I’m enjoying puttering around the house on this cold day in Saskatchewan. We had a -1℃ last night. We have a few more ahead before it’s over. But our passive solar greenhouse is doing fabulously. It was 19.5℃ while only 2℃ outside a couple of hours ago. Now it has dropped to 17.3℃. It has been cloudy all day. I am learning to ground myself in household duties instead of crying the woes.
It was soothing to sew my quilt block this morning by the fireplace. I feel the warm of the fire. There is comfort in touching the fabric. I see the different colours and patterns. I hear the whir of my Bernina as it stitch the seam. I look up and I see my daffodils and tulips out the window. The cat is beseeching me to put in a geranium in its pot. Soon, kitty, soon.
It feels good to be in the moment, not to be scattered and distracted every which way. I’m learning to ground myself in the present moment, sewing in silence. I’m not listening to the radio, to the voices of happenings over which I have no control. I did listen to a couple of short video clips from Therapy in a Nutshell on grounding and other mental health tips. I’m a self-help addict and I’m always opened to learning how to make things better and easier for myself.
Today is a good day, despite the cold and the grey sky. I almost lost this post just now. I better quit while I’m still ahead for this 20th day of the Ultimate Blog Challenge.
Do you have days when everything is hard? I seem to have more than my share of them and often. I’m sounding rather childish and petulant but it just doesn’t seem fair, does it? There’s no one to cry to about it. Everyone has their troubles. The only thing to do is to ‘buckle up, Buttercup!’ My plan lately is not to complain out loud about it, be calm and agreeable. It’s a good time to be quiet and go about life and business slowly and steadily. Brain surgery and complicated procedures are out of the question.
Sewing my log cabin quilt square is a good activity. I’ve pieced and sewn over 50 of them now. It’s familiar and soothing. It’s never boring. I always try for precision – exact 1/4 inch seams and colours that go well together. Even so, I’m a little behind with my squares these last few days. Fatigue and heaviness are weighing me down. I’m practicing not stressing, letting it slide off me. All schedules are my own creation. I’m never behind. Everything will get done in due time.
When I get feeling down too much, I remember Caroline Myss’ advice to get up and move. And so I do. I go for our daily walks. A change of posture, a change of scenery and a change in thoughts and mood. The day is sunny and warm. I open some windows in the house to get some fresh air. I have such a difficult time putting things away and in order. I work not in understanding but in doing it. So I take the laundry off the line, fold them and now they’re all put away. It really wasn’t hard once I started. I’m learning to tackle each seemingly difficult task, thus – step by step.
I’m always surprised that when I get up and start moving, I feel better. Even stepping outside on a cloudy day gives me a rush of relief. So doing even a very small thing is better than not doing anything. A small accomplishment leads to another accomplishment and so on and so forth.
February 26th, day 26 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge. Our administrator suggests the topic of a day in the life of..YOU! He makes it sound exciting and since it is what I do anyways, I will carry on. It is my genre. My life does not seem exciting to me. I am bored though I am interested in many things. Can this be possible. This last stretch of February is for the birds. I’ve said this of other months also.
Today is March 1, 2021. As you can see I have bombed out of the Ultimate Blog Challenge. I could not stretch myself to the finish line. I gave in to binging on Netflix. It was on a good series, Shetland. I fell in love with the characters, the Shetland Islands, Scotland and the stories of Ann Cleeve. I was hooked and could not help myself. Every day, after lunch and after my afternoon cross country ski, I would plop myself in front of my iMac with a cup of tea and a slice of Swedish thin bread. It was my matinee hour. It was ALL very addicting.
All that binging has made me feel very terrible because there was no possible end to it. That is until I came to the end of Season 3. That’s it. No more seasons of Shetland on Netflix Canada anyways. Now I’m in front of my keyboard with just a cup of tea, trying to tap away the angst of my withdrawal. I’ve still kept up with the100dayproject. I’m still sewing a logcabin quilt square a day. I have 30 squares now. I have also finished my cross stitch of Jesus I started many years ago. My fingers weren’t idle while watching Shetland. They were busy weaving in and out of those little squares. I can feel good about that.
I am happy, too, that I’ve kept up with the daily cross country skiing. Exercise and the great outdoors are good addictions. Otherwise, I don’t know what shape my head would be in. We went out to the Wildwood Golf Course this afternoon. I set my timer for a 20 minute ski out and then 20 minutes to get back. Having a set time gave me a sense of security that I can make it back to the parking lot.
I’m glad that I can wrap up the end of February and the Ultimate Blog Challenge with a final post, even if I’m a day late. I hate leaving things unfinished. It’s as if I don’t care and have given up. It is always good to care and give a damn. Things can get better. They can’t if we don’t care.
I woke up to another frigid morning, even . colder than yesterday – 38 degrees Celsius. The cold doesn’t really bother me that much. I feel more alert and physically better, especially if it is sunny as it has been. I had an early start and completed my Log Cabin quilt square for the100dayproject before breakfast. I did it my old way in one hour. I tried to improve my time yesterday by figuring out the measurement of each piece and cutting them before sewing. It took twice as long. I learned something by trying a different method. I found that even though I measured very carefully, most of my pieces were off. It was a good thing that they were too long, instead of short.
I whiled the rest of the morning away basking in the sunshine. I don’t have to be doing something all the time. Nothing can be good for body and soul. It can help creativity. It can sharpen and/or add to my skills. I cut 11/2 strips in the afternoon. My supply is dwindling. I changed the blade on my rotary cutter. I think I’m still using the same one that came with it. What a change it made! I hardly use much pressure and it sliced through cloth like butter. Why did I wait so long? I do have 2 extras I bought long time ago. I think I hate waste and being extravagant. I was reluctant cutting up the cloths, too. It feels like I’m wasting again. I felt like I should be saving them for a rainy day.
I’m learning much more than quilting and sewing doing these challenges. I’m a hoarder, not in the sense that my house is jam packed with no space to move. I’m the kind who saves the good china, linen, and clothes for special occasions, but then forget to when the time comes. I make do with less rather than more. It probably have to do with the times and how I grew up. We were immigrants and poor in the beginning. We were never hungry and I never thought we were poor. That is until my sister mentioned it. When I asked my mother, she said: Of course we were poor! We lived on rice and dried anchovies.
Saving for a rainy day has become a habit, long past the need to. It is not bad but rather a good thing. I have a large stash of sewing supplies on hand in this Covid time. I don’t have to run off to the store for this or that. Sometimes I can overcome my ‘make do’ habit. I bought myself a Bernina 790 sewing and embroidery machine. I was feeling my rainy day had come and I better get serious, be kind to myself and really live my life.
Here I am on Day 3 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge. I am struggling already. I have to wisen up and listen to my body. I’ve been working it too hard lately with my daily ski and altering and sewing projects. My right hand is sore, numb and tingling at times. It’s probably from gripping the seam ripper too much. No more ripping and sewing heavy material for awhile. I can use one or two rest days a week from skiing. I will not rust from lack of activity.
I will keep going with the Ultimate Blog Challenge and the100dayproject. I really like Anne Lamott’s advice in her book Bird by Bird. It really is a manual for writing and life. When I get overwhelmed by any thing/project I think about her One-Inch Frame. I write/work within that frame until it is done, then I move to the next inch. I tap out a word/idea, sentence, paragraph. I’m building an idea/sentence/paragrah at a time. At the end I will have a blog post. If I write a few more posts, it could lead to a chapter. Chapters can add up to a book. I don’t have that aspiration. But who knows?
I work at my Log Cabin quilt squares the same way. Each square has 17 components. The project was actually started a few years ago. I had some 1 1/2 strips cut up but that was as far as I got. They’ve been patiently waiting for me all this time. I am not an experienced quilter but I have taken a beginner’s class a long time ago. I have lots of material and all the tools. The Log Cabin square begins by sewing two 1-inch squares together. They are 1 and 2 in the photo. Then I sew on 3. The strips are not cut to size except the first 2. I cut up two 1 1/2 inch lengths, allowing for 1/4inch hem allowances. Then I sew on 3 and cut off the excess length. Each seam is pressed before going on the next. There’s no rushing. Patience, Precision and Care. It settles my brain. It’s good for me.
Sometimes my emotions can turn on a dime. I’m paying attention to identify the triggers. Maybe it is just a matter of my chemistry being altered and any one thing can upset my apple cart. By now I have had enough experience with my history, I don’t need to run off to the psychiatrist’s couch to lament or to ask for a prescription. I’ve also stopped reading those self-help books and taking online courses on how to fix myself. I have graduated from life’s school of hard knocks with a prestigious PhD. I am my own Personal Health Doctor.
No one knows me better than myself. It is about time that I listen and trust in me. It is only natural that we have good and bad days. What goes up, must come down. I should listen to the Blood, Sweat and Tears and “ride a painted pony, let the spinning wheel spin”. In other words, get on the damn merry-go-round and ride it out. It will eventually stop. So that’s what I’m doing – riding it out.
In the meantime I’m still living and feeling whatever it is that is here in me. I’m not trying to fight it off like I used to. That would be a form of self abuse, wouldn’t it, to deny part of yourself? Is self love not encompassing all parts of the self, the good, bad and ugly? Though it is hard, I do try to sit with all my physical and psychological discomforts. My natural inclination has always been to run away. It never works. It comes back again and again. And now, after I have stopped running, it comes back less and less. My bad feels better and better.
What is it that I do besides not running away? Well, nothing special. I just carry on with daily life as best as I can. I still have to get out of bed, dress up and show up. It’s doing all those boring things like brushing my teeth and other personal hygiene routines. It’s having nutrituous meals and getting fresh air and exercise. It’s keeping house and having hobbies. It’s showing an interest in life and others. Even when I don’t feel like it, I act like I am. There’s wisdom in faking it till you make it. One thing for sure is I never feel like just curling up and sleeping it off.
No matter how I feel, I can still bake – bread, cookies, muffins. It’s comforting to measure, mix and kneed. The aroma of bread and chocolate chip cookies baking is very healing. No matter how slow and sluggish I am, I still took apart a long winter coat, lining and all. Somehow, some way I will find the energy to revamp it into a different coat. Recently I sew up 2 pairs of panties from an old t-shirt. It’s good to have something to take apart when you’re feeling out of sorts. Then there’s painting. It’s also a good thing when you’re feeling blue and that your life is nothing. In those moments, I feel it’s ok to just splash paint and make a mess on the canvas. I am so delighted when something nice comes out of it. Then there’s writing. The tap, tap, tap on the keyboard is very relaxing and therapeutic. And I get to let out my angst. There’s pleasure in putting in and arranging my photos, too. I love reading other people’s words. Today I’m rereading Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre. The last time was when I was in high school.
I am alot of things like being angry, sad, bad, depressed… But I am seldom bored. There’s no time. I find that there’s endless things that need doing and wanting doing. I’m always in a muddle of some thing or other. I have stashes of unfinished projects hidden here and there. I’ve always been thus.
I hadn’t worried about nothing to do in retirement. I have been retired for seven years now and haven’t ran out of things to do yet. I don’t miss work at all. I never felt defined by my job. I don’t think of myself as always a nurse. I don’t feel like a nurse at all. I’ve been a babysitter, waitress, cashier and secretary. I don’t feel like any of those either. I guess I’m a Jill of all trades and a mistress of none.
I like to write. That’s how I got into this blogging thing. That’s why I am in this Ultimate Blog Challenge. I get to push the PUBLISH button, tweet and share. It’s a small taste of being a writer with a small readership. It’s enough for me. I like the small sweetness of things. I can read a bit of music and play the piano. I probably could bring the house down but not in a good way. I can play the guitar, too. I can tell when it’s out of tune but I can’t tune it. I can’t play well or by ear either. It still brings me pleasure.
I like to draw and paint, too. I can. We all can. I had some training when I was young by some excellent teachers. I didn’t know it then. I dropped out because I thought if I was really talented, I could just create master pieces just like that. I couldn’t. I gave up on my artistry for over 30 some years. I talked about it alot but didn’t do anything till a few years ago. Then I surprised myself by seeing that I am creative and artsy fartsy. I am enjoying it now.
I don’t think I’m behind or that it’s too late. I am exactly where I am suppose to be. It is a little late in the day though. I’ve worked hard today, immersed in my puddle of muddle. I like to sew, too. I designed and sewed my dress for my Grade 12 grad. In fact, I used to sew a lot of my own clothes. Then that fell off my wagon. Life is like that. There’s a season for everything. Now, sewing has come back to me. I’m not making clothes. I’ve moved on to other stuff. It’s never too late to pick up something again. But it is getting late. I’m finished.
May 9th, the 9th day of the Ultimate Blog Challenge.
Beginnings are challenging. I’m not inspired this morning. Instead of sitting here, staring into space, thinking about how to make my first tap, the first letter, word, sentence, I move in the direction of things calling to be done. The bathroom floor is the loudest but the least attractive. I heed the advice of doing the hardest thing first. After vacuuming the mats, I washed that square inch of floor. I don’t understand my feelings of ‘hard to do’ stuff. They are not hard at all except in my mind. Knowing and acknowledging that makes each time easier.
Having done that and a few other chores, I am trying to tap my heart out. I am hit with a wave of sleeping sickness. I will try to keep my eyes open and search for a bit of inspiration. I think mostly it is born out of perspiration, the hard work of chipping away at something. It’s like my patchwork tablecloth. It began years ago with sewing squares together. I was just making use of the fabric remnants I had picked up at the closing of a drapery and upholstery store years ago.
It was years before I had bought my Bernina sewing machine with an embroidery module. My purpose for it was not the machine embroidery. I was inspired by artistry of the quilters at the Saskatoon Quilters Guild Quilt Show in 2017. I was determined to get one those fancy dancy machines on display. By golly I did that December. It was so fancy I had to let it sit in the box for awhile before tackling it. I watched many tutorials on how to use the self threader before I could latch onto it. It was many hours watching tutorials before I could even understand the manual. I was happy to sew just a straight seam. I got a high from the sound of the thread cutter. A few months later and lots of perspiration, I was drawing with the needle, my wildest dream come true.
The machine embroidery came much later after more perspiration. It’s another post.
We’re steadily heading towards the shortest day of the year. It’s no surprise that it’s dark out and the house lights are on. I know I’m harping on the darkness. It’s my brain. It’s better I ventilate and let out the darkness. Hoarding it inside would only make it grow.
I can’t say that the day was a success or that it went badly. It was heavy and sluggish. I just put one foot in front of the other and proceeded forward ho. It helps to have a routine. I move according to program. I vacuumed as much as I had time before leaving for my exercise class this morning. I’m finding it very therapeutic, doing something that is needed instead of squandering the time away. It’s surprising how much one can do in minutes. It gives me structure and time later to work on something or languish as desired.
I struggled through the step aerobics even with an instructor shouting out instructions. My brain is malfunctioning and I am not feeling exactly gleeful and lightfooted. I did the best I could. Sometimes I adjusted my speed, repeat times 2 instead of 3. What the hell. I was moving and that’s what counts. I don’t have to enjoy it. My brain is not cooperating. It is not my fault. I still sweated. Does that count? I still walked Sheba in the afternoon. I kept thinking of taking a shorter walk the whole time. But I didn’t.
Today hasn’t been a ton of fun but I’m not crying either. It is what it is. This, too, shall pass. I’m still upright, looking normal and doing what I normally do. I’m reading a thriller, The Girl From Home. It’s exactly what my brain needs, something easy to grab onto. I tinkered a bit with my free motion embroidery after lunch. After working on machine embroidery for awhile, it is harder to go back to. I have to reset how I see and make a picture. I have to wing it on my own. No computerized motiff, no perfect programmed stitches. I am the computer, one without a program and a defective hard drive.
Winter time and the living is not easy. The fish are not jumping. The mornings are dark. If I dwell in the cold and hardness of it, I would be done in. But I don’t. I’ve learned to concentrate on the mechanics of everything – how to get from point A to B, what I have to do if I want this, that and the other thing. It works. It’s magical. I’m transported from feeling icky to ___ . I can’t quite find the word but I feel my brain firing up like the furnace in the basement. Soon it will kick in and ideas and endorphins will flow. Ah, I hear the fan blowing. The warm air is blowing out the vents.
I’m finishing my second cup of tea. I will make a list of things my mother wants from Costco. She phoned yesterday to confirm. Are you going for sure. Will you remember? Don’t forget the barbecue chicken. She repeated the list. I mustn’t forget. Then I will make my own list. I mustn’t forget or get lost getting there. I get lost regularly going anywhere and everywhere. I don’t get excited about it any more but I could be a little more careful, pay more attention and look for signs and landmarks. I turn off at the exit for Yorkton. It would save me time.
November 21, 2018 10:16 pm
I’ve let time and thoughts slipped away. It’s the latest I’ve come to this page in a long while. My thoughts are fragmented, scattered by the day’s activities and by my recent interest in the history of sewing machines. It was ignited by the book, Every Quilt Tells a Story by Helen Kelley. Her mention of the Singer Featherweight prompted me to look it up on the Internet. I was in love. One thing led to another and I was mesmerized by all the vintage sewing machines, even my own Kenmore Model 15813200. I bought it somewhere in 1972/73 for under $200. It’s a long story. I better leave my mutterings here and head for bed. Tomorrow is another day.
November 22, 2018 8:47 am
Keeping a regular bedtime pays off for a good night of sleep. I think I took my obsessions of sewing machines into my sleep. I was dreaming of sewing different motiffs onto my quilt/table top I’m sewing along with catching a plane. I dreamt that we slept till almost 9 am and our plane was due to take off at noon. Yikes! My brain was busy even in sleep. My plan today is to embroider these birds onto to the quilt/table top. To embellish, I want to try out as many decorative stitches as I can on my Bernina. So I must not tarry and get on with things.