On the first or second day of WorldCon an gentleman stopped by our booth to talk to Sal and Caryn. He was wearing a silver chain mail shirt. I’m not just talking about the color silver. The shirt was made of actual silver, which he had purchased in blocks, spun by hand, wound into links and the fashioned into a mail shirt. The man was Loren Damewood, and he is a master of knotwork and chain mail. I’m also told that he is marvelously patient teacher who will sit with children by the hour and teach them crafting. As he spoke with us Loren was weaving with cotton cord and a needle. When he was done he reached for my hand and slipped what he’d made onto my wrist.
He assured me that it was just a piece of string and that I owed him nothing for it. I know for a fact that it is more than string. I’ve certainly never been able to make string dance so prettily. Having the bracelet made me happy. I wore it several times during the convention. On Sunday morning I put it on very deliberately because I knew it had happiness in it and I was in need of happy things. I thought it made me happy because it was a representation of amazing skill turned to kindness, but it was more than that. Only when I arrived home did I realize what else caused me to have such an immediate positive reaction.
These are the hammock swings I purchased earlier this summer. Since I bought them I have discovered that they are the perfect place for me to let go of my stresses. I’ll sit in one, put my feet in the other, close my eyes and drift. Sometimes I drift off to sleep. Other times I just feel the sun on my skin, the breeze in my hair, and listen to birds rustling nearby. My hammock swings are a place of peace. Several times during WorldCon I longed for them. The bracelet Loren gave me is made of exactly the same cotton cord which holds up my swings. These are the chords I often wrap my fingers around while resting. Loren gave me a tangible reminder of something from which I draw strength. He gave me a talisman.
I bought this pendant last winter and wore it daily for most of January and February. With it I carried brightness and flowers with me even though the world outside was gray and cold. When I was tired I could touch the smooth surface and remember the bright blue skies of spring. I did not call the pendant a talisman when I bought it, but it is. I purchased it very deliberately to remind me of things that I needed to keep in my mind.
Realizing that I have talismans helps me understand one of Gleek’s quirk’s better. She accumulates small things. The most visible manifestation of this is necklaces. She started with one, but it expanded to two, three, four until she had a tangle of chains and strings around her neck. I could see the untidiness of this particular fashion choice, but it came nowhere near the list of things worth arguing about. Also I think I sensed that she needed them. I knew that some had specific meanings for her, particularly the bag of worry dolls.
Here are Gleek’s talismans. The stripped bag is full of tiny Guatemalan worry dolls. She got them from her grandmother. At least one of the necklaces is a mood ring. The leather pouch contains the instructions for it. I think if you untangle all those other chains, you find that there are four or five necklaces. They’re all sturdy, which is necessary considering that Gleek doesn’t slow down for jewelry. She has worn them constantly for several years. When she took the pouch and worry dolls off at her cousin’s house to jump on a trampoline, then accidentally left them behind, it was a catastrophe of epic proportions. She fretted and made multiple phone calls until the necklaces were found and promises to mail them were extracted. Gleek needed her talismans.
I photographed them today while she was at school. She took them off several days ago (again because of a trampoline) and has not missed them. This is the best possible sign that the new school and new life patterns are exactly what Gleek needs.