Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!
may you blossom
and find delight

Friday, December 2, 2011

It's Advent Time!

Every year, I wonder what exactly to put  in our Advent calendar. There have been the normal candies, small  toys, stones, and once I found a tiny colored pencil set that actually fit inside the boxes.
This year, I am especially engaged. Having two children in the house who are of age enough to enjoy it is a tremendous motivation. The older girls? They will receive their advent gifts in the mail.
Here is my list of ideas:
-seeds
-pine cones
-walnut babies*
-small treasure pouches
-tickets to the Nutcracker
-small handmade animals or felt dolls*
-clues to search for objects that won't fit into the advent box
-candies
-recipes (I want to make pasta with them to give as gifts)
-buttons and small sewing kit
-wooden beads and string
-yarn balls and felt balls
-paper stars (here are good instructions, also this book)
-paper trees
-small note cards
-beeswax
-homemade quilted and painted ornaments*
-love letter
The starred items are things I hope to show you in the coming days. I should not put Walnut Babies on that list. I really can't give those to my kids because they know I make them! But I can show YOU :)
What goes in your Advent Calendar?

Monday, November 28, 2011

old news

Well, I've been away from here for awhile. I wish I could say it was because I was taking a spiritual respite, centering myself, becoming more aware and present, but that is not why. The truth is, I have been swept up in the life of a working mother, which feels fuller and busier than I would like most days. All those metaphors of juggling, irons in the fire, burning the candle at both ends, are incredibly apt.I imagined at various points in time that I would do a catching-up post, but that time was so long ago that the only thing to do now is forge ahead.
So perhaps it is time for me to come back to this space, not to add to my already-full plate, but to feel a sense of being present and grounded. I listened to this podcast awhile back and was really motivated to think in terms of what I cultivate in myself. Even in the craziness of my days, I can cultivate a sense of calm and joy, rather than be saddled with overwhelm and overstimulation and unanswered emails and unreturned phone calls and staying one step behind all the time. Maybe blogging again can help me focus on what I want to cultivate. No pressure, right? I feel rusty. I do want to connect with all the people who have been buying my yarn, who come to me through local galleries,or who otherwise offer their generous support of my art. It means so much to me. thank you!
In other news, BIG news, my son is on the cover of the current issue of Living Crafts. Can I just jump up and down and squeal for joy? Yes, my son, my dragon, my photograph. Go over there and have a peek.

And now, most evenings will find me taking a few minutes to dust off my piano-playing and reunite with beloved holiday songs. Of course, the children will join in and hopefully when the older girls are home we can work up some harmonies. Nothing enlivens a space, a mood, or a day more than real music...the fly-by-the-seat of your pants, amateur variety. Where you ignore the music and arpeggiate your way through.  Then there are the lists, made with love and anticipation of  making and giving. At school, we prepare for Santa Lucia, St.Nicholas Day, and our Winter spiral.  I love this time of year!

Friday, September 23, 2011

What's On Your Plate? (protecting childhood-part 1)

This week I was given the opportunity to present an educational evening on the topic of "Protecting Childhood". What a rich and deep topic this can be! I only had an hour, so I could touch on some themes I see that can help parents give their children a healthy childhood.
We began with a vocal improvisation exercise I received from my music conference with Par Albohm this past summer. Two people stood back to back, eyes closed, in the middle of the room. The rest of us circled around them, singing whatever vowel on whatever pitch we wanted to. When the couple in the middle decided to, they slowly raised their arms and pointed. The two people they pointed to would then hold their note while the rest of the group became silent. Two randomly-sung notes would be heard, and the pairs would switch, and the process began again.
Afterward, we discussed as a group how this was like parenting: you have to tune in and truly listen, there are pockets of dissonance and harmony, it takes you out of your comfort zone, it can be unsettling just like entering a new phase of parenting can be, you are working on finding balance of self within the group, you have to follow your instinct, connections come and go, you are making it up as you go along, sometimes you are more "on" than others.
This gives a picture of what it is like to be a parent/protector. And now we can focus on exactly what it is we are protecting our children from, and what it is we are trying to do as parents. And our basic job as parents is to model and teach what it is to be a human being. So what IS it to be a human being? Again, a rich and seemingly endless topic, BUT, my offering was that if you distill it to the basics of survival, you need 4 things for physical health as a human being:
Shelter
Clothing
Food
Social Interaction/love and affection
 I took these needs one step further and since I believe we are spiritual beings, I grouped them according to basic spiritual needs:
Shelter: the reverence we bring to the world, the basic structure of our spirit
Clothing: our beliefs; our thoughts and attitudes are cloaked in our beliefs
Food: our connection to, and acknowledgment of, our spiritual Source
Social Interaction: using the other resources of food, clothing, and shelter, we form meaningful, mutually supportive bonds with those around us
When I think about all the things that creep in that are not necessary to survival, like the daily news, the clutter in my house, the extra toys laying around, too many trips to the grocery, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, too much yarn (well, I could argue that yarn IS necessary to MY survival- :)), I am inspired to pare it down, and the folks at Simplicity Parenting have created a movement out of this very concept. Kim John Payne's story as a counselor is well worth reading. The Cliff Notes version is that he saw the same PTSD-type symptoms presenting in tow groups he worked with: those who had lived through and survived war, and over-scheduled, upper-middle-class children in suburban settings. Many of you may have read that book, and it inspired me so much, yet I find myself continually having to stand as a protector of my own door, the door to the shelter of me and my family. The clutter creeps in within the seeming whirlwind of child-rearing. I need to breathe and step back, and take stock frequently, not just of the physical space, but the spiritual space. Each needs deep cleansing from time to time. The "outer world" with its natural disasters and negative news does not need any energy, in the form of worry, from me. A steady diet of that is just depressing. Not that I am against donating, or giving help where it is needed, just that my children need to be protected from being immersed in a steady stream of awareness of those events.
In Waldorf philosophy of child development, from birth-21 there are 3 themes that emerge as follows:
birth-7 The World is Good
7-14 The World is Beauty
14-21 The World is True
Each builds on the other...and in this day and age it is hard enough for ME to believe the world is good, much less teach that to my child. But it is important to be given that sense of trust, to provide emotional and physical safety, in order to internalize the sense of the world as good, beautiful, and true.
The idea of taking stock is important. Yet another wonderful teacher influenced me with a metaphor of a plate: there was the idea that we provide children "meat and potatoes" type experiences, and then "dessert" type experiences.
Taking this a step further, I thought I'd take a look at what's on my plate, and the plate of many parents. To what experiences am I giving my time? What is the quality of my time with my children? How am I using my time, my journey between the spiritual and the physical, to provide a nurtured, protected childhood for my children?
Meat: Experiences that are the anchors for your daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly rhythms. They can also be rituals, like "you are allowed to wear makeup when you are 15." or religious passages like bar/bat mitzvah. Meat experiences are predictable and steady: bedtime at 7, burritoes on Tuesdays, camping trip every fall, easter at Grandma's house, daily care of pets, family dinners.
Potatoes: Experiences that are unstructured, unplanned, "free" For a child, this is time for free play...for adults, this is time where you can do what you feel like you want to do, as opposed to doing what you have to do. For adults, this can be "play time" as well.
Vegetables: Experiences that are somewhere between "meat" and "potatoes". They are less predictable but are inherently connecting, such as baking bread together, gardening, storytelling, family hikes, cleaning together, taking a day trip.
Dessert: Experiences that are not inherently nurturing other than they provide connection to mainstream culture. Just as you would not want to give your body dessert for every meal, you would not give your child these experiences every day. These include exposure to movies, TV, and other media, shopping trips, etc. These arguably have value based on a child's stage of development. For instance, you wouldn't limit these experiences with a teenager like you would with a toddler, and as your family grows, so will this picture of your family's culture, and what influences you will and will not allow in your home.
I had participants in my talk actually draw a plate with circles representing how big their "servings" are. They then were asked to draw a plate where the servings were the ideal size, for them and in the context of their personal family culture.
I have also been looking at what I put on my plate for myself, and what I put on my child's plate. Of course, this changes and grows.
For this first part, I would be remiss in my duties as a Waldorf teacher if I did not leave you with a quote from Steiner:

We must eradicate from the soul all fear and terror of what comes toward us out of the future.
We must acquire serenity in all feelings and sensation about the future.
We must look forward with absolute equanimity to everything that may come.
And we must think only that whatever comes is given to us by a world-directive full of wisdom.
It is part of what we must learn in this age, namely, to live out of pure trust, without any security in existence.
Trust in the ever-present help of the Spiritual World.
Truly, nothing else will do if our courage is not to fail us.
And let us seek the awakening from within ourselves, every morning and evening."

(~ R. Steiner)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Serena Sweater

Just a quick note that I corrected some mistakes on my first sweater pattern. I made it into a PDF so one does not have to go back to my old blog and fish around for it.  It was my first foray into designing an actual garment, so the trial and error factor has been huge.Thanks to those of you on Ravelry who were basically test knitters! The rest of you feel free to have a knitting adventure with this sweater...in the future, I hope to add other sizes.
Ravelry Link

Friday, September 9, 2011

Serious Score

Yesterday, a truck across the street was doing some tree doctoring, resulting in a nice stack of stumps. Like any red-blooded, self-respecting Waldorf teacher/mom, I marched right over there and rolled several back across the street to our house. I had to make a Circle of Stumps.
Here it is:
And Serena imitated me by bringing her own stumps over...perfect for playing with the Breyer horses I played with as a child.
Here's to tree stump opportunity!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Eating Well

We have had a cold snap here, welcome and wet. In fact, today was so cool, and so ideal, we headed to the orchard to pick apples...not hot, no yellowjackets...plenty of apples under foot, and some cantankerous horses to visit. Bringing home all those apples, I was thinking that nothing gets my autumn going like cooking. I am spinning yarn at the Douglass Loop Farmer's Market every week, and am surrounded by local bounty all of Saturday. So, I thought I would share with you what I love most about fall cooking, although not all of it will be new.
Above: Blue corn/zucchini patties (just shredded zukes, 2 eggs, handful of cheddar, salt and pepper, and blue corn meal to make a thick paste...bake or fry in oil.) topped with garlic aioli,  roasted beets and micro greens.
Not a year goes by that I don't make the squash  pie recipe from The Self-Healing Cookbook. I'm quite sure I've played with the recipe so much it hardly resembles its "mother", but it is certainly worth  trying. I use local butternut squash. And your whole house will smell homey like cinnamon.
Bean soup: soaked and cooked black beans, jar of salsa, and big dollops of this miso. I could eat it every day.
And,drum roll, I have stopped being completely vegetarian! In between canning tomatoes, I cooked and picked a chicken, made barbeque chicken and chicken/green bean/rice soup.
What's going on in your autumn kitchen???

Monday, August 1, 2011

I Belong

I sat and held my teacher's hand...my chorus teacher from high school. Somewhere in between giving fatherly advice (make sure your daughter is learning plenty of keyboard in college!) and my asking after his health, we both teared up. I told him how much he meant to me and my life, and that I adore music because of him. Not the same music as then,of course, but I have an abiding love of music that he fostered. That's powerful.
I belong to music itself and makers of music.
Surrounded by people I barely recognized, faces thinly familiar as if they had floated in on a dream, I was nervous. Who would these people be now? Twenty-five years after high school. In 1986 no one could have foreseen the paths taken and not taken, the growth and changes that awaited us, and how unbelievably cool it would be to be 43 years old. (well, 44 for some!) So cool that no one wafted onto the dance floor, far too few Prince songs were played for my taste (I mean, really, they only played "1999" and only played it ONCE). Yet, I sensed a kindred among those folks, since we had lived and moved through something powerful, together, sometimes hand in hand, sometimes on the outer edge, in and out of circles,trying to find it and fit it....And I found some really lovely people at the end of those 25 years, and none of us carried labels like nerd or jock or prep.
I belong to those who won't dance, and who still end their sentences in prepositions.
On my deck, a huge container of wool, yarn, and two hubcaps. Me on deck too, losing myself in colors and texture, playfully and joyfully experimenting. I had to make do a bit to fit the wool around the hubcap and felt it on there. Later found me knitting a cozy for the second hubcap. You can see them both here: http://www.kentuckyarts.org/
I belong to artists, makers, tinkerers, and the creative force of the universe.
At home, after a vacation, I picked up my copy  of Women Who Run With the Wolves and perform the book-throw method of insight. Upon throwing the book, I encountered page 184: "Exile as Boon", and I quote,
"If you have attempted to fit whatever mold and failed to do so,you are probably lucky. You may be an exile of some sort, but you have sheltered your soul. There is an odd phenomenon that occurs when one keeps trying to fit and fails. Even though the outcast is driven away, she is at the same time driven right into the arms of her psychic and true kin....It is worse to stay where one does not belong at all than to wander about lost for awhile and looking for the psychic and soulful kinship one requires.It is never a mistake to search for what one requires. Never."
This whole chapter ended up deeply speaking to me, especially when she wrote about being a duck and being raised by mice people. They don't eat each others' food and think the other smells funny...and what if you had to pretend you were a mouse when you were really a duck? Just before reading that, I was in a situation where a friend felt the need to  remind me how to act like a "mouse". But I'm a DUCK!, I protested (metaphorically speaking). Not that ducks and mice cannot relate to one another.  Yet, it was a gift to be given that reminder....I got to stand up for my duck-ness, and deeply recognize some differences I have with that group of people, and keep the message that I don't have to try so hard to belong where I just don't belong. What a relief!
I belong to my tribe, that tribe of soul-gorgeous, deep, passionate, creative, loving strong women who I have been blessed with in my life, and who continue to influence and inspire me.
Children wafting in and out of my day, requests for tickling, the adorable, heart-stopping chatter of a two-year-old, siblings screaming way too loud over who plays a piano key, can't really remember all of it but the holiness of growing children, even as I muck it up sometimes and other times truly shine.
I belong to mothers.
I belong....

Friday, July 8, 2011

summertime cliff notes

My camera died and it will take a month to fix it.
We have been staying up too late, blowing bubbles, catching fireflies, hula hooping.
I have been working and longing for a few more carefree days.
I got to teach a group of adults how to wash a fleece, card, spin, make knitting  needles, cast on, and knit in 4 days. Whew. We also did a mini-dye session.
My teenage daughter is home and she is now a licensed driver!
We eat ice cream every day,except for me.
Can you believe it? I cut out flour and sugar and caffeine. I feel so much better.
I have so many ideas and not so much time.
I don't feel like knitting (gasp! did I say that?)
But I knit anyway because I like it.
We have one baby bunny after a dog situation. We started out with 5. Heartbreaking.But...
A 3-week old angora bunny provides HOURS of entertainment to a 7-year-old, and has GOT to be the cutest thing alive.
Except for 2-year-old Davis. Ooooo I could eat him up.
We laugh every day. Davis likes to blow raspberries on bellies...mommy's soft belly, sister's lithe belly, and the occasional arm.
We tickle every day.
trying to avoid thoughts of summer's fleeting nature.
I have a booth at a farmer's market for the summer...come see me and chat if you are local! Check out my facebook page for details.
Blog world, I wanted you to know I have not forgotten you.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

And the winner is....



Adrienne!!!!
Since there were only 3 entered, Kim and Crystal, send me your address and I'll send you a prize (a handmade book with a vintage stamp). Thanks for playing along!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Backyard happenings

Nudity and snacks.

Preparing to sell mostly organic plant-dyed yarn....see one you want???

Enjoying our second batch of angora babies...born Monday....and Mama has been taking good care of them this time around.I think they're gonna make it.
It's not too late to enter the giveaway! I'll be drawing a winner Sunday morning....a gift for a mother on Father's Day(I assume, as so far only mothers have entered)!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Why buy...dog treats

Indeed, why buy dog treats? Aren't they just souped up dog food in different shapes? Does your dog care about this?
Mine doesn't, and in making dog treats, I get to give in to my dog's nature...the one that says "scavenge with all your might".
so I fling open the cupboards, and I scavenge.
Flaxmeal showing signs ofmoth visits? It's going in.
Remnants of 3 open jars of peanut butter? Down you go.
Buckwheat flour I'm tired of staring at? For substance.
Anything else I can find that serves a dual purpose of cleaning out the cabinets and feeding my dog? Going in. And then I add garlic powder and brewer's yeast for flea prevention, powdered chlorophyll and spirulina for fresh breath, and eggs and olive oil for a shiny coat.
Mix it all until you are satisfied with the consistency. Have your kids make nice treat-like shapes. Bake and then give to your treasured pooch!
This is what it looked like in the bowl:
then I decided to grab my camera and have a learning opporunity in abstract photography. In other words, I played with my dog's pre-food.
Here are the results and they make my head hurt:






  I swear I see "people" in those  photos.Off to find a focal point...or something....or just stare into white noise on a TV screen.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Giveaway!

To kick off my new blog, and properly celebrate my mid-life "opportunity"(see "deep" paragraphs following), I am giving away a signed copy of Handmade Home. It is slightly used but only because ALL the books in this house look slightly used, especially if they are out at the same time the 2-year-old is out. So, to enter, 1. leave a comment 2. follow me on Twitter (cochinealbunny) and come back here and let me know 3. follow me here on blogger. 4. tell others about it and be entered twice, and tell me that you did that.
And, although I am tempted to not require any of that nonsense, this blog must go on. But, if you don't comment, you can't be entered. Rules are rules.
Be entered twice if you can tell me a funny midlife crisis story, or come up with a less-cliche` name for it-that thing that starts when you're 42-ish, because I hate the term "midlife crisis", or just lie and tell me you know exactly what I'm talking about, even though you aren't currently experiencing any kind of crisis or growth opportunity. Empathy counts.
So, now to delve deeper.
In a way, I am giving away a part of myself. That early 20's part of me that greeted the world with sincere bravado and I'm-going-to-change-the-world idealism? She's older now. And that shining cup of idealistic certainty? It's been tarnished by the sure fingerprints of Reality. This leaves me at the crossroads....where the idealism of my 20's meets the reality of my early 40's. And my always-protective gospel of pragmatism is leaving me very hopeless indeed. This is where I must choose....I can no longer be an innocent. Innocence, Pollyanna, blind optimism...these don't work either. There is emptiness there too. I can no longer operate out of idealism, but now I have the opportunity to acknowledge reality in another way and consciously CHOOSE. I can walk by the dark alley and fall victim to those thugs of bitterness, resentment and cynicism. Ugh.Who wants to hang around that all the time? OR, I can love them into powerlessness.
I have the power to choose,and I choose to see, and still purpose to choose love, and choose the high ground. It won't be easy, this shift from innocence to responsibility. But if I am ever going to grow into true responsibility for myself, and that quality isn't automatically bestowed on you because of age, then I have to do some major shifting.
I want to write more about this midlife thing...I want to tell you more. I want to go a little further beyond craft-blog-ness and really stretch and grow. But for now, accept my gift, a token of my innocence, for this book certainly represents the girl I was in my 20's...loving antique hankies, making things with my kids, just beginning to explore sewing for myself and my children, accumulating vintage sewing notions, being resourceful, etc. I think you will  love this book if you love those things too, and much more

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Gift to Our School




Earlier this spring, our school was gifted with these incredible stones. I think they are beautiful and amazing... one more way to surround children with art and beauty. Marko Pogacnik is the artist, and many major cities across the world have employed his talents to place these stones with a healing intention for the earth.
Locally, Foxhollow Farm has a circle of stones (ever read that book?) that you can hike to. Here is a link to more stone activity that happened at Foxhollow.
What an incredible blessing to our school.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Dress yourself

Why buy salad dressing? I mean, honestly. It is one of those things that is solely for convenience. Once one has experienced the pleasures of good olive oil, experimented with flavored vinegar, or tried combining things Iike dates and nuts to make your salad dressing it is hard to go back to things in a bottle. And who needs one more soy- or corn-derived product in their body? (most packaged dressings have many of those products in them)
Not to mention summer potlucks. Someone always has a wonderful homemade salad dressing. For instance, there is usually a cucumber salad with a sweetened white vinegar dressing. And there are so many delicious variations of cole slaw...way beyond Marzetti's. If you read my previous "why buy" you will know I love homemade mayonnaise. Put that on your cole slaw or egg salad.....mmmmmmm.
The traditional proportion of vinegar to oil in a salad dressing is 1 part vinegar to 3 parts oil. Our family tends to like a lot more acid, and I don't limit myself to vinegar. There is lemon and lime juice, too. I do make a lot of the normal balsamic/olive oil/mustard/ salt and pepper dressings.
My aboslute personal favorites are dressings that come from a raw un-cook book called The Raw Truth.
Here are a few of those recipes, with a few minor alterations, all blended per your appliance of choice

Miso-tahini dressing

2 tbs. Tahini
2 tbs. White miso
1 seeded, soaked date
1/4 cup lemon juice
Sesame oil or water to thin

Avocado-parsley dressing

1 ripe avocado, pitted and peeled
Handful of fresh parsley
1/4 cup or more of lemon juice
Bragg's or tamari to taste
Water or olive oil to thin

Cashew Ginger dressing

Two pieces of fresh ginger the size of your thumb, peeled
1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked for 4-6 hours and drained
Tamari to taste
Generous dollop of agave nectar
1/4 cup rice vinegar (or to taste)
Water or sesame oil to thin


I love to experiment with almond butter, dates, lemon juice, fresh herbs, and fresh ginger, since I do like a bit more of an oriental taste.

I can also approximate the dressing you get on salads from a Thai or sushi restaurant:
Mix together 3 carrots, a stalk of celery, 1/2 cup of rice vinegar, a sprinkling of sucanat, and 1/2-3/4 cup of mayonnaise. You may have to experiment with the proportions....I always do.

And someday, I would like to try Martha Stewart's Caesar salad dressing (on her website).
Stick around here...I have a giveaway on Friday!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

I woke up to this: Sleeping children

Does anything wash over you the way a peaceful sleeping child does? I have always been fascinated that no matter what the struggles and frustrations of the day, no matter how many containers of Bon Ami have been dumped on the floor,no matter how many times he's helped me "dye" by putting wool in the baby pool, no matter how many times he runs from me with his diaper a mess, no matter all that, when he is sleeping, he is an absolute angel. He is "esmo" kisses and "Mommy, hold you." He is, "Mommy, 'mon!" and "beep! baaa baaa" when he sees a picture of sheep. He is small hands grabbing my face to look at him as he enthusiastically shares another discovery. He is the constant-motion picture I want to hold still and relish just a few moments...minutes...years more. Watching my children sleep fills me with wishes for their lives and delighted wonderings about their growth. Watching a sleeping child is surely one of the pleasures of being a parent.
Maybe I should start envisioning adults as sleeping children, for surely they were at one point,and surely their mothers watched and wondered over them as well. I would certainly gain compassion!
I woke up to this during the early morning, but every moment with a child is an unfolding and awakening. How lucky I am to be able to witness and learn from it.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Dyeing Days

During the school year, I often come home from work and start drizzling olive oil into an iron skillet and then chopping vegetables. Soon, the house is filled with good smells andI am a much calmer person.Chop, chop, chop does wonders for soothing the worries of the day.
Now, the school year is over and I can breathe a bit, just like chopping vegetables at the end of the day.. Only now, it's dye pots and wool. I cannot begin to tell you how much I love this.
Do you remember the first day of school as a child? Do you remember having a fresh box of Crayolas? I used to get so excited over new crayons. I would try to keep them organized for awhile, but luckily some creative project or a new coloring book allowed me to shake things up and they'd be tattered, broken, overly sharpened, or peeled into oblivion. Ah, those were the days.
Now that I'm 42, different things amuse me, but I couldn't help but think back to those Crayolas as I was dyeing. I think what gives me such pleasure is filling my days with color and child-like playfulness (I am truly sanguine, after all!)




I can hardly wait to card and spin and felt with these new colors!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Celebrating


Last night, I celebrated 9 years of teaching in a Waldorf school....teaching handwork and music. To celebrate, I took a little trip...a wool buying trip. I also took along two precious bags...one filled with soft Shetland wool from Kentucky and Indiana sheep, one filled with angora fiber from my own sweet bunnies.
While there, they revved up their relatively ancient machines and processed the two bags into one box of roving, while I waited, and toward the end of their work day.What incredibly nice people (Ohio Valley Natural Fibers, if you are in the midwest! Worth a field trip with the kids.)
Ahhhhh....I wish you could feel it.

And then my treat to  myself....something I have not had the time to do for a very long time....sit and spin. Spinning puts me in a state of calm like nothing else. So I started in on that box of beautiful fiber.

Close, oh close the shadows steal, night will soon be coming
Turn my little spinning wheel, I love your gentle humming
Round and round you lightly go, gleaming by the fire's glow
Humming, humming, humming
(spinning song- I am unsure of the words)

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Waking Up

What you wake up to in the morning often sets the tone for the rest of the day. Waking up to something  means you have noticed it...maybe for the first time, or simply with a fresh perspective. Waking up comes at the end of sleep, like water comes at the end of dryness. Waking up...observing..is part of the creative process...it is life-giving and healthy.
Surely, morning can set the tone for the whole day. Dreams from the night before linger, sleep or sleeplessness fog our thinking, rain or sun set the tempo of our mood, we are sharper,sensitive.
Waking up from a delicious dream and finding it in reality happens also.
While I believe one can choose happiness or love in the moment, I also believe in moments of transformation....that the opportunity for choice lies in circumstance, and it is never an  opportunity to sugar coat or deny what is real. It is an opportunity to grow through...to accept and acknowledge...to give in to the waking.
Life throws circumstances at me that I can't handle with grace or bravado.
But every morning is new...
I grab my camera...what do I see with morning eyes? What is fresh and glistening with hope? What does waking up promise to me?
Over the summer, I am going to post my personal awakenings once a week.
Today, we woke up to this:


The morning rush filled with complaints about breakfast. It was the last full day of school. No complaining could muck up the absolute glee of the LAST FULL DAY.
Looking back, looking forward....next year,second grade for Serena and baby brother gets to join us. The summer transformation as I leave one school year behind, take what I have learned and put it to rest, and bring out projects I have long put aside.
Everyone, now,muster your summer's-here-shout-of-joy: WOOHOO!!!!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Making Yarn

First of all, forgive me for mucking up my blog.I've been sucked into that gaping, yawning, hole that opens up for a teacher at the end of the school year and swirls you around right before you are spat into the halcyon days of summer. But right now, I am still being swirled around. I sincerely appreciate those of you who have asked about me and my blog. I'm still,very slowly,making time to play. Local galleries want my work,and that feels wonderful. I am not keeping up with that at ALL. But glorious summer is coming, and I will take off my Waldorf teacher garb, put on something with spaghetti straps, henna my hair, paint my toenails, make some art, write a book, and record a CD. I'm only half joking.
I have been exploring non-traditional ways of making yarn. First, I felted some yarn. You will have to wait to find out how- sorry!

I set up my sewing machine outside, simply because I can be with my kids in the back yard. Otherwise, I would have to stick to knitting and who is inspired to knit in June? Ok, I am, but not as much as I was in January.
I had all these fibers I had bought on a whim. They are mostly rayon and cotton cording,some are sparkly, some are nubby, some are chenille. They remind me of weaving fibers.

I had this sewing foot,used to apply thin cording to the outside of fabric. You thread the cord through the holes,and zig zag it on to your garment or pillow.

I just threaded some of the thinner cords through and zig-zagged it over thicker cord.

And voila`! Sewn yarn. I am quite certain you could use up snippets of sock yarn, wool yarn, cotton yarn, any yarn and thin cord combination. I used a red silk thread on top and a yellow cotton in the bobbin. A delight for anyone who likes to play with color!


Pretty fun, eh?


Saturday, May 14, 2011

Farmer's Market!!!



Today marked our first trip of the season to the farmer's market. I scored a beautiful, biodynamic bag of salad mix with nastrurtiums, tomatoes, basil, lavender and peppers for the garden, and some gorgeous kale. My own kale will be ready soon...here is some Red Russian kale that volunteered:

And flowers from my garden. Planting this week: indigo, weld, cilantro, woad, marigolds, and chamomile.
In other news, I am plugging my nose as I dive into the waters of online transformation. Thanks for following me over here, or for coming anew.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Songs Sung

I am taking a day off of posting a why buy and going a different direction today.
We sing songs all day....words strung together to convey a mood, color a conversation, and set the tone for our day.  No music is necessary for this, for songs are more than notes and music. Songs sung in this regard are our repetitive, habitual, automatic lines of speech.  They are largely determined by mood and habit.
Songs I sing include love songs to my children, tunes of gratitude, and encouragement. I also have a large repertoire of songs I am not so proud of...spoken bitterness, complaining, self-pity, judgement, anger, and complacency. Then there is the tone of the songs...harsh or welcoming, soft and slow, intense and soothing, staccato and legato.
I am limited by these habits and so seek to expand my repertoire and not sing the same old sad, bitter songs. I can move freely into joy and gratitude and centeredness, and make my words strong and pleasant.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Why buy

I am starting a Monday ritual on this blog..partially to help me get back into the blogging spirit, and partially to solidify some of the things I've been ruminating about as a result of reading Radical Homemakers. The idea is to keep exploring ways to reduce my consumption, change my own perceptions about what I actually do and do not need, reduce my usage of plastic, and hopefully inspire others to do the same. Because if a busy, working mother can do this, then surely anyone can. If I ask myself this simple question, "why buy?" and can besatisfied with the answer, then i am in good shape. If I can conjure up the ingenuity to do it myself, I will do that instead of buying.
Oddly enough, I'm going to start with mayonnaise. Why do I ever buy pre-made mayonnaise in the jar? Nothing compares with fresh mayonnaise and it takes so little time you won't believe it.
Step 1: Take one local organic egg and put it in your food processor. start the processing. You can also use a blender.
Step 2: Take organic canola oil, or olive oil (I just don't like olive oil mayonnaise) or any other light oil (maybe I can try to make sunflower oil? Maybe?) and drizzle it in slowly. As you do this, the mayonnaise will start to emulsify. I don't measure...I just keep going until it is the consistency I like. I am sure there are "proper" recipes on the web, but I only do "proper" when I feel like it.
Step 3: Add a tablespoon or two of lemon juice (fresh-squeezed is prefereable) and a teaspoon of salt (more if you like)
Step 4: Scoop it into a ball jar.
That's it. Once you get the hang of it, it takes about 5 minutes, or less. You can't drive to the store in that amount of time.
Now that you've made your mayonnaise, you can make a quick, impressive vegetable dip. Take a cup of mayo, 1 tbsp. onion powder, 1 tbsp. worcestershire sauce, 5 cloves of crushed garlic (or more), and 1/2 cup fresh parsley. Whirl together in a food processor, salt and pepper to taste. Serve with fresh cut vegetables.
Do leave your "why buy?" in the comments. (maybe I will actually get a comment!)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

playing



I hope you get a chance to watch this video....at least the first few minutes, where he talks about adults playing, and the use of our hands.
It makes a lot of sense to me...if we, as adults, are to nurture our childrens' sense of play, we mustn't neglect our own, since they look to us to imitate and understand what it means to be human.
this is what I've been playing with:
I've gone from finger painting to carded batts...and the play with color is the same giddy joy. Only now, i can satisfy an adult sensibility for good, natural materials, and delving into the scientific and not-so-scientific process of plant dyeing.
On the right: wool dyed with cochineal and wool dyed with marigolds and tesu flowers, carded with beautiful, lusrous brown mohair (sourced locally!)
On the left, my own dear bunnies' fur carded with local Shetland fleece.
I can hardly wait to play again and spin these up.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Holy

she comes every once in awhile, my dear, welcome friend.I we talk about creativity and motherhood and sex and work and therapy. she is fun and I love the way she thinks.
i gave her a bag of rabbit fur. we are generous that way with each other. she gave it back to me, spun up and knitted into a beautiful swatch. i love this gift, the gift of her hands, the grace of friendship.

she says this is holy, and it is.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Bunny Love

I was going to do a serious post about spring cleansing, change, coping, and all that, but I got sidetracked.
After weeks of whining to anyone who would listen (and even those who wouldn't listen) that I couldn't get my rabbit pregnant (hello? do I control this?) And yes, the deed was done, and we almost lit candles and played Marvin Gaye.
But we didn't have to. Friday, we went to Mammoth Cave. We came back Saturday and upon my return, I checked the bunnies, and lo and behold- 3 small kits in Cloud's cage! We were overjoyed and set her up close to the house.

Sadly, we lost one of the babies to cold that night. I didn't know that you need to bring angora babies in, as in, inside. They don't lay around with their young like cats and dogs do. Now those two little kits live in a drawer in my bedroom, and I take them to their mother several times a day for nursing. I am not kidding. I read that they only need to eat once a day, for rabbit milk is very rich, but those babies just seem hungry, and so they do spend time with their mama, to learn rabbit ways and eat if they wish; she jumps out if she wishes, but we always give her a tasty treat.
Part of it feels surreal...who are these squirming, lively, dreaming creatures, as they barrel headlong into survival? They do dream...like human newborns dream...kicking and fluttering even as they are stilled by sleep. They are other-worldly in those moments.


I have no idea if we are doing any of this right. These babies have spent so much time with Serena that they are certain to be great companions for humans too. We have handled them liberally. Their mother has not rejected them.




It really IS time to build a proper rabbit hutch!