Sunday, June 23, 2013

journal excerpt: solstice

Ancient people must have understood rate (speed/time) before understanding bald time; time must have been accessed only indirectly as it lurked on the underside of a ratio. Perhaps they determined the summer solstice by counting how many torches it took to get through a night, assuming, however vaguely, that the duration of one torch burning from end to end represented something regular, a measurement. Clearly, they wanted to measure and mark things; aren't the two solstices the occasions for the earliest festivals--perhaps along with planting and harvest?

The summer solstice is so much more conflicted and melancholy than the winter solstice, which demands only desire and hope. Christmas marked the beginning of a long slow increase of light and time. Now the shortening of days begins. We feel we should devour the summer at the same rate at which time devours it. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

pixie hats

On the Making Things front: A hat for my little sister, and one that I am possibly much too old for. I suppose we'll find out in four months when it is cold enough to wear them.

Monday, June 17, 2013

it is summer

These shoots came up two months ago in place of the slender, weak-kneed peony stems I bought and planted last year. Now they are big-boned shrubs; they have tens of heads. The green is the oregano that was supposed to be an annual and nevertheless returned.

The garden beds look nothing like this any more. I do not need to crouch down to look for plants--by now they wave around my knees. It is already high, unstoppable summer, somehow only exacerbated by two weeks of rain, and I wonder how we got here.

It's been a difficult start. Life demands that I take myself in hand: if I am to survive and if we are to be happy, I must be stronger and saner than ever before. So Tim and I continue to talk. I've been lifting weights, like I said I wanted to. I've been tallying up the number of  panic attacks I've been having in horror and shame. I am healthier now than I've been in a long time, but now there is much more responsibility and much less allowance for fear, panic, anger, paralysis. I am an adult. I want to be an adult. The great, progressive change this summer is that I am not inventing difficulties out of perverse boredom or self-destructive instinct. These challenges are blessedly real: money, the house, the tenants, Simpkin, the health of my body, mind, marriage. And the solution is simply to work, so I will.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Resolutions in April and May (The Dress)

- learn to make my own happiness (because it is not Tim's job, and because circumstances will not always be peachy)
Can I just say that facing this issue head-on is difficult and painful and frustrating and frightening?

- complete one wearable sewn garment (hello brown paisley dress)
Done. Rousing success. Observe:

Please note that this is almost certainly the first you have ever seen of my legs. It's that summer, people.

- master fair isle knitting (in order to make things such as this)
Hazelhurst is almost done. 

- remove makeup every night (this has never, ever been a habit--now that flossing is down, it's time)

- reach goal weight once and for all (140 pounds)

- pay back money owed Tim (so very close)

- pay off student loan (not so close)

- repair book cubes (damaged in the move last spring)
They are patched. Painting has begun. 

- further improve backyard (especially firepit, but also hope for fruit trees, removal of gravel, chopping of hoary huge evergreen)
Tim built two more raised beds. We planted blueberry bushes. The firepit should be usable within the month. 

- write something (anything) every day (this should be at the top of the list)

- learn more about math and computing (calculus, number theory, Python)

- publish in at least one magazine (which means submitting)

- give excellent presents (better than last year)

- apply for at least one "real" job (something outside the service industry, something challenging, something that utilizes my skills)

- properly repair bathroom ceiling and baseboards (and begin to learn about renovating a house)

- play the violin again (Vivaldi's "Winter")

- learn more about baking bread (to begin: read the lovely book Laura got me for Christmas)
I have a new rye starter and should get back to the recipes.

- get a tattoo (at last at last)

- put more of myself into relationships (especially that relationship with one Tim Put)

- use my nice things (and remember that I have many)
Bicycle. Hand pruners. 

- make and repair more, and buy better and less (I need a darning egg)
Candle holder. Chest of drawers. Book cubes. Lamp shade.

Thursday, June 6, 2013


The first thing Simpkin did this morning was trot over to the toilet to drink out of the bowl. I guess he is getting better.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013


Understand this: before Simpkin, I had never owned an animal before, and never cared for one either. 

Simpkin is sick. He refuses to eat or drink. He makes sad little squeals and tucks one paw under his chest, then curls up and goes back to sleep. I hated leaving for work today. Before I left, in desperation, I mixed up a kind of gruel out of canned salmon and water and left it out for him. As soon as I got home, I commenced trying again to get Simpkin to drink. The only thing that works is an eye dropper, squeezed gently into the side of his mouth. I've been giving him water every half an hour, trying to make up for 30-some hours without a drink. Am I only flattering myself, thinking that he seems to have perked up?

A few years ago, I would have laughed at the idea of myself as cat-nurse. Now I only want this tiny living thing to get well.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

resolute: repair

- make and repair more, and buy better and less (I need a darning egg)

When my mum and dad were first married, my dad broke a candle holder of my mum's and felt awful about it. Before Christmas that year, he carefully dissolved the substrate from the gemstones that had studded the holder, then re-set them in white plaster, using a glass jar as a base. He was always going down to the basement laundry room late at night and coming back up to my parents' apartment with stained hands. My mum thought her new husband had a burgeoning drug habit. 

The re-made candle holder sits on the piano for the entire month of December, every Christmas. Ros and I loved it. The Christmas I was 10 or 11, my dad made holders for the two of us. Ros's had mostly red gemstones and a few blue; mine had mostly blue gemstones and a few red. Until I moved out, we only lit them up on Christmas Eve and Christmas night--we were allowed to go to sleep with tealights lit in our bedroom and spots of colour projected on the wall. In my own apartments, my candle holder has always sat on the windowsill. I've probably posted half a dozen pictures of it. Two years ago, a cheap tealight (I think it was from Superstore--Ikea tealights are superior) leaked out of its aluminum casing and cracked the jar. One year ago, at Home Depot buying things for the new house, I bought a carton of plaster of Paris and decided I would do with my own candle holder what my dad had done with my mum's. Over Reading Week this past February, I finally started the repair. I'm pleased to say it's finished now. 

baking to soften the old plaster
chipping out the gemstones

trying to place the gemstones with double-sided tape (I had to use school glue in the end)


first layer of plaster 
more plaster, plus verathane = finished
a bit knobblier than the original