Busy-butt

And like that, it seems like the portable time sink has latched onto me and I feel like — for all the work I’m doing — that I’m not getting much accomplished at all.

Yesterday was one of those kinds of days and today feels similar. Yesterday, I went to the craft store early to beat the crowds on a Sunday, finally found the yarn I was looking for, but then opted for my other choice because the black was blacker, though the teal was tealer. Mixed and matched brands, which is okay. But, as I was debating this, I found an absolutely stunning tan color made of wool (instead of the 100% cotton I was planning on). So… I had to… had too… buy it as well.

And now… I think I might have to warp it and weft with my black. Or by itself. The color online is a bit off, so I can see why it might not appeal to anyone, but in-person, it looks homey (and feels it, too).

That was the last moment I felt relaxed.

I bought this in anticipation of the loom arriving yesterday, which turned out to be a shit-estimate by FedEx and it is now “on the truck for delivery by the end of the today” and has been since 2am this morning, but the truck is not out for delivery when I checked tracking. Anyway, it was a respite — as now I’ve had more time to agonize over which to do (black and teal, black and brown, brown only, grey and brown).

My daughters seem a bit baffled by dad’s excitement. Ooookkaaaaaaayyyy is the look they give me as they back away slowly.

Then, as I was doing a shit-tonne of work to prep the house and yard for my daughter’s birthday part next weekend, my mother decides she needs to “quickly drop something off”. Two hours later, I am regretting the decision, as nothing got accomplished aside from adding to my sunburn (outdoors though vaccinated) and I’m frustrated because my father expects me to adjust to his lingo when I ask about slipping in a cabinet in the place where I don’t think I will replace the dishwasher that went tits up. It was a simple question: How would I handle a prefab cabinet that matches the width, but is a 1/2″ short on the height; would I somehow shim it to make it work? No, we had to debate everything but the question at hand, even the color choice (“Good luck with matching that color.” [translation: It’s not gonna happen]). Sometimes I wonder why I ask questions about DYI work when he seems determined to be on everyone’s side but mine. Actually, in typing that, I realize that’s one of my persistent problems with my father — he’s less interested in helping me be successful than he is interested in being right. Doesn’t matter if it is science, or sliding in a makeshift solution to an empty cabinet space — he’s the smartest guy he knows and everyone else is an idiot.

Time to switch gears before I get angry about this epiphany.

To add to the busy-factor, I had a work project that I was given a week to get to review stage (normally a 40+ hours project) in addition to my normal work, but had been told I had ten days when I accepted the challenge. Apparently those ten days included the preceding weekend and the Monday before the hot potato landed in my lap and was calendar days instead of working days. I found this out this morning and tomorrow is the “due” day. Luckily, I had it mostly done, but I had been pacing myself, expecting the end of this week and not the beginning of this week. All morning, frantically tweaking the 70-page technical document (with regulatory review) and correcting references, and getting information from the client’s partner to include. That was on top of filling in my time card and some personal drama at home.

And then there’s this “kid” (20-something, I think) of an old classmate who wants to buy a high-end graphics card off me because they are impossible to find with all the bitminers out there. I could probably have sold it to him for twice what I am asking, but I don’t want him to feel ripped-off when he finds out that 3-4 generations ago, it will only be slightly better than a PS5. Amazon has used ones selling for $450-600, and I am selling it for $150. I’m a pushover. But he’s maddeningly inconsistent with his communication skills. Of course, he wants it today and, of course, the best time is while I am cooking the dinner for the family.

When, really… All I want to do is start playing with my new toy that has yet to arrive.

Or sleep. Sleep would be nice.

rachel/

©2021 Michael Raven

with a devil inside
she lashes out
shrieking and
turning insides
to water

I found myself with nothing compelling to do last night and decided to watch Titans on HBO, the “dark take on Teen Titans”. I generally dislike super hero genre media, especially those films and shows from DC, but part of me has always kind of liked the idea of Teen Titans, or at least their characters (especially, for personality more than any other reason, Raven). If you haven’t watched it yet and are considering watching Titans, it is a lot grittier than I had expected, even given the description. The above was inspired by one of the scenes.

Purchase made

Well, I did it. I went ahead and ordered a rigid heddle loom and a couple of spools of 8/4 cotton with the idea that i’d go ahead and make myself a black/grey scarf using simple weaving patterns for a first project.

One of the biggest problems is the mixed messages out there and some of the gatekeeping to keep out the less serious people (I don’t know that it is intentional, but it sure felt like it at times). The yarn type was the main thing that frustrated me: you are most often told that worsted weight yard is ideal for the density of loom I am starting off with (for the record, a 7.5 dent, which means there are 7.5 slots/holes in the heddle per inch; essentially this is a thread-count measure). You’d think, with 8-dent and 7.5 dent heddles out there as the standard “starter” looms, someone would give more detail about the yarn type — but I saw “worsted”, but yarn is more often sold as N/D formula, where N = yarn “gauge” and D = number of yarn pieces in the twist. This is complicated further by N for cotton is not the same diameter as it is for wool or synthetic fibers or silk. I don’t want to set myself up for failure on the first project, so I wanted someone to more directly tell me which, for different fibers, would be best for my dent type.

15-dent heddle reed

Not forthcoming with my google fu.

Plus, there are some disagreements out there as to whether you can use knitting yarn for the warp and the weft. The general agreement is, sure, you are good using it as a weft (the part woven around the warp), but the tension on the warp makes using knitting yarn a bad idea. Until someone else says it is perfectly fine. Even there, however, there is little clarity, because knitting and crocheting use a completely different yarn grading system from the weavers and no one seems to have put out a conversion sheet that tells me which yarn is best from the knitter’s realm if I were to risk using it to warp. What I gathered was that a medium yarn is best for weaving, but probably only as the weft.

I finally found someone who had a project which they said was for 7.5 dent heddles and they recommended beginners use 8/4 cotton (size 8 strands, 4 wound strands in a piece of yarn). I had been barfing at the prices of even budget yarn as I considered the amount I had been seeing I would need for a project, but using this (unless the guesstimate is WAY off, which is possible), I can do the project for two cones of cotton yarn and have some yard to spare (about half on each cone), which seems too good to be true, meaning my scarf will cost something on the order of $10-20 instead of the barf-worthy $40-60. It won’t be as fluffy or fancy, more like a towel I am thinking, but it is supposedly easier to work with for a novice. [Edit: after writing this, I was accepted to a private FB group for RHL and someone wrote about a similar confusion. Almost everyone said that they felt focusing on weaving yarn over other yarns as a “must have” was terribly anal retentive and wrong in their experience. I think I’ll trust the masses over the individual.]

Like I said, the first project is going to be about as basic as they come and, after several scarves, maybe some curtain panels for the bedroom, or a table runner — then I’ll consider making my tartan scarf or a tartan blanket. Until then, I suspect there might be a steep learning curve — less about the techniques and more about the technical aspects.

Clan Tartan — first major milestone project

Weaving

It looks like I’m going to go ahead and purchase a rigid heddle loom with the idea of trying my hand at weaving.

I honestly need a non-consumptive hobby outside of writing and music, something a little less emotionally charged than either, and more constructive than video games.

An online associate (maybe a friend, if we actually communicated more than in trite little exchanges of punning, jests and a common musical taste) recently said he had decided to remake himself, which I found interesting because I consider myself in the process of unmaking myself so that I can remake myself, myself (had to toss in that last “myself” after all of the others). Anyway, he wrote a lengthy bit about how he didn’t want anyone to get too bent out of shape as he decided he was going to make some drastic changes in his lifestyle, which might be off-putting to some of his readers. One of his comments was, when he’d done this in the past, he jumped into some uncomfortable new experiences to shake things up — you can’t change if you keep doing the same thing as you did before and pretend that you magically changed. He took up new habits and visited different places to do the things everyone had to do. He was going to change his schedule and alter his routine.

I figured, you know, this isn’t a new concept, but I have often talked big about changing without actually making any changes when you look closer. And, as I’d written a few days ago, I’d always been intrigued with the idea of fiber arts, and weaving in particular. I’ve never been able to explain the why of it, but I am fascinated by what can be done with a loom.

I toyed around with the idea and started watching videos tonight to see if I was being overly romantic about the idea, thinking perhaps I had underestimated the level of commitment required to see a project to completion. And I was amazed at how, with a proper rigid heddle loom, the whole process appeared to be as complex or mundane as I wanted. Simple weaving is indeed much more simple than I expected (although I’ll still start with something easy), and there is room for growth as I looked into more complex ideas, such as making a making my clan’s tartan, or even doing Celtic knot borders. While I won’t be able to make my own honest-to-god authentic kilt with the size of loom I am considering, I can make a clan scarf, or my own rug done in tartan colors. Or other rectangular things. Or steal my daughter’s sewing machine and get into making other items from my materials…

I figure, hell, it might be time to break away from the opium of video games for a while and, at the bare minimum, put myself to work to make things like scarves for the poor and the homeless. Plus, the more simple weaving lets me do that working meditation I value so highly.

I just have to get my butt in gear and actually buy one (and the supplies needed to actually make something).

Maybe I’ll have something as soon as early next week.

Changlings, all

Given the opportunity to remove a number of personal traits that are unrepresentative of you and replace them with something more representative, what would you change?

Anything? Nothing at all?

Would they be physical?

Would they be personality quirks?

Would they be individual habits?

Would they be the shadows that haunt you?

Fears?

Unmet desires?

And, if so, what is too great of a sacrifice to make?

Photo by YURI MANEI on Pexels.com

City

I’m sitting in the city park near where my daughter is doing her outdoor aikido (jo/staff training), listening to the birds celebrate the fact that we might reach mid-80°F weather around here today. Or maybe they are just chatterboxes.

The sound of the freeway make it over the barrier they constructed nearby to mask such noises, but it doesn’t bother me… City of just a different kind of nature than the kind you find away from the city, but it’s still nature and it’s nice to be out of the house, away from the house and the inherent responsibilities, just sitting and writing and listening and feeling.

I’ve been doing a lot of intensive spirit work the past month or so and my inner guide told me it was time for a break from the intensity. So I’m largely just sitting here, taking it in, letting the world wash over me. Following orders.

For some reason, this very moment is being visited by memories of a similar park on the other side of the Mississippi from where I am. A world away, and yet probably only three miles by bird. If that.

Near that park used to be a place that sold craft yarn and weaving looms. It may still, but it’s been thirty years, so it seems unlikely. I used to visit the stores nearby, my own international village when I was young, and more often then not, is stop by that store as well, even though I haven’t ever had the skill or training to take up yarn crafts. Still, I’d stop by, look at the looms and tell myself I really should learn how to weave one day. Why? I was never able to articulate the why. It was just one of those things.

And today, as I hear the distant clacks of wood on wood as parry and blocks are being trained, I’m drawn into that memory. It was always money that stopped me; now it’s time. And cats.

And up from that park, the kind that seemed to have this kind of day always attached to it, were other stores, most of which are long gone. A place that was the authentic international bazaar that Pier One always wished it could be, with incense, brass, coin belts, carved soapstone, carved obsidian, middle eastern scarves, stone buddhas…

Follow the street, and there was a vegan place before it got popular to be vegan, a New Age store that didn’t much act like a New Age store, but carried everything from ben wa balls to organic cotton futons before organic was a real thing. They had the best myrrh oil, I can’t find anything like it anymore, sweet, dark and sinful.

Also, on that strip of street, there was a pagan bookstore, one that was equal parts a goddess-send and a pit of frustration. I picked up a used hard copy of Salinger’s Nine Stories there.

There were theaters with all kinds of edgy plays, one of which was focused on non-caucasian productions called The Mixed Blood Theater. Another one, I saw a one man show based on Diary of a Madman performed by a man who was born with a stunted left arm, but you didn’t realize it until you paid attention.

There were winos and hippies and bums and punks and dirtballs… There were students and business people who seemed bothered by the whole humanity of the scene.

There was an all night cafe where some residents always seemed to be in attendence. And there were street acts and buskers of all types.

Or was organic and profane and beautiful and anarchy. And nature.

All of it just a few short blocks away from a park just like this one I sit in and remember the past in.

Beltane and other bits

Happy Beltane for those of you who do such things. I’m reckoning it starts as of dusk, if it seems odd for me to say such things on April 30th (the start of a Celtic day was at dusk, not at midnight). No one is looking for me to play the role of the Horned God that I know of, so I doubt there will be any dancing and frolicking around bonfires for me tonight. For some reason, I suspect I’m not quite the catch anyone had in mind.

Things have settled down a bit here, now that there have been a few days since the discharge of a handgun at my daughter’s school by a kid who took it (already loaded, how sweet) from his father’s bedside stand. No clarity or closure, and honestly — I feel like they are going to totally sweep this under the rug. I’m at a loss at what to do, aside from screaming my fool head off at the administration and the district folks, and that might only serve to get me blocked — not sure what to do about it. However, it would have been nice if they had said that the kid had an older brother who was in the same area when this happened. Because it was minors, I can see why this only came out when a parent brought it up at a Zoom meeting that did not appear to go as planned — the school seemed surprised at the outrage that this happened and I’ll let the other parents vent their displeasure so I don’t close off any avenues of communication I might still have with people who seem hell bent on move on without changing anything about their approach to things like this in the future. We did good, was the message until several vocal parents pointed to very specific failures on the school’s part. Shock! But we just told you we did good! Cognitive dissonance is amazing stuff, folks.

And it turned into even more of a clown show when the adults waited outside of the school for the kids’ return yesterday to wave banners and cheer loudly for the returning students. My daughter said she was embarrassed for the revelers, as each teenage kid put their head down and tried to get in the building as quickly as possible to escape the artificial joy on parade. I made her laugh when I told her that, had it happened to me, I probably would have gotten back on the bus, sat down, crossed my arms and loudly said, “Nope,” if I had seen such a thing. I can’t believe adults who work with teens on a regular basis thought that would be received at all well. I don’t know how you could get more tone deaf.

I’m actually pretty glad my tattoo thing fell through and I had to find someone else to do one. While I really liked the raven concept, I’m starting to lean more early bronze age with the designs that appeal to me. I wish I could find something really pictish-looking with elements of what you might see Heilung wear on stage (above picture of Maria Franz is a decent feel for what I want to capture, except with more stylized symbolic elements) — a stag-person, Cernunnos-like, with one or more of: a z-rod, v-rod, or pictish shield; maybe with some raven design too. If I could have Joolz Denby (artist who does New Model Army album covers) design something, I am pretty certain she’d know what I was trying to get at, but it seems unlikely many other artists would have the right background for something like that. I’m no artist, so I’d have to cobble up ideas. But, anyway, not actively looking to get one done because I was frustrated with the last search that fell apart. I’m not up to repeating that and I have more important stuff to think about.

As for those “other things”, I am doing some hardcore digging still and just finished my first “circuit” of internal tasks for some spirit alchemy. There are many more to come, I’m sure, but I overall feel good about some of the stuff I’ve been doing. It’s been illuminating, if nothing else, and I can see a path in the mists and fog — although not clearly. It would take multiple cups of coffee over several session to try and explain, so I won’t torture you with the details. But, I will say that I’m getting comfortable with where the path is heading. I wasn’t always so (mostly because of how others treated these things), and that was some of the problem. Now that I’m following my inner guide, things seem to be going much smoother.

I’ve also been playing a few games these past few weeks when I need to escape from these thoughts (school shootings, alchemy, work, etc.), and have been enjoying the remaster of NieR: Replicant, the precursor to Automata. I was reminded of quirks I disliked, and those I had forgotten I loved about the game. I didn’t even make it half-way when I played the original version, so I’m starting to get into new territory already. When I want to think even less than that game makes me think, I have been playing Persona 5 Strikers, the unsequel. It’s fun, but I play mostly for the banter and less for the gameplay. The game follows more of an extended Rock, Paper, Scissors of weaknesses and buffs, and the battles get a little repetitive at times as a result.

Other than that, I think I need to do yard work this weekend, something that’s lost its allure the past few years. I really should clear out the leaves and branches from the autumn that fell into the gutters over winter (one tree never loses its leaves until after the snow flies), but I’ll just have to do it again next month when the maple seeds fill up the gutters again. I really want to try and get rid of the lawn elements, but our city frowns upon forest and prairie reclamation (Weeds! as if Kentucky Bluegrass isn’t a weed). I may try to do something more “polished” this year, but I’m afraid they’ll ding me for it if I do.

Anyway, enough with the update. Have a great holiday and weekend.

Facepalm

I just found out that our little wannabee shooting celebrity has a father who has a record that includes gun charges, child endangerment, drunk driving, discharging a weapon in a municipality, concealed weapon without permit…

Some people really shouldn’t be allowed to have kids, and this seems like a great candidate for such a rule.

Modifications

I had recently given select people access to my more private, journal-like, blog with the intent of doing more experimental creative work there and transferring the better results here, but it has become a more personalized sort of thing than I had originally intended as I dig deeper into my own psyche and relationship with the Old Ways.

No offense intended to anyone, and it’s not personal, but I think I am going to withdraw access to those few people who have thus far been granted the ability to see my deeper thoughts. It’s largely a mess, anyway, as I don’t always worry about presentation — and occasionally, it is just a laundry list of incomplete thoughts.

As a result, when I feel poetically (or otherwise creatively) inspired, I’ll just post here.

Thanks for everyone’s understanding (those of you who had access).

Excerpt

From a reflection on some spirit-working I’ve been done, written in my private journal. Clarification and edits in square brackets:

I know that I am in the process of “unmaking” who I am, removing the masks I have worn — I am working on becoming my true self, whoever that is. […] In the process of unmaking, I am remaking. I know I want to be a “cord-cutter”, not so much from [as popularly used] “cable TV”, as much as from doing as Robert De Niro’s character, Mendoza, had happen for him in The Mission. I want to take those burdens and sins of my past, those weights I have carried with me to the top of the cliffs, and cut the rope free (by [me] or someone else) — leaving [those things] behind me to fall into the abyss and the mists below.