From Braiding Sweetgrass: . . . Until we can grieve for our planet we cannot love it — grieving is a sign of spiritual health. But it is not enough to weep for our lost landscapes; we have to put our hands in the earth to make ourselves whole again. Even a wounded world is feeding us. Even a wounded world holds us, giving us moments of wonder and joy. I choose joy over despair. Not because I have my head in the sand, but because joy is what the earth gives me daily and I must return the gift.

I choose joy so I plant acorns and hope they grow into trees.

I choose joy so I plant trees in an effort to reforest our Idlewild farm.

I choose joy so I plant a small, intensive garden so that the wild things can enjoy the rest of the space.

I choose joy so I fence in the front yard so that Jasper may run and romp, but not hurt or hunt the wild things that live beyond the fence.

I choose joy . . .

I choose wonder . . .

I choose gratitude . . .

ItF: Assignment 3

Love God, Love Your Neighbor

As I grow more and more into this Celtic Spirituality, I am learning that all things can be made simpler by asking “Does this live out love God / love neighbor?” If it doesn’t then I do not need to step into it or I need to step back from it.

Choosing to live a simple lifestyle and choosing to care for creation are two ways that I show love of God and love of my neighbor. There are many ways that this could be fleshed out, but I find the 4 key words in our study quite helpful. I would add one more word – curious.

Clean: I do love a tidy house. I do not love to tidy the house. This is one of the great contradictions in my life. I have worked hard over the years to follow the “beautiful and necessary” way of thinking about my things. I also prefer things powered by people to electric options. I have a couple of burners, a small oven, freezer, washing machine, and blender. Everything else is manual. I love the quietness it brings to the house. I love the quiet meditation that accompanies the mixing and kneading of bread, the swishing of the broom, the smell of laundry fresh off the clothes line (or in the winter, fresh from behind the wood stove), the sound of fans blowing in the summer, and the crackling of the wood as it heats our home in the winter.

I clean our home, laundry, pets and people with the most natural cleaners I can find. Castile soap, baking soda, vinegar are all that is in my cleaning cupboard. I try to buy natural materials: cotton, wool, linen, leather, wood, stone, glass, etc. These things can be returned to the earth (via our compost pile) at the end of their life.

Clear: I have for many years followed the “one in, one out” rule for my personal possessions. I only buy to replace and I try to buy as ethically and sustainably as I can.  When I am “clearing out” a part of our home, I try to envision who could benefit from the item and ask them if they would like it. My last resort is the thrift shop kind of store.

The toughest area for me to keep clear is my bookshelf. I used to have an 18’x13′ room lined with bookshelves. I realized one day that it was a true waste and very selfish of me. So I chose one 3 shelf wooden bookshelf and put only my absolute favorite books on two of the shelves. All others were donated to our small town library. Which incidentally more than doubled the books available to my neighbors. I have to think long and hard before buying a physical copy of a book because it means another book must be taken off the shelf and donated. I do keep one shelf for current study projects. As you can imagine this year it is full of Celtic theology and spirituality books. At the end of the year I will choose a few to keep and the rest will go to my church and the local library. I am sensing a great reluctance to part with any of them. I haven’t had that kind of trouble in many years. It might be that I have to look to my farming section and fiction section to clear some space. Yet, those spaces are full of dearly beloved books.

Compassionate: If I love my neighbor, I will take only what I need and leave plenty for another.  I can practice this by leaving the edges our property to the wild creatures. Letting trees grow up to shelter them, planting trees and plants that can feed them throughout the year. I can also practice this by sharing the bounty of my garden with neighbors, parish members, and the community food pantry. It is ok for me to continue to preserve enough of our harvest to feed our family throughout the year because this frees up more money in the budget that can be given to those in need.

We also practice compassion by sharing our knowledge of living lightly with and on the land with our neighbors.

Creative: When we chose to live as simply and eco-friendly as we could, we had to make a lot of creative decisions. If you are going to give up AC, you need creative solutions to stay cool. Same with the electric furnace, the on-demand hot water, etc.

Our recreation hours are also filled with creative endeavors: I knit, crochet, write and read. My children (adults, but still my kids) write, draw, paint and read. My husband paints, draws, and is constantly finding ways to improve our bikes and camping gear. My daughter recently decided to explore paper making. She is a published author and goes through paper in enormous amounts, so she’s trying to find a way to reuse her first drafts as new paper for new first drafts. I decided that I wanted to start playing with watercolor paints as an avenue of expression. As a family we enjoy cooperative card games and watching shows together. My son, with autism, has a love of superhero movies and so we often can be found watching a movie and eating pizza in front of the tv on a Saturday evening. Pizza is one of our exceptions to the Eco-friendly and simple rule. We simply must have pizza!

Curious:  I would add curious to the list of four words. Without being curious we would never seek out and explore new ways of thinking and doing things. Curiosity, which is often a gentle push by God, led me to approaching my priest and eventually ended up as a Celtic spirituality worship grant; which  led us to Kenneth McIntosh, which led to me finding out about this community and that led to this course and a decision to take the Explorer vows when the time comes.


New Harmony, 1



In bag’s main compartment in a small Eagle Creek specter packing cube: pjs, cardigan, UV shirt, t-shirt, bra, under”roos”, socks,

In bag’s back pocket: Welsh notebook, journal

In bag’s front pockets: water bottle (with filter), Iberian cube (Kind bars, red light flashlight, charging cable, peanut butter packets, Rx), Ultraviolet cube (face serum, sunscreen, deodorant crystal, toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, shampoo bar sliver).

In purse: sunglasses, wallet, foldable grocery bag, sun hat, fountain pen, tide stick, go-everywhere pouch (nail clippers, pocket knife, bandaids, Pepto, emery board) and phone.


Advent Observations 3

The last full week of Advent. This week we lit the third candle and relished the simplicity of these quiet evenings.


Jasper isn’t sure about all this deep cleaning and food preparation.


I’ve been saving the clementine, orange, and lemon peels for making cleaner. Just fill up the jar and add vinegar. Let sit in a dark place for 2 weeks. Strain out peels and dilute with water. I do a 1:1.


Yoga, every darn day . . . right after my walk, followed by meditation.

Advent Observations 2

Advent week 2 passed quickly and quietly. All gifts are purchased and wrapped. We wrap all our gifts in wool tartan fabric or canvas bags (depending on the size).

As we continue this season, I find I truly love our rustic and eco-minded Advent wreath. The beeswax leaves such a delicious scent in the air. So far the first tealight candle is still going strong.

#Rough — Kelly cut this nice round of wood for me to use as the base of our wreath.

#Wild — Our parish practiced stenciling on t-shirts and canvas bags for a big upcoming project. This beautiful heart reminds me that faith can be a wild ride at times. It also reminds me of the line “Let my soul rise up to meet you as the day rises to meet the sun.”


#Grow — As I grow in faith, simplicity becomes more meaningful.

#Smooth — My inflammation buster tea. I’m seeing benefits and enjoying the tangy taste.

#Cry — Happy tears as our son turns 30. He taught me motherhood, unconditional love, and a fierceness.

Advent Observations 1

Watch: Deleted my FB account. Watching drops of water fall from the branches. One at a time. Slowly. Peacefully.

Focus: Deep breaths. Self-care. Gratitude

Night: I love watching the flames dance in the wood stove at night. The crackling is almost hypnotic.


Light: Morning has broken like the first morning 🎼  I have a truly awful singing voice, but I’m singing some old favorites this morning anyway.

Sprout: I start my days, lately, with a mug of Casablanca Twist tea from Adagio Teas.


Advent 2018

Advent —   Here is last year’s blog post on Advent. It is much more my philosophy and this year’s post is more pragmatic.

Since renewing my commitment to live a small and regenerative life I notice areas where we are doing ok, but could definitely make some improvements. This year, Advent is getting a slight makeover.

Last year: Advent wreath with paraffin candles, and plastic bits and bobs attached to a wreath frame.

Not too bad, but I wanted to look at how the candles of Advent could be carried forward through the year, how we could use non-paraffin candles, and how the wreath itself could be changed for one that could reflect the seasons.


What I’ve come up with is a wreath made from our grapevines, sitting on cardboard, with glass candle holders, beeswax candles, and seasonal decor filling up the spaces between the candles. Ideally (and ultimately), I want Kelly to bring in a round of wood just the size of the wreath so that it becomes its own little table/stool/home altar.

I melt beeswax into little plastic tea light cups (that I use over and over again). I do have to buy the wicks, but I try to find the hemp ones. About 4 years ago I bought 2 pounds of beeswax and we are still using it for candles and salves. Bees are hopefully getting added to our little farm sometime in the next few Springs. That should make the beeswax even better!


Each evening of Advent, we light the candle(s) and this year we are reading David Cole’s A Celtic Advent..It is a quiet, peaceful transition into the darker evenings. It lends itself to less television and more reading.  Just the way I like it!


What I’m reading:  The Celtic Way of Prayer, New York 2140, A Celtic Advent

What I’m listening to: The Last Star and Harry Potter 1 (Sad, but true fact: When we first got Jasper we listened to HP audiobooks every night as a family. Jasper always fell asleep and I would carry him to his bed and then go to bed. Now, he sleeps best if Jim Dale is reading in the background.)

What I’m watching:  Nothing this week

What I’m learning in Welsh:  Lots of vocabulary, a bit of grammar.

  • animals
  • months
  • seasons
  • numbers
  • days
  • plus a ton of review

What I’m thinking about:  Rainwater collection systems, gravity fed household water supply, designing a “sustainable village” for an author, and Advent.