Memory

My wisdom teeth

compact

enameled little versions of my teenaged-self

Awkward

slow to appear

two stayed in hiding.

They knew

Wise indeed.

But also

stubborn.

One put up such resistance

that its

yanking

ripped me from anesthesia

no pain

just alarm

at the violent assault

on my jaw.

‘Let go!’ I thought

And they turned up the gas.

Later

shaking

relief

gauze tasting of rain/rust

I was afraid to look

but I kept my teeth

Only the two awkward ones.

The stubborn fellows were crushed

during

extraction

They put up the good fight.

I couldn’t decide what to do with them

they felt like my children

I kept them near

tiny realities in three-days-thick narcotic fog

that made me feel

paranoid

and exhausted.

I wanted to cry when they began to rot.

Needing to bury them,

I distressed about location

selecting and dismissing every possibility in my mind.

Finally – a Redwood.

The only tree specimen suitable to guard my precious wisdoms

At the library – my favorite.

I knelt in the wet pine needles

dug the earth away with my bare hands

and set them free

so I could go home

fingernails caked

with memory.

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Organizing!

Just a quick post to say, I’m still here!

The second half of 2012 has brought many welcome changes into my world – a new job, a big move, and of course, Matt 🙂 I’m excited about Christmastime, which for me begins on December 1st and continues until New Year’s. In the midst of all that, I’m slowly unpacking and organizing and getting excited about having a designated creative space in 2013.

I really enjoy periodically purging and reorganizing my home because it brings harmony and balance into the space and I tend to notice and appreciate the things I have and use them more. Plus, your day starts just a little better when you know where your boots and keys are. The difficult part is managing cost – containers and bins can blow your budget out of the water very quickly if you shop designated organizing chains. I’m definitely partial to a recycle/repurpose lifestyle and have accumulated my fair share of vintage jars over time. I love storing art supplies and notions in glass because you can easily assess what you have on hand. However, I like to collect things and relying on thrift finds will only get you so far when it comes to storage – which is why this picture delights me to no end:

Ordinarily I’m pretty anti-Dollar Tree – a lot of the merchandise just feels really cheap and junky and it’s way down there on the list with WalMart. I just avoid them. But I saw one while I was running errands this morning and stopped in to see if they had a few drawer dividers or something…and holy crap.  For $38 I scored 43 different jars, bins, lidded containers, dividers and tiered shelves. I will definitely be going back to scope out this type of stuff in the future. Click the image to see details on Flickr.

Next project: the search for perfect bookshelves and sorting everything on them by color :O Bliss!

Honoring Our Process

Well, hello there.

I’ve been absent for some time. I have no excuse other that when I felt moved to share again, I began to fantasize that it might be easier to cheat and start a new blog.

Then, overwhelmed by the seemingly insurmountable task of doing so, I did nothing instead. I’ve got years of procrastination experience working for me here.

But I am writing and I am sharing it – and this is new for me, so I can’t have too many avenues to do it. It’s transformative. And so I’ve decided that for now, this is home. I appreciate the simplicity of what I’ve created and it feels natural to step back in and continue on.

And although this is only a small blog, frequented mostly by family and a slighter larger internet circle, there’s something profoundly significant in this minute decision. It demonstrates a marked difference in how I move through the world as an almost 30-year-old, a stark contrast my younger counterpart who could never transcend without burning bridges. I have started over, and over, and over in so many ways, so many times, thinking that it was easier.

I’m learning to mend. Learning, because the urge to sever ties, bail out, and leave things unfinished is still inside me. But here I am. Little bits, right?

So my commitment to you friends, is to post more and to edit less. And by edit, I mean both literally and figuratively. I’ve used a very narrow filter to sift through what is blog worthy, “safe,” and/or appropriate. The bottom line is, I just want to write. And relate.

Since we’ve last spoken, I’ve turned 29, lived through a burlesque performance, joined a feminist book club, taken two writing classes, read 41 books, adopted a second dog, and given roughly 600 massages. Whew!

Juicy, succulent, savory shares are coming! I can feel it. Thanks for holding space!

Hello!

My dear pal Kelly sent me this talk by one of my favorite Buddhist teachers last night, so I spent the morning absorbing it with my knitting and some chai tea and rice milk. (Side note: My computer chair is 100x better when you pile a quilt in it.) Allow me to present my favorite quote:

“What’s it mean if we have the power to end suffering in ourselves, but we’re too lazy to do the work? To me it means that the stream of greed and hatred and ignorance is strong. And that in this world, very very few people are willing to do the work to go against the stream, to go against greed and against hatred; against their own delusions and the delusions of these false promises of happiness through material gain. It’s so fucking disappointing when you get everything that you want, and it doesn’t work. It’s so great to get everything you want, and not be attached to it — and just enjoy it, knowing that everything is impermanent, subject to change.”

This is where the idea for my against the stream tattoo originated.

Noah has written two books, Dharma Punx: A Memoir, and Against the Steam: A Buddhist Manual for Spiritual Revolutionaries, and I highly recommend both. Dharma Punx was the first I read and the story is fantastic. He has a third book coming out on April 5th (which I’m preordering today!!) and will be in Seattle on a book tour April 26th. I couldn’t be more excited 😀

Spring is alive in my heart, despite the November-y weather. I bought green things earlier this year: strawberries en masse, spinach, Emerald Oakleaf lettuce (looks delicious), and peppermint in plant form, and snap peas, beets with good leaves for salads, slicing cucumbers, green leaf lettuce, cilantro, green onions, and cherry and heirloom rainbow blend tomatoes in seed form. For now, the plants are adjusting on the kitchen table and two huge bags of soil are thawing on towels near the heater. I’m anxious to get some fresh soil to our poor houseplants, who seem to be just as tired of the grey as we are.

Journaling and meditative-type activities have taken over some of my creative playtime, but I do have some simple knitting to share with you:

Likely a dishcloth. My goal for the year is still 52 Projects, which means that I’ll have a few weeks of multiple projects.

I’ve finished five books so far this year, some of them quite good. I’ve posted reviews on Facebook along the way. I have Ina May Gaskin’s newest being delivered this week, which I’ll likely devour in a night – hers were among the treasured few I held sacred when I handed off my massive midwifery library. I can’t wait!

BIRTHDAY PLANS: Tickets to see DEF LEPPARD and HEART at the White River Amphitheater in September have been purchased. Squealing and jealousy may commence.

XoXo, Brandi

PS: Don’t forget, everything in my Etsy shop is 20% off until midnight with code STPADDY11! :]

A Rant, and Updates.

I started reading Lady’s Hands, Lion’s Heart: A Midwife’s Saga last night, and the first chapter that opens with her personal birth story brought me to tears. Not more than 30 years ago, this woman who ached to birth in a way that honored her body and connected her to her child was left isolated, hot, and dehydrated; forced enemas, unnecessary shaving and cutting, and had her arms strapped down while she pushed (after she’d had the audacity to reach between her legs and feel her baby’s head coming down, helping to visualize the work she was doing and thus, ruining the “sterile field”); was wheeled down a hospital hallway on display while her baby was crowning, and finally suffered through her doctor’s comments about giving her the ol’ “husband’s stitch” (which left her numb in that spot for the rest of her life — thanks!) and calling her a breeder…so much ridiculousness that she signed herself and her infant out AMA a few hours after delivery and went on to become a wonderful homebirth midwife. And while my heart swells with pride and love remembering the births I had the supreme honor of attending, it aches with heaviness when I hear about the unnecessary interventions and brutal mistreatment that continue in hospitals even today. Birthing women are such a miraculous, powerful life force…it would just figure that the patriarchal society would have to figure out away to get that business “under control” somehow.

Once again, I’m reminded that I should go back through my journals and start putting together birth stories from my apprenticeship before the memories grow fuzzier than they already are…

Aside from my frustration over our country’s embarrassing infant mortality rate, and on a lighter note, I have actual updates for you! As usual, I find a comfortable niche and blog about it as if life has a set course for the next year or so, and the next time we meet everything has changed. Let’s start with projects, shall we?

First on the list – Project365. I got three solid weeks in of taking a daily photo and started having difficulty with my smart phone’s SD card, which which was also my primary photography tool. So, even though I have a perfectly lovely camera, albeit less convenient, I chose to flake out on the project. So there. But, T-Mobile being the awesome entity that they are, I not only got a brand spanking new phone free of charge, I got an upgrade! And the camera seems to be a bit better as well. Alas, out of excuses. I may start again when I have a nice beginning date to do so, say – perhaps March 1st. But don’t quote me.

Next, 52 Projects. I set a goal of completing at least one creative endeavor each week, give or take, meeting or exceeding a total of 52 by 2012. This project is going well. I have completed five projects to date and have another three or so that can be finished up relatively quickly.

  1. Upcycled gift tags: I recycled holiday cards into fancy gift tags for next year. Easy.
  2. Knitted red fingerless gloves: a set for myself from a mottled red-orange autumny yum yarn.
  3. Knitted yellow fingerless gloves: amazing mustard yellow. I experimented with the pattern a bit and made these elbow length. They didn’t turn out wholly as I intended, but playing with the design was good practice and I’ll wear them regardless.
  4. Tin shrine: I made a tiny shrine from a mint tin with 50’s ladies and sequins. Actually, I still feel like I want to add something to it, so I’m not sure whether I should list it as completed, yet…
  5. Knitted lavender fingerless gloves: same waffle-stitch pattern, lovely lavender yarn, for my pal Heather. (They’re in an envelope H, I just haven’t ventured out to the PO yet!)

Click me for pictures of said projects!

I have another dark purple pair of the fingerless gloves that just need the seam stitched up to be added to the list and also which indicate that I need to get my knitting books out and advance my skill set. I’ve made at least 5 pairs of these in the past two months. I did cast on a simple a scarf last night to work on in front of the TV as needed. And as instructed by a spiritual mentor friend, I’m working on a writing project – a letter to myself from six months into the future. ‘Tis fun.

My goal to read 50 books rolled over from last year (I made it to 20-something in 2010). I’ve finished two: The Help, by Kathryn Stockett, and The Confession, by John Grisham. The Help was great; highly, highly recommend. Can I just say how much I adore my Kindle? The absolute best part is sampling! If you want to try a book you’re not sure about, you can read the first few chapters for free and just click ‘Buy’ if you want to continue after that…so awesome!! The highlighting feature is handy as well. But, I digress. I started the midwifery book I mentioned at the beginning of the post, and am dabbling in subjects to improve my massage – Ayurveda, structural integration, and chronic pain relief. There’s a Buddhist book in there somewhere, too.

Now, for the fun news – I found and accepted a new and improved job! :] Although I really did enjoy working for both the school and chiropractic clinic, this is a single job focused solely on massage, which is what I went to school for and love to do. And the compensation is higher. And I’ll still have health benefits. And they have 401K matching. And vacation and sick pay. And I can trade or use my discount for a myriad of services. And it’s a super upscale and ritzy and FUN northwest spa! 😀 😀 😀

Thanks for reading, kiss kiss kiss, more very soon, I promise!

2011: Neatly Structured Creative Abandon

2010: Powerful.  Revealing.  Restorative.

I feel a peaceful satisfaction reflecting on the past year.  When I imagine stepping into a new year, I have a vision of slowly opening my palms to reveal a smoky curl lifting all that is unresolved over my shoulders and behind me.  Into the past.  I like it :]

If we let go, 2010 will fall behind us.  But some discoveries are worth saving for future reference.

Truths I’ll be tucking into my pockets for next year are:

Love.

When I eat simply and well, I feel calm, balanced, and nourished.

You will never regret taking a few minutes to spend time with your pets.

Massage is me, after all.  I had my doubts in those first six months post-grad.

Also on massage: after nearly two years of anatomy, ethics, countless technique classes, a 16-page business plan and hundreds of massage hours under your belt, you start to relax.  This is because you have no idea that the Universe is about to bring you a knee swollen to more than four times its original size, two women who recently lost their mothers and the mother of one-year-old who just became a widow (all of whom will cry on your table), your first very thin HIV-positive client, a sweet man who has inexplicable and worsening numbness in all of his limbs (and his doctors can’t tell him why), women who are unable to relax due to past trauma, and an uber-creepy (and stinky) guy you end up having to fire because you feel unsafe.  It has been humbling, to say the least.  But I’m learning how to embrace this very raw, human aspect of giving touch and I’m going to stick with it.

Anytime I’ve worked 40 or more hours a week, I’ve hated it.  I feel like a zombie, my immune system goes to shit, and I’m just generally unpleasant to be around.  So I’m not doing it anymore.  The school provides a cool 23 hours each week (plus benefits) and I have eight one-hour massage slots available at my clinic.  That’s enough.  My financial needs are met and I have ample time to play, which is important because…

My astoundingly imaginative, perceptive, and creative little child-soul thrives on the nourishment of my presence.  I’ll be lavishing attention on my artist this year.  She needs a lot of love and encouragement.

So that’s what I learned.  And because so often creative time comes last, when I’m tired enough to carry it over until the next day, and the next, and then the weekend, I’m going to schedule it this year. So today, January 1st, is Day 1 of two new endeavors: Project365 and 52 Crafts.

Project365 is a one photo a day for one year project. I attempted this last year and started slacking halfway through February. This year, I’m determined: I took eight photos before noon today (I’ll select just one to represent the day). I’ll create a folder on my Flickr account and post there, and possibly on Facebook and here as well, though not every day.

52 Crafts is a wonderful experiment in creative productivity that several forum pals are taking on as well. We’ll complete something creative every week for a year. Larger projects may be broken down into smaller ones. Writing counts for me, but blog entries won’t. I’ll have to post a short story or a few little poems to feel that it constitutes an honest completed project. If I do enough experimental cooking during a week, I may let that squeak by as well. But the real heart of this undertaking is keeping at it despite anything that may come your way this year. I, being ever-industrious, cheated a bit and started a few works this week…but they’ll be completed in 2011 :]

My reading count also started over today, and my goal is the same as last year — 50 books.  My new Kindle should help :]

Ok…I’m off to sip a hot rice milk latte from a handmade pottery mug and attempt the first closet clean-out of 2011. Happy New Year lovelies — thanks for reading!

Writing & Food

I’ve never actually finished NaNoWriMo, but that didn’t prevent me from signing up (year five) again last night.  I find that at the very least, it gets my brain working differently, and I’m far more inclined to keep up with my journaling and blogging in the aftermath.  And, I like the feeling of having some pressure to keep at something.  Last year’s November was spent hogging the good spot next to the fireplace at Tully’s, writing and rewriting my business plan (and sometimes playing Scrabble).

I’m also putting together some writing of a different kind – a vegan cookbook :]  Actually, the finished product will probably be more of a ‘zine, but I’m excited nonetheless.  I’m coming up on my fourth (fifth? I’ve lost track!) vegan-anniversary and my third month of a diet free from white flour and sugar.  With that come many questions.  The most common is “What do you eat?” which is quite silly unless your main food groups are meat, dairy, flour, and sugar.  There are plenty of other whole foods, herbs, and seasonings available to take on many delicious combinations :]  I hope to share some of these in my compilation, but for now, I’ll share some basics.  I eat three meals a day, every single day.  I sometimes include a small snack if I’m doing a lot of massages or I eat dinner earlier than usual.  My breakfast always includes fruit and protein: a banana or apple with some natural peanut butter, a smoothie (usually banana, frozen mango and pineapple, a little rice milk and a ¼ cup almonds), whole or sprouted grain toast with natural applesauce and cinnamon sprinkled on top, and sometimes oatmeal or a LaraBar.  Lunch and dinner vary depending on my mood and what’s leftover from the night before, and one such example is below.  It makes an excellent, easy dinner, doubles well, and keeps for several days, making it wonderful for leftovers and lunches.

Black Bean & Salsa Soup

4 cans of black beans (or soaked equivalent)

1 can of corn, drained

2 cups chunky salsa (mild to medium)

1 cup vegetable stock

1 each red, yellow, and green bell peppers, chopped

¼ cup finely chopped red onion

3-4 garlic cloves, minced

Sauté onion and garlic over medium heat until lightly browned/softened.  Combine all ingredients in a large stock pot/crock pot.  Once mixed, pour ½ the soup into a blender or food processor and blend thoroughly.  Return to pot and simmer over medium heat until ready to serve.  Serve with vegan cheese and sour cream, chives, jalapeños, black olives, diced tomatoes, and a slice of chunky whole grain bread for dipping.  Serves 6.

I typically pair a bowl of soup with a large salad of raw spinach, romaine, red and green leaf lettuces, and herbs.  The “toppings” depend on what I’m serving, but frequently include a combo of the following: artichokes, bell peppers, broccoli carrots, celery, cucumbers, green beans, legumes, olives, pickles, quinoa, seeds or nuts, sprouts, tomatoes, and other deliciousness.

I’ll post some pictures of my newly organized creative space after I’m finished tonight! :]

Fall

October!  Autumn!  Halloween!  Ahh, my very most favorite time of year :]  I am nearly giddy with excitement when October first rolls ‘round.  This year has had a very hectic feel to it and finally, the pace has begun to slow.  The days are shorter/cooler/darker, and I too, am slowing – putting myself to bed earlier, reading more, knitting again.  I’m listening to meditative talks to and from work, walking more, reflecting, quietly.  Embracing the fall.

Even the two-job juggle (which had the potential to be a mighty challenge) has fallen into an easy rhythm, and more often than not, I am quite content.  I began offering massage at a Magnolia neighborhood wellness center in Mid-July, and added administrative work for the massage school I graduated from in August.  They compliment one another beautifully, each posing unique challenges and keeping me on my toes.  I’m continually surprised at how bodywork feeds me creatively, essentially wiping the slate clean and leaving me rejuvenated and ready to look at projects with refreshed perspective.

And speaking of projects, there are many!!  I’m knitting my way through two fall scarves; a bold pumpkin orange n’ mossy green lady that needs only the ends woven in, and a simple gray fellow that I’ll add some fringe to (about half-finished).

Yes, my knitted things have genders and personalities.

I’m growing my inventory of reusable coffee sleeves, which now includes a supercute *mushroom* design, complete with vintage button polka-dots!  The Day of the Dead sleeves wiped out my stash of recycled sequins and reignited my love of sparkly things :]  I love working on these because once I have a picture in my mind’s eye, I pour through needlework books and look for different stitches to play with, and I end up learning something new on each one.  It’s astonishing what you can create with a needle and a piece of thread.  I’d like to branch out this weekend and create something similar on a larger scale, maybe a 4”x6” stitched design.

I have a small stack of skirts lined up at the sewing machine for repurposing and/or taking in, and I’m working on some spooky little zipper bags for my sisters that I hope to have finished and shipped in time for Halloween.  And by the way, how freaking easy is it to put a zipper in something?!  Why did I remember that being so darn miserable?  Now I just need to figure out how to use up another half yard of sparkly skull fabric.

And of course, there’s the Glitter Secret Snowflake swap!  My first year!!  My giftee has really fun interests and I think we’re similar in a lot of ways, so it shouldn’t be too difficult putting together a nice gift assortment for this person.  I have several ideas, one that involves branching out into arm warmers or fingerless gloves with my knitting, but I won’t post too much here.  I must conceal my identity until after the package has been received :]  However, there will be photos of whatever I conjure up come December!

Some of these (mainly coffee sleeves) are headed for Etsy, which is now my one and only venue for hawking vintage and handmade lovelies.  In keeping with my slowed and simplified fall theme, I’ve decided that one venue is enough to focus on, and quite frankly I prefer Etsy.  Ebay is just so crowded and ugly and overpriced these days, and I’ve had to do some re-prioritizing due to the new jobs.  So Etsy won.  Yay Etsy! :]  I’ve also decided to bring my attention to additional massage certifications and clinical experience, and give less energy to a private practice at this time.  I’ve got an abundance of work hours coming my way, projects galore, and likely, a move to a bigger space after the first of the year.  So a private practice (for now) has mostly fallen off my radar.  I’m still doing outcalls for friends and I’m sure one day this will be a goal again, but for now I’m really content where I’m at.  I’d like to sit here and breathe for a while :]

In other news, I cut my hair and starting reorganizing my creative space over the weekend.  Photos coming this week!

Vintage

June was a month of transition, and it seems July intends to carry on in similar spirit :]  Busy busy busy!

First, the interviews continue!  I’m probably being pickier than necessary, but I want a REALLY good fit.  Cheers to new experiences and new friends!

Now, allow me to draw your attention to the small green badge depicting a sewing machine to the right. It signifies my two month Wardrobe Refashion pledge that began on the 1st.  In short, I’ll be abstaining from the purchase of new, manufactured clothing for 60 days (perhaps longer). I have some pretty fabrics and older clothes that need attention and in addition, I’ll tell you a little secret…

I, my friends, have been a thrifting maniac as of late. It’s true. My pledge couldn’t have been more perfectly timed. Most recently, I came across this:

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I spent a good hour pouring over this little gem a night ago. I already have the Complete Guide To Needlework and after years of constant reference it has become invaluable, so I was delighted to add another of these beauties to my bookshelf. I also found this AMAZING quilting text that I am reluctantly listing in my eBay Store…I have to limit the number of books that make themselves cozy around here, otherwise they get out of hand! :]

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P7040003

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Isn’t it great? I love vintage quilts – each piece always has an amazing story behind it.  My hope is that another creative soul will put this treasure to good use!

I picked up this daisies pot (among others) at a sale a few weeks back and found the perfect companion for it at a plant sale yesterday: Sedum Oregon Stonecrop.

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The woman holding the plant sale had one of the most beautiful yards I have ever seen.  There were literally hundreds of different plants represented, it smelled amazing, and there were bees and butterflies everywhere (thinking they were in heaven, I’m sure).  Memories of playing in my Great-Grandma’s yard as a young girl flooded me.  Next time I’ll get permission to take a few photos.  I did some research on Stonecrop, as this is my first of this kind, and I learned a few things. She is a member of the Crassulacea family, and like many succulents, will flower in summer – yellow! Her leaves are edible (in moderation) and Makah women often used them for medicinal purposes. I also picked up a Creeping Jenny, which is typically an outdoor plant.  It doesn’t require full sun though, so I think it will do just lovely in my kitchen.  I do so enjoy welcoming new plants into the home – I can count 14 from where I’m sitting now alone :]

During my recent thrifting adventures, I also uncovered a stack of 50 or so old (and I mean old) postcards, loads of ’60s sewing patterns, a Frida poster, a like-new laptop bag for $7 (all of the new ones I’ve priced have been $60 and up), and yesterday, an original, working NES system with two controllers, a gun, The Legend of Zelda, The Adventure of Link (both gold cartridges) and three other games in original boxes with instructions and sleeves…for $20.  The hunt is 90% of the fun! :]

With all of the new treasures and in the spirit of balance, I’m destashing some of the old on both Etsy and eBay. Beads and jewelry findings are next – my collection is growing out of hand, and I’m ready to trade in for some new pretties :] For now, I’m off to spend a few hours with Lucille (my cherished vintage sewing machine).  I’ll return over the next few days with pictures of whatever I sew up with during my pledge!

Hugs!

-Brandi (veganfairy)