Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Generous, kind & considerate

Being kind is not the same as being considerate. Neither is being generous. Kindness without consideration can be infuriating or embarrassing for the recipient. It may even be both. Our kindness and generosity may inspire us to unwanted, inappropriate, uneven or even humiliating gifts...

Generosity and kindness tempered by consideration may understand, for example, that while you want to buy your loved one a car, you A) may rob them of their sense of ownership from saving for and choosing the car, and B) may purchase a car that's not what they wanted or not 'fit for purpose' but which they will feel obliged to put up with to save your feelings.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Make and mend

Today I repaired two fitted sheets. The elastic had lost it's spring. I bought some new elastic, and sat down for aBout an hour at the machine. Hey presto, two sheets as good as new.
As we like 100% cotton, with a high thread count, this is a considerable saving.

Before you gain a false impression of my domestic economy, I also have a couple of items at the Magic Tailor for repair. One is a jacket of Mr OS that needs relining. Although I am technically capable of doing relining myself, I didn't choose to do so.

I'd rather make a jacket from scratch than reline one. Yet I don't think I'd make a sheet from scratch.

It comes down to a time/benefit ratio. The sheet repair was was simple, and quick and I was confident I'd do a good job. The jacket repair was slow and complex and I wasn't sure I'd get a professional quality finish.

I like the idea of make and mend, just as long as I don't have to do it all 'in house'. There is a place for outsourcing.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Slip sliding away

Another week has got away from me. Time's wing├ęd chariot is not so much hurrying near as hurrying away. My to-do list has gone critical.

A good habit is a terrible thing to break. A blog, which is unpaid work - however enjoyable - suffers when Real Life ™ intervenes.

During the day, while working on other things, I have many profound and beautiful thoughts I'd like to share with you. Before I can write them down I'm distracted by something (else).  The less I write, the less easy the thoughts are to capture and pin down.

I console myself with the old adage:  don't speak unless you can improve the silence.

And I promise I won't be reduced to telling you what I had for breakfast, merely to have something to post about.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Adapting to a changed environment

Today it was curtains for us.  Well, a blind and a curtain, actually. The unusually chilly late autumn required drastic action: our winter drapes are now installed. This extra insulation means it's consistently warm in our living room. (Previously it was only warm in front of the fire.)

In between showers, hail and thunderstorms, the sun has been bright. I've had to wear my sunglasses, and Mr O's transitions lenses keep turning black.

All of this prompted me to reflect on the various ways we adapt to our changing environment. And on the ways we fail to adapt, or refuse to adapt.

I'm a big believer in ear protection. I have noise-cancelling headphones for when I travel, I carry vinyl earplugs for noisy situations, and have just bought musicians' noise filters.  These are custom earplugs which only limit certain frequencies and sound-ranges. I can hear the person sitting with me at a cafe, for example, but not the chatter of the people across the room - or only as a muffled murmur.

A couple of people have expressed surprise at the lengths I have gone to to protect myself from noise. I asked one person what else I could do?  I can't live half-way up a mountain, and I refuse to give up my cafe lifestyle. I do try to visit my favourite caffeine pushers during their slow times, but this means my daily habit is a solitary experience. Other patrons aren't going to halt their animated conversations for me. Or their raucous laughter. Or their children's chatter / whining. The coffee machine will keep on grinding and swishing in the background.

The only part of my environment I have much control over is my own body. So I bought the earplugs for $170.00 and I bless them every day. Especially when I need to buy something at Chadstone Shopping Centre.

If only every environmental annoyance could be fixed so easily!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

What NOT to do on public transport

Watch and listen to a comedy sketch from YouTube on your iPhone. Loudly. Without headphones. Trust me, the rest of the carriage may not share your tastes.

Tweeze facial hairs and drop them onto the floor of the carriage.

If only I were joking.

Monday, May 9, 2011

When we expect the worst & don't get it

Have you ever noticed that when we have negative expectations of someone's beahiour and they turn out to be unfounded,it doesn't change our mood mor our attitude the way it should.

For example, if you expect to be stood up (possibly based on previous experience)the last minute appearance of your loved one doesn't assuage much. Human nature being what it is, we can even feel aggrieved. We've just worked up a head of steam and now we're wrong footed. Our brain chemistry works fast, but not in an instant. Since our nervous system is still in high gear, we look for something to justify our feelings. If we look hard enough, we can usually find something. Even if it's annoyance for the past behavior that led us to our negative expectations.

Humans, we're an odd lot when you get right down to it.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Situational love

I'm a little suspicious of some kinds of love. Especially love that isn't specific and individual.

I understand that many - most - motheres and fathers love their children. Most children love their pareents. Some of us continue to love partners who mistreat us, or who no longer love us. I wonder though, where that leaves parents who don't like or even respect the children they've raised to adulthood. Or children who don't like or respect the parents who raised them? Or the men and women who continue to love an abusive partner?

Such love seems to me to be somewhat allied to ego. We love the object of our affection because it is ours, because of his/her/it's relationship to us. "What can I do? She or he is my _______ (insert relationship here)". It's situational love, and it centers on us.

Sometimes we can't help loving, in spite of a lack of reciprocity, because we love, understand and even admire the individual we so helplessly love. Or even because of habit. But where it's situational without individual specificity, I don't trust it. As Billy Connelly says, it's of use to no bugger. It doesn't help the beloved, and I'm suspect it doesn't help us.

Love is not love that alters when it alteration finds, sure. But love is not love that fixes on structural relevance rather than on the human being caught inside that matrix.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Thoughts of a late night knitter*

* with apologies to Pam Ayers for re-using the title of her poem.

I like to knit but I'm not a gifted knitter. My only pretension to knitting talent lies in my persistence. I enjoy knitting and I'm willing to keep going with a project in spite of set-backs.

The set-backs can be significant: one sweater I've almost finished has been knitted up about 3 different times, if you count one complete re-knit (about to sew up when I realised it was the wrong size and the style wouldn't suit me). Also several times I've had to pull back several inches to correct mistakes. The (nearly) finished garment won't be perfect, but it won't have gratuitous and major errors that leave it holey or the wrong size. It will be a workable, wearable garment when done.

This reminds me - again, and if any reminder were needed - just how unnecessary talent is when we do any art or craft. Talent may be necessary if we crave fame and fortune from our skills. If our aims are more modest, and we can be satisfied with doing our art or craft, and improving as best we can, we can enjoy the journey. At least with knitting I never say, "I'd love to knit, but its a waste of time as I don't think I'd be any good." (A lot of would-be music learners tell me that.) Most of us don't believe we have to be particularly talented to produce a scarf, so we're not put off starting.

I persist with knitting not because I am bloody-minded, as a penitential exercise, but because I enjoy the process of knitting. I enjoy getting it when I get into a rhythm, I enjoy the magic of creating fabric and garments out of string and thin air. I even get a perverse pleasure from recognising a mistake, and pulling my work back to correct it. I enjoy getting better at knitting, even though progress is sometimes (often) slow.

I also enjoy it more when I recognise my limits - my current limits - so I stick with new projects that only contain one new technique, rather than diving straight into something so complex I am guaranteed frustration and failure.

Many beginner or intermediate musicians aren't pleased with the simple songs they play well - the equivalent of scarves or hats knitted well in attractive and appealing colours - they insist on tackling Debussy or Beethoven. Which, if your skill level isn't up to it yet, is like a complex lace knitting pattern in an unusual yarn on non-standard sized needles. You may more-or-less complete the project. It may reflect a high degree of technical mastery, but by the end maybe no-one wants to wear the rather odd-looking garment. Very disheartening after all the valuable work that has gone into it.