Becoming a different Mom

So fellow travelers,  in the mysterious way creative minds have of tapping into one another the CGBF* page featured a post by wHicked awesome writer Lisa Dingle.  It hit all kinds of nails on the head for me;  so many I half expected the garden shed I have long wished for might have appeared in my back yard. No such luck but the profound insights are more than a fair trade for storage space.

Lisa has been writing about her experience of grief after the recent death of her more-like-a-father-than-father-in-law. The Old Yankee Man, as she calls him, had by virtue of her wonderful stories become a fixture in our creative flow. We will miss him and feel a small portion of her family’s sorrow. Her writing has been honest, soulful and humorous, even when dealing with anger and frustration. Always there is a turn towards the light of hope and a touch of magic.

Her post today literally blew my mind wide open. It is a brilliant description of the bewildering sensation of having life go on around us after a profound loss.  Suddenly I was acutely aware I have been grieving, although not for someone who has died. For the first time I saw clearly just how big an emotional impact this year of change has had on me. For months I have had the sensation of going through the daily routines, everything as it always has been but something intangible feels different. At times the feeling has been so disorienting I was unable to do more than function at a basic level.  Go to work, get necessary groceries, make dinner, do some laundry, feed and walk the dog. I would go to bed early because sleep felt normal.  Except I would wake up at odd hours, unable to settle back into sleep because some litany of worries rattled like a hamster wheel in the cage of my brain. This is not me. Ok, I admit my daughters do claim I worry too much and yes perhaps at times this is true when in action, but I am not usually an all night worrier.  I am a t’ai chi, zentangle, breathe and find peace kind of night owl.

In a few weeks, our younger daughter will be graduating from high school and in two and a half months she will leave home for college.  She’s going a bit farther than her classmates. She’s attending Temple University in Tokyo, Japan. She’s excited and yes a little nervous; I’m excited and yes more than a little nervous. I’d be far more nervous if this was her first experience of Tokyo, but we traveled there in the spring of 2010 to visit her older sister who was studying at TUJ for a semester. She’s seen, and obviously been drawn to the vast urban energy of the largest city in the world. I also understand the long distance travel experience. I graduated from Seoul Foreign High School in Korea and traveled the opposite direction to come to Syracuse University for my BS in film and media arts.  I know the crushing loneliness of being so far from home.  She will have a guaranteed round trip ticket to come home for her first Christmas/Winter Break.  In case of emergency, I can be there in twenty four hours; I already have one full price round trip airfare reserved in a savings account.  I admit I am a little worried that she does not have any interest in learning to cook; thank heaven for ramen noodles.

Two months ago, she had a minor accident, a literal fender bender which somehow resulted in my 2007 Toyota Rav4 catching on fire. Our vehicle and everything in it was completely destroyed. My daughter was standing outside the vehicle when it started to smoke, so other than the trauma of helplessly watching Mom’s car burn, she was safe.  It was both terrifying and unreal. I am glad I did not witness it; my husband dashed to the scene to help her when she called just minutes after leaving home for work. I have never been so grateful to hug my crying child.  “It’s just stuff. Stuff can be replaced,” I assured her “What matters is you are safe, no one else was hurt and everything will be ok.”

And everything is ok, but nothing is the same.  That fire not only took my car,  it marked the moment I was forced to let go of the Mom I had been.  I had to acknowledge my daughter is “behind the wheel” of her life now. Odd as it may seem, my anxiety about my daughter going so far away decreased. Somehow I know she will be ok. Yet every day since then I have been waking up with a feeling something is missing and I do not mean my cherished vehicle (I did love driving my Rav4)  I did not understand this feeling until I read Lisa’s post about grief.

I have no desire to hold onto the past.  I’ve said before I believe my role as a Mom is to raise my daughters to be strong, independent women knowing when the time comes for them to leave home my heart will ache but it will also sing with joy as they claim their own dreams. It is this belief which perhaps clouded my awareness of what I have been grieving, blinded by the thought this is how it “should” be. Having recognized and acknowledged this loss now I am free to celebrate the Mom I will become. The Mom who can offer help when asked or a comforting shoulder to cry on. The Mom who sends care packages into the future and cheers encouraging words.  The Mom who watches with a heart full of joy as a beautiful young woman starts living her dreams, on her terms. I would not have it any other way.

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Emma and her friend headed for senior ball

Walk gently on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready.

 

 *Note: The Creative Group At Bedlam Farm is a creative community of encouragement, where creatives of many different kinds, from writers to painters to fiber artists, photographers and weavers, among others, gather to share their work, offer positive feedback, and encourage one another.

Sunday’s at the Rescue: the revolving door

So fellow travelers,  it has been an unusually long stretch for me to be away from my volunteer dog walking.

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Freckles asking me “Hey Crazy Dog Lady where have ya been?”

 

Changes in schedules as well as being down to just one vehicle for the foreseeable future has been challenging. The round trip drive adds almost an hour to the time I am there but I have always felt it is well worth the extra time and gas. When I am away,  I miss my time at the rescue, as much for the human friends I have made as for the wiggling butts and appreciative kisses from the dogs.

It worked out I could drop my daughter off at work and head across town for several hours this afternoon. I knew help would be needed.  A large transport came in on Friday (read about the transport program here) and being a holiday weekend, many volunteers have other plans. In addition, many of the staff and regulars will be walking with some of the dogs in a Memorial Day parade on Monday. Lots of potential adopters come in on transport weekends so in addition to walking dogs, volunteers are needed to show people around and help them visit with dogs they are interested in.

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Pretty Ms Julie: her stunning green eyes and sweet nature nabbed her a family less than an hour after we walked.

 

In the past weeks I have been reflecting a lot on the “revolving door” issue of rescue work.

Volunteers start out bright eyed and full of hope fueled by ambitious energy. They burn out quickly without a healthy balance of practical perspective and compassion. Without compassion for abusers and irresponsible breeders or owners, rescue workers become overwhelmed by anger and frustration.  It’s an essential lesson I learned by personal experience so I know now to step back when I feel a need to regain perspective.

There is a never ending flow of animals, a flow which will not be reduced no matter how many are re-homed by rescues like Helping Hound Dog Rescue until the causal issues of abuse, over-breeding and irresponsible ownership are addressed. I don’t have answers but I know of several organizations which are working hard to find solutions. Their efforts fuel my hope and I am grateful to support them as best I can.

In the meantime I was happy to get back to doing the rounds with the latest residents at HHDR. I walked a dozen dogs, showed several visitors around and washed a stack of food bowls. Then just before heading home I gave myself the luxury of taking out my current favorite resident, an enthusiastic German Shepard mix whose resemblance to previous dogs of ours struck me the minute me met.

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Ricky

Ricky has a habit of greeting visitors with a vertical leap that brings his nose just to the top of his six foot pen. It’s a display of energy which guarantees it will take a bit longer for him to find a new family. He is however wicked smart and quite eager to please, so I have no problem getting him to sit while I clip on a leash and open the door to his pen. It might take a few tries, but he is quick to understand “out” isn’t going to happen if he’s jumping. He is developing good leash manners and responds quickly to correction (damn those distracting squirrels).  Oh and his joy of bagging a stick knows no bounds.

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“I got one!”

After burning off some energy, he’s quite happy to sit with me and watch the coming and goings around us. I admit having him rest his head on my shoulder as I sat on the curb next to him brought back some very sweet memories of our succession of German Shepard mixes, Tomo, Shadow and Sox.  While our girl Delilah packs a big personality into her little twenty pound body, I do miss having a big dog at home. I usually fill that void with foster dogs but our travel itinerary puts fostering on hold until after summer.  So I count on the ever changing line-up of walking buddies at the rescue to fill that need for now. Of course I am always glad to see them celebrate their “gotcha” day no matter if a heart string or two “twangs” when they go.  I know there will be new buddies to love every time I walk through those doors.

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Cyber gives Floyd a back rub while hanging out on the “cuddle couch.”

Walk gently on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready.

Editorial Note:  Sunday’s at the Rescue is a series of posts about my experiences working with rescue dogs.  It is named for Sunday, a sweet young dog who came through the rescue where I volunteer, stole a piece of my heart (as so many of them do) and got herself adopted into a great home.

 

Moments in time

So fellow travelers, bit of a postscript to the Yaddo post….

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When I am out and about shooting with my dslr camera, images capture my attention for various reasons. This shot of the mansion at Yaddo gave me a feeling of seeing into the past, as if catching a glimpse of it’s amazing history and hinting at the mystery of the creative processes which have unfolded here.

Then there are journal shots,  images intended to record a place or moment.

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I was taking a wide shot of the formal gardens when this moment happened. An Anderson Family sighting at the Gardens of Yaddo, young Jay in the lead.

I am working on making these “been here” shots into more than flat postcard images.

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This clock in Stillwater,  NY is a landmark on my drives to Cambridge.

 

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My interpretation of the Stillwater clock. If only there was an angle without those phone wires.  It will take some careful editing in photo shop to finalize this one. 

 

There are lucky shots of birds and other wildlife, shots I miss more than I get.

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Gallinules….oh, you don’t see them?  Yeah, me neither. They dashed into the clump of reeds just as I clicked the shutter.

Rarely am I close enough, even with my telephoto lens to capture what my eye has seen but now and then I get lucky.

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Mr. and Mrs. Trumpeter Swan were more willing to have their photo taken that day.

 

and sometimes it helps to have a “captive” subject

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My pond’s resident bullfrog, offering me a maple blossom for Mother’s Day.

 
There are creative images, the shots I work at getting just right, pushing to apply what I am learning from photo workshops. Here are my favorites from the Yaddo expedition.

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For reference, this is how small the wild iris actually is.

 

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More favorite shots

 

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And when I am with my creative “farmie’ friends, there are always photos of each other taking photos.

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Jennifer Bowman on a chicken photo op at a Bedlam Farm Open House.

 

this is a theme not limited to my Bedlam friends

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My daughter on the Oregon coast getting a shot of the Pacific Ocean.

Which brings me to the memory shots.

I am not one to waste the present by living only in the past, but images of moments which have an emotional connection are important to me.  The photos  may not seem like much to another observer because the significance of the message embedded in them is coded in personal experience. What appears on the surface to be a photo of my younger daughter is actually linked to the moment just after this was taken when she turned and opened her arms as wide as she could while declaring “I’m so happy!  I had no idea I could feel so happy!  I love it here!”  after which she  threw her arms around me in a long sweet hug.  It’s a memory which has gotten me through many tough challenges in this year of letting go as she graduates from high school.

Moms raise their little ones to grow strong and independent, not stay behind, safe in the nest. There comes that moment when we hold our breath and pray their wings will hold them steady as they fledge for the first time.  When they go, part of our heart flies with them.

So there are images, the ones which speak to that connection which I caught on my recent weekend trips

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Unless you too know and love the films of Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki these might not mean much. My daughters and I spent many hours watching his films.  Even decades later I can point out something which reminds me of a scene in a film and both girls immediately understand the reference. To find and capture these images is a gift; they remind me distance means nothing to the timeless love we hold in our hearts.

Walk gently on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plane and scarecrow shots

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So fellow travelers, I am looking through my files from this weekend’s adventure.

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Last month during our  lunch at the RoundHouse  the idea of a day trip to Yaddo Gardens in Saratoga Springs came up.  The main focus was for photography with tentative plans for a meal afterwards. I knew it would be well worth the drive for me as I learn a great deal when exploring with my creative friends.

Yaddo is a hidden gem, located right next to the well known Saratoga Race Track.  Founded in 1900, the 400 acre artist retreat center has a distinguished history; many famous works of art and award winning novels have been created there by artists from all over the world. The grounds of the garden under went major restorations in the early 1990’s and are now open t0 the public.  It features a wide variety of vistas from shady woodlands to wide sweeping lawns with fountains and classic statuary.

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Beth commented  it will be interesting to see the different perspectives in the images each of us would be posting afterwards. Indeed, soon after the group convened and newly met friends greeted one another we began to wander around following our own muses.

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Acceptance of diversity is one of the CGBF’s greatest attributes.  I am grateful to have my creative outlook enriched by the variety of personalities and styles which mingle so well when we gather. I gain so much, sometimes from direct interactions like a conversation about attributes of different camera lenses, sometimes from quietly observing like watching when Tom chose to use a tripod to get a shot.  Drawn to our own inspirations, we would drift apart and reconvene in certain spots,  like turtle rock

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 or converge on a moment, like the appearance of the pileated woodpecker we had been hearing since we arrived

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I am always on a quest to learn more about my camera.  Yaddo was an excellent setting for experimenting. Here, for example, is a series of water shots I took at the fountain to play around with shutter speeds.

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I felt joy simply in being with a group of friends sharing creative expression each in our own way, with no sense of competition or set agenda. It was a blissful way to spend an afternoon.

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Walk gently on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready.

 

Always near

So fellow travelers, we bid farewell to an Old Yankee Man this week.

I say “we” because fellow farmie Lisa Dingle has shared him so graciously with us in her wonderful blog. I have been thinking of her and her family a great deal these days as they weather his passing together.   This morning as  the morning sun peered through dissipating rain clouds, a single random tulip caught my eye.  I grabbed my camera and took several photos.

The haiku followed when I noticed the heart in one of the shots.

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Bright solo blossom

finding joy in randomness

Love is always near.

 

Walk gently upon the path my friends and may adventure find you ready

On the Road to friends and high places: The Grand Finale Lyrics and Lunch

So fellow travelers, two more high points to reach on this weekend adventure.

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My friends and I were headed to Marigold Pizza for a delicious lunch, but before we left the beautiful grounds of Park-MacCullough House,  I snapped a few shots of random things which caught my eye.

 

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Something about this handmade gate spoke to my imagination.  It felt like a symbol for what I was seeking.  I am accustomed to reaching crossroads on my journey, I know change is the only certainty we live with. This time the way to proceed remained unclear for an unusually long time, a sensation I am not used to. I felt I had been at a standstill, waiting for guidance so long maybe I had missed something? I was becoming anxious, unable to stay grounded or find peace especially at night. I would wake with random thoughts buzzing in my head even though I know over thinking solves nothing. I believe if I keep an open heart and mind the Way will become clear in good time.

Keeping an open heart means being vulnerable, a state more challenging to maintain in this past year than any I can remember. Reconnecting with creative expression kept the gate to my heart and soul open. One of the gifts of being in the Bedlam Creative Group is the safe haven of it’s community.  We nurture and challenge one another in ways which support growth and exploration. It is a safe “place”  to be myself,  even as my sense of self is shifting. I use place in quotes because the majority of time our group connects online, rather than at an actual location.

Strange though it may be, the experiences I have in the CGBF’s virtual space have given me more hope and encouragement than most of my day to day interactions. Miraculously these virtual relationships become solid friendships when members of the creative group finally do get to meet. Spending physical time with these true friends affirms healing, hope, joy and love are real, strengthening my resolve to face the rumbling storms of  change.

Or maybe that was a rumble of a hungry belly?  Must be time for lunch! I  was more than ready to lighten up and enjoy a meal.

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Marigold Pizza is a neat little spot, serving delicious artisan pizzas made with all local ingredients, right down to the flour they use to make the pizza dough. Yes, you can taste the difference. Based on my tasty meal, all I can say is I now have a second wonderful location I would consider driving 3.5 hours to eat lunch!

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Bodies and souls nourished by great food and good conversation, Kate and I were soon on the road to the Immaculate Conception Parish on main street in Hoosick Falls.

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I had to smile when I saw the beautiful stained glass windows inside, a perfect a reminder of the morning’s meditations and spiritual insights.  There was also an art show of pieces done by some of the chorus members, from mixed media to photography. Clearly the groups talents extend far beyond singing. The program was a wonderful variety of classical and contemporary pieces.  The director gave a brief description of each piece and its significance within the chorus performance history.  Each piece from Mozart or Rachmaninoff to Copeland, Ives or Whittaker filled the beautiful church with rich emotions and tones. Music is a miracle of human spirit transcending age, gender, race, creed and culture, able to speak to any mind in it’s universal language.

As the final harmonies of the closing number, a jaunty spirited rendition of Bobby Troup’s hit Route 66, faded into applause, I gratefully gathered the momentum  to fuel my drive home.  Two hearty hugs, a promise to see each other soon and I was on my way.  Spirits lifted, my heart lighter I knew clarity was beginning to take hold. I  knew because images began to speak; one which I simply had to pullover and jot down on a paper napkin (note to self, leave journal handy rather than packed away next trip.) I continued down the road, ready to face the music of the high roads and deep valleys ahead.

Walk gently on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the Road to friends and high places: Part Five Meeting Tess

So fellow travelers,  once upon a time, along a hilltop in Vermont a much anticipated wish was about to be fulfilled.

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Two of our creative group friends, Kate Rantilla and Candy Cuthbert sing in choral groups and attend each other’s concerts throughout the year.  Kate sings with the Keene Choral in New Hampshire and Candy is a member of the Battenkill Chorus. On this road trip, Kate and I were on our way to enjoy the Battenkill Chorus 20th anniversary concert in Hoosick Falls.

Since the concert was scheduled for late afternoon, we would have plenty of time to meet Candy for a walk through the grounds of the historic Park-McCullough House in North Bennington.

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Naturally I was drawn to the playhouse, built as mini replica of the Park-MacCullough House.

 

Which meant I would finally fulfill a long awaited wish to meet beautiful Tess*.

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Ah Tess, sweet Tess. Tess of the happy “I just met you and I LOOOOVE you” butt wiggle.

Tess of the expressive ears….

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Tess of the dash up the road, hurry up Humans there is soooo much to do here…..

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Tess of the joyous romp in the fields……

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Tess of seek and find the ball…..

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Tess of lets explore the woods….

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Tess of the ever ready to play with a friend …..

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Tess, who makes the world a more joyful place just by being Tess.

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And as if the thrill of meeting and romping with Tess were not enough I still had Marigold Pizza and a sure to be spectacular concert on the afternoon’s remaining itinerary.

To be continued….

Walk gently on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready

*Note: Tess is Candy Cuthbert’s  beautiful two and a half  year old tri-color belton Llewellin English Setter.

 

 

 

On the Road to friends and high places: Part Four Redemption

So fellow travelers, it’s time for church.

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This is Rupert United Methodist Church located at the corner of routes 315 and 153 in the town of Rupert Vermont.

I have had the great blessing of attending Sunday Services here with my friend Kate during several Bedlam Farm Open House weekends. When we attend services, the choir always enlists Kate’s beautiful voice to join them so I have the double benefit of hearing her sing and listening to Tom Atkins lead morning worship.

Tom’s writing, particularly his poetry speaks right to my heart. I look for his posts each day, knowing I am sure to find something to ponder or chuckle over. His photos often become a zen koan for me, images which still my monkey mind and help me refocus scattered energies. To hear him preach is to be delighted and challenged and reconnected with  foundational faith.

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As a child my family attended St Mark’s Lutheran Church* on Kimball Ave in Yonkers.  I have very clear memories of the long wooden pews, dark blue hymnals and beautiful stained glass windows.  As I gazed at the intense colors in those windows, the music of the hymns and liturgy would carry my mind to a quiet peaceful center. I much preferred sitting in church to attending Sunday school, where most of what I was being taught did not match what my heart felt it knew about God.

Asking, “If Jesus isn’t dead because he rose again, then why is He still dead on the cross in church?”  resulted in a directive to stop asking questions and just pay attention. (This was in the years before Lutheran churches would change to using the Cross of Resurrection.) Eventually of course I would not only start asking questions again, I began to actively seek answers exploring both Eastern and Western beliefs.  The path to my current state of faith is the subject for another post, but it was a path on which I reclaimed some foundational experiences from my childhood, the meditative effect of stained glass windows and liturgical music are among them.

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Rupert UMC is a sanctuary of rich wood tones and colorful stained glass.

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It has a small congregation with a big spirit. Their generous hearts extend the warmest of welcomes. The first time I visited I felt as if I had arrived at a home I didn’t realize I had, a perfect metaphor for my personal experiences of spiritual awakenings. It is a feeling which tells me God is not only present, but fully expressed in this community.

I’ve visited many different places of worship around the world; few and far between are the ones which truly feel like home. Returning to safe haven was a welcome respite after a month of emotional storms which had left my heart feeling battered. Unexpected losses and a betrayal of trust had me in deep soul searching mode for weeks.

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Seated in the center of this sweet sanctuary, I felt the healing colors from the stained glass windows fill my spirit with childhood memories of Sacred Presence. The familiar chords of the invocation cradled my heart with simple comfort.  Gazing up at the mandala of wood above me I opened my heart again. Letting go eases the pain of growth and change. I know this. I have done it before; I can do it again and I will emerge deeper in compassion and stronger in faith.

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Tom’s sermon, punctuated by his tool box illustration, had me nodding and smiling.  The right tools whether physical, emotional or spiritual are essential to accomplishing any goal.  Point taken to heart, ready to move forward now thank you!

And speaking of moving forward, after some chatting and coffee and home baked goods, it would be time for me and Kate to get moving for two very important appointments. Lunch with another friend at Marigold Pizza and a walk in the woods with Tess.

To be continued…

Walk gently on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready

*Editorial note: St Mark’s has a recent claim to a bit of Hollywood fame.  Some scenes for the 2008 movie DOUBT (starring Meryl Streep and Philip Seymour Hoffman) were filmed in the gymnasium of the education wing!

 

 

 
 
 

On the Road to friends and high places: Part Three Feasting on Friendship

So fellow travelers, having arrived at the Round House Cafe for good food and fellowship, I was accompanied by an unexpected attendee.

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 When the thread about the potential lunch gathering wound it’s way through the creative group, one of our members rued her inability to attend. Nancy lives in Oklahoma which is a tad too far a distance to travel for lunch, although last fall she did make the journey east to attend the Bedlam Farm Open House.

As consolation for missing lunch, we offered to text her and send photos from the cafe. She gave us her cell phone number, inspite of knowing this now left her vulnerable to who knows what kind of “farmie message madness” beyond our lunch event. Furthermore,  she promised to make herself available and not wander off to rescue dogs or move obstinate hogs, things she is apt to do and then write about quite brilliantly in her blog. So we tagged the event as “Lunch with Nancy,” and thanks to some creative graphic design by Beth, Nancy was indeed able to attend.

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The humorous banter which followed during lunch included messages like “Hey Nancy, so glad you made it.”  “Gosh I have this odd feeling like I am in two places at once.”  “Oh Nancy, what a FLATtering photo of you,  looking great!”  “Why, yes don’t I look nice and thin!”  “Hey Nancy stop dancin on the tables,  Scott will kick us out!”  “Oh dear I am such a rebel aren’t I ?”

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In between messages to and from Nancy, the conversation around the table touched on plans for the upcoming Bedlam Farm open houses, cooking adventures, bee keeping, future cross country RV trips and lots of encouragement for members venturing into new endeavors like publishing books, expanding blog readership, staging future art shows.  It’s evident  folks have had a good time when they inch ever so slowly towards the door even as the cafe staff politely sweep the floor around them. Scott is such a gracious host. We finally dispersed only after the promise of a gathering next month perhaps for a photo expedition.

Originally some of us planned to visit a few more fiber farms, but an unexpected encounter with the Hubbard Hall Dance Mob at Battenkill Books kept us in town past the event’s ending time. It was worth it (you can watch the video here) and  Nancy herself had a few things to say to the videographer who was documenting the historic moment.

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So we decided to stop instead at another point of interest, recommended by Tom, whose masterful poetry is often accompanied by photos of antiques and whose thoughtful paintings are among some of the featured artwork.

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Tom had graciously offered accommodations at his home in West Pawlet, as Kate and I would be staying in the area for the Battenkill Chorus Concert’s Sunday performance.  As a bonus, staying at Tom’s meant I would be able to attend the Sunday morning service at Rupert Methodist Church, something I knew from previous visits would bring some much needed peace to my restless heart.

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More on the spiritual energies of stained glass to come…..

Walk gently on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready.

On the Road to friends and high places: Part Two Connecting Threads

So fellow travelers, our fiber farm adventure has reached a literal and creative high point at St. Mary’s on-the-hill.

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View from St Mary’s on-the-hill :  Christ the King Retreat center, a haven of peaceful, comfortable accommodations where many of us have stayed during various Bedlam Farm Open House Weekends adventure.

Beth has family ties to this center, so we received a warm welcome and a generous opportunity to take photographs of the antique embroidery exhibit.

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 I should have taken better (or more accurately any notes) notes on the specifics of these pieces.  I do remember these pieces date back to the 19th century and were created by young women attending one of the sister’s schools in New York City. Although I was not raised in the Catholic church, I grew up in a very Catholic neighborhood in New York and felt some connection to these amazing works of art knowing they had graced various churches in the city of my childhood.

The exhibit showed in careful detail the process from concept, to sketches, precise color patterns, then final crafting and included many samples of the practice pieces students were required to complete before working on a designed piece.

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From a distance, some of the stitching looked like it had been hand dyed, the graduation of color was so subtle.  Close-up views revealed the effect was created by many tiny stitches.

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Such patience and attention to detail amazed us, each piece a magnificent example of discipline and focus.

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I found myself wondering what thoughts and feelings filled these young women’s minds as they stitched in meditative silence. It was truly a gift to spend time with these sacred creations.

As we headed back outside and saw a sign for goats we knew this peak experience was not quite over. We walked around to the goat pens by a small barn and were delighted by two weeks old kids romping on hay bales undr the watchful eye of their mothers and one very handsome Dad.

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Momentarily distracted by some distant bird calls, I walked along the fenceline away from the quiet crowd and captured this handsome fellow at work.

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Listening intently for a few moments, I was able to pick out the distinct call of a yellow warbler in the trees lining the hills.  Thinking of the somewhat early timing for this migrant turned my attention the need for us to head over towards Cambridge soon. I looked up and saw Beth walking towards me. Great minds ( and empty stomachs) think alike. We agreed it was time to make the short drive over the hills to hit the Round House for Lunch.

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To be continued…….

Walk gently on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready