When you wake up to a 68 degree morning & discover that the broil-proof white winged doves have left en masse, seemingly overnight for warmer climes, your desert dweller’s heart celebrates the wane of summer. Don’t get me wrong, our daytime temps will still be hot when judged by non-desert standards, most likely through this entire month, but the eyeball blistering sear is dissipating, monsoon moisture is starting to evaporate, & nights will be cool enough to open windows.
Poof! Where did summer go? Compared to my last two summers spent toiling at the loom on the condor tapestry, this one has been very different. Instead of locking myself away from the heat to weave, I have been locked away supervising our home remodel, which is now into the third month. Thankfully, there is a light glowing at the end of the construction tunnel. Last weekend I finally got a bare bones kitchen back in working order after three weeks of creative vegan meal prep using a tiny bathroom sink & a microwave, supplemented by the meager selections for vegan take-out that Tucson has available. The first thing I did the very day the oven was installed was make a pizza—an herbed crust vegan cashew cheese (homemade!) fresh tomato kalamata olive basil chiffonade olive oil drizzled feast. I had been dreaming about this pizza like a person who had been on a long backpacking trip or stuck on a desert island. Needless to say, it was damn tasty!
I am currently trying to get the rest of the kitchen out of boxes & into my new cupboards, working around both Dennis, who is doing the tiling, & our contractors, who are doing the finishing touches in both the kitchen & bathroom. Once those are completed, the new flooring will get installed—the last step in this process of deconstruction & reconstruction. Then the house will be ours again & I’ll get my fingers into some warp.
This may be the longest period in a number of years that I have gone without weaving, but I am choosing to view it as an opportunity to rest my mojo & ponder what this second half of life might bring. In doing this remodel, Dennis & I feel we have committed to keeping Tucson as our primary residence… for a time we had considered relocating. We hope to travel more once he has partially or fully retired, but we love our home here & have lived in this house longer than either of us have ever lived in any other abode. Tucson is beautiful, it can provide most everything we need, & it is a great jumping off point for travels elsewhere.
No further word on a confirmed date for a trip to the Grand Canyon to deliver the condor tapestry. I am trying to be patient & not think about it too much.
During this remodel, most of my time has been spent doing online research & procurement for necessary pieces & parts while workers were pounding & clanging away around me. This has been interspersed with a few escapes to Sabino Canyon & Mt Lemmon, & going to yoga classes, which have all helped preserve my sanity. I have also had lots of time to think about other things, one of which during the last three weeks has been death. Today happens to be my birthday; three weeks ago today, my music teacher died of an aggressive pancreatic cancer, very soon after her diagnosis. She was 54, just one year older than me, & it is hard to believe she is gone. She was a professional violist who had been a member of several symphonies, including the Tucson symphony; she also moonlighted as a music teacher & could play violin, cello, & piano. I first met her at a local music “academy” in 2008 where she was assigned as my teacher when I decided to try learning cello, which later transitioned into her coming to give me lessons here in my studio. She would bring her violin & we would play duets, & during these times together I learned more about music from her than I had imagined I would. Although I finally had to stop playing cello last summer because it had become very painful for my shoulders & wrists, we had kept in touch & she encouraged my idea of taking up the piano. I did not see her again after her diagnosis, but I did talk with her on the phone several times before she died. I am thankful that I was able to tell her how deeply my lessons with her had changed my life, how grateful I was that I had met her, thank her for sharing her knowledge, & tell her that I would miss her terribly. She was a kind, gentle person & had devoted her short life to the arts. If you are an artist, teacher, or both, be it of paint, music, fiber, words, or anything else… know this: what you are doing is valuable, meaningful, & has profound effects on others’ lives. Don’t doubt it for a single minute. And don’t stop doing it.
During the early realization that she would die soon, & in the days since her death, I have thought often about not so much the fear of death itself, but what tangible things I would begin to miss if I was told I would die soon… the spicy dark licorice scent of summer basil; the fluffy meringue clouds of September; driving fast with all the windows down & loud rock music blaring; the smell of rain; hugging my dogs & getting swiped across the face with a smelly tongue; ocean waves; the thrill of starting a new tapestry; looking into Dennis’ dark brown eyes. Almost everything, really.
Do me a favor… go outside & look up at the sky. Take a deep breath of air & see what it smells like. Happy Birthday, everybody, whenever yours happens to be. This is life. Go grab it by the britches & live it.