Wednesday, February 29, 2012


The day after the injury was a holiday, though I had intended to work a half-day.

I didn't go in, opting to stay on the couch with rotating ice packs and extra-strength Tylenol, and movies and sleep.

I caught up on the popcorn flicks I missed this year; Bridesmaids, X-Men, the delightful but ephemeral Midnight in Paris, and finished Downton Abbey on pbs. I inhaled comfort in story escape and complete rest.

Despite the rest, ice, and painkillers, the finger still throbbed, swelled against the stitches, tingled and numbed in turn as nerves readjusted to the injury. I discovered that although I was protecting the finger from major movement and impact, what caused the most pain were the small movements I was commonly used to; reaching, stretching, and mobilizing the rest of the hand for use. Reaching to pull on a sock caused more pain other major movements.

"[Pain] removes the veil; it plants the flag of truth within the fortress of a rebel soul."--CS Lewis

Pain is a funny thing. It clears your mind to some things, and blinds you to others. You see yourself more or less clearly at different points. It changes what you do, what your priorities are, and how you respond to things.
A friend from work who had sustained several similar injuries in his carpentry days told me that sometimes hands have funny "trust" issues after being injured by the other limb; that even though the injury was unmeditated and accidental in nature, if severe enough, the injured hand needs to be taught to trust the other hand again.

Pain creates a distance; no matter how it was caused, that distance must be considered and either intentionally recovered, or else the gate closed and marked "No Trespassing".

I watched 'The Tree of Life' later in the week, a new film that explores the heart of the Job narrative. I was struck by how deeply it resonated that the pain of grief or loss carries both intense memory and an intensified, particular sense of wonder at our context--our world. We go immediately to both 'the foundations of the world' and to our particular place in it that feels the loss most clearly. In a sense, we go immediately to try and resolve or understand the purpose of this point of tension.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


Reviewing the new recipe, I decided to take a shortcut and not use the food processor. Too many dishes to do, and honestly, I do a lot of the dishes at my house. One of the downsides of liking to experiment in the kitchen is the amount of dishes it creates.

I pulled out the bright orange, handy-dandy stick blender I bought last fall. I've given up on waiting for shower gifts in order to get good kitchen equipment and slowly begun collecting my own good quality kitchen supplies, this being the star until it was overshadowed by the fabulous KitchenAid mixer my parents bought for Christmas/my birthday this year.

 Maybe it resented being overshadowed.

In any case, my shortcut wasn't working very well, and the blade kept getting clogged by the raw cauliflower I was attempting to 'chop, but not puree".

The blender comes with an eject function to separate the blade from the motor so you can clean around the blade without danger. I did this several times until, hands slippery, I attempted to sweep around the blade with my left index finger *without* disconnecting the two halves of the blender. My right hand angled the mixer for a better grip, and with blinding quickness, squeezed just enough to engage the trigger button  while my finger was still negotiating the blade.

It's amazing how quickly your body takes over in the event of physical trauma. In a split-second, the rotating blade had connected with my fingertip more than a dozen times, the first rotation (my guess) chopping 1/3 of the way through the bone. A long shallow cut went across the dorsal (front) side of my finger and up to the inside, followed by three deep gashes through the finger pad, and multiple smaller cuts along the inside cuticle, including one cutting partially through the fingernail halfway up the nail. "Mangled" was the word my doctor used, and the ER doc who put in the stitches called it a jigsaw puzzle as he tried to decide which remaining islands of skin were large enough to support the end of each stitch.

For a brief second before the bleeding started, I stared at my now stark white fingertip, wondering, irrationally, "did I actually hit it?" and then the only thing I had to wonder for a while was how bad it was and how I couldn't tell, really, what had actually been hit under all that blood.

My friend Deni had been coming over for dinner and a movie. She arrived, and mercifully helped me clean up the kitchen and watch an episode of Mythbusters before my parents arrived to take me to the ER.

And then the four-and-a-half-hour process of paperwork-wait-paperwork-wait-numb wound-wait-wash wound-wait-xray-wait-antibiotic drip-wait-tetanus shot-wait-stitches-wait-wrap wound-wait-prescription-wait.

And then Vicodin and sleep. 

A lot of sleep, because apparently pain and adrenaline takes a lot out of you.

*note* while I am fascinated with the healing process, I am aware that stitches are in a word, shudder-inducing, and am saving you from a photographic depiction of my frankenfinger. You're welcome.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Thursday's Song: Nothing is Written (I'll Kneel Down), Mumford & Sons

I came home
Like a stone
And I fell heavy into your arms
These days of dust
Which we've known
Will blow away with this new sun

And I'll kneel down
Wait for now
And I'll kneel down
Wait for now

So break my step
And relent
You forgave and I won't forget
Know what we've seen
And him with less
Now in some way
Shake the excess

And I'll kneel down
Wait for now
And I'll kneel down
Know my ground

Now I'll be bold
As well as strong
Use my head alongside my heart
So take my flesh
And fix my eyes
That tethered mind free from the lies

And I'll kneel down
Wait for now
And I'll kneel down
Know my ground
And I'll kneel down
Wait for now

Raise my hands
Paint my spirit gold
And bow my head
Keep my heart slow

And raise my hands
Paint my spirit gold
And bow my head
Keep my heart slow

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Project: Britt and Dan's Guestbook

A heavy-hearted post yesterday, but I am happy to share one of my happier moments today.

A friend from work, Britt, asked me early last summer if I would create a guestbook for her wedding in September. We tossed around ideas for a few weeks. She liked the thumbprint idea, but wanted something a little more original. 

We decided to go with an UP-style balloon cloud, but Britt wanted a golf cart to anchor it, since she and Dan both like golf...well, Dan likes TO golf, and Britt enjoys a good book from the seat of the golf cart on a sunny day.

I went to work, and, sad to say, failed to photograph much of my process. My plan was to use a linoleum block stamp for the golf cart, so I spent a lot of my time designing a clean, print-friendly version (did you know there are not that many vintage-y golf cart designs out there? Apparently affording a golf cart is a relatively recent phenomenon.).

Dan also is a big fan of BMW's, so I eventually sketched up a wobbly design hybrid incorporating some BMW elements into a basic golf cart, transferred a reverse onto the linoleum block, and consequently ruined one of my (twelve-dollar Ikea) coffee tables with my enthusiastic carving.

I used a xylene transfer pen to carefully transfer a reverse image of their names and wedding date, and painstakingly stamped a centered print of the golf cart design. (Bonus: Britt got to keep the stamp!)

Since it's on a huge sheet of white rag paper, we did not want guests putting fingerprints where they should not go. I carefully cut out an oval shape of draft paper vellum to fit the basic area where the cloud of fingerprints would be. The vellum protected the rest of the paper...thank goodness, for many wedding guests had a heyday putting thumbprints all over the vellum layer!
The little instruction sheet says "Our friends and family lift us up. Please add your print to the party!"

Britt picked out a bright stamp pad, and I made a small sample image by way of instructions. After the wedding, she returned the guest book to me and I evened out the cloud of thumbprints and added the string lines. I found that adding a few delineating lines here and there also helped the overall definition of the image.

This was such a fun project with so many unique details to work out. I loved being a part of Britt and Dan's special day!

Maybe once Britt gets it framed, I'll get use a real camera and get a good photo!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Doubled by Wonder

"I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder." - G. K. Chesterton

I suppose--no, I know--that everybody has times of feeling down, blue, lonely, alone, marginalized, paralyzed, unnecessary, discouraged, wasted, jaded, bored, and possibly completely unnecessary. 

Here is where part of me would like to go into a litany of circumstances outlining why I have been going through just such a stage, and maintain that although I am healthy, wealthy, and have food, shelter, and clothing in abundance, I have some comparative right to feel so.

I could talk about the many younger friends I've helped, showered, and attended into marriage this year. I could mention the even more friends who seem to be in love all around me, forecasting yet another 'year'o' weddings', the complete unlikeliness that seems to be my reality that I have met or will ever meet That Best Friend, or the fact that I cannot seem to afford a vacation this year, when I feel so desperately at the end of myself and in need of rest. Myriad frustrations at home and work which I must deal with alone. I could also mention the facade of bitter withdrawal I've been building up as a form of protection, even against my closest friends.

2012fallwinter 258The fact is happiness is unnecessary. Reasons to cry will always be there. Especially in the car, driving in to work in the dark and away from work in the dark, driving home alone from anything, really. 

The fact is the best things are "unnecessary". Unexpected Delight. Delicious (and beautiful) food. Pretty clothes. Pretty shoes. Music. Movies. Jewelry. Wallpaper. Any beauty at all. Technically, we don't need the sun to set in a flood of gold over the Pacific below, under a rampart of rose and purple above. It is beyond need, it is beyond deserving, it is beyond necessity. It is something altogether different. 

I don't need to be happy. 

But maybe, if I can still wonder at a sunset, tear up at baptisms, delight at an adorable pair of shoes, dance at (yet another) wedding, revel in the scent of melting beeswax as I paint, laugh at a story, enjoy anything...If I can wonder, and be grateful for the chance to, then I can still be, unnecessarily, unnaccountably, happy.

PS: There is always hope.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Branch and Root

Sere and fallow winter--
land lies at rest but not at peace
Even the black-branched trees
are dissatisfied with new, broad gap
between their branch-tips and the sky's roof

I imagine them dreaming
of reversing their roots, and 
growing columned into the sky, 
rooting into that atmosphere
A canopy of roots; then, bursting the chains of soil
with new leaves below the ground,

an outcry against the decomposition of 
thousands of brother-leaves.

A murmuring rumor
of death's reversal
seems to whisper
through their tired and
waiting branches.

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Friday, February 3, 2012

New Year

Some holidays aren't difficult to figure out your social events as a Numero Uno. Some are. The two that always make things especially difficult for me are the Fourth of July and New Year's Eve.

There are always a few party invitations for New Year's Eve, but I've been feeling particularly claustrophobic, so I decided it was worth a drive to Seattle alone to trespass on the noted hospitality my dear friends Luz and Cole always extend to me. They are one of very few couples I can spend time with who make me feel very much less alone. I don't know how that works, but they should probably give lessons sometime.

We had a mellow, cosy time. Cole is a brewer, so he had a batch of cider ready to "pitch" on the stroke of midnight, and he even let me do the honors. Cole has been reading 'Watership Down', so he dubbed it 'Fiver Cider', and we'll get together to sample it in May.

2012fallwinter 205

We're developing a bit of a tradition. I spent New Years with Luz and Cole last year, as well, and thanks to Luz's amazing Sriracha Popcorn, started a year's journey of popcorn experimentation. We made two batches over New Year's Eve and New Year's Day, exchanging notes, strategies, flavoring ideas, and enjoying the results. I was also treated to more evidence of Luz's gourmet cooking...Chicken soup and bread for New Years evening dinner, popovers on New  Year's day breakfast, and openface avocado and turkey sandwiches for lunch.
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2012fallwinter 228

They are renting a big atrium of a house on Capitol Hill. It's full of gorgeous North and East light.

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And this is the view from their back porch.
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We took a walk on New Years Day, with Cole's tutorial on pipe-smoking to be the "Never tried this" New Year's Day tradition. Funnily enough, we ended up on a 2 hour ramble of a park, a water-tower, and a plant conservatory with nary a digital device between us, not even a watch. Time meant nothing. Now that's a tradition I'd like to continue.

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Thursday, February 2, 2012

Thursday Lyric: From This One Place, Sara Groves

I was about to give up and that's no lie
cardinal landed outside my window
threw his head back and sang a song
so beautiful it made me cry
took me back to a childhood tree
full of birds and dreams

from this one place I can't see very far
in this one moment I'm square in the dark
these are the things I will trust in my heart
you can see something else
something else

I don't know what's making me so afraid
tiny cloud over my head
heavy and grey with a hint of dread
I don't like to feel this way
take me back to a window seat
with clouds beneath my feet

from this one place I can't see very far
in this one moment I'm square in the dark
these are the things I will trust in my heart
you can see something else
something else

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

count the ways

Count the ways,
the paths we take to cross squares.
Move as many as you wish.
You, the Bishop
I, a Pawn.
Let me, let me
Count the ways
How do we love?