My Blog


"Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue.  Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them.  And the point is, to live everything.  Live the questions now.  Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer."  - Rainer Maria Rilke


Another snowy morning and it was a challenge to get out of bed, especially with Henry cozied up at my feet.

Last week we had another successful gathering, devoted to making journals and accordion books. Sandy arrived at noon with a big pot of Mulligatawny Soup that was so so good. Thank-you Sandy! Such a thoughtful and generous gesture. I made a big batch on Saturday that received unusually high praises from Ollie. Perfect meal for this weather with a side salad and bread.

                                   Sandy’s Soup Recipe

                                  Sandy’s Soup Recipe

Sandy worked on an accordion book and journal for her husband, who’s 60th birthday is approaching soon. We had lots of papers spread out all over the kitchen table. Susie and I were both making accordion books for our daughters, and Shelagh worked on making a new journal. I’m looking forward to everyone coming back tomorrow and hopefully we can finish our projects, and get our new journals bound. The binding we have used in the past is the Coptic Binding. It not only looks nice, but it allows the book to open up and lay flat. The link I provided has wonderful step-by-step instructions and photos.

I finished the accordion book for our daughter, Anna, in the backseat of Ollie’s car, on the way to the airport Saturday afternoon. She was about to take off on the first leg of her trip for Palau. I had already finished the front and back cover with my note, but I still needed to glue in some photos. That project, right up to the end, before saying our good-byes, steadied my anxiously suppressed emotions, but as we helped Anna out of the car with her oversized yellow duffle and big dive bag, the time had come for the reality of letting go. This is where our books and journals and drawings and words can offer such comfort. They allow us to let go and hold on at the same time. Pieces of memory. My accordion books are an authentic statement of my love, a gift from my heart. One of my favorite quotes from the book Modoc, by Ralph Helfer is, “Distance does not separate, only the heart.” 

Please let me know if you’d like to come early again tomorrow to work on your books! I will be here from noon on.

We were talking about letters and I know some of you were interested in the custom stamps I have ordered from Zazzle. You can take any photo or drawing and have it made into a stamp. I just ordered some with a painting of a cow i had done years back. It is such fun to embellish your envelopes with art. And don’t forget about the stationary company, Felix Doolittle. Read about Felix Fu founder of this exquisite stationary company. His studio, as well as a separate retail store called "The Paper Mouse”, is located in West Newton, MA. I spoke with someone from the studio this morning, inquiring if we might schedule a visit and tour of the studio. We can watch the weather and discuss some dates.

one of the many Felix Fu watercolors

one of the many Felix Fu watercolors

Kim showed us, and generously gave each of us, a card from the Olivetti Pattern Series of Notecards and Envelopes. This elegant set features four distinct patterns made on the beloved Olivetti Lettera 32 typewriter. "Cormac McCarthy used an Olivetti Lettera 32 to write nearly all of his fiction, screenplays, and correspondence, totaling by his estimate more than 5 million words. The Letter 32 that he purchased in 1963 was auctioned by Christies on 12/04/09 to an unidentified American collector for $254,500, more than 10 times its high estimate of $20,000. McCarthy paid $20 for a replacement typewriter of the same model, but in newer condition.” 

Kim also brought back a drawing pencil, sitting below in my basket of ribbons, inscribed with the Picasso quote, “Rien n'est plus difficile u’un trait”.

                         "NOTHING IS MORE DIFFICULT THAN A LINE"

                         "NOTHING IS MORE DIFFICULT THAN A LINE"


                             There will be no journal gathering on Tuesday, February 21st. 

In 10 days I am flying out to Whitefish, Montana for a Haven Retreat Writing Workshop with Laura Munson. One of the other 10 participants is a woman named Margi Hoffman, who has started the Murmuration Community. I’m really looking forward to meeting her, and hearing more about what she does. Check out her website. It is very inspiring. She believes that "in order to truly change our world we need to collectively learn to tap into the divine wisdom within ourselves, and use that knowledge as a guide to create a balanced self, balanced community and, ultimately, a balanced world. Previously a political campaign director, lobbyist and policy advisor to two Oregon governors, Margi has helped individuals and a wide variety of health and environmental organizations plan and implement their goals.”  Murmuration is offering a workshop, coming up on April 21-23 in Utah. Read more about it here. "Shadowboxing: Exploring Our Shadow to Embrace the Other”. Maybe some of us should go? Her most recent journal entry is titled “We are the Ripple Effect.”

Murmuration refers to the phenomenon that results when hundreds, sometimes thousands, of starlings fly in swooping, intricately coordinated patterns through the sky. They have a remarkable ability to maintain cohesion as a group in highly uncertain environments and with limited, noisy information. Starlings pay attention to a fixed number of their neighbors in the flock, regardless of flock density - seven to be exact. When uncertainty in sensing is present, interacting with six or seven neighbors optimizes the balance between group cohesiveness and individual effort. In following the role of seven, the birds are part of a dynamic system in which the parts combine to make a whole with emergent properties, and a murmuration results. Starlings are essentially an invasive species in this country. They were famously introduced to North America at New York City’s Central Park in the 1890s by Shakespeare enthusiasts who wanted all the bird species ever mentioned by Shakespeare to inhabit this continent. 200 million of these birds now inhabit North America. They are not welcomed by everyone and resented for their abundance and aggressiveness, and even called a menace. This murmuration video  by world life photographer Dylan Winter gives me chills, and invites us to view the starlings with fresh eyes. 

In Margi Hoffman's words, which are especially poignant during these uncertain times, and as the starlings do so well, “Let us go forth. Together.”

Keep writing and drawing in your journals

xo Barb