Monday, April 28, 2014

walk

I can't remember the last time I hauled this body out for a really good walk. It must have been at a warmer time of year, certainly. This morning offered up the perfect opportunity to get out and I stuck to that plan of going for a walk. No deterrents or excuses. Fact is, I'm a fairly cerebral person and can easily get lost in housebound activity. Give me paperwork and I'm chained to the desk until it's done. A computer screen before me allows for instant gratification and easy clicking for communications and creating ~ it is an accessible Rabbit Hole to fall into every time. The computer still fascinates me, especially when it's working well. Set me up with paints and paper or canvas and you won't see me for hours. I'll paint even though I'm starving. And a good book! Well, don't get me started. Naturally, good books are followed by great naps ~ enough said.

In short, I lead a sedentary life. Physical movement isn't something I do readily. Though I do love practicing yoga asanas, a million excuses for not practicing more often step into the room and there goes the good intention. However, once the discipline is applied and a few Down Dogs have been run through with a smattering of Sun Salutations, I'm often left wondering why I deny myself this simple, accessible pleasure. It is no different with walking.

Honestly, if one is a healthy, able-bodied human being (or canine) a walk is by far the best thing for a body. Yet we don't give ourselves time for walks. Everyday, I walk vicariously with my cousin, Hope. She posts her photos of little things noticed here and there on Instagram. At least once a week, I walk with Terri Windling and her dog, Tilly, in the beautiful Devon, England country sides. This does little for my own constitution though and as lovely as the pictures are, they aren't my experiences on a walk.

So. I hitched my dogs and went for a walk. I made a point of NOT taking photos this morning. I just wanted to experience a walk with my dogs. Simple, pure and without the need to share. I needed this morning's walk to be mine (well, and the dogs'). No company. No chatter. No stopping for Android phone photos. And that walk was had, by golly. I feel much better for it ~ embodied, centered, grounded ~ pick one, it's all the same. I am, again, left wondering why I deny myself this simple, accessible pleasure.

Must be a human thing. Dogs walk at the drop of a hat.
A view from yesterday's short jaunt to the Lookout Point.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

finishing up

Reworking a composition notebook to my liking.
I rarely plan my days. I'm a life coach's nightmare in this respect. There's the daily maintenance practices, which includes dressing appropriately, brushing my teeth and at least 10 minutes meditation (well, not every morning). Unless it's a Routine School Day, after that just about anything can happen and I pretty much roll with it. Sunday is one day generally free of fires needing to be put out or other important activities so it's even easier to let the day unfold like a linen table cloth on the banquet table of Life.

Aside from some minor home maintenance activities, I spent a large part of my day in either the kitchen or the studio. I love crock pot cooking. It frees me from tending food so I can make a mess elsewhere in the house. With sausage and peppers cooking away on its own I finished one spread and a recycled journal for 21 Secrets. The journal spread seems to need more time to . . . become something. It's a fair start, but not complete. Sometimes these things need a vision or, more likely, a lot of solitude with little distraction. It's a tough commodity with a full house on the weekends. The Trash Journal as offered by Effy was surprisingly delightful and quick. Nothing like pretty-patterned duct tape and linen to make a day happy.

A composition notebook used for the Women Who Run With the Wolves book group became the perfect specimen for said recycled journal. Though I may take a great many notes during book group activities, I rarely look at them again once the group has finished the book. It would have been nice to play with this recycled journal process a few years ago when my Youths would bring back hardly-used composition notebooks for me to toss. And then I'd be required to buy more for the next year! Even if the pages were written on they could have been painted over or even become a part of the journal art. Rather a waste.

Another finished section of the creative life: the shank of a sock I'm knitting for Bennie. The Herbology Socks (by Rachel Coopey) had some hefty twists and turns that needed repeating 8 times before reaching the heel flap. That will be started during Cosmos tonight. And it's only just the right sock . . . perhaps not so finished.

Still working these pages. There probably won't be any writing or ruminating here. She fills the pages on Her own.

My finished Trash Journal thanks to Effy's share. This will see some writing and ruminating!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

precious thingery

Though there were shop drawings to contend with for most of the day, a little creativity was managed in between. Tweak a measurement, daub some paint. Build a page, create another image. A structured to unstructured rhythm to the day.

When I started Spectrum, I realized too late the notebook I chose wasn't a great one for the work intended. It's a Moleskine meant more for light sketching and writing not daubed paint or hefty layers. And I wasn't happy with the book or the process because of it. Then an idea came along to use those leftover paint pages and give the thin pages some integrity. Using some of the in-between pages for note taking would also really fill the book ~ especially the section I'm working on now for bhakti poetry. This part of the Spectrum exploration wasn't sparking my interest. Giving the recording more attention rather than working while listening sorted that out. So with notes for a poem to write itself during the week and the paint laid on reinforced pages, the Spectrum Moleskine has now become precious to me.

The aspect writing and imaging for 21 Secrets became another precious thing. It's not quite finished and it may stay that way awhile, but the spread speaks to me deeply. It might not look like much to anyone else ~ it's not the point of a personal visual journal. Anyone viewing it may have their own perceptions and that's fine. Take what you will, leave the rest. What mattered, what mattered, what mattered was the doing of it and the joy found in that process. I'm always keen on that sort of thing.

A busy art table today.

Backbone and shifting.

Monday, April 21, 2014

presence

Bare feet on a cool floor ground me as I roll and spread copper penny paint on the journal pages for this week. It was not the plan to do them so late in the day (as it is, it's getting mighty close to The Blacklist). No, earlier in the day, I created a Task List of things Important and Not So Important. Then I was asked to go for a ride. Avoidance? Sure! Why not? It gets me out of the house on a long ride with little benefit except for getting nothing done.

One thing I avoided was working a process with one exercise from 21 Secrets. For the past week, I've read and read again the prompts. The videos were watched at least once. The spread in an ongoing altered book had been prepped and waiting to proceed. It's the writing that needs doing ~ writing between two opposite aspects of Self. Writing what they might have to say to me or each other. All of which sounds pretty psychotic and schizophrenic until one does the art. Then those Voices In the Head hold beauty and viscera, laughter and tears, vulnerability and power. How much of ourselves do we ignore on a daily basis? How often do we forget the simple Art of Embodiment? Is anyone, ever, Home? Lights left on don't count.

And so . . . bare feet on a cool floor ground me as I get ready to write out those Voices tomorrow. No free rides this time, baby.
Journal pages at night . . .

Prepped pages in an altered book.
Still waiting.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

into the WABAC Machine

If it weren't for this video I purchased for myself (we're talking VHS days, my friends), I would not be practicing yoga. At all. Ever. I have scoliosis. It has been corrected with a Harrington rod since I was 14 years old. Yoga was something I had wanted to do ten years later, but didn't know where to go ~ especially with this body's limitations. Yoga teachers wanted doctors' releases or notes. I kinda know what this body can and can't do because I pay attention to it ~ so I didn't appreciate the hassle. Finding Patricia Walden's video at that time was a Gods' send. It was my practice for as many times as I could manage during the week. Certainly easier before I had children, but a haven during nap times when I did have them. This video is my best yoga buddy.

So when Bennie approached me about making yoga a more frequent practice, I found and purchased a more technologically updated Yoga For Beginners (yay! DVD!). While I had expected Bennie to find the content friendly and approachable, I hadn't expected the realization of how much I missed practicing along with Patricia Walden again. This weekend was a lovely return to Simple Practice and happily shared.

Another enjoyable find from the past: Spirograph. Impulse purchases at AC Moore's have their happy moments.

Living the childhood dream.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WABAC_machine

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

having a day

A page in the works.
We are deep into Spring Break. Soon the week will be over and then it's back to the Routine. Sleeping until the decadent hour of 7:00am has made me lazy and slothful, but in an enjoyable manner. The male Youths were elsewhere for the night, so the day was quiet. Bennie and I in the studio. Again. She spent most of her time following along with me on Jane LeFazio's Watercolor Sketchbook course ~ pine cones, pig nuts and acorns. Browns, blues and greens ~ muted tones for an easy day.

I spent part of the same time prepping a spread with various gesso's for Juliana Cole's offering through 21 Secrets. She likes to use masking tape to cover over a book page as she's altering it for journal exploration purposes. I like gesso. That is now ready for the next portion of the exercise which needs a quiet moment or two.

Bennie's watercolor explorations.
A strange compass and map are in the works for Cat Caracelo's Finding Gypsy Mythos course. I'm traveling this mythic journey as a pirate. Researching women pirates lead to some interesting discoveries. Firstly, that there were, indeed, a number of them. Secondly, that they were ruthless and shrewd, often taking over where their pirate husbands left off. Some of them dying at a healthy old age as grandmothers. So. A pirate's life for me! Poetically, for now, at least. I might even knit some sails . . .

I played with the pine cones, pig nuts and acorns, but felt a real need to get outside. We walked into the woods, checked on someone else's Sacred Space and then created a Medicine Wheel for the day. I like Muck boots. They are perfect for fickle weather. (There was snow on the ground again, godammit! And I had to bring another rooster in.) Those same boots are fantabulous for crossing the woodland stream, bubbling and babbling through. In the quiet pool at the edge, we created a wheel in the shallow water. Such attention and presence making art where you are ~ using what's in sight. It is a different experience than having tools and no less satisfying.

Today's Medicine Wheel with Trout Lily in the North.


Brownie keeping warm.

Sun at the lake's shallows.

Etchings in wood by worms.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

icky

Woke with a headache this morning. Not a particularly enjoyable way to rise, but there you have it. Two Aleve and a cuppa got me past the hypochondriac musings leaving me free to feel, somewhat, better.

As mentioned in a previous post, it's spring and, though I had Rusty in a safe pen, Havarti managed to find a way in to kick his bantam butt bloody again. Another morning of shifting raucous roosters. Crackers out to a new pen, Snowflake into the crate previously housing Crackers, Rusty from the warm bathroom to a newly cleaned crate . . . A veritable Musical Chairs. In between, there was the soaking of swollen eyes and wattle cleaning. Fun here is not lost on me, apparently. But, hey, it's only Sunday, right?

Waking up headache-y pretty much reduces my interest in doing much the rest of the day. Bennie, however, jumped into action working on watercolor (she's traveling along with me in Jane LeFazio's class) and then on her latest apples oil painting. While she was at it, she created a journal page in between watercolor and oil paintings.

I listened to the bonus call from Journey to the Center of Your Heart and caught up on some Finding Gypsy listening and viewing, but not much creating after that. It was mostly a tying of loose ends. Then we went out for awhile to soak in the sun and sketch. Just inky moodlings and sitting with Duke again.

Actually, I did manage to get this journal page going today based on a meditation. 
Bennie's watercolor explorations.

Bennie's burgeoning pile o' creativity.

And the apples in progress, oil on canvas . . . Bennie's again. 
I'll have to be content with what I've done here today.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

fresh air

Yes! Out doors! A fine sunny day to bring art supplies out to the future site of the next Backyard Tropical Art Oasis. It was so nice last summer, why not? Anyway, a blanket to soften a plastic settee, watercolor notebooks, paints, water brushes and phones (just in case) were all gathered and moved to a low table under the sun. Duke joined us and stayed the entire time as we sketched and painted. He also danced around us as we raked out the garden looking for shoots of peony, coreopsis, comfrey and echinacea.

It is this 'tween time of year that inspires me. Comfortable weather, nothing too extreme. A time begging you to walk barefoot awhile and with a few less layers than earlier in the year. It is a welcome change. As much as I adore being in the studio, trucking out supplies to play with outside becomes a mighty wonderful experience. We get to spend time with Nature and the Flock, finding things to draw and paint. Maybe even catch a sun snooze, resting the eyes to listen instead to the sounds of the season.

Duke and Bennie.
(She's actually sketching her moccasin.)

A quick sketch ~ corduroy shirt and chair.

Friday, April 11, 2014

ignoring work

Ah, the studio! After managing the flock and rooster placement for the day, after brewing a fresh cuppa, after everyone left the house I played. Listening to online course recordings, viewing course videos, writing art prompts for Women Who Run With the Wolves to be posted this weekend . . . nothing but my stuff. A page for Jane LeFazio's Watercolor Sketchbook class was completed.

It didn't stop there either. After dinner (yum, leftover lasagna), a painting was finished, iPod playing Anugama (hat tip to Effy ~ it is easy trance music), paint on my hands and dripping on the floor. Paint played and sprayed, body and hands moving in ways they needed to to create.

The day feels complete. I'm ready for Grimm and a snack . . . and, by golly, Spring Break starts tomorrow! Lot's of sleeping in for the next week, thank you. Oh and more studio time for both Bennie and me.

Tool time with Jane.

Completed! And the paint's still wet.

A place I'm kind of enjoying.

wear your colors : : breathe in love : : feet on the ground

Another sweet spot that's kissable to me.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

medicine wheel reading

As some might know, Nature is my Home Base, my touchstone. Aside from flock tending and feeding, another thing that gets me out doors is creating a daily Medicine Wheel. It's a simple practice of finding a spot that calls to you as Center for the day, then walking out from Center in each direction to find an item Nature has left for you ~ of Nature or not. Whatever catches the eye. My only basic rule is to avoid taking something that might like to live a little longer. Besides, I've found chipmunks to be largely uncooperative when it comes to Medicine Wheel building.

In the past few days of building my daily wheel, I mused on gleaning a reading of the day from the gathering of objects and setting them in their found directions. The human mind can pretty much make any association it wants, but I've found the daily readings interesting and insightful. Let's have a gander at today's wheel, shall we?

My wheel for today.


In the East, I found a piece of bark that matched, almost exactly, its background ~ the top of our ubiquitous granite found around here. Wandering South I found a pile of wood chips left at the base of a tree a Pileated Woodpecker carved into, leaving a hole big enough to decorate into a Faerie House. Just the right acorns were found in the West and a happy patch of loose moss in the North. And so my Medicine Wheel was built.

What reading could be gleaned from these items and their placement? The invisible bark in the East could point to a need to use a certain kind of protection, one others might not perceive, keeping dreams and ideas safe awhile longer. Wood chips in the South reminded me of kindling. To my elemental thinking, South is related to the element of Fire and kindling is often needed to start a good fire. You can't throw a log on a spark ~ it pretty much douses the fire. Acorns are a form of food for some. So how might I need to nurture my emotional self in the West? Could be, literally, good food. And in the North, that place of Earth and Silence, there is a bit of green growing, low and quiet-like. It might mean gathering some softness in a hard quarter.

Without diving deeply into detail, this reading fit my day. I've ideas percolating and gathering some momentum, but they aren't ready to bring out into the World. At the same time, I've gotta move on some of this stuff, but the Fire has to be built right in order to burn without burning out or, worse yet, not starting at all. In the meantime, it would be a good idea to feed myself well ~ not just good food, but good space, supportive people. All while I keep this silent softness in growth.

And then I finished the journal spread that lingered on the table all this week.

A finished spread with some red.
(Magenta, actually. I just liked the rhyme.)

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

injury report

I know there are saner households out there. Homes not currently housing and tending four injured roosters and one lame hen. Brownie and the hen are in one crate. Rusty in another. Crackers, recently accosted by one of the drakes, is sitting in the tub, his comb blood-encrusted. Snowflake, aka Rocky Balboa, is in the same bathroom in a warm corner. (Good thing there are other facilities in the house. Use of a bathroom in the company of a one-eyed rooster is mildly disconcerting.) Such is the heralding of mid-Spring on the Misty Mountain Hop Rooster Preserve and Sanctuary. Feathered and furred beings have a keener sense of Spring coming in despite the weather. They've been feeling it coming on since Imbolc (hence, the name "in milk," the lambing season) and now it's crescendo'd as of Equinox.

The hens are safely penned away from libidinous, hormone-charged roosters, however, as we like free-range, the roosters are able to spend a fair portion of the day beating the crap out of each other. While spring for most might come on the gentle petals of snowdrops and daffodils, mine are fraught with rooster injuries, Betadine and sequestering during recuperation.

As the situation has hit critical mass (I really do like to have both bathrooms available for human use), it meant taking stock, triage, if you will, of injured roosters. As I've had Brownie and the hen in for awhile, they're doing well enough to go out in their own pen. Rusty, too, is doing better and can be booted back out with the lot, but he is a bantam so I've arranged another pen for him. This now rotates the more critically injured roosters into cleaned crates and we can all safely use the downstairs bathroom.

Why would I put chickens in the bathroom? Well, fact is, birds go into shock easily when injured. I'm lucky to have a fairly hardy flock ~ they endure rough conditions up here as well as each other. However, the most critical care management of a bird in shock is warmth as soon as possible. Though I argued with Dirk about the ridiculousness of heated floor mats under the tiles, it turns out, for punch-drunk roosters and ailing hens, it's a mighty helpful item to have had installed.

So. While Crackers and Snowflake spent the night recovering from the initial shock of fowl warfare, they were warm and comfortable. As of this afternoon, they're in the crates previously containing other roosters. A little like a barred Chicken Hotel. Crackers might not ever go near a drake again. I'm waiting to see what will develop with Snowflake's eyes as they are both swollen, nearly shut.

Shifting and shunting has made for an exhausting day. It is a labor of love. The reward: the crowing of a rooster in better fettle than he came in with. In another few weeks, everyone will settle down and there will be fewer fights, but for now it's my Springtime Activity.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

practice

It has been falling to the wayside all over the place. Hitting the Snooze button is easier than getting out of bed at 5:30am to meditate. (The hour then becoming less godly than originally thought.) Asanas set aside for busy-ness and renovation turmoil. The Morning Pages have been scant and vapid. Even dream recall has skipped town.

When hit with with wave of ennui, it is time to change it up somewhere. I am beginning with meditation on the morning. I've yet more to read, but Meditation Secrets for Women by Camille Maurine seems to indicate another way. One less structured, one allowing for the hitting of the Snooze button. I've learned quite a lot from The Open Heart Project (and, in fact, I still recommend it to anyone starting out on a simple meditation practice), but this soul needs a change. She has gotten into a rut and isn't moving out of it all too easily. And so I begin again.

And now, asanas. Well. I've gotten rather comfortable with this form too. So nice to find Sadie Nardini's programs through Daily Om at a reasonable price. Something different that moves energy in a new way for this body. There's a 14-day program and a 21-day program ~ both have much to offer in core building and body awareness. I haven't started this just yet, but it's inspiring.

So. My practice seems to be, at least for now, picking up new practice.

Obiwan's Perpetual Snooze Practice

Friday, April 04, 2014

squash

Squash in situ.
It's been . . . wait for it . . . another run-around day. I've finally come to land awhile here in my studio ~ harbor for my soul. I have an Art Journal Caravan page or two to play with. There are a few Gaian Soul Seasonal Practices to catch up to. Paperwork was done first thing, though, to get it out of my hair. Even the zeros have been combed out. Time was then spent cutting open a butternut squash to finish the next lesson in Jane LeFazio's Watercolor Sketchbook: Designs From Life. I'm delighted by the neatness of this way of creating in watercolor. It's Old School Stuff I'm surprised to find myself enjoying this time around. It has a different rhythm and is almost relaxing not to have to do anything intuitively. What sits before one is a cut butternut squash, one draws the squash. (Unless one is Picasso, then one might get something else.) There's little to figure out in still life drawing and painting ~ just do it.

And so the squash and I had a relaxing afternoon in the studio.

Completed and shared.
On to the next lesson!

Thursday, April 03, 2014

organic art

The day has been had. Let's not discuss it further, shall we? A candle has been lit inviting Brighid to stay from sundown to sundown. That Flame is a comfort and inspiration ~ which is one of Brighid's gifts, by golly.

Blessed is Brighid, Mother of the Forge and Well. May Her Flame continue to burn . . . and so it is lit.

She whispers to me of Organic Art, letting what happens, happen. Accepting that wild growing vision. And trusting the art. That last one is a bear. We humans like to control things. Planting tomatoes in the desert, breaking the spirit of mustangs or herding cats ~ these are challenges we delight in because, if we can enjoy a tomato sandwich while ponyed up to manage a docile gathering of felines then we've managed some level of success under our supervision. Sort of like playing God. And while I've a good idea I'm doing the Work of This God Hirself, I rarely trust the process.

So, Brighid says, Let it unfold. Let it Become. You simply have no control over this.

And, well, She's right. I'm getting the idea that anything I create isn't really mine. It belongs to the Creatrix. I am only an instrument of that creation. That pretty much humbles me in my boots. Imperfections are perfect, mistakes are meant to manifest.

Coming along on the easel . . .

a sweet spot for today . . .

the computer rotated it, but another spot that drew my eye . . .

and this journal spread which has been a challenge, but I've been told to let it be.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

ferret & fowl

At any point in the day, anyone can engage in a little Other Sentient Being Therapy. Moments enjoying animal nature relaxes a body about as much as meditation. Such were my moments today. The usual shamatha I practice seems to have fallen to the wayside in the wake of minor chaotic activities ~ a Senior trip to New Orleans, a Sophomore trip to DC, renovations occurring in fits and starts. (In fact, I still can't practice asanas in my favorite spot and now my bedroom has been encroached upon. The closest I can come to practice is watching this.) At times like this it's enough remembering to brush my teeth in the morning. And though I've heard tell that chaotic times are precisely the times one needs to meditate, I can't seem to justify (rationally, at least) sitting when jumping into action seems to be the correct course. Well, I can Begin Again ~ it's not like I haven't done that before.

And so, after a day of minor mayhem, dishes undone, laundry in a perpetual spin, paperwork shuffling into my Sacred Space of its own accord, I left it all for a little Furred and Feathered time . . .