December 14, 2016


I hate stuff.  I zealously prune bookshelves, clothes closets, kitchen cabinets, piles of fabric, the attic, the garage, and the parts of the basement that don't have fungus. Stuff actually affects me physically: accumulation constricts my throat and curls my shoulder bones into tight little balls. Naked space gives me oxygen and makes me more tolerant of my husband.
How could this be? Perhaps it is nature: my mother is a heavy pruner.  Undeterred by the fact that she has already given away most of her own things, she is now well into my father's side of the closet.  Perhaps the cause is nurture (using the term loosely): I often came home from school to furniture void of any of the objects I had seen on them that morning. The  large misshapen lump bulging beneath the neatly folded covers on my bed, however, was hard to miss.

And yet, on the other hand, I adore collections.
 Of just about anything.

My relationship to collections is also physical: I am yanked toward multiples as if in the grip of an Acme magnet from a Roadrunner cartoon.In the right hands,a collection is more than just a thing, pluralized...
In the right hands,a collection is an entirely new construct, just begging for exploration.  
The Bread and Puppet Theater Museum in Glover, Vermont overflows with 50 years of puppets from their uniquely radical political theater. In this world, "puppet" has nothing to do with Bert or Ernie:

 Other collections are less charged.
Collections seem to start small...multiples of two grow into four, four into 10, shoeboxes into glass cases...display cases into rooms of a house.
 Eventually, some collections take over entire buildings. That's when you get to call it a museum.
Museums like this one dot the backroads of America. We've seen them filled with the ordinary...
...and with the paranormal.
Hell, we've even stumbled onto museums that are collections of the buildings themselves.
My favorite collection is gently brewing in an enchanting little studio off a lovely lowland road in The Netherlands.
This is The Birdhut. It is home to a collection that maker/curator/appliance repair scheduler Saskia van Herwaarden calls "The Project." She chronicles its activity on her blog "Tales of the Birdhut." Here's the big picture...
...but you really need to look closer.. .
...and closer still.
Each inhabitant of The Birdhut has a name, a personality, and favorite sport.
They come together in community to share household chores...

And important events, like choir practice...
...and holiday meals.

Like us, they live their lives across a panorama of events. From praying for new baby born in New Mexico... honoring the arrival of cable TV!
Saskia shares their philosophical musings and breaks up their fights. She dresses them in Easter bonnets and gets them in the mood for Halloween.
I adore The Birdhut because it is a collection, yes. But especially because it is a three-dimensional collection brought to life by a fourth dimension: the place where Saskia's imagination meets real life. 
Like I said, my affinity for collections is physical. And this one, in an enchanting Dutch studio, brings me to my knees.

Go see it.

November 27, 2016

Being Hot Glue

About that "Be Peace" thing?

Its really hard to do. I would find it so much less stressful to "Be Sarcastic."  Or "Be Belligerent."  Or, in the best of all possible worlds, "Be Really Honest and Just Say the Thing That Is On Your Mind."

But that wouldn't fit on a button. So I continue to bumble my way through Being Peace and find that it is driving me back to two different activities. The first is meditation. That soothes me and also serves the world by having me otherwise engaged in activities that don't involve me speaking my mind.

The second, of course, is hot glueing. Yesterday, I plugged in the hot glue gun, entered a trance, and when I came out of it, found that I had created a whole new community.

They are currently living together atop my Cabinet of Wonder, which I wrote about here but have since curated and refined. 
Like me, they are getting ready for The Unknown. In a recent lecture, Tara Brach explained it best for me.  She notes that before the election, so many of us had a story about how the world--the United States--worked. "Now," she points out, "that Story is over. But we do not yet know how the New Story will unfold. We are in that uncomfortable space between stories." Paraphrasing, she points out  that the discomfort makes us want to act (because discomfort is so intolerable).  Instead, she suggests we simply pause and deepen our awareness. There will be a time when it is appropriate to act. 

Me? I suggest hot glue.

November 10, 2016

So A Rabbi, A Buddhist Priest, and an Episcopal Priest Walk into a Bar...

Actually, they walked into a tiny, one-room stone Episcopal church in our Delaware River community. And they sheparded this community..well, let me back up a bit.

Yesterday, I took to my bed. Australian red licorice for breakfast. Soft caramels for lunch. You get the picture.  And I was ruminating about whether to make a run for potato chips for dinner but the idea of getting dressed was more than I could handle.  And then I received an email from my beloved Rabbi Diana:

"We wake up this morning to the aftermath of an incredibly polarizing and difficult campaign season. What we see is a country divided. Half of voters are celebrating a surprising victory for their candidate. Half of voters are mourning a shocking loss for theirs. While there is optimism and joy in some quarters, in others there is real pain, despair, fear, and foreboding about what the outcome of this election means for the country we share.”

No matter who we voted for, we all know that we and our country are in dire need of healing. To begin that process, there will be a post-election Community Conversation at St. Phillips Church at 7:00 p.m. We will listen to each other and care for each other.

Tears flowed and even though I am the opposite of a "community type," I got dressed and quasifunctional. At the church, we heard teachings from three faiths.
Many folks stood up in a room full of strangers and shared feelings of being Other...or of demonizing Others.
Community supervisors and volunteers from many social action groups spoke about where to volunteer locally, because service connects us...
And is a start to healing division.
It doesn't change anything Out There. But it changed everything in me.

And I didn't stop for potato chips on my way home.

November 7, 2016

Announcing Dead Horse Bay Arts Company

I've carried on about Dead Horse Bay in this blog for years now. And now, we are actually doing something about it.
We just unveiled our new crafts venture moments ago as a healthy alternative to election coverage. I started to wax poetic about it here and realized that the words I was typing felt strangely familiar. Oh. I have already said exactly what I want to say over at our website (which took me an entire summer to create and made my vocabulary swell with strange acronyms like "HTML" and "SEO").

So take a peek here to learn more about who, what...and why. 

And please don't worry about buying anything. I just want to share. If you are the social media sort and want to share the link, we'd be much obliged.

October 29, 2016


Yesterday, I went hunting for dinner in my favorite venue.
I wait all year to find 'em.

Growing spuds is not like growing tomatoes or beans. You just never know what's going on under there. But this year, health and happiness prevails beneath the straw, because it is the third time in two weeks that I've pulled in a harvest like this.
And turned it into this..
Yesterday, I mashed 'em up skins on, added butter, chives, and yogurt and gave them to Himself so he could have all 730,000 calories of his annual caloric intake in one convenient meal.
That was fine with him.
But others just stared at their kibble in disbelief.

October 16, 2016

Back to Basics

All summer, I felt torn between coming here to write Big Thoughts about life vs staying outside and living it. As if there were nothing in the middle. Anyone who has spent more than 20 minutes with me knows that balance has never been my strong point. Now, however, it is becoming a medical necessity.

Because for first time in my 61 3/4 years, the insanity out there is actually worse than than the routine craziness in my mind. It has shaken my balance and I am in desperate need of a safe haven.

When I think of safe havens, I thought of my connection to all of you. Yet my lack of posts in the previous months and months shows me that writing Big Thoughts is obviously more than I can handle, at least until November 10th. And so, for the moment anyway, I'm just going to go back to basics: writing about the stuff I am making. And maybe we can pick up where I left you off?

I created this over a very snowy winter a few years ago.
The rule for this quilt was simple: only fabric already in my shelves, and even then, only my favorite ones.It holds the story cloths that really reflect my My Story:

It has bits and pieces from flea markets...
And from the pile of jeans that Himself has been stockpiling for future black market operations:
I basted the quilt top to some kantha cloth and began some handstitching here and there. But no clear direction emerged. I threw it on the bed for inspiration...
But nothing happened, so so I just rolled it up and stashed it away.

Meanwhile, over the past three years, I have also been handstitching the world's longest connection of blue and white squares, with no intention other than an idle fantasy about the Guinness Book of Records.
Several weeks ago, these two worlds collided. Probably moved by a search for a piece of myself to cling to, I put the quilt top back on the wall and the blue and white squares jumped on. That lead to these four borders:
I have been focusing all my stitching on them, embellishing them with other scraps that I have created for no apparent reason...just moving the needle through them in complete contentment.

And THEN, all the stars aligned. Specifically, the stars over at Spirit Cloth, where Jude has retooled her Sun, Stars, and Moon teachings. She periodically fills her shop with clusters of overdyed indigo stars and moons and lo and behold, I was actually able to score a few sets. Within 24 hours of landing here, these little beauties found their way into the border:

Sooner or later, it will be time to marry the borders to the quilt but right now, we're just enjoying our very fine romance.

Thanks for looking. I feel better already.