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

Monday, December 31, 2018

winding down on 2018

Our windowsill harvest...
Meyer lemons grown in central Vermont.
Their fragrance is filling the kitchen.

As we sit perched between 2018 and 2019
we're in the midst of a lovely opportunity for contemplation...
to look back and to look forward.

Will you be choosing a word for 2019,
to hold as a reminder for intention
 as you slide into the new year?

2018 has been winding down around here 
with a few rough patches we have had to navigate.
We're cautiously optimistic.
So I had not been paying much attention to all the new year stuff.


My word found me, even though I was not looking for one.
I'm working on a little paper banner to string up in my
sewing studio, which will be a visual reminder all through 2019
of something that's been nipping at my heels for ages.
Come on back tomorrow if you're curious about it. 

And here's a little something you might like to try...
Forks over Knives is offering a
a free 21-day plan to help you transition to a plant-based lifestyle.
I've signed up, with the intention of refocusing on healthier eating. 
Not hard core for us, just a gentle reminder of what changes
we can make to tidy up our eating habits.
Besides, who doesn't love a new recipe or two?
Have you watched their acclaimed documentary?
Let me know if you have already signed up or decide to.

Be safe tonight, friends!
Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 23, 2018

between the solstice and christmas, a pause.

"May the Love which overcomes all differences,
which heals all wounds,
which puts to flight all fears,
which reconciles all who are separated,
be in us and among us
now and always."

-Frederick E Gillis

Friday, December 21, 2018

a more somber solstice

Where there is Light there is Hope, 
and so we Celebrate the Solstice!

And yet...there is often something new to learn
on this journey of life, eh?

Capstone Community Action 
sponsored a candlelight vigil tonight
in downtown Randolph. 
We stood under umbrellas in freezing drizzle,
bearing witness to homelessness.

December 21 is
National Homeless Persons' Memorial Day,
observed on the longest night of the year.

there but for the grace of the goddess go I

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

we have not forgotten...

Remembering the short and precious life of
Erin Elizabeth Potts.
May 14, 1991-December 18, 2009


Monday, December 17, 2018

grandma musings

Due to schedules and distances and needing to share our kids with their other families, Batman, Cora, Wilma and I will be having a very quiet holiday season here at our "bit of earth". But this past weekend we did a crazy 48 hour zoom down to Brooklyn and back. We drove because we had some balsam trees to deliver along the way, and a case of Long Trail ale, and a jug of maple syrup and some packages and a bag of "pass them along" magazines and we didn't think we could manage all that on Amtrak's Vermonter. 

Little Maggie has been part of our family for a bit over a year now, but this weekend I think I felt a shift under my feet. I've thought of her as part of our family, and indeed she is. But while we tromped around Brooklyn with Gretta, Ben and their little cherub, I realized that now we are also a part of their family. Does that make any sense?

I was reminded over and over again of one of my very favorite poems, Antoine de Saint-Exupery's Generation to Generation

"...Love, like a carefully loaded ship, crosses the gulf between generations..." 

You can read the full text of the poem here. It's a very lovely poem, in fact, Batman and I read it at Stewart and Dawn's wedding years ago. I have sent a copy of it to friends when I've thought it might be of some comfort. It's that kind of poem.

I love how the words of poems can provoke different nuances as we age. 

And I love that now I'm part of a younger family, too.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

noticing and listening

Happy Saint Lucia Day, friends! Celebrating our heart string connections to Sweden, I lit some birch luminaria early this morning and caught a silhouette of our Dala horse in the window.  

Ted Kooser's poems continue to remind me to notice the beauty that is all around me. The crescent moon at dawn on Monday set me on a mindful path for the day. On Tuesday, everything was covered in frost as I drove down the hill. The beauty of this early winter has been its silver lining.

Birchbark is finding its way into so many of my projects these days...I don't know if birches are a talisman or a totem for me or quite what...but these lovely trees really call my name. (What is the word I am looking for?)

If you are yearning for a circle of Light to sit in these days, brew yourself a pot of tea and settle in to listen to Krista Tippet interview Tracy K. Smith, our current poet laureate. The piece is about 52 minutes long, so be sure to set aside enough time to both listen and reflect on this inspiring piece. Six years ago, Hannah and I went to hear her read her poetry...

In the early evening, Hannah and I drove up and over the Rochester Gap, to the Big Town Gallery where we heard Tracy K Smith, the 2012 Pulitzer Prize winner for poetry read from her newest collection, Life on Mars. We were nestled in the gallery, set up with ancient wooden folding chairs, and a gentle drizzle coming down outside. What a blessing it was to sit quietly and let Tracy's lyrical words soak into us. Her work is brilliant, honest and deeply human. 
-July 16, 2012

Be well, friends. xo

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

tula tuesday::week 40

 block number 15
from tula pink's
city sampler,
100 modern quilt blocks.
and the inspiration.
i grew up next door to my paternal grandmother
and my christmas cactus has grown from a clipping
i took from her plant a few years before her death in 1992.
the plant has travelled with us from chicagoland to connecticut
and now to vermont.

it is a trace of my beloved grammielowry
that i still cherish.


Monday, December 10, 2018

baking into the festive season

our nifty vermont kitchen has a few pull-out drawers,
this one has a bunch of baking supplies tucked in.

batman is the holiday baker around here,
having been imprinted at an early age by his
grandma peggy and his mom.

i'm more into the tea breads.
he is full throttle sugar cookies, pecan puffs,
gingerbread people (but you must ask gretta about 
the lederhosen boys!), english toffee and
cinnamon squares.

today i listened to a podcast of
vermont edition that was originally broadcast
on friday, hosted by jane lindholm.

she interviewed "celebrity chef" gesine bullock-prado
about her new book, fantastical cakes.
you can listen to the interview here.
let me just say that
gesine takes her cake baking very seriously.

fyi, gesine is a vermonter and the sister of actress sandra bullock.

(i was reminded of my "meet up" with vicki g. at king arthur
a while back. vicki was lucky enough to attend a "meet and greet"
with gesine when vicki was taking a few classes
at the king arthur baking school in norwich.)

i've got granola and orange cranberry bread
on my baking list for this week.

do you have any holiday baking in mind dear readers?

Friday, December 7, 2018

kooser, rope bowls and tea

Oh friends, this was the view on my way down the hill just after sunrise. The "snow ghosts" were swirling across the road along the ridge. It was 20 degrees and dropping. The low temperature overnight is forecast to be -2, with single digits for a low most of next week. This really is an early and fierce winter season...and it's not even really winter yet. 

This week's Kooser poems have been especially lovely. I thought of him as I rose from bed the other day and spotted my old favorite, Orion perched on the top of the Green Mountains. Have you been enjoying Winter Morning Walks
Our VTMQG is in the midst of a rope bowl frenzy. At our last meeting, one of our members showed us how to make them. Our holiday gathering is coming up, complete with a gift swap for those who want to participate. We've been invited to make a rope bowl, put a small gift in it, wrap it and bring it to our meeting on Sunday. I've wanted to try crafting a rope bowl for ages, and so I took advantage of the incentive. They are addictive and a bit meditative at the same time! I am still struggling a bit with how to incorporate a bit of fabric here and there, but I shall persevere. Members have been posting pictures on Instagram...our president has made cat sized bowls for her kitties to nap in.

You can find all sorts of tutorials for rope bowls online, and lots of fun inspiration if you check #ropebowl on Instagram. Let me know if you have made one, or if you try one son. :-)
In the self care department (in December don't you think this is especially important?) I've been brewing an old favorite anti-inflammatory tea. It is really delicious.
  1. Boil 2 cups of water
  2. Add 1/4 tsp each of whole cumin, coriander, and fennel seeds
  3. Cover and continue to slow boil for 5-10 minutes
  4. Remove from heat and let cool to a comfortable drinking temperature
  5. If desired, add raw honey to taste (Do not add raw honey to boiling hot water)
(With thanks to Marie Frohlich and a workshop she gave on anti-inflammatory tips at a NOFA-VT conference a few years ago.)

Hope you have a fine weekend, friends. Be gentle with yourselves and those around you. This can be a challenging time of year to keep our equilibrium. xo

Thursday, December 6, 2018

how are you faring?

 Batman's annual peace wreath, hanging on the garage door.
I really appreciate his devotion to this tradition.
 Tea towel+trimming+hemming+curtain rod=cafe curtain.
 Half of a grapefruit, 
four holes poked around the edge of the peel
and kitchen string create a hanging bowl.
Filled it with leftover bacon grease and birdseed
and hung it outside the kitchen window...
A snack station for chickadees.

The days get shorter,
the flurries keep flurrying.
The greens are gathered,
the lights are strung.
Steam rises from the mug of tea,
and the lists get written.
Carving out calm and peace...

How are you faring,
dearest readers, 
as we move deeper into the season
of the natural world's hibernation 
and our human time of celebration?

Be gentle with yourselves.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

tula tuesday::week 39

block number 6
from tula pink's
city sampler
100 modern quilt blocks.

i used a bit of my tansy dyed linen,
a reminder of warmer days! 
and the inspiration...
we have four Meyer lemons
ripening on our windowsill tree.

(the tree was a gift from batman,
a few years back. 
he ordered it from here)

Monday, December 3, 2018

december light

"I cannot cause light; the most I can do is try
to put myself in the path of its beam."
-Annie Dillard

Our first paper white narcissus has opened on the windowsill in the kitchen, and already her scent has filled the space. Angie left a comment a few days back, asking about the "how to" of forcing bulbs. I would like to recommend a beautiful book, forcing, etc. I have a signed copy that I bought when we visited White Flower Farm in CT years ago and we use it each fall as we prep the bulbs for the root cellar.  You can find the book on Amazon, or at your local independent bookstore, and I would encourage you to check used book stores too, or ask your local library to see if they have it or ask about inter-library loans. There are so many ways to have access to books these days.

Did you see the crescent moon and Venus at dawn this morning? The crescent had a ring around it here in Vermont and the sky was blue just before dawn. It looked like a Maxfield Parrish painting.

You may have read about the capitol building in Montpelier here at sewandsowlife before. It's a gorgeous building, with a golden dome, that backs up against a hill dense with evergreens. There's a statue of Ceres, the goddess of agriculture and fertility perched on the top of the dome. Ceres was removed a while ago. She was falling apart due to years of exposure to Vermont weather. On Friday a new statue was raised via crane and you can read about it here. Be sure to scroll down to the bottom to see her up close. The golden circlet in her hair is simply gorgeous, and who can resist a sheaf of grains, cradled in a goddess's arms? I am looking forward to checking her out when I go to Montpelier for errands this afternoon.

Last night I tried a new soup recipe and it was fabulous. A new fave that will go into heavy rotation in the kitchen, for sure. The spuds and leeks came from our root cellar. The celeriac and spinach came from local farms, and the recipe is from Cedar Circle Farm, just down the highway a bit.

And in celebration of Hanukkah...

"A candle is a small thing. But one candle can light another. And see how its own light increases, as a candle gives its flame to the other. You are such a light."
-Moshe Davis