Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Day 146: Giving to makers

Dudes, the last few weeks have been brutal.  I guess all there is to say is that I went to New Orleans, was home for a day and a half, left for Vancouver (which, I had to keep reminding myself, is in another country and therefore requires me to go through, oh say, customs, and which therefore meant I needed my passport), spent almost six days there during which I was nearly 100% constantly in meetings (barring a delightful two hours spent at the UBC Museum of Anthropology, which I highly recommend), was home for a day and a half, and then everyone came to stay for Thanksgiving.  It was wonderful to have my folks here and Kivrin home, and I had a ton of fun making an entirely new set of dishes (all taken from this cool NYT article), but on Saturday I fell over at noon and didn't get up off the couch until nearly 6:00, went to bed at about 9, and slept for 10 straight hours, and I'm still dragging.  Today's the last day of classes, and then it's me and a metric ton of grading.

But that's not what I wanted to share with you all.  The part I wanted to talk about is the fun of giving a handmade gift to a maker.  At the conference, there were a couple of people who had spent this past year doing massive amounts of behind-the-scenes work to bring off an event in celebration of the UN's International Year of Indigenous Languages, and it seemed to me that it called for something more than a simple thank you note or email.  Thus, handknits. 

At a lovely breakfast with one of them, I gave her a shawl/scarf (I never quite know what to call one of those half-moon-type dealies), and was instantly reminded that she is also a maker.  Without a word, she took time to admire the stitches (from both sides), to look at the colors and the way they worked together, to feel the fabric and its drape.  She tried it on, and took it off and admired it again.  She talked about how she would use a pin that she recently made (that's her area of making) to wear it and how good it would look.  And then, just the other day, she sent me a picture of her wearing it.  Here's the thing: there's no way to actually know whether (a polite) someone really likes what we make for them, but the way a maker receives a handmade gift is such a delight - they appreciate the craft that went into the making, and they understand that at least part of the gift, is the gift of time and energy and creativity.  That's not to say that folks who aren't makers don't deeply appreciate handmade gifts - I regularly and with pleasure knit for folks who don't craft - it was just fun to see that other level of appreciation.

All right - time to tackle the inbox, and the ever-mounting pile of end-of-semester grading.  Wish me luck!

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Day 126: Language oddities, and NOLA!

I often stub my ear (as it were) on words or phrases which suddenly appear, out of nowhere from my perspective, and are everywhere right away.  I've been thinking about two of those recently.

One of them is the word "kiddo", usually co-occurring with "my", especially spoken by teachers, as in: "I told my kiddos today that they should get ready for their next test."  This one has been around, I think, for maybe five or six years.  It appeared out of nowhere, and then I was hearing it everywhere.  The girls' teachers, Kivrin's tutor, my students when they do their field placements.  Everywhere.  I really don't get it.  It sounds strange to me.  I wonder if it's a replacement for the oft-called-out "kids" ("they're not baby goats", which is honestly ridiculous, as if language didn't change), seen as better than calling them "children", or "students".  Has anyone else heard this one?

The other one kind of makes me roll my eyes.  When ordering a salad at a restaurant, I am often asked if I want to "add a protein".  For example, today, I ordered a salad (make your own) to which I added, among other things, chickpeas, eggs, and nuts.  The person then asked me if I wanted to add a protein.  Of course, there's already lots of protein there.  Here, protein seems to be a euphemism for "meat" (because it's almost always steak, chicken, and some kind of fish on tap).  Isn't that weird? 

Other than that, I'm in the truly insane time of the semester, and yet Rick and I are going to New Orleans this weekend for no other reason than that we really want to, and this was when tickets were affordable (and, to be fair, it was our 25th anniversary this summer, so).  Anyone have any recommendations for us while we're there?

Friday, November 8, 2019

Day 120: Toes!

So, I don't know if I've mentioned, but our cat Bastet is polydactyl (she's lucky she didn't end up with a name like Polly or Digit)(although I'll be honest and mention that one of her nicknames is "Toes"). 

We often joke that she has to work pretty hard to keep track of all of those toes.  Evidence of this assertion includes the following:


(The evidence consists both of the overlapping and central toe placement, and also the prevalence of napping behavior.)

Meanwhile, Rick just treated me to an afternoon pick-me-up as I struggle through an endless pile of some delightful essays.
Happy Friday, all!

Monday, November 4, 2019

Day 116: Unpacking

On Saturday morning, here's what one would have seen looking through the door of our bedroom:


Two very long days later, and this was the view from my bed this morning:


It is such a relief to have a lot of the unpacking done (it's not finished, but we're getting there).  I am, however, left with a few burning questions:

Where did all that yarn come from?
Where did all that wool come from?  
Where did all those books come from?

And a few observations:
I'm not sure that I've quite achieved a STABLE (Stash Acquisition Beyond Life Expectancy) amount of yarn, but I think I may have gotten there with the spinning fiber (four pounds of Stansborough Grey, and at least one more fleece's worth of wool, not to mention various braids).  
My bookshelves are definitely, as one friend once described hers, part resume, part wishlist.  I have a lot of unread books.  But I also have some that I'm wanting to reread at this point.  (Am I the only one who does that?  And I'm not talking about rereading deep and meaningful prize-winning books here, guys - just comforting ones whose characters are fun to visit.) 

And now I am tired.  My joints hurt, and I'm glad I'm not unpacking anything tonight.  Good night!



Thursday, October 31, 2019

Day 112: Careful consideration

A few things have come together for me:

  • Taking a break from my devices this past weekend was tremendously useful to me.  I'd almost forgotten how much I value that space.  I'd almost managed to forget how often I get sucked into a device for embarrassingly long periods of time, at the end of which I feel like I've achieved nothing - even if I have read more New York Times articles than you can shake a stick at.  But honestly, how many articles about the ongoing impeachment hearings do I need to read in one day?  Or even in a few days?
  • Also of note: I have been working nearly every weekend this semester to stay on top of an overload of commitments.  (Also of note: I have psoriatic arthritis which isn't entirely under control, and I don't live my life as if that were true.)
  • Yesterday, the humidity plummeted again (it was around 1% at the local airport, which is - get this - near the ocean, people, but still the air is so dry that it sucks the moisture out of every. single. thing), and I woke up with a headache that could only be described as an extinction level event.  I always hesitate to use the word "migraine" (I'm not really sure why), but it really can't be called anything else.  I got it under control, but between it and the Advil, I was walking the fine line between unmanageable pain and nausea.  It wasn't a fun day.  
  • As a result of which, I didn't post here.  Which, interestingly, felt more like a relief than a regret.
  • Last week, someone suggested that I try a mental practice, just to see what happens: instead of framing things as a question, I let a statement happen instead.  This basically has to do with my lifelong habit of overthinking and overanalyzing everything - I can think of 20 sides to a square.  It's nice to be able to see nuance, but it's not particularly useful for checking in with my gut.
  • On my day away from digital devices, I also felt relief not to have to post here.  And it occurred to me to maybe think about rethinking my magpie year.  And I started thinking about commitments and what I said I'd do and meeting expectations and and and.  Lots of questions: should I make a new plan, with a different kind of commitment (I will post every other day/every Thursday/whatever)?  What will people think if I say, after 100ish days, that I'm not doing this anymore?  Is it actually in keeping with the lighthearted magpie spirit to allow my shiny-object-distraction soul to be distracted by other things?  Is it OK to say that I've learned some interesting stuff about myself and now I'm going to lighten up?  Should I/can I/ought I to?  And then I remembered: statements.
  • And the statement is: I don't want to post every day right now.  Or, at least, I don't want to feel obliged to.
  • Ah.  OK.  I can work with that.
So, there it is.  I'm not saying that I didn't go around a few more times.  I have a lot of trouble giving myself grace (we've talked about this), and so there's been quite a bit of: but you said!  However, the statement part of me knows this: I said it to myself.  No-one will die or be harmed if I now say to myself that gentleness and kindness means renegotiating the terms of my engagement with writing.  There are times when "I don't want to do it" doesn't cut it - but this isn't one of them.

The fun thing for me about having initiated this project is that I am writing again - not only here, but in my journal, and other scribblings that I hadn't been giving myself permission to try, and that I now am; I'm looking forward to having more time for that.  I'm spinning again.  And there's a small part of me that is thinking of trying a creative sweater-sized project again.  All of that, I think, came out of the project of committing myself to doing this one creative thing every day.  I'm good with letting that creative thing be wider than writing here.  So, I'll be here, and I may keep that day count because I'm finding it interesting, but it won't be every day.

Meanwhile, with my "blogging time" on Sunday and Wednesday, I wound up that yarn and cast on for a hat.  It's getting cold in Seattle, and Kiv needs to keep her head warm.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Day 110: Moving day!

It feels like the house has been under construction forever.  Probably because it sort of has.  We had a leak last fall.  And then they found asbestos in the stuff that held the drywall sheets together.  And then they found mold. And then the repair caused another leak which ruined the floors in another room.  So that took well over six months to sort out.  And then we figured that, since we were used to chaos, and the dog had gotten so used to the guys coming and going she hardly even barked anymore, that it was time to pull up the (frankly disgusting) carpets in our back two rooms and replace the flooring.  We've only been in the house 17 years - I guess it was time. 

So, this morning found me here:
Sitting in my car grading while the movers packed up our stuff from the storage place, so that they could put it back in here:
That's our room.  I wish I had pictures of both rooms, which have not only been refloored but (because, if everything is out and empty, you may as well get it done) repainted.  We've been out of our bedroom for two months at this point, and I am dying to sleep in my bed, and (even more excitingly) to have access to my clothes again!!  Unpacking looms, but it'll be good to be done with this project.


Saturday, October 26, 2019

Day 107: Rest day

So, continuing reflection on the question of whether to take a day a week away from devices has led me to realize that there’s no question, actually. I know that this is a good practice, and I’m reinstituting it.  So that’ll mean no post tomorrow.

This isn’t something I’m doing in a really rigid way, with hard boundaries and no leeway.  (I will, for example, gladly facetime with Kivrin tomorrow if it’s the day she can do it.). It’s more about stepping away from the temptation to fill “empty” moments with what I called digital lethe in a recent post - I like that, as it captures for me the sense of the digital as a tempting annihilation of the present moment.  My memory of doing this is that it helps me to sense the spaciousness that is available beyond constant busyness.  Creativity happens there, and rest.

See you on the flip side!