inhale...exhale...relax your shoulders...repeat as often as needed

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

a wee tale

windfall in vermont

Dear readers (especially sweet Pomona),

Thank you for all of your thoughtful comments and emails these last few days. Your kindness is really appreciated. 

I'll tell you the quick story of the last few days, and then I will move along with life, because that is the best way forward.

Batman and I had plans to attend the annual celebration of the Vermont Land Trust on Saturday. As the forecasted path of Irene morphed, our plans for the weekend changed more than once. We'll go to Vermont for the weekend...we'll just go to the gathering in Vermont for the day...we'll spend the weekend in Vermont and avoid the brunt of the storm...

Well, we went to the meeting (more about that tomorrow) and afterward, drove on north to our "bit of earth" to hunker in...thinking we might escape the worst of it there. Saturday night's sunset was spectacular, the rain began in the dark, and by Sunday morning we were in the midst of the storm. Power went out around 5PM on Sunday. We lit candles and our little place became magical. We turned on our fabulous radio and became glued to the audio feed. We found a channel that was broadcast from the Vermont Emergency Center in Waterbury. As the evening deepened, so did the gravity of the situation. The broadcast cut out when the emergency center had to be evacuated due to flooding. A bit later, the live feed returned via Burlington. The stories became  more and more urgent, with rescues and news of bridge washouts and houses being swept into the swollen rivers. To read about why this all happened so suddenly, go here.

Finally, we had enough and crawled into bed. We wondered if the howling wind and roaring rain might take off the roof, but finally fell into a fitful sleep. After an overcast dawn, the day turned into a sparkling beauty. (How could that be?) But the immense damage suffered by Vermont became clear as well. The damage suffered is staggering.

We were lucky...high up on the ridge, our damage was minimal. Still, no power, water or telephone made for tough going. Yesterday, after much deliberation, we closed up the house and returned to Connecticut last night. We were reluctant to leave Vermont, but we have lives here in CT that must go on.

We're sure we can be of service in the future, it will take Vermont a long time to recover from the storm of the century.

The sad thing is that our story is but one tiny narrative in a huge story of the wrath of Irene.  Mother Nature is sending us all a message, loud and clear...will we heed her?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

update from VT

sunset the night before irene...
...reflected on the birches.
We are still in 
VT. Property is soggy, but fine overall. Still no power, phone or water. Some damage to roads in the neighborhood..."undercutting", where rushing water in the ditches erodes under the surface, and edges collapse. Standing on the bridge over the branch of the White River that runs through town and looking down is staggering. The power of raging water is scary. 

Power back on down in town this AM...having hot tea and pastry and Wi-Fi at the local coffee joint.

Towns all around us are in big trouble, some are completely cut off. Helicopters are coming today to bring in help. Lots of chatter about how "you can't get there from here". 

Peter's missing work, but is checking in w/ cell phone a few times a day. He may head back to CT this afternoon. I'm thinking about finding a place to volunteer up here.

We know we are really lucky to have escaped harm and damage, but it's tough to see our beloved Vermont in such a state of emergency. The environmental impact of propane and fuel oil in the rivers and fields is staggering. The loss of iconic and sentimental covered bridges is sad. Homes and businesses were lost, folks died...

Thanks for keeping us in your thoughts.
Please send good vibes to everyone impacted by this bizzarre storm.

Monday, August 29, 2011

We are OK

We went from the frying pan in CT into the fire in VT. More later.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

calm before the storm

these beauties are just beginning to blossom.
we planted them in memory of a very special person.
they are so tall and sturdy.
i hope they will just let the winds of irene blow
right through their stalks and leaves.

yes, we evacuated to our "bit of earth".

Friday, August 26, 2011


It's been an interesting week. There was the very unusual earthquake, which we all felt around here. Then there was the challenging drive to JFK, in heavy traffic, with a plane to catch. Then there was the l-o-n-g wait to hear of Gretta's safe arrival in Australia (which happened). And now we are getting ready for a mighty hurricane.

As I stood at the kitchen sink this morning, washing out the blender after a green smoothie (anticipating a busy day!), I wondered to myself why I've been feeling so grounded and calm.

I realized that I have a shelter that goes with me everywhere. It does not need a power cord or a key or a map.

My breath is my shelter. One breath in and out to cleanse, one breath in and out to relax, and one breath in and out to center. My breaths bring me back to the present moment, the very best place to be these days. 

Breathe into focus, clarity and hope, my friends. May you find shelter there. Be safe wherever you are and whatever you are facing. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

one more thing...passport pouch

every girl needs a safe place to stash her papers.
i had thought the design through last night as i was dozing off,
and stitched it up this morning.
fabric is from gretta's stash (it's a genetic affliction, you know...)
i get to keep the rest of the fat quarter as payment.

next stop?
JFK airport.

Monday, August 22, 2011

check list

  1. easy, peasy marmie-made hat
  2. passport
  3. visa
  4. world health organization immunization card
  5. backpack
  6. daypack
  7. hiking boots
  8. brand new ukelele
  9. maps
  10. farewell picnic with local buddies
Looks like the girl is ready to go! Just a few more days on the count down and a few more "to do's", then we're off to the airport.

(I couldn't resist finding some fun Australian goodies over at Etsy.  Peek at the treasury here.)

Sunday, August 21, 2011

stitch by stitch

To be here, right now 
in the moment: this 
is why I knit.

-Bernadette Murphy
(from Zen and the Art of Knitting)

free pattern for Comfort Hat from

Saturday, August 20, 2011


If you are fully alive, alert and responsive
to the challenge of every moment, then
you are living a spiritual life.
-David Steindl-Rast

Thursday, August 18, 2011


we are all safely back in CT, after our departure from VT.
all of your thoughtful comments the other day really did help my spirits.
thank you, friends.

i'm reminded that the most challenging phase of childbirth is
 "transition", when many women who choose to avoid medication 
depend on deep breathing and concentrating on a focal point 
to get them through to delivery.

these few days between our "bit of earth"
and the reality of suburban life feel a little bit like transition, 
though certainly not as intense!

here's henry, "helping" me cast on some stitches for a fun
and simple hat for gretta to take with her to australia.
she leaves in less than a week for a whole semester of
environmental studies/sustainability.

gretta found the yarn on sale in vermont
and we're pretty sure that gramelaine will approve of the color.

we will be doing lots of breathing here, 
and we'll be focused on getting gretta ready to go.

transitions all around.

what would you like to know about australia?
perhaps gretta can be our roving reporter.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


packing up the harvest in a cooler,
stripping the beds and collecting towels,
sweeping and tidying.
closing up.

there have been so many really good visits up here
at our "bit of earth" this summer...
folks we don't see often enough,
beloved family and old and new friends.
fine memories have been spun.

and i've enjoyed the gift of solitude, too.
time to read, dream, garden and reacquaint myself with myself.
my batteries have been recharged.

it's time to drive south, back to the "real"world.
life there will be filled with new challenges, aspirations and
hard work to do.

having this oasis to drink from every now and then will
balance us as we navigate the "to do"lists in CT.

but still, as i drive out the driveway, past the stand of birches,
and take one last glance across our meadow at our
mountain view, my throat will tighten 
and my eyes will tear and i'll take a few deep,
cleansing breathes and smile,
because i have a vision of what the future holds.

and it is powerful.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

four years ago...

...these magical 16 acres became our magical acres.
they have fed us, sheltered our spirits,
drawn in friends and family and inspired us.
they keep us dreaming and planning for the future, too.
we're celebrating hope and love, 
with deepening roots in this land.

Friday, August 12, 2011


the light, the sounds and the wistfulness at 6:26 p.m.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

green mountain girls farm

tonight, i went over to northfield with a few friends, 
where the fabulous mari, laura and their fun team hosted
a farm supper and tour.
check out the size of these sun gold tomato plants
and the bounty on their vines!
pastured pigs.
the farm offers a thursday farm stand,
a year-round, omnivore's farm share
and farm stays in a lovely guesthouse.
here's one of the girls.
waiting to be milked.
"latte on the hoof"

i came away from the evening feeling very well fed,
absolutely amazed at what these women have accomplished in less than four years,
and utterly inspired by the love, enthusiasm and joy they have poured into this land.
(not to mention...ahem...hard work!)
read all about the farm here.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

wonder and delight...

...after a hair-raising storm.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

summer sampler

I really do believe that the important things in life are not things, but sometimes finding new "things" can be lots of fun. Even when pennies were tight, Batman and I agreed that lovely children's books were an important investment. This past weekend, Gretta brought this book home from Sandy's Books. Even at the ripe old age of 20, our little Miss Organic Farmer in the making couldn't resist the sweet story and lovely illustrations done by one of our faves, Nikki McClure. 
Batman, Gretta and her buddy Meghan were over in Rochester on Saturday, picking raspberries at  Sunshine Valley Organic Berry Farm.When they got back, Batman whipped up a big batch of raspberry cordial. Not for the feint of heart! But really wonderful.
In an effort to eat better and save money, Batman has been taking his lunch to work more often. I found this very cool tiffin at the Hanover Co-op a few weeks ago. We're moving away from plastic, so this is just perfect, and I really love its provenance. The tiffin comes apart into three sections, and includes a smaller container for sauce/salad dressing. There's plenty of room for several different bits of lunch. Here's what it looks like all taken apart...
We are lucky to have a root cellar at our "bit of earth", but we haven't put it to use yet. Once we are here fulltime, I look forward to filling it with jars, baskets and crates filled with our own harvest. I found a book this weekend that came home in my veggie-filled canvas bag from the farm stand. Written by local author, Jennifer Megyesi, the joy of keeping a root cellar will keep me dreaming and planning right into the fall!

Have you found any things lately, that have seemed "just right" for your life? Please share if you like...

Monday, August 8, 2011

turning my back on the news headlines

Let yourself be silently drawn
by the stronger pull
of what you really love.
(can you spot the goldfinch?)

You've heard it said there's a window that opens
from one mind to another.

But if there's no wall, there's no need 
for fitting the window, or the latch.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Friday, August 5, 2011

this week

pineapple mint from the garden, with green tea,
steeping in the sunshine.

  • READING Here If You Need Me, by Kate Braestrup, the true story of a woman's calling to be a chaplain to search-and-rescue workers in the wilds of Maine.
  • A MEET UP with the delightful Kate, who I met online via the Sew-Mama-Sew giveaway. Kate lives in Paris and is visiting family in Vermont this summer. We met at the Billings Farm to view their 25th Annual Quilt Show. And, of course, to see their lovely Jersey cows.
  • REVIEWING "28 Secrets to Happiness", listed in The Simple Living Guide by Janet Luhrs. (for example, "live beneath your means and within your seams").
  • PROMOTING our son Stewart's new Etsy shop, Artful Geographic. Cool old maps and such. (He's a high school history teacher).
  • SMILING every time I think of my buddy, Potts, and her family as they celebrate a family wedding this weekend. They are WAY overdue for some joy.
  • HOUSEKEEPING as we get ready to host my sister-in-law, Ra, and some of her gardening buddies, "the hedgehogs" for the weekend. I'm looking forward to field tripping with them.
  • NOTICING the shifting seasons. Still summer, but with a faint chill in the evening. Goldenrod is blooming in the meadow and the vegetable gardens are at full tilt. Here's an Etsy treasury in celebration of the season.
  • SOBERED by the news last night. Where are we headed? So much uncertainty. It's hard to take. And so, I focus on the present. There will be a lot of mindfulness around here today, and perhaps some meditation in the garden.
  • LISTENING for the quilt top to speak to me, but I'm leaning toward a small quilt. Thanks for all of your suggestions, friends.
What have you been up to? Do you have plans for the weekend?   

Thursday, August 4, 2011

guest post from batman

In July I spent 2 weeks at Yestermorrow Design/Build School taking their core Design/Build class.  It was my Christmas present, and I was hoping to learn some basics to assist with future planning for our Vermont house- it certainly met all my expectations!  We spent half the time in the classroom learning about drafting, site analysis, basic architecture concepts, and all worked on a design project of our own.

In the afternoons we went to the job site, where we learned basic construction skills and built a 8'x15' garden shed with wood storage.

In addition, we escaped to the local swimming hole, ate delicious and nutritious meals, and  had a chance to meet lots of new (young) people.  We also had a chance to visit several local homes that illustrated the concepts we were learning in class. At the end of the 2 weeks we all presented our projects, and got additional advice from a panel of local architects. We now have a possible expansion plan for "Bit of Earth" which may be the "dream" scenario but at least is getting the conversation started!  It was a great alternative vacation and I highly recommend Yestermorrow if you are interested in woodworking, design, construction, sustainable building, and many more related topics.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

garden explosion

it's what's for dinner.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

fabric jelly roll and real blueberry tart

Seduced by the lovely colors and gorgeous batik patterns, I splurged, and bought this "jelly roll" from a vendor at last year's Vermont Quilt Festival. Jelly rolls are a clever marketing tool, allowing quilters to buy an assortment of cross cut strips of co-ordinating fabrics.
Alas, when I unrolled the fabric, I found that the strips had not been cut on the grain, but at a somewhat pronounced angle! ARG! Well, after a few deep breaths, I decided to cut the strips in half at the fold and just do the best I could. I ended up with a very "wabi sabi" patchwork, with sloppy seams and funky edges.
The piece now measures about 42"x60". Shall I add borders and batting and a backing to create a small quilt, or simply line it and use it as a tablecloth? Any other clever ideas?
Despite my disappointment with the jelly roll product, I've decided that I'll embrace the funkiness of the end result. And working with all these beautiful colors has reminded me of a fabulous book, Blueberries for Sal. Last night, I made an Etsy treasury to honor the story. Check it out here.
Look at this beauty of a tart! The girls picked the berries when they were visiting, and Lindsey came up with a fabulous maple syrup/lemon/blueberry combo, along with a yummy crust. Summer on a fork!

Looking forward to reading your suggestions for what to do with the patchwork...

Monday, August 1, 2011

returning east last night...

our nephew christopher and his bride rebecca
were married in st. paul on saturday.
the weekend was filled with love
and inter-generational celebration.

zaira's teeny, tiny baby toes,
the "anniversary dance",
abi tim's love-filled 80th birthday celebration,
the bro-heems middle aged/adolescent sense of humor
(when they are together, it seems they never grew up),
 the tornado siren on saturday night (!),
watching a canoe/kayak flotilla on the (amazing) mississippi,

and the promises the bride and groom made to one another...

the fullness of life in 48 hours.