Would I let me?

March 20, 2021

If I was to put my head down here awhile and cry, would you sit quiet and just let me? If I was to tell you that my back hurts and my elbows are painful – would you just sit quiet and not offer any exercise or supplement advice? If I tell you my stomach hurts, my intestines sting, my bladder is overactive – would you just listen and not lecture me on what I am doing wrong, what I should be doing, what I should be checking? If I tell you I just feel depressed and weighted – would you nod, keep sewing your quilt and just allow me to express it – give no advice, just be? Not tell me to go to the doctor – because you understand that my body has been through some things that has made any doctor’s visit make me feel ill, embarrassed? Would you not ask why again, and just hold that? Would you just say amazing if I were to share that I am letting my body just age as it does, that I accept that it is entering the last third? The last quarter? 

Would you accept that I just feel low sometimes – and that’s OK? Would you let me complain and whine and just pour me another cup and just go back to threading your needle with that new colour? Would you listen in silence as I rant about being battered down by work, not because it is over-busy but because I feel uninspired and can’t focus? Would you allow me to mix my metaphors? Listen as I whine about feeling like my optic nerves have clamps on them when I stare at the work laptop and that I feel like I need to put a lid on the myself constantly? Like I am not fully me? But that there are tiny glimpses of radiant light that keep me going? Would you allow me to complain without reminding me to be grateful? Would you allow me to pout?

To despair that my energy for my project is low? That I fear I can’t write, I can’t draw and that I am irrelevant?

Would you put your sewing down for a second and reach out and pat my hand, and smile with silent acceptance? Bring me shortbread and check that my coffee is hot? Look around the apartment and smile – knowing all is well. You don’t need to remind me of that because you know I already know this and that ranting is OK. That I just need to without judgment, without advice, without making me feel like me aging, me aching, that if I got sick would be all my fault – that I would make everyone else feel bad as a result? 

You would just let me rant until I lay my head down again and cried – and you wouldn’t try to fix – just let me cry. Knowing I don’t owe you, or you, or you, or you, or you, or you, or even me, anything. Nothing. I can be expanding, decaying, aching, despairing as much as I need to. It doesn’t matter. None of it does. You would just keep sewing. A gentle smile on your face. Look out and smile at the cairn terrier walking in the lane. At the geese honking on the roof top. At the cat walking across the road, at the raccoon scuttling, avoiding the crows. At the blossoms. The wind. And I would just blubber till I’m done. Done. And we’d both quietly sew, with achy fingers. In gratitude.

 

Incident Report: February 22, 1954

Intake photos of Patient S.K., (left), J.O. (right)

February 22, 1954

DETAILED ATTENDANT’S REPORT ON UNUSUAL OCCURRENCES (Accidents, Assaults, Escapes, Etc.)

Report on the Accident of Reg. No. 26, [—]

Date of Occurrence 22/2/54

Time 12:40 PM

Place West Lawn Dining Room

Details Patients J.O. [right] and S.K [left] fighting on entering dining room. S.K. received his dinner then threw plate and contents at J.O.

Result Patient J.O. received cut on forehead.

Action taken Sent J.O. to West Lawn surgery with Nurse Anderson. Wound cleaned and dressed by Mr. Strong and patient returned to ward and seen by Dr. Karabanow.

Signed W. Emerton

Witness R. Anderson

Creative non-fiction

Medium: pencil crayon, ink, coffee, watercolour on drawing paper

New journal necessary today

February 10, 2021

New journal necessary today – it was a big day of BIG communication and BIG advocacy for my youth.

February 11, 2021

Another big day of honest communication. I am tired, but light.

February 13, 2021

Gift of a long weekend and snow. The week ended well and I had a personal breakthrough.

February 15, 2021

What if the thing I am trying to figure out doesn’t need to be figured out at all? What if I release it all fully? There is no need to reach out to… to talk it out with… No need to feel embarrassed about… Not need to figure out my relationship with… No need to worry about work. No need to change how I approach it. No need to apologize. No need to reach out to anyone.

Just be.

Take a pause.

Take all the time I need.

LET IT ALL GO.

What if it all ended right now? What would any of the above accomplish? People have their own lives. Me, just being me, in all my clumsy ways trying to figure out things, is just about wanting to control so that I don’t make anyone feel bad. Why not LET GO OF IT ALL?

No need today to produce, draw, write, craft, prep, or even focus. No need to ignore. No need to pay attention.

What if the way I am being in this world – as I am now – is actually fine?

Can I recede?

Can I not?

Can I stop trying to question whether I should or not?

Instead of looking for absolute answers to feel comfortable, we can embrace the mysterious. When we think about what the embodiments of others must be like, feel like, look like from their perspectives, we can never know… Feeling one’s isolation and separation despite networks of agency can be a beautiful thing: profound. – Sabrina Scott witchbody, 2019

Dead mouse (Stanley Park)

Rest In Peace little mouse, spotted on the side of the road in Stanley Park the other day.

Media: locally made natural ingredient watercolours (by Caitlin ffrench), Sargent watercolour crayons, coffee, salt on paper

My personal Covid Crafting Therapy

“Covid Crafting Therapy” is my ongoing personal process for relaxation, a type of journaling, a type of meditation. Every stitch a thought. It’s different from drawing, painting, writing. I’m not trying to find the style, the form, the character. I’m not trying find the perfect color, the perfect brush stroke. The perfect narrative. Crafting just… is.

The Little My Pillow

 

 

 

Little My, character from the Moomin stories by Tove Jansson, is a personal obsession. I draw her continuously. I aspire to be like her, though, according to all the Moomin personality quizzes I have taken, I am Snufkin.

I love drawing on cloth or layers of paper and embroidering along the lines. No end product in mind. No rush. Just a place to land those thoughts. This project (using an old tablecloth as canvas) has become a pillow. (still in progress)

The Covid Quilt


 

 

Sock Monkeys

Letters from St. Kevin

This all started because of a family Vacation Summer 1982 with my Dad, Mom, little brother. I am 20 at the time.

The route:

  • Nanaimo
  • Campbell River
  • Port Hardy
  • Prince Rupert
  • Hazelton
  • K’san
  • Smithers
  • Houston
  • Burns Lake
  • Fort St. James
  • Prince George
  • Quesnel
  • Williams Lake
  • 108 Ranch
  • 100 Mile House
  • Cache Creek
  • Kamloops
  • Vernon
  • Kelowna
  • Summerland
  • Penticton

On a visit to South Hazelton on August 23 1982, we met William (Bill) Rea, age 75. I think the family and I had parked the car and gone to a cafe. When we were walking back to the car, we stopped to admire a quaint little house decorated with leprechaun paintings and its yard filled with treasures. My brother and I may have come across a little white kitten:

 

 

That’s when Bill stepped out and started up a conversation. We chatted with Bill for a long time.

 

 

He gave us vegetables from his garden.

 

 

He ended up suggesting that I move in with him and if I did, he’d buy me a “new” (i.e. refurbished) washing machine! My mom commented later on how beautiful Bill’s skin was (“like a peach”).

Bill was a local treasure and he would dress up annually as St. Kevin and walk about the town.

 

 

I am so thankful for my Dad who captured the visit.

Bill and I began a correspondence and these are some of his charming letters:

 

 

December 16, 1983:

Dear Miss Katarina

So nice to have got your letter for last Xmas, 1982. Did you guess who sent you the flowers from the 14th Feb last with a note from faraway places, over the HILL? I am sending you the same plus some interest on what you sent me last Xmas. I hope to hear or see you sometime, next year, or the next.

I sure had a nice day on St. Patrick’s Day. Maybe one day you would like to be St. Alena and come around with me, and have a grand day out to visit my friends.

Will as ever, Bill

See you

I sure hope you like my story:

 

Extra little envelope inside:

To St. Alena From You Know Who (St. Kevin):

Last year I pulled a piece of bone out of my foot with my Vice Grips. It was in my foot for 11 weeks and 4 days. What pain for all that timeAlso, I sent a lady flowers and a pot of gold (chocolates) for her return overseas.

 

 

February 7, 1984:

Hello Katarina

I am sure glad you still remember me! I have lots of stories to tell you, but I am not much good at putting them on paper. I like to tell them to others, so I guess you will have more fun out of the them one day when we meet. I was in Smithers 2-2-84 to do my banking etc. I went into the Florists to send you some flowers. I could not make up my mind what kind you would like for Valentine’s Day so I thought to myself, Katarina won’t mind if I send her the cash, so I got you a cheque at the Royal Bank so you can go with your mom to the florists and pick out some kind of plant you would like and maybe there will be something over and you two can have a pot of TEA on me, sure, that would be nice. I gave your love to our cat and the cat said to me, “don’t forget to send Katarina our love, Bill.”

So, with lots of love from the two of us up here

As ever, Bill

In a few weeks when you get time let me know what you got for Valentine’s Day. Oh yes, give my love to the Deer. She is beautiful.

Bye for now, Bill

I enclose some mint. Sure is nice.

 

April 12, 1984

Hellow St. Alena

I am sure glad that my Valentine’s present made you feel much better? If you and your mom and friends call on me in May or some other time, try to let me know ahead of time and about the day. I have no time for a phone in my cabin. I may be away working on one of my other houses or in Smithers or Terrace and would not wish to miss you.

I am sending you a Birthday Present. It is not a lot, but I think you will like it? I have a feeling you will. If you folks have a day or two you would like to spend around the Hazeltons, there is quiet motel, and trailer, camper and camping, lots of room, or if you are camping there is lots of room down by the river, quiet as you wish. Why the hotel is so quiet, they moved Highway 16 over now the folks there can’t sell the place. What a shame. Nice place. I will foot the BILL in full for the FOUR of you up to two days or 48 hours, wherever you stay, if you have time to spare.

So St. Alena can put it down to the other part of her birthday present, that might give you a chance to do a painting. Sorry, can’t go into more about your letter now. We can talk later. I will be going to Smithers within the hour. The time is 6AM now. Why I am always on the go I don’t know, and don’t seem to get much done.

David Livingstone. Have you read about the great Doctor Livingstone? Born 1813. Near Glasgow, Scotland. He nearly failed his final examination through his stubborn belief in the stethoscope, a new invention, then held in contempt by most medical men. But he scraped through. Well, I must get cracking or you won’t get your birthday present, my sweet.

By the way, I call the kitten, Kitty.

So lots of love from St. Kevin and Kitty.

PS. I put your paintings over the arch in my Rest Room. Bye for now, Bill,

PSS. I have friends 10 miles out of New Hazelton and they have their own private plane and they are home. Plus if you have time, they will take you up and show you around. Looks wonderful with all the lakes.

Bye now. B.

 

November 4, 1984:

My Dearest little friend

Many thanks for all your good NEWS.

Will be nice for you when you have your own home, family, and car. I enclose a small present for you so you can have some nice tea when you have a party or shower. You know the tea you like, Earl Grey Tea.

I’m going to upgrade where I live in New Hazelton, then if all goes well, I am going to work on my new house in South Hazelton so when you are up this way again and if you want to find me, ask at the Post Office in SOUTH Hazelton. My place in South Hazelton has 7 acres of land and sits outside of town facing west-north on the side of the hill with view for miles only of great river, mountains and trees.

Lots of good wishes, from Bill Rea

Don’t forget to, when you get time, to SEND ME ALL YOUR NEWS.

I sent you two presents for when you got back from Stockholm on the 5 Aug 1984, one of flowers and the other one a Box of Rain Chocolates, or as it says on the Box, POT OF GOLD.

I was wondering if you got them as you always let me know when I send you presents. If you got them, don’t let me know as I will take it that you did. If you did NOT get the presents I sent to, let me know and I will try to find out who got them.

All the Best,

Bill

 

Christmas 1984:

Merry Christmas

A good year to you all in 1985

From Faraway Places

DRINKS ON ME FOLKS

My nest in the West

HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL. 

 

Christmas 1985:

Merry Xmas

I send to my friends far away.

From the lights of my home in New Hazelton.

Do you like the lights on my Xmas tree? It was 3’8” when planted. Now 43’ something tall. I put lights on the tree when it was about 12’ tall and it just keeps taking them up. There is [sic] no lights within 12’ from the ground. Good thing they told me when I got them, they would last 100 YEARS for the branches are now so close together no one could climb up there to change the bulbs. All the lights go on and off in turn then they all go off for 2 minutes, then they all try to play some sort of guessing game to see who can come on first or stay on the longest, then after about 10 minutes of playing that game, they all go out, then start it all over again. The Big light in the front of my house is the shamrock. It has a game going on its own. It is nice and green, not like in the picture.

Well, I may see someone when walking one day?

From UP North

Home where in the west

I build a Little Nest,

A place that known to God alone.

We will be the nest of the world.

So Bye

BILL

Related:

Entering the New Year with I Am’s and I Release’s

Recycled an old composition book I found in my paper box. Covered it with an old water-colour drawing created earlier this year when the first Covid lockdown made me eager to read Watership Down for some reason.

 

 

I RELEASE:

  • My saudade
  • My fears
  • The fear that I will lose control over my project if I collaborate
  • Attachment to the past
  • The need to NOT forget all the details of my life
  • Trivial relationships
  • Trauma
  • The need to please

I AM:

  • Present
  • Protected
  • Limitless
  • Achieving my full potential
  • Wealthy
  • Complete
  • Honest
  • Serene
  • A writer
  • Powerful
  • Beautiful
  • Alive!

 

 

I AM THANKFUL FOR:

  • Essential workers (on the frontlines in hospitals, in care homes, the care givers, the care partners, first responders, shelters, support staff, teachers, researchers, grocery store staff, retail shops, coffee shops, the delivery folk, the post office, maintenance crews, garbage trucks, ecologists, those who work with animals, those who foster and adopt, donors, volunteers, activists, journalism, the internet, Zoom… etc etc etc etc. THANK YOU)
  • Masks and soap
  • Employment
  • Home
  • Family
  • Nature
  • Time

 

 

PS. In 2021: eat more fruits and veggies, take more steps, bring in more plants

Journal entry December 1, 2020: I Can’t Write Right

When I can’t write, when I don’t feel right, I feel the black ink of angst/depression well up in my brain. And I pace around and around in there, first splashing in the black ink, then wading in it, then swimming, then oh oh – am I drowning?

Ok, ok. Slow down. Use the ink. Practice what you preach, and pull out the journal. Writing is simply mark making. Make some marks tonight. That’s enough. Quiet the brain.

(Ink, water-colour and coffee doodle inspired by young Princess Margaret in The Crown.)

Any story we write or picture we make cannot demonstrate its worth until we write or draw it. The physical act of writing or drawing is what brings the inspiration about. Worrying about its worth and value to others before it exists can keep us immobilized forever. – Lynda Barry

My first diary…

My first diary… a gift on my 6th birthday on April 13, 1968 in Grums, Sweden.

I remember feeling so secretive when I sketched and wrote in the pages.

On October 31, 1968, we moved to Canada.

I always marked my own work.

“Rotten day for the girl today. Lucky lucky girl’s day. ho ho hi hi ha ha”

This little book was the start of finding solace in pages of my diaries. A place where I could and can  just be me. Where I could and can record life obsessively.

52 years later…

10 years since “Olivia Saves the Circus” stop motion animation project at Keith Lynn!

Dolls and stuffed animals make me happy. Very happy. They always have. Some of my faves are hand-sewn little pig characters… but I will get to that.

I am 58 years old and I still have dolls, still rescue dolls, make dolls. love dolls, receive dolls.


I still have the first one (“Lisa”) I received from my parents in the early 60’s:

I also collect sock monkeys and crafts made by me and those made (and given to me) by my past students (of all ages) and friends:

I just dusted, aired out and re-organized my giant collection of old dolls and stuffed animals… Including a treasured basket of props from 2009-2010 school year at a school I worked at in North Vancouver:

I just realized it has been 10 years since that very special  stop motion animation project at Keith Lynn Alternative Secondary School!

During the 2009-2011 school years, I had the pleasure of co-facilitating (along with my colleague, Ian Powell) an animation course at Keith Lynn Alternative Secondary School.

In 2009-2010, the students recreated (with incredible ingenuity) the story of OLIVIA SAVES THE CIRCUS by Ian Falconer:

Screen shot 2013-11-29 at 6.09.48 PMScreen shot 2013-11-29 at 6.11.10 PM

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A few years later, I rescued the collection of props from the project that were mixed in with items to throw out when the school had moved locations to become Mountainside Secondary.

Much love to past Keith Lynn students and staff and to all my present colleagues at Mountainside. Thank you for enriching my life!

Meanwhile, nature enchants.

 

It is Sunday morning and I look out my kitchen window, alarmed at the silence. There are no bird songs. No pigeons cooing, no seagulls screeching, crows cawing, sparrows singing…

I took a walk into the park on Friday. Looking out over the ocean into the haze, eyes, stinging, feeling heartbroken for Earth.

Meanwhile, nature enchants.

A beaver glided by peacefully at the lagoon.

Continuing on past the ducks and heron.

Sparrows always make me gasp with delight.

 

Breathtaking. In very aspect of the word.