Tuesday, October 17, 2006

It's the little things

Yesterday we had rain, and it was the gentle kind of rain that falls at a slow, measured pace so that none is wasted. The thirsty land has time to absorb every drop. More would have been better, but I’ve learned to appreciate what blessings I’m given.

But…I felt immense pressure to use the day well, to make the most of the time I couldn’t be working outdoors. And this after a couple weeks of hard outdoor labor driven by the ticking of the clock ever closer to first frost, hard freeze, the end of the season during which certain necessary labors must be performed. I could clean my office and tame the chaos that had been accumulating over the last month. But seriously, would you want to spend your day dealing with this?

Hmm. What if I took the day off, made it a do-nothing day? Or…let’s get real here…I just did what I wanted and not what I had to do. Interesting concept, huh? I could read all day. Or knit one of the projects from ‘that mess on the coffee table.’

Apparently, like Dallas, I have a perverse nature. The decision to take a day off seemed to be all the incentive I needed to make a long list of chores that I wanted to do. Go figure. I even shopped, and I usually hate shopping. But hey, it was a beautiful rainy day, and I drove by the prairie conservation area on the way to town and dawdled alongside the road for a while, admiring the browns and fading greens, the red swaths of sumac, the last of the goldenrod, and the occasional white speckling of fleabane still in bloom. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to find a hand-painted yarn that mimicked those muted sweeps of color? What fabulous sweaters and socks that would make!

In town, at the grocery store, I found the new Knitter’s Magazine. And clams. Just that morning my daughter had called, raving about the clam chowder her friend made, and so I was craving clam chowder too. Plus, it turned out that I really wanted to have the supplies on hand to fix the fence so the calf couldn’t get into the strawberry bed, and I really wanted that little ash shovel so I could do a better job cleaning under the fireplace grate. And I really wanted a few other odds and ends I hadn’t yet spared the time or effort to track down. What I didn’t find in town, I ordered online when I got back home. Good sewing scissors. A replacement copy of Homespun, Handknit, which has the boiled mitten pattern I want to try next month. Then I sat down and really looked at the magazine. Drooled on it, actually, and then ‘window-shopped’ my way through all the interesting ads with websites. I picked out sock yarn & felting yarn, but I’m waiting for the knitting books to arrive first so I can double-check the yarn requirements.
I updated my book requests at the library, browsed Amazon.com and made a list of the upcoming titles through next April from my favorite authors so I won’t miss any.

And then I wanted to knit. I did a couple of repeats on the shawl, then two pattern repeats on the sock. Would you believe I didn’t drop or twist a single stitch? Really, I checked this morning to make sure. Is this what middle age is about? Clearing away some of life’s clutter so I don’t drop stitches – metaphorically…literally, too. How do you clear away your mental clutter?


Blogger Nancy Herkness said...

Laura, what a lovely way to spend a day! I took Sunday off myself and just read all day because I was caught up in a very interesting novel: THE SPARROW by Mary Doria Russell. Although the plot is about a Jesuit mission to the nearest inhabited planet, it's really about personal belief in God, an interesting issue. I'm still thinking about it.

Like you, I don't really enjoy shopping (which is strange since I used to be a power shopper. However, I also find that every now and then I'm in the mood for it and just enjoy the gathering of all the miscellaneous things I've been meaning to buy and haven't. The only drawback? I have to put them all away when I get home. ;-)

9:22 PM  
Blogger Fran Baker said...

Oh, Laura, I can close my eyes and picture yarn painted with Mother Nature's brush!

Clearing away the clutter? Last year I called 1-800-GOT-JUNK and let them clear it away. The secret, I've discovered, is not to touch it myself. Because if I touch it, it's mine. Again.

9:22 PM  
Anonymous theresa s. said...

Don't you just love days like that? A break in the routine, plus at the end of the day you really feel like you accomplished things.

My approach to life's clutter isn't all that interesting, I'm afraid. I just keep moving and try to use the "one touch" rule. You know, touch it once and be done with it. The more times you have to touch something, the more total time is absorbed by it. This rule is especially useful in dealing with paper, but transfers to household stuff, too. I mean, if you've already got the windex in your hands, you might as well clean all the glass in the house. Then it's done, and it really doesn't take that long if you just keep moving.

And then you can knit without distraction. :) Love the blue yarns you've show us. What kind are they? The lighter blue looks soft.

11:17 AM  
Blogger Dallas Schulze said...

Jamie - What is the pretty blue item you refer to as 'that mess on the coffee table'? The dark teal-y blue that looks like it has lots of interesting texture to it. Inquiring minds...

Clearing away the mental clutter? Well, that's an interesting question and, if someone comes up with a definitive answer, I wish they'd share. For me, it's a hit and miss sort of thing. Sometimes a long walk will do it. Sometimes, a day like you described where I can just enjoy the process of finishing off a lot of small tasks. Making bread by hand is another one - something about kneading the dough puts me in a very Zen state of mind. Hand applique, hand quilting, knitting - now that I think about it, a lot of my mind clearing tricks center around repetitive physical stuff. Maybe there's something to that whole prayer wheel idea.

12:12 PM  
Blogger LauraP said...

Dallas - the dark teal is a Children of Lir stole in progress in Tahki Sable. The pattern's from Martha Waterman's Traditional Knitted Lace Shawls. The lighter yarn is NatureSpun from Brown Sheep, color Blue Lagoon, and I've been playing with a Girly sock pattern with it.

Fran - Mother Nature's Brush - great name for a line of yarn. How brave of you to hire the junk busters. Was it painful? I think of the little bits and pieces, the notes and idea sparkers mixed in with the rest, and I can't imagine anyone else seeing the value so they'd just toss them. Maybe a good thing, maybe not.

Nancy - THE SPARROW is now on my TBR list. I'm intrigued.

Theresa - I try to use the One Touch Rule, and despite the condition of my office in that photo, I really am getting better at it. Slowly. With lots of stuttering and backslides. It's a tough battle, against my basic nature as a messy and a ponderer.

12:47 PM  
Blogger kshotz said...

Laura--I'm convinced that "messy ponderers" are some of life's most creative people!! (My secretary regularly used my 2 week vacation to do her own personal version of 'got junk' elimination....it was always a bit of a shock to come back and see a desk in my office!!)

I'm still pondering your writing and your day.....I think it sounds simply lovely! Something about this season of the year really brings to the front edge our need for clearing clutter and connecting with something bigger than ourselves, yet somehow simpler than the rushing world would have us believe.....I always find myself listening for that steady pulse...that small voice...

....that something out there that is "home....." Perhaps we all migrate each autumn.

Anyway, I'm still thinking about it!


5:11 PM  

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