32nd Playford -- Theme and Tiaras

This year's theme for the Playford ball is "Midwinter Gossamer". I dance with several close friends and I wasn't alone in asking, "what the hell does that mean?" The graphic on the announcement was fairies which helped a little. However my gown from last year has no gossamer qualities and the internets were not very helpful although I did learn there is a whole line of gossamer backpacking equipment. 

So I mentioned my confusion to my wife and she immediately offered to make me a new gown. Her keen engineer mind readily took on the challenge of making a sheer chiffon overdress in a misty slate color. warning--do not use chiffon unless you like a challenge. We found a silk for the under dress and we were set. My duties consisted of admiring as she worked, running errands and feeling very lucky. The last is not entirely dress related. 

I wondered how to live up to my new dress and use that theme. I ruled out dancing in wings immediately. I considered glitter gel. Then inspiration, why not a tiara?

not easy to photo a tiara
This time the internets came through. I found a great tutorial on the old thread banger site and ideas sparked like light flashing on jewels. Using the basic guide I was able to create something in 3 hours with crystal beads and copper wire. Since it is head band style it is comfortable and stays put even when dancing. Although lightweight I need to acclimate to hours of wearing it, so you will frequently find me wearing it while writing or thinking or washing dishes.

We are in the honeymoon phase but I think this tiara might be changing my life. We spend a lot of time together. I talk about the tiara to friends. In fact I suspect I may be boring people about tiaras. I hope you all can hang in there with me [and the tiara].

Wrapping up and the 32nd Playford Ball -- Dances

IMAD aka the 'marys all day play date' was wonderful. We blogged about it if you have any interest. The report is far from complete but one of us will update about the delightful gallery we visited after 'teatime' and the festive dinner with ten friends at Babani's that evening.

This brings us to the next activity, the annual Playford Ball. Here is a list of the dances this year with my personal star rating, which is, I am sure, wildly different from other dancers' ratings.  Just my opinion.

The Betrayed Lover ***
Longways duple minor improper double progression  1974  6//8 
Devil’s Maggot -* why bother? powder your nose. yes that's a negative star
Longways duple minor 1997 6//8
The Fandango ***
Longways for three couples   1774  6//8
Hambleton’s Round O **** 
Longways triple minor  1713 3//2
In the Bleak MidWinter *
Longways duple minor improper 1997  2//2
In the Fields in Frost and Snow -* snore,  get a beverage
Longways duple minor  1713  2//2
Lady William’s Delight **
Longways duple minor  2002  3//2
Mendocino Redwood *
Longways duple minor  2005  6//8
Nymph Divine  **
Longways duple minor  1728  common
The Pilgrim or Lord Foppington -* time for a nap
Longways duple minor  1721  6//8
Prince William *** 
Longways for three couples  1731  common
Puck’s Deceit *** 
Longways duple minor  1997  common
    Saint Margaret’s Hill  ***** 
Longways for three couples  1718  3//2
    Sleeping in the Attic  ***
Longways duple minor  1996  2//2
Tythe Pig *
Longways duple minor  1691  6//8
Well Hall **** 
Longways duple minor  1686  3//2

This year's dances does not mesh with my taste as well as past years. Six dances out of 17 I could miss without a care. Oh well. It will still be enjoyable.

Not only do we practice the dances in February but there is the work of getting one's costume ready. This year's theme of Midwinter Gossamer has generated a lot of chat.  More details to follow about how we are implementing said theme. Something enjoyably absorbing to all.

Playing with IMAD

The other day I reminded my wife that this Friday is glorious IMAD and my wife asked, "Hey when is it ICAD?" Whenever you and the other C's set it was my reply.

Remember -- we make all this up!  You are free to do the same.  Ten or so years ago we thought it would be great to designate a day of pampering for ourselves. [Mary how long has it been?] Not surprisingly it was great, in fact it was awesome and we have repeated it every year since.

We are not hoarders. We love to share our day with any other mary* out there! And if your name isn't Mary why not create your own joyful, pampering holiday. Pick a day for yourself and explore your world, eat food that others prepare, look at beauty, get a massage, pedicure, talk and laugh. 

IMAD is a play date for Marys. I firmly believe the world could use a little more play. Join us if you can even if it's during a brief pause in your day and choose something joyful, silly, funny or uplifting to experience. Let us know how it goes on the IMAD blog if you want.  Only couple of hours to go --joyous IMAD you all.

*any variation of the name Mary will do

light on sea fairy

I have been playing with feng shui again this month, it inspires me to dump clutter. [Hysterical, the spell check just changed that to "fang" shui]. With the dumping came the typical side effects. One is noticing the stuff that you hate doesn't support 'current you'. It became clear I dislike many of my lamps. So during my day off I hunted for some bargains that fit 'current me'. You might not be able to tell but the wall behind the lamp is apple green. [Which the paint company calls "sea fairy"]

So there is a little more light around my studio tonight from a lamp that seems to fit in just right. Please imagine my relief that the dust on the top of that bookshelf isn't showing in the photo, I hope.

As I enjoyed the new lamp I thought about how much lighter I felt after having a day where absolutely nothing was planned. I had freedom to do pretty much whatever struck me as fun or needed or soothing or spacious. A day free of shoulds. Not that the shoulds didn't try to show up but I had done sneaky prep work.

The night before I journaled my list of shoulds, getting them out on paper and soothing my meanies a bit. I wasn't 'forgetting' stuff after all, I had a list! I also listed possibilities. Some were specific -- 'shop for lamps'. Some were reminders -- "I don't want to cook dinner". It was amazingly helpful. As I exited one thing, like breakfast, I looked at my list and picked another to enter. It was wonderful and led to posting an actual photo sans cursing. I hope it continues.       Light to all who could use some. xo

sweet and frightening information

Frightening--I made cream puffs for my in-laws recently and I pulled out my mom's old Betty Crocker cookbook to do it. I didn't alter it for my 'no sugar' tastes. The recipe for vanilla filling calls for a mere 1/3 cup of sugar. Everyone loved them.

On a whim I looked up the same recipe in Mark Bittman's vegetarian cookbook. The "same" recipe calls for 2 and a half cups of sugar. Seven times+ more sugar. And more corn starch in order to get all that sugar to firm up and just as much fat by the way. The desserts featured in the newer cookbook are suppose to be healthful, why on earth does it have so much more sugar in it?

A mystery. If you are looking to cut down on sugar older recipes may be your friends.

Sweet--After all these years no sugar I still miss marshmallows or at least the memory of them. But like most candies they are too sweet for me nowadays. Imagine my amazement when I stumbled across this. Marshmallow creme made from rice syrup. This could be dangerous. More dangerous than the ice cream maker. If you have ever tried it please let me know. My curiosity is almost overwhelming.

Wishing all some comforting sweetness. xo

Recognizing Passion

I have been playing with a question recently. What do I feel passionate about? There was resistance in answering that struck me as funny/odd. I felt like I was being too personal [with myself?!] Or perhaps I was expecting too much. [expecting to be human?]

It felt wrapped up in other words like -- Purpose. Gifts. Meaning to Life. Destiny [some of these made me want to hurl a bit]
Mottos, like 'everyone is here for a reason'.  Ugh

Underneath the stuff I greeted fear. No wonder I laughed nervously. 
What if I didn't have any passions?

Or what if I was sneaky about them? [to avoid hurling] Because there is stuff I make a priority. There is stuff I give my time and energy to, that I love. There is stuff about which I am fierce and tender.

So I asked someone I trusted what they thought were my passions. Their answer was helpful. [they didn't laugh] Then I sat for a space from which came words.

I am passionate about writing my stories. I am passionate about mindfulness practice.        I just don't call it that.

missing a wishful goal

I want to update you all on my revision goal. [being done by the end of January] Yeah, that so did not happen.

Perhaps I was not very realistic about the busyness of December? Perhaps I didn't have enough support systems set up? Or it could be that I forgot about some projects that needed finishing this winter when the revision wish came to me. I'm not going to beat myself up about this however I do want to revise my work.

But revising is still so new to me I feel a bit rudderless.

I did make progress getting systems set up. The first part of the revision is working with hard copy. I realized I needed space. My big desk is now cleared off and ready. That got done. Also I found my pump so I can now sit on my ball and be comfortable. This is all helpful.

A bit less helpful -- I have a sweet idea that is just starting to grow this month and it must get some attention. It's a great idea but it will take time away from revising.

How to format my revising wish so that it is doable and filled with ease? I don't know the answer yet.

One idea I had is to set out my papers at the end of the night, so that I am ready in the morning to start revising with ease. I would love to do 15 minutes of revising five days out of seven this week. But perhaps I'll start smaller than that.

Good luck to everyone with their current projects. More about my new sweet idea later. xo

presence--deep listening

It seems fitting I am wrapping up this week with some thoughts on presence. Presence can be viewed as both the start and the foundation of all listening. If you aren't here then you can't take in what you or another are saying.

So presence became a thread running through the entire week. I would pause and remember -- presence. I'm listening and I want my heart to be open. Over and over again a gentle pause followed by remembering. Fortunately I remembered well this week but I could see that during a high stress time this could be more challenging.

I used birds as reminders to be present. The birds are very active in our mild weather so I have been watching and whistling at them. This led to enjoying natural beauty which is a doorway to presence for me. From there I opened to listening.

I enjoyed this week more than I suspected I would, perhaps this was a natural fit for me at this time. I hope you enjoyed something this week as well. xo

allowing -- deep listening

Thursdays was another day with almost no interaction with others. I never left the house due to a cough-y cold. I felt quite wretched at times both physically and emotionally-- I did not want to be sick.

So there was nothing for it but to practice allowing and listening with myself. Allowing my body to speak about it's discomfort without trying to change the subject. Allowing for the blankness of mind. Allowing for the lack of clarity as I tried to attend a work meeting from home.

Around the edges of the sickness I did feel a safety knowing that I could be with it and some ease. Which was quite nice for me but makes rather boring blogging. ah well, this too.

silence -- deep listening

If you celebrated Imbolc on Wednesday I hope it was a lovely one. We have unusually warm temps here with melting snow. It really does feel like we are halfway to spring.

Many of my imbolc hopes and plans got derailed by not feeling well. I had waves of feeling semi-normal but those usually occurred when I wasn't doing much. :) I also spent quite a bit of time with other people and I had guessed previously that my practice on Wednesday was going to centered around presence but when I reviewed my day I realized the main thread had been silence.

It may be that my sore throat made it a bit easier to be silent, to ease into that space. But I was very aware of it. Letting the silence be it's own thing that does not need to be filled. Enjoying the room that gave for the listening. Even when no one was speaking. I think I have a fever so I may not be very coherent so back to silence.