Something “new” I’m working on, out of foam stencils, coated in several decades of cracked spray paint and reclaimed wood from my neighbor’s old deck. Still just playing around, but I have big dreams of a rather large, custom art piece with hand painted details to hang over my couch. There’s something very calming about not only the process of making art, but also imagining ways to breathe new life into old objects, formerly destined for the dumpster.
Last month I was backing out of my parking space at work (a historic mansion currently undergoing renovations) when something sticking out of the dumpster caught my eye…before I could talk myself out of it, I’d dug up 11 vintage wood drawers + 1 matching chest, a metal bin and 2 planks of wood. I had just enough time to stuff them in the back of my car (narrowly avoiding ruining my dress clothes) and speed away to pick up my son from summer camp. Not everyone understands the thrill of such a find appearing right next to your empty car (ahem…my husband), but to the natural-born junkster, such a gift cannot be ignored.
And I’m happy to prove that I’ve since put *most of my discoveries to good use. My 5 year old son, Connor, immediately claimed the metal bin for his toy cars (smart kid). But I’ve turned 2 of the lovely, chippy drawers into functional & decorative storage boxes and the chest, which sits next to my kitchen table, is great place to keep paper plates, cups & napkins within easy reach for summer entertaining.
I love having such a convenient & well-lit spot to put reading material (with extra room for my coffee!) and even my husband can’t deny that his keys aren’t getting lost nearly as often. A thrifty find is always thrilling, but hands-down, nothing beats free!
*OK, so I still have no idea yet, what I’m going to do with the other 9 drawers or the planks of wood, but experience has taught me that if I wait long enough, inspiration will come. Until then, my “collection” is stashed safely out of the way in my basement laundry room.
“It looks magical!” exclaimed my 10 year old friend, a recent immigrant from Rwanda, as we sat next to each other on a blanket, watching fireworks paint bright streaks across the black sky. It was another “first” for her in her new life in America. Nearby, her one year old brother and my 5 year old son sat unnaturally still, entranced (as we all were) by the sight, while rainbows of color danced in their sparkling eyes. As long as I can remember, Independence Day and fireworks have always gone hand-in-hand, precluded by a full day of fun and feasting with beloved friends and family. The formula doesn’t alter much from year to year, and yet it is one of those iconic American traditions that never gets old. At any other time of year, the list of things to be checked off and hassles to be endured might have seemed like more of an inconvenience than a pleasure – cleaning, shopping, cooking, packing, crowds, noise, heat, traffic, unpacking, more cleaning – but as my young friend alluded, there is something inherently magical about days with so much “living” packed into them that by the time you fall into bed, once you finally make it back home, you are wobbly from contented exhaustion.
Today has been the opposite of yesterday in nearly every way. Yesterday, I never stopped moving (and never minded). But today, I’m not ashamed to admit that I didn’t crawl out of bed until long past “normal” breakfast time and I’ve barely moved from my favorite chair, except to refill my coffee cup and snack on yesterday’s abundant leftovers. As I sit on my “island” surveying the aftermath of a dozen warm bodies moving in, out & about my house, instead of compiling yet another To Do list, my mind keeps calling up grainy images from my memory – bits & pieces from party games that have yet to find their way back into the correct boxes recall bursts of uproarious laughter around the dining table; red cups & star-shapped straws dotting the landscape recall kitchen countertops groaning under the weight of so much food & conversations mingling in the air along with mouthwatering aromas; pint-sized wet clothing draped over the rim of the tub recalls squeals of laughter from children running through the sprinkler in the sunshine; the half-smeared remnant of a “dinosaur eye” painted on my son’s face recalls him sitting with barely-controlled patience for the artist to finish her work so he could get back to bouncing his way through all the inflatables; and the subtle soreness of my muscles recalls the movement of my body as I performed with pleasure the duties of a hostess, ensuring the comfort & enjoyment of those whom I most love in the world and then, as the day drew to a close, finally letting go of all responsibility and allowing myself to bounce and sway however I pleased to the rhythm of live music at a riverfront festival.
Magic. Yes, indeed, there is something magical about a day that can make you completely forget everything that normally occupies the most space in your subconscious mind. The itinerary of next week’s work & school schedule, bills to be paid, household renovations to be completed, political shennanigans to fret over, crises big & small – my own as well as others’ – crying out for attention. Where did they go?
In the soft, orange light of the setting sun, last night I laid down on a blanket with my hands under my head and stared up at the swirling clouds – pure summer bliss. Presently, a few drops of rain made cool spots on my face & arms, but I didn’t care. There was nothing I needed to do and no one who needed my help. In that moment, I simply existed. I cannot remember the last time I felt so gloriously free. But a day devoted to the celebration of freedom reminded me that there is so much more to life then the acrobatics required to get through modern adulthood. We experience life at its fullest when we engage all five senses, and yesterday was a colorful kaleidoscope of opportunities to do just that. Tomorrow, I must return to being a “grownup”. But I intend to make a little more room, going forward, for embracing fun & creativity in my regular routine. Making magic wherever I can.
So much about summer to enjoy…so little time to take it all in. I’ve been a little absent from my various social media outlets the past few months & with good reason. My son started kindergarten this fall and I didn’t want to waste one second of my last summer as a ‘stay at home home mom’ with him. We truly had a blast and he is now loving school. As emotional as it was for me to send him off on this next big step in his little life, I have to admit it’s quite nice to have a little extra time to myself these days and as the cooler weather compels us all to spend more time indoors, I’m sure I will be reconnecting with my online community a lot more…instead of spending most of my time outside in my garden. Not that I regret it one little bit. It’s truly a labor of love and flowers like these make the hours of dirty, sweaty, scratchy work so worth it!
I celebrated finally finishing my taxes by spending Sunday afternoon, bundled up against the drizzle, clearing dead leaves and stalks out of my flower garden and I couldn’t have been happier. Few things are more satisfying than uncovering new growth after a long and dreary winter. I’m looking forward to many more hours of getting dirt under my fingernails! 🙂