Friday, 29 April 2011

Domestic Bliss and a Housekeeping Hiss

I have lived in Goldfinch Barn longer than any other abode, apart from the house I grew up in on Kluttz Road in North Carolina. Since 2006 it truly has been a love/hate relationship as a result of our choice to renovate from scratch. A work colleague once thought, when I told her we had no windows in our bedrooms, that I meant we had large gaping holes, letting the elements in so snow would accumulate at the foot of our bed. It never was that bad, but it was close.

Yesterday before work I looked out the window and noticed the late April frost which seemed to creep up the hill and stop just below our fence. It looked as if it had spared our little section of land. This made me think of the idea of "ownership" and how 5 years spent in one house engenders a marriage between human and habitation. It made me think that ownership, in the big scheme, is an illusion because none of what we "own" has any real permanence.

When I moved to the UK I heard more than I ever did before a description of someone as being "house proud". I heard my mother-in-law describe how her auntie would diligently sweep their section of sidewalk because woe betide! it appear the slightest bit untidy. On one level I understand -- this is a small island and people like to show pride in the parts of themselves and what is theirs that are on display. "Cleanliness is next to godliness"... and all that.

For anyone who knows me well they know tidiness is not one of my virtues. I usually have a frenzy before any expected guests arrive where I have to meditate and invoke my inner Mitzi (I love you Mom) to guide me to the messy places. My car has been known to house over long periods of time strange things such as brooms, socks without partners and a lone bag of rice. My mind does not work in an ordered manner. I find it very difficult to view a room in my house and decide what needs done to make it look ordered. Intense concentration is required in these situations.

After spending a number of years in one house you do come to know that house like the back of your hand. I know which room is the warmest, which one holds the smell of cooking longest and how light travels through rooms as the day passes. My time in Goldfinch Barn has taught me how sandstone feels to the touch and how it traps heat. I learned where dust collects and how long spells of rain swells the wood. I adore the Spring in these parts and Winter fills me with a faint dread coupled with a determination to endure.

For now, I am on the right side of the Summer equinox so I will go sow some seeds and get my hands dirty. I may find some time to tidy up later too. (Mom will have her fingers crossed)

Lots of love,

A stately photo of Georgie, quite unlike him.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Taking Courage to the Corner

Habits form whether we want them to or not. Take hot yoga. Each week, I walk barefoot into a mist of stale sweat, reacquaint myself with the smell of adolescent feet, and roll out my mat just steps from the door. This one door into the heated room separates us from the reality of fresh, cool air. There is a crack under it and if you angle your mat just right, you can catch a hint of its heaven during the hell of the full locust or the respite of savasana. Sometimes, when you're lucky, and when your face spells "H-E-L-P," the instructor will crack it open or wave its gifts into the depths of our very own rainforest. Therefore, my first pitstop upon arriving to hot yoga, is the dumping of my mat to this spot, this crutch of cool air.

Reminds me of the time I took a trip to Mission, South Dakota with a
church youth group in high school. To engage with the Native American culture we were serving, a group of us took part in the sweat lodge ritual. We sat shoulder to shoulder in a canvas tent around a pile of burning hot lava rocks. The Chief poured water over them, let steam permeate the congregates, and sang traditional chants. I had never coveted cold things so badly: orange soda, ice cubes, a brick wall-- anything! Because it was utterly dark, I found the cool earth with my face and rooted like a pig. Talk about humbling. And fifteen minutes later, I exited the tent, dirt-faced, drenched, and about the happiest I can remember. Talk about moving mountains.

And just last week, m
y friend Vanessa and I showed up to hot yoga fresh after an 8 hour work day. Many others had a similar notion. The lobby was full of first timers signing waivers, asking questions through their jitters, and as we piled into the room, I found my usual spot full of freshman yogis. So, we took to the dreaded back corner, the corner that couldn't see the horizon, the first daffodil of Spring, the infant's first smile. The muscular man with many tattoos laid his mat beside of me and I suddenly felt ill-equipped. Maybe I needed a barbed wire chain around my bicep.

But as most things go, we got started and we breathed deeper. We stared into our own eyes for the half-moon, the eagle, the tree. When the door opened, I couldn't feel the cool, but I knew it was there. When I quit expecting it, I gave more attention to my breath, to how happy the pigeon m
akes my hips, and how falling into child's pose after the camel is a lot like seeing the horizon. And then, I realized, the corner is okay. The cool air was how I remembered it the whole way home.

This photo has very little to do with my blogpost, but I found it so striking. Imagine being chased by a tornado of cotton candy! I suppose it's a little like hot yoga. A little scary and A LOT sweet.

And here's my lovely lady pal, Vanessa. We also ride swings at the fair together.

xo Corrie Lynn

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Germination and Spring Agitation

It’s happening again, and I can’t seem to stop laughing. (Warning – this post might be manic). Oh and in case you and wondering my new shade of nail polish will be called (trendy, I know) "Dirt".

First of all, my Rainbow Chili seeds have germinated. Each morning I come downstairs much too early for a progress report on germination (having only checked 6 hours before). I read on the seed packet that germination for this particular variety of chili can be erratic, so sow them all. Apparently they are a wild sort of chili, moody and choosy about when and where to show up, and I’ve been successful in convincing them to show their faces in Weardale, in the boiler room of a barn on an exposed hillside of all places. Oh the excitement!

Meanwhile, my cat Annie is highly annoyed that I’ve taken over her warm space on the boiler for seed planting.

Second, I should point out why I have the giggles. I recently watched an episode of An Idiot Abroad starring Karl Pilkington, the one where he travels in India and visits the yogis. If you are so guided to seek this out, do look for the part where one flexible fella wraps and manipulates his manly member in a most astounding manner. My mind’s eye would not expel this image during my yoga class as we were prompted to close our eyes and breathe deeply. The laughter was bubbling out and I felt called to explain this incredible feat to my classmates. What a man did with his “willy.” I'm sure some of them wished I had kept my mouth shut as they were imagining waterfalls and birds chirping.

So that being that, I just consumed the last of my 2010/11 harvest by chomping on an unexpected crop of flavour-packed parsnips. When I said above that it was happening again, of course I meant the second birth of my green fingered frenzy. The temperature is ever so milder here, the daffodils are aiming for the sun, and my fingernails just will not come clean due to my love affair with soil. Crumbling it, shifting it, conditioning it for the children it’s about to accept into its fold.

I should also add that RuthandLucille is about to celebrate birthday UNO! Shall we sing?

Thank you so much for stopping by!

My little tomatillos. Their overbearing mother has pushed them into the best spot for sunlight.

The new plot, which came with bigger biceps.

Pretty In Purple Rainbow Chili Seedlings - arms open!

P.S. If you're interested in where I purchased my seeds, see

P.S.S. The title of this blog makes me think of Michael Jackson's song "Black or White". Am I alone here?

Laura xxooxxoo