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On Making and Doing and Being

Liesl Made : Morning in the Garden

If you’ve been around my blog for a while (I’m talking years), you know that I was pretty immersed in sewing for a while. Like most things, it’s hard to see the scope of the picture when you are in it. It’s only been in retrospect that I’ve realized just how much I sewed in the past: scanning through gigs upon gigs of folders of photos of things I made, seeing towering stacks of handmades, hearing people remind me what I stitched for them and how much they still love it.

My energy shifted back in 2011 or so. It was a mix of many things, like learning to knit, a budding passion for gardening. But mostly, it was moving house. Around then, I commandeered a small room in our basement and turned it into what I dubbed “mon petit atelier.” When I think about this predicament, the song Little Room by The White Stripes pops in my head. While I’m grateful to have a space devoted to sewing (and somewhere I can sneak away to and create), I’m just not inspired in that room. The main creative leech is the artificial lighting. There is something about fluorescent lights that makes my stomach turn.

But even if I wanted to sew, I’ve been such a do-er lately that I’m not saving energy to make. (I’ve even been a bit slack on knitting.) Some people have expressed concern that I’m running myself ragged. Keeping busy and active is my go-to way to deal with stress. I have a hard time sitting down for too long. But from this moment on, I’m vowing to take it a little easier. Still keep busy but no longer to the point of hurting myself.

But most importantly I fear I’m forgetting how to be, forgetting the importance of just being. Now, the more I do, the less I make and be, the more left brained I become, which, ironically, just makes me unhappy in the long run. I’m constantly seeking that merga, the middle ground, where I am sated spiritually, emotionally and physically. I need tasks that make my heart swell (or even ache) as well as ones that offer methodical behavior as well as ones that make my muscles sore. I am sorry that my blog is so devoid of its roots: making (à la sewing, knitting.) The reason I haven’t been posting too much is to avoid boring you all with too much talk about gardening (and chickens) but its the closest thing I have right now to finding balance within myself.

Do you want to hear more about how the garden is growing and other things on the farm here? Or should I just wait until I have decent crafty things to share? Also, do you have any tips on how you balance these three things–making, doing and being?

3 Questions : Julie

3 Questions is an interview-style series featuring some of my favorite bloggers. Every week, I ask one inspirational person 3 completely random questions and ask them to share three photos that represent Who they are, What they do or make and Where they feel the happiest.

 Liesl Made : 3 Questions : Julie

This week, I have the privilege of throwing three random questions at the lovely Julie of Knitted Bliss. I first found her through Ravelry or some other knitting source. Her collection of patterns is impressive (I’ve tried one already and can’t wait to try more.) But I enjoy her blog for more than just her patterns. Her own knitting projects are impressive and inspiring. Plus, every week, she shines a spotlight on a fellow knitter who did a clever or beautiful modification to an existing pattern. As well as shares some of her favorite things from around the web (I’ve found a lot of great things through those posts.) And, like all my favorite bloggers, she shares a bit of her life as well, all the little things that fill her days and bring a bit of joy.

Did your mother or grandmother make a specific food you loved? My grandmother used to make these amazing coconut squares with pink icing, which are sometimes called Pink Lady Squares, or Pink Party Squares, or even Pink Angels. They have a graham cracker base, a condensed milk and coconut middle, and a pink icing top- they are insanely sweet and indulgent, but my grandmother used to make them all the time when I was a kid. Even though she passed away about 5 years ago, and in the years prior to that her Alzheimer’s was too severe for her to bake anything anymore; my mom or my aunt will still make these squares around christmastime, and having them there on the holiday dessert tray is a bit like having my grandmother’s spirit in the room.

What is the story behind one of your scars? I have a scar on my shoulder from last summer, when I had a lump removed. The very phrase ‘lump removed’ makes people panicky and immediately think of cancer, but it was benign- it’s called a lipoma, which is basically just fatty tissue. When I was pregnant with my daughter, it grew rapidly (no doubt my body was in the mode of growing everything!) until it was the size of a mouse, which is not something you really want to have to live with if you don’t have to. The funny part is that while Canada has amazing healthcare, since the lump wasn’t actually affecting my health, it was deemed a cosmetic issue and I was referred to a plastic surgeon. I had never been in a plastic surgeon’s office before, and I had to have three appointments- the consultation, the surgery, and the follow up to remove the stitches. Being in a plastic surgery environment is stepping into a completely different world- everyone who worked there was tall and lean, had lashes the length of butterfly wings (due to a product that they sold there), and looked incredibly good- nurses in their 50s looked maybe only a few years older than myself. Everything was white, there were chandeliers in every room, except the surgery- that room had an entire wall of cabinets that held nothing but breast implants, which you could just make out from the frosted glass of the cabinets. It was such a surreal experience, to be having a cosmetic surgery, even though it wasn’t cosmetic in the conventional sense, and surrounded by people for whom this was a very normal sort of environment.

What is your favorite movie line? I’m not sure I could pin down a favourite movie, but one I enjoy watching again and again is Midnight in Paris. Partly because I’m love with the jazz age, partly because a lot of my favorite writers are represented in the film, and partly because of this scene that I find endlessly hilarious- Gil, the main character, has found a rip in the fabric of time and can visit Paris in the 1920′s anytime after midnight. While on one of his visits to this time, he is sitting with several great thinkers and artists of the time, confessing that he has fallen for a girl from this era. Their responses are priceless, and show there are a lot if different ways to look at the same thing:
Man Ray: A man in love with a woman from a different era. I see a photograph!
Luis Buñuel: I see a film!
Gil: I see an insurmountable problem!
Salvador Dalí: I see rhinoceros!

Be sure to check out Julie’s blog, Ravelry, Pinterest and Twitter.

Click here to see all 3 Questions interviews.

Lately (in Instagrams)

Liesl Made : Instagram Mosaic

A Mid-June Day at Buckaloo View

This past weekend marked the first official day of Summer. Ideally, I had hoped to share the Spring (and final) installment of my seasonal video series but for some reason, a collection of clips taken over the course of just one beautiful and full day seemed more apt. This video shows the growings and goings-ons around Buckaloo View a little over a week ago. A lot has changed (ripe mulberries!) but somethings are still the same, progressing slowly waiting for their moment to shine (I’m looking at you peaches!) The video is choppy and scattered and bitter and sweet and peaceful and hopeful–just like things feel around here.

(As with most of my videos, I recommend you click-through and watch it in HD. As much as I like Vimeo, I can justify a paid subscription now which means I can’t embed HD.)

3 Questions : Alicia

3 Questions is an interview-style series featuring some of my favorite bloggers. Every week, I ask one inspirational person 3 completely random questions and ask them to share three photos that represent Who they are, What they do or make and Where they feel the happiest.

 Liesl Made : 3 Questions : Alicia

This day got away from me. It was the longest day of the year and was so full of sunshine and midsummer beauty. But I’m not here now to talk about me and my day. No, I’m here to talk about Alicia, a beautiful nomad with a deep heart. It’s always so impressive and inspiring to find an artist who, well, does what an artist really does—translates emotion and experience into a piece of art. Her travels and experiences have inspired the jewelry she makes. When you blend that with her organic design approach, cultural and personal influences, artisanal techniques, her pieces have an impressive journey all their own.

If you could bring one thing from the 50s to the present day, what would it be and why? I would bring aprons back into the kitchen! I have a collection of aprons from the 50s and 60s that I have found at many-a thrift stores. I love to wear them for cooking or with a dress to add more color. They are practical for messy cooks, like myself and they also offer some fashion for meal time.

Is it easier to win or lose with grace? I view losing and winning as the same journey. Both pathways are challenging to do with grace as the ego is connected to both reactions. Winning you can feel the power of being greater than while losing is just the reaction of feeling powerless or less than something else. The journey is to detach ourselves from the “win” or the “lose” and see the connection.

What is the prettiest place you have been? I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to travel to so many amazingly beautiful places. Each place unique in it’s own way. For this question I will narrow it down to three places that really made me feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of their beauty.
1. North Cascades Mountain Pass – Washington State
2. Zomba Plateau – Zomba, Malawi, Africa
3. Arches National Park – Moab, Utah

Be sure to check out Alicia’s blog, site/shop and instagram.

Click here to see all 3 Questions interviews.

First Day Outside

The chicks are a little over a month old and just met the great outdoors. It took some coaxing to get them to go out and, after an hour pecking and exploring, even more coaxing to get them to go back in. The run needed some tweaks so I wasn’t comfortable leaving them out there all day or unsupervised. Luckily the next day, good people came over and secured up the problem areas and now they can go out when they wish. (I recommend clicking through to watch in HD. The song is “Intermission” by Cœur de Pirate. Want more chicken cuteness? Here is another quick video.)

Have a great weekend.

Second Roll

Liesl Made : Canon AE-1 Film
Liesl Made : Canon AE-1 Film
Liesl Made : Canon AE-1 Film
Liesl Made : Canon AE-1 Film
Liesl Made : Canon AE-1 Film
Liesl Made : Canon AE-1 Film
Liesl Made : Canon AE-1 Film

Here is the second roll I mentioned in this post. These were shot with a Canon AE-1 and 50mm lens with expired 400 ISO Kodak film and are unedited. This particular roll expired back in 2002 and it shows by the quality and some interesting coloring and leaks. (Which is part of the fun of film photography.)

Return to Film

Liesl Made : Canon AE-1 Film
Liesl Made : Canon AE-1 Film
Liesl Made : Canon AE-1 Film
Liesl Made : Canon AE-1 Film
Liesl Made : Canon AE-1 Film
Liesl Made : Canon AE-1 Film
Liesl Made : Canon AE-1 Film
Liesl Made : Canon AE-1 Film
Liesl Made : Canon AE-1 Film
Liesl Made : Canon AE-1 Film

Back in March, a friend gave me a secondhand iPhone5 to use around the house with our wi-fi. So far our family hasn’t jumped on the smartphone train. Some of us wanted to, other’s didn’t, but in the end, money has been the final say in why we haven’t upgraded. I’ve personally wanted one for a while, simply because I figured: 1.) it’d be convenient to have a small camera to carry around 2.) it’d be fun to join instagram and 3.) it’d be useful to check emails quickly without having to always be in front of the computer. The last couple months I’ve developed a love/hate relationship, which I expected. Nothing annoys me more than seeing someone in a group of friends staring at their phone. I’m trying hard to never become that person. But, also as I expected, it has been nice to have a pocket sized camera, share and keep up with friends on instagram and have my laptop tucked away for days.

However, I realized, I do still prefer my DSLR, in all its bulky inconvenience. I often find myself taking photos with that and using Dropbox to upload them to my phone to share on Instagram and the like. The unnatural quickness and immediate gratification of a smartphone camera (and even of a digital SLR) has encouraged me to go back to film a bit more lately. So I dug out my Grandfather’s AE-1 and finished a roll I started last summer (seen in this post. I’ll be back with a second batch from the next roll, which I shot up over the last couple weeks.) These were shot with a Canon AE-1 and 50mm lens with expired 400 ISO no-name-brand film and are unedited.

3 Questions : Gretchen

3 Questions is an interview-style series featuring some of my favorite bloggers. Every week, I ask one inspirational person 3 completely random questions and ask them to share three photos that represent Who they are, What they do or make and Where they feel the happiest.

 Liesl Made : 3 Questions : Gretchen

I had seen Gretchen’s blog (with its clever title) often when I participated in Ginny’s weekly Yarn Along. And I had seen Nerdy Gerdy designs on Ravelry (had a few patterns in my queue to knit someday, especially the Clarity Cardigan) but I never put the two together. When she reached out to me to say Hi and I actually took the time to peruse her blog, it was one of those moments where I thought, why wasn’t I following this blog sooner? Gretchen blogs about her life on a Minnesota farm complete with a handful of kids and critters, living that modern farm wife dream of building a family home around food, faith, homeschooling, growing, crafting and more. Her honesty, humor and grace and her celebration of the everyday are what keep me coming back.

What is your favorite meal of the day?
I’d have to say the evening meal. My husband often serves breakfast to the kids while I sleep in to 7:30 or so, since I’m often up at night. Lunch is the crazy time of day as everyone’s schedules collide from the farm to the schoolroom and we all attempt to sit down together, and someone is always in a rush to get somewhere. The evening is just a sacred time where we talk about our day, and things we have read. The meal is often full of the day’s work. I wouldn’t exactly call it peaceful, but it’s more intentional, and full of good conversation.

Why were you given your name?
My mom just liked the sound of it. My sister and I both have German names, even though we’re Irish-Norwegian Americans. My name means “precious pearl” which my mom really liked, and talked about that meaning often. During hard times my mom would tell me about how pearls always start out as a grain of sand that is aggravated and distressed over a period of time inside of a clam. This whole process brings about a beauty that simply cannot be made any other way.

What culture fascinates you the most?
Well, it’s becomes apparent pretty quickly from my blog that my family has a strong Norwegian influence, but outside of that, it would be the Japanese culture. My mom was actually born and raised in Japan from American parents living there. My brother and I would always try to study the language to figure out what our aunts and uncles were talking about near Christmas time when Japanese felt like a “code language” of the adults.
From a crafting perspective, I love Japanese fabrics, and stitch patterns, and fashion. I love the food and the art, and the attention to detail in even the small things–maybe most especially in the small things. I feel like the Japanese culture really strives for creating beauty in the everyday, and that is something that inspires me.

Be sure to check out Gretchen’s blog and knitting patterns.

Click here to see all 3 Questions interviews.

3 Questions : McKenzie

3 Questions is an interview-style series featuring some of my favorite bloggers. Every week, I ask one inspirational person 3 completely random questions and ask them to share three photos that represent Who they are, What they do or make and Where they feel the happiest.

 Liesl Made : 3 Questions : McKenzie

Lives and paths change, sometimes slowly, sometimes rapidly. We as people change and grow. If you’re a blogger, this can mean your subject, voice and tone can all change, or rather, I should say, it can evolve. I started out as a blog heavy with sewing content but nowadays I focus more on what is growing in the garden and what I’ve made with a stretch of yarn and two needles. I’m sure I’ve lost a lot of readers due to this but I’m simply in a different place in my life and won’t force myself to sew to try to keep up or build readership. Anyway, when I found McKenzie, she was a farmer in Maryland. It was smitten at first sight. I guess because she was much more than just a farmer, she was a photographer, spinner, artist, gardener with a wild and wise soul. Her life has changed a bit since then and has moved from a rural setting to an urban one and instead of watching over a flock of fiber animals, she spends her days with children and is much more reliant on imagery rather words to speak for her. But her spirit still shines through in this amazing imagery and readers like me have stuck around because of this. The way she captures the world around her through a lens and the stories and emotions she presents through art have always been such an inspiration and motivation to me. It’s really an honor and joy to be able to watch someone grow in this way.

What in your life have you left up to chance?
This is a tricky question. Day by day, I feel like I’ve always made an effort to go with the flow and let life take me where it wants to go. But looking back on the past, I see that so much of what I’ve done has been consciously decided upon. Chance and choice are just different sides of the same card. When I graduated high school, I’d gotten into four good universities. (I was all set to become an “eco friendly interior designer”- now I can’t imagine myself doing that!) For a few reasons I ended up going to community college, but decided to drop out after the first semester. Within a few months I decided I’d rather be a farmer, so I did that. I found two adoptable alpacas on Craigslist, then a silly little lamb. That year, my then partner and I moved to a one room log cabin on an alpaca farm. Then we moved to a larger rented farm and were given more sheep. (The first five were sort of chance, but letting them breed and ending up with over a dozen sheep was choice.) Most recently I left the farm and an extremely unhealthy, abusive relationship. It felt so out of my hands at the time. It felt like chance. I certainly hadn’t expected it or wanted that part of my life to come to a close, but now I look back and see that my heart knew what was coming almost the whole time. I chose to leave, because it was the healthiest path for my heart. Now I live in the city and nanny and make art and have a tiny urban garden and a very loving partner and pinch myself daily. I love my life and my heart has never been happier.
If you had an extra hour every day, what would you do with it?
If I wasn’t ready for bed, I would draw. Or maybe take a walk in the woods. Or maybe write a blog post for once instead of just posting pictures? Or respond to the comments I so dearly love to read? Or play kalimba? Or snuggle my cat… or or or…
Have you ever had an out of body experience?
When I was younger I had several experiences induced by responsible and guided use of certain, um, plant medicines… (Ones that aren’t particularly smiled upon by authority figures.) I consider those experiences incredibly instrumental in helping me find my drawing hand. I’ve always drawn. My mom was always illustrating something, and I’d try to copy her as a kid. During my teen years I started drawing again after a long break, but there was a lack of confidence and a hollowness to it. During and after certain experiences, I found an enormous drive and motivation to illustrate. Those experiences helped me make the most important realization though, which is that the ability to draw and creative subject matter and stories I want to tell are in me, always have been, and will only cease to exist if I let them. I draw every day now and it’s the best thing in my life.

Be sure to check out McKenzie’s blog, site and Etsy shop.

Click here to see all 3 Questions interviews.