Lounging Around

There’s nothing like a long stretch with a too-busy schedule to remind me how important it is to slow down and do some meaningful Nothing once in a while, even if it makes me miss one or two seemingly crucial other things. Every time I remember to take that kind of break, I notice that no matter how much I think I was letting go of, leaving undone, and missing out on doing, the world has not once ceased to turn. Civilization has not only not ended while I was ‘off duty’ in a moment of relaxation, but has very likely been somewhat improved by having a little break from my ignorant interference in its progress.
Photo: Laid Back Loveliness

Sometimes it’s really useful to deliberately put my head in the clouds. Or to stare at the floor, for that matter. When I stop gazing exclusively at the stack of paperwork in front of me, thinking only of the next three items on my to-do list, or listening merely to the rattling of the voices on TV, telephone and in email correspondence that are all demanding my attention, I can notice that I’m walking across incredibly worn but still vibrant Majorcan tile in a room full of paneled walls and acres of ancestral portrait paintings, and that’s just en route to some other thing entirely. I might get to that Other Thing and find that it’s only a small courtyard, but one full of sunlight split into dazzling rays by a fretwork of wrought iron artistry that may very well have been behind deadline in its production because the artisan thought it was more important the work be done well and beautifully than that it arrive on time.
Photo: A Gathering Place

Why do we persist in making little things mean so little when they can make a great change in our perspective? Don’t we fuss enough when we think the universe is treating us so neglectfully and with such unwarranted disdain? I think it’s only fair that if I want to be treated with any sort of respect by the universe, perhaps I ought to give it some of the same attention and admiration as well. Far better than wasting my precious life resources on endless effortful chores that will only wait for my return anyway, is to spend a bit of that time instead on admiring the goodness of a threadbare Turkish rug and relishing the thrum of steady conversation about unimportant yet interesting details of the day’s quiet events, talk between real people who stand on that very same carpet at the very same moment and, amazingly enough, listen when I reply.

Foodie Tuesday: Drinks are on Me

CafeculturaWhy is it that it often takes getting together with friends to remind me what a welcome refreshment it is to spend even a short time sitting down for a break with a drink in good company? It matters little whether the liquid in question is a glass of water, a cup of tea or coffee or cocoa, icy soda or lemonade, vintage wine or a crisp cocktail. The venue isn’t the most important factor either, though I’ll readily admit that I think sitting in a gleaming Art Nouveau patisserie over cafe au lait et un petit morceau de gateau beats the Ouefs a la Neige out of drinking a cuppa Joe in the kitchen over a back issue of Home Plumber magazine. The length of the interval isn’t entirely the deciding factor, for that matter, though the stretchier it can be, the better the chance of full recovery from what ails me, whether it’s a minor moment of annoyance or full-on encroaching grouch-itude. Clearly, different occasions require different libations, too.

The primary determinant of the break’s quality and value, not to mention its memorability, is the company in which the break-with-a-sip is taken. No one I know would argue against the existence of occasions wherein the best (even the only acceptable) company is one’s own. But often, even when I think I desire nothing so much as to be alone, I discover that the finest of respite is found in the sharing of a drink in good company. So whenever you and I find ourselves coming together in the same place at the same time, let’s sit down for a moment or two and savor life over the liquid renewer of choice, if you please. Good for the corporeal fluid levels; better for the soul.Enjoy Cafecultura

Saving My Reverence

photoI sat by the river. We were visiting town for a conference, and my spouse was going to some sessions I didn’t choose to attend. The weather was very warm, an overcast early spring day with a mild-mannered breeze, and being indoors in even a perfectly nice hotel room is a waste on such a day, so I walked down to a spot nearby and sat by the river.

As daily life passes in its ordinary ways, I so rarely pause and think deeply about what’s happening in my orbit. It’s so very easy to forget to look around to stop and let go of all forms of busyness and buzz, and simply Be. To sit by a river for an hour doing nothing can become everything.

In that hour I was silenced, stilled. I felt a deep repose settle in me, a sense of quiet peace that I hadn’t realized had been absent, banished to memory by the constant chasing and chatter of ordinary things for so long. Even the soft conversation of passersby and the rush of traffic on the road so few paces away were hushed to a sussurant tide washing the shores of my peripheral perception. Closed in an invisible veil of calm, I felt my reverence for simply being alive well up, awaken in me, renew.

The light scent of cut grass overlaid the ambient dust of a dry week; the crunch of passing footsteps was so soft that even the river’s low whisper beyond could be heard, punctuated by the distant fluting of some bird tucked under the trusses of a bridge. The hazy overcast hid the face of the sun, but its warmth suffused my skin until I thought I, too, might radiate light and heat. My usual inner litany of things demanding my efforts and attentions slowed, and slowed again, until my state of rest was such that I let go of nearly everything, even that sense so common in those rare moments of pause, that I should sleep. This was the rare kind of rest in which I would far rather be awake.

Action and angst and haste and harriedness always return soon enough. But in a moment of genuine and grateful repose, I found refreshment that can underlay it all and remind me to embrace all that is peaceful and contented within. If I am wise, it’s to this power I will assent to bend.digitally painted photo

Oh, ReLAAAAAX, Dude!

I’ve said it time and again: my natural state is static. I love Doing Nothing. I avoid work and difficulty whenever I can.text + image

And I’m not exceedingly sorry about that. It’s clearly not perfect behavior; that’s a truth I will readily confess any old day. But I remain unrepentant. Inaction in and of itself generally has no inherent moral value. Leisure has been good to me.text + photo

You people who want to get all up in busyness’s business and do all sorts of things all the time, have at it. Feel free! Me, I mostly feel free when I avoid doing things. Goodnight, now. I’ll get back to you later. Maybe. If you really think it’s urgent, you can come over and slouch alongside me until I wake up again. Happy afternoon!

Don’t Waste Too Much Time on Reality

digital illustrationRestorative Dreaming

A pensive morning in quiet shade

Of this is inner contentment made

A sip of silence, a moment’s rest

In the garden corner I love the best

With butterflies skimming the border’s blooms

Voile curtains billowing out of rooms

A book of poems upon my lap

Read in short bursts between nap and nap

And the sound of a bicycle coming near

To bring the post of love-letters here

I’d rather recline in this reverent haze

Than waste on reality any daysdigital illustration

Question: What are Saturdays?

My answer: Saturdays are for both horsing around and embracing my dogged pursuits. Laziness and productivity. Rambling and re-energizing. Drawing on my strengths and, well, just drawing.

graphite drawing

Some of Saturday should be for just horsing around . . .

So I’ll try to get a few useful things done (chores: Check! exercise: Check! planning for the week ahead: Checkmate!) and I’ll also relax and indulge in those forays into the fantastic that make all of the useful things possible. What is Saturday to you?

digital collage

. . . and some should be for showing my dogged devotion.


Slouch a Mile in My Pajamas

A post made in loving tribute to all of my fellow hippies, slackers, boulevardiers, and couch potatoes. Yes, I can get the job done–if I really have to–but I’d much rather rest on my laurels Barcalounger, thank you very much. Join me, won’t you?photo + text

photo + text

You’re not the Boss of Me! Well, Yeah, You Probably are.

Lest I, as a mere human sort of creature, forget my place in the universal power structure, a few days communing with my sister’s four-legged family members swiftly reminds me that I can have all of the ingenious ideas and deeply meaningful thoughts I want in my pretty little head and they won’t change the reality of how the day will go for, and with, Ruffian, Mercer and Tristan.photo

Ruffian is well aware that all of creation was designed for the sole purpose of serving her and meeting her Needs (often mistaken by others as wants or Whining Points) and keeping out of her way in general so as not to disturb her beauty sleep. Being a large and well-rounded woman-cat, she prefers not to exhaust herself with any sort of excessive or unseemly activity if it does not culminate in being fed something. If there’s really no thrilling edible stuff involved, her time is far better spent in her semi-comatose repose, and most pleasantly of all, that in a place which is capable of creating maximum inconvenience for anyone who might wish to go through the door she is blocking, sit on the chair or window seat she is luxuriating upon, or sidle down the hallway she has carpeted with her soft and well-cushioned form. Yes, I suppose you are all by now sensing a bit of similarity between her and yours truly, perhaps?photo

Mercer, her fellow shelter adoptee, dresses formally for all occasions, preferring the classic tradition of the black suit and white button down shirt because he is much too dignified to be associated with frivolity and self-indulgence like his ‘sister’s’. If he should happen to take an interest in a cat toy and even deign to frolic after it a bit, it’s best for all others in the room to pretend not to have noticed, lest he take umbrage over this imagining of his being anything other than the most sober and staid member of the household. Despite his being strictly aware of his handsome panache and savoir-faire, he generally dislikes having his portrait taken, a trait I have assumed has to do with his being in the Witness Protection program and not wishing to be ‘outed’ inadvertently. I do suspect he might have some Scottish heritage because, although he doesn’t speak about this past of his, he still wears a fuzzy white sporran that swings jauntily under his belly when he’s patrolling his fiefdom.

While Ruffian and Mercer rule the house, Tristan lives exclusively outdoors. This arrangement seems to suit all three to the degree that each is able to maintain his or her sense of being the center of the solar system and ruler of all he/she surveys, since the two cats pay attention to each other primarily when needing someone to compete with over food, beat up or otherwise annoy.photo

Tristan was rescued from a neglectful owner after the people of the household split up and Tristan’s longtime canine companion died. He’s now twelve years old and, age and arthritis notwithstanding, maintains a cheerful demeanor, particularly if there happens to be a massive ham sandwich anywhere in sniffing distance. And he does have prodigious sniff powers, undiminished by the years. So when he goes for his three walks a day, nary a leaf or blade of grass goes unexamined, yet he keeps up a steady pace and chooses which of his favorite routes is preferable for the moment’s expedition, tugging all of his people-pack insistently if gently until we all acquiesce, recognize his prerogative, and follow orders. I’m just glad I smell acceptable to him, never mind whether any of our human companions find me tolerable or not.

After all, we are all just passing through, aren’t we? These three clearly know it’s all about the quality of the journey and that the destination will take care of itself soon enough. Say, toss me a treat, won’t you–I’m feeling a little peaked from not having napped enough yet today and can’t reach over that far.

Dream a Little Dream . . . But How to Choose?

photo-collage + textI never tire of fantasizing and imagining my ideal. But some days it’s really hard to decide what would be better. To be slung sidelong over a rocking chair in the wash of yellow afternoon, watching the lift and ruffle of wisteria where it is teased by currents chasing around me on the old screen porch, drinking Blackberry Acid and reading Evelyn Waugh while the sound of Gershwin laughs its way out the door to shake the sleepy cat into a semblance of watchfulness? Or perhaps I should the rather be curled in a high-backed leather wing chair with Zola, maybe Garcia Marquez, a faint dark stain of Verdi’s Requiem insinuating its way slowly through my brain, the lamp turned barely high enough to read so that it doesn’t fade the firelight or those lights fourteen stories down where the city shimmers below, and with the scent of Boeuf Bourguignon drifting into the paneled room from where it’s simmering down the hall?photo-collage

Yes, I say, sometimes it’s hard, so hard to choose which I should prefer. Would it be finer to be wandering up a quiet path in checkered green light, perfumed with the heady incense of cedar and douglas fir, emerging from their shadows into meadows lapping with avalanche lilies and paintbrush and gentians at my feet as I climb up higher, drowsy with the sun and hypnotized by the river crashing away, just out of sight, to my right, and stopping at last to rest on the stony shore of a glassy lake and slake my thirst, assuage my hunger, with a crisp sweet apple and some salty well-aged cheese? Or should I better like to stride out through wildly waving waist-high grass onto the dunes just as the lowering sky with its mass of high black clouds starts spitting a sand-fine mist of icy rain, but bundled so warmly to the eyes that only my cheekbones feel the chill, and watching the storm blow up a wave so high it seems to engulf the top of the sky before it shatters to smithereens on the bouldered bulkhead there–and just as that cloudbank starts to split to disgorge its mighty gout of rain, tearing up the beach to the safety of the white-painted cottage, where I peel off the layers of storm-proofing down to my jeans, drag the little table to the window to watch the show, cracking the Dungeness crab that I bought at the shop today, to drown it in butter while watching the shoreline also drown, and eat crab sweetness messily to the tune of pelting rain and smashing sea?photo

I suppose if all else fails I could simply ask my butler to make the selection, you see. No, this one I know: I’d rather ask my love, since whichever it is, it’ll be that much better a dream if he will only share it with me.