Halloween


My audiobook recording published by LibriVox.org

Hallowe’en
by Virna Shear (Canadian poet)

There is an old Italian legend which says that on the eve of the beloved festival of All Saints (Hallowe’en) the souls of the dead return to earth for a little while and go by on the wind. The feast of All Saints is followed by the feast of the dead, when for a day only the sound of the Miserere is heard throughout the cities of Italy.

Hark! Hark to the wind! ‘Tis the night, they say,
When all souls come back from the far away—
The dead, forgotten this many a day!

And the dead remembered—ay! long and well—
And the little children whose spirits dwell
In God’s green garden of asphodel.

Have you reached the country of all content, 0 souls we know, since the day you went From this time-worn world, where your years were spent?

Would you come back to the sun and the rain,
The sweetness, the strife, the thing we call pain,
And then unravel life’s tangle again?

I lean to the dark—Hush!—was it a sigh?
Or the painted vine-leaves that rustled by?
Or only a night-bird’s echoing cry?

This poem and its cover image are in the Public Domain.

Indigenous Peoples Day

Losing the ability to use much of my brain off-and-on for the past several years was a blessing in disguise — when I’m thinking positively. I’m connecting more closely with what’s important to me, like being here with you.

You might recall my blog post about Thanksgiving Days. You’re finding me celebrating Columbus Day now as Indigenous Peoples Day and producing a chapter of an audiobook. You can find it at SoundCloud.

It’s a mini biography of Alice C. Fletcher from a collection at Project Gutenberg titled Heroines of Service by Mary Rosetta Parkman, and recorded for LibriVox.org. Miss Fletcher attempted to overpower the Europeans who were harrassing Indians away from valuable lands in the U.S.

What do you think of her solution? Do you know of any other ideas?

Image credits:
Portrait of Alice C. Fletcher from Popular Science Monthly Volume 43 via Wikimedia Commons. This work is in the public domain.

Stuff I Did in March, Part Three: Asking for Help

I was bursting with responses to Nissetje’s post as I poured words into his comment box. Then I recalled a WordPress principle guiding us bloggers to resist leaving long comments, and to reblog the inspiring post instead with our response. So here’s what I would like to say to him:

Weather is a Good Place to Start

Have you had the crazy weather that we had this year? So far, April has been more like winter than February was.

2016-03-27 Front Yard
Our purple crocuses bloomed a week early

2016-04-03 Front Yard
Our yard one week later — no, this is not a black-and-white photo

I was hoping to get out and prune our grapevines, and fix our garden fence now that Spring seems to have resumed, but I’m laid up with a damaged knee. I was playing with my weaving yarns, crouched, and when I went to spring back up, I felt like my knee went out of joint. It was a familiar feeling. I backed down like a recoiled spring, and then got up, putting as little weight on the knee as possible, and felt relieved that I had escaped a mishap. My knee just felt a little numb, so I found lots of reasons to go up and down flights of stairs to help heal it.

After supper, when I stood up, ZING! My knee had swelled, and pain set in. So, I took good care of myself and rested in bed all day with my knee elevated. Staying in bed for this hurt knee is a lot easier for me to do than staying in bed waiting for a depression to pass . Then, I’m more inclined to get up and push myself, and I push myself into a deeper depression.

What’s Looming on the Horizon

When I read about your weaving, you reminded me that I must stay in bed for another day or so before I can return to my loom.

Painted Warp
My loom, missing my attention

I had overlooked the possibility that my knee injury would interfere with my work in my studio! Now I’m even more motivated to rest and elevate my knee. My studio is one of my lifelines! Like you say, “a doodle a day keeps the crazy away”.

I know something about what you’ve been going through, and you’ve been going through a lot in a short time. Just one or two of those broken relationships would send anyone reeling. You’re right to cling to happy thoughts about Spring coming, expecting sun, connecting with friends and your Good Animal Voice, remembering your art, enjoying your dogs and walks, choosing healthy foods, continuing learning, staying employed, valuing your intelligence and creativity, supporting the healthy parts of you, having a safe comfortable place…

You sounded discouraged about feeling glued to your couch. My jury is still out on whether bingeing on movies and junk food for a few (or several) weeks is a bad thing. The worse that I feel about it, the more vulnerable I am to it. In other words, I’m practicing not being depressed about being depressed. I’m choosing to see a depressed episode as a time for rest from the pressures that I put on myself (which I could easily blame others for).

What’s My Line?

How fantastic that you were able to pull yourself together to get to where you needed to go to get back on meds. I hope that you are continuing to progress. I know how sometimes all of the planets have to be aligned just so, etc., before that can happen. After all, how can we have the courage to expose ourselves to the likelihood of side effects when we’re already teetering on the edge? I know what it’s like to want to take a temporary break from the effort of life, and feeling too overwhelmed to do anything about it. These episodes usually come along with fuzzy cognition, so I can’t think my way through it, and am surprised when someone close to me can prompt me, like an actor who forgets the next line.

Stage Fright

I upped one of my meds the other day when my therapist pointed out that I’ve been doing relatively well, and that only lately my moods have been more erratic. I have a love/hate relationship with meds. I am generally drug-adverse; most had unbearable side effects, usually making my illnesses worse. Lamotrigine is one that has worked out well for me, as long as I fluctuate the dose according to my mood. Too much, and I’m flying; too little, and I’m bouncing up and down and back, sometimes (lately) over the course of a few hours.

I hope that the side effects are working their way out as your body adapts to this medication. If not, then I hope that you got back to your NP in a timely manner so you can use Plan B, or find a Plan C. You are doing great keeping a conversation going with your pharmacist and NP through the side effects! And you’re doing great distinguishing your own Good Animal Voice from the voices of others who deny your experiences, perceptions and feelings.

I discovered Andrew Johnson’s meditation recordings recently on his website, Spotify, and phone apps. They help me reset my thoughts and feelings most of the time. I wonder if you might find them helpful.

Mind Cancer

Around a year ago, I took the ACES (Adverse Childhood Experiences Score). Most people get a score of around 1. Over 4, and there is a strong correlation with being suicidal, and other serious chronic diseases. I had a perfect score of 10, or 8, depending on the version of the test, and how the questions are interpreted (do I have concrete evidence that the events actually occurred?). That helped me to realize that I have something like brain cancer: my brain was probably physically damaged when I was a young child in stressful situations — but I’m resilient. Even as a young child, I had a strong voice inside me that said, “if childhood is this awful, then adulthood is going to be great!”, and it is!

I hope that something that I shared here helps you to see how strong you are, and helps more people to understand what we go through.

P.S. Thanks for sharing the “mind cancer” phrase.

 

Image credits:
photos by Grace Buchanan
stage fright image, by Victor Jeg. Used under Creative Commons License BY-2.0.

Barking Back

Every year, I dread February. But March usually brings some relief. Even though it’s still winter, the days are obviously getting longer, and spring is coming. March is a often sunny month here in Winnipeg, and most years, I start planning my garden, spending a bit more time outside, and generally perking up after the February slump.

This year, though, I just kept sliding downward despite the longer days, the mild weather, and the promise of spring.

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So Happy Our Paths Crossed

Wendy continues to ask me what I’ve been up to lately. Here’s part of my answer:

A new-to-me friend stopped by the other day. She is familiar with fiber arts, so I introduced her to our studio. She saw the weaving project that my husband was working on, and her jaw dropped as she exclaimed, “You mean, you weave one thread at a time?” I responded, “Yes, and we put yarn on the looms one thread at a time.”

Here is what my loom looks like today. We are around 1/4 of the way done “threading” my loom, for a jacket, putting one thread at a time through the reed that spaces the threads evenly, and the heddles that raise and lower the threads to make the weaving patterns.

threading Grace's loom

A couple of days ago, my (grownup) son saw one of my handwoven towels with new eyes. He asked me if I had ever considered selling them at craft fairs. I had. I cringed from a flash of memory of summers as a teenager selling my work in hot, open areas, and people walking around with dripping ice cream cones, and greasy fingers from hot dogs… but they had to touch my fabrics and baskets to fully appreciate them.

I told him that I had a hard time imagining someone paying the market price for one — $50 — when you can buy some at the Dollar Store. He agreed and responded, “How much does one cost you to make?” I calculated around $2 because I use mill ends (leftovers from huge fabric mills). He said, “Well, then, you can sell them for $12 or $15!” I said that each one takes around a full day of work to make. He slumped with understanding.

You can understand now why I don’t sell them and only give them as gifts.

Theresa blogged about one of the towels that I made. After you read it, you can understand why I enjoy giving them as gifts.

Towel from Grace

CatTail Tales

When Chuck and I caught the ceramics bug and set up our studio last summer, we started out with reckless abandon.  We spent the evenings and weekends making anything and everything that we wanted to try and, in a matter of weeks, we started to find ourselves buried in beautiful pieces with nowhere to go with them all.

Being a kitchen designer by trade, I can’t stand disarray. A good design deserves to be seen and used without being cluttered. The same goes for a harmonious color palette. Although we created some beautiful pieces, they weren’t always what complimented the decor of our home…or our friends’ homes…or our family’s homes…or our neighbors’ homes…

It became very apparent very quickly that if we wanted to keep making ceramics, we needed to start selling ceramics. Before long, we were learning how to sell on Etsy.

That is where we met Grace.

One day Grace solicited us to make her some winter…

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