Saturday, March 14, 2020

Inside Things

It's looking and sounding like spring here at Hugs - the birds are excited and cheery and there's a stiff breeze shaking off any dead leaves left in the trees. The sidewalks are clear and any stubborn snow is just dotted around like tiny islands. It's outside time! And yet...

There is a lot of inside time happening, or potentially happening.  Time that will need to be filled with inside things.

Last night I turned back to my sock. Spending so much time writing lately, I had stayed away from it long enough to forget that I'd come to an unusual break in the yarn.

(in related news, I was trying to solve a New York Times Crossword clue recently. Four letters, clued as 'knit and ...' and I was stumped.  Knit and sew? Knit and b****? wrong letter counts! Also, the second one would have read "STITCH and ...".  When I finally went to answer key and discovered the second word was purl, I knew the world had shifted on its axis and I am no longer the woman I was.)

On my initial discovery of the break in the yarn, I couldn't decide how to deal with it. I just put it aside.  Surprisingly, it didn't mend itself! So I decided to pick a solution and go with it.

I held about 3 inches of both sides of the break together and kept on knitting. It's the top of the leg - I won't even feel the double thickness, and I think 8 stitches in a non-stress area is probably enough to keep the yarn from running, don't you?

Okay, maybe you don't. Maybe I should rip out again and do 12 stitches.

Either way, in the predicament we all face as I type this, it seemed like an interesting lesson. Sometimes there's a gap between how things were and how things can be, and you just have to improvise.

Meanwhile, I'm looking at interests that haven't gotten much love lately but still love me.  Like my ukelele!

Did I tell you I bought one last fall? I don't think I did.  I was in a music store for something else and there were ukeleles in the Impulse Purchase zone at the checkout desk.  I was a very good girl and went home and worked sensibly for several hours before racing back to the store to buy one.

My thinking was, I've never been good with stringed instruments or chord-reading. Ukeleles are for cool people or musical people or people who are into folk or bluegrass or collective music, or some combination thereof. They are not for me. Also I have no space for more stuff in our house; I am still working through my yarn stash.  AND I want to be writing all the time now. When would I do anything with a ukelele?

Then the other half of my brain said, hello, two broken fingers still not fully mended? The cost of the ukelele was less than one physio session and might get me using those fingers better. And several-hour obsessions don't come from nowhere.  Obviously there is a hole in my life only a ukelele can fill.  Anyway, they're small.

So the ukelele came home.  I quickly discovered that yes, if I use my two previously broken fingers to make chords, they absolutely loosen up. They feel almost normal again! I also discovered you can play a ukelele in a soft, meditative way as well as in a STRUM STRUM STRUMMA STRUM way.  You can use your fingertips or your finger pads or a pick. You can thump on the body of the ukelele for percussion. I gave up on the chords my fingers couldn't hold properly and made up some that they could. I started composing my own tunes. It was very exciting. Pete even had to ask me to stop playing at one point because he was trying to sleep. He was mostly polite, too.

Then I realized that I couldn't sleep either, because the music was all up in my head and I was hearing it even without the instrument in my hands. So I slowed down, and the writing ramped up, and the ukelele has been sitting by itself ever since.

Maybe now is the time for it to come back out for a while?

Or maybe I should dig out some fiber and sit on sunny landing halfway up the stairs where my spinning wheel gathers dust, and make some yarn while listening to a really good audiobook.  At the moment I am in the middle of Lucy Worsley's Jane Austen At Home which is just so good. Normally it only gets airtime while I am folding laundry - it's amazing how much a good audiobook eases drudgery - but I could branch out.

Spinning would definitely be more fun than finally reorganizing my closet.  I've been quite interested in the idea of the 'capsule wardrobe', in which you whittle down your clothing to just the things you love and wear a lot, and which coordinate nicely. It's perfect for travel, obviously. But I like the idea for simplifying my everyday life.  I don't think I'd go to the extreme of 7 white shirts, 4 pairs of black pants, and 1 black jacket, but I can definitely do better than what I'm living with right now.  Also, I can see creating a few different capsules and swapping them out periodically by mood or season.  I have purchased some SKUBB storage things from IKEA to aid in pursuing this idea. Now I just need to make myself use them.  And - yay! I have time now!

I am easing into considering these possibilities while I also consider cooking. Specifically, what interesting meals to make from what's in the house. I am especially interested in learning to soak beans overnight and then cook them, and I'm hopeful that the dried beans I purchased when I first got the idea are not too old to taste nice.  I've been wanting to pursue this interest for some time and beans only wait for you for so long apparently.

I'm strongly inclined to make Joe Yonan's book, Cool Beans, my companion in this journey.

While I'm talking about books, did you know Tracy Chevalier came out with a textile-centric novel??  I don't know how I missed A Single Thread when it came out a few months ago, because I love Tracy Chevalier. Also this book is set after WWI, a period I find fascinating.

A few years back I read about how women's lives were impacted by that war, with so many men killed and a vastly lower chance to marry: Singled Out, by Virginia Nicholson.  Leaving aside the loneliness some of them must have felt, marriage was such an essential part of the social fabric then.  I had been so focused on the drama of the war itself when I studied that time, and then the weirdness of the 1920s, I hadn't thought of all those women who didn't marry, or else married differently than they would have otherwise. (that's also a fantastic read, if you're so inclined.)

So, I am buying A Single Thread as a reward, just as soon as I do something that warrants one. Which might be learning how to cook beans deliciously. I mean, even the cover of that book is so beautiful!

I am fortunate to be able to take long walks outside if I want, and I am taking the opportunity to do it. These pictures are from an amazing walk I had the other night.  The sky was just dark enough to make me feel sure my little phone camera wouldn't pick up the branches of the trees around me, but I shouldn't have underestimated it because they came out so nicely. No comments on these, I'm just clipping them all in and hoping you have the same shoulder-loosening sensation I do when I look at them.

This is getting to be a long post and I don't want to keep you from whatever amazing things you've thought of to do during this time, but I can't leave without showing you two last pictures from earlier this winter.

The first was taken about 5 minutes before the moment I discovered why one really should not sling one's backpack over the back of a chair in a coffeeshop: my wallet had been stolen. Spoiler alert: I do not carry ID in my wallet, so I only lost cash, a cancel-able credit card, and my faith in humanity. (temporarily!) (but not temporarily enough to go back to a regular wallet.) Anyhoo: I had to grab this wonderful view of the place where, long ago, I learned to skate backwards.  At that time it was a simple round rink not surrounded by condo towers. This new layout is pretty impressive, don't you think?

The second picture, and this really is the last for this month, is of animal tracks I found in the snow one morning. Bunnies? I don't know. I hope so. Anyway, I felt loved, and I hope you do too.

Take care till next time!