Friday, October 13, 2017

To Live Deliberately

Tomorrow I go North...and will be spending some time in the woods to, like Thoreau said, "live deliberately."  No computer.  Just some serious silent and contemplative time, to get my feet on the ground again.  Really on the ground.

My necessities?

1.  Good Prymm manuscript and guidelines for writing a query letter...

2.  Good reading...

3.  Stitchery and all the needfuls...I use Remember's sampler as a guide for the lettering...

4.  Toll House cookies, naturally...

5.  A bottle of nice white wine...

6.  Oh!  And cute jeans, of course!

All else will be extraneous. :)

In my rambles I will collect colorful, already-fallen leaves and perhaps a stone or two for our little grandsons.  And, of course, this little Green Witch will be taking photos of her surroundings, especially the trees, as they should be peak when we arrive...and I will be ready to share with you upon my return.

Until then...get out and walk about!   Pick out a pumpkin or two! Make a scarecrow! Drink some apple cider!  Build a fire and roast some weenies! Gaze at the moon!  Enjoy this autumn while ye may! Bless (farewell in Icelandic)!

© 2017 Nancy Duncan

Monday, October 9, 2017

Season of the Witch

Now, some of you may think I am obsessed with the idea of witches.  And you would be correct...but it is natural and typical for me to thoroughly immerse myself in something I find interesting.  Just ask my husband, as he has witnessed my being involved in all manner of interests, including karate, kickboxing, yoga, Colonial history, herbs, gardening, spinning, embroidery, dyeing, knitting, well, you get the idea.

I have loved witches since I was a little girl...and refused to be anything else for Halloween all those years. No regrets! But now I am fascinated by the history of witches...or, so-called witches...the psychology behind those years of persecution, especially those pertaining to Colonial New England.

Several years ago my sister and I decided to travel to Ipswich, MA, as we both wanted to visit the now-closed Lowell Textile History Museum, which we did see.  And we saw Salem, too.  But I also was fascinated with Ipswich Lace, the only cottage industry lace unique to America, and hope to take a class with Karen Thompson next summer.  Karen is an expert in Ipswich Lace, having recreated all 22 samples that exist (working closely with the Smithsonian) and having recently published a book on this beautiful lace. That little trip to Massachusetts turned out to be a life-changing experience for me, as the concept of Goody Prymm was "born" there...and has led to my endless interest now in this earliest chapter of our country's history.  <l:)

As October is the "season of the witch," I thought I'd share a little pillow I designed and stitched, one for myself and one for my sister, the only difference being that her little knit-witch stands guard in the corner of her pillow, while mine is flying away on knitting needles.  We travel a lot together, and she is the one that keeps us on target (thank goodness), while I tend to be the kind who wanders and is likely to get us lost, lol!  I suppose, though, we balance each other out nicely that way, she keeping us safe and I pushing for adventure.

The ground is 40 count linen...I almost went blind stitching two of these little pillows, haha!  The threads are all silk, appropriately, given that Ipswich Lace is typically black silk. The boundaries are places we visited and the years they were founded: Ipswich 1634, Salem 1626, and Lowell 1826, while the Rogers and Brown House (where we stayed) was built ca. 1750, although the back part of the house, where we stayed, dated to the 1600s.  The broom and the little witch are from Lori of Notforgotten Farm, except that I made the little witch's "broom" into knitting needles which are unraveling the yarn from the full moon yarn ball as she flies away. The number 41, 979 yards on the broomstick refers to the amount of lace that was produced by hand in Ipswich in one year (1789-1790).  Now, if you don't know, that is a tremendous amount of bobbin lace, all created by women (and possibly some children) by hand using bobbins and pillows for lacemaking...perhaps 600 or so people contributing.

The backing is from a purple wool (and goose feather) Canadian blanket, while the blanket stitching around the edges are black wool.  Inside the pillow is stufft with strips of my father's old army blanket, wool, and a found object from each place we visited.  Mine contains a fallen leaf from the Burying Ground in Salem, an acorn along the Merrimack River in Lowell, and a small, crushed shell from the pathway at the Whipple House, which houses samples of Ipswich Lace. Goode stuffe, indeed.

I had a ball making our souvenirs from that trip! Every time I look at my pillow, I think about the fun we had and all that we learned...and I dream of returning to Ipswich one day...

© 2017 Nancy Duncan

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Updates for A Promise: A Pouch for a Healer

Check in for full updates on my post "A Promise: Pouch for a Healer." Winter side is completed!

Saturday, October 7, 2017

C'mon, you turkeys...

Just when I'm starting to get my Halloween on...

These turkeys show up!!  There were at least 10 of them on the side of the road down from where we live, so naturally I had to rush home to grab my camera...The pic at the bottom I took whilst the vehicle was in motion, but there are some in front of and behind that fence.

I love the majestic turkey, but I don't want to think Thanksgiving just yet! :)

© 2017 Nancy Duncan

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Harvest Moon 2017

Here she is, rising over our little house...looking so soft, so peaceful...

Happy Harvest, Moon!

© 2017 Nancy Duncan

Completing the Dream

The completed and polished first draft of A Year and a Day in the Life of Goody Imagination Prymm is completed...all 151+ pages...all 36,000+ words.

It has been a year and a half in the making.

To finish this is very gratifying for me...but, of course, my work is not done.  Getting something published in this day and age in the traditional way is very difficult to accomplish.  Yes, I could pay for the publication and go through Amazon.  Yes, I could publish an ebook version.  But I want to do this in the traditional way, and that means going through an agent.  I have found the agency I am interested in and hope to entice one of their agents to put his/her faith in my book and seek publication.

Before I do this, I am going away for 10 days or so, three of which will be spent in a cabin in the woods.  Total peace and quiet.  Total concentration.  There I will read my novella as though I am not familiar with it, as though I am an agent just beginning to read the first few pages (starting today I will not even touch the manuscript until that know, get a little distance between me and it).

I will also be writing my one-page query letter, written to "pull in" the agents I choose to contact.   From everything I've read, the query letter is ALL important.  It's the thing that gets you through the door (that and the first 5 pages of the manuscript).

I have no delusions about this.  I've not been to any writers' conferences.  I have no connections. Chances are I will be turned down again and again until either the manuscript or a particular agent is just right.

I also need to find other readers, and I have those people already in mind.  They are educated, well read, and I believe they will be honest in their opinions of it.  I plan to give them a few questions, too, related to the work's tone, structure, characters, clarity, etc.  Then I will take a look at their criticism and see what needs to be adjusted or rewritten or developed or kept as is.

There is so much involved in becoming a published author, particularly one of fiction.

But I have high hopes!  And I'm willing to work toward that goal of being a published author.
Goody Prymm, Remember, and I will go into this together.  Wish us luck!

© 2017 Nancy Duncan

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Monday, October 2, 2017

A Promise: A Pouch for a Healer

Ahhh, there is so much promise in a blank piece of linen...

I've been reading about women healers of early Colonial New England, and want to stitch a piece dedicated to them.  But I also want to make the piece functional in the way I believe they might have or could it will become a little folded pouch (small enough to carry in their pocket under their petticoat!) with small pockets for seeds, woodland samples, and such. I will imagine them stitching it to make it uniquely their own.  The supposed stitcher of this piece will be a figment of my imagination, but she will encompass aspects from the historical healers I research. The Bonnie White Hare, after all, is "where imagination weds the past..." ;)

I've sanded it a bit to add wear and to soften the linen...and I did dip it briefly in a black walnut bath (the linen was very white). Later I will add some stains after it is stitched.  Now...what to stitch?  That's the fun part! And it's brewing right now in my head...! (I used to tell my GT students that, to create story, it often involves time...and often it is helpful to just "let it roll around in their heads for a while).

And the significance of the Black Feather? Why, none, really!  However, it is said that finding a Black Feather signifies that a lost loved one is watching over and protecting the finder.  A lovely thought indeed on this Feast Day of Guardian Angels.  :)

Update:  I selected some of the colors I am planning to use...morning light is always good for the selection process.  At the top is a dark rose DMC thread which I am using for the border, and the other colors are Gloriana Tudor Silk threads, from top to bottom and left to right: Aubergine (like a deep eggplant shade), Elizabethan Green, Rosewood, India Ink, and White. I wanted them, for the most part, dark and rich, like the woods, a place where healers would wander and pick wild herbs and plants, and gather seeds.

Update:  I've added very little lately, as I have been busy with other pursuits and obligations. But I have begun the inner border  (using the Elizabethan Green silk thread) and have stitched four little motifs (using the Gloriana white silk and black silk threads), which I believe would have been important to healers of the 1600s: the four phases of the moon. In the left picture are the Maiden Moon and the Full Moon. In the right picture, the New Moon (black) and the Crone Moon.

Update:  One of the healers I have been researching is Elizabeth Morse of Newbury, Massachusetts (now known as Newburyport).  I have not found much about her healing practice except through the various depositions brought against her in court...some accounts dating to 16 years previous!  Like Goody Prymm says, if it's a witch you are looking for, it is a witch you will find.  And they did in the form of Elizabeth Morse.  Elizabeth Morse was both healer and midwife. She was accused and tried as a witch in 1680 when she was in her mid sixties.  It was not unusual for an older woman to be the scapegoat for all sorts of unexplained "mischief." Her husband, a cobbler, had reported that mischief was afoot at his house for many days.  Stones and sticks were violently thrown against their house and on their roof, not to mention somehow a hog had inexplicably gotten in their house. Now, they had a grandson (somewhat of a rogue) who lived with them whom the neighbor suspected was at the bottom of all the pranks.  So the neighbor said he would take the boy just one day and, sure enough, the mischief ceased (ya think?!). Unfortunately for the neighbor, he was accused of wizardry ( try to do something nice for someone) and was brought to trial but found not guilty for lack of convincing evidence.  So whom do you think they had to blame then?
Why, Elizabeth Morse, naturally...a woman in her 60s, healer and midwife.  All sorts of depositions were brought against her, things as ridiculous as a sheep dying and rumors of rats and cats chasing each other in her house.  She was sentenced to hang and spent a year in the Boston Jail.

Fortunately for Elizabeth, the "Witch of Newbury," her husband begged for her pardon and addressed all the accusations. She was granted a reprieve...but was confined to her husband's four-acre house and lot, being "forbidden to travel more than 16 rods (one rod is the equivalent of 16.5 feet) from her property, unless accompanied by a pastor or deacon."

I grow herbs. I'm in my early 60s. Animals love me. I am considered to have a healthy intellect.  Geez. Had I lived in those times, I could very well have been accused of being a witch!  So could any of you have been....

Update:  Tiny woodland flower...the first of more to come, as well as little mushrooms and fern fiddles...Teeny, tiny stitching.  Like a faerie world...:)

Couldn't resist those red-capped mushrooms with white polka dots! One side done. Ferns are next.

Ferns, fiddleheads, and fungi...(I like that alliteration)...

Update:  I've now begun the third side...and have decided that each side should represent a season.  The flowers and red-capped mushroom for spring; the lush ferns, fiddleheads, and fungi for summer;
and now the changing leaves (ooh...see one has already fallen off the vine!), acorn(s), and mushrooms for fall. The fourth side will be bare branches and berries, most likely, for winter. Like the landscapes of winter, it will be less decorative but lovely in its own way. Oddly, I think it was to be the four seasons all along.  I often do things subconsciously and don't realize it until it is right there before me. BTW, I know the stitching for the vine with leaves is not particularly precise, nor especially neat.  More like a "sketch."

Update:  Third (autumn) side is complete...the funny-looking thing growing next to the middle mushrooms is a type of bracket know, this type of fungi that looks like little shelves growing on the side of an old tree stump. Some can be really striking.  On the far left is a little bird's nest, which are easy to find in the autumn, as the little birdlings have flown their nests and the trees are becoming more bare.  Next...winter!

The winter side was a snap...bare trees and branches, dried grasses, pine and berry branches.  Nothing else. What you see running up the middle of the piece is a witch hazel branch, of which I will stitch several, serving as the fold.  Then I will begin the words...

Here is the piece opened up so far...

© 2017 Nancy Duncan

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Hello, October!

What a difference a day makes...Monarchs everywhere!! :):):)

Makes wrangling with that Blue Mist worthwhile!

© 2017 Nancy Duncan

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Green Witch's Report: Farewell, September!

These last several days have been wonderful!  We finally got some rain (not quite an inch, but oh-so-welcome!), which has cleared the air of some of the Ragweed pollen that has held me housebound for so long.  And, as a result, out I went to the gardens to get some pics.  C'mon! Come with me!

As we head out to the gardens, my front door signals the arrival of Fall...and the front porch dons purple chrysanthemums read to burst, and a jolly orange pumpkin. I plan to decorate my broom with dried herbs this first week of October....

There are things growing that are doing so of their own volition...this "ivy," for example, growing up one of the Three Sisters.  I'm going to have to research that and make sure it is not a poison ivy of sorts.  I suspect it is Virginia Creeper, which will turn scarlet in the cooler weather to come. And over in the grandchildren's garden a little trailing ivy that has seed heads!! They look like those big snap beads we used to play with as children...remember those?

There are some things still in the Encore Azaleas and the occasional Yellow Rose...but the Summer Phlox is on its last leg...

Aaaaannnnnd...there's the Blue Mist which provides nectar for fluttering visitors...but it has stunted my Russian Sage, the stinker...

The Basil is blooming beautifully! The dried blooms will look nice in a miniature wreath, methinks...mmmm! I love its fragrance...And the brilliant Cypress Vine is finally taking off.  Usually it goes crazy in the heat of August...but August was quite cool and wet for us this year.

Most things are going to seed, like the Black-eyed Susans, which are all black eyes, now.  I will have to cut them back soon, as they will start to look unkempt before long. Some plants, such as the Jerusalem Sage, just didn't get the rain they needed this year...

Other Mediterranean plants (like Thyme) and the Indian Feather Grass adored the heat and dryness...

My Garlic Chives have bloomed and now have the heavy seed heads which, after our rain, became quite top-heavy, weighing them down.  The Firepower Nandina is beginning to turn...this Winter it will be a bright red to cheer up a sleeping garden...

There are some non-living and therefore non-changing things in my garden which I enjoy, such as this little girl who sits in my Butterfly Garden all seasons.  Up close, she looks other-worldly...I rather like that! Only time and weathering can do that...

A rusty fence Angel and St. Fiacre (Patron Saint of Gardeners), though, keep things right...Is it my imagination, or does the Angel have a sort of ethereal light around her....

My leaping frog, though, is one of my faves...while this thermometer is just plain ol' wishful thinking, lol!

The chimes in the backyard tree make music, along with the occasional breeze...can you hear it? Just close your eyes and imagine it...there. Music for your ears...:)

Gardens should be places to explore, with little (and sometimes whimsical) surprises for the wanderer.  The Fall season promises hidden just have to get out and find it! Believe me, this little Green Witch knows which way the wind blows!  So take a stroll in the woods or in a garden today.  You'll be glad you did as you lay your head to rest tonight and count your blessings...

© 2017 Nancy Duncan