I don’t think I’ll be building birdhouses


I don’t think I’ll be learning macrame, or another language, or finally learning how to build a birdhouse during this time of being set apart and locked up and locked down. I also don’t think I’ll be writing a sequel to The Minister’s Wife at this moment in time (The Minister’s Wife Who Climbed out a Window and ran Down the Street?).

There is this idea of creative productivity that might just be another pressure point right now, at least for me. It might be okay to just become better, and a little bit slower, at what we are already doing to be human. Which for me right now looks like cooking a meal that makes my family smile. Cleaning a room. Pulling the sheets up over the bed and smoothing them down flat with my hand. Sweeping up the cereal spilled on the floor, which crunches under my sandals like pebbles on a path. And not snapping at the cereal-spillers or hitting them with the broom.

My days are also, gratefully, wonderfully, still very full of my daily, regular work right now. And our kitchen is located in my office. So my office fills up sometimes with lumbering, hungry people who tumble out of bed and look for food, hair standing tall (we will eventually have a Stiller-Big-Thick-Hair Problem to contend with). There they are in the background of my Zoom meeting, making coffee, spilling cereal and then wandering off set, oblivious.

All of this to say, I’m trying to be gentle with myself and my housemates. Doing the small and daily things well right now is productive and creative enough, for me, so far. But if you receive a birdhouse from me for Christmas next year — assuming Christmas will come back for us — you will know I changed my mind.

15 thoughts on “I don’t think I’ll be building birdhouses”

  1. Ah my talented sister. Ironically I bought and delivered birdhouses a few days ago to 11 local kids, much to their parents delight (?)

  2. Rachel Bloomquist

    Lovely thoughts, Karen. Producing meals that speak comfort resonates with me. A friend of mine who loves to bake went in search of bread yeast this week and returned empty handed. “Is everyone suddenly baking bread?”she asked in wonder.

    1. I’ll take the bread and the birdhouse- I’m not baking or building, but feel the pressure to bake the bread. I may go back to working on pizza dough — although we need a break from all pasta and anything with red sauce. D

  3. Loved this. The small and daily things are already plenty to accomplish and try to enjoy in the meantime. The “not-knowing” has been forcing us to be more present and content in a way our future-oriented selves are not used to. If you think of any Stiller-Big-Thick-Hair solutions let me know…

  4. Tell those Stillers to get their hair cut,and their grandfather will pay them, $25 a pound for it, next we meet….

  5. “They also serve who only stand and wait” John Milton “On his blindness”. This echoes your wonderful prose Karen…. comfort food is called that for a reason ! Bruce

  6. Karen, I could listen to and read your stories all the time. Truly delightful and honest- it is so easy to meet you in your words. Thank you for helping me feel normal in these times ❤️

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