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

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

time out

We don't know much about the dog days of summer around here.
We are enmeshed in a more feline version.

Just to let you last few, faithful blog followers know...
I am stepping away from most everything internet related for a bit.

I'll be back the second week in September
with renewed energy and a fresh vision for how to live in these 
challenging times.

Until then,


Wednesday, August 21, 2019

indigo immersion

Last week I spent two days at the Marshfield School of Weaving, immersed in a workshop given by Graham Keegan. Graham specializes in dyeing with persicaria tinctoria, or Japanese indigo and other botanical plants. I had tried to register for this workshop last year, but it was already full, so I got onto the mailing list and landed a spot in this year's workshop as soon as it was posted!

I doubt I will ever master the nuances of indigo dyeing, but experiencing this workshop sure did up my game.

First we did an aqueous extraction, used for protein fibers...
  • the leaves of fresh indigo plants, mixed in a blender with water, and strained through a bag made of silk screen fabric.
  • the simple vat, with ice cubes added to stop the enzymes.
  • check out the gorgeous color oxidizing on a silk scarf!
Then we created a vat for cellulose fibers...
  • we filled two big pots (taking advantage of some clever Vermont-style outdoor plumbing) with stems and leaves and hot water, weighted them down and left them to soak overnight. 
  • we strained the plant bits out the next day and reserved the liquid. 
  • we added some slaked lime (first dissolved in a bit of water).
  • then we poured the reserved liquid back and forth between two pots to oxidize the dye, until it became an opaque green.
  • the next step requires another overnight, to allow the sediment to settle to the bottom, the liquid is then poured off and the sediment/paste at the bottom keeps indefinitely. This paste can be used to create a vat whenever it's needed.
We cheated somewhere along there and Graham produced a vat that was ready to go and we did a bit of itajime shibori, using wooden blocks and metal clamps to compress the fabric, creating the resist.

My hands are still a faint blue, a sweet souvenir of the days spend with fresh indigo. Coming home on the first day, even the clouds were blue up here on the ridge.

The sequence of dyeing, spelled out in one of Graham's banners...
  • soak
  • wring
  • fold
  • bind
  • dip
  • rinse
  • oxidize
  • balance
  • launder
The Marshfield School of Weaving hosts many classes and workshops at their simple and peaceful and lovely farm. You can read all about the place, the people and the skills they share, here.

My blog post here is not meant to serve as instruction. If you would like to learn more specific information, please be sure to visit your local library for books on dyeing, or prowl the internet, or sign up for a class in your area (even if you have to wait a year to get in!)

I now have a few pieces of fabric, manipulated especially to be used in quilts, which I can add to my naturally dyed stash of supplies. I've also got a lush bed of indigo here at our "bit of earth" to harvest and process in the next few weeks.

Oh, yeah....

Sunday, August 18, 2019

another peaceful and quiet summer field trip

  • "I dedicate this steel icon to the deathless spirit incarnate in one of the most precious of my contemporaries. Like that of St Francis of Assisi, Thomas Berry's life testifies to the indestructible human spirit, the surviving triumph of human wisdom over all the follies and cruelties of our generation." (Frederick Franck on his 97th birthday, April 12, 2006)
  • The yurt in the woods, place of prayer and reflection.
  • The labyrinth.
  • "Mary of the Cosmos", an icon by Sister Bernadette Bostwick.
  • The sign near the entrance to the monastery.
We recently had a house guest who discovered the teachings of Thomas Berry while studying at Yale Divinity School. Frances asked if we could visit the Green Mountain Monastery, co-founded by Father Berry, and we did spend an afternoon with the sisters there. We found this sweet gem of a spot, off the beaten path and were swallowed up by the beauty of the setting. 

To read about the monastery, click here. 

To learn more about Thomas Berry and his writings, click here.  He was an outspoken advocate for the environment and I have become curious about his life.

"Our mission is A Single Sacred Community. In all that we desire... to become radical expressions of this Communion-with each other and the entire Earth Community."

Thursday, August 15, 2019

embracing peace and quiet this summer, whenever we can

  • The East Brethren Shop.
  • Antique Shaker table setting.
  • The Church Family meeting room.
  • Hanging chairs, to create floor space for the dance.
  • Shaker cloaks.
  • Sewing table.
  • Webbing on a Shaker bench.
  • Cupboards in the attic.
  • Wooden pulley system to ring the bell. Still works today.
  • The Great Stone Dwelling, built of local granite.
All photos taken at The Enfield Shaker Museum in Enfield, NH.

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Hey friend, come stand next to me. I will put my arm around your shoulder and pull you close to me. We’ll take a few deep breaths together. We’ll relax our shoulders. And then we’ll do it again. I will find some comfort in your nearness, even via the internet. I hope you will find some in mine. This world we navigate can feel oh so wearying. Yet it is our connectedness, even over many miles, that helps me step into the next uncertain moment and then the next. Love is the answer, even today. Especially today. Namaste. xo

Not that long ago, I posted this, too. Still relevant.