Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: AT HOME

“Is this home?
Is this where I should learn to be happy?
Never dreamed
That a home could be dark and cold.
I was told
Every day in my childhood:
Even when we grow old
‘Home will be where the heart is’ –
Never were words so true.
My heart’s far, far away;
Home is too.”

April in Wisconsin is mating season for wild turkeys. And it still snows periodically. Looks like November, but it isn’t.

Amy picks a perfect topic for this week’s Photo Challenge, one that has been foremost on my mind lately — Home.

In November 2017, I moved into a rental house on 56 acres of Nature Preserve in Wisconsin with my partner, Steve, and the inventory of his online book business. 

My kids senior portraits from High School reside on the bottom shelf of my grandmother’s Welsh dresser, along with other “artifacts” from Steve’s collection.

Three of my adult children then moved from Chicago to Oregon. They had grown up in Illinois where we had a home in the suburbs before my husband died. We each had a tough time transitioning from that stable place, that nuclear family center, to our own individual lives and partnerships. Through it all, we have maintained our loving bond and our sense of belonging to each other. 

Finally, a year before the Coronavirus became news, I decided to separate from Steve and began planning a cross-country move to be closer to my kids.

I am deeply engaged in the process of establishing HOME for myself. I think the first step is finding clarity in its definition. If home is where the heart is, my home is with my family, with the children my husband and I loved into being. My heart is always with them. This is not an easy time to be a young adult. I want to be able to support them in their journeys toward maturity and purpose in this troubled world. 

I had planned an April vacation with my oldest child, who lives here in Madison, to visit the rest of the family in Oregon. Those travel plans got cancelled. We have been using social technology to share thoughts, pictures, videos, and “Game Night” instead.

The faces I miss seeing in real life.

“Is this home?
Am I here for a day or forever?
Shut away
From the world until who-knows-when.
Oh, but then
As my life has been altered once
It can change again.
Build higher walls around me,
Change every lock and key.
Nothing lasts;
Nothing holds all of me.
My heart’s far, far away,
Home and free!”
~ ‘Home’ from Beauty and the Beast, lyrics by Tim Rice

The driveway and our front yard are both expansive, for sure.

I probably have no legitimate reason for feeling stuck during this lockdown. I have plenty of room to move around. But my brain had been set on change, and the change is on hold. I have more time to focus on the status quo.

Steve plays the philosopher host.

I am still in this house with Steve. We are best friends, both helping each other as much as we can to learn who we are and where we truly belong. We both want happiness, for ourselves and for each other. We have lived together for 12 years and had amazing adventures. We have looked deeply at our hearts and discerned, without blame, that we find spiritual wholeness in different places.

That place of spiritual wholeness — I think that is home.

How do you know your Home?

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Change Frames

The south window of my tree-house bedroom is where my eyes gaze whenever I look up from my computer.  My bed is my home office. frame late summerThis has been my home base for 5 years now, in all seasons…

frame fall

safe inside

…and through various moods.

frame b w

But time brings evolution. Things change. I’m anticipating a move this fall, away from this framework and towards my life work. I will get a chance to live outside this particular box. 

outside the frame

This frame has served me well. Very well, and I’m grateful. But it’s time to change frames and let the picture advance. 

026

Onward and Upward! 

Frame

Photography 101: Home

I’ve found another Word Press Photography challenge!  Joining my pals Jeff Sinon and Mariah of Great Follies, I am going to see if Photography 101 helps me to get better at picture taking.  The first assignment is ‘Home’. 

I have was born on the East Coast (Salem, MA) and lived on the West Coast for 15 years, but the Midwest is where I’ve spent most of my life.  I raised 4 kids here and brought myself through elementary school and mothering years by staying connected to woodlands and prairie.  I photograph the land quite a bit.  But home is movable.  I love to travel and feel at home in lots of places.  Where my heart is vulnerable and needs sheltering, centers around the table. 

When I share a meal, I am inviting you into my deepest home.  I am offering care and sustenance, as I need to be cared for and sustained.  The people who eat at my table are family, whether by blood or by honor.  We create Home together in mutual covenant.  It is a sacred space.  

The Old Homestead

Back in August, I did a blog post about Steve’s childhood home and his mom’s move out.  You can see that post here.  At the beginning of September, I traveled back to California to see my mother’s new digs and how my brother has renovated the old homestead and made it his own.  Our mothers are only 3 weeks apart in age, both are turning 80 this December.  This seems to be a rite of passage – relinquishing home ownership and the mental and physical effort it requires.  I’m happy to say that both our moms have found communities of vitality and interest and that they are enjoying new friendships, new activities, and comfortable surroundings.  Here’s a photo gallery of the Los Gatos trip (mostly for the edification of my kids who haven’t been there in a while). 

This Old House

In the late 1960s, a couple with 2 young children bought their first house in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 

the house

There were small trees in the back yard that grew and grew…

back yardThe trees shaded the house and the garden.  The children played beneath the trees, and the mother and father planted flowers in the garden so that they could sit outside and enjoy their color and fragrance.

gardenThe children grew, too, fed at the kitchen table.

kitchen tableThey grew tall and strong…

stairway…and enjoyed their own place to dream and read and learn.

Steve's roomAs time went on, the children grew to adults and moved away from the house.  The couple lived there still, and grew older together.  Then the father died, and the mother lived there alone.  Finally, she decided to sell the little home to another young family with small children…and a baby on the way.  So she and her grown-up son said ‘good-bye’ to the place together.

Steve & MomThank you, little house, for sheltering this family.  Thank you, trees and garden, for living and growing with them.  May you continue to shelter and live and grow with the new family, in peace.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Home

Home

Home.  A weighty concept in some ways, but also tending toward the sentimental.  It can connote fortification, shelter….and yet, homey can be quaint and trivial.  We invent and reinvent our relationship to home throughout our lives.  A place to go to, a place to run from, a place without, a place within.  Maybe the truth about ‘home’ is that it is changing and fluid.  That’s what I want to illustrate. 

This photo was taken out of my bedroom window, from within the warm nest where I find safety, comfort, and respite.  And yet, the window is transparent.  It doesn’t completely shield me from the cold visually, nor does it keep me from feeling it (it’s an old drafty house, not well insulated at all!).  It lets me come face to face with the physical realities of frost and even pulls me beyond the immediate perimeter of my house, across the street, up into the trees, and all the way out of the Earth’s atmosphere to the Moon.  And still, this is all my home, too.  The Universe is where I live.   Home is near as well as far.  And why should I not feel safety and belonging in all of the world’s manifestations?  Cold and death and distance and infinity do not annihilate me, nor do they exalt me.  They are familiar and comforting, too.  I do not control my home as I do not control the weather…I live in it.  And life is bigger than most of us imagine.  

For another picture of home, mundane and temporal but nevertheless real and interesting, my last post was about our home business, Scholar and Poet Books.   Please click here and take a look!

 

Home and Hearth 2

I love my daughter.  I love having her visit, and I love how we slip into a comfortable companionship around making meals, talking, laughing, reminiscing and being outside.  I love feeling that we are genuine with each other.  It wasn’t always this way, of course, especially not when she was a teenager and I was an anxious mother.  Ah, but it’s wonderful to mature. 

I wonder how my relationship with my children would be different if my husband were still alive.  Would we act as advisers?  Would we be cheerleaders?  Would we be judgmental?  Would we be willing to share our mistakes and successes?  Would we be anxious?  Would we be distant? 

I guess I feel like I can be more transparent, perhaps as if hindsight had opened up a window.  I am able to offer my marriage as an example without feeling like I am betraying any confidence. 

 

  I suppose we learn by watching someone else’s example…and then rolling up our sleeves and doing it our own way.  How did your parents influence the way you deal with money?  or the way you communicate with your partner?  or the way you take care of your health?  When did their example stop influencing you? 

My children are like embers from the fire my husband and I ignited. Our fire is extinguished; they’ve gone on to light their own blaze in the world.  I hope they will be warmed and comforted by their own energy.