Home Sweet Home . . . and Garden

Smokebush in October

Though most of our property (all but one small corner) escaped burning as the wildfires raged around us, our garden did take a few fire-related hits: a prolonged lack of water combined with poor air quality and being left vulnerable to hungry deer meant that most of our plants experienced an accelerated autumn decline . . . and then some. Rather ironically, the ‘smokebush’ (Cotinus coggygria) that sits on the slope of the rocky knoll behind the house seems indifferent to all of the drama that has unfolded around it, and it’s been a beacon of hope in all its fall glory, providing a counterpoint to the dismay I felt as I first inventoried the damage to my garden.

All summer long I was so busy IN the garden that I never found the time to write ABOUT the garden. There were stories to tell (about the success of growing cukes in the green house; the rescue of the rattlesnake caught in the strawberry netting; the first harvest of hops, and so much more), but I was busy: with new plantings chosen specifically for the benefit of the bees and chickens, with an expanded kitchen garden space, with the first attempts at pushing the boundaries of the garden into the woodland in a sensitive manner — but mostly with watering. I’m a committed hand-waterer, and there’s no getting around the fact that hand-watering takes time. For me, the time is mostly meditative (rather like ironing, or hand-washing the dishes), but it’s also a chance to check in with my plants, to observe what other attention each might need and to assess how each is contributing to the overall plan: it’s gardening, defined. This daily attention binds me to the garden (requires my presence and energy) but also binds the garden to me rather in the way the nurture of offspring cements the bond between parent and child.

One of the young perennial borders in June

My dismay at the state of the garden upon our return was not merely an ephemeral impression wrought by the visual disarray of what had been so carefully nurtured along thus far, but instead deeply felt and persistent. Almost the very first thing I did upon our return home after the mandatory evacuation order had been lifted was to give every part of the garden a good, long drink of water — but then I felt so overwhelmed by my dismay that it was fully a week before I could begin any of the many tasks that awaited me to begin to bring the garden back from the damage that had been done: sifting out debris that had rained down out of the woods with the fierce winds; cutting back plants that had been parched and/or scorched, or deer-damaged; and washing away ash residue from what remains. Mind you, a gardener expects to be taxed with ‘putting the garden to bed for the winter’ each autumn, but this has been a fall clean-up on steroids. Thankfully, my dismay has also been put to bed by my efforts, hope restored by action and faith buttressed by already-apparent signs of recovery as the rainy season begins: by and by, the garden will be ready to cycle into new growth and respond to my ministrations once again.

Early spring

So many lost so much as a result of the fires that the setback for our garden is nothing, of course, and yet my dismay was real, was something for me to acknowledge and work through. That done, the full expression of our appreciation for the efforts of the firefighters who protected our home is possible without any reservation: we are so very grateful that Acorn Lodge stands, our little brown nut sitting prettily among the oaks, our HOME SWEET HOME . . . and GARDEN.

Reporting Remotely

One week ago today, I woke up shortly after midnight and smelled smoke. My sleep had been uneasy anyway because of burly gusts of wind that kept buffeting the house, but I was instantly wide awake and out of bed once the smoke began to filter in through the bedroom window, left ajar for fresh air. I went straight to my computer to Google ‘fire Sonoma Valley’ and immediately found images of out-of-control fires burning in Kenwood, in the valley just below us. Pulling on clothes quickly, I began to load my little car with food for the dog, cat, and chickens; I pulled out the box of DVDs that hold the images of our children’s early years on them, and put together a basket of other incidentals I though I might need if we were to be gone for more than a few hours. The wind was still swirling and the air smokey as I made my way back and forth from the house to the barn to load up the car.

This done, I walked from room to room and shot a video of each on my phone — a record of what each looked like, providing a cursory inventory of what each held. Then I stepped outside once again and snapped this, my view from the back steps out towards Frey Canyon, the sky glowing orange directly above the area where the fire was roaring down below.

Once the electricity failed I lit a few candles, unsure of how much longer to sit tight and whether I should call the friends who live next door to wake them. Shortly after 2 a.m. another neighbor drove up the street: he was waking everyone to let them know about the fire. By 3:20 or so, we were all evacuating — our way down off the mountain being limited to a single option. Just as we reached the bottom of the hill, an official call for evacuation in our area was made, and our friends and I decided that we should drive south since there was another fire burning in the northern part of Santa Rosa.

We arrived in Petaluma shortly after 4:00 a.m., me with the company of our dogs, cat, and hens — and we’ve been here since. [Most of us, anyway: thankfully, my niece picked up the chickens and has them with her in Bodega Bay, since the hotel (understandably!) wasn’t willing to let me have them in our room.] My husband, who had been out of town (climbing Mt. Whitney!), joined us Tuesday afternoon.

I’ve consumed more media in the past week than I have in the past year: hard as it was to watch the horrifying images and hear of the devastation, we’ve been hungry for any sliver of hope that our home would survive. We received word late Monday night that there was a “large fire” on our street and went to bed assuming the worst — sleep being elusive as our minds raced through all of the possibilities of what we would find, what we would do. Then, miraculously, one of the local stations was actually reporting from right in front of the house for all of Tuesday morning, which was enormously reassuring. We could see that there were fire crews dedicated to protecting our homes: laying out hoses and monitoring the (thankfully rather tame at that point) flames in Annadel State Park that were within 100 yards or so of the edge of our street. We could continue to hope.

As for now, the dawn of Day Eight, we continue to play the waiting game with as much patience as we can muster. We’re grateful for the tireless efforts of the firefighters, and for the generosity of those around us in offering comfort and feeding our need for hope: the house still stands and we await the lift of the evacuation order with full hearts.

Home at Last

Cinnamon-Sugar Breakfast Puffs

Given the symmetry of the façade of Acorn Lodge, it seems utterly appropriate that we were finally granted our Occupancy Permit on June 1st . . . 6/1/16. There remains much work to be done so the days are busy still, with the sounds of table saws and nail guns providing a somewhat jarring but ultimately reassuring soundtrack. Dust is my constant companion, my vacuum cleaner my new best friend. Nonetheless, as we begin slowly to unpack and settle in there is no doubt that we are HOME.

It has been delightful to become reacquainted with treasures that have been packed away these last two years. I feel a bit like a child at Christmas as I unwrap dishes and other delicate objects: the paper falls away to reveal cherished items that feel doubly dear to me as I appreciate them anew. Further, after spending two years in storage following repair and refinishing, my piano has come HOME – and though it will take some time and dedicated effort to regain what proficiency I had, I can hardly wait to begin tickling the ivories again.

The Cottage was finished just days before the piano was delivered to take up residency there, and shortly thereafter, the Cottage stood ready to welcome guests, standing in as HOME-away-from-home for Acorn Lodge’s first visitors. It’s a cosy and, we hope, comfortable spot, and as I prepared for our friends’ stay, I discovered a cosy and delicious recipe that will become a signature breakfast treat at Acorn Lodge. We love our friends, and I love my new kitchen, and we all loved these little muffins – and you know what they say about HOME . . .

Cinnamon-Sugar Breakfast Puffs
2 cups flour
1½ cups sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1 generous tsp. cinnamon
1 scant tsp. freshly ground nutmeg
Pinch cardamom
½ tsp. fine-grain sea salt
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup whole milk
3 tbs. unsalted butter, melted
2 tsp. vanilla
½ cup sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
Generous pinch fine-grain sea salt
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a mini-muffin pan.
Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, and salt into a large bowl. In a second bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, butter, and vanilla. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and stir a little at a time until combined.
Spoon the batter into the tin and bake for 16-18 minutes. (Or cover and refrigerate batter for later use.) Meanwhile, combine the remaining sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a shallow bowl.
When puffs are cooked, remove from the tin after 2-3 minutes and place on a cooling rack. Let cool for a minute then coat them in cinnamon-sugar mixture. Place back on rack to cool further. Serve warm or cold.


Home is where the heart is.

-Pliny the Elder


Crane Acorn 'Tile"

I used to work on costuming for the theater department at our local high school. The program is a well-respected one that consistently produces high caliber productions, and designing and producing the costumes was a delightful creative outlet for me for a time. As satisfying as the endeavor was, the biggest take-away for me from the experience had nothing to do with the costumes and everything to do with the comportment of our fearless leader, department head Kathleen Woods. I marveled at how, even as we entered into the inevitable days-before-opening, show-must-go-on craze, she maintained a serene presence, always calm and radiating assurance: none of the fabled tantrums that creative types are prone to having, never even a cross or unkind word — just the picture of grace under pressure.

I asked Kathleen once about her apparently endless reserves of patience with the antics of her youthful charges, her calm determination to meet obstacles with both a smile and a willingness to move on — her seemingly unflappable mien. I don’t remember the exact words of her answer to my query, but I do remember that she indicated that she makes a deliberate choice to be graceful in her response to stress. She chooses an attitude of positivity and productivity in order that the process will continue to move forward in the most pleasant and satisfying way for all involved.

My friend Carrie is ‘famous’ for telling her son when he hits a bump in the road, “You can have a fit or make a plan.” She is of course, advocating for the latter, but the truth of the matter is we always have a choice: we can look for someone to blame, complain of ill-treatment, wallow in our misery – or we can accept that ‘it is what it is’ and move on. Fussing and fuming rarely change the outcome for the better, and in fact can cause more damage to a situation in the long run; a little faith that all will come right in the end if we can remain positive quite likely serves us better. But the choice remains: tantrum or calm smile.

We are nearing the ‘Curtain up’ phase of the project (a hopeful move-in date is nigh) and the pressure is on to bring the production up to snuff (conditions set by the Building Department must be met before we may occupy the house). The work has been outlined appropriately, subs set into the schedule, inspections added to the calendar – and then the mason’s grandfather passes away, the electrician’s van breaks down, the finish carpenter is ill with food poisoning, and all the good intentions in the world won’t provide shelter for us once our tenancy in our temporary digs is up at the end of the month. Perhaps only the ghost light will shine in the theater on what was to have been Opening Night . . .

Our landlord’s emails are tagged with the following quote:

“Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass,
it’s about learning to dance in the rain.”

 At this point, I’m dancing as fast as I’m able, and I can only hope it may be noted when all is said and done that by and large my ‘moves’ were graceful!


“In the end, only three things matter: how much you loved, how gently you lived, and how gracefully you let go of the things not meant for you.”

— Buddha


Getting There

Sonoma landscape

The end of construction looms so close I can almost taste it: flooring is going in, cabinetry is being installed, and the trimming of doors and windows has begun. Outside, most of the siding is in place, masonry is proceeding nicely, and the final roof tile will be nailed down this week. Slowly but surely, we are getting there!

Meanwhile, we have moved from our transitional digs in San Francisco (such lovely digs they were!) to a temporary furnished rental . . . in Sonoma. We’re finally residents of Sonoma County, two years after buying our property. The fact of our arrival here is doubly sweet because it means my commute to the property is 30 minutes instead of the hour and a quarter the drive from the City took: getting there is now so much easier.

It’s not that I minded the drive – I’m generally happy to be with my own thoughts, and the opportunity the drive afforded to ruminate on the project did not go amiss. Besides, Highway 12 is literally signposted as a Scenic Route (and thankfully, that’s the stretch of the route that constitutes my current commute). The bucolic character of the Sonoma Valley continues to delight me almost beyond measure, and the delight that I experience is a good reminder of the need to appreciate the journey even as we endeavor to reach our destination: after all, getting there is (often more than) half the fun.

In fact, I am so enjoying the journey that I’m a bit apprehensive about nearing the end – but only a bit. I remind myself that I’ll have ahead of me the challenge of setting up the beehive and figuring out how best to nurture the chickens, the opportunity to create and sustain a new garden, and the delight of turning my creative energy toward feathering our new nest with curtains and cushions and the like. The building will be finished, but maybe like a good garden, a good home is never really ‘done’ . . . maybe we’ll never actually get there after all, but oh, what a pleasant jaunt it may be when we strive toward that for which we long!

“If I were asked to say what is at once the most important production of Art
and the thing most to be longed for, I should answer,
‘A beautiful House.'”

— William Morris

Rock On!

Rocks on the property

I feel lately like my head is full of rocks — but it’s not all bad! Certainly there was the rocky road of the black paint brouhaha that we had to navigate: I found myself so distracted trying to stay upright during that bumpy and bruising journey that the every-day just fell away, and simple tasks like putting out the cans for recycling and trash collection fell off my radar completely. Whoops! We’re glad to put those metaphorical rocks in the rear-view mirror and look forward to a smoother ride as we accelerate back up to cruising speed on the project. Besides, we have other, actual rocks that happily command our attention at the moment.

The foundations for Acorn Lodge conform, of course, to current construction standards (i.e., they are poured concrete), but I love the idea of a home built on a stone foundation. Especially in a setting such as ours where the soil yielded a veritable trove of fine specimens when we graded and dug to put the foundations in place, it seems a shame not to incorporate them into the design. So the mason has his work cut out for him: he is charged with creating the illusion that the Lodge and Cottage sit on stone foundations. We can’t make use solely of the rock we’ve recovered from the property because much of it is over-sized, so I’m on the hunt for suitable stone to add to the mix, bearing in mind the importance of maintaining the integrity of the project. Just because it is an illusion doesn’t mean it should reveal itself as such by a failure on my part to pay attention to what is suggested by our setting: I want for the finished product to feel as though it mushroomed up out of the ground organically and for it to look perfectly at home in its surroundings, a natural fit for the sylvan charm that surrounds us. I am, therefore, determined to wear my rock hound hat until the ‘just-right’ rock is found and secured!

Meanwhile, perhaps the most exciting ‘rock’ of all has made its appearance at Acorn Lodge: the sheet-rocking has begun, and I say, “Rock on!” I was particularly pleased to walk into the kitchen the other day and find the breakfast nook looking ready to receive its panelling and trim. This is the space we will inhabit as we welcome each day, with sun from the east spilling through the windows; as well, here is where the two of us will enjoy cosy kitchen suppers when we want to give the dining room a rest. Cooking and eating are central to my notion of well-being, so besides having a functional and attractive kitchen to work in, I need a beautiful and welcoming place to sit to enjoy both the fruits of my labor and the company of those for whom I cook. As imagined, the nook will fit the bill perfectly, and in fact now that the sheet-rock is in place (‘on’), I can empty my head of each of the rooms as conceived, and begin to enjoy them as they are: rock-solid interpretations of all that I yearn for when I conjure my notion of home. No more plotting and planning — just appreciation for what is!

Breakfast Nook

“Write your worries in the sand,
Carve your blessings in stone.”

— Robert F. Kennedy

Good to Go


After a week’s worth of Sturm und Drang, we got the happy news this morning that we may begin painting again – our choice of black for the trim has been approved by the Architectural Committee — so we find ourselves relieved to feel we’re no longer going to the dogs but rather good to go! Truthfully, it will take some time to put this whole unhappy episode fully behind us, but we mean to take heart from the notion that “You can’t keep a good man/woman (project!) down.”

Initially rejected by the Architectural Committee, the black paint was decreed to be too bold (“shocking,” in fact), too much in contrast with the natural environment that enfolds the community. I will readily admit that at the moment, because the house is sheathed in white Tyvek, the black does appear rather stark at first glance. But the picture won’t be complete until the siding is put in place [the dogs were barking up the wrong tree]: the relative value of the black will be aptly matched by the brown of the cedar shingles, bringing the house as a whole into harmonious balance. Moreover, there actually IS no contrast in black with the environment except of one that has the effect of enhancement:

Black is a good foil for green.
In a garden or against natural surroundings, black will recede
and focus attention instead on green foliage.

Thankfully, with a concerted effort on my part, I was able to convince the Architectural Committee that my choice of black for the trim was based on qualifications of good design and was meant to contribute to the greater good of the community, in keeping with the committee’s guidelines and standards. We’re another step closer to making ourselves at home in Acorn Lodge, our little brown nut sitting prettily among the oaks.

I’ve long taken the following as my own personal set of guidelines and standards:

To laugh often and love much;
to win the respect of intelligent persons and the affection of children;
to earn the approbation of honest citizens and endure the betrayal of false friends;
to appreciate beauty;
to find the best in others;
to give of one’s self;
to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition;
to have played and laughed with enthusiasm and sung with exultation;
to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived . . .
this is to have succeeded.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

And so the transgressions of misguided neighbors will be forgiven, hope is restored in my heart, and I find myself grateful for the opportunity to rededicate myself to my ideals — it occurs to me that we are not merely building a home, but continuing to build character in ourselves in the bargain!


Emerson quote


Going to the Dogs


Doesn’t it seem a shame that some people, though they are of at least average intelligence and are comfortably well-off in their lives, enjoying advantages that some may never have the good fortune to experience, aren’t able to appreciate their position, to find noble endeavors in which to busy themselves, perhaps even meriting respect for benevolence which helps ease the lives of others? Here was I, innocently tooling along at 65 MPH (and feeling perfectly well gruntled, I might add) when, WHAM, a two-minute conversation brings me to a screeching halt. Okay, maybe I had already slowed to 40 because of a phone call the day before . . . but still. That truth is often stranger than fiction has been confirmed — you can’t make this stuff up, though I’ll pretend for the sake of handling the situation (and myself) gently that all of this is ‘just’ a story.

Once upon a time, there lived a pack of dogs in the Lovely Woods, woods that appeared peaceful and calm, a sanctuary for those who lived there. There were the Border Collies, a pair who displayed a high-strung need to keep everything in order and a fanatic willingness to try to keep everyone in line; there was the Pit Bull, whose temperament from moment to moment was anyone’s guess, now drooling with charm, now snarling; and there was the Basset Hound, a quiet hanger-on who nevertheless was eager to add to the baying chorus if circumstances seemed to merit. This pack of dogs was seen regularly patrolling the neighborhood, the Border Collies in particular on the lookout for anything that might be amiss or anyone who seemed not to be following the rules – this is after all, what Border Collies do best. And they knew they could always count on the Pit Bull as their staunch ally in nosing out threats and the Basset Hound as a loyal dogsbody when the need for action arose.
Enter yours truly, who wants only to paint the trim on her new home black. The painter is to begin the job by providing me a small painted sample; however, gifted with the first dry stretch of days we’ve had in weeks, he decides to give almost all of the woodwork a first coat of paint. The dog pack responds with a full alert – WOO, WOO, WOOF – hassling the workers at the job site, and registering a complaint with the Architectural Committee (to which we must answer regarding all design details). And so I receive a phone call: “You must submit samples before proceeding with any work. The committee is meeting tonight, so we shall consider the work that has been done so far as your sample, and render our decision about your color choice based on that.”

Tap the brakes, slow to 40 – there’s trouble stirring in the Lovely Woods.

I arrive at the job site the following morning, and the mason shows up for a meeting. We conduct our business, and then, because he is troubled by something that has happened, he shares with me that he had been up on the roof of the Cottage a day or two before when some of the dogs from the pack had approached the property with a group of others, upset about the black paint. The Pit Bull proceeded to detach herself from the group at the curb, and after acknowledging the mason’s presence, began to sniff all around the property and take photos before rejoining the group at the curb. And this is when the vicious barking and growling began: a diatribe against the project that stunned the mason with its vehemence.

Hit the brakes hard, I’m at a complete standstill.

Wow. Just . . . wow. Really?!?

In my world, the words ‘private property’ mean something. I’m a generous person by nature, but even had she wanted to take photos for innocent purposes (maybe she likes a design detail?) permission to be on the property, and especially permission to take photos should have been asked for as a courtesy. To have run loose all over the site without my knowledge, taking photos with malice in her intent, is beyond reproach to my way of thinking. (Perhaps this Pit Bull needs to be on a shorter leash.)

Further, to set forth her opinion loudly and publicly that the project is ill-conceived and bound to lower the property values in the neighborhood – all this when I am not present to defend myself or the project – that’s the kind of display that is frightening to experience (no wonder the mason was upset!). Moreover, her rabid rant was wounding to hear repeated. (Perhaps this Pit Bull is in want of a muzzle.)

Acorn Lodge is the product of my heart and soul, and it has been impossible for me not to take this episode personally. I am angry and hurt — and deeply shaken to find myself made newly aware that the Lovely Woods may not be quite the sanctuary I yearn for. I am generally a very trusting person (probably to a fault), always expecting that people are putting forward their best in the day-to-day. In other words, I’ve never been particularly afraid of dogs. But moving forward I will be wary, very wary, of the dog pack of the Lovely Woods as I try to anticipate the end of the story.

It may be hoped that the oh-so-capable Border Collies might come to donate their considerable energy to the community in some more worthwhile cause than challenging my color choice for the trim on my home; that the pugnacious Pit Bull might receive some training and encouragement to render her better able to respond appropriately (read: sensitively and courteously) to a perceived crisis; that the doleful Basset Hound might come to realize her steady companionship could be better appreciated by other quiet souls, ones with more worthy intentions. Sadly, I’m not sure I should hold my breath waiting for any of them to discover a Happily Ever After.

In the meantime, I will shake myself out; put myself in a good, long Down Dog pose; then begin again to wag my tail as hard as I can (“Fake it till you make it,” right?). There are neighbors whose  appreciation of all that we are bringing to Acorn Lodge is continuous and genuine – these stand ready with welcome and warmth, and with these I shall look forward to sharing the Lovely Woods.

Live and let live.

Walk On

Crane Acorn 'Tile"

For nearly twenty years now, we’ve pulled out and added to a family Book of Thanksgiving as we’ve gathered to feast together — it’s become a documentary of the growth of our children and a record of the changes in our lives over the years, a collection of photos and personal sentiments that stand collectively to reflect the gratitude we feel for all that enriches our lives. I’ve tried each year to recognize and encapsulate a theme for the months that have passed since the year before: my gratitude for new beginnings in response to our recovery from a house fire that I had inadvertently started (!); my joy in watching my children grow; my appreciation of the every day, and of the flow of life, just to pick out a few.

Last Thanksgiving I expressed my thanks for beautiful places to walk (on). In the months leading up to that time we had: purchased a piece of property that allows us access to a 5,000 acre state park a mere 50 yards from our future doorstep, moved to a temporary home in San Francisco that is just blocks from the beautiful Presidio with miles of trails at our disposal, and walked 82 miles across the inimitable English countryside. Walking was decidedly the theme of 2014! But moreover, the opportunity to walk on from the life we’d known over the past 26 years in Palo Alto was also worthy of recognizing with gratitude.

As Acorn Lodge begins to take shape and Thanksgiving approaches again, I continue to rejoice in our good fortune at having this opportunity. I’m thankful that I’m able to consider the project my ‘full-time job,’ and yet it’s clear to me that my creative impulses alone don’t count for enough to get the job done: “Huzzah!” for the artisans that are able and willing to bring those ideas to life! I’m appreciative of the expertise and flexibility each brings to the job, allowing the project to continue to evolve organically as progress is made while finding just the right expression of the personality of our home — to my mind, it’s a prime example of Arts and Crafts ideals at work and I’m filled with gratitude as I watch the process unfold.

Mid-November 2015

 I’m grateful for the artisans who are helping to bring Acorn Lodge to life.



Framing 1

With the framing well underway (Cottage and Lodge largely done, Barn up next), I’ve found myself musing lately on the multiple interpretations of the very concept of a frame. Certainly as the timbers are first nailed into place to create the frame for a building they serve the purpose of defining the space they enclose, in much the way a picture frame provides a border for and encases a piece of art. What a thrill it was to walk through the ‘rooms’ of our new home for the first time, feeling held in just the way I’d hoped! But now that those timbers are sheathed, that very same frame has become more of an internal supporting structure, no longer even visible from an external vantage point: the frame is more like the skeleton of the house than the skin, my perception of it changed . . . just like that. It is a frame [‘a rigid structure that surrounds or encloses something‘] and a frame [‘the rigid supporting structure of an object‘] all at the same time.

It seems the derivation of the word frame is from the Old English framian, ‘be useful.’ I find this particularly apt as it relates to another way in which I often think about frames. I have long been in the habit of changing metaphorical frames when faced with challenging behaviors or attitudes in others, switching out a negative frame for one that is more positive (or at least allows for a more patient response from me): the ‘stubborn’ child becomes ‘tenacious,’ the ‘insensitive’ neighbor is ‘awkward.’ Maybe our child’s persistence, although not always convenient to manage in the here-and-now, will be the trait that serves him best in adulthood and is worthy of being encouraged to a reasonable degree; perhaps the neighbor is only socially clumsy, with no desire or intent to offend. I find this exercise in re-framing encourages at least a modicum of grace on my part in interactions that might otherwise provoke me to ire or disdain, a very useful tool indeed!

These metaphorical frames serve to provide cases in which I may hold my understanding of others, much as the frames of our buildings serve to encase the spaces we intend to occupy, but I think of them as just that: external borders. It is the internal structure of my own frame of mind that allows me to make use of the metaphorical frames, and I credit the fact that I’m an eternal optimist by way of explaining my willingness to adopt this habit of frame changing. According to Winston Churchill, “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” Just as one chooses the dimensions when framing a new building, I like to think one may choose to shape one’s frame of mind: I choose optimism and will continue to cultivate my habit of trying new frames to promote a productive way to move forward when the path is unclear.

The frame [see above, andconstitution or nature of someone or something‘] of Acorn Lodge, generous yet cosy, will stand at the ready eventually to welcome and nurture all who enter. The road to completion may be pocked with unexpected potholes — the lenses of my frames [‘glasses‘] are not rose-tinted — but we mean to frame [‘create or formulate‘] an experience that will be as positive, for all involved, as possible.

Framing 2

“Optimism is the cheerful frame of mind that enables a teakettle to sing,
though in hot water up to its nose.”