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I love the April Fools Day post at King Arthur Flour. It is very helpful for those of us baking in our spare time to see the problems that happen to people who spend all day baking and testing recipes. Accidents like forgetting half the flour, leaving a roll in the oven for hours, bread rising out of control, or sticking to the form, slivers of cake gone missing before it is frosted for presentation - well, you get the idea. Next time my cake sticks to the pan I will not beat myself up over it … as much.
I thought knitting socks was supposed to be relaxing. Comfort knitting. This is anything but, if you ask me. I'm just about ready to give up on this whole process. I'm working on the easy, unpatterned socks right now, hoping to get over the bump and get one sock that fits and then take it from there. The yarn is a little splitty, but working on such tiny needles is the real problem in all actuality. I dream of having both of these pairs done so that I can knit on my own projects without feeling one iota of guilt.
You just can’t make this stuff up. It was like a comedy of errors that played out live in front of us, except it was so very disappointing. Yes, it is Easter/Passover weekend and the place is mobbed with families – but doesn’t your staffing plan account for that? G and I talked on our own about what it would take to turn this place around and I think we have a good handle on what is necessary. And it led me again to think that if we ran a small inn or B&B, it would truly be a stellar place.
It has really been a mini-vacation this weekend. We actually did things, went to ‘cultural institutions’ and walked around, played tourist, stuffed ourselves with delicious treats and slept late. The pool was too crowded to enjoy this time around, but we were out and about during the day, enjoying the glorious weather. We drove down several country lanes in very posh New Canaan and Bedford, gawking at the houses and sprawling lawns in the late afternoon sun of early spring. A few more days of this and I might be ready to consider going back to work. Oh, wait. . . .
Reality can be so harsh. Especially when it entails a five day work week. I would really like to spend a week or twenty just doing as I please. We already know most of what that means: baking, knitting, gardening. But I would also like to have time for reading, which I don't seem to be doing much of lately – I'm too tired weeknights, and weekends I have been otherwise occupied. I'd like to get to the pool without having to choose what else isn't getting done. Why do I seem to have less time now than ever before?
Listening to the podcast, learning about recent research about happiness, I remembered that I should be working on improving my outlook, being honest about what makes me happy. Sometimes I use this space to rant and rave, which is sometimes cathartic, but I wonder if it just fuels the unhappy feelings in the long run. I used to try very hard to find one positive thing to write about every day, and most days I managed to do just that. I need to reset my focus in my writings here, to go deeper into my inner life and my desires.
Today I had my first ride in a stretch limousine. Apparently the car service the office uses was overbooked and I was the lucky recipient of the stretch. It was a very odd sensation, looking at it out on my street, thinking, “That can't be for me.” Too bad I wasn't able to really kick back and enjoy the rock start treatment on the way to the airport, have a drink while cruising down the highway, but I did enjoy all the space, even if the radio absolutely sucked and there was no real control for the air conditioning.
Standing between a C-124 Globemaster II and a B-52 Stratofortress, I find it difficult to believe that constructs this size can actually fly. And realizing that there are even larger planes today, I shake my head in wonder and disbelief. Yet if the rules of physics actually allow for such flying fortresses, what else do they allow? What other seemingly impossible things or conditions have we not yet discovered that would radically change our point of view, our understanding of what is possible, transforming the magical into repeatable and understood science? And will our lives be better for that transformation?
Point to point travel when flying is always preferable, even if it means being on a smaller plane. Why get on, get off, hang around an airport, get on and get off again, allowing more opportunities for delay? I was stunned to learn that there was a direct flight option and delighted that our return trip was changed to put us on that flight. Yes, it means less opportunity for knitting, unfortunately, but correspondingly less sitting in uncomfortable seats, which is the most important thing, especially today. I have real doubts if I will be able to save my back.
I had to smile, somewhat wryly, at the use of the phrase “mistress of my own house” as I considered how different the concept is now from the middle of the 18th century. I was carrying a basket of laundry as the words floated from the television, spoken by the character of Emily Lennox in the Aristocrats miniseries. I thought of the long list of chores that I was making my way through for today, which would have been handled by servants, not the mistress, in Emily's time. I, too, would like to be mistress of my own house.
I know what I want, but after a few forays, discover that it doesn’t seem to exist at this time. If it’s something of great importance to me, I’ll do research online and in person to see what does exist. If it’s something that isn’t of great of great importance to me, but is a matter of convenience and needs to be resolved now, I figure it is not worth the additional investment of my time looking for exactly what I want (as I’ve already ascertained it is not commonly available), and will compromise on what best meets the requirements.
Everything that grows is now sporting at least a fringe of color – green, white, pink, fuscia. Forsythia is turning green. The magnolia, cherry and apple blossoms are out in force. Some of the trees have actual leaves out, going from fringe to canopy. Tulip buds are visible, colors bleeding through the buds in anticipation. The earth is alive. Yet I feel like death warmed over. I am still comatose after the trip. I’m unbelievably tired, yawning all the time. My back is on the verge of giving out, but since it hasn’t yet, perhaps I can manage to save it.
Some days, I'm not sure if it is my memory going, or just living in flux that has me uncertain of what I've done, what I'm doing, or what I need to do. I used to make lists just to assist in prioritizing things; I now need to make lists to understand what still needs to be done and if I did it or not. I rely on the emailed confirmations from online orders to help me remember if I did order, and if so, when it should arrive. And when a website doesn't send an email confirmation, I'm lost.
What was I afraid of as a child? What monsters lived under my bed, or in my closet? I remember Witchy and how I hated and feared her, especially when I had to make my way to the bathroom at night. I remember being very afraid of fire, and being very afraid I would someday die by fire. There was the tree shadow that looked like an army soldier with a gun, that I was sure was a real soldier with a real gun coming to get me. There was probably more, but those are the fears I still remember.
I fell off the yarn wagon today in a moment of weakness and bought some very pretty skeins in limited quantity that was on sale online, but I didn't spend too much. I have a plan for this yarn, however, which dictated the colorways I purchased, and I'm pretty sure that the women in my life will enjoy their Christmas presents this year, assuming I get them knit! They should be rather easy and short projects to knit, much more enjoyable than socks. Even though I'm planning ahead, I need to knit the sample soon, before it gets too warm.
I had an “aha” moment yesterday. I've had the yarn for about a year now. I've been eyeing the pattern for a year now. Until yesterday, however, I never associated the two with each other, although now I'm convinced they were made for each other. I need to find the yarn swatch I did and reknit it to be sure. Hell, I need to find the yarn, period. My closet is overflowing, so I really do have to stay on the wagon and knit a bunch of this stuff this year. My goal: to knit three sweaters this summer.
I’ve finally started reaching out to others again, trying to keep contact going with my somewhat far-flung group. I’ve been very remiss about it lately, absolutely awful since early March. Many days I don’t feel like talking or writing to anyone. I’m not sure I understand why this is, although I do think it is a relatively recent development, rather closely aligned with starting work at my current job. I know I feel a lack of privacy working in the shared office with my back to the door, and a seemingly out-of-proportion joy when I have the office to myself.
I am trying hard to get back in a routine with the housecleaning. I am truly a happier person when my living area is clean and neat, no dust bunnies or herds of cat fur. At the moment, I'm working it doing it on the weekends because I can't seem to deal with it in the evenings after work. I used to do all my housework on weeknights when I first moved to the city, the weekends were my special time to have fun, whether that was playing in the city, or curling up with a book in my apartment.
Opportunity comes knocking around again, one of those vague, “I don’t know it will ever happen, but gee, wouldn’t it be cool if it did” kind of opportunities. I always listen, give them a fighting chance, and generally walk away slightly wistful when it doesn’t happen. I’ve been tracking this opportunity, in one guise or another, for more than five years now, with a couple of different people. I’m intensely interested to hear how mature it is now, and willing to roll up my sleeves for some extra hours (giving me dollars in my pocket) to push it to fruition.
As we talk, possibilities begin to unfold before me; I had forgotten that she was trained as an Episcopal chaplain. I am jaundiced about the interest of companies, but perhaps that is due to the specific companies I have dealt with. Her vision of a workplace sounds very tempting yet I cannot truly imagine it or what it would be like to be a part of it. I don't think I can let myself see it, because then I would be absolutely miserable now. Her parting inquiry is about the opportunity I have dreamed of for the last five years.
An awkward day of working from home, traveling, then business dinner. I am both wired and spent by the time I land back in my hotel room. Reading doesn't distract me, so I start knitting while watching Food Inc. which is airing on PBS. In the end, I'm not sure this was a wise choice, but the knitting is lace on very small needles, so I only partially pay attention. Coming from a family that had a Century farm in Iowa, I have definite opinions on farming and the need for competition and biodiversity; all kinds of monocultures are bad.
Some days you just gotta ask yourself, what was the point? Why did we drag ourselves through this? Why did we --why do we-- bother at all? And yet, the point of human life is not in the actual outcome, but in the struggle to achieve. This is true in business as well as the very personal: as we say in my field, it is not a destination, it is a journey. OK, so the road ahead is constantly changing and your abilities are likewise changing, and the game may change based on your efforts, if not the outcome.
I saw some wisteria in DC (or I think it was wisteria: I registered seeing the right color in the right pattern, but didn’t really have time to focus on it) and today I realized that the wisteria here is blooming. I want a house with wisteria – I love it, I can’t explain why. I know that I will probably have to be the one to plant it, we won’t find a house with mature wisteria that meets all of our other criteria. But I know that G really likes it too, so there shouldn’t be any discussion about it.
I have to at least look at the pretty colors before half the cones are swept away. I was tempted, and then tempted again and so I bought more yarn. In substantial quantities. But in such very pretty colors, blues, pinks and purples with names like lilac jelly bean, rosa, bermuda, quartz.... I want to knit with them all right now, never mind the season is shifting away from wool to linen. I want to cruise my patterns, knit swatches, and create. I have some lovely vest type tunics, one pullover and one cardi, already planned in my head.
Walking through the house again, there are more closets than I remembered. And as no one is living here at this time, it is spotless, with very little “stuff” cluttering the space and surfaces. It is as I prefer to live, and apparently Geoffrey as well. So why do we have so much stuff? Books, music, cooking stuff – I get why we have all that; and watches and yarn, as well. Why collect trinkets and flashlights, toys and amusements, candles, souvenirs and reminders? That stuff has to go somewhere or be donated away promptly or it must eternally occupy space.
This was a grey day all around – cloudy, rainy, cold; what a way to start the week. I joked – sort of – that my brain was as soggy as the day: I tried three times to type a word correctly and I had to try multiple times to paste something into the correct location on a document. It was as if there was a three-way disconnect between my brain, eyes and fingers. Every time I got started on a certain project, I got distracted and so I never got it done. I think this must be the “height” of the retrograde.
Most times, people seem to really like the weirdness that is Geoffrey and I talking together, discussing something. Real estate agents seem to love us, as do waitresses. I don’t know if the electrical contractor guy was plumb tuckered out after a run into the city, or just an absolutely straight arrow, but I don’t think he ever cracked a smile other than when saying hello. We’re pretty sure he was just confused by our banter. And it was pretty mild stuff – we were just getting excited by the idea of a bathroom vent or having AC in the bedroom.
Reading Diana’s blog about her adventures and that she is starting up the yarn shop in her new hometown in August, I felt surprisingly rather wistful about her Long Island shop. Perhaps I feel the lack of community and desire to run my own shop more strongly right now because I’m hardly knitting. I’ve been thinking lately, which would I rather do: own a yarn shop and design patterns, or turn consultant for a decent wage and working out of my house most of the time? If everything else – money – were equal, I know the answer. But it isn’t equal.
What would it be like to have a vent in the bathroom? A light or ceiling fan in the living room? To have an air conditioner cooling down the bedroom on a hot summer night? Or to have enough light to see the entire basement? These are the small things I dream of, yet I know that these projects are likely to involve replacing ceilings, repairing walls and repainting rooms, at the very least. These are the hidden costs of the project to rewire (at least in part) the house. But the place would be so much more liveable afterwards.
It is a quiet Beltane eve this year. Even though it is a beautiful Friday night, there's no celebration, nothing really special, except indulging myself by ordering the knitter's bag I have been eyeing for months now, and watching the Madonna episode of Glee. I am catching up on little things tonight, more directed than simple puttering, but not a full throttle productive mode. My major accomplishment will be staying awake past midnight so that I can "Tanz in den Mai," to usher in Beltane and all the ripeness it promises; I could use a little of that these days.
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