removing molding so she can replace it with something that looks more substantial. I’m sure it will be wonderful when she's through with it.

Fading flowers, but they still looked sweet on the kitchen window
sill when I walked in the house today.

I arrived back here early this afternoon, and when I came into the house, I realized that this place really and truly, finally, feels entirely like Home. I stepped in the door, took a deep breath, and smiled, “Ahhhh. . .” as I walked through the house, dropping bags and suitcases in whichever rooms  they belonged. I lifted blinds and opened windows to let in today’s really nice fall breeze, admired the feeling early autumn light brings into the house, turned on some music, and enjoyed being back home. The house felt bright and cheerful.

Outside. . .

Breezy, warm weather. Dry  leaves are sprinkled across the front lawn. The large maple in the front yard hasn’t changed much, but the green of the leaves isn’t as vibrant and fresh as it once was, and the leaves almost make a crinkling noise as they rub together in the wind.  It has been wet and drizzly in Portland the last few days, and I assume it was the same here, but today cleared up entirely to welcome blue, sunny skies. On the drive home, I spotted a flock of geese flying overhead in their migratory v-formation. I wonder if they’ll stop by the area where I used to live? It is a magnificent place to live for birdwatchers.

 In the Kitchen. . .
 Stray tomatoes on the kitchen counter this afternoon.

In Portland, Aimee—my vegan daughter—oversaw all food and cooking, and the girl can cook! She’s also extremely knowledgeable about nutrition and makes sure she gets everything she needs from her diet. I love eating Aimee’s food! We went to our favorite food cart, Native Bowl, while we were in Portland, and we all had the Alberta Bowl with, as the menu description says, “ grilled tofu (amazingly tasty!), house-made fire breathing dragon sauce (with sesame and sriracha!), jasmine rice, shredded cabbage, carrots, and scallions.”

All I’ve eaten here at home today, so far, has been popcorn! I make popcorn three or four times a week. I always pop it in coconut oil and then toss it with salt and nutritional yeast. At first I wasn’t sure I liked the nutritional yeast on the popcorn, but now I don’t like eating popcorn without it. The taste really grew on me, and Aaron said the same thing happened to him.

Reading. . .

I lounged around for awhile perusing old magazines.

Not much because who wants to read when visiting family (especially when there’s a cute little grandbaby around)?! But I did read Palace Walk every evening. I’m moving slowly, but steadily, through the book. I sort of regret mentioning it here, though, because I’m afraid it could be offensive to a lot of people. I don’t know if this falls in the category of reading, but I picked up a few vintage Better Homes and Gardens magazines to browse this afternoon. Reading through these is quite entertaining because household and cooking tips seem so obvious, silly, or dated, and in the case of the recipes, often extremely unappealing.

In one of the magazines, I casually glanced at an ad of a college girl in her dorm room who was holding something small in her hands, up near her face, and my immediate thought was that she was texting someone. But I immediately laughed because I knew that this was impossible—when the magazine was published, in 1957, there was no such thing as a cell phone. The girl was actually reading a little book, I think, and what a novel idea! This made me realize, once again, that being alone or having quiet times in our days are no longer givens. Solitude is now something we must carve out, make room for, insist upon. What a loss.

A Few Plans for the Week. . .

To finish cleaning and organizing the house before classes start next week. I need to buy my books, figure out the location of my classes, make sure my financial aid is in order, buy some supplies, get that bus sticker I keep meaning to get, check out a (free!) bike on campus for use during the school year, and a few other things.

I need to think forward to the holidays and make some plans because I need to start now if I’m going to get Christmas gifts done.

I also want to measure some unframed prints, pictures, and artwork and start looking at Goodwill for an eclectic collection of frames. I figure this is a good way to go since I can’t afford to have anything framed professionally, and I can’t afford new frames, either. There are plenty of interesting, vintage and modern, frames to choose from at Goodwill if I will just bother to take the time to look for them. I have some of my kids’ artwork to frame and some other things that have never been hung.

And I need to get my food plan set so that I can eat well during fall term.

I’m also intending to enjoy this fall weather! I pointed out to Aaron the formation of geese I saw while driving this morning, and I said that it is a crime not to pay attention to the seasons. There’s so much to see and notice, and it’s all lovely and interesting! There are deep spiritual lessons in the seasons, too, if we are paying attention.

This afternoon I am thankful to God for a safe trip; for truly wonderful, funny, interesting, smart, kind, generous children and grandchildren; for a car; for food on my table; for natural light; for friends who make my day when I open my mailbox; for so much love in my life; and for peace and joy.

I am a blessed woman.


  1. It is so nice to have a bit of time to catch up with friends. I've missed reading your posts Susan!
    I know how you feel about your house finally feeling like home. We are temporarily in an apt. while we wait for our home to be built. I thought at first I would just unpack the bare minimum of things, but I can't seem to be content to live without the things I love around me. Just a few little familiar things - some quilts, a loved figurine, some pictures and I feel so much better!
    What is your major? I am "all admiration" Susan. You are doing so very well. You are living this season of your life with much grace and joy. It blesses.

  2. Thank you, Linda. I'm glad you're back! I know just what you mean about those few familiar things! Me, too. I so appreciate your encouragement, Linda.