Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Nourishing the Mind

 As we all live through a pandemic, it seems that mental self-care becomes more important. We discover that our daily habits and interactions, now lost to us, did more good for our mental health than we realized. When your mind and heart are damaged by worry and a bit starved, how do you nourish yourself? 

I think you nourish your mind with beauty. That's why God gave us beauty -- to nourish our hearts and minds, to soothe them. Beauty is a balm. In that vein, here are a few Youtube opportunities for you to do that!

Exploring the Cotswolds -- I just discovered this channel and look forward to touring one of England's most beautiful places, discovering how much of its old beauty is still there after hundreds of years.

William Morris wallpaper, "Trellis"

William Morris: Useful Beauty in the Home -- This short video is a delight! I had no idea about Morris's team, and their philosophy of usefulness in hand-crafted items. I believe that too. I enjoy feeling I'm part of a long tradition of hand-crafters.

Standen Farmhouse, East Grinstead, UK

The Repair Shop -- Following that idea, this delightful show (my all-time favorite lately) of English repair people, lovingly restoring their neighbors' family treasures, is comforting and reassures me about the goodness of human nature.

Gardeners Cottage Blakeney -- Do you find beauty in gardens? This Youtube channel from Norfolk, England, is enchanting.

The Cottage Fairy -- I just found this beautiful, peaceful channel of a young girl in northern Washington state, U.S.  So many people are crafting Youtube channels for beauty's sake, sharing both their desire for peace and love for hand-crafted things, with their viewers. In 6 minutes, I can tell this girl's channel is one I will enjoy. We share some common loves.

The Elliot Homestead -- I'd forgotten about this fun channel full of beautiful video. This sweet farm family live and work in Washington state too, and how she has the time to make such beautiful videos, I don't know!

Ambient music from The Chronicles of Narnia -- I need auditory beauty too, since I'm a music person. This is what I listen to while I'm painting. There are many ambient music videos on Youtube!

Normally, we all don't have time to watch so much Youtube, or if we do, we feel guilty about it, as if we're wasting time. But this winter, as the pandemic rages through the population again, we'll find ourselves at home. It is not wasting time to watch beauty, especially to watch others create beauty. A video itself can be quite beautifully crafted! Make yourself a cup-of-something, sit back in your comfy chair, and enjoy your fellow humans as they create. It nourishes the heart.

Sunday, October 25, 2020

In for the Long Haul

 I read Elaine's post today ("Retired Knitter") about how she's felt during the pandemic. What a kindred mind! She says she feels she's "slipping." I'd say I'm putting things off, putting off laundry, and especially house cleaning. How long can one put off dusting and vacuuming when one never has any company in the house at all for eight months? It's too too easy to become a sluggard. As Elaine says, the world won't stop turning (ha! the world will neither know nor care!) if I don't vacuum today. It makes one ask, "How much do I really care about all this fiddly stuff I do every day?" One of the first things that left my brain was writing, which was sad -- a little bit of anxiety makes creative stories vacate my brain.

Daughter Anna and grandbaby Isaac are here for a visit! I snapped this photo in WalMart. Why have I not taken more photos? I must correct that. He's a delight and so fun. Anna is getting some good naps, and I'm inwardly bubbling with delight that my little home gets to be a "granny house" for a while, Nana's house. Sigh. How wonderful to have them here! We went for a long walk on the property looking for plantain, and strolled out to the garden. He loves being outside.

Adam may or may not travel this winter during the pandemic; his health is pretty delicate. So Anna felt strongly that she needed to come see us while she could still fit behind the steering wheel. (She's pregnant now too.) Plans are not so much called off, as uncertain. Will we travel? When? How? For how long? It's hard to know.

I'm thankful I had my back surgery before the surge in Covid-19 cases began. I'm recovering well. I had a large lipoma removed and am sporting a 3" scar. That lipoma must've been putting pressure on other things, because so much of my general back and torso discomfort is gone, and I haven't had acid reflux since the surgery. What a relief to have that thing removed!

Adam made some yummy pizza tonight. He can't eat cured meats now, so my pizza toppings were pineapple, sauteed onions, and smoked pork.

I met the sweetest dog on Saturday, named Frankie. He's a Bernedoodle.

I made cookies for Anna and Isaac, 
and now they are all gone.

A little chicken painting:

This last is a scarf I finished this past week. It's time for these at the farmer's market. But painting and yarn work are put away while Isaac is here, of course! Nana priorities are in full swing! The house is strewn with toys, and all my vacuum attachments are scattered around. It's his favorite toy. It's a good thing somebody around here is willing to vacuum!

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

How I Feel About My Suffering

(This is a religious post, just so you know ~)

Some of you are suffering, I know. I am too. My heart aches for friends who are in such distress right now: loved ones very ill, job loss, crises with kids, marriages unraveling. My present suffering is anxiety, which (according to my therapist) is defined as: 1) uncertainty, and 2) self-doubt. That's a helpful definition.

A verse from Scripture that has puzzled me for years is this one: "But to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing." (I Peter 4:13) I've pondered long over what exactly it means to "share the sufferings of Christ." Recently I decided to make a list of some possible ways our sufferings could be a sharing with Jesus's sufferings -- how are our sufferings like His?

1. Does your suffering bring glory to God?

2. Does your suffering stem from any self-sacrifice of yourself for others?

3. Does your suffering come because you are in any way obeying God's call in your life?

4. Does your suffering come to you because of your love for, or commitment to, someone else?

5. Is your suffering ever done in quiet surrender?

6. Does your suffering ever require you to bear someone else's grief or carry their sorrows?

7. Does your suffering seem insanely unfair to you, like you are being sacrificed?

8. Does your suffering seem to diminish you, humble you, or curtail your potential?

These are descriptors, I think, of Jesus's suffering, and sometimes of ours too. You may not think you ever share in Jesus's sufferings, but probably you do. His suffering came from love, self-sacrifice, humility, patience, and obedience. 

It has helped me to have definitions, to put a finger on the problem and look it in its face. I look at my anxiety and I say to it, "I know you. You are my self-doubt. I'm working on that." Or, "I know you, you are uncertainty in my future. I'm working on that too." My uncertainty and my self-doubt have come about, at times, because of my sacrifices for others, and I bet your sufferings have come for that reason too. 

Be comforted, friend. Peter finishes with, "Let those also who suffer according to the will of God entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right." God doesn't want me to be anxious, but He has given me the situations that have produced that self-doubt and uncertainty, and He wants me to trust myself to Him, in the middle of those feelings. Trust that He knows what He's doing. Trust that with help I can manage it. Trust His promises to be with me as I walk this road.

As you wake up today and deal with your suffering, remember that Jesus suffers with you and won't leave you. There's a purpose. If nothing else, suffering like He did will make us like Him, won't it?

Sunday, October 11, 2020

October, Wait!

 Is October flying by? I used to slowly savor every moment of perfection - the dry and crumbling leaves underfoot, the blue skies laced with crying geese, the little caresses of cool breeze. This year, I've had to work hard to remember this is the beloved month. As I age, I find myself saying to myself, "I'll do better next year. Next year I will taste each moment of autumn in my mouth, making the days pass slow. This year ... it's too hard."

Gotta change that!

I'm deep into yarn work now, weaving and spinning. The farmer's market has been going well, and I must must do more painting of cards! They sell very well. I want woven scarves to sell soon as the weather cools, but they are so time-consuming to make.

Last night our church family enjoyed an outdoor party of sorts -- a chili cook-out. Large pots of chili, pans of warm cornbread, desserts, and s'mores over a fire pit. It was very fun, and wonderfully safe to see each other's smiling faces outside in a light breeze off the creek. We all needed it so much.

There were even dogs.😁
I'll give you a little update on Adam too. He's been taking Cellcept and prednisone, which have kept his symptoms under control. The goal, however, is for the Cellcept to take over the job, and for him to be able to reduce and gradually quit taking the prednisone. (Steroids are so bad for you, esp. at 40 mg/day.) Well, the Cellcept is not doing its job. Next week he'll try one last time to reduce his prednisone, but if it doesn't work he will transfer to a new medicine. It's a bit discouraging because he's spent 3 months taking this drug, but it can't be helped. I'll be honest -- it's a struggle for him many days, dealing with all the side-effects of those 2 medications. 

I continue with doctoring. This week I'll have a large lipoma (benign, harmless, uncomfortable) removed from my back -- outpatient surgery. It will be sore. I have to quarantine all week for it. And apparently I also have something called esophageal spasms. They only happen about (I think) twice a year, rather random, and are quite painful in the entire torso area. I didn't know what in the world they were, but now I do. I take a couple of tylenol and lie down, and after a while the pain goes away. 

I've been buying up all the lovely hardly-used baby clothes at our nearby thrift store (such a nice one) for the new grandbabies coming! The baby boy is coming next month, and the baby girl is coming in February. What exciting times! I think I may be out of town a lot, Covid or no Covid! I am ready to hold some grandbabies.

Lastly, I'll post here a couple of the Youtube videos I've done recently. This first one is about a repair/sewing project I did for a dear friend, bringing her childhood Christmas tree angel back to life:

And this second one is a "hodge-podge" of various things -- chickens, more about those baby clothes, etc. 

If you go over to my channel (click here), there's also a longer video showing all about warping and weaving on my loom, if you want to watch that. If you haven't done so yet, click the "thumb's up" button 👍 and click on the big red "Subscribe" box. It sure helps Youtube to put my videos out there for other people to find. Thank you, friends!

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

To the Dreaded Doctor I Go!

 Well, hello friends! How are you? We are tootling along okay here in our little corner of the planet. But tomorrow ... oh, tomorrow!! Tomorrow will be quite awful. Tomorrow:

Most of you know what that means. And what follows the day after! Adam says a colonoscopy just feels like a very nice nap. I'm hoping!

I wove a scarf using some of my newly handspun yarn! The warp yarn is a store-bought acrylic (for strength under the warp tension), and the weft yarn is homespun.
The little lady below is an treetop Christmas angel. She's very old. A dear friend asked me if I could give her (I'm calling her Angela) a serious make-over, so I started that project today. I'll have a youtube video about that later.
Adam is trying so hard to cook for my health. I'm pre-diabetic. Long-grain brown rice. Lots of fruits, veggies, and lean meats. No more ice cream in the evenings!
For at least one meal each day I eat an assortment of some of these: prunes, crackers/cheese, cherry tomatoes, cucumber slices, celery with PB, natural applesauce, walnuts, raw carrots. No more sweet drinks or juice. I'm drinking my herbal tea each day.

Here's the blue/pink yarn I spun.

Back before my doctor read me the riot act about my eating habits, back when we were still eating naughty ...

bread pudding and rum sauce for dinner ~

and a pumpkin danish from the bakery in town ~

No more of that!

The other day I was cleaning out an old purse, and I found some items I'd forgotten I'd left in there. One was a very precious thing, a small photo of my brother and me, taken on the seawall steps leading into Lake Pontchartrain in New Orleans. I was 5 years old.

My mother gave me that short haircut. We lived there for only one year. I think this photo was taken by a couple who babysat Marshall and me for the weekend while my parents traveled somewhere. The steps are still there, just the same.

One more yarn photo. I think it's the prettiest one so far.

If you haven't seen my recent youtube videos, here are a few. Some are longer and chatty, some are shorter. Feel free to fast forward through any boring parts! Spinning is so exciting right now, it's hard for me to do anything else!
This is about making herbal tea:

This is about my brand new spinning wheel that I was able to buy!!

This is a long chatty video about lots of things, but mostly finishing handspun yarn:

Thanks, dear friends. I have lots of various medical things coming up, and will be in and out of blogland 😁 Subscribe to my youtube channel, if you like, and you might see me over there! 
Much love ~

Monday, September 21, 2020

"Thou Knowest, O Lord"

 Among other things, these last six months have forced many of us to focus on self-care. You know ... self-care? That thing that mothers don't do for decades while they're caring for everyone else? And then they turn 50-something and realize, "Oh, duh. I better do something about myself." Yeah ... that!

You will be glad to know that I finally did something my kids have been telling me to do for years: I got a therapist. 'Tis true, I need somebody to unload on.😁 She's great, about my age, steady and helpful, professional and knowledgeable. I seem to be bubbling up out of the depression that has kept me from being able to do many things I used to love doing. After that I will need to grapple with the real nemesis: anxiety.

I say all this only because I wonder if some  of you also need to do this, and are putting it off, or you tend not to talk about it. But at some point, lack of self-care can produce real problems in life, and you stop functioning. One more stress (in my case, Adam's most recent illness), and it's too much.

One of the first things she told me to do was to start taking care of my own health. I think of myself as a selfish person (basically, aren't we all?), so it's odd to hear that I've been neglecting myself in my caring for others. So ... I scheduled a check up with my primary care, Cindy, a P.A. I wanted referrals to get a mammogram and  a colonoscopy. Cindy's office said I had to come in, to "re-establish patient care," because she hadn't seen me in six years. I went in then because of a horrible bee sting that made my face swell up, remember?

I went to Cindy. I got a flu shot, an EKG, and had 2.5 vials of blood drawn. Got my 2 referrals started. She wants me back after they're done, for a good ol' physical exam. Ugh. The old adage is true: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. I've watched my mother recover from colon cancer surgery. I want prevention.

All that to say: We are aging. We are anxious. My therapist says women my age know they should be looking at the future and making plans for their financial well-being and other kinds as well, but instead we tend to avert our eyes. We don't want to think of the years of illness, lack of funds, dependency, decline. But that's just a lack of self-care.

We all want security, which is a false hope. Just when you think you've secured your safety, Life can jump up and slap you with ... a pandemic, an accident, an unexpected loss. It's good to plan, to be ready, to do your best. It's not good to be anxious.

I was reminded yesterday of the prophet's words when God asked him the impossible: "Can these bones live?" (Ezekiel 37) He replied to God, "Thou knowest, O Lord." That's a safe answer to life's future unknowns. Thou knowest.

When anxiety over my future jumps up and snatches me by the throat, and I ask, "Will everything be alright?" I'm going to start answering, "Thou knowest, O Lord." It's enough that God knows. It may not cure my anxiety, but it is a solid answer, which is a comfort.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

And Now We Are Old People, Going to the Doctors

 I feel like I woke up a couple of months ago and discovered that Adam and I are now people who spend several days each week going to various doctors. How did THAT happen? We have four ... count them, four ... doctor appointments this week. Yikes!

Let me catch you up, since I've been a negligent blogger:

1. Baby chicks are doing well. Growing and now in the orchard with the other birds. And Adam is building a new laying house for them since the other one was literally disintegrating before our eyes. Even the hens were nervous standing on it, and they only weigh a few pounds.

2. I'm spinning! My wheel (as we now know) is a piece of historical rubbish, so I'm borrowing a wheel from a spinning friend ... who are the most lovely friends. And yes, the spinning is going better!

3. We went back to the farmer's market and it was a great day! I'm painting again because I sold cards.

4. Adam is having good and not-so-good days. His immuno-suppressant medication is being increased and his prednisone is being decreased. His body is trying hard to adapt to this.

He's still cooking some yummy food. That's nachos he made a few days ago with some smoky pork roast. He's smoking another one today on the backporch, and that, combined with the cool 70 degree air outside, makes my heart flutter with feelings of fall. Or as the young folk say these days, "I'm feeling all the feels."

Today we're driving to Oriental to meet up with an old college friend I haven't seen in over 35 years. Then ... it's off to the doctors' offices this afternoon. Sigh. 

Here's my latest video of the lovely merino wool roving that came in the mail, and what I did with it!

I'll end with the yarn I just spun this morning. Pom Pom, it makes me think of you and all your pretty yarn for knitting! Have you ever thought of making it yourself?

Much love to you all! ENJOY your fall day, if your day feels like fall.