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

Friday, September 30, 2011

scrappy tote

i've been working on a random patchwork 
made of scraps from another project.
i like the proportions and style of
this tote, (a promotional piece from a bookseller's chain), 
and so am using it as a template.
i'm piecing one single long rectangle that will
create the front, bottom and back.
the two sides and bottom will also be
 one continuous piece.
i guess i'll have to devise a binding
to tidy up the seams where everything
will be joined.
i'm torn between machine quilting the piece,
or trying something different.
i love the bold hand stitching on these bags.
maybe some thick, squash colored embroidery floss?


Thursday, September 29, 2011


To restore order means to liberate oneself
from the spell of what seems,
and to come back to what is.
-Henri Tracol

dearest readers, i hope i have not caused your eyes 
to glaze over with all these posts about cleaning
and sorting and tossing.
i am simply astounded by the release of 
a wee heaviness in my spirit,
and the discovery of new energy and insights
as i pare down and organize my life.

and what i envision,
and how to get from here to there,
i wonder, what advice might you have for me?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

food for thought

examine what you tolerate.

I first saw this phrase on Pinterest, and tracked down it's origins here.
For days, I've been exploring the nuances of these words. 

I became so intrigued that I started to write a list
of what I tolerate.
 Then I've considered why I tolerate something,
(maybe there's a good reason!)
whether perhaps I shouldn't tolerate something,
and how I might change some of the things I tolerate.

That pile of paperwork at the top of this post?
GONE, by tomorrow morning at 9! 

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

sorting, pitching, still!

know how sometimes before things get better,
they get really, really messy?

today, for a few precious minutes, 
i have found refuge in a quiet corner.

Monday, September 26, 2011

a ritual that makes sense

the crisp and clear and energizing days of autumn
 have been slow in coming
to our neck of the woods in southern new england.

the ambitious monday morning "to do"list 
i started out with has fizzled 
in the weariness and humidity of the late afternoon.

when in doubt, i say,
have tea and a snack on the porch.
and hope that tomorrow dawns
with a chill. 

Sunday, September 25, 2011

letting go of the past

the autumn light in our bedroom is so translucent and temporary this morning.

We have moved from closets on to the basement, a large space, filled with the accumulation of 15 years of living with and raising four children in this house. Some things are obviously and sadly, for the transfer station. I hate to think of all the stuff that will go who-knows-where, a reflection of our irresponsibility to our planet. We have been sobered by this reality. 

Lots and lots of the stuff has been cleaned up and sorted for a big tag sale. There are roller blades, lots of kitchenware, picture frames, some furniture, holiday decorations and boxes of games.There's even a pile for the thrift shop in Vermont...a walker and cane, left over from my knee replacements five years ago. 

Some items, when held in hand, require decisions...sentiment vs. our desire for a cleaner, more pared down life. It actually feels good to push the limits of attachment, and set something in the tag sale pile. There has been the sharp intake of breath and the heart squeeze, when some sweet memory has been stirred. But memories will serve us better than the actual thing that inspired the memory. There are a few things that we are saving, and their pile looks like a curated display, these things we will need in our next chapter. 

This is a year full of transitions for us. Being in the midst of the reality of realizing a dream has felt invigorating and exhausting at the very same time. It is good work to be doing, this letting go of the past to walk into the future.

I am curious. How do you manage stuff? Do you live with stuff in closets or an attic or basement? Or do you live with just essentials? Or do you live somewhere in between?

Friday, September 23, 2011


i cast on yarn that reminds me of bracken, 
ferns that have lost their gentle fronds,
that have dried and bent back into the earth,
a far cry from their bright green fiddleheads of the spring.
balsamic-poached figs,
(recipe in october issue of whole living magazine)
resting in the fridge for an evening when
a roasted chicken and a puddle of polenta
might call out for them.

the best of all.

welcome, sweetness.

Thursday, September 22, 2011


the news headlines from georgia sent me into 
my sanctuary of stitching.

My heart is moved by all I cannot save.
-Adrienne Rich

i pulled out a quilt top and set to finishing it 
 up for the winter warmth project.
it is one small thing i can do.

(read gretta's insights here.)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

guest post by lindsey

When other plans fell through on Saturday, I realized that I had a whole day ahead of me with nothing I HAD to do and nowhere I HAD to be - I can hardly remember the last time that happened! So I looked around my room and saw the spot on the wall that I'd been meaning to fill and the blue Ikea fabric that I had plans to use - and the crafting began!

Every time Mom and I go to Paper Source, we face indecision about whether or not to buy their calendar for $30. While we love its plain and simple look and nice big squares, somehow we never end up spending the money. I decided that brown paper bags were just about as good and came up with my own version, divided by seasons.
Then it was time for sewing. My first apron went to a friend for her birthday last year, and I've been meaning to make my own ever since ("tall-sized" of course!). I didn't use a pattern, but did a lot of cutting then holding the shape up to my body and then cutting a little more. In the end, I'm very happy with this apron and can't wait to get it covered in flour!
It is great to start the day with nothing but recycled materials and fabric and end up with two things that I've often thought of buying, but I knew I could make myself (eventually)!

(Lindsey is Reed child #2. She shares an apartment in the Boston area with two roomies and has a fabulous posse of friends who enjoy regular pot luck suppers together. She works in the Stewardship and Development Office of a not-for-profit.)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

fuel for the good life and an opportunity, too.

Late afternoon on Sunday we...
  • dug up about half of the carrots and
  • all of the beets, both golden and chiogas
  • cut bunches and bunches of rainbow chard
  • harvested the pie pumpkins
  • picked the cherry tomatoes
  • gathered the garlic braids from the woodshed
  • cut a few branches of rosemary and...
We loaded everything into the pick-up,
tucked the potted flowers from the porch inside, safe from the frost
and headed back south to CT.

This week I will be...
  • roasting root vegetables with the fresh rosemary
  • dropping off bunches of carrots to unsuspecting friends
  • making our favorite creamy herbed carrot soup, (dairy and all) from Moosewood Restaurant Daily Special
  • sauteing garlic, onions and chard to package up and put in the freezer
  • roasting the pumpkins to make puree for the freezer...for pies, muffins and bread later in the fall
  • sending garlic braids off to our far-flung children, so they can enjoy "a bit of earth" at their homes
  • sauteing the tomatoes with other veggies for a bowl of pasta that's tough to beat
  • oh, and let's not forget about the fresh pressed cider I bought at the co-op. :-)
I love having the goodness from our gardens in VT
to nourish us and keep us connected to that treasured ground.
It is good fuel for the dream.

What's going on in your autumn kitchen?

And here's a great opportunity to help keep flood ravaged Vermonters cozy this winter!
To read about the Winter Warmth Project, click here.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Sunday, September 18, 2011

rural infatuation

We have not been back in Vermont since the devastating flooding three weeks ago. Yesterday we headed to the 140th Tunbridge World's Fair. The fairgrounds were soaked in the flooding, but no buildings were lost, so the fair went on as an affirmation of all things rural in Vermont. We promised Gretta that we'd arrive in plenty of time to watch the goat judging at 10AM. We took notes for her, and loved watching 4-H kids wrastle their goat kids. Here's a picture of a few of the sweet Nubians, gathered before the judging began.
The exhibition halls were full of produce (a 700 pound pumpkin!!!), and inspiring displays of jams, jellies, pies, quilts, floral arrangements and much more. 
Anyone want a pickle? Have you ever seen such a huge jar? And here's a very fine mandolin strummin' scarecrow.
The cavalcade of animals was kicked off by Governor Peter Shumlin, who spoke about Vermont's resilience, self sufficiency and community spirit. This year, the crowd roared and cheered with extra exuberance. And the color guard looked especially dapper this year.
As usual, I was fascinated by the parade of animals. But this year I was misty eyed as I watched those inter-generational groups march by, holding onto their livestock with a renewed tenderness and appreciation. A way of life has been challenged by the wrath of Irene, and these folks have held steadfast, determined to rebuild.
The gorgeous natural yarns in the sheep barn caught my attention, and I am mulling over the possibilities of coming back up for the Vermont Sheep and Wool Festival in early October. (Let's not tell Gretta there will be sheep herding as well, OK?)

Are you fascinated by rural fairs? 

To see a 2010 version of the fair, click here.
For a 2009 version, click here.

Friday, September 16, 2011

guest post from gretta

I've been in Australia for 3 weeks now! Time flies when you're having fun. I've had lots of stereotypical experiences: seen wallabies, koalas, and an echidna, gone surfing, tried Tim Tams and Vegamite. But my experiences here have been so much more!

I've seen the most amazing sunrise I've ever seen in my life, been in my first rainforest, and designed an eco home.

Our classroom has been the beach, kayaking on estuaries, organic farms, rainforests, and national parks. Perhaps the most interesting thing I've noticed is how sustainable behaviors have become part of the mainstream culture here. It's common to see houses with rain water collection, solar panels, and clothes drying on the line. The majority of residents probably couldn't give you a definition of sustainability or tell you many statistics about global climate change, and they would think it's ridiculous that they would be considered an environmentalist in the United States. But they have a sizeable garden and flock of chickens (or choocks as they call them). They conserve water. They plant native species because the invasive weeds have been a pain.

We've talked about sense of place, environmental philosophies, rainforest ecology, sustainable agriculture, low impact home design, as well as several other bits and pieces of sustainability. Next up is a trip to Tasmania, Melbourne, and Sydney!

(Gretta is our youngest of four, enjoying the fall semester of her junior year in college, studying in Australia. We have enjoyed keeping in touch with her via once a week Skype sessions. Just wait til she writes about her upcoming independent study. I am green with envy!)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

making a deposit in the bank of good karma...

Blood is a very special juice!
-Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

blast from the past

Batman and I have been doing some deep cleaning around here. We've been hauling stuff out of closets, painting the insides a bright white, and sorting through the debris. I experienced a wave of nostalgia as I unearthed this child sized quilt I made for Lindsey when she was a toddler (she's 27 now). It was a "quilt as you go" pattern, which sounded like a great idea when I set out to make it, but I do remember it getting a bit frustrating as I got into the project. 
I was a quilting novice back then, but this little piece was stitched so full of love and comfort! Then, of course, in true Reed style, when Lindsey graduated to a big bed, this quilt was passed on down to Hannah and then Gretta. It will go into the "keep" box.

We had a bit of a plumbing disaster this summer. Last week, I watched a video online that convinced me that Batman and I could install a new toilet. And, by gosh, this weekend we did. We had a few hilarious moments of confusion, but we did it! And it will be forever known as the "98 degrees and humid rescue mission to fetch Hannah epic road trip toilet replacement"! How's THAT for cryptic?

We are culling things for a garage sale, getting ruthless about getting rid of stuff, and crossing things off our extraordinarily long "to do"list...but we are on a mission.  Working our way closer to our "bit of earth"...

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


I think the most significant work we ever do,
in the whole world, in our whole life,
is done within the four walls of our own home.
-Stephen R. Covey

Home is where we raise our families, gather with friends, nourish body and soul, hang out with beloved pets, do chores, set priorities, recharge our batteries (after we do our work out in the world)...what else?

Do you think the work we do within the four walls of our own homes is significant?

Monday, September 12, 2011


the days are still too warm and a touch humid for me.

but i recognize the slant of this late afternoon sunshine.
doing errands, the red of the swamp maples caught my eye. 
i was restless under the bright harvest moon early this morning.
i've been dreaming about butternut apple soup,
and fresh pressed cider.

it's coming... 

if you are not yet saturated,
here are some beautiful 9/11 links i found.

Sunday, September 11, 2011


Knowing that there are many more profound stories that we honor today...I humbly offer my own thoughts...

On this date, ten years ago, our children were not let off the school bus at the end of the day unless a parent was waiting for them at the bus stop. No one wanted kids in our town to go home to a house where parents might never show up. A member of our church at the time lost two sons in the towers. There were cars waiting in the parking lot at the local train station, whose owners never returned. Some folks from town were on the planes. Our oldest, in college in the midwest, tried over and over again to call, to see if Batman had gone in to the city for an appointment that day. All phone circuits were busy. I woke at night, with the taste of fear in my mouth, as the low flying fighter jets rattled our windows.

I understood the bitter anger and outrage that filled our neighborhoods but it made me uncomfortable. Instead, I was deeply and profoundly sad that our place in the world had come to this...senseless and brutal violence. I was adrift for days. It wasn't until Saturday, September 15, 2001, that I let myself fall apart. When I heard Scott Simon read this aloud on Weekend Edition on National Public Radio, my throat tightened and the tears welled.

Human beings suffer,
They torture one another,
They get hurt and get hard.
No poem or play or song
Can fully right a wrong
Inflicted and endured.

The innocent in gaols
Beat on their bars together.
A hunger-striker's father
Stands in the graveyard dumb.
The police widow in veils
Faints at the funeral home.

History says, don't hope
On this side of the grave.
But then, once in a lifetime
The longed-for tidal wave
Of justice can rise up,
And hope and history rhyme.

So hope for a great sea-change
On the far side of revenge.
Believe that further shore
Is reachable from here.
Believe in miracle
And cures and healing wells.

Call miracle self-healing:
The utter, self-revealing
Double-take of feeling.
If there's fire on the mountain

Or lightning and storm
And a god speaks from the sky

That means someone is hearing
The outcry and the birth-cry
Of new life at its term.

-from The Cure at Troy, by Seamus Heaney
cited here.

new life at its term. A new world at its term. Ten years later, I am wondering...are we building it?

my post in 2010
my post in 2009

Thursday, September 8, 2011

happy birthday #24 to hannah

hey daughter, you set the bar pretty high.
with love and respect,
xo, marmie

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

in a groove

woodland zippered pouches

here i am,
where i ought to be.
-louise erdrich

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

finding more comfort

local citrus...meyer lemon from our very own tree

There is power in knowing how to get oneself back on track. Here's my top ten how to's:
  • get better organized
  • eat better (and by candlelight)
  • take a walk
  • catch up with friends
  • get an update from the kids (and count my blessings)
  • read poetry and drink tea
  • pick up a needle and thread
  • stretch
  • work hard on something that needs to get done
  • see the big picture, while being present in the moment
Would you add or subtract anything?

Sunday, September 4, 2011

finding some comfort...

...with my buddy, who's all tucked in.

where do you find comfort? 
P.S. I've added some links over on the right hand side, if you're inspired and/or able to help with flood relief. This link to Evening Song Farm is especially moving, featuring a CSA run by some recent Earlham grads. Thanks for you consideration. xo

Friday, September 2, 2011

sewing therapy

i cannot seem to shake a heaviness of heart,
but as i often do, i have found sanctuary in 
my light filled sewing studio. 
tea towels for some newlyweds i know...
callie and victor
emily and john
and one for someone who just got her very own apartment...
...and there, right under my nose,
a hidden word that made me smile.

i am breathing.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

vermont and her indomitable people

solar panels and brussels sprouts
On Saturday, Batman and I attended the Vermont Land Trust Annual Celebration, which was hosted by The Putney School, in Putney, VT. We've known of the Putney School for years, but had never been to the campus. It is quite the place! They offer a "progressive education for a sustainable future".

After a fabulous, local lunch (the school is part of the Vermont Fresh Network), we settled in for the meeting. The speakers were inspirational, and the awards are always a delight to witness...hardworking folks,  working at the grassroots level to preserve the beauty of Vermont. Little did we know then what would unfold in the next few days...

Especially articulate was Emily Jones, the Director of the Putney School. She spoke of the school's mission and how the school can prepare young people for the huge challenges their generation is facing.
You can get a peek at her wisdom here.   

A few generous readers have asked about ways to help Vermont right now. I found a link, recommended by the VLT, to assist Vermont farmers. So many amazing farms were thriving in the river valleys and were destroyed by Irene. The tidy farmhouses, big old barns and sprawling fields are what Vermont is perhaps best known for. Many of them are washed out, or their crops are ruined by the runoff and silt from higher ground. If you are so moved, please consider lending them a hand.

A great place to read of the reality of the ongoing flooding situation is a newly launched blog, created by Vermont Public Radio. Bill McKibben also wrote an op ed piece in the Burlington Free Press that's worth a peek. 

Going back to 1928, here's a bit of sentiment that rings true today.
    Vermont is a state I love. I could not look upon the peaks of Ascutney, Killington, Mansfield, and Equinox, without being moved in a way that no other scene could move me. It was here that I first saw the light of day; here I received my bride, here my dead lie pillowed on the loving breast of our eternal hills.
    I love Vermont because of her hills and valleys, her scenery and invigorating climate, but most of all because of her indomitable people. They are a race of pioneers who have almost beggared themselves to serve others. If the spirit of liberty should vanish in other parts of the Union, and support of our institutions should languish, it could all be replenished from the generous store held by the people of this brave little state of Vermont.                                                              -Calvin Coolidge
    Putney School flock