Wednesday, 29 February 2012

feb 29, 2012

it's a leap day today, so i figured i might as well do a project that's about making an important leap. i had the perfect thing in mind: a mending project - which is really more of an alteration project - that i've been meaning to do for a few months now.

at the mr. leather ottawa competition in november, my friend s.p. gifted me with this amazing leather bra that actually fits me! so exciting! (the small-boobed wonders of the world will know what i mean - so hard to find a leather bra if you're barely a b cup!) i just needed to shorten the band at the back because it was too wide for me by a few inches.

i cut out the extra elastic in the back so that the clasp would still be centred, pinned either side of the clasp to its respective side and got sewing. i restitched it in a slow-and-steady, methodical way over the period of about an hour. i took my time placing the stitches and made sure everything was well-anchored and solid.

you may be wondering what altering this hot leather bra has to do with mending? well, it's symbolic. for various reasons i won't get into here, i've had a pretty difficult relationship with the leather scene over the last year-and-a-half. it used to be fun and care-free for me, but some really fucked up dynamics had replaced simple, pervy goodness with complication. it's been confusing and, sometimes, pretty awful.

but, instead of stewing and steaming about all the various things that i've heard or seen or experienced that have led to these complicated feelings, i want to return to the reasons i got involved in the community in the first place: it felt right and hot and powerful. that was back in the early 2000s...god, how time flies! anyway, back then, i got involved because it was yummy. there's a part of me that is so deeply satisfied by kink play and D/s when the chemistry's right. when the chemistry's wrong, it's a disaster. when people try to extend their influence outside their agreed-upon dynamics or can't keep their commitments or decide not to operate within established boundaries, also a disaster. but i figure i'll steer clear of that bullshit and stick with the hot fun.

as of today, i'm returning to leather on my own terms - in a way that fits me - starting with this gorgeous bra. which i can't wait to wear.

here's to starting fresh and leaving the crap behind!

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

feb 28, 2012

it was a day of travel for me. i took a rideshare with a couple of guys i didn't know, and i was reminded for the umpteenth time how much rideshares and hitchhiking do for my faith in humanity.

it's the little things about it: the driver trusting us with his car while he ducks in for a pee break at a rest stop, the guy in the back seat accepting my extra banana with glee, our curiosity about each other, finding how different we are and where we overlap ("i love that band, too!!!"), the consideration and willingness to compromise, talking about our lives and relationships and jobs and dreams. we have no obligations to each other. there's no reason we have to show interest or ask questions - not really. the whole thing is pretty beautiful, and it seems to always pan out the same...

1. the small voice in my head wonders if i should trust these random strangers.
2. i wonder if i have anything in common with these people.
3. my reticence gives way to stories and bonding and fun.
4. i think to myself, "we should all do this more."
5. my heart gets all blushy pink and hopeful from deciding to be open instead of shrinking back and protecting myself from some ambient threat.

after a dozen years, you'd think by now i would remember that this is how it always goes! *laugh* or at least remember that sharing space and time with strangers helps me to remember about the potential fun and connection in every person. my experience today definitely mended some of the defensiveness that's been lurking in my heart.

so totally lovely. i'm glad i didn't take the bus.

Monday, 27 February 2012

feb 27, 2012

mending holes. we've all done it. patching bare walls after you move your stuff out of a place you once called home.

i was doing this for a friend last night, and i was struck by the poetry of that act. i think that extending the possibility of a fresh start to a new tenant is sort of beautiful. a fresh, blank canvas to work with. sure, the new person will make their own holes, scrape the floor and, in countless other ways, leave their mark on the energy and walls and floors and doors and windows that make up a place; a home. but they certainly deserve a good start, nonetheless.

i decided to stay over at my friend's last night after we were done packing and sorting and patching. it was my friend's last night in her home, which she used to share with her partner of 10 years. as i was falling asleep, i was thinking about how her bed used to be mine. i shared it with my ex annie. when we broke up, neither of us wanted the bed because it was too loaded. we had bought it together, with the intention of it being our bed for a long time to come. at the time, i knew my friend needed a new bed desperately, and she didn't seem to mind its history. perfect. at least i thought so at the time.

as i was laying there last night, i was thinking about inheritance and the energy within things - like with a new apartment: inheriting patched versus damaged walls, freshly painted walls versus dingy, clean floors versus dusty. when something is new to you - like an apartment or clothing or furniture - it should feel and seem new, yes? effort should go into it being tended and mended by the previous owner before it's passed on. i felt guilty that i hadn't put any energy into that when it came to the bed, and i wondered if it would keep on having a legacy of breakups. i felt sad about that. i really hope not. can the legacy of a thing be turned around, made different? well, i'm going to try.

as the bed goes to a new owner today, i send with it these wishes:
that what has been damaged be repaired
that the sadness it has supported and absorbed will now disperse
that, from now on, it give rise to rest and love and pleasure and fun
that nothing that belongs to others influence the new owner or her relationships ♥
so mote it be

Sunday, 26 February 2012

guest post from bitsofstring

i've been regularly following the mending year, which made me reflect on a pair of very threadbare lobster chaw mittens i knit for myself 8 years ago.... they've sprung several holes and have been nearly worn through in multiple places. despite being a knitter for a long time, i've never attempted darning anything before. i was just planning on throwing out these mittens. but i got out some yarn and plunged into darning, instead. here's my first attempt: closing the large hole that had sprung in the forefinger part of the mitten.
initially, i'd thought about trying to find matching wool, but realized i like the contrast of the patched part being made of totally different wool - a gesture to really pointing out the place where fraying happened.

sarah p.

feb 26, 2012

i don't know if this really counts as mending, but i super-duper like the idea of it, so i'm going to share. i was cleaning out the fridge a couple days back and came across a sad and wilted bunch of kale stuffed all the way at the back. i sighed and felt sad because i hate wasting food. i resigned myself to composting it, but then i remembered that, last month, i was able to revive a bunch of asparagus by snapping off the ends and putting them in water for a day. it was an idea that occurred to me because i sometimes do that with cut flowers to make them last longer. worth a try, right? one of the side-effects of the mending year is noticing how much it's cutting down what i waste - on pretty much every front: food, clothes, friendships, moments to collaborate or help or apologize. so i cut off the ends of the kale stems and plopped them in this glass of water. the greens have risen again like jesus - a real produce miracle! i am *so* putting kale in my dinner tonight :)

ps: if you drink enough water, maybe you'll be reborn, too! hydration is what jesus would have done.

feb 25, 2012

tonight, i'm going to mend the handles of a canvas bag that my friend l.w. brought over to the apartment yesterday. it looked like a lost cause, the way both straps were completely severed. but i knew that with some heavy-duty stitching, it could still be used. the mend would definitely be visible, mind you - what with having to match up the frayed edges and the tears not being on a seam where the stitching would be less noticeable. but i'm okay with that.

in this project so far, i've been remarking on what a stark difference there is between fixing and mending. fixing something is easy - you swap out whatever is broken for something that's not broken. in this case, you buy a couple new straps for the bag, remove the old ones and stitch on the new: badda-bing badda-boom - it's fixed.

sometimes, replacing broken parts with new ones is necessary for safety - as with cars or bikes or strollers or rock-climbing equipment. in my mind, things that carry people or keep us safe fit under this category, but mending is a different creature. mending is taking what you've got and making it work using the existing parts, including whatever has cracked or torn or split or come apart. sometimes, you add a patch or reinforce it. but you don't generally swap out something flawed for something brand new.

mending isn't always possible - it's good to be practical and realistic about that rather than single-minded and dogmatic. but mending is a constant in life, and i like working with that idea in this blog. we gotta take what we've got and find a way foward. that's why this is the mending year and not the fixing year.

truth be told, i tend to bristle against the idea of fixing. it offends me in a way. it seems to me that when someone wants an object (or a person) to appear like new, there's some level of denial about what has happened. fixing, to me, feels like a magic wand we want to employ to pretend the event that led to the damage didn't happen.

after my accident, people kept telling me "you look good!" they focused on assuring me that my appearance (my face) ended up unchanged despite the severity of my injuries. they thought i was lucky to appear as if i hadn't been through the experience. except that i have. i have been through the experience. i experienced the bruises and breaks and cuts and swelling and bleeding and excruciating pain and the fear and the side-effects of the medication and the breathing problems and having my face glued together and my nose stitched up and the endless fucking doctors and the endless fucking x-rays & ct scans and the ultrasounds of every one of my organs and the pleurisy and more painkillers than i've ever taken in my life and the mistrust of my body and the joint stiffness and losing my range of motion in my right side and the ankle problems and the hip problems and the crackling knees and the back spasms and the physio appointments and the lost income and the nose surgery and the experience of coming to understand that i'm actually mortal. i can and will die.

i've been utterly changed by all of that. how could i possibly pretend that none of it has happened? why would i want to? i don't know...maybe it helps you to feel better about the whole thing, to look at me and see the same face as before. maybe the accident wasn't so bad, after all? maybe it's less threatening to think about it that way. or maybe you thought it would be helpful to me to hear that? i'm not sure. it's hard to say because i'm not in your head.

i actually don't mind people seeking comfort and reassurance wherever they can find it, but i do wish that it wasn't so wrapped up in the "just like before" thinking. i mean, did they really think i was unchanged because my face looks about the same? was that the thing that made me lucky in this whole scenario?

until time travel is invented, going back to a point in time before something happened won't be possible - at least not completely. there's always something visible that carries over from the experience: a scar, a mark, a stain, a strain, a cost, a memory. fixing tends to focus on making those things invisible. mending works with what's happened.

personally, i think it's better to acknowledge your experiences - talk about them when they come up in conversation, acknowledge the effects, confide in friends. there's relief in that, and healing. like i've said before, i embrace visible stitches, puckering fabric, frayed edges. that's not to say that i want to mend things badly - i don't. but sometimes, like in life, it's not possible to mend things back to the original. maybe i'm being too poetical about the whole thing, but that's where i stand on the matter. mending, not fixing. let it be imperfect and real and true.

Friday, 24 February 2012

feb 24, 2012

i got home from a storytelling show tonight feeling like listening to music. when i passed by the big table in the living room, i saw this mixed cd called puzzle pieces that was addressed to lili from one of our mutual friends, t.w.

it had instructions on it. "when you need a hug: 1) turn on 2) hit repeat 3) heal" i was curious what was on it. i guess when i read the word "heal", i figured it would be full of soft, sweet, heart-melty music. but it wasn't. mostly, it was kick-ass rock and riot grrl tunes like terrorist by heavens to betsy. it instantly threw me into a doing mood. i did the dishes, cleaned and organized the bathroom, sorted papers, put things away, threw things away, recycled and took out the compost.

while i was doing all that, i thought about how healing isn't always about stillness and reflection and feeling your feelings. sometimes, it's about getting shit done. clearing away the clutter and visual noise so you can think and feel clearly. this music + cleaning binge was a much-needed dose of mending.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

feb 23, 2012

another edition of mending for others! while i was straightening up the apartment yesterday, i came across a pillow with a 4-inch opening in the seam. i think it was just from wear.

there was no zipper in the case to take the pillow case off. i couldn't do an invisible stitch on this one, so i stitched it up by hand with a back-stitch. it was tricky to hold the fabric together while stitching so the line is a little wonky, but not too bad.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

feb 22, 2012

it was a mending for others night tonight. n. has a navy blue tshirt that's getting the worse for wear - a small hole appeared near the shoulder seam recently.

i sewed it up using a sort of darning technique on the hole. all better. there's a bit of puckering in the area, but overall a pretty good mend:

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

feb 21, 2012

the experience of doing falling open has been hard on my body. i think, partly, because it's such an emotional thing to perform. the play is about sexual abuse and, while only part of it is my own personal story (part is fiction and other parts are taken from a number of other people's stories, as well as from my book-based research), it's a very involved performance. i've noticed that i feel a pull to be totally present throughout the show, even if my energy is low. i dredge whatever energy i have to bring to it. i feel committed to this project in a way i haven't been before, and that has benefits and costs, i suppose.

one of the costs of the show? the last few days, my body has been locked up and tense and sore - unbelievably so. pain was radiating from my neck all the way down to my wrist on my right side. heat and massage and other stop-gap things that i was doing were only bring temporary relief. i was wincing with pain whenever i made sudden movements. so, today, i decided that i was going to visit the chiropractor and get some of the kinks out of my back and neck.

you wouldn't believe how much my spine moved during the adjustment. it was like the power went back on in my head. i could move my neck again - fully, from side to side. my pelvis felt like it was in a better position. she adjusted my jaw and one of my ribs. i can breathe past my chest now. i feel more; i feel better and more open in my body. i feel more open in general. softer. it's amazing how much emotion can get you out of whack. how much the body can start reflecting thought and emotion. i thank you dr. g for mending me today. it felt good to send some tlc my body's way after all that has moved through it these past few weeks.

one of the benefits of the show? i'm having the most beautiful conversations about it and receiving amazing letters. one woman wrote me last week to say that, after seeing the show, she got up the courage to confront her abuser. she said she wouldn't have had the courage otherwise. i've heard from others who have taken other (perhaps less dramatic?) steps to heal the past or themselves or their relationships. it's so beautiful to hear those things. i'm reminded that art is powerful. thank gawd we have it in our lives. i know the costs are worth it. beauty is never perfect, after all. never without its difficulties.

feb 20, 2012

so it turns out that my mend from february 9th didn't really work out. n. was in town again this weekend (and part of this week) to tech my play and have a visit, so i offered to redo it - a little more thoroughly. this time, i used the same upholstery thread, but i created a continuous bind from hole to hole rather than individual knotted loops. should be heartier!

feb 19, 2012

maybe it's the nice weather that made me choose this halter top to mend today? it's a summer staple for me, and on one side of the shirt, there was a little nubbin of elastic showing through:

it's a bit of a rough mend, but it'll do :)

feb 18, 2012

today, i was walking by my old place. the place i was living at last year when i got into a serious bike accident. at the time i wrote off my beloved bikey (pictured at left), my lifemate of seven years, because it was mechanical problems that caused the accident in the first place. i was so scared about the possibility of going through anything like that accident again that i planned to get a brand-new bike that may not be as charming or fun or me but it would at least be safe and dependable. a good bike to bridge me back into biking.

the thing is, though, i never did go out and get that new bike. in fact, i haven't been back on a bike since. i also never had the heart to take bikey to the bike dump to be pilfered for parts. as i passed by my old place today, i was amazed to see that bikey, which had been unlocked and simply leaning against the front porch for the last six months, was still there.

wow. how could i not take her home with me and give her a mend? she's down in the basement now, waiting for my ministrations. i think it'll be therapeutic. this will be a long-term project because so many of the parts are broken from the accident. happily, my friend m. told me about this local community bike shop where i can fix it myself and learn about bikes at the same time. it's called re-cycles.

i'll post progress reports on here from time to time and, when i'm done all the parts replacements and repairs, i'm going to invite you all out with me for my first bike ride since march 31, 2011. eee, i'm so excited to have bikey back in my life!

feb 17, 2012

today, my mending was done for me - so sweet! a piece of the set for my play, falling open, was damaged during rehearsals. i don't have "after" photos, but he basically reattached and reinforced the dangly rope that you see here with an extra plastic bracket. good as new - just in time for the second weekend of our run. thanks, adrian! :)

feb 16, 2012

well, my friends, the run of my play has come to an end. it went really well. forgive my absence from here - again! the whole thing was pretty demanding on my energy and time. well worth it, though. i took a couple days to recoup afterward and nap and chill out before starting up on blogging again.

i'm going to post on a bunch of different mending projects all in one night tonight - hope you enjoy!

the first mend is to one of my favourite hoodies. my queer n dirty sweatshirt, by an nyc designer named parisa parnian of rigged out/fitters, has this rad screenprint on the back of it:

besides the amazing art, i love this hoodie because it was available in a youth large - which suits my femme sensibilities nicely. i don't like loose clothing, but i like hoodies. i was thrilled to find a whole range of sizes from youth large on up. i tried to look for rigged out/fitters online to link you all to parisa's awesome gear, but her old website is down, and all the references to her butch and femme clothing lines are out-dated. i'm not even sure if you can get these anymore - does anyone know?

anyway, my sweatshirt was developing a hole in the arm... i decided to fix it up:

easy as pie! i love when that happens.

i would also add this is the first time i'm using my charming and wonderful vintage mending kit, which my friend a.w. sent me last week. see my valentine's day post for pics and the full story! love it, a.! it's so lovely!

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

feb 15, 2012

today, i've had to face some pretty unpleasant realities, so tonight's post is all about comfort food. namely: tapioca pudding from scratch.

for the most part, i used the usual ingredients - cream, milk, tapioca pearls and sugar...

but i added something extra special to make it even better - edible glitter!:

look at it glimmer and shimmer in the pic below!

any dessert that does that gets an a+ in my books.

i'm going to sign off now to eat my glittery goodness and zone out, care of a little internet tv. remember to treat yourselves extra-well on hard days, ok? i'm doing my best to do that and would be so uber-pleased if you followed suit!

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

feb 14, 2012

what a charming day this has been so far! i got up early, went for a walk and enjoyed the wandering. i scheduled my annual physical for today because i figured what better day than valentine's day to send some self-love and body tending my way. i was thinking of dropping by the chiropractor's afterwards, but she wasn't open until the afternoon today. maybe later?

so i get home after my wandering, and my friend lili is waiting in the kitchen, with this big grin on her face. "you have a package! open it!" so i do, and it's this totally rad vintage zip-close sewing kit that the lovely a.w. bought for me on etsy! (sidenote: notice how matchy it is with my outdoor wintery gear!) her card said, "i love the mending year. i want to help you make it as amazing as possible."

best. valentine's. gift. ever. thanks for the mending gear, a.!! so charming! i love it!!!!!

feb 13, 2012

it has been a great night in the realm of mending because, tonight, i spent hours and hours talking through a nearly lost friendship. it was on life support, this friendship. and neither of us know how it had gotten that bad. we have our theories, of course. we've both drawn and redrawn the map of how we got here from there. here being cold, awkward distance. there being the land of laughing and confiding and relying on each other and talking for four or more hours at a stretch.

you know those friendships that are so long-held and solid that you take for granted that anything could ever happen to them? and then some kind of unanticipated social disaster strikes, and you feel like one of those fools who stayed put while a hurricane ravaged the neighbourhood? that arrogance about untouchability. we've been friends for 12 years, though, so i guess some of that confidence is earned.

by the end of 2010, because of tensions that were rooted in our relationships, we had started to drift. by early 2011, there was a growing tension between us. by mid-2011, we barely spoke anymore. and sometime around the beginning of this year, we emerged bewildered from the rubble of our changed lives and both started feeling a need to reconnect. there was something that was starting to call to both of us. it was time.

we've been creeping back into each other's lives since then. brief conversations, a favour here and there, a spontaneous friend date where we kept the conversation topics light. both of us were afraid, you see, to admit just how much we missed each other. and when i say we missed each other, i mean that in two ways. we missed being in each other's lives, yes, but we also missed the other person being themselves enough to recognize in them the friend we had once known. it wasn't just a case of absence. we had both drifted so far from any recognizable version of ourselves that we didn't know how to relate. (like i said, 2011 was hell on wheels. loss and fuckery abounded.)

i went over to help her pack tonight. to pack up the kitchen she had shared with her recent ex, who is also a friend of mine. it felt really good to help her. she helped me out last week, as well. i was running behind in painting that i needed to get done for the set of my play, and she came over late with another friend to help me finish up the job. there was something communal in that, in us getting back to helping each other that helped the ice in our hearts start to melt.

getting her friendship back is the best kind of gift. all along, i've been wishing we had a map to figure out how to get back to where we used to be; to find the buried treasure...but i guess all we needed was to start the mending process and trust that we would find somewhere else. a new place of friendship that could hold all the change and lessons from the past year-and-a-half.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

feb 12, 2012

the last thing i'm going to do tonight has to do with a little bonding. i've been so busy that my kitties haven't been getting as much love & as many cuddles as they deserve - particularly the sweet and shy caramel (pictured at left). so the mending task i've set for tonight is to focus in on cuddles and bonding with my delightful femme cat.

feb 11, 2012

this next task has been on my to do list for WEEKS.

we're deep in the heart of winter here in ottawa, which means lots of slush, snow and salt. my daily wear boots have really been suffering from that particular combination, as you can see from the shot i've included above.

a friend told me recently about a magic fix for dissolving and drawing out salt from leather - mix a solution of half vinegar and half water and use a soft cloth to wipe the leather. it pulls out the salt without being too tough on the boots.

looks like it works! :)

tip! i had the most success when i re-dipped the cloth into the solution often, so it was always pretty fresh and not all full of salt.

feb 10, 2012

my next mend is to one of the main props in my play - a doll that i interact with throughout the show. she's been through rehearsals and shows since may, so a couple of things have started to get the worse for wear.

i noticed just before we opened on friday night that the join between the plastic and fabric part of her right arm had come undone - it has since started to turn into a yawning chasm... i figured it was about time to take care of it. a little crazy glue and some patient application of pressure, and it's all fixed up!

feb 9, 2012

oh my dear dear darlings...sorry about the neglect! i launched my show this weekend, and it was a lot of work to get rolling. i have a bit of a reprieve right now, so i'm taking the opportunity to catch up on some things that have been waiting to be mended and attended to. i'm going to do a bunch tonight to fill in the days i missed.

the first is a mending for others project. my dear n. was in town this weekend and he showed me the most dilapidated notebook:

i insisted on mending it. i took some good, solid upholstery thread - which is what i had on hand - and looped it through all of the holes. loose enough so he could turn the pages but tight enough so the book held together.

the result was pretty good in the end - for an improvisation, anyway!

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

feb 8, 2012

there's this beautiful part about having a broken heart that people don't talk about much - how deeply you feel everything. i'm feeling the events of my life in technicolour these days, at a depth i rarely experience. the gratitude i feel about the beauty of fluffy, glistening snowflakes under streetlights is as deeply felt as the grief at having lost so much last year.

everything is so big and round and full. it's intense and gorgeous, and i'm feeling grateful for this intensity of feeling. i mean, sometimes it spills over in moments when i want to be able to hold it together, but that only makes me more human. i'm willing to be more human. my friend s.z. has this tattoo of an anatomical heart on his forearm to remind him to wear his heart on his sleeve, and i think he's onto something with that. it's a rare circumstance, in my life at least, where there isn't some kind of compassion that arises from witnessing another person's emotion. in these moments, we realize there are dimensions in a person's life that we're not aware of and might not understand. that there's a complexity of circumstance that is informing each moment. it helps us to be more holistic and kind.

so, tonight, i'm mending my relationship with emotion. in fact, i'm going a step further and celebrating the bigness of feeling that's rolling through my heart like a prairie storm these days. bring on the joy, bring on the tears, bring on whatever is real. i want to feel it. sometimes, it means a flash flood and sometimes a hurricane, but sometimes it brings calm, open spaces and dazzling light. i want it all.

feb 7, 2012

gah! sorry, people. i was too sickified to do a post last night. i've been exhausted. but thanks to my short break from this and a few others things, i've had a good rest. yay self-mending!

Monday, 6 February 2012

feb 6, 2012

tonight is all about mending myself. me and my head cold are going to focus on getting better. i'll be back tomorrow with my regular posts, hopefully with less snot!

my formula for tonight will be:



 and kitty cuddles...

Sunday, 5 February 2012

feb 5, 2012

tonight, i did another small mend to the props and costumes for my one-woman show, falling open. if you're just starting to follow this blog, i'm doing all these mends in prep for a run that starts this friday night. an added bonus was that tonight's project also doubled as a mend to one of my most prized possessions - a gorgeous three-quarter length badass flared leather trenchcoat:

this divine little thing is part of my costume for a scene about halfway through the show. the right-hand pocket has a big hole in it where it has come away from the seam, which has been a particular pain in the butt during rehearsals since i have to quickly fish out a prop from said pocket and my hand keeps going through to the lining on the first reach.

here's a before shot of the pocket. it's hard to see, but almost half of the pocket has already come away from the seam:

the suppliers that i could find here in town were all completely out of leather needles! (scandalous!) so i had to use a regular needle, but with a few minutes of stitching with my trusty new upholstery thread...

...i again have a pocket of true integrity, ready for significantly more effective prop storage!

i created an invisible stitch by sewing inside the pocket until i got to the very end. the mend isn't perfect, but what is? i'm certainly much happier with it now!