Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Tired, but Still Knitting

I've been too tired to write, working long days and trying desperately to catch up from being out of the office last week--not easy to do when my days are largely filled with meetings. At night, after the kids are in bed, I think briefly about getting back to work and invariably reach instead for one of my various knitting projects. In fact, yesterday, feeling exhausted and depleted of all sense of peace, serenity, and plain old fun, I snuck a visit to my new favorite local yarn shop (LYS), Borealis Yarns, before I went home. Bought three skeins of this Noro yarn I've been thinking about, Daria Multi. It's a cotton/rayon cording, a feast for the eyes in turquoise, green, purple, cranberry and brown. I spotted it a few weeks ago, and then when I was trying to teach myself to crochet a few weekends ago and failing miserably with anything beyond the first row of a single crochet, I kept thinking this might be the perfect "yarn" to use, since it is, in fact, cord, and I'd be able to study what was going on better than with worsted, or even cotton. I spent all last night playing with it, not attempting crochet, but knitting a swatch in garter, moss stitch, basket weave, etc, trying to find the perfect way to show off the color and sheen of the stuff. I think I'm going to make a bag--the perfect antidote to stress--and I'm leaning toward moss stitch though I did like the look of reverse stockinette.

I have other yarn projects in the works, too: the ribbed shrug from the summer issue of Interweave Knits, which I'm making in robin's egg blue Reynold's Morocco; a bag out of blue Cascade Quatro; a scarf using leftover ribbon from the red shawl I made during the winter (I'll probably give it to my mother-in-law--it's in her colors, rust and gold and brown). I forgot to cancel the monthly selection from the Crafter's Choice book club last month. The package was waiting for me when I got home Saturday. In a moment of weakness I opened it rather than writing "return to sender" and setting it by the mailbox. And, oh, what a shame, I discovered it was a new knitting book called Loop-d-Loop by Teva Durham. Decided to keep it and now am determined to make this gorgeous cabled riding jacket at some point. There's also a cute mock cable hat in Rowan Polar, and oh, what do you know, I just happen to have two miscellaneous skeins of the stuff lying around.

What is it about yarn and all things knitting? For me it's the colors, the textures, the endless fascination with the ability to transform long strings of yarn into fabric and shapes and wearable, usable goods. It's so nonverbal. As I knit I become absorbed in the stitches and am quite quickly lured away from the obsessive worried work thoughts that tend to follow me home. One of my favorite weekend pastimes is to sit on the couch in my upstairs window-lined office, knitting and listening to downloaded programs of This American Life. Ahh, the weekend. It's getting closer.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Leaving Home

I hate the hours before I have to fly somewhere--today to Chicago. I keep an eye on the weather (hot and muggy today, with newly posted tornado watches), and I find myself making telephone calls--rsvp-ing for my daughter to a Saturday birthday party, scheduling doctors' appointments, scheduling a tree inspection for the yard. It's like on one hand I have some idle time on my hands, on the other I want to have these things lined up as a kind of morbid insurance policy--see, I'll be home in a few days, here to keep these appointments and arrangements.

Work has been intense, new responsibilities and politics involved in advocating for myself and my staff. Now I'm off to some work meetings. Three packed days and then home for the weekend. I feel this reluctance to write about what I do. There's no mystery, really. But I can't at this point bring myself to reveal that much specifically.

Here's to safe flying!

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Gardening at a new house:
lots of treasures and lots of weeds, too.

Grand Old June Sunday

I feel such giddiness about having a blog. For today, at least, my second day in publication (Is that what you say? Probably not. I'm really green to this and part of my sense of accomplishment is actually just having been able to figure out how to do it at all.) I'm feeling a little obsessed. Everywhere I go, I think, "I have a blog." It's a little like having a new love in my life. And I also look around me, wondering, "Does he have a blog? Does she have a blog?" As if there were some secret society of which I've become a secret member. I suppose this is probably true.

Went with the family to St. Paul's primo beginning-of-the-summer event--Grand Old Day, a huge street festival with a parade, bands, and the first taste of Minnesota's beloved fried State Fair food. We saw a lot of the parade. The low point for me was the huge entourage in green supporting our traitor of a mayor Randy Kelly, a supposed Democrat who supported Bush in the November election. That he even has the nerve to run again as a Democrat makes my blood boil. Mr. Kelly himself was present at the parade. I steeled my gaze and stared through him as he walked by, the bravest I could muster in the form of a political statement. The high point of the parade? I suppose it was the Macalester College bagpipe band. They're pretty cool to hear. I'm not all that much of a parade booster, though. It was OK.

Then we headed over to the kids' area, where my son got a heel blister sliding down an inflatable slide thing called "Ironman," which ruined the event for him. He sat nursing it in a corner with my husband while I accompanied my daughter on the pony ride and to a petting zoo. We managed to extricate ourselves as the sun became quite hot and the kids crabby--and no, we didn't even eat any Fair food (my husband and I have lived in St. Paul for fourteen years and we've never even been to the State Fair, but that's a topic for another day, perhaps).

At home I decided to do a little gardening. We bought our house in October, and the yard has lots of trees, shrubs, plants, plenty of weeds, but also many gifts from the previous owners--peonies, hosta, purple yarrow, coneflowers (not blooming yet), some roses (one that didn't make it through the winter that I've already replaced with a wild rose that needs no special winterizing), rhubarb up the wazoo, Japanese iris, and my most-prized acquisition, a jack-in-the-pulpit, tucked under a very tall old white pine out front. I've always enjoyed gardening in a lazy unaccomplished sort of way. Today I went outside, took a few pictures to post here, and decided to mow the lawn rather than deal with the weeds. And then it started to rain before I finished the front, but all in all it was a pleasant afternoon. Now my thoughts must turn to Monday, and work obligations, and the fact that I have to fly to Chicago Tuesday afternoon through Saturday.

The Pendant Posted by Hello

A Start

"Our trueset life is when we are in dreams awake." I have a silver pendant inscribed with this Thoreau quote. It's a sort of talisman that I wear often, although I'm sometimes uncomfortable when people stare at my clavicle trying to decipher what it says. Strangely, they rarely actually ask me to tell them, and I just smile and offer a sociable segue from it. I'm not actually all that comfortable with a lot attention, especially if it means revealing something that really matters to me (then why, you ask, are you starting your own blog--more on that in a moment). And that quote does matter to me. I believe in it absolutely.

For over six years now, I live by my dreams. I write them down, I analyze them, I get analyzed by them in a dream group and in private dream work. I believe dreams are a profound guide to living the life we are meant to live. I think it's a great tragedy that they are ignored, misunderstand, and largely unregarded in our material-minded, superficial, see-it-to-believe-it culture. Hence the name of my blog, in dreams awake, which serves as a constant reminder to me of how I want to live. Welcome!

Once I chose this name, I thought it apt to actually find out a little something about that quote. Despite a master's degree in English Literature, I haven't really studied Thoreau, not in a long time, anyway, and not very mindfully. Is it that Thoreau is a writer who appeals to those who are more advanced on the path of life (ie, not in their twenties any longer)? Well, I'm reading him now, thinking all the while, How have I missed this? But it was while reading about him that I realized the name is a good one for other reasons: for Thoreau, of course, was primarily a journal writer. This quote, found on The Writings of Henry D. Thoreau, says it nicely:

From 1837 to 1861, Thoreau kept a handwritten Journal that began as a conventional record of ideas, grew into a writer's notebook, and eventually became the principal imaginative work of his career. The source of much of his published writing, the Journal is also a record of both his interior life and his monumental studies of the natural history of his native Concord, Massachusetts.
I have always aspired to be a writer. I have many excuses for why that hasn't actually come to be my official life's work: family,the reluctant but successful spiralling of an unrelated and time-consuming career and the resultant lack of time, fear of criticism, etc. But I know that really the main reason is because I've limited myself. Thoreau led a life of great simplicity by choice and let his journalistic thoughts evolve into profound and thoughtful essays and classic works such as Walden. I have kept journals and recorded dreams and begun many a short story (and even two novels) for many years but have lacked the rigor and polish and discipline to finish my work and put it through a necessary revision process and really get it out there for others to read and respond to. (My husband, I know, is quite curious about eavesdropping on what I'm writing here--a chance to read those words I'm always clicking away privately and closing the window on when he comes up behind me.) Part of my reason for starting this blog is plain and simply to address my fear of exposure.

So this is my start. We'll see where we go from here.