The Lake Isle of Innisfree

 

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,

And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;

Nine bean rows will I have there, and a hive for the honey bee,

And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,

Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;

There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,

And evening full of the linnet’s wings.

 

I will arise and go now, for always night and day

I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;

While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements gray,

I hear it in the deep heart’s core.

 

William Butler Yeats

 

[Sigh]. . .I’m never quite sure where I belong. . . between the rush of the city and the quiet of the country. . . songs of the sea roll in my thoughts and in my blood when I’m surrounded by concrete and a million other energies. . . and the pulse of the city moves my body and takes my attention when I’m surrounded by sweet smelling pines and digging in the dirt.  Well not exactly when I’m doing those things- because when I’m fully immersed in the city, I’m fully there and when I’m fully immersed in the forest or ocean, I’m fully there. But  it’s the inbetween state. . . when I’m indoors and in between projects, I find myself pulled to the other one.

 

Tomorrow I have a meeting regarding the most beautiful piece of land and house I’ve ever seen.  The possibilities are endless- studio and barn and stone kitchens resting as if buoyed by enchanted air on organic  soil. . . almost 100 acres.  My very own “almost 100 acre woods” so to speak.

 

It’s just a meeting. . . and I can’t help but know myself so well that I can almost foresee building up walls so I don’t fall in love. . . because I’m always afraid of those other paths, the other choices and the other places that I would also love. . . how will I ever choose?  Somehow when everyone around me says it. . . and when I try and tell myself. . . that I don’t have to choose just one. . . something doesn’t quite believe it.

If I’m quiet and listen with the most open and un-expectant wholenss of my being. . . “I [will] hear it in the deep heart’s core”

“L’erba voglio non cresce neanche nel giardino del re”

x

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  . . .  into my favourite season of all. . . because as much as I adore browning myself in the hot sunshine and inevitably begin to loathe (in a manner of speaking) the freezing cold temperatures, I adore autumn beyond words. 

    The smell of the air, smokey and earthy. . . like the delicious and indulgently expensive candle from Diptyque, Feu De Bois (firewood).  It mingles with the ocean, which is entirely wonderful in the way it carries a different scent not just every season, but every day. It becomes a part of the falling leaves, apples and berries fermenting on the branches that will be touched by frost soon, or in the fallen leaves that have begun to decompose and the scent fills the nostrils with a pungent and beckoning gesture- could it be the instinctual knowledge that the smell is of death and it will welcome us all eventually into it’s depths? All Hallow’s Eve will be celebrated soon and it’s beautiful to actually celebrate our cycles of life rather than fear the inevitable.
    
    Snuggled up in wool and fleece, I recently stopped into one of my absolute favorite shops in the city of Portland’s Old Port. . . on the cobblestone part of Fore Street there is a tiny hole-in-the-wall cache of nautical antiques; a treasure chest that smells of salt and dust and is watched over by the most amazing Mainer with his 50 year old parrot, Singapore.  She dips her wise old head and cracks peanut shells over the darkly stained wood by one of the few smokey-glassed windows above his head.  When he sees that you’re different from the loud tourists, he opens up, becoming a veritable chatterbox and suddenly you feel as if you’re able to peer through the kaleidescope of what he’s seen in dark corners of the world- shards that are side by side and reflected into one another, mixed with things from every nook and cranny of our own expansive and varied country. 
He mentioned that he may close up shop and head south. . . or answer the call of the sea again, and I’ll be a bit sad when one day the sign is gone and the store empty, but I wish him adventure wherever he goes.  I purchased some pieces for jewelry. . . bits of old documents, brass tags with Russian writing, old compasses and tiny cleats; all inspiring beyond words and imbued with something uniquely special that is, in a way, priceless. I also found a simple wool fisherman’s cap to keep the chill at bay on these nights that are becoming colder, no matter how warm the afternoons are these days.
 
    August days that are filled with trips to flea markets and the beyond-words fresh and local produce from Chase’s Daily in Belfast, emails and letters, writing and designing projects, nights with fires that send orange bits of ashes spiraling upwards to the sky full of stars, hikes and picnics under the mulberry trees at my family’s ocean-side summer house.  I took a break from the packed-in peacefulness for a week of noisy chaos in Manhattan, where the constant stream of parties, museums, restaurants, boutiques and general sensory overload was sheer bliss.  If I could find a way to go back and forth between the simplicity of coastal Maine and the constant and inspiring bustle of the city, I think that would be perfect for this Gemini soul. . . sea and city. . . juxtapositions. . . extremes. . . these are words that resonate within me.  PJ Harvey’s Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea  remains one of my favourite albums of all time- and now I fully understand why it resonates so much.
 
    Now back by the sea, I’m scrambling to fill baskets with the last of the blueberries and mulberries as I’m eating them by the handfuls these days, the burst of flavor tastes like home.  In the midst of hauling rocks for the construction of new garden walls, gathering sun-golds before the slugs get to them, leaping like a mountain goat over the craggy coastline, feeling the wind in my hair, I try to find the time to keep cranking out pieces of jewelry.  Admittedly, it’s hard to don my leather apron and head to the workbench when the weather is breathtakingly beautiful and fills my body with that inspired quality that only comes in the magical days of autumn. . . but if I balance outdoor adventures with studio time, I feel much more accomplished and responsible, but still childish and nourished! 

 

    I watch the pine needles glowing as if lit from within in the late afternoon sunshine, back from a hike, with the rest of the day’s hours promising to hold mason jars of sun tea, soft grass underfoot, tangles of vintage chains between my fingers and the light of the acetelyne torch ushering in nightfall. 

wishing magic of all kinds for everyone. . . and lastly: http://www.misprintedtype.com/v4/images/links/imagem.php?imagem=00.gif

My lip has cracked due to extensive adventures in the sun and heat, with too much salt and admittedly a bit of dehydration- all the running around and forgetting to drink. . . i know i know.  But Badger Healing Balm is my saviour. . . and combined with the blueberries I’ve been picking and consuming like mad. . . I’m on the healing path.  I’m actually quite enamoured with every Badger product- the Bali Balm for too much sun, the Coffee Roast lip balm for a sensual scent wafting under my nose, the Sleep Balm for calmly drifting off. . . I have a stockpile- there’s a tin for every occasion, made even more cozy by being Certified Organic and started by a “carpenter/herbalist/storyteller”. 

The blueberry fields stretch to the ocean and I pick quart after quart. . . listening to the seagulls and watching the bits of sky drift and gather into stormclouds, shower us for awhile, then skirt away again over the waves. . . the everchanging quality of Maine weather in August.  The thunderstorms have been intense with lightening like I haven’t seen for a long time. . . and the fog rolls in on sandy beaches where people picinic, dance with their dogs on the water’s edge, and cast their fishing lines off of weathered docks and dinghys. 

No matter what I’m doing here. . . I’m in love.  I’ve been scouring flea markets on trips to Searsport and Belfast with my mum whose company is as delicious as the baskets of blueberries warm in the sun.  Our fingers are stained purple from the harvest, as we continue on to wrap them around steaming mugs of tea or cold pressed coffee at Chase’s Daily. . . where the back section is filled with fresh from the farm produce- the most beautiful bouquets I’ve ever seen gathered in one place- except for the organic farm where I worked during a magical summer when I was 16.  The rough benches are covered with jewel toned beets, carrots, swiss chard, onions, radishes, mixed greens filled with borage and nasturtiums, cucumbers, summer squash, and a myriad of herbs and cabbages. . . I could easily fill bag after bag after bag. . . I have to remember that it all needs to be used and I’m not feeding hundreds of people, just the small stream of friends and family that inevitably come through during these vacation months. 

From the flea markets I come away with vintage jewelry to deconstruct and retangle and knot into pieces, adding bezels filled with found objects and salvaged pieces, charms and recycled glass.  My trip to New York next week will be more of the same and should give me enough material to prepare for upcoming shows and orders.  If I can only tear myself away from quilting projects, clothing refashioning and outdoor adventures/travels long enough to settle down at the workbench!

 

I’ve been making raw tiramisu and banana ice cream sandwiches as well as the most beautiful simple salads from all the fresh produce. . . and for guests I’ve created rustic tarts, fresh blueberry muffins and scones, pancakes and pies for younger cousins, wilted greens and baked tomatoes, braised fennel with green beans I picked from our garden. . . and pickling the myriad of vegetables in raw apple cider vinegar and fresh dill.  The house is scented and cozy. . . the fog only adds to the mysterious quality of East Coast summers. . . and the love and laughter abounds from all directions. 

 

So dip your fingers into the balm of these days. . . there is always something soothing, nourishing and healing about digging your hands into the dirt or bushes, gathering your own food, preparing it with loving hands and no matter how sun-cracked your smile may be, savor every bit of the glowing exchanges. . .

I’m a Maine girl. . . I always have been. . . it’s rooted in my ancestry as far back as you can go even before some of them came over on the Mayflower, others were originally here.  I guess I was born from duality.  As we are all, this huge simmering world that I adore and feel constantly nurtured by.

it takes consistent leaving and years of trying to rip up these roots with new places to realize just how far reaching into the salty earth they go.  The sea and the mountains and the fields of blueberries are in my bones. . . the scent of being as far on the East Coast as you can get on this land fills my nostrils and I embrace it calmly.  Memories are wild and happy. . . and more will be made.

And summers in Maine are sheer magic, I’m glad to be back in time to savor the rest of this one. . . even though it’s already past my childhood “halfway mark” (July 4th -when we would pick strawberries at dawn and before the fireworks at night, have strawberry shortcake with homemade biscuits and unsweetened creme for dinner!). . . the East Bay was blanketed in chilly fog most of the time so being back on the East Coast makes me feel like summer has just begun in some ways- I’m playing a bit of lazy catch-up.

Falling asleep to the sounds of quiet (not busy Berkeley streets) with crickets and sometimes thundering rain reminds me of being little and the cool feeling of summer sheets, going to bed when it was sometimes still light, the sounds of grownup voices and clinking glasses. . . the mornings we woke up and it was already so wonderfully muggy and the air smelled like the fragrant gardens, sun-burnt exhaustion after days at the beach, the glorious feel of salt in my hair and drying on our skin, delicious stacks of summer reading that you could spend all day buried in either following the sun or seeking shade when it became too hot. . .

i just finished the most wonderful book ever- Mutant Message Down Under by Marlo Morgan and am now in the midst of another gorgeously poetic and full of mystical scents, Essence & Alchemy: A Natural History of Perfume by Mandy Aftel. . . which has led me on a treasure-hunt sort of path to the next one added to the list. . .

“In J.K. Huysman’s classic novel of aesthetic excess, A Rebours, the protagonist describes the creation of a heart chord: “First he made himself a tea with a compound of cassia and iris; then, completely sure of himself, he resolved to go ahead, to strike a reverberating chord whose majestic thunder would drown down the whisper of that artful frangipani which was stealing stealthily into the room.”

. . . what wonderful thoughts to curl up with on this perfectly quiet and summery Sunday. . .

and speaking of strawberry shortcake above- i think one of my “summer sheet” sets actually was a Strawberry Shortcake print- what i wouldn’t give for those now, completely retro and fun but alas no more twin beds (actually no more beds, as I really prefer the floor wherever I go!). . . i’ll have to search some nostalgic videos out on youtube instead.

So my summer list of things to savor today. . . organic Ethiopian coffee in a french press that allows us to slow down, munch our fresh peaches that spill sweetness down our chins. . . yoga on the deck wet from last nights thunderstorm, a hands outstretched to flying position bike ride for the NY Times only to discover everyone was still sleeping in town. . . which works better anyway- viewing the Times online is much more eco-friendly and allows for sharing the wonderfully random multimedia stories with friends. . . and the best for last:  the delectable and rough boys at Rogues Gallery. . . I’m still in love with the products and the lookbook, mostly because these are the clothes that are familiar to me and the roughened hands from wood, work and the sea that I’ve always needed on my skin.

Glad to be in the midst of July . . .and thank you to all who’ve welcomed me home with love and salty kisses.

“Keep me fully glad…”
– by Rabindranath Tagore –

Keep me fully glad with nothing. Only take my hand in your hand.

In the gloom of the deepening night take up my heart and play with it as you list. Bind me close to you with nothing.

I will spread myself out at your feet and lie still. Under this clouded sky I will meet silence with silence. I will become one with the night clasping the earth in my breast.

Make my life glad with nothing.

The rains sweep the sky from end to end. Jasmines in the wet untamable wind revel in their own perfume. The cloud-hidden stars thrill in secret. Let me fill to the full my heart with nothing but my own depth of joy.

The senses. I revel in them throughout my days. . . no matter where my physical body finds itself, there is always something beautiful to fall a bit in love with. I have never, ever appreciated the term ‘ugly’ as I believe that truly nothing is. There may be certain places or scents or sights that are less pleasing than others. . . or that create a feeling of discomfort and make me seek out something to counteract that unease. . . but really everything is truly beautiful at the core.

At a class last night on transforming negative energy. . . a core Buddhist teaching was brought to our attention- that the antidote to fear is beauty. And I realized how very true that is in my own life, when things are not quite right, or there is an element of unrest or fear. . . I look to all my senses to provide beauty of every kind.

I think scent is my favourite. . . as I’ve delved into a bit here and as people have pointed out- I seem to have a very strong connection to the smells of the world and a very intense appreciation for most of them. They are linked to joy, love, nostalgia and promise. I adore words, and thoughts and even whole books on the olfactory pieces of the world.

Especially descriptive words. . .

“U.S. wine critic Robert Parker, who in the 1970s invented the now-ubiquitous 100-point scale for rating wine. For decades, Parker’s approval and florid descriptions (“sumptuous aromas of lead pencil shavings, crème de cassis, incense, black tea, flowers, and sweet cherries”). . .”

Alfredo Ayala, Eric Ripert, Yosuke Suga, Michel Richard, Jennie Lorenzo

Photo by Lyn Hughes

The event that we’ve been working towards ever since I arrived in Berkeley at The Tibetan Aid Project, Taste & Tribute New York had an incredibly successful turnout on June 19th. . . and above is a link to New York Magazine’s food daily- Grub Street. . . where Joel Ozersky posted his writeup of the night.

For more on the Taste & Tribute events , definitely check out Tibetan Aid Project.org

On the West Coast, we’ve jumped right back into the work of putting together the next event to be held in San Francisco this coming November (it will the the 8th gala event and the turnout and funds raised keep increasing which is simply wonderful!). . . as well as the proposal writing and general nonprofit work that is ongoing. I have two weeks left here. . . and while I’m in love with the Bay Area and all of the amazing people I’ve been around, I’m also looking forward to heading back east.

There are weddings to attend, lots of trips to various places, my studio beckons and there’s plenty of work to be done before fall shows and collaborations. Woven into this web will be digging in sweet smelling dirt, planting and harvesting, building rock walls and pergolas, days upon days spent at the ocean smelling of salt and sun. . . mmmmmm.

So soon I’ll be blowing parting kisses to all the goats who wander the Berkeley hillsides in the morning, as I pack my duffels full of summer skirts and an owl feather to head back to the heat of Maine, knowing that I’ll most likely be back someday. . .

This is an excerpt from Treehugger regarding Chicago’s “Read Green, Live Green” Summer Reading Program. . . reminding me of the stacks upon stacks of library books in the house, on the porch, at the beach all summer long. The mornings that were already hot and hazy, flipping through garden books in the garden, reading Blueberries for Sal and One Morning in Maine while eating homemade peanut butter and honey sandwiches with bits of crushed shells imbedded in them while at the beach, Bernstein Bears and Goodnight Moon while camping in the backyard or climbing up in the treehouse. . . so many wonderful memories and thousands upon thousands of books. . .

“As with all summer reading programs there’s a focus on getting kids to read, but here they’re also offering adults the opportunity to take part in a series of discussion groups aimed at celebrating nature while exploring the threats to it.

“Read Green, Live Green” Program Highlights

The program itself runs through August and offers books, reading tours and performances for both adults and children on such critical environmental issues as climate change, energy conservation and even farming.

And the folks behind it are quick to point out that roughly 45,000 kids read more than 1,000,000 books during last year’s summer reading program, which means there’s a terrific chance that a whole generation of Chicago school children will be reading about going green all summer long.

So hats off to the city of Chicago for making this summer reading program a green read indeed. Perhaps next year other cities and towns will pick up the ball and run with it, as a summer program like this can have an impact on kids for the rest of their lives.”

So I’d like to send this out in part to the local library I remember growing up in Maine, and also to libraries and children everywhere who are unconsciously being green while living in the most beautiful worlds that books introduce.

From Glass Petal Smoke, which I’m so in love with

“The life of a pencil is clear from the beginning. After seven inches all that is left is a disposable relic. A pencil doesn’t tell you it will love you forever. Its ability to commit is obvious from the moment you place it in a sharpener.”

This was written to my soul. The impermanence and the lovely nomadicism (yup a new word- try it out) feel like a beautiful and comforting validation of the state of my days. . . and how I hope they continue for days and days to come.

The goat reference is from the beautiful start to my morning. . . and it’s making me want to get a few goats when I return to the east coast, to wander through the garden patches and chill with on the rocky ocean beaches. My friend Lisa used to have goats growing up and they would hop in the station wagon with the family dog to drop them off at school or go on vacations. . . I’ve had dogs, now I want goats.

So this morning, I hiked up to the huge C above the UC Berkeley campus – you can tell from the cityscape below what the weather will be like- fog covering San Fran and it’s going to be chilly, clear and blue over the Golden Gate Bridge and it’s going to be gloriously hot!

. . . and I stumbled onto a hillside of goats! They let them roam and munch all summer below the lab (i shudder to think of what the lab leaks on them though, and come to think of it all of us. . .) and under the sweet eucalyptus trees. . . there must’ve been a hundred of them and they were all different colors- brown, white, grey, black and spotted. . . yawning and blinking sleepily at me. . . making grumbles and pawing the grass. . . I was the most delighted girl in the world. . . especially since some had grandfather beards and were too adorable for words.

Last but not least. . . after a long absence (anything over a week is too long for me) from my beloved stretching of mind and body, I’m headed back to the studio that moved to Berkeley just a bit before I did- both of us from the East Coast and both random, open and unique.

“this yoga is for Mothers, Brothers, Sisters and Grandmothers. Poets, Bakers, Painters and Artists.”

Hell yeah.  I’ve loved being a part of this growing community. . . and wish it would spread like wildfire everywhere, even back to Maine. . . where I’ll be cranking out projects and digging happily in the garden again for a bit very soon.  It’s just another place to stop when I’m in New York!

And my reward for those challenging flow sequences are thoughts of make-your-knees-weak ice cream or smoothies from Cafe Gratitude. . . and honestly sometimes focusing on the breath or calming my thoughts during the core work just doesn’t do it like the promise of a delectable treat in my favourite cafe.

But my nomad energy always finds what it needs. . . and every single moment is full of lovely thoughts, chocolate scented pencils, and things to make me smile. . .

facing this day (and all the rest to come) with determination, joy and bravery. . .

 

. . as it starts to play, keep in mind that i tend to drip in sarcasm. . . and it’s my birthday, i’m sunbaked and giddy. . . full of raw ice cream, dripping in birthday necklaces and generally effervescent. . . and how does the song go?  it’s my party and i’ll dance if i want to? 

 

off to dance and drink raw cocktails. . .