Thursday, February 14, 2019

to each of you

The heart shape has always held attraction for me. It finds its way into much of what I create, probably because most of what I make is created for someone I love or care about. While cruising snaps in my iPhoto albums I found a few.








Wanting to wish any of you who happen to peek into my window today a very happy Valentines Day, know I care about each of you. And because I do, I'll repeat my annual February women's heart health month wish...



Take the best care of yourself. It will mean a lot to me, and I'm guessing, quite a bit to others as well.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

the first Wednesday of February



The ride out of January into February felt a bit like I'd imagine being pulled through a black hole. Heavy snow and howling winds on Sunday night to Monday. Sub, sub zero cold on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. More than 70 degree temperature change and a resultant two days of thawing and dense fog for the week's end. For the first time in my lifetime, the USPS cancelled mail delivery for two days. The clinic in town reduced its hours. Frequent visits to the chicken house required dressing as if for an arctic trek. Keeping feeders for the wild birds the only other reason to leave my own nest.
Continuous mugs of Tazo's Passion tea in the company of cats, doors and windows cloaked by every towel, throw rug and lap blanket we could gather, long hours of reading, sewing, garden planning and delighting in preparing my Handmade Joy Exchange items for the post got me through the days. Oh blessed retirement, not having anywhere to be but home sweet home. And truth be told not wanting to be.
Now on the other side, it's a wintry mix and snow in the forecast. For the moment nothing extreme.  A quick trip to town yesterday to send my Handmade Joy Exchange package on its way, to  the library, and to pick up a few staples from the grocery store, reasons to leave the house  for the first time in ten days. While shopping I gave in to the temptation to bring a bit of spring home with me. 


A sweet lady, perhaps just a wee bit older than me, noticed the tete a tete daffodil planter in my shopping cart and sighed. I told her it was important to treat ones' self from time to time, especially at our age and in the grip of winter. A few moments later she approached me to show me I had influenced her to choose a treat for herself... a carton of cherry chocolate frozen yogurt. She thanked me for the encouragement!
In the spirit of my word for the year, nourish, these little treats of joy go a long way.


And being starved for green and flowers of any kind it's important to be grateful for the little miracles that emerge.
Put them front and center. They deserve full attention for bringing such grace into daily life.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

a Janus view



January, so aptly named for Janus, the god with two faces
From time to time it's valuable to look back and see how far I've come. When it seems as if the "to do" list is longer than ever, and little or no progress is being made. That's when I need to open iPhoto and look back (a good incentive for taking even more photos, don't you agree?)

With the holidays past, my mind has turned to gardening for the season ahead. This week I received most of my seed orders with a hopeful heart. There's very little snow on the ground right now so I can do a complete walk about, dream, plan, and jot down thoughts. Recently I walked our east border of baby pines and noted that many are showing their snugly wrapped promises for spring.


That got me to thinking about the long journey we've made to get to this point.

Four years ago this April we rescued the little greens from growing in unfavorable places on our agricultural rights property and resettled 28 of them into our new acre of pasture along the lot line.

It doesn't sound like such a big job until you consider:
before that could happen we had to negotiate to buy a bit of property from its owner . THE BARN was not on our property after all...
You can see just how near to our original lot line the old barn stood.





Within months of my moving in (late summer 2010), the owner of the barn allowed a friend to "take some of the wood" for a building project (we later learned he never made use of the wood)

 
He left it like this.

Untouched by anyone but Mother Nature, this rubble festered for three years.
Being alone here most of that time I was uncomfortable walking near it at night. And I feared for my chickens as I knew there were animals squatting in the rubble.
This "tiny ruin" meant little or nothing to the owners of their other 180 acres. They didn't live nearby merely renting their fields and looking to collect their lease fees. But to us it was a daily and growing concern. Some of our neighbors began to ask us when we were going to clean up our mess.
Working with our realtor we managed to negotiate the purchase of one acre. That was all we were allowed but it would be enough.

With this done we were able to:
remove the debris and wild growing things,
regrade the land,
build a pole barn,
take down a lightning struck pine several stories tall,
bring in several truckloads of topsoil,
and finally reseed the land (a job we had to redo a few times with the amount of rain that rearranged       the first few plantings!)







Only then could we commence to locating and relocating the little ones.







Here's is a shot I took this morning. Lovely, isn't it?

Looking back and looking forward. Good activities for a snowy mid January morning.



Sunday, January 6, 2019

epiphany

  1. sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into the reality or essential meaning of     something, usually initiated by some simple,    homely, or commonplace occurrence                                            or experience.   (dictionary.com)



                                                       may epiphanies come to all of us

Friday, January 4, 2019

a gift to me



Hello from the new year!
I  have confessed in an earlier new year post that this time of year can be frightening for me. I am more aware now than ever else in the course of a year's passage that life is far too short and there are no guarantees that there will be many more new years ahead.
And yet, it is such a time of opportunity and hopefulness.

It has taken me a bit of time this year to decide on a guiding word.

nourish: to supply with what is necessary for life, health, growth. to cherish, foster, keep alive. to strengthen, build up, promote. (dictionary.com)
It is an action word. A take charge word. A personal word. One cannot be passive when charged with nourishing.

to nourish ...ME!
to re-attune myself to the cycles of the universe


to celebrate more often


to play more



especially with my friends

to realize the gifts that simple meals are to the soul as well as the body and take full delight in them


to encourage life for all that share my ridge meadow, flora and fauna






to energize my ideas into reality




to recognize that taking care of myself is a gift I can give to those who love me


 and is not a selfish act.

Whatever else is in your future this year, may you also give pause for balance and self nourishment as doing so would bring me much joy.
Happy 2019 dear friends.



Monday, December 17, 2018

view from the middle of December




Why it surprises me that it's been longer than a month since my last post I can't possibly imagine. Time never, ever stands still. Everybody knows the earth spins just a bit faster in the days before the winter solstice. So maybe your days have been too full to have missed me.
After such an absence my initial impulse is to write a catchup post. I'll resist and make only one comment concerning this interval...it's been much too sunless. Grrr. SAD indeed.
Yes, Jonah Days come to all of us, but endless grey days certainly ramp up the speed at which our energies are consumed.
And the Christmas season tends to tip the scales. Often magnifying and multiplying a dark frame of mind. An image of Jacob Marley encumbered by yards and yards of chains and impossibly inconvenient boxes of gloom comes to mind.


I admit it isn't fair for me to spend time looking through your blog and instagram windows (which have supported my mental and emotional health these past many days, thank you) and not offer you the same opportunity. I will try harder.
The truth, I've been struggling of late.
This Friday began as the many days before it with dense fog. Grumbling to myself about another sunless morning, I had to admit it was beautiful. Humidity and temperature combine to create a hoar frost fairy land.



Still in my pajamas looking out the upstairs gliders into the densest fog we've seen in a long while, I could just barely make out figures moving in the mist just beyond the chicken yard. At first I wondered if they could be very large deer. Then, perhaps a few unusual cows? No! Several blanketed horses were moving as if in slow motion just ahead of a figure on horseback. Now none of my very near neighbors keep horses (though once a mare and her colt managed to escape and go out for a walk across our meadow.)  At just the right moment I was looking out and as mysteriously as they appeared they turned and faded into the mist. Wow. Magical.

After breakfast I sat down in the company of my internet friends and learned that I and my #friend each had been chosen to receive a framed print of a Silver Eye Finch offered in a giveaway by a beautiful business on the other side of the world, Ink and Spindle.


You can only imagine my delight. This was totally unexpected and all the sweeter because of it. I've secretly envied Gretta's internship there years ago. I've dabbled with silk screen printing, on a much smaller scale to be sure,  and have dreamed what it would be like to work in the company of these women.

I am a charter subscriber to Quiltfolk magazine. It is a quarterly, commercial free publication about people who quilt. Each issue is dedicated to a state, or a part of a state. I devour every page. Being a quarterly I lose track of when to expect it. What a joy for it to arrive as one more little proof that I was being cared for.

Westby, Wisconsin is a town just a few miles north of us. Not long ago this little town of 2200 passed a referendum to build a performing arts center onto their middle school/high school. It is now complete and has been the venue for many events. That evening this lovely new auditorium was presenting Isthmus Brass,


an ensemble Jerome and I heard a couple years back in our own historic Temple Theatre. We often talk ourselves out of leaving the house at night, but the weather had turned clear, the roads were dry and the drive short. We also wanted to check out this new arts center. The program was just what we needed to put us in the Christmas mood. They are amazing musicians, mostly teachers in the UW system, though from its many campuses across the state.
As we were heading home Jerome suggested we drive past a house in Westby that he'd seen on a facebook page. Their home and property a holiday light and synchronized music display.  They even have a radio link to their music so you could tune in your car radio to amplify the sound.
I did make an iPhone movie of it but alas the file is too large to fit here. Truth be told I would have trouble living next door to this production but it was fun to visit.

I begin to feel deep disconnect with creation when I'm unable to see the night sky. This night would be the first time in a while with a clear view. As I had earlier in the day, I stood once again in my pajamas at the upstairs sliders looking out , this time on the brilliance just beyond. Happy just to be seeing the thousands of lights in the blackness, I was totally unprepared to be gifted the longest shooting star I'd ever seen. It had a slightly green glow as it arced toward the horizon.
Then, snuggled in bed with my book in hand there came the sound of several coyotes very near the house. Their animated voices make me long to know just what they have to say for themselves.

Just before sleep there came one more blessing on my day,  the unmistakeable call of an owl, soon answered by another. And this lullaby ended my day.
It was a day of delights. Signposts so clear. Multiple gifts of grace.
I wish similar joys to come your way in these days of darkness.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

realigning the personal compass

How have we gotten to the middle of November???

It takes me a few weeks to adjust to the time change. When we fall back I have to apply discipline and daily effort to resist my mammalian instinct towards hibernation. Especially in the face of shorter daylight hours, even when or especially when the skies are grey. And when the sun does shine, have you also noticed how deep the shadows are now?

Our weather seems too cold for this time of year. The soft and brilliant days of autumn gone much too soon. Last week we seized an afternoon of temperatures just above freezing to dig the last of the leeks, plant the garlic, mulch the raised beds. The next morning the thermometer was close to single digits and the chickens refused to leave their house all day. They haven't given us an egg since last Wednesday! a whole week ago! Poor birds are in the middle of their annual molt just when they need their feathers most.
It feels as if winter is in a hurry, and by a trick of the calendar, this year Thanksgiving is the earliest it can be. (And don't get me started on how soon the Christmas season is thrust upon us.) The relentlessness of pressure from the outside creates anxiety, confusion, helplessness.

It's time to shake it up folks. Time to apply the brakes and purposefully choose. To take deep breaths, stretch, eat well, notice, plot a course and steady on.

Help can be as near as your keyboard. Though virtual, the internet allows the forging of connections as real as blood and bone. I find great comfort and much needed light on dark days reading your instagram and blog postings, dear friends. You inspire, instruct, illuminate. Move me to look within, see with more clarity, move me to be a truer version of myself. To realign my compass.
Karen, of Sew and Sow Life in Vermont, posted a quote that has been resonating with me daily since reading it. Perhaps it will help you shift your attitude as well. Karen, thank you for so often saying just what I need to hear.

Sharing grace and magnifying joy and gratitude the power grows.
Can you feel it? The corporal power of shared grace and gratitude? I believe even the earth takes notice.