31 March 2009

Spared from Cruising

Recently my dear friend asked me and my daughter to join her and her two children on a cruise, a seven day cruise. I looked up the website and was initially lured by the photos of a stateroom with a balcony, the luxurious meals and pages upon pages of excursions available on the exotic stops. I was tempted by the fun! sun! and adventure!

And then I traveled.

My husband has been on his job many years, many, many years. Instead of a watch, they gave him a trip, a vacation to sunny Mexico! at an all-inclusive resort! Very well thought out, very graciously planned. He had not taken a week off for eleven years. Eleven years ago he took me to the Bahamas, proposed and gave me a diamond. At that time, I thought, wow, a life with him means trips and diamonds. Well, it meant a trip and a diamond. Courtship behavior is false advertising. Ergo the fact that I bragged to him that I travel light and will pee anywhere.

We go on this really amazing trip. So during the trip I got car sick and air sick. I know this about myself. Everything makes me dizzy and nauseated. The anxiety about the dizziness and nausea gives me dizziness and nausea. I was so sick and dizzy from not sleeping on our last night that I actually threw up on the van on the way to the aeropuerta. That was awesome because 10 hours later were were stranded overnight without our luggage due to flight cancellations, I was still in my peptol-bismol-the-second-time-around pink stained jacket. Well, that made me sick and dizzy.

My husband was nice enough to me during the trip. I mean, he has some ancillary reasons for tolerating me on a trip. Like, I cook, open mail and can write prescriptions. My friend and her children really have no reason other than manners and courtesy to deal with my constant sighing, occasional earping, and narrow comfort zone.

And I love nothing more than to be van-sick, taxi-sick or air-sick and be trapped next to the most inane conversation ever. I love cheesecake. Really? I love cheesecake! I really love cheesecake with strawberries. I love cheesecake with strawberries! But not those strawberries in that stuff that looks like Close-Up. Yeah, not in that Close-Up stuff. I hate that stuff. I like strawberries though. Yeah I love strawberries. On cheesecake. Yeah strawberries on cheesecake. Oh. Just shoot me. And, when you turn around to give them a dirty look, they do not have the decency to wonder what they themselves were doing wrong? They have the audacity to look like, duh, what's your problem? She probably needs cheesecake. Heh, heh, yeah, cheesecake. With strawberries.

And everyone on a terminal, in a plane, in a van or vestibule, from Oklahoma, seems to have a chronic cough.

So this recent trip spares me the next travel opportunity! and add-on-at-no-extra-cost! vertigo of seasickness. Possibly spares a long term friendship as well. On one hand I am intolerant but on the other I whine. I love my daughter far to much to take her on a cruise....

24 March 2009

Mediation of Sewing

Light filtering in, hum of the machine, two pieces of fabric becoming one...it all is such a mediation. Feet and hands, eyes, concentration, busy efforts which allows peace to descend across the mind's three ring circus, twelve rings? Twenty rings?

I am always thinking about our nascent ancestors and how they had to live. I think about how slow their lives were in comparison to ours. Our lives greatly outpace our ability to adapt genetically. For example the incidence of diabetes is extremely high in the native American population. I was taught that they were nomadic surviving on few meals a week, boluses of meat, sustained on grain, vegetation. The recent influx of sugars into the diet came rapidly and the insulin resistance is very high, therefore diabetes runs amok. Caucasian tribes such as mine, the Scots and Irish, had exposure to sugar less recently and therefore have better adapted to modern diets. Ergo the case of lactose tolerance. People from diary lands are better adapted to tolerate the sugar lactose found in milks simply due to exposure. The genes and body adapt over time.

Because I am from Oklahoma with a rich Indian history, even if it is due to an ugly past and expulsion of Indians from the native homes as a result of politics and lies, I am very near to the idea of humans coming so recently from the woods, the prairie and grasslands. Even though we live in fast-twitch, multi-task, have-it-all time, why am I constantly over stimulated to the point of irritation? I think it is because just 100 years ago, or less if a woman made dinner for her family, it started with building a fire. That started with gathering wood, which could not have been easy to do on the Oklahoma prairie let me tell you. I think they burned cow patties, but that is beside the point. So if you want to make dinner, or have to make dinner, you have to build a fire. Bread needs grain, so you either had to make your own grain from your own fields, trade something you had for grain or actually manage to get to town by foot or horse and buy a sack of flour or corn meal. Where does the yeast come from? You have to keep your yeasts growing from batch to batch. Make the dough, kneed the dough, let it rise, put it in the pan, bake it but don't burn it. Butter? Why churn your own. Can you keep the milk refrigerated? Where do you keep your cow? Dear God, it is not easy. And that is just bread and butter. Each act a mediation.

So I think about what it took to have food and clothes. A woman spent a lot of time preparing, repairing, dealing and hauling. When I do similar tasks of repetition, I find great calm in it. Busy hands equate to a quiet mind. My brain, our human brains, are capable of multi-modal input, our bodies able to produce results rapidly, but the repetitive, mundane tasks are nearer to our adaptation.

And so, sew...sew...sew. It is a mediation. I am so lucky to have my expensive fancy machine with all that new fangled electricity to run it. But still the task of making something with fabric by my hands births something akin to slightly earlier generations and much older generations. That connection is vital to me.

Methodical work. Tasks and time. That is what our brains are currently best built for, I believe. Connecting scraps of fabric connects me to eons of humans before. That defines a mediation doesn't it?

16 March 2009

Mrs. Bird

I ran across this vial in a large button bag I purchased at an estate sale a year ago. I love this bottle so much. In 1956, a Mrs. Bird was prescribed something to take after meals three times daily. She kept the little bottle and placed buttons in it. I have not opened this bottle. But she surely did. What was in it?

Mrs. Bird may very well have been in the kitchen wearing a wonderful little organza apron, baking cookies and making potato salad for the ladies auxiliary. Maybe she had a bit of dyspepsia from all that dough rolling and such and was taking a little something for that.

Perhaps Mrs. Bird was having a bit of arrhythmia from rheumatic fever she suffered as a child. Though sickly, she had a lovely childhood where her dearest mommie and she would spend time embroidering pillow cases where they would lay their dear heads at night. Wee girl needed quite a lot of sleep, but she was a pistil and didn't let her frailty get her down. She graduated high school and married Mr. Bird just after the war. They were raising their little clutch in their happy little nest known as home.

However, my first thought was that Mrs. Bird was using mother's little helper, something in the diazepam family. Valium, perhaps. Small enough to fit a month's worth in this wee little jar. Maybe she wasn't as gleeful as everyone had hoped over that Hoover for her birthday from Mr. Bird. Maybe all the chirping from those little nestlings running around the house, screaming for their next meal didn't fulfill Mrs. Bird as Better Housekeeping suggested it might.

Maybe Mrs. Bird was in a desperate situation of longing and lust for a neighbor with whom she shared coffee and lingering hugs.

Maybe Mrs. Bird had lost herself in the needs of others and found solace for a few minutes a day writing poetry no one would read. She eventually would throw away the poetry, give up on her dreams and slip into the comfort of what that little jar held.

She outlived everyone of the other ladies in the neighborhood. She buried Mr. Bird, finally, he had gotten so much kinder in his last years, trying to get into Heaven and all. She missed him. She finally gave up all the care giving and gave herself many joyous hours of reading and writing, and needlework, until her fingers could do no more. She teetered around in a garden wild and chaotic with roses and hydrangeas and viburnum. She rocked and thought of the lost years she happily let go. And she fell asleep dreaming of her mother's hands....

10 March 2009


I only meant to make one.
But I had fabric and I was lonely.
It must have been God's will that 8 were created.

I still have more fabric...

08 March 2009

Holly Doodle Day

I only discovered blogs recently. I mean, I knew about them, I just decided to never start that up. Then I found Rebecca Sowers blog (http://rebeccasower.typepad.com/rs_out_of_hand/)which I would link to if I knew how to do that. Anyway I ended up on her Flickr pictures and even with the drooling was able to get the keyboard to work as I followed an interesting avatar over to Holly Abston's photostream and blog (http://hollydoodledesigns.com/shop/). I actually found her to be in Oklahoma and found she was teaching a class near my home. Well, clearly God was saying "Blog, Darling...."

So I enrolled in this class to make a Holly Crown, not made of holly, well, really made of Holly. Oh you get the picture. I arrived in class all decked out in clothing to match her blog and feeling a bit star struck, blog struck? Look at his sweet kit she had awaiting us!

Gently removing the seam binding as though undressing a lover but better because the experience lasts longer and there is no walk of shame later....the interior reveals....

This is better than birthday cake. The ladies laughed and were even a bit irreverent. Oh luscious spring day with Holly. I don't just heart her, I brain her as well, which is a big deal as it is arguably an equally important organ...

02 March 2009

Delicious tedium...

Tedium, my beloved. Busy hands must at all times be had. Cross stitch was the gate way to my drug of choice, needlepoint. I started needlepointing about 15 years ago. I always go back to it. Sure I am lured by the sewing computer and all its accoutrements. Knitting is so vary portable and needs no electricity. Oh but the dear stiff canvas, big eyed needle and repetitive tedium of the stitch is my siren's song.

Some people wash their hands, some pull hairs, one by one, but for me, I need my time to be a bit more productive. I have yards of needle point pillows to show for my minutes, days, years. About 10 years ago my mother, another needlepointer who has produced a football field of pillow tops, one stitch at a time, said to me, "You're young, you can make tapestries. Then you will have many years to enjoy them." I often take good advice when I hear it and so started a tapestry. It is from Ehrman Tapestry which I use exclusively. This panel is 41 by 30 inches and at 10 holes to the inch that is about 12, 300 stitches. It took 5 years to complete it.

Such tedium is a delicious compulsion. It takes great perseverance and patience to complete a project like that. Mainly I turned to tapestries because I get deeply offended when someone sits on my pillows, or worse, wads them up under their arm pit so that they may be comfortable. If these works are on the wall it is so much harder for them to get treated badly. I value them, after all, they represent my time and effort. They are pretty expensive as well. They will be here for generations to come. At least until my grandchildren use them for the dog bed, ungrateful little bastards. Its a good thing I will be dead by then.

Until then, I will keep stitching thousands more stitches, I dearly hope.

That next panel is not yet complete, and it calls me, open holes to be filled with wool thread. Delicious.

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