Saturday, April 29, 2006

Swapping Obsessions?

I don't know the actual, clinical definition of OCD, (or Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder), and I don't want to know it, either, for fear of identifying too closely with the definition. Therefore, I will not Google it or look it up on Wikipedia.

But I may very possibly have it.

Oh, I don't wash my hands a hundred times a day. Only when appropriate -- you know, after visiting the restroom. After shopping and handling things a thousand other people have handled. After shaking the hand of someone with obvious cold or flu symptoms. After working in the garden. After handling money. After handling raw poultry. Before meals.

I also do not check the stove or the locks or the lights a thousand times, nor count things obsessively.

But what I DO do is, when I find a new hobby or interest, I become quite obsessed. Just ask my family. When I moved into this house almost twelve years ago, (yikes, that was a long time ago), within a year or two I discovered gardening. Look -- growing things! Look -- something I can do that doesn't require a companion! I quickly became sucked into the hobby, to the point of buying bookcases of books on the subject, joining online gardening groups and chat rooms, taking horticulture and landscape design classes, volunteering at the local botanical garden, putting in my mother's flower bed every year for Mother's Day, regularly visiting plant sales, flower shows, garden centers, home improvement stores, gardening websites, and anything else remotely related to the subject. And the catalogs. Oh, the catalogs. Not as bad as the books, but still....

The great thing about gardening is that because there are so many kinds of plants, there's always something new to learn - you can never know it all. And some grower is always coming out with a fancy new variety of something or other. There's always a new must-have gardening book out. Always something to keep you interested, and let's be honest, take your money.

The Great Big Greenhouse, a fantastic local garden center, used to be just down the street from me, and just a block from the grocery store. There were days when I only had enough money for either groceries or plants, but not both. As you may have guessed, I often chose the plants over the groceries. Somehow I never starved. Au contraire.

It's been this way for me for several hobbies, but to lesser degrees. There was the calligraphy obsession of my high school years. The photography obsession of my college years. More recently a mild obsession with collecting postcards. And there are still other interests that have fallen by the wayside - I just can't remember them all at the moment.

And then, last summer, I learned how to knit. And you know the rest, if you read this blog with any regularity.

I have vowed to not get as crazy about knitting books and yarn as I have been about gardening books and plants. And I think (hope) I can stick to that vow, for several reasons.

1) You can only physically knit on one project at a given moment in time. (Okay, if you're knitting two-socks-on-one-circular then that's two things, but they're still technically one project). With the one-project limitation, I can't justify too much yarn hoarding, (I think). It's not like gardening, where there's always room for one more plant out there, and once it's in the ground, you can basically ignore it. With plants, you can have thousands growing at once. With knitting, I'm uncomfortable when I have more than a few WIPs. I realize that some folks view yarn the way I view plants -- always room for more, you can ignore it once you stash it away, etc. I don't want to get that way, though -- not enough room in my house. And I don't want moths getting to the wool.

2) I may very well sour on knitting on some point down the road. Yes -- it could happen. Despite my rabid obsession in years past, I'm becoming a bit soured on gardening, as of late, what with last summer's drought, the too-mild winter, global warming and global dimming, the never-ending battle with the weather, heat, humidity, drought, dying plants, mosquitos, weeds, leaves and lawn guys. It's just doesn't seem worth the hassle anymore. All that effort for a few great weeks in April and May and lots of toil and disappointment the rest of the year.

So for now, it appears, that I've swapped obsessions. Knitting may be the "new yoga", but for me, it's the new gardening. And that makes me a little sad, to be honest. For years, gardening was my constant, steadfast (if abusive and co-dependent) companion, as it were. Now, it competes for my attention with everything else going on in my life, and it's losing out to my brand new shiny hobby. And just to make the choice even more difficult, the universe decides to hold America's biggest fiber festival on the same weekend as Richmond's best plant sale. What to do, what to do. Fortunately, the plant sale starts on Thursday, so I think I can hit it either Thursday or Friday, before heading out of town to mecca.

And then I have to find the time to plant everything in my flower beds. And buy the plants for my mom's garden. And plant my mom's garden. And water. And weed. And rake. It never ends.

Speaking of area plant sales, another great one was held today. And here's my modest haul:

For plant-by-plant details, go here.


And now I must go obsessively read some knitting blogs.... ;-)



Carine said...

How about "periodically enthused" instead of OCD? My DH is surprised I haven't taken up stain glass yet.

Suzanne said...

I know what you mean about obsessed! I tend to grab something and hang onto it very very very tightly....

Hey, we are all degrees of something. I'm not OCD either, but I really love the yarn.

See you at Panera!

M said...

This is more "passion," not OCD, so take heart. I'm almost positive that "passion" is not in the DSM-IV. Passions make one happy! And maybe also a little poor. But that's okay.

Krista said...

I can totally relate to this Mary! I can't even list all the idea/hobbies my husband has had to put up with over the years.

Calling Kahlo said...

It's not OCD, but I would agree it is passion, it is new, exciting and challenging. It helps when there is always something new you can learn and try. I wish I could garden, but most things I try to grow die. My 4 year old bamboo has recently become ill and looks to be losing its battle.

Kelli said...

I have used the exact same phraseology to explain away my hobbies - one of which is gardening. My husband can see the obsession coming from a mile away and before he (and I) know it, I am buried under books and blogs and supplies. Crochet (and soon knitting) is ramping up as we speak. One month and counting!

Bess said...

Do not be sad as one hobby fades and another begins to bloom. All of them have made you richer, more beautiful, and wiser. When you are finished with one some of it's magic will still sparkle around you.

Looking for that hug on Saturday.

jane said...

OK, no losing interest in knitting, or if you do, you will still have to attend TNK. We don't let you out of our group quite that easily! Sorry to miss all the fun this weekend, hope i see you tomorrow! Jane

Gingersnaps with Tea... said...

Hey Mary,
I agree, passion is the word you are looking for. I find my knitting passion and my gardening passion (yeah for things you can do alone!!!) co-habitate quite nicely together. The Calgary growing season is very short so I enjoy it while I can and then the rest of the year, I knit. I also have a seasonal passion with Rugby (April to July) but find that knitting works quite well with watching Rugby practices and games.