April 19, 2011

House Hunting

The sun was poured out so beautifully all over the walls and floors, that I almost didn’t want to waste any time with the usual routine this morning. We are always talking about getting up and getting ready for the day, but today had to have been up and ready hours before me. I thought of how nice it will be when we finally wake up in a house - when we hear things outside our own windows and when the morning spills over our own floors. But the search has no certain end in sight.

There’s a darling little bungalow on the corner of 11th and Taylor where we thought we might live. In 1915, it was brand new. It’s painted yellow – not a good yellow like butter, but a yellow more like pollen, bright and bothersome. Armies of unruly shrubbery have besieged the house, and there are noticeable remnants of those spring showers that never really absorb into the ground. But we fell in love with the little place, with all its quirks and quaintness. Inside there are two bedrooms, two closest, two bathrooms, two very good places to store things, and one lovely front room with a window through which the sun can pour. The kitchen window does not open, and the kitchen door leads to a non-existent patio four feet off the ground. The mailman carries a sack through the neighborhood, and the mail comes through a slot in the door. I will not mention the square footage. It is irrelevant. Surely, we thought, this must be our home.

I suppose I never understood just how important, how very vital, the foundation is to a house until the home inspector told us, “it's essentially sinking into the ground.” Then it occurred to me that the legs on which a house stands, are indeed the legs on which a house stands. There has since been a bid on the necessary repairs, and we’re waiting to hear from the sellers on whether or not they would be able to make them. The sellers are a young couple like us, and we’re not at all hopeful. So, I’ve spent the past few days half in hopeful suspense, half mourning the loss of the Taylor Street house. I suppose one day I’ll say it was a good and necessary experience when I’m looking out the windows of the place in store for us all along. But it was a peculiar and lovely little house… I would very much have liked to live there.

March 27, 2011

A Year of Good Things

I am not surprised to find that my last blog post was made over a year ago. I think I alluded in my first entry to the expectation that I would not be able to keep this thing up. Surprise. A great deal has happened between March 2010 and March 2011 – too much to share in a single, readable post. Sometimes Mark and I can hardly believe that a year and a half has already passed since we were married. Sometimes it feels like it has always been this way. The intention of this blog was to keep a sort of documentation of our married life happenings, because I think (now more than ever) that these things should be written down. It was in a conversation with a dear friend the other night that it hit me … I’m going to want to remember things like new jobs, Disney World trips, and caved in ceilings. So here’s a little list of the latest in the Maricle household:

Shortly after my last blog post I got a new job. After bittersweet goodbyes to the girls of Dragonfly Greetings, I left my delightful workplace of nearly five years and entered the financial world of Crooks & Co. in Oregon City. I could not ask for more wonderful people to work for and with. Alex and Amy are fabulous.

We celebrated one year of being married in Disney World. There was a terrific thunderstorm the night of our anniversary. The streets of Frontierland were flooded.

We took a trip to Astoria for Mark’s birthday in January. We stayed at the Benjamin Young Inn – a charming Victorian home built in 1888 made into a bed and breakfast. Carolyn Hammer, your baked pears and your hospitality cannot be matched.

We spent spring break with my grandparents in Boise, Idaho. Mark shot and killed rabbits. It was heartwarming.

The ceiling over our kitchen table gave way after several weeks of rain. Our landlord goes into the attic frequently to patch holes … we don’t feel encouraged.

However! We have been pre-approved for a home loan! This week marks the beginning of our search for our first house together.

March 2, 2010

Apartment #9

Dear Downstairs Neighbors,

Please turn your T.V. volume down. We are, quite frankly, a bit fed up with the constant drone of the thing, for it does in fact carry up through your ceiling (which happens to be our floor) and into our living space. At the very least, please choose better channels.

Cheers, The Maricles

Apartment #9 has become a wonderful place to be over that last nearly six months. Every room at last feels like how that room should feel in a home. Let's tour it, shall we?

When you walk through our door, you walk through a very important place, you see, because I might have just said goodbye for the day to my husband, or welcomed him home there, or perhaps he welcomed me, or perhaps we’re both leaving together and will return sometime eventually, but certainly, together. Do not underestimate the significance of that door; it’s the threshold of the coming and going that, in some sense, we no longer do alone.

Mark and I have become something of movie junkies. Netflix has proven a worthy investment for our household and we had no intentions of canceling our membership after the 30-day trial. That being said, it is most enjoyable to watch movies when there is minimal background noise ... or downstairs noise ... but I won’t grumble. On weekends we like to clear the living room floor out and enjoy movies in a cozy nest of blankets and pillows. It feels a little like being married, and a little like being kids. There are just enough piles of organized clutter to be realistic, and two very important windows for the glorious mornings that pour through. There are roses on the bookshelf because my darling husband still courts me, and a smart collection of VHS tapes a few shelves down. The desk was mine. The coffee table was his. Everything is ours.

The kitchen and I nurture a complicated relationship: there are strong emotions involved, differing opinions about how things should be done, and an ongoing authority complex. It doesn’t like the way I cook and I don’t like the way it smells. But, my KitchenAid lives there, so I love it for that.

Dinner tables are terribly important. Although traditionalized as the unfortunate meeting place for busy families, a repeat of the previous night’s dinner, and that sense of obligation to “talk about one's day”, the dining table really is quite crucial in the completion of a home. Mark and I have found it to be a place of either quick breakfasts, or grateful prayers, or a host for sometimes languid, sometimes rapid, but also fruitful conversation. We must revamp the conventions of the American Family Dinner Table and sit joyfully down to meals with our spouses and families. There’s a book in that somewhere... but someone else can write it. And look, you already have a thesis.

I shall not attribute too many adjectives to the bathroom, but I will say that despite its very nature in being a bathroom, it is a grand place to ready oneself for the day. I have a new job, and because my new job requires me earlier than my previous one, I share this space of priming with my husband. Before, I more often than not gave into the temptation of laying lazily in bed while poor Mark had to comply with the alarm clock. Our new routine has since prolonged and enlivened our mornings together. And early mornings are not, in fact, such a dreadful thing. The little mirror serves both our faces well, side by side, and I’ve had the opportunity to closely observe the art of facial shaving.

The second bedroom we affectionately call “Storage A”, implying that perhaps somewhere in the apartment there is also a Storage B or C. There is not. There is just Storage A. And in Storage A we store things, and we close the door. When we need something from Storage A, we go in, we get it, and we come promptly out. We do not linger in Storage A because there is a drastic atmospheric shift when you cross the threshold. Storage A is about 10 degrees cooler than the rest of the apartment, and its air quality much more stagnant. It’s probably the perfect habitat for all kinds of exotic plants and animals, but I am not about to experiment. For those of you who have not yet received wedding thank-you’s from us, more than likely it is because they are lost somewhere within Storage A.

Lastly, there is our bedroom. I’ve never had “our” bedroom before because I was blessed with a little brother, not a sister, and never had to share. I can say with full joy, however, that sharing has never been so delightful.

Somewhere in here lies the difference between "homemaking" as housework, and "homemaking" as making a home in every room. And I do believe I'm quite taken with all the excitement the latter.

February 12, 2010

Five Months

We’ve been married five months today. I used to be in wonderment at how new mothers have the ability to relay, at any given moment, exactly how many months and weeks and days old their new baby is, and how the mental calculations could be made so quickly. Now, however, I’m finding that remembering important dates and events such as a wedding takes virtually no effort. The 12th of every month now seems to hold a brand new significance, and it pains me not to do calculations of my own. I love that I’m still asked weekly how married life is. I love how so many people think that I’ve grown used to it, that I’m stuck in the routine of chores and wifely duties, that perhaps I’ve tired of my husband’s little quirks and habits. But the truth is, dear readers, that we have only been married five months. I still delight in the things that are presumed ordinary. I still love making our bed in the morning, love glancing over our wedding pictures, love folding laundry and buying milk, twisting my ring about my finger and marveling at the freshness of everything. I can’t quite explain it ... it’s a terrific quandary that it all could be so pleasantly familiar and yet surprising new. I have no reason to believe that it will always be this way, and perhaps the chores will grow dull, but until then I shall be satisfied in the perplexity of being newly acquainted with married life, and still altogether at ease.

Things we’ve accomplished within the past month:

  • eradication of our Christmas tree (BEFORE February)
  • replacement of the CV joints in Mark’s car (do-it-yourself)
  • the discovery of a fantastic pasta sauce (Cucina Antica Vodka)
  • the obliteration of the mildew on the bathtub (yeah....)
  • yurt: n: a circular domed tent of skins or felt stretched over a collapsible lattice framework and used by pastoral peoples of Asia.
  • the taking of a pregnancy test (for the sheer purpose of easing my mind)
  • the completion of three model airplanes (WWII)
  • the purchase of sleeping bags (for yurting, of course)
  • the reading of five of Shakespeare’s comedies (Alas, ‘twas merry)
  • excellent additions to our VHS collection (Robin Hood, etc.)
  • treating ourselves to one grocery shopping spree at New Seasons (oh my...)
  • the ability to say “no” to some things, and “yes” to many

If nothing in our married routine ever achieved a greater capacity of excitement than these, I would still be a happy wife. I find considerable measures of bliss in the everyday, and am learning about simple joys, simple moments, simple fun. And I’ve come to realize that there are few things more fun than being just five months married.

February 5, 2010

The Guardians

I thought I would post here a piece I'm working on for one of my writing classes. Environmental Writing, they call it, and the assignment has been for everyone in the class to choose a place in our environment on which to write personally, publicly, and professionally. (I shall not clutter the page with journalistic and research approaches I have taken in writing on this place; they are rather dull and uninteresting) But as it comes time to relax a bit and write from a purely personal standpoint, I suppose I didn't anticipate the place I chose to tug so much at my heart. I grew up playing at Sunset Park, as it was adjacent to my primary school, and have to come to realize through this class all the rich memories embedded there. It astounds me how much time has passed between school days and todays, and how swiftly it went, and how I'm writing about memories now. The writings, I might tell you, are highly fragmented. The older I get the more I remember about being a kid, and I liken the experience of writing from memory to a shattered piece of glass. Hm.. that sounds a bit morbid. It really is though - a collection of disjointed, sort of fragmentary articles that all fit together in one way or another. So although it feels incomplete, there is something about describing a single moment, one strange and familiar flashback, that is quite lovely.
The Guardians

One could nearly forget that she is walking through a grove of trees, when all about her are the wide and lofty trunks, bare of branches until so high up their immense and naked stems that she pays no attention to the sheltering canopy they bear. She might arch her back to see the green flats swaying in a windy rhythm above, might feel small beside the boles jutting out of the ground and bursting triumphantly into the sky, might try to wrap her arms around the belly of one, and find that she is indeed small. But the child pays no attention to the quiet onlookers. She is caught up in the hazy summer evening. Her August is fragrant and heavy, the air sizzling with sunset, and brown-winged bugs, and cotton. She comes alone to the park to play, hides behind the trees and inside her imagination. She pretends she is the only one who thought to come here tonight, and that the whole word has dissolved save this perfect place.

A slide awaits her in the distance - its blue and white poles spiraling upward to lean against the amber sky, and its sleek descent plummeting toward the ground. This is what she came here for. She has yet to conquer this one slide, and pretends that doing so will make her king. Then she will be ruler here, a monarch of the playground. She will make nations out of anthills and slaves out of pebbles. Even the trees that stand so straight and so still will bow down. The glorious thought abides in her head, and she proudly ascends the height of the thing. Her eyes are big and brown and beaming. The sides of the seat are like fire from the sun, the friction screeching as she pushes herself off. The launch snatches her breath, and she is propelled down the length of the slide, thrust forward over the lip at the bottom, surrendered to the sweet, warm mound of bark chips below. Her sandals are whipped from her feet. Her knees and knuckles dig into the ground. She bites down hard on her tongue, little head rushed with exhilaration and a raw sort of fear, an unexpected sort of fear. It happened fast, and she is not quite sure what to think. Where does it hurt? Am I going to bleed? Stifling tears and pushing her hair out of her face, the little girl rises from the ground and shakes the dangling bark chips from her dress and elbows. It doesn’t feel like kingship, or even like play. She glances about for someone that saw, to tell her not to cry the tears, a bosom to bury her face in. But these trees that see everything say nothing at all.

January 13, 2010

Presents on River Road

“The birthday of my life has come, my love has come to me.” - Christina Rossetti

January 10th, Mark celebrated his first married birthday. Since it fell on a Sunday, I had all intentions of devising a unique and mildly eventful weekend full of leisurely, comforting things to do. “I’ll make a reservation,” I thought to myself, “for Saturday morning at Mother’s downtown. He’ll have the eggs benedict and I the crepes, and we’ll lean over the table beside the window and watch the people go by." Then, perhaps we’d stroll a bit about Portland, dodging raindrops and window shopping our way through the afternoon. I’d looked into taking a tour and tasting of the Clear Creek Distillery, but found that I should have looked weeks ago. I am ever amazed at how far in advanced the rest of the world seems to plan. I had hoped that we might find ourselves that evening by the fireplace at the Stillhouse, or at home over a lavish dinner I’d been preparing all week. We’d conclude our birthday celebration, then, with the little something that had been waiting on the shelf in the closet for Mark. It would be “just what he wanted!” And thrilled would I be that all had gone so swimmingly.

But his birthday weekend was nothing like this. No, in fact, I believe it was a great deal more satisfying and enjoyable than anything I could have designed on my own. We woke early Saturday morning and, stirring our minds with conversation, lay warm in bed discussing what we knew had to be done that day. The CV joints. They must be taken care of. The day was dry and vacant. We readied ourselves together (which is a most delightful way to begin any day) and said goodbye. We don’t usually have to say goodbye on Saturday mornings, but the CV joints beckoned Mark as my ample wealth of homework beckoned me. It would be all day before my husband returned, only to bear news that there were complications in the installation of the CV joints, his car was rendered undrivable, and we would need to purchase a new part and complete the project the next day - his birthday.

Sunday morning, I must confess, we did not attend church. Sympathize, for this was not out of idleness or remiss. It was the CV joints. We enjoyed breakfast together (at Shari’s, not Mother’s), then made our way over to acquire a replacement part for the car. The drive out my grandparents’ farm (where the doctoring of Mark’s car was occurring) was most delightful. The sky was brilliantly clouded, looming over the ribbon of river we followed. I was eventually grateful for the slow-moving vehicle ahead of us, obviously timid on the winding country road, and for the way time passed so slowly. I made that drive as a child innumerable times - know every bend, every curve, every waterspout jutting from the land slopes above. I know that my dad used to jump off the Carver Bridge as a kid into the Clackamas, and can almost hear the slap of his tennis shoes hitting the water. I know which farm our Christmas trees came from, know the house that used to be a school, know when the road of trees bursts out into the open road of flat, quiet farmland. But we were driving so slowly this time that I could not help but notice things I never noticed before - not the least of which was making a childhood drive now with my husband beside me in the car. You see, I cannot explain it, but there was something spectacular about this.

This birthday weekend was most grand for that reason. Mark and I are both admittedly rather nostalgic people. I suppose I had never felt so young and so grown at once. I think this must be why he likes to watch old movies with me - ones he grew up with, and why he wants to take me to Disney Land, and why he brought me out to Dexter the night he asked me to marry him. To know every part of another person is not merely to engage with them in present experiences, but to also invite them, urge them, into your past. We didn’t get to grow up together as children, but oh, the ways in which we fuse our pasts with this glorious present! That was evermore better than any jaunt downtown. And he did, I might add, fix his car.

Happy birthday, my love. I hope this weekend was as much a gift to you as it was to me.

January 4, 2010

When Potatoes Attack

Dear Reader, I began my new year with a most unexpected encounter with the unearthly. Though admittedly I am a stranger in my own kitchen, and often do I consider the place to be otherworldly, nothing could prepare me for the visitation I would receive the evening of January 1st. I’ve seen things in there before that are better left untold, most undesirable, and far-too-long-neglected. I’ve witnessed the total destruction of leftover-leftovers, what becomes of a bag of forgotten lettuce, mold of every type, the unexplainable thing that happens to blackberry jam when the lid has not been properly sealed ... but I shall keep this post PG-rated. Our refrigerator, indeed, could often be mistaken for some kind of 5th grade science experiment. But nothing has ever disturbed me so greatly as the monster of a vegetable I found doing things behind my back in the kitchen. Mark and I were there together that night pondering what to have for dinner, when I recalled the bag of untouched potatoes that had been hibernating in the cupboard. Thinking they could use the light of day, I flung open the door to a most horrifying sight. Now, trust that I have since educated myself on the nature of potatoes and their customs, but you can imagine my terror when I saw this:

Fortunately I had my husband there to protect me.

Life has resumed as normal, I do believe. We have come to accept the peculiar foreigners living in our cupboard, and I’m not so afraid to be there alone with them. So long as I don’t imagine them conspiring or discovering ways to use their new little appendages, all is well.

All is very well. Mark and I traveled miles during Christmas - sharing our families, driving about, reveling in old friendships, expending more calories than were consumed, caught up in the warmth of our past homes, giving up some traditions and welcoming new ones. It was a rich and wonderful time. Now I sit in the cozy student lounge at Marylhurst and try not to prepare myself mentally for my first day back. I would say that life is back to normal, but there’s nothing normal (in its bland and ordinary sense) about today. We are still quite enamored with marriage, and quite eager for every new morning, every new thing :)

Happy New Year from the Maricles and their uninvited guests!