Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Snapshots

Me, cutting out pajama bottoms for Uncle Trey and Aunt Karen, who are engaged. Serena comes to me, assesses the situation, and says: "Maybe they can put on their matching pajama bottoms and have a party and spend the night in their jammies!"

Me at Christmas Eve mass, Brianna singing "O Holy Night" and positively sailing on the high notes, me, a mother who would sob more if she weren't in church, me, crying, with pride, happiness, I feel bittersweet.

Davis, holding a wrapped gift, grinning and laughing with joy. If he could speak, he would say "a box! I'm so happy! you got me a box!"

Madeline, coming downstairs on Christmas morning, seeing a gift she had asked for, and suddenly she is not 15 anymore, but a magical 6...all wonder and innocence.

Serena: "why don't we have 5 kids in our family, Momma? Like So-and-So?

Me: "Because kids are expensive. They cost a lot of money."
Serena, scoffing: "But you don't BUY kids....you BORN them!"
Me: "so true, so true!"

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Groaning and moaning for 2009

Yes, our holidays were lovely...very lovely. I found myself in a crazy "making" mode....working up enough steam to complete most of my sewing projects and only 2 of my knitting projects that were meant for gifts. I did not heed any of my own advice, and did not take care of myself very well. Now, in the post-Christmas blitz of visiting and unwrapping and traveling, I find myself very down. I told myself I wasn't going to blog when I was depressed, but you know, sometimes I feel compelled to share my humanity, and offer a glimpse into the "unhappy" spaces. I just can't pretend I have it together all the time. Perhaps it will comfort someone out there knowing they are not the only ones. Holidays are notorious for bringing out issues. I find myself in a room full of dragons...they have caught me unawares, they have taken my dignity, and now I must suffer the consequences....go into the loneliness...lick my wounds...regroup somehow...and most importantly, clean my house.
Part of me feels like this is the gift of the 2009 holidays to me...to go to that dark place and come out of it illumined. I keep telling myself to breathe through any bolus of feelings I have as if it were a contraction in childbirth. This seems to help. It's all good in the end, right?
At any rate, I do feel gratitude to all of you who stop by this space. I wish you the most blessed of holidays and happiness(whatever that means!)  in the new year. Ok, then, I wish you inner peace in the midst of the storms.
In love and peace and joy, Angie

Sunday, December 20, 2009

James Geary, metaphorically speaking | Video on TED.com

James Geary, metaphorically speaking | Video on TED.com

Empty

As an artist, I have been on a journey. There was a time I doubted my abilities in the light of so much natural talent out there. Comparisons were made, and I decided the "artist" label did not apply to me. I just didn't measure up. Since then, my definition of artist has changed and broadened to mean anyone who is on a creative path. There is a whole inner running dialog about the meaning of creativity, and included in that dialog are thoughts about origins.
Originality is something I strive for. I believe it is a real struggle. Judging something as original (as in, originating from me) requires my inner critic, yes, and it also helps bring out work that is unique to me. My art is the expression of who I am, distilled to its essence, originating from itself, an outer expression of the Flow I somehow tapped into.
Somewhere along the way, we are taught that the wisdom of books and experts is exactly what we need, that our own wisdom is not to be wholly trusted, that our ideas are suspect. The educational system I was brought up in encouraged a surface knowledge of facts, and an aptitude toward easily recalling these facts. The times I was encouraged to discover and explore and think for myself seemed fewer by far, and by the time I was given those opportunities, I sincerely didn't know how.
I bring this up because we are all a product of our society, we all have so many outer "voices" that contribute to who we are. We definitely live in a society filled with noisy opinions and news and facts and experts and methods and trends. I also bring this up because I believe art and parenting and creativity and relationships are inherently bonded, and if you are a parent, the memories you create for your child, the words you paint with, the habits you form, these are your art.
This art has an origin. We have all formed our parenting based on the example of our parents, books we've read, other parents we've connected with. But still, the relationship we form with our children is unique. Each moment we spend with our child is the expression of those decisions we've made and which voices we've identified with.  Still, I ask myself, and I ask you...what are you...what are you and your child...when you are distilled to your essence....stripped of outer voices...trusting each other? What are you when you are empty and that emptiness is illuminated with only love? What kind of dance ensues when one is that open?
One of the blessings of working with parents in a parent-child class is watching a group wisdom unfold. If I allow the space for parents to talk to one another (rather than jump in with the "right" answer), they touch on what is right for their child...they help each other strip away those outer voices...they help each other remove self-doubt and trust their intuition. They are able to observe more. They engage in the art of parenting.
Being original requires thinking through a thing before merely parroting something we've heard, or our own parents. It requires coming from a place of listening as opposed to mere automatic reacting. Sometimes what we imitate rings true for us, sometimes it doesn't. It is important, at least for me, for me to find out where I am composing the song, where I am putting my voice to someone else's song, or where I am completely composing and singing my own song. When I am the singer and the song, I have found my voice....as parent, as artist, as wife, as friend.
Today I will ponder the meaning of emptiness and openness in my parenting, and keep myself original!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Check this out. Two socks at a time!

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Joy of Sharing

When we opened the package, Serena was SO excited. She had to set up her treasures on the table right away so I could snap a picture.
 I have never participated in any online exchanges, but this year I am doing this one and this one. We sent out the first (Seasons Round) on Monday, and have one to send out today. So far, it is completely fun. my only regret is that i did not take any pictures of what I sent. My exchange partner, as you can see, is quite talented and sent the sweetest things! We are so excited.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Holiday Madness

It sure can seem mad, eh? There is so much joy and excitement (and making) for me, and also a nagging sense of dread for all the things that get piled on my plate(s), sometimes literally! Even if I've been trying to have a simple Christmas for years, the rush-rush feelings always creep up on me and catch me unawares. There is also a sense of dread for all the "things" that come into the house...we are indeed blessed. But I struggle with the excess. I am not a natural manager of "things". I have to remind myself to "breathe." And for me, breathing is at the heart of rhythm.
When you are a mother of young children, the trickle-down theory is most certainly in effect, especially when it comes to rhythm.  Also, when you are a mother of young children, the children's needs come first. How to balance this? How to keep your own rhythm so that you are better able to meet your own needs while nurturing children and creating a nourishing homelife? What better time of year  to end up nourished by all the sensory and spiritual treats of the season (as opposed to thoroughly depleted)?
In thinking about nourishing the senses, I was reminded that the four lower senses as presented by Steiner correspond to early childhood (birth-7) Those senses are: touch, life, self-movement, and balance. These can all be affected by the season. Think about parents too rushed to give hugs, babies in car seats as they are toted from store to store, all the blinking lights and over stimulation of too many commitments, the cold weather forcing everyone inside, children being at adult parties and having to "hold" themselves together.
What if I protected and nourished my own senses, with an emphasis on those 4 lower senses?
So here is how I am going to purpose to nourish myself and keep quiet joy throughout this next month:
Touch: For me, a whirlwind of activity can mean not truly connecting with those I love. So, I will purpose to "touch" them in the larger sense of the word, and not only give hugs, but receive them with warmth (as opposed to rushing on to the next thing).
Self-movement: I will purpose to continue exercising and moving my body in healthy ways, and not be afraid of going outside. We all need the sunlight. Feeding animals, neighborhood walks, and yard work can get us all outside and moving. And I will continue my runs, knowing it is healthy for me.
Balance: I think this one is self-explanatory. For young children, this often means literal balance in their bodies. I am off-balance when I am tired. This just means, for me, saying no to too many commitments and weaving in adequate "down" time.
Life: My sense of life is very full at this time of year. I think with all the joyful preparations at home, the magic of children, and the sense of anticipation, it is easy to be engaged in life. But for adults, sometimes the holidays bring deeper sadnesses. As we spiral inward, we confront shadows. We dig up griefs. We miss loved ones who have passed on. Family issues come out (I've talked to at least two people this past week who recounted family holidays with words like "jail" and "addiction".) This is the core of our work as parents, as humans, I believe. To know about the darkness, acknowledge the darkness, and consciously choose to walk in the light.
Thinking about this really helps me, keeping even more sacred the rhythm we have established at home, forgiving myself when I stray. I have to make these decisions for the self I am going to be after the holidays as well. I don't want to do major damage control because we got too far off the path and everyone is out of sorts for days. I want to make space for the spiritual blessings of the season, and this can only happen from a place of quiet. So, we will see how it goes. Writing about it this way helps make it less of a dreamy idea and more of a tangible goal, and hopefully this will help me be a source of strength for my family.
And now, to announce the winner of my giveaway:
comment #6: Renee of Heirloom Seasons! Congratulations, Renee!!!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Happy Birthday Davis!

The night before, at 16 days overdue, I had walked the Winter Spiral at our school. My inward whispers were desperate,pleading. Please come out, child. I had been pleading with him for some time now, my body had betrayed me as I tried herbs, castor oil, sex...everything you are supposed to try to get a baby out. Contractions would come and go, sometimes strong, sometimes not. Mostly just frustrating.
Madeline had been stubborn like that. She held out 3 and a half weeks and came out a plump ten pounds. I had previously given birth to a 7 lb. 11 oz. baby. I did not want to give birth to another ten pound baby, so I called my midwife and she helped me along a little bit.
The next evening, amidst the bickering and bantering of the dinner table, my contractions started up again. The clock said 5:15, 5:20, something like that. I didn't feel much like eating. The last thing I remember was Brianna saying, "I don't like you, Chance. You're never home." They ate, I puttered, called the midwife but told her I wasn't sure this was it, asked her to come check me whenever she thought she could. and went to the basement to put in a load of laundry. I had a doozy of a contraction down there, and that was the first time I felt I needed support.
Back upstairs, the contractions were strong enough to keep me from talking through. Chance called the midwife this time, and luckily, she was nearby. I was so far inside, coping with the contractions that were not coming at a leisurely swell and recede, but intense wave after wave after wave. With such little time, I really had to stay focused and centered. The midwife came, we set up the bedroom, I went to the bathroom and felt pushy. I moved into the bedroom, draped myself over the bed while kneeling, and started working with my body to push this child out. It was completely overwhelming and I was using all my inner resources to ease him out. At one point, the midwife said, "reach down and catch your baby!" This pulled me back into the room and I helped ease Davis's head out by pushing as gently as I could. The cord was around his neck, the midwife looped the cord over his head, and I pushed his body out. I don't remember whose hands were on him first. The older girls were upstairs but not in the room. Except for Serena.While we were admiring our newborn child, Chance kissed me on my bare shoulder. For some reason, this little detail is one of the most significant moments of the whole birthing hour. The time was 6:04, 6:05, something like that. Davis came barreling through indeed!
I began nursing him right away and we never had a problem. Everyone cleaned up and someone brought me food and drink. I was on such a high. Phone calls were made, Chance's parents and brother and girlfriend came over, my friend came over....it was so wonderful to finally meet baby Davis. Everyone was so kind to us in the aftermath with food, gifts, and lovely hand-me-downs.

And now I've been in love with this child for a whole year.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Today



*I was going to post something else but I'm feeling chatty and wanted to show you this ornament I received last year. Is this not the funniest thing? . Check him (her?) out. Heels, lipstick, beard, and a third leg. Yes, I am a 7th grader in my humor.
*I also have a big old blog post simmering to update school happenings, more specifically, handwork. In my parent-child classes, we are crafting, and will be baking and painting.Our story is The Star Money (as suggested to me last year by our new kindy teacher....do we not just give and give as mothers? The story is a beautiful picture of the blessings of giving.) Our circle centers around the animals giving their gifts to the child of light. We are also having a winter spiral walk and potluck this week.
*I re-discovered Jonatha Brooke in her online journal. Her music got me through my divorce (14 years ago? I think) i want to read the book she mentions.
*Tomorrow I feel compelled to revisit a birth story. I cannot believe it: my baby, my beloved son, turns 1. So, I will write about his coming into being.
You will have to tell me what you think about Santa. A new name, perhaps?

Monday, December 7, 2009

Crafting A Weekend


Wool candle holder



Wool trees, the second one glitzed and glammed by the 6-year old.

Candle holders wrapped like the ones used for Martinmas (the ones with tissue paper and glue) only I used dyed silk strips (great use for worn out silks) and Mod Podge.

The cast I made from my own drawing, with the carving in process, and the final product: a Pegasus...wild and free and strong. And, the Pegasus horse is a symbol used here during the Kentucky Derby Festival, so there you have the aspect of debauchery too (that was supposed to be funny....you must come experience Derby sometime to know what I mean.) This is the horse ornament I'm giving away as mentioned in my prior post.
We made something else...something fast, easy, and something I will have to share later.
In the meantime, we are thoroughly enjoying Christmas Roses: Legends For Advent, and The Light in the Lantern. During the first week of Advent (the light of stones...crystals...rocks...bones) it was all about teeth around here. A six year molar is appearing and two more baby teeth appearing for Davis. Which is why I have not blogged! (let all moms with teething babies now commiserate, and lift your cup of coffee: cheers!)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Lucky Me, Lucky You

Once you get started blogging, you start to wind and wend your way among lots of people. There are all kinds of people out there...all kinds. It can really be overwhelming....like a virtual New York City where everyone knits and spins and eats local food. It can feel a little isolating too and I need to really remind myself that there is a real world to engage in as well. Balance is the name of the game for me...I tend to really live into life's polarities.
But, one of the reasons I blog is to stay on a creative path and help myself organize myself. It works! Winding my way among all those blogs I learn things. And if I don't learn things, I come away with a sense of fellowship, or that I've been to the "house" of a kindred, or hope for the world. And sometimes I even leave comments!
Ah, comments. All bloggers love comments. I always think of my analogy of the 5 year-old bringing her finger painting to grandma. She wants grandma to say something.
Now, here in the blog world, comments can also mean winning something. Something cool. And I just wanted to let you know that, as someone who has never really won anything, I have had some luck with blogs. I just won this from between hitching posts. I also, some time ago, won a copy of Handmade Home from beauty that moves.  Lucky me!
Now, because it is in the netherworld of between Thanksgiving and Christmas around here, I am going to show my gratitude for all of you who take time to stop by this space, and have a holiday giveaway, and give back what I can. Included in the giveaway will be a cast paper horse ornament (I'll also be selling these on Friday here.), a 2 oz. tin of homemade, completely natural hand balm (people keep asking me for it so I make it every year-you will want and need this for your hands!) and a small journal with a thread painted cover (my header is a mixed media thread painting I did). From me to you, in the spirit of love and goodwill. Just leave a comment here and I'll announce a winner next Thursday. In the meantime, I will try to put up pictures of what I'm giving away so you have some idea.  Hopefully, lucky you!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

In between posting....

...enjoy this link. I have read these meditations but not done the teleseminar, for obvious time constraint reasons.I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday....and if you are not in the states, I hope you enjoyed reading all the stories out there about turkeys. Although, our family ate one I hadn't heard of: turducken- a chicken inside of a duck inside of a turkey, no bones, all the layers seen when cut.
I'm a vegetarian, so I did not even try it!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

A Different Kind of Gratitude

“I have learned silence from the talkative, tolerance from the intolerant, and kindness from the unkind; yet strangely, I am ungrateful to these teachers”
Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet
With deep gratitude, I acknowledge my outer blessings....family, friends, house, etc. That is an easy way to feel truly blessed, and we should feel grateful for what we have.
With deep gratitude, I acknowledge those "other" teachers, for they make me who I am in unexpected ways.
Thank you life!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Handwork Bags

I am so excited. I did something organizational! I had to. Casting on a bunch of knitting projects is great, and starting knitting is even greater, and then having those projects kiss in the basket only leads to more kissing and codependent entanglement.
Yep, codependent! You see, those yarn balls had a history of addiction for sure. That's why they attract other addictive personalities to knit them together. Like me. And any knitting addict will justify their addiction, saying they have not lost their house or job because of it, and only had one teeny weeny little wreck while turning a heel in the car (while also driving). And if given the choice between a luscious Malabrigo and groceries, there is, admittedly, some waffling. One can always find enablers at the yarn store. Or Ravelry.
I'm not in denial. I'm powerless over my knitting addiction and I'm ok with that. I'm making amends to those who are neglected in the wake of my dreaming into the stitches. I'll plop a hat on their head when they least expect it and then they will forget all about the toast I promised  hours ago. Or the shopping trip I know I said I would do (Mall? Knit? Mall? Knit. No contest-sorry girls.But I will take my knitting to Starbucks with you and we can sit and chat)
And, to help get a handle on all this entanglement and denial, I made bags! yessiree, vintage pillowcases strung through with ribbon and packed with one knitting project each, its pattern and corresponding notions. Can't decide what to knit? Pick a bag and be surprised! Take it to go! No entanglements...we must now compartmentalize.
Alas, no pictures to see...camera/weather troubles...words will have to suffice today.
*oh, I forgot to tell you, Cadi is having a giveaway on her blog!!! You have to see these angels...*

Friday, November 20, 2009

Making Paper and an idea to add to your list

Today, we officially started our ornament making. It's a tradition of ours I started when Bri was 3 months old. We've done all kinds of ornaments through the years, ranging from the completely corny crafty to somewhat artistic to everything with glitter glued on (Love Shack ornamentation for your tree).
Last year, while waiting for my baby boy to be born, I decided to start an ornament project wherein I would blog a new ornament idea every day for a month. Phhhhtttt. What was I thinking? I did not finish, of course, in the blissful wake of baby #4. (There are a few ornament posts with that label if you dare to take a look.)
Today I am here to tell you that I STILL have ideas and I am going to blog about them without putting any type of time restraints on myself. So maybe that will help.
Two things we like: Making paper and carving stamps. A few years ago, we made a name stamp for my mom and printed paper with her name and gave her the stamp too. (there is your gift idea!)
So, I discovered that you can use the softcut printmaking blocks to make a mold for handmade paper, and therefore, make some pretty nice ornaments for your tree.
You will need:
-softcut lino blocks (the thick kind) in about a 3"x3" size, but you can do whatever size you want to
-a carving tool with the deepest cutter installed
-cotton linters for paper molding (you can also recycle watercolor paper)
-a blender
-glitter, seeds, herbs, etc.
-small scrap of screen, a doily, or netting
-small, but very thick towels
 (shred by hand your linters or your watercolor paper ahead of time and have them soaking in lots of water for a day or two before beginning)

-First, draw your design on your block. Carve into it, keeping in mind that you want to go deep without going through to the other side, and try to make your design nice and concave. The simpler your design the better. (Details get lost anyway and that gets you off the hook for being fussy). Clear the design of excess carving material.

-Next, put about a half cup of paper pulp in the blender with lots of water. Blend until it is smoother, then stir in glitter, seeds, or herbs (we dispensed with the gentle stirring and poured in the glitter). Take a nice big piece in your hand and place that lump in your mold. Remove any excess from the sides of your design. Make sure your lump is big enough to create a nice, juicy, watery mound.

-Take your screen material and place it on top of the mound. Place the towel on top of that and press straight down. Blot with your fingertips and really work the paper down into the mold.

-Bend the mold slightly to release the paper. Set your cast paper on a dry towel or a cookie rack to dry.
When it is dry, glue a ribbon to the back for hanging. I have also glued them to cards for Christmas cards.
Explore making paper. There are a TON of sites online and even a flickr set. There are even more books at the library.


This really is a simple, fairly quick process, and highly satisfying. I bought the blocks at our local Artist Craftsman store, and I have also seen them at locally owned art supply stores, which is where I bought my other supplies. If you want to explore printmaking on its own, the same thing as for papermaking: library and online. You can learn a lot just by browsing the art supply store. I found this site inspiring.
I hope you get to try this. Serena helped me today with the heart and the star...we made lots more and she wants to keep going. We need more stamping blocks and so will go get some tomorrow.
Please email or comment if you need more details. I'm trying to get some practice at writing instructions, and strive to balance inspiration with practicality.
And, after our weekend papermolding soiree, I will post some pictures. Pray for sun. People like me need it!

How the Boys Are Doing

I am a spinner. I am also a farmer at heart. Here in the city, sheep are out of the question. Well not technically because apparently you can have one large(r) livestock in your yard. And there are miniature breeds of sheep. Hmmmmm....I digress!
Honestly, I can't keep up with the bees and the dog and the cats, much less the kids that run through my yard. So it was only natural that two years ago, I would add to my list of creatures to keep up, I mean LOVE. The more, the merrier: enter our angora bucks, Buckwheat and Buckwhite. They have become our "therapy bunnies" (in the words of my friend). It's true, they nestle into your lap when you brush them. They are gentle and although they sometimes nip, they are never vicious and a good bunny brushing will calm you right down.
Now, the bunnies have been a source of endless drama this year. Their cage was not up to par, and I made the mistake of making the bunnies our dog's "job". It was her job to go fetch them when they escaped the cage, oh, every other day; this fact usually being ascertained with a baby in my arms, on my way to being late for work.
I soon discovered the fact that our dog, out of boredom, was creating work for herself by pushing her nose through the rabbit cage and letting them out. Several times I was seen running around the neighborhood, hunting rabbits with a look of sheer desperation on my face, and not wearing anything I'd be seen in public wearing, baby crying because I'd dropped him to go chase rabbits, Serena wanting breakfast.
Sometimes the rabbits would be gone a couple of days until we found them. I could never sleep with those rabbits loose. My first thought at 2 a.m was always, "Where are those rabbits?" Rabbits taunted me by running across my dreams. I could never catch them.

Needless to say, I had to purchase a new cage. Here they are in their new house. They have not escaped once. I can't blame them for wanting to leave. In this, a human baby year, I have not been a very good bunny mommy. But I'm coming out of the fog and brushing again.

And looking forward to some angora spinning.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Davis Report

What do you have a blog for if not to show how incredibly cute your children are and to proclaim your undying love and admiration for these little teachers? I am no different and so today I want to show off Davis. I have needed the perspective of years into romantic relationships to appreciate the love a mother feels for a child. There is, absolutely, nothing like it. I have been deeply in love with this child for almost a whole year! (I am in love with my older children, of course, but there is something special about baby love that needs to be savored.)
So, here he is in all his baby glory:

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Knitting Needle Fun

First of all, I must say, my pictures are fuzzy. I am sorry about that. It kinda feels like I am apologizing for my dirty house. Hopefully, it will encourage those of you in the blog world to go make some gorgeous photographs. And I will earn my reputation for pictures that suck. But hey, it encourages imagination, right? And you can see how I've broken all the rules and learn how NOT to take pictures. But, for whatever reason, I feel compelled to show you how to do something, and in order to do that, I have to work with the equipment and lighting that I have (meaning, cheap camera at night!) Don't let that stop you from liking my blog or trying my project :)
You need: at least 1/4" diameter birch dowels, cut in your desired needle length (10-14")(these make size 10 knittng needles...the ones I demonstrate are bigger and I think make size 17.)
Drill with small bit
Wool yarn (leftover sock yarn is perfect for this project)
Wool for needle-felting
fine felting needles and all your needle felting supplies

 Drill small-ish holes in the tops of dowel rods. These are cherry dowels, purchased at Woodcraft.  Make sure the holes are big enough for a large sewing needle to go through. Thread your needle with your yarn and pull it through; remove the needle. Please forgive my picture but the second picture down shows the needle and the yarn threaded through the dowel.

Now begin wrapping the yarn around the tops of the needle. Make sure to go up and around, and turn the needle to create a smooth, round ball. This is the top of the needle so far:

Once you have a nice yarn ball, you can stop here and sew the tail into the rest of the yarn ball. Yarn ball knitting needle tops are very cute and you wouldn't even have to go on to felt them. If you do decide to stop here, grab some needle and matching thread and really stitch your yarn ball, keeping your stitches on the inside and as inconspicuous as possible.
Or, you can get your wool and start to wrap the yarn ball with a base color of wool. Then start poking the wool in with the knitting needle, making sure you are working around the dowel and turning your work as you go.

I am not poking the dowel rod here, but rather am poking the sides, straight down.

Here is a first image that came out. The fuzziness of the picture evokes a serene watercolor, right? Reminiscent of Renoir for sure. (ha!) But alas, the creative process reared her lovely head and was not satisfied with this flower. She had other things to explore.


At last, my finished product.  The possibilities are endless of course, and you can felt little birds, flowers, trees, sheep, doodle with wool, etc. . I'm going to try sewing on beads, buttons, ribbons, wrapping silk fabric strips, folksy embroidery....there you have it! Soft sculture tops for knitting needles. (please give me credit and link back here if you decide to make these and show and tell. )
*I forgot to say this assumes the shaft of the knitting needle is already finished....the tips sanded, etc.You can use beeswax to polish them, especially nice with birch since it burnishes itself.*


Monday, November 16, 2009

Join the Dance

I just spend the weekend hooping. I know it sounds funny, like "I just spent the weekend playing bocce". But it was FUN. The teacher is trying to add elements of spirituality and calls it the hoop path.
For someone like me, who was, literally, always the last or next-to-last picked for teams in middle school, the dancing aspect was intimidating. I have trouble with any somatic memory, i.e. remembering sequences of movements...identifying and visualizing them in my body is hard. .I was never "in my body". I started running when I was 35, and did some yoga, and started to discover my body. It is so important to move. I have a heavy heart when I think of all the children in schools today who sit all day, (MY children), and are being deprived of bodily learning, who endure this cruel and unusual treatment of their young bodies. I had a more recess-friendly schooling, and still I suffer from all that sitting.
In this hoop workshop, the leader talked about being authentic and real and stripping away pretenses. Wow. I needed this message. I need to clear the BS. I need to move my body in ways that feel healthy and free. And so I am! I can hoop with my kids around...they like it. They hoop too. The learning is fast and while it helps to be a dancer, you don't HAVE to be. You simply have to move.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

I really do make stuff

I just realized that I hardly ever post stuff I make! Part of that is my lack of photographic talent, and part of it is that I enjoy thinking and writing about the creative process, which to me, is life, and living in the creative process is what makes one an artist, not necessarily producing things.
But I am still plugging away. As evidenced by my Ravelry queue and the number of projects I've cast on, I have been busy. And I dyed 200 yards of silk for gala decorations and for the creation of a water altar as part of our local Festival of Faiths. For my parent-child classes, we learned wet-felting and made lanterns for Martinmas. I am still recording my CD and have so far to go on that project, and enough excitement to see it through. I am loving the music and grateful for the talented musicians contributing to the songs. I have an invitational art show I'll be at in December, held here.
So, yes, I am nurturing the "artist" part. The "mom" part is going to be renewed this weekend at a hooping workshop.Without kids!
I am inspired by this.
And in my turning inward, I am still asking lots of why questions....why blog, why worry, why say stuff I say, why Waldorf, why am I in these moments, why am I compelled to make stuff.....why?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Inward Turn

Women live in seasons.  Women have a bodily gift that allows them to die and be reborn, every month. We inherently experience the life/death/life cycle on a deep level. This time of year is, of course, the turning in on oneself, the experience of the death part of that cycle.
For years I knew this in my head, but had not experienced it. Now I experience it with a capital E. I am dissatisfied, anxious, labile. The turn inward is supposed to help me find my inner light. If you don't dig deep enough, you won't be in the dark long enough to truly find your light. I have never allowed myself to stay with the dark like I have this year.
The dark is warm, deep, all-encompassing, safe. The dark is full of shadows and unknown. The dark is all those things I have feared in myself, all the things I must now face. I must face the times I have justified my right to speak in haste or with hurt, I must face my fears and deep, deep insecurity, I must become vulnerable and childlike.That silly, churlish girl I sometimes am, must rest awhile. Only then can I face the pain of being, the pain of forgiveness. It hurts to illumine one's misguided humanity.
I must ache like the bulb in the ground who is hardened and softened by winter cold's whims, who is knocked around and still has the potential to blossom.
When wandering around the inner darkness, and being illumined only intermittently, there is a new discovery. There are springs welling up...of ideas, of strong resolve, of hopeful joy, of intense willingness to set to work, to make something of this "land". There is a wellspring of creativity.
Do you see it? I notice it in people around me...in their complaints, their strivings, their successes, their ideas. There is a we out there...we affect each other...we have each other....we turn together.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Christmastime is here

Well, not really. But seasonal music was found on the piano. Boxes were found in the basement. I find myself signing up for exchanges this year. I'm glad I've started some projects and we can plan ahead to have a proper advent this year. I think we are definitely going to record a Christmas CD again, although when will be the key since one of my strongest voices (Brianna, who is blossoming in college as we speak) is not a daily part of the household. When will we rehearse? Gad...
Just a short blog note...the holidays will be in full swing soon. I am taking to heart my own injunction to be a hero of sanctuary and hoping to create some healing, good memories, and hope this year.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Blog Love

Cadi, a dear friend who used to pass me in the halls of the Waldorf School of Louisville, and would often be my buddy when I desperately needed it, is a fellow Waldorf teacher and blogger, just way across the next state. She has gifted me with an award (drum roll please):

I am always surprised and honored when people read my blog, but then, when they say nice things about it, that's chocolate buttercream frosting.
So now, I get to pass this along to other bloggers I love. There are so many, and my theme is going to be friends old and new. Take the award as a token of my admiration. Of course, I'd love to give it back to Cadi too!
Here goes:
Kelli , who has inspired me with her gentle yet passionate writing about life in the mountains, and helps me reconnect with my upbringing. Despite the fact that she says she is impatient, I find her writing to be evident of an ability to slow down and effectively distill the barrage of words that comes when one writes. And, when I was a bit shy-er about blogging, she also gifted me with a blog award. I'm feeling "strong" enough to post it now:

Sara, a newly found friend who is living out my dream! She gives me hope that it can be done. And I can take farm life...I'm a Pragmatist.
Carle', yet another kindred living out my farm dream. Who can resists pictures of plant dyes, knitting, bees, and sheep?
Breedermama, who is another born writer. I pass her in the parking lot at school, and have the priveledge of teaching her son.
Under the Big Blue Sky, a new friend I am enjoying getting to know. Reading her blog feels familiar and cozy.
My Bohemia, someone I admire from afar and who is a yogi and a mom and a teacher.
Spiral Pathways, another yogi-maker-mom who I can't seem to leave comments for on her blog, but am sending out the good vibes for...and the award!
Katie, who is fun to read and I would love to keep up with her speed in knitting!
New jewels of blogs I have discovered are:  Gardenmama (you should check out her giveaway! Right now!) Sarah, (beautiful, inspiring writing) Holistic Mum (she is unafraid to provoke thought.) Heirloom Seasons, Anthromama, Luna, 5orangepotatoes, and BeeHouse Hives.


I feel I am still finding my "tribe" on this blogging path, but it feels good to know that kindred spirits abound and I look forward to learning with and about this community. There are oh so many more on my blogroll. It's hard to keep that list short!
 Thank you Cadi!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The World is Good

Today I was thinking about the art of presenting children with the message "the world is good." We live in a world that is indeed full of goodness and pleasure and love, but there is a flip side we have to deal with as well. There is also a lot of fear in the world, and "bad" things happen. We all have "bad" parenting days as well. Many of us are on "diets" from the news and from media to help us keep a positive spin on life.
What got me thinking about this was an issue in the parent-child class I teach. One of the adults was concerned about the swine flu shot and we started discussing it around the snack table. I flowed with this in part to see what might happen, in part to keep the morning "real", and in part to observe what the children would do. They all left the table! Wise children...they know what is good for them.
How do we present "the world is good" to our children when we ourselves struggle with the goodness of the world?
One of the ideas that came to me is to go back to the idea of rhythm. Rhythm is the art of creating sanctuary in your day. Bear with me as I overuse a metaphor, but it is holding church in your home. Meal times can be a haven for a child, as can bedtimes and story times. Anywhere we can create a little ritual and a quiet, sacred space for a child to feel safe is a sanctuary. This requires that we, as adults, put aside our fears and concerns about the world...about whether we are eating organic enough, whether our husband will find a job, whether we can avoid anger, whether or not we can fix our car. We cannot escape our concerns, and we need each other to help navigate this path.
 And that leads me to my final insight:
The art of parenting (or relationship in general) is to engage daily in heroic acts of self-regulation.
It is often hard to put aside our feelings and needs in the moment, and a balancing act to choose what we believe can be harmful conversational influences and what are nurturing ways of speaking about the world around our children. Moderation is a nice goal.
May we, as the Heroes of Sanctuary, find comfort in the knowledge of the goodness of the world.
(I wrote this as an email for my parent-child list. I edited it and thought I'd share it here.Please accept my appreciation if you are on that list and reading this twice!)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Blustering

Things have been blustery around here. While the wind intermittently drives the leaves on their annual march around town, my life musters its own blustery marches. Like the mastitis that marched me right into bed Thursday night with fever, shaking, sore body, the whole thing. I took Friday off of school and felt better by afternoon. Or the blustery emotions of a 6-year-old who is constant in her demands and really marching against the boundaries I've set. I must be a chain link fence that the wind can pass through and not a wooden one....
and then there is the ever-lovely marital tension that has blustered through and I just don't want to get too far into that. Anyone who is or has been in a serious relationship knows that people move in and out of seasons with each other like everything else. The phlegmatic part of me hates conflict but the other parts of me don't hate it enough to become addicted to harmony. Sometimes pain is required to stretch and grow. What a bummer. I will keep the pictures of death in my heart...the falling leaves, the newly wind-shorn trees, the dull sky....these form the canvas for the next picture....a new blessed landscape that works better for the people in this one.

But, enough about all that. I did dress up as Frida and got some appreciative remarks. People stopped me to take my picture! I was delighted to see so many Frida fans. Except one person asked me if I was Mother Earth. Sure, why not.
I checked my blog today and was delighted that yet another of my friends has graced me with a blog award. These are so very nice and such a good way to spread the blog love. I am going to properly write about that this week. Thanks, Cadi!
So here is a picture of me as Frida. I must say, I had a great time. Serena was a little elephant. She has always been a little shy about trick or treating, which is just fine with me. Davis didn't go trick or treating but he came out partying with us later. But not too late...we all stayed up past our bedtimes. Maddie did the teenager thing and stayed at a friend's house (whose mom is an amazing artist...such eye candy at their house!)
We went trick or treating on this street that is decorated to the hilt. It's almost a Halloween museum and the neighbors collaborate and it's very creative and the news comes and camps out there all night. One of our friends that lives on the street counted 3000 trick or treaters at his house.
Do any of you have streets like that or are we just into Halloween here?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Happy Halloween


I finally decided who I want to be on Halloween...another master of disguise: Frida Kahlo. I am in love with her and her wild, feminine passion.  I know it is trite to love Frida, but I have this fabulous traditional Mexican dancing dress a friend brought me from Mexico last year. Add a unibrow and hand earrings (like the ones Picasso gave to Frida) and I'm in costume without much work. Wonder if Chance wants to be my Diego?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Simple, Green, Frugal Co-op: Wanted: Simple, Green and Frugal Christmas Gift Ideas

Simple, Green, Frugal Co-op: Wanted: Simple, Green and Frugal Christmas Gift Ideas

Do Not Read This if you are in my family (or, an idea list)

I had some ideas for a handmade, homemade Christmas to share. Many of them are collaborations between parents and children, or things you can do as a whole family. I am uncertain if we will be able to get to them all but we will try!
Here goes:
1. Painted fabric can be made into wallhangings, pillows, wall quilts, ornaments, journal covers....the list is only limited by your imagination. Ask your kids what they think!
2. Felted slippers using my technique for the treasure bag, only covering an appropriately-sized piece of foam and covering the whole thing and cutting a different hole. More about this in a week or so. A visit to a local sheep farm is a lovely way to source your wool. Check out localharvest.org if you can't find local sheep.
3. A hand-drawn book of blessings and verses for mealtimes. Again, the possibilities are endless. They can include hand-written blessings, children's drawings or paintings, handmade paper covers, etc.
4. Serena loves to cut fabric. All those bits of fabric can be arranged, mosaic-style, on another piece of fabric and then attached using Stitch-Witchery (the iron-on product used to fuse fabric to fabric). This piece of fabric is then keepsake children's art for the wall. Add some stitching from all family members for a family project.
5. I highly recommend making a CD. If you have a friend who can play guitar or piano, can do that yourself, and can learn a few Christmas songs as a family (or non-Christmas songs!) then you have the makings for a CD. What a treasure it is for friends and family to hear the sounds of singing children. Renting a studio can cost about $100-$150. Rent the studio with the recording engineer and make a memory. Come away with 10-15 CDs you can give as gifts. Have too much fun in the process. Locally, try Louisville Recording Arts.
6. Stuff from sheets. I found a knitting pattern for a bathmat using torn sheet strips, and I'm also going to sew pajama bottoms using the bag of sheets I've saved.
7. When a local fabric store closed I found a $5 bolt of very, very stiff interfacing. I have sewn journals and bowls after fusing it to fabric, and also a baby bunting bed. Blank journals are incredibly easy and quick to stitch up.
8. I usually make hand and lip balm too. Google recipes and get your supplies from Majestic Mountain Sage. I do try to either use my own beeswax or source wax from local beekeepers.
More ideas? Simple Green frugal Co-op is doing a list.
Whew, that was a lot...I apparently have stuff to do now! Holiday Blessings!

In Church

Lately I have been finding myself in church.
I have attended the Church of the Morning Run, where colored leaves and blue sky and cold breath sing songs of gratitude.
I have attended the Church of Knitting Peacefully after the children are asleep, where the rare quiet sings a hymn of goodness and mercy.
I have been to the Church of Holding a Sick Child, where smelling her head and touching her forehead to my lips is a prayer of humility and watchful grace.
I have been to the Church of Baby Laughter, where there are no walls and there is no time and fervent hymns for the joy of being are long sung.
I have been to the Church of Washing Dishes, where the sermon is about forgiveness and seeing beauty in the struggle.
There is also the Church of Relationship Tension, where sometimes I feel so lost that the only thing to do is throw up my hands up in surrender.
The Church of My Own Mistakes is a place I can only frequent on my knees and am reminded that only time will give the cleansing and healing I desire.
There is so much love around me, if I only let myself wander to the church steps on hearing the hymns of praise. They hang like lanterns in this newly-chilled air.
My life flows on, in endless song.....

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Halloween and Art

When I was in high school, my grandmother bought a subscription to Art News for me. She was one of my "suns", as described in "Women Who Run With the Wolves". She bought me the really nice pastels, and paper to go with it. She fed me as an artist, and somewhere along the line I became so shy, so wounded around my creativity that I would not even regale myself with the term "artist."
Gosh, that train of thought went into an intense place, so quickly! After a long process of growth, I do call myself an artist now, and everyone else is an artist too. We can nurture each other.
At any rate, Art News is where I first heard about Cindy Sherman. She touches a deep desire in me to dress up and take pictures of myself. My teenagers do not know who she is but they naturally do this....they are always modeling and posing for the camera....sometimes with props. Since Halloween is right around the corner, I thought it would be fun to discover some women artists together. I have a few in mind. Let the dressing up begin.
So, just follow this link and get lost awhile. Or go ahead and Google, or go to cindysherman.com.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Blog announcement

I have created another blog out of several impulses: first, a wish and desire to connect with other teachers of handwork, and to provide a resource for those wishing to implement handwork into their home or public school. It will be composed entirely of work that is not my own! Second, I wish to deepen my own work as a handwork teacher. When I taught music, I found there is an organization and conference for music teachers in a Waldorf school. The one conference I attended was so incredibly helpful and the email list of the organization (ANAWME) such a treasure trove that I do not know how I would have taught without it. My teaching would certainly not have been as rich! I do not believe there is one for foreign language teachers, and certainly not for handwork teachers. So, it is my attempt to connect. Not to reinvent the wheel, for there are several handwork blogs out there, but I just wanted one a little more formal. I have questions and I also have 8 years' experience as a trained Waldorf handwork teacher. So I have knowledge to pass on and many things to learn and simply want to bring the conversation to life.
Please help me spread the word...the blog is found here.
Thanks so much!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Parenting Resources

I just love it when passions come together in one place, where language colludes and ideas marry. Waldorf, therapy, parenting, spirituality...all these come together in one book: Parenting With Spirit. I have been reading this book and find it incredibly succinct, accessible, and one of the few Waldorf books to actually address the issue of feelings...not necessarily the child's feelings....but how parents manage their own feelings. I can't stop talking about it and have been using it with my parent-child classes. It got me thinking about parenting books that I can't live without for early childhood. So far, what I recommend is Heaven on Earth and You Are Your Child's First Teacher. For living through the seasons, and handwork projects that many, many other books have merely imitated, you can't beat The Children's Year and All Year Round. If you have just those 5 books for a base, you will be pretty set.
Other books I have found helpful are the Daniel Goleman books (Social Intelligence, etc.) Parenting From the Inside Out, Chores Without Wars, Sally Goddard Blythe's books. I also like to check out what is considered mainstream or popular within the AP community just so I can gain perspective and have options.
What parenting books do you find yourself recommending without being asked? What books help you feel nurtured as a parent?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Healthy Hassling

Serena is 6. Among many things no one tells you when you become a parent, 6 is one of those things. 6 is hard. In Waldorf circles, it is even sometimes referred to as the "6 year change", much like the "9 year change." For us, we have noticed all the developmental things, like an increased interest in letters, body parts of both sexes, antipathy toward things previously enjoyed, and some movement milestones met. Others, like riding a bike, we are still working on. One thing I have noticed in myself is that I feel like the mother I was when the children were 18 months...I say "no" a lot. But the "no" does not come from a place of physically redirecting a toddler's insatiable, and sometimes unsafe, curiosity. It comes from a place of constantly re-iterating my stance on certain things.
Like food, for example. She will ask if she can have a dessert for breakfast, or lunch, or dinner. Or "health food cheetos" or any other thing I don't want her growing body to have. I will say no. She will start to try to negotiate with me. I sometimes become irritated.
I finally stepped back and asked why I was saying "no" so many times, and also why I was becoming so irritated.
There is this "old" book I have from the 90's called, "Self Esteem, a Family Affair". The book talks about "healthy hassling". Healthy hassling is keeping one step ahead of children, and taking their "no's" with a light heart, and is more for teenagers than 6-year-olds. I also read "Outliers" and in this book the author talked about different negotiation skills among socioeconomic levels. Both books inspired me to think of "healthy negotiation." Am I trying to teach my child that what I say goes, no matter what? Or do I want her to be able to negotiate mindfully to get her needs and wishes met? Of course, I want to teach her how to negotiate. And, I want her to respect my authority. I am not sure how my family of origin would handle negotiating....I think they were more of the "what I say, goes!" flavor. And, as a parent, because you hold the boundaries, some things are just not negotiable. But some things are, and at age 6, I think she is ready to be able to learn how to negotiate in a way that is pleasurable for both of us. Whining is not a pleasurable way to negotiate. But asking kindly is. Screaming is not a way to protest. But using words is. The list of what is negotiable and what is non-negotiable is being developed on the fly!
I have been telling her a story about a mother and child who meet a bear in the woods. The bear roars a lot. Together, they find out why the bear roars (his paw is hurt) and they help the bear to calm down and be tame enough to walk past in the woods without fear of being roared at.
That is where I am in my parenting journey today.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

I did it. I reneged.

The pressure was immense. Once I was out of my post-art-fair funk, I ventured to my basement. Lord help us all. There were the skeins of yarn bought 6 years ago to make a sweater for Chance. One can't just have that kind of yarn laying around. Something MUST be done. And then there were the sheets. Oh yes, a bag of old sheets waiting to make this, or to be made into pajamas for in-laws. And then the little pattern for Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls.And the red wool I bought years ago that needs to be made into a coat now before Serena grows and I don't have enough fabric.  And the shrug I am working on for Madeline that was supposed to be finished last year. And then I went to Ravelry and completely padded my queue. I just can't not make anything for Christmas. I know I said I wouldn't, but it's just too much fun and so what if I'm overwhelmed. I am just a delicate flower to be so easily overwhelmed but that doesn't mean I will wilt! That just won't do.
So now my constant companion (besides baby Davis) is going to be a knitting or sewing project from here until Christmas.

Farm lust


Every once in awhile, I become completely sentimental and want to connect all that I believe in...living off the earth, making a handmade life for my family, living in the rhythms of nature, caring for animals and growing my own food....I think it is the healthiest of lives for children.... We visited a farm this past weekend. They had a sweet farm store they were opening, and Chance got to do spot massage, and I got to set up my spinning wheel and also sell my wares. I didn't sell much, because there was a soapmaker there, a printing press that makes these incredible cards and Wendell Berry books, by setting the type by hand, and so many flower bulbs and produce. I was able to barter for all kinds of wonderful things. There were chickens, an old farmhouse, dogs, cats, greenhouses, barns, Jersey cows, and a donkey. You could not part Serena from that donkey. A girl and her donkey. Most of the time around here it is "a mom and her rabbits" or " a baby boy and his dog". We all connect to some creature around here.
Someday I will have a farm. And grow old enough to be called "the goat lady."

Monday, October 19, 2009

re: Repurposing



Yes, I know, The picture is not impressive. But, this is what I was writing about Thursday. My soon-to-be sister-in-law made these out of old t-shirts. She sewed two t-shirts together along the bottom, and then cut off the sleeves and sewed the armholes and necklines together. You would not believe this, but people actually stop me in Whole Foods and ask me where I got those bags, or remark about how clever they are. I can't go anywhere without those bags attracting attention. So, there is one cool repurposing idea. It got me thinking about how many t-shirts there are with pithy sayings that would make a fun bag. (My brother, who is 6'8" and no small fry, has a t-shirt that says "I beat anorexia, ask me how" I think the effect would be lost on a bag though.)
I was planning on posting this on Friday, but obviously "flaked out" (in 80's terms). Life and relationship strains and changing plans all got to me. Today I decided blogging was like putting on make-up to go to the grocery store. Life holds heavy things sometimes, too many woes coming at once can weigh you down. But you still have to engage in the world. You still have to get up in the morning and tackle the eternal list. Putting on a face and going out somehow helps diminish the load, if only temporarily. And you always see someone you know in the grocery, and if they start whining before you get to, then you realize it's not so bad for you and then you forget what you had to whine about. Ideally anyway.

So, let's hear it for wearing lipstick while blogging.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Whole Lotta Repurposin' Goin' On



First, you must know that my husband is a bodyworker, a Rolfer to be exact. He has extolled the virtues of moving your body and to that end, has brought plenty of props into our home. One of those most-used props is the exercise ball. We have several different sizes and several of them have "bitten the dust" and popped like a balloon.
Before I go on, you must also know that my husband and I met at a restaurant, while he was on a date and I was not. I knew the girl he was with, and we started talking, and Chance found out I taught voice lessons. He asked me if I could teach him to "throw" his voice, you know, ventriloquism. I just looked at him or laughed awkwardly, I don't remember. I think he eventually found out I taught singing.
Well, imagine my complete surprise when he brought a ball to me and said not to throw it away. We messies always marry someone neat who know how to throw stuff away.  But, imagine my lack of surprise when he brought a deflated ball to me and asked if I could make a pair of shoes with it. If he thinks I can "throw" my voice (all moms can, of course!) then surely I can make shoes out of anything. For two years I have contemplated what to do with my husband's suggestion and now I present to you....my new slippers!



The tops are an old wool blanket, and lined with organic flannel. The bottoms are...an exercise ball! The cut-up ball totally sewed like a dream on my sewing machine with a size 16 leather needle.They are not exactly finished but I couldn't wait to wear them. Exercise balls make perfect soles.

Tomorrow, another repurpose job that we LOVE by my future sister-in-law!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Signs of Chill

It is always interesting, the weather. I feel like I am channeling my inner wise old farmer and standing around, chewing tobacco, discussing myriad, seemingly meaningless details. Here at this turning of the year, Old Man Winter lurks in the back of my mind. What will he bring this year and what are the signs?
Like spiders. The webs outside this year have been plenty and spectacular. Nothing inspires awe in this knitter and weaver of things more than a web a spider has so patiently and lovingly devised. Has anyone else been spider-watching this year? The spiders in my house seem to have multiplied as well. And, oh, the mosquitoes! We were standing outside yesterday,  weather in the 50's, and the mosquitoes were acting like it was dusk in balmy July. Of course it is cold, almost cold enough to frost. Almost.
The Farmer's Almanac is forecasting a cold winter, but who knows? What signs have you seen and what do you think it means for our winter?

On another note, there was an article in the Leo about sweet potatoes and how they are high in iron. The article was written by someone from Foxhollow farm and was relating their iron content to Michaelmas and the steeling of your will. How incredibly lucky we are to have Foxhollow here....we can get biodynamic food anytime.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Running Women

I've been contemplating something I read in Women Who Run With the Wolves. I read this book about ten years ago and have come back to it over and over. It's to your psyche...your soul, what "Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom" is to your body. At any rate, the book was describing the not-beautiful. In my contemplation, I was able to access a place of gratitude for all the "not-beautiful" in my personal history, for every challenge ideally leads to deeper growth, or preparation for subsequent life experience, and hopeful appreciation for the truly beautiful. What a rich subject that is, as it involves themes of forgiveness, darkness, hope, painful growth....I just needed to read more, so I pulled out my copy of the book.
I could not, for the life of me, find where the "not-beautiful" was. But in poking around the book again, I found this quote: "You have to howl if you want to find your pack." Wow. It seems I've got some howling to do, and indeed have been howling here and there. This here blog is a howl. It got me thinking about my inner work. Lately, so many why questions have been coming. It's not the kind of irritated, inner-critic-flavored "why", but "why" with a searching, naive, childish, and even compassionate curiosity. "why am I married? why am I doing the work I am doing? why was I born this way?why do I do this, that, whatever....why why why??" It is an inner searching...for personal truth. It is a portal into deep work.
I read Women Who Run With the Wolves in my early 30's. Now that I am in my early 40's, I am going to re-read the whole book. It was so transformative to me then, and will help renew my commitment to doing deep inner work.
It's funny that when you are ready for something, truly ready, when you have made your peace with the not-beautiful and your true desires are nurtured, paths start to clear...people start to emerge...blessings come freer. I feel that for me, I am on the verge of this "clearing".

Sunday, October 11, 2009


Thanks to all who came out to the festival! I had a fabulous time. I saw so many friends, old and new. I caught up on good news and bad. Yet, when I think of all the things I enjoy most in this life...spinning, gorgeous fall days, people watching in the Highlands...I was blessed to have that all in one place on Saturday. As if that wasn't enough, I got an Award of Merit for my booth! And, I was in the paper! (well, online at least...with my spinning wheel!)
One of the most fun things was watching Davis give himself kisses in the mirror.
Now I'm pooped! It's time to make some things for myself, finish knitting projects...and order more yarn to dye.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Come to the Fair!

I will have a booth at the Belknap Neighborhood Festival this weekend. Stop by and see me!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

How to make someone fall madly in love with you

Make this:
roast 2-3 butternut squash for about 45 minutes, let cool, peel, scoop out the seeds, and puree with 2 or 3 of your favorite boullion cubes (I like Rapunzel) with water(or use proper vegetable stock...about a quart), one package of cream cheese, about 20 fresh sage leaves (but I like sage) and salt and pepper to taste. Pour into a pot, heat gently and serve in mugs. Heaven.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Somewhat new look

Well, I finally drew a header, as you can see. I like it! I think I am going to tinker with the drawing to make it more computer-friendly. It just doesn't come across on the screen like it does on paper....the colors are definitely muted in the scanning.
I'm having an incredibly creative weekend...what joy that is! We mostly stayed home except for a trip to the grocery. Tomorrow is Serena's 6th birthday party. She has requested a surprise party, so we are going to play along and "surprise" her, even though she knows about the party. We will wake up, make her carrot cake, ready the house, cook, and then for her party, we are playing cornhole, hula hooping, having a special birthday circle, and singing "We Are Three Wandering Travelers" at her request. Then we will share a seasonal meal.
I love that all of my children were born in the fall....the most wonderful time of the year, no matter what that Christmas song says :)

Friday, October 2, 2009

Mindful parenting

It seems this time of year gets so busy we lose our ability to breathe and create rhythm. I know I have certainly been waylaid by sick kids and lots of commitments.
Check this out.
And this.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Robbers

"Honey, there's been a string of burglaries in our neighborhood. Just down the street, burglars broke into a house when the occupants were there! Can you believe this?"
"They would never come to out house."
"What do you mean?"
"They would trip over stuff."
"I think that is the first time you have seen an advantage to my domestic challenges! I might just kiss you!"
Later on:
Davis on the bed, safely in the middle, me puttering in a drawer trying to find stuff to get dressed with. Davis creeping. Me not noticing. Suddenly...THUMP! I run to scoop him up. He is unharmed. Saved by a soft pillow of clutter by the bed.
Of all things Waldorf, keeping a simple, clean house is the biggest challenge for me. I would set up a beautiful nature table if we could then find it. The fact is, I work from home making stuff, so materials are everywhere. Right now I have 3 sick kids and am in hyper-making mode to prepare for an art fair. FlyLady just wouldn't cut it. Housecleaning just isn't on my daily list, although it's probably not as bad as I think.
But today, I announce with pride that my slovenly sanguine house ways have saved my child and saved the neighborhood.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Michaelmas

This will soon turn into another to-do list if I'm not careful. Right now it is just a current report of our life, and that is: 6 birthdays in 3 weeks...all immediate family. Happy Birthday to Madeline (9/18) and my beloved mother-in-law Jane (9/22). 3 down, 3 to go. I've been working as hard as I can on the art fair, navigating tension in relationships, pondering and reading about life in your 40's since I have GOT to come to terms with this spiritual stuff that is going on and what better time than Michaelmas? That is a post that is simmering away on the small burner. Not doing too well at making my sentences shorter and more coherent.
My big decision is, that after 17 years of making Christmas gifts for my kids, I am going to take a break and am not going to make anything. I will most likely renege because I most definitely do not want to buy things for Christmas. I am just thinking, that in getting ready for this art fair, making Christmas gifts is just not a sustainable venture for someone with a baby and a job and 4 kids. I think I could relax a bit more as well. That does not sound like such a big decision to some, but it feels like a load has been lifted for me.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

She's not that girl, Part Two

"Mom, will you teach me to fingerknit?"
*perk* I look up and peer at this child who was supposedly climbing a tree while I was in my knitting zone.
"You want to learn how to finger knit?"
"Yes."
"really?"
I am trying not to run and am containing my excitement as we pick out some fat rainbow yarn. I show her how to make a loop and demonstrate.
"This is your rabbit hole. This is your doggie. The doggie goes in the rabbit hole, looks around , and then asks his friend to come catch the rabbit."
She does it while I narrate. Make your rabbit hole. Your doggie (index finger) goes in, looks around (twists 2 times) and asks his friend to help (thumb goes into the loop, pad-to-pad with pointer) and they catch the rabbit (pointer and thumb open up, and swoop down to the working yarn to "catch" a rabbit and pull him back through the hole)
She gets it. We do it again and again and finally, she is finger knitting (finger crochet, to be accurate)
I settle back into my own knitting and dream of days when we will be casting on, knitting together, sewing together, talking through the years. She can make her own clothes. I can teach her! She wants to learn. My heart soared with the possibility.
Child of my spirit!

Monday, September 14, 2009

She's not that girl

Me, five years old. Maybe four. The whining reaches a fever pitch. My mom reaches for her scissors and says this is the day it is all getting cut off. No more heat rashes on my neck, no more tangles, but also no more thick, long hair and now I look like a boy. A very well-styled boy, but this indignity makes me cry.
Later, as a teenager, she talks me into coloring my hair. I tried to be blonde. And permed. It was the 80's after all. Eventually, I became a lady of flowing, long, straight hair. No style. I think how this must not be exactly what my mom imagined. She went to beauty school to create beauty, and here was this daughter who insisted on having a style-less style. Or insisted on having anything other than what her mother wanted for her....a , messy room, the wrong friends, a messy house, the wrong boyfriend.
I wonder sometimes when women long for daughters, what they are thinking. I know when I longed for daughters, and picked out their names in high school, and wrote out numbers by letters to see if it spelled the name of the man I would marry, and thought we would go shopping together and I would dress her up and we would be best friends.
How un-Pragmatic of me. My first daughter was the one I pinned all these expectations on. But she wouldn't nurse well...it took us 3 months to get on solid ground. We struggled. We struggled later, too, and she has turned out alright. I really do like her, especially when she asks me to sing with her. My second daughter, the child of my dreams, has her own ideas about everything. We don't agree (gasp! that was not part of the plan!). But to my surprise, I like it. She is wonderful and has great ideas at almost-15. They have been daughters who have largely tolerated my whims to teach them knitting or sewing or other things they really weren't interested in, or to buy them gifts that reflected my wishes for them rather than their wishes for themselves.
Then along comes Serena, and the issue I was really not expecting. When my older two were small, I happily hummed and sewed and made them lots of beautiful clothes....I smocked and embroidered and studied French hand sewing. They happily wore anything I made. So, I naively believed that Serena would be the same way. As it turned out, this was not so. Anything I made her, she said she liked, and proceeded to never wear it. She had her own sense of style that involved anything with a character or word or whatever she wasn't supposed to wear at school. Smocked dress? I'm not wearing that mom. I will make you cajole, cradle, cunningly coerce me into wearing it. Dress that mom let me pick out the fabric and went to hours of trouble making? (pink puppies, you all! How much cuter can you get?) Not wearing. Hand me my Dora shirt.
Oh, the agony, the despair....do you remember that song from Hee-Haw? To have a mom who knits and sews and makes and then have those efforts be spurned! Argh! (And we won't even talk food. If it doesn't look much like a cheddar bunny, it will probably get a thumbs down. that doesn't stop me from trying and trying to feed her good food.)
I realized she is the child of my spirit. She is the girl who will wear her hair long, although she knows her mom will cut it any way she wants.
Except, maybe a little shorter.

I am already making weekend plans. We are going to a fiber festival on Sunday. People are harvesting food and fiber this time of year. I'm going to try to find a market to spin at this weekend!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Eighteen




To Lexington we go, to celebrate a beautiful young woman. She is the child of my heart, who I named in high school when she was just a dream, a lovely thought, a breath of air on an angel's wing.
So much to say, so many feelings, and they will probably be hidden behind smiles and wishes. Eighteen. What was that like? Whole worlds, epochs, many lives lie ahead.
Happy Birthday, Brianna. Words can never, with any accuracy, tell you how much I love you and how deeply proud I am of the person you are.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Blech

I posted yesterday and took it down. I am afraid if I start posting, it will turn into the Depression Chronicles, which is fine, but that could be another blog altogether and I don't want to use this blog for healing that. So, just like in kindergarten, I should take a little rest and have my quiet time to go inward and wrestle those dragons so I can come forth with my inner light shining for the winter days ahead. Yes, it takes months to do that.
But I will tell you what we did this weekend. I ran a 5K, we went to World Hoop Day (hey, today is World Hoop Day! Yippee!!!) and tried out some of our hooping skills, The Big College Girl came home for the weekend (oh, my heart aches for her and celebrates for her too), and we also went apple picking. Sunday I just laid on the couch in a catatonic state trying to recover from Saturday. Maybe later today I can upload some pictures.
Life is getting busier for sure. I am trying to get ready for an art fair, working with some artists to come up with a logo for my yarn business(although I hesitate to call it a business on account of the working-from-home myth I have bought into), and drawing a header/logo for my blog.
By the way, I am loving teaching handwork this year. Is the 8th year of teaching supposed to be a golden year or something? It just feels good.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Blogging about blogging

So there I am, sitting at a red light, between classes at school, late at night when I'm drifting in a book, and I'm thinking. I'm totally roped in. "What will my next post be?" "I wonder if anyone would comment on _____-" "Why the heck do I blog anyway?"
Why exactly DO I blog? Why do I make stuff? It isn't exactly cheaper to make it yourself, as anyone who has had to buy 12 skeins of yarn to make a sweater will testify. Or try to buy 4 yards of fabric...which has its own set of designer name brands. Why do I make stuff and blog about it?
It isn't like I'm not busy. I don't have time for most of the things I try to do. In fact, when blogs first came out, I snubbed them. I thought, "I will stay out of the next wave of what's in style and wait until it goes out of vogue" But then all these cool blogs started popping up, and I started learning stuff, and saying to myself, "why are these people taking pictures of their meals and their sewing and their knitting? What's the big deal...people have been doing this stuff for years....haven't they ever seen a housewife?" (you can tell what kind of blogs I hung out around)
It bothered me so much I finally figured out I was reacting to something....recognizing that something in the blogging community was resonating in me. So, what could I do but start blogging? I started a blog, then deleted it. I started another blog and deleted that too. I was writing to try to please someone, anyone, to have some affirmation for who I am. I was a 5-year-old bringing her finger paintings to Grandma for praise but Grandma didn't really give a hoot about my pithy attempts. I was a singer singing other people's songs. Same songs, different person, but not singing MY songs.Then I started this blog in an attempt to shut out all those other voices. You know, the ones that start their sentences with "You really should" and "why aren't you more like so-and-so?" or "That sure was stupid" " your house isn't that clean." I wanted to connect with what is genuine in me.
I have a long way to go. And that 5-year-old girl me is still there, but so is wise, kind, mother me, and she is taking care of that aching 5-year-old. And blogging has brought me gifts...it helps me realize I am an artist, helps me stay on a creative path, helps me explore a new art form. Some days I might do something just so I can blog about it (hey, I'll admit that! And I see it as positive motivation) Blogging is truly a marriage of words and images. It is writing, but a different kind of writing. And I can hopefully find my voice and sing what is real in me.
***updated thoughts***
The other part of blogging that simultaneously appeals to me and repels me is the sharing/show-and-tell/showing off part. But I can totally relate. No one in my house could appreciate my art or knitting conquests like someone else who is there in the trenches, enjoying the same mind trip I am. My husband likes my creativity, but I think he sees it as my excuse to have a messy house when the kid excuse has worn thin. So with blogging, someone else could surely recognize how cool your creativity is, and you can do the same for them :) I know that sounds obvious, but I do admire humility in people, so the rampant show-and-tell initially seemed odd to me. But I'm over that now and want to share. Such potential there exists for blogging. And, as mt husband says, "It takes courage to put yourself out there." It truly does.