Home Remodel

Smeared

The smears are a pretty common occurrence.

Slivers of chocolate fall from a crinkled piece of plastic holding my breakfast onto my pants. Oats and nuts crumble and the binding cocoa leaves little trails on my hands and my jeans as I drive in to work. If I move fast enough, I can lick up the evidence.

If not, like most mornings, I walk into the office with a little chocolate stain on my jacket or dark denim pants. Does breakfast count if it’s covered in chocolate? I like to think so. KIND bars probably does too.

I’ve been thinking about those smears and the lingering they represent. How a messy  bite of joy on a busy morning lingers, integrating itself into the fabric of my clothes, the upholstery in my car, and at times my husbands jacket as I reach to correct his uneven coat collar from the passenger seat.

Sure, we could look and just see a stain. A nuisance, a frustrating something I’ll have to clean again. Yet, the frequency of the marks have turned into something for me to ponder. I don’t want to live without the marks of joy for we move along to the next thing fast enough.

I woke this morning feeling sad. My gremlin arrived yesterday, hopping from granite counter top to the new ceramic backsplash my father-in-law so lovingly installed in our kitchen. With each application of gray, wet grout, the little grief monster bounced and caused me to remember, “Yes, here we go again. Making progress without him.”

Just before, we had removed the spacers placed to hold it all together. I took a metal trowel in my hand, dipping over and over again into the sludge of prepared cement and smeared the wet to fill in the intentionally designed gaps.

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Photo by Paweł Czerwiński on Unsplash

Every time the trowel met the wall, my little grief monster bounced, calling me to remember, “Yes, here we go again. Making progress without him.”

When my in-laws left, I sat at the kitchen table looking at our project. Taking a deep breath I mumbled to my husband across the room, “These projects sure make me miss him.”

A few tears fell, smearing day-old mascara around my tired eyes.

The pigment left dribbles on my cheeks as they fell, once again, onto my jeans. Another perceived stain on skin and fabric meant to be cleaned up. I stood and stepped up soft stairs and went about writing an ordinary grocery list.

There are smears – of joy, of sadness, of instant gratitude in the crinkling requirements of life. I’ve used my fingers to caress away, wipe, and lick at the morsels that fall. There will always be something to clean.

What if we let the smear stay a little longer and ask ourselves to move a little slower? What could happen then?

I’m thankful for the beauty of chunks of dark chocolate mixing with fruit and nuts. Beauty in tired mascara as it meets salty tears. Beauty in remembering and the smear of anticipatory emotion. Beauty in the ache of wishing he, too, could use his artisan hands to create in my house. We took cement and smeared it over the kitchen sink where he broke a wine glass the last time we had dinner together.

The smears set. They are radiating beauty. Come on over to my kitchen. I’ll show you what I’m talking about.

September Favorite Things – 2019

Fall is upon us and the cooler mornings tease me as 90 degree days follow.

It is still too hot for my fall sweaters. The cozy clothes can wait in my closet and I’ll wait, refusing a pumpkin spice latte for a few weeks more. Here’s what I’m loving this month.

  1. Bursts of Brilliance for a Creative Life by Teresa R. Funke


My mentor and friend has a new book out this fall and I’m thrilled to be on her team as she inspires ordinary people like me to embrace and honor our creative selves. The e-book is now available and the paperback will be launched later this month. Learn more about Teresa and her other titles here.

2. Bring me a cannoli


These are my husbands favorite birthday treat and we had a friend make hundreds for our wedding. Our 5th (!) anniversary is this month and I’ll eat one or two to celebrate. If you’re feeling ambitious – these shells are fun to fill with creamy ricotta and chocolate chips.

3. Annie Sloan chalk paint

We’ve been re-doing our cabinets and while my kitchen is a mess and all the spices are exposed, this chalk paint is saving us from hours of sanding dark cherry stain.

4. Big Little Lies

I know I’m behind and just finished Season One on HBO. The editing! The music! The suspense! Perhaps I should read the book.

5. Zucchini

I’m still rooting for the zucchini blossoming in our backyard. As the slow crop grows, I’ve been stocking up at the farmers market and spiralizing, turning into muffins, and sautéing with goat cheese. Summer veggies won’t last much longer.

What are you excited about this month?