“Do you know," Peter asked, "why swallows build in the eaves of houses? It is to listen to the stories.” ~ J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

9.15.2013

the moon comes out and silvers the yard

we are this  close to this year's harvest moon.
i have no image.

the internet this morning was full of discussions about art and not-art and filled me with thoughts as big as that almost-here moon.  the studio part of my living room is swallowing the entire space, paintings and partial paintings everywhere, words taped to the poles that hold up the ceiling.  the couch moves closer and closer to the front glass door, closer to being outside, shuffling in small secret steps.  the birdsong is louder, the squirrels closer, the falling pecans bouncing through the open door almost onto my toes.  it begins to feel like my true home.

i am painting both canvas and furniture and still clearing clutter, every weekend narrowing it down a bit further, this weekend distracted by a newly found notebook of my mother's.  at one point she'd written about animals she'd lived with, and there is this bit:

"Another time, another tender moment I remember, is when I raised Reggie, a blue jay.
The very last time I held him, a tail feather released,
falling to my feet as he soared from my protective hands."

feathers.  talismans for her also.  signs.  of course.  
i am so her daughter.

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she drew blueprints for houses her entire life.  as a child i would sit at the kitchen table with her and watch her design this week's house of dreams.  she must have drawn hundreds and not a one saved.  i was always enchanted by the possibility of such a small drawing, and, at an early age, began to draw my own blueprints, so different from hers.  hers were adult homes, with bathrooms where you expected them to be and bedrooms all over here or all over there, but mine were always spaces, open spaces with wide stairways, my bed always at the bottom of a staircase, the stairs themselves night tables and bookshelves.  i remember drawing the books stacked helter skelter on this stair or that, and vases of flowers on the floors. the kitchen would be another staircase somewhere else in the space.  the front door was far away.  it was my nest.

though my real front door is ever so close, my home is still not an adult home, and quickly becoming even less so.   it is becoming a studio and i am letting it draw its own map, letting it tell me what it wants.  it whispers the word fun.  it tells me the bedroom will be sanctuary.  it tells me to let go of old paperbacks, their type so small i can't read them anyway.  it tells me i need at least 2 more chairs for the tables.

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when i am an old woman i will not wear purple.  i will wear gray or white tshirts splattered with paint, and pajama bottoms or jeans.  i can feel it in my bones, fast coming down the tracks.  old is not that far away.  it's not what i'd expected, it's not what i thought it would be like, to be not rich and older, to be still learning, to be still struggling, to no way no how be able to retire and relax.  in truth, it feels quite terrifying, but it feels very much meant-to-be.  it feels like home - there are no stairs, unless you count the ones that curve up to katie's place - but it feels like the blueprints i used to draw, up and down and books and flowers and certainly not all grown up boring.  the kitchen is back behind me somewhere, but i forgot to draw a stove.

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9 comments:

  1. So many canvases of life here...always magical to visit here for a moment ..xo

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  2. I love your dream house, and I say phooey on an adult house, far better to have a magical one, a nest, filled with the things you really need in life.

    As always, you wrote it so I could see it. I think artists never retire, never stop learning, in truth--never stop struggling. Terrifying and meant-to-be. I think that describes the life of an artist exactly.

    xoxo

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    1. you've made me feel less terrified. i never really understood the concept of retirement, and sometimes feel i am paying for that non-understanding. if i think of it as "still painting", "still writing", it helps. it makes perfect sense.

      i admit, though, i'd love to know what the whole having-enough-money thing feels like. :)

      smooches!

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  3. in your house i can see what you describe. i love it that it is not an 'adult' house. that the couch gets pushed further and further out. i love your freedom.
    and your open door. it is becoming too cold here for open doors.
    this was as always a good thoughtful write.
    in fondest. tilda

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    1. thank you tilda. it will eventually be too cold here for open doors - we will see where the couch ends up when that happens. :)

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  4. I'm enchanted. My heart tender. I look around my little home and say yes, this is a writer's place. I think of you reading your mother's notebook and look over at mine stacked here and there - think of my children reading them someday. You've drawn me into a glimpse of your world and simultaneously taken me deeper into mine. Thank you.

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    1. yes. save for your children even the journals that seem full of complaints and everyday nothingness. my mother had those also, and reading them makes me laugh. they recall conversations over coffee and small phone calls. they remind me of the truth of her life.

      and thank you.

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  5. SO GOOD to see that you are still painting!!!!
    I am just learning to draw. Paint is a long way off. Was thinking of you yesterday as I picked up my humble pencil...thinking about your artistic process..the complexity of it all. Wondering where my journey will take me.
    Always thinking of you. Even when it seems as though I'm not.

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