I know it’s not Tuesday, but I have a few minutes, so I thought I’d sit down and say hello. It’s already the end of October and I’m facing down Thanksgiving and then Christmas shopping and wondering where 2018 went. It’s been a hard year. I’ve cried a lot. I’ve been angry a lot. I think if you pay attention and are a thoughtful, compassionate person, you’ve probably had hard times this year too. I’m here with you. It’s hard not to become bitter. I’m refusing to become bitter (I don’t blame you if you are bitter. I just can’t be that right now.) so I’m working hard on being someone that 9 and 93 year old Kate is/will be proud of. It’s been work. Good. Hard. Work.
On a lighter note:
My sister and I went to Michigan to visit our grandma and our dad. Our uncle brought out his guitar. There was beer drinking and story telling. Eyes may have welled up a bit. Voices may have been raised once or twice. My very citified car went two-tracking because it was the best way to get from here to there (though after getting “not real lost”, it turned out it maybe wasn’t). I mentioned a desire for some taxidermy and arrived the next morning to find a mounted fox waiting for me at one end of our grandma’s driveway and a good story at the other end. Everyone got a kick out of it. It was a lovely visit and I’m glad for it. We took the ferry to Ludington to get there and to get back we decided to drive around through the UP. The grates on the bridge always give me the heebs but being close to the edge is worse. There was snow on the way home. Winter isn’t here yet, but it’s given us warning.
I deactivated social media for a bit this month while working on a project that needed my full attention. Within minutes of signing back on, I noticed this feeling creep over me that I hadn’t even known was gone until it returned. And it felt…icky. I feel like such a drama queen but the more I take these breaks, the more I realize I’m the happiest when I’m not following along on instagram or facebook. I’m not quite ready to deactivate again, but I’ve been thinking about it.
I’m working on a sock. I think I might be able to knit this one (and hopefully it’s mate) without giving up. While knitting, I’ve been watching Younger or Parks and Recreation. I’m not watching much, but I’m finding I like it lighthearted and not too real. Days where I’m happiest, thought, I avoid it completely.
I’ve read two books. One, by Kate Morton, titled “The Clockmaker’s Daughter” is the perfect not-scary ghost story for October. The other, “When Breath Becomes Air” by Paul Kalanithi, is sad and beautiful and full.
And that’s me. It’s late October. I can feel myself cozying up. Pajamas get put on early because the sky is dark early. Soups and chilis and hearty comfort foods make up the meal plans.
How are you? What are you thinking about? Working on? Reading, watching, cooking? I hope you are well.
So, so lovely to see a post from you, Kate 🙂 .
I smiled, reading about your visit to see your grandma and dad; what a great thing for you to do together with your sister. We drove through the UP our first summer here, so we could make a visit back to Duluth. That’s a stretch that seemed so incredibly desolate and long! I’m curious: which route took longer? (i.e., the ferry across Lake Michigan or driving around the UP?)
I have been feeling decidedly icky about my aimless website and Facebook and IG scrolling. (I was not even ON Facebook—not really, anyway—until I put the damn app on my phone!) Time to delete things from my phone, I think, and then make good on my decision to not even pick the thing up.
Yay, you’re back to sock knitting! It’s nice to have at least one knit *something* on the go, even if it takes months to complete. Now that it’s colder, I picked up my sweater again; I’m about to cast off the body and will then begin the sleeves. How’s your cross stitch coming along?
A “not scary ghost story” sounds really good to me; I’ll have to reserve that one. I’ve been reading A Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley. It’s both dated and eerily prescient. And a bit of slog, tbh, but I’m halfway and will finish it. Watching baking shows and British fixer-upper real estate shows for pure escapism. Feeling slightly icky after watching the house shows, tbh. I’d like to not need this escapism (or I’d like to feel that all my escapism was “edifying” and character-building and useful). It’s damn hard these days to not feel the need to escape, which may be a sign of bitterness…? I, too, am trying not to be bitter. (No, really, I AM trying! 😉 ) I also find the “what will old-me think about middle-me” to be a good kick-in-the-pants type tool to get me to keep moving, to keep working, to not give up…
It’s so nice to be able to visit with you here, Kate.
For me, the ferry or the drive is about equal simply because we have to drive to the ferry (when we go with the kids we usually drive through Chicago), but for my sister who lives on that side of the state, the ferry is almost a straight shot across and saves 4-5 hours, even more if you get stuck in Chicago traffic!! We could have taken the ferry there and back but it would have cut our time in Michigan short, so we decided to drive back and at the last minute decided to go north. I’m glad we did. The drive was beautiful and really didn’t take that much longer.
I haven’t had the FB app on my phone in over a year and I’m really glad I deleted it. I spend enough time there as it is. I wish I was more capable of disengaging without deactivating but for some reason my brain is not wired that way. (My blog is different, but probably because I’m so sporadic in posting!!)
Good for you picking up your sweater! I can’t wait to see it when it’s finished!! I have the yarn for a sweater for Jesse and I’ve knit the swatch but I haven’t started it because it has some new to me things and I want to learn them (new knitting things always seem so hard until I’ve learned them and then I wonder how they ever seemed that hard!) and I just feel kind of overwhelmed at the idea of learning new things. Typing that all out made me realize how ridiculous my head can be sometimes. I just need to get these socks done! I haven’t done anything with the cross stitch. It’s sitting in a basket waiting for me and I really need to, but stitching D.C. is just makes me grumpy. 😐 Have you been sewing or stitching anything lately? I’m so impressed that you sew yourself clothing!! I wish I had that ability!
As for British baking shows, I’m a fan but I’ve never really gotten into house shows. I did watch some while living with my inlaws and I enjoyed them, but it’s just not something that stuck but I’m completely guilty of watching Real Housewives of NYC which as escapism goes is TERRIBLE. Also, I don’t think escapism is a sign of bitterness. I think it’s a sign that your heart/head/soul/whatnot has taken all it can take and needs a chance to breathe. Frivolity. Mirth. It’s okay to enjoy those things if they build you back up. I think we all need building back up.
Thanks for writing, Marian. I’m really grateful that we’ve become penpals and friends.
“I think it’s a sign that your heart/head/soul/whatnot has taken all it can take and needs a chance to breathe. Frivolity. Mirth. It’s okay to enjoy those things if they build you back up. I think we all need building back up.” — I like this take on it. Thank you for this, Kate.
I can completely understand why stitching D.C. would cause you to feel grumpy! You asked if I’ve been sewing lately. Up to Thanksgiving (early October) I had been (I sewed another sleeveless top), but then I had to clean up the dining room for our big dinner and had to put away my machines. Since then I’ve been enjoying the clean dining room (clutter/mess causes me anxiety) so I’ve decided to hold off on any more sewing for the time being. I’m busy with my courses anyway, so it was getting hard to slot in sewing as well.
I completely understand the mess/anxiety connection. I have it a bit myself. I think that’s one of the reasons I’m not a big “decorator” – I can’t stand the stuff. So…I understand putting away the sewing. More time to work on the sweater. 😉
I want to hear more about your classes sometime! How are you enjoying them? I also want to pick your homemade bread brain. I want to try making it (everyone says it’s MUCH easier than people think). Any tips? Good recipes?
I’m not a big “decorator” either…and the older I get, the more obvious that becomes!
Thanks for asking about my classes. I’m chugging along with them. Just finished the fifth (uploaded my last assignment in between answering the door last night for trick-or-treaters!) and now have a week to finish my last assignment on course #6. It keeps my mind off all the other crazy stuff going on in the world, so that’s been good.
On bread-making: I own The Laurel’s Kitchen Bread Book. It’s all whole grain (of course! you know me by now 😉 ) and I like it, although in many ways it isn’t the most straightforward recipe book. (You kind of have to read through the whole recipe to get all the info you need.) Slotting in bread-making isn’t difficult if you plan ahead. There’s not actually all that much hands-on work, but you do obviously have to be in the house/be available for the punching down and baking parts. I don’t currently bake *all* our bread, but I would like to—in my informal “audit” of my household garbage I can see that plastic bread bags make up a large proportion of our (minimalistic) amount of waste. I’d love to make those bread bags a thing of the past and be one step closer to my ultimate goal of being completely zero-waste.
Ally Bean says
I am wondering where October went. I think I missed the month, yet looking at my datebook I realize I did things. Many things, but none that I thought were worthy of a blog post.
I agree that this has been a difficult year. I’m a people watcher and I’m highly sensitive, so almost all that I’ve seen going on nationally has been difficult for me to process. The rage-filled hatred on center stage baffles me, and I’ve found that much of that attitude is beginning to seep into people who I know in real life. Not good.
I haven’t given the upcoming holidays a thought yet, so maybe I’ll shift my focus onto the goodness of November and December holidays and end my year on a better note. I could do that, right?
It’s just a hard time to be sensitive. I’m holding out hope for midterms. In the meantime, I’ve been focusing a LOT on the little day to day good. Walks in fresh air, good books, the people I love. It’s the only way I know to not get bogged down. So yes, a happy holiday focus…I can get behind that.
Another highly sensitive people-watcher here…and yes, couldn’t agree more: it’s SO hard to watch what’s going on.
I am thinking that I wish I’d seen this post two weeks ago. 🙂 I am thinking about how this is one of my favorite times of the year, but I haven’t been able to savor it much. I was so anxious in the days leading up to the election (worried about what would happen no matter which way it went), and although I’ve exhaled a bit, I still feel braced for what might come. Yes, it’s been a hard year. Oh my god, yes. On every level for me. But I try to look for the progress.
Regarding social media and smartphones and all that, I read a blog post this week that really struck me, and made me think of friends like you who are in the thick of raising children: https://www.waituntil8th.org/blog/2018/11/12/middle-school-misfortunes-then-and-now-one-teachers-take
Sometimes I lament when my children were born–early enough that I didn’t clearly see the pitfalls of our connected world to have had firmer boundaries around phones when they were in middle school (which happened within a few years of the iPhone). But other times I am glad they had most of childhood without them. I’ve tried to talk with them about how it was different before the advent of social media and the expectation that we are always immediately available, but it is hard for them to imagine something they’ve never really known. I get it, and I am glad for the benefits that have come from what we have now (like this friendship I share with you), but I am sad for what we’re losing, what’s been lost. I suppose this has been the dilemma for those who live long enough to see the world change in fundamental ways since there have been humans who grow old.
I am glad you are pledging not to become bitter. Me too, and to do that I am finding I need some distance from the world at regular intervals. But at the same time, I want to remain awake. I think often these days of William Stafford’s “A Ritual to Read to Each Other,” and remind myself that it is important for awake people to be awake. (https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/58264/a-ritual-to-read-to-each-other)
Hoping you and your lovely family have a good holiday. And that you write again soon. Even if I am late to your posts, I am always so excited to see them.