Friday, September 20, 2019

greta


In celebration and in honor of 
Greta Thunberg
and the leadership she has shared with
our broken world.
Godspeed, dearest one.

And if you are looking for some hope,
written by
Mary Annaïse Heglar.


(My quilts can wait for another day...)

Thursday, September 19, 2019

getting our feet back under ourselves

After jet lag comes cleaning and setting things up for the cooler days ahead. Batman washed the floors, we rearranged the furniture and harvested beets, potatoes, apples and set onions to cure in the breezeway. A friend gifted us with his local plums, so we had roasted plums and plum cake and there are still a few in a bowl in the fridge. We have started to collect apples in buckets for the root cellar. Batman took a stab at making crabapple jelly and I think next year we will go full tilt with that project! We are removing screens bit by bit and washing windows as we go. We have been finding comfort in these small seasonal chores.
We set sunflowers by the front door to welcome three houseguests on Monday night, from two different places, and we all got along just fine. Far reaching conversations around the dining table, kindred spirits all. 

We talked about the relief we felt while we were in Tuscany, when we pledged to ignore the news. Yes, it's good to know about current events, but these days of 24/7 coverage, mostly of gloom and doom, a person can become mighty weary. The world was waiting for us as soon as we tuned back in. But I do it a lot less often and that feels really good. 

We've watched a few good films, and I thought you may have too. Tea With the Dames was wonderful. And On the Basis of Sex was a gem, too. Do you have suggestions for movies that are not depressing or difficult to watch? I'm not saying those sorts of films are not worth watching...I'm just saying that's not what I'm looking for right now. :-)

My word for 2019 is "productive". Come back tomorrow to see a quilt that took 10 years to finish (can you say "UFO")? And a collaborative project I did with an eight year old son of a friend.

xo

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

hello friends!

 we have been away.
 one morning we were in vermont,
and the next morning we were looking out of our bathroom
window in florence, italy.
and then a bit later we were watching the sunset from
our rented villa in the chianti region of tuscany.

we splurged on a wonderful trip to italy with dear friends 
from our days living in old san juan, puerto rico...
35 years ago!

celebrating batman's retirement, our 40th anniversary
and a reunion with our pals,
we bought tickets, found a house sitter, packed lightly
and headed to europe.

i'm still processing the beauty we saw,
the conversations we shared
and the experiences we had over our 10 day visit.

One of the most wonderful takeaways from our trip was the total immersion we experienced, nestling into the sense of place we found in Italy. I hope to share that with you here, on "Tuscan Tuesdays".

I'm committed to being here at sew and sow life more often, with bits of sewing and gardening and pausing to savor the season, so check back soon if you would like to ramble with me. Finding joy and hope and Light are on the agenda.

It's good to be back. xo

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

18 years later


just popping in for a moment
to remind all of us
to lean in to the Light.

Just shower the people you love with love,
show them the way that you feel...
-James Taylor

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

time out

We don't know much about the dog days of summer around here.
We are enmeshed in a more feline version.

Just to let you last few, faithful blog followers know...
I am stepping away from most everything internet related for a bit.

I'll be back the second week in September
with renewed energy and a fresh vision for how to live in these 
challenging times.

Until then,
Namaste.

xo

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

indigo immersion













Last week I spent two days at the Marshfield School of Weaving, immersed in a workshop given by Graham Keegan. Graham specializes in dyeing with persicaria tinctoria, or Japanese indigo and other botanical plants. I had tried to register for this workshop last year, but it was already full, so I got onto the mailing list and landed a spot in this year's workshop as soon as it was posted!

I doubt I will ever master the nuances of indigo dyeing, but experiencing this workshop sure did up my game.

First we did an aqueous extraction, used for protein fibers...
  • the leaves of fresh indigo plants, mixed in a blender with water, and strained through a bag made of silk screen fabric.
  • the simple vat, with ice cubes added to stop the enzymes.
  • check out the gorgeous color oxidizing on a silk scarf!
Then we created a vat for cellulose fibers...
  • we filled two big pots (taking advantage of some clever Vermont-style outdoor plumbing) with stems and leaves and hot water, weighted them down and left them to soak overnight. 
  • we strained the plant bits out the next day and reserved the liquid. 
  • we added some slaked lime (first dissolved in a bit of water).
  • then we poured the reserved liquid back and forth between two pots to oxidize the dye, until it became an opaque green.
  • the next step requires another overnight, to allow the sediment to settle to the bottom, the liquid is then poured off and the sediment/paste at the bottom keeps indefinitely. This paste can be used to create a vat whenever it's needed.
We cheated somewhere along there and Graham produced a vat that was ready to go and we did a bit of itajime shibori, using wooden blocks and metal clamps to compress the fabric, creating the resist.

My hands are still a faint blue, a sweet souvenir of the days spend with fresh indigo. Coming home on the first day, even the clouds were blue up here on the ridge.

The sequence of dyeing, spelled out in one of Graham's banners...
  • soak
  • wring
  • fold
  • bind
  • dip
  • rinse
  • oxidize
  • balance
  • launder
The Marshfield School of Weaving hosts many classes and workshops at their simple and peaceful and lovely farm. You can read all about the place, the people and the skills they share, here.

My blog post here is not meant to serve as instruction. If you would like to learn more specific information, please be sure to visit your local library for books on dyeing, or prowl the internet, or sign up for a class in your area (even if you have to wait a year to get in!)

I now have a few pieces of fabric, manipulated especially to be used in quilts, which I can add to my naturally dyed stash of supplies. I've also got a lush bed of indigo here at our "bit of earth" to harvest and process in the next few weeks.

Oh, yeah....

Sunday, August 18, 2019

another peaceful and quiet summer field trip





  • "I dedicate this steel icon to the deathless spirit incarnate in one of the most precious of my contemporaries. Like that of St Francis of Assisi, Thomas Berry's life testifies to the indestructible human spirit, the surviving triumph of human wisdom over all the follies and cruelties of our generation." (Frederick Franck on his 97th birthday, April 12, 2006)
  • The yurt in the woods, place of prayer and reflection.
  • The labyrinth.
  • "Mary of the Cosmos", an icon by Sister Bernadette Bostwick.
  • The sign near the entrance to the monastery.
We recently had a house guest who discovered the teachings of Thomas Berry while studying at Yale Divinity School. Frances asked if we could visit the Green Mountain Monastery, co-founded by Father Berry, and we did spend an afternoon with the sisters there. We found this sweet gem of a spot, off the beaten path and were swallowed up by the beauty of the setting. 

To read about the monastery, click here. 

To learn more about Thomas Berry and his writings, click here.  He was an outspoken advocate for the environment and I have become curious about his life.

"Our mission is A Single Sacred Community. In all that we desire... to become radical expressions of this Communion-with each other and the entire Earth Community."