Snow Days

My little place in this world is covered in snow again. As I struggled with the flu a couple of weeks ago it became warm and all the snow melted away before Christmas. It all just didn't feel right! I began to feel better and then freezing temperatures and a few flurries came on Christmas Eve. Beginning on New Year's Day the snow officially returned. The fresh snow is one of the things I am grateful for in 2014.

I have been enjoying looking at art work online that captures the beauty of winter and this snowy season. A friend recently posted art work done in the early 1900's by Wladyslaw Jarocki on facebook and I found his work beautiful. I love the contrast of the whites, greys, browns and blues of the landscape with the brightly colored scarves and embroidery accents on the traditional clothing of his Polish highlander subjects. I want to give away my black, nylon covered jacket for sheepskin, fleece lined, embroidered coats, woolen stockings, leather boots, long heavy skirts and colorful scarves and dress like these beautiful highland women.

Władysław Jarocki, Żółta chustka oil, canvas
Wladyslaw Jarocki, "Winter Sun", oil on canvas, 69.5 x 99 cm, private collection
Wladyslaw Jarocki, "Hunter in Winter", 1915, oil on plywood, 98 x 67 cm, private collection
This past holiday season I was particularly inspired by eclectic paintings and other works of art posted by a blogger at A Polar Bear's Tale. The art work posted there is so special. There are illustrations, fine paintings, crafted items and photographs to be enjoyed. All the images chosen for this blog seem infused with magic, beauty and nostalgia. The posts cover themes and the art work reflects the seasons and holidays. I enjoyed looking at this blog over Christmas more than watching a holiday movie or tv program. If you enjoy looking at lovely works of art that reflect the magic of a season I suggest that you head over to A Polar Bear's Tale to scroll through the treasures there.

And finally since this is the first post of the New Year I think gratitude is the word for 2014. I started a gratitude jar and before going to sleep I will write down on a piece of paper a moment of beauty from the day for which I am grateful. On New Year's Eve this upcoming year I will read about all the positive things that filled up 2014. Among other things, I am grateful for the love of my family and friends, the return of snow, celebrating Christmas again with my mom and dad who came up to visit on New Year's Day bearing beautifully wrapped gifts, birds chirping and singing outside on a walk and nearby my bird feeders and the kisses of my 18 month old, cutie-pie of a boy, Kazmir.

gifts on New Year's Day with snow just beginning to fall outside

garden in snow

My house in the snow



Spruce Corner






For the last two weekends some of my cards and embroidery pieces were at the Spruce Corner Schoolhouse Holiday Sale. Above are some pictures of this magical little place. I traveled "over the river and through the woods" to get here and also seemed to travel back in time.

This little schoolhouse harkens back to another time when we educated our children in our small communities in one room buildings. Kids of all ages would gather to learn together. As I set up my things for the holiday sale my mind wandered. Part of me longs to send my child to this place with other kids of all ages, with a dedicated teacher who believes in creativity and story as well as math and science. Today schools often look like office buildings or even worse, prisons. They are often big impersonal spaces filled with people and tied to the clock like a factory. Although a place like this may be filled with good teachers and love, it is just hard for me to think about how big classrooms and schools have become in their physical size and numbers of students. The system is less personal. So when I come to this space for the holiday sale, as an artist and a holiday shopper, I start to day dream about "what if?". What if our small communities in the hills of MA could open some schoolhouses like this with a dedicated teacher and smaller groups of our children? Is it possible? What would it look like?

When I walk through the wooden door the first thing that I am aware of is the quiet. There is only the sound of the crackling fire and the hushed voices of other holiday shoppers. I also quickly become aware of the lack of electricity.  The light is all natural. On a cloudy day or at twilight the space has a muted, serene quality and on a sunny day the sun casts shadows, playing with the window panes and lovely arts and crafts objects that are for sale. A fire in the big wood stove heats the space. A top the stove a pot of spiced, hot apple cider infuses it's fragrance throughout the room. The building is truly how it would have been in the 18th and 19th centuries. There is no loud holiday pop music, no glaring flourescent lights and no crowds. It's a place where I can think and where I can enjoy what I'm looking at.

If you live in the area or find yourself in western MA during the first two weekends in December perhaps you would like to shop here too? The Spruce Corner Schoolhouse is on Rt. 116 between Ashfield and Plainfield, MA. This was my third time participating in this sale and I look forward to it every year.

Here are a few things that I purchased this year. I knitted knome for Kazi, a felted Christmas tree ornament and some felting materials to try my hand at felt painting.

It's a  beautiful frigid snow day here at my home and I'm keeping the wood stove pumping as I write this.  If you look closely at the picture with the knitted knome, out the window my sentient sunflower is still standing guard over our house and garden. Her head is bowed and she wears a cap of snow. I hope you are enjoying the warmth of the season where ever you are!

Winter Solstice




It's solstice already. The dark, cold, quiet time. In moments I'm met with an extreme sense of well being. Like when I'm driving over a hill, heading west at sundown and get to see the layers of clouds exhibiting many shades of gray with pastel colors illuminating them from beneath as the sun tucks itself in beyond the horizon. Tonight I had such a moment of quiet in the car, looking at the play of colors in the clouds and imagined sitting down to work it out with my water colors. Another time is when I stoke the fire in the wood stove and the logs light up cheerfully with bright flames providing a flickering dance to look at and cozy warmth to sit in front of with Kazmir and play. I've been listening to classical music a lot lately, the local public radio station in the car and using my Spotify account to listen to all kinds of interesting instrumental and vocal music. Russian folk guitar and the singing of Anonymous Four, their Wolcum Yule album, has been played a lot these past days. This stuff fits my mood perfectly. I need quiet, reflective music,  nothing too cheery or upbeat, something soul soothing and beautiful. Perhaps its my solace in this time of constant care giving. Giving all I have to another being and living by my son's schedule. I need soothing. I also need soothing in this time of hard realities in the world.

In my head, I've been thinking and dreaming about things I want to do. Things I'd like to make time for in my life. It's that time of year too. Time to reflect and make plans for the year ahead. I feel like I may be ready to begin my "independent studies" again soon. I just need to organize myself and my things so that it is easy to work on what I want to work on when I have a brief window of time. I just don't have a lot of open ended time. I get an hour here and an hour there and then there is the evening hours which are often still punctuated by Kaz's stirrings and need to nurse as he settles down for the night. I'm not good at working with interruptions or with clutter around. I need clarity around me so that I can think clearly. So I'll just have to do my best in this new reality. I do not want to stop working on what I was working on before the baby arrived. I want to pursue my dreams and passions and also be an example for Kaz so he can grow up witnessing adults around him following their dreams. I got an interesting email today from a man who found my blog by looking for information for the village of his ancestors which happens to be the same village where my Hungarian ancestors lived. This email got me to look back at my blog and read the post he found. I also read other posts from my trip in the summer or 2011. Wow! What a trip. Was that really me? I'm in such a different place now but still I know all that experience lives inside me. There is a lot more desire and longing for connection, understanding and learning in these areas of interest...folk culture, eastern Europe, art making and family....  I think it's time to start making baby steps in that direction again and hopefully some momentum will build and I will be able to move forward on dreams that are important to me.

Speaking of the holidays and dreams I will spend Christmas in Krakow someday. I just saw this link, an article on CNN"s travel page about Krakow at Christmastime, made by someone on Facebook and it totally touches on my longing to get back to Krakow....Old town center, Christmas Market, mulled wine. Time to really start my Polish language tapes in earnest.

On another note, it has been an exciting couple of months in that I've had my art work up at the Meekins Library in Williamsburg MA for November and December. It's been a very successful show and have gotten nice feedback, sold a few prints and lots of cards and may have gotten a commission to make paper cuts for a lampshade. My cards have been selling well in the handful of places I have them. That feels good too and I look forward to spending more time organizing and working on my design business this winter into next year.

Finally I want to wish you a happy and healthy holiday season and close to 2012. I wish you all many blessings and much love in 2013! To take us out, a picture of Kaz similar to what I chose to use for our holiday card this year. He's the best part of 2012 for us! His arrival has been a source of great joy. xoxo






After a holiday hiatus...

The eventful solstice/full moon/eclipse is behind us as well as the Christmas and New Year gatherings, expectations and reflections.  As I sit down to reconnect with my blog and write this, the first week of January is coming to an end, and snow is falling and gently covering the trees and ground with fresh and beautiful white. 

Like the new white, untouched snow, the new year seems fresh and yet ripe with both potential and uncertainty and the unknown.  For me, this new year is not one of joyful resolutions and brightly optimistic plans.  Instead it feels positive but serious...mysterious.  This is a time of deepening and reflecting on myself, my heart, on my relationships and on my path as I continually create the life I lead and desire to lead.  This is what I'll call my striving of being and becoming.  The striving of appreciating and being present in the moments that are my life and the striving of continually and consciously making choices that create a fulfilling, positive, creative and authentic life. 

I missed writing and sharing over the last few weeks as this blog has become a pleasurable way to personally and publicly journal using photos, thoughts, ideas, art work, garden work and music.  Very soon there will be more posts that are already in the works showing recent art work that I created in the time I wasn't posting, trees, thoughts on study & the creative process.... stay posted.  For now, here are some pictures I want to share.  They were taken between my last post and now.  Then, very soon, in a couple days, something fresh and so 2011!
During the hiatus I spent good time in my cheerful and cozy living room, thinking in front of the wood stove and Christmas tree  and enjoying the quiet light and warmth.

My very, very special friend, Gilligan, joined me on the couch for cozy hugs a lot of the time.  Una, my other very, very special kitty friend joined us too!   They are such good company!

Oh, and there was the pre-Christmas Italian food extravaganza at the infamous Northampton neighborhood eatery, Joes, with a dear friend.  We had a blast and honestly couldn't get over the amount of food we ordered!  A couple other diners marveled at our spread, shared some laughs and took our picture before we dug in.

... and finally a photo of a cold and bright winter sundown taken earlier this week as I pulled up the road on my way home from work.  I see this as an image telling of bright and positive things, actions, creations and manifestations ahead.  Wishing you good things this new year...