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"
Keep close to yourself. In my other words, continue to honor that beautiful creature, you. Every thought, action and project that defines you is worth your time and undoubtedly is right. Again, not the right words but I'm trying to say that you are definitively distilling you. You are so dear. I love you.
Whose day could not cheer up after receiving that in an email from a dear friend across the country?
Surprisingly, having Kevin's family here was not stressful. Actually it's not surprising, they are such low key people that spending time with them is usually pleasurable and I was sad to see them go this morning. I'll have lots of pictures to post tomorrow.
As I was saying before I felt like I need some sort of overarching focus for all my creativity. I have all these ideas rolling around in my head with no focus. But then the other day when we were talking with Kevin's family about the store and its name his dad asked what the Seven in Seven Mountain stood for. Without thinking I listed our seven principles that we think are important and then it hit me that these were still really what focus me and that rather than going looking for a new set of ideas that I have them right in front of me.
I like how looking at life through the lens of these ideas seems. I've only tried this on for a few days but it might just be what fits well for me. So rather than spending any more time pondering I am going to just get started.
'No, don't do that," Grandma quietly reprimanded Alder the other day while they were eating. He looked at her incredulously wondering what was so wrong. A spoonful of yogurt on his sweater was only part of eating wasn't it. Each time he eats there is one less spoonful on his clothing and one more time that he decides to wipe his own face with his napkin.
Grandma meant no harm, he was just trying to get him to keep clean, she wasn't angry at him or annoyed. No was just the first word out of her mouth, it's instinct to say No to kids. To halt them in the middle of what ever process they are in because something doesn't fit with our adult perception of how their situation should play out. No falls so easily from the lips it comes to mean stop and halt and don't do that to the point where the language learning child only sees the emotions behind the word (bad child) and gains no understanding.
So we avoid No as much as possible in our house. If what he is doing is not harming him, others or the place we are he basically can do what he likes. Rather we try to help him to understand when different sorts of activities shouldn't happen. Grabbing Mama's legs while she is pouring pasta into the colander gets a "hot" while throwing the pile of bills on the desk gets "find something else to do." He understands these words and phrases not just as cues and as ideas. "Finding something else to do" usually sends him off to get a pan or a toy to play with, without confrontation or feeling like we are mad with him. I know he isn't trying to mess up the important papers, he doesn't even understand what they are other than a tempting stack to be knocked over. If we aren't in the middle of something, like the pasta, we immediately help him to find something to do that we are both happy with.
Of course, often these cases are really just that he needs our attention and love. I am always amazed when I remember to play with him for a half hour uninterrupted before I cook dinner or do some other grownup thing how much easier it is for him to be content to occupy himself'. On days we spend the whole day together I always make sure there is a lot of Alder chosen activities interspersed with my needs. If we have errands to do during the day I know that it's better to do them early ending with a park or hike for a while. If it's nasty out a long bath is always good for smiles so is play-dough or dried beans in a bowl of water. I don't feel that we are here to train our children to only fit our needs, we should be spending our time learning them, understanding what makes both of our days happy and peaceful.
Are we perfect? Of course not, especially when we are tired and grumpy it is easy to forget and slip into No mode. That doesn't help the situation, barking off No at random for actions that are usually okay or met with gentle or some other cue only frustrates and confuses him. This usually ends in tear.
There are times we use No on purpose, they are rare and are only when his safety are involved. Knives and traffic seem to be the main ones but everything else there is always time. (I should say we don't leave knives around on purpose but occasionally Alder has climbed onto the dinning room table while we're setting or clearing it and has grabbed the knife).
There is a second reason that we avoid the word No, and it is been successful. It seems that so many children it is one of their first words and then they go around saying it a lot, and I really wanted to avoid that. We figured if we were not saying it all the time then he might not use it as much. So far this has worked, while he might shake his head if he doesn't want a certain food or piece of clothing, the words he has right now don't include any negative. We have: yeah, teeth, shoes, eyes, tree, cat, ma(more), ha (hot), Papa and Mama, Mom, and Momi!
Sure he can be a wild monkey but our wild monkey also loves to line shoes up in rows and is starting to clear the table on his own volition.
Just a few of the people we're going to see this weekend.
Kevin and I were planning on having a quiet week. Sure we were going to meet up with the family for a big sugar shack breakfast on Saturday, but we were really going to focus this week on focusing and simplifying. But then yesterday afternoon Kevin's dad call to say that they have to go to Kansas City and that they might as well drive out and visit us as well. Let me explain that is saying basically that they are turning a 1600 mile round trip into a 4000 one. Not only that but they'll be here tomorrow night.
Needless to say our plans for a restorative and planning week have disappeared. Instead we will be wrapped in lots of family goodness. This does mean that there are curtains to make and corners we've forgotten about to clean. Have I mentioned the bathroom lately? Well that to needs a serious deep cleaning job. I love Kevin's family and can't wait to see them. But his mom is such a fanatical cleaner that I have some work to do.
Mix that in with a Purim Party tonight (I slacked Alder is going in the same costume as Halloween) and an article due this afternoon, I am one stressed puppy (that would be a Kevinism).
What is my focus? I find myself asking a lot lately. I am a mama, I am a partner, I write, I run a business, I parent, I make things, I make art, I wander, I read, I am a daughter, I am a niece .... The list goes on, these are all things that are important parts of me. But they just seem to compile until I am more like a random stack on my desk than a woman. I am lost among the books and bobbins, diapers and business cards. I rush from one identity to another never staying long enough in one to get comfortable, or to see how they might fit together. I am tired worn thin; simultaneously inspired by everything and uninspired.
For the last week I have mulled over how all these pieces fit into a nice bundle rather than a pile. Mulling, gestation, whatever word you want to use is when you just let things surface on their own without working at it. I merely kept these ideas in my mind and allowed for them to percolate. Any that came up was written down without too much commitment. It's been ten days now and I think it's time to take all these pieces of paper together and see what meshes. Try to find how I can be all these things together, instead of at once.
Note: Picture was taken of me with an original Polaroid camera about seven years ago by Alex on a delicious day in her old apartment in Brooklyn. Now I live out here close by, yet she has moved the other way and is in LA. Isn't that the way of life?
In Trackless Woods In trackless woods, it puzzled me to find Four great rock maples seemingly aligned, As if they had been set out in a row Before some house a century ago, To edge the property and lend some shade. I looked to see if ancient wheels had made Old ruts to which these trees ran parallel, But there were none, so far as I could tell- There's been no roadway. Not could I find the square Depression of a cellar anywhere, And so I tramped on further, to survey Amazing patterns in a hornbeam spray Or spirals in a pinecone, under trees Not subject to our stiff geometries. - Richard Wilbur
I found this poem cut out and sitting on a table at the cabin last weekend and promptly fell in love with it. I feel like I know the woods that he was walking through, there just down from here by the "dutch gate' where you can follow the trail along the river until it disappears near the old mill ruins. I've spent hundreds of hours in those woods, not just as a child but as an adult as well.
But since we've been back, even though we're out at the cabin often, I haven't had the chance to just walk my woods. There are people to see or small feet to accommodate. When I do find a few moments to myself I am drawn to quiet corners where I can read my book.
Now that Spring is entering the air I think I need to start wandering my woods. There are so many answers there, when you are there alone. When I was in high school and we would come for the weekend I would be full of internal turmoil and bile only walking alone on unseen trails and old dirt roads would soften my emotions. These are woods where time is not constant, hours may pass while walking for a few minutes or on other days I could sit for hours and come back home only twenty minutes later. But they take the time they need to show you what is needed.
When I was young some of what I would see was not there, like the house I spied from my spot on an boulder. In my mind I was sure that there was a house someone else had built on our land (not all of the land I wandered was ours). Not only that but my imagination let me see the limousine and butler of the owner (himself an evil short man with a black trench coat). I ran back to the house as quietly and quickly as I could, telling my father about what I had seen. Together we returned to the spot, but with him there I looked again and we saw the fallen trees (the house and limo) and the dark brush (the butler).
Sitting here I can smell the damp earth and decaying leaves of the spring melt. I know the feeling of the soft ground interrupted occasionally by hidden slabs of ice and spongy bits where the ground becomes more water than mud. I want to be on that tramp where I know that I will come home with wet socks and pockets full of treasures.
I've been remiss in showing what I've been up to in the last few weeks, partially because I haven't done a lot. So here are a few of the projects that I have been working on.
These are the first set of silk screening images. At first they were just going to be t-shirts but I think I'm going to print some on wood as well.
Father and Son
A Knitter Among the Crowd
I've also been trying to use up a lot of the scrap material I have around and these homes started to appear in my mind, I'd like to make enough to put on a banner.
This is kept me up late last night, it's my first big piece of work with linen and I really like the color combination, I'd keep it myself except our dinning room is full of red tones and it looks out of place. The Runner is up for sale in my etsy shop
7 am Wake up and cuddle time, that's until someone has to go to the bathroom.
8am Breakfast as a family, super yummy corn porridge,
9:45 Head out in the snowy weather to Manchester for story time at the bookstore (yes we drive 25 miles each way once a week for story time)
10:30 Story time at the Northshire Bookstore. Which involves a lot of not sitting and listening but wandering around the children's floor retrieving toys to play with briefly. It also means being around other mama's I like.
11:45 Lunch at Spiral Press Cafe, we have been unfortunately dubbed the Mommies Club. Good healthy food. Alder is the oldest of the lot so he sits in a booster seat instead of a high chair. At the end of the meal Alder takes everyone's trash to the garbage.
12:00 Back up stairs with a few friends to play in the children's section. It would be so much fun to be the buyer for the toys and games up there.
1:00 Search for regional geology book for Kevin with no luck.
1:15 Head back home in even more snow.
2:00 Visit Kevin at work, so I can check my email. During this time Alder falls asleep in Kevin's arms and takes a nap in the display crib (wow this is the second nap in as many weeks)
2:45 While Alder naps I visit a friend at her shop across the street for a little while.
3:30 Alder wakes up and we head to the grocery store.
4:00 Snacking begins granola bars dipped in plain yogurt (yum). While snacking I start dinner, I felt like making something pretty. We end up with Broiled Haddock in a sweet chili rub with yellow pepper salsa, sautéed brussel sprouts, and onion pablano pepper rice. No recipes just futzing with what we have around the house, except the haddock. Alder discovers he likes a capella music.
6:00 Family dinner, Alder managed to eat most of the brussel sprouts and a fair bit of rice.
6:45 I take staged photos for my new article.
7:30 Write blog and send photos in.
[Other new Alder news. Now he's walking down the stairs. Saying bye-bye, teeth (when touching his our someone else's). Runs everywhere. Is starting to play pretend. Is in that weird stage of understanding tons more than he can express himself. Has given up on playing by himself, he needs one of us to be in the room with him, not doing anything too real but not playing with him.]
I try not to dwell to much on religious things here unless they seem to have a larger effect on my life. That is the case with something I learned this past week in Temple. You see the Jewish calendar is a lunar one, which means that 7 out of every 19 years we repeat the month of Adar )don't ask me to do the math). When I heard that I realized that we had been given a reprieve, from all the tough things and attitudes we've had this past month. Because according to the tradition it is the first month of Adar that is the extra on. With that out of the way we had a chance to undo and redo all the things that have happened.
Second I learned that the month of Adar is a joyous month, you are supposed to tell jokes on the first day of the month. This is exactly what we need, a little more light in our lives. Between the humor and the change of daylight savings things are beginning to look a lot brighter. What could be better after a month of bad attitude, sickness, arguments, and death.
It hasn't been more than a few hours since my last post but once again the mailman came in with only goodness. I received a package from Miguette, of Small Packages. I've been a fan of Miguette's creations for a while, her Market Girls were some of the first orders I put in for the shop. Thank you for the new mail-love it made my rainy full of work day!!!!!!
The other day, when I was feeling unsure about the world, what with another day of rainy sleet. My day was turned around when the mailman showed up with only two pieces of mail. Both we for me, hand addressed and both full of love.
A note of condolence to our family because of Bancha. There son, 5 years old said "All cats go to the cat kingdom...so there."
Amanda from The Rowdy Pea sent this great package of paper goods with a spring time theme.
After I opened the mail the day seemed so much better.
It's been unusually quite this past few days with the rain and other nasty weather. To pass the time when I'm at the shop I've been sketching a lot. It felt good just to draw and play with colors for hours on end.
So I got a lot of requests for the Nested Eggs recipe so here it goes. By the way this was inspired by an eggs Florentine recipe I read on another blog... unfortunately it was a link to a link so I took the basics and ran with it. There are a lot of steps but none of them are difficult.
Time: 30 minutes
Eggs, 2 per person (keep them in the fridge 'til the last moment) English Muffins 1/2 per person Veggies to sautéed (I used fennel bulb) 1 small clove of garlic Butter (or oil) Parmesan Cheese get a block and grate it yourself for real goodness(don't bother with kraft) Fresh cream (I supose you could use something else but why this is an indulgence)
Ramekins (they should be 4" deep) 1 per person Mixer with whisk attachment, or a lot of patience and a hand whisk
1) Butter or grease ramekins, make sure you get them on the bottom and all the way up the sides, you'll regret it when you are doing dishes if you aren't thorough.
2) Preheat oven to 350
3) Sautee veggies. If you decide on fennel use the bulb section and slice it very thin. You only need enough for a 1/2 inch layer in the ramekin. When the veggies are done remove them from the heat.
4) Separate eggs, putting the whites directly into the mixer and the yolks, still in their sacks into a bowl. This is the one part of the recipe that you have to be careful about, if you break the sack then it doesn't work. My trick is to use my hands to seperate the eggs instead of the shell or cups, that way I know exactly whats going on with the egg. Don't forget to remove any rings you have on before doing this part.
5) Whisk whites until stiff. Don't be a coward I really mean stiff not soggy or saggy in the least bit.
6) Cut English Muffins in half and spread with butter, if you are forgetful like me and have to take your butter out of the freezer then melt about a table spoon per two servings on the stove.
7) Place the English Muffins in the ramekins, dribble a little cream around the edges until you feel like they are probably damp.
8) Add a layer of sauteed veggie, not to thick.
9) Spoon egg whites on top until almost even with the top of the ramekin. Don't worry there will be some left in the bowl, don't pile it on otherwise it will spill in the oven.
10) Push the egg whites to the sides so there is a little nest for the yolks to sit in.
11) Grate cheese over whole thing, enough that it isn't a sprinkle but not so much that you can't see the yolks.
12) Put them in the oven for 15 minutes. edit: the eggs should have a slightly browned shell (like a perfectly cooked marshmallow)
13) Serve right away at a pretty table.
1) If you have children who do not like eggs or bread (like a certain little boy I know) you can make it just with the egg whites and cheese and make what is essentially a cheese meringue. This works well because since there is usually a lot of egg white left over.
2) I mention melting butter on the stove, we don't have a microwave, besides I swear that it tastes different.
3) If you are not using dairy in this recipe I would suggest almond milk over say milk since soy has egg like properties when baking.
4) This meal needs a nicely set table, it's just so pretty so have fun with it!!!!
5) I wouldn't serve meat with this dish since the flavors in this are delicate and bacon or sausage would over power it.
Thank you guys for your interest in the dish, I'll try to post any other good dishes I come up with.
Never have I had a month so full of reasons to give up. I always forget just what February is like until I am full ensconced in it. I think it's different in Colorado where it's sunny between the snows and fifty degree days pop up regularly. Here in Vermont there's more darkness, more cold, more of a lot of things. This month has been a tough one with thoughts of moving, a dying cat, and few customers (snow keeps people home). But we've made it through somewhat intact.
To celebrate the beginning of March I made nested eggs this morning. It's one of those very cool looking delicious breakfasts that don't take too much effort. Even Alder, who doesn't like eggs, enjoyed the cheesy meringue.