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In a day, we went from just fuzz on the trees to leaves on the trees. It happens every year, in about a day, and it always surprises and amazes me. It makes me want to keep a nature journal, noting all the changes in my garden and the landscape, tracking the differences over the years. I heard a story on NPR some time ago about a woman who did that in England and over the course of 30 years, she saw the signs of spring happening about two weeks earlier. And summer likewise advanced two weeks, but not winter.
We went to Sag Harbor today and I fell in love with the village, absolutely fell in love. The rain cleared and there was actually sunshine as we walked around the village. It has a real New England feel and many Federal and Victorian period houses. All of that, combined with the water and it is what I always envisioned as the perfect “in town” place to live. Getting into and out of the South Fork in summer would be a nightmare, and commuting to the city (or even Melville!) for work is out, but I love the village.
We wanted to love the house. A victorian, it had the space we're looking for with a beautifully landscaped, very private back yard and a garage. It was immaculate on the inside. And that was the problem, it had been sanitized of almost every real period detail. While it was clean and filled with nice finishes, nothing was original any more (typified by the fireplace mantle, a modern finished wood construct from floor to ceiling) and was lacking a soul and charm. The house was a shell and didn't speak to either of us, although the three listing agents did.
I am so tired of the rain, seven days now of rain. It has moved beyond depressing. I'm unable to finish my weed removal work and they are now starting to return, which is more depressing. I did see the first hints of wisteria hanging from a front porch of a house in Northport, however, and that pleases me immensely on several levels. I have dreamed of having a wisteria-draped house someday, and have promised myself that when we have a house (wherever it may be, whenever it may be), if it does not have wisteria, I will plant some.
The long commute on the way home is beginning to get to me. Perhaps it is just the additional delays recently because of the rain – I still don't understand why that must cause so many delays – but the fact that it takes me an hour to go 30 miles home is really beginning to grate on me. I know I am more impatient on the way home, but the Podcasts aren't quite doing the job of distracting me that they once did. It is clearly time to start looking at some alternate routes that I didn't consider initially.
The fact that I’m so lethargic suggests that just getting a job that covers minimal expenses hasn’t gotten me out of my funk. I will admit to a certain disappointment in life recently, not quite disillusionment, but approaching it. The last several jobs, starting with the leap of faith to a consulting venture four years ago, have been disappointing in terms of career advancement, compensation, and intellectual stimulation. Thankfully my personal life has been fulfilling, although sometimes the only solace. I have no idea what to do now about my professional life other than wait for the economy to change.
Sometime I think I peaked early. I had early academic and musical successes in high school and college that probably set abnormally high expectations for what real life was going to be like. I never expected popularity as I was always uneasy in social settings. What I didn’t understand then, when all things seemed possible, was that the rest of the world was actually like high school: popularity matters. It doesn’t really matter how smart or how capable you are, what your record demonstrates, if they don’t like you for whatever reason, you won’t be given the chance to succeed.
Unable to make it to the memorial service, I called mom & dad to reminisce a bit about Aunt Vonnie. Whose first name was actually Lillian, I learned. I had forgotten about the trip to Colorado when I was very young, although I do retain my impression of being very unhappy in the car at Pike's Peak. Mom apparently never saw the home movies grandpa made of the trip to Egypt, and of course, they are gone now. And somehow, I can see Vonnie driving off into the wilds of Hopkins back in the early '60's, but not to teach.
Even with Wednesdays off to do as I please, the weekends are too short. I have a ToDo list every weekend and I never seem to get through more than half of it. This list is generally evenly split between true chores that need to get done (although not necessarily that weekend), stuff I feel that I ought to do, and things that I want to do. Over the course of several weekends, there is generally one item or another that moves from one category to another. The migration is always interesting and I often wonder what it actually signifies.
The garden is finally beginning to look like a garden again. There is a long length on the south side of the house that has had all the morning glory and mugwort removed – several times, I might add – and is now protected by the landscape mat and a layer of mulch. I'm probably a third of the way through the house garden, but the east side will go quickly, it was never really infested with the mugwort. I would like to have all of it done by June, but I know that is probably a bit too ambitious.
I have learned, somewhat the hard way , that I really do need to adhere to my own rules. No breaking rules, period, end of discussion. No making allowances for the situation, the rule is the rule. I can’t remember how hard it was then, and I have no idea what the alternative would have been, but I shouldn’t have made an exception back then. Deferring being between a rock and a hard place is just like deferring punishment - any perceived benefit is just not worth it, and in the interim, it feels like a sword hangs overhead.
I can't believe how much progress I've made on my sky blue cashmere cardi. I don't think Iit will be done before it's too warm to knit such stuff, but it has been so cold and damp of late that I have no motivation to work on warm weather sweaters. I'm working on one summer short sleeved cardi, but out of yarn I hate. I'm making lists for summer knitting, matching yarn to pattern, then pondering the choice. I've neglected my two sweaters waiting to be seamed, they're summer wear; I can't cast on something new until one is done.
I fill the hours in between my early morning and early afternoon appointments in the city by visiting various yarn stores. There was almost nothing of interest at the first store, and I slip out unnoticed as the regulars start in on their gossip. The conversation I overheard was so prejudiced against certain groups, I wouldn't be comfortable there. The second store is a treasure chest has some beautiful yarns with extremely precious prices. I don't know that I would buy them even if I was flush and working again. Then again, I probably would, if money were again easy.
I am fascinated with the Trunk Project, a knitter who is designing patterns for each of her parents, grandparents and great-grandparents, and posting online stories about the family member with each pattern. It is fascinating to me, not just the stories and photos, but the idea of telling the story of a family in knitwear. I've been thinking about my great-grandmother's journals again lately, wondering if there's a story there – well, a publishable story, I know there's a story there. I should have started reviewing them when I was unemployed, I don't know where I'd find the time now.
Alone in the house again. I'm disappointed that Knit Nite was canceled; I don't expect it to happen next month, so it's probably over. I look at the actual sunshine outside, the first in days, but decide not to spend the last remaining hours of they day abusing my knees working in the garden. Tonight is about guilt-free indulgence. I make pasta with vodka sauce for dinner, not something Geoffrey enjoys. After baking banana bread (OK, that's indulging G, not me), I settle in with my knitting and stay up late, hours past midnight watching bad chick flicks on television.
Never mind whatever else happened today, Geoffrey brought back pizza from Pepe's, the Fairfield branch. I have had some truly excellent pizza in my day, but even after sitting for hours and then being reheated in my oven, this pizza was without a doubt the best I've ever had, not just because there was bacon on it. I can only imagine what these irregularly shaped, slightly oversize pizzas, thin and ultra-crispy crust coal-fired pizzas would be like fresh. Even the pizza bones, the simple unvarnished, ungarnished crust edges, were unbelievably tasty with small areas almost carbonized by the coal fire.
I have to believe something good is going to happen soon, that somehow we’ll be able to buy the Tavern. It belongs to us. I think the house knows it too: as we walked up to it today, the back door swung open of its own accord. And every time I tried to open a door to the outside, it stuck. Even with damage from moves and tenants with 3 kids and a dog, we can see how we’ll live in it. If it was hard when someone else bought the Bayport Dragonfly house, I can’t imagine losing the Tavern.
I opened Pandora's box by going to see the Tavern yesterday. It was fine, wonderful and peaceful while we were there; we truly feel at home in the space. Leaving was difficult. I didn't want to leave, I could tell G didn't want to leave. Coming home, I had a black pit in my stomach, a feeling of loss and hopelessness. Today, I can't stop thinking about it. It didn't help that the map and floorplan that I picked up at the open house were still in my handbag. Then to discover there may be someone interested in the Gatehouse....
Will the departure open doors for me? Full time? Do I want that? Not that that question has any particularly merit as I’m still very cash poor and need to be able to pay all my bills. All my bills. But I do have concerns – the commute is longer than it was to Melville, and there is even less opportunity to get anything done at lunch. I’m bored, most days, which may change if I get more work. Or it could be work that keeps me busy but not fulfilled. I’m not sure which is the lesser evil right now.
I have to say, I really like the new Star Trek movie. I’m not such a Trekkie that I’m bothered by mucking about with the canon – after forty years, it is probably necessary to scrutinize everything and go your own way. Let’s face it, Start Trek was popular because of the characters and their exploration of human interaction, not because of the science and “facts” – so don’t let those stand in our way now. The new movie does keep the core of those characters intact, has much the same slightly off-hand humor and much better special effects and handknit garments.
I called it correctly, although the offer came even faster than I’d anticipated. A small bump in pay was offered, and the previous issues with going to professional association events in the city were dropped. I learned that certain other opportunities came through for the company, so perhaps they’ll now be able to give me things that really interest me. There was no question about accepting the offer, but I am not yet viewing this as home. G and I need to settle once and for all the question of staying on the Island or moving on to greener pastures.
It doesn't seem like Memorial Day weekend can possibly be here, for so many reason. The weather is at least trying to cooperate, giving us more sunshine and short-sleeve temperatures, but the threat of rain remains immanent. I am really looking forward to a three day weekend, but next Wednesday will be my last free day. But for these three days, I want to work in the garden, drink margaritas and finish knitting a sweater currently in the works, although not necessarily in that order. Oh, yeah, and read a book, bake, sleep and finish all my chores. Yeah, right!
I don't seem to be able to manage an early morning workout in the garden anymore. For the first few years from 7 to 9 on Saturday and Sunday mornings you could generally find me out in the garden, working away before it got to be too warm and too sunny. That hasn't been much of an issue this spring, but I do still need to be careful about exposure to the sun. I don't know if it is a function of age or recent events, but even if I get up early, I'm not out there until 10 AM.
Today was a perfect day: I made massive progress in the garden, snuggled with Geoffrey, put half of the seams into one of the sweaters that's been sitting around in pieces, and enjoyed margaritas and munchies while lounging in the back yard while the smell of smoke, peach, bourbon and beef mingle from the grill. The sun couldn't fully commit to bright sunshine all day, but the humidity was under control until after dark, when it did finally rain a bit. I would be happy if it stayed like this all summer, and I'm not just talking about the weather.
Although I've not been working fulltime, I still appreciate having a long weekend, especially with so little time off. A day off in the middle of the week is not quite as relaxing as a long weekend every week. I really wish that the new job had more time off – it would be easier to accept crappy insurance and low pay if you have time off to do things. In the last five years, I have lost much ground – even with going full time I'll be making less (and with less time off) than I had in 2000.
Pushed by a story about grilled goat burgers in Tarpley, Texas, I emailed an old, dear friend whom I haven't spoken to in about two years. I hope the email address is still right. I have been bad about keeping in contact with people in the last year or two, never mind the last six months. I may not have a close circle of local friends anymore, but I do have friends out there in the wider world, and the Internet makes keeping up with them simple and inexpensive, with very little effort. I just need to make the effort.
Although once again I could not get out of bed for an early morning pool run (what is wrong with me these days? I don't want to believe it is a product of age, but what?) it was nevertheless a productive day. I got chores done, we made a trip to Whole Foods in Manhasset, in part so that we – make that I – could try a variety of blue cheeses. And on this last Wednesday free, I watched an episode Gilmore Girls. Indulgence and productivity – that's what these last two months of Wednesdays have been all about.
I turned the radio on in the car this morning and went to satellite radio, not my usual process. And immediately heard Peter Godwin's Images of Heaven. A favorite song, but one you don't hear on the radio, even satellite. So hearing it, you stop to wonder, why now? Why today? Why did I deviate from routine and then hear this song? You immediately assign special importance to the event and begin to wonder if the day is going to be unusual or significant in some way. When it turns out to be a normal day, it is slightly disappointing.
Today was the final Knit Nite for my favorite local yarn store. It is – was - my favorite store not because of the yarn they carry, but because of the people. It was a good gathering, many people showed up. The Iowa Chocolate Cake and its story went over like gangbusters (where did that phrase come from?!). After sharing with these knitters the story of the recipe, I've decided it is time to start writing these family stories, even if there is no future generation. I can share some of them online, and perhaps something will come of that
Hanging out in the backyard this afternoon was very peaceful as the sun danced with the puffy white clouds, alternating between blazing sunshine and a muted glow. The next-door neighbors were not at home, so we felt comfortable siting outside, not on display. Of course, there were the sounds of lawnmowers, trimmers and blowers everywhere, so it wasn't entirely quiet. We were able to enjoy a late lunch of cheese, crackers, olives, nuts, cherry tomatos and gherkins with a small peach margarita, sitting at the table under the umbrella, almost a vacation in and of itself. Doing nothing feels good.
We wanted to love the house, one of four unusually distinctive homes in the neighborhood, sister to the one we saw in March. Geoffrey loved the outside with its stately brick and shutters. Inside, clearly a “decorator” lives there: wallpaper was everywhere and heavy drapes and valences obscured any light coming through the windows. The flow of rooms was not particularly interesting or attractive and the best feature of the house was the unfinished third floor, which was bright and airy, unlike the slightly funereal atmosphere everywhere else. Over-priced with ridiculously high taxes, there was little to attract us.
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