Friday, April 18, 2008


Childe Hassam
At this moment in time, 3:30 on a Friday afternoon, I sit at my computer table, composed of a wooden top affixed to the stand of an old Roberts brand treadle sewing machine. As I type, I gently move the treadle with my foot, as if I were actually sewing. I'm not sure if the rhythm of my typing creates the rhythm of the treadle, or vice versa.
I bought this table at an antique shop a few years ago. I was immediately entranced by its unique makeup and its top painted with white wisteria on a sage green background. It was never meant to be a computer desk, but now I wouldn't dream of using anything else.
As I look to the left I see the stone fireplace, made of rounded, river-polished rocks. Centered at the top of the fireplace opening is a Native American stone club, probably Lakota (Sioux). And probably a war club.
If I look to the right, I see the Gothic arch between my living and dining rooms. Beneath my feet are red oak hardwood floors. These three things, combined with the arched brick nook that holds my kitchen stove, are what prompted me to fall in love with, and buy, this house 26 years ago.
Like the one in Childe Hassam's painting, my living room is chock full of dark wooden furniture, little tables, a chintz-covered couch and chairs, books and more books. Some might call it cluttered, but nothing is out of place; everything is carefully positioned.
There are other treasures in my living and dining rooms: my precious Roseville, my mother-in-law's antique clock topped by the figurine of a Grecian woman, my beloved blue and white china.
As in Hassam's painting, the walls are crammed with pictures and paintings. No single color- coordinated picture above the couch for me! I consider my wall-to-wall picture style as English Style. The pictures include my Scottish castle oil painting, my print of the Washington Cathedral gardens, a large faux-oil dog painting above the fireplace, a Maxfield Parrish print, my bucolic English Lake District print, all combined with a couple of wildlife prints as a concession to the fact that my husband lives here too. (That shabby old recliner is his as well.)
There aren't any fresh flowers or plants at the moment, but there often are, most recently Easter lilies and daffodils.
In the kitchen, Gracie, my puppyish German short-haired pointer, is chowing down yet again. Penny, "The Big Red Dog", a golden retriever, sits patiently - oh so patiently - beside her ball, waiting for me to throw it outdoors. Every once in a while, if she is being ignored, she lets out a plaintive little groan.
I have left the patio door open on this glorious "finally-it's-spring" day. Through the doorway, I can see our giant American Elm's budding branches, which sweep down so gracefully over our deck. Though the dogs are free to go in and out as they please, they check on me frequently, worried that I might abandon them again, as I did earlier. Horrors, the thought that they might be left alone for an hour or two!
For once, I'm dressed up, in a nice pair of black slacks and black shoes, with a flowered top in magenta, tan and black. And for once I have put on earrings - magenta glass beads. I am dressed this way because I had a job interview at 1:00 p.m.
On my way back from the interview, I ran into a book lover's/rummage sale goer's dream: a rummage sale that was all books. I came away with seven books for $3.50. Afterward, feeling optimistic, I went to a Mexican restaurant for chicken fajitas, selecting one book to read while waiting for my meal.
Now, I type, with Oprah and Dr. Phil as background TV noise.
With these few paragraphs, did you get any sense of me as a person? The reason I ask - the reason I wrote this post - is that one of my book purchases today - the one I brought into the restaurant to read - was "Writing the World" by Kelly Cherry. In the book's prologue, Cherry does a similar point-in-time "exercise" about herself (she may not have considered it an exercise). I got a very good sense of her personality, so I thought I would give it a try too.
I didn't put a lot of time into this exercise - I wanted it to be off the cuff and spur of the moment.
Also, I was using it as a way to calm my nerves and pass the time until I heard the result of the interview.
At 4:45 PM:
P. S.: I just got the job. I'll be working in the continuing education department of our local state college. It is part time to begin with and hopefully it will become full time. I start Monday, so please pray for my success in this endeavor.
Also, please, PLEASE pray for rain here in Bismarck and all of North Dakota. We need it so badly.
We have had two grass fires this week WITHIN the Bismarck city limits. In my lifetime of living in North Dakota, I have seen prairie fires and river bottom fires. Three years ago, three area volunteer firefighters were, sadly, burned and/or otherwise injured when a prairie fire engulfed their fire truck. But I have never, ever, seen grass fires within the city limits.


Kim Campbell said...

CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!!! I am SO happy for you! YAY!

I love what you wrote and I connected with it right away. I have my gramma's antique sewing machine and table-treadle.

I could perfectly envision your home and I love what it soundsl ike and what it speaks of.

How lucky you are to find that gem of a rummage sale!!! That books sounds so cool and worth a hunt for my hubby and I, as we both like to write.

Bimbimbie said...

Blogger is playing up ... it just pinched my comment ;(

Congratulations Julie - Friday was your Day! A new job and bargain books to take home with you.

Give me organised clutter of books, paintings, pets and husband;) any day over those horrible cold sterile neat soul-less houses that don't invite you sit and linger but hug a wall in a straight jacket ;)

Wishing you lots of satisfaction and daily joy in your new job. Smiles*!*

Joyce said...

Oh CONGRATS on your new job!!! I am so excited for you.
I enjoyed the "visit" to your house too, thank you.

By they Mom "thinks" she is LAKOTA SOUIX...HA! That cracked me up when I read that.

I have been places with her when I am home and she tells people that her Grandfather who was Great grandfather and I remember him..he didn't die until I was 10 years old, was "Lakota Souix." Crazy.
For whatever the reason wants to be one. And she wants to be Scottish too. HA!

Anyway......have a great day on Monday!
Sorry I have been tied up here and haven't been able to e-mail you lately. I had an accident today.....can you believe this? Someone rear ended me. Ugh.
We need to move. HA!
Talk to you later.

Rowan said...

Congratulations on getting your new job Julie, hope you will be happy in your new workplace. I could easily 'see' you in your home, that was a well written piece. Lucky you to have nice spring weather, here it is cold,windy and grey. I hope you get your much needed rain very soon.xerukpu

Leanne said...

JUlie!! many many congratulations on the new job! ive been feeling down today, and that really cheered me up! I am so pleased for you.

I loved the glimpse around yuor home, mine would be judged as cluttered too, but its all treasure, and precious to me! We are back to a cold spell here, its been really cold, windy and wet, i'll send some of our rain!

leanne x

Sheila said...

Hi Julie,
if you didn't post today I was going to email you, to see what you were up to..!
I'm so happy that you got the job, Congratulations. I hope it is everything you want it to be.
Your writing about your home was wonderful. I read through it expecting to see the credit at the end of a known writer. It conjured up a vision of a 'home', somewhere well worn and well loved, where you could relax and feel at ease.
Loved it..!
Have a great weekend..

Casey said...

Congratulations on your new job! And I really enjoyed your "at this moment" telling of yourself. I may try it, too, in a quieter time when I've got the house to myself.

Lila Rostenberg said...

A lovely post. I could feel the cozy room and the afternoon of quiet contentment. The positive energy continued with the news of your new job!
Have a lovely weekend, I hope you get rain...prayers here.

smilnsigh said...

"I just got the job."

WONNNNNNNNNNDERFUL!!! And Yes, I am shouting!!! I'm so glad. I'm so glad. I'm so glad!!!!!!


GreenishLady said...

Well done on the job success!

Yes, I felt I got a great picture of you in your place from that piece of writing. I like that style. I felt like I was there, in fact!

Hope the job goes well, and the rains come.

Mary said...

Such fabulous news about the job Julie - I'm so very happy for you and hope it will turn out to be the perfect place for you. I know when they become familiar with your many talents it will become full time - meanwhile enjoy having a little more time for you!

This was an amazing post - such beautiful writing. I can now picture you and Dan, and the doggies, in that cozy space. Wow, Gothic arch, stone fireplace, brick and oak.......all natural textures and shapes, I would love your house too. Your collection of art is interesting and of course Childe Hassam has always been one of my favorite artists. When I lived in New England I would stand looking out to the Isles of Shoals where he spent his Summers painting all those wonderful rocky coastlines and the lighthouse keeper's gardens etc.

Again, congratulations and good luck for Monday. Wishing you rain - and some for us here too.
Hugs - Mary.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the well wishes. I loved your post. Your home sounds so warm and inviting. Congratulations on the new job.

Maggie said...

Hi Julie. Bravo, you did it, you got the new job. I hope it's the best ever experience for you.
Thanks for visiting my blog and leaving me a comment. I love meeting other bloggers and learning new things that inspire me.
The description of your cozy room made me feel as if I was sitting right there with you looking at all you treasures. My home is very small and I love everything about it. So much so that I do not like to be away from home for more than a few days at a time. I guess you could call me a home body.

LW said...

A new job, way to go....
Good luck tomorrow.

What a wonderful desk and your home sounds so lovely.


Colleen - the AmAzINg Mrs. B said...

I loved reading the words you wrote and went on to the previous posts as well. You are really a wonderful and gifted writer. I "see" all you have presented before us - thanks for the visit!
And congratulations on the new job! Sounds like one you'll be great at.

I'm sorry, to, for the post about your father. All I can say is it was his loss. I do hope and pray you get to have and hold the letters and cards your Mother wrote.
Keep your face to the sun and enjoy the gifts you have been given. It is so nice to meet you here in blogland!

Janet said...

Congratulations!! I hope your first day went smoothly for you. I'm so glad you got the job and hopefully it will work into something full-time, if that's what you want.

Thanks for letting us have a peek at your home. It sounds warm and welcoming just as I knew it would.

nonizamboni said...

How wonderful for you, Julie! I was reading along enjoying my visit to you home--and spending a little time with your dogs--when I got to the finish where the best news lay. I'm so happy for you and am hoping this will be a good place for you.
BTW, I would be very comfortable in your living room! such wonderfully placed 'clutter'--full of your life.
Take good care!

Patricia said...

Yeah ~ congratulations on the new job! I hope it turns into full time work for you soon!

How's the rain situation? When I lived in Alberta we had a serious drought for a number of years and that last year it was dreadful. The dust, the dirt, the grit and the fires. Fires seeming to start out of false flick of a butt and MAJOR forest fires burned hectares of land and homes. So I hope you get some relief, as in r-a-i-n, yesterday.

couragetocreatewriteandlove said...

You will be and do just fine.
I know it and you do too!
Congratulations Julie!

gma said...

Julie, Love your writing!!
As always you inspire me...what a great point in time exercize.
So happy you got that job.
How do you like it???
Will eMAil you soon!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on your new job. I hope it will turn out to be just the thing for you and I hope you will have a wonderful time !!!
I will be thinking of you and sending some rain clouds your way. We are supposed to have rain again, so we can spare some ; )
Have a great day !!!

Jocerane said...

I'm happy for your job! Congratulations!
Here, in Provence, we also have problems whith the lack of water.It has been raining, but not enough to go deep inside the groung....

Carole Burant said...

Dearest Julie,

First of all, congratulations on getting the job! I'm sooo proud of you:-) I do hope you will enjoy it and that you'll be doing something you love. I'm looking forward to hearing how it's all going.

I love the way you wrote about your surroundings in your home...I could picture everything through your words!! Love the idea of the old treadle sewing table being used as your computer desk:-) My godmother had one of those and I remember loving to gently make the treadle go with my foot!

Take care of YOU!! xoxo

Anonymous said...

Congratulations :-)))))
It's a bit belated I know. I thought it was great what you wrote.

Kelli said...

Congratulations on the job, Julie! I will say a prayer about the rain, very scary about the fires.

Annie Jeffries said...

Yeah!!! Yeah!!! Yeah!!! A job!!! I am stoked! Doing the happy dance in California. And at an educational institution. You will love it. Even part-time, this is so cool.

Sandy said...

I absolutely love that painting!