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The Mast-Head: Getting Better

Wed, 12/22/2021 - 11:23

It seems everyone took up at least one new thing during the pandemic. What with few or no social obligations and nowhere to go, we have tried to learn a fresh skill or do better at a familiar chore. Cleaning the kitchen has never been so interesting!

This has suited me fine, since it is difficult for me to sit still without doing something with my hands. The gray and drizzly early weeks of the lockdown seemed a great time to patch The Star’s cracking plaster and repaint the interior woodwork — decades of thumbtacks had given the trim a scabrous appearance. But, though I got fairly good at it, the job is less than half done, as I have moved on to other things.

Next came knitting, which I was terrible at first. My middle child, who has a preternatural gift for fabric arts, had to help me get going on my first few attempts. I have carried on, and between bouts of mopping the kitchen floor, have produced a hat or two of which I am satisfied.

Knitting is revealing in a way, too. Over the weekend I was in my usual place on the couch, working away, when yelling erupted in the house. Like a seismograph, the row I was working on recorded the moment precisely, as without noticing, I dropped a stitch or twisted something the wrong way. Evvy the Expert told me that I should go back and fix it; I said no, deciding to keep the bad spot as something to think about. Imperfection, after all, is the charm of handmade things, right?

It is interesting, the fork in the road that the tangle represents and what it doesn’t. In life, we never have the choice to reverse time and do it again. On our one-way trip, there is no equivalent to patching the woodwork, again and again, until the repair is no longer detected. All we can do is try harder the next time, learning to do better as we stumble along.

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