August 17th, 2006
Much to the dismay of my husband and cats, I am still painting.
I have been in a flurry of painting since last winter, when I decided to paint our study a loud marigold color. This lead to the necessity of painting the halls outside the study a sunny saffron yellow, all the better to "blend" the cheeriness now shining out from the study. But then the bedroom looked drab in comparison–so I repainted the sand-colored walls with a gorgeous golden tulip color, leaving the dark red wall behind the bed alone. Of course, it didn't end there, painting projects continuing: the living room, kitchen and sunroom getting coats of pale golden yellow and a red wall behind the piano, the kitchen cabinets becoming a warm purplish-blue color called "Opening Night", the dining room seeing not one, but two, transformations: first, I tried the same saffron of the halls, but was never completely satisfied, so in an inspired moment, painted it a dark purplish-blue–just a shade off the kitchen cabinets. It practically throbs with richness. While Matt was in New Orleans, I painted the arches that connect the main living areas the same dark red as the fireplace. As soon as I had done it, I knew it was completely right.
Like the dining room, some places have been slow to show their true colors. After months of living with the saffron yellow hall, I decided it must be changed–something about the light there doesn't make that color work quite right. I have wanted to paint the white, white, white bathroom for months, but wavered on what color would be best. Finally, I realized that the pale golden yellow of the living room should be continued into the hall and the bathroom. As soon as I came to that conclusion, I wondered why it had taken me so long to figure it out. Then the white doors on the closets, bedroom and bathroom suddenly seem glaring next to the warm colors of the rest of the house. Painting them the colors of the kitchen cabinets and dining room will solve that problem I am certain. I am suspicious that if I could find a fantastic green, what will be next is to paint the doorframes and baseboards throughout the house in such a lovely shade. But don't tell Matt or the cats. They need to believe the end is in sight.
By the time I am finished, the entire house will have been transformed. I wish I could say I had planned it, that I had some kind of detailed decorating scheme and vision, but long-range planning has never been my strong suit. Instead, like in so many areas of my life, the color scheme has just evolved–each step revealing what the next one should be. "Organic," one friend commented when she saw our house. "The colors evolved organically." I'd like to think so. It sounds much better than admitting I rarely have a clue about what my long-range vision or goals should be.
I have all-too-brief two weeks off between my last teaching day of summer and the beginning of my fall schedule. Actually, that statement isn't totally true, those two weeks aren't completely without work. I will go to Lubbock for a piano lesson, which necessitates hard practicing in the days prior. I will have to play one of those Sundays at church, as I am substituting for Matt's organist while she is on sabbatical for a few months. And we are fitting in a quick trip to Santa Fe and Colorado in the cracks. But nevertheless, compared to weeks of teaching 25+ lessons and playing rehearsals and performances, it is as empty as my life will ever be.
And so, the competition for what projects will fill my time during those weeks begins. It is the perfect time to finish the painting–and with our annual Labor Day weekend choir parties around the corner, I have the perfect motivation for getting the house "done." (Is there such a thing?) The badly neglected yard and garden need attention. After weeks of rain, there are weeds of all kinds littering the yard and plants need attention, pruning, deadheading. An older woman from Matt's choir invited me to visit her garden and pick out plants I would like to have–a generous offer. Especially as I don't run out of gardening ideas, I simply run out of resources. Anne's garden was beautiful, but reminded me of how much fussing I need to do out there if I am to have the garden I dream about. "It takes years," she assured me when I whined about how far I had to go. Years. The impatient part of me doesn't like that pronouncement, but I like the idea I might have a lengthy grace period with the garden. I'll need every second.
There are at least five articles and writing pieces clamoring for my attention–I have learned reluctantly that I can be a teacher/pianist or a writer/pianist in a single day, but I don't have the attention or discipline to manage all three roles. Lately, it has been mostly the teacher/pianist banners I have been carrying. It would be good to really make some distance on the page while my teacher self is taking a break.
And for the first time all summer, my schedule will be open enough to allow for regular yoga and Pilates classes–instead of the hit-or-miss attendance I have been maintaining the last three months. Funny, but with the summer heat and intense sun (and my migraine habit and fair skin), I hardly leave the house during the day. I am just not getting enough exercise and my body aches for a good workout. A couple of weeks of serious exercising would be a grand thing.
I never have trouble filling free time, but I know I must be cautious: if I do nothing but work during my vacation, I will return to my regular life out of sorts and cranky. I need to allow time to get bored. To be so restless I call old friends or write letters, clean the spice cabinet or cook something new for dinner, reread favorite books or start knitting again. I want to want to go back to work.
And so it goes. In these final hot days of summering, (even though the calendar won't declare fall for another two months, when school begins, in my books, fall is here) I am taking solicitations for how to spend my time. To do this or that? It may take the whole vacation to decide.