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

Saturday, April 28, 2012

April 28th

Batman, Henry and I left the corporate world, committee work,  paint rollers and brushes behind and climbed into the truck last night. As we drove north, the wind picked up, the temperature dropped and about 20 minutes from the house, we saw flurries in the beams of the headlights. After we built a fire in the Home Comfort and brushed our teeth, we snuggled under the quilts and fell asleep listening to the howling wind. Toast and tea this morning, then we bundled up and strolled the property. It was 29 degrees in the breezeway, but the sun was bright. Our children will be glad to see that the hops (above) came through the winter just fine, and are sprouting enthusiastically! 
The rhubarb had a bit of leftover snow cradled in its leaves. The apple trees look precariously undecided about what they are up to, and a report on the radio confirmed that many orchardists are worried about their trees as well. The forget-me-not that I planted last spring has self-seeded and there are pretty clumps of their bright blue flowers along the edge of my perennial bed (and remind me of my buddy, Potts). The grape hyacinths and daffodils that Batman has been planting over the years are spreading as well. 
We had planned to dismantle the huge peace wreath this weekend, but when we found this little nest under construction, we didn't have the heart to do it. We will leave well enough alone for now.

On the agenda for this afternoon? Napping, reading, more walking and a bit of cooking as we're having friends over for supper.

...and, ahem, could someone please explain to me how our favorite son has managed to turn 30 years old today? I am a bit flustered by this fact. Happy birthday, Stewart! xo

Thursday, April 26, 2012

catching up

forest green corduroy salvaged from an old dress,
a murder of crows and some fern embroidery.
can you guess what i'm up to?
we've finally had some blessed rain.
the sky has been so changeable and beautiful,
with the spring green leaves adding to the dazzle.
when i'm in the midst of busyness, and running on fumes,
i look up, 
take a few deep breaths
and relax my shoulders.
mother nature is a balm.  
i'm looking forward to catching some r&r with this book
sometime in the next few days.
anne lamott is one of my absolute favorites.
have you read some assembly required yet?

Monday, April 23, 2012

another room done!

Benjamin Moore's mesquite on a cloudy afternoon.
I thought it would be a bit more grey in tone,
a bit more neutral, but I still like it.

And I'm so freakin' glad to have another room finished.
Have you finished anything lately 
that you want to celebrate here?
I'll send you a "hip, hip hooray"!

Today I went to our annual Yom Hashoah service and was reminded again of the power of telling and listening to one another's real life stories. 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

do what you can. today and every day.

reduce, reuse, recycle!

check out the hulu clip here, a news broadcast from April 1970,
 the original Earth Day.
now i'm reminded and rededicated.
how about you?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

giveaway winner and a peek at the future

After spending the day in meetings and at convocation,
I took a stroll around campus as the sun was setting.
I spent two years living in this beauty (above), many years ago.
I love being in the midst of this latest generation of Earlham students.
Read about some of them here...they will make you smile,
and help you hope.

Congratulations to giveaway winner  
JEANNEKE, who lives in the Netherlands.
See her handcrafting blog here.
(Please send me your mailing address 
and I will get the pillow cover into the mail.)

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

silver lining

to save money, i booked a flight that had 
a connection in washington d.c.
the prop plane was noisy and a bit wobbly in the headwinds. 
due to "mechanical difficulties", i missed my connection.
but look at what i got to see, up close.
 discovery had just flown in 
on its way to rest in peace in an area museum.

so my rebooked flight will get me to earlham after dinner.
i'll be late to our meeting, but if i make it in time for dessert...
perhaps not all will be lost.

 i'll always remember the thrill of seeing this beauty
set against the spring sky and broad runway here at dulles.

-----------there's still time to enter the giveaway--------------

Monday, April 16, 2012

guest post from Gretta, all about Paul Greenberg's Four Fishes

There are a lot of exciting things about going to a liberal arts college. However, as a school of 1300, it can sometimes be tricky to get really well-known speakers to campus. That's why today I am ridiculously excited! Through the Environmental Studies department and several student clubs and organizations, Paul Greenberg is coming to Knox! Paul is a journalist and fisherman who combined his two loves into the NYT Bestseller "Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food". The book profiles the four major types of fish we eat: Salmon, Sea Bass, Cod, and Tuna. Greenberg writes about his own experiences with these fish as well as the cultural history of how we interact with them. It is an excellent read! (And thanks to Papa-Batman who let me borrow his copy before he was even done with it, whadda guy!)
What does this mean for you, dearest readers of my dearest Marmie's blog? You can watch it! Knox is streaming his talk online, 5 PM CST! Click here to go to the livestream page (

The coolest thing about the whole experience of planning his visit is the amount of outreach we've been doing. We partnered with local businesses to have specials all week related to fish, worked with the public library and surrounding high schools to get more people reading "Four Fish", and are bringing students from our rival Monmouth College and Augustana College to join in the celebrations! All of us on the planning committee got really comfortable with media- posting on blogs and news stories, postering Galesburg, working with local newspapers. There's also going to be a sustainable seafood dinner. It all makes me feel warm and fuzzy.

xoxo Gretta

---------there's still time to enter the giveaway-----------

Sunday, April 15, 2012

white bread (and don't miss the giveaway!)

Thank you all for the birthday greetings! It was fun to hear from each and every one of you. Please be sure to enter the giveaway if you haven't's open until Wednesday.

We've been busy today, mostly painting woodwork (yawn), doing laundry and tidying up around here. I'll be travelling to the midwest again this week, and wanted to leave Batman with some good food to eat while I'm away. We've been trying to pack his breakfasts and lunches lately, so that he can eat well at work. Homemade saves money and tastes better and is healthier. But Batman really likes white bread. So, I loaded up the bread machine (yes, we use one once in a while) with a cleverly disguised white bread. I used this recipe, but made these adjustments...

Instead of all white bread flour, I substituted a cup of 9 grain flour blend from King Arthur (another great VT company). It's a little pricey, but when you read the list of super healthy grains included in the mix, you'll be tempted to try it. And I had run out of wheat germ, so I substituted whole millet. I have been avoiding dairy for about a year now, but buttermilk did find its way into this loaf. Did you know that using buttermilk gives baked goods a longer shelf life? This should make great sandwiches. Do you suppose this healthier white bread will get by Batman's discerning palate?

We've been enjoying the song of the spring peepers these last few days. I am so glad they survived the frosts after the false spring we had a while back.


Saturday, April 14, 2012

birthday #56 giveaway

yes, i have been possessed by color.
and now i feel better, having stitched the colors
into a very simple pillow.
(it measures app. 15"x 20")
closed up in the back with my signature upcycled button placket,
this wonky homemade pillow is ready for a new home.

yup. i'm celebrating yet another birthday with a giveaway.
if you would like to have this pillow arrive at your house*, 
please leave a comment here or send me an e-mail.
i'll choose a winner on wednesday, april 18th.

good luck, dear readers! 

*i am happy to ship overseas, but due to shipping costs, it will be the pillow cover only to overseas readers. i hope you'll understand. xo 

Friday, April 13, 2012

spring bowls

Color possesses me.
I don't have to pursue it.
It will possess me always, I know it.
That is the meaning of this happy hour.
Color and I are one.
-Paul Klee
Happy Friday the 13th!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

a few hours, tucked into a busy day

blueberry muffins
stitching with friends.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

chicken with 40 cloves of garlic

We don't eat much meat these days, but while in Vermont this weekend, I splurged and bought a Misty Knoll chicken.  I love shopping at Hunger Mountain co-op, because they stock and showcase so many local products. The chicken came back to CT in our back-and-forth cooler, packed in ice. Tonight, I made one of our favorite recipes, and used up a bunch of the garlic from last summer's harvest.
This is one of my late mother-in-law's recipes, and I missed her as I worked in my kitchen this afternoon. (She would be delighted to know that all the garlic came from our long dreamed of gardens in Vermont.) I share the recipe with you here...

1 5-lb roasting chicken
salt and freshly ground pepper
7 Tbsp olive oil
40 cloves garlic, unpeeled
1 large bouquet garni (fresh rosemary, thyme, basil and celery springs)
1 1/2 cups flour
1 loaf French bread

-Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. 
-Season the cavity of the chicken with salt and pepper.
-Place the chicken in an ovenproof casserole, preferably terra-cotta.
-Drizzle olive oil evenly over the chicken to coat well.
-Arrange the garlic cloves around the chicken, add the bouquet garni.
-Season with salt and pepper.
-Mix the flour with just enough water to make a dough, roll the dough out into a 1 1/2" strip slightly larger than the circumference of the casserole. Place the dough around the rim of the casserole and seal with the lid. 
-Place the casserole in the the oven and cook for 1 1/2 hours.

Slice the bread and toast until golden brown. Reserve. When the chicken is cooked, carve it into pieces and serve the garlic cloves (to be spread on the grilled toast).
Gorgeous Le Creuset casserole from my best buddy, Liz.
She spoils me.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

rural calm

This morning, after we dropped our trash and recycling at the transfer station, we took the long way home. We came upon a man driving his team of three beautiful horses, as they spread a load of manure on his fields.
It is a blustery, overcast and chilly day up here on the ridge. This afternoon, we bundled up and went out to do more winter clean-up. We uncovered the daffodil buds, gathered more kindling and raked gravel back onto the road. 
One of Batman's hand crafted bird houses, awaiting a tenant.

The crab apples are budding, and the rhubarb is crowning. We had wild ramps from the yard, grilled with asparagus and carrots last night, as we gathered family around the table. My cousin Kristen brought a sweet bouquet of pussy willow stems, one of my very favorite signs of spring. 

Three days of respite from the world, tucked in here at our "bit of earth"...  

Friday, April 6, 2012

spring celebrations

On the Seder Tray...Charoses, symbolic of the mortar the Children of Israel were compelled to make when they worked for their Egyptian taskmasters.

3 medium MacIntosh apples, peeled, cored and grated. 
Toss with 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, 1/4 tsp. cinnamon, 1/4 cup concord grape wine.
Cover, let sit in refrigerator 5-6 hours before serving (with matzos).

Some celebrate the Exodus at Passover, some the Resurrection at Easter, and others the renewal of life out in the sanctuary of Mother Nature. Whatever you are up to, I send you all best wishes for a joyous and happy weekend.  May you make some time to stop, take a few deep breaths and re-connect with your center. If you can, stay there for a bit, and 


Thursday, April 5, 2012

a sampler of blessings

our sweat equity in action

Even those of us who aspire to be stalwart in these modern times can feel a bit overwhelmed. Whenever I sense that I might be sucked into the vortex of despair, I try to remember to "THINK GLOBALLY AND ACT LOCALLY". Sometimes it's the only way I stay sane.

But even acting locally can be challenging, especially when it comes to our house projects/aspirations for the future. The sweat equity check list for this real estate venture has been pretty daunting lately. The actual projects, the uncertainty of the market (real estate and financial markets, both), Batman's career, our timeline, our energy...sometimes it feels like an uphill climb...even though the dream is so clear

Enter the Reed children. Yes, all four of them have brought me back to the richness and fullness of my life. And brought me a huge dose of renewed energy and hope. 

  • Stew and Dawn had been thinking about buying a condo, but now they are thinking about a little house. Am I sad that they are putting down deeper roots on the other side of the country? Absolutely. But if I knew that they had a wee bit of yard to garden in, and a place with some character, to fix up, well, that makes a big difference. That is more of who they are. Let's send them some good luck wishes, eh?
  • And Lindsey...she inspires me every time we talk together. She is an amazing community her job, with her ever expanding group of friends, and with our beloved family, too. She reminds me of the importance of relationships. Cherishing old ones and being open to new ones.
  • Then there's Gretta, our youngest and the "exclamation point at the end of our family". Dreaming big and staying focused on her future. The two of us get a little nutters together. We just had this text exchange:
Gretta :Had a dream that I helped two troubled teens give up a life of crime for goat farming. Oy.
Me: Yesterday I had a dream that I was wearing a dress made of spinach!
Me: Yay! xo

  • And, saving the best bit of news for last, after spending the bulk of the last six years in the mid west, Hannah is moving back a wonderful new teaching position, very close to us here in CT!  We are delighted that we'll have her smile, her energy and her love so close by. Getting through this last last year of house rehab and de-cluttering has taken on a whole new feeling. 
I've also been invited to take on a big, meaningful task on one of the boards that I serve on, giving me yet  another opportunity to exercise my brain and learn. Me? Really? Lucky. And another blessing, while we're counting!

It's taking so, so long for us to actualize such a clear and cherished vision/hope/dream. Sometimes it feels like forever. In the last few days, I have been reminded that we can be replenished and supported. Our hope can be restored. And counting our blessings can be a powerful exercise.

How about you? Have your eyes glazed over here? Or do you have your own story to tell? Please do!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012


sometimes, when life bogs me down 
and i fear that i am running out of steam,
life hands me what i need in spades.

i am wallowing in the midst of spades right now.

more later.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

(Wendell is no April fool)


Laughter is immeasurable.

Be joyful though you
have considered all
the facts.

-Wendell Berry

(thanks, Gretta)