Friday, November 19, 2004


Today tastes like . . . pineapples, limes, and unripe bananas, with a touch of cream and the texture of meringue.

It’s Friiiiiiiday, gracias a Dios, and in a very little while I will be out of
this office (spelled H-E-L-L) and off to be shamelessly pampered at the salon, meet with my knitting muse/head pusher Terpsichore, and pack for a trip to Mexico. Hence, this very very long post will have to keep you happy for a week. Decide now if you want to gobble it all down RIGHT NOW, and emerge with words smeared on your chin and behind your ears; or if you'll savor it a few paragraphs at a time.

But I don't want to hear it if you give yourself indigestion. You have been warned.

The Dowager Empress Odie-Bird shared a prose poem earlier this week, in which the narrator talks about rituals and holidays, and trying new things especially for holidays. Of playing with the traditional Thanksgiving recipies to make something uniquely your own, perfect and special.

And then ends the poem by suggesting making reservations.

So that’s First Consort Gareth and my Thanksgiving this year. We’ll be in Cabo San Lucas, eating the traditional Thanksgiving seafood enchiladas. I remember a Thanksgiving where I was in my early twenties and Brother Splunge was a teen, and the Dowager Empress and Papara decided that we were going to the horse races in Ruidoso for Thanksgiving. No turkey. No trimmings. No family save the absolute nuclear one.

Speaking of nuclear, Brother Splunge and I almost melted down. You would have thought that the winter holidays were celebrated in Rockwellian fashion, with Grampa tucking napkin after napkin into his shirt, Gramma putting the last touches on the homemade mince pie (no shortcuts from a jar for her, nosireebob), and row upon row of kids with fresh-scrubbed faces all waiting for their chance at the turkey.

But, well, none of us care much for turkey. It’s fine for a meal-- maybe two, if you count the heart attack on a plate that is tetrazinni. (How can something that is mostly a cheese and cream conveyance device NOT taste splendid?) But after the full-blown meal, and then a plate of tetrazzini, there’s still half a carcass left taking up real estate and slowly drying out.

But of course, it’s the fitting in that counts. For a while, after I had gradually realized that leftover turkey holds the same appeal as a slow root canal for me and the ‘rents; that the price of reporting that yes, we TOO had had turkey for Thanksgiving was a nasty repeat of turkey for a week; and concluded that fitting in that way just was not worth it, we were able to convince Brother Splunge that Cornish game hens were actually little turkeys. Yes. We lied to a trusting, naive child.

That worked for about three years. Then he was old enough to be cynical and read the labels for the “little turkeys;” talk to his classmates about how he got a whole turkey to himself for Thanksgiving; and deduce that we were feeding him a line along with dinner. So, back to a big brown bird that took three days to defrost, a day to cook, and one meal to get tired of.

So off to Ruidoso we went that year--and had a most excellent time learning to handicap the ponies.

Having discussed yoga in a previous post, it must be time to chat about mara, illusion. And taking up the theme, here's a couple of thoughts on the illusion of perfection.

When I started thinking aboout blogging, I had in my head an image of exactly what I wanted to show. I'd have progress posts every Monday to keep me honest, "window on my world" photos and essays on Wednesdays to keep me looking around and noticing what there was to notice in my world, and essays every Friday. Each little week in perfect order, three posts of opalescent wisdom and humor. Each one oh-so-very timely, with holiday posts in appropriate places, and amusing vignettes.

Thankfully, that crumbled before it could really get in my way.

Writing has always been a top-down experience for me. You start at the top of the page and work your way down. Maybe you have a basic outline in mind (boy finds girl, boy and girl fall in love,monster eats girl, boy seeks vengeance and is turned into a monster himself) but I never worked out of sequence, writing the easy parts first, or drafting the skeleton and building on it. Any time I started to listen to the shoulda's, the center could never hold, and mere anarchy was loosed upon the page.

I was reminded just today that while I've filled lists extolling the virtues of the TKGA's master program, I haven't said a word about it here. I replied that it had been a couple of years since I passed Level I, and I was slogging through Level II. One of the requirements is knitting an argyle sock in the flat, another is knitting a vest.

And I just realized why the program has stalled itself, and may require the push of a new year to get rolling again. I shoulda'd it to death.

I wrote out a list of all the requirements, with deadlines for each one--reasonable deadlines, mind. I've knit argyles flat before, so I know how long it takes, and I know how long it takes me to knit a vest--but I flubbered and the project died about five months in because I don't have colors that turn me on, and I haven't come up with a vest pattern I like. You aren't required to knit a pair of adult socks in fine-gauge yarn; nor are you required to design a vest yourself. But when I missed the first deadline because I was uninspired, I let the project drop because I SHOULD do the work in this particular order. Pffffftt.

I'll say it here, so I can hold myself accountable--one of the wild card projects for next year will be the Master's Program. (As mentioned before, I like to have five going so as to always have something appropriate to the situation. I plan to use Linus Project; Southwest Trading design; socks; and two wild cards as my categories in '05.) And I will work on whatever piece of the thing strikes my fancy--whether it's the swatches, the research, the vest or the socks. Maybe I'll make the argyle socks one of the sock projects.

Some of the women in the local guild are working on their Level I projects. The sad part is that we all started at the same time. It's not that they haven't finished the requirements--most of them have at least one set of swatches completed--but that they're afraid of sending in something that isn't perfect. So they'll re-knit, and re-do, criticizing their efforts and never ever actually putting them forth to be judged. It has to be perfect the first time.

And that's sad because the levels are set up as learning experiences. You do the tasks to the best of your ability at the time, then send them for evaluation. just like in school, the last learning experience most of us had.

Except that after the test is marked, you're handed back your work with information about how to fix the bits that weren't up to par. You didn't fail, this doesn't go on your permanent record--you clearly needed some information you didn't have. And now here's where to find it, so read, learn, and try again. You have nothing to lose but your lack of knowledge.

But no, the gals say they've learned enough knitting up the last batch so they don't feel good about sending off that sub-par bunch of string, and therefore they need to do it all over again so that it's PERFECT.

I can't imagine what they'll do when they actually get a batch off if errors are found. Will they give up? To have done so many four inch bits of knitting, over and over, to have wrestled to read the judges' minds and to have spent so much time only to have to do bits over AGAIN (wailing, tearing of hair, rending of garments) would be frustrating indeed. Especially because more might have been learned with less angst if they had only said--these aren't perfect, not in my eyes. But so what? I'll get feedback regarding what they think isn't right, and I'll re-do the swatches that don't pass muster. More importantly, I get to find out what I'm doing that is just right as it is.

And sometimes, that is indeed the most important part. See you in a week.

1 comment:

luvs2knit said...

I actually liked going throught the process of getting Level I done through TKGA. I realized that I was NOT a perfect knitter and that I needed to know how to improve my skill. Believe me, this has taught me sooo much about my knitting and the mistakes I makes while knitting. My knitting is far from perfect and the committee let me know that. I have done my resubmits and am eagerly awaiting my passing grade so I can do Level II.