Making Room

by forumholitorium

Our friend Oh Deer is back, making herself comfortable outside the living room window and posing for the camera. She’s been by a few times this week, but I haven’t caught her munching on the bushes yet. Either the vegetation must not be tasty enough or she’s fasting for Lent.

It’s been a week of radically cleaning out our wardrobes so only clothes we feel good wearing still hang there, a week of culling books that no longer seem worth holding onto so there is space for more interesting books and art and music paraphernalia. I let go of that much too serious olive wool a-line skirt I never wore because it made me feel like a strict piano teacher as well as Czeslaw Milosz’s The History of Polish Literature that is laden with disparaging remarks about women writers. I also came up with the idea of hanging up my stash of yarn in empty tote bags instead of cluttering the floor of my wardrobe with random bags of yarn.

Getting rid of old things to make room for new things really works. The proof? Monday morning I got an email telling me that an item was waiting for me at the reception of a local hotel. This is what it was.

How should I read the book, a chapter or two a day to fully savor it, or at whatever tempo seems appropriate? Continuing to grow at a steady rate, my six row a day grey wool lap blanket has provided me with a new way of approaching a project, namely doing a little every day. Normally I dive into a project, sometimes finishing things very quickly, sometimes stopping and setting the project aside for days, weeks, months, before either picking it up and finishing it quickly or frogging it. Doing a little bit every day is very deliberate and bears witness to a certain level of self-assurance and faith in oneself: I can and will finish this project at a future point in time. A little every day provides an anchor. It is a gentle reminder of what you are striving towards. Large projects are good candidates for this approach. Small projects like the following bag are better done all at once. It’s from leftover cotton and bamboo yarn, and I kept the flow of objects going by giving it to a friend who appreciates such colors.

Yes, it might be good to read my new book chapter by chapter, slowly but surely, to recover from Don Quixote. When I started reading Cervantes’s famous novel in January, my initial response was that it would be a nice funny trip through the Spanish meseta. I stalled after fifty pages. Other more interesting books distracted me. A week ago, I made a final attempt to salvage my plan of reading DQ this winter. To no avail. The episodes recounted in the first hundred pages gave me a taste of what was to come, and I decided I am not interested in spending time in this particular fictional world. Since this is the fourth or fifth time I have tried to read this book, I think it’s time to let go, so I have scratched DQ from the list of books I want to read and replaced it with Dorothy Richardson‘s epic Pilgrimage, a series of 13 novels published in four volumes that tell the story of a woman coming of age in Victorian and Edwardian England. The collection of her short stories and biographical sketches entitled Journey to Paradise was one of those more interesting books that distracted me from Cervantes. Though Richardson is one of the great Modernist writers, she is frequently ignored, even though she experimented with stream of consciousness before Proust, Joyce, and Woolf wrote their masterpieces. Three of the four volumes are patiently waiting for me on a bookshelf in a familiar place thousands of miles away. When I find myself standing in front of them again, I’ll remove them from the shelf and free up some more space.

In the meantime, I have this book right in front of me about a contemporary pilgrimage to read. Edmund de Waal’s The White Road: a pilgrimage of sorts tells the story of porcelain, Waal’s medium of choice as a potter. It promises to be a mixture of memoir, travelogue, and history, which is right up my alley. After I finish my six rows tonight, I’ll open it up and set off on a new journey.

Hope you can make room on your shelves for new books and projects!