Changing the basket

This gallery contains 7 photos.

Surely change is upon us.  Not since the sixties, has Uranus, Neptune and Pluto transited the Earth together.  We remember the revolutionary changes that took place then, well, some of us do.  Or if that explanation is too much of … Continue reading

Gallery | 1 Comment

FAREWELL 2012

IMG_3996I’m not sorry to see this year pass.  the last half of it has been a series of trials that have really rivaled my generally optimistic nature and sunny disposition.  I haven’t written a post since May.  Generally speaking, I have been off  line with the world.

Our hopeful brood of chicks was wiped out by November, dinner for the fox, weasel and whoever else got the news that chicken was on the menu.  I never thought I would miss the eggs so much, but I do.  I put the basket in a closet so I wouldn’t be reminded of what it used to hold.  The empty coop was a sign of more loss to come, a portend of a none to favorable change in the wind.  My small view, though the larger part of me knows that all wind changes are ultimately favorable if faith can hold us long enough to see what they are really meant to bring.  I am waiting, not so patiently.

In August my brother and I summoned up our collective courage and drove our mother to her new home.  I am inserting a story I wrote a month after we moved her.

                   CONTRASTS

How could I not put down some words about this past week, or month for that matter?  I’d like to just keep pedaling on through, but I think I must pay justice to big doings in my life.  Presently, on the down hill-side of such a noteworthy event I must acknowledge that there is no way to measure the value of spending time amongst beauty.  It is soul medicine at its highest potency.  A week on this gem of an island in the Gulf of St Lawrence, Prince Edward Island is such a place.  We pull our home, an 8 ft cabin tent, right up to a bluff overlooking the ocean.  For eight nights we are lulled to sleep by the sounds of sea, rocked gently by the hand of the wind.   The straight edge of blue horizon is our ever-present view, the evening stars and rising sun sealing one day and greeting the next.

Everything I need is within reach-the tissues, the water, the toothpaste, my book.  We have three plates, two cups, two bowls, a few pots and pans and cooking utensils.  We eat glorious meals, most brought from our home soil and some from the red earth and salt waters of the island.  Salads of hard-boiled eggs on radicchio, boiled new potatoes, sliced beets and fresh basil, mussels steamed in wine and freshly canned tomatoes, French bread grilled with butter and garlic for dipping. The table always set in front of the wide blue ocean and the red sand fringed with beach grass.  Our friend the crow comes and dines with us, perched on the spigot, drinking the dripping water.  The Ospreys glide overhead searching for fish.  A perfect world, made mostly so by being so simple.  I pay a lot of lip service to the virtues of simplicity, but I’m no longer convincing myself.  I can see by the stern look in its eyes.  I better get real, and quick. Did I miss T.V, the phone, the cyber world that steals hours from my day and money from my wallet?  Not one bit.  I had all the information I needed, a couple of good books, a cribbage board, maps of hikes and biking trails and a schedule of the local ceildhis, a ten-day immersion in simplicity.

 

I’m up early and on my bike, pedaling through woods that smell like spice and warm sugar from the apples that are ripening overhead.  There’s nothing that takes me back to the lanky nine year old in me like riding my bike.  The trail is flat and easy, meditative, allowing the vision of the past few weeks to rise up and play before my eyes.  I see Corey and I arriving at my mother’s home, the one she’s known and fought to stay, to take her to the next home in which she will likely spend her last days.  She thinks her house is being painted and she has to go to a hotel, but actually, it’s a nursing home and she will not sleep another night in the bed she has slept in since she was married.

 

She’s quiet and gentle as we help her put on her coat.  She kisses the aides goodbye.  They say cheerfully,” We’ll see ya tomorrow, Mama.  Be a good girl.”  I see the tears on their cheeks as they follow the script we have rehearsed.  They will miss her terribly.  They have been more like family to her these past seven years than Corey or I.  We each take her arm and walk her down the familiar path to our car.  She’s quiet as we drive the country roads through Fairfield to her new home, perhaps calmed by the sounds of her childrens voices circling around her.

Corey guns the accelerator as we pull into the driveway of this attractive brick building.  He doesn’t want her to see the sign that says Jewish Home for the Elderly.  Mom seems oblivious.  Maybe the notion that she’s going to a hotel holds some promise.  I am feeling a combination of my stomach knotting in an old familiar way and the heaviness of overwhelming sadness.  All the memories of first days of leaving flood my mind, the rear  lights of the departing school bus pulling away from my front door, the last hug in front of the camp cabin, the final wave as the car pulls away from the college dorm.  Each of those twists my heart so tightly that I have to shake myself to break the hold.  And what feels harder is walking my mother down the corridor to her new room, knowing there will be no returns for her. Harder still, knowing that she doesn’t know that.

I wrap my arms around my fragile mother, softer and gentler than I have ever known her, and kiss her warm face.  As the nurses distract her, my brother and I slip away.  We stop at the Chapel on the first floor.  Corey sits close to me, so close that our thighs are pressed against each other.  I wrap my arm around his shoulder.  We sit there, our mother’s children and say our private prayer.

 The bike bumps underneath my sore bottom, returning me to the present view of dunes, red sand and blue sea.  I nod to the power of time, how it shifts and changes the scenes of our lives, how in one short week, I made it over that hill, the one that seemed so steep and impossible.  Now I pedal easily, grateful for the smooth trail beneath my wheels, happy to be enjoying the glide for a while.

 

I really had hoped for a longer glide.  It seemed no sooner had we returned from that glorious camping trip that life as I had known it changed.  Though I know I denied it, my mother’s move to the nursing home lived inside me, not yet digested.  And then there was another project in the making,  that we would sell the farm and welcome in a fresh change of lifestyle, that had me totally unprepared for the disruption and disorientation that would descend upon me as I faced such a decision.

Within a month’s time, we took on the project of cleaning out.  Black contractor bags marched like an army of ants out our door and to the landfill, Goodwill, and maybe to some of you.  Ready for presentation, we called a realtor and asked her to view the farm and do a market analysis so we’d know what we could consider spending on the new house in which we hoped to spend easier days and bring us closer to cultural activities.

That was the day the glide officially ended and I found myself hurtling headlong into the abyss…without my helmet!  Sounds dramatic,  it was for me.  From that day forward, life was no longer the same.  The fancy cover that was my life and that I had come to believe was real,  insuring my comfort and success in all things was just a cover, no realer than my imagination, an allusion, and suddenly it was whisked away with a flourish.  “Ha ha”, I heard the magician say,” I fooled you, didn’t I?” Yes, you surely did.  Even with all my years and accumulated wisdom,  I was feeling like I was standing there with my drawers down.

On December 8th, 2012 what would have been Mom and Dad’s 67th anniversary, once again, Corey and I and our families go to my mother’s former home to empty out its contents.  The new owners will be moving in by the end of the month.  It’s hard to say which day was harder, taking mom to the home or dispersing her things amongst us and the liquidator.  Touching the intimate objects of another’s life in this way is to feel a kind of energy that seems to catch us off guard, one we’re not used to experiencing in the day-to-day exchanges we have with our loved ones. Like finding her tissues in the pockets of her pants, or her few pennies and odd pieces of mail, some of them old cards from her grandchildren tucked inside her purses, brought me too close to her life and the state of her mind over these past years.  The box of handmade birthday, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day cards that Corey and I made, the annual hand written anniversary poems my mom wrote to my dad every year, and his funny love notes to her buried in her lingerie drawer were a picture of who we once were, long ago,  when innocence and obedience had us tightly drawn into the circle we called family.  That was less than a month ago, and the images and thought are still so fresh in my mind.  I think I am writing this more to myself than to you, as a way to pay respects to the life that was drawn for me by two parents whose greatest gift was to teach us love, above all else, love.  Not that the love was perfect love by any means, but it was the road they traveled, that they struggled to stay on. And not that we didn’t at one time or another get caught under its wheels and suffer the pain.  The message was constant, always the same,  love one another.

I’m sending out this old year, this hard old year with the acknowledgement that hard times make way for good times,  that pain and sadness soften the tough leather of our souls and make them more pliable.  These last few months are teaching me that.

Mom

I dedicate this post to my mother, Louise, whose hard lessons have made me both soft and strong.

Please may this New Year bring hope and light, renewed delight in the wonders of life, destinations as yet unexplored, the love of friends and family, and love, always love!

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

THIRSTY BOOTS

It’s been fifteen years since Bob, Sara and I took off in our pop-up camper and drove cross-country.  Somehow this year has brought back those memories more poignantly than ever. Over the years I will  usually remark that on this day we were camping here, or hiking there.  I have preserved the itinerary of those nine weeks forever in my brain.  But this year it has been different.  I feel mournful.  The reality of ever doing something like that again seemed off the agenda. I’d feel my eyes well up when I thought that.

Here we are, ready to head off, May 30th, 1997!

A day in the life…Rocky Mountain National Park, July 22nd, the last stop before heading for home.

We have been without a camper now for seven or eight years since it was stolen out of our yard.  We resorted to hauling out the old tent for a short camping trip but really, the damp, the deflating air mattress and our creaky joints made the adventure more like an endurance test.  We decided to upgrade our vacation  plans and stayed at inns or B and B’s.  No complaints, but as I get older and more able to discern what really moves me, I find the closer I can get to Nature, the most at home I feel.  Perhaps the recycling of that thought  brought me back to that time I love to remember, and with it a sense it could never happen again. Did I have enough fearlessness, or were the “what if’s” going to overtake the quest for future journeys?

Here’s the weirdest turning point in the story, and yes this will take some reading.  The “I shoulda had a V8” moment came when I bought a smart phone.  Our cell phone plan was up for renewal, and that meant the option to get a new phone.  Truthfully, I think swiping is really cool.  I’ve envied my little grand-daughter Hazel mimic the move on her bristle block!  Flip phone, so old!  Yes, I will shamelessly say I got caught in the grip of the cultural movement that has heads bowed down at a 45 degree angle paying homage to that unit that fits so perfectly in the palm of the hand.  Now, no defensiveness, please.  Mostly all of the people I love most in world, have smart phones.  But me, I want less of the world.  What was I thinking???? Or better yet, what was I forgetting?  Twenty four hours later, I handed the phone back to the sales lady and felt a huge surge of relief.  I headed on my way to remembering something more important.

Anything is possible.  Will we ever traverse the country again?  I don’t know.  What’s important is that the possibility exists.  And that’s what life is all about, possibility.  When we get tight and cramped, the fear mongers get us and eat us for lunch!  They throw the “what if’s” at us and scare us half to death .  Would I be unfairly pulling the age card, to say that it gets harder as we get older?  For me, it does.  But I’m resolved to sticking my tongue out at them and saying ” You can’t get me!!!! na na na nana”

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Visitations

The quiet indoor days of winter are slowly packing up their wares and making room for spring and the joys and jobs that open ground and warmer temperatures invite.  This month has also brought unseen visitors that have touched my heart and make me aware again and again of the love and protection we have on this journey.  The Divine comes to us in small and seemingly insignificant ways, and that has been true for me most recently.

For now, let’s start with some visitors we have had down on the farm.

 

Early morning wild turkeys flock in the orchard.  Flamboyant Tom is fanning his feathers hoping he’ll get lucky.  He’s quite a stud and the “gobble gobble” he emits is totally under rated.  What a racket he makes!

My photos don’t do his mating dance or his love songs justice.  Trust me, the whole mating ritual was pretty amazing to see from our front door.

A sunny Sunday morning had us grab our beach chairs and head down to the light house at Port Clyde.  We picked up the Sunday Times, a cup of coffee and a poppy-seed muffin and perched on the rocks for a few glorious hours looking out to sea.  This ritual is how we open the season.  What better way to welcome in the warming sun.

 

Two more visitors, one invited…….and one not so much, but Buddha cat teaches us that we have to take care of all.

The warm spell we had brought this little wonder up for a visit.  We took our very first canoe ride of the season and it was only March 24th.  The ice on the lake had melted a full month earlier than usual.

It was an invigorating ride.  As the day warmed up into the 70’s, we decided to take Sara to la Verna Preserve for a picnic on the rocks.

 

On the way home, we stopped in Damariscotta and paid a visit to Aboca beads.  We had plans on Sunday for a crafternoon, and this is what we came up with.

Chan Luu, we’re on to you!

Getting prepped for the upcoming Passover Seder, I found a great recipe for macaroons on the food 52 blog.  It was hard to keep them away from sticky fingers Rob-o, until the Seder night.

 

. 

The youngest reads the Four questions.          Here are the first unseen  guests.  My grandma Hilda embroidered the covering for the Matzo, and the glass of wine for Elijah is from my grandma Rae.  I felt as if they were both there with us, sitting  side by side.

Our hand knitted passover vests!  Thank you Noro yarn.

This little tableau is of great significance to me, though it could be seen as quite the opposite.  Central is the coveted matzo ball recipe written in my dad’s hand.  It takes its place right there on the window sill and remains until the week of Passover is completed. Next to it is a little silver charm, a cowboy hat that belonged to my grandma Rae, his mother.  And below is a little casting of the three monkeys, ‘Speak no Evil, See no Evil, and Hear no Evil” that my brother bought for me.  Three very special guests.

The week before, Adam called at 7:14 to wish me a happy birthday, a sure sign that my dad hitched a ride with him to send me his wishes too.  I am sure that anyone reading this knows the significance of 7:14 as symbolic of my dad.

I have felt the loving presence of so many loved ones who have passed and yet remain in conversation with me.  I am always strengthened by the reminder that we are not here alone, that we have the love and support of those who have come this way before us and those who have chosen to guide and guard our lives on earth.  Take heart in all the love that surrounds you, from those whose touch you can feel, and from the  unseen embrace that is eternal.

Posted in Uncategorized | 12 Comments

Odds and Ends

With February out the door and March peeking her head in, it’s time to tie up the loose ends of what I’ve come to treasure as my winter hibernation time.  If this sounds like last year’s post, that’s probably because it is.  There is something in that which brings me comfort.  The cycles and ritual carved into our being help us to make order and meaning of our lives.  And then there’s the start of a new cycle, with its attendant adjustments and alignments.  In my case, the first  of March heralded in my membership in Part A and B of Medicare.   The part that makes this a force to reckon with, this turning 65 in a few weeks, is that I also gain membership in the next age category…old age.  Really, you gotta be kidding ?  Are you sure I applied?  Kidding aside, there is nothing more to say.  Time passes, life changes, and by all accounts I am one lucky ‘old’ person.  [I am practicing to see if I can get used to that word without wincing.]

What I don’t take for granted is the time and space this part of my life has afforded me.  I love being able to knit, read, write my stories, and COOK!  I have really fallen into the world of food blogs and podcasts.  Coming from a childhood, that save my dearest Grandma Hilda, whose preparation of food was like a prayer to God, we grew up believing that cooking was a chore, and one to be discharged as hastily as possible.  Fortunately, I have reclaimed the art and like my grandma,  I bring the same reverence to it. God is Love and so is Food.  So here are a few photos of the food we serve around here.

 

pizza with prosciutto and yellow pepper       Cognac soaked fig&nut loaf and a crusty boules

My dearest friend Suellen has taught me so much about food and has been so encouraging to me.  I think of her as my food mentor.  Here are the biscotti I made from her recipe.  They are the BEST I have tasted, as proven by my having baked them three times in the past month!  For a real treat, check out her blog   artistoftheeveryday.wordpress.com.  You will find her recipe on her Feb 8th blog titled “Baking Therapy”.

For Valentine’s day I got this subscription to a great little cookbook, published three times a year called Canal House.  Some of the recipes seem over my head, but I tied into this one, homemade ricotta cheese.  That night for dinner, I cooked fresh pasta with a tomato sauce from our own canned beauties and topped it with a hefty dollop of the fresh ricotta, shredded basil and a drizzle of olive oil…Viva Italia!

 

It’s simple process requiring patience, not my long suit, but the results were worth waiting for.  It’s a simple mixture of plain yogurt, lemon juice and salt added to a gallon of whole milk and it’s all in the timing and temperature.  The curds form and are lifted out, left to drain in a fine mesh sieve, while the whey is great for baking, pancakes and for the chickens!

And Rob-o, not to be out done, took to tweaking his famous granola recipe, which originally was handed down by dearest Wendi.  This recipe I found on the Food52 blog and when I saw it in a gourmet shop in Portland I had to buy it and check out the taste that had so many raving.  Yes, I even spent $10 for it!  The difference seemed mostly in the addition of salt, olive oil instead of canola and shredded cocoanut.  Take a look.  You can find the recipe for this on Suellen’s blog, too.  Check out her Feb. 13th Delicious Crunch, or read about its creator on the Food52 blog.

One bowl is the “special” recipe, the other the “tweaked”version.

And to round out the cooking adventures, here are a few items I baked to send to the Klein/Qua family.  It’s a care package for Jay and Beck and the kids, hoping to ease the stress from Jay’s   unexpected knee surgery/injury and to just send a little of ourselves to them in one form or another.  It comes to them with love from two generations of cooks, Great Grandma Hilda, and  me.

 

First, here are the fixings for yummy oatmeal raisin cookies, which I “malkied’ by adding cranberries and chopped apricots along with the raisins.  And next comes my grandma’s date nut bread fixings.  She called it the ‘bomb” because she baked it in a tin can [mine is waiting in honor of her] and never failed to send us home with one.  You should have them by now, Beck!

  

Our valentine card production line       and     our    Valentine tableau

We’ve got to work off all this food!!!  So a little walk on  the finally frozen lake and a few photos below of how the world looked up here in Maine for most of this winter.

These are the blueberry barrens at the bottom of our road as they looked in early February.  Look familiar, Lynnie?

These knitting projects are the last thread of February to tie up.

I guess that pretty much sums up February.  A month of creative exploration, of warm times by the wood stove, and hours of listening to the inspirational words and poems of David Whyte.  So I leave you with a few of my favorite past-times:

Check out the Canal House website, food52 blog and The Splendid Table podcast for cooking inspiration.  Try sounds true website for inspiring podcast interviews with Tami Simon, especially the one she did with David Whyte.  You won’t be sorry, and you can sign up for free membership and receive weekly podcast offerings from them. These are my companions, providing good food for the whole body and a lovely way to pass the quiet days of February.  You may come to look forward to them as I do.   And am I ever ready for March, for seeds and sunshine….Medicare, go blow!

Food52

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 10 Comments

The Return of Persephone

Last week I flipped up the calendar page to reveal the new month of February.  I have a special fondness for this month, for its open space and empty to-do list.  It’s the deep breath before seed starting and spring chores.  I look forward to organizing my knitting supplies, culling the old seed packets from my stock, and happily entering into the cycle of feeding my houseplants.  In homage to the myth of Demeter and Persephone, I withhold feeding them any thing but water during the months of November through February.  It’s not a bad idea to give all growing things a rest.  In short form, Demeter, the goddess of earth and grain is separated from her lovely daughter Persephone who roams the underworld for two-thirds of the year.  Demeter, pining for her daughter, refuses to feed the earth by growing grain.  When it is time for Persephone to return home to her mother, Demeter is once again joyful and the fertility of the earth is restored.

The arrival of February heralds lengthening days and the promise that spring is not far behind.

 

The loyal geraniums ask so little.  They bring a welcome splash of color indoors while the world outside is still barren and bleak.  We usually visit Longfellow’s Greenhouse as a pick me up and a chance to add a little greenery to our collection.  On this day, they were about to have a class on Building you own Terrariums.  We took that idea and ran with it.  A quick stop to Michael’s for the glass bowl, and the two little plants we chose from the greenhouse added to cuttings and pieces from our own plants and “Voila!”  It just feels so good to play with growing things!

 

The Amaryllis plant that I bought three and half years ago is chugging along.  Not the show stopper she was back then, but age will do that to you.  Her offer of a couple of tender white blossoms are greatly appreciated.

Finally, what I associate with February are the Star Gazer Lilies that seem to show up in the market during this month.  I get high on the aroma.  It so puts my world right!  So here’s a shout out to her…

 

The slow quiet days of this month invite my cooking muse to whisper menu ideas in my ear non stop.  Before I close my eyes at night, I am dreaming of what I will make the next day.  I have happened upon a couple of food blogs, another gift of February, the time to actually sit and read them and  I will post their links below.

http://food52.com/blog

http://lunch.thecanalhouse.com

Haven’t figured out the linkage yet, but poke around these sites if you have the time and inclination.  They are inspiring.

Here is some of what we have been cooking/eating at home.

When eggs are just a short walk to the chicken coop, Quiche is on the menu.  This one includes leeks, spinach, Gruyère, Mozzarella and Parmesan cheese…who’s counting calories???

+6 

Two sourdough foccacias topped with pizza fixings, spinach, garlic, tomato sauce and cheese accompanied by a colorful green salad fit perfectly on the coffee table in front of the wood stove.   Watching Adam whip up his sourdough rolls and breads got me back into sourdough production.  Glad I did!  Thanks Ad!

This meal deserved a place in the dining room, the full treatment, candles and all.  I bought two lamb ribs from a farmer friend, roasted cauliflower, and made a blood orange, fennel and beet salad.  I don’t know what took me so long to discover the ease and deliciousness of roasting cauliflower.  Cut into 1 inch florets, toss in olive oil l, sprinkle salt and pepper and roast for 25 minutes in a 400 degree oven.  Beck, here’s a no fail veggie for Jay and the kids!

 

Who can resist blood oranges?  I went out and bought more, resolved to make blood orange marmalade.

All that work and just TWO jars of the ruby-red marmalade.

Well, after proof reading this blog, it seems that more than our houseplants are getting fed!  So I think I will celebrate February as the FOOD month.

Welcome home Persephone!

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 8 Comments

The Clearing

The inspiration for this post came from a visit to La Verna Preserve, on the Pemiquid peninsula.  It was an unseasonably warm Saturday in January that was just begging for a hike.  I was surprised to find so much more than a good airing and stretch of my legs.

After about twenty minutes of walking, the landscape took hold of my attention, tugged at  my sleeve and  spoke to me.  There was a story in these woods that was being written in my head. A thought would appear and then  a particular scene would become more vivid. I would take a picture to capture it and follow the trail as the story unwound in my mind.

An old stone wall, carpeted in moss, solid and fixed in place seemed like a good metaphor for the mind.  How entrenched and rigid it can be in its beliefs, seemingly immovable and unalterable.  This life asks much of us and stone wall minds create much suffering.

The forest floor was just cluttered with blow down. It naturally occurs in the woods when humans don’t come in and clear it out.  I was taken aback at how much “stuff” there was that  laid helter skelter all around me.  This clutter seemed very much akin to the mind debris with which I am so familiar.

The tumor like burls erupted on trees and others toppled over carrying in their roots  debris and rocks from the soil’s surface.

How our minds struggle to stay upright and functioning, so that we can live our lives in upstanding and standing up ways.

  

A little further along, I saw this stand of trees that were filled with’ witches broom’.  It’s a formation of twig bundles on the end of branches which in some cases is due to environmental  stresses and can eventually weaken the tree.  I listened to the voice telling  me to recognize  these brooms and to know the way they weaken me.  I know when and why they come.  I could prune them, tie them into bundles and use them to begin the clearing out of my own dead wood.

An open wood lay before me, as if the trees could finally fill their lungs and take a deep breath.  I joined them.

A clear brook carved its way through the forest discovering its course as it tumbled over rocks and branches.  I felt hopeful and encouraged.  What often seems so impenetrable, can be set free to find its own way.

The fragile shale, splintering and splitting through the action of frost and thaw gave further evidence of change.  What a delight to come upon the view that was beginning to appear.  It spoke of possibility in all its forms.  It held out a hand that required a leap of faith.

Can we trust that we are strong enough to take that leap? Often the blockages to the clear open mind seem so large, solid. Graciously, enough space was left to see what  might be had with just a bit more effort; a prod to keep on opening our minds, moving out the boulders.

 

…for even just a brief glimpse of heaven makes it all worthwhile!

 

Thank you La Verna for the story you told me.

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments