Reading Update

It’s snowing! As with last year, I resolved to read everything I got as a Christmas gift first thing, so as not to keep growing my TBR infinitely.

1. A Field Guide to Getting Lost – Rebecca Solnit. Delightful, moving, educational, thought-provoking. So glad to have discovered her work last year.

2. The Deeds of Louis the Fat – Abbott Suger. Contemporary account of the French monarchy around 1100. Definitely useful for those of us who like to write fantasy worlds loosely based on medieval Europe; reality is a lot wilder than fiction.

3. A Cup of Silver Linings – Karen Hawkins. Emphatically not for me.

Two books left from the gift batch.

In other news, the weather continues very cold, wet, or both at once, so we have been stuck indoors a frustrating amount. We have all spent the past week watching Encanto, listening to the Encanto soundtrack, and thinking about Encanto. I wrote a flash fiction story for a group exercise I’m taking part in — it’s terrible, but at least I wrote something. COVID cases locally seem to be dropping again as fast as they spiked, but we have no idea where they’ll stabilize yet, so long-term planning remains difficult. So tired of this!


Knitting Update

Frigid weather this weekend means no hike (boo), and I haven’t been getting much done on the book (ditto). It was a very stressful week, and I wasn’t able to concentrate on much other than knitting, so here is the latest project.

I have another repeat to go, so I hope to finish it this month. This has been a good learning project for me, since along with the lace I finally had to get comfortable with M1L/R.

I’m also making yet another hat (I generally give those away). Planning a summer yarn crawl with a friend, but if I’m to do that, I absolutely must decrease my current stash to make room.


Crane Beach Hike

It was a near thing whether I went on this one–we got a half foot of snow yesterday, temps were expected to top out around 25 today, and it was a new group and a new place for me. On the other hand, I had been looking forward to going for most of the week, and wimping out seemed like it would make a poor start to the year.

It was a nice drive up. Boston’s North Shore is ridiculously attractive in many places. Towns look like the setting for a Hallmark movie, dignified Colonial four-square architecture heavily frosted with new snow, many of them still with Christmas decorations. Shivering in the parking lot while waiting for the group to assemble, I wondered if I should have restricted myself to driving around. Then we climbed over the dune to the beach, and I decided that I didn’t care if my hands were already numb.

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Crane Beach, Ipswich, MA

After a bit we curved away from the beach onto one of the dune trails, and it was less cold. We wound up and down for several miles, and through places where the snow had bowed nearby branches into a low tunnel. There was so much glare, it was hard to tell what I was taking pictures of, but I tried.

Although I have still been bothered by the lingering effects of my newfound allergy, it has been a good week. I’ve knitted most of a shawl, read some Solnit, and gotten more or less back into the routines of work and school. This weekend is going to involve getting down to cases with editing again.


Welcome, 2022

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First Day Hike at Breakheart Reservation 1 January 2022

I have spent most of this past week dealing with a nasty allergic reaction to… something, probably a soap. I don’t think that “itchy” is on anyone’s list of how they want to ring in the new year, but here we are. I wrapped up a few things over the last few 2021 days regardless. Knitted another hat, finished most of the books I have left lying around half-read for months now (total for the year: 43!), read the newsletters that have been languishing in my email, organized the kitchen cabinets, did not even for a moment think about staying up last night.

I also worked my way through the latest Unravel Your Year workbook, which has become a tradition for me over the past few years. My word for 2022 is “map.” I want to be a little more thoughtful this year about where I’m going–and where I’ve been–what travel instructions I can take and give. This choice may have been influenced by knowing that my first 2022 read will be Rebecca Solnit’s A Field Guide to Getting Lost. (Her writing was an amazing discovery for me in 2021.) In the first essay she references a quote from Meno:

How will you go about finding that thing, the nature of which is totally unknown to you?

A good question with which to begin the year, I think–a year haunted to some extent by the unfulfilled promises of the last one.

life, monthly updates, reading, writing

2021 Wrap-Up

I re-read my 2020 post before I started writing this one. If nothing else, I can say that 2021 was better than the year before it. Not as much better as we had hoped, of course, but better. There was that brief, heady period back in June when we were 4/5 vaccinated here, and it seemed like the end was in sight, and then… well. Not really surprising that I slid into a funk over the summer. That seems to be lifting, although we are now staring into the maw of an unnervingly warm winter.

So what did we do this year?

Finance: Savings are steady. We are moving our money out of Bank of America for climate reasons. Hello, credit union!

Home: We got a lot of stuff fixed and got rid of some stuff we aren’t using (I have rediscovered Freecycle). It’s far from a “room of one’s own,” but I do at least have a workspace now. House ownership seems as far away as ever, so I guess we should continue trying to make this place comfortable in the meantime. Got some new bookcases this month, that’s always fun. I experimented with a bunch of sustainable products this year, and enjoyed my little driveway garden.

Work: No-longer-new job is going fine. I have divested myself of two volunteer obligations. Hopefully the result will be a less frazzled me in ’22.

Writing: My goal this year was to treat writing like a serious thing, which I did pretty well until the summer pandemic spike and attendant mood crash. A lot of activity went on here, but not much got finished. Much of the year was spent in querying, editing, and preparing for self-publishing two projects next year; these things don’t happen entirely on my schedule. I did work on a couple of drafts for new books, but did not get as far as I had hoped with those. I have written dozens of letters, however, since I discovered Penapalooza.

Knitting: Very nearly the entire year was spent on one project, which is now done and gifted– yay! I also bought a shameful amount of yarn to power me through ’22.

Reading: As of this writing, I read 39 books in 2021. I might add one or two to the total still. 22 of those were new reads, most of the remainder a Terry Pratchett binge I went on this fall. 14 were non-fiction, two were epic poetry, one was whatever you call The Secret Commonwealth, and one a novella. My favorite non-fiction read was How to Do Nothing, which I still think about regularly as I walk around the neighborhood, and my favorite new-to-me fiction read was The Dispossessed. Nothing like catching up on books the same age as me!

Media: We still haven’t been back to a movie theater since Onward that last weekend before everything shut down. The eldest child and I watched a lot of TV this year, much of which I liked (Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts was my favorite) and some of which I did not care for (Centaurworld). We seem to be in a grand period for animated shows. This month we’ve been working our way through the Ghibli catalog, most of them old friends, but there were a few I either hadn’t seen at all or haven’t watched recently.

There was a bunch of other stuff, of course, but looking back on the year, much of my activity seems to have happened in fits and starts. I did yoga off and on, running off and on, languages on and then decidedly off for months now. We saw friends a handful of times before gathering started to seem like less than a good idea again (although at least the youngest is vaccinated now). There hasn’t been much continuity anywhere except for hiking. I am so happy to have found hiking this year! It’s gotten to the point where I am cranky all week when I don’t get out on the weekend.

Could have been a lot worse. Next up: 2022 planning.