22 December 2015

Epic Crash... But yay Solstice!

Yesterday I crashed... In a truly epic fashion. I won't even describe it, but... Ugh. Awful. 

Let's not do that again. 

But today?

Today is Solstice. 

The Light returns. 

Spring will come. 

And in the meantime I shall drink tea, hug Ben, thank my family, and plan my garden. 

Nothing brings hope like planning a garden. 

Even the simple act of scooping the seeds out of a winter squash and saving them to plant along the fence line is a tiny act of hopeful rebellion against the dark.

I'm saving my apple seeds, too. 

Ha. 

Take that, Darkness!

20 December 2015

Involuntary Silence

Sometimes, I can't talk. 

There are words in my head, but I can't get them out. And there aren't a lot of them in my head, either. 

It's a PTSD thing, apparently. Stress bypasses the language centres of the brain. I'm not being stubborn or wilful, though it looks like that. I just... can't. 

I looked back, and it has happened before at the same time of year. Must be an anniversary reaction of some kind, though I don't know what triggers it. At least with the antidepressants I'm not also listening to the Mean Girls, I'm just... Silent. Wishing I wasn't. Hurting, without knowing why. 

I sedated myself heavily and slept for most of a day and night. And then I could whisper. And slowly, I could talk. Quietly... Then at normal volume. I still don't have a lot of words, but the silence has lifted. 

If you encounter someone who is under a lot of strain and cannot talk, just bring them tea and make sure they are safe and wait patiently for it to pass. The worst episode for me lasted three full days. Sometimes writing or texting simple things is easier than trying to speak. Whispering is easier than talking. Being shouted at or told to stop being dumb makes it worse. 

It's not a common thing, as I understand it, but it certainly isn't unheard of. 

So, to those who have patiently waited out my quiet, asked yes or no questions so I could just nod or shake my head, who refrained from showing their frustration at my inability to speak... Thank you. 

And for those who may run into this in the future ... Now you know a little bit of what it's like inside the quiet. It's uncomfortable, but easier than trying to speak. It'll pass faster if you don't fuss. 

Welcome to the weirdness that is PTSD. 




12 December 2015

Sick days

When we were small, if we were too sick to go anywhere we often went into Mom and Dad's big bed for the day. There was a little TV on the dresser, although there wasn't a lot on besides Sesame Street (Big Bird! Mister Looper! The Count!) and The Flintstones at lunch time. Still, there was something special about being in a different space - 1970s lilac floral curtains and matching purple Kleenex and all. 

It's the time of year when my symptoms get cranked up to eleven and I wish it were as simple to fix as climbing into the big bed, watching Sesame Street and sleeping till I recover. 

I do cope much, much better these days. We are still tweaking meds, and I'm sure there will be better days... But some days are gonna be long and hard and there's just no way around that. My condition is chronic, and science just hasn't reached the point where we can reset the body and brain after years of strain. 

So I focus on the good things: a neighbour installing fences for me as thanks for letting his cattle move across my land, my Muppet Puppy Ben, the beautiful Christmas tree, my beloved family. I try to accept that I'm doing my best, that rest and self care are necessary requirements of life not luxuries, and celebrate the fact that I'm still here, still happy (I truly am, despite the difficult days), still knitting and spinning and creating and caring. 

But man, do I ever wish the pain would stop. The psychic pain has gone, mostly, but the chest pain and fatigue are frustrating daily occurrences right now. 

Summer will come, and the burden will ease, it always does. 

Maybe I'll spend some time planning the garden and landscaping this afternoon. 

Anyone got suggestions for climbing plants that thrive in zone 3? :)

05 December 2015

Mittens

Boot Camp Uniform

Ben got a haircut on day one of Boot Camp, today he got a uniform.


Harness, collar and leash ... Safe *and* stylish!

04 December 2015

Lists

I'm starting to journal like this:

The list of verbs varies some from day to day, I just trace the squiggle from one of the templates, then fill in whatever verbs come to mind. 

Then I change ink and fill in the spaces. 

It works quite well. 

02 December 2015

Boot Camp for Ben

Ben had come so very far since he first came to live here. 

Then, he hid under my chair for a week, refused most food and took six months to regain his weight, couldn't be outside unless tied, and shook like a leaf meeting anyone new. Oh, and he begged at the table and barked incessantly when crated while we ate... I remember having to go lift and drop his crate to let him know he really had to quiet down. 

Now, he jumps on the couch and stays there while we eat with nary a peep. He will sit and lie down, mostly, understands Up and Off (for jumping on or off a person's lap or a chair), and is way more brave around people. 

He still loses his marbles when someone new shows up, though. And he refuses to come when called of he has another idea. 

So. Boot camp. 

He's lost "running around outside" privileges until his recall is solid. He's been asked to do a lot of little things. Meals now come twice a day. We've introduced new commands. 

He's done great. 

Yes right now there are no challenges or distractions, but that's a good place to start. Once it's solid in peace and quiet, we can extend the learning. 

By the end of the month I'd like Ben to be solid on all of these:

- sit
- down 
- up (including not jumping on a person until invited)
- off
- drop it
- in your bed

And we will be adding:
- follow (stay near me as I go from place to place, but walk wherever ya like, not strict like heel)
- wait (stay behind a designated edge and don't cross until allowed)

We will also play with fetch and tug, and maybe start retrieving items by name. 

I think just changing my attitude towards Ben and taking obedience seriously has had an effect.  

I think this will be good for both of us. 


01 December 2015

Process and infrastructure


When something isn't quite right, you need to change a process somewhere, and tweak the infrastructure to support the process you want to see. 

I need to write more. I need a bit more shape to my days. 

So I got a new journal book out, sorted the supplies, and drafted a process. 

It feels like the right direction. 

22 November 2015

Be kind. Please.

: climbs onto soap box :

Canada has always had immigrants. (Look at my white face and Celtic name... I'm not First Nations! My grandmother was born in Scotland and my other ancestors were from the British Isles as well.)

Screening of immigrants is intense and thorough and slow. 

Being a refugee stinks. 

Being homeless stinks. 

Living on a reserve with crummy services and inadequate housing stinks. 

Being mentally ill really stinks, especially if you don't have family and friends to look after you. 

Bad guys exist. Some of them exist here... Some of them are running full scale wars in other parts of the world. 

Do what you can to make the world a better place: if you are called to serve the homeless, work for better treatment of our First Nations people, support the unwell, teach the young or the old or the underserviced, you do that.

It's not "this or that". There is much to be done. So do something real and practical and solid. 

Stop posting illogical / racist / fear based / false dichotomy memes and go make a difference wherever you can. 

Your anger and fear make me feel awful, and I'm already not well. You aren't helping. Really. 

Be the change you want to see. 

Remember that someday, it might be you who needs help. I certainly didn't expect to be unable to support myself at this point in my life... But things happen. 

Do you think that the people carrying their children across entire countries expected to be where they are?

Do you think this little boy's family expected to see this?



Be kind. 

Please.

14 November 2015

Decisions

I ran errands this morning. Well, into the afternoon. 

I picked up the Organic Box, met someone who has taken away my old rotary lawnmower, visited some friends at the craft market, checked out a little shop, picked up parcels. 

I was thinking about starting work on the planter barrel I want to use next year...

But I suspect it would be wiser to sit down and knit quietly for a bit. 

With tea. 

And a cookie. 


I hate it when...

... I wake up screaming. 

At least mine was just a bad dream. 


Lots of families today are living the nightmare of real loss and fear. 

May there be peace. 

09 November 2015

Peanut Butter Management Strategy

We prefer natural peanut butter: no added sugars or weird chemicals and it tastes awesome.

However, it separates and you get a layer of oil over a layer of manageable nut butter over a layer of peanut butter rock. No big deal, you stir it up then serve. 

But. 

In a big jar, it's hard to stir it thoroughly without getting your knuckles covered on peanut oil. 

So, when the latest jar was opened, I took a big spoon and mixed it all up then portioned it into jam jars. Those are short enough that you can stir thoroughly with a table knife and not get the handle covered in peanut butter, so they are manageable. 

Plus, one can sit on the kitchen table and look reasonably much like it belongs there, which cannot be said of the big jars we normally buy. :) 

28 October 2015

Medical marijuana cookies

I've been using a milk extract for a good while, but man, does it taste nasty. 

Now that I'm pretty settled with dosage, I decided to try cookies. More portable, and, with enough cocoa and cinnamon, not vile. :)

Here's the process:

Measure your marijuana (weigh carefully) and write down how many milligrams you have. 

Sprinkle the ground greens into a cast iron pan (or use a baking sheet) and slide into a preheated oven at 350 F for 10 minutes... Possibly less, possibly more, depending on the humidity and so on. What you want is to heat it until it turns slightly browned, not toasted or burned, but not so green. 

Meanwhile, fill your smallest slow cooker with water and get it heating up. Put 1/2 cup of butter (must be butter, not margarine or whatever else) in a glass measuring cup and hook the handle over the edge of the slow cooker. This makes an awesome double boiler! 

When the marijuana has been baked (it's officially called decarboxylation), add it to the melting butter. Leave it on the slow cooker double boiler overnight.

Mix in a spoonful of cocoa, a generous shot of cinnamon, and ginger, and nutmeg if you like. The spices help drown the taste of the weed, which is... Well, rather green. You can do this the night before to make it smell a little nicer as it heats, or do it when you get to baking. 

Mix in 1/3 cup sugar and 1 cup of flour. Adjust the flour quantity a bit as needed so that you have a dough that handles easily: you need to roll it into balls, so you want it sticky enough to hold together and dry enough not to  coat your hands. 

Now the important part: weigh the batch of dough. (I put my scale inside a plastic bag then just lay the ball of dough on the scale.) Math time! Make sure you get this right...

Milligrams of marijuana  / grams of dough 
-> that gives you the number of milligrams of MJ per gram of dough. Write this down. 

Make a ball of dough about the size of a single cookie and weigh it. If you multiply the mass of the cookie by the dose per gram, you can see the dose per cookie. Adjust until you get the dose you want. 

It's easier than it sounds :

3 grams (300 mg) of marijuana went into 
450 grams of cookie dough 

300/450= 0.6 mg/g

A 10 gram cookie will have 6 mg of marijuana in it - around half the dose I take, so I'd want an 18 g cookie at 10.8 mg. 

Weigh each ball of dough to make sure it is the right size then place on a silicone mat on a baking sheet and flatten with your thumb, or a fork or a glass. Bake at 325F for about 15 minutes.



Eat one and wait an hour to see how you feel... Wait another hour before deciding you need more. An overdose won't kill you but it's quite unpleasant (dizziness, nausea, a lot like having had way too much alcohol). The peak of the woozy effect should pass within about an hour from when it hits... If you get the dosage just right, you just feel better and your head doesn't get woozy at all. :)

Label clearly!!!!! 

Let me know if you try this! :)

24 October 2015

The Studio



Because Ireland gave us a desire for more simplicity, less clutter, more purposeful mindfulness in what we do. 

More on how that came about later... For the moment, it's nice to know that the books are sorted, the living spaces clearer, and the chiming clock wound once again to help me hear each moment and be in it more fully. 


28 September 2015

Today’s Accomplishments

- Got up at 5:30 AM to take The Reluctant Farmer to the airport so he could go to work. Drove home without falling asleep.

- Went back to bed and had a great rest.

- Figured out how to calculate payroll deductions, and remit to CRA. Sorted paperwork for the new business. (The Reluctant Farmer’s job required him to set up his own company, and I’m the paper and pixel wrangler for the adventure.)

- Checked the spam filter software and tweaked a few things. (I hate spam. Do people really think these emails work? … even scarier thought … they must work at least some of the time … yikes.)

- Had coffee and a biscotti.

 

Not sure what’s up next, I have a bit more paperwork to sort and tidy then I suspect it’ll be time to sit and do a bit of knitting.

I can hear Sasha’s bell as she munches grass in the pasture. It’s an absolutely gorgeous fall day here at Apple Jack Creek and I’m enjoying having the windows open!

25 September 2015

Note to self

Note to self: reading an entire book on PTSD is enlightening and fascinating.... 
And bound to crank the symptoms up to eleven. 

Next time just take the heavy sedatives at midnight, not four am.

The book, however, is fantastic. 


Highly recommended. 


In measured doses. 

10 September 2015

Living well

If you are thinking about how you can “live well”, how you can cherish the life you have been given … I recommend that you watch this.

Don’t be distressed by the title – it’s actually about living.

03 September 2015

Winding down.

I’ve had to make some difficult choices over the last little while.

The truth of the matter is that my health is not improving – I’m stable, now, which is a beautiful thing, don’t get me wrong. I sleep like a normal person, mostly … except that I need to sleep for 10-12 hours out of every 24, so that kind of takes a bite out of the schedule. I can do most of what needs to be done … if I scale down the ‘must do’ jobs. This is why the sheep had to go, keeping up with them and their fencing needs was just too much. Sasha and Miss May are much less work – they stay behind a single strand of electric wire (even when it’s not plugged in … shhh, don’t tell them it’s not on) and need very little from me besides a filled water trough, some alfalfa and some hay in the winter. The chickens are … well, they are just chickens. Chickens are great. There is a gap in their fence so they are ‘free ranging’ again – they seem to put themselves to bed every night, and we’ve not lost any to predators (knock wood) so we’ve been letting them enjoy the grasshoppers.

The household maintenance … well, I’ve never been a spectacular housekeeper but I’ve really dropped that particular ball. I’m working on it, but I’m *always* working on it, and I seem to keep getting behind. We are considering a housekeeper. Mathilda the Braava floor mopper is a big help, and the ride on mower is a big help, and the dishwasher is absolutely essential but … well, there’s still more to be done and only so much energy to go around.

I had to quit my job last month. The company was incredibly understanding of my health issues and willing to be flexible, but even with all those benefits, it still just took too much out of me. Always wondering when the next thing might go wrong and require me to rush into town and deal with it, making sure every class had what they needed, keeping up with the paperwork and the to do lists … it was just more than my poor taxed brain and body could do. They needed more than I could provide, and so I handed off to another employee and that was that. I miss it, but it was absolutely the right choice. The same way I feel about the sheep, really.

I’ve been doing a lot of painting lately – the whole art journaling thing has captured my attention and seems to be very good for me. I take my pictures in to therapy with me, and we talk about what they might be showing … it’s an interesting angle on things, but mostly, it’s just … enjoyable.11986397_10153256299013992_6166190170654858064_n[1]

Very much an ‘in the moment’ kind of thing. I painted for a few hours today, though everything felt darker than I wanted it to be no matter what I tried, so I washed up and will see how it all looks another day.

After painting today I lay on my bed to read for a bit … and woke up about an hour later. I’ve worked on some paperwork tonight, from the comfort of the comfy chair, and I’m thinking it’s about time to head off to bed. Again.

But that’s okay. This is what my life looks like right now, and the less I struggle against that reality, the more energy I have to enjoy the moments I’m given.

09 August 2015

Made this today.



Art journal station


- folding patio side table
- stool
- backing board from a picture frame (messy surface)
- buckets and bins of supplies, under table and on window ledge 
- sink nearby for washing up

08 August 2015

Art Journal: The meandering journey towards an actual art journal book

I’ve been finding my way towards a full fledged art journal for a little while, it seems.

It should be pointed out that I do not consider myself to be artistic in any way, shape, or form … I can’t draw recognizable stick people, never mind paint lovely pictures. Yeah, I do some neat things with fibre arts but that’s different.

01fcce014463f9feb801611a64da707edb1509894d Okay, maybe not so different.

I like to play with colour, and ink, and words … and with the upcoming trip to Ireland, I wanted a really awesome travel journal. That’s going to involve more than words … and it needs to be more than just pictures glued into an album. I want to really experience this adventure, and to document it in ways that will both solidify the memories for me and also give me something beautiful to hold and look at and share with friends once I am back home. Impressionist journaling, I suppose. The basic idea of a travel journal got me inspired to move towards more non-linear journaling in my every day life as well.  

Using The Book of All Things to write down lists and thoughts and ideas and doodles and such is working really well for all the small bits and bobs of every day life, but then sometimes, I need more space and bigger messes.

The web is full of awesome inspiration for projects like this, and there are lots of craft supplies in my basement so ….

I found this lovely site by Ashley, who shares a lot of really inspiring stuff. I need to quote this from her “about me” page, as this really expresses why this form of journaling is calling to me right now:

The one big turning point for me in my life is when I learned to embrace “the dark side”…..and I did that through journaling. It became a new addiction. I would be on a corporate jet with CEOs of billion dollar companies and I had no problem pulling out my journal and crayons to write down a quote or something I wanted to remember. (yes CRAYONS) I glued bits and pieces of my life into notebooks trying to sort things out and figure out who I was. I turned sadness, anxiety, insecurity, addiction and anger into a creative process. I collected questions, random facts, quotes, people, words, receipts, websites, photos and drawings. I didn’t write in order. I skipped pages. If I didn’t feel like writing I would just draw a map of where I was or write down what I had for lunch.

I slowly became less anxious, I stopped worrying about what other people thought about me. I spoke up and welcomed the consequences. I became more compassionate and I sought out people that were real and interesting. I cut ties with people who were toxic. I became obsessed with memoirs and movies and when I connected with something in them, I wrote it down.

- See more at: http://www.lilblueboo.com/about#sthash.rpUNHSlw.dpuf

Yup, that’s the kind of place I am in. And putting things into books, into pictures, with glue and crayons and paint and markers … it’s working, somehow. I don’t know why. I don’t really get it. It feels very ‘outside my comfort zone’ when I think about it, yet when I am working with the Creative Mess, I just … I just make things. It happens. I doodle and scribble and paint and splash and glue and sit back and go “Yeah. *That* makes me happy!”

So I figure its a good thing. So does my counsellor, actually.

Therefore … I have piles of paper and paints and markers and crayons and am creating books and images and words.

Want some practical how-to, in case you are into this as well? Here ya go:

Find a book you don’t mind damaging. I had picked up an old (very outdated) Child Development textbook somewhere along the way … it’s got a great hardcover binding, and is about the size of a hymnal – pages big enough to draw and create on, but not so huge as to be unweildy. It’s terribly out of date so I don’t feel badly about repurposing it into something else, too … I love books and damaging them always feels a bit sinful, somehow, unless I have a good reason for it!

Then:

  1. Rip out about 1/3 of the pages from the existing book (because once you thicken the pages with paint and ephemera, it will be too fat for the existing binding). (I followed this general outline from lilblueboo for how to create the book, .)01b144a3e87053f6de9de498a02bb04c64714f2d05
  2. Prepare the pages: they need to be a little sturdier and the text needs to be washed out to some extent. I didn’t have any gesso on hand (nor any drywall compound, for some odd reason, or I’d have made my own) … what I did have was some off-white latex paint, white craft glue, and cornstarch. Mixed that together with some water and painted it on the pages.  I used a blow dryer to encourage it to dry a little faster so I could do more pages, then I set the book up and let it dry overnight with the pages sort of fanned out between the covers. I didn’t prep the entire book – I’ll do more as the mood strikes, and I may use other preparation materials as things evolve. 014ba459c4c32bcbb2a3e674c230afef3e984aa1eb
  3. Tint the pages: I used watercolours to put a wash on several of the primed pages. Watercolour does some interesting things painted over latex, especially with a blow dryer to kind of spread the paint around, or a bit of salt to add texture. This step is optional, but having pages with different colours and backgrounds all ready to go (and already dried!) is awesome when the mood to Add Things To The Book hits you.

That’s it for the ‘container’ … now to start putting things in the book.

The removed pages are excellent raw material for further crafting: I used an assortment of paints and inks and so forth to colour the pages I’d pulled out, then cut out shapes or drew on the paper with crayons and markers. The nice thing about working with unbound bits and pieces is that you can really feel free to play: if you like the finished product, you can put it into the book … if it turns out to be less than what you imagined, well, you can use it for something else. Even kindling.

I got some cool stencils at the craft store and practiced with those on one of the pale brown page spreads:

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Then I took one of the removed pages and painted over the ink and paint splotches it already had with some pearlescent watercolour, then used crayons and markers to write a phrase (my friend was here and we were discussing how similar the book was to a hymnal … she asked if I had an actual hymn book around, which of course I do, so I grabbed it off the piano and flipped through it for inspiration … and this is what I found). I made a little door with a bright opening on the inside. A bit of trimming and rounding of corners, and into the book it went:

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I also got some neat shape cutters, and made flowers from painted pages … along with more stencil flowers and some stencilled text:

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Some of the earlier practice words ended up on individual cards. I’m not sure quite what will become of these yet … making them was what I needed to do, and I am sure that at some point, I’ll be told what needs to happen with them.

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Much more experimentation is bound to ensue.

If you have any art journal resources to share, please leave me a comment … I’m fascinated by the whole concept right now!

Happy creating!

Art journaling

So apparently I need to play with paper and paint and ink and scissors. 

With the right mindset - just playing with colour and texture and shapes and not worrying about perfection or "proper technique" or anything - it's really freeing. Quick projects, too, unlike fibre arts which (the way I do them anyway) generally take days or weeks or more to finish. 

With a couple of trips to Michael's and a lot of rummaging through the kids' craft stuff, a bit of Web surfing for inspiration and a few tutorials I simply started. 

I'll post more details shortly, but here are a few images to get you pondering:




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).

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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

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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.

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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.

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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 …

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

hangingbeater

(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)

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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. :)