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"

Dec 28, 2008

A Blogaversary with a give-away

Extended until Monday Because I am really busy right now.

So here I am two years into this blog and it feels like the last year got away from me. Not just in terms of this blog but life itself. I was looking at my resolutions from last year and realized that I didn't put any time into any of them. The strange thing is that it doesn't feel like that long ago that I was making those promises. This year things are going to change (not just in terms of resolutions) a lot is going to change in our life and hopefully being more human and functioning is part of it.

This blog has been great help to me especially over the last few months when things have been tough. I have used it as a place to publicly challenge myself to change stuff and it has been working. Hearing people's ideas on things has been great too. To thank all of you (and I know it isn't a huge group) I wanted to do a special give-away. This year I am doing a custom treat. You leave your name and a link and what not and I'll come up with something appropriate to stick in a box. Plus since it's year two I'm going to choose two people. I will leave this open until New Year's Eve.

And for those of you who are still waiting for things that I owe you (especially EG) they will be going out before the end of the year.

Dec 26, 2008

a little creative inspiration

I've seen this a few times over the last few weeks and I've been inspired so I thought I'd share.

Dec 23, 2008

Gift Making

We tried to make all our gifts by hand this year. We almost did it, due to time there are two people getting bought gifts but I still think we did pretty well. Here is a few of the gifts I made this year.

Dragon Hat
Dragon Hat for my nephew, knitted and needle felted.

Loop Bag
Loop Bag, this is a pattern I have been working on for about a year and I finally like how it is turning out. It leaves a lot of room for creativity.

WIP Modern Chair shirt
WIP this will be sewn on to a t-shirt, a present for one of the designers in the family.

Leaf Hat
Needle Felted hat for my niece.

Dec 21, 2008

New York Trip

Here are some pictures from the trip. Hey there is also another post with a great video below.

Origami Tree

Holiday Light Show



More Inspiration

We're spending the day working on gifts for family. Lot's of snow (we're working on 2 feet right now). Here is some inspiration.

Dec 19, 2008

Unabashedly Political and Humorous

For Sarah and my Dad. For those of you who don't know the history of these songs they are both written by Tom Paxton. The first one is in it's original from from 1980 (as far as I can tell) the second song was originally titled Lyndon Johnson Told the Nation. In their original forms these songs are ones I grew up with and they seem appropriate right now. I can ony hope that many of the other songs I grew up with will not be relevant any time soon. Of course, that's Arlo Guthrie singing in the first video.

Dec 17, 2008

Law Indangers Artisans Business through Cost

As most of you know, not only do I make things by hand but I also work at a shop that sells handmade toys and clothing. Much of the products we have in the store will be effected by the Consumer Protection Safety Act. In an effort to help countless of artisans across the country I ask that you take the time to copy the following letter, fill it in and send it to your congressmen. I understand many people's fears about tainted toys but this law requires testing for every toy (at the price of a few thousand dollars a toy) many of these small time producers never make that much on any single item. So please help! Thank you Uncommon Grace for the link.

From: [your name and address]

To: [your congress person or senator]

Re: Changes needed to the Consumer Product Improvement Act (CPSIA) to Save Handmade Toys in the USA

Dear [your congress person or senator],

Like many people, I was deeply concerned by the dangerous and poisonous toys that large Chinese toy manufacturers have been selling to our nations families. And, I was very pleased that Congress acted quickly to protect America's children by enacting the CPSIA.

However, I am very concerned that the CPSIA's mandates for third party testing and labeling will have a dramatic and negative effect on small toymakers in the USA, Canada, and Europe, whose toy safety record has always been exemplary.

Because of the fees charged by Third Party testing companies, many toymakers, especially makers of unique and beautiful wooden toys from Maine to Oregon will be driven out of business. Their cottage workshops simply do not make enough money to afford the $4,000 price tag per toy that Third Party testers are charging.

I urge you to quickly rewrite the CPSIA so that toys made in batches of less than 5,000 units per year or manufactured within the USA and trusted countries with established toy safety regimes such as Canada and the European Union be held exempt from third party testing requirements. Such toys could still be subject to random auditing by the CPSC.

If you feel that testing should still be required, then the CPSC should be made to offer free testing services for USA toymakers and importers from Europe or Canada with revenues less than one million dollars.

These toy makers have earned and kept the public's trust. They provide jobs for hundreds and quality playthings for thousands. Their unique businesses should be protected. Please visit www.handmadetoyalliance.org to learn more about this issue.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.


[your name]

Dec 14, 2008

We're Off (I think I've used this title before)

Almost two years ago this is what it was like to get to New York for a visit. In contrast tomorrow morning Alder and I will pack the car, fill it with gas and drive the four hours to the city. Still visiting is exciting, and there is always more I want to do than we have time for. Besides, this gives Kevin a little space to get some of his projects done (both of the work and creative variety).

Our main reason for visiting is to see Kate, Alder's god mama, who is in town from Colorado for a few days. Kate and I grew up together being city kids in the '80s. Since it is the holiday season I think we are going to do a few things from our childhood with Alder like this which my mother used to take us to every year. Since Alder is train obsessed we are going to check out this exhibit with Grandma, since it's near her office.

We've been talking about our trip for a few days now and the three things he is most excited to do are see Dad's house (grandpa), go on a train, and go to coffee shops. I couldn't help laughing at the last one, he seemed a little concerned that being in New York we might not be able to go to any coffee shops, he is after all my son.

I have no idea if I am going to be posting while I'm gone, I usually do but if not I hope you all have a good week.

Dec 12, 2008

Milestones and learning styles

Icy Shore
After an adventurous attempt to get Alder to Adra's this morning that involved icy curvy hills, trees hanging on down power lines and finally a giant balsam across the road we turned around. Creeping back to town in 4wd low through the glittering of last night's ice storm we listened to classical interpretations of sea shanties. A few miles into our retreat Alder and I got into the following conversation:

A: Adra's?
Me: Not today, the road and her house are broken (we had run into her husband who said their power was out).
A: I fix Adra's house?
Me: We can't get to her house because of the road.
A: Mama fix it, and Alder.
Me: We don't have the tools we need.
A: Oh...why?
Me: Because the rain that froze last night into ice broke the wires and some trees, we would need big tools like saws.
A: Papa fix it?
Me: Alder I think we should leave it for the workers. (we were passing by an electric crew with their cherry picker)  See.
There is a pause in the conversation then:
A: Adra's house broken I fix it with Mama. 
Me: Sweetie (don't ask) we can't fix it right now.
A: Broken? (as in how was it broken)
At which point we went over the whole ice storm to which he replied:
A: Water brake Adra's house.

A month ago this would have never happened. Only in the last few weeks that he has started to make sentences. Before he had a few stock sentences that he used, but in the last few days he has been constructing them out of ideas new and old. For months Alder collected words, using them solo pointing out objects or actions, then he added comparative words still they were usually said by themselves or along with one other word. This is how he does things, he focuses on one aspect of a 'project' until he grasps it comfortably before he takes the next step.

It reminds me of when he learned to crawl. For weeks he had gotten himself up onto all fours but couldn't move forward, but that is all he wanted to do was try to move forward. When he finally did move it was backwards, but that was followed by forwards. Of course once he got crawling down he wasn't content to just crawl around he wanted to figure out steps. We finally had to put up a gate at the bottom of the stairs not because we were afraid of him falling but because he would work himself into hysterics trying to get himself off of the floor. There is an advantage to having a child like this, as he did teach himself about steps (we had a set of four carpeted steps in Denver that we let him use once he started to get it) he has only fallen twice and both times were from the second or third step.

Even then, at 6 months old Alder had an obvious learning style. I find it interesting to watch him tackle each new 'project' he sets for himself. His way of learning is so different than my own I sometimes feel that he is the one teaching me how to do things. I may be the Mama and the adult but he is really the one that is able to understand the world more completely.

I'm not going to say that my child is gifted I think labels like that are useless. I also don't think that what I see him doing makes him a genius or above other kids in the normal ways that they are tested. I do however think that as a person, child and adult, he will be able to see things from a broad prospective. I'm having difficulty wording this, let me use an example. I think he'll be able to look at the newspaper and understand the headlines politically, economically, and even how what is going on relates to history. So while he may never be a whiz at memorizing the periodic table I think he'll be able to understand it's origins and the physics behind it.

Meanwhile, as I left for work today he was happily "cooking" eggs and soap for Papa.

Dec 11, 2008

Catch up on an icy day

Wow I can't believe it's been almost a week since I got back from Boston. It's been a mad rush of making and cleaning around here. The weather has been up and down freezing on Monday warm on Tuesday and today it is an icy mess. Still we slid down the hill to town and spent time at our favorite yarn store and then off to the library for books puzzles and a little chess (Alder's invented version). We snuck a bite to eat at the Co-op before we struggled up the hill. I am really glad Alder still likes the stroller some days we would still be out there otherwise.

Catchup 19-24

Day 19
One Good Thing: Left at 6 am to get to Boston for Bizarre Bazaar. Spent the day around lots of very cool creators and creations. Also spent a lot of time dancing to stay warm, we were close to the door.
BBB 2008 Spun Monkey Booth

One Creative Thing: I will leave it at getting out of Boston and back to rte 2 without going too far out of our way.

Day 20
One Good Thing: Alder and I going on a little adventure for fabric and NOODLES.Winter sun

One Creative Thing: More like a bunch, I started made one hat, started one bag and chose the design for one shirt. I can't really put pictures up since the recipients read this sometimes.

Day 21
One Good Thing: Got to read my book.

One Creative Thing: Finished bag, weaved in ends on hat.

Day 22
One Good Thing: Spent most of the day cleaning, Kevin even built us an island for the kitchen. We put the TV in the basement, we never use it anyhow, watched this on the computer together and laughed our butts off.

One Creative Thing: Ironed houses, started new hat.

Dec 6, 2008


Heading HERE to go to THIS to help HER with her stuff. Have a good day!

Dec 5, 2008

Changes towards Simplicity

Breaking Fast

There are a lot of little changes that are going on in my life right now. The good sort. We've spent quite a few years just trying to "get through" pretty much since we left Durango, but now we have found a place we would like to call home and finally all the ideas of someday are becoming today. For years after we first met we talked and lived very simply, but grad school and moving has complicated life a lot. Often it was easier to let the simple lifestyle get away from us because of time and money constraints... well mainly the time and stress.

But lately I've been feeling (and we did both come to this thought quite separately the conversation was so connecting) that really we need to go back to all those ideas that we have put to some day. So often it feels easier to take what is handed to you prepackaged or prearranged when actually once you start the habits of simplicity they take so much less effort. It is the starting that take the most psychological effort. 

So as this year winds down and I look towards the return of the sun I want to welcome it inspired to return to simplicity. I have visions of peacefulness washing over our household by midsummer.  Even now as I begin the process of simplifying I can see this difference, more gets done, communication is smoother, creativity returns. But this is just a start there is so many facets to living simply that we have to return to that the process is almost like building a home, thankfully we already have the foundation built.

One Good thing One Creative Thing Day 16, 17, 18

Day 16

One Good Thing: The joy of going to the library with Alder, as I am getting better at choosing books that he'll like. Realizing how to use these same skills to avoid conflict situations and find more activities that we can both enjoy (more on this later).

One Creative Thing: Stayed up way too late making paper houses to hang in Alder's room.

Day 17

One Good Thing: As someone who usually tries to get out of the house as fast as possible (I have always had a hard time staying home when it's light out) but we stayed home until late afternoon, cooking and doing various projects together and separate.

One Creative Thing: Lots of creating going on this year, except for one hand me down gift we are making every gift this year. Cut out one pair of pajamas with Alder's help. Went to Thursday knitting and started one hat, stayed up way too late (yeah the sun was coming up) finishing one hat and getting most of the way through the next one.

Day 18

One Good Thing: Reading American Bloomsbury by Susan Cheever, lots of pausing around town to read between dropping Alder off and going to work, ah bliss.

One Creative Thing: Umm seeing how I stayed up to daylight I'm going to carry over last nights knitting, needless to say reading and working are all I'm doing today.

Dec 2, 2008

Alder Can't Get Enough of This

One Good Thing One Creative Thing Day 14 & 15

Day 14

One Good Thing: Went sledding at kindercircle this morning, despite feeling awkward while I was there Alder and I had fun sledding down the hill.

One Creative Thing: I got back from errands and decided I should definitely start making this apartment a home, actually I was spurred into this idea the day before during the scary drive home past all the accidents. I am not a winter driver which means that we will be spending a lot more time in our house for the next few months.

I showed Alder all the fabrics that we had enough to make his curtains out of and let him choose. While he played 'boat' I ironed and pinned one curtain (they are ridiculously long).

Day 15

One Good Thing: The library had a copy of American Bloomsbury, a book I have wanted to read for a long time, since I heard and interview with the author when the book came out.

One Creative Thing: Kevin and I hardly ever get any time alone together so we have started a journal in which we respond to essays and poems together. One of us will read one and react and then the other will read the same article and write our own thoughts. We are starting with some Wendell Berry essays from The Way of Ignorance and What are People For? This morning I began my first response, unfortunately my writing was cut short by the people at the table behind me talking very loudly and distracting me from my writing.

Dec 1, 2008

One Good Thing One Creative Thing 9-13 lots of links

Day 9
One Good Thing: A little time to myself as I drive to this amazing bakery for rolls and to get this book for my father's birthday.

One Creative Thing: Finished Hat, umm it ended up being for Alder instead of Kevin. I'll post pictures tomorrow and explain about the coloring and thickness.

Day 10
One Good Thing: Spending time with my family. A wonderful meal with everything spare ribs (a family tradition), Barbecued Turkey, Green Chile Corn Pudding, two Stuffings, four pies and one pumpkin cheesecake. Staying up late with cousins and playing bad music from our childhoods for each other. Oh and drinking lots of wine.

One Creative Thing: Weaving in all the ends of Alder's sweater so he could wear it for dinner. (picture tomorrow).

Day 11
One Good Thing: Meandering Car ride with a cousin and Alder discovering new back-ways, bookstores, and yarn stores. Reading this book and watching this movie. In the catagory of so bad it's funny was this movie that was on TV after the intensity of Downfall, it was both funny and painful to watch this...trust me I did not put it on, and I turned it off after I saw who played the mother.

One Creative Thing: Created hat patterns for two of my cousins.

Day 12
One Good Thing: Kevin and I actually went out with my cousins (the young ones...like anyone under 40). Grandma and "Dad" watched Alder. We drove into town and saw this movie. It was a tough one but worth seeing.

One Creative Thing: Honestly I got up drove home an hour to go to work, worked until 6pm drove an hour back had dinner and went to the movies.

Day 13
One Good Thing: Made it home alive. It sounds like a pitiful answer but after passing 6 accidents over 18 miles of highway and taking an hour to go the last 5 miles from the state border to exit one I was just so happy to be home and alive. It total has kicked me into gear for getting the house all nest-able for the winter. I do not like winter driving so I need to like where I live.

One Creative Thing: Sort of creative, I emptied the final two boxes of studio stuff.

Nov 30, 2008

The end to my weekend


I am sitting here in disbelief. We had a beautiful Thanksgiving, I was in the middle of up loading pictures when the phone rang. The beauty of the last week has dissipated fleeing to corners of my mind where later I can unpack them. For now this past week has turned to sorrow.

I can't even put my words together right now, my chest feels like I've drank ten espressos. I am still wrapping my mind around the fact that Steve died, thankfully in his sleep. This vibrant man, Doctor, musician, involved with the world he is gone. Everyday, gowning up, I would walk past his office on my way to school. Like all the other characters that are in my life he was so much more...I can't explain we weren't close, I've been gone for ten years and before that I was just a shy kid, but he was always part of the list of people who indirectly made up my family. And lately that list keeps shrinking, lately I'm feeling like my circles are shrinking that I need to hold on tight to the parts of my life that have always been there. Not exclusive of new people but to totally absorb what I have always known; my family.

I had been thinking about how as I get older my family becomes more important to me, earlier as we heaed home this afternoon. We are an intense bunch, but we like each other and we have fun together. I just want to hold onto them tighter now, wishing I was with them still in the big warm house by the fire where we could talk this through, have a few drinks tell stories, and make it okay, if death is ever okay.

Our apartment felt gray and bland after this weekend, now it feels silent and history-less. This place has not become the nest it should be. It needs to be, we are here for a while we need to start writing our story of this home and us in it.

If you read this take a moment and think to yourself who your list of characters that have been around for a long time, family and sort of family and make sure you spend a little more time with each of them, now, not later when you can't.

[I will return to the 30 days tomorrow]

Nov 25, 2008

one Good thing One Creative Thing Day 8 The Single Breath Addition

One Good Thing: Fires to knit by and making pies.

One Creative Thing: Finished Alder's sweater and started Kevin's hat.

Nov 23, 2008

One Good thing One Creative Thing Day 7

Quick note from work (I should be sweeping)

One Good Thing: Had a wonderful dinner with some of our family last night. The preparation for Thanksgiving starts now, Kevin is filling the wood bin and baking pies today with my aunt. Found an early twentieth century copy of this and read it late into the night.

One Creative Thing: I chose the yarn and pattern for my sweater (yes as in for me to wear). It's yummy Malibrigo Chunky in the Paris Night colorway (thanks Ab for the suggestion). Pictures to follow.

Nov 22, 2008

Comfort Food One Good Thing One Creative Thing Day 7

Yesterday was a bit of a rush through everything without much time for creating or absolute goodness. Until the end of the day when I got to cook my favorite comfort food Dirty Pasta.

Dirty Pasta

If you don't like salty don't bother with this recipe.

1 box of noodles
2 cloves of garlic
olive oil
1 tin or jar of anchovies
Parmesan cheese (better if you grate it right when you want it)


Set a big pot of water to boil for the noodles.
Making the Dirty Sauce
Mince garlic, it can be sort of chunky for this.
Heat skillet to medium.
Add garlic and anchovies, include the oil the anchovies are in.
Mix in skillet until the anchovies have disintegrated.
Lower heat to low let them heat until noodles are done.
When water boils add noodles and cook (read box).
Drain pasta and put in bowl, or return to pot.
Pour sauce over noodles and mix until all of the noodles look "dirty".
Grate cheese (don't skimp).
Mix cheese into noodles evenly.
I would suggest serving this with big glasses of water.

We will be out of town off and on for the next week so reporting will be a little spotty.

Nov 20, 2008

One Good Thing One Creative Thing Day 6

One Good Thing: I was given a wonderful treat this morning. Kevin had done some acupuncture in trade with one of the massage therapists that he works with and out of the blue he offered the massage to me. Since he had no one schedule for that time slot he took Alder and I got one of the best massages ever.

One Creative Thing: Nothing too special today just Thursday night Knitting at Knit or Dye. I worked on Alders sweater, only two thirds of one sleeve to go!

He is just too cute sometimes.

Nov 19, 2008

color and light One Good Thing One Creative Thing Day 5

One Good Thing: Watching the sunrise over breakfast.

First Light

One Creative Thing: [Written at the library yesterday]

I have to admit I hate crayons. Even as a child I hated then. their colors are dull and they never stay sharp enough. I clearly remember repeatedly trying to color shapes only to find the crayon drawing on the other side of the line. I know that there were kids in my class who could color perfectly, their lines were never crossed and when they filled in shapes the colors covered evenly with all the strokes going in the same direction.

After crayons we were introduced to colored pencils, 12 color boxes of Prisomcolor to be exact. While I could sharpen the point as much as I wanted the colors were still bland, no matter how hard I pushed. I craved the streaks of vibrant colors as much as I wanted to create the images in my head. But I was still sloppy and would get in trouble for not following the directions (remember this was just lower school). I tried, I really did, but my hands just couldn't move the pencils as delicately as the projects called for.

At home was a different story. Here I had my father's old watercolors that I would spend my Saturday mornings painting with rather than watching cartoons (the TV was in my parents bedroom). I remember years of painting little landscapes on scrap paper. I would create them with repeated lines; obsessing over the exact tone of the ocean, the sand, the clouds above. Each of them would be tiny worlds that I could enter. Around that time I was reading the Secret Garden and was enamored with the Scottish Moors. I drew scene after scene of what I thought those moors would look like.

When I had painted the pans empty my father would take me to the neighborhood art store to choose a new set. He was adimant that I use "real" paints not the flashy kids ones (whose flash was in the packaging not the paint). In the end I would usually come home with a yellow enamel box of Pelikan paints, the same sort I used all the way through college. My father never studied art or teaching but he knew what he liked to look at enjoyed reading about art. If he was going to have to hang the pieces that I did up then he wanted to like what he was looking at. In his mind this meant that I should have the supplies that would give me the best chance of taking the idea from my mind to the paper.

It was during these hours alone in his shop that I would play with the brushes, pigments and water, learning how each of them worked. While my princesses stood out as sloopy among the giant crowds of homogenious royalty that hung in the hallways of my school at home, with the watercolors my work was delicate.

The difference was simple; at school I was limited to choosing the colors and perhaps a little pattern while at home I was free to paint as I pleased for as long as I wanted to (or not at all). At school we were each handed a box of scented markers (at least these were vibrant) that no adult would pick up. At home I was given real supplies, pencils and paints that I would still use today. In retrospect there was no question about where my real art making was going on but at the time I sure I must be the worst artist in the world because I couldn't get my flowers to look just like the girl who sat next to me in class (who by the way was always weatring matching Benneton socks and shirts).

I knew. I knew not to stop what I was doing at home, in some ways I couldn't. I felt it when my father would take me for long Saturdays of walking from gallery to gallery in SoHo and I knew it when we would spend entire days in a single wing of the Met. I could see it in the modern paintings and I could see it in the cases of African masks. So I didn't stop. After each of these days out with my dad I would come home and try my hand at what I had seen.

Even now when I return to visit my father and find relics of my childhood art around the house. Its survival over the past three decades is not sentimentality, although that I am his daughteris part of it, they are all pieces that he felt were beyond my age when I created them. He knew it then and despite himself has directed me in this direction. I always find it amusing when I hear about parents who brought their children up to be doctors or lawyers and I respond that I was brought up to be an artist.

At this point it is up to me. If I really want to be this artist that I can be I have to work at it put in the time and space. Otherwise I am jut another person who messes around with paint.

Nov 17, 2008

One Good Thing One Creative Thing Day 3 and 4

Day 3
One Good Thing: After Kevin and Alder went to sleep I stayed up listening to this and knitting by the fire.
One Creative Thing: I spent three hours knitting on a simple scarf, a longways knit alpaca in purple with a diamond pattern (pictures to come when it is finished right now it looks like a caterpillar).

Day 4
One Good Thing: Well really lots of good things. I got to sleep almost to nine. We went out for breakfast to here, and got there just before the crowds. Came home and Alder and I did projects in the wood shop for hours. Made a yummy dinner form things found around the house and ended up with gnocchi with sauce and steamed broccoli. Another night of knitting by the fire until I ran out of yarn.
One Creative Thing: While in the wood shop I started working on Alder's holiday gift. So far there has been a lot of sanding and cutting. Alder hammered nails into a board and drew pictures.

I remember spending hours down in the shop building things. Whether it was the tug boat that my father and I made that still stands on my dresser wit the film canister as a smoke stack or the pencil box that I build and stained myself when I was eleven it was always an amazing space to be in. Even yesterday as I worked on my project I found myself remembering exactly where certain nails were by feel rather than reading the labels on the jars.

There was a special joy involved in handing Alder the child's hammer for the first time, it is an identical one to the one adult one just a little smaller and lighter. Then handing him the cup that says "kid nails" on the outside on tape that has been there since I was a child, so old that it fell off and the glue holding it on became a gold dust on the table. Just like my father I set the nails in just deep enough that they would hold and let him hammer away at the board.

Hammering is difficult for little hands and he soon switched to drawing at the card table as I sawed and sanded, public radio in the background. Here I was an adult showing my own child the same things my father did, handing him the same tools and telling him some of the same stories. Next week when we are all at the cabin I hope there might be a few moments that all three of us are down there working on something, three generations touching the same tools bringing all of us joy in the making.

Nov 15, 2008

One Good thing One Creative Thing Day 2

One Good Thing:
This morning I woke up to the sounds of Alder and Kevin in A's room playing. I joined them for a complex game that Alder had created where his blocks were everything from the kitchen and he would pour us cups of juice milk and tea as well as cook us eggs. I was on his bed and he decided that the bed must be the shower so he would get under the covers with me and tell me that we were showering. This went on for almost an hour with Alder leading us through many different complicated meals where he would cook clean and then fix the house (there we things that needed hammering).

It excites me to see how he interprets our lives through play. At his age fantasy still does not include activities beyond his experience but he synthesizes what he has done into new stories (a new development). Watching him play gives me a good idea as to what activities that we during the day that he really likes. Similarly, I also can see through what he is drawing what interests him (this is great for choosing books from the library). Before I had Alder someone told me that small children are all little scientists, I totally agree but I would go further and say that all parents become (or should be) researchers in their own right as they learn to interpret their children when they are in these pre and early speakers.

One Creative Thing (two for today):

I ironed the fabric for the new member of the Armendariz de Klaasmeyer clan's quilt. As well as finishing one of the sleeves of Alder's sweater (I even remembered to bind off in ribbing!).

Well we're all going out to the cabin for the night to sit by the fire and play in the woodshop (we have so kitchen making to get started on) [Hey Sarah we want to borrow your router during Thanksgiving].

Nov 14, 2008

One Good thing One Creative Thing ! 30 Days Day 1

Is anyone else sick of listening to me whine? So in an effort to repair the damage I have done to everyone's ear drums (or eyes as this is a blog) I am going to start posting good things again. I complain about not having time to make things yet I stay up late reading dumb things on line. So to try to change my general mood I am going to try to post one thing every day here about something creative and good that has happened in my day (exclusive to the holiday madness) so for the next 30 days this will be the one good thing one creative thing blog.

Today's one good thing is sending resume and letter for a great sounding job with Voc Rehab as an employment specialist. The one creative thing was basically finishing one sleeve of Alder's sweater (one cuff and one sleeve to go).

If you are feeling overwhelmed by everything right now feel free to join me in this activity. 

Take a look at this post by Julie for more thoughts on all the shifts of being in your thirties.

Nov 12, 2008

Procrastinating and a little bit of nothing

Seven Grain Bread
I am procrastinating going to bed, an awful habit I've had since high school. So I sit here eating chocolate chips and reading MDC threads about head-coverings in awe and respect of these women who believe in anything that moves them to act on their beliefs to that extent. But today has been like that, peaking at other's lives to remind me of the goal, the aim.

Alder and I managed to bake bread, well I baked he played with his dough. Seven Grain Bread is an absolute favorite of mine. I am not a whole wheat fan but I love the crunchy chewiness of the Seven Grain Cereal in this bread, I figure I'm getting the healthy benefits of the whole grains with out the bad beer flavor of the whole wheat flour. One loaf is already gone.

Wednesday was a wash, it was one of those days where it's just better to stay in the house and eat chocolate chips and cold cuts strait from the bags. It took until six o'clock for it to occur to me that I needed to listen to this, being really the only place worth getting my news from. Even Alder was laughing.


What I wore
My reality with you is drifting
we live further in the future
afraid of all the words and lists of now
we drift to separate rooms
we look out separate windows
lonely not knowing how to connect

but we are trying to find that space
in time
in place
where we can come together and remember

trying to make solid out of the pieces,
the little islands that we have become
islands in a sea of feelings and influences
not looking for bridges but to change the geography
to slide the plates of our life until a new Pangaea is formed.

Nov 11, 2008


Some days we just have it. I wake up to his small hands on my face and I know we are in sync. On days like that we float through the morning routine of eating and dressing and happily get out the door for our day's adventure. Perhaps it's a walk to the library (the current favorite) or driving to a close by town for an errand and wandering the streets. On days like this we shift from one activity to the next without trasition. Those days we come home to an afternoon of drawing at the kitchen table or playing "apples and cherries" under the covers as we warm up.

After my last post I had really pursuaded myself that things were so bad, but then the next morning our day went so well and I realized that most of the days do go so well and that the stresses that envelop me are often more in my mind than out in the world. I am trying to hold this idea close to my heart as I approach the mountain of "business" I have to deal with... You know it sort of works.

Now I would like everyone who is reading this to help me send good healthy feelings both to a good friend of mine who is having a tough pregnancy and to my aunt who is having a lung biopsy tomorrow.

Nov 9, 2008

In the Middle of the Night

I wake myself in the middle of the night, stresses overwhelm me. I roll over and lay there eyes closed but sleep is not near. I toss I repostition before I admit to myself that I am up. That once again my night will be spent trying to fill my mind with fiction and other people's lives until I lull myself into believing that it is okay. I am not alone in my wakefulness Kevin bundles up and heads out to the park for late night meditation. Only Alder sleeps, fitfully in our bed calling out, most often "Sauce!" or "Mama". I leave him be until his calls begin to wake him and then I will crawl back into bed with him. He is the salve that brings sleep.

And then the morning will come, too quickly, with requests for apples (imaginary) and oats (real) and we stumble through the begining of our day until the mud of the sleepless night leaves us and we transition to the next day. All of the stresses of the night before surface early as we discuss our plans. Again Alder soothes me with his immediate needs for play and walks and love. He focuses me on the now, not ignoring the issues to be delt with but not letting me become paralyzed by them, immobility is not possible. So we go for long walks through town or aimless drives.

As we move forward through the thick fog I wonder when it will be easier, when will I be able to just relax and love?

I ask not as a person who's life is done to her but as one who's life keeps escaping her. I never loose my keys, but somedays it seems as if I have misplaced my life somewhere along the way.

(I promise that these posts will get cheerier, a little more Alder and a little less stress, this is after all a blog for him)

Nov 8, 2008

Did anyone notice?

Part of me is tempted to edit my last post...I may sometime this week. I was just reading it and was amused to see just how badly written a lot of it was, especially the sections where I was talking about writing. I'm a little distracted lately (see previous post) so I haven't always been rereading my writing before I post it.

I hope everyone is having a nice Saturday, it's wet and warm here and Grandma and Grandpa are coming for dinner, so life is good.

Nov 7, 2008

How to get where you want to be...or the reality of the immediate needs versus the eventual goal

"House!" he said as he dumped the bin of blocks onto the floor.

For a long time now I have had goals for what I want my life to be like. I want to have the ability to choose for Alder the best educational setting that I can, and that I want to raise him consciously and full of creativity and passion. Ideal I would love to stay home with him a lot and work some as a writer. Of course that isn't our reality right now. The economy is effecting how many clients Kevin is seeing and it just isn't enough. Since we moved I have been working part time doing high end retail at a natural parenting store (read cloth diapers organic clothing, baby slings breast pumps and the like). It is a job I have a hard time with, I love helping new parents to choose the right diaper set up or baby sling but I have a hard time with the need for $60 children's hat or $18 a pair underwear. But it was a job that I got quickly and I love all the people I work with.

But our bills (which are not very much to begin with) are out of our reach still. A few nights ago I couldn't sleep and I went looking on-line for a new job when I found one that looks like I would be a good match for, it pays better and it is still only twent hours a week. But the best thing about the job is that it is one where I would be helping people reenter the work force. Teaching them to write resumes, do interviews, help them with employment skills. It would be making a difference in a real way. So once again I am rewriting my resume and fiddling with words to make me seem like the right person for this job.

I haven't even gotten the job and I feel bad. I am not ready to send Alder off for childcare yet, not as much as this job would require. I am guilty of being a dreamer about how our life should be but don't want to go through the in between stage of working other jobs while working towards becoming a better paid writer and while Kevin builds a consistant client base but we have to.

I'll admit I have a lot of envy for the lives of many of the women whose blogs I read, I want the house, the calm life, the ability to choose what I do with my time. But this envy isn't a negative it has helped me to clarify my goals and makes me realize that to end up living this life I aspire to I must be active in creating it. So I start slowly, I write article topics, I design cards, I look for work, I build toys for my son, I take him to to the woods alone and with friends, and I find joy with the new and deep connections that I am making with my family. But it doesn't mean that I don't stare longinly at the crisp photos taken with better cameras or wonder what it would be like to live in a space wholly our own.

These are only examples the reality is much more complex because there is an outside world impossing itself on me and there is a husband who doesn't always agree with me and there are days where I much rather look at blogs of other people's life than live my own.

Nov 6, 2008

Creative Streak

There is a creative streak going on in this house lately. It took a while to come to me but I've finally gotten back into the swing of it. Here are some of the projects I've been working on.


Holiday card design 1

Holiday card design 2

Pants by mama

Skirt by me

1) Watercolor 2)Watercolor 3)Holiday card design 4) Holiday card design 5) Elephant pants 6) Elephant skirt.

Nov 4, 2008

I have tears in my eyes

I have tears in my eyes, tears of joys and disbelief. I was so afraid to hope, although hope was the theme. As I sit here waiting to hear Obama's speech I am starting to put together what it means to me that he has won. We are free of the Bush regime (well 70 days from now). We have a hope that this country will not be forever racist or sexist or homophobic. I have so many hopes for our new president. Shall we now sit back and watch this all unfold, helping where we can?

anecdote: a friend working at a phone bank in Colorado was talking to another worker who commented that he had really been enjoying volunteering and that after the election he was going to find another organization to volunteer with. I hope that there are many more people do the same. If that was to be the case the benefit of this election will be much greater than just electing Obama as president.

If you have time pick up a copy of Soul of a Citizen as well as The Call to Service

with joy I will say good night.


It has seemed a little more like election week than election day here. I voted on Friday and 25% of the state had voted already by last night. But then here in Vermont it is the governor's race that makes adifference this year (in terms of our votes). Still it is the Presidential election that is everyone's focus. At work we have music playing all the time so the computer is set for NPR where they have constantly updated articles today. For all the polls that I hear I am still afraid that the election will slip through our fingers again. In fear that I will be the deciding bit of fate I have no Obama pins or t-shirts or stickers and I have stayed quiet. But honestly I am dedicated to this election as my friend who has spent every night for the last month trying to swing Colorado blue. It is just that I am so afraid to speak.

O-ne day until we know
B-eing consious of the difference this day will make
M-y heart races
A-stonishing how far we've come since I was a child
M-y heart races
A- man who speaks to me in a language I understand.

excuse the bad poetry

Nov 1, 2008

A Quite Moments Inspiration

I'm all sorts of inspired right now. I think it's the coming dark which I thrive in that has me settling into creativity again. Shifting from action to reflection. As the winter comes closer I slow down and I see this in my drawing, my images are calmer and simpler. I'm falling in love with simple black and white.

A lot of my inspiration is coming from the changing environment around me but I have also reaching into my past to find new light.

Daphne Taylor especially this one.
Molly Peacock

I have also been finding some inspiration closer to home.

Hand Work

Oct 27, 2008

Guns guns and more guns and a few crummy plastic swords too

For Gio (who won't see this)

I'm having to processing something I experienced the other night. We went to a Halloween party at a co-workers house last Saturday night. The first thing I noticed that Alder was the only child in a home-made costume. All the boys were Power Rangers, Star Wars characters or other "soldier" story characters (although there was one vampire) and all the girls were princesses (and on Pokemon). But the costumes we the supermarket sort and they all really looked the same, polyester one piece suits with a big gaping hole at the back and some indeterminate symbols on the front. I didn't think too much about it because I know not everyone sews or has the time to make a costume.

So we're there, all of us feeling somewhat uncomfortable. Everyone seems to know everyone else and we literally know one person. Not to mention the fact that I don't really like parties where everyone is crammed into a house and there is loud music. So I sort of hover in the kitchen talking with my friend and trying to help with setup. After a half hour I realize that Alder still hasn't left my side (A is usually searching out the other kids, even if it's to just watch them).

So I decide to walk him back to the kids room to show him where they are playing, and to give him a little space. I was not expecting what I would find in this sweet four year old's room. Guns, lots of toy guns, sixteen toy guns to be exact and an additional nine toy swords and knives of all varieties. I was speechless. The kids, even some younger than Alder, were collecting them in piles and shooting them at each other, in each others faces and sticking them in the faces of adults and pretending to threaten them. And no one seemed to care. Luckily Alder is my son and just the noise from the room was too much for him so he followed me back out to the living room.

Now I understand that I live in a bit of a "crunchy" public radio no TV bubble, but I was a public school teacher for five years and I can not remember ever this much focusing on guns. To be honest it really disturbed me. I know that it was a hyped on sugar get together but still it seemed so unchecked.

I should explain that it isn't as if I have a hate of guns, certainly not those used by hunters, in fact I spent many winters in Durango eating the elk, pheasant, venison and turkey that my friends would kill. I can even say one of my favorite toys as a child was a toy gun that my father and I made together that shot little pieces of cardboard. But in all these situations there was a great deal of understanding of what guns were for and the real effects that they can have.

The father of the boy whose room this was is a hunter, in fact he had just shot a bear that day. I thought that if anyone hunters are the ones who try to have their children understand guns and safety the best, because there are real guns around, but it seems as though it isn't always that way.

Besides the fact that they were guns I was also shocked by the quantity of them. Just the idea that a four year old had sixteen of anyone thing is sad to me. Especially when they are all disposable and pretty much interchangeable, why so many?

What does all of this means in relation to how I want to bring up Alder?

Violence is not okay, ever. Not for Alder while he is still young and forming his early sense of self. I know eventually weapons will make there way into his play, whether is pretending to be a medieval knight or a Greek soldier violence will enter the picture. But I would like for it to be introduced within the frame work of a story, one whose meaning goes beyond the fight. But these are not stories that he needs to hear for another four years, at least. Until then I am absolute in my feelings about violence and the associated play. If this means that I may shield my son from certain cartoons or other media (hey we already don't watch TV except fpr movies) I have absolutely no problem with that.

Of course no answer can ever be that simple. Alder already is growing up in house with weapons in it. Kevin practices martial arts and uses swords, staffs and kuan-daos as part of his practice. But Kevin frames it as an art form, sure he can protect himself as need be but he has never deliberately gotten into a fight. Alder may end up learning to use a sword in one of the sets that Kevin does which have more in common with ballet than with fighting (something he pointed out to me). To me this is a good thing, I think that if he learns about weapons first with respect he will be more apt to make better judgments later on.

Of course all of this means that Kevin and I have had to make some choices in our movie watching habits because we like to watch action movies. I can still recite Raiders of the Ark and James Bond (Sean Connery Roger Moore or Pierce Brosnan only please) is in regular rotation in my favorites list. But now they are left for later evening viewing.

When Alder is all grown up I'll be able to see whether any of this has an affect, but I'm not going to let it slide just because there isn't a lot of evidence one way or the other (according to one GAO study I read).

How do you approach things like this in your families?

Oct 26, 2008

followed by busy-ness

And after a week of firsts we had a week of non-stop go.. and so my dear friends I will try to find a moment to come back to this space because I do have a lot to say but I haven't found a moment even to take pictures in the last week. I will add that the last week was also filled with me loosing things: keys, wallets, knitting, my way driving. None of these things were permament but still disconcerting and out of character.

Oct 20, 2008

Lots of Firsts

On My Own
(Coffee alone at Amy's after dropping Alder off for the first time)

We've been having a lot of firsts this past week, especially for Alder. Last Friday was his first day at Beyond Childcare, where he will be spending a very long Friday. His first day at "school "went well, he is such an easy kid. I am conflicted about sending him at all but we can't get around it with our schedules. At least Beyond is more a home than a school and it as if he just joins their family for the day.

Then yesterday we went to our first Kinder Circle at the Circle School. We spent four hours with a lot of kids and parents singing songs, going on a walk, eating delicious food, and playing. Alder was hesitant at first, although he knew a few of the children. But by the end of the morning he was piled in with all the other children. There were twelve children there and it was the most people his size he has ever been around. For myself it was wonderful, spending time with like minded parents felt so good. After a year of isolation, except for one other family, for people with similar ideas about bringing up children, and life in general it felt so warm and welcoming.

I am thinking a lot about education again, not changing my goals and beliefs but joining the conversation with other parents. I mentioned to one woman yesterday that our educational plans for Alder is part of an evolving conversation. In someways the education itself is a conversation that is also evolving. More on this later.

Oct 16, 2008


There has been a lot of making going on around here lately. Alder has been drawing a lot and I've been knitting. Kevin even made a new comforter cover.


Busy Myself

A favorite place to draw

I can't wait to start to start this hat and this one as well.

But now we're off on an sewing adventure, heading down to get fabric for curtains and well a little bit of temptations.

Oct 15, 2008

When I Stole Time


I stole hours today, no one noticed that they were gone but I took them. Alone at a table I wrote, the quite of the library. Among the laptops at the tables I was the lone notebook and I reveled in the ink and paper. I wrote until it was a rhythm, until I no longer had to think of the next word, until the pages blurred. I lost myself in blue ink and thoughts, I left behind the staid brown ink-the sepia that has glued me together for the past few months. Occasionally inspired by a thought I would search out a book, read a few lines, then return to writing. When I finally left the library a small cairn of them marked my seat.

Now typing I realize again why I love paper and ink. Typing takes me a step away from my words, from forming the curves and lines that make the letters. Here I am repeating the thoughts of my mind but on paper it is my mind leaking to the page.

Oct 13, 2008

Part One Autumn

This is my favorite time of year, the stretch between the middle of October until Thanksgiving. I love how each day I can see new changes in the landscape around me. The smells of leaves and the way it changes from sweet to hard. The loss of light steadies me, letting me know that it is time to dig in, create things, share with family, eat and cook lots. And so with that in mind Alder and I headed an hour south for a weekend with some of the women in my family for fair going and menu planning. There was also a stop with my godparents for a long talk about life on the porch.

Fried Dough

The View from the Porch

Just a Bite to Eat Before you go

The Thanksgiving Menu

Oct 9, 2008

A Blogging post

I've noticed ever since I started using Blogger Reader I have gotten pretty lazy about leaving comments on other people's blogs. Also there is no longer the excitement of opening up a blog I like to find that there is in fact a new post to read. So with these things in mind I am going to return my "reading list" to the side of my blog so I can once again start going to the blogs themselves. I know this isn't very thrilling for you to read but I felt like sharing.

If your wondering the date last night was wonderful. Abi I took your advice ;)

Oct 8, 2008

alone in the morning

Window view
The bright blue rental car is packed with three suitcases and they pulled out of the driveway about a half hour ago. Then Kevin left for work, the car protesting as he started it. Now the house is still I am alone with the autumn on a gray morning. From my desk I can see Morning Doves play on the wires across the street, dipping in and out of my view through the condensation. My hands are cold, making me think of the fingerless gloves I want to knit and through that to my friend who is pregnant across the pass. I wish I could be sitting with her talking about nothing like we did last summer. But the autumn is a time of selfish solitude for me, I love the transition from life to slumber I revel in the going darkness.

Tonight we will go on our first date since we moved from Colorado. Then we'll come home and tumble into bed, no one will join us in the middle of the night, no one will come in the morning and list all of our body parts and ask for kisses on his. But for one night and morning it is okay.

Oct 6, 2008

Saturday's Market

The market



Kevin's parents are in town so I thought I would leave you with a few pictures from the farmer's market this past weekend.

Oct 4, 2008

Learning from each other

Finding the trail

The other day Alder and I went for a hike in a near by state park. As we followed the short trail Alder and I made a game of finding the trail markers, every tree that had a dash of blue paint he would go up to and point out. We followed only the blue ones, leaving the gray ones when they were no longer on the same trees (the gray trail went off another direction). It was a fun game that lasted the entire mile of the short loop trail but it was much more than that too. Alder is learning an important skill in our lives. We go hiking a lot so knowing how to follow trail markers is important. Perhaps it the Jewish mother in me coming out but I do have nightmares (the awake variety) of loosing Alder in the woods.

But showing him how to find the trail is more than teaching him an important safety skill it is a way to include him in something that we do together as a family. Until now he had always either ridden in the backpack or just stomped through the woods finding pine cones and "nut-corns" (acorns) but the other day he was aware of the "nut-corns" as well as the painted markings. He would run from tree to tree, still stopping to explore the undergrowth but excited at each painted mark he found. Even today as we uploaded the pictures he pointed to this one as said paint.

At the time that I showed him the paint marks it was more of an after thought, something I did to quell my own imagination, but as we hiked on I realized that showing him the trail markers was a way of sharing something I loved with him, introducing him to my world, the same way that giving him small balls of yarn and some knitting needles to play with while I'm knitting includes him. He watches us and knows when we care about something, these are the things that he tries to join in. Some days I catch him standing in the same position Kevin does he standing meditation, quietly looking at the world around him.

But he isn't just a little mimic, there are so many activities I would have never thought of doing if it wasn't for him. I catch myself walking on the raised edges of sidewalks when I am walking to work alone, or counting motorcycles as I pass them in the car, these are his activities that I have now adopted. He has also taught me to slow down (a process that was begun by our cat five years ago) some day we don't leave the house. He can find hours of things to do in these five rooms. Or we may take an hour to walk six blocks, not because we are talking to others but because there is so much to explore, walls to walk on, slugs to follow as they make their way across the sidewalk, puddles to jump in until they no longer have any water left, and cats to watch as they stalk birds.

So while I am bringing him into my world he is doing same for me.