Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Alone, But Happy

When I proposed to Pater that we could each spend today in our respective cities -- rather than take advantage of the day off work for him to travel back here -- I felt more than a bit guilty. After all, I did get well rested on the weekend and we spend so much time apart that surely we should be maximizing the opportunities to get together. I love his company, the food's better when he's around, and he certainly doesn't expect me to cook and clean for him. However, having rested up on the weekend, I was feeling excited about a chance to get some work of my own done -- a proposal I'm trying to write for a deadline this Saturday needs some foundational research -- and I knew that impulse to creativity would get sacrificed if there were any distractions around. Luckily, Pater understood -- he applauds my engagement with my work and is the furthest imaginable from needy -- and he decided he might enjoy some time completely to himself as well. Certainly, I missed him today altho' we chatted on the phone. But I also cherished the time all to myself, probably the first time I've had more than six hours alone since August. I got the fire going this morning and fed it all day long for a comforting coziness of light, crackling sounds, and warmth. Despite taking time out for a run in the mist (punctuated by the cannon's 11 o'clock invitation, from across the water, to remember the war dead), despite wandering the garden with my camera, despite taking time to read a few chapters of a novel and to browse through the November Vogue, I nonetheless managed to spend several productive hours working on my proposal and now have a very decent draft to massage over the next few days. Now I've got my dinner in the oven, the last of the backporch wood supply in the woodstove, and I'm getting ready to pop in a Buffy DVD and hunker down, well-satisfied with the day's work.

While wandering in the garden, I couldn't help but marvel at the November blooms, bedraggled though they are, of the Romneya Coulterii (below)-- after all, we've had several bouts of frost already, and this is not a frost-hardy plant. The friend who gave it to me, an amazing gardener, lives in Regina, Saskatchewan now -- maybe I should tell her to give it a try there ;-) Of course, the bloom is much less impressive without the sunlight it might reflect in July and August, but still, any blooms in November deserve grateful admiration, no?

The other photos are of the astonishingly-purple berries of the Callicarpa (sometimes called Beautyberry). I know I've shown you these before, but really, aren't they stunning? How purple are these babies!

Do you get much alone time? Do you love it or wish for company? What would you sacrifice to have a few hours, or even days, to yourself?


  1. I cherish what little alone time I get anymore. I'm a solitary creature at times, and get up an hour before everyone else in my house (including the dogs!) just to get it. Your day sounds like it was lovely and productive.

  2. Oh, and your garden pictures are lovely as usual.

  3. I was an only child and I am an introvert so I treasure my alone time. He-weasel has a job that requires long hours and for the most part that is okay because I can be very happy on my own. But, I do hit a point when I NEED to be with others.

    If you want me to stop idealizing your life you have to stop posting these beautiful pictures.;-) You live in so much beauty. Actually, you have inspired me to try and take pictures of beauty I see in L.A. and post it. There is beauty here, I just have to keep my eyes open to see it. Where you live it is a little easier to see.

  4. I love the berry pictures, especially the third one with the green leaves glowing in the background. Lovely!

    I don't get much time alone, as my sweetie is a homebody. If I want time alone, generally I need to leave the house to get it. Right now I don't have much time to prioritize activities that are not absolutely necessary. I'd love to have a day of indulgence. Hopefully December will bring a bit of breathing space.

  5. I get virtually no alone time. That's a change from two years ago, when I lived alone, and had done for eight years. It's a big change.

    I think your day sounds perfect.

    The purple berries are really beautiful.

  6. The most deliciously expectant feeling comes over me when I'm alone and I know my loved ones are safe and happy too. I hardly know what to do with my alone time: should I make a quilt? Write an article? Read a novel or a magazine? (Of course I could only *begin* one of thse projects, but in my idealized state I feel so powerful . . .) These alone times are exceedingly rare, though.

  7. I get plenty of alone time!!! My hubby travels far and wide, and although it's so good when we're together, I love knowing I am going to bed with a book instead of a remote control!!! Sometimes when the kids are in school, I go back to bed and sleep in, then spend the rest of the day in silence. I love it! I think I'm a solitary creature by nature, though I love people too...I think I've got a good balance.

    That purple berry plant is amazing. Never seen one like it down here...Only Pyracantha (sp?).

  8. Sounds as if Karen, LBR, and I are fortunate in having our cakes and eating them too (and just. don't. go. there!) Partners we can enjoy when they're around, but with lots of time to enjoy our own company as well.
    Also sounds as if alone time might be the answer to Freud's big question: what do women want?
    Miss C: I like the way you qualify the appreciation of alone time -- it's only luxurious when you know your loved ones are happy and safe wherever they are. And my, you have big ambitions for your alone time (and from the looks of your blog, you achieve those ambitions as well)
    Enc: That sudden change in lifestyle must have been a stunning adjustment -- easier to go from constant company, as I had for 25+ years, to lots of time on my own -- empty nest syndrome, ha!
    Thanks for the garden photo love! The callicarpa really is an attention grabber. (Karen, pyracantha is colourful as well, but ooh, those vicious thorns!)
    Pseu: even before the dogs? That's early! You really work for your alone time.
    LBR: I'd love to see Los Angeles' beauty through your eyes . . .

  9. Living in a house of 6 I get approx 1 day a year with the house empty, this of course brings its own pressure to make the most of it, which invariably for me involves housework.
    With Emin away for the last 2 weeks I now know that what I need is a room of my own, somewhere to leave things out that I can potter with over a period of time.
    Your garden looks idylic, I am amazed you can tear yourself away from your view long enough to work.

  10. Oh your day sounds so lovely. I too tend to the introverted and cherish my alone time. When DH was working, there as ample alone time as he was often gone long hours, and I managed to get everything done and have plenty of reflective time as well (being both introverted and introspective). Since he is retired and not well, which has brought a surprising (to me) bit of neediness, alone time has come to be a rarity, something I treasure and miss.

    Enjoy that fortuitous blending of alone and together.

  11. Your day sounds wonderful. It's always nice to have some time to yourself. I do that, but I fear I don't savor it as I should.

  12. Gina: After reading the other commenters perhaps you feel, as I do, that you should be sharing some of your alone time. It seems to be such a precious commodity for so many.
    Alison: I remember those days (well, years) very well -- finally, when only my son was at home, I commandeered a "room of my own" hoping that a closed door would be a signal and it did seem to lessen the interruptions somewhat. Now I do miss them at times, of course, but the luxury of being able to follow through an idea to fruition without having to stop to help someone remember where the scissors are . . .
    Mardel: Yours must be a particularly difficult situation to adjust to, and finding respectful ways of insisting on your time alone must be hugely trying. I'm already somewhat concerned about retirement, and so far, we're both in good health. Telling a loved one you need to be alone is a fraught business; not doing it means you're fraught . . .

  13. I've had more than enough alone time thank you very much. That damned and blighted body of water is wearing awfully thin.

  14. Sublime purple photos! Isn't it a luxury to be able to make the choice to be alone? When my children were small I thought the day would never come. Sometimes I worry about how much I enjoy alone time.

  15. I must have alone time! I start to get twitchy if I don't have enough alone time :)

  16. Thomas: not thin enough yet that you can do the Moses thing -- too bad! Obviously, too much of a good thing (alone time) can be bad.
    Duchesse: Yes! this is a worry of mine -- thank goodness I only have one cat and dog. If I keep fancying my alone time and start adding cats, I'll really get concerned. . .
    Jillian: Yes! to you as well. Yes! to the twitchiness. I need some down/alone time somehow in each and every day or I start twitching.

  17. The Callicarpa are beautiful. I had never seen them before. As for alone time. My husband works from home, so I often crave alone time. I have to have it. I sometimes just go for a drive in my car just to be alone. I cannot recharge without silence and peace. Sometimes it concerns me how much I do like to be alone. But I really love people too, they just use a lot of energy from my reserves to be with them, and then I am exhausted afterwards, even though I greatly enjoy the connection.

  18. Julianne: Interesting that several of us feel a certain concern about our enjoyment of solitude. I'm very much like you, enjoying people's company, but drawing on reserves to do so. Teaching, like the parenting I did before that, takes so much social energy that alone time is precious.

  19. Come on over. I have given your lovely blog an award!:-)

  20. LBR: I'm so excited -- I'll be right there!


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