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

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

the veil thins

“...the night of Samhain,
when the barrier between the worlds is whisper-thin and when magic,
old magic, sings its heady and sweet song to anyone who cares to hear it.”
― Carolyn MacCullough, Once a Witch

I'll be listening for the voices from beyond the veil.
The long gone and the newly gone.
Missing them all,
but knowing that their essence is here for me
whenever I care to remember them.

Blessed be.

Monday, October 29, 2018


thought you might appreciate this
 bit of sass.
ordered from marcydavy.

(a version of wearing one's
heart on one's sleeve).

Sunday, October 28, 2018

advice from wilma and corazón

one box.
two cats.

when the news out in the world is just too much,
grab a friend and settle in for a little down time.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

extending comfort, dear readers, on a rough day

"And I think it’s served me really well, because this moment has felt like darkness for years now, as a woman, as a person of color, as a patriot, as someone who loves this country. It’s felt like darkness. And my now-dear friend, Valerie Kaur, gave this beautiful speech on New Year’s Eve, after the election in 2016. And she said something like, “What if this is not the darkness of the tomb, but the darkness of the womb, and America is a country waiting to be birthed, and we are being called to breathe and to push?” And it changed the whole context of the darkness I was feeling, and I thought, I can do this. I know how to do this. I know how to grope in the dark without a road map. And so that’s the element that is with me right now, in this time."
 -America Farrara, from a conversation with Krista Tippet and John Paul Lederach via an On Being podcast titled How Change Happens, In Generational Time.  To listen to the entire piece, click here.

Another world is not only possible, she is on her way.
On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.
-Arundhati Roy

Please be sure that you are registered to vote, and then go to the polls and roar!


Friday, October 26, 2018

road trip!

We have had a whirlwind of houseguests this October. It's been such a pleasure to offer hospitality to friends and family, both. I had a very short visit this week with a dear friend from our days in Connecticut. On Wednesday afternoon we went up and over the snowy Middlebury Gap to Ferrisburgh and the Rokeby Museum. The museum sits on the homestead of the Robinson family, who were Quaker abolitionists. It is a National Historic Landmark designated for its Underground Railroad history.
The museum is hosting an exhibit curated by Harlem Needle Arts called The Fabric of Emancipation.
These gorgeous garments are the creation of artist Sara Bunn, titled "We Wore More Than Shackles:A Day In The Life of Seneca Village". From the exhibit's brochure...this piece "seeks to fill the void of positive images of Black professionals living during America's antebellum period, and to offset the negative images of down trodden people of color within our historical archives."
In the gallery space surrounding these figures, the work of other textile artists hung on the walls. There were quilts, wall hangings, a series of manipulated tee shirts and stitched poetry. Some of the work was very thought provoking, some was disturbing. How I do love it when fabric speaks truth to power!

This link may take you to more photos of the exhibit. Go check them out!

Thursday, October 25, 2018

another colleague, hope

"Visiting our four friends again, we see that 
Truth, Mercy, Justice, and Peace 
have been joined by another colleague,
-John Paul Lederach

Oh, friends, the recent news about mail bombs has me thinking that the rifts in our nation are so ridiculously wide and tightly defended that I have wandered back to a book I read years ago.  The Journey Toward Reconciliation, by John Paul Lederach is a treasure trove of insight and practical ideas to use in peacemaking. I do not identify as a Christian (as he most certainly is), yet his approach to conflict resolution has much to offer even me. He has much to say about "learning how to live together in the midst of deep differences."-William L. Ury, from the back cover of the book.

So how do we, as just ordinary citizens, navigate the rifts and helplessness that we may feel?

When I was feeling really defeated by current events about a year ago, an opportunity for service came knocking on my door. It resonated with me because I knew that the work would have a very local impact. I would be able to collaborate with folks around a mission that resonates with me. And I sensed that the work would bring me a renewed sense of hope when I dearly needed it. I now serve on the board of directors of a Community Action Agency here in Vermont. (The Economic Opportunity Act of 1964, was signed into law by President Lyndon B Johnson and it authorized the formation of Community Action Agencies as part of the War on Poverty.) I have had much to learn. And I have had much to share. I've met such wonderful people. This work even led me to a day at the Vermont Statehouse last winter, someplace I never expected to find myself. My life has been enriched by this work.

And, indeed, I have hope.

At least for my little neck of the woods.

And for right now, that is enough.

How about you?

Do you find hope in a walk in the woods?
In the work/art/gardening/singing/reading that you do?
In the relationships that you grow?
In the places you visit?


Wednesday, October 24, 2018

giveaway winner

yesterday, at our place.

tqoe is the winner of a copy of Less.
i know where to send it :-) 

THANK YOU  friends for all of the wonderful 
book suggestions.
(go back here to see the titles in the comments).

Monday, October 22, 2018

Worry often gives a small
thing a big shadow.
-Swedish proverb

Something to remember as we 
walk into the new week.


Saturday, October 20, 2018

book rambles and a giveaway

There's something about a change in the weather that shifts the energy. Lately I've found more time for reading and I thought I'd share a few of the books that have worked their way to the top of my stack.

  • Hope in the Dark, Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities, by Rebecca Solnit has been on my list for months. First published in 2004, it is now in its third edition, and according to Maria Popova, it is "...a book that has grown only more relevant and poignant in the decade since." 
  • You may recall that Mary Oliver's Devotions is part of what I call my "survival kit" for 2018. Like walking on the road, sewing by hand, steeping and enjoying herbal tea, Mary's poetry  provides me with an active way to meditate...a way to center and find peace. Her book sits on my night table, ready to calm me when I am restless in the darkest hours. It really is a gem.
  • Anne, who blogs at My Giant Strawberry recommended The Late Bloomers' Club to me. I had read Louise Miller's debut novel, The City Baker's Guide to Country Life and enjoyed it. I just finished Miller's newest, The Late Bloomers' Club and I think I liked it even better. Both novels are charming escapes from current events and are filled with true Vermont characters. Light reading for heavy days. Thanks for the recommendation, Anne!
  • My book club has hits and misses, and this month's selection was a fun read. Less, by Andrew Sean Greer was published in 2017 and won the Pulitzer Prize. The committee was perhaps looking to honor something comic and distracting for a change. This romp was slow to start and I got a little lost in the middle, but the story came together nicely at the end. GIVEAWAY OPPORTUNITY...if you would like to find my pre-read copy of Less, in your mailbox, please leave a comment below or send me an e-mail. I apologize in advance...due to postage costs, this is open only to domestic readers. I will select a winner on Wednesday, October 24th.
  • Our book club selection for next month is small great things, by Jodi Picoult. This is another book I have been wanting to read, although I've heard it is a difficult read. Have any of you read it?
  • Folks who have been reading this blog for years may remember that I recommended Winter Morning Walks: one hundred postcards to Jim Harrison, by Ted Kooser. The dated poems begin on November 9th, so you have time to find a copy. I invite you to join me in reading our way through the book again. I will occasionally post a photo here at sewandsowlife, inspired by Kooser's words.

  • Last, but not least, I've been a mender for as long as I can remember (modeled for me by my true-blue-Yankee paternal grandmother, who I had the honor of growing up next door to).  Just this week a wonderful book about mending was published, authored by Katrina Rodabaugh. Filled with mini essays written by some of my faves...Jen Hewett, Sonya Phillip, India Flint and others. There are also reflections written by the author, alongside her clear instructions for many sewing projects. If you are interested in "slow fashion", handcraft heritage, Japanese wabi-sabi and extending the life of your garments, this is the book for you. Mending Matters is a gem. (Looks like I have my work cut out for me with this pair of Batman's jeans!)
How about you? Do you have any book recommendations for us?

Thursday, October 18, 2018

flurries overnight and some wonderful links

a mash up of autumn and winter. 
 with bits of maple flames still showing.
 quiet, other than the rush of wind in the trees.
 the nasturtiums are mush, the chard has bent over,
but i may still be able to harvest some later this morning.
night night, veggie garden...
see you in the spring.
the marigolds are hanging in there, 
with lots of buds still waiting to bloom.
(mother nature is so optimistic).


As promised, I am sharing some of your ideas for beating the blues here, with big thanks to those of you who got in touch with me:

  • Gail N, who shared her delight in the selection of Nobel Peace Prize winners, Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad, "for their efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict."
  • Linda B, who shared a quote by Edward Abbey, "Society is like a stew. If you don't stir it up once in a while, then a layer of scum floats to the top.
  • Lori, who shared the Instagram account of August Wren, one of her favorite artists. Look here.
  • Anne B, who blogs at My Giant Strawberry, for sharing Abigail Halpin's Instagram feed, here. Abigail has recently illustrated a children's book called, Anne Arrives. Her drawing of Anne of Green Gables on the cover is perfection. Anne B has also shared a book recommendation for grown ups. I'll follow up on that on Saturday.
Two good listens:
  • A wonderful podcast about Maeve, the Lamppost. Yes. She is a lamppost. You will love it. Listen here.
  • Have you heard the interview Terry Gross did with chef José Andrés on NPR? He had the crazy dream that he could feed Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. And he did. Listen here.
Come on back to sewandsowlife on Saturday for some book recommendations, and another giveaway.
in the meanwhile,
stay cozy.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

weekend antics

 well of course we would start our sister pie adventure with
because we are, after all, in VERMONT!

(but merciful heavens,
what a insanely naughty list of ingredients!) is very important to read through the instructions 
several times before you undertake a recipe in this book.
we were not so careful and ended up 
wing-a-ding-dinging it a bit.

even so, the pie was killer delicious.
(can you tell we're not real sure to take a "selfie"?)

this afternoon we drove down to king arthur flour
in two cars and did some fun shopping.
we didn't spend much, but we found some things we were looking for.
then frances headed south to go back to school and 
franny and i headed north to come back home.

we haven't checked in with current events in days,
but we've talked knitting, mending, sewing,
family, cooking, gardening and books.
we've played with the cats, watched the sunset, consumed
buckets of hot tea, planned future projects.

and that, dearest friends is how you
don't let the bad guys get you down.

sometimes it's okay to shut out the "real" world
and just make your own powerful fun.


Saturday, October 13, 2018

intergenerational friends

 there may be a hard frost tonight,
so we are harvesting what we can.

my best friend franny is here 
from mount desert island, maine.
her granddaughter, frances, drove over from 
the university of new hampshire to spend some time with us.

frances is always up for a project, so we 
went out to clip some rose hips.
can you see frances behind the rose bush?
 we battled the prickers as best we could,
and managed to collect a nice bunch of the rose hips.
 peeking at the instructions here,
frances created a lovely wreath to take home
to her apartment in new hampshire.
franny and frances are beloved members of our extended family.
we are having a fine time catching up on things.

three generations of sisterhood.

later this afternoon we are
undertaking our first pie from the sister pie cookbook.

can you guess which pie we'll bake first?

Friday, October 12, 2018

pausing on the road

sometimes these grey days feel like a gift.

after a day filled with meetings in barre,
i drove up the hill, shrouded in fog.
i was tired, my mind was racing.

at the meetinghouse i pulled over, 
got out and stretched and took some deep breaths.

the air was dense with moisture,
the colors, muted.

there was spaciousness in that moment.


how often we forget what a magical shift in energy
we can create 
in just a few, carefully crafted moments. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

giveaway winner and a visit to vermont

hello friends.
this is the road we live on...
it's been overcast for days,
but yesterday the sun came out for a bit,
so i thought i'd snap a few pictures for you.
this is the top of our neighbor's driveway.
i often stop here to see the panoramic view.
 heavy traffic while on my walk.
 one of vermont's  iconic sugar maples,
just on the other side of the stone wall.
 these two golden beauties sit at the bottom of our property.
(the meadow has had its annual "brush-hogging")
 we have a new batch of houseguests arriving soon.
the picnic table benches will probably be pulled over 
to the fire pit one evening.
batman may pull out the telescope to check out the
autumn constellations. 
 on my way to the gym this morning
i paused in the driveway to soak in the early 
morning light, glowing on the hills to the west of us.

these days are fleeting.
i really try to be fully present for their wonder.

i thought you might like to pause with me.

(3 folks left comments.
2 folks sent e-mails.)
i pulled a name out of a wooden bowl.
the giveaway winner is BEVERLY.
please e-mail me your snail mail address,
and I'll get the bunting into the mail on friday.

do not dismay if you missed out.
i'll be doing more giveaways in october.


(sometime next week i'll post a collection of 
fun resources and distractions that you 
have shared with me this week.
thank you so much for sending them along).

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

tula tuesday::week 35

 block number 31
from tula pink's
city sampler
100 modern quilt blocks.

some carolyn friedlander trees,
my own indigo and some very old calico.
inspired by the foliage,
which has finally had a chance to shine
after many, many cloudy, grey days
here in vermont.

(if you'd like a chance at a wee giveaway,
scroll back to yesterday for details.)

Monday, October 8, 2018

a wee giveaway

 this afternoon, i was trying to think of a simple way 
to offer a tiny bit of comfort for you, dearest readers.

i ducked into my sewing studio and stitched a few
scraps from my natural dyeing projects 
onto a piece of grosgrain ribbon.
it was put together spontaneously,
so it is rustic and has some wabi.
this bunting is just a small thing,
but maybe it will remind you of indigo and tansy, growing here in vermont.
maybe it will remind you of blue skies and golden sunshine.
maybe it will remind you of how so many of us 
are tied together over the wonders of the internet, one to another, despite the miles.

if you would like a chance to find this bunting in your mailbox,
please leave a comment here, or send me an e-mail.

i'll toss your names into a basket and draw one winner.
i'll pull a name and post the winner here late wednesday afternoon.

this giveaway is now closed.


Sunday, October 7, 2018

a new day


Friday and Saturday were two of the very worst days, weren't they?

Yesterday I raged.

I ate bad food. Tortilla chips and Brach's Autumn Mix. I know I was eating my feelings.

I used my seam ripper a lot, until I realized it wasn't a good idea to be sewing anger into a gift, so I walked away.

Lindsey and Scott are here for the long weekend and that has been a help. They were the ones that suggested we all spend the evening with Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. If ever there were a time for wizards, it is now.

"This pain is part of being human...the fact that you can feel pain 
like this is one of your greatest strengths."
-Albus Dumbledore

The dawn today was framed by misty swirls around the hills. 


Fraught with foreboding.


It's a new day. A day to rest, process our crazy new reality and get our feet back under ourselves. 

Let's take time, friends. Time to do what we need to do to be ready for whatever comes next.


Friday, October 5, 2018

where's your focus these days?

Wilma and Coraźon,
perched on the windowsill in my sewing studio,
on chipmunk patrol.
Four eyes are better than two?

I say we follow the lead of my beloved kitties today.

Dearest readers,

I don't think we want to hear 
the roar of righteousness
that is going on in Washington D.C. today,
do we?

Instead, I invite you to explore the fun over at
the MacArthur Fellows Program.
The most recent 25 new "Genius" Awards
were announced yesterday.

Check out the fabulous winners

Just looking at the faces of these winners gives me hope.

"It's much more radical,
much more daring,
and much more dangerous to hope."
-Mary Karr

(via On Being)

Thursday, October 4, 2018

heading out the door...

"up on braintree hill"

...tonight is the opening reception at the gallery.


Wednesday, October 3, 2018

inviting you in

pondering the possibilities here,
tossing a few treasures together.

OK friends.

I woke up this morning to find that "our" president had mocked Christine Blasey Ford at a rally and that the crowd behind him roared with approval. And that his finances are turning out to be as rotten as we suspected them to be. I am so done with railing against this man.

When I first started writing here at sewandsowlife, way back in January 2009, I included these words in my sidebar. They are still there.

Life can sometimes be a wrestling match between love and fear. 
We can CHOOSE which to embrace. 
Every day. 
On my "to do" list? 
Breathe, hope, notice, invite, love, create, wonder, celebrate.

Don't get me wrong. I will still work to make positive changes here in my neck of the woods. I will continue to persist. 

But for the next few months, I will pour Light and love and hope into this quiet little spot on the internet. I'll pull together a few sweet little things even on the darkest days.

Today I have two treasures to share...

Do you follow Pamela Zagarenski on Instagram? Otherwise known as "sacredbee", her artwork and greeting cards are filled with lovely quotes and beautiful images.  Her message today just took my breath away. Lyrics from an anthem from my teen years, by The Youngbloods, combined with a quote from Rumi and a gorgeous image of her own just calmed me right down. Check her out. Poke around her website and read about her's quite a story. Maybe she will become one of your favorites too.

And I just can't resist sharing something a little personal. Our daughter Lindsey has been working at a magical place in Detroit called "Sister Pie" for a while now. She has cut back her hours to begin work on her master's degree, but she still spends two days rolling dough and dancing in the Sister Pie kitchens. Here are two delightful Instagram posts with Lindsey front and center... ONE, TWO. Yesterday the fabulous SISTER PIE cookbook was released into the world! Read about how this special little bakery runs their business here. You can find information about the cookbook if you scroll around a bit. (Liz, if you are reading this, I already ordered you a copy for your birthday. Lisa will sign it and it will be on its way to you soon). When Batman and I visited Detroit in March, before Lindsey was even working there, we ate pie there. Dang, it was fine pie.

So, friends, are you in?

Are you up for some hope, some beauty, a respite?

This will work so much better if you jump in with me! Send me links that you have stumbled upon, either by email or in a comment here. Share your inspiration, your thoughts, your resources!

From Sacredbee...

"Now is the time to know that all that you do is sacred" -Hafiz

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

tula tuesday::week 34

 block number 83
from tula pink's
city sampler
100 modern quilt blocks.
 very old fabric from my stash.
inspired by the pumpkins nestled out on the front porch,
sheltered from the cold, rainy october day here in vermont.

temporarily weary and uninspired.
permission granted to self.
just don't wallow, girl.

it's really okay to feel this way now and again.


Monday, October 1, 2018

Oh, October

 I lit a candle at dawn on the morning of the hearings
and held Christine Blasey Ford in the Light,
along with every-single-other-survivor out there.

I listened to the hearings until I had to attend an event at the 
Old Labor Hall in Barre, VT.
When there is a lot at stake in a situation, I look for signs.
I bumped onto this beauty in the basement of the hall. 
I was taught that there are surely at least two sides to a story.
Indeed there are.
It's just that some stories are powerful in
their stark and uncomfortable truth.
Some are blurred by privilege, power and complicity.
Some truths are flipped after research,
or the passage of time.

It can be distressing to wade through such raw feelings,
such upset.

Are you eating carefully, sleeping enough, 
getting some respite from the 24/7 newsfeed?

Are you reaching out to friends, breathing deeply,
doing some good self care?

I am here for you, dear friends.
Leave a comment or e-mail me
if you need some support right now.  
On Saturday, I helped hang the show.
Four of us made short work of the project
and went out for lunch afterwards.
Kindred spirits.
Stitching sisters.
We are not alone.
And today.
The first of October.
My very favorite month of the year.

 It will be hard for many of us here in Vermont to concentrate
 for the next few weeks.
Mother Nature will pull us over to the side of the road,
she’ll stop us dead in our tracks,
she’ll make us late for meetings,
she’ll cause our eyes to tear up.

Check back often.
I'll be here.