Friday, June 14, 2013

The Bells are Ringing

Look to: treble's going; she's gone.

Almost a year ago I was inspired by some very compelling people to take up change ringing. This is a very British thing to do. There is ringing in churches throughout Europe, but change ringing - the patterns of which look very much like any cable graph - is pretty unique to this island and the places colonised by it. Anyway, I've been learning a totally new skill. Last weekend, I rang outside my home tower for the first time.

One of the nice things about this outing was trying my hand at different bells, seeing what sorts of strangenesses there could be that our tower just doesn't have. It was also nice to wander through a bunch of churches in charming villages. In one of these churches was the quarterly bulletin, with a letter from the vicar reminding his parishioners that he is never too busy to attend them, especially when ill. "I do not have a sliding scale of concern," he wrote, and this phrase has stuck with me.

On the one hand, greyscale is vital. The ability to rate the importance of an incident or task, the balancing of impact when there's so much going on: these are what allow us to get through the day, to manage our time and to not sweat the small stuff. On the other hand, the ability to adjust as more information comes in is equally valuable. And ultimately isn't the most important thing how we work with those in our world?

Ringing is a team activity. You must listen to your fellow band members, make little adjustments to keep in with them or it can all go wrong. Each member of the band carries equal responsibility in creating this lovely sound.

In other words, it's all about balance. It always comes back to balance.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

H to the um

I was chatting with my good friend Matt last night and he made the comment that my life is much more full than his. I thought about this. Thought about what my days tend to look like: Wake up. Get out of bed. (Two very different activities, I assure you.) Toothpaste on the brush. So. Scrub. (Sorry...) Dash to catch a bus for work -or- break my fast to NPR and conversation with Clive. Work or avoid it. (This applies equally to weekdays or weekends.) Trawl the web. Go home. Think about working out. (I've been trying to make this easier with a bit of old-school happiness. Which might eventually help me get through my massive Netflix que...) Work on Clive's mum's Christmas present. Dinner. (Verb(s) implied.) Go to bed.

This really doesn't seem like much. I spend so much more time thinking about what I'm not accomplishing, and all of this...

But I'm happy. I'm not content, which is good, since I dread contentment which leads almost directly to complacency (I've seen it happen. Not pretty.) which in turn leads to apathy, which is actually lethal. Eyes are on the horizon, from small things like figuring out how to use the pretty drop spindle I got at the Ren Faire and the game I'm plotting planning for my friends to big things like grad school. Life will not be like this beyond June.

For the time being, however, I'm happy. Good conversations with good people. Catching up on reading material. Breathing. Knitting.

I don't want to be here forever, but for the time being I've no wish to complain.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Oh. Right.

I don't keep a blog because... I don't keep a blog. Right. Moving on.

So CW is now past tense in my life (which does indeed mean that I am no longer working in theatre), UWBA is eating my head in a pretty good way (the two are not entirely unrelated) and I am slowly endeavouring to make my way back into the world of People With Social Lives. Been doing okay with that, actually... Last weekend was Rening it up with friends (no pics, and I'm not sorry), this weekend was getting my Beatle on with more friends and will soon be enjoying quality programming.

What does all this mean? Does removing one large time commitment from my life automatically entail putting other commitments in its place? Perhaps. There's this regular thing in life, where there don't seem to be enough hours in the day to do everything that might be fun or worthwhile. Removing one appointment really does mean that there are a dozen others, more or less, to fill in the gap. And there is a luxury right now, here, of a surplus of interesting happenings anywhere I look. Maybe it just means that I'm still interested in too much.

The book group I've recently joined just read Shoes Outside the Door, which is about the San Francisco Zen Center. It's non-fiction, though I have a feeling it's a similar type of journalism as what used to be really popular in the 1920s: sensationalist, less interested in telling the facts than in selling itself. One of the things we were talking about, in discussing this book, was how all these people were (are) so willing to spend hours daily practicing. Practice is sitting. Not praying, not doing anything but sitting. And were were discussing what else could be done in that hour spent sitting every morning (which, considering it was as something like 5 am, would include sleeping) which all got me thinking.

Each individual is unique. What we value is as unique as how we would solve problems, and how we choose to spend our time is based on what we value. I can't fathom just sitting for two hours, but the three hours I spent just lying outside yesterday, sometimes reading sometimes staring at an infinite sky, I did not consider that time wasted. Perhaps not well-used, but certainly not wasted.

These things are all based on choice, on what we want, on what individual priorities are. Is there actually a way any of these can be wrong? I really don't think there is. Unwise, perhaps. Selfish, certainly. Destructive, probably. But wrong? No more so than preferring daisies to roses can be wrong.

So I'm embracing the opportunities to spend time with work friends outside work, to rekindle friendships left banking, to join new groups and maybe gain new skills (guess who has a drop spindle...). There's a new project on the needles, new tennis shoes in my near future, and lots of books to read and (yes, even) television programmes to watch.

Let's see how this goes, shall we?

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Indeed, she said smilingly.

You might want to sit down on something very stable. I'm about to say something... substantial.

There has been no knitting in Casa Kat for at least a month.

I know. I thought the same thing when I found out, but what can you do? Well, I don't know what you'd do, but I ordered 20 balls of a merino/alpaca/silk blend in a merlot-y colour (I hope. It was a KnitPicks purchase and while I've been happy with the yarn I've gotten from them, I've also always been intrigued by what the yarn looks like compared to what I think I'm ordering.) and decided on a sweater pattern. I'm going to see if I can do a men's medium with a 4 1/2 sts to the inch gague in seven weeks. I don't think so either, but after this wicked dry spell I need something drastic.

Speaking of wicked, I saw Spamalot this week. Totally worth a free ticket.

And... that's it. A month of radio silence and that's all I have to show for it? I can only plead insanity.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Quantify 'finished'

One of the things theatre and knitting have in common is a definite, finite ending point. Extensions and projects-that-will-not-be-spoken-of notwithstanding, once the final curtain falls and the final numbers are in the piece suddenly becomes past tense and exists only in the memories of those who participated and another show is loading in the next day; once the work is blocked and the ends tucked tidily in, the piece becomes something to be worn in public, the WIP becomes a finished project on Ravelry and some needles are freed up for whatever is next.*

This finishable quality does not exist everywhere. Very few places, I've found, can say "aaaand we're done" and have it be true. It certainly isn't true when one looks at our world. Helping it. Living with it, not merely on it.

Part of that is quantity. There are a lot of humans (and other living, thinking creatures; but I think in the malicious actions category humans win hands down, so I'll be focusing on us. That and: I don't speak cat. Well. But LOLspeak doesn't count.) living here ("Heavy breeders," as Maldis said) and using the planet as best we can, but I don't think that's all. There's something to be said for intent.

Clive and I were talking about not wasting. He mentioned that for him and his brother, it was fairly automatic: they were raised by parents who had lived through the immediate after affects of the Great War and WWII in England. They didn't have anything, "and then they had us," and conserving was not only the financially smart thing to do, but it was a show of solidarity and patriotism. It was second nature, and a close second.

I can not say that our family had a lot. We always had enough, but that was frequently because we did without something else. It was never that final step of 'lights and heat or food?' but I have a feeling I have grandparents to thank for that. But for some reason that step farther, of reusing something until it was entirely disintegrated; of creatively doing something else so you don't even realize you're not being wasteful... There's a philosophical link missing. Or, I now think, not missing, but cauterized.

I live in one of the most plentiful, beautiful nations on our earth. People have come here to make something more of their lives. This is, I think, a place people come to so they don't have to conserve, or pay attention to how much they're using. We have all these amazing resources; how much more wasteful and ungrateful is it to not use them? Preserve? For what? The very idea is antithetical to the essential concept of this country.

Or rather, of what this country imagines itself to be. In truth, the notion of stewardship is an old one and not foreign here. The time is upon us - all of us, Americans or not, liberal or not, every person who lives on this planet having an equal share in responsibility for what happens to it - to consciously consider what we're doing here. And how we can make it better. 

This work - of caring for our planet - will never be finished. Hopefully.

*Please note a very tangible difference between knitting and theatre: while both very specifically depend on two parties (knitter and knitted for, production team and audience (and in both of these cases the two parties can be the same person)), both require a surprising amount of patience and faith and neither are taken too very seriously in the US, when knitting is done it lives on in the the finished product. Barring uncouth washing habits (or other things I won't think of since I've only had a little bit of caffeine so far today) that finished product will be what it is, give or take, until it dies. Ye olde performance piece, on the other hand, not only has no afterlife to speak of (and don't speak to me of videos. There's a significant difference between theatre and film, and to think that just watching someone's home video of a play is the same as being there is an insult to both media) but it's never the same one night to the next. Ever. It can't be. That's one of the amazing things about live performance, one of the things I love hearing from people who haven't ever been to see something professionally produced: it's something completely different from anything else they've experienced. Because they were a part of it. And no one who wasn't in that room that night will ever see that production. And the amazing thing is that this does not mean the performed arts are entirely mortal. They live on in the memories of everyone who was there. 

Monday, April 20, 2009

To Boldly [totally make this up] where I have not before

So, sitting in the DMV today, preparing to renew my ID (and I have a feeling my hair is crap for the picture. Seriously: would it be too much trouble to have a mirror there?), I took up needles and yarn and began a pair of socks. Only to look at the pattern and realize a) I would totally have an overwhelmingly wrong gauge; 2) I would have to sew up a seam and no*; and u) I didn't even really like the pattern as set anyway.

Instead, I boldly cast on 78 sts on US0s and am doing a k2 p1 rib for the top of the sock. I might still do cables, if those are considered manly enough for a London playwright. But first I think I'm going to consult EZ and maybe some others to make sure I'm not just screwing myself right over.

And I've almost convinced myself that if I do 'wing' these socks, after the gloveses, I should be totally ready to do the sweater. Well. Once I do a bit more research into the whole side-to-side seamless construction used here. Let me know when you're done drooling. I understand.

So research. Actually, no. First I'm going to Jupiter for a Heff and some pizza. Because nothing says "personal day" like a 3pm beer. As Clive (among others) always says: the sun is setting over the yardarm. Somewhere.

* Especially since I now am considering a lifetime of only doing toe-up socks because I loves not having to stitch up 8 loops. A whole sock's worth? So don't think so.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

The little things

Yesterday at work I attended a lunch celebrating birthdays from the first quarter of the year. (Be nice. There are 100+ employees. This makes celebrating manageable and actually happen. Plus I got free tasty lunch.) We went around talking about either our best birthday or what we did this year (I told both. That's just the way I roll.) and I mentioned buying myself a potted Lily of the Valley and the nice dinner Clive treated me to and told the story of Mel and Jeremy and The Vance taking me to snow my first birthday out here (which is still, to this day, the best birthday surprise. The bracelet from Jan is probably the best present, but I digress) and said something about missing the seasons and the taste of fall.

"The taste of fall?" queried our second-in-command. He's from California, but several others who clearly come from places where the leaves change colour and fall really is the year wiping down the counters came to my defense. When one of them asked if I missed seasons enough to go back, I said: "Not there. But somewhere with seasons, yes."

There is that saying "Don't sweat the small stuff." I don't know that I agree with that today. Not that I'm a proponent of freaking about every little thing, but the small stuff (the colour of the shadows under a clear blue sky, voices singing in harmony, the feel of something knitted) is what gives substance to life. I want to notice it, let it touch and affect me.

What I don't endorse is the freaking out part. I just wish there were an on/off switch for the panic. Or rather, I wish I could find the 'off' switch. Fine seems to be fully functional.

I've been a week, maybe two, with empty needles. That, I believe, will be changing tonight. I'm feeling the need to make some socks coming strong and fast. There's a certain playwright who I promised socks to a year ago (though I don't think he took me seriously. Which is (of course) a challenge.) and I think once I get one project going the rest will just follow.

But for the moment I'm enjoying the idea of working at my own pace and the feel of the air. You know: the little things.