Just made a few more machine-pieced components for the Pale Village quilt. It’s time to iron for a while and watch comedy — maybe I’ll finish watching Mike Birbiglia’s “Thank God for Jokes” on Netflix. In this show there’s a hilarious riff about the schism between “on time people” and “late people” (‘How do on time people feel about late people? Well, we hate you is all’).
It is coming down really fast and may turn to freezing rain. Plowing is slower than ideal. Still, it’s just a snowstorm and I don’t quite understand the emergency reverse 911 calls, constant reports, and all the rest.
We walked early and had a hard fetch session at the upper field and then played out back just now too, before I shoveled (arg – is the snow heavy!) I’m down for the count, as my father used to say. Finn would prefer otherwise.
It’s a good day to make revisions to text (today, a chapter covering the hours before the Stono Rebellion, 1739, from the perspective of a bondman) and maybe also to see if I can stomach last night’s recorded CNN special about Putin. For now, eating leftovers and about to watch “Nashville” (she said sheepishly).
It smells like snow outside. A big storm is barreling up the coast. As long as the pipes don’t freeze, I’m okay.
I spent the morning cleaning, making Moroccan stew, walking Finn and devouring a small volume by James Baldwin.
Here are two quotes from “The Fire Next Time”:
“The brutality with which Negroes are treated in this country simply cannot be overstated, however unwilling white men may be to hear it.”
“Most people guard and keep; they suppose that it is they themselves that they are guarding and keeping, whereas what they are actually guarding and keeping is their system of reality and what they assume themselves to be. One can give nothing whatever without giving oneself — that is to say, risking oneself. If one cannot risk oneself, then one is simply incapable of giving.”
It was a week of honoring my basic preferences and screwing up the courage to say ‘no’ in order to do so. One small ‘no’ helped me say a much bigger ‘no’ a few days later.
Both refusals created a feeling of spaciousness and relief. Confirming feelings.
Itchy ambivalence can usually be resolved in favor of one’s own need, experience, and felt sense of the world. To not do so is to stay itchy.
Pretty basic, especially for a sixty year old, but it’s amazing (and common?) how quickly clarity can be clouded by others’ needs or by anxiety about self assertion.
I don’t need to say more now. Just this: it was a week to remember that I bought my first book from Shambala press in 1973. I still have that volume (by Chogyam Trungpa) 43 years later, which is really saying something — do you know how many books didn’t make the cut?
Have a great weekend!
The other night, I clipped one of Finn’s nails too short and it bled. And bled. Oh, and it bled some more! The special powder had turned to rock, so while K held a paper towel on our poor alarmed pup’s paw, I whipped up a concoction of corn starch and baking powder.
The bleeding stopped, as bleeding usually does. But later, after settling on the pillow that he sleeps in at the end of our bed, Finn worried at it some. I didn’t know it then, but the nail bled again. The next day while making the bed (or what I call ‘making the bed’), I was astonished to find a perfect heart of his blood on our coverlet.In writing class last week (and weirdly, I can’t remember if it was before or after this nail incident), I wrote (and wrote) about blood. Oh how I wrote! If this is the year for making myself uncomfortable with risk-taking, then I ought to share it, oughtn’t I?
Meanwhile, I lost my progressive lenses two days ago (my $600 progressive lenses!) It’s disorienting and distressing to say the least. I have tons of three dollar reading glasses which I lose all the time with little consequence. But these? Until two days ago, I had considered my successful tracking a function of respect for the price tag.
(That’s $600 with insurance, by the way. If St. Anthony doesn’t come to my aid, I’ll be looking to Warby Parker for cheaper replacements).
Coincidentally, I recently recommitted to a babysitting job that kinda ruins my Thursdays. I didn’t want to say ‘No’ and I didn’t want to say ‘Yes’ either. In the aftermath of saying ‘Yes’, I decided that earmarking my modest earnings as ‘mad money’ might ease the ambivalence.
And then I go and lose my glasses. I lose my glasses something like ten minutes after the ‘mad money’ idea — glasses that cost almost to the dollar what the babysitting will produce in income.
Maybe they’ll turn up. Certainly, I won’t spend $600 to replace them. But correlations like this make me pay attention and ask questions.
Questions like: don’t I deserve to spend $600 on myself? (this from a woman who recently purchased a sweet grass basket in Charleston for $270 and considered it a deal). Or, is the designation ridiculous, given the amount of our resources spent to keep me nicely clothed and in bath salts?
Could it be an old lesson — that old, old one about the dangers of saying ‘Yes’ when I want to say ‘No’ (I thought I was done with this one).
Or maybe it’s about losing focus. Pure and simple (although, what’s simple about that?)
Such first world issues I leave you with today.
UPDaTE: I re-thought the Thursday commitment. Relief. ‘Hear that glasses? You can show up now!’
“Read at the level at which you want to write.” Jennifer Egan (brainpickings.org)
I couldn’t read Roth until I was older and now he is one of my favorite writers. I hope he never dies! I may have read this Zuckerman novel before (or maybe it just seems familiar because it takes place in the Berkshires where I was born and lived a good many years?) No matter, it’s worth a re-read.
Here’s a sentence: “My guess was that it would take even the fiercest Hun the better part of a winter to cross the glacial waterfalls and wind-blasted woods of those mountain wilds before he was able to reach the open edge of Lonoff’s hayfields, rush the rear storm door of the house, crash through the study, and, with spiked bludgeon wheeling high in the air above the little Olivetti, cry out in a roaring voice to the writer tapping out his twenty-seventh draft, ‘You must change your life!'”
Beef with barley soup for lunch after another frigid walk with the dog. And since K won’t be here for dinner, I’m not even cooking: a bowl of fruit, yogurt and sunflower seeds topped with honey from Charleston.
In spite of the wintry temps, I padded up and down the cellar stairs yesterday and the day before to work on this medium-sized quilt. Used the machine down there some, then returned to heat and TV upstairs to iron and sew. Also stitched some seams by hand.
When the construction starts to foreclose possibilities, I am often disappointed. Over the years, I have wondered if there wasn’t some other way to connect up the pieces that would more reliably capture earlier design ideas (like collage the scraps to canvas with gesso?)
I don’t get it.
Later, I’ll make beef with barley soup. Good for a cold evening, almost medicinal in its meaty and grainy deliciousness. And I’ll turn off the news.