Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Fallen Sun - A Winter Solstice Tale

On the morning after the Longest Night, Redtail Hawk spots a brilliant fire down below.

Why, it is the newly-returned Sun, flaming on the ground like a camp fire!

"Something is very wrong here," says Paper Crane as she wings by.

The cow and calves and the pig agree: the Sun is trapped on the earth! She can't fly!

Roused from his slumber by the animal cries and by the unexpected warmth nearby, Brown Bear lumbers out for a look. "Hm! The Sun flames well, but why can't she rise?"

Snow Moon snickers and sneers from his hiding place. He's trapped the new Sun, and is looking forward to eating her for lunch!

Brown Bear seeks help in the forest.

"Ho, ho, ho, what's all this?" calls Father Christmas, hearing someone shuffling and snuffling behind him.

"Sun is trapped on the ground," says Brown Bear. "Much as I like the warmth, no good will result if we leave things as they are."

"Ha, ha, ha!" crows the Snow Moon. "They'll never free her in time!"

"Here now," says Father Christmas, speaking softly to the little Sun. "I have a gift for you. This Star will help you fly."

"Oh! I feel better already," gasps the Sun.

Redtail Hawk is amazed! "Why, the Sun is growing larger!"

She rises, and you can still see that flower of fire blazing at her center!

The Star rises with the Sun. The Moon does too! But above them all, the Sun ignites into her full glory!

"Here, Paper Crane," says Father Christmas, "Here's the Star's shadow to brighten the town."

Father Christmas jumps on top of the Snow Moon.

"Oh well," grins the Snow Moon, before they speed away together. "Maybe next year."

Stepping out into the snowy morning, Anne knows that all is well.
Note: My amazing friends at Journey School provided me with Redtail Hawk and crafted the Christmas Tree at the center of the story.

And special thanks to Gwynne for story assistance and inspiration, and for her Sun-Star-Moon Rise photo art.

Chickens, Victory Gardens, And Herbs

My herb garden from a few years ago. If I can grow herbs anyone can!

Bright Solstice to you all! I have another Solstice tale to offer, but first--I want to encourage you all to get with the times (if you're not tuned into them already!). Yes, the times they are a-changing, and it is more than time to dust off a little self-reliance (or to get a little more down and dirty!) as we face the weather of uncertainty--or just want to ground ourselves in the things that are real--good, nourishing food; herbal cooking and remedies to take our own health into our hands; sustaining, enlivening community; understanding ourselves as beings of the natural world ...

I have a few suggestions to offer for 2009:

- raise backyard chickens.
You don't need a rooster for hens to lay eggs. Three hens is plenty for a great supply, and those chickens are so pragmatic and silly ... For more about the joys of chickens and some practical ways to get started, read my family's blog Plain Old Chickens or type "backyard chickens" in your search engine. Lots of folks are raising chickens in urban and suburban settings, as Newsweek reported a few weeks ago. Hey, you'll be on the cutting edge of national trends ....

- start a Victory Garden.
Growing any amount of veggies or herbs will make a difference in your life. Here's a great and informative article on modern-day Victory Gardens by Sharon Astyk. Also, wouldn't it be incredible if the White House transformed five acres of nonproductive lawn into an organic farm, as suggested by Michael Pollan, Farmer In Chief, in an Open Letter To The Next President Elect, back in Oct.?

Oh, gosh, I just have to quote this section of Michael Pollan's letter. Do read the rest of it to get a sense of what he means by "developing sun-based regional agriculture" -- so much of that is absolutely brilliant (bad pun in honor of the return of the Sun on this Winter Solstice day!).:

"Since enhancing the prestige of farming as an occupation is critical to developing the sun-based regional agriculture we need, the White House should appoint, in addition to a White House chef, a White House farmer. This new post would be charged with implementing what could turn out to be your most symbolically resonant step in building a new American food culture. And that is this: tear out five prime south-facing acres of the White House lawn and plant in their place an organic fruit and vegetable garden.

"When Eleanor Roosevelt did something similar in 1943, she helped start a Victory Garden movement that ended up making a substantial contribution to feeding the nation in wartime. (Less well known is the fact that Roosevelt planted this garden over the objections of the U.S.D.A., which feared home gardening would hurt the American food industry.) By the end of the war, more than 20 million home gardens were supplying 40 percent of the produce consumed in America. The president should throw his support behind a new Victory Garden movement, this one seeking "victory" over three critical challenges we face today: high food prices, poor diets and a sedentary population. Eating from this, the shortest food chain of all, offers anyone with a patch of land a way to reduce their fossil-fuel consumption and help fight climate change. (We should offer grants to cities to build allotment gardens for people without access to land.) Just as important, Victory Gardens offer a way to enlist Americans, in body as well as mind, in the work of feeding themselves and changing the food system - something more ennobling, surely, than merely asking them to shop a little differently.

"I don't need to tell you that ripping out even a section of the White House lawn will be controversial: Americans love their lawns, and the South Lawn is one of the most beautiful in the country. But imagine all the energy, water and petrochemicals it takes to make it that way. (Even for the purposes of this memo, the White House would not disclose its lawn-care regimen.) Yet as deeply as Americans feel about their lawns, the agrarian ideal runs deeper still, and making this particular plot of American land productive, especially if the First Family gets out there and pulls weeds now and again, will provide an image even more stirring than that of a pretty lawn: the image of stewardship of the land, of self-reliance and of making the most of local sunlight to feed one's family and community. The fact that surplus produce from the South Lawn Victory Garden (and there will be literally tons of it) will be offered to regional food banks will make its own eloquent statement ..."

- venture into growing and using herbs to nourish your health, and even provide a home remedy or two (or more!)

For a great introduction into the vibrant and vital world of herbs, visit, which has a free 7-day "Supermarket Herbalism e-course, and great articles for using herbs for nourishment and for making herbal remedies. If you want to go deep into herbal medicine I cannot recommend its companion site enough. For what is basically a $10/month membership you have access to quantities of audio interviews with practicing herbalists, herbalist courses, downloadable PDFs on various aspects of herbal medicine making, and access to a great community forum where you can access the great amount of information by the members.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

A Winter Solstice Fantasy

I took these pictures on the Winter Solstice, one year ago. The doll was created by Lisa Mathias. I hear it's been snowing pretty heavily on Vashon Island, as it has been here in N. E. Oregon. A year ago on Vashon was a little different ...

On a bleak icy Midwinter's Day, Shell Wakefield rides with her friend Grayhorn SilverAntler out into the bone-chilled fields.

A herd of giant hens roams the weary field, pecking open rotting pumpkins and jabbing at the frigid innards. A frightening sight!

Shell and Grayhorn SilverAntler remain steady. watching this amazing scene. Who would have ever expected that giant hens would have "a field day" through the Hundred Acre Wood Farm Community gardens!

The more Shell and Grayhorn gaze, the more wonders they spy--everyday miracles of a row of spinach poking forth despite the freeze.

... and even a perfect radish.

"So much is hidden away in all these tired rows--" Shell begins.

"Plenty, even with the giant hens," Grayhorn says. "Amazing indeed!"

"And not just greens--" Shell gasps, "Oh, Grayhorn--look over there!"

... A row of newly blooming calendula cheers on the tiny life of the emerging winter sun.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Day 15: Confronting Fear / Developing Faith

The fire feathers of our patridge cochin chicken, Tres (short for Trespassers).

Small poem for the morning


Nattering, chattering
pecking, crowing, oh, and
musical sighs of remembrance and sorrow--
It's like this everyday


In Soul Coaching we've now entered Fire week. I realized that in past Novembers, our family had participated in Lantern Walks--organized by the small nature school our daughters attended-- with story, song, and with hot cider and warm pumpkin muffins after. This was part of the sweet rhythm of the year that we enjoyed on Vashon Island for awhile (perhaps more my and my daughter Gwynne's cup of cider than the rest of our family's!). Anyway, I was aware that, now that we've moved to a whole new community, this festival is passing us by!

Keeping in mind that we are sparking a new life here, I've decided to make lanterns with Gwynne this week -- watercoloring some thick paper, cutting shapes in it, and gluing in a translucent colored paper, fingerknitting a handle, and carefully taping in a tea light. Maybe we'll have a little lantern walk to a friend's house in the neighborhood. Or maybe it will just be in our backyard, under stars and cloud and waning moon, soft singing for the sleeping chickens!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Day 14: Choosing Your Life

Wallowa Lake - is that me in that little red boat out there?

So, I've been lurking at Soul Coaching, a bookgroup blog focused on the book, Soul Coaching, by Denise Linn. I wasn't going to participate, but as the days passed, I found (as is the nature of these things) the color and concerns and texture of my life to be mirroring the focus of the day. I love that kind of sympathetic magic!

So, here I am on the last day devoted to the quality, archetype, element, being of Water. The thought for the day is what final limiting thought (or what have you) would you like to wash away? The I-Don't-Know I came up with for today is: I don't know if I'll ever finish any of my (big) creative projects again! ...

Considering that thought, my first response was to release this thought: I don't finish what I begin. But that's an old, tired, definitly not true thought from my achievement-is-everything days.

The thought I'd like to release is actually this: Completing projects is all-important.

The "boat" I choose is one I've been living for awhile: the knowledge that I choose my projects (Kamana Naturalist Training Program, writing my children's book, dreaming of creating a folk choir or a Threshold choir in this new place of ours) because they bring certain threads of aliveness and being in my life, lenses of awareness, purpose, and magic. Whether I actually birth or complete these projects doesn't matter right now (if they ever will). In the meantime, they support me in being curious, immersing myself in the new nature of my place, challenging myself to view the world in a mischievous, child-magic way, learning songs and sharing them in my day-to-day life, and offering simple ways to eventually connect with my community.

I write all that, but I also know that small steps lead to mountains. So, while I release the need to have a particular outcomes, I do know that just living in my nature (which comes alive when I have a particular weave of purpose around me) will likely lead to the emergence in this world of many of these dreams that carry me along. Or a slightly different forms of them.

Okay, on with the day!

Friday, November 14, 2008

A Little Morning Poetry

Photo from several years ago of a harp I no longer have in a house I no longer have, accompanied by various things I no longer have, in the rosy glow of sunset .... Beautiful, isn't it!

My friend Lisa encouraged me to keep a Book Of I don't Know everyday for 100 days, writing one thought a day of what I don't know, and being okay with the mystery of that not knowing, and just seeing what emerges. Well, what has emerged are little poems--not haiku, but certainly inspired by haiku.

Look! my village--
hens flap to me
hopeful for treats


Full moon--
I don't expect to see it
caught in the maple tree



I don't know if here
and there--
are the same places


Russet-leaf coat and white
nosing for tales
I don't know anything about the fox
I'd better ask.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Okay, I get It

Some artwork from a few years ago - "The House Of Belief".

I get it. After reading and working with all kinds of material, listening to many wise folk, sitting hundreds of hours in my secret spot, tracking my natural gifts (these last two are Kamana Naturalist Training Program routines), I really do get what this true nature
stuff is about. You'll find the notion very familiar, no doubt. I've certainly encountered it many times! But this time, something just turned carefully around, and I understood in my gut.

The 'it' is this: that if we are truly to live our true nature, we are not striving but being. We are absolutely present with where we are, just as an animal is, and we move through the challenges and possibilities of the day, the month, the year, responding and considering, but mostly by being in the moment, allowing what is in motion to move through us, and responding from our heart-and-mind, both as one. Our minds can consider forward and back through time, and create and consider in astounding ways. Our hearts know who we are in that soul/animal way, just what it is that moves through us, the absolute true and natural expression of ourselves if we "cleared the clutter" of ... whatever it is that keeps us from believing in who we are.

I understand now why I can perhaps live in a small house--in a town!--in a far-off corner of the country, and just do what I do, and it will be enough--more than enough. And I understand that I really did hear the clouds murmur to one another when they flowed east at sunset, the air entirely rinsed in gold, flower-blues appearing and disappearing to the northeast in a hues I never expected to see in the sky. That, when that splash of birds flashed across to the west, I knew that one could track clouds like deer, that they too had their motions and migrations that tell stories that could make sense to those of us who stand (or wobble!) on the earth below, if we took the moment to learn their language.

That being in this part of the valley, with the magnificent snow-robed Wallowas curving around one side, and the gold-brown hills of the prairie on the other is indeed to be held in the heart of a Medicine Wheel, and to feel the giant spin of the earth, the eternity of the cloud-and-star-filled sky, and the cleansing and healing nature of these great ancient beings, who actually aren't so ancient, geologically speaking.

Okay, I'm going to leave this topic here -- I have a daughter impatient for me to help her learn to knit (it means I have to relearn how to do it!).

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Watercourse Way and A Peace Of ...

This photo is an "oldie" from 1990, back when my harp partner Deb Knodel and I traipsed over to Cape Arago on the Oregon coast, and propped our harps in this lovely location. This photo contains the essence, for me, of my relationship with Reiki.

This is a big day for us Americans, as we 'cast our votes' for our hopes and dreams for a certain quality of future. In my own life, I feel like I'm in the process of 'election' as well. How will I begin to express myself in this new place that is our home? Will this place be one where we root and deepen for years to come, or will it be a stepping stone -- a place to gather our energies, enjoy and grow within a very different lifestyle, terrain, nature, and community for a time -- before moving along ... elsewhere.

In the end, it doesn't really matter what we elect, but how we are in each moment. I elect to be here, now.

Our small city library contains some amazing gems. One I'm currently reading is a translation Lao-tzu's Tao Te Ching with commentary by Dr. Wayne W. Dyer (called Change Your Thoughts--Change Your Life: Living The Wisdom Of The Tao).

The 43rd Verse goes like this:

The softest of all things
overrides the hardest of all things.
That without substance enters where there is no space.

Hence I know the value of nonaction

Teaching without words
performing without actions--
few in the world can grasp it--

that is the master's way.
Rare indeed are those
who obtain the bounty of this world.

In his commentary entitled, "Living Softly", Dr. Dyer goes on to describe 'the watercourse way' is to live in this way -- to emulate water, how it flows, how water is capable of overriding hardness, carving through stone with its patient, quiet, moving way. Anyway, I take those words to heart today, and consider the way of water, how in my own life that times are far more joyful, harmonious, satisfying when I am merely in my nature, moving easefully when the way opens, eddying in place when it seems shut, playing with that leaf spinning in my current and discovering the whole world in that leaf, until a way opens or reveals itself or falls away, and then onward!
Since the Watercourse Way is about peace, I'd like to segue to the art show entitled A Peace of ... Vashon. It is co-curated by Kara and Hawk Jones, as part of their on-line art project and gallery showing (open to contributions by any and all artists!), A Peace of .... The physical showing at Cafe Luna, on Vashon Island in Washington (our former habitat) opens this Friday and lasts all month. I've contributed this "peace of" for the show.

Sanctuary Origami
Size/description of piece:
8" x 8", watercolor/beeswax crayon/colored pencil/pen

Several years ago, I had a dream about a God's eye/Grandmother's eye pattern called Sanctuary Origami. The pattern sprang out of my hand like a healing symbol and transposed itself on the island of Vashon. The concept of "Sanctuary Origami" is as follows:

"The universe is like a lovingly crafted piece of origami. For those who are awake enough to celebrate her, she reveals her intricate patterns, carefully and beautifully aligned, fold upon fold upon fold. The work is pristine, and she is alive.

Each of us is one of those beautiful spaces within the patterned universe. Each of us is a creator of the origami that is our life. When we create and live our lives from a place of compassion, playfulness, grace, and spirit, that space we inhabit in all of Being becomes a blessing place, a sanctuary. I invite you all to view your lives, what you create in them, as Sanctuary Origami: intricate, joyful, continually unfolding, abounding with treasures waiting to be drawn forth and shared. When we witness the dance of each others' Dreaming and Being, the patterns deepen and express themselves more fully in everyone's reality."

In the dream, Vashon Island became an expression of Sanctuary Origami, its blessing full-spirit energy unfolding and expanding throughout the world and universe, changing it and deepening it -- A Peace Of Vashon, indeed!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

El Dia De Los Muertos

Mi Fiesta!

"Ofrenda" - art by Jane
and below that is ...
"Sugar Skull"

For the past few years I celebrated this deep, rich, beautiful holiday with family and in community. This year, the celebration is in the quiet earth of my soul. That said, I have 25 lbs of masa, a few pumpkins, some corn husks, and and various chiles, beans, and other ingredients to create those delicious treasures, tamales -- one of these days. And I have some artwork and photographs from past celebrations that I'd like to share. So please enjoy my blog "ofrenda"!

Photo of Bread Dough:
Ingredients for my 'pan de las inocencias' - bread dough includes a couple of crumpled organic red chilis, and generous helpings of fresh evening primrose and calendula petals from my garden, dried nettles gathered from our forest, and cinnamon. The inocencias mischievously nudged me about what to add!

Photo: Ofrenda in honor of las inocencias -- the young ones who have passed on--in utero, at birth, brief days, months, years into life ....

I'm participating in Dia de Bloglandia.
Click above to attend more gatherings!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Home At Last!

... and back on the internet! This is a photo of my girls walking hand-in-hand down a lonely road in Imnaha, a remote little town in a remote corner of Oregon. Though my daughters are seven years apart in age, the transitory nature of this past year (not to mention six months in a yurt, and a month in a motel, and a house that we didn't end up moving into) have gifted them with a relationship that I think might not have been possible otherwise. They are constant companions -- which means they fight fiercely--yes, but also play and create together. And of course tend with zeal and compassion to their chickens!

And yes, it makes a difference to live in a house again. Much as I loved living in the yurt--hearing the barred owls at night, walking to and from the barn to get water and having a true connection with the outdoors (after all a yurt is something of a glorified tent!)--and experiencing the magic of living "in the round", there was a transitory feel about living in that structure. My friend Chantel, who has also lived in a yurt, noted to me that many peoples who used round structures for their dwellings (tipis, for instance, as well as yurts) moved from one place to another. In her experience, everyone she knew who lived in a yurt was or found themselves to be in a place of transition. Perhaps the 'round' nature of the yurt or tipi calls its inhabitants to make significant life changes and be in motion?

Anyway, I love our little house--and it is small! It's a third the size of our former home on Vashon! (the house, not the yurt :-) ). But there is a sweet simplicity and practicality about the place. We are warm when its cold out (so far!), and cool when it's hot. There is space here for 'enough' of our things. I feel sometimes as if I'm on a boat, as I attempt to stash a few more things in clever places around this house. The house itself has a symmetry that offers an interesting counterpoint to our former 'living in the round', and feels very sturdy, suggesting that, if we wanted, we could be here for a long time and be happy, No matter what we decide, we will be here for awhile. But I still dream of living where the stars are just blazing in the night, no light pollution. Here in town--even a small town--there are street lights. But not far away, you do get that incredible night sky. When we stayed in Imnaha the sweep of the Milky Way was so bright and close I felt I could reach out and scoop some into my mouth!

Okay, enough for now! Blessings of Autumn to all of you!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Lisa's Story Dolls

Two photos of Shell. Doll made by Lisa Mathias. Shell is an archer, complete with a handmade bow slung across her back!

Shell riding on Grayhorn. I can't remember the name of the artist who created Grayhorn!

My friend, Kara (mentioned several times now in this blog! -- well, her blogging inspires me to blog!) recently chronicled her journey to the Wallowa Valley in N. E. Oregon, where she visited our mutual friends, the Mathiases. Kara's words about Lisa's character dolls inspired me to post these pictures of one of mine, the one I call Shell -- or who calls herself Shell!

I spotted Shell at Vashon Island's Lavender Festival Farm Tour last year, where Lisa had a booth selling her amazing character dolls. I walked back and forth in front of the booth numerous times until finally deciding that I had to buy her! Here's the fun thing: Shell is the main character of that book I've been writing for the past 20 years, a story which has morphed into its own creation, finally, and not just a rehash of the novel I wrote when I was 25. When I saw this doll, I knew that she was Shell of the new version. And since then, my book character Shell and Shell-as-this-doll have been telling each other's story--creating their story. The doll has her own adventures -- I play with her when I play with my younger daughter Gwynne -- sometimes on our yurt floor with Gwynne's Polly Pockets, sometimes out in the forest or in the garden. Shell's stories unfold in my mind -- the tale that's taking place in my book, my games with Gwynne, and fancies with this doll itself, out in the natural world .... I'll share some of my photo tales of this doll with you sometime!

In the meantime, I bring up Shell now, because I know that Lisa has some magic planned with the dolls she makes and with story ... I'm looking forward to experiencing what emerges!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Stepping Into Summer

My daughter Gwynne created this path of petals one day, with calendula and some unknown purple flower. It seems a good metaphor for my experience of life right now. the place I'm at, beautiful and dappled by sunlight, but really, I've no idea where we're heading!

Oh, we have plans. A good, hearty road map to guide us. But I still very much feel the threshhold nature of our lives -- that we are still in the Unknown, and the answers won't solidly be in place for awhile -- perhaps!

So I tend to the things before me: working a little bit each morning on my children's magical nature novel, reading with my daughters (we're finishing the Harry Potter series for the third time), playing with chickens, hanging out with the flowers in garden and with their spirit natures, tending to the details of packing up our lives for our move to -- where? Well, as I said, we have our plans and ideas, but the destination does not feel fixed yet, even though we choose or discern our way and act on what we think is before us, what feels right. I think this is the way it always is in our lives, that quality of unknowing and change. It's just a bit more obvious right now!

In the afternoons I usually make a little time to work on some music. I'm digging up songs I've written which few, if any, people have ever heard. I'm astonished by what has happened when I haven't been looking! In the number of years I've had of not performing, not practicing much, not overtly working hard, I've discovered that much has flowed under the scenes. Hey! I have a voice that actually pleases me now! And the songs are ... fine. And my musical sensibility intrigues me. So much to be said for allowing things to lie fallow. It isn't time yet in my life to focus with intellect and fierceness on doing what it takes to perform these things with meticulous craftsmanship and artistry, but I can enjoy the heart journey of exploring their shapes and possibilities.

So, on step by step I taste what's before me -- the equivalent of the zesty and tiny Indian plum fruits and the tart red huckleberries, and the deepening flavor of the salmonberries that are now ripe. The summer has swelled into fullness of warmth and burnished grasses and the succession of fruits and seeds, with a sweet breeze cooling us off when it all becomes too much.


Monday, June 2, 2008

Where In The World?

Eggs Of Peace - a garden photo

It's been quite a while since I last posted. Here is the latest goings on in the garden of my life.

1. We're selling our place on Vashon and moving to ...???? The short version is that we realized that we were working against the nature of our very beautiful place here on Vashon (as well as against King County's regulatory nature) in what we wanted to do next (build a passive solar home, scale down our farming and gardening....). We have a couple of enticing possibilities that we'll be exploring the week after next in northern California. More news if and when things unfold!

2. The first of the Inspiration & Healing Deck artists collaboration is complete, with the second proof due soon! I'm excited to have two pieces of artwork included in this project, and thank the ever-miraculous, Kara Jones for dreaming this and making it happen!

3. The Labyrinth Retreat didn't happen ... but it may be rescheduled. Contemplative retreat facilitator, Carol Spangler, labyrinth designer Betty Hawkins and I have a beautiful day of reflection designed for sharing in the luminous space of a garden labyrinth. If you think you might be interested in attending, let me know!

4. I'm back to work on my book!
Ok ... this may not be fanfare news for those of you who've heard about my book for the past 20 years (I'm not kidding). I have Kara to thank yet again, for her inspiration. When I viewed what she's offering for sale I woke up to the possibilities of "print-on-demand" publishing, and realized that technology and availability have finally caught up to my dream of creating a full-color book that is a novel verging on graphic novel ....

One of the gifts of having to simplify our lives and possessions as we live in our 24' diameter yurt and most likely will be in very transitional housing for months to come, is that I'm granted the opportunity to select carefully what and how I'm going to focus my creative energy. Right now I'm choosing to create art everyday, working on my skills as I go, with a mind and eye to what might weave with the novel. Our scanner is in storage, otherwise I'd share what I've been playing with!
5. I've been tagged! See Kara's comment at the end of my last post. I'll try to respond to it next time!

Hens In The Greens - delicious!