snow

Tim opened at Transcend Saturday morning, and I arrived there soon after him. It had snowed for the first time during the night. I had a bath as soon as I got up, put chocolate-coconut rice pudding and applesauce into small mason jars, got dressed, put on my fur hat and put my handwarmers in to my mitts and walked.

I feel my attention span is getting better. Two triumphs yesterday: the whole morning at Transcend spent on "Thirteen Houses", and part of the evening spent quietly and calmly sanding down the white cube - a task I'd been dreading. Similar projects have not gone well in the past. I've lost patience and walked away from an incomplete job. Actually, last night was one of the most pleasant I can remember. We had garlic-cheddar-tomato toast and chickpea-leek soup for supper. I sanded the cube, then we watched the Star Trek movie. I knitted on my sweater, and Tim carved me a (wooden) "bone" folder. It's beautiful - almost weightless, smooth and silky.



But, as I was saying, my focus continues to improve. It shows up in my conversations with Tim*, and in the demonstrable fact that many or most of my current projects are not ones to deliver instant gratification, and instead must be spread out over weeks or months. And yet I plug on.

* Notes from such a conversation:

Explore the connexion between self-consciousness, the self-preservation instinct/desire, duration of life, analogous duration of personal meaning/reasons: could a engineered, non-evolved self-conscious being be truly apathetic toward its own survival, or would self-consciousness tend to/inevitably result in the will-to-live?

bonfire night



Remember, remember the fifth of November,
The gunpowder, treason, and plot.
I can think of no reason why the gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot.



We had a Guy Fawkes winter picnic last night. As soon as Tim got home from work, we packed up candles and matches, one tin can, two mandarin oranges, three pumpkin muffins, a thermos full of hot chocolate, and a blanket, and plunged down into the river valley.



It was cold. It was so cold, Tim told me, he thought it would be best to give me one of my Christmas presents right then. It was a good time to talk about thermodynamic phase changes, so we did, sitting on a log at the bottom of a little ravine until it got even colder, and then walking up a hill in the river valley proper to settle right at the feet of downtown.



Sometimes I am proud to live in this cold place, proud of my insider knowledge, my whipped blood, my red hands, my candles for dark nights, my chemical handwarmers, electric cupwarmer, fur hat, stoic husband.
(An aside: Is Tim not incredibly handsome?)



The fire was unruly - dry grass feeding on candle wax. The hot chocolate was sweet. Our hands and feet ached. For the first time all year, we felt the temperature dropping by the minute, and though I don't know why, it was exciting.



We hurried back home to start on a birthday cake for Tim's Mum and to make risotto.

journal excerpt: October 30 (pumpkins and personal information)



Two things, both cause for hope and evidence of growth:

First, on Tuesday, unexpectedly, I realized I had started menstruating again. It's been almost exactly a year since I stopped taking the pill, and it's good to know that my body is no longer afraid for its life. It's finally saying that it's healthy, strong enough to carry a fetus, to spare a little blood every month. I actually feel as though I have received a grateful, congratulatory message. And I am, perhaps stupidly, proud of my little ovaries and uterus for rallying like this.

Second, yesterday evening, after supper, after we'd watched Troy and Laura had gone home, Tim and I sat on the kitchen floor and carved our pumpkins.



Mine started out as a LOTR elf, and ended up as a Hindu goddess. Tim made a face on either side of his - a goomba, and a slit-nosed, mawing leer. For almost exactly a year, any event we have tried to make festive or special has dissolved into a fight, and been followed by sickening resentment and disappointment. But somehow last night was cozy and fun.

We admired each other's progress, though we felt slightly competitive. We sat in companionable silence. We shoveled off the floor together. We extinguished every light in the house to admire the jacks once they were lit. Simple happiness, our sense of conspiracy - I've missed that desperately. It's been too long.

After a year of bare MDF,

our book cubes are finally coming to completion. The Mayan blue one is actually complete, while the white one is just primed. I thought I'd show you anyway, since it will only be white paint going over the white primer.



Tim and I started these just before Christmas 2009. During the summer of 2008, I had drawn up in my journal (alongside notes for a unit on optics, math problems, and sketches of plants) some conceptual plans for free-standing book cupboards. I had finally, shyly showed them to Tim (he insisted), and it was quickly decided that, for a Christmas present, he would help me to tweak the design and make the plans concrete. It turned out that tweaking the design was quite, quite important (in the interest of the units not collapsing, Tim suggested we add a middle wall); nevertheless, the cubes look very much as I imagined them.




It was a long process. I had never done any woodworking to speak of, had never measured wood or particle board, had never taken kerf into account, had never tried to build something with anyone else. Nearly every time we went down to the basement to work on them, I panicked, become spiteful and defensive, assumed that Tim was condescending to me or was impatient with my lack of competence. It took months to finish two (we still have a third in progress), and then another year before I asked for help again, this time in finishing the edges so that I could sand and paint.

Now they are almost finished. In this joint project I seem to have more staying power than I do in my solo work. It astonishes me that Tim gives up on me less easily than I give up on myself. And his skill astonishes me.

(The realization of my ambitions with his help astonishes me.)

I leave tomorrow.

I don't know what to expect, and so I have nothing to say. Perhaps when I return.

Now, more than ever before, I feel that this, here, is my home. A real home, to grow in, not stifle in. Which is why I will leave before I come back. But I love to settle; I know what I want, and it does not trap me. It beckons me. I have just washed the windows and made granola and now I have to go.

I miss Tim already.

Thank you for hearing me

Thank you for hearing me
Thank you for hearing me
Thank you for hearing me
Thank you for hearing me

Thank you for loving me
Thank you for loving me
Thank you for loving me
Thank you for loving me

Thank you for seeing me
Thank you for seeing me
Thank you for seeing me
Thank you for seeing me

And for not leaving me
And for not leaving me
And for not leaving me
And for not leaving me

Thank you for staying with me
Thank you for staying with me
Thank you for staying with me
Thank you for staying with me

Thanks for not hurting me
Thanks for not hurting me
Thanks for not hurting me
Thanks for not hurting me

You are gentle with me
You are gentle with me
You are gentle with me
You are gentle with me

Thanks for silence with me
Thanks for silence with me
Thanks for silence with me
Thanks for silence with me

Thank you for holding me
And saying I could be
Thank you for saying "Baby"
Thank you for holding me

Thank you for helping me
Thank you for helping me
Thank you for helping me
Thank you, thank you for helping me

We make things

Just as I am beginning to finish poems again,



just as I have decided to knit my sweater,



just as we are in the middle of spackling the wooden cubes we built and designed last spring,



just as we are getting ready to prime and paint them Mayan blue and dove grey,



just as I am learning to make sourdough rye,



just as Tim has started a blog,



just as our leeks are establishing themselves in the flowerbeds,



just as I seem to have developed abs,



Tim comes home from his workshop in his parents' basement with a present for me. Appropriately, a sewing box. Made of pale stiff spruce and hard, purplish walnut, with a Japanese lid that slides to seal itself, and American dove-tailed corners. Clunky and graceful at once.

It delights me.

We had been watching each other slow to a stop. It is the first thing in a long time unmistakably stamped with all the specifics of Tim's consideration, skill, and taste, and there is nothing unsure about it. We have no more fear of becoming stagnant these days. We are reading and writing. We are taking in and putting out. We are learning and producing. (This must be the way to become at home in the world, like building a fortress of cereal boxes to establish one's presence at the breakfast table.)