Unfinished Business

 

How many of us complicate our lives with unfinished business?  I’m sure at one time or another all of us could admit to having the heavy burden, guilt or pressure of such things as: telling someone something difficult to say, finishing a particularly difficult assignment, paying a bill, exercising or any myriad of things left undone.  We have all seen movies, read books and perhaps personally experienced the feeling of leaving unfinished business so long that it gets too late to complete.  This is a story of unfinished business on many levels.

Allow me to go back to the beginning of this story, exactly ten years ago.  I was raising children and working off and on and had decided to take up the hobby of weaving.  I had a loom and had dabbled but my results were inconsistent and somewhat dissatisfying.  I belonged to the local weaver’s guild and decided to participate in a one-day course they were offering on dying silk.

Off I went on a Saturday morning with my silk warp that I had prepared ahead of time as instructed.  We had an expert come in and instruct the course and I was anxious because first of all, I didn’t really feel like I was a good enough weaver, secondly, I was terrified of the fine silk threads and didn’t think I would ever be able to get them sorted and on my loom and thirdly, I knew nothing about dying fibre.  Needless to say I was the perfect student as I had much to learn.

After a day of theory and experimenting and carefully following the procedure the instructor gave us, I came out of the science lab of the local college with a beautifully hand-dyed silk warp for a scarf.  As I was creating it and choosing the  colours I was doing so with my Mom in mind.  I was excited that I would be able to present her this exquisite piece for Christmas that year.  That gave me about 6 months to complete the warping and weaving of the project.

Fast forward to now, ten years later and as of two weeks ago that warp was still hanging in my weaving room.  I had moved at least 8 times since completing that warp and still I had not woven it.  Somewhere in the chaos and complications of my life I grew incredibly fearful of that warp.  To me it signified all that I wasn’t; a craftswoman, creator and proficient weaver who was able to handle any fibre. Getting the gorgeous silk warp onto my loom seemed like a hurdle I just could not attempt.  I asked friends to help me sort the hundreds of fine threads in order to get them on my warp and they willingly agreed.  Somehow, I always seemed to justify putting if off for another time.

In the last few years I have missed my Mom and family greatly, as I  lived in a different part of the province than them.  Some days I looked at that warp and reminded myself what an  unaccomplished, unfocussed, procrastinator I was. When I was feeling especially miserable that warp served to remind me that I had failed on so many levels, as a weaver, a daughter and the list goes on.

This past year has been a difficult but gratifying year for me.  I chose to leave my work and move  back to the island to be closer to my Mom and the rest of my family and friends. Through many days of self-loathing, copious cups of coffee, miles of wilderness and beach walking, infinite reading, time spent with family and friends and some counselling thrown in for good measure, I arrived at the place in my mind where I could believe that I was a person of some substance.  With that came the steps that lead me to realize I must leave again and go to where my work is and be satisfied with the fact that I am an adult who is able to choose to be where I want, when I want, while still  being a good daughter, mother and friend. This holds true, even when I do not live in the same location as the people I cherish most.

Having waded through the mental mire and mud I found myself, (two weeks ago) standing in my weaving room beginning the process of once again packing my supplies, readying for my move back to the Interior.  As I contemplated what to pack first my gaze  cast upon that beautiful silk warp.  For many reasons, some unknown to me as of yet, I was able to view that warp through new eyes.  What I saw was an incredible opportunity to create something beautiful out of something that had for so long seemed far too daunting to even imagine.  I looked at the hundreds of threads and saw my opportunity to create something uniquely beautiful, not because I had suddenly gained far more skill and talent but simply because it would be created and produced  by me for someone that I love beyond measure. No matter that it might not turn out perfect, the fact that I would  face my fear and do something difficult because I wanted my Mom to know I love her and am willing to tackle hardship, uncertainty and confusion for her, would make it perfect, whatever the weaving quality turned out to be.

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the silk threads are tied on the loom

As I threaded and untangled the threads and then wove the scarf with patience and more care than I had ever put into a project, I thought of how pleased I was as the fabric slowly appeared and unfurled with each throw of the shuttle.  At one point I  contemplated giving the scarf to one of my daughters because I wondered if my Mom would actually ever wear the scarf as lately she is less inclined to dress up and go out because she too has lost her belief in herself.  I quickly caught myself making excuses to leave the complicated business of my relationship with my Mom unfinished and carried on, determined to present this piece to my Mom, complete with the story behind it and as much love as I could possibly envelop her with. No more excuses about the quality of the weaving not being good enough, which is a direct translation of  ‘Im not a good enough daughter, mother, friend, blah, blah, blah.’

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As I untied the piece from the loom and laid it out along the hallway floor to inspect I was amazed, stunned even.  The piece was exquisite, my best piece ever.  I marvelled at how I had untangled and threaded 20 ends per inch of hand-dyed silk and carefully thrown each pass of the shuttle thousands of times to create this ‘piece de resistance’ for my mother, just as I had intended so many years ago. In my eyes, it really was perfect.

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The daunting project is complete

I continued to finish the piece by carefully twisting the loose warp threads on either end of the scarf into many finely twisted fringes and then I submerged the piece in water to allow the threads to relax from the tension of the loom and glide into a more natural weaving of threads laying over and under each other.  With growing confidence, I carefully pressed the wrinkles in the scarf with a warm iron to assist the intricate weaving of threads to be  presented in the best light possible.  As I tentatively draped the scarf around my neck and looked at my reflection in the mirror I could not help being pleased with myself.  I did it and it was worthy.

On so many levels this process is a metaphor for the journey I have travelled over the last ten years.  The journey marked with self-doubt, hardship, resentment and the process of me coming to terms and recognizing that I am worthy, not because what I do or say is perfect but simply because I am who I am. This process  is mirrored in the story of this silk scarf. Today I am proud to present myself to the world; uniquely coloured by my spirit, carefully threaded through the experiences of life and finely woven with just the right tension from the relationships I have known.  I can release myself of the tension created by expectations of myself and others and just be me, exactly as I released the scarf from the tension of the loom and bathed it in water to allow the threads to slide comfortably into position.

I have relieved myself of unfinished business with my Mom and myself and I am exactly where I need to be at this moment, physically, mentally and spiritually…….. and I am ok.

 

Keeping It Simple

danish pebernodder cookies

danish pebernodder cookies

This week I am busy weaving, knitting and baking. I am trying to keep dinners simple with very little preparation.  Saturday night we hosted friends for dinner so I served Short Ribs.  This allowed us to work and play all day at activities of our choice without having to be in the kitchen all day for dinner preparations.  We enjoyed a wonderful evening with our friends while dining on my version of Pumpkin Soup, Salad, Braised Short Ribs, garlic mashed potatoes, and Flan which my girlfriend brought.

Sunday was a very easy dinner because there were leftovers so we got to hike Rosewall Creek for hours and then enjoy the rest of the day working around the house and then enjoy the leftovers.  I made risotto with some of the juice  I strained off the ribs and added a little more red wine and asiago cheese. I was also able to make some Danish Christmas Cookies in between knitting and watching a movie Sunday night.

Last night I was  again  able to call on the leftovers to provide me with the beginnings of a wonderful meal.   With the remaining risotto and some of the wine sauce I saved, I was able to make a delicious Kale and Vegetable Soup.  I used fresh kale, carrots and turnips from my friend’s garden, some celery, chicken meat that I had in the freezer and the leftover risotto to produce a rich, hearty soup.  It was the perfect meal for a cold December night.

loom all ready for production

loom all ready for production

Because meals have been simple I have been able to finish a few knitting projects and yesterday I made a warp for my loom as well as a mock warp so that I don’t have to waste any precious mohair.  Last night we were able to spend the evening giving my loom a much need clean-up and overhaul.  I now have a loom in tip top shape without squeaks, loose parts or dust and dirt covering it.

That being said it is time for me to get to work producing more gifts.

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dreamy mohair warp

dreamy mohair warp

Time to get busy

unnamedAn oak leaf hydrangea gives inspiration for all kinds of creations.

Today is a grey day and I am recuperating from a weekend with my daughters.  We met in Victoria and spent the weekend, walking, shopping, dining out and visiting, laughing and even crying.  I feel a little drained today but started the day with a gym workout at 6:30am  so I am ready to get back to a state of calm and creativity.

In the last few weeks and months I have been gathering and foraging along with cleaning up the yard and gardens.  I have a big blister on my hand from all the raking.  There are still a few mushrooms out in the forest but they are waning and although I am tempted by the challenge I have enough mushrooms for the winter so no need to take more than I need. I picked the apples two weeks ago, the hazelnuts have dried and I have a load of moose meat that my daughter and her boyfriend generously gave me when I saw them this past weekend.  I am also working on making Christmas gifts and items for the house.  Last week it was rag rugs and a knitted headband and now I am starting the second of a set of oven mitts.  I pulled out the November and December British Country LIving Magazines to provide me with comfort and inspiration so this week I shall try to inspire you with my epicurean creations and utilitarian crafts.

RAG WEAVING

unnamed What do you do with old clothes and scrap material piling up in boxes?  Why weave rugs of course.

These are the one inch strips of torn material that will provide the weft.

unnamed The warp uses a linen/cotton blend.  Turned out to be too stretchy but I got creative and fixed that after I completed the weaving.

photoThe weft is strips of torn material.  Here I used an old blouse, ticking and the lining of an old coat.

unnamed This one is for the bathroom.

unnamedThe larger of the two made with funky vintage cotton, old curtains and ticking. Great for in front of the sink.

What you get by…

What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals. ”
” Thoreau

     Well, I did it.  If you hadn’t noticed by yesterday’s post I am completely new to blogging  It is something that I have been interested in for a while and finally decided that it was time to dive in.  In today’s post I will introduce myself a little more thoroughly and fill you in on what has led me to blogging.

     As I mentioned yesterday, I am now living in Comox.  I loved the Okanagan but left a job teaching Middle School there for the time being.  I am fortunate enough to be able to go back to the job next year but for now I am in Comox, BC. Family circumstances caused me to make this move and I was optimistic about finding On Call teaching here.  My optimism is fading somewhat and after my initial panic I am acting on the advice and sage wisdom of caring friends and prominent authors and intellects.  The advice can be summed up by the following sentences.  “You either have time or money but not usually both, so while you have time use it to do what you have always wanted to do.  When you are old you will not be wishing for more money but you will want more time so don’t squander it worrying about a temporary lack of employment.”

     So, here I am.  As, stated in my About Me page, I am a teacher among many other roles.  I love the craft of teaching but I also love learning.  One of the things I am known for in my circle of family and friends is being able to create and produce amazing food from good fresh ingredients.  I can whip up a great meal out of anything and since I am somewhat addicted to cookbooks I have no problem finding inspiration.  In this blog I would like to share some of my favourite recipes and cookbooks with you as well as stories that make each meal or recipe special.  

     One of the main reasons I wanted to start this blog was self-centered I will admit.  I have been keen to begin documenting what a year in my life looks like for some time now.  It has become apparent to me that I am a creature of habit as much as I am someone who loves change and creating.  I started noticing that my kids were recognizing rhythms that tied to the seasons.  So, for instance sometime in late February or early March one of them would say, “oh look Mom, the rhubarb is starting to come up. I can’t wait for the first rhubarb pie of the season.”  Or they would watch me light the first fire in early October and say, “oh I can’t wait to cozy up on the couch and have one of our indoor picnics.”  At about the same time I was speaking with a friend whose parents are German born Canadians.  They came to Canada with nothing and through hard work and self-sufficiency created a beautiful life for themselves and their family.  We started talking about everything they do and thought that it might be a good idea to take a year off work and just follow them each day for a year to document and learn about all the things they do that allow them to live a rich and beautiful life on sometimes very limited income.  We never did do that but  as my grown children began calling me and asking about how to make some of their favourite meals, or a loaf of bread or pesto I began rethinking this idea.  What if I could record what I do for my children?  Originally I thought I would write a cookbook for them but it  become apparent that there are so many stories involved in what I do each day that a cookbook would not be a suitable medium.  I wanted to be able to tell them my stories and so a journal seemed more appropriate. As I got more adept at researching while doing my Master Degree I realized that I really liked blogs.  The beauty of the blog is that it is so interactive and has the potential to become a much larger community and body of knowledge than I could ever compile. So, yesterday I decided to take the time I have this year and begin the documentation of a year of living well, closely connected to the earth and the rhythms of each season, beginning with Fall.  

     I look forward to telling my stories, sharing recipes, books, weaving, knitting, felting projects and any other information I find interesting.  I anticipate much sharing, learning and discussion and can’t wait to hear your comments.  Please be patient as I and weave and bob my way through blogsphere and improve the appearance of my site.