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Finding Home

My dad’s guitar.

Good morning from snowy Vermont. Thank you so much for your kind words and thoughts during this time of my dad’s death. My family and I are well supported as we go through our grieving, and we are sharing stories with each other as we step away one day to the next from the late afternoon of his death.

This is what I have to tell you today. My dad learned to play banjo and guitar when he was eight or nine, and then later on took up the bass violin as he joined his older brothers’ band. Once the band broke up, he focused exclusively on the guitar, playing a Sears special. Then we kids bought him a second-hand Ovation. After ten years playing and singing at his beloved St. Teresa’s church, the church community bought him a Taylor, a beautiful instrument with a sweet, sweet sound. This was the instrument he played when I joined him each Sunday morning in my mother’s kitchen with my ukulele.

After he died, my mama gave his guitar and its stand to me. I have it right here beside me as I type. Not a scratch on it’s golden wood, and the strings are light on my fingers. When my mom gave me his guitar, it came with a qualification. I was to give my Washburn (a big, beautiful guitar with a booming sound) to Serena so she could learn how to play guitar, and then we were to play together. At fifty-four, I pretty much do what my mom tells me to do because I know how wise she is. Serena does too (not for me but for her Memere). So I gave my Washburn to Serena, and she is now learning how to play guitar chords–not on the Washburn–it’s too big for learning on–but on the little, brown Martin my dad gave me when I was a sophomore in high school.

So that’s where we are now, her learning, my playing and coaching, and our baby steps start in playing music together. My dad, in a joyful place, is quite pleased watching us play–I know that in my heart. Meanwhile, he’s back with his brothers playing the bass and probably doing lead vocal. That man loved to sing. He told me often that when he was in the band, he knew at least one hundred songs by heart. Something to aspire to.

What’s your relationship with music? Check back next week for another segment of Finding Home.

800px-Taylor415_acousticLisa

More like a “poof.”

Finding Home. Good morning from cloudy Vermont. My uncle Roger died several years ago. He played a positive, pivotal role in my life. His brother and best friend, my dad, died late Tuesday afternoon, March 28th. I get confused as to which man I’m grieving for. Dad’s death surprised the hell out of us, less like a long moan and more like a “poof.” Some people have told me that this was a blessing, but I disagree. I wanted him one more day, in any condition.

Dad loved me by hugs, by words, by teaching me things, and by building things for me. He renovated our garage so I could park my car in it each night and keep my head dry. He built our kitchen table, piecing together a secret message underneath with blocks of cedar. “I love you Lisa. Your dad. 6/4/15!” All through his life he created and invented, his forte being music. He gave me my first guitar, a Martin, and taught me to play. Together we traveled many a mile on our instruments.

Calling hours are tomorrow, and the funeral Sunday, which is why I’m posting early today. I tell my kids, who are grieving hard, that time will do the work and fill in our gaping hole, replacing pain with memory. That doesn’t help much this morning. I keep expecting that he’ll stop in for his cup of tea…

My dad was a good man, a good citizen, and a fine father. If I could snatch him back from Heaven, I’d do it. But I know he’s having the time of his life with his brother Roger at the coffee counter of God. I better not interrupt him.

Lisa

http://www.wcax.com/story/35026997/saying-so-long-to-a-vt-super-senior

Buck Owens and red blooms.

Hello from dreary Vermont. What am I grateful for this afternoon? The snug, solid weight of Scout in my lap as I do my desk work. My wavy-haired, lithe teenager as we talked over breakfast muffins. The gentle, reassuring presence of my mother. The cheer of summer clothes hanging and ready to wear in my closet. The profusion of red blooms on my Easter cactus, which was a Christmas cactus, and before that a Thanksgiving cactus. My car washed and bright yellow again after its 15,000 mile service. Selecting three skeins of  yarn to knit my next prayer shawl, and deciding who to make it for.

My friend Jeff’s live Saturday radio show and his tribute to Buck Owens. My cup of PG Tips tea; it cleared my head and warmed me up. An accurate, well-told news article about our family and Lyme.  Family photos. An unexpected and encouraging letter from my godfather. The HGTV show Fixer Upper, which distracts me from my problems as I hang or fold the laundry in the living room.  And one more: my sweet, red clock.

What are you grateful for? Check back next week for another segment of Finding Home.

Lisa

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A new plan.

Good evening from Vermont. Today a reporter from our local paper came by for a story regarding Serena’s illness and her gofundme. I didn’t think Serena would make it downstairs because of her fever, chills, and achy joints, but she surprised us and joined us in the living room, introducing herself to Andrew.

He asked a few questions, but mostly listened as Serena, Tim, and I wove together the history of her last two years, ending with our current situation of needing to find a home before the school’s construction starts. Andrew seemed engaged and forthright. I look forward to his article and hope we didn’t say anything offensive or off-putting. Sometimes it’s scary when you see your words in print and don’t recognize them.

We have a new plan now. After having a good talk over doing the dishes (no dishwasher in the Kent home) Tim and I decided it was unrealistic financially to move us all out to a new home, but much more doable to find Serena a one bedroom apartment and take care of her there. The same criteria exist, no carpet, no mold, etc. I hope we can find a place soon and close by. Once she’s settled, I’ll feel settled. I don’t know how I’ll manage to take care of her when she’s somewhere else. God willing, there’s more of me to stretch out.

Thank you all so much for continuing to contribute to Serena’s fundraiser, and I want you to know that I’m still squeezing in writing time. Quill Point‘s on target, for being on the slow train. You may have to reread Vinehart Farm to remember where I left off.That’s not so bad, I guess.

Do you reread books to prepare for the next part of the story? Check back next week for another segment of Finding Home.

Lisa

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Give or take.

Hello from blustery Vermont. Cardboard characters. That’s what I’m thinking of today as I live my very real life. It seems like every minute my nerve endings are busy, busy, busy with feeling. But lately when I write about dear Eva, she’s behind the film, like Harry Potter’s parents in the graveyard scene.

I know words; I’m an expert at words, except the ones I forget. And I know feelings. I’m an expert at those too, except when I stuff them. So why isn’t it simple to pair the two and write something gripping? I’ve figured it out. Instead of writing that Eva did this or Eva did that, I need to think “I am Eva. I feel this.” And I write like that  instinctively when I get going with a good stretch of dialogue. When I lose myself, that’s my best writing. Did I tell you that I’m half done now? I crested page 150, and now 150 more to go, give or take.

We looked at our first potential rental today, and soon I’ll slip away to a quiet place in the house and write down my pros and cons. It’s a new life we’re heading into, and I’m scared some. But looking at the house, I got excited too. After all, we are doing what this blog is all about–finding home. The possibilities…

Thank you all for being so patient and supportive through Serena’s gofundme process. Once I cracked open the door of asking, receiving turned out to be quite a profound and beautiful process.

I’m back to my regular schedule of posting on Saturdays. See you then.

Lisa

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You just might find you float.

Hello from snowy Vermont. I’m off schedule this week; time flipped me upside down. But I’ve been thinking a lot about what I wanted to post, and it’s about my daughter Serena’s gofundme. My friend Raven got the page all set up–all I had to do was provide the text. It’s been live since March 6th, and its purpose is to help us with relocation costs and Serena’s dream for her own environmentally designed and made tiny house. At first I felt reserved and distant about it. How could we expose ourselves so much to the outside world? How could we tell the world that we were in need? Why couldn’t we have figured out how to stand on our own two feet in time of crisis? How embarrassing.

Well, chronic disease crashes five-year plans and budgets like nobody’s business. Trying to get us all relocated by the time construction starts  at the school next door will be impossible without our reaching out for help. I’ve stuck my pride in my back pocket. I’ve stuck my strong sense of independence down my boot. I’m hanging us out on the clothesline and waving in the wind, signaling Help! Help!

It’s what it is. For those of you who have contributed, thank you. We’ll talk with you individually as soon as we can about what it has meant to us. For now, I continue to promote the cause. Serena and I are looking at our first potential house rental this Saturday. If she can breathe there and the environmental history of the house is good, our lives will get much easier in regard to moving, since it’s located in the next town over from us.

I don’t think I can ever get maxed out on feelings. Every time I see a contributor pop up, with a name or anonymously, I choke up and cry. Serena does the same. If you let go, if you totally let go, you just find you float.

Check in next week for another segment of Finding Home.

Lisa

https://www.gofundme.com/team-serena?ssid=937843352&pos=2

 

 

Confetti pink and aqua blue…

Good afternoon from windy, warm Vermont. All that snow we got last week? It’s melting fast, so much that now we can see all the fallen limbs and twigs in our backyard. And the composting fork has resurfaced. When we bring our dog out to do his business, he doesn’t want to come in; there’s simply too much to sniff.

This morning I had an eye exam after a two year hiatus, and much as changed. Most of the technical talk about my eyes escaped me, but the result is that I now have readers, one for books and the other for computer use. Three of my sisters have readers, and I always wanted to get them because they’re a bright and joyful addition to my sisters’ faces. But my one eye had this condition and my other eye had that condition, and I kept ending up with specialized lenses and no readers.

Until this morning. It turns out that despite the special corrections my lenses offered, my eyes couldn’t figure out how to adapt, so I now have two distance lenses that are comfortable and effective, and I have readers! Not just one pair of readers, but two! One for books and the other for computer use. And they are bright and joyful, a confetti pink and an aqua blue with green trim, with matching chains!

Every time I read or look at my screen, I get joy. And, to top it off, I ordered myself a new pair of back up eye glasses to replace my twelve-year old frames. They’re mod too and they match my silver hair. Joy in seeing better. Joy in wearing things that make me smile. Joy in taking care of myself.

Do you have readers? Check back next week for another segment of Finding Home.

Lisa

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Once she saved a life.

Storytelling. Good morning from cloudy Vermont. I was thinking the other day about my life on the farm, and how I once rescued a young boy from electrocution. Here’s how I worked that memory into Quill Point:

“Eva never got caught up on a live electric fence, just the old, rusted kind that popped up now and then in the middle of the woods. There was an art to the bend, swoop, and rise needed to clear the current. Somehow she learned without her parents’ modeling. They were tall enough to step over the fences if they stood on their toes. When you farmed, you lived with danger.

Now, with her renovated house and sheltered school life, she felt removed from the fears she once wore in her back pocket. The cows kicking her face as she attached their milking machines. Tipping the tractor over as she led a wagon stacked eight high with hay bales down a crooked slope. Or tipping that same tractor as she navigated the slippery, muddy, rutted paths during sugaring.

After her parents died, Mr. Carr took down the electric fences and reused the barbed wire and the posts on his own farm. Though relieved from the liability of someone getting caught up on the wire, Eva missed the fence lining the road she walked every day. Her sentinels permanently gone.

The electric fence acted as a thorn in her parents’ relationship. Her mother Emma hated for their Jerseys and Holsteins to be harmed in any way. For the most part, their herd was gentle. But her father, Randy, hated when the cows trampled his cornfield. Without current, nothing deterred a cow from fresh corn.

Once she saved a life. A young boy visiting with his parents got hung up on the fence near the house when he tried to get to the pasture. His hands clutched around the wire, he was unable to make a sound or break the grip. A mighty zap for a little guy. Eva found him and pulled him off, absorbing her own shock as she rescued him. She wondered if he suffered adverse consequences. She never saw him again.”

What memories do you incorporate into your daily life? Check back next week for another segment of Finding Home.

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Kindness pops in.

Lifestyle. Good morning from chilly, snowy Vermont. Thursday night we attended the first half of the developmental review board meeting regarding the school construction project next door. In letter form, I explained our concerns about having to relocate to protect Serena’s health, and I asked for assistance. The chairman gave me a polite thank you, and took the next question on drainage. I felt bare-hearted and awkward, but brave and true of voice. I did the hard thing. I also posted on our local Front Porch Forum. Now all sizes of kindness are popping out. A dear friend just offered part of her home, and I’m getting messages about possibilities.

Meanwhile, I’ve been on the phone with realtors, property managers, and Craigslist folks–targeting a range from Hyde Park to Burlington via Waterbury, and Hyde Park to Burlington via Cambridge; there’s Fairfax too. You know our crazy list of criteria, and yesterday I felt like I was searching for the elusive giant squid. (Google “TED & squid” to find out how they found it.) But today, I’m more confident. It’s the beginning, after all.

I’ve also managed to write more on Quill Point. Actually, I’m reviewing what I wrote, because at page 130, I realized I lost a few threads of my story. It’s fun to get lost in a tale of my own making. I’ve high hopes you get lost in it too.

It’s been very chilly this week, like winter used to be when I was young. I resist going outside. For some reason I keep thinking of the balloon festival in St. Jean, how much fun we had, even in the rain. I hope my cousin Helene continues to hold our room reservation. To balloons. To hot and humid summer days. To loyal, little white lap dogs. To dear friends who offer up their rooms. And to you, my faithful readers. What are you toasting today?

Check back next week for another segment of Finding Home.

Lisa

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Running out of time.

Lifestyle. Good morning from cloudy Vermont. Yesterday my husband Tim and I took a road trip to Wilder, Vermont to attend the open house of a Vermod unit. If you aren’t familiar with the Vermod, it’s an efficient, prefabricated, very healthy small footprint home. We are considering it as a next step, since so far we haven’t been able to find a rental that meets are rather strict criteria. In June or thereabouts, construction will begin on the school next door. We know Serena won’t be able to tolerate the additional pollutants in the air from the site, so the pressure’s on to relocate. We are running out of time.

The unit we visited had plenty of light, high quality building materials, and low volatile organic compounds. In order to have a relaxed, comfortable space, we’d have to leave two-thirds of our belongings behind. The girls and I, always culling and passing things down, would transition well, I think. Tim might not. So many of his lovely antiques and treasures would simply not fit.

We have ten bookshelves of various sizes in this house. We’d take maybe three. No office space for me. And the only “away” place for each of us would be outside or in our bedrooms. But we’d all be breathing healthy air, and with one floor living, maintenance would be a breeze.

You may be wondering how we’d finance two places since our home here has yet to sell. I have no idea. I feel like our family is an outlier with special needs, and we feel exposed in this unstable climate. It’s hard for me to focus on writing when there are such big decisions to face, make, and put into place by summer.

I apologize to those of you who are waiting to find out what happens to Eva. i ask that you stay with me, even if it takes another year. Here’s the Vermod site. Who knows, it might be an excellent fit for one of you. And of course, I leave you with a photo from just outside our front door.

Check back next week for another segment of Finding Home.

Lisa

http://vermodhomes.com

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