life, monthly updates

March Wrap-Up

February was rough, no two ways about it. It usually is; the weather in New England tends to be at its coldest, and for some reason they give the kids a week off from school. We got through it, and then through the anniversary of Everything Changing. It’s definitely weighing on folks; after a year-plus, I think we’re all just exhausted. 

However. Here we are near the end of March, and things are looking up. Vaccination rates are getting better. The weather has improved, which means I can go running again. My goal for the month was to get back up to three miles at least a few times a week, which goal I passed handily. I’ve started planning this year’s container garden. Got outside a couple of times.

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Halibut Point

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life, monthly updates

The Inevitable 2020 Summary Post

I kind of want to ruminate on the glimpses of domesticity we see in Beowulf, but maybe I’ll leave that cozy topic for the year’s final post.

On the one hand, what even can be said about 2020. On the other, I feel like we all deserve a badge, a “we did it!” symbol to commemorate having gotten through the deluge. Natural disasters, pandemic, politics, omnipresent and graphic illustrations of the fragility of our social systems–the ones that aren’t demonstrably broken–if you made it through, then well done.

Last January looks utterly unreal in its distance from the present day. More than once it felt like this year was never going to end at all. (I suppose that publishing this two weeks in advance is taking a certain risk.) Compared to a lot of people, we’ve been incredibly lucky this year, and even so, having gotten anything at all done feels like an astonishing accomplishment.

In Significant Life Events, two of my grandparents passed away early this year, although one I hadn’t seen since I was tiny, and the other wasn’t much of a surprise after years of steadily worse health. Looking at this now mostly occasions a sense of “that was THIS YEAR?” wonderment.

In the plus column, I got a new job. This has reduced my stress levels by a substantial amount, making everything else that little bit more bearable. It means that for at least the next year or so, I don’t need to put “re-skill for immanent career change” at the top of my priority list.

Writing-wise, I finally finished a project that had been sitting half-done for what, eight years?–and got it to the point of querying with a feeling of genuine satisfaction with the story (no results yet). And then I did NaNoWriMo again. I postponed another project to next year, and while I hated to do it, I think that was a good decision given this year’s emotional demands. I’m looking forward to working on it again with real anticipation and energy.

I spent a fair amount of time this year reflecting, crystallizing goals, coming up with my three-year plan, and starting to turn those goals into tasks. If I’m successful with that, you’ll be seeing a lot of action here in 2021.

And then there’s all of the other stuff, irregularly chronicled here–knitting, running, professional group organizing, community work, gardening, reading, learning, family life–all under the penumbra of pandemic this year, home and school and work and hobbies hopelessly smushed into one another.

It’s going to be a rough winter; the news this past week has made that painfully clear. The vaccine is less “the end is in sight” than “there are seabirds, so there’s gotta be land in that direction.” Let’s look out for one another, and prepare a better 2021.

knitting, life, writing

The Week in Pictures

  1. Reached the halfway point on this scarf (finally). Hoping to finish it this month.
  2. Printed out half-assed draft of the next project. I’m about 1/3 through reviewing it.
  3. I’ve been playing with a daily visual journal. Some days it’s hard to find anything to draw; other days my teen and about-to-be-teen stand in the living room T-posing at each other while I try to stop laughing.

knitting, life, monthly updates, writing

October Wrap-Up

Someday the time distortion effect will ease up, right? I’m looking at my calendar and thinking, There’s no way that was only three weeks ago, what the hell? But here we are, the last day of October (also a full moon, also Halloween of course), so it’s time to consider the month.

In terms of this blog’s focus, the most important thing about October is that I wrote 22k words of the new book. I have decided to try for another NaNo win, which if successful should get me through the bulk of the first draft, with the goal of finishing it by the end of the year. In purely physical terms, this is do-able; we’re not going anywhere this month, we’re not hosting any gatherings, I don’t have a commute right now, and my new job is not crushing me with tasks or boredom. I have the time; it’s down to whether I can muster the focus to keep putting words together.

No word yet from my first batch of queries. I’m going to give them another couple of weeks before I send out a few more. So much for the writing category. Should I be explicit about my goals here? The 2023 plan is all about concrete goals. I shorthand it as “writing” but the actual goal is “get paid for creative work.” Keeping that in mind is supposed to be a motivator.

In other areas, “save for a house” has taken a hit due to major progress in “don’t hate my living space” — this was expected, and worth it. However, being ten weeks into the plan and seeing no progress in that goal is frustrating. We do have a full month of budget information to work with based on my new paycheck now, so I have set myself some small, actionable targets for the month based around that.

My day job feels like it’s coasting right now, and that won’t do in the long term, but November is no time to plan any major activity in that zone. It’s only been two months; I lucked out beyond hope with this change; it’s okay to just enjoy that for a while. I am keeping an eye on my general satisfaction level there, and come December will put together some 2021 targets.

And then there’s the fifth zone, which still doesn’t have a name or a chart because it’s generally about being at home in my body and at peace in my mind. “Lose 20 pounds” is a goal, but it’s not the goal, and I don’t want to mix up forest and trees here; I don’t know whether or not losing weight will make a difference to how I feel day to day. Meditating does seem to be helpful, but it doesn’t have an end date. Maybe I could set “establish these habits” as a goal for a few months, see if that goes anywhere.

I’m still knitting, in between all of this other stuff.

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I finished both of these cowls in October. The top one is snug and warm and a very quick knit. The bottom one has been languishing since last winter, and I am very glad to see the back of it; its a finer yarn than I’ve ever worked with before and took forever. Loosely draped, it’s nice to wear indoors on a chilly day; doubled, it’s cozy for walking outside. I even put together a queue of projects that should get me through the winter.

It’s been a good month.

life

Grocery Stores

Whenever I go walking and don’t have anything in particular on my mind, I tend to find myself thinking about similar walking occasions. If I walk in the woods, I think about other woods I have known. Beaches, same. Today I walked to the grocery store, and got to counting up the grocery stores I have walked to in my days.

There was the one in our college town (hardly any of us had access to a car). That was a hike down and more importantly back up the hill. That was where I first started learning how to cook, after a couple of summers on frozen foods and Tuna Helper. It was a small town, and a basic store, but it did the job.

After we moved to Boston there was a Bread and Circus down the street from our apartment. It was a poky little place–this was before the era of warehouse-sized supermarkets in the city. They wrapped your meat in butcher paper, which they still do at Whole Foods, although now they put the chicken in plastic bags first, which seems to defeat the point. When we moved to Somerville, I would sometimes walk to the store in Porter Square if the weather was mild, although I more often took the bus and later, when we had one, the car.

In Worcester there was a store right down the street. One winter I was heavily pregnant, it was snowing, and as I plodded home with my bags festooned around me, someone pulled over to offer me a ride. It was very kind of them, but I had to truthfully point out that it was only a couple of blocks.

And now there’s this place, where we have a choice of two major supermarket chains less than a mile away. I sometimes walk if I only need a few things and feel like I have the time, and always tell myself I should make the time more often. It doesn’t take that much longer, factoring in waiting at lights and so forth.

As I stump along with my bag of vegetables and jug of milk, I think about all of those past grocery stores, and future stores, and future walks in which I am one of those old ladies with a rolling cart, doggedly battling it homeward over the humps in the sidewalk. I wonder what I’m buying? Less milk than I do these days, probably.