Wrapping up the Week ~ 6.01.13

It’s hot. It’s as though all the passionate pleas for warmth during winter gathered in the Heavens and sunshine and heat have come in abundance. I love this weather with all its sweat and lethargy. The whirring fans spell ‘h-o-m-e’ and the heat takes me to palm trees and dust, to Pittman’s house in Karachi and Addleton’s in Shikarpur, to Islamabad and Rawalpindi and Cairo back to my couch in Cambridge. I love this.

The cottage 3And today we unpack ‘place’. A small cottage-condo by the sea will be ours for the summer until fall rolls round and new renters sign a lease. Rockport is a special place for our family. Rockport means slow weekends with no internet or television, piles of books, long walks by the rocky coast, and art projects galore.

And so my blogging schedule will change. I will be posting Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays, Robynn will continue on Fridays, and Saturday wrap-ups will go on hiatus until the fall.  Any extra time will be spent enjoying summer life and working on a two book projects – one with Robynn where we explore more of our TCK roots and compile what we’ve already written and add fresh, new material; and another that is shaping in my head with input from my husband and brother, Dan.

Onto wrapping up the week….

On Photography: My brother Stan has submitted a photo to the National Park Photo Contest in the United States. Stan is a superb photographer and this picture does not disappoint. Take a look at ‘Realignment’ and pass it on to others. You can share on Facebook as well as vote on it.

On getting rid of books and moving on: All of us know what it’s like to go through that gritty, difficult passage from one stage to another. Sometimes it happens through moving countries, other times through other life events. In a NY Times op-ed Stanley Fish explores this in a piece called Moving On. He begins the article on looking at what it was like to get rid of books and look at empty shelves but moves it from there to looking at retirement. A quote from the piece:

“I’m not going to go on forever. I avoid this realization, even as I voice it. I say, “I’m not going to go on forever,” and at the same time I’m busily signing new contracts, accepting new speaking invitations, thinking up new courses, hungering after new accolades. My books are clearer-eyed than I am. They exited the stage without fuss and will, one hopes, take up residence in someone else’s library where they will be put to better uses than to serve as items in a museum, which is what they were when they furnished my rooms.” from Moving On NY Times May 27,2013

On writing: I was delighted to be asked to be a monthly contributor to A Life Overseas. I’ve contributed two articles to A Life Overseas and love the perspective I see from other authors there. They are working through thoughts and feelings on poverty, nationalism, saying goodbye, having household help, and faith with passion and strong voice. I feel privileged to join them on this journey.

On the amazing book by my bedside table: It continues to be Americanah and oh I am loving this book. The descriptions, the attention to detail, notions of home, flawed and fully relatable characters  – all of it wrapped up in a great package. I don’t want this book to end quickly so I’m taking it in sips.

And to you who read….last night I met someone at a wedding who reads Communicating Across Boundaries.  I had met her only once before and she found the blog through a link on someone elses’s site – so humbling and wonderful to meet her. That’s how I feel about you all – it’s an honor that you read and share. Thank you and see you on Monday!

In Which it is Always Ten Minutes Before Two

We have a clock in our cottage in Rockport. It is a beautiful, handcrafted Provence style clock in blues and yellows;a perfect signature piece for the cottage. We purchased it a couple of years ago on a whim and a sale and have no regrets.

When on display in shops, clocks are often shown with the short hand pointed at the two and the long hand pointed at the ten. I’ve been told this is how you show a clock to its best advantage. (Who knew?) Since this was a battery operated clock, and unwilling to be stuck like a child on Christmas morning who longs to use a toy only to realize his parents have forgotten to buy batteries, we stopped and purchased a pack of AA batteries – Duracell for good measure.

When we arrived back to the cottage and I was ready to place it on that perfect spot on the wall, my husband and I looked at each other and made a decision: we would never put a battery in this clock. The time on this clock would never move. In the cottage in Rockport it would forever be ten minutes until two in the afternoon.

And so it has stayed. We have had guests come and go who have longed to put batteries in our clock, but we won’t let them. In a world filled with demands and stresses, productivity and deadlines, we have a place, a space where time stops. We will forever be at ten minutes before two.

It’s summer now, not the official summer that comes with solstice and a June 20th date, but the practical summer that begins on Memorial Day in the United States. Every day we have a little more time as it stays lighter longer. And in summer we need time to stop a bit, need life to slow down, need to take walks on beaches and stay up late on porches. I am so grateful to have a place this summer where it’s always ten minutes before two in the afternoon, where time stops and life happens; where we are given the grace of slowing down.

Do you have a place where time stops? Where you can relax so well that time no longer dictates your life? Would love to hear about it in the comment section.


Rockport, Blueberry Pie & the Cottage

I am back in Cambridge after a weekend that was made for poets and artists. Sun-filled days, ocean waves, and the rocky coasts of Rockport, Ma were my scenery, blueberry pie was my dessert, and “The Cottage” was my resting place.

“The Cottage” is actually a condo across the street and down one block from the ocean. It is located in the Pigeon Cove area of Rockport,  surrounded by old New England homes with big porches, hanging plants, and bay windows.

We found “The Cottage” three years ago, and taking a huge risk decided to purchase on a short sale. Thinking back on this I think we were both a bit crazy but I’m so glad we were. We had made a cross-country move only 6 months prior from Phoenix, Arizona. This move, made in the middle of winter where sun and palm trees waved us goodbye and the worst winter in five years bid us hello, was a tough one. For weeks we said “Right Move – Wrong Time” to each other as we battled through a job search and mid-life crisis for me; a teenage daughter whose “Life was ruined!”; and a search for the right school for our 6th grader.

We exchanged cathedral ceilings, designer paint, and a master suite for a Cambridge condo that had us occasionally pining for space and light. Into our lives at this time came the opportunity to buy this condo-cottage in Rockport – a place that for over twenty years of marriage had been a destination of peace and light. Rockport is an old artist colony and sits apart on the North Shore of Boston with its eclectic people, unique homes, and charm. We had always dreamed of having a place like this. A place that we would not only use as our get away, but a place we could offer to others  for those times when life feels too hard, and peace feels too aloof. So we did it…we risked practicality and finance and bought “The Cottage.”

And this weekend, yet again, we remember why we did this. For after a few months of stress and uncertainty in both of our jobs, a house full of people all going various ways and inevitably colliding, after 85 inches of snow and a daughter going through a revolution in Cairo, we set up “The Cottage.” Basking on ocean rocks in beautiful sunshine, eating blueberry pie, playing games, and talking for hours with some of our best friends we fell in love yet again with “The Cottage”.

Back in Cambridge, as we prepare for a busy week ahead, reality bites, but we look at each other, sigh, and say “At least we have
The Cottage!”