Trip to Madison Wisconsin


Lake Monona at sunset.

Last weekend I drove about 5.5 hours north to Madison Wisconsin. My daughter took a job at Epic Software last summer and I went to see her. After she got off work and rode the bus home (she has decided to live car-free for now) we walked around her neighborhood admiring the architecture and the two large lakes downtown.

We walked to a restaurant in her neighborhood for dinner and window shopped on our walk home.

Saturday we had planned to visit Taliesin, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Wisconsin home, but there were no tickets available. Just down the road from Taliesin is The House on the Rock, so we went there. It was a minimalist’s nightmare. See for yourself here: The House on the Rock . The original home, which was completed in the 60’s was cool and charming and had beautiful views onto the surrounding valley. After that, the owner just added a bunch of “eclectic” junky collections. Many of the items for display in the multiple buildings are twins to the junk I have just recently removed from our basement. It was dirty, dark and overwhelming.

After that waste of time, we had dinner and went back to her apartment, avoiding the many college-aged revelers celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. There, I worked on several sewing projects for her: hemmed her shower curtain, replaced the buttons on her wool coat and fixed a shirt that had torn at the sleeve.

Sunday, she gave me a tour of her employer’s campus. Epic Software has a large (640 acres or so) campus with dozens of themed buildings. Here the buildings were light-filled and decorated with humor and creative artwork.


This charming fellow lives in the building that houses my daughter’s office.

We made mini-Quiches for dinner and I wrapped up the sewing projects while she went to rugby practice Sunday evening. I was a delightful weekend. When I go back, I will make sure we can get the Taliesin tickets.


My daughter made this origami lotus flower for me. So cool!

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Spring Happiness


This pretty scene is right outside our kitchen door.

Spring has arrived here in Missouri and there are so many reasons to rejoice. First, due to the warmer weather, I have finally gotten out of the basement and been able to work in the yard. We have crocus blooming and the daffodils and iris shoots are up.

Mom and I are having some heated discussions about what is best for the yard. I have the minimal esthetic preference and her choices for the past 20 years have reflected what is the least work and the most frugal.  We can usually find some common ground, but there is lots of arguing before we get there. I have been bagging up leaf litter and twenty years of downed branches and am preparing to plant grass seed and some trees.

I have finally moved into a rested place, so fewer naps and sometimes I spontaneously wake a 6am, ready to start the day.

My dreams have improved too. For months it was night after night of decluttering and brown recluse spiders and cleaning human messes (hospice residual.) Recently I had a dream where a hummingbird lead me where I needed to go–a garden full of eclectic and healing plants and then a human party in the meadow.

Ready for that dream to happen in real life.

Weekend Seminar


Beautiful California Redwoods

Last weekend I attended a seminar at the beautiful 1440 Multiversity facility in California. The program was on Self and self and intended to help participants discover and incorporate their shadow self aspects.

The presenters of the seminar: Justin Hilton, Ann Randolph and Alanis Morrissette (yes, that Alanis Morrissette) were smart and wise and funny and knowledgeable about the topics presented. The exercises were powerful and effective.

In between the programs of challenging emotional work there was time for yoga and walks in the forest and a soak in the hot tub. The chef-prepared food was delicious and fresh with choices for almost any palate. I shared a hostel-style room with five other program attendees.

This seminar and restorative support were exactly what I needed at this moment. I am so glad that I took the time to go.

My People and Purpose Revisited


The world has many enduring, difficult to solve problems. Poverty, violent conflict, racism, illness. I believe climate change and destruction of the environment are “your hair is on fire” type of emergencies. The window to reverse global warming is short and closing quickly. If we don’t fix that problem, we will not have time to work on the others.

Now that I am getting rested, I have energy to devote to healing our planet. As I do, I solve the problem of finding my people. That is where they are too. I have found my people at the local Friend’s Society Meeting (Thanks, Lou!), at the Sierra Club, at my Mindful Book club, where last night we discussed ways to shrink our carbon footprint (yes, minimalism is an excellent method.)

If protecting the environment is a cause that you would like to invest your energy in as well, I have a couple of recommendations. This book: Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming by Paul Hawken and Tom Steyer.

And this organization:

We are an intelligent, creative species and I have hope that we can turn this around. Now, I am putting my feet into that hope.

Drawing Class


Two turnips and a head of garlic

I have completed the colored pencil botanical drawing class. I actually missed two of the five classes: one while babysitting my granddaughter and one due to a death in the family.

Each of these drawings took about three hours to complete. I feel like they are “okay” and that I could improve a lot if I took time to draw regularly. Which isn’t going to happen because the process isn’t fun for me. And why spend three hours of your life on a mediocre drawing, if it isn’t fun?


magnolia leaves



The crocus drawing was hampered by the fact that my $40 set of colored pencils had no purple!

I have decided to stick with the sewing, as I find it far more satisfying.


Vision Board


No secrets here.

Long have I resisted creating a vision board. I dislike visual clutter and I quickly get bored with images in my living space. But this past month, the idea of using one to promote healing has come up in several divergent places: conversation, a magazine article, a demonstration project I was walking by. Okay, okay. I get the hint.

I gathered images and words from several different publications over several weeks. I just cut out stuff that I liked, without giving too much thought to the meaning behind the images. But when I was putting the board together, I noticed some interesting things. I had cut out a couple of photos of butterflies (just because they are pretty, I thought) but they have long been a symbol of transformation. Hmmm.

In a month devoted to pink and red hearts, I cut out a page of pure white ones. Hmmm.

There is a lot of nature in those pictures, and I love being outside, but I spend a lot of time indoors. Hmmm.

I propped the thing up in the closet on top of the dresser, so it is not cluttering up my space.

Travel and Healing


I put this bad boy together while my granddaughter was at daycare.

This past week has involved a lot of travel. I went to Ohio to help take care of my granddaughter for a couple days, while her parents were busy with work commitments. What fun we had! And I assembled the dresser for her brother who is due in May. It is an IKEA product, and I have to say, they do an excellent job with the instructions.

I arrived home Thursday evening. Early Friday morning I drove up to Springfield for some routine medical appointments and to visit with friends. What is healing about all that you ask?

The conversations.

I have alluded to a generalized fatigue that was troubling me before I retired, that has improved, but persisted until now. Once I retired, it was no longer a physical problem, but years of not enough rest had contributed to the malaise I felt. Now, it was unprocessed grief. My own and decades of other people’s grief that I encountered in my hospice work.

Here is how the healing occurred: The first healing conversation occurred with my son. I was explaining to him my experience of processing these old emotions and he listened deeply and gave thoughtful feedback. There is no better medicine than being understood and loved.

On my way to Springfield, I could access the joy that has been hovering in the background for decades. I shared this with a dear friend who witnessed the glow of the emotion.

Then I had lunch with another dear friend, who has been witness to the struggles of my marriages and child rearing. We discussed the process of embracing our wounds in the pursuit of wholeness.

And then before I left town, I had appetizers with two friends that I had worked with for decades in hospice. They reminded me of the excellent care we gave for so many years, and the people who were helped, and the honor of work we shared.

On the drive back, I reflected on the strength and purpose of my life so far, the quality of the love I have been privileged to know and I kinda glowed all the way home.

I think you could have picked me up on satellite.

Whereby I Discover Craigslist: Free


Ruby Allen Carter was my grandmother.

As our home gets lighter and lighter, mom is willing to part with more stuff. Although, truth be told, the spiders had a lot to do with her being willing to let go.

As a life-long environmentalist, I really want to re-home and repurpose anything that can be used and keep it out of the landfill. The difficulty has been in finding the right person for the trash (er, treasure.) Then I discovered Craigslist: Free. I had used a website called Freecycle when I lived in Springfield with good results. What follows are some photos of some of the stuff I have gotten rid of via Craigslist: Free.


pile of wood scraps


second pile of wood scraps


a couple of 2″ x 12″ boards


pile of bricks (there were two of them this size)


2 sets of wooden shutters


stack of 30 1″ x 12″ pine boards


four wooden columns


2 copper pots


three ceramic pots


a basketball hoop


2 hollow core doors. I saved one, because I am going to make a table out of it.


Dentil molding


And this bag of colored pencils, leftover from my children’s elementary school days. I bought new, fancy ones for my drawing class.


Finding My New Posse


It is a crooked path.

Moving to a new state at the same time that I retired and took on cleaning out mom’s extra stuff has had one main downside: I left all my friends in another state and did not have the usual introduction services (family, work, school) that we use to settle in.

I have been fairly proactive to find my new peeps since getting here. But it is a weird and winding path. I signed up for community education classes, to meet folks with similar interests. I got scolded by the yoga teacher for talking before class. I signed up for a couple dating services, as years ago, I had met several excellent men that became friends instead of boyfriends through a dating site. [Hey! And bonus if the dating site leads to an actual boyfriend!]

The first couple of coffee dates were just weirdness personified. A third led to some cool conversation/walks and an invitation to Kirtan, where his band has played for years. Kirtan is not for me, it is a call and response Hindu event, where some attendees are inspired to ecstatic dance. The last time I was able to muster ecstatic dance in my body, I was about five years old. The Kirtan was held at a Yoga center, where I felt very much at home. And then on the same side of the street, next to the yoga center is an arts collective….of mostly women…who mostly do fabric arts! SCORE! And there is the poster, I saw in the window of a local shop about a Mindful Book Club. Signed up for that…

And the last time I took stuff to the food pantry, I checked out their volunteer requirements. And then I went home and spent 4 hours cleaning out the garage.

I haven’t found my posse yet…but I won’t stop searching until I do.

Winter Session Classes


This is a pose I can only aspire to.

Last fall, I took a weekly yoga class and I loved it. But it was only once a week. So I signed up for an online class that I could access daily. I loved that too. Then, I found a real life yoga studio where I can take daily classes. Currently, I do an online class and a real life class most days which is about 1.5 to 2 hours of yoga per day.

I’m taking a six session botanical colored pencil drawing class and a one session kitchen composting class, which promises that at the end of the class, I will have a working, indoors, compost bin. The compost class excites me, as my garbage has been going in the landfill since I sold my house and moved away from my compost bin and I want to turn that around.

My final class is a seminar in California (I’ll be using those free miles my brother gave me) on incorporating the shadow self into the personality. I booked an extra day at my lodgings so I can have a day-long hike in a redwood forest.

What are you all learning these days?