Tiny Stories, Tiny Tales

Distant sound of a pile driver…

Ah, yes. Summer means construction. Construction here in Batavia, IL means a new bridge to replace the 100 year old one. They like to do the loud work at night. It doesn't bother me at all and adds an unusual back sound. Lots of booms.

Today, after starting out a bit rough, I dithered and hemmed and hawed and shuffled back to bed a few times but in the end, I got myself together and worked on a few projects.

It's always shocking when I work on a project. If you know me, you might know I have many projects. Vast quantities of 'em all at different stages. I don't believe in finishing projects. I just like to have them around like some people like having kittens, puppies or children around. It feels good. Sometimes though (many times) those kittens, puppies or children get going crazy and then being overwhelmed, overworked and hunted down comes into play. I go between liking my projects, to hating their guts.

In an attempt to enjoy instead of hate , I forced myself to focus on one project. This project is a bright idea from the Purl Bee. Swatch Portraits. Now that we've moved to a new place, I need to decorate. I like decorations. I don't like starting to decorate. I like little corners. I hate big walls. There's a couple of big walls here so after laying out what I have in the area of wall decorations, I decided it was time to try out the Swatch Portrait project. A few days ago I got the wooden hoops and pulled out what fabrics would all look very purdy together and now I was going to try.

But wait! I wanted to make coasters out of cloth today too but I needed the right cloth to semi-go with the living room but then I needed bias tape but I also needed tiny alphabet rubber stamps and then ink that works with fabric to stamp on the bias tape that goes on the lower half of the coasters and this was all at Jo-ann's…and…and…see how it is?

I managed to Not start another new project. I started the swatches. They're terrifically easy and fun. So I did a few and I'll do a few more tomorrow.

And then…after I did a few swatches, I decided to really roll up my sleeves and I made Cannelli Bean Soup (delish!), Miniature Meatball Paninis (they go great with the soup) and a big pitcher of Sunshine Iced Tea. Jeff and I watched "Flushed Away" while eating this splendid meal. And Abby? Here she is. 

She wanted her share of the meatball panini as well. Sorry, cat!

Also…I've been reading "The Vicar of Wakefield" illustrated by Hugh Thomson. I'm in love with my 1890's copy. Beautiful books with beautiful bindings are a joy forever. It's forest green with gold embossing of leaves and a few birds. A picture of it will come soon.

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The Taste of Tea

A favorite film of mine, The Taste of Tea, centers on an eccentric family living in the Japanese countryside. They spend a great deal of time sitting outside, sipping tea and staring into space. They sit as a family, alone, or in a small group and no one talks. They just stare out into the deep green that is the summer. And then they get up and go on walks or go off to work.

The first time I watched The Taste of Tea, I was shaken and delighted that the film gave space and respect to one of my favorite pastimes: sipping tea and staring into space.

When spring grew warm enough, I was inspired by the film to sit outside and stare into my backyard in the early morning. The Taste of Tea had given me a sort of permission to leave stress behind and take this time for one of my deepest desires: to enjoy and contemplate nature while sipping tea.

I named my new practice “Sipping Tea and Watching the Grass Grow.” I felt ridiculous whenever I mentioned it to anyone but that hardly mattered. I was doing what I loved so much, watching plants grow, watching the birds and small animals moving through it all, and sky glowing blue and serene over us all.

 

Grass grows slowly, imperceptibly but after each rain, it leaps up by inches. The violets came in May and they lasted for weeks. After that the dandelions bloomed and I lost a little bit of my heart to them. The wind picked up their seeds and sent the white fluffs floating into the air in sweet, downy clouds. After that, small wild strawberries, glowing like fierce red gems, appeared in the lawn. Now at the end of June, a luxurious, emerald green covers nearly everything. It reaches up from the ground, covering fences and stones or it high overhead, green leaves moving in tall, imperceptible breezes.

 

The heat has settled in so now even in the mornings, I pour sweat while drinking my tea. On some mornings the birds are noisy and busy and on other days they are not. Sometimes a great big bumblebee comes tumbling along, droning in that low, hazy buzz as it investigates every surface and flower. And then sometimes it does not come. Some days the clouds are like fluffs of cotton, other days there isn’t a cloud in sight. Each day brings a new configuration, nature is never still. I watch it all and at other times, I close my eyes and listen to my breathing. I’m not alone, never alone, a part of a whole.

A Tale of Two Worlds

I walk past a window on my way to get a glass of water and note the snow falling outside.  As I fill my glass at the sink, my thoughts have already turned back to my work on the computer. I’m wrestling with the household budget, when I’ll fit some reading in, how to get on with my writing work, when I’ll exercise, when I’ll catch up with email correspondence and the list goes on and on.

Anytime I stop my work and look up, past the chatter in my mind, the snow catches me off guard as if it’s the first time I’m seeing it. I debate whether I can put off the grocery store to avoid driving in the snow.

This is the world of the everyday. It’s full of a thousand petty cares, some essential to living, others not as much but all in a lump group, tugging us along.

But there are times my mind needs something more refreshing, and it’s time to take a break. And that’s where music comes in—as powerful as Circe creating a circle of magic with her staff. I pick out music without words (or words I don’t understand). Today is Rimsky-Korsakov, tomorrow might be the film Phantom Thread’s soundtrack, or a piece of jazz played by Lucky Thompson.

As Rimsky-Korsakov’s The Snow Maiden starts, the circle opens. I come out of the everyday world and enter somewhere extraordinary, where beauty converges with life and cares and worries exit for a time. And all it takes is a little music, a little snow, and entering the moment that is now.

I watch the snow falling, noting the wind direction as the snow blows southeast and then drops and then exhales again southwards. I note the density of the snow, how it’s light and sparkling and then downy, heavy, and wet.  My thoughts finally still and I turn off the music. A heavy relief passes over my body and mind and I am still, watching the beauty of the world.