Courage, dear heart

The Michaelmas Season is here. I've written about Michaelmas many times here. I've celebrated the symbols of courage, strength, and energy that come with this season. I've enjoyed watching the children reenact St. George and the Dragon, pick apples, run races, and enjoy the harvest.

This year, this season of courage came home to all of us in a different way. We lost a husband, grandfather, teacher, friend at our school while he was helping to prepare for this big day.  His wife had just brought her 8th grade class back from their sailing trip and everyone was exuberant preparing for this big festival.

One of the school's teachers reminded me of this quote from C.S. Lews. In Voyage of the Dawn Treader, there is a scene where, when things seem their worst, something flies by Lucy-- a bird in the dark. She smell's Aslan's familiar scent, and the bird whispers in his voice, "Courage, dear heart."

For this Michaelmas season, instead of the image of a dragon being conquered by a courageous knight, I hold the images of ships finding new directions at sea and lions sending great courage.

I hold this in my meditations for myself, our school, and my friends who have lost beloved spouses so very suddenly this year.


Top Ten Books

There's a meme out on the internet right now where friends are listing their top ten books. I love writing about books (and have listed many on my blog over the years), so I thought I'd give it a try.

The two most influential authors from my childhood were Laura Ingalls Wilder and Louisa May Alcott. I read all the Little House books and many of Louisa May Alcott's.  It was after re-reading them with my girls that I realized how much of their writing I have carried with me throughout my life. Laura Ingalls Wilder and Louisa May Alcott provided me with an "inner view" of history. It was through their writing that I began to envision the past. I grew up with an idea that history was about ordinary people living out their lives and this influenced my approach to history as an adult.

I think I learned more about history from James Michener than I did from any high school history class. I remember finding those thick books on the shelves at my local library and just plowing through them--Chesapeake and Hawaii were both favorites.

The influential reads from my college years also take on a history theme. Two books rise to the top:

In Small Things Forgotten and The Transformation of Virginia. These two books helped me to see how historians use material culture to make sense of the past.  After reading The Transformation of Virginia, I saw the landscape in entirely new ways.

While I continued to read many, many history books after college (I got an MA in history), the books that rise to the top are all focused on family life.

We were well on our way with Waldorf Education when I read Mitten Strings for God. Katrina Kenison helped me think about how to integrate our family life with Waldorf Education.

Barbara Kingsolver's, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle was one of those books that helped define a new path for our family's nutrition. I have always loved books about food, but this one actually pushed us to make some changes toward local food and we've never looked back.

My mother's book, Our Own Snug Fireside, is another book that I just have to list for this phase of my life. I said it best in a previous post: Her work has truly shaped what I have wanted for my own family--a home filled with traditions, handwork, and a yearly rhythm of foods and activities shaped by the New England seasons.

Colleges that Change Lives was integral to the college search. The author articulated an approach to education that seemed like a natural next step after Waldorf. Passionate teaching, residential communities, holistic admissions policies, and a focus on personal growth became the parameters in our search.

So, if I'm following the internet MEME, I have one book left to list. I've just turned 50 and I am at a turning point. I'm not sure what the 10th book should be. I find myself being quite introspective these days, reading some poetry, memoirs, and meditations. I think I'll list book #10 in a few years.


Bittersweet Times

We sent our first-born off to college last month and it has taken me all this time to feel ready to write about it.  It has been a bittersweet time.

We all made the drive. We all settled her in. Nelson built her a set of portable drawers. Liz unpacked her desk. I made her bed.  We left her for the night, relieved we didn't have to say "goodbye" just then.
The next day was filled with ceremony--bagpipers, processions, photographs, and speeches.
It was a lovely welcome for the class of 2018.

It had to end, however, and it was so hard.
It was so hard to watch these two sisters say their farewells.

We let her go.
She walked toward her dorm. We walked to the car and began the journey home.

We were OK though. We knew she was in the right place. We knew she was ready.
And we really knew all would be well when we received the text that she had baked cookies--slice and bake on foil--but nevertheless a treat for her entire hall.

Since then, we've learned a lot.
We've learned how to Skype. And, wow, do we live for those moments of seeing our HAPPY girl.

We've learned how to mail all sorts of crazy these stilts.

We've rearranged the table which is now set for three.

And, we've learned that we're still a family, growing up just the way we're supposed to be.
We have one girl spreading her wings and one girl nestled in and getting more attention from her parents. It is just as it should be.

 We miss our girl, but we are all GOOD. 


Final days before college

Helen has a bucket list of things she wants to do before leaving for college. They included going out to a movie with her Dad, eating at her two favorite restaurants, and getting in some mountain time. Last weekend fulfilled one item on her list...

Lots to think about before leaving.

It is now down to the final couple of days. We're packing and packing.
I sewed her a new sleepsack/blanket for her bed. I found in my sewing basket a scrap of the trim I had put on the blanket I sewed her for first grade naptime. 

She has been baking away her anxiety. 
She has baked something every single day ...and sometimes at night.

This is what I smelled at 1 a.m. and found when I got up this morning.
I'm taking them to my interns at work.  We are all tired of cookies.

The mountains, some crafting, a lot of baking...not bad ways to keep busy before such a big moment.


Summer Vacation Days with Family

Vacation found us all together in a Maine cabin by the sea.
We had some rainy days and the girls did a lot of baking...

...and knitting.

Hats were the pattern this year.
Here is the first hat off the needles.
They are a bit more useful than the many, many gnomes they knit one year.


This hat wasn't such a success.

We always love to find a good bookstore and coffee shop.

Puzzles are a must.

We also spent time on the water.

Many, many thanks to our dear friends who loan us their cabin every year.

 The final hat was completed in the car on the way home.

We stopped to visit my brother and his family.
The girls just had to have this photo!

Well...I promised this wouldn't go on Facebook, but never mentioned the blog.
My brother, gentleman farmer.

It has been quite awhile since we have all had time to just hang out.
It was wonderful.

Before heading home, we took my father out to the Isles of Shoals for a 70th birthday celebration.
What a fun day!

My brothers, my parents, and me!

My brothers got my father a birthday treat. It was 5:00 somewhere in the world.
Definitely not on the boat...

It was a lovely week by the sea with family.
Just what we needed.


Tutorial: needle-felted figures

tutorial: Balloon Lanterns

tutorial: neede-felted advent spiral

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