Friday, January 28, 2011


I've spent the last couple of days nestled into the corner of a couch with a cup of coffee, three colors of wool, wooden needles and a hat pattern. Big flakes float past the window as I work, collecting on the frozen lake outside.  During a break to stretch or eat or chat with my husband, I've spotted an occasional trio of deer or a cross country skier moving across the ice. They are stick figures silhouetted in reflected light. Morning and evening fog slips in and out and I'm content to sit and knit. A couple days working yarn in winter weather making something I hope will be beautiful.....connecting me with others who practice this ancient art.

I have to admit to being a yarn junkie with probably much too much of it at home hanging out in baskets and drawers and bags. There is something irresistible about walking into a yarn store and being surrounded floor to ceiling by walls and bins of color and texture and weight. Natural fibers are a weakness......especially when I come across those that have been produced in small batches. They are the ones with a story to tell about where and how and why someone chose to spin their wool or cotton or anything else into strands. My fingers get lost in the feel. My imagination in endless possibilities. I savor the thought of taking time.....of focusing attention on making a single item. 

A few years ago I ran into someone I went to college with at a pumpkin patch close to home. We were each with our little ones and introduced them to one another. She was holding a baby who wore the most beautiful red and green fuzzy-ish sweater. When I commented on it she mentioned that the wool was from goats that she and her husband kept. The sweater was from start to finish sheared, spun, dyed, designed and knit up by her. I haven't seen this woman since, but have often thought about that sweater. I love that the single connection I still have with her is a memory of something she spent time making. 

Happy Friday......I'm heading to the yarn store......


Monday, January 24, 2011

Pics from my weekend: Mother Nature Gets It.....Right?

There is a noisy river outside our hotel room rushing full and fast past snowy banks. A thick wall of gray-white has settled in low and so dense that it prevents me from seeing the other side. The hazy rays of a few street lamps have managed to sneak through and create a sense of foggy mystery. My view is obstructed and nature's sense of humor has not escaped my notice. I get it. I'm acutely aware of the symbolism she has in mind.

Just beyond the fog and the river is the university campus where we moved our youngest back into his dorm about twleve hours ago. Winter break is there he is......separated from us by forces of nature. Maneuvering on his own. Doing what a college-aged kid needs to do to become an adult.

I think I remember what that was like: Trying on near-total independence to see how it fit. Excited to be back among campus friends after a few weeks wrapped in the safety of home and family. Anticipation of yet unknown experiences. Loving my parents but feeling no doubt that I was in the right place away from them. What I didn't know at the time was how they must have felt.

I have one son who for the time being lives across that river. One who lives with his dog on the other side of campus. And another living in a university town about five hours away. All is well. Before we moved him in, we had a couple days with our youngest and his friends in snowy Montana. They skied and snowboarded. We fed them and relaxed and enjoyed the opportunity. Thanks for the winter weather Mom Nature. We're all doing more or less what we should be. The nest is empty least until next break.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Act On It........

A Singer/Songwriter and an Embroidery Artist

When I was fresh out of college I had what I thought was a great idea for a restaurant. It would be a lunch place I'm not going to tell you just in case I ever get to act on it. Then when I knew I wanted to quit my job and stay home to raise our three young sons, I was pretty sure I'd spend some of that time writing children's stories. Somehow with both the fun and work of Momhood, that didn't happen either. I don't regret not pursuing those things. That's not the point because I'm proud of, and happy with, what I did spend time doing. However there was still a creative itch bugging me, so a couple years ago I signed up for a photography workshop in a small Montana town I'd never been to before.  After entering my info into the computer and clicking 'submit', I felt like I'd just done something ridiculously impulsive. It took a few minutes of doubting to remember that I've carried a camera around most of my adult life. In fact it was the first purchase I made right out of college. That, coupled with the fact that someone, well meaning I'm sure, wondered out loud to me what I would ever do when my kids were grown up and out of the if there might not be much.......encouraged me to take a chance. I know there are plenty of options and plan to spend some time exploring. So let me just say: I've always had kind of a soft spot for those who act on dreams at any age. A soft spot for those who know when whatever it is that makes them want to get out of bed in the morning feels right to pursue. For those who know when it's time. Those who take advantage of it.
That's how I felt when I met Darah Fogarty, a friend of my son Peter. I was in Missoula last October and saw her perform twice in the same week. The first was 'open mike' night at a local winery and I was impressed. She played acoustic guitar and sang mostly original songs. Her music and lyrics were soulful and authentic. Her voice earthy, sweet and a bit haunting all at once. When she performed, I knew I was listening to a piece that belonged to her. She did a couple cover tunes as well. I'm just going to go ahead and say it. When she sang Bob Dylan's Make You Feel My Love, I spent a couple minutes trying to hide tears that kept forming.

Although I enjoyed her show at the winery, a couple nights later when she opened for David Boone I was in awe. I made the switch from rooting for someone brave enough to put herself and a dream out there, to fan. I think she sang five songs.  I'm not a music critic but I know what I like, what feels real and what moves me. And I like her even more because of how dedicated I hear she is. Getting exposure. Working hard. If you want to listen to some of Darah's music and read more about her go to of luck, Darah.


Hey....... if you have a little time and you're around the Greenwood area of Seattle, in the next week or so, stop in at Assemble gallery and take a look at their fiber art show. The theme of the group show is "This Will Be Our Year." My sister Michele, accomplished embroidery artist extraordinaire, has two pieces showing. This is what she says about them:
“ My thought was, this is our year--our time--and, good or bad, it is built on what has come before us. So, my pieces are new stitching over old, anonymous work. The first one is over a stamped pattern of Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep prayer, and it's called Text Message. It's hard to see, but the colored lines between the letters are SOS dots and dashes. The second is new stitching over crewel work lions, and it is called Lions and Lines.”
And here she is with her lovely pieces. Awesome! Don't you just love them?!  (Photos for this post were generously offered for my use by someone else....thank you!....not taken by me.)

Happy Friday all!

PS....Comments: Feel free to comment by clicking on 'comment' below. Would love to hear what you're thinking about these artists, the posts.....anything else that comes to mind!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Pics from my weekend....Chelan Winterfest

Our friends invited us to spend time with them in Chelan for Winterfest. What a great reason to spend a couple of days there. It's fun, quaint, colorful, charming and old fashioned. On a walk around town we saw hot dog vendors, ice sculptures and fires in fire bowls. There was music, an ice bar, a skating rink and a torchlight parade. It reminded me a little bit......and in a a very good way because it's one of my favorite movies......of some of the wintry town scenes from the movie Groundhog Day. 

What truly made the weekend, however, was the group of people I was with. The kind I know I both can and should be nothing but myself around. No rigid schedules. It was OK to get up 'whenever', stay in pj's as long as possible or make yourself at home in the kitchen. Play a game, stay up late, go here or there.......or not. We could gush with pride about our own kids, but just as easily about each others. Everyone participated with meals, clean up and helping each other out. I've got to hand it to our hosts. They had twelve people in their home of all different ages and stages and everything went smoothly. I know there was a lot of planning and work ahead of time for them, and what a gift to us all that they made it seem so easy and effortless. But most of all....those people can make me laugh until I cry.

So besides spending the weekend with a group of wonderful friends and family (...and thankfully those who don't mind that I carry a camera wherever I go) are some of the things that I liked best about the past couple of days:

 There was snow on the ground in Chelan. Pretty to look at. Enough on the back porch to keep beer cold.

Sharing morning coffee with my friends Amy and Mary who are simply beautiful, inside and out. And yes...we did get matching jammies! 

Lots of down time for watching football...or doing...whatever

Love this town. The main street was closed to cars for the weekend so people could wander and look at ice sculptures....

 And watch the artists carving...

.....or toss a keg. 

Seriously the best hot dog I've ever eaten. Cooked on a street corner by Sam and topped with cabbage-apple sauerkraut and mustard.'s rare that I indulge in one but this was great!

Couldn't pass up checking out the snowmobile races. Then at the end of the day we stopped in at our friends favorite winery.

I couldn't resist the endless rows of red-brown grapevines in the vineyards. They were so stark against the snow and sort of hypnotizing as they rolled along with the hills. I know they are beautiful green in the summer and heavy with fruit later on, but during the winter against the backdrop of the glass lake....I'm pretty sure that's when they are the most impressive.

After a dinner of seriously awesome Cincinnati chili, we went back to town to watch brave souls hit the water for a polar bear swim and then go stand by an enormous bonfire on the beach. It was raining pretty hard so I wasn't taking any pics. The fireworks show was spectacular. Several times we started clapping after assuming that long bursts of noise and color were the 'grand finale'.....only to have the show continue for many more minutes. I had a coat with a hood on, but rain managed to run down my neck and back and somehow up my sleeves. It was beautiful, colorful, and noisy. The crowd was thinner than last year due to the rain, but happy. It almost felt like we were treated to a private showing.

Morning light
on the hills. Thanks Clark and Mary!

Have a great week all!

Warmly, Margaret

Friday, January 14, 2011

Thank God it's....

Time for a day to wind down. This morning after a mug of coffee and watching January drizzle for the third consecutive day......

Inspiration in the form 0f apricots, chocolate, sour cream and butter found me.

 My favorite coffee cake with struesel topping. Two boys, however, are managing to sleep through the smell of it baking....

Pretty sure I'll stay in these as much as possible today....
Happy Friday!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


What will I do for the rest of my life? With three kids off to college, I'm at a crossroad. I'm not quite sure what will be next for me and pursuing the answer is a bit harder than I anticipated. The problem is....I've adored the job I've had up 'till now. Harried and too busy and a little crazy though it may have been, I wouldn't have changed a thing. I simply need to be realistic in admitting to myself that now, for a large portion of the year, demands on my time will be different. I want to continue to spend it in meaningful ways. I want my choices to be to be purposeful and intentional.

After ten years working in my chosen field, and after bouncing-boy number three came into our world...... and after my beloved finished up many, many years of grad school, I changed jobs and began a career of full-time motherhood. That in and of itself is a long story, much of which I'm sure I'll cover at some point. But for now....the years have flown by way too quickly and without my permission, and the full-time aspect of something I loved is coming to an end. It's time to readjust. To figure out what matters. I know that sounds dramatic. The ultimate goal of every parent is that their children grow up strong and healthy and confident and educated. And mine did, so I feel grateful and happy and fortunate. Truly and thoroughly.'s all a bit jolting. I know that what's opening up before me is amazing. I have more hours and less chaos. More control and more choices..... and yet I find that frightening. I'm feeling the same way I feel when on a car trip we discover a really cool small town. We drive down an amazing main street with wide sidewalks and actual available parking spaces. On either side are local shops and bakeries with enticing smells wafting out the door. There may be a coffee shop with wooden chairs and tables, a few restaurants, a couple of art galleries, a fly-fishing shop. At one end I see beautiful mountain peaks, at the other a park that holds the Saturday Farmer's Market. It's all much-too-much! I can't decide whether to shop or hike or eat. Or wander the galleries. Or try my hand at fly-fishing. Or sit in the park and listen to live music. Or get out my camera and go take pictures of it all. Or stop for a cup of coffee to make an organized list of what to do for the next few days. Or just be carefree and play it by ear.

 At this point I'm feeling that if I make a choice and settle on, for example, the bakery, once I get inside I'll just stand there staring at the rich offerings on the shelves behind glass  for awhile. Breathing in the sweet cinnamon smells. Unable to choose between the frosted one with raisins or the apple filled one with maple glaze. And maybe that's what I need to do for a few minutes......or quite a bit longer. Stand and stare and think...and not choose too quickly.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Name That Blog

  While mulling over the idea of starting a blog during the past few months, at some point I decided to stop mulling and start making a plan. January seemed like a month to begin and as the month rolled closer, I knew that if I could come up with a name I would most likely take the leap.  I spent sort of a ridiculous amount of time thinking…..thinking…..thinking. I jotted notes, poured over my (yes…paper) dictionary and copy of Rodale’s, The Synonym Finder. I wandered my house, yard, and kitchen for inspiration looking for a combination of words that would reproduce something even close to what I wanted this blog to be about. I thought at night when it was quiet and during busy running-around days.

  There were many possible combos. All were descriptive. None felt right. Just for fun I considered listing them here….but then decided that I really hope they come through in future posts. I’d love to say that This Friendly Village came to me like a brilliant flash…but it didn’t. I walked past one of the bookshelves in our home, spotted a book from my childhood and the words in its title hung around my brain for the next few days. It is one of the books that I learned to read with.....and in its simplicity, maybe even shaped how I think about the world. Anyway, I fully realize that you may not think it’s so brilliant, but the name says something to me.  It reflects the combination of people and experiences that make up my village. The thought that we can belong to a few different villages. How the web can connect us all.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

This Friendly Village - Some History

 When I first learned to read I practiced on a children’s reader called Friendly Village. A charming chapter book, it was handed down from oldest sibling to youngest in my family. I remember being read to and reading from this book. Its hard bound, warm brown cloth covering has a simple orange and blue title and drawing stamped into the fabric of the front. Well loved and well used, it currently holds a place on a bookshelf in my home where only the most special volumes reside. The corners of its hard cover are tattered and worn to the layered board underneath and it came to me with a few of the pages still turned down at the corners where an eager reader didn’t want to lose his or her place. Inside both front and back, it is embellished with the names and random dates and drawings of me and my sibs. Who knows what the inspiration for these embellishments were, but they are priceless in our childish hands.

 I'm not sure how this volume ended up in our family. It may have been passed on to my mom by a friend who thought her family was finished with it. The name and address of a boy unknown to me is penciled above the crayon markings of our family, along with the year 1939. The original copyright of the book is 1936 and my parents didn't get married and begin a family until the fifties. In fact, I'm not sure exactly when it became ours. The address inside is one from a state our family did not live in during the few moves we made. It may have been picked up at a library or book sale. I can only imagine how many hands it passed through during those fourteen or more years until in landed in our home. I should probably ask, but it takes my imagination any number of places to wonder.
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