Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Getting My Bearings

I finished up residency last week, hitting the ground running, diving straight back into work and trying to figure out what's for dinner. I had an amazing time and the boys survived just fine without me, but it's a little jarring going from a steady diet of intellectual stimulation, creative inspiration and intelligent conversation to a house where the new hobby is indoor jump-roping and the main topic of discussion is flatulence. (I recommend to any creative person to find a way to get a week or ten days completely freed of both regular work and domestic concerns like cooking and cleaning, grocery shopping and lunch-making, driving and daycare).

I remember, back sometime in November––or maybe even October––looking forward to this pastweekend, it being the only one free of obligations and events in sight. I tried to keep it that way, only leaving home to shuffle M from one friend's house to another's and a trip to borrow my friend Edna's washing machine (more on that below). I spent much of the weekend on the sofa, with this as my view––the clean, blissfully Christmas-free living room:


I was joined much of the time by Z, who was laid low by one of those mysterious fevers he gets about once every year and E, who spent hours reading Calvin and Hobbes, despite the many big, hard words and my own dubiousness about his ability to understand the comics.

I feel like I've passed some sort of milestone in my ability to work amid the chaos of house and home. I remember typing with one hand with either baby E or Z in the other arm and M standing next to me saying, "Can I type? When can I type?" But I lost that ability to concentrate with their distractions somewhere along the way (probably when E and Z where in the destructive toddler years) and have only recently made a concerted effort to work in their midst on a regular basis. I'm not sure I could crank out fiction under such circumstances, but my current project is of a different nature and, for now, it's working and I'm thrilled.

I did, however, throw everyone outside at least once a day, and even got out there myself a couple of times. We walked down the river, to the place where it's wide and winding, with grassy hummocks and big old willow trees and fir trees shaped like Colorado blue spruce. I find it terrifying to walk on the river the first time each winter, but C went ahead with a big stick, testing the ice, and we didn't go through.

We followed these tracks for a long way, wondering if perhaps a lone coyote followed our same path, in reverse.

I took a break from both words and wilds and finished piecing the squares for M's quilt (that I started two years ago). After many months of not-very-visible progress and many more of nothing at all, it's nice to reach a milestone and see that it's going to be something. I have many more steps to go, including making three more squares, because I planned wrong, and putting little stars over all the corners where the squares meet. Then I need to decide if I'll piece borders of just give up and use plain fabric so that it's done before M goes off to college.

And, I finished up the mittens I had started for my (ex-step-)mother-in-law for Christmas, just in time for a lunch date tomorrow. They took longer than necessary because I kept knitting the left mitten as a right mitten, and had to rip it out three times. I still don't think I got the thumbs right, but they'll have to do. I had to take them to my friend Edna's house for felting, because we have a front-loading washer, and Edna has a top-loader plus an unlimited supply of extremely hot wood-heated water to boot.

Like all weekends, especially three-day ones, it felt just too short. When I got to the end, I couldn't help thinking of all the things I should have done with the kids––play games, do art projects, acknowledge Martin Luther King Jr. Day and the inauguration in some way. I guess that'll have to go on next weekend's list...

What have you been up to?


  1. Your quilt looks beautiful! I know what you mean about working on it here and there...which makes it all the nicer when it's finished!

  2. Gorgeous quilt and mittens!

    I've been studying and taking care of business and selling cookies mostly!


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