Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Weaving, Writing, Wreading--Wrestling With Wresolutions

A friend recently posted a joke on Facebook.  "I'm opening a gym called Resolutions.  On January 15th, it will become a bar."  Yep, that's about how long most New Year's Resolutions last.  I stopped making them years ago, because, after all, what's the point?  Instead, each year on my birthday, I'd stop, reflect on the year just past, and try to figure out where I wanted to be one year hence.  This past year, that did not happen.  My sixty-fifth birthday came and went, almost completely unnoticed.  Oh I got a few cards, and some presents, but for the most part the day was all but meaningless.  And maybe that's good too.  However, it did find me in late December wondering about 2015. 

View from the back patio
January 13th, 2015

It's now the thirteenth of January, two days before the dreaded mid month "I'm just giving up" day.  I'm not giving up, but I do have concerns.  First, I hope this post doesn't end up being a thousand words of complaint.  Nor do I mean to whine.  No one likes to be around either a whiner or a complainer.  Secondly, I wonder if I'm maybe being too hard on myself.  I'm retired.  I like to say that being retired means that you answer to no one for your time.  That's not quite true.  I still have to answer to myself.  So, what have I decided to do with 2015 and how's it going so far?  I thought you'd never ask.

If you know me at all, you know that I'm a reader.  I love reading, and have for as far back as I can remember.  As a child I preferred sitting in an armchair with a book to being outside trying (and failing) to catch a ball thrown at me.  Mind you, I love being outdoors--with a book.  I pushed my way through a bachelor's degree with a double major in three years.  Two years after receiving my BA, I had an MA attached to my name.  Toward the end of my undergraduate career, I filled out an application form for the Peace Corps.  At that time, you had to list your educational credits by field.  I found that I had 10 credits of English, 10 credits of History, 10 credits of Geography, 16 credits of Natural Science, and 150 credits of Language and Literature.  I had fulfilled my "Breadth Requirements" as they were called at U.C. Berkeley, but in retrospect, it sure doesn't look very broad to me.  As I approached the PhD, I came to realize that I had spent all this time studying because I loved to read.  I also came to realize that a love of reading and the way French Departments in the United States expected their students to study literature were actually antithetical endeavors.  I went ahead and finished the PhD, earning it in 1986, fourteen years after getting my M.A., but I never pursued becoming a professor of French Literature.  I just curled up in my chair and continued to read.  I said that the one salable skill I got out of Grad School was the ability to type, in two languages.

North Wall of Library
January 13th, 2015

When we moved out of Missoula, one of the things I looked for in every home we considered, was space for a library.  The home we bought had a blind room (no windows) measuring approximately 12 feet by 20 feet.  Perfect for a library.  After we moved, a friend introduced me to Librarything.com, and I began cataloging my collection.  To date, I have added 3,573 volumes to my personal library on that site, and I still have boxes of books to unpack.  There are currently five walls (in two rooms) in the new house that look like the picture above, and I have plans to add more shelving units in other rooms.  After all, as Montana Murphy Beds likes to remind us, the guest room is used on average two weeks out of the year.  As for any resolutions on reading, I decided to take the Librarything challenge to read 75 books in 2015.   With 365 days in the year, that means (see, I do know division, and more to the point how to use a calculator), one book every 4.86666 days.  As today is the 13th, I should have finished two and a half books by last night.  This morning, I finished book number six, although number five was barely more than a novella.  This afternoon, I'll start book number seven, rereading Joanne Harris's Five Quarters of the Orange.  Hey--it didn't say that we had to read 75 NEW books.

"Dog on the Loom"
January 13th, 2015

As for weaving, I've been doing that almost as long as I've been reading.  I have no idea why, but my parents bought me a square metal potholder loom sometime in my childhood.  I still have it today.  Shortly after moving to Missoula in 1975, I took an adult education class taught by Suzy Hampton on weaving.  That led me to Joseph's Coat in its early incarnation above Mammyth Bakery and the purchase of a beautiful maple LeClerc loom with eight harnesses and a 48" weaving width.  Over the years I've added several looms, and another advantage to the new house is a second blind room, almost the same size as the library, that I've set up as a weaving studio.  This should inspire me to get to work.  The sad fact is that it is all too easy to close the door and ignore that room.  In all of 2014 I spent 45 minutes at the loom.  When you have a project that just isn't working, and is tying up your loom, it's called a "dog on the loom."  Personally, I feel that this is a slur against dogs, and I can't blame the project on the big loom.  Yes, the project on loom #2 is a dog.  I dressed the loom with a nubbly yarn intending to make placemats, but once the yarn was ready to wind on the warp beam (and no, I'm not going to explain weaving terminology here), I found that the yarn was too heavy to go through the dents (openings) in the reed (spacer) and I couldn't wind it.  I found a suitable substitute yarn and planned to just tie on to the existing warp and then pull it back out the way I had originally put it on the loom.  Alas, that was before we moved, and the kids who packed up the house put my substitute yarn somewhere I have not yet found it.  So for two years, the loom has been sitting there looking like a mess as you can see in the photo above.  Loom #3 has a project on it that has languished even longer.  This is the loom I kept at the cabin, and when we sold the cabin, the loom ended up in a storage unit.  I've now lost the yarn I was using, and haven't yet got around to replacing it.  In 2015, I would like to weave at least a project a month, but if I'm going to do that, I need to get busy at it, don't I.

Writing.  Oh, writing.  I do like to write, and at least sometimes feel I have something to say.  As my regular readers know, back in the 1980s I had the great idea (I thought) of documenting Montana's 56 County Court Houses in a coffee table photo book.  With the advent of digital photography, that dream is getting close to becoming a reality, but with a slight twist.  Instead of just showing the court house building, I've expanded the scope so that each county is now represented by five photographs and a one-thousand word essay.  I've visited every county in the state at least three times, and have all the photographs I need (not to say that I have all the ones I want), and am putting it all together.  To date I have self-published two coffee table books, each showing fourteen counties, and have just finished writing about county 42, Carter County, which means that volume three is ready for editing prior to publishing.  These books cost me roughly $150 just to get one copy printed, so I don't expect people to run right out and buy my timeless prose.  That's why I've been putting the whole project on line as a second blog site.  I do plan on making the books available as e-books, however, as that will be an affordable option.  Whether anyone buys one or not is moot.  I'll have done my part.  Which brings me to my goals for 2015.  I will finish Glory of the West and have all four volumes in print and available as e-books.  I will also take this blog more seriously than I have in the past.  To those ends, I will write up one county a week, which means that I have fourteen weeks to go to get the blog finished.  April 18th is the target date to write up county #56, Lincoln County, finishing off the project's first phase.  Second phase is getting it published, one way or another, and I don't have a time frame for that.  But before 2015 is over, I will have the e-books available and will have four volumes in print in my own hands.  As for this blog, I started writing on December 29, 2006, and wrote three posts before the end of the year.  2007 was my most prolific year to date, with 62 posts written, over one a week.  Since then, it's been pretty sporadic.  In 2015 I intend to publish a post every Tuesday and every Friday.  Let's hope I find something worth saying.  If I miss a day, there will be a good reason, as last week when I published my blog Momma on her birthday, Saturday, instead of on Friday.  Feel free to hold me to my intention--if you've read this far.

Angel of Music Inspire Me to Play
January 13th, 2015

What remains?  Photography.  Music.  Travel.  Car Collection. Baking.  Housecleaning.  And most important, spending time with Kevin and the Kids.  Minnie is not doing well.  I doubt she'll make it through the year.  But I've said that every year for the past three years, so who knows.  I would like to improve my photography and Photoshop skills, and planned on posting one new photograph every day of the year, but I missed three days already.  It's grey and lifeless outside, and frankly, I'm tired of photographing turkeys and deer.  I love making music, but the organ bench is dusty, the piano is shut up with the looms, and my guitars, ukulele and dulcimer haven't been outside their cases in I don't know how long.  Travel?  Who knows.  It's hard to be away from home when you have five kids that can't travel with you and no one to leave behind to look after them.  Still I have hopes for some trips further afield than Missoula or Spokane.  And my car collection?  Will this be the year I start putting the Triumph Spitfire back together?  I'd settle for getting the brakes done on the Frazer.  I love my cars, but it seems a shame for them to just sit, reminding me every day about how I am mistreating them by ignoring them.  I am doing some baking.  Since Kevin gave up his bread route, I bake every loaf of bread that we eat.  And frankly, I hate cleaning the house.  I love having a clean house, but with everything else taking a higher priority, it just isn't going to happen if it depends on me.  Any volunteers?

1957 Studebaker Golden Hawk
One of my dream cars
January 13th, 2015

I hope your 2015 is going well and that you are enjoying family, friends, good health and fine food.  In the end, that's all that really matters, isn't it.  Blessings on you all.

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