Friday, 14 November 2014

Where No One Has Gone Before (Yay for Philae!)

Philae lander approaching Comet 67P/C-G as seen by Rosetta (image from ESA)

Like many across the globe on Wednesday, we waited with baited breath for the stuff of science fiction to become reality. It wasn't on our radar until a day or two before, when news articles started to trickle in about this crazy mission that looked like it would work: getting the Philae lander from the Rosetta spacecraft onto Comet 67P/C-G five hundred million kilometres away hurtling through space at crazy speeds. What? What?

We watched the ESA twitter feed and blog, read up on the Q&A, and got really excited. To watch knowledge, money, technology and talent being used for the truly fantastic as an adult is a privilege*. To watch the live feed of the scientists reacting when Philae finally landed was something else**. I was young when the shuttle program started, so I never really experienced the anticipation and thrill of us people getting our collective shit together to do a science first in this way.

"Rosetta and Philae" by Megan Stringfellow (Stringfellow Arts & Crafts on Etsy)

** Nothing like the movies, in an excellent way. No soundtrack, no intense close-ups of intense faces, lots of people just sitting around in control, waiting. It was a hilarious reminder of how much our expectation of these things is shaped by movies.
* Although, as an adult I also got to experience Chris Hadfield singing David Bowie's Space Oddity in the International Space Station, which counts, I think:


I was a trekkie as a teenager (Star Trek the Next Generation, please, and anything after) and still am, I must confess. As an impressionable 13-year-old in a small town, Star Trek shaped my moral universe in a way that eclipsed my religious upbringing, fed my craving for the big questions of life, and started my life-long crush on Captain Picard (of course). Alas, this was before the internet, so I was a solitary trekkie girl, unaware of the larger trekkie culture and very aware that in the real world at that time, that kind of stuff was for boys.

But it was the sense of possibility that plucked at my heart strings (not with Picard, with science....unfortunately?) And here we are, using planets' gravity to fling a spacecraft across our solar system to rendezvous with a lump of rock a gazillion kilometres away on a ten-year-mission.

Seriously. That's a needlepoint Picard on our living room wall, a birthday present to me from a dear friend who knows.



Safiya's real excitement started when she realised that the Rosetta mission started when she was born and here she was, getting to witness its culmination. It was also fueled by her own recently discovered love for Star Trek the Next Generation (her favourite character is Data). After Philae's release I kind of lost it when they said its main thrusters had failed. Its main thrusters had failed like many a Star Trek shuttle craft. Be still my beating heart :) Upon which Safiya reminded me that she hadn't seen that happen yet (we've only just started Season Two in our nightly family STNG marathon), so she didn't get it. But that equipment failure was also part of the thrill. This was a real problem for the mission: what were they going to do? Science in Action, right?

Star Trek Inspired Quiet Book by Julie Bell (pattern available on juliebell Etsy shop)

In the end, all I've got is thanks. Thanks for a world of connection where geeks can find other geeks and discuss the things they love a little more easily. Thanks for a world where Safiya can wear the Lord of the Rings patch on her backpack with pride (I'm guessing a Star Trek insignia is soon to follow). Thanks for Nerdfighters, and Neil deGrasse Tyson and Cosmos, and where the aftermath of a scientist making a bad decision is this and this.

So thanks, ESA Rosetta mission. Thanks from this one little person in Toronto for the privilege of watching you guys do your stuff and experiencing for real where no one has gone before (couldn't help it :)

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

The Best Kind of Day


"This is the best kind of day" she said, contentedly.

Upon request, Safiya had asked me to teach her to crochet, again. Except I made a fatal mistake. I gave her the cheap cotton yarn to learn on, which only ended in frustration, obviously. You'd think I would have remembered that the pleasure is not only in the learning and the accomplishment, but in the materials.

"What about finger knitting?" She was game, especially after I pulled out my most favourite yarn - a beautiful creamy slubbed merino that I had never done anything with - and her eyes lit up. "Are you sure? Are you sure I can use this?" Well, I wasn't doing anything with it, was I?

And so that's how the above proclamation came about. Zinadine playing trains, Safiya knitting away, and me sitting on the playroom floor, reading a new-to-her book aloud. Ever since Safiya really began to read on her own, she hasn't been that interested in us reading out loud, but she commented on how nice it was, especially since she had something to do with her hands. We were supposed to do multiple things that day, obligatory things, but it just didn't seem to be the right day for it.


As I get older, I listen to that voice a bit more. The best kind of days are the ones that you make for yourself. To purposefully step outside of the push and pull of the calendar and the necessary things of life is a skill that has been hard to learn. I don't mean just hanging around and shirking, although that's fun sometimes too :) It's more understanding the value of what is happening rather than running away from what should be happening, if that makes any sense? Stepping aside without guilt or feeling the need to make an excuse is hard, but important.

Is going to lessons important? Yes. Is it more important than learning a new skill? Maybe, maybe not. Maybe I wasn't interested in that particular value judgement that day. I asked her what she wanted to do and she made a choice. Will Safiya remember that she missed karate class? Nope. Will she remember that we sat together and learned something new and read a new book and were content? Wholeheartedly yes.
 

Thursday, 21 August 2014

no try, only do


There's a quote out there that I can't place: something about "there is no now I'm ready, there is only now..."

At our house we're big fans of rumination, of reading and planning and thinking about it.  "It's something to think about.." comes out of my mouth more often than not when a plan is suggested.  Last week, however, we had a it-was-just-an-idea-but-it's-a-perfect-day-for-it-and-we've-kind-of-planned-for-it-but-not-really-oh!-here--we--go! kind of a day.

The kids grabbed their scooters and I grabbed the wagon, lots of water, and sustenance bribes (marshmallows) and we dove into a first thing in the morning scoot through Taylor Creek Park and up the Don River Recreational Trail and E.T. Seaton Park and Sunnybrook Park to meet Mr. S. for lunch (that's a lot of parks).


It was new.  It was glorious.  The kids were ahead of me always - I had to really move to keep up.  They discovered where Totoro lives (see pic above), saw a woodpecker, and called back to me about flowers and bridges and beautiful creeks and mysterious paths.  The weather was sunny and cool and accommodating.  Every single person who passed us passed with a smile on their face; a combination of the kind of people who frequent these trails, I think, and the sight of two children just cheerfully whizzing along.


It was so rewarding to have taken a chance and been given it back in spades.  There's a whole hidden park world in Toronto that, even though we've lived in this area for eight years or so, we've never really accessed.  And the advantage of scooting for a little guy like Zinadine is that there is speed and momentum, but he is still travelling in a manner such that every so often I'd see him drop back and stop and drop to his hands and knees so he could watch a fuzzy caterpillar cross the path, gaze longingly at a sadly train-less railroad track, or chase a flock of Canada geese.


On the way we also lucked into the Toronto Archery Range, with actual people doing actual archery in it.  To a ten-year-old who is mad about achery (and who inherited a love of making bows and arrows from her friends), it was, well, let's just say her voice went up a couple of octaves; there might have been some excited young lady screeching in quiet, reverent kind of way.  And the people, of course, were lovely and had the kind of nerd-expertise that you hope to find in a place like that.  We came away feeling welcomed with some helpful hints in our heads and helpful websites in our pockets.

There were even some super helpful re-enacters there with handmade bows and arrows (yay! and wow!)
So, this is a narrative of a day where we took a chance and it paid off.  The kids really ran with it - all eight-ish kilometers of it.  For me, I'd forgotten what a good lot of exercise feels like.  How pleasurable it is to hit your goal, as sweaty and wild haired as that goal may be.  To be a little free in the middle of the constraints of the city and to get a more complete perspective of where we live.  To be pleasantly surprised by our environment and to have our curiosity rewarded.  To feel the benefits of a morning like that all the rest of the day and see the glow of it mirrored in the faces and moods of the kids.


It's learned me to worry a little less about the being ready and hope a lot more for the nows. It's good to be in this space again.

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Tiny Miracles of Growth


"I didn't think they would grow!" said Zinadine.  He was amazed.  Now, I'll admit, I'm one of those people who is inherently disbelieving about the everyday, mundane, time again proven and beautiful fact that things grow from seeds.  Actual things.  With roots and everything.  So I revelled in his incredulity and joy of discovery.


He said they were yummy but didn't eat more than a small handful.  Safiya thought they were...tolerable.  Mr. S. missed out, and I like them.  I like the taste and that really, they're an easy winter vegetable.  So I think I'm going to give them more chances.  And of course there are consequences to sprouting things.  Now I have to find out what to do with all these sprouts, hopefully find different ones to try (in smaller quantities! wow those lentils made a lot of sprouts!), and in a related vein, I think we'll try starting some seeds for the garden this year.  Maybe.  At the very least I get to look at the Richters catalogue with something more than just longing this year...how lovely.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Evidence


A lot of what I write here is evidence.  Evidence of the pieces of my everyday that are still madly clinging to me, whipped and bedraggled as they are, as life whistles by.

So here is a piece of evidence that I still make things.  I took some time out a while ago to sew something not so whipped and bedraggled.  More homey and fancy-pants new-like.  Some of my favourite fabrics from the stash and my fancy new rotary cutter and mat, and ta-da!  New pillow covers, a couple of lap blankets, and we're good to go!


By the way: homey stuff by me; my favourite painting by my brother.  Excellent pairing :)

Second by the way: not really "Ta-da!"; more like several hours over several days including more than one period of time holding my breath, sewing machine on stand-by, frozen like a deer in headlights in my basement studio as I hear Zinadine's little feet nonchalantly wandering on the main floor above me and him sing-song calling "Maamaa!" in that "I have lots of things to play with, and I'm quite happy, and my Dad and Safiya are right there but really I can think of nothing better than to track down my Mama....I wonder where she is?" Yeah. More like that.

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Growing Into A New Year


Everyone's growing.  With an almost-ten-year-old and an almost-four-year-old and two almost-forty-year-olds, it feels like this house is going to be doing a lot of growing all at once.  I don't know what's different about this year, about 2014.  For the first time I feel ready for it, like I'm not just trying to keep up.  That's seems like tempting fate.  (It's o.k. fate, I'm really not tempting you.  We go way back.  You should know that I'm not tempting you.  Seriously, don't you think I've earned it?  Um...o.k that feels like tempting fate again.  Moving on down the road...)


Down the electrical tape road :) The day before New Year's Eve the kids and I took out the Solstice Tree, cleaned the living room and spontaneously rearranged the furniture.  And installed a road.  And beach.  And lake.  The last evening of 2013 was spent following Zinadine around as he insisted we be a train, keep a fantastic playlist going on the laptop, do some silly dances and then play a slightly out-of-control and more-competitive-than-it-ought-to-have-been Frog Hoppers game.  After Zinadine finally fell asleep I think we watched Tangled, then we all went to bed.  At something like nine thirty.  Well, as of us except Safiya, who, in a fit of independence, insisted on staying up alone until well past midnight.  It was the alone part that she was tickled pink about, which Mr. S. and I thought was fantastic and brave.


That's the other side of the living room.  I include it mostly as a public record that at some point our living room was a tidy and orderly place.  And also to note that that living room cleaning out started a chain reaction around the house of making more room, moving things, rejigging space for all this growing we're doing.

The next day was a morning of Mr. S's famous french toast, Safiya's project of making her own calendar, trying out growing lentil sprouts, and reading and lazing.


Then we went out tobogganing in the afternoon 'cause it seemed like the best strategy to keep the boy awake until evening.  We ended up with a spectacularly icy hill (thank you ice storm) which made for much ridiculousness trying to get back up, frozen toes, the threat of a bloody nose courtesy of Safiya, and a thrilled little boy who finally braved his first swoop ever down the toboggan hill.  And then pizza (with more ridiculousness) and then home and then comfort.

It was a good start to the year. It was silly and fun and happy and quiet and close and may your home bring you as much comfort for the whole rest of the year.  Happy (Belated) New Year!

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

The Raveled Sleave of Care

The boy has fallen asleep.  It's now a little past three thirty in the afternoon.  Up at five this morning, his little three-and-a-half-year-old self gave up in a flurry of tears over a broken airplane and a very brief nurse.


A week or so ago, he woke up at three in the morning: "Mama, I want to go downstairs."  That's how he starts every morning: "Mama, I want to go downstairs."  It's like a mantra, or a totem of his, wielded in protest against sleep.  Against our sleep, anyway.

I'm trying to at least get him to have some kind of segue; to ask, "Mama, are you awake yet?"  This seems the more appropriate thing to say to the person slumbering next to you in the wee hours of the morning.  It's also more likely to coax something from me other than "That's nice."

So, as this in-the-middle-of-the-night morning began, he suddenly remembered what was more likely to get a response from me:

(quietly and very close to my face) "Mama, are you awake yet?"

(groan) "No honey, I'm still asleep.  It's the middle of the night."

"Mama, are you awake yet?"

"Zinadine, it's not morning yet; it's the middle of the night.  It's very hard for me to get up right now."

(pause) "Don't worry, Mama," (he gently pats my arm in a reassuring manner with his tiny hand) "it's easy.  You just get up.  Like this!"

He stands up in the middle of the bed.

I never imagined that my life would be measured by someone else's sleep.  But this boy has managed it almost from the beginning.  Rest assured (ha!) we never expected our newly born boy to sleep.  We accepted this jokingly, unbegrudgingly.  This was our second-born, after all, and until she weaned herself at three-and-a-half-ish, his sister never fully slept through the night either.  So we thought we knew.

A couple of months in, we were cautiously surprised to find that he was sleeping almost five hours at a time.  And then, between nine months and a year (it's all a blur), he decided that was enough and proceeded to never sleep again.  At least, that's what it felt like.  And nothing worked.  One year later, Mr. S. and I were adept at grimly smiling at well-meaning family members who helped with suggestions as best they could.  Sleeping arrangements, food, water, positioning: none of it had any impact.  "It will pass" became my mantra.  Two years later and I could probably count on one hand the number of times I had slept more than four hours at a time.  For a long stretch every two hours was the norm.  Almost three years later it's getting better and I've finally not-very-graciously admitted to myself that taking care of myself is actually an essential kind of thing, and that some days it's the only thing I have room for.

And yet, when waking, he is and always has been a delight.  A rambunctious, hilarious, growing, lovely little man.  It's what has kept us sane.  The daytime belied that there was anything seriously wrong.  The boy just didn't sleep.

So here we are, him sprawled out, toes curled like they don't care, pudgy pillow-squished cheek with a puddle of drool at the corner of his mouth, and me thinking that that looks like a little bit of heaven.  And wondering how, when you're so sleepy, it's even possible to laugh so hard.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

On Having Good Tools

Children know. I think we all remember that knowing, that awareness of what the good, what the real is. We also knew when adults tried to hoodwink us.

There was certainly no hoodwinking involved the morning I gave Zinadine his new drill. He grabbed it enthusiastically, before I could get the drill bit in, and started in on the assembled pile of balsa wood that we had gathered from the playroom. "Look Mama, I'm building a house!", he pretended. He was fascinated by the handle, and would not let me interrupt his play, until he saw that his sister's drill actually had the drill bit installed. He insisted on an immediate switch.

And then everything changed. His posture became intent, his face joyful. He knew. "I'm making holes! Mama, look, I'm actually making holes!!" No longer playing, but doing. Having the right tool, a good tool, that allowed him to do the thing, he became absolutely delighted.


A while ago I gave in and curmudgeonly bought a rotary cutter, a fancy quilting ruler, and mat. I have a perverse habit of thinking that if I can't make do (and by making do I mean making cuts like butter with the lovely Gingher scissors the fantastic Mr. S. gave me), then I've failed somehow. Luddite by nature, I often forget that discerning what makes a tool good and useful is a pretty important ability, more so than a knee-jerk reaction to the new and fancy.


And my goodness, do I ever enjoy this particular new and fancy. I sew a lot of things with squares in them, so this is helpful. The first project I started on, one that had been languishing in the to-do pile for quite a while, had me smiling like my kids with drills: really happy, feeling effective, and slightly maniacal.
 
We've been talking a lot about tools around our house lately. Tools for life. Things that get us through, help us flourish, soothe, cope, sustain, mend, strengthen. How it's worth learning and understanding what tools work best for the kind of work, the kind of person you are and the life you have.

It'll be interesting to see what we create with them.

Friday, 28 June 2013

Moths and Butterflies

Mr. S. has let a large moth in as he arrives from late-night soccer. It flutters helplessly, hopefully around his head, brushing the lights in the kitchen.

Safiya and I are still up. Making arrows.


Mr. S. looks at us in bewilderment, a little like the moth.

Safiya starts whisper-informing him what she's been up to, the what, when, how.....while Mr. S. is still stuck on "why?" We look at each other and do the usual wtf-what-do-i-know tiny parent shrugs that we do when confronted with this changeling daughter of ours from a world that we left behind so long ago.


When Safiya asked me to help her with the arrows earlier in the evening, I thought she had hit a specific road-block that she needed my help with - adult help. She's been working on various arrow projects ever since her friend made her a bow. It has become one of her treasured items, regularly housed in our front entrance, and the impetus for an ever-refined arsenal of arrows which she carves and embellishes. Tonight she was waiting and waiting for my help while Zinadine fell asleep, and finally I asked what it was that she needed.


"Oh, I just want your help finishing." Huh. I pointed out that she'd been sitting around reading and could've finished a couple of arrows in the meantime, and she pointed out that she helps me with things all the time. So then I pointed out that those things are usually like, chores. You know - important stuff that makes the house we all live in run smoothly......wait wait wait. back up.


For the next little bit I processed what I had just said. And I remembered something I'd read recently, don't know where. Something about the fact that you always feel like yourself, and that the things that are important to you don't change in their importance as you grow up. That is, the stuff is different when you're younger, but it's just as important.

This was her work! Crap.

"Hey honey, I guess you making arrows is as important as us doing laundry."

Sidelong, knowing glance from child.

"It is to me."

Lesson verified.


Now the moth is in the living room as I write this, nuzzling the paintings on the wall as Safiya hands me her latest plans of how she's going to carry the arrows in lieu of a quiver.

Then a big yawn from her and a "I'm soooo tired". Now she's perched half-way up the stairs, leaning over the banister, dress half-off, head sticking out like an awkward pink patchwork caterpillar, asking something. Mr. S. and I start giggling 'cause she looks ridiculous and self-assured and far too un-self-aware. It is a weird place to be, this twilight of the child.

I go to let out the moth.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Happy Birthday to a Sweet Little Man Who Now is Three


Zinadine, you are all of three years old today. It's a lot of years for someone who is little. Except you're not little, you're big; as you like to remind me.


You have milkweed soft fly-away hair and the best laugh ever. I tickle you just to hear that laugh. You like puns and fake surprises and the Ba-Shooom! game (which involves throwing rolled up socks with Safiya and Babo (Mr. S.) and rules Mama doesn't get - on purpose).

that halo is your hair in the sunlight!

You walk like Pocoyo. You jump from things as much as you can. You walk your fingers all over my collarbone when you nurse. You are passionately attached to particular shoes, and whatever small object with four wheels has your fancy on any given day. Sometimes, you tell your sister not to "bug me! she's bugging me!" when she hugs you, which makes her hug you again. Sometimes you tell me "Doooon't look at me!" I always sneak looks, just so you know.


I want to keep listing things so as to not forget every little bit years from now when you zoom by or glance up from a book or hole up with friends. You say "Awwwww" at tiny baby animals. When you're angry (which is very rare), you stare at me and chuck whatever it is in your hand. You want to do everything yourself - "Can I do it?" I think you chirrup.


You so look forward to your Babo coming home, and immediately show him, very seriously and importantly, whatever you've got clutched in your hand or whatever is occupying you that very second.


 You only eat the icing.


You've hated both socks and baths since you were a babe. You always have very dirty feet.


Every time we cross the Don Valley bridge on the subway, you say "O!" and get up on the seat and look out the window and start reciting all the things you see: "I see cars and trees and river and tracks and trees and cars and buildings and tracks again - I see world everywhere!" Your best is being outdoors.


Most mornings; anytime we're in the upstairs playroom, actually, you open the window (which doesn't have its screen on yet) and start yelling "HI!" at anyone and everyone on the street just below. And everyone smiles and says hi and waves back (after momentary confusion at your little voice from the heavens and split-second consternation which evaporates when they see me too). And that is you, I think. All your energy, like your hair, radiating out and beaming at all of us around you.


These are all things you do and say as your three-year-old self; how you makes us feel and love and be our family is even more complex and spring-fed and wonderful and, I think, more than your after-midnight-Mama can write right now.

We love you, little man. Every second, every snuggle, every hand-hold, every jump. Every everything about you. Happy Birthday, sweet Zinadine.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Pushing Boundaries

"You know what?" I say, "Seeing people that I kind of know outside of the place I usually see them sometimes feels kind of awkward for me."

(audible sigh of relief from Safiya) "Me too!"


Yesterday we did lots of new things. We tried a new social thing, with mixed results, but we'll try it again to give it another chance. We found a new-to-us park, which was a resounding success because trains run fairly regularly by it, and Zinadine fairly shook with the excitement of it, little fists resonating his delight by his sides.


watching the train at the park!
We took streetcars instead of walking the whole way, much to our relief when trying to boot it to karate class. And, we tried karate class on a different day, because Safiya's trying to add extra lessons. This resulted in her being shaken a little out of routine, and enabled her to to be more open to noticing something about another student in the class and she paid attention to this girl, which is a fairly big deal for her, and she reported it, all small-proud-like. I didn't know we were going to do all this when I woke up this morning. We just sort of went for it.

I'm trying little things, like small crafty things to keep my hands busy. New crochet stitches, braiding, small weaving. Easy pick up, easy put down, easy finish. Breaking routine by adding small things, like plant a few flowers instead overhauling the whole garden. Stopping for ice cream on the way to picking up said flowers on a hot spring day because that's a way to do the fun. Ice cream is always fun. Seriously, have you ever had un-fun ice cream? I think not.

braiding at the park for a new project

But the fun on top of fun (this is getting ridiculous) is on the inside. Because of this practising shifting my thinking, I've come to treasure my own idea of fun. It's silly, but my past version of someone who is a fun person has always been someone else's version. You know, the person who gets invited to all the parties, the person who can be un-self-consciously silly. As an introvert, trying to be that person is a disastrous idea, and trying to hold yourself up to it is failure-ridden and stressful. However, if I try to think about inviting myself, perhaps myself as a small girl, to have fun, it would probably involve a lot of quiet reading, outside. Maybe with someone else who likes to read. And making things. And serious discussion about the world. And quite possibly some Star Trek. And probably lots of other stuff I haven't thought of yet.

Old boundaries of self. Walking over them is a awkward and uncomfortable at first, but probably way more fun. We'll see.

Monday, 6 May 2013

Happy Like Roses


Because I don't want to forget.

This kind of happy is delicious, like face-in-roses fragrance drinking delight. It is so immediate, and almost tangible and you think, for just one moment, that you could live like this for the rest of whatever, face planted firmly in a rose.

Waking up happy was a thing I'd forgotten. It's not 'til it happens that you realise it's been so long. So long since anticipation was the thing first in my mind.

And, like roses, it will pass, which is why I'm writing it down here. To help it return again when the time comes. To say, "remember? remember; like roses..."

Monday, 22 April 2013

Play is the Opposite of Failure

For the past almost two weeks, I've been pulling on threads.

Actually, I've been pulling threads for a while now; doing untangling of my own. Maybe, to use the imagery of late, what I'm doing now is weaving something from the pulled threads.

Weaving something atypically open-ended, on instinct, without knowing the pattern and then being overjoyed to find the work just right, just what was needed, just what was wanted.

learning new crochet stitches, no pattern in mind (makes a good dollhouse rug :)
The picture that's emerging is the antidote to the never-ending, never-accomplished lists that have always been my constant not-really-that-kind-and-a-little-bit-too-competitive companions; my constant minders. It's the antidote to the voice in my head (not my own) that has always said "Not Good Enough" or, "You Know That Thing You Wanted to Do? Not as Important as the Should be Done". I firmly believe that none of us is born with an inner voice like that, but knowing it and discovering what will cancel it out are two very different things and sometimes the finding can be long work. It certainly has been for me. So how to find value day-to-day for the things I really ache to do and also not fail?

more trying: this one ended up as a doll blanket
A while ago I had an argument with myself. And, wouldn't you know it, it's my own argument, my own thread of words, that's led to an antidote that works; for me, anyway. When you read other people's platitudes, sometimes they resonate, sometimes you recognise the journey, the way, that led to the words they're saying; the phrases people pass around like talismans and say to themselves in times of trouble, in front of the mirror. But none of them have ever took root with me. I tried it:

Me: "Well, you really only have two choices: not to fail, or be o.k. with failing."

Self: "It's impossible to do the first, and I am not o.k. with the second. (Cue Westley "Then we are at an impasse".)

Me: "Maybe there's no such thing as failing."

Self: "That's just another way of saying it's o.k. to fail."

sigh

As bleak as that seemed, it was a start. It led to the understanding that what I was really searching for was a way to not fail. A way I actually trusted.

And one day out of a tumble of words, a knot of thoughts, something new emerged and took root. It took a way of thinking about things that's not instinctual to me and made it of value because it's the antidote to failing. I'm tempted to make it into a tattoo, but for now, I'm working on a design to embroider.


Play is the opposite of failure.  And because it's a statement of my own, in my own voice, it's been so much more effective at cancelling out that deep doubting voice than anything reactionary; any argument that I've tried in the past. Just my own voice, firm and steady, saying "play is the opposite of failure" and finding joy in it, because in the end, all the good stuff, the stuff that had no acceptable value but now does, the stuff I remember passionately and fondly, is play.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

It's the oddest thing...

clicked on cloth.paper.string on the sidebar 'cause i haven't read her stuff in a long long while.

browsed a bit. she got me intrigued, as always, and i clicked on a link.

and instead of opening at the top of the post, it opened in the middle, and the first line handed to me was...

burn your to-do list

really, it's just the oddest thing...

Perfectly Not-Perfect


I have a feeling that picture might blow the pixels off a few screens, but there's no subtle way to photograph those colours, so there you go. Besides, it's my only completed knitting project in oh-so-long, so I'm proudly putting it up there.

Whilst sorting the yarn bin, I discovered this washcloth that I had almost finished. Almost because I ran out of yarn. Crappy craft store yarn which I'd never be able to match anyway, so taking the needles by the horns, I finished in orange.

There is an inordinate amount of pleasure received from finishing a project, no matter how small, that's been on the needles for, oh, say....eight years? Maybe nine?

I struggle continuously with the difference between what I can see is possible, or rather, what should be possible, versus what actually is possible. They are disparate things in my world, mostly because the "should be possible" that I pick is probably more suited for a superhero rather than a mere mortal such as myself. This results in a lot of unfinished projects.


Some days, the lists of things that should be done, that could be done if I just try harder hound me until the light fades and I prop my aching legs up on the couch and zombie-surf the web just to empty my mind. Those days don't happen often, but they do happen, sometimes several in a row.

It's not something I actually enjoy. The funny thing is, those days are my own creation. Lists are straightforward and simplistic. Life is not. Maybe if I looked at the things I want to do as goals instead of line-items to be checked off? Is that different? I don't know...I'm still working on this.

The only thing I know about it now is that it's hard to make allowance for life if I'm just going by a list. And that sometimes it's o.k. to finish with a different colour.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

A Most Excellent Neighbour


Our most excellent neighbour, Louise, is multi-talented, a genuine learner, and all-round lovely person to have next-door. We knew we first liked her because she talks to the kids like they're people, which is always a good sign.

Secondly, she sometimes comes bearing crafty awesomeness. A couple of years ago she showed Safiya and I how to silk-screen, and she is Safiya's loom benefactor. Since Safiya's interest in weaving has coincided with Louise taking a weaving class (such gorgeous scarves she's made already!), we invited her over for tea, cookies, and show-and-tell. It was pretty neat. That up there is a table loom, and that below there is a little guy very interested in how heddles work.


A very enjoyable afternoon was spent with Louise patiently answering questions and guiding small hands with levers. There was much lifting of heddle-things (I forget the name!) but not much weaving because of a wayward part, but it was enough for understanding the process.


There was also something else very very cool:


Chain-mail! Our collective geek hearts did a little dance at this sight! Also, woodcarving!


I also happen to know that she's a book-binder extraordinaire, amongst other things. Like I said, a crafty gal, and an inspiration. The weaving was worked on and the whittling knife was pulled out for some work on a set of arrows after she left, so thank-you Louise! Thank you so much for your thoughtfulness and time and kindness and the contagious curiosity sharing :)