Enjoy the Cave

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Posted by Gwyn MacDonald

It’s hibernation time folks, one of my favorite times of the year as I think I have said in the past. I do love being outside and active in the warmer months, carrying on in the garden, soaking up the sun. But I also love the hush of winter. Running around in the cold and then hunkering down indoors, warm and sleepy under a blanket and a cat, a good book by my side.

In the past few years though I find that instead of allowing myself to snuggle up and enjoy this time of being indoors, being internal, I fret that I should be doing something!

Getting things done!

Yikes. Give it a rest dear girl!

This year I’m giving myself permission to settle in to winter. To read the books on my shelves that have been calling me, to rest, to write (no, the next post will not be about arithmetic, I promise).

To be. We tell ourselves we don’t have enough time, but sometimes I think we just have to take the time. Make it our own.

Happy hibernating!


Pen to Paper

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Posted by Gwyn MacDonald

I heard a fabulous interview a few months ago with writer Richard Ford. I’ve never read any of his work, but he is now on my “books I must read” list. He spoke with clarity, wit and with the wisdom of someone who has explored the mystery and wonder of language, emotion and the human experience.

Mr. Ford talked about writing quotes that interested or intrigued him on 3×5 cards and reading them every now and again. He chuckled when Terry Gross asked him why he didn’t organize them on the computer. He then told her that he writes his novels by hand. On paper. With a pen. No computer.

This made me smile, a great big goofy grin and then I gave the radio a big thumbs up and a YES! Why?

Because I’m really a luddite at heart (as I type away on the keyboard! HA)?

No, I just related to Ford’s feelings about putting pen to paper, that writing is thinking out loud(I think that’s a quote from one of his 3×5’s).

When I have a large amount of writing to do, I write by hand. It makes me feel more connected to the thoughts, the emotions and the subject I’m writing about. When I write this way I don’t edit as I let my thoughts flow.

I create these blog posts at the computer most of the time and I find it hard to just type without editing. The thoughts don’t flow as easily, which isn’t bad it’s just different. Don’t get me wrong, I love that delete button and cut and paste is magic in my mind! Writing on paper takes more time and most of us don’t have much to spare these days. So I’m very grateful to have the luxury of this machine (I liked typewriters too!) but I have been thinking that I want to write more regularly, because I want to not just when I have to.

Journaling or writing letters, trying to do a bit each day. More than a shopping list scrawl or notes in my client’s files. Bringing back the pleasure of putting pen to page. Maybe using it as a form of meditation, a creative endeavor to keep my mind sharp, my eyes bright and my heart and hands connected.

Happy writing!

If you are interested in reading about the “how to” of writing, Natalie Goldberg’s book “Writing Down the Bones” is an excellent resource and a fun read too!


The (Not So) Fading Beauties

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Posted by Gwyn MacDonald

My nephew and I were driving on a recent autumn day, admiring the still fabulous but beginning to wane colors of the leaves. He said that soon everything would look drab and depressing with winter and wouldn’t’t it be cool if the trees kept their colors until the new leaves arrived in spring. I agreed that it would be cool but it might make spring less exciting as we would have nothing to look forward to after all of that dark and cold. Those first few electric green leaves spark our spirits and get us up and moving!

As we continued to talk I thought about our yearly trips to upstate New York for the winter holidays and the long ride when I have plenty of time to gaze out the window. Fields of burnt orange and sandy colored grasses, icy purple and brownish red raspberry canes and brambles, mountains covered in as many shades of green, gray and blue as you can imagine. I always feel inspired by these wild colors and it often spurs a drawing or sewing project once I get back home.

I was glad to be reminded that even though the skies may be heavy and the deciduous trees seem so skeletal in winter, there is still so much color to be seen all season long (even before the witch hazels, hellebores and snow drops show up!). And if we can’t make it out to the woods, maybe it’s the red brick building that glows in the late day sun or the pattern on the moss green and gray bark of the sycamore trees that brightens our spirits.

Sometimes it’s just a matter of looking a little longer and allowing that spark of color to find you.

Enjoy the colors of winter!


Setting the Table for the Spring Feast!

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Posted by Gwyn MacDonald

I just finished ordering a few bulbs for fall (soon to be winter!) planting/spring blooming. 800 is a few, right?!

Yes, I am serious! My dear friend (and gardening partner in crime) Carolyn and I always plant lots of goodies for the honey bees and other pollinators to feast on when they start to venture out after the wilds of deep winter. And also, let’s be honest, to cheer our human spirits after the long, dark days. Crocus are a favorite for the bees, so we decided to plant a bunch. 300 to be exact.

But then I saw the grape hyacinths, added another crocus variety, the scilla siberica, some anemone blanda… and I couldn’t help it, those bright species tulips that called to me, Sirens that they are! Honest, it all started with my love of the bees…

We’ve been focusing more and more on flowering plants for the bees. And not just our honeybees at the garden. There are many varieties of native pollinators that need help these days. These amazing creatures are part of the backbone of our food supply, pollinating fruit and nut trees and many of the fruits and veggies we consume. Even though we are getting into hibernation season, soon enough we’ll be back out there with our fingers in the soil. So remember the pollinators and plant a few extras for them this fall and next spring. Let your herbs flower (especially mint, thyme and chives!), let a few lettuce and radish go to seed. And plant some crocus! And then buy some local honey! Makes a great gift, since we are fast approaching the holiday season…

And I just learned something new about pruning away old hollow stems. Many pollinators use these stems to lay their eggs for the next season, so leave some of those stems in tact until spring (raspberry canes seem to be a favorite). I often do this just because I like the “sculptures” created by the old seed heads and stems. Gives the winter garden form and texture and looks super cool dusted with snow.

Happy planting!

P.S. I ordered everything from a larger company this time since I waited until the last minute (arrgghh!), but one of my very favorites for heirloom varieties of bulbs, corms etc. is Old House Gardens up in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Good for them, they are sold out of most bulbs for the season! I order Dahlias and gladiolas from them most years. Lovely company, excellent product and an always helpful and very dedicated staff.


Kicked in the Pants, Part 2

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Posted by Judy Moon

A few weeks back I posted “What To Do When You Get Kicked In The Pants“, a post about a detox I discovered that was much needed after over indulging for a weekend celebrating dear friends wedding day. It was a weekend of laughing , eating amazing food and maybe indulging in one too many cocktail and slider. So I tried this secret detox drink.

Here’s what I noticed:

  • Within one day my digestion shifted.
  • I had started to feel a little “refluxey” , not sure if that’s a word, but you get the picture, and within a day, those symptoms vanished
  • Within a few days, I was used to the taste. I actually grew to like it. The stevia helped for sure!
  • I felt more energized
  • My appetite shifted- I was less hungry between meals and more satisfied when I ate.
  • I felt like I craved less junky foods and my salads started to look like old friends again.
  • I felt less bloated
  • At the end of the 2 weeks I had dropped a few pounds.

I made all three servings of the fresh lemon juice, Braggs Apple Cider, cinnamon, cayenne and a little stevia with some water in quart jar for the day each day.

I typically drink water with lemon first thing in the morning, but now I have shifted to this lovely concoction and I have to say I really love it. I love ritual in my life and there is something that feels good about starting my day this way.

I will definitely add this to my arsenal of secret weapons to reboot myself when I have a little too much fun. And with the holidays right around the corner…enough said.

Happy Detoxing!