Dawkins, in The Ancestor’s Tale, has been going on about birds and fishes and amphibians, so I have not been as fascinated as usual. I just don’t find those creatures as interesting as mammals. I think we may get to insects pretty soon, and then I will doubtless be fascinated again.

Not that there haven’t been some great moments. I loved it when he referenced A. Fink-Nottle on newts, for example. Since he does not anywhere explain, this remains an inside joke. If you are not familiar with Fink-Nottle yourself, you can read some Wodehouse here. You will then perhaps be as great a fan as I am.

The part where he quotes a poem “to be read in a plaintive New Zealand accent” is also appealing. I have heard Sighkey’s very charming but not plaintive NZ accent, so I can almost imagine it. And I did like the part about this creature: the lacy dragon fish.

So today I must finish redoing the lost encyclopedia article and do errands. Then I intend to complete the Olympic Knitting project by making its lining. I also plan to put in the zipper for my skirt. Assuming that I succeed at that, I will then do the waistband and tomorrow I’ll hem it. I have The Merchant of Venice to watch while I do all this sewing, assuming that my menfolks will agree to give up watching the 857th showing of Rocky. I do not know for a fact that Rocky is on TV today, but I assume that it is, because it seems always to be on. In fact, it appears to me that there are five movies which are shown in a continuous loop on all the stations. I could be wrong about this.

It is a somewhat pitiful fact that this week’s sewing adventures will increase my wardrobe enormously. Last year, I was surprisingly successful at Overcoming Agoraphobia (you would have been amazed at how normally I behaved about driving in last week’s winter weather, if you knew me before), but the fact remains that there are some very normal things that are very difficult for me. Driving on freeways, making appointments, and shopping are three of them.

For years, I took care of all my clothes-shopping needs by going, on my birthday each year, to the Land’s End website and buying the same three articles of clothing. Different sizes and colors, but the same three items every year. I suppose I had ordered them once, back when I had already stopped shopping at the mall but was still paying attention to catalogs. And then, having done that once, I found it possible to repeat it. I now realize that one pair of pants and two tops is an unusually small annual clothes shopping list for an American woman, but that is what I did.

Then I would just wear them till they disintegrated. Now, I have a fairly physical job — I am always on ladders or on the floor or lifting boxes or climbing around things — so the trousers become seriously shabby in a year or two, but the tops hang on for quite a while. So I have the same garment in different colors, which is perhaps only slightly eccentric — but also in different sizes. Actually, four different sizes, only one of which actually fits. And I continue to wear all of them. It occurred to me, as I was fitting the skirt, that this was a trifle odd. So last night I went and put away the ones that are too big for me, to go to Goodwill. This leaves me with exactly nine pieces of clothing. When I complete my sewing this weekend, I will have a dozen pieces of clothing, which is as you can see a great increase.

Since I am, apart from my little agoraphobia problem, a reasonable person, I find it strange that I do not notice these things. That is, I have gone around for years not merely wearing the same garment all the time, but actually wearing completely different sizes of these garments from one day to the next, and never considering that this was unusual behavior. No one has ever said anything to me about it, either. It is one thing to be unconcerned about clothing, but it strikes me that this borders on the eccentric.

One part of the Overcoming Agoraphobia program was telling people about the ailment. I remember that my very closest friends were astonished to learn that I was rarely able to get all the way through my grocery list before I had to escape from the store (I can now usually make it through the list, by the way). And that I never drive on freeways (although I have now done so — admittedly, in abject terror the whole time, but I have done it several times in the past year). I guess these are not things that you would necessarily notice about someone. But I suppose the normal people around me must have noticed the extreme limitations of my wardrobe.

I have not actually bought a piece of clothing since last March. I haven’t gone to the mall since then, either. Along here sometime I am going to do it, though. I am working my way up to it. I think that my success with Overcoming Agoraphobia is impermanent. I am always likely to slip back into being unable to do things if I do not force myself to do those things. My trip to the mall was in a sense a cheat, because I took my daughter with me. Agoraphobes can often do things they are averse to if they have someone along with them. I have not gone to the mall by myself since… maybe 1987?

Thinking back over the past year, I find that I have gone into only half a dozen stores by myself, counting the grocery and the butcher’s shop. I don’t know how many stores a person normally would enter during a year, but I have a feeling that my total might be a bit low.

Now, being able to go to stores doesn’t seem desirable to me, and maybe it doesn’t seem like much of a goal to you, either. But the thing about agoraphobia is that it is a progressive boxing in. So the number of things you cannot do gets bigger and the number of things you can do gets smaller. And smaller. And I think that I will always have to make an effort to keep pushing at the edges, if you see what I mean, or I will find myself boxed in.

I don’t know why going to the Performing Arts Center with 1400 preschoolers doesn’t trigger my aversions and going to the mall does. There is a Mardi Gras parade today, which I probably will not be able to persuade my husband or sons to attend with me. Perhaps I will go by myself. (You may laugh here, if you like. But you know, thinking about it is more than I would have done last year. It’s a good thing I have plenty of friends and family, even if they won’t go to parades with me. Otherwise I might simply never leave home.)

But right now I am going to pull out a sewing book and refresh my memory on putting in zippers. And contemplate what to do with my handmade sweaters which no longer fit.