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

Saturday, November 29, 2014

another invitation to read along...this time for a year

What is the recipe for sane living these days?
How can we be informed citizens of the world without being overwhelmed by the challenges both near and far?
How can we best work with our own resources when there is such need before our open hearts?
How can we rise to the callings we may hear while maintaining appropriate boundaries and self care?
How can we explore our curiosity about the creativity of others without losing our own voice?
How can we seek to be in the present moment when there is so much to distract us?

Oh, this season that is upon us...when well meaning holiday greetings may pull us in too many directions...

This episode of On Being with Krista Tippet, an interview with Carrie Newcomer, offers some comfort and inspiration. We saw her in concert a few years ago in Northampton MA and were enchanted. 

Inspired by that conversation I have begun reading from A Year With Rilke, Daily readings from the best of Rainer Maria Rilke, translated and edited by Joanna Macy and Anita Barrows.

How about it friends? Last winter some of us read Ted Kooser's Winter Morning Walks together. Is anyone up for joining me this year for the daily companionship of Rilke? Sometimes starting or ending the day with beautiful, thoughtful words can be just the right way to navigate our world.

Who's in?

Friday, November 28, 2014


  • quite the toboggan run, from beginning to end.
  • a pre dinner 5-K run in the snow for some people.
  • quilting/crafty time.
  • the moment when we realized that I had forgotten to put sugar in the pumpkin pie and Batman got up, went into the kitchen and brought the 1/2 gallon jug of maple syrup to the table with a grin on his face.
  • mimosas in the morning that ended up with sparkly magenta nail polish on my nails.
  • chortling, game playing, napping, reading, walking and lots of dish washing.
  • long distance phone calls to missing loved ones.
  • thanking. more thanking.
  • so*much*good*food.

Two faves you may enjoy...

Lindsey made buckwheat pancakes with this amazing topping, a puddle of pink sweet/tartness.
1/2 cup fresh cranberries
2/3 cup maple syrup
Bring to a gentle boil in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Simmer until the berries begin to soften, but not popped, about 5 minutes. Serve over pancakes.

Three sisters casserole with cornbread topping, from Kripalu, link here.

Soaking up these days without structure, with warmth from the wood stove, with hands held around the table and a bit of silence before each meal...

Sending you warmth from the snowy mountains of Vermont...

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

the day before

The funky little kitchen has been in overdrive all day long.
The garden pumpkins are now in a pie and
 a Granny Smith pie sits next to it on a cooling rack.
We had muffins for breakfast made with cranberries from 
A turkey from the Green Mountain Girls Farm sits in a cooler
in the breezeway, along with a stem of Brussels sprouts.
Two out of four children have arrived safely at the house,
their siblings are safely in other wonderful places
(as they get older we have to share them...).
Sending love to you all.

*photo thanks to Hannah

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

I cannot look away...

...and so we will be reading these two books, out loud, together.

The New Jim Crow Law:Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

Hand to Mouth:Living in Bootstrap America by Linda Tirado

During this week of national thanksgiving, there is a discomfort, a brokenness and tragedy all around us...which calls us to truth seeking and understanding. It is not easy, but it requires our attention.

I'll be back tomorrow and Thursday with my usual photos and more cheerful thoughts...


Sunday, November 23, 2014

sewing, knitting and love

510 half square triangles later (what was I thinking?)
I am finally putting the quilt top together.
Remember my list of projects for 2014?
2014 ended up being a year fraught with surprises and complications,
so I am absolutely happy with just some simple progress on this list!
and I finished this little hat,
also begun months ago.

Krista Tippet is my "go to" voice for thoughtful conversation.
Her APM radio show On Being is one of my favorite places to listen.
Her podcast with Joanna Macy,  found here, is about 50 minutes long.
Entitled A Wild Love for the World,
it is inspiring, hope-filled and quite lovely.
I recommend it to you.
(Like Tara Brach, Joanna Macy embraces
the practice of insight meditation.)

Sometimes, when I am tucked downstairs in my sewing space
I love the quiet.
Sometimes I listen to tunes or news on the radio.
Other times, I love to listen to TED talks or On Being podcasts.
So many choices...

What do you like to listen to?

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

cranberry glass
a bit from each grandmother and a little pitcher i bought years ago.
thanksgiving cactus
right on cue, even as they were confused by the move 
from CT to VT.

counting the days till my very favorite holiday.
pure, unadulterated gratitude.

(*in response to chartreuse's comment below,
take a look here. i only learned this recently myself!)

Monday, November 17, 2014

our own version of "say yes to the dress"

it is hard to imagine on this snowy november day 
that there will be a wedding under these special birch trees next summer.
our sweet gretta and her beloved ben will be married at our
bit of earth.
she has asked me to make her dress and 
she has some very special ideas about it already.
the day will be filled with homegrown loveliness.
a tent.
a small group of family and friends.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The highest form of spiritual practice is
self-observation without judgement.
-Swami Kripalu

It was still dark on Friday morning as I finished packing. Thanks to the generous encouragement of my beloved Batman, I was headed back to Kripalu for a weekend workshop on meditation with Tara Brach. I went a bit early and met my dear friend Frances for lunch. When we headed off to our room to unpack and settle in I discovered that when packing in the dark, I had grabbed a left and right sandal from two different pair! My heart sank. Would I have to wear my hiking boots all weekend? That would not work very well as shoes are not allowed in all the workshop venues and I would be tying and untying all weekend long. Then I realized there really was no problem. These mismatched sandals would work just fine. In fact, it would be a good exercise for mitchy matchy me to just let it go. 

And so the weekend unfolded...we were stunned, and if I am to be honest, a bit put off, to find that the program had 250 attendees. I wondered how that would work. But I overheard a woman remark that she thought it was wonderful so many people wanted to explore meditation. Hello attitude shift! Let the judgement go, Karen...

There were hours and hours of Tara's story telling, guided meditation, small group exercises and deep quiet in a room full of 250 people. By Sunday morning we had all been through a lot together. The work of deep meditation is not easy. But the energy, love and compassion in that room had grown exponentially over those five sessions. It was really remarkable. Hard to describe. But it filled me with hope. Hope that cannot be found in any other way than in deep stillness and with intention and being fully present. Without judgement.

Tara's website is filled with resources. You can find sample meditations there and other lovely inspiration. I invite you to explore all she has to offer. Perhaps as we work to find hope and peace within ourselves, we can bring hope and peace into this world we live in.


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

my new sewing space

My sewing studio here in Vermont is a fraction of the size of my old space, but how about that view? No complaints here! Despite being tucked into the basement, the windows down here let in plenty of natural light.
The cutting table fits snugly in one corner of the room.  Henry loves to sit on the window ledge, as it gives him a ground level view of the local chipmunks. A few weeks ago I found him chattering at a fuzzy caterpillar that was roaming the dried leaves under the pine trees, just inches from his nose.
I miss the shelves I had in CT over my Bernina, but I have found places to store those things just fine.
There is plenty of wall space for inspiring gallery arrangements like this one. The late afternoon sunshine slants into the room in a most extraordinary way. As the winter closes in, I'm guessing this will be a lovely sanctuary, where I can make progress on the many projects I have been yearning to take into hand.

A very comfy chair sits in another corner, waiting for you, dear friends. Bring your hand sewing, knitting or reading. I've got a plenty of tea and if you let me know you're coming, I'll have biscuits on hand, too.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

stick season, stitching and home

Stick season comes to Vermont after the foliage has faded and before winter really moves in. It is when the gorgeous and muted colors of tree trunks, rock outcroppings and dried grasses and ferns meld together into somber harmony. This past weekend there was an early dusting of snow that frosted the view. It didn't last, but it marked the turning fires in the wood stove, root veggies for dinner and flannel sheets on the bed.
I finally made time to get my Constellation Quilt from Haptic Lab organized. It will be my portable project for this late fall season. You can find the pattern here.
As the stitching progresses out from the center, the paper pattern can be ripped away to reveal the night skies in the Northern Hemisphere. The piece will measure about a yard square when it's done, the perfect size for a wall hanging. My Batman is an enthusiastic amateur astronomer, so I think it will find a special place here at our "bit of earth".

We voted this morning at our quintessentially New England town hall, our first time voting as full time Vermonters. We will listen to Vermont Public Radio into the night to hear election results. With each passing marker on the calendar we are feeling more and more at home.

The strength of a nation derives from the integrity of the home.