Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Peace and Quiet

I took this photo through my back door window (my back door is pretty much all window, actually!) several weeks ago -- I love the quality of that early morning light. And the sense of peace . . . Ah! if that could be carted around and inhaled periodically.

If Pater had managed to make it home from Vancouver last night, we would have gone out for dinner, then taken in a talk by two artists up at the University Gallery. Today would have been a stay-at-home, pleasantly quiet day, and we would have shared a meal or two before he had to fly/ferry back.

Instead, as I did last year on Remembrance Day, I had the entire day to myself. Pater phoned me yesterday afternoon to say his day was sheer craziness, one fire after another needing to be put out (yes, we're speaking in metaphors here). No way could he get away, so I wished him strength, gave him my love, promised to call him last night, made some plans for what we would do this weekend, and then went home on my own to plot how I would spend the first 24 hours I've had to myself since August. Like Tiffany, I don't need One Hundred Years of Solitude; even One Day can make me pretty happy.

It's been great! I'd finished all my marking over the weekend, and there won't be more 'til the final papers roll in two weeks from now. My Thursday class will get material already prepped and delivered to my Monday/Wednesday guys. I could/should work on a proposal due on the 20th, but in the interest of sanity and physical health, I opted instead for a Wellness Day. I've been reading Patricia Cornwell's Scarpetta -- reading a mystery novel during term always makes me feel in charge, somehow, not ruled by the "must-dos." Read 'til late-ish 'cause I didn't have to get up early, but then still woke at 6. Got the fire going and read some more sitting beside it, wrapped in blankets 'til the house warmed. Then an envigorating run while it was still sunny -- cold, but sunny! Home by 8:40 with a whole day stretching luxuriously in front of me.

I puttered. Puttering is necessary to my mental health and to any hope of creativity -- it often takes the form of minor organizing as, today, with my knitting basket, the sorting out of several projects, and the possible start of a few new ones. I puttered through laundry. I baked banana bread. I packed up two bags of clothes to take into town and drop off at a thrift shop.

I even found my sewing machine, a 30-year old Husqvarna on which I've sewn many, many garments over the years, but nothing for the last decade, maybe the last two. I found the instruction book, hunted for the detachable arm, found some bobbins and needles all tucked away in the original notions case. Set the whole thing up on the worn old Singer sewing table handed down to me by my MIL, threaded it -- took me a second or two for the kinetic memory to kick in, but once I relaxed and let my fingers lead my brain, the thread worked its way through every guide and through the eye of the needle. A few hand turns, and the needle zipped down to pull up the bobbin thread, and then I stepped down on the power foot to see how it sewed. Not surprisingly, perhaps, given its long stay in a dusty spot (albeit covered), it's not sewing well at all -- the bobbin thread seems to be the problem, and any attempt at getting several stitches in a row results in a big tangle.

Rather than get upset, though, and rather than waste anymore of my precious free time on trying to fix it, I'm simply pleased that I got as far as hauling it out. I'm going to take it into a shop and see whether it's worth getting them to clean it and get it back to its best sewing condition. If not, I think I'll buy something new, but I'd prefer to see first how much I'll actually end up sewing. I had a quick peek on-line and it seems that most/many machines come with software which benefits from being regularly upgraded -- quite honestly, I feel I do too much of that already with my computer. I always liked my Husqvarna for its ease of use and its portability.

Meanwhile, as I write this, there's a dramatic lightening storm flashing away in the East, the perfect sign for me to make my way back to my cozy armchair and settle in with my book. I still haven't told you about the lovely meal we had at L'Altro Buca (in Vanc'r) last Friday night (Pater seemed to place his veal chops in a transcendent category -- he said they were probably the best veal chops he'd ever had!). Nor have I raved about how wonderful it is to have a daughter who owns a massage table and owes her mother -- that combination of owning and owing equalled joy and relaxation for me Sunday morning! But I can't chat with you anymore -- my armchair, and peace, awaits . . .


  1. Just reading about your peace and quiet had a strangely calming effect for me - vicarious solitude? As for the sewing machine, I think you might be well off sticking to your old one if you can find someone good to service it. I had a fabulous 30-year-old machine from my MIL and the guy who serviced it said it would go forever. Kindly, she bought me a fancy new one (and passed on the beloved old one to my younger sister-in-law) but I liked the old one better!

  2. I love the view past your chair. Wonderful.

  3. I love to putter! Glad you got the chance to do so. Patricia

  4. The machine probably just needs some cleaning/lubrication, which the machine techs can easily do. It's worth having it checked out.

    Don't you love having a day to putter around?

  5. I have only just started marking, I am now awash with it for the next week at least. Although now it is not called marking, it is now called target setting.
    I get probably one day a year without anyone in the house. I can achieve more in that day than I do the rest of the year, but even that day was ruined by the au-pairs omnipresence. My relationship is very claustraphobic, I always think we should spend less time together but he works from home and very rarely goes out. So it tends to be me who goes out which negates my ability to wrap up and read, as you describe so beautifully. It is such a wonderful luxury to just stop and read for a while.
    I find sewing very theraputic but do it so rarely these days. The most basic machines are the best as they have less to go wrong, I think yours may need a little de-dusting and oiling.

  6. Tiffany: This is exactly the way I'm thinking -- at least for now, if I ease myself back into some sewing, I'd like to stick with the old tried-and-true.
    LPC: I have to admit, it's one of my favourite views anywhere.
    Patricia: Thanks!
    Nancy: I do -- puttering rules!
    And thanks for your advice re the machine -- I know you know what you're talking about!
    Alison: I do know I'm lucky with the time on my own -- thank goodness, 'cause I really crave it after teaching or helping students all day.

  7. I so envy your ability to live your life to it´s fullest. In one single day you are able to to more than I in a week. My day is all about routines, routines that are hard to pass to someone else. My leisure time is spending time with my laptop, and often I think that I do spend way too much time on it too. Dinners out, now when did that happen last? I do, however, spend time with friends, but do have a guilty feeling about that too. Maybe I´m somewhere at the crossroads, uncertain which road to take. Both my daughters are grown up(s), but the younger one is still living at home, suffering a bad case of depression. This naturally tunes my mood every single day.

  8. Delighted to read this as you have had such intensity lately. (Have a sense of how much, reading recent newspaper.) Like you I have an elderly machine too- over 45 years old, a sturdy little Singer that sews backwards and forwards, that's it! But fine for mending a seam or making simple curtains. If you get a machine, what will you make?

  9. Metscan: I think we women do far too much comparison of ourselves to others, and I know that someone else's achievements and activities always strike us as more admirable than our own. Supporting a daughter who struggles with depression is a challenge. You're very wise to balance that important work with time spent with friends, and I wish you wouldn't feel guilty about that -- but I know we women, especially mothers, can do guilt very well!
    Duchesse: You're an astute reader, and you're also thoughtfully discreet. I appreciate your well-wishing -- it has been tough, altho' my guy has a good attitude. Looks as if he's going to have to push retirement back, though, and he'd been very much looking forward to it.
    As for the sewing machine, I'm not sure what I might make, but I'd probably have fun sewing a few small dresses for a certain grand-daughter. I'd mostly like to have it around for quick craft projects, repairs, etc., -- I will soon need to sew my Fair Isle sweater in preparation for cutting steeks, and realized I don't even have a working machine anymore, so . . .

  10. That chair looks like the kind of place one could happily spend hours and hours reading. Do you save it for non-work reading or is it a multipurpose chair?

    And, le sigh in regards to the veal chops. I have a veal chop memory from 16 years ago. They were one of my peak gastronomic experiences. That chop has become the platonic ideal of all veal chops and as of yet nothing has lived up to its perfection.

    Enjoy your peace and puttering.

  11. LBR: The chair is mainly for non-work reading, but if I need to impart some good vibes to some uncool work stuff -- a big ugly stack of marking, say -- I'll sit in my chair and try to feel that I'm lucky. The chair does help!
    As for the veal chops, yup, I think my man is filing his under lifetime experience as well.

  12. The bobbin was probably backwards; if the thread is coming from the wrong direction you'll get stitches looping in a tangle, as you describe. Best, J.

  13. Thanks, J. Looking through my manual, I did note that the directional arrow illustrating bobbin action indicated thread moving opposite to mine, but I couldn't find another bobbin to wind and the machine clearly needs a good cleaning anyway. I'm hoping it will come back from its service in tip-top shape.
    btw, I'm tortured trying to complete the J__________! Assuming this is a name I know, belonging to someone I know. Thanks for the helpful comment, whoever you are;-)

  14. There's something about dramatic storms, cozy chairs, delicious books, and a mug of tea that sounds so beckoning. We've had a few such days here in the Pacific Northwest too, and I haven't had any desires to leave my house with it's slowly simmering stews and wall of books not yet read.

  15. Angie: Welcome! and thanks for commenting -- Yes, our Pacific Northwest weather has made chairs and books and tea and stews very inviting for the last week or so, and there's no sign it's letting up. It's a week tomorrow from when I wrote this post, and the wind's still howling outside and the rain pouring down.


I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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