Weighty Matters

From the time I was 5 years old, my mother had me on diets.  I suppose I was a chubby little girl.  Maybe it is embarrassing to have a chubby child, maybe it makes you look like a failure as a parent.  I know I rather felt like a failure as a daughter in that regard.

I loved food.  I loved the way it tasted, loved the way it looked in the cookbooks, loved the delicious smells my grandmother coaxed forth from her kitchen.  I became obsessed with food at an early age, and my mother, realizing that, probably became a bit obsessed with keeping it out of my mouth.

I recall an instance when I was 10 or 11 years old.  My grandmother had brought an apple pie over to our house for us to have with our supper  She often cooked for us as my mother had decided to go back to school in her late 30s and wasn’t around to prepare meals for us. On that evening my mother sent me away from the table so I didn’t have to forlornly watch my sisters enjoying their slices of dessert, for, of course, I was not allowed to join in.  I imagine my feelings were somewhat hurt at the time, but I got over it and life went on.  My sister tells me that years later when she thinks of me going pie-less that night, she still gets a little sad for me.

In my early teens I had a bit of a growth spurt and thanks to my mother’s insistence on Lean Cuisine and salad for every meal and a two mile walk every night, I had fairly streamlined my physique before heading into middle school, and after that I managed to maintain a reasonable weight throughout most of high school.  I somehow was able to snag a boyfriend my freshman year and though I now realize now he wasn’t much of a catch, I think that his mere existence was probably incentive enough to keep me on my toes regarding diet and exercise during those years. Alas, I was dumped right before my senior year and my weight ballooned so rapidly and to such an extent that one particularly nasty girl even asked me if I was pregnant.  I still dream about punching that girl in the face.

After almost 30 years of yo-yo dieting and weighing between 115 and 200 pounds at various points in my life, I have developed a rather complicated relationship with food, and I am afraid I am getting to an age where these sorts of things are, as they say, “nothing to fuck around with”.

This is not going to become a space where I talk about diet and exercise because quite frankly I hate diet and exercise with the sort of loathing that one reserves for Nazis and telemarketers and those reply cards in magazines that fly out when you open them to read an article.  Also, I find diet blogs with their positive attitudes and feel good propaganda and sunny blond bloggers more annoying than I can possibly explain.  I want to see a diet blog where the writer worries about what to eat before going to a Norwegian black metal concert or how can they incorporate healthy snacking into their D&D weekends or what’s the best exercise to get if you don’t want to do any fucking exercise at all because you want to watch an entire season of Hannibal in one go, thank you very much and you are not leaving the couch for any reason. I want to know that someone else is googling things like “funyuns casserole” and “cheeto burritos” as part of their ridiculous coping mechanisms fueled by food deprivation.

Those are the kind of blogs I want to read, but they don’t seem to exist and I don’t want to make one because let’s be honest here – I am really lazy and that is 80% of what got me in this spot to begin with.

Inspired by two wonderful friends who have undertaken weight-loss journeys, as well as riding the coat-tails of my own post-food poisoning weight loss, I did begin making some changes a few weeks ago, and I have since lost 7 pounds. I’ve got quite a bit to go before I reach a weight that I know from experience looks and feels good for my height and body type, etc. The last time I lost a large amount of weight it’s because I was dating a married man and depressed and anxious all of the time, and also kind of addicted to Xenedrine (which I think killed a few people – but hey, it worked).  I’d really rather not resort to such measures this time around.

All of this is rather personal to share with the world at large  – or at least the two people who read this blog – but I write about personal business all of the time, so it’s more than that.  This is more about really opening myself up and making myself vulnerable to talk about these issues which have quite literally plagued me for as long as I can remember. It makes me feel a little raw, and it’s scary.

I resolved a few years ago to do one thing a day that scares me, and so let’s just call this my Scary Thing for today.

 

 

 

escaping from summer

As the sun maintains its tyrannical zenith and the buzzing cicadas drown out the sound of one’s own heart, when the concrete scorches tender, bare feet, when the sky is so dazzlingly bright and hot that the electric blueness of it is burned into your retinas, well, that’s when I start to feel a little depressed.

My knitting lies in tangles and frizzes, untouched. The pages of books wilt underneath my fingertips. Gardens are unattended and parched, and little messes in the home accumulate under an uncaring eye. Under the weight of this mid-to-late summer malaise, ennui, whatever you want to call it – I just can’t be bothered to care.

I think one of the symptoms of depression is “…loss of interest in daily activities”; activities, which, I might add, I am normally rather enthusiastic about.  So I have come to the conclusion that this is a kind seasonally affective disorder, though not the sort that most folks experience.  It is the distinct lack of sun which I crave.

There’s really not much to be done for it save drawing the curtains, cranking down the AC, pouring oneself an icy drink, and contemplating all of the dark, quiet, cool places to which one can escape during these wretched summer months.

Mossy castles…

Blarney Castle in Ireland on flickr

 

Hushed cathedrals…

St. Vitus Cathedral, Prague on flickr

Blue lagoons…

The Blue Lagoon (Bláa lónið) in Iceland on flickr

I suppose mentioning Iceland is a bit of a cheat, since I do have plans to be there at the end of August, ostensibly the hottest, most miserable time of year here in swamplandia.  And if I find any quiet cathedrals or mossy castles there – all the better!

What is your escape plan during these brain-boiling summer months?  What deliciously chilled places do your daydreams take you when the sun is melting your face off?  Let’s just all run away and come back when the leaves begin to turn this autumn.

one door closed to shadows

A new mix for late night summer shadow dreamers. Image: James Abbott McNeill Whistler

“So that our dream might reply to the sky’s questioning stars with one key, one door closed to shadow…”

Track list:
Malachite, Jakob | Butterfly Meets Mountain, Xu | Whenever, Endless Melancholy | Wolf Teeth, The Pines | The Sunken Land, The Ashes Of Piemonte | Pearl Bone Guill, Celestino | Isostatic Lift, Faures | Rising Dark, Slow Dancing Society | Evenings Wait; The Morning’s Break, Twincities | MEDUXAE, The Thing With Five Eyes | We Held Our Breath Until Our Hearts Exploded, Beneath The Watchful Eyes | The Black Sea MMXIV, thisquietarmy

Glorious things

From Falling in Love No. 36, August 1960

Image: Falling in Love No. 36, August 1960 via comicslams.tumblr.com

 

The most glorious thing in the world! Goodness.

I have often found that the wanting of things is actually far superior to the obtaining of the things.  There is this breath-catching feeling of anticipation and hope and wonder when one ponders upon the things one desires…but when said thing actually comes into your possession, it’s sort of…depressing, isn’t it? Like “…yeah…okay…this is a nice thing. Ho hum. Next thing, please!” If only we could reconcile that dreamy, ecstasy of wanting something to the boring reality (I imagine it’s sort of like coming down from a high, but I don’t know, I’ve lived a life of deprivation) of having it.  What a world, eh?

Unlike our outerwear-obsessed young woman above, I cannot profess to get all swoony and ecstatic over the thought of a coat, but I’ll admit that fine fragrances and strange baubles cause my heart to quicken a beat.

Right now I am particularly bewitched by just about everything in Holly Bobisuthi’s wondrous shop of mystical talismans.

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Additionally, I am a bit besotted by Relique D’Amour Eau de Parfum by Oriza L. Legrand, described thusly: “The smell of an old chapel in a Cistercian abbey. Cold stone walls covered with damp moss. Waxed wood of altar and old pews ornate with carvings. Linseed oil in lamps. Incense and myrrh discernible in the air.”  How can I resist? This has me written all over it.

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What lovely bits and baubles and fripperies are causing your heart palpitations lately? Do tell!

Little magics

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I don’t like to to dwell in the past.  That was then, and this is now.  You can never go back. All those other phrases that good writers don’t use because they know better than to employ tired cliches which mean nothing at all – but I’m a mediocre hack at best so I figure I can get away with it.

I am very happy to be where I am now.  That is to say, back in Florida, living near my family and friends and in a healthy relationship with a wonderful person. The time I spent in New Jersey was a strange, sad period in my life and I don’t wish to go back -ever- but there are some things I find myself missing.  I don’t know if this was true or not, but I do really feel as if I were utterly alone there.  And it’s funny, as I child I do remember that being my dearest wish – that people just live me alone.  In peace.  To read, to daydream, it didn’t matter…I just wanted to be left to my own devices in my own company.  And it was during my years in New Jersey that I got that wish and it was more lonely and more terrible than I could have realized.  I have never been good at making friends and the situation I was in made it even harder than it might have been otherwise.  I had nothing, and for a time, no one.  And for the time I had someone, it was the worst someone who could have happened to me.

As one could imagine, then.  I had a lot of time on my own,  And being a homebody by nature, I spent that time in or around my home.  Experimenting in the kitchen, decorating (in my small, weird way) gardening, exploring my little neighborhood. I taught myself how to knit, I made butter from scratch, I photographed lovely things on long ambling neighborhood strolls, I grew vegetables, I became comfortable with myself and what I could do.  I learned what I like away from external influences.  The unhappier I was, the harder I tried to conjure those little magics which make life bearable.

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I suppose it is the passing of the summer solstice yesterday without ceremony or ritual or so much as “how do ye do?” which causes me to realize how little time I spend in these pursuits now.  I have social engagements and obligations, I have a home which is a secondary priority to the person with whom I am living in that home with, I read and listen to music and knit, yes, I do these things, but I feel like I am almost programmed to do these things now.  I have done them so long so, I don’t feel a whole person without them.  But those little things I sought out to elevate my existence to something more than survival…I seem to have forgotten how to do these things.  Or they have lost their importance to me, buried under the responsibilities of a real person, whereas before, I suppose I felt as if I were a bit of a ghost; a being on whom no one relied or noticed.  A sad, invisible, selfish thing.

I’d like to enjoy these things again, the seeking out and practices of little daily magics.  My life is so much richer now, fuller and more exciting it ever was before. I think this is a perfect time.

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How do you keep the little magics alive in your daily goings-on?  How do you elevate your day-to-day existence to something beautiful, special, sacred, worth remembering and dreaming about?  I’d love to know your secrets, if you are up to sharing them with me.

honeysuckle feet

Music for hazy midsummer afternoon heartbeats. Image by Natalie Kucken.

“Love, we’re going home now,
Where the vines clamber over the trellis:
Even before you, the summer will arrive,
On its honeysuckle feet, in your bedroom.”
-Pablo Neruda

Track list:
My Brightest Diamond, Pressure | Little Claws, Savage Sister | Waltz, Aus | Goddamn The Night, Melt | West Coast (Radio Mix), Lana Del Rey | Thousand Eyes, Lia Ices | Moons of Jupiter, Tamed Animals | Eurydice (From Hell), Deaddreams | Beast (stay hungry), Lucy Kruger & The Lost Boys | Everything’s Coming Up Roses, Dear Plastic | Secret Place, The Zephyr Bones | Variations on an Anatolian Folk Song, Michael Muchnij | Moonbathing, Venus + Mars

 

Art is art

Spurred by a conversation with a friend, I have been sorting through some art I have collected over the past 8 years or so.  Sadly, this art is all unframed and stacked unceremoniously in the corner of a back room where the elegant photos are fading in the afternoon sunlight and the corners of intricate illustrations are curling relentlessly inward.

I am a horrible collector.

I am also fairly awful when it comes to matters of decorating and interior design and all of that nonsense.  I know what I like, sure, but I have no clue what goes where or how this complements that or where any of it should go.  Hell, I can’t even properly frame the art, let alone get it up on the wall.

Here is a small smattering of some things languishing about, waiting for me to get on with it and frame them up. Apologies to: Annie Stephens, Caryn Drexl, Kelly Louise Judd, Jasmine Beckett-Griffith and the lovely illustrator over at beautymarkings, I forget what her name is. These wonderful pieces deserve better treatment than I have provided thus far.


In addition to the above, I have some rather sizeable pieces that I really have no idea how to go about dealing with.  Two from mizenscen‘s ‘Bride’ collection (and I’d love to round it out with a third….

 

 
As well as this colossal print from Sofia Arjam, I mean wow.  This thing is huge.

I am not even certain that I have the wall space for all of these things but as I am covetous and miserly, I just keep collecting more (I’ve got some on the way) and I couldn’t bear to give any of it away!

I’d love to see some framing solutions (the more frugal, the better!) or groupings/displays of art in real people’s homes to point me in the right direction.  Any suggestions, thoughts, or ideas?

Full of stars

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I recall seeing this pattern (“Celestarium“) published in an online knitting magazine a year or two ago, and though I thought it was a neat idea to capture the constellations in a knit to sweep across one’s shoulders, I honestly wasn’t moved enough by the pattern itself to want to knit it.

However,  when a certain knitter made some excellent modifications to the pattern (lose the yarn-overs, swap out the edging for something a little fancier) I certainly took notice.  This was a shawl worth knitting, I thought.

I won’t say this was a light-hearted, mindless knit (though it is a great deal of monotonous stockinette); it certainly gave me an issue here or there.  First with the really fiddly cast-on: a circular cast on is tricky enough, but when you add beads in to the mix it becomes twice as challenging. My circular cast on is pretty flawed, as you can see, but I can’t be bothered with absolute perfection. I like a little bit of wabi-sabi in my knits.

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Up until now I had left the beads off all of my knitted projects – I was much too intimidated to give it a try.  And after finishing Celestarium, I realize it is really quite simple!  I think there are a few ways to do this, but I place each bead on the yarn as I knit along, using a tiny crochet hook. There are a few videos on youtube that do a pretty good job of showing the way.

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I had been knitting steadily on this, a bit every day (whilst binge-watching Hannibal…oh what a lovely, baroque, grotesque show!) and in time I finally reached the bit of the pattern where the edging is begun.  It slowly dawned on me that I am 2/3 through my last skein of yarn…and there may not be enough to complete the project.  At this point I am prey to the most dangerous kind of wishful thinking, “oh yes, yes, I am going to make it, there is enough yarn& etc.”…and as a friend perfectly summed up…watching the yarn run down as the project grows is like playing the *slowest* game of chicken. And you will always lose.

Of course, I am a terribly loosey-goosey knitter and never knit to gauge (gauge swatches? pffft!!) and it was inevitable that I did indeed run out of yarn. If you are the same sort of …hm…freespirited(!) knitter, and you are knitting with modifications, I might suggest ponying up for an extra skein of whatever yarn you are using. Luckily, it was easy enough to find more of what I needed and though I know it was a different dye lot, I can’t tell the difference at all.

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And so, with very little fanfare I finished Celestarium after watching a movie about moon Nazis last evening, around midnight.  This morning I woke with the sun, gave her a soak and pinned her out, and that is that.

To what far reaches will this starry space babe travel?   I wonder….

Details:
Pattern: Celestarium, by Audrey Nicklin
Yarn: 3 (and very little of a 4th) skeins of Madelinetosh merino light in “dirty panther”
Needles: I switched back & forth so many times, I cannot remember. Sizes 2-4
Started: March 28, 2014
Finished: June 7, 2014.

 

Unquiet Things for the home

It has been ages since I put together a little Etsy treasury!  This one is inspired by the idea of housewarming gifts for your creepy weirdo friends. Like me.  I could be one of those friends!  So basically what I am saying is these are things I would like to have in my own home.

Handpainted Victorian teacup by BurkeHareCo // Skull Planter by brooklynglobal // Anatomical Heart Vase by Dellemorteco // Stained glass moon phase banner by ABJGlassworks // Still life with flowers & skull by lucysnowephotography // Planetary magic bookends by EarthSeaWarrior // Cthulhu coffee mug set by DonnaDiddit // Skull pillow cover set by chateauthreeforks // Alexander Henry ghastlie web by sweetbobbinsfabric // Vampire wedding by TheVictorianTeaLady // Opium soy candle by WitchCityWicks // Illustrated doily by beautymarkings // These arms coaster set by Polkadotdog // Silent Cinema by lattona // Sorceress candle holder by wmerchantile // Unicorn skull by HarlanMcKennaDesigns

Tea & Cake & Death

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Irish Wake Cake & Funeral Biscuits at Death Cafe Orlando. Photo: S.E. Walter

Three months ago I made the decision to host Orlando’s first Death Cafe.  This was a sudden decision, though it felt to me as if things had been leading up to it for a while.  A West Coast friend had recently blogged about her experiences attending her first Death Cafe, and I thought “huh!  I would like to do that as well”. I realized that over the past year or so I’d accumulated more than just a few friends who worked within or were involved in studies or researches surrounding some aspect of the Death industry.  And, well, my mother had just passed away two months prior, so I was still (and still am) processing that.

A search for a local Death Cafe proved fruitless; the closest being in Ocala, which I believe is an hour and a half drive from where I live. Why not just host my own, I thought.  According to the Death Cafe website, Death Cafes are considered a social franchise and anyone can do it. Why not me, indeed!

With some much needed encouragement from friends who pointed me in the direction of some Death Cafe veterans for advice and mentoring, I made my decision.  Me, someone who can barely open her mouth to speak to a stranger.  I was going to gather unfamiliar humans together and facilitate an afternoon’s discussion on Death.*

I was equally parts excited beyond belief and sick to death with dread.

I registered with the Death Cafe site and made an event page.  I created a facebook page for related content and updates.  I created a twitter account and to be thorough, I enlisted the help of a dear friend to create a separate blog for it (which, Death Cafe novices – if you are reading this, do not do those last two things.  I was contacted by Death Cafe and asked to take down the blog and twitter account.  Apparently this is a no-no that is somewhere listed in their rules, using the words ‘deathcafe’ in your twitter handle and/or blog.  I had overlooked that and rectified it as soon as possible). I posted about it on my own twitter account, my tumblr account, and my instagram.  And before you dismiss these as frivolous venues, you should know that one attendee did find it through tumblr, and another found it through my instagram account!

The months flew by, and Orlando Florida’s first Death Cafe was held on Saturday May 17th. On a rare, beautiful spring-like day, eleven people sought each other out to explore various thoughts surrounding their own mortality and discuss that aeons old Lurker, Death. For some Death was a familiar notion, and were well acquainted with it. They shared their stories, their wisdom, their insights. For others, Death was a stranger, a more abstract idea, and around this they expressed their expectations and their fears. Conversation was lively, punctuated by bursts of laughter and quieter chuckles of mirth – as well as, small silences and pauses for reflection. Topics ran the gamut, ranging from one’s first awareness of one’s own mortality, to the wish to be present (or not) when loved one has passed, from writing one’s own eulogy, to the decline of obituaries, and what to do with a parent’s remains when they have made no last wishes? In addition to the pieces of themselves that everyone shared, most all attendees brought delicious treats to the events, which were well received. As expected, cosying up so closely with Death for an afternoon leaves the soul a mite peckish.

*Many, MANY thanks to my generous sister and brother in law for opening their home up for this event. I really could not have done this without you guys, and I appreciate it more than you know. Also: sorry for leaving all that flour on the floor.

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