Tired-but-happy Tuesday

Sorry folks but you’ll have to wait until next week for the Suit of Pentacles. I was at a convention all weekend, including running two games, and I am still wiped out. It was a resounding success (well done to my dear friend Anna), something I suspected when my one-card pull for the weekend was the Three of Staves/Wands- successful cumulation of enterprises.

Anyway, so tired. So I’ll keep this short and sweet and grateful:

Things I’m thankful for right now: the Best Beloved (who took very good care of me this weekend) tea, a warm bed, early nights, newbies having a good time in my games, laughing with friends, enthusiasm, healing, moving forward, the borrowing of a deliciously warm and snuggly fleece-lined cloak from my best beloved, shenanigans with my friends, meeting new people, Pin Up Girl’s Erin dress, snuggling, shoulder/neck/head rubs, spontaneous Bohemian Rhapsody, loom band bracelets, the Parlour, SARK, recharged Kindle with new Francesca Lia Block goodness, friendly bus drivers, the Post-Punk Kitchen, having limbo music stuck in my head, big strong men cringing away from me because I had an open tub of glitter, knitting, taking a round off to set up for a game and more importantly nap, paneer makhani at the end of a long weekend, getting portrait photos with my man, seeing people play roles I’d written and it being just how I’d imagined, and delicious sleeeeeeep. 

And finally, a snapshot of what one of my flatmates is like:

*Flatmate W runs up behind me.*

“Ellen! Ellen! Ellen!”

*I turn around from where I have been walking with the Best Beloved.*

“Yes?”

“[Best Beloved] was looking for you.” *grins*

“You, sir, are a helper!”

Links of hope: Genie, you’re free

So unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you’ll have seen the sad news that Robin Williams passed away yesterday, aged far too young, and sadly it seems he took his own life. 

Even a cursory look at the news will tell you the above, and mention his publicist’s saying he had been struggling with depression. 

There have been many tributes to him, as is only right. I thought Veronica Varlow’s was very beautiful but then I think that about so many of the things she writes. 

Thus in place of the usual curated silliness, I’d like to present some links about depression. I call this links of hope because my hope is that they’ll be useful, whichever group you fall into.

If you’ve never experienced depression:

Ali Brosh explains what it’s like to have depression at Hyperbole and a Half (a famous post).

Here is a friend of mine’s take on the subject

Know someone who is experiencing depression? Buzzfeed published this very helpful guide on things you shouldn’t say to someone with depression (with positive alternatives)

If you are experiencing depression, or think you might be:

There are many tests to help see whether you might have depression and help you access support (because it truly isn’t something you can deal with on your own). This is one of the New Zealand sites with a self-test

If it’s not something you’ve experienced before, it can be confusing and obviously difficult. Here is Buzzfeed again with things nobody tells you about depression.

Most of all, if you’re experiencing depression, I have this to say to you. You’re not alone. Please, reach out to someone.

Here is a list of numbers to call if you live in New Zealand.  

Here are a load of American helplines.

Here is the Samaritans website

Wishing you all good mental health.

 

See the magic of life!

I spent yesterday unpacking/sorting out things at my new job, and today I meet the Best Beloved’s family for the first time, hence no Friday Five. I will instead just put out this thought from Pagan Connection. Happy Lughnasadh everyone!

Monsterful Monday: My Arcana Court, part one: Swords

From Jason Chang on Flickr http://bit.ly/1rW52L7Queen of Swords by Jason Chang Knight of Swords by Jason Chang Page of Swords by Jason Chang

 

 

 

 

I wanted to do something a little different for the next few Monsterful Mondays. It’s partly inspired by the Parlour, but also with the big move happening VERY soon, I’ve been thinking a lot about the people in my life.

In a recent Parlour, Veronica talked about the Minor Arcana Courts of the tarot deck (Page/Princess/Daughter, Knight/Son/Prince, Queen/Mother and King/Father of each suit- cups, pentacles, wands and swords), and how they represent people- people who are in your life already, people who are coming into your life, or even yourself (depending on where they appear).

It got me thinking about the people in my life who have affected me for the better, and the different ways they’ve done this. Those of you who have read me talk about my Best Beloved before will know that I see him as my King of Pentacles.  The more I thought about it, the more I was aware of how different friends represent the different tarot suits in particular ways. I’m grateful for their presence in my life, and I wanted to take this opportunity to shout it out.

I’ll start with my own Court of Swords. People who represent the Swords are about cutting through to the heart of the matter. They’ll give you the honest truth, they communicates clearly and get things done, they don’t back down. If you think about ‘rapier wit’, that’s part of what Swords seem to be about. Cutting through the rubbish and getting clarity and understanding.

My Page/Daughter/Princess of Swords (the gender on the card doesn’t necessarily track to the gender of the person) was my counsellor, who I started seeing last year after an anxiety attack (something I had never had before) combined with the worst depression I’d had.

He identified what was causing the depression, cut through my own excuses, delusions, limiting beliefs about myself, negative self talk- all of it, and then he gently helped me see what was really going on inside me. He planted the seeds (which is what Pages are often about) of a more positive way of being, and got me started on the way out of where I was. For that, I will always be grateful.

Sophie is my Knight of Swords. We’ve been friends for a few years now, and she’s one of the most grounded people I know. She is guaranteed to give you the honest truth, and when I’ve sought her advice she’s always given it to me straight, as well as giving me encouragement to take action to get past the bull and accept what I need to do. Knights are all about action, and I’m very thankful that she’s been there to give me a hard shove in the right direction when I’ve needed it.

Aja, who I’ve known for 14 years now, is my Queen of Swords. Like all my Swords she’s honest, doesn’t dance around the issues. She asks the questions that needs  to be asked, and gives the answer you need to hear, even if it’s not the one you want. She’s supported and nurtured me (as the Queens do) through difficult times, and (like all my Swords) is someone whose good opinion of something is extremely valuable. I’m so glad I have her in my life.

Finally, there’s the King of Swords, and that’s my best friend Ian. He’s got the mastery of communication, he gives the tough love but also the absolute steadfast support. He’s there for me, no questions asked, even when being there for me means saying something I won’t like.  He’s by turns cheerleader and guide, always with my best interests at heart, and I’m incredibly lucky to call him a friend, let alone my best friend.

Seven Logics for a Peaceful Life

Wise words indeed.

Tales from the Sick Bed

Here’s the thing about illness. There are cultural attitudes about it. Don’t believe me? Try getting sick abroad, whether it’s on holiday, or while you’re living in a foreign country. 

I grew up with very British ideas about being sick. Like so many other things, there is an element of keeping a stiff upper lip. Add to this a mother who’s a doctor, and thus the idea that only when I had a temperature and/or was throwing up was I ‘properly’ sick, and you have the concept that you have to drag yourself everywhere unless you’re really truly sick. All the advertising panders to that same idea, for example in this (badly dubbed into Geordie for some reason) advert for Lemsip:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xedQGLY8Ulw]

In my case, this has included walking all over Rome feeling unwell only to end up delirious with food poisoning, and the time I went to school with a sore throat only to be sent home. I even had a boss in the UK who told me (while I was on a temporary contract) “I love temps, they come in to work on their hands and knees if they have to”.

It wasn’t until I moved to New Zealand that I realised that not everyone in the world is the same. The first time I came to work with a cold, people were astonished. Going home on my boss’ orders that time, it felt odd- I was at home with just a cold! But then an odd thing happened…I felt better. Much sooner than I would have in the UK. 

In England, being sick is, in some ways, a sign of weakness- as in the Lemsip advert above. The business rival has tried to capitalise on the main guy’s illness, and failed because of the magic medicine. Very dog-eat-dog. 

In New Zealand, though, illness- at least physical illness- is just something that happens. You stay home, so others don’t get sick, and you rest, and you get better. That’s just how it works. 

Mental illness, of course, is another matter entirely, and one that merits it’s own post- so more on that next week. 

What attitudes have you noticed people have to sickness where you are? I’d be interested to know.

A Wednesday roundup- plane plague, moving and other shenanigans

So first, I have to apologise for the interruption to the regular posting schedule. I woke up on Monday morning with a death plague which laid me out for two days. I’m now into the lemsip-and-convalescing phase, a step up from lemsip-and-napping-on-the-sofa-while-flatmate’s-girlfriend-plays-Mass-Effect phase. I’ll continue the tutorial series next Tuesday but in the meantime to catch up, time for some gratitude and some linky funtimes!

First and foremost, I’m grateful that I’m now in the final stages of getting ready to move. Starting the new job, living in the same city as the Best Beloved, starting to explore said city, there’s a lot to be excited about.  

Watching: Gilmore Girls

I can’t help it. When I’m sick I mainline TV, and this time it’s been Gilmore Girls. Luke/Lorelai <3 forever. I’ve also been knitting a few hexipuffs between naps- never underestimate the healing powers of brainless knitting and TV that doesn’t make you think too hard.

Reading: WordPress for Beginners by Reeta Krishna

That is before the sickness knocked me out, and between chunks of ‘The Four Agreements’. It’s all to do with building the shiny new website for A Small Aubergine. What can I say? I’ve got dreams, and I never cease being surprised and grateful at the way that the Universe sends me the tools I need to start making them happen. 

Funding: The Atomic Tarot

It got funded! I’m very excited, though of course I’ll have to wait a few months to get the deck itself. But still, something to look forward to. 

Admiring: 

The ‘Men in Knitwear’ calendar by Stitch Seekers. Yes I know it’s July. But how did I not know this was a thing? “We don’t want to distract you from the knitwear so the models won’t be wearing loads of other clothes.”- LOVE. 

Convalescing has also led to some internet rambling. Veronica Varlow mentioned Faerie Magazine recently and I ended up downloading a digital back issue- some great writing and beautiful photography. I think I found a new treat! That in turn let me to Novel Atelier on Etsy, and this nautical tattoo silk cloth is now high up my wish list. 

Star Wars pancake moulds! I can’t buy them until after the move, but after the move…well, the Best Beloved loves Star Wars, and I love pancakes, seems like a match to me. And Offbeat Home suggests using them to shape watermelon pieces– bring on summer. 

In the meantime, bring on the blanket and the nap. Hopefully my regularly scheduled programme will resume tomorrow.

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Monsterful Monday

Yep, it’s that time of the week again. I hope you all had a lovely weekend. Mine involved the Best Beloved, breakfast in bed, not being booted out of bed for getting crumbs everywhere (those last two may be connected), delicious Italian food and karaoke in good company, many snuggles and finally seeing the Footrot Flats movie. I feel a little bit more Kiwi just being able to say it. Also it gives an interesting new spin on some Dave Dobbyn songs I love. I also ran into someone I first met 8 years ago- as in before I had officially moved to New Zealand, and it turns out we actually also ran into one another last year at a convention- it’s a very small world. All things to be grateful for, but here are some other highlights:

Casting!

We’ve started casting for a big LARP I’m helping run, and it’s one of my favourite parts of writing and running a game. I enjoy working out what characters to offer people, and then seeing which ones they take. It’s often quite surprising which ones people choose- more often than not it’s not the one we would expect. But it all builds up to the moment of seeing everyone walk into the room as their character, which is such a fun thing to see. I’m also putting together the cast list for another game I’m running at the same convention (apparently I don’t learn). I’m always grateful that people are excited about games I run, and casting is when that starts in earnest.

Using up the stash

I have quite a bit of yarn left that didn’t sell at the Social Wool Fair, and I’ve been browsing Ravelry for inspiration to use it up- and it has delivered! I’m quite keen to adapt Lee Meredith’s Krewe cowl into a blanket pattern, using up a whole bunch of my worsted/aran weight. I’m also going through my fabric stash, and coming up with plans for the fabrics I want to keep. I’ve got some navy polka dot fabric which I think is begging to become a Jorna Dress (though I plan to lengthen the skirt to just below the knee for that retro feel).

Hotting up on the job front

The destashing and decluttering is going on with a will again, as I’ve had a few nibbles on the job hunt in Auckland. I don’t want to say any more than that, but with the move becoming more likely to be in the near future, I want to get rid of as much as I can before it’s time to start packing.

Dinobots!

On Friday the Best Beloved and I went to ‘Transformers: Age of Extinction’. It was exactly as big, loud, and over the top as I expected. As we’re both children of the 80s (well, technically I’m a child of the 70s but all my memories are of the 80s) of course we were excited to see some of the toys of our childhoods coming back, and seeing it together meant we could relax and just get on with enjoying the movie because we both knew the other person was as unironically thrilled by the prospect of a giant robot smackdown as we were. He was looking forward to seeing Hound brought to big-screen life, and for me it was the Dinobots. While I was a little disappointed that Grimlock didn’t talk (because what are the Dinobots without pronouncements starting “Me Grimlock”?), they were still epic and cool in the way that only robotic dinosaurs (or robots, or giant monsters) can be. What can I say? It’s a bit of my childhood. And they still make the proper transforming noise. These are things that matter when you grew up with something.

And the little things:

A lovely thank-you card, Wellington Library’s awesome selection, delicious cheese, exploring, crumpets, cups of tea, hexipuffs, a warm bed, and missing some of the really bad weather by being indoors.

What about you? What are you grateful for this week?

Friday Five: Five great places to get a retro sewing/knitting fix

Subversive Lesbian Anarchic Knitterseriously, how can you not love a site with a name like that? And she has some utterly beautiful vintage knitting patterns available, for free, on her site.

Mrs Depew Vintage has patterns from a range of eras, all downloadable and print-at-homeable. While there are quite a few for ‘intermediate’ sewers, the styles are just beautiful, and a good way to learn some new skills. At least I think so.

If you want to go REALLY retro (or you have a thing for Steampunk), then Truly Victorian is the place for you. I’ve made several of their patterns- they take a LOT of fabric but the results are gorgeous. If you’re serious about the Victorian look (at least the womenswear) the bustle petticoat is a must. And if you have a thing for trim, Victorian is the era for you. Basically it’s Step One: add trims until you think there’s probably too much and too many, Step Two: add more trim, Step Three: Fabulousness. See how I give you an excuse to buy more trim? Or maybe to use a bunch of the trims you already have lying around- if you’re the sort of person who HAS trims lying around. I don’t assume- I read a craft magazine once that presented a project for “your stash of gorgeous vintage silk handkerchieves.” Who has a stash of vintage silk handkerchieves? (If you do, then yay for you. It’s nice to have a stash of something.)

For a little knitting snack, how about this gorgeous polka dot ascot and beret from ZilRedLoh? Haven’t you always, when someone asks “what are you knitting?” wanted to be able to answer “an ascot”? Of course, it’s also fun to be able to answer “a ball gag”. I know this from experience. But it’s not so retro-chic.

And finally, for an easy way to retro-ify your outfit (admittedly this won’t work if you’re wearing a onesie, or a tracksuit, but it would probably work on jeans and a striped top, for example), here’s a tutorial for making a retro turban out of an old t-shirt. Retro AND waste-not-want-not upcycly goodness. I’m planning on making one of these very soon, and accessorising with a fabulous brooch or maybe some feathers. Or both. Because why not get all Norma Desmond with it? Exactly.