I had it in my mind that I really wanted a beautiful, organic-looking sink for my kitchen. Built of hand-polished concrete (polished = caressed), the thought of partnering with one of these pieces of simple art when doing my dishes almost made me purr.
When a man I knew said that he could do it, I gave him the job.
Over the course of a few days, he created my kitchen counter and sink, all of polished concrete. I mixed the color myself, aiming for a neutral yet warm hue, something akin to a stone that has been sitting in the sun all day.
As happened many times over the course of building Casa Sama, I got some of what I wanted and some of what I didn't.
I love the strength, the fact that it is just THERE, no way to move it. I love that it feels - and is - an integral part of the house. I love how cool it is under my hands and I love the color. I love the shape too, with not one straight or sharp angle.
But the size.
Something went awry in the measurement of the actual sink and as soon as it was poured I could tell that "the big farmhouse sink" I had envisioned was going to be more of a "narrow yet deep cavity."
That bugged me a silly amount.
I left for the States and for the three months that I was over there, I don't think two days passed without me having a conversation with myself about the size of The Sink.
Parts of it went like this:
- I'll never be able to put a pan in there.
- It's too small to even put one of these plastic bassinettes-thingy.
- I'm going to hate doing the dishes.
- I gave him the measurements.
- What a bunch of bulls***
- I'm just going to have to break it and have it rebuilt.
In my mind, just as I was thousands of miles away having otherwise beautiful Pacific Northwest mornings, I was fighting with this little bit of polished concrete on the other side of the border.
Eventually, I came back, moved into the house, and started doing the dishes.
The orange tub fits perfectly in the depth of the beautiful sink and so does the yellow one. PERFECTLY.
No, it is not "perfectly" flat at the bottom and yes it requires "a system", but so does the whole house, the whole living here, actually.
It took me a couple of weeks to learn how to work with The Sink. In those weeks I allowed myself the possibility of installing a small dishwasher. I let myself feel it all.
And then, gently, without even forcing anything, it all clicked.
Today The Sink and I are very good friends.
It's beautiful. I love it. All of it.
When I think of the hours - truly, hours - I spent future-casting my relationship with The Sink, fighting with it, troubleshooting it ... I am baffled.
I exchanged present moments of Peace and Ease for future moments of Doubt and Angst.
Me. Me who has read and re-read The Power of Now. Me who works with people every day reminding them to not fight with illusions and "could be."
I love it when Life reminds me of the work I still get to do, the learning I still get to embrace.
I love it when I have a big pile of dishes to wash in My Beautiful Sink.
⭐️ NEW: Listen to it here: https://on.soundcloud.com/mh71a
I had lusted after a Vitamix blender for a long time so when my friend told me she would sell me hers, I felt as though I had won the lottery.
Smoothies, soups, hot chocolate (did you know that a Vitamix's blade spins so fast that it will actually heat up milk?), hummus, sauces... I think I have used mine almost every day since I adopted it. When I traveled, my friends and family used it. And for the first year and a half of living in Mexico, I missed the heck out of it.
Back in the US last summer, I was so happy to get reunited with it, even though I could tell something was not quite right. The sound was not as I remembered it, and small shards of metal sometimes flew out of the base. Still, I used it the whole summer, and still I gently placed it in the "Mexico" box.
Once here, it felt so good to give it a spot in my new kitchen. And still... I knew something was off.
I kept using it and using it until there was no way to ignore that well... it may be on its last legs.
My first thought was: "But it's not even that old!"
This is something I do. Not sure why. I do it about my little Mazda which still feels like "my new car" even though I drove it off the lot 11 years ago. Heck, I do it about ME as I go about my life and then catch a glimpse in the mirror or someone asks me my age. It's odd but there you have it.
Hearing myself think "It's not even that old," I quickly flashed about where my kids and I lived when this way cool powerhouse of a machine moved in with us. Hmm.... a quick calculation resulted in an estimation of something close to ten years ago. And I don't think it was new at that time.
Well, now what? Reality check: I have an old Vitamix that is making some bad sounds and not seeming too happy. Ten years is a good run. It just may be time to get a new one.
So I start looking at new ones. And then looking at other brands. They're not cheap.
I am very close to ordering one when I look at my OLD faithful machine, sitting there all dignified on the turquoise counter. What am I going to do with it? I can't imagine putting it in the trash.
The answer comes quickly: I will give it to someone and maybe they will fix it.
The thought immediately followed by - possibly superimposed: "Wait a little minute. If I think that someone can fix it, why can't I fix it?"
Oh, that felt good. It felt bold, too. And it felt as though it came from months and months of a gentle (and sometimes less gentle) training in something akin to self-reliance and a respect for economy.
I looked at my Vitamix and I got online. There was a really good chance that replacing the drive socket would do the trick. Not knowing what a drive socket was made it the more exciting. I would learn something new! Indeed I bookmarked what seemed to be a good YouTube tutorial.
Within ten minutes I had ordered a new drive shaft for under $20 and until it arrived, I talked very gently to my blender and assured it that we were going to try something.
It took about a week and finally, the small packet arrived.
I cleaned my whole kitchen before opening it, put on some quiet music, and then went to work.
I opened the package and there it was, a younger, intact version of this little indispensable piece of my machine, its teeth nice and shiny and perfect.
Between YouTube and the very helpful instructions that came with the small round part, a tiny wrench, my glasses, a bit of patience, and a reminder that there-is-no-reason-I-can't-do this ... I did it.
I DID IT. Really, I did it!
I FIXED MY VITAMIX.
I tell you what: When I turned it on and it purred sweetly as though it was ready for many more batches of hummus and french vegetable soups and hot chocolate, I felt like I had received a Ph.D. in Badassness. I was so freaking proud of myself.
The next day I called my son and told him all about it. He was very satisfyingly appreciative and he and I had a big conversation about self-reliance.
It all started to make sense. This house, this life, the challenges, the wins, all of it. The "Why" was starting to make itself better and better known.
And then yesterday, my water pump stopped working. Goodness.
I called my electrician who was two hours away. I called my son, in Hawaii. I wanted someone to come and fix it and make the whole problem go away. My son said: "Here's the cool thing, mom. Once this is fixed, you will have a better understanding of how your pump works." I knew he was right and I knew I didn't have much of a choice. Still.
With the remote support of these two men and my son's common sense and huge patience as the calls kept cutting off, we did it. I got sprayed more than once and I didn't get to have the day I had planned. Instead, I got to learn a little more about this vital part of my house.
In the end, more than the blender or the pump, I think what's being re-wired is me. I grew up in a home where when something broke, we bought a new one. As I got older, I shifted closer to when something broke, we called someone. While I still often want to "call someone," I am also aware that there has been a melting of a ... something. Of a belief. A doubt. An automatic assumption that I am lacking what it takes to ______________. At the very least, there is a new opening being created. A place where I can question my limitations.
I love love love this.
This afternoon, I am going to see if I can learn to do the maintenance on my ATV :)
Lessons from a Rooster
Lila and I have been living in Mexico for two years and 8 days and I cannot count the lessons that have presented themselves to me since we landed. Pretty much every day I receive an opportunity to clarify who I am (or who I want to be), to let go of what no longer serves me (or maybe never did), and to shed layer after layer of outdated opinions, patterns, ways of being, beliefs or illusions. It's exhausting, it's exhilarating and it's so darn real. Little by little my life has become both brighter, and more peaceful. I regularly do things I never thought I would do, and say things I never thought I would say,
Such as: "So, I took a shower with the rooster."
My house got finished about 20 hours before some of my kids arrived for the holidays, the stucco on the tiny guest house still a little wet. Ensued two love-filled weeks which gently morphed the house into a Home. Back from taking them to the airport, I could feel both the big hole that was left behind and the invitation to finally live here, to take it in and settle into the embrace. No more workers coming and going, no more construction piles in the yard. I could hardly believe it and many times in the last couple of weeks, I have shaken my head in awe of the whole thing.
Lila, Tiji and I eased into a sweet routine, friends visited, I was finally able to give the garden some attention and I started dreaming up the possibility of manifesting my 30-year dream of creating a small pottery studio.
Then, He showed up.
Just a couple of days ago, as I was sitting at my computer doing some work, I heard a soft cooing, a sound I had not heard here before. In the last couple of months, I have become very aware of all sounds (is the pump turning off? Is this the water delivery man coming down the road?) and so when something new reached my ears, I looked for its source. A small rooster.
While I was having words with myself about how I had not seen any chickens around here yet, he walked through my makeshift wooden gate, took one look around, and decided that this would do, he would move in.
First, I am not fond of birds of any kind getting close to me. I love watching them from afar, their songs delight me but distance is important in my ability to appreciate them. Too close, they freak me out. The blend of fragile and unpredictable, the speed, the little eyes, the sharp beaks. Heck, I dunno. When it comes to birds I need boundaries.
This guy seemed short in the boundary department and within minutes he was in my kitchen. Then on top of my stove. Then in my bedroom.
For some reason, neither Tiji nor Lila made a peep.
I called my sister who loves chickens and she immediately said things like "he's so cute" and "do you have any oats you could give him?" I had a small bag of Quaker Oats and mistake number one, I poured him a cup of it. Wowzer did he ever like this! He then strutted over to the water bowl, had a big old drink of fresh, purified water, and settled in for the day.
It was novel, it was kind of cool. I marveled at how many bugs he ate. Soon I was Googling "do roosters eat scorpions?" and the answer was yes. Maybe Mr. Rooster was a Gift? Maybe I could learn to live with him? Maybe I would eventually learn to love him?
Something about the whole process (walks in, looks novel and exotic, makes himself comfortable, disrupts my peace then makes himself useful, then makes me question my boundaries) felt vaguely familiar but I was too busy picking up his socks, I mean cleaning up his seemingly endless supplies of poops to get very introspective.
I heard myself say things like: "good chickens stay outside" while rapidly pushing the trigger on my small water bottle, thinking maybe I could train him to not go into the house.
He had found us, he had made it clear he liked it here (Quaker Oats, remember?) and it was now my job to figure out how to absorb him into our lives, keep him happy and try to keep me sane. Each time he ate a spider I nodded and added it to the "this could be a good thing." list.
The day passed and the sun came down over the jungle. Things got softer as they do here at night. The sounds changed. I washed dishes, put on some cello music, lit some copal incense, and felt the cool air through the windows. Lila and Tiji had dinner and all was peaceful again. For a little while, I forgot about Mr. Rooster and his disruptive ways. I would take a nice hot shower and get in bed.
I love my shower. It is open, roomy, with little round river rocks on the bottom. It has a nice window that opens just the way I love for windows to open: French style. It looks out into the garden at the twinkly outside lights and it makes for a huge nightly treat for me. Especially since I remember what it took to get it looking this way AND working, hot water and all.
I walk to the bathroom, take off my clothes, take a step towards the shower - and There He Is.
On my window sill. In my shower. Looking like he is sleeping.
I call my sister.
"Awww, she says" as though I am sharing the sweetest news ever. "He is roosting! The sun came down and he is roosting for the night." She then goes on about how lucky I am that he put himself to bed without me having to do anything at all and how wonderful this all is.
I go outside and look at him from the front. Yup. Eyes closed. Looking mighty comfy.
I go back in the shower and look at him from the back.
I still want a shower. I'm still having a shower.
So I do.
In order to turn on the faucet I have to touch one of his feathers which I do not enjoy, but I do. I take a nice long hot shower. He gets wet, doesn't seem to care. This is weird as heck.
The next morning, everyone is up and I can tell he had a great night's sleep. He is now looking for breakfast and also, I think, looking forward to many more mornings waking up here, in this nice comfy house of Quaker Oats and hot showers. Me, I am wondering how this is all going to work, as I am picking up poop, as I am keeping my big doors closed ("it's easier than fighting him"), and by-passing my morning of pleasure of opening the house wide. Again, this feels familiar.
As I feed Lila, he tries to fight for her food. THIS I do not like. THIS wakes up something in me. This whole thing may not work out after all.
My friend comes over and falls over laughing at this new development. She reminds me many times about my "they were here first" mantra about not killing bugs and learning to live in harmony with it all. "You will live with spiders and lizards and flying cockroaches but you can't live with this sweet bird?"
Before we leave for the day, she manages to get him outside the gate and when Lila and I come home at night, he is back walking around in the yard, wondering what's for dinner and what time we are having a shower.
By nightfall, I have closed the shower and he has found a new perch. All tucked in, he is roosting again. I kinda marvel at his natural timing, the roosting thing. I didn't know about this, it's cool. I am learning something, I am inspired, maybe this will be good? I hear myself, and again I recognize a thought pattern.
It is morning once more and the sun is rising over the jungly mountain. Last night I brought Lila's food inside. Mr. Rooster is walking around and looking inside the house.
I have had some thoughts, some realizations. I am starting to see The Gift and I am not sure that a natural bug-eating buddy is it. I think The Gift might be bigger.
- Just because someone walks into your life doesn't mean you should immediately make room for him/her.
- Just because someone makes themselves useful doesn't mean you should trade your peace of mind for it. Or your pleasure.
Also, just because someone loves your home, life, and looks doesn't mean you should hand them over. This one is a big one for me, The Big One, and Mr. Rooster just might have shown up to help me unravel an agreement I unknowingly made half a century ago and which I am now ready to shed.
Let's see what today brings.