All the Senses

IMG_7552.JPG

My new home is an unending sensory experience.

::Sight::

That line of hills, the colors of the flowers, the graceful lines of the house. We have moved into something that someone else has built, cultivated, planted. It is the very definition of grace, to live among work we have not done with our own hands.

Smell.

The wood smell in our bedroom. Making candles, cooking food. Coffee in the morning. The flowering tree opening its scent at night. Jasmine. Wafts of pig smell, all day, from the neighboring field. The septic tanks that don’t work properly for some reason. Incense. Dogs. The smell of rain. One after the other, breezes bring smells, one pleasant, the next one unpleasant. A meditation on transience.

::Taste::

I harvested eggplant from the garden and made a Keralan curry. Long beans. Mangoes and coffee in the morning, green tea with honey. Instant noodles. Rice. Pasta and black beans and tomatoes and salsa.

::Hearing::

Birds all day long, from the earliest light, to the end of the day. Roosters. Frogs, cicadas, and crickets. Owls. The whine of mosquitoes. The trucks that go by, playing music from their loudspeakers, selling ladders and brooms, or awnings, or fruit. Motorbikes. Announcements from the nearby temple. The chanting of monks during the funeral over the last few days. A boy rides up to the gate on a bicycle and asks if we can play ball. Kids running and jumping, laughing and yelling. Piano and trumpet, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, singing, rapping, beatboxing, tapping on tables, boxes, and chairs.

::Touch::

Sweat on the upper lip. Dirt on my hands and under my fingernails. Flies everywhere, landing on our skin. Spiders. June bugs dashing themselves against our faces. A wind picking up just before the rain. Mosquitoes biting. Red ants biting. Humid air. More gentle breeze. Sweaty kids coming for a quick hug. Kisses. Dogs coming close to be pet or scratched. Fans whirring. Heat building. Dough under my hands as I bake bread. Rain on the face, soaking driving home on the chariot in the night.

Blessed by these fathers.

8497221576_54774fd9e8_b.jpg
10484930_968334559860139_8150420859556944319_n.jpg
36301838_2288225064537742_1474106688079396864_o.jpg
4269142730_905ab2bff9_o.jpg
29088982295_7233fef3f6_o.jpg
21218908376_fa6c68118b_o.jpg

Happy Father’s Day to my father, my father-in-law, and my husband.

Three men who grew up in three different places. All three have suffered loss and been through difficult times, coming through strong and full of integrity.

All of them exude warmth, welcome, and kindness.

All of them listen well, love music, and have kind and encouraging words ready.

All of them love their kids and grandkids.

I am very blessed to have these men in my life, examples to our sons, a shelter of love. 

Fermented turtle feet.

IMG_3097.JPG

I am finally home after my unexpected trip. 

I walked home from the bus station with my lugguge and could hear Chinua playing trumpet as I got close. Wookie whined at the gate when she realized it was me. Then there were all the hugs, sweaty ones from kids at the end of a long hot day. I sat beside Chinua at the piano and we talked about music. I lay beside Isaac as he went to sleep. “Just one time this week, okay?” I said. He threw his arm over me and drifted off.

This morning I stepped over Solo, Leafy and Kenya, all asleep on the front porch. This is a new thing, the sleeping on the porch. I like it. I wouldn’t do it, when my bed is only a few feet away, but I like it. I like them creating adventure wherever and whenever.

Yesterday I finished my most recent edit of Demon’s Arrow. Today I sent it off to my new editor, a friend who lives here in Thailand. The book is nearly finished, although we have to hurry if we’re going to have it out on release date: October 25th! 

I have been floating, not always in the safest of spaces. Old wounds have reopened, my anxiety cat has woken me at night, sitting on my chest. And when I am away from home and family, it seems as though I am untethered. I’m not, of course. But that is easier to remember at home. 

I have wondered, at times, how it is that someone like me came to be surrounded by so many people. Such an introvert, such a strange mind. But I see it more and more clearly; I couldn’t do without them.

Here is Isaac with another sweaty hug. Here is Solomon, rushing into the room dancing while Chinua is showing me songs on the speakers, telling me his theories on the connections between jazz and rap. Solo pulling out everything he has drawn while I have been away. Leafy reminding me that he is going to be thirteen in January, as though perhaps I have forgotten. (I know, it’s impossible.) Kenya and the menu she created for dinner (I was too late for it.) Megalodon stew (sold out.) Fermented turtle feet soup. (Sold out.) Pasta with white sauce. Available for about $300. 

IMG_3096.JPG

Here is morning. The neighbors pull their carts out onto the street to sell rice porridge or coffee. Children on the porch. My plants need watering. A pup who needs a haircut. We’re out of eggs. I need to buy bananas for smoothies. The ladies at the market will ask me where I’ve been. They’ll pat me on the arms and tease me and the gentleness of these greetings will nearly make me cry. 

***

Now you can support my writing on Patreon. Patrons can give as little as $1 a month, and get extra vlogs and posts. I really really appreciate your support, it helps me to keep going with writing and publishing my work. Last month’s patron-only post: At Home.

One thing.

IMG_2880.JPG

Isn’t it easy to get all tangled up? I want to enter into the suffering of the world, I want to understand. I don’t want to turn away. But then there is just so MUCH. And it is easy to drift along, getting pulled into one mess after another, looking up vaguely when the children want food. 

And I have always wanted to be a monk and mystic, so I need to slow down the intake. 

I think it’s actually pretty simple. I know that I need to do things in their proper order. Or in other words, actually do what I am sitting down to do. When I sit down to edit, I need to stay away from Facebook, although it is excellent in it’s designated time. When I do school with my kids, I need to be there with them, not planning the next day via text.

A time for waking. A time for free writing. A time for exercise. A time for checking in with family, friends and issues on Facebook. A time for writing and editing. A time for school, a time for my community. A time to nap. (Napping makes me feel rich. I have discovered the joys of a twenty minute nap. It can restore a day after a five am wakeup.)


Do one thing. Monk and mystic. Simple work, surrounded by the mystery of God. His close presence, right there, wanting to be with me joyfully for some reason I can’t quite comprehend. His love a glow inside. A quiet presence around, enveloping. 

*

Now the skies are blue again, with swiftly moving clouds that converge in the afternoons, bringing storms and rainbows. It is my favorite time of year, but then they all are. (I even love the smoky season because it reminds me of the veil we live in, how we cry out for it to be taken away.) 

My lanky kids have been busy.  Sometimes I wake from a nap to hear them singing and playing ukelele. Sometimes they get along like puppies. Or they always get along like puppies, but the play turns to snarling. 

Yesterday, Solo and Kenya made cookies with a little M&M surprise in the middle. 

“They’re not perfect, but they’re pretty good,” Kenya told me.

“You can use recipes, you know,” I told her. 

She made a face. They don’t use recipes for anything. They are scientists with food, preferring to experiment. Recipes are boring. When they feel snacky they make themselves hardtack, (after Leafy’s obsession with boats) or strange little biscuits. 

“Mom! I’m hungry and there’s no flour!” 

Quirky kids. Joy of my life. (Of course, for snacks I keep boiled peanuts and corn on the cob in the fridge, so I’m not the most conventional of snackers myself.)

Isaac is finishing up with his second term of school today. He’s most interested in breaking codes. He loves to play with numbers in his head for hours and is a little more impatient with using a number line or blocks to solve equations. (Recipes are boring.) He’s also loving learning to read Thai and has begun speaking bit by bit. He has tons of friends and is cheerfully resilient and impervious to school yard issues. One of his teachers told me that he is “relaxed about friendships,” which means he plays with anyone anytime, without much awareness of the kinds of insecurities the rest of the world deals with, or why friends might be upset if you don’t play with them one day. In other words, he is Chinua’s son. I’m the interpreter for the rest of the world and our complex feelings. He reminds me of Kai, who at that age used to ask, “Why are you crying? When are you going to stop?”

Solo’s dancing continues to amaze and delight us. He is the most uninhibited creature I have ever encountered, and I have to stop myself sometimes from trying to “hibit” him. (Mostly just when he’s shouting out random words in the middle of conversations because things have gotten too normal for him.)

*

Also, here’s an exciting thing: The first episode of the Shekina Meditation Podcast is out and the second should be out later today. YOU. GUYS. This has been a dream/idea for so long. One of those ones that just sort of floats out of sight because you don’t exactly know how to do it. (Like writing a book, or playing an instrument.) And we finally grabbed hold of the necessary pieces and stuck them together.

You can find it here. It should be on iTunes soon as well. I’ll let you know.