The last few weeks have been pretty intense. Sickness, heavy schedules to manage, deadlines to meet, presentations to give, paintings to complete and ship out… I’ve been overloaded.
Last week, though, I decided to step away from my “responsibilities” for a few hours and work with my oldest kiddo to make a new birdhouse/birdfeeder.
She created the designs for the outside and made the primary choices for how the finished house would look. We talked about how birds would access the house, where food would be, and how we would like to be able to see the ornithological engagement from the comfort of our living room.
Next came the fabrication. I handled the big saw cutting to assure the pieces were proper size, and then I cut the angles for the pentagonal house to fit together. Miranda did some of the chop saw work and she absolutely doing the gluing and brad gunning. She wanted to get her very own brad gun (Alison said no)!
After everything was settled and we gave it a night to dry, we put it in place. It’s an epic birdhouse/feeder combo just right for the Ballou Homestead.
I am sure we’ll get some great bird visitors over to Miranda’s construction soon – maybe even a couple will stay. In any case, however, I know it was a few hours better spent in making memories and helping Miranda grow more confident with ideas, creativity, and tool use than it would have been in filling out forms or doing some administrative task.
I love how my birth announcement directly contradicts scripture:
I also enjoy how mystified my dad appears in this picture with me from those early days of my life. I have many times felt the way he appears to feel in this picture… I guess I feel this way more and more now. When this picture was taken my dad was almost exactly the age I am now. Strange perspective.
This year has probably been the most strange, hard, and upheaval-filled since I got married a decade ago. I’m not sure what to say. I have seen and done amazing things in just the last 6 months. But I’ve also been shown my limits and frailties in so many ways. Here’s hoping for a year of becoming a better husband, dad, teacher, artist, and friend. God knows I could use some remediation on all of these things.
I have been savoring a couple things from my experience on the Great Wall.
I’ll keep it short and sweet.
First: the reality of the timeliness of the past is so huge. Here, as we walked, we continued the erosion on these steps that many millions of feet have touched. All of those lives, those hopes and dreams and desires and mistakes and glories… we got to step into a past that no longer is yet “didn’t go anywhere” (to quote Utah Phillips).
Second: the awareness of the present is a calibrator of deep meaning. In spite of my awe at the Wall, at being in China, of adopting, and of doing many other incredible things, I think my most cherished thing from being on the Great Wall was carrying Miranda up it and back down it. We talked about it today. We will continue to. It’s something much bigger to me now than I could have realized. But I was on top of it as it happened, realizing the importance with each step. I expect it will be one of the greatest memories of my life, and I love that it came so close to CaiQun joining our family.