About Kathy

creative intuitive architect artist mother healer

i am apple pie

Each day now brings more color. It is color that eventually finds its way to the ground. Like the gorgeous apples that I have been collecting for the past few weeks from the five beauties in my home’s meadow, globes of bright red dotting the trees and finding their way to the ground for any hungry creature to find. There are surprisingly many firm intact specimens to choose from, otherwise untouched by insect boring or animal tasting. 

The first apple pie I made was within hours of collecting, the energy of fresh imbuing it with a lip-smacking delectable akin to sacred. Even the remnant of the pie that was frozen and re-warmed was perfect. The second pie made two days ago also fell into this category, though everything about its making was distinctly different from the first. The apples had already been sitting in my collection basket for many days, and though still firm, I could feel a distinct difference in the yield of the flesh as I trimmed skin and cut each beautiful fruit into slices, not as crisp. The dough, made exactly as I always have but this time with a different kind of butter, was overly soft. I forgot to add flour to the apples, sugar, and spices and had to improvise incorporating it into the filling after it had been loaded into the bottom crust in the pie plate. The mound of apples wasn’t as high as before and I realized I used a tablespoon of butter more than usual to the filling before adding the top crust. All small deviations to a way that I hoped would yield yet another memorable pie.

It’s been awhile since I have had a phrase pass through my mind so insistently. It started yesterday, walking in the cool morning at sunrise. I am apple pie.

‘I am’ places ‘me’ in the center of this thought. And yet, walking in the morning beauty, in the quiet spectacular that surrounds me, ‘I am’ is simply just a channel for beauty, the center of any moment, to flow through. 

“Apple” carries meaning as old as time. Fruit of the tree that changed forever the relationship between man and woman. The promise of nourishment comes freely and unconditionally every single season. The variety of shape and flavor and texture and size is vast, each type representative of a place it chooses to thrive in. The season of apple brings crisp and colorful energy to a day, and the anticipation of something leaving to make room for something new.

“Pie” is an assemblage. Its form is one of containment and concentration, bringing a diversity of ingredients together to be transformed. The approach to making pie can be scientific, precise ingredients put together in a precise way to make something that can be identified as pie. Or, making pie can be considered a way. It can follow a process, and, the very nature of the moments that yield each ingredient, the way it is prepared and baked, the very air that it lives in, will produce something unique, never to be replicated exactly the same way again. Pie is art. Pie is delicious. Pie is comfort. Pie can be warm or cold, soft or firm, sweet or savory. The outside of a pie is merely the skin holding an inside work of art that wants to be revealed, tasted, and honored.

I am apple pie. The energy of this moment contains a vastness just waiting to be tasted.  


Sometimes inspiration for the beginning of something new comes so unexpectedly that I can hardly work fast enough to give it form. And then once established, a big pause typically follows. I will literally spend weeks gazing at what is there, wondering, ‘where did this come from and where is it going?’ I didn’t plan it after all. Even after all these years of making art by entering spaces of not knowing and letting my eye and my spirit guide the moment, I still manage to doubt the legitimacy of this process.

It happened about a week ago. I had just finished a two day open studio tour and every surface was free of the usual piles of colorful scraps and random fabric cuts. The space was clean and inviting and now waiting for something. The image of the piece of velvety red hand-dyed cotton sateen that I had recently found in my stash came to mind. In cleaning up, I had put it in a very specific place with an old piece of hand-dyed blue rayon, a new piece of tie-dyed art cloth purchased at a quilt show, a piece of bold print from Mood fabrics in NYC, and some scraps I guess I thought were part of this assemblage too. I pulled them out of hiding, let them wallow in the graciousness of so much open space. I finally shook out the yard piece of gorgeous red, and was surprised to discover that each edge was a swath of deep summer green. What happened next is a blur. I don’t remember cutting the yard of fabric in two pieces, or piecing the lengths of scraps just so. I don’t remember pinning it all up on the board or thinking about placement in any specific way. When I finally stepped back and felt the impact of ‘okay, this is it’, the word that came to me was ‘prompt’.

This feels like a visual version of a writing prompt. The story that will emerge from the pairing of this red and blue anchored in green is in there somewhere and I will just have to wait for it.

After two months, the last of the packing boxes from Mom’s move are in the recycle pile outside, floor surfaces are clear, and we’ve finally begun hanging art on the walls. There is a lot of art. Paintings and framed prints, photographs and drawings and even a quilt. The process of settling won’t be complete until the empty surfaces claim Mom’s amazing collection. The new white walls, the existing blue trim, and floors dressed with red oriental carpets have created a familiar context that will of course change with each item placed. Each room is a prompt waiting for the first move. One of the first paintings up is one I made in college, the view out my dorm room window through trees to a home beyond, reminding me that no matter how much time I have spent inside these past months, the perception of what is just outside will always been a reliable source for expressing the landscape of what is inside. Even if I don’t know what it is at the time.

I spot a framed print that Mom has set aside. A blue heron emerging out of red water in front of green ground and blue sky. It is such a simple image. It doesn’t feel like a coincidence that the same range of intense colors exist here as they do in the ‘prompt’ on my design wall. I think this heron has a story to tell. I am going to find out what it is.…

so, who are your people?

I’m home. Back in my studio staring at a new quilt on the design wall that has been forming there for the past two months. Back in this beloved place after the heady and heartfelt weekend just spent in Athens Ohio attending the opening of Quilt National ’19, I feel different. Even though the same nagging questions and doubts are there, the same impulse to make that one piece of fabric a little more yellow, and the same resolve to sew the bottom left corner together completely before doing any more changes or additions, I feel newfound confidence to keep doing what I uniquely do. I trust my knowing that where I am with this piece is exactly where I am supposed to be. I feel called to dive in and yet calm enough to just sit and stare. I’m home.

There is no question that something transformative happens when immersed in a group of individuals who share your passion and have produced exquisite work. Work that is unquestionably and undeniably ART.

Keeping my feet on the ground when first entering the gallery at The Dairy Barn Arts Center was not easy. The space is lofty, bright and vast. We, the participating artists, had been invited to be the the very first to see the show. We had been instructed to go find our piece, to make sure all was as it should be. I circled the gallery slowly, not really seeing, but rather feeling the impact of a group of quilts expertly and beautifully displayed in a way that let me know I someplace special. And then I saw the quilt that I call ‘Celestial Twins’. It simply glowed. I stood transfixed in the love I had poured into its making. Felt the thrill of accomplishment and the joy of being so included. Soon enough I would be able to re-focus and begin the first of many many rounds of circling slowly to take in the sheer magnitude of beauty surrounding me. But for that moment, I let myself truly celebrate me.

There were all the other wonderful pieces to experience, yes, but what made this weekend so rich for me was meeting and connecting with so many of the artists. From the moment I walked through the front door, I began to have animated conversations. Margarita was the first, standing just inside the door with a brilliant smile and introduction. I then introduced myself to Erika and Isabelle, both from Germany, and discovered that Erika is also an architect! I then met Carson, who lives in a neighboring town here in Massachusetts. I would continue to connect with each of them throughout the weekend. This was all in the fifteen minutes before the doors actually opened.

The first hour in the gallery was characterized by one encounter after another of mutual smiles, looking at each other’s name tag, introductions, and then like giddy kids, saying to each other, “show me your quilt”! In this space I met Irene, Jean, Tim and Pat. Introduced myself to Yael and Judy whose quilts I greatly admired. Found Margarita and began a second round with her. And so on.

Later, I sat down in an empty chair next to Martha at the artist’s banquet. We shared our excitement at being part of Quilt National for the first time. Without preamble she asked, “So, who are your people?” I knew what she meant…who are the people I share my quilt life with? Who are the people who get why I do this? I rambled on about my years attending Quilting by the Lake and some dear friends I have made there. I shared about the arts community that I have become part of in my town, as one of two fabric artists amongst dozens of painters, sculptors, and artisans. In the midst of such camaraderie there at the opening night, I felt the ping of knowing that in this moment, here in Athens Ohio, I was with my people. And like the others who have continued to be part of my life from afar, I would leave here with new friends and connections that I could also enjoy from afar. I had the stark and clear realization that for me to be with my people, I would have to keep doing this work, with the same dedication and commitment that brought me here.

The weekend quickly took on the quality of a series of circles intersecting over and over again. At the beginning and end of each day, I would get to download with my long time friend Pat who I was sharing a room with. By Sunday morning I had made many new friends, now including Julia, Jill, and Diane. Email, Facebook and Instagram accounts were exchanged along with promises of staying in touch.

I now sit in my studio staring at the beginning of something new, aware that making ART and experiencing ART is always in relationship, patiently waiting for the infusion of so much presence.


Waking up to begin the first day of my sixty-second year in this life was no different than the day before. Except I feel different. There is something about knowing that this was the day my mother gave birth to me. Even if another day of spending morning time with the dogs before sequestering them to our little office for most of the day, before the contractors arrive and continue working on the addition to my house that will make room for my mother who is scheduled to move here in a month. Another day of anticipating progress, challenge, and the angst of it still not being done. The voice of the architect in my head knows all to well where there can be mistakes and delays and that the stress of not knowing or being able to control will not go away. Another day just like the past hundred and twenty days we’ve been at this. Meanwhile, the voice of my mother has me obsessing about the exterior paint colors. The voice of the dog lover continues to struggle with keeping Yogi and Nora so contained for so much of the day in the wake of a broken invisible fence and a winter of too many ugly days. The voice of the artist is struggling to express just what is there instead of thinking too far ahead. And the voice of the little girl wanting to be fussed over for her big day doesn’t want to yield to the mature voice of the grown woman who has chosen daily solitude and beauty.

After too many days following a schedule of work inside, I finally got back into the woods yesterday. Just a simple meander through the mostly clear of snow ground that is primed for warmth and new growth. The brook is running fast and furious and the smell of spring is finally in the air.

I took Yogi with me. On leash of course, because once he began to take off and follow his nose last year, I had to stop letting him off leash. Because he, unlike Nora, is a dream on leash. He walks calmly beside me, without a hint of a pull with his strong ninety pound plus body. We become one in the woods in a way that feels safe and easy.

I think back to the days when I would walk the woods with both dogs romping off leash around me. When the wild woman voice in my head said this was what they needed. And yet how tense I was, so worried that they wouldn’t come back. Worry that finally bred the result of what I feared most. That Nora would make trouble in a neighbor’s yard, and that Yogi would disappear, only to be found on the main road amidst speeding cars. So, this period of construction, with all the change it has brought and will continue to bring, has given me the space to do things differently with my beloved canine companions. We are finding a new way together that includes giving Nora the safety and love that a good house dog needs and letting go of the belief that she can only be happy if she is running free and wild in the woods.

It is my son Ben who is making the fuss about my birthday this year, determined to take me out to dinner at a new restaurant he has been wanting to go to. ‘I will pay,’ he tells me. But making a real plan has involved collaboration with his resident advisor, who helps Ben take charge of the plans he is so intent on making and executing. My need to control voice wants to make it easy for him, wants to just make the plans for him. But the tough love Mom voice insists he call me and tell me where we are going and what time I should meet him. He resists. He offers his characteristic, ‘I don’t know’ response. But I don’t budge. I even laugh when he says his advisor will tell me. I don’t spare his feelings or let him off the hook. A voice of doubt and guilt becomes loud for a moment, telling me he is intellectually disabled for God’s sake, give him a break. And then like the tide shifting and moving in the other direction back out to sea, Ben speaks up in an empowered voice of his own and clearly tells me the plans.

I was telling my Mom this story this morning, sharing the relief of knowing that he CAN, and that he DOES know. Mom simply said, “He thinks with his heart, not his head.” And wouldn’t it be grand if we could all do that. It’s not easy. The voice of the student in my head is humbled. The voice in my heart hopes to keeps learning from the wisdom of Ben.

a day in the life after a year: making squash soup

This particular Friday morning I did not stop moving. It was still dark outside. Washing the dishes in the sink led to pulling everything away from the back of the counter to wipe away the last traces of cocoa powder that had exploded out of the box as I shook it the day before. which then  led to cleaning the stove top of a weeks worth of cooking debris and grease splatter. I spied the butternut squash that had been living at the edge of the counter behind the stove. Remembered the half of another in the fridge waiting to be used up. I turned the oven on to 350 as I held onto the image of squash cut in half, faces rubbed with olive oil, and slowly roasted. I filled a baking pan just so, and popped it in the oven. Light was just starting to line the edges of the windows. I finally sat down with my first cup of steaming black coffee. Maybe I would make soup.

The rhythm of these days is kept in the cycle of short daytime light and long nighttime dark. Of the warmth of Yogi stretched out alongside me on top of the covers and Nora curled in a ball in her bed on the fur rug next to me. Of waking in the middle of the night to come down and feed the wood stove, of a few hours of meditative moving to my own beat after the dogs have been fed and played with, and before the crew arrives to begin construction for the day. Mom is coming to live with me. We are both getting excited now with the reality of the addition to my house taking form. That the framing is almost complete and the snow has held off this long, feels like a blessing. Beautiful color filled days belie the fact that we are already in the middle of January.

But it has been cold. Making a pot of hot sweet chai tea each day for the crew doesn’t seem like enough. I want to start making pots of soup for them too. I have soup on the brain.

I cut a large cauliflower in half and break into small florets to add to my four quart pot. Add chopped onion. Sprinkle dried ginger and crumbled summer savory. Just cover with water and cook with lid on until soft. There is chicken broth in the fridge. And half & half. That’s going to be the soup. I move through a moment of judging myself for not efficiently adding the squash to the pot to cook with the other vegetables. But this is a process. Besides, the house is now filled with the aroma of the baking squash and the kitchen toasty warm from the oven. I wouldn’t have traded this for the efficiency, no way. I let the fork tender and browned skin squash cool enough to handle and with my hands, peel away the skin and squeeze the just warm squash into the pot with the other vegetables. Yet another benefit of roasting. My cranky morning fingers, stiff with cold and age and constant use, relish the warmth. The rich orange releases another burst of scent before making its final descent into the pot. I add  a pat of butter and some chicken broth, stir it all around, and let it sit covered on the stove until later.

An hour or so before mealtime. I will smooth it all together with an immersion blender, add some more chicken broth, heat until steaming, then add half & half, salt & pepper. I’ll roast some sunflower seeds in a small cast iron pan and add some tamari at the end. To sprinkle on top of the creamy savory soup.

It is now January 19 and the weekend. A different kind of rhythm will set in. A storm is coming. The crew finished putting the windows in and have tarped the entire addition to protect from the onslaught of predicted snow. I will bring in many loads of wood, eat steaming hot bowls of squash soup, and feel the incredible poignancy of this day in the life, of a year after Dad passed. A storm is coming. I like to think it is Dad saying enough, it is time for snow already! In our last years of time spent together I was lucky enough to share his version of morning meditative time when we visited, when he wasn’t on the slopes skiing, especially in the quiet of snow, when the rest of the world still slept and it was just the two of us and the dogs. We’d drink our hot black coffee with the fire, talking quietly, or not talking at all. I miss him so much. He would have liked how home here is transforming. I remember him going through a phase of making squash soup too. He liked to put maple syrup in his.

Cream of Squash Soup

1 large butternut squash, cut if half lengthwise
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 large head cauliflower or 1 small head, washed and broken into small florets
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. summer savory
2-3 cups chicken stock
1 Tbsp. butter
1/2 cup half & half

1. Preheat oven to 350. Rub cut faces of squash (I leave the seeds) with olive oil and place face down in backing dish, fit snugly together. Bake until fork tender, about an hour. Remove from oven and cool until just warm.

2. While squash is baking, add cauliflower, onion, ginger and savory to a medium soup pot and just cover with water. Bring to boil, cover and simmer until tender, about 20 minutes.

3. While squash is still warm, remove skin and seeds and add to pot with rest of vegetables. Add 1-1/2 cups of chicken broth, bring to a boil, add the butter, swirl it in, and turn off heat. At this point you can continue with finishing the soup, or let it cool and continue later.

4. About 30-40 minutes before you are ready to serve, blend contents of the pot until smooth (I use an immersion blender right in the pot). Add more chicken broth if too thick. Heat until just bubbling, add half & half, cover, turn heat to low and heat until just steaming. Add salt and pepper to taste.

5. Garnish with tamari sunflower/ or pumpkin seeds (roast in cast iron pan until just browned, turn off heat, splash with tamari, stir until completely coated and let cool in pan.

ping ping ping

There is this particular place on the path down to the brook, a very precise moment, when a ping ping ping inside magically morphs into exquisite sensation. It feels like the tissue that occupies space between my heart and solar plexus is expanding. My breath catches. It stops me in my tracks every time. It’s not always the exact same place when this happens, it’s like there is this clear line, not straight or identifiable by sight, that marks just where the edge of very old meets new, where what has always been meets what is always possible. Today is no different, even when the context of strong wind and bright low sun, blue sky and cold air holds magic too. 

For the first few years here, I thought it was a tree that was drawing me into its orbit and highlighting this line for me. It’s not a particularly distinctive tree except for the two trunks that have become one, and it feels undeniably old. It overlooks where the brook makes a dramatic turn and the water sculpts a landing. It is larger that any of its companions. It has commanded hugs at times and always receives reverence. Today as I passed by, my body adjusting to the sensation, a question appeared, ‘how is it that after four years I can still feel this way?’

I think there is little difference between food and art when playing in the creative realm. One moment this morning I was drawn into the kitchen to make a pite (pronounced payta), the Albanian pie my grandmother used to make with homemade phyllo dough. Making pite like my gramma puts me squarely into the realm of what has always been. It embodies the tradition and skill of making something so unbelievably memorable from simple and fresh and I am always amazed at what an accomplishment it is to pull a puffed up pie out of the oven and know I belong to a long lineage of those making this identifiable, sacred food.


And at the same time I was drawn into the studio to cut up a quilt I thought was close to done. Moving from sacred to sacrilege. It’s not the first time I have done this, in fact, it is a way of working that allows me to cross the line into what is always possible with my work.


I have no idea what will emerge after I begin to play with these four ‘new’ blocks. Which is the whole point. I realize I have been dancing on that edge of very old meeting new for a long time. Seeking places where the possibility of movement from a ping ping ping to heart opening presence has become a way of life. Some people call it balance. It always feels like this could be love.

Today, for the first time, I walked out into the middle of the brook and sat down on a large boulder there. This centerline of the brook happens to be my actual property line.


Here is another edge where it is possible to feel the wonder that is there, magnificent running water over ancient stone, as the space between what I think is mine and what is not. Edges are not lines dividing black and white or have and have not. I think they are always spaces that that contain the promise of something different.

hawthorn kombucha

The first thing I did when I got out of bed was to go check the kombucha (fermented teas beverage). It is now week four after finding a scoby growing in the bottom of one of the large store bought bottles I had left sitting with my empty, ready to re-use glass jars. (scoby, a mushroomy-looking thing, is an acronym for “symbiotic cultures of bacteria and yeast” looking much like a floating slab of blubber, and what makes kombucha’s fermentation magic happen). I had washed the bottle out, but clearly there must have been some trace of scoby, combined with leftover moisture trapped inside and well, nature took its course.

Twenty-five years ago, I was one of many ‘in the know’ who experimented with brewing my own after being gifted with one of the rather gross looking mushrooms. It wasn’t the craze it is now, but something that got passed word of mouth amongst nutritionists and healers. It didn’t last long for me. My passion for making food from homegrown healthy bacteria got channeled into sourdough bread-baking instead. Now, with a newly developed market for kombucha and a wide variety of store bought options out there, I have started drinking kombucha again, enjoying the nourishing addition of the lightly fermented tonic to my diet and digestive health. It is expensive to buy however, and the thought was there that I could start making my own. I have no idea how long the scoby had been living at the bottom of the bottle though, months I think, and you would have thought my discovery was like finding gold. I immediately researched the plethora of articles available on line, made a half gallon of sweetened black tea and slid the scoby and its vinegary home into the tea, covered with a porous woven cloth, and was in business a week later.**


There is something about watching something grow, being present for the changes, and enjoying the benefits of waiting for an outcome, known or unknown. It is this something that gets me out of bed each morning, both the anticipation and the love for what it is I am being present for. Even the awareness of this ‘something’ has been a growing thing.

Seven years ago I started writing this blog, dedicated to the awareness of where connections get made in the making of something beautiful and nourishing. It is something at once tangible and fleeting at the same time. Love of a thing that lasts only as long as I am present with it on the path I choose to follow. Is it that simple? Now seven years later, I am called to consider where I have grown, what has been completed or healed, and what this next cycle might reveal.

After a summer of significant rain, of watching frogs jump out of the path of the oncoming lawn mower, of grief over the loss of another significant male presence in my life, my father, of looking out my kitchen window each day at the magnificent hawthorn tree that lives there and the magnificent bounty of berries forming this year, I am feeling overwhelmed by how significantly I seem to have veered of my path these past months. It has been a cleansing kind of summer if I want to be generous. After the most recent storm (the tail of Florence), I finally ventured down into my woods. even the path was running water, and the sight of the surging water in the brook below triggered a surging in me, of a longing for being here that I have ignored for too many months.


There are days I think it is the rain that has kept me out of my beloved walks in the woods. But the fact is, life has changed. I have grown. And the resulting change in a day to day routine that seemed so perfect just nine months ago has eventually brought me face to face with how deeply heartbreak can live when faced with a change you are not ready for. That even with nourishing beauty and spontaneous accomplishment, I still feel that heartbreak deeply and can still question my motivation for getting out of bed each day. There is no blame or person I can reliably pin this to. Heartbreak just is, and it has always co-existed with the joy and fun of life I have had the privilege to experience at the same time.

Like the copious amount of raindrops, there are so many hawthorn berries. I watch after each rain as they become a little fuller, more red, now ready to harvest. I have begun collecting them, a little bit each day, putting some in a jar to make tincture, spreading some out to dry, all in preparation for making hawthorn cordial to honor this time, to offer myself and my loved ones a tonic to heal bloody heartfelt wounds of the spirit that might be there.


The something right now is healing through growth. The something is always growth, but I don’t always see. I think I will add some hawthorn berries to my next batch of kombucha.

I recently came across this saying (from wildwomansisterhood’s Instagram page), and the invitation to reflect on this something called growth….

You’re so hard on yourself.
Take a moment.
Sit back.
Marvel at your life:
at the grief that softened you
at the heartache that widened you,
at the suffering that strengthened you.
Despite everything,
you still grow.
Be proud
of this.


**Kombucha (Tea)
for 1 gallon (or halve recipe for smaller quantity)

Boil 14 cups water. Turn off heat, add (1) cup sugar and stir to dissolve, then and add (8) tea bags, or equiv. (I have been using Trader Joe’s Irish breakfast tea bags).  Let cool to room temperature (lower the pot into a bath of cold water in the sink to aid the cooling). Pour cooled tea in gallon size glass container, add scoby and (2) cups kombucha. (you can grown your own scoby, get one from a friend, or purchase one, lots of info online for this.) Cover jar with a porous something (I use a cloth vegetable bag or a coffee filter) and secure with rubber band. Let sit at room temperature for at least seven days. Taste. It should be slightly effervescent and slightly tart. If the scoby isn’t developed enough the kombucha may also taste weak, so just brew longer and keep tasting every few days or so. You can drink right away if you like the straight taste, or bottle for second fermentation.

Have clean bottles ready for second fermentation. (I use two half gallon size bottles). At this point you can get very creative. I add a couple pieces of fresh ginger and some pineapple bits to each bottle. Any fruit will do. It gives additional sweet/flavor to the brew and aids in a quick second fermentation for stronger fizz. Cap tightly and let sit at room temperature for up to two days. Best to uncap release the gas every (12) hours or so. (I have heard of kombucha explosions happening in a friend’s kitchen…not a pretty thought). Two days is enough for me, it tastes delicious and has a good fizz. I then keep the bottles refrigerated. Yum!