The crooked path

Close up shot of an old typewriter keyboard.

Blogging. I'm out of practice. I'm also struggling with some sort of existential blogging crisis. Yesterday I was pondering deleting the blog's entire archive. I won't, because even the most toe curlingly embarrassing bits are part of how I got to where I am now, but where I am now appears not to be where I thought I was.

Taking stock seemed like a good idea, after the last few months when posts here have been almost as rare as hen's teeth, but it's actually turned out to be somewhat discombulating. Rather a lot of 'life' was happening while I was mostly elsewhere and I've found myself altered by that and out of kilter with the blogging me, a little lost and looking for a way back, or a way forward.

It doesn't help that I'm also world weary enough lately to be disinclined to do anything much beyond knit a bit and read. There's been a surfeit of reading, just don't mention the house work. Most recently I've been dipping into Herminia Ibarra's Working Identity, a book about managing life changes* and the psychological process of transition.
We don't find [our way] in a blinding flash of insight ... it takes a while to move from old to new ... each new experience is part answer part question ... [avoid] shortcuts ... accept the crooked path ... live the contradictions.
How am I only just reading this, it was written in 2003?!

Reading, reading all the time - becoming book-drunken, to borrow from Susan Sontag - was the norm for me, and then life got in the way and it wasn't. I'd read and read and read, and then I'd write, and then I'd read some more because reading is what makes a writer. And I miss it, the book-drunkeness. So, in the spirit of living those contradictions, I'm reneging on my 'no goals in 2016' anti-goal and I'm planning to get tipsy on words every day. And now I've written that I don't feel lost or out of kilter at all.

Have you embraced any contradictions lately? Have you read any good books?

* Specifically career change, but I've found it invaluable while considering more general changes.


The Colour Collaborative: Warm

You guys! Thank you, thank you, for all your sweet comments and kind emails in response to Carrying Fire. And thank you for sticking with me during these months of intermittent posting. I've lost January to arranging care packages for the Aged Ps that should mean I gain February, March, April, May ... fingers crossed, eh?

And while I've been occupied elsewhere the Colour Collaborative's rolled around again. The colour of warm. Is there such a thing? Definitively, I'm guessing not. But I'm going with winter white, a purely associative choice (either that or I was an arctic hare in a previous incarnation). It's the white of the pillows and duvet I reluctantly forsake at the start of each day. It's the white of the froth on my morning coffee, and of the coffee cup cradled in my hands. And it's the white of the undyed wool I just bought to knit myself a cosy cowl - no pictures yet, the yarn's still in the post.

Naturally white wool always looks warm to me, although in truth some yarns will be warmer than others, regardless of colour. Breed characteristics aside, how a yarn is spun is the key. Woollen spun yarns are carded to smooth the fibres but not combed to align them, in consequence they're loftier and therefore generally warmer, but they also break more easily. Worsted spun yarns are carded and combed, so they're stronger, but with less air trapped between the fibres they're not as insulating. Worsted spinning does preserve the fibre's lustre though, so undyed, worsted spun yarns can appear whiter than woollen spun equivalents. (If you're interested in reading more about the difference Sue Blacker explained it in detail during Wovember back in 2013.)

And now, if you'll excuse me, I think I hear the postman!

Don't forget to visit the other Colour Collaborative blogs for more of this month's posts, just click on the links below ...

CJ at Above the River

Sarah at Mitenska

Gillian at Tales from a Happy House

Jennifer at Thistlebear

What is The Colour Collaborative?
All creative bloggers make stuff, gather stuff, shape stuff, and share stuff. Mostly they work on their own, but what happens when a group of them work together? Is a creative collaboration greater than the sum of its parts? We think so and we hope you will too. We'll each be offering our own monthly take on a colour related theme, and hoping that in combination our ideas will encourage us, and perhaps you, to think about colour in new ways.


Carrying fire

2016. I have no big plans and very few intentions. A year of small joys will suffice.

But that's not to suggest a year without focus ... on my wellbeing primarily, but also on some of the bigger issues that underpin that, like living sustainably (both in terms of the earth's resources and my own), and living creatively.

I just deleted a long paragraph about trends in blogging, a paragraph that included words like 'homogenous' and 'aspirational'. I deleted it because there's clearly no right way to do this, just ways that don't work for me and ways that do. And if I'm out of step with the majority, well that's generally where I prefer to be ... doing the unexpected. Life's stumbling blocks aside, I lost my way here during 2015, largely because I stopped writing the stories I wanted to tell and drifted instead into telling the stories I thought you might want to read.

I am a storyteller. We all are*. In the past I've been paid to write about other people (not here, in print, and I expect to be again), but the story I'm best qualified to tell, in words and in pictures, is my own**. And sharing our stories - far from being self-regarding, as we're too often told - is akin to mapping the wilderness for one another ... here be dragons, here be sirens, here be sanctuary, this way to resilience, this way to optimism, this way to delight. Without stories we are, quite literally, lost.

We navigate by our stories and are steered by them. They counsel us, caution us, can break yet also make us. They hearten us, humble us, heal us. They are in our blood, our bones and our beliefs. They are the fires we light against the dark.

2016. No big plans, few intentions, and one guiding word for the year ahead ... story.

You have to carry the fire.
I don't know how to.
Yes, you do.
Is it real? The fire?
Yes it is.
Where is it? I don't know where it is.
Yes you do. It's inside you. It always was there. I can see it.

Cormac McCarthy, The Road

A family's hearth fire was never allowed to go out. When children left to marry and raise families of their own, they took fire from their parents' hearth with them. It was both heirloom and talisman, nurtured and protected because each generation recognized it for what it was, living memory.

Ron Rash, author (slightly paraphrased)

We’re all made of stories. When they finally put us underground, the stories are what will go on.
Charles de Lint, author

* If you follow the link you might want to fetch a hankie first, to blub into if needed. Good tears, if they come, I promise.

** Even when I write biography the story I tell is less the biographee's story and more my story about him or her.

P.S. If you're thinking, 'Wow', it stopped raining in North Wales for long enough for them to light a bonfire on the beach', you'd be wrong. That's an old archive photo up top, and it's still raining.

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