Month: September 2014

Making autumn

Handknit pumpkinsIt’s hard to complain about Guam’s failure to be fall-like when the sunsets over the ocean are so colorfully surreal, even on the rainiest days.

This evening as the sun was setting, it was windy and relatively cool. The rain had let up, and those moisture-laden clouds created a breathtaking sunset. And I almost forgot to wish there were changing leaves.

Almost. Not completely. In the last week, I’ve been doing my best to engineer a personal autumn while still loving these balmy, thundery, rainy Guam days.

I’m knitting and crocheting pumpkins.

I’m sewing things with autumn-colored fabric (and remembering why I typically avoid sewing. So many pieces. Eesh).

I’m burning my Kitchen Spice and Crisp Apple Strudel Yankee Candles.

IMG_2110 (1)I’m baking homemade bread and slow-cooking cozy homemade soup and propping my feet up while my puppy curls up beside me.

I’m feeling my baby kick surprisingly hard and thinking that I’m becoming ridiculously lazy–and that I miss doing the kind of real work that leaves you tired, messy, sweaty, and rewarded.

I’m reading The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe in Spanish, mostly to make sure I still can.

Maybe it feels a little more like fall now than it did last week, even though the weather hasn’t changed.

Craving Autumn

This is what autumn on Guam looks like.

Autumn on Guam.

I love Guam. I don’t  love that when seasons are supposed to change, they don’t.

Everybody on Facebook is like, “Finally! It’s jacket weather!”

Everybody on Instagram is like, “Look how delectable this pumpkin spice latte is!”

And, of course, everyone on Pinterest is pinning harvest-inspired recipes, fall-weather styles, and autumn decor advice.

Here in Guam, the rainy season is weathering its way across the island. Today, a 7.1 earthquake interrupted the otherwise consistently drippy weather with a rumble that woke me from a dead sleep and made the house shake for over a minute. But that’s a rare variation. Temperatures are still in the mid 80’s (surprise!), and they will be through October, November, December, and ever, ever after.

Local coffee shops have pumpkin spice stuff, but it seems pointless to try to enjoy one in light of the atmospheric conditions. As I write this, I’m nursing a virgin strawberry tropical mojito (featuring calamansi, mint, strawberry syrup, and club soda), and fanning myself because even the air conditioning at Infusion isn’t quite cutting through my pregnancy-induced hot flashes.

Ah, well, maybe next year the good ol’ Air Force will send us somewhere that’s home to the seasons I’ve missed.

Not everything is beneficial.

Do not squander timeThe hubster is on night shift again, which means I’ve become nocturnal as well, by default. The worst part of having one’s circadian rhythms reversed is trying to live like nighttime is more than just free leisure time to waste away.

Normally, nights are for kicking back and putting off household chores, work, and other ordinary-life things until the daylight hours. I’m trying to reprogram myself, because that mentality doesn’t work so well when you’re asleep for most of the day.

Something from church a couple of weeks ago stuck with me in an almost eerily resounding way. The idea that sparked it is in 1 Corinthians 6:12:

“I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but I will not be mastered by anything.

Not everything is beneficial. 

I can think of a long list of things I can do with my time that aren’t beneficial to anyone in any way.

Doing something for relaxation isn’t relaxing at all if you have nothing to recover from.

In that passage, Paul was talking about sexual immorality more specifically than time management. But the implications of that verse just keep slapping me upside the head when it’s 11:30 p.m. and I don’t want to do anything but kick back on the sofa. The truth is, our time doesn’t lose value when we’re no longer at work or fulfilling those “normal” responsibilities. Spare time counts, too–it’s precious.

PickTheBrain.com put it really well in this article. The idea is that we should grow up and realize that the life in front of us is a gift. And is Netflix or Pinterest or the XBox really worth it? Sometimes it is. Sometimes it’s not. I know that I’m happiest when I don’t spend all my leisure time on pure leisure.

Maybe I have the free time right now to do anything my little heart desires, but that doesn’t mean I should squander it.

Maybe I don’t have any pressing responsibilities tonight, but I can find beneficial things to do.

Much to the annoyance of my inner lazy bum, the question keeps bannering through my mind: What can I do that’s beneficial right now?

While my husband is away at work, the paid writing assignments are done, the world is asleep, and I have every reason to kick back and enjoy this luxury, what can I do that’s not worthless? Anything that will give me a sense of accomplishment, rather than futility, so I know when I go to bed in the morning that I didn’t waste these precious hours of time.

Or so that, when I do kick back to watch Season 3 of Lost, it’s rewarding and enjoyable because I know I’ve done other beneficial stuff with my time, as well.

Making things–with a nod to the past and the future

Small ShoesSometimes I write compulsively. Writing is my job, but I rarely feel compelled to write about car insurance or the rising trends in online education, which is the type of stuff I get paid for. When I write compulsively, I get out my trusty old spiralbound notebook (anything fancier would set the standard too high) and document things–anything that’ll help me remember, later on, the rapidly-changing life that I lived.

Now, for instance, I can look back over some of those spiralbound journal-y things and get a (rather biased and sometimes overwhelmingly emotional) snapshot of what my life was like in 2010. Or 2006. Lots of things were once earth-shatteringly important, when I was 19. Or 15. Or 12. I’d forget them entirely if I hadn’t written something about them. No one will ever read them except me. I mean, they’re not top-secret, but they’re not all that interesting, either.

And sometimes I knit compulsively, which is harder to explain. But in some weird way almost parallel to writing, it’s another instance of making sense of life and creating something tangible to remember it by. I can knit or crochet with an eye to the future and to the past, with a nod to the person who’ll use whatever it is that I’ve made, the child I once was who learned those skills, and the person I am now who’s investing time in working yarn and needles between my fingers.

I’m guessing the sentiment is similar for anyone who creates, whether it’s sketching, sewing, creating stained glass windows, or working with wood.

It’s meditative. It forces me to pay attention, to sit still and focus on one thing (like twenty-three rows of a crazy lace pattern) while letting my mind wander, in a way that the crazy Internet-distracted tendency of modern life often obliviates. Like my writing, I don’t necessarily expect anyone to think that what I’ve made is the best thing ever. It’s enough for me to know that I challenged myself, made something work, and that every inch of yarn in a finished thingy has been touched and crafted by my hands.

Lately, I’ve been knitting compulsively. Impulsively.  Maybe one day I’ll look at the little green sweater I just made for my future child, and I’ll think of the hours sitting in my little Guam home. Puppy curled up next to me. Wondering what corner of the world I’ll be living in next year. Ripping out rows when I make a mistake, then painstakingly putting it back together again.

I don’t have a name for it, but I feel like everyone needs that sort of thing.