5/5: no. 11

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From where I sit, waiting, finding today’s five minutes:

There is one tiny moth in our house, day 3 of evading cat claws. It looks like a comma flung at the wall, just there. Blink and it takes flight, quick and teasing.

It’s cold. But even inside a grey day, there is color. The clouds gust through, followed by sun gleam and petrichor. We found half of a tiny, blue eggshell in the grass. Rainbow ribbons snap and flutter in the chill breeze. It’s hard to believe that strawberry season is nearly over on the other side of the mountain.

The practice of noticing. Free verse, holding attention, making mind space.

5/5: no. 10

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Coffee with cream. Rumpled muslin pillow cases. Soft light. Bound paper. The underside of her forearm. The patina on the bottom of a saucepan. Croissants rising. Brass fittings. Milk glass. Today the challenge found me noticing color themes, but after I’d already grabbed a dozen images. I scanned the thumbnails and saw cafe au lait, linen, chocolate. The colors of gentleness, softened gaze, plush simplicity, slowed time, hush.

Happy weekend, friends.

5/5: no. 9

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“Mama, why do grownups talk so much about money, and things like … Contaxsternation? I mean, they should be talking about important things, like … like, FROZEN YOGURT.”

She refused to come down from the yew tree.

We’d brought a bag of books and snacks to the lush park with a rolling lawn canopied by massive lodge pole pines and an old apple orchard. One of the many irrigation ditches that cross the city runs alongside the southern edge, through wild weedy patches, under flowering shrubs trailing thin branches in the eddies. There are no swings or slides or ultra-safe climbing structures here, no brightly colored gyms with foam blanketing the ground to cushion unlikely falls. It’s a dog park, a run-under-the-trees park, a weave-a-crown-of-clover-and-be-empress-of-the-land park. It’s not wild, but it’s not contrived. It’s green, with hiding places and swallowtail butterflies and mysterious, weathered outbuildings caving in around the beams. The rusted axles of old tractors rest in a bank of dried and tangled grasses, gravestone markers of this property’s long-ago identity as a farm.

We’d compromised on blanket placement–half in the sun, half “dappled” shade. (Dappled is her favored and most savored word of the moment. I want to remember that.) Flip flops flung off her feet, and she sailed away.

“Come run with me, mama! It feels like flying!”

I sent her back and forth between our nestled spot and a huge, clambering, wild rose bush, thick with fat, yellow blooms. She gathered petals in her basket, returned to weave them into my hair. And then she spied it–a tree with a low V in the trunk, strong branches arranged in a ladder shape that only she could see. It took two minutes for her to be 10 feet off the ground, tucked in among the soft and spiky green, singing her mysteries and asking me not to listen.

When it was time to go, I did my gathering up and strolled to stand beneath her.

“I will stay here forever.” [arms crossed] “You know mama, I won’t one day live in a greenhouse on the beach in Mexico. That was a silly plan. I’ll live in a tree. I’ll never come down. You can send me snacks in a bucket on a rope. I won’t need money or things.”

It took 10 minutes of coaxing. I remembered Julia Butterfly Hill, living in her redwood for 738 days.

That night, over a $10 martini, I thought about what comforts and sustains us.

5/5: no. 8

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And I tell myself: this is why.

5/5: no. 7

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I am accumulating houseplants and pets. This makes me suspicious. This is a transformation, a direct contradiction of the bylaws of the committee of Me.

Across the windowsill above the sink, they’ve started to line up — the coleus she planted in preschool, barely kept alive for two years. A strawberry plant gifted from family. Lemon balm spontaneously added to the cart at Trader Joe’s two days ago, in a fit of nostalgia. A hen-and-chick pulled by the kid from a crumbling curb-side planting in San Francisco, toted home in her suitcase. Basil. Philodendron.

What is happening? My best guess: the experiment is working. When we yanked the pull string on the dervish of our Big Move, the objective was simplification. Slow down, trim away the crushing demands we’d built into our lives. Require less.

Make Space.

Space to breathe. Space to see. Space to pause. Space to find the horizon, to think, to stretch out our arms and welcome the new. Welcome the mess of life. Welcome each other in again.

When I’m very quiet, I can see that our life has loosened at the edges, widened its corners. There are tentative signs that we’ve got sustenance to spare. It’s possible that our cups are now more full than empty and we’re ready to share.

Maybe I can take care of a houseplant. And some chickens. Maybe I’ve found the space.

5/5 Creative Challenge: no. 6

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(I guess I like photos of ice cream.)

Somehow, today came out even. She sang “Three Little Birds” while we made our beds, after a long undercover snuggle-up. I made a list of dinners for the week. I drank my coffee warm and the egg yolks came out medium-soft and she ate everything on her plate. I did not take personally her thrashing protestations over going with me to the grocery store.

I did forget to make the sushi rice and nearly forgot ballet lessons and that blue laundry basket is still sitting by back door, full. Which brings to mind yesterday’s photo of the fox caught in his cottage under a laundry landslide … there is a lot of laundry. Laundry and ice cream.

I spent my earning hours wisely, clickety clicking my way through an assignment, efficient. Every now and then, I get a project that gladdens me. That surprises me in its organized and clear direction, its ease.

Just now, I can hear the pained tones of a Mary Poppins audiobook drifting from the treehouse windows. Across the counter, soft shine of Pyrex bowls, upside down and drying. A tiny pot of lemon balm in the window. (It used to grow like a weed in my childhood backyard, that and mint. I would pick them both in bunches and tie the stems with twine, hang them upside-down in my dusty playhouse to dry. Pretending to be an herbalist witch, mason jars filled with water from the hose, making murky teas.)

A stack of receipts and paper scraps tallies everything we owe to friends, a nasty little snowball of small, incidental, but personal IOUs. I am forgetful when it comes to three things: listening to voicemail, paying people back, thank you notes. Anything that involves phone calls or stamps. A lifelong wicked splinter in my personal integrity.

Turns out, she can blow a party noisemaker with her nose.

5/5 Creative Challenge: no. 5

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It’s very quiet. The house hums softly–refrigerator, cat purr, the spouse pacing through the house to check the chickens in the box in the laundry room, lock the front door, look for his phone. It’s dark and time for bed. I tucked her in with sticky, unbrushed hair but managed to wash the mud from her feet. Now she’s loose-limbed and warm to the touch, deep asleep.

All day the light shifted between sickly orange to clear and bright. Uneasiness, everywhere. It’s hotter than it should be and the fitful breezes smell like smoke. The city shut off the surface water supply, everyone is on well water for now. Six thousand acres burned. We’ll sleep with the windows closed.