Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A Little Piece of Utopia


Yesterday was wonderful. When I woke up, I knit and wrote a few pages of The Secret Writng Project (hereafter referred to as TSWP). That all made me feel very virtuous.

Then I wandered around Northampton, browsing the cute little shops. At some point in nearly every significant project, I look for a talismanic object, something that represents what I'm writing about. I had a very clear image of the talismanic object I'd like for TSWP, but while I found a few things that were close, none were ideal (and all were too expensive). So I held off, and instead went to Webs, the largest yarn store in North America, which includes not only a warehouse-sized store but an actual warehouse filled with mill ends and factory seconds. This place has everything, including looms, spinning wheels, roving, you name it.

Overwhelmed, I limited myself to one skein of sale yarn and a pair of ebony circular needles. They're crafted from scrap ebony left over from making piano keyboards -- how cool is that? -- and feel fabulous, smooth and light, with just enough grip. The store sells rosewood needles, too (also glass knitting needles . . . oy!), but those were more expensive.

In the evening, Deirdre and I went to the local Y, only a few blocks from her house, which houses one of the loveliest pools I've ever seen: clean, cool, and huge. I swam for 40-45 minutes, and then we went back to Deidre's house and had a delicious dinner of grilled asparagus, tomatoes and chicken. And then Deirdre and I stayed up until midnight talking.

Fun facts about Northampton: Deirdre can't volunteer at the local Food Bank because they have too many volunteers. She's on a waiting list. Similarly, there's some homeless feeding program a friend of hers helps out with; the friend's organization (church, maybe?) can only host this once a year, though, because too many other organizations want to do it too. When I was browsing in town, I went into a boutique whose owner is deeply concerned about the fact that kids aren't getting free hot lunches during the summer, when school's out. So she's having a food drive: anyone who brings in a nonperishable food item will get a 20% discount on that person's entire purchase. She proudly described bringing something like a gazillion pounds of food to the Food Bank (where, as we now know, volunteers are drawing straws, or possibly competing in yoga tournaments, for the honor of sorting the donations).

Yowsa. Why can't the rest of the world work this way?

On the negative side, there are a lot of insects here, including biting ones. Also, entirely too much water in the air, even when it's not actually raining.

On a more serious note, after the Virginia Tech murders I wrote a post about my feelings about the death penalty. In that post, I said that the son of a family friend had committed a brutal crime and might very well be facing the death penalty. Yesterday, I learned that he was sentenced to life without parole instead. For his mother's sake, Liz and Gary and I are all very relieved. My father would have been, too. I wish he were still here so I could talk to him about it.

Today I made the switch over to my cousin Val's house. It's great to see her and her husband Bruce again. We've been having a fun, chatty visit, and tomorrow we'll tour Emily Dickinson's stomping grounds and other local attractions. Val and Bruce invited Deirdre over for dinner tomorrow night, so I'll get to see her one last time before I head on to Boston, and then back West.

And now to bed!

1 comment:

  1. Sounds lovely, Susan! Yes! It would be nice if the rest of the world competed for the chance to help others.

    Ebony sounds stunning! My grandmother would have been impressed with the rosewood ones. :-)

    Have a great day!
    Lee

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