Ponder this:

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

This Christmas

This Christmas season, I'm suddenly aware of the sumptuous luxury that surrounds me. I go through my days, month after month, not really taking note of the random comforts in my world, but I notice now. And once I begin to notice, I can't stop noticing.

I'm grateful for Husband, who works energetically, tirelessly and mostly cheerfully, to improve our home and make it more efficient and warmer in the cold season and fruitful in the warm season.
I'm thankful for my two fuzzy girls, Molly and Peep. Best of friends to each other and to us, each day they reveal another Incredibly Cute Pose or a new facet of personality. When I think of what might have happened to Peep, had a sheriff's deputy not found her sitting quietly by the side of the road . . . or how lucky we are to have been granted the gift of Molly, who was living a thousand miles away, waiting for someone to want her . . . they both seem like meant-to-be miracles.
I live where, on my way home at night, I don't have to battle traffic, or wait for traffic lights to change. Sometimes I need to decrease my already slow speed to let a couple of deer get all the way across the road so I can pass. That isn't a hardship. It's a pleasure. They're pretty and fit and healthy and graceful . . . like smooth sculpture moving from woody roadside to woody roadside.
I live on land that we almost had to sell in financial desperation, but we made it through.
I live in a house that we weren't sure we would ever be able to build, but we did.
I look through windows taller than I am, at fields as large as the beloved fields of my lost childhood home. The trees that wave their tips in the way-up-there-wind are as tall and as forever as the trees I watched at age seven from my bedroom window or from a seat on a stone wall built by my ancestors' hands in seventeen-hundred-something. My skies are wide and changeable, glowing blue and white or orange and that magic pink-gold of sunset . . . and even now, when day after day, the sky is one smooth blanket of pale pale gray-white cotton, it is more beautiful to me than any skyline filled with buildings and rooflines.
I have a job where everyone is friendly with everyone else. That wasn't the case until only a few months ago: more evidence that my world is moving in a good direction. Our group now jokes and laughs together, works together to solve problems that often aren't even really problems but only quirks. The new philosophy is that if whatever seems to be awry is not fixed within the next two hours, no one will die. Truly, a change for the better for all of us. Thank God.
I have a vehicle that gets me where I want to go, the means to buy things that I need and want. I have enough leisure to knit, to nap, to read. I have warmth and light and comfortable and suitable clothing. 

How blessed am I with all this.
Even if I wish for sun in my eyes in the mornings, and even if it feels like bedtime every day when I get home from work in the deep dusk of December . . . I am blessed.
And I am grateful. 

I think that I might be growing more and more pagan as I age, but still, the Christmas season is a good time to count our gifts. These are some of mine.

And I am grateful.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Thank God I didn't choose to do an afghan!

Last summer (or perhaps even last spring) I saw a pattern for a pretty little scarf, to be worked in pale blue/periwinkle mohair yarn with sequins. 
A perfect color for coworker Phyllis' eyes.
Tiny yarn with tiny sequins. 
On size 7 needles. 
Only thirty stitches per row, and follow the pattern until your skein runs out. 
How hard could that be? one would ask.

Yesterday I started it. The size 7 needles I chose were pale gray. As the daylight grew dim, the pale blue/periwinkle stitches grew more and more indistinct on the pale gray needles, until I could hardly see, by the light of two lamps, where to K2tog and where to YO. Before I went to bed, I looked to see if I had any better-colored size 7 needles. I had the magnifying glass out and was standing directly underneath the lamp, and my poor tired eyes could not see the sizes embossed on the ends of the blasted needles. It was clear that the pale gray size 7 ones would not do, no matter what, anyway, so I ripped it all (the one inch I'd managed) out and determined to start fresh this morning.
By feel, I chose a pair of emerald green needles before I went to bed. I figured they were size 8 or so. 
So be it.
This morning I could see that the pattern was working out to be a little larger than it was yesterday. That made sense. Except that, in the daylight, I could now see that the green needles are size 6, not 8 . . . so why would the work be larger instead of smaller? Go figure.

The big news is that I can actually see the stitches against the needles; there is a fine level of contrast. It's coming along swimmingly.

None of it matters anyway: it's a scarf and needs not fit any part of the body.
I still wish I'd started it two weeks ago, though.

Monday, December 15, 2014

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Monday miscellany

An observation: A dead, dry, curled leaf being windblown this way and that on a narrow dirt road can appear to be an indecisive small rodent. It's a misperception that has caused my stomach to leap to my chest many times as I hie down the road in the car early in the mornings. It's my opinion that the squirrels and rabbits and voles and chipmunks, and all their ilk, deserve their space in this Eden just a little more, perhaps, than I deserve mine. To harm them would be the ultimate in bullying acts.

My pets are beloved mostly because they don't tire of my attention. I am happiest when I have a love object upon whom I can heap hugs and kisses, into whose eyes I can gaze for lengthy periods of time. Husband will only sit still for that kind of thing for just so long before he feels the need to go insulate a window or plow a driveway, so it's good for me to have Peep and Molly with whom I can be a complete sap. A local groomer likes to include pet-related quotations in her ads. I stopped reading those ads, and decided I would never patronize her shop, when I read, "Cuddling: holding your pet hostage and telling yourself that he likes it."

avaOften, my coworkers and I say, "I'm tired of this cast of characters." We're referring to the powers that be and/or any of the other regular players in our office life. I have given some thought to making a list of all those characters and going down the list, writing a little piece about each of them. It would provide enough blog fodder for months, if not years. And, like pet-cuddling, it might be therapeutic for me.

The picture is Ava Crowder, during her prison stint in Justified. Sometimes my coworkers and I wear that exact facial expression.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

John Adams (HBO 2008)

Saturday night we watched the first two episodes of the  2008 HBO series "John Adams." John Adams was the first vice president, the second president, the father of the Adams dynasty. I remember seeing his wife Abigail's dresses on display, among other first ladies' dresses, and thinking she was impossibly small. When was that? Could it have been when I was twelve and we were visiting Washington, DC? It doesn't matter . . . not when I saw the dress, nor anything about Mrs. Adams' dresses. When I was very young and learned the history of the United States (our history was a huge deal back in the 1950s, maybe not so much now) I came away with the impression that the colonists knew they would end up being an independent country, and there was just all this red tape to go through . . . battles and stuff . . . before it all got settled. 

The show's second episode ended with the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. Right after the Continental Congress' vote to declare independence from England, all the members were silent for a while, looking around at each other, apparently contemplating the treasonous act they'd just performed. I know it's dramatized, but it seems likely that those men must have spent some long moments considering the uncertainty of their several and collective futures. It had never occurred to me that they had any measure of doubt or fear, but of course they would have, wouldn't they? 

Most of these good shows already have been seen by everybody in the world except me, but I do recommend it. The cast is great. Paul Giamatti, Laura Linney, David Morse, Tom Wilkinson, Boris McGiver. 

Mr. McGiver has only a small role in the first episode, but he is a personal favorite of mine.  I like his face.

Friday, December 12, 2014

One hundred days until spring

I have a hard time with the wood-ash color atmosphere of winter in the northeast. In years past I tried to develop an appreciation for the beauties of the season, taking photos of snowflakes and such. That helped, but still . . . it never let me forget that I was in the midst of the Cold and Dark Season. This year I'm doing something different: I'm living in the past. Or the future, if you prefer. To wit, the following:

Looking at sunshine and green is making me feel as if I might live until March 21, 2015.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Giving thanks for surviving Route 10 after dark

On Thanksgiving we went from our home, in the northeast corner of our county, to dinner at an inn in the northwest corner of the county. If a person were to research New York State Route 10, he could read all about where it goes and what other routes merge with it. All you really need to know, if you're going to travel on Route 10 after sunset, is that it is DARK
It's a little country two-lane road, paved, but effectively shoulderless, with lots of blind curves. 
No sidewalks, no bike lanes, no jogging lanes. 
Not a lot of wiggle room in either driving lane.
No street lights and, since the houses are very few and far between, not much front yard lighting either. 

To illustrate, here's a picture of the beautiful countryside we passed that afternoon as we drove to dinner:

And yet . . . and YET . . . on Thanksgiving Day, an hour after sunset, in the thick woodsy wilds at this globe's 42nd parallel north in late November . . . we passed half a dozen joggers swinging along jauntily in the [perhaps] eighteen inches of snow-covered space between driving lane and four-foot-deep ditch or brush-covered earthen bank. 
All of them were dressed head to toe in dark colors, with only their faces uncovered to reflect the light from our car's headlights. Not a strip of reflective tape, nor a little light anywhere to be found on their bodies. 
From my seat in the car, it was like having ghostly figures appear in a haunted house:  nothing, nothing, nothing, movement, movement coming, turning into a human and then gone. 

I am left believing that people who jog at night wearing black spandex and black caps and black gloves and black footwear have their priorities somehow awry.  If I were a jogger, drivers would be able to see me coming from half a mile away. I would be decked out in battery-operated multi-color flashing lights. I would look like a smallish traveling carnival. Drivers would slow way down, fearing that that they were about to come upon some spacecraft, glowing there up ahead. I would be an oddity, but I would be visible.