juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (I should have been born a cat)
I went down to Corvallis for my mother's 65th birthday almost-surprise party—not a surprise that there would be a party, but a surprise that out-of-towners, including her sisters, would be there; they also gave me my ride down from Portland. I am very bad at social events, even casual ones; I went and I didn't fail miserably (just moderately), so that's something, I suppose.

And I talked with people, uh oh. )

Then I spent ~10 days closed in Devon's bedroom, speaking to no one except a very good dog and occasional cat (and also Devon), lying in bed and reading, and playing the occasional video game; and it was approximately enough recovery.

- - - - -

I came back to PDX because I wanted to see my cat, and we made the mistake of driving up on a weekday afternoon because it fit every schedule except traffic and the first heat wave of the season. The car began to overheat once we hit the Portland traffic, so we ended up pulling off to the dead end of a residential street—a vacant lot and a half, tucked under an overpass and against a power station, nothing there but the shade of trees with their sudden vibrant green and the quiet backs to apartment complexes. We hung out for an hour, to let the car cool and traffic pass; I read 1984 for the millionth time. Then we drove home through back ways we know from when I lived in SE. It was, bizarrely—the unexpected 4-hour car trip, unseasonably hot, broken radio, rush hour traffic, and yet—a lovely, long goodbye, relaxing despite the stressful circumstances.

I hate summer, don't get me wrong. But summer is such an intense experience, so physically present, that the first signs of it conjure something akin to nostalgia: memories of spending all day in bed with all the electronics off, reading, reading, coaxing a crossbreeze out of my opened windows, and the anticipation of sunset and the full-body relief of tired eyes and tired skin. I saw that in the haven we found in that dead end.

- - - - -

These things are over a week old, now, but I've been been so tired lately; I've been having back issues for the last three or four weeks, the "wake up already in pain" variety, which is part of it. All I want to do is lay down and read, but the more time I spend reading, the longer the omnipresent backlog of book reviews becomes, fie. (It is so long.) But there've so many great books lately! Almost everything hovers at that 4-, 4.5-stars level, not quite flawless, but that can't really be a complaint.
juushika: Photograph of the torso and legs of a female-bodied figure with a teddy bear. (Bear)
There have been a number of interim posts since my last post that have not been written outside my head, because I am a perpetual bundle of busy and tired, consistently overstretching my limited capabilities to do politics and be scared about the state of the world.

One post: I did skip Thanksgiving, and my parents didn't come up after because inertia is a thing. But Dee went up to Washington for the holiday and Devon did drive up to see me for the day, just for a few hours. We made in-no-ways-traditional vegetarian hot dogs and mac & cheese (with hot dogs in it); it wasn't enough, but it was significantly better than nothing and I'm grateful.

Another post: practicing by doing the easy political phone calls on answering machines does (barely) make it easier to call real alive people. Somehow, that doesn't make it any less terrifying to forget about time zones and call places which are still open and unexpectedly staffed by alive people.

Another post: I have managed to leave the house, once or thrice. Snow helped (as sidenote: cats staring at snowland), because I missed the end of autumn and refuse to miss winter, too. We had snow + freezing rain, but then snow that stuck around, approximately pristine, for a few days. The latter was lovely.

* * *

Today my parents came through Portland and had lunch with me; they're headed northbound to spend the holidays traveling, including a trip to see my sister in Seattle. It was exhausting but in productive ways, almost entirely my fault—because over coffee I nonchalantly asked why I had which aspects of Jewish upbringing and how my extended family/various cultural aspects affected it, as one does.

I have, for obvious reasons, but especially as Hanukkah approaches, been thinking a lot about what it means to be Jewish and particularly to be Jewish in the face of forced assimilation and, you know, facism (how are these are sentences I'm writing and why is this the real world and can it stop), and also of the narrative of "Hanukkah isn't our most important holiday, and its cultural importance is actually a symptom of forced assimilation, but this year it certainly has extra thematic relevance"—because I was raised with Hanukkah and Passover and not much else, although my parents say there was an occasional Rosh Hashanah, which I think I remember; for me, there was no "more important holiday." It seems like some of that was because of how things lined up with Christmas/Easter and thus with school schedules, but it's also because that's what my father grew up with; his experience was inconsistent (Sabbat sometimes, but not always; Hebrew school and a bar mitzvah for him but not his brother; Hanukkah/Passover/Rosh Hashanah was all he celebrated, too) which has passed through the generations (Allie and I never had any formal religious education; our cousin did).

I grew up on the opposite side of the country from my Jewish grandparents, who always wished they could see us more often, who tried to cram a lot of Jewish Things into the whatever contact they had; they sent me Jewish novels and celebrated holidays with us less, I think, because those specific things were important—they weren't religious, their own practice was inconsistent—but because the identity was important.

White-passing half-Jewish cultural Jew is approximately as distant from the thing as one can be, and I understand the factors, the time, the literal distance, the way that assimilation works and why I have the background that I do. But I also have that identity, and its ... cultural expectation, I suppose, of persecution and persistence. My ancestors came from Russia, and immigrated before the Holocaust; that was not their personal story but it was their cultural story, and they taught me that, too.

I suppose I wanted an easy answer, an, "ah yes, your grandparents always wanted to practice these aspects of the faith with you, and you can now cling to them at least for their cultural significance even if you don't believe." But I didn't get that, I didn't get a "more important holiday" that can enable to me a real Jew. And I don't know where that leaves me, except that this diaspora experience is as real for me as it has been for my father and for his parents, and they are real Jews, so, maybe, I am too.

We also talked about how, for me, politics et al. isn't something to be countered by optimism or hope; that I live within communities where everyone will not (and has not) survived difficult times, and that but for the grace of Devon and August and my parent's financial support that could include me; and I think it's the first time I've ever mentioned suicidal ideation to my parents. My sister's cancer changed things for my family; we've learned to proactively accept and value of each other as we are, and the way that's effected how my parents view me—that they take me at my word when I talk about my experiences and health—as been huge. These are not things I would have felt comfortable sharing, years ago. I'm glad I can now, and the conversation wasn't all politics and Judaism and fascism, I also told them about Dare's antics and Dad showed me this video of him falling off his bike on the way to work. It was a worthwhile afternoon. But I am now very tired, and nothing really feels better.

I'm headed down to Corvallis soon, but we put it off a day and Devon is coming to get me, at some crazy early/late hour when we can skip holiday traffic, so that I can still see him and get my gifts without trying to navigate Amtrak/exhaustion/crazy.
juushika: Screen capture of the Farplane from Final Fantasy X: a surreal landscape of waterfalls and flowers. (Anime/Game)
Yesterday I woke early (~4 hours of sleep) due to election anxiety, and I played video games all day long in desperate escapism, and it was such a long day, and it only got worse. Nothing sunk in until I woke this morning. The language I keep hearing is "grief" and that is what it feels like—a distant, difficult to access, sincere loss.

Loss of faith, I suppose. I'm politically aware and I voted, but I think I didn't believe Trump was an existing threat; it felt absurd, surreal, a practical joke in particularly bad taste. And I know bigots exist, but I forget the ways in which my privilege and sheltered life and physical location save me from seeing most of them—they too had a distance. And in that space between me and these forces of hate there was a sort of faith, that despite our stellar examples of bad humanity we were not that at our core.

I've been proactively keeping occupied. Last night, after the results, I made baked whole apples (stuffed with oats and brown sugar), escaped into a book, took a sleep aid & passed out. Today I swept downstairs and brushed the dog, and then made superb apple crumble. I winged the recipe, but Dee bought vanilla ice cream and the apples were tender but not mushy and the spices were robust and the topping was rich and toasted—this small and objectively useless but pure good thing. I did everything while listening to podcasts, uninterrupted hours of The Black Tapes and Tanis. And I called home, and talked to my mom—as I told her, not because there was anything she could do, but just for the solidarity and comfort. She spent the day a haircut and manicure, and binge watching a show on Netflix. Tumblr today was a quiet comfort, most people I follow only flooding their feeds with forms of distraction.

It felt like self-care was all that many of us could do today.

Mental illness means that self-care is my entire life; I'm not sure what that will say about what comes next. I'm in a position of limited personal danger, but that's largely because I've absented myself from ... well, everything. (E.g. as an unemployed dependent, I would benefit from national healthcare—but am consistently too sick to seek care. I want the system to benefit other people, but its benefits or lack thereof doesn't effect me—most things don't effect me—I don't pay taxes I don't leave the house I don't, significantly, exist.) It's a weird place of privilege that originates from a disability. I'm terrified for those less privileged and more at risk. I'm not sure I'm in a position to help anyone.

But there was help in what I saw today from the communities I'm invested in. On one hand, this rude awakening, this shame and fear and rage, that the apparently impossible has happened & has always been possible. But on the other, our communal grief and terror, and our communal soothing, matters.
juushika: Screen capture of the Farplane from Final Fantasy X: a surreal landscape of waterfalls and flowers. (Anime/Game)
Be ye warned of discussions of pet health/aging/death.

A little while ago, my family's dog Jamie (a fourteen year old black lab; lab life expediency is 10-12 years) had a health scare that resolved to be a probable brain bleed, collapsing, some seizing, labored breathing, etc. We did the entire routine of family panic, "the dog may be dying" phone calls, considering trips to the emergency vet; the crisis resolved overnight and they were able to take her to her normal vet the next day. She's been acting old-dog normal since, with all the ongoing health issues but no new ones. But the vet still believes she won't make it through autumn, if only because they see most old animals die in spring and autumn when the changing seasons add new stressors.

Talking about this with Mum after the fact, she said that she'd used me as an example of calm and acceptance when everyone was doing the crying freakout thing—which startled me to hear, but makes sense. I've seen so many companion animals die, both recently and generally. I am on intimate terms with non-human animal death, in ways I never am with human death, even when I know the deceased. These dying animals are in my care or care-adjacent; their lives and deaths and my responsibility. None of that has a negative connotation, and I have gotten really good at calmly accepting end-of-life events.

When Mama died, so quickly, despite lifesaving measures, we still had a sense of absolute certainty. We watched her transition from skittish bedraggled stray to a playful, profoundly affectionate, calm housecat, and that was our doing; we also helped her in sickness, and made the decision to euthanize her, and that was equally as beneficial to her wellbeing. I cannot have one of those things without the other, nor would I want to. This one thing, providing love and care to animals, is within my ability, and there's nothing I'd rather do.

My sister got a mini red merle Australian Shepherd named Tiber last year, and, I mean, he's a good dog, but I was watching my family replace Jamie, not with intent but because it was easier to bond with a lively young dog than to accept Jamie in her old age, with her failing body, her loud panting, her constant need to Be With. They were looking after her physically, but their emotional energy was diverted. And, to be honest, I don't think Jamie knew or cared; with her blindness and exhaustion came a particularly dogged affection, a love unswayed by physical or social concerns. But seeing the impatience and distraction she received bothered me.

When I explained all of this to my mother (everything except the quiet judgment, obvs.), my emphasis was this: I was sad when she seemed like she might be dying, but not afraid and not sorry, because I regret nothing about Jamie, not the life I had with her, not who she is now, neither her eventual death. It's not an inconvenience or a price to be paid for the better parts; it is part of an experience, and that experience is the thing I value most in my life.

I don't expect them to do that, to turn tolerance into engagement and value Jamie-now as easily as Jamie-then. But not everyone engages with companion animals the way I do, and to be honest my engagement is something I've severely fucked up and undervalued in the past (and that I do regret). But her health scare woke them. They know not to take for granted the time she has left, and so to engage with her in that time, even if that requires patience with her old dog ways. I'm glad to see it, because she deserves the world—they all do, these animals we pledge ourselves to, but Jamie does in particular.
juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (I should have been born a cat)
Things what happened recently:

August went in for her dental surgery, had four top molars removed, and recovered with no issues. She went back to eating just fine. I still need to tackle the issue of how to brush a cat's teeth, but the immediate problem was resolved.

Dee and I went to see The National on a rainy evening in September. It bucketed rain during most of the opening band Frightened Rabbit but the temperature was fairly mild, so we just got soaked and dealt with it, and were mostly dry by the end of the show. Neither is a band I listen to on my own, but the live show atmosphere (and the other attendants determined to enjoy themselves despite the weather) was phenomenal; a very Oregon evening.

My mother's father died on September 29th; I opted not to attend the service in mid-November. I'm okay! Death doesn't have a profound impact on me; I'm mostly concerned for my mother and sister, but my grandfather was able to talk with my mother while still lucid the day before he passed; he'd been having health issues for some time, so this was not unexpected and did bring him peace. I know that traveling down for the service would make me miserable, and that's not how I want to remember him. This feels like one of the first times that someone asked me what I wanted to do, and I responded with my own desires and best interest, not with the answer that was expected of me; as such, I'm entirely content in my decision not to go.

Dee got a kitten! Here be the beastie; I will start taking more pictures of her probably when she moves into Dee's room (she's currently living in the downstairs bathroom, which is a bit small and lonely). Her name is Loki, she's tiny and young, purrs super loud and is full of energy. I'm not actually much of a kitten person which is why I only ever wanted to adopt grown cats, but a kitten to which I have frequent access is a fantastic pleasure.
juushika: Screen capture of the Farplane from Final Fantasy X: a surreal landscape of waterfalls and flowers. (Anime/Game)
This is my life:

Yesterday was my birthday! Devon and I went to have dinner with my parents; we went to Laughing Planet, which I discovered last time I was in Corvallis and fell a bit in love with. I had the cheese and pico quesadilla that I always get, and it was a fantastic meal: enjoyable but low-key. As much as I think my parents wish I did something with my life (which is a valid desire), they're still pleasantly surprised just to see how much I've improved in recent years—I think they're relieved to see that I'm more vivacious and simply happy, and dinner had that vibe to it: it was a relaxed pleasure which I couldn't've managed some years back.

As if to prove a point, I noticed in the middle of a completely different discussion that the restaurant was playing Florence + the Machine, and so I broke into a lengthy recounting of this experience, explaining (mostly to my mother, who's more emotional and emotionally-receptive than my father—that's not a condemnation: he's a happy well-rounded person and so, frankly, doesn't "get it," for which I envy him more than anything else) how it came down to the fact that I needed that concert to be beautiful, and it wasn't beautiful in the back, and I couldn't tolerate that—because F+tM is about living life with foolishly and joyfully, not in halved in experiences; not because you have no fear or regret, but because you swear to yourself to throw them off.

The song they were playing? The Dog Days are Over. Then after that, I shit you not, they played Shake It Out, which at the concert was the song that told me about throwing that devil off, and has become my secondary theme song.

The bakery we went to afterwards didn't have the dessert I wanted, because F+tM and no chocolate deliciousness apparently now go together, but who the hell cares. In my life, a restaurant plays Florence for me on my birthday and reminds me of everything I should never forget, bless.

The weather's broken somewhat, down to reasonable warm-because-summer, not hot-like-burning levels; it's the sort of weather that almost lets you glimpse autumn on the horizon, and that's a gift in itself. Devon's gift is still in the air, or may be a number of various long-needed necessities. (After seeing my parents last evening, we did a late Fred Meyer run and came away with three nail polish shades I've wanted for a while—no necessity by far, but yaaaay.) My father gave me spending money (BPAL Halloweenies in my future, perhaps?), including credit at The Book Bin which I will go spend today; my mother gave me, with assurances that in a few months it would be lovely instead of torturous, a black knitted cowl which doubles around the neck and is squishy and warm—and I actually had the chance to wear it already, when Devon and I went to an early morning breakfast today while the air was cold and fog was still on the fields, oh bless. Later today when we finally get moving we have many shopping trips planned, to the bookstore and elsewhere.

So. That's all I could ask for: love from friends and family, time with the boy, good food, things I want, and Florence.
juushika: A black and white photo of an ink pen. (Writing)
My mother has been making Spinach Ricotta Pie for as long as I can remember, and when I started doing some cooking here in Portland I asked her for the recipe. Since then, it's become my go-to dish (I even cooked it when I was visiting Express in San Francisco, and took it on the train on the trips there and back), and I've been meaning to write it up to share here.

This dish is similar to quiche, but the ricotta (rather than egg) base makes it unique, firmer and less like custard, with no eggy taste. It's fantastic warm and cold at any time of day, keeps well in the fridge and freezes well if sliced into servings. The recipe has been modified to increase the amount of veggies and cheese, and you really can't have too much of either. I also like to play around with alternate veggie/cheese combinations, and this version of the recipe reflects that.

(Spinach) Ricotta Quiche/Pie
Family recipe, adapted from Mollie Katzen's Moosewood Cookbook

1 pie crust
1 tablespoon butter
1 small onion, diced
1 small green bell pepper, diced
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
16 oz. vegetable filling*
16 oz. ricotta cheese
3 eggs
3 tablespoons flour
1 cup cheese, grated*
1/4 cup cheese for topping, grated

Preheat oven to 375.

Saute onion and green pepper in butter over medium heat for 7 minutes, until onion is translucent. Add seasonings and vegetable filling, and cook until ingredients are combined and excess moisture has evaporated.

In a large bowl, combine remaining ingredients except topping cheese, and mix well. Stir in vegetable mixture. Spoon into prepared pie crust, and top with remaining cheese.

Bake on lowest oven shelf for 50 to 55 minutes, until crust and cheese topping are golden brown and filling is firm to the touch. Cool at least ten minutes before serving; serve warm, cool, or reheated. Freezes well.

Notes: I usually double this recipe, as frozen pie crusts come in pairs and quiche keeps well. Use whatever vegetable/cheese pairing strikes your fancy: spinach and Swiss are my staples, but I also love broccoli cheddar and have had good luck with mushroom Swiss. Spinach can be frozen (squeeze out as much water as you can) or freshly wilted, broccoli should be trimmed and lightly steamed, mushrooms should be sauteed—the vegetables won't cook too much more in the oven, so have them pretty close to how you want them to be. You may want to modify spices to match: garlic is an awesome addition, spinach is fantastic with some mustard or basil, broccoli loves extra cayenne, etc. The nutmeg, however, should stay: it's classic to quiches, and makes the dish. Do or don't omit the green pepper—I find that if diced small, it disappears into the dish. Parmesan makes a fantastic topping cheese.
juushika: A black and white photo of an ink pen. (Writing)
I have a kitty again! She has already pinned me down for two cuddle sessions, and followed it up with a O.O LET US CHASE ONE ANOTHER AROUND THE HOUSE session. Now she's sacked out on my best pillow. I love her. Which is to say: I am back in Portland! My time in Corvallis was crazy busy—so busy that I decided to stay an extra day, that I would have time to simply relax and see my boyfriend.

Devon picked me up late on Friday, and then we drove to the Portland airport to pick up his friend Nathan, coming into town after a two-week vacation. Nathan may be my favorite of boy's friends—not that we're particularly close, but he's an all-'round good guy and I respect him. Great trip back as a result, but we got home late.

On Saturday I went into town with my father as planned. We hit the farmer's market with Jamie in tow, and it never fails to delight me to see how others interact with her: kids that actually ask to pet her! parents that ask if she's purebred, because they've never known a lab to be so soft. But I can feel it, these days, that Jamie is growing older. I see her less often; the changes are more obvious when I do. Her chin is white, she's both skinnier and flabbier without the allover sleekness of youth, she grumbles more. She's hardly dying but it's still a bitter thing. Old age was hard on Cokie, our last lab, and I feel death all around me these days (without dwelling, it was miserable to be in town and not have Madison there)—and I know that's an exaggeration, what with August in my life, but the impression remains and weighs on me.

Then we ran the dog and food home and returned for the Fall Festival. The theme this year was crows—not literally in any sense, but once I noticed them I never stopped. Last year we bought One for You from Barton DeGraaf; Murder of Crows was new this year, but we managed to walk away without a copy. I fell in love with Cameron Kaseberg's work; this is some of why, but the piece I want most to share with you isn't online. Papa was in search of three-dimensional outdoor art to decorate the back deck—an ongoing project that is finally nearing completion—and the best of what he picked up was a pecking crow from Cote Fine Sculpture (ours holds a red bead in its mouth). The artist's other work tend towards Wonderland-esque surreality; the crows meanwhile are surprisingly lifelike, with a fantastic feather texture. Unfortunately, we were at the Fall Festival through the hottest part of a sunny day, and I got my first sunburn of the year on the advent of autumn—of course. Eight hours of activity also wrecked havoc on my back.

On Sunday, Devon and I went over for a traditional family pancake breakfast. It was fantastically overcast and quiet, and I brought some muffins to leave with my parents. Sunday evening was a friend's birthday barbecue, which was—let us say: strange. I don't much miss my Corvallis acquaintances, but the social interaction was surprisingly pleasant for an evening, but I have no desire to do it again. It makes me want more social stimulation, and a more intellectual social circle—so the usual, I suppose, but the first reminder of its kind in some time.

On Monday, I dropped by the house around noon. I had some low-key time to talk with my mother, and it was fantastic. Our relationship has improved significantly in the last few years, and it may be conversations like those that I appreciate most: we had a tumultuous mother/daughter relationship, but we have a lot to say to one another as equals and I enjoy it. At half one, Papa and I swung by his place of work to do some paperwork, and he gave me a tour of his new job. He was working on the Halo project (video conferencing, not first person shooting) before HP sold it; now he's working with large-scale printing technology. He'd described it to me, but seeing it in person is different—in no small part (hah) because these beasts are huge. Room-sized huge. The scale is awesome; it could only have been better if I hadn't been in pain.

Between daily activity and poor sleep, and instigated by a particularly long Saturday, my back was miserable through the entire trip. Cocoa butter massages helped (and smelled fantastic, ohgod why did no one tell me), as did medication, by rights I should be resting now and will soon, but it seems largely resolved. Still: not a pleasant companion for a long weekend.

On Tuesday all we did was run an errand and go out to dinner, bless. I left for Portland early today, Wednesday. And now I have a week before I take a long train to San Francisco—but the panic about that trip has begun.

But I have a cat, and she loves me.

All in all: When I said I wanted to see my family, three days in a row was not quite what I had in mind—but a fantastic trip all told, in no small part because I discovered cocoa butter along the way. Nonetheless I am just as glad to be back. And now I can fall down, go boom.
juushika: Screen capture of the Farplane from Final Fantasy X: a surreal landscape of waterfalls and flowers. (Anime/Game)

Because my sense of it is so narrow, I'm not really one for humor. This comes as a great surprise, I know. Soul Eater's humor doesn't actively irritate me, however, and some of it is delightful—and I love the characters, and the show is so perfectly timed given my current autumn/Halloween obsession that I can't help but watch and enjoy it.

But behind the humor there's some rather miserable stuff. Kid's debilitating OCD. Crona's literal internal contradictions. There are some aspects which are played for laughs and emotional appeal (take, for example, Maka's relationships with Soul and with her father). If they weren't played for laughs, these other darker aspects would be outright disturbing and out of place. But I hope the show finds something serious and meaningful in them, somewhere along the way. Failing that, I'd love to see it somewhere in fandom*: a story about the real, detrimental, debilitating effects of Kid's neuroses, of why they exist and how he tries to control them, of how they control him; a look into what it means to be in Crona's head, Crona's body.

Because it was the above screenshot that lead me to finally watch the show (although, I admit, it was Kid's character design that drew it to my attention in the first place, and he is my absolute favorite)—

Because it is true, you know.

Hell is in here.

My mother was telling me about some documentary on emotions (This Emotional Life, maybe?), wherein one focus was people who worry over past events, and the emotional stress and strain that comes with that sort of thinking—and how weird the concept was, to her, that someone would do that. That is more than what I do—that is who I am. I actively fret and panic over events that occurred when I was a child, I relive experiences, I torment myself with little fragments of things I did wrong which the wronged have long forgotten—I think about these things obsessively, compulsively. And yes, it comes with significant emotional stress and strain.

Hell is in here, inside your head.

It doesn't take a show to tell me this (oh, believe me, I know!), but it is oddly satisfying to find it here, expressed in a way that makes me pause and nod, midst Halloween witches and glowing blue souls and swords with big red mouths on them. I'm more or less content with the balance between humor, plot, and emotional appeal that Soul Eater has thus far, but I treasure the moments like this—ones that capitalize on the humor to lull you into comfort, capitalize on the bizarre and exaggerated world in order to bring characters like this to life, and then, despite the laughs, despite the exaggeration: say something, mean something, and say something that means something to me.

* Although I don't have the energy to try to dig into that fandom, you see. I feel like this is a frequent problem: because I go all the way or not at all, I find it easier these days not to bother with fandom at all—and thus not lose entire months of my life. The downside is, of course, that I don't get anything out of fandom—including those things which I do still want.
juushika: Photograph of the torso and legs of a female-bodied figure with a teddy bear. (Bear)
I went by my parents's house yesterday—Papa and my sister are away in New York, checking out schools and watching the Yankees, so I thought I'd take the dog out from under Mum's feet for a while. Jamie and I went on a walk in the woods, she got brushed, and I watered the garden; it was beautiful out, overcast with a soft breeze, and the trail was littered with the first few fallen leaves. Autumn is upon us, and thank goodness. I also saw my mother, who was working on a large wall hanging, and two episodes of Law & Order—I swear, I'd almost forgotten what a television was.Crumb Bear by Skybell Arts

When I was there, I also picked up packages and presents—you know, for my long distant birthday. [livejournal.com profile] sisterite, your package arrived! She sent smellies, most importantly an imp of Ivanushka (yay), and a copy of Sharp Teeth, that verse novel about werewolves which I loved and wanted to own and reread. Thank you, lovely! I'm waiting for the imps to settle out after shipping, and then I'll test and write reviews. I much look forward to checking out the sniffie of Candy Butcher, because I've been curious about that scent for a long time.

I also picked up the package of Hod and October—I am so looking forward to Hod, but I'm giving the oils a chance to settle first. It's a long, hard wait.

And I picked up my mother's birthday gift—Crumb Bear, that quilt over to the left. You should certainly click through and see it in greater detail. Mum is a fabric artist; she started Crumb Bear when she was cleaning out her huge stash of fabric and fabric scraps. I fell in love with it because of the color and the bear imagery.* There's some progress shots and more information over at her arts blog: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

I think it turned out beautifully, and it looks wonderful hung on the wall. I have a couple of my mum's pieces—a triskele runner and an entirely handstiched, handquilted piece which I love—but this is my new favorite. Thank you, mum. So, yes. All in all a successful day and a successful visit.

* On bear imagery: I attended a Montessori school from preschool through sixth grade; on three occasions during that time, most notably on my graduation from school, I was given the bear as a totem animal. (I've since narrowed it down to the black bear, which is native to where I live.) To me, the bear is nature, solitariness, hibernation, wisdom, vegetarianism (although bears eat insects, fish, and some carrion), and protection. The bear rises up to protect me; the bear is a silent companion, content to stand at a distance but willing also to lead me to knowledge. I don't work with my bear totem as often as I should, but its presence comforts me nonetheless. I still have the stone bears that were given me on those occasions as well as a few other necklaces, and I was drawn to this piece of the same bear imagery.

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juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (Default)
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