Tuesday, July 25, 2006

There but for the grace of...?

I tell you, weird stuff is happening lately. Both in the knitting world and to me personally. Because I'm a self-centered person, I'll start with the "me" part.

Last Tuesday a huge storm blew through town. A single, powerful bolt of lightning turned this...

Into this.

You might not get the full impact of the difference, so let me show you what else the lightning hit.

Introducing a section of my boiler.

Ex-boiler, rather.

As best as I can figure, the lightning hit the well cap (artfully tucked in the center of my hollyhocks, located about three feet from where I probably would've been sitting at the time) and traveled down into the basement (directly under where I would've been sitting), where it connected with the boiler. Which got so hot that the iron turned white, the controls melted, huge burn marks lined either side of the casing, and the manual sitting on top of it turned to ashes.

Yet somehow, by the grace of I don't know who or what, the house was spared any further damage.

The place has an eery smell of melted electrical wiring, the cat needs serious therapy, and I've just been forced to spend a heck of a lot of money to replace something that should've lasted me 30 years... but that's ok. I'm grateful that nothing worse happened.

However, if anyone can tell me a story of a culture, tradition, or superstition in which being struck by lightning is a good thing, by all means share it here. I could use a little reassurance.

The other weirdness happened in the knitting world. Last week word spread like wildfire that a prominent yarn company had just been accused of selling a cashmere yarn with no cashmere. The company issued its response, lawyers were brought in, vendors notified and reassured...

I know enough to understand that this is a potentially HUGE issue to be worked out among the yarn companies, their mills, their suppliers, their lawyers, and their wholesale customers. That it's not my battle, and that my energy would be better spent doing other things. Like calming the cat, who still jumps at the slightest sound. I know that this kind of brouhaha is happening now because the market is tightening, people are feeling the pinch, and they're starting to snipe at each other. We knew the tightening would come, it's nothing to worry about, but it is bringing to light some unpleasant behavior.

But the dispute is best left there. An ugly issue not to be dragged out into the street and poked with giant sticks.

And yet that's precisely what a few people did in the forums this week. It was a replay of something I've seen again and again. A conversation about heresay, gounded in few incomplete facts, that quickly becomes a fight between kids in the schoolyard.

"Oh yeah? Well you're a giant poop head."
"Well you're a stupid head!"
"How dare you call my friend a poop head?!"
"I've been here longer than you so I can say whatever I want."
"Oh yeah well I have more posts than you and we don't like people like you so just leave."
"Name-calling is not ok here, so take your dumb stupid head and go elsewhere! Stupid head!"
"Nya nya, I'm not leaving! I'm right and you're wrong so there!"

(At which point a crowd gathers, kids murmur "ooooh....", and a dutiful student goes running for the teacher. Which would be me.)

Only these are all grown adults. I presume they weren't raised by monkeys, so they should've known better. But they did it anyway.

What makes this dispute different from the others? Nothing. Which I find extremely disheartening. It's like we aren't evolving as a species. We just keep hitting the same wall without jumping over it.

Or maybe this is just a case of too much energy out there in the world right now, and not enough healthy places for it to go? Like that lightning bolt that found its way into my boiler. I'll stick to that theory, because I'd like to maintain a certain degree of optimism.

And finally, I send eternal gratitude to Stephanie for putting into words what it's really like to be a writer. Brilliantly put, and oh so true. Thank you Stephanie!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Forgive me blogger, for I have sinned. It's been several weeks since my last post.

The sailing class was 100% pure and complete heaven. The Wooden Boat School is an impeccable operation.

I left with even more knowledge and confidence than I'd hoped. Consider me hooked on this sailing "thing." And it's not just because I'm having serious escape fantasies as the book deadline looms closer and closer. I really do love the lure of being free on the water, using your wits to charm the wind into doing what you want it to do. (Or letting it charm you? That's more likely the case.)

The class was also an extremely helpful (and humbling) bit of insight into how people must feel when they come to the KR Retreat for the first time. Butterflies, nervousness, yet excitement as you let go of your daily grind and surrender to a few days of self-indulgent learning and inner pampering. At someone else's hands. It was just the lesson I needed before opening up registration for the 2006 retreat.

hello Julia

Back home, the garden has entered its second and near-final flush. The newest and most welcome addition this year is a beautiful yellow rose, aptly named after my culinary heroine Julia Child.

Welcome, Julia.


In another corner we have some echinacea preparing to turn a rosy pink and beckon all nearby butterflies.

beautiful garden bed

Mid-July is when my favorite mixed bed starts to bloom in front of the barn. I always dreamed of having a rambling farmhouse with squeaky doors and lace curtains and hollyhocks out front, and slowly but surely that dream is becoming a reality.

But wait! Wait just a minute! I forgot the other exciting garden news: the much-labored sweet peas made it. I have a whole row of beautiful, intoxicatingly fragrant blooms that just keep coming and coming. Aphids be damned (with the help of soapy water spray). Sorry the picture's so big, but I just couldn't help myself.

hello sweet pea

On the social front, the summer family visitors have come. My 10-year-old niece immediately asked me to teach her how to knit. I did, and then we sat there, quietly chatting and knitting. A lovely moment. Within just a few days she has created enough square and rectangular cozies to cover every object in the house.

I like knowing I'm sharing a healthy coping mechanism with her. She may not remember it in two weeks, but perhaps some day, when life gets stressful, she may wander past a yarn store and remember her kooky aunt and go inside the shop for a refresher.

Sunday, July 2, 2006

If you can't beat 'em...

Tonight begins my week-long venture into fear-conquering. You may recall back in January I mentioned my terrible fear of sailing, and my commitment to conquering it. On January 1st at 8am, as soon as they opened registration for this year, I signed up for a week-long sailing intensive at the Wooden Boat School in Brooklin (a nearby town that was home to E.B. White for many years).

Well, that class begins tonight. I am excited and terrified and not yet able to let go of all the earthly things I needed to get done before abandoning myself to another world for a week.

Household logistics required that I rent a car so I can easily get to and from class. (It begins at the buttcrack of dawn and ends either when the sun goes down or people are too exhausted to continue, and Brooklin is about 30 minutes from me.) So today I went to Bar Harbor to pick up the car. I reserved a tiny Hyundai, but when I got there, this is what they had left for me:

A gargantuan, bright-red SUV with New Jersey plates.

A Ford Expedition, to be exact. My apologies to anyone who drives a gargantuan SUV, but as someone who drives a small car, it really is a shock to suddenly find yourself at the helm of the U.S.S. Enormous.

And my apologies to anyone from New Jersey, which is a perfectly fine place. But in this particular instance, in this locale and at this time of year, I am literally cloaking myself in the garb of the enemy. I know I'll let it go, but right now I'm thinking of taping a sign to the back window that reads, "It's a rental."

The wet nature of ocean navigation will most likely prohibit the taking of abundant photographs over the next week, but I do promise a full report when I get back. Until then, I hope you are all safe, well, and enjoying some sort of holiday weekend.