Sunday, August 27, 2017

Hanging Out in the Farmyard

What you see depends on how you view the world. To most people, this is just dirt. To a farmer, it's potential. --Doe Zantamata
I spent the weekend at a B & B on a farm just outside of Victoria this weekend. The hubby had a few things he needed to get done down there, and we decided that it would be much more relaxing to find a place to stay rather than get up at the crack of dawn to fight through the traffic. We got lucky and found this place available. I thought it would be pretty ok, but it turned out to be a nice surprise in many ways.

We were greeted by the welcome dogs, Luna (white) and Keenan (brown). They barked their heads off the first time they met us, but every other time we came in, the most we got out of them was a muffled "woof" followed by lots of head-butted requests for scratches behind their ears:

The rest of the animals largely ignored us, unless I brought over handfuls of grass for them to sample:

The ducks and the chickens were in too much of a hurry to chat much, but they were at least obliging enough for photos:

And the cats... well, they were busy being cats. They did come over and sit on our laps at breakfast time, though, which is as dutiful as a cat gets, I think:

The rest of the weekend was spent going for walks and exploring the Saanich Inlet. The peace and quiet were exactly what my soul yearned for:

What I liked the most, though, was meeting the people who worked there at the farm. Most of them were students from abroad who lived there for free room and board in exchange for work. They were only obliged to work five hours each day, but every time I passed any of them, I found them industriously painting fences, shoveling manure, clearing dishes, cooking dinner... and doing so quietly and without complaint, and largely without supervision. One of them celebrated a birthday while we were there, and even though I was tired, I didn't begrudge the laughter and music as I lay upstairs in our room.

This morning, as we sat eating breakfast, we got talking about the vegetables in the garden. One of them was trying to make zucchini chips, but she thought some of them wouldn't turn out because they were too thick. "That's ok," one of the others said. "We can always make something else with those... we could eat them roasted on the side, or make soup."

And, you know... I like people like that... folks who can just make things out of whatever is about, without too much fuss with recipes or plans. It's nice to be around people who can work without drama and without fuss. It's been a while since I've experienced that.

Not that I think farm life is easy, by the way. I know I've idealized it a bit, especially since I sat around doing mostly nothing while the others worked away.  I'm not so naive as to believe that life away from my office is easy. I just liked the change of gears and the change of atmosphere.

Of course, I thought I could bring a bit of it home with me. One of the girls gave me an enormous zucchini to take home. I ignored the worry in the hubby's eyes when I accepted it (I'm forever taking home veggies that we have to work hard to get through):

When I got it home, I made a stuffing with some onions and tomatoes from my weekly veggie box, as well as some beef and rice and stock. I should have known my plans were going to go awry when I had to lean hard on the knife to cut the zucchini open:

I also pulled out some leftover croissants to make a bread pudding with some of the strawberries and blueberries from our garden:

The stuffed zucchini was a bit of a bust (a bit tough, even after I roasted it on the barbecue for nearly 45 minutes), but the bread pudding was much more impressive:

Anyway, I do have a yarn project on the go, but I can't share it because I'm making it as a rare favour for someone I know who wants to give it as a gift. So, I guess I'll finish by saying that a weekend on the farm gave me some good perspective on things: life need not be complicated. I guess I just need to figure out what that means for me.


Sunday, August 20, 2017

Good and Not-So-Good

Live in the shadow of the moon until you're bright enough to give birth to your own suns. --Curtis Tyrone Jones
Short post today. It's been a time of goods and not-so-goods. Work is still very, very hard. I'm taking stands and setting my limits and pushing back while having good cries when I can. That's pretty ok for now.

Today, I went to a workshop I signed up for at a local yoga studio called Mantra and Mandala. We met at the studio and gathered for a group mantra chant. I've been so tired and weary that I don't get too worried about doing stuff absolutely right. I sat on my mat on my bolster and just joined in and enjoyed the vibration in my chest and the peace around me. That was good.

The next part of the workshop was to walk to the park in silence, noticing as many colours along the way. Before we left, I happened to remark that I had been stung by a wasp a couple of weeks ago for the first time ever. The area got hot and swollen and itchy for a couple of days, and then it settled down after I took an antihistamine. Heh. One of those things.

And then, we all wandered to the park, looking at all the colours around us without speaking, and when we got there, we sat down on blankets on the grass to talk about painting mandalas onto round stones. A mandala, simply put, is a circular pattern that is often used in Buddhist or Hindu practices that assist with meditative practice, both during its creation and afterward. Really, it was a little craft workshop with like-minded people. It was exactly what I wanted to do.

We crouched together and looked at the samples and paints and patterns. And... wouldn't you know it... while I was crouched forward, I felt a poke and some pain, and welp, there was my second wasp sting of my life. That was no-so-good.

Luckily, one of the others lent me this handy thing that help to slow down the swelling. She let me hang onto it to apply it every so often. While I still needed an antihistamine when I got home, the sting site was almost healed by the time I left. That was good.

As was all the painting. I can't tell you how wonderful it was just to sit and smile with the others and contemplate colours all afternoon. That was very, very good:

When we finished, we said our goodbyes, and I walked back to the parking lot where I'd left my car. When I got in, I started the engine and reached for a drink I had with me... some kombucha I wanted to try. Turns out, when kombucha is left to get warm in the sun for a while, it builds up pressure... and I summarily ended up with a huge spray gun of kombucha in my car. It covered me, the steering wheel, the driver side door... pretty much everything in front of me. I sat there in shock for a moment. Not-so-good.

I ended up taking a deep breath and just driving home. I appeared at our front door with a sad, sad face, and the hubby helped me clean up the car while I got into the shower fully clothed to wash the sticky drink off my body. So much for that.

Later this evening, I pulled out my rocks to look at them. It is surprising how they turned out: I tried to plan what I was going to do, but the rocks seemed to dictate for itself what they were going to look like:

This one keeps surprising me with its beauty every time I glance at it:

This one just seemed to want to remain as asymmetrical as possible... and it totally worked. What a nice reminder that not everything need be perfect to be beautiful:

Tonight, I'm getting ready for another week. It's no secret that I am very unhappy these days. It's to the point where I don't really care who knows. I am realizing, though, that even through the wasp stings and kombucha showers of life, I am fortunate still to have my health and my family with me. I am keeping those things close to my heart these days. They are good to have... and I am grateful for all that is good.

Have a good week.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

First World Photo Problems

Finally I saw that worrying had come to nothing.
And gave it up. And took my old body
and went out into the morning,
and sang.
-- from "I Worried," by Mary Oliver 
I was determined to spend a few moments this weekend to appreciate the small things in life. So far, it's been all food stuff, like these fish cakes I made with some smoked mackerel, leftover potatoes, some flour, and some oregano from my garden. The lettuce is from my farm box, and the dressing is homemade as well:

Today, I made some pico de gallo to go with the chicken tacos we had for dinner. These tomatoes are also from the farm box, and I gasped with delight when I sliced them. Those sure are some purty tomatoes:

We've had some pretty smoky skies around here on the Island from all of the terrible forest fires on the mainland. While it's not nearly as bad as it could have been, the smoke, combined with the heat and with my relentless workdays have made for some tiring days. Last night, we finally got a spot of rain, and this morning the skies were blue with big white, fluffy clouds and the temperature was cool and comfortable. It was perfect weather for showing off my finished Over-and-Over Top.

You may recall that this top is named as such because I have literally worked nearly every single section at least twice, mostly due to errors. I thought I was finished a couple of weeks ago, but I decided to rip out one of the side seams because it was gaping and lumpy and it was annoying me every single time I looked at it. There may or may not be a few ends that I have not bothered to weave in on the inside, but I worry not, nor do I care, and nor will anyone with any self-respect care to ask me about it.

Seriously, don't ask.

I have a first-world problem when it comes to taking photos of my finished projects. In the past, I would have used a tripod and whichever digital camera I had available at the time. These days, I prefer the quality of photos I've been getting from my smart phone. The thing is: it's really hard to take photos of yourself in your finished projects with your cell phone, particularly if you want to make use of natural light. I've tried balancing it on a stack of books, on stairs, on windowsills, on shelves... all sorts of things. And what's more, I find it really strange that, no matter what height I set it at, I always seem to end up with two feet of empty space above my head that I have to crop out. And what's more: even with the timer set and enough light, I can never seem to get it focused very well if I'm more than a foot from the phone.

And before you ask: I refuse to buy a selfie-stick. Don't bother: I'm not doing it.

I have decided to go out and get a special doo-hickey that will attach to my tripod to try to fix this problem, but I cheaped out and bought it online, thinking I'd have it before this weekend. Turns out, I was a bit too optimistic with Amazon this time. Therefore, here I am using the good ol' selfie arm:

The problem with this method is that it's really difficult to get an accurate view of what the full garment looks like while worn. Laid out on the floor, it looks great:

Here's one of me using that weird shelf-like space on the stairs to get a shot:

And here's me using my go-go-gadget arm to try to get the full length in view. I am pessimistic about it, as you can see:

In the end, it is a darn good shirt with some lumpy side seams that you can't see unless I point them out to you (which I will not) and with sleeves that are a tad short for me, but I can live with. I may try to get some better photos once the doo-hickey arrives, but we'll see how I feel about it when it comes.

In the meantime, I decided to go and wind some yarn in the stash which has enchanted me ever since I bought it. It's one of those rare yarns that photograph exactly as they are in real life, and this one is so, so beautiful:

I'm gearing up for another week of uphill battles, but I'm glad I have this project to pull out every so often and take a break with. Just looking at it gives me cause to take a deep breath and lose myself for a while, and I'll take those moments whenever I can get them these days.

Happy Sunday!

Sunday, August 6, 2017

The Drama Llama

You mustn't live so lightly,
Spin your stories, tell your tales,
Let them dance across the oceans
And set the wind upon your sails.
For every truth found on your travels
And in the pits of your despair,
Is a shout into forever
Of "I existed, and I cared."
-- Erin Hanson,
I had a week full of drama this week. It seems to have followed me into the weekend, and I've found myself working through issues here and there. I'm glad we have a holiday on Monday. It will be nice to have one more day to try to catch up on some peace.

I sat down on the couch with a sigh on Friday, thinking all about the drama surrounding my days. My eyes wandered over to some of my craft tools that are littered around the coffee table. I cocked my head, an idea taking hold in my brain. I got up and did a bit of digging in my supplies and found some copper wire, some pliers, and some wire cutters. A little while later, I had this:

And then I dug out some pencil roving, a bit of black merino roving, and some alpaca fleece. I had to do some extra digging to find my felting needles, but slowly, surely, my idea took shape:

Friday night, it looked like this:

I was gone for most of the day on Saturday, but when I woke up this morning, I had to deal with a little more drama that got sent my way. Then, I picked up my little friend and gave him a head, a face, and a few tendrils on his face. For a while, he looked a bit emo:

But after I gave him a little hair cut and did a bit more felting, I finished him. Say hello to my Drama Llama:

We must admire his rump. I'm quite proud of how well I was able to shape his figure:

And he's grown out of his poetic emo phase... he's just adorably scruffy in the face now:

I think he'll live on my desk for a while. I think he'll give me a smile, no matter what kind of day I have.

In the meantime, I went down to Victoria with the hubby yesterday. He had a few appointments and so I took the opportunity to do some visiting with a friend. It took care of some dramatic calls and emails while I waited. Luckily, I had some treats to keep me grounded:

And there was a rabbit in the garden to keep me company:

After a good chat and an even better lunch, we ended up at the Yellow Wolf Pow Wow. It was a perfect day: bright, but cool and comfortable. It was a nice day to take in all of the beautiful clothing the dancers were wearing. This is the kind of drama I like:

After that, we had a lovely walk in woods, which is just the antidote my soul needed:

And a wander through here didn't hurt either:

I have finished my Over-and-Over Top, but the weather has been too hot and I've been too grumpy to put it on and model it. I am very happy with it, though. I'm going to wait until I'm in a better frame of mind to share it. It deserves to be worn by someone in a good mood.

Until then, I'm going to go do some well-earned daydreams. I'm going to cuddle up to these and have a nice walk through my imagination with them. Happy Sunday!