Thursday, December 29, 2011

Saphires and Diamonds

Ha ha, did that title capture your attention?  Well, I hope so.  It sure has mine.  These days have been as precious as jewels.  The colors!  So beautiful.  We've been getting treated to some beautiful sunrises and sunsets:

So much inspiration. 

I've been wanting to get some new yarn to take the Wavy Feathers Cap out for a spin again, success!

Left Cascade Kid Seta Shade 31, Right Karabella Gossamer Color 6302

 AND I've been wanting to stitch a new dish towel using Emily's festive little houses:

So I'm a happy camper.  After bopping around the house at night without a gripping book or something tempting to watch, I now have pleny of projects to hold me through the New Year.

What's got your attention these days?

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Greatest Gift

Bump Feeling Festive

Nan and Her Prayer Shawl
Need I say more?  This year we were blessed by the arrival of my parents for our holiday.  We enjoyed a lot of laughs, shopping, meals in and out, and even family games (Rachel trumped us all!).  I'm grateful for all the wonderful gifts we shared (and I do like presents!), but perhaps the greatest gift of all was the ability to enjoy each moment, and not get sucked away by some old pattern, habit, reaction that would take away from the present moment, for that is the greatest gift.  Time with grandparents is a commodity, and I thank all my sisters for sharing them with us this year. 

We really did embrace this past week of Advent, and here is the blessing for any of you who were wondering:

The fourth light of Advent, it is the light of Man
the light of joy, the light of thought
to grow and understand

I hope you all enjoy the little things this season and the year to come.  You never know.  One day you may discover that those little things are the big things.

Blessings, Melissa

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Making Waves

Just in time for the holidays!  Here's a quick peek at the wavy feathers cap I completed for a friend:

The yarn was oh so lovely to work with.  Yes, it was a bit fiddly given it was finger weight yarn, and BLACK, which made for close work.  I hadn't ever worked with Yak yarn before, and given the price, may never again.  It was so light but strong.  I love the dissonance of that.  It worked up well into a lightweight, yet warm cap (as promised by the pattern).  Click here if you want to make one as well!

Giving thanks for those animals and the yarn they provide, and thinking it's time to do some yarn shopping.  I feel a need.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Third Light of Advent

Just in case you were curious how our Advent season is progressing, yesterday we lit our third candle.  This week is the week of Animals.

The third light of Advent it is the light of Beasts.
The light of Hope that we may see
in the greatest and the least.

A Bouquet of Chickens
No thing is too small or obscure to be revered.  I hope you take time this week to feel gratitude for our animal brothers and sisters and all they share with us: food, shoes, bedding, clothing, COMPANIONSHIP, insight, humor, and much wonder.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The miracle is not to walk on water but on the earth. -Thich Nhat Hanh

Another outstanding opportunity to embrace the incredible beauty that surrounds me.  Was it scheduled?  Was it on my to-do list?  Or was it a matter of seizing the moment?  I bet you can guess which one.

Rachel and I share many early morning drives to get her to the school bus.  I think by now she is used to me "ooh-ing" and "ah-ing" at the sunrise and its relfection on the hills that surround us.  At this point she is a willing accomplice in my wanting to capture the moment.  She oh so cleverly grabbed the camera and got these shots:

And I wonder, did anyone else see what I saw?  Amidst the early morning commute where they able to shut off the hurry and relish the present moment?

I thought about cropping out the cars and highway, but somehow I like this image.  Amidst the speed is a quiet beauty that beckons.

And I listened, and was granted an incredible 15 minutes of eternity. 

And of course, I had company:

Being the second week of Advent, the week of the light of plants, it was more than appropriate to enjoy nature decked out in her crystal finery:

So many blessings to be found in the quiet whispering of the season.  Can you hear it?

Saturday, December 3, 2011

There's No Business

Like snow business!  This week the Arctic Blast moved in and we've been getting intermittent snow for several days.  Although the temptation was great to stay tucked inside, sometimes a body just has to get out!

Surprisingly, the pups and I arrived at our usual trail to find we had it all to ourselves, First Tracks!  They were more than delighted to rip about in the fresh snow:

And snuffle, and burry their heads for hidden treasure:

I just love watching Lucy's ears flop about when she runs:

Our only company was the water fowl:

I guess ducks don't read:


Our favorite bramble patch:

A great place to play hide and seek:


And that's all the news from around here.  Living simply, and simply living. 

Hope you all are cozy!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Advent, Advent A Candle Burns

I love this time of year.  Yes there is the excitement of the season: seasonal crafting, decorating, shopping, wrapping, baking, and gathering.  But, for me, I love any excuse to comtemplate.  Advent is a great time to experience the season as a time of waiting and preparation.  A time to move through the darkness toward the light of Christmas Day.  A time well spent reflecting on what it is that we are willing to let be born in our lives.  What is the highest and best that is waiting to come forth as a gift to ourselves and the world?

One way I like to share this is by creating an Advent garden.  It starts simply enough, candles, rocks, crystals, stones.  Every week adding one more of the four kingdoms of nature as we light one more candle.  As we move through our Advent season, we experience the increase in light and deepen our understanding of our place in the universe, of all that sustains us, and to that to which we aspire.

This first week as we light our first candle we celebrate the Mineral Kingdom, that realm of nature that gives us form - a foundation in which to experience our everchanging lives.

The first light of Advent
It is the light of Stones.
The light we find in Crystals,
Seashells, Rocks and Bones.

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Artist's Way

This past week I had the good fortune to listen to a wonderful presenter, Mary Tafoya, at the Handweavers Guild of Boulder.  She is quite an accomplished beader and a humble and humorous speaker.  Her pieces focus on women, spirituality, and myths.  Right up my alley!  I especially enjoyed her explanation of her creation of La Llorona and how she needed to focus on her experience of her, not what others had written about this mythical woman.

Three other important take aways/reminders:

Discipline: the only way to work on a piece, whether large and complicated or not, is by daily "practice."  For her, she figured between working full time and raising a family this equated to "one arm's length of thread" a day.  As long as she threaded her needle before going to bed, and had her materials out where she would see them throughout the day, she would be able to work on her piece, little by little.

This is just what I've been telling my knitting students.  Set aside a time, everyday, to pick up your knitting.  Even if it's while you're waiting on your son/daughter's lesson, or during an afternoon cup of tea, just do it, and do it with intention.  Set the intention to pick up your work daily, and soon you will start to manifest your vision.

It's not so different than what my Yoga teachers say.  Even if all you can manage is one Sun Salutation or one Breathe of Fire a day, make it count.  Approach it with full conviction.  But do it DAILY.

Inspiration:  Not surprisingly, she shared that most of her pieces started as a dream, a vision she received in the middle of the night.  Lovely.  It makes me think about all the times I'm woken in the middle of the night, and tried, in vain, to fall back to sleep.  I know its been recommended that this is the best time to meditate, but I must admit, I struggle with leaving my cozy bed to go sit somewhere in a dark, cold house.  Then a student had the brilliant suggestion of "why go anywhere?"  She grabs a pillow to sit on, right in bed!  So I've tried this and although it didn't take the first few times, now it works!  A lot of times I receive answers or insights to things I never even knew were living in me.

As You Work on Your Piece, Let it Work on You:  I LOVE this.  This is what I'm talking about when talking about Knitting As A Spiritual Practice.  Infuse your piece with your prayers, good thoughts, dreams, wishes.  The energy builds on itself.  Meditate on what your piece means to you.  She had one particular piece, shepherdess angel, that she created in support of the teenage girls she was working with at the time.  She didn't create a piece to give to each and every one of these girls.  She worked on this one piece and while she did, she held each one of them in her heart and mind.

These were great reminders for how I want to approach my life and it's work.  Whether setting a Thanksgiving table, baking a pie, or, heck, even doing the family's laundry, I hope to approach each chore with the highest intention.

Blessings on your day!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Exciting News!

Last week we had an impromptu visit from a reporter from the Longmont Daily Times Call.  Magdalena wrote a nice piece on our Knitting As a Spiritual Practice class that you can read here.  The ladies were really sweet.  During her visit, everyone sat a little straighter and were just that much more animated.  Kind of reminded me of when someone new comes around the hens.  There's a little more chatter and fluffing of feathers.

As promised I'm posting a picture of Nicole's finished prayer shawl.  Her gesture speaks volumes.  She is a very lively gal from Chile, and an accomplished artist.  Click here to visit her website and be sure to read her story.

We are wrapping up our class, but I'm not one to let go of this circle just yet.  We will continue to meet to knit, AND discuss Women Who Run With Wolves.  Should be an enriching winter.

Blessings to you ALL!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Sigh . . . it's been awhile since I last posted.  Actually, life has been good, very good.  Full of it's problems and promises.  I must admit, a lot of my creative energy has been going into preparing and the holding of Knitting As A Spiritual Practice class, seeing that this is my first time creating something like this.  What a joy!

We've been meeting for 6 weeks now, and we've made some nice connections and progress with our prayer shawls.  Yesterday we had the opportunity to bless the first shawl to be completed!  I am remiss that I did not take a picture of the shawl, the creator, and the recipient, but perhaps she will allow me to do so next week and I can update this posting?

In addition to class keeping me busy, we've had two winter snow storms to manage (hence a new banner and winter theme for the blog!) .

Even though we had the inconvenience of no power for a day and a half (NOTHING compared to those brave souls in the Northeast), we kept quite snug with our fireplace.  The two afternoons were spent hauling fire wood.

Max was busy building ski jumps and such, so my garden baby stood as a good substitute and was quite the willing helper in packing down the snow for a path to the hen house.

For days the hens stayed snug in their coop, but I got a few quick pictures when they were brave enough to come out and gather around the watering hole.


Do you recognize the hen next to the rooster?  That is our baby who hatched this spring.  She is all but full grown.  Perhaps soon she will start laying???  I can't wait to find out what color her eggs will be!

The pups and I enjoyed some beautiful walks around the reservoir.

We weren't the only ones enjoying the winter beauty.

My sincere apology for the VERY LENGTHY post today.  Thank you for sticking with me.  I guess that's what happens when you don't post for over 2 weeks!

Blessings for now and I hope to be back sooner than later.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Pieces of Me

Ok - I'll admit it.  Lately I'm all about the redemption song.  Bob Marley and I go way back.  There is something uniquely uplifting about letting something go, only to have something new and unexpected pop up in its place.  The key is in the letting go

I had this experience recently when I went rummaging about in my half forgotten projects stashed here and there in baskets and totes.  I had knit a lovely Intarsia socklet, just one mind you, before abandoning it for the next big thing to catch my eye.  Silly me.  I left this project open in a basket because the colors were just so lovely to gaze upon while muttering, "One day soon I'll finish you."  The yarn was equally lovely, so lovely that an uninvited guest happened upon it.  Ordinarily we don't have to worry about such matters in the dry Colorado climate.  Or so I thought.

To my initial dismay, I thought "Dang, there goes the second socklet.  Never to be completed.  Sigh."  Then, blam, it came upon me.  Why not use all these little bits and bobs to crochet a simple motif?  I've been staring longingly at this new book of mine just waiting for the perfect excuse, erm, opportunity, to have a crack at it.

There you have it.  But what to do with one simple motif?  Cover a rock of course.  Now let me just say, this idea is not mine alone.  My inspiration for it came directly from Maggie at Resurrection Fern (another redemption moment, yes?).  And no one does it quite like her. Honestly, go check out her blog.  You won't be disappointed.  But this simple rock is mine.

Redemption Stone

Or rather, never really was.  I'm just a part of the process.  This rock had a receiver in mind all along.  You see, dear friends of ours are moving to Texas, and I so wanted them to take a piece of me, us, with them.  I collected this particular rock on one of my Reservoir walks (puppy romp).  I'm sure I was ruminating on their move and how much I hoped they would one day return to us all here in Boulder Valley.

So you see, this particular rock is infused with Chief Niwot's curse, which means they will indeed have to return to us.  That and the fact that their Realtor, my husband Brad, advised that they not sell their home, but merely rent it ;)

Friday, October 14, 2011

Such a busy week.  So busy doing, not as much time to write.  We celebrated Brad's Birthday with a home-cooked family dinner Tuesday.  In keeping with tradition, I made lasagne.  Not just any lasagne.  This year I was compelled to make it a true labor of love, including picking and skinning graden tomatoes, all but make the noodles myself.  It was so delicious, but I was tired and cranky :(

Not sure if it was all the cooking or perhaps the prepping for and holding our knitting circle that made me so tired.  Of course it can't just be any ordinary knitting class, I must infuse it with mindfulness teachings.  Hence, I found myself a bit wiped out.  Perhaps I'll hit my teaching stride and be able to maintain my energy without falter.  Perhaps not.  Guess I'll flow with it!

The fall colors have been tremendous and I so want to share it with the family, and not just as I shuttle kids to and fro.  We're planning on getting out Sunday for just this purpose.  A lovely breakfast and hike through the surrounding hills.

I hope you all have a lovely weekend full of light, love, and simple pleasures.

by the river
i am reminded of how she does what she does 
so effortlessly
you do not have to do anything
but trust
that is it
and when you can not do that anymore
trust that! ~ KC

Thursday, October 6, 2011

14,001 Things To Be Grateful For

The other day I had the good fortune to be invited to pick raspberries with Max.  He was bringing in some washing from the line (yes he does help!) when he noticed the plethora of red, ripe goodness just begging to be harvested.  We had a very nice moment, he and I, just laughing our way around the patch and marveling at our good luck.

I want you all to know that I realize just how lucky I am.  I have a happy, healthy, and whole family.  We live in a beautiful corner of this world.  I am surrounded by people that love me, and that I fully love.  Clean air, a patch of earth that we can plant, dig, and scratch around in, and room to breathe.

So many are not as fortunate.  No homes, jobs, health care.  It can be overwhelming at times.  What can a body do?  My dear friend and coworker, Pam, has some thoughts on this.  Pop on over to her blog.  You won't regret it.  Shout out to you Pam - Woot!

In the meantime, I'm lucky enough to ask myself, "What to do with the bounty?"  Traditionally I make Raspberry Pie.  It's a favorite around here.  However, the new ice cream maker is still holding sway, so raspberry ice cream it is:

3 cups berries, pureed
2 cups heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 + cup milk
1 cup sugar

Mix the sugar and milk until dissolved.  Pour into your maker with the rest of the ingredients and switch on.  25 minutes later, Heaven!

“Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.”
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