We can attempt to teach the things that one might imagine the earth would teach us: silence, humility, holiness, connectedness, courtesy, beauty, celebration, giving, restoration, obligation and wildness.
David Orr from "Earth in Mind"

Oct 31, 2007

Monkey Boy

Halloween is usually one of my favorite holidays, but this year it got swept to the side by everything that is going on. Luckily Grandma Mary sent Alder a monkey suit. Let me tell you the tale of Monkey Boy.

Monkey Boy woke as the sun was setting, he stuck his handy banana in his pocket and went out into the land of wooden floors to explore.

He went this way and that, never a moment still.

He found rare specimens that needed drumming.

But he would not stop. No there was dancing to be had!

When the calls of the dark dwellers came to the door he might pause.

As the visitors dwindled Monkey Boy returned to his nest high in the umbrella tree.

He climbed up with his banana still in his pocket.

And was done.

Or not...

And Where Do You Keep Your Dead?

Oct 30, 2007

Seven Mountain Update

Since part of our philosophy is to connect our customers to the people who make the goods that they are buying I have been using etsy.com quite a bit to find stuff. Here are some of the artesans who have agreed to have their pieces in our store.

Apple Blossom Baby

Maine Wood's Yarn

I've linked to each of their stores through their names if you want to check out more of their goods.

Oct 27, 2007

There are but a few of these in life...and they must not be missed

I spent this morning with a good friend of mine named Bliss (short for Elizabeth). Bliss is an amazing woman I met during my student teaching in Durango almost ten years ago. She was the librarian and media specialist at a wonderful school called COL (who was closed by the school district). Our friendship bloomed from their because of our interests in community, the way people think and the excitement of life. We also filled a space in each other's lives, her as a vaguely maternal figure, me as the daughter she had not had (she has two sons).

But my meeting of Bliss isn't as simple as running into a woman at the school I was working at. It all had to do with a series of choices that I had made. Choices that did not seem too big a deal when I made them but who ended up changing my life in drastic ways. They were the magic moments that were gifted to me by the spirits. The sort that no amount of guessing would have thought where they would have led. The first one was a little bigger than the rest.

1) Before the age of email I had just graduated college and was spending my summer at my parent's cabin in the Hill Towns of Massachusetts working as a house painter. Everyday at lunch I would walk to the post office and back to pick up the mail. I had four or five friends who I was writing with consistently, so there was always something for me to pick up. I had just written a letter to a close friend from my childhood how I did not have any real plans now that I was graduated, that I only knew what I did not want to do. A few days later I received a response suggesting that I first come visit her in northern Minnesota that summer and then move out west with her the coming fall. By the time I had walked the mile home I had already mentally packed my boxes for moving. Incidentally, this woman is Alder's god-mama.

2) A few years later I had gone back to school in Durango to get my teaching certification. We were all supposed to find our own placements in schools, which were limited by how isolated Durango is. I happened to be flipping in the phone book and came upon a listing for Community of Learners Charter School, I had done an internship at a charter school during college and decided to call this school. They were immediately open to me coming to work with them and it was there that I was introduced to some of my favorite writers and thinkers (John Holt, Edward O Wilson, David Orr, Janet Luhrs to name a few) as well as meeting many amazing people like my friend Bliss.

3) When on my first date with my husband, which was a blind date and I was somewhat doubtful of the whole thing, I decided to climb a tall tree that we were passing. The trees in the valley where we were hiking were tall strait ponderosa pines with lots of ladder like branches. I figured that if he follow up the tree he might be worth my effort, on the other hand if he had stayed on the ground I would have a clear idea that this was a one time thing. Well he followed me up that tree (you knew that was coming didn't you?)

4) Most recently we were looking through the phone book here in Vermont and found another acupuncturist in a town not too far away, their add said that the business was both an acupuncture office and tea house. We went up to meet the people, figuring that if they didn't seem like nice people we would have just pretended to have read the sign for tea. That's how we met our new "Tuesday Friends" a week later Kevin was visiting with them and discussing our new business and they suggested that he should open in a visible location in town and maybe have something in addition to the practice to get people to come in to the building.

That's were Seven Mountain came from, an idea that was formed fully in a matter of moments in my mind when I heard this idea. Now our life has this amazing momentum towards ... well actually we don't know towards what but we committed to this idea that really fits so well with everything in our lives and thoughts. Okay, there is part of this that isn't true, we are generally not shoppers but we figured that we would make a shop where everything in it we would be willing to have in our own home and that we would know, as much as possible, the person who made them.

Do you have any of these small/monumental moments in your life? I'd love to hear about them.

Phew, well now that you've struggled through all that writing I'll end by saying that we're off to spend time with family and friends for the next few days. Enjoy your weekend.

Oct 25, 2007

Think on This

"What children need is not new and better curriculum but access tho more and more of the real world: plenty of time and space to think over their experiences, and to to use fantasy and play to make meaning out of them; and advice, road maps, guidebooks, to make it easier for them to get where they want to go (not where we think they ought to go), and to find out what they want to find out." John Holt

Oct 23, 2007

Green Elephants

For some reason ever since we have moved I have been thinking about elephants. Not so much in their realistic glory or the sort that live in Disney movies but the sort that come out of a history of Babar (even with the colonial bent to the tales) and the introduction to the Little Prince. Primarily I have been thinking about blue elephants. A powdery periwinkle. But since all I have in my stash right now is a powdery green it had to do. This is the green elephant bag. He is going to have a home at Seven Mountain until someone takes him home. It was a new sort of bag for me with a flannel lining and made out of suit wool but he just sort of came together over an evening.

These evenings in the studio (the grand name I call my room) are so needed after crazy days of painting and business forms. They add to the wonderful rhythm of the evenings with Alder's bedtime routine then sneaking off to the studio for public radio and fabric. Kevin's usually in his room doing calligraphy (Chinese) or reading about herbs (Chinese) and we visit back and forth. It's a moments rest in a life that seems to have become quite busy.

What shall I make tonight?

Oct 19, 2007

What Home Looks Like Right Now

I promised a while ago to show what our home looks like. It finally really feels like it's ours, no more boxes to unpack or things to reorganize.

My mother-in-law gave these to Alder, I've always loved the blocks, being magnets is a bonus.

This was my birth quilt made by the mother of a friend of my parents. She was a seamstress and sew this entire thing out of scraps and by hand. Since I left home at 18 I have always had it hanging in my room. Back during the chaotic time of college I was spend hours decompressing by just looking at the quilt and listening to NPR. I am always finding new things about it, and it still brings me calmness during times of stress.

The wooden things on the wall are saints carved from the wood of wagons during the 1960's when they were being phased out in Sicily, my parents brought them home after one of their trips.

This is our first piece of artwork we bought. It's done by Denver artist Kelsey Dalton.

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I had acquired a cut paper piece at a flea market, this is it.

This is Alder's space. It's down stairs near the kitchen. The landlord called it an office but since it has a door into the kitchen and one into the dinning room it has become his place to play and hang out, we keep all his stuff down there so the bedroom isn't too stacked with stuff.

Oct 18, 2007

Painting progress



Tomorrow I am off to Greenfield to the used furniture stores.

Oct 16, 2007

He's Just a Little Bit Musical

Note: I will post some Seven Mountain pictures tomorrow.

And now we have Tuesday friends

Ahh week day friend... in Denver we had our Thursday friends, who we still love dearly. Now it seems that we have made Tuesday friends. An even three and three, this time Alder gets to be the big kid, by four months. But they are weekly friends, which makes them special in my book. As a kid we had another family that we would have dinner with every Thursday. It would be the two families and who ever from the anthropologist seminars wanted to join in. They were late nights filled with voices that I would drift off to on a blanket in the corner of the dinning room of either home.

Oct 11, 2007

It's in the subtitle and an Alder update

So in my little blurb at the top of the blog I mention starting a business. Until now that was all that I've mentioned it. Well, today we are going to sign a lease on a shop right down on Main Street. Seven Mountain Acupuncture, Herbs and Creative Living Store has a home.

I've been running around for the last few days doing business-y stuff, everyone is so nice here and supportive, such a change from Denver where bureaucracy is slow and bitter (don't get me wrong I love bureaucrats, I'll explain that in another post). Up until a week or so ago this all seemed like a mental exercise but looking at spaces and finding a perfect one jolted me into reality.

We named the company Seven Mountain lc because it sounded good but it quickly became part of our philosophy. The Seven Mountains:








So today becomes another day of running around, luckily there are two of us and Alder doesn't spend too much time being dragged on errands. We've discovered that any large piece of land, like a field, is heaven to him. So I have been spending a lot of time in the park with on blanket as he explores.

He is such a busy kid, always moving and investigating. But there are points in the day where he just wants to rest his head on my lap and look out the window or sit in my lap and play with a ball of yarn. He is teaching me a lot about balance. Even if he has popped out 6 teeth in the last month (yes that means he has 14 and 2 on the way).

Oct 9, 2007

She's Running for a Cause

Iris and Alder last September in Denver.

I got this in an email from Alder's Aunt Amanda.
We are running for 2 people in particular. My mother, Iris Grossman, was diagnosed with a relapse of lung cancer last October after 4 years in remission. A non-smoker her entire life, she is one of the lucky ones because they caught it early both times. After one serious operation and a year of chemo she is still going strong but not yet cancer free. Our classmate Val's Aunt Jane Garland passed away from lung cancer on October 30, 2006 at the age of 57. She lost a short battle due to a late diagnosis. Val's hope is that no other family has to under go that same struggle by increasing the availability of early detection methods. Lung Cancer is now the number one cancer killer of women. 15% of all newly diagnosed lung cancer cases are non-smokers who never smoked, most of which are women. 60% of all cases have not smoked in years, again most of which are women. We are running to increase awareness of this disease and hope that more time and money will be spent on early detection and finding a cure. Thanks for your support, Amanda Grossman, Andrea Wysocki, and Joy Burwell.

It would be wonderful if anyone could help. The donation page is here.

Oct 8, 2007

Grape Harvest

My godparents were harvesting their grapes this weekend. The grapes made their greenhouse have a sweet ambrosia smell to it that was intoxicating. We left with sticky hands and a bag full of grapes and grape leaves.

note: I am very happy to have my camera back.

All About the Books

I don't usually do memes but Camera Shy Momma "tagged" me and it's about books so who can resist.

1. Hardcover or paperback, and why?
Paper back, I always need to have my book portable so I can pull it out if there is a spare moment.

2. If I were to own a book shop I would call it…
Rainy Day Booksellers, and we would have lots of comfy chairs and tea.

3. My favorite quote from a book (mention the title) is…
We can attempt to teach the things that one might imagine the earth would teach us: silence, humility, holiness, connectedness, courtesy, beauty, celebration, giving, restoration, obligation and wildness.
David Orr from "Earth in Mind"

4. The author (alive or diseased) I would love to have lunch with would be ….
Either Madeline L'engle or Michael Chabon. Of course I would be completely intimidated but in awe.

5. If I was going to a deserted island and could only bring one book, except from the SAS survival guide, it would be…Rooted in the Land because it is not only great but also diverse.
6. I would love someone to invent a bookish gadget that….
would hold my book and turn pages for me as i lay on my bed and eat ice cream.

7. The smell of an old book reminds me of….
reading during the summer as a child, when I spend hours reading what ever I could find around the house or my aunts' house and find a place outside and read only braking for food, swimming and occasional adventures along the stream.

8. If I could be the lead character in a book (mention the title), it would be….
I can't choose, as a girl I wanted to be Allana from Tamora Pierce's Song of the Lioness Series. But I could also handle being Rita Female Nomad, traveling the world connecting through food and art, although I'd forgo the divorce.

9. The most overestimated book of all times is….
I'll be blatant anything by David Foster Wallace or Johnathan Safran Foer. I dislike authors who spend time tell you just how cool they are by the tricks they use, rather than letting their writing stand on it's own.

10. I hate it when a book….
ends weakly, as if the author only really had a beginning and a middle but didn't know when to stop or goes off on some extra tangent that doesn't stay with the main theme.

The way this works is that I am suppose to tell others to do this, so I guess Trish, Amanda, Aunt Amanda and Sarah (you two can just give it to me).

Oct 4, 2007

Alder Finds Quotes

Alder has an uncanny ability to show me things that I need to see. Sometimes it is slowing down enough during a hike where we find stones and spy animals others times it is his moments of stillness where all that he wants is to stare out the window and lay on my belly. Lately he has spent a lot of time taking books off our books shelves and handing them to us. During one short version he handed me two books, Red by Terry Tempest Williams and Earth in Mind by David Orr. Both of them were what I needed at that moment.

Earth in Mind was open to this quote: "...there is a danger that education will damage the sense of wonder- the sheer joy in the created world- that is part of our original equipment at birth. It does this in various ways: by reducing learning to routines and memorization, by excess abstraction divorced from lived experience, by boring curriculum, by humiliation, by too many rules, by overstressing grades, by too much television and too many computers, by too much indoor time and mostly by deadening the feelings from which wonder grows."

I watch this sense of wonder in Alder everyday. The joy that I see as he explores his environment, as he figures things out, and puzzles new ones, is something that I do not want to disapear. More than anyother reason this is why we have made certain choices in our lives.

The copy of Red was closed, I opened it and read bits and pieces and came across this: "I stop. The silence that lives in these sacred hallways presses against me. I relax. I surrender. I close my eyes. The arousal of my breath rises in me like music, like love, as the possessive muscles between my legs tighten and release. I come to the rock in a moment of stillness, giving and receiving, where there is no partition between my body and the body of Earth."

I have stood barefoot and welcomed the sun on the sandstone she speaks of in the Canyonlands. I have tasted the wall of a canyon as I hiked through it arms outstretched reaching both sides. I did not meet the desert until I was twenty four, but it was then that I came home. It may seem odd that I have left the west for New England, but my love of the desert is so consuming that I have never wanted to live in it. When I was close I would visit alone for weekends like some people visit lovers. The intense feeling of being there is not sustainable, I must leave or I think I might be consumed by the sandstone and sage brush.

Luckily, Kevin's parents live close enough to the desert that when we visit I can rendezvous with it, alone or with my family.

Oct 1, 2007

A Step into the Past

August 9th 1919 during ship week, when all the sailors come to New York. My grandmother and friends took a few of them up to Riverside Park for a picnic. This is the same park as in the picture of Alder in Baby No More (a recent post).

Hannah Brandt, my grandmother in 1916 or 17. She designed purses and costume jewelry until she married at the old age of 27.

September 2 1918, in front of her sister's house out in Brooklyn.

I've been thinking about how much pleasure and ease having a digital camera brings. Back when these pictures were taken it was a big deal. They weren't done by a professional but cameras were taken out for special occasions and not everyone had one. It is nice to be able to discard images I don't like but I want to start approaching the camera with more reverence, it is an artists media not just a recorder.