Inspired by Judith Snow…

Hasbury on Snow


This month’s SCDot6 post is given over to two dear friends on the occasion of the Celebration of Life for one and the incredibly poetry she inspired in the other.

There are hundreds of articles and videos and tributes written by and about Judith Snow. She was just as influential and funny and pointed and impatient and thoughtful as those pieces make her out to be.

Judith challenges us to question our assumptions about what folks can and cannot do and where they can and cannot live. She thumbed her nose at our low expectations and exhortations about safety. Yes, it took a whole team of folks — her circle of support — to get her out of that institution and into “the community”, but, ironically, Judith created community wherever she was and that institution was hardly a barrier to her — except that it was.

So, dear one, on this 6th day of June, question your assumptions. Then do it again on June 7. And again on June 8.

David Hasbury — a deep thinker in his own right — captures it so well in his grief-and-gratitude-laced poem.

We’re sad, but we celebrate.

And we keep on truckin’.



The image is a colorful, painted background with David Hasbury’s poem written on top of it.

Inspired by Judith Snow…

What more can life ask of us?
…be present in the form that carries our spirit
…follow the questions that call our name
…embody the visions that enter our mind, finding rest at home in our heart
…uncover the gifts that we carry, placing them within reach of those who need the magic they hold

Self Care Day on the 6th: July 2014

July 6

I don’t know about you, but I sometimes get so caught up in trying new stuff — spreading my wings, looking for opportunities, taking more classes, seeking bigger challenges — that I need something to snap me back to the old tried and trues that have always nurtured me. It’s like making a big ole batch of mac ‘n’ cheese after eating exciting, foreign flavors for weeks. Yes, I love pad kee mao and sweet potato enchiladas and eggplant dashi, but some days I need some supper a la Tennessee circa 1940.

I’ve shared a bunch of “try this” ideas in previous SCDOT6 posts because I like to support people in learning new ways to take care of themselves. Maybe you’ve never given yourself permission to put your own needs on the calendar, or to write off some needling goal that you don’t really want to achieve, or to change up how you do gift giving. It does my heart good when I get a comment or an email or a phone call saying, “Hey, Gina, I tried that thing and it was awesome!”

However, it occurred to me that it might be helpful to “snap y’all back” to the old tried and true ways that help you feel nurtured.

When I do some archeological digging into my own timeline certain themes make themselves very clear. I have always crafted in some form. I have always read tons of material. I have always loved music. I have always loved sitting outdoors. The content may change a bit over time, but the fundamentals are the same.

Given a day to do what I want and no pressure to perform, I’ll happily listen to music while reading or working on a craft. Ideally, I’ll be working on a craft — like a simple knitting project — that allows me to read and listen to instrumental music. Or better yet, I’ll take my craft and book outside and listen to my windchimes.

So, what nourishes you? What can you count on to refill your empty cup?

Take a little time to think back to those comforts and activities that truly restore your energy.

Hint: It may be those things you told your-child-self you could do as much as you wanted when you got to be an adult.

Bigger Hint: It may be those things you feel a little guilty doing instead of the list of “should be doings” you carry around in your head.

Got your list? No, not the “should” list… the “nourishing and restorative” list. Got that one? Good.

Now when was the last time you made an appointment with yourself to do exactly that?

Go on. You can do it.

Gee whiz! A bowl of mac ‘n’ cheese, followed by reading a book with some lovely background music sounds pretty good to me right about now.

Novel idea, no?

Self Care Day on the 6th: January 2014

Do you have things on your perpetual “nice to do” list that never actually get done? They may be phone calls you’d like to make — at some point — or craft projects you’ve been wanting to try — someday — or appointments you’ve been meaning to make — eventually — and they get moved from one list to the next without actually getting accomplished?

Well, one of my “nice to do” items has been to make a book out of some of the wads of paper that come packed around fragile things I’ve ordered from the interwebs. It’s usually wonderfully-crinkly, brown, butcher paper that’s been torn off of a roll. It begs me to make something of it rather than wadding it up further and tossing it into the recycling bin.

So, for the past year or so, I’ve been saving these sheets of paper — by either flattening them or rolling them around a paper tube — in the precontemplative hope that they would eventually get transformed.

After my previous adventures in book making, I’d convinced myself that this venture would be a Big Project. And, as with most Big Projects, it kept getting put off until I had the time/energy/space/staff to do it.

And then it occurred to me as I was flattening another six yards of brown paper last night that, hey, Gina! this is mangled wrapping paper that you get by the boxfuls and that you’ve been hoarding for a year, not precious silken threads, hand-dyed by mountain dwellers. And, oh, by the way, you’d have already turned those precious threads into a shawl.

I realized that I had a point. This book thing didn’t have to be perfect and I didn’t even have to follow some design of how books are s’posed to be made.

Folios? Pshaw! Covers? Heee! End papers? Whatever! Purpose? Shrug.

So I grabbed some paper and started folding until it was kind of the size I wanted. I kept folding until it was sort of even. Then I stapled it. Then I folded it some more so that the wonky staples were covered up. Then I stapled it again. Then I took a fork — yes! a fork! — and used it to rip the folded edges so that I could turn all of the pages.

I was pretty darned pleased with myself and passed it around the family for some atta girls and gold stars.

To a person, they said, “What’s it for?”


So I took a nearby Sharpie and did this to it:

It's for whatever it's for! Vol 1

I’ll admit that I sure was proud of myself.

Writing this on the cover didn’t stop the family asking what it was for and what the next chapter would be and what the book would be about, but it reassured me that I didn’t have to know any of that in order to love this crispy, crunchy, deckely creation. I doodled on the cover on and off all evening, and just before bed I wrote this (on the back) because I realized that I was already afraid to tarnish it with the wrong purpose.

Hey, Gina! Quick, write in it before it becomes too precious! (And you can always make another one!)

That didn’t seem to do the trick.

Seriously. I was still a little afraid to use it this morning. So, I made another one.

What better way to lower the perceived value of some precious, rarified (even if made out of stained, wadded up, torn, recycled, brown paper) object than to make it redundant?

I thought maybe you’d like to know how I made this precious thing in case you’re all about brown paper and little books and the like. So I took some pictures of my second go so that you could follow along from home.

First you’ll need some highly-technical tools and well-honed skills. You’re going to need to fold, staple, and fork deckel. You may not be familiar with the last skill because I just made it up. But, I promise, you’re great at it!

Collect your paper, your fork (yes!), and your stapler.

It’s best if the paper has been wadded up and shoved into a box and shipped across country, but sometimes you can’t be picky like that.

Paper, Stapler, Fork

Now, take a look at the paper and decide what size book you think you might want. Or just start folding it. You can fan-fold it. You can fold it long-wise and then into quarters. You can get all precise with it. You like folding thirds? Have at it. It really doesn’t matter. If you don’t like it, unfold it and try it again. The extra creases add value.

What mattered to me is that there was a fold that went all around the other folds to form a spine. So I made mine do that.

Like this:

Folded Paper

See those little uneven edges poking out the side there? Yep. They stick out the side there. And — shhhhh, don’t tell! — there’s a page inside that doesn’t even reach the edge! I know! It’s awesome!

Now, here’s where your technical stapling skills are challenged. Decide which edge you want to be your spine. Now eyeball where the folds end up and staple along one edge so that you catch them all. (If you miss, do something fancy like folding the front page back over the whole shebang and staple the edge again further in.)

If it’s kind of thick, you may have to use your fork to squish down the sharp ends on the back. You can put tape over them if you want. This tape thing is optional.

Stapling Paper

Now comes the fork deckeling. This is why it doesn’t matter how you fold the paper. You’re going to separate all of the layers using your fork. (If you want to use scissors or a screwdriver or a paper cutter or some other such tool, feel free, but you’re on your own.)

You may want to make sure all of your edges are extra creased. You can even use your fork edge to flatten them if you’d like.

Then find an opening at the edge of the paper that’s not the spine, insert a tine from your fork and use it to rip the edge letter-opener style.  There are YouTube videos demonstrating letter openers. I don’t think they show how to use a fork in this way, but they do show how to use a pen. So, you may have to use your imagination to transfer the letter-opening-with-a-pen skill to this tool and purpose.

Fork Deckeling

Depending on how you folded your paper and how thick your book is, this may take some time. It’s okay to get a snack or take a break if you need one.

You might be tempted to rip more than one  fold at a time if there are several sheets nested together. I didn’t risk attempting this advanced skill. Let me know how it goes if you get brave like that.

Don’t forget to fork deckel the top and bottom edges if you have folds there, too.

More Fork Deckeling

Eventually, you’ll rip apart all of the folds along the edges and all of your pages will be free!

Then you can go wild and decorate it with colored markers or pens or stickers or ribbons or macaroni or glitter or any or all of these items.


Or you can leave it blank and just add stuff as you’re inspired.

But be forewarned: if you wait too long, you might decide it’s too precious to use and then you’ll have to make another one.

It's for whatever it's for in two volumes

So, what’s been on your “nice to do” list for way too long? Is perfect the enemy of the good here? If so, maybe giving yourself permission to just do it in some form — not the Big Project form, but a good enough version — will get you past that precontemplation and on to having that self-satisfied feeling that we all enjoy.

Who says you need a reason to make a paper wad into a book? Who says you need a reason to try a new recipe or call up a friend or send that email?

Oh, and if that “nice to do” thing is something you’re never actually going to do, it’s really okay to stop pretending you will.

Who says you need a reason to skip it altogether?

Edna on Bravery

Beginning rows of a lace-weight cape.

Superhero capes often have humble beginnings.

It’s the wearers who give them their powers.

110,080 Tiny Stitches

Six shades of undyed lace-weight yarn knitted into a large, striped stole.Some projects are so large that it’s almost counterproductive to sum up the parts. This undyed stole is one such item.

I started this little (huge) enterprise in January knowing that it would take some fortitude to turn nearly 2000 yards of lace weight yarn into a rather large rectangle on rather tiny needles. This project required a pretty long cast on — nearly 350 stitches — but the hardest part of the whole process was coming up with more than 40 stitch markers that weren’t already committed to a WIP (yarn-speak for Work in Progress).

The nice thing about the pattern (if you can call it that) is that once the stitches are on the needles, it’s just a matter of switching knits and purls at the markers until I either run out of yarn or forget where I left it. This stole has become my favorite project to work on while talking or reading. Even so, I go entire months without so much as glancing at it. Luckily, we have one of those friendships where you can go ages without talking and then pick right up where you left off.

The yarn is an undyed alpaca-bamboo blend that  is lovely to knit. I’m currently working on the 6th of what will eventually be 8 different stripes. The subtle, natural shading — three shades of gray and five shades of brown — adds to the zen quality of slowly working along each of these long rows.

73,272 stitches down. 36,808 stitches to go.

You know, if you’re counting.

Just keep knitting. Just keep knitting. What do we do? We knit. Knit.*


*With apologies to Ellen Degeneres.


Happy Traveler and Doctor Blue

Blue Variant Scarf Started
I finished up Gillian’s Season 12 Doctor Who scarf over the weekend, but not before Berns asked for one of his own. He didn’t want a Season 12 like his sister’s. He wants a Blue Variant for the 6th Doctor.

Of course!

What’s that?

I’ll save you some research.

The 6th Doctor — evidently — had a pretty wild costume. When they revived the character for an audio show in about 2002, someone decided it would be tons easier to tone his costume down from a bunch of bright colors to several shades of blue for the adverts.

(Silly me, but, after they’d already invented the multi-colored version and sewn it in real life as a costume for an actual person to wear, this seems a little lazy. I’m sure this thinking puts me into some kind of Whovian Interwebs Battle. Let me go on record to say that I don’t want a vote if someone’s keeping score.)

Okay. But what kind of scarf did he wear?

Best I can tell, he didn’t.

Of course!

Thank goodness for Tara Wheeler and the fact that she thinks of everything. Yes, there is actually an official unofficial, non-canon blue variant scarf pattern.

But Berns didn’t want that one. He wanted a Season 12 in Blue.

Of course!

Are you following?

So, I gathered 7 shades of blue wool — well, 4 shades of blue, 2 shades of turquoise, and a medium gray — and went back to the Season 12 scarf and decided which color of blue would substitute for each of the canon colors and got started. I’m making the stripes 2/3rds the size of the original Season 12 scarf. My goal is to make it 7-8 feet long. We’re calling it “Dr Blue“.

Of course!

Why in the world would I spend weeks of my life making garter stitch scarves based on a TV show from the 1980s that I didn’t watch at the time and have only seen partial episodes accidentally since?

This is why:

2013-09-08 16.30.57


Yes, she’s wearing it without the fringe and with the unwoven ends dangling in the back. She couldn’t wait.

Of course!

Hot Tea and Wool Season

Knitting a Henley

It’s the time of year when it’s starting to get a little chilly and things like hot tea and wool call to me. As you may or may not know, I do a fair bit of crocheting all year around. What I don’t do is knit. Well, I have knit things along the way. But the reality is that when I’m knitting I’m thinking about the fact that I could have finished 4 crochet projects in the time it takes me to knit one.

Even so, I get the urge from time to time to knit something. This time it’s all Kristen’s fault. While she does a fair bit of crochet, she also knits, sews, and quilts beautiful things. I was successfully resisting the urge to follow in her footsteps until she posted her version of this sweater. Twice.

While out on a date-date with Ned Andrew on Friday night, I talked him into taking me to the yarn store to purchase new circular needles and some yarn. You know, because nothing in my room-filling stash was exactly what I wanted to use.

Okay, so on Saturday I was about 12 rows in and was pretty pleased to report that my stockinette stitch was knitting up even. I’d even call it gorgeous. My increases were a nightmare, though. In the place where I was supposed to be making a new stitch I ended up making a new hole instead. Near tears, I put the needles down and vowed to go to my local yarn store first thing on Sunday.

As luck would have it, Bliss wasn’t open when I got there and closed before I could get back. I was with the family and we had an outing all planned, so I thought all hope was lost. But a dear lady and yarn-lover, Pam, saw my cries for help, took pity on my soul, and invited me to her house for a demonstration of Make Ones. She also magically ended my twenty-year frustration with the continental purl stitch in about 45 seconds.

Once I got home last night, I ripped the whole thing out and started over. So far– 23 rows in — I only have one hole and I’m actually having fun! This is a miracle… seriously.

Add to that the first official day of hot tea season, and I’m a pretty happy girl.

I heart Autumn.

Hot Tea Season


Self Care Day on the 6th: November 2012

November 6

It’s November 6th! And you know what that means, right?

Well, if you live in the US, it’s Election Day. Which means it’s time to vote if you haven’t already participated in early voting. I’ll spare you the rest of the monologue since — unless you’ve been on a long safari — you’re full up with this election. I certainly am, and I actually love this whole process of researching candidates, making my choices, going to the polls, and voting.

So, let’s assume you’ve voted or have that worked into your schedule for the day (or happen to live in Tanzania and aren’t scheduled to vote until 2015) and move on to the self care portion of the program.

Cool? Great!

Even if you aren’t running for elected office, the beginning of November can be a wee bit anxiety inducing. Lots of folks see this as the start of The Holiday Season. You know, once the Halloween candy has been collected from all of the neighbors and the stores are unabashedly stocking the shelves with every possible flashing red, green, and gold item the marketing folks can dream up, we start to tense up a little (or a lot) knowing that the calendar is officially going off the rails any minute now.

Gifting — listing, financing, buying, wrapping, sending, unwrapping, thanking, storing — is just one of the activities that deserves recognition as a varsity sport.

Then there are the parties and the concerts and the rellies and the Nutcracker and the cooking and baking and cleaning out the guest room for Aunt Molly and the non-stop merry-go-round travel among commitments far and wide and someone forgot the apples for the Waldorf Salad, so the whole thing is ruined.

Well, whoa. Who says?

While I’m as sentimental as just about anyone I know, I finally pushed pause on this whirling dervish of holiday hell and rethought the whole thing several years ago. Just like any other “project” in my life I took a long look at it and asked some of those really powerful questions that Helen Sanderson and her crew taught me to ask. Fair warning: These queries are magical.

What’s working?

What’s not working?

What do we love and want to keep?

What do we dread and want to toss?

Knowing what we know now, what will we do next?

So how do you work this magic? It really is up to you.

Maybe you like sticky notes. I know I do! So, when I did this, I went through each question, putting one item on each sticky note so that I could look at it in isolation and really think about how that aspect of the season impacted my joy — positively and negatively.

You may want to do this exercise alone or you may want to involve some (cooperative) folks from your planning committee — er — family in this conversation. Or you may want to do it by yourself first and then invite comments.

Got your stickies? (Or your notebook or your pictures from last year or a word processor document open or a template from Helen or your steering committee and graphic facilitator?)

Good. Now, go through each question one at a time.

What’s working? Make a list of all (or a sticky for each) of the things, people, foods, traditions, and Traditions that really make this season meaningful for you.

What’s not working? Make a list of all (or a sticky for each) of the things, people, foods, traditions, and Traditions that really make this season dreadful for you.

Then refine them with the next couple of questions. What do we love and want to keep? What do we dread and want to toss? What might we combine or change or rethink or move around?

Be fearless! Really think about what it is you want out of your — YOUR — holidays.

One of the things I changed was gift giving. There came a point when it just wasn’t fun anymore. I was spending weeks hunting down and buying stuff off of lists that my family exchanged in September and shipping it all over the country or schlepping it there along with the apples for the Waldorf Salad, only to have all of that stuff get lost in the piles of wrapping paper and gift overwhelm.

Now, we tend to give everyone (except the wee kids) on our holiday gift list exactly the same thing. It’s different each year, but it’s the same gift for everyone — teachers, Mom & Dad, cousins, friends, siblings, co-workers. One year, we made popcorn kits that included paper bags, kernels, seasonings, recipes, a movie and a lovely glass bowl. Another year everyone got a hand-made scarf. In slim years, we’ve given out ornaments or baked goods. We save the specially-picked-out-just-for-you gifts for birthdays or sussies*.

I’ll admit that this practice may horrify you — and I’m cool with that — but it makes me a very happy camper during the season of lights.

I have friends who have stopped visiting far-flung relatives and stay at home, volunteer at a shelter, cover the office for their co-workers, and save their travel for when the traffic is a lighter. Some folks give a donation to a charity they love and forgo the gift exchange. One large family goes to a state park and rent cabins so that no one has to clean their house and host 30 cousins for a week.  Still another has their big gather-the-clan celebration at Thanksgiving and does their Christmas and Hanukkah celebrations with their immediate families in their own homes.

No offense intended to the memory of Oscar Tschirky — aka “Oscar of the Waldorf” — but I am pretty sure we could even find a way to be joyful without a bowl of chopped apples, celery, and walnuts doused in mayonnaise.

So, what will you do to take care of your self during the holidays? What are you keeping? What are you tossing? What are you reinventing? I’d love to hear all about your favorite traditions and Traditions — old and new!


*a word my dear friend, Tracey, taught me for gifts sent just because

Brown Paper Packages Tied up with Strings

How to Be Blissful


If you’ve known me for more than 8 minutes, you know that I love Susan Kennedy (aka Susan Arial Rainbow Kennedy or SARK) and her juicy, happy, free-flowing style of loving herself and life (and naps!)

From time to time, I treat myself to a SARK book or one of her online gatherings. They’re always colorful and fun.

Then I started adding other other online courses and support systems. They’re all great — full of information and enthusiastic people — until I hit the saturation point. I couldn’t call in to one more tele-webi-simul-confer-nar..

So when I got the invitation to SARK’s Creative Clubhouse, I deleted it. And the next one. And three more. And then I got the wild hair to go ahead and look at the information. And then I deleted that one, too

Until Tuesday when I decided, you know what? I really like her stuff and I’m in need of a balance to GiTheWriQua (Gina’s Thesis Writing Quarter — my nod to NaNoWriMo). So, I signed up and semi-reluctantly called in. (Ned Andrew basically grabbed my plate from me and sent me to my studio with seven minutes left before the call.)

The call was okay — my energy was low from worry over the storm in the Northeast — but the game we played got me engaged. By the end of the night, it didn’t look like much, but I’d captured this:

I’m a visual person, so having the instructions in front of me the next morning allowed me to take my scribbled mess and turn it into a poem I’m pretty proud of.

Wanna see?

Okay. Here it is!

How to Be Blissful -- Live without a watch -- Peace -- Follow your heart -- Ease -- Build yourself a creative play space -- Fun -- Fill it with an abundance of sparkly ingredients -- Joy -- Light a candle. Light two more. -- Breathe -- Turn up the music! Dance and sing! -- Giggle -- Express your love through yarn, fabric, words, pictures, color & sound -- Flourish -- Invite your favorite people in to play, too -- Bonus --Fearlessly do the thing you long to do --Play -- Be the person you’re destined to be -- Bliss -- Love, Gina ;~}

So, there ya go. Even in the middle of the worst storm pretty much anywhere, ever, I found a tiny space of calm.

Oh, if you wanna come play with us, you can! The Creative Clubhouse is open! Woooohooooo!


PS Happy Anniversary, Ned Andrew! I love you, sweet boy!

A Step Along The Way

A Step Along The Way CD Release

As you may or may not know, my husband, Ned Andrew, is quite the talented guy. He’s a journalist and an editor, directs leadership institutes, is a fantastic speaker and trainer, does all of our laundry and keeps us fed.

He’s also an amazingly skilled singer, songwriter and musician. One of his tunes is even part of the  Smithsonian Archives. Seriously.

Once upon a time, before internet and cell phones, he came to Nashville on the advice of some music industry folks who thought he “had it” only to pack it in 5 years later to raise some kids and work a full-time “real job.”

As the story goes, he even removed the strings from his 1971 Martin D28 for about a decade. Yeah. It was bad.

Fast forward to 2011 and the 40 year anniversary of his acquiring that guitar. We headed out on a 2500 mile road trip to visit family and friends all over the eastern side of the US. Folks were delighted that he brought along his guitar — though he was still somewhat hesitant to impose his music upon them. After receiving incredibly warm welcomes and enthusiastic responses to his tunes and talent everywhere we went, I planted a bug.

“Hey, hon, it would be so wonderful if you’d get these songs down for us. I mean, we don’t have good recordings of any of them and it would be a shame to lose them all.”

Once those words came out of my mouth, the stars began to align and talented folks started appearing from everywhere to help us out.

We have a friend in LA who owns a fabulous studio who had offered to record Ned Andrew’s tunes. I was ready to book a flight. Walking Champ one morning, we talked about how ironic it would be to fly across the country to make a recording when we could probably knock on 12 doors in our neighborhood and find 6 basement studios.

That evening we went to a house concert where we met Fett. Turns out that Fett lives on our street. And, yes, he runs an amazing professional studio in his basement. Oh, and as a bonus? He specializes in capturing live guitar and vocal. Not kidding.

So, I encouraged — er, pushed, shoved, begged, and cajoled — Ned Andrew into booking some studio time. He finally did, and over the course of this past year he and Fett recorded the guitar and vocal to 25 of his original songs. They picked out 12 that work well together, recorded background vocals on 4 of those, and mixed and mastered them into an album.

While Fett was doing his production magic, we went to visit dear friends in New York where the incredibly talented Andrew Lerman captured the concert shots we used for the album’s cover.

From there, we went into the packaging design and disc replication phase of the project. We’ve learned all sorts of cool information about glass mastering and graphic design along the way thanks to the ever-helpful folks at DiscMasters.

A rather large, heavy box of perfectly mastered, printed, and shrink-wrapped CDs were delivered to our door yesterday. Talk about a once-in-a-lifetime moment! It was pretty surreal to hold this album in my hands for the first time.

Now we’re on to distribution and are working with a company to get Ned Andrew’s music available through all of those online outlets in physical CD and downloadable formats.

The whole business is absolutely fascinating.

I’m pretty daggone proud of my sweet hubby for being brave enough to pick his guitar back up at all, but I’m over the moon that he’s finally recorded this album. It really did start out as a selfish desire to have copies of his songs recorded for me and the kids, but I’m willing to share them with y’all.

At some point soon the album, A Step Along the Way, will be available through outlets like Amazon and iTunes. In the meantime, you can get a really real CD directly from Ned’s website.

It’s a truly wonderful collection culminating more than four decades of writing and performing.

My next little plot is to get Ned Andrew “playing out” again.

You’re welcome.

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