Saturday, October 19, 2013

Limbo

The feeling I knew (in theory) to expect flooded over me as I lay in the white bed in the big bedroom in our new apartment last night.

Loss.

I had wondered why I had not felt worse, packing up the terrace and the Brooklyn apartment. My feeling then, was: I am done. I am ready to go. I had seen this new Harlem place at 2pm, in streaming autumn sunlight. It is one of the three hours of direct and moving sunshine that the southern, terrace side receives. I had not, then, woken in the gloomy mornings - two tall buildings sandwich this townhouse east and west, and, inside, the apartment looks long and dark, even if the sky is crystal blue. I had not heard the creaking footsteps walking back and forth on the next floor overhead, I had not walked like a stranger on streets where I do not fit as easily and naturally as I did the streets of Cobble Hill. I had not realized, then, that my full sun garden-in-pots cannot thrive on this bigger terrace, which dictates a garden designed for shade. I had not wanted to step out onto the new terrace in the morning, wearing nothing but a bathrobe, with a cup of coffee, only to realize that I could not do so without my movements being subject to scrutiny.

I mean, I knew all that in theory. Practise is always something else. And I know that everything will get better. Inch by inch and piece by piece.

But last night I felt lost, homeless, bereft. And when Vince woke in the night with a sharp coughing fit I leaped awake from a dream of swimming easily in deep seas, ready to perform a Heimlich, thinking in the panic of half-sleep, if I lose you now, I have nothing. I have lost the terrace. My sunny morning home. And I am afraid I will lose the desire to write this blog daily. I am rudderless. I have been living with something for many years, and am just now coming to terms with what it meant to me and what it did for me.

This morning, in bed, the Frenchman brought me breakfast on a tray - the banana bread I made last night, and coffee. An old weekend ritual. I had nothing to read, all the books are still packed, so he brought me a copy of my own book, which was at hand. I have not really read it since it was published. I started in January. I ended in April. And it settled me down. I did a good job. I like it. It is the book I wrote for myself. About this city, about the seasons, about that improbable little terrace that helped steer me. I wrote about paying attention to the details.

Now, the details threaten to overwhelm me.

Taken one by one, one bathroom cabinet, one kilim, one chair at a time - perhaps order can be restored. To that end we visited Ikea in New Jersey, Zipcarring out and back in (with guilty bags of frozen Swedish meatballs at our feet) to come to a red-light halt on 125th Street, near the Hudson River Fairway, where first a sprinting young man, and then two sprinting policemen crossed in front of us. I've never seen a New York cop run, before. Didn't know they could. These could. Four more cops joined the chase (tailed by a really fat one, lumbering in the rear), which split in the intersection as another runner dodged across the choked traffic. One running cop now had a drawn weapon. I felt like a coconut at a funfair, and slid down in my seat. One of the kids surrendered and was cuffed without incident, the other was prone, being told shut the eff up, surrounded by uniforms.

We drove by, turned up north, just ahead of The Apollo Theater, east a little, down brownstoned streets where locust trees have turned yellow, past the truck I have noted before, that sells large bunches of good-looking kale and branches of broccoli, then around, and down our tree lined street, and we were home.

It will be home. One day.


80 comments:

  1. Hopefully it will become home. But if not, you might still find something that better suits you and your garden. A trellis or arbor may give you some of the outdoor privacy you are missing.

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    1. I am acutely aware that I cannot whine forever. Who wants to read constant complaint and self pity? Not I. The arbor/trellis is a good idea, long term - but the downside is it would be even more shady, then. I feel like the garden designer is being given a taste of her own medicine!

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    1. Thank you, Elaine. I promise not to draw it out too long.

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  3. Hedges! in pots! I think the new butcher is a great plus, and getting away from the most obnoxious landlord in living memory is even better. I'm still wondering what you're going to rename your blog. I think you're monumentally brave and wonderfully disciplined. What an amazing year, really.

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    1. I am beginning to like the hedge idea. But the built-in wooden planters that ring the deck (they are about 3' higher than the deck, and form the parapet, in a sense) are quite narrow: 9" across, max., but deep. Not good hedge material. Argh. I'll figure it out. Part of me is secretly relishing the thought of hydrangeas, in pots, lower down. I'll be looking into some natives, too - ferns, dicentra - I wish Japanese forest grass were native, I may have to have some. And hardy begonias - the un-stiff, natural-looking ones. I just wish there was a semi shade shrub that bloomed as often as a rose...

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    2. You could easily grow a fastigate boxwood in those planters -- does well in shade and smells great. I have some in a very shady foundation planting that are less than a foot across and I keep them pruned to about 3'. Over a decade old, healthy and vigorous but only need pruning once/year. I think it is buxus sempervirens 'Graham Blandy but it has been a longtime! I would be happy to send you as many cuttings as you need. I rooted about a dozen last year. Easy to root. I am in a zone 5 area.

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    3. Very few people think boxwood smells great. Fastigiate yew is beautiful, pricy, though. Hydrangeas is a great idea! Don't forget the viburnums, sambucus, calycanthus!!

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  4. I think the thing about you is that you are an explorer. That's a great advantage. You will find wonderfulness in your new environment. New kinds of foods, new streets, new faces, new experiences. Not sure why you are self conscience sitting on your balcony drinking your coffee reading your books. Maybe they will get bored after the novelty of seeing a new person, you, and go back to their own business. After all, maybe no one actually spent anytime on that balcony before you.

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    1. In a sense I don't mind being on a stage - but I haven't figured out the vibe, yet, and there is something curious about the building opposite: men only, and they all eat together , but not socially, at an institutional hour. I shall inquire. And yes, once we have more time to look around us, I really look forward to the new places, new food.

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  5. Marie, you are making me sad. In fact, I am almost about to cry, as I understand your feeling of loss and displacement. But, hard as it may be to remember right now, things will get better from here on. You will get used to the new environment and begin to feel the loss of the sunny terrace less intensely. What is more, you don't have to stay where you are forever; you can move elsewhere if, after a time, you find that that is what you want to do. In the meantime, know that there are many of us out there rooting for you.

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    1. Sorry - and thank you. And I know. There will be another move, a big one, in the next few years, and given this one's emotional fallout, it's daunting! I have been thinking about refugees, real ones, who own nothing but a box. if that. No home, no routine, no sense of future or certainty. And the awfulness of having to flee one's home. I wax melodramatic, of course, but when I think of my own - privileged - sense of limbo, I realize, just to a fraction, what loss really may mean to people who have had to leave everything and who have no power over their daily lives' course.

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  6. The hell with scrutiny...you're in Harlem! Put on a show. That's what I'd do, to the cringing embarrassment of my poor hubby.

    Having said that, I know the feeling, we moved from Chicago to Las Vegas, for God's sake. Talk about (lack of) culture shock.

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  7. Beautifully written. As always. Hang in there and it will happen.

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    1. Thank you, Mike. My Achilles Heel is impatience. Wanting everything to be right, at once.

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  8. Change is hard. Whether it be forced because of circumstances or by choice, change is hard. A time for grieving the loss and a time for learning the new and then everything settles in. Women like you can make anywhere a home. Give yourself time.

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    1. Vince insists I deal poorly with change. Bite its head off first, then ask questions :-)

      Thank you.

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  9. I was thinking about how I feel when I move... I take pleasure in my things - books, sheets, pots and pans... but with all that you are doing I know unpacking has been delayed. Finding the right spot for all your bits and pieces will help... but as for your sun-needing plants. Ughhh... that has to be very hard. But please, Marie, keep blogging, even if you need breaks. Your blog is such a joy to read each day. It inspires me to make my life more beautiful. I'm sure most of your readers feel exactly the same way. Of course, I have your book to delve into too. :)

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    1. ...b-b-b-b-but (trembling lip) I don't know where to PUT my books. Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!

      Thank you, G - x

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  10. I forgot to say your Swedish Meatballs are far better than Ikea's. I donated your recipe to my grandson's elementary school cookbook (with credit to you) and send many thanks for the inspiration.

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    1. thank you Betsy - I like mine, too. But sometimes one has to be bad.

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  11. It will get better Marie. Knowing it in your head and healing your heart are two completely different things.
    I've moved ten times in as many years. Friends and family help, purring kitties in your lap help, and immersing yourself in things you love help. Moving a LIfe is huge. I'm sending you a virtual hug and want you to know how much I admire your willingness to show your vulnerability and hurting heart to any who will take the time to read. I want you to know that I will be sending healing thoughts your way. And if you need to take a break from blogging, well, I'll keep you in my favorites and check back from time to time. Take care Marie,.

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    1. Ten times in ten years?! You could give master classes. Seriously.

      Poor kitty. Knowing we're stressing him out doesn't help. He sits on the bed at night (has not in years) and just sits, upright, awake? Sleeps in the day. Like he has to be on guard, or something.

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  12. Having moved many dozens of times, 'home' kicks in when the books are unpacked & they yarn put up. I look forward to seeing what you chose to grow in your shade garden. Are there any sunny windows to put herbs in? A hedge sounds like a good idea.

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    1. "Many dozens of times..." How, why? Sounds like stories.

      There are two sunnnier spots, where the fig and blueberry are right now, and the poor herbs. Wondering about the strawberries.

      Shade, now that I have realized that it is what it is, will be fun. I can do shade. I like green, I like white. I just regret the roses...

      And does anyone want a black raspberry???

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  13. As you slowly and gradually get all of the familiar objects in their spots and put up your favorite paintings it will become more homey. Herbs in the window is a great idea! Oh and treat yourselves to fresh cut flowers once a week. They always brighten a day. Moving is very stressful, not just the physical labor part but the unfamiliarity of the new surroundings.

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  14. Things are hard at the moment but they won't stay this way forever. For now, maybe this out-of-left-field nugget can supply a bit of amusement: after living in NYC for more than 20 years, I have, too, been writing a blog - but in Hebrew - about life and food in NYC. I recently recommended your blog and wonderful book to my readers:
    http://www.lifeartfoodnyc.com/מדריך-ניו-יורק-ספר-בישול-עונתי-קלאסי-של/
    Thank you, Marie, for sharing some of your life and inspirations. Wherever you find yourself I wish you contentment, a few daily sunny hours for your plants, and hopefully joy to you all from your neighbors' music.

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    1. Thank you! It looks like such a nice blog. Can you enable Google Translate so that non-Hebrew -reading cretins like myself can read it? :-)

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    2. Marie, if you have Chrome you can right-click anywhere in her blog and ask Google to translate (I just did and you must read her review of your book!).

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  15. Tell me about loss! Here I am sat in an apartment (with a sizeable balcony) remembering the hundreds of old friends ( plants ) I left behind in my jungle like garden just two weeks ago. I am trying to look it as a challenge, when I get my huge paintings hung and some more things planted I will feel at home. The dog died just before our move, my friends are cranky with me for moving away, Oy! Keep on blogging Marie, we need you.

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    1. Jeepers. What happened?

      And I am very sorry about your dog...

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  16. I don't have to tell you to keep writing, because you will. Your writing is that good; and good writers always must write; they can't help themselves. A shade garden will be a new adventure which you will embrace next Spring. And who knows? You may find a teeny, tiny spot on your balcony which gets enough sun for your well-loved fig tree! I hope so. I wonder if there are any community garden spaces in Harlem. Look for them. Be good to yourself, buy fresh flowers, and cook up a storm! Thanks for being who you are.

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    1. ...thank you, Polly. Actually - there is a locked community garden just down the street. I don't know why it is locked, and it is all overgrown. You know I will have to investigate :-)

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  17. Your book is beautiful and you will take that delicious life with you wherever you go. Change is so hard, and the loss doesn't always hit us right away. You are right to sit with it and write about it.

    I shall tell the handy Norwegian about the Swedish meatballs from Ikea. He loves them too -- but not as good as his grandmother's, or yours, I'm sure.

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    1. Thank you, Judith - we will sample those meatballs tonight...I don't know. Sure we will go straight to gustatory hell.

      Here are mine, based on memories of Swedish meatballs, Internet recipes, and ever-present hunger: http://66squarefeetfood.blogspot.com/2010/12/swedish-meatballs.html

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  18. I would like to take you out for a drink and some chicken liver at Fort Defiance...love your blog, Debra

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    1. SOB!

      You know how to push my buttons :-)

      And thank you.

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  19. I understand the unsettled-ness of the cat, which in turn is unsettling for you (occasionally I wake in the night and find I have two sitting sentries on the bed, like salt and pepper pots - I know not why).
    Of course you will have won some, and lost some, which is the same in all change of circumstance. Imagine yourself in three months time - will you yearn for your 66 square feet (with attendant eye-watering rent) or will you have settled with your man and your cat and your plants into your Harlem groove? I know which my money is on.
    Keep blogging - it is therapeutic, I am sure.

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  20. Such a sad post. I had wondered at your lack of lamentation for the loss of your lovely little terrace.

    It was there, just waiting for a quiet moment...

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  21. Ah sweetheart,of course you are sad. You made a wonderful life for yourself, a world famous cat and then a husband in that flat. And got yourself a book out of that little kitchen, 66 square feet of terrace and that creative mind of yours.

    I was sad as hell in February/ March and April. Then day by day I got happier and stronger.

    You will too, and i bet it won't take you months. But even if it does, the end will still be worth celebrating.

    Be kind to yourself. And write about however you are feeling. Sharing helps so much and you have so many people who love you and will shoulder the grief.

    Can you paint the walls some interesting colors to make the rooms come alive? And have you looked on Craigslist for bookshelves?

    Enjoy your meatballs.

    xo Jane

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  22. Oh and get some flowers in that house for Monday, you hear?

    xo J

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  23. Marie: I feel for you but everything will get better. I moved 9 years ago to a shade garden from a bright sunny one. We had vegetables a plenty, now the best crops are lettuce of all varieties, peppers and beans. I've had to find new shade flowers but we have learned to cope and the house is roomier and closer to amenities.

    I recently bought your book and read it from cover to cover. It is beautiful and gives me longing for NYC and SA two places I love. Can't wait to get into some of the recipes. I would also love to go out foraging, especially for mushrooms!

    The cat will adapt, I had a wonderful cat named Fritz who took awhile to adapt but then became the pest of the neighborhood.

    Margot in Toronto

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  24. Oh, Marie, it is a sad post, but so beautifully written. Please don't stop writing. You obviously have a gift for it and your readers would miss it terribly, but so would you, I imagine. You moved at a time when the light is so low in the sky and the days getting shorter, which certainly doesn't help on the sadness front. It will be better come spring and summer, though different. All most of us can offer is some virtual comfort and as you can see you've got lots of that coming your way. I add mine to the mix.

    Nancy Mc

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  25. Oh, Marie, I really feel for you right now. I really feel your sorrow. 6 years ago my daughter and I had to move because the apartment we were living in was about to be sold. We found a new and bigger apartment. I can really empathize with what you are going through - after the few days of moving everything in, everything began to settle and I felt such a depth of loss; our apartment opened out onto a huge garden. It sounds beautiful, but I felt so on display. I missed our quiet, teeny-tiny living room that looked out onto a backyard of trees with all the privacy that goes along with it. I missed all the sounds, smells, and movement of our cozy neighborhood. I felt that I had made a terrible mistake and would silently cry each and every night for a week after my daughter went to bed. I just let myself feel it all ...and then something amazing happened...things began to shift for me and I slowly began to like our apartment. The upshot of this is that I now, after 6 years, am so fond of our apt. Things may just turn around for you, also. Just give it more time - and it's o.k. to let yourself mourn the loss of your beloved terrace. Wishing you all the best, Marie. -Beth T.

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  26. I would love a black raspberry ... but the distance is great between Brooklyn and Beaver.
    We are planting blacberries and blueberries in hopes of proving to others what a perfect area we live in to grow berries. There are few people growing food here. We've plentiful clean water,and 6 feet of dark sandy loan. It just doesn't' make sense why no ones giving it a try. So, if your ebony jewel longs for a big move of it's own, it'd be our pleasure to nurture it.

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    1. Sounds like an excellent project, Sue. I think the raspberry will have to move somewhere local :-)

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  27. I once created a beautiful little garden on a very bland suburban lot in a sea of new construction. Iris. Peonies. Lemon balm. Currants and gooseberry bushes. Salvias. Roses- old garden, tea, shrub, all fragrant. More herbs. Fruit trees. It was May of the second year- the days were warm and the apple trees were in flower and buds were on everything. My husband mowed the lawn on that 80 degree day.

    A storm came in from the north. A snowstorm. An icy finger of death froze that garden in time, never to bloom that season. No fruit. No flowers. It was over for the season.

    It ached. I mourned my plants. I lost heart and declared like a petulant child that I was done with gardening. To hell with it all, I was planting juniper shrubs (those prickly hateful things that endure).

    When things are not going as planned and I feel like quitting, I call it "a juniper mood".

    It passed. I returned to gardening, faith that the next season would eventually arrive. It did- so many jars of currant jelly the following season.

    More moves, more gardens. The desert southwest is a challenge. A few treasured plants that do not belong in the dry heat are coddled in pots on the porch while new favorites (chocolate flower) thrive in the yard.

    Moving is tiresome. But I get the feeling you are quite determined to create beautiful gardens and this passing "juniper mood" will hopefully be followed by a new garden lovely in its own way.

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    1. That is a good story, Ninobi.

      I hate those low prickly junipers, too!

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  28. Oh dear... of course we all know that moving can be distressing and stressful - we leave behind all things familiar and find ourselves in a new place and neighborhood. We've all had this experience and though it may seem daunting in every way, I'm quite sure all will become familiar and comfortable, and you will come to enjoy, feel settled and at home in your new place. Give it a bit of time, make the new apartment your own and give that new planting area some serious thought for possibilities.

    However, don't stop writing your blog or posting photos - it's necessary and we need it too.

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  29. Moving is TERRIBLE. Don't stop writing Marie, even if it turns into a long whinge, I'll lap it up. And nothing is forever - not good times nor bad, and if this turns into a bad decision, you can always change.
    Hang in there!

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  30. I am sure that within a short time you will begin to see your house and your terrace with fresh eyes and quickly will transform this house, which now seem a stranger, a real home :)
    What are you feeling right now is called saudade in Portuguese ...
    Um abraço from the other side of the ocean

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    1. That is a good word, kokliko. I looked it up. Is that the word in the song that Cesaria Evora sings?

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    2. yes it is :) Here in Portugal we have a type of music called fado, that talk about this longing and nostalgia that say that so well characterizes portuguese people.
      A singer best known was Amália Rodrigues, presently we have Ana Moura, Mariza, Carminho ... I hope you like ;)
      Beijos

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  31. GingerTeaWithHoneyOctober 20, 2013 at 7:32 AM

    What about tall bamboo in the planters (but only if you'd find their soft sighing in the wind pleasant) and a strategic tree (silver birch or perhaps rowan for the lovely leaf patterns against the sky) in big-as-possible containers? Well-weighted plastic dustbins (think bricks in the bottom!) can work well. You have the skills. If I'd got here earlier (I'm on UK time) I'd have said many of the things others said so well. Hang in there. I hope it helps that you brighten the days of so many.

    Love,
    Alison xx

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    1. I have seriously considered bamboo - not something I would ordinarily plant, but the planters are not big enough. We'll figure something out :-)

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  32. Come back to Cobble Hill! The top apartment between John's two buildings is still empty. We want you, Estorbo and the Frenchman back!

    Coco

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  33. Wishing I could do something to help. Remember that the sun is already low in the south, so it's possible that you will have more sun in the spring and summer when it's higher. You may have to settle for shorter season blooms. (Check with David Austin to see if they have a rose that needs less light, maybe?)

    Suspect that Don Estorbo will improve, perhaps as you do. He may sense your unease, too. But go ahead and wallow in it for a little bit. That helps, too. Virtual hug.

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    1. I'd prefer not to wallow, as it is boring for everyone. But from a purely clinical point of view, it is interesting. The real deal, I think as far as depression goes, and very light-related. Yes, I look forward to a higher sun. Mornings are awful.

      I know I have lot to be thankful for, and will be kicking myself in the butt from time to time.

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  35. I think this terrasse is saying to you that you have a new challenge ahead, professsional and private. so if the opportunity is in your life, it means you were and are ready for it. Haut les coeurs!

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  36. Dear Marie- I almost wrote immediately, but then decided to read others' comments- Most has already been said. We blog followers who follow someone religiously do so for various reasons, of course. For me, I can live a little vicariously through your ever-so-eloquent writing, listen to my stomach grumble through your "delicious Life", and dream about the city life that seems intangible since my Aunt died (she lived on W 23rd St for the last 30 yrs of her life)- Since life is ALWAYS in change and flux, please know that we want to hear about the Strum and Drang of it, as well as the beautiful. It is all as it should be, and all good. Thanks ever so much for your reflections! Hugs to Storbie-

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  37. Ek het 'n fantastiese boek gekoop vandag: Die Oorlog Kom Huis Toe... oor vrouens en gesinne in die boere oorlog. Met wonderlike ou fotos. Iewers in ons is daar van daai bloed. I'm sure of it. Sterkte nê!!

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    1. Hm, ek wil dit ook lees. Ek dink al die Viljoen broers behalwe my oupa (my pa se pa, hy was glo 'n laatlammetjie in 'n gesin van 13 seuns - arme ma) het kommando gery. At least that is what I recall being told. Prisoners of war, and so on. Curious about their wives. I don't know enough.

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  38. Everyone has said it more eloquently that I could...all I can add it please continue writing your blog I would miss you more than you can know, and Estrobo and the Frenchman. Dark in the morning is hard...we're at that time of year in Seattle where it's still dark until around 7:30am and is only light for an hour or two in the evening. By December is will be dark when I go to work and dark when I come (around 4:00 pm). And then there's the overcast.....think cozy and warm and snuggly!

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  39. Over the course of years and several moves I find it takes about a year to finally settle in.....the light will be difficult, but you will adapt.....but the creepy men across the street....hmmmm....investigations are in order. Also...maybe Vince could go out on the terrace and act territorial about his castle and wife ;-)

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    1. After I checked out the address, the place across from the terrace seems to be this, a homeless shelter. It raises a lot of social questions: http://www.palladiainc.org/Public/default.aspx?Housing=337

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    2. Yes,,,it does....there is a drug rehab place just down the street from the school I work at...and the building we are in also houses a program for the mentally ill....Give Harlem the old college try...you can always go back to Brooklyn.....When my 3 sons lived at hiome we ate a lot of those Ikea meatballs...fast and filling!! Be well.be kind to yourself...

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  40. Please don't stop writing the blog. Reading it is one of life's pleasures. I have bought your book, and I will begin with January when we get there.

    I'm sure you can grow some wonderful things on the terrace even if the light is not that great. Begonias, Hostas, Huecheras and Caladiums all do well in the shady parts of my terrace, and they are very nice. Try them, if the rest of your garden is not doing well in the shade. And don't worry, it will all work out.

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  41. Marie,
    I understand how you will, I have moved many times, from country, continent and all, I have moved from Cuba to the USA and now I am in Spain , I am sure you will make the place your own and if not you can always move again until you find that special place where you can be happy, I also need the morning sun and the light , one of the things I love the most about Spain is the beautiful light we have almost all year round, I only have a balcony and 3 hours of direct sunlight but a lot of light , can´t have many plants but try to be happy with the ones that can survive, I have a poor rose suffering but that still gives me some blooms :). Shade plants are beautiful too , I have learn to love them. I hope you can be happy soon and can write again . I love your blog and hope it will be here for years . Kisses Roberto

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    1. Hi Marie. I can totally understand why you would be uncomfortable hanging out on your new terrace with the eyes of the all male shelter above you - I would be too. Are there specific times in the day/evening that they sit and eat together? If so, maybe you can time your visits to the terrace to avoid that. Hang in there, Marie, and know that we (your loving fans and followers) are here for you and rooting for you all the way.
      - Lisa

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  42. I enjoy reading your blog-every day!
    I struggled with culture shock for almost 1 year when we moved from suburban California to rural Pennsylvania. I would wake up in the night and gaze out the windows and wonder where we had come to.
    I love where I live now.
    Give it time.

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  43. Ah Marie. Upheaval, bittersweet and temporarily all-consuming... I moved house 5 times in a 7 year period so I do understand. It was me, my daughter, two border collies, my mentor cat, a few bags of clothes, pots stuffed with cuttings/favourite plants and a dozen crates of books - once the books were unpacked, then it was home.
    We all feel the loss of your 66SF terrace too and we DO want to read about your new place, the new terrace, the new feelings, the problems, the solutions and the new adventures. (That locked community garden - I'd be donning my deerstalker right away!)
    Comfort yourself with bright and cheery interiors, (heart)warming autumn dishes and green garden designs - you'll soon create another beautiful haven to savour and delight in xx

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  44. Marie, we live in London (not ever on my list of places to live!). We brought what we could afford - not much but it had to have a garden. So we ended up one block away from a large council estate, with a north facing hanker-chief garden over looked by block of flats on one side. We the bottom half of 1850 old farm house with the proverbial irksome wooden floors. Ten years on, we have a beautiful garden adapted to a cold north side and I love it. We have planted a few trees for privacy in summer, peony's, ferns, camellia's, rhododendrons, roses, orchids, hosta's etc all grow happily side by side and thrive. Think of maybe putting up an overhead frame with a wisteria for privacy in summer then in winter it may look bare but with the leaves gone it allows the sun in and threaded with twinkling lights for romantic evenings. We have Wisteria floribunda alba, smells amazing.

    It will take time and eventually you tune out the over lookers, walk outside in skimpy pj's then remember and oops! I have yet to learn how to tune out the overhead noise but with a fan going or soft music playing this helps tremendously.

    Hope it feels like home soon, paint all the walls white and install a large mirror to bounce light it works, go buy the large dining room table and throw a party.

    Please don't stop writing - I look forward to the updates everyday.

    Lisa, London

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  45. This is very a beautifully, and sensitively written account of early grief. I feel honored to have somehow gotten wind of your blog a couple of years ago and to be able to read your process as it is happening. Yesterday, I went to my old apartment that I'd shared with my husband (we are separated) and all the potted plants and a rose tree I had put on our postage-stamped size terrace (inspired by your blog) had all died. They were beyond dead. I am so sad about it, but my new terrace in Oakland, California is bigger and sunnier, though this place has other, very depressing drawbacks for me. I feel so sad about those plants and that lovely rose bush I had planted that are now completely dead. But, I have a bunch of new container plants that I feel privileged to care for....and I look to your blog every day for little tips and inspirations on how to make my fledgling terrace finer. So, I hope you'll keep writing but I know that because you are a writer, you'll keep writing. Good luck on the new terrace with this new day today!

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  46. Moving just sucks- as does starting over. I've had to 'do it' several times and it never gets easier but it does get better. Hang in there Marie.

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  47. Marie, I went through a change just like your a couple of years ago when I went from a house with a very shady yard that I had gardened in for more than 20 years to a very sunny deck. I still have the urge to plant the lush foliage plants and subtlety of bloom I had learned to love, but am enjoying the hot sun I have always longed for. Change is good and always broadens our horizons..... enjoy the new experiences!

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  48. Inch by inch, row by row
    Gonna make this garden grow
    Gonna mulch it deep and low
    Gonna make it fertile ground

    Inch by inch, row by row
    Please bless these seeds I sow
    Please keep them safe below
    'Til the rain comes tumbling down

    Pullin' weeds and pickin' stones
    We are made of dreams and bones
    Need a place to call my own
    'Cause the time is close at hand

    Grain for grain, sun and rain
    Find my way in nature's chain
    Till my body and my brain
    Tell the music of the land

    Inch by inch, row by row
    Gonna make this garden grow
    Gonna mulch it deep and low
    Gonna make it fertile ground

    Plant your rows straight and long
    Season with a prayer and song
    Mother Earth will make you strong
    If you give her loving care

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