Jolly rumble

This is a favorite song for the season. May Day is upon us and while others may think about labor unions, for me it is a time to think on summer. Long lazy days on the deck with a cool drink, the company of good friends, my sweetheart beside me. Love the version of the song I posted below too.

…Hal-an-Tow, jolly rumbelow
We were up long before the day-o
To welcome in the summertime
To welcome in the May-o
For summer is coming in
And winter’s gone away…


Tomorrow is the first of May and we will be, indeed, awake long before the day to welcome in the summer. We will turn off the lights and the electronics and light the house with candles.

Last year at this time, the cherry blossoms in the back yard were faintly visible as the sky was backlit with the city lights below the cloud cover. Raven and I sat and held hands as we talked about our days. Conversation wandered gently from observation of the sky to expressing our love and gratitude for each other, enjoying the light of the candles, and being on the cusp of summer. Good times.

I am looking forward to celebrating again this year, though I think french toast with maple syrup and nutmeg eggs would be a good starter. Later on tomorrow  we will picnic in the park and watch some children weave a May pole with brightly colored ribbons. May Day for us is a day to be frivolous, mischievous and to share silliness with friends. It is part of the seasonal wheel that is the cusp of spring/summer.

(Quote above is from the song Hal An Tow.)

Made with love

Making things with my hands is a simple kind of magic, the kind of magic that is all about love. I especially like crocheting as it moves along so quickly, and is something you can do while visiting with friends and family; it is something I’ve been doing since I was about eight years old.


Tiny blankets for little people – Photo by Ria

We would gather on a weekend around a pot of tea. The adults would sometimes drink beer in the late afternoon. Someone would bustle around in the kitchen, making snacks like scones, cookies or even toast fingers with butter and jam to go along with the tea. Just two families with the parents, the kids (three from each family), grandparents, and often an uncle or aunt extra who dropped by for a visit.

The hand work would come out when we were settled. Almost everyone worked on something. One uncle would focus on some leather repair, sharpening knives from the kitchen with a whetstone and oil, or mending socks. Someone would be knitting. Nan had her tatting, and a few of us learned to crochet, embroider, and make projects with beads. My mother was almost always working on a dressmaking project, taking up a hem or measuring for a new garment; my cousin Gail would be practicing dance with swords, with her father playing music to accompany her. Weekends were for visiting and projects; to this day, I feel most productive when I am making things.

I still get the most pleasure from planning and making things for people I know. There’s something a bit old-fashioned about a hand-made object, especially one that is not easily found in a store anywhere. One of a kind things feel special, especially as they represent time, creativity and attention to all the tiny details.

This last weekend, I made little afghans for tiny people. I guess you could call them crocheted baby blankets too, made from brightly-colored soft yarn, and around two feet square, or thereabouts. Making them reminds me of the gifts from fairy godmothers in stories, made with luck and love in mind; the good fairytale godmothers, that is, and the luck all good. I like variegated yarn for this. The colors progress through a sequence, making a self-pattern without needing a join. The colors are bright and harmonious. The size is just right for a baby stroller, and light enough that a small child can snuggle up with it when they grow older for a nap or to watch tv. I tend towards acrylics for practical reasons. You can throw them into the washer and dryer over and over with no harm to the piece.

I like to present them like rolled up flowers, tied up with string. They make a fun package to give to friends who are expecting or have had a new child. Reds, blues, greens, purples and spicy orange and pink. Rainbow colors to delight a child’s eyes.

Top 10 for relationships

A chum posted a cute image about relationship advice on facebook. It made me think about what my top 10 pieces of advice would be. This is the first thing I came up with.

Learn to say “I’m really sorry” and mean it. Especially when you are right.

Then I started thinking about it some more, based on relationships and friendships that go back more than 20 years.

My top 10 pieces of advice for a good relationship?

  1. Display affection
  2. Give appreciation
  3. Listen, not just hear
  4. Budget the luxuries first
  5. Make and eat food together
  6. Love who they are becoming
  7. Be silly together
  8. Snuggle | cuddle
  9. Be curious about their dreams
  10. Spend time together | time apart

3 easy steps to helping friends organize

How to get started on dealing with household mayhem

It’s after the holidays, and your chum’s house looks like a tribe of Ewoks collaborated with a dervish of devils to make a mess that rivals a teenager’s room. What to do if you are called on to help sort it out? I’m not suggesting your own house is in the same state, though if it is, you can follow the same steps below to get started on organizing it. Our place tends to wax and wane, depending on where we are with projects, travel, and visitors; during the week, jackets and bags get dropped in our offices, and need to be sorted on the weekend and hung up again. We could just put stuff away as we come into the house, but where’s the fun in that. Colorful piles of stuff make the place look lived in, and happy.

Step One – go to the dollar store and get a batch (12 or so) $1 laundry baskets
This is the sorting mechanism – they’re a good size, have handles, and nice open tops. You can also use boxes if you have empties on hand. The container wants to be about 2 x 3 feet and shallower than it is deep.

Step Two – put 4 baskets/boxes in each messy room, in the middle, and label them. Add one big black garbage bag. Here are your categories for a general rough sort for the room.

  • Keep – you definitely want the stuff you throw in this basket
    (good electronics, clothing, gifts, unopened candy, bills to pay)
  • Recycle – someone wants it, just not you
    (include regular recycling like bottles, plastic, wrapping paper as well as old monitors, cords, CDs, old dish sets)
  • Shred it or file it – important paperwork, paper stuff
    (magazines, catalogs, letters, cards, memorabilia, medical records, taxes, paid bills, contact info, business cards, research materials, photos etc)
  • Undecided – we’ll make a call on this later
    (it might be something you want, or it may be stuff you’re not ready to let go of, shoes and clothes you don’t wear, misc stationery, left overs from projects, half a ball of yarn, old nail-polish, messenger bags you are not currently using, plastic cups, cutlery, colored napkins from a theme party)
  • Black bag – toss it out – it’s garbage!
    (open bag of chips, cookies, clothing labels, trash of any kind)

This rough sort has the benefit of reducing the piles of stuff to manageable chunks, and the trash gets taken out to the bin right away. I take the regular recycling to the recycle bin, and the other stuff goes into bags for donation to good will, PC recycle and so on. The paper takes a longer time to sort, so putting it all together means I save time and avoid being distracted by it while clearing the larger room.

Step Three – move the baskets out of that room

  • Clean the surfaces of the room with surface cleaner and paper towels
  • Sweep, mop or vacuum the floor
  • Only return the stuff to that room that will live there from now on

As an added benefit, helping a friend organize their stuff gives you a fun backdrop for conversation, with lots of opportunity to find odd treasures and learn more about each other’s lives.

Copyright 2013 R Loader all rights reserved

Recovering from heart failure


A few months ago, the love of my life experienced heart failure. He was in the ER and the intensive care for a week. Three months later, he’s doing better every day, and making progress, as a friend put it, like a herd of galloping snails. Lovely image that. A bunch of people wished him, as people do, to get well soon, or be well fast. However, the snail metaphor was really the best for the circumstances. It takes a long time to recover from a heart event, and it’s important to set expectations accordingly.

Along the way we’ve found out a bunch of things about diet, especially about the dangers of hidden salt. We have learned to take each small step on the road to recovery as a victory. He is alive. He is feeling better than he has for some time. The quality of life is not measured by how much we can do, but by how much we enjoy the moment.  We are measuring salt and liquid intake, and we are being mindful about food in a new way. Raven is not having any caffeine or tobacco any more. He is measuring many things of the day, including blood pressure, medication, pulse, energy of the moment. I am so proud of him for embracing the changes that have turned our world upside down.

I took a break from blogging for a while to figure out life stuff. We are feeling grateful for the things that are good, regardless of the challenges that are inevitable with health issues. There is love in our lives; we have great friends and extended intentional family; my sister came to visit and help for a month, and we’re coming to terms with the shape of the possible. Will be blogging more with what we find out along the journey.

Catching up with friends

postcardLife offers so very many opportunities to be busy with projects, there seems less time for socializing in person.  In order to keep up with news of chums around the world, and even those here in town, I am increasingly dependent on social media.  I am often caught up in simultaneous chat conversations in Sydney, Tasmania, New York, Seattle and San Francisco. This almost takes the place of letters, though some family are not available on line, and letters are the best way to thoughtfully communicate what has happened in the last few months. I have taken to writing a letter for family members, and send it to multiple people, much like my friends can catch up on news here, or on other social media.

For many friends, we only catch up in person when I am in their city, however, as we travel more, we are meeting up in cities we all want to explore together. It makes it a bit of an expedition, and coordinating it is part of the fun. Planned enough ahead, a visit to London can include brunches and lunches, dinners and late night drinks with friends who are there from other countries. We can visit the British Museum together, wander around Covent Garden, catch the markets in St James Church, or wander through Hyde Park for a morning stroll. A visit to Forbidden Planet, the terrific Science Fiction store in London, is a treat. And Baker Street is a must for the Sherlock Holmes fan.

However, nothing is as good as a long weekend where we stay up late talking, have a lazy brunch, and meander through the day. Sitting together over a meal or three sets the tone for there being time to listen, and to be in the moment.

Growing the love

poppies in a fieldIn the English-speaking world, we grow up with stories about true love, magical love, divine and destined love. We read about friendships that last a lifetime, and we are introduced to the idea of looking for redemption or completion through our relationships. Sometimes, we are even fortunate enough to see evidence of those relationships around us. We see examples of old couples who still appear to glow, whose faces light up when they see each other, who continue to be in love, in love forever.

Yet we see as many situations that do not play out as they do in storybooks, and we ask ourselves why? And perhaps we should be asking ourselves, why not? In a storybook, there is usually an obstacle or two to overcome, and this adds interest to the story, and makes it resonate with us. However, we seem to be a little lazy in the stories of our own lives. We expect perfection, right away. We walk away from anything that becomes uncomfortable, or challenging, and in doing so, we often walk away from the opportunity for love to grow.

A good friend of mine said something years ago that has played out to be true for me. “If you are willing to look deeply into someone, you cannot help but love them.” By this, he meant that willingness to love was the pre-requisite for love. I have come to believe we have within us the ability to cultivate love, and to also cultivate an expectation that we will see the good in people. That makes it much easier to both find love, and to keep it growing when we have found it, whether that is friendship or a deeper kind of experience.

Copyright 2012 R Loader all rights reserved

Being passionate

I just found this terrific quote about love and passion, and about how passion ignites our imagination, from Joss Whedon, and it inspired me to think about what passion means to me. It is red. Passion is sex and creativity, energy and vitality. It is about being alive, about all the brain cells firing…feelings running wild like lightning, inspiring us to move, move move. To me it is that voice in the back of my brain saying “do something, do something”, anything. Make stuff. Make love. Make art. Make connections.

Passion, it lies in all of us, sleeping… waiting… and though unwanted… unbidden… it will stir… open its jaws and howl. It speaks to us… guides us… passion rules us all, and we obey. What other choice do we have? Passion is the source of our finest moments. The joy of love… the clarity of hatred… and the ecstasy of grief. It hurts sometimes more than we can bear. If we could live without passion maybe we’d know some kind of peace… but we would be hollow… Empty rooms shuttered and dank… – Joss Whedon

I cannot imagine life without connection, without passionate, committed opinions about things. I am a definite kind of person; guess I have been for as long as I can remember, even as a little girl. Almost especially as a little girl. I love storytellers and tales about heroes, and I love the story about the young person making their way in the world, growing into it, becoming someone unexpected. All of these tales have, as part of them, people who are willing to put their feelings on the line, to tell it like it is, to stand up for what they believe in. For me, that is one of the core things about happiness and love. For me, you are as defined by those things you stand against, as by those things you stand for. Standing against injustice, standing for honor and honesty and the struggle to be real. Those are the beginning of the things I care about.

And I care about the little stuff, because there is, in a sense, no little stuff. Being mean is not an option. One of my favorite movies is “Harvey”, and the character of Elwood P. Dowd. He says at one point that his mother had given him advice about there being two kinds of people in the world, ones who were oh so pleasant, and ones who were oh so clever. And he said he’d tried both, and preferred the former. I have a terrific friend who reminds me very much of this character. While she is wicked smart, she prefers to be pleasant. And that makes her great to be around. At the same time, she is very passionate about life, people and books. And that makes her even more fun.

Any time you can share praise, give honest appreciation, be kind to someone, you’re making another connection in the world, becoming a more passionate and connected person. I believe that to love deeply, it is important to be passionate, enthusiastic, and caring about the people you interact with in the world. Be passionate. Anything else lacks conviction.

Copyright 2012 R Loader all rights reserved