Friday, December 28, 2012

around here: December 2012

Our month has been full of good times.  Visits to lots of festive places, wide eyes, birthday celebrations and sharing.  Solstice was quiet and small as usual, maybe even more so this year. 

We had lots of snow for Solstice which was very festive feeling.  It also added to the peacefulness.

We fed the birds on our Solstice walk and I set up my altar that evening.  Winter's mantle has settled over us these days and we sleep later and go to bed earlier.  It just seems to fit where we are right now.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Book of the Month: Green Christmas

 Where we live our holidays are usually green as opposed to white but this year it is looking like we may have some snow stick around.  Lovely big dumps of snow the last two days have covered our mountain home.  Inside we are preparing for gift giving and the eating of yummy food and recovering from my almost 5 year old's space birthday party.  So much fun.
Each holiday season I like to check out a festive book or two from the library to browse.  I don't usually make anything as my making is usually already filled up at this time of year but the inspiration and ideas sometimes stick with me.  This book of course is about green for the earth and not green in general but I'm Dreaming of a Green Christmas: Gifts, Decorations, and Recipes that Use Less and Mean More by Anna Getty has lots of fun ideas for celebrating in a more thoughtful way.  In particular I think her projects are great for creating lasting decorations and gifts that are easier on the planet but still very stylish.
The ideas that I liked best were using an vintage/thrifted round table cloth for a tree skirt and her fresh and dried herb wreath.  (my make my own wreath aspirations have been neatly pushed to next year)
She also shares some lovely recipes the tastiest of which is Chai hot cocoa with whipped cream.  Add some cookies and you have a perfect Christmas eve dessert or at least that's my plan for this year.

So if you are looking for old fashioned holiday ideas (and by old fashioned I mean from a book and not Pinterest) Have a look at I'm Dreaming of a Green Christmas and let the holiday magic and beautiful photography bolster your spirit.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Craft Fair Tips

Oh, I love craft fairs....if you've been reading for any length of time that should come as no surprise.  While at the playground recently I heard two trendy mamas talking of doilies and grandma's knitting craft fairs with disdain.  Not me my friends.  I love old fashioned and new and trendy craft fairs.  The "old" style ones offer important things things like knitted cotton dishcloths, wool socks that warm your feet made by bent over & crinkled ladies, jams, homemade pies, and occasionally gems of trend setting crafters who are starting out.

Buying at craft fairs is really smart on several levels:

  • you are supporting local artisans
  • you often find one of a kind items
  • it forces you to think "outside of the (big) box" for gifts
The Lower Mainland of British Columbia is full of craft events.  Every year more and more fairs are popping up.  I see this as a great sign but have also noticed that the quality in some of the fairs that I visit each year is going down.  Perhaps vendors have more choice of high end markets now and so the smaller markets may struggle a bit to fill their tables.  After spending years attending craft fairs I have a few pointers to share about them that should help you get the most out of your experience:

Look at everything before you buy anything.  This is really important if you have a limited amount of cash or you are looking for something that could be found at more than one booth.  If you buy the first earrings you like and find some further on that you love you'll regret it.  So stroll, look and then make a plan to return to your favorite tables.

1. If you find a vendor that you really like make sure to get their card and/or contact info.  You never know when you may want to commission something or buy another and then realize you can't find them again.  Often vendors return to shows that they did well at the previous year but there is no guarantee.

2. Smile and say hello to the vendors.  They are putting  themselves out there and that can be a rather daunting experience.

 3. Eat before you go.  It is never smart to shop on an empty stomach.

4. Search out the fairs in your area over the whole holiday season.  Many fairs begin in November and carry on until the last weekend before Christmas.  If you can get to more than one in one day you can maximize your time and childcare if you need it.

5. Remember not to get a crafter grudge.  Many times at many fairs I've thought to myself, I can do that.  I'm not going to buy something I could make myself.  While that is a valid point it is more important to think of how much time you have to make gifts and if you are really going to make it this year.  Making a hectic trip to the mall on Christmas eve because you didn't have time to make that thing that you could have bought two weeks yourself the headache.

6. And finally make a list before you go.  Write out who you need to buy for, any ideas you have for what to get them and stick to it.  It is very easy to be distracted by lovely handmade things and blow your budget on something that you could get later or isn't necessary.  Unlike the mall you can't return things a day later when your head clears.

Have a wonderful holiday season!

Friday, November 30, 2012

november, again

This week has been a bit of a challenge.  Days feeling long, my brain not retaining information, rushing around, dealing with the ineptitude of others.

But simultaneously I have looked upon my family with expanding eyes.  I have sat and talked with my husband in the evening lamenting the complexity of adulthood but accepting that in this moment at 35 the complexity is never going away.  It just is, it is life.

The quiet in this space may continue for a while.  My priorities are shifting slightly though I'm sure I will return  here with more regularity in the future.

What I am noticing is that as I project myself outwards towards my local community I have less energy to project towards the online one.  But again, I am not worried or saddened by this.  It is an experiment in a way.  An expansion of my safety zone.  It feels like a good time.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Book of the Month: Wild Comfort

This stunning collection of essays was a delight to read.  Kathleen Dean Moore is a philosophy professor, nature lover, and wife to a biologist.  Moving fluidly from Oregon (her main home) to her Alaskan cabin and some exotic locals elsewhere her essays mix personal experience with deeply compelling reflections on death, the cycles of the earth, wild life and our human weaknesses.

Wild Comfort: The Solace of Nature takes you on a journey with Moore and her family that you want to continue past the end of the book.  After a series of close ones in her life dying she took to journey of the artist deep inside to find some sense of solace.  Bittersweet mixed with the simple rhythms of nature; while Moore's spiritual side is practically agnostic she touches on the mysterious and magical of the outdoors and our unmistakable connection to it.

I would recommend this book to anyone looking for comfort based in the falling of snow, the habits of birds or the currents of the ocean.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

just a little off

That's how I'm feeling this week.  A weekend away has left me feeling behind...just trying to keep afloat amid  the normal day-to-day.  Today the sun has shined all day and that has been very refreshing.  In fact nature has brought a sense of solace with some heart pumping hikes and drinking tea by a rushing creek with Elliott.  As I'm ordering gifts, attending craft fairs, cooking and doing a little making I feel the need for quiet.
Perhaps that is why being in the woods is giving me so much comfort.  The loud hum of the water over rocks, birds, those sounds are good noise.

Sleep is also a bit short these days, something I will keep trying to remedy since we are all fighting the sniffles.  I am keenly aware of the dark time, these weeks from Samhain to Yule always hold reflection and a sense of turning inward.  Next week I hit a bit of a milestone age and that has me marveling at how time moves.  The spirals of life cycling around us...

 I think I'll get through these feelings eventually.  I think it is normal to experience this ebb after the flow of the last 6 weeks.  Soon things will be quieting down in terms of day-to-day and holiday fun will spring up here and there.  Soon...the only certainty is the passing of one moment into another.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

How we do...

Toy rotation.

One of the most important tips that I gathered from Kim Payne's book Simplicity Parenting was the use of toy rotation and a "toy library" storage system.  System may be the wrong word because it implies something  that may seem more organized than a big cardboard box of toys in the storage room but hey, whatever works.  My point here is you don't need fancy shelves or even lots of labels to do this.  Just take half of the toys that are crowding your living space and put them away for a few months.

Payne's point in doing this was that if children are overwhelmed by too many toys they don't actually play with them, they just move from toy to toy and discard them in their wake.  After using this system for a year or so I tend to agree.  After a few months of toys being out of sight it is like bringing out something brand new when a still appreciated toy emerges from storage.

 I would love to say that once a season I rotate out books and toys freshening them up so to speak but it ends up being more like twice a year.  Regardless of the schedule it lets you get rid of broken or outgrown toys and keep the clutter a bit more controlled.  I also try to keep a one in, one out strategy so if a new toy is  acquired or one child asks for a specific toy from storage I'll ask him to choose one to trade back into the library.

And as for the toys we are getting rid of if they are in good condition I'll post them on craig'slist for a small amount and if they sell the boys get to put the money in their piggy banks, otherwise they are donated or discarded.  Some parents consult with their kids on which toys to let go of but I've found that my boys are pretty clear when something is outgrown.  If it rarely gets asked for or is even noticed I just take it out of rotation for good.  If you do consult and your kids resist just back off a bit.  Kids tend to hold on to things in the moment so revisit the toy again in a few weeks and if they haven't played with it much or at all in that time it may be easier to convince them that it is time the toy moved on to someone else who may play with it more.  

Less is more in the case of toys and books.  (Not that I don't have tons of kids books, I do.  They are just mostly kept in storage and rotated out according to seasons, holidays etc.)
This system is helping us to live in a smaller space without a toy room and not be overwhelmed by clutter and chaos constantly.  (Or, at least it's supposed in progress:)

Friday, November 2, 2012

Poem of the Month: Vanquish

A little poem as therapy (for myself) this month.


Stand and face the fear
you stand for your truth
something that could never stay inside
it would fester, eating caverns in your gut
twisting your face into a scowl
making your limbs weak from lack of use
making you shake with impatient hands

take heart from your lessons
take love from you ancestors
make one small step and then another

do not seek approval or even acceptance
rejection is as real as praise
your offering must just be that
a piece of your soul
made manifest in cloth, in words, in song

lay it down and back away
vanquish doubt
be grateful for having the chance to create

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Breaking Tradition

With the rains and winds of October's last day blustering yesterday we did our best to enjoy Halloween.  Things, important things have been left out of this holy time of year for me.
Specifically our local Reclaiming's Spiral Dance ritual that I have attended every year for the last 9 years.  Two of those years I was sporting a huge belly, and each year I have considered the time to be "mine."
A very important, sacred time to let go, honour, journey and celebrate rebirth.  This year that didn't happen.  This year I looked over the days of hectic fervor and thought to myself, no.
That was hard.  It's not like I go out a lot these days, I rarely get to enjoy something with other pagans.  Being a part of the local community is important to me and yet I neglect that aspect of myself.
I'm not here to defend or make excuses, just to reflect a moment.  This moment was crystal clear when it dawned.  My inner voice said, you are tired, you've pushed yourself and your family to accommodate several things already this month - something has to give.  The most clarity in the moment came when I realized that I wouldn't really enjoy it.  I knew I'd have a million other things on the list running through my head.  I didn't feel able to be present - for the first time in 9 years it just wasn't going to work.
So I did not go.  I thought of the ritual going on several times Sunday evening, I had a nap which is another rare thing for me.  So instead of a ritual to soothe my spiritual self I rested my physical self.
The moral of this story is that as the hectic time of the holidays approaches try to listen to yourself.  If you sense that something you have done for years, a tradition is just not coming together the way it has in the past  that's ok.  It's ok to bow out this year.  And when next year comes around again you can return feeling a renewed sense of joy to participate.  Or you may want to create a new tradition and see where that takes you.

Wishing you a blessed Samhain and hope you had a great Halloween.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Veiling: My Thoughts

Dave and I, July 29, 2006

The controversy over recent months regarding veiling in the pagan community has been very interesting.  I'm not sure why it has been such a "hot topic."  It seems whenever a woman chooses to dress a certain way lots of people have opinions about that.  Personally I support an informed choice to dress however a person chooses to.  From culture to culture there are numerous examples of women veiling for religious, cultural and personal reasons.  From modesty, to devotion to ones gods, and then of course we have the forced veiling of women for control under men.  Pagan women like the ones quoted in this article are adopting this practice for diverse reasons, all of them stemming from informed choice.  I see this choice as thoughtful and subjective and for myself at this time not one I'm making.

Thinking about this topic has left me with two comparisons in my own life to experiences with veiling or not.  The most obvious one being for my marriage.  When I wed Dave I made my wedding dress and we had our ceremony outside.  When it came to what to wear on my head I chose not to wear a veil.  The casual aspect of our day and the style of my dress just didn't fit with a veil to me.  Also I wanted to feel open to the universe as I made my vow.  My hair flowed down my back and I work a sparkling silver headband of blue flowers.  I did now know it then but my choice was more in keeping with Anglo Saxon tradition of flowing hair and a crown of flowers since the current fashion of veils was ushered into vogue by Queen Victoria.

The first time I used a veil during trance work went very well.  It was encouraged as part of a Baba Yaga meditation and I found it much easier to journey that way.  Perhaps it was the covering of my crown chakra that helped.  I was able to look internally easier.  I felt more cut off from those around me and able to quiet ego and chatty internal dialogue.

Using a scarf or wrap in this way is very helpful in such work.  I think it encourages quiet and self reflection.  It can be likened to a horse with blinders on, keeping you focused on the task ahead or in this case inside.

Also I have read that head covering can help with keeping other people's energy from overwhelming you in public.  Again I think it helps to keep you from being open, or too psychically exposed so to speak.  In that way veils are a useful tool spiritually just like tarot cards or an altar cloth; serving a specific purpose to meet a  need in practice.

The cultural impact of practicing veiling in public is more complex and can lead to one being mistaken for another type of religious follower.  Since this choice is one that requires maturity and thoughtfulness I'd hope that anyone doing it in public would have the self assurance to take any misinterpretations in stride.  As pagan culture continues to develop and mature we will face many more new/old practices that will challenge our preconceived ideas of what and who we are collectively and as individuals.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

WIP Wednesday

Today I'm sharing what is in progress in my little sewing room.  A big leap of a project which will need to be finished by November 3rd for a jury submission.  Fingers crossed on this one.

And patiently waiting on a hanger is Ky's quilt.  The top only needs two side panels sewed on and then it is ready to be sandwiched.  Such a great feeling to have it almost complete with two months left before the deadline.  Ha..of course I say almost but I still have to quilt and bind it....but after two years it is way closer than ever.

Joining up with other quilters today.  It feels great to have something to contribute.

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Monday, October 22, 2012

October from Above

This month is flying by.  Each day a mix of school, play, food and work.  Sun, wind, rain storms and so many leaves keep reminding us of the earth's preparation for sleep.

We started the month by eating our last homegrown tomatoes.  Certainly a larger crop than ever before.

We've had lots of time outdoors.  The scheduled time of Kyan's outdoor preschool has given he and Elliott and I regular contact with being outside for long stretches.  It is honestly invaluable.  A blessing for us on every level.

Train play is it around here.  Whether you are 4 and a half, 1 and a half or 30 something or other, you'll be playing trains if you are here for more than a minute or two.

I got adventurous and steamed my first batch of artichokes for baked artichoke dip.  They are so funny and grey looking once cooked but the dip was a hit.  So I'll be making it again for sure.

I can't remember a busier October for our little family.  With two weeks left is it safe to say we've managed ok?  There are big plans for quieter times in November and December.  Just because it is good to honour the need for rest, quiet and contemplation.  There will still be plenty to do, but just a slower gait for us.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Unity - a ritual blessing

Whether working in a formal Wiccan coven, pagan outreach group or a family circle it is always a positive experience to solidify bonds and join together from time to time to re-affirm connection.
Unity is more than just a noun or a buzzword.  We need to nurture it, feed it and give it room to grow our roots together.

I wrote this blessing 8 years ago and it was spoken at Summer Solstice.  As always it can be adapted to suit whatever situation is unique to your path.  My only recommendation would be to use it when the moon is from new to full.

A Blessing to Encourage Unity

On this Midsummer day of lasting light as we sit beside the sea
Let us bind our souls,
Let us bond our hearts,
Let us set our minds.

have everyone dip their hands in water passing a bowl, cloth or sprinkling the water over each participant

With this water from the sea
We ask for the gift of truth

circulate again with incense, a feather or an air symbol

With this incense which mingles with the air
We ask for the gift of honor

have everyone grasp some sand or rub their hands with it

With this sand from the strong earth
We ask for the gift of respect

at this point everyone can join hands side by side in a circle or each put one hand in to the center like when you do a cheer 

As our hands are bound
So are our hearts, souls and minds
A bond of spirit
A bond of love
Empowered through truth, honor and respect.
Blessed be.

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Power of "We"

Today is Blog Action Day.  A day when thousands of bloggers from around the world blog around a central theme in the hopes of inspiring thought and creating a collective consciousness.

This year's theme is The Power of "We"
There are many ways to interpret this theme, what it has brought up for me is getting back to the basics of human understanding.  Why is it that individuals so often stay apart and separate? Why do we isolate ourselves and focus on division, differences?  The further away we have moved from our communal struggle for survival has brought us to where we are today: drawing imaginary lines on land, putting up fences and signs to keep others out, closing our blinds so no one can see into our home, hiding secrets and pain from our loved ones...
All the while when doing this we feel bad.  It doesn't make one feel nice to push others out constantly.  So to compensate we watch tv and spend our time on social media.   Instead of talking face to face we text and post on Facebook.  But don't worry I'm not here to bash the internet or condemn the media.  All I'm talking about here is the ability to form connections.
What we have lost in being where we are today is the ability to hold ourselves and others accountable for focusing on division and isolation.  Strangers can attack others in horrible and degrading ways when they remove themselves from a sense of "we"  It's easier to lash out when you don't have to look someone in the eye as you are putting them down.  The shadow side of social media is that this happens, although I think it has always happened with gossip and the like.  Social media magnifies the problem, makes harassment illusive and anonymous.  No better example of this can be found than Amanda Todd's story.  This young woman was harassed and manipulated by an anonymous internet lurker who blackmailed her and circulated a video of her.  Then he sent this video to peers who ridiculed her and drove her into depression.  How one man manipulated countless teenagers to torment this girl which then pushed her to suicide is beyond me.
Our power, the power of caring, real people is to stop predators from finding our children.
We can protect our kids.  We can stand up against bullying, and force accountability from those around us.
400 people worldwide have sent the RCMP information regarding this crime.  Adolescence is a tough time of life.  Trying to figure out who you are, trying to make it through...human contact, real people connecting on a personal and deep level is the only thing that bolsters the spirit against the isolationism of our society.
If someone can back you into a corner alone it is far easier to attack you on any level.
If you are surrounded by love; strong people of character, people from different age groups and backgrounds you are lifted up.  Strength in numbers, support from the power of "we".
Our power is to link together and connect to each other.
Our power is to care for those around us as we would our own self or our own children.
Our power is to seek solutions and hold each other accountable for actions that do not support the nurturing of humanity.
And perhaps most deceptive of all is that our power is to see through the manipulations of outside factions that may be trying to use our fear and self-doubt to control us to their ends.   Somewhere inside those factions are people who need to connect to their own humanity, their own inner truths.  When they do they will no longer be able to target others because they will feel its wrongness and if they can't see their wrong doing we will be there to show them their errors.  We will hold them accountable.
That is the power of "we."

Friday, October 12, 2012

Until we meet again...

Mary and I, April 1978

My first profound experience with death was when my paternal grandmother died when I was 7.  Her name was Mary and she was a loving, strong and pious woman.  I spent many an afternoon with her and when I was hungry and she asked me what I wanted to eat I'd say porridge and she would lovingly make it for me.

Her hair was pure white and her eyes were a crystal blue.  She never saw me through her eyes.  She slowly went blind in her 40's.  Her blindness did not limit her ability.  She wrote letters using a typewriter, played piano, cooked and baked and did all these things well and with love.
In my memory she was warm and kind and indulgent.  I feel grateful that I was able to spend the time with her that I did.
At this time of year as Samhain approaches my thoughts always turn to my beloved dead.  Each year memories float in and some take hold and stay while others drift off with the mists.  For many years I was sad that my strongest memory of my Granny was her death and how the days around it played out.  But now I've come to understand that it all falls into place as it can in each moment.  Her death was the last part of her life to those left on this plain.  I can't separate it from who she was or who I've become because of it.

 July of 1944 wearing a dress she had made herself

One morning in the summer of my 7th year I awoke to the sight of my mother leaning over me.  Her chin trembled with sadness as she told me that Granny had died.  Early that morning my grandfather had phoned my mom asking her to come over to his home (just a short walk down the road).  When my mother arrived she checked Granny and confirmed that she had passed away in her sleep.  As I stared up at my mother, seeing her grief plainly on her face I knew first and foremost that I would see my granny again.  It was the first feeling I had and while I was instantly sad I felt a resolve that has never gone away.  I will see her again.
The next few days hold a sprinkling of memories.  My grandfather coming into the house with his head bowed and a coat draped over his shoulders.  It was the first time I remember perceiving his vulnerability, the first time I had ever felt the urge to comfort him.  I remember the dress I wore to the funeral home viewing - it was mint green with an eyelet edging and a sash.  I remember seeing my Granny laying in the coffin my first instinct was panic that she surely was only sleeping and would wake up in the ground alone and frightened.  And I remember the silken pillow that was beside her in the coffin.  It had blue and pink carnations and was meant to symbolize her grandchildren, all eight of us.

I have often called on her in the years since her death.  I know she watches over all of us and sees us in a way she couldn't when she was alive.  There have been two marked times when I felt her presence, both at Samhain rituals.  The first was the fall before I became pregnant with my first son.  While in the Summerland during a trance journey I sat with her near a stream.  I remember being so happy to see her and the light around us being soft and golden.  She spoke lovely words that I do not remember.  When I left to journey back I was filled with the knowledge that I would soon have a child.   Five months later I was pregnant.
The second was almost a year ago also during the trance journey at our local Spiral Dance.  She came and was there with me.  I was so overwhelmed by her energy that I wept, something I've never experienced at that ritual in the 9 years I've been going.  It certainly was profound to feel that energy again after so many years.  I am very grateful for that gift.

This is a sad post I suppose but I see life's moments as important whether they are sad or happy.  As I've told the birth stories of my sons I have told the death story of another loved one.  The universe saw fit to grant another gift when my son Elliott was born on Mary's birthday.  It is a link that he will share with her forever, something that warms our family and honours her memory.

 Cecil & Mary's wedding November 1944

I didn't share my knowing at 7 that I'd see her again.  Perhaps I knew that it was a personal truth and not something that everyone would find comfort from.  Whether she comes to me again on this plain or not there will come a day when we will meet.  That stays with me.   It is a feeling for which I am always so thankful.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Creative Overload

So I've got this deadline.  It is approaching rapidly as these things tend to do when you've stepped out on a limb.  I'm working at a pace that seems fast for me...that is most of my "free" time each day,  an hour when Elliott naps, maybe an hour and a half and then at least an hour when I finally get the boys to sleep.  I have some weekend childcare lined up in the next few weeks and will soon be calling in a few more troops for some weekday hours.

As I sit in my sewing room and stitch and look, then stitch and look some more I'm getting slightly distracted.  I mean, I've never had such long periods of fallow time in art making as I have since becoming a mama.  Never had to concentrate my time for deadlines with so much life stuff on my plate before.  What I'm noticing is that as I'm trying to focus my energy exclusively on this piece other ideas are floating into my head.  Website re-designs, ideas for drawings for new pieces!!! Um..ok, that's great and all but I'm on a deadline here.  I'd love to flit around and move from idea to idea in a more fluid (water sign much?) way but I'm torn.  There are only so many hours in a day and I can't afford to devote this precious time to another project.  Not if I'm ever going to make this deadline.

I've given myself the luxury of sketching the ideas down when I'm on "Mama time."  This is fairly new for the boys.  They've seen me reading or with the laptop open, and even stitching something or other but sketchbook out not so much.  This feels good to me in the sense that it will give them another dimension of who mama is.  Even if they can't yet grasp that I'm other than theirs at all times.  In the future they will internalize the notion that parents are more than just there for them, that we too have dreams and goals that run deep into our personal journey.

As this overload of ideas hits I've tried to avoid a feeling of slight panic by letting them float through my mind and out again.  Yoga and meditation training has helped with this.  Acknowledge the thought, then let it go.  Focus on your breath, stay in the moment.  Stitch and look.  Stitch and look.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Book of the Month: A Witchy read

As is my usual October offering I wanted to share a story that tends toward the darker side as we enter the dark time of year.  What is so magical about this novel though is that it is dark and full of light at the same time, a rare and wonderful gift from a story I'd say.

This novel has two titles it seems.  For readers in the U.S it's Corrag: A Novel by Susan Fletcher and in Canada it is called Witch Light.   This is a story about Corrag, set in 1692, who was raised by her wild mother and looses her at an early age to a witch hunt and how she makes her way.  It is told from her memories (which are lyrical and epic but also simple and intimate) and for a second perspective a Jacobite interviews her in her cell where she awaits her execution for witchcraft.  

This is a truly magical read but is very humanistic as well.  The descriptions of Scotland and England transport you there.  I tried to savor the story so I could stay there with the characters who are well rounded and empathetic but I could have read it quickly because you are compelled to learn more and hear the mystery of the Massacre at Glencoe.

Treat yourself to the journey of a young woman who lives a wild authentic life and sees with the perspective of one much older and wiser.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Trees are Life

My favorite part of the natural world has got to be trees.  I live on a mountain full of them, from every view out of the windows of our home their leaves reflect the sun in the summer.  In fall they drop colourful leaves in the heavy rains and in winter their strong branches bare the weight of occasional snow fall.  Spring brings buds and flowers on some varietals and birds sing of the wheel's turning.

The concept of the World Tree, Tree of Life as axis mundi or the connector of the sky, earth and underworld is one that resonates deep inside me.  In my trance work a large smooth tree with wide branches and curling roots acts as my entrance point to my sacred space.  Sometimes the tree is full of leaves, sometimes its branches are bare.  Always I feel secure as soon as I see it, its energy being familiar and grounding.

The scientific magic of trees is still being studied but I have been reading small snippets of articles that talk about the ability trees have to communicate with each other.  They clean the air, keep soil from eroding and provide shelter to countless other beings (us included).  Check out this video relating the connections trees have through their root systems.

I tend to shift which tree to focus on depending on the seasons.  In spring cherry, plum and apple blossoms herald new beginnings and maple trees share their sweet sap.  In summer I love willow, oak and birch trees; all the leaves in their shapes and textures and how the sun shines through them.   When fall arrives I tend to notice the trees laden with fruit and nuts and which ones turn colour first to signal autumn.  And as Yule comes the conifers whisper quiet words of reassurance and lend their evergreen to the starker landscape of cold, wet days.

Here are some books on my future reading list if you are just as passionate as I.  Don't forget to hug a tree today or stand in Tree pose and just be.

Arboretum America: A Philosophy of the Forest by Diana Beresford-Kroeger

Arboretum Borealis: A Lifeline of the Planet by Diana Beresford-Kroeger

Remarkable Trees of the World by Thomas Pakenham

Mythic Woods: The World's Most Remarkable Forests by Jonathan Roberts

How to Plant a Tree: A Simple Celebration of Trees and Tree-Planting Ceremonies by Daniel Butler

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Walk through

Autumn Equinox brought with it a certain blast.  It was a small inkling at first, a hesitant maybe next, and then that familiar swell of possibility overcame me.  I consulted with my partner, since all things for me affect him too.  And then I stood at an entryway waiting for just a second.  Is this it?  Am I going to do this?  Can I do this?  And then that blast pushed me over the threshold.  No more someday, there is only now.  So do it.

And so the last few days have been about laying a foundation and marking new territory.  The map I'm making has been made countless times by countless parents who pursue a personal passion while navigating the day to day life of their family.  I am not breaking new ground in theory.  But it is new ground for us.  Because just like that my focus has shifted, divided in two.  I don't know if that is a good approach but my instincts did it for me.  For now I'll ride it out and see how it goes.  I feel like this is asking a lot of the ones around me who love and need me.  But again, the journey twists and you have to follow where the universe leads.

Without a doubt this is a small step towards many years of hard work for me.  What turned into a ten year hiatus from pursuing the career I studied for is daunting.  I have so many fears.  I look back sometimes and wonder why I wasted so many years when I could have been building an art career.  But I know deep down that my current career of mothering has given me the courage to be an artist now.  I did not have the courage before.  Oh, I dabbled here and there, I tried a thing or two, but in the face of adversity I split.  Excuses made, moving on, I'll do that when ____ happens.

Being a parent has removed that internal bubble that I retreated to.  I can't find it anymore.  All I am is stripped bare of excuses.  I do it or I don't.  I make this happen, I take my chances and roll the dice.

I feel so grateful to have this chance.  To have the backing of love and support of loved ones.  Learning that life is about seasons and rolling with them.  Understanding that each time a challenge presents itself I have the chance to make a different choice and start again.   But now I begin making choices that are about my future fulfillment and not just about the little lives that I harbour.  My mothering journey is far from over, heck honestly it is never over per say.  What I've done though is walk through a doorway leading to something stemming from deep within.  I dream as big as the one I'm already living with my boys.  And having two big dreams co-existing never seemed doable until this moment.  And I'm going with it.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Poem of the Month: Apples

I wrote this poem in October of 2008 less than a year after becoming a mother.   Looking back on the seasons and how quickly they pass as I sit here 4 years later and now have two sons blows my mind.

Kyan in 2009

Our World in an Apple
My son, it is the time of apples
as you sleep, curled
rosy cheeks, round and full
the dishes sit in dissolving suds
leaves fall,
cold rain pounds the ground
and I think of you
how you have changed me
how you have opened every part
the nooks and crannies of my soul
how with this opening
I am fuller,
than before
inside apples are five pointed stars
your smile, your temper, your laughter, your hands and your eyes.
Yes I am open.
I am susceptible.
I am vulnerable.
I care more
about everything
my maiden could be withdrawn
she could turn away
she could stay inside her dream
as mother I love in the raw
my heart pulsing in one of your hands
while in the other you hold our world
reflected on an apple

Friday, September 28, 2012


It is with a thankful heart that I look back on our celebration of Autumn's arrival this year.

Gathered in a garden in the middle of the city we looked at art that was inspired by the earth.

I am thankful for stone, wood, red leaves, friends and family to share blessings with and the abundance all around us.

Thankful for good food, time to laugh and darker mornings.  Although I feel a bit fatigued from the change now as the light shifts us to a more quiet time of year, even though it gets busier despite the growing dark.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

About my Perception of Time

A new creative spark has been lit in these parts.  Every spare moment is being put towards making and doing rather than thinking too much.  While pondering is a big part of the process of art making I've noticed that sometimes the tired mommy brain that I've been afflicted with for the last 5 years can be a bit of a downer.
Last night I took it upon myself to organize my art documentation photos.  I created folders for categories and got the photos in place accordingly.  As I was sorting and looking through the last several years to find any strays I realized that while I'm certainly not producing at a full-time rate stuff is being made around here.  I mean much of it is documented in my Art of the Month category but beyond that there is stuff.  And I've made it.  Bit by bit by bit.  Hour by bleary-eyed hour.
So my point here is that I was being very glass half empty about my creative life and saying things like: I'll have more time later and I just wish I had time to make _____ but the thing is I do.
I have time, I make time, I make things.  I've made something almost each month of this year.
So I felt a bit sheepish last night as I moved yet another photo over into one folder or another.  There is time, things are being made and I'm so glad that I've taken the photos to remind myself of just how much I'm actually accomplishing here.
The thing is that the photos are concrete proof that I am using my time to create.  My bleary brain tells me often that I'm not.  That I'm consumed by mothering, housekeeping and life.  But my perception was wrong and for once I'm glad that I was.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Tales from My Garden Wrap-up 2012

Today my thoughts have turned away from my own garden and towards the busy season of Autumn before us.  Tomorrow I'm going to this with my lovely friend Sarah and our littles.  We'll have a ritual to celebrate the Equinox and enjoy the gorgeous scenery of these gardens.  I've been looking through recipe books to find a perfect fall cake to bring and soon another trip to pick apples will be scheduled.

As our calender fills up the garden is quietly beginning its decline.  The re-roofing project on our townhouse pulled me away from the garden earlier than ever this summer.  I was happy with the bountiful lemon balm which is still on the list for the dehydrator, as is the applemint.  The bee balm was eaten alive by something but I'm hopeful that it will come back next year.  I've dried raspberry leaves for tea and hope next year to get a harvest of berries from the plant.  As for the back patio plants the tomatoes continue to ripen over at my neighbour's place since our deck is a construction zone.  The cucumber didn't produce well and the parsley was not as prolific this year as last. 

I've taken away several lessons from this year's experiments.  The summer's abundance or lack thereof has given me lots to ponder.  With each lovely tomato that we've eaten (there haven't been that many so we've savored each one) I've become more decided that my tomato growing days are over for this period of my life.  I have tried for 3 years now and though each year has proven more successful than the last I think overall I can find a much better use for my time elsewhere.  Because of the heat on our deck the tomatoes require more attention than normal.  I'd rather be sewing than doting on tomatoes.  Especially when I have such wonderful options from the farmer's market in terms of heritage varieties and the like.

Our peas were great this year although no english shelling peas next year.  Just the snap ones will do for our summer snacks.  I'd need double to triple the production I did this year with the shelling peas to make it worthy of my time. 

The rhubarb was very abundant this year and I got many harvests from the one plant.  Next year I plan to get some manure for it in spring just to give it that extra boost it may need.  And otherwise I plan on getting more flowers for the patio next year so that my eyes and the bees and butterflies can enjoy them.  Growing food is a wonderful pursuit and I think it may take more of a central role in our family in the future.  For the next few years though I'm going to put my efforts into other areas and take advantage of the myriad of organic/biodynamic options that are all around the city.

There is still lots of work left in terms of putting all the plants to sleep and cleaning up pots for overwintering.  Last fall I got lazy and left it all out in the rain for the winter...something that I regretted this spring since carrying drenched pots of old potting soil is not fun.  I will plan out some fall days to clean up the remaining pots and also plan to cover the front bed with leaves for extra mulch and to add to the Halloween display that is in my mind's eye.  As always I'm grateful for the lessons that growing and working with the soil impart.  I hope your garden has blessed you with lessons and abundance this year.