Sharing inspiration, interiors, art, food and culture

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Living Small Living Large

Many months since my last post.  I've recently moved, second time in three years, and I've survived to tell the tale.  It's taken nearly two solid months to set-up home in my new space, a small 'microhaus', as I've affectionately named it.  In the last four years of my life I have downsized from a five bedroom, 2000 sq ft home in a desireable neighborhood, to a two bedroom duplex in a nice neighborhood, and now to a one bedroom duplex co-housing set-up in a lovely part of town on a dead end street. 

Life has changed, no doubt about it.  A true 'empty nester' now, save for the week or month visit with my college age children.  Waves of sadness surface as I realize my limitations as a single mother on a fixed income unable to provide the once coveted large family home with bedrooms preserved with my children's treasures, a place for them to return to while on college breaks, a place rich with family history for their children, my grandchildren to run about, share meals at the family table and listen to stories of their parents youth sitting at the very same table where their initials were carved, glitter still remaining from art projects. 

Wow, I stop and realize the image I've created in my own head, not to mention the run-on.  My parents sold our family home, the second of which we lived in as children, when I was of college age.  They downsized to a one bedroom loft cottage on a brook in a different town from where I grew up.  I went home to visit, as did my three sisters and brother, and adjusted to the new space and it took years of visits for it to feel like 'home' but being with my family always felt like home.  My daughter, home for holiday break, adjusts once again and makes her temporary bedroom in the living room, as I did when I was visiting my parents.  My son, living locally, visits several times a week for meals and catch-up time and I marveled at his skills with a drill as he hung all seven roller shades for the windows.  

Families make do.  I've designed a living room in our new space with a day bed lounge with pillows and we congregate there and watch movies, talk and laugh.  I realize that I need very little space to be happy.  As long as my space is clean and full of creative life that's every little happiness to me and I hope that my children agree.❤

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Finding one's way

Today I helped a snapping turtle find it's way to a home.  The turtle got lost, off her path, out of her habitat.  I saw the turtle coming directly toward me, to my front yard.  I happened to be home, off from work, or I would have missed this completely.  Circumstances in the turtles life redirected it, probably due to natural events of flooding after the heavy rains that we've been having.  I wanted to help that turtle back to her natural habitat or one that was suitable for her needs. Turtles also carry their temporary shelters/homes with them, how practical and self-responsible.  My neighbor, Meghan, came out to help and called her biologist husband and he sent a 'turtle gal' from the local university to lend a hand.   There were people willing to help, when she was in need, people were there.  Maybe she could have made it on her own, but maybe she trusted that all would be well.  We were there.  Corey was there with her turtle knowledge and no fear of picking her up and hoisting her in to her car.  The turtle seemed happy and compliant when she saw that she was being placed in a beautiful swamp near the lake.  That turtle was lost, she sat down and allowed others to help her, God helped her because we helped her.  She let go let GOD and she was miraculously home, with little effort.  I need to trust like the turtle.  Turtles are also a sign of longevity as a turtle can live over 100 years old or some species many hundreds of years old.  I have a hanging copper turtle that my sister gave to me as a blessing for long life, she hangs in my kitchen window.  I believe that this turtle came to me to give me a message.  I received it.  Only many hours after her visit did I realize how it aligns with my own life circumstances of feeling lost, all alone, needing to find a home.  Tonight, I'm going to curl up inside my shell, breathe, trust and wait on the grace of GOD.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Renter Profile

With all of this stress, drama and jumping through hoops to try to be 'chosen' for an apartment in my fair little New England city,  I started to question "what would make me stand apart from all the other replies to apartment rental ads?" and what I've come up with is this, the Renter Profile page.  This is probably bordering on the issue of discrimination.  A landlord shouldn't choose a tenant based on what they look like, where they work, etc. but let's face it, landlords discriminate all the time.  If I really face it, I've been discriminated against three times in this search process already.  Once, after being told that I was 'perfect for the apartment and building', having fulfilled each requirement that the landlord stated, including looking for 'a quiet individual for a quiet building', I was turned down and he rented the space to a single dad with a four year old. That's certain to be a quiet building now.  No disrespect to young children, I've raised two myself.
  After that experience, months in to conversations with another landlord ,who said he would be happy to rent to such a great tenant, he informs me that he's getting a kick-back from the city to do lead removal renovations on the building and his restrictions included having to rent to a family with children under the age of six, not my situation.  Numerous other times with checkbook in hand, I've been told that I was 'third on the list, if the other two don't want it".  What are these landlords looking for?  It was even suggested to me by a friend that I may be too confident, a single woman on my own, capable and with great credit and references.  Too good a tenant I ask?  "Yes, some landlords want to help someone out, that makes them feel good".  Wow, my head is spinning.
Taking a break from the madness I'm creating this "Renter Profile" blog entry, so that I have a tool to sell myself further in this ridiculous journey of having to sell myself to a landlord, here goes......

This is me, this is what I look like, this is what I look like standing in front of a great old doorway of an apartment in Paris.  By the way, it was easier to find an apartment in Paris to rent this year than an apartment in Burlington, VT.  MMMMM, maybe I should move to Paris.

I work for this organization for the City of Burlington where I am Director of Visitor Services and lead school group tours educating children about contemporary art.  Our vision is to fuse a dynamic relationship between the arts and community, to nurture creativity and imagination, and to ignite a passion for learning through the arts.

This is my apartment and this is how I keep things......neat and tidy and a space that all of my friends tell me "feels good", calm and inviting.  That's not to say that I have lots of friends over, I'm sort of social, a few times a year I have a pot-luck.

This is my kitchen where I love to cook, bake and create nutritious meals

I love to garden and have a passion for flowers...I take fabulous care of my yard!

I have one well maintained and well behaved cat

I am peaceful, respectful, quiet and a great neighbor!

I am grateful for the amazing, light filled, affordable apartment that is on it's way to finding me!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Home is where YOU are

My posts have been erratic at best this summer mostly due to the fact that I have been forced to find a new living space.  This challenge arose out of the notice from my landlord that she would like to move in to my apartment.  I did not anticipate this possibility when I signed a lease on my duplex two years ago. Having lived in two beautiful homes that I have owned, becoming a renter has been a new experience with both freedoms and limitations.  I live in a desirable New England city where the rental market is monopolized by well to do college students and that coupled with a moderate income for a single person makes for diligent searching to find the right fit. 

Each day, as I search ads and apartment rental websites, is a test of my mental strength and ability to multi-task at work while refreshing Craigslist page every 10 minutes.  More importantly, I realize, it is a test of faith and letting go.  As long as I am 'doing' all that I can possibly do to find a new home, I have to be equally willing to flow in the stream of letting go.  Letting go the disappointments of not being 'chosen' for that perfect apartment that you expected would be an easy fit, doesn't everyone know that I am the 'perfect tenant'?  Some days finding an apartment is like trying to be chosen for that hip NYC night club that only 'the beautiful people' are allowed entry.  What do I have to do to find an apartment in this town??  Bribe a bouncer, show some cleavage to the sleazy property managers, sleep with the landlord?  These questions I ask myself for comic relief and de-stressing tactics as I plow my way through the ads and view countless properties, some that look more like crack houses than the 'gorgeous must see apartment that will knock your socks off' as listed.

I awake each day with a new perspective that this will be the day that I find my perfect, or 'in a good enough range', apartment as I sip a latte from my favorite coffee kiosk, where Tyler or Alex ask me "how's the search going?" and give me a discount on my new addiction.
I say 'today is great' and get my mental ducks in order visualizing the wonderful new home I have found as if it has already happened.  I try to get in to the 'feeling place of it' and that's when I relax.  If I can stay in that place, trusting in the Universe, knowing that 'all is well' and 'everything will work out' then I can breathe. The irony is that my living space is so important to me, not just a place but an ever evolving work of art. Being able to design a space is life energy for me so I feel cast out hanging by a string.  I am not comfortable with unknowns. 
 I have one month to find my next home and in the process I will be strengthening my understanding that home is where I am, that I am ok no matter what.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

I dreamed of Paris

I literally 'dreamed of Paris' for the last two years.  At least three nights a week I would have the same basic recurring dream, that I was in France, somewhere near the coast.  Some times it would be with my children, other times with my parents or sisters, even cousins or all.  I would always arrive in the dream knowing that I was in France, looking for a patisserie and then with a panic realizing that I had not yet gotten to Paris and there were only a couple of days left of my trip.  I would then spend the rest of the dream figuring out how to get there by bus or train.  My dreams were clearly telling me that I needed to get to Paris.

Going to Paris was always something that other people did, people who had the financial means, who led exotic lives, lovers on a honeymoon, etc.   Not a newly single mother of a teen and a 20 year old,  living on a modest income, renting a small two bedroom in Vermont.  When the soul speaks it's time to listen.

I decided to answer the call and within one month I had booked three round-trip tickets to Paris and rented an apartment for two weeks.  I let go of the worries about spending the money, a little on a credit card and the rest my year's tax return, c'est la vie.  I was taking my children to Paris to celebrate a high school graduation, a turning 21 and LIFE!  
We arrived to find our little apartment in Montparnasse, just on the border of the 6th Arr., a perfect location not in the center of tourist mayhem but close enough to the central arrondisements to walk.  The apartment was exquisite, a second floor walk-up, compact but perfect.  The owners, who live there when not at their country home outside Paris, were gracious in every way, welcoming us to make ourselves at home and offering suggestions for all that we would want to do and see.  After they left , we danced around, threw open the six foot windows,  and investigated our home for the next two weeks, an authentic Paris apartment. To our surprise, an added bonus, we had a grand view of la tour Eiffel from our bedroom window! At dusk, views of the city in that famous Paris 'rose glow' were equal to any work of art.

 Seeing Paris on foot is the best way to really get to know Paris. We were a ten minute walk to le Jardins de Luxembourg  We ventured out each day and got "lost" down many an alleyway where Paris life slowly revealed itself to us like a trusting new friend.  I fell instantly in love.  The architecture, fabulous structures from Haussmann's renovation of Paris, cafes, shops, parks and gardens captured our hearts. 

Each morning I ventured out to gather breakfast, croissants, pain chocolat, chausson pommes, quiche and baguette.  On Saturday and Wednesday mornings I awoke to the open air market on Edgar Quinet Blvd just outside our door where I would shop alongside the Parisians with their market bags, listening intently as they negotiated with the vendeuses for cheeses, meats, and vegetables with grace and an air of deserving only the best.  I would return to wake the children,  who would sleep until 1pm if allowed, making steaming bowls of cafe au lait to rouse them in to planning the day.  My favorite time of day, cafe au lait in hand ,sitting in the large kitchen window watching the morning activities, the windows beginning to open on the backs of apartments on the courtyard behind (my favorite a large red and white striped curtained window directly across from ours), swallows diving and swirling among the baked orange clay rooftops.  The smells of the patisseries, coffee and summer flowers mingled and danced through my window ,heaven on earth for a francophile Vermonter.