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

Monday, December 29, 2014

beautiful enough



You see, I have never felt the need to invent a world beyond this world,
for this world has seemed large and beautiful enough for me.
-Alma Whittaker in
The Signature of All Things
by Elizabeth Gilbert

Sunday, December 28, 2014

another version of miss maggie bunny



My Mumsie has a little gathering of sweet rabbits sitting on the back of her couch in her living room. They are special rabbits, gifts from folks over the years. 

Remember Miss Maggie? I decided to make a version of her for my Mumsie for Christmas. I tweaked her ears and stitched her in a woodland grey flannel. Her dress is made of turquoise cotton, my Mumsie's favorite color. I could not resist adding a wee apron, sewn in one of my all time favorite prints from my fabric stash. 

The house is quiet, I need to do some grocery shopping, laundry and sweeping. The wind outside is howling, the Home Comfort is taking the chill off the morning. Sometimes the rest after a busy time is nearly as nice as the preparation and fun of the holidays. I think I will just be right here today. In the space between what was and what comes next. 

What are you up to today, friends?

Monday, December 22, 2014

pausing




We had all three daughters (and a beau) in the house for our Solstice dinner last night. Some are "here today, gone tomorrow", because now that they are grown, we share them with others. We missed Stewart and Dawn...they live very far away and are having their own adventures. On the dinner menu? Three sisters casserole, of course (via Kripalu). The table, the conversation, the mood...it all just sparkled. Maybe you celebrated last night, too?

The winter season is filled with festivals and holidays that embrace light in the darkest of days. The Solstice is my very favorite.  I invite you to pop on over to Junkaholique's blog post and read something quite thoughtful. Artemis' words may not match your own feelings about the holiday season, but they resonate a lot with me. There are so many ways to see and navigate life and in a more gracious world, there could be room for all of us.

With thanks to my friend Stacy, I invite you to read this too, Why We Need the Winter Solstice. It's an eye opener.

I found this patch of wet out in the balsam orchard. Under nearly a foot of snow, one of the many little springs has bubbled up. There may be weeks and weeks of winter left, but now we have turned the corner, renewal is right under our feet.

To honor the season, I'm signing off for a bit. I'll follow my mammal instincts and hunker in to this quiet time. We'll be gathered in with those we love and food to sustain us. Candles, wood fire and starlight will keep us safe against the dark.

May peace, hope, light and celebration inspire your days, dear readers. xo  

Friday, December 19, 2014

silliness

Our Gretta, who lives in Brooklyn these days, scampered off to 
Lotta Jansdotter's Open Studio in early November.

I admit, I was wistful and maybe a little bit envious when she told me
all about her visit to Lotta's Brooklyn space.

Maybe I even expressed some longing about possible holiday gifts.

A few days later this delightful bundle of goodies arrived in our
mailbox at the end of our rural driveway.
An early Christmas gift from Gretta.

There was an enclosed note that was just a wee bit bossy.
Something about "strings attached" and "a deadline" and "That's
right missy,  you've got homework"!

Well, I just got a bit spontaneous and a little silly.
Since we are fast approaching the festive season I decided 
to go with a snowy theme and included our animals of choice. 
I found the shadow box on sale, the snowflake buttons and
moon charm are from my stash, and I know where to find little goats
around here. I machine quilted very simple snow drifts
on the Lotta fabric and maybe now I am off the hook with Gretta, eh?

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Remembering

Remembering the life of Erin Elizabeth Potts.
(May 14, 1991-December 18, 2009) 
Her light shines on in our hearts.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

these snowy days

It snowed for days. Our power went out for about 40 hours, with no running water, heat or internet. Hooray for our ancient Home Comfort stove! She kept us warm and fed (we even melted snow atop her and used it to flush the toilet!). The neighborhood feels like Narnia...
We had it lucky compared with many others in the state who were out for days and days. There were more crews out working to restore power than when Irene hit a few years back and ripped the state apart.
The other day we went up and over the gap at Breadloaf and down in to Middlebury to do a wee bit of holiday shopping. Vermont is looking so fine in her winter coat of frosted snow.
Sturdy Vermonters do not let much get in their way of their hard work. We stopped by the Green Mountain Girls Farm to catch the tail end of a day of post and beam barn raising. The trickiest part was making sure the road crew and the crane crew co-ordinated the sanding of the road in preparation for the work. The snow laden trees did not help either.
The festive season is upon us and the snow has just made it all the more special. Being here full time, we are able to soak in the beauty and peace of this place. There really is no where else I'd rather be. 

Sending you light and hope and cheer from our "bit of earth". I wish you could stomp some snow off your boots, toss your coat by the door and settle in for some hot cider and a bit of gingerbread...xo

Thursday, December 11, 2014

more handmade balsam beauty

Imagine all the people living life in peace.
You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one.
I hope someday you'll join us, and the world will be as one.
-John Lennon

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

grey inside and out

We are in the midst of a snowy spell.
This morning as we shoveled snow all we could hear
was the rhythmic "crunch-shush" of our work.
When we paused, we heard the birches in the wind,
tinkling softly as their ice covered branches swayed.
The train whistle down in the valley was muffled
as were the dogs barking down the road.
In my studio there have been grey stitches,
as I work on my handmade holiday gifts.
 The softness of the greys calms my soul as the outside world
keeps up its determined unravelling.

There's so much grey to every story - nothing is so black and white.
-Lisa Ling

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

balsam and cedar and ribbon



We have been to Toledo, Ohio and back since I last posted, visiting Batman's dad and his wife. We did some museum touring, enjoyed some fine meals and conversations by the fire. So good to catch up with those sweet folks. We managed to tuck the road trip in between two rounds of wintery weather, with a N'oreaster blowing in right now!

What do you do with acres and acres of balsam trees? Make presents! A few of these swags went off to the UPS store up in Barre this morning. I took the pics with my phone camera, so they are not too great. Balsam, cedar, red jingle bells and gingham ribbon, some wire and a few other supplies...and bingo! Festive greenery! 

We're all about handmade holidays around here. How about you? Are you working on some special projects this time of year?

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

the paper white narcissus  have been potted up
and set upon the table with white candle sticks.

the snow comes and then melts away and snows again.

the moon rises, and the stars, too.

it is a white and quiet pause.
there is stillness in these days,
if we but look for it. 

breathing, in and out.

Monday, December 1, 2014

As December draws us into the shadows...

Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.
-Desmond Tutu

Saturday, November 29, 2014

another invitation to read along...this time for a year

What is the recipe for sane living these days?
How can we be informed citizens of the world without being overwhelmed by the challenges both near and far?
How can we best work with our own resources when there is such need before our open hearts?
How can we rise to the callings we may hear while maintaining appropriate boundaries and self care?
How can we explore our curiosity about the creativity of others without losing our own voice?
How can we seek to be in the present moment when there is so much to distract us?

Oh, this season that is upon us...when well meaning holiday greetings may pull us in too many directions...

This episode of On Being with Krista Tippet, an interview with Carrie Newcomer, offers some comfort and inspiration. We saw her in concert a few years ago in Northampton MA and were enchanted. 


Inspired by that conversation I have begun reading from A Year With Rilke, Daily readings from the best of Rainer Maria Rilke, translated and edited by Joanna Macy and Anita Barrows.

How about it friends? Last winter some of us read Ted Kooser's Winter Morning Walks together. Is anyone up for joining me this year for the daily companionship of Rilke? Sometimes starting or ending the day with beautiful, thoughtful words can be just the right way to navigate our world.

Who's in?

Friday, November 28, 2014

yesterday


  • quite the toboggan run, from beginning to end.
  • a pre dinner 5-K run in the snow for some people.
  • quilting/crafty time.
  • the moment when we realized that I had forgotten to put sugar in the pumpkin pie and Batman got up, went into the kitchen and brought the 1/2 gallon jug of maple syrup to the table with a grin on his face.
  • mimosas in the morning that ended up with sparkly magenta nail polish on my nails.
  • chortling, game playing, napping, reading, walking and lots of dish washing.
  • long distance phone calls to missing loved ones.
  • thanking. more thanking.
  • so*much*good*food.

Two faves you may enjoy...

Lindsey made buckwheat pancakes with this amazing topping, a puddle of pink sweet/tartness.
1/2 cup fresh cranberries
2/3 cup maple syrup
Bring to a gentle boil in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Simmer until the berries begin to soften, but not popped, about 5 minutes. Serve over pancakes.

Three sisters casserole with cornbread topping, from Kripalu, link here.

Soaking up these days without structure, with warmth from the wood stove, with hands held around the table and a bit of silence before each meal...

Sending you warmth from the snowy mountains of Vermont...

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

the day before

The funky little kitchen has been in overdrive all day long.
The garden pumpkins are now in a pie and
 a Granny Smith pie sits next to it on a cooling rack.
We had muffins for breakfast made with cranberries from 
A turkey from the Green Mountain Girls Farm sits in a cooler
in the breezeway, along with a stem of Brussels sprouts.
Two out of four children have arrived safely at the house,
their siblings are safely in other wonderful places
(as they get older we have to share them...).
IT IS SNOWING!
Sending love to you all.

*photo thanks to Hannah

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

I cannot look away...

...and so we will be reading these two books, out loud, together.

The New Jim Crow Law:Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

Hand to Mouth:Living in Bootstrap America by Linda Tirado

During this week of national thanksgiving, there is a discomfort, a brokenness and tragedy all around us...which calls us to truth seeking and understanding. It is not easy, but it requires our attention.

I'll be back tomorrow and Thursday with my usual photos and more cheerful thoughts...

xo


Sunday, November 23, 2014

sewing, knitting and love

510 half square triangles later (what was I thinking?)
I am finally putting the quilt top together.
Remember my list of projects for 2014?
2014 ended up being a year fraught with surprises and complications,
so I am absolutely happy with just some simple progress on this list!
and I finished this little hat,
also begun months ago.

Krista Tippet is my "go to" voice for thoughtful conversation.
Her APM radio show On Being is one of my favorite places to listen.
Her podcast with Joanna Macy,  found here, is about 50 minutes long.
Entitled A Wild Love for the World,
it is inspiring, hope-filled and quite lovely.
I recommend it to you.
(Like Tara Brach, Joanna Macy embraces
the practice of insight meditation.)

Sometimes, when I am tucked downstairs in my sewing space
I love the quiet.
Sometimes I listen to tunes or news on the radio.
Other times, I love to listen to TED talks or On Being podcasts.
So many choices...

What do you like to listen to?

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

cranberry glass
a bit from each grandmother and a little pitcher i bought years ago.
thanksgiving cactus
right on cue, even as they were confused by the move 
from CT to VT.

counting the days till my very favorite holiday.
gratitude.
pure, unadulterated gratitude.
:-)


(*in response to chartreuse's comment below,
take a look here. i only learned this recently myself!)

Monday, November 17, 2014

our own version of "say yes to the dress"



it is hard to imagine on this snowy november day 
that there will be a wedding under these special birch trees next summer.
our sweet gretta and her beloved ben will be married at our
bit of earth.
she has asked me to make her dress and 
she has some very special ideas about it already.
the day will be filled with homegrown loveliness.
a tent.
wildflowers.
a small group of family and friends.
love.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The highest form of spiritual practice is
self-observation without judgement.
-Swami Kripalu

It was still dark on Friday morning as I finished packing. Thanks to the generous encouragement of my beloved Batman, I was headed back to Kripalu for a weekend workshop on meditation with Tara Brach. I went a bit early and met my dear friend Frances for lunch. When we headed off to our room to unpack and settle in I discovered that when packing in the dark, I had grabbed a left and right sandal from two different pair! My heart sank. Would I have to wear my hiking boots all weekend? That would not work very well as shoes are not allowed in all the workshop venues and I would be tying and untying all weekend long. Then I realized there really was no problem. These mismatched sandals would work just fine. In fact, it would be a good exercise for mitchy matchy me to just let it go. 

And so the weekend unfolded...we were stunned, and if I am to be honest, a bit put off, to find that the program had 250 attendees. I wondered how that would work. But I overheard a woman remark that she thought it was wonderful so many people wanted to explore meditation. Hello attitude shift! Let the judgement go, Karen...

There were hours and hours of Tara's story telling, guided meditation, small group exercises and deep quiet in a room full of 250 people. By Sunday morning we had all been through a lot together. The work of deep meditation is not easy. But the energy, love and compassion in that room had grown exponentially over those five sessions. It was really remarkable. Hard to describe. But it filled me with hope. Hope that cannot be found in any other way than in deep stillness and with intention and being fully present. Without judgement.

Tara's website is filled with resources. You can find sample meditations there and other lovely inspiration. I invite you to explore all she has to offer. Perhaps as we work to find hope and peace within ourselves, we can bring hope and peace into this world we live in.

Namaste.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

my new sewing space

My sewing studio here in Vermont is a fraction of the size of my old space, but how about that view? No complaints here! Despite being tucked into the basement, the windows down here let in plenty of natural light.
The cutting table fits snugly in one corner of the room.  Henry loves to sit on the window ledge, as it gives him a ground level view of the local chipmunks. A few weeks ago I found him chattering at a fuzzy caterpillar that was roaming the dried leaves under the pine trees, just inches from his nose.
I miss the shelves I had in CT over my Bernina, but I have found places to store those things just fine.
There is plenty of wall space for inspiring gallery arrangements like this one. The late afternoon sunshine slants into the room in a most extraordinary way. As the winter closes in, I'm guessing this will be a lovely sanctuary, where I can make progress on the many projects I have been yearning to take into hand.

A very comfy chair sits in another corner, waiting for you, dear friends. Bring your hand sewing, knitting or reading. I've got a plenty of tea and if you let me know you're coming, I'll have biscuits on hand, too.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

stick season, stitching and home

Stick season comes to Vermont after the foliage has faded and before winter really moves in. It is when the gorgeous and muted colors of tree trunks, rock outcroppings and dried grasses and ferns meld together into somber harmony. This past weekend there was an early dusting of snow that frosted the view. It didn't last, but it marked the turning inward...to fires in the wood stove, root veggies for dinner and flannel sheets on the bed.
I finally made time to get my Constellation Quilt from Haptic Lab organized. It will be my portable project for this late fall season. You can find the pattern here.
As the stitching progresses out from the center, the paper pattern can be ripped away to reveal the night skies in the Northern Hemisphere. The piece will measure about a yard square when it's done, the perfect size for a wall hanging. My Batman is an enthusiastic amateur astronomer, so I think it will find a special place here at our "bit of earth".

We voted this morning at our quintessentially New England town hall, our first time voting as full time Vermonters. We will listen to Vermont Public Radio into the night to hear election results. With each passing marker on the calendar we are feeling more and more at home.

The strength of a nation derives from the integrity of the home.
-Confucius

Friday, October 31, 2014

My friend Cathleen, or TQOE (The Queen of Everything) is a huge Kaffe Fassett fan. She pulled these fabrics from her stash and asked me to make her a purse with them for her birthday. IN MAY. Yes, well, life has been full and my sewing studio was non-existent and I've let it slide for far too long. Now that my sewing studio is beginning to take shape, I decided to get this put together for her and send it for her half birthday... So, Cathleen, keep an eye out for Rudy the mail carrier sometime next week, OK?

I've made a few of these before, to see another one, take a peek here. The pattern can be found here.

Now I am off to light the Jack-o-lanterns. Halloween was my dad's very favorite holiday, so I will invite his spirit to join me on the porch, matches in hand and we'll see what mischief we can get up to. Sending you best wishes for a happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

a sew and sow check in

SEWING...so much of our little house here in Vermont is higelty pigelty right now, waiting for the big rehab in the spring. I have lived for 6 months without a designated sewing space and I have felt adrift. This past weekend Batman and I spent a few hours moving things around and I nearly have a sweet studio once again. An explosion of creative projects is about to happen. Pictures to follow later next week.

SOWING...still in the ground--chard, leeks, a few herbs. Newly planted--next year's garlic, snug under a bed of straw and a sugar maple sapling (thanks to our thoughtful friend Gary). Recently harvested--our very first onions. On the stove in the kitchen? Potato leek soup, make with leeks plucked from the garden 15 minutes ago.

I will be traveling to the Midwest for board meetings in the next few days...such good work to do with such good people. Batman and Henry will keep an eye on things here at our "bit of earth".

The autumn just keeps on glowing, even in the midst of a few gray and gloomy days. But winter is not far off in these parts. There were flurries in the air on Saturday and...
...the road crew installed these snow plow markers on our road last week. (Please notice the very high tech nature of the markers, Vermont style.)
The corn fields down the road were harvested yesterday, the cobs will be stored for winter feed for the cows in the neighborhood.

Listen here for one of my favorite autumn tunes (and please ignore the obnoxious ad that precedes it). Do you have a favorite autumn tune?