...coming to her senses... through a mandala of connections...
The Detroit metro area was home to us for over 25 years (my husband is an automotive engineer). Despite the fact that we were extremely involved in the community and loved our house (a 1927 Tudor Revival), my heart and soul were just never invested there. Some people say a “place is what you make it,” but that’s true only to a certain extent. I won’t get into just how hard I tried to make it a better place, you can find some of the story at Saints Preserved, if you’re interested.
Finally, our 3 sons were out of the nest, the automotive industry tanked, and I could run my online business from anywhere. So we looked around and discovered Berrien County, MI. (It’s in the far southwest corner, on Lake Michigan, within commuting distance to Chicago, and most Detroiters have no idea it exists.) We purchased a small passive-solar house on a wooded ravine, surrounded by orchards, vineyards and strawberry fields. That was 10 years ago and we have watched the expansion of wineries, breweries, agro-touring... (My husband, Randal, is a New Zealander, which means that he has a lot globe-trotting Kiwi cousins who have visited us. Here are a couple of comments: “This is truly a place of grace.”...“I think this is one of the few places I could happily live in other than New Zealand.”...)
In 2008, we purchased a large house in historic Buchanan MI, just 20 minutes to the south. I moved my studio to the ground floor there and we used the upper stories for rental to tourists and visitors/family. (We were one of the few places to stay and I have met many amazing people who have been our guests). More about that later.
Update September 2016: We sold our “Little House in the Woods” and have moved into the Buchanan House (pictured in various headers here). It took awhile to find the right buyers for the house (or for them to find us), but they are perfect and I know they’ll take great care of it. Nan Lundeen is an award-winning poet, writer and much more. Her husband, Ron is a journalist and photographer.
Boutique wineries were just springing up when we moved here. I was inspired to make my first new Anachron since the move: Vincent of Saragossa, patron saint of wine makers.
So I was amazed to find on my first visit to Domaine Berrien Cellars, St. Vincent wine. When I told Wally Mauer, one of the owners, that I was working on St. Vincent, he asked, “The St. Vincent?” Turned out we both thought virtually nobody but us knew about him. Today Wally and Katie are carrying on her parents’ dream of living and working in a place of grace.
My new studio afforded the space to do some experimenting, and I started to use glass from re-purposed wine bottles to craft some art-to-wear pieces.
By this time we were hosting a lot of out-of-town guests and taking them on wine tours. One of the wine-tasting hosts, Aggie, at the Round Barn, was always so gracious that I gave her a little gift of a brooch.
A few years passed. Aggie had moved on. I was asked to have a display at the Christmas craft fair at Fernwood. Reluctantly, I did. (I’m a little beyond the art-fair stage.) And who should be there but Aggie!? [Wo]manning the booth of the Michiana Herb Society. (They maintain the Fernwood herb garden around the dovecote, with funds raised by their annual tea.) She remembered me, and said I might like to come to a meeting where there would be a presentation on Hildegard Von Bingen.
I did attend. I loved the group. I became a member. (But I am just so stretched for time that I can’t participate as much as I would like to.)
Fernwood, a lovely botanical garden and nature center “in the middle of nowhere” was one of the things that attracted us to this area. (I also was able to donate, i.e., “unload,” over 75 accumulated gardening books to their library — a great relief to someone who must downsize, but has separation anxiety from her books.)
The presentation was given by Dr. Lillian Lewis (more about her to come) and Carole Svebakken (who have since become patrons and friends.)
. . .and that led to. . .
. . .the creation of my Hildegard Collection, launched at Fernwood in December 2011.
This video shows a bit of the exhibit, made especially fun by the singers doing gardening parodies written by Mike Nowak.
And yet another ring in the circle: Jan Ferris (who gave the introduction) was not only program director at Fernwood, but she is also my “Egg Lady” who provides us with beautiful eggs, in various sizes and colors, from her husband’s free-range hens.
Fernwood also carries select pieces from my collections in the gift shop.