Monday, December 8, 2014

The Year winds down - heartbreak and hope

 I awoke this morning with a thought on my popped in unexpectedly and uninvited... autism is not a disability as much as it is a way of life. 

I could never predict  and I would have been wrong had I tried to predict where life would go... what Andrew would do or not do, accomplish or not accomplish ... where he would be at age 20... how we would care for him or survive the rigors of caring for a severely disabled individual.  

There is a mercy in not knowing.. a mercy in being spared a view into the future... there is a grace in retrospect that knowing now what we know would we have done all we have done for him in the early  years.  Would we have short changed him? Not tried quite so hard... not struggled quite so much... not dreamed quite so big?  

I believe life is meant to be lived in the present.. not what was..what could be or might be, but instead living firmly in the present of what is... I count seconds not hours and I count days not months. 

Andrew's care is firmly rooted in day to day. Like many individuals with severe disabilities Andrew lives in the moment... his moods can fluctuate from giddily happy to morosely sad all in the blink of 5 minutes. I try not to soak up his moods, but instead to float above them, understanding they ebb and flow like the sea. No one has any answers or predictions.  Just live for the day... have no happy in the happy moments... and cautiously wait for the serious moments to move past. I revel in the smiles, rejoice in the laughter and securely hold the sad times at bay, hoping they will not return, but knowing they will. 

Andrew has entered a new realm this year.. an unforeseen and heretofore, untrampled path that has now been carved in my memory. Seared in emotional pathways and secured like the tracks of a railroad... one episode after another ... feeling so long and drawn out, but really only moments in time.  

And so it came to pass that this was the year that Andrew would develop a seizure disorder... not a mild seizure disorder, a slight lapse in consciousness or a tiny tremble of a hand or closing of the eyes, but instead a huge upheaval in the brain, an opening and closing of neurons and pathways... pathways that I picture snapping on and off like little firecrackers... only guessing what that might feel like in his brain... how uncomfortable that is.. how frightening... how engulfing of one's spirit. The inability to control one's limbs.  The flashing of lights perhaps? a tingling? a pain? What does this feel like that takes a human's soul to this netherworld of unconsciousness.. flipping, and clenching and taking over the body for those moments of misery.   

And so we lost a lot this year... lost our faith that all will go well... or at the very least progress... lost our resilience to a certain degree... and lost our ability to not have him in our sights at all times...without a pang of worry and fear that this monster of neurons would appear unexpectedly knocking him to the ground without our being aware. 

We have weathered this storm for now... not secure that it has passed but simply feeling that the squalls will come and go and tides will ebb and flow whether we are on board or not.... we just ride this ship as unwilling passengers... but we follow it where it takes us. 

After two emergency room visits we are beginning to piece some bits back together.. some little pieces of our existence returning with a small measure of confidence. We rely  on the anti seizure drugs to do whatever it is they do... but we monitor them carefully, because at times these medications are more sinister than the seizures themselves and they are not our friends, but only our uncomfortable  partners. 

Andrew has returned to working in the shop... though less than he used to... we are happy to have him... and we love him dearly as always.. there is no diminution of parental love despite the hardships... life truly does march on. 
Cutting wooden skewers for our paper trees - getting back into life.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Does the disability define you?

For the last week or two I have struggled with my own mind, and in my own way tried to find peace with decisions that I make or do not make regarding my son's needs... I have no guru... I have only ME.

Does the disability, in our case, autism/neurological disorder, define me or us as a family? I asked myself that question,  and was faced with a very stark reality,  and an honest appraisal of my own naked truth.

The answer came to me some time on Tuesday of this week when I was totally alone with my thoughts. I gave this question my full undivided attention, which is something I don't usually do as I am generally multi tasking and overwhelmed with multiple thoughts.

The answer... the honest answer was  YES it does define me.  Yes it does. I admit that to myself.  I have created a sphere or a parallel universe that I glide in and out of that for certain defines me, directs me, motivates me, discourages me, depresses me, elates me and passionately influences me every single day in one way or the other.

I can never look at clouds the same way... I can never know truly what a quiet house sounds like, for as long as Andrew lives with me, it is never quiet. I can not know  what it feels like to simply grab a jacket and go... that easy slipping through the door feeling with one's keys in one's hands ready to race away... I cannot race away... there is no "away."  I carry autism with me every single minute of every single day.   It IS a part of who I am.

I have come to the realization that I have isolated myself these last few years for a reason, it was not accidental, it was not happenstance... it was an intentional guarding of my soul, to prevent real life from crowding in and asking questions: Are you happy? How do you do this?  Don't you want a life? You cannot do this forever? Isn't this too much for you? I could never do this.. I don't know you do this every day. Can't you put him somewhere?  The last question is my personal favorite.

Can't I put him somewhere - there is never a hint of where that somewhere is... who lives in that somewhere... who provides the care, love and support that I do... just a vague reference to "somewhere."

I found myself alternately alienated from people, repulsed or just depressed by their commentary. My comment to someone this week when discussing Andrew's very difficult set of circumstances and care needs that "Love is messy.. and love should be unconditional... do I say I only love you when it's easy? Or do I really love you all the time even when it is very hard...

I had to ask these questions of myself many times and still do. Could I put him "somewhere" sure wherever that somewhere is I am sure he is entitled to a free pass to gain entry. He is very disabled and worthy of a spot "somewhere" but then I ask myself who will sing Happy Birthday and mean it.. Who will look at his face if it is flushed and take the time to figure out if he is sick or has a fever. Who will watch his excitement when he rips his and everyone elses Christmas presents open? WHO lives in this somewhere with my son... ? I simply don't know and for right now I do not want to know.

I made a committment to him and more importantly to myself.. my own ethics, following my own moral compass for what is right what is wrong, and though I know that somewhere IS in his future as I have not determined how to live forever... It will be in MY time, MY way and MY choosing... not prematurely or rashly determined by the whim and pressure from society that coddles the "normal."

I know I don't control life and things could change that would force my hand... but for now autism does define me - it has left its mark - it has made me live in the present more than most people do... be present fully in each and every good moment and not take anything for granted.

I watch him suffer and also watch his joy... he loves clouds and so do I. I am compelled to  direct my eyes skyward and look with the same wonder that he does... he has taught me that.. live in the moment and revel in the most simplest times of joy.

Take time for joy...


Saturday, August 30, 2014

Giving in does not mean giving up - letting go - rethinking - the world of rethinking the difficult and imagining the possible

I write"and think quite a lot about living with an individual with a disability.   "With" perhaps is not the key word in this case... perhaps living  "around" around an individual with a disability would be more suitable.

"With" reflects a "cooperative or mutually agreeable cohabitation" whereas living "around" means perhaps we revolve around each other often times not in the same spheres of communication, personal space features or ideas.

Living around I think captures the idea of the journey, the difficulties and the adjustments.

For instance, I like to drink my tea out of  hand thrown mugs or pottery, a Starbucks  ceramic also satisfies my urges to put my liquid in a suitable container.

In the world of our particular disability, autism, ceramic cups, mugs or other  reasonably accommodating containers are not allowed and must be strictly prohibited.  How do I know this whilst living with an individual who is nonverbal? Ahhh well it appears that each time a mug or ceramic drinking vessel came into his line of vision, it was necessary to  secure its demise by dropping it effortlessly on the travertine stone floor. It smashed ceremoniously and with great flair sending chunks and pieces everywhere - a handle under the couch, a lip under the table and various minute shards elsewhere to be vacuumed and swept up.  Was it the look of the implosion - was it the sound or both? It must have created a sensation that in his world is missing and this activity satisfies that need.

On occasion, if possible, I will swoop in to catch the item mid air and quickly remove it from sight. Those occasions, however, are rare.

There is no malice in the action - to this day I don't understand this need to break ceramics - it also includes pottery for plants and certain specific types of ceramics (Corningware seems to be excluded), it has to be the real deal for the most part - hand thrown, crafted with care - and cherished.. those are always the first to go.

I have a box in the barn of shards of various pottery that will make a lovely mosaic table  top some day.

Pieces and slivers of pottery decorate my garden as a living tribute to the mass exodus and demise of my favorite pieces. The Starbucks- made in China mug- must have slipped through the cracks of the "breakage manual" as it is neither hand made, nor one of a kind, nor cherished.... liked, but not cherished.  

And so,  I now drink out of a variety of cups that have absolutely no meaning,  no soul, and are esthetically  unpleasing and  of course unbreakable, a mish mosh of metal travel mugs and ugly plastic containers.

How do we make peace in this war of differences?  I am still working on it as I rebel  every single time I drink from a plastic mug.  We have plastic cups as well for cold drinks which also send shivers down my spine...

I have many mini battles with this type of  living condition and have yet to win this war,  but I make adjustments daily and  attempt to stay ahead of the "autism handbook" that requires destruction of those things that I hold dear.

My clothing can have no labels, not shirts, jackets, jeans, purses, totes. This ban on labels also extends to shower curtains, appliances and even furnaces. Anything that has the nerve to don a label must be adjusted and that label must be ripped  without hesitation from the offending item.  This label ban also extends to those little tiny labels that computers like to sport that tell you what type of processor gizmos are on board your new laptop.. yes those go as well.   Serial numbers on refrigerators are noticeably absent and cause a bit of concern when you are trying to arrange for a repair or part as you have no idea what serial number or model number was originally part of this appliance.

I have made up many excuses as I see quizzical looks from appliance repair persons. Why do these people have no identification numbers on their large appliances, who rips those labels off a nut case? A clean freak ? I scrubbed them off by accident is my usual reply. Easier and quicker to lie in this case.

Hoods have also come under fire, any hood, every hood. "Hoodies" not a  viable word in this household. There are no hoodies or hoods on anything... In fact all sweatshirts have been remodeled to include a hoodless version, frayed and tattered at the neck seam giving them a shabby chic distressed look.  One sweatshirt only lasted about 2 hours after arriving as a Holiday gift.

I believe my VIN\ number from my car would also be missing if I did not lock my doors.  I found it oddly humorous that on an occasion of an outing while passing the back of my car, he ripped off an "autism awareness" sticker. Perhaps he felt we were all aware enough? It was shredded without remorse and left in a pile by the back tire.. So much for awareness.

And so it goes day by day - living around Andrew is to change one's life in small and big ways - drinking from a plastic cup is my accommodation - hiding my clothes and putting locks on closets is a way to cope.

I am not giving up or necessarily giving in - I am succeeding and trying to outwit the autism handbook. I am not sure what  chapter is next, but I know there will be  a new chapter as shredding beach towels  arrived just last week. ONLY beach towels. The handbook must be very specific.

With tongue in cheek I  had the audacity to add ONE hand thrown mug to my collection again hoping he will not  notice, so far it is still surviving, but I carefully carry it everywhere as to leave it alone in the kitchen is to predict it's shattered demise.

Accommodate when you can - rejoice - find joy in the little things - and always try to remember that life is about challenges and changes...



Thursday, August 28, 2014

Resilience - Autism - Following your own energy

My mantra for this time in our collective lives is TRUST yourself - Follow your own innate energy.

If I had a dime for the amount of advice I have been given by "well respected, knowledgeable experts" in the field of autism, I would be writing to you from a beach in Fiji or perhaps not, perhaps a beach on the Maine coast since I am more bent to lean in that direction.

But nevertheless I am sure I would not be here...

We have been dealing with autism for 17  years... diagnosed at age 3 and now age 20... no one gave us a road map and perhaps it is good that they did not since the road has been bumpy, tumultuous, paved oftentimes with tears, gnashing of teeth, frustration, sorrow, and joy.

There is no way to predict where or how your particular son or daughter will fare. I did all the "right things" intensive early intervention hours and hours of it, but the reality of that was and is that for some individuals the neurological damage is too hard wired... too intensely convoluted for any therapy to alleviate all or even most of the symptoms. You can hope for remediation of some... but we have found when we push a few down, a few more surface.. never ending. .. My friend calls it the whack a mole syndrome...

The child you have at 5 is a far cry from the individual you see at 15, 18 or 20.  

We engaged in ABA and all of the bells and whistles that that entails, discrete trial, antecedent tracking, behavioral tracking, 10 second interval data, this data that data - none of it in the end meant a hill of beans,  mainly because those tasked with "collecting" these reams of useless papers never put the data to any good use.   Many of our fire pit bonfires  have been ignited with useless "data" and IEP notices.

We collected and collected and collected but no conclusions were ever arrived at. No strategies ever offered and no interventions tried to reduce reduce those behaviors they were collecting data on in the first place. More data followed more data.  I was buried in data.  I was told often "we don't have enough data points." When he began to punch himself in the head from frustration I was told the "data points did not indicate he had enough head hits to warrant an intervention." As a parent I asked myself isn't one head hit too many ? Isn't anyone going to push a panic button, hold a meeting, yell FIRE - we need to act?

Surprisingly no one did--- it was as if it is and was expected - you know kids with autism do all sorts of weird stuff  - so we will just observe and oh ...yes... collect more data. When the "data points" hit a certain mark and/or he loses consciousness (which ever comes first) we will have a meeting to talk about the data.  I say this tongue in cheek, but in reality that is basically what happened.

To that end, this year at age 20 I have decided to take interventions into my own hands... follow my own heart, my own internal ticking that tells me what to do or not do.. I am not always right, but sadly and wickedly my interventions based on observation, instinct and love have proven in many cases to be spot on.

If I had one word for parents battling this battle, follow your heart.. your gut and your instinct.. Buck the data collectors and save your child... do not let the data collection go on and on while your child needlessly suffers... stand up, speak up and change your world...

cate for Andrew

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

And so it goes - autism plus or autism unchained

For most parents living with kids on the spectrum, especially on the severe end of the spectrum, we hear about the "epilepsy" connection - the high incidence of seizures - hoping to dodge that bullet..  I thought we had. Andrew was past the early teens finger crossed one less thing to worry about.

But it was not meant to be.  He had two seizures in the course of a month. Big huge seizures that take my breath away and  take me back to a new level of anxiety. His poor brain, so besieged as it is neurologically speaking, now has to undergo this assault.  On top of that the seizure caused a fall which caused a concussion and laceration. He was out of it for days after and required a visit to the E.R.

But, thankfully he is back now - doing some work again for Papercatz and resuming his role as my most loved assistant. He is tough, difficult by anyones' standards, but I love him and so life goes on.

Grace in retrospect that we had many years without seizures, and prayers for the future to be seizure free some day.

Will have to post some new pictures of andrew working. This week he worked on new cotton muslin tags.  Very sweet and special for summer. Andrew shredded all of the cotton used to make the tags.

cate :)

Saturday, July 5, 2014


High summer as opposed to low summer which in my tradition hits in August - the dog days of summer - hot and muggy. High summer are those blue sky days where there is less humidity and more ability to breathe.  Those GTBA days (Good to be alive days)... I look at the crystal azure skies and I am happy to breathe in the cooler air. Today is one of those days, and the sky is putting on its show of crystal blue that I cannot stop looking upward to admire...

Today the chickens got a treat that to them is the caviar of treats BUTTERNUT SQUASH.

This mini flock are Belgian D'uccles - bantam chickens small in size, but big in personality.

They adore butternut squash - cooked of course.
Shrimp with cucumber - Yum
Fouth of July celebration cupcakes and the old Red, White and Blue

Braveheart on the right coming up for air with a beak full of butternut. Blondie on the left is a little wary.
Tessa second from left never came up for air and ate till it was all gone. 

Friday, June 20, 2014

Show time

I don't do a lot of shows, but the ones I do I like. Good to meet the people behind the keyboard and to see new clients and enjoy meeting up with  people I have met before.

I spent the last week painting pots and potting plants, making banners and paper flowers. Mason Jars are a popular theme right now and I find them simple,  yet timeless.

I have painted, painted again, sealed and prepped more Mason Jars then I care to recall. Included in this prep work are ribbons and sanding... so it is  nice to see it all come together.

Creating new beginnings

I am always concerned and interested in creating new products. Never satisfied to sit contentedly with what "is" I am always looking for "what's next" or what "will be."

Creating a line of products that are customer friendly and earth friendly are in my thoughts frequently, while constantly striving to keep my young helpers interested and motivated,.

Our shop was born from the need to create employment for our son, Andrew, who at age 3 was diagnosed with autism. Autism has become a far too common household word and almost everyone can name someone they know with autism, either family or friends.

Unfortunately, Andrew was diagnosed with classic autism, nonverbal, struggling and at times difficult.  We make each day a new day and try not to "keep score" of the failures or false starts, but instead focus on new beginnings and new hopes and dreams.

He has had a difficult time this past month suffering a seizure for the first time. It is a little known fact  that individuals with more severe autism frequently suffer seizures either as young children or as they emerge into adulthood. It is a scary, complex and unwanted part of what is already a complex situation.

And so we move forward slowly, carefully and with hope that his seizure disorder will be mild and can be controlled and managed.  He has been slowly returning to his job at Papercatz and will be busy today helping me get ready for a show on Saturday.

Recently while working in the garden,  I looked down to see a little heart shaped leaf had stuck itself to my foot. I took it as a sign of good faith and love from mother nature as I treasure my time outdoors.
A bit of love from Mother Nature. 

Sunday, June 8, 2014

The chickens are coming

Well in the past few weeks I wrangled a new chicken coop for some new birds that have joined the menagerie.

Bearded, booted Belgian D'uccles - long name for bantam (small sized) chickens with lots of feathers on the their feet and also little feathers that stick out like beards around their face.

They were released today for the first time and seem to be loving being all that chickens can be..

Many people tell me they don't like chickens and I can never figure out why. They are harmless, comical, social and easy keepers. Food, water, shelter and they are content.

There are four - supposedly hens  - 2 are roosters - they were "mock fighting" today hope they don't take it to the next level. Chest bumping each other in a very energetic dance.

The other two are hens very timid and pleasant. Friendly and docile - this breed is a lovely pet. They lay small beige eggs. Three eggs make a nice scrambled egg omelet.

A brave hen taking a tentative first step. 

A rooster making his way down backwards... now who is doing it better?  hmmm 

Monday, May 19, 2014

Kokedama fever - Japanese string plants - or plants without pots

Kokedama is not an illness nor a real fever but the art of arranging by Japanese standards simple lines of plants inside a natural moss wrap.  A plant within a plant if you will.

The plant is selected and placed carefully in its own premade dirt/clay ball - surrounded with live moss - wrapped with simple twine and either suspended on a string (i.e. string plants) and/or placed on a pedestal or shallow platter.

Live moss surrounds the plant and your little fledgling is nestled carefully inside.  It is quite interesting. I love all things nature based so it was natural when I saw these little beauties that I had to try to duplicate.

Today is Kokedama day #1 - I will monitor to see how my little plants do in this new environment and mixture and success or failure will be carefully measured over the next two weeks.  Fingers are crossed.

If they maintain their health - they will become a staple of Papercatz products and be on display at local craft fairs and markets - I don't think shipping would be in their best interest.

How rustic and natural this would look on a sunroom table or shaded patio. 
 I could also see this as petite  party favors or  part of a rustic table setting.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

The joys of doing nothing - Autism - overscheduling and the need to let go...

When Andrew was 3 years old and newly diagnosed - my sole purpose was to find the "cure" the fix or at the very least the path to progress... I had no idea what the progress would look like..what form it would take...or how I would accomplish this ... I just knew I had to try  ...the "what" of this process and the "who" of the process I did not clearly understand - it was foggy, at times indiscernible and the pathway often meandered of--imaginary steep cliffs, rapids, swamps and quicksand made the journey fraught with distress ... frustrating, and horrifying for a mother trying so desperately to put herself and her son on this path to progress. Lack of staff, lack of understanding, lack of curriculum were our virtual roadblocks.

I never had a vision of what the end of this body of work would look like.. I never envisioned my son "cured" or as they say in the autism community "recovered." I saw only work, a curious ambition, a job and a journey.

Mercifully for many parents, your mind is so cluttered with the now that the future has to take care of itself since there is no energy left for that which is not directly in front of you on any given minute, hour or day.

And so we proceeded - researching websites, scholarly articles,  research journals and the like - looking at studies, scrutinizing the outcomes and trying an eenie, meenie, miny mo mentality to choose the correct path for our child.  I had no idea what to do  - only a vision of something better.

We worked within the ABA framework for many years -  totalling 17 years this present year... we worked for consistency, we worked for language, we worked for behavioral excesses, and we worked to work ...never daunting, never giving one inch to autism...some days putting in 14 hour days just to get by. Never letting our guard down, never forgetting the "principles" and in the end being somewhat tormented by the very principles we had looked to for guidance and deliverance.

I had no idea where I was going - how I would get there - or what would be the final product... would autism win this war - were we simply putting out fires and winning small skirmishes - or were we in fact pushing autism back over the border and letting" normal" invade enemy territory?

The answer was not simple, nor was it to be forthcoming quickly or succinctly - instead it was delivered in a series of events - deviations from the path - muddy meanderings from our path into  the jungles and mountains of all that autism is/has and can throw into a human's path toward success.

I could not see or foresee the future and so we plunged into the depths of this confrontation and gave it all we had from age 3 to the present almost 20 - 17 years... the question remains ...did we win? did we acquiesce to autism? The answer is not simple or clear.

What I believe we accomplished - now clearly  seeing in retrospective lenses - was holding the enemy at bay - sometimes losing skirmishes - gaining some ground - only to lose it again - and also succumbing to the reality that for many individuals with autism "recovery" is not possible.

Acceptance, resilience and clarity becomes tangible and comprehensible only after many years of battle. To digest all that you must endure, all that your child must endure is too much of a smorgasboard to swallow early in the journey. Instead you taste from entrees and appetizers  all preparing you for the eventual outcome.

We have landed... I can say after 17 years we have arrived at the place of convergence of all roads we had jogged, walked and trotted along the only map we were given.

We have not won, but we have survived ...sometimes that has to be enough.  The goal now is not to fill Andrew's day with scheduled activities that overwhelm  but to tune in further to what he might be trying to tell us.. to tune in to his moods, his attempts at communication and to honor where he is now and not be disappointed that the journey did not take us to where we had originally hoped.

We learned many bitter and happy lessons along the way - we appreciate Andrew's simplicity, enjoy his quirks and reflect on those things that appear to make him happy - we don't rush him along the path anymore to the next scheduled activity - we allow and approve and support cloud watching, sillly jumping and wind appreciation... there is no place he needs to be, and there is no rush any more to take him to places he was never meant to go.

Being present in the moment is our new way of being..accepting...coping and bouncing back.  We don't know where the road will take us next, but the next segment of this journey will be less circumscribed, more loosely formulated and will have no time table... Enjoy each day, accept each stepping stone, and be  happy in the present.

April is autism awareness month and I felt it would be fitting to give thanks to where we have been, the professionals who have helped us along the way and the soul of the journey, Andrew.


Sunday, April 20, 2014

REPURPOSED LIVES - happy resurrection

I spent this past weekend and the weekend before repuposing aluminum containers - giving them new life as flower holders, plant containers and just fun useable "green ware" for your pencils your kitchen or wherever you want to splash around a little bit of your own personality and pizzazz.

Lots of work but in the end I am happy with their little joyful images. Made me smile...

Penny, Paris & Peabody survived the long winter and are so happy to be outside again! 

Thursday, April 10, 2014


Should society offer its citizens warning labels- cautionary tales - adverse reaction symbols? Have we as a society become indifferent to the plight of our fellow members? Has our ability to live life peacefully been compromised in a fashion that we can never recover  peaceful and more gentler times?

I often ask myself if technology has been a boon or a bane of our existence... have we created "monsters" of technology, unwitting victims to the unrelenting videos, violence,  and disruptions of kindness. Have we exposed our more friable, impressive minds with so much input, 24  hour technological interference  and bombardment that we are creating a subset of individuals bent on destruction - their own and others.

Have we replaced parenting with technology? I believe in many cases... yes. One only has to glance around in the supermarket, toddlers crying in their strollers while mom gabs on  her cell - chatting amiably while tears run down baby's face.

Teens sit in the back seat texting while mom gabs on her blue tooth. Dad meanwhile outfits offspring with their own tablets for mindless game playing while he surfs emails, sports or internet.   No one is connecting to the person they are physically with,  but instead removing themselves from their geographical location to chat with someone miles away.  We are together but apart even when we are together.  Make sense?  No one is with the person they are with - but instead we are  living in parallel universes - chatting with people not present, while we are present with a real person... makes me crazy....

I am not a TV purist, or an anti information guru determined to suppress or withhold information from the public, in fact quite the opposite - I believe truthful information is powerful and empowering and has helped move our country forward.

What personally makes me cringe and actually panic is the TV/video/media feeds that I am exposed to quite involuntarily  and unexpectedly that throw my mind into revolt and disdain and actual anxiety.  I find it harder and harder and harder to extricate myself from the constant barrage of information, wanted or unwanted - it is there at your fingertips. Forcing you to pay attention - like an alien being taking over your thoughts, you find your eyes flicking back and forth between stimuli.

I have experienced recently the onset of media in my face at the supermarket flashing ads, recipes, information, commercial advertisement while I am forced to wait in line. I actually used to prefer standing quietly in line, just letting my mind wander, checking out the candy selections or the woman in front of me who was wearing very cool sandals.. but now I cannot avoid the input. I cannot turn it off.

At a diner    not long ago I found myself sitting at a booth with a media player on full display, blasting away a variety of tasteless stuff - flicking, flipping to scene after scene, much of it not appropriate for younger patrons. If I were a parent with young children I would have covered the indecency with a napkin.

I found it taking my attention from my friend - constantly pulling me in to look at its mindless ramblings and flashes. Annoying, intrusive and abusive.

I wonder - based on the events of these last few years - the shootings,  and now senseless stabbings at our schools - is it too much? Is it  too pervasive a force that is turning minds that may be impressionable and fragile into rage filled killers and machines bent on destruction.  WHY I keep asking. WHY?

I was working this weekend and had  flipped to an animal channel - National Geographic - safe I thought, pleasant... I looked up to see a cougar headed straight into the bucolic scene of a mother moose caring for her recently born calf... I did not have to finish the scene to know it ended badly and horribly... I could not switch the channel fast enough.

How do we know what this constant death and violence does to young brains?  How can children watch, what seems to be a lovely wildlife feature - only to find that in mere seconds - a cougar has a baby moose in its jaws killing it violently and in great detail for the children to digest.

The problem as I see it is that they cannot digest it. They cannot decipher it and it is disturbing to them.  Combine that with violent video games, and the rest of the mindless chatter we are subjected to daily and I believe it is not in any fashion providing stability to our teens and younger.

I find it so disturbing to watch TV myself I cannot even fathom young children watching  anything without violence now. It's rampant and overwhelming, and I cannot help but wonder how it affects the level of violence we continue to experience.

I brace for impact every day and I watch all things visual with a certain degree of trepidation and with a remote clutched in my hand ready for a quick switch... Sadly we are not offfered to OPTION OUT of the barrage. No, I don't want a table with a media flat screen, NO I don't want to watch this ad while I check out. I want to connect with the REAL world, REAL people and sadly I believe some of these young kids acting out in violence did not have enough of REAL  parenting, REAL people in their lives. .


Wednesday, April 2, 2014


Recently I had the opportunity to work on a black and white wedding - and for some reason the simplicity of black and white really appealed to me.

And so it comes to be that my shop is full of the color of the moment - right after this I am moving to hot pink and tangerine-- quite a difference - and I am ready. Though I loved making the flowers - I am always happen to move on to new colors.

And so it goes as this order goes to its intended bride - new colors will  visit the barn and just in time for spring!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Pot hole paranoia

Who would have thought that lurking under the ice and snow that buried our roads for the past two months were craters, pot holes and in some cases near virtual sink holes destined to swallow up all but the largest of vehicles with the largest of 4 wheelin' tires.

I have made even the most mundane trip to the local store into an adventure in driving. I steel myself for the event... I scowl and survey every bend and crook in the road. Some spots I have memorized and others catch me totally unaware with jaw jarring drops and thumps.

There are "safe routes" and surface of the moon routes popping with craters, heaves, creases and bumps.  I choose the former but I am continuously surprised by new holes popping up daily with the spring thaw.

Road crews even have signs as of late; Road work ahead pot hole repair.

Who thought of the term "pot holes?" Some are not like pots at all, but more like giant abysses or craters destined to swallow your vehicle whole.  What kind of pot were they thinking of ?   These are monster holes not anything that could be contained on a stove top!!

We have one more punch from winter coming later this week - one least wisp of a breath of cold air bringing perhaps (I pray not) MORE snow...  This makes even more challenging choosing a daily route as I am sure the storm will open up more pot holes that were just repaired, and I will have to memorize a new  routes, more swerving, more race car driving... shortly I hope the pot holes will be a thing of the past and I will be complaining about the heat and the squished mosquitoes on my windshield.

Cate :)    

Monday, February 10, 2014


Just a quick craft today to celebrate the romantic holiday fast approaching.

Sending Love....
Vintage Music paper 

Monday, February 3, 2014

Let it go....

Watching the snow fall again  I am always taken by  what snow can do for your inner soul - but only if you slow down to feel - listen - learn.

It blankets even the most crowded city street with a white sparkling blanket. It muffles noise and allows inner thoughts to be percolated without the intrusion of every day noises.  It settles cars in their driveways slumbering and waiting. It forces walks, talks and time to pause. It makes us STOP and it  makes us let go of  our usual routines.. settle in...pause...reflect and maybe be still in- watch and  learn.

 I hope we can enjoy it for what it is... a pause ... a break and a time to let go....

cate ~ peace

Sunday, January 26, 2014

SIMPLE DREAMS - The art of doing nothing...

It dawned on me the other day as I watched my cat lounging on the couch that to be a cat might not be a bad thing. She lounged with a sense of relaxation  only a cat could emulate.. I was jealous... It was 15 degrees outside.  We had been hit by two "polar vortexes" (buzz weather word this year) and yet she  seemed to have a devil may care cavalier attitude about all of it.  I pondered if I could squeeze next to her just to grab a little "cat nap." The sun was streaming in the front window and despite the cold outside the living room was toasty warm and the couch was incredibly inviting. I thought she might not mind sharing the space - she looked at me rather, peevishly , however and with an almost imperceptible eye brow lift as if to say "Don't crowd me."

But... my human nature overtook me and I thought about all the things I needed to do and chose instead to "work." I left the lounging to her.  I spent the day working and also thinking about the counter cultural split man versus pet and I was for just a few moments drawn into the simplest of thought processes. What would it be like to get up and have "nothing" to do but eat... sleep... play a a bit and sleep a bit more.  Would we humans tolerate such a schedule? Would our brains atrophy if we were to put them to such low level usage? Would we be happy returning to a simpler state of being like our furry friends? I cannot answer those questions for I have forgotten the art of relaxing... as have many of us.  We are surrounded by gadgets and gizmos that beg our attention and demand our fingers or eyes be engaged 24/7. I am annoyed by this lately, screens that grab our attention, phones that whistle, squawk, buzz, vibrate. Enough... I want to shout.. just be still.
Tabitha - lounging - 

Thomas, her brother, prefers the floor. 

Our carriage barn - chock full of crafty ideas

The polar vortex has created 4 foot icicles on the barn

Ruby often assists in the barn - she loves to lay by the pellet stove! 

I often dream about it, but work always calls me... I dream about being surrounded by piles of creative magazines and books and just reading and ripping out pages for future inspiration and having  just the time of my life in a sea of  magazines on my bed! Maybe one day I could live this dream.  I think about it a lot and often think about getting away to a massive farmhouse in New England with a few good friends and "nesting" enjoying company, conversation and the art of doing nothing...

Dreams can and do come true sometimes so I have not relinquished my hopes to launch these simple dreams.

cate :)

Monday, January 6, 2014

WINTER - 2014- CrAzY

Winter rolled in with blasts of weather that I can honestly not conjure up memories of weather so absurd, unpredictable and chaotic that it defies expectations.

Mornings that can start out at 0 degrees and turn into afternoons in the 40's and vice versa.

We saw a frigid cold of 2 just a few days ago - which was accompanied by a blast of snow to the depth of approximately 8 inches only to see that wiped out  a few days later with fog, torrential rains, and now mud with barely a trace of the 8 inches left a mere three days later.

We are expected to see frigid temps tonight near 1 degree - only to wake to a morning in the 50's.  It is rather interesting, bizarre but frightening.

an outdoor fire pit treated to a snowy cap!


frosty snow like winter's cupcake icing, perfectly formed and shimmering

Friday, January 3, 2014

Holidays - Love them - but need them to be over....

As much as the feverish ramp up to Holiday season leaves us gasping for air and pushing the midnight oil, I find I like it less and less... sad to feel that way..  but honestly I find myself yearning for a larger meaning to the whole spin of the season.

The stores begin to ramp up in October and there is a mad dash to get through Halloween, Thanksgiving and then the icing on the cake -- the crown of the holidays! Christmas.  The packages get opened, the food gets eaten and with a big sigh, a few hugs, an Alka Seltzer or two it's over. Slamming the door on another year.

Could it be better? more memory making? sincere? simple? authentic?  I'd like to think so, but it's  hard to change  years of history and store sabotage.

We had a simple tree in the barn - only 4 foot tall - fresh cut nearby - very dainty and simple - decked out in  paper ornaments, garlands and pinecones.  A larger tree stood outside dressed simply in lights. We made a bonfire in front of it on Christmas eve - but it was so chilly it was hard to sit there and not shiver! Wonderful snow flurries dressed the tree on the eve which was a magical event.

I truly long for a simple holiday - fresh snow falling, a panoramic view, a fire in the fireplace, a pie in the oven, and a simple enjoyment of friends/family bringing and sharing gifts from the heart and hands not stores.

I am going to try that next year and see what happens. Throw down the gauntlet to change the memories and create a new ideal Christmas holiday.

Papercatz tree in barn studio-decked out with paper and nature themed ornaments. 

pinecone decked out in sparkle-sparkly paper birds

burlap cardinal with clothespin

cranberry and evergreen mason jar with simple light table decoration