October 2017


It came to me this morning that the work of this moment in time, for me, for all of us, is to get un-confused

…about what we truly care about, how we want to spend our days, what we want to be a part of and what we don’t, what we want to keep and what we ought to let go, where to look and listen and where to turn away. It is important for this time we are living in, with its flood of information and ideas. Especially now, as the threshold of the holidays nears and our expectations and to-do lists grow. I felt this so strongly, as I sat in the sunshine before breakfast, reading words from an earlier time, feeling a portion of the clutter in my mind fall away.

For the past several years I’ve thought of November as my Advent for Advent…a time to prepare the way for a less fraught, more quietly joyful December. And it has brought me that in part, but never nearly enough. It became so clear to me (again!) this morning, that I still look outside myself for too much…plans, approaches…when I know what I love and what I need. And what I am really looking for is just a little encouragement, some companionship and a few lovely breadcrumbs to lead me along my own path.

All of the rest only adds to the confusion already in attendance.

Life is precious, as are our days…both the ordinary and the festive. This morning, in the sun, it seemed absurd to think of allowing another November and December to hurry me along through all that I want to savor, or to face the crowning of the year with a sigh (however quiet.) Tho’, of course, there will be sighs and tiredness and rush…just less as the years circle around is my hope. And more of the simple pleasures, the spaciousness to enjoy them, and the time and energy to capture them.

I know what the keys are to opening these doors…I believe we all do. It’s just the finding of them, over and over again, that we sometimes forget how to do. Understanding this today is giving me new energy and clarity for what I want for myself and my home in the next few months. And it has clarified what I want to create at Wisteria & Sunshine, to help us remember where we put our keys and which doors we want to go through as Autumn deepens and Winter nears…

Hoping you are as fond of metaphors as I am, for I have so many helpful ones dancing in my thoughts now…of our ancestresses with their household keys dangling from their waists, always with them…of Mary Lennox and her robin finding the key to the secret garden…of open doors and locked doors and dream doors and all they represent. And that reminds me…

Wisteria & Sunshine’s doors are open for just another week or so, when it will close until the New Year

…for I’ve realized that it all feels more cosy and restful there if I can settle in after a time of welcoming and focus on sharing and tending, lighting candles and having conversations. And I am aware this post is feeling a little like an advertisement! When it is actually the coming together of so much in a peaceful hour this morning…and the simple sharing of it with you. xo

a kinder kitchen

Gentle…honest…real…that is always my intention when I write here…

Yesterday, I heard on the radio that Chinese scientists have genetically modified pigs, with genes from mice, to better withstand the cold…and to produce leaner meat. That report and the ones I’ve read online always spin the story towards “less suffering” for the pigs. But the truth is, it lowers the cost of heating the huge factory-farming sheds where 97% of pigs are raised in the US and the numbers are similar across the world, where the industrial-raising of meat is growing by leaps and bounds.

I don’t know if any part of what I write this morning will sound as lyrical as it sometimes does in this space, tho’ it comes from the same place those writings do…my heart. We’ve been focusing on the kitchen and cookery at Wisteria & Sunshine in October. Talk about webs! Our food webs are the most tangled webs of all that we’ve woven over the years. And the animal-woven ones, the heaviest for our planet…and our spirits, if we are paying attention. And we must pay attention, or the corporations and the scientists and the businessmen will keep trying to satisfy our appetites more efficiently and cheaply…and hope we aren’t noticing how they are going about it.

At the end of my post I will share a very few links that will bring it home to you, if it needs bringing home. An interesting term of speech that… “bringing it home.” I wrote a small ebook called A Kinder Kitchen for my Wisteria & Sunshine members…for kindness in our cooking and shopping is the missing ingredient in our modern food systems. If are fortunate enough to have sustainable, thoughtful farms around you and have taken the time and given the energy and focus to weaving your own gentler food web around you…I bow to you. If you know of all the problems yet are overwhelmed by finding the answers for you and your family, let’s keep making the connections together, getting real, taking steps. And if you don’t know of all of the problems, or don’t want to, I must gently ask you to open your heart and mind to it, be brave, take on the responsibility of the webs you weave with the gifts of the earth and its creatures.

Bring it home Get to the heart of a matter, make perfectly clear. For example, The crash brought home the danger of drinking and driving. This term uses home in the figurative sense of “touching someone or something closely.” [Second half of 1800s]
In my Kinder Kitchen ebook, I shared that I am not sure that “being the change you wish to see in the world” is enough anymore. The webs being woven are so far-reaching, so murky, so complex that it can feel as tho’ they don’t touch us closely, and it is easy to remain unawakened. I know the feeling myself…when I buy that carton of organic milk, knowing that milk can be labeled organic yet the cows raised unnaturally and cruelly. Or the fish I allowed my tastebuds to choose for a several years until I recently began reweaving that strand of compassion. But just imagine  if we women, in our homes of privilege, around the world, made a kinder kitchen a priority? If we made moves, both small and large, that would ripple out to the corporations and the scientists they pay and first stop this tide of burden from and suffering from growing and then turn it back towards something more loving? Imagine that. The pocketbook speaks more loudly than anything else and we are holding them.
For too long, the hearts of our homes have been tangling up the web of life, even tho’ we may not see it. Isn’t that a confusing facet of it? Our kitchens can feel, and in so many ways are, places of nourishment and comfort. But when we look a little deeper, and make the connections, it is distressing to recognize how much we are a party to that we would not truly wish to be…
And all of this can change…the moment you decide to source your meat and dairy locally and pastured…or give it up altogether. The ice-cream habit that you break. The pastured eggs you start making a little out-of-the-way trip to buy. The lattes you forgo. The adventures in cheesemaking you enjoy with the local milk you’ve found. The factory-farmed chicken you wean your children from and the convenience of big box grocery stores you wean yourself from. The bacon-in-everything-these-days you refuse. The rice and beans and veggies you make closer friends with.
After these October weeks of kitchen focusing, and exploring all of my options around here for local dairy, I’ve decided to go vegan again for awhile. There is a pastured cow farm a few hours away that delivers raw milk to the city an hour away from us, and for awhile I entertained lovely visions of cheesemaking again and indulging more often in the dairy foods I love. But holding the idea for a few days and picturing the reality of having to make that trip every week, even with timing it around other forays to town…I knew the burden might outweigh the goodness. Not to mention the plastic-only bottles! So instead, I will rein back greatly on the dairy I fell back into buying since our time in Ireland and turn towards the staples of grains and beans, veggies and our own hen’s eggs and keep noticing my kitchen and shopping weavings…paying attention to the trembling along its strands when I feel them…and trying to create and tend my web ever more gently…
(no horrible photos, just the facts to know if you eat storebought pork and want to understand the webs of factory-farming)
(from Pigling Bland. Beatrix Potter farmed on a level that made sense, for humans, the earth and the animals. Old books, of all sorts, can show us so much about more wholesome food webs…)
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