Saturday, 21 May 2016

Adding My Thread to the Tapestry

After my last post, in which I documented our disastrous date day, I’m happy to report that sunnier days – and sunnier ways – have prevailed. (Thanks, JT!) Our return trip from visiting the mainland was a complete do-over of our first attempt at a date day, and a total success. We’re back to smiling at each other.

I was home just long enough to  pack the car with everything I would need for a five-day quilting retreat – a perfect place, I thought, to continue work on Project UP (Unclogging the Pipes – getting stuff off my unfinished list in order to clear the way for fresh, creative ideas.) There was big quilt entitled "Solay’s World", begun when grandson Solay was 2; now, he’ll soon be 8. And there was my self-portrait, me at 67, also much behind schedule.

At the retreat, I spent two days on Solay’s World and was ready to throw in the towel and go home again.  This quilt will be beautiful when it is done, but it’s such hard slogging to do all that careful and methodical measuring and cutting. I could see that it is definitely off-kilter. I was all tied up in knots. This is so not me!

And so on the third day I pulled out my latest unfinished  self-portrait and breathed again. This project is one of a series. My first self-portrait was started 7 or 8 years ago, and finally completed a few weeks ago as part of Project UP.

The woman in this mandala is contemplating where she is in life, realizing that her life is a sum of the events  and teachings she’s experienced. Some are life-giving, and  some have caused damage. As she reflects on it all, she realizes some heavy baggage should be left behind, but some she can keep and nurture. New life will result – a better life and more honest.

Three years ago, about to turn 65, I once again turned to self-portraiture. The talking crow first made its appearance as an introduction to this blog. Its beak is open, and from it flows golden beads. This crow, like me, had something to say, and the time had come to say it.

What a year that was! I was often in a state of euphoria – I’d finally begun work on a long-held dream to combine my love of writing and quilting to speak about issues and ponder questions common to women of a “certain age.” It turned out that at least some of my  “14" readers were younger women, and men, too, so perhaps these issues and questions are universal.

Approaching my 66th birthday, I created this self-portrait as a reflection of my happy state of mind:

As I approached my 67th birthday, I journalled about and sketched the next portrait, again on a crow theme (of course! – by now, I am known as the old crow. That’s okay with me.) In my journal, I wrote: “I am coming to another birthday, and my life has loose ends. I think it would be a good idea to work on a crow piece that reflects this theme. What are my loose ends? What do you do with loose ends? You weave them together to create a tapestry, that’s what!”

I pulled out a background I had pieced years before, and added a crow. The old crow is white – as is my hair. It was a beginning. Months later, as the theme developed within, I added Planet Earth, holding it in place with  some threads and glittery bits. The crow’s loose ends were being woven into the fabric that is the world we live in. That was another step. A month or so ago, thinking of Project UP, I did some more digging and came across this beautiful quote:

In the tapestry of life, we’re all connected. Each of us is connected to those around us, helping each other be who we are, weaving a perfect picture together.
-- Anita  Moorjani

After that insight, it was pure joy to finish this piece. I added more threads in various colours, and my own unique thread, fuzzy and nubby.

Much of the joy I experienced came from the encouragement and suggestions that my quilty sisters made to help me make it as meaningful as possible. These friends are living proof “that each of us is connected to those around us, helping each other be who we are.” As a grand finale, I added a moon and more glittering planets to show how big and beautiful this universe is that we are privileged to live and love and play in. 

Eleven months late, it is finished!

I’ve journalled about my next piece in this series, and have a good idea of where I’m going with it.My birthday is in a few weeks, but this new piece will be a while in the making.  Stayed tuned...but don’t hold your breath!

Sunday, 8 May 2016

Date Daze

Last week the resident sweetie celebrated a milestone birthday. Instead of a big party, we set up outings on each of the three days of the weekend. We had such a lovely time, we decided we should set up a date every week. Good idea, eh?

Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time.

So Friday was date day. We had planned a trip to visit the kids and grandkids on the mainland, but now, we decided to spend the day in Vancouver before heading to Abbotsford. We would visit the Van Dusen Botanic Gardens, with dinner out afterwards.

 Van Dusen Gardens entrance: We'd last visited this place when our kids were young, many, many years ago.
We’d catch the 10:30 a.m. ferry, and have all afternoon and evening to do whatever we wanted in Vancouver. Then we would move on to Abbotsford for a few more days.  Great idea, eh?

But to catch the 10:30 ferry, we’d have to leave by 8:30, which meant getting up at 6:30 a.m. Who starts a date that early? Not us. Maybe we’d be more relaxed if we had a later start. We’d still have lots of time in Vancouver if we caught the 12:30 ferry. After all, the journey is part of the experience, and why not enjoy it all the way, wide awake and relaxed? Good idea, eh?

At 10:30, right on schedule, car all packed, relaxed and pleased with ourselves, we headed south for the one hour trip to the ferry. A beautiful, sunshiny day, on a beautiful island, beautiful mountains and ocean around us, the beautiful city of Vancouver awaiting our explorations ... what a great day for a date!  What a great idea!

Perhaps you’ve guessed where this is going: Murphy was with us yesterday. The first inkling that something might not go according to the plan was as we approached Nanaimo – the roads were so busy. All those people wouldn’t be heading to the ferry, would they? But they were. We ended up 7 cars shy of getting on that ferry – and now we would have to wait for more than 3 hours to catch the next one. What a lovely date: sitting in a hot parking lot with hundreds of other cars, waiting, experiencing all the joys of “Island time”. How often we had been told – and in turn had laughingly told others –  “Relax. It’ll happen when it happens. No sense getting your knickers in a knot.” Not so funny now.

We’ve been islanders long enough to know we’d better be prepared for the unexpected, so we  made the best of it, snacking on picnic food, doing a sudoku, reading the paper, playing games on our cell phones. We only had ourselves to blame, after all. I hate it when that happens. It’s so tempting to blame it on someone else – wasn’t it the RS that had suggested leaving later? (Don't go there, Jessie.)
Finally we got to Vancouver. Of course, by this time it was rush hour! At 5 p.m. we were snarled in 4 lanes of traffic that had to funnel into one lane to cross the Lion’s Gate Bridge. Without going into detail, that’s not all that was snarly.  It was 6:30 before we arrived at our destination. If we ate supper before we entered, we’d only have 30 minutes to tour the gardens. What to do? We went in on empty stomachs. The gardens were pretty and peaceful.

Lovely, but our behaviour to each other was not. Snark snark, snip snip, grump, grump. We ended up walking out before we’d seen it all. Whose good idea was this date thing, anyway?

Well, we still had a restaurant dinner to look forward to. Perhaps we could make up over a nice glass of wine, and have a good laugh about the way our date had turned out. Except, zooming down the highway at 120 km./hr., we missed the turnoff for the restaurant we’d chosen, and finally at 9 p.m., our moods dark and dangerous, we stopped at a fast-food bar inside a gas station/convenience store  – one of those places that thinks that the paper your hamburger is wrapped in makes a great plate. No wine. Just whine. No laughs, either.

Some days – and dates –  are like that, eh?

A friend has just created a piece of textile art with a message that reads, “I am grateful for the challenges in my life, for without them I would not have stumbled across my strengths.”

Art created by Lynn Morfitt Gray as a response to a Small Worx challenge to create a piece that tells a story about your life. (This photo doesn't do it justice -- the piece is lovely.)

Truly, when the news media are full of horror stories about wars and wild fires, our failed “date day” rates about .00001 on the challenge scale. But I have learned that I have a long way to go before I stumble across that “hidden strength.” There will be more challenges, and hopefully, slowly, I’ll learn, bit by bit. I can say that I am grateful for this challenging day: it is a valued piece in the puzzle that is life, with its sunshine and shadows, laughter and tears, frustrations and joys. And some day – well, even now – we’ll get a good laugh out of it.

Yesterday was another day. It started with a knock on our bedroom door – the youngest granddaughter was needing a snuggle and a chat. It continued with all kinds of good things: a quiet morning, lunch on the deck, a visit to a greenhouse and petting zoo, thrift store shopping with my daughter-in-law and two grandgirls, a supper date with the oldest grandgirl, which included wine and no whine. Reading stories together. Love and hugs and laughs galore.

Some days are like that, eh? Thank goodness!