Tuesday, March 24, 2009


I spent the day with Sacha.  We have been doing basic ground work in preparation for her future as my work partner, my shoulder to lean on.  I plan on ground training her this summer so that we can harvest some of the fallen trees off the land for our outdoor wood boiler.  She plays a part in my dream to wean our family off of petroleum....I also have fantasies of her pulling us through the snow in a one horse open sleigh, hey!  Maybe even hauling the buckets of maple sap back to the barn?  I have a million ideas not to mention all that compost-able black gold.  But for now it is the quiet work, the bonding that is important.  She is a little reluctant to work because of her long winter's nap.  She came to us in December and I was so caught up with the holidays and my health issues that she spent all that time eating, walking and getting tons of treats.  So, needless to say, sassy girl is a little spoiled.  She is responding well to my training, walking quietly, stopping on command, backing up and just learning to be patient.    We love her, she acts like a big, lovable, playful dog. 

Digging through my old homeschool papers I found this poem.  It just fits my life right now, what a gift it was to find it today.  I am always in awe of how the perfect inspiration appears at just the right moment, my heart was open to the message and it touched me deeply.  Thanks Kelly.

"Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart
And try to love the questions themselves
Do not seek the answers that cannot be given you
Because you would not be able to live them,
And the point is to live everything.
Live the questions now
Perhaps you will gradually, without noticing it
Live along some distant day into the answers."

R.M. Rilke


Sunday, March 22, 2009

Sit spot

Reading through my latest issue of Permaculture Activist I was inspired by an article highlighting a great blog.  The blog is written by a homesteader named Amanda.  She describes her family's journey toward a more sustainable life in the Mattole River Watershed in coastal northern California.  Her description of the site of her yurt and her homestead reminded me of our camping trips up the coast of California into Oregon.  One year in the misty, cool of late autumn we spent a few days of our trip camping along the Russian River.  It was one of the most magical spots we found, our son was young and the world along the river was alive with animals and the season's change.  We talked until late around the camp fire of our dreams of living closer to the land.  We wanted to find a spot we could call home, put down roots, grow our own food and use our hands to do the work.  We wanted to have that feeling of the earth close to our body, breathing in the soil, feeling the power against our chest, sleeping in the embrace of the earth, for better or worse, every day not just when we were on holiday.

Amanda inspired me to find a sit spot.  A sit spot is a place to go everyday to connect with the natural world around you, to feel the world instead of just see it with your eyes.  She learned about it from a self-guided curriculum called Kamana, a path to becoming a naturalist.  It is a home study wilderness awareness program.   So, your sit spot is a place to go to sit in awareness with the world, to learn.  I imagined that it could remotely reflect the habits of early woman.  Living closer to the natural world.  I could picture her leaving her shelter to greet the day, starting a fire to cook or gather food for her family.  Entering the world around her from the same portal every day.  She would have an intimate knowledge of her landscape in various seasons and her home in various states of evolution.  She would know the position of the sun at sunrise, the life cycle of the trees in every season, the animals that pass her home in the night, and the smell of the air in the sunlight.  These things she would have learned early in her life and would not be taken for granted.  She would know how to live in the world, how to survive and to be of the world.  I realize that we have forgotten more than we have learned over these many thousands of years...our medicine is better but I think it is just keeping up with the toxins we are dumping into our habitat.

I walk in the world every day but I think it would be a deeper practice for me to sit in the same spot, find my breath, open my eyes wider and feel the world with my heart - in silence.  I know just the place.  Namaste.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Spring is in the air...

I sat in front of my iMac last night typing away about Permaculture and home grown food canned, dehydrated and stored in cute little jars for consumption throughout the year but my satellite failed me and I lost it all.  Oh well, it was like the written letter that you crumble and release to the universe.  The thoughts weren't lost on me.

So, instead this morning after a long, healing sleep I awoke to bright, warm sunshine.  We actually have the chicken coop open and I can hear Rex cock-a-doodle-dooing across the yard.  Spring is coming. I spent some of the morning reading some of my fave blogs and saw the boxes made by the Angry Chicken.  I was reminded of my jewelry box.  It is a gift to myself, every detail lovingly made with me in mind even down to the inscription on the back.  I love the picture of the pink faded baby shoes on the top of the box.  They remind me of the tiny pink baby shoes my mom saved for me all these long years.  They represent my life, to me anyway, the innocence of a little girl now grown. I just want to honor that little girl, embrace that innocence and not let the blossom fade in the light of reality or illness....I covered the entire lid of the box in local mica chips.  Another reason I love the bare ground, I find mica flakes every morning on my walk.  I think the mica chips make the box look old and faded.  I usually make these boxes and give them away, but this time the box was a memento of my journey through brain surgery.  So, here I am, sitting in front of the window listening to James Hunter and watching the snow melt.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A snow covered hollow

My sweet husband walks our dog, Jack, every morning down the hollow.  Six new inches of snow fell the other day and covered us once again in magic.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


To help lift my mood I pulled one of my old homemaking books off of the shelf and wanted to share some of the fun.  The book is called "The New First Course in Homemaking" by Maude Richman Calvert published in 1932.  It was a Duval County, Florida schoolbook and belonged to Mary Jane Quarrier in 1938.  In today's economy maybe more of us would be willing to repair instead of replace, buy less, reuse and at the same time help to heal our planet.

     "How to Darn. Darning is the replacing of worn material with a weaving stitch and is one of the very best methods of repairing stockings, sweaters, and all kinds of knit goods.  The thread should match the material in the garment as nearly as possible, both in color and kind.  A needle that is too large will cause the weaving to be too loose and conspicuous in appearance.
     In darning stockings trim away the ragged edges around the hole.  Strengthen the weakened places by weaving the darning thread in and out to add thickness.  Begin the weaving a few stitches to the side of the hole; then, when the hole is reached, weave in and out below the hole, carry the thread across to the opposite side of the hole, and weave in a few more stitches.  Have the thread go into the cloth on the right side once and on the wrong side the next time so that no raw edge will show.  Continue until the hole is covered with threads, then weave in and out of the material on the sides to strengthen them.  You are now ready  to fill in threads going in the opposite direction.  Weave in and out of the material next to the hole as before.  Inside the hole go over one thread and under one across to the opposite side.  Continue in this manner until the hole has been filled in.  Be careful not to draw the threads enough to pucker them.  Always match the color of the stockings with the thread that is used.  Use two strands of darning cotton for heavy cotton hosiery, and one strand for thin cotton stockings.  Use silk darning thread for silk hose, and yarn for woolen hose." (p. 300)

And of course, if you want to keep your things nice, ask yourself...
"Do you hang your clothes on clothes hangers?  Do you brush and air your clothes often?  Do you know how to press your clothes?  Do you have a closet in your room?  Do you know how to store your clothes?  Do you give your shoes the proper care?  Are your rubbers ready for use? Do you keep your stockings clean?  Do you sometimes dust your hats?  Are your gloves clean and mended?  Do you know how to remove spots and stains from your clothing?  Do you know how to launder your clothes?"  

     All the tips to those questions are neatly answered in the pages of this lovely little book. What a fun way to spend a cold day indoors.  I have been dreaming about organizing my sewing and laundry room all day.   It all started with Sarah Josepha Hale and Godey's Lady's Book.  I am completely hooked and have quite a wonderful collection of old homemaking books and cookbooks on my shelf.  I love the tips, the fashion, the recipes, the feminine voices from the past. I guess I have that gene that loves all things old.  I pour over books from the colonial days, books about farming in the past, cooking, preserving, sewing, and especially laundry, all of it, any of it.  I love good old elbow grease, vinegar and baking soda.  I just love the work.  I find all of it deeply satisfying, even the mundane.  It is all a part of the peace I get from living in my home, it is so Benedictine...the zen of homemaking.   I enjoy reaping the harvest of my own labor, that is why I love growing my own food and running my laundry through the ringer.  I am exactly where I have always dreamed I would be....


    Sleep, the magical medicine of my despair.  With sleep I feel peaceful.  The doctor finally called after three days, Sudafed, thank you.  I can finally take OTC meds to help me breathe, if that doesn't work it is back to the doctor.  Infection is always a fear, spinal meningitis, scary words.  I can't even touch my nose, it feels like someone hit me with a hammer, it is a very strange feeling.  My palate is completely numb, I have lost my ability to taste and have a very limited sense of smell.  Cooking is a challenge.  Despite my pain and inability to breathe through my nose I was finally able to sleep.  This morning was a gift.  The sun is shining on the snow, lighting everything in this frozen landscape but it is warm and cozy in here behind the glass.  The land, the trees all reflecting an intense brightness.  I wanted to get back to the beginning again, the strength that got me through the early days of February.  I felt a little like my fingers were gripping the edge and failing me, I almost wanted to fall down into the whirlwind of self-pity.  I still had one hand holding fast, I was drawn up towards the reflections and here I am.  Not breathing but so grateful for my life.  Each day is truly a gift.  Since I can't do anything really, I sit quietly reading in the background as my family goes on about their day. Sometimes I feel like a ghost, sometimes I feel like a reflective observer, the audience to their stories, their laughter, their work.  I have a wonderfully beautiful family, their voices are a comfort to me, they smile, they care for me, they worry, what more could I hope for?  I am truly blessed.
     The spring before I conceived my joy I went to Vipassana for ten days of deep meditation.  I took a vow of silence.  That was the greatest gift I ever gave myself, the power of silence.  After a few days I could truly hear.  My mind was quiet, I could listen and hear a singular voice.  I was deeply aware of breath.  On the tenth day I didn't want to talk again, I wanted to continue the journey.  It was like walking out of a misty, warm forest into a clearing.  My family was there waiting to see me again, to hear how I felt, to recognize me.  That was the turning point, my son was conceived that fall and I was ready, I was more grounded, more quiet.   I always wanted to set aside one day a week so that we could all practice silence, no talking, no technology, no work for even just a few hours.  That is what this is like now, my silence.   I sit, anapana, grateful for breath, and healing.

Monday, March 2, 2009

One-thirty in the a.m.

Here I am up at one-thirty in the morning sitting in the living room in front of the screen.  I never have trouble sleeping.  Today was one of my worst days at home.  I feel like I am fighting what Churchill called the Black Dog.  Pain and paranoia on the weekend make for a dangerous cocktail, can't call my doctor, is this pain normal?  It isn't like it is my leg or my arm, damn it, it's in my skull, inside of my head.  Is the pain part of the healing? Is the pain part of the problem?

The Black Dog is barking.   I can't do anything, I can't lift anything, clean anything, carry anything, bend over, sneeze too hard, blow my nose, take any medications, I feel like I am suffocating.  I can't taste, I can't smell....I keep my head above water by reminding myself that I don't have a hole in my head.  I guess I could rest easier if I knew this pain was "normal", to be expected.  So I lie there quietly, breathing.  "o.k. nose, heal, relax, white blood cells do your job, fight the infection, I am good at healing, I am strong, I am healthy, I am here.  We need each other, we can heal, breathe in the light, exhale the dog, exhale the fear, exhale the anxiety, exhale the hopelessness, inhale the life, inhale the hope, inhale the love...."  I have been going on for hours, I still can't breathe and I am being honest about it.  I got up, I sat up, I turned to words to to let the dog out. 

I had another tornado dream.  Tornados terrify me more than anything.  I watched from my window as a pitch black cloud with 4 or 5 skinny funnels moved quickly over my house and I didn't run.  I sat there scared but talking, I closed the windows, I watched.  I usually scream in my dreams, run, hide, tremble, sweat but not this time.  Fear doesn't scare me now.  The tornado passed over me.  That was a first.  So, despite the pain, the paranoia I am getting better at getting better.  I am loosening my grip.  I can breathe a little better now, I am sitting upright. I think I will sleep sitting up tonight, any of this is better than the alternative.  Thanks for listening.....I wish I could phone but every one is asleep.