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

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

i was away and now i'm back

I went down to CT for a few days to help
Hannah move into her apartment.
We scrubbed, vacuumed and measured.
We shopped, hauled and lifted.
We sweated, hydrated and took breaks.
We cussed and tried to figure out how to cut a hole in her
stairway without anyone noticing.
(We didn't.)
A few evenings this week Batman and his toolbox
will be helping with furniture assembly.

I am happy that she has a cute little vintage 
firehouse on her block.
And that her neighbor downstairs has lived
there for years.
She can walk to the laundromat and one of the
funkiest, yummiest restaurants in the area.
Work is about a seven minute drive 
and she can get to our house in 17. 

Back in VT today,
I found a few ripe sungolds,
ready for lunch tomorrow.
The nasturtiums and marigolds are 
hitting their stride.
I have fabric from IKEA to sew into curtains 
for Hannah's place
and reading to catch up on.

And today is the last day of July.
(Thank goodness).
Time is flying!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

the simplest of pleasures

picking blueberries
braiding garlic

Sometimes, reaping what we sow is not a bad thing, eh?

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

birthdays near and far

Some birthday stitching for my cousin, Kristen.
To celebrate her day, six of us enjoyed a Sunday Farm Supper 
at Ariel's in Brookfield, VT.
Appetizer, entree and dessert,
all food sourced from farms within 10 miles of the restaurant.
Exquisitely Vermont.

Happy birthday to my youngest brother, Nelson, today.
I miss him, because he lives on the other side of the continent.
This fun Vimeo helped me feel a bit closer to him,
(do you have relatives that you miss?)
especially when the first slide he showed was of LEGO's
(the Lowry toy of choice)
He spoke at the Portland Art Museum
as part of the Portland/Creative Mornings series,
the importance of Arts+Tech
a themed month presentation in partnership with
the Rhode Island School of Design.

The piece is about 30 minutes long,
fascinating and entertaining.
(Just like Nelson)

Monday, July 23, 2012

regaining perspective

reading, taking walks, chickens, slowing down, silence,
immersing oneself in projects, counting blessings, prayer,
lounging in a hammock, and children...hugging them, playing with them.

i knew i could count on you, dear readers.
sometimes i need reminding, and i thank-you for this.
i finished reading rehearsing with gods last week
and i recommend it to you.
the essays are both thought-provoking and affirming
and the black and white photos of puppets 
are deeply spiritual and haunting and joyous,
all at the same time.

the last section of the book is on hope.

peter schumann, the genius behind
bread and puppet theatre called
ernst bloch's the principle of hope
"the most important book ever written".

from rehearsing with gods...
"And so we are deeply imbedded with hope, 
hope that fills a fruitful gap between 
the structure of the world
and human consciousness, hope that leads us to
search out and develop the possibilities of the universe".

Now that's something to work on!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

sanctuary from the news

From the art and antiques fair...found this morning, one thousand origami paper cranes, framed under glass. Serendipitous balm for my frayed soul (terrorism does not seem to have a nationality or religion, perhaps it is a reflection of the anguish and insanity in the heart of our human family?).
In the mail...a thoughtful, handcrafted note, packet of spinach seeds and bar of handmade Gardener's Soap (Mari Botanicals) from my sweet blogging friend, Sharon. Sharon and I are both working on rural dreams...she's a few steps ahead of me, and I love to see her progress. She is one of my favorite cheerleaders. :-)  
In the garden...the 2012 garlic harvest. Enough to make braids for loved ones near and far.
In the house...uncomplicated, simple corners---laundry drying on the line---tea brewing in a mason jar in the sun---the smell of freshly mown hay---the welcome chill that creeps in the open windows at night.
In the window...Henry and his pal Javier, on woodchuck patrol.

In my reading...check out the next book here

I am so glad we do not have TV reception up here on the ridge. I haven't even been listening to the radio as much, becoming distressed when I do. Where do you find refuge, dear readers, from the ravages of modern life? Please leave a comment. I will appreciate reading what you have to say. Thanks! xo 

Monday, July 16, 2012

plink plunk

Despite the heat, there was much adventuring from our "bit of earth" this weekend! The place was just as I love to imagine it...a gathering place for friends and family and a jumping off place for everyone, too. 
Lindsey, on my/her rehabbed vintage 10 speed, and her buddy Emily on her even more vintage Robin Hood 3 speed English bike did the 25 mile loop of the Islands Bike Tour. Hannah and Gretta lent support with the chase car (the Batmobile). They came home in the late afternoon with bags of local, fresh produce and a bottle from Snow Farm Winery. We enjoyed a fabulous supper...couldn't decide which was better...the food or the company. 

On Sunday morning we enjoyed buttermilk pancakes sprinkled with the first of our very own blueberries. I took Gretta back to camp, Batman and Hannah went for a paddle in the canoe and the two biker girls stretched their weary legs with a walk on the road. By late Sunday afternoon the house regained it's post-weekend quietness. That emptiness makes me sad and content at the same time. 

In the early evening, Hannah and I drove up and over the Rochester Gap, to the Big Town Gallery where we heard Tracy K Smith, the 2012 Pulitzer Prize winner for poetry read from her newest collection, Life on Mars. We were nestled in the gallery, set up with ancient wooden folding chairs, and a gentle drizzle coming down outside. What a blessing it was to sit quietly and let Tracy's lyrical words soak into us. Her work is brilliant, honest and deeply human. For me, poetry is magically different than any other form of written word, and I find deep comfort in it...even the tough stuff.

There had been a bit of overnight rain up here, but not nearly enough. I woke to this view this morning, with the mists nestled in the valleys. When we bought the place five years ago, the man we bought it from said, "It's beautiful up here every day of the year".  That's turned out to be the absolute truth.
As I walked out into the wet morning to pick some berries for my breakfast, I was reminded of Blueberries for Sal, one of the best books ever. The water dripping off the metal roof of the shed, the morning song of the birds, the smell of freshly mown hay and the plink plunk of the blueberries dropping into the bowl reminded me of how perfect the present moment can be. Sometimes it is all we need.

Friday, July 13, 2012

melting again

We will have a houseful this weekend, and I wanted something pretty for a centerpiece. While I was out doing errands this afternoon, I drove over to Liberty Farm. They have a farm stand with an adjacent pick your own flower garden.  I could not resist the zinnias and bachelor buttons...the black-eyed-susan are from our meadow. I smile every time I walk past them. A simple summer pleasure.
The temperature is rising up here in Vermont, and there has not been rain for ages. This is great haying weather for the farmers, but hope for another cutting later in the summer wanes as the skies stay hazy. Every few days I water our own humble little garden. I water sparingly early in the morning and hope that our well does not protest!
 Even in the evening, you can see the heat and humidity hanging over the side yard (or maybe that's bugs!)

Dear readers, thank you so much for sharing your summer book ideas the other day! I've made note of them and will keep them in mind for the future. Take a peek to see what I'm reading this week
I have no idea why Henry seeks out the direct sunshine in the middle of the day. We are very different creatures, he and I.
This is his favorite late afternoon spot, which we vie for in the winter months, but not in July, thank you very much.
Henry's buddy Javier, who is visiting us in VT for a week has more sense and enjoys napping downstairs where it is much cooler. 

I have set up my sewing machine, but have yet to start a project. I guess I should do that early in the morning, too, before my ambition wilts in the heat.

Sending all of you best wishes for a weekend full of whatever you are hoping for...

Monday, July 9, 2012

an expanding sense of calm

our portable sunday morning sanctuary. 
the canoe. 
worship on the water.
listening for the tea kettle.
dreaming of a lupine meadow.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

day one

In preparation for some of my summer intentions/ideas, I've played around with the pages just under the sewandsowlife header here on my home page.

As I concentrate on localizing and lightening up what goes on in my kitchen this summer, I thought I'd share some great resources I've been gathering. Check them out, under the food page, above.

I'm also going to try to read a book a week, with a special concentration on Vermont authors, illustrators and themes. Keep an eye on my progress (and keep me accountable!) under the summer reading page.
Things are slow to start in the gardens, but this little pumpkin is ready to grow. We found fresh fennel at the Farmer's Market this morning and the eager young farmer invited us to try grilling it, so tonight we'll cut it in half, sprinkle a bit of olive oil, some salt and pepper and give it a try. We've got some bok choy to add to the mix. Snap peas, tender greens and sweet little onions will make a nice salad, with a splash of maple vinaigrette to make our mouths water.

Dearest readers, what are reading right now, or what's next in your reading lineup? Leave a note or two in the comments below! Thanks!

Friday, July 6, 2012

this is my favorite flag,
it does not exclude, or leave anyone out.

i had mended the old one until it frayed and faded into oblivion.
last week i ordered a new one, had it shipped to our vermont address
and found it waiting in the breezeway when i arrived this afternoon.

i set henry free from his travel carrier, unpacked the car, 
put the contents of the cooler in the fridge,
turned on the water and hung the new flag with a sense of anticipation.

i am here.
breathing deeply and anticipating a summer of possibilities.
how about you?

Thursday, July 5, 2012

under the fan

on the porch

I was up early this morning, vacuuming and cleaning bathrooms, trying to catch the coolest part of the day. I have never been a summer person. July is my least favorite month of the year. So right now, I am coping. That's about the best I can do. I'm looking forward to tomorrow, when I will pack up Henry, my sewing machine and other stuff and head to our "bit of earth" for an extended stay. More serious attention will be given to actual sewing and sowing. It's about time.

May and June were filled with comings and goings. Now it seems, we are all in fun places. Here's where we've landed.

Stew and Dawn bought their first house, with a sweet deck and yard where they can garden. The crazy rental market in Portland inspired them to get serious about making this big change.They moved in the day after they arrived back from our family reunion and were delighted to find ripening strawberries in the front garden.

Lindsey discovered my old circa early '80's steel framed bike in our shed in Vermont. She whisked it off to Boston, put some money into rehabbing it and is now training for an upcoming bike tour. The guys at the local bike shop had fun working on a "vintage" bike. I used to take Gretta to preschool on the back of that bike and I'm delighted that it's enjoying a second life! We'll be sure to post photos soon.

Hannah and her kitty, Javier, have moved back East and are staying with us for a month or so. After playing footsies under the bedroom door where Javier was staying, Henry and Javier are now having so much fun sharing the house and screened porch. Hannah invited me along to look at apartments and she'll be signing a lease on one this Saturday, she'll get the keys on August 1st. 

Gretta is busy with her campers for the fourth summer, getting up to our "bit of earth" on weekends to do her laundry, nap, catch up on the internet and relax with whoever is around.  It's hard to believe she'll be a senior when she returns to campus at the end of the summer.

Batman enjoyed a significant birthday-- turning 55 in his corner of the corporate world means we can all exhale some of the pent up worry that haunted us in these "tight times". He's up to his eyeballs in projects at work and will enjoy his weekends unwinding in VT.

Starting tomorrow, I look forward to cooler temperatures, gardening, sewing, reading, strolling, exploring, cooking with really local food and b-r-e-a-t-h-i-n-g. I'll be a bit more present here, and I'll share what I find along my way. 

Shall I honk the horn when I cross the line into Vermont tomorrow?

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Let us all be reminded...

And for the support of this Declaration, 
with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, 
we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, 
our Fortunes 
and our sacred Honor.

(what a birth it was!)

Monday, July 2, 2012

wandering back to sew and sow life...

Lake Michigan meets the summer sky.

Did you know that Batman grew up in Latin America? Ecuador and Venezuela. His parents built a sweet summer house in Michigan, so that their kids would have a place to call home in the States. Batman and his siblings spent their summers playing on the beach and in the woods up there with cousins and neighbors, year after year. When we lived in Chicagoland, (and our kids were little), we were able to visit every summer, too. When our now grown and far flung family was planning a reunion, "La Casa Grande" was the perfect choice!

All four kids and our daughter-in-law gathered with us for a week and this is how we spent our time...

 hugging--talking all at once--Father's Day--cooking--holding hands around the table--eating--drinking--cleaning up--taking turns--the arrival of Abi Tim and Barbara--a trip to Gwen Frostic's--A&W root beer floats (multiple times)--fishing off the dock--fishing in the canoe--walks to the big beach (gazillion times)--napping--swimming out to the wreck of the Minihaha--chatting on the gazebo--cheap fireworks and s'mores--an epic trip to Sleeping Bear Dunes--sisters singing, a guitar and ukelele--a trip to the casino (for the die hards)--a round of mini golf--more walks on the big beach--iced lattes in Manistee--donuts in Frankfort--a "family chat"--kayaking--much picture taking--paddling past the resident bald eagle as he ate his supper--more talking, talking, talking--reading on the deck--Hunger Games fever--card playing--catching up with the aunties next door at the "Ant Hill"--a fun visit from cousin Tim--sand in our sheets at night--wild thunder storms--staying up late--going to bed early--Abi Joan's strawberry pie--geranium planting--white sangria--catching a "lunker"--childhood memories revisited.

Did I miss anything, guys? (Miss you already). xo