For the past three days I have found myself living an at-home version of the cottage-by-the-sea. No ocean view, no walk on the beach, but a sense of silence, solitude and simplicity. There was nothing on my calendar and I didn’t go out in the car—except for a quick run to the grocery store. I walked, read, and wrote. With the entire day at my disposal, I experience a fluid rhythm that enabled me to become deeply involved in the memoir I’m writing about my mom. Although I had completed a rather final draft, I had focused on the word ‘final’, but forgotten about ‘draft’. I’d forgotten how much tightening up and detailing had to be done before sending it off to an editor. My goal is still to get it in the mail to Carolyn by September 17th. I am very grateful for it all.
Pleasure (and other) reading at the CBTS this year. An * indicates audio books that entertained me on my round trip drives from home to cottage.
* Allende, Isabelle. Daughter of Fortune.
Anderson, Joan. The Second Journey: The Road Back to Yourself.
Carrisi, Donato. The Lost Girls of Rome.
Ensler, Eve. In the Body of the World.
Dreher, Rod. The Little Ways of Ruthie Lemis.
Ferrante, Elena. My Brilliant Friend.
Ferrante, Elena. The Story of a New Name.
Fiorato, Marina. The Botticelli Secret.
France, Peter. Hermits.
Gallagher, Jeffrey M. Wilderness Blessing.
Gilbert, Elizabeth. The Signature of All Things.
Gordkova. A Mountain of Crumbs.
Grodstein, Lauren. The Exploration for Everything.
Grollner, Adam Leith. The Book of Immortality.
Hanion, Jeannette. The All of It.
Hood, Ann. The Knitting Circle.
* Hood, Ann. The Obituary Writer.
Hossein, Khaled. And the Mountains Echoed.
Kerman, Piper. Orange is the New Black.
Kidd, Sue Monk & Ann Kidd Taylor. Traveling with Pomegranates.
Kline, Christina Baker. Orphan Train.
Kopp, Heather. Sober Moments: A Memoire.
Lamb, Wally. We are Water.
* Merton, Thomas. The Seven Story Mountain.
Moriarty, Liane. The Husband’s Secret.
McDonnel, Jane Taylor. Living to Tell the Tale: A Guide to Memoir Writing.
McKinlay, Deborah. That Part Was True.
Moyes, Jojo. The Girl You Left Behind.
Moyes, Jojo. Me Before You.
* Nuland, Sherwin B. The Art of Aging.
Phillips, Jayne Anne. Quiet Dell.
Russo, Richard. Elsewhere: A Memoir.
Sotomayor, Sonia. My Beloved World.
St. Germain, Justin. Sun of a Gun.
Stedman, M.L.. The Light Between the Oceans.
* Strayed, Cheryl. Wild: From Lost to Found on the PCT.
Welch, Evelyn. Art and Society in Italy 1350-1500.
It is hard to pick favorites but the following stand out:
My Beloved World by Sonia Sotomayor.
My Brilliant Friend and The Story of a New Name, by Elena Ferrante
Wilderness Blessing, by Jeff Gallagher
Random thought from the cottage.
1) Verifications from a friend that the morning star is Venus.
From the web:
“Venus passed between the Earth and sun on January 11 and then re-emerges into the morning sky. Starting around mid-January, Venus and Jupiter – the sky’s two brightest planets – are like bright bookends in the morning sky, with Venus rising as Jupiter sets.”
2) “Where has all the seaweed gone?” The beach was clear yesterday. The sea is mighty powerful even when it appears calm.
Here I am blogging about another day here at the cottage. Weather (fog and rain) sunrise (none), early rising (5:15), writing (lots), reading (ditto), praying (ditto), knitting (not yet) jigsaw puzzle (finished New England Lighthouses, started Benozzo Gozzoli’s The Procession of the Magi), walking (none, raining), food (coffee, sticky bun, oatmeal, tomato red pepper soup, avocado on rice cakes), nap (always). That’s it so far, with more of the same until bedtime at 9:15. Only addition, food (apple, spaghetti and meatballs, more broccoli, banana).
There’s a monastic saying that goes something like this: stay in your cell and you cell will teach you everything you need to know. Well, I’ve stayed put in this cell of a cottage. I haven’t been in the car since I arrived Sunday afternoon, and I won’t drive anywhere until I go home tomorrow after lunch. I called a friend yesterday, but other than that, it’s been silent; no human voices, no music, no TV. What a colossal ruse, however, that I’ll learn everything I need to know. Nevertheless, this silence, solitude and simplicity seems to be teaching me something.
We’ve just returned from a visit to the cottage; my husband, our daughter, two grandchildren and me. We ate lobster by the sea in Portland, played word games by the sea at the cottage, and took photographs and went metal detecting on the beach by the sea. It was a by the sea time.
I don’t open up my cottage to many--one or two friends who need a little solace, and immediate family whenever they can make the trip. I have nothing to hide here, but if too many people stopped by, the silence, solitude and simplicity would disappear. Although I believe in the maxim that it’s all to give away, it seems that the best way to give away silence, solitude and simplicity is it to keep some of it to myself and give away what I can on the blog.
My first full day of solitude in two weeks, which I call a 'cottage day'. Oh, I had some moments and even hours here and there, but a day alone, with no obligations, is very different. Of course, I have things to do, but I don’t have to do them; and of course some of them will get done. So far today I’ve walked, made up the guest beds, started a load of laundry and taken a walk. I’ve also worked on the message I’m giving at church this Sunday. In a bit I’m going to begin a new jigsaw puzzle, do a little knitting and practice my recorder. And all of this in simple silence and solitude on a summer’s day .
Maybe you can create a 'cottage day' for yourself.
Here at the cottage I don’t have to think about the dishwasher. I wash my dishes right after I use them and store them on the drain board. I’m talking simple here: six pieces of cutlery, two plates, two bowls, two mugs, two glasses, two pots and a slotted spoon and a spatula. At home, when it’s just the two of us, I follow the same washing procedure, but I use more dishes and pots and pans.
I like being a hermit some of the time, but not all of the time, which is a good thing because this is my last week here. Although life is extremely simple here at the cottage, we do our best to keep things simple back at home.
Here are my thoughts from the deck today as I wind down my time here. Next week will be the last for this season, so today, in preparation, I let the vacuum cleaner break the silence. I know that tidying has to be done, but that was enough for one day. Dusting, kitchen and bathroom cleaning, and changing the linens is for next week, and then, out I go. It will be time to go.
But how to create some of the pieces of solitude at home? It’s a given that there won’t be as much: I have a backlog of friends to see and people to visit, a husband to do things with, and a household to run (including a vacuum cleaner). Although I can’t cover all the clocks in the house, especially all the ones my husband collects and tries to keep running, I can turn off my email during the day, and I can take a good walk. In fact, I’m going to do right now. It is time to go.
I had a wonderfully simple experience at the Apple Store today on my way home from the cottage. Although I use iPhoto every day, I figured that over time I would attend each of the three workshops, thus systematically covering everything available. Today was to be Workshop One.
So there I was sitting at the workshop table all by myself. And then Grace appeared, introduced herself, and explained that since I was the only one to sign up, she and I would have a one-on-one training. And so we began--an hour and a half of back and forth, giving and receiving. We covered it all. This was learning at it’s best. Now all I need to do is practice and remember.
Please bear with me as I see how simple all of this is. I’m going to create a small little slide show and put it on this blog. If it doesn’t show up today, I’ll keep trying.
Oops, I tried. More work to be done on my part. Maybe I need a YouTube account.
Taken this afternoon. Look familiar?
Simple observations during a 24 hour mid-March storm watch.
• A quick glance at the internet forecast is the only weather report I need.
• If I wait long enough, I don’t have to shovel the steps or dig out my car.
• I can cover the clocks in the cottage, but I can’t avoid noticing the time when I want to take a photo.
• I don’t need to know what time it is in order to know that I’m hungry or sleepy.
• Wind and tide seem to dump and remove seaweed at whim.
• Closing my email during the day is currently the best way I know to stay in the present moment.
• I have the best view, rain or shine,
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