Wednesday, May 30, 2007

forest majick

The weekend was filled with majickal things. I learned to identify some of the common plants of my region: plantain, miner's lettuce, wild oats, poisonous hemlock. I made a special love charm. I slept in a real tepee.

Many different kinds of camps come here: Indian Princesses, private parties, and the Winnerainbow Circus camp too. A true community forms as we all co - habitate for awhile, making our own little village. Tents pop up all around the big tepees, and a kitchen springs to life. We were fed gourmet vegan food (think chard, kale and chickpeas) that felt like a cleanse. No TV or radio (the a few of the kids had Shuffles) made it easier to hear the trickling water of the creek nearby and of course, the birds...we first heard, and later saw, a big wild turkey skulking around near the serving area. Artemis stalked him with an eye to a big tail feather (she wants to make a quill pen.)

There were baskets full of love everywhere at the Marketplace on Sunday afternoon. Lotions, potions, and all things herbal, made by hand, were sold or traded: soap, herbal brew, artwork, clothing, jewelry. I snapped pictures of some of my favorite things.

Mia makes baby pants, colorful organic cotton expertly sewn. I bought two pairs of bloomers for the little p., and was kept $50 richer by the woman in front of me buying the last pair of adult bloomers. They were a rich apricot color, with ruffles of the same fabric. Now I am obsessed with making some just like them. (It felt good, though, to BUY some things I could have easily made - it made me feel, well, rich.) Mia sews in Woodacre, California, and I can give you her email if you want.

Not many of the vendors had websites, and I was surprised. I encouraged everyone to try so I could link them here next year. Corbin Brashear makes these felted creatures in Williams, OR. She gave me this link to her majickal world. I bought that mushroom you see there, BTW. Who wouldn't?!

I traded my carmate for her wonderful hydrosols: lavendar and rose, and I bought a rosemary one from another woman for my hair. I got healing salves that feel so good on my lips. I bought a super cute recycled material top from Beth Grim, owner of Green Grim who "specializes in reclaimed and natural fibers." She was a cutter just like horsey girl: altered clothing, groovy colors, simple techniques that were so cool. (Got her email, too! Hi Beth, hope you're reading....)

And after the shopping, the big ritual. More to come...

Tuesday, May 29, 2007


Holy Maiden Huntress, Artemis, Artemis
Maiden, come to us

Here Horsey Girl gets ready for her adventure. She is obsessed with her bow and arrow...spending many hours sharpening, honing, taking aim. We are embarking on a journey of the female soul...the hour approaches for her to embrace her womanhood.

We pick up a friend to carpool with; I believe she is my New Best Friend. Z. Z. supports us as we whirl up highway 101 with our hearts in our throats. Our destination: the Yoniverse.

The Northern California Women's Herbal Symposium is held three times a year in Laytonville, California. The forest here is much like my own, but enhanced by a river - much bathing happens here, as well as relaxing and enjoying the company of like - minded women from many directions. Oregon is well represented here; and the Santa Cruz contingency hold it's own. We meet, greet, eat, and embrace knowledge of our common bonds: sustainability, make-your-own, the New Three R's (reduce, reuse, recycle), and just plain being a woman. Yes, four whole days of women only - there's nothing like it.

Here the Crones overlook the proceedings. Crones are the oldest members of our community; armed with life experience and a willingness to offer help, they are the pillars of communication and the passing on of tradition, values, and just good advice.

Here a resident Crone works on her broom. In the foreground, we are invited to weave wishes into the web of Crone wisdom, appealing to the Ancestors with our petitions for love, peace, and highest good.

Here empowered women gather to take classes in herbology, crafting, and majick. There are many to talk to, many to learn from, many friends to make and much laughter to share. I look forward to sharing more images with you! Stay tuned...


Monday, May 21, 2007

a perfect world

In a perfect world, everyone does their part. Here's Fanny Mae helping out with the mowing. Besides a medium sized Weed Whacker she's all we got. And she enjoys doing it.

Unfortunately, there's not a lot she can do in this particular area: my so - called garden. This one has gone WILD in the time I had my back turned (egads - is it really about seven months now?!) In my perfect world, everyone does their part - so sweet dh and the little p went to work for me. The Weed Wacker was the mighty knight in this story of A Quest For a Garden.

I made the fence around this garden myself, some six or seven years ago. Each year I dutifully weed, plant, water and forget about it - then gorge on the bounty of a late summer and early fall harvest: tomatoes, squash, peppers and beans, and fresh herbs on everything.

Then it goes wild again....until the next May.

It was a Big Job, good thing I had a Big Girl helping me. Of course there was no end to the help, what with all the dogs milling around. How does one get their children to be more helpful? It seems easy when they are little. But my big ones (13 & 16) are use. less.

In my limited experience, I wonder if just constant assurance does the trick. Even if you (oops!) make a mistake, it's OK because you were trying to help. P. #2 tries so hard, her tongue sticks out! As she will tell anyone, (but especially her dad), "I'm a GOOD helper."

As usual, overcome by the beautiful bounty at the nursery, I bought too much. No time for seeds! These plants (on the right) hold the promise of Autumn gluttony. Who needs the Farmer's Market? Why burn the gas to get there? We got it right here baby.

On the left is a scattering of little pots holding seeds P #2 and dh planted together. The sunflowers look promising, and I think there are beans as well.

Also in a perfect world, I would have time to indulge in all my hobbies at once. Witness the Studio, a corner of the upstairs suite the big girls sleep in. It's OK for housing my stash; the yarn and fiber are in the closet, in need of tidying. I've got piles of fabric...but I never sew. If I do, it's a fast and furious day - long stint, and then I'm over it. (Hmmmm, do I feel one coming on?)

Where's my Fairy Godmother to wave her wand and make time expandable beyond measure, stretching out to cover all the wishes and ideas I can imagine? I'm ready.

Sunday, May 20, 2007


Sometimes grace appears when you least expect it. Events happen like a stream of consciouness, and if you are paying attention, they lead you towards your highest good. Such was the day I ran across this blog.

For some time I have been thinking about doing some more dying. Six years ago, I attended a natural plant dying workshop at the Women's Herbal Symposium. I used redwood pods to create a beautiful shade of lavendar, and dyed a pair of cotton panties (unfortunately I hung them in a tree to dry and then forgot them!) I guess my memories were stirred as Horsey Girl and I will be attending the gathering this weekend. I was hoping, and reaching out in my mind, to those like - minded women who circle 'round and share their knowledge and crafts.

But back to Simmy. On the day I first found her she was posting about a few books she was wanting to swap, and one looked particularly interesting - a natural dye plant guide. I commented right away, and though I missed getting the one she posted about, I was next in line for a similar book she thought I would enjoy.

Simmy was so thoughtful and generous with this idea, that when it turned out it would be a very looooong time for the book to reach me (she's in the UK), she sent a little pre - present my way: a rainbow of naturally dyed Cotswald, such a precious, precious gift! The colors are amazing, and the fleece is so different from the highly processed roving I've been using - it's soft and greasy and has that special smell. I will be spinning this on my new drop spindle, and plan to knit a majickal rainbow bag with the energized singles, something like the one in the Twisted Sister's Sock Book. These lovelies will travel with me to the Symposium and no doubt will create some future bonds with interested companions...spinners just naturally attract an audience!

And look, she sent embellishments for the bag as well...these sweet cutouts, plant dyed from a felted blanket. I love the card and Simmy's beautiful photo tags as well. I think I have much to learn from her!

Many, many thanks to my new friend! You have brought much grace to my life...I honor our connection, and hope that my special gifts reach you safe and sound as quickly as possible. Keep your eye out!

Thursday, May 17, 2007


It's an amazing year for cherries! This tree has been hit or miss...the year before last, incredible yield; then last year, nada. We are luckier than lucky to have more cherries than you can believe right now. Tonight I braved the rickety ladder to retrieve some of the bounty.

Mostly I am scared of ladders, and this one is the worst. To make matters worse, it has been a veritable magnet for each and every daughter...wanting to be a good mother, I let them venture up, but I pay for it later with a stress stomach ache!

And speaking of stomach aches, do you remember eating so many cherries that you wanted to die? I do. Riding in the back of someone's old truck, the cherries sweet and juicy and I just couldn't stop....and then the unmistakable feeling: too much. Must stop now. Ack! The ache.

I do believe these particular specimens are worthy of Mary Engelbreit. They are deceivingly difficult to pick, however. Plucking a promising handful almost always results in a bit of branch following suit. I'm learning that, like the best things in life, cherries should be picked slowly and mindfully, one at a time.

Oooooh, there are a lot of them. A conversation at work did not yield a lot of ideas for their fate. "Umm....well, cherry pie...." and then it kind of drifted off. The year before last dh canned some, with less than desireable results. Freezing? But for what? Cherry jam?

Any ideas would be appreciated! Surely there are some foodies out there reading this blog.

Lucy's got a good idea. "Ditch these and come play with ME." And thankful for her advice, I do.

I can always pick more tomorrow. Seems the birds don't have the word out (yet).

And these are just the bings! Next week the royals will be ready. Recipes, s'il vous plait!

Monday, May 14, 2007

mom's day

Princess #2 and I spent a lovely midmorning at her school, taking tea. Here is the placemat she made: Mom and Me Over the Rainbow.

Looks like I don't need to diet after all.

Hmm, here comes the treats! In addition to peppermint tea, we enjoyed handmade scones and cookies. She was so proud to be hostessing.

But what is this? A present? Pour moi?! I can see she worked so hard on it.

The box opens to reveal a precious message, all tied up in a sweet bow. Inside it reads:

Dear Mom,

I love you because you make me everything I want.
Mommy, I like it when you give me cookies and I like it when you make me soup.
Thank you for giving me things I love to eat.
I love it when you give me new shoes.
I love it when you give me chicken.
And I love it when you come to my school.
Thank you Mommy; you pick flowers for me.
I love flowers.


In spite of the fact that I really don't pick flowers for her, and she won't touch chicken OR soup, the whole thing brought a tear to my eye.

Now we just need to work on getting the letters in the right order.

Mother's Day, 2007. What is remembered, lives.

Friday, May 11, 2007

growing stuff

I've always disdained fake flowers. Dried arrangements leave me depressed. Plastic? Not so much. Until my lovely orchid finally dropped it's last petal, and while at Beverly's I spied something terrific.

My favorite shade of green...and looking remarkably real... these chartreuse silk blooms are making me smile, and promise to keep me smile indefinitely. Which is more than I can say for most things in my life right now.

Speaking of smiles...this guy certainly brings them on. My mom bought this little seed experiment for Horsey Girl, but he's been languishing since Christmas and I finally took him under my wing, and onto the kitchen windowsill. Isn't he a hoot?! Grass seed in a nylon stocking kind of contraption, and the directions give pictures of different hairstyles you can do when his top grows out to the max.

That is, of course, when H. Girl's interest will kick in. Too late! He's all mine.

Speaking more philosophically, I think I too have been growing as of late. This involves a lot of therapy, a modicum of bodywork, a measure of excercise and a whole lot of prayer. There is change in the air, the Goddess is alive and majick is afoot...yet I remail suspended in this moment.

Breathing in, I calm my body.....breathing out, I smile. I dwell in the present moment...knowing this is a wonderful moment.

This painting was created for a Spring Equinox ritual eight years ago. It was to be a shield, a representation of She who is my Authentic Self, a reminder of who I embody as a whole. I like the image I chose, carefully copied from a magazine picture, and the hair I embellished with golden paint. The pentacles making up the starry night sky were stamped from a carved carrot.

Yeah, she's still in there somewhere. Only life gets in the way of keeping more in touch.

When I feel at the end of my rope, I walk deep into the forest and just breathe. Not far from the bees' home is this Grandmother oak tree. Hard to tell from the picture, She is about eight feet around, wiser than wise, older than old. Being near her puts all things in perspective.

Truly I am blessed. May I not forget.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007


Saturday we are signed up for the semi - annual Flea Market in Scotts Valley. We have a nice cozy corner booth, with shade. The pile in the basement has reached maximum density, and it's time to move everything up and out. Yes, that's the same basement that I dream of one day becoming a real laundry room. Anyway, we've been cleaning like crazy....hence the broom.

This piece of furniture has been in my possession for nigh on twenty years or so. In another life, I was a visual merchandiser (code for window dresser), first for Macy*s, then for Ralph Lauren. Ah, those were the days, poor as a church mouse but armed with a car allowance and a 50% discount (not that it helped the clothes to be more affordable....I invested in shoes and belts.) My job was to scour the three neighboring counties and beg, borrow or steal all the antiques and accessories needed to fill out the windows at three Ralph Lauren stores, then assemble them for maximum retail impact. It was a fun job, I learned a ton about quality fashion and design, and they even sent me to Hawaii (my first time!) to open a store on Oahu.

Alas, the fairy tale ended, and I was rudely replaced, by some very rude New Yorkers, when Ralph decided to buy back his franchised stores and become more involved with the Left Coast. All I got out of the deal was two months severance pay, and a few nice things that conveniently never left my apartment.

One was this French flour box. Way back when people made their bread every day, these held the flour they would need. It's pine, and it's been distressed beyond measure (kids, pets, and a stint outdoors). I recently replaced the long lost handles with some glass knobs purchased at Beverly's, just pushed into the large holes...I think it makes the "drawers" look a little less faux, don't you?

Inside it's just cavernous. It used to hold my fabric it houses winter blankets.

The top, being slanted, is not very convenient for anything other that drying paintings or the occasional small stack of mail. There is a little ledge though, just the right size for a candle or two, more little paintings, and my raku cup of markers.

Princess #2 is quite the artist these days, and recently brought home this map of the world from her lovely Montessori school. Each carefully painted continent is neatly labeled, and I am impressed with her teacher's patience for this activity - after all, she's only four!

Okay, hold onto your hats....yes, your eyes do not deceive's spinning content. For truly, my favorite role for the French flour box is a convenient studio, properly lighted, for most of my yarn shots. Here we have my most recent accomplishment, the Wildflower roving sent by a thoughtful secret pal um, my goodness - has it been two years now? Sorry Abigail...but wasn't it worth the wait?! The deep purply blues really remind me of the bush lupine that cascade down the mountainsides here.

And to your left...South America.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

honey, i'm home

Here we have the next step toward our goal of complete sustainability. That is to say, when society as a whole turns against itself, when our common environment becomes too toxic to support life, when war or natural disaster comes to call...our family remains safe and sound, beyond the immediate reach of our inevitable demise.


Already we have in place: a geodesic dome (earthquake proof, and keeping green with recycled fittings and a bamboo floor); a solar system (we are off the grid and are building our system with the goal of nonreliance upon propane as well); chickens for lean protein (eggs!); goats for milk (if our little nanny were pressed into service, yet to be tested!); transportation (sweet Fanny, and hopefully a companion soon); an extensive garden, plus several fruit trees (the cherries look promising this year!); our own well, with two big holding tanks...sure, we've forgotten some things, and it's a wonderful dream so far. But at least we will be able to sweeten our tea.

Yeah, there ARE a lot of them. But don't be scared. The ones piled up on the bottom have already expired. Interestingly, just several hours after being transferred to their hives, these dead ones had been carried out. Who knew insects were so intelligent?

Along with the two colonies came two very queenly queens. These two rule their prospective kingdoms and have only two duties: eat, and procreate. Not a bad life, eh?

These particular bees are Italian bees, obtained in Orland (just east of Sacramento.) Here the Princess checks them out, happy (as always) to help. The bees must be fed right away, gorged up and made happy to settle into their new abode. This is done by spraying them with a sugar solution, after which their manic buzzing becomes more like a happy hum.

Dh has discovered the perfect spot for them, just down the trail from the house. I think they will be very happy many flowers, and so much time. Bring on the sweet!

The hens are enjoying the new arrivals too. "Mmmmmmm...they taste like honey!"

Saturday, May 05, 2007

do you believe?

Do you believe that children are our future? Do you believe in fairies? Do you believe in miracles?

Just a couple more weeks until Open House. That's when all the parents come to check out the classroom and see what their kids have been up to while they are at work. I like to think I have a leg up on things: we have been doing many science and math projects, each cleverly disguised as art.

This survey is one of my favorite Spring activities. It never fails to bring me hope.

Another sweet graph. This is when we have important discussions about "girl colors" and "boy colors"...again I feel hopeful as they insist against defining roles. "No such thing."

I love to back their work against contrasting colors. Our room is really starting to pop and feel alive. These are studies of shapes and reveal all the different developmental levels my class embraces.

After many interesting books about birds and how they live, we created these nests. If you were a bird, what would your nest look like?

Folded paper and white paint make a sky - like cloud display. These are inspired by the book, It Looked Like Spilt Milk. The attached papers have a little writing on them, as the students interpreted their own shapes, Rorschach style.

You're right, I should have looked that up.

The paper daffodils are just as cheerful as the ones that sprang from the bulbs we planted last fall. And they last longer.

Ducks, for ducks' sake. How can the same pattern produce so many unique results?

And the parts of a plant, outlined in the Science Standards of California Kindergarteners. These are milk caps, seeds, wallpaper, pipe cleaners and raffia. A lovely bouquet!

I guess I am living my art through my class right now. Perhaps this summer I will get back too my own crafting! I have so, so many ideas and inspirations, but for now it's all about the kids. Thanks for coming please leave a comment.
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