dancing_crow: (going away)
a response that I can't post to Clever Manka here, because I have been meaning to think about it for a year or two now, and have been avoiding it.
For a long time I was a horse girl. I was in Pony Club and 4H and took lessons and taught smaller children and had full care of my own and other people's horses (first checkbook, so I could buy grain at the coop). I was a 3-phase event organizer when I was 16, and I could have passed at the tests to be in charge by the time I was 18, having learned All The Rules. It was friendly and heady and much easier to be a part of when the class system was flatter (1970's New England) - also living in the exurbs meant more people had horses, children were feral, and there was room to ride and people to ride with. I must have ranged across most of my county along some combination of power lines and trails and the edges of farmland. When I started college the first time, I was involved in the barn a lot, and got a lot of community and positive reinforcement from it. When I changed colleges, there was no easy access to riding, and it started to fall away.

I rode again in grad school, but only until the regime changed, and I realized I was at the barn more than the lab.

The last major riding period was across my 40s and 50s, until things piled up on me - I fell off once too often, other things were increasingly complex, and I just ... stopped. Stopped collecting rides, stopped working with other people's horses, stopped visiting the barn. I kind of miss it, and mostly don't.

What I don't say there is that part of what was piling up on me was lack of other exercise and weight. Shortly after I restarted riding, I lost a lot of weight via WW and developed muscles and balance and core strength I had not had in years. Riding was easier when I was that solid, and it fell away from me little by little. Exercise became really hard to fit into life - it had fit briefly because I could make it to the gym and back before getting the kids to school, but when they had to be in school at 730, the whole morning routine started way too early.

I returned to the barn of friends from grad school - people I ahd ridden with then - and as teachers they were slow and painstaking and I didn't click with them the way I did with other teachers, so I was leading a kind of strange double life where some horses were in one place and other horses were elsewhere - the geography of it got exponentially more difficult.

I actually went so far as to lease a horse, and he died. He was at least 26, I was feeding him all the things that had been requested, and working him steadily, gently, daily,  and he just - tipped over in the pasture one late afternoon, and was likely dead when he hit the ground. that was doubly traumatic because I had never dealt with equine death before and had no idea what kinds of costs and issues had to be dealt with, at the same time that his owner flipped right the fuck out. I have independent witnesses on that. She blamed me, and I still get weepy thinking about losing him. So that was harder than necessary.

At that point I had no easy access to horses with the training to get me to first level in dressage, which was what I wanted to do. I wanted to ride that lengthening across the long diagonals on a horse that wasn't rushing but had the lift and swing that I'd felt on my old man, before he died and on a couple of other horses when I'd first come back to riding, before the farm owner declared bankruptcy and sold her horses. I needed a horse I either couldn't afford, or couldn't find. I did have the oversight from trainers to get another horse there, but even that didn't work out very well.

And I really did fall off once too often. And it was the same horse, each time, and it took me by surprise and hurt worse each time. It seemed like a bad path to be on.

And finally enough other things were happening that it became easier, and nicer, and kinder to myself, to just stop. So I did.

Really it still feels weird.

dancing_crow: (Default)
Karate last night was so hard I had to stop and pant and it made me cry. Which is unusual, and mildly distressing, but I keep going back so clearly this is also something I need or want to do in some fashion.

Today I so distressed watching my father disappear into dementia that I came home and ate a pint of run raisin ice cream and watched all the Ocean's movies, starting with the best (8, of course) and then 11. The more recent one. I have also figured out how to make the oven bake food for me when I want it to - I was using an offset, and the oven wanted an actual time, so it was waiting til 1am and I wanted it to start in an hour. So I have successful lasagna for a triumphal dinner, and I'm going back to watching Danny Ocean.
dancing_crow: (headstand)
I was invited to test for the next level in karate. In this tradition, the next step is a green tip on my white belt.

I am really torn - I was sure I was going to be the oldest, best white belt on the planet. I am (still) not sure I want to take on more learning or practicing or ... anything. The whole idea of getting better was not really on my radar? I meant merely to show up and flail happily in the back row and just stay there, for a while. Like years. I don't particularly want to learn another kata, or a different stance, I feel like I am holding on with my fingertips to the knowledge I have gotten so far, and I could legit practice it for a while yet.

But Sensei says I should take the test. It was much kinder than "stop complaining, take the damn test" but the upshot is I should stop complaining and take the test. Like a thesis defense, you are not invited to test until they think you are already ready to be there. It isn't their fault that I think slowly and am unwilling to move forward. It also is not their fault if I do not believe I am ready. I think. They can see the work I am doing, and how often I show up for practice. They can see my understanding of the basics, and ability to produce them. I'm not sure I can put my finger on why I believe my own inner voices more than external, relatively neutral observers.

When you sign up for lessons, it is this delicate balance between listening to the teacher and not listening to the teacher. For intellectual things, it is possible to be present and disagree and find use in the class over all. For art classes it is a different balance, between learning what the teacher has to offer and keeping your own personal style and vision. For physical things it can be more fraught, because you have to trust the teacher not to hand you more than you can do. It is this delicate tightrope where I commit to doing what the teacher tells me to do, to the best and utmost of my current ability, and they don't ask for more than I am capable of. I have to have faith that they see my abilities more clearly than I do. They can also see my faults and failings, and fix them - that is what the lesson is for - but they can't see anything unless I try to do what they are telling me to do next.

These are thoughts I've had about lessons in general. I have had a lot of lessons in my life: art lessons, sewing technique lessons, riding lessons, yoga and pilates classes, circus classes - I am quite willing to put my faith in a teacher and follow their instruction, but I am always listening to my inner voices about what my own mental and physical boundaries are.

So on April 1 I will present myself for a test in karate, hoping that between now and then I'll feel like I have a better grip, and possibly feel like I have an actual trajectory rather than just a presence.
dancing_crow: (Default)
Under the bark
of toppled trees
the storm took out
last Halloween,
fine hieroglyphs
a mystery spell
or simply paths
from legs and teeth
that once were
tasty to birds
dancing_crow: (always stand with magic)
capstone
keystone
standing stone
headstone
stoned or stoned
a stone unturned
(a tern unstoned)
stony ground
dancing_crow: (Default)
Except I know for a fact it is NOT a details mop up, it is only the start of the cascade of smaller and more annoying projects that must be completed before the overall project can be called done. Anyways:
  • washed and painted remaining sections of bathroom wall, 3 coats, plus touch ups (behind the sink and radiator, so not exactly crucial but a nice piece of finishing work)
  • sanded and repainted a bunch of patches on the wall
  • patched the MAJOR hole I made removing baseboards, added paint
  • sanded and spray painted the heater cover - it will be WHITE, and also CLEAN for a hot minute (which is a good joke I did not even mean to make) once I figure out how to get it back on again
remaining next issues:
  • baseboard acquisition and painting
  • baseboard measuring and installation (Maybe I can glue it in, she thinks)
  • attach radiator cover to baseboard and over radiator
I have to/get to choose the countertop color, and everything in me wants a Real Color, like Orange or Yellow or Deep Red, or Turquoise or even Wavy Purple, and all the ones I like best make Mr Crow cringe, which is his tough luck except he spends some time in there cleaning and putting things away. Someone said to think of the resale, and I kind of do, except I am not planning on selling this house ever (of course having said that we'll have to move in 8 months, so never say never I guess?) Also I have always assumed that people move into a house with a list of things to change, and whatever I install will not be to their hypothetical taste no matter what I do so i should damn well please myself.

If my gi dries in time, i will go to Karate.

I have been invited to take the test for green tip, and I am realizing I am not sure I want anything more to be asked of me. I am quite happy where I am, struggling along and working on fitness as much as forms, but i am also not sure I can/am allowed to decline taking a test, or if I can fail spectacularly in some fashion which seems... duplicitous, I guess.

dancing_crow: (Default)
we have kitchen cabinets, and I put kitchen things into them. They have no fixed countertops yet, but they will relatively soon, and until they do the place is still usable.

Today I installed a new floor in the bathroom. the plumber showed up at 8:30 and pulled the old toilet up, and I chipped up the rest of the tiles, sanded the floor, put down the underlayment, and figured out how to get the bits to snap together in reasonable order. I put pix on instagram -

me in a dust mask, set of pictures of bathroom floor covered with underlayment, and rows of marmoleum tiles.

who knows if that will work. You can just go see...I took myself out to lunch (and the restaurant's bathroom).

And now I am down to the last tile, which needs to have edges cut off, and a slot for the radiator pipe to go into, and I have made one and it mostly fits, but if I do it again, and I have enough tiles to do it again, I could do it prettier. I'll decide later. The plumber is due back soon to install the new toilet, and I am looking forward to it.

dancing_crow: (Default)
I had the BEST dream last night: I dreamed Barak Obama and I were friends. Because I had offered to help dig a ditch and then help with the concrete mumblesomething that happened next. And then we got to talk and visit like normal people while all kinds of crazy politics whirled around. It was great.
dancing_crow: (Default)
a hawk is hunting lunch outside my window
startlingly rufous underwing, the bars of youth on wings and tail
working her way along the hedge full of twittering
sparrows hiding in plain sight in the tight lattice of the hedge
bluejays yelling combined warnings and jeers
and the neighbor's cat watching with interest
a fellow predator, doing her thing


If I keep writing Poetry, more or less by mistake, does it count as making things for the month?
dancing_crow: (Default)
I put the dead sparrow in the freezer
wrapped against the cold in sandwich bags
dreaming of flight

birds are the only generalizable thing - all things with feathers are birds
all birds have feathers
feathers are their own kind of magic
talisman, dream catcher, instigator
our rackety approximation of flight does not come close
to the freedoms feathers bestow
dancing_crow: (Default)
I am aggressively doing nothing, where in I sit and am grumpy and nobody can make me do anything, or cheer me up. I walk past the current projects and just think "nope. not today, fuck you too"

This is different from tiredly doing nothing, and cheerfully doing nothing and dreamily doing nothing, and it is harder than I expected.

Eventually I will get sick of this mood, and go finish whanging on the bathroom floor tiles. And also washing the rest of the kitchen ceiling so I can paint it later.
dancing_crow: (codfish)
When I was growing up, a pack of us were children of people who sailed. The best of times were when we'd sail together - a bunch of us headed out of Marblehead harbor towards one of the little islands between there and Manchester - and anchor next to an island, or go all the way to Gloucester and through the Annisquam canal to Wingaersheek Beach, and picnic on the beach, splashing through the shallows in yelling hordes, and eventually sailing home again.

There were a lot of boys in this crowd. Us girls had to stick together. So Lisa, 18 months older than me, looked out for me, and I looked out for Kristina, and I think eventually Kristina looked out for someone else. I thought Kristina was the Best Toy Evar. She was smart, and cute and let me hug her, and I named all my dolls after her, and she (she told me today) thought I was magic. It was good. I thought Lisa was magic. It all goes and comes around.

Today I lunch with Kristina for the first time in at least 30 years. I think I last saw her for sure when my weirdly frosty aunt threw Mr Crow and me an engagement party. So 1986.

It was weird. She's nice, she's done a lot of interesting things, I think I'll be glad she's here and local and we will be friends again. But I realize again how much proximity makes, or used to make, us be friends even with very little to base it on.

tl;dr I reconnected with a friend from childhood, I think we will be friends again

dancing_crow: (Default)
I have a cello in my living room.
It was given to me by a friend who teaches stringed instruments to middle schoolers (brave woman) 
she reassured me it was beyond help
I should make art on it
or in it
or with it
she gave me two, but I sent one to a friend in Virginia, who said she wanted to do something with it
or on it
or to it
and this one was in my studio for a year.
I love the tuning pegs (only two remained)
and the curve of shoulder and hip that is so human, and the gorgeous curl at the top of the neck
but it was weighing on me
so I lifted it out of the space it inhabited, and the neck came off
and part of the top right shoulder peeled off, so I can see inside it, and all the empty space
that is supposed to remain unseen, but full of music to be brought forth
but I spilled it out, or someone did, starting with the crack in the front, and the next in the back
and losing the tuning pegs and strings falling off (just thinking about this is making me weepy)
and so it sits, hopeful, broken, expectant, on the floor in my living room

Yesterday I drove to Amherst with a dead sparrow on the windshield.
It was stuck on a wiper
no red light lasted long enough for to me to leap to its rescue
until I pulled in behind Morrill and waited for Alice, and rescued the tiny body
into a plastic tray that held the frozen macarons from Trader Joe.
Alice thought I had a very realistic fake bird, with tiny wire feet
I was stupidly pleased to be able to hold a bird, and see how well I have been depicting the feathering
around the neck and head, of the birds I drew in February,
and how far I have yet to go on the long flight feathers, depicting the texture and direction of them
And now it is resting in the plastic tray in the back seat of my car,
because I cannot bring myself to toss it under the hedge,
where it was going originally before my car got in the way
I keep holding it gently
spreading the wings to admire those pinions that lofted her to the neighbor's feeder
and back to the hedge

Both of things, a dead bird, a dead cello, feel to precious to simply throw away
but too useless to keep, and keep how? 
The cello in the freezer? The dead bird in the living room?
Cutting seems ...rude, or unkind
burying impossible
burning
maybe

I would like to make art with the bird and the cello, or on them or to them
but it doesn't feel right yet
and so I wait here
dead cello in the living room
dead bird in the cold car
and see if the future will speak to me
dancing_crow: (Default)
I get to rewatch Leverage and Due South, interleaved with each other, all day long.

ETA Eliot's ponytail.... and Hardison's smirk, and Parker all over, and Sophie and Nate staring at each other

Also Paul Gross's cheekbones


dancing_crow: (Default)
(from Officer Krupke) 
I am sick
I am sick
I am sick, sick, sick

dribbly nose, sore throat, avoiding humans (so no dad today) - my day looks peaceful at any rate

I'm still waiting on cabinets to finish the kitchen catastrophe. They were slated to arrive sometime between yesterday and two weeks from now, I will be pleased when they arrive. Until then, I continue to pick my way around the piles of stuff, and and settle into the bathroom briefly before I go after the damn floor. They put 4" white wall tiles on the floor. It is crazy slippery, and also white (?!?) and horrible, and has been for the 20 years we've inhabited this house. I am thinking the removal will be cathartic, and I can do it piecemeal until it gets to removing the toilet and working underneath that. That part will take help, and good timing.

Daily February 2019 is almost done! A bunch of people joined in for the longest shortest month, you can find them with #dailyfeb2019 at Instagram, including the birds I drew using the digitizing tablet and Autodesk's Sketchbook program. The end to end digital experiment was a huge success on the not-having-to-store-things front, but I should probably stare at my (firm but unexamined) belief that I need to get a grip on the digital tools. I'm not sure what that comes from except maybe being overwhelmed with physical objects and looking for alternatives. I know I need to make things on the regular, but maybe they can be more ephemeral? 
dancing_crow: (Default)
hand over
underhanded
hand in
hands down
hands in the air (do we care?)
overhand (a knot)
handout
well in hand
getting out of hand
slipped through one's hands
handy (better than handsy)

what'd I forget? 
dancing_crow: (Default)
After reading [personal profile] siderea 's epic recap of the flu pandemic in Boston a century ago, I found this piece in Slate an interesting read, in part because of the contrast between the responses of doctors and nurses to the sickness, the patients, and the carnage. Doctors were abruptly not the heroes of the story, while attention shifted to nursing and nurses, an the effort they were expending. The idea that caretaking is what women do naturally is wrapped into nursing, but reading about nurses' personal responses to the pandemic shows they felt they were doing important work, and developing professionally, in ways that were exciting even as they were at odds with the experiences of the rest of the country.
dancing_crow: (Default)

I have to thank all y'all for the positive reinforcement about exactly how hilarious "level 8 meditation" is, because it is nice to have company here. 

 

dancing_crow: (Default)

So Al come downstairs this morning looking looking, as usual, like a chaos muppet, and says "I have to tell you something, but I don't think you're going to like it" and I'm racking my bains trying to decide if we've talked about breaking up or I'm suddenly spending too much time or money on the house reno that is limping along, but no.

"You know I've been meditating, and I'm up to level 8, and when I reach level 10, that is enlightenment, and I think things will change a lot when that happens, and I thought you should know" 

To my enormous credit, I did not laugh at him. Just the idea of levels of meditation cracks me RIGHT the fuck up, because I've never known it to be that linear and directed, like, ever. All the people I've read who talk about meditation in the long term talk about how it is a practice, and you have to return to it regularly, and it is not linear, and breakthroughs don't happen you just get calmer, and I wonder what the fuck kind of meditation koolaid he's been handed, and I so very much do not want to ask about it, or look at it, for the same general reason I didn't want to go with my mother to an EST session - I have so many better ways to waste my time, even if all I am doing is playing word games on my phone.

So he says his brain is very busy doing ....something? He thinks when he becomes enlightened, he will be a better person. I can only talk to him about this for limited amounts of time because I don't really want to just laugh at him? But honestly what I think I see happening is him getting even less flexible in his thinking, and then saying he doesn't have to worry about it because he's enlightened now... I think it is just going to add emotional arrogance to the intellectual arrogance he already carries.

heh. "level 8 meditating" remains fucking hilarious.

dancing_crow: (Default)
Because the world always needs more about Whalefall, there is a long and charming article on it in the New Yorker this week.

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