07.30.15.Black Eyed Susans

My hubby and I own a former Roman Catholic Church we call Shire City Sanctuary. http://www.ShireCitySanctuary.com  It is a Makerspace.  A Makerspace is like a gym for makers. There are day passes and monthly memberships. Members get a key and are welcome to come and go whenever they want. Equipment and workspace is shared. Lockers, Tubs, Shelves, and Studios are options for those who need storage or desire private workspace. There are classes and weekly public events. Oh and an AhhhMazing Event Space that anyone can rent. There is an strong community of collaborators gathering here that is super exciting!

07.30.15.ShadeIn addition, Shire City Sanctuary is residential. Four apartments are complete and inhabited (with two more to come) in the former rectory, next door to the church. We bought the buildings from the diocese in 2006 and moved in so we could slowly but surely turn the building into truly beautiful, ‘green’ apartments. Lots of reused marble from the church, moldings made with lumber from pews, no VOC paint, blown in cellulous insulation, were used to a make apartments where we would want to live. (Oh, and we did live in every corner of the building while we renovated.)07.30.15.ChurchThe two buildings, church and rectory, form a campus-like feel and are surrounded by amazing green space. This spring Chris and I hired Matt Lamb and Jay Allard of Berkshire Earth Regenerators https://www.facebook.com/pages/Berkshire-Earth-Regenerators/1640322502874493?fref=ts to transform the yard into a beautiful space for us, and our tenants, to spend time. 07.30.15.MattOn Earthday we had seen a screening of Inhabit http://inhabitfilm.com/film/ hosted by Matt at Dottie’s Coffee Lounge http://dottiescoffeelounge.com/  The subject matter was pretty enligtening and Matt’s enthusiasm encouraged us to consider how our city and specifically our greenspace at Shire City Sanctuary really needed to be overhauled becoming organic, low maintenance, productive, biodiverse, and useful space.07.30.15.Hoogle Bed 

Matt was really excited when we approached him with our idea to Permaculture-Up the grounds at our center-city property and he set right to work. He walked the property, and assessed what we had growing there. He cleaned up trash, turned the neglected compost piles, and walked the property more, observing all the while.  Next he arranged a tenant meeting to establish how this greenspace should function to best serve the people who would use it most. After some careful thought and deliberation, he formed a solid plan for the space with stages of installment.  07.30.15.BlackCapsThen Berkshire Earth Regenerators showed up with a crew of the most amazing helpers and worked HARD for about a week. They planted a hoogle bed, buffering noise and creating privacy. They built a beautiful shade structure to hang out in, created a swale to conserve and use rain water most efficiently. There are walkways, flowers and food growing. Soil is being nurtured with cover crops. Butterflies are fluttering, children are playing and our family dogs are finding shade.  07.30.15.QuinnIn just 6 weeks our property has been transformed and we have just gotten started.  We are really excited to keep the project going. Now that we have our first stage at the rectory solidly underway, we plan to encompass the church with permaculture and spread it as far and wide as we can. Ideas include lots of food and flowers right in front of the church, a rainwater catchment system (off a very large slate roof), fruit and nut trees that overhang our sidewalk with produce to share, a driveway changed from asphalt to pavers that allow drainage and greenspace, bunny tractors, bee hives, and chickens.  All in the heart of a predominantly asphalt covered small city in western Massachusetts. Feels like we might just be part of the solution and THAT feels really really good.  Thank you Matt Lamb and Berkshire Earth Regenerators!

07.26.15.1

I am by no means well versed in the world of Macrobiotics. Since September 1, 2014 my diet has been macrobiotic based and my health is in recovery. A week long cooking intensive at The Kushi Institute gave me a starting place and since then I have been preparing and eating macrobiotic food and working it in to my lifestyle. There is so much more to it than just what to eat and what not to eat. Lessons come everyday and I feel stronger and more independent as time passes. No more super expensive medication and all their side effects to treat Ulcerative Colitis. No more abdominal pain, GI bleeding, diarreah or uneasiness in public – no symptoms at all actually! No refined sugar, no dairy, no animal products other than very occasional seafood, no coffee, no burgers, no nightshades, ahhhh what else? Beer’s OK. This might sound super limiting and unappealing to many. Feeling healthy, whole, happy and knowing that my food choices encourage planetary balance works for me.

 

Other than breakfast, meals consist of 5 food items including Beans, Grain, Long Cooked Vegetable, Short Cooked Vegetable and some sort of Pickle. Soup is considered a must as well. As anyone with children and a social life in this culture can attest, this ideal is not always possible. I follow the rules until they don’t work in my lifestyle. I eat leftovers, in fact I actually MAKE leftovers cooking enough for three or four meals at a time. I use more coconut oil than I should and probably eat more seeds and nuts than any one person actually needs. I even use honey once in a while (and it is an animal product!).

I soak my beans and grains before cooking, I use a pressure cooker, gas stove, organic foods, I use ume plums, dried daikon, shitake mushrooms, dried lotus root, oh and sea vegetables, lots of sea vegetables. I make miso soup and it is nurturing. I eat lots of greens.07.26.15.collage

Having been at this a little while I am starting to come up with some darn good recipes. In all honesty, it is questionable if people accustomed to eating the traditional American diet would think my recipes are GREAT but I sure do. I’ll post one here every now and again. Stay tuned and let me know if you are dealing with a diagnosis that is kicking your ass. Not sure if macrobiotics is for you, but I can tell you a lot of healing goes on at The Kushi Institute. Never thought it would be the answer I have found it to be! Yay Me!

macrobiotics

noun, ( used with a singular verb)

a philosophically oriented program incorporating elements from several ancient cultures and emphasizing harmony with nature, especially through adherence to a diet consisting primarily of whole grains, beans, vegetables, and moderate amounts of seafood and fruit.

Do you people read horoscopes? I remember scrolls we used to buy at the supermarket in a little plastic tube a different color each month kinda mezuzah-like. The scroll – a long list of daily vague assertions and destiny of love interests held by a future based on birth sign. They were all so similar, one month to the next, one sign or another.

We can celebrate! Along with food quality and environmental awareness horoscopes seem to have undergone a rebirth of sorts since my teenage years. Look at what I’m seeing as I am madly planning, organizing, researching, tidying, and plotting our year in Ireland. Here is my favorite: http://www.chronogram.com/hudsonvalley/sagitarius-for-july/Content?oid=2316411

 And another really good one: http://freewillastrology.com/horoscopes/sagittarius.html

Thanks to Eric Francis Coppolino Rob Brezsny, this month, more than ever, I’m feeling like I am on the right track, definitely counting my lucky stars.

Where do you find your favorite birth sign based predictions?

Horoscope from the book of the birth of Iskandar Wellcome

Time marches on and planning and work are coming along nicely.  Three things we need to get in order before we head across the pond on sabbatical are: 

  1. Creating a sustainable financial model for Shire City Sanctuary
  2. Renting our house
  3. Figuring out what to do with our house pets

A giant step in accomplishing the first goal happened last Monday.  (More on the second and third goals to come.)

07.20.15 Shire City Sessions

We had our kick off event for Shire City Sessions on July 20 and it was a great success! Over 400 people turned out to see The Lucky 5 Band and US Elevator with special guest members of Deer Tick in our parking lot. The day was sunny and bright, music magical, ice cold craft beer from Big Elm Brewing and tasty eats from How We Roll all made the evening memorable. It came about with the serendipitous forming of a group of Pittsfield based business leaders who wanted to do something great for our community. There will be two more ‘Sessions’ to round out our debut season of Compuworks Shire City Sessions. You can see more about them at our facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/ShireCitySessions?fref=ts

 

05.26.15 Call To Makers

In other news, vendor applications for Shire City Sanctuary’s Holiday Shindy are open until August 1. This event grew out of CRISPINA studio sales. Those of you who have been following along for more than a few years will remember the highjinx we had WAY back in Millerton, NY where it all started. Then Housatonic was our base where Big Fun Studio Sales happened a few times a year with music and craft beer (see the pattern?) in our south county riverside parking lot at the old Monument Mills complex.  In 2006 when we bought this big beautiful church in Pittsfield it became the destination and it is our current location where a few studio sales predated the Holiday Shindy.  Since CRISPINA’s high volume production days ended in 2008 Studio Sales have morphed into magical gatherings of nearly 60 regional makers of notable eats, crafts, clothing and the like. The vibe celebrates making with a whole lot more creative people involved.  There is live music, warm community, wonderful shopping and Santa ususally shows up. And just so you know, A Shindy is an uproarious rumpus. Help spread the word to creative makers in your circles to apply for The Berkshires premiere holiday sales event, Shire City Sanctuary’s Holiday Shindy 2015. Here is a link to the application: http://shirecitysanctuary.com/2015-shindy-application/

 

 

Got back from my Irish adventure planning and hit the ground running with a refreshed essence of understanding clear goals requiring hard work.

Shire City Sessions stage building was a wonderful collaboration on Saturday as I was rubbing the jetlag from the corners on my eyes. Sunday and today were filled with some of the most amazing women in the studio at my Potholder Rug Workshop here at Shire City Sanctuary. Tomorrow there are meetings and interviews to promote Shire City Sessions and Oh Boy I feel like I need a vacation (yes! I did just get back from one.)

My creative goal is to turn my stock of materials into awesome fresh marketable product for the last three sales events on my 2015 calendar – you know Straw into Gold! Mark your calendars now and make a plan to come see me at NY Sheep and Wool Festival in Rhinebeck NY on October 17 and 18 2015, Hudson Valley Exchange’s Basilica Farm and Flea in Hudson on Thanksgiving weekend and/or our very own Shire City Sanctuary’s Holiday Shindy December 11-13. At the end of this year I will take a break from making using recycled textiles. There will be fresh new work in the future but if you love what I make and have wanted something special to warm your heart or home, don’t miss out. This will be the end of an era.

Ok now back to cutting stencils for The Dolphin Studio’s 2016 calendar and maybe even squeezing in a short run of art posters for our first Shire City Session kicking off one week from today with The Lucky 5 Band and U.S. Elevator 5-9pm at Shire City Sanctuary. Food Trucks, Craft Beer and GREAT music – FREE

Good thing I love running.

On my run this morning what I thought was a leaf, fluttered to the ground in front of me. I reached out my hand and found a butterfly wing. Feels right – a beautiful metamorphosis is in the making. Funny the reminders we are literally handed along the way.

 

07.13.15.1Have you had a reminder to stay on your path lately? Leave a comment and share your story.

07.09.15.1

We are hoping that our year-long stay in Ireland will teach how to slow down. Both Chris and I know that we want to simplify and seem to have trouble figuring out how to do it with all our commitments. My schedule upon return from this short trip is already overwhelmed. The next 12 months will be filled with delegating what we can to the helpers around us, and focusing carefully on not taking-on anything new. There are still lots of details to work out but the bulk of our travel logistics are underway.

07.09.15.3

The adventure of culture change for our family is exciting. This time tomorrow we will be heading to the airport in our tiny little car that has used less than a tank of gas all week with lots of excursions. The week has flown by full of family, history, and finding solutions to conumdrums in a foreign land – all of it wonderful – including my sweet friends who were kind enough to join me on my mission. Looking forward to being reunited with my littles and sweet husband. And then, getting back to my grind – with a renewed sense of exciting change.  

07.09.15.2

07.06.15.3

My father was one of my best friends. He was an amazing artist, storyteller, travel companion, and house cleaner. Most of all, he had magical gardens. He did not have a mere green thumb, but hands full of nurturing and colorful creativity. His prized garden thrives at the house he and my sweet mother left to me and my sister in Kinvara, on the west coast of Ireland. I am visiting here now, channeling his sense of high-jinx and adventure with dear friends researching a family adventure that my hubby and littles will embark on in September 2016. We are getting ducks in a row to spend a year here. Learning about schools, and health insurance, and getting passports. AND learning about the amazing array of plants in this magical garden that will soon be mine to tend.07.06.15.2

06.29.15

Slowing down meant that today I stayed home with Lucy while Violet ventured out to Day Camp all on her own. We had a wonderful day being silly and getting things done a little gardening, a nice run, a bunch of computer work, and it culminated with her making tortillas from scratch for dinner – great to get a little hiatus before the whirlwind of the coming rest of the week.

Some of you might know that my son lives with a pretty severe heart condition, a Restrictive Myopathy. On Thursday he will undergo a risky procedure to restore a normal heart rhythm. My connection to our higher power is heightened and I feel positive and confident that Ben will weather this well and feel a sense of relief shortly afterward. Getting myself into this frame of mind requires an enormous level of energy.

On Friday I have a ticket to Ireland with two dear friends where we will spend an abbreviated stay exploring and preparing for our next family adventure. More on that another time.

Before any of this happens I need to get a few things done in the studio to be sure the momentum keeps flowing in my 10-day absence.

06.29.15.1Two the things will happen shortly after my return home. First I will be teaching my last Potholder Rug Workshop of the year on July 12 and 13. It is a Sunday/Monday and there are spots open for both days. You can register here – https://www.etsy.com/listing/208714254/july-12-13-2015-potholder-rug-weaving?ref=pr_shop

Second, Shire City Sessions will be turning this parking lot into a Live Music, Craft Beer, Food Truck EXTRAVAGANZA for the first time on July 20. There are posters to hang, t-shirts to print, reuseable cups to order and YIKES so little time!2015-06-26 19.06.51

Send a prayer to Ben. Let him and his issues be a reminder to love the ones you hold dear to your heart. Everyday you have to share with those special people is a blessing. Life is beautiful and precious.

paperdolls

Ten years ago, I fell in love with painting chickens. I don’t know where the urge came from, but when it hit, it hit hard. This led of course, to looking at chickens a lot – or should I say, trying to look at them, as they never seemed to stay still for very long. I became fascinated by chickens and over time I’ve learned some fancy facts about our feathery friends.
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06.25.3.15

My hubby and I own a former Catholic Church and rectory next door in Pittsfield MA. You might know about it – called Shire City Sanctuary – a Makerspace in the former church AND we have turned the adjacent rectory into 4 apartments right in the heart of our healing city. (Pittsfield has a long history of toxicity left in the wake of General Electric’s production – PCBs in the river, tainted soil given to land owners as ‘clean fill’ and even used in public school playgrounds.) For 30 years the EPA and GE have been arguing, talking about, and promising to cleaning it up and they never will. It has been such a long time that most people don’t remember the atrocities.

We remember – and know that waiting around for other people or government agencies to do the right thing is most often wasted time. We are taking the healing into our own hands.

Jay and Matt Lamb of Berkshire Earth Brigade working on a shade structure for vertical beds and a sitting area.
Jay Allard and Matt Lamb working on a shade structure for vertical beds and a sitting area.

Here is how: with Permaculture.

We are healing our ground with plants and mushrooms, creating productive, low maintenance, nurturing gardens for our tenants and neighbors to use and enjoy. We have hired Matt Lamb and a couple collaborators to turn our grounds into a magical healing wonderland of food and beauty. Stay tuned here for updates and pictures throughout the seasons. It all just started and is off to an amazing start.06.25.4.15