A 5K

The snow had melted, the sun shone, and there was no wind . . . . even the 36° at race start seemed perfect. The Kid, too embarrassed to be seen with us, sprinted away immediately. We didn’t see her again until 30 minutes later.

I thought about the basic “neuro” exam all doctors are supposed to do on all patients – the rudimentary maneuvers that a neurology attending once told me were perhaps next to useless, because really, only a neurologist knew what tests to perform and why. I whined about various aches and pains (real and imagined), complained about blisters and calluses and bunions, and wondered why so many people seemed so enamored of such an inefficient way of locomotion . . . . I stared enviously at a young man springing by; his heels never touched the ground, and he was soon out of sight. I pound along, with no spring, and definitely no style, but look! — I am upright, and I can run.  My brain worked.

The Kid was waiting for us at the finish, and we crossed the line with silly delight, hand in hand.

“Did you notice we finished before the guy with the baby jogger and the kid on his back?”

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Grace and Ease

“Now don’t you go exerting yourself,” my mother yelled as I headed out the door, “you’re not used to running!” Southern California: it’s warm, it’s flat, and . . . . it’s at sea level! My mother didn’t have a clue.

Four and a half years ago, we fell off the couch and landed here:

Hickman Health  (Walter's gym)
Hickman Health (aka Walter's gym)

How narcissistic to have a “personal trainer” – but it has been one of the best decisions we have ever made, because something else happened:

running shoes
running shoes
Santa Fe Century
The Husband's Santa Fe Century

And now we get to do things like play with these:

Gym Toys
Gym Toys
Kettlebell
Kettlebell

It’s all about living with grace and ease . . . .

Connections

A Lovely Wrap
A Lovely Wrap

A thing of the moment: I knitted a wrap. I love the idea of wraps, but the reality had always eluded me, for they seemed more statement than practicality. They are for the movies, for fashionistas, for the opulently eccentric. But I am a short, middle-aged suburbanite, and I had my mundane worries. About shawl pins ruining the yarn, edges getting caught, extravagant folds sliding into limp messiness . . . .

Then a tiny revelation. That heavy, bulky, hand-dyed, wool-silk-mohair blend yarn I bought on impulse five years ago because it was on sale and I loved the colors (dark green, purple, lavender) – that was the perfect yarn for a perfect impracticality. It was all wrong – bulky and heavy and variegated and hairy – and for five years, it defied all my attempts to work with it. Then a week ago, a brainstorm! A simple rectangle in open mesh, knitted on the fattest needles I own.  It now rests serenely across the back of my office chair. It is in fact quite beautiful, and in the morning sun, the silk fibers gleam with secret glamour.

So I decided to knit another wrap. I had yet another “orphan” yarn, this time a thick-and-thin cotton with flakes like blisters strung on a string – but there was a real possibility that I could go blind from endless miles of garter stitch. Enter The On-Line Encyclopedia of Integer Sequences, a compendium of – yup! – integer sequences. I am charmed by the geekiness of this website. Everyone has heard of the Fibonacci sequence, but how many people know about this one: 0, 1, 2, 3, 9, 11, 1, 7, 15, 19 . . . . ? It was submitted by Floor van Lamoen, and while I have no idea what “real world” applications it has, I know it to be a cool sequence for growing my wrap.

Today I sit in a coffee shop, typing on a laptop from a Japanese company, drinking coffee grown in Costa Rica and roasted in Denver, knitting with yarn from Egypt and spun in Norway, on needles made in England, using a sequence devised by a Dutch mathematician. A sequence, connections, buoys on a string.

The Swatch

12 March, 2009

Twenty-five years on, I have yet to knit a swatch. I will admit, however, that there were times when I was a neophyte that doing so would have saved a lot of grief. But, there it is and here I am, still swatch-less and unrepentant.

I learned to knit from my mom-in-law, a lovely woman who could run up anything on a sewing machine, but who also picked up a smattering of various crafting skills along the way. So one day, she cast on 30 stitches for me on a set of sticky, size 8 aluminum needles, showed me how to do the knit stitch, and I was on my way. There was absolutely no reason why I should NOT have quit right then and there – the scratchy, acrylic yarn was from the 1970s, and the colors were truly atrocious — it hurt just to look at!  But I kept going and eventually produced a classic, beginner’s scarf, seven feet long and entirely in garter stitch. My husband, bless his heart, claimed he loved it.

It was the last time I used garter stitch for anything other than borders, and until a year ago it was also the last time I knitted a scarf. I figured I knew how to read, and if I could read and follow printed directions, I could knit sweaters. And it has been an adventure ever since, especially since I have managed to ignore every single dire warning about gauge swatches. In fact, these days I don’t think I even actually see those cautionary notes about the “essential-ness” of said swatches.

I suspect I have a permanent blind spot about those warnings because I think of knitting as a journey. I love picking out the yarn, feeling the fibre wrapped around my fingers, working the individual loops into a fabric, and seeing the fabric miraculously become a garment. The end products were never that important to me: most of them become stash and will have second, third, even fourth or fifth lives as “new” sweaters. Mom would be proud. Besides, she never said anything about swatching.

Museum Hill, Santa Fe

Museum Hill, Santa Fe

The SUV turned into the half-empty parking lot, crept past the white Subaru, and then reversed two spaces before settling into the first stall next to the driveway. We sat in the sunlight and watched its maneuverings.

“What’s wrong with the other parking space?”

“Not close enough to the museum.”

They climbed out of the car, two retired couples on holiday. The shorter of the two men wore a baseball cap and bright white sneakers. They paused on the steps leading up to the plaza, eyes flitting over the stark landscape. In the quiet spring afternoon, their voices carried across the parking lot.

“So what’s up here?” White Sneakers asked.

“Archeology and anthropology museums,” one of the women answered, studying the direction signs.

“What’s archeology?”

“Something to do with digging up stuff, I think.”

“What’s anthropology then?” White Sneakers began to laugh.

No reply this time, but the same woman who had answered him before gestured vaguely at one of the buildings.

“Well, whatever it is, I guess we’ll have to go look at it.”

They slowly walked away.

“Indian things … we’re here anyway,” White Sneaker’s voice drifted back to us on a breeze. He was still laughing.