Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Hollering into the void

It all started when I spilled my tea on my stat sheet....not the recommended way to get caffeine into one's system...or maybe it began when I had to claw my way out of bed.  I saw this Calvin & Hobbes cartoon once.  Calvin was trying to get out of bed, and his blanket kept grabbing him and wrestling him back into bed.  This happened for three frames, until the final one, where his mother, off frame, calls out to him, "Calvin!  Get up!  You'll be late for school!"  To which he replies, "I'm trying!"  That picture came to mind this morning, when if felt like my quilt was also wrestling me back to a warm bed, aided & abetted by my pillow and my teddy bear/body pillow.  I'm so glad I live so close to work...I punched in at one minute to!

Every now & again, I have a day where I blunder through it seemingly aimlessly, running into things, dropping stuff, forgetting stuff.  A Keystone cops' kind of day, if you know your silent film icons at all.  I told a coworker, who's birthday I KNOW is tomorrow, well, today I said happy birthday to her.  After spilling tea on my stat sheet.  After over brewing it cause I forgot about it (I prefer tea brewed to perfection, not so long you could dance on top of it!)  After nearly dropping two breakable dishes of potluck offerings (at least got that day right!).  I decided right then & there to stick to non-breakable mugs for the remainder of the day.  And not attempt to repair anything.

It's the kind of day to stick to routine, to established routes, and simple recipes. And hope I survive.

I figure that if I'm on a roller-coaster kind of day, I might as well enjoy the ride, and laugh at the funny parts, even if I'm in the middle of them.  And I did.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

A Poem

I haven't written poetry in years, but I used to use it to write myself out of depressive moods.  This was my first attempt to literally change my mood from dark to light within a poem itself.  Since I find myself fighting such a mood again, I thought I'd share this with you.  I've gotten two reactions from it when I've shown it to others once before--one thought I needed serious counseling.  The other found it hilarious.  See what you think...

A Change

Tumultuous tidings herald the day, dismal tone set within,
A veritable requiem of death, fraught with murky images,
Despair slowly creeps slimy fingers 'round a cheerful heart,
Stifling, squeezing, crushing the pale fragment of life within,
Light quickly diminishes; the air, a thick, unbreathable mist,
Sadness takes stranglehold; hope falls into misty void....

But wait....

Brief shaft of brightness pierces the veil of cloudy despair,
Offering freedom, the fragmented shell within, dismal void.
Frantically clutching, straining, for soul-reaching light,
Creative heart struggles, misses, grasps again, success!

Bathing in beauteous light, on gentle breath of fragrant song,
Misery-laden wings shake of misty chains, take flight,
Soaring free, joyously buoyed by perfumed winds.....
Gaining thunderous speed, races towards friend-filled horizons.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The View from Beside the Fence

There I sat, parked by the side of a fence in the employee area of Ren Faire, being serenaded by heart pounding drums, and voices raised in song.  When that faded away, I heard my favorite sound--a single bagpipe playing Amazing Grace.  At the second verse, he was joined by drums and a chorus of other bagpipers.  The wondrous sound lifted up through the grove and towards the heavens.

I was waiting to pick up my daughter, who's part of the talented resident cast of Holly's Renaissance Faire. She spends her weekends working (some would say playing) in the Children's Dell, as Wildflower, the fairy. 

I listened to the drums, as they pounded out a rhythm that had me dancing in my seat, I was people watching.  What I saw was a complete juxtaposition betwixt the Renaissance and our modern age.  I watched as gypsy dancers walked by, the coin bedecked belts around their toned waists jingling with every step.  They climbed into a SUV.  I saw several pirates heading out, carrying oars, treasure trunks and swords.  I watch in amazement as one pirate playfully threatened several village folk, who were trying to drive off in a mud splattered jeep.  Then two other pirates drove off on a motorcycle.  Next I saw a group of peasant dancers walked by, one in earnest conversation on her cell phone.  Another was listening and head bopping to the music on her mp3 player. I saw a tiny fairy lugging a huge suitcase.

What I noticed the most was a general sense of camaraderie.  Cast members called out to one another.  Many hugs were joyfully exchanged.  I especially enjoyed watching a mixed group of village women, pirates and a stray gypsy, who stopped to admire an elderly pirates full flowing white beard.  Picture a fit version of Santa, dressed as a Renaissance pirate.  His beard was quite impressive.  And apparently, soft.

I've heard stories from my daughter, but now I've seen the truth of the big hearted, caring group of people who make up the resident cast of our Renaissance Faire.  Hope to see you there this weekend!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Joy of Monotony

I know. It's a weird blog title.  But it makes sense.  Bear with me for a moment. 

I enjoy creating with my hands.  Obviously, I like to write, both on a keyboard, and on a white legal pad using a hand made pen, infused with Scottish magic.  But that's another blog....

I also love to crochet, as can be shown by the picture to the left.  It started out as a normal scarf, to be worn with a long denim winter coat I owned.  The scarf grew, seemingly on it's own, to the proper, perhaps even normal length for a long scarf.  By then, I was enjoying myself far too much, and inspired by the 4th Doctor, had to continue on until it was long enough to wear touching below both knees and looped generously around my neck.  I regretfully no longer own that wondrous coat, but the scarf of legends remains.  It's very useful.  It can be used as a hat, or wrapped around my arms, as a band to sweep snow off a car.

I also love to braid denim into a rug, hand sew, and cross stitch.  I dabble in embroidery.  But the lure of yarn is always there.  I don't even know how to read a pattern...I just continue on, making square or rectangular things.  I know my children are afraid I'll slipcover the entire building in crochet.

What do all these things have in common?  Repetitive motion with the hands.  Saying that sounds, well, monotonous.  And it is.  But that's a good thing.  Why?

When I pick up my latest crochet project (a lap blanket), and begin, a sense of peace falls.  I am lulled by the repeated motion.  Stick the hook into the back loop.  Twist the yarn around. Pull it through. And so on.  Rinse, repeat.  This lulling motion allows my mind to drift.  I either watch tv (sci fy channel), or talk to a friend, or simply think.  Crafting with my hands is my best thinking time.  It's very relaxing.  I'm certain my heart rate lowers. 

Try it sometime...pick up a repetitive motion craft.  It doesn't have to be 'girly'.  I've worked on hand sewing while a friend worked on making chain mail.  By hand.  It involved wire, snips, and some muscle to wrap that wire around a stick.  But it's the same.

Try it, and let me know what you experience.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


Today I was working on a exercise from the book, The Artist's Way, by Julia Cameron. In this particular exercise, I was directed to write down five imaginary lives.  If you had five imaginary lives, what would you do? I went into this exercise with an open mind, and jotted down the first thing that came to mind.  And it surprised me. 

For my first imaginary life, I'd be a pie baker for a diner.  Some home style diner on Main Street in Small Town America.  I could actually see the diner in my mind.  A long counter top, with stools filled with regulars.  Several 2 and 4 tops scattered strategically in a small, but open feeling space.  Bright sunlight drifting in through sparkling windows.  A chalkboard above the griddle advertising the day's specials, including the famous blue plate special...served on an actual blue plate!  Behind that counter, serving up coffee and pie, would be an older woman, wearing a starched uniform, and homey looking apron.  Her name is Mabel, and she's worked there all her life.  She knows everyone, and if they order 'the usual', she knows exactly what they mean.

And there I'd be,  back in the kitchen, rolling out dough for pies.  There's an art to making pie dough.  Do it wrong, and you have something inedible and tough enough to resole your shoes with.  Do it right, and you have a flaky, tasty creation, fit to hold the fragrant filling within.  My specialty would be (and is) apple pie.  Made with two kinds of apples, liberally spiced with brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg, freshly ground.  There would be strawberry pie in the summer, and pumpkin pie in the fall.  And bubbly blueberry pie, served warm with melty vanilla ice cream.  And in the ice box display case would be banana cream & a tall chocolate dream pie.  Mmm....

When I had a spare moment, I'd slip out and chat with the customers, and slip fresh snickerdoodle cookies to the kids.  It would be hard work, but very satisfying.  

I'm not sure what the point of the imaginary lives exercise is, but can't wait to find out more.....

Thank you for sharing this momentary vision with me.... Mmm..now I want a piece of warm apple pie.  Hey, I do have two kinds of apples in the fridge right now!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

A bright moment in my day

The best part of my day today took all of 3 minutes.  I have this gorgeous hutch desk.  The fold out desk part had a screw missing on the hinge that supports it open.  It's been this way for a couple of months now.  Every time I'd open it, I'd think, gee...need to get that fixed.  Then I'd dump something on the desk, close it up and walk away.  Well, today I finally decided to clean up the pile on that desk top.  When I found the actual wood top again (took a while!), I remembered the missing screw.  My first thought was, gee, need to call Loyd and see if he'll fix it.  (The man can fix anything, create anything out of wood).  My next thought was, duh...first try to fix it myself.  So I did.  I only had to try two different screws to find the right one that fit.  But the best part was the feeling of accomplishment.  I did it myself.

I read an article in a magazine recently, that was discussing the benefits of doing manual things.  Cooking a meal from scratch.  Knitting a scarf.  Repairing an engine.  The actual act of doing something with your hands gives a feeling of accomplishment that actually has benefits beyond the obvious.  The act of doing can help ease depression, increase a person's sense of well being. 

I learned the value of taking care of things from my parents.  If a sock has a rip, mend it.  The pole from your artificial Christmas tree snap in half?   Well, we had that happen....and my dad repaired it, and we used it for years.  (think they still do).  I also learned the joy of making things, and cooking from scratch from them. 

So, yes, today my brightest moment came from replacing a missing screw.  Tomorrow it might be from sewing a quilt square.  I am happiest when I'm doing something.  Try it!  And let me know how it makes you feel.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Supreme Summer

Since moving to my lovely apartment, I've been enjoying the seasons so much more.  I think it's in part the relief of having maintenance to do the repairs, and in part because this place is so filled with light.  I sit here, at my antique secretary desk (as a child, I repaired the chips at the corner of this old, beautiful piece, by filling those chips in with Elmers glue.  Surprisingly, still there.), at half past 8 at night, and I have a window to my left and one in front of me.  I can see brilliant green grass, the branches of trees out both windows, and am listening to the birds chirping a chorus.  Beautiful!

Summer brings to mind ice cream, cut off denim shorts, and pool-side chats.  I remember summers as a child.  I'd ride my tricycle around the sidewalks, and sometimes on the grass. I played for hours in the sandbox my father made for me.  I ran through the horseshoe shaped sprinkler with my sister and brother.  And we drank kool-aide by the gallons.

I remember summers spent on my trusty green ten-speed, ranging all over Sterling Heights, with my best friend.  We rode our bikes, wearing those too short cut off jeans, raveling at the edges, until we were tired, or bored. Then we'd stop, and split a two litre of Pepsi.  Always Pepsi.  I don't even know why.

Years later, I was the one hooking up a sprinkler, making the kool-aide, and buying those bikes.  The sound of my children's laughter as they played in the water is a precious memory to me. 

I still have that ten speed, though it's living down in my basement storage room.  One day soon, I'll pull it out, take it to that bike place in Swartz Creek, and get new tires, and thingies greased.  I still wear denim, though now it's full length jeans, or my favorite faded capris.  And I still have that best friend, and it's stronger than ever. 

Though I have traded the sprinkler for the apartment's pool, and do laps instead of cannon balls, there is no doubt that it's still summer.  The days are long and full of sunlight.  And the ice cream is still cold and delicious.  Mmm...chocolate chip mint.