“he opens the window just to feel the chill…”

As I’m going through my Regina Spektor collection this evening (something I tend to do when I’m feeling as blah as I currently am), it struck me that there’s one song on every album that speaks to me. I have many favourites, but there are 4 that stand out from her albums (I’m not counting Mary Ann as there are songs from SK and BtH on that one). And then I thought about all the other artists whose music I know very well, and whaddaya know: 95% of the time, this is true. But for now, I’m going to inflict my 4 favourite Regi songs on you, dear reader. I’m sure psychologists and music therapists would have a field day with song selections, etc, etc… but just have a listen, and enjoy.

Us – Soviet Kitsch (2004)

Better – Begin to Hope (2006) – this and Fidelity were my first taste of Regi. I love her quirkiness.

Eet – Far (2009)

How – What We Saw From The Cheap Seats (2012) – this, like Better, made me stop in my tracks the first time I heard it.

Keep warm, keep dry, and I hope those who could see it, enjoyed the eclipse.

Winter is coming!

Daylight savings started today. Not that my body’s noticed the extra hour of sleep yet. My Sunday’s have turned into something of a routine which I actually quite like. Yin yoga, then to the markets. After lunch I amble down to my local for a pint (and sometimes curly fries) and a couple of chapters of whatever book I’m reading while it’s still quiet, and then home to sort out things for the following week and some knitting. It’s all rather relaxing. It’ll be less so when I really kick training up a notch, but it’s still a beautiful way to finish a week. Only, the student hordes locusts were out in force around the markets today. I was one long enough that I can be justified in being irked by them, so there. Yes, I am a grouchy old bag when I want to be. I really don’t like crowds, and I especially don’t like crowds where groups stand in the middle of congested walkways to b***h about people from the night before, oblivious to those trying to get around them.

Milk stout and a good book at my local. Perfect.

Milk stout and a good book at my local. Perfect.

But still, I survived and escaped. The weather has been odd today, so it was good to get home to fresh-baked bread and smoked kingfish. It was glorious. I have rediscovered one of my old no-knead bread recipes from another life and another country and am pleasantly surprised I still have the knack. It’s like riding a bicycle. Which is good, because I really need to start eating well again. (You know what it’s like – you get stressed, you see the Black Dog, and you just lose your appetite). And yes, I have been fighting the Black Dog over the last month and bit. He’s hanging out in my hallway at the moment, but I’m working on taming him. Banishing doesn’t work, so acknowledging him and not fearing him is another way to try to win that fight. And maybe, just maybe, he’ll decide to become a docile wee thing, or leave me alone. It’s hard work at the moment, but I’ll get there.

Like I said, my yoga and swimming have both been a godsend, and I’ve been really disciplined. Yoga 4 or 5 times a week, and in the pool doing drills 4 times a week at the moment. For a change, yesterday I went for a swim with the lovely Jules off Freyberg beach. The sun was hot and the water was cold. Although I feel very fit, my shoulder still has a long way to go. That was a learning experience, and disappointing at the same time. I want it to be stronger – to get the right muscles working so that it doesn’t “click out” on my mid-stroke. I have 6 months to really work on that before trying to ocean swim again.

oriental beach

Enjoying the sun after a dip in the bracing water, 5/4/14.

The yoga, however, is really beginning to show results. There are some asanas that I’m just not going to ever get near with my injuries, but there are others that I’m getting stronger in, and I’m really enjoying it. I love the fact that I have a fantastic studio down the road, and some really excellent teachers. They make the wanting to practice easier.

So everything just seems to be balancing better at the moment. The training, the reading, the knitting (I’d forgotten how this is the pattern that just wouldn’t end. Seriously. It’s ridiculous. It’s a full 45 minutes to do two rows, and that’ll increase to an hour before I cast off. It is going to look amazing when done, but still. I’m itching to finish some other pieces too), some baking, new music (thanks Alice for the recommendations), and general Sorting Stuff Out.

I love autumn. It is my favourite season. It’s a season of drawing down the sun and completing things. It’s also a good time to take chances. I’ve got a few things I’m about to seriously consider, so keep your fingers crossed for me, dear reader. If one or two of these go my way I’m going to be in for a rather exciting ride. But I don’t want to jinx anything, so I’ll say no more until there is something to say.

So, I’m going to try conquer some more of that never-ending shawl, and decide what to take with me to the lights up knitting tomorrow. (So very excited about this now. May this be the first of many). I will see ya’ll the next time we meet.

Stay safe, eat chocolate, and be thankful for everything.

All the ones who come, all the ones who go down to the water…

Whew. What a couple of weeks it has been. And now that it is coming to the end of the Orr Season of Remembrance, breathing can begin again soon.

My apartment currently smells of fresh paint (my landlords painted my bathroom. I am far too excited about this), and the chorizo-paprika-tomatoeyness that was my interpretation of Kylie’s delicious looking soup. I’m pretty sure I was a wee ways off from the beautiful specimen she blogged. Still, I wiped the bowl clean. Thanks Kylie – that was some great inspiration. There is a knitting project that demands my most immediate attention, and a bathroom to unpack. How domestic.

But first things first. I went up to Taupo for my first depth competition this past weekend. I drove up with a fellow diver, his sister and her partner. It was precisely what I needed – and a really great trip. Tolkien, Hitchcock, A-team theme, pies… really fantastic.

And then came the nerves. What to nominate. What discipline to do first? In depth competitions, you have to state the depth you are going to dive to, and which discipline – Free Immersion/FIM (pulling yourself up and down the line), Constant Weight/CWT (swimming down to the plate at the bottom of the line with fins, and swimming back up), and Constant Weight with No Fins/CNF (swimming down and up the line by breaststroke) – you cannot swim any deeper as you are attached to the line, and have to remove a tag from the base plate to prove you made it to the bottom.

My first taste of depth was in the tropical waters of Gili… and Wellington harbour with its almost zero-visibility is a struggle to guess your progress, so my real training session happened in Taupo 2 weekends ago. In fresh water with decent vis and no real idea what I was capable of, other than knowing I really needed to work in several techniques. I’d made it to 19m FIM at the training camp, so I decided to do that again.

Waiting for the launch from Motutere wharf on the first day of competition

Waiting for the launch from Motutere wharf on the first day of competition

I was second last diver on the first day of the competition, and I was absolutely terrified. I had all day to psyche myself out of it. What was I doing there – the wonderful Aussies that had come over, as well as all the other divers were so much better than I am. I was going to screw up amazingly. I couldn’t equalise on the practice line. I was going to mess up my surface protocol… It was going to be an epic failure. I hung on the line for dear life and all could see my panic. They counted me down. I took a breath and went for it. Worried that I didn’t take a big enough breath. That I wasn’t going to equalise deep enough.

And then my rational brain smothered my hysterical emotional brain and went to business. I got down to depth, quite surprised when I saw the plate, grabbed the tag, and started for the surface thinking ah yeah… that wasn’t too bad. Did my surface protocol with some disbelief, and looked at the tag in my hand. It had been so easy.

I was the last diver on the second day of competition, and this time decided to do 20m CWT. I’d pulled myself up and down the line feet first on the first day to deal with my equalisation issues (my ears hate me sometimes), so the next test was to reach 20m head first. I was practicing my duck dives in my sleep. Keeping my chin in, equalising constantly… The lake was really choppy for this dive. But again, I did it. After panicking on the surface, the rational brain kicked in and so I got my second tag and white card.

I’m really thankful for my rational brain doing that. There is nothing between you and your thoughts when you are in the water, and my head was a constant mess on the practice line. There are several things I am dealing with that just wouldn’t let me relax. If it had been like that on the competition line, it would have been a disaster. Of course, have all day to think about it doesn’t help.

So I was delighted to be first up on the final day. I decided to go for broke. 25m FIM. My depth personal best. The depth I had targeted when I started. The depth I want to be comfortable at to swim with the deeper fishes. If I could do 25m, I can do anything. I needed to do this to prove to me that I am capable. Everybody else seemed to think so – they all started somewhere too – but I needed to do this for me.

It was an early start. My gods, it was early. And hot water for my suit and booties stopped me for turning into an icicle immediately. But there was still a wait. Just not too long again.

ready to go, Sunday morning.

All geared up for the PB dive. It was a stunning morning at Motutere Bay. Photo by Paul McKeown

I was first up, followed by the Australian mermaid herself, Amber Bourke. Amber is such a beautiful diver. I watched her in the pool last year at ODEX, and to see her depth disciplines as well… she’s going to go very far, that lass. Again, I was nervous. But I wasn’t giving myself too much time to think about it. Again on the practice line, I was a mess. Right up to beginning the dive on the competition line I was second guessing myself. I can’t just relax, it seems. The judges complained that I looked too serious. I was too busy freaking out. My inner calm was nowhere to be seen. Not until the pointy end of the performance.

My final dive, I counted my pulls. 19-20-21-22… at 22, I looked down to the very welcome sight of the base plate with all its tags ready for the day, some 3m from me. I felt good. I was able to even pause and choose which tag to take, rather than just grabbing and going. I glided up the line. I felt great. I nailed my surface protocol. I just proved to myself what I could do, and what I am capable of doing next. There may have even been a yell of elation.

PB photo

Showing off my tag for my 25m Free Immersion dive in Taupo on 23 March 2014. My depth PB. Photo by Kat Nevatt.

Of course, being freezing cold, and diving with a cap and not a hood meant that I managed to spasm my right arm, shoulder and side of my neck on the dive and waiting for the adjudication. Attempting to get onto the launch was interesting. The 25 minute hot shower and hot chocolate that followed was like manna from heaven.

Despite a few little niggles and my brain, it was an absolutely fantastic weekend with an incredible bunch of lunatics. Freedivers are a mad group, but they are also a wonderful shoal of merpeople. It is always such a pleasure being with others who love being in the water as much as I do. And so to the winter champs, and to ODEX in September. Countless lengths of working on my kick has already begun. There will be many more hours to go.

And so I sit here, with my fins across the way and my yoga mat behind me, missing the cold water of Lake Taupo and my wetsuit. My days have already been roughly ordered, and my WIPs and Books will not be neglected. Mind you, I may need to get my equinox back to the mindless knitting stage for the Lights Up Knitting in two weeks. It’s the Grand Budapest Hotel, and the trailer looks amazing. I can’t wait!

Summer has ended. My favourite season has begun. Now just to put my head down and reach my next set of goals. I have a very long way to go before June.

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.”

Last year, I was asked a question about a particular situation and how I would act toward it should it arise. I didn’t know it at the time but I was spiraling towards the depths of my dance with the Black Dog. But I answered the question as honestly I thought I could. I was faced with that situation a week or so ago, and much to my surprise, I handled it completely differently to how I had anticipated.

Others involved may tell a different story, but I feel that I have come through to the other side having displayed far more patience and poise than I thought I was capable of. Sure, I may be a bit emotionally battered and bruised still, but I feel remarkably whole. I think there is an element of surprise in that. Surprise, and relief, and gratitude.

The outcome wasn’t as final as I expected it to be either: rather, it was the completion of one chapter and start of the next. My momento mori has really been quite apt. I almost laughed during yoga yesterday when it really hit home. There are no endings or beginnings: they just are. I think my ink needs some colour now: to add to the story and the reason why I got that particular tattoo in the first place.

My yoga has been a lifesaver. As has the swimming I’ve been doing. It’s going to be a long road to get anywhere that I am happy with, but I’m enjoying the practice of both. They have offered me some very good periods of reflection and to see my progress over this past year. And it is astounding. I never thought I could – really – be an internally calm and accepting person. Accepting of me. I accept others with no reservations or expectations, but I’ve never been able to do that of myself. There are a couple of people who I need to really thank for helping me with that, and I am – constantly. It’s actually quite bizarre to be able approach my self with this sort of balance. (Again, a long way to go – but from where I was, I have come leaps and bounds).

Much of this has to do with looking at a situation and saying “What would Future Shelley say?” Well, future Shelley and I have some interesting conversations, to say the least. But one thing we agree on: I’m a pretty okay person.

With all this ridiculous introspection (must be the increased air intake from breathing properly), has come a list of goals for the year. It’s been brewing since January – I wanted to get the half marathon out of the way first, but I wrote it down a few weeks ago – and it all looked very grown up. Exercise, practice, eat well, sleep well, read, knit, game, laugh, save money, travel, be kind to myself. I’m thinking of putting this list on my fridge door, just to keep on reminding my of who and where I want to be in 12 months time.

The reading pile is growing, and I’ve been naughty on the WIP front. I really do need to address that issue. My apartment looks like a dive shop, a library, and a yarn store collided. And you know what, I couldn’t be happier with the mess. Maybe if I get some of those bits and pieces finished, yes, but you know what I mean.

So I will have some lovely photos of FO’s and my beautiful Yogasana mat next time. I just need to get those FO’s blocked and gifted first. In the meantime, I have Neko Case to look forward to tonight, and Depth Nationals in Taupo next week. It is all very exciting.

“And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying…”

Two years ago, all bright-eyed and naive of what to expect from a half-marathon or a 120km walk through northern Spain, on Wellington 7′s Saturday, I walked to Pencarrow head for the first time. The weather was beautiful and then eerie, we saw dolphins and had lunch at the old lighthouse up on the hill, and then a giant slab of cake at Day’s Bay whilst waiting for the ferry back to Wellington.

Beginning of the track - at the Wahine mast.

Beginning of the track – at the Wahine mast.

I fell in love with Pencarrow head on that walk. The colours, the water, the singing cliffs… everything about that stretch of coastline makes me happy. I’ve done it a few more times since. And today, on Wellington 7′s Saturday, I did it again, to walk, to clear my lungs, and to train for the round the bays that is starting to creep over the horizon. 2 weeks tomorrow!

A lonely chair, waiting for his fisherman, on the track.

A lonely chair, waiting for his fisherman, on the track.

Unlike that beautiful, still day in 2012, today there was the promise of drizzle, and a light southerly was blowing. I was aiming for a full 21km loop – from the Wahine mast to the middle of Fitzroy Bay and back. The start was alright. There was low cloud on the tips of the hills, and the Miramar Peninsula and beyond were hazy were mist and rain. I even managed a few photos on my outward track.

The Pencarrow lighthouses.

The Pencarrow lighthouses. (There is one on the hill).

Now, it’s 7.2km from the Wahine mast to the lower Pencarrow lighthouse, which sits with nothing between it and Antarctica but a few penguins, a couple of whaling ships, and Greenpeace. And the southerly was picking up as I wend my way around the bays. And then the heavens opened. It has been drizzling – and that was fine – but somebody opened the tap about 2km to the lighthouse. Much squelching ensued, as damnit, I was going to make it to the lighthouse, if nothing else.

The lighthouse, looking sturdy

The lighthouse, looking sturdy

And I did. I got there as the Stena Alegra started her entrance into Wellington Harbour past Barrett’s reef. And I got hit by the very brisk southerly that had been lurking behind the hills. A brief touch of the lighthouse, a few photos, and the fastest return 7km I’ve done followed. The weather has really set in (I almost swam to yoga earlier, and I’m busy watching the rain swirl past the lights at Westpac Stadium now), but it was absolutely stunning to be out there with the water, the cicadas, the sheep and wind. I really do love that walk.

The new Lighthouse and Stena Alegra at Pencarrow Head.

The new Lighthouse and Stena Alegra at Pencarrow Head.

Now for some sock knitting, and 7′s finals rugby (from the comfort of my own lounge).

The beach at Pencarrow head. In the rain.

The beach at Pencarrow head. In the rain.

Om Shanti, Shanti Om.

So I ambled on down to that yoga studio on Saturday and had a yarn with the ladies there. They run a fabulous trial deal: unlimited classes for 7 days for $10. They practice yin, vinyasa, hot vinyasa, and restorative yoga.

That was Saturday morning. Since then, I’ve done 2 hot vinyasa classes and a yin class. I’ll do restorative tomorrow and another hot class on Wednesday. It’s amazing how muscle memory works: my body knows the routines so well, it’s almost like autopilot. Just need to get a little more limber.

A happy place: watching the sunrise in Gili Trawangan before morning yoga practice.

A happy place: watching the sunrise in Gili Trawangan before morning yoga class. (The last time I actually practiced).

The studio is a very good space. The teachers are instructive and informative. But I slide all over my trusty mat like nobody’s business in the hot classes. There was, apparently, a fill in teacher today. Man, he was absolutely fantastic.

I have missed yoga. My shoulders aren’t complaining (yet). And while I’ll probably only get 6 classes in this week, I can’t say I’d honestly keep that up. I’m aiming up 4 (maybe 5?) a week. And seeing as it is just down the road… so easy.

I’m never going to be very bendy, but I need to stretch a great deal in order to avoid more injuries. And breathing properly always helps. I’m so glad I’ve found a good place to do this again. Between yoga, swimming, and freediving (and weights thrown in for good measure), I’m sorted. This is going to be a great month.

So Xin Nian Kuai Le everybody. Here’s hoping this year is energetic without being chaotic.

“You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.”

The most gorgeous puppy. He just loves being the centre of attention.

The most gorgeous puppy. He just loves being the centre of attention.

I had a good weekend last weekend. I went for a swim at the pool, introduced my pseudo-nieces to a “secret beach” and chocolate milkshakes at Scorching Bay (and met their gorgeous pup, all squeak and bounce and paws), watched some handball at Oriental Beach, and helped the organisers put up banners for the ocean swim.

I actually managed to get a wee bit sunburnt at the beach. Had great fun though.

I actually managed to get a wee bit sunburnt at the beach. Had great fun though.

I didn’t partake in the Capital Classic. Which was a very good thing. I did some drills in the pool before heading on down to blow away and watch the long swim, before playing photographer for all the mad freedivers (and friends) who decided to do the 1000m swim in some of the most horrific conditions I’ve seen. That the wind was peaking at 39-40kts (70-78km) during their swim should give some indication of how difficult things were for them out there. Nonetheless, they all finished in very good time. And the Hop Garden followed in celebration (never been there before, excellent vegetarian selection. Must do that again).

All amped up for the 1000m race

All amped up for the 1000m race

What I did do, however, was my first yoga class since the dreaded Dengue Fever on Monday. It wasn’t just any yoga class. It was a hot yoga class. Taught by the beautiful Jules.

Jules is a fantastic teacher. And I really have missed yoga (my hamstrings are still complaining – it was a very good stretch). I’m sitting on the fence about this hot yoga stuff; but the stretching, breathing, and focus: I’ve needed that. So now comes the whole “where to do yoga” question. I see there is a studio just (conveniently) down the road from my place. Precisely halfway between me and work. And on a bus route for when I end up at a different building.

There’s also the lovely studio where I first injured my rotator cuff all those many moons ago. it is all the way across town though. And then there’s the hot/bikram yoga studios, which charge the earth, and I’m not entirely sure meet what I want out of my yoga practice.

So. The one down the road looks promising. Now just to really sit down and look at the logistics of it all.

I’ve also started having some swim coaching. My coach isn’t anybody to sniff at – he is pretty brilliant. And very patient. And he hasn’t thrown in the towel at me yet. As with everybody who has coached my in the pool, he keeps having to repeat “glide!” at me often. I’m still very much festino rather than festina lente. It’s a character flaw – I admit – and one that I will continue to work on.

So the improvement goes.

On another entertaining note for me, I’ve started to collect bits and pieces for some birthdays that are coming up in Feb/March/April. I actually have some decent prep done for a few of the March/April ones. I need to buck up on February. I’ve had some in the works for months. I’ve had an idea or two when I saw a skein of smooshy for a few of them, and the rest are built on the personalities of the people I will be celebrating. I do love my friends – they are all such a great bunch of people – keep on being awesome, all of you!

The "placid" swimming conditions. Seriously, you cannot imagine how choppy and windy it was there.

The “placid” swimming conditions. Seriously, you cannot imagine how choppy and windy it was there.

So to bed with some Terry Pratchett. My pantry is going to have a critical eye cast over it tomorrow. I’m looking forward to it.

“I sought a theme and sought for it in vain, I sought it daily for six weeks or so.”

This yarn I am knitting with… There are no words for how much I am simply adoring it at the moment. I can’t wait to wear it. With all the cricket on tv I’ve managed to power through one sleeve and should get a good way through the other this evening. I’ve ordered an extra ball in a charcoal for stripes on the waist and sleeves in case I run out of my Boheme (I have long arms and a long waist – this could happen). I’m also squishing the Moggy & Me baby alpacky blanket I’ve been knitting for me for an age now and thinking about when I cast it on. I have said before (and many will back me up on this) that things start to change about 6 months before one turns thirty, and then continues with upheaval/epiphanies/resolutions/etc for about 6 months after. Seriously. If you don’t believe me, have a very careful look at the months surrounding a Significant Birthday and tell me I’m wrong.

My six months in either direction saw a great deal of introspection, adventure, and change. And then it all came to a screeching halt and reversed. Now, I’m not going to grumble about that. Yes I am going to grumble about that. Only a bit though. The set backs and reverse have taught me a great many things about myself that I either really didn’t want to know about/pay attention to and showed me that slowing down and being more considered isn’t the end of the world. I’ve quit going backwards and now just appear to be treading water.

It actually feels quite odd. For the first time, I don’t have something major planned for this year (yet). Everything looks good. I haven’t overly broken myself before my half marathon. (I may have broken myself before my ocean swim. Common sense says I’ll be skipping it again this year. This upsets me, but I understand that my shoulder still has a very long way to go).

Saturday was a good day for a paddle around the fountain.

Last Saturday was a good day for a paddle around the fountain.

I had a really lovely discussion with the gorgeous Jules last weekend about this sort of finding who you are at 30 thing. And who we want to be and what we want to do. And how (and this is maybe just something of a female thing) we find ourselves wanting to – and being comfortable in – our own skins. The media, religion, and society have a lot to answer for, but to only feel that you can really comfortably do that without the world judging you when you are no longer in your 20′s, (or Luna Lovegood. I adore that character) is a sad indictment on us all. I’m sure there will be many who disagree with me on this, but those in my social circle of both genders seem to all be on this same wavelength with this. So we’ll leave it at that, shall we?

But anyway, back to this whole finding yourself thing and being comfortable with you. It’s difficult to not bow to peer pressure in some things we do, but she posed the question of why we do things we do. Is it out of passion or a feeling of obligation. How you frame yourself in the scenario dictates how things will act out. (This is a major paraphrase, but I hope she will forgive me that).

But I’ve been thinking about that talk in the context of what we were discussion, and in all that I like to dabble with.

Knitting is an absolute passion of mine. Creation of something with my own to hands. Construction. Building. The joy of creating tactile art – because all knitting is art. Every item is individual, and has a piece of its maker in it. I absolutely adore that about knitting. And this is why I want to learn to crochet as well. Another way to build a better mousetrap. The thought makes me exceedingly happy.

Food is another. And I am afraid I really don’t dabble enough with it. I can talk food, baking, cooking, flavours, methods, etc, until the cows come home, but this year I should really do more than just talk. I love pottering around the kitchen. (Plato, Plotinus and Tolkien would have much to say about me and subcreationism).

Books. Again. I love books. Books make me happy. The only thing about books is I can’t read and knit at the same time. (Audio books really don’t work either).

Water. I am so very, very happy in water. Within sight of water. Within breathing distance of salt air. Sea water cures everything. All stresses. All worries. Carried off with the waves, if only for a short while, then so be it, but during that time you are utterly free. I love swimming, and a really love freediving. But I am not, nor do I intend to be, a competitive freediver. Like all other Type A personalities, I want to push myself. I want to test my limits. I want to see how far I can go. But that’s not why I started this sport. I did it because I love being underwater. The grace of a skillful execution of a stroke and the glide that follows. The serenity of flying. The discipline of training yourself mentally and physically. Of having fun. I do it to work on my technique (something that has seriously suffered since July last year. Need to take the opportunity and mindset to start from scratch. I’ve been too lazy). I do it to be the best that I could be. And so that when I go visit all these places I want to dive, I can do so, and enjoy every single second of it.

From the cafe at they pool where we train. Love it.

From the cafe at they pool where we train. Love it.

Walking. Walking brings a different type of freedom to water. When you hit the zone, everything goes. And it’s exhilarating. You see so much more when you walk. Probably because you have the time to actually see when you are walking as opposed to in some form of vehicle. I lie about big plans. I’m now seriously considering the Camino again. We’ll see. It could just happen. Walking is about introspection as well as the journey you are taking. It’s about awareness and empathy. A good walk is like a good swim – you can finish both with a sense of release and contentment.

Somewhere in Northern Galicia.

Somewhere in Northern Galicia. The road goes ever on and on.

Along with the whole looking after myself this year, and I think there’s going to be a great deal of questioning. Why do I do this. Is it for the right reasons? sort of questions. I don’t do anything I don’t want to do, it’s just whether my choices are healthy. And what I’m doing and what I’ve currently got… I think they are. This makes me happy.

On the silkroad

It has been such a slow week. Or it feels slow. And the shock of not being barefoot and outside is playing havoc with my head. You know how when you’ve spent a good deal of time outside and in fresh air, your nose takes a hit when you re-enter the world of air conditioning? Yeah. That. Sniffles and headaches are being dealt to by copious amounts of hot tea.

And knitting. I have craved something plain (I have a couple of complex pieces in 4 ply going on, and I’ve had this in my queue for about 3 and a half years now). I’m just going to conveniently forget I have a serious case of second sleeve syndrome going on (I’ll finish that later this year), and have cast on a lovely simple three-quarter sleeve raglan top. I bought some Linen from La Droguerie when I was in Paris with this top in mind, but I am about 200m short. Ouch. Never mind, I have something else for that yarn then. But I was a little upset. What could I use. I cast my eye over my stash boxes, and they came to rest on something I’ve been keeping for a long time now.

I bought some beautiful Jo Sharp Silkroad DK Tweed in Boheme from the Woolshed in Manuka (The Aussie one, not Auckland) in 2008 in anticipation of knitting a scarf for my PhD supervisor when I finished. Of course, that is all moot now, and I’ve had this lovely stuff languishing quietly along with some beautiful Rowan Felted Tweed for too long now. So I cast on with it – and you know what – I’ve missed knitting with Jo Sharp yarn. I’d forgotten the loft and stitch definition. Her pure DK yarn was also a delight to knit with, so I’m really excited about this pullover. And tweed make me happy too.

Jo Sharp Tweed, Knitsch, and Vintage Purls, oh my!

Jo Sharp Tweed, Knitsch, and Vintage Purls, oh my!

The Knitsch is for Roses, and the Vintage Purls (Buttercup) is for some Deco Lilies from the latest Knitsch sock club. (I’m toying with 12 pairs of socks in 12 months, but somehow I don’t think that’s very possible this year). The problem is: which sock pattern first? I still have Molly & Hector and Odette’s mitts to finish first. And another pair of Thuja’s to knock off the needles. But… you know?

My pinterest board has me itching for the needles more often than not now, and I aim to harness that pull. Knitting was something that I lost pleasure for last year, and I’m happy to have it back. I just need to balance my reading time with my stash time. Of course, now that Holland Road Yarn Company is going to be opening a store in the middle of the city (Hooray! Happiness abounds), there’s no reason I can’t slip off and do a spot of knitting stash acquisition during lunchtimes. Is there?

It’s good to be knitting something for me and enjoying it. I look forward to showing you my finished sweater when it is done. But right now, another cuppa tea and some yarn smooshing and reading is in order.

“And nothing can stop you from dancing.”

This is not a review of the year post. I had pondered one of those for all of the last two weeks. I’d written it in my mind over the last few long walks I’ve been on. I mused over it at 2am on a couple of nights. And then I thought: what is there – really – to say? I had great adventures and met wonderful people. I struggled through mental and physical illness. I travelled – physically, psychologically, and emotionally. My year of being 30 was significant in many ways. I’m still subject to bouts in the dark shadows, but I’ve made a promise to at least not entertain them.

Rock hopping 1/1/2014. It wasn't really *that* gloomy. Almost.

Rock hopping 1/1/2014. It wasn’t really *that* gloomy. Almost.

I had a lovely time in the northern parts of our incredible island. I ate, slept, walked, read, watched cricket, talked, and recharged my batteries somewhat. Yet, for all that, I feel like I could sleep for a week now that I am back in my lovely apartment and looking out at the harbour.

I thoroughly enjoyed being with my loved ones; and spending quality time with my darling old dame. I’d love to call her puppy, but she really isn’t any more.

I honestly didn’t expect her around for Christmas in 2012, so being able to cuddle her this past Christmas was very special. She teaches me much, that bundle of fur. Each good-bye gets harder and easier, because every good-bye I give her could quite possibly be my last. I have come to accept that, but at the same time, I really don’t want to.

My grand old dame. My heart wrapped in fur. My puppy forever.

My grand old dame. My heart wrapped in fur. My puppy forever.

For the rest, there was sun and sand and books. I attempted some knitting, but my heart wasn’t in it. I attempted some writing, but I didn’t know what to say when it came to putting pen to paper. Or fingertips to keyboard. So I just was. And it was good.

For this next year. I don’t quite know what to do yet. There will (obviously) be at least a trip across the ditch. maybe two. I might even make it back to the Can this time around. I’m not entirely sure yet. There are people and dogs and writers and dreamers and doctors I must visit. As for when – no clue.

I’d love to go back to Gili as well. And this time without the expectations on myself. To swim with the turtles and sharks and rays. To dive deep, and do some more yoga, watch the sunrise, drink fresh coconut and eat those amazing pastries. Or, I could go somewhere completely different, and do most of those things. I will have to see where the winds blow me this year – what adventures and opportunities may pop up on the horizon.

As for resolutions – there are a few that I wish to master this year – more yoga, more French, learning to crochet, writing more, doing at least one unexpected thing. But mostly, it’s looking after myself. Being kind to me. Being considered and measured. Swimming. Walking. Gym work. Yoga. Eating well. Reading lots. Loving without reservation. Knitting with all that yarn I’ve been putting away “for one day.”

Here’s to a good year. :)

Part of my mother's amazing garden. 25/12/2013.

Part of my mother’s amazing garden. 25/12/2013.