Friday, January 10, 2014

Coming home (Fall 2013)

The first banner taken in my new office.
Fall had escaped me too quickly. I’m now facing the first days of January from my  new office window, watching the snow start to melt under the bright sun. I am going to ask the same question I asked from summer: where did the autumn days go? To moving and unpacking. To settling in and repainting. To welcoming a steady stream of visitors and showing them around town. To making new friends and coming home. And so I apologize not only to you but to one of my favorite seasons for not giving it a proper tribute. And although we’re in the midst of winter, I am still posting the fall banner as My Desk is really just my journal and milestone tracker. And if you just happen to drop by, you are more than welcome to take the tour.  

A fall find I failed to share last year.
When we first came home to our new property, we found a card sitting on a little housewarming present from the previous owner. “I hope this home makes you as happy as it has us. We have made some of our best friends in this home and neighborhood,” it read.

And then the last line made my eyes well up –“Love abides in this place!” This is exactly how I feel about our old home, and it gave me great comfort to know that we are moving in to a place filled with love.

Love abides in this place.
I didn’t think it would be possible, but I had fallen in love with this house. It is in another historical neighborhood with lots of trees. This house is a little bit younger, built in the forties, but the little remnants of history from the milk door to the antique keys you see on the banner (don’t you just love old fashioned keys? I got one made into a necklace by a local artist in Oklahoma) gives the house just as much character as our starter home. It is also twice as large as our old abode with 4 bedrooms split on two floors, a basement, an attic, a laundry room, a walk-in pantry, a shed, huge front and backyards, and a dog run.  Each bedroom has an adorable window alcove, including the bathrooms which are almost twice the size of our old ones. The eat-in kitchen is spacious enough to accommodate our pub table. We painted the dining side of the kitchen red to make it look just like our old breakfast nook.

The living room before we moved in (photo borrowed from the real estate site)

Our living room now.

There is more than enough space than we know what to do with. In fact, now that I have a good sized walk-in closet, the closet and the dresser in our bedroom are practically empty (the TV room is also my husband’s dressing room, in case you’re wondering). There are two big closets in my office. One is almost empty while the other is where I temporarily store my books. Floor to ceiling bookshelves are underway.

I can't ask for a better office view.
I no longer have the three large windows that faced the backyard in my previous office, but I got a great trade off: three tall windows facing different sides of the house- the street, the backyard, and the side of the house overgrown with ivy and foliage, making it look like an enchanted forest according to my husband. He had planted a bird feeder by the window and most days, little chirping visitors (over a dozen of them when the feeder is full) would come to say hello. I couldn’t ask for more.

Speaking of windows, they’re everywhere. My kitchen is surrounded with them and the living room and the formal dining room feature beautiful bay windows. It is important for lots of light to come in and bless us every day.

I’m also happy that the house is a walking distance away from schools and a 10-minute drive to my husband’s workplace. After all, what’s the point of a beautiful dwelling place when you can’t come home early enough to enjoy it?

I enjoy decorating the house with pumpkins!

And so the past few months had been spent unpacking, cleaning, painting, staining, hammering, looking for specific things in the dozens of boxes, bickering (I want it red, he wants it to remain gray), exploring, discovering (I found an old fashioned pencil sharpener in the attic and he found a vintage fireplace poker in the basement!), sitting back and enjoying what we’ve done so far, and envisioning the many joyful days in this house.

We started exploring the Canyons this fall.

Featured on the desk is the door knocker from my husband’s childhood home. My in-laws had given it to us as a housewarming gift. Meaning and history make presents even more special, don’t you think? It has our last name engraved on the face and making it even more special is the fact that they think only my husband (amongst the siblings) would appreciate such a gift.

For the longest time, I had referred to our son as a “winter baby” but technically, he is an “autumn child” as he was born on the last day of fall. But then he was a newborn throughout winter, so I guess we can say that he is a child of both seasons. Time flies quicker than the falling leaves. He’s walking out of my heart too soon and his first little pair of shoes are on the banner (a gift from friends). Just recently he has taken to calling me “mom” instead of “momma”. There is something sweet and funny about that, but it’s also sad.

The fall festivities also kept as pretty busy.
We now know our ABCs (although we trip on the letter J or the letter Y every now and then), can spell our name, and can count all the way up to 40 when guided (1-10 is a piece of cake). He loves tea sets as much as he loves cars and can navigate through the iPad better than his dad can.

Speaking of Apple products, I recently switched to a different phone provider on an iPhone just because it’s free. I still maintain what I said before about Apple products. I don’t see what the fuss is all about. It’s actually a bit of an annoyance sometimes, because the displays are so darn small that most times I would need my glasses just to read a text message.

Also on the desk is a Build-A-Bear dressed in Marine Dress Blues.  My husband’s nephew Ben had had it made when he was much younger in honor of his uncle serving in the Military. Now that Ben has outgrown it, he’s passing it on to his uncle’s son. I find it a sweet gesture which is why I’m including the marine teddy on the desk also to commemorate Veterans Day. I feel so blessed knowing that my son has such a great role model.

I've taken an interest in chalkboard art lately.
The first quarter of the year is when we usually go for our vacation abroad, so we’ve been  looking around for a new destination. Guatemala or neighboring countries in Central America were in the shortlist just because it would be an easy flight (which explains the Lonely Planet guide on the desk). The major consideration was the distance. It has to be a short and easy flight as we are taking our toddler with us. But our search eventually brought us even closer to home until we landed on the Mayan Rivera.

I painted a whole panel in my son's room this chalkboard in the hopes of sparking creativity.
Mexico has never been in our radar. I hate to sound like a snob but to us, going to Mexico is synonymous to say, a trip to Las Vegas or L.A., overly commercialized tourist traps. I would more than likely have fun in these places, but they would never find a spot in our itinerary. Then we discovered Tulum, not quite as trampled and trodden as Cancun, but offers us the Mayan Ruins, the Riviera Maya white sand beaches, the ecological parks, the colorful markets in the pueblo, and all the tamales we can eat. The tickets have been bought and the beach side hotel has been booked. We’re counting the days.

An Amarillo autumn
Finally, the book for fall is Middlesex, a Pulitzer Prize winner by Jeffrey Eugenides. Urged by the old adage “don’t judge the book by its cover”, I endeavored to plow through it although it looked like heavy reading (remembering my bumpy trip On the Road) based on the somewhat somber looking book cover. It was far from gloomy though even with the story starting at fire- and war-ravaged Smyrna.

Middlesex is an engaging light read, a telling of a family saga, ala telenovella, only retold masterfully and cleverly, deserving of the prestigious award. Aboard the ship to the United States, the reader is taken on a history lesson on the Balkan Wars, the Nation of Islam, the Watergate Scandal, and the rise and fall of Detroit in the 60s, events that I would have otherwise little interest in. The story also explores gender identity and ultimately, the search for one’s true self. After all, isn’t that every one’s quest in life?

Just a few months in the house and we were already receiving guests.
Someone close to me had recently disclosed that she is finding her purpose yet again. She is over 10 years my senior, and she’s come upon this selfless but unsettling stage in her life when she gave everything until all she can hear is the echo of tired laughter. Even at her age, I understand her longing, because I feel that we are constantly finding purpose, otherwise we remain complacent and stagnant. I believe that we need to keep moving, keep traveling. Didn’t Pico Iyer say that “We travel, initially, to lose ourselves; and we travel, next, to find ourselves?”

Relocating had forced me to reevaluate my purpose as it somehow derailed my path to my goals. But in the end, the aim is always the same: to be happy. Because it is when we are happy and content with ourselves that we become more useful to the world. At least, that’s what I believe.

Don’t listen to me. Just go keep moving, find your happiness, and then come home.

And this is home.


As the seasons change, so will my desktop banner. I will be adding little touches to it, moving the items around, and customizing it for the season. I will archive its transformation on My Desk. 

Read more about how I put the banner together and how my real writer's desk looks like at My Desk. And tell me how your desk looks like, and I will tell you who you are.


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