Thursday, August 16, 2007

Bad hot...wonder

It's bad hot all break in sight from our heat wave:
Tennessee and Kentucky
No use even dreaming of Crete..

but the forecast near Lake Michigan is 30 degrees Fahrenheit cooler than here. 70, not 105. We're leaving tomorrow. I feel bad leaving the dogs and the dog sitter at home!

I read and work on design swatches during the long hours inside. My desk is littered with them; when I can't breathe, can't sleep I dream up new patterns and brainstorm article ideas and work on stuff for the book. In the morning, if I've slept well, poof! most of them are gone and I begin again. It's stimulating and exciting, but sad too--so many good ideas never sell and end up dispersed like dead animals cast away by the side of the highway. I've been thinking about the drought a lot. Everything is dying...leaves falling off trees early, and the dead grass crunches underfoot.

Luckily the life of the mind is alive and well. A friend in Tennessee called. I asked her about rain and she said, "Rain? It's a fairy story someone made up once. Don't be ridiculous." She's reading books about the arctic and snow to keep her spirits up. Then her dog barked. She had to go.--The water truck drove up. On a farm with as many animals (and thirst) as she has, everything stops for the water truck.

Another conversation sticks in my mind, too. We saw a student we know at the farmer's market. She used to wait tables at a great sushi place in town; she's just graduated and is now on to graduate research. Like many university folk, she sees my smile as an invitation to natter on about science until she's got a question. I refer her to the professor. He's the scientist, I say. I am a writer. Her look is at once blank, surprised and disgusted, as if I purposely wasted her time. She's usually a sweet smiling person. I don't take it the wrong way. It happens often. The professor points out too that scientists are not known for their social skills!

I'm taking my inspiration from the book I'm reading, The Time Traveler's Wife. I remember the surprised expressions of the scientists who see my cluttered office. Here's a part of the book, a quote that took me into thinking about identity through a beautiful piece of writing. I think everyone assumes others and their experiences are "just like them" until they are forced by circumstances to reshape their understanding of the people around them. I don't flatter myself, I'm not this level of "artiste" referred to in the book, but I wonder if this is what the scientists sometimes see in me. Change Clare's sculptures and wire to yarn, wool and needles? This passage shows both that recognition of difference, the wonder and surprise.

"The hardest lesson is Clare's solitude. Sometimes I come home and Clare seems kind of irritated; I've interrupted some train of thought, broken into the dreamy silence of her day. Sometimes I see an expression on Clare's face that is like a closed door. She has gone inside the room of her mind and is sitting there knitting or something. I've discovered that Clare likes to be alone. But when I return from time traveling she is always relieved to see me.

When the woman you live with is an artist, every day is a surprise. Clare has turned the second bedroom into a wonder cabinet, full of small sculptures and drawings pinned up on every inch of wall space. There are coils of wire and rolls of paper tucked into shelves and drawers. The sculptures remind me of kites, or model airplanes. I say this to Clare one evening..The next day I come home to find that Clare has created a flock of paper and wire birds, which are hanging from the ceiling of the living room." (The Time Traveler's Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger p.275-276.)


Blogger Peggy said...

Sounds like a really cool book. Sometimes I feel like Clare. I'm home alone and enjoying knittng, spinning, blogging and blog reading, etc. Then the fam comes home and pulls me out of my happy little world. Not that I don't love them, but at times it does feel rather abrupt. :)

August 16, 2007 at 1:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, I read your article today - well done :-)

Hope it cools down for you soon. It's raining again here (sigh)

I loved TTTW too :-)

August 16, 2007 at 4:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Enjoy the Michigan Fiber Fest and the wonderfully cooler northern climate. The MFF is one of my favorite fiber festivals, but due to moving my daughter into the dorm at Murray State this weekend, I'm heading south to the heat.

August 16, 2007 at 8:21 PM  
Blogger SueJ said...

Enjoy the northlands! Its cool (60 ish), sunny and windy here but at least its green! Just spent a happy (!) 5 minutes checking the polytunnel plants for slugs and snails! They wouldn't like the drought!

August 17, 2007 at 4:36 AM  
Blogger sarah said...

I remember so clearly the point, early in our marriage, when I realised just how different he and I were. Are still. It's part of what makes life interesting, that window into someone else's worldview. I am endlessly intrigued/horrified by the myriad ways in which people arrange their computer desktops, too.

I'm free! I hope. They're on the way to the airport, and I'm taking a break from a whirlwind reclamation of OUR house.

August 17, 2007 at 5:46 AM  

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