Category Archives: home

The Willow’s Bow

Standard

“This is the bright home in which I live, this is where I ask my friends to come, this is where I want to love all the things it has taken me so long to learn to love. There is no house like the house of belonging.” – David Whyte

Well, I wanted to write a blog post about the fabulous home of designer Thomas O’Brien showcased in the latest video by Quintessence. But I’m fighting back tears…it has sparked childhood memories of sliding down the banister of my grandparents huge old Tudor in Detroit, shaking out cornstarch on the linoleum so our feet would slide when we danced,  and of watching scary movies at a friend’s renovated old mansion in Birmingham, where I used to dog sit…of the smell of old polished wood and ancient roses…and life.

My parents bought a rambling Cape Cod when we five kids were little. It was old by 1960’s standards; the architect had built it for his mother in 1926. I loved that home for many reasons, including the hidden staircase from inside my sister’s bedroom closet to the attic. And the faerie-sized garret doors perfect for squirreling through to hide. But I remember playing hide and seek outdoors most of all, crawling inside the peony shrubs that lined the 400′ lawn between the house and the Detroit River. They were so old, stems so woody, that they were hollow in the center, a natural fort of branches. They had been planted when the house and gardens were new as a frame inside the majestic willow sentinels. Those trees were taller than the fourth story of the house (where my room was in the eaves) and drifted lazily down to the grass. They whispered to me at dusk that everything would be alright; I swear they bowed to me every sunrise. They kept my tender heart swathed in hope.

As the house let sway the hours of the day, activity increased around me. I heard the movement of a family, sometimes peaceful, sometimes in glorious song together, often engaged in a personal war, always a family. The willows were still. Downstairs my father or my sister practiced on the grand piano in the living room hours on end. Their repetition, their mistakes, unnerving then, are now fond remembrances.

Such an enchanted life we all live, whether or not we realize it in this moment. I am grateful for all of it, all of the struggle and the beauty. Here, I get a sense of it all rushing back to me. I love watching and listening to these two. Thomas is obviously happy to be sharing the home he truly loves. Susanna Salk always puts a smile on my face. She’s such a “tourist” – she gawks and is demonstratively awestruck – as we all would be. And she’s paying attention! There is no pretension or affectation.  She admits she’s embarrassed at just noticing the fireplace two hours into her visit! They both make me feel more creative and more alive by their inspired way of life. Watch closely, you will see the willows in the garden bowing…

 

Advertisements

Chien Lunatique

Standard

This house has been one of my “all-time favs” also…this artist has got it goin’ on. You know she’s living life to the fullest. Susanne gets it: it’s deeply personal. Not being a drinker, I don’t know what much of this stuff is that she’s talking about – but I DO drink Limeade…and am a coffee-holic. I’ve always made coffee ice cubes so my iced coffee doesn’t get diluted. I’m serious.

Anyway, I maintain that all “true beings” love color, Lulu, and that we make far too many compromises in our own love homes. My home is a love home – I love my home, my land, my pets, my bed, my memories, my time here , my sweet, sweet life…

“Color is my daylong obsession, joy, and torment.” – Claude Monet

Eat, Pray, Crib…

Standard

Elizabeth Gilbert is an American icon, of course, and certainly one of my heroes. As an aspiring memoirist, I have followed her career since Eat, Pray, Love made her a household name. Here she takes us on a silly tour of the house she was selling in 2012. Gorgeous house! (Great artwork, too.) Damn. Missed it, or as Maxwell Smart would say, “missed it by that much…”

For some reason she is uncharacteristically giggly here, but nonetheless, stick with it to see the magical details built in to the “SKY-BRARY”, and the gardens. Not yet in bloom, I can only imagine how glorious they are in the summer.

We know much heartbreak would visit Liz in the years to follow, and yet still somehow the writing that would inspire us all to keep going. I only wish her well, and that her recent living spaces have proven worthy shelters for such a magnificent spirit.

It’s a humid, hot day in northwestern Michigan, but there is a wind, and so I must have the windows open. I love my home; I love my hills…could I ever leave? Oh, sure. Like Liz, I have always moved often. There is something inherently cleansing for your soul about paring down; always editing. Homemaking is so completely, consumptively, creative. So I do understand her selling…maybe…I guess.

We Will Walk It Out…

Standard

“We’re all just walking each other home.” – Ram Dass

It is a glorious sunny morning, albeit chilly. As I sit in my beautiful new home high overlooking the sand bluffs and treetops of northwestern lower Michigan two of my close friends are fighting for their lives. One is fighting a physical cancer, the other a mental cancer. Both potentially deadly. I can’t help but wonder why them, why not me, or anyone else for that matter? It all seems so random, the blessings and the curses. There is one thing that occurs to me: there is no such thing as deservedness. No one deserves any more blessings or suffering than another. This immature notion must be allowed to wither away from our collective consciousness as a culture. It was a bill of goods someone sold us, and it needs to go the way of our ancestors.

As it happens, I have just been through a week of my own hell, bedridden with debilitating migraines. I had fooled myself into thinking I was going to do a nice liver detox this week, and then had to resort to taking migraine medication when the pain became frightening. There is a (not so funny) meme circulating on social media that says, “When the head and the heart clash, the liver suffers.” It has a different meaning to me now! Migraines come as demons in the night when I have succumbed to spending too much time in my head, disconnected from my heart. And there is grieving to be done.

But there is equal joy to be found in “falling apart at the SEEMS” and re-membering myself, my sweet life. And that I am not in charge here…as The Indigo Girls sing, “the less I seek my Source for some definitive, the closer I am to fine.” Today is the first day in over a week that I can stand up straight and the nausea has subsided. It is the first time I remember to look at my daily lesson in A Course in Miracles: “By grace I live. By grace I am released.” For some reason it feels like Christmas.

 

Come Down Off Your Throne

Standard

“The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.” – Maya Angelou

My family has been ravaged by the wolves of disease; by physical disease – cancer mostly – but also by the disease of addiction and poverty. Four siblings and I have moved in and out of homelessness throughout our adult lives. I guess it is a good thing there are five of us. Someone usually has a place with an extra room, a blowup mattress, or even just a vehicle. We have all managed somehow to survive to middle age. But as anyone who has ever experienced this will tell you, it is a terrifying way to live. Like soldiers of far away wars, this is a battle fought by families and entire communities. The toll is invisible at first, but the wounds are deep and long-reaching. The shrapnel works it’s way out through a lifetime and a bloodline.

Home has always meant life to me. In its least form it provides safety from the elements, though some must fend off other vultures within their walls. Full of its promised offering it brings sanctuary, restoration, healing. A good sleep, a shared meal, laughter…the courage to imagine.

I don’t know who it was who said “Home is Heaven for beginners.” My home certainly is. I am very grateful for my home. I have a lot to be thankful for.

As a young child I suffered a repetitive nightmare: I walked home from school, but when I entered my house a strange woman had taken the place of my Mom. And she demanded to know where I really lived – as apparently I was lost. So I went back out retracing my steps. Same address, street signs, neighborhood. I had entered some parallel universe where everything looked the same, but nobody knew me. Worse, I had no idea how to get back home. I’ve had a variation of this nightmare all my life, even recently. I don’t understand its meaning – other than to scare the living daylights out of me – but I sure understand the feeling. This is what it feels like to be without a place of your own, all alone in the world. It renders you utterly powerless and sucks the air from your lungs. But it also makes you compassionate for any sentient being just trying to hang on for one more day. This feeling is palpable in shelters – animal or human.

It seems my life has been a long search for home. Being in the world AND of it, is at last its own particular form of hell regardless of where you reside. Better to be in the world but NOT of it. The entry fee to that land has been pre-paid by grace. Yes, please…and while I wait as my mansion is prepared, I wait with all my heart and soul in the knowing that I do belong. I belong. And isn’t that what we all want, really?

“This is the bright home in which I live, this is where I ask my friends to come,

this is where I want to learn to love all the things it has taken me so long to learn to love.

This is the temple of my adult aloneness and I belong to that aloneness as I belong to my life.

There is no house like the house of belonging.”  –  David Whyte