By Suzanne Sparrow Watson

I have been knitting since I was 14 years old.  It is a passion that has held me in good stead through my youthful dating years (more sweaters knit for undeserving boyfriends than I can count), marriage, divorce, singledom again, and re-marriage.  I have turned to knitting in good times and bad and the craft has not only provided me warmth and some Zen-like moments, but a whole host of friends with like-minded interests.  Only someone who also has a passion can understand the joy of immersing yourself in a hobby and learning everything you can about it.  I came to that realization a few years ago when I hosted a dinner party with people who also had a passion for something.  One guest was having a long conversation with a man about her horse show experiences when she suddenly said, “Oh, I’m so sorry.  I’m sure I’m boring you to death with this stuff.”  To which he replied, “No, I get it.  I love racing cars.  So while I don’t understand the horse show particulars, I can relate to anyone who has a passion.”  I’ve never forgotten that moment.  It was when I realized that it was less important what my hobby was than the fact that I had one, even if some people think of it as a “grandma” sport.

As I gave more thought to hobbies I decided it might be interesting to see how other people choose to spend their time – what tickles the imagination or gets people wound up.  I found the latest Harris Poll on the subject and the answer is so discouraging that I wish I could “un-know” it.  First of all, there is a wide definition of what constitutes a hobby.  For example, the number one hobby in the United States is reading.  Okay, I get that reading could be a hobby, especially if you are researching or have a particular interest in a subject matter.  But “reading” also included romance novels and magazines which, frankly, sound more like something one would do in the bathtub or while waiting for the clothes to come out of the dryer.  But at least “reading” has some virtue to it which was comforting because the second most popular hobby is “watching television”.  Wow.  Under that definition everyone who sits on a Barco lounger eating Doritos and drinking Miller Lite is taking part in their hobby.  I know people who have gotten divorced over one spouse spending too much time with their “hobby” during football season.

Gardening and fishing are also very popular, depending on the region of the country you live in, but “Computer” beat them both out.  I’d like to think that some people listed that as a pastime because they are learning about programming or graphic design.  I think the reality is that people are watching cat videos on You Tube or playing endless games of Candy Crush.  “Shopping” cracked the Top 15 in terms of hobbies but that also seems like cheating to me.  I think shopping falls into two categories:  1) things that are necessary like work clothes and groceries or 2) stuff we don’t need but buy because we’re bored/lured by a sale/haven’t hit the limit on the credit card yet.  Housework and sleeping were also on the list, which again, seem to be skirting the real definition of a hobby.  For many years my former company asked people to list their hobbies on the employment application and I can tell you that not once did anyone list “sleeping”, although we later found out the hard way that it was, in fact, their strong suit.

I’m glad that I have my knitting to sustain me.  I have a walk-in closet full of yarn and feel quite confident that in the event of a nuclear holocaust I will be able to remain in my home and entertain myself for weeks on end.  I have recently purchased a knitting machine which, despite how it sounds, is an entirely different craft and is keeping my feeble brain exercised in trying to master it.  Another reason I’m glad I knit is that I also golf.  As any golfer knows, the very act of swinging the club wreaks havoc on just about every body part.  So, as my knitter-golfer friends like to say, golfers who have no other passion are just one bad back – or rainy day – away from having nothing to do.  Maybe those guys on the PGA should learn how to knit.


By Suzanne Sparrow Watson

Rain, rain Go AWAY!

Rain, rain Go AWAY!

Those of us on the west coast had an odd experience this past week – wet stuff fell from the sky.  In buckets.  It would be foolish and terribly inappropriate of me to complain about the “El Nino effect” but for me, this lousy weather came at a most inopportune time.  As of last month, I became officially unemployed.  Each Wednesday for the past 13 years I have tottered off to the local yarn store to sell yarn, provide help and teach classes.  I loved my job and learned quite a bit over the years – a bit about knitting and a lot about people.  But the owner, who is 78, decided that she’d had enough of worrying about the business and decided to toss in the towel.  Now, you’re probably thinking, “Wow, 78!  No wonder she didn’t want to work anymore.”  But you would be wrong.  For the past 10 years (inspired by a happenstance viewing of “Dancing with the Stars”) she has been involved in ballroom dancing.  And not just slow-paced Viennese waltzes.  She goes for the Latin dances and participates in competitions all over the Western U.S.  So it wasn’t a lack of energy that caused her to close the store.  Regardless, I now have a day of the week that I have to fill.  This “extra” day, along with all of the rain this week that washed out my golf games, caused me to stay inside and finally face my demons: my unfinished projects.

Each spring I make a list of everything I want to accomplish over the summer when our weather is akin to a microwave oven.  Some of those projects roll over from year to year.  Okay, some roll over for a lot of years. Organizing thousands of photos, for instance.  But other items on the list are much more manageable.  So this week, trapped inside by Mr. Nino, I decided to tackle them.

Monday:  It hasn’t rained like this in ages!  At last I will get some “inside” work done.  I pull together all of our home improvement receipts for the past 15 years, put them into an Excel spreadsheet and figure out the cost basis of our home.  You subscribers who know me and have followed all of our major re-do’s on the house can appreciate just how daunting a task that was.  I finalize all of the paperwork for our tax return and file everything away.  At last I can check these items off the list.  I love this weather!

Is "1-2-3-4" too obvious?

Is “1-2-3-4” too obvious?

Tuesday:  Today I vow to finally clean up the piece of scratch paper containing all of my passwords.  I’d like to use the same password for everything because, frankly,  these days I only retain water.   Unfortunately, every company requires something just a bit different – consequently, my piece of scratch paper has become my memory.  Finally I organize it all and have it in a secure location even Dick Cheney would have trouble locating.  That was my morning.  I look out the window and it’s still sprinkling.  So I clean the house with a vengeance.  This weather is sure good for getting things done.

Wednesday:  I meet a friend for coffee and get home just as it starts to rain.  Dash the Wonder Dog, who will not set his princely foot on a wet surface, is now wondering what in the hell happened to our morning walks.  And just why am I home on a Wednesday?  How is a dog supposed to get any sleep, for cryin’ out loud?  Undaunted, I tackle my next “to do” – writing a piece for a class I’m teaching next week at the knitting guild.  This exercise actually has a dual purpose: I can use up all of the ink in my printer.  Last week I bought a new one but then realized that the old printer had a lot of ink left in it.  Ink cartridges, as we all know, are the modern-day equivalent to the old cell phone scam when they’d give you a phone for free but then charge you a month’s wage for the service.  So I wrote my piece, printed out 50 copies, and installed the new printer.  I am truly ready for the rain to stop.

W comes after V, right?

W comes after V, right?

Thursday:  I awake to what is now a familiar sound – rain battering against my bedroom window.  This is the rainiest day of all.  My dear husband suggests that we go to a movie, but then it is raining so hard we’re afraid the washes on the roads will fill and we won’t be able to get back home. Yes, living is Scottsdale is sometimes like living in the backwater of Montana.  So…what to do?  I finally hang a couple of pictures in my den bathroom that have been sitting there for four months.  I decide to play Candy Crush on my iPad. Three hours later I rouse from my stupor.  I saunter into the kitchen and re-alphabetize my already alphabetized spice rack down to the third letter.  My normally pleasing personality is turning just the slightest bit sociopathic.  If this rain doesn’t stop soon someone is going to get hurt.  I think it’s me.

Friday:  Have I mentioned that my husband is home all day with me?  Every. Single. Day.  He did go out earlier in the week to get me Starbucks, which gained him about a million husband points.  But still.  It’s a lot of togetherness.  He is spending his days watching You Tube videos of road trips we have taken or want to take. I am in my pajamas contemplating just how much Vicodin I have saved up over the years.  I HATE this rain!

Finally, finally, it dries out and once again we see the sun.  The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration just declared that El Nino has peaked and the worst is over.  Thank God…I’ve run out of projects and patience . And Vicodin.