Receive each day as
a resurrection from death,
as a new enjoyment of life.
Photography by James E. Miller
It is not the employer who pays the wages.
Employers only handle the money.
It is the customer who pays the wages.
I have a self-inflicted rule—to avoid impulse buying, I wait and save up for something that strikes my fancy. If I still want it in time, I’m more likely to get my money’s worth out of it. When I was in high school, my sister and I wanted a high fidelity record player. Our mother gave us a jar and encouraged us to save up for one. During the year it took us to fill the jar, stereophonic record players came on the market. Needless to say, we were glad we waited. Several years ago, a participant at a writer’s conference showed me her Livescribe pen and extolled its virtues. It struck my fancy to the extent that I saved up and finally bought one. It was delightful and fulfilled its promises. Select this link to see what wonderful things it can do.
I have been on a learning curve for several other pieces of technology so I didn’t use my pen for several months. When I tried to recharge it, I had problems with the battery. That is the bad news. The good news is, I emailed the company and received a reply from a customer service person named Wendy. After trouble-shooting to no avail, she made arrangements to replace the pen since the battery was still under warranty (just barely). My new pen came promptly in the mail. Thank you Livescribe and thank you Wendy R.
I am no more lonely than
the loon in the pond that laughs so loud, or than
Walden Pond itself.
[Henry David Thoreau]
In Duke Ellington’s song, “Solitude,” he writes of lost love and despair. He writes, “I sit and I stare, I know that I’ll soon go mad in my solitude…”
In Henry David Thoreau’s essay, “Solitude,” he writes at great length about the nurturing beauty and enriching companionship he finds in his solitude. He writes, “I am no more lonely than the loon in the pond that laughs so loud, or than Walden Pond itself.”
In the past seven decades, my attitude about solitude has become less Ellington and more Thoreau. Therein lies the key—attitude.
I pulled my neighbor’s Adirondack chair into the sun and sat in solitude this morning. The breeze was chilly for mid June, but the sky was blue and colors vibrant. I looked back at my home with its window boxes and lace curtains. Solitude for me was that moment in the middle of a city of 300,000 people when birds were the only sound and my furry buddy my only companion. I choose to live in relative solitude. It suits me. I can be alone when I need to work and think, and I can seek out companionship when I need to hear another human voice. I meet the public with more civility because I replenish my positive attitude when I am alone.
When I was a teen, I liked solitude for reading and for shutting out the cacophony of life with which I had not yet learned to cope. At the same time, I was experiencing the adolescent angst of wanting friends and wanting to be liked.
As a young adult, I was smitten with the desire for a life’s companion. That threw me into the midst of crowds of other young adults. I equated being busy with being alive. Solitude still drew me from time to time, but it also frightened me. Would I go through life alone?
In my family years, I sought solitude wherever I could find it—thirty minutes in the bath tub, or early morning coffee at the kitchen table. My life was so well populated that I equated solitude with escape into quiet.
There were spans of time when I was painfully lonely in spite of my full house, especially when I was tied to indifferent life companions. Then the time came when I was really alone. My children grew up. My parents died. My life companions simply left. I have not been lonely since. I have come to realize that the difference is because my solitude is a choice and is not enforced by one circumstance or another.
(The Story Circle Network is an international not-for-profit membership organization made up of women who want to document their lives and explore their personal stories through journaling, memoir, autobiography, personal essays, poetry, drama, and mixed-media. This was written for an internet circle affiliated with that group.)
Do you hear that whistle down the line?
I figure that it’s engine number forty-nine
She’s the only one that’ll sound that way
On the Atchison, Topeka, and the Santa Fe
My choice of a window seat on the Texas Eagle grew into a magical experience. I’d paid $210.00 for a round trip coach ticket between Chicago and Austin, Texas. I’d left my car in South Bend and caught the South Shore (electric commuter train) to Chicago. I’d hoisted my bags up and down steps, in and out of cabs, and through the crowds at Union Station. And then I found the magic window seat.
On my drive down U.S. 30 toward home, I felt like I’d just finished reading a novel based upon John Donne’s poem:
No man is an island entire of itself; every man
is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;
… any man’s death diminishes me,
because I am involved in mankind.
And therefore never send to know for whom
the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.
The hurrier I go, the behinder I get.
My April was full of activity, and my to do lists were longer than my time and energy. My blog posts were non-existent. Now that I have taken a long breath, I do want to share several things.
First, the Dayton Knitting Guild annual retreat at Bergamo featured Debbie Wilson as our teacher. The tea pot cozy in the photo above was just one of the projects. She also presented us with the challenge of knitting brioche stitch in the round. Hum-m-m. I got the gist of it but raveled my sample to knit the cozy. Debbie is an accomplished knitting teacher and a lovely person. I also enjoyed the yarn market and, of course, renewing old friendships.
Next, do subscribe if you don’t want to miss hearing about the contest. I plan to review the new knitting book by Charlene Schurch and Beth Parrott later this week. I’ll be drawing a name from the commenters on that post so that I can mail the winner a copy of their new book.
Third, my account of a trip on the Texas Eagle is coming soon. Instead of the Orient Express, it could have been called the Blue Bonnet Special.
Grace is knowing when to bind off.
Okay, so I got a bit carried away. This Regia Hand-dye Effect yarn caught my eye not only because of its color, but also for its unusual texture. It has what looks like single-spun wool wrapped with a fine strand of nylon to strengthen it for wear, but it knits up smoothly and felt wonderful when I tried it on.
I am currently working on a toe-up anklet pattern for a workshop in May. I have it adjusted for a variety of stitches, yarn weights and needles. I was trying one more variation with this yarn but failed to stop at the ankle and made it knee high. There are cabled clocks up each side, and increases on the back half to enlarge it for the calf of the leg. It actually stays up.
Once a new technology rolls over you,
if you’re not part of the steamroller,
you’re part of the road.
We all have our odd turns of the mind. One of mine is a fear of ending up as road kill on the information super highway. After working more than 25 years in graphic design, I still spend as much time in training as I do designing. Software upgrades are a big part of that, and Lynda.com is my main training resource. One of my favorites there is Anne-Marie Concepcion of Seneca Design and Training, and InDesign Secrets.
Fear of not knowing enough can hold a person back from finishing a job, just like fear of the marketplace (agoraphobia) can keep some folks entrenched in their homes. A thought struck me as I was scrubbing out the toilet bowl this morning. I was doing that chore to procrastinate from working on a design job. I really enjoy my design jobs so why put it off? I realized that I don’t necessarily procrastinate because I’m lazy. I usually procrastinate because I’m not quite sure I have the right solution to a production issue. The question is, how much of my mental block is based on a misperception?
I’ve successfully completed countless design jobs over the years, but I’d just watched a video about advances in the software I’ve used for a decade. There were five more hours of lessons available. What if I missed something that would make a difference in the project? Well, phooey, I thought. If I’d waited to upgrade like other designers I know, I couldn’t even do what I didn’t yet know how to do. I simply finished the job. I’ll watch the other five hours later.
The conclusion to all of this goes back to maintaining a balance (but then I wonder if I can get a life-time membership on the training site?).
When I was hunting a “keeping up with technology” quotation for this post,
I had trouble picking just one. Here is another quote that nudged my funny bone:
If GM had kept up with technology like the computer industry has,
we would all be driving $25 cars that got 1000 MPG
The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree:
the presence of a happy family
all wrapped up in each other.
In the late 1940s, my Aunt Esther was working on a masters degree in children’s book illustration when she composed and illustrated a book that told the story of my grandmother’s childhood in Kansas—Little Sister Sunflower. One episode in the book tells about the doll in the pink dress in this photo that I snapped this morning.
My grandmother, Gertrude Chamberlain nee Black (the Sunflower), was born in 1877. This Christmas story took place on Christmas Eve when she was six.
It was just the kind of weather for Christmas. It looked like the Currier and Ives print hanging in the front parlor. Snow covered this Kansas world, and the clouds were so low they looked like they were resting their elbows on the tree tops.
The Sunflower was leaning on the windowsill, blowing her breath on the windowpane. “Night will never come. It will just never come,” the little girl murmured.
Tonight was the district Christmas tree at Peebler school house. Ma had worked in the front parlor with the door closed most of the afternoon. Pa and the boys had the chores done. The sleigh stood at the back gate.
It was finally supper time, but the Sunflower was too excited to eat. Everything was so wonderful at Christmas time. The house smelled good with cedar and cookies and molasses taffy and good nature.
Ma put on the Sunflower’s best dress of dark wool over her small hoop. Then she bundled the squirming child into the red velvet cloak and hood. Myrtle wrapped hot bricks in paper for foot warmers, and pa carried the box of gifts out to the sleigh. At last, they were finally in the sleigh. Francis and John William rode along side on horses.
The Sunflower closed her eyes. She had waited all day for this moment. The team dashed through the lot gate to the music of the sleigh bells on their harness. It was a merry trip with laughter and greetings to neighbors along the way.
The school house was packed. Each family in the district had brought their gifts to put under the community tree. The sunflower’s eyes were wide with wonder and amazement as she gazed at the tree with its hundreds of gleaming candles. Each time someone opened the school house door, the candle flames would bend and dance.
Almost at the top of the tree, tied to a big limb, was a beautiful doll. Her china head with painted hair glistened in the candle light. The Sunflower was sure the doll’s blue eyes were looking directly at her.
Santa Claus came in with a flurry of snow and sleigh bells. He laughed and began to hand out the gifts, but the Sunflower didn’t even hear what Santa was saying. She was carrying on an imaginary conversation with the beautiful doll. Wonder who would get her? The Snarr girls? They never took care of their playthings. Maybe it was little Florence or Mattie Belle Deweese.
Jack Keck, who was helping Santa give out the presents, reached up and took down the lovely doll. He looked at the name tag and read out loud, “Miss Gertrude Chamberlain!”
The Sunflower couldn’t breathe, but she held out her six-year-old arms to receive the precious gift. The doll was almost as tall as the little girl. It had tiny china hands, and feet with painted shoes. It wore a dress like the Sunflower’s and had three starched petticoats.
The child held the doll close, kissing the cool china head over and over again. She saw no more of the Christmas party.
—Esther F. Clark, Little Sister Sunflower, 1948