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Monthly Archives: November 2011

Lyrical Wednesday

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I had a lovely afternoon yesterday. The sun was out and I got my work done early and headed to one of my favorite parks for a walk, then met my friend Linda for a sit ‘n knit followed by a decadent dinner of fabulous pizza.

Linda was the primary catalyst, a few years ago, for my transformation–and that’s not too big or grandiose a word–from recluse to what I am now. I don’t know what she saw then, but she embraced my reclusive self and helped bring me out of my fog of loneliness.  This stanza from When One Has Lived a Long Time Alone by the poet Galway Kinnell beautifully describes that state of being, that aloneness I lived in for most of my life, and the promise that one can come back to one’s own. I hope you find meaning in these words, too.

 

When one has lived a long time alone,

and the hermit thrush calls and there is an answer,

and the bullfrog head half out of water utters

the cantillations he sang in his first spring,

and the snake lowers himself over the threshold

and creeps away among the stones, one sees

they all live to mate with their kind, and one knows,

after a long time of solitude, after the many steps taken

away from one’s kind, toward these other kingdoms,

the hard prayer inside one’s own singing

is to come back, if one can, to one’s own,

a world almost lost, in the exile that deepens,

when one has lived a long time alone.

An extravagant gift

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I gave myself a gift last night, and it didn’t break the budget. In fact, it didn’t cost me a thing. Cool, huh?

I turned off my computer. I watched a little retro TV, then turned that off, had a nice warm shower, and crawled into bed to read and doze and shut off the lights before midnight, and I slept well. Ahhhh.

It’s been a while since I’ve given myself a computer-free night, and while the temptation to get online and check my email and Facebook and the blog stats was there last night, I resisted, and I’m glad I did. I needed that little respite from being plugged in so much of my day, from sitting hunched over the keyboard and mousing and typing and constantly surfing. Sometimes, I really have to wonder just what it is I’m looking for during all those hours online. Sometimes, I wonder if my life has become such a void that I can only live it in an artificial construct. And sometimes I think too much, but I still say that’s better than thinking too little.

I’m constantly reminding myself that the computer and the internet are tools, but they’re not real life. They allow me to keep in contact with near and far-away friends whose presence in my life enhance it, they offer me near-instant information and entertainment/timesucks, but they are not real life.

I know, I know—I may be shooting myself in the foot here when I say it’s a good thing to shut your damn computer off once in a while and try to forget it, and the phone, and the TV, and whatever other gadgets pull you in. I wouldn’t have my blog or the readers I have—and just an aside here, but I’m still astonished that anyone looks at this thing, but I’m grateful that you do, whoever you are!—without the internet. I get that. But it’s not real life.

For all the happiness I’ve derived from the internet—I’ve met so many friends online, and I met Mr. F online—it’s brought me misery in near-equal measure, too. Having your relationship end via a Facebook message stinks. Ask me how I know. Hours and hours have been wasted online that could have been used more wisely, and even as I’m sitting here now typing away, there’s a beautifully sunny day beckoning me. I think I need to heed that call.

So, I’m giving myself another extravagantly free gift today, and I’m shutting off my computer and getting out to enjoy this day. It’ll do me good.

Don’t worry–I’m a pro!

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Procrastinator, that is.

Isn’t it funny that the prefix could be taken to mean both approval and a level of mastery? The true etymology of the word doesn’t allow for those interpretations, but still—I approve and I’m a little too good at it.

That old witticism about never doing today what can be put off until tomorrow hits me right where I live. Take my work, for example. I’m lucky just to have a job. True, it’s not the most interesting work in the world, but then most work isn’t if you stop to think about it for a minute. I’m also lucky to be able to work at home, to more or less set my own schedule, and to work without supervision, yet I often find myself preferring to do other things than provide for my modest needs. What’s up with that? I have all month, every month, to complete a certain amount of work in order to keep my job, and yet the last few days have seen me scrambling to get it done by Wednesday. Dumb? Just a little.

I had been telling myself earlier in the month that I didn’t care if I lost my job, but that’s just crazy talk–really crazy. I do care, because as simple a life as I live, I still need money. Remember those lines from It’s a Wonderful Life, where Clarence tells George they don’t use money in heaven?

Clarence:

Oh, no, no.

We don’t use money in heaven.

George:

Oh, that’s right, I keep forgetting.

Comes in pretty handy down here, bub.

Um, yeah. Blunt but true words, and you can bet I won’t be forgetting them next month.

This mad dash over the last few days has led me to think about other areas of my life where I’ve procrastinated—in getting my butt outside to get some exercise, in approaching difficult conversations, in making decisions about where I’m going to live and what kind of work I want to pursue. Hindsight being what it is, I sure wish I could hop in the wayback machine and go back to fix some of these things, but as Mr. F often said, you can wish in one hand and spit in the other and see which one fills up first. I can only take what I know, learn from past and sometimes bitter experience, and move ahead. That’s all anyone can do.

And just in case you’re wondering, I worked this morning and I’m on track to complete my tasks by Wednesday.

The week in review, Nov. 27

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The holiday threw a wrench in the works this week, but overall it wasn’t bad. Here’s how it went with the Trinity this week.

Mind:

Still reading some poetry from Good Poems and Good Poems American Places. I’m enjoying simply reading the poems and not having to explicate them in any way, and a bonus is being able to say WTH? about the ones I just don’t get without having to think too deeply about them.

I also started Diana Galbaldon’s latest epic in the Outlander  series, An Echo In the Bone. I’ll admit this series has sometimes kicked my reader’s butt with its—ummm—epicness, but so far I’m enjoying it. As always, I’m more interested in Claire and Jamie’s story than anyone else’s, and more interested in the small domestic details that Gabaldon is so very good at creating rather than the bigger political stirrings.

I’m still spending far too much time just farting around online to little or no purpose, which doesn’t do any of the Trinity any good.

Body:

I missed walks on Monday, Friday, and Saturday, but had good ones the remaining days, and plan to get out later this afternoon despite the chilly weather. Bundling in layers will keep me warm, as will setting a brisk pace. I look forward to getting out and moving.

Thanksgiving day offered more activity than I anticipated, as several of us piled into my cousin’s SUV and went geocaching. There was plenty of walking, talking, and laughing, all of which did me good.

Happily, I didn’t stuff myself like a holiday turkey on Thanksgiving—I did eat pie (three slices, but who’s counting?) but was able to easily control the intake on other goodies. I had one leftover slice of pie on Friday but no other sweets this week except a bowl of ice cream. I’m feeling good about my progress in eating more healthfully and sensibly.

Spirit:

I’m falling behind in tending my spirit a bit. The gray days have settled on Iowa for a while and I have to work extra hard to combat my tendency toward mild depression and sluggishness when the sun disappears for days and sometimes weeks behind a gloomy veil. I want to spend some time strategizing on ways to boost my spirit this week. Getting out for my walks will certainly help. Walking away from the computer would be good, too.

I’m also finding that one of the groups I’ve been part of for two or three years has become more drudgery than joy in the last several weeks. I’m considering whether it’s time for me to move on or not—although there are several people I’d miss, there are others I’d be happy not to see again. Sad, that, but true—they’ve sucked a lot of the life out of the group as far as I’m concerned.

Sass level: holding.

That’s my week in a nutshell. How was yours?

Busy!

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I’m having an unexpectedly busy day today, so the post will be a shortie. Look for the usual long ramble tomorrow, and in the meantime, enjoy your Saturday!

Freeplay Friday

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Stuff I’m thankful for on any ordinary kind of day:

This is not a holiday rant

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30 people expected here for dinner today. Oh dear. Guess who got the short end of the wishbone?

Hoping you have all the best of the holiday. Happy Thanksgiving.

Lyrical Wednesday

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One of the poets I’ve most enjoyed while reading Good Poems is Jane Kenyon. There’s a simple elegance, a soft cadence, and a companionability about her poems that I like very much. I hope you’ll enjoy her work as well.

 

Otherwise

Jane Kenyon

I got out of bed
on two strong legs.
It might have been
otherwise. I ate
cereal, sweet
milk, ripe, flawless
peach. It might
have been otherwise.
I took the dog uphill
to the birch wood.
All morning I did
the work I love.

At noon I lay down
with my mate. It might
have been otherwise.
We ate dinner together
at a table with silver
candlesticks. It might
have been otherwise.
I slept in a bed
in a room with paintings
on the walls, and
planned another day
just like this day.
But one day, I know,
it will be otherwise.

UFOs

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Before you start thinking I’m wearing my stylish tinfoil hat

it’s not that kind of UFO. In knitting parlance, it’s an Unfinished Object.

I’m a great starter. Remember the 37 Days project? Yeah, it’s kinda like that. I get a bee in my bonnet about something-or-other and think “I’m gonna do that,” whatever “that” is. Those are four little words that should set off all kinds of alarms but it’s amazing how easily I ignore them and end up spending far too much money or time or both on some abortive project that languishes in a bag or box or my closet for weeks. Months and years is more like it on a lot of things.

I have a blanket on the needles that I’ve been pecking at for over a year now and I’m in the homestretch, but I keep putting it off. It’s a well-traveled blanket, having made the 450-mile trip to Mr. F’s with me numerous times, but all those miles don’t add up to a finished product. There’ll be, when I complete the last stitch, a sort of bittersweet satisfaction in the finishing, but that may be the very reason I keep putting off that last push to get it done. I’ve loved the yarn, the colors, the pattern of this blanket, and it’s been a visual and tactile pleasure. I don’t want to say good-bye, not just yet, even though I know there will be other projects to come that will steal a bit of my heart. I linger over it, wanting it to last.

Silly me. Life is all about change, about good-byes and hellos to new things and people, and I know that, but still, it’s hard for me to accept it sometimes. The river keeps flowing, but I want to stop it at certain points and keep dangling my feet in those happy waters.

Funny how knitting is so much like life.

 

 

I’m dreaming of a white chicken coop

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It’s Monday and the calm before the storm–Thanksgiving dinner will be here. I’m not looking forward to it, but that’s another post, perhaps, for another day, my rant about the holidays and how they are anything but holy days.

I’ve been thinking about all the fuss and expense and noise of the holidays (this is not my rant, I promise) and when I came across this blog earlier today, and this post in particular, well, it took me back to a simpler time.

When I was a kid my brothers and I were packed off to the farm about once a summer to spend a few days with our grandparents. My granddad was a stern guy–not unkind, but he had rules about how kids ought to be and we knew we’d better pay attention. I don’t recall him ever having to do more than give one or more of us the stink eye to get us back in line, but there was always an exciting hint of danger with him.

Grandma was an even more formidable figure. Standing all of five feet tall in her apron and sensible shoes, she ruled the farm with a strong and certain hand. I suppose raising six kids of her own during hard times made her what she was–no nonsense, eat what’s in front of you, no lollygagging, and no whining, either. Do as you’re told and you’ll get along just fine.

All that sounds pretty grim, but it wasn’t. Grandma was a great believer in getting the kids out of the house and out from under foot, so we spent a lot of time exploring the 800 or so acres of the farm. If I somehow escaped notice and could hide away upstairs to read, there was the great old iron bedstead in “my” room to sprawl on and a mysterious and forbidden trunk full of keepsakes underneath that gave me a naughty thrill to search through.

More often than not, though, Grandma shooed me out the door. Less intrepid than my brothers in those days, I usually confined myself to within hollering distance of the house, but there was still plenty to keep a kid occupied.

Along with an assortment of outbuildings, the barn was a great draw, with its shadowy depths and the smells of hay and cows filling it. It’s where Tammy, the farm dog, lived, in an old barrel filled with soft hay, and where tasty oats–“little bananas,” as we called them–filled bins around the walls and pigeons cooed in the haymow. There was a tiny shed just north of the house full of discarded household items, the coolest by far being the old timey telephone that hung on one wall.

One ringy-dingy . . .

But my favorite place was Grandma’s chicken coop.

To my child’s mind, it was the BEST. PLACE. EVER. The sound of contented biddies clucking to themselves could be heard, with occasional spats and scolding, from outside. Inside, nesting boxes stood in the center and lined the walls. Warm eggs lay waiting to be plucked from under the soft bodies, and somehow Grandma knew which hens would tolerate small inept hands and which ones needed the touch of the expert. There was a sense of peace and content in that place, and I think that’s what drew me, again and again, to it. I wanted to live in that old coop, minus the chickens and the, um, evidence of them.

I could see it so clearly, with the old iron bedstead over there, and the ancient library table there, and a comfy chair and lamp placed just so. Chintz curtains would cover the windows and there’d be a colorful rag rug to warm the floor. The nesting boxes would hold my books and other things, and I could have a woodstove for heat and to cook on, and it would be my perfect dream come true. Simple. Homey. Peaceful.

Funny how some dreams never die. The chicken coop is long gone now, the victim of age and weather and no one to love it, but still, whenever I see some derelict old place like this

I think of that old chicken coop and say to myself,  “all it really needs is some love.”

Isn’t that all anyone really needs?