Mr, Cupcake at Craters of the Moon

Mr, Cupcake at Craters of the Moon
Mr. Cupcake at Craters of the Moon

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

a bit of news from the USCIS

My immigration has been approved. Now I wait for the package (in the next 30 days) with instructions for the interview and health check in Vancouver. Assuming all is well, we are given to understand that things happen quickly, so then it's just a matter of issuing my green card. Then Dan books a plane ticket, we have a party, and then drive across the continent. No idea of a timeline at this point, but fingers crossed it will be smooth and swift!

Friday, May 18, 2012

transplanting basil at Providence Farm

On any given day there are probably at least a hundred people there. There are no name tags, there is no clear distinction between who is staff, who are the volunteers, and who are the program participants. Today I learned that that some of the participants come to Providence Farm as a part of their rehab from alcohol or drugs. Others have developmental or mental disabilities. Some are seniors.

When we all join together for morning coffee or for lunch, you never know who you'll sit at the table with. Hello, my name is so-and-so. New faces are immediately identified. "What brings you to Providence Farm?" "How long have you been coming here?" It is so welcoming and loving and non-judgmental. Today I was joined by a young couple with their four-month old baby who were just doing a tour of the Farm. I was finished my lunch first, so I offered to hold baby Henry so his dad could eat his burger with two hands. I could not have predicted I would hold a baby today.

It's an interesting thing, being in an environment where you encounter people from different walks of life. It is a great teaching of radical acceptance, and when we are all on this same level ground, there is only room for love. I think I mentioned before that I have felt like I was 'hugged' by the Farm. Today, while I was transplanting basil for the greenhouse, I felt overwhelmed by the feeling of love that the Farm exudes, and I was mindful of what an awesome (and I mean 'awesome' not in the contemporary diluted sense, but the former meaning of feeling awe) feeling that was. There have not been many places in this world where I have felt that.

That's one of the things I like about Providence Farm, you check your prejudices at the door, everyone is accepted, everyone is respected. We all have gifts to offer and roles to play. I spent most of my time today transplanting baby basil plants into bigger pots, but really I was there engaging with community. Sometimes simply being present is all that is required.

Everyone we meet has something to teach us. The baby I held today taught me that it's okay to spend ten minutes bouncing for the sheer delight of someone else. The recovering addict taught me that we can always improve ourselves no matter what is going on in our lives. The First Nations lady I spoke to today taught me that family is important. The silent man with Downs Syndrome who followed me around for four hours today taught me that - what? I don't know. It was mildly flattering. He did not say a word today, and maybe that was the lesson. It's okay to be silent. In the space that that silence takes up, my own healing happens.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

spinning at Providence Farm

On the second Monday of every month, a few spinners gather at St. Ann's Garden house at Providence Farm to spin up the roving from the Farm's sheep. That yarn then gets knitted, crocheted or woven into items that are sold at the Farm's store. All this work is done by volunteers.

I was the first to arrive at my first spinning day, so I had the use of the spinning wheel that lives in St. Ann's. I spun up one bobbin of wool, then passed it on to another lady. There were seven people and only three wheels, so we took turns. There was also a bit of knitting. It made me really wish I had my own wheel. Here are the the wheels that were there:





I learned to spin when I was living in Ucluelet, attending Stitch Night at Knits by the Sea in Tofino. One of the regulars, Carol, decided it was time I learned to spin so she brought in her wheel and taught me. One of the other local gals (I am embarrassed to say I can't remember her name) also brought her wheel into the shop for me to use. I think I was still working at the shop at the time, my memory is a bit hazy. At any rate, I learned to spin and ply and I have wished I had my own wheel ever since.

One day, it will happen. I'm sure I'll be able to come by a spinning wheel in North Carolina. 

Saturday, May 12, 2012

How low do I have to get?

I thought I had already hit bottom. Lately the phrase "things will get worse before they get better" has been hanging around me. I don't want to be a person who mopes all the time. I want to be happy, optimistic, and have faith that the Universe will take care of me.

I have many reasons to be happy. I am living with loving friends, my cat is happy, spring is in full swing and on the verge of summer. Going for walks brings wonderful fresh air with intoxicating blossom scents. The heat of the day warms the wood resins to bring out that woody smell I love so much. I started volunteering at Providence Farm this week past and that has caused me to think more deeply about where I'm at right now, as I have been asked a number of times "what kind of work would you like to do?" and "how long have you lived in Cowichan Bay?" I have so many stories to tell and I really enjoy meeting new people. I try to tell my story in a way that does not evoke pity because honestly, I don't want pity. Everyone empathizes of course, and they tell me it must be hard.

I have to remind myself that this separation from my husband is not permanent. It's not like he has gone off to fight a war from which he may never return. It's not like we can't communicate. On the whole, all things considered, we are managing pretty well despite the three hour time difference.

The latest news is that we'll have our next Notice of Action in 30-45 business days, which will land between mid-June and early July. And that could mean anything - rejection, approval, a request for more information. So now we're looking at July at the earliest that I will be with Dan. July. At the earliest. That is hard to swallow. We felt a small sense of hope when we had correspondence from the Senator, but all he has managed to do for us is find out that we are again further delayed in the system more than we thought.

For a while I noticed that my feelings of sadness fell into cycles, the worst of it often, naturally, around the time of my period. Once I identified that it became easier to deal with. I'd have a feeling of sadness - feeling particularly low - about once a week.

Lately it has been more frequent and intense. A female family member strongly encouraged me to seek medical help, offered to drive me to my doctor, and really feels like I should be on anti-depressants. Well, no. No thank you. I have been on anti-depressants and they messed me up far more than the depression itself did. And what I am experiencing can be cured by the arrival of my green card and husband - I don't want chemicals to numb my senses.

Crying takes a lot out of me, so I've been really tired a lot lately. I put my game face on and I'm perhaps quieter than usual. Something good will come of this. I have to think of this time as the rain before the rainbow that leads to the pot of gold. And I suspect that the reason these sad feelings have been getting bigger and more frequent is because we're coming up to one year since Dan left for North Carolina. One year. We certainly didn't expect it would take this long. Gosh, I sure hope I get there before the fall!

Every so often Judith, who has been waiting for years for her immigration, reminds me to not to expect anything from the USCIS, because the green card is this ethereal thing that you can't count on until it is tangibly in your hands (I'm paraphrasing). I guess the trouble is that when we ask when we can expect something, we are given an answer and then it turns out to be much longer than they said. Or the rules change and there is a new step.

Still. Something good will come of this. We will get through it and start our adventures all over again, together.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

knitterly abundance

In the past few months, I have experienced some of the abundance the Universe has to offer. Some lovely things came my way.

Natalie from the Cloudy With a Chance of Fiber podcast (@cloudynatknit) asked us during a #knitchat on Twitter one day if anyone was knitting a sweater. I mentioned I would be but I can't afford a sweater's worth of yarn. She PMd me and said "what colors do you like?" and the next thing I know I get this box in the post.


Enough yarn for a sweater and then whatever else Natalie could fit into the box. Yarn for a hat. Some of her handspun. Plenty to keep me busy!

Not long after that, Ursa, my long time friend of 17 years and host of The Pagan Knitter podcast (@ThePaganKnitter), and formerly the dyer behind Gaia's Colours Fibre Arts, took me out for a birthday lunch. She said she was getting rid of yarn that didn't sell when she was shutting down her dye studio, would I be interested in going through it? UM YES.


So here we have an abundance of sock and lace weight yarn, a few bags of undyed roving that I will find a spinning wheel to work with, and then a few bags of tangled skeins. There will be lots of socks and shawls in my future...

Then one day I was on Twitter musing about knitted underwear or bras or something. My longtime reader and follower/friend @FelicityGS mentioned she had a book on knitted underwear, that she would send it to me.


When Brooke found out it was also my birthday, she delayed in sending the book a bit because she decided to knit me a present! She blogged about it here.



I think I can say with certainty that this is the finest thing anyone has ever made for me. It is lace, thousands of yards of yarn, I can't imagine how many hours it took (100+ I expect), and in three skeins of Malabrigo no less. So to Brooke I offer my infinite gratitude for such a beautiful piece! I wear it a lot (since it still gets cool at night) and will cherish this for as long as I live! I should point out that Brooke is in the category of "friend I haven't met yet", but one day we'll hang out, possibly at some fiber festival in the eastern United States...

In early in March Louse (@CaithnessCraft) of the Caithness Craft Collective podcast declared that we were having a fiber postcard swap, and that if we wanted to be included to send her a message and she would pair us up with buddy to swap with. The idea was that we would make a postcard and it didn't matter how fancy or simple, or even what kind of fiber, just that we make something. Well sure enough Louse paired me up with Judith (@elvetje), another "friend I haven't met yet" (so is Natalie, above, by the way), who is also waiting for immigration to the United States (but she has been waiting for years and she is in the Netherlands). The postcard I made for Judith was a poem I wrote and the state of Texas made from ribbon, stitched to a paper card. It's quite pedestrian compared to what Judith sent me and therefore I don't picture it here.


A stranded colour knitted matryoshka of me and Dan, ribbons and a card! 

On the back this is "To:    " and then Judith's depiction of me, yarnsalad. I love it!

Wait! There's more!

Now my memory is a bit fuzzy on this one, but at some point I asked LouiseJHunt, who lives in northern Scotland, about woad - dyeing with woad or woad-coloured yarn. This happened when I was still living in Ucluelet, I think, which was almost a year ago now. After a bit of information-finding, it turned out that you can't send woad (a plant used for dyeing things blue) to Canada or the United States. Something about botanical content, I bet. At any rate, Louise offered to dye up some yarn for me and send it. I delayed in having her sending it to me because I thought I would be moving soon. That was in September. When she was offering to make leather bookmarks for her lovely listeners, I took her up on it and she sent me this yarn as well.

437 yards of 80%baby suri alpaca and 20% fine merino in lace weight. It's beautiful!

So there you have it. I've been meaning to put this post up for a long time, and it's been more than a month now since I have received all this knitterly abundance. Here I offer up my thanks to all those mentioned here who have contributed to my habit, helped me to feel loved, and have shown me that the Universe is a place of abundance. Thank you, my dear friends!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Daily thankfuls

Years ago I had a spiritual teacher who told me about a little nightly ritual she did for herself as a small form of worship. It is, quite simply, just going through the events of your day just before bed and thinking about all the things you have to be thankful for. I don't recall if she had a name for it but I have always referred to it as my daily thankfuls.

In these months that I have been here in Cowichan Bay at the Backyard Feast retreat center, I certainly have a lot to be thankful for. No matter where I am, I always say to myself I am thankful for the roof over my head, the food in my belly, for clean air and safe drinking water. These are things that we may take for granted but I am certainly aware that not everyone in the world has these things. I am thankful for my friends Toni and the Skipper for taking me in like this (I thank the heavens for them every night). I am thankful for the healing chickens (just watching them inspires love, it is amazing how pure and powerful that feeling is). I am thankful for all the learning I am doing right now about gardening, livestock, food experiments, baking bread and pizza.

I am also thankful for my husband. It was five years ago today that he proposed. We did not make a big production out of it, we had only been together for a month at that point, but we both knew that we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together. I remember Dan had told himself that he was going to wait until we had had our first fight (and recovered from it) before he would propose, but if he had held to that we would still be waiting. (Sure we have had disagreements, and even been mad at each other, but we love and respect each other so much that our conflicts are easily smoothed over). It turned out that we had a mildly stressful evening, and Dan must have decided he didn't want to wait, that the time was right to ask me.

No one believed us at first. I had gone through several romantic entanglements that seemed promising at first but none of them amounted to anything. Here I must admit I had a penchant for drama in my relationships (if that is still true, I am denying it:-)), so it was no surprise to me that no one really believed us. But then we moved in together (I had never lived with a boyfriend before). We took a road trip to Alberta for Dan to meet my sister and her family. It was a year later that we had our first wedding ceremony (first of two - one was the public ceremony officiated by friends, the second was the legal ceremony with the marriage commissioner). So when people ask how long we've been married, we usually say "we were married when we met".

Working my way back from that unintended digression, let me now tell you about my nightly thankful routine. I settle into bed, Sam arranges herself nearby. In my mind I cast a circle of protection around my space, with the intention of wanting to be free from negativity as I sleep. I ask for a peaceful and restful slumber. I list what/who I am thankful for. Then I make my nightly wishes, the first always being I wish to be reunited with my husband. It's not a long list, usually, because really all that I want is to be in North Carolina with Dan and my green card (and kitty too, of course).

And sometimes I don't even make it that far into this nightly ritual - sometimes I fall asleep before I get to the end. I'm okay with that; it's a good thing. I am someone who used to resist sleep, and it used to take me an hour and a half or more to fall asleep. Once I got together with Dan and adjusted to the snoring (we won't say whose), sleep came much more easily. I am thankful for that too. :-)