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“Our House Is a Very Very Fine House”

19 Nov

My husband and I have been running like crazy people the past two weeks.  Aside from work and family activities, we have been moving our office into our home.  I underestimated what a transition this would be.  My husband confessed to some anxiety about this transition, since for the past 40 years he has arisen each morning, dressed and headed to an office.  Now, considering Jim is 63, its apparent “going to the office” has been the thing he has done more of in his life than literally anything else.

While my husband and I are under going this transition in our lives, a thought popped into my head-  So is my house!  I have lived in my house for 30 years this fall.  I say this with a tad bit of chagrin as I fear being regarded as “old lady” on my street, much as I viewed a few of my neighbors the day I moved on to Choctaw Trail.  I was pregnant with my son, who is now in his final year of a Ph.D. program and engaged to be married.

Perhaps I’m feeling a bit nostalgic, even sentimental as I ponder my home and all it has housed in the last 30 years.  It has…

-Welcomed home a new baby

-Cared for my dying mother

-Welcomed my husband and his son, absorbing their belongings and all the emotions accompanying the blending of families

-Endured the joys and tribulations of teenagers transitioning into adults

-Transformed into a kind of commune last year during a sabbatical taken my grad student son, his fiancé, and Labradoodle

And now it is absorbing the relics of yet another transition (desks, awards, office supplies…) as we move toward working “virtually” in our new home offices.  As I approach this Thanksgiving, I’m realizing one of the things I feel grateful for is my home.  My home, its roof and walls, has provided shelter and sanctuary to my family and me.  People often tell me my house looks like a folk art museum with all the color and funky art adorning its walls.  But a quality I think I value the most is my home’s elasticity, as it has expanded and contracted welcoming and saying farewell to the various stages of our lives.

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New Year’s Resolution #4- Vacation Creatively

8 Jan

This is post four of Be Brave. Lose the Beige’s 12 days of New Years Resolutions.  Last year (2010 not 2011) I spent the most amazing Thanksgiving week in the mountains of Taos, New Mexico with my husband and our adult children. My kids think this may have been one of the best trips we’ve ever taken. We skied, hiked, dined, and browsed our way through galleries filled with turquoise and terracotta pottery. At least half of our week was spent beholding the beauty of the sage brushed landscape and mountains from our floor to ceiling windows stretched across the back of our vacation home. This three bedroom adobe style home perched on the edge of a reservation was available to us at no cost.

The Holiday, the romantic comedy starring Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet who exchange their Los Angeles and rural England homes over the Christmas holiday inspired us to join an online site called Home Exchange.com. We were able to trade our beach place for the mountain house in Taos at no expense to either party. While some of the listings are second homes, the majority are primary residences. We have successfully exchanged homes on five occasions. Rather than cramming five people into two hotel rooms where we are forced to eat out every meal, we have a kitchen, living room, and multiple bath and bedrooms at our disposal.  

Financing a vacation may sound like a luxury during times of economic distress like we are currently undergoing. Carving out time from stress and schedules may not be a luxury but rather a necessity for our psychic well being and that of our family. It may sound glib to suggest there are alternative forms of vacationing that don’t require taking out a second mortgage to fund it or piling in on top of relatives in other locales. A home exchange worked for us and might for you. Check it out at http://www.homexchange.com

 

Thankful at Thanksgiving

29 Nov

I spent the week before Halloween carving pumpkins with my adult children. These fall fruits gave us a contemptuous cat, glimmering ghosts and a Buffalo Bills football mascot. Our driveway was alight with jack-o-lantern luminaries.

This weekend, for the first time in six years, we hosted Thanksgiving in our home. Twenty-three of my favorite people joined us for a day of games, gorging, and grace. Preceding this day, my kids and I shopped for colorful tableware, and spent hours sculpting pumpkins and pilgrim hatted turkeys which served as place setting holders. I don’t think I can remember having more fun anticipating a holiday.

My daughter, son and his girlfriend are here for a few more days over the Thanksgiving holiday. My Tracy set up our Christmas village and funky ceramic nativity scene to the tune of Kenny G’s Christmas album. This will be the first time in many years my kids are home long enough to pile into the SUV for our annual pilgrimage in search of the perfect Frasier fir. My husband and I are typically the two responsible for performing these holiday functions.

The cycle of life dictates that our kids grow up, leave home, and develop their own traditions and rituals. My son is headed to make his way in Chicago; my daughter has been a resident of Baltimore for seven years. This Thanksgiving, my heart has been filled with gratitude at this increasingly rare opportunity to share in these holiday rituals with the people I love most in the world.