Saturday, July 02, 2011


It's 4.24AM - at least, it was when I started this. One eye opened at 2.01AM; the other at 2.07. I've been awake (though pretending not to be) for hours. There's nothing too unusual about this; middle-of-the-night wakefulness has become something of a pattern in recent months.  Can you tell?

My home and I are adjusting to a repertoire of different energies and activities at the moment - three Leo women are currently sharing the space; my daughter (25), her best friend (32) and moi (50). The younger lions are living downstairs on the harbourside of the house. I am sleeping in the loft above my studio. Ordinarily my meditation/reading/retreat space, I love it up here and have a quasi-seasonal habit of making this my nest-of-choice during the winter months. Every so often I'll spend a night up here in the summer but that tends to happen when I'm immersed in a project and want to wake and sleep close to my work. (Unlimited hours in the studio have definitely not been a part of this year's script, although this week I started gessoing up boards for a new series of paintings in which I want to explore the mercurial and interchangeable nature of reality and illusion. . . )

Friends and family have been a rich part of this home's life since I first moved in here; nonetheless, it would be true to say I've lived here more-or-less on my own these past five or six years. As is inevitable, there have been both pleasures and complexities around this. Today's little disclosure. . . solo living has a number of excellent - and sometimes quirky - compensations. For instance, I have at different times enjoyed a little game called MBMusical Beds. (Realizing the ambiguity of this statement as I set it down, let me hasten to add that MB does not necessarily imply what some might think! Ha ha. What it has meant is that for a time, I was thoroughly - absurdly - spoiled for choice. . . Where will I lay my head tonight? I could choose to sleep in one of the two front bedrooms (where the windows frame trees, bird feeders and a view of the harbour, and I knew I'd be woken either by a train trundling musically along beside the water, or by birdsong) or I could tuck myself away in the loft. . . 

Up here in the loft, I feel closer to wind, stars and birds than I do to earth, beetles and roots. The distinct difference in atmosphere intrigues me, esp. given the ladder (actually, it's more like a set of steep wooden steps) I climb to get into the loft can't be more than five metres in length. . . (A daring beetle could scuttle up here in the blink of an eye). My daily rhythm of small ascents and descents brings to mind our biblical friend, Jacob. How many of his mortal cares did he leave behind him as he clambered, rung by rung, towards the heavens? 

(Speaking of 'biblical friends', I've been thinking a lot of the story of Lot and Sarah lately, and about the resounding truth in their tale. . . it is in looking back that we run the risk of turning into pillars of salt. . .)

If it were practical (and by way of balancing the elements), I would happily flood my bathroom with candles and sleep in my claw-footed bath every once in a while. I'm ever-so fond of my bath, in part by association and in part because there's something so sumptuous and enduring about a cast-iron bath (I think often about 'bath as boat' - especially here, where rudder and toe-taps are turned to the harbour.)

When I was a child, my father used to tell us stories about a man named Abracadoo who was innocently having his bath one morning when it - the bath - decided to take off down the city streets with him in it; after his initial shock and chagrin - such audacity! And, well, he wasn't exactly prepared, was he? - Abracadoo surrendered himself to the unexpected adventures that ensued. I grew up thinking 'why wish for a magic carpet when you can go pretty much anywhere in a claw-footed bath?' And, too, 'being prepared is not necessarily a pre-requisite for adventure.')

My ex-husband used to rib me about having PMM - Permanent Move Mania -, a harmless (tender, even) affliction that had (and still has) nothing to do with hormones. . . rather, the acronym refers to a long-term penchant I have for re-arranging my living spaces. The impulse comes upon me without warning and when it does, I roll up my sleeves and respond. Are others of you similarly afflicted?

My understanding of PMM is that it's something that occurs when furniture, paintings, beds, stones, books, objects, the piano, etc. . . are welcomed as sentient. Sentience implies that they - like we - appreciate being engaged with in an ongoing, relational way. The things and people we live with (whether they be many or few) are deserving of our loving attention; a gesture that need have little - if anything - to do with possessiveness or ownership.  How often do we look past (instead of to) the things and people most familiar to us? Given how easy it is to do this, how can we go about re-energizing/re-animating our relationships? I can't help thinking that in the same way we respond to warmth, affirmation and touch, so too will a lamp, a chair or egg cup send out shivers of delight when picked up, noticed, set down again? Do you wonder about these things, too? PMM not only builds muscles, it keeps me on my toes and engages me in all manner of new conversations with the things in my immediate surroundings. The simple act of picking something up refreshes my relationship to it; I see it with new eyes and appreciate it again. In that moment of re-encounter, the object becomes freshly imbued with life and meaning.

I'll stop here. Time to go downstairs to make a pot of tea and roll up my sleeves. A person is at risk of prattling fancifully in the pre-dawn hours. . . . Oh, before I go though, let me go back to the word at the top of this post; 'acronym'. The other two lions and I were talking about names last night. . . things got amusing. My new title is TNITT, aka The Nun In The Treehouse. (You'll agree it has the percussive sound of DNA and the ditsiness of a Dr. Suess creature with a cranky style and a steady heartbeat?)  

What 'fitting-for-now' acronym would you give your self/yourself/yourselves?  ; ) 


  1. this is lovely!...I love the weaving of other and older stories into daily activities.I am left with a strong sense of place and the fluidity of time.:D What a nice way for me to start the day.

  2. MB :) Sleeping in studios, done that, as well as nap in libraries.

    I'll have to think about acronyms, never thought of describing myself in that way.

    You've given me another reason not to like baths, that thing taking off with me inside it...*shudder*

    Are you feeling the call of a bigger move or the call of the land of sleep and dreams?

  3. There's a cozy at-home feeling to this post, makes me want to sit down and share a cup of tea with you.

    My boys and I also refer to my space as The Treehouse....from my bed I look out to a cherry tree as well as a magnificent ancient pine and a Douglas fir.

    How lucky we all are!

  4. I used to have a wife who did that. I never knew what my living room was going to look like when I came home in the evenings. I’m not like that. But I do have P.O.O. – an unfortunate acronym for Perfect Order Obsession which is a variation on P.M.M. in that I hold the belief that there is a perfect arrangement of the things in my life that once achieved will make me happy and never need to be changed ever again. Basically that means that, in any given situation, whatever I need at that moment should be within arm’s reach be it the TV remote, my coffee cup, my stapler or the phone. At the moment I’m setting up a new work space and my need for perfect order is driving me mad.

  5. I enjoyed your early morning drifting - especially the bath. I could imagine a claw footed bath tip-toeing rather than gliding.

    The early morning wakening - I recently read Sally Brampton's Shoot the Damn Dog - memoir of depression - where she warns that consistent early morning wakening can be a symptom of depression. When I am wrestling with the black dog I find I too wake early, persistently.

    And moving your furniture around - usually I have to stop at moving the paintings as I believe that helps you see them with fresh eyes. We have moved every three or four years for ever it seems, so there is less appeal to move furniture. And even when I would like to try a new arrangement, the muscles in the family protest!

    Your house sounds like it is full of all the best spirits.

    My acrononym today GBOF - getting better optimistic fool!

  6. ISFB (Immediate Spontaneous Full Bladder) syndrome occurs in my teens whenever it's time to wash the dishes.
    P.S. I too need to touch and move things. You are not alone.

  7. For today, I shall be SWWIWAP - She Who Wallows in Words and Paper.

    I know I have seen, somewhere - or in my dreams - a claw-footed tub running along on tall, jointed legs, a boy its startled passenger.

    It is looking back with anything but compassion, forgiveness, acceptance - the signs of a softened heart - that turns us to salt or stone. xo

  8. Today (I wrote toady first) I'm "UHHHHHH" and that's all. No acronym because I'm not feeling clever at all and spending my 2nd day of my new year on my couch watching movies and still in my Pjs. Maybe DTOMCWMIP (day two on my couch watching movies in pjs).
    I love this post. I love that you wander. I get restless, I know I do. I've moved a lot to very different parts of the country. I haven't felt the need to rearrange much in the house, but I used to rearrange my bedroom as a girl constantly - maybe then I knew I couldn't move around as freely as I wanted.
    For the past couple weeks Pat and I have been sleeping in the guest bedroom - nothing wrong with a change of pace, a change of beds. You're right, it keeps us looking and noticing and honoring the things we do have, that we need to keep seeing in our lives.

  9. We have moved house 17 times - enough! I'm hoping we'll stay in our present lovely home for many years. But your delightful post inspired me to move things around more, see them anew. For quite a few years now, when I have hours of wakefulness (prefer to call it that than sleeplessness), I make it a prayer time - but I stay in bed! Acronym for me at the moment: TBTBS Too blessed to be stressed.

  10. "...I want to explore the mercurial and interchangeable nature of reality and illusion. . ."
    Over at *the awakened eye* we are holding our breath!
    miriam louisa

  11. Wonderful post, Claire, thanks for sharing your intriguing thoughts and refreshing way of looking at things.

    After sharing a bedroom with a sister who constantly changed the room around, so you never knew where your things were going to be when you got home from school, my stuff tends to stay where it lands!

    My acronym at the moment is PING, which can be Pattern in Numbers Geek, or you can add to that from last week, Pleased Intense Novel Gone!