Grackle & Sun

A Glimpse of the Land of Enchantment

Roadtrip to New Mexico.  The American West has ridiculously huge skies.

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Hot desert down below; cool mountains above. All redolent with the scent of pine, cedar, juniper, and desert sage. These are the Sandia Mountains. Albuquerque lies below.

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Petroglyphs carved into volcanic basalt.

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Darkling beetles guard the path ass-up. They are also called stink beetles. This is their warning.

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On the sandstone bluffs at El Malpais.  Ask me about how we got chased by a black bear up here. Yeah. Black bears on bluffs. Big ones. In the desert. Who knew? Not I, said the cat. Very fast runners, black bears.

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As far as you can see, below these bluffs, is an ancient lava field.  Much is grown over with the resilient plants and trees that are native here–but not all.  The black basalt peeks through in many large patches.

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See those two tiny dots below? That’s my son and my husband. Notice I am not there. I am safely on terra mas firma trying not to toss my lunch while I watch in horror and admiration–but mostly horror–as they climb the tallest of the sandstone bluffs they could find.

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More sandstone.  From a reasonable vantage point.

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La Ventana Natural Arch. My favorite.

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Hiking through the lava fields.

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The mountains outside Santa Fe.

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Glorious, glorious place. Had to share. As soon as I finish with some plant id-ing, I’ll post photos of the native flora there. So many beautiful blooming flowers. Next time, I hope to see even more of New Mexico. I am thoroughly enchanted.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guide to Spring

In Missouri, you can’t count on the weather to tell you what season it is. It might be 65 degrees in December; it might be 35 degrees in May. Strike that. At some point, it will be both of those things.  But despite the fact that I never seem to know when to pull my head out of the covers, the earth knows when to stretch. The flora and fauna know when to peek out and then get busy.  From one moment to the next there is a shift, the light turns white and crystalline bright, and suddenly you’re late for Spring! Here’s a lovely, quick little visual guide to my cues this time around the wheel…

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Lambing season is in full gear–31 and a few still due. No bottle babies this year, which was a major Phew! The garden has had a generous helping of sheepy compost and a tilling or two. And if it ever stops raining on my days off, I’ll plant some seeds… I have so many seeds to plant. So, so many.

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Super exciting things are in the works on the farm. And in my life. I don’t want to jinx anything, so we’ll wait to talk about it until the will-be becomes the is. I hope all your springs are pleasingly full of potential and the emergence of glorious creative goodness. And seeds. And if you’re very lucky, lambs. ;)

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live happy,

dre

 

 

Eggs and Kitchen Dyes

I recently taught a class where I work: how to naturally dye eggs.  Fun was had. And it made me long for wool. :D

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naturally dyed eggs 3

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Have fun celebrating Spring in whatever way floats your boat.  I am off to eat delicious Puerto Rican food with my family.

Live happy, dye happy!

 

Resolute

I love this time of year, when everything is turned to browns and greys; when the earth shows its bones, its humbling architecture. 20151220_103014The weather is changeable where we are. Christmas day was a balmy 60 degrees this year. Strange, but lovely. Then it was all thunderstorms and tornadoes. And flooding, lots and lots of flooding. Not what one would expect at the end of December, even in the Midwest.  Now it’s cold. Finally. And still flooding.

We took advantage of the winter reprieve to tend to the garden–something which got lost in the shuffle this fall. Husband did a rough turning over with the tractor, but before he did, I made sure to clear out any big stuff that was left–a missed tomato cage, dried okra stalks, pavers, and… Look what I found!

20151220_104242Yeah. That’s a radish bigger than my head! And you know what they say–never eat anything that’s bigger than your head and certainly not three that are bigger than your boots… Should I be a radish farmer or what?20151220_104333

Time to sweep out the old year and welcome in the new. I am so excited for this new year, I can hardly stand it. I’ve got a list of all the things I want to do:

  1. Become best friends with my body–maybe do some juicing, a little cleansey+detoxy sort of thing, and (ahem) start working out again. Easy, right?
  2. Take trumpet lessons.
  3. Grow a bunch of awesome seedlings for the garden.
  4. Establish proper dye, herb, and medicinal gardens.
  5. Do this fun Plant Ally Project Challenge.
  6. Two words: Dye. Yarn.
  7. Have the soil at the farm tested.
  8. De-fence the pastures. Re-fence the pastures.
  9. Begin management intensive grazing.  Of the sheep, not me.
  10. Start drawing again. Play with the inks (that I’ve had for 5 years).
  11. Fix my sewing machine. Sew.
  12. Learn how to make tinctures and more medicinal tea blends.
  13. Learn how to can, freeze, and dehydrate.
  14. Take more walks.
  15. Paddle the MR340.
  16. Prolly ought to practice paddling.
  17. Sprout broccoli. Eat the sprouted broccoli.
  18. Make water kefir. Drink the water kefir.
  19. Figure out what I want to do when I grow up.
  20. Send postcards to friends and family.
  21. Go on a silent retreat.
  22. Write down the stories in my head.
  23. Clean the basement. LOLOLOLOL.
  24. Welcome the magic in my life.
  25. PLAY MORE. And relax, everything is ok.

It all looks so simple in a list. Who knows how much of it will happen. Doesn’t matter. I used to care about checking things off the list, but then I realized that it’s much nicer to just let the list show me what categories of things I’m finding important and/or need to work on. Maybe I’ll chuck through it, maybe I’ll struggle. But I will remain resolute that however it goes, it goes in good cheer and thankfulness.

So, friends, what hopes do you have for the New Year? What fantastical feats do you wish to accomplish? What mad new skillz do you dream of acquiring? What do you secretly dream will happen in the upcoming months? Tell me, tell me!

Have a very happy New Year!  May it be filled with many blessings–good health, good company, and loads of good luck.

–d

 

 

 

 

 

To Feel Linen: A Field Trip

I’ve been in the mood for art. Seeing art. Experiencing art. Thinking about art. Maybe even making art. This past Saturday, I had the good fortune to spend a beautiful day at three art exhibits at three different art museums.

The first was the St. Louis Art Museum’s Modern exhibit featuring designs from local architects, artists, and designers from the 30’s through 60’s. Very cool. Very Scandinavian. Some great textiles.

The third was a beautiful and ethically complex exhibit of African Kota at the Pulitzer Arts Foundation. Kota are wooden and metal sculptures which were carved to protect the bones of the deceased. To see these sculptures in a museum is to seen them taken away from their purpose. Despite the fascinating glimpse into another culture and history, I couldn’t help thinking, who is watching over the ancestors now?

The second was an exhibit by Sheila Hicks at the Contemporary Art Museum.  You can take the tour with me via the sad, sad photos taken with my phone’s camera, OR you can click on the link above and take a quick video tour of the whole exhibit. It gives a much better sense of scale, and you can pretend that you went with me!

Here are some pics:

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Sweden, 2004. Linen, wool, and silk.

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Feeling Blue, Seeing White, 2013. Cotton on bast.

 

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Full Regalia, 2007.

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Natural linen and triple-dyed embroidery cotton.

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Evolving Tapestry: Blue, 1967-68. Linen and silk.

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Don’t you just want to run your hands across it?

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Escape to the North, 2013. Linen, silk, bamboo, and porcupine quills.

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Masonry Panel, 1981. Linen and cotton.

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Forêt de Lin Wall Hanging (c. 1968, reconstructed 1983) Wet-spun linen.

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I can just imagine a soft breeze rustling these softly.

 

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Hieroglyph Wuppertal, 1966. Natural linen.

I truly loved this exhibit. Loved all the weaving. Loved all the linen. So much texture and colour. It was beautiful and simple and glorious. I also must admit that I had to keep my hands locked firmly under my arms so that I wouldn’t forget and touch the pieces. The soft, blue fuzziness of the Evolving Tapestry. The glorious bas-relief effect of the Forêt de Lin Wall Hanging. Which I desperately wanted to touch. To make it rustle. Like sheaves of wheat. It was almost too much. It was almost unkind to not let us touch. Almost. Textiles beg to be touched. Or I beg to touch textiles. Take your pick. ;)

Morning Meditation: {Don’t Think of Elephants}

I was chasing the sun. A common thing. Early in the morning. An uncommon thing.  But it’s what I needed to do. So Ronin and I drove to the banks of the Mighty Mississippi, which is where the sun was hanging out.

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Ronin is my good buddy.

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I’ve lived by the Mississippi for years and years. I’ve watched full moons and red moons rise over it. I’ve seen it high and rushing, full of branches and limbs as big as boats. I’ve seen it so low it showed its secrets–wing dams and dry banks. I’ve seen it whipped so hard by the wind that whitecaps stood up like ocean waves. I’ve seen it in the dark with only lights from the bridge reflecting on its dark surface. But I’d never seen it at dawn. I didn’t realize that until I was standing there watching the mist rise off the water like some otherworldly veil, softening the sounds of the river as it flowed past.

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The riverfront here is a combination of paved areas and old hand-laid rough cobblestones. You can walk along it for a long way in either direction, and you can walk right into the water if you like. Something caught Ronin’s attention, and he was trying–as only a dog can–to inhale the entire world through his nose. I followed him, curious about what had him so excited. We walked right to the edge of the embankment, several feet above the water, and looked down. There was a dead fish floating–half a silver carp–very big, staring up at us. Mystery solved. I wondered how it had died, why it was there. Then I caught something out of the corner of my eye. Immediate recognition. A few feet to the left, nestled between some sharp rocks, an unmistakable shape under the water.

Ganesha.

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I asked Ronin to wait for me and climbed over the edge of the embankment onto the rocks below. Ganesh was glowing orange with the light of the dawn, the colors soft under the muddy water. And there it was. The whyness of my morning.

Ganesha, the Remover of All Obstacles, the god of new beginnings.

We said thank you to the river, goodbye to the dawn. We stood and waited patiently for a morning train to pass; it’s tracks run right between the river and the street where we parked. It’s the only place I know where you can stand so close to a passing train that you could touch it, jump on for a ride. And nobody thinks anything of it. Small town. Ganesh rode in the passenger seat as I drove us all home. I washed the river off him and anointed him with butter, and now he sits in our kitchen where he is very happy to look over things from the heart of the house. And obstacles are being removed.

The elephant in the room is my atheishness. But I’ve learned not to overthink these things. Gifts from the Universe take many forms, and we are fools to think they will only come in one flavor–no matter how we try to construct our reality. So follow what pulls you, keep your eyes open for shapes in the water, and listen to your dogs. That is how you catch a wave and surf the Universe–nimbly and joyously and always, always with gratitude.

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Hot Granola

It has begun. The transitional winds are a-blowin’, and I am feeling reflective. I am living in that thin place in the Inbetween that makes me itchy and restless, melancholic and introspective, and ultimately buzzing with awareness of all that is unseen around me. I realized the other day that I measure the years of my life in summers, in how many summers have passed and passed. Here it is passing again. My gut reaction is always to hold on to the long light so tightly, afraid that if I let it go without a fight, I too will slip away like summer does–into the silence of the cicadas, the darkness of the fireflies.

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It’s weird to wake up one day and to not recognize yourself–to find that what once was used to protect yourself somehow became a barrier to being yourself.  It’s a bi-product of anxiety and of living too long in the wrong place. And what happens? You disconnect from the Flow, only occasionally aware of how you fit in the Universe. You think your eyes are open, but they are not open. This is what happened. I became this serious thing, impatient. I forgot how to play.

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I remember one day last summer, walking through the woods along the creek that runs not far from our house, and it hit me: I had to make it my priority to unclench. That has been my daily practice this year–to gently, but surely, pry open the fist that holds my insides in a deathgrip. Because clenching or unclenching is a choice. How we see and respond to the world is a choice. Old habits die hard. I have to shake off this pall frequently, reminding myself to lighten up.

To open up.

                                                                                                To look up.

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In all this reflectiveness, I came to understand something which I think is rather important: the deep necessity of all things whimsical.

Whimsy is my antidote to apathy.

I have learned that when life sends you whimsy, you take it and say thank you. You eat it until your soul-belly is full. You breathe it in until you can feel it in every cell of your being. You wrap it around your shoulders like a cashmere pashmina, because what is whimsical can keep you warm in a cold, cold world of assholes, drudgery, and taxes. It is the delightful and profound pairing of beauty and playfulness that reminds us to be curious, to be lighthearted, and most of all open to seeing a reality that is quite different than what we’ve been told it should be. Because the truth of something is not always in its facts. That is magic.

Whimsy is a gift, and those that bring it into your life should be welcomed with open arms. And if we are very lucky, we can create a little of our own, too, and cast it into the world to share. I am blessed to be surrounded by people who bring beauty to the world and who very patiently remind me to play.

Happy Equinox, All.

Chickie-booms

Quick chicken update.

We (and by that I mean mostly my Husband of Awesomeness) fenced in the garden and a bigger, lusher chicken yard this spring.  They have a huge (you know, for a chicken) space to graze. And they do–with an intensity that is both mind-boggling and addictive to watch. It is strangely satisfying (and ridiculously easy) to make chickens happy.

Husband of Awesomeness, aka Fence Builder.

One of the Buff Orpies.

Doing their thing in the freshly tilled earth.

A very gentlemanly rooster.

Curious chicken. Or maybe she was helping to pick out seeds.

And then this one had to have a say.

No, they’re not dead. They take dust baths, then they take dust naps.

Hunkering down.

CHICKS!!!

They grow fast. And they’re a completely different colour and pattern than the hen or the rooser. See them in the back?

A blurry close-up–they are very skittish and won’t let me get close. Mama hen was protective in a way I didn’t care to test, lol.

Chickens eating lemon balm = happy (and very relaxed) chickens. :D

Sad news. One of the Buff Orpies disappeared. We are guessing a hawk. There is a pair of red-shouldered hawks that live in the woods behind the lake. Sad that she is gone, also know that it’s just how it goes on a farm. The pen attached to the chicken house is completely covered, but the only way to let them have the joy of the open pasture is to leave them somewhat vulnerable. Sigh. It’s a trade-off, but one that is worth it for the health of the flock, I think.

That’s all my chicken news for now. Next plan–building a chicken swing. Not even kidding. :D

Morning Meditation: Life As It Should Be

It really can be this simple.

Satisfaction.  Contentment.  Fulfilment.  Happiness.

And the measure of this?

All to be found in watching a flock of sheep graze in a green pasture.

In the light filtering through dogwood blossoms.

In the song of a red-shouldered hawk hiding in the canopy of great oak trees.

In the hum of bees in pear blossoms.

In the soft green of leaves unfurling.

In the warmth of the sun’s good medicine.

In belonging where you are.

Wait for It….

I missed the lunar eclipse. Would not really have been able to see it from here anyway. So I slept.

And then I woke up, and during the course of my day, saw all these other wonderful things instead!

Overnight, all the violets in the world bloomed.

The woods behind my house full of Spring Beauty, Claytonia virginica.

A miniature field of grape hyacinths, which smell absolutely divine–from a close distance.

Always happy to see these sunny little lions.

Chickweed, Stellaria media. Of course, not a weed at all, but a medicinal soother.

May…

Apples…

Un…

Furling.

Maybe this year I’ll get to taste one…

A nibble-on Trillium.

Native American fishing net plummets. Who knew? I did not.

Thank you, local Conservation Center!

And, my friends, for the best part of the day.  I took a lovely afternoon drive–windows down, Bjork blasting her quirky Icelandic heart out on my speakers.  A drive which led to my knitting buddy’s alpaca farm. I feel that should be in all caps.

ALPACA FARM FIELD TRIP!

Aw, yeah. That’s right. All the fun enhappenated.

Oh, the squishy, springy, lustrous wonderfulness. I touched a lot of alpaca today.

 I got kissed by an alpaca. No joke. It’s how they say hi, things are cool. They have very soft noses. This is not the alpaca I bumped noses with. It’s hard to take a picture of an alpaca when her face is in your face, so Sweetums remains unseen.

They will be shorn next week. Ready for the heat of a Missouri summer. Their teeth will be filed (as the photo above shows, it’s time) and their toes trimmed. All in 8 minutes per animal, so I’m told. Professional shearers know their stuff, hunh?

Look at that coat! Practically begging to be spun. I’ve never wanted a wheel as much as I did today. I’ve got to start spinning.

The biggest surprise to me was how stout alpaca are. They are muscley little things under all that gorgeous, sproingy wool.

They are also very curious and personable. Really delightful souls.

Alpaca. Best field trip ever.

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