cabin sweet cabin

I have lived in my cabin for five years now, and while it may not fit the hip millennial description of “cabin” (think, tiny home with a ridiculously stylish yet almost unusable kitchen and a sitting area that is uncomfortable just to look at) it is home.  The decor is nothing I could garner praise by blogging about, and while I have big dreams for my outdoor space it looks more like a half assed idea than it does any of the Pinterest photos I drool over for inspiration.  The cabin sits at the front of the accompanying 40 acres so on Saturdays and July 4th traffic on the road out front attempts to drown out the birds singing or the wind rustling through the leaves.  In the five years I have lived here I have only had a few people stop by to visit (and most of those were just checking to see that my home truly did exist).  And while my cabin will never be featured in Martha Stewart’s magazine or get a million likes on a social media platform for my use of space or decor it’s one of my most favorite things in life.

I am a home body.  An unashamed, unapologetic home body that would rather be on my hands and knees pulling weeds from my garden than sitting down at someone else’s dining table for dinner.  The sheer thought of knocking on someone else’s door makes me sink deeper into my own worn in and eclectic pillow adorned couch.  Every time I pull out of my driveway a tear sits perched on the edge of my eye as I think of the moments I will miss away from home.  Is it the carefully curated mix of antiques and thrift store finds filling the open living space or the chorus of birds streaming through the large, lace covered windows? I haven’t quite put my finger on it, but there is no place I’d rather be.

In this part of the Midwest most people have camps.  Typically hunting camps, they are small, on a good sized piece of land, and usually include a sauna.  In my neck of the woods these camps surround me, the owners coming up once or twice a year from other parts of the Midwest.  On long summer weekends or holidays I like to pretend I am also at camp.  My cozy, perfectly clean, and acutely organized space becomes my laid back vacationing spot.  I go to town for supplies just once, and then sit back and pretend I have traveled eight hours to get here.  The decorations on the wall, the thrift store plates and cups, and the low ceiling “bedroom” in the attic all take on a new look.  My list of chores changes in order to address the vacationer version of myself; instead of organizing a junk drawer and cleaning out the fridge I take to sweeping the porch and mindefully pulling weeds from the flower bed alongside the house.  I cook hotdogs over a fire, and I don’t get frustrated over my small kitchen while I prepare a traditional summery dessert.  I don’t think about ironing clothes or preparing lunches for tomorrow’s start to the work week.  I don’t clean the bathroom or turn on the tv.  When I am stuck indoors because of the nasty mosquitoes, or have to limit my morning coffee on the porch because a small, protective phoebe has laid eggs in a nest just a few feet from my chair I don’t get upset.  If I am unable to mow the grass because an abandoned fawn is calling for a new mother I don’t get impatient like I would any other day with my yardwork.  I give nature its space, the broody phoebe, the terrified fawn, the fat squirrel hanging upside down from my bird feeder.  Time is more relaxed, and I am more at ease.  And when vacation time is done, I will still be right at home.

cabin sweet cabin

happy 4th

I had originally planned to spend the 4th of July weekend as a tourist in my own town, or more accurately as a vacationer in my own home.  The weeks leading up to my 3 1/2 day weekend I pictured a quiet and memorable holiday complete with bluegrass music and evening bonfires.  My grocery list read “marshmallows, hot dogs, alcohol…”  And I told myself that I would wake up and take my coffee to the porch, reading the news slowly and enjoying the ever warming day.

Day two of my holiday and I feel just as I normally do on any other given day off.  I still haven’t grocery shopped, and I don’t bother to take my coffee to the porch but instead settle into my recliner next to an open window.  I have debated bailing on tonight’s family dinner but know that it would just result in me laying on the couch watching the same tv show I always binge watch.

Last night’s family gathering at my aunt and uncle’s house two hours south of me did not disappoint.  While my father made a few remarks about me needing to have children my mother brought up my ex husband and wouldn’t take my hints from across the table to let it drop.  My sister with the children was absent from the occasion.  Her family was staying at a Christian family camp while my other sister had an engagement session to photograph and couldn’t even take a moment in her day to text me back.  Their missing energy gave my parents the time to focus on me, but this never yields positive results.  “Thank God I’m not an only child” I thought this morning as I sipped my coffee and wallowed in my parents disapproval.

I am sure they don’t mean any harm.  They only mean to pressure me enough that I will decide to have children.  “Do they think their stubborn comments such as ‘I’m praying for you to get pregnant so you better watch out!’ make me want to rush home and jump into bed with you?” I asked my husband on the way home from my aunt and uncle’s house.  “Seriously, do they think bringing up their dissapointment makes me want to produce children?”  My husband shook his head and kept his eyes on the road.  When we stopped for gas I demanded that he call his doctor first thing after the holiday to schedule a vascectomy.  “You know that’s not going to make a difference to your parents.”  And deep down I knew he was right.  But wouldn’t the argument hold less weight?

As for my mother’s remarks regarding my ex husband I have no explanation.  Again, I am sure she doesn’t mean to make me upset, just stirring the pot is all.  Typically after she’s had a couple of drinks the comments about my first wedding dress will be made, but since she was sober yesterday she was less severe.  To this my husband also brushes off saying he is not bothered by her remarks personally although, he says it upsets him that I am upset.  I chalk it up to disappointment as I sat rocking in my recliner, looking out the window to notice how high the sun had already become.

Through the open window next to me I listen to crows cawing as they fly over a dead deer near the end of our driveway.  I turn on some music to drown it out.  Yesterday morning my husband and  heard the thud.  We got out of bed and as I made coffee my husband went to check on the tourists that had hit the deer.  Instead of sitting on my porch and doing a crossword puzzle I peered through the kitchen window, looking past the rows of pine trees at the Indian family that paced up and down the road waiting for a cop and a tow truck to arrive. As my husband and I passed the dead deer on our way to my aunt and uncles I looked the other way.

But today there was something behind the crows and the music.  Something that I couldn’t drown out.  I debated not texting my dad but the sound just wouldn’t go away.  “It sounds like an animal crying, but I’m sure it’s not.  Maybe it’s a raccoon?”  My dad texted back that it was most likely a fawn left behind, calling for its mother and that I should go look for it. I hastily threw off my pajamas and put jeans and a tshirt on.  I slipped on my boots and grabbed my coffee.  It felt good to be outside, and I watched a hummingbird fly overhead, stepped over a small, dead, bloated mouse in the driveway, and tried to forget about the carcass down the road.  The bleeting stopped, and all I could hear were the droves of tourists driving past.  I thought about all of the litter I planned to pick up along the highway and made note of the weeds in my garden.  But I couldn’t find the fawn.  My eyes filled with tears as I thought of the abandoned baby, and I went back inside to hide.  This wasn’t the vacation weekend I had planned on, the heartbreak, the disappointment, the feelings of being a failure, it all made me want to go back to bed.  The forest surrounding me wasn’t making me feel at peace, and as I heard a tire pop on a passing tourist’s boat trailer all I could wish for was the holiday to end.

happy 4th

spring comfort

After five years of trying to convince my husband to be content with our little home in the woods he has finally settled.  Set back from the country highway our house is blocked by a few rows of tall pines, and if one slowly drives by and looks down our driveway they will really only see our pole barn and two solar panels.  It’s a mostly quiet neck of the woods.  Logging trucks go by in the late morning, but the bird feeders are tucked back alongside the house and aren’t bothered by traffic passing by.  In the spring the birds are noisy; the red breasted grosbeak doing his mating dance while a gang of bluebirds looks on wth what I imagine is a look that says “little idiot.”  The chicken coop sits on the opposite end of our large yard, but the hens can be heard squawking as they run around looking for small snakes and pink little worms.  With the recent addition of an Ikea windchime on our porch the area has gotten a bit more nosey as the hallow wood pieces knock together.  But apart from these spring time sounds, the place is quiet.

We don’t have neighbors, which is the main point my husband brings up when he unexpectedly states that we will not be moving anywhere else any time soon.  On either side of our 40 acres are multiple other 40’s owned by people who only make a visit to their land a couple of times a year. Some of the properites have small, rough looking cabins tucked back into the woods.  In the summer time we hear the occasional gun shot, but other than that we sit undisturbed.  The lack of peeping toms and snooping neighbors gives my husband elaborate liberty to pee off the side of our porch into the patch of dirt that lacked grass long before we ever moved in.  He does this with pride as if he were a dog marking his territory.  And it makes me happy to know he finally sees this quiet place as his own.

As the ironic fate that follows me would have it, three months after purchasing my cabin of solitude as a single, independent woman, I met my now husband.  He was more than content with his centrally located apartment in town.  Cooley riding his bike to school and work it was beyond his mental capacity how someone could enjoy living 40 minutes outside of town, away from the action. While I was in my weed filled garden tilling until the mosquitoes ate me alive he was sitting in a restaurant’s outdoor patio with friends, his bike parked casually on the sidewalk.

How we made it to this point is hazy to me.  My social husband spends only a day a week with friends, and on weekends when I get all my outdoor chores done we go out to eat in town, sitting inside the dimly lit, modern restaurants while our vehicle sits casually parked outside.  Nonetheless, despite the five years of compromise, I am still a bit shocked he has grown so comfortable in our little home so far away from the hustle and bustle.  Three weeks ago I was finding us apartments to move into in downtown Chicago (a good 5 1/2 hour drive from our current rural existence).  When I told my husband I had found us just the right one on the river I am not sure what reaction I was hoping for.  I was ready to take my turn in the compromise and move to the land of opportunity and public transportation.  It turns out somewhere between the sound of chirping spring peepers and the grouses’ non stop thumping he found the peace to settle in.  So here we’ll stay, at least for a little bit longer.

spring comfort

census or self analysis?

This morning a gentleman from the census bureau knocked on my door.  I refer to him as a gentleman because his grey hair was combed back nicely with just the right amount of gel.  He wore khakis with just enough pockets to make them questionably cargo pants, and his name badge hung over his blue, zip up fleece top.  The apparel was pretty standard “comfy-casual” for this neck of the woods.  But like I said, the hair made him a gentleman.

After he grabbed his laptop with its giant U.S. Census sticker on it I invited him in.  I didn’t offer him coffee as that seemed too friendly an invitation for someone I wasn’t quite yet positive wouldn’t be murdering me in the next 5 minutes.  He asked me the standard census questions, but as this was my first home visit I wasn’t quite yet sure what to expect.  I fumbled on my husband’s birth date, first correcting myself on the day (“seventh, not seventeen”) and then letting it slide when I realized I also gave him the wrong year (“my husband was born in 1988?!”).  I also over estimated my yearly income, choking as I secretly vowed to brush up on my mental math skills.  I imagined myself sitting before a jury some time from now being questioned as to why I gave so many wrong answers.  I also thought about how ashamed I would be the next time I read some sort of national population statistic, knowing that my answers were slightly off.  “Accurate to the best of my knowledge” hopefully applies to my poor memory for birth dates and horrid math skills.

Even more concerning was the fact that this man was possibly judging me as he sat in my two room home (“if I sleep in the attic does that count as a second room, and does it count as a bedroom?” was my answer to his 8th question).  The upside down patio chair laying next to the couch, the dirty floors, the long, white cat hairs strewn everywhere like confetti.  I watched him type in between questions wondering if he was taking observational notes.  “Fidgets as she answers questions regarding numbers,” “Says she has husband but incredible amount of cat hair appears to prove otherwise,” “Bird seed on kitchen counter – she possibly eats birdseed???”  In my mind I see these notes being sold to retailers, ad agencies, and local mayors, maybe even Russia who would use them to calculate the stupidity of their frenemy.

I am an annoyingly clean person, or at least my husband thinks so.  To have someone come into my house while even just one item is out of place causes a self evaluation of the highest scrutiny.  I don’t spend countless hours every evening after work dusting cat hair, organizing my desk, and sweeping each square inch of my small home so that someone can stop by unannounced and find my home in a mediocre state.  As I sat across from the gentleman in his barely cargo khakis I wondered what it would be like to have his job and see so many homes.  I also wondered if his office was hiring.

Oh the excitement of stopping by other people’s homes unannounced and seeing what items may be out of place or what other people did while home on a Wednesday at 9am.  Maybe my barking lap dog was a breeze to a man who probably stopped by a lot of homes filled with small children and blaring day time talk shows.  The perspective one must gain by showing up at strangers houses unannounced!

As he left, the gentleman (who never once tried to murder me by the way) called back at me from his black Buick “you have a great place here!” and I thanked him, knowing he must be referring to the sunshine and tweeting birds flying over his head.  And as he drove away I thanked myself for cleaning the dog poop from the yard this morning.

census or self analysis?