It's morning, but not early, and I should be out of bed. Emma is off to school already. Dennis drove her in because today is pajama day and it's just a bit too cold and rainy to be standing out waiting for the bus in PJs. Plus, it's a treat for them both to do something special like that. Pajama day is a reward to all the kids in the school for earning positive behavior 'gotchas'. When a teacher, administrator, or bus driver sees a kid doing something respectful, safe, or responsible, they reinforce the behavior by handing out a slip of paper that counts toward rewards and prizes. It seems pretty effective, and I like that the emphasis is on what kids are doing right, not what they are doing wrong.
So anyway, Kate is still asleep and I'm sitting in my bed in the dark with the shades still down, listening to my own thoughts uninterrupted for once. I finished my 7th round of 30 poems in 30 days on Tuesday and am making myself take a break for several days before starting another round. Maybe I'll wait even longer, but I doubt it. Already I feel the itch to write. It's become second nature now, as regular and necessary as breathing. I find the beginnings of poems, the seeds of new ideas, in everything I do and see. But for now I'm just making little notes and concentrating on revising poems that are already written, submitting work that is ready to go out into the world, and finishing up stories that never quite made it to the final draft.
And I'm thinking about the Christmas knitting I have planned. The yarn is picked out, bought, and wound into lovely balls, but I haven't decided which patterns I'm using for my dad and brother yet. I've already started my mom's present, but it requires concentration, so progress is slow. In the meantime, I'm about halfway through Dennis' second sock and I just finished the third teacup and saucer for the tea set I'm knitting for Emma and Kate. That leaves one more teacup and saucer (the pattern only calls for two of each, but then how would our whole family be able to enjoy the tea parties?!), the teapot, sugar bowl, and creamer. They're pretty quick to knit, but since it's going to be a surprise, I can only work on them when the girls aren't around, and you can imagine how often (not!) that happens. I also joined the Get Felted! knitalong and contest over at Romancing the Yarn and have been eyeing my stash to see what I can felt. I have some lovely tweedy yarn I got last year to make Fuzzy Feet with, so that's one project. I'm also hoping to make the felted mancala board that's been lurking at the bottom of my project list for months.
I've been reading Neruda's Odes to Common Things, which I got with part of my recent poetry prize, and I'm really enjoying it. There is an economy and simplicity of words to these poems that belies the depth of their scope and insight. Other things I've read lately include Poetry International, Fence, and a wonderful memoir I picked up in Baker City, Oregon over the summer called I Only Dress the Wounds: Notes of a Country Doctor by Ted Merrill. It is one of the best books I've ever read. By turns funny, profound, heartbreaking, disturbing, and always life-affirming.
Sitting here in the quiet, I'm struck by how much I've accomplished lately. Not big things. Not, for the most part, measurable things. There's been no changing the world here. Or maybe there has. I've focused on my family even more recently, trying to make sure the girls get my time and attention when they need it. I think it shows. Emma is doing great in school and loves being a Brownie Girl Scout. Kate adores preschool and gets more joy out of swimming lessons than ought to be allowed by law. We've been doing some 'family fun' things - reading together, swimming at the pool, taking walks, doing art projects - that is bringing us all closer together. Maybe our little corner of the world IS better. Maybe that's enough.