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In my head, Powells was this truly amazing bookstore: huge, and they have everything. The reality was both less and more; NYC bookstores have apparently spoiled me. The knitting selection was amazing, I wanted to spend an hour there. The Rare Book room was... simply wonderful, even if the staffer there was less than friendly. But the Portland postcard selection was... nearly pitiful. I only saw a small number of magazines. There was really no place to sit and take a look at books before buying them. But I saw one of Helene’s books in the wild, in POWELLS!!
Receiving the award wasn’t really a ceremony, and the award was nothing more than a piece of paper, about what I was expecting. After an hour of forcing myself to mingle at the evening reception with mediocre hors d’oeuvres I headed out for dinner. Lunch was odd and unsatisfactory, I need a decent meal tonight. I found a wonderful little modern Italian place a few blocks away and sat outside in the courtyard while the heat of the day slowly cooled. My lovely dinner: salad with beets, hazelnuts and baked ricotta, followed by handmade pasta with beef cheeks.
Tonight I was solo for dinner again. We got back to the hotel early, so I decided to take my street car tour of Portland – to make the big loop all the way around, and to try the local burger joint that was so recommended with marion berry shakes. The shake was pretty damn good, the onion rings needed just a minute more to truly soften, and the burger was, in fact, a disappointment. But walking around more hipster areas of Portland than downtown and the Pearl was interesting, even if my feet eventually gave out before the daylight did.
Portland reminds me a lot of how Chicago and New York were thirty years ago. Homeless living everywhere, especially in the parks. Which means the parks, and streets, smell of piss. There’s dog and other poop visible everywhere. An indie vibe often flares into outright flying the freak flag just because they can. And everywhere I look, I see white people. Where is real diversity, the mix of every possible combination of skin color I am used to in New York? I had the impression that as a Very Left City there would be more diversity in the population.
For the first time in nearly ten years of business travel with this company, I had some real fun visiting a new city. Blue Star donuts: the dough is extremely well made, but I want more? / better? flavors. The tea flight with Morgan was really nice – never mind trains passing literally right along side the shop. Shalom Y’all would have been even better with another person to share more small plates with. I visited a yarn store with new-to-me yarn. I just wish I’d had enough time & energy to see both the Japanese and Chinese gardens.
The wedding dress fits, though it is a bit long. The shoes –all of them-- were, eventually, after much grubbing about on knees, found. I have the shawl and evening bag. I didn’t find a necklace for the purple dress that was in my budget, so I will probably go with the small, delicate pearl necklace from himself, none of my amethyst necklaces seem quite right. I have ordered the undergarment for the silk dress. Does this mean I am ready to go forth and be well dressed at TheVermontWedding? Which I still think of as Bonfire of the Vanities.
There is an LSG thread on Ravelry about not buying shit you don’t need. I aspire to really belong to that thread. I won't say I have stopped buying yarn but I have significantly slowed my purchases over the last few years. Mostly. If I don't look, I don't buy it, that's the first step. With very few exceptions I am not adding to my stash, with an exceptions of course for the Maine retreat and anything I can get from Indigodragonfly. Hey, I have another skein of her yarn, maybe it is time to cast on a new scarf?
Would it be terrible to say that my most favorite part of the weekend was visiting King Arthur? I mean, yes, we were tired. The coffee –like all coffee in Vermont, apparently - lacked any finesse and refinement. But the pastries were lovely. And the store… I wanted to buy one of each. I did point out the item that would make it a very happy future birthday, and I happen to know it came home with us. But the drive back, and lunch at the Cromwell Diner, were both further disappointments. And no Pepe’s for us or the freezer.
In the grand tradition of Knit Nite, tonight I brought my yarns from Portland for show & tell. We all do it whenever we buy something new. Especially if it is a yarn we haven’t seen in person before, or that isn’t readily sourced locally. It could be seen as showing off, but I prefer to think of it as the Knit Nite Yarn Club experience: enjoy so many new yarns without having to spend money or go anywhere! We pass the skeins around, so everyone can fondle and pet them, and there are questions about colors and planned projects.
I think I was right. It is a modern Bonfire of the Vanities, indeed. There was no warmth or actual welcome in our greeting from the groom’s parents before the gathering. The cocktail hour was fine, and the nibbly bits were yummy, but dinner? Massive centerpieces that obscured the view across the tables. And made it impossible to see the parade of the happy couple’s friends who presented a seemingly constant stream of speeches that were, in fact, rather damning. The groom’s father played MC, clearly enjoying his role. And yes, VW was there, in all her black goth glory.
The bride was beautiful. The groom looked like he just rolled out of bed and put a jacket on. VW wore red instead of black. Dinner tonight had a whole different vibe, and the tent looked magical as evening turned into night. Bill was warmer and friendlier in the role of MC than I would have expected, and we chatted through dinner. Friends of the bride’s family were lovely, the groom’s family was seemingly in exile. We left early, not prepared to sit through another hour of rockin’ dance tunes just to get a slow dance. If it ever happened.
So that was really stupid. I just posted my entry for this day – Sunday, August 12 – to Wednesday, August 8 because I wasn’t paying attention. That’s what happens when you’re not paying attention because husband says something that causes a double take, a question, and then gales of laughter. Oh, well, there are definitely worse things in life than having a spouse that makes you laugh inappropriately. Never mind, it gives me another chance to look back at the breakfast pastries there were so yummy. Breakfast pastries at Saturday morning room service at the Woodstock Inn were pretty fine too.
I took today off, knowing I wasn’t going to be ready to head directly back to The Office. As nearly every kitchen surface was covered with tomatoes, we began the work of slicing them and roasting them in the oven. They are so damn good that way, I probably ate three tomatoes that way. As we worked through the tomatoes, he raised the idea. Pulling up stakes and heading north to a piece of property where we could really garden, have fruit trees and not see our neighbors at all. Um, yeah – and very much sooner rather than later, baby.
Ruth Reichl tweets are essentially small meditations on her morning or about a meal. They are almost haiku and very definitely Zenlike. I aspire to do something like that in this space, rather than ranting about the children at the office or other petty observations of the mundane world. I used to be able to do that, when I was writing in the morning, sitting on the train with my coffee, scribbling notes down on paper. This is not supposed to be my journal, but I guess it becomes whatever I need it to be. Shades of the Rolling Stones.
I have never been tempted to read Thoreau’s Walden, however listening to podcast on what it was all about was oddly interesting. Not a self-help book, manual or instruction set for life, but rather about how to engage with life after a period of reflection. Perhaps there is something there. In keeping with the “don’t buy shit I don't need” mantra I should go to the library for a copy. Perhaps I will take that up to Maine with me for some quiet reading, listen to the water and reflect upon what it is that I truly want from life.
This was a very personal knit nite, just the two of us. We have completely different conversations when it is just us. That is to say, she actually talks. Most of the time she is essentially quiet, except when she has a problem with her knitting. She listens intently to everything though, we’ve all learned that. And sometimes, we sit peaceably, listening to the other Panera patrons around us, and have entire conversations about them without saying a word. For whatever reason, I can just BE around her. I rant too, so she probably knows details I’d rather forget.
Miss H is having a hard time of it. Something seemed a little off in December, but I really had no idea. There’s absolutely nothing I can do to help, on either side of the equation, personal or professional. The professional thing is disappointing, and yet somehow, in this day and age of PC over-correctness, not so surprising. The personal thing somehow seems part of a larger, longer spectrum and so maybe could have been anticipated. But if it had been anticipated, the only way to avoid it would have required a completely different path over the last two decades.
In the pool in the late afternoon, cooling off in the best way possible. Himself is riveted by something and as I follow his gaze, I see it but don’t quite recognize at first what it is I’m looking at. It was a hummingbird. I don’t think I’ve ever seen one in our yard before – only at my parents’ house. It was quite dull colored, but there was no doubt by the size, shape and steady hovering what it was. We watched for a few minutes before it flew off into the trees. Add another wildlife species to the list.
August is supposed to be the dog days of summer. But the only dog that relates to today’s weather - grey, slightly cooler, still on the humid side – is a Weimaraner. Ha! But seriously, after thinking all day yesterday that it was Sunday (and that Friday was Saturday) today should be a bonus day, right? Sunday afternoons are not terribly relaxing in my book, particularly in summer – so two in a row is worse. I was working on chores right up until dinner. I did get shit done, made progress, but it wasn’t a relaxing Sunday afternoon at all.
This morning brought another soft, grey day. It would be wonderful if it weren’t a Monday in August. Although still humid, it is quite a bit cooler. This is exactly the kind of day that makes me want to stay in bed, wake up gracefully without an alarm, linger over coffee and then spend the day reading, knitting, puttering around the house, without any major chores or activities. One could argue I’ve spent the last three days doing mostly that, but I think I could spend a week doing that just to fully decompress. I need a staycation.
A week after the original discussion that made my heart flutter, the topic surfaces again. At the risk of scaring him off, I send a few links to houses in the area that are representative of what we’d be looking for. There are several options that easily fit our budget that don’t require significant renovation. Neither of us wants that, but would open up even more options. At the end, I sent him the house that, well, set me off like The Tavern and Timothy House, made me willing to overlook a location issue. His reaction was nearly the same.
I cast on another shawl today, in Indigodragonfly yarn: color, soft yarn, and an easy pattern. I need an alternative to the lilac shawl, which isn’t so soft now, I sure hope it changes on washing. I will find time this weekend to finish the linen/cashmere summer tee, since summer is nearly over. So that I can start fall sweater knitting – possibly by frogging the back of my Charlie cardigan and reknitting it. I need to block my finished scarves, and set up patterns for those swatches I have ready to go. It’s a combination of fall cleanout and startitis.
After months of saying I should, I finally googled how to how to synch Notes across selected devices. I was befuddled by all the write-ups that were just that: write ups, with no pictures. And I stared at my screen for long minutes, trying to make sense of those write ups. I finally decided there must be another view in Notes, and kept poking about. I’m trying to really get organized about what needs to get done, in what priority, and set some long and short term goals and a daily reflection (aka: this space). Without buying a pre-fab journal.
Got out of bed at my usual “Not driving to the office but working today” time, looked out the window at the pool, as I’ve been amusing myself with the gentle perambulations and configurations of the three balls that reside there. I was startled by the sudden deep beating of large wings and an unusual vocalization. A blur began lifting off from the right, just out of view and streaked across the frame, rising and heading south out of the yard. I sat stunned while my brain processed the round body and huge tail feathers – that was a wild turkey!
Late yesterday, he brought it up again, and we talked rather seriously about the possibility. He is considering an option to make it happen that I hadn’t even thought of. But if it opens the way to realizing this possibility, I am game for it. It would be a massive change in our lives. It would bring us much close to nature. And tonight, for the first time ever, we heard the unmistakable call of a loon calling somewhere close by. I realize how much I enjoy our encounters – however peripheral – with wildlife. But they are limited in this environment.
I want a house with a view. To be able to see nature across the valley, or the mountains in the distance, or whatever – just to know that you live within a landscape. Right now our view is upwards to the sky, to the planes and paraglider-buzzing things that constantly crawl across it, that is our only view now. We are boxed in on all sides, trying create a sense of privacy in the back yard, with five houses that have potential views in to our space. It cannot be a sanctuary when you always feel others are watching you.
It’s so easy to focus on things that are wrong or that irk or upset me - those things seem to stand out to me. They leap off the page, or drown out the other things someone may be saying. It’s not pretty, but there it is: I have a hard time diverting my attention away from the bad. It makes me good at thinking about managing risk, or how systems could be abused or have unintended consequences. It’s taken me a long time to understand that by definition that doesn’t mean I’m a bad leader.
This month I have done a better job at keeping up with the daily journal or meditation or whatever it is that I'm doing in this space. Recording in the morning has helped. I was spurred on by research that shows morning meditation or reflection is critical to achieving goals. I'm not doing it first thing in the morning, but if I can take a few minutes in the morning to reflect before my head becomes filled with the crap of work, following up with doctors or harassing vendors to actually respond to requests, I write better, more interesting words.
My Twitter feed has started filling up with Dragon*Con notices – who won’t be there, program changes, the sort. I realize the weekend is upon us: Atlanta is invaded by geeks of all kinds on Labor Day weekend. Once again, I suddenly and desperately want go and be wild and stay up late and drink and let my freak flag fly in costume. Has it been fifteen years since I was last there? It doesn’t seem possible. My memories are amazingly fresh. But the Internet and Twitter have to make it so much easier to handle the merry-go-round that is Dragon*Con.
I am not going to rant. Also, I will not be going to knit night tonight. There might be a corollary between those two statements. One might infer a causation. I want to rant, don’t get me wrong, I want very badly to let loose with a monster rant, including all sorts of swearing. However. A rant won’t change the situation, which is why at 4:00 PM I went from being “on track” to being “hours away” from being able to deliver a contract requirement to a customer tomorrow before noon. A rant will just make my blood boil more.
As my reward for surviving this week, I played with yarn this afternoon. I was looking for the nearly completed project I set aside at the start of summer, and two specific yarns for swatching. I have decided that I need a “mindless knit” sweater project, and the one I have in mind wants a particularly drape to the yarn and I knew of two good candidates somewhere in the stash. I had to look at the project bags, recent yarn purchases and nearly forgotten stash. I want to knit all.the.things now. Swatching one dreamy yarn tonight was truly loverly.
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