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.

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.