Monday 22 April 2013

Play is the Opposite of Failure

For the past almost two weeks, I've been pulling on threads.

Actually, I've been pulling threads for a while now; doing untangling of my own. Maybe, to use the imagery of late, what I'm doing now is weaving something from the pulled threads.

Weaving something atypically open-ended, on instinct, without knowing the pattern and then being overjoyed to find the work just right, just what was needed, just what was wanted.

learning new crochet stitches, no pattern in mind (makes a good dollhouse rug :)
The picture that's emerging is the antidote to the never-ending, never-accomplished lists that have always been my constant not-really-that-kind-and-a-little-bit-too-competitive companions; my constant minders. It's the antidote to the voice in my head (not my own) that has always said "Not Good Enough" or, "You Know That Thing You Wanted to Do? Not as Important as the Should be Done". I firmly believe that none of us is born with an inner voice like that, but knowing it and discovering what will cancel it out are two very different things and sometimes the finding can be long work. It certainly has been for me. So how to find value day-to-day for the things I really ache to do and also not fail?

more trying: this one ended up as a doll blanket
A while ago I had an argument with myself. And, wouldn't you know it, it's my own argument, my own thread of words, that's led to an antidote that works; for me, anyway. When you read other people's platitudes, sometimes they resonate, sometimes you recognise the journey, the way, that led to the words they're saying; the phrases people pass around like talismans and say to themselves in times of trouble, in front of the mirror. But none of them have ever took root with me. I tried it:

Me: "Well, you really only have two choices: not to fail, or be o.k. with failing."

Self: "It's impossible to do the first, and I am not o.k. with the second. (Cue Westley "Then we are at an impasse".)

Me: "Maybe there's no such thing as failing."

Self: "That's just another way of saying it's o.k. to fail."


As bleak as that seemed, it was a start. It led to the understanding that what I was really searching for was a way to not fail. A way I actually trusted.

And one day out of a tumble of words, a knot of thoughts, something new emerged and took root. It took a way of thinking about things that's not instinctual to me and made it of value because it's the antidote to failing. I'm tempted to make it into a tattoo, but for now, I'm working on a design to embroider.

Play is the opposite of failure.  And because it's a statement of my own, in my own voice, it's been so much more effective at cancelling out that deep doubting voice than anything reactionary; any argument that I've tried in the past. Just my own voice, firm and steady, saying "play is the opposite of failure" and finding joy in it, because in the end, all the good stuff, the stuff that had no acceptable value but now does, the stuff I remember passionately and fondly, is play.

Tuesday 9 April 2013

It's the oddest thing...

clicked on cloth.paper.string on the sidebar 'cause i haven't read her stuff in a long long while.

browsed a bit. she got me intrigued, as always, and i clicked on a link.

and instead of opening at the top of the post, it opened in the middle, and the first line handed to me was...

burn your to-do list

really, it's just the oddest thing...

Perfectly Not-Perfect

I have a feeling that picture might blow the pixels off a few screens, but there's no subtle way to photograph those colours, so there you go. Besides, it's my only completed knitting project in oh-so-long, so I'm proudly putting it up there.

Whilst sorting the yarn bin, I discovered this washcloth that I had almost finished. Almost because I ran out of yarn. Crappy craft store yarn which I'd never be able to match anyway, so taking the needles by the horns, I finished in orange.

There is an inordinate amount of pleasure received from finishing a project, no matter how small, that's been on the needles for, oh, say....eight years? Maybe nine?

I struggle continuously with the difference between what I can see is possible, or rather, what should be possible, versus what actually is possible. They are disparate things in my world, mostly because the "should be possible" that I pick is probably more suited for a superhero rather than a mere mortal such as myself. This results in a lot of unfinished projects.

Some days, the lists of things that should be done, that could be done if I just try harder hound me until the light fades and I prop my aching legs up on the couch and zombie-surf the web just to empty my mind. Those days don't happen often, but they do happen, sometimes several in a row.

It's not something I actually enjoy. The funny thing is, those days are my own creation. Lists are straightforward and simplistic. Life is not. Maybe if I looked at the things I want to do as goals instead of line-items to be checked off? Is that different? I don't know...I'm still working on this.

The only thing I know about it now is that it's hard to make allowance for life if I'm just going by a list. And that sometimes it's o.k. to finish with a different colour.

Sunday 7 April 2013

A Most Excellent Neighbour

Our most excellent neighbour, Louise, is multi-talented, a genuine learner, and all-round lovely person to have next-door. We knew we first liked her because she talks to the kids like they're people, which is always a good sign.

Secondly, she sometimes comes bearing crafty awesomeness. A couple of years ago she showed Safiya and I how to silk-screen, and she is Safiya's loom benefactor. Since Safiya's interest in weaving has coincided with Louise taking a weaving class (such gorgeous scarves she's made already!), we invited her over for tea, cookies, and show-and-tell. It was pretty neat. That up there is a table loom, and that below there is a little guy very interested in how heddles work.

A very enjoyable afternoon was spent with Louise patiently answering questions and guiding small hands with levers. There was much lifting of heddle-things (I forget the name!) but not much weaving because of a wayward part, but it was enough for understanding the process.

There was also something else very very cool:

Chain-mail! Our collective geek hearts did a little dance at this sight! Also, woodcarving!

I also happen to know that she's a book-binder extraordinaire, amongst other things. Like I said, a crafty gal, and an inspiration. The weaving was worked on and the whittling knife was pulled out for some work on a set of arrows after she left, so thank-you Louise! Thank you so much for your thoughtfulness and time and kindness and the contagious curiosity sharing :)

Friday 5 April 2013


"I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights." - Maya Angelou

I think detangling yarn falls in with Christmas lights. With the sudden surge in demand for yarn around here, the forlorn yarn box needed attending to.


It's a bin of tangled yarn, failed projects, half-finished socks (who am I kidding: quarter-finished socks), things started still on needles stuck into other things and holding fast. Metal needles and merino dreams.

I hadn't realised that, like all worth-while detangling, unknotting yarn takes a long time to do. Oh my, does it take time. Mr. S. tells that when he was little, it was one of his favourite things to do for Nana. (I've mentioned before he's weird, right? Just the right kind of weird for me, anyway.) Having done a few skeins now, I think I understand. It's pure hand shaking torture if you're in a hurry, but really a delightful puzzle if you put some time aside and just let it go.


So satisfying. Just like any detangling.

*This post is to kind of commemorate some of my loved one's recent detanglements of their own. To remember the hard work and patience required and the sheer joy and relief when it was done. To remember the worth of it every day, and that the sweetest, best part is looking at the days ahead and the possibilities of the "now what"? 

Monday 1 April 2013

Vegan Gluten-Free Sausage Patty Deliciousness

Safiya is visiting her beloved Granny for the week and that is a picture of the very last bit of a super-delicious-breakfast-sandwich-like thing that I ate for dinner. Why, you may ask, are these two facts related?

Safiya doesn't eat sandwiches. Which means that Mr. S. and I just may eat sandwiches every day for dinner this week (Zinadine just eats components of sandwiches anyway, so we're good). That is the remnants of a scrambled tofu, avocado, and breakfast sausage goodness sandwich...contented sigh.

I've been searching high and low for a gluten-free sausage-ish recipe that doesn't require mutant ingredients and multiple involved steps like foil-wrapped steaming during a full moon but only on a Sunday. And so, because of my "let's actually try things instead of just making lists", I gave this recipe a whirl.

Holy fast-food-craving-satisfying-mouth-smacking fantasticness, Batman!

And they're fast to make and inexpensive and not weird (I used smoked paprika instead of liquid smoke, which I feel maybe is a bit weird). It's the first time I've ever cooked with TVP, and I'm o.k. with that. Now excuse me while I go finish that last bite.

p.s. This post is dedicated to Katharine, who thinks that maybe our lives are more than food and kids. Highly dubious...