Tag Archives: life

Forest Fairy Mailbox / Woodland Gnome House

“I heard that if you build a small house, and place it near the woods, then fairies and gnomes will come to visit.  They will come at night most of the time.  They love children, and will bring you gifts, something from nature, every time they come.”


I have to brag, this beautiful little wooden and copper work of art was designed by my son, Matt (blog link) and built by my husband, Greg.  As grandparents, we are committed to exposing our grandchildren to the world of nature. Their parents are doing a wonderful job of that too.  I was reading recently how peculiar it would seem to an ancient, indigenous culture that we now have to “teach” about nature.  Most of us no longer live in the heart of the natural world, but we must never lose our connection to it.

Fairy:Gnome 2      Fairy:Gnome 1

On his first visit to the gnome house, the look on our grandson’s face was incredible! He circled around it and peered in the windows.  And opened the door to find that the gnome had left him a beautiful crystal , an amethyst.  Now every time he receives a gift, an unusual stone, a shell perhaps, or a feather dropped by a bird, he wants to pick a wildflower and leave it in the box, to give back to the gnome.  So cute!

Now we await our granddaughter’s first visit.  The forest fairy is just waiting.  The fairy knows she’s coming, and there will be a gift in the mailbox, something from our beautiful, natural world!


Recently I’ve been reading, Uprising For The Earth, by Osprey Orielle Lake.  This is a wonderfully inspiring book, with a subtitle:  Reconnecting Culture With Nature.  It’s not so easy these days, as the two have grown apart.

I am fortunate to live on the Pacific North Coast of California, surrounded by rivers, ocean and woods, where my children were also raised.  Frequently though, I think about the issues that Lake brings up in these quotes:

“What happens to us, TO OUR CHILDREN, in our urban centers when we experience primarily the smells of industry, smog, petroleum and chemicals?  What happens to our native ears when left only with the sounds of cars, telephones, freeways and mechanization?  What happens when our hands and eyes rest only upon human made things?…….Our human experience is dependent upon what influences our daily lives, and we are only beginning to take into account the consequences of depriving our children of direct communion with  the Earth, and all the plant life and creatures.”

 Uprising For The Earth

I know that we can’t all run from our lives in the cities, and it’s no longer just our locale that keeps kids indoors.  City dwellers, or country folk, I would love to hear about your plans to compete this summer with your child/grandchild’s electronic tablet, i-Phone, and television.  Thank you in advance for sharing on “comments.”


Let's Cooperate

Communities are facing economic hardship everywhere, but in the midst of these difficult times the cooperative business model is thriving.   The National Cooperative Business Association provides these statistics:  “Worldwide, roughly 750,000 cooperatives serve 730 million members.  Here in the U.S. some 72,000 co-op establishments operate, providing more than 2 million jobs and serving 120 million members, that’s 4 in 10 Americans.” The significance of supporting and using this model in our culture today cannot be overstated.  Who among us is not “fed up” with giant corporations who care only about their bottom line.  Obviously, every business needs to profit, but the co-op business model is about so much more.

Three main types of cooperatives exist: retail, marketing, and worker, but they all function primarily by the Rochdale Principles. To summarize, cooperatives are formed to meet their members’ needs, and are focused more on service than investment.  In our rapidly changing world, I believe we need to take a step back, and review some of the principles that were working for communities in the past.  I’ve stated several times on this blog, that I do not want to give up our innovations and technology; we are living in an awesome age, this 21st Century.  But, sometimes I believe we move too fast, and perhaps discard systems that are working.   The co-op model is one that we need to keep alive.

I’ve been a member of a retail food co-op for many years, but I’m becoming aware of myriad other options to be involved as a consumer.  I’ve detailed some of them below:

FIND A RETAIL FOOD CO-OP NEAR YOU:  Go to this website – Local Harvest
BABYSITTING CO-OPS:  Grandparents are babysitting ever more these days, sometimes full time.  Find a babysitting co-op near you, or learn how to set up one:  babycenter.com 
ARTIST CO-OPS:  Art Chain or The Sketchbook Project
CAMPING GEAR:   Mountain Equipment Co-op
BANKING CO-OPS:  Cobank  and National Cooperative Bank
Grameen America  You must read about the Grameen Bank.  It has made a tremendous difference in lives, internationally, and it is now in America.
COOPERATIVE HOUSING:  National Assoc. of Housing Cooperatives

The  list above is very brief, but will give you a sample of the opportunities available to get involved with co-ops.  If you are interested, the links below will provide more information about starting a co-op:

For a detailed definition of types of cooperatives download:  The Structure of Cooperatives.  Also visit the Cooperative Development Institute. (A great resource)  Or, download a Co-op Start-up kit.

We’re all feeling a little uneasy these days.  My thoughts often wonder to the future, and what it holds for our grandchildren.  A lot of things in life have gone awry since we (The Boomers) were growing up.  But, as always it’s a balance, the yin and the yang.  We still have the power to affect positive change in our remaining years, to influence the world toward better options.  I believe one of those options involves huddling closer, holding onto things like the co-op model,  and remembering the value of our local communities.  Let’s make sure these options are still viable for those who come after us.


A few days ago I randomly overheard a conversation, that included this well-worn phrase, (and I paraphrase here) “If you’re not familiar with history, you’re destined to repeat it.”   Of course, I’ve heard it before, but this time it rang a different bell in my ears.  I have grandchildren now, and to their grandchildren I will be the ancestor…..the one who lived a long time ago.  This thought made me realize that I have some writing and teaching to do.  My descendants need to know who I was, what were my values, what did I embrace or disdain. This is history, our personal history.

I don’t expect, or even want, my descendants to be a carbon copy of me, but I believe we have pieces missing in our culture today.  Those pieces are the lives of our grandparents and great-grandparents.  A few very lucky people have stayed tightly connected, but it’s much more difficult  today.  Throughout most of our history, and in much of the world today, elders were respected.  They provided life lessons, learned by living alongside the elders, and the youth accepted their wisdom. This was tradition.  That’s not so easy today, we live in a different world, but we need not give up.  We can still write, or call.   Oh, excuse me, I’m showing my age here……we can still “text” our grandchildren.

There are so many ways to inform them about our priorities, i.e. books that we love, movies we’ve enjoyed, video game choices (don’t get me started on that one).   Maybe in our conversations with grandchildren we are sometimes too involved only with their lives and what they are doing, which is VERY important, of course.  But let’s not leave out our lives, and our priorities.  They need to know who we are.

Time is the greatest gift.  I know it’s a cliché, but I’m coming around to believing it more and more.  I know we live in a material society, and it’s unavoidable on some levels, but when I visit a toy store, I’m overwhelmed.  Choices, choices, choices.  I had to laugh out loud when I read a description recently of our culture today, “chaotic abundance.”  That says it all.

The next time you purchase a toy, pay attention to how it’s made, recycled materials?  Does it have family significance?  Can you tell a story that goes with it?  Use this opportunity and any other that you can find to let them know what’s important to you, what your traditions are, and why it is so special that they are part of your family.

Stories were once the only way that information was passed from one generation to the next, and I believe it still holds a vital place in our culture.  In fact, I suppose this idea will make me seem very old-fashioned, but I have serious concerns about the longevity of much of what we write down these days.  I’ve often thought about the notes that I found in my grandmother’s dresser when she passed away.  They were there after many, many years, a tangible record of friends’ thoughts.  I could read them and grasp a bit of the culture of the time, a piece of history, a morsel of the past in my hand.

I don’t believe we will have a lot of that in the future, we read and delete e-mails daily, and we consume newspapers and magazines in the same way.  Stories!  We need to tell our grandchildren stories, over and over, until they are so familiar that they will pass on, to their children and grandchildren.

Be proud of your traditions, don’t let them slip into anonymity.  Let’s take back our position as elders, and close that gap, if we have one, with our grandchildren.
Let’s be sure that our great-great grandchildren will know their ancestors.