—ing

Wondering … how to get back to clicking publish.

Writing … umpteen drafts; words that question everything; words I’m not brave enough to speak aloud.

Suspecting … my words don’t matter anyway.

Needing … escape.

Reading … The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt’s New World. Loving it. Loving knowing my daughter will want to read it too.

Planning … to read more. To fill the year — and quiet the internal chatter — with more and more reading. On the list: Mrs Woolf and the Servants: An Intimate History of Domestic Life in Bloomsbury; Diary of a Provincial LadyThe Tenant of Wildfell HallThe Return of the NativeIce Diaries: An Antarctic MemoirNorth and South.

Noticing … a pattern in that reading list: classics, classism, feminism, environmentalism; not a single contemporary work.

Continuing … to read aloud to my 11-year-old son. This fall we read Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy (The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass). I had read it before, but absolutely loved re-reading it; my son was — gratifyingly — enthralled with the depth and complexity of the story. We’re currently reading The Alchemyst series, and are on book #3.

Feeling … grateful that my son is the kind of kid who, at age eleven, will still lean shoulder to shoulder against me as I read, and who, when I ask, Now, where were we?, is able to tell me exactly what happened at the end of the previous day’s reading.

Realizing … 40-some years on, I can still “hear” my Dutch grandfather’s voice, and can picture him across the table, as he prayed and then read aloud from the Bible after lunch. Onze Vader in de hemel…

Knitting … constantly. A hat, a smitten, a pair of mittens, and three miniature Weasley sweater ornaments in the weeks before Christmas. Another hat and a half in January, some progress on yet more socks, and another pair of mittens requested and planned.

Listening … to CBC Radio and podcasts. As It HappensIdeasTapestry. Listening to Tapestry led me to the really lovely podcast Harry Potter and the Sacred Text.

Cooking … everything Oh She Glows. 2016 was the International Year of Pulses (legumes, for those unfamiliar with the term pulse); I meant to do a post about it, but didn’t…

Drinking … black coffee and green tea.

Enjoying … darning socks. Really.

Waiting … for snow. We did have a white Christmas, but then came rain and warm temperatures and now the snow is gone.

Liking … my 2016 wall calendar so much (it was a year of Amanda White’s Writers’ Houses) that I wish I could just keep using it in perpetuity.

Deciding … to put away the sewing machine.

Looking … for reasons to be optimistic.

Watching … hockey practices while knitting.

Ignoring … cold hands while knitting while watching hockey practices.

Questioning … if the word work is losing its meaning as a verb.

Considering … the various scenarios that could arise with Trump as US president. Aren’t we all …

Marvelling … at the ability of a fair few to be willfully blind to facts and to not see that which is right under their noses.

Admiring … a certain young woman who is brave enough to go on exchange.

Embracing … my looming 50th and my greying hair.

Wishing … I knew if some things were worth my while.

Making … inroads in purging sentimental clutter. I’ve bagged some baby clothes that have been sitting on a chair in our bedroom for the past six months.

Cringing … at the fact that some of those baby clothes are 20 years old. And that I allowed 20-year-old baby clothes to sit on a chair in our bedroom for six months.

Buying … new glasses. After three years with a frame I loathed I now have a pair which (I think) says classic with just a hint of edginess, exactly the look I was going for.

Hoping … the people I am worrying about will be okay.

Wanting … that certain young woman on exchange to pick up some locally-made sock yarn. I know I told her not to worry about it, but I really do want some.

Pretending … not to be worried. About everything. All the time.

Trying … to believe that small things matter.

12 thoughts on “—ing

  1. Oh I was so happy to see your post today! I haven’t found the time to blog myself, but I LOVE LOVE LOVE when I see that my favorite online friends have posted.

    And (perhaps I’m being naive) but i believe that your words and small things matter. SO MUCH. I’ve watched so many amazing people kindly and truthfully speak this week and I’m so grateful for them because it reminds me to be brave and speak too. It may be hard to be the first voice and the only voice at times, but I’m so grateful for those who are willing to do that!! (Because I REALLY struggle with being that).

    On a less serious note: love seeing that you’re knitting and knitting and knitting away. I’m working on a scarf/wrap thing and almost finished with Violet’s 2017 sweater (just need to add sleeves, block, and add some buttons). After a year of socks, it’s nice to hold worsted weight yarn and bigger needles. I still have some socks I need to finish from earlier in the year as well as a pair I promised Abram. Abe’s yarn is a gorgeous,gorgeous green so I want to have them done by St. Pat’s. (And I’m hoping to have enough left over for a pair of rose city rollers for myself). Your Weasley sweater ornaments are adorable!!! I pinned a whole slew of tiny things to knit for ornaments in the hopes to make some and I just LOVE these. Did you make your own pattern or did you find one that you liked?

    Again, I’m glad to see you post. And I hope you’ll share some of those posts that your scared to hit publish on…HUGS!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you SO much for all your kind words, Kate — I’m so glad you’re here, friend 🙂 .

      I think that many of us are struggling with words these days. I think that’s reflected in the whole hygge craze that started last year — we’re so overwhelmed all we want is to just hunker down and keep safe and warm. It’s so hard to know what to say about the big things … and then the small things … ? I think that many of us probably feel that the small things we’re doing are not worth mentioning, that they’re trite and trivial when compared to everything going on in the world around us. This is a huge struggle for me, and probably for other deep-thinkers as well … HOW to be able to find joy, but then conversely, how DARE I find joy?

      I can’t wait to see Violet’s sweater! (And Abram’s socks!) I agree — it IS really nice to get to use bigger needles after doing socks for a long while! The mittens I made before Christmas were done with two strands of worsted held together, on US 10 needles, and oh.my.gosh. they came along so fast they practically FLEW off the needles! And I don’t know what it is about tiny knitted things, but YES, they just catch my breath with their sweetness. I used this (top-down, seamless) pattern: http://www.ravelry.com/projects/ABHyde/mini-weasley-sweater-ornaments . And my kids — even my 18-year-old son! — were all Awwww! and absolutely loved them (which was so gratifying I almost cried). I have a real soft spot for homemade (or otherwise special/meaningful) Christmas ornaments — I hope if you do get some of those ornaments made you share them on your blog, because I’d love to see them.

      Hugs to you, too, Kate 🙂

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  2. I am not entirely embracing my gray/white hairs…my hairdresser has been on maternity leave since November, and over xmas I decided I would no longer dye my hair, I would embrace my white hairs! I need an appointment right this second to put in white highlights all around my face! Except she doesn’t come back from maternity leave till February and now a few weeks later I’m all hmm, all these encroaching gray roots are making me look old. Perhaps white highlights around my face will not be flattering.

    In my six months off from the internet I have been exercising all the time and while I am looking quite fit these days, I am having great doubts about the external imposition of the pressure to look attractive. At 42 years of age I am tired of putting forth effort for the sole purpose of other people finding me visually pleasing. I like having muscles and I want to stop spending money on my hair. And yet.

    I too am worried about everything, all the time. Especially now that the Fall of the Republic started at noon today.

    My “feeling overwhelmed and worried” reading list tends to be YA lit favorites. Restarting HP for the millionth time. Just finished Anne of Green Gables for the millionth time.

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    1. It is SO nice to hear from you, Lisa! (I still often check your blog to see if you’re back to writing there…)

      On the subject of grey hair … I was kinda sorta forced into accepting greying hair right from the get-go (in my 30s) when my two attempts at having my hair dyed at a salon resulted in me feeling so ill that I figured I might just be allergic to the stuff. In other words, I think a slow and steady change is much easier to accept than a drastic, “Oh, crap, my hairdresser’s away and look at that line of grey marching across my crown!” I do think that how you look/feel in grey really depends upon your skin tone and natural hair colour. A friend has remarked that I am just really really lucky that my greys are coming in pretty evenly, that they match the texture of the rest of my hair, and that the silver sets off my blue eyes. As someone who has always railed against the whole “putting forth effort for the sole purpose of other people finding me visually pleasing” it was kind of a nice surprise to hear that my “letting myself go” (ahem) was actually not an unflattering look. I think, though, that I would probably still have gone grey even if it didn’t look all that great (and even if I weren’t allergic). Frugality aside (I have a really hard time spending money on myself), it REALLY annoys me that men are “allowed” to look their age and women are NOT. So my grey hair is a bit of a nod to the idea of “be the change you want to see in the world” (which is tempered with the knowledge that I have absolutely NO risk in taking this stand — I’m not a news anchor (for example) who is going to lose her job because she is refusing to play this societal game).

      With regards to exercising and having muscles, I think the fact that one “looks” fit should definitely be “sold” as a secondary byproduct to what is really the most important thing: the fact that being fit and having muscles is paramount in order to keep your health and independence when you’re (much) older. I’ve heard (but don’t know for sure if it’s true) that we start to lose muscle mass after age 40. As a naturally slim woman with precious little muscle mass to spare, this is something that’s been in the back of my mind for a decade now (!) and yet I haven’t really taken steps to make exercise (beyond walking) a priority. I think I should take a page from your book and make it a priority … my 80-year-old self will be grateful!

      A few months ago, I re-read the entire HP series aloud to my 11-year-old (for the second time!) — I loved every minute of it, despite the fact that that was probably my sixth time reading it. And Anne of Green Gables … LOVE that series! (I didn’t read it until I was an adult, and read them alongside my daughter 🙂 ).

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  3. So glad to see you hear again Marian, and yes your words DO matter! (but they don’t have to be perfect – just hit that button….).
    I’m with you on the many reasons to feel anxious and scared, but having had some even-more-sleepless nights than usual over this weekend I am resolved that (a) that helps no-one, least of all me, and (b) the answer is to focus on the positive. And the main reason to feel optimistic is that far more people didn’t vote for the awful than did (both here in the UK and in the US), that so many of us are willing to show solidarity and resistance, and that in the end light will triumph over darkness (I know, that one is a hope rather than a fact, but I choose to believe and act accordingly).
    Anne of Green Gables – oh yes, just what I need to re-read right now!
    Hope that young woman is enjoying her time this side of the Atlantic. Let me know if she would like a visit to Bath – we’d be happy to have her for a weekend and show her around, or to meet up with her in London for the day – though she may be too busy working for anything like that! (contact me via email if you/she would like to follow up on that).

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    1. Thank you, Deborah. You’re absolutely right on the worrying (that it helps no one and actually hurts the worrier) and on the need to keep positive. Writing this post (and most importantly, actually pressing publish) — and getting to talk with like-minded friends — has been SUCH a boost to my spirits. I need to remember that connections and community are vital, and that it’s easier to keep hope and positivity alive when we can encourage each other.

      The young woman is doing very, very well! Although she’s busy with classes, she also does have time to go exploring. She’s spent a day in Oxford (which she LOVED) and had the opportunity to go to the Harry Potter Studio tour (also LOVED!). I will let her know of your very kind offer to tour her around Bath 🙂 !

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      1. So glad to hear she’s doing well. Are you going to get the opportunity to visit her while she’s over?
        And by way of additional reassurance, in case you need it, you write well and your posts so far haven’t failed to be interesting. I love that our blogs enable us to play around with our thoughts and share with others, and as you say, mostly we find like-minded friends to bat ideas around with.

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      2. Many thanks for the kind words about my writing, Deborah — it helps enormously to know my posts are interesting (and it IS wonderful to be able to bat ideas around with friends; far better than just having them cycling around endlessly in one’s head!!).

        We are debating whether or not we will be able to join her for a bit. I suspect if it happens it will just be my husband who goes (they would love to do some sort of a cycling tour together), as I don’t know if I can shake the worry (there it is again!) about leaving our 18-year-old “alone” and without support. (“Alone” in quotations because technically he already is alone, being 2+ hours away at university. Without going into too many details, we had an incident over the Christmas holidays which rather shook me, and made me feel as though I really need to be within some sort of “reasonable” reach. Some (my husband, my SIL…) would say I am once again letting fear rule my life, and yes, they are probably right, but there it is… 😦 .)

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  4. Marian, You have no idea how good you are, nor how glad I am that you commented on my blog. Yours is PRECISELY the kind of blog that inspired me to try blogging. Needlework and Harry Potter and rants against plastic bottles and all of those genuine, real, important things. Did you know The Quince Tree? She stopped, or stalled, blogging but I so admired her sensible posts. We seem to have buckets in common and I seriously wish we could share a pot of tea and get to know each other a little. Keep writing.

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    1. Oh Lynda — thank you, thank you, from the bottom of my heart. I have been reading your blog for months now, making a mental list of just how much you and I have in common (it’s quite spooky, actually) and I think it was precisely THAT that kept me quiet … I was so worried that you would come over here and rather than seeing a kindred spirit would simply think I was just some complaining crank. (Because that is, unfortunately, how I assess my blog most days.) To be honest, I have been debating stopping the blog. I’m not a prolific writer and my perfectionism can be paralysing, making the process way more painful than it should be. On the flip side, my thoughts seem to run around my brain in essay-form, and writing them out and posting them has been at times therapeutic. I recently moved from Bluehost (where I was paying X dollars/month) to a free wordpress site, thinking that if I DID stop writing I would at least not be paying for the privilege of leaving my words intact — and very unfortunately, just this morning I’ve discovered that ALL my pictures from all my pre-move posts have somehow gone AWOL!
      /bangs head on desk/

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well Marian, the list of things we have in common continues to grow: I lost loads of photos last year but it was mostly through my own ignorance of technical matters.
        I too find that it’s usually the ranty, cranky stuff that moves me to write. This is what I tell myself: I’m not forcing anyone to read my blog and, while I get a kick from every new follower, I can live with the fact that most people who pass by here DON’T opt to follow. I’m probably not completely past trying to make people like me but, I guess, I don’t get stressed about it. I’m not trying to sell anything, or myself, that helps.
        Also, I absolutely know that 90% of what I write here is codswallop, just a purge of words from my word-crammed brain. Maybe 10% is something I would be willing to show the world. The problem is that if I don’t keep going, keep writing and hitting publish regardless, I WILL stop completely.
        Like you, I consider stopping ALL THE TIME. I have a serious crisis of nerves every six weeks or so. This thing is hard. Sometimes, it kills me. More times, it keeps me sane. I have no answers!
        Very few of my real life friends/family make any comment amount the blog. To be honest, I think it bores them. Or possibly embarrasses them, or maybe scares them. I do care but try not to.
        A very smart man I know (PhD in maths from MIT kind of smart) asked if I enjoy writing the blog. The instinctive answer, from my gut, was that I love it. His reply, and mine to you:
        ‘Then you should keep doing it.’

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      2. Thank you for this, Lynda. As you said to me following your most recent post, I should be sorry to hear of your struggles, but I’m not — it’s too much of a relief to know I’m not alone in this.
        My motivation, when I started this blog, was three-fold: to get the words out of my head; to actually be writing; to be real and honest and to make a difference in the world (this last one is a mark of just how painfully earnest and idealistic I am). When my husband helped me move the blog to this free site (I’m technologically-challenged) and I saw just how few followers I actually had, it came as both a blow and a relief. My husband laughs at my utter absurdity — I am terrified of writing something that will go viral, but conversely, am discouraged that I don’t have more readers. If I’m discouraged, though, it really is my own damn fault: with the exception of a couple of close friends, I tell no one that I have a blog; my extended family doesn’t have a clue that I write here; my kids know, but they are under strict orders to keep mum. (I sometimes wish I was entirely anonymous — I would censor myself less, and I wouldn’t have to worry about the impact my words were having on my 20-year-old daughter, who is just as earnest and idealistic and worried about the state of things as I am. It breaks my heart to know that the words I write may cause her pain, or that she might lose hope for the future because of something I’ve said.)

        My instincts on the question of “do you enjoy this” are muddled. When I’ve written a post I’m proud of — when I’ve been able to express myself and the words feel like music — there’s no better feeling; it’s as though I’m doing what I am “supposed to be doing” (although that’s a concept I don’t really believe in). When I struggle and spend countless hours on posts I don’t have the nerve to publish, then I spiral down and wonder if there isn’t something better I should be doing with my time. As you said, this thing is hard, and I have no answers either!

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