October 16, 2014

Back to the Birds

Oddly enough, while my soul was going through the spiritual laundromat, my hands have been busy with the simplest of stitches.

Or maybe it is not so odd.

I made this little window hanging to help remind a dear one of her intention, which is to be more like the sun in the lives of those around her.
 And of course I am still having a love affair with my birds, who now are six.
I took the time to learn how to do the fancy-shmancy embroidery stitches Sue Spargo recommends in the pattern. I am shocked, shocked I say, by how much I love doing all this intricate stuff since I tend to think of myself as the proverbial bull in the needlecraft shop.   But look how much personality they give to my flock:
Drizzle stitch make hair!
Pistil stitch makes a garden
Woven picot stitch makes beaks
Bullion knots make...well, whatever this is.
And just in case you're keeping track, I have 208 of the 276 octagons I need for the wedding one-block wonder completed. I am counting on winter camp for the rest. Ok, gotta go, off to the dentist to replace a cap that just can't handle the amount of Atomic Fireballs I eat.

Still Waters

My travels the past two months rolled right over the Jewish Days of Awe--those 10 days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur that asks us to look hard at our soul and make some adjustments for the year ahead. The nearest equivalent in the secular world is making New Year's resolutions. The difference to me is that in the Days of Awe, you first make a heart-breaking spiritual descent into yourself, from your fatty lumps of excess to your sharp razors of how you treat others...to your deepest crevices of, well, whatever they are for you.

The descent takes place over 10 days. On the last day, Yom Kippur, you remain there while fasting, standing shoulder to shoulder with your brothers and sisters in the congregation. And you gradually become empty, until the final long shofar (ram's horn) blast at sundown blows your bones apart and signals the end of Yom Kippur. At which point, your soul trickles back, and you return to the world renewed and with some intentions for the year ahead.

Because I am simple-minded, I settle on one intention for the year ahead and I usually receive direction by just staying open during these 10 days. This year, I got it on the first day, in a poem by May Sarton that our wonderful Rabbi Diana put before us. Here it is:

New Year Resolve
May Sarton

The time has come 
To stop allowing the clutter
To clutter my mind
Like dirty snow.
Shove it off and find
Clear time, clear water.
Time for a change.
Let silence in like a cat
Who has sat at my door
Neither wild nor strange
Hoping for food from my store
And shivering on the mat.
Let silence in.
She will rarely mew,
She will sleep on my bed
And all I have ever been
Either false or true
Will live again in my head.
For it is now or not
As old age silts the stream,
To shove away the clutter,
To untie every knot,
to take the time to dream,
To come back to still water.

There's so much there, but the words "still water" leapt off the page into the void at the front of my forehead. This year, I want to do the work necessary to be still water...not to make waves in the ponds of others and not to get ruffled when the wind blows through mine.

October 14, 2014

Look What I Made!

Last winter, I went to a local workshop on how to grow shitake mushrooms. (Here's my utterly gripping report, with pictures.)

I parked the incubating logs in the shade beneath the cedar that grows so close to the kitchen window that next year I will be able to store coffee mugs on it. I watered them a bit and then promptly forgot about them.  This weekend, when I was putting my garden and yard to bed for winter camp, I checked on them. One was upright but no closer to bearing mushrooms than I am.  The second one was lying on its side in the dirt, which is exactly what it is not supposed to do.  I yanked it up and holey moley, look what I found:
Its about the size of two open fists. And now its in the kitchen, where I am trying to decide whether to cook it or worship it.