The other day I asked Erik, “Do you feel like we live here?” He thought a moment, and replied, “Yes… but it also kind of feels like this could be another AirBnB.” I said, “That’s how I feel too.” The flip side to living in other people’s places for two years and making them all feel like home, is that now that we are home, it still feels… not temporary, not worse than home, but somehow lighter than my accustomed sense of home — as if our roots had spread broad and shallow, rather than feet deep into a single spot of earth. Which makes perfect sense, and I like it, but still there’s something mildly unnerving about it, like floating on the surface of the ocean when what you’re used to is solid ground.
Some more glimpses of where we live now:
the happy chair + a stool bought this weekend from an estate sale
(it serves to hold my water or tea when I’m reading)
I haven’t decorated this spot, because if we decide to bring in the piano, it will go here.
flowers from the farmers’ market,
bin to transfer to compost,
French drinking glass (99¢ at Goodwill!)
morning go-to: tea cupboard, with teas from Paris, Florida, and San Francisco
I haven’t been able to get the labels off everything.
Nor will I make myself crazy, trying.
But I still think some label-removal goes a long way.
A month ago, when we were in Vero Beach visiting Erik’s aunt and uncle, Auntie suggested I buy myself flowers every week, to paint. “Then, in a year, you will have 52 paintings!” I don’t know if I will do it every week, but I do like the idea of a year of flowers.
I thought the above sketch was overdone, so I did a faster one too, but now I like the first one better.
They look good on our wall. I notice that this wall color — a rather strange green-grey that is almost more of a neutral than a color — really showcases any artwork that has green in it.
I was trying out a cool print of a 19th-century map of London — bought at Sir John Soane’s Museum in Lincoln’s Inn Fields — on that same spot on the wall, but I think it’s too small. I stashed it in my closet, though, and may bring it back at some point, once I have something to go next to it.
I wrote in my journal this morning: “I feel as if I have been playing homemaker ever since we moved here, and now I’m ready to hand those reins over to someone else so I can get some work done. But there is no one else, and in the meantime there still is cooking and cleaning that must get done.” Truly, not only has most of my energy gone to nesting, I’ve also been busy with domestic activities, especially cooking. Today I made arugula pesto.* On Sunday I shelled two pounds of walnuts (some of them went into the pesto). Yesterday I made my own paneer, my first foray into cheese-making:
heating milk before adding lemon juice
curds forming immediately after adding the juice
draining the curds (alas, I spilled some!)
fried in ghee and placed in a dish made by our Boston neighbor, Jim Shea
The paneer was great, but my stomach was miserable last night, so I’m not sure what that means. Erik was fine, and I do have a temperamental digestive system, but… yikes. And of course I’m craving more saag paneer today, but am now afraid to eat the leftovers!
I notice I often get very domestic while we settle into a new place, and I think it’s because I find it easier to cook elaborate meals than to rebuild an already-weak creative habit. Of course it’s a question of practice; I’ve been cooking and baking for much longer than I have been painting or writing seriously, and so I’d rather make my own pasta than sit down and work on, say, a fiction project. And we have to eat anyway, so I justify it. But when my best and most frequent creative energy goes into meal-planning or the acquiring of new furniture or home goods, I feel a great sense of surface peace, troubled by an internal emptiness, a fear of not fulfilling myself. Whereas if I paint for even just an hour — as I did with those flower sketches, above — I feel good about myself (and it doesn’t bother me as much if I resort to eating frozen meatballs).** I’m trying not to torment myself with self-chastising, as I’ve done in the past, but I do want to push myself a little more in the direction of art-making.
*Lest you think I’m all modern-homesteader, though, the pesto went with a hefty serving of frozen meatballs from Ikea. I don’t like to buy prepared foods, but we have now been to Ikea twice, furniture-shopping, and each time I go there I just want to eat all the meatballs. When we were buying the bed frame I finally decided to just go for it, otherwise I’d keep thinking about them. Actually I can make perfectly good meatballs myself, but naturally, it’s the Ikea ones I wanted! I ate ten of them and still kind of want more!
**On the other hand, my previous week of diligent cooking means I didn’t just eat frozen meatballs today — I also had delicious homemade chicken soup, with noodles. The meatballs were, frankly, just for fun… and because I lacked the power to resist them.
It’s not called the domestic arts for nothing. There is a great deal of creativity that goes into making a comfortable/comforting nest — and another facet of the jewel that is Lisa. You’ll soon find your pace. You always do.
As well as the Happy chair I had wondered about Eric’s piano. I like how you are adding a little at a time rather than plunking everything down at once and then trying to make it all fit.
I like doing it a little at a time. It’s easier too, since I don’t have to dig through our entire storage unit (or my parents’ house) all at once. 😐
Thank you, dear Sherry! That’s what I keep telling myself too. We haven’t even lived here two full weeks yet (we kept having to go back to San Jose to get stuff). Time goes so fast — and so slowly!
Dear Lisa, settling and nesting is a process and always takes time but I know from my experience that it can be very nice and creative time which will make you both to feel cozy in your space. Well done so far! Take your time and listen to your heart, beautiful Lady. I wish I could pop in for a cup of tea and have a chat at your new place. Lisa and Eric’s place! Big hugs to you!!!!
Thank you, dear Aga! I wish you could come over for tea too — we could have such a cozy chat next to one of our windows. Big hugs to you too and I hope all is well in Edinburgh!
1. you’re going to estate sales?! take me with you! 😛
2. love that bright orange-y flower in the middle.
3. your last paragraph resonates so much with me (as you know!). if i just replace your activities for mine, it’s identical. “i feel a great sense of surface peace, troubled by an internal emptiness, a fear of not fulfilling myself.” this is EXACTLY how i feel; you captured it so eloquently. “where if i paint for even just an hour – as i did with those flower sketches, above – i feel good about myself.” SAME HERE (replacing “paint” with the appropriate verb, of course).
Hee. Are you down for driving across the bay for estate sales? There’s one this weekend in my neighborhood… 😉
The working-not-nesting progress is very spotty. ;b
I make paneer a lot (with yogurt, salt and lemon juice….variating with a dash of oregano sometimes, more recently with some grated orange zest), and I absolutely LOVE paalak paneer! So happy you like it too 🙂
House looks good and I love your pots and your neat kitchen cabinets. Interesting insight into your takeaway from the whole nomadic thing you did. I’m curious to see how long your minimalist phase lasts 😉
Can totally relate to the artistic/domestic conundrum.Speaking of which, I must try making arugula pesto! Right after I make coriander pesto tomorrow 🙂
p.s. Loving the floral theme so far…..it IS a theme, right? I mean, the armchair, the 3-d flower art and these paintings go so well together!
It is a theme, but a wholly unintentional one! I don’t think of myself as a particularly floral-loving person but I am quite drawn to them… and they do seem to go nicely with the apartment. 😉
Ooh, oregano paneer sounds very good! I’ve only seen recipes with milk… how does it work with yogurt?
I figure with my natural hoarding/adornment tendencies, minimalism can only ever be a guideline rather than an actual practice. 😉 Fortunately I live with Erik, so he helps keep emphasis on that guideline… he’s a true minimalist (although it’s not aesthetic so much as a choice that springs from a lifelong attitude of “can’t be bothered” ;b ).
No no, not substituting yogurt for milk! Adding about a cup of yogurt TO the milk, along with lemon and other stuff!:)
Ah, that makes a lot more sense! 🙂 Does it change the texture (versus milk only)?
Hmmm….must try it out and see! 🙂
The homemade paneer looks good! Hope you’re feeling much better now. By the way, were you reading off your laptop on the kitchen countertop while cooking?
Sometimes I feel like I spend so much of my creative energy and concentration at work that I’m mentally exhausted by the time I get home. I find chopping vegetables, while preparing dinner, to be quite therapeutic as I usually don’t think of anything else except the act itself which is kind of nice as I’m often multi-tasking (which I’m trying to do less of) and constantly getting distracted : )
I was definitely using the laptop while cooking. 🙂 Though I still enjoy cookbooks, I’ve become much more reliant on digital-format recipes since we started traveling!
Erik shares your feeling about dinner prep. At the end of a day, I’m quite often physically tired (especially my wrists/hands), so I’d rather think about dinner than actually make it. Erik would rather not have to think, and just use his hands. So we often team up, with him serving as my sous-chef. 🙂
How nice to have a sous-chef! My kitchenette is too small to have two people working in it at the same time – wish I could have a real kitchen with a door, a ventilator hood that actually works and larger counter space. Sometimes I rather do all the chopping and cooking rather than the washing up!
Your new place is so cute…and now I’m seriously craving paneer. 😉 Love the new flower paintings!
Thanks, Mo! The paneer has me curious about making other kinds of cheese, too.
I’m hoping to add to the flower paintings soon, though I’m finding myself a bit daunted at the idea of painting the daffodils I picked up from the market over the weekend. ;b They seemed like such a good idea on a rainy day, but when I think of dealing with all that yellow…!
I love that you’re using my bowl and loving it. The paneer also looks delicious. Sometime in the next few weeks, we’ll have to either meet up in San Jose or San Francisco.
Yes please! I really do love your bowl. Every time I find a good thing to serve in it, I feel like I’m getting a treat. 🙂 I’ll message you about meeting up.
[…] I adore it. It feels like the combination of realism and expression, flat representation and free interpretation, that has eluded me since I started painting all these flowers every week. […]