Wednesday, July 10, 2013

I can't seem to get further than beginnings today..

There was little she could do about the passage of time. It trod on, and she was forced to keep up with it. It tugged at her body and her face, changing them slowly into things unrecognizable to her. Wasn't she young? Wasn't she taut skinned and firm breasted and smooth as satin? She woke in the morning and when she stretched out she felt perfect, and luxuriant, and supple. It was gravity that reminded her gently of her body's age. And aside from the shocking incongruity of it, she didn't so much mind. Aging was an inevitability, and with it came marvelous gifts. She loved the depth of her mind, the breadth of her interests, the wondrous height of respect and love she had grown to have for herself.


Boris is wailing and lamenting. He stalks from the bathroom into the kitchen, looks at me, wails anew. When I don't respond he turns tail and heads back to the bathroom window. I don't know what has caused this sudden and relentless discontent in him. He has been indoors now for a few years and for the most part seems a very content cat. It's driving me a little crazy. I pick him up and scratch his chin, give him rapid fire kisses on his throat, and he purrs. But when I put him down he's back at it. Even catnip only temporarily curtails his vocal longings for 'freeedommmm'.


She sat quietly, trying to compose herself. To create herself as a symphony, as an epic poem, as a damned haiku. There had been a time when she had considered herself 'prolific'. The creativity poured from her then, keeping her awake at night and making her cranky when life interfered with the expression of it. Now, she sat quietly, willing it to come. Pleading with that deep reservoir in her to overwhelm whatever it was that was blocking her up. Creative constipation.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

I love cleaning.

I was going to write about a window cleaner, because I love cleaning windows. But this is what it became instead.

She'd never intended to be a house cleaner. It's certainly not as though she had aspired to it as a child or anything. Nonetheless it had evolved through a series of small choices, as so many things in her life had. The beauty of it, she realized, was that she loved what she did. Loved it unquestioningly, ceaselessly, and simply. When she entered a client's house, she would sometimes shudder. Not from disgust, or from judgement. Never that. The shudder that would roll through her came from a place of sheer anticipation. She was about to transform a space, and, she imagined, to make people feel as wonderful as she always felt in the midst of cleanliness and order.

She worked while her clients were themselves out working. They toiled at jobs that afforded them great big homes and absolutely no time to tend to them. She never failed to give a holler on entering a home. She had once arrived an hour early for a job and inadvertently strode into the master bedroom while the home owners were in the midst of a weekly 'engagement' that had terrified her and embarrassed all three of them. She promptly left, returning at her appointed time and assuming she would be fired. But the following week, there was her usual check and a polite little note reminding her of her start time. It taught her to never arrive unexpectedly, and to always, always give a holler when you come through the door.

After she greeted the resident pet, rare as they are in these ornamental and silent homes, she headed straight for the kitchen. The heart of the home, she always maintained, and second dirtiest only to the bathrooms. She had an eye for details and took pride in cleaning light switches, silverware drawers, cupboard doors, underneath sinks, and garbage cans. Places most people didn't even notice getting dirty. But the ones who did notice were the people she chose to work for, and they were the reason she could afford to clean only four houses a week. They valued the results of her detail oriented labor, and paid her accordingly.

Surfaces were well dusted, with knickknacks removed and replaced to please her own eye. She knew this illustrated to her clients that she dusted thoroughly and didn't just wipe around things. She also felt that her own decorative aesthetic was universally pleasing. She had never had a complaint, which emboldened her to occasionally rearrange an entire room. She believed in more than just cleaning a space. She felt that one's surroundings contribute to either a sense of calm or of chaos. She took intense pleasure in entering a room that looked beautiful, and felt clean and uncluttered. Even if a client uncharacteristically requested something like 'please only dust in the living room' they still came home to find tidy piles, bookshelves rearranged alphabetically, pillows plumped, and drapes pulled back just enough to let the evening sun softly filter into the room.

Tending to the upstairs of each and every home she entered was her favorite part of the job, and she always saved it for last. This is where people are truly at home, she thought. This is where hair comes down, bras come off, and the deeply vulnerable acts of bathing and sleeping happened. Though she was detail oriented everywhere, she took extra care here. She took care of common areas first, such as landings and libraries and offices. Always the dirtiest rooms in any home, she took a singular pleasure in leaving the bathrooms sparkling. Bedrooms, always her favorite part of a house to tend, came last. Children's rooms made her feel nostalgic as she worked. She organized toys, paying close attention to which ones were left in unmade beds. When she remade those ordinary beds with one corner of the sheets and comforter turned down,  it suddenly became special. A waiting bed, a comforting, beckoning bed. The child's favored toy would be carefully tucked in under the fold with its head resting on the pillow. She remembered how hard it had been to learn multiplication tables and to navigate the changeable waters of friendship and the humiliation that came so easily in gym class. And how coming home to her own childhood room had felt. How her own favorite toy would be waiting to greet and comfort her.

Teenagers rooms were intimidating. She was shocked by the things she saw in most of them. And while she was still fastidious, she knew better than to rearrange anything. She did her job and left these rooms less chaotic and smelling much better than when she entered.

In master bedrooms she felt her kindness and her care meet most conscientiously. She moved about with the intent of creating a peaceful, lovely, and quiet space. Each surface was dusted, each item replaced with an eye to convenience and beauty. The bed was completely re made, the covers turned down and the pillows fluffed. She imagined the people who occupied these rooms stepping through the door and taking it all in. She hoped that in seeing all of the details she had minded, they would feel safe, relaxed, and cared for.

As she left whichever home she had just cleaned, she felt proud of the job she'd done, and confident that no fault could be found. She could lock the door behind her and be done with it. As she walked to her car, she felt so much better than she ever had leaving a courtroom. Even when she won. She had definitely taken a step up in the world.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

a perfect moment at a time

I feel like writing simply feels so joyful and ripe. Nik is recovered enough from her flu that she accompanied me on my dog walking walk today. It's hard to see her unwell. She's so active and has been entirely healthy for two years, and this flu has been a sad, sad flu. BUT...the up and about Nik'l I saw today has sparked my temporarily put-to-rest travel bug, and I am feeling all ants in the pants to go away again. We had been planning on seeing Gettysburg, and then camping in MD, a first for us both. New places to see and experience together! Let the planning commence!!
I also created something new today! It's a gift though, and as I've no idea if its recipient looks at this blog, I won't be posting any images of it. felt really wonderful to make something where once there was just a box of matches. And to wrap it up and get it set to ship tomorrow! The giving of a gift is so joy making  in itself.
I'm feeling grateful, and today held many little treasures, so I'll end this entry with a small list of..

*waking up to Bijou's mewing 'now? nowww? nnowwwww?' and letting her in for a morning snuggle
*A perfectly toasted multi grain bagel, lots of butter
*Seeing Nik'l up and dressed and energetic
*being greeted by Ruth, my great dane friend
*laughing with my bff on the phone, and making happy time-together plans
*touching base with a friend who is far away, and feeling happier for it
*my brother butch and the beautiful cupboards he painted
*hearing bird song, feeling warm breezes, and watching the summer light change as evening sets in
*feeling utterly content in this moment

And realizing that in each moment of this day, even when I felt cranky, there was perfection....

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

the difference between making and creating

I wrote awhile back about the woman on etsy who began making my bridesmaid boxes. I struggled deeply with my belief that she was taking sales from me. I worked through my anger and fear by creating new designs, and improving my own items. Which felt good. I put all of my energy into this, trying to set myself apart from her and to compete with her for sales. For months, I've been doing this. But a few nights ago I had this thought..."When did I stop 'creating' and settle for 'making'?" I haven't created anything in ages. The thing that sets me apart from this woman is my creativity. The bridesmaid invitation boxes are lovely, and I value the connections I make through them, but anyone can make them. My collages, shadowboxes and cards, however, are entirely unique because they are expressions of me! I had lost sight of my joy and my values. Of creating things that I love. When I'm creating, I feel excited. I am full of energy and enthusiasm and ideas. For too long I have focused on making, and competing.
So in my heart, I let the bridesmaid boxes go. I still offer them, I still make them, and I still value the connections and wage I make with them. But my primary focus has shifted back into creating. The thrill that has come along with this internal shift has been amazing! I am full of ideas and a huge burst of energy. The irony is that the day after I let the bridesmaid boxes go, I sold 10 of them.:) Funny how releasing something works.
And so, I am learning how to make tiny books and will create wee small shadowboxes with their very own stories. And I will encapsulate unicorn energy and curiosity and wonder in containers of all shapes and sizes. I will dream and create and share. And I will not need to compete. Because I will simply Be, and no one else can touch that.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

An ABC horror story

I had no idea that this is where this story would go. I thought it was going to be a fairy tale!

 Abilene knew to never enter the forest, regardless of the time of day or who she was with. Bernard, her older brothers best friend, had done it on a dare one day, and had been missing for nearly 9 years. Carefree as her childhood was, the shadow of danger hung over it like a veil. Danger, lurking in the tree line. Edging ever closer to her own back yard. Father told her stories from his own youth, and of the friend who, like Bernard, disappeared one day.
Gravel crunched under Abilene's tires as she rode her bike one hot, still summer day. Her hair clung to her neck and dust rose into the air to settle on her skin, making little muddy rivulets of sweat on her face. Ivy had begun to creep out of the forest to climb the jungle gym on the outskirts of town. Jump ropes and jacks lay forgotten, having been abandoned hastily when rumor spread that the forest had claimed a child who was only near and not in it. Kicking at rocks as she walked, head down, Abilene tried hard not to look into the shadows. Longing filled her, and she imagined herself bravely running straight into those forbidden woods. Maybe she would be the one to liberate all of those long lost children.  
Night fell softly in the fragrant way that hot summer nights fall. Overhead the street lights began to flicker, calling Abilene home to supper, and a bath and cool, clean sheets. Perched on a tree limb at the edge of the woods, a bird called out a haunting and lovely song. Queerly shaped and large, it sang again and though it sounded lovely Abilene felt the hair on her neck and arms rise in response. Retreating a few steps, she stared at the bird until her eyes ached and played tricks on her. She knew, as surely as she knew her own name, that this was the unknowable fear, the taker of children, the danger she had heard tell of her entire life. The bird dropped awkwardly from its perch, and began a lumbering shuffle toward her. Uttering a cry of revulsion, Abilene bent, feeling for rocks, unable to look away from the bird and its slow approach. Vulture body, hunched and huge, a scarred and ancient face, a ragged beak. Witches, Abilene knew, were kind and and gentle and lived close to nature; this was no witch. X's of puckered flesh covered its eyes, but Abilene could feel it seeing her. "You'll hear my name and lose your own" the bird sang to her, "lose your mind and never go home". "Zeeenabrahaaavvnaaaaa", the name came sweetly from its twisted beak and slid through the fragrant night air, and it was the last thing Abilene ever heard.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

642 things to write about...#1

Annie woke gently, and stretched in the pre dawn light. Birds were just beginning to serenade the morning outside her window. Carefully, she lifted the edge of the curtain and peered out. Daylight's slow approach turned the sky into a seamless piece of ombre silk. Everything was still, and her world, in that moment, felt like the pause between breathes, poised, silent. Faraway, she could hear the crowing of a single rooster, boisterous and joyful. Gershwin appeared at the end of Annie's bed in that silent way that cats suddenly appear. He mewed and mrowed and butted his head against her chin, purring his good morning to her.
In the kitchen, they moved about their routines with purpose. Jumping to the top of the refrigerator, Gershwin oversaw Annie's breakfast preparations from the corner of his eye as he went about his morning grooming. Knife in hand, she sliced her bagel as she spoke softly to Gershwin. "Life is full of so much possibility", she explained to him, "and not a thing to be napped through". Maybe, thought Gershwin, maybe not. Not that he was opposed to being awake, mind you. Often he was up for hours on end playing and patrolling the house. People simply lacked the ability to relish a good cat nap, he figured. Quiet and stillness seemed unattainable to them, except at night which as any cat knew was the very best time to stalk shadows. Reaching a paw out to pat Annie's hair as she walked by, Gershwin felt sorry for his person. She was such a slave to her humanity.Today he would bird watch,and he would sleep in beams of sunlight between eating and playing and sleeping some more. Underneath the porch, he knew, was a family of mice whom he would kill come evening. Virtually every moment of his day held purpose. "We need groceries, and I need to go to the dry cleaners" Annie prattled on. X-ray vision couldn't show Gershwin a clearer picture of her inner workings. Yawning extravagantly, he turned his back on her and thought " and I have at least 4 naps to fit in before lunch". Zzzzzzzzzzzz.

This was FUN! The assignment was to tell a story in which each sentence begins with a letter of the alphabet, moving sequentially..A,B,C, etc.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Shampoo Free...Still!

It's been nearly a year since I decided to go Shampoo Free. Here's a bit of background as to how I came to it.
A few years ago I began struggling with dandruff for the first time ever. I started using a dandruff shampoo, and thus began my weekly cycle...Wash hair, which then gets fluffy and frizzy, scalp feels itchy. Two days or so later, oily hair, itchy scalp. Wash. Itch. Repeat. I got pretty fed up, and at about the same time, my love read about sodium laurel sulphate, which is in most soaps and shampoos...and engine de-greasers, floor cleaners, and car wash soaps. Scary, toxic stuff.
This new knowledge Thoroughly freaked me out. I eat organic, yet I was bathing in toxins? No thank you. So I started to look into alternatives. I searched the internet, hoping to find some organic shampoo, but what I found instead was the 'No 'poo movement'. And I was thrilled. The theory was simple. Our bodies regulate themselves just fine. This includes our scalps ability to produce enough oil to maintain it's own health. When we shampoo with a chemical like SLS it strips our scalp Entirely of oil, which then causes our scalp to over produce in order to compensate. Going shampoo free allows our scalp to regulate itself, and the results are beautiful.
Here is my original blog entry from that time..
It's been almost an entire year! I've learned a lot by reading about others experiences, but mainly through trial and error.
Here's where I am today...I began to boil my water after realizing that it's 'hard water' and may have been the original cause of my dandruff(!). I add baking soda while the water is still hot but no longer boiling. There's a fun volcanic reaction, after which I have a silky, slippery feeling water/baking powder solution. I put the mixture into a reusable water bottle with a pop top. I just shake it up to wash my hair. I rinse with faucet water, but I always re rinse with a boiled water (cooled down of course!!) and lemon mixture. I massage that into my scalp, let it sit a few minutes and then give it one more rinse with boiled and cooled water. I tried using apple cider vinegar as a conditioning rinse for awhile. People swear by it but I couldn't stand the smell. It pretty much disappears after your hair dries, but if I went go to yoga, and my head got hot or started to sweat, I emanated salad scents. Not so appealing.
Here is my hair now...
Obviously, I've also spent the year letting it grow! I am itch and dandruff free. I've also managed to switch to soap, deodorant, makeup, and toothpaste which are all SLS, paraben, and phthlates FREE.

I highly encourage you to make the leap! The first few weeks was a rough transition, but beyond that it's been amazing. Read a lot, try things, ask questions, and be willing to be greasy for awhile!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Lost, spring, yoga, and randomness.

I'm officially Lost. I never watched it when it originally aired, but thanks to that Enabler, Netflix, I am on 5 episodes a day. At least. And facing a 10 day cold turkey withdrawal. It's wrong...just...wrong.

Also, spring is HERE! It is beautiful, and there are big fat buds on the trees and the daffodils are up and in bloom. We walked and walked today. It was perfect, and there was sun on our skin and I broke a sweat. Brilliant.

I've been taking yoga classes with my bf. For the first time since the infamous Japanese Turnip Back Injury at the farm, I feel well. I feel well, and strong, and my back feels so good. It hurts after class, being all tender and stretched in many directions. But by the next day it just feels like all of the other muscles in my body. A bit tore up, but mending into something stronger. I love it so so much. And am crazy grateful.

It's been too long since I've written anything fiction-y. And I'm feeling the urge. Soon. Sunday, I think. I'll take time, clear my head, and let someone's story flow out of me.

Random blog entry. Random. But it feels good to put it out there into the blogosphere. And in keeping with randomness, the potential makings of a potential ring box...

Sunday, April 7, 2013

visiting, and change and how good it feels

There is an easy anticipation in this day. We woke and lingered and have moved about the morning with purpose. As my thoughts shift toward heading to the Cappy Ranch for an overnight, I find myself in between the tug of the familiar and the lure of change. It's how traveling feels. As I prepare to leave home, there is suddenly such a connection to what I'm leaving behind. I feel badly for Bijou, who is so rooted in her routines with us, and is such a weird, changeable cat when routines are disrupted. I worry about all of the 'things' I feel tied to. The possessions I love. But the lure of 'Away' is stronger. And I long for the feeling that going outside of routines creates in me. Feeling stretched a little. Challenged. Seeing new things, and being in unfamiliar surroundings feels like it's giving my brain a little shake. I feel extra engaged and aware. I feel this to some degree even going to the Cappy's...though it is so familiar to me. The world is full of bird song there, and wind, and quiet. There is the canal, and room to run and the field that I love. It smells different there. It feels different in its open spaces. It changes something in me. I get to enjoy people I love, and to hang out with a perfect little sheltie, and sleep in the loft.
And now, I'll get back to the things I do before departing. Cleaning house, changing sheets, making sure the kids are set until their cat-guardian comes to visit. And I'll shift my thoughts toward the moment when we shut the door behind us and micro-mini adventure to a change of scene.

Friday, April 5, 2013

transformation, change, practice, and peace

I've been full of anxiety lately. It comes and it goes in my life, cyclically it seems. It could be cabin fever. It's supposed to be spring after all, but the temps have been struggling to hit 50, and when they do the wind chill makes it feel like it's in the 30's or 40's. But it's felt more specific than antsy travel buggy cabin fever. So I'm going to try to type my way through it.
I want to do this because I believe that we hard wire our brains over time. That the longer we believe something, the truer it becomes for us. I do not want to be preoccupied with fear and worry. I want to be a person who is present and full of gratitude. I want my brain hard wired for compassion, love, acceptance, generosity, peace, optimism, joy, and forgiveness. Embodying these things takes conscientious effort. I work every day to balance my Capricornian nature of being empathic and compassionate but also being 'right', which makes others 'wrong' if they don't do things the way I would. I tend to be a cautiously optimistic pessimist (and vice versa). Sometimes I'm a dreamy idealist, and have been known by some to be an overly dramatic fatalist. I am 'sweetly unassuming' and full of trust, when I'm not being closed off from and suspicious of others. There are all sorts of simultaneous characteristics in me, which I either embrace, or attempt to purge.
But for today, we focus on my recent anxiety...
I am anxious/nervous/worried...
1.that there won't be enough money
2.that I won't be able to pay bills
3.that I will never have my homestead/chickens
4.that I will never make enough money doing what I love
5.that my life will fall into monotony and I'll be full of longing for what I don't have

Okay. Now how do I find the root of these beliefs? Because I can easily say that

1a.There is Always enough. We are never lacking for anything that we need.
2a.We have always covered the bills, and on time.
3a.Whether I have the property, or the wee small home I desire doesn't matter. I find my bliss where I make it. I could be miserable in paradise (wherever you go, there you are).
4a.Again, there is always enough, and doing what I love feels amazing (as long as I don't burden it with pressure to make money).
5a.This is really about money again. I've been longing to travel, which is so important to both Nik and I and it is largely contingent upon having the money to do it.
So. It seems to come down to money, and the "security" it provides. On one hand, we need money for is the only recognized source of currency we have. On the other hand...that's so not true. I think this is where my longing to live off the grid comes in. Solar power, hunting for and growing food, working in trade, barter, cooperative living. These are all valid and viable ways to thrive in the world.

But, deeper even than money is the security it represents, and a belief that I Am Safe. That there are abundant resources available. That my longing for simplicity is supported. That as a child of the universe (of god) I am an integral part of the world. A wee small flo speck of brilliance and beauty and as I support I am supported. As I believe in I am believed in. As I love, I am loved. I make my choices every day, and some days I wallow in fear and I weep and I struggle. Some days I explore, and am full of curiosity and wonder and gratitude and faith. The key is in the choosing, I guess. And in the struggly off days to be compassionate and accepting of myself. To be full of nurturing and self care. To do these things, and then choose to let anxiety and fear go, and to open myself to beauty and connection and wonder.

I don't know if this shifted anything in me yet. I do know that there is joy in pronouncing OM in a room full of people, laughing with my best friend, sharing wonder with my love, listening deeply to nature, opening my heart. Practicing Trust. Believing that I am well. That I am safe. That my path is full of beauty and gifts.
So I'll end here, full of this positivity and gratitude. I'll carry this with me and keep on looking at the roots, and keep on practicing until change happens.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Life of Pi, gratitude, and actual pie

Spring is coming. Ohhh, yes, it is. I heard frogs. I saw geese being all settled down and mate-y. I see buds on the trees and the light is changing. It's a'comin'.
I feel full of delicious aliveness and excitement. i've pulled out summer clothes, only to put them away again...but still. They've been unearthed and there are plans in the works.
Nik'l and I went to the 1.75 movies today and saw Life Of Pi. Beauty and trauma and beauty. I loved the book and the film was wonderful and mostly true to it. Faith, chaos, beauty, fear, determination, survival, love, loss, grief, nature, religion. So much and so many remarkable moments and such huge beauty. It made me feel grateful to be alive. It made me grateful not to be in a life raft. It reinforced my deep deep repulsion to hyennas.
And now to make pies and relax into a beautiful evening with my love.
Easy. Easy.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

St. Patrick's is better than Valentine's Day!

In 2008, I spent my first St. Patricks day with Nik. Part of the day, anyway. We weren't dating yet, but got together in a small group for boiled supper and guiness at Ulrich's Pub. I wasn't crazy about the guiness, or the pour of Jameson I sipped, but the two, when sipped one right after the other elevated both flavors. The first of many culinary awakenings I've had thanks to Nik. Yum. We walked a bit and then she was gone. Off with some other friends and I spent a disproportionate amount of time that day trying to locate her again.
2009. We've been dating 6 months. The weather is glorious. We revisit Ulrich's and declare it 'tradition'. Nik turns to me mid parade and declares, "I'm going to propose to you on St. Patricks Day! In Ireland". It was touching and way cute and I laughed because at the time it felt impossible. That I would ever get engaged, or go to Ireland!
2010. On St Patricks day I wake to a ring and a promise. The ring is by Annie Adams, a local jewelry designer I love. And it resembles a compass, which has its own sweet and particular significance for Nik and I. Here is Nik being snubbed by Charles Schummer that day..
2011. We are in the midst of planning our trip to Ireland!! And I know we'll get engaged there..because she promised.

2012. My Mom had just passed away and I was feeling particularly, keenly appreciative of Nik, and wallowing in love. We were also a mere 5 months from our wedding! A cold, lovely year..lots of anticipation.
Us w our friend Sean that year.
And here is 2013!! Time has passed sweetly, and I feel grateful every day..but this particular day, St Patricks day, is full of extra sweetness and love. Our version of Valentine's day, I guess. Let the green hearts commence in flying from my eyes...

Thursday, March 14, 2013


I've been reading A Place Of My Own by Michael Pollan. It is making me think of silent, small structures with open windows full of birdsong and fragrant breezes. Of perfect order and beauty and potential.
He talks of daydreaming, saying that it is necessary to have a space in which to daydream that is private. That to really lose oneself in it there must be a closed door that ensures it's sacred silence. I love this. Though I find daydreaming within slices of silence, regardless of whether the door is opened or closed.
When I think of daydreaming, I first think of my childhood, and car rides. Sitting in the back seat, staring out at the passing world as it flew past the window unseen. I remember being so wholly engrossed as to feel frustrated at reaching our destination. There was something for me in the movement of the car (or school bus for that matter) that was especially conducive to daydreaming. I can't begin to know what used to occupy my mind on those trips.I can't recall who was in the front seat, or where we were driving to. Just the sensation of wonderful, self contained imaginings.
In my mid 20's I daydreamed about having babies. I imagined my body changing in pregnancy, and the miraculous little moments it would bring. I imagined the different ways I would have those imaginary babies, always at home, always with a fierce powerful joy at my ability to birth. The longing of those daydreams would often bring me to tears. I would sit, staring out the window of my apartment and cry and cry, with my chest swelling under the strength of my desire for babies I didn't want to raise. For nearly all of those imaginings culminated with the birth.
In the last few years I daydreamed my house in Vermont. I actively searched for it online, finding rough little spaces on a good piece of land and filling it in from there. I imagined the flow of my days, starting with the care of my hens before breakfast. I imagined working in my wee small studio, and looking out the windows at views full of trees, and our gardens, my little flock, my love blissfully planting or harvesting, or moving dirt. I imagined creating paths and private spots throughout the property where one could hide with a book. A hammock inside of a mosquito net. A nook between trees. A swing that arches out over the stream, a shady arbor, a labyrinth. And again, I ache with the longing a daydream creates in me.
I marvel at the magic of the daydream. In my experience it is future oriented, and always marked by a desire as yet unmet. It is different than the anticipation of an actual event, like a trip somewhere. I may imagine the things I'll see, or the way I may feel, but I won't fill in the blurred spaces with specific details. And remembrances are different too. Nostalgic longing feels softened by time and also warped by it. Embellishment or omission may happen there, but the parameters of the actual event are ever present to give memories their shape. In the daydream all things are fluid. My unicorn may be a dappled palomino. I may be a wolf on land who becomes a fresh water mermaid as soon as I wade into any lake in Vermont. I may have goats that don't cause mischief and pigs that don't smell really bad and not one but Two Great Danes who barely drool at all! Ever!
Give me a daydream. I'll start with imagining a door..

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Roller Derby, Friendship, Citrus

Seven-ish years ago I saw a tv show on A&E called Rollergirls. Having loved roller skating as a kid, it was so cool to me! I called my friend and said, let's make this happen in Buffalo. She connected online to a third woman, who had been on a roller derby league in her home state. We three met up at Spot coffee one day. Seven years later...the league has grown to four home teams, a travel team, a 'queens court' and a JR league for girls from 8-18. Pretty amazing stuff. My part in the Queen City Roller Girls ended years ago. I was completely invested and passionate in the first year. In love with it. But in subsequent years my interest waned. It became too political for me, to stressful. My love of it was the skating, and when I stopped skating...meh. I'm proud to have helped start the league, though. One of the other co founders was ousted and written out of the history for some bad behavior. Ousted, I could understand. But I felt that the re writing of the history set the precedent that it's alright to write all of us out. The third founder stuck in and is still super active, and she co founded the JR league. Different paths for us all.
Last night Nik and I went to a bout. And it felt lovely to see so many welcoming faces, to feel so much love, to laugh over shared histories. Some of these women I had called my friends, and through the evolution of time and events I would now call them acquaintances. As I moved through the process of leaving the league by degrees that felt strange at times. And stressful, and sad. Now it feels just fine. I love the league. I love it's place in my past. I love going to watch bouts, and reveling in the joy it brings to the women who are involved. So good, so so good.

We brought a new friend with us. (she gave us beautiful citrus that her mom picked from their yard and mailed from California) It's strange, the making of friends past a certain age. As kids it's effortless. You say, 'let's be friends' and they say 'okay' and then you're buddies. You hang out, you play tag, you argue over rules, then go right back to playing. As adults there seems more to navigate. Trust for one. We are so much more guarded as adults. There's also the latent teen-angsty-ness (that is the best word I've ever made up) of wanting to be liked. But it's been easy to get to know Jena. She's open, and funny, and really interesting. It makes me happy to make connections that feel genuine.
And I miss my unican friend, who is in paradise...and has the flu. Which has prolonged her stay in paradise. *sigh* is going to be 50+ degrees I must go. We're off for a hike today!!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

What defines success..

A few weeks back I was thrown for a loop. Every so often I search for my Etsy shop items through a general search. I check to see how soon they come up, what tag words I could be using, etc. In doing so I found a woman who is making my bridesmaid boxes. Same concept, same materials, similar style. She makes lots of other things that Other etsy sellers were making first too, and I'm not the only person whose idea she has borrowed. But the point is... it threw me for a loop. I felt threatened, I felt sad, I felt panicked. After some time, some talks, and some tears I decided it was a matter of stretching beyond what had become routine and to make new product. To improve, to change, and to work harder. All good stuff.
In the course of making these changes, and searching for my new listings, I stumbled across her again, and this time I looked at her sales. Oh, geez...this woman has made over 700 sales to my 136! In about the same period of time. I lamented the perceived theft of sales that ought to have been mine. I agonized over it. She is so successful!
And then I looked at her feedback. Which is 100% positive. But there were few comments, which offered brief and general praise of her fast shipping and professionalism. Then I read my own feedback. And I was overwhelmed with the beautiful outpourings of the women and men whom I've made things for. Sweet feedback, personal feedback, long comments about how I made them feel, how special they found the boxes, how much they loved them. And I felt so utterly successful at what I do. And while I would love to make more sales than I currently make, I feel so proud of the fact that I value more than just the exchange of goods for money, and that the people I work with feel that.
 Bridesmaid Invitation Boxes

 New Proposal Ring Boxes

Thursday, March 7, 2013

slump, withdrawal, and spring cleaning

Afternoon slump happening here. I've been extremely productive all morning, and suddenly...phwump! I want a cup of coffee, but have read that the best way through is cheese. Yes, cheese. So maybe I'll have some cheese...cake! Mmmm. Cheesecake and a cup of coffee. I wish I had some cheesecake. I'm in full torte withdrawal. Pappy's 70th birthday came complete with the most remarkable cake Ever. And we got to bring some home, but alas. The last of it disappeared in a humm of ummm noises last night.

Spring is fast approaching here in Buffalo. The geese are returning, the Robins are singing, and crocuses are..croaking.
As is usually the case come spring time, I'm eager to go someplace for a change of scene. I want to open the windows and move the furniture and build an addition onto the chicken coop. Oh, wait...we don't have a coop...yet!
For now I'll have a cup of coffee, and dust something.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Monkey Mind in a Hamster Wheel

My brain is continually spinning out ahead of me like a little dervish. I keep reeling it back in with list making and breathing and trying to talk my way to the root of it. I am moving around under a big canopy of worried thoughts and future responsibilities and things beyond my control. But when I try to look at it, all I see is the dervish, spinning and blurry.
I don't want to feel this way, and so I am trying to pin the source of it down with writing. To grab hold of one anxious thought at a time. Frustrated at the slippery seeming impossibility of this exercise. I feel like Captain Ahab, harpooning that damn big metaphor just below the surface of clear seeing, being pulled along by it, having no control. Only I have both of my legs, I am not adrift at sea, I am not battling a corpse-cheek colored whale of disproportionate size.
I am...flo.
I am...anxious today.
because...I feel responsible for another home and other kitties and I am going away over night and must therefore leave my responsibility in the hands of others.
...I feel anxious for those other kitties because I think that I'm the only one who'll love them up and clean their litter every day and continue to give them food security.
But in reality..
I am leaving for approximately 32 hours. The person taking over for me is a capable, responsible adult. The boys will not die for lack of my coos and pets and kisses. They will be fed. Even if their litter boxes don't get scooped tomorrow, there are 4 of them. They'll be okay. They'll be okay.
I'm okay. It's alright to go. It's alright to let go. Control. Releasing my need to control it all.
*pause for silence*
*pause to listen*
*pause to breathe*
I feel better, calmer, able to breathe silently and let my mind drift without it spinning away from me. I feel present here, at home, at the computer. Bijou is playing on the bed, throwing a twist tie around, and flinging herself after it. Nik'l is silent and reading in the kitchen. Boris dreams of opposable thumbs and catnip gardens. All is well and beautiful.
I'm ready to go on with this day. And if I feel anxious I will remind myself that it's alright to go. That this moment is all that there is, and that all is well in each given moment. That the point of my power is right here.
Last night we had supper with a neighbor who we've wanted to spend time with for quite awhile. And it felt really lovely, and she brought us tulips. Spring is so near. So so near.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

run-on, Ronia, and randomness

I'm feeling so utterly grateful today. It's not that this day has held any particular wonder in it. I didn't win anything or buy anything for myself or sell anything. I didn't go anywhere, except to run a few errands. I just feel so entirely present in what this day has offered me. I spent time helping a friend, and doing small things that will make her happy and which will help her. I spent time driving around with my love, laughing together at my drama, laughing at our observations of the world. I saw a worm on a rainy sidewalk, and smelled the earth's musty funky dirt thawing aroma which always signals spring to me. I feel open, and quiet, and ready for aunt flow to arrive. And when she does I will bundle up on the couch and read books and nap and talk softly with Nik'l and eat everything that I crave.
So so entirely blessed and grateful on this grey and rainy/snowy day. In this wonderfully meandering creative life. Every day I chose what to do, how to feel, where to go. I work hard on my shop, and making an income through doing what I love. I create beautiful things for the energy and pleasure it gives me. Lucky me.

I recently read Ronia the Robber's daughter by Astrid Lindgren. I recommend this book to you, whatever your gender or age. It is the perfect book. There is so much heart aching goodness in it. Childhood untamed, and unhampered and full of testing and freedom and joy. There is the loss of innocence that comes of learining what before was unquestioned. there is disappointment in parents, then new learned appreciation and gratitude for them, and there is parents disappointment in their children, and new learned respect and admiration for them. There is love, deep deep love, between people and for nature and animals and the seasons. There is loss by choice, and loss through death. There is grieving and healing, and forgiveness, and Ronia is a girl, a miraculous, simple, amazing girl, learning and feeling and living. These things, which barely touch the deep beauty of the writing, make it perfect.
Read Ronia.
I am naming a chicken after her. Or maybe a dog, someday.
And then there is this..
Which I love so much it's ridiculous.

Monday, January 28, 2013

it's that time again

Today I feel like Gollum. Only my golden ring is time. I want to write, but I want to create inventory, but I want to make new tiny things, but I want to work on that shadowbox, but I want to see a friend...

But I want to be alone. And to work on everything. and to eat directly from containers. and maybe nap. or read something sad on purpose and cry in the bathtub.

Did I mention pms? Did I need to?

Here are a few things i made yesterday and love so much..

Off to making, more more making...

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

On the mend, and loving what I make

I'm on day 5 of some relentless ailment that has made me long for Ann Boleyn's fate. Last Thursday it began with 'My throat feels scratchy', and it's spiraled from there. But, all is not lost. I'm feeling much better, though not yet well. Today I will bathe! I'm also determined to walk, but seeing as it's -16 with the windchill here in Buffalo, that will happen in a mall. Just like those adorable seniors who show up as soon as the doors open and do laps in their orthopedic sneakers. Only it's already 11am, and I won't likely wear sneakers.

I've had a fresh spate of views and emails about my matchbook cities. here are a couple..
 I love making these and I am grateful to the young man in NYC, who first inspired me to make them more than 20 years ago with his own very different matchbook city.
They're time and labor intensive. They make lots of glue balls and the occasional paper cut, but I love them. I've lowered the price some, too, in hopes of getting more wedding favor orders. it feels so good to make these for weddings. Especially when I'm able to mark the exact location on the map..
The hearts mark the location of Jaya and Raymond's wedding, and the bottom section has his childhood home on it. Happy Making.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Bridesmaid Invitation Gift Boxes

I Love making these boxes. I've had great success with them, and so far everyone who has ordered them has responded with so much enthusiasm.

 These came into being after I made my brother Butch a 'card' of little discs strung together that told a story in images. Here it is.. Earlier that month, I had ordered a tiny ceramic farm from an Etsy seller (also seen in the above post!), and it came in a little 3" round box, which I loved! As I searched for more of the boxes, hoping to make little dioramas in them, I found these paper mache boxes which I've used ever since.
I started making boxes that said 'I Love You', Thank You So Much' and the like. It was actually a customer who first said, 'could you make me one that says Will You Marry Me?'. I've been in a wee panic of late, as these boxes seem to be getting harder and harder to find. I've tried to buy some recently, only to be told 'Sorry, we can't get the round ones anymore'. What will I do if they are no longer made? Adapt. But I don't really want to change them. I love the 2" size, and the color.
In the meantime, I'll keep ordering and purchasing what I can find! Maybe I will single handedly revitalize the mini round paper mache box industry.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

I Am 40!!

Ohhh, Birthdays! They're funny things. Much like New Years Eve they lose their lustre after a certain point and become a day that is weighted with expectation. A lot of pressure for one day. Eventually they come back aroung to being fun. It is your Birth day, after all. The day that you finally made your entrance upon the stage o' life, and that is worth celebrating!

Turning 10 was Huge. Really, double digits was just so cool.
Turning 16..not much of a big deal, really.
Turning 18, I bought a lotto ticket and my first pack of cigarettes...just because I could (slaps forehead..d'oh!)
Turning 21...*sigh* I honestly don't remember much except that I didn't get proofed.
Turning..26..I cried about being 'nearly 30' and that was 'nearly 40' which felt like the end of it all.
Turning 30...was Huge! I was so thrilled to turn the corner on my tumultuous 20's, and to do it feeling like I looked so much better than I thought I would at 30 (?) Seriously.
And my 30's have been amazing. I quit smoking. I learned how to choose myself, and how to state my needs. I spent a year on my own, and reveled in my independence. I helped start the Queen City Roller Girls, and was happy to move on as the league continued to grow. I fell in love with Nik, and we drove to Key West. We camped in North Carolina. We traveled to Ireland and Belgium, and the Netherlands together. We got engaged in Doolin, Ireland, got married in Nik's parents back yard, and traveled some more. I walked away from my job, became an artisan/crafter, and found reserves of creativity I didn't know I had in me. I found forgiveness and peace with my mom, and was honored to be with her when she died. I grew to feel so much love for my in-laws and found out I'm a sharp shooter with a cowboy pistol. I've camped and kayaked and hiked. I reunited with an old friend, only to let go of her again, and in the space left open I welcomed a friendship that I treasure. I found in me a deep longing for roots, and chickens, and a property to call home...
And so, so much more.
I am striding into my 40's, strong, healthy, happy, and optimistic. In these next 10 years I will continue to cultivate the amazing relationship which I'm so blessed to be in. To grow and adventure and struggle and soar with Nik. To make a home, and work side by side with her to grow food and flowers and raise happy chickens. I will nurture friendships that are, in turn, nurturing and full of love and support and laughter. I will spend so much time with Mammy and Pappy, and help them when they need it and to enjoy their company. I will travel to Europe again. I will keep creating, and keep learning. I will continue adapting to the twists in life's path and will do it with hope and love and wonder lighting the way.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

The start of something grief free..!

Her name was Naomi. And to her, the name conjured hot, silent breezes that would brush past your skin like silk. The aromas of cinnamon and cardamom and roasting things lingering over exotic crowds of beautiful dark skinned people dressed in emerald greens, sunset oranges, the blue of desert skies and cold rivers. Women with kohl rimmed eyes and black hair falling from under shining nets of delicate gold and discs of silver.
But Naomi was none of these things. She was plain. Taller than the other girls, and most of the boys. Solidly built, and when she was in motion, she tumbled full tilt through the world, rolling, running, leaping, all dust and limbs. Otherwise she could sit for hours, barely raising her eyes from her book. Her eyes were the color of wash water after a summer days play caked skin was rubbed pink by her distracted mother. Her hair was nearly always snarled, and an in between shade of blond and brown, which promised only to darken a shade or two as she aged.
Here is an image of Naomi, laying on her stomach beneath a trio of pines she considered her very own, with a book out flat before her. Pine needles and small twigs dug into her fleshy elbows, which she wouldn't notice until she headed home with the first flickering of the street lights. She is alternately reading and gazing off through the pine boughs, embellishing and reinventing to her liking. She first tasted figs this way, imagining the filling of a fig newton crossed with the green flavor of a crisp pear. She smelled the ocean, like the fish counter at the Piggly Wiggly and the salt water she was forced to gargle every winter when her throat got sore. She has spent the entire summer between the library and her pine tree fortress, discovering the world in books and in her mind. It was a rich place, lush and unknowable in its entirety. It was full of kindness and danger and beauty beyond her reckoning. It held dresses of satin, and pig roasts, and frost bite that could turn your toes black. It held mysteries and murders and cars with no tops that let your hair whip out like freedom as you drove along the oceans edge. It is the summer that Naomi fell in love with books, and she fell in love with her mind, and she couldn't wait for school to start again.
September rolled around with the frustration of clothes shopping and the thrill of supply shopping. She grudgingly said okay to a plaid jumper and a blue wool skirt. She pleaded with dewy eyes for the binder with the unicorn on it. Her heart nearly burst with joy as she sharpened all three of her brand new pencils and inhaled the raw, intoxicating aroma of their shavings. She counted the days. It took her longer and longer to fall asleep at night, until finally, finally the first day of school arrived.
6:42am. Naomi leapt from bed clear into the middle of her room, and was off like a shot. She sat on the toilet, tapping her toes on the cold linoleum, trying to relax her bladder enough to go. "Finally" she whispered. She washed her hands and face, braided her own crooked pigtails, and ran back to her room. Ack. The plaid jumper. New Monday underpants, red tights, the too white shirt with the peter pan coller, the dreaded jumper. Into the kitchen by 6:50 and her mother wasn't up yet, as the alarm had been set the night before for 7:00 on the dot. Naomi dragged a chair to the cupboard and was pulling out cereal when the light flicked on. Her mother stood at the kitchen door, sleepy and smiling at her. "Omi, for pete's sake girl, what have you done with your hair?" she asked. Naomi shrugged one shoulder, reaching up to feel the lumps and stray hairs, "Braided it" she said.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy! New! Year!

This year I will endeavor to write more often.
                                      to travel more.
                                      to see more of the people I love More often.
                                      to speak my heart and mind more bravely.
                                      to be more ambitious about finding homes for the things I make.
This year I feel more grateful than I ever have.
                        more in love.
                        more centered.
                        more joyful than I ever have.
                        more hope.
This year I will leap and shimmy and twirl my way into a brand new decade.
 I will honor my 30's and the lessons that they held.
I will throw my arms wide open to my 40's in the belief that I am vibrant, open, beautiful, learning, loving, and healthy...and that it will keep getting better.
In my 40's I will hold onto the hope of going to France, Prague, and Scotland.
                                                       of  finding, creating, and loving a Home,
                                                                                      and Land,
                                                                                      and Chickens.
                                                       of nurturing love, intimacy, and connection.
                                                       of my continuing creativity, and my evolving in creativity.
Woot! Woot! Let the wonders begin!!