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Category: The Retreat

Cleaning out the closets of the mind

When I moved into this house, nearly 18 months ago now, I didn’t have time to do it right. So many urgent things had to be done — and I’m talking bleach-the-mold-off-the-walls urgent, rip-entire-walls-out urgent, tear-off-rotted-rooms urgent — that many niceties got neglected. Boxes went unpacked. Stuff got stuffed … wherever.

Besides, after having lived small for 10 years (between Cabin Sweet Cabin and that crumbling fifth-wheel in the desert), I had just spent the previous three years in house with an attic, a basement, and a garage. This house … not so much.

Then there was the teeny, tiny problem of closets. This place had not a single one. Not. One. Closet.

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After being so rudely interrupted

… by WordPress eating the last third of this morning’s blog, I thought I’d quickly check back in for a little catching up. It’s definitely looking more and more like batten-down-the-hatches time for tomorrow. Aside from winds gusting into the 70s and 80s, it’s wet, wet, wet and about to get wetter. This afternoon I took a drive outside of town and at high tide (we’re heavy on salt marsh and tidal estuary hereabouts) the water was already only inches from rising over the roadway. By tomorrow’s high tides, things could get messy. The windows of my house overlook a…

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Dispatches from the Hermitage

It’s been howling and pouring for the last two days — and now the weather folks are telling us the news: a big blow is coming! (That news story is California-centric, but its map is not.) We’ve been having this-and-that warnings all week. High surf warnings. Travel advisories. High-wind warnings. At one point the Seattle area was under 14 different warnings at the same time. Portland, about the same. The pineapple express, usually semi-rare, has been running on a regular schedule this season. Even with the big storm less than 24 hours out, meteorological models are still arguing with each…

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Sunday musings

Yeah, as jed mentioned in a comment, it’s definitely been too quiet around here. I hope that means everybody’s having a relaxed, peaceful Thanksgiving weekend.

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Tomorrow is the hump day in my two-month retreat. Mixed results so far. I’m glad I’m doing it, but instead of peacefulness, I’m actually feeling quite a lot of stress and anxiety. Partly that’s over decisions I need to make. Mostly it’s just a lot of “old stuff” coming back on me. Really, really old stuff. Like things I thought I’d moved past years ago.

Boring to go into, but I find myself longing for busy-ness.

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It doesn’t help that the only real heater in the house has gone out twice in the last two weeks. Both times in the middle of the night. When the temps outside have been in the low 20s. And on weekends. I swear, it’s a conspiracy.

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Knitting for the soul

Don’t be put off by the word “knitting.” Even if you’re not crafty (and I’m not!), even if you’re a guy who’d rather build a brick wall or try for a perfect grouping with your best rifle than (heaven forbid) knit. This is about that process common to so many things.

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You know how you sometimes open a book at random looking for guidance? For some it’s the bible. For somebody else, one of those Chicken Soup things. Could be Ayn Rand or Herman Hesse. But you hope if you just open and read there’ll be a message there, just waiting for you?

I have to laugh. I just picked up Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, not because I had real interest but because it’s one of those must-read books and this is a good time. I opened near the end to a chapter about self care and the art of just being still and listening.

Then I took my old copy of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience off the shelf and arbitrarily opened to a page that heralded the value of 16-hour workdays, but with the work so integrated with free time that you can barely distinguish one from the other.

Yup. And of the contradictory two, I must admit the latter appeals to me more than the former. Not, mind you, because I’m some virtuous workaholic. Far from it. I favor the latter because the former is harder.

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Maunderings from the deep freeze

So … how are y’all enjoying the deep freeze? Seems as if it’s settling in to stay, doesn’t it? We’re just on the edge of it here in the North(currently not so)Wet — cozy compared with some of you. But it’s clear and cold and fiercely windy and I’m ready to stay indoors surrounded by space heaters. Wonder if I could teach the dogs to use the toilet? Or just encourage them to go walk in the woods by themselves? —– Though I’m still having not much darned luck with “listening to silence” (e.g. sitting meditation), this week has felt…

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“The veil between the worlds is thin tonight.”

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“The veil between the worlds is thin tonight.”

Or actually last Friday night. So they say. Of course, in all kinds of traditions including nominally Christian ones, the veil between worlds is reputed to be thin from All Hallows Eve to All Souls Day.

You couldn’t prove it by me. The veil (if any) between worlds (if any) remained its usual cement-thick self.

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