“Zen emphasizes rigorous self-restraint, meditation-practice, insight into the nature of mind.” Meditation of any sort can help reduce stress.

My Zen time is spinning with my spindles. It is total focus on the single process, it quiets my mind, slows my breathing. That wasn’t always the case, like with any new endeavor, there is a lot of tension involved as you learn the skills, but with time, you relax and it becomes enjoyable. I have been spinning now for over a decade, starting with spindles, moving on to wheels, and for the past 8 months or so, returning to spindles.

When spinning with my spindles, whether in my chair, the car, waiting for an appointment, or out in nature, I feel my shoulders relax, the tension drain from my neck, my breathing focused. It gives my mind a non stressful activity on which to focus, a form of meditation. It ceases to be production and instead, is a serene, peaceful activity. I am still making yarn, but at a much slower pace.

As I am approaching the end of the month, as a spindle is filled and emptied, it isn’t necessarily getting refilled. The Fig Aegean, my largest spindle is resting right now, my newest Ambrosia Wren is filling, the smallest Honduran Rosewood Finch is almost full and will soon sit idle for a few days. The notched shaft bottom whorl in the left of the bowl is my Living History spindle and doesn’t generally spin at home. They rest in a wooden trencher, also from living history, or sometimes a basket or pottery dish depending on my mood. And it all sits on a small hand woven “towel.” The weaving process is still in the tension filling realm as I haven’t gotten good enough at it for it to be relaxing, maybe someday.

In a few weeks, some of my yarn, knits, weaves, body care items will go to Wilderness Road Regional Museum to an Honor System craft display during their Noel Nights weekend. If you are interested, you can reserve a spot for a tour, goodies, and shopping on their website. Twenty percent of my proceeds from that event will be donated to the museum for their operation and educational programming.

Another year gone by

Seventy Three years ago today, I was born not far from where we now live in retirement. I didn’t grow up here, and visited only once until we bought our farm acreage here in the mountains. My maternal grandfather was born a few miles from our farm and grew up in this county. There is a community that bears his family name. He grew up to become a physician and opened and worked in a hospital a little farther west in West Virginia, where my mother was raised.

I woke this morning to a beautiful fall day that will warm to almost springtime temperatures later and my dear hubby is doing all he can to make this a great day in spite of the isolation from family. As it was getting light outside and doggie and chicken chores were being done, I saw our little deer herd that has been staying near the house as they moved into the thicket to hunker down in safety from the hunters. I will be glad when hunting season is over.

Knowing that I love the Jenkin’s Turkish spindles, he reached out to them and purchased me a gorgeous Ambrosia Maple spindle as a gift. The Jenkins make beautiful spinning equipment and every spindle comes wrapped in fiber from various vendors, many near them. This is my birthday gift from him, a very loving offering.

As Saturday mornings are Farmer’s Market mornings, he got up early and we were at the market as it opened to pick up our pre-ordered goodies. He sits in the car safely as I masked and dash through gathering the vegetables, meats, breads, cheese and butter to add more to the freezer and for the week’s sustenance.

Every year since our first year together in 1977, we have purchased an ornament for our Christmas tree. In years that we had a new child, there would be a baby’s first ornament to add as well. Early years, they were usually a dated Hallmark ornament, but in recent years, we have purchased ones on a vacation or at a craft show. This year with no craft shows, but with the Holiday Markets, I did a quick stop at her stand, and added another one from my potter friend, Bethany, at Dashing Dog Studio.

After it warms a bit more, we will go to my favorite hiking spot and take a walk in the woods together, and later this evening, a curbside pick up of dinner from a restaurant we like, though this year’s birthday dinner will be eaten in the car.

I am fortunate to enter this year still in good health and good physical condition. I hope to see many more, still healthy and young at heart.

Olio 11/20/2020

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things (thoughts)

Every night this week has been a frost night, two nights into the 20’s f (-2-3 c). Though I was hoping for fresh peas for Thanksgiving, the wind was blowing so hard those days that putting down plastic would have been impossible alone. A few years ago I had some very flexible 12 foot long fiberglass poles that could be used to form a tunnel to cover with grow fabric or plastic, but they splintered over time and only one remains. I couldn’t make a tunnel with just one. If a tunnel had been made over the peas that could be opened for ventilation during the day and sealed up at night, perhaps they would have survived until this weekend when we are back in the upper 60’s f daytimes and only in the 40’s at night. Maybe next year the fall garden will be covered with a tunnel to protect it longer.

The chickens have had the run of the garden and they are doing a great job of breaking down the compost pile and weeding the beds.

The area to the left of the boxes will be returned to beds in the spring and the compost moved back to the shadier area. I wish the hens would do the same scratching and weeding in the paths between the beds, and move down to the “mint” bed and the long box below it, but they seem to like this corner. As online ordered and virtual craft show ordered gifts are arriving, I am saving cardboard again for springtime maintenance and more bed building efforts.

I have always been one to accumulate gifts early, to try to be done with shopping by Thanksgiving so that I am not dealing with the rush and hustle bustle, to spend the first week of December decorating the house for Christmas and preparing to have our family here for Christmas dinner or even a few days visit. Though the shopping part is done, the decorating this year is something I’m not looking forward to doing, it will just be us. I’m sure that at least some of my vast Santa collection will come out, we will go get a small tree and decorate it. It will be sad enough to be alone, but worse if we don’t at least try.

This month has been difficult in other aspects. We lost a young member of our family, a young Mom, not to COVID, but a heartbreaking loss, especially for her husband, child, parents, siblings and their families. Another family member is quite ill, again not COVID, but struggling to survive and heal. A friend has had a recurrent illness and is facing a third tough round of treatment. The news of these losses and illnesses of those dear to me have wrecked havoc with my emotions. I blog as a release, but have had to turn to some journaling as some of my thoughts and feelings I just can’t share out to the world.

Every day that it isn’t raining, we don our walking shoes and head out for an hour or so. There are many places to walk, some paved and more traffic than we prefer, the walk in the National Forest around the pond and it’s various trails, and my favorite is to go a couple thousand feet higher elevation to the Mountain Lake Conservancy property and walk one of several trails there, usually meeting only one or two people on the entire walk. We take our masks on these walks and wear them when there are other people around and we can’t distance ourselves 10 or 12 feet away.

This little herd of 6 deer seem to know that near the house is a safe place to be during hunting season, they are seen many times a day somewhere around the house, grazing on grass that is turning brown from the colder weather.

We have had to remove all permission to hunt on our property except for immediate family due to some problems, not serious in nature, but troubling. It is difficult to try to maintain good neighborly relationships, especially since we didn’t grow up here and though my grandfather was born and raised just a few miles from our property and I was born here, we are outsiders.

As a blogger, I like to know that I am being read and perhaps enjoyed. At the bottom of the post there are buttons to share, like, and space to comment. I would love your feedback there. My presence on Facebook has mostly been to share my blog and I may take another social media break so it won’t be posted there. Until next time, stay safe.