Bread Fellow

Posted by on May 08 2012 | art, bread, education, gothean science

I am tickled right down to my toes to receive this beautiful poem from Paul Matthews, my dear Foundation Studies colleague at Emerson College in Sussex England. Paul led me artfully to explore the full potential of science and art working side by side, of pursuing silly-seriousness, serious insights pursued imaginatively and at times peripherally. For the truth, much like a heffalump, can only be trapped in an unsuspecting sort of way…

(for Warren Lee Cohen)

Wisdom is a word you like.
I never relished it,

but have admired how
(loping across the yard)
you knead the good earth
with knees and feet.

It is in this wise
that I’ve savoured you.

Even your homespun hat
seems a bowl preparing
a thoughtful yeast to rise.

Your sourdoughs and your ryes.
You’ve tasted good.

Dear Warren,
Here is the poem I was trying to write for you upon your
farewell from Emerson all those years ago.
Whether it still applies to the person that you now are, I am not sure,
but as a poem I like it (unless the lines beginning:
It is in this wise… should come after: a thoughtful yeast to rise).
Anyway, here it is.

Love to all,


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Waldorf Education in Rio de Janiero, Brazil

Posted by on Mar 13 2012 | education, Toronto Waldorf School, waldorf teacher education, workshops

We are fortunate at RSCT to be surrounded by a number of anthroposophical initiatives.  We share our campus with the Toronto Waldorf School, Arscura School of  Living Art, Hesperus Village Retirement Community, Pegasus anthroposophical medical practice, the Anthroposophical Society Library, My Child Myself and a Christian Community Church.  There are also a number of anthroposophical initives and Waldorf schools within easy reach of our centre: Waldorf Academy, Halton Waldorf School, Trillium Waldorf School, Mulberry Waldorf School and the London Waldorf School as well as others. This allows for a diverse community life and places us in daily contact with students of all ages in the rhythms of a fully-developed Waldorf school community.


Not all Waldorf schools are so fortunate. I am presently visiting Rio de Janeiro where there is one  small and growing Waldorf school, Jardin-Escola Michaelis. It has been a pleasure to work with the faculty, parents and board of this school as they have all grown over the past five years from a small kindergarten to a growing school that encompasses severeal multi-age kindergartens up to grade four. They have outgrown their first school house and are presently nearing capacity in their second. It is not easy to grow a spiritually minded community school in Rio, the capital of CARNIVAL, but these families are doing a remarkable job and with little support or recognition beyond those families who have found their way to this little school. It´s creation and conitnuing existence is a miracle whose value is most clearly visible in the faces of the happy children.


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Bedtime Storytelling Song

Posted by on Dec 25 2011 | education, lyre, waldorf teacher education

Here is a simple pentatonic song to open and close our bedtime storytelling and/or reading.  I composed it to introduce the lyre I made (posted below) for my two young daughters this Christmas.

Sun and moon and shining star
Gently guide my dreaming far
To the land of angels bright
Fill my heart your golden light.

The melody is D, E, G, A, B, D, E ascending
and then E, D, B, A, G, E, D descending.
This repeats twice with the lyrics.


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A Lyre for my Daughters

Posted by on Dec 23 2011 | art, guitar, lyre, social art, workshops



This is my second Lyre, carved from a single piece of walnut with a padauk bridge. I used ultra-fine guitar strings (D, G, B and E). It is tuned to a pentatonic scale: D, E, G, A, B, D, E, which creates a gentle floating feel. The tone is quite mellow and can be amplified by placing it on a table.  The music dances about the central A, “Sun Tone”, and meanders without settling into a resolve – perfect for young children whose hearing does not crave the more grounded resolution of a major or minor scale. For them music floats just like their imaginative games which can flow fluidly from one theme to another without interruption.

I am grateful to Luciana, who sewed a beautifully quilted case for it complete with a little pocket for the tuning wrench. She is a craftswoman extraordinaire. We will play it every night at our story time to punctuate the beginning and end of the stories as we prepare to go to sleep. Now all I have to do is come up with suitable melodies and lyrics.

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Maple Lyre

Posted by on Dec 02 2011 | art, guitar, lyre

This is my second lyre. Carved from maple and tuned to a pentatonic scale it yields a gentle tone that resonates well with its flowing forms. It was a pleasure to make this and its sister lyre, which will be a Christmas gift to my girls, in a series of evenings this autumn – so much less demanding than a guitar. This lyre was donated to the Rudolf Steiner Centre Toronto Advent Craft sale to benefit early childhood education. Pentatonic music is well suited to the mood of early childhood and helps children to remain  lithe and dreamy.

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Elemental Beings Emerge

Posted by on Dec 02 2011 | art, bread oven, social art

A forlorn stump of a once grand maple has been waiting patiently in our back yard for a bit of love and attention. Staring patiently at us as we make our pizzas and tend our garden, this stately stump has been crying for some sort of redemption from its untimely demise. but it is so large, over 2 meters tall and more than a meter across. Then one morning as the girls frolicked in the garden my gouge came to life to reveal this being within the tree. What release we felt as chips came flying away.  And now we have a new friend in our garden. Welcome!!!

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Posted by on Aug 10 2011 | art, guitar, social art

3 years ago we lived in Stroud where I had the pleasure of working with Gavin Pond. Gavin is a luthier, teacher, musician and all around great guy. 4 months before moving to Canada, I asked Gavin to teach me how to make a guitar. No matter how much he encouraged me to keep it simple, I refused to listen. I was simply too inspired by the beautiful forms he showed me of traditional instruments like citterns, lutes and other guitar precursors . If I was going to take the time and effort to make a guitar, I wanted to make one that was interesting, beautiful and that might hopefully sound ok. I was over ambitious and made just about every mistake possible. Nevertheless, with his guidance, I did manage to complete this instrument in about 2 1/2 years – a sweet little guitar, which I played publicaly for the first time at our summer festival of arts and education.

The woods that we chose for this guitar reflect the geography of my family. The back and sides are of English walnut. The top is made from North American Sitka spruce. The neck is made with a Brazilian mahogany. The little end peg is made with Canadian maple, our latest home. Thanks Gavin!!!

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Mini Emerson Reunion in Toronto

Posted by on Aug 10 2011 | art, education, poetry, Rudolf Steiner Centre Toronto, social art, Toronto Waldorf School, waldorf teacher education, workshops

It was such a treat to work creatively with Kuniko, Paul and Bree again, an honor to reunite with Emerson Foundation Year colleagues. Somehow we all seem to have all grown a bit older and wiser and more tender through the challenges we have each had to meet in our respective countries. Kuniko is now a trained and practicing Biographical Counselor in Japan – a wise woman who is ready to listen and selflessly reflect. Bree is teaching music and English and developing her beautiful voice. And Paul continues to delight students and writers around the world with his creative approach to “silly-seriousness.” His genius, all of their genii are contagious. I am grateful that we created another opportunity to work together and that they had an opportunity to meet my family in our home outside of Toronto where they effortlessly warmed their way into the hearts of my daughters.

These pictures are courtesy of Kuniko, who courageously came all the way from difficult circumstances in Japan to study  with us in our Encounters with Imagination: festival of arts and education.

May we find many more occasions to come together in our striving and in our desire to play artistically.

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Festival Bread Oven at Camphill

Posted by on Aug 08 2011 | Baking Bread with Children, bread, bread oven, social art, workshops

Camphill Communities Ontario invited my family and me to build a festival bread oven to help them bake pizza and bread during their seasonal festivals throughout the year. 16 intrepid bread oven builders joined us to create this well sculpted oven out of clay, sand and straw. Our crew included people from age 3 to 60 and was inclusive of people with a variety of abilities. Everyone was able to contribute and feel pride in their creation.

We spread the work over two days, which gave everyone a chance to need the cob with their feet, build the oven, play in the straw and contribute to sculpting the final bread oven. There was plenty of time in between for sharing food and for discussing slow-bread-culture, for singing and silliness too!

It was hard to call it quits on Sunday afternoon as finding the final form was such an enjoyable process of collaborative sculpting. (Notice the temporary door that helped us model the oven as the real door was still being fashioned out of local hardwood. Soon a pavilion will be built to house the bread oven. This will match the architecture of the neighboring Novalis Hall)

Luciana took up the task of making a fire spirit, a salamander to acknowledge the essential working of elemental beings in this creative process of transforming flour, water, salt, leaven and fire into delicious bread. It is nice to see such a beautiful and lively fire being being born out of my calm and collected partner – nothing boring there!

Already one of the families who participated in the workshop have built their own bread oven at their farm outside of Toronto. Others are busy gathering clay and bricks…



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Meeting Anthroposophy

Posted by on Aug 08 2011 | art, education, poetry, Rudolf Steiner Centre Toronto, Toronto Waldorf School, waldorf teacher education, workshops


Encounters with Imagination: festival of arts and education was an inspiring success with over 50 people enrolling in 1 or more courses. The feedback we received was overwhelmingly positive with much encouragement to carry on with this initiative next summer. I thoroughly enjoyed bringing aspects of anthroposophy over the course of a week and felt well met by my students. What  a pleasure it was wrestling with ideas such as freedom and the journey beyond the threshold with intelligent and open minded individuals. We devoted the whole final day to looking at Rudolf Steiner’s large wood sculpture, The Representative of Humanity. We explored first the many contrasting elements of this piece and the dynamics between them before we ever tried to name them. Once we had fully characterized the forms and flow of these beings then it felt proper to share their names Christ, Lucifer, Ahriman and Humor and to explore our own understandings and relationships with them. It was a rich and evocative session.


In the second week I took part in Paul Matthew’s creative writing workshop and as ever was delighted by his creative genius and warmth. It was heartening to renew our friendship, which has only grown since our working together at Emerson and as well to see how my girls delighted in his presence. The highlights of the festival for me were the times we were all working together: singing and spacial dynamics in the mornings and evening events including pizza nights, poetry and story evening and a social art evening. this is where it really felt like a festival and I could sense the creative spirit of Emerson raying through our work. And now I look forward to a bit of a rest and then pulling together next summer’s festival.


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