Keeping Me Humble

A few weeks ago, when I was tucking Gabriel into bed, I noticed he had strung up some colorful bits of paper from the underside of the top bunk.

Me: This is nice. What did you make here?
Gabriel: It’s the planets!
Me (swelling ever-so-slightly with pride in my sharp-minded homeschooled boy)Oh, that’s neat! (I point to the one hanging by my nose) Which one is this?
Gabriel: That’s Hoth(brief pause while my mind realizes it’s in a completely different solar system and tries to reorient itself). And that one’s Naboo. And there’s Tatooine….

Moral: never assume your son is anything more than a Star Wars crazed seven-year-old. Even if he is homeschooled.


I like that my kids can take photos of each other that I could never get away with myself. For this reason, I’m always amused at what I find on my camera.


For example, when one sibling is feeling a little grumpy, it’s perfectly acceptable for an older sibling to grab the camera and start shooting.


But a Mama could never be so bold.


Don’t worry. He got over it. Whatever “it” was.

Back on the Weaving Wagon

After a long (very long) hiatus last year to accommodate pregnancy and all the things that went with it, I am back on the weaving wagon.


Here, photographic evidence of me working at the loom. Never mind that I’m pretty sure I had just returned all sweaty from an extensive walk around the neighborhood. I’m still glad that Ruby snapped the photo.


When I was in school I really hated the entire process of warping the loom and I always rushed through it. Picking it up again 20 years later, I find the whole process meditative and relaxing. I’m sure there’s some kind of life-lesson in there someplace, if I could just get a good night’s sleep and a few quiet minutes to think about it.

Weaving3 Weaving2


On Getting Over It (or Perhaps Not)

“But what if the great secret insider-trading truth is that you don’t ever get over the biggest losses in your life? Is that good news, bad news, or both?…The pain does grow less acute, but the insidious palace lie that we will get over crushing losses means that our emotional GPS can never find true north, as it is based on maps that no longer mention the most important places we have been to.”

Anne Lamott, Stitches

The Story of a Sweater

I cast-on during a weekend trip to a local hot springs with the Sweetie Pie. I sat in our cabin at the rough-hewn log dining table, watched the sheep in the pasture outside the window, and counted stitches. I sipped hot tea and the baby slept in his swing.

I knitted the entire body on our drive home, the tires spinning and the wiper blades icing over as we crossed the Continental Divide. I averted my eyes from the cars skidding wildly off the road, focused on the endless rows of stockinette and repeated to myself “Just keep knitting, just keep knitting….” The baby snuggled deep in his carseat under a mound of blankets, and obligingly slept away the storm.


At home, I stumbled over the sleeves, which required some focus and counting of stitches. Between the bustling household and the baby that needs so much cuddling and holding, I had to knit, and unknit, and knit again in short ten minute sessions.

I picked up season one of The Paradise from the library. The baby kicked his legs next to me on the couch as I breezed through the yoke of owls and we watched love and commerce in Dickensian England unfold on my laptop.


As I completed the short rows and ribbed collar, I held my breath. I prayed my yarn would multiply like loaves and fishes. And when I cast off there was only six inches of yarn to spare. I snipped it off and put it into the baby’s chubby fist. He looked at it quizzically, and then tried to shove it (along with his entire fist) into his mouth.

I put the baby down for a nap and spent a blissful hour sorting through Great-Aunt Virgie’s tin of vintage buttons. Fingering my way through the contents, I found the most. perfect. pair to make two little owl eyes. I sewed them on, stopping only twice to put the baby back to sleep.


And now, I watch the snow fall quietly out the window, show the baby his new sweater, lay it on top of him and try to picture him wearing it a year from now. He kicks his feet enthusiastically. My mother’s intuition tells me he approves of it. I fold it gently and tuck it away for next winter, when we’ll bring out the sweater and all the memories that have been knit into it.

** Pattern and yarn details are found on my Ravelry page, here

Gardening in Winter

A garden in winter has always occupied a soft spot in my heart. Probably because I feel like it is so often a reflection of my art. Such potential! Such stirrings beneath the surface! So much happening in secret places where no one can see.

Currently I sit with my artwork in a season of what can only be called winter rest. My writing, my photos, my weaving, my knitting, my stitching, my cooking….all of my offerings sit quietly biding their time until the next spring. It is difficult to string together the simplest sentence after months of interrupted sleep, let alone a weaving rich with allegorical meaning and significance, or a thoughtfully executed Paleo Thanksgiving dinner for my whole family to sit down to together (neither of which, by the way, has gotten much more than a tender glance from me this entire year).


Last week was unusually warm in our little nook of the Rocky Mountains. The kids were running around in short-sleeves with flip flops. They did not want chili for dinner. They went Christmas caroling without their coats. I had worked hard to get the Pumpkin down for a nap in his crib and debated what to do with my hour of two hands and my entire body to myself. I went to the garden.

I mowed the grass that had grown slowly long and matted by previous snow storms. The baby still slept. I swept the patio and drew out the dead leaves from the corners. I pulled the plants, long since bitten by the frost, out of the pots. He slept on.

I ventured down pea gravel paths farther from the house. I pulled the poppies that flopped dishearteningly over the borders. I swept off the Adirondack chairs and plumped up the cushions. I sculpted beds of seed heads into inviting displays of winter interest. And finally, I grabbed the broom and swept the dead leaves from the pea gravel. And still, the baby slept.

The Sweet Pea said, “This looks like something from Martha Stewart!” and the Peanut said, “We should have a garden party!”


I think about these things as I sit on newly-plumped cushions on a newly-swept patio waiting for the baby to wake up. Because it seems so ridiculous that anything in my yard could look like Martha Stewart, or that anyone should even consider a garden party in my garden–especially in December. I am a sour-faced grown-up, grown too practical with age. I am the elderly neighbor frowning and sighing as I rake up leaves that have fallen from the neighbor’s tree onto the wrong side of the property line. I have swept and sculpted and mowed and pulled, but to what end? Has it all been to simply tidy up and look presentable? Surely not.

Then the thought of the long winter of my art comes to mind, and I know what I’ve been doing. I’ve been nurturing, exploring, uncovering whatever it is that happens to gardens, to artwork, in winter. I know that a winter garden is not dead, but merely a garden at rest. I know there is still beauty, that it still speaks, and I know it is still worth caring for. But it took a couple of comments from my daughters to show me that it’s more than that. It’s also worth celebrating.

They found beauty and joy, celebration and delight where I found mediocrity. “It’ll do until something prettier comes along in the spring,” were my thoughts. But they saw the pages of Martha Stewart and parties. There’s something here that I need to learn. About joy, and happiness, and contentment with what is, rather than anticipating something “better” that’s coming.

The baby wakes up. My time for pondering in analytical awareness is over. I mentally dig a hole for these thoughts in my winter garden, cover them tenderly and leave them to their winter’s rest.

A Joke from the Peanut

The Peanut tries really hard to match her big brothers and sister tit for tat. Lately, she’s been struggling to keep up with the joke-telling. Here’s a recent example:

Peanut: What did the pig say to the laundry basket?
Sweetie Pie: Um….I have no idea. What?
Peanut: “You snore!” (pause for effect) Do you get it??

We didn’t, but we still thought it was funny.


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