Making Do

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Seven Oaks

To follow-up last week’s post, here’s a quote from Diane Ackerman’s gardening memoir, Cultivating Delight:

As with all creativity, Paula’s art (landscape design), requires spontaneity bound by restrictions.’

Ackerman’s design requests included preserving large swaths of the standard suburban mowed lawn, preferred by her husband. Paula had to ‘make do’ as she sketched and schemed, not able to utilize the full panoply of her talents, but work within the boundaries of a client’s preferences.

My mother did it too, this ‘making do.’ She made a life of it. Her ability to create a lovely, if tiny, home for her family, was often about lack. On my father’s teaching salary, the end of the month usually found us dining on beans and cornbread, no steak to be found.

And my Alexander Technique community ‘made do’ on Sunday afternoon, meeting in a Zoom Room for a Seven Oaks Reunion. Seven Oaks Retreat Center, in Madison County Virginia, is the location for an annual outstanding Alexander Technique Workshop, cancelled this year in response to the pandemic.  Within the parameters, and yes, confinements of a Zoom Room setting, director Jan Baty, and the workshop faculty created a lovely microcosm of a Seven Oaks week.

Making do. We can do this. We are doing this. For the fortunate who have not been ravaged by COVID-19, or suffered as loved ones take ill, we can make do. Hardship? Constraint? Limitation? Yes. Make do. The creative life awaits.

 

 

House and Home

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May I trust the eddies, the still waters, the fast-moving current, as Mike and I travel in our little boat to the quiet cove of our next home. We are being carried on the current that is always swirling beneath and around us, taking us through our lives, and now to the place where we will continue to love and laugh and yes, if we are fortunate, grow old. Moving Day! It’s in our future. May our new home be waiting for us this very day.’

The above was written in my April 2018 journal. The new house was waiting.  On to The Week of the Move. July 27th we received the keys, and Jill and Em joined us in the garden gazebo for pizza and wine. Our first guests! It was the only space with a table and chairs, left by the previous owners. Next day, the first items to go through the front door were Sylvia’s paintings.

A moving company hauled all furniture and boxes. Surprisingly, there is so much stuff that does not fit neatly into a packing box, and so, we loaded up our car and truck, Bob’s trailer and Cari’s behemoth vehicle too.  Yoga mats, pillows, family heirloom clock, rugs, chairs, spices, potted plants, rocks. Rocks, you ask? Yes. Collected from every place visited, I display them inside and out.

How our friends, the Thornocks, did it, I do not know. The five of them stood on the curb of their Seattle-area home, each with a suitcase and carry-on, contacted Uber, rode to the airport in 2 cars, hopped aboard a plane for a cross-country flight, ending up at their new Savannah, Georgia home after visiting friends in the Midwest. They left behind an entire household, to be moved without them. During their week’s journey between the old and the new, they were the last guests at our long-time home, which was fitting, as both Nancy and Paul were instrumental in preparing the property for sale several years ago. In fact, Nancy did such an amazing update and home staging job, we stayed longer than expected.

And so, a house has become a home. The ease of daily life in the new spaces is what I wish for each of you today. Ease in your shelter-home, and in the ‘always-home’ of your precious body.

 

 

Apples and Roses

 

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Strolling through the Park of Roses, fall’s arrival was the big picture. Straggling branches, limp in the unseasonable heat, created a scene of tangled decay. The up-close view was quite different and surprisingly fresh and beautiful.  Here and there could be found the most perfect of rose blooms, exuberant in their beauty, even on the last Monday of September. (Yes, this one—–)

With concerns for  the future of American civility and fear of nuclear war as world leaders exchange threats, the big picture is grim and unsettling.  But up close, there is a walk in the park with Alicia and Leo, applesauce in the slow cooker perfuming the afternoon house, and an evening rehearsal of Haydn’s Mass No. 3 in D Minor.

So. I’m going with roses and goodness today. And what better way to celebrate late roses  and right-on-time apples than with Bourbon Butter Apple Skillet.  Sauce is adapted from Sherry McKenney’s  maple pecan cake recipe, found in her cookbook, A Taste of the Murphin Inn. Thanks, Sherry!

Bourbon Butter Sauce:  Combine all ingredients and stir until heated through.

1 Cup sugar

1/2 cup half-and-half

1/2 cup butter

2 tsp vanilla

2 tsp bourbon (with lots of spill-over)

Thinly slice a few apples (leave on the skins) and toss them in a skillet with some of the prepared sauce.  Use medium heat until apples are cooked through but not soggy.  (5-10 minutes or so)  Serve in dessert bowls with a small pitcher of cream for drizzling.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Making

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a dahlia at The Bridge of Flowers, near Northampton, Massachusetts, with Darryl and Sherry McKenney

Make a little beauty each day.

It’s all that’s asked; all that’s required.

Just make a little beauty each day.

In 1988, my father died suddenly of a heart attack, and having lost my mother 10 years earlier, I was officially orphaned. Often I found myself in a one-sided conversation with my parents, and once in a while, imagined hearing back from them.

One of those times a ditty began to sing itself in my mind’s ear, and although the melody has been lost, I do remember the lyric:  Make a little beauty each day….It’s all that’s asked, all that’s required, just make a little beauty each day.

Yes. Making beauty.  A roast chicken, a song, an Alexander Technique lesson, a pleasing arrangement of pottery and pictures on the mantle, a linen napkin under the sterling silver at dinner. A kind word, a lavish party.  A photograph.  A friendship. A marriage. A life you can love. It’s enough.

In this spring season, when the natural world is wild with making, may you be inspired to make a little beauty too.  It’s all that’s required——

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Susan and ‘making a dance.’

Idleness

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graphics courtesy of pixabay

1.the state of being inactive.Syn.  Dawdling, pottering, shilly-shallying

2.disinclination to activity. —Syn.  slowness, indolence, slothfulness

Webster’s New World Thesaurus was fairly upbeat with its ‘idleness’ entry until ‘indolence’ and ‘slothfulness’ made an appearance. Here we enter into the realm of judgment and the expectation that incessant activity and productiveness is a preferred mode of being.

Easter Sunday was a rare day of, yes, I’ll claim it, indolence.  The positive spin would be ‘rest.’  The massive and very dead ash tree along the Rt. 296 lane had finally been removed and Mike was tired.  Our social life found us happily out late the night before, celebrating the season with long-time friends.  The plan had been to hop in the car the next day and get ourselves to the hill, but after sitting on the back porch in perfect bliss with our morning coffees, we concluded a trip to the farm was altogether too much doing.

Or as my godson Lyle used to ask, when I picked him up from preschool and proceeded to run errands, ‘Diana, could we please stop going?’  Yes, Lyle, we could.  What a fine question.  We do not have to keep going.  Stopping is a very good idea.  Essential, really.

We live in a world with very few pauses, and I write this week to encourage the finding of spaces, moments, hours, even a day, to quit with going and doing.  This Easter Monday finds me refreshed* following a rare day of do-less-ness.  Wishing for you the same—-

*Thanks to Beth C. for her delightful uses of the word ‘refreshed.’  

 

 

Moss on the North Side

‘A home with moss growing is a happy home.’  —Marth’s mother.

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photo courtesy of pixabay

Moss grows on the north side of our city home and also the cabin on the hill.  Green loveliness even in winter months, if it stays mild as it has this season.  Other markers of a happy home?  A well-swept front porch. Rooms that receive natural light. The scent of cinnamon. A tea kettle in frequent use.

And the happy domicile equivalent of the body?  You’d be surprised.  Quiet is a good indicator.  I’m referring to the sounds of walking, climbing and descending stairs, in-and-out-of-chairs.

As an Alexander Technique teacher, I’ve been astonished at how much I rely on my ears to assess a student’s use.  Certainly the auditory sense was front-and-center as a voice teacher, but I had no idea the ears would be so important to my AT teaching as well.

Sweep the porch of your Body/Mind.  Receive light and love with the open window of your heart. Surround yourself with a pleasing scent. Sip tea. No need to seek quiet as a goal. That would be what FM called ‘end-gaining.’ AT teacher, Pedro de Alcantara, has this to say about end-gaining: ‘to go directly for an end (a goal) causes a misuse of the self which makes the end (goal) unattainable.’ (quote from Indirect Procedures: A Musician’s Guide to the Alexander Technique)

Peace and quiet with soft moss underfoot is my wish for you this fine day, both in your body-home, which the Elizabethans called the ‘bone house,’  and in your shelter-home.