Thursday, June 26, 2008

Gardening for 1 (and a dog)

I am nearing the end of my two weeks sans-husband. I long to see Ryan, but I long to still linger in these slow, independent, flying-solo days I've been having. The weather has been perfect. Sadie (pictured above) and I did some gardening, planting peppers and keeping an eye on our enormous tomato plants. She has been a great companion, almost completely eliminating the need for another human's company.

Of course, these days have also been filled with many social engagements, including two nights in a row of performing with my sister at our local tavern-on-the-square. We had a grand time seeing familiar faces and getting to know the bands with which we shared the bill. Tomorrow night will be a night out in Baltimore dancing with girlfriends. And then...he's back. I wonder which habits I will fall back into and which I will attempt to maintain from my weeks alone. I've definitely made the best of these days, as if they were a gift - something new to cherish.

What do you do differently when you are alone?

Flying solo for one more day!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Is 1 the loneliest number?

I am alone tonight for the first time in a very long time. Being completely alone is a feeling that I always have to adjust to, like stepping into a hot bath. I grew up in a family of 6, and have always relished the feeling of having many people around me. Even now, I thoroughly enjoy having overnight guests and hosting parties.

My brother got married this weekend, and our farmhouse became the hub for almost every activity, aside from the wedding of course, including the bachelorette party, the bridal preparations, the after-party, and the after-picnic. I said hello to many, then said goodbye to many. Most people left yesterday, including a dear friend who is moving out of the area. The rest left today, including my husband who is working as a rock climbing photographer for 2 weeks. On top of all this, my sister moved out of our house and into an apartment with her boyfriend. I knew this would eventually happen, but didn't expect all these elements to happen at once.

Therefore, it goes without saying that the transition from "in good company" to "just me and my dog" was a bit abrupt. My fridge is full of wedding leftovers (beer and cake galore), and I have no one to share them with. I cannot look forward to my husband sleeping beside me. My friend, Fred, will not be coming over this week for our usual Thursday night music rehearsal (he is the one who moved). My sister won't be coming home from work at the restaurant late at night and making a pot of ramen noodles.

I am alone. But I am not lonely. I am surrounded by family and friends, have fun plans for the week, and will inevitably reap the benefits of being forced out of my comfort zone and doing things that my husband tends to do (like mow the lawn). Life goes on even though I have said so many goodbyes in the past two days. New eras begin as others end.

And as I fill my shopping cart with meals for 1, I look forward to uninterrupted hours all to myself...and to the next party.

Do you think 1 is the loneliest number?

Sunday, June 1, 2008

My Favorite Things

"We should all do what, in the long run, gives us joy, even if it is only picking grapes or sorting the laundry." - E.B. White
I experience great joy from the simplest of things in my life. This spring has been lovely in so many ways. I find myself telling people who ask how things are going that I really feel like I am living the life I have envisioned for a long time. This often results in an expression of surprise from the person, since these questions can often elicit a laundry list of woes. I really am superbly happy with how things in my life have been unfolding, notwithstanding the occasional hurdle or moment of drama (life would be boring without these things!).

Thus, I am inspired to make a list of some of my favorite things at the moment - things which, upon thinking about them, make me stop and smile. I hope you, too, will ponder your favorite things and go out and experience them for all they're worth.
  1. Breakfast - this is my favorite meal of the day. It is the simplest of meals, tastes splendid after 8-10 hours of fasting, and gives me time in the morning to contemplate my day and avoid getting off to too hurried of a start. I feel sorry for people who think that breakfast is unimportant and they "don't have time" for such a basic part of life.
  2. Sweetsies Eats and Treats - this roadside wonder sits along Route 40 between Clear Spring and Hagerstown, Maryland, which is an oft-traveled route for us when running errands, etc. It offers the best soft serve that I've ever tried (barring Sandy's Frozen Custard in Austin, TX). I love a good soft serve cone, particularly plain vanilla. One lick of Sweetsies' soft serve and I melt!
  3. Bustling around the house - I love to "tidy". It is my way of making sure that my little space in the universe is orderly and free from clutter so that I can go out into the messy world with a clean slate, ready for anything. The process of straightening things up is meditative and refreshing for me. I often think of Mary Poppins snapping her fingers as she tidies up the nursery, everything magically folding and falling back into its proper place. Did I mention I'm also a Virgo?
  4. Playing music with Fred and Brechyn - this has been a weekly tradition since this winter, and it will soon cease to be since our good friend, Fred, is moving to Boston. But we have played several gigs together, enjoyed weekly jam sessions, laughed and guffawed at talking in silly accents, and had many enriching philosophical and musically-charged conversations. I'm glad I'll still have my sister, Brechyn, here as we continue on as The Hello Strangers.
  5. Gardening - this is an activity that both my husband and I enjoy together, now in particular since we have been living in apartments for the past 4 years and never had a house, per se, at which to start a garden. The other evening we started a new bed of orange marigolds, purple verbena, and white astilbe. I love to clear out the weeds and plant fresh growth, then stand back and admire our work.
  6. Sadie - I have written a lot about our dog. But let me just say that she continues to surprise and amuse me daily. I can't imagine life without her.
  7. Riding my bike to work - I fly down the hill into town, my hair blowing behind me, my backpack on. I feel like a teenager again, as I retrace many of the routes I rode on when I was young. Then I ride back up the hill after work, knowing that I avoided pumping at least a little carbon monoxide into the air that day.
  8. The Burning Spear live album "Live at the Zenith, Paris, 1988" - this is my favorite reggae album that I most often crave and blare throughout the house. After writing my Masters Report on reggae in 2006, I try to make sure I remain in touch with my knowledge and appreciation of the genre. Despite being recorded in 1988, the musicianship and arrangements on this album are timeless in the way that Winston Rodney (the frontman) does it best. I love playing this album for folks that are reticent about reggae or have only heard the cornier (and there is a lot of it) side of the genre.
What are some of your favorite things?