Under the Maple Canopy

Singing Union Songs Since 2009

1 Comment

I guess I still like writing after all…

Back in April, Jerimi over at My Antidepressant Life wrote about her pen-pal through the Letter Writer’s Alliance.  First off, Jerimi has a great blog if you’re looking for something to read.  Secondly, letter writing?  An entire group of folks devoted to writing letters and absolutely yummy paper related items?

I joined right away even though I had a backlog of thank you cards waiting to go out and am spotty at best when it comes to sending out holiday cards be they for anniversaries, birthdays, or other appropriate occasions.  In my defense, cards are freaking expensive for what you get and signing a card really never feels like “enough.”

But….letters?  I love letters.  Even better?  While writing my very first penpal letter, I discovered that I still like writing after all.  Just not blogging.


Here’s the deal, if you’re a regular here and you’d still like to keep in touch, I’d love to hear from you.  Want a handwritten letter in return?  Drop me an email with your snail mail address (maplecanopy [at] gmail [dot] com) and I’ll send one your way!  :0)


Finished Since Last Time…

We’ve finished three books in the last two weeks and are very close to finishing a fourth. Books #8, 9, and 10 were “Stuart Little” by EB White, “Bartleby of the Mighty Mississippi” by Phyllis Shalan,t and “A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Bad Beginning” by Lemony Snicket. Book #10 is E.L. Konigsburg’s “From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler” which has been equally as delicious to read as #s 9 and 10.

From there, we’ll be on to #12, “The Son of Neptune” by Rick Riordan.

Another thing that I have settled on declaring finished lately is this here blog. I’m not done writing (seeing as writing is a lifelong process), but my writing ambitions are definitely finished. My apologies to those who have commented within the last month or so. I really did mean to get back to you, but the reality is that I won’t. I do feel the tiniest bit sorry about that. Only the tiniest bit, though. Much as I meant to get back to writing here, as time went on I found that what seemed so urgent or necessary before didn’t any longer.

The short version? I still have plenty to say, but I have no desire to say it here.

So, dear reader, my deepest appreciation to all of you for reading along with me. You are certainly welcome to continue, but know that I’m going to be shifting focus and what will follow in this space will primarily be a personal record of next year’s homeschooling. In other words, less blog, more record keeping. Read alouds, units I have created myself, resource lists, etc.

I won’t begrudge you if a litany of lists and records does not thrill you. :0) You have my permission to go therefore and read someone else.


Book #5 is Finished!

cwYesterday we finished book #5 of our 2013 Read Aloud Project, “Charlotte’s Web” by E.B. White.  A fast read, a cute story, Garth William’s wonderful illustrations.  Yup!  Loved it all around!

We’ve already started book #6, “The Trumpet of the Swan” by E.B. White.  It’s the second of three E.B. White books I have planned for this year.  On to the next!

Looking for more reasons to read aloud to your children?  Patricia Zaballos of wonderfarm had a fantastic blog post last week that talks a bit about the link between reading aloud and a child’s development as a writer.  It’s also the third part of a three-part series on how homeschooling parents can become their children’s writing mentor.  Not a homeschooling parent?  Still oodles to read there for anyone with children in their lives.

Here’s to more language rich homes!


Today we’re:
Listening to music (though not all of us are sitting  backwards on a rocking chair) and taking pictures.  Old favorites.  Finding out we’re missing a few.  Oh, my!  Photo shoot with willing kids.  Picture me!  Picture me!  Discovering that I’m not such a bad photographer after all and that there’s no reason to go down to JcPenney to get Boo’s picture taken.  Oh, and that ordering prints through iPhoto is cheap.


Finding a new spot for the Buddha to sit seeing as certain people can’t keep their fingers out of the water and his old home was on my refinished antique sewing machine. We’re just going to call what happened there…character.  This one’s in the kitchen below the chalkboard that’s going to be home to our weekly menu plan because I’m not homeschooling anymore and I think it would be pretty.  I picked this cabinet (made from spark plug crates) up at an antique store many moons ago.  Discovering that I need to go antique shopping…like yesterday.


The cabinet is also home to our books.  According to our librarian (the second grader) this is where the non-fiction books belong.  He loves to label things in the house.  I had to start buying masking tape for the kids to use because keeping them in scotch tape was getting expensive.  Missing homeschooling and reminding myself several times a day that school was a good thing for a kid that blossomed into a writer when I had to cajole him into writing each. and. every. word.


A fresh tablescape with the table runner made by my mom and some placemats I got from Ikea who knows when and were sitting lost and forlorn on top of the dryer.  Oh, and art.  Lots of art with the beeswax blocks that never really caught on with the kids until recently.  Wishing that we had done more of this last year and less spelling, grammar, and pulling along.


Seriously amazing quilting.  I’ve sat with this here tablerunner for a good long while just looking at the quilting and still find something new every time I look at it.  This one’s going to be coming off and on the table several times a day.  No food-y hands on the tablerunner, please!

IMG_0897Lunch.  A mess in the microwave.  Sun bread.  Cheesy popcorn.  Birthday party plans.  Evites.  Playing in the snow.  Puppy.  Yelling a time or two to please stop fighting(!).  Referee.  Alarm clock.

A good day.


Cleaning Day

I decided to clean things up in my creative space yesterday.  Creative space?  That sounds odd, but to be honest I’m always at a bit of a loss for what to call it.  I could call it my office because there’s a great deal of office-y things that take place there.  On the other hand, that’s really only a small fraction of what I do and something I avoid as much as possible.

Studio is far too highbrow, although it is a fairly large space that would probably make a number of folks as jealous as I am of anyone who is both above ground and has a window that lets in natural light.  Likewise it’s not my sewing room because I also write here and have at one time or another done Yoga.  Whatever you call it, it’s mine and any dissatisfaction I might feel about it remains firmly in the “first world problems” column.  It’s still my space and I just needed to find a better way to fit in it.

The previous owners (not sure which ones), in an attempt to make the basement look less dated, decided to paint the floor tile with white paint.  I’ll admit to not paying the floor much attention when we were considering buying the house, but even if I had, I doubt I would have ever thought it would end up being a problem.

But, reader, painted floor tile.  Can you imagine what it’s like after these years with traffic and desk chairs and life?  The damn paint is coming up in little chips so that I have white paint chips all over the house and in unexpected places.  I have to vacuum on a regular basis with my little Dirt Devil just to keep them under control.  This also has the added bonus of keeping the roving tumbleweeds of cat hair under control seeing as the cats practically live in the basement when they aren’t napping on my bed or in the front window.

One thing led to another and I was moving furniture.  My Dad would laugh here or maybe roll his eyes because this furniture moving of mine is something I am genetically predisposed to doing.  I come from a long line of furniture movers and room re-arrangers. I have been known to move furniture before the cable installer or a service person comes over.  The husband thinks this is a little silly, but what can I say?  I was vacuuming and it needed to be done.  You have to follow these urges when they hit because you never know when brilliance will strike.  Have you ever seen “Because I Said So” with Diane Keaton?  It’s kind of like that.

The bookshelf and the cutting table switched places which means I have more light when I’m cutting and I can keep the cutting table open all the way for more space which should equal less frustration.  One thing led to another and I was throwing things out, re-organizing drawers and fabric, and otherwise making a larger mess than I was cleaning.  I was covered in fuzz and thread which I didn’t realize until someone else pointed it out.

My desk is clean, my sewing desk has been dusted, a new project is on the design wall, and I found a place to put my two favorite pictures from my wedding which means that even if the husband isn’t home, he’s still here.

Things aren’t quite there yet, but it’s getting closer and I like the energy in the room better now.  The best part?  It didn’t cost a dime!

A Unique Blog Award

I have to apologize for not getting to this sooner, but, well, puppy.  How long do you think I can keep using that as my excuse for everything?

“Sorry, dear, I won’t be home anytime in the next several hours.”

“Why not?”

“Oh, puppy!”

“But the puppy’s at home with me and the kids…”


A n y w a y

Last week I got a very thoughtful blog award from Wyrd Anglo Saxon Priestess (more about her at her About page). I don’t remember how I first found her blog, but I have enjoyed reading it over these last few months.  I loved the picture of her indoor grove – she has the cutest little tree I have ever seen.  Many thanks to her for nominating me!

The purpose of this award is to bring positive recognition to those bloggers who share their experiences on the less-traveled path, whether in the form of a journal or by standing up for themselves and others. Our award logo was a collaborate endeavor made with love that we are both very proud of. So without any further ado, onward to the details of the newest award to find its way to the blogsphere!

The Rules:

  • Post the award logo within your blog post
  • Thank the blogger who passed the award to you
  • Answer the seven questions below
  • Nominate five Wiccan/Pagan bloggers (If you don’t know five other Wiccan bloggers, nominate as many as you can)
  • Notify your nominees of their pending award
  • Give a short description of the blog/blogger and why you nominated them
  • Stop by Ayslyn’s Corner and Book of Shadows to add your name to the list of bloggers awarded
  • You may customize the questions as long as they are still Wiccan- and Pagan-related

Seven Questions:

How did you “discover” Wicca/witchcraft/Paganism or what you call your path?

That’s…complicated.  Then again, when is anything in life not complicated?  The long story can be found over yonder.  The short of it is, my fundagelical turned “Messianic Jew” (please, don’t ask *sigh*) brother-in-law raised a stink one year about Christmas because, well, PAGAN! (mimes clutching one’s pearls and falling over faint).  I set out on a journey to prove just how many things one could consider PAGAN! because I’m annoying and I wanted to prove a point.  The gist of it, crazy brother-in-law, is you might want to stop doing just about everything.

Odd catalyst aside, somewhere along the way we found that a nature based spirituality just fit.  That fact that we didn’t have to be theists to be accepted and that under the Pagan umbrella, one can find a multitude of diverse paths was a HUGE comfort.  You mean there’s room for the “other”?!?

Do you grow herbs?

Uh, I grow children, does that count?  No?  Ok, so I do have an herb garden and it was supposed to be like a partial herb wheel and I lovingly picked out some plants, started some from seed, and then had another child.  I’ve been waging war with the Burdock in my backyard that threatens to take over everything, can’t seem to get my elderberry bush to set fruit, and let the hops plants take over the fence.  It’s kind of sad at this point, but um, kids and puppy?

I do, however, share my city lot with two huge silver maple trees that require zero input on my part aside from raking leaves in the fall.  The one in the backyard I call Grandma Maple because she’s the largest of the two and provides the most shelter and shade.  She’s not pictured in this picture, though.  The one with the yellow-y leaves at the top is Sister Maple in the front yard and the two red maples in the bottom corners are in the park row.  These are the trees that were the inspiration for my blog title.  Trees, more than anything (except the stars and our universe), are what give me the greatest sense of the divine in life.

Are you “in the broom closet”? If not, share your coming out experience.

Yes, and no.  I mean, my mom reads here (Hi, Mom!) so it’s not exactly as if it’s some great surprise, but I also haven’t set out to specifically tell people.  I work on a need to know basis and have largely decided that most of my family members don’t need to know.

I guess that’s generally out of a sense of self-preservation.  I have a large number of fundagelical family members who would not be able to accept the husband and I no longer identifying as fellow fundagelicals with all that entails.  It’s also an issue of protecting my children from what would be zealous attempts to “share the gospel.”  If there’s one thing I think I can most provide my children, it’s the safety to explore the ideas of god, goddess, divine, spiritual, etc, without poisoning the well with one-wayers.  I know that I can counter that with comparative religion and that I can’t keep them away from the one-wayers forever, but I am determined to do so for as long as I can.

What tradition do you follow?

Um, my own?  I like the way Wyrd Preistess puts it – “Dirty American.”  We incorporate Buddhist concepts (and participate in the local Family Dharma class) and honor and read stories about Hindu, Celtic, and Greek deities as a family.   struggle with my first world, European privilege.  Am I contributing to colonialism and cultural appropriation by doing so?  I don’t have a good answer to that, though it is something I try to be mindful of.  I’m holding it in tension at this point.

Do you consider yourself a witch, Wiccan or Pagan (or maybe something else?)

I’m a Pantheist, Naturalist, Humanist, Agnostically oriented Pagan, though usually I just say Pantheist Pagan for short.

How much of witchcraft/Wicca are you able to incorporate into your everyday life?

I do not claim the title of witch nor do I practice witchcraft, though I affirm and support the right of others to do so.  We follow the Wiccan Wheel of the Year because it helps us connect with the seasons and engage with the world around us.  We also participate in many of the modern traditions associated with these holidays.  I also find an affinity with the way some Wiccans view the god and goddess in an archetypal way.

Do you have a familiar? If you do, tell us how you meet him/her and how s/he takes part in your practice (if at all)

Well, I don’t practice magick or witchcraft, but I do have cats.  Of the two, it would probably be the male cat (pictured here).  I think I could say that he functions in a sense as a familiar, although while I’m a liberal lefty, he fits S.M. Stirling’s description of cats fairly well, being a furry little Republican with an in-built aversion to change.  He follows me everywhere and likes to keep an eye on whatever I’m doing.  I’m physically incapable of doing Yoga around here without also finding his butt in my face, when I write or quilt he keeps an eye on me, and if I go outside at night to stargaze or watch the full moon he sits at the patio door and stares at me.


Musings of a Kitchen Witch because she’s insightful and well-written with a decent sense of humor.  What’s not to love?

Spiral Visions because I’m telling you, that’s one busy woman!  She doesn’t blog often, but when she does it has value.  She also doesn’t let chronic pain slow her down which is inspiring!

Works of Literata because I love what she writes and I admire her standing up for what’s right.

Which is about all I can do for nominees, which doesn’t mean that there aren’t any out there, it’s just that those I read either already got it or aren’t specifically Pagan.  But what about you, dear reader, do you have a favorite Pagan blog?


The Side Effects of Blogging

Blogging to me is a bit like the tides.  Inspiration (and writing energy) flows in and out somewhat predictably.  Folks take a break (I have at one time or another) for any number of reasons – healthy, energy, season, etc.  Some return.  Some never do.

Blogging (well) requires a certain degree of dedication because, quite frankly, it’s a lot of work.  There’s the idea, the words, the pictures – none of which are necessarily easy to come by, although some things in life just beg to be blogged.  The picture part in particular can sometimes be the most time consuming of all.  There’s the issue of light, equipment, ability, willingness of one’s subjects to participate, and then the time it takes to edit the picture.  For me it’s always a matter of cropping or resizing so that the file size is smaller and takes up less space thereby putting off needing to buy an upgrade or storing things off site.  From there it’s correcting for exposure (sometimes), color (sometimes), and then otherwise messing around with the picture so that it looks right (effect, edges, text).

There’s a sweet spot there that I don’t always hit.  Sometimes it’s just off and I want to throw up my hands and give up.

Getting the picture of the yellow and grey quilt top (hereafter named “Shattered“) a couple of weeks ago was one of those moments.  All those pictures and I didn’t care for most of them.  Do I really want to drag it out all over again?

A few weeks ago I was in the front yard taking pictures when my husband asked me what I was doing lying on the ground.  How could I explain?  Another blogger had these great pictures at the base of the tree and I thought it might be fun to play around with that?  That I thought it might be fun to capture the idea of the blog visually.  I wanted to catch what it looks like physically to be “under the maple canopy” when it was always an abstract kind of thing.  How do I translate that to my husband who probably thinks I’m a little…eccentric?

Pan de Muerto from La Panaderia in Janesville

And if my husband thinks I’m a little weird for what I do, what must my neighbors think when I take my dinner or dessert or any number of things outside in the backyard to photograph.  Obsession?  Functional madness?  First world crazy person who’s too self-involved to not see that her actions are absurd?  Hell, there’s no shortage of snark boards out there talking about how terribly self-centered bloggers are.  Have I reached that point?  Have I become snark-worthy?

There’s a side-effect, though (aside from my sanity which is certainly not trivial), and it’s that when I blog I take more pictures.  When I take more pictures, I have more pictures of my kids and when I take more pictures of my kids, I catch more special moments – like the blurry rake held by Groceries who is far more concerned with creating leaf piles in the yard to jump in than he is in getting them cleaned up.  The year he was finally big enough to use the big rake all by himself.

Is it worth it?  I suppose I don’t know the answer to that question just yet and a great deal more time would need to pass before I could even attempt to do so.  And if everything, even the most mundane of everyday moments is sacred in some way, then isn’t that something in and of itself?

In the meantime, I’ll take the greater influx of pictures even if my hard drive is filling up and be thankful that somewhere along the way I didn’t miss it.


Happy Blogiversary(!) Drawing – And the Winner is…

On Monday, I offered up a lovely candle from Aroma Naturals for you, my dear readers.  It’s the Aroma Naturals’ Soy VegePure Travel Tin in Ambiance.  Aroma Naturals is the only scented candle I can burn in the house that won’t give me a headache and they have a number of very yummy varieties.  Rest, assured, dear reader, I bought it myself so you know I really and truly love it.  Also, I haven’t received any compensation for offering it up or for recommending the candles.  I get mine through my Frontier Buying-Club.

I bought the candle a few months ago when we put together our buying-club order and then hid it so that no one would think it was free game to light.  I evidently hid it quite well, because there was a brief moment of panic when I couldn’t find it!  Thankfully, all I had to do was shift my gaze upward and there it was at the top of the bookshelf.

Whew!  Crisis averted.  Where was I?  Oh, yes, the Ambiance candle.  It’s really lovely with orange and lemongrass essential oils in it and just the hint of creaminess.  Can creaminess be a scent?  It reminds me a bit of a creamsicle without all of the artificial-ness that most candles convey.

Hmmm….I don’t think I can drag this out any longer.  Who can handle the suspense?

So, here’s how this worked.  I went in and assigned each eligible comment (non-family members and non-me) a number.  In this case it was from 1-6.  The numbers are still there if you’d like to see them.  Then, I went to Random.org and asked it to give me a random number from between 1-6.  It gave me the result and I took a screenshot so everyone can see who won:

As an aside, I also figured out how to take a screenshot and would you believe how easy it was?  Command-Shift-4 and it even lets me select exactly where on the screen I’d like it to take a screenshot from.  It then miraculously shows up on my desktop.  Mac Mini of mine…have I told you lately how much I adore how easy you are to use?

By random decree the winner is #3 who said:

Congratulations, Michelle Wilke from Factotum of Arts!  I’ll be sending you an email just after this post is published so watch your inbox!

Thank you all so much for reading here, sharing your wonderful comments, your insightful blog posts, and otherwise journeying along with me.  I really have enjoyed “meeting” you over these years and look forward to many more to come.  It’s been a Happy Blogiversary, indeed!