Permaculture inspiration!

So impressed by this! I would love to have the initiative and confidence to launch on out and do this kind of thing. That is so cool!

And what about this, hey?!?

Well, today (March 1st but much later, it's only a quarter to two in the morning right now - must go to bed!) I am the speaker for a group of ladies.  I can speak about anything I like.  Though I can prattle on happily to the Badger for hours and have plenty to say to my family and a bad habit of interrupting at meetings, I confess I have No Idea what to say to these ladies.  I mean, who are they?  What do they want to know?   Strange thing, being A Speaker.  Still, it doesn't happen to me very often these days.  "Come and speak," they said, "we need a Speaker."  
"About what?" I asked.
"Anything you like," they said.

Update.  Now, at breakfast time, having woke up with the sun and pottered about on Facebook for a while checking out Innermost House and various friends, I have discovered that this very day is World Book Day.  Relevant, right?  I'll let that be a starting point.


365 366 Day 60 Thursday March 1st  
(if you don’t know what I’m talking about, see here)

Well, I have a funky little needle-book (A what? This kinda thing) that I got from Made In Hastings where I store all my needles and pins, so I no longer really have a need for a pincushion.  Every now and then this would’ve come in handy, but I’d rather have the space.

Of Weddings, Fundraisers & Flower Girls!

Whew. It's been quite the crazy last few weeks...which would explain my being MIA!!! So I'm back, and ready to show you a few of the projects I've been working on! [I know you're dying to see them. ha]

Our youth fundraiser, the Sweet Sundae Shoppe, features ice cream desserts, along with homemade soups. We decided to go with a pink and white color theme, with black accents for a touch of elegance. I needed some sort of decoration for the tables, so my bestie & I took a trip to a little hole-in-the-wall joint in a nearby town, and found these antique glass medicine bottles, in all shapes and sizes! So fun. I sprayed them white for two reasons: to give them a fresh look & to cover up the hideous brown stains that just would NOT come out of them. The only downside: it took sooo much spray paint for 40 bottles...and I am no expert in this field! They weren't perfect, but cute!! [that counts for something, right?!]

The little ones are gracing my windowsill, and I feel happy inside every time I look at them!

The big ones are on a table in the dining room. I love carnations; they live a lonnng time!

The other part of my project: writing up a menu! 

The other major event was my brother-in-law's wedding last Saturday! It was beautiful and so much fun to be with family we hadn't seen in a while. I was in charge of making a banner, place cards & food cards. It kept me busy, but I enjoyed the challenge! Black and purple with accents of steel gray were the colors, so that's what I used.

the banner message is: "We've decided on forever!" [sorry it's nearly unreadable on this pic!]

name cards for the bridal table

cards for the cupcakes...mmm, they were delish!!


I also wrote out their vows and framed them. Did I mention that I love typography??!!

Oh, and these extremely good-looking people [aka: Best Man & Flower Girl]....
they're MINE!!! 

It seemed fitting to end with a picture of this little baby...she melts my heart! Can you see why?? Blessings on your Wednesday!!!

Needles and stuff to get through

I feel slightly in awe of the amount of stuff I have to do today.

I stand respectfully at the bottom of the mountain gazing up at its peak disappearing majestically into the clouds.

It makes Mount Fuji look like a pimple.

Therefore despite your inevitably bitter disappointment all I shall be doing today is telling you about needles.

See below.


365 366 Day 60 February 29th
 (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, see here)

I don’t know how this came about but I have acquired quite a quantity of needles over the passing years.

I think a surge in needle uptake occurred when I married Bernard.  His house at that time was like a shrine to his deceased wife Anne.  All her stuff was still there just as it always had been.  He spent a considerable proportion of the short while he and I were together before his death coming to terms with the end of the era of Anne and the beginning of the era of me, and sorting through her things.  This was good news for me because at first all I had was two drawers and half a cupboard, as Anne’s possessions occupied the rest of the space Bernard’s stuff left over.

As well as being a prolific artist, Annie made all her own clothes and had a work basket full of handy implements – a leather punch, a darning mushroom, a skein of sock yarn, a huge curved needle for stitching leather, a metal thing for determining the size of unmarked knitting needles; all kind of useful items.  And she had a lot of cottons and needles.

It was hard for Bernard to just get rid of anything that had belonged to his Annie, and easier to entrust it to me.  Nobody who knows my living habits would bother entrusting me with any heirloom, but occasionally people use me as a kind of alternative recycling bin – the soft version of throwing something away.

I think these needles are the last of Annie’s.  And I think the ones in the red card may have been given to me on one of the occasions when I officiated at a Chinese funeral. That was interesting.

A few years ago I came across a Japanese prayer to/for needles no longer wanted/useable and now to be laid to rest.  I found the prayer online but the person who put it there found it at a Shinto shrine.  It originates from a special Shinto festival that includes a memorial service for old needles (someone has blogged about this here).  I suppose this is disrespectful of me, so if you are into Shinto please forgive me, but it made me laugh a lot (despite its obviously considerable insight), because to my English mind it is so alien and unexpected.  It went like this:
Japanese Song of Gratitude to Needles
Hari kuy­õ, hari kuyõ
Thanks to you, O needles
We can lead a happy life
Thank you needles.
Let us all pray to the needles forever
Needles, needles, needles

You have to admit, there is something in it!  Where would we be without them?  So in parting from these needles that served both me and Annie well, I bow in reverence.  I wave to Annie on her Further Shore reunited with Bernard, and I send these needles on down the river of life as if they were a votive candle on the Ganges.  Cheerio!


Regarding the image of Mount Fuji at the top of this page:
The copyright holder of this file, Adam Cuerden, allows anyone to use it for any purpose provided that the copyright holder is properly attributed.  Redistribution, derivative work, commercial use and all other use is permitted.  Attribution: Adam Cuerden.


Simple complex life in its wholeness

Simplicity and holiness are bound up with one another, because “holiness” also means “wholeness” also means “integrity” also means “unity”.

“Universe” means “one-song”.

Sin is a fracturing, fragmenting or scattering of the pattern God is weaving, the web God is spinning, the mandala of creation.

The cross of Christ sits at the heart of creation reconciling all things to God and in/through God to each other, restoring the broken pattern, the torn web, re-making the scattered mandala.

This is the meaning of Christ’s words at the Feeding of the Five Thousand: “Gather up the fragments that are left, so that nothing may be lost.

In its oneness, life exhibits ultimate simplicity – it does not grasp, does not divi up God’s creation as spoils.

So all who come into connection with the Christ at the heart of creation become simple because they are given back their innocence and made whole.  Do I mean that?  I mean at least, they are healed.  Maybe their wisdom is the same thing as their scars: we never lose what has happened to us or what we have done, though through God’s grace and loving-kindness it may be integrated, healed forgiven.

Simplicity is the Quiet Eye, the ability to focus, what one might call single-mindedness; as Jesus said, "When the eye is single the whole body is full of light" (Luke 11:34).  When we lose our simplicity/integrity/holiness/Quiet Eye, fracturing and scattering begins, complication and accumulation.  And, as Toinette Lippe pointed out, all illness is a manifestation of some kind of accumulation, because "problems arise when things accumulate".

On the Innermost House Facebook page this morning is a wonderful post.  Here's an extract:

I got hold of Michael and he made a suggestion. When we first started this page he suggested that we look everything important up in the dictionary. He said that there is an "aboriginal wisdom" buried beneath the surface of words.
So this time he says to look up two words--Simple and Complex--and ask how one thing can be both at the same time.
We've already looked up simple, and that was useful because it helped us understand that it basically means "single"--as in the One thing as opposed to Many things. Remember that . . .  post Pen wrote on her own site about the Many and the Less and the One.
Complex was interesting. The first thing it says is: "composed of many interconnected parts; compound; composite: a complex highway system." Well that sounds somewhat like the mess we're in trying to figure this out. It also sounds a little like my underwear drawer.
But then I read about the history of the word and it starts to make a different sense. It says it means "composed of parts" alright--as in Many parts--but then it says it comes from an older word that means "surrounding, encompassing," and "to encircle, embrace," even "to comprehend." So complex it turns out isn't so much like my underwear drawer as it's like an ecosystem! (If my drawer ever becomes an ecosystem then I really will have problems).
But wait a minute I already know that. The question is how can something be simple AND complex. So I ask again, and this time he explains it more. He says that "the reason simplicity eludes us today is because it belongs to the condition of the beginning. And all the forces of history and modern life move away from the beginning. From where we stand we cannot go back, and we dare not go forward. We can only seek the wholeness that lies within us."
WHOLENESS, not Simplicity. Or anyway not just simplicity. That's a COMPLETELY new thought. A week or two ago one of us . . . said that Oneness had to do with Wholeness, so that the Simple Life was like the Whole Life. Complexity is a kind of wholeness, like an ecosystem is complex and whole.
Wow. This really is a startling conclusion. What if IH isn't really simple, or not just simple. What if it's more like an ecosystem, more like ONE...COMPLEX...WHOLE? Wouldn't that be both simple and complex at the same time?
Simple and complex and whole. Like an ecosystem. Like life. I've been saying I want simplicity. But maybe what I really want is Life.

I love that.

Innermost House Facebook page


365 366 Day 59 February 28th
 (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, see here)

Two things you can freeze to keep stuff cool in transit.  So eminently useful.  And I so never use them   

Zero zero zero zero zero and scissors

Well I have spent more time than seems reasonable trying to contact the Inland Revenue today.

Having experienced such spectacular lack of success trying to contact them by phone and as they hadn’t answered my letter, I walked the mile-and-a-half down the hill to the sea to their office in Ocean House to speak to the Sheriff of Nottingham in person.

The receptionist at Ocean House said I couldn’t do that because it was neither Wednesday nor Friday.  So I went home and called them on the phone again, this time getting through.

And when I made this phone call I had cause to bless God for our tenant Tracey who lived with us in our home in Aylesbury for a while.

There were many good things about Tracey, but the one that I have carried with me down the track long after our ways parted was something she taught me about phoning faceless organisations.  I don’t know if this works in the US.

Tracey (a social worker who knew all about faceless organisations) told me that when you have to phone a F.O., if the robot answering the phone starts a spiel giving you “press this, press that” options, you can cut the whole rigmarole short by repeatedly pressing zero.

Last week when I phoned the Revenue, I had to sit through an extended yadayada about all kinds of things from a robot before they bounced me offline.

So today when I called them and the robot picked up, as soon as she launched into her speech I pressed 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

There was a silence.

Then she said: “Okay.  Please hold while you are connected to an operator.”


There.  Isn’t that a secret worth knowing?

I spoke to Ian, a reasonable kind of Yorkshireman who agreed that yes indeed I had paid my taxes, and consented to pass on to the Faceless Bureaucrats my opinion that sending letters threatening bailiffs and unlimited fines might not be the wisest manner of opening a correspondence. 

Ian thought that if enough of us expressed this opinion – and he said I was not the first – the Revenue might even deem it churlish not to consider modifying its tone.


365 366 Day 58 February 27th
 (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, see here)

For some reason we had a chronic scissor shortage in the family where I grew up.

We had an ancient pair of kitchen scissors, completely blunt and somewhat given to coming apart.  I believe my mother had some nail scissors.  Later, during my teens, she acquired a pair of scissors with massive handles and teeny blades that she thought looked elegant, and had a large ball of string to go with them.  That was it.

I used the power of adulthood to equip myself more effectively in this area. 
Recently it got beyond a joke.  I had two pairs of nail scissors, two pairs of craft scissors, the five pairs of scissors that came free with the sewing machine, three pairs of kitchen scissors, plus the Badger had two pairs of scissors on his desk.

The ropier of the kitchen scissors were despatched to the Shed to become garden twine cutting implements.  The sewing scissors have gone to the sewing station, leaving one pair behind in the Garret to be General Scissors.  One of my pairs of nail scissors fell in half and I binned it.

This pair of craft scissors went with one of the children’s craft kits I made up for Freecycle.

We have to get over these areas of childhood deprivation somehow, don’t we; even in matters that cut as deeply as scissors.  

Sunday 26th February :0)

 Yesterday was the blur Sunday so often is.  Our church service is long, I like to be reasonably clean and tidy to attend public worship, then afterwards the Badger and I have taken to eating lunch (only on Sundays!) at the supermarket café until our kitchen remerges from its primeval soup.  We picked up the groceries the small local shops don’t have – fancy teas like nettle and sweet fennel, nettle and peppermint, nettle by itself; and cat food our aristocats can bear to eat. 

Then on to the garden centre to enquire about water-butts (failed quest) and pick up some low-growing herbs to interplant the stones under the arch that prevent a swamp developing at that point in the path. 

Briefly home, planted said plants, added more grass seed and covering compost to the ploughed field that will one day be our serene and beautiful lawned conversation space (have I told you about that?  The Buckingham Palace lawn?), subsided for an hour or two with a cup of tea and a book, then out to visit dear friends not seen in an age for supper.  

I realised that those outings are unusual now for me.  I visit my mother, and occasionally another old lady, but I no longer really socialise.  I see my immediate family, but I don’t go out much.  Our church is very community-minded, but I just go to worship and to the meetings of which I am the secretary, few other events.  Two hours is my absolute limit of social intercourse before I begin to feel so exhausted I feel almost frantic.  So it’s very rare for me to go out for a meal with friends now.  But they are dear to me.

So, that was yesterday and I didn’t post my 365.  However, because Blogger thinks the entire world is in the United Staes of America, I think this post will handily bear yesterday’s date (from the English time of day), so maybe I can think of something better worth reading than this tedious resumé of my day to post later on for today’s post (if you see what I meant). 


365 366 Day 57 February 26th (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, see here)

 Sewing cottons.  When we got our new sewing machine a year or so ago, it came with a freebie of a complete set of sewing cottons in every colour under the rainbow, 5 boxes of ’em!  And a set of sewing scissors, several different sizes.  So this collection of cottons became redundant and was accordingly Freecycled.
Excitingly, Alice and Hebe have decided to include a Sewing Station in their studio and relocate the stone bench (not a bench made of stone, the bench for stone-cutting).  This means there will be a permanent textiles corner with all the threads and the sewing machine and shelves for fabric bits and buttons etc, which will be BRILLIANT and hugely increase the likelihood of things getting done.  I’ll take a photo and show you :0)


Hey, that's impressive.  Even since that photo was taken we Freecycled the filter jug and the clock!  And used up the hand-soap and stopped buying it in plastic bottles like that, transferring to unpackaged natural soap from the wholefood co-op.  And can you see that small pale green oblong next to the filter jug?  That's a nylon scouring pad, not biodegradable and we used to get through quite a lot of them in fairly short order.  We scour with bicarbonate of soda instead now, with better results.

Anyway, welcome to the madhouse with its usual ailments and muddle.  Buzz’s iritis has been flaring up badly, the Wretched Wretch has a broken arm and the Badger has gout in his knee, not to mention a rattling cough.

Kitchenman, having taken the entire week to paint and fit 2 kitchen units (he was delayed, yes my friends, by cutting the worktop too short), promised faithfully to paint diligently in his caravan all yesterday (Friday), then spend the weekend fitting units in our kitchen.  Have we seen him?  Have we heck!

However, his presence in our home was not without impact.  When I came to put the old juicer on Freecycle I found to my surprise that the plug had been cut off.  Turned out Kitchenman didn’t want to spoil the nice units he’d made with the intrusion of a hole cut to pass through the plug for the washing machine so we can actually plug it in.  Since washing machines come with a sealed join uniting flex and plug, he couldn’t take it off.  No problem.  He simply cut it off.  And sourced a replacement from the juicer I'd earmarked for Freecycle.


Oh, and I had a letter from the Inland Revenue (God bless ‘em) during the week.  A pretty red letter, signed by Nobody, covered with Final Demands, threatening to send in the bailiffs, levy a penalty fine, charge interest on the amount outstanding, and demanding £2.5k this living instant.  Well, that would be entirely reasonable if I hadn’t paid them promptly on receipt of their initial demand 2 months ago.  I did try to phone them but there was nobody home to answer any of the three numbers I tried – no sir, not even when I waited 45 minutes listening to tuneless electronic “music”.

Anything else to tell you?

Well, the new issue of Resurgence has a beautiful cover, but I’m scared to open it and read it.  Abattoirs . . . factory farms . . .  How the term “inhumanity” came to be coined I shall never understand, I should think “humanity” covered it pretty well.

However, spring is here in Sussex – the kind of light misting rain that is exactly what the new grass seed on our ploughed up garden needs.  For the first time this year a couple of mornings back it was warm enough to have the window open and listen to the birds sing in the new day.  And I am reading a jolly good book called Countryside & Cloister written by Sister Marie Therese of Thicket Priory Carmelite Monastery in Thorganby.    And I enjoyed watching Goodnight Mr Tom (good film, even better book) on the telly this evening, even if the film-makers' idea of “Yorkshire” does not coincide with mine.

And today the Wretched Wretch came to play with his mother.  I walked along the Tricycle Route (back roads and alleyways) to meet them.  Even before I saw them I knew who was coming round the corner by the fierce growling and roaring of an approaching wolf intermittently insisting "Mummy!  Be a pig!"

So we sat by the fire and ate orange cake and did jigsaw puzzles and drank tea as if we were the happiest people on Earth which, notwithstanding Kitchenman, gout and the Inland Revenue, I think we probably are.

God bless you and keep you sane and healthy; try to be good.


from me


365 366 Day 56 (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, see here)

Oh, glory, was I glad to be rid of this!  I’ve toted this bag of accumulated stationary items with me through 4 house moves!  Can you believe, someone actually wanted it!  It went with one of my “Keep the kids busy in their school vacation” kits on Freecycle.  And the recipient was actually – get this – PLEASED!  We’re all different, aren’t we?

A Recipe Plan That May Actually Work

I enjoy many, many things throughout each day, mostly small things that create great joy. I’m not always sure what will spark a rush of happiness, quite often these joys change from day to day, from moment to moment even. That is... except for one. One of my very first thoughts each morning, almost immediately upon awakening is… what will I make for lunch today? Major jolt of joy. Seriously, the sun isn’t up yet, I’m not dressed or really even functioning, and I’m already planning our lunch. With great anticipation. Happy sigh… I’m giddy just thinking about what’s on tap for tomorrow (‘pizza’ topped with kale and leeks in case you were wondering. ;)  I love, love, love to eat. Except for my mother, I have yet to meet another person who enjoys eating quite as much as my family does. Truly, it is embarassing the sighs and moans that emanate from our dining room each and every day. ;)

Here's lunch for tomorrow...
The great thing is that when you eat the way we do, consciously and with food awareness, the worry and the guilt about food is nonexistent. It means that eating is great fun, all pleasure with none of the worries. As you can imagine, I have tons and tons of recipes. I  also have an entire file in my photos dedicated to dishes that I’ve managed to take pictures of, but never can seem to find the time to blog about. Since I only manage to get up a couple of posts per week, the recipes always get pushed to the back burner (tee hee, back burner). So, I’ve come up with a new plan. Whenever I have a spare moment I’m just going to add these recipes to my Scrumptious Recipes page, found over there on the side of my blog. Because if I wait until I ‘get around to it’, well, I’m not sure it would actually happen and that would surely be a shame. 

Super yummy Sunburgers
I am going to share one last tasty treat with you today though. It’s a recent find and already a favorite. Not too long ago, Claire over at Crafty Claireification, shared an avocado smoothie recipe. It called for both sugar and milk, neither of which we use, so I set about adapting it. This is nothing new, most every recipe I come across requires some tweaking to accomodate our diet choices. I had mentioned on a blog post last month that I’m trying to incorporate avocadoes into our diet and had started with Chocomole pudding, which we all devour happily. I was terribly excited to find another avocado addition, and here’s what I came up with ~ Jordan insists I call it Vegan Yogurt because it reminds her so much of the old days when yogurt was a daily snack. J 

Vegan Yogurt
3 ripe organic avocadoes
2 bags frozen organic strawberries (thawed)
1 bag frozen organic blueberries (thawed)
1 tsp stevia
¾ cup almond milk (see recipe below)

Of course you can use fresh fruit, but it isn't always easy to find organic berries around here unless they're in season. Frozen will do just fine. I did put aside a handful or two of the berries to throw in whole or sliced after the mixing. Add all the ingredients to the blender and puree. I had to stop once or twice to stir it all up because my berries weren’t totally thawed and it was slowing down the process, but after a minute or two I ended up with a super creamy, sweet, healthy and delicious snack. We all loved it so much that I made two batches in 2 days, and I have another three ripe avocadoes in the fridge just waiting for me…

I’m also going to pass along the almond milk recipe for anyone who’s interested. Jordan did a post on it awhile back which you can find on her blog, Rainbow Veins. She did a complete tutorial with photos, mine isn't quite as nice, or as thorough. ;)

Almond Milk
½ cup raw organic almonds
4 cups water
1 tsp organic vanilla extract

Soak ½ cup almonds in water for at least 4 hours. Drain, rinse, peel and rinse again. Add water, almonds and vanilla to the blender and puree for 2 minutes. If you’d prefer not to have tiny almond pieces in your milk, pour  the milk through a  piece of cheesecloth to remove. Jordan loves the pieces, I do not. J Store in glass containers in the fridge, and this milk will keep for several days. We use almond milk in our granola, in baking or the delicious Vegan Yogurt recipe that I shared above.
Ahhhh, I feel much better to have a plan for all of those delicious recipes just waiting in the wings. Of course I haven't managed to even get these two in there yet... ;)

Have a lovely, relaxing weekend one and all.

Peace & Blessings ~ Melinda

If you'd like to enter to win one of my decorated clipboards, head on over to my last post, also found here. I'll draw a winner next week. :)

A loss to the senses

Two of my favorite things in life are books and fabric. I can remember how in my high school study hall, held in the library, I was overwhelmed by all the books surrounding me, especially Carl Sandburg's Lincoln series, which I coveted for years until one day, through generous friends, I received my own precious set.  I still enjoy going to libraries and bookstores. I love the smell of books, the feel of my fingers around their edges, the physical motions of turning the pages, the heaviness or lightness of the book in my hands.  I had a friend once who had an intriguing habit of signing his name on the book's page that represented his age when he read it (e.g., if he read the book at age 41, he would sign page 41) for a small bit of personal historical documentation.   Of course, a book's primary purpose is for information/education or pleasure, and that in the end only depends on the written word, no matter how it is packaged and sold.

My other love is fabric - all kinds - quilting fabric as well as fabric to sew into clothes.  If I had to have lived in any place other than my home growing up, I would have divided my time between the library and Hancock's Fabrics.  Again, the overwhelming sensation of entering a fabric store is familiar to quilters and seamstresses - the overpowering sense of color that jars the senses, the smell of all that new fabric, and, of course, the ultimate in sensation, which is the feel of the fabric.  From denim to velvet, cotton to tweed, I have always loved to "fondle" the fabric.  Again, fabric's purpose is in its use, regardless of how it is packaged and sold.

I find the tactile, olfactory, and visual stimulation from these objects heartwarming.  Both collections of books and fabric make my head swirl and calm down at the same time.  Both demand a response from my imagination - how will I take what I am reading and make use of it in my life?  This book has the power to the life-changing for me!  It can transform me, it can make me healthier, it can make me relax and laugh and it can open my eyes and be aware, and, yes, it can make me cry.  Every book, good or bad, demands a response from me.

It's the same thing with fabric.  On the bolt, it sits there without purpose, but people who sew don't see it just on the bolt or folded on a table; we see it as a dress, a blouse, a skirt, a pair of pants, a Halloween costume, a curtain, an apron, a stuffed animal, part of an incredibly beautiful quilt, and countless other ideas overpowering our creative brains.  Fabric certainly demands a response - before it is ever cut and bought.   Sometimes there is no idea or plan, but the fabric itself is so appealing that you buy it as an object whose future is uncertain and entirely open.  Sometimes the fabric just calls to you...and you respond as if in a trance.

I thought about these two classifications of things I love this week as I am reading the news on my iPad and browsing through and  Oh boy, am I in the digital age or what?  And the news I read yesterday?  A local bookstore chain in Maine is going out of business after decades of existence.  There's a Mr. Paperback in Ellsworth and it's our only local bookstore.  Immediately I felt guilty.  I used to spend a lot more money there before I bought an iPad.  Now I read most of my books digitally.  In fact, digital book reading was cited in the article as one of the reasons for the closing - people just don't read regular books much anymore.   The iPad is so convenient - no matter where I am or what I'm doing, my books are by my side.  Of course, holding an iPad is not anything like holding a book, and as much as they try to simulate the book experience by "swiping" pages that "turn" and giving you options to "highlight" and "write" notes, it's still a computer.  It has none of the character of a book, and certainly none of that ink and paper aroma.  There's no variation between a heavy book and a light book - they all weigh exactly the same: the weight of an iPad.

And the fabric?  That's been a bit harder for me.  Our Joann's Fabrics in Bangor is the only large fabric store in our area, and even this, there is a limit to what they can carry, especially since over half the store is dedicated to other crafts, scrapbooking, etc.  I'm very tempted to get some fabric online, but even when I enlarge the sample fabric picture, I'm still looking at a computer screen.  Colors may be off, you can't really see what it looks like, and you certainly can't touch it.  But I know many people who have been exceptionally pleased with fabric purchases from well-established Internet sites such as these.  Certainly in Maine, choices are limited in everything locally.  We're kind of "at the end of a dirt road" in the world of shopping.  The Internet is a godsend for people in out-of-the-way places who would never be able to enjoy the choices it provides.  Joann's seems to do a brisk business, and I am hoping they are around in Bangor for a long time, but you never know.

I love technology, really I do.  I love my iMac and iPad and can't imagine life without them.  But I'm sad this week, because I have the niggling feeling that we have lost something in the process.  The very thing that drew me to "in-person" interaction with my beloved books and fabric is shifting; it is disappearing as fast as the brick-and-mortar bookstores themselves.  The ad with the catchy tune, "The touch, the feel of cotton...the fabric of our lives," is hard to measure against when one is peering at a square of fabric on a computer screen, trying to read a definition of something that can't really be defined in words because yes, it has to be touched and felt and interacted with in a very intimate way.

I'll probably be buying some fabric online soon, and I'll still be reading my books on my iPad, but I'll be the first to admit - it's just not the same.  I fear something precious is disappearing from the landscape - and it's a loss to us all.

More on meaning

Of course church life depends to some extend on its finances and its bricks and mortar to proceed.

Of course the creation of beauty in artefacts is a worthwhile endeavour, and the church is one of few remaining communities offering patronage to artists and craftsmen.

Of course sublime music lifts the human spirit, at times near to heaven.

Of course the ancient buildings of the Church – I think of Ely Cathedral, I think of York Minster – speak to us of mystery and summon a sense of the numinous in a way most places in modern life simply do not.

Of course having a building and staffing the church with paid clergy can contribute towards the proclamation of the Gospel and the rescue of souls from the various miseries into which humanity so easily falls.


Did we ever need to be so anal about the flower rota, so disproportionately concerned about the routines and requirements of the choir or so passionately focused on the location of the tea-serving-station?  Yes, we had to consider the security of the building, but was it worth splitting the church council over which kind of fence we had?  Naturally we have to adequately insure the various museum pieces that have clung to us over the years, but is it really worth twenty minutes of animated discussion in the Church Council?

I never ever expected when I was ordained into the ministry of the church that nobody would want to come to the prayer meetings, nobody would be interested in discussing theology, but I would spend the greater part of my time at meetings and sorting out fights. 

As a preacher, the most frequent advice/request I received was “Keep it short” – even, “Keep it short because the match is on at lunchtime and I want to be home in time for the kick-off.”  As a chaplain I was asked to “Float about and serve the sherry”. 

And time and again, in every church setting, the question returns to me with gathering force as the years pass by: “Why on earth are we doing/discussing this?”

Meetings layered around meetings, proliferating admin, enough red tape to bandage Westminster Abbey – a club swollen with bureaucracy tottering ponderously and pompously into irrelevance.

Sometimes, especially after a PCC meeting, I think that’s all the Church is.   My teeth set on edge by the tedium, the sheer mind-numbing boredom as we lovingly pore over for the nth time the insurance valuation of the bleep-dang painting, I ask myself “Whyever we are doing this, why am I here?”

And then . . . I watch the communion queue on a Sunday morning; the ancient frail old ladies in their woolly hats and beady little eyes, the ones pushed in wheelchairs by employees from the care home, the ones with learning disabilities, the ones I know are here because they were so desperately wounded by what was said to them or done to them elsewhere, the ones who are lonely and struggling, misfits, broken people.  And among them the clever, the educated, the sophisticated few; all joining the queue to receive in humility the Body of Christ . . . broken for you . . . the Blood of Christ . . . shed for you . . . and all feeding also upon the simple human kindness which is the trademark of our church – an inexhaustible generosity of kindness that is the touch of Jesus on the bewildered mind, the troubled spirit, the bruised soul.

The artificial injection of meaning into the tortuous administration of ecclesiastical affairs, the misguided sweating of the petty stuff that is the church’s chronic disease – these turn me off so absolutely that I am forever on the brink of leaving altogether.

But it’s when I see the kindness . . . the undeserved, forgiving, gentle loving-kindness . . . that I am moved to worship; “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I didn’t know.”


365 366 Day 55 (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, see here

A sticky-tape dispenser.  I had two.  I added the one with tape in it to a craft kit I put together for Freecycle.  The empty one I threw away after I discovered I couldn’t buy refills in the shops near me – they all came with dispensers.  Then I discovered that the Badger had a really good heavy-duty dispenser on his desk (with tape in it).  I know I can get refills in the shops down in town, so I’ll just use the Badger’s and contribute a refill from time to time.

Yes, Another One... Giveaway Time!!

Today, on this warm and mostly sunny February afternoon, I am on cloud nine. I truly do feel lighter than air. Why is that, you may be wondering (c’mon, play along, it involves another giveaway…;) The reason is that, yet again, I have finished my annual spring cleaning of the basement. (Wild cheering to be heard from me!) No, technically it isn’t spring yet, but with temps in the 50’s and longer, lighter days, my mind has been lulled into believing it has arrived early. As a result the deep, dark depths of my home are clean, sorted and organized once more ~ ahhhhh.

Half of this is camping supplies and the other half is holiday decorations. All neatly stored in bins
I know that you’ve only heard me say 200 (thousand) times that I thrive in simple and organized surroundings. Not just one or the other, but both, working in perfect harmony together. I have a schedule that works for me, and keeps me on top of my housework instead of drowning beneath it. For example, today at some point, when I feel so inclined, I’ll move through the house and water plants, dust and polish. Yesterday was animal cages, and tomorrow will be bathrooms. In this way it all gets done in small chunks and I don’t have to sacrifice ‘my time’ in order to keep the house the way I like it. As I said, this all works beautifully except for… the basement.

Probably by most standards it is a relatively clean space, it drives me crazy however. Pull my hair out crazy. Perhaps it wouldn’t be so bad if I didn’t have to go down there countless times during the day, but I do. Repeatedly. The woodstove needs to be fed regularly, and I’ve got two chest freezers holding bulk baking goods that have me running up and down, over and over. Time and again the mess is brought to my attention.

I did move some furniture out of the basement during the latest cleaning spree, but most all of this stuff is handmade by Scott and I won't throw it away. I figure one day I'll have empty rooms and they will have a home once again. :)
You many be wondering how this mess even begins, considering my (abnormal) degree of tidiness. It’s simple really, my girls have grown up around me, and consequently adopted many of my clean habits. As a result of that there is always someone de-cluttering. Most recently Riley Mae sorted through her closet, just because it needed it, with no prodding or prompting on my part. Any time someone (me) rearranges rooms, furniture gets carried down two flights of stairs to take up residence will all of the other current homeless pieces. Every time someone de-clutters, it ends up keeping those discarded furniture pieces company. As you can imagine, over time it grows and grows and grows.

My mother and I have an agreement, she takes unwanted junk off of my hands, and then whatever money she makes off of it is hers, either through yard sales or consignment. If it doesn’t fit into either category, it ends up donated to the thrift store or put out by the side of the road with a free sign attached. Things disappear with remarkable speed in this way! In between purgings the basement becomes the holding area for these items, building until I want to seal off the stairs and never venture down there again.

This woodstove heats three floors of our home (including the basement). It was a worthwhile investment and is our only heat source now. Scott gathers most of the wood himself and our dependency on oil shrinks...
Strangely I’m not usually aware of how much the clutter affects my balance and well-being until it’s  been removed, and I feel as though a giant weight has been lifted off of my shoulders. I’m delightfully free and unencumbered, my relief is so great. That is the place where I find myself today, for the third day in a row. I’m glad this feeling lingers, I like it very much. It makes me so giddy I want to give stuff away. (No, not basement junk. ;) While I was down there cleaning though, I came across a box of clipboards that I had made. New, and never used they were nonetheless relegated to the dungeon because the paper I had used to create them wasn’t recycled, and so no longer fit my green criteria for my shop, Backyard Dreams. Of course, they aren’t doing anyone any good hanging out down there, so I thought I’d begin by giving one away to one of my delightful followers. All you’ve got to do is leave me a comment and I’ll choose a winner next week. J

This actually is recycled paper, but it has my old shop name on the back!

For the dog lover...

The winner gets to choose whichever of these boards strikes her fancy. The backsides are also decorated

Recycled paper again! :)
Now I'll be off. Perhaps a cup of hot tea and a bit of time reading my book (I'm currently deeply immersed in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and I'm LOVING it!) will be in order. After all, the basement is clean for another year... I deserve a reward of some sort. ;)

Peace & Blessings ~ Melinda