Thursday, December 9, 2010

simpler living (my rasp and nippers)

The last couple weeks we've been having trouble with the Internet connection and I've been kept away from the blog. We have limited options for connection here and our first choice ended up being painfully slow....amazing being an hour from a major city! Thankfully our second choice seems to be up to snuff and I'll be able to manage the new Etsy store check in here with more ease.

Around the homestead we've prepared another garden bed employing the Lasagna method. With this method you don't have to work the soil at all, or remove existing grass. It's our first time doing it this way and if nothing else it was a fun way for the kids to help out. There's been plenty of winterizing and carrying water to frozen troughs. Luckily this grey settling in for winter was punctuated by a night of partying with old friends till the wee hours...we need some of that every now and then! Filled with cheer we're ready to continue through the winter months ahead.

Another focus around here has been learning new skills. We enjoy this effort to live closer to our food and to connect as a family through our connection to the land. I hope this choice is open to anyone who wants to explore it no matter what their financial situation - that it's not just seen as a luxury. I think there's a stirring in many of us that feels uneasy about letting the years pass saying,"I'll eventually have the time." If you're honest with yourself and keep simplicity the goal you have a good chance at making a new way now. I'm stumbling and strengthening as we take small steps to escape the work-spend-consume treadmill, it's a hard thing to unravel, but we're already enjoying time together as a family that we've never known.

There are many things we've had to address, but one thing that makes an immediate impact is cutting out paying for services whenever possible. This means mastering a few new skills. My skill for the month - learning to trim hooves. I thought I would always employ the services of a farrier, but I started to wonder if I could do it myself.

I've watched farriers at work since the age of five and I spent years reading through my
Official Manual of the British Horse Society. With some more training I felt confident I could cut this bill out of our budget. Big A brought home the rasp and nippers I'd been eyeing at the Tractor Supply Co. and I'm now doing successful pony trims. Anything more complicated like shoeing or corrective work I would need help with, but for now we're set.

What new skill have you learned that has helped the family budget?

Friday, November 19, 2010

a visit to the rising (collecting water at the "holy well")

Yesterday we took a drive across the crest of the mountain and into the hollow along a vertical outcropping of Oriskany sandstone, unloaded our bottles and filled them at the spring house.

We live equal distance to two springs where we go to collect water. It's a bit of a drive, but worth it. Both springs have bath houses and modest resorts attached to them, Berkeley Springs rests in a small town with local artist studios and restaurants; people visit for hot baths year round. We usually go here in the summer because the kids love the outdoor swimming. Capon Spring has an enormous old hotel and spa built in 1850, but is usually more of a ghost town this time of year - this is where we went yesterday.

A "holy well" can be any spring that holds significance in the folklore of the area. Both of these springs are believed to have healing properties and were sacred places to the native Americans tribes that resided there. For me the collection of the water at its source is holy enough. After walking down the aisles of the grocery store lined with bottles that ensure my safety it feels magical to have water rise up from the ground ready for consumption.

Put visiting a spring on your summer to do list, it offers perspective and the road trip almost always takes you somewhere you wouldn't have discovered otherwise.

View from inside a steaming private bath at Berkeley Springs.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

white bean and kale empanadas

Every culture has its favorite stuffed dough; empanadas are a Spanish and Portuguese stuffed bread or pastry. The name comes from the verb empanar, meaning to wrap or coat in bread. El Salvador, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Haiti, Indonesia...each area has its regional twists on the filling. I enjoy coming up with new vegetarian fillings for these little pockets. Last night I experimented with white bean and kale. This is a delicious hearty filling that creates a whole meal in a pocket. These flavors work well this time of year...not to mention, a warm empanada in your hands is the ultimate comfort food.

Soaking beans and mixing your own dough is always an option, but I'm going to share the last minute version. This method makes use of canned beans and store bought pastry disks. You can find the disks in the frozen foods section of most specialty stores, or super markets with a well stocked international aisle. If you'd like to get comfortable making the dough now, here are a couple recipes:

Red Yucca Empanada Dough

Martha's Empanada Dough

To make the filling sauté half a cup of red onions in olive oil until they just start to get soft. Sprinkle a little cumin over the hot onions and oil. I love the flavor of cumin, but you might want to start with a pinch, taste and adjust to your taste. Next add two cans of cannellini beans (I had some left over red beans that I mixed in for this pot) gently stir until cooked through, add salt and pepper to taste, then add chopped kale and some mozzarella cheese. Mix gently and remove from heat.

Place your discs on the work surface and add a table spoon of filling just left of center; fold the disk over and press with a fork to seal the edges.

Now that the empanadas are filled you can bake in a hot oven for 20 min. at 400 or 450. Before placing in oven, brush with milk. To fry, heat oil in a deep-fryer to 365 degrees F. Place one or two pies into the fryer at a time. Cook for about 5 minutes, turning once to brown on both sides. Drain on paper towels, and serve hot. You're not going to eat empanadas every night so go ahead and fry them - the delicious bubbly crust can't be beat!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

holiday gift giving - picture books & bookplates

I'm starting to think about holiday gifts and one of my favorite gifts to give, or get, is a picture book. My list of favorites is long, but here are a few I've purchased already:

Little Beauty
by Anthony Browne
A love story...and because any Anthony Browne is a beautiful, mysterious adventure.

by Kevin Henkes
Because I once wished my name was Jane and every child has a moment when they want to wish away some fabulously embarrassing thing that they'll be thankful for later.

Higglety Pigglety Pop! Or, There Must Be More to Life
by Maurice Sendak
A lesser known Sendaak book - A terrier living the dream takes off in search of what's missing.

A book is a wonderful gift alone, but to add that special something consider adding a book plate, or a handmade bookmark. I love book plates; you can add the recipient's name and place one at the front of the book, or give custom book plates for their library. I'm happy to say they seem to be making a comeback and you can find a large selection on line.

Here are a couple of my favorites:

Personalized Vintage Blue Bird Bookplates

Bookplate (floral) - pack of 9 by Milkshake crafts

Do you have any favorites you'd like to add? Place them in the comments below!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

new forestscapes

Here are a couple of the new landscapes. I'm enjoying the search for fall color that avoids some of the over used "autumn pallets" that end up looking like the artificial foliage aisle at the craft store.

I enjoy the horizontal lines that fir and pine trees add. This interplay of lines has been keeping my landscapes in the woods lately. When you're still in the woods, you become aware of the mesh around you - the property of self similarity bringing together the elements of the forest. I enjoy seeing this in the work without loosing the immediacy of a painterly approach.

I will be transitioning into some larger pieces next.

Older work from the same series:

view more work at

Saturday, November 6, 2010

accepting holiday commissions

I'm enjoying the new work space and will be able to share some of the new series (in both paper mâché and paint) next week. I've recently moved and won't be attending some of my favorite holiday art shows. I'll use the blog to list my work available for sale this season. More work can be viewed at -

The deadline for holiday portrait commissions is November 13th. Prices start at $375 for a 12x12 oil on panel with a deposit of $100.

The Paper People listed below are available for sale:

Mother and Child with Halo

Couple Standing

One Morning on the Bed

Contact me with any questions.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

the renegade pony and the little prince

I woke to a cold, grey morning - chewed granola and watched clouds roll themselves over the mountain and linger, dropping a steady rain over the forest and fields. As I settled into some work, I received a call, our little pony, who is staying at farm over the mountain while we prepare the barn for her, had escaped and was running around evading all efforts to capture her. She refused apples and sugar. She disappeared into the woods and returned, defiantly tossing her head and kicking up her heals.

I left my work on the table, dragged my son (home from school with a stomach bug) into the car and took off to capture our renegade mare.

When I pulled up I saw her across the field. I was prepared to chase her around in the rain cursing, but she waited as I walked across the field and took hold of her halter. She licked the palm of my outstretched hand, steamy breath lingering above the tall grass.

"You had me drive over here with my sick child in the rain you absolutely naughty little brat!" She just looked at me and her eyes reminded me of a story:

"Good morning," said the fox.

"Good morning," the little prince responded politely, although when he turned around he saw nothing.

"I am right here," the voice said, "under the apple tree."

"Who are you?" asked the little prince, and added, "You are very pretty to look at."

"I am a fox," said the fox.

"Come and play with me," proposed the little prince. "I am so unhappy."

"I cannot play with you," the fox said. "I am not tamed."

"Ah! Please excuse me," said the little prince.

But, after some thought, he added:

"What does that mean-- 'tame'?"

"You do not live here," said the fox. "What is it that you are looking for?"

"I am looking for men," said the little prince. "What does that mean-- 'tame'?"

"Men," said the fox. "They have guns, and they hunt. It is very disturbing. They also raise chickens. These are their only interests. Are you looking for chickens?"

"No," said the little prince. "I am looking for friends. What does that mean-- 'tame'?"

"It is an act too often neglected," said the fox. It means to establish ties."

"'To establish ties'?"

"Just that," said the fox. "To me, you are still nothing more than a little boy who is just like a hundred thousand other little boys. And I have no need of you. And you, on your part, have no need of me. To you, I am nothing more than a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world..."

"I am beginning to understand," said the little prince. "There is a flower... I think that she has tamed me..."

"It is possible," said the fox. "On the Earth one sees all sorts of things."

"Oh, but this is not on the Earth!" said the little prince.

The fox seemed perplexed, and very curious.

"On another planet?"


"Are there hunters on this planet?"


"Ah, that is interesting! Are there chickens?"


"Nothing is perfect," sighed the fox.

But he came back to his idea.

"My life is very monotonous," the fox said. "I hunt chickens; men hunt me. All the chickens are just alike, and all the men are just alike. And, in consequence, I am a little bored. But if you tame me, it will be as if the sun came to shine on my life. I shall know the sound of a step that will be different from all the others. Other steps send me hurrying back underneath the ground. Yours will call me, like music, out of my burrow. And then look: you see the grain-fields down yonder? I do not eat bread. Wheat is of no use to me. The wheat fields have nothing to say to me. And that is sad. But you have hair that is the colour of gold. Think how wonderful that will be when you have tamed me! The grain, which is also golden, will bring me back the thought of you. And I shall love to listen to the wind in the wheat..."

The fox gazed at the little prince, for a long time.

"Please-- tame me!" he said.

"I want to, very much," the little prince replied. "But I have not much time. I have friends to discover, and a great many things to understand."

"One only understands the things that one tames," said the fox. "Men have no more time to understand anything. They buy things all ready made at the shops. But there is no shop anywhere where one can buy friendship, and so men have no friends any more. If you want a friend, tame me..."

"What must I do, to tame you?" asked the little prince.

"You must be very patient," replied the fox. "First you will sit down at a little distance from me-- like that-- in the grass. I shall look at you out of the corner of my eye, and you will say nothing. Words are the source of misunderstandings. But you will sit a little closer to me, every day..."

~ Antoine de Saint Exupéry
And so, on this cold, rainy day I realize that my cycle of water carrying,feeding and brushing has tamed this little horse. She had been left alone for so long before we bought her and I wondered if she would respond, whether she felt a need for connection, but now I understand - she was just following taming protocol.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

La Liberté éclairant le monde

I'm taking a break from late night studio time. Primer is drying and I guess it's inevitable that after being bombarded with politics all day my post won't escape the topic.

I've been writing about freedom a lot this past year - defining it for myself so that I could move toward it with purpose. It became evident that it was far too easy to become entangled in a mess that amounted to nothing more than keeping our heads above water. I had to consider my choices carefully and ask some hard questions.

Interestingly enough, at the same time that the word was echoing in my head, it was also being echoed by the growing, Tea Party movement. They were gaining strength by touting a message of freedom, liberty and choice with a formula the Republican party has mastered - vagueness. Listen to three people who identify with the group and you'll get three different answers as to what it means to them - brilliant! The Tea Party has mixed up an apparently intoxicating cocktail of outrage, rebellion and patriotism shaken frequently with delightful snarking and silly sign making. All this shaking keeps you from examining what life might be like if the aspects of the Tea Party that are actually backed with some $power$ were to come to fruition.

Who wants to be tread on? Not me. Who wants to be free? We all do. How do they not see that they're serving up such tragic irony? The list of how their collective vote undermines their shaky platform is ridiculously long. Is this the movement for people who have been against movements? Are they intoxicated by the new experience? Or, have some people found ways to veil some ugly beliefs and in exchange for support of their prejudice they'll facilitate a halt on progress.

So here it is, the moment in the abusive relationship where they start to believe it will be different this time. I guess we didn't hit rock bottom. Nationalism and scapegoating weren't set aside so that the hard questions could be asked - What is liberty? I've tried to look at from different angles, but no matter how I slant it, I don't believe you'll get there without freedom from fear, health, education and the dignity of a living wage.

I hope that before this wave carries in its next ship of fools, we take the time to really ask what we want from life.

Friday, October 29, 2010

art trading cards

Art trading cards - fun!

I was recently invited to trade cards with a group of other artist. We all made 2.5 x 3.5 inch pieces (no specific theme or medium for this round) and then we would send them out to each participant - receiving a small collection through the mail in return.

I wasn't sure what type of series I wanted to do -- maybe miniature landscapes? maybe portraits of the paper people?? Trading cards made me think of teams, so I settled on "Team Menagerie" the family animals drawn in copy pencil and white paint.

Want to swap? Contact me.

To see other work look here.

for the wild things

As I work on preparing the outbuildings for winter, the kids have taken on a project of their own. They will be in charge of turning the upstairs of a small carriage house behind the house into a club house. They've filled a note book with plans and yesterday we started the patching and painting.

This will be a place for the children to exercise freedom and responsibility...a place the kids will rule. The only requirement is that they (and their club members) discuss and come to an agreement about the rules they will live by. I've already heard some spirited round table discussions over chocolate chip cookies.

Although my kids played in the ally and small garden behind our row house in the city before we made our move, I really had to overcome my concerns to give them the space they needed (and I admit I was peeking out the kitchen window the whole time) I think any mother could imagine what my concerns might be. In contrast, I remember being told as a child to go play outside - I'd run around exploring the barns, fields and streams, with or without a neighborhood kid, until I was called for dinner. I know that time was important and I've tried to find a balance between caution and "executive function" no matter where we find ourselves.

It's interesting to watch the diplomatic skill and work ethic that emerges when they really believe they've been left to their own devises.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

thoughts on education reform (a response post)

If you've been reading, Mistaken For a Rebel you may have picked up on some of my thoughts regarding education and the challenge of finding the balance between what we believe, what we can afford and what we can change.

This morning I read a post at
Boundless Voice that echoed many of my sentiments. I realized that aside from wanting to thank her for sharing her thoughts, I wanted to give a reply that would best be shared here.

One of my favorite quotes is by Charles Bukowski, "An intellectual says a simple thing in a hard way. An artist says a hard thing in a simple way." I'm going to take the artist's approach here because it seems that sometimes the most complex issues are best tackled by breaking them down to very simplest terms and then adding one truth at a time. I am no expert on the subject, but I am an advocate for my children's education and I am concerned with the effect schooling has on our communities.

I am in agreement with the post I just read - what we need is a revolution. It has been noted by many that we are in a creativity crisis, our minds are not rising up to meet the challenges of our times. In an article in
Newsweek (it's a good one) Nurture Shock authors, Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman put it this way,

"The necessity of human ingenuity is undisputed. A recent IBM poll of 1,500 CEOs identified creativity as the No. 1 'leadership competency' of the future. Yet it's not just about sustaining our nation's economic growth. All around us are matters of national and international importance that are crying out for creative solutions, from saving the Gulf of Mexico to bringing peace to Afghanistan to delivering health care. Such solutions emerge from a healthy marketplace of ideas, sustained by a populace constantly contributing original ideas and receptive to the ideas of others."

We are finding ourselves at a dead end creatively and at the same time young people's respect for each other as human beings seems to be deteriorating. Time and energy are wasted on arguments about religion's place in school while the idea that students explore ethics goes ignored. Something is not working and better test scores aren't going to solve the problem.

For me the goal is that my children grow up to be healthy, loving, compassionate and fearless - exactly what they do is not much of a concern. I hope that they have the freedom financial prosperity can bring, but never at the expense of a balanced and peaceful life. My hope is that their school helps us develop their love of learning and provide the tools of discovery, not define what success must be - I've seen far too many adults discover they had it wrong to believe any of them can label who the winners are.

I'm going to focus on the public school system because it's where most of the country is and where we are now. I've experienced struggling urban schools, which led me to explore a variety of private options, charters, home schooling and finally throwing in the towel and moving to one of the country's best school districts...all the time struggling with my politics, ethics, and budget. I must say I feel fortunate that my children are enjoying a school that is running (as far as the system is concerned) as it should, it's excellent resources attract some of the best teachers and the facilities provide a healthy stimulating environment. The problem is, with all that has been accomplished here, it is still part of a system that is broken and the there's a frighteningly steep drop-off from these schools at the top and the next in line.

Standardized testing

Even among the three children in our family I see extremely different strengths, talents, weaknesses, and learning styles. Please stop using the word "standardized" I am aware that the standardized test is supposed to provide accountability and that the education system has become increasingly tied to standardized testing to make decisions about public funding, but the sad truth is, the tests usually just provide the paper work for the decisions that were going to be made anyway. In the process of preparing for these tests schools institute a "teaching to the test" approach to learning, narrowing the curriculum and embracing a multiple choice format.

Do these test help the individual student achieve their goals? How could they! Their purpose is to point out vague deficits, not uncover talent and intelligence. The results of these tests can lead to children being put in remedial programs and being held back. Holding a child back a grade is an easy way to have that individual child's test results appear relatively higher contributing to higher percentages for the school (just one of the ways schools game the system) but that child will be permanently, academically and emotionally injured. What about the child who is advanced in some area and has difficulties in others? The atmosphere these tests create does not support the flexibility needed to address the individual. How often is brilliance ignored? How often is the self esteem of a child diminished as they embark on the path of learning?

Without delving into the details of testing any further, I will simply say that we need to do the work of evaluating our schools, staff and students with compassionate, open eyes. The test will not make up for our short comings. This is McEducation, and if we want our system to advance we need to look at examples in other countries where the multiple choice standardized test is not considered an effective tool - these countries look at the overall performance and behaviour of the student and include essay questions that test the next level of thought. And please don't think that if your child's specific make up allows them to be proficient at these tests that their potential is not being effected - they are missing out on a more dynamic education by learning in an environment that structures itself around them.

Charter Schools

The new movie, Waiting for Superman has received a lot of press, I've watched the trailer and listened to the review on NPR, I haven't seen the film yet, but here's what sticks out to me - the emphasis on charter schools, including the dramatic final scene where the children wait to hear if their number is called. Charter schools receive public money, but are not subject to all of the rules, regulations, and statutes that apply to other public schools. Charter schools are often the only alternative for people who are dissatisfied with their public school. They are part of the public education system and are not allowed to charge tuition, but that doesn't mean everyone has access to them, they fill up fast (usually with the returning students) and then families that want to get in go on a list to be included in a lottery. That's how it's supposed to work, but in practice, hidden factors often get in the way of any true choice and there's no way around the fact that they take money from the neighborhood schools that in most cases are desperately in need of the funds.

The BC Teachers' Federation put it this way, "Charter schools don't encourage system reform and improved quality. The theory put forward by many charter school advocates is that the competition of charter schools will lead to reform and improvement to the mainstream of the public schools. In the U.S. and Alberta, most of the charter proposals have been for 'niche schools' that serve a particular special population. Charter schools end up serving special interests, rather than creating programs that develop alternatives that would be offered to most students. They divert money and attention from improving all schools to enhancing a few."

There's another movie that I have watched and highly recommend that touches on charter schools, Spike Lee's, If God is Willing And Da Creek Don't Rise If you believe charters are a brilliant option, watch this film to gain a new perspective. Right now 10% of the newly formed charters schools are run by what Wall Street calls,"Educational Maintenance Organizations" That kinda sends chills down my spine.

That being said, I know many families that are having great experiences at charter schools and I know that their ability to find schooling for their children allowed them to contribute to transitioning urban communities. I have even filled out the applications hoping I would have an option if all else failed - if they actually called my number I would have had to wrestle with the final ethical debate. My point here is not about what a family feels they need to do in the best interest of their children with the resources at hand, but to discuss some of the reasons our public education system is failing so many.

Housing Policy Is School Policy

Economic integration. Well, now at the end of my ramblings we're getting down to the nitty gritty. If you have the time, please read this Century Foundation's Report regarding Montgomery County Maryland's achievements within the public school system. Providing truly diverse learning environments by working on the problem of affordable housing has paid off. Aside from documented academic success, there are many other things that start to happen when a family doesn't have to struggle to keep a roof over their head - they can breath - they can take the time to observe their children and ask questions that nobody dares to ask when the goal is survival.

If housing policy is school policy, than the issues of minimum wage, distribution of wealth and health care certainly are as well. There's a whole web of factors effecting whether families can have an effect on the education system, but simply put, they need the dignity to claim their role as advocates. It's not going to happen when you're working like a slave. When your head rises above the water - that's when the evolution of the spirit takes place. This is why poverty is such a crime; it robs us of reflection and we fear to ask what could be.

"Freedom is nothing else but a chance to be better."
- Albert Camus

Saturday, October 23, 2010

paper people

This piece was finished yesterday, but I missed the sun for photographing. It felt good to be reunited with the paper people; there are quite a few waiting to be made. I've written before about how I find them akin to the Mayan worry dolls; the Mayans believed that there are worry people. At bedtime you would whisper your worries to these very little dolls, and then, during the night the worry dolls would carry your worries away.

These paper people do their job through expressing the human experience, they display the simple pleasures that go unheralded and they are honest about the hardships that linger on the margins...the ones that are harder to articulate because they are so co-mingled with our love and hopes that we hesitate to name them.

I hope to get more time tonight to start a flock of birds, until then I have some real ones that need my attention in the back yard.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

getting warmed up (it's been a while)

Well, it seems I'm finally returning to my regular work habits. Not so homesick now, just other-home-fond, and I'm finally getting to enjoy my new surroundings instead of fussing with setting up house, and nail biting observation of my children's transition. They are doing just fine and the level of annoyance with my hovering seems to be in direct proportion to birth order. So far we've been working on the farmette, enjoying the countryside and exploring one of my favorite cities. I like being in this place that escapes suburbia, but lets me be in the city easily when I want. I'm still getting used to seeing my kids running off through the field or hanging out with the pony, chickens and dogs for hours. There's so much for them to learn from this quiet observation and wordless communication.

I've been able to carve out a few days in the studio; I'm warming up with some small oil paintings inspired by my hikes on the mountain and I'm near completion on the first of the new paper people sculptures. Here are some images of the work in progress; I should be finished with this piece by tomorrow.

It feels good to be back in the swing of things. Check in to see how the balancing act continues...urban homesteading turns homesteading, new animals arrive, the family explores and I'm reunited with the studio!

Sunday, September 19, 2010


Well -






So much going on! Moments of glee, moments of dusty sweaty frustration and intermittent homesickness. I'm not sure how to feel about the melancholia; big A hasn't moved down yet, so I'm sure that's part of it, but I'm also missing my house and friends. This time of year always lets those feelings creep in. Maybe I'm looking for a reason to fit the sensation when there really isn't one. There's something about letting the sunlight fade away little by little and the air chill that dims my mood. If I was a pumpkin lovin' fuzzy sweater gal It would be easier, but alas, I'm a seasonally maladjusted sunshine and fresh cut grass lass.

Other than my melodrama, things are going quite nicely. I love the new schools and I'm very excited about decorating the new house. It's a craftsman bungalow with many of the original features from the Sears catalog - love bungalows. I already feel better now that I've found a moment to write, and it will be even better when my studio is set up.

Well, I'll just go back to staying busy as we settle in. I will aim to enjoy the strong feelings of connectedness to friends and place this situation has aroused and let the clinging flow past. I will realize the core of these emotions are beautiful and remind myself that the word we often understand as having been translated to "detachment" is more correctly translated to "the determination to be free"

Friday, September 3, 2010

Confucius say...

Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated

Remember I was talking about serendipity? Well, I suppose serendipity has a funny way of showing up, it can't always be served up on a silver platter, we'd either be suspicious, or miss it all together. As we stood at the threshold of renewing a commitment, an opportunity blew in - at first I almost let it flutter past with the dust being stirred up by the first autumn breezes, but then I recognized it for what it was and grabbed it in the nick of time.

So, what was it? If you've been reading the blog you might have a guess - if you haven't you'll need to know that my husband and I have been wanting a change for our family for a while. We've made efforts to bring the elements we desire into our lives, but with one foot still in, the real change eludes us. Once we tied ourselves down and were missing out on the delightful perks of my husband's career in restaurants - flying to new cities, being put up in lovely hotels and eating amazing food, we had nothing to balance out the downside - long hours (hello my name is Rosemary and I'm a restaurant widow) and in the past couple years, the chilling effects of an unstable economy. Our commitment to stay in one place put us in the position of having the financial tides break waves on our back instead of riding ahead of them as we had in the past.

Little A on the day the movers came to the Chicago flat.

My kids loved the adventure of the traveling days, they felt stable through any transition because we made the choice that I would be home with them. With our home set up within 24 hours of arriving, the pets in tow and home cooked meals it always felt like home - a vacation and home all wrapped into one. I'm not sure if we chose where we live now as much as it happened to be where we were when we decided we should stop. Many people and places made me love it here, but was it the right fit? For some reason I kept asking. My husband worked more so that we could supplement our children's lives with the things we felt they were missing because of our location, but honestly the biggest thing they were missing was their Dad. The effort to make the situation better fed the need to be tied to the situation -- you know, the old vicious cycle - when you don't have a safety net you can't find a way out.

A few months ago a man who lives in one of the neighboring homes around Washington Square started coming into Big A's restaurant one night a week; he would eat dinner and watched the game. They had snippets of casual conversation and he would scratch notes on a little pad of paper as they talked. After a week or so he asked Big A if he could have any situation for his family, what would it be? He shared that other than knowing he could do his job well, the only thing that he felt a connection to was the food its self - he wanted to be closer to the source - that was the part of it that he loved. He told him about our dream to live in the country again and for our family to have more time together. It turns out the man has a background in financial planning and has married it with a Ph.D. in psychology to become a professional career counselor; right now he gets paid quite nicely to guide individuals through graduate school. During their last conversation he said, "Be careful of becoming a slave to a new situation that only partially solves the problem." and "Don't add additional steps to the path that don't need to be there - what makes you think that if you are both committed to your dream that it can't be your next choice?"

Our backyard the last time we made our home in the country

Well, when I heard this we both had a good laugh! I could give a few good reasons without hesitation. Funny thing is, a couple weeks later we were offered 10 acres in the country (goats and pony welcome!) a job in a new career within commuting distance for Big A and a building to convert into a studio for me. Here's the deal - no daisy petal path, just a swift decision, commitment to change, and a whole lot of getyourassingear.

I'll be off line during a short transition, but stay tuned to follow our migration to the mountain. It will be The Simple Life, The Swiss Family Robinson, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and I love Lucy (after they moved to Connecticut)all rolled into one.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

the pass around journal - dreams

Here's the next peek into the pass around journal. The journal is a children's project where one page is completed and a prompt is left for the next participant to work with. It has been making its way around the city and I'm trying to catch up.

I was waiting for this one - illustrate the dream you had last night. What a fun prompt!

Maybe the adult version that was suggested could be a traveling dream journal - illustrated snippets of a collective unconscious???

"It is on the whole probably that we continually dream, but that consciousness makes such a noise that we do not hear it."
- Carl Gustav Jung


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