transformation

Around these parts, it’s hard not to witness the seasonal transformation as it’s all around us — blossoms popping out of the ground, the sky bigger and brighter, asparagus and dandelion on the table. And the songbirds! Though the sun set more than an hour ago, the mockingbird carries on singing outside my open window, and will likely do so all night long.

I too am undergoing transformation as the last two weeks of art classes are before me, graduation in just a little over a month, and then I find myself staring a wide, at times daunting, blank canvas where a career, vocation, lifework should be. Sure, I have plans, ideas, some freelance work and craft shows lined up. But there is still so much uncertain that I at times secretly long for the more predictable transformation that a change of season brings. Where the snowdrops bloom before the crocuses, which appear before the daffodils that arrive just before the lilac flowers, and the tulips, peonies, and hydrangea….

At the same time, I itch to be done with my final projects. It’s difficult to find them engaging when there’s so much more on my mind. Because as uncertain the future, I also know that it’s time for me to move on, that my work at the school is (almost) finished, and that, like the young birds pecking their ways out of the pale blue and speckled shells, also to enter an unknown world, I must go. Despite whatever doubt arises in the moment, I am ready.

With a major life change on the horizon and a birthday celebrated this past week, the time is right for contemplation. I am grateful these days have coincided with Easter and its themes of loves and miracles and rebirth. They’ve helped to fill in the pauses, the negative spaces of my thoughts, as has the singing mockingbird — our sentinel of spring and warm, bright days ahead.

 

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advent calendar traditions

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The first advent calendars I remember were the ones we received along with our family’s World Book “Christmas in [insert country name]…” series back in the seventies and early eighties. The annual subscription included a handcrafted tree ornament, the beautifully photographed book detailing that year’s featured country’s Christmas traditions, and a paper advent calendar, which my brother and sister and I took turns opening its windows (with our mother refereeing). For small-town kids in an era before mass international travel, those books and ornaments, not to mention the advent calendar, were a highlight of our holiday season and absolutely treasured. In fact, the ornaments still adorn our trees almost forty years later.

And I still think advent calendars are a fun holiday tradition, so this year I picked up one for me and another for James (at 99cents a piece, it was an affordable splurge!). I also am participating in a Kindness Advent Calendar event (details can be found here) because our world can always do with extra kindness, especially at this time of year. If you haven’t a traditional advent calendar this year (or even if you do), why not join the kindness chain!

Happy Friday!

the queen

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When I was a child and thought of a butterfly, an image of the monarch always came first to mind. And now, forty-plus years along and the numbers of this regal butterfly plummeting, a monarch sighting has become something to celebrate. Its visit to our garden was brief, so I made sure to get a bunch of pics. The brilliant orange and black and white spots still dazzle, and yet again I find myself awed by nature’s beauty on this waning summer day.

Spring, we love you!

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One of my favorite times of year has arrived and I couldn’t be happier! The change in light, the smell of earth in the air, the birdsong all make it impossible not to start the day with a smile. I also, like many, find myself with the desire to clean house, and this afternoon set to straightening and prettying up our porch. I can’t pick up a broom anymore without thinking of our neighbor in Spain, Almudena, who began each and every day with a broom in hand, sweeping down our pedestrianized calle. At this time of year, she and the other women neighbors busied themselves with touching up their home’s whitewash, as all must be in perfect order before Semana Santa and Easter.

The rebirth, the Circle of Life, the light inspire and make all seem possible again after the dark of winter. I feel it — hope you all do too! 🙂

gratitude sunday

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gratitude — the state of being grateful : thankfulness

On this Gratitude Sunday, I am grateful for:

  • Beautiful sunsets
  • Visits with my brother and niece — they don’t get to come off the “Cape” often, but when they do we make the most of our time together 🙂
  • The annual “reset” that New Year brings each January — I am not one for resolutions, but I do value the taking stock, reflection, and planning for coming year
  • Our amazing chickens — yesterday was the first day since they starting laying a few weeks ago that all six gave us an egg (or as we joke “paid their rent” 🙂 )!
  • The traditional burning ceremony our church holds each first Sunday of January — it’s always one of the best attended services and it feels great to collectively let go of the personal emotional baggage from the previous year 🙂
  • Trying out a new recipe and it’s a successful! I made this cake for our family gathering on Monday and it was a delicious hit, yum.
  • Being given the contact details of a local farmer who sells organic chicken feed at a super price — we’ll save a lot of $$ buying from him in future (and he’s super nice to boot!)
  • This break from my studies and the grind of daily classes — I am starting to feel my batteries recharging and beginning to look forward to the next semester. 🙂
  • But in the meantime, it’s been nice to return to fiction reading. With so much to keep up with reading assignment-wise during the fall, I was left with no time (or desire) for leisure reading.
  • New Year’s eating traditions: I love this part of the festivities. I made the traditional PA Dutch pork and sauerkraut for James (and I confess it smelled so good, for a second or two, I questioned my vegetarian status!) and I had sauerkraut with collard greens,  beans, and soba noodles — a total hodgepodge of ethnic NY’s good luck foods but delicious nevertheless. 🙂
  • The year that has passed — last year at this time, I had zero idea of what my life would like now, having just been made redundant a few weeks earlier. Sure, life is always uncertain, but I am excited by the direction my work has shifted in 2015 and can’t wait to learn more in the coming year!

welcome january and 2016!

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january

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february

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march

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april

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may

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june

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july

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august

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september

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october

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november

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december

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2015 was a challenging year in many ways, but one that also brought us many blessings for which we are very grateful. In my absence these past few months, I started a new two-year degree program in graphic design — something I had dreamt about for some time but suddenly, finally became possible. I found most days during my first semester back at school exhilarating but also exhausting and a proper work-life balance always just out of reach. I am hoping that, with the major transition behind me, the spring semester, which starts in a few weeks, will be easier to manage. Although I must add that my hard work paid off with a 3.92 grade point average! 🙂

There were many other highlights of the past year. We were lucky to spend time at the beach and make a  couple trips to New York, where I took in wonderful concerts by Iris DeMent and Lyle Lovett. We also went to a reading by David Seders in October, which was a fun night out! Our garden gave us so much this past year, and I found it incredibly satisfying to put up so many pints of preserves. The summer was also full of our favorite festivals — the local folk festival, the peach festival, the chili pepper festival, the fiddle festival — all were great fun! We enjoyed a baseball night out with my dad for father’s day and visits with my brother and niece. I wake up in the morning surrounded by the love of a husband, two dogs, and a cat. All of our chicks from the spring are fully grown and providing an abundance of fresh eggs. The days guide us from season to season, each seeming richer than the previous. The sun rises and sets, and we are blessed.

yarn along

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Today I am joining Ginny’s Yarn Along, sharing what I have been making and reading this week.

On the “make” front, I just finished a pair of soap “socks” in fibranatura organic cotton, which are being gifted and mailed off tomorrow. 🙂

My reading pile this week is topped by Julia Cameron’s creative memoir, floor sample. Julia Cameron has been an long-time inspiration in my life, to which the stacks of journals (where I write my “daily pages”) easily attest. Over the years, her words have coaxed me to return to writing, to explore creative interests, and to believe in myself always. For these reasons, I’m really looking to spending some time with this book this week.

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