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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Beautiful Dirty Summer

The thick green groves of cup-plants (silphium perfoliatumare) stand eight feet tall and are in their late summer glory. I look up at their bright yellow ray flowers and shield my eyes, the bright flowers sway so high and run so close to the sun. When I squint, the flowers darken into forms without color like the outline of the sun beating through closed eyelids.

I take a step nearer and peer into the leaves. Tiny pools of still water collect where the thick cup leaves meet the stems. It has not rained in the last few weeks and I’m surprised there is any water here at all. For leaves that are not broken or rotted, thimblefuls of water weigh without movement, rimmed with the detritus of summer: a fly’s wing, a wad of spider web, bits of dead grass and portions of pollen.

These tiny pools are water for goldfinches, tiny birds that flash by like rays of light. It hasn’t rained for weeks and this is left, tiny pools of water full of dirty summer. I consider drinking it. With one quick gulp, I’d drink the essence of a passing summer, imbibe what August means, and taste the bitter part of the growing season. This is living but rotting part that underlines all our lives but that no one likes to see, much less taste.

I shift my weight from foot to foot. The sun beats heavily down. The yellow flowers tumble in overhead breezes and the goldfinches live nearby, finding water where they can as the dry weeks pass. My hands drop to my sides and I pass back through the grass, ready for the shade. Perhaps when it rains and all the cup plants are full, I’ll take my drink along with the many others.

Life Lessons from a Cardinal

Outdoor living is coming in fits and starts now that it’s June. Last week it was in the 90’s (30C) and today it is gentle and cool with thunderstorms passing by north and south, bringing coolness in the wake of their stormy skirts. The sun shines but the thunder rumbles nearby and my cats retreat farther indoors to snooze on chairs instead of near windows.

It is tempting to join them. The heat break means that deep good sleep is possible again. Even with air conditioning, I sleep poorly when it’s hot. I sleep best when it rains.

And it has been raining at night but in great torrid thunderstorms where the house shakes and the windows rattle. Sometimes I lie in bed as the thunderstorms march by and wonder at the fate of all the creatures and people living outside.

It is summer and I have no arguments with it. It’s too hard to argue with the seasons. On the beautiful days, I sip my breakfast tea outdoors and watch the birds and squirrels to start my day. There’s always a drama playing out in the backyard. My favorite is the cardinal who walks along the deck rail, casting his bright black eye here and there and then breaks into song until a robin kicks him out. When the coast is clear, he returns and does the same thing all over again. Despite my nearness, he doesn’t mind me at all and I adore his bright red plumage and courageous laughing heart. His song cheers my soul and I’ve come to recognize his particular song. It falls under the same lines as all cardinals but it has a bit of improvised trill at the end. I think he’s been hanging out with song sparrows and got Ideas.

He’s a hard individual to photograph (all flash and movement) but I’ve shared a photo of a cardinal from National Geographic so you can get the idea. He’s hard to ignore and is a permanent on the robins’ blacklist. I aspire to such a level of happy insouciance.