road to home

I’m at that exciting place in the publishing process, when the final proof has been approved and printing is about to begin. I’ve worked hard to get here. First the years of writing and re-writing and finally hiring a professional editor to bring the book home with polish. I was fortunate enough to be able to barter one of my quilts for graphic design services with a colleague who makes her living as a book designer. Finally, the wonderful local Leveller’s Press is able to print color and black & white on the same paper, eliminating the need for the book to be ‘all color’ and thus, making this endeavor, full of color photos, affordable. I’ve discovered that I am good at the details, happy to proof and proof again until everything is just right. I’m just plain thrilled to be getting this unusual book in print.

During the first proof review, when you get to see the book actually bound for the first time, when all the last details pop up to be addressed, it was suggested that as publisher, I could come up with a name. Walking in the woods the next day, I opened my awareness to the possibilities. Almost immediately the words ‘road to home’ came to me. And like being drawn to that expensive skein of yarn the minute you walk through the door, coming back to it after looking at every other possibility in the store, and not thinking twice at this point at the cost, these three words eventually became Road to Home Press. I just kept coming back to the feeling of a perfect fit, for capturing the spirit of growth, that no matter what road you choose for staying open and aware, the potential for experiencing awe and love in relation to who or what or where you are, is always there.

No coincidence of course that Facebook offered me this quote I posted five years ago…

“Make that desire to stay aware really tasty so you can evolve. Evolution is the best game in town, and there is no better high than an epiphany.” – Ana T. Forrest

Walking in the woods with the dogs through the first real snow this morning, I felt the excitement of Road to Home Press being on the verge of delivering it’s first offering. As with all that follows when I make the desire to stay aware ‘tasty’, when the outcome is equally uncertain, I know I can aways see another possible road to home in front of me.

I call the dogs and they come running for their tasty treat.

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And though I know they are bound to me with invisible ties of loyalty and love, it is important that I continue to make their desire for coming home truly worth their while. Even waiting for a moment to deliver the treat can cause anxiety and concern…

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The snow has now started to come down hard. The dogs head back outside, they find their individual toys and do their individual romps. And then there is a sparkling moment where their play evolves into a rare nose touching of peace and stillness between them. I embody the sweet feeling. This too feels like home.

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adding wood to the fire

It was fifty-two degrees in the house when I woke up this morning. It always feels colder, these predawn moments in the first days of frost. I immediately started the fire in the porch room wood stove.

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When we are solidly into winter, I will keep this stove going twenty-four hours a day, damping down a full hot chamber to last through the night and give me glowing embers in the morning. But I resist starting this practice too early. The frugal in me wants to preserve the current stock of firewood, make sure I have enough to eek out the winter, stubbornly refusing to order more just in case. So I will wait, and anticipate when the days become as frigid as the night to begin the practice of adding wood the fire continuously, to keep the inside of home warm enough to support the productive flow of life here.

I think of the wood kiln firing Molly and I attended this past weekend. My neighbor Mark Shapiro is a renowned potter and has created an impressive body of work that draws an impressive community. I learned that day that it takes at least five people to be attending to the needs of the voracious fire inside the kiln, heating the chamber to an epic temperature needed to fire the beauty inside. I learned that the fire was started at five in the morning and would likely go until well into the evening. I watched invested potters attend to their various jobs, conversing, taking breaks for soup and tea inside, and coming back to the fire with absolute dedication. I marveled at the intensity of heat that was building.

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Invited back to the opening and unloading of the kiln to take place three days later, I had the honor of carrying one piece of magnificence after another into the studio to be placed on tables and shelves. I learned it was a ‘good firing’ with almost no casualties. I can only imagine the sense of anticipation in the three days of waiting. It was a sight to behold, the arrangement of beautifully crafted objects waiting to be removed.

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As I stood talking with Mark and his apprentice Eli about being a visual artist, about the thrill of seeing and appreciating such accomplished work, I shared about the upcoming publication of my book. When I said the title, “Adding Wood To The Fire – A Quiltmaker’s Way”, there were smiles, as the synchronicity of FIRE serving both literally and figuratively, the flow of our respective work, registered.

The book is in the hands of the printer and all that’s left is to do a final review, make the last little tweaks, and make the commitment to send to press. I received the final proof of the book cover exterior yesterday.

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This first effort, of integrating art and life in a series of chapters that have been written over and over and over these past four years, has now led to my own days of anticipation, of waiting to see the actual book in hand. I am only imagining a ‘good firing’ here too…

 

the order of things

I live with a rack of empty jars. They have been background for a long time, all sitting there waiting to be filled. I notice them in the dim morning light as I look around for a container to pour the gorgeous pink salt Molly has travelled home with. She loves this salt. It is the only food item she has brought into the kitchen since she arrived. It is the real deal.

Within moments of landing in the room I have given over to her, Molly re-arranged the furniture. I affectionately refer to as ‘the dorm room’, three single beds that have often been filled with three friends visiting at a time, to my parents and Ben at Christmas. It is a generous room which invites participation. Molly needed to create a sense of order here that was hers. I resisted of course. The order of the room as I had made it felt right to me. It had never occurred to me to make a change. I finally yielded, and was rewarded with the experience of a new order that also felt just right. Molly’s order, but order I could embrace too. As an architect I considered how confident I have become in the experience of order that I make for others. and how settled I have become in being able to live in the daily order of my own making. I loved that Molly, in just a few short moments, was able to shift me out of a stuck place. The room quickly filled with her things and her essence, becoming a safe place for her cat Jupiter as he adjusts to life in a new country with two strange non-Peruvian dogs and their human.

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After filing two jars with the salt, I looked around, then grabbed the oil soaked rag under the sink and began to dust the surfaces that were calling out loudly in the sunlight, knowing I wouldn’t be able to settle into the day until the surfaces gleamed the gleam of saturated, well nourished wood. I felt how the rhythm of my own brand of experience of the order of things that I respond to can condition every movement of my day, putting items in their places, sweeping floors, adding two more pieces to the quilt, clearing counters, three more rows of knitting, stacking a little more wood, making the bed, and so on….

I took a photo the other day that I keep thinking about.

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There is something about the collaboration of stone and wood and air in this particular place that has called to me every time I’ve walked by. On that day the sun and foliage were in just the right place for me to see the order that I typically only felt there. There is no explanation for why this image should invoke a sense of order for me, but it does. It is simply a quality of order that I seek to embody and flow through in all I do. It is what sometimes take months to find expression in a design or a quilt or a chapter of prose. And when it finally does, it is because it is right in front of me and I have finally yielded to it.

The order of home is now changing as I continue to yield to my beautiful daughter’s presence and way. Every little modification is a revelation, and an opportunity to revel in the joy of true and new at the same time. There’s nothing like an adult child coming home to live to stir things up. Even Jupiter is now venturing out of the room, considering his options.

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Now, when I look at the rack of empty jars, I see only the potential of what will fill them.

browned purple potatoes

I pan fried purple potatoes for supper the other day. Nestled in the blackened cast iron pan, they were a sight. They came from my favorite local farm, organic, fresh, full of moisture and life. I’ve never seen a potato so beautifully purple all the way through, shades of shades of purple, like a fine piece of hand-dyed cloth that registers a palpable flow of color.

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If I could assign a color to my life right now, it would be this purple in the pan. It is the color of spirit moving through my days of calm, resilience, and solitude, the color I see in passing awareness. Three years of living life to my own rhythm and beat, punctuated by needs of the four-legged’s that share this home with me has been a life full of shades, of the ups and downs of reckoning with just me. It is the first time I have emptied out drawers and closets to make space for another human here. Daughter Molly is coming home!

And then, after a time, when the potatoes had been cooking just so long, I began to turn them to reveal an indescribable shade of browned purple, flashing gold. It was the color of cooked to perfection, crisp on the outside, soft and pliable on the inside, something new ready to be savored.

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The last time I saw a purple potato was when I was visiting Molly in Peru. It feels like a sign, a premonition of something alive and fresh about to breeze through. That she is arriving with her beloved cat Jupiter (pronounced ‘hoopeeter’) means she has left her beloved second home in search of something new. Life is about to change. Two dogs, a cat and a daughter all under one roof. For however long. I can’t wait.

the middle way

Having my first walk in the woods with the dogs in almost three weeks, there are noticeable changes. Gold gone tone deaf brown,

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and conifer green with sunlit yellow bursts now reserved for the low lying beech trees that define a perceptible middle ground.

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There are broad stretches of wheat colored growth, dying while at the same time holding firm ground.

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There is the iridescent flaming red that connects and ignites the middle ground of the landscape.

I revel in this middle ground. I find comfort in the enclosure of life and color so close that it caresses. It’s hard to ignore. It’s easy to accept the change from all inclusive vastness of tree and sky that so recently encircled and invited, to the starkness of bare gray branch getting lost in blue white grayness above.

I settle back into a middle way, between fight and flight, into acceptance. Finally giving the adrenals a rest from battling fatigue, worry and denial.

Contemplating the middle way is probably about as old as time. As I walk, I realize how easy it is to settle into acceptance. It doesn’t mean I have to let go of a vision or give up. It doesn’t mean I have failed. I want the best for my parents who need our support right now. But it doesn’t mean I can fix anything or actually change the outcome. I can help. I can provide some measure of comfort. Hopefully with kindness. It is as a wise friend recently told me, “The best we can do is simply walk beside them and hold the space for their journey.” Well, isn’t that the truth. For everything. For every relationship and every encounter and every experience that we are lucky enough to have in life. The middle ground is acceptance of another’s journey, offering the respect to let it be, and recognize where I can take responsibility for my own journey at the same time.

Walking now in the beauty I call home, I revel in the good feeling that acceptance can be.

and I knit

I have left my beloved home in the hills to temporarily reside in the beloved home of my parents, to be support for them during a challenging time. Here, the greeting of the sun each morning never disappoints.

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Here, one is consistently seduced by the promise of change that resides in the colors of fall. It is a blessing to be assaulted with the beauty of changing scenes throughout the day.

It is a reminder that this time too shall pass, that whatever struggles are here to negotiate right now can be met with gratitude.

And I knit. Not anything complicated or requiring knowledge of sophisticated patterns. I just knit, seventy-two stitches on size ten and a half needles, back and forth until the call for a change in color prompts me to reach in my bag and consider the next phase of the work.

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My knitting bag, bought in Peru last year during my stay with Molly is with me at all times. I never leave home without it.

The simple repetition of knit and purl is a balm. Each stitch is a breath. When the pain of emotion rises, I can send it through my heart and out through my fingers into the next stitch. I revel in the momentary calm. Until the next feeling arises and like a wave finding shore, becomes absorbed in the soft fibers under my touch. Over and over and over again.

I love that fall has the ability to envelop us all in the inevitable acceptance of transition from one season to another. Everything dies. The life of a leaf that eventually falls to the ground is but just a moment in the life of a tree that has the ability to regenerate through change every single year. And in doing so, we are offered the greatest affirmation of living a life. Us humans could learn a thing or two from these trees. I have heard that trees embody a form of intelligence that can communicate through vast root networks. It makes sense that this might be true.

When I knit, I feel the root of devotion to being open to change, open to the love that is there, and open to whatever the next moment might bring.

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I imagine that what moves out through my fingertips becomes part of a vast human network of human hope and promise of joy, that I can connect to a vast network of human fear and sadness and pain and stay rooted to exactly where I am.

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chocolate, camaraderie, & companionship

I’m finally back to daily walks with the dogs in the woods after a brief but significant break in the typically balanced flow of our days together. Life has been very full. After weeks of eating outside my routine, of consuming food for comfort and convenience other than in concert with my own nourishing awareness, I was delighted to come back to a favorite this week. It is simply one frozen banana, sliced and creamed in a food processor with a heaping tablespoon of organic baking cocoa.

I sometimes add just a tad of half and half, but it honestly doesn’t need it. There is something magical about how a frozen banana can become something so perfectly creamy. Sometimes I mix in a tablespoon of cocoa nibs and/or raisins. Chocolate as superfood. It’s all good. It’s incredibly delicious and satisfying. It’s one of the many reminders that desire can be a very good companion to my body indeed. Making this for myself, I realize that full and fun still needs to include the space where such desires can be seen.

I noticed a change in the dogs after the weeks of altered routine. They seemed even more of a team than usual.

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Yogi literally stayed on top of Nora, nudging her into romp and play along the trail in the woods. If Nora veered off, Yogi followed. If Yogi disappeared as he has been doing with more frequency, then Nora stayed close as if to say, ‘Don’t worry, he’ll be back.’ There has been a sense of companionship between them that I’m noticing for the first time. They are separate and they are one. And my relationship to them is as a unit in this context. They, together, become my one companion, waxing and waning within the energetic orbit I emit. I never once feel alone when I am in the woods with them, even if I can’t see them, even when I know they have taken off to elude the attachment of the leash that signals an inevitable return home. I think, this is love. It is not a perfect relationship. I feel a consistency and commitment to transcend the moments of panic and fear that can grip me when I lose sight of them. I am willing to look at my need to control, to let go and trust.

As I walked this week, the word camaraderie kept coming to me, evoked by the warm feelings from a week spent with a dear friends learning how to dye fabric with natural dyes, total immersion into a creative endeavor with like minded-souls who thought this was as much fun as I did. It was wonderful camaraderie. Then to come home to prepare for a retreat/reunion weekend with college friends. We have recently started coming together once a year, a ritual, and this particular visit was a spectacular flow of easy and fun, all dog loving, nature loving, family loving, life loving, even rummikub loving women who have moved through the past thirty-seven years into a way of being together that feels like the best kind of camaraderie. Our bond has became even stronger for it. I typically don’t like photos of myself, but in this see only the ease I felt in their presence. It’s the way I feel in the woods.

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Camaraderie feels different from companionship and I’ve struggled to discern the difference. Camaraderie is a transitory experience that is experienced in the moment, when the energies of many are flowing on the same current for a finite period of time. Companionship feels more like a 1:1 relationship that tends to be more ethereal, relying more on a perception of presence than the actual physical presence of another. When I am deep in the woods with both dogs off leash, we are moving together in a camaraderie of movement, of communion with what is there, and with each other in the most natural feeling of ways, free and untethered and fully trusting in the joy of the moment. We rarely lose sight of one another. But I had come to dread the moment of putting them back on leash. I used to think this was the death of the camaraderie, that when they were on leash, none of us would have fun anymore. I finally realized that going back on leash simply changed the relationship from one of camaraderie to one of companionship for me. It wasn’t better or worse. Just a little different.

Now if they take off to elude the leash, I can switch to companionship mode, go to our ritual meeting place, sit on my favorite boulder, and open my heart to where they might be in love. They will always come to me in this place. Always.