hallowed things.

happy halloween, friends!

thank you, sweet people, for your kind words regarding my dad. i felt a bit vulnerable posting something so tender and personal here, but i’m very glad i did. a nice thing happened, actually, while i was writing that post. my father called me. he only does that maybe once a year. (we talk each week… i call him every sunday morning while dog walking.) he was calling to inform me that his telephone is broken (which, well, it’s clearly not). i wonder if it’s possible he felt me thinking about him, somehow? seems possible. he’s sensitive like that.

oh, man… i am tired. i’ve been working long, long hours, and there are more long hours to come. during non-work hours, i’ve been engaging in thrilling tasks such as sealing grout & re-caulking the bathtub & raking leaves & sewing cheap rugs together for my kitchen floor. i’m quite relating to the rhythm of the squirrels burying walnuts in the backyard in readiness for winter. sometime soon, there’ll be time for sleeping. (i might be posting a bit less frequently this week, we’ll see.)

(bone painting in the dining room. thrifted.)

but for today, i’ve got a few good links to share with you all:

♥ this is why i need a tripod.

♥ take my heart: can’t. stop. listening.

♥ even thinking about politics makes my head spin to bad places, so i generally stay out of them altogether. however, i find this concept hilariously brilliant: occupy your junk mail.

♥ a sweet reader left a comment here to let us know that penguins need sweaters. heartbreaking, adorable.

♥ i really and truly found them… the perfect boots! (perfect if i made six figures, that is. details, details… oh, well.)

♥ if i typed in caps here i’d write it all in uppercase letters: beautiful bohemian interiors!!!

♥ and last, but not least: a slew of excellent thrifting tricks for your treats! if you’re new to thrift shopping, or just want to get better at it, you’ll surely want to head over to a beautiful mess and check out this post!

now go and eat some candy!



keep stoking the fire, and other lessons.

hi everyone, guess what?

my dad turns 86 today! he is old and he knows it. he is a person of special character, and most certainly not the sort of fellow who thinks it’s cute when people say you’re only as old as you feel. he would say that he feels old, that things wear out with use. actually, he wouldn’t say it– he would think it instead. he doesn’t talk much.

my dad didn’t talk much ever, i don’t think, but he did read to me (usually by candlelight) every night when he put me down to sleep. always, it was poetry… either classic heavy hitters or dr. seuss, but not much in between. my father likes rhymes. limericks make him laugh a bit too loud. a poem must rhyme or it is not a poem; that’s my father’s take on things.

before i go any further with this, i will answer the obvious question: i am thirty-four years old, not sixty. my pops was oldish before he made me. there are advantages and disadvantages to this arrangement, as you might imagine, but the eye of the spirit level lies quite tilted toward the side of advantageous.

my father is a self-made man in the truest sense. he was orphaned young, during the depression. nobody handed him opportunities on a platter; he had to find his own, and so he did. he enlisted in the navy at sixteen, for the sake of education and travel. he worked hard & he was smart, so he moved through ranks with uncommon speed and became an officer. he was a deep sea diver, and really carved quite a remarkable career for himself. he would never say so, but that’s true.

by the end of vietnam, he thought it was time to go to the woods. he retired and fixed up an old stone house in new hampshire, and then he hiked the appalachian trail, four times. on the third go-round, he met a (much) younger woman who was just as crazy about walking in the woods that he was. she was a southern debutante hippie rebel who was surely the strangest match for him in every way, but he loved her because for some reason she reminded him of katharine hepburn. so after he’d known her for two weeks, he said to her, and i quote, i don’t suppose you’d want to marry an old geezer like me. they got married and started homesteading and then came me. the marriage did not last, but he has, and i have, and so has my mother, and there is still a lot of love between us all. we are still a family, deep and real and messy and strange, like families tend to be.

here are a few of the useful things my father taught me (he sets the bar high, folks): how to grind grain into flour. how to make a perfect popover. how to sew clothes. how to love poetry and words. how to develop photographs. how to build a loom and weave with it. how to divine for water. how to chop wood. how to build a sauna. how to make wine from rhubarb [editor’s note: not recommended]. how to use a root cellar. do not let that ladder touch the electric cables! barbie is stupid but i will buy you one anyway. this is how you squish a potato bug. this is how you fold an american flag. sleep in a tent with regularity. wars are pointless and are generally about religion and testicles. “snazzy” and “spiffy” are effective adjectives. be nice to your teachers. anyone can be your teacher if you seek to learn things (which you should). look people in the eye when you say hello. yes, say hello, even when you are feeling shy. say thank you when people do kind things, say it over and over. if you move your body around a lot and only eat when you’re hungry, you will not get fat. you are not a victim of anyone but yourself. be generous of your time and resources. trust… and when in doubt, ask the old-timers. let sleeping dogs lie. there’s little more fun than a squeaky wooden roller coaster. npr is good on sundays, and you should listen to it loud when you start to lose your hearing, and not give one fig if it happens to rupture your companion’s eardrums with a deafening click and clack. what other people think is none of your business! make friends with people who are different than you are. make friends with animals. the african queen is the greatest movie ever made. never hire someone to do something you can do yourself. you can do almost anything yourself. listening to opera makes you feel things deep inside, and it might make you cry, so let it. getting old is hard, even when you’re trying to be graceful. when you aren’t graceful anymore, just pretend you are, and others will believe it. sometimes you’ll fall down. get up again until you can’t.

that guy, my dad… he made himself, and then he made me, and i thank him over and over. and i thank you for reading this, too. send him a little secret love today, will you? he’ll feel it.


the urban aran for a country gentleman.

i made this sweater for my father’s birthday last year. i have knit him a few sweaters over the years, and this one was a bit of a technical challenge with all of its cabling and backwards cabling. i made several mistakes, but it turned out nicely anyway. the pattern is paton’s “street smart,” which i believe might be out of print now (hope it isn’t since this is really a great pattern). i followed jarod flood’s modifications (adding zipper and some shaping); you can find them here, along with better pictures than these here)! jarod also has a new line of insanely great yarn called shelter. the wool is sourced from a farm in new hampshire and i can’t wait to get some on my needles! my dad lives in new hampshire, and he doesn’t care much about things like street smarts or being hip and urban. he cares about keeping his bones warm during the winter chill, and this sweater serves his purpose.

(this is not my dad.)

when my pops unwrapped it, his eyes welled up with tears and he declared it “very snazzy.” that means: success! my dad is an exceptionally kind, exceptionally interesting person, deserving of many good sweaters. (it’s possible i might be biased.) his birthday is tomorrow, & i’ll write some words about him in this space, because he is too good not to share.

thanks for stopping by!


i used a spirit level.

hi there. today i thought i’d show you the new shelves for the little toolshed we’ve been building, bit by bit, for almost a year now! it’s nearly finished which is totally exciting because things need places and we’ve been waiting. i am slow to procure materials and am a very, very slow woodworker. i used extra fence boards, leftover from that cedar summer of ours, & found an old-fashioned miter box at a church sale, and sawed and sawed. everything by hand, since that is how i roll. by-hand slowness helps me feel closer to the thing i make. it brings me closer to myself, too.

hope you’re not too far away from you, either.


unrelated items in the form of a list.

hello lovelies,

i’ve been busy busy, with work of the general life variety and also of the money-earning variety (thank goodness, because my pockets are rather empty at the moment, but let’s not dwell on that). alas, alack, i have no brainpower for writing a cohesive post, so you’ll have to settle for the following list of goodness.

♥ first off, music!! are you on the hunt for new bands to listen to, but don’t know where to start? i can relate. go check out my old kentucky blog, and let the cool kids tell you what’s going on right now. my good friend, the smart and sassy miss dolly mod, knows more about music than anyone else i know… here are some of her words about brooklyn-based  big tree’s new album, storm king. oh, and fair warning… sit down and prop your feet up before you watch the video; it’ll make you swoon. autumnal and minimalistic and just gorgeous. i’m guessing you will like.

♥ i found this fringed bag at a thrift shop on the wheel of fortune adventure weekend. i’ve since taken off the dumb little silvery button thing, and it’s more my vibe now. been getting mixed reviews (ahem) about this purse, but still, i do quite like it, what do you think?

♥ these industrial design stamps i saw at the p.o. the other day are pretty!

 nutella hot chocolate. that is all.

♥ i met this cute girl and her dollywood beer koozy around a campfire last weekend. good stuff:

♥ more drool-worthy boots: someone sweet wrote me to tell me about these sculptural beauties, and these on ebay (adore!!). also, julie linked me to a seattle shoestore, where i came upon these. one last thing: i think i definitely need these rain boots, just as soon as my pockets are padded again. because, i’ll tell you, people, indian summer is yesterday’s news.

♥ have you met dear sugar yet? my suggestion is that you simply must. that lady writes things that will unzip your chest and pull your darling heart out, then put it back inside you, better than it was before. good grief. this particular column entitled “the obliterated place” is a good starting point.

so. there you have it! happy weekend, everyone!

x’s and o’s, emily


i was out on my front porch reading poetry when i noticed these spiders hatching. their little diaspora was quite a race; it happened fast. in comes new admiration for those papery, white, spider-baby houses. (there must be a slightly more technical term for these, yes? …but you know what i mean.) funny how they wait and wait so quietly to hatch themselves, then one day just come out running. i’m sure there’s a lesson in there.

loosely connected, maybe, kind of… this poem by galway kinnell. it’s one of my all-time favorites; i hope you’ll love it, too:

whatever happens. whatever
what is is is what
i want. only that. but that.
xo, emily

found while thrifting

this gentle-but-urgent reminder found a home inside my kitchen. in real life it is bigger and harder to make out the words, so it blends in with the background mostly, but feels a bit like a special secret each time i pay it some mind.

with secondhand items, i often wonder about the person who lived with the thing before me. it’s a fun exercise in imagination. i’m thinking whoever owned this print might have actually fully transcended the bullshit, or thought they did, which precipitated the addition of this gem to their donation pile. maybe they just got tired of a swearword in their kitchen every day, who knows.

i like it. i think i’ll let it stay awhile.

what are your tools or tricks, the ways you remind yourself to slow down and pay attention to what matters to you? feel free to take a moment to share, or just to think.


morning walk.

hello, you! and hello, monday… my, you got here fast! i had every intention of doing some writing over the weekend to share with you here, but, alas, that did not happen. so instead i’ll share some photos from this morning’s foggy walk with v.

(beauty berries in the front yard)

(i don’t think it’s funny when people lose their animals, but something about this made me giggle just a little bit. can you guess what it is?)

(v & her bff. this green-eyed lady is the reason we adopted a cat of our own! grateful.)

unrelated: nel received the package i sent her in australia! she took some beautiful photos and posted a sweet thank-you on her blog. and, she’s doing her own handmade-goodness giveaway right now! stop by and say hello; she’d love to see you there!