Saturday, June 27, 2015

The Portable Faulkner...

As in William. 

Here's the thing. It's a tradition, once you've made it through Faulkner's novel Absalom, Absalom! that you plan a pilgrimage to his grave. 

The tradition includes taking a swig of whiskey (he favored Jack Daniels) and leaving the rest of the bottle on his monument... 

So, Kid #2 and I did that. I mean, we both read Absalom, Absalom! And I promised him a trip to Oxford, MS. It was initially to be after he graduated from college, but life got in the way, and for that I'm sorry. But we're planning it for this July. 

Who in their right mind goes to MISSISSIPPI in July?? Well, I guess we're going. I've looked at the Southern Living version of the trip, and we'll get together to plan the logistics. I'm going to drive, because my Edge is wayyyyyyy more comfortable (and larger!) than his older Focus. And no, I'm not planning to drink the whiskey! 

So in preparation for the trip, I've started to read the book that the Kid gave me for Christmas, The Portable Faulkner. It's a compendium of all of his novels - little snippets that show the arc of his writing and how he progressed through his version of the South and its culture. 

Faulkner isn't an easy read. But here's the point: once you get into it? You're automatically drawn into the prose. I could say "soaring prose" but it's been said before. What I will say is that the rhythm of his words and the pace of his writing gets to you, once you muscle up your literary courage and dive in. Like a dip in Lake Michigan before August -- it's cold, dude!! But once you're in there, you kind of like it. 

Instead of working on the flyer for my studio's upcoming workshop with Gabriel Halpern, I'm dashing off this blog. I'm also avoiding laundry... Ahem.

If you've never read Faulkner before, or have dim memories of A Rose for Emily from high school, let me refresh your synapses. I'm at the point in the book where we're talking about "The Courthouse" -- how Jefferson got its name. Here's a little taste:

  That was Ratcliffe's trouble. But they didn't even listen. The heard him out of course, but they didn't even listen. Or perhaps they didn't even hear him either, sitting along the shade on Holston's gallery, looking, seeing, already a year away; it was barely the tenth of July, there was the long summer, the bright soft dry fall until the November rains, but they would require not two days this time but two years and maybe more, with a winter of planning and preparation before hand. 

You will notice, if you're a grammarian, that this man never met a form of punctuation he couldn't gleefully ignore. Many of his paragraphs end with a semi-colon. And many of his sentences...well, they just kind of meander like the Mississippi River itself. But once you've caught the pace, you're enthralled. He uses words that you rarely see. When was the last time you saw a sentence like this one? (This is actually the last SENTENCE of the PARAGRAPH before the one above...and yes, the paragraph ends with a semi-colon.)

 It was he - they: the settlement (town now) - who had thought of charging the lock to the United States as a provable lock, a communal risk, a concrete ineradicable object, win lose or draw, let the chips fall where they may, on that dim day when some Federal inspector might, just barely might, audit the Chickasaw affairs; it was the United States itself which had voluntarily offered to show them how to transmute the inevictable lock into proofless and ephemeral axle grease - the little scrawny childsized man, solitary unarmed impregnable and unalarmed, not even defying them, not even advocate and representative of the United States, but THE United States, as though the United States had said, "Please accept a gift of fifteen dollars," (the town had actually paid old Alec fifteen dollars for the lock; he would accept no more) and they had not even declined it but simply abolished it since, as soon as forever lost it; as though Pettigrew had put the actual ponderable fifteen gold coins into -- say, Compson's or Peabody's - hands and they had dropped them down a rathole or a well, doing no man any good, neither restoration to the ravaged nor emolument to the ravager, leaving in fact the whole race of man, as long as it endured, forever and irrevocably fifteen dollars deficit, fifteen dollars in the red;
See what I mean? That's ONE sentence. When was the last time you read or used the word "emolument" in a sentence? What I love about his prose is that he's really painting with words, and you have to be at the top of your game to get what he's laying out on the page. You have to - in your own defense - grab onto your vocabulary and have a dictionary handy. You have to - I've learned - have a pencil handy. I don't normally write in books. But Faulkner? He begs for annotations. He baits you. He forces you to go back and read - and re-read - a passage for the nuggets he's buried in the vast landscape of a simple sentence. Of course, "simple" in regard to a sentence he writes? Well, that's relative. 

There is, of course, the famous one-sentence chapter in his novel, As I Lay Dying. I believe it's Chapter 19? "My mother is a fish." 

Yep. That's it. I read that novel, which was relatively short, on a plane trip to Texas. I'm sure that the title put my fellow seat-mates slightly on edge. But I hate flying. I needed something to really engage my brain in case knitting didn't do it. 

Faulkner may even persuade me to set aside The Pickwick Papers, which has been my bedtime reading. Dickens does have a habit of putting you to sleep, except that this Kindle edition has some odd markings - like someone didn't know how to format the document. They're annoying enough to make me lose sleep!


Worked on Sock #2 of "Bowties" last night. I think I might play with the "travel project" of "Before and After" scarves, just to give my hands a break from the endless small needles. 

I think I have something going here with "pairs." Because the travel project is a PAIR of scarves... 

As you can see, I'm a fan of stitch markers. I use a solid one for marking my "needle 1" and then I use a pin-style to catch the tail of the cast-on and that one will move up once I get the pattern established on the leg. I love the pin-style markers for their versatility and because they're really fairly secure. The split-ring markers have their use, of course, but I've dropped those little suckers a couple of times!

And I really don't like the rigid triangular ones. I know - they're supposed to work wonders by snuggling up to your needle. But for me? The yarn always goes around them oddly, to my eyes, and creates a loose spot. So I don't use them unless I can't find the ones I really want to use. 

Stitch markers are both the bane and benefit of a knitter's toolkit. We need them. We buy them. We lose them. We buy more... It's kind of like our version of Lego blocks. You'll find them in the oddest places when you least need them. 

Before and After Scarf  #1
I'm really coming close to the finish line with the "Before and After" scarf - the first one of the pair. I can't wait to block this out. The only worry I have is the provisional cast-on. Like an idiot, I did it with a worsted weight yarn. Soooooo - it'll be interesting because the beads that go on that lace-weight yarn may not be as snug as I'd like them. The beads for this peacock-toned yarn are...well, peacock-toned themselves. They'll add needed weight onto the bottoms of the scarf. 

I've never knitted with beads, so this will be a new skill to learn, and I'm looking forward to it. I think that, if I knitted on this for a solid month, I'd have this one done, beads included. I'm not sure that I actually WILL knit on it for a solid month, but I do have to get cracking on it. Lord knows that its solid-colored mate will be dead boring, so I need to just figure out a system for alternating projects. 

Go ahead, laugh. Because you've heard this before, right? 

I'll know for the second one, a really rather interesting shade of lime-ish-green (what was I thinking????), that you should use a similar weight yarn when you use a provisional cast-on. I'll grab some spare sock-weight yarn. I don't keep much lace-weight around, and I'm not burrowing into the stash to clip some off of the few hanks I have. 
Finished look

The beads for this lime-ish, pale avocado yarn are a pretty, slightly deeper shade of green - rather like a peridot. They look good with the yarn. The idea is that you wear these as a pair. See the picture - which is the one on the pattern itself. I've linked it up a few paragraphs. 

I love the layered effect, and I think this is totally do-able with just about anything in my wardrobe. When (if) I get another full-time job, it'll be a great pair to layer in the air-conditioned space - just enough to keep the draft off your neck, but not too much, since I'm having my own "personal summers" lately! 

The alpaca lace yarn is wonderful to use; it's so fine that you - or at least, I - worry about the strength, but the ply is nice and firm and I can see how lovely it'll be once it's blocked out. Yep, it's a hot mess when you look at that "before" picture. But the "after" will be well-worth it. 

It'll probably take every square of my blocking panels, and I'm really happy that at the Knitting & Crochet Guild expo a few years ago, I splurged on lace blocking rods. I'll need them. 

Speaking of a Job...

I was lamenting to my brother that jobs for people with my skills are just NOT happening. The state Department of Employment Security (ha) keeps sending me notices for job fairs, and most of them are of the "forklift, material handler, assembler" variety. 

I am absolutely not saying that I'm not "worthy" of such jobs. 

I just can't drive a forklift. Somewhere in all my education, I've never had a chance to learn that. 

So, Brother says, "I'll teach you."

And you know what? I may take him up on that. I'm handy. I can at least take a stab at this. He taught me to shoot a handgun and drive a stick-shift. I taught him to write a coherent memo and how to interpret a musical score. This could work...

In an interview I had recently, I was asked the question, "Where do you see your career going?" In my head, I answered, "I want to ramp down and not travel all over God's Green Acre, and have a job with some security." 

But what I answered instead was, "As you can see by my resume, I've had some interesting twists and turns in my career. I've always thought that my best career opportunities came when I opened my mind to different possibilities. Since I've never worked in this sector, but I have the skills and competencies you're looking for, I thought that this would be a very interesting possibility for me."

Oy, the schmaltz... 

But it's true. My best jobs have come when I've thought, "Hmmmmmm. This sounds interesting." I'm hoping that this interview comes to something, but you just don't know. 

Otherwise, I'm gonna learn to drive a forklift. 

Random Picture...

Do you get it? 

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