Totally inspired by our new swing play set, (#BestGiftEver #ThankyouGrandma&Grandpa,) I’m writing this post while the baby girl is blissfully occupied in her brand-new, hammock-chair swing- designed by mommy!    

   Look!  She just fell asleep in it.    I like how it is positioning her while she sleeps; her face is resting on the side of the swing, the swing is not collapsing around her nose.  There is a potential “death trap” factor in baby swings, beds, and really all baby holding devices. For swingy things, safety lies somewhere between death by shaking- too little head support and death by suffocation- too much nose-smooshing head support. All that Spiced up by the possibility of death by falling.    

If swinging were not so very good for baby brain development, for parent arm resting- and great fun too- one might just abort the whole dangerous mission.  But swinging is so wonderful it is magical. It’s worth a bit of “don’t-be-dumb” parenting to enjoy the brain enhancing pleasure of the blissful ride.  

Until it is no longer blissful.    

    Now that she has woken up, I can report that the first test ride included baby Hoodini’s best attempt to escape her snuggly nest.  Abigail-dini, who routinely escapes the buckle straps on her safety tested infant bouncer, was foiled in her attempt to create a death-by-falling spectacle in this swing.  The escape hatch was too far above her center of gravity and she could not gain any traction on the cloth enclosure.  Her internal alarm system went off alerting the attending parent to the infuriating situation.  While she managed to escape the confines of the trap- she failed to throw herself to the ground!  

So I’m feeling pretty darn proud of my simple to make, hard to escape, pretty to look at, made from stash, baby swingy thingy!  

 I’m considering posting instructions for the swing, but there are serious “don’t be dumb” safety issues in use and construction of a swing.  I don’t want to endanger any-baby.  Comments appreciated  

Art for our marriage…

What started as a utilitarian need to reduce streetlight glow and sunlight heat turned into a metaphor for marriage. And much needed art for the focal point wall of our “tiny house” walk-in-closet/ bedroom.

 The bones of this piece began life as a crochet tablecloth.  By the time it landed in an antique store in Alabama it had aquired several holes.  Two of them were too large to close.  To use it as a curtain I would have to integrate the “fix” for the holes into the design.  Adding appliqué flowers or shapes failed– the holes were spaced awkardly for a decent design and I wanted to include more color… I started just laying fabric over the holes seeking a solution when the muse hit me.

 As I wove strips of fabric into the biggest hole, it got exciting.  The original crochet geometry played peek a boo as the lines of weave alternately hid and revealed the smaller shapes in the fabric.  The weave itself highlights the interplay of the various purples and points out the contrast between the circle and the grid.  It came together in that magical space born of focused intention, experimentation and willingness.

 It feels like my marriage.  Two fundamentally different kinds of cloth, repairing one another, holding each other up and coming together to create something more exciting than either would be on its own.

 An iron pipe holds the whole thing to the wall.  Again, like marriage, a strong foundation and secure anchoring is actually why our marriage feels so free.  I trust my spouse.  I know he can hold my weight; I can’t knock him over if I push with strength- or if I fall; and he has the same trust in me.  And that trust means we both have freedom to move and change and the safety to let go and be soft.

Pragmatically, the pipe continues the theme of exposed pipes used elsewhere in the “tiny house.”  In the bedroom a larger gauge pipe serves as a clothes rod.

  Yes, that’s a mirror hanging from the bar.  The need to use every odd little space continues to inspire fun, creative solutions!  I hope that’s like marriage, too.  The quirky needs of our shared space inspire creative growth!

Winners announced!!

The winner of the 39 steps party 39 foot bean bag toss is ….

Erin Donald!!!    (Megan’s sister)

She had an amazing 42 point day topping the leader board and clinching victory.  Her prize?  She gets to babysit whenever she wants woohoo!!

A few honorable mentions are worth sharing:

  • Ruth (Megans’s mom) had the best success rate by ringing 100% of her tosses.  She tossed 2 and hit 2 for 12 total points.  Then she had the wisdom to stop there and walk away.
  • Roy beat Inge
  • Lena came in 4th
  • A lot of people beat Scott

Whenever you want to come over and throw things out our 3rd floor windows, just let us know!  It’s a lot of fun.

Reading Alan Watts, Buddhism, and Emptiness

A friend of mine recently said he is reading Become What You Are by Alan Watts.  Mr. Watts died in 1973, and was a writer and activist for eastern religious thought in the United States through the ’50s and ’60s.  In an effort to have something interesting to talk about with my friend, I bought the book, and have been reading it.  I’m only a few chapters into it, and I already see the primary difference between Eastern Christianity and the other Eastern religions (as in: Taoism and Buddhism), and this primary difference makes me not really want to continue reading.


The first chapter in Become What You Are is entitled The Paradox of Self Denial.  In it, Mr. Watts starts with a Buddhist quote, “While living, be a dead man, thoroughly dead; Then whatever you do, just as you will, will be right.”  In more familiar western language, we are to lose ourselves completely, emptying ourselves, so that we will be in accord with the natural way of things.  Watts says, “Finding life through losing it is not a precept but a report of something which happens … in many different ways.”

“To the genuine dead-man-come-alive, … the notion that he attained this state by some effort or by some some special capacity of his own is always absurd or impossible.”  “[Just] when I discover that I cannot surrender myself that I am surrendered;  just when I find that I cannot accept myself that I am accepted.”

I can get behind these kinds of paradoxical emptiness statements.  Living dead men are naturally paradoxical.  The New Testament would have us die to this world, and be reborn from death to life in Christ.  I’m good with the idea of emptying myself and detaching from the things of this world.  That’s part of the path to Righteousness.

What Happens Next

The issue I have reading Alan Watts discussion of emptiness is well the feeling of emptiness I have having read it. Being an Orthodox Christian I have a notion of emptying myself and in this I share a kinship with the Buddhist teachings that Watts was describing. But it appears to me that in the Buddhist teachings, emptiness and nothingness is mostly the point.  The removal of self and ego seems to be a technique, almost psychological in its character, of removing suffering by internally reframing the experience into a neutral one, and being at peace with the created world. There seems to be kinship described with all living things once the removal of the ego is accomplished.

Christianity teaches a much different thing. Harmony is not the ideal of the Christian life. The Christian ideal is Communion of Love first with God and then with our fellow man. It is through this first step of dying to self, emptying ourselves, that we can get out of the way enough for God to come live and fill us from the inside out. The Good News (gospel) of Jesus Christ is that God is a personal God. We can know him as Father. We can see him by looking at Jesus. We can then liken ourselves to him through the emptying of our own sinful habits and self will, so that the Holy Spirit can fill us anew. Christianity provides this extra step beyond mere emptiness saying that God comes to fill us.

In the beginning was the Natural Way of Things, and the Natural Way of Things was with God, and the Natural Way of Things was God.  The Natural Way of Things was in the beginning with God.  All things came into being through the Natural Way of Things, and without the Natural Way of Things not one thing came into being.  What has come into being in the Natural Way of Things was life, and the life was the light of all people.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. . . .

[but here’s the really scandalous part…]  And the Natural Way of Things became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory of a father’s only son. . . . He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him.  He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him.  But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.