Category Archives: How this came to be

Cats & lessons & moving & hiding.

This is Luna.

She’s one of the animals I look after sometimes. An ancient kitty, she loves to sit on my lap & be brushed, and is quite fond of taking over the pillow by the middle of the night.

This is Sophie. It was quite warm the week I stayed with her & her sister, Izzy. 

Warm & humid.

Before this stretch with Sophie & Izzy, I had the good fortune to be with Nemo for a while in July.

This was taken before the recent rains…

On very hot days, she’d hop into a ceramic dish for a nap.

Before this, I was at another house, with two kitties. (No photos that time…)

Basically I was not living in my apartment for the entire month of July.

But I was there a lot, packing. Everything. I just moved.

Thanks to my friends, who helped out in so many ways, to support this past move.

Schlepping boxes, sanding patches, dropping off stuff at resale stores, bringing blueberries & pop, bringing good cheer, texting, offering emotional support over the phone & in person… I really could feel the net of people… & their support.

These follows are older than me, but when together, are like 9 year olds. Another friend (I didn’t catch a photo of her) held the reigns & called the shots to keep things going.

They were a huge help on a very hot day driving boxes from my apartment of 2 & 1/2 years to the next landing place.

Packing selfie.

Basically if I was there on my own, I’d listen to music or a podcast & pack & pack & pack after work before heading back to whichever place I was housesitting at.

Thank the gods for all these friends & all these cats in my life.

Because the day I got there, the day I would officially “move in”, there was a distinct sinking feeling in my heart & my gut.

It was the very same feeling when I crossed the California state line back in 2002.

Something akin to: o no. What did I do?

A sort of “wrong” feeling. Like I had made a mistake.

I get this feeling when I’m driving somewhere & I know I’m lost, that I’m going the wrong way.

It’s the same feeling. 

Driving, though, I can just turn around, get off at an exit, go a different route.

Moving, and renting, & having signed a lease, a binding agreement, the stakes are higher, the consequence greater, especially since I sunk my savings into making it happen. (Rent is expensive in these parts…)

I’m haunted by my decision.

Reflecting on how I only saw what I was looking for, & overlooking the aspects of the place which were, um, funky.

I really thought it was a place I could settle into for a while.

But it turned out the landlord forgot to mention one piece of information which would have changed my decision to apply for this apartment.


She says she mentioned it. I said, um, no you didn’t.

“You could get a cat. That’s what the former tenant did.”

And yes, sure, I love cats. 

But I’m not in the position where I can be with (my own) cat at this point of my life.

Clearly a misunderstanding occurred, to the point where she offered to let me out of the lease.

Now, aside from not having the money to rent a different place (including a security deposit), to simply to FIND a place in this town that was both affordable AND in less than a month and with no back-up alternate place to go (not to mention all of my belongings) was, well, it just seemed impossible.

And, quite frankly, I didn’t have the energy or the will to even try. Just moving that last week of July following the entire month of packing every day & cleaning both places while working just wore me out.

I haven’t blogged about it, because I’ve been feeling pretty bad about myself & my decision, & my life at the moment.

Yes, it’s a privilege to move with all of my belongings. Yes, I am currently employed. Yes, I am rich in community.


It still feels bad. I feel bad. Ashamed. Stupid. And then it globs into all the choices I’ve made in my past from places of fear & I just send myself into a sort of spiral.

So I’ve been kind of hiding out in shame & embarrassment that extends beyond this one decision & situation.

Even though had I been given all the information I would have made a different choice.

Luna’s like: “stop being so hard on yourself”

The landlord isn’t going to do anything about the mice.

I’m in a year lease.

I’m buying a *%#^ton of steel wool to shove into any cracks & holes, and screwing welded wire over the really wide gaps.

And I’m telling myself that I’m living in a cabin. For a year.

(Thank you, Amy-la, for that.)

And at the recommendation of my wise sister, & then a friend, I’m going to look at what I appreciate about this place, AND what really doesn’t work for me, and apply that to my decision regarding any future places.


I appreciate that I can heat with wood. I enjoy stacking wood. 

The woodstove was one of the four things I saw and said ‘yes’ to.

Wood stove, separate structure (that is, no one above or below or attached to the side), quiet, & a place to garden.

All really great things.

But just focusing on those four things is like stepping into a relationship with someone just because they have a mouth & a hand to hold & a, well you get the idea.

I tend to overlook the whole picture.


Living and learning here.

On a brighter note, despite the severe drought we’ve been experiencing, the hickory trees are quite abundant in nuts this year.

Mockernut & Bitternut hickory droppings from a very tall canopy & signs of critter munching.

O the critters.

Wishing you all well on this night.

Wishing you gentleness & ease.

Good morning & explanation of awayness.

Hey everybody.

This was from earlier today up at a retreat center in upstate New York where I’ve been for the past ten days.

I know I just stopped posting a couple weeks back

(Three-day moon. My favorite.)

I’m involved in a Contempletive Care for the Dying program through the Rigpa Foundation & it’s been asking for more attention than I had anticipated.

And to prepare for the retreat, was working every day & just became overwhelmed with all the reading & writing & work on top of that.

(A video short of Sara working Conner & Larry, covering up the garlic we just planted.)

Fresh ginger drying off & heading to the freezer.

So, I’m now considering deferring graduate school until the fall of 2016.

Possibilities: art therapy, chaplaincy, or simply counseling.

(Flecks. My kitty from way-back-when I was a child.)

For now I want to focus on the program I’m currently in.

The good morning photos may not come every day…

I need to allow for a little more room in my life for now,

& to focus on my project for class, sitting practice, staying on top of the reading (which I’m slow at) & writing assignments.

We had our first snow at the farm on the 18th of October.

More to come.

Thank you to everyone’s encouragement, especially regarding going back to school.

Wishing you all good things.

Herbal Sun Tea Punch.



Here’s a delicious, very refreshing herbal beverage for the summer

In jars, or one large jar, add equal parts Peppermint, Chamomile, Hibiscus, & Lemonbalm.

(In the quart jar, it’s about a tablespoon per each herb)

Add water, put lid on, & set out into the sunlight (or heck, just on the counter if it’s a cloudy day…) to infuse for a good number of hours.


Strain the herbs from the liquid using a fine mesh sieve


Little bitty bits of chamomile or peppermint or lemonbalm may remain

Ehng, ’tis not a problem.


Add to this a quality apple juice 

…this will do quite well


Depending on how sweet you’d like it, I usually add anywhere from 1:3 to 1:2 tea to juice ratio

-so in case I didn’t write that out correctly, (it’s been a loooong time since I’ve been in Math class) I like it best when it’s either equal parts tea & juice or mostly tea.

Do what works for your tastebuds.

Makes a nice ice cube or Popsicle 

Perhaps add fresh basil or mint after it has chilled



Good morning from Caroline.

Three people asked:
So, do you have any big plans for the weekend?

And for a noticed second
I thought about it,
Yes, there was a relatively big plan. Continue reading

Guest photos of cats due to illness & Ithaca Falls.


I’ve been sick for a string of days with the flu


But… It could be worse.

Fortunately for me, Izzy & Sophie’s Mommy has been sending me photos and videos of the Shoofins

Sisters by the wood stove


If not by the wood stove, Izzy can usually be found lounging upon her Daddy

Bliss kitty

The sun was shining today
Holy wowie what a joy

And the fever broke this morning, so I thought I’d get some fresh air

So bundled up for a walk

Definitely gonna scare the children…

But I’ve been coughing out my eyeballs and want to try to contain this nonsense.

I was hoping to lay down on the stones by the falls (where those brambles are in the center of the photo) but the water is REALLY high

I’ll be patient until another day comes

It’s really nice, to be like a stone, to relax on the stones all bundled up, feeling the surface of the earth & listening to the rushing water

It was about 23 degrees Fahrenheit, which is about -5 Celsius

On the stones, a super thin film of ice had formed in some places

Like the skin on the palm of a hand

Or a rhinoceros, perhaps

What do you see?

I came home to find that there has been vacuuming going on at the Shoofin’s house

Which means that cats will be found under the covers, hidden & safe in beds


I’ve been doing steams with Ravintsara & Eucalyptus Radiata

And while forced-air heating in my book is the most inefficient way to heat & I can’t stand it

It has allowed me to dry out my pajamas that get soaked every three hours in the night

Bright side: I will be ready for hot flashes if they happen to come

Here are some photos from Daniel & Sebastian’s Daddy – friends who have three lovely kitties…


And the lovely, yet reclusive Lillian

Be well, all.
And a big thank you to the guest photographers!!!

Hopi Black Dye Sunflower Seed dye & heartbeat.

My heart beats a bit faster
Just sitting here, tap tapping with the tip of my finger on the surface of the phone face
With the thoughts about the Hopi Black Dye Sunflower Seed dye.

Time is relative
Long, in terms of time, is relative

This is over four years coming
What I would call a long time coming

This Hopi Black Dye Sunflower Seed dye

I had tried to grow Hopi Black Dye Sunflowers each year since 2010,
finding the seed in the previous Winter

But various conditions occurred

Seeds didn’t germinate…
Seeds were disturbed & eaten by critters in the barn…
Young, tender plants munched down by critters in the field…
Running out of seed…
Trying again year after year with critter munching being the main decider.

Everybody’s hungry.

But this year


And for the past couple of weeks, with the preparations (and even writing this) I notice a sort of anxiety/excitement feeling in my heart

With each step closer

You ever want something so so much and the closer you get to it, the stronger the anxiety-feeling in your heart?

THAT feeling.

I’ve been trying to make room for this
(& all of the) feeling that blows through this organism

All of the Weathers

No matter what Moon phase

Trying to hold space for, to make room for all of the feelings to come through the pasture, so to speak.

Breathe, Marney

So this process, which has become precious, important, and I bring my attention & thanks to it

Honoring the heart-longing

And so, from seed to seeds

Allowing them to soak for two days in a pot of water

Brought to a boil, and simmered for 20 minutes

Then after sitting for two more days
(Thump thump thump goes the heart getting closer)

With the simple tools, and small stack of paper


It was at this point I considered putting down the phone/camera – out of concern that i could spill the dye…..


“…the greater the risk, the greater the glory…” ?!?!??

Not a lot of dye, so gotta try to get all the goodness…


All of it!!!

I found that if I put my fingers below the seed pile on the strainer, more liquid would flow through


There’s probably some law of Physics which explains this
But I never took physics, sadly

Yeah, this looks a bit post-Halloween-nails-creepy

Gettin’ wild in the kitchen…


Step by step




I had hoped to dye 24 sheets of paper
But it would have been squeezed, so decided to pause at 18 sheets


Settling in after some minutes

Thump thump thump
Goes the heart

Black walnut dye, continued.

The first time I remember really seeing a Black Walnut tree was about 15 years ago when I lived in a basement apartment in Brooklyn.

There was a massive Black Walnut tree in the back yard, and the owner of the building –
(who lived upstairs and who was very fond of trees)
– told the story how their neighbor would complain that the Black Walnut tree should be cut down

(Insert incredulous, knitted eyebrow look here)

There was this complaint, because what the neighbor was unaware of, was that Black Walnut trees are exceptionally late to leaf out in Spring & quite early to drop leaves in Autumn…

Otherwise known as: misunderstanding.

This is at the farm where I’ve been tending a garden this past season

Most of the Black Walnut trees along the roadside had already dropped their walnut hulls

…in their Autumn & Winter finery

Here’s the paper after a three-day soak in the dye bath

It’s possible to do a second dye but I’m going to go ahead with the Hopi Black Dye Sunflower seeds next

So time to drain the paper

Let it set tipped over a bit

Then turn upside down onto a towel

Thump the bottom as needed


Only two sheets left in the dye basin to peel out, carefully

(The abundance of liquid pooling here shows me that I could have let it sit a bit longer to drain)

Again, with care so as not to tear the soggy sheets of paper, peel one by one off the stack and lay out onto a towel to dry

And after a day of drying…

A beautiful small stack ready for use


Good morning digest from April

well, here’s a “list” of good morning images from the month of April while there was no internet availability at home.

the view began to the East on Friday the 4th of April


and continues thus


0407140643 0408140734 0409140750 0410140705

0411140845 0412140947

0413140834 0416140628

(i really like that one)

but a number of people were asking me if i was okay because they found the views (which i could upload directly from dinkyphone to Facebook) depressing.

granted, it was a grey stretch of days…

granted, the window was pretty dirty – but i didn’t dare open it because the pane of glass showed a gap of 1/8″ and i didn’t want to risk breaking it while the weather was still cold…

and while at the beginning i did consider the view to the West, i didn’t let myself continue with that

because i felt somehow that i HAD to take the photo to the East

o the rules we make for ourselves

for myself…

0417140612 0418140701

but beauty won me over, the trees won me over

and while i do enjoy the view to the East, and feel a bit torn

i like seeing the changing of the trees and

it IS very very grey here…

0419140722 0420140743

i dunno, maybe i’ll go back to the East once i attempt at opening the window…

0421140653 0422140639

0423140629 0424140625

0425140630 0426140635

there’s also a part of me that enjoys looking West, sort of wistfully, towards where i was living just before…

0427141036 0428140705

0429140623 0430140633


seeing them all here – i find myself drawn again to the East…
we’ll see

good morning.




quilt, letting go, & allowing

this is a quilt


first one i ever made

in the early 90’s

you can see the many rips & tears in some of the fabric.

most of the white patches were once a rusty orange color – long since faded

…mudcloth given to me by a friend back in 1992

i was a senior in college

and began asking friends for old clothes or pieces of fabric they no longer wanted.

i remember taking the bus

or was it two buses?

in order to get to Sears

i wanted a sewing machine

because i wanted to make a quilt.

the top was completed in 1993


by then i had graduated and began working as a corps member in City Year

there are many memories in this quilt:

…the cloth given by a friend

…the shorts given by the aunt of an ex-boyfriend

…the shirt worn in the 2nd grade poetry recital

…a favorite flannel from a high school

…hem of the long pants from the City Year year

…leftover pieces from jeans-turned-shorts

…the pajamas i wore when Flecks was still alive

i’ve done some patching – but the truth is

i don’t want some of the reminders on the top layer

and recently learned about this garment recycling collection

which allowed for some space around this blanket

which is warm & which i love

but has been neglected – because some of the memories woven into this quilt

i just don’t want the reminders every time i look at it, or use it.

i tried – i tried to patch it

found some beautiful corduroy fabric

but no steam behind it

no heart.

so the other day – i cut off the top layer


leaving the Polarfleece bottom layer

(which mostly became the top layer because i didn’t want the confrontation of the top)

sure, there are memories in the fleece layer as well

…the man i bartered with in NYC from Malden Mills – Shiatsu for fabric scraps that became my second quilt

(then given to my Shiatsu teacher)

…my first long-term boyfriend who gifted me this fabric in 1994

(peace was made here – so, while complicated, i don’t mind this memory.)

i don’t like to waste things – feels bad to just “throw things away”

because there is no “away”

(and thus the beauty of composting)

i find that i also need to bring in some breathing room – i don’t need to drag memories around if they drag me down.


i’m allowing myself to begin again.

which feels like a luxury, in a way.

to start over

simple, perhaps, for most

but for whatever reason

it’s challenging to simply let go, start over, & allow myself to begin again, using materials.

i suppose i owe it to meditation practice helping with this.


we all know that things can change on a dime, but it’s easy to forget.



so i began to blog because i fell in love with someone last Winter.

someone who i loved in a way i didn’t really understand

in a way that called me to be a way i didn’t know i could be.

strange, easy connection.


it didn’t unfold in that capital R relationship-y way


we were, and are friends

and i’m happy for him that he’s found someone with whom there seems to be a quite wonderful connection between the two of them

this is the best of things.


i began to blog.

because i had stopped farming


and this relationship-connection where sharing occurred was no longer there…



because i felt i had to do something

the energy had to go somewhere


i began to blog.

not because i think i have “something to say”


it came more out of a sort of need

to share.


i don’t write much about relationship (or Relationship)

but find that i think about relationships a lot.

not just in that “longing” way, but just thinking about it.

i’m in relationship with everyone

and everything.

all the time.



i feel sad, grief i didn’t expect to feel

upon seeing images of a beloved teacher who just passed away.

someone who was very warm, very present, and very kind.

and even though we didn’t share a lot of time out side of the school

there is something in me that feels a great grief in knowing that she’s not embodied any more…


i’d often drive by her house, & every time i would think fondly of her

even though i had only been there once.

i knew it was her house, her home

and memory is a funny and wonderful thing


i feel lucky, fortunate, to have shared some time with this very kind, earthy, strong woman.

and i guess it just brings home

that this time we are here is very short

and we all know that things can change on a dime



the truth of that kinda freaks me out, and i’m feeling it today.

feeling a kind of achy love feeling inside

for the people & critters in my life today…

thinking of her family, and those close with her…

feeling the web of connection today…