Tag Archives: solstice

Solstice means Sun Standing Still

Wendell Barry’s lines: “make a poem that does not disturb / the silence from which it came,” served as a writing prompt this week. Tall order, that! In fact, those lines would make a useful weekly prompt for the rest of my life (the full Berry poem, below).

SoulCollage : Solstice

Here’s a version of what I wrote on Tuesday.

Even when lids shut, the tissue
aquiver — the scroll of light
rolling on, a form of

I want to go through my days,
my nights, like a rib cage.
Each curving spear connected
at a central pole. Sure
in form, sure in purpose,
protecting the two wind
lobes and the single beating
fist — lungs and heart safer
for the bony embrace.

Instead, a vibrato of uncertainty.

How has the non-tactile
flow of damage gained ascendancy
over sinew and nerve,
crowding out all the places
in the body that crave

One day those ribs will spear
dirt and crumble. Shouldn’t the body
being Hand Maiden to Death wake
us out of stupor now
and then?

Let me eat a cracker
with a smidge of butter.
Let me sweep the steps free of snow
and then sleep under a blanket
that whispers ‘hallelujah.’
Let the sun falling on tabletops
stir gratitude.

The Solstice is here.
Let ‘standing still’ mean something.

Wendell Berry’s poem, “How to Be a Poet,” from “Given:”

Make a place to sit down
Sit down. Be quiet. [ . . .]

Breathe with unconditional breath
the unconditional air.
Shun electric wire.
Communicate slowly. Live
a three-dimensional life;
stay away from screens.
Stay away from anything
that obscures the place it is in.
There are no unsacred places;
there are only sacred places
and desecrated places.

Accept what comes from silence.
Make the best you can of it.
Of the little words that come
out of the silence, like prayers
prayed back to the one who prays,
make a poem that does not disturb
the silence from which it came.

So many lines there to use as springboards!

I made my crack of day (not quite dawn) run to Wegman’s. Shallots, greens, prosciutto, corn meal, dill and sage, oranges and oyster mushrooms. Tonight: a Solstice Party at a neighbor’s (see last year’s post on ‘the Irish Goodbye’). I’ll bring an onion tart. Christmas Eve, dinner for eight. Ham, smashed potatoes, Brussels sprouts and cukes in vinegar. Slight variation on a meal I’ve made many times.

Any nice ideas for dessert?

With the boys and now my niece living so far away (LA, Boulder, San Fran), I’m really looking forward to this.

Happy Solstice to you!
May the richness of the dark touch you, nourish you,
and bring us all forward into the light.

PS I went to see if my first blog post was December 2009 so as to mention TEN YEARS of blogging. Turns out the first came December 2008. Imagine that! Eleven years here.

Mail from Michelle. More on that to come.

Also, have to post this. It goes to season, darkness, and the hope for cycling into light, after all.



Rain and drafts

IMG_6674It rained and rained and then rained some more. I knew it would start flowing through our stone foundation at some point, and it did. I used a sponge mop and a wet vac and big old beach towels to sop it up. Fortunately, the water didn’t make it to the studio section.
IMG_6667This is the ground BEFORE all the rain. Our old windows are super drafty. This year, I am trying to block the cold air with fabric. Inside – a roll of linen. On the sill — good Irish wool stuffed with gravel. It makes a difference!
IMG_6696Just before bed, I burn candles. The Rembrandt poster is out for the season (baby on right margin). Amaryllis, an early gift from my sister. Soon, it will be the Solstice.

Change afoot

olive et gourmande, Montreal (last week)

olive et gourmande, Montreal (last week)

The blogging rhythm broken, giving me a bewildered sense of loss… I really am not overstating. It’s been months of trying to figure out what’s up. First it was the crashing, frustrating, newly installed PSE11 (not anymore, thankfully). Then it was D.’s college applications (done!). And tours (done for now!) Attention to writing. Major decluttering. Runs to Salem. Montreal. Schenectady.


filled with lavender buds !

And, all the while, I am sewing. Not a little. A LOT… moving pieces of fabric around, and listening to myself think. I became, this fall, weirdly resistant to being influenced. Unable, suddenly and almost violently, to partake of community that had been a place of solace and learning.  I hated the isolation created by walking away, but somehow the need to preserve some quality of solitude kept winning out.

Yesterday, it occurred to me that the decluttering impulse, twinned with solitude, could very possibly be the soul at work — struggling to create the necessary conditions for integration… muscling things about so that I can make visual pieces more congruent with where I’m at, more expressive of what’s up, and with a lighter hand.  Dare I wish this be so?!

I don’t know yet, but all of a sudden, this excites me. I am prepared to be ruthless to make it so. To be ruthless, so that I can become lighter. This makes me laugh and I’ll take that as a good sign!

Second Solstice

The storm, a day later — this morning.  Rosy sky.  Crisp air, but not freezing.

December light on Saturday.  In the studio I block it near the cutting table, or I am walking in and out of glare as I step from machines to the ironing board.  Not a sensation I like.

But upstairs, the light is welcome.

One year of blogging seems to ask for a kind of note.  So here it is —

For someone who struggles to stand in her own routines, I have to say this is more of an accomplishment than you (dear reader) may realize.   For 2010, I plan to double my posting rhythm — up to twice a week.  Dog-terror-of-camera-or no! Lack-of -decent-tripod-or-no! Sore wrists and boundary issues to be dealt with!

Declaring an intention to one’s pack, according to Cesar Millan, is more important that consistency — music to my ADD-addled ears!!!!


A few weeks of things being canceled, or shuffled, first to the left, then to the right.  Questions arise: What’s too much? What’s just right? And why, exactly?

And of course, at the quarters of the year, particularly as we move toward Capricorn with its ruler, Saturn (Father Chronos), time seems to be something begging for new consideration.

I like it. It feels exciting, somehow.

Solstice = ‘Standing Still’

looking-upToday I will go buy Lawrence Lessig’s book “Remix” as a gift for C. so that I can read it, too.  Heard Lessig on NPR yesterday on my way to a time warp in Wellesley.  Given that I have never texted a message or set up voicemail on my cell phone or downloaded pictures from it, it’s time for me to make a little effort.  I’d like to know how to make a transparent layer in Photoshop Elements,  create a podcast and understand the junk in the wordpress forums.  What’s incredible is that I can blog from this far on the other side of the generation gap!

Thank god for Terri Gross, because traffic was snarled up bad.  Never seen Rte. 16 like that.  Probably those folks who would have run around over the weekend put it off on account of the snow.  I had to drive laps in the parking lot and stalk an exiting shopper to land a space.  Normally, I’d be on fire with impatience.  Instead, I hardly recognized myself.   “Which blue cheese would you recommend in a salad with iceberg lettuce?”  “Will these rolls stay fresh until Christmas?” Days earlier, as if part of this approaching timelessness, my watch had gone missing.  I was wandering through the dairy aisle, where several languages were being spoken, supposedly efficient and instead, chatty.  “Is whipping cream the same as heavy cream?”  (I knew the answer, but I guess the approaching time warp was unnerving me).  “Hood, is all the difference.  Hood,” said the dairy guy, who was causing gridlock with his long metal cart.  A grey-haired wool-clad Protestant (I could tell she’d be entertaining for Christmas) nodded, “the same.”  Combing the freezers for puff pastry, I suddenly realized that I had no idea what time it was.  (Thank god for those unsalted pretzels causing such a stink at my house awhile back — I know now never to shop without my glasses).  So, I could see the time on my phone.  YIKES!!  2:38 and I still had to mail my most recent etsy sale box!  I left D. a message.  Then the phone started beeping to tell me it was dying.  And that’s when I knew.  It was the powerful turning of the year.   Standing in Aisle 7 of Roche Brothers in Wellesley, I dropped into a place of expanse, a place where time rushes, then stands still, and rushes again.  Where time, in other words, has no meaning.  It made me giddy.

Solstice, I re-learned reading Joan Hodgson in the bathtub the day before, means ‘standing still.’  How much we long, this darkest time of year, to enter the silence and be still!  And, yet, the holiday asks that we pound the pavement and wander around buying stuff and later rustle up tape, and lights, and nutcrackers from boxes and attics and then to clean and arrange and entertain.  Such warring impulses!  That’s how a little insomnia ended up serving the soul on December 21.






Merry Christmas readers!  Happy Hanukkah!  Blessings of the Solstice!


Lastly, to build on a previous post on fabric and FELT, let me refer you to an amazing etsy crafter ‘kjoo’ who makes felt chokers.


Check out her creations.  I want to know how to felt wool ropes like that so that I can try something along these lines (but my way, of course.  Not to steal). Does anyone have a felting how-to site they’d recommend? How would those felt coils feel around the neck, I wonder? Don’t they look primitive, African, and absolutely stunning?!