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, 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 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 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


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?