Mouse droppings and global humanity

When you live in a 200 year old structure with a stone foundation, you share your life with mice.* It’s just a given. I draw the line when and if one of two things happen: I find teeth marks in the butter or I catch the smell of dead bodies.

Mice like pistachios, it turns out. Note to self: put the bowl of nuts away at night.

Weeks of catching whiffs of that distinctively fruity and repulsive stench of death got me going. There I was down in the basement sniffing at the joists and lifting up the sump pump well cover to stare down into its depths with a flashlight. Nada.

But this morning, my hound-like powers of detection pinpointed the source of the stench. It was coming from under the fridge. We pulled the appliance away from the wall to a horror show of dust and grime and mouse droppings, urine stains and yes, pistachio shells.

No dead bodies, though.

A thorough cleaning has not eradicated the smell. Could a few little grey corpses have slid along the undercarriage of the fridge when we pulled it from the wall?

Ugh. Now what?

Meanwhile, I’ve been piecing up a whimsy (when I should have been folding up the ironing board and putting some of my piles into closets to get ready for company).

But hey.

I’ve picked up our 15 pound organic, free range turkey from across town and stirred up the brine. And my apron is on and recipes located for candied yams and maybe? — a chocolate pie (others are bringing pumpkin and apple). Before I get to it, you might like to hear this.

Today’s Indivisible Group tele-call became dispirited with news regurgitation. We’d somehow strayed from the more usual constructive format of sharing possible action steps or venues for education. One member said, “I can’t take this. I get enough with the news. I’m going to sign off”.

I piped up that I completely understood but could she hang on a minute more if the talk turned positive? Then I shared about International Peace Day … about love being the answer and peace pins and peace leaves and about making peace a daily conversation. My voice shook, for some reason.

But here’s the thing — the tenor of our call was radically transformed. I have many of you to thank for that! I sent links to some of your websites to the group and to my own and for the first time wasn’t compartmentalizing political and artistic work. Until this morning, I hadn’t even realized I’d been doing that. It was liberating, somehow.

In that positive second half of the call, this event came up: starting on December 2 there will be a 24 hour global vigil for humanity. You have to register but it’s free and you can show up for any part of the 24 hours.

Happy Thanksgiving to my American friends! This week, love and food will be the answer — especially if that food is made with love.

P.S. I’ll take this moment to be grateful that most of my family doesn’t bother reading my blog (who says they should? but then again, why don’t they — at least once in a while?). With this post, it’s probably a good thing in terms of keeping their appetites for Thursday’s dinner!

*autocorrect turned my first attempt at typing “mice” to “love” … Does that mean even when dealing with a mouse infestation that love is the answer?

Can’t see

I can’t see “the answer”. Somehow that is fitting. But in the small domain of a textile piece, it cannot stand. Off to writing class. Finn’s got his bone stuffed with sweet potato, chicken, and peanut butter. I have my chapter listing, notebook, and a flank muscle sore from raking.

** See, It’s Crow Time (side bar) for more on this collaborative fiber project (aka magic). Attributions to follow. Gotta go!


This one hangs on the inside of the studio/cellar door. It’s done? I am beginning to look around (from the side of my mind) with a view toward 2018. 

It’s very cold here. Temps are supposed to drop into the teens tonight. If you are subject to this icy air sweeping down from the arctic — stay warm!

I include a couple of pictures of cypress knees from South Carolina because of how much they resemble the figure in the top quilt’s foreground — hooded and slightly bent, like a monastic order of the swamps. 

Turning seasons

It’s cold and gonna get colder. Going from flip flops to draft stoppers makes for a strange contrast. Meanwhile, leaves, leaves, and more leaves fall, including the giant ones from our two catalpa trees. I’ve saved up some of their knobby fallen branches for the mantle. What do you think — spray them silver or gold? Leave them natural?

Too much to process every week. One hundred and four texts with son number two yesterday. Fortunately NOT about his trip to the ER earlier in the week (strep has blossomed into scarlet fever. BTW, did you know that no one gets rheumatic fever anymore and no one really knows why? When I was eight, I was ordered on bed rest because of a rheumatic fever scare. I remember my mother carrying me to the bathroom and being pissed that I was missing the games noisily unfolding in the back yard). He is okay by the way.

A dinner with my Indivisible group. Heartening elections. Legs that hurt for no reason. A relative who was in her car in Manhattan when the terrorist yelling out to Allah ran right in front of her. And the recent church slayings? Nothing. I am numb.

Meanwhile my allegiance to cuteness becomes necessary. This little critter needs arms and a name.

She has her eye on Thanksgiving and models casual flair. With a starchy, perfectly pressed apron and a smile, she will somehow manage (without a moment of hand-wringing) to get a good-enough meal on the table. 

Gathering the Dream

The white silk banner that Mo supplied for her healing collaborative project, Gathering the Dream, I Dream of a World Where Love is the Answer, got a thorough airing in the backyard. New England rain consecrated its weave. It hung out with the dog and with disintegrating but lovely curtains on the line. It mingled with hosta stalks. It received late summer sun and the shade of a catalpa tree.

Then it turned into fall and more walnuts than I thought possible for two trees to produce fell. They’re still falling. Even after one of the windiest nights ever, they’re still falling!

I boiled up some hulls and dipped in some cloth that I’d bundled ’round spools years ago and then abandoned. The dyeing came out okay, but what truly excited me was to discover that once unbundled, this reclaimed piece of silk shared the shape and dimensions of the banner — almost exactly! So of course they belong together.

The light walnut-imparted lines on the recently-discovered top silk, when stitched, reminded me of a map. So it got me thinking. What instructions might there be to a sane, peaceful world where love is the answer? Is there such a place? Why does it seem so unreachable?

The gap between cloths is prompting some thoughts, too — thoughts about the divides that seem to be doing us in here in America. Seething, toxic, destructive divides. How do we cross or bind the yawning gap? Is that the right question? Should we be trying to learn how to live with our differences, tattered-edged and unsettling as they are? In the United States, it’s no exaggeration to say that we have not been this divided as a nation since the Civil War. Think about that. I do. All. The. Time.

More to come.

Unhinged but not broken

The Big Wind blew our wisteria off the brick facade. I was so relieved to see that the vine was intact — unhinged but not broken.

And then I had to laugh. Metaphors are a way of life, aren’t they? It took my husband awhile to get this about me (he’s an engineer — it took me a while to get this about him). I, too, am unhinged but not broken.

Perhaps “off the wall” is a bit better, though?

Wow and wow

First wow : I was the lucky winner of Deb Lacativa’s birthday lottery. My selection of “precious bits” and thread came in a crocheted pouch — didn’t expect that! I haven’t purchased any of Deb’s cloth in a long time (or much cloth at all these days) and I’ve never used the magic threads, so I’m psyched!

Whole worlds live in some of these scraps.

Using even a little bit of this fabric elevates a composition, so how luscious would it be to construct an entire house with them? Imagine!

The second wow : the weather. You cannot believe how the wind and rain swept through here last night. It pounded and blew with a furious insistence that seemed to express the mood of a nation anticipating the Mueller indictments. I couldn’t sleep, so I padded out in the downpour around midnight to clear the sewer grate, weirdly happy to be reminded of my mammalian place in this world. The elements. A bathrobe getting saturated. Then I made popcorn and watched TV until two. Distraction is something to feel grateful for as well. Nearly every square foot of the backyard has a fallen branch in it — some moderate-sized and some small, but everywhere!