Spinning, Knitting, Crocheting, Organic Gardening, Living off-grid, and chasing sheep - because- I'm, like, NOT SANE!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

How We Became - FArtists.......

spring?  Ba HUMBUG!Winter in Maine makes you sort of philosophical at times, like now. I know, it isn't winter anymore (see proof otherwise on the left - taken from my porch this afternoon) in the rest of civilization (maybe an exaggeration). Elsewhere, at least the crocuses are trying to poke through the muddy, squishy ground or has already turned into shorts and t-shirt weather. I suppose you could wear shorts and t-shirts here today but you would definitely stick out in a crowd...particularly if you are from Maine and do not frequent a tanning booth all winter in which case your complexion will have reached a pallor that will help you if you suddenly score a role in a play as a corpse or a vampire.

It's the 'lag' between birds singing (heard some this morning despite the weather)and flowers blooming which appears to be happening rampantly elsewhere, and our being in the midst of winter's grasp just faltering a bit. You can't dig into those outdoorsy spring 'to do' lists. Gardeners are tormented in this time because the urge to start seeds is nearly overwhelming all evidence indicating 'NOT YET you fool'. And, everyone is sick of being cold and stuck inside. You could get downright miserable and I guess we sometimes do but most of the time this seasonal shift finds us thinking ahead, hoping for a great summer, and kinda taking stock of what we're here for.

So, I was watching 'Nature' on PBS with the kids the other night (a weekly family ritual) and it was, this week, on primates. I know there are so many complicated, political, societal, and even some paranoid implications with the primates thing but I assure you that I am implying here that we are like ALL animals (leaving the feuding and fear for another place) because, well, we are animals. Doesn't it ever freak you out when we do something, or an animal does something that is so similar in thought/processing/behavior that you immediately notice its relevancy to your own life?

My sheep are people when they stand outside the garden fence on a hot summer day, shifting their weight from hip to hip and chewing their cud like its bubblegum with increasing 'attitude' while I'm pulling up perfectly good food (weeds) when they should be devouring them. I understand their pain, so I throw the weeds over the fence into a great big pile of snacks but while some nod, "thanks" and proceed to gobble and enjoy, others will stand looking scornful at me for 'ruining' it first. People are like that, too. Some are very content and grateful and some are rarely satisfied.

When my goldfish are serenely zipping around the tank until they spot me and start convulsively communicating that they are surely dying of hunger (which I can't stand to watch so I'm always giving them an extra pinch of food here and there which makes them the biggest goldfish we've seen - it's a sick relationship but I fail at shame more than I'd like to admit) I see the human mirror of that. You know, those days when your heart is heavy and you think you're keeping yourself held together until that dear friend that you can hide nothing from taps you on the shoulder and gives you that look that says, "hey, are you okay?" and you instantly melt into a puddle of a sobbing mess? There's no debating: humans and goldfish are very dramatic!

Anyway, back to the show. There were a few times when the human/animal idea were most disturbing. This meaning the time a group of 'members' of one ape family met and decided to oust another loner guy and subsequently hunted him down and attacked him. It was hard to watch. Made harder by the discussion I witnessed wherein things 1 and 2 tried to calm the obviously upset thing 3 by reminding him that while it does really suck, it sometimes happens. They sum up by saying that, unfortunate though it is, people can do that to each other, too. Ouch.

Then, there was this bit at the end where the 'wise guy' of the pack sat around mimicking other apes and generally irking them for the amusement of others. That was made even funnier when hubster and thing 1 were joking around to lighten the heavy atmosphere that can only result from a family game of Monopoly (a game which is sooo frustrating even if you're winning - especially if you're winning because then everybody hates you). She was the talker and he was the mimicker - we all laughed so hard and the tension of the game quickly dissipated.

tricksiesStill it was the idea of each ape (and chimps on this one, too) believing they had created some 'new wheel' that stung the most. The chimp father who believed he had 'the way' to break open a log and eat the termites, kept insisting his son watch him do it and learn it 'the way'. Of course, the son had already watched him do it a million times and had no intention of learning his father's 'way' but was searching for his own 'the way'. I know you knitters know what I'm talking about. It has happened to me too many times to count. A week or so ago, I cast on for some 'vardo' socks. Every time I cast on for socks, I am reminded that I once actually believed I'd created a perfect joining method. Instead of fighting the gap that sometimes happens between each dpn (which later I would learn has a name - it is called laddering) by tugging on the strings tightly, which doesn't work so well with the first join of the stitches in the round, I did something different. I cast on one extra stitch more than was called for and, when joining, slipped it onto the first needle and k2tog on the first stitch. It closes the hole perfectly. See the little cast on tail just hanging out there to mark the round for you, too? (and, ahem, I told you about the vampire pallor so quit laughing at my hands) Oh, I thought I was clever. I felt proud, then confident. I may have been so arrogant as to think myself 'original'. It was powerful. Then I realized, it was probably something that someone else had probably figured out a long time ago.

What's worse, I probably read it somewhere a hundred times and either didn't fully understand it or just never paid attention. Suddenly, I was having one of those 'show up naked to your 7th grade class' daymares in which I would proclaim amongst a room full of my favorite knitters that I'd found a great NEW technique. I'd clear my throat and explain speaking annoyingly slow and clear because- duh- I'm assuming I'm the only one who knows it. Then they'd look at me with that 'are you kidding?' stare. Only, some might take a dpn shooting laser from under their chair and shoot them at my rear as I run away. But I'm awake, now, and if this tidbit of sock knitting wisdom is, in fact, a jewel of someone else's - I'm okay with that. Just don't tell me -yet. Wait until spring has come for even us poor Vitamin D deficient folk of Northern New England.

vardo1To add insult to injury, I decided to fiddle around with a stitch pattern. I didn't consult an oracle or even a stitch dictionary - just played around until I had some triangle purls and inverted triangle knit sts going on. I felt excited to be driving without a license, so to speak. Unfortunately, it ended up looking like pig's entrails. vardo I'm not one to frog just on account of a mis-guided stitch pattern so I just went back to knitting stockinette and all was well. I might try again on the second sock because I am just loony enough to not be bothered, either, by wearing two matching socks with mis-matched stitches. You know, it's a 'fly your freak flag without shame' sort of thing.

So, we've been needing comedy....waxxing philosophical.....and spending more family time together. Thus the stage was set for us to enter spring thinking about who we are and what we do and what we want to do. Hubster says, 'what are we?'. A few teenage 'duh' responses float around, then some funny ones like, 'I think we're people, Dad.' and so on. Then, it is decided that we are, first and foremost, a family farm. We are farmers. Secondly, we are artists. Naturally, we are FArtists. Carry on.