’twas the night before Thanksgiving…

…and all through the house, all the creatures were stirring. Thanks be for no mouse!

It’s about time to add the magic dry brining potion to the turkey who’s been thawing in the fridge since Monday.

The rice cooker is busily engaged in making wild rice for our pseudo-stuffing rice pilaf, which will be complete with dried pomegranate flavored cranberries, fresh herbs from the garden, and spicy pear sausage from our friend and gracious art supporter, Rusty, at Pine Street Market.

The food processor is waiting on deck to shred the brussels sprouts for roasting tomorrow with Pine Street salt & pepper pork belly, diced Granny Smith apples, and toasted pumpkin seeds.

And there’s homemade bird soup thawing for gravy.

I’ve spent much of the day doing my artist thing. Let’s say that I’m making progress…

IMG_6381We decided to escape some technical aggravations and duck out for a couple of last minute errands, with a stop for lunch at our favorite local spot, The Corner Pub.  I was feeling grateful for friends to cook for us and a fabulous burger (hold the bun!) when I noticed a volunteer delivering this barrel for the holiday community food drive which was a vivid reminder of just how many things we have to be thankful for.

In fact, that’s one of the growing edges on my journey. Intentional gratitude.

Not just at holiday time, but every day.

When I’m writing and painting, certainly.

Or stashing good, local, humanely raised food in the freezer.

Or thinking of family.

Or helping Luther out the back door and down the steps.

In fact, if you’re reading these words, know that I’m grateful for you, too!

And for the community that has supported my growing. (There’s an art party invitation hanging at Corner Pub, too!)

That gratitude makes it easier to live some of my most cherished beliefs in community. Peace. Justice. A safe, clean planet. Helping girls and women to find their voices. Hope.

There are, of course, days that I feel too small and insignificant to make a difference. And then I remember the normal, every-day, cherished people who made differences in my life and I crawl out of my flannel sheet and quilt coccoon, and flap my wings again.

May it be so for us all, in this time.

Blessings to you and yours… 

 

Thanksgiving Came Early For Me…

Bill and I have a long tradition of moving holidays to more convenient times for us to celebrate. I guess we got started by getting married on a Thursday before I graduated from Seminary on Sunday. (My family was already in town!)

Then there was the Thanksgiving we moved to Friday after an all night rescue run. Not dogs. A battered mom and her kids in desperate need of shelter.

More recently, Valentine’s Day, both our birthdays, and an anniversary… all postponed until we could leave Luther home alone.

Quirky, perhaps, but it works for us.

This year, Thanksgiving came exactly one week early.

Not the food part. The freezer is still full of local, sustainably raised, pastured turkey. I found the wild rice stash. Bill’s started foraging. We’re actually planning our semi-traditional holiday dinner for, you know, Thanksgiving Day!

On Thursday the 21st, however, I was a very busy volunteer, being thankful for a couple thousand people, most of them college students, gathered to listen to another guy I’m thankful for, Senator Bernie Sanders. The rally was held on the campus of Morehouse College on the day following the Democratic debate in Atlanta.

Please hear me say that I’m not sharing this experience to get you to vote for my guy, though I’d be thrilled if you did. Mostly, I want to share the hope of that moment in our history together.

The rally was held in the plaza outside the Martin Luther King, Jr. International Chapel. And, yes, that’s a statue of Dr. King, presiding, as it were, over the day.

It was gorgeous, if a bit chilly. (I have a sunburn to prove it!)

The crowd was in high spirits. I have a very short video I wish I could post here but, in addition to my technical failings as a videographer, apparently this website needs updating (Oooops!!!) and it won’t post.

So, it’s time for reader-participation. Imagine, if you will, some really upbeat music playing wherever you are. The kind that makes you want to move.

Then imagine at least 50 enthusiastic young people dancing to that upbeat music in a style that might be explained as similar to, but groovier than, country line dancing. Kind of a flash mob sort of a thing that just moved my spirit to watch.

And the Morehouse choir was, as always, thrilling.

I spent much of my time answering questions, checking in Invited Guests, hunting up the sign language interpreter, and handing out signs. Lots and lots and lots of signs.

IMG_6318And then Bernie began to speak. And, somehow, in that place, I hung on every word, clapping and waving my sign, while my heart was filled with these words of Dr. King’s for, boiled down to the core, this was what I heard Bernie saying.

And Bernie has been living these words since the days when Dr. King was saying them aloud.

I made some new friends, Thursday. And had an odd conversation with a guy who told me I was too old to vote for Bernie. When I asked why, he responded that old people were too conservative.

After a couple of deep breaths, I replied simply that I’m for Senator Sanders because I have grandchildren growing up in this world and he’s the one I trust with their future. Then, I added that many, many grandmothers of my acquaintance are among the most progressive folks around!

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And, I suspect it was my Grammy-heart that saw, in this tiny, pink Bernie angel, the reason that justice and dignity and decency and opportunity matter so much.

And probably also part of my inspiration, when the surprise opportunity presented itself, to hug Jane Sanders and thank her on behalf of all the grandmothers who care about the things she and Bernie care about for their family and all of ours.

Clearly, there are Rabbit Holes, even in Atlanta!

 

When Wednesday Takes Over The World!

Yes, you guessed it! It’s Work-In-Progress Wednesday again. At the moment, I could use a week of Wednesday!

The day started with a plan. A plan that included the Legendary Husband being somewhere other than where he wound up today, and doing the hunting and gathering thing tomorrow.

Obviously, hunting and gathering shifted to today. Which meant lots of sorting, measuring, ordering, and calling on my part. Nothing terrifying. Just time sensitive.

Then there’s the whole getting ready for an Art Party thing.

Hand knit, felted hats which appeared from the basement, in the process of being fluffed and embellished with flowers. Roses, of course.

Stacks of Giclées waiting to be signed and numbered.

Small WIP prayer dot canvases for Peace and Hope, drying.

And a flurry of activity involved in ordering new batches of art greeting cards from moo.com Pictures to hunt, decisions to make, proofs to check… you get it. All made possible by my wizard friend Leisa who deciphers what I ask for and pushes the buttons to manifest my dreams.

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In between emailing proofs back and forth, Leisa and I had quite the discussion about holiday food and who eats what, or doesn’t. A discussion that was way more fun than the political news!

Long story, short… I now have a recipe for 24 adorable little pecan tarts that is both gluten and corn syrup free. (Leisa is multi-talented!!!)

Just in case you’re curious…

Preheat oven to 350 F.

For crust…

  • 1/2 c. softened butter (In this case, I’d choose salted if you have some.)
  • 3 oz. softened cream cheese, preferably organic
  • 1 1/4 c. gluten-free flour like Measure for Measure from King Arthur  – or all purpose flour if you prefer

For filling…

  • 1 beaten egg, preferably pasture raised
  • 3/4 c. brown sugar
  • 1 T. melted butter, cooled so it won’t scramble the egg!
  • 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 c. chopped pecans (plus more for garnish, if desired)

Place flour in mixing bowl or bowl of food processor. Cut butter and cream cheese in with forks or pulse until small crumbs form, as you would for pie crust. Pat/roll into a 4×6 inch rectangular shape. Wrap in parchment paper and chill for 1 hour.

Mix filling well with wisk or food processor.

Cut chilled dough into 24 equally sized pieces and press pieces into mini muffin tins. These are called Tassie pans at our house! (If you like crispy tart shells, you may blind bake empty shells for 5 – 7 min. or until very lightly browned.)

Fill each cup half full of filling mix. Garnish each tart with pecan 1/2 if desired.

Bake about 20 min.

Cool to room temp before removing from pans and serving.

Please let me know what you think!!! For now… back to Wednesday and lots more WIP’s!

Tomorrow… my piece of the Red Thread is volunteering at an Atlanta rally for Bernie Sanders. I’m sure photos will be involved!

 

 

 

 

 

True Confession…

Okay. The real deal. I can’t handle the news.

My docs are probably fine with that. They worry about things like blood pressure readings and adrenal insufficiency which is code for, well, stress.

The dogs are fine with it, too. It confuses them when I swear at the TV.

So… what to do?

Well yesterday, I felted some hats. Turns out you can make the magic in a front loading washer after all!

Today, Bill and I dropped off another car load of donations. Then we went to pick up some amazingly wonderful small Giclées  of my work for an upcoming art party. Thank you, Digital Arts Studio.  (I have lots of name signing to do!)

Then I decided that the bookshelves in our family room needed some thinning. Getting started was a bit of a challenge. These books are my friends!

Nonetheless, I got out my little rolling stool that gets me close enough to the floor to reach even the bottom shelves and, shifting Phoebe just a bit, set two boxes in reach.

One box was for books that need a transfer to the white bookshelves in the basement. The other was for donations.

As my fingers wandered down memory lane, I noticed two copies of a much loved book and, with only a minor amount of duress, placed the older, much underlined copy back on the shelf and the newer copy in the donation box.

That’s when the lights came on!

You see, Archetypes and Strange Attractors was a huge eye-opener for me, back around 2000, when I was hanging out at Pacifica Graduate Institute. It made space in my mind for theoretical physics and stretched my understanding about the impact of symbols and transformation, not only for individuals, but for the world.

When I placed it into the donation box, I realized that sharing it was a way of acting out of hope, while declining to get all wadded up about the news.

As you can see, I found some more things to share. All of them things that have become a part of me through the years and will soon be free to spread their magic in a world that so needs it just now.

And the ones headed for the basement make space for new wonders in a more accessible place.

Some of the books I re-found 0n my journey were the kind that look like they’re for kids (and they are) but are also for the adults in charge of reading them aloud. And, since I’m frequently asked about just this kind of books, I thought I’d share a few with you here, just in case you know some little people who love stories. (Or believe, like I do, that it’s just not a holiday without books!)

Here are two of my very favorites…

Moonbeam… a book of meditations for children by Maureen Garth. “Simple visualizations for parents (and grandparents!) to help children awaken creativity, sleep peacefully, develop concentration and quiet fears.”

HAROLD and the PURPLE CRAYON by Crockett Johnson. “An ingenious and original little picture story in which a small boy out for a walk – happily with a crayon in his hand – draws himself some wonderful adventures.” (This also comes in a board book for the littles!)

Check back. There are more in the stack…

For now, though, they’re fixing Thanksgiving on Iron Chef!

And, because I really can’t ignore the news… The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs, by A. Wolf as told to Jon Scieszka and illustrated by Lane Smith. If you don’t know this one, now might be a really good time!

Come to the Table

Who knew what a gift it could be to sort out the basement??? (Okay, Marie Kondo apparently did!)

We’ve already delivered a car load of donations to Second Life Thrift Store, near Atlanta, where the proceeds go to benefit animal rescue organizations and spay/neuter programs.

Another big box has gone to a neighborhood family who support a literacy program for children of immigrant families, with more on the way.

Some of the stuff above is on its way to the Mission Haven clothes closet at Columbia Theological Seminary just down the road, and there are more clothes to pack up. (Dave and I wore Mission Haven clothes back in the day!) And the boxes of fabric for kids’ quilts are looking for a home.

A couple of hours ago, I got a surprise. Well, two surprises.

First, a cardboard box Bill brought up from the basement was correctly (!!!) labeled Cookbooks. Not generally things I send to the basement.

Then, I found this particular church cookbook:

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Talk about memory lane!

Back in 1999, when I was editor of Monday Morning magazine, I wrote an editorial titled Come to the Table, which found its way to the chair of the cookbook committee who asked for permission to reprint my words…

Some folks collect coins or stamps or baseballs or shoes. I’ve got a thing for tables. I painted a table not long ago. It has wild colors and quotes from many of my favorite folks all over it. It sits in the room where I write and pray and ponder. The coffee table in our living room is an antique claw-footed bathtub with a quilt draped in it and a piece of glass on top.

My very favorite table, though, is one I don’t own. In fact, this “table” is actually a huge hunk of granite that sits deep in the catacombs of a Catholic church in Hungary. I “met” this table in the late ’80’s,  just before the Berlin Wall fell. I was traveling with a group from Columbia Seminary. An English-speaking priest gave us a tour, taking us down flight after flight of steep stone stairs. It was cold, dark, and unfamiliar.

Finally we gathered in a tiny room where the priest explained that the Eucharist had been celebrated there, on that “table,” every day for 1,500 years. Every day! It didn’t matter who occupied Hungary at the time, or what they called the nation. It didn’t matter whether religion was illegal or merely ignored. Still folks came to claim power beyond that which seemed to rule their world.

I just had to touch that table. It should have been rough and cold, but, instead, it was warm and polished by all the countless hands that had lifted bread from it and poured wine over it. Every day. For 1,500 years.

Now, I know that many of you have different traditions, and today is perhaps an ironic day to be reflecting on this, at least in the USA, but I am reminded again of the power of the table throughout the world.

And, especially at this time of year, so many of us are pondering what to put on our tables for family celebrations. It seems to have gotten more complicated lately! In fact, I wrote a book about feeding the families we have, who often don’t eat the same things as we do.

The book is packed with recipes I inherited or developed or learned from dear ones. Lots of them are pretty fabulous! The part that still feels most important to me, though, is the discussion on holiday meal planning which begins, as so many things in my world do, with a question.

What are you trying to accomplish???

I come from a family of foodies. These days, when our family gathers, we have a collection of omnivores, pescatarians, some gluten free folks, others with allergies, and a much loved diabetic who’s doing way better lately. And that’s just six of us! There are also the studio angels, who have definite opinions about these things.

My answer to what we are trying to accomplish is that everybody feels included and nobody is eating things they feel badly about because “that’s the way we’ve always done it”.

It’s a lot like Intentional Creativity®!!!

Just between us, I have no idea how that will translate into food this year. I’m oddly okay with that. And grateful for our nearby International Farmers Market where darn near anything is possible.

I’m pretty sure, though, that really good dark chocolate will be involved! And, possibly, collard greens.

What about you???

 

 

Wisdom Begins In Wonder

And, the sorting goes on. It’s a bit like fortune cookies, or gum ball machines. You never know what’s going to show up next!

Last night, it was a sign. Literally.

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I love the front, pictured here. I also love the back which identifies the sign as being designed by Edward Kelly, carved by Adam Grabski, and cast by hand for The Wild Goose Studio in Ireland.

The Wild Goose, as you may know, is a symbol in Celtic spirituality traditions for the Holy Spirit and I totally understand wonder as one of those holy notions!

The back goes on to say:

Living in Athens nearly 2,500 years ago, the Greek thinker Socrates is considered the founding father of philosophy. Without a sense of wonder, there can be no curiosity, no inquiry, and no imagination – all the facets which lead to wisdom. It is wonder which inspires us to think about our lives, our world and how to make sense of our place in the universe. 

Since I blew the dust off that sign last night and sat pondering wonder and curiosity and inquiry and imagination, I’ve realized, or become conscious of, some pretty amazing things.

Predictably, there was a dream involved. A dream about the sense of wonder and curiosity that led, with some helpful inquiry, to the painting in progress known as TreeWoman. You’ve had some glimpses of her before. Here’s her face.

IMG_6277There were faces in my dream. And the power of learning to draw a simple face.

We are all born, with ancient genetic programming, to react to and interact with faces. It’s how we survive.

And, somehow, putting a face on a tree has opened me to interact differently with the notions of tree and forest and planet and even paper.

There’s been a lot of paper in those boxes from the basement.

Paper with words I wrote and still need.

Paper from things that no longer matter in my life.

Paper from those I cherish.

Paper that I suspect Bill saved because throwing things away is not, shall we say, his strong suit.

Paper for me to sort and make decisions about.

Let’s just say that the recycling folks are going to feel really needed this week!

Let’s also notice that a whole lot of paper that might previously have gone into the recycling bin has wound up, instead, in the collage box, for collaging goes with TreeWoman and, clearly, there will be more of her!

Old, non-glossy paper works best and we seem to have lots of that. From tattered shopping bags to vintage song books to wrinkled scraps of tissue paper, they are waiting for new purpose. New wonder. Perhaps, even, new wisdom.

And, somehow, all those scraps are singing to me. Singing the lyrics of a song from the Iona community in another of those Celtic places, the north coast of Scotland.

Where are the voices for the earth? Where are the eyes to see her pain, wasted by our consuming path, weeping the tears of poisoned rain? 

We are the voices for the earth, we who will care enough to cry, cherish her beauty, clear her breath, live that our planet may not die. 

Words that I would not know, or share, had I not put a face on a tree in the days when forests are burning and those who care not are on the brink of gaining power over our food and fish and wildlife, our protected lands and ecosystems.

Apparently, I have become a voice for the earth, much, I suspect, to the dismay of Georgia senators. She needs your voice, too. Sometimes wonder, and wisdom, begin in small things, even a pallet painting wonder of its own.

 

 

Today, Grammy Is Nesting

The windows are open, probably for the first time in six or seven months! The sun is shining. A gentle breeze is blowing. And the humidity is a miraculous 39% !!!

This is one of those days that comes with a huge reminder to luxuriate in them when they’re here.

Assuming, of course, that one of the definitions for luxuriate is nest. 

There’s a lot of that going on around here. You see, our kids are coming for Christmas! We’re thrilled. And also very aware that a house which is a bit tight for two humans and two very large dogs has some functional stretching to do.

Bill’s job is to run up and down the basement steps with boxes for me to sort, organize, and consolidate… after some significant recycling, trashing, and donating.

Last night, one of the boxes in the heap was filled with old notebooks from an almost forgotten adventure in quilt school, some very welcome clean sketch pads, a couple of matted prints from our favorite fish house in Florida, a whole stack of great stuff for TreeWoman’s collage collection, and the sweet little reminder you see above of why this all matters so much.

That’s our first granddaughter, snuggled into a hat I just had to have for her and a blanket I made.

It’s also all of our kids and grandkids. Yours and mine and all the world’s. The wee teachers who help us grow. The reasons we vote and recycle and make space in our worlds. The ones we so want to keep safe and perfectly who they are.

So, as the machines go round and round, and I remind myself for the umpteenth time that the washer needs to be leveled, I’m headed back to seasonal closet re-arranging in the room that’s usually known as the dressing room but doubles as the girls’ room when they’re here.

There’s dog food to unpack when Bill gets home with, I truly hope, the shelves I ordered from Container Store.

Tomorrow, more painting. Art, not walls. And a pot of soup.

Some days I wish there were three of me and I could get more done. Today, I’m enjoying nesting. With a bit of time for prayer dots…………………………………………..

 

Sue Boardman, Certified Intentional Creativity® Color of Woman Teacher