Tag Archives: freedom

Around 11

Sometime around 11

Sometime around 11

The sundial in my herb garden reads “around 11” in this photo I took the other day.  The time it reads depends on how careful I was at orienting the gnomon properly.  I suppose it could be more precise if I took my computer out and rotated the stand until the dial read exactly what the computer said – starting with the day of the week, the date, the hour, the minutes…..hmmmm….at least until the next rainstorm when the dial tips slightly in the rain.

Part of the pleasure of the structure of my “new life” is that time has because amorphous.  Days of the week are important because Saturday is the start of the weekend when my husband is home and Sunday is the day before he goes back to work.  Dates are important sometimes.  I have a paper calendar with wild animals on it that hangs in the kitchen.  I write down my doctor’s appointments, the day that some chore needs to be done, or dates with friends.  The hours on the days that I have marked are often important because doctors still follow their watches (although the guys who come to fix the furnace are not so prompt).

The rest of the time and days and weeks?  It’s not about time anymore.  These days, it’s about what I want to get done and who I want to see.  It is important that I finish picking the garden in the morning before it gets too hot.  It is more pleasurable to eat lunch when the shade from the trees out front hits the table and chairs in the yard.  The mail comes sometime after lunch so my walk to the mailbox is in the afternoon.

The sundial works perfectly for my new sense of time.  It is morning or afternoon or hmmmm…. S should be home from work soon or I wonder if the mail is here yet.  Time is much bigger and less precise.  It is harder to be on time and it is easier to get lost in time.  As the shadow moves around the dial, lengthening as the afternoon wears on, my days are filled with the experience of the day and not the marking of time.


What Do You Do?

New shelves inside the little barn

New shelves inside the little barn

How do I answer the question “What do you do?” in my new situation?  I can tell people that I am retired although I have a hard time making that word come out of my mouth.  The word retired seems too passive – to retire is to go to bed or withdraw, to retreat or remove oneself.  OK, I have removed myself from the trading time for money world but I certainly have not gone to bed or withdrawn from the world.  The word just seems to be loaded with images of sitting in the living room with my feet up waiting for someone to come visit me so that I will be entertained. 

No – that’s not what I am doing.

Someone offered “refocusing your life” but that seems odd also since I try not to spend my time focusing on my life but instead figuring out how to live each day.

One of the challenges for me has been the lack of routine that was so easy when I got up and went to work.  The clock was very important.  I had to be out of the house by 6:50 to beat the busses so that I could be at my desk at the appropriate time.  Lunchtime was 11:30 to avoid the long line of students and have a quiet table to eat with my co-workers.  There was always a small congregation around the coffee machine in the mid-afternoon where we chatted about our lives, our children, our spouses and the general state of the world.  5:00 was time to go home and try to fit in the personal living part of my life; the part that wasn’t attached to my paycheck.  Days at work looked very similar to each other.

Now my days are filled as I please and I am in charge of what I fill them with.  There are still the daily chores; the ones that I used to do on the weekends or in the evening – cooking dinner, laundry, and cleaning.  A small part of each day is used to “keep the house”.  The rest, I am figuring out.

My energy has been returning as I recover from 6 months of chemo.  The garden is always there and patiently lets me sit or weed as I please.  Last week, the little barn needed shelves.  This week the peaches are ripe.  I only focus on the clock now to see when my husband will arrive home from trading his time for money.

Rather than closing the aperture on my life’s lense to “refocus” on something other than work; it seems like it has opened up to its widest setting.  With this new time, there is also new possibility, there is new light and new energy.  I have only to imagine.

Runaway Bunny – A Eulogy

Sometime in the spring I looked out of my kitchen window and saw a rabbit.  Rabbits are an unusual sight in my area.  I just don’t see them that often and having one grazing in the middle of my lawn in the middle of the morning, is just plain odd.  I stealthily moved from my window view to the front door, opened it quietly and slowly snuck out into the herb garden.  From there I could see it was a small rabbit, greyish, with tiny ears.  It took a look at me and went back to eating.  I moved closer.  It stayed where it was and continued with its breakfast.  This rabbit was used to human company.

After an entertaining hour where my son and I tried to capture the rabbit (I do have a garden and rabbits are voracious vegetarians) where we tried to corner it in the woodshed, capture it with a rake, and toss a tarp over the elusive thing, I gave up and decided that I could use the company in the garden more than the occasional leaf of kale that he ate.

One day during the summer, my sister and I caught him.  We snuck up on him while he hid under the tomato plants.  She distracted him from one side of the bed and I grabbed him from the other.  As I held him, I felt his heart pounding wildly while he snuggled into my chest.  It felt like he wanted to be close to me while trying to overcome his fear.  His fur was rough and hard as though he had had it spiked with gel.  Along his backbone the stiff hair was beginning to fall out, leaving soft black fur that was pleasant to stroke.  I held him for a short time and let him go near the broccoli where he nibbled on the leaves.

I was worried that he would destroy my garden.  I expressed my fear to my son who replied that it was time to either “shoot him, or name him”.  We started to call him “RB” for Runaway Bunny.

All summer as I weeded and harvested, RB kept me company.  He stayed at a cordial distance, always close enough so that we could share each other’s presence and far enough to be sure never to be caught again.  I talked to him in the morning as I visited my plants and I looked for him in the evening when it was his habit to nap under the peach tree.

My son left for college and I continued to check in with RB every day.

Last week there was a chill in the air as I sat in the yard enjoying an apple with my sister and a friend. The leaves were in full autumn color and it was a glorious sunny day.   Jack, my black and white yearling cat was crouched, tail twitching.  He was obviously on the hunt.  He darted across the yard and from a cloud of dust and leaves, emerged with RB in his teeth.  Jack had him by the throat and was carrying him like a lioness carries an impala, furry bunny body between Jack’s front legs.  I tried to catch Jack, to rescue RB, but he was determined that RB was to be his prize of the day.

Jack finally let go and RB ran under a tarp in the yard where I was allowed to pick him up.  His fur was thick and black, the spikiness had been shed over the summer.  He lay limp and resigned in my arms.

I put RB in a small cage, fed him some of my kale and started to look for a home for him.  RB died the next day.  I don’t know if it was a physical injury that I couldn’t see, if his heart gave out from the trauma of the attack, or if he just lost all hope in the tiny cage after a summer of freedom in my garden.

I wrote to my son to let him know that RB had died and that I was feeling sadder than I had imagined I would.  He wrote back “That’s too bad about bunny but he was kind of a miracle anyways.  Just think of it as a good story”.

Yes, he was kind of a miracle.  My first summer as a single parent, my son involved in his own life, planning for college, and this little furry being appeared out of nowhere to keep me company.  He kept his distance, allowing me to feel the quiet of my new life but he was always there to remind me that I wasn’t alone.  He visited with me in the garden because it was what he wanted.  He chose my yard, my garden, my company.  He was a reminder to me that a life lived in freedom is a life worth living even if it is dangerous and perhaps short.  I’m glad I let him go that day earlier in the summer.  I’m glad that he got to live like a wild bunny for the months that we shared.

I am sad that he is gone and I will miss him.  He and I shared a slice of our lives this summer.  And of course, he gave me this story.

My House / My Studio

Last night I went to bed reading Studios Magazine that a friend had lent to me.  I woke up this morning with the gigantic revelation that – wait for this – you will be amazed – I will be the only person living in my house starting in September and my whole house can be my studio if I want it to be!  OK – so I’m a little slow sometimes but this is huge!

It means that the closet in the studio that currently holds interesting clothing items like kimonos and vintage dresses that have absolutely nothing to do with printmaking, can be moved to – oh my gosh – the closet in the hall!  And then…. And then…. The studio closet could be retrofitted for – imagine this – paper!!!!!!

Out goes whatever has been stored in the lower cabinets all these years (honestly – when was the last time I actually opened them?) and in goes the ink and the brayers.

I started this process a few months ago by moving the sewing stuff into the bedroom and the knitting stuff into the upstairs office – but it was minor compared to what I’m imagining now.  Why couldn’t the living room be used as a workshop area if I decide to hold a class?!!  Why is this such a revelation?!

I know that I’m using way too many exclamation points here but I can’t help it – my whole house can be the studio!!!!!!!!!!!!

What I saw as I was looking at all of these beautiful studios in the magazine was personal space that had been created for the artist / by the artist.  Couches and reading areas, wet areas, dry areas, tables to work on, messy areas that don’t have to be cleaned between projects and clean areas for showing off work.  I have all of that.  It’s not in one room but who says it has to be?  I have all of those things in my lovely house.  Oh my gosh – this is totally amazing.  I can do anything I want!