happiness: a choice that requires effort at all times

Some things to love:

The smell of the skin of a plum, just ripened. A small child's hand in yours. August sunshine accompanied by a cool autumn breeze. Warm homemade bread and honey. The warmth of a down comforter and a quilt on top of that. The fragrance of apple season and the deliciousness of sniffing an apple ripening on the tree, then picking it, and biting into it. Pulling weeds. The warmth of touch from someone who loves you -- or simply cares how you are doing at that moment. The crispy skin of oven roasted chicken.

Garden potatoes boiled in their skins with butter and herbs. A husband's chest to cry on. Working in the sunshine. A mother's voice. Strawberries and cream icecream, with no unrecognizable ingredients. "Honey chewing gum" -- fresh honey still in the honeycomb. Eating straight out of the garden. A letter from a friend. Serving another in anticipation of his or her delight. Telling the truth. Putting yourself out on a limb. Short fingernails.

Stamps that don't have to be licked. A house full of colour. The smell of fresh laundry. Sleeping outside in the afternoon. Someone looking into your eyes, asking "How. Are. You?" Jumping off a dock into a cold, cold lake. A friend to confess your heart to. A job well done. Herbs straight from the garden. Being read like an open book. Understanding another language. Homemade applesauce. Transplanting perennials. Mango-scented body wash. The soft keys of an old piano. A feel-good book. Singing a spontaneous song with someone you love.


party girl

Tonight I went to a party. Martin was out of town refereeing a innebandy tournament. So I was going alone, and he would arrive later. It was raining and I was riding a bicycle. I was laughing.

Already unfashionably late. Going alone to party of Swedes where I may know (2) people. Riding our old Norwegian-made bicycle, with a seat and a bar so high I have to stretch to reach the pedals and if I slip (raining and I chose to wear loafers) I may never bear children. I have a house plant (the housewarming gift) flying in a plastic bag from the right handle bar, a bag of chips over my shoulder, and a plastic container of French onion dip strapped to the book rack behind me. Racing in the rain on thin tires, through the forest, trying to figure the best way through the village to reduce my lateness.

I started out grumpy -- going to a party alone without Martin on a bicycle in the rain. Then it just got -- funny. Then, enjoyable. One more moment in my funny little village life.


murder most delicious

Our neighbor is pushing his sputtering choking lawnmower up and down the lawn. He's racing a pressing rain squall, the trees are bending under the wind and dark clouds pinch out the sun. The horse at the end of the garden responds to it with his own vocal raucous.

I can't believe it myself, but I sanctioned and oversaw the cutting down of a large old cherry tree in our yard last night. It was majestic, gray-barked and lichened, but it leaned in a intimate way toward our house, right over the kitchen, and pushed out the growth of the aspens beside it. And cherry trees make such a mess. Molting in the spring, dropping dark, purple-exploding cherries in the summer, and leaves in the fall. The tree is tall, so old and big, that we can't even harvest it's fruit before it splatters on our deck or heads or wherever. So, the cherry tree had to die. Isn't this the power of our lordship over nature? We can grow and kill it as we please. And so the cherry tree is now cherry wood, and after been sawn and chopped and split and dried, will heat our house one winter.

And we harvested the last of the cherries, so ripe and soft that they turned the eaters mouth purple-black, staining teeth, tongue, and lips. Martin was so happy to have the tree cut down and eat the cherries, his mouth an up-turned, purple-lipped grin, he looked the Joker, gloating over some mayhem and mischief.


from this to that

This morning the sunshine was streaming in the east windows, heating my cereal milk as I ate, beckoning to come and make the most of a summer day. We are back in our tranquil little blue house after five days in Prague, Czech Republic.

The pulse of a city is at the same appealing and repelling -- after a bit in the countryside the thrum and vibrancy of a dense human population is drawing. It's music, sirens, murmurings and thumpings, the art, magnificent architecture, and appetites for all kinds of food. People watching. Subway riding. Shop perusing. Accompanied by the sharp smack of sewage stench, broken human beings, twisted and blatant sexual "entertainment", dismal dirty corners filled with garbage and poorly executed graffiti.

My ears have become accustomed to the thick silence of little Holsbybrunn, but at moments it almost feels as if I am going crazy -- the loudest thing the ringing in my ears. But the screech and howl of Communist-era trains shooting by one another was almost too much to bear. (Martin covered his ears, but he's lived sanscity longer than I.) All possible windows of the train were down to combat the stifling July heat and the pervading, rank smell of urine.

We spent four days in the city and one day traveling about 35 kilometers outside of Prague to a smaller village and 14th century castle built by a former Czech king and Roman emperor. We walked up into the surrounding hills and nature reserve to find "little America", a 100 metre canyon with a lake at it's bottom. We passed by large poppy fields with their blue-gray-green bulbs and crumbling cement and wood houses of the bygone peasantry. Fields of yellow grain and shiny-leafed corn.

But the city life -- Czech pub food, gorgeous clothes, spires and steeples of 1,000 years of art and design, river boats, pink/blue/orange flats, warm cobblestone and beautiful light polution, has it's appeal for a few days.