Around The House

our space

I belong to a really great photography group on facebook that is centered around storytelling through images. Unlike other groups I am a part of I have never seen a picture that makes me scratch my head or gringe…it is full of really talented people. One of the features on their blog is an hour by hour photo challenge. That’s right. Forget about your 365 daily or your 52 weeks thingie. One photograph every single hour.

I haven’t done it. Yet.

I want to, but I just haven’t. I haven’t ever done a 365 but I have done multiple weekly projects. I even did a first week of each month project one year. This is different though. Storytelling, whether in words or with images, needs to be cohesive and sometimes I feel like I am jumping from one thing to another thing all crazy like. I mean, I can point my camera at something every hour and click the shutter button. But thinking through the shots and stringing them together with a flow and a story…that requires thinking a little differently.

But I did realize that I take random pictures around my house on a fairly regular basis. Maybe because of color or the way the light is hitting something or just because it somehow holds meaning in my day.

This is pretty much where every day begins for me. I get up and first thing is push a button to get the coffee going. While it brews I typically feed the cats and give them fresh water, maybe start laundry and unload the dishwasher. But when I hear that final gurgle and swoosh my feet immediately bring me back to this spot.

I also try to get my bed made as early as possible. I just feel like I have accomplished something with it done. But I will confess that it doesn’t happen until later in the day. Even much later. Once I finished putting the throw pillows on it literally as Rob walked through the door at 5:30. But if it gets made it’s a win, right?

Sometimes, I might just grab the camera because I have noticed a spot in the house that I particularly like the look of or maybe something I don’t usually notice. In the past year or so I have managed to keep several different houseplants alive and that makes me happy and I like the look of live (non noise making live things) in our space.

Laundry. Man, I do a lot of laundry. There are six of us living here at home and the towels alone can really pile up up! I used to hate laundry but then I learned to see it as a sign of God’s providence and care for my people. We have what we need. Actually more than we need. I came to view it as a blessing (that can sometimes get out of hand) and one that has a beauty all its own.

Food. You have to know that food pictures are going to be a part of my random shooting. Yesterday, we enjoyed the company of some dear friends that visit our area once a year. It is always such a sweet time and one we really look forward to each summer. We made kabobs and while they were on the grill my friend picked some basil from our garden and proceeded to concoct a delicious chimichurri sauce to go with our meal. She didn’t even bat an eye when I told her to hold still so I could grab my camera. The light was just too good to pass up and the colors all looked so pretty.

She added some lemon zest too and it was so tasty drizzled across the skewers and on top of the rice.

I realize that a year from now, even a month from now or probably by next week if I am being honest, no one is going to be recalling these particular pictures much. But I will remember things whenever I do come across them again…the joy of friendship, the kindness of God in meeting our needs, the simple pleasures of a good cup of coffee and delight in keeping a houseplant alive.


Stopping for a moment to grab my camera to take those pictures helps me cultivate a way of looking at my world with eyes that find beauty and a heart that finds thankfulness.

And that’s gotta be a good thing.

Seasons

personal

I like mornings. I like getting up early before everyone else, even if it is just by 20 minutes or so.

Lately, our mornings have been unusually pleasant so I turn on the coffee pot and go out back to see if Rob and I will be able to enjoy our first cup on the patio. The other morning it was so nice I weeded in the flower bed for a bit. There was something very peaceful in feeling the fresh sun rays on my head with my hands in the dirt.

Some mornings when I turn on the coffee pot, if I have been industrious in the kitchen, I have two loaves of sourdough bread that had their second rise overnight and I can pop them in the oven. There is not a much better smell than baking bread in the mornings. Actually, there isn’t a much better smell no matter the time of day!

Even if I didn’t have a calendar, I can feel the summer coming to a close. Perpetual rest becomes sloth and there is an internal clock that lets us know when enough is enough and we begin to feel a restlessness. We have gotten pretty good at shushing this inside clock but it’s there.

It never fails that as much as I love summer with it’s slower pace I begin to feel a need to settle into a different routine. It’s almost like when you have been enjoying a really good meal and everything is delicious but you know it’s time to stop eating before it’s just too much and nothing really tastes good anymore. Instead of the memory of how good everything was if you don’t push away form the table you just feel overstuffed and too full.

We’re made this way, I think. To need seasons and change. It’s kind of funny because for most of us change doesn’t come easily, even when we want it, even when it’s good change. In The Screwtape Letters, CS Lewis makes the case that because we live in time we must experience change in order to experience life. But God, in His great wisdom, does not wish for us to make make change itself an end so He has also given us a love for permanence. We’re able to enjoy the sameness of life, simply put, because it gives way to something else. It’s a newness anchored in sameness.

“He gives them the seasons, each season different yet every year the same, so that spring is always a novelty yet always as the recurrence of an immemorial theme.”

Backyard Update

Our little green square

It has been a few weeks since I shared about our backyard shenanigans so I thought I would give you an update. I just cannot help it! Things are growing and sprouting and blooming and everyday is a different canvas of color and beauty.

We planted three crepe myrtles and didn’t expect to see much out of them, or any of the things we planted really, because it was so late in the year but low and behold we are being so very pleasantly surprised. The bright red blooms are such a fun pop of color along the back fence.

Oh my goodness, I cannot get enough of the hydrangeas either! I think I will definitely be making some fine art prints with some of these.

Even the African Iris’ have bloomed twice!

Rob and I typically start our mornings outside these days and despite it being the middle of July it is quite pleasant. We sip our coffee, listening to the pool fountain and when the breeze blows the sound of the big beautiful windchimes he surprised me with dances across the air. Inevitably, one or both of us will get up and wander over to the vegetable garden and poke around some, pulling weeds here and there , or exclaiming excitedly over some new growth or seed that has borne fruit. Someone once said that if you ever want to experience the joy of accomplishing more than you can imagine, plant a garden. I have been far more pleased and enamoured by this work in our yard than I would have thought possible. There is a vaguely remembered childhood happiness that reconnects with my adult self…something about playing in the dirt and the satisfaction of connecting to the earth. Alfred Austin, an English poet best known for his works celebrating nature, was on to something when he said, “The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just the body, but the soul.” In these trying times of ours, rabid with anxiety and uncertainty, I highly suggest growing something, anything. Even if it is just a potted house plant. You will be much the richer for it, I promise.

Sorry for the philosophical rabbit trail! Now onto the beauty of our vegetable garden. So far we have only harvested a few cucumbers that have been delicious, I might add. But we have been delighted to see our eggplants and peppers producing even if we haven’t reached the point of eating them yet.

I’m in the garden with my camera multiple times a week. I’m fascinated by the seemingly secret world that goes unnoticed unless one is looking for it. Everyday there is growth and change and something new in the ancient act of death out of life.

For sure there is hard work involved but it is a sweet labor that brings about a goodness that touches on all areas of life.

The care of the Earth is our most ancient and most worthy, and after all our most pleasing responsibility. To cherish what remains of it and to foster its renewal is our only hope. ~ Wendell Berry

His Turn

Seniors

Things always move a little differently for this son of ours. I really thought I had convinced him that with all of the chaos, upheaval and general disruption to life and schooling due to covid19 that maybe we could go ahead and be done with school for now and postpone his graduation until in the fall sometime. There are two important things I should have realized before I assumed his silence meant acquiescence. The first being that his silence is never acquiescence. Seriously, if he does not give an affirmative agreement then you better not expect that he has accepted any sort of change in the plan. Secondly, numbers and dates have strong significant meaning to him and I should have known that graduation for seniors this year, no matter how it looks, happens in May. Not in April. Not in June. And certainly not sometime in the fall. May. May is graduation season.

What can I say other than, you know, autism.

It’s been a big year for Sam with us trying to loosen up the apron strings so to speak and allow him to have more freedom with being an adult. He has been responsible for getting his work done each day and we usually go over it after he’s finished. His favorite subject has been grammar because he wants to be a writer/cartoonist. (True story, when he was younger he wanted to be a cartoonist that delivered babies. He has since decided against the baby delivering part.)

We got him an ipad for Christmas and if you know us at all you probably realize what a big deal that is since we are not a tech heavy family and very reserved when it comes to devices. We have been quite surprised and pleased by the maturity he has shown having such a powerful device at his disposal. He is a very fast and also effective texter. And when I say fast I mean faaasssst.

One of the first things he did when he got the ipad was to create this little video clip of himself. Then he added the dragon. Still not real sure how he worked that and I realize it is rather basic but for a kid who had only had the equipment for all of ten minutes we were impressed.

In a very creative and fun exercise he made up the beginning of a short story that ended with a cliffhanger of sorts. We shared it with a couple of children in our church and he asked them what should happen next. He then created the next animated chapter based on their response. They bounced it back and forth a couple of times before ending the story with a happy ending. I really would love to see him develop this concept more of working with little kids and developing What happens next stories. There are parts to this one that really crack me up and if this is what he can come up with on his own Just by winging it I cannot wait to see what he can do with some actual training in animation. But one thing I do hope is that he doesn’t lose that old school style of cartooning. I love that his cartoons look like cartoons. (Turn your sound on if you watch and please do watch.)

Sam is unwavering in his desire to draw and create cartoons both animated and on paper. And I think we would be blown away if we could catch even a glimpse of half of what he sees inside his head.

He is a hard worker but it takes a minute to get him there. But be ready because when he does get there he is going to talk to you the whole time he does whatever job you have given him. I would have laughed in your face had you told me seventeen years ago that I would one day be telling that non-verbal two year old to please be quiet!

Right now we are trying to figure out what lies ahead for this special big-hearted-cartoon-drawing-story-telling young man. Maybe trade school or some sort of college in the fall. Classes that will help him continue to develop and polish his skills in animation. Meaningful work of some sort. Like every other young man at this juncture of his life Sam is facing the future with plans and dreams and hopes to leave his mark on the world. He is big and bold and full of ideas.

He is completely undaunted by the unknown. I love that about him, about the way an autistic brain works. He is fearless. To his way of thinking both of his big sisters reached this point and now it’s his turn and he’s ready.

And you know what? I believe he is and I cannot wait to see what the next few years bring.
We love you so much, Sam Jam! Congratulations on your graduation, bud!