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a month of balance :: day 1
A Simple Idea
You're all very nice, really, thanks. I wasn't looking for cheers about my photoraphy skills, but boy, you make a girl feel good. I will be starting my month long project on Monday, until then I may have a bit of blathering to get out of my system beforehand. I've decided I won't be writing any words of my own during this project. That's the plan, even though I have no idea how I will be able to keep quiet for that long, but I need to. For me this has to be all about the images... if there are any words they will be borrowed from some other soul. I'm pretty excited to see how I feel and what I will have learned at the end of this month of balance. And just so I'm clear, this will not only be about capturing the good vs. bad in my days. I'm not sure if that came through in my last post. It's about energy, in all it's opposing forms, making sense of the balance that exists somewhere in the middle. Mellow/excited, desperate/glutinous, chaotic/serene, challenge/ease... it's all there, everyday.
This picture... in an effort to keep summer local as we are more mindful than ever of energy conservation, myself and two friends started a Family Fun Night at my daughter's school. I realize that is the lamest, most unimaginative of titles, but the kids wanted it to be called something. Kids love stuff like that. Anyway, so far it's four families. We gather at the school, three miles from my house every Wednesday evening for a couple of hours. The school is closed of course, though many of us have keys (it's a laid back kind of place) should the kiddos need the bathroom. Each family brings a picnic dinner, the kids get to run loose on their beloved blacktop and playscape, shoot hoops, check out the vernal pond, make mud with the hose in the sand box (which would be a no-no during the school year), you know, general kid summer stuff. The adults get to visit, catch up, enjoy the slow passing of yet another summer, and watch our little crew slowly turn into a bigger crew. A simple idea for this community that is working out beautifully.
What's going on in your community, with your peeps, in an effort to keep it local, whether you have children or not, please share. There are six more days in the week to think of...
A Month of Balance, Coming Up
For three hours today I scrubbed the floors. On hands and knees, changing the water in my bucket too many times to count. My poor dog Sukha drools uncontrollably and goes into full body shaking/trembling fits at the slightest hint of thunder in the distance. It's summer in New England, there is always a hint of thunder in the distance. My floors were bad. Really bad. On top of that I was just cranky. I had plans to hang with Emily this afternoon. We were going to head down to the library, then make some jam. Our plans were cast aside as one neighborhood friend showed up, then another. They're great kids, I just wanted a day with my kid, and only my kid. I was feeling crabby and bitchy and wanting to get the hell out of this urban locale and head for the hills. I wanted there to be a small forest between myself and my closest neighbor. I wanted total privacy, just for one day. Instead, the kids played while I scrubbed the floors. Maybe we'll walk down to the library tomorrow.
As I washed the floors I thought a lot about balance, how I find it, and how easily it can slip away if I'm not careful. I try every day to maintain a healthy balance in my life, my heart. But sometimes, when I turn my head for a moment, things get all lumpy and scattered, thrown here and there. I thought about how inspired I've been this month with Erin's 30 Days of Happiness. How I'm in love with her 365 Set. I don't think I've ever seen a more expressive collection of self portraits. I've always loved Erin's blog, but lately I feel like I'm hearing her truest, wisest voice come through her words and images.
At a certain point in the late afternoon I decided to turn my attitude around, get over myself, send the kids to their respective homes and have a little one on one with my girl. I brewed up a batch of iced coffee, made mine a double, and set her up too. Why not. We chilled on the deck, talked about how six days out of the week it's great to have a constant flow of kids in and out of here, handing out frozen chocolate bananas and all, but sometimes you (I) just want to be alone and not have the doorbell ring in the middle of lunch, just sometimes. You know, to keep the balance. Here's what I'm thinking... a la Erin's 30 Days of Happiness as well as other "30 Day" projects that I am too tired to link to right now... I'd like to record two photos a day for a month (or so), intending to capture the balance in my days. Sitting with chaos, sitting with joy, finding a steady, reliable, safe connection between the two. I'm hoping my images will remind me daily that no matter what, no matter if I am handed sweet or sour grapes as the sun rises, there can always be (at least) a moment of balance before the end of the day. Even if it's a little balancing pranyama while cozied up in bed.
My camera isn't anything special, I won't be amazing you with my picture taking prowess during this project. My hope is to look back on these days and see with my eyes that yes, indeed, I was able to capture the balance, the yin and yang of my life. That I will be able to reflect, feel joy and count my blessings on those days when I just want to run to the hills.
I think I'll start this on Monday, maybe sooner, likely on Monday.
The City Dwellers Garden Update
I thought it would be a good idea to record a little garden progress to date. Remember, we live on 1/4 acre, our yard is mostly shaded by huge, old maples, an oak, an ash, and a gorgeous magnolia tree. There was some talk of removing the oak, it's removal would give us all the sun we need to grow tons of food, a whole lot of weighing the pros and cons of things went on there... but my tree hugging, protesting daughter (hmmm, no surprise) rallied her friends together for a poster making extravaganza which they then attached to all the trees in our yard. Declaring the slaughter of their beloved 'friends' cruel and unjust. My favorite is where she refers to Adam as Mr. Lawyer. Ha! Take that! She's my own Julia Butterfly Hill, bless her little hippie self. Her voice was heard, and the trees have all stayed standing on our tiny plot of earth, so we are attempting an 8x16 ft garden that is mostly shady. Where are we at?
I am pleased to say we have produced some very happy, beautiful romaine. Things were totally successful on the lettuce front! We then suffered 'crop damage' due to a significant storm with damaging winds. I felt so connected to what our farmers experience when nature destroys their crops. Granted, the scale is not the same, and our income is not dependent on the success of this garden, but the moment I went out back and discovered this scene I felt an even more heightened sensitivity to what it means to live the life of a farmer. I bow to each and every one of them. These plants oddly enough were not broken at the base, just literally lying on their sides. I propped and re-planted, read poetry aloud and prayed to the broccoli gods... days passed... I prayed some more. And then... low and behold, we had broccoli. Our very own, grown in the shade, tender beyond belief, tasty, yummy broccoli. Wow.
The broccoli is now all harvested, and I have to think about what to plant in it's place. The radishes don't seem to be as impressive, and the variety of kale I selected appears to be a little wimpy, which is funny because wimpy and kale shouldn't even be written in the same sentence. Maybe it's not too late to try another variety. The beans look like they are doing just fine, too soon to tell though. I'll keep you posted...
Our focus in this garden was on the area beneath the plants, seeing as we had little control over what was happening above. Some of you gave us the advice to remove limbs only from trees above the garden, we did do that at the end of winter. It's helped a bit, not enough for tomatoes and melons, but a little. So we decided to build the earth. Creating the most fertile soil we could was where we placed our greatest efforts, and I think this modestly sized, tenderly sweet head of broccoli is very grateful for that.
A Summer Bag
It's been a long time since I've posted anything crafty which is funny because so much of my time has been spent happily making things these last weeks. This is a new bag design that is so summery to me. A few technical details to share with you... I've started making straps as thin as I can get away with. These are 3/4" wide. They are still interfaced and made of linen for durability, but sit on your shoulder quite easily, like a tank or a bra strap, and can be adjusted with the lift of your thumb underneath. Does that make any sense? I hope so, I'm pretty particular about these things and do think (for me anyway) I have come to a feminine, comfortable, yet sturdy strap width. It's the little things in life... I think I'm just going to keep making these all summer this year (among other things), the market goers seem to love them and they are so cheerful to work on. Aren't they kind of Brady Bunch-ish? The exterior is made of various vintage sheeting material, which is so vibrant and retro, but to make them strong and durable they are lined with vintage linen. And of course there's a pocket in there. A linen pocket, again, for the strength. I think I'll put some in the shop later on today, things have gotten pretty dusty over there. Both shops actually, I have quite a few things to load into Mayberries Vintage; I'll try to get on that this week. The last couple of weeks have been a little hectic with school ending and such. And there has been the beach that I've needed to say hello to a few times. Hope you are sliding effortlessly into a summertime rhythm as well.
Heaven on Earth... for Fifty Cents an Acre
She told her friends for fifty cents an acre they could buy heaven on earth. That was nearly fifty years ago, she was raising her family in Connecticut at the time. She bought her first hundred acres and a very decrepit old house that everyone said should be torn down. Her cost was $350. This slice of earth became the family summer home, and when June's husband passed away at too young of an age, she moved up here to live all on her own. That was forty years ago. She acquired more land around her as it became available until she had close to four hundred acres and she restored the old farmhouse to it's beautiful original condition. Adding such amenities as indoor plumbing and electricity, though she cooks with wood and still maintains both privies on the property. One is in the woodshed the other by the horse barn. She believes it's important to be set up in a self sufficient manner, just in case. At 92 years old she attributes her fortitude and health to these hills, with it's rich fertile soil and mountain spring water supply.