Happy New Year & New Term!

Just before Christmas the snow fell fast and deep here in Pittsburgh, right on que for a picture post card white Christmas. Consequently my new year is starting out cold and frosty, snow-covered, and rather quiet. Despite the tempting snow it’s much too cold for Jelly Bean and I to play outside, so we’re snuggling in and enjoying my two favorite kinds of quiet. There is a particular kind of quiet that comes after the bustle of the holiday season, and another kind of quiet that follows heavy snow fall, especially in rural communities like mine. There is nothing like a blanket of snow to put a hush over our little world. When the holidays are over, and the household settles back into a mundane routine, ordinary days seem very quiet in comparison. Even my husband is off on his usual business travels leaving Jelly Bean and me with this quiet house to ourselves. For me, it’s the perfect time to start really thinking about 4 units worth of reading, and how I am going to approach this work.

There is nothing like a good read and a good think. Several things help me to think, like rearranging furniture and other, more elaborate, household projects. Over a few decades of marriage I have established a pretty consistent record of implementing household projects each time my husband travels for business. Especially in the winter. All that quiet, thinking time is very stimulating, and so is doing some physical work. What a killer combination, time to think, physical exertion, and no one to argue against the task. The memory of a few projects, like the infamous French Door installation of ‘92, or attempting to steam off close to 200 years of wall paper in one old house, helps me set reasonable limits and expectations for my current efforts.

But efforts are always rewarded in one way or another. To commemorate this trip I bought an antique baby grand piano on E-Bay. The piano was serendipity. It was in Ohio, just a few hours away. The internet makes things too easy sometimes. Situating this wonderful instrument required rearranging 4 rooms of furniture. That equals one room rearranged for each unit I am studying. Perfect. The piano is now in my favorite room, in front of several windows looking onto our snow-covered garden. It is right beside my homework and studying desk, and the sofa where Jelly Bean likes to take her naps. I rearranged my work studio to accommodate the piano. The project has a great unintended benefit, like more space for my drafting table and computer work station in the adjoining room. This is a great thinking space, which is wonderfully useful because there is so much to think about this term.

This year there is a lot to think about because it finally feels like I can be objective about my study process, pick and choose, and direct my outcomes. That is an awesome feeling. For me, studying and exams really are a creative process, like art and music. It opens the chance to contribute something to the conversation. The quiet time, furniture re-arranging and other projects are part of my process for working out ideas. For me, embracing this process is incredibly valuable. There are usually unintended consequences, like how rearranging for a piano resulted in my studio becoming more functional. Quietly contemplating this process and opportunity makes me realize just how much work I have ahead of me the next few months, what is reasonable to attempt and why, and how exciting it is. Happy New Year and New Term!

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