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Sometimes the news stories really put things in perspective. I am physically, mentally and emotionally capable of working, even if there are times when I feel a little broken. And I do have a job with health insurance, and other benefits: I will be getting that larger desk next to a window that opened up recently. Some days I feel so confined by my current workspace and with my back to next to an open doorway, it violates all the rules of being somewhere public. I have a job and the people here arenít crazy, so its all good.
Sometimes the oddest things set you off, remembering all the great family stories. Sometimes I contemplate actually writing this stuff down and publishing it. Letís face it, thereís some great stuff on Dadís side: great-great-grandad who was the first white settler in Jones Co., Iowa, the postmaster, then skipping down to dadís own family with the summer vacations including going down the Mississippi on a raft resulting in supremely stale marshmallows, Grandpaís varied career earning him the nickname ďThe MogulĒ and the family nickname traditions, Grandpaís ridged fingernail from a woodcarving accident.
Yarn Ho. What a concept! What do I do to support my yarn addiction?! And yet, it is too true Ė there is yarn I would do just about anything to have, the fiber type and color combination. I have struggled mightily to not buy yarn in general this year; I failed many times, although some times I successfully resisted. Or was thwarted. I suspect there will be a fair amount of yarn stuffs purchased this month, between the indie dyers and holiday specials. After a year of being good, I am going to throw caution to the wind this month.
I want a quiet weekend. I want to sleep late, although sleeping past 8 on a weekend morning is late for me. I want to rest and recuperate, but do chores so that I have a clean house to enjoy rather than being wigged out by the mess. I am starting to seriously contemplate holiday gift knitting, thereís not much time left, but I procrastinate and work on my purple cardi. I want entertainment, so we watch Three Days of the Condor. Through it all, I have a screaming headache, so I do sit quietly for most of the day.
My ideal Christmas gift knitting list goes something like this: lavender cashmere socks and mitts for mom, blue-grey superwash wool socks for G, grey alpaca socks and a forest green cashmere balaclava for dad, a purple/silver dressy lace scarf for Helene, cashmere/mink mitts for Lee, Audrey and the Coulson women. The thing is, I have all the yarn. I have patterns, except maybe for the balaclava. But aside from the nearly complete scarf for Helene, the only thing Iíve cast on so far is a single cashmere/mink mitt. I donít know how or where I acquired this delusion this year.
I am delighted to hear that your new shop is going very well and that your family has successfully made the transition to Tennessee. In the last year, I ventured to several different local yarn stores, but havenít found one that was as warm and welcoming as your shop was. I miss the monthly Friday night Knit Nites terribly; that is was the perfect time for me to escape the regular world and just enjoy the company of other knitters. Some good news - I have finally started to knit up the purple Malabrigo worsted I bought in your shop.
Mom sent an update on Grandma today - not good news. At this point, Grandma doesnít have much of a life. Sheís not mobile, sheís on meds that cause her to sleep most of the day, and when sheís awake, she doesnít necessarily have much awareness of the world around her. It is particularly difficult to assess how sheís really doing when no one can see her and at this point talking to her on a daily basis is not happening because of the meds. Its questionable that Grandma recognizes who we are when we do talk to her.
An old fashioned butcher, third generation in NYC, is giving lessons! I think it sounds like a perfect present for Geoffrey, something heíd be interested in, could learn about and do, and bring home the fruits of his labor, even if only for a day. He only seems half-interested though when I tell him about it. I donít know if it is because it is in the city, or heís distracted, or what. I wish something would catch his interest, something that he could pursue as a hobby, doing something, even if it is not a potential career path.
Two years ago was one of the worst days of my life. There is only one other day that so affected me, my outlook, my perception of my future, leading me to question my identity and place in the world. Looking back, I still regret that it happened, and wonder what life would be like today if that day had not happened, but I allow for the possibility that life is better today because that path ended. That change pushed me off the path I was going down, and that may be a very good thing in the long run.
Having run out of podcasts stored on the iPod, I switched gears and listened to some of my favorite music on the way home. Most unexpectedly, I was assailed by waves of sadness and longing. Sadness is not an emotion I equate with the songs or performer, so I couldnít figure out the source of this emotional distress. I tried to let whatever it was inside of me work its way out. I expected bad news about Grandma, but everything on that front was OK. I still donít quite understand it but attribute it to the start of Mercury retrograde.
A swing and a miss. Thatís what G called the sea captainís house that we saw today, one that on paper and in person fulfilled a lot of our checklist, but which didnít really excite us. We wanted to be excited, we wanted to fall in love, but didnít. Iím not sure why . . . there just wasnít that good, happy, ďcanít wait for it to be oursĒ vibe for us inside the house like there was for the Tavern. Even the Tavern isnít perfect but it would probably be a 85% match; today was only a 65% match.
I found the solution to close the gap between the front door and the frame. It was the one thing I really didnít want to use, but after three other more presentable methods failed, using compression foam tape was the only option left. It is still not perfect, I need to fiddle with it a bit more, but there is noticeably less of a draft coming in. Which means I can sit in my chair in relative comfort. The kitchen window is the next thing I need to address so that we donít have to spend the winter being cold
No yarn for me today Ė I donít know whether to be pleased or cry. I hate waiting for shop updates from indie dyers Ė the website infrastructure inevitably cannot handle the volume, the shopping carts freak out, you donít know whatís actually in stock, and youíre fighting seconds on the clock. I was there on the dot, yet I still was not able to get any skeins into my cart, it all registered as sold out. Just how many skeins were there to start with? It leaves a bad taste in my mouth, it is why I gave up on Sundara.
There doesnít appear to be any major affects from the mercury retrograde, at least not yet, however, I have two contracts in progress at the office and nothing is exactly moving fast with them. I donít feel as confused and discombobulated as I did in the September retrograde, and the biggest decision Iím likely to make personally in this period is what to get G for Christmas, so perhaps Iíll be spared any major trauma this time. Being aware of the impending arrival and departures of retrograde periods has helped, but I wish there was only one retrograde a year.
Driving back today, I didnít get to see much of Newport Ė the sun always seemed to be in my eyes as I crossed the bridges, but the ferry across the Sound was an interesting ride. Kind of like an amusement park ride: slowly up, more quickly down, then side to side. A couple of the younger kids on the boat looked a little green, but I donít know that any of them actually tossed up their cookies. Iím sure some people were upset by it, but the crew never looked concerned, it was just kind of fun.
A bad penny house keeps turning up on the market. It hits most, if not all, of our checklist wishes, but it just doesnít feel right. The price has dropped drastically, yet if the work hasnít been done on the house, if things have just been cleaned up, it still isnít the right price, at least not for us. Then we discover thereís a bidding war Ė a day after the house is on the market? Somethingís afoot; we wish the new owners the best of luck, but it wonít be us buying the house.
I canít quite believe thereís only a week until Christmas. It seems like I was just in Norfolk, returning for the Labor Day weekend. Iíve done some shopping, done some knitting, but Iím not entirely sure what Iím getting for who at this point, but I clearly need to buckle down and sort it out this weekend or nothing will arrive on time. I have almost no ideas for Geoffrey, which is something of a problem every year, but this year it is worse, Iíve only come up with one ďrealĒ idea for him. Heís as bad as Grandpa B.
Every year as I sit down to send out my Christmas cards, the list gets smaller. Several years ago I started culling the list, excising people whom I never heard from, or those that only communicated sporadically online. I donít think the list has had any new additions in at least five years now. The circle is shrinking, not expanding, which I suppose is normal at this stage of life, but do I keep hoping it is going to expand somehow. Or at least, stay steady for a year or two, as this list was so small to begin with.
I realized this morning that everything has to ship tomorrow or thereís no chance of arriving before the holiday. The baking is done for the pre-holiday shipments. The knitting, it was not so much done at the start of the day. A fair amount of the day was spent knitting, not a bad way to spend the day, but not so much when youíre striving for perfection. When I finally cast it off the needles, I still had to wash and dry the thick cashmere, which seemed to take forever. Finishing details always take longer than you expect.
Turning back the aging process by activating an enzyme that protects the chromosome tips! It is straight out of Heinlein. Could it be? Someday? In my lifetime? Would I want it if it were available and I was in my twilight years? Having read the cautionary tale, I am not certain. It is difficult to know if we tire of life or if we tire of not being able to live fully. You would need a broad social circle for support. I think of Grandma and wonder Ė if she were able to be with her family, would she want rejuvenation?
Winter solstice is to me, less a joyous, party time holiday, than a test of my endurance. Many years I have not participated in this ritual of watching over a lit candle through the longest night of the year, to ensure that the sun returns on the following morning, but Iíve done it a few times. It has always been a solitary pursuit, and this year was no different. The quiet hours of the long night were spent knitting, writing, catching up on some online forums and brightened by the light of the full moon that peeked through the windows.
Every year I forget just how crazy and self-centered people become when driving this time of year. Yesterday I was glad to get home in one piece. Today it would seem everyone took the day off and is trying to finish shopping. I canít quite fathom the need to move that fast and carelessly when driving Ė in a PARKING lot. I bet the rude factor goes up exponentially the closer it gets to 6 pm on December 24th. Iíd like to just hole up and go nowhere, but there are errands and last minute presents to get.
Driving around the area after dinner tonight, our annual pilgrimage to look at the holiday lights and decorations, we went past the new construction house that we had looked at this summer. A car was in the driveway and there were lights up on the porch Ė the new owners have moved in. It probably shouldnít surprise me, although they just closed at the beginning of the month. Theyíre in their new house in time for Christmas Ė it is a very nice thought, honestly, even if Iím more than a little envious, both of that fact and of their new house.
Today was a busy day of holiday preparations. I was racing to finish both the keyhole scarf for Lee and Sock the First for G, but both were done and wrapped with plenty of time, rather amazingly. I made more biscotti today, and really think Iíve got this mastered. The crucial part is recognizing that I donít have enough space to handle a double batch, I must do single batches. But now that they arenít such a messy pain, doing them more often is possible. No space in the freezer means G will be getting IOU coupons for his goodies.
Melding different holiday traditions is still something of a work in progress, and not surprisingly, Christmas is the biggest set of differences. I grew up in a time/place where watching television on Christmas morning simply was not done. Breakfast was at a respectable hour, allowing the adults to wake up slowly before the shredding of giftwrap and ribbons began. Dinner was early afternoon, allowing ample time to drive home in daylight. City life celebrations, and our household, run on a later schedule, but I didnít calculate the pacing correctly this year. Must remember for next year: no waiting for breakfast.
Boxing day with a blizzard. It would appear thereís no likelihood of going to the office tomorrow, as the snow started today in earnest by early afternoon and is expected to go through tomorrow morning. We made it a very lazy day, lounging about, poking about the internet (and other things), reading, knitting I did manage to do one load of laundry! As the wind literally howled, and windows shook with the winds traveling at highway speed, we had soup and leftovers for dinner, and wished desperately for a fireplace: yesterdayís Yule Log yesterday was unsatisfactory in every way.
It is truly a winter wonderland today. My holiday from the commute continues as I worked from home today. We spent a full hour digging out the porch, the steps and a path to my car and then digging out the driveway, fighting the wind and freezing temperatures. In the end, we were rescued by a neighbor with a snowblower who dealt with the hard and crusty bits at the end of the driveway. I didnít quite feel cold when I first came in, but despite hot shower and dry clothes, I spent the rest of the day feeling cold.
My head is swimming with work. The Norfolk project is floundering, I donít see how on earth weíll get it done by end of January. I should be reviewing documents for other projects tonight, at home, but Iím so tired after dinner, I half-heartedly surf the internet instead. The work week only has two days remaining, but they are looming large, and I canít quite fathom what the first week in January will be like Ė never mind the interruptions of our holiday party and a doctorís visit. Its been a long time since I felt this in the hole.
The beautiful colors and textures of yarn do inspire me. I can easily get caught in a web of contemplation, of imagination, wondering what this pile of string could become. It is a peaceful, happy passion, one that fulfills the inner me, my spirit, my soul. Not quite like the passion that descends when talking about the subject matter that is my job. That is often a tense, almost angry kind of passion, Iíve recently come to realize, an unhealthy passion. It allows me to earn a living because Iím good at it; it isnít what I want to do.
At the end of the year, I make my round of monetary donations. My undergraduate college has been on the list every year except for one or two scary years when I didnít know how I was going to pay the rent or the mortgage. In recent years, Iíve also been giving to Doctors Without Borders, spurred by the Yarn Harlots Knitters without borders. Last year we watched as the cumulative amount crept up and then past the one million dollar mark. Donating has been a casual thing, but this year I have started thinking about how to do more.
It is the end of another year. What did I do with it? What do I want in the new year? I know this time of year many of us become reflective and make resolutions, but I have generally avoided resolutions. I prefer to think in terms of goals for my personal development: what do I want to achieve, what kind of person do I want to become, how do I envision my life Ė am I on track for those kind of goals? What aspect have I missed? Do I even still want the same things Iíve been working for?
The Tip Jar