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

Sunday, December 30, 2012

the gift of unscripted time

  manzanita, on the oregon coast.
small torn paper collages.
inspired by nature...
created from the recycling bin.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

taking a little holiday break here at
sew and sow life.

may your days be merry and bright!

Friday, December 21, 2012

an ancient day

We gathered in silence in the chapel at Wooster School in Danbury at 8:30 this morning. The pelting rain and raging wind and wooden floor squeaks were the only sounds in the hush.  The names were read and the beloved phrase "gentle, generous, truthful, kind and brave" was our anchor. At 9:30 the prefects rang the bell, and its tolling joined bells in other steeples all over our small state of Connecticut. It was sad and solemn and sobering.

The days cannot get much darker here. Yet when we stepped out into the world, it felt washed clean and the heavy and grey clouds were being chased away by the thinnest of sunbursts. In some ancient way, we have honored the darkness, and in some more miraculous way, nature has taken us by the hand and said...look...the light is irresistible, magical and welcoming.  Move in that direction. Be brave and faithful and be hopeful.

Happy solstice, dearest ones. May your days be spangled and brilliant and filled with wonder.  

Thursday, December 20, 2012

sometimes...'s finding a patch of welcome winter sunshine.
...or the softest comfort of fur under my hand.
...or casting on a new project that will bring comfort 
to both the knitter and the recipient.

wishing you peace and comfort as we slip into 
the darkest and shortest day of the year. 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

december 18th

remembering e.e.p...
and her bright and shining light.
"e"very day is a blessing, and inspired by erin,
i am trying very hard
to cultivate light and love and hope,
because that is what this world needs right now.

light to chase away the darkness.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

at a loss

our house in CT is two towns south of newtown, 
and i have been at a loss for words these past few days.
one of my favorite bloggers...uma...
has written eloquent words that have brought me some small comfort,
and i encourage you to read them for yourselves.

namaste dearest uma. 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

glowing orange

A stroll to stretch our legs after a long drive to Vermont.
Sunset to the west,
Venus and Betelgeuse (the red star) shimmering
 in the sky to the east.
Hunting dogs barking down the valley.
A fierce chill in the air.
Local chicken and apple sausages, and onions,
sauteed in a pan on the Home Comfort.
Snug and warm.
Re-watching Downton Abbey season one, 
in preparation for January 6th.

Breathing and noticing and appreciating
simple things in the midst of this busy season.

Relaxing while we may.

Are you able to carve out a bit of peace in your days?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

in december

During Hurricane Sandy, a cluster of huge trees toppled in our yard. We have someone coming next week to cut them into pieces and move them off the stone wall. In the meantime, there is a huge and gaping hole where the root ball has been uprooted and exposed.

I can see the hole, with the tree roots dangling, from our kitchen window. Sometimes as I stand at the sink washing pots and pans, I can feel a strange and irresistible pull toward that hole. It reminds my mammal self of a cave. A dark and inviting cave. At this time of year, when daylight is so precious, I feel the tug of hibernation. Some ancient and primal part of myself wants to lumber up the hill, crawl into that hole, curl up, close my eyes, let out a long, long sigh, and go to sleep.

Instead, I am living in a busy world, where our "evolution" has robbed us of a long winter's sleep. So, I am searching for the smile of the guy at the transfer station, in the sparkle of the holiday lights downtown, in the candlelight of the menorah, in the laughter around the dinner table, in the anticipation of the magical solstice and in the bright shining hope of these paper white narcissus.

I seek the light of the season. In that seeking, I move forward toward hope, and peace and love.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

a december afternoon at our "bit of earth"

dreaming of  giving this to batman for christmas.
thinking about making some of these.
wreath making.
drinking tea.
walking in the fog.

what are you up to on this afternoon in december?

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Curiosity is the doorway that stimulates
growth, joy and expansion and allows
you to begin to remember who you are.
The Choice for Love 

Monday, December 3, 2012

Stewart's Kickstarter project

a vintage holiday postcard from 
Stewart's collection

When we had a houseful of four small children, we had very strong ideas about how to raise them. (Ask them, they'll confirm that!).

Some of the basics?

-Play outdoors. A lot. 
-Notice and appreciate the Natural World.
-Read. To yourself, aloud to your siblings, and to your parents. Under the covers, sometimes with a flashlight.
-Draw, cut, paint, write, sing, dance, pretend.
-Hold hands around the table before eating as a family.
-Do your chores without being reminded (hmmm...).
-Co-operate whenever possible. Negotiate when necessary.
-Be compassionate. Be inclusive. Be fair.
-Remember that you always have a choice, and the choices you make always have consequences.
-Try hard to do your best, especially when that feels daunting.
-The most important words we shared with them? PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY

All these many years later, we have a flock of grown, young adult children who are capable, fascinating and delightful to be with. Oh, and just nerdy enough to be interesting in the best possible way.

Stewart, our oldest, is a high school history teacher. You may remember when he launched his blog, Artful Geographic, a while ago. He is now in the midst of a really fun project over at Kickstarter, a fabulous "funding platform for creative projects". Have you ever checked them out? (I love the many ways that the internet has created alternative economic venues).

Please take a minute today and look at Stewart's project. As I watched his video, I couldn't help but remember the little boy who collected bugs in a jar, loved to write plays with his younger sisters and read late into the night with his flashlight under the covers.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Friday, November 30, 2012

thank you for asking

Here is a video tutorial for folding paper cranes.

There are so many folks who will appreciate them...

To comfort the hardworking staff...please send to...
The Office of Student Development
Drawer 195
Earlham College
801 National Road West
Richmond, IN 47374

To comfort the grieving families...please send c/o the Office of Student Development, above.
The Heymann Family, who lost their daughter Tracy
The Edwards Family, who lost their daughter Lenore

To comfort the recovering student...please send c/o the Office of Student Development.
Graham Nissen

Your simple, heartfelt thoughts and prayers are appreciated. They may be delivered, folded into the wings of a crane, or simply sent out into the world by our kindness. Whatever small gesture we make, it adds to the light and love in the world. Namaste to each of you.

Here is a lovely blog posting by an Earlham student.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

folding for solace

Inspired by this story, Gretta and I have been folding paper cranes. As we were sitting yesterday, I heard news that Lenore, despite our strongest hopes and her amazing courage, had left this world on Sunday night.
I tucked a crane into a note I sent to her family. Gretta and I have been folding cranes when we have a spare minute. We have a growing flock. This morning, as the snow falls gently outside, I have lit a chalice to comfort me as I fold.
These cranes are headed to the Office of Student Development at Earlham College, where the staff has been working mightily to hold our beloved community together through this very sad time. It is one small way that I can add to the comfort, light and hope that we all crave right now. 
I am far away in miles, but I am standing on the heart in spirit. Please let me know if you would like to fold some cranes and send them along...

Monday, November 26, 2012

nestling in

Lindsey and Gretta snipped a paper snowflake garland.
It is hanging in the dining room,  anticipating the flurries forecast for this week.
Now that the house has quieted down, 
Gretta, Batman and I are looking forward to a week 
filled with clean eating and productive projects.
This Monday morning feels fresh and full of promise.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

many a mile

I've driven to Knox College and back, to fetch our early graduating Gretta. The midwest was putting itself to bed for the winter, with combines cleaning up the last of the corn stalks in the fields. The sky was blue and the interstate was flat. The graceful turbines were turning in the wind. Our favorite listening track was HOME, by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros...listen here. It was a quick trip, and we regret passing some exits on I-80...but we were on a tight schedule. The tug was strong, so we blew kisses as we passed by.

Tonight Batman and I will uncork a bottle of champagne and toast the end of 16 years of college tuition.  We invested big time in our kids' education, and we have not regretted it for a minute. CHEERS!
The car is unpacked, the laundry is chugging, we've been to the grocery store, pumpkins from the gardens in VT have been roasted for the pies, the cranberry orange relish has been made and is in the fridge. Gratitude around here is deep and growing and Thanksgiving is just days away.  How about you? Are you feeling the lure of gratitude?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

remember these?

in need of sewing therapy once again,
i stitched this tea towel for newlyweds
elizabeth (hobo) and kevin.

recently hungry for light and hope,
i was delighted to find that the christmas cactus 
have snuck up on me and begun to bloom!

i appreciate the comments, phone calls and e-mails
from you, dear friends, who understand the preciousness
of our human family.
thank you for your gentle care and support.
you are the best.

Friday, November 9, 2012

I keep on swallowing...

 It has been a tumultuous few weeks, 
for our nation and in my own life,
with many bright highs and 
more than a fair share of challenges and near misses.
But this is tearing most fiercely at my tender heart. 

No one ever told me that grief felt so much like fear.
The same fluttering in the stomach, 
the same restlessness,
the yawning.
I keep on swallowing.
-C. S. Lewis

A life long lesson...
"e"very morning that we wake up is a blessing.
Breathe it in, absorb it, and take it out into the world
wherever you go.

Spread the love.
Do not take it for granted.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

if just for now

russet, burnt umber, raw sienna, bittersweet, fawn and plain brown mark the shift.
leaden grays and soft whites create the contours between mountains and snow squalls.
drifts of the last fallen oak leaves settle into the tired lawn.
woodsmoke curls from the chimney into the bare birches.
pin points of barn lights fend off an early nightfall.

these gentle comforts are here.
breathing in and breathing out.
being present.
creating peace in the moment.
if just for now.

Saturday, November 3, 2012


Appreciating the shelter of our little place in Vermont. Only the voting booth in CT will lure me back on Tuesday.

On the list for eventual improvements up here...
-a hand pump in the mudroom
-an outhouse/composting toilet
-rehabbing the root cellar
-possible solar panels
Self reliance and preparedness have become more important to us in the last year or so. How about you?

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

late october is a scary time...

one of four trees down on our road.
electrical wires, too.
this is our next door neighbor's house.
the trees in our yard had the good sense 
to fall into the woods behind us, instead of on us.

power is not expected to be restored for 7-11 days.

it is much worse south of us,
along the ct coast, in manhattan
and along the jersey shore.

this on top of irene 
and the snows of just one year ago.

no such thing as global climate change?
you decide. 

happy hallowe'en!

Sunday, October 28, 2012


we have done everything we can to get ready for the storm.
if (when) we lose power, 
i am looking forward to doing some old fashioned handwork.

inspired by these beauties...

expensive but lovely supplies, here.
"buttonhole" napkins, here.
this gorgeous vimeo, here, via mommycoddle.

sometimes mother nature takes control.
we have no choice but to let go of our own plans.

may all be safe.

Monday, October 22, 2012


lately, the work i do on two different boards has converged, 
leaving me little time to breathe,
but it has invigorated me in such wonderful ways.
one, a pre K though 12 school.
the other, a college.
what a blessing to be thinking and learning and stewarding
 along such a spectrum of educational formation.
 one leg of my journey home was on a prop plane,
which flew lower than a jet.
for 45 minutes i watched the late afternoon light 
flood across the autumn landscape below me.

i have been thinking about the value of committee work,
when many different people gather with their own ideas
and through time and respectful listening and discernment,
new and better ideas emerge from the whole group.
i wish it happened more often in this world.

i have one more day with a long "to do" list.
tomorrow i am looking forward to a shift 
and hope to spend some time in my long abandoned
sewing studio.
and i'm hoping to take a walk, too.

(thanks to my guru, henry, who's wisdom helped me get this far).

i've missed you!
what have you been up to lately?

Monday, October 15, 2012

henry wisdom

i have so much to do this week and so many places to be,
i am not sure how i will manage it all.

henry has reminded me that sometimes it's a good idea
to just sit, breathe and take in the view.

i promise to try.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

our october retreat

-brilliance in the blue of the sky, the leaves in the trees, the marigolds and pumpkins in the garden.
-coyotes singing along the ridge.
-flurries in the air.
-nasturtiums, picked before the first hard frost of the season, when their stems turned to a pungent mush.
-tarps and tarps full of fallen and raked leaves, dragged to the deep woods by the stone wall.
-a glass of cider, savored while sitting on the picnic table.
-the canoe, the rain barrel and the garden hoses, tucked away until next spring.
-closets cleaned and reorganized.
-muffins filled with local blueberries from the freezer.
-swapping out the screens for the storm door on the three season porch.
-howling wind at night, while snug under the pile of blankets and quilt, with Henry asleep in the mix.

-our old friend, oatmeal, sprinkled with pecans, dried cranberries and puddled with almond milk.
-the last of the carrots, forked out of the soil, and chard tucked into the produce drawer in the fridge.
-paper rolls of drawings and plans, spread out on the dining table, dreams in the making.
-candle light.
-mulching the peonies and the blueberry bushes, and wishing them a safe winter's rest.
-a drive up and over the Rochester Gap for lattes and comfortable and familiar conversation.
-always, a fire in the Home Comfort, to take away the chill.
-pulling over to the side of the road in the late afternoon, to cast a few on the White River. (The best way to be out of the office).
-blessings. so many blessings.