A View from Sierra County

Small town life and politics, lots of knitting, and travels with and without my five burros

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Location: In the Sierra Nevadas, United States

I blog about rural living and social issues, and the creativity that comes from knitting, as well as post random pictures of the Sierras and my burros. "In order to be an artist, one must be deeply rooted in the society" - Simone de Beauvoir


Friday, December 30, 2005

The Year in Review

I have been thinking all week about what kind of "year in review" post I wanted to write. Many things have happened, not all of them fun. I have had a great creative burst of energy, which helped me through some of the rougher times. Then again, why would anyone else care? Of course, that last thought is the kind that might run through my mind while lying awake at 3:00 AM, hoping I can keep all the loose ends of daily life together, and finding the negative surface, while hoping it will pass on through.

I will share first of all the list of "landmarks in 2005" that we sent out with our photo-letter instead of a Christmas card this year. I used to be very faithful about sending out a stack of cards. My mother used to send out between 100 and 200 cards each season, and kept in touch with many friends simply through the act of letter-writing that accompanied these cards. When I faced my first Christmas without her, back in 1995, a very dear friend, Sharrie, offered to take on the task of helping me write a letter to explain to all those far-flung friends why they would no longer be hearing from my mother each holiday season. She took care of all the "office tasks", including the printing, labeling and mailing, that had me overwhelmed with grief, fresh in the light of going through a holiday season alone (even though my DH reminded me I had him and a houseful of children, it still came out of my heart that way).

I treasured having such a friend, and never wrote the usual holiday letter again, preferring to create a photo gallery with a brief message. I missed a year here and there, as the time came and went before I could get to this task. This year, however, I was able to sit down last week and quickly assemble the photos and brief list and get most in the mail before Christmas, and the rest (a total of about 60 friends and relatives) out this week. Here is what boiled down to the most critical landmarks in our lives in the past year:

Jan. First grandchild, Mia, born Jan. 11
Mar. Rex graduates from the Interagency Fire Academy (one of our three sons)
April Jesse (youngest son) moves to Sacramento
Cody (oldest son) breaks his femur in 3 places requiring a rod, plates and screws
May Rex starts on Helitack with Forest Service, rappelling to fires
June Pliocene Ridge High School (where I had taught for 8 years) closes and Birdsong starts work at Western Sierra Medical Clinic
Aug. Nikki moves to Chico to continue her child development studies; Cody moves from Tahoe to be her roommate and return to school
Birdsong takes over as Director at Good Years Childrens Center
Oct. Glenn leaves for 5 weeks of hurricane relief work in Texas and Miss.; gets to visit daughter Amy, husband Eliot, and baby Mia for first time
Dec. Rex learns he has permanent slot on Helitack

These sparse details, just enough to fit into a text box amongst the photos, represent several major changes in our lives this past year. For the first time in almost 27 years, there are not children living with me. I still have lived more years with my daughter (22) than with my husband (12), but now we have a large, old and rambling house to ourselves. We actually still like each other. My son and daughter have turned out to have awesome roommates in each other, and the other two sibs are doing well too.

The traumas of losing a job I loved, and going through a major accident/crisis with my eldest son both turned out to be great lessons with happy outcomes. If I could always be so lucky! At least I am now old enough and wise enough to recognize how very possible it is for things to turn out far worse... we never do know. Going through my son's trauma allowed me the grace to see what a wonderful human being I had raised, as caring for those treating him as for himself, and full of laughter and optimism, in spite of the frightening circumstances. And, he walks without a limp, and was able to snowboard again at the start of this winter.

Changing jobs showed me my own resilience, and forced me to stretch and change, and recognize that I was better for it than remaining stagnant. This process has helped make me a more creative person. While attempting to unravel some yarn this evening in the process of winding three different types of yarn together, I finally realized that insisting on untangling rather than cutting and running over the years had taught me something very important: to see the big picture. If I stepped back a bit and looked at the tangling process, I usually ended up finding the solution, and the same has been true in my daily life as I approached these life changes... being able to step back a bit and look at the big picture has allowed me to remain (mostly) unruffled and to look for the good in the situation and build a better one.

I didn't include in my annual photo letter just how significant the friendships I have made through my virtual knitting buddies have become in the past year. I feel fortunate, after having lived almost twenty years in a rural place where finding kindred spirits can be pretty tough, to have nurtured connections with several wonderful new friends and to have met scores of others. What a great thing to happen!

I also didn't include a list of my FOs for 2005, and I have decided not to bore you with that list, either. Suffice it to say that I was especially pleased with making a prayer shawl for a friend, and then later hearing that her husband is in the recovery stage from his cancer, with being able to contribute washcloths to Cloths for Katrina, and a few hats and scarves to other charities, and with finishing a baby sweater and blanket for Mia.

I was happy to total up my creative sales (mostly felted purses that I loved, each and every one) and discover that they were larger than I thought (although I spent so much more, my business would still be considered a hobby, I have a few more years to "prove up"). I was thrilled to get and begin to learn to use, a circular sock machine, even though I still don't have a finished sock to show yet. I was happiest with some of the objects I finished as gifts, and wore the pink tank top more than any other item I made for myself this past year. I will be intrigued to see what my summary looks like next year.

It looks like I am moving towards bigger projects in the next year, although I am exploring some new, quickie items to put in the crafts coop when we re-open in early spring. I have two shawlettes on the needles, a fancier tank top to make in late spring, a large shawl and a Bohus cardigan in the planning stages, as well as hoping to make a few stuffed animals for Mia.

This version of the Versatile Scarf is much more rustic than the eyelet one I finished last week; the pink yarn has a very nice nubbly (is that really a word?) texture that the garter shows off, and the eyelet trim helps it lie flat while jazzing up the design a bit. I am almost ready to bind off the back neck and add the side ties.

This is the violet Ruffled Shawl, much further away from completion... I have it pinned to the rug to highlight the progress and show off the pattern, but it is actually upside-down, as in the end the first three cast on stitches, and the sides being built up by each row will form the neck edge. This is either my last chance to stretch the work out on my 24-inch ebony circular, or the moment when I go and order a 36 inch... not sure yet, as the yarn is fine enough to go a long ways further before needing a longer cable.

Detail of the Bee Hive pattern stitch

I do hope to be able to get in lots of knitting in the coming year, as well as a bit more reading... waiting for me to finish are The Knitter's Gift, ed. by Bernadette Murphy, The Knitting Way, by Linda Skolnik and Janice McDaniels, Sweeping Changes, by Gary Thorp and Change of Heart: The Bodhisattva Peace Training of Chagdud Tulku, two Buddhist texts, and Will You Miss Me When I'm Gone?, The Carter Family & Their Legacy in American Music, by Mark Zwonitzer. I have become much the same sort of reader as I am a knitter, with several books going at one time. Each has its place in the scheme of things, just as different knitting projects do, but much the same way I have decided not to start reading any other books till I finish a few of these. The two zen books require slow reading, much thought and referring back, and I am finding The Knitting Way affects me in much the same way. Maybe I should take a break and read a mystery!

My parting shot - this chicken, which was my favorite Christmas gift, from youngest son, Jesse. It joins a similar, smaller version that was a gift from bestest friend Laura a few years back, and a very large wood, articulated folk chicken that Rex gave me last year.

Wishing you a new year of change, growth, and process in your knitting.


Blogger Carole said...

I remember my first Christmas without my mom, too. It was 1998 and I felt alone - despite having a husband and 4 kids. I know exactly what you mean about that. I'm not sure daughters ever really "get over" losing their moms but we do learn to adjust our lives and live with the loss.
You did a great job summing up 2005. I wish you a wonderful new year!

4:31 AM  
Blogger margene said...

You wrote a beautiful wrap up to 2005. I remember the sock machine (it might be about that time we found each other) and so many other events in your life this year. Here's to a great 2006.

5:43 AM  
Anonymous Peg said...

I read your end-of-year story with feelings of having been there in similar situations. It is always a great feeling when we come out the other side to know that we are made of great stuff! Your Mom would be proud. I have some of my Mom's jewellery and when I want her closer, I wear some of it! We never forget our Mom's, I guess.

9:59 AM  
Blogger KnitNana said...

Birdsong, the comparisons b/t us just don't stop - I lost my mom in the early winter of 1996, she was gravely ill on Christmas 1995. You never get over it, of that I am convinced. The loss returns over and over. I guess it's somewhat more dull now, but can be just as fresh, depending on the urgency of my need for her! :)
I bless our friendship, Birdsong! Thank goodness we discovered each other on opposite coasts - now take care in the heavy rains and flooding in your area?
Happy New Year!

3:26 PM  

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