Friday, January 23, 2009

CleanQuest 2009

Last year, I took a week's vacation and called it a Cleaning Sabbatical. It was grueling but immensely satisfying. I had some small hope that my work would propel us into a generally more ordered existence, but old habits die hard. A year later, there's still a storage container crammed with stuff to go to Goodwill, and clutter has once again claimed the perimeters of our home and begun to creep across the floors and up the bookcases.

My goals this year are more modest: at the end of the week, I would like to have the carpet steam-cleaned. But before strangers are allowed in (indeed, before anyone but our dearest friends can come in) everything needs to be picked up from the floor of every carpeted room.

This won't be a complete sabbatical. This a crucial time for a few projects at work, and I expect I'll have to go in for a few meetings. But I'm determined to do something productive every day.

So welcome, readers, to CleanQuest 2009.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

One hour hence

Variation on a Theme by Rilke
by Denise Levertov

A certain day became a presence to me;
there it was, confronting me--a sky, air, light:
a being. And before it started to descend
from the height of noon, it leaned over
and struck my shoulder as if with
the flat of a sword, granting me
honor and a task. The day's blow
rang out, metallic--or it was I, a bell awakened,
and what I heard was my whole self
saying and singing what it knew: I can.

Monday, January 12, 2009

My Pinky

There's a discussion on the Ravelry Men Who Knit group about knitting too tightly, with guys talking about whether they wrap the working yarn through their fingers. I wrap the working yarn around my pinky, as you can tell in this detail from my Halloween costume:

Here's what the black rubber gloves are hiding: my pinky is actually quite misshapen.

I noticed my crooked pinky when I was about 10. I had trouble spreading my hand beyond an octave in piano lessons, and I had trouble pressing the keys on my saxophone that would let me hit the lowest notes. Beyond that, it's never really bothered me. It doesn't hurt (although I do remember a couple occasions when it has been mysteriously numb), and with the rest of my fingers relaxed and curled, it's not really noticable. I think it might even help with my typing (as long as I don't have one of those nasty "ergonomic" keyboards).

My mom's parents both had gnarled fingers, my grandmother from arthritis and my grandfather from a childhood accident that crippled his hands. In some ways, my grandfather's hands are how my family came to be. As capable as he was, his hands kept him out of the war (he tried to conceal them when volunteering, but they were discovered, and he was declared 4F). He stayed home then, and married my grandmother; my mother is from that small generation of Americans born during World War II. Even though my grandfather's hands were shaped as if his middle fingers were glued to his palms, Grandma used to say there was nothing he couldn't do with them. He could fix anything, work with tangles of electric wire, even tie flies.

When I was a baby, he used to sit with me out in the kitchen, telling me that I'd have a private rocketship to take my dates up to the moon, and that he would buy my condoms. He died when I was only 10 months old, when he was younger than I am now, so I don't have any memories of him. But I have his name, probably his hair, and possibly his little finger...

...which is perfectly shaped for adjusting the tension of your yarn when knitting.