Tuesday, January 25, 2011


I am not noted for my patience. Waiting is a supreme test of patience and hopefulness. Because for me hopefulness is tied to plans of action until I know which way the chips are falling, the plans of action and hence my hopefulness lie formless.

Knitting, as well as brushing your hair, can be a makeshift antidote for inchoate, would be hopefulness. A good hair comb smooths the hair and the thinking at least for little things.

But today's waiting is a collection of Big and Little things.

A dear man is waiting for a triple bypass. My sister is by his side. I am thinking of them and have prayers on both sides of the Atlantic flying their way, but all I can do is wait and knit. I am making something for her. By the time she gets it this will be past us. There is no sense in it, but I work over and over the rows. I have ripped it out three times each time making the stitches simpler, as if that simplicity will ensure a return to simpler, easier times for us all.

On this side of the Atlantic, the early news spoke of 2 deaths on the road east of Castletown. Most certainly we know their family. We wait. Early news can be in error. Now we kn ow that one of the people is the son of a member of the local hall committee, so all activities in the hall are cancelled until after the funeral. The funeral of a young person is always so desperately sad that not even the bard himself can compensate for that.

Is there someone else whose family is grieving? We wait.

Waiting is not always without value. Too many young people (and one is too many) have died in road accidents, but the answer is not a quick fix rush to more regulations or more tests or extended time with L or P plates. Perhaps there is no answer, but a patient, more detached study is warranted before action. I may use my fortnightly column in the local paper to explore that topic but now even thinking about it is too raw. I'll wait.

Many years ago as a young person myself I translated from Latin the words of Cicero describing the death of a young person. The words revealed themselves slowly, awkwardly as I did a sight translation (I rarely did my homework, I confess). In this way, the effect of the words if not the words themselves has lingered as I went from child to mother, grandmother and now great-grandmother. Cicero described not only the individual pain but also the upheaval, the disturbance of the natural order of things.

Neither Cicero's words nor 2000 years since his loss has given us any better antidote to that upheaval.

Labels: , , ,

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Just Ahead of the Rain Clouds

Last week the newsreader said the pundits said January 17th was the gloomiest day and then gave a precis of the pseudoscientific reasoning behind it, as if we don't have enough to be gloomy about on our own. As is often the case up here, the picture post card day belied the "experts" yet again. Truth in advertising compels me to say that not every day up here is like a picture post card, but many of them are. And after many days of grey and cold and wet and cold and grey and all variations in between, we had glorious albeit short lived sunlight.

Everyone I met was at least three shades more cheerful than the day before and we all had different yardsticks for measuring better. I was able to do some yoga poses despite having been away from class for more than 2 months that I had not been able to do before. So for me standing on one leg while grasping the big toe of my other foot was a great milestone.

A friend of mine who collects driftwood for sculpture and art projects was chuffed that she was able to bring back three planks and a branch from their discovery on he beach. Definite success.

Another friend was chuffed to be out in the garden and seeing the results of last year's planting.

Today, however, I heard that Jan 24 is now being touted as the gloomiest day of the year. We have a docile grey day today, so I opened windows to let the air inside--stale and too full of winter--escape. The sun is lopwering, the clouds are coming on, but the air is delicious. Languorous with just a hint of the rain to come. I am buffered for whatever tomorrow has to offer.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Knit, Purl, Paso Doble

My parents --both decidely urban in their outlook, although my mother was only a half step away from the farm liked to joke about how the army had trained farm boys to march by replacing "right" and "left" with "hay foot" and "straw foot." I'm sure it was an exaggeration at best or more likely an early version of an urban legend. Nonetheless it popped into my head recently as I was struggling to cope with right and left-ness.

I am not a fan of popular culture and have sworn off any reality TV, but I am a sucker for dancing, so my New Year's Resolution led me to buy the DVD of the Fitness routines based on dance steps from Strictly Come Dancing. So there I was struggling with right and left in front of the TV.

OK the first revelation (Thanks to my sister Molly) was that if I looked at the TV in the mirror, I would not have to contend with the right-left reversal which was way too much for my poor brain. As it happens, there is a glass front cabinet that provides enough of a mirror effect, so I now march with my back to the TV--which must look even odder than otherwise.

OK that worked--better. And then as I was marching up and down trying to master the basic steps of a paso doble and trying to remember if the count is one, I should be on my right-left---oooh . And then hay foot straw foot came to the rescue.

The right foot is the right side--the knit side in a stocking stitch (plain knitting) world.

And the left side is the purl side. Of course. Knit purl knit purl. My paso doble has improved enormously since this revelation.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Just a Bit Further

Posted by Picasa

There have been times when I should have gone a bit further and didn't, and of course the converse as well. Because the walk to the first gate that leads on to the loch through mucky water and reeds had been easy and the weather amicable enough, I decided to go on a bit further and find the rough road on high ground leading to the loch. It was not much further--as is often the case--and I was rewarded with an easy walk closer to the edge of the loch.

The ducks had long since seen me coming and flown up and then over to another opening in the skim ice on the loch. The swans were only a speck on the horizon and so could easily ignore me. I stood leaning on the gate and heard only water, wind, and birds. I took this panorama shot to try to hint at the lovely open vistas, but it is only a hint.

If you look at the far right of the photo, you'll see a little cloud--up here that might be just a fit of pique that played itself out without ever reaching me. Or, it might be the tip of a weather front. In this case, that little cloud called up several of his fellow-travellers--all a bit surly--and they pelted me with tiny sharp teeth of snow.

I headed back and, prompted by the snow, reflected on the peculiar physics of walking just a bit further: it is even further going back. Because I had been focused--literally and metaphorically on catching some of the scenery with my camera, I had not noticed that my legs were tired as well as chilled and my hands were stiff with cold. Worse yet, the energy I needed to walk faster to get myself warm and home was nowhere to be found. I was not worried. It is an easy road home, but it was a reminder of what keeps me--and I suspect many of us-- from taking those steps further to discover the higher road--the leaden ache of effort.

Now home safe, warm and dry, I have sorted out photos--about half of those I took are worth keeping--and can tend to my aching muscles. In a few days I'll go again and explore what is just a few steps further.