Sunday, June 17, 2012

why she writes

I was very recently introduced to the author Alice Thomas Ellis by a friend--so recently, in fact, that I haven't yet had the chance to read any of her fiction. But I've borrowed a book of weekly columns that she wrote under the title "Home Life."

So far they are very delightful, written very loosely in a spirit of play, dancing along a train of thought without worrying about wrapping all the ends up. My favorite, so far, is one called "Power of Speech." The opening paragraph:

I have a work by Mrs Beeton which she wrote for the 'smaller establishment': that is, a household with only a cook, a couple of maids and a boy to carry the coal. She says firmly, 'On entering the kitchen invariably say "Good morning Cook."' OK, you ponder, but what if Cook is out on the area steps dallying briefly with the muffin man? What if your household is so small you don't have a cook? Still, many housewives talk to themselves. I often say things aloud when I spill the milk or trip over the cat and there's no one here to listen. I plod round M&S muttering "prawns, butter, underpants" because otherwise I would forget what I'm doing there, and so do a lot of other ladies. One has to keep talking or one loses the knack. When the children were very small I spent weeks alone with them high up in the Welsh hills and I used to lose the power of speech. I would return to London bereft of all vocabulary, communicating in grunts and diddums talk. You feel a fool asking, for instance, Professor Sir Alfred Ayer if he would care for an icky bitty more soup in his ickle bowl.
 I totally wander around the grocery store muttering my shopping list under my breath, and I always say things when I'm the only one at home to hear them.

Writing of this sort is one of the many kinds that makes me want to blog. She takes the stuff of everyday living and turns it into something enjoyable, sheds a new light on it. And I love her for not having some great and profound point at the end of her columns--it's about the sheer and slightly wacky delight of life. One of the reasons I don't post more often than I do--aside from, you know, being kind of lazy--is that I have a high standard for what I want my posts to do. They must be entertaining or thought-provoking or beautiful to the extent that whoever reads them is impressed, or at least somewhat interested. I think about writing far too much; I write far too little.

Which is a problem for me beyond just blogging. Oh well.

But that joy, that enjoyment that sparkles in her words. She is having fun. That is why she writes.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Baby Smiles

It seems that Michael smiles more and more every day. Sometimes I'll be holding him while reading or doing something on the computer, and I hear his pacifier fall out, and look down to see him giving me a big baby grin. Mostly his smiles are for me and Keith, but he's starting to give them to other people, too. 

Capturing that smile on camera is difficult though! Partly because I'm bad at taking pictures, and partly because he insists on *really* smiling just before or just after I push the button--or on turning his head away at the last second. 

Yarn Along--Finally!

I have, in fact, been knitting recently--oftentimes with a baby sleeping across my knees--but it's harder to get up and chase sunlight around the apartment with a camera while holding a five- or six- or seven-week-old, and also my husband often takes the camera to work with him.

But today, Michael has slept through my shower, my lunch, and my doing the dishes, and he is STILL sleeping, so I am taking full advantage of that fact. :)

My pre-birth knitting projects (like Michael's elephant) haven't budged in the past month or two. But I did cast on a shawlette (Cloud Illusions by Book Knits) and a cowl (To Infinity and Beyond by Joji Locatelli).

The latter is for a knitalong; I'm using Malabrigo sock in the colorway Persia. Mmmmm, Malabrigo. ;) This skein was an impulse buy: I couldn't not have that color. (There may or may not also have been enablers in the yarn shop with me telling me that the color was "so you, Rosemary!") The problem with buying yarn on impulse because it is too beautiful not to is that then the pattern must live up to it: it has to be perfect, and perfect for this particular yarn. And of course, it must use only one skein.

So far this cowl fits the bill. It has cables and lace in a pattern that I feel works well with the variegated colors of the yarn.

My Kindle Touch has been getting good use, especially since I can borrow e-books from the library. Style, Sex and Substance is a wonderful book, and I'm really glad I bought it. It's worth the money. (How could it not be, with Jennifer Fulwiler and Simcha Fisher contributing?)

And now I'm off to see how much else I can get done while baby is sleeping.

(See what other people are knitting and reading at Ginny's yarn along!)

Sunday, June 3, 2012

almost a year ago ...

Yesterday Keith and I went to the wedding of two of our friends. We were supposed to go to another wedding last month--but then I went into labor a few hours before the ceremony, so that didn't happen. So this was our first wedding this year, and our first Catholic wedding since we ourselves got married.

It was quite beautiful--both the ceremony and the reception. The bride was gorgeous, the Mass beautiful, and the reception quite lovely. And it made me super nostalgic. As we pulled into the church parking lot, I saw the bride standing outside the church getting ready to go in and wait, and it immediately brought me back to waiting outside the church at my own wedding, first in the limousine and then in the foyer as, one by one, my bridesmaids processed in, until I was left alone with my Dad. And then going through the doors and seeing Keith, and feeling the smile glowing on my face ... such intense emotions!

The bride and groom's exit from the reception was very sweet. One moment they were slow dancing, surrounding by a ring of friends; the next they suddenly broke free and made a mad dash out of the hall, hand in hand, and everyone chased them out to stand in lines along the drive and wave as they left.

And I remember those emotions, too. How for days, you and your fiance/husband have been surrounded by other people, with perhaps a moment here and there to yourselves; how this huge and jubilantly loud day suddenly ends in quiet, with just the two of you, driving, alone. The intense intimacy of that alone-togetherness, by comparison to everything that's happened before. How you are so familiar with and to each other, and yet ... in that moment, sitting side by side and driving, there is also a shyness, a difference, because now you are husband and wife, and while you know this person so well ... you also know so little. There is so much more to learn, and you will never exhaust the otherness of your spouse's personhood.

So yes, even today, I am still feeling nostalgic. (Keith just laughed at me for paging through our own wedding photos on Facebook.) And you know, we attended that wedding with a baby in tow. Which is crazy. And which only emphasizes the fact that that particular moment of our lives is over. We will never get married to each other again. Watching other people live through those moments makes me so happy for them, and so grateful for the beauty that I have been given in my own life.