Sunday, November 27, 2005

cabin fever (part one of many)

I say "part one of many" because it's only November! It is Sunday, the fourth day of the long holiday weekend, and we are indoors, unable to go anywhere due to freezing rain. Indoors, as in 512 square feet of living space in three rooms for two adults and three kids. It's gray and dark outside. Insanity is setting in.

I have already played my mandolin, and I might get it or another instrument out before too long. I'm going through all of my old music, the stuff I worked on when I was taking lessons at the Homestead Pickin' Parlor in Minneapolis years ago. I remember a lot of it, and I was getting into some good blues licks. However, it seems that the more I practice, the more I realize how far I have to go before I'm at the playing level I would like to be. I know I need to just get over that and have fun with the music.

Calvin got out the Baby Taylor ( a small size guitar, good for kids or traveling) last night and although he doesn't play any chords yet, he has an amazing sense of rhythm, especially for the blues. I'll teach him some notes some time soon but for now I think it's important that he has some fun with the rhythm.

I took the time to sew a patch on my favorite flannel shirt today. The shirt is over ten years old, and fraying at the edges of the sleeves, but I'm not ready to give it up! This was the shirt I wore for the cool nights at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, the shirt I could wear all through my pregnancies because it's huge, the shirt I wore on the way to the hospital to give birth to all of my babies. It's dark green and blue, kind of a muted plaid, and soft. Nothing could ever replace it. Now it has a light blue denim patch on one elbow; that's the best I could find for a patch, but it will do.

We're cooking a turkey for dinner, a real turkey, not the turkey loaf we had for Thanksgiving dinner. And after that there will be turkey noodle soup, turkey enchiladas, maybe some turkey wild rice soup.

The bird feeder is hopping with the usual chickadees, nuthatches, goldfinches, pine siskins, purple finches, and an occasional downy or hairy woodpecker. There is one male downy woodpecker that is a creature of habit; he sits at the same corner of the feeder every time, and instead of eating the new suet cake on the other side of the feeder he pecks at the old piece of suet left over from last year.

I guess I'm just rambling here on this gray day. Off to find another instrument to play!


Eleutheros said...

Deb, Deb, Deb ...all that space, all that extravagance! When we pitched out lot on this mountainside, we moved into an old (built the same year I was born) trailer which by its definition was 320 sq ft. That's because it was technically 8'x40', but in reality the inside was 7' x 34' and so we lived in 238 sq ft. Our fistborn was born there and he was nearly three when we moved out to unbelieveably luxury digs of another trailer whose actual living space was about 525 sq ft. There we had many more children, all born in that trailer.

In the mean time, the plans for our stone and timber house underwent a blessed change. It was originally designed as a monstrous afair with separate bedrooms upstairs and all that sort of thing. But after nine years in very modest spaces, we noticed how close we had become. Unlike so many of our modern counterparts, we'd come to see that while we encumber this earth in this incarnation, we all bump into each other in the hallway, we all end up with someone's knee in our armpit when we try to sleep, we all step on each other's toe.

If fact, to do so is a gift from the gods. The opportunity is short, and if the gods' gift is spurned, they are not quick with any others.

We're in our larger house now. We didn't build any internal walls in it. But that's OK, by now we've decided we like each other and we don't really have all that much desire to escape down some lonely corridor from each other.

So here's a song for your mandolin playing when cabin fever bids fair to set in:

A little white house, in the heart of town,
On a little sad street, just a little run down,
Became a home, for Bill and Sue,
Two newlyweds, who did the best that they could do.
And when they brush each other, passin' in the hall,
Sue would smile and say: "This place is pretty small.

"But you know, love grows best in little houses,
"With few walls to separate,
"Where ya eat and sleep so close together.
"You can't help but communicate,
"Oh, and if we had more room between us, think of all we'd miss.
"Love grows best, in houses just like this."

Before too long, Sue and Bill,
Were makin' plans, for Jack and Jill.
Oh, happy day, when the news came in
But what to do, they found out Sue was having twins.
When they could not pass each other in the hall,
Well, Sue would smile and say: "This place is really, really small.

"But you know, love grows best in little houses,
"With few walls to separate,
"Where ya eat and sleep so close together.
"You can't help but communicate,
"Oh, and if we had more room between us, think of all we'd miss.
"Love grows best, in houses just like this."

That little white frame house still keeps them warm,
Though it's been thirty-two years, since the kids were born,
And when they look back now, they hold each other tight,
And whisper in each other's ears: "You know you were right.

"Because love grows best in little houses,
"With few walls to separate,
"Where ya eat and sleep so close together.
"You can't help but communicate,
"Oh, and if we had more room between us, think of all we'd miss.
"Love grows best, in houses just like this.

"Yeah, love grows best, in houses just like this."

Deb said...

Very nice sentiments, Eleutheros! Is that an original?

Yeah, somehow I don't want to give up this closeness. My younger son, who will be 4 this week, still sleeps right next to me. Anyway, it's nice to hear from someone who's been there. There is hope!

Eleutheros said...

Original? Goodness, no! I haven't a creative bone in my body. It's by some Country performer, Doug Stone.

Separate rooms for small children came into vogue when people wanted to pretend they were wealthier than they indeed were. It's a blight of very short duration on the history of mankind.

Ever ponder over what it meant in the parable when the inconvenienced neighbor said:

"Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee." (Luke 11:7)

It's that the idea of separate bedrooms is a very recent invention in human history.

No, not for me. As the song says 'We are but a moment's sunlight fading in the grass.' I want my children with me as much as possible. This time will fade away all too quickly as it is.

And it's not there there is hope, rather you ARE the hope.

Some day some venerable old gentleman or lady will will look wistfully and say "I remember momma playing the mandolin...."
"But didn't you live in a tiny cabin back then?" "What? I don't recall, I only remember her playing the mandolin."

The earthly things people set their hearts upon end up in landfills. Do you remember from your childhood the cars, the house, the new sofa, the expensive shoes .... or the lack of any of those things? Nope. But mandolin playing!

"Ah the days when I was young
Thoughts that keep returning
They drive the winter's chill away
Just like a log fire burning."

Deb said...

Hillbilly genius. Pure and simple.

In our new house plans, two of the childrens' bedrooms are lofts, but not walled off to the open space of the middle of the house. For heating reasons, mainly, but also why do we need walled off, soundproof, sequestered spaces?

Your words give me hope, Eleutheros. Thank you for sharing some of the details of your life here! You remind me of what is important.

Of course just this morning I was close to strangling the do you deal with that reality? ;)

Eleutheros said...

How do I deal with it? Strangle them.

I didn't say we didn't have dust ups and rows all the time. Great fun. And very healthy if it's leading somewhere. You have to learn how to be angry and get beyond it. How are children ever going to learn that if we go about pretending that we're never angry. The prospect of not participating in our Clann activities is most often enough to get over one's spells quickly, after all we like to have our own family parties and celebrations from time to time .... four or five times a week.

By the bye, I'm one of those people who have never hit or spanked my children. I don't see anything wrong with it, it's just never been necessary, useful, or IMO indicated. I say, "I'm angry right now, I'll let you know when it passes." That has its counter part as "You're angry right now, let me know when it passes [and, oh, quit yelling and whining in the mean time]."

Like you, I'd guess, we don't have the time or energy to be angry long. Too much work here on the farmstead and anger is very tiring.

Have we wandered far afield?

Yes, being annoyed and put out from time to time is part of it all. No reason to cheat ourselves of it ..... says I.

lené said...

What an interesting post and conversation about personal space, home, family. Amazing stuff, and it's all so foreign from my experience.

I grew up as, relatively, an only child, in a home of nearly 3000 sq ft. There was never any bumping of elbows. I live a MUCH more modest lifestyle now than the one I was raised in, but I still have a personal space need that is drastically different than the one you all describe.

Thank you for shedding some light on the benefits of close quarters. You've definitely got me thinking. :)

Deb said...

personal space...personal space...I am in the process of teaching the children about not interrupting me when I'm in the middle of playing a song, or not getting right in my face to tell me something! It's gotta be something that can be learned, right?

Spanking, in my experience, has not been effective. Offspring #3 will recover from a swat on the butt to resume the same behavior. What worked, at least this morning, was me telling The Hermit to deal with it, and The Hermit taking Offspring #3 onto his lap for a cuddle/cooldown time. We can't let these personality clashes fester too much. :)

Rexroth's Daughter said...

Your post reminded me of something I had not thought about in years. When I was growing up (until I was 8 years old), my family lived in a small two-bedroom apartment. There were six of us! The four kids shared one room, two beds with two to a bed. I slept with my sister, and my brothers slept together. We had single beds. We rubbed elbows, for sure. We were in each other's faces from sun up to sun down. Then, we moved to a three-bedroom house in the suburbs. But our closeness and deep affinity for each other never left. Now we all live thousands of miles apart, and manage to talk so often it's like we live next door. I think growing up in that small space is an essential part of our love for each other.
That's not to say we all don't need our personal space. We do, and then some! Personal space, personal time are an integral part of staying whole and healthy.

Floridacracker said...

Another Buffet song comes to mind, "Boat Drinks". It's all about Cabin Fever.

Dave said...

Hey Deb. I read yr post and loved it. So I thought "ok leave a note to say so" Then I stumble into these comments which seem just as wonderful.

I am loving how you weave the family and music together. I have a music background playing folk and folk rock, some gospel from my pre-budhist days. And I love bluegrass though I hear so much less of it these days. Orange Blossum Special, Rockytop, Ain't That News...

back in the day (1970s) I used to go to a 3 day festival called The Clearwater Sloop Festival that helped fund the sloop that took ecometrics of the hudson to help force the government to clean it up. The festival had the whole coffee house circuit from bluegrass to Arlo Guthrie to Leone Redbone singing "Beale Street Mama". The latter song became the family sing along tune. James Taylor's Carolina In My Mind was the main lullaby for all of my kids.

Soak up all these moments. They drift away when they get older. Even when you are still a close famiy.

Wallow in it.