Wandering at the Shadows' Edge

exploring potential and possibility

Food

I like to cook – but I have trouble cooking for just myself. And I really like most vegetables, fruits, and grains. But I like meat, poultry, and seafood too. And getting enough calories from just vegetables and fruit is hard. The volume of food you have to eat is daunting, to say the least. It takes me forever to get through that much food!

I tend to eat too few calories and put my metabolism into starvation mode. Then it fights to hang on to everything and I end up gaining weight. So I need to eat more calories along with exercising and drinking lots of water. I’m working on all three.

I downloaded an app on my phone that should help. It lets me cut down recipes for one or two servings and create a grocery list from the recipes I want to use. We’ll see if I can remember to use it and if it actually makes things easier.

I’m leery, because the experience of the past tells me it will be less effective than I’d like. It may be a wonderful app. It was recommended. But I have a tendency to forget to use such things. They’re only effective if they’re being used and I’m already tracking my eating in two places. Adding another app I need to check on a regular basis may not be the best option. But we’ll see. I’ll give it some time and see if I can get in the habit of using it.

It’s pre-mapping something I’m almost familiar with, yet have never been successful at. I have hops, but no specific expectations. In this case, the destination is the point, but the journey matters too.

Physical Shadows

One thing about roaming the shadows and not keeping track of where I’m going – I don’t keep track of other things, like my weight. And when I finally did step back into the light, I found I’d gained a fair amount of weight.

I was very unhappy with that discovery. And I decided to do something about it.

I joined 24 Hour Fitness and set up sessions with a trainer once a week. I started walking again and doing the lateral elliptical machine at the gym when it’s too hot or rainy to walk the hike and bike train behind my condo.

And I started eating better. Lots of fruits, vegetables, and such. Eggs and some cheese. I haven’t gone vegetarian. I eat some meat, poultry, and seafood. And I haven’t given up my beer. That’s not happening!

I tried Daily Harvest. I like the idea of having smoothie ingredients ready for immediate use. And they have dinner bowls, overnight oats, and snack bites. But I wasn’t fond of a lot of the flavors. Some of them were good, and I’m still ordering a limited number of them. I think I’ll be prepping ingredients myself and buying frozen fruits. That should make it quicker to fix smoothies and I can probably pre-mix the ingredients once I find the combinations I like best.

I’m just starting to lose some of the weight, but it is happening. I’m hopeful. We’ll see what happens.

Shadows of an Artist

I have never referred to myself – or even thought of myself – as an artist. I do a lot of crafty and creative things. But I have little discipline in most of them. So I’m not an artist.

Or am I?

An artist is someone who creates art. And what is art? Dictionary.com defines art as “the quality, production, expression, or realm, according to aesthetic principles, of what is beautiful, appealing, or of more than ordinary significance.” 

But it also tells us the origins of the word “art” comes from Middle English and Old French “ars” or “artem” and means “skill, craft, craftmanship.”

So do I create art?

I do have have some skill at the things I do. I try to put some definable sense of craftsmanship into them. Others find them aesthetically pleasing.

I think it can be called art. Not high art. Not even high quality art. Maybe everyday art.

And isn’t that something lovely to consider – that everyday art exists. That art doesn’t have to be confined to the museum, gallery, or concert hall. That art can be a part of lives. part of our everyday experience. That art is for everyone, everyday.

Everyday art is, to me, something created, not because it was needed or contracted, but just because the creator desired to bring something it to being just to be enjoyed, to make those who see it feel something.

So many of my projects – by that definition are art. And because I create them, I must by definition, be an artist. An everyday or common artist, but still an artist.

That thought is almost overwhelming sometimes. But it’s inspiring too. I think it’s time to go create some art.

New-Old Journeying

I’m still visiting old shadows and paths, but some of them are taking me in new directions. The two that are taking me the furthest from familiar paths are essentially new versions of things I’ve tried before. I’m only going to talk about one of them here.

I had a podcast for a little while over a decade ago. It was about creativity and I enjoyed it. Buth other things took priority and even though it was something I wanted to do, I just couldn’t find that one topic I could center a new podcast on. So I let it sit in the back of my mind in the mists and shadows until something came that I felt I could talk about for an extended time.

It took a financial podcast for inspiration to hit. “How to Money” is a podcast about all things money, hosted by two young men who share one of my loves – good beer. They have a beer while recording their podcast, talking about it at the beginning and end of each episode. And I can talk about beer forever.

So there it was – topic #1. But there are lots of beer podcasts out there. So what could I talk about that would make my podcast unique? What do I spend my time and energy on just for me? It really should have been obvious. I read, and I write. I love books of all kinds. Could I combine my love of beer with my love of books?

The answer was yes – and Books and Beer 2 Go is the result.

I got the intro and first episode out. Then I ran into computer problems. Then I ran into time problems. But the podcast is getting back on track – I think.

So, if you like books, or beer, or just want to hear me babble, go to your favorite podcast app and download an episode. And don’t forget to let me know what you think.

Weaving Past, Present, Future

I posted previously about revisiting projects. Some of those old projects I need to finish so I can start new ones. For example, I have a plaid on my rigid heddle loom that is mostly done. I need to get it finished and off the loom before I can start the next project. And that’s not the only thing I need to do before I can start that project. I have to finish re-balling the yard that will be the weft. It’s yarn reclaimed from a project I killed rather than finish.

What is the next weaving project? An attempt at a rug of sorts. The nice thing is that I’m re-using the yarn from a project I gave myself permission to give up on. Also, since it’s a rug, the warp will be nice and short. I have some thick cotton string I’m thinking of using. And a couple of the packages I’ve received lately had brown paper as packing material, so I have a good material for keeping layers of warp separate on the rollers. That will help keep the warp from tangling and sticking.

I’m really looking forward to weaving the rug. I don’t know that I’ll actually be successful in accomplishing the vision I see in my head. But I will learn a lot from the attempt, whether or not it works. I’m hoping the string works for the warp, but I’m not sure it will. If it does, I have lots of fabric scraps I can use to weave a rag rug later.

Just in case you’re wondering why I’m using a thick string for the warp – I inherited a large cone of it and I haven’t been able to find ways to use it. Warp takes a fair amount of yardage. I’m sure I’ll have some left even if I go on to use it for a rag rug. I’m looking at the possibility of trying some kind of netting – like a net bag or something of that kind.

I really want to do more weaving and learn how to weave twills and such. I need a few more pieces of equipment – reeds, a stand, and other similar things, before I can do some of them. I’ll probably be sticking with plain weave or pick-up for awhile longer. I need to pay down bills and save a bit before buying new things!

Making time

Time. It’s one thing we never seem to have enough of – just like money. Making a living takes over a third of my available 24 hours, five days a week – sometimes more. Sleeping should take another third, though usually it’s more like a quarter. At most we’re left with four to eight hours to do chores, feed ourselves, run errands, relax, and pursue our real interests. On the weekends, we may have sixteen hours each day – if we haven’t pushed all our errands and chores off until then, and if we don’t have to go in to work.

So how do we find the time to do the things we *need* to do and still have time to do things we *want* to do? How do we make sure we get some “me” time in the midst of all the things that need to be done? As fast and busy as life is today, it almost always feels like something is getting shorted.

I have to prioritize the things I need or should do. I also have to prioritize the things I want to do – the things I take joy in. That’s hard, because for me “my” things can’t possibly be as important as those things that need or should be done. Can they? They can. They are. For my own mental and emotional health, I need those things. So do you.

How am I making prioritization work? I prioritize “my” things, then I separately prioritize the need and should things. Absolutely necessary things – like getting groceries or gas, and paying bills, get scheduled first. That part is easy. It’s scheduling the rest of the stuff that’s difficult. That’s where I fall down repeatedly.

I’ve tried scheduling almost every hour. I’ve tried setting a goal of spending a certain amount of time on them. I’ve tried just writing them on my To Do list. None of these options has worked very well.

Currently I’m testing a new hybrid method. I have my two prioritized lists, and I’m trying to break the tasks down to as small and discrete pieces as possible. I’m blocking time for those absolutely necessary things, realizing some of them aren’t time exclusive – like laundry. I can do other things while the washer and dryer are running. Once those are blocked, I’m alternating between “my” things and the need/should things. I’m also making sure I leave some unblocked time, so that I don’t feel like every minute is planned.

I don’t know how this is going to work, if it’s going to work any better than my previous efforts. But I won’t know until I try. The whole process of balancing needs and wants, of reaching a balance that works for me, has been shadowy. I’m constantly mapping new processes and paths.

I’ll let you know what happens and how I feel during the process. Maybe my tests and trials will help someone else what works for them and what makes them happier.

Revisiting the Shadows

Sometimes you just have to travel back to someplace you’ve already been. That’s true when it comes to places, projects, stories, and many other things.

At the moment, I’m traveling in the shadows I’ve already mapped, going back to things that are familiar and, in some cases, comforting. I need to start exploring again soon.

Work has been taking a lot of my mental energies, so I’ve been reading old favorites. They’re fun and easy since I’ve already read them at least once. That leaves my brain cycles available for other things.

What are those other things? Revising the second and third Double Helix books into to drafts I can give to an editor is part of it. I’ve also been doing some editing on Secrets and Shadows before I release it wide and in print. And I’ve been working on the short stories my mailing list gets for free. And then there’s the zero draft of the fourth Double Helix book. That’s most of the writing related stuff that’s not new.

I’m re-exploring the fiber arts as well. I need a new lanyard for work, so I warped up my inkle loom. I got a couple of inches dones then set it aside. I need to finish it because there are other weaving projects – new techniques – I want to try. Of course, I need to finish balling the yarn for some of those projects too!

I’ve been jotting down ideas and steps for completing some older SCA projects too. I need to practice specific calligraphy and illumination styles and figure out some fairly extensive blocking. I need to make a test batch of gesso, test some gilding options, and do some more research and practice on book binding.

I’m considering pulling an old project here out of the shadows. There’s a lot of negativity in the world and on social media right now. And there are a lot of people doing their parts to make things a little better, a little easier, a little nicer. They need to be seen though, and all too often they aren’t. So I think I may bring the spotlight back. There’s light in the shadows, though we usually only see the dark.

Hmm….

It looks like I’m not quite ready to start mapping new paths in the shadows yet. But I’ll get there.

Are you revisiting old maps or exploring new ones?

Emerging from the Shadows – again

*peeks out from the shadows*

Yep – the site is still here.

I went wandering in the shadows again and it took me forever to find my way back. But I did, and once I get the dust blown off the site maybe I can get back to some of my projects.

I definitely need to do a better job of mapping my shadow explorations. Maybe that will keep me from getting lost again! I hope I can figure out where I stopped mapping.

*dusts off the project list in the Idea archive*  *cough cough*

I did keep a journal of sorts while I was wandering. Between it, and the ideas in the very dusty archives of the site, I’m pretty sure I have material for weeks, if not months, of mapping. I just need to make sure I don’t get distracted or lost again! I’ve been reading, sewing, writing, trying new beers, and even trying to start a new podcast. And there’s this trip I’m planning for 2020 …

Let me go chart the next steps in getting the site set to rights again!

Prepping for Faire

Every year, as winter changes to spring, Sherwood Forest Faire begins. I love the Faire. The first year I went, I found an SCA friend running a booth – Tobar Tinker’s Pawn Shop. He was in need of some extra help – and he was willing to get me an employee pass if I would help out for the rest of the season. I jumped at the offer.

And I found I love working at the Faire. I’m not a sales person, but I have skills that make a difference for the shop. And I’ve made friends I look forward to seeing each year. I always plan to do more preparation before Faire – but I rarely actually get it done.

This year is different.  I’ve been meaning for a couple of years now to make a dual layer capelet – I have a lovely, heavy cloak, but as cashier, I can’t keep the front of the cloak closed when I’m working. A capelet, with arm slits, is a much better choice.  Finally, earlier this month, I cut the capelet out and sewed it together. Now I’m just decorating it.

Another project – a more period style account ledger. Because of the kind of business we do, its hard to automate. We’re trying, but we keep a paper record of sales and purchases. In the past we’ve used a regular notebook and pen. Over the past couple of years, I’ve started using a dip pen and ink, but the notebook was still distracting. This year, I think I may have figured out how to create a medieval looking ledger book that will adapt to the volume of business that we do from weekend to weekend.

One last bit of prepping I have to do this yeart won’t happen until next week after I’ve talked to my boss. I’ll need to update the Terms of Service and “How the Shop Works” and inventory sheets for this year.  That’s all on the computer, so it’s pretty quick and easy.

It’s nice to be ahead of the game this year and actually have done some of the things I’ve been saying I wanted to do for a couple of seasons.

100 Days of Art and Science – Check In #1

I haven’t been doing SCA events for quite awhile. Part of the reason is because I had let all my SCA projects and interests fall by the wayside. I decided I wanted to get those interests moving again. To do that I decided to participate in the 100 Days of Arts & Sciences Lite challenge.

If you’d like to see my day to day progess, you can look for #100DaysofASLite on Facebook and Twitter. This is just going to be an overall update of how I’m doing so far.

Days 1-12

  • Gathering supplies
  • Research
  • Choosing methods
  • Refreshing my skill at making Lucet cords

Due to general life circumstances, I didn’t do any A&S work during the second half of January.  Since I’m doing the Lite version of this challenge, I’m not starting over. I just pickws up with Day 13.

Days 13-16

  • Cut and machine sewing a double layered cape for Faire this year
  • Choosing pattern and thread for embroidered decoration of the cape
  • Weaving on my rigid heddle loom

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