this morning, i mended the two pocket linings on a jacket
that hannah had brought with her to vermont.
she wore it in high school, and now she is 30.
#wearitwell #makeitlast #thrifty #buyquality #persist
our holiday gathering here at "a bit of earth"
was very small and quiet and snowy.
puzzles, baking, wood fired pizza, love actually (of course) and good food and wine filled our days.
We've been a bit snowed in and our internet connection has gone haywire this past week. So sorry I've not been here as promised.
I'm remembering the shocking tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT five years ago today. A short two towns away from our old home in CT, we could feel the pain from Newtown in the air.
And since that day there has been more senseless gun violence, all over this country. The subsequent "thoughts and prayers", temporary outrage and posturing has felt all too hollow...time after time.
How do we respond as ordinary citizens to these dreadful events?
There are organizations to join, letters to write and marches to participate in. There are trainings to go to, reading to be done and community networking to happen. (Our chaplaincy group is working on emergency preparedness. I'm trying to release the knot in my stomach. None of this is easy).
And there is outreach to the survivors. The folks who are haunted by what they have witnessed and experienced, the folks who must pick themselves up and carry on.
ONE...Lori (of Gratitude Quilts) left this comment here on sew and sow life last week:
"Let me tell you about a local (Hopewell, NJ) activity that may interest you. In memory of the Newtown children, a local organization chooses a school in Trenton and asks people to buy books for the school. On that sad day in December, these kind people bring boxes of books to the school. The goal is to increase the size of the school library and also to send each child home with their own book. Isn't that beautiful?"
TWO...Our own Vermont Modern Quilt Guild is taking up the invitation put out by the Las Vegas Modern Quilt Guild to stitch quilts for victims and first responders involved in the mass shooting that occurred on October 1st of this year, when 58 people were killed and 546 people were wounded. Here is the quilt top, put together by members of our guild at a "sew in" on Sunday afternoon (with thanks to the guild for the photo I found on Instagram this morning).
Honestly, I'm not sure what a quilt will do to stop senseless gun violence in this country, but I hope these quilts, stitched with love and intention by folks scattered all across this nation will bring comfort to those who have been touched by it. That little square with white polka dots on teal...that little bit of cheer stitched here at our bit of earth is part of something bigger. It's been sewn together with squares made by my quilt guild buddies here in Vermont and it will be sandwiched with batting and a backing and quilted with love. It will be boxed up and sent many miles across the Mississippi River, the plains and the desert. The box will be opened in Las Vegas and given to someone we will never meet. Perhaps it will bring some small comfort to someone who has endured what no one should have to endure.
And that, my friends, is how we will change the world. Bit by bit. With love, light and hope and PERSISTENCE.
Our tree cutting gathering was a lovely success, with old and new friends coming and going in the driveway. Folks overlapped and munched cookies and drank hot cider and swapped stories. Money was raised for the Vermont Land Trust. And for a few hours we all ignored what is going on in the outside world.
But now it is Monday and I'd like to share some more serious thoughts with you, dear readers. We all have different coping skills and strategies for dealing with life's challenges. I'm one who can sit with complaint and grumbles for only so long. Then I remember that if I am not part of the solution I'm part of the problem.
So, I've been keeping an eye out for ways to contribute to positive change in this day and age. I've been acting locally because I cannot bear to think globally. It is too dang overwhelming these days.
And here's the really cool thing...once I started looking closer for ways to be of use I've been finding them in so many places! And this makes me feel hopeful! Some are very tiny, doable things...some are bigger, scarier things...but the list gets longer and more engaging as I keep looking.
Some of it has to do with simply finding kindred spirits. I'm growing my circle of friends here in rural Vermont and also out in the wider world of the interconnected internet. There are farmers, crafters, poets, musicians, activists and writers all over Instagram that offer a peek into their hopes and projects and creativity. A few intrepid bloggers are still writing.
There are great books to read, podcasts to listen to, volunteer work to tackle. There are conversations to have, the kind where people actually listen to one another and try to understand the other person's heart. There are deep breaths to take and windowsill gardens to grow and walks to take and food pantries to gift to. There's angry snail mail to write and lovely notes as well. There are days when self care is important, when resting and withdrawing may be the most pro-active thing we can do.
Anyhow...I'm going to try to post here nearly every day in December. I'll share bits of my journey as I try to shake off the overwhelm and the discouragement. Because I cannot bear to let the greed and corruption win. At least not without putting up a damn good fight.
I sure do hope you will pop by and leave comments often. I would love your feedback and hear about ways you may have found to #persist. We are stronger together than we are alone, friends.
Oh friends, the news has been so heavy...I have not had much to say over here. Last night's tax overhaul has made me nauseous, maybe you too? We are headed for grim times unless we all stand up and roar. (I'm working on that. Let's talk about it next week, shall we?)
But today, Batman and I are prepping our "bit of earth" for our friends and family weekend. We've put up some modest decorations and cleaned the house and baked some goodies. Tomorrow, folks are coming by between 1:00PM and sunset to cut a Solstice/Christmas/Celebratory tree here, and we are asking for a donation to the Vermont Land Trust in return. (We have giant trees and tiny trees and lots of sizes in between. ) It is a small something that we can do to bring light and hope to our neck of the woods.
Using fabric from Ink and Spindle, (where Gretta did her college internship) and a vintage Folkwear pattern, I stitched up a wee jacket for Maggie B. It's headed to Brooklyn today, where Maggie and her mama and papa are getting used to being a sweet, new family. We get frequent updates and all is well. xoxo
Maybe you'd like to walk away from the world right now...and sidestep the clamor of technology and endless news cycle and wearying worry that nips at our heels. Our "bit of earth" is full of soft light, gentle edges and warm interiors right now. Pull on a virtual jacket and wander with me through the flurries. Or settle into one of the chairs by the stove and exhale deeply. I'll put the kettle on and find a few biscuits in the pantry. Let's just be together in companionable silence.
As a person who is committed to non-violence, Veterans Day continues to challenge my heart. I found comfort and hope in this piece, broadcast on Vermont Public Radio yesterday...about veterans returning to Vermont after serving in combat overseas. From the story, "Nearly 4,000 Vermont veterans have served in Iraq and Afghanistan since 9/11, and many are still dealing with the invisible wounds of the nation’s longest-running war. Some of them, however, have begun to find healing through farming."
My dear internet buddy Anne of My Giant Strawberry had one of her designs selected by Spoonflower for printing! I've ordered a few and sewed one up today. It's been rainy for a few days, and so these bright nasturtiums brought some cheer to my studio. You can find her tea towel for order here. (One of Anne's watercolor prints hangs in our basement guest room, here).
There's some grand baby stitching going on too. Gretta sent me some fabric from her internship days at Ink and Spindle and asked me to make a jacket with the pattern I used for this one. I've decided to make it with flannel rather than quilt batting to make it a bit softer and less bulky.
I've been a devotee of Mettler thread forever. But now there is a lot of buzz around Aurifil these days. I'm giving it a try (I love the size of the spool!) Do you have opinions about thread? Please share!
If you'd like to see a peek at the latest incarnation of my sewing studio, look here. Be sure to check out the spotlights on other VTMQG members too!
We had a very weird growing season here in central Vermont. A wet and chilly spring and a dry and warm autumn had everyone confused. We had a string of four days near or at 90 degrees in late September. This past weekend Batman and I put the gardens to bed in mid seventy degree weather. Our foliage season has been completely off kilter. Mother Nature is expressing the unease so many of us feel...
My brother Doug helped Batman build four new garden beds and treat them with linseed oil. This weekend Batman and I installed and leveled the beds. We hauled a truckload of composted manure up the hill and divided it up between the four beds. Then we harvested some amazing kitchen compost from our homemade compost bin and dumped it on top. We'll let everything settle over the winter and then have fun planting seeds next spring. The garlic have already been tucked into one bed and we covered it with straw from the wedding bale. The leeks and some of the herbs are still braving the chilly evenings. Sometimes I find green sage nestled under the snow as late as December.
Later we mulched the fallen leaves from the yard and piled them in the now empty kitchen compost bin, to mix with kitchen scraps over the winter. Just trying to keep the process as local as we can.
So, farmers and gardeners, as we get ready for colder weather here in the northern hemisphere, let us take a leap of faith and let us hope with fierceness that all will green up again in the spring. May we trust that the circle will come round again to growth and nourishment and food security for all.
And may we all take pleasure when the seed catalogs start arriving in our mailboxes later this winter. Hope. Pages and pages of hope.
(This picture is especially for Simone and Andrea)
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