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Welcome to Quarry Hill's Blog!

Quarry Hill Creative Center in Rochester, VT, founded 1946 by Barbara and Irving Fiske, is Vermont's oldest alternative community and at one time was probably also its largest. In the 60s -80s, as many as 90 people lived here.
It was and is visited each year, often in summer (but in every season, really) by visitors from all over the world.
We welcome interesting and creative people who are peaceful, bring no weapons, don't believe in hitting children or killing animals, and enjoy the beauty of Vermont and of themselves.

Most of us do not adhere to any particular dogma or religion, though many do find Eastern philosophy closest to our own thought (some of us are also members of the Quakers/Society of Friends).
We value the individual, particularly people who are energetic and have a sense of humor.
Visitors are welcome-- and prospective residents, too. There are some places for rent, others for sale. If interested, get in touch!
And, please follow the Blog and comment whenever you like!

"The symbol is the enemy of the reality, and the reality is ever one's true guide, true friend, true companion, and true self." Irving Fiske, 1908-1990

Monday, October 8, 2018


We hope to keep the very concept of punishment alien to our children. --Irving Fiske, 1950s.

This is the core-premise of Quarry Hill. 
It is to us as self-evident as it was to Thomas Jefferson that "all men are created equal." 
All children are created aware, awake, filled with enthusiasm and joy-- and so immensely open that our actions toward them can help each to fulfill and retain her or his original delight. For while it may be true, as William Blake says, that the "soul of sweet delight can never be defil'd,"

it can be attacked, stunned, disenchanted, driven underground in a person's psyche, and at the worst, it can be hidden behind impenetrable curtains of hatred, sadism or masochism, and rage. Blake again: "The child that weeps the Rod Beneath writes Revenge in realms of Death."
It does not even have to be corporal punishment, though my parents thought, and we tried to act in the awareness that it was the very worst thing one can do to a child. While verbal insults, the calling of names, and the deprivation of freedom can be horrible too, nothing matches the trauma and shock of having pain inflicted on one's small body by a much larger person. Not only the pain but the loss of control over one's own inner dignity and wholeness, the humiliation, and so many other things-- but the worst is the pain, burning into a child that they are at the mercy of an insane giant, as Irving put it.

However, even depriving a kid of freedom or ordering her or him to spend time alone in a bedroom is a horrible thing to do. It makes the room seem a place of imprisonment, not a cozy place to rest. It makes the child feel an outcast when the best thing to do is to let the child have its own inner freedom. There are other ways of handling difficult behaviors  than punishment. 

It diminishes a child’s joy and inner liberty. to demonstrate one’s power over them.  It diminishes his or her sense of self and freedom. The person who did this ought to know better, having spent time at QH when a child.
With a small child, we can offer a distraction from any activity we would prefer they not engage in. With a slightly older child, we may say "We can't do that," and explain why. We can stand our ground that it can't happen that way. But we should not punish the child.
 They will only remember that they were deprived of something, and be angry and hurt-- and often turn this anger and hurt in upon themselves.
I am holding parents and caregivers to a VERY high standard, and I believe we all must do so, hold ourselves to a high standard. And of course, I was not, as a parent, always perfect. 
But I knew it was wrong-- I never used punishment, and I always apologized for any action of mine that was harsh or unpleasant. My husband and I did not always manage to control our annoyance with one another around the children and we did yell at one another sometimes in their presence. But I did not try to tell the kids that I was right and they were wrong... I told them it was a big mistake on my part when I was not as kind as I ought to be.

Why not try it? Humanity has tried so many things, but except in small pockets, it has never tried absolute openness to kids, utter acceptance, and the refusal to tell them they are bad (they aren't,) to to punish them. What right do we have to do that anyway? Who died and made us God?

If we knew that we already come here as God, or the Life Force, or the core of all things, the Light Within, we might not be so hasty to take out our nastiness on our kids. 

Of course, we have to keep them from hurting one another, or being too unkind, or destroying things, or harming animals. But teaching them patiently why these things are not good is so much better than a blind angry attack on them in the assumption that they are WRONG in some way.
I was a very jealous sister. I hated my younger brother (I was 3 1/2 when he was born, and there had been a lot of upheaval in the family beforehand), and I tried to hurt him, told him I hated him and so on. Now, of course, I wish I hadn't. But I think my mother, my parents, could have found better ways to keep the tensions from becoming so intense between us. For one thing, neither of us knew many other kids. We were always traveling. If we had been able to each have more companions of our own age, and had not been thrown together so much, I think we would have been less involved with one another and less inclined to attack (my brother once dug a pit with sharp stakes at the bottom and leaves over the top for me to fall into). 
We can do better, and we must. Give up the traditional weaponry of parenthood, and open the gate to a more loving and peaceful life--even if at times it isn't as simple a solution as punishment, which after all ends up far less simple in the long run. 

Phoro--BRANDON KITCHEN of his twins, Castiel and Christian.

Friday, October 5, 2018

On September 9, 2018, Andrew D.F. McFarlin married his fianceé, Alice Lin, on Mt. Philo, Charlotte, Vermont. It was the 99th anniversary of the birth of Barbara Hall Fiske Calhoun, Andrew's grandmother.  Alice looked lovely in her white dress with tulle skirt, red sash and red lacings up the back.
The ceremony was brief and simple but very moving, conducted by Judge Nancy Waples-- both in Cantonese and in English.
Present were Andrew's parents and siblings, his brother in law Brem Hyde and cousin Eva Isabel Us, Alice's parents and sister Jean Lin, and members of the extended family on both sides. No more than thirty people were present at the express wish of the bride and groom.
Their beagle, Sandor, acted as Best Dog and had a place on the wedding cake with Alice and Andrew.
The cake was baked by Alice and was delicious!
Andrew is a Chittenden County, VT. deputy prosecutor, and Alice works in the same office as an administrative assistant to  Victim's Advocates.. Sandor occasionally checks in.

I will add a few details here as I gather them. A2, as they are known to family and friends, have not wanted many announcements, but I could not let the occasion go by without noting it in the Quarry Hill blog.

The bride and groom, radiant with happiness, went off to a honeymoon in Italy for a week, while Sandor stayed with us at Quarry Hill.

Photo by Isabella F. McFarlin, November, 2016. Alice and Andrew had just become engaged.

Monday, July 2, 2018

So the chance of a third season of Timeless-- a great and funny and romantic show about history and time travel-- has come to an end....
It was a remarkable movement and shows the extent to which it is possible to move mountains when people rise up!
Thanks to all... Thanks to everyone.
Timeless will be remembered at Quarry Hill!
I love history.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

One of the highest values of Quarry Hill is the awareness that animals deserve to be treated with kindness, respect and compassion. Today, we saved the lives of two guinea pigs who were left in a closed house here, with no open windows and no food or water. They were abandoned by a squatter on the place.

We did not know they were there. When we discovered them in filth and a state of dehydration, we took them out and gave them food and water, air and fresh hay to burrow in. Today Robin (my cousin) and I took them to a sanctuary here in Vermont that specializes in Guinea Pigs and Turtles.

I am not going to give the name here so that the kind people who run it will not be pestered by the former "owner" of the guinea pigs!

No one who has ever treated an animal in such a way should ever be allowed to own a pet again.

I am deeply hoping that the guinea pigs will survive. They looked much better when I left them at the sanctuary and were eating and drinking.

Thanks to Lucy, who took them in, and I am so grateful that I had the chance to save these lives.

-- Ladybelle

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Barbara's Birthday

My mother, cartoonist, artist and visionary Barbara Hall Fiske Calhoun, was born 98 years ago today, on September 9, 1919, in Tucson, AZ.

She was born Isabelle Daniel Hall, and called Babs, which became Barbara on the suggestion of my father, Irving Fiske, WPA writer, playwright, and philosopher-speaker, 

She was a cartoonist during WWII, a painter in tempera and pastel of lovely landscapes, portraits that made the subject see for the first time their own true beauty, and of figure drawings that rivaled any Renaissance painter. She taught art all her life.
In 1946, she and my father and some others, including my uncle Milton, a classical composer, bought the old mountain farm that became Quarry Hill in Rochester, VT. 
More of Barbara's story can be read in her Wikipedia entry, and more has yet to be told. Tonight, I just want to remember her amazing ability to know when people needed her and to call them, and to raise all things up in immense beauty in her art. She died on April 28, 2014, in peaceful slumber, in White River Junction, VT.

I know she would be glad that her grandson, my son Andrew Daniel Fiske McFarlin, is to marry his fiancee, Alice Lin,  a remarkable, beautiful young woman, Middlebury College graduate, a  scholar of languages and the classics, on September 9, 2018-- Barbara's 99th birthday.