31 July 2010

( notable neighbors -- eric hughes aka the bird kid )

notable neighbors -- eric hughes aka the bird kid
by jennifer hetrick

east coventry resident eric hughes, who is only 11-years-old, let his vision soar upward at the age of four, and since then, has sighted an estimated 200 sky-set winged ones.

before even starting kindergarten, he knew that he wanted to be an ornithologist someday.

with those who call themselves birders, a common goal for sightings is 500 birds in a lifetime, which means hughes is quite ahead of the game, given his age.

hughes is a sixth grader at east coventry elementary school in the owen j. roberts school district, where he is known by his fellow students as the bird kid, with his own website by the same name at www.birdkid.com.

 “almost every day, i would page through the golden book of birds,” hughes said about himself when he was four-years-old, just beginning to take an interest in birds. “i even marked which ones i liked the most.”

back then, a mallard duck had left eggs under a shrub in his parents’ yard. the following year, hughes asked his parents why the duck and her babies hadn’t come back to nest again. this curiosity propelled hughes into his admiration for birds—only growing stronger in him each year. 

as the creator of his own birdfeeder called the cinco 5000, the magazine birds & blooms featured hughes and his invention in its june – july 2008 issue. the feeder holds compartments for four different types of food to attract a variety of birds. 

“morning doves and house finches especially like it,” hughes said about the birdfeeder. 

earlier this year, hughes participated in the great backyard bird count with its sponsors as the cornell lab of ornithology, the national audubon society, and bird studies canada. hughes joined birders of all ages across the globe in collecting data about bird sightings within a short period of days, all from their backyards.

hughes has collected more than 150 audubon plush birds and will probably gain more as new ones are released.

the expanse of his parents’ property includes three bird gardens and others which are incorporated with the woods and their house. 

a japanese kousa dogwood tree is planted in the yard, as birds enjoy its berries. but hughes and his parents try to stick to mostly native trees and plants to lure in birds.

this spring, hughes glimpsed a white crowned sparrow, which he said is more rare compared to the often sighted white throated sparrow.

in recent weeks, hughes spotted a cliff swallow for the first time while visiting lake ontelaunee, noting that it nests under the bridge at route 73. 

two years ago, hughes enrolled in an ornithology class offered by cornell university. students are free to move at their own pace in the coursework, and by now, hughes has finished four chapters in the cornell lab of ornithology handbook of bird biology.
each chapter is 100 – 200 pages long, with an open-book test to accompany it. the final answers can be submitted through mail or online for rapid results, hughes explained.
the first four chapters follow an introduction to birds, a guide to birdwatching, the external bird, and the anatomy and physiology of birds. on the tests, hughes’ average is 98.6%. the book totals around 1,000 pages.
“it gives me a lot of information so i can understand birds better,” hughes elaborated about why he likes this course so much, with its recommended age level of students being 15 and up.
“you can see them almost anywhere, at any time, they have extraordinary colors, and they’re the only living thing with feathers,” hughes beamed about why he loves studying birds, feeling that he was destined to follow them.

( a baltimore oriole photographed by eric hughes. )

(  a black crowned night heron photographed by eric hughes. )

(an eastern kingbird photographed eric hughes. )

hughes’ all-time favorite bird is the andean cock-of-the-rock, which is the national bird of peru—a place he hopes to travel to eventually.

“it has an abnormal tuft of feathers,” hughes noted. “blue jays and cardinals have their crests going from the middle of their heads and back, but the cock-of-the-rock has it in the middle of its head, down to the top of its beak as a half circle.”

hughes described its coloring as orange, pearly grey, and black.

choosing his favorite birdsong, hughes pinpointed that of the song sparrow, having recognized its call when he was young, but not learning until later which bird vocalized the tune. to hughes, the song always let him know spring was just around the corner.

his second choice for a beloved birdsong is that of the gray catbird. as would seem perhaps obvious, its music sounds much like a meow.

“the northern mockingbird can sing the call of different species,” hughes said, “and the smallest bird is the bee hummingbird—it lives in cuba and is less than three inches tall.”

on hughes’ bucket list is the aspiration to see every bird ever in his lifetime.

“if you are having problems with squirrels getting at your seed, and you don't know a good alternative, try safflower seed,” hughes suggested as advice to those losing birdseed to tiny but fast-sprawling mammals. “the squirrels don't seem to go after it, but the birds still love it.”

hughes recently acquired his own camera, a canon powershot sx10 is. with it, he plans to of course photograph more birds, then adding the new supply to his website.

“i can really study them through the pictures and see what they’re like,” hughes said.

to those who have never dabbled in the ways of birding, hughes said, “go outside and sit back in the woods somewhere where it’s undisturbed, be quiet, and watch what happens around you—then you’ll see why i like birds so much.”

30 July 2010

( clayote booms in earth & art-speak since grand re-opening in july )

clayote booms in earth & art-speak
since grand re-opening in july
by jennifer hetrick

a gallery, studio, and so much more—clayote along boyertown’s main street opened last year in october, but soon after the shop moved next door to the end unit at the intersection of routes 73 and 562 in late june, the front door couldn’t stay shut, as people sauntered in to mingle their fingertips in earth-birthed clay. 

in mid-july, owners danielle fisher and her husband chris, along with their sons nathan and benjamin, hosted clayote’s grand re-opening. on this bumpingly busy night, they introduced the community to their new 2,800 sq. ft. space, which boasts enthusiastically compared to their previous 800 sq. ft.

as a native to berks county, fisher lived in arizona for almost a decade running howlin’ hands artist ranch on and off without a storefront to call her own, but in recent years, carted her way back to pennsylvania with her family and fur kids.

“i’ve always been attracted to wolves and coyotes and how they’re misunderstood for their true nature,” fisher explained about why she chose to name her latest endeavor clayote.

“coyotes have all these stories about them being the trickster,” fisher said. “but they’re beautiful animals and have a very systematic hierarchy of family.”

“if you see a coyote in your dreams, native americans believe that you need more fun in your life,” fisher added. “i’m also drawn to dragonflies—they walk between dream and reality worlds, and they’re ancient.”

 a quick peruse inside clayote shows fisher’s fascination with dragonflies, as many adorn the sides of shimmering glazed pots set across the tables and shelves.

“i moved around a lot in my life,” fisher said, noting that looking back, memories and details are not always clear, given the bustle of relocating time and again. “i remember things by when i did clay.”

“the special moments—i remember them by art,” fisher continued. “it’s something i connected with me to weave in my memories.”

“it’s therapeutic, and it grounds me,” fisher said about her time spent working with clay at the wheel.

“i’m a very flighty, 90-ideas-at-once kind of person,” fisher said. “but i have this voice inside of me that tells me to stay with the clay.”

besides serving as an often unexpected outlet and release for cognitive constraints and stress in general, clay is good for skin and dries out poison ivy, causing itching at the rash zones to stop when it touches ailing epidermis.

“the clay we use is not very sandy or groggy, so it’s not harsh,” fisher said. “we have a soft, almost chocolate-feeling clay.”

fisher orders her earthy material from the pittsburgh-based standard ceramic supply company, which is the closest place she can buy from to support locally.

she blends three kinds of clay to create the final product used by those who slowly fiddle their fingers to shape pottery pieces in the studio.

 ( emma carr molds fast-spinning clay at her 
fingertips with help from danielle fisher. )

( emma's older sister maddie works at the wheel with their father andy carr offering 
some guidance for how to keep the pot's rim even with the rhythm of the spinning. )

 ( maddie carr sits with a pile of hand tools at her side 
to decorate her freshly wheeled piece of pottery. )

clayote is the home to three wheels, so each is often in demand when visitors walk in to marry their palms with the clay even if only briefly. by fall, fisher hopes to have several more on-site, when she and chris also plan to relocate their kilns to the shop from their home set away in the woods of pike township.

fisher noticed that students who are often deemed as poorly behaving in school can sit at the wheel with clay and work diligently, caringly, for hours without disruption.

“we see housewives who come in and haven’t had time to themselves,” fisher said about before they sloppy up their hands with chunks of wet clay.

“all of a sudden when they come in [to use the wheels and shape something new], they’re glowing, and they’re centered.” 

“i see amazing things through the creative spirit every day,” fisher said. “i see change; i get to watch it.” 

“it’s not even that they’re changing out of what they are,” fisher said. “it’s what was already there, but i get to tap into it and see that side of people.” 

“whether it’s clay, knitting, how you arrange your house, or how you hang your curtains—you’re born with it and can’t separate from it,” fisher said about the human attachment to creating art. 

fisher is keeping the ball rolling with integrating her after-school programs locally, as she taught in five area school districts this year, with a total of 11 planned for once summer breaks into fall with the academic season. 

but clayote offers not only what its name implies. fisher invites area specialists into her open space for a belly dancing class, yoga classes for both adults and young children, a personal awareness self-defense course, finance seminars—as budgetary problems often lead to stress, comedy shows, and performances by local musicians. 

“for $10 an hour, we offer the clayote den to anybody who wants to do something good for the community,” fisher said. “if they’re dealing with children, they need their clearances to work with kids.” 

in the grand scheme of clayote, fisher has tucked the hopes of nourishing the sanctuary-like environment with as many diversified, positive outlets for the community as her open space will allow. 

“the earth is already beautiful—clay is earth,” fisher said, “and it is love.”

in the mantra of that 1 east philadelphia avenue sweep, fisher concluded, “do clay. be happy.” 

freebie alert ! comment on this story  to enter for a chance to win one pottery-making session from clayote. please include your e-mail address in the comment. this contest ends sunday the 8th of august. good luck !

news, not blues volume two is out !

finally, a reason to get a little loud-- temperatures today managed to stay mostly out of the 90-degree range for the first time in weeks, and news, not blues volume two is out !

feel free to dance a smidge.

 copies are patiently awaiting contact with your fingertips at clayote, twin turrets inn, the boyertown community library, hard bean cafe, the boyertown farmers' market, gently used books, kimberton whole foods (douglassville-style), national penn bank's new hanover branch, freed's supermarket, and suloman's dairy.

also, included are three freebies to win out of our four stories in this volume. up for grabs with some witted luck are a pottery-making session, a hillbilly bbq special sandwich, and a one-pound package of grass-fed beef. the stories will be online shortly. comment on them to try to win some clay-time or grub !

26 July 2010

win a $5 gift card for gently used books !

gently used books of douglassville has kindly donated four $5 gift cards for us to give away with news, not blues. we'll be giving away one of those four gift cards every few weeks. today starts the contest for the first gift card.

comment below on this post to enter for a chance to win the gift card ! 


thankfully, despite the dreadful current condition of the national and even our local economy, gently used books is doing considerably well.

in fact, in recent months, the store expanded from two rooms to three rooms. with this recession taking its toll across the board, this news about a local used bookstore, or any  business, is a refreshing point.

the middle room of the store is dedicated solely to a wide collection of used children's books, which are a great way for parents to find cheap copies of classics and for new elementary school teachers to begin filling their classrooms with plenty to read to their students.

and beyond that, the selection available because of trade-ins is also something that makes this store a unique, valuable asset to our region. plus, purchases can include 50% store credit usage via trade-ins. quite a deal !

25 July 2010

dale mccauley just won some milk !

dun dun dun.

congratulations to dale mccauley ! he is the winner of gallon of white milk from suloman's dairy through the contest sponsored by news, not blues. his name scooped well on a slip of paper from this bag with the other 22 contestants' names.

 thank you  so much to all of you who participated. 

suloman's dairy has enthusiastically agreed to run more giveaways in the future, so stay especially tuned !

22 July 2010

( friend, inc. gets tires spinning with brake the cycle of poverty in kutztown )

friend, inc. gets tires spinning with  
brake the cycle of poverty in kutztown
by jennifer hetrick

the multi-purpose social service agency friend, inc. is hosting its first ever brake the cycle of poverty bike ride sunday the 8th of august beginning at kutztown park, where registration tables will be open at 8.30 a.m. 

rides start at 9.00 a.m. and will be marshaled until 11.00 a.m.

kutztown-based friend, inc. aims to help those in need of financial, family, legal, emotional, and other forms of support in the northeastern region of berks county.

the agency’s primary goal is promoting self-sufficiency leading to better lives.

under the belt of its services offered are case management, a monthly food pantry, emergency cash assistance, and more.

“there are so many different situations that affect us in this kind of economy—we have to serve an array of needs,” executive director erica hesselson said.

“even donors are trying to spend less, and the need has increased, so resources are becoming depleted faster,” hesselson noted.

in times with more distinct budgetary restrictions, hesselson pointed out that it’s not just cash assistance but also people’s time, expertise, and connections that can boost the agency’s abilities to promote self-sufficiency to those in need. families that friend, inc. works with usually have trouble affording rent and are in one way or another, devastated by job losses.

“people can help because of who they are,” hesselson said, “not just because of what they have.”

“we work with families and individuals to help people create long-lasting positive change in their lives—helping them to navigate the system,” hesselson said.

“people in this area are very hesitant to ask for help, but once they receive it, they are greatly appreciative,” hesselson said, adding that those who benefit from friend, inc.’s services often tell their family, friends, and neighbors about the agency, leading to more referrals and assistance.

a popular program open to the community through friend, inc. is a six-week parenting course available to families at any income level.

in the past year, hesselson juggled ideas for a new kind of fundraiser to keep monetary backing of the agency continuing well despite the recession—finally deciding to host a bike ride to reel in area cyclists for the worthy cause.

a bicycling enthusiast herself, hesselson explained that brake the cycle of poverty came into shape because the agency hoped to develop a new family friendly fundraiser that would also bring people out for some good gulps of fresh air and exercise, as those who are often out on two slender tires know bike riding is very popular in this area.

the idea also cultivated with organizational support offered by kevin claypoole of the area ski group known as the flying dutchmen.

“cathy dill, the office and projects manager at friend, inc. looked up brake the cycle of poverty online and came across a group of cyclists from connecticut with this [same] name,” hesselson said. “they bike across the country and the state of connecticut to raise money and awareness about poverty and homelessness.”

( connecticut's brake the cycle of poverty riders 
on their 2010 ride. photograph by joan terzo. )

( the connecticut riders of brake the cycle of poverty 
in line at their 2010 ride. photograph by joan terzo. )

in fact, two of this out-of-state group’s cyclists will be pedaling in kutztown at friend, inc.’s upcoming august ride, thanks to the connection dill made after that quick internet search.

“i think this is more innovative,” hesselson said about the pro-biking event. “there are so many bikers in the area with the velodrome being so close.”

taking those factors into account led to a smooth transition of incorporating the mind-body-spirit concept in biking with the need to work on ending poverty on the local level.

as members of the berks county bicycle club are scattered throughout the region, this event is likely to appeal to that audience of wheeled ones as well.

brake the cycle of poverty includes two rain-or-shine route options—one easy sweep of 10 miles and a more hill-heavy curve of roads totaling 25 miles.

registration the day of the event is $35, with early registration for $25. children under age 12 are welcome to pedal their hearts out for free when they’re not living it up in the fun and games planned for kiddies.

lunch is free for riders, and up to 143 of those biking will receive a free t-shirt just for participating. 

skyline bicycles & skateboards of reading kindly donated this khs alite 150 mountain bike, with shimano components and disk brakes, for a lucky winner to be picked out of those buying $5 raffle prize tickets. 

the bike's retail value is listed at $450.00.

sponsors of brake the cycle of poverty include kutztown borough, lehigh valley health network, adams outdoor advertising, carpenter technology, deka of east penn manufacturing, johnson & johnson, penske corporation, the bottom line accounting and tax services, powerbar, LAND DISPLAYS, deer park water, skyline bicycles & skateboards, burkey construction company, and air products.

visit here to register for brake the cycle of poverty, or visit friend, inc.'s brake the cycle of poverty page on the web for more information.

20 July 2010

win a gallon of milk from suloman's milk store !

our second contest is underway !

visit suloman's milk store on facebook and add them as a friend. once the chum factor is set, comment on their facebook noting news, not blues to enter for a chance to win 1 gallon of white milk from their gilbertsville-based dairy and store.

to read more about suloman's milk store, skim back over this story about them from april or visit their website

the contest ends july 25th. pass the news around !  a winner will be chosen randomly and announced here, on the news, not blues facebook page, and on the suloman's milk store facebook page. good luck !

18 July 2010

ryan waterman just won a bar of soap !

an internet-persuaded drum roll please.

a winner's name was pulled from this hat. the names inked themselves across 16 recycled scraps of paper. 

congratulations to ryan waterman ! she is the certainly proud winner of one bar of handcrafted soap of her choice from oley's amber hills herbs & gifts through the contest sponsored by news, not blues. much gratitude to all of you who participated.  

 and here is just a sample of a few soap options for the lucky winner.




 amber hills herbs & gifts may run another giveaway in the future, so keep your eyes prepped and peeled !

17 July 2010

another four distribution sites, gang.

the first print volume of news, not blues is also now available at boyertown borough hall,  the new hanover branch of national penn bank, douglassville's kimberton whole foods, and clayote.

our first contest for some soapy affections ends tomorrow. go to the facebook page for amber hills herbs & gifts and comment noting news, not blues to enter-- you still have some time ! look for the announcement of the lucky winner tomorrow ! 

if you would like to receive the PDF version of news, not blues by e-mail in the future, please contact us at newsnotblues@gmail.com. our upcoming release dates for august are the 1st and 15th of the month. have a splendid weekend and mind the heat !

15 July 2010

join us friday night at clayote's grand re-opening !

an outing !

please visit us and many other well worth-meeting individuals and groups at clayote's grand re-opening friday night, the 16th of july from 5.30 to 9.00 p.m.

this pro-community event is at 1 east philadelphia avenue in boyertown, at the corner of routes 73 & 562.

local types are invited to check out the grand re-opening where some of those who are making efforts to contribute positively to the community are gathering to chat it up, share ideas, and offer freebies.

we'll have copies of the first edition of news, not blues available for those who stop by, and for the kiddies, goodie bags choc full of fun will be up for the taking by 30 lucky little ones.

stop out and say hello !

14 July 2010

two more distribution sites !

the first print volume of news, not blues is also available for you to scoop up at freed's supermarket market in gilbertsville and the hard bean cafe in boyertown. unfortunately, the cafe is already out of its copies, so more will be dropped off soon ! spread the word news, not blues !

13 July 2010

( stonekeep meadery: introducing a local renaissance for mead production )

stonekeep meadery: introducing a local
renaissance for mead production
by amy strauss

picking through numerous pounds of fresh peaches at frecon farms, of boyertown, a few years back, sheree krasley prepped one of the introductory meads she and her partner, marc johnson, would soon produce.

together, at a rousing evening of throwing weapons' practice, marc johnson, a native to birdsboro and krasley, of limerick, first spoke of their soon-to-be entrepreneurial friendship.

johnson, an active participant in the local chapter of the society of creative anachronism—an international-based group whose members willingly appreciate and recreate life as it was during the middle and renaissance ages, with costumes, craft guilds, courtly dances, archery, and mugs of mead—met krasley through the gleeful group, one of which she too is a lively affiliate.

following an energetic night laden amongst axes, knives, and gauntlets almost two years ago, the medieval assembly, who happens to journey up-and-down the east coast and also to nova scotia, conceptualized a partnership sculpted around an appropriate, historically-inspired meadery.

( marc johnson and sheree krasley are the operating duo behind 
stonekeep meadery of birdsboro. photograph by amy strauss )

"mead is such an ancient drink," revealed johnson. "yet, every couple of years, it makes its reemergence."

correct in his statement, the ancient beverage—also known as "honey wine"—is enjoying a renaissance of sorts in southeastern pennsylvania, particularly with recent help from johnson and krasley's blends, recognized under the moniker, stonekeep meadery.

stonekeep meadery, bred in birdsboro, is branded with a castle themed logo and situated in a certified, pristine space of johnson's home where he produces nine bottled blends with ingredients like honey, yeast, water, and ranging flavorings. the meadery's recipe roundup is concocted from original and historic documents that are suggested to date back as far as before the 16th century.

( a close-up of the black currant label of stonekeep meadery, 
as designed by co-owner sheree krasley. photograph by amy strauss)

stonekeep's product, in its basic form, is an alcoholic beverage made from fermenting honey (diluted with water) and yeast. identified by many as "honey wine," due to the fermentable sugars in the substance that are sourced from the main product—the honey—the liquid substances also make use of additives like fruit, spices, and malt.

  (a lineup of johnson's bottled blends displaying how honey from different 
seasons vastly changes the color of your meads. photograph by amy strauss)

soon rounding out their second established year, the meadmakers report that they processed over 5,000 pounds of honey within their liquids this year, which is up from last year's total of 4,000 pounds. already optimistic and striving to match their need for next year, the local creators project that they will make use of 7,000 pounds.

"we started raising hives of our own," said johnson. "right now, we have three hives, but we know we won't have an excessive amount at first. we will probably begin making a small reserve using just our honey."

( sheree krasley of stonekeep meadery demonstrates the complexities 
of wildflower honey,  as well as the different shades of colors created specific 
to the season in which it was produced. photograph by amy strauss)

however, fulfilling their demand for honey within their mead production would mean that they'd need to raise 100 to 150 hives, almost impossible for both partners who also work daytime jobs outside of the meadery.

( a comparison of how much honey stonekeep purchases against what the typical 
consumer buys, the infamous honey bear. photograph by amy strauss )

johnson, a software engineer, and krasley, an agent in collections and record gathering, together follow the regulations for holding a license as a pennsylvania-winemaker, which specifies that producers must use state-based agriculture.

for example, in the recent strawberry season, stonekeep purchased 600 pounds of berries in morgantown, which they used to produce their popularly-sweet strawberry mead.

“we process meads that are very diverse," explained johnson. "some are very sweet, very dry, heavy, or light with a crisp. mead has a full range of characters and is not just one entity."

the alcohol content of their meads varies too and can range from very low to very high, added johnson.

other varieties of the local meadery, aged from 10 months to two years, include a black currant melomel, perfect for those who adore red wines; a hibiscus metheglyn, a crisp mead with a citrus-like taste of hibiscus flowers; an elderberry melomel, booming with earthly flavors; and a vanilla ginger, described as a fragrant, delicate sip.

the approachable blends are available for purchase and pickup, as well as at their specialized tasting room, which is appropriately located at frecon's orchard outlet. varying bottles of mead are also at area restaurants including sly fox brewhouse and eatery of phoenixville, teresa's of wayne, and bube's brewery of mount joy.

"we love educating the public about what mead is," concluded krasley. "we have become very good at suggesting recommendations toward the tastes you are most drawn to."

"there's a stigma with wine that that if you don't know everything, people are afraid to ask questions," said johnson. "mead doesn't have that—we are more than willing to answer any questions and change the misconceptions people have about mead."

visit stonekeep online at www.stonekeepmeadery.com

this story is also in the print edition of news, not blues volume 1.

11 July 2010

our first contest-- win a bar of hand-crafted soap !

our first contest is under way ! if you're up for the possibility of winning a bar of hand-crafted, nature-smacked soap, search for amber hills herbs & gifts on facebook.

once you're at the amber hills herbs & gifts facebook, comment noting news, not blues,  and you'll be entering yourself for a chance to win the soap-scent of your choice.

scent varieties include many geared toward the ladies, a few aimed at the olfactory setups of men, and some neutral ones too.

here is a sampling of the scent offerings available for a win--

clary sage & vanilla, blackberry amber, be happy, cucumber melon, grapefruit and bergamot, patchouli, twilight woods, chocolate cherry, honey & oatmeal, lemon & lavender, beneath the stars, vanilla noel, nag champa, very sexy for men, caribbean coconut, eucalyptus & lemon, vanila & sandalwood, and sleepy time.

to learn more about this oley soap-maker and her shop, read this story and this review available word-wise care of the garden harlot

the contest ends july 18th. pass the news around !  a winner will be chosen randomly and announced here and on the amber hills herbs & gifts facebook page. good luck !

10 July 2010

( notable neighbors -- maureen lloyd nolan )

notable neighbors -- maureen lloyd nolan
by jennifer hetrick

gilbertsville resident maureen lloyd nolan, as a spinner of wool, bottler of garden inspired vinegars, and appreciator of herbal remedies, easily considers herself a woman of the earth.

“i’ve been knitting since i was about eight years old,” nolan said, noting that a friend of her mother taught her the needle-tapping skills.

( maureen lloyd nolan knits peacefully. photo courtesy of the earthy woman herself.)

in the 1990s, nolan ventured to coopertstown, new york for museum schooling. while there, she told the weavers at the farmers’ museum she wanted them to teach her their art, but they expressed that first, she’d have to spin.

she quickly picked up on how to card flax, a more difficult to spin fiber. this entailed banging fibers to soften them, then working them through combs to align all the fibers together, followed by spinning.

“i clean the wool and card it in the end of summer when the garden’s almost gone,” nolan explained, with spinning reserved for the chillier months.

( the wheel itself, purchased as used but ever-reliable. )

nolan’s usual final products are rugs and scarves, as she said for her, a yarn should show through and speak for itself.

“there’s something cosmic about spinning,” she added. “it’s probably up there with fire because once we stopped wearing furs, we wore woven cloth made on a drop spindle.”

(maureen lloyd nolan spinning up a storm of wool yarn.)

( some gatherings of wool post-spinning. )

nolan often incorporates dyes into her yarns from plants including thistle and the skin from onions.

“there’s a zen with spinning—going back and forth,” she admitted, with the wheel’s clack-cluck something she calls comforting.

having always felt magnetism toward traditional women’s work, nolan values the strong social structure and support in the idea of weaving and knitting groups as well as the lessons she’s learned in practicing midwifery.

along the crest of a hill in her backyard is a stretch of land known as the wise woman garden where she grows an array of multi-purpose herbs.

in narrow glass homes are the specialty vinegars nolan bottles in the warm season, including sage, oregano, bronze fennel, raspberry, and a summery chive blossom brand.

 ( bronze fennel. )

( chive plants boasting of purple tops on neck-like green stems. )

“it helps to release the flavor of tomatoes and other fruits and vegetables,” she said about vinegar.

nolan also makes bath salts in addition to tiny dream pillows fluffed with dried mugwort and hops.

“mugwort is a really good plant for anxiety,” she said, detailing that dreams are agreeably provoked by mugwort and that some people think the result is an expression of their subconscious.

“hops tea is kind of bitter but very relaxing,” nolan elaborated about the beer-associated plant she includes in the dream pillows she gives away as gifts to loved ones, along with her homemade vinegars.

 when nolan helped women with homebirths, if they were struggling early on in the labor, she frequently brewed them a cup of hops tea.

other herbs in her garden include tansy, an asian-cooking herb which she claims works wonders as an insect repellent, and comfrey, an eventually invasive plant known for its healing benefits.

(  tansy growing in the wise woman garden. )

( comfrey perched in half-fuzzy, sky-aimed strokes in the wise woman garden. )

what she didn’t pick up on in remedy-speak while she traveled with midwives years ago, she absorbed from her mother, like taking fennel seed tea to help an upset stomach.

( a hops plant trails upward in maureen lloyd nolan's backyard. )

“we try to live by the cycles of nature,” nolan said about her family, with her spinning time saved for winter and work with the vegetables and herbs encompassing each summer.


this story is also in the print edition of news, not blues volume 1.