Putting out fires with tea

September 29, 2009 Candace Morris 3 Comments

Let me set the scene for you.

It’s the coldest day of the changing seasons.
The clouds portent more rain to come. I’m finally home from the 1.5 hour long drive from where I USED to live (which is only half of the time I spent in my car today). I’m starving. I’m cold. I’m alone.

I let myself into this place we are now calling home, and decide that I shall make a fire, heat up the leftover chicken noodle mom brought over the weekend, toast up the remaining pieces of rosemary bread, and read my book.

It sounds so simple and perfect.
Only tonight, this place has decided that I am oil and it is water and we shall not be melding.

Okay, so my relationship with building a good fire has lots of issues attached to it.
It (like many other things I may have previously mentioned), seems to be another chink towards earning my black-belt in womanhood.* But I have never, EVER been good at it. Despite all efforts in “leave me alone, I know what I am doing,” and countless lessons from people, I cannot seem to do it well.

But this time it will be different.
I get plenty of kindling, a bunch of newspaper, and three dry logs from my new wood-shed. But as I am in the process, all of a sudden HHHUUUUGGGEEE amounts, PUFFS, BILLOWS of smoke start pouring out of the stove. The fire alarm goes off, my timer for the soup goes off, and I decide the food can wait because I need a fire for the whole ambiance.

After I open the windows to let the smoke (and cold!) in,
I push back my sleeves, get on my knees, and start attending to this fire like any good country-girl would do. I make oxygen pockets, I whistle-blow the shit out of it, I freaking pray.


Now, as evidenced by my most recent entry, I have had a rather grim perspective these last few days about this transition. I am struggling to find the romance and purpose in this move, and I know I will feel better soon, but I tell you – this friiiggggeeenn-A fire isn’t helping the matter. PLUS, one of the benefits to this cultural change was the acquiring of a new skill set (chopping wood, wearing Wellies, tending fields, MAKING FIRES), and if I cannot master it...it's all just really getting me down.

My soup is now cold. My re-toasted bread now just crunchy.

I finally…finally decide that it’s not worth it. I find the saint’s favorite sweatshirt, pull the hood over my smoke infused hair, reheat my soup and eat my big ol’ dinner of disappointment like any good city-girl would do.

And then I start to feel my fingers itch for the keyboard, but remember that I have no internet. So here I am, using MS Word to write this and then upload it at the library during my tutoring session 20 minutes away.

But in order to write, I certainly need a cup of tea. And it there is one thing I’ve learned tonight. It’s this:

If I can’t make a fire, I can sure as hell make a good cup of tea, damn it.** Country, city – both of these create plenty of fodder for writing. It is in that cozy little slice of knowledge where I will continue to warm up to myself again and again.

*Perhaps what really needs to happen here is the definition of womanhood per CRM. Hmmm.

**That IS, unless the milk you pour into your Earl Gray curdles and you have to dump it out and start over. No comment.



September 28, 2009 Candace Morris 3 Comments

My brain is bursting at the seams. We have completed the move about 90%, but only about 20% of the unpacking. I have been disconnected from the internet for roughly 2.5 days, and though it's been nice, it only adds to the general feeling of ODDITY that encompasses my description of this new life. In a conversation today with my friend, I described it thus:

I love it when I am at the house.
I hate it when I leave the house.

Except for while at my new local coffee shop, which to some might be called Joel's parents house, but I see internet and coffee (and lunch, and rubs, and free bananas) and normalcy.

And that's the worst part of moving. After you do all of this physically and emotionally draining work, you just want to go home and noodle on your couch. Well, there will be no noodling on your couch when you couch is buried in the living room and no where near your disconnected media center (which is missing a monitor and speakers anyway). So I come to the closest home I know and try to find myself again here, among you.

My attendance will for sure be sporadic at best in the next few weeks, but I'll be sure to return to keep you abreast of Musings of a Melancholic - country style.

p.s. come visit me.


My Life This Week

September 23, 2009 Candace Morris 4 Comments

Shelves Bare.

Racks Empty.

Books rudely Unshelved.

Mme. in grunge

And with every box, my heart breaks a little more for Seattle.


A birth, a move, a challenge

September 19, 2009 Candace Morris 5 Comments

I have so much to catch you all up on here at Chateau Bookling (soon to be named Bookling Manor, but more on that later).

The purpose of my most recent Redding trip was to finally be a part of my best friend Jackie's delivery of child number three. I haven't been able to be there for the other two children (missed the last one by a DAY), so I took advantage of my flexible situation and went down for the two weeks right around her due date. We were hoping that fate would be on our side so I could be a part of it.

I was due to leave on Tuesday and Levi David decided to make his appearance on Monday at 8:39am after 13 hours of labor. It was such an amazing process to behold from start to finish and made me marvel at the love and trust Jackie had placed in me to allow me to be a fly on the wall for such a vulnerable process. Though I am comfortable showing just about any emotion, pain is absolutely NOT one of them.

When Levi finally started to crown, I absolutely couldn't believe it. I had never seen a birth (not even a video), and it was just nothing like I expected. I thought I would be traumatized and never want to go through the process, but either Jackie made it look easy, or I realized that there simply couldn't be anything more natural. And then, oh the gobs and gobs of joy and release of the happiest floodgate of tears came upon me...and I cannot imagine how that would be intensified if I were seeing my child for the first time.

It's magical; divinity sure pulled a rabbit out of a hat with this one. And boy, after Levi came, it was the hardest thing in the world to get back on that plane. I have always had a serious case of baby fever (NOT parent fever, sadly), and this only made it soooo.much.worse. He's my new favorite 5 day old.

There was talk about me extending my plane ticket, but alas, the saint and I had made a huge decision right before I left for the trip, and I needed to get back to execute the plans. We have decided to move to the country. It's a rather long story, but Joel will be working from home next month and we do not have enough room in our little city-cave to accommodate the both of us here. Not only that, but in order to maintain my stay-at-homeness, we needed a cheaper place. These are the practical reasons.

The soulful reasons, and the vastly more important to me are these: We are slow-pokey souls. We want a simpler life, a quieter life, a more intentional life. In order to do this, we need to unbury ourselves from the debt of our early 20s. We need to be in the forest. We need space to spread our wings and test our courage in flight. We need to be closer to his parents.

I cannot tell you what a hard decision this was for me. Joel loves the city, but he really REALLY needs to be around his trees and hobby space. I love the city, and that's all I need (that I know of, never having lived in the country). I watch Seattle unfold my words; she is my muse. BUT, she isn't going anywhere...I just have to come to her. Plus, all of our friends are here and though I know we will all make the drive, there will be so much less of the spontaneous, no traffic, quick drinks together.

The move happens this next weekend - so this week is me packing and taking trips out there. We've already spent more time in the car this week than we probably have all year. So there you have it, we will be upgrading Chateau Bookling into Bookling Manor.


Right around my birthday, I posted a 12-month challenge blog. The first month's challenge was to stick to my budget. Well, all I'm going to say about that is that I tried really, really, really hard. And though I wasn't entirely successful, it was remarkable how just even paying acute attention to it made me spend less. August came and went and I never got to report or tell you what September's challenge was. Well, I decided that September's challenge was moving to the country.

Dears, I hope that you put goals in place as a guideline for yourselves and not a binding contract. I am learning to give myself a WHOLE lot of room in this way...even to boast to the world that "I AM RUNNING FOR 5 HOURS A DAY" and then not doing it if it turns out that it wasn't a goal I could keep, or didn't want to keep...or whatever. Needless to say, I am not the kind of person that will ever become a body-builder or have drive to accomplish something with unwavering focus, but I tell you, I AM the kind of person that can extend myself the amount of graciousness that I can extend to those I love - and that is a rare gift.

So, I took September off and decided to focus on my life instead. Funny how whether or not you make it a goal to grow and change...life does it for you.

Happy Weekend,


En Images: A trip to California

September 17, 2009 Candace Morris 2 Comments

For the last two weeks, I've enjoyed the pleasure and pain of living with children.
I've watched them, I've kissed them, I've corrected them, I've read to them,
I've played with them...
but mostly...

I've envied them.
Their innocence, their authenticity, their imagination.
Their nakedness.
Their kiddie pool.

The mountain upon which they live.

Their security, their joy.
Their stay-home mother.

Their energy.

In addition to these two wee souls,
I've also mingled with the wind; swayed with the trees; sighed at the sunset.

And more envy visited me.

I wanted their simplicity.
The special way no one sees them
unless they look with intention and patience.

I wanted their pure beauty.
I wanted to know what it feels like to trust your roots.
To never question your existence.
Or your death.
To have everything decided for you.

I wanted their contentment.
Their uncomplaining voice.

Their self-satisfaction.
Their trust in provision.

And then I noticed me among them.
And I envied them.

Because its pretty great being human.
And loving other humans...great and small.

RDD Visit Sept 2009


There is no definition for self in the dictionary

September 15, 2009 Candace Morris 3 Comments

You may have noticed a theme around these parts lately. I've been somewhat obsessed with the idea of becoming a "real woman." In the last year, I sewed my own my own dress, learned to make jam and pies, and shot guns. Though I've joked about these things being the crux of my coming of age, I realize that I've treated something rather intentional and meaningful in a cavalier manner.

Lemme s'plain.

One of the ways I've learned to be kinder to myself in the last few years is in self-definition.

In a home where there is X amount of love and Y amount of kids fighting for X amount, a child will do anything to stand out, to form her own identity. A child becomes the "smart" or the "athletic" one; she'll be named the "outgoing" one or the "stubborn" one. These labels are not put there maliciously, but they do indeed stick. We are taught from an early age to focus on one goal, to decide who we will be well before our soul's reveal their essence, be this one person so that we are easy to figure out, easy to handle, easy to love.

I looked at my soul carefully, turning over the rocks, inspecting the bugs. Turns out I had a concrete box poured around the garden of my identity. This box was suffocating my roots and killing off the new growth. For example, I used to hate pink just to hate pink, I used to be so serious because immature behavior was irritating. I never wanted to fit into any status-quo of womanhood so I decided that I don't wear short skirts, I don't draw hearts, and I'd never be caught dead doing something as boring as staring at a flower or using my imagination. Granted, I also didn't do some of these things because they simply did not interest me at the time, but I realize that if I had continued on a path that did not allow for my interests to change, my soul would be stuck. Hell, I was so cut off from my natural desires that I wouldn't even know which new things I would want to try. My opinion about them would have been formed well before I had experienced it.

And that's my point. Why do we form opinions about things we know very little about? Perhaps it's fear that breeds the desire to squelch that which we do not understand with petty definitions and wounded resentment for an identity we couldn't have because someone else already claimed that label.

So I'm working backwards.

I hated pink, so as an experiment, I wore pink fingernail polish for months. It made me laugh all month because of the frivolous joy of being a little girl. Turns out that I actually don't like pink after all, but at least I know that it's because of my natural taste, not bull-shit labeling.

I thought I found sewing and baking boring. So, I decided to delve into it...break some needles, get my prissy hands dirty with dough! Turns out that I love to create, but was SO PARALYZED that I would look stupid in the attempt or that the product would dash my hopes and leave me with a big pill of disappointment to swallow, that I had convinced myself that I was in no way an artist. But I am an artist. I never thought that a pie would show me that more clearly than my writing or my photographs.

I was scared to shoot a gun at first...which is totally typically girly I guess. But because I was in touch with how I felt on the subject ("Hello, anxiety and nerves. Hmmm, you must be scared to shoot off your big toe. This makes perfect sense! Let's be scared"), I was able to stop using every little thing to define myself. Here's the way it sounded in my head,

"Am I the kind of girl that enjoys shooting guns because I want to appear bad-ass to the men in my life? If that is the case, why should it be about how they perceive me rather than what I actually enjoy doing? And what the hell do I actually enjoy doing, after all? Will the other females think I am doing this to just get attention? Am I doing this to get attention? Is that bad? Why is that bad?"


"Am I the kind of girl that won't be interested in firearms because perhaps the men around me will find it emasculating? Should I pretend to be weak and coquettish? Wait, AM I weak and coquettish? Am I even open to the possibility that I could be weak and coquettish? Is it the worst thing in the world to be weak and need saving. Perhaps if I could actually entertain the notion that I was actually weak, then I would find that I wasn't and was just afraid that I would be so it was making it so much worse. Perhaps I could then save myself? But would a man want me if I saved myself?"


"I'd like to explore shooting more. I think I started liking because it's a natural curiosity born from being a cop's daughter. Also, I am a voracious learner and enjoy the intimacy of sharing else's hobbies. I'll spend time with this person who can educate me on how to shoot AND enjoy myself in the process. I will be concerned only with what I think of myself and not drown that voice out with the PERCEIVED opinions that others have about me. Also, I like guns because I DO feel empowered, bad-ass, and sexy."

Yes. I vote for the third option.

But let me tell you, all of this filtering takes an awful lot of work. Many find it an exhausting trait in me; many find it an inspiration. This is not important, and truthfully, I wish I didn't know either way, for everyone is easily-influenced to some degree...and I don't want to be doing it for anyone else but me.

So let's try this:

Hi, I'm Candace.
I like to wear black.
I love books.
I like to watch willow trees and deer.
I like to shoot guns.
I like to bake and create with my hands.
I dislike wearing pink.
I do not like trends.
I distrust groups.
I love to learn.
I like to cry.
I must put everything under a microscope before I can really know it.
I prefer authenticity to politeness.
I'm uncomfortable in short skirts unless I wear tights.
I am modest and introverted.
I'm confident.
I'm smart.
I dislike mixers in my cocktails.
I'm a good friend.
I'm okay with someone disagreeing about the above.
I'm okay with liking someone more than they like me.
I'm okay with not liking someone as much as they like me.
I love my life with Joel.
I am easily irritable and cranky in the morning.
I am forever a student and a damn-fine teacher.
I prefer classic literature.
I love babies.
I love quiet.
I love change.

And there you have it. CRM version 9.15.09. This is by no means an exhaustive definition of Candace. Perhaps tomorrow she'll will learn to love brussel sprouts and all of a sudden despise Prada (GOD FORBID!).

But it really does not matter.
Candace is so much more than what she does or does not like.
And so are you.



September 11, 2009 Candace Morris 8 Comments

Ahem...I stand corrected...it turns out that real women not only make Lemon Meringue pies, but they shoot guns. It's been quite a week of maturation! Now I have OF COURSE shot guns before, but never a hand gun. Oh the power...

Since I'll be moving to the country (more to come on that later for those of you who didn't know yet) in about two weeks, I thought it would be appropriate to play with other people's guns while here on vacation with my bff and her hubby.

From RDD Visit Sept 2009

From RDD Visit Sept 2009

From RDD Visit Sept 2009

So freaking much fun,


Upon me becoming an official woman and other adventures in the kitchen

September 07, 2009 Candace Morris 9 Comments

From On becoming a real woman

I finally did it! I made a Lemon Meringue pie yesterday WITH kids underfoot. I don't really know why I have decided to place the crux of womanhood upon the making of a pie (a pie I don't actually care too much for nonetheless) and not upon the ripening of my reproductive organs (EWW) or on, I don't know, paying a credit card off or getting married or something like that. Nope, it's all dependent on my ability to whip egg whites into stiff peaks.



So, I am glad to announce that I am an official female, just in case there were any doubts out there.

From On becoming a real woman
Here's the lemon and (premade*) crust

From On becoming a real woman
This particular recipe called for zest in the filling...a perfect addition

From On becoming a real woman

The premeasured ingredients;
I love doing this and highly recommend it when trying a new recipe

From On becoming a real woman
Whisking up the filling...

From On becoming a real woman
Pouring the filling into the crust

From On becoming a real woman
Whipping up the egg whites to make meraninge. It was an awesome experience, but I have decided that it's way too much work for something I don't enjoy eating that much. I refused to use the mixer to do this...does this earn me extra points or just make me insane?

From On becoming a real woman
The pre-browned merangie

From On becoming a real woman

Isn't it gorgeous?

So, how do I look? Totally like a grown up?
Yeah, I thought so.


*Some might postulate that real womanhood does not begin until one can make their own pie crust. I've tried it and have decided that it's DUMB.


It's a hard life...

September 05, 2009 Candace Morris 1 Comments