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Saturday, November 30, 2013

Zen and the Art of Cleaning Up

All my life I've been "On The Quest". At least - since I was 7 years old and spent a summer "thinking".  Picture some 7-year old you know and imagine her lying still on a couch. Imagine asking her what she's doing and having her tell you "I'm thinking".  When you ask her what she's thinking about she tells you "Important things - arithmetic things"  And that's because this particular 7 year old (that was) knew instantly that there was no way she could tell her loving and beloved mother "I'm thinking how soon I can get out of here". The math I was doing was figuring out how many years it would be before I could go out on "The Quest".

I'm not sure I can quite describe what my quest is - though as I get older it's becoming clearer in my Third Eye vision. It has to do with stepping into the flow. Oh dear. There are more alliterative expressions that probably don't mean anything - or mean something different to each one of us. Suffice it to say there is a part of me that is hungry for a sensation - a feeling - a state of being where one knows All Is Well. All is well even if you have to wash dishes or do some other unpleasant chore.

That hunger is not strong enough to get me to become a contemplative - a nun - to leave this delicious temporal world - the here and now - the tactile, audible, scented, flavorful, visible world that ... has  dirty dishes that need washing.

I want both.  I have been reading Thích Nhất Hạnh's beautiful little book The Miracle of Mindfulness. In it he says that you should be fully present in whatever you do. I have never read a better treatise on Not Multi-tasking - and I have been practicing being mindful as often as I can ... be mindful enough to remember.  Thursday night - after guests had departed and family members had talked themselves out, I urged everyone off to bed. I wasn't exactly tired but I wanted to be alone and there was still a little tidying up to do. There was the good silver to get back into the silver boxes and the good china to be put down in that bottom cabinet. Wine glasses had to be washed by  hand and then stored in their cabinet. There were still some bits of food that needed to be wrapped up and refrigerated. There was a dishwasher to unload and enough dirty dishes to run another load.

Now - usually I'm pretty efficient with household chores. Usually I zip through them with my mind on Other Things. I might make a mental grocery list or compose an argument about something I want changed at work or plot out a shopping trip I plan to take.  Thursday night, though, I was just tired enough to remember I had the option of just being fully present in the task of cleaning up. It was the most amazing sensation. I moved continuously - but slowly - and I actually felt the sensation of the forks sliding out of my hand and into the utensil tray in the dishwasher. I heard the clinking sound they made.  They seemed shinier than usual. My fingertips slid across the slippery clean surface of wine glasses. I heard the drawer slide out as I reached for the silver box.

Every movement seemed to have both meaning and purpose. There was a realigning of my house that seemed to send little realignment ripples out into the universe. The whole experience was so delightful that I found myself looking around for More Things To Tidy Up. So I swept up the floor and straightened up the cover on the little couch and bundled up table linen till the whole house looked ready for company again.

And then I went to bed

And slept the sleep of the mindful.

What an amazing experience.

So now - the question is - am I supposed to do my housework like this for the rest of my life or do I slide back into multi-tasking - or perhaps my world should contain a little bit of both.

I think I'll go think about it - because I have always loved thinking.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Let The Festivities Begin

And so the Holiday Season begins. Of course I have been Thinking Holiday since Labor Day because after all - that's when the celebrations roll in thick and fast. There are no birthdays in August and we're all tired of the heat and wish summer would end. So even if it's still hot in September We (probably only TheQueen - hence the royal "we") are glad to begin the time of monthly Monday Holidays at last. And then, there is The Birthday. And one begins to think about presents in September if one is a knitter. And when the days grow shorter and the winds blow out of the north - one must think about cleaning the house before company starts showing up. And if one has dogs - one might get some help. But one might not. Yes yes. It's a dog's life around here - especially when Mama's at work all day. 

But finally that weekend before Thanksgiving dawns and when you are very very lucky - family arrives. This year we have both LD and P - who is ready to teach us how to dance the Hora. 
Callie - the graceful one, the feminine - wants to learn how to dance too. TheQueen obliges. 

Today is Turkey Shopping day and since I slaved away all day Thursday cleaning house - yes, the rugs and upholstered furniture were shampooed - I will take the weekend off from chores and save any housecleaning till more guests are closer to arriving. Instead I will untangle the holy mess Juno made of my Christmas knitting - or maybe I will even cast on that oatmeal Aran sweater. I finally realized that I am utterly in love with the cabled  hat I knit 2 years ago and want to use that same super easy, evenly repeating, pattern to make this sweater. I can wait for another time - and another yarn - to knit the complicated sweater residing now in the recesses of my mathematical Left Brain. There will be photos. This is not gift knitting - it's for mememememe.

And So

At TheCastle we're shouting "Let the festivities begin!!!"

Friday, November 15, 2013

What's Going On in TheQueen's Bi-cameral Brain

The B's have been pretty reticent lately - they're having a hard time coming to grips with something so I thought I'd let them each lay out their viewpoints and see what sort of conclusion they come to.

 emoticon LB   So do you realize TheHolidays are upon us? Do you realize we have to start planning and making lists. We don't want to show up on New Year's Day with an extra 20 lbs on us, now, do we?

 emoticon RB La la la la -emoticon Christmas is coming the goose is getting fat - hm hm hm hm hm.  emoticon

emoticon LB Hey! It's planning time! Listen to me

emoticon RB I am going to open myself to my true desires and let them flow into me

emoticon LB  Yeah. Hot rolls with butter and pumpkin pie are going to flow into you and when they do they'll flow into me too. We'll start the new year looking like a blimp and we won't fit into any of our clothes. Besides. Holiday plans are fun to  make. We need a shopping list for Thanksgiving and a Christmas gift list and we need to schedule the caroling and we really ought to spend the weekend creating that Christmas card address database. It's time to get crackin'!

emoticon RB emoticon We gather together to ask the Lord's blessingemoticon

emoticon LB Yes yes. We ought to ask that too - We need all the blessings we can get if we're going to make this a great holiday season. We really should make one of those Gratitude games to put at everyone's place at the Thanksgiving table. Oh and new sheets? do we have new sheets for the guest room? the old ones are so gross.

 emoticon RB I don't feel like making lists and planning. I feel like being open to accept what the universe wants to send me.

emoticon LB (quietly pondering a moment)  Well. I am sure it will be wonderful - and I actually understand that. I even want it. But. But you do realize that the Universe is also sending us a dozen guests for Thanksgiving and 4 short weeks afterwards to prepare for Christmas.

emoticon RB Yes. I do. And I know I've been dragging my feet - but I just think that ... too much list making will get us lots of tasks accomplished but maybe leave us with some rare opportunities missed.

emoticon LB Yeah. I actually knew that was what was going on in your side of the brain - but I feel stuck because I don't have a road map ... and that's making me feel anxious.

emoticon RB  No you don't. You think we're going to be sorry - I'm the feeler.

emoticon LB What I think is that we're going to be fatter because you will feel so nervous when things don't work out, because we did not plan, that you'll eat everything in sight.

emoticon RB  Oh. Yeah. You're right. I will do that.  Sigh. I don't want to grow out of my clothes but I don't want you to prod me so much that I'm unhappy.  Hey - and weren't those the cutest jeans we tried on yesterday? Are we going to buy them today? and that red dress - hot hot hot, weren't we? Man I love new clothes!

emoticon LB And I want to explore the possibility of magic happening  - of extraordinary opportunities coming into our lives that we hadn't thought of but ... I don't want to get caught with no Christmas gifts bought - or too much money being spent at the last minute on the ones we do buy. I just want the assurance of a few lists.

emoticon RB Well, can you put Time To Dream on one of those lists?

emoticon LB AB-SO-LUTELY! but remember - time we take for one thing has to come out of time we used to spend doing some other thing.

emoticon RB What about those jeans? Can we buy them? Huh? huh? today?

emoticon LB If I can find a discount coupon. If we get that cluttery pile of mail sorted out. Otherwise we have to wait till Tuesday when it's senior discount day.

emoticon RB Let's go sort the mail right now!

emoticon LB  LOL Okay - but after that we do a little holiday planning. OK?

emoticon RB OKAY!  emoticon hmm hmm Baby's got her blue jeans onemoticon

Sunday, November 3, 2013

November Splendor

What? Yes. Of course there is knitting going on in TheCastle, but it's Christmas Knitting and not for public viewing. Rest assured - proof of creativity is coming at TheCastle Near You. But on this delicious Extra Hour weekend - when daylight savings time goes off at last - I wanted to savor all the outdoor pleasure I could. Alas - the house - a house with spoiled  puppies owned by geezers who indulge their dogs way more than they did their children - was an utter wreck so I had to put in hours doing laundry, cleaning kitchens, vacuuming the dust dinosaurs out from under the bed. But once all that was done, I decided to take the Baby Puppy Juno, for a walk.

Here she is, helping me hang out the laundry.

My yard has many windows into the jewel box that is autumn splendor in Virginia. Here are the topaz leaves in their emerald setting.

I love a meandering lane - there's just something magical about a curve in the road and this is the lane to my house - so I get to enjoy it every day!

It was actually a very balmy day yesterday but you could tell by the sky that the weather was changing.

Little Juno was ready for any adventure. This is the half mile point we walk to most often, in the early mornings.

She's still at the pee pee poo poo chew chew puppy stage. It's a little extra work around the house but it's so much fun.

There were so many beautiful autumn colors popping out of the ground,

on the branches,

in the sky - it was just a glorious day.

I count myself as extremely fortunate to live in a place where my family has lived for centuries. We can see evidence of occupation all over the place - in the woods there are old corn cribs, across the fields are old tenant houses. They remind me that I'm part of a line of humanity that was before and will be afterwards. It makes me feel cozy and loved even when I am alone.

We just took the loop around the property - out the lane and home along the rim path. This was Juno's first time exploring the path all by her doggy self - since Callie, the big dog, was out on the sailboat. She felt very bold.

And then we were back home again and ready for some supper! FEED ME MAMA.

Hope you enjoyed walking around the farm with me. Today I will be gathering Black Walnuts. There's a super abundance of them and I think it's time I took advantage of the bounty. And I well begin planting the birthday daffodils.

Happy Sunday