They left her luggage in Dubai – two suitcases stuffed with gifts and a scattering of clothes. And there were flight delays, and the traffic on the I-5 was so bad it took me 45 minutes to drive the last 20 miles to Sea-Tac – after hovering close to 80mph most of the way because I could notbe late, only when I announced that I was leaving Himself announced that before I left (it’s a four hour drive) he absolutely had to check the tires … the radiator … the oil … the-who-knows-what-because-I-had-to-run-inside-and-do-housework-to-prevent-myself-from-screaming … and then I was at the airport, and inside, and there were people everywhere but none of them was HER. (Although at least she had her phone and could text.)
And then there she was, and all I could do was hold on, and hold on, and when I let go she still held on.
It’s been so, so long. Half a lifetime, nearly. She was 18 when Himself and I found each other at some long lost intersection of the World-Wide Web, and I launched myself – not heeding the cost, never suspecting how high it would be – across the Atlantic and to the far side of a continent that was itself a world away, and into his arms, his bed, his life (our 17th anniversary was just the other day). And left her behind.
And now she’s here.
This whole feverish, dusty summer has been building up to this.Hours online planning a road trip, dollars committed – far more than I intended but it’s been so long – more hours tunneling through the chaotic mess of the guest bedroom and cleaning and transforming it into a welcoming space. The antique brass bed is the one I bought her when she was eight years old and we moved into the first (only) house I bought as an adult single person and I determined to give her a space that would feel like forever, like hers, like home. The karakul rug we found at the Rand Easter Show that same year – it’s still beautiful and soft on her feet, after I pulled it – covered with dust and bird shit and mouse droppings – out of the barn and sat with it in a steaming laundromat for hours a few days ago, one of the hottest days of this hot summer. The chest of drawers and wardrobe are empty, just waiting for her bags to arrive from Dubai.
We can wait. There’s no great rush. We have a whole three weeks of summer.
Himself went fishing today, so I decided to celebrate a day alone by not getting dressed … at all … apart from sandals, which became necessary when the Teenage Mutant Ninja Malinois decided that an unclad momma-boss lacked authority, and commenced chasing the horses with joyous disregard for my shrieks of “LEAVE IT!” from the porch.
As I barreled loudly across the yard clad in nothing but my Birkenstocks and brandishing a leash I did experience a brief little something-or-other, and if I’d had time to analyze it I would have said, “Huh – so that’s what a qualm feels like” – because while I dislike the Nasty Neighbor whose house overlooks the relevant portion of our yard, I don’t necessarily want to cause him a heart attack. But, you know, priorities … I got Argos out of the corral, confirmed that there was nobody waving at me from any of the surrounding pastures, and headed back into the house.
Out of consideration for the Nasty Neighbor I confined today’s gardening to the front porch, taking tulip bulbs out of pots to be stored until I plant them someplace permanent in fall. Apart from that, it’s been quite an ordinary day, largely spent dealing with some otherwise annoying business from behind my desk. I opened all the windows and set the ceiling fans to spinning and didn’t bother with air conditioning, and oh, the pleasure of a whole day of just me and my breeze-kissed skin!
Once upon a time I would strip off without a second thought. I’ve never been to a nudist resort – the idea of a place dedicated to being naked has always seemed a little silly, and I find it hard to believe that people there would be any less judgmental than people anywhere. But if you’re puttering about at home, or off on the river or at the beach or up a mountain somewhere where there’s no one else to notice or care – except, perhaps, one or two whom you love and trust – being naked has to be the best way in the world to minimize laundry.
I really wish I hadn’t stopped feeling happy and at peace and comfortable inside my skin.
Some days give one a quiet sense of things accomplished, small steps taken in the right direction. I’ve had a few of those just lately, and it feels good! No huge achievements or startling epiphanies – just life lived quietly, one day at a time.
Like … sitting down now to write my second blog post in a week – thanks mainly to inspiration by the inimitable Aussa. (Yes, okay, go and look, click “follow”, but mind you come back, okay?)
For the first time in months, maybe years, writing is not a struggle. I don’t feel I have to prove anything to anybody, including myself. I could work on any of a number of ideas I’ve lined up among my drafts, but instead I’m just going to record today – because really good days make memories, and really bad days leave wounds, but days like today get lived, and that’s worth noting.
Had to interrupt this for a quick errand of mercy. It is HOT – 106F, and I just saw one of our swallows on the veranda outside the window that I’m facing. (We have a pair that comes every year to raise a family or two under the veranda roof. I would like a whole colony; the poop is a bit of a pain, but it’s worth it to have NO FLIES on that side of the house, despite being close to the corral.) The poor creature was all fluffed up and panting. The river is only a quarter mile away, but I wouldn’t want to have to go that far in this heat. So anyway, I’ve put a bowl of water on the table outside, with a stone in it for perching on, and two guinea fowl all the way from South Africa, because all the best restaurants have exotic decor.
And … now I have company. Himself and I share an office, and sometimes that’s a lot of togetherness. I do have my own (incipient) office, aka the Ivory Tower, upstairs … except that we don’t actually have stairs to get up to it. The room was inserted under the roof as an afterthought while the house was being built, and we have yet to figure out where the stairs should go. So for now, Himself and I share, and I should mention that he is unleashing his muse. Alackaday!
He is creating a video, complete with a carefully selected theme tune, that he filmed this morning, while I was playing with the tractor. The farrier is coming tomorrow to give Vos and Lizzy their monthly manicure, and I think we’re overfeeding them because the amount of poop they had generated was enough to make you go DUNGGGGGG. Jim scraped it all up into a tidy heap, which he was about to push off to the side of the corral, but then it occurred to me that I should probably learn to do tractor work myself because, you know, he’s getting old and all, and occasionally cranky, and anyway I’m fed up with being ineffectual around machinery. So I poked around a bit between reverse and first gear and – WHOOPS – up onto the dunghill, and making the scraper thingy go up and down, and you have no idea how big a gouge it makes when you rev and those huge tractor tires spin in the dirt! Eventually the heap was artistically untidy again and I had enough dust behind my contact lenses to feel that honor had been satisfied, so I let him get on with it.
No, I am not going to share the video. I was wearing shorts. My knees are visible. They have dimples. Nobody without the questionable benefit of a marriage license needs to see that. You’re welcome.
Anyway, driving the tractor was only one of the interesting things that happened today. The fun started shortly after sunrise, when I reminded Himself of various outdoor chores we had to do before the heat became unbearable. So the first task of the day was to persuade four reluctant and exceedingly stupid steers to move from one pasture to another. This involved much slow stomping through tussocky grass waving long whips, while they basically ignored me. Not for the first time I fantasized about just hopping up onto Vos driving them – I know for darn sure he was a cowhorse in a previous life – but that is probably not going to happen any time soon. This is why…
Then it was time to clean up the corral before Himself got going with his tractor. While I was picking up the random bits of junk that had somehow ended up in there (willow branches that Vos and Lizzie have done chewing on, and random toys and bits of wood that the wind or the dogs have brought in), I noticed that we’d grown ourselves a new crop of rocks. Yes, indeed, here in Eastern Washington we grow rocks. A scientifically inclined friend once tried to blame it on tectonic plates, but I’m pretty sure it’s trolls. Anyway, I wandered off to the veggie garden in search of a wheelbarrow so that I could cart them off somewhere useful. Himself said it was next to the grape arbor, but…
… I couldn’t find it.
After my previously described tractor-riding adventure, I came back inside and read a few chapters of Sue Monk Kidd’s “The Invention of Wings” (highly recommended). Then I channeled Dave Ramsey and updated our debt snowball for the first time in about eight months and discovered that our debts had shrunk by about one-third despite being completely ignored, thanks to nothing more complicated than scheduled bank payments and this:
Yes, cutting up your credit cards really does work. Who knew?
And now here I am, watching the shadows stretch toward the river while the swallows swoop around the veranda. There are a couple of finches, too, panting and ruffled. I hope they notice their water bowl soon! I’m pleasantly achey from the morning’s exercise, and I feel good about what I’ve done with today. It’s quiet – Himself is done with his artistic endeavors, and is off reading somewhere. The dogs are sprawled on the floor, asleep. All is calm.
Ah. Spoke too soon.The baby wants his dinner…
What are the ingredients of an ordinary but good day for you?