Wednesday, November 16, 2011


Somehow this year I have lived into an alternate rhythm of crafting and "arting."  While I spent much of 2011 obsessed with socks (I really should post a picture one of these days) and a cardigan, lately I've been drawn back to my paints and gel medium.  Here are a couple of the results:

I've had a hard time taking a picture that brought out the true colors, so here is a closeup:

It's a gessoed 2'x2' panel with collage papers, stickers and written words.  Then I painted a Sun Mandala and the crow on top. It reflects my mood of autumn, on one hand bursting with color, on the other going inward to a place of dreaminess for a while... hope you like it!

This piece contrasts nicely with the one I created towards the end of summer:

Here, I collaged and painted papers onto an oval canvas.  I then sculpted the tree trunk, roots and branches out of gel medium before adding leaves and writing.  It is called "Our Family Tree."  In the photo, the tree trunk appears very shiny or speckled with white.  Without the reflection of the light, it is a shiny brown color.

It was a lot of fun making these, though I am now tending towards smaller pieces.  I have one more in the works, then it will be back to crafting until after the holidays.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Veteran's Day

I have never posted for Veteran's Day before.  My grandfather served in WWII for Hitler's army (though he was a lifelong member of the opposition Social Democratic Party) and died of the consequences of his injuries sustained at the Russian front after many years of suffering.  My other grandfather worked in the steelmills and was excused from  military service to keep the war machine going.  As you can imagine, the veterans of the Second World War were not exactly welcomed home as heroes.  Instead, in Germany on this day we commemmorate the end of the First World War, at 11:11 am.

Coming to the USA after having grown up with an awareness of how destructive military might can be in the wrong hands, I understandably have always had an uneasy relationship with any military matters.  But over time I have learned how important the military has been to this country and the world.  I have met veterans in families dear to me, and though I have never supported the wars the government is fighting in the Middle East, I have nothing but admiration for those who would enter this line of work willingly to defend this country and/or its ideals.

Today I was listening to State of the Reunion on the radio and heard the story of Archie's Acres Farm in California.  I was moved by the work that is done there in providing marines with a learning experience in sustainable agriculture.  With so many vets returning home with PTSD, physical injuries, lack of employment and often lack of services or even a home, it was truly heartening to hear about the Veterans for Sustainable Agriculture (VSAT) program.  The training program prepares these men and women to move into their own farming careers with confidence.

I think this is something we can all celebrate.

Friday, November 4, 2011


I can remember a handful of times in my life when I have eaten something so perfect, or perfectly prepared, that I still remember the flavor, texture and aroma to this day.  Most of these memories involve dishes (okay, desserts!), but there is one that stands out because it involves a single leaf of arugula.

I was getting out of the car to pick up my first CSA share when my friend Ali handed me this leaf to taste.  There was bitterness, firmness and a nice kick of spice, as you would expect.

But there was more. 

Underneath all these flavors and textures, there was an energy I had never experienced in food before.  It was like eating life itself. I felt as if my body was streaming with life forces.  All from one. single. bite!  This was how I first came to meet biodynamics.

Biodynamics is a form of agriculture inspired by the work of Rudolf Steiner.  Back in the 1920's, a group of farmers came to Steiner, concerned about the changes they were seeing in the fields:  the lower yields, the decreasing nutritional value of crops, the diseases etc.  So Steiner gave a series of lectures on agriculture out of which the biodynamic agricultural methods were born.

The basic premise of biodynamics is to treat the entire farm as one living organism and as such to strengthen it and treat it homeopathically.  There are biodynamic initiatives all over the world and an international association and certification program.

Since tasting that first leaf of arugula (and many more biodynamic meals since then), I've had an ongoing interest in its workings, and once I moved into this house with its gardens and fruit trees, I knew it was time to sign up for a course.  I'm currently enrolled in training through the Pfeiffer Center, though there are numerous other trainings available.  Over the next weeks and months I will share with you some of what I am encountering there. 

Whether you adore Steiner or think he's a hoax, I do believe that the biodynamic approach to agriculture has a lot to add to the debate over food we're facing in the western world today.  I hope this is of some interest.

making a biodynamic preparation

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

a visit from the neighbors

The almost two feet of snow we received over the weekend has brought down some of my neighbor's fences.  Two of her lovely horses came to pay a visit (again) yesterday:  that's Havana on the left and Callie on the right.  In fact, it's usually these two that come to cut our lawn and provide us with manure for the compost.  Yesterday they grazed for several hours, pawing at the ground to move the snow out of the way.  It is so lovely to look out of the living room window at these two coming by to remind us that we're not living in the suburbs anymore.  I returned the favor by mucking out their stalls.  Life is good in the country.