Abundance

Any Saturday morning I can spare from work, I walk 7 miles round trip to the farmer’s market. This time I returned with the always loved red cabbage in my backpack, a vegetable I had not tried before (kohlrabi) and gorgeous cherry tomatoes. When I returned home, I found a neighbor had left more gorgeous cherry tomatoes on my doorstep and a housemate left a jar of honey from a hive she harvested. This morning, I looked at the kitchen counter and thought, “If that is not a picture of Earth’s abundance, I don’t know what is.”

It’s already carved up, so not in photo, but turns out, for anyone who cares to know, kohlrabi is kind of like a jicama or daikon radish great raw and nutrient rich. I did not google it before I thought I’d taste the leaves, and turns out they make a tasty little saute with garlic, cumin and cayenne, just like kale or collard greens. Here’s a link to a blog that lists kohlrabi recipes.

My deepest intention is to live in a way that takes less and less from Earth, only what I need to sustain and celebrate Earth’s life of which I am a part.

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Favorite Season

I get to walk on jigsaw puzzles
in my favorite season.

Always footward my eyes
dart from piece to piece,
dream carpets and puzzles turning
brown, pumpkin, cranberry, gold
coin collections rusted,
Chinese fans and willow tears
silverfish, almond husks,
chestnut leathers,
open palms tan,
Japanese lacquer paints,
cantaloupe crescents,
pear skins and flesh
cedar slivers,
Miro designs,
crystallized citrus peels:
grapefruit, orange, lemon.

In my favorite season
the sun comes from the ground.

~ Erin Waterman, 1991
(inspired by walking Burke-Gilman Trail 10 miles daily for work)

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Dreams Are Free

My latest Helen Stewart shawl, “Sprite’s Fen” reminiscent of a stained glass window

String of Hearts plant in bloom

George Addair is paraphrased as having said, “Everything you want is on the other side of fear.” It occurred to me that I do not fear much, but everything I want is on the other side of money. I must try harder to overcome my allergy to money. Do I fear money? Possibly that’s part of it.

Dreams are free. To that end, I try to daily live my top three unrealized decades long dreams in some small form.

Taking actions that exist in our dreams even though maybe not amid the precise context we can imagine for whatever we want to accomplish, it feels to me that we can be in a state of perpetually living our dreams.

  1. Hike the Pacific Crest Trail or walk across the US or some other months-long walking endeavor. What can I do instead? Put on a day pack and walk out my front door for miles any opportunity I have. Frankly, even though I would like to, a grand dream of backpacking distance feels more like an ego calling than anything. To be able to say to myself and everyone “I did this,” is ego, when I can have an experience for free on my own two feet anywhere. Researching what’s involved to cover any giant distance safely, it’s on the other side of money, so I don’t let that stop me from the distance walking I enjoy.
  2. Earn a living from knitting. I recently found 200 cloth labels with a business name I created in my mid-20s, so that dream’s been in the imagination hopper a long while. What can I do for now with limited resources? Jot down pattern concepts even if I don’t know how to make them come to fruition or compete with all the other patterns out there, buy supplies only when 70% or greater discounted, and keep knitting
  3. Live in a 2-room cottage or tiny house with structures for a sustainable garden as ground zero from which to travel. Both house ownership and travel are on the other side of money I’ll likely not see during my lifetime unless it falls from the sky, since I am unable to work more than seven days a week. But I can surround myself with houseplants and use an old aquarium as an herb/tomato garden planter if I can’t build a structure for a huge garden, and I can look to models for inspiration such as this incredible space in Ireland, which is sustained by online contributions. In other words, a woman who found a way to live her dream by redefining working for money differently than how I think of it.

Bealtaine Cottage YouTube channel  – I’ve taken to watching these videos as a balm to the current sense of threat in the world. So grateful to her for beaming such a healing space through the internet.

Fading ocean spray ending summer

Dreams and Dreamers are top of my mind today of course, and here are some numbers for them, these young immigrants who have accomplished way more than I have in my five-decade lifetime. Putting hope in Congress to act is like holding breath under water, it’s not going to last long. But hearing the young Dreamers speak out on their own behalf this week has been inspiring and I wish them continued support from people in high places.

“More than 97 percent are in school or in the workforce, 5 percent started their own business, 65 percent have purchased a vehicle, and 16 percent have purchased their first home. At least 72 percent of the top 25 Fortune 500 companies count DACA recipients among their employees.”

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Knitting Dreams

Several days before, during and after the total solar eclipse over the United States on 8/21/17 I was inspired to create an Eclipse Wrap. A prayer of sorts in yarn. This is the first time I created something without following a pattern or writing anything down beforehand, using yarn I had on hand as I went. Increasingly I have started to conceptualize working with yarn’s textures, colors and structure in a similar way to working with music as I did in my distant past as a musician.

Not only has my own life included an abrupt change the week of the eclipse with my daughter leaving home for a year, but the heart heaviness I feel over crises happening in the US and world needs some place to go. For me this year, that place has been knitting.  Below are two short vlogs about my knits taken in my favorite setting – outdoors.

To quote the foundational teacher Elizabeth Zimmerman:

“Knit on with confidence and hope, through all crises.”

If that is not instruction for our times, I don’t know what is.

Eventually I would like to obtain a better camera than my phone for vlogging and make videos of my knits outdoors. I always have at least four projects on needles at any given moment, but as I begin to create my own designs, it would be great to have a visual platform to share them.

Currently, I am spending as many hours a day knitting as I am for paid work. And both activities heavily rely on repetitive hand/forearm arm motion. To avoid permanent injury, something will need to give.  I am following advice of several great sources like this one, to experiment with varying knitting styles.

My knit dreams consist of the following:

  1. Continually learn new techniques wherever I see tutorials for free, low cost.
  2. Earn a second income stream from knitting in different tiers (commissions, design, tutorials/teaching, social service). My goal is to continue the physical practice of daily knitting no matter what, because it provides me great joy and benefit. I have listened to many interviews with knitting/fiber arts professionals who find they have zero time to knit in order to manage their business, even though their passion for the act of knitting was their whole reason for going into it.
  3. Earn enough from second stream that I can cut transcribing hours in half so as to prevent injury from attempting both full-time simultaneously.
  4. Eventually be able to afford help to set up a system I can live with in online marketing for said knitting business since the words “online marketing” make me want to shrivel up and blow away. I don’t like being on the bombardment end of email and social media marketing, so I cringe at doing it to others.
  5. I dream of involving my knitting in ways that support others, and someday I envision incorporating empowerment and self-sufficiency for women (and whatever men are interested), since knitting is a skill that can be learned and practiced with very little formal education and across language barriers.
  6. Develop monthly gathering for Stay Strong Totes Foundation and build network of shawl/shrug providers for “Hugs Through Shrugs” for moms entering the Ronald McDonald Houses in Washington State.
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Enjoying Food

I realized some things this year:

  • Food can be an addiction, and I no longer have the addiction.
  • Eating is 99.9% habit.
  • I’ve lost and gained weight in the past, but cravings have never disappeared like they have now.
  • Taking care and attention to optimize what your individual body needs food-wise can truly be life changing.
  • None of this has to do with how I look, for me. It’s all about how I feel inhabiting my vehicle for this one life.
  • Asthma attacks are rarer, I no longer have hay-fever or chronic mild allergy symptoms (animal dander red alert hasn’t budged), I love feeling truly hungry, and I have greater sustained energy without peaks and valleys.

Thought I’d share a few favorite things in my journey of vegan living and shrinking 4 clothing sizes and a ring size thus far. (I was vegan and obese too, so veganism does not necessarily equal health – I just prefer the kingdom of vegetables as a way of living light on Earth).

Raw red cabbage.  Gorgeous and good for you.  I go through a head of cabbage a week, whack off slices each day, and leave it in fridge without a bag since it comes with it’s own outer layer of protection you can peel as you use.

A serving of red cabbage contains 85 percent of the vitamin C you need in a day, 20 percent of the vitamin A, 42 percent of the vitamin K and just under 10 percent of B6, as well as potassium, manganese and other minerals.

But best to eat it raw if you can: Cooking red cabbage degrades the anthocyanins and glucosinolates. If you must cook it, steam it very lightly for a short time.  (New York Times – 03/24/17)

A while back before I started realizing I felt great eating red cabbage every day, I was so inspired by the way it looks that I drew it and never finished coloring it in. (And I’m not an artist!)

Kimchi and fermented foods make a great combo with bland proteins such as tofu or beans. Fermented foods are also great for gut health, and this is my favorite local company.

Some essentials for my weekly organic grocery list:

  • Head of red cabbage (duh)
  • Head of cauliflower
  • Whole broccoli
  • Mixed greens
  • Kale
  • Cukes, radishes
  • Apples
  • Golden and/or Red Beets
  • Onion, Garlic
  • Carrots
  • Potatoes (red, Yukon and sweet)
  • Extra-Thick Oats (one bag of Bob’s Red Mill lasts a month of breakfasts)
  • Soy milk, almond milk
  • Tofu (one tub I slice into 5 portions and store in see-through container to use for 5 meals)
  • Frozen edamame
  • Kimchi
  • Pumpkin seeds (tbsp at a time)
  • Lundberg grain crackers of any kind, Lotus Foods Arare rice crackers
  • Thin-sliced whole seed bread to give you 2 slices of toast for the calories of one regular slice (like Killer Dave’s, Franz)
  • Pure peanut butter any that is organic with 100% peanuts (Crazy Richard’s is current favorite)
  • Field Roast Company whole-grain sausages
  • Good dark chocolate
  • Organic coffee
  • Holy Basil tea, fennel tea

Here’s to health!  (Am I too late to pick some of these guys in the neighborhood this year? Hope not).  My goal is to work 80-hour weeks starting September 1st, so it’s make hay while the sun shines. Literally the sun is shining.

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Heart of Stillness

In light of the unconscionable words spoken yesterday, I offer a peace prayer today. I walked to the heart of stillness in the labyrinth’s center and left a Whidbey Rock I found months ago. I have learned the peace symbol I grew up associating with all things good has a controversial distant history, but my intent here is to use it as the 1958 artist who created it for the purpose of a nuclear disarmament march.

Becoming a blackberry

Labyrinth – Whidbey Institute

Lichen making its own labyrinth

Rocks spoke to me today. Not sure what was said.

 

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Knitocratic Tendencies

Romi Hill’s design “Moon Shadows” shawl,
completed in a speed record for me of 10 days – that’s anxiety, not intending to
break a speed record, proving that anxiety can be beautiful

Envision a society where instead of autocratic, iron-fisted rulers, we had knitocratic two-handed knitters. I want to live there. Everyone sitting at some challenging political roundtable or policy decision would know what to do. Knit before (or while) you speak. No anxiety, no tension, no fear. If things really got out of hand, remember you’re holding needles, and possibly you could drape your opponent in a jaw-dropping garment that leaves them speechless by meeting’s end.

For the past 5 years I focused pretty intensively on redeveloping and increasing a meditation habit to cope with life stress. Well, this year I replaced meditation with knitting big time, and I have to say it has revolutionized my inner life. Good timing too, as the world feels a bit on the precipice, shall we say. Not only do I feel similar benefits to meditation of letting go of troubled thoughts, increased ability to focus, and out of stillness allowing life to arise, but hours later when I re-enter “awake consciousness,” I have tremendous satisfaction from having produced a physical creation.

Half the time when I complete an item, I feel as astonished as anyone else.  Of course, knitting does not necessarily feel as magical and beneficial as meditation when you are a beginner. This is where this lovely woman’s site linked below describes precisely what to do. So glad I found her page today and just want to share it for any beginner. She has created a resource I would have loved to create if I got my proverbial act together.

KNIT OM

I have even gotten rid of TV and replaced it almost entirely with rock stars. Knitting podcasters, that is. I always have one project going that I can do in my sleep and one project that stretches my skill level and focus. I knit the projects I can do in my sleep while watching a podcast. I want to note a few people from which I have learned a great deal, surprisingly even about everything under the sun that is not knitting related.

Some out of the UK, that land mass with a long knitting heritage.

Bakery Bears Podcast – This couple seems to have a lot of fun creating together and separately and put what seems like endless hours into their podcasts and mini-documentaries. Kay makes gorgeous designs and dyes wool as well. Even though I have an English degree and read much of Jane Austen’s work at some point, I learned all sorts of stuff I did not know from these folks.

Sockmatician – This designer/double knitter does stuff with two needles and yarn I can only dream of but want to learn someday, and in addition to having a full life of many other creative pursuits is downright entertaining and admittedly a bit off his rocker. His is the only knitting podcast I have viewed that made me laugh out loud and almost had to pee. I must be just enough off my rocker to appreciate it.

Knitting Expat – Have not watched for long, but a ton of admiration for this woman because I simply do not know how she manages to knit and design and create online content while raising a very young child.

As far as my own knit work goes, I have other news to share about a charity I am working with, but this is getting long, so I’ll create a separate post later down the road. Knitting even got me onto Instagram, somewhere I never thought I’d be.  #waterwomanknits if you care to follow. It’s turning into a 50/50 nature and knit image collection.

A little collage of 2017 far away from the madding crowd so far for me.

 

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