Autumn Adventuress!

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Isn’t it amazing?

Summer entrenched so thoroughly you think there will never be any relief…broiling day after sweltering night…and then, a little ripple of cool in the mornings, doors and windows open at night, the light coming from a golden place of softness and glow rather than harshness and flame.

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I love Autumn…perhaps because I love transformation. It is a season of great promise for me. A season I can actually plan to spend more time outdoors…in the garden, on a petroglyph hike, or with my beloved sister Kim

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at a week-long watercolor art journaling class in Yosemite with a fabulous teacher–Janet Takahashi, sponsored by the Yosemite Conservancy.

“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul alike.” John Muir 

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Kim and I hatched a glorious plan to return to Yosemite this fall when I visited her back in May. We fed it with all our hopes and dreams through the long hot summer. I clung desperately to its promise of cool water and lush green through a particularly harsh Tucson summer. I NEEDED this trip with my whole soul. But that was before my Love’s cancer diagnosis. That was before my world was up-ended. That was before everything changed.

As you know, my sweetheart is ill. Very ill. And the prognosis is not good.  I didn’t think I could leave home for this grand adventure with all the worry and concern for his care. But he insisted I go and so many others (including YOU) stepped in to help make it happen.

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But it was my sister Kim. Joy-filled. Authentic. Creative. Determined. Kim.

She made it happen.

With constant encouragement and love. She made the whole trip possible. In every way. Every detail.

She cheered me and boosted me and gave me time to curl up at her little cabin (Cabin Fever) for a couple of days before we left so I could get my mojo back.

She pre-prepared all the meals. Gifted me with comfy, sturdy new shoes and a brand-new, cozy, warm, double-sized sleeping bag.

She drove us up the winding roads to Yosemite to our little tent camp where she created a camp kitchen for us, set out chairs by the fire pit, and strung twinkle lights all around! 

“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.” John Muir

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“Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean. ” John Muir

We walked sun-dappled paths.

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We watched the full moon rise over Half-Dome.

We saw an incredible performance by a fellow who has dedicated decades to sharing stories of John Muir.

We had wonderful campfires and long talks. There were bears and deer and excited, awe-struck travelers from around the world.

“There is a love of wild nature in everybody, an ancient mother-love ever showing itself whether recognized or no, and however covered by cares and duties.” John Muir 

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There was a glistening river and gorgeous leaves.

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There was a behind the scenes tour of the amazing Ahwahnee Hotel yosemite 3

about all the artists who contributed to its majesty, including the detailed talent of U.C. Berkeley graduate Jeannette Dyer Spencer who, in the 1920’s, created the striking basket patterns mural above the grand fireplace and the equally colorful stencil patterns found on the walls and ceilings.

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Our teacher, Janet Takahashi,

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is a wonderfully talented, funny, kind, joy-spilling woman who taught us so much about taking time to “see” and making room for little moments of sketching the world around us with no self-critic judging us or self-defeating “I can’t draw” talk in our heads.

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We loved all of our cohorts and creative side-kicks…and made many new friends.

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I had a soul-shifting, heart-lifting, spirit- stirring, magical time! I let my beautiful sister take care of me. I rested and journaled and laughed and drank in the lushness, the water, the colors, and the peace. For a few days, I allowed myself to just live

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I got things in my life a bit more “right-sized.”

Yes, Honey is very ill and we have a hard and difficult path ahead. Yes, I’m old & rickety & fading fast myself. Yes, there are lots of sad things happening in my life–including worry about my 90 year old Mom who fell and broke her hip & wrist while I was away. Yes, I returned to learn of the mass shootings in Las Vegas and the continuing idiocy, arrogance, and lack of compassion of our President. Yes, I escaped just as the apocalyptic wildfires in California were devouring the homes of friends and extended family. 

But I returned with a second wind. Scented with cedar and spruce, senses brimming with remembrance of joy and the spectacular play of light through changing leaves.

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I am changed like the leaves.

A little less exhausted. A little more optimistic.

But I’m a little slow getting back in the groove–reluctant to leave my dear Albert as he struggles with new challenges and the very real fear he may have to undergo a scary surgery in the next few days.

But I’m back…to take up the difficult tasks ahead with a little rest under my belt and a heart-full of sister love to tide me over.

So grateful.

So grateful.

So grateful.

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More soon…thanks so much for holding my place in your hearts! New classes and many new adventures to share with you coming soon! Please remember to fill you heart with gladness and seek out joy every danged chance you get. Remember that I am sending you so much love! 

Thank you Kim!

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Thank you Janet!

Janet Takahashi

Thank you Anne, Judy, Marnie, Audrey, & the whole beautiful Tribe for taking care of the Creative Cottage while I rested a bit! 

So much love and gratitude to share with you forever,

Adventuress Kait is back!

P. S. Check out Janet’s beautiful book–available on Amazon!

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© Copyright, Kaitlin Meadows, 2017. All rights Reserved.

 

 

 

 

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SISTER LOVE!

What a wonderful, amazing adventure!

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I spent a whole week with my beautiful sister Kim in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California.

(Made all the sweeter for the nearly 25 years we lost track of one another!)

This sweet Lisi Martin painting always reminds me of Kim and I…

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Each time I see her it’s as if a new part of my heart opens and blossoms. We leap into each other’s presence (no matter the time apart!) as if we’d just had tea together yesterday. We finish each other’s sentences. We find we like (and dislike) so many of the same (random) things. We nearly laugh ourselves into fits and almost jabber ourselves hoarse.

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We had sooooo much fun this last week together; excitedly sharing news of our lives, comparing our fondest dreams, conjuring collaborative projects, giggling like kids, & always up to some sort of mischief or other.

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It was such a pleasure to join my sister for her Spirit Doll class…

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at the beautiful Intermountain Nursery! It’s a gorgeous nursery, operated by very dear people who have dedicated their lives to plant ecology and restoration projects.

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The class was a pure delight!

The participants were lively and full of creative spark (like my beloved Cottage tribe!)

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Here is Kim’s Crow Woman…

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and my Sierra Autumn Crone

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Everyone adores my sister (ALMOST as much as I do!)

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and she is the most encouraging of teachers.

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We spent another whole day roaming the gorgeous green, spring Sierras, dabbling in the roaring creeks, picnicking and napping, exploring and rejoicing!

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We even discovered a rare Harlequin Lupine…067

And on my last day, Kim treated me to the most amazing surprise! A full day in my beloved Yosemite…

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at the very height of spring!

We took a watercolor class through the Yosemite Conservancy from the delightful Sonja Hamilton who taught us so much

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as we sat around her on the path to the majestic gush of Yosemite Falls.

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We had such an amazing day that we decided to gift each other a week long nature sketchbook journaling class in October at Yosemite with Janet Takahashi. We’re going to stay in the historic tent camps! We’re both incredibly excited!

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The water! The green! The cool! The trees! The flowers!

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I will hold all those memories so dear as we enter our scorching Sonoran summer.

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I feel Kim and I are two magical fairy sisters (like these delightful felted ones from chopoli) who have so much joy and love to share!

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It is my great good fortune to have darling Albert to hold-down-the-fort, keep the critters and the gardens afloat, and send me off with such a happy heart to be with my sister. I am so lucky that the Creative Cottage tribe sent me off with such love. I was so blessed that Kim’s husband Bro was such a wonderful naturalist guide and bemused encourager of all of our crazy fun.

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It was such a beautiful time shared and it will long live in my heart as one the most glorious weeks of my life!

Thanks to Kim & Bro, to dearest Albert, and to all my amazing friends who sent me on my way with such a heart full of love to share!

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Happy Summer & Happy Birthday Dear Sister Kim!

P. S. Please check out my June class schedule by clicking on the Cottage Classes tab and have a gander at our new Art Gifters Anonymous, Random Acts of Art, project by clicking on the Art Gifters tab.

Thanks to Pinterest for images mixed with many of my own photos.

Let love guide and keep you,

Kaitlin

Mistress of Much Merriment

© Copyright, Kaitlin Meadows. All Rights Reserved, 2017.

 

 

HOLY MINERVA!

smile again

 

Oh My!

Holy Minerva!

You gotta laugh!

It’s just such a lively circus, this life!

I’ve been on an adventure of the exhausting, challenging, difficult sort…

caring for my dear friend Allan in San Diego as he recovers from major surgery…

with so many unexpected blessings along the way.

Such a humbling experience.

How vulnerable we are.

How quickly our independence is lost.

How fragile life itself is!

How important joy and friendship and merriment are.

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I had to leave Tucson rather suddenly…

with a very full plate

and an over-booked day-planner.

Full classes at the Cottage,

long anticipated workshops scheduled,

meetings, appointments,

& the usual busy muddle.

So many responsibilities

at home, with the Girlz, and  in my life.

But being at my friend’s bedside

was where I had to be!

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My stay in San Diego was extended

as a result of Allan’s health setbacks…

but my loving circle jumped in:

Albert took on all the watering and critter tasks at home. (He’s such a thoughtful steward of our little nest!)

Anne fueled the merriment at the Fractured Saints class…

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Nancy G created a magical Soul Sisters circle!

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Nancy S gifted the Girlz with such a glory of gifts–clothes & books & hand knitted caps!

Sister Kim has a whole new batch of baby goats

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and is creating a new art space in North Fork, California.

Karen Z is planning an adventure with her daughter Emily this summer in Iceland.

Mabel is tenderly caring for her Beloved Ed with all of our prayers & good tidings.

Beautiful niece Michelle is graduating from college and marrying in the fall.

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Cissie is rebuilding her life.

Jayne & Dolores are struggling with some health issues.

Ann is mending a broken heart.

Marnie is taking some time to be with her Mom in California after her Mom’s stroke…

we are sending our love with her.

All of us seem to be going through “stuff & bother” as my friend Claire says.

But through it all, our magical tribe always pulls together!

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So I’m happily back home…

(but I may have to dash off a gain

when Allan get’s released from the acute care facility)

and I’m regrouping

and refining

and plotting ideas for keeping The Cottage afloat in the coming torrid summer

when I’ll need to crawl into my sweet, dark, cool cave for the duration.

P. S.

My Beloved wanted us to have matching talismans

to carry with us while we were apart…

with our passion for archaeology we “unearthed” this:

Found last year in Denmark, Minerva’s Owl is about 2000 years old, a Roman Empire artifact.

The owl signifies wisdom and knowledge.

Minerva Danish Owl

After a careful scan of Etsy ( I LOVE Etsy!)

Albert found Lynn, aka Dragonzwench,

https://www.etsy.com/search?q=DragonzWench

https://www.etsy.com/shop/DragonzWenchEmporium?ref=search_shop_redirect

in Coffs Harbour, Australia.

She said she could create a replica for us.

Lynn did a remarkable job recreating the owl and, in our exchanges,

we feel we have found a new friend.

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I swear, there was some powerful mojo attached

cuz I managed to get through a very rough week

with the distinct feeling I’d been called on a spiritual odyssey–

full of unexpected moments of pure light

where my soul grew, even as my heart ached.

Through all of this,

I’ve had the great pleasure of deepening my love for Allan’s amazing family,

been blessed by the love & caring of the Cottage tribe,

and been reminded very vividly to heed my good advice:

slow down.

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breathe.

drink in the joy.

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learn to let go and let be.

And, though it was a great adventure and I learned much,

I am so happy to be home!

I’m borrowing the gifts of Minerva to help me as I return to my life…

In Roman mythology, Minerva was the god­dess of wisdom.

In case of attack she was a war­like goddess,

but she had no desire for foreign conquest,

no sympathy with war, violence, and bloodshed.

She presided over agriculture and household arts—spinning, weaving, and embroidery.

She gave mortals the olive and taught them how to cultivate it.

Minerva was the Roman goddess of wisdom, medicine, handicrafts,

poetry, and the arts in general. She is symbolized by an owl.

becoming (This beautiful image is from http://www.jessicasporn.blogspot.com)

Minerva’s Archetypes

The Teacher/ Inventor:

The Teacher and Inventor communicates knowledge, experience and wisdom.

The Warrior:

Archetype represents physical strength, and the ability to protect and fight for your rights and those of others.

Minerva is one cool lady!

Holy Minerva!

Watch for new classes,

some fun adventures for us to share,

and more opportunities for creative merriment.

Meanwhile,

I send you my gratitude and love.

Kaitlin

Mistress of Merriment

© Copyright, Kaitlin Meadows, 2016. All Rights Reserved.

MY SISTER ROCKS!!!!!

Kim 2As many of you know, I have the coolest sister on the planet!!!

I had so much fun re-uniting with her this summer and I’m soooo incredibly thrilled about her life and work…

she is the hardest working person I know–with the biggest heart and the most amazing spirit!

Please read all about her in this fabulous article just published in http://www.fibershed.com

Congratulations Kim (and husband Brother Boy) on all the hard work and dedication it takes to live your dream!

You inspire me every day, in a thousand ways, and I love you with all my heart!

 

Downhome Fibers: A River of Creativity, Care & Quality

By On August 25, 2014 · Add Comment

Story by Rebecca Burgess, photos by Alycia Lang

Clear decision making accompanied by determination and hard work has landed Kim Bethel into a life extraordinarily well suited to her. While in her presence you can observe and viscerally feel the satisfaction and contentedness that emanates from someone living a life rooted in place and grounded in earth-based wisdom. Bethel tends a beautiful purebred herd of angora goats, a prolific food and dye garden, and a fiber mill business—all set on a remote 20-acre land base situated on the edge of the upper San Joaquin River.  A little after leaving a remote paved road outside of North Fork, California–we travelled another mile down a rock and oak studded dirt road to find the Bethel’s quiet homestead.

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“I became more deeply connected to the earth and natural processes at age 14 when my parents took me out of the city and dropped me off at the Finegold Ranch Boarding School… after getting situated there, I realized I’d found heaven.” It was the 1960s when Bethel’s parents decided to send her to Finegold.  The school was not your typical boarding school for the time–the school’s founder, Susie Hickman, started the institute as a place where her own long-haired children would have an educational space that wouldn’t condemn them for not conforming to ‘crew cut’ norms of the day.  The school was a haven for students looking for an integrated educational experience. In addition to a full suite of academic classes, Bethel was given the freedom to explore and learn wheel thrown pottery, hand-spinning, gardening, caring for goats, and natural dyeing.

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Bethel’s early relocation to the foothills of the Sierra Nevada cultivated a land-based imprint of ‘home’ that led her to remain and dedicate herself to this beautiful part of the world. “I love this community, and because I’ve spent little time elsewhere I guess I don’t question if the grass is greener somewhere else, I just dig in where I am and nurture what I have.”  Immediately after Finegold, Bethel became a teacher’s aide at the local Spring Valley School—at the time it was a four-room kindergarten through 8th grade facility. Time went on, Kim married and had three children. She began teaching first and second grade and worked hard to support her three children, when she later became a single parent. This was an era of life that Kim reflected on from time to time during our visit: “I got scared as a single mother, thinking I had to provide all this “stuff” for my kids, which caused me to think I should have a regular job. When in reality the kids and I would have been so much healthier, and happier if I could have been home to garden, cook and care for them. It is amazing how little money you need when you stay home and make do…”

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Kim made the leap to work from home and tend the land where she and her second husband now live, just six years ago.  “I’d always cared for goats and gardens, even during the most difficult times of my life—but now, unlike before, I am able to put all my imagination and energy right into my work of the garden, goats, and the mill.”

Kim described the long-term manifestation process she experienced on the way to living the way she does now. “I’d see this ranch from across the little river beach that my children and I used to swim at… and I’d say…one day I’m going to live on land like that.’” Thirty years later, Bethel and her husband Brother now call this land home. It was no small feat that they ended up there—the land had other interested buyers at the time it went on the market, but Bethel made it known to all, including the land-owner at the time, that she was going to take care of it and nurture it like no one else could. Once they were assured ownership and moved in, the state threatened to flood the region for another damn project. Bethel’s response to the proposed development: “We would just buy a houseboat—we weren’t moving anywhere.” The appropriateness of Kim and Brother being on this ranch is layered. This part of the river was, for thousands of years, Brother’s family’s traditional salmon run gathering and acorn processing spot. From the living room of the ranch house Brother waved his hand in the direction of the water, “In my grandmother’s time the land was dotted with tepees when the salmon where moving upstream.” The people’s acorn grinding rocks remain, now submerged under the river’s dammed waters. The salmon are completely gone. However, the acorn harvest does remain—the evening we arrived we were blessed to share a supper of traditionally processed acorn, ranch-raised and harvested braised rabbit, garden harvested heirloom tomato salad, and lightly herbed homemade goat cheese.

Brother in the entrance to the ranch mudroom; Brother’s mother with the acorn harvest, soap root brush used for cleaning

Brother is one of thirteen children—and was named for being the first son born after a series of daughters. He is a member of the Mono Tribe and works actively in tribal affairs. The Mono ways are alive in the Bethel home—the food, stories, tools, and knowledge remain as pure expressions of the surrounding ecosystem—mirrors of ‘right relationship’ that seep into your experience while at the ranch…. leaving lasting and significant imprints that illuminate the real possibilities for human interactions to function symbiotically with natural living systems.

Kim holds an acorn stirring spoon now appropriated for her dye work

Kim’s work to incorporate fiber and dye into this respectful and responsible land ethic is emphasized by her use of 100% natural dyes grown entirely in her own fertile garden. She raises: black-eyed Susan, two coreopsis varietals, zinnias, dahlias, comfrey, woad, yarrow, hollyhock, tansy, gilardia, goldenrod, yellow cosmos, marigold, mint, chamomile, and purple basil for color. All of her plant dyes are used on angora fiber direct from her own herd. Brother shears the goats twice a year and the fiber is carefully washed in Bethel’s on-site ‘Downhome Fiber Mill,’ that channels all gray water into the garden. The system is heated through solar-thermal—Bethel runs the mill system with an eye for detail and efficiency on every level. “I process all of my herd’s fiber and have a growing number of clients and would like to expand this fiber processing business to more people.” Bethel takes careful documentation of every animal’s fiber weight and keeps records of changes in the fleeces over the years. She keeps each animal’s fiber separate—so you can literally receive processed fiber and remain knowledgeable as to exactly which animal it came from. If you have mohair, alpaca, or fine sheep’s wool we highly recommend the Downhome Fiber Mill for your processing needs—the quality of her roving is unparalleled.

Kim in the mill, mill entrance, mill equipment

From the point of milling her roving—Bethel then hand-spins all of her fiber into soft and sheen rich yarns (a total treasure if you are a knitter, weaver, or even jewelry maker). Her yarns, roving, and other goods can be found in her online store. If you would like to meet Kim and Brother Bethel in person we highly recommend coming to this year’s Fibershed Wool & Fine Fiber Symposium on November 15th, where she will be sharing her remarkable life’s work in our Fibershed Marketplace.

If you have interest in experiencing ‘Rancho Seldom Seen,’ in person—the opportunity will be arising on September 14th. Kim will be giving a tour of the ranch and mill as part of the launch of her fiber CSA.

Some of Kim's naturally dyed hand spun yarn, the sign for the Kim and Brother's ranch, one of their angora goats

I’d like to thank Alycia Lang for making the long drive to the Bethel’s with me, and for documenting their life’s work through her lovely photographs. And a huge thank you to Kim and Brother for their extraordinary (and that is an understatement) hospitality… The kayak trip was incredible…it was an honor to share a day in the life with you all.

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Sisterhood is Powerful!

unlock dreams“A sister is a gift to the heart, a friend to the spirit, a golden thread to the meaning of life.” Isadora James

It’s a miracle! One of the greatest moments in my recent life! Something I have hoped for, dreamed of, spent years praying to all the angels and goddesses aboutI reunited with my little sister!!!  I flew to Central California, rented a car, and drove up to the beautiful  pine and oak mountains south of Yosemite…I traveled down a long, dusty road, and over a very rickety bridge (I imagined trolls lived under it!) and into the yard of the beautiful Seldom Seen Ranch where my sister and her husband greeted me with such love and hospitality! Kim & Bro 2

We had the most amazing time together–it was as though we had seen each other just last week (instead of thirty years ago!) We talked for hours and hours (and HOURS!), laughed like crazy people, managed to do a few chores, and  go to the San JoaquinRiver to swim and picnic with her family of amazing children, their wonderful spouses, and all the fabulous grandkids. It was utterly amazing!!!! I had such fun…

Here is her cozy cottage…Kim's cottageShe has amazing gardensKim's pumpKim's lavenderKim's garden squashKim's hollyhocksAnd, like me, Kim loves fairies and has them scattered around everywhere to remind her that magic abounds and miracles can happen! (A miracle DID happen–we found each other after 30 years apart!)Kim's fairy shelf

Kim's Fairy pondMy sister had a HUGE DREAM–she wanted to have her own fiber business…Down Home Handspun Fibers. It took everything she had to make it come true–to find the land where she could garden and raise her goats, to buy  a professional fiber mill, to commit the necessary energy every single day to feed and water the critters, garden like crazy, and start her own business (I KNOW how hard that can be!)  My sister raises chickens, rabbits, horses, and very special angora goats that she shears. After she gathers the shearings, she has to get all the stickers out, Kim's wool wash it (sometimes several times!) in this old washer without the beater (so the wool won’t “felt”)…Kim's wool washer

And then begins the REALLY hard work of taking the fiber to her home mill–these machines are huge, costly, professional “tools” and my sister has had to sacrifice much in her life to have them.Kim' fiber mill 2Kim's fiber millHere the fibers are torn apart and blown into a huge “poof” (that’s NOT the professional word!)…it takes hours and hours and is hot, messy, isolating work–Kim calls it the “slave” work!

And THEN my sister begins the arduous process of dying the fibers with all her organically grown flowers and herbs…Kim's flower dyesin her dye shedKim's Dye shedand FINALLY she hand spins it! It’s absolutely beautiful…but OMG what a process of pure love! Go check out her website to see more about it and to buy some fibers from her! http://downhomehandspunfibers.com

She and her mate work so hard everyday to keep their dream afloat and it’s soooo inspiring! Making a dream come true is work of pure love and utter devotion…and my sister Kim embodies that!

“Is solace anywhere more comforting than in the arms of your sister?” Alice Walker Kim 2I had an incredible time–and guess what? My “little sister” patiently, lovingly taught me to kayak! I spent a whole afternoon on the San Joaquin River paddling around on the beautiful, placid water with the pine and oak studded mountains reflected in it. I saw Kingfishers, herons, and Canada geese (with babies!) and we had such a wonderful time, two sisters on our kayak adventure together! I’m soooo hooked–I want my own kayak now but my Sweetheart thinks that might be a tiny bit “impractical” in arid Tucson!

Kim's dye flowers“Sisters are different flowers from the same garden.” Jane Davidson

Thanks to all of you my wonderful friends who encouraged and supported me about taking this big adventure…thanks to my Beloved for making it possible…but, most of all, THANK YOU KIM for being my wonderful sister and sharing your life with me. I LOVE YOU with all my heart!

Sisters are forever friends!

P.S. Please use my sister as your inspiration too–if you have a BIG DREAM throw your heart and your soul and your SWEAT EQUITY into it and make it come true!!!Kim's ranch metal© Copyright Kaitlin Meadows. All Rights Reserved.