Be joyful even though you have considered all the facts...practice resurrection. -Wendell Berry

Saturday, February 28, 2009

quick question

Does anyone out there have any experience with "morning pages"? Julia Cameron has written about doing three pages of longhand writing, free association style, first thing in the morning. Have you tried it, has it helped boost your creativity?

before and after


...Berries growing last summer in Vermont, and berries baked into yummy muffins this morning in CT.  The berries took a ride south in the car in a cooler at the end of the summer and due to the wonders of a freezer, we can enjoy "local food" even in February!

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Beat one egg, stir in 1/2 cup oil and 3/4 cups buttermilk.  Add 2 cups flour (I used part white and part organic 6 grain flour I bought at Hunger Mt. Food Coop), 1/3 cup sugar, 2 tsp. baking powder, 1/2 tsp. baking soda and 1 cup fresh (or 3/4 cup frozen) blueberries.  Stir only till moist.  Divide batter into muffin tin.  Bake 20 minutes.  Serve with jam, honey or just eat straight up plain!

And quiltcat's comments on my last post were spot on.  A few days of eating better food and two nights of good sleep have me feeling centered and back to myself again.  

My sourdough starter has gone crazy, and after I have a phone consultation with Lindsey, I think I'll try baking some bread this weekend. 

I saw daffodil sprouts this morning.






Friday, February 27, 2009

little things...

...helping me feel better already
  1. a bowl of Pacific brand organic, low sodium roasted red pepper and tomato soup
  2. a peek at my sourdough starter (it's finally taking off!)
  3. IM-ing (a new experience) with my buddy, Mary, who we stayed with in IL.  She is a rock solid woman, and I admire the heck out of her courage and faith.  

doubt

I am feeling a little full today.  Full of the experiences of these past few weeks, full of world news, full of things that are working themselves out, or not.

So, I headed to the kitchen, for some meditation.  And what a bummer. I managed to produce a failed batch of chocolate pudding, using one of my favorite recipes (Enchanted Broccoli Forest, by Mollie Katzen).  So I vacuumed the downstairs and cleaned the bathroom.  Hmmm...that was fun.

Being temporarily adrift is not an earth shattering problem, I know.  I live a charmed life and I do not take it for granted. I think I just need a little grey space to process all that's going on in my head and heart. 

I will take a walk this weekend, that always helps.  Look for signs of spring along the way!  And maybe I can squeeze in hour in my studio after lunch today. 

Life is an adventure, eh?

Faith and doubt, both are needed.
 -Lillian Smith

There lives more faith in honest doubt than in half the creeds.
-Tennyson


Thursday, February 26, 2009

meadow bag and red hots

Here's the meadow bag, ready for the mail.  I like the contrast of the spring fabrics and the fence/snow scape outside.  I hope this bag will raise a bit of money for the Genesis Women's Shelter.

And I took kind of a big step and put a LABEL in the bag, and included a brand new e mail address I set up today.    sewandsowlife@gmail.com  (Just in case I decide to step out into the world a little bit farther... YIKES!)
And remember the "karen's snow day" post?  Well, it gave my "Quilters Anonymous" buddy Catherine an idea.  She sent an e mail to those of us who used to get together once a week to quilt and chat.  The group changed over the years, as folks moved into and out of the area. Catherine, looking for inspiration in the depths of winter, invited each of us to send a "red hot" bit of fabric to one another.  I received envelopes from VT, NC, Ontario and two from CT and MA.  And check out the fun I found inside!   
Catherine is already set to work on her project, turtles sunning themselves in  the warm spring air. She lives on a pond, and so her idea is just perfect. Cathleen has just asked us all if anyone has some pewter or silver fabric to spare.  I wonder what she's up to?

Thanks, Catherine, for getting "Quilters Anonymous" reconnected.

I have a few other projects to get to first, and so my red hot fabrics will have to wait.  I'll have a chance to simmer ideas in the meantime.... 

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

devotion

We got Calico years ago from a humane society shelter.  She moved with us from IL to CT in '96.  She's had several medical challenges over the years, including  a thyroid problem.  And silly old girl has been diabetic for the last five years.  Yup, insulin shots at 8AM and 8PM every single day. Lately she has been losing weight, we call her "the incredible shrinking Callie".   In consultation with our vet, we are keeping her comfortable, waiting for her to let us know when she's ready to go to the land of catnip bliss.

Gretta and Calico are best friends, and I am not sure who was more missed these past few days, the girl or the cat.  This afternoon Gretta couldn't manage homework at the computer with Cal in her lap, so she pulled two stools together, got a pillow and now Callie is at just the right height for an occasional scratch under the chin.  And Callie still has an amazing purrrr.

Sweet.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

home sweet home

Airports, rental cars, guest beds (thank you, dear friends), hotels, food on the road......feels like I've been away more than I've been home lately.  It's all been good, but I crave sleeping in our very own bed, yogurt and granola for breakfast, steamed veggies for lunch. I'm even looking forward to getting the laundry under control and sorting the mail.  And time in my studio!  Gotta get that meadow bag in the mail, and that bird nest idea started....in the meantime, zzzzzzzzzzzzzz.......... 

Monday, February 23, 2009

first guest blogger-Gretta!

Knox College Top 10 (actually in no particular order)
10. The sweet midwestern accents, por ejemplo "Chicaaaaaago"
9. An amazing choir with a director who figured out my singing part (alto) just from hearing me introduce myself. And they go to Barcelona every other year. And they were really good. Like, really REALLY good.
8. I got to sit in a chair Abraham Lincoln sat in before the 5th (5 is my lucky number) Lincoln-Douglas debate. (The debate was hosted by Knox College). It felt... historical. That debate was the first time he really came out against slavery. They really like Honest Abe out here.
7. Meeting someone I thought was a professor... he asked if I had any questions for an alumni, and it turns out he knew my great aunt and uncle. Then he asked if I had any questions for the president of the college, because he happened to be that too.
6. I wore a purple sweater (their colors are purple and gold) without meaning to. Symbolism? Fate?
5. I can play volleyball at Knox for a stellar coach! And their mascot is Prairie Fire, pretty fun and unique.
4. Amazing dinner at the Landmark Cafe, but sadly the dinner was so delicious we didn't have room for crepes. Not even in the special dessert compartment of the stomach.
3. The sound of the trains coming through town... it reminds me of my childhood.
2. They have environmental studies, biology, and latin american history.
1. Their library actually looked like it was used... it was really cozy!

So, not sending the deposit check quite yet, but it's looking pretty good. Hannah has already decided she's transferring for her senior year (although I think she was kidding), so that should be fun. :)

I feel pretty special to be the first guest blogger... GO PRAIRIE FIRE!

P.S. From Karen...Did we mention that we bought a sweatshirt?

Sunday, February 22, 2009

p.s. on the road

A license plate we saw on a Honda hybrid,  "HEY OPEC"

A billboard for John Deer tractors, "Do you dream in green?"

illinois

Flannel jammies, a new book, knitting, a remote control and a hotel room all to myself.  Pretty sweet.  When my eyes glaze over with the Academy Award nonsense, I'll move on to reading, and then turn out the light out whenever I want to.  Bliss.

Had a very long overdue and good visit with our old buddies in La Grange.  We were neighbors and had kids the same ages and we all sort of grew up together.  They are some of my favorite people in the whole world.  We had not seem them in many years, and we just picked up right where we had left off. It was very hard to say good bye this morning. 

Then we went to church, where it was youth Sunday and had hugs and quick catch ups where we could.  

We moved away from the midwest in '96, and there have been a lot of changes, of course, but I love that the stuff between good friends can carry on over the distance of miles and time. 

This afternoon was filled with a three hour drive on a very flat and straight interstate highway. Gretta is a good traveling companion and we enjoyed SIRIUS radio in the rental car. She is staying in a dorm tonight and will sit in on classes tomorrow and I will join her for a campus tour.  I'll be curious to see whether we decide to buy a school sweatshirt or not.....




Saturday, February 21, 2009

remembering and dreaming



Gretta and I are off EARLY this morning to the midwest. We are hoping that our flight is able to get us to O'Hare despite the snow.  We are catching up with dear friends from our days in Chicagoland, then we are going to look at a DIFFERENT college.  While we are traveling, here are some pictures of our garden in VT last summer.  It was our first summer on the property, and we appreciated the beds built by the former owner, and especially the asparagus he had planted! Ordering seeds last night got us remembering last summer's harvest, and dreaming about this summer's. Are you remembering and dreaming ?  Do you tend a garden? Please tell us about yours in the comments section. Thanks!

Friday, February 20, 2009

friday tidbits


Lindsey attended a workshop called "simple sourdough bread" at the NOFA conference.  She came away with a small bit of sourdough starter, which she took good care of.  She gave me a bit before she left Vermont, and I am doing my best to grow it along here in CT.  We'll see....
And this morning I have been working on another "Meadow bag".  I am using stuff from my extensive (cough, cough) fabric stash.  The two lavender pieces are actually tea towels I bought on sale years ago at a Dansk outlet in Michigan, they have been languishing in my fabric stash ever since.  Time to put them to work. This bag will go out to a benefit auction for the YWCA Genesis Shelter in Richmond, IN. Their mission is "to assist in ending the cycle of abuse". I guess every little bit helps, and that's why I'm sewing love and hope into this bag....
And tonight, Peter and I have a date to sit down and order seeds for the vegetable garden.  This is a dangerous proposition for folks like us, who are looking at snow out our windows.  The allure of green, growing things is hard to resist.  The challenge is not to order more than we can actually deal with in May, all the while, imagining the wonderful salads, soups and stir fries...... 

Thursday, February 19, 2009

speaking of faith, again


Yesterday we listened to another segment of Speaking of Faith , "Obama's Theologian".  The segment was about Reinhold Niebuhr...podcast and text are available on the website.  

The segment was a bit dry for me, but I found one particular GEM in the midst of all the talk. Host Krista Tippet quoted Reihold Niebuhr's last teaching assistant, Ronald Stone and he said this about Niebuhr, "he had a deep personal religiosity, but disdained discussion of personal beliefs in the public square.  He said that far better to have good political ideas and a way to carry them out pragmatically than to win votes through pious protestations. Religious language should be inspired by love, but translated through the vocabulary of justice into the political realm."  

Isn't it all about love?  And to have love and justice linked so clearly in this day and age!  Bravo! And to link justice with the political realm, bravo again!  This has long been part of my spirituality, and it is not bound by denominational hindrances that separate us.  Love and justice are what the whole human family is about.  The trick is moving this hope forward into a world that is weary and broken.  This is the challenge every single morning when we open our eyes to a new day. Remember friends, to eat healthy food, rest and laugh...we need all the energy we can muster! 

OK I am stepping down off my soapbox now.




Wednesday, February 18, 2009

the gift of food

Carrot soup, salad greens with chopped vegetables and "vinaigretta" salad dressing, naan bread, sparkling apple cider and stem ginger biscuits.  A young man in Gretta's class lost his beloved Dad to cancer about a month ago.  Many of us have been taking turns making dinner for his family.  It is not much, but it is the something we can do to help nourish them and help mend their broken hearts.

Our family keeps a practice of holding hands in silence before we eat dinner. Sometimes we thank aloud the farmers who tend the soil, and watch over the crops as they grow and harvest them when they are ripe.  We thank the truckers, out on the road, late at night, far from their families, bringing that harvest to the cold bound markets of the north.  When we are able to eat locally, we are delighted. We try not to take our food for granted.

Do you know of the Tassajara cookbook series?  I first discovered the Tassajara Bread Book, by Edward Espe Brown back in the 70's (yeah).  This is from his Tassajara Cooking , "The way to cook is to cook...Just feed, satisfy, nourish.  Enter each activity thoroughly, freshly, vitally. Splash!  There is completely no secret: just plunging in, allowing time, making space, giving energy, tending the situation with warm-hearted effort.  The spoon, the knife, the food, the hunger; broken plates and broken plans.  Play, don't work. Work it out."

************************************
Let this food bless us,
heal us, balance us,
energize us,
and put us in harmony
with everything good in
the universe.

by Theo Levine and Sonya Heller
From 100 Graces, Mealtime Blessings selected by Marcia and Jack Kelly


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

look what I found when I got home!

Waiting for me on our kitchen counter.  Thanks Peter, for these precious little daffodils, my favorite flower.  

(The Strafford Dairy milk bottle is there to show scale.) 

driving mr henry

Henry and I are safely home after driving from VT to CT without stopping (4 hours door to door). This sign, "frost heaves", is posted right down the road from our place in VT. It's a dirt road and very well maintained by our town's dedicated road crew. The most hazardous driving conditions exist when the road is somewhere in between frozen and thawed.  In fact, Vermont boasts five seasons in a year, one of them being the famous MUD SEASON.  Right now, there are deep ruts, looks almost like corduroy.  When the ruts are muddy, it's bad enough, but when the ruts freeze, driving can feel like an amusement park ride!  Even a local or two has had to be towed out of an occasional predicament.  And there is more snow forecast for tomorrow. 

By the time we got to our neighborhood in CT, the challenges were the human kind...tailgating, non-existent use of turn signals and ignoring stop signs.  For so many reasons, I really do think I was born a country mouse...

I can't wait to find some time to get into my sewing room/studio in the next few days!  I have been pacifying myself with knitting, but that is just a minor distraction... 


Monday, February 16, 2009

resting

knitting again and pruning the apple trees

I am using up yarn from other projects to make a pair of "muttons" for Gretta--one done, one to go. I had made a pair for Lindsey for Christmas with a somewhat complicated and bothersome thumb hole. When Franny was here she showed me a MUCH easier solution...just bind off six stitches, knit around a row and cast on six stitches where you bound off the others. Voila!  A neat buttonhole arrangement for your thumb! What had been a pretty easy project has gotten even better. Thank you Franny.

Nothing like a few days with a bunch of awesome farmers to inspire......here's Peter out pruning one of the apple trees this morning, and another that is awaiting his magic touch.  These poor trees have been neglected for a while, and we are hoping Peter's efforts will help them gain a new lease on life (and inspire them to grow more apples!).  

We had a really fun pot luck supper last night with our VT neighbors over the ridge, Ellen and Don.  We compared notes on workshops at the NOFA conference. Then Gretta and Lindsey had us laughing like crazy people (being a generation apart) as we compared notes on dating.   

Henry and I are staying over one more night as the rest of the fam heads back to the real world. Hope the ski/long weekend traffic doesn't slow them down too much.   Making lists and plans, I've got to hit the ground running tomorrow after being away from home for most of a week.....

Sunday, February 15, 2009

local food sovereignty

Fearless pruning, blueberries galore, simple sourdough bread, native fruits, models of farm to school, black walnuts, root cellars, apple varieties for northern new england, growing organic wheat, greenhouses....Lindsey drove up from Boston, Peter and Gretta came up from CT on Friday and I joined them all today.  We did the divide and conquer thing and attended MANY workshops this weekend. Can't wait till dinner when we'll gather around the table and compare notes.

This annual NOFA-VT conference helps us feel just a little closer to our rural dreams.  Here's a picture of a wee bit of the crowd.  Next year's conference is moving to a bigger space, because NOFA is a happening thing!  Vermont is way ahead of the curve on the local sustainability front.  It's very exciting to be part of it, even in a small way for now.  

Saturday, February 14, 2009

legacies


It's 8pm and I just got home from La Guardia.  Very busy board meeting, very fun visits with Hannah.  I am posting these two pictures, because they tell a lot about Earlham.

The top picture is of a statue of Mary Dyer that sits in front of the Meetinghouse.  The inscription reads, "Mary Dyer Quaker, witness for religious freedom, hanged on Boston Common, 1660".  There is an exact copy of this statue which sits in front of the State House in Boston.  Mary Dyer's statue gazes out over the generations at Boston Common, where she was hanged almost three and a half centuries ago.

The inscription over the fireplace in the college's dining room is Earlham's motto, "They gathered sticks and kindled a fire and left it burning". 

Two distinctive legacies, eh?

Not to mention that I met my Valentine at Earlham College...

And tomorrow I am up and out the door at 6am, driving to VT to catch the keynote speaker at the NOFA-VT conference, Eliot Coleman, organic gardening guru.

Here's one of my favorite poems, by Edna St Vincent Millay, First Fig.

My candle burns at both ends;
 It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends--
 It gives a lovely light!

Friday, February 13, 2009

fabric friends

I have been in meetings for two days straight, yesterday from 8am-9pm. I am not used to sitting still for so long.

Funny story. At the beginning of our gathering last night, which was with a larger group, we were asked to introduce ourselves by saying our name, our connection to the college, and something about our passion in life. I am working on owning the words "art quilter", so I said that about myself. This was a room of probably 60-70 people. It felt OK.

Some of the folks who spoke after me used the words "fabric fondler" and "quilting enabler" (a husband). Soon there was a mini community of us in that room.......a very fun experience. At dinner I sat across from a professor of art history. We had a conversation about fabric manipulation and dying. We talked about how textiles are a common thread through cultures, and of women especially. We talked about the Gee's Bend quilts, Julia had seen them when they came to the Indianapolis Museum of Art.

And someone has asked to see my work, and I promised to send some photos in an email. I need to find some of my faves to share. Building up courage, stepping out. Whew!

Sorry there are no pictures today, I am in the computer lab, and I can't find an Apple!

Out to dinner with Hannah is next.......

Thursday, February 12, 2009

greener than before

While I'm on the road.........

Old trick--My grandmother hung a curtain between her back bedrooms and the rest of the house. Those rooms were kept cooler for sleeping, and saved energy. We've done the same between our "bonus room" and the rest of the house. The room was great when there were 6 of us living here, but now we really only use it on weekends. So the thermostat is set low, and the room is curtained off (cheaper than a door, and it lets the light through), saving us energy and money, too.

New trick--We've installed programmable thermostats, which enable us to control the temperatures in the different heating zones of our house. Upstairs is chilly, except for early morning wake up/shower time. Downstairs in wintertime requires a sweater or two, but on sunny days, the sunshine from our south facing windows provides a boost!

Between the new and the old ideas, we've definitely seen a difference in our oil bills this winter. And we've had a snowy, cold (for Connecticut) winter so far.

The front door needs to have the weather stripping replaced. It's on the "to do" list. That will help, too. And every little bit adds up......we save money and our footprint on this beautiful and amazing globe is lighter.




Wednesday, February 11, 2009

more andy goldsworthy


In response to my blog of 1/22/09 , my dear friend Dolo sent me an envelope filled with goodies. She sent a lovely brochure from the Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University, where Stone River sits on a three acre site.  Created by Andy Goldsworthy, the piece was "Constructed of sandstone quarried from university buildings destroyed in the 1906 and 1989 earthquakes". Also included was a copy of the diary Mr Goldsworthy kept while working at Stanford. I've tucked it in my bag, to read on the plane later today. I hope to see  Stone River  in person someday.

Dolo also reminded me of a wonderful documentary, Rivers and Tides, available through Netflix, which gives rich insight into Mr Goldsworthy's work.

I found this sweet bird's nest on the ground late last fall, under the tree it had fallen out of. I have an idea for an art quilt (in the spirit of A.G.), which I will sketch and play with on my journeys this week. It may take a while to find the time to sew it, but I'll share it when I do.



 

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

sunrise thru a window screen



I was up early this AM and caught sight of this sunrise, a bookend to last night's moonrise! Busy day ahead, getting ready to head out to Earlham College tomorrow to see our daughter Hannah and spend a few days in meetings.  So much to do, I'm not sure how to proceed out the front door. Triage, I guess!  I never understand folks when they say they are bored.

If you are curious about Earlham, use the link above and be sure to read its mission statement (found in the "about Earlham" tab).

I have a few posts drafted, so I may resort to using them while I'm away.  But I will try to do one or two live posts from Indiana. Earlham is a place dear to my heart, and so I'll try to share it with you. 

Be well, friends.

Monday, February 9, 2009

temptation




















I ordered some LOVELY fabric from Ink and Spindle in Australia.  The fabric is hand screened on cotton/linen with environmentally friendly solvent free ink.  Enclosed in the package were these two sweet postcards!  I await inspiration for ideas of what to do with this...I just know I love it (did you notice it's birches)?  Check out the website for other beautiful designs.

One of the postcards shows a little girl sitting in a room, wallpapered with a gingko leaf motif.  I was thinking of how much fun it would be to carve a few gingko foam or lino blocks and use them to print directly on a wall.  Maybe someday in VT...

And this also reminds me of my Dad's studio when I was a very young girl.  He painted the walls with tree trunks, using a soft brown, grey, white and black, I think.  It was a long time ago...

Sunday, February 8, 2009

henry in vermont




Maybe this is what grace is,
the unseen sounds that make you look up.

-Anne LaMott

Saturday, February 7, 2009

spreading hope


   













In the late fall, the farmers up on our road in VT cut down the corn stalks, just about the time the first snows fly. The pattern that's formed is lovely...rows of evenly spaced stubs, just poking out of the snow, gently following the curves of the landscape.  I marvel at those farmers, out in the cold, sitting up on their tractors, closing up the growing season.  And I wonder at the hope they harbor in their hearts, year after year, as they consider the spring. 

That's where I got the inspiration for this "coffee cup challenge" (see January 29th for my first).  BE THE EXAMPLE, SPREAD HOPE, -Cat Corn.

These were my guidelines:
  1. Use a bunch of stuff I grabbed on my way out the door on Friday.
  2. No sewing machine...so hand sewing only.
  3. Complete in an hour and a half.
So, I ended up taking about an hour and 45 minutes to finish it.  I worked with the idea of spreading hope/seeds/growth.  The beading reflects light/radiance/illumination...all part of hope as far as I'm concerned.

I think hope is about having faith, dreaming, wishing, aspiration, cherishing, cooperating and persisting and inspiration and working hard, too.

These challenges are fun.  They prevent me from over thinking a piece, perfection is not an option, so they relax my approach and free me up.  When there's a time limit it encourages me to integrate mistakes, rather than start over.

My photo quality still leaves a lot to be desired, but you can click on an image to open a new window, with better detail........

Friday, February 6, 2009

retreat


a safe, quiet place.
a period of seclusion, esp. for spiritual renewal.

This is how our birches look today.  I've escaped to our place in VT to have some time without the distraction of TV or internet (right now I'm at a cafe w/ wireless).

Reading to do for meetings next week,  another coffee cup challenge, and catching up on some kitchen freshening that Peter started last time he was up...

It's cold, but clear and beautiful.  Had to shovel @ 3 feet of snow between the plowed driveway and the front porch.  Good cardio workout!  How blessed we are to have this oasis.....

Thursday, February 5, 2009

P.S. to today's post

Speaking of Faith is available as a podcast, so you can listen to it whenever you have time.  The archives are full of really great segments.

knitting and listening and watching


Franny's socks are on the left, my first of two arm/wrist warmers is on the right.  We knit as we sat with a group at church to listen to a segment of Speaking of Faith, hosted by Krista Tippett. A production of American Public Media, SoF is a wonderful collection of interviews with leading thinkers.  The segment we listened to was with Pankaj Mishra, on  An End to Suffering, the Buddah in the World.  The conversation between Tippett and Mishra was rich and resonated with many of us when we considered what's been going on with Obama and some of his nominees for important posts this week.  Repossessing virtue. Living ethically.  Rulers as righteous leaders.  Yeah, how hungry have we been for this?

Then we picked Gretta up from school and went to see a matinee showing of Slumdog Millionaire.  All I will say is GO SEE IT.  

Namaste.

 

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

meadow bag and valentines

My oldest daughter, Lindsey, who works in Boston, found this bird and flower print fabric and asked me if I could make her a bag.  It took a long time to find a pattern she liked, and then I found it was being offered as a class at my favorite quilt shop.  The "Meadow" pattern by "Melly and me" comes from Australia. Thanks, Noreen, for a great class! We finished our bags up in class yesterday. One of the tricks was finding other coordinating fabrics that didn't compete with the bird fabric too much.  Hope Lindsey likes it!  It went into the mail this morning. 
Meanwhile, one of my best buddies, Fran (see gingko post) has been here for a few days on her way from Florida back to Maine.  Gretta took the very first nap of her life on Franny's shoulder, so this is an intergenerational best buddy kind of situation.  Gretta had an early dismissal from school, due to snow (again). So, after my class, Franny and I picked Gretta up from school and we headed home to make valentines.  The snow kept flyin' all afternoon...

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

heirloom cactus


I grew up in Massachusetts, right next door to my paternal grandparents.  I was especially close to my grandmother.  One of my favorite memories is of running down the gravel driveway on Sunday nights to watch the next episode of Masterpiece Theatre.  It was a ritual, we sat through the whole show (there were no commercial interruptions) before we could compare notes!  I also loved her pot roast, playing dominoes on her enameled top table in the kitchen (clink, plunk on the metal), helping her take baskets of flowers from her own spectacular perennial beds down to the cemetery on "Remembrance Day".  Because her father had been a dentist, she asked my brothers and I to "show me your teeth" after we had been to see our own dentist! She was a high school teacher, and I see bits of her in our son, Stewart, who teaches high school too. I miss her to this day.

My Grammie Lowry's amazing green thumb lives on in our dining room.  For years she had an enormous Christmas cactus growing in a south facing window.  One day, when she was very old, I was visiting from Chicago and asked her if I could have a snip off the end of the cactus.  We wrapped it in a wet paper towel, then plastic wrap and I stowed it in my luggage.  When I got home, I rooted it and planted it in a tiny pot (this is beginning to sound a bit like Gary Gingko, eh?).  It grew and grew and came with us when we moved to CT.  You can see from the pics I took today, it would make my Gram proud.  I've snipped a few bits off the end of this beauty and passed them along as gifts, too.  

Monday, February 2, 2009

reflecting



...on two weeks of blogging.  What a fun adventure it has been!  Thank you many folks, who have left "comments" or gotten in touch with me via email.  Your heartfelt feedback has been both humbling and inspiring.  Let me share a few things with you.
  • Thanks go out to my clever and fun daughter-in-law, Dawn, who came up with the sew/sow play on words.
  • Thanks, too, to Jane and Elin, whose blogs I have followed for ages, and who nudged me into this.
  • And thanks to my amazingly talented brothers, Douglas and Nelson.  Last March, Nelson (who lives in London) and I were both in Portland, OR at the same time without knowing it.  By the magic of email, we realized we were in the same city! We had a great afternoon together and he said something that has been lurking on my mind ever since.  He told me that my creativity might manifest itself in any number of ways.  He's younger, but maybe wiser? And, Doug, multi talented beyond measure, I sit in his shadow, looking up.
  • Gail and Margie, who are leading a wonderful class called "Spirit in Practice" at the UCiW, which has helped me connect with my spirituality in new ways, and helped inspire this venture.
  • My best buddy Nancy from way back (and I'm talking way back, our birthdays are 6 days apart, and our folks were best friends) likened this blog to "birthing this new babe".  She really gets this emptying nest thing.
  • I've reconnected with Catherine and Karen J.  We used to "stitch and bitch" together in our "Quilter's Anonymous" group until they each moved away.
  • I've gotten to know my Mom's friend, Judy, through her blog.
  • I'm amazed at the world wide web and how it connects us.  I have LOVED following the ginger cats in Wales.  Then I found Vivien through a comment she left on the ginger blog. Turns out, she knows Natayla, another quilt artist who I admire.  Natalya has a piece in Art Quilts at Play!   Is that a crazy circle or what?  Then there's "quiltcat" who is generous in her comments, too.  And I'm still trying to figure out how Pakitow  in Barcelona found my blog (thanks!).
  • Yeah, so this blogging stuff takes time.  But I'm loving it.  It has helped create a new structure for my days, has motivated me to come up with fresh ideas to share, and it's gotten me in touch with friends, both old and new.  Pretty cool.
  • And very special thanks go out to my Mumsie, who first sat me down in front of a sewing machine.
  • My kids will confirm that I really am a techno dinosaur, who has been reluctant to "get onboard" for years.  But now Gretta calls me "a blog crazy" and lamented to Elin that, "I want my Mommy back".  But I think the genie is out of the bottle........

Sunday, February 1, 2009

henry and the hyacinth
















Just to be is a blessing.  Just to live is holy.
-Abraham Joshua Heschel