Monday, January 30, 2012


despite what feel rather like dire straits at the moment, our plucky heroine is doing her best to remember to live in the now...

The Bug - Dire Straits

The walking is getting better, and tomorrow will be my first post-surgery doctor appointment, which should give me some actual information about what was discovered and what potential options are. Even though it has been eleven days, I still look like I was kicked by a small angry pony, but bruises eventually fade. Did you know that superglue was used during the Vietnam War as a wound adhesive; now with personal experience, I shall never feel quite comfortable saying "I've come unglued" again.

Y'know, my SCA motto is "estimae qi est", which is kind of bad Latin for "appreciate what is". Seeing as how being a now-ist has been part of my pathway for long years, this current stuff is showing me how very far I have yet to go, but that is okay, I intend do my best to have a lot more time to get there... as Mark Knofler says in the song:
everything can change
in the blink of an eye
so let the good times roll
before we say goodbye

̿ ̿ ̿ ̿ ̿̿'̿̿\̵͇̿̿\=[^_^]=/̵͇̿̿/̿̿̿̿'̿ ̿ ̿̿̿ ̿ ̿

Sunday, January 29, 2012


on doctors orders, have been walking every day, and yes, I did explain beforehand how much I was accustomed to walking already... it helps, but walking with my camera helps even more...

art is antidote to despair;
there is always beauty, somewhere... I have believed this long and long, but is being put to the test now and found valid... focused attention paid intently is restful, in much the same way that I imagine meditation to be restful...

yesterdays walking was sunshiny, and my eye was captured here and there around the neighborhood:
This railing echos the Saratoga Street Community Garden recycled garden art-whimseys. Someone in the neighborhood is a welder...

Bless the northwet rain, moss will soften what edges hold still for it...

the tinyworld landscapes along the edges of paths, on the tops of walls, and in places where feet rarely tread, are full of delight...
soft light on a winters day; despite all, beauty abides...

myriad worlds for the finding, all you need to do is open your eyes...

Thursday, January 26, 2012

faintly japanese

Toshi the amazing home health aide... (additional drool unit optional)

J has been cooking the most amazingly healing foods for me to eat; this is miso soup, with lots of sea vegetables, and some fresh-from-the-backyard kale and arugala.

yesterday K sent food, and along with the groceries, a dozen longstem roses in burgundy and apricot.

sleeping more than a preschooler, I have come completely unstuck between day and night, between light and darkness... when I am awake, I walk... when I am not walking, my mind is only partially my own, and partially out on the edge... watching movies is a place to rest, with gratitude to G for making that possible... I am not sure perzactly who I will become on this path. I can feel change happening, as I attempt to balance between the hard won self that I actually liked, and the unknown self I am becoming...

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

wishful Wednesday

in which our plucky heroine hunts for her wayward equanimity...

It has been quite the rocky road this last week. In some ways my recovery is going well, I have been walking quite a lot, started the afternoon I was returned to the bright world, and now that I'm back at home, I have been doing halfmile chunks (on the flat) between the sleep/rest/eat/meds rotation. Up till yesterday, have been hopeful about my progress, despite astonishingly colorful bruising both along the "cut on the dotted line" and on both arms. I would make a very unsuccessful junkie, with my teensy veins. Pathology results back yesterday: information given me by phone is contradictory and not good, requiring yet more and scarier foo. Dr visit scheduled for next Tuesday, a very long time to wait for data, so I have put in a request for a phone consult... (If you want more details, contact me off-line)
• • •

turning past the solstice, the days get longer, and chickens tiny thoughts turn to eggs... look what was in the henhouse yesterday:

• • •

One thing I find tiresome about being ill, or dealing with medical-foo is the way that the world gets very small. Cannot be helped, as so much personal attention must needs be focused on healing, requiring great mental effort to shift focus out of own bellybutton. Despite that, I was very glad to read that the ongoing and ugly dispute at the port of Longview is being resolved. "These aren't Wal-Mart jobs," said Fuqua, a Local 21 longshoreman. "These are family-wage jobs with good benefits. That's what America needs."
• • •

I am righteously weary of being on the short bus, of jumping through smaller and smaller hoops that are labeled "for most folks this takes care of the problem" and finding not rest, but another hoop...

I know that I am not special in this regard, that I am lucky at all to have any medical treatment at all, that there are myriads of folks dealing with far harder things. For as long as I have memory of self-consciousness I have held in my hands the twinned knowledge of mortality and random luck, walking under the warm light of blessings known and unknown. I know that I am not alone in asking for more time...

my wish for today is that my doctor will tell me that this was enough, that I can put my attention on recovery of internal and external continuity, that at least for the time being I get to have my life back.

Monday, January 23, 2012


in which our plucky heroine returns from the dark world... Crazy-Ivan maneuver successfully completed and re-route begun; hopefully left Reavers in the dust.

The last few days back at Acorn Cottage have been alternating sleep, eat, walk, awake... repeat as needed... small intervals of conversation and movie watching. I really enjoyed the Temple Grandin film that my friend E lent me

S drew designs on my feet while I was in hospital. An eye on my left foot, and a raven on my right foot, to watch over me in surgery; the day after she added more decorative context to them. I love having artist friends...

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

wishful Wednesday

"Love has made a circle that holds us all inside..."
- Kate Wolf

G took this lovely picture of the talisman necklace, in the current state of xp1. There are still a number of beads currently en route to Acorn Cottage, which will be added once they arrive. Most importantly, it is in a configuration that will allow me to wear it tomorrow, for as long as is possible before the journey...

dog will not settle
paces restless before the door

T-minus 8 hours

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

no puppies here...

In which our plucky heroine contemplates an adventure usually reserved for responsible dog owners... I figure as long as I can find my sense of humor, all will be well in the end, and I will stay "me"

Despite random flurries the temperature here is too warm for it to stick, so we seem to be spared so far the snowpocalypse that is in the forecast. Grateful for that, since little sister is arriving at the airport today. G will be coming down here to Portland later this evening, and while there is a lot of snow up where he lives, I have no worries about his driving.

More beads today in my mailbox, these are most obviously from my dear friends at White Hart Forge. there are even tiny runes on the iron bead (I shall have to ask H for a translation) Tonight or tomorrow will be time to assemble the gathered beads, with room for those that will arrive afterwards. When writing to a pal on FB I said to her: "the beads are a lens that helps focus the love"; indeed that is what talismans do, they are a focus, a seed crystal, a reminder and a message to our inner self...
forged iron and carved tigereye from H & D
floral lampwork bead from C (made by L)

• • •

dog will not settle
paces restless before the door

T-minus 2 days

Monday, January 16, 2012

Monday musings and media

In the cold morning, woke up and went to let the hens out, came back in the house for my camera; there is always something worth looking at, the trick being are you paying attention...

Frozen ice all wrinkled, last night's forecast snow merely mingy sprinkles.

Lacinato kale: the frost only brings out sweetness, when it reaches the kitchen.
• • •

I am so very grateful to have made it into OHP (after being on the waiting list for five years) before all this medical foo came down. For years had no insurance coverage at all, and while became pretty dang clever about how to manage to get at least minimal care, my situation now would be a nightmare if that was still the case. Even with the hours that I spend currently on the phone sorting stuff out, is much less problematic than would be otherwise.

Had my pre-op appointment with Dr Winter. It is a great relief to have confidence in the surgeon, and I feel that way each time I have met with him, that he answers my questions directly and honestly, not saying "oh don't worry it will be allright" I like that he has a sense of humor. I like that he gave me a hug. If, as needs must, this trip must be taken, having a good team on the other side of the equipment is comforting.

And on the civilian side, my support team of friends and family are the best. If wishes were horses I would ride away to the land of recovery in the middle of a vast herd. I will be posting in a while, (once I know what kind of help will be most useful, and once my kindly 24-7 helpers have returned to their regularly scheduled lives) and asking for short daily visits of helpfulness, for the few things that I will need help with. Wanna come feed the hens? watch a movie? keep me from going bonkers? Later this month those will all be options...
• • •

The multi-talented Terri Windling has a blog The Drawing Board, and often posts "Music For a Monday"; I have found real gems there...

This brought tears to my eyes, but then a lot of things seem to do that nowadays...
• • •

dog will not settle
paces restless before the door

T-minus 3 days

Sunday, January 15, 2012

noms and numbs

Some more beads arrived this week, and I am both heart-touched by the kind thoughts (as well as the kind thoughts from those too faraway to be able to send beads) and enjoying mulling over ideas of how to actually construct said necklace with all these wonderfully diverse gifts, wanting to allow for additions as beads arrive... 'Tis a fun thing to hold in mind, while much else in my mind is all in roiling turmoil. "Look, here is this shiny thing rather than this dark whirlpool..."

The little golden catface came from Kat, the turquoise ceramic bead from Cynthia, Stacy made the spotted lampwork bead, and Emily gave me the one with silvery celtic knotwork. The coins were from the workbench of my dear recently late friend Ian, and his lady Karen brought me the carved Indonesian sea turtle. The shell arrowhead was carved by Gryphon. I know that there are a number of additional beads in transit, various folks have called or emailed me. If love can lift the challenge I face, then surely it will be chased out of dodge by the strong circles that surround me; the brightness is what lights my steps on this unknown path...

I have been cooking soups to stash in the freezer, and yesterday went to the wintertime farmers market downtown, hoping for some fresh veggie treats for the next few days before I am no longer allowed food. Not only did I find the most adorably tiny spaghetti squash, and lacinato kale, but a small splurge brought home some lamb riblets. Lamb is my favorite meat, other than elk; riblets are currently in the convection oven roasting on low. They will be a tasty late lunch, along with my favorite kale salad.

My feelings about the upcoming surgery are alternating between terror and numbness. I guess that is better than constant terror. My mind is calm, knowing the necessity, but my emotions are unwilling to sign on with the program. So I turn my focus to remembering that I am loved, which helps. The other thing that seems related is that it is being very hard to force myself to do the housey-prep things necessary, the sorting and culling and reconfiguring of my fabric and craft supplies. It seems that my inner self figures that if I do not prepare, then it will not happen...

Hi ho hi ho, off to sort more fabric I go...

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

wishful Wednesday

"To see that your life is a story while you're in the middle of living it
may be a help to living it well."
~ Ursula LeGuin

Today, the sky was clear and full of wind, all the puddles turned to layered ice, and the dried samaras on the maple etched a pattern across the sky...

Today I finished reading Wildwood. I have not yet decided if I liked it or not as a story; shall need further thought on what meta-information is conveyed, which affects my feelings about story quite a bit. I did like the illustrations, assorted line drawings and silhouettes with a scattering of color plates, which seemed both contemporary and as if they would age well.

Today's post in The Archdruid Report I found very interesting. The idea that the unexpected paradigm of our time is that "we have somehow gotten stuck, all seven billion of us, inside the pages of a pulp fantasy novel" is something that I shall be mulling over, with further re-reading of his essay. Since I've not a current transit-friendly handwork project, there is a lot of time for cogitation whilst going back and forth to work.

Today, the first beads for the talisman necklace were left here for me. Aren't they spiffy? The cat head is from my friend L, and the other two beads were made by her partner C. There are awards and tokens given for many reasons; this will be a necklace of valor and love. I have heard from a number of my beloved friends that beads are on the way here, and have, as well, various beads and baubles that have been gifted to me over time, that seem suitable to include in such a project.

I am, in truth, quite materialistic, not in the condemnatory sense, but rather in the orientation that cherishes the material world... I wrote about it in 2008:
I think that being "materialistic" is actually not such a bad thing. If it is possible to cherish the beauty of the world, both the living world and the made world, without being attached to it. This includes, for me, doing all I can to care for, make thoughtful choices, and live lightly on the planet. When I was in school I really struggled to justify my desire to live as a person who makes things, often luxury things, in a world that is already stuffed to bursting with things. But a thingmaker is what and who I am, that is the flavor of being I was born as; even as a tiny child that was what I did...
"Let the beauty you love be what you do.
There are a thousand ways to kneel and kiss the earth."
~ Rumi
To have a tangible object to use as a focus will be of great help to me, and to help create it will be a way of both honoring and deepening the bonds between all of our circles. This seems something that I can do to prepare myself; I know that like Innana descending into the Underworld I am being asked to surrender much, that was the image that came to me while waiting for my surgery in November. That I must make my peace with uncertainty is both the challenge and the opportunity that awaits me.

dog is restless, ears up
and watching the door
T-minus 9 days

Monday, January 9, 2012

tuesday tidbit - talisman beads

I have been doing my best to find a pathway to calm acceptance of this journey that I find myself on. On Friday, my dear friend Rois sent me this letter, describing a project that she began for me, a talisman for my upcoming surgery:
My Beloved Friend Alison,

I have been thinking about you and your up coming surgery a lot and hearing you when you speak of your worries over the whole process and going under during the surgery.

Yesterday on my way home from work I hatched a plan as a way to help you feel the love and good wishes everyone has for you during this time.

When Sol was due my Midwife asked all of my friends to give me a single bead, all of those beads were for a Birthing Necklace to bring Sol and I love, strength and good things. I wore my necklace during my labor.

I have emailed many of your friends and asked them to A. send you a bead and B. pass the request forward. The response to my email has been awesome. : )

It is my hope that soon folks will be stopping by with their beads or sending them via the mail. I made sure everyone knows to get the beads to you ASAP since your date is close.

I want you to have your necklace as you are waiting in pre op and to have afterwards to remind you that each of those beads represent a friend who cares and wishes you well. I know you are a person who needs to see things and have things you can touch. I hope each bead can help you feel strong and not so alone.

I love you and you mean the world to me. We all can't be there to hold your hand and wipe your tears if they come. But we can be there through our beads as a reminder that you are LOVED and things are going to be all right.

All of my Love

Her thoughtful and kindhearted idea brought me to tears. I do not know who she has contacted, but should any of you out there also want to send me a bead*, it would be much appreciated. The circles of love that we hold one another in are the true wealth of the world, that I know to be true.

dog is restless, ears up
and watching the door

T-minus 10 days

*let me know if you want/need my contact information

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Monday musings

Had a message this morning from the West Kingdom; the medallion that I finished and sent out last week did make someone very happy indeed. Now that it has gone to a new home, I can share the picture here... a heraldic Laurel pendant, with the main charge of the recipients arms, in a bas-relief rose setting with pendant freshwater pearls.

G came down to visit this weekend, much to my delight. We had plenty of time to talk things over (this being the last visit before my surgery); I feel so very lucky to have him in my life; this last year, for all the other difficulties, has been one of unexpected happiness. We mostly stayed in, there was movie watching and story reading, we moved the henyard fencing, and on Saturday night S & B came over to share some of my homemade gingerbread and tea, and we four played Carcassonne.

Having torn apart the guest room pile of mixed up fabric and stuff, everything now looks much worse (temporarily). There were four empty cardboard boxes in that pile! Two grocery sacks are full of paper recycling, three sacks went to Goodwill already, and it still looks like a rubbish tip in there. I keep telling myself that it will be sorted out by the end of the week. Found a good assortment of medium-sized baskets, to put handwork projects in for convalescent sanity-preserving. Am scouting around the cottage for tidy storage containers for all the fabric that will not fit on the shelves, or it might be better to put all the random craft supplies into boxes, and then use the closet space for additional textile stuff...hmmm... decisions decisions...

dog is sleeping
T-minus 11 days

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Friday fragments

Oh dear, somehow it has become marmalade season, and I've not yet done any preserving! Will there be time to make up a batch or two in the next week and a half? Well maybe, if I spend less time online. It would be a sad thing indeed to go into 2012 with no marmalade in the pantry...

New Seasons had smoked ham shanks on sale after New Years Day for 99¢/lb, which is astonishingly excellent for local pork processed in house. They were nice huge meaty pieces too! For under four dollars, there are seven half shank pieces in the freezer, some bone-in and some boneless, and the eighth piece made crockpot split peas soup... There will be a lot more soup in my kitchen this winter, and this will help keep it flavorful.

I want to try something that I read recently in Cooks Magazine - they wrote that if you are making hummus, and want it to be nice and smooth, do not chill the garbanzos. Apparently it also works if you warm up canned garbanzos, some kitchen experimentation is called for...

I splurged just a tiny bit today, (boy howdy it is super easy to order things online, good thing I have mighty strong will power, or I could get in a lot of trouble) Ordered two of my favorite Jesse Colin Young CD's: "Lightshine" and "Song for Juli", and Miyazaki's "Porco Rosso". I'll be saving them for when I am a convalescent. Back in the day, those albums were some of my favorite coming down music; Porco Rosso has been on my (very)short list of "want to own" movies for a really long time. Other than this, I am starting to put together small baskets of crafty goodness to keep boredom at bay, knitting and embroidery and handwork oh my...
Well, back to sorting and organising...

with one ear up,
dog circles round,
ready to sleep

T-minus 13 days

precious and/or ephemeral

While I've not been very active lately, the SCA has been a significant part of my life for most of the last twenty years. My, how time flies! My enameling and metalworking skills have been much encouraged by folks desire for jewelry suitable for persona of various medieval and renaissance eras, and for award medallions and brooches that reflect the effort and acclaim such awards signify.

This is a quite elaborate piece of jewelry, that I made a number of years ago, and recently had the chance to see again and take a few pictures... The design is based on medieval Persian ornaments, with a central reliquary and an elaborate necklace. The enameling is a variation on cloisonne, using transparent tea rose enamel on silver for a vivid golden color.
The design of the filigree on the reliquary is based on personal heraldry, combined with the insignia of the Order of the Laurel, as this is a delightfully individual interpretation of the standard Laurel medallion. It was a joy to me to create this piece of regalia for my dear friend Goran; and to see her this last December at Yule Feast in Glymm Mere.

Today, after many errands, and being entirely unable to find a 2012 calendar that I wanted to look at all year, it was time to start to make my own. Since 2011 added an abundance of digital images to my files, that seemed a fun place to begin. The plan is to use half sheets of card stock for the individual pages, and collage the top half of each with one of my own pictures, and whatever else takes my jackdaw fancy... Perhaps I shall post the results, but for now, this is the page with the twelve photos that made the cut...
(click picture to embiggen)

with one ear up,
dog circles round,
ready to sleep

T-minus 14 days

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

not with real cats

in which our plucky heroine gets inspected injected and detected, though they did leave a few parts un-touched... (boy howdy do I wish that they used real cats* instead!)

After very little sleep last night, left the house this morning while the sky was still a very dark navy blue; the sun was up by the time I transferred from one bus line to another on the way to hospital. A kindly gentleman let me know not only where the transfer point was, but also that the hospital runs a shuttle bus from the big transit center all round the complex - must look into that for future trips, though I surely hope that I do not need to be spending a significant amount of time there.

While I was warned that it would be necessary for me to have an IV, it was a surprise to also be required to drink a quart of the most nasty-poison tasting "water" (iodine contrast dye) The other folks in the waiting room, each of us with our lovely quart bottles, we kept joking that this was the worst bar ever, that the drinks were not what we ordered, and suchlike...Having a bit of humor is always helpful!

As seems to be common, the technician told me that the "restrict liquids" before coming in for the test was NOT necessary and in fact made the IV more difficult. No sh*t sherlock - was rather horrible, because they had to use a big needle (I have weensy tiny veins, which match my weensy tiny paws) without any lidocaine. It hurt, rather a lot, even after they got the whole gizmo in place. I cried, rather a lot. Crying makes me feel like such a wimp. The actual scan was not too bad, and over quickly; there were nice pillows for my head and arms, and the most ergonomic cushion thing for my knees and legs (the tech said that folks always want to steal it! ha ha) The contrast infusion was MUCH more intense than the previous CAT scan. I kept telling the tech: "I'm on fire, I'm on fire!" As instructed, I spent a lot more time drinking water for the rest of the day than usual, they want you to flush all those chemicals out out out afterwards.

* the beautiful real cat in the picture is Fizzgig, who lives with my friend V.

dog is restless,
pacing the room,
T-minus 15 days

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

becoming organised ?

In the nick of time, the current studio project is completed and sent off to it's new home. (You can see just the edge of it down in the bottom righthand corner; pictures after the weekend) Did feel good to get some shop time in, and thankfully there were no untoward hiccups in the process. When working on tiny things, I often remove my spectacles; being terribly nearsighted can sometimes be a good thing...

Next up for the Acorn Cottage rehabilitation team, aka our plucky heroine, is clearing the decks for rest and recovery. Finally starting to feel some mojo about that part of the process, or maybe it is the spell of the shelves working. Is very possible that there is more fabric here than will fit on that wall, we shall have to see.

On the shelves: lengths of fabric large enough for an actual garment. In boxes: smaller useful pieces sorted by color, to be used for embellishment. Dunno yet what to do with all the other random crap that is interspersed, will be curious to see what turns up. I'd like it very much if this became the Year Of Becoming Organised, which will be an amazingly useful thing if when I pull it off. After all, part of being resilient is knowing what supplies you have and where they are!

dog is restless,
pacing the room,
Tminus 2½ weeks

Sunday, January 1, 2012


in which our plucky heroine attempts summation...

Overall, looking back through a year of what seemed worth writing down, and remembering what was too sharp to commit to words, 2011 has been a year of difficulty and joy intermixed. Losing a close friend, and my own ongoing health challenge are heavy on my heart nowadays. And was I successful in meeting the goals that seemed both lofty and realistic last January? Not specifically; the hopeful concepts did not end up connecting with specific actions. But, in a way, there was progress in kindness, handicraft, and infrastructure.

While I am no more nimble or lithe than when the last year turned, I did get my left hand repaired, and expect that now it will last me my time. That project took a fair bit of concerted effort over much time to arrange, and several months to recover from.

A fair bit of travel this last year, to California and back on the train, a number of happy visits up to Littlerock and environs thereabout, and field trips both round the city, eastwards to Mt Hood and to New Stonehenge, and west to the coast. Travel is an adored treat, and these trips all had dear folks either accompanying or at journeys end.

There was plenty of the usual sewing room projects, though more focused on the practical than the fanciful this year. The camera saw a lot more use this year as well, gradually becoming a familiar companion on my rambling round. Workroom projects were not as numerous as in former years, but there were enough to keep my skills from rusting (of course, having months off to let my hand heal was part of that...)

Acorn Cottage had some modest improvements this year: the pantry shelves are now reinforced with openwork grilles (in lieu of doors) that will help keep the contents in place, there is a new light fixture and beautiful nightlight in the bathroom, new shelves in the sewing room and a frame for the guest futon, undercabinet LED lights in the kitchen, and most wonderful of all there are no longer holes in the workroom ceiling, but that is all neatly patched over. A beginning was made on an improved garden plan for the future, and the remaining hens are busy clearing off the grass.

A great deal more focus on adding resilient knowledge this year; while I have some solid skills already, there is always more to learn. Have a bit better stocked "earthquake/emergency shelf" than this time last year, and good connections to other friends with similar concerns. The "Resiliency Rangers" took several field trips last year, up into the hills, where there was a chance to do what one dear friend describes as "making sudden loud noises and knocking over cans..."

I started learning how to handle firearms this year, a skill that had always seemed as necessary and useful to my mind as knowing how to swim. What began as a random conversation with a friend ended up with an invitation, and has turned into an ongoing interest and activity. This might just make some folks quite confused, who see me as the crunchy-hippie gal I appear to be, but then I plumb refuse to fit my life into any particular style of box.

And, the most unexpected change in the last year has been that Gryphon and I began keeping company together, after many years of being friends. That ongoing bond has been a great joy to me, and a continuing source of wonder and delight, in ways that I've not the words to say here...

May the year unfolding ahead bring more brightness and less hardship, more connection and less confusion; may we all come to the year ahead bringing our useful skills and steadfast hearts to do what needs doing, with love and laughter and a sprinkling of hope for a future we can all live in together, where our differences do not overshadow what we have in common.

In place of resolutions for the new year, instead I have chosen only one word: UNDAUNTED - meaning "courageously resolute especially in the face of danger or difficulty"