Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Susan's House (Jennings & Keller)

I've experienced a mind shift (more like a mind wrench) these last 24 hours - I'm still home, waiting for the antibiotics to kick in so I'll be well enough to return to work... and I've actually slowed down to pamper myself: sleeping because I need it, straightening up because I want to, reading because I can. I'm always on the go go go, allowing myself little time to stop and smell the proverbial roses (or cinnamon broom from Publix, in my case) - because of now being aware of my high blood pressure, each meal yesterday (no matter how simple... tuna in a whole wheat pita, cheese slices on apples, raisins and nuts in oatmeal) was prepared with intent and self-awareness. I must begin taking care of myself - yesterday was the first step in what will be a very long and difficult process...

Yesterday (and today) also helps me remember just how much I love my home - I've always described my style as Early Eclectic, eschewing a Rooms-To-Go decorating style for the loving collection and display of items that mean something to us, whether it's my grandmother's rocking chair, a painting bought at an arts festival, a pottery bowl given to us by the artist (a friend from college). When we moved into this house 15 years ago, one of the first tasks we accomplished was building a floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall bookcase in our family room, to contain all the wonderful tomes we've kept (from Carrollton to Atlanta to San Juan to Atlanta to here) - I've tried very hard to follow the philosophy of "if I don't love it, it doesn't belong" and I'd like to think each and every object in my home has its own story to tell...

I have the distinct honor of having a song written about my home, by my dear friend Laurie (Jennings) Oudin - my friendship with Laurie is a blog post unto itself (soon) but, long story short, I met her in May 2001 when she was the proprietress of the Main Street Cafe in Homestead. We became instant pals and the rest is... herstory - we now get together for dinner and "uninterrupted yapping" (her term) once or twice a month, usually at my house... :-)

For the last year, Laurie has performed in a duo (with Dana Keller) and they've had good luck with festival songwriting contests and coffeehouse gigs during their short time together - the idea for Susan's House came about in a songwriting class Laurie was taking, and actually began as Susan's Kitchen, because I was having it re-done (the longest two months of my life). I later joked it was just as well she expanded it to the whole house as I didn't necessarily have a reputation for cooking (although I am very good at it when I have/make the time/energy) - rather, I was/am most familiar with my coffeemaker, my blender and my corkscrew (oh my!).

Since the words to the song are not on the website, I am typing them here - I restate the sincere blessings at being the recipient/namesake of such a lovely song... and hope I can continue to live up to the feelings evoked. [Susan's note: Dave, Joni and Dar obviously refer to Carter, Mitchell and Williams, my songwriting triumvirate... and Rocky is my dog, a 12-year-old Shih-tsu (also destined for his own blog post one of these days) - "prints of the vegetable gents" are the four Giuseppe Arcimboldo paintings (Winter, Spring, Summer and Autumn), longtime favorite art pieces whose colors/textures/whimsical representations were actually the inspiration for the kitchen remodel.]

If you don't mind the tolls you can take Turnpike north, straight to 75,
Pines Boulevard is not very far, head east for 3 or 4 miles
Turn onto Flamingo, Pembroke Park on your right
Your heart starts to race as you quicken your pace, you're going to Susan's tonight

You turn down the lane where the trees overhang and geese waddle about
The kids are at play on this crystal blue day, softball's drawing a crowd
You turn into the driveway and as you run through her yard
Rocky's bark makes you laugh, you stop on his behalf, to heed this pint-sized guard

Your senses are filled from sight, touch and smell as you move through her home
There's incense and beads, brocaded lamps greet, candles flicker and glow
The song from one hundred windchimes serenades on the breeze
You smile at the prints of the vegetable gents as Susan finds poems to read

The fullness of life can be found inside the walls of Susan's house

There's Dave on the wall next to Joni and Dar, you pay respects as you go
Although it's now late, the Oz shrine awaits, praise Dorothy and the Scarecrow
Hugs and gifts at the doorway, Rocky bounces about
Life's harmony is no mystery, while you're at Susan's house
Life's harmony is no mystery, while you're at Susan's house

In the introduction to his book below, editor Michael J. Rosen writes:

Home is what you take away each time you leave the house. Like a wristwatch, it ticks beside the ticking that is your heart. Whether or not you hear it, look at its face or feel its hold, We're with you is what the minute, hour and second hands of home have to tell.

Home is the place that goes where you go, yet it welcomes you upon your return. Like a dog overjoyed at the door, We've missed you is what you hear, no matter how long you've been gone.

Home is all the things you know by name: a family of dishes, books and clothes that waits for you to choose among them every day. We're ready for you is what the chorus in your house sings. Your fingerprints are grinning on their faces.

And home is all the names that know you, the one and only person who does just what you do. Home is all the words that call you in for dinner, over to help, into a hug, out of a dream.

Come in, come in, wherever you've been...

This is the poem in which you're a part.
This is the home that knows you by heart.

POEM: Comfortable Old Chair by Karla Kuskin

A bird has a nest
A fox has lair
A den is a home
If you're a bear.
I have a comfortable old chair.

Soft pillowed blue,
a flowered cloud,
The perfect place to read aloud
to myself or silently
letting long words run over me,
letting the stories I have read
make moving pictures in head.
New chairs are nice
but mine is best.
My spot to think in
brood in
to plot in
dream in, many dreams,
to scheme a few outlandish schemes in.
Kings need crowns to be the king
but me
I can be anything
any person
anywhere if I just have my book and chair.

QUOTE: "Nor need we power or splendor, wide hall or lordly dome; the good, the true, the tender -- these form the wealth of home." ~ Sarah J. Hale

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