Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Celebrating a Door: Meditation on Home-Closing

We are trying to close on a house. Trying, I tell you. This is our first home as a family, and it is no small thing. The dwelling proper; the process of purchasing it; the path leading up to and through this very moment: none of it is without beauty, intensity, frustration and grace.

Our offer on the home was formally accepted on Ash Wednesday. We planned to close Easter Monday; the 40 days in between were not lost on me as a sort of prayerful opportunity to journey through Lent to this new dwelling, new way of life, so-to-speak, right? Acknowledging this alignment of purchasing the home with a Catholic, Christian journey toward Easter was silly initially; but at this juncture, let me tell you: it is crucial that I have this season to draw on, as I moment-to-moment, work to make my way through to the end and trust that a new life is here!

We were slated to close Monday. Easter Monday, as I said. The hour passed, however, when we were to be at the Title company. Underwriting still had our file late that afternoon, and we were not cleared to even close! (Confession: in some dark, scary part of our minds, a lingering thought existed that our financing would fall through, that we wouldn't actually be able to purchase this house. Why book a moving truck? Why pack a box? It was dark, I tell you.) But the hour passed, and around 5pm on Monday, we were given a list of a few more "To-Do's" so that we could close on Wednesday. Hooray!

It's Wednesday evening friends, as I write this, and let me tell you: we still do not have the keys to our house! But let me relay what has happened in the meantime.

Francois and I received a tiny gift in the wake of the delay, a gift that I'm happy to share with each of you.

In lieu of today's planned 2pm closing meeting, I went to the property with our realtor, Arlo, to check on the updated repair items. (We had requested a few things be addressed in our purchase agreement and wanted to follow up on them.) There, at the house, we had a surprise, when we met the carpenter responsible for doing 90% of the renovation work on the property. Jack is his name. Lovely fellow. Jack had stories about the house, its original layout and some of the changes they made to improve the place. ("Did you know the main floor had a full bathroom, but the door was right off the kitchen?" and "The back entryway used to be so narrow, you had to pass through sideways." and "They converted it from radiator to forced air heat and put in these vents." and "Let me show you how to get furniture up the third floor staircase." These were stories and information we wouldn't necessarily have ever been privy to without this chance meeting, eh?)

One of the frustrations around the renovation work that was completed was the realization that the original door to the basement was thrown away. We were informed, during the inspection phase of this process, that this door was long gone. As the new owners, with a small crawling child, we were put on a path to finding a new "salvaged door" or having one made especially to fit this unique space. (Menards estimated this cost initially between $300 and $400 - without the mill work completed.) We were set to ordering a custom made one - again for our daughter's safety, when I met Jack, today.

I asked him, "Hey, by any chance, do you know what happened to this door off the kitchen?"

He hemmed and hawed a bit, and then said, "Well, I think it might be in a dumpster on Burlington Street."

Of course!

Forty five minutes later, belly deep in renovation debris, (house siding, pink carpeting, kitchen cupboards, mountain dew cans, a fire place rack) someplace over in East St. Paul, Jack put his hands on the missing door! We wiped it down, put it in my car, and returned it to the porch of the property.

Had the house closed on time, would I ever have met this person? Would I have learned of the previous layouts? Would I have discovered the plumbing changes and trim "tricks" that this carpenter employed? Gleaned his sense of craftsmanship and pride in his work? No.

It was a gift! A "door" on many levels, don't you think?

For the record: I think this process of closing on a home is stressful for every single person involved. Everyone. From the loan officers to title people, agents, the underwriters, to say nothing of the seller and buyers, friends, family, people standing by to help. But in the midst of it all -- circumstances that feel jarring, violent at times with the anger, anxiety, frustration, uncertainty -- there's something awesome at work...

Do you agree?

Stay tuned for scenes from the next instillation of this Easter saga!

Contemplatively yours,
Melissa Borgmann-Kiemde

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Love: The Biological Directive

My friend Pat Black posted these words on my facebook page this morning. I have to share them with more people. I plan to return and comment later. After I shower. And tend to household chores.
Humberto Maturano is a biologist. I love this guy's mind and what he brings to the understanding of the living. He describes love as a biological directive. He describes love as separate entities charged with their own self maintenance and life as joining and tying their individual maintenance with that of anothers. He suggests that in the evolution of complex beings, anything that is more than one cell, that love is the force that joined them. One can not move forward in life without the other's well being and maintenance also moving forward. Our edges of self are no longer an intact barrier to other. So I now think of failed love affairs as ones that could not bring this third being into life. This place where they overlap and become one. This new place that brings sustenance and the maintenance of being to two instead of one.

Maturano views this as a physiological relationship. He is not viewing it through a emotional lens since it is basic to life not just mammals.

Thoughts? Responses? I welcome them!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Ms. Kiemde is cutting teeth -- four to be specific. Her top front teeth are coming in, followed by two tiny pearly whites flanking each side. Are they incisors? Eye teeth? I'm not certain of the proper names for these cuspids, but I am certain of what they are inspiring in my almost eleven-month old baby girl. I am observing new behaviors in this child. A new level of cranky. Fiesty. Furious. Feeling her power. Do you remember what your gums cracking open felt like? Having our insides split a bit to make way for new growth: it's difficult. The surface itches, aches, throbs. We bleed when we get new teeth.

I think the same might be said for most developmental processes in all humans. Teething is akin to growing, to adopting new ways of being; it's learning. Just as it is difficult to literally "birth" new teeth, I believe it is as hard for us to make way for any new thing to come forward in our lives. We itch. Ache. Throb. Maybe bleed a bit, too, in some regard.

Today, my prayers are for any and all who are teething - literally and figuratively. I am praying for babies, adults, teens, elders. I am holding images of new cuspids and precious gums in my child's mouth along with the way I am learning to practice being calm when I'm angry; a smile and deep breath are often just as difficult to come forward as these teeth.

I hope this finds you with patience for all that is trying to break the surface; I send good thoughts for all that is trying to emerge and become a helpful, visible new part of your being.

Happy Contemplating!
Melissa Borgmann-Kiemde,
Visitation Companion,
Mom, Wife, Lover, Writer, Contemplative at Work

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Marguerite's Speech

Your baby's ability to vocalize is improving, and he may say his first word any time now. - BabyCenter

Ms. Kiemde is ten and a half months old and knocking our socks off!

In the past week, she has started to repeat the word "Daddy" -- incessantly. These consonants come easily to her, compared with the "M's" in say, her name, my name, and MOMMA!! It's all good, and highly entertaining. She has uttered audibly and distinctly the word "momma" on two occasions. Two, count them:

1. Whilst trying to teach Marguerite not to throw her food or utensils all on the floor when she's done, or bored, I instead invited her to "hand me nicely" the object in question. Last Sunday, during our first attempt at this behavior guidance, following Mag's 2nd tossing of her spoon, I picked up the object, placed it back on her high chair tray and said, "Can you give it to momma?" Jody Tigges was sitting next to us. Maggie took her spoon and with a big smile, put it sweetly in my hand and said, "Momma!" I about died. Ms. Tigges was a witness. I tried not to respond in an overly dramatic way, but said, "Thank you." and smiled. I believe Maggie and I were both grinning ear to ear.

It was our first request/ response "dialogue" or "conversation" - where it seemed she understood clearly my query and I got clearly - on two levels- her comprehension through spoken and physical gestures.

2. Last night in the car, coming home from a visit to our new home, Maggie was practicing her daddy speech. As a way to let her know I heard her, and as a way to participate in the conversation, I was repeating back her syllables, this time, pronouncing "daddy" with various emphasis and alternatively, singing it. In turn, Marguerite played with her pronunciations, even becoming melodic in her expression, following my soprano song of "daaaadddy". Following a pause in the middle of the "daddy" litany, she then said clearly, "MOMMA." Our friend Ann Shallbetter was in the car and I think was nearly as excited as I was by this surprise in the conversation. It's so great to have a witness!

By the way, Marguerite has been repeating proudly this game of "can you give it to momma?" at almost every play interaction/ meal. She has been so proud of herself, beaming at the interaction, and then enthusiastic to repeat the gesture.

We are in love.

For those of you who haven't seen our little pumpkin lately, (or on Facebook) I hope you enjoy these recent snapshots posted. One is with her godmother, Marianna, (above right) and then a few are from last weekend's play date with Geert Bennaars-Mawanda. Smile!


Who doesn't covet a sippy cup?