Friday Musings: Plank and Nail

Friday Musings: Plank and Nail

Last week, I reprised some thoughts that I’d written early on about the feeling of home and the many places where we may experience it. I did this purposely because I wanted to lay a foundation for today’s ideas which revolve around the experience of helping my youngest work on his house before moving in last weekend. I was with him when he initially went to see the house and again later when the inspector came to deliver his well-earned, dire report. There were a few issues, as there always are, but I agreed with Connor when he said that he thought the house was move-in ready. I nodded my head vigorously and exclaimed “Absolutely!” when he articulated the thought that there was nothing of an urgent nature that needed to be done. Is it any surprise to anyone who owns a home that the day after settlement found him taking down ceilings and ripping up laminate floors? And oh those colors that we thought could be tolerated: midnight blue, dark purple, highlighter orange… what were these people thinking?? As much as I knew that a good bit of the work was going to involve me, I couldn’t help but smile. This is what we all do. We buy a house thinking that it’ll be okay to occupy what was once someone else’s vision, but we quickly learn that we really do need to take almost immediate action. It’s all part of the process of making the house our own, giving it a new identity, and manifesting our own dream.

I would be lying if I told you that this recent experience brought to mind a particular Emily Dickinson poem. Don’t get me wrong, there really are times when that happens, but this was not one of them. Since I knew that I wanted to link this post to something literary, I confess that I went on a bit of a search and when the E.D. poem popped up, it was perfect. It’s short enough for me to include here in its entirety:

The Props assist the House

The Props assist the House
Until the House is built
And then the Props withdraw
And adequate, erect,
The House support itself
And cease to recollect
The Augur and the Carpenter –
Just such a retrospect
Hath the perfected Life –
A Past of Plank and Nail
And slowness – then the scaffolds drop
Affirming it a Soul –

While some of Emily’s poems can be somewhat obscure, this is not one of them. This one makes perfect sense, right? When the augur and the carpenter walked away from Connor’s house back in the 1930s, they left a sturdy structure behind with lofty ceilings, beautiful woodwork, and plaster walls. They cannot be held responsible for the black drop ceiling in the dining room or the horrors done to the floors. At that point in time, the house was essentially a blank slate, until owner after owner passed through and left their mark behind. And this is exactly how it’s supposed to work: a house is meant to be changed by its occupants. Some of the changes will be wonderful and grand, and the house will seem to swell with pride, while others will be odd and questionable, bringing an awkwardness to the house’s feel. Either way, its original structure remains intact, unless there is irreparable damage done, and if there is love within its four walls, it becomes a home, no matter how unfortunate the choice of paint colors may be.

As human beings, we work in much the same way. We reach various points in our lives where we are ready to give certain things a go all on our own. We allow the props to fall away, and we assert our identity. We begin to make the necessary changes that honor our process of becoming fully realized. Sometimes those around us see these changes as positive, and we are commended and admired for our efforts. Other times our choices raise a proverbial eyebrow, and we sense that we are being questioned. Sometimes we believe fully in the changes we are making, and other times they feel just as experimental to us as they may look from an outside perspective. And yet, this is not the part that matters. So long as the changes we make are done in the spirit of extending love and understanding towards ourselves, we will do no harm. We will honor our process. We will become who we are meant to be with our structure still intact, but bearing the mark of our own individuality. If, on the other hand, we alter ourselves in a way that is deliberately harmful, our structure will still stand, but it will carry the heavy burden caused by our lack of self love, and a great deal of discomfort will ensue. The journey of owning a home, making it our own, and changing it in all the ways that reflect our spirits can teach us many things. When Connor removed those drop ceilings and laminate floors, there was a moment when we could see the house’s original bones, and he said to me, “It’s like some kind of Phoenix coming back from the ashes.” This may be the greatest lesson we can learn. There lies within each of us the power to transform, reinvent, or restore who we are at any point in our lives. In ways that are large or small, it is never too late to honor our process of becoming, and in so doing, to rediscover the place within us that we call home.

For today’s cocktail, I chose what I consider to be one of the most structured drinks in terms of the way it’s built: the martini. Yet despite all the rules, there is also plenty of room for experimentation. Many of you know that I particularly like to explore the idea of making martinis that are infused with flavors that come either from secondary spirits or simple syrups. Today’s drink is one of those. I used vodka as the base, or the props if you will, and then added Dolin Blanc vermouth, which is just a bit sweeter than its counterpart Dolin Dry. To infuse the cocktail with flavor, and meaning, I made a parsley simple syrup brought into the drink in an amount equal to the vermouth. This created immediate balance. Finally, I added just a bit of gin and a lemon peel expression to give a lifting feel to the cocktail’s finish. Parsley is the universal symbol of transformation and rebirth, which I found to be especially appropriate for this post. The first sip of this particular martini reveals the vodka’s power, but it gives way to the more delicate flavors that follow. For me, this was also a perfect symbol: the props do fall away, but the structure remains, and we are free to find our own expression. Cheers everyone! Happy Friday. As always, thank you so much for reading.

Plank and Nail

2 oz vodka
.75 oz Dolin Blanc vermouth
.75 parsley simple syrup
.25 gin

Long, long stir.
Strain into a martini glass.
Express a lemon peel on top.
Garnish with parsley sprig.

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