A Taste of What Can Make the Soul Sing

Edgar Allen Poe's room; attribution to Futurilla; Flickr creative commons

Edgar Allen Poe’s room; attribution to Futurilla; Flickr creative commons

There are many reasons, known and unknown, why we choose what to pursue in life. Much of my focus has arisen from necessity and responsibility; there were limitations as to what was available to me and other people have had a tremendous influence as well.

Some things are so familiar, like water for a fish; now I’m talking about things that make one’s soul sing. For me that has been my love of old architecture. No one ever talked about architecture when I was growing up in an area where everything looked ugly to me. The first time I went to an art museum on a school trip, I loved the building as well as the Monets and other art. In school I wasn’t good at math, logic and whatever sort of things one needs to be good at to become an architect. The idea never crossed my mind for decades.

I’ve always been tuned in to a sort of hierarchy of what society considers most important; lovely buildings didn’t seem to be it. I recall the emotional impact of watching ugly housing projects implode on television and I enjoyed daydreaming about rehabilitating interiors. When I realized my love and looked into schooling, I became aware that much of building now is about boring stuff like codes and laws which ruins it all for me, even if the study were to be within my reach. I tend to think I built bridges and buildings in ancient times–that is the feeling I get.

Anyway, it was on my radar that people were fixing up houses and most of it seemed to be too much about business. It just made me feel kind of sad as I went about caring for the things in my life that made practical sense. So it was with delight that I noticed something on Pinterest about the Bronson Pinchot Project. He’s fixing up old homes in Pennsylvania and it’s being filmed for television. I honestly had never heard of him as an actor, although he’s famous, and I don’t have access to HGTV or the diy network. I very much enjoyed watching some Youtube videos and then looked through the confusing websites until I found this page where some of the episodes are available as of now.

I have different taste in decor than Mr Pinchot but if I could be an astronaut or a rock star or such, I’d likely do something similar to what he’s doing. Recently had an epiphany about all this. (I might have had it before and simply denied it.) I love to draw but I love real flowers and animals so much better than drawing them. Drawing fantasy architecture or simply utilizing classical details in drawings would be something I could really enjoy and satisfy my love. It’s given me lots to think about regarding people who need more passion in their lives but aren’t hopeful or have clarity about how to fit it in. Even a little taste could go a long way.

One of the things I enjoy about blogging here is searching through Flickr creative commons for a photo for my posts. In searching this time, I found this gem of a photo of Edgar Allen Poe’s room at the University of Virginia.

Comforts Against Cabin Fever

Evening Warm-up; photo by owlpacino from flickr creative commons

Evening Warm-up; photo by owlpacino from flickr creative commons

January has been a good month and I’ve much to appreciate. One thing that I’m longing for now is a closer connection with nature. It’s been unusually cold for longer stretches of time, the sidewalks have been too icy for me, flu has been rampant and I didn’t have to go out so I stayed in with my well-planned stash of necessities. Even opening the windows a crack for a few minutes every few days has helped but I’m really looking forward to the first walk along the river and the first spring flower I notice.

Hydration is important in the winter as well and I believe I’ll feel better with drinking less coffee and more water this week. If it’s warm drinks that comfort, some honey and cinnamon in water is great. I’ve taken the time to make some this past weekend as well as hot chocolate made with coconut milk and good quality cocoa. Why would I think I’m too busy to stand there and stir the chocolate in for a moment? Actually that’s just an habitual, unconscious thought and something that I’ve picked up from the culture around me that considers being crazy-busy as an honorable thing.

It’s tempting to stay up late and stare at something on the flickering screen of laptop–Pinterest and hulu–but I’m being mindful of the healing benefits of being in bed by 10:00. Stretching too, especially when I’ve been sitting in the recliner for about an hour, makes a difference in how I feel.

Last week I wrote about my enjoyment of Downton Abbey. I’m also reading a book by Charles Finch called A Death in the Small Hours. I quite enjoy reading novels set in Victorian times and I’ve read all his previous work. It doesn’t seem to be as easy to sit down and focus on a book as it used to be but winter is an excellent time to coax myself into it.

I guess what I’m going for is to make the most of the opportunities I have in this season so that I’ll be ready for spring in reasonably good shape while giving myself some comfort and stimulation now instead of feeling deprived and focusing on what I can’t do.

My Fascination With the Images of Cuba

Havana Courtyard by Michael Tutton from flickr creative commons

Havana Courtyard by Michael Tutton from flickr creative commons

Mostly the impressions I had of Cuba that flickered around on the edges of my radar, weren’t very positive. Poverty and politics and the military, cigars but not much of beauty. A few months ago I was looking at photos on Pinterest, something that is very effective when I’m on hold trying to straighten out some annoying first world problem that must be dealt with.

There were some photos of Cuba taken by Michael Eastman that I loved. I looked at his website, read his bio and kept thinking about the inspiring images. I purchased his coffee table book, Havana, as a holiday gift for myself and it’s a good fix for me to look through it still.

There are some inspiring photos on flickr as well, like the one above by Michael Tutton.

In the Havana book, Eastman mentioned noticing the buildings and backgrounds of Cuba in the film, Buena Vista Social Club, so I rented that and the beauty in it was striking.

Then I recalled enjoying some of the episodes of Covert Affairs that were filmed on other locations, one of which was Cuba in an episode called Loving the Alien.

While I’ve always wanted to visit Ireland and New Zealand and a few other places, I’ve now added Havana to my list but for now I enjoy seeing the images.

January Evenings and Indulgences

Highclere Castle ~ photo from flickr creative commons.

Highclere Castle ~ photo from flickr creative commons.

The third season of Downton Abbey is finally here. (The photo of Highclere Castle, where it’s filmed, is by Jonathan Rieke.)

Sometimes I almost feel as though I’m part of the family. Maggie Smith’s character is a delight to watch, although I wouldn’t want to deal with her in real life. There’s an online quiz, “Which Downton Abbey Job is Right for You”, and I scored Isobel Crawley.

It’s been unusually cold here and the sidewalks are icy or slippery in many places, depending on what has or hasn’t been done. Some people are boring with their struggles regarding New Year’s Resolutions and I’m as interested and supportive as I can be, depending on my energy level among other things. It’s been years since I’ve made resolutions, although I have goals and choose several areas of focus.

I’ve done well with having a “word of the year”. This year my word is “refresh”. I didn’t pick it; it persistently and insistently made itself noticed and while I’m not up for explaining what it might mean, the word seems appropriate and I’ve accepted it.

With new dietary restrictions at this time–because health is very important to me–my treat of choice now is having a glass or two of red wine some evenings, even though I don’t bother obtaining wine without sulfites. We all have our little escapes and soft addictions; I’ve eliminated some and upgraded others.

Freshly grated ginger for tea in the afternoon is another treat I’ve been looking forward to lately. It isn’t about what I’ve chosen; it’s about my paying attention and making the time and effort to follow through instead of telling myself I’m too busy and that “maybe tomorrow” I’ll take care of myself in this way.

By next month the energies and themes of my life will be different and something else will be available to add a little sparkle and pleasure to my daily existence. Taking responsibility is valued by me and when this life is over I don’t want to look back and see a pattern of self-denial when it came down to appreciating life.

What are you making the time to enjoy these days?

Fashion Trends I Like

Now this is a subject I rarely speak up about. I’ve developed my own fashion sense over the years, know what I like and what works for me and dress to please myself. I do notice fashion though. There are two trends that (according to the internet) are coming up for 2012 and I welcome them.

One is the color of the year for 2012. Every year Pantone chooses a color and it really does affect clothing, decor, nail polish and other stuff that consumers buy. It really is a big deal in the industry. The color chosen is Tangerine Mango. It is a delicious shade of, well….tangerine mango. This is a color I wouldn’t wear unless it was shaded with gray but I do have similar colored objects in my home and love to look at them.

The second trend is a move to flatter shoes for women. Equestrian boots and kind of biker boot looks. The high heeled shoe thing is ridiculous and dangerous. And no, it isn’t sour grapes because I am physically not able to wear them.

I sometimes watch television on hulu and see the shows where the female detectives, spies and the like run down alleys after people and climb down river banks to look at dead bodies….in heels. Those shows will look weird and clunky in re-runs I think and I welcome the end of the high-heeled run, if this report is true.

Sunday

There’s a new moon today, which I believe is a great time to begin things and make plans for the next four weeks. This time I have things planned already so I began watching the first season of Downton Abbey.

The story is taking place in England in 1914 and involves the Aristocracy and the serving class in a grand country home. Once I began watching it there was no way I could walk away from it. This DVD just came out so it will be awhile before I get to see the next one.

It was a good way to keep my mind off the week ahead. Two of my least favorite things are happening this week. I’ll be meeting with my tax accountant and I also have a dentist appointment.

Spring

After laying low for a few days, I went out for a food run this afternoon. The city seemed deserted. It looks like spring to me now because the forsythia bushes are blooming and the sidewalks are marked up for construction, with a few fenced off and being worked on already.

I’ve been watching Who Do You Think You Are on Hulu, all six episodes from this season so far. The first thing that surprised me is that I’ve never been interested in any of the celebrities featured. After watching for awhile, I begin to care. I guess unless someone is really awful, people are easier to care about once you get to know them a little better.

The second thing I’m aware of is how touched and heartfelt the celebrities appear when they consider the hardships of their ancestors. Some of the ancestors were not sterling characters. So far, the one’s I’ve seen are all in the eastern U.S. except for Kim Cattrall, who went to England.

Edwardian Farm

A few months ago, I greatly enjoyed the BBC show Victorian Farm which someone posted in videos on YouTube. The DVD’s which are available on Amazon do not play in my regions’s DVD players.

The two archeologists, Peter and Alex, and historian Ruth, lived for a year on a farm they worked as the Victorians did for a year, like a documentary/reality show. After checking back a few times, someone has now posted the episodes of Edwardian Farm which I’ve begun watching. It’s all I can do to keep from staying up into the wee hours of the morning watching more of it.

The Edwardian era in England was from about 1901 when Queen Victoria died to about 1914 while King Edward the 7th was on the throne, ending about the time of the first World War. (This was about six years before my Dad was born here in America). I’m guessing that King Edward was the grandfather of the “King’s Speech” King.

Anyway, it’s fascinating. They’ve already brought in farm animals. Ruth scrubbed the kitchen floor with a brush on her hands and knees and said that women would do that twice a day in that era. (It doesn’t sound like my ancestors would have but never mind that.)

The soil is acidic and the men hauled tons (literally) of limestone to nearby kilns to burn into quick lime to spread on the field. Much of the men’s work so far has seemed very dangerous to me. The quick lime business let off toxic carbon monoxide and if gotten wet could cause an explosion or caustic burns.

A heavy granite rock was carved into a feed trough to keep the sheep food off the ground. It was moved in a very laborious way of the times.

One of the meals that Ruth cooked was a sheep’s head soup and it was gross to see the actual head on the table and later when the soup was done. Most of the meat during the time seems to have been sold and what was left for the farmers were such as the head.

The chimney was clogged up and Alex climbed up on the roof while Peter and Ruth were helping near the stove below to unclog it. Fortunately, Alex couldn’t bring himself to use the chicken–yes, he was holding a live chicken to throw down the chimney to unclog it–and they ended up using a bunch of holly instead. Another dirty job.

Ruth spent hours out in the field cutting gorse to feed the horses. It looked rough but they stomp on it first and eat it.

This is what I remember from watching–me of the not-so-great-memory–and I will attempt to ration my enjoyment of it to make the episodes last. There’s always the chance that YouTube will shut down the account like they tend to do. While I enjoy watching, I am certain I would not want to live that lifestyle after living as I do now.

Bridget Jones

Yesterday evening I watched Bridget Jones Diary for the first time in quite awhile. It’s quite enjoyable for me and makes me laugh.

Since I’d seen it last, I’ve watched quite a few British movies and television and now recognized many of the other actors in the film. And I love Colin Firth.

It was the British character actors that greatly improved my self-image because they are lovely and look like real people. People who like food too.

Perfection Is The Antithesis Of Authenticity

That sounds so true to me and I’m often scanning for things that sound true in the midst of all the spin and bullshit and skewed opinions and misinformation.

That statement was heard by me on the television show White Collar by a character who was making a fake ruby. I was taking a break, resting my body and letting my mind be entertained after getting important things done. The busy work will have to wait until I have more energy.

It’s understandable that I’d feel exhausted considering–and I won’t go into that again. When my energy does come back–more of it and more often, surely I will not waste it on stuff that doesn’t matter.

It looks to me like a lot of people are considering exhaustion as a kind of status symbol of how important and productive they are. Sometimes it sounds like a kind of competition, being played by people who don’t really need to do that. It looks sad to me, just like the Hollywood and fashion folks who want to be really thin and so deprive themselves of food.

It is a good day for me even though I don’t have a lot of energy ( a temporary thing) and I’m not thin. I am way closer to authentic than I am to perfect and I prefer it that way. How about you?

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