These are my favorite figures from Mr Dearling's creche - the grandfather tenderly cradling the lamb and his granddaughter stands by, spinning with her drop spindle. OK, so I like arranging the figures. Oh, all right: I like playing with the dolls. I can spend a LONG TIME arranging them. Be quiet.
But the New Year has begun, and I'd have to say, it's off to a good start. So far, no worries. Now, let's just see if it can keep the pace.
As far as last year - I stood in the doorway waving: "Don't let the gate hit your arse on the way...." That's not to say that good things didn't happen; they did. As far as New Year's revolutions, I figure a couple spins around the house will do it.
WHAT? It's reSolutions??? Oh well, that's something different. I may address that subject at the end, but no promises. Instead, a Retrospective, which is to say "How I spent my 2009."
There was an Inauguration, unlike any other. I wrote a note to Willie again here, although I'm sure he knows. That's one for the History Books.
It was a year of twos: we went to two weddings; we welcomed two new babies into the world; we lost two very dear long-time friends. I got to see two fabulous world-famous knitters. I went to two exciting writers' events. My Second-Born Son married (wife #2) and I inherited two adorable new granddaughters.
We went to a lovely party to celebrate my sister's 50th wedding anniversary (!). It was a lot of fun, and I remember her wedding day....I'm the rebel, the beatnik, the hippie - but she and her husband did something just short of outrageous: when they changed after the wedding to head off for their honeymoon, they were not dressed in the expected style, which was a suit and tie and fedora for him, a smart travelling suit with hat and gloves for her. (Remember those days?) NO! Not for them -- they were wearing matching outfits: black Bermuda shorts and white shirts with black polka dots. There were gasps! It was sort of a nod to the fact that they were going to Bermuda. I thought it was DARLING, and I got a bit misty, my big sister an Old Married Woman. Remember up there where I said "rebel", "beatnik" "hippie"? For her wedding I wore a waltz-length pink gown and I had my hair done.
They had their wedding album at the anniversary party, and I'd have to say, for a short, rather bosom-y Jewish girl, I looked pretty good. I was her Maid of Honor. There were other "unconventionalities" -- her gown was palest pink and had a little jacket; underneath it was a strapless top. NOTE: my mother, a master seamstress, made the beautiful gown! And the top layer on their wedding cake? The one you save in the freezer for the first annniversary? It was chocolate cake. Yes, my wonderful traditional sister had a little wild streak.
'Nother NOTE: she's led a lovely, wonderful and somewhat traditional life, and I've been proud of her all along. She inherited - and USED - some gifts from our mother. She decorates her homes with a real gift; she entertains beautifully, and my nieces and nephew are terrific people. They've always had beautiful homes and the opportunity to travel all over the world - and I remember something she said to me once when I went to visit for a couple of days. She looked around at her elegant surroundings, and said, "Every morning when I wake up I feel like I've won the lottery!" Well no, Sister, you didn't -- your life is the result of your skill and eye. And I'm absolutely tickled!
One more NOTE: she truly met her soulmate at the University of Michigan; she and her husband are about the most compatible people I've ever seen, still romantical after fifty years, and although we haven't spent much of our lives "together", I know the truth of that because all of their friends at the anniversary party, who have been with them about from the start, said the same thing. She's a shining example.
And a final NOTE: I'm fond of saying that the only thing we have in common is parents; even that's only partly true, because when she was born, our parents had been married a couple of years and had been children of the Depression; when I was born they'd been married longer, were more established, and we were a Wartime family. I truly went a very different path from my sister's, and that's why we weren't close so much "in between".
But believe me when I say that today I find myself equal to her in so many ways. Affluent? Well, I have to admit, when I look around at my cozy little nest, packed full of books and yarn and cats and stuff ("decor"? not so much) I feel a tad sorry for Donald Trump - he couldn't even hire anyone to make him as comfy a home. Well-married? It took me three times, but I finally do have it absolutely right. And children? Well....I have to say, you'd have to go some to find anyone as proud as I am. Mine are -- well, they're MINE. Each is an individual, and each has given me every experience a human being can have....and today I see in them solid, clear-thinking people with good values and fascinating minds; they're kind and loving and solid, and they make the best of whatever situtation surrounds them.
So I guess now, more than ever before, my parents' children are more alike than ever before and I'd like to think they'd be proud of us equally. (Although I'm sure Mom would stand in my living room, look around, and with arms akimbo say, "I don't know, Dale Harriet*, if you don't learn to clean your room you'll never get a husband.") She said that a lot, bless her heart.
*I added the hyphen, "Dale-Harriet" to make it obvious that I'm a female girlie-type person. Mostly it doesn't work, but it's proven an advantage in a lot of other ways.
Among my accomplishments of last year: I developed a first-person character to do programs for the Museum: Mary Hayes Chynoweth was an exciting spiritualist and psychic healer in the late 19th century, and the Museum had a stunning 1895 walking suit and hat made for my portrayal. I'd have to say, (and it's still very much a work-in-progress) I love standing up before a group of people and "being" Mrs Hayes Chynoweth. I hope I do her justice.
I also wrote a 50,000 word novel, Daughter of Lotus, Daughter of Wheat. You'll see that I said "wrote" and not "finished". I haven't finished it yet - but I DID pass the 50k-word count necessary to win the NaNoWriMo challenge. It's about.....well, it's about 53,000 words. I wouldn't look for it on your bookstore shelves any time soon, although I am going to finish it -- and edit it in the bargain. No one will be surprised when I say I have NO trouble writing with a lot of words. I only hope that my skill with quantity might be at least equal to my skill with quality.
We again had the incredible pleasure of a few days at our friends' cabin in the Upper Peninsula, where - along with much reading and knitting, I actually put together some quilt squares (by hand) for a baby quilt for one of the aforementioned babies. My strip of squares looked quite nice and I had a great deal of satisfaction from sewing it. SO much, in fact, that it took some effort to set aside all thoughts of taking up piecework by hand. I'd love to do that, but I'm relegating hand quilting and spinning to my next life. I'm dilettante enough without expanding!
As an overview, not a bad year at all. But there were those two losses. My dear friend Sunawa (of blessed memory) was a wild hippie with me and we both found our ideal partners and became nice old ladies; her sudden death in May diminished my world considerably. She had been "family" in the truest sense of the world. And our friend Joe was a reenactor and "family" in another sense, as I'd been friends with members of his actual family long before I met him. Both of these dear souls were my age - that is to say, not that old, and only now, these months later, have I given over being angry that they were taken from me. I'll never not be sad, I'll never not wish they were with me, I'll probably never quit thinking "Oh MAN that was funny....I have to call Sunawa to tell her...." But oh ladies and gentlemen, both of these people enriched my life, and I love turning over in my mind moments we shared.
Then there's the whole money thing. As in: there ISN'T any. Oh, we're ok, being pretty much retired, (although Mr Dearling makes sure we always have plenty of canned cat food in case the day comes when we need to share with the girls) [snerk] but if the movie rights to my novel are picked up I'll make my children's lives easier.
And there have been treasured kitties who have crossed the Rainbow Bridge from families dear to me, and my grandkitty had a bit of a scare and my Evvie had that dental cleaning -- oh, I know, that's not much, but I still have far-reaching phobias about any kind o' dental thing. (I'll spare y'all the Dentures Have Given Me A New Lease on Life speech, but if you want it just e-mail me.)
In conclusion: The end of 2009 gave me a bit of a spiritual jolt; I've even dug out my old tarot cards and I feel like I've found an old friend. Because of that - and because it's just pretty much how I roll - I feel an optimism about this shiny new 2010. My observation...from the pinnacle of my Advancing Age...is that the country has awakened to a realization that you can have a lot of OUTRAGEOUS fun without spending any money at all! I think that bodes extraordinarily well for our country - and for the world, because that kind of knowledge is contagious.
So - my wish for 2010 is that it holds a return to values and delights and pleasures perhaps forgotten; that everyone relish their new-found wealth WITHOUT money; that such thinking spreads and can begin to effect every corner of our global village too.
And I hope that the anger and fear and hatred that is promulgating war diminishes in the face of this. Having a Marine in the family gives it a personal connection that I share with altogether too many other of my countrymen - I wish there were NO grandparents or parents, siblings or spouses or children, who had the little pool of sadness and fear beneath our glowing pride.
Now then. Where's my knitting?