a blogging renaissance & august gifts

These days
Lifting myself up
Like a heavy weight,
Old camel getting to her knees,
I think of my mother
And the inexhaustible flame
That kept her alive
Until she died.

She knew all about fatigue
And how one pushes it aside
For staking up the lilies
Early in the morning,
The way one pushes it aside
For a friend in need,
For a hungry cat.

Mother, be with me.
Today on your birthday
I am older than you were
When you died
Thirty-five years ago.
Thinking of you
The old camel gets to her knees,
Stands up,
Moves forward slowly
Into the new day.

If you taught me one thing
It was never to fail life.”

-May  Sarton


Hmmm…I went looking for a May Sarton something to share, something with a nod to August…the waning summer…but I found this, instead. And it suits, if only because I know this feeling so well, especially in these August days when this recent mono relapse ebbs and flows, according to its whim. Of course, I don’t see myself as an “old camel” just yet, even when the heaviness descends, but it does feelingly describe the effort needed sometimes.

No lily-staking for me, tho’ early this morning I did manage to find and toss to the hens the pickling cucumbers that grew to enormous size while I was otherwise occupied…and the summer squash. And I was able to fill my shop with lovely, textury, tree-free School Year notebooks and calendars and planners. And a sweet, restful, wonder-filled visit from a dear old friend was delighted in.

I don’t think often in terms of failure, but as I get older, “to never fail life” seems a very good aim. In the little ways of lilies and friends in need and hungry cats, if not in larger ways. But also in not failing ourselves…our gifts…our dreams. It’s so easy to be distracted and diverted. I am trying to stay focused on clearing the quieter path I keep mentioning, yet my steps have really slowed this month…as they do sometimes. Your responses help me to keep me going, tho’, keep me getting to my knees again and again, keep me finding peaceful ways. It’s so important not to feel alone. Let’s keep talking about it all!

And so, to our Blogging  Renaissance

I’d like to share with you what has made blog-reading a pleasure again for me…after I gave up bloglovin’ years ago because it was so commercial and materialistic…and then didn’t even give any of the feed-readers a chance because they are overwhelming and ugly…and found visiting through bookmarks tedious. The idea isn’t mine, tho’ I can’t remember where I came across it (please let me know if you are reading!) but it is so elegantly simple…


This is mine, at Blogger, because they have the “blog list gadget” that keeps the newest posts at the top and I can easily see if there is something new to read…if someone is ‘at home’ to visit. It wasn’t made for anyone’s eyes except my own, but I am quite glad to share it, and hope that in the near future, there will be more such pages to explore and wander amongst. This one was made three and a half years ago, tho’ I updated the photo (from my Rosehip Ceremony-xo tonia) because it beautifully evokes what blog-reading can be…an intentional visit with a gathering of kindred spirits.

When I logged into Blogger, for the first time in a long while, I was reminded that Google now owns it, so I will soon be finding out whether a wordpress.com blog has a blog-following widget. If so, as part of my disengaging from the matrix, I will move my little blog-following page elsewhere. And I’d like to find more blogs to add to my list (tho’ not too many.) And get better about leaving comments.

Tho’ it’s taken almost a year to bring into being this new rhythm of being online, it’s beginning to settle in. I’ve posted three times in the past six weeks (almost fortnightly-my aim) and look forward to seeing how this rhythm, this practice, will deepen and unfurl. As well, I look forward now to the half hour on the porch, once or twice a week when I sit down with my laptop and go a’ wandering. Instagram is still in my life, but it’s lost its luster and feels like more of a tool than a distraction now.

I’d like to keep the Blogging Renaissance conversation going for awhile…see if we can really breathe some life into it. So there will be another chapter soon, and some Monarch chrysalises, no doubt, and garlic chive blossoms and some of the other-myriad-ways we keep our own “inexhaustable” flames aglow.

the real adventure

“Today there are fewer places to discover, and the real adventure is to stay home.”

This sentence has given me food for thought since I first came across it in the nineties, in the introduction to a collection of G.K. Chesterton essays put together by Father Alvaro de Silva. I wanted to use it as the motto of The Bower (my original little homemaking magazine) and wrote to Father de Silva asking for permission, which he graciously gave. Two decades along, it is becoming the motto for what I feel is my work at the moment, to get back home in all the ways that can mean, but especially in how I work and spend my time.

Looking back on the last several years, since getting back to earning a living after caring for my mom ended in late 2012, I see that I became something of a wanderer in the online world…both in the participating and the partaking…Facebook, Google plus, Instagram, Pinterest, Etsy, free webinars, forums, teaching sites, email lists, group after group after group of one sort and another. Most all of this searching and experimenting was in search of new ways to find my people, as the whole pattern of my doing business had unraveled in the years I was my sweet mother’s caregiver…the devoted customers at the shows I did, the whole world of Small Meadow Press, my creative orientation, really.

If you are mostly online for pleasure and practical reasons, it may be hard to understand how far away from home one can wander in the online world when one is there-in the main-for one’s livelihood. If you aren’t finding the success you want, or are used to (as I was pre-2009) there are So Many People and courses out there offering help in finding your way. And I have an inkling that there are certain personalities (raising my hand) who are ever curious and hopeful and aspiring and are ripe for all that the interwebs now offer. Perhaps this is what they call “shiny object syndrome?” I certainly found some goodness amongst all the dross, but tho’ some of the places I ended up had looked inviting, in the end, they never felt home-like.

Some of what I am trying to put into words is just the inevitable swing of the pendulum that we experience in many realms of life. We go quite far in one direction for awhile, then we know it is time to correct, to balance, and we swing back aways. This happens often in the material realm, as the over-full thrift stores reflect. But the balancing going on for me now is in the spiritual and mental realms…and the down-to-earth realm of crafting a life, and a business. However it might be described, I see the mists of the last many years lifting, and have found the path home and am taking first steps.

What is home to me in the online world? It is this blog. And Wisteria & Sunshine (surprise! another blog.) This is what feels comfortable, sheltered and nourishing to me. Everything else these days is receiving my careful attention and…

How does it feel?

How do I feel about who owns it and how it works?

Is it an important piece of the patchwork of my life and work, or are there alternatives that fit more beautifully into the whole?

This is where my thoughts are in all the spare moments these days, when I am not watching swallows encircling the sky above fields, drinking in the sunsets, designing lovely pages in my studio, navigating the latest hormonal symptoms or resting on the porch sofa. It feels like a real heart & soul task, to untangle our earnest, loving lives and businesses from the snarled, artificial tangle so many of the platforms and companies have made it. I know it’s not very Lesley-like to say, but I feel my job these days is to “stick it to the man” as the phrase goes, in creative and gentle ways. To not become too much a part of the matrix. And, indeed, it does feel like an adventure, one which will bring me ever closer home.

Will you be joining me as I clear a likely path?