We the People

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My family, both immediate and extended, absolutely confounds me. We’re an odd clan.

On the surface, we’re a disparate bunch. Special little snowflakes we are, no two alike. Our commonality seems to lie in our quirks. There’s a darkness in there, a desperate attempt to continually rationalize our existence. We’re deep thinkers, mullers, worriers. Several of us, myself included, are chronic insomniacs. We’re introverts. We’re hard to get to know, and not easy to understand. Anyone who partners with us needs infinite patience.

There’s a stubborn streak a mile wide, too, which over the years has caused separations, feuds, misunderstandings, and estrangements. Some get mended, but some fester to the grave. I think my deepest fear is that the next time we all see each other will probably be at a funeral, and even then, it will not be okay.

I do not exclude myself from the above. I may be the culmination of centuries of neurotic, existential angst. I am the Apex of Angst.

A colleague said to me once that her family put the “fun” in dysfunctional. I wouldn’t say that of us. It’s not “fun” being like this. It’s torturous.

For me, I leave the door open. If things are to be mended, they will be. If not, so be it. Some of my family are beyond mere ties of blood. All connection is important, as orphans know, I’m sure.

And yet, there are ties, things that only your people understand. There are stories, and histories, lore and legends. There are ancestors and heirlooms. There is love, deep love, for those who have been our people forever. Sometimes your family are the only ones who get it. Home is where you hang your hat, and quite often, your head. We cast off our company manners, our best behaviour, and are our real, true, warts and all, butt-scratching, nose-picking selves. It’s a relief, this idea of “home”, and often the only place we want to be. It’s refuge, and certainly of safety.

Family. You only get one, and you don’t have a choice.

Warm

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Hey, did you miss me? 

I’ve been away from Blogland for a while.  The things on my mind were not blog material.  I don’t like being super-negative and/or involving other people and/or talking about work.  So, when I’m not on here, you can be pretty sure it’s just because there’s lots of stuff on my mind, but none of it is really share-able.  Yes, I DO have a filter.  Surprise.

So, unless you want boring crap about how cold it is and what I’m making for dinner, just wait.  Something will come.  But yeah, it sure is cold.  Nice to have a blanket or two around to curl up in.  I’m appreciating my duvet, pre-warmed by a trio of cats, and my flannel jammies on these cold nights, for sure.

If you’re on my facebook, you may have noticed that I’ve been thinking about blankets lately, and the idea of blanketing, and what it all means.  It started at Christmas.  Last year, I made this ridiculously huge blanket, mostly because little squares are a good take-along project.  It got OUT OF CONTROL.  It was meant to be a queen-size bed blanket.  Then it turned into king-size.  Then California-king-size.  Then…  well, I’m not sure if there’s anything bigger than that.  It’s a lovely thing, blues and greens and greys, but it’s a monster.

I decided hmm…maybe a Christmas gift for my brother and sister-in-law, who have a very cozy family indeed, and might fill and appreciate such a lovely, squishy thing.  After the fact, my brother told me he had seen the picture I posted on facebook of the blanket, and had been secretly coveting it.  Nice to nail a gift like that!  It’s a bedspread/cuddle-cover/fort-roof.  The youngest has named it the Giant Blanket That Ate New York.  They posted a photo of a blanket fort, primarily made from said GBTANY and another blanket that my mother made for my brother, many years ago, before she passed away.  It gave me a squishy heart-thrill to see that fort.

As I think I’ve said before, Mum was an excellent needleworker.  She made most of my clothes growing up, her own, and my Barbie’s too.  My brother will tell you about a pair of mittens she whipped up on a train ride with him.  Dad wore both his brown and his dark-green Mary Maxim zip-up sweaters on a regular rotating basis.  She could quilt, embroider, knit, crochet, mend…well, I can’t really think of anything in that vein that she hadn’t mastered.  Her “retirement job” after teaching was at Fabricland in Bracebridge.  She loved making display pieces for the store, and I think her employee discount meant more to her than her actual wages.

Back in the early 70′s (in the before time, poppets…), ponchos were the height of style.  I had a pink store-bought one, but my favourite was the crocheted granny-square poncho that my Mum made.  But, styles change, and it was relegated first to a lap-blanket spread on my bed, and then to a closet somewhere. 

When I went away to university, though, my mother took that poncho out of storage, picked apart all the squares, and incorporated them into the border of an afghan.  It’s a pretty ugly afghan, truth be told.  It is, however, draped over the back of the very chair in which I sit right now.  It is a Thing That Has Lasted, and stirs memories, and deep, inter-generational connections that something from a store never could.Image

Another Year…

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I guess it’s time for a year-end roundup.

So, this has been a pretty good year, all told.  I turned 50 this year, which I can hardly believe.  Inside, I’m still a confused kid.  But, now I’m a confused kid with lots of experience. 

I got engaged this year.  Never thought I’d do THAT again.   It feels right.  We’re not perfect, but we are good for each other.  We work well together, we laugh a lot and we have each other’s backs.  It’s a good feeling to have someone who thinks about you and your well-being, and also to have someone to care for, sooth and protect from the big bad world.  Den, you are an amazing man, and you continue to delight and amuse me as this “thing” continues to unfold.

I rediscovered painting this year, too.   I’m no Picasso, but I’m getting a lot of personal satisfaction from it.  Regardless of the quality of the finished product, the process is what I need at the end of the day.  It brings back memories of wonderful art teachers, and wordless world of colour, light and form which is a welcome release from my over-active brain nonsense.

On the family front, I continue to be amazed by my sons and their achievements.  Watching these little boys turn into men is incredible, and I am so proud of both of them, their personal moral compasses, and their dedication to society in their chosen professions.  They’re also a hell of a lot of fun, really. 

Also happy that my Dad has found a new lease on life in the form of an old flame.  He’s weathered some health concerns, too, and is doing well.

Also, can’t say enough how much my relationships with my brother Tim and his wonderful family mean to me.  They are a special warm centre in my life, and a visit to them is always life-affirming,   watching the kids grow and find their own grooves.

Still at the gym.  I fall down, sometimes, but I feel strong and well and energetic.

Some changes at work.  Still in the same position, but I feel now like I’ve been heard, and like I’m no longer just a workhorse.  Feeling a little more respected and appreciated, and still so happy with the awesome, drama-free team that I’m privileged to be part of.  Love to all my colleagues.  You are the best.

And really, that’s about it.  Sometimes I slip back, sometimes things are frustrating.  But all in all, this is an amazing life. 

“Only connect.”  Connection and creation, appreciation and love all around.  That’s what matters.

Namaste.

From the Desk of Debbie Downer

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So, as we all know, I am the Bull Goose Champion Worrier.  I not only worry about my OWN stuff, and YOUR stuff, I worry on global scale!  Here’s some stuff that’s buggin’ me right now, and seriously, this does keep me up nights. 

1.  Asteroids.  Apparently, sometimes we can’t even see them coming.  I heard this on the CBC this morning.  An asteroid one measly kilometre wide could wipe us all out.  Sometimes they sneak out from behind the sun, and no one even sees them coming.  BOOM.  Buh bye…

2.  North Korea.  Who knows what the heck they’re gonna do?  That’s a hella messed-up place, run by a spoiled little fat boy who likes uniforms and pretending to be some kind of half-deity like his weird old man.  Is he even old enough to vote?  If someone double-dog-dares him, will he hit the button?

3.  That nuclear reactor mess in Japan.  Umm…it’s spewing radiation into the Pacific ocean, ya know.  Just sayin’.

4.  Giant garbage islands in the oceans.

5.  Global warming.

6.  Disappearing bees.  This is totally freaking me out.  Huge numbers of dead bees are showing up.  If the bees go, we go.  All disappearing species, really.  Scary stuff.

7.  GMOs.  There’s people DNA in your potatoes, folks.  Taterpeeps.  NO NO NO.  This should not be in potatoes, it should not.

8.  The next big wave of people-annihilating influenza.  Pretty sure it’s coming, and the flu shot isn’t going to do it, folks.  Pandemic.

9.  They keep finding disembodied feet washing up on the coastlines.  What’s with that?  Where’s the rest of them?

10.  People hatin’ on other people.  People hatin’ on women, on LGBT folks, racial hatred, religious intolerance, xenophobia.  Why the hell can’t we all just play nice?  You be you and I’ll be me and we’ll all place nice.  Want to trade?  I have peanut butter.

11.  Being at the tail end of the baby boom.  By the time I get there, will my retirement funds still be there?  Or will I be lining up the Fancy Feast?  I hope I can have candles and nice china at least, that would make it REALLY fancy.

12.  Overpopulation, subsequent food and housing needs, and the “need” for more consumer goods is taking over valuable farmland.  An iPad isn’t going to do you much good if there’s nothing to eat.  Soylent green is people.  Yum.

That’s my list for today.  Have a happy rainbow sparkle day!

Ready

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Something I’ve noticed lately, is that I have always left a little bit out.

I leave a little space.  I hold a little back.  I leave a window cracked; keep a bit of money aside.  I keep a light burning.  I leave a place set for Elijah.  A small part of my secret heart is mine and mine alone.

I have no idea what this is about.  It’s just – in case.  In case something happens.  In case of need, my own need, or the need of someone else.  I’m not sure who, or what that need might be.  So, I’m not sure what to keep back, and what to use up;  to live for today, or set aside for tomorrow.

There’s a core of something that I need to protect, but it’s buried so far that I can’t even identify it. 

All I know is, that when I get a feeling about something, I need to pay attention to it.  I know, typical Cancer-child, hoodoo, claptrap, existential Lynne nonsense.  But that little voice has been right more often than not, and I ignore it at my own peril.

And yet, I feel light, and hopeful.  Whatever it is, it has not come yet, and isn’t on the horizon any time soon.  Life is steady, slow and sweet.  Stresses are controlled, demons are locked in the cupboard.  I can hear them scratch and scrabble at times, but mostly, they’re quiet.  I’ve stopped feeding them.

But I am ready.  I am always ready, and always have been.

 

 

The Truth is Out There, Scully

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I feel like I need a kinder, gentler life right now. Sometimes the world at large is far, far too much for me. I need to be bubble-wrapped, coddled, cooed over. Lately, I can’t seem to tolerate the least bit of negativity outside of work, as I get so much of it in the course of my job.

So, I haven’t been out and about much in the last while, except for essential obligations. I’m at home, painting. All that matters when I paint is colours, shapes and shadow. My brain goes into some kind of stasis, where I can’t think about anything, which is vastly relieving. What I’m going to do with all these paintings, I have no idea. I’ve sold several, actually, but that was not the point to the exercise at all (although I’m not complaining, goodness knows, it is a wonderful thing to make a little money doing something I love). I paint what I paint. If someone likes it, I’ll happily sell it to them, but at this point, I need to just let it flow.

Going to the doc tomorrow. Maybe I need to go back on antidepressants. I hate the thought of it. I thought I had conquered this “thing” through diet and exercise, but it seems to be back, and with a vengeance. I spend every Sunday night just absolutely vibrating, generally right on the verge of tears, often spilling over. No one can say anything to me without me taking it in the most negative way possible. I feel like I’ve lost my sense of humour entirely (which for me, is a very, very bad sign).

I want to try one of those SAD lights, but I’m not entirely convinced that that is actually the problem.

It’s the frontline service that’s getting to me. The constant stream of stress and misery is eating me up. I’ve tried counselling, self-care, courses, “toolkits” – well, just about everything I can think of, really. I know it’s been worse before, I know, and I’m grateful for having wonderful colleagues and a supportive work environment, it makes a huge difference, and is probably part of why I’ve been able to hold out this long.

No, it’s the people I deal with, every blessed day.

I WANT TO BELIEVE. I want to believe that what I’m doing is for the good of society. I want to believe in the deserving poor. I want to recognize the dignity and humanity in people. I want to believe in karma, and in gratitude. I need to find that place again where I can reconcile my abstract beliefs with my day-to-day reality.

But, I’m not in that place right now, and I’m having trouble even remembering where it is.

Can You Paint An Elephant? I Dunno If I Have That Much Paint!

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I’ve started painting again.  I haven’t painted in many years.  I took art all through highschool, and a couple of classes in university.  Somehow, I was never able to loosen up enough to be adept at it.  I guess looseness has come with age, as I’m more pleased with my work now than I ever was before.  I no longer have to get a good mark, or paint “meaningful” things, and I’m free to do whatever I please, regardless of who else it pleases.

Funny thing is, it seems to please people.  Maybe not professional artists, or art critics, or teachers.  I’ll never be able to do this for a living, I’m sure, but I have sold several paintings, and it’s very satisfying.  Far more so than trying to sell handmade yarn, or knitted goods.  People are not willing to pay what those things are really worth.  Is it because they’re “woman’s” art, considered more of a craft than an art really?  Because honestly, I’ve had people try to talk me down on a $20 handspun hat that took many, many hours of work.  It’s frustrating.  I was often not even making back the cost of my materials.

I buy my art supplies at the dollar store, honestly.  Maybe if I was professional, I would look down on me, but the cheapness makes me fearless.  It doesn’t matter if it’s good.  Mistakes don’t matter. 

I’m a dabbler, I know.  I always have to be making something.  I have dabbled in spinning, knitting, crochet, sewing, embroidery, cross-stitch, paper crafting, photography, singing, flute, guitar, writing, etc., etc.  I have taken to cooking, too, which is not only creative, but super-tasty.

Lately I have been stressed at work.  Fifteen years of the constant grind of front-line client service is getting to me.  I think too much.  I worry too much.  So, I’ve been seeing a therapist to try and find some coping mechanisms.  He looks like Leonard Maltin, and I’m tempted to discuss movies with him.  It’s a pretty good look for a therapist, really, when you think about it.  He’s been very helpful.  Like most good therapists, he seems to clarify more than instruct; I find my own solutions.  The painting was my idea, but he wholeheartedly approved it.  Apparently it uses a different part of the brain, not the super paranoid worrywart part.

Oddly, most of which I learned about light and shade, composition, perspective, and the art of seeing, I did NOT learn in university.  The best teachers I ever HAD were those I had in highschool:  Mr. Rainey, Miss Schmetz, and Mr. McKeen.  Thankless work, that, being a highschool art teacher.  These were all very talented people;  unique, vibrant personalities.  A lot of students took art because it was considered a “bird” course.  Unlike the “academic” stream, we were all squashed together, regardless of our abilities or lack thereof.  There was a lowest common denominator – you had to show up, and you had to create something.  I found, though, that there was a wealth of information being presented, if you cared enough to absorb it.  A lot of it comes back to me, usually with the voice of the appropriate mentor.  And if you knew Miss Schmetz, that was quite an interesting voice indeed.  I’m still cagey about chewing gum.  Mr. McKeen was soft-spoken and gentle, a really lovely man.  But I think everyone’s favourite was Mr. Rainey, that red-headed, bearded, bundle of creative energy.  There was a man who loved his work, and his students. 

So, back at the old BMLSS, down the very bottom of the hill, through the auto shop, to the weird and wonderful world that was Mr. Rainey’s class, was one of the best places I knew to be.  It’s gone now – the whole school is gone, actually. 

But the spark is still there.  Now, though, it’s for the sheer love of it.

Namaste.