For the second year in a row, I made a pilgrimage to Rhinebeck for the Dutchess County Sheep and Wool Family Festival. (Excuse me while I lie down a minute to recover from that verbiage.) It was a gorgeous October day, if a bit windy, and I had both Hubby and Younger Daughter with me.
And for the second year in a row, I came home with one perfect skein of yarn.
Well, yes, it is a long way to drive (two and half hours) just to buy yarn. But that’s not the goal. The excitement comes in spotting some folks that are only known online in the ravelry world (and if I have to explain what ravelry is then I am going to assume you know nothing about knitting and perhaps you might prefer to peruse some non-knitting posts in my archives? I don’t want you to feel left out.) and seeing the walking fashion show of handknits for free, and sampling the free wine and munchies at the pavilion and hearing the ubiquitous pan flute group and experiencing sticker shock at the various prices of string and finding the perfect bite to eat and wondering if you have room or strength for ice cream and decide which sheep you want to kidnap and bring home with you. (Or would that be lampnap? Kid being a goat, and all…)
But that one skein. We are on a little bit of austerity here, since Hubby has been job-hunting since Labor Day but he insisted we go and enjoy the fresh air and whatever else it is I enjoy about these things; it wouldn’t be like years past when I might come home with a dozen skeins of perfect yarn because 10 of those 12 skeins are probably still in the stash, patiently awaiting my flirtations with new yarns to cease and really, if it’s not going to be WOW yarn why should I drop the dough? The entertainment of petting everything was almost enough. I say “almost” because I did find the perfect skein.
I found (deep breath) 1,000 yards of a 3-ply, jewel-toned royal blue, 100% cashmere laceweight. And when I tell you laceweight, I mean you look at how absolutely FINE that thread is and realize that it’s 3-ply and you have to shake yourself mentally to take this in. What must the single ply look like? It was a moment suspended in time as the other shoppers walked around me, carried on conversations, and looked at other yarns. Other yarns! When sublime perfection was in my hands! I was transfixed.
Younger Daughter was a perfect partner in this. You want somebody with you who can point out the possible flaws, the slubs that may not have been noticed, the bad color due to the bad lighting, the other minor flaws or excellent advice that a yarn shopper needs to keep a level head.
“You should totally get it.”
I’ve got to bring that girl with me everywhere yarn is involved.
I’ve been thinking a lot about home lately and what it means to me. When Hubby told me his job was over and he was worried about the mortgage, I chirped “no problem, if we have to sell the house we will!” (I bet you didn’t know that in addition to the unlimited sarcasm, I have an annoying habit of being VERY perky to cheer everyone up. Can’t do it for myself, but boy howdy can I irritate a room with my upbeat-ness.) After all, I thought, it’s just different walls so no big deal, right?
Or is it? I’ve often said I love my house but I wish I could move it to a different place. What is “place?” Is it the physical location of your actual dwelling, or is it defined by the view you behold when you look out your window? What about reaching said home? Do you need to travel by highways or rutted roads? Are there conveniences nearby, or do you need to schedule a 45-minute trip just to get a quart of milk? Is your address easily found for deliveries of packages and mail, or is a Sherpa needed for a monthly provision drop-off?
I live in a small town surrounded by a larger town in the middle of a technically suburban area, but not overrun with housing developments. I can easily walk to two separate towns with post offices, convenience stores, butchers, drugstores, bakeries, pizza parlors, libraries, and transportation into The Big City and surrounding environs. While I despise the traffic issues of the nearby highway, I am pretty much in a quiet area. A horn honking or a siren wailing is still something that makes us stop and look out the window. When I lived in a city, that was just like your white noise machine playing in the background.
Granted, I live on a county road that sees rush hour in the morning and evening, but I have a huge backyard that attracts lots of wildlife (not the partying kind, although really how do I know what the squirrels and chipmunks are up to at 2 a.m.?) and has big trees and views of amazing sunsets. There are no rude or noisy neighbors, it’s mostly just families that might have a loud party on a Saturday in the summer and who really cares about that? I’m grateful I don’t have a neighbor who fancies himself a mechanic, feeling the need to rev every engine he works on super loud just to see how loud it can get and ignoring the belching exhaust out of the tailpipe (and yes, I used to have such a neighbor when I lived in the city parts; he was a prince, I tell you).
And while all these things add up to a pretty calm and serene existence instead of the jangling irritating climate I used to have, I’ve realized these are just the perks. The real part of home is the feeling it evokes.
There are currently four adults living in this house, two of which I gave birth to. We each have our little zones that we drift to when we come home, and one of us will always put the kettle on for tea. The reassuring sound of the gas stove lighting and the cups clinking and the anticipation of the warmth of the tea (even if it’s July and a bazillion degrees, tradition and routine is important) and the comfort of familiar surroundings nurtures us. We may read or play games on our devices or zone out with television, but we’re never truly disconnected from each other and we share those tidbits we find amusing or thought-provoking. We also need space from each other and that’s good, too, because we can go into another room away from it all and not feel ostracized or insulted. It’s called being human. Would we have this shared connection if we were in a small, two-bedroom apartment with almost no privacy?
I hope I never have to find out, but if I do I am sure to have a kettle on at all times while we work to figure things out. And that’s probably the essence of home for me.
Guys and gals, I have been most thoroughly enjoying October! There has been apple picking and apple baking and applesauce making, soups and breads and plans for further delights.
Leaves and crisp air, intensely blue skies.
Distant sounds of marching band practice and football whistles.
Hand knitted socks on frosty feet, snuggled into slippers as more are knit.
Knitting of Christmas gifts while making best friends with Netflix.
Drawing at my desk with the intense sunshine pouring in, and reading in my chair when the dusk is creeping in and I light some candles.
In other words….
I may not be the most stable person sometimes. An idea catches me and I’m suddenly aflutter with ALL. THE. THINGS. If it’s a decorating bug, I scour websites, pin to my boards, bookmark ideas, research good prices and coupon codes for free shipping; in the meantime I start rearranging furniture, packing up dustcatchers, adding different decorative items, cleaning off windowsills…and then I stop. Maybe it’s the fact the windows look a bit dingy and I should give them a good battle with Windex, or the very tops of the curtain valances have some interesting dustball formations, but just as suddenly I lose interest. I close out all the bookmarked pages and tell myself I was silly to get all bent out of shape over this idea, what I have is just fine.
Or the idea for writing a story invades all my waking moments and I can’t stop thinking of how I’m going to have characters behave. I write for days and I get impressed with myself until the first morning I make my tea and bring it over to my laptop and realize that I’d rather play on sporcle than write. In fact, I’d rather clean dustball formations than write, and you can imagine how low writing has sunk on my meter of interest.
I’ve always wanted to illustrate, and enjoyed a moderate success at craft fairs selling my humorous calligraphy quotes with illustrations. But instead of becoming bored with it (never!) I would get a horrible case of the humbles and decide that what I was producing was absolute crap and what kind of people bought my stuff anyway? Were they crazy? I practically stole their money! Anybody could do what I do, and probably do it much better. Look at Mary Engelbreit! (Now, that’s hubris. Me and Mary Engelbreit in the same breath. Yeah, no.) Or Susan Winget! Or my latest obsession, Susan Branch. (Go ahead and click on that link. You will be gone for days if you’re anything like me.)
Susan Branch is a woman/illustrator/human too good to be true. She is a watercolor artist who lives on Martha’s Vineyard and has a marvelous old home with a picket fence garden and the most positive, upbeat, and optimistic attitude I’ve ever seen. I felt the itch and I knew I was doomed: I bought new pencils, markers, sketch books, erasers, and began scouring my books for ideas. (I always get nervous: at what point do you deviate from “inspired by” to outright and blatant “plagiarism?”) My dream is to have stickers and scrapbook items, as well as mugs, kitchen linens, and fabrics with my artwork, as well as writing and illustrating a children’s book.
Good heavens, I just wrote down my dream. Now what? Now I’m accountable! Now I have to work at it or forever be known as a slacker! (Well, I think I already own that title.) Now there are actual people (or, to be completely honest, virtual internet presences) who have witnessed my spoken dream and can forever more say things to me like, “so, how’s that dream of yours going? Have you done any WORK towards it?” and when I have no awesome success to show, I will be a failure.
Isn’t that what we’re all afraid of? We put it out there, but if we don’t follow through then we will be judged and found wanting and nobody loves a loser. I don’t want the Maytag dishwasher to call me a lazy toaster, even though I do have the lazy gene. I can’t even show you evidence because I don’t think any of the printer/copier/scanner machines we’ve bought in our lifetime have ever been able to scan an image into the computer successfully. I suppose I could take photos…
Oh, look, there’s some dustbunnies calling my name….
Do things happen for a reason, or is life a series of random events that need reactions based on your personal make-up? (I am not talking Maybelline, here.)
I seriously thought about going back to school to get my principal’s certificate, because I thought I could make a good assistant principal. I researched and read a lot and started to file my on-line application. Imagine my surprise when I was blocked from registering because I had been “inactive for too long.” What does that even mean? Page refreshing did no good; time for a note to the webmaster.
Three days later, I sent the same note to the webmaster.
Two days later I called the Office of Graduate-Let’s-Take-All-Your-Money-For-Further-“Education” to ask what was up. Raise your hand if you’re surprised that I got an answering machine and no answering call! I resolved to show up in person the Tuesday after Labor Day and give them what-for. Maybe even what-five.
In the same time frame, we were narrowing down our search to adopt a puppy. We sent out a few inquiries and every single one came back as “already adopted, but we’ll add you to our list for future spam. We found one the next town over which both Daughters claimed felt just right and an email was sent and (ready for a shock?) never answered! Plans to build our fence to keep said new puppy contained were finalized and the materials were to be purchased Friday of Labor Day weekend.
This is where we go with the philosophical question, do things happen for a reason? Because we’re here on September 25 with no new school, no new fence, and no new puppy because my darling Hubby lost his job. When? The Friday of Labor Day weekend.
Was some unseen force holding us back from all these life-altering and expensive moves because it knew what was in the works? Is this a message that I shouldn’t be a dog-owning assistant principal with a fence? Or is it just a melange of unfortunate timing and bad luck?
Besides that, all my nails are breaking down to the quick. What does that even mean?
There is a blog post sitting inside of me, aching to get out. It wants to be a detailed acknowledgement of the many wonderful things that happen in my day, from the way the morning sunlight transforms a room into rich colors and textures, to the heavenly aroma of toasting rye bread, to the satisfying hum of a washing machine effortlessly cleaning my clothes….
But this is not that day.
Why does my laptop decide that everybody else in the house gets internet except me? Not cool, dude. What’s up with shutting it down and starting it up just to get internet? And what’s really up with refusing to shut down after five minutes of my lonely home screen, forcing me to use the power button in a death-jab?
Why would a pest service company that I called on Friday promise to send somebody out on Saturday which they did but it turned out to be a salesman? He looked and confirmed that, yes indeed, we do have yellowjackets buzzing around our front door, he’ll send somebody out on Monday. What the elf? What did that solve? Oh, you want me to purchase your comprehensive maintenance plan, also known as the Pay-Us-Up-Front-And-We-Might-Do-Unneccesary-Work-Because-How-Will-You-Ever-Know plan which is five times as much as just treating the problem I have now? Yeah, think again. And it’s 4:15 and nobody has shown up to rub out the wasps.
Why does butter taste so good when it’s warm and so weird when it’s cold?
Why can’t all the popcorn kernels pop? What’s up with the recalcitrant ones at the bottom of the bowl?
Why don’t knitting patterns tell the truth with yardage needed? Would you like to know how many projects I’ve ended just a few rows short, and that’s not a euphemism like being a few crayons short of a full box? No? Well, fine.
Why is everything under the sun premiering tonight? How can I watch Sleepy Hollow AND Big Bang AND Monday Night Football AND Food Network that I missed last night because of celebrating Younger Daughter’s birthday?
I think that’s enough whining, don’t you agree?