“Animals produce signals coded in sounds, scents, songs, dances, rituals and language. Humans use language so much that it swamps our own ability to recognize subtle and not-subtle nonverbal signals that we ourselves continually display and respond to….The world is awash in layers and waves of communication.” Carl Safina Becoming Wild
I already had the next pieces of fabric of my Owl Quilt laid out when I left to meet Jackie. So when I got back home aftward, I made a few adjustments and sewed it together.
Then I added a strip of fabric to the right side of the quilt and the plaid border.
This is what I’m thinking happens next…
….but who knows. In the morning I might see and feel something different.
Before the pandemic, Jackie and I would have lunch pretty regularly.
We’d meet at a cafe in Greenwich, and share a piece of raspberry pie at the end of our meal. The last time we were there, sometime in the fall, we closed the umbrella at our table to get as much sun as we could and keep the wind from blowing it over.
Jackie is the one person we had to our house a couple of times for lunch during the pandemic. Because it felt safe and necessary. She was, in essence, the one member of our family that we invited in.
It was only a couple of lunches, but I know they kept me going. They were a semblance of normalcy.
Today Jackie and I had lunch again. Because she’s a nurse, Jackie’s been vaccinated and since I go very few places it felt safe going to her house.
I picked up burritos from Moe’s and we sat across from each other at her dining room table. We talked about our lives, art, movies, writing and books as we watched the birds and squirrels at the feeders out her window.
After lunch, we went to LARAC, an art gallery in Glens Falls where one of Jackie’s prints was in an exhibit. We were the only ones there, besides the receptionist behind the desk.
I was as hungry to look at art as I was for the burrito that I had just gobbled up.
We discussed each piece, commenting on what we liked or didn’t. One still life of a crocus, a jar of honey, and a lightbulb touched us both the same. The artist was able to bring these three disparate things together in a way that made them glow as if they were holy.
Jackies print was one of the last pieces we saw.
The image of a juniper branch was coupled with her poem “Nor’easter“. There’s unexpected hope in her poem with the coming of winter. Hope at a time when there was so much darkness not only in the season but in politics and the worsening pandemic.
Jackie and I met each other when we worked together in a frame shop, over 20 years ago. We lost touch for about ten years then just happened to see each other at a concert five or six years ago.
Most of the time when I meet a friend I haven’t seen in years and get back together with them, I remember why it is that we lost touch, to begin with. But with Jackie it was different. I found we had even more in common than when we first knew each other. And something deeper too. A shared experience even though we come from different parts of the country and have led very different lives.
Family is the word that comes to mind when I think of Jackie. Family at its best.
Jackie wrote this about her poem “Nor’easter”…
“A short poem about the strange and new experience I’m having, of (for the first time in over twenty years) looking forward to the quiet comfort of winter. With all the stress and weirdness of the world happening these days, oddly it feels like the cold and snow might bring some small, but much-needed relief.”
I found this shedded snake skin in the woodpile this morning. I feel like I’m so familiar with what these, I wanted to be able to see it differently. So I took some pictures of it with my macro lens.
The shredded skin is so delicate and papery, but in this photo it looks more like bone and honeycomb.
I’m happy to end this blogging day with Merricat’s smile.
My day was filled with shipping Scrap Bin Potholders, postcards, magnets, and paperwork (sales tax is due in March) and panic (which I wrote about).
I also have an order that should be ready soon of Shield of Words postcards and posters. But, like many small businesses, our local print shop is having some trouble due to the pandemic. Hopefully, they’ll be back soon.
I lay in bed and the fear rose up in me. For the first time in my adult life I did not send my brother a birthday card. I haven’t spoken to him for years, but still the cards at Christmas and on birthdays were sent and arrived, a white flag in the silence. A nod to the unspoken rules of the family.
I’ve been breaking the family rules for some time now and each time I do, it continues to frighten me.
I didn’t think much about this one, I just didn’t do it.
And then the fear came in the night.
My instinct was to run from it. Divert my attention, distract the menacing hum gathering in my body. Instead, I let myself feel the fear. I allowed the voices to have their say.
As the nun from my dream the night before instructed, I looked inside myself.
And when I did, I saw the fear of abandonment, of not belonging, of getting in the kind of trouble that can hurt a child, dependent on her family. But now it was as if I was observing the feelings instead of feeling them. That what my body was experiencing had nothing to do with the person I was at that moment.
There was a flash of color and light, an indecipherable image and a sense of before and after. I felt the freedom before my mind made it all into the words: The other side of this is freedom.
Not only did I know it was true, but I could feel it. I knew myself as the person who lived in that freedom.
This was a panic attack averted.
My panic attacks turn me into a frightened child. They make me irritable and short-tempered. When I’m having a panic attack, I feel so out of control, I go to extremes to feel in control. Small things that have no great importance become big in my mind. An object out of place or in my way can become the target of my fear-driven frustration. As can a person or animal who doesn’t behave exactly what I want them to.
Panic attacks are also physically and emotionally exhausting and distract me from doing my work.
Just the thought of visiting my mother throws me into a panic attack. Days before the visit, I start to sink into a fearful and depressive state. After the visit, which is always cordial, I am relieved and wonder why I had the reaction I did before the visit.
I’ve been consciously repeating this pattern for years.
I’ve been to therapists, healers and have read many books on the subject. I understand that contact with my family is a trigger. I have learned techniques to deal with it to a point.
I’ve also learned that it will probably never completely go away.
So today, when I was trying to walk off the physical effects of a panic attack, I found myself yelling at Fate, loud enough to hurt my throat, who was eating the remains of a deer.
After we had moved on, away from the deer, I stopped and gathered myself. This is not who I am, I said out loud. I am not a fearful controlling person, not anymore.
It was at that moment I decided I would not put myself into a situation that caused me to panic if I could help it. I knew what I was going through wasn’t healthy for me or the people and animals around me.
And I knew I could avoid it.
The panic came when I thought about making plans to visit my mother. But it began to subside when I told myself I wouldn’t do it today. I would take it a day at a time, gauging how I felt and not doing anything that caused me to have a panic attack.
I don’t want to hurt my mother by not visiting her when I said I would. But I also don’t want to put myself through this anymore.
Right now I’m not feeling the guilt and obligation that made me consider making plans for a visit in the first place. I’m not sure why, maybe they were pushed aside when my sense of self-preservation took over.
I’m not thinking about tomorrow. I’m only trying to hold on to the feeling of what is best for me and my life right now.
And I’m also trying to hold on to that feeling of freedom that lives on the other side of fear and panic.
Every few months, Jon and I do a fish tank make-over.
This time we took out a lot of the gravel which was too thick on the bottom of the tank and removed one plant that was putting too much algae into the tank.
I’m continuing to remove the ramshorn snails. They reproduce quickly especially when there’s a lot of food for them to eat, and they were beginning to take over the tank.
I have a fishbowl next to the tank where they will live out their lives.
I read if they aren’t overfed they’ll be slower to reproduce. This way I can also easily keep an eye out for their eggs and remove them before they hatch.
We got a few new plants to replace the old one. And a few Tetras and a Pleco, which is a bottom feeder. He loves to hang out in the roots of the tree.
Above is one of the Bambo shrimp and my Mystery Snail, Socrates on the truck of the tree. The Shimmer Fish spend their time all together treading water under the tree too.
The small white dots on the tree are Nerite Snail eggs. They need saltwater to hatch, so we don’t have to worry about the tank being overrun by baby Nerite snails.
There’s a well-worn path that leads from the barnyard under the apple tree and to the frozen marsh where the sheep have been grazing as best they can.
When I got back from my walk with Fate and Zinnia, the sheep started making their way back to the barn hoping, no doubt, that I would feed them again.