Saturday, January 28, 2012


Time is too weird. It contracts, then it shoots forward (or back), it dawdles, stops still, and then suddenly we’re twenty years down the road. Whole decades evaporate.

How to Stop Time

Time, no matter what clocks and calendars may tell us, is not a constant. It contracts and expands, ebbs and flows, plays tricks with memory so that two years in your childhood seem much longer than the past ten years of your life. But there are some ways to “stop” time. In fact, there are situations in which it stops itself. The first one I wouldn’t recommend to anyone. The second everyone should try at some time in their lives.

Dementia has its own sense of time, and when you’re a caregiver you have no choice but to follow along with it. Being “in the moment”is a necessity. I learned, when getting my mother out the door,  not to reach back behind her and try to close the door but to keep my attention fully on her as she got down the steps and balanced herself on her walker.

Getting her dressed, getting her shoes on, were major tasks that took as long as they took; she couldn’t be rushed. I learned to start getting her ready for appointments at least two hours ahead of time. I would finally get her up from her chair and into the bedroom to get dressed. Fifteen minutes later I’d go in and she’d be on the bed sleeping. Then it was the shoes--find them, find her shoehorn, help her get them on. Then she needed to use the bathroom, which I knew could be another fifteen minutes. I learned to suppress my impatience. So we’d be late to the doctor’s office; they would understand. It brought forth reserves of patience I didn’t know I had. Now at her assisted living she is always they last person to finish eating, and I bless the staff there for letting her take the time it takes and not trying to rush her out of the dining room.

A dog also demands its own time. They know when it’s time to eat, to go out, to get treats; but time as we mark it means nothing to them. Walking a dog lets you lose your own sense of time for a little while. When we’re out my dog doesn’t care if I have to get back to work. She’ll spend half a minute sniffing at a bit of brush by the sidewalk. She moseys back and forth from left to right, examining whatever her nose leads her to. When she needs to relieve herself, she stops and does so, then goes back to whatever she was doing. And everything holds her complete interest while she’s doing it. Her attention focuses completely on that squirrel in the tree, that dog across the street, the clump of ivy that she’s going to leave her mark on. Nothing is too trivial for her curiosity. While we walk I accustom myself to her rhythm, seldom looking at my watch, and when we return home I’m sometimes surprised to see how long we’ve been out. I’m also more relaxed and better able to concentrate on my work again.

One positive situation, one negative, yet both have their lessons to teach about time and how we use it. There’s also the concept of “flow,” getting so involved in what you’re doing that you’re not aware of time passing. My favorite flow activities are crocheting, reading, writing--and of course blogging. Who else has favorite “flow” activities?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Crochet Every Day: The Purple Shawl

The Purple Shawl

The shawl is finished! A few of you commented on my earlier post and photo of it, so I thought I’d show you how it came out. (Pretty good, I think.)

 This was my first attempt at blocking something I’ve crocheted. Blocking means using moisture on a finished piece to even out the shape and define the stitches and just generally make the thing look better and, as I read somewhere, look “handcrafted” rather than “homemade.”

Before blocking

After checking several sources, print and Internet, I got ready for the procedure. I went out and bought rustproof pins. I found a spray bottle from an old cleaner and washed it thoroughly. I decided to do the process on the rug in a spare bedroom, and I found an old quilt to spread out on the floor and covered it with two large towels and a sheet.  Then I painstakingly pinned the shawl down using every one of the 80 pins I bought.

After this I sprayed it thoroughly with water until shawl and backing materials were fully wet. Then I left the room and closed the door to keep the dog out.

 Next morning everything was dry, and the pinned shawl looked like this:

I think the difference is pretty clear. It looks much straighter and the edges are more even. Here it is with the loose ends woven in:

I was so pleased with the way it turned out that I took it to my LYS to show my crochet guru, Helen, who very nicely took this picture!

I wore it under my coat to dinner and movie last night and it was just what I needed to keep me warm in places that I usually find chilly (meaning both the locations and my shoulders and arms!)

On to the next project--finishing my cowl. I also just found a charity site that I'm excited about: the Snuggles Project, making "snuggly" little blankets for animals in shelters. I'm going to try that one soon.

Friday, January 20, 2012

"Pet" Peeves

Until about two years ago my “pet” peeve was not having one--a pet, I mean. I love dogs, my family usually had dogs from my childhood through adulthood, but my husband kept putting off my hints, telling me “in five years.” This went on for 17 years. Then a year and a half ago he suddenly said to me, “We can get a dog now.” Yaaay!!! Within three days we were at the SPCA.

So now Honey is part of our family. And as much as I love her, I do have a few peeves about my pet.

First I need to explain: my family has always had lovable “mutts”--mixed breeds, pound puppies, whatever you call them. I’ve always preferred them because they have better temperaments than purebreds—or so I thought. The last dog we had, a shepherd mix,  was a real sweetheart, so good-natured. So that was what I wanted again, no question. The description on Petfinder said Honey was a “Shar-Pei/terrier mix,” and she looked adorable—a few little wrinkles on her head, a partly black tongue, and a curly tail the only Shar-Pei characteristics. The rest of her was hairy little terrier. Never having had a terrier, I didn’t know what we were getting into.

The description also called her “shy.” I figured okay, I’m shy, too. I understand. What it didn’t say was that she was timid. A scaredy-cat. And like lots of cowards, she covers it up by being aggressive.

So here are my “pet” peeves.

My dog is antisocial. She hates other dogs and little kids--I mean toddler-age kids. She barks and scares them. It’s really embarrassing to meet someone else walking their dog on the street when they want to let their dog meet mine--they usually say, “He/she’s friendly,” and I have to say “Mine isn’t,” usually just before she starts growling and barking at the other dog. I always have to apologize to dog owners and mothers of toddlers. This is usually with larger dogs than she is, though--the fear again. Sometimes we’ll meet a smaller dog and she’ll actually sniff a little and turn away without insulting dog and scaring owner. I started giving her a treat when another dog approaches; now she looks up at me for it. (“See, I let that dog just walk by. Where’s my treat?”) I do wish I could take her to the dog park, though.

My dog chases squirrels. I don’t just mean she “chases” squirrels around the yard for fun. I mean she turns into a raving lunatic whenever she sees a squirrel. She believes that squirrels have no right to exist in the same world she inhabits, and she’s determined to eradicate every one of them. Let her spot one from the window and she sets off a cacophony, raking her nails against the glass and all but propelling herself through the window, glass and all. Let her spot one on a walk and she goes into full battle mode. Her body stiffens for a moment; then she lets out a shriek and her strong little terrier legs start windmilling against the pavement, her nails scraping as if she’s making furrows in a cornfield. Her 30 pounds trump my 130+ pounds every time. She’s pulling me with the full power of her obsessiveness toward THAT TREE, the one she just saw the little gray tail scurry up. She throws her body full length up the trunk and screams in her anger and frustration that she can’t climb it like that furry little devil just did. And God forbid the furry little devil runs along the power lines over her head. You’d think the world was ending. She thrusts herself into the air and turns in a full circle, screeching. It takes both my husband and me to hold her back. I swear someday she’s going to figure out how to fly just so she can grab the little critters off their branches.

 Honey being good

But, as people keep reminding us, she is a rescue dog (was a year and a half old when we got her) and we don’t know what experiences she had before she came to us. Besides, she’s so darn cute. And in the interest of equal time, she does have a few pet-peeves of her own. So here are Honey’s peeves:

1. Getting a bath, having her ears cleaned and her teeth brushed.

2. Not being able to eat twenty-four hours a day.

3. Never being able to catch those blasted squirrels!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Are We Meeting Again, or For the First Time?

My husband and I are visiting my mother at her assisted living, sitting at the dinner table with her while she finishes her meal. She’s a very slow eater and is usually the last person left in the dining room. Today a new resident (of a couple of weeks) wanders over and sits down in a chair next to our table. She is, sadly, where my mother was two years ago in her dementia. She's near tears, keeps saying, “I don’t know where I am. I don’t know how I got here.” I’ve seen the CNAs talking to her, trying to reassure her, but in dementia there’s no reassurance. You forget what someone told you just a minute ago, but the fear stays with you.

To distract her, my husband starts a conversation, asking her questions about her family. She says she was born in Brooklyn. My ears twitch. So was my father! So was my husband! When she graduated from high school she went to work as a secretary at an insurance company. “Which one?” I ask. “Equitable Life,” she answers. Now I sit up straight in my chair. “My mother worked at the Equitable! In Manhattan?” “Yes,” she replies. “Right across the street from Penn Station.” That’s the one!

I turn eagerly to my mother, who’s still eating and can’t hear our conversation. I touch her arm. “This lady worked at the Equitable,” I say, pointing at Fran. (I know pointing isn’t polite, but it’s less rude in my view than shouting, “the lady over there, across the table from us.”) My mom’s alert now; she remembers that part of her life. “Really? What year?”

I relay the question. But Fran can’t remember. Her recollections are a little vague. All she says is, “I started before the war and worked there all during the war.”

The same years my mother was there. I try to tell my mom this, though her hearing is so bad that I need to speak in short sentences and repeat everything. But she says, “Ask her what department, what floor. I was on the fourth floor.”

Fran can’t remember. She goes on, talking about how much fun the girls there had. How they would go out at lunch and shop at Macy’s and Gimbel’s. My mother did the same. Fran asks what department my mother worked in.

Mom remembers this as well. “Claims,” she says.

“Oh, Claims was a good department. You had to have a brain to work there.”

I relay this to my mother. She pulls herself up in that self-mocking way she has. “Well, of course,”
she says.

My mom and me at Christmas, Canterbury Woods

Now I’m wondering if they might possibly have known each other. I know the names of my mother’s closest friends there: Myra, Mickey. She never mentioned a Fran, but that doesn’t mean they might not have been acquainted. We tell Fran my mom’s name and tell Mom Fran’s last name at the time. It doesn’t ring a bell with either of them. “There were about a thousand people working there,” my mother says.

Mom around 1958

Their stories have other things in common. My mother was born in Manhattan, my father in Brooklyn; they later both moved to Queens Village in Queens, where they met. Fran’s family moved to another part of Queens. She lived in Levittown after her marriage, my parents in Hempstead, Long Island. They both rode the Long Island Railroad into Manhattan for work. Now they’re both in New England.

But after that their stories diverge quite a bit. Fran is much younger than my mother; she started working there later. She found the war years a little dull because “there were no guys around. They were all at the war.”

My mother was married in 1935, before the war; Fran married her boyfriend after he returned, she says. But she has her dates somewhat confused, saying she was married in 1942, which was during the war, not after.

My parents moved to Chicago in the late 1940s, where my brother and I were born. Fran raised her family in Levittown and later moved to Massachusetts; my parents moved to Rhode Island.

I’m feeling electric but at the same time frustrated. My husband and I are acting like interpreters, repeating everything each woman says to the other as though they were speaking foreign languages. If only these two could really hold a conversation. They might discover much more in common. I know my mother would love to reminisce about Long Island and about her work.

But my mother can’t hear, neither of them can remember, and their dementia makes it difficult to follow conversations. I wish so fervently that my mom could make a friend there, but I’m afraid she’s beyond the friend-making stage. It would be so good for Fran, too. As I observe the people there, I see some who are isolated within themselves, nonverbal. Others talk to each other and often seem to be “hanging out” together. Yet none of them ever calls anyone else by name, and conversations don’t sound as if they come from a background of knowledge about each other.

Now the tantalizing question remains: did my mother and Fran actually know each other seventy years ago? Did they know some of the same people? Neither we nor they will ever know. They each have their memories, but they’re separate ones. As separate as they are, each on her little island of dementia, the disease that steals your life from you.

My mom by the fireplace, Canterbury Woods

Thursday, January 12, 2012

In defense of Richard (for GBE2, History)

History is not always cut-and-dried, it-happened-and-it’s-over. Sometimes it hides its mysteries inside itself.

 Look at the following two pictures:

Which of these two men would you say looked more like a child murderer and regicide?

 Which looks more like an honest and trustworthy man?

 Bonus question: Which one looks like he has a hunchback and a withered arm? (Bonus answer: if you said “neither one,” you get a point. If you said “the bottom one,” you get two points.)

 Your honor, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, this is all by way of introducing my defense of Richard of York, Duke of Gloucester, known to history as King Richard III, last of the Plantagenet line, the medieval kings of England over four centuries. He is the man in the first picture.

 The man in the second picture, the one with the weaselly face and beady eyes, is Henry Tudor, known to history as Henry VII, and his sins go beyond fathering Henry VIII and unleashing that evil on the world. His sins include murdering a good king and taking the throne with no legitimate claim.

 History has not been kind to Richard, largely due to the Tudor propaganda that Henry began spreading as a means of legitimizing his usurpation (propaganda on which Shakespeare based his play, as he wrote in the age of Elizabeth Tudor).

Anne Neville, Richard's queen

Most people who have heard of Richard believe that he was nothing short of a monster: an ugly hunchback with a withered arm and even more withered heart who stole the throne of England from his nephew Edward and then imprisoned Edward and his brother in the Tower of London and had them killed.

In fact, the fate of the Princes in the Tower is one of history’s enduring mysteries. At the time, the Tower was a royal residence; many people lived in it, including children. There is no conclusive evidence that Richard had his nephews killed, nor even that they were killed at all. The story is based simply on reports that the boys weren’t seen again after they moved into the Tower. No bodies or bones have ever been conclusively identified as belonging to them, and there is much speculation that one or both survived.


There is also no evidence that Richard was hunchbacked, as a look at his portrait should show. Short, yes. Hunched, no. As for the charges of usurpation, they’ve also been trumped up and exaggerated. The facts are these:

Richard’s brother, King Edward IV, had named Richard Lord Protector of England and of Edward’s twelve-year-old son, the to-be Edward V, who had been living outside of London. Richard was aware that Edward’s queen, Elizabeth Woodville, and her family were plotting to use the boy to seize power for themselves. History had shown that having a king who was a minor led to chaos and wars within a country, and England had already been long involved in the Wars of the Roses. It could ill afford a war of succession. Nevertheless, after Edward’s death, Richard escorted the prince to London and saw him lodged in the Tower,  and plans for Edward’s coronation went ahead.

Queen Elizabeth Woodville 

 Before it took place, however, the bishop of Bath and Wells revealed that King Edward IV had previously entered into a betrothal with another woman before his marriage to Elizabeth Woodville. At that time such a betrothal was considered to have the legal force of a marriage; therefore Edward’s marriage to Elizabeth was declared invalid and his two sons to be illegitimate and thereby barred from the succession. Upon this discovery Richard was declared king by an assembly of nobles and commons and later confirmed by a Parliamentary decree.

Does that sound like a usurpation?

There is evidence that Richard was and would have been a good king, despite having to put down a rebellion by a former ally, Lord Buckingham, and having had only two years to serve in office before he was killed in the rebellion led by Henry Tudor.

Richard was very popular in the north of England, which he had administered as governor during his brother Edward’s reign. He instituted a court to which poor people could bring their grievances. He provided for bail for felony suspects before trial. He banned restrictions on printing and sale of books, and was a patron of William Caxton, England’s first printer. He set standards for education for public officials in hopes of lessening corruption among them. He was intensely loyal to his brother and even to some who didn’t deserve it. After his death the people of York recorded their grief at his being “piteously slain and murdered to the great heaviness of this city.”

A Caxton book

And that murder was brought about by Henry Tudor, though it was not at his hands; no, Henry didn’t have the courage to face the king on the battlefield of Bosworth himself. He hid in his tent as Richard charged toward his lines, alone, and was killed by Henry’s men. Richard was largely alone because he had been betrayed by his expected allies, the Stanley family--one of whom happened to be married to Henry’s mother.

The Wars of the Roses between the Lancaster and York families had created many enemies for Edward and Richard, including the Lancastrian Henry and his mother, Margaret Tudor Stanley. It was Margaret who egged Henry on to challenge the king. Henry had a very weak claim to the throne himself, being descended from an illegitimate line.

After Richard’s death his body was stripped, thrown on the back of a horse, and taken to a monastery for burial in a humble grave; later his bones were disinterred and thrown into a river. He is the only king of England not to have a permanent burial site.

Richard’s death and Henry’s subsequent marriage to Richard’s niece effectively ended the Wars of the Roses but ushered in one of the bloodiest eras in English history, the Tudor era. The Tudors were ruthless in disposing of their enemies and anyone who stood in their way or represented a threat. Henry managed to kill off all of the remaining members of the House of York so that they couldn’t threaten his tenuous claim.

Did this include the Princes in the Tower? Some have speculated so. Oddly, Henry did not charge the late Richard with the murder of the princes. Could that be because he didn’t know for certain whether or not they were dead? In later years Henry would be challenged by “pretenders” to the throne claiming to be either one of the princes or a nephew of Edward’s; they garnered considerable support, indicating that there was no common knowledge that the princes had died during Richard’s reign.

Honorable members of the jury, I have presented only a few points in the case for the defense. Much better and more complete arguments can be found in the classic novel for Ricardians and Ricardian converts, Josephine Tey’s “The Daughter of Time,” as well as Paul Murray Kendall’s biography, “Richard III,” and Bertram Fields’ “Royal Blood.” And the Richard III Society has many more resources.

History won’t give up its mysteries to us. We can only try to interpret the evidence. I have this dream that when I get to the World Beyond, everything will be revealed….what happened to the princes? Who built Stonehenge? Who was really responsible for Kennedy’s assassination? And on and on.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Work, or, What Is a Copyeditor?

I am blessed to do what I love for a living. I’ve always wanted to work with words, and (except for a brief, badly advised interval that shall go undescribed) I always have.

For most of my career the words I worked with came in between and wrapped around a lot of signs, symbols, and equations. Although I liked my job at a mathematics publisher, I kept longing to be able to sink my editorial teeth into subjects that I could actually understand. So eventually I decided to work for a master’s degree in psychology.

Thanks to a generous program of my employer and the patience and support (emotional and financial) of my husband, I finished my degree program in 1997. I had reduced my position to part time at my employer while I studied, and I began to use the spare time I had to start seeking freelance work. I was lucky enough to find a few clients, and in the fall of that year I became a full-time freelancer.

I love working for myself. The lifestyle suits me well, even though I do have times when I miss having other people to interact with. But I’m an introvert, and I’ve always worked better when I can be by myself, in my own space, without interruptions.

Having a flexible schedule has been a godsend over the past few years, as my mother began to suffer from dementia and needed care. I’ve been able to reduce my workload when needed or even take time off, as I did this past summer when she went into assisted living and I visited her on most days of the week.

I’m not always best at disciplining myself, though. That’s something I still work at. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.

When I tell people I’m a copyeditor, they often want to know what that entails. So here’s a brief description of some of the things we do.

What is a copyeditor?

A copyeditor is the link (invisible but hopefully never missing) between author and reader.

Copyeditors have a dual consciousness. We must try to put ourselves inside the mind of the reader, reading the text as he or she will, thinking, “Would I as a reader understand what’s meant here? Would this phrasing make me stumble or stub my toes? Would this ambiguous pronoun confuse me about the meaning of the sentence? Why did the verb tense suddenly change?” We must also try to think like authors, even though we may not be experts in the subject, trying to follow their line of thought and understand what they are trying to say and whether a few word changes or punctuation will make that thought clearer. Unfortunately, though, we’re not mind readers. That’s what author queries are for (AU: OK as edited??)

Like housework, copyediting, when well done, is invisible. It may be noticed only when it isn’t done or is done poorly.

Suppose you were reading a novel or textbook and you came across the following:

· The Magna Carta was signed in 1298. (actually 1215)

· Thoreau’s great work was titled On Walden Pond. (just Walden)

· Fargo won the Best Picture Oscar in 1996. (The English Patient won.)

· A woman in France makes a call at 5 p.m. to her husband in New England--where it’s bedtime. (It’s actually earlier in the U.S. than in Europe)

The first three are actual errors that I caught when working on manuscripts. The fourth I found in a published novel, and it certainly affected my enjoyment of what was otherwise a good story. They don’t by any means reflect on the intelligence of the authors; we’re all human beings, and authors have a difficult task in organizing their thoughts and expressing what they want to say. Even small errors, those that might easily escape any author proofing his or her own work, can make a big difference in how the author’s work is received by a reader. An omitted not can entirely change the meaning of a sentence.  Extraneous words can clutter a sentence and make it more difficult to read.

And then there are the “spell check”errors—things that a word processor’s checking program will miss simply because it isn’t programmed to catch them. Have you ever red (read) anything like “the cargo was to (too) heavy to left (lift)”? Or stumbled on two words in succession that seem to mean the same thing—hole crater—because the author changed the word but simply forgot to delete the original one? A spell checker won’t catch these things. A trained, sensitive copyeditor will.

Have red pencil, will use it.

I breathe, therefore I edit.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Crochet Every Day

As a new crocheter, I might be a little overenthusiastic, but I like to have a few projects going at a time. Today I made some progress on all three things I have “on the hooks.”

When I visit my mother at her assisted living, I like to bring something simple, like this dishcloth. It’s just single crochet, row after row, in Sugar 'n' Cream variegated cotton yarn. I actually started this today and did this much while sitting with her. We bring her coffee and a snack and usually stay with her for part or all of her supper. It’s hard to have a conversation with her, as she can’t hear well at all and her dementia makes it hard for her to follow thoughts, but I think she appreciates just having me and my husband there with her. I find it relaxing for my hands to have something to do that doesn’t take too much attention so I can still pay attention to her. Oh, I’m also trying a new style of hook with this; it’s a Clover flat handled ergonomic hook, and it feels great to use. I think I’ll get a set of these.

Later, while watching the Celtics beat the Nets (yay!) I worked a little more on this shawl. I’m making this with a gorgeous Berroco yarn, Ultra Alpaca Tonal. The color in the photo isn’t exact; there’s a lovely fuschia shade in this that isn’t showing up. This is the first thing I’m actually making for myself besides dishcloths, and I can’t wait to get it finished.

Finally is this cowl. This is in Berroco Peruvia (can you tell I love Berocco?). It’s the first thing I’ve made in the round, something I’ve been wanting to tackle. I also want it to go under my black wool coat, which has an open vee collar and gets a little chilly.

So it was a good day with the hooks.  I do try to crochet a little every day if I can. All those small steps will eventually lead down the path to a thing of beauty!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Tea, Book, and Candle

What a perfect setting! The image is from MorgueFile, free photos:
Image URL:

Why I Am a (Physical) Book Person

I could subtitle this “Why I hope I’m never forced to read books on a screen.”

I know about the advantages of e-books. They’re cheaper. They’re light and easy to carry around. But in my mind the advantages don’t even come close.

A book is so much more than just a story, just words. A book is the way it feels, smells. It’s a weight you hold in your hands, it’s the pleasant slight resistance of the binding and the small cracking sound when you first open the cover, it’s the texture and shading of the pages (yes, white does have shadings). It’s the black type against the white. It’s the feeling of the paper against your fingers when you turn the page. It’s getting to the end of a page and having those few seconds of anticipation of what comes next before you turn it, a pleasure eliminated by continually scrolling the text down. (So often a page seems to end in just the right place, withholding its revelation for that tantalizing moment.)

There’s something about sitting with a book open, like spread wings, that invites you into it and holds you within its world. The physical nature of a book is friendly; you can touch it, smell it. A screen imposes a layer between you and the book and keeps it just slightly removed from you, hampers the connection you make with it.

After you’ve read an e-book, what’s left? It disappears back into the ether, leaving no physical trace to stir the memory. There’s no replacement for the presence of books you’ve read in your own library. The variations in covers and spines make patterns on bookshelves that are both soothing and stimulating to look at. Being able to see all the books I’ve read is a satisfying feeling of accomplishment. And just looking at a book—taking it down and holding it in my hands—brings it back to me, if not in perfect memory for its content, then in the feeling that I remember getting from it when I read it. It can bring back a vivid character whom I’m happy to have met, an intricately woven plot or resonant theme. I can reread beautifully written passages.

But the memories stirred aren’t only memories of the book itself but of the time in my life when I read it. I may remember when and where I bought or received it. I remember that I was reading this at a PawSox game between innings, or while snuggling up cozily during the blizzard we had three years ago, or on the train to New York or the plane to San Francisco. I remember that I was reading ‘Les Miserables’ while I suffered through mono. I remember the semi-trashy novel I read on my honeymoon (trashy is okay on a honeymoon). Those books are part of my life. A book contains lives within its binding—not only those of its subjects or characters but also of its readers.

My husband often “cross-reads,” that is, he goes back to reread parts of other books that bear on the book he’s currently reading, and he has them handy on our bookshelves. It may be possible to do that with an e-reader, if the e-books have been kept, and it would be quick, but I can’t imagine it being more satisfying than browsing through the pages of a book you haven’t read in a while and catching serendipitous passages that you weren’t even looking for.

I don't mean to offend anyone who enjoys e-books. It’s just my personal statement setting forth the reasons for my “great quest” to buy as many books as I can while they still exist. My quest takes me to bookstores, new and used; library book sales; yard sales; anywhere, and drives me not to leave till I’ve filled a few bags or boxes. I want to hoard books, save as many as I can against the day when (horrors) they will disappear from the marketplace. I picture myself in my retirement years greedily surrounding myself with stacks of unread books as well as old favorites to reread, happily ignoring the virtuality of the world around me while I smell the paper and binding and run my hands over the pages.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Hello and Welcome to my Blog

Because life’s greatest pleasures are made up of tiny things: small crochet stitches that culminate in a beautiful shawl. Each step of a mile walk or jog. The notes in music. The letters in words and the words in books. A smile from the one you love. Words and thoughts exchanged with friends. The lines and colors in a work of art. Hours, days, years in a rich and fulfilling life.

And, of course,the leaves in that first morning cup of tea.

This is to celebrate the things that life is made of.

And also to cheer and celebrate the continual process of learning, growing, and becoming, especially for those of us in our sixties and beyond who still believe the best is yet to come and that “God isn’t through with us yet,” that life can still be exciting and rich. This blog is for all the “would-be’s” and all the things we still would and could be.

This past year I learned to crochet and surprised myself by how much I like it. I think I’ve come pretty far, and I know I have so much more to learn; I expect to be learning it for the rest of my life. So lesson no. 1 from 2011: I really am a crafty person, which I never thought I was.

This year I also learned when and how to let go, when my ninety-nine-year-old mother finally needed to leave the house we shared with her and go into an assisted living facility. I learned that I could no longer be responsible for trying to keep her life normal and happy, that dementia will have its way, and, on the positive side, that she could be better cared for and even happier where people who are experts in the disease and who are empathetic and caring without having the personal burdens can take care of all her needs.

In this coming year I plan to return to my love of medieval history. I have a collection of so-far unread books to get to. I collect medieval English coins and replicas of illuminated manuscripts. I have been a member of the Richard the Third society, and my favorite kings are he and Henry II (my favorite movie is also “Becket”), my favorite ruling family the Plantangenets. So I’ve decided it’s time to get more deeply into it and supplement the books I’ve already read. That’s my first resolution.

I would love to hear from other "constant learners," crocheters, anyone dealing with dementia, or any other topics! I'm looking forward to a fruitful and fulfilling year.