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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

And... We're On!


The video clip, thank you so much to Mike Deal and Tyler Walsh.


Thank you so much, Mike Deal and Dave Sanderson for the gorgeous, accurate picture that you painted for the project and my passion. The spread in the Free Press; Arts and Life is a joy.


And Mike, I love, love what you did with the video clip.


Thank you, Thank you, Thank you.
re-joyce@mts.net

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Bags for Darfur



There is a bag feeding frenzy happening over at the Darfur blog this morning.

hungry for some delicious fabrics?

Thursday, May 22, 2008

I'll Have An Order of Gratitude, Please

I've had a few people on the brain lately. This little baby, and the family she belongs to. Yum. The family is yummy, and the baby!! Oh. Beautiful.

Oh... And THIS little baby. Another really amazing family- such a rich heritage and such a promising future of security and love for this precious boy.

And I've been thinking about my friend who allowed me to take a chance at wrecking her Singer sewing machine. She's been on my heart, and I'm grateful for her. And my other friend, cheri (Yes, I really do have TWO friends!) who not only let me use her Pfaff, and jam it up (I swear I didn't do anything weird-- there's just something weird going on with sewing machines around here...) But now that her Pfaff is jammed up, she has offered me her other machine to wreck. That's pretty ballsy. And kind. And not that smart. But, I sure appreciate it.

Then there's the garbage guy who comes around every Thursday. Man, this guy loves his job. He's always got a big grin on; he hurls the heaviest cans of poopy diapers with a big, happy smile, wave, and practically throwing candy and balloons at the kids. What kind of person has such a good attitude?! Inspiring. For a few years now, I've been meaning to bake something nice and bring it out to him and his happy gang on a Thursday morning. I'll just transfer that to my guilt list of good intentions...

My neighbor. He hasn't killed the tulips that the wretched neighbors before him planted, and I really love looking out my kitchen window at those tulips, remembering the wretched neighbors who planted them, and appreciate this quiet, pleasant man who is now the keeper of the tulips. He may not be a stellar gardener, but he doesn't hurl abuse at us either. I like that about him.

Marie. And Marge. (and Becky, and someone from Brian's school staff, and Cheri, and Ruth, and Rose....) They have passed me packages of fabric at church and out of church that are just utterly delicious. The sort that I have to quickly shove into my undies before their descendants notice what is being given to a non family member. Now, that's a love language that I can identify with. (the fabric gifts, not the undie-stashing.)

My kids. I don't know how or why, but they're good people. Sweet people. Beautiful too.

And one more thing. My heritage. Three days ago I attended the funeral of Mr CG Peters- the minister of the church that I and my family attended throughout my childhood. It reminded me of the predictability and stability from whence we came. It reminded me of virtues like steadfastness, dependability, faithfulness.

It's easy to get bogged down- I practice it daily. Balance would suggest that the teeter for this totter is to employ its opposite: Gratitude.

It's a better attitude.
What are you glad for today?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Where's the yin for my yan?

(or is it fen for my shway?)

I'm feeling a little kooky. A little out of whack. Kind of unbalanced.
Excited.
Incapable.
Flawed.

Spinner of Plates. Spinning out of control.

So, how do people do it? How do they work their job well? parent their children well? Work passionately at their passions? Keep their clutter manageable? (mental and material). Make suppers fairly regularly that people don't groan about? Keep band-aids and nutella in abundance? Not overspend? Live generously? Read to kids? Never roll your eyes at them? Be interested in others? Keep up with the paperwork?

How do they become relatively guilt-free, not second guessing themselves to painful proportions?

I thought I'd check my nemesis/hero first of all. Soule Mama. That beautiful, gorgeous, talented, gifted, lovely, slim-hipped sewer of her childrens' clothing, educator of their thirsty minds, baker of bread, stitcher of linens, writer of books, blogger of all bloggers. She likely never buys her kids the wrong size of soccer cleats at the thrift shop. She likely never runs out of such flask-of-oil items like saltine crackers.

She gets over a hundred comments on her blog posts.
I used to envy that.

Till I started to wonder how she copes with it all. How can you validate 164 comments?! So, I went to see whether or not she replied to all those comments, and it doesn't look like she does. Unless she has a really enlightening link to share with everyone. In which she validates someone else's blog or source of ever-so-helpful information.

I've been called mean and spiteful before. Gosh, I hate to think that there's some truth in that. Darnit I hate it when I'm so obviously flawed, human, selfish, envious.... I could go on. And now it turns out that I'm unbalanced as well! (well, that's not new information. It's just that now the whole world has public access to that information.)

So. Striving for balance, while simultaneously doing absolutely everything that I love doing, and quite a few things that I just have to do, plus some stuff that's just boring but necessary.

Any brilliant suggestions? I'll accept up to one hundred and sixty four replies. And I promise to be so balanced, that I won't reply to every single one.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Some Thoughts on Church and Faith

The less I try and figure out theology; the more excited I get about this God thing.
It frees me up in church, when people say things that I think are weird. I don't try so hard to quickly work out in my head whether they are right or wrong or whether I want to absorb their stuff into my head. I just try to listen. Try to observe. Leave room for God to be God. Whether He be weird or sensible, I can't figure that out any more.

And here's what seems to be happening. I feel like I'm coming more into the person God made me to be. Less concerned whether people will agree or not. A little more "freed up", a little less judgemental and frightened.

It's ironic, isn't it? When one becomes un-churchy, quits volunteering for all the stuff that good Christians do with their time, recognizes what a pathetic amount of faith she can lay claim to.... That's when something begins to make some sense. That's when the "God stuff" starts showing up in your life. That's when the community comes into your kitchen and the bearing of one another's burdens is no longer contrived and organized. That's when your passions begin to flow in a direction that totally makes sense, even as simultaneously, there are other aspects of your life that are apparently in a big mess. It matters less. There is a marked reduction in the sense that one has to get one's ducks, bibles, and devotionals in a row before any good can come of it.

There is one piece of Jesus time on earth that I find myself dwelling on quite often. Especially when I notice how much time Christians spend pointing out how other Christians are wrong in their theologies. I always think of those religious leaders- in current terminology they would likely be profs at bible colleges, ministers of churches, deacons, popes, priests- Whatever word you can think of. (I'm trying to avoid the appearance of finger-pointing here). They had immersed themselves in the scriptures. They had figured out what the coming Kingdom was going to look like. They knew the rules about what good Christians did and did not do.

And then Jesus totally offended them.
Called them names.
Talked about how their behaviors meant very little.

Crazy.
So, I'm caring less about figuring this thing out. If I actually trust God, then can't I leave a lot of that thinking up to him? And if people say weird stuff, or strict stuff, or religious stuff.... Do I really have to figure out if they are right or wrong? Or how right or wrong I myself am?

Weird, boring, confusing and frustrating as church and faith can be, I think I may be onto something here. I'm in for the long haul because I think Jesus was a pretty amazing embodiment of God.

And I want to get some more.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Voted To The Next Level

I feel like one of those wedding singers from a small town in Arkansas who gets voted to the next level on American Idol. Except I deal in needles and thread and don't have to look good in a skirt.

The Darfur Project is going very well. (except when it's not), and this morning I am anxiously awaiting the photographer guy from the Free Press. I hope he doesn't want a picture of me behind my faithful machine. I'm grateful to Lisa for loaning me her singer, but I think my bernina would hold a grudge indefinately if I found a new partner for the photo shoot and showed up grinning traitor-like beside my substitute workmate.

I hope I don't look like a total dork, and I hope he takes pictures of my best bags instead of my less than best bags. Or the bags under my eyes...... After getting up at 5:00 to clean up a pile of broken rubble on my sewing room floor after a beautiful shelf filled with many of my favourite collectibles came crashing down off the wall. And why not? We'd just spent a few hours the night before finding the floor of that room, dusting off crusty surfaces, filing a million or two papers, sorting buttons, folding fabrics. So, I guess it needed to be vacuumed all over again?!

Oh, well.
I needed to colour my roots anyhow.
Nothing like bad roots to make the bags look bad.

After the photo shoot, I'll be able to send off the last batch of sold bags. And get working on finishing up my next ten... Then we'll see whether I get voted off the island, become the weakest link, or voted to the next level.

Then maybe I'll be able to get up on a stage and exclaim with zero inhibition:
You Like Me!! You REALLY LIKE ME!!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

A Few Burning Questions

If a child refuses to eat cheese, and most other items commonly found at a table for humans; Why does he consume chalk and cat food like a ravenous, repressed preacher at a Sunday brunch buffet?

Why do dogs swallow without chewing?

And why, after feeding time at the zoo, after repeating myself repeatedly to ridiculous proportions to not feed the dog; did the dog puke mass quantities of cheese?!

Notes to self: Next time strap the dog into the high chair. Teach her to chew her cheese before swallowing. Set the baby up in the porch with pet food and chalk.

After all, isn't there a book out there somewhere about not sweating the small stuff? And then something silly about how its all small stuff?!

Thursday, May 08, 2008

For a While She Tried to say Nothing; But Now She May Have Something Nice To Say

Yesterday I was feeling quite discouraged. Quite negative with splashes of angry, and a good, solid heaping serving of self-pity. I know what I said a few posts ago about not going with the blessing theory.... but.... I do recognize when a gal needs prayer from people bigger than herself to a God who is bigger than us all. And although there was nothing majorly wrong- no terminal diagnoses , no tsunamis, or blunt traumas.... there still was an impressive stack of small annoyances to wear a girl down. The flu(s). The breaking appliances. The bernina repair guy way behind on his work.

So, I dragged a million or fewer preschoolers a block or two over to the church and asked some people to please pray for me. They are always willing. And its so soothing to have those hands on my lap, and on my shoulders, and know that this support exists for someone with as little faith as myself.

We spent the afternoon laying down to the tune of Stuart Little and I wondered if I'd ever have energy again. So completely tired have I been, that I remembered well the challenges of growing fetuses with the accompaniment of a sour stomach. Bleh. Any of you woman who are currently growing small people- never let anyone minimize how much it takes out of you. Smack anyone who laughs and says something trite like: "Oh, you'll survive". Actually, if you like, I'd be willing to smack them for you.

But I digress.

One of the women from above- the kind with more faith than what I could offer... was brave enough to deliver her sewing machine to my house. She knew well that she was taking some sort of giant risk with this loan. She said that the machine had been serviced and that she'd whispered a prayer over it before leaving that singer at my house. The house that kills small animals, most plants, and anything that plugs in.

And so, there it sat in its case. I was too tired to take it out- which in my world means that I was very near terminal.

But something happened in the early evening, as I felt a wee bit of energy flowing into my bones. So, I took out the machine and sat down at her and began to sing with Lisa's Singer. I had bundled cut-out bag pieces during my sad interim before the flu, but after my bernina went belly up. I began very cautiously, not knowing what would break first- my spurt of energy, or the third sewing machine. But she whirred. And I got in the zone. I think I sewed from 7:00 til 11:00 pm. And Singer was still singing.

I don't like it when people mention a string of positive things and then finish off with "God is good". Not because God isn't good, but because if He is good, then He is good all the time. He's not just good when things are good with me. He's not bad if things are bad with me. It's really not all about me. But when good things happen, I like God to get the credit. I believe in the force of good. I believe that force is more powerful than its counterpart.

And I believe that God would want food aid to get to Darfur. Now we are hearing more reports about the world food shortage, and the UN needing to make the difficult decision to cut back food aid to Darfur by 40%. So, I'd really like to increase giving to Darfur by 40%. And I'm going to need God in all this.

That's just the way it is. Don't ask me to explain every detail of it, because I can't.
And that's the nice thing that I have to say today.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

There Are Times When A Little Bit of Phoney Would Come In Handy

Then when devoted mothers came to drop off their beloved babes early in the morning and they make the silly mistake of saying; "Are you feeling better?" Then, maybe I would know how to say something culturally appropriate. Something like: "Great, thanks- How are you?"; or "Fine, JUST Fine." Or, even if I could just smile demurely and reach greedily for their little cherubs.

But Noooooooooooooo. Nope, when a smartly dressed business woman delicately sets down her fragile offspring inside my showroom quality mudroom, then asks me how I am feeling, I tell the truth!

"no. I'm not better. The stomach cramps have developed into diahrea that makes me poop through the eye of a needle on the quarter of every sixty minutes. The vague pain at the top of my head has unleashed a torrent of nasal discharge and the kind of sinus pain that makes you wish you could suck the mucous out of your own head with a bendy straw. And the weakness! INTOLERABLE. You know, I dropped a twenty pound bag of flour on the hamster yesterday, its just too much weight for me to handle right now. I simply don't have the strength. And did I mention the gas?! Zowee!! I had the kids at the thrift shop and we nearly cleared the place out! Wow. I must have dead stuff in my large intestine.

But don't you worry! I am totally hypo-viral-genic. Your kids can't catch any of this stuff from me. On the other hand, they could get Brian's eye infection, or Micah's ear infection, or Arianna's violent stomach flu.....

Well, okay. So, I may have paraphrased that part about farting and nasal discharge, and pooping just a little. Only a very little though.

At any rate, on top of feeling a little tired, drippy, and stinky, I now have my guilt to contend with. Imagine. Sending a poor, vulnerable mother into her workplace after she entrusted her little angel into the care of a crusty, pale green caregiver.

Tomorrow:
Must find lipstick.
Must apply. (to lips)
Must learn to lie a little.

Monday, May 05, 2008

I Love Spring Cleaning





Well, I love it when other people spring clean. Then for a fraction of my hard-earned cash, I can get a washing machine, a stack of fabric, some awesome boy dress-up gear, clothes for the boy to attend kindergarten in, a basketball hoop, some dishes for Brian, AND some funky fridge magnets for the kids.
All without driving out of my town. Except the washing machine. But we got it for $75.00, so that cancels out the difference. (?)
Funny, I never saw any working berninas out there.


Saturday, May 03, 2008

She's Glad She Didn't Swallow The Blessing Theory

Whoever said that internet relationships aren't real never came around last night to witness me dead as a dog with the flu that I swear I caught from Judy over at Anybody Home. She apparently got the flu so bad that she hasn't even been able to post anything on her blog. And Judy always has something to post about.

It seems that my posts have mostly been reports about all the stuff going tets-up around here. The bernina. The washing machine. And now.... brace yourselves.... the Pfaff sewing machine that I borrowed from my endlessly helpful friend Cheri totally seized up and froze like a Manitoba garden hose in January. Then I myself went tets-up.

Friday morning the coffee didn't taste so good. Not that there was much oppurtunity to take that all in. I had to take Jane into the city for an appointment and had counted heads and carseats carefully to make sure the whole ordeal was doable. But then a child showed up who wasn't supposed to show up. And then a child who was supposed to show up never showed up. This is about the time I started remembering that I didn't feel so good. But not before another child showed up in a nightie and no clothes in her bag. It looked like it was going to be a swell day. And did I mention that Micah had an ear infection and Sam was moaning about his throat 24/7?

So, grinning ear to ear, and running a little late, we packed into the van and headed off to find an address in the big city. Thankfully, the kids were amazing. They squealed with excitement at every truck and car, barn and returning robin. There were toys at the orthotics office that were different from the toys at Joyce's house. There were juice boxes to enjoy. And the promise of a few minutes of joy at McDonald's playland if all went well with the clock.

And that was the next thing to go wrong.
As I stood in line to get the fries, and Jane stood guard in playland, a certain pre-schooler under my care climbed to the top of the structure and puked on the yellow slide.

I assume somebody else's kid went sliding down after her.
I know for sure that I didn't.
I hate those structures.
I hate the idea of all those grubby hands and bums and feet and mouths all crawling around on the same layers of plastic, trapped in tiny spaces that no sensible adult would ever crawl into to disinfect.
So, I didn't crawl into that pukehole either.

What I did was drive home........ No, weave home. I was soooooooooooo tired I could hardly stand it. And my stomach felt disgusting. I had to eat graham crackers to stay awake, but my stomach wasn't that grateful. Thankfully, all the kids felt exhausted as well, and fell asleep in their carseats. Then, thankfully, they stayed asleep as I carried them, one by one, back into the house. Then I collapsed onto a foamy on the floor and that's the last I remember of that.

I must have managed to regain consciousness enough to pass out snacks, change diapers, count heads, and kiss babies out the door at the end of day. But then I re-joined the washer, the bernina, the pfaff, and half my kids in the land of the dead. I dreamed about the three bears in the oven at the cabin trapped with a 6 foot 3 man goddess. They were behind the mashed potatoes, vintage curtains, and re-usable quilts, stashed up above the plastic platters. Then I woke up, and went upstairs to bed. Me, my nasty stomach, and my spinning head.

I've been told that if you do things like sew bags and send all the proceeds to a country far, far away, that "blessings" will befall you. I'm gladder now than ever that I never put a whole lot of stock into that theory. I'm sort of glad that I was doing it because I wanted to, mostly regardless of what was in it for me. Well..... that's not entirely true. I am human after all, and I don't mind positive attention.

For now, we've got a lead on a machine in Winnipeg that doesn't belch smoke.
Oh. And did I mention that Sam started puking into the garbage can this morning?
I may as well assume that the bernina was sold on the trading post, and that I'm about to sprout more facial hair, and that thrift shops have been banned.

But then again, just because I don't think that "blessings" are immediate, it doesn't mean that I don't know that life comes in rhythms. Right now there are some annoying inconveniences. Later, we'll have a series of exciting and positive stuff. But to think that we all don't have ridiculous amounts of blessings is just crazy. (Ever watch the news?) I just think that our motivation should be a little more community oriented than simply what we ourselves will get out of it.

You'll have to excuse me. I feel a nap coming on.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Her Mind Whirls a Lot Faster Than Her Washing Machine

Does anyone know of some reliable monkeys that are obedient and hardworking, and don't expect to get paid?

This morning, checking my e-mails, I was left with a twilight-zoney sensation that there was a giant billboard out there somewhere showcasing a really tantalizing Darfur bag and my name on it.

Then I remembered that I love the internet.
Which is a giant billboard with more than just bags or names on it.

Last night I had the privilege of inviting myself over to Michele's house to deliver her newly adopted bag- Button Flowers. She lives in this amazingly amazing large brick house near the center of the river-ous city, with tin ceilings and awesome light fixtures, and sweet boys, and a bird that they always remember to feed. And this morning, after I saw a request for a bag all the way from Spain, I figured out in my cleverly sleuthful ways, that Michele had given me a nod over at her blog. Hence the giant billboard.

This came directly on the heels of yesterday's e-mail requesting an interview for a piece in the Winnipeg Free Press. I'm wondering if they will have anything to photograph. I am wondering if I need to enslave a manager to help me remember what I said to whom. Maybe I need a blackberry. Or a tiny, portable sewing machine that I can operate with my left ear while I am driving Arianna to the chiropracter on her non- soccer nights while my clone watches Jane playing soccer in Beausejour, and Sam is learning how to share a ball with eleven friends in Niverville. Or maybe just get my bernina back from the hospital for a start.

I am chewing the insides of my lips to smitherines.
My floors are filthy.
I have piles of laundry due to the broken down washing machine, and the reliable appliance man who cannot come.
As far as I can remember, I still work full-time kissing other people's babies.
It's warm outside and we're making a lot of villages in the sandbox.
And I'm so very, very excited about being an artist. Especially because I sincerely believe that this is actually a God Thing.

And so, it's official.
I am never going to sleep again.