Sunday, December 25, 2016

love an joy come to you

Pausing to send a note to each of you.
We share so much that is precious. And sharing it guarantees it will be there for all of us.
Poised as we are before the new year, nearing the end of the old, our attention is tempted by demands and distractions.
I plan to pause often for cleansing breaths, deep stretches, and gathering of gratitude.
Each of you are a good bit of what I am grateful for.
love to each of you, this day, and each new day.

Monday, December 19, 2016

the visitor

I am slowly coming to the realization that my insomnia may not be so much a burden as an opportunity. When awake in the deep of night there are so many sights and sounds that pass unnoticed during slumber.
One such sound has been the frequent calls of owls in the trees on this side of our road and in the woods across it. Unless they are just outside the window owl calls are quiet enough not to disturb sleep. Being awake they are unmistakeable. The wonderful website of Cornell University has helped me to identify my night callers as Great Horned Owls. This autumn there have been frequent duets which caused me to hope there might soon be a family, and then perhaps a community of owls right here on my ridge.
Friday late morning, as the approaching storm was beginning to blow new snow across the gardens, I was called to the first floor porch by an agitated group of chickadees, flying in under the upper deck, hovering near the windows of the kitchen, dining room, and back door. Clearly behavior out of the ordinary.
A few feet from the back door we have a mobile of buffalo hanging. This is a favorite perch of barn swallows in the early summer as they search under the upstairs decking for a possible nesting site. From time to time other birds will perch there, but not often. Hmmm, something was going on. Then I noticed this little fellow ....

Each of these photos was taken through the kitchen window so not always very sharp. And as I didn't want to cause the little one any anxiety, I was trying to be stealthy with my camera.

After a time the chickadees gave up their warning tactics and moved on. And the little one remained.

Puffed up against the deepening cold, he was in no hurry to move along himself.

Since this is the most direct route out of the house to the chicken yard, we needed to go through it, but didn't want to disturb our guest. Very slowly, quietly, we slipped out and back in again and though he turned his head a bit, he did not move away.

By late afternoon he stretched and readjusted his hold on the lantern.

Here he is stretched to the max as I'm on the porch looking up to him.

And then, about 4:00, while moving out of the house with water for the chicks, he disappeared before either of us was able to see him take flight. He sat there about 5 hours. During that time I alternately looked for information about owls online and watched in awe from the window. I worried he may not be able to find his way back to his nest if this was one of his early sojourns on his own. I am not sure what type of owl this is, how old, how unusual such behavior might be. If you know, I'd appreciate your telling me.
Since then I've  looked to the lantern several times a day, missing our little visitor and hoping for his safety.
This morning I heard the owls calling as I moved restlessly about the house hours before dawn. A deep warmth began to spread within. After climbing the stairs back to bed I stopped at the upstairs sliders and looked out at the night, stars brilliant, snow intensifying the brightness allowing me to see clearly across the landscape. I had received a benediction. And a reminder to accept the gifts as they present themselves.

Friday, December 16, 2016

week of Advent III and "the weather outside is frightful..."

Well, as of this post, it's not so bad. 10 degrees, almost no wind, about a half foot of snow on the ground, soft flurries falling. Predictions have cancelled Jerome's weekend trip for some father son time with Phil in IL, my monthly meeting in Decorah at Red Roxy, and even our dinner in town tonight with Anne and Matthias. Yesterday coming home from town Jerome's car slid off the road into deep snow and though before we knew it a kindly (anonymous) passerby pulled us out, it reminded us how easily things can go wrong. With the possibility of 10 new inches of blowing snow and temps dropping to 18 below Saturday night, we're nesting in.
Speaking of nesting... I do worry about the chickens in such deep cold, but our senior birds have handled it well in the past and those that are just a year and a half should be able to, especially now that their feathers are almost all regrown. We bundle up and go out to check on them several times a day, getting brief exercise for ourselves and bringing them extra rations that can help them raise their body heat.

There aren't many eggs right now but we need to check for them before they freeze. Sometimes the girls will sit on their eggs for a while after laying them, or others will hop up to take a turn contemplating whether to lay one too. But we can't always rely on that. And of course their water will freeze so we need to replace that regularly.
Jerome did take his tractors out a bit earlier this week. A chilly ride.

Our indoor garden brings much joy. 8 lovely geranium plants, heavily pruned and tucked into new pots in October, have leafed out well and are in bud and bloom. They reside on a baker's rack in the sunroom that is Jerome's office. So cheerful, especially as seen against the view right outside the sliders.

When I sent my amaryllis bulbs into hibernation in September, they had a few babies attached. I knocked them out of their old pots, pulled off the baby bulbs, and replanted each in clean pots and new soil. They got their first watering recently to nudge them into new growth and the miracle of new life has touched each of them.
Dovey and Mya know just how to handle these winter days. If there's no sun to absorb, a cozy rocking chair or blanket covered love seat will do.

My Bernina and I have just a few little things to finish. I enjoyed making cardinal placemats for Mary, my sister who collects all things cardinal.

Before Christmas gifts became the priority, I had been working on barn quilt placemats for our antique library farm table. This is the first. The panel contained a dozen various barns. I've chosen a half dozen barns and fabrics and quilt blocks to go with each. After piecing they'll each be quilted.

I've also been happily working on my quilt guild's project for this year, personal round robins. We were instructed to begin with a center block any size or shape. Then at 5 of our monthly meetings this year 2 border techniques will be drawn from a hat. We can choose one or the other or both to add each month. We receive instructions for making the blocks chosen and these too can be done in any way we choose. I want to learn all the techniques so I am doing two quilt tops. Here are my beginnings.

Above is a paper pieced pineapple block with a 9 patch checkerboard border. The plain thin borders between help with the math needed to fit things as they develop.

This second is an 8 point star. My very first. I made it following the instructions given by Edyta Sitar of Laundry Basket Quilts. Here is a YouTube of her tutorial. My star's not perfect, but I'm very happy with it. So far no outer pieced border, just this black coping border that I will cut down to help me fit the chevron border that will go next. I had such good momentum going before I had to pause for Christmas gifts. Can't wait to get back to them again in the new year.
The public library in Coon Valley has a remarkable librarian who hosts evening events of all sorts. Recently I attended a needle felting class where I learned to make a nisse, a mischievous domestic sprite. I love how he turned out, though I would make his cap a bit shorter next time!  As is, he looks a bit like a Christmas tree. He's made out of wool rovings and a few whisps of an old Santa beard. I am particularly fond of his nose.

I really enjoy decorating this old farmhouse for Christmas. Each day I add a bit more. Jerome took me out for lunch and some antique shop hopping where we found a few treasures. This little beanie baby reminds me so much of Winnie. He just had to come home with me.

How could he spend Christmas without a family?
Hope each of you will find some measure of quiet and peace in these hectic final days of 2016. Blessings on your endeavors. Be safe. Be of good cheer.

Monday, November 28, 2016

prepare ye

At this time of year it is so easy to be caught up into the rush. Especially this morning, cyber Monday. My mailbox is blasting me with lures to shop and save, save, save.
Do you feel up to your neck yet?

Yesterday was the first Sunday of Advent and this season of preparation offers a remedy.
Reflect. Anticipate. Prepare.
"There is more to life than increasing its speed." If ever there was a time to slow down it's now.

A part of every day there should be time to breathe, stretch, meditate. And every day find gratitude and joy to keep your inner flame aglow.
If you are reading this you should know that I am grateful for your stopping here and send my thanks.
In the days ahead, take good care of yourself.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

clarity in the fog

I'd lost track of a practice that I've recently learned to embrace once again.
Breath work and meditation. 

I know it looks as if I'm napping, and I think perhaps Jerome thought I was as he snuck around taking snaps of his girls snuggled together in the sunlight. In truth I was doing my controlled breathing followed by a meditation that moves chi through your chakras. It is both energizing and cleansing and the movement of the energy nearly always attracts the cats. 
It's all too easy to pass through a day and not make time for the most important bits. To love your neighbor as yourself implies that you love yourself first. I think this means you must be in touch with yourself to really be able to connect to those around you. 
A remarkable example of this can be found on Anne's blog today. Despite the challenges in her personal life since the opening of 2016, she has courageously and steadfastly sought her inner journey and by doing so has been able to give so much to so many. Please take time to read her post soon. You've so much to gain by it. 
Love you, Anne. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

choosing the light

Words fail.
Instead I share with you graces that bring their healing energy to my depleted soul:

a mini bouquet of Cherokee Spirit echinacea

a handful of late season greens

We have our work cut out for us now. Find strength in daily miracles. Move towards the light.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Way to go Cubs!

For the first six years of my life I lived two blocks from Wrigley Field, 1169 Eddy Street. I grew up being able to hear Pat Piper announce the games, from the opening lineup of each team, to the final out. I knew every player, his position, his batting average. My Dad was their biggest fan.

Celebrate wisely, Chicago.

Sunday, October 23, 2016


Have you ever lifted a turtle from the lake and brought it to shore to have a bit of a conversation before setting it down on the ground? No matter how often you try to divert its course it will turn back to the water. The earth is doing this now, despite the intervention of soft mild days, the drive of the seasons is pulling all of us, flora and fauna, forward.
There are those moments between, however. Late blooming flowers, gems in the form of raspberries, spinach and kale and onion greens. Monarchs that seem in no hurry.
But there are unmistakeable signs. Squirrels in a panic, entire species of birds now gone, others now wearing winter hues, such as the wee one pictured above who became confused by the clear day and stunned itself on the upstairs sliders.
And the light. The amazing day, by night.
The mammal me needs to admit these truths and allow them to work their earthly influence. The spiritual me, by recognizing the particular blessings and graces abundant only now, is strengthened and uplifted by them. This feast is offered only now. Tuck in. Enjoy.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016


just now autumn is satisfying this hungry spirit in so many ways.
the sun shines
the breezes caress
the fields and woods sigh in colors they've kept to themselves all summer

days like these absolve the soul of inadequacies and missed opportunities
dreams seem possible
it's easy to breathe
wish i could weave it all into a shawl to pull around me on cold dark days

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

400 postings, nearly 6 years

Thank you dear friends for visiting me and leaving your much appreciated comments.  Even without commenting your company through this window leaves behind a bit of your light, and my life is brighter because of each of you.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

heavy times

The driftless region we call home is a stunningly beautiful landscape of ridges and valleys. Not far from
us the Wisconsin River meets the Mississippi. Closer to home the local rivers and their feeder streams with names like Kickapoo, Bad Axe, and Seas Branch wind their ways around our communities.
Perhaps you've heard of the September rains, notably those of this past week, that have caused such trouble in our neck of the woods.
Think positive thoughts on our behalf. Direct your healing energies this way. Bless you for doing so.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

cortland apples

The only fruit tree on our property when we purchased it was a lone mature cortland apple. That first autumn there weren't many apples. We picked a few with our long handled apple picker but my memory of the crop is foggy.
Each year but one since then the tree has produced a bumper crop. Or so we thought until this year. Many of my neighbors are saying that their produce is ripening earlier this year than in most years. That seems to be true of the apples as well. We've had heat and abundant moisture. (Almost too much rain for the sweet corn crop.) Here on our ridge top meadow the apples have been falling, branches hanging so low we duck under them going to the chicken yard. It seems a shame to waste such bounty. We'd given more than 10  5 gallon pails to our neighbors and had given the split or pecked apples to the chickens. We'd eaten a few. We've made some juice. But what we needed was to find a way to share in a big way.
Our Amish friends had taken apples in past years but they had trees of their own. This summer their trees hadn't faired well. I brought them 6  5 gallon pails of apples on Tuesday and invited them to come this week to get more. On Wednesday they arrived… Eli, Lovina and their 3 daughters. (the 5 boys stayed at home to do chores as they often had the opportunity to come out to our place when their dad did chores here and Lovina felt it was the girls' turn.) Picking was slow so I suggested Eli shake the tree. Wahoo, that did it. Here is what they were able to take away after one short morning.

a view into the buggy between front and back seats (there were even pails on the floor of the front seat)

the entire bottom of the buggy is full of apples with bags and boxes perched on top

While we shared a lunch together indoors, Randy and Pearl enjoyed the sweet clover in our eastern meadow.
The weather was perfection and our apple endeavor and shared meal were a gift to us all.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

6th anniversary

It was a picture perfect day across the midwest. A caravan of three cars and two trucks made its way northwest for a distance of close to 240 miles. An optimistic beginning for a journey much longer than the miles would suggest.
Our ridge meadow acres have changed but no more so than ourselves. Growth is unpredictable, nonlinear, and not without pain. Growth is life.

There is so much to be grateful for, to find joyful. Grace is truly abundant.
Should you still be pacing around the edges of a leap of faith, let me encourage you to spring forward.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

sweetness and surprises

Each summer I invite something new into one of my gardens. Stevia made its debut this season. Despite being more than a bit crowded by its herbal neighbors, it became a stocky little shrub. The branches you see below are some of the harvest, resting indoors after a shower. The leaves are headed for the dehydrator.

Despite daily walkabouts there are still plants that like to pop up and surprise me. Sometimes it's those closest to the back door.

Here is an unexpected gift from one of the amaryllis plants summering on the back deck. As it had bloomed a remarkable 4 times last year, and did not produce a bloom this year, I had expected that it was taking a year off.


Wednesday, August 3, 2016

high summer

No, I've not been on holiday. Just living life each day:

according to the weather

the garden

friends and family

sharing garden bounty with the flock each day

always on the lookout for wildlife …these tiny ones make it hard to mow without worry

a surprise visit by both Jerome's brothers who road their motorcycles to see us but learned to love a slower mode of transport

absolutely ridiculous rains at the third tournament of the season

but still a successful outing

Lately we've been farm sitting for our neighbors.

Life is full.