Wednesday, March 29, 2017


Gommie and I spent three days tangling our hearts out!  Such a wonderful time.  Before we left for our formal Zentangle retreat at Copper Beech Institute in West Hartford, CT, we warmed up a little at home.  I taught her my Zendala tangle/string TWYST.  With some practice, she got it down.

TWYSTing with Gommie

I also flipped through Gommie's sketchbook, which had these wonderful tiles . . . . 

Which I proceeded to blantantly copy!  I don't know the names of the tangles (except Springkle, which is just an enlarged version of the one I usually do)--and I didn't even get the gist of the middle one.  But I like them and will keep practicing.

We headed to Copper Beech midday Friday.  It's the place I attended my first Zentangle class two years ago.  We had a wonderful time--delicious meals (albeit Lenten, so lots of fish, which I don't generally eat), rejuvenating yoga and meditations, a lovely walk to the snow-covered labyrinth, and, of course, the Zentangle sessions.  I especially liked the yoga and meditations, from my first gentle yoga session to the even gentler Restorative yoga session (where you support your poses with cushions and just breathe into them), followed by a lovely tea in the art gallery (with a delicious "Om" blend of cardamom, rose, etc from Culteavo.)  And of course the labyrinth!  Even partially snow-covered, I like the meditative space.  Perhaps especially snow-covered.  No owls this time, though.

There were about 26 of us in the Zentangle retreat.  For the first night, they split the beginners from the more experienced tanglers, with our experienced group doing a black-and-white project working with negative space.  I liked the results.

On Saturday, we did two more projects, both tangential to pen-and-paper tangling.  With Janet, we explored the use of polymer clay to created tangled beads, basing our designs on such tangles as Printemps and Tipple.  We made canes of our designs and Gommie had the great idea to do a class bead and to share our cane patterns around.  In the afternoon, we experienced Zenquility, or paper quilling.  We used basic flowers with coils and teardrops as the start of a Zendala or other tile.  I especially enjoyed this, seeing the possible applications in Zendalas.  Quilling is much like 3D tangling.

I really liked our session Saturday evening, which was a guided meditation with verbal cues for the tile.  The teacher described the tangles, trying not to name them (though, eventually, she did say flux and pokeleaf.)  It was very similar to something we did at the Zentangle retreat at Kripalu.  See the results in our class mosaic--similar yet so individual!  I can't wait to try this kind of meditation in one of my advanced classes.  Over the course of the weekend, we did a few breath mediations, including one called Four Corners or Box meditation--you draw a box slowly, with the verticals and horizontals representing the exhales and inhales.  We also did the Breath of Joy--three inhales and then an explosive "ha!"

Our class mosaic from the meditation

Our last session, was a very complex terrarium, using some Zentangle patterns and sophisticated Renaissance shading in browns, blacks, and whites.  The result is a Zentangle-inspired art work (ZIA). I have to admit this was not my favorite--with the use of compass and eraser, all that representation and specific orientation, the focus on product over process, and not much repetition of most of the patterns save in the base with meer, nzeppel, and tipple.  We barely finished--you can see I didn't finish the shading or even decorate the mushroom.  Still, I learned some shading suggestions, like working from darks to lights, and picking one side for lights and the other for darks (the teacher arbitrarily does darks on the left and whites on the right.)  And I loved the woodless 6B pencil we got--it's nice and dark and smudges beautifully.

Altogether, it was another wonderful weekend and I look forward to the next year's.

When we got home, Gommie and I continued to tangle, playing with some 3Zs.  I drew a continuous string on six of them and we each went to work.  Here are mine and hers in progress.  See the nice shading on mine?  Yep, 6B!

Happy tangling, Gommie!


Gommie has come and gone since my last post, in a whirlwind visit.  We had Indian and Latin fusion meals, Lenten fish dinners, and homemade chicken and dumplings, plus a delightful visit to a local tea shop.  Gommie heard Bud's piano lesson and watched Sis's horseback riding and speedskating lessons.  And we went on retreat, with lovely meals, rejuvenating yoga and meditation sessions, lots of Zentangle, and a delightful walk around a partially snow-covered labyrinth.  Whew!

Oh, and she saw Sunset Boulevard with Glenn Close and loved it.

More on the retreat later.  Trying to get resettled here.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Gommie Time

Gommie is in the northeast, train-bound to us as I type.

She arrived in NYC last night and had a great time at Sunset Boulevard, though she said the walk to the theater was very cold.  Wait til she steps out into 20F this morning!

She'll be here through Tuesday, with most of the visit comprised of a Zentangle retreat we're taking together.

So I'll update you about all of that after the fact.

Happy first weekend of spring!


My thoughts are with London and my friend Lambeth in England.  The attack yesterday must have been so frightening for those near the House of Parliament.  And devastating for those injured and the families of those killed.  We stood in that spot just 3 years ago.  We love London.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Struggle is Real

I have to go to the dentist today.

I hate the dentist.  Not just my particular, current dentist, but all dentists.  Not the people themselves, just their professions.

I know it goes way back to childhood.  I had some horrid dentist coupled with some bad genetics.  I had lots of cavities and they would fill them all at once in a tiny room with lots of adults and drills and shots.  I remember fear and pain.  And shots.

And so I'm an awful mom.  My memories of the dentist get in the way of my own kiddos.  I hate taking them.  And I've even put off appointments.  I'm passing along my phobia.  (And it's not generational--my mom loves going to the dentist.  But then she's had very few problems.)

Actually, I've been very lucky.  Cavities as a child, now some wear at the gumline that hurts.  No root canals, no crowns.  Very lucky.

I hope I'm as lucky today.

But I still hate going.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Snow Report

You probably know by now (except perhaps Lambeth, my friend in England) that we're facing a huge snow storm on Tuesday and Wednesday.  Blizzard warnings are in effect and predictions are for 12-24".  I've got enough food to eat for days, with or without power.  I'm expecting the kids won't have school on Tuesday or Wednesday.  We'll see.

Sis in her gear
In other news, on Saturday morning when we woke to 14F temperatures, Mama decided to take Sis skiing!!  Mama herself hadn't skied in 30 years; Sis had never been.  But they went to a nearby place and had a wonderful day.  Sis took beginner's lessons in the morning but, because of her speedskating ability, only spent a few minutes on the bunny slope before being moved to the green and then the blue paths!  Apparently, she's really good.  And Mama didn't break her back--and could even get up on Sunday morning.

Bud on the slopes
Which is when they went back, taking Bud with them!!  Sis skied green all day by herself, while Bud took lessons and Mama later skied with him on the smaller hills.  He had fun, too.  I think Sis and Bud even skied together.

I think there will definitely be more skiing, though not for me.  I have memories of one disastrous ski trip as a teen.  A quick morning lesson during which I could barely stand still or upright--I had no control over the skis--and yet the instructors still took me on the mountain on the lift and promptly abandoned me.  I skied down by myself, though I'm pretty sure you can't call it skiing.  I ran into a child, who wasn't hurt, and a tree, before taking off my skis and walking the rest of the way down.  It sucked.  I think I ended up walking in town the rest of the afternoon.   I don't think I'll be trying that ever again.

On the ski lift together

But I'm glad my kiddos love it.  And I'm so glad Mama had the gumption to give it a try--she loved it!  So, our plan is to go back to Vermont to ski next year and I'll sit in a nice cozy lodge by the fire and crochet, just like I like.  But I'll love watching them all ski.

And we'll all love the snow days this week.

Thursday, March 9, 2017


It's blowing like mad outside--it even knocked over our freestanding basketball hoop!  But it's sunny and warm.

Until tonight, when we might have 2-5" snow, depending on the forecast.  Which means, there could be a school delay . . . and since it was already an early dismissal, they might not have school at all.  Which is great because Mama wanted to try to take the kids skiing.

And I hear there might be a nor'easter in the pipeline for snow on Tuesday.


On Tuesday night, there was a hip-hop dance lesson at school.  Both kids went, but Bud was much more interested in it.  And he's so good!  Several people said he was a natural.  He certainly is flexible and he learns quickly!  (Though, I heard Timberlake's "Can't Fight This Feeling" too many times.)  Maybe we can get him into dance lessons this summer.


Summer.  Yep, already planning summer activities.  Sis will do a week away at computer camp and a week at speedskating camp.  Bud will do theater camp and maybe those dance lessons.  As a family, we're going to a weeklong Audubon camp in Maine.  And then we'll visit Texas for a bit in the summer, which will be great (and really hot.)


Monday, March 6, 2017

Speed Racer

I'm constantly impressed with our little speedskater!  We had such a wonderful time at her second competition and are so proud of her.

We're learning more about speedskating every week.  Though, I don't quite know the lingo, every competition meet is divided into several races, by distance and then by ability (with odd, almost inappropriate, names like "midgets" and "pee wees"--which are teenagers!)   I believe each meet has a series of 6 or 7 races in decreasing distance--the 1500, 1000, 500, 333, 111--with semi-finals for a few races and the newbies doing the 500 and 333 more than once.   Each place in each race has a set of points awarded; these are tallied at the end of the meet and one set of gold, silver, and bronze awards are given per division, by ability and gender.  No participation awards.

Sis bested her times in all of her races.  Her coach had told her to focus on her technique, not on just going fast or winning.  So she kept herself down in first position and did her crossovers.  She raced against 3 others--2 girls and a boy who raced with them but was in a different division--and was last in all but one race--she beat the boy!  But it didn't matter because she ran clean races, improving with each one.  On the second to the last race, she really pushed, wanting to beat the boy who was from her own club (it's a friendly rivalry)--you could see her hunker down and push.  She fell at the end, a terrifying moment for us, though it was clear that she wasn't hurt--she fell on her butt and slid across the finish line (her skate has to cross.)  But she was so proud of herself!  Her first fall in competition, a milestone.  And she got right back up, all smiles, and had another race later.  And when she won bronze in her division, she was so excited, so proud--more than she won an uncontested gold in the last meet (she was the only girl).  She said she'd rather have competitors.  So very proud of her.

The sushi case!  The store is the size of a Target.

Just one fake food display,
at just one of the food stalls
We had fun outside of the competition, too.  We stopped at Mitsuwa, the huge Japanese grocery store on the banks of the Hudson, looking across to Manhattan.  I could see the GWB, Grant's Tomb and Union Theological, near Columbia, and all of the skyscrapers of Midtown.  And we love the store.  Mama a lot as a child; we also went to the one in Chicago several times.  Beyond lots of imported tasty treats, there is an awesome food court.  Bud and Sis had sushi, I had katsu-don, and Sis had gyoza.  There were also a Japanese bookstore and also a knicknack store, with Pokemon, Pusheen, Totoro and other Miyazaki movies, amigurumi books, origami paper, and lots of anime things.

We also stopped by the Schuyler-Hamilton House, where Alexander Hamilton courted Eliza Schuyler in 1780.  It's a beautiful white colonial from 1760 owned by the DAR, now on a tight little run-down street.  They only do tours on Sunday from 2-4 p.m.  I was glad just to see it.  One day, we'll go back for the tour.  And all the other historical sites in the area.

There will be other chances because Sis loves speedskating.  And we do, too.