Saturday, January 31, 2015

A New England Yarn Journey

Our family has been working toward being more aware of the food we eat - choosing local and organic when possible. In addition, we are creating nutrient rich soil and planting and growing more of our own each year.

I want to transfer these same principles to my work with fiber.    I have found it becoming too easy for me  to buy inexpensive yarn and to buy more than I actually need.  Instead, I would like to purchase and create with yarn that is ethically raised, uses no to few harmful chemicals, supports small family businesses, and is local if possible.  

Thus, I am embarking on a New England yarn journey where I am going to learn about small farms in New England that raise a flock of sheep or other fiber animals and sell their fiber.

I am looking forward to the connections I might make and the feeling of knitting and creating with fiber that meets most of these criteria.

I hope you will join me as share this new creative path.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

A New Birch Fence Around the Wood Stove

Our previous fence had been made of upcycled room dividers and they were beginning to show their five years of use.

Using birch gathered from the edge of fields and some screws we had on hand, Mike made this the other afternoon.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Around Here

Upstairs ::
Sarah is working on her bedroom.  She wants a space to call her own.

In the kitchen ::
cupcakes, our daily egg or two (can't wait for spring for more), and making onion garlic soup

By the wood stove ::
A new nook for knitting
On the needles - a Lady Kina and another Claret Cowl

Outside the Kitchen Window ::
the chicken coop on a beautiful winter day

Monday, January 19, 2015

Love Your Enemies

"Probably no admonition of Jesus has been more difficult to follow than the command to "love your enemies."  Some men have sincerely felt that its actual practice is not possible.  It is easy, they say, to love those who love you, but how can one love those who openly and insidiously seek to defeat you?  Others, like philosopher Nietzsche, contend that Jesus' exhortation to love one's enemies is testimony to the fact that the Christian ethic is designed for the weak and cowardly, and not for the strong and courageous.  Jesus, they say, was an impractical idealist.

In spite of these insistent questions and persistent objections, this command of Jesus challenges us with new urgency.  Upheaval after upheaval has reminded us that modern man is traveling along a road called hate, in a journey that will bring us to destruction and damnation.  Far from being the pious injunction of a Utopian dreamer, the command to love one's enemy is an absolute necessity for our survival.  Love even for enemies is the key to the solution of the problem of our world.  Jesus is not an impractical idealist; he is the practical realist."

from Strength to Love by Martin Luther King, Jr.  - published in 1963

Friday, January 16, 2015


Our oldest, Thomas, turned 21 yesterday.
And how amazingly blessed did I feel to have he and his fiance, Sam, here as well as our next oldest son, Nolan, and his wife, Rachel.  

To have Thomas attending all four years of college just 35 minutes away (he has an apartment on campus) has been such a gift that I will always be grateful for -  the extra time together.

And, believe it or not, he shared his very first beer with his father, but could not stand the taste and had just a few sips.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Today :: Inside and Outside

Now that I have about half of my life left to live (at least I hope so), I am letting go of expectations and embracing more of the moments that make up living.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

In the Depths of Winter

Another cold snap is upon us - it is minus 6 degrees F. today but the sunshine and blue sky are so beautiful.

With the extreme cold, though, comes a bit of exhaustion because with a wood stove to heat our mostly not insulated home, we gather around our heat source for much of the day and dress in many layers, yet our bodies still work hard to stay warm.

I think, though, there is something so inherently human and raw in experiencing these challenges.  I know we are on constant alert - alert to the rising or falling temperature within the house, frequently checking the wood stove, going outside every 2 - 3 hours to break and fill the animals' waters, brining in more firewood, preparing warm, hearty, nourishing food.

Yet there is also a feeling of coziness - of cuddling up under blankets, reading aloud, and drinking tea.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Just Some More Thoughts

I don't like offending people and I am sorry if I  did.  I always hesitate to write about more serious topics here as I don't like getting people upset but I really do enjoy intellectual discussion and that usually involves considering different points of view which too often leads to people taking offense.   I know there are really amazing teachers out there (my mom was one of them) that are doing their best to work within the system.

Within the confines of some basic truths to live by - love being the cornerstone as taught in the Bible and also in almost all religions - it is our duty as humans to honor each child in their full uniqueness so that they are able to flourish and share their gifts with others as they grow and thrive which of course, only happens in the most optimum settings.  (I acknowledge fully that I fail daily as a parent in this but ask for forgiveness and strive to improve - like trying to figure out how Minecraft fits within our children's lives, for example, without being judgmental and uncaring.)

Children are better able to develop and flourish within this loving environment when there is not a strict base line of comparison.  Yes there are developmental milestones that we strive for - both physically and emotionally - for our children and ourselves, but these shouldn't have specific boundaries.  One child may speak fluently at age 5 another at age 2.

So when I speak of the "system" I do often speak with some negativity because within most of our systems are forms of measurement and comparison with very little support for developing the unique qualities and gifts within each individual.

Just two weeks ago, within two days I heard two stories from parents relating how the school system dealt with their children's behavioral issues.  One boy, a highschool freshman, was disciplined by not being allowed to participate in any sports at all.  His one love is sports and he is very good at them.   Another boy, age 10, was acting out in the classroom and the teacher did not let this  boy attend art that day as this was his favorite class.  I understand the need for order, but it would seem that instead of being compassionate and working out why the behaviors are happening in the first place, the teachers are breeding anger.  Of course, the traditional school setting is probably not the right place for either of those boys as it is not taking the time to figure out what makes them thrive.

The system is one of competition and encourages children and adults to put themselves first.  This may often lead to greed, envy, and ambition instead of a society of compassionate people that honor each other's unique choices and strengths.  I remember in third grade our teacher promised to take the first student that could get 100 multiplication problems correct in the minute speed drill, she would take them out for an icecream sundae.  I remember working so hard at that and I was the first and I did go out for an icecream.  Nowhere do I remember thinking about how that made the other students feel.

So let's strive to be compassionate - to always treat others as we wish to be treated.  If the "system" doesn't honor this basic principle then let's fix it but in the meantime as parents and citizens we need to do something about the anger, frustration and hopelessness the system produces in those that don't fit in and the lack of compassion that it breeds in those that do fit in.

(Please note that I am writing in generalizations  and I am sure there are wonderful examples out there that we can learn from.  Also, I am working on my writing abilities and have a long way to go so I apologize if it isn't all that cohesive.)

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Climate Controlled

It is about 10:00 am.  Just came in from the still frozen day - the temperature has gone up from 24 below zero to about 5 below.  The animals' water frozen solid after just two hours.   Everyone made it through the night, I don't know how they do it, but they do.  I gave the goats a little more hay, as I imagine their bodies have to work harder to stay warm.  I know mine does.
Being outside for just ten minutes, feeling the raw cold against the small part of my face exposed.   Feeling the insides of my nostrils freeze and hearing the squeeking of the snow as I walk.  
As I go about topping of the frozen water buckets with hot water, I am thankful to be able to feel this extreme and to appreciate the power of nature.

These thoughts lead me my annoyance yesterday which really probably shouldn't be but was.  Yesterday we received a letter that Emmy is now preschool age (she is 3) and there will be an upcoming meeting for us to attend and then later that evening the school principal left a message on our phone informing us of the same.  Now I don't think there is anything wrong with preschool in and of itself.  But what I do think is wrong is centralized government funded education.  And what I also think is wrong is people just doing something because either it is available, it is what they perceive to be expected of them, or because that is what most people do.   The more hours we put children in climate controlled and mass curriculum controlled agendas, the more I worry about the ability of the child to appreciate the wonders of nature, develop the ability to think for themselves, and I also wonder if all the time away from home somehow contributes in some degree to the breakdown of family.  

The sad part is that we (as a society) are doing this to our children by not questioning and not demanding more.    More autonomy, more involvement, local control.

We are giving up our freedoms one small step at a time.  
Have you watched the movie, The Giver?  Did you notice any similarities to our society today?

Let's not give up - let's feel the raw cold, the scorching heat, the warmth of a three year old 's body next to yours while snuggling on the couch reading a book, the joy when your six year old reads his first words.

 Just because the experts say it so, doesn't mean it always is.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015


Just some glimpses into today:
enjoying tea, making hemlock branch buttons, creating, looking out of icy windows, keeping 
our lone pet duck inside during the sub-zero nights, and learning

Monday, January 5, 2015

As the Wind Blows and the Temperature Drops

The children bundle up and go outside for even just a few minutes and I am grateful to have animal chores to do that force me to enjoy the raw beauty of the day.

We find some pine branches blown down with the wind, heavy with pine cones and put them over our birch curtain rod.

I knit another claret cowl and sip tea and am so thankful to have a home and a wood stove to keep us warm.

Friday, January 2, 2015

An Accomplishment - Knitting

(Claret Cowl in Quince  & Co. chickadee, Carrie's Yellow)

Because I am generally unable to sit down and concentrate for long stretches of time (really even more than a minute), I have avoided knitting patterns that involved counting. 
But, I have really wanted to knit pretty things and challenge myself more in my knitting.

Well thanks to the Claret Cowl pattern, I can do it!
I don't know why I never thought of this and maybe this is obvious to you - but, for the stitch repeats within a row, this pattern has put stitch markers between each repeat.  So simple and now I can quickly count (up to 11 in this pattern) if I have to get up to help Emmy go to the bathroom, take the bread out of the oven, answer a question, etc.... instead of having to count from the beginning of the row.

I am looking forward to trying another pretty pattern.