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Monday, January 16, 2012

What the Calendar Remembers

Snow has dusted our little cottage on the hill and, though I am (sorry) not a big fan of snow, it sure looks cozy around here today.  And the beauty pulls me from my funk a bit, even if I'm tender-hearted, tired, and a little full-headed today.

While MLK day is historically of course a very important, impactful day to observe, in my heart's own little personal world, it tends to be a day of tragic anniversaries.  Californians may recall it as Northridge Quake day, an ominous one for my family because of our proximity to the epicenter that day, decades ago… the way our hotel buckled and shook while walls imploded and concrete bridges collapsed within earshot and we sat, only children, barefoot in a dark broken parking lot with hands over ears from the car alarms blasting, watching gas tanks firework in the distance and drinking beer from dented cans to combat the shock because it’s the only thing we knew to do when the world was crumbling beneath our feet.  But this earthquake-shy girl is tender, too, today remembering beautiful, full-of-life young friends lost to the world on this day, a few years apart, and other small slivers from MLK-Mondays past that have wedged their way inside.  I am sobered to remember how tragedy strikes hard on promise-filled days and always without warning, and deliberate to remember, too, that it's all redemptive, even the hardest parts, and that the day reflects, too, a man's Dream of a better world. 

So the sky is expansive this Monday for the snow and the way a calendar reminds.  But I aim to see today more for what it is than what it represents in a head that catalogues joys and sorrows and assigns arbitrary meaning when I am too small, really, to see what He sees here, by each thread that weaves together the whole big story, snowflake by snowflake. 

 My thoughts have lingered on small sorrows from days past and I breathe deep and break through it, snapped back to the present like the close of a flashback scene in a television drama.  Today there are no death-tears, no broken windows or broken hearts or earthquake rubble.  There is only love, and snow, and a house in the process of becoming home.

Under blankets, we nurse coughs and sniffles around the cottage, and kids in jammies look wistfully toward the thinning snow, but mom shakes her head and serves up cherry-flavored syrup that protects little throats and twists little faces into grimace.  This is what mothers do, even when my heart would rather soak up fits of snowball-fight laughter than read temperature gauges and dosing instructions, today, but love is love all the same and I'll take it as a fevered head upon my lap when that's the way it comes.

 Friday will be housewarming around here, and I will focus on what needs doing now until then, when friends and laughter fill this place because, after all, no amount of paint or picture-hanging can make a home, can it?  Only the footprints of loved ones in the carpet and the love that leaks out of mouths and brings the odd combination of plaster and wood and food and joy and fabric and words and tears and memories together to make a place home.  

First, my gratitudes today…. with Ann… and always compiling, stockpiling, yet still without numbers, since I stick them always in journals and lists, phone apps and scrap papers and have lost the composure to keep a system of numbering in place.  It is possible to count without numbers, I've discovered, and so, I do:

- Gentle snow that is tangible peace, falling like manna.
- Cough syrup, and a hacky toddler willing to drink it.
- Kids visiting grandma's yesterday, some quiet to work on my creative space.
- Kids back home now, where they belong.
- My desk space set-up, inviting and so "me".
- My laundry room to crafty space conversion, progress made.
- A husband who encourages me, some days, to leave the dishes in the sink because he sees me for who I am and not only what I do.
- The quiet cacophony of the life I wished for and got in abundant measure.
- My children that love and even like each other, most days.
- A few unexpected work transitions that have me enjoying my day job much more lately.
- A compassionate boss.
- Winter sniffles that slow our pace a bit.
- Our Compassion International sponsored child, Muhayimpundu, in Rwanda.
- My husband's old land cruiser project, a creative outlet for the man who puts us all before himself so often.
- My children having health insurance and a doctor we trust.
- Words With Friends - a tiny bit of intellectual stimulation in the midst of my brain-mush days.
- Being asked to collaborate on a totally foreign-to-me writing project that inspires creativity in new ways.
- My daughter's love and compassionate heart for cultures different than her own.
- A working vacuum cleaner.

And, as if this post isn't long enough, and because I value the accountability I find here (since it lights a fire under my butt to get things moving):  A list of things I'd like to accomplish around the house pre-housewarming/late birthday party (items in italics are things I need Mr. Smitten's help with): 

January House to Home Project List
- Whole house clean - kitchen, bedrooms, living areas, bathrooms
- Break down and repurpose or burn remaining moving boxes
- Finish setting up desk area.
- Make vinyl quote for desk/office wall
- Make/hang misc. wall art for desk/office wall.
- Hang curtains behind bed.
- Buy curtain rod and hang curtains across slider in master bedroom
- Buy curtain rod for master bathroom and hang curtains
- Hang 'love' banner in master bedroom
- Bring white chair in from garage for master bathroom dressing area
- Bring extension cords into master bath for heater
- Hang towels that match master bath (label)
- Empty hall closet, set up mail/bill pay/filing area inside
- Move desk from boys' room into master; move mirror from garage onto desk in master
- Clean/unpack entry way boxes/misc., mop tile floor
- Empty black hutch
- Bring vintage stove into dining room; move black computer hutch into boys' room.
- Bring big filing cabinet into garage
- Bring smaller filing cabinet inside and swap out files from big one
- Clean K's room and consolidate stuffed animals/toys, take box to garage or donate.
- Bring remaining books in from garage, put away in hallway bookshelves.
- Find/replace missing knobs on coffee table drawers.
- Take legs (and doors?) off sideboard and make entry table by back door
- Hang hooks over sideboard for coat hanger
- Bring in antique radio
- Hang some wall d├ęcor in master bathroom.
- Unpack boxes in hallway
- Hang hallway photo gallery
- Empty laundry room, bring black dresser and cubby bookshelf inside
- Decorate laundry space
- Set-up and organize craft supplies/creative space
- Wrap cardboard boxes & label them for decorative craft storage
- Clean living room and entry hall overflow piles

May love find you today, dear friend.  Thanks for reading.  


  1. I was just thinking about this, that years stack on top of years, and the longer you live (you know, because we're so old...) the more each day represents: days we gave birth, and lost lives that were precious to us, and witness tragedy and saw hope reborn - and how it is good to remember and also good to live in this present moment.  Love your heart here, Cara.

  2. Oh...I didn't know earthquake memories haunted you too... In a MUCH different way...I understand.

    I pray in the midst of the sniffles and housewarming and January lists...you WIIL find rest for your heart, your soul, and your bones...or maybe literally your muscles...that one would make more sense, eh?

    Miss you!


Your comments are such an encouragement. Thank you for sharing your valuable words.