Wednesday, June 18, 2014

He did each single thing.
as if he did nothing else.
-Charles Dickens

This quote popped into my life the other day, via a Facebook link to a blog--a twenty-first century connection to 19th century wisdom.  Funny, I never really considered that a Victorian writer would struggle with our contemporary malaise of multitasking and fragmented urgency.  Perhaps it's simply a common human struggle, this seeking focused presence.

Living each moment, really seeing and breathing it in as it occurs, is not always easy, but I do try.  There is no reason in retirement to ever be harried or hurried.  I really do have the time to take it more slowly.  I have time to enjoy the hulling and tasting of the sweet, succulent strawberry, and I have time to enjoy each step in making the jam.  I have time to embrace the setting of my house in order (a better word for housework)--the physical demands of it and the soft satisfaction of living in a space well kempt.   I have time to love the warmth of the summer sun and notice the movement of my shoulders while I push the mower and the pull the weeds.  I have time to enjoy the evening bike ride on the paths that wander through our sweet town.  And I have time enjoy the luxury of a crossword puzzle over the breakfast table.

My yoga teacher quietly yet firmly pulls me back and pushes me forward each week as she leads us in breathing deeply and stretching further and that practice helps in centering.  My quiet time in the morning, the early part of the day spent nestled in my chair with coffee, newspaper, computer and bible begin the day in peace (although I ought to abstain from the computer more often!).  In the evening, at the closing of the day, my knitting, the comfort of the repetition of hand wisdom and the book by my bed lull me into quieter places and soul spaces from daily life. 

It is a good goal--to be present every moment, to do each thing, one at a time, not fretting about what was nor worrying about what shall be.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

The Prosaic Dishcloth

The sophistication of the form of the word belies its meaning: prosaic--a three syllable word meaning ordinary, everyday, commonplace, run-of-the-mill.  The etymology reveals prosaic comes from the Latin prosa meaning prose or the opposite of poetry.

Prosaic is how I categorize my knitting of late.  While I knit dishcloths from time to time (great car knitting!), about once a year, I come under a spell of dishcloth knitting, picking up ball after ball of the simplest cotton yarn and fashioning a pile of domestic tools, most likely destined as hostess gifts or stocking stuffers. 

I knit a couple from this durable, classic ballband pattern, titled thus because the pattern traditionally was found printed inside the band wrapped to secure the ball of yarn.

And speaking of classic patterns, there is nothing more classic than this grandmother's favorite pattern, the pattern I made over and over and over again when I first started knitting.  I think it still good practice for new, practicing knitters.

Less well know patterns but two more favorites are this pattern, an old one from the Thrifty Knitter which is a modified version of the ballband pattern above

and this one, a Waffle Knit dishcloth from Homespun Living where there are patterns other great dishcloths too.

I am not certain what fuels my urge to immerse myself in making these little squares for the kitchen sink.  Maybe because they are so quick to knit, such easy gratification.  Maybe because they are light on the hands and in the lap, or maybe it is because every so often I like to revisit the roots of my knitting life. I have many knitter friends who get their kicks from working through elaborate sweaters and complicated shawls filled with cables and lacework patterns.  I, on the other hand, always gravitate toward basic lines and simple variations of knit and purl with maybe a few tucks of interest here and there.  I wonder sometimes if that means I am simply a prosaic knitter, basically mundane or humdrum, lacking imagination...lacking poetry.  Then I think about my favorite poets who look deeply into the ordinary to find the extraordinary.  Jane Kenyon wrote a simple poem about a clothespin, a meditation where she suggests that pinning clean sheets on the line with a "gray-brown wooden clothes pin" is better than moaning about your life.  Maybe that is what I knit dishcloths, my own simple retreat from the moans of life.  And perhaps that is actually more poetic than it may appear.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

A Little Milestone

It was the first time.  The first time Rosemary and Nana took a road trip from her house to ours, just the two of us. It was also the first time Rosemary spent an overnight at Nana's and Grandad's by herself.  A great time was certainly had by all.

We walked to the park and went sliding...over..and over...and over.


We colored, cooked, rode a tricycle, met the neighbors, read, slept, and ate. Simple things.  Fun things, both inside and out.  

It feels like a big deal, this first solo step a little farther away from home without Mama and Daddy. This little bit of independence adds another chapter to the story we write with our sweet, little girl.