17 July 2015

Playing with paper

I love writing. I love the feel of a pen (preferably a decent fountain pen in a colour other than plain blue) on actual paper.

Yes, the keyboard is faster … but there’s something lovely about written words.

And recently, I’ve become enamoured of the idea of … well, it’s not quite scrapbooking, not quite art journalling … I’m sure there’s a word for it, but I’ll just call it Writing With Ephemera: keeping bits and bobs from your life and putting them into the journal book you use, not just words, then, but small objects and images from your life and travels.

Of course, preparation for the upcoming Big Trip come fall is where this all begaIMG_1464n. I have spent a lot of time looking at fabulous images on Google of people’s journals, art journals, upcycled books, and scrapbook pages. I made what I think is an improved version of a travel journal today – more pages, more variety in the pages, room to expand, sewn segments, and a custom binding with room to attach dangling charms and such.

Each section of pages is made by folding paper in half and making a booklet. The booklet is then sewn – on the sewing machine, with really long plain stitches – down the centre fold and voila, a stitched booklet. The spine of the cover has strings that run from top to bottom and each booklet is threaded under a string to hold it in place. (In a lot of books this is done with an elastic, but I had a lot of hemp cord and no elastic, so … cord it is.) I left the string loose enough to slide booklets in and out, and the strings are tied at the bottom with sufficient bits leftover to braid into a bookmark.

IMG_1466Here you can see the variety of papers, some random paper clips and a pocket that’s actually stitched onto the backing page. The front and back covers are made of portfolio covers (for some reason I have boxes of these things here) that have built in pockets for holding stuff. There’s even a little organza bag looped to the spine for holding small treasures.IMG_1467







The cover has a bunch of images of Ireland that I cut out of travel booklets and it’s been IMG_1468pseudo-laminated with packing tape. Not elegant, but lightweight and reasonably sturdy. It’s all held shut with a really neat band I got at Chapters a long time ago and never quite found a use for.

One of the little booklets inside (made from a cut down presentation folder) can be taken out for the day of travelling – it’s got a pocket for things collected during the day and some blank postcard sized pieces of cardstock (something else I seem to have in plenty) for writing notes or gathering signatures / comments from people met during the day and so forth. I’ll also add some plain paper for doing rubbings: I think some of the old monuments and so forth would be really great captured with crayon rubbings. That way you can leave the big book somewhere safe and just carry the little portable folder on your adventures.

I expect I’ll do some more decorating on this before we go on our trip, it’s quite fun to work with!

The other project is what people call a fauxdori – a false Midori Traveller’s Notebook. This design originated with a company in Japan, and I can see why they are so popular. They are flexible: the key feature is the elastic loops that hold various booklets or inserts rather than rings and holes like in many traditional planners. You can purchase (or make) inserts for calendars, or to do lists, or anything you can think of – for me, the idea of having multiple “kinds” of journal spaces all in one (much loved) book really appeals to me. I need to write things down – as I’m so absent minded, I IMG_1470need to make lists and check them often, and as a knitter I often need to jot notes as I am designing or modifying something, and as a writer I just need to write sometimes. But I don’t like to do all of that in one place, because some of the information ends up being good for nothing but starting the next fire (to do lists, for instance, or knitting notes that eventually got transcribed into something that makes sense) and some of it is stuff I want to keep (like my actual journal entries). This way, I can still reach for just one book – but have several sub-books inside it.

The cover I am using is from a lovely leather journal that the Small People got me as a gift. I’ve been writing in it, but not as much as I would like because it was reserved for “the good writing”. I wanted to be able to use it more, and to move to a less linear style of journal writing so I disassembled it (it was intended to be refillable) and made some Midori-style inserts. IMG_1472

Each insert is made from a piece of presentation folder (I told you I have lots of them here) surrounding folded sheets of paper. Rather than stitching each booklet then looping the segments under a cord as I did with the travel journal, these are punched through holes along the spine and threaded directly to the book cover. I have four strings and four segments: three filled with paper, one for more of a catch-all. The leather cover already had holes at these locations along the spine, so I opted to just go with that rather than trying to make an elastic type of system … though I might do that in the future. The strings are firmly attached at the top of the spine and then two strands are tied together (around a bead) at the bottom in a knot that can be unpicked fairly easily when I’m ready to replace that section of paper, so it’s still flexible that way.

IMG_1475 The last section of the book has a small folded piece of pseudo-laminated cardstock that holds sticky notes and is sturdy enough to have things paperclipped to it without wobbling. There’s also a business card / photo holder that I repurposed from my old Seven Habits daytimer, and I created a pen loop by stapling a short piece of elastic to the laminated page. This one is not threaded directly with the string: because it is shorter, it loops under the last strand of string and can be removed … but more importantly, things can be slipped under the string, like the little packet of stamps that’s in there now (you can just see the red and white backing paper peeking out).

I’m working on getting this set up to be my Book of All Things: long ago, I used my Seven Habits Daytimer for that, as I carried it everywhere and kept notes for absolutely everything in the various sections. A full blown daytimer is too much for me these days, though: I need the beeping reminders the phone gives me (without an alarm I may forget to go to an appointment, even if I had remembered earlier that day) so keeping a paper calendar isn’t as helpful as it used to be. BesIMG_1471ides, it’'s way too big.

A small and portable book with the bare minimum for categorization and organization is more my speed right now. This book is nice and manageable: each piece of paper is 1/4 of a regular sheet (which also makes creating booklets for it very easy). I’ve added envelopes and blank cards and sticky notes in assorted places, and I’m transcribing information that I’d like to have handy – phone numbers that I don’t know by heart but would need if I didn’t have my phone for some reason, knitting needle size conversions, prayers I like to read over and over, the mailing addresses I need frequently … all those things are being written onto cards that tuck into the various pockets.

The leather tie that it came with was too short once I got all of this packed inside, so I added a Celtic knotwork button and a long cord with a spoon charm on the end to tie everything closed (and remind me to count my spoons).


I love it.

I’ve had such fun making these books … I think I’ll go look at more pictures on Google and see what other ideas I can find!

09 July 2015

Where we’ll be in October

Watch this – it’s long, and TOTALLY worth it.

Click here: >> https://vimeo.com/69986476

The Reluctant Farmer and I are going on a holiday! For real! Far away! With passports and everything!

05 July 2015

Not all spoons are created equal

This blog post is brilliant. I had to share. 

It can help to think about how spoons are getting used up. For example, spoons are disability region-specific.

We have social spoons and language spoons and physical activity spoons and all sorts of other spoons. 


Depending on our disability and how life is going at the moment, each of our spoon drawers is stocked a little differently. In general, however, most people are going to have more spoons in some areas and less in others.This is why someone who doesn’t have the spoons to go to a movie with their family might have the energy to stay home and build an intricate scale model of Narnia out of popsicle sticks.

There's more. Read. Ponder. 

02 July 2015

Build Your Own Scrap Book

Today’s adventure was reworking some old hardcover books into multi purpose journal and scrap books.

The Reluctant Farmer and I have some travel plans for the fall (more on that later), and I wanted a travel journal that could contain things like ticket stubs and postcards and notes about what we saw and did, something more creative and personalized than a photo book created after the fact … I wanted something that would help me to be mindful *during* the trip, not focused just on “getting a good picture” but on having a good time and enjoying the moments as they come, then taking some time in the evenings to digest and document the adventure.

So I pondered the ideal travel journal.

I decided it needed to be expandable along the spine, because when you start pasting in bits of paper and ephemera, it gets thicker than just plain paper. It needs some pockets for little bits and bobs that you don’t want to glue down, but want to keep with everything else. It needs a good sturdy cover, as it’ll be hauled about. It needs to call to me, to feel like my words and additions to the page are essential to it’s purpose.

I looked at a lot of neat images on Google: try searching for “art journal” or “upcycled book journal”, lots of clever ideas are out there. Then I decided to just get out my materials and see what happened.IMG_1382

I have a big box of assorted papers downstairs, lots of different coloured pages, fancy printer paper, card stock, all kinds of things. I found some old children’s books that have been outgrown at this house and were in fairly sad shape. I dug up some white glue, a paintbrush, some adhesive dot things (which are amazingly cool!), some ribbon, some beads, and some brown paper bags.

Then I got to playing.

I removed the pages from the books, then used white glue and assorted bits of paper to decoupage over the covers, which were quite sorry looking.

IMG_1384As those dried, I folded paper: with a bit of experimentation I found that I could create little ‘booklets’ that would fit inside the book covers, and with a hole punch and ribbon, I could thread them together to make a sort of codex. I intentionally used a variety of paper sizes, weights, and styles so that the book encourages “non-linear composition” … you might make a sort of title page on the little narrow piece, or attach something to the larger portion at the back of a section. Every few pages there’s an envelope glued to the page, to hold assorted little things.

The whole assembly was then put together: one book had the spine removed, so I created a sort of spine from reinforced card stock and covered the entire thing with clear packing tape to both reinforce and protect the paper design. The other book had the spine still, though it needed some Gorilla Tape to reinforce it: I poked holes through the spine and threaded the ribbons through them, using beads to secure the knots on the outside of the book.IMG_1385


I’ve started practicing with the brightly coloured one – I began by writing about the yard redesign I’ve been working on so much this summer. What an enjoyable way to write about things! You don’t feel like you have to tell a story in any particular order, you can just write things down as they come to you, in whatever direction you feel like writing!

I think I’m really going to enjoy this. What a fun project!

11 June 2015

Marijuana Milk

Wow. Yeah, this is definitely an easy way to take your medicine! It turned out to be far more powerful than I expected, so all those warnings you see about taking it easy, starting with a low dose … they aren’t kidding.

Let’s start with the recipe:

Decarboxylate your marijuana: put 2 grams of ground but not powdered marijuana* in an oven safe baking bowl or pot or lasagne pan, cover it if you are trying to keep odours down (though the low-THC strains I am working with do not have much of a smell) and bake for 17 minutes at 250 F. Edit: I've gotten better results from 15 min at 320 F... It needs to be toasty brown.

In the meantime, heat a pot of water on the stove, with a 2 or 4 cup Pyrex measuring cup hooked on the side of the pot with the body of the cup hanging into the water (this makes a double boiler that is super easy to work with).

Pour 1 cup of whole milk (or cream, or evaporated milk) with a tablespoon or so of butter into the Pyrex cup and let it start to warm up. Bring the water to a boil, and stir the milk mixture with a whisk so it doesn’t get a skin on top.

When the decarboxylation is done, remove the marijuana from the oven and put it into the milk mixture. Whisk it in.

Allow the milk mixture to heat in the water bath for about 45 minutes, stirring periodically.

Filter through a coffee filter / fine mesh sieve / tea infuser to remove the majority of the leafy material, refrigerate the milk mixture in a CLEARLY LABELLED JAR THAT THE KIDS WON’T ACCIDENTALLY USE FOR THEIR CEREAL.

Right, so you’ve made your milk. Approximately 8 ounces, or one cup of finished product contains 2 grams of marijuana … so, if you drink it all at once, you will not be a happy camper. Don’t do that. :) Each ounce (2 tablespoons) contains a 25 milligram dose.

Start with one tablespoon – less if you are using really potent ingredients or aren’t used to this yet. Then *wait at least two hours* before you decide you need more. It can take a while to kick in.

It seems to me that a small dose of alcohol dramatically speeds up the onset and intensity: if you are needing a quicker boost, a tiny splash (like a tablespoon) of whiskey or vodka added to the milk dose seems to speed things up, though this may not be an accurate assessment (I’ll need to experiment a little more). Edit : yeah, I think it helps. Doesn't hurt anyway and ever so slightly improves the taste. 

Do not try this for the first time unless you can stay safely at home and do nothing if that’s how it plays out. Dosing edibles is trickier than dosing inhaled marijuana, as the effects are slower to come on and last longer – both definite features when dealing with chronic conditions that require steady levels of medication to keep symptoms at bay, but challenges when it comes to identifying when you’re appropriately medicated and when you’ve gotten more than you bargained for and are now relegated to lying very still and waiting for the world to come clear again.

I’m titrating a new dose of medication, so I track what I’ve been taking and how I feel, and I experiment with higher doses or different extraction methods when I know I can stay safely at home in case I don’t feel so hot. The nice thing about marijuana is that although it is *entirely* possible to get more than you wanted, an overdose is not going to cause your breathing to stop (as might happen if you took too much Ativan, for instance.) Too much marijuana *can* make you feel truly unwell though, and the nasty effects might last for 24 hours, which would be awful. With the cautious approach I’ve been taking towards finding the upper limits of my tolerance, the worst of the “more than I expected” effects has been a bit of dizziness edging towards a queasy sensation, and it stopped as soon as I lay still. I felt worse than that when I started on sertraline.

So, what benefit is there to marijuana for someone with PTSD, like me?

The tension that is so constant in my body that I don’t sense it until it’s removed … that throttles back.

I sleep like a normal person: I get tired, I yawn, I feel like it’s time to close my eyes and I do … and then I go to sleep. This is quite amazing, really.

It’s easier to pace myself. Since my usual trouble is that I push and push and push myself, then crash, then get annoyed at needing a rest … this is a big deal. I’ll sit in the chair and knit for a bit after doing something like hanging laundry or watering the grass. I need to do a little and then rest some, then start again – not go hard and crazy, that pushes up my adrenaline and then the cycle starts. So being more mellow about what gets done is really good for me.

The chest pain doesn’t seem to want to go away, though – it’s not like it was way back at the beginning, when once a day at least the pain was so intense it brought tears to my eyes. It’s a nagging ache, an intermittent annoyance that I would love to see eliminated but which really is no more than a stubborn reminder of my need for self-care. The 9:9 I’m using now for daytime may help a bit more, but I’ve just started experimenting with it at full strength (the chocolates were half and half 9:9 and 4:10, the milk was extracted as one batch of each, so I can test the effects individually).

The marijuana is replacing three other meds for me: Prazosin (which reduces trauma dreams and helps keep the adrenalin down in general); temazepam (milder opiate sedative, used to induce sleep), and Sublinox (non-opiate sedative, works amazingly well but costs just over $2 per pill). I still have both the Temazepam and Sublinox here, for nights when sleep just won’t come, but I’ve only used them a few times since starting the marijuana – and before, I needed one or the other every night to get any sleep at all.

I’m still on sertraline, my Mean Girls need that to keep them quiet and I have no ill effects from it at all. And it’s only about $12 per month.

So that’s the med report for today … I’ll keep the blog updated as I find my comfortable dosage plan.

* The Cannimed product arrives in the perfectly prepped format: it’s ground but not powdered or shredded.

04 June 2015

Swedish Loom Rescue: Part 1

Someone posted on Ravelry that there was a loom looking for a home. It was in pieces, had belonged to the lady’s grandmother, and was more of a restoration than the new weaver could conquer.

I couldn’t resist.

So, I came home with a pile of wood and got to work.


The shape of the body and those overhanging arms make me think Swedish loom. The lady said they lived in a Scandanavian community near Camrose, so … that would fit.

I get the impression it’s had several incarnations. The loom frame is put together with pegs (no nails, no screws), even the ratchet is attached with a wooden peg.


The overhead bar that the heddles hang from isn’t quite right though, nor are the metal heddles … this kind of loom would traditionally have string heddles on pulleys, and the beater bar (which is made partly from plywood) doesn’t rock properly …


I need to build a cradle, and add some adjustable support pegs, like this:


(A piece of wood with holes drilled through it then sliced in half on the table saw oughta work.)

Regardless, the adventure has been keeping me out of trouble for the last couple of days. So far I have:

  • Sanded everything with the palm sander
  • Stained (many many coats)
  • Waxed
  • Rubbed dry
  • Cleaned all the metal bits
  • Reassembled treadles and lamms (with better spacers than the chunks of wood that were on it – I used lengths of garden hose between the treadles as it’s nice and quiet, and the round rings you use for connecting PEX tubing were exactly the right width for the lamms)


Next up :

  • Fix the hanging beater (add cradles and pins so it rocks properly)
  • Figure out what’s up with the heddle support (I think it’s too wide, and the pulleys have an extra hole I can’t figure out – I think I’ll make a new heddle support that can be pegged in place / lifted out)
  • New warp beam (I’m thinking a big-ass fence post … )
  • New tensioning system – probably a live weight system like this
  • Possibly a new cloth beam, or just a new apron on the existing beam – I need to see if the crack in the beam is making it uneven or not
  • Add a crank handle to the cloth beam (I’m looking at a ship’s wheel, which would be an easy way to get something like what Glimakra uses on their looms)
  • Make heddle bars and horses
  • Order Texsolv heddles and loopy chain stuff for tying up treadles


This is fun. :)

27 May 2015

Med update: three weeks in

I’ve been using the medical marijuana for about three weeks now, so I figured it was time for an update.

First and foremost: I sleep like a normal person. I take my nightly dose (a pinch of 1:13 vaped in my second-hand-purchased-via-Kijiji-Arizer-Solo,  plus a few mL of Green Dragon tincture) about an hour before I want to go to sleep, and I … get tired. I start yawning. I go to bed and put my story on, and I know I am asleep in about 30 minutes because I put a timer on my story and I rarely hear it turn off. I can wake up in the night and get a glass of milk or something and go back to bed and go back to sleep. And remember it all in the morning. Very cool.

My daytime energy is improved: I have been using 4:10 in the daytime, vaped once in the morning and once in the afternoon, plus edibles occasionally … still not sure where the edibles fit in the grand scheme of things, but I think they help keep blood levels at an even keel, so I should probably plan to make more. I can do stuff, and take a break, and do a bit more, and take another break … and I don’t feel bad about taking breaks yet I have more get up and go than I did before. This could also be partly attributed to the weather, I always do much better in summer. The big test will be to see how this works in the dark of winter!

I don’t feel impaired at all – no dizziness, wooziness, or weird sensations.

The chest pains are still breaking through: I’ve just ordered some 9:9, I may need the higher THC in the daytime to ease those pains. It’s not too uncomfortable, but it is a signal that I’m not quite at the level of relief I need.

The vaporizer is still taking a bit of getting used to, as I’ve never smoked so I’m not quite as adept as some might be at having irritants in my lungs. I do think I’ve found the settings that work well for me: I heat it to about 4 or 5, then inhale gently, with the corners of my mouth not sealed tight to the tube so that I also get room air. This dilutes the vapour a little bit, and lets me still breathe in slowly and deeply … hold, then exhale. There is a little odour if you are right next to me, but it dissipates as soon as I’m done. It leaves no smell in the house or anything, so it’s not like puffing on a joint and having that stale smoke smell hang around on everything afterwards. When I start to cough, I know I’m done – pull the glass mouthpiece out, dump the browned herb into a container and save it for making Sleepy Dragon tincture. Already vaped material has higher concentrations of CBD remaining, and is worth tincturing … so that’ll be the next adventure. I may try a coconut oil extraction and see how that goes.

I haven’t used Prazosin or Sublinox or Temazepam since starting the marijuana with a couple of exceptions: I used Temazepam one night when I was still awake after a couple of hours, and I used Prazosin when I was away this past weekend because vaping wasn’t convenient. I had forgotten, however, that I’ve been off it for over two weeks – my blood pressure tanked pretty intensely, as apparently I’m not as adapted to it anymore! I’d taken it at night and in the morning my BP was still only 105/74, though I perked up again by afternoon. Mental note: just because you used to be accustomed to something, taking a couple of weeks off can change that!

I’m still taking the Sertraline daily, I have no ill effects from it and keeping the Mean Girls at bay in my head is important. I may try to go off of it if I have another solid winter of feeling well, but getting adapted to it required six weeks of feeling rotten so I don’t want to stop taking it just for the summer and find that come fall I need it again. Better to wait and see how the winter goes, I think.
PTSD is no fun. I still have trouble concentrating and remembering things. I do best with mindless activity like watering the lawn or planting things or moving straw a bit at a time rather than doing paperwork or anything that needs a lot of thought. However, the marijuana is helping to ramp down the constant jitteriness that I live with, and is doing so without any noticeable negative effects. I don’t have a constant case of the munchies – in fact, I still have to pay attention to the time and remember to eat. I can still enjoy a glass of wine – but I don’t need three of them to get to sleep at night. In fact, I don’t need a glass of wine at all, which is a very significant benefit. I sleep what feels like a normal kind of sleep, not the utterly unconscious (though restful) black out of the Sublinox, nor the gradually woozier warm fuzziness of the opiates. I still need 9-11 hours of sleep to feel like I can function well, but that is just my new reality, and I’m mostly okay with that.

I suppose, if you think about the classic stoner hippie image of the laid back, hang ten, take it easy sort of dude and overlay that on the constantly vigilant, over achieving, never resting PTSD sufferer … you end up with something that is much closer to a comfortable happy medium.

I’m grateful, that’s for sure.

I see my psychiatrist tomorrow, should be an interesting conversation.