Thursday, January 21, 2010

Weekend in the melting snow

melting snow

So, last weekend I attended a retreat at Holy Cross Monastery - a wonderful place on the Hudson River in upstate NY, which was still frozen and snowy when we arrived on Friday. And I must admit I was a bit intimidated by the idea of visiting a monastery, but everyone there was very welcoming and friendly. I don't really have interior shots or photos of the building, which is about 100 years old, and lovely, but I did snap a few shots outdoors of the melting snow:

in the sun

It was such a beautiful, inspiring place. The monks make incense there, and the faint, sharp smell permeates everything - even my own clothes smelled of incense when I returned. To me, the incense smells like cedar and South Texas, and Taos. The insides of the buildings were warm, creaky, book-lined, and cozy, with wheezy radiators and singing pipes, which reminded me of the lodges I stayed in at Glacier National Park. The chapel is a gorgeous, high-ceilinged place, and its simple white plaster walls with heavy wooden beams and wood flooring remind me of the missions in San Antonio. The photo I linked to, by the way, is from the Flickr stream of one of the monks of Holy Cross, and his pictures are amazing.

little creature

Above all, I loved that it was a place to be very quiet - from Friday night at 8:30 PM until Sunday morning at 11:30 AM, we were asked to observe complete silence. It sounds intimidating (and it was, at first), but the kind of quiet and contemplation this leads to was incredible. I was grateful for a holiday from chit chat and talking, and I know I was able to think about things, and interact with people in a way that I never would have done otherwise.

hemmed in by the sparkling, melting snow

Each office on Saturday was dedicated to prayers for the people of Haiti, and in between services a monk was assigned to remain in the chapel and pray for the safety of the rescuers and survivors there. I was so impressed by the spirit of kindness that pervades this place. Oh, and the food was out of this world. I highly recommend it, whatever your faith background, as a quiet place to appreciate the beauty outside and re-connect with a spirit of calmness.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

My year in crafts: 2009

My year in crafts

One thing I love about Flickr is its ability to prove me wrong. See, this year felt like a bit of an unproductive wasteland for me - I spent so much of it thinking and going through some rough spots. It seemed to me I hadn't made much of anything. But all I had to do was click back through my archives to see I created much more than I realized. I love looking at things that my over-filled brain has completely forgotten, like that cute mixtape card, banner, and white-on-white embroidery and thinking, oh yeah, I did that. I've never had a visual medium to record all the ideas and things I make, so I'm really grateful for Flickr.

Oh, and by the way, an update on Mr. Pattinson - who you see in all his cross-stitched glory: he was finally dispatched to my best friend's home where he was duly opened by her mom whose reaction was "Lamb? Stupid? Wha-?" My best friend, however, cracked up. Her boyfriend likely rolled his eyes so hard he swooned. In short: Mission Accomplished. :)

Does this exist... in cross-stitch?

This brings me to another challenge which I may take up. My best friend's office mate is solidly Team Jacob and has requested a cross-stitch of his abs. Seriously? Cross-stitched abs? The thought is so ridiculous I might have to do it. Can anyone help me find a pattern of cross-stitched Jacob abs? I'd be eternally grateful! ;)