Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Beauty

~rose arbor~violets in a fairy ring~windblown nest~
"A nobler want of man is served by nature, namely, the love of Beauty.


~roll of fencing~bunny hole~flowers~


...The eye is the best of artists.

...And as the eye is the best composer, so light is the first of painters. There is no object so foul that intense light will not make beautiful.

And the stimulus it affords to the sense, and a sort of infinitude which it hath, like space and time, make all matter gay.


Even the corpse has its own beauty.

~a leaf is nestled in~cold bones~frozen needles~

...The influence of the forms and actions in nature, is so needful to man, that, in its lowest functions, it seems to lie on the confines of commodity and beauty.

~last year's blackberries~bursting fuschia~this year's juniper berries~

To the body and mind which have been cramped by noxious work or company, nature is medicinal and restores their tone.

~bunny tracks in the snow~dry land, blue sky~branches in the blue~

The tradesman, the attorney comes out of the din and craft of the street, and sees the sky and the woods, and is a man again. In their eternal calm, he finds himself. The health of the eye seems to demand a horizon. We are never tired, so long as we can see far enough."


~chicken coop corner~budded branches~old & new roses up the arbor~

Ralph Waldo Emerson - from Nature (in the chapter on 'Beauty')

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Giving Winter His Last Due...

~a cold lake in March~
Reluctance - by Robert Frost
Out through the fields and the woods
And over the walls I have wended;
I have climbed the hills of view
And looked at the world, and descended;
I have come by the highway home,
And lo, it is ended. The leaves are all dead on the ground,
Save those that the oak is keeping
To ravel them one by one
And let them go scraping and creeping
Out over the crusted snow,
When others are sleeping. ~winter leaves slower here, by the Lake in the frozen North~
And the dead leaves lie huddled and still,
No longer blown hither and thither;
The last long aster is gone;
The flowers of the witch-hazel wither;
The heart is still aching to seek,
But the feet question 'Whither?' Ah, when to the heart of man
Was it ever less than a treason
To go with the drift of things,
To yield with a grace to reason,
And bow and accept the end
Of a love or a season?

~a promise that the end of winter is finally here~
I promise you, when fall has finally ended each year, I am always ready to bow to winter. I relish the storms and the ice and snow, as they mean cozy nights by the fireside with mugs of hot coffee and cocoa, and warm friendly feelings inside with my family...but when the Spring Goddess finally comes on her fairy-feet to spread yellow and green and red shoots, I am there to sniff them, to pluck them, to drink them in. I fairly want to lie naked in the warming earth and let it just soak down to my bones. There is a different sort of ritual-feeling than what I give to Winter; Winter demands a compliance - a pushed down and in kind of feeling...which I am ready for when the circle of seasons come right down to it again.
But all the while the stiff, sullen Winter has been King, I have been worshipping a secret, warm goddess in my heart.
There was a wintry air, the last hard bits of the season stuck in the lake where we spent a few days of our Spring Break, so I honored it and took pictures of it and enjoyed what there was to enjoy in the lingering of that season there - giving Winter it's due. "Yes, Winter. You are great and mighty. Yes you are the King, you are harsh and subduing, oh mighty Cold One."
Here comes Spring...in all of her windy, clear blue days of sun and growth and chirping and...ALIVENESS.
This is the ancient Goddess of Spring...ancient Germans called her Ostara (this is where we get the name for the Christian holiday "Easter.") Do you see that she is always depicted with a hare, flowers and birds? She scatters warmth and newness on her people and they are so grateful for her coming. They've tired of broken backs under the harsh rule of Winter, and look forward to the coming of Ostara - bringer of light and life and sweetness, leaving bare footprints in the softening earth.
I welcome her with open arms! I honor Spring by planning my gardens, cleaning out the last of Winter's flustering from the corner of my fences, by learning how to make soap, and making sure I have bunches of bright flowers on my dinner table. I welcome her with my scrubbing and scouring, by draping tables with fresh linens, and sweeping clean my hearth. I bid her "Enter!" by listening to the snap of the sheets on the clothesline, noticing new green mint shoots, and marvelling at how bunnies create arches over their paths under the bushes.
I lay to rest the old season, and welcome the new. Each given its due in time, and, to use my buddy Bob's words:
Ah, when to the heart of man
Was it ever less than a treason
To go with the drift of things,
To yield with a grace to reason,
And bow and accept the end
Of a love or a season?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Together


Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.

Vincent Van Gogh
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
When I found these rocks with lines through them, I couldn't help but believe that it was what was INSIDE of them that caused them to want to line up, and be together...making something bigger than then they could do on their own...something that reached long, reached out, reached forward...something each one could not do on its own.
I was fascinated by how this rock was purple and rough with a thick creamy seam running through it, and that one was a dark green, smooth pebble with a tiny scar of white, and the other was a deep red, carefully contoured triangle with a perfectly straight line through and through...yet each end could touch, going somewhere.
These lake pebbles are every one of us: we each have something in our center, that is capable of reaching out to what is inside and running through ANY one standing next to us. If we would open our REAL EYES and see beyond color, race, religion, creed, education, age, economic status or any other outward condition, we could line up what is common, what is kindred, what is united, and what is true. There is ONE heartbeat that runs through all of us, through which we can hear and understand and appreciate each difference at the same time as we know we are a part of each other.
If you decide that you are not a part of any one else, you will never reach far. Standing alone and bundled within yourself, your heart will never grow. Seeing yourself as somehow superior and unattached to anyone who is different from you, makes you very small and alone.
One of these stones is small and alone by itself, but together, they can make a line reaching around the entire lake.
Which would you rather be?
Which will make our world a better place to live in?

tracks...

How sweet are these little bird tracks in the mud?
It was so cute, that I had to take a picture of them.
I'll share more pictures later - but my family and I are enjoying our Spring Break in the sunshine in our own backyard right now!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Second Day of Spring


I've decided to keep celebrating Spring today...hehe! I know just how ridiculous it sounds to say, "I whittled clothespins." I mean...really?! Why? Just buy some; they are cheap! I know, I know, I know, but I have gotten sooo much satisfaction out of making them! And they work so well. I made 6 more last night, so I have 9...it was great sitting by the fire last night, whittling over a basket. It was very restful and just a real simple pleasure. I'm taking a few days away from the computer, so I'll post again next week sometime. Thanks so much for reading!

Friday, March 20, 2009

On the First Day of Spring

I had mentioned that I wanted to try my hand at making some clothespins, do you remember?
But there was snow out the day I thought on it hard enough...today, NO SNOW, and it was warm enough for short-sleeves and I rolled up my pants!

This was my morning list, done before lunch:

let the chickens out

feed/water the chickens

start whole wheat bread

start cream whipping - make butter
fix the three clothes lines tight
hang out clothes
rake and pick up garbage that strews about after it is windy

pull up the last of the rebar in the garden (I had logs for garden edging and the rebar kept in place...no longer!)

begin marking out the big garden in the back


look at the greenhouse roof and decide if it is salvageable - it blew off in a very bad windstorm!

Make Clothespins



I can't believe how well they work! I took a piece of poplar (from my mom's house) that was about as big as two of my thumbs, and I quickly shaved off the bark (it is veeery easy on these green pieces like this) - I have something that is a cross between a boxcutter and a pocket knife. It folds up like a pocket knife, but has a boxcutter end...it works awesome for this. Then I took a hammer, and I stood my barkless piece up on end, and I tapped the knife into the end of the stick until it was halfway down to splitting the branch in two, then I was able to just pull it the rest of the way apart. Then I scored the pieces into thirds and broke them off, so that I had three pairs of matching sizes. Then I simply whittled the ends to look like clothespins, and went I went looking for some wire to wrap around the ends, I came across some beading wire I have, and I used that!! I tucked in the ends and snipped them off, and they WORK! It is a miracle! It took me probably 12-15 minutes all together to make 3 of them, so I hope to find another small stick I can whittle on and make a handful of them! wooohooo!! Talk about industrious, huh!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
My First Day of Spring has been glorious...

I signed my daughter up for Preschool next year - I can't hardly believe it!
Then I put her down for a nap, and that wasn't hard as the sky clouded up and it became windy, so it was a perfect afternoon for her nap.

I was insistent upon walking about and finding proof of spring today, and I had forgotten that I purchased this little garden statue last fall in an "end of the season" sale...I am glad I got her. She is beautiful.

Here is my PROOF that Spring is coming:
Hollyhocks popping up & Cherry Tree Buds poking out
Bulbs coming up here
And over here

And look...here, too...
When I was satisfied that Spring really had come, and I was glad down in my heart, I came in...as the wind began blowing me back through the door anyhow... And I decided to go through a set of books a friend gave me the other day. They are from 1974, and they are called "The Family Creative Workshop"- they are arranged alphabetically, and I pulled out "Boxes to Card Tricks" - inside, I was most interested in the section on Breadmaking - especially Sourdough Bread - and Caning Your Own Chair Seats, and the one on how to make Boxes. They are very well done, and even though they seem out of date, there are a lot of just simple, good old-fashioned projects and skills to know. I LOVE them! Besides full-color pictures and lots of how-to steps, there were 17th, 18th and 19th century woodcuts tucked in here and there.
I am a very happy girl today...thank you SUNSHINE!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Acceptance


I had to remind you of this yellow...
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Acceptance
When the spent sun throws up its rays on cloud
And goes down burning into the gulf below,
No voice in nature is heard to cry aloud
At what has happened. Birds, at least, must know
It is the change to darkness in the sky.
Murmuring something quiet in her breast,
One bird begins to close a faded eye;
Or overtaken too far from his nest,
Hurrying low above the grove, some waif
Swoops just in time to his remembered tree.
At most he thinks or twitters softly, "Safe!
Now let the night be dark for all of me.
Let the night be too dark for me to see
Into the future. Let what will be, be."
(Robert Frost)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I've been thinking on this, and how I've been reminded over and over again to be open to what comes next. To get it out of my head that I must KNOW what is going to happen so I'll be "ready." I was profoundly influenced by Anne Morrow Lindberg's book, "Gift from the Sea", and when she said that we should be like the beach...open and choiceless...I used that as a mantra...
open and choiceless
open and choiceless
open and choiceless
until I knew it never meant "be apathetic" or "just don't care what happens to yourself"
not "lazy and listless", not "blah and careless"
OPEN & CHOICELESS as the Beach...waiting for what treasures must come, as they do every moment from the waves. Accepting what comes as a GIFT, as something that is beautiful and though it is everchanging, it is GOOD.
While I've been "waiting" and trying to be "open and choiceless", I've been taking a good look at Nature, and studying her face. There is much to learn there. Nature is like the best "how-to" teacher; it has the best opportunities for metaphor, or anology. What I'm constantly amazed with is Nature's ability to just BE. When I walk in the woods, the juniper, the volcanic rock shelves, the sage, the birds, the bunnies, the deer, the hawks...they are just immersed in BE-ing. They give oxygen, or they take it. They live, or they die. They hunt, or are hunted. Not one of those things is negative, it just IS...they just are OPEN & CHOICELESS. Trusting, accepting that the day will bring, what the day will bring...a GIFT, a TREASURE.
The Gift I've been given lately, is that of Color. I don't ever use much color in anything. I use to fill up my home with pastels, then it was only browns and creams and turqouise, then I added dashes of red, and now, look at my creative corner...I've filled it with vibrant, brilliant, juicy colors...I'm loving it, and my soul is needing it, so I go with it and give myself that gift of color.
This painting I did will forever remind me of the terrible strength I have in my soul. I fly.
One of my wisest, dearest friends made that felted wool Chakra meditation hanging...I ADORE it.
I've hung a string of very brightly colored "Prosperity Hens" near my work area as well,
and my 7-day candle has a very bright Virgin Mary on it, reminding me that very generous, all-encompassing Divine Being loves me and wants to scoop me up like a Mother at every moment and say, "Just BE. Life is a gift, don't be sad. Don't cry. Life is beautiful. Open your eyes and see it."
And my yellow daffodils, which are like a vase full of smiles and mirth...I am LOVING them right now.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Nothing Gold Can Stay


Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

(Robert Frost)



Ol' Bob and I are like "this" (she crosses her fingers) - we observe and think deeply and come out with lines of words to express our observations and deep thoughts. I get what he is saying on a heart level. My husband and I were just talking about this very thing last night: the world is beautiful because people are here to notice it.

I think it doesn't matter whether you believe that God created the world in 7 miraculous days, or whether he set the ball in motion, or whether he gently molded each species over long periods of time, but there is one thing clear: it took PEOPLE, with their capacity to think, and observe, and reason and feel deeply about the world around them to make this world a beautiful place.

When the first person observed, noted and thought about the wonder of what makes a dragonfly actually fly, that was the same beautiful moment as it was when God formed that dragonfly. It was really created when someone noticed it.

There will never be a sunrise like the one that is happening at my house right this minute. The clouds will never light up quite like that again. The sun will never come through the trees in exactly the same configuration. And that sunrise doesn't really exist unless someone is here to notice it, rejoice in it, believe it is a beautiful, miraculous thing.

If we are created in the image of God, then we are here to create. One way we create beauty is by observing the moments, the intricacies, the light and dark of sunshine and shade, the one flake that will live for a moment then melt in my hand, memorize the stars, name the planets, find cures, determine why and how bees do what they do, plant trees and marvel at the work they do, think about our breath and how it goes in and fills our lungs and to watch a tiny baby curl and grasp with brand new fingers.

Life is a miracle!

Everyday, we should CREATE by taking time to literally smell the roses; no other rose will smell exactly the same.

We should live like children who are amazed at every moment by each new thing.

It is true that "nothing gold can stay", but the observation that my buddy Bob makes is that a different gold will come the next morning, and the next time the leaves are gold, and the next time and the next time and the next time, so that each time is different and precious and unique...CREATE by OBSERVING and being THANKFUL and feeling BLESSED to have been the one to see it, smell it, taste it, touch it and think about it.


video


Another GOLD this morning: I made BUTTER! Okay, it wasn't too hard, and you can do it just this morning for your toast if you wanted to. I put a pint of heavy whipping cream in the stand mixer and set it on low (if you set it on high, then when the buttermilk and the fat separate - which happens SUDDENLY - you'll get buttermilk splashed everywhere). It took about 15 - 20 minutes (it could take less time, it could take more time according to other directions I've read). And suddenly there was a hunk of pale yellow butter sitting in a pool of cloudy looking water - this is buttermilk. I saved it to make some buttermilk bread this week. A pint of cream made a big "handful" of butter, so that gives you a sort of measurement.

Then what you have to do is just to squeeze the butter and rinse it until the water comes out clear. If you leave any of the buttermilk behind, it will cause your butter to go rancid quick. I will use cheesecloth for this next time, as that would be easier to squeeze the butter with.

Then I added small dashes of salt and mixed it until I liked the flavor, and VIOLA! Butter!!!!! I'm on the lookout for an antique butter mold now - This is a simple joy that I could do every single day if I wanted to :)

Happy Creating!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Snow & Wood & Kitties


Yesterday there was rain, and it was fairly warm...today, there is snow and it keeps coming down...Grandmother Winter must still be fluffing her goosedown quilt...if you've never read this BEAUTIFUL children's book, you should! Find it here.


My girls are sitting inside their home comfortably...see the orangy glow from their eves? That is their heat lamp, I went out to the side of the shed that has our wood, and I heard them and they heard me, so I said, "Morning Girls!" and they, all four of them, began to cookle and urr (that is what they sound like, really.) I said, "I'll be back soon to feed you!"

I went back in and started a warm fire, and my kitty, Boo-Boo, was grateful. I lit a beeswax candle on the mantle, and poured a cup of steaming hot coffee, and watched the snow come down for awhile. I am not thrilled with it, as I've been wanting to plan my garden and put up stakes and things, but Mother Nature knows what she is doing, so I let it be and said to myself, well, it makes things cozy, that is for sure.
Then, I got out a book I hadn't looked at for a few months...a favorite...a present from my mom for my husband. My husband is a woodworker in his heart...wood is where is talents really shine.

I've wanted to make these old-looking clothes pins for a long time, and this time, I really studied the picture...this is NOT hard...look at them! I mean, how much easier could it get? I'm making me some this summer.
Then I saw this spoon and butter knife, and was in rapture...
And then I thought, I could make wooden spoons, and my dearest could make me this spoon rack...I ADORE IT! I just love old wood rubbed shiny from use like that. He could make one in two afternoons, I know him.

I could make the spoon just from these pictures. I am very visual, so the words would be a hindrance...besides, I want to live on the "edge"...yes, I'm going to make my own wooden spoon and be "edgy"...woohoo.
Looks like I need a chisel. I hope my husband has a chisel...looks like a scooped chisel. That might be more of a challenge.

My favorite band right now is Telling the Bees, and one of their songs is called "Wood" - I HIGHLY HIGHLY HIGHLY recommend them! Even if you just go to look at the drawings on their website, which are fabulous and done by a UK blogger that I am loving as well,
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
This snow is not stopping, but I must go out into it! We have places to go and people to see...I know how cold it would be, and the awful work it would take, but wouldn't it be lovely to go into town with a horse-drawn cart, with hot potatoes in your pockets and woolen scarves tied around your head...maybe for one day before I was tired of it...

Sunday, March 15, 2009

a Prayer...


O great intelligent Being! hidden and existing in and for the universe, You can hear me because You are within me and You can see me because You are all-seeing; please drop within my soul a seed of Your wisdom to grow a sapling in Your forest and to give of Your fruit. Amen!
(Kahlil Gibran ~ Mirrors of the Soul)

Saturday, March 14, 2009

I had to share...

My favorite place to shop for groceries is Trader Joe's.

If you've never been to one, you are missing out! There aren't a ton of choices, but the choices that are there are all so yummy, and quality and inexpensive!! I am always in awe and shock about how many groceries I can get for so little there, and it is like this family atmosphere, and everything always is so fresh and fun looking...just my absolute favorite grocery shopping experience, hands-down!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Tuft of Flowers

I went to turn the grass once after one
Who mowed it in the dew before the sun.
The dew was gone that made his blade so keen
Before I came to view the leveled scene.
I looked for him behind an isle of trees;
I listened for his whetstone on the breeze.
But he had gone his way, the grass all mown,
And I must be, as he had been - alone,
"As all must be," I said within my heart,
"Whether they work together or apart."
But as I said it, swift there passed me by
On noiseless wings a bewildered butterfly,

Seeking with memories grown dim o'er night
Some resting flower of yesterday's delight.
And once I marked his flight go round and round,
As where some flower lay withering on the ground.
And then he flew as far as eye could see,
And then on tremulous wing came back to me.

I thought of questions that have no reply,
And would have turned to toss the grass to dry;
But he turned first, and led my eye to look
At a tall tuft of flowers beside a brook,
a leaping tongue of bloom the scythe had spared
Beside a reedy brook the scythe had bared.
The mower in the dew had loved them thus,
By leaving them to flourish, not for us,
Nor yet to draw one thought of ours to him,
But from sheer morning gladness at the brim.

The butterfly and I had lit upon,
Nevertheless, a message from the dawn,
That made me hear the wakening birds around,
And hear his long scythe whispering to the ground,
And feel a spirit kindred to my own;
So that henceforth I worked no more alone;
But glad with him, I worked as with his aid,
And weary, sought at noon with him the shade;
And dreaming, as it were, held brotherly speech
With one whose thought I had not hoped to reach.
"Men work together," I told him from the heart,
"Whether they work together or apart."
~Robert Frost~
My MOST FAVORITEST POET of ALL TIME!!
I needed a little color and a little flower today, and I found them both AND refound a favorite poem that has gladdened my heart so many times in the past, so am sharing them with you!




Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Having a child-like heart

Keep me away from the wisdom which does not cry,

the philosophy which does not laugh,



and the greatness which does not bow

before children.

*Kahlil Gibran Mirrors of the Soul*