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

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

gretta has launched her own blog!

 check it out.


Fantastic Mr. Fox

july 2009, @ "a bit of earth"
nelson's visit from london 

I have tried every way I know how, to embed a You-Tube video onto my blog. 
To no avail. You'll just have to follow this link to see.

My brother, Nelson, is Production Designer for this film.

As his older sister, I am feeling some unabashed pride.

new projects and old and a fun link

new projects...

1.) a gift in progress...above.

2.) and i've made a few more sachets filled with 
needles from our balsams up in vt.

3.) i was delighted be be asked to serve on
 the board of trustees at wooster school.
i attended my first meeting on saturday, 
and i look forward to doing this good work.

you may remember the quilt i made last spring
  for the wooster auction.

old projects...
1.) gretta's quilt, with no thanks to my bothersome assistant.
peter is going out for parent's weekend at knox next weekend, 
so once again, i have a deadline to help me along.
2.) the muttons are off the needles. just in time for chilly mornings!

a fun link...

ages ago, when i was a newly-wed, 
i met a dear friend, gail, and her family.
her youngest, in elementary school,
named lindsey, just sparkled.
(our lindsey carries a bit of that sparkle around, too.)
years passed, we stayed in and out of touch.
now lindsey has published a book, titled 
and i invite you to check out her blog.

back to the sewing machine!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

staying connected to young adult children

We had a cord of wood delivered here in CT. In the old days, our kids would work at stacking it for us, to earn spending money. Stewart did such an artist's job with the wood, that friends would hire him to stack theirs! Batman and I are missing those helping hands right now, as we go out and stack, bit by bit.

Some of you may remember the days back in Illinois, when we all cleaned the house together on Saturday mornings, and then the kids would trek off to buy GUM, for Gum Day. The only day in the week they were allowed such treats. They looked like Jersey cows for the rest of the day! 

We always had a chore wheel (adapted from summer camp), that rotated every week. I wish now I had saved one.

This nostalgia was inevitable, right? Ya, well, those were the golden years in the Reed family, when we all lived and loved under one roof.

So, what are we doing now, to stay connected? Sunday night conference calls, that's what. We all manage to check in on our week. All the while, the trains that chug past Gretta's dorm room window (out in Illinois), blast their whistles.

And we just started a family blog, where we post pictures, movie and book recommendations, recipes and who knows what else.  (Sorry, it's a private blog). I got the idea, because I am NOT Facebook friends with my kids, but I wanted a way to be in touch with them that was a step up from e-mail. Only up for a few days, the blog has already fulfilled its mission.

And yesterday, I had the pleasure of being interviewed by our daughter, Hannah, a senior (!!!) at Earlham College.  She is working with Len Clark and some students on a research project on consensus, funded by a Ford-Knight Grant. She was asking me about how Peter and I used consensus in raising our family. Although we did not actually use consensus in the formal Quaker way, we did use an inclusive process of decision making in our family. I was reminded that it took so much time and patience, and sometimes I wondered if it was worth it...but I think it's in part, why we are so blessed today. 

And now I am off to my sewingroom/studio, for some secret sewing and more work on Gretta's quilt. I am so excited to be heading off to a knitting class tonight!  

P.S. Thanks for your comments and emails about my "giving up" post. I am was a private, difficult but healthy decision for me. Sometimes trying to live a good life is not easy, and I don't think that should be glossed over. I appreciate your kind thoughts.

Monday, September 28, 2009


the rains have stopped and everything is fresh again.
the slanting sunlight, the clear air.
how can i not be inspired?

Be not simply good; be good for something.
-Henry David Thoreau

Sunday, September 27, 2009

it's a a rare day...

...when I finally give up on something. But today, after looking at a situation from many different angles, with an open heart and mind, with dedication, love and endless agonizing...I have finally said, 


I just need to set this sad situation down by the side of the road in my journey and walk away. Sigh.

I am blessed that my life is full in so many other ways, I know I will be OK. I still have my church in the woods.

And I know that sometimes letting go of one thing makes room for other things...

Saturday, September 26, 2009

there's a green buzz in my ear

Gretta's guest post, Dottie Angel's challenge-of-the-utmost-kind and the Buy Sustainably Challenge have converged to remind me...AGAIN... that making small changes and developing new habits can have an impact on the health of this fragile planet. I'm trying to BE AWARE of my own actions more often. Not quite ready to take on Dottie Angels tough challenge, but she has me thinking about things...
I buy in bulk when I can, keeping unnecessary packaging out of landfill. I use the backs of envelopes to make grocery lists, and when I'm done with them, I toss them into the recycling bin. I use the backs of used paper, torn in half and collected on a clip board, for other lists/phone messages. I use a mechanical pencil, with refillable leads. And here's another one of our cloth napkins, circa 1999, still in use today.
We use unbleached coffee filters (in VT we use a French Press to avoid paper all together) and unbleached waxed paper, too, and we wash, drip dry and reuse veggie bags. I'm trying to move away from using tea bags and am buying more tea in bulk. The only time we use paper towels is to drain nitrate-free bacon that comes through our doors for special treats. I even pay attention to what kind of TP I buy. Earth friendly cleaning products, and lots of vinegar and baking soda and lemon juice, too. 

Then there's the programmable thermostat, drying racks and clothesline and mending I've written about before. Eating locally grown food whenever possible, and eating mostly plant-based foods helps, and has health benefits, too. 

So, that's all nice, but...what now?

Here's my list of personal challenges I am embarking on this fall. If I share them here, I can't goof around, right?

  • Batman and I are challenging/supporting  one another to lose 10 pounds each by Dec. 15th. To eat lower on the food chain and get fitter. (Our own version of healthcare reform).
  • As a family, we have pledged to make our own holiday gifts, or buy handmade from folks we know/meet at artists' fairs. Homemade music, food, clothing, gifts...all are celebrated. We did this last year and it was one of the best holidays ever. 
  • I will begin to divest this house of it's STUFF, sorting for recycling, giving away, Goodwill, repurposing, and as a last resort, trash.
  • Now that we are empty nesters, I would love to rethink the space we have here in CT. Create new areas and get a few trouble spots ORGANIZED. Because I think that staying organized conserves time and energy and counts towards greenness!
  • As we freshen things up, we will try to make green choices in the materials we use. Like wall paint that doesn't off gas and flooring that is sustainable (I can't WAIT to get rid of old carpet that was in the house when we bought it!).
OK, I'm thinking that's enough for now.


How about you, do any of you have the strength of spirit to join Dottie Angel's challenge? I know brave Pomona already has! 

Friday, September 25, 2009

namaste forrest church

autumn crocus, blooming in our yard

Today I heard the sad news of the death of Rev. Forrest Church. 

In a world that is sometimes difficult to navigate, Forrest's compass was inspirational. Whatever your religious beliefs are/or are not, this spiritual man's life has something to offer was hope-filled and joyous. I recommend his writings to you. This summer, I read Love and Death, My Journey Through the Valley of the Shadow. It reminded me of so many things I already know, and got me thinking in new directions as well.

His words, "Want what you have. Do what you can. Be who you are" have been at the top of my blog for a while now. They are there because they keep me focused on the here and now. These words help me to love more and fear less. They are a touchstone for me as I try to live with intention. Today and tomorrow...

Namaste Forrest Church.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

"conflicted", a guest post from Gretta

my bike found a soul mate!


So I have made it through 2 weeks of preseason volleyball and about 2 weeks of classes. I have run lots of timed miles (I got down to a 7:45 today!!!), eaten lots of cafeteria food (including some visits to the softserve machine), and read hundreds of pages already. But I still found time to look at “The Bill McKibben Reader”, which I got at Books on the Common before I left.

            I decided to read the article “The End of Nature: The Greenhouse Experiment”, which was published in The New Yorker onSeptember 11, 1989. This (rather long) passage caught my attention:

“And so who was walking with me in the woods? Well, there were the presidents of the Midwestern utilities, who kept explaining why they had to burn coal to make electricity (cheaper, fiduciary responsibility, no proof it kills trees), and then there were the congressmen, who couldn’t bring themselves to do anything about it (personally favor, but politics the art of compromise, very busy with the war on drugs), and before long the whole human race had arrived to explain it’s aspirations. We like to drive, it said, air-conditioning is a necessity nowadays, let’s go to the mall. Of course, the person I was fleeing most fearfully from was myself, for I drive, and I’m burning a collapsed barn behind my house next week because it is much the cheapest way to deal with it, and I live on about four hundred times the money Thoreau conclusively proved was enough, so I’ve done my share to take this independent, eternal world and turn it into a science-fair project.” He concludes with this thought: “We have built a greenhouse- a human creation- where once there bloomed a sweet and wild garden.”

As I begin my journey to a probable Environmental Studies major, I am already feeling overwhelmed and conflicted. There are so many things wrong, and so few people doing anything about them. And then there’s MY life- I’m conflicted about what clubs to join, what classes to take next term, who to be friends with, and on top of all THAT I have to make daily decisions about sustainability. Yeah, I got 100% recycled notebooks with cute trees on the cover for my classes this term, but I bought them at Walmart. Am I going to try to get a ride across town to go to the, like, ONE store that has organic food, or am I going to eat the nasty pesticide filled apples in the caf? I want to live a totally green life, but it’s hard when I don’t really get to make my own food or energy decisions.  But hey, at least it’s not just me. At least I’m not alone- Bill McKibben is in the same predicament! I think we all get so bogged down by the enormity of what needs to be done that we forget that even if we all make one small change in our lives, we can begin the change. Print double-sided, walk across campus instead of driving (people do it!), recycle that freaking water bottle (or better yet, invest in a reusable one, preferably without BPAs)! If you haven’t already, start your environmental education today!

a little p.s.

today's poem from the writer's almanac. lovely.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

presto change-o

Yesterday morning these carrots were snug in the ground in Vermont. Today, they were baked into a lovely, organic (except for the vanilla) confection in my kitchen in Connecticut. Simplicity itself.

Wish I could share a slice with each of you...

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

pray the devil back to hell

sunrise, looking west from "a bit of earth".
an equinox morning...
pulled from the garden in vermont this morning
and in my fridge in connecticut this afternoon.

simple, homegrown, sustainable, powerful veggies.
think about it.


last night, ellen an i went to the vermont premier of a most amazing movie.
if you have a chance to see it, GO. 
some parts are rough (and well they should be).
but it is also full of hope and love and inspiration.
it's about liberian women and the grassroots activism they
used to end a bloody civil war and bring peace to their country.

a woman in the movie asks 
"does a bullet know christian from muslim?"

there really is such power in the most simple things.

Monday, September 21, 2009

waiting for the equinox...

Threshold comes from to thrash/thresh-
a place where grain is beaten from its husk,
where what has been hidden is manifested.
-Linda Sussman

Sunday, September 20, 2009

the 138th tunbridge world's fair

our friends, teresa and dan, came up from ct for the weekend.
we had never been to the fair and saturday was a perfect fall day, so we went!
we crossed a footbridge to get from the parking area to the fair.

we watched the cavalcade of livestock from the grandstand.
I fell in L-O-V-E with these oxen.
are they not beautiful?
the next generation gives me hope.
a vintage canvas banner in the floral hall.
we also spent a good bit of time in the livestock barns.
some more beauties, the same color as the oxen!
a prize winning bouquet.

home for supper...
and back out again, this time to the Chandler Music Hall, to see
Tom Rush on stage.
he put on a really fun show.

and today we all worked out it the sunshine, 
gathering downed saplings and branches from the woods.
(thanks dan and teresa, for your help!)
next time we're up, we'll cut the wood into sections that will fit in the woodstove.
we'll stash it in the woodshed, so it can season for next year's fires.

Friday, September 18, 2009

a tour of our "home comfort"

isn't she a beauty?
she's one of the things i love the most about our place in vt.
i think tonight we'll fire her up.
the temperature may drop below freezing...
she keeps the whole place cozy, and you can cook on her, too!
here's her simple, straightforward "technology". 
lindsey has tamed her, often baking rolls for holiday meals.
 her vintage logo.
upper left, the firebox, where the wood goes.
lower left, the ash drawer.
 middle, the oven.
lower right, storage and warming space.
upper right, water warming tank.
top left, cooking surface. 
top right, access to water tank.
my great aunt margretta's bean pot.
she used it to make boston baked beans when
 she and my great uncle harry 
owned sunrise farm back in the 1950's.
my love affair with vermont started back then when i was a toddler,
exploring the farm with cousins and aunts and uncles
 and my mom and dad.
my uncle david is hoping i'll make beans in the pot, 
in the home comfort.
i say, come on up uncle david!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

feelin' the spirit in vermont...

Did you know that trees talk?
Well they talk to each other,
and they'll talk to you if you listen...
I have learned a lot from trees:
sometimes about the weather, sometimes about animals,
sometimes about the Great Spirit.
-T. C. McLuhan

And, oh, I will miss the gentle/feisty spirit of Mary Travers in this world...

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

searching for the center in the midst of a scattered day

Breathing is an act of prayer.
-Frank Waters

Breathing in I calm my body and mind.
Breathing out I smile.
-Thich Nhat Hanh

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

a question and a silly wish

In 1977, I bought this book and took the next step into a quilting life...going from being fascinated by them to making them. That was back in the day when I used templates made of cardboard scraps, traced them onto fabric with a pencil and cut out the shapes with scissors! We have come a long way since then, with our rotary cutters, self healing mats and quilters's rulers. 

I'm remembering this book because one of my blog friends in the UK, Sue, has sent me an email asking some questions about quilting. She'd like to get started and asked me what book I would recommend for a beginner. (I love Sue's blog banner, it says "always busy, never bored").

Do you have a favorite beginner's quilting book that you would recommend to Sue?

And here's my silly wish. I am a busy person, too. Never bored. But sometimes I wish I could hang out with Henry all day long. He has his food (prescription and posh!) and fresh water plunked down in front of him twice a day, he migrates from porch to window, depending on what's going on outside. He naps in many cozy places and when he's feeling friendly, he'll pop up in a lap for gentle scritchy scratching. As far as I can tell, he has not a care in the world. He is brushed nearly everyday and I'd rather like to try all that for a day. 

Check out the life of the ginger cats and don estorbo if you're into cats living charmed lives. And these extra lucky ones...

So, what book would you recommend to a beginning quilter? Thanks!

Monday, September 14, 2009

gretta's college quilt

is on the basting table, and i'm in the process of using basting pins 
(specially curved to catch all 3 layers of fabric). 
thank you deb, for encouraging me to try this method.
i thought it was too nasty for my arthritic paws.
but it's turning out to be ok.
i like it better than dreary needle and thread basting.
the fabric came via a very clever marketing idea,
from moda.
they sell stacks of 10"x 10" squares.
42 cute different fabrics to a stack,
all from one collection.
this one is called "wonderland".
so you know they all "go together".
a little off from the original idea of patchwork,
 that is, using bits from here and there.
(oh well, as long as it was just a "special treat").
some folks cut the 10" squares into smaller pieces
 and work with them that way.
but using the squares as is
 was a quick and easy quilt top to put together.

gretta and i considered two other fabric options
 before this one really "sang" to us.

i hope to be quilting tomorrow morning...

and the winner is...

congratulations to
please e mail me your snail mail address ASAP, 
so that I can pop your selvedges in the mail.

there were 43 entries in the comments section 
and 10 more via e-mail!
i look forward to checking out all your blogs this week
when i have snippets of time to browse.
thanks for joining in the fun, folks!

i'll do another post later today, just wanted to get the 
giveaway squared away.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

"harvesting optimism"

On Saturday, Batman and I attended the Annual Celebration of the Vermont Land Trust, hosted by the Cellars at Jasper Hill in Greensboro, VT. The theme of the day was "harvesting optimism". After we checked in at the registration tent, we had a tour of the cellars. 
Reed children, we thought of you as we walked into the cheddar vault (above), where 577,000 pounds of cheddar can be aged at once. Wallace and Grommit, eat your hearts out!
All the cheeses above have "washed rinds".
Folks gathered under the tent for live music and conversation. Batman spotted a familiar face across the of his high school teachers from 35 years ago! Ted is in the midst of retiring to a farm in Vermont. He joined us for an excellent catered lunch of local foods (including CHEESE) and suppliers. It was fabulous! And there was very little waste...

Folks were encouraged to "clean your plates", and leftovers were composted.

After lunch, the business meeting was conducted and conservation awards were announced. Then the panel of speakers was introduced. If you do not know about these young men, you will someday soon. 
These guys are inspiring, innovative geniuses. We have heard them speak at the NOFA Conferences in 2008 and 2009. All entrepreneurs, they are creating an agricultural renaissance in Hardwick and Greensboro. Brew yourself a pot of tea and check out the links. What these guys are up to will warm your heart.

After the festivities, we followed Ted back to his place for a quick tour of his property, traded phone numbers and e mail addresses and then we headed back to "a bit of earth".

We're back in CT now, wishing we could stay in VT...but we keep learning and networking, so that "someday" we'll be ready for living the dream full time!

There's still a few hours left to leave your name for the selvedge giveaway! Scroll down for details....

Saturday, September 12, 2009

old and new quilting projects

Gretta's college quilt is on its way to the basting table. 
Pictures next week.

I'm hoping to have another guest blog post from Gretta soon.
And here's a few more squares for the quilt-along 
(it took a summer vacation).

There's still time to enter the selvedge give-away!
Scroll down for details.

Have a good weekend!

Friday, September 11, 2009

making choices

i watched the curtain blow into our bedroom with the storming wind.
henry yowled me out of bed, looking for his stinky breakfast.
i pulled up our sheets, softened by age, and smoothed the bedspread.
my familiar english breakfast tea brewed 
while I spooned yogurt into my bowl.

i am noticing and appreciating things this morning.
because our world is still here.
broken and bruised,
but still full of everyday moments and possibilities.

and i am choosing hope and and everyday.
because it helps.

selvedge giveaway

Last spring, I discovered Karen Griska's selvage blog. She spotlights projects sewn with the otherwise discarded, woven edges of fabric yardage. I was intrigued, and started my own "stash" of selvedges. Alas, in an effort to simplify my sewing goals, I am streamlining my crowded sewing room/studio. So, I am giving away this modest nest of selvedges. Any takers?

Please leave your first name and the initial of your last name in the comment section, or send me an email at sewandsowlife(at)gmail(dot)com. If you'd like, let me know what you might make with them. 

I'll keep the game going until Sunday night, then I'll pull a name out of a hat and post the winner on Monday morning.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

home grown and home sewn

While visiting Hannah at Earlham last spring, I bought this vivid pink dish towel at a Goodwill store (the camera hasn't captured exactly the right shade). Using scraps from the chard quilt (see below), I appliqued a few patches to the towel. Presto! A cheerful and fall-ish splash of color for our kitchen. For cheap.
CHARD, growing at "a bit of earth".
Chard is wicked good for you.

Have you tried chard and feta pie from 
Your Organic Kitchen by Jesse Ziff Cool?
(page 224) it's yummy!

Or lentil soup with cumin, cilantro and chard from 
Vegetable Soups by Deborah Madison?
(page 79) quick and easy!

Do you have a chard recipe you'd like to share?
Here's the CHARD lap quilt. Done.
Ready for the autumn chill.
Bring it on.