Welcome to Lydia McCauley's Garden of Simples Blog

The highest reward for a person's toil is not what they get from it, but what they become by it. - John Ruskin

Lydia McCauley and Kurt Scherer are owners of STONEHOUSE ARTIFACTS, offering Treasures from Colonial India. Online Here.

Our shop is located in Bellingham, Washington. We welcome you to come and visit our small estate, enjoy the grounds and share a cup of Chai.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Chinese Calligraphy, a study in softness

PAT PADDEN had a keen desire to learn Chinese Martial Arts at the age of thirteen. She told me "I begged my father to let me study, but the studio was in a bad part of town and Dad would not allow it... I got over it." In California as an adult in her thirties, Pat drove by two martial art studios every day on her way to work and she could not resist joining in. First she started with Chinese Kung Fu (and proceeded to earn a black belt in just about everything). She studied sword fighting, staff, and double stick fighting. Then she moved on to Tai Chi. It was there that she learned about the Chinese people, philosophy, medicine and message. "Both Kung Fu and Tai Chi are martial arts, the first being hard, the second being soft," says Pat.

Some years later Pat and her husband Bill moved to Bellingham. Pat found a good studio, Chinese Martial Arts, in Bellingham and continued her disciplines. She became mesmerized at the calligraphy hanging in the studio. She says she would stare at it for long periods of time, and get lost in it. She wanted to learn how to do it.

Cathy Pak, Master Calligrapher from Hong Kong, who lives in Vancouver, B.C. was giving a children's class (ages 6 - 9) in Bellingham. Pat signed up. She thought, "Why not study as a child? I want to start from the beginning anyway." She studied alongside the children for three months. (I love her for this!) About three years ago Cathy started an adult class which meets at the Chinese Church in Bellingham. Pat found that using a brush came easily for her. From the beginning Chinese looking cranes flew right out of the end of the brush. And bamboo! Bamboo was waiting to be drawn on her paper. Here Pat's voice gets low and she chants, "Must do bamboo...sometimes it's bad, sometimes it good, but must do bamboo before writing anything else!" Even Chinese people have taken note at the authentic way that Pat is able to write their characters. It seems to come naturally for her.

I asked Pat if doing Chinese calligraphy has changed her, and what benefit has it brought to her and those around her? In her own words, "It has become a meditation. It's calming and very relaxing. It affects my whole life. It affects the people around me because I am less stressed. It's bringing out the softness in me and I am much more open and more easily adaptable to things. Tai Chi and calligraphy is part of my life - for good."

Pat's work can be found in select Art Shows in Bellingham. And if one is lucky, may find her practicing Tai Chi somewhere. I am glad to call her friend. When we met together at Pat's favorite CAFE ADAGIO in downtown Bellingham the other day, the owner had decorated Pat's latte foam with a beautiful fern leaf design. That, and the fact that the definition for Adagio is a slow tempo seemed quite appropriate.

a·da·gio (-däj, -j-, -zh, -zh-)
1. Music A slow passage, movement, or work, especially one using adagio as the direction.
2. A section of a pas de deux in which the ballerina and her partner perform steps requiring lyricism and great skill in lifting, balancing, and turning.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Cadel Viva, Anghiari, Arezzo, Italy

Cadel Viva is a farm in Anghiari, Italy that is belongs to our friend Herbert Nagel. It was formerly part of a large estate owned by a Florentine marquis. Herbert has restored the old buildings and built some new ones that fit beautifully into the Tuscan countryside. We have visited him there on several occasions and always enjoy our time there. To find out more about Cadel Viva, visit the website: http://www.cadelviva.com/english/cadelviva.html

The top photo is of Kurt working on Herbert's farm. Upon a closer look you'll see Monkey Pete sitting upon the axe. Monkey Pete lives in Bellingham and is a world-wide traveller.

Herbert's front door has a way of letting in that Tuscan light that we love so much.

The third photo was taken at the English Cemetery in Florence. From left to right: Kurt, Assunta, Herbert, Lydia, and Sister Julia Bolton Holloway (a hermit of The Holy Family who lives in the gatehouse of the cemetery). More about Sister Julia soon...and the delightful Monkey Pete.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Candles in December

Having a fire or even a small flame is a comfort this time of year. December's long nights call for candles. Candles at 4:00 in the afternoon, candles on the dinner table. Candles for ritual.

The photo of three candles was taken in Bagan, Burma in one of the thousands of temples there. Just below is a river of flame that is lit each night at the Schwedegon Pagoda in Rangoon.

The candelabra on the table is at our friend Herbert's house in Anghiari, Italy. He owns a wonderful farm and accommodates guests. http://www.cadelviva.com/english/cadelviva.html

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Welcome Marionettes

An afternoon show with the Welcome Marionettes has become a summer tradition for my family and friends. The puppets are designed and made by Laura Carroll of Deming, Washington. Laura and Mike live in a stone cottage of which Laura built herself. It is set into the woods with magical paths going here and yon, leading to a creek and gardens. A delightful place indeed!

I asked Laura to write her thoughts about her occupation, when she began, what inspires her, and the benefits she receives from this work. We corresponded by mail - and it was very dear to receive this letter of hers. Here it is.


In response to your question my occupation was art teacher. I taught for a while and enjoyed it much. I quit to pursue sculpture, my media is wood. I got very tired of sanding. In and around this I helped my husband Mike with his gardening business. When I hit fifty I decided a change was in order. Marionettes were a natural choice, my parents had been puppeteers. For twenty years they built and performed The Scotts Marionettes. The show had been more of a myth than a reality for me, as it ended with my Father's death when I was twelve. The puppets were destroyed by fire some years later. Now all that remains of their show are photos. I felt a new beginning was in order. At present, building and performing marionettes is my primary occupation. It has turned out to be a delightful one.

The marionettes and their operation take every thing I have ever learned and more. They are sculpture and engineering, they are theater, music and painting. They are all the doll clothes I ever made for my daughters. They are scriptwriting and production, promotion, and business. And as a dividend we get to perform. After months of practice alone in the studio, what a delight to hear the audience response. On top of that we get paid. How good can it get?

I have been very fortunate to have the help of my husband Michael and my neighbor Betty Ann Abeid. Mike is a musician with a special flare for children's music, and as it turns out a fine gift for marionettes. Betty Ann, already an accomplished seamstress has discovered a talent for singing and acting. The marionettes have taught us all a great deal about ourselves. The three of us have been performing together for the past seven years. We have built over sixty puppets and the larcy classical stage we work from. We are now in the midst of fittiing out a trailer from which we can perform for outdoor events. And of course, another show.

You ask what inspires me to create. I hate to sound flipped. I have given your question due thought. All I can truly say is that it is the same thing that inspires me to breathe.

Thank you for your interest.
As always yours,
Laura Scott Carroll
Welcome Marionettes
PO Box 292
Deming, WA 98244
Tel. (360) 220-3144


Welcome Marionettes have produced several shows which include:

TEDDY BEAR and THE KING'S BREAKFAST - from A.A. Milne's set of poems - When We Were Very Young, and Now We Are Six


PETER AND THE WOLF, complete with music by Sergei Prokofiev

A MUSICAL MEDLEY of all sorts of fun!

Here are some of the venues where they have performed:

Everett Public Library
Bellingham Public Library
Mt. Vernon Public Library
Bellingham Public Schools
Lummi Island School
Ballard Seafood Festival
Stillaguamish River Festival
Magnolia Family Festival, Seattle

For more information please visit their blog at http://welcomemarionettes.blogspot.com
Contact Laura Carroll or Betty Ann Abeid
Tel. (360) 592-2203
That's Betty Ann's grandson Theo in the photo above!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Thoughts on Peace

"Peace cannot be obtained by force. It can only be achieved by understanding." -Albert Einstein

"Whoever relies on the Tao in governing men
doesn't try to force issues
or defeat enemies by force of arms.
For every force there is a counterforce.
Violence, even well intentioned,
always rebounds upon oneself."

Tao Te Ching
Trans. Stephen Mitchell

"...every great artist is a man who has freed himself from his family, his nation, his race. Every man who has shown the world the way to beauty, to true culture, has been a rebel, a "universal" without patriotism, without home, who has found his people everywhere." Chaim Potok, The Art Spirit, from MY NAME IS ASHER LEV

The photo above is of Kurt, and our daughter Hannah who was visiting this summer from San Francisco. We got the hanging brass gong in Burma. They are used by the monks in their morning waking bowl ceremony. The flags in our garden were given to us by a Tibetan friend in India. Here is his house in Bela Kuppa, India.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

A Thoughtful Radio Program

Thank you to Jerry Nelms for his kind permission to post a portion of the notes from last week's radio broadcast.

Beyond The Lakes Playlist for November 9, 2008

Music from Beyond the Lakes
Produced by Jerry Nelms and Namdar Mogharreban Sundays, 8-10 pm Central Time, USA WDBX, 91.1 FM, Carbondale, Illinois (www.wdbx.org) Streamed LIVE at wdbx.scientistsuperstar.com Listen by going to www.wdbx.org and click on "Listen"

This program featured music by Soulfood with Peter Schimke; Johan Agebjörn; Deuter; Gregory Kyryluk; Lydia McCauley; Jane Sibbery; Davol; Jeff Pearce; John Gregorius; William Ackerman; Michael Logozar; and Dan Kennedy.

November 9, 2008

“The Lessons of Honor and Dignity” (produced by Jerry Nelms)

Time: the morning after the 2008 election.

It’s almost like a dream—that Barrack Obama won the election. People were cheering in the streets, crying with joy, in spontaneous celebrations all over the country, all over the world, for that matter. It was a landslide victory, and Obama gave a wonderful speech in Grant Park in Chicago last night. And I am so delighted that my late-night anxieties the other night, my distrust in the American electorate turned out wrong. And I think, maybe, I was wrong about John McCain, too.

McCain gave a gracious concession speech in Arizona. Indeed, McCain’s speech marked for me his return to genuine honor. He said: I've always believed that America offers opportunities to all who have the industry and will to seize it. Senator Obama believes that, too. But we both recognize that, though we have come a long way from the old injustices that once stained our nation's reputation and denied some Americans the full blessings of American citizenship, the memory of them still had the power to wound.

A century ago, President Theodore Roosevelt's invitation of Booker T. Washington to dine at the White House was taken as an outrage in many quarters. America today is a world away from the cruel and frightful bigotry of that time. There is no better evidence of this than the election of an African-American to the presidency of the United States. Let there be no reason now for any American to fail to cherish their citizenship in this, the greatest nation on Earth.

Senator Obama and I have had and argued our differences, and he has prevailed. No doubt many of those differences remain. These are difficult times for our country. And I pledge to him tonight to do all in my power to help him lead us through the many challenges we face.

I urge all Americans who supported me to join me in not just congratulating him, but offering our next president our goodwill and earnest effort to find ways to come together to find the necessary compromises to bridge our differences and help restore our prosperity, defend our security in a dangerous world, and leave our children and grandchildren a stronger, better country than we inherited.

That concession speech, to me, may have been the most meaningful thing said last night. As novelist Hermann Hesse once wrote, “It is not our purpose to become each other; it is to recognize each other, to learn to see [others] and honor [them] for what [they are].” The lessons of honor and dignity continue to be taught—and sometimes, they spring from unlikely sources.

And so, this evening, let’s consider these important human values through a program of acoustic and electronic music entitled “The Lessons of Honor and Dignity.” We begin with this airy, contemplative music by Soulfood in collaboration with pianist Peter Schimke, from Serenity. We’ll continue with a confident piano and keyboard composition by Swedish librarian and electronic music artist Johan Agebjörn from Mossebo; dream-like piano and keyboard textures from native German multi-instrumentalist Deuter’s Atmospherics; and a lovely, lightly bittersweet melody by Gregory Kyryluk from Ephemeral Highways. In our second half-hour, we’ll hear two solemn tracks from Washington state pianist Lydia McCauley’s Quieting, also featuring Jami Sieber on cello; a short poem by singer-songwriter Jane Siberry, set to music by Morgan Fisher, from Siberry’s retrospective collection City; shimmering, gently flowing atmospherics by Johan Agebjörn, again from Mossebo; a richly textured radio mix of a new composition for a video project entitled Truth by Colorado electronic music artist Davol; and finally, shadowy ambience by Indiana Chapman Stick player and sound artist Jeff Pearce from Rainshadow Sky.

We’re contemplating “The Lessons of Honor and Dignity” on our program tonight, ongoing lessons in our own initiations, lessons that can come from unlikely sources and take us to the higher realms of our human nature and give us a glimpse Beyond the Lakes.


Soulfood – Serenity – Soulfood Music – 2002
“Harvest Moon”

Johan Agebjörn – Mossebo – Lotuspike – 2008

Deuter – Atmospherics – New Earth Records – 2008

Gregory Kyryluk – Ephemeral Highways – Harmonic Resonance Recordings – 2005
“Tomorrows Journeys”


Lydia McCauley – Quieting – Brimstone Music – 2008

Jane Siberry – City – Sheeba Records – 2001
“Narrow Bridge/Millennium”

Davol – Truth – GIRA Sound – 2008
“Truth (radio mix)”

Jeff Pearce – Rainshadow Sky – Jeff Pearce Music – 2008
“Harvest Storms”

We’re contemplating the importance of honor and dignity on our program tonight, those sometimes seemingly antiquated names for beliefs and behaviors that speak to our higher human aspirations and values and how lessons of honor and dignity can sometimes come from unlikely sources.

We begin our second hour of these considerations with four sparkling compositions from the debut album of John Gregorius, Heaven and Earth.

Later, venerable guitarist, producer, and co-founder of Windham Hill Records, William Ackerman, will perform new recordings of two of his classic compositions, both from his new CD collection, Meditations. Deuter returns to begin our final half-hour with another coolly ethereal track from Atmospherics. We’ll also hear two delicate, bittersweet compositions by Canadian-born pianist Michael Logozar from Coming into View; and two lovely melodies by Amherst, Massachusetts, pianist Dan Kennedy from Lantern.

“The Lessons of Honor and Dignity,” tonight on Music from Beyond the Lakes.


John Gregorius – Heaven and Earth – 03e/Spotted Peccary – 2008
“Secret to Light”
“Heaven & Earth”
“Sackcloth to Ashes”

William Ackerman – Meditations – Compass Records – 2008
“Hawk Circle”


Deuter – Atmospherics – New Earth Records – 2008

Michael Logozar – Coming into View – Michael Logozar – 2007

Dan Kennedy – Lantern – Dan Kennedy – 2007

Profile of Beyond the Lakes:

Music from Beyond the Lakes was first aired on Easter Sunday evening, 1996.

Jerry Nelms began as the show's sole producer and host. Namdar Mogharreban joined as co-host that summer and began producing his first programs in the fall. Beyond the Lakes airs eclectic new age and contemplative world music, both ambient and rhythmic; electronic and acoustic; instrumental and vocal. Beyond the Lakes is thematically programmed each week. Jerry's understanding of "new age" music: it provides a space for the imagination, and, so, can take many different forms but always functions in that way of allowing the listener space for the play of the imagination.

Contact Jerry at gnelms@verizon.net.

Send all promotional materials to the following:

Jerry Nelms
Beyond the Lakes
114 Magnolia Lane
Carbondale, Illinois 62903

Thanks to all musical artists for enriching our world!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Rehearsal at Meadow House

My sister Mary and her partner Charlia came to visit us this summer. The band (Lynne, Phil, and Frank) came over for a rehearsal and Mary caught it on her digital camera. It was lovely to have them here.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Beautiful Beautiful Change

We are celebrating this new change today, and are so very grateful for the election's outcome. Congratulations to the whole world. Congratulations to Barack Obama. May Peace Prevail on Earth.

The Master doesn't talk, he acts.
When his work is done,
the people say, "Amazing:
we did it, all by ourselves!"

Tao Te Ching
Trans. Stephen Mitchell

Monday, November 3, 2008

Trust the People

If you don't trust the people,
you make them untrustworthy.

Tao Te Ching
Trans. Stephen Mitchell

The practice of putting others in the center is not simply a crusade to do "good." It is a practice based on the understanding that our own happiness is inextricably linked with the happiness of others.

Dzigar Kongtruil, Light Comes Through

Christ is the population of the world,
and every object as well. There is no room
for hypocrisy. Why use bitter soup for healing
when sweet water is everywhere?

Trans. Coleman Barks

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Voluntary Simplicity

"Voluntary simplicity involves both inner and outer conditions. It means singleness of purpose, sincerity and honesty within, as well as avoidance of exterior clutter, of many possessions irrelevant to the chief purpose of life. It means an ordering and guiding of our energy and our desires, a partial restraint in some directions in order to secure greater abundance of life in other directions. It involves a deliberate organization of life for a purpose."
-Richard Gregg, 1936

Friday, October 31, 2008

Quieting/Jan Willing/Heart Home

I've been thinking about people that I've met that surround themselves with quiet. What changes does it make in their lives? And what sort of change does quieting bring to the world?

Jan Willing lives at Heart Home. Whenever I have dropped in to say hello, Jan has been baking bread, making rosehip jelly from her garden, pressing cider, or illustrating a new book. She makes felted dolls and writes stories about them. Grace and Earl are in the photo above. She also carves stone into beautiful sculptures. The list goes on.

I recently asked her how being quiet influences her life and work. What is her occupation? Where does her inspiration come from?

Here is her answer:

My occupation is to attempt to live, every day, with moments of peace. I am in the enviable position of not heeding an alarm clock or a commute or a boss, so my days are mostly my own. Often it does not feel that way because of pulls of all the tasks around here, but then I calm myself down and realize what I don't do today, can most likely be done tomorrow. Or if not tomorrow, maybe it doesn't need to be done.

I have always felt that if I were a church, I would have a very small congregation. I do not advertise or market my artistic endeavors because I find it revealing and awkward and boring. I can't claim "ownership" of my various creations because of how I work. I seem to pull images and words out of the air, in an odd sort of collaboration.

When I have an "epiphany", as today, I experience joy. Most of my work in whatever medium, is intuitive. I follow the opening image or line that appears in my head, and watch as it develops.

Right now, today, I wrote this poem that responds to the idea of Quieting so much, I had to write it down. Then I thought to myself, Gee, I wish I could sing or make a tune. This sounds like a song in my head.


I used to watch the lovely fall trees
And all their colorful leaves
They would fly like the birds
They would scatter and search
For new places to learn
To see faraway lands-
But me, I’m going to stay where I land.

I’m going to drop where I fall
I’m going to nourish this earth
I’m not flying away
Because here is where
I want to stay.

This place, this place above everywhere else
Is where I want to be
I am just like that tree
On a windless fall day
When my leaves go their way,
I want to drop where I fall.

So wind-
Don’t fly me away
Please be calm, let me stay
Because here is where
I want to be.

- by Jan Willing 10/26/08
Epiphany while gazing at Weeping Catsura at 4402 Y Road, Heart Home, whose leaves fell straight down to the edges of the drip line, peacefully and quietly.

Jan's email: jan.willing@gmail.com

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Welcome to Meadow House

Meadow House is where we live. It's an open piece of land that has been a meadow for a long time, oh let's say maybe one hundred years. In the spring time there are myriads of lupin that bloom. In the fall the grasses lose their green and fade to a lovely blond.

It's here that I have learned a little more about Gardening and Soapmaking and Wild Geese that land on the rooftop of Kurt's shop. It's here that I have come to appreciate some quieter pursuits.

I wanted to see how brussel sprouts grew so I planted some in late spring. They are still growing out there in our little garden like baby cabbages on a stock. I've put quite a few bags of them in the freezer. Some people really like their taste. Here's a recipe that we enjoy this time of year.


Sweet onion (Walla Wallas are wonderful)
Brussel sprouts
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Dark brown sugar (My favorite is BILLINGTON'S Dark Brown Molasses Sugar, which I get at The Community Food Co-op)
Vegetarian sausages (in Bellingham I can only find these at Haggen Foods)
Blue Cheese (The Community Food Co-op in Bellingham carries some wonderful varieties of blue cheese)

Wash and trim some brussel sprouts.
Slice up some sweet onions, say 1/2 a large onion.
Saute the onions with a bit of good quality extra virgin olive oil.
When the onions are soft, add about a tablespoon of the darkest brown sugar that you can find.
Carmelize the onions and add the brussel sprouts to the mix. You can halve the cute little cabbages if you like, up to you.
Cook them a while until they get really green and begin to soften.

Phase two:
Now, here's what we love: BOCA Italian Sausages, which are vegetarian. If yours are frozen, defrost them by putting them in a pan, adding some water, and cooking them on medium heat until the liquid disappears. Now add some olive oil in the pan
and let them brown. Slice them up into 1/2" rounds and let the pieces brown. Try not to eat them all before you continue to the next phase.

Phase three:
Add the sausages to the brussel sprout mix.
Now, add some good quality blue cheese and let it melt as you stir.
Add a little stout beer to the mix if it needs some moistening.

This is an autumn tasting meal that helps us celebrate the intensive beauty of this season.
Serve with rye bread and enjoy some red wine, or dark beer such as Lagunitas Cappucino Stout.
Now all you might desire is a little music to enjoy your meal by.