29 November 2010

Husband Make Fire

Ahhhhhhh. A drama-free Thanksgiving was had. Mother actually came to eat with us. That is roughly equivalent to a lunar landing. No addicts in the house. So nice. They take up too much space. My daughter left to spend the remainder of the weekend with her paternal grandparents and husband and I went to a cabin in the woods.

Husband likes to burn things. Doesn't he, Spencer?

We took a hike up to this water tower.

It stands watch over a sleepy lake view.

The leaves were devoid of color and yet I found them beautiful.

My constant desire to capture the reflection of the sun. You could feel the heat reflected off the water through the brisk air.

I am always impressed and haunted by these trees that die, then continue to stand year after year, through seasons and winds, storms and intense sunshine. A testimony of strength.

The sand washed out this tree. It will be years and years until it degrades. When the water comes up and covers it, it becomes petrified. Trees are decades and decades old underneath the water.

They just last and last...

Couple of very lonely horses up the mountain.

They cling to each other.

Like we do. Like we must.

22 November 2010

The Silver and Gold in Silver Bella

My last post Best Me? was such a catharsis. Thank you very much for reading it. Thank you very much for connecting with it. The bare naked truth is so very healing. I am feeling really good just saying out loud my truth that I thought I would be different than I am. I imagined some serene, content, wise woman might emerge as I grew up, but I got me instead. I am always trying to embrace the present and love the flaws, work through this and feel that. I now have to just accept that I am the kind of person that, with an embarrassment of riches in health, love,  prosperity and friends, I still whine and complain about my life. Thank you for letting me. This year has been an invaluable crucible for growth. This blog has been an essential record of it.

I want to show you the completed 'Best Me' necklace from my Sally Jean Alexander class. Kinda messy. Don't quite know what you are looking at. Beautiful. Asymmetrical. I think it is me.

One Silver Bella project completed. What a wonderful one. It means so much to me. Next, I put my efforts into completing my Josephine's Jewels bracelet from French General.

When working on this I asked Kaari whether I should put some of the charms on one side, half on the other. She said she likes to put them all facing the same direction on one side in case she wants to add ribbon and wear it as a necklace...! Never thought of that. I have taken several classes of hers and done many kits and yet she still teaches me such subtle and brilliant things. A mark of a generous artist and teacher.

Thank you Kaari. It is another delicious piece.

Here is a gift I had for Kaari to show my appreciate for her attention and creations.

A knitted corsage, just like the one Jemellia and I each have.

And thank you Silver Bella for the mirror that is you.

17 November 2010

Best Me?

Having just returned from Silver Bella with a mound of supplies and incomplete projects, I have happily been re-entering my non-Silver, non-Bella life. I have been organizing these posts in my head, how to combine them, what order, which swaps, classes, friends, vendor night... I have been looking through the blogs and seeing pictures of beautiful friends, happy creations, just the best Silver Bella ever!
But before I get on with all that, all the beauty, all the good, I have to start somewhere and that would be where I am. Where I so often seem to be.

I was not all happy! all the time! at this event. I did deeply enjoy the people (most of the people) and really did laugh and love, connected deeply on occasion. But mostly, I struggled. Struggled being with so many people, often in tight quarters. I was sensitive to things people said. I was driven wild by barely having elbow room, vintage scraps a'flyin'.

I was prickly and irritable. I looked at people laughing, happily creating and wondered, "what is wrong with me? I have such a great opportunity here, why am I all yucky?" I finally broke down to two poor ladies. I was actually complimenting on how precious they were together, happy as two peas on a pink pod. I cried trying to get that compliment out. It was the last class, a crowded room with bags and knees suffocating me. I packed up and left. I returned to my room and cried. I got out my supplies and I thought I am going finish one freaking project!

I had placed a tiny picture of my 3 year old self in a rhinestone circle with the words "best me" underneath. I gathered myself. I did what I do which is retreat, get alone, get quiet where I feel less crazy. I started to copper wrap my glass. Smooth it out. I had a conversation in my head about how this blog post would look. I would wait and write it when it became true, when I deserve an award for being my "best me."

Then it struck me. I am my best me. I actively work on all these feelings of anger, resentment, agitation. I eat well, exercise, rest my body, write in my gratitude journal, tell people I love them, create, and on and on. I confront my fears. I open my big mouth and tell people my damn truth and you don't have to like it. I am prickly. I hemorrhage, and rage monthly. I am irritable. Robin needs a big circle. I feel crazy. Sometimes I act crazy. I take care of people. When my own family doesn't even ask about my dying mother but strangers at Silver Bella do, I love them anyway. I shake and quake and cry and laugh.

This is it. I am my best me.

I am just not what I expected...

11 November 2010

On the Road, Worries Packed

Right now I am in my full prep of fret and excitement for another trip. I have gone to more things just for myself this year than in the decade prior, two decades even. I am returning to Omaha this week to attend Silver Bella art retreat for my second time. Last year, I didn't even know what I was getting myself into. I have to return for several reasons.

One, I like to get things right. I want to be more rested and aware of my limitations and pleasures this time around. I was into my odyssey of the unknown in the care and keeping of Betty Jean last year. I just wasn't sleeping. My shoulders were up around my ears in stiff anxiety about my mother living alone while I was gone. That issue is resolved now. I am sleeping better these days. I am gritting my body and my teeth less.  Less.

Two, I enjoyed the fabulousness of Silver Bella. It is art classes for all these creative souls who need to be understood and have love to give. I want to revel in their company again with all my outfits and accessories, accouterments and pretties. I want to see what they have and show them what I've got.

Three, I had a spectacular vendor show last time. I had chills and tears as this discerning crowd lined up to buy my knits. I have been creating with them in mind and am very proud of my goods, anxious to see what they think. Maybe the new is off and I will have a modest show. Maybe they will be ready to buy again. We will see. I knit to stay off mood altering medications so it's all good. I'm showing off some of my creations here today. I do not use my blog to do that often as I do not want you coming here with me always trying to sell you something. This blog is for me and I hope it connects to you.  I do love to make these things, and take their picture. I actually admire the photos of my knits every bit as much as I enjoy knitting them. So, of course I am including pictures here.

I worry that I will not sleep. I worry that I will not get my restorative time alone. But I cast fears aside and go. Go into a Tasmanian dance of pretty, shiny distractions with Jemellia, my dear little friend.

My worries are packed. But I don't think I'll bring 'em.
Wish me sleep.
That's all I'll really need because much good stuff awaits in this 5 days of Me.

10 November 2010

Patty is Nice

Just wanted to say congratulations to Patty Szymkowicz of Magpie's Nest who was the winner of the give-away sponsored by Susan and Kat Reaney of Katsui and me. 

Thank you Patty for your lovely thank you. I appreciate your gratefulness! Also, thanks for the pictures, they are so lovely, I am using them here!

08 November 2010

Stalking Sunrises

This sunrise is for my friend who ordinarily stalks sunsets.
She begins a long and arduous journey today.
While I know the way will be rocky, I am sure it will be fertile as well.

02 November 2010

Pastural Perspective

I have been debating about what to write. Generally, these posts write themselves from the logarithmic number of photographs I take. Do I write about what I have been doing? Or do I describe how I have been feeling? One seems inauthentic, the other makes me a bleeding heart bore...

October started with the anniversary of my father's death. I was melancholy but strong with a sense of freedom that made me say 'yes' to a spur of the moment trip to Coronado Island, California, just me and my girl.  I write almost nothing about my daughter here. I feel she is entitled to her privacy but also, I don't want to attract to her any lazy predators. They simply must work harder than that.

When I am with my daughter, everything is right. The pieces fit together so well, with a satisfying "clunk" as they slide into place. Our trip was filled with sunshine, walks, reading and food. For best results repeat. And we did.

I took that sense of happiness and peace with me later that week to meet with the judge regarding guardianship of my brother, incapacitated by severe mental retardation. The judge told me "thank you." There I was wringing my hands, hopeful that he would deem me worthy of becoming my brother's keeper when he stood up, shook my hand and said "thank you." Some people arrive by calling to their jobs. Judge, you sir, most certainly have.

There I was, finally in the role I had always anticipated my whole life. I would be left to fill dad's shoes in caring for mother and Kerry. Of course I will bury them too. Now that it's here, I felt peace. No more unknown in how some of this would go. No chance that my sister might shoulder the load with me. I knew I would do it all, care for mother, empty and sell her house, take over as guardian for our brother, all alone, without my sister. And even knowing it would be that way, especially knowing, I have been pissed. With a capitol P Pissed. Pissed off. Somehow, though, now that it has come to fruition, no hope remaining, there is peace.

I also feel differently about my brother, not our brother, my brother. He is mine now. I feel proud.

I was feeling pretty settled in with things, my birthday nigh, a new me, a new frontier. Alas, I awakened to find myself sad on my birthday. An old feeling surfaced. I don't know when I first felt it, four, maybe. Hope. Dashed. Resentment fueled...

I adored my sister. Thirteen years my senior, she was cute, stylish, she was my big sister! She could show up on my birthday with a Pinto load of balloons, or she could break a promise and never acknowledge me. Usually she was moody and caustic. But catch her on a good high and she was loving and funny, shiny and bright. I, like her, was addicted to Pam's Good Highs! Unfortunately I was four, or twelve and they were rare.

So old is this pattern of behavior, this paradigm of anticipate, hate, hope, and wait occurs at every single holiday, birthday, event and occasion that even after her complete estrangement with my mother and I, the old sick cycle of feelings return.

Look, I am aware of it. I just can't switch it off, or pray it away or talk it gone or knit it clean. Death and addiction to pain takes a long time to process, to die. I said I would not swallow any more pills alongside my sister, and here I was, on a bad trip, and she was no where around. But she never was. At a certain point I didn't need her to be pissed anymore. I could just lather my resentment up each morning as I was shampooing my hair, the pattern deeply in place...

I had actually started to hope that she would remember my birthday! I gently talked myself out of that hope, then anger took over as I inspected the mail, checked the phone. I become a pissed little girl, again, balloons floating out of grasp.

My husband told me last week that in all the years he has known me and watched me go through various difficulties including burying dad, going through PA school, raising a daughter, mother's illness, the sale of my childhood home, and this business with my brother, not one thing has changed me as much as the Estrangement From My Sister.

I am more intolerant.

Hmmmmmmmmm. I know where that comes from....

Mother always tolerated my sister's bad behavior. No matter how little her daughter participated or how awful she acted, mother would always say "let it go, you know how she is." The injustice infuriated me. My parents had such different expectations of me. But then again, once they doled out some tough love to my brother, he committed suicide. I understand mother's position, but it was dysfunctional, as they say, to let the most confused one lead the whole group. It caused an anger in me that all these prayers and therapy can't completely erase.

Once mother was so ill and living in my home, my sister's bad behavior escalated. I let mother know that in my house we discuss our feelings and it isn't always pretty but it seems mostly effective in the long run. In a phone conversation, mother called my sister on her decreased participation, increasing sickness and overall bad behavior. My sister hung up on mother. They have never spoken again.

That was February.

It took some time for mother and I to let her go. We detoxed. I can look back now and see how the combined stress of abandonment and end-stage illness reduced mother to near incapacitation. I cannot believe she lived through it. I have watched my parents suffer over my three siblings my entire life. Mother's spirit is strong. Once I moved her and a team of people began to care for her, she improved. That and a miracle from the grave I have yet to reveal. She was no longer enduring the stress of me alone having to lift her, even her head from the pillow each morning. She continues with pain and illness, but she is better, and she lives.

For me, letting my sister go has been the greatest peace I have ever known. I was blindsided, therefore, when I started my hope/resent cycle about my sister on my birthday.

Last Saturday I sat behind my husband on his motorcycle for a couple hundred miles throughout southeastern Oklahoma. Scenery can only keep my mind so occupied. I am used to busy hands. All those hours as a passenger afforded me time to think. I thought I would settle in and write a post in my head, however, that damn anger kept derailing my thoughts. I could not string two sentences together in all those hours. I just kept picturing a volcano the locals call Resentment, all quiet and grey, cloaking an abyss of hot molten anger.

The next day I took my Anger out for a long hard walk. Hell, I had to, it wouldn't stay home. Foot step after foot step striking the ground. How to organize this, write it, exorcise it...

I am very visual. My feelings decorate my house. Photographs organize my story and creations communicate my song. God speaks to me in vistas...

Here I was, about a mile and a half down the road when I looked up. I took in a breathtaking wedge of fence line, green pasture and hills beyond, blue sky wisped with thin clouds, cows gun metal black in the low autumn sun.

I realized I had been staring down at gravel for miles, watching the ground, daring to miss all this bucolic bliss. And God said that is what anger and resentment has done to my perspective. It cloisters me, tethering me to the grey, sharp and rocky when the green, living earth is abundant and ready to give me room to roam me if I simply live in it.

The earth has always been my best church.

Anger again is at bay. Peace has a big 'ol pasture to graze in. This post frothed forth.

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