It’s that time of year again. The time where I feel a bit more overwhelmed than usual. There is a difference though. Instead of mercilessly pushing myself to keep up, I’m drawing a line in the sand for myself and staying on the saner, quieter side. This does not mean I’m missing out on anything. I’m just giving myself lots of introvert schedule padding to keep me from becoming a live action installment of Edvard Munch’s The Scream. So far so good. No meltdowns.

I’m re-examining the budget again. I’ve had a fun year of traveling and doing fun things and buying cool stuff while my kids were out of the house. Surprisingly having a little extra money means that I can indulge myself in some good stuff and some silly stuff. But once again I feel like I’m filling any momentary lack of feeling good with STUFF. It may be high quality stuff, but it’s still stuff.

I’m going to try again from Jan 1 on to only replace broken things and worn out stuff. Worn out stuff includes that jacket I bought 15 years ago which isn’t what I wanted/needed and has the delightful added benefit of making me feel like I want to flay myself alive because it itches. But it was on SALE if you must know.

It will also include me going to sell a few items on Craigslist. While that terrifies me, I really need to.

I want to get back to yoga. Write something on the blog weekly. And, get my closet in order with things that fit, look good and don’t itch me.

I also want to have a massage once a month to reduce my back pain even more.

I want to actually learn how to play the ukulele.

Keep my workouts to 5 or 6 times weekly.

There you have it. The beginnings of a plan to make life simple, healthy and sweet.

Also. If a really big rock fell on my neighbors RV. I would not be sad.

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Wonder Sweetie and I went to the Out and About Treesort over the labor day holiday. This is a seriously great place to get away from it all because even before you see the Neverland mural on the wall of the stage/craft area you already feel like one of Peter Pan’s lost boys.

Our arrival was heralded with a chorus of squeaking. Something both Marc and I attributed to the Prius having suddenly lost some essential part that kept the tires from falling off or the bumper from wiggling. Wrongly, as it turned out. It was the sound of people bounding across the gangways that were suspended between the trees at the Treesort. Pure undimmed joy. We had an open invitation to be kids.

This is a long drive to the wilds of Southern Oregon. Once you get there it is totally worth it There is a fire pit, a creek that fills a sunny pool for wading or dipping or soaking. Horses, zip lining and characters galore. LOTS of characters. I think it’s safe to say that some of these characters have had more than a passing acquaintance with a certain herbal remedy, but more on that later.

We ventured out early Saturday morning to Jedediah Smith state park to find us some redwood trees. I don’t think I have words to describe the feeling while communing with a cathedral of giant trees. They have been around for a really long time and to use a cliche, they make you feel really small, in a good way.

That night we went to dinner at a sushi and barbecue restaurant. Seriously, only in Oregon right? We went for the sushi and found ourselves in an alternate universe. The universe of the cash only, herbal crop supported world. Duh duh dunnnnn. We were in pot farmer country!

Things that seemed a little off at first suddenly made sense. That skunky smell everywhere after dark. The number of people who paid cash for everything. The road that had EXTRA high fences as we went by. You know what? Live and let live.

Over that weekend I slept 12 hours straight after I had a celebratory birthday margarita. We explored the Oregon Caves monument, saw Ashland (first time since high school for me) and just hung out.

The best memory I have is of a stop we made to a river access point on the Smith river. It was warm and beautiful and we sat on the bank and soaked up the sun till the weariness of the weeks of work melted off of our shoulders and the river carried it away.

Thankfully one of my memories that was not made was of me trying to zip line. The ghost of my trip to the water slides still haunts.

I’m always surprised by the things I feel when I’ve had some downtime. A 4 day weekend in Southern Oregon followed by another on Salt Spring. I’ll need to make an entry regarding the Treesort but for now I’ll write about Salt Spring.

I love this place for its wildness and for the freeness I feel there. I have heard people talk about the wonder of time away with family in remote places on lakes and in the snow. I made my own time away with my two ducklings. But it wasn’t the same. I couldn’t relax because the places were new and unknown quantities kept me on my toes while I charted the course for the three of us.

Salt Spring is different. First Wonder Sweetie and I discovered much of the pleasures there together. It’s been a shared charting of courses which has been a delight. The last trip I felt like I was coming home. Even though it was without Marc, I still had a sense of homecoming.

My dear friend who owns the cabin on Salt Spring gave me the whole downstairs studio. The bath is a little less rustic than the love shack across the way. The bed is not an air mattress We chose our food from the roadside vegetable stands and cooked simply. Mostly we hiked and talked and slept. Also waded into Stowell lake in the 75 degree weather. Heaven on earth. We saw woodpeckers up close. Were careful not to smush the frogs that hopped at the water’s edge. Walked and drove by many deer that casually ignored us.

The last night before I left we walked to the pond and sat for two hours or more while the sun disappeared and the night took over. The stars came out in slow motion and circled the sky above us. A barred owl hooted loudly over head and flew from tree to tree in search of what, only it knew. The bats performed their acrobatic flights for food and a tiny deer came to the waters edge and lapped quietly.

The last thing we saw before heading in was pure Salt Spring magic dust. A shooting star that glowed like a comet before winking out. My trip would begin back to real life the next day.

I was away for a few days at Salt Spring Island in the British Columbia Gulf Islands. The setting is rustic with amenities. Hot shower, bed, great food. We have been able to visit with the people that own this land for the last two years. It’s always a restorative time. This second trip we had an idea of where we were going and how long things took. It eases the mind and soothes the soul even deeper when you feel like you can get to the location under your own steam without worrying that you are lost or late.

We hiked, ate, and wandered together. When we got up there was always someone to hang out with. We had a knitting circle and jam sessions. We talked about many things. Some of them important. Some of them less so. We visited farm stands and bakeries and markets and yoga studios. We slept the sleep of the dead after a long day.

We didn’t worry or talk to customers.

We ate goats milk gelato!!!

I seem to be all about the cherry these days. Cherry wood. Cherry fruit. Cherry colored yarn. Wonder Sweetie and I found some truly remarkable cherries at the farmers market. They aren’t remarkable in that they can talk or write computer code. These were ripe, decadently firm cherries with shiny plump skin and texture. And they tasted as good as they looked. Which is often unusual in fruit. Like the difference between homegrown and store bought tomatoes.

Just looking at them made my mouth water.

For Christmas Wonder Sweetie gifted me with a new cookbook called Good to the Grains by Kim Boyce of Bake Shop fame The pictures are beautiful. The recipes are easier than expected and delicious. It featured an apricot and boysenberry rustic tart that I though could be adapted to nectarines and cherries

Turns out I was right.

It was almost a disaster as I added what I thought was too much water to the tart dough. It all worked out in the end. A smooth soft flaky dough with this crazy luscious cherry and nectarine filling.

The fruit cutting was the most amusing part for me. As I quartered and pitted the cherries my hands got progressively more stained. At one point it looked like I’d thrashed a bottle of merlot within an inch of its life. It was a lovely color made better by the fact that I could pop plump little bits of fruit into my mouth.

The tarts cooked up nice and brown and the fruit kept its shape. I whipped up some heavy cream and maple syrup. I’m surprised the second tart survived the night.

I think I’ll have a single plate, bowl and cup. A single set of utensils. A pot or two. I’ll wash dishes after every meal. The dishwasher will go unused.

I think I’ll wear cotton night gowns and slippers on my feet and pad quietly around. I’ll hear birds and crickets and frogs.

I won’t rush.

I’ll think a lot.

I’ll listen to myself breathe and my heart beat till it doesn’t anymore.

I’ll stare at my spotted and vein labryinthed hands and wonder whose they are.

Maybe someone will have to help me up and down stairs, but I hope not.

I am not sure that I understand how I became so fortunate to be able to attend this camp. It was held in western Washington in a quiet wooded spot so beautiful I was moved to tears just looking outside.

And then there was the weaving part.

The food was fabulous and healthy. No cleaning to speak of, although I did leave my hair unwashed a day or two. No shopping. No driving. Just weaving. Talking about weaving with other weavers. Preparing for weaving. Serious mulling about weaving. You get the idea.

The result is that the noise in your head clears (a little) The rhythm of weaving slowly emerges. The projects grow along with ideas for projects.

I’m not going to sell you the idea that weaving is like a metaphor for life. In this case it was life. I forget how easy it can be to disassociate yourself from the path that brings peace of mind because we are so locked into the path of work and maintenance of the things we own. It happens to me and mine more than we want.

It’s a precious and personal thing and I won’t bore you with the intimate details. I hope when you most need it you find a place to make something beloved to you a metaphor for life and you dive in head first and don’t need to come up for air. And then just stay there and soak it in till it oozes out of your pores.

Happy hunting.

Something wonderful is coming up this week. I’m headed to Weaving Camp in Washington state.

It’s a sleep over camp with Judith as the teacher and I’m nervous about my lack of knowledge and abilities. I’m a quick study, but still have fear about getting behind.

This, of course, gives me the perfect opportunity to work on my equanimity skills. Breath in breath out. Wax on wax off. It will really truly be all right.

Now for the adventure of a lifetime. And the grand re-launching of a crafts person. Well, yes. That’s me. A craft as defined by Craft in America on PBS. Something that is functional, useful, beautiful and made by a human.

I’ll let you know how it turns out.

Last month I completed the Hippie Chick half marathon in Hillsboro. See my happy finish picture. This is the first one I trained for on my own over successive weekends. It was very good to be done.

I wish I had more free time to spend but right now I’m working on other non exercise items. It was a beautiful day spent with friends.

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The shoe has dropped. My parents have changed places with my children and the best part is, they are slowly going broke. I didn’t realize until a recent series of phone calls, just how strained the situation is. It won’t happen tomorrow, or next month. What is likely to happen is that my parents will outlive their money.

I’m not upset about this from an inheritance or lack of inheritance perspective. I don’t want them to suffer and truthfully I don’t have the sort of relationship with my parents that promotes the eventuality that they will live with me. That, for better or worse is the road ahead for my brother and his wife. Me, I just get to watch the train wreck in slow motion and try to maintain my equanimity.

I continue to pursue fiber arts with every spare moment and bit of passion I can find The knitting is super frustrating right now. I can’t seem to figure out what to do with the needles without undoing and redoing several times. And it’s still not right, really. OR, maybe it is right and I don’t want to give myself that much credit. Note to self. Must investigate this thought more closely…

The weaving and spinning, that’s a whole ‘nother level of passion and crazy. For me it seems a good crazy right now. I sit and start thinking about what I need to talk to my parents about on the road ahead. The rythmn of weaving and spinning let’s me percolate a little till some peace of mind bubbles up. We will find a way. We will figure this out. It will all be OK in the end.