Sunday, February 12, 2017

The cycle

I can't turn the news off. I try to limit the time I spend deep in the news cycle but it's hard to resist. I feel we are witnessing history and years from now I don't want to say "oh, it was all too much so I just focused on cat videos and artisan cheeses." We are on the precipice of a massive civil rights movement and I want to be, no I need to be helping and engaged. But how?

Record numbers of refugees are coming into Manitoba now. People are walking across the border and declaring refugee status, during Canadian midwinter. They are desperate and end up walking for hours across prairie farmland. And sadly they are ill-prepared for cold and snow.

Manitobans are proud of their hardiness, and I suppose I'm not the only one with an overflowing drawer or cupboard of winter gear. So I cleared out my stash of mitts and scarves and toques and brought them to the Canadian Muslim Women's Institute. It wasn't much but it was a start. Everyone I met there was so welcoming and grateful, their sincerity was inspiring. As I was leaving I gave my gloves to a lady on the street. She was pulling one of those folding grocery carts and every so often she would stop to blow on her bare fingers. It was an easy decision before I got into my warm car.

Still I felt it wasn't enough. I mulled over the ways that I could help and, thinking about the two men who nearly lost all their fingers on a seven hour trek, I decided on mittens. I'm a fairly crafty lady and a pretty proficient knitter and crocheter, it should be a perfect fit. At first I thought I could crank out one mitten a day, but two weeks in I'm just starting my fifth pair. They are coming along faster the more I make them.

It still isn't enough, but I feel useful. I'm trying to motivate friends to get involved. I'm looking for more opportunities to be involved on the local level. There's talk of a crafting class at the Muslim Women's Institute and I'd like to be evolved with helping teach crochet.

I saw a tweet the other day that really got me thinking. It said "Remember sitting in history class thinking" if I were alive then, I would've... " You're alive now, whatever you're doing is what you would have done." It's some good advice.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Tears and Inspiration

Tears of sadness, tears of anger, tears of joy. These past few days, I just keep crying. At work, in public washrooms, hiding in a stairwell or marching down Portage Avenue - these tears keep erupting. I don't remember such a wellspring of emotions over something political.

I'm at such a loss how people things so differently. Why doesn't everyone understand that we are all one? That we are stronger together? That our diversity should be embraced? Why do some people see it so clearly while others are so blind?

Sometimes I'm overwhelmed by my emotions, I've felt such sorrow and fear and even joy that I have to admit it's  been a struggle to keep it together. Yesterday it felt as if the rug was pulled out from under me. When my husband came home from work mid-morning, he found me crying on the couch; aghast from the news on TV. I felt sick to my stomach and had a pounding headache. I just wanted to lay on the couch and cry all afternoon.

And I did, for a while.  Then my niece asked if I was going to go and watch her curl. She is just learning to curl and I usually go to encourage her interest. I didn't want to go, I hemmed and hawed with myself. I hated to disappoint her but I was a mess. My ever so wise hubby suggested that she and her dad stop by our house on their way home.

Visiting with a ten year old bundle of light was just the medicine I needed. She and I have a special relationship, we are growing closer all the time. I'm enjoying watching her grow up and I hope that I can always be a safe person for her. Sitting side by side with her last night gave me strength. She is my inspiration and I'm fairly certain I'm going to need some for the next four years.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Four Squares

It's been a busy few days, and the daily tasks pile up like the wash that is finally resting in my dryer. I've just felt so tired lately. I suppose it's just the midwinter blues, but it's really taking it's toll. The daylight is stretching out and the sunsets are getting just a little more glorious.

Tonight I was more than spent, much too tired for a Tuesday, but after supper and the laundry I had one more task.  Despite my best intentions I had fallen behind on my granny squares and those 4" by 4" blocks weighed heavy. So I set my mind to it and got lost for a while in my bag of yarn. Different colours and textures combining to make one and someday all those individuals will be joined together to form one. It's going to be beautiful, what a treat it will be to sleep under that blanket.

Although my afghan is a long ways away, finishing those four squares means I free to climb under the covers.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Yes I can.

They say that the lesson we need to be learning is right in front of us. Something has been circling me and I know the lesson is there, but I can't seem to learn it. It's been an ongoing problem, one I struggle with just about everyday. It's draining. I love my job, I love my bosses, it's a great gig. Except for one thing.

There are twelve employees at my work place and ten of us are women. We range in age from 19 to mid - seventies, an eclectic mix. For all our differences, one stands out the loudest to me. It's a phrase I hear every day from at least one of them, "I can't".

It comes up again and again, about the simplest things. I can't do that. I can't use that. 

An arbitrary "I can't".

An unwillingness to learn, or to even try.

And worse than the "I can't"s is the "I won't"s. The bitter refusal of the smallest requests. 

But here's the rub, I know that I used to be that person! I see my old self in them so clearly, but now I am here in a different mindset. I've come a long way. I try to be patient. I've even tried some pep talks - they were ill received, by the way. So what can I do? I try to stay above the fray. It's hard, sometimes I get sucked down into their crab pot, but for the most part I try to model by example. I've been there, I've felt that blind anger and frustration. I don't know what will awaken them.

The other night my husband and I were watching The Last Waltz and these lyrics really resonated with me...

"Standing next to me in this lonely crowd
Is a man who swears he’s not to blame
All day long I hear him shout so loud
Crying out that he was framed.
I see my light come shining
From the west unto the east
Any day now, any day now
I shall be released."

Sunday, January 08, 2017

My Buddy, the crow

In the morning when I hear him caw, I stop what I'm doing to offer him food. It's an interesting bond I've got with this crow. I've long ago stopped caring about what the neighbours think when they see me in my pink robe tossing food out and calling "Hey Buddy! Hey Buddy?"

Today it was a handful of cat food tossed on the snow pile. Yesterday there were some peanuts mixed in with the kibble. I was curious which he preferred, but he gobbled both up happily. My Buddy usually calls his friend to come and join him. I call this crow, Buddy's buddy - or BB for short. BB is the shyer of the two; he is more likely to fly away to the safety of the birch when startled. Buddy is a brave bird and will even strut around my yard while I'm on the front steps.

I've been cultivating this friendship with the crows for about a year now. There used to be three birds, one of whom was a fledgling. I think that Buddy was that fledgling and has grown up with me feeding him. It makes my heart soar when I call for him and he shows up moments later. I tell him that he is a pretty bird, a smart bird and a brave bird. I'm hoping he will bring his offspring to my yard this spring, what a treat that will be.

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Winter

The days are getting longer, and it's finally becoming noticeable. At 5:30 the sky still glowed deep blue as Venus winked good evening through my kitchen window. The dark days of December are behind us, only to be replaced by January's arctic blast. Once we get through this deep freeze I can start the cottage countdown.

I'm not quite done with winter yet, there's plenty of outdoor things I'm wanting to do - ice fishing, snowmobiling and some long walks on the river trail. When you live this far north you better find some activities to keep you busy during the winter. I haven't done much snowmobiling, but I'm eager to try. I like the idea of being out in the woods, whisking down a moonlit path to a waiting bonfire - loud snow machines be dammed.

I don't spend enough time outside in winter, not as much as my soul prefers. It's hard to do when Winnipeg is colder than the North Pole. No wonder I'm going to be counting down the days until cottage season begins...

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Afghan progress, day three.

I like the way my granny square project is shaping up. I have a large drawer full of bits and pieces of yarn, most of them rolled neatly, all leftovers from projects gone by. If you're an avid crocheter/knitter it's a handy stash to have, you never know when you might need just a smidge of pink, or a bit of blue. The problem is that your stash of scraps is always expanding. So when the idea of a square a day was presented to me, I seized it. Granny squares can use up even the smallest of scraps.

Today I decided to bring up all my little balls of yarn and put them into one of my folding craft bags. The plan is to reach into the bag and choose a ball of yarn 'blindly'. Yesterday I caught myself postponing crocheting my square because I wanted a particular colour that was in the basement. Choosing the colour randomly eliminates that avenue of procrastination. As an added bonus, I've already caught myself reminiscing about the scraps. I remember the pink was leftover from a baby blanket I made for a friend, over six years ago! How time flies, but that yarn brings me right back to baby Violet. As I reached in for the third time I wondered what colour would be next, the anticipation adding a bit of fun. Sorry to say I could have gone without the clashing blue that followed, but such is life. Some memories, some mysteries and some misses.