Sunday, September 26, 2010

Worlds Enough and Time

by Nancy

The poet Andrew Marvell coined that phrase, "worlds enough and time," in the poem "To His Coy Mistress," in which the narrator urges the lady to join him in seizing their pleasures like "amorous birds of prey." I admit I had to look up the phrase to see where it came from and was surprised by the context. I've often heard it but not applied to affairs of the heart. It often strikes me in places like Michaels. Or Home Depot. Or Idea Island. I can wander around any of those places for hours.

I'm not skilled at crafts, as many of the banditas are. I have about as much experience with a glue gun as with a howitzer, which is to say none, and the thought of handling either makes me vaguely nervous. At least with the hotwitzer, I could presumably blow up something. Maybe even whatever I was trying to hit. The glue gun, I fear, would result only in a mess. Still, I'm happy to wander the aisles of Michaels. When I take the boy there to buy material for school projects, I drift through the store admiring colored paper and silk flowers and fake gemstones and canvases and paints and frames and think what pretty things could be made with them. By someone else.

I last visited Michaels to buy cellophane wrap and a basket for the Lair's offering in the RWA raffle. They had no baskets that were both large and pretty. I called Cassondra since she had volunteered to take what I found and arrange the various contributions in an artistic and appealing manner, as Beth did last year.

"Try the storage boxes," she said.

"They're all tiny," I told her.

"No, no, in another part of the store. Look in keepsakes."

Between me and the keepsakes section were lots of fake flowers, pretty vases, jewelry kits, etc., all very appealing. I'm sure Cassondra learned way more than she cared to know about that particular store's offerings. I did eventually find the boxes, but we decided they weren't big enough. The pubbed banditas have many, many books among them and contributed quite a few to the raffle. (For those who care, I eventually found a suitable basket at Tuesday Morning, which did not have project supplies but did have bargains, always appealing to those of us of Scots-Irish descent.)

There's just so much potential in Michaels. It ignites my imagination. I can just see those lovely craft projects all finished, gracing a sideboard or a bookcase in our house. Only my awareness of the steps between vision and completion, and of my ineptness therewith, restrains me.

Someday, when I have worlds enough and time, I'm going to become good at crafts. I am. It would be very satisfying. In junior high and high school, I made a lot of my clothes, and I loved doing it. Fabric stores were every bit as enthralling as Michaels, and I knew what I was doing with the sewing thing. I could set in a sleeve and make a zipper lie flat. The last garment I made was a bridesmaid dress with ruffles at neck and hem, eight yards of fabric in the skirt, and a sheer overdress. It was pretty, it turned out well, if I do say so, and I was proud to wear it down the aisle.

Of course, I used to say I was going to become a really good cook someday, and then I married the dh, who not only already was a really good cook but enjoyed it. He still does. I do not enjoy it. Unless it's baking and chocolate is involved (and the Evil Soft Ball Stage is not).

Then there's Home Depot, another wellspring of imagination-igniting potential. I'm pretty decent with a saw, a hammer, and a tape measure. I know how to use a level. My father had only daughters, and he saw no reason we should not assist with his various projects. Plus I love the opportunities for redecorating, the idea of replacing, say, the cheapo sink unit in the boy's bathroom with something nicer (but still prefab since none of us has the skills to make such a thing). Budget's the issue there, rather than time, but we'll get to it one of these days. We've put home improvements on hold in favor of tuition, but that bathroom's at least going to be painted before he leaves home.

Then there's Idea Island, the place writer brains go when a story idea strikes. I have more ideas than I have time to write. Lots of writers do. Believe it or not, I even have some ideas that do not involving anything blowing up. But I have to step back from them, write down just enough to preserve them, and keep my focus, or I'd never get anything done.

Yet those ideas tend to spin a web at idle moments--when I'm washing dishes or folding laundry or waiting in a checkout line. And some of them pop up again, insistently, when I'm stuck on the wip. And sometimes they fit. Those are truly great moments. Like putting on, for the first time, a finished garment you've made. Or finishing the clasp on a necklace you've created (I imagine) or driving the last nail into something you've built.

I would love to do all those things. Had I but worlds enough and time.

What would you learn to do (or return to doing) if you had worlds enough and time?


Linda Henderson said...

Is he mine again?

Linda Henderson said...

I've always wanted to learn to quilt. However I have severe RA and my hands don't always work good and tire easily so that's not in the cards for me. However, as long as my hands work to hold my books I'll be happy.

Helen said...

Well done Linda he does enjoy it at your place have fun


I too am hopeless at crafty things and never have been any good I used to knit a lot once but don't have the time to do it any more what with work grandkids and of course the books I have to read I used to cook a fair bit as well but even though I still do I don't do it as much as I used too either.

I am not sure there is something that I would like to learn at the moment or get back too the only thing I really want to do is have more time to read LOL

Have Fun

barb said...

Congrats Linda... enjoy GR

Hi Nancy..... I can't say I need more time as I am retired now and have all the time I want... mind you there are still things I leave to the last minute....I spend my time sewing whether it be patchwork,making bags or making my clothes...I spend 3 days a week sewing with friends..... some days I just read LOL. I am off on a 4 day sewing retreat in 10 days time woo hoo

Nancy said...

Linda, congrats on the bird!

I'm sorry about the RA. I admire quilters. Making a quilt takes so much time and patience, and designing it seems like such a challenge to me. I like jigsaw puzzles, and quilts seem much the same to me.

Anonymous said...

I used to do counted cross stitch, but quit because it was getting harder on my eyes! LOL And I still love to go on "hunting and gathering" missions for scrapbook supplies, even though I don't use them as much.

I think wandering through the craft aisles is stimulating and inspiring for the brain though -- it gives the brain a little recharge for when I get back to writing. :) That's my story and I'm stickin' to it!


Nancy said...

Helen, my mother was a great knitter and made many beautiful sweaters and layette sets. I never could wrap my brain around it, though.

As you and Linda pointed out, there's always reading to pass the time!

Nancy said...

Hi, Barb--Your sewing retreat sounds like great fun. I sort of miss sewing. I could make teenager clothes, but I never tried business clothes, like jackets with lapels and rolled collars, which look much more difficult to me.

Have fun on your retreat!

Gillian Layne said...

Nancy, what a pleasure it was to read this post. Beautifully written.

My DH is between jobs, and I've been encouraging him to take this time and look at it as an unexpected gift of time, so that he can enjoy his hobbies of photography and astronomy. He loves them both, and so do our girls, so it's great fun to see what they can accomplish together.

I love to make wreaths. Hot glue guns are fun! :) I wish I knew how to sew.

Anna Sugden said...

Lovely post, Nancy, and one I identify with whole-heartedly. I think for me it is a combination of time and ability *g* - not enough of either!

I love the idea of scrap-booking and would love to learn how to do it properly. Ditto flower-arranging. I know with both of those what looks good, but the execution never matches the idea!

But, I have a plan I come up with the ideas and my extremely craft-y and talented step-d can take care of the execution!

I'd also love to go to a chef's class and learn how to do some of the basic things like chopping!

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

I sometimes wish I could get back into sewing, once upon a time all of my clothes and my daughters were hand sewn. I still have my super machine, serger and cutting table. The two machines would have to be serviced and finding someone to do that could be difficult.

I used to do a lot of embroidery too, and cross stitch, I like the embroidery because it doesn't require the special material and I could decorate what I had done.

Rebekah E. said...

I would love to learn to paint. I do alot of different crafts but painting is one thing that I would love to do. I just don't see the colors the way artists seem to.

Sheree said...

If I had the time, I'd finish all the partially done projects in the garage and in storage. There are too numerous to mention. I'd also do something with the piece of purpleheart before it's no longer purple.

jo robertson said...

Ah, Nancy, you hit on one of my all-time favorite poets and poems. I had so much fun with my AP students teaching "To His Coy Mistress."

Okay, teacher moment -- the key is in the word "coy" because the speaker is trying to get the object of his affection into bed. He basically says that if he had time he'd spent hundreds of years praising her eyes, her breasts (the kids love that one!), etc., but since "time's winged charioit" is moving forward, they have to basically make hay while the sun shines.

It's a delightful poem with its hyperbole, but the seriousness comes at the end when he says that time's always moving foward and they must take their pleasures while they can, that they cannot "stop the sun," but they can give him a run for his money ("though we cannot make our sun / stand still, yet we will make him run").

TMI, LOL? Love that poem and the whole carpe diem philosophy of it!

jo robertson said...

And Linda, congrats on capturing the rooster. I love to quilt too, but you're right that RA and stiff finger joints make it hard.

Helen, I know what you mean. Reading is becoming my go-to pasttime. I'm not so sure this old dog can learn new tricks LOL, although I would love to learn to make divinty. Mine always, always turns out awful.

jo robertson said...

Barb, that sounds like so much fun, a sewing retreat! How is that organized? I've never heard of such a thing.

I used to sew lots (more from lack of money than joy), but I was only average at it. I lack the spatial intelligence that truly good seamstresses have.

jo robertson said...

Allaboutthewriting said, "LOL And I still love to go on "hunting and gathering" missions for scrapbook supplies, even though I don't use them as much."

I agree! Sometimes it's more fun shopping for stuff and doing the craft. I finally had to get rid of all my crafting supplies -- hundreds of dollars worth -- because I just didn't have time any more.

jo robertson said...

Gillian, I so admire people that have an eye for photography. It seems like such a rewarding hobby.

Nancy, forgot to say the post was beautifully written. Thanks for sharing those thoughts with us!

jo robertson said...

Anna S. said, "I'd also love to go to a chef's class and learn how to do some of the basic things like chopping!"

ME TOO! I'm a fairly decent cook, but no one ever taught me how to chop without nicking my fingers! I always have cuts from the chopping thing and admire those chefs on the cooking shows who chop with such speed and accuracy.

jo robertson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jo robertson said...

Dianna, it sounds like you have quite a number of handcraft skills. I admire that.

Rebekah, at first I thought you meant paint like painting walls LOL. That's a skill too, I suppose. I know what you mean about artistic painting, though. I always wanted to water-color. I love the soft, blurry lines of that medium.

jo robertson said...

Sheree said, " I'd also do something with the piece of purpleheart before it's no longer purple."

Explain, please, for those of us who don't know what purpleheart is LOL. I keep thinking of the medal given American soldiers.

Oh, and your garage sounds like it's related to my garage LOL.

Louisa Cornell said...

Congrats, Linda. Watch the GR. He is definitely a CRAFTY fellow and not in a good sense.

Nancy, what a lovely post!

If I had the time I would go back to my quilting and cross-stitching. Both have always been very therapeutic for me, but all of my spare time goes into my writing at present.

I would love to learn to do stained glass. The results are always so amazing and I would love to learn that skill.

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Linda, people are starting to talk!

Nancy, love the post! I know exactly what you mean. You see all that STUFF and just decide you have to do something with it. Fortunately my Visa card is saved by the fact that I can't even cut a straight line. Crafts R NOT us in Campbellandia!

Actually I've got a list of classic books I want to read one day. Moby Dick. Crime and Punishment. The Scarlet and the Black. Giving Dickens another go (this is something I have actually tried several times but I just don't like the books of his I've read - yeah, I know, howls of horror!).

There's lots of things I'd like to study in depth. Fine arts in particular. A bit more European history. Comparative religions. Other stuff! Suspect I won't manage a lot of them.

There's lots of places I'd love to see but I think I've basically decided it's not going to happen. I need another lifetime!

Something I WILL do one day is study a couple of other languages. The mother of a good friend of mine always wanted to learn Russian - she started studying it when she was 80 and has since been to Russia a couple of times with her classes to practice her skills there. How cool is that?

Oh, and I love the poem! It's such an evocative phrase, isn't it?

Anna Campbell said...

Oh, and I'd love to learn to play the harp! No idea why but it's been on the list since I was a little girl. Maybe I'm more angelic than anyone knows ;-)

Louisa Cornell said...

La Campbell, you and I should learn Russian together. I studied it in grad school and used to speak it fairly well, but years and mileage on the old brain have eroded I am sure. The thing about a language is that if you don't use it, you lose it. Several other things you can lose if you don't use come to mind, but we'll keep it clean as it IS Sunday. Good on your friend's Mum for taking it on!

Anna Campbell said...

Louisa, you're on! I agree about the use it or lose it thing with languages (and other things, LOL!). But my experience is that if you then go back to it, you can revive the memory cells! I got to a point in Italian where I could carry on a (admittedly broken) conversation. Wouldn't have a hope of doing that now.

Nancy said...

Allaboutthewriting (Donna)--that's exactly it! The wandering does stimulate my brain.

Years ago, I did some cross-stitching but not the really beautiful kind where you have a blank piece of linen and figure out where all the stitches go. I didn't have the patience for it. I'll bet you've done some beautiful pieces.

Nancy said...

Gillian, thank you. Your dh is into photography and astronomy? What a great combination. I used to read Astronomy magazine, back when I lived in a place dark enough to see a fair number of stars at night. I liked to go out in the parking lot and pick out the constellations.

Does he ever take photos through the telescope?

So you're one of those who know how to handle a glue gun? You probably know what you're looking at in places like Michaels. I envy you that.

Nancy said...

Anna, isn't it weird the way people on TV chop so fast with their knuckles sticking out? I like to watch Top Chef so I can cook vicariously. When the dh is in our little kitchen, with one or two retrievers, depending on the number in residence at the time, it's a pretty full room!

I envy you the step-d who can execute your schemes. I can't see the boy cooperating in that.

I have friends who make gorgeous scrapbooks. I enjoy looking at them, but I know I don't have their patience.

Nancy said...

Dianna, if there's a Singer shop or a Sears near you, they might be able to service your machines. I think embroidering on what you had made would be a beautiful, special finishing touch.

The dh reminded me that the bridesmaid dress was not the last thing--a Halloween costume for the boy was, but I forgot about it because I had to borrow a machine to do it. Mine hadn't been used in so long that it would've required extensive servicing, as yours would, and I couldn't see that for making one thing.

Nancy said...

Rebekah, I so agree with you about the way artists see colors. They put together colors I would never think to combine, and the result is gorgeous. I would like to paint, too.

I used to do pencil drawings, but it takes me forever to get the perspective right. I haven't tried anything like that in years.

Nancy said...

Sheree, I hear you on the partially finished projects. We have a lot of those around here!

Nancy said...

Jo, thanks for the insight into the poem. As a history major, I managed to avoid studying such things, but I'm always interested now that there's no grade riding on it.

Nancy said...

Jo, glad you liked the post. Thanks.

Nancy said...

Louisa, thank you. Quilting and cross-stitching yield such beautiful things, but they do keep the hands busy. The mind, too, if you're trying to do an intricate stitch or piece things together just so, I imagine.

I used to work next to a stained glass shop. That man made beautiful things, and I did a lot of Christmas and birthday shopping there, even if the big pieces were beyond my price range.

I have a couple of stained glass pieces, including a green dragon, a friend made for me, and I treasure them. She also paint and writes--a very artistic person all around.

Her site is:

Nancy said...

I forgot to say that Carol Strickland painted me as my favorite super-heroine for my law school graduation, and that picture hangs in our stairwell.

Nancy said...

Anna C., thanks. Sounds as though you and I share a lack of craft-ish talent.

I would also love to learn other languages. I took Latin in high school and, wanting a language people actually spoke, French in college, but that's it. I once had an ambition to learn Russian but decided anything involving an unfamiliar alphabet was off the table.

The dh loves Dickens, but I can't get into his books either. We do read "A Christmas Carol" every year, though.

Nancy said...

Anna, just saw your harp post. I think the harp would be really cool to play, especially the Celtic harp. I suspect it's difficult, though, compared to something like piano or clarinet or flute. Or even guitar, which the boy has been learning. Harps do make beautiful music.

Nancy said...

Louisa, how cool that you took Russian! Were you hoping to perform in Russia, or were you just interested in the language?

Louisa Cornell said...

Nancy, my German professor in grad school actually talked me into taking Russian for a couple of years so he could fill the class. Once I started I did find it expanded my repertoire as I was able to take on songs and arias by people like Stravinksy, Glinka and Shostakovich and perform them in their original language.

Gillian Layne said...

Nancy, he does take pictures through his telescope. He attaches the camera and has all sorts of things going on I don't understand one bit, but the results are amazing.

I like point and click cameras, myself. :)

Nancy said...

Louisa, you took German?! Wow. That, too, is a complicated language. At least Latin and French had common roots.

Interesting that your study of the language fed into your operatic skills. I've heard historians say the only way to really study history is to read primary sources in their original languages--and even then, you have to know what the issues where, what weighed on people's minds, when the documents were written.

Nancy said...

Gillian, how neat that your dh takes photos through the telescope! I have a film SLR that gets very little use anymore though it took better pictures, in some ways, than the digital point-and-shoot I now use. But I never learned about filters and effects. I had a college friend who took truly gorgeous pictures in all types of light, and I admire that skill.

Christine Wells said...

What a great blog, Nancy! That quote always seemed wildly romantic to me, because Damerel quotes it to Venetia in one of my favourite books of all time. Sigh!

I can *so* identify with you on the craft aspect. I love the idea of making things but am too impatient to put it into practice. And it's a bit like that Groucho Marx quote that he wouldn't want to belong to a club that would have him as a member--I wouldn't want to put something I made on the mantelpiece! You lost me when you talked about your sewing prowess, though. OMG, I will never be a seamstress!

But if I had worlds enough and time, I'd learn to paint. I've always wanted to do it but in my family we firmly told ourselves we were *not* creative people. It wasn't until adulthood that I realized if I concentrated hard enough on my subject, I could actually draw. I'd love to write all the books in my head, too. There are about 8 of them dancing around my head at the moment, a six book romance series, plus a couple in other genres. But I'll get to them all one day. Not so sure about the painting, though!

Congrats on the rooster, Linda!

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Nancy, I too love to wander the aisles of Michaels and Hobby Lobby. And I do crafting. Right now I have two scrapbooks going for Christmas presents for my daughters of my newest grandchildren, (having done one for the older ones), a bed sized afghan for my son, and a cross-stitch Christmas stocking for one of the grandbabies, (a tradition as the whole family each has one). But there is one craft I wish I could return to, but turly haven't the time.


I adore quilts, the history of them, the geometric designs, the intricate ways they're hand...and hand. I have two weddingring pattern quits my mother bought for me.

I've taken classes and made several small hand pieced quilts. I've helped my mother make a king-sized cathedral quilt. I've machine stitched two tops to quilts, but never gotten around to hand quilting them into the final product.

Nancy said...

Christine, is the book that quotes Marvell, by any chance, Heyer's Venetia? If so, I'll have to go look for that.

I think it's great you discovered you could draw. I hope you do get those painting lessons, and I'd love to read those books!

Nancy said...

See, Suz, you are one of those craft-skilled banditas, and I envy you those skills. Quilting seems to be very time-intensive, what with piecing everything together, figuring out how it fits, and then doing the actual quilting. I hope you have time someday to finish those two you've started.

Pissenlit said...

Play the violin. I picked it up in junior high but when I hit high school, we were only allowed one elective and visual arts won out. Had I only known that if I'd picked music, the year after, I could've had both(apparently, it didn't work the other way around). Bleh. :)

catslady said...

I use to do all kinds of crafty things. Taught myself to knit and crochet (easier), needlepoint, sketching, jigsaw puzzle and crosswords, handmade ornaments, ceramics etc. Now I seem to spend that time on the computer. At least I still read lol.

LindaC said...

I love to learn how to play the piano. I'd also like to learn to knit. Sometimes I really feel the urge to do something with my hands and knitting, I think, would satisfy that urge.


Nancy said...

Pissenlit, maybe you can get back to the violin one day. It seems to me, like the harp, to be a very instrument.

Nancy said...

Hi, Catslady. You've mastered quite a few crafts. I love jigsaw puzzles and crosswords, too, but I would never try to create one, just work them.

Nancy said...

LindaC, my mom always said knitting kept her hands busy. Now that I think about it, I believe she took it up seriously when she quit smoking. I wonder if that was why, to keep her hands occupied.

Laurie Faelan said...

Nancy, I love that poem!

I do some crafting especially around Christmas time but like you love to roam Michaels and not craft, I love to read cookbooks and not cook. I never could figure why I enjoy them so much.

As for what I wish I could do, I want to:

Learn to play the Irish fiddle and Celtic Harp (like Loreena McKennitt ;)

Learn a foreign language

Learn to quilt and join a quilting group

Study Aikido

Study jewelry design

LOL, I could probably think of many more.

Lovely post! I enjoyed reading!

Nancy said...

Laurie, glad you liked the post. Your list has a lot in common with the choices of other people around here. You and I are obviously kindred spirits. I, too, read cookbooks (and watch The Food Network and Top Chef) but do not cook!

I love Loreena McKennitt and sometimes write to her music.

Sheree said...

Jo, purpleheart is a type of wood from the tropical rain forests of Central and South America that is purple until the surface oxides, Then it's not purple anymore, just regular brown. Of course, I would also need to find a face mask to work with it as the saw dust can be hazardous (many of these tropical woods are that way, including others in my garage: cocobolo, wenge, and bocote).