Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Bike Rides and a Big Pot of Beans

Recently, I've learned a couple of things. One: if you make a big pot of beans, plan ahead. Heaven knows how you'll react when your tastebuds tire of the usual partnership with rice. And two: when a good friend visits, she may yank your perfectly capable (neglected) bike out of storage, lather its chain with canola oil, and bump along next to you down the sidewalk and onto lakeside trails speckled with Canadian Geese. Prepare your face for lots of grinning.

So, first thing's first: beans. One morning, I spent precious before-work-minutes consoling the beans before their eight hour soak. "Don't worry when you get plump. It's just water weight!" They seemed reassured and off to work, I went. Days later, after lunches of beans, couscous, and salsa failed to excite my palate, I rummaged the internet for a veggie burger recipe, and hurried home with mushrooms, green and yellow onions, garlic, and cumin to add to my squashed beans. Later, I was throwing patties on hot oil like a frying pro and my apartment took on the smell of the State Fair. However, my burgers didn't firm up like burgers should. I figure an egg will do the trick, next time. So tell me, dear readers, what would you do with the leftover beans? And please, don't say, "Stuff them down the disposal."

And secondly: my dear friend Amanda was passing through Raleigh one evening with her bike in tow. We unlocked my storage closet and carried the bike that once carried me in college from class to class into my living room. The real world (in its time-guzzling way), had worn hard on the bike's mojo, and its resuscitation ensued. Helmets strapped, tires pumped, and little-kid-anticipation engaged, we hit the road. And I tell you, no matter how concreted, how polluted, how humid-- every place is prettier on a bike. There are no windows to roll up, no volume to control, no gas to pump. Only low hanging wisteria vines to dodge, Canadian Geese to weave through, and people (yes, people) to smile at, talk to, or pass over a piece of bread to throw at hungry ducklings.

So let me ask you this: what possession in your closets could you carry into the light and give a little mouth-to-mouth? Paint brushes? Kayaks? Potter's wheel? Sometimes it takes a good friend to push you into new territory, but really, it's just important to make sure what you own, you use, and also that what you own, doesn't own you. I say this loudly to myself as I consider airing out the tent I don't use enough amongst mountains I don't see enough with the people I could never love enough. Sappy enough?

Time to eat more beans!

xxx Corrie Lynn

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Building A Nest In Goldfinch Barn

Perhaps my art professor was right a few years ago when he hinted that my work was too literal. Today I lusted after a cream mixing bowl in a department store, a bowl with little birds dancing around the rim. I promptly sent a text message to my sister expressing my alarm at this new heartache (at the same time emitting faint yet audible puppy dog whimpers). Five minutes before the bowl incident I was surreptitiously photographing a packet of notecards adorned with what? Birds again.

A little while later I was told I was nesting.

This is only a few days after my unbridled excitement following a forage on the internet for a new duvet cover. I found one, after many months of sporadic searching, one which totally fit my current temperament. It has a sky blue background, with blouzy pink and red roses, to follow many seasons of solids and stripes.

Perhaps it is all due to our entrance into a new era. Not pregnancy. A new era in our conversion of a stone barn into a comfortable place to dwell.

Four years ago we decided to move an hour inland and upland from the North Sea coast. We purchased a farm building attached to a cottage after recognizing the potential of the place. Our thoughts were - put some work in and give the structure a makeover. “Some work” became an understatement. Our barn, christened Goldfinch Barn, was a stone shell ready for a renaissance.

Presently we are able to see a little luminance at the end of one heck of a tunnel. Hence the time is ripe to laugh about some of the conditions we have lived through, by choice. There was a time when we had black walls, covered in a damp-proof membrane of sticky tar. This was not inviting and was definitely not a wipeable surface. Nonetheless it was great mechanism to trap free-flying cat fur and feeble insects.

For several years I lived without a sink in my kitchen and for even longer I have slept in a room with no natural light. I suppose it’s no surprise that friends/family staying over have said they’ve enjoyed the best night sleep in ages. (It is akin to sleeping in a cave). Now the windows are slowly opening and ushering in the beams of sunlight, some of the surfaces are easier to wipe and the rooms are beginning to ask for visitors.

So yes, it is a new era of floral prints, color charts and the delicate final touches, and I am the dancing bird.

Our kitchen, in the beginning, black walls and all, but hey, we still had a nice refrigerator! (And a vacuum cleaner!)

And now, black walls buried, protecting us from the ingress of horizontal rain.

xxx Laura