Weather Rules

autumncolormanscar.jpgI’ve waited to start my note for the day because the power has been disrupted by the snowstorm.  We have about an inch of snow on the lawn and it’s not going above freezing today so there’s a little black ice scattered through the county.  Doesn’t sound like enough to mess with the power, but for the past three hours my power has taken five to ten second breaks every now and then, making things flash like crazy, killing the computer, and making the printer go totally nuts with a noise that sounds like a scared raccoon is trapped in it.  For some reason Lucy has a disproportionate reaction to the power going off, getting all riled up and barking like she’s cornered a burglar.  Is that normal dog behavior?  I have to ask my dog-savvy friend-she always knows what dogs are thinking and she translates for me when Lucy is  being weird. 

Aside from the weather stuff, this day started eerily like yesterday.  Once again I’ve finished a piece that I did not like, and frogged it (you know, when you rip it out, “ribbit, ribbit, ribbit” like a frog), and embarked on something that works better.  I think I mentioned yesterday that lavender and black weren’t working.  Well, I didn’t confess that I was pulling them both together and making a nauseating combo that was too bright and too muddled and just downright hard on the eyes!  Today, having frogged a lavender experiment, I’ve decided that the way to do lavender and black together is with lots of lavender and skinny, sophisticated touches of black.  You’ll see when it’s done.   The lavender experiment was sort of a beret, but the proportions were all wrong.  Now I can see just how deep the overlap has to be, and the next beret will be spectacular.  Yes, I’m still in cashmere.  “Once you get started, oh it’s hard to stop…” Chaka Kahn was singing that when I was in college, and I’m sure she was referring to cashmere.

Ellen Degeneres just finished her leftover show by rapping the lyrics to a Missy Elliott song.  I think she has as much intergenerational appeal as any public figure, and I love it that she does things that society may consider to be in the domain of youth.  The lines have blurred between the various ages now, and I don’t think anyone is still scratching their heads over what kind of music rock’n roll stars will make as they get older, but there are still some who feel that middle age demands a certain kind of demeanor, dress and choice of entertainment.

There are lots of things people feel compelled to give up as they get older, and the one that galls me the most is when they give up the opportunity to learn.  Learning a new skill or craft, reading on a topic that is new to you, taking a tour of a new place-these activities stretch us, allow us to grow, and ward off the mental fungus of aging.  So many of these opportunities are free or nearly free.  Examples are a trip to the library, going to the museum on freebie Friday, clicking on a new website on the computer, or taking a do-it-yourself class at your local hardware store.   Even volunteering can introduce us to a new skill or industry, with free training!

Speaking of clicking on new websites, I am thrilled to be here in the time of the Internet, and confused when I see young people ignoring its power for education.  They use it for communicating with their friends, looking up movie schedules, downloading music and displaying their lives to the world.  They even use it for research when prodded by a professor, but they don’t use it to satisfy their day-to-day curiosity about the world or to improve their skills in dealing with that world.  I’ve asked several lately why they ask me for a word definition or the location of a country when their laptops are open in front of them.  Their answers range from “it’s easier to ask someone” to “I wasn’t taught to use the computer for that”.  The first answer baffles me.  How hard is it to type “google.com” and then enter a few words into their search engine?  Are the choices that come up too numerous, or is it too difficult to separate authoritative sources from bogus ones?  The last answer denotes some responsibility for self-education that we have not instilled in our children.  How could this powerful tool be in front of you and not tempt you to delve into all the world’s knowledge?  I remember the allure of the old set of World Book Encyclopedias that propped up my childhood learning.  I would thumb through them and find something interesting and new to read, or dig through pages of information to find the answer to some obscure question in my mind.   

Oh well, enough fussing at today’s youth.  In all fairness, they live incredibly pressured and complex lives, and have to be commended for keeping their heads above water in this craziness.  I am surrounded by loving, smart, sweet-natured young people who have already dealt with ten times the emotional stress I had at their age.  Bless them.  Bless us all.

Peace.

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Friday Already?!

Mornin’ all!  You can see what’s on my mind.  I’ve frittered away another week and it’s Friday and of course I haven’t finished my To Do list.  From yesterday’s goals, it’s an easy pick for what didn’t get done.  Not a bill was paid, not even one.  I am not one of those people who hates paying bills.  I am forever grateful that I have the means to pay my bills, and I feel really accomplished and grown-up and capable when I sit down and pay everyone.  The big hurdle is getting everything together to pay them.  First, I kind of clear a space on my kitchen table.  That’s the same table where I write shopping lists, pile up mail, do some photographs of my products, lay out things that need piecing, and do other art projects.  Once in a blue moon we actually eat there.  Next I collect all the stuff I need:  plain envelopes (for businesses that are too cheap to send you a return envelope), stamps (an assortment of current 41 cents, old 39 cents, and the 2 cent bridges), bills(some scattered around in the house in alternate mail sorting stations), a pen (preferably a Pilot G-2 with blue ink), and a cup of coffee.  Oops, forgot, need my laptop because I pay some of them online.  Damn.  Why did I write out that list?  I’m tired just thinking about it and I cannot get out of it today because guilt is nagging at me. 

Guilt is a chronic theme with me.  I was raised by older parents.  They had six children in two groups.  I was the first child of the second group, which consists of me and my baby sister, the afterthoughts.  There’s almost a ten year gap between groups, which means we got the old parents.  My older sisters were raised by the younger, more current parents, who did not change their parenting techniques one iota to deal with their pair of late offspring.  The old parents taught me to always, ALWAYS work before play, keep a schedule, take pride in my work, do my best, and clean my plate.  When I was in my residency at Johns Hopkins Hospital slaving away day and night and day again (yes, we took call every other night as interns and we went home only when the work was done) I would finish a long two days and make it to the front steps of the hospital and sit down and cry.  Periodically I would call my parents and tell them how awful it was and then I’d get a letter in the mail with a newspaper clipping with some timely topic -“Staying Close to God in Times of Stress” or “How Pro Athletes Train Their Minds and Bodies” or “Rebel Teen Crashes and Burns” and writing on the flap of the envelope that said “WORK HARD”.  You get the picture. 

They may have made that emphasis because they realized that I was a kid who would always question the rules before deciding whether to follow them, and that I would choose the low, brambly road before the high, direct one.  Despite my questioning tendencies and my ability to do other than what my training told me, I still have major pangs of guilt from those synapses made in my childhood.    I am still trying to break those spiderweb-like threads that grab at me.  They don’t have the ability to hold me any more, but they can worry the heck out of me. 

Fortunately I am 50 and have learned some timely lessons.  In my 30s I realized that I’d never reach steady state, life would never smooth out and be calm and predictable, and there would always be a crisis lurking.  In my 40s, after years with lupus, I learned to make my standards comfortably low and really go after the things that had a high priority for me.  So today, I can think about paying bills, realize that it’s only number three or four on my list, and decide that I won’t die or cause world devastation if I put them off another day or two. 

What I’d really rather do today is knit.  And stuff related to knitting.  I want to visit the Yarn Works Inc studio (http://www.yarnworksinc.com/) and take out the summery stuff that I had there on consignment and replace it with winter stuff.  Yarn Works Inc. is a coop of eight women who have various fiber arts interests.  They have put together a studio that is a wonderful, warm place to shop and learn.  It’s in a rehabbed saddle factory on the Southside of Chattanooga.  You may not realize it, but Chattanooga is acclaimed for our farsighted, comprehensive work in sustainability.  You probably have realized that I am obsessed with documentation, and when I make a claim I’m gonna give you a reference, so here’s a little something to read about Chattanooga and it’s incredible progress in this area:  http://www.nextstep.state.mn.us/casestudy.cfm?id=74

Okay.  My work here is done.  I’m gonna watch one of my idols, Ellen Degeneres, and knit.

Peace!