Sunday, June 16, 2013

Life Incarnate

Irma Amelia and George Edmund sharing space with Jasmine
 and the rest of the bunnies. Puddy the goat is off eating the picnic table
I enjoyed my 20's more than my teens--but who doesn't? I became an adult in my 30's--finishing school, getting a job, and taking a husband. My 40's started well with a child, but turned rough within a couple of years when I looked back on life to date--thinking it was half over--and was dismayed at what I hadn't done, hadn't accomplished. Now I am settling into my 50's, and life seems to have split wide open and gushes with new things to learn and do.

I am, for the first time, building conscious mental models of processes and knowledge in subjects ranging from mathematics to sheep shearing. I want to study and do everything--glass; ceramics; silver-smithing; black-smithing; spinning; weaving; crochet; wood carving and turning; knitting; soap-making; quilting; candle-making; bee-keeping; food science; goat, llama and sheep husbandry (before I do too much husband-scaring I need to note that a more precise way of phrasing that last desire is to say I want to participate in their care at the East Lake Community Learning Garden and Urban Farm--ELCLGUF--culminating in harvesting their fleece and hair for processing and spinning into yarn); and the list just goes on. I want to take up archery, develop a yoga practice, lose weight, and explore physics and mathematics--I'm sure there is more (Kumihimo, bead-weaving, Tai-Chi, meditation, Japanese, Italian, Thai--language and cooking, mosaics, and dyeing jump to mind), but you get the point. What I am finding in 50 is that things I was blocked on before--things I couldn't seem to learn or do no matter how I tried--I can suddenly do and understand.

Blocks of batik shirt scraps from recent quilting workshop
In high school when math starting including Greek letters, it became, well, Greek to me. In fact I would have had an easier time learning Greek. Physics, with its formulae, was just as obscure. But as I totter into my 50's some veil has lifted, and I am finally beginning to see the models and concepts necessary for understanding and processing these disciplines--and they fascinate me.

One of my first thrown pieces on the wheel
In my 30's I tried to learn wheel-throwing pottery and spinning fleece into yarn, but they were handcrafts that I just couldn't get a handle on so I let them go. But I picked up wheel-throwing again at the beginning of this year in a class at Spruill Center for the Arts, and it came naturally and easily. I could do it.

With high hopes, I brought the fleeces from shearing George Edmund and Irma Amelia last Saturday at ELCLGUF to Montana, and this week I'll finish washing and start carding them. then next Sunday I am taking a spinning at Joseph's Coat in Missoula. When I succeed this time, I'll rent a spinning wheel from them for the rest of the summer.

It used to feel like there weren't enough hours in the day to get done everything I had to do. Now it feels much more like there aren't enough hours in the day to do everything I want to do--and I haven't even mentioned playing Minecraft, reading, creating websites, playing Euro board games (better than Monopoly), and sharing everything with Jessie.

Assisting in the shearing of Irma Amelia on my 52nd birthday
Time passes so quickly now! When I was Jessie's age I seemed to notice every minute in a day, a week was interminable, and a month lasted forever. Anything further out than that was beyond y ability to measure. Maybe it's that very perception of time that kept me from going through this intense-desire-to-learn stage earlier. It's not that I didn't have the opportunity--I remember leaning to sew, knit, and crochet when I was little older than Jessie. But I was always an instant-gratification kind of girl, and what I remember from those times is how long it took to get something from what you were doing--the boring parts seemed to last forever.

Shard samples for metal oxides from broken thrown piece
But now, with days and weeks passing in blur, the amount of time it takes to get to the end of an endeavor--to see something from my effort--is so much shorter. I think the difference in perception of time between age 12 and age 52 is going to provide the biggest challenge in homeschooling Jessie this fall. I will have to remember not to get frustrated or disappointed when she doesn't share my wonder and joy in learning about everything and doing anything that takes our fancy. I have to remember that the boring parts--the long, trudging work parts--are going to seem really long to her making the projects not nearly as fun.

So I sit--bundled in fuzzy socks, cosy pants, a t-shirt and a sweatshirt--in Montana and I ponder the summer and life spread before me, and I wonder again:

 Is it time to change the title of this blog to the title of this post?