Saturday, March 26, 2011

Spirals, Spirals Anyone?

"Entering/detail" ink drawing

On my list for months was a note to myself... open Etsy shop! So, the past two weeks 
I have been working on that. After a helpful conversation with my parents while in Florida, I found my way around some blocks to getting going. I've listed some spirals, some Nature's Pattern drawings, and a few smaller watercolors. The first few images here are a sampling of what's available. I've added the Etsy Mini feature to the sidebar, down there past the "Gold Afternoon" drawing. The whole thing so far has been a relatively easy process, probably because of my experience with blogger. I had a bit of fun today adding many of your shops and wonderful work to my favorites. I think I'm going to like this!


"Branching Systems"


A small group gathered for a Spring Equinox fire here at RavenWood. We had to 
clear a bit of snow in the garden and bring the moveable fire pit, but the day turned 
into a sunny, very warm day. Our ritual started with lots of drums rattles and singing, gratitude offerings to the fire, and a long time of silence to sink into the land and
listen. An enthusiastic crowd of chickadees brought song to our quiet time, and a few
far-off ravens reminded me of the dark contained within the light. Something shifted 
in me with the turning of the seasons, and even though we are back to cold and snow 
and icy mornings, a bit more peace has taken root in me. 

Still snowy in the moss garden, but patches of bare, moss bejeweled ground emerge 
at the base of trees and stones warmed from the sun. My constant companions, in 
addition to Pasha cat, is the gang of turkeys. They come daily, and seem less concerned
about my presence, and Pasha runs right by them as they stand, frozen like dark 
stones against the green hemlock boughs. 

I've been wondering about why turkeys have relatively few feathers on their heads. 
They're a bit vulture like. Vultures, however, need that bare head because of the icky
places they regularly put their heads, turkeys though? Scratching around the base of 
the bird feeder isn't that icky... 

Ahhhh, its a few hours later and I'm back to suggest an answer to my own question. I 
was just looking at the turkeys when it occurred to me that they need bare heads for better vision. They do fly for short distances and up into trees at night to sleep, but it 
sure looks like an effort! So since they spend so much time on the ground, they probably
wouldn't fare too well if they had ornamental feathers getting in the way of seeing an approaching predator. That's my thought. Too late at night to research that, but someday. 

      Evidence of turkey journeys around the yard. 

While the turkeys wander about in the snow, Pasha takes his afternoon nap 
in a chair by the wood stove. This is pretty much the scene right now, though in a 
different chair. He seems to have tired himself out watching me load wood into 
the bin, running up and down those trees is truly exhausting!

     The only work I've done recently in the studio was organizing work to list in 
     the shop, but branches and skies have demanded my attention. I wonder at the 
     beautiful colors of late winter evening skies. The few photographs below were 
     taken on a particularly enchanting evening. I could see my grandfather's algae 
     samples in the branching systems and am anxiously awaiting the end of the 
     business list to get back to work. I need large blocks of time and am not one 
     to grab an hour here or there in the studio, but maybe that's something to try. 

The big moon last Saturday night seems an appropriate image
to follow the fading light above. 

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Searching for Ground

Traveling to town one day not long ago, 
delicate mists hovering over frozen water 
called to me to pause and dream. Its seems 
there hasn't been much time for dreaming of late, 
and I feel out of sorts. One moment deep and 
sorrowful, the next, feeling a slight glimmer of hope -
my mood brightening or darkening, like the sunshine 
on a day of blowing clouds. 

On my calendar today, I marked the morning with 
DREAMING TIME. Strange, when the gentle flow 
of my days seem more like a staccato dance between
lists and to find my center I must schedule it. Its not 
my way, and its at these times I'm most aware of 
how the life I've crafted is so different from 
cultural norms. 

After my Qigong routine, I sat at my altar, noticing 
 the crow feather shadow dancing on my drum. I wonder
if you notice the bear hiding in the skin? I've never 
photographed this drum before, and as I write, 
I see that the bear is very visible. There is a story 
here, from many moons ago, when I first came to 
this land and found myself surrounded by large and 
friendly bears. I not only met them in the forest, 
but they came to me in dreams and meditations, 
and quite clearly wanted my attention. 

During that time, I had a sound healing practice, 
and needed a new drum. At a sound healing conference, 
I picked up a drum, and was instantly in love. The maker 
told me it was a bear drum, and way out of my price range. 
I played the others, and was much taken with the drum 
above, though not in the "gut" way I had been with the bear 
drum. After a few days of playing it however, I began to see a 
bear-like picture emerge from the skin. So I wonder, do you see it? 
It is just to the right of the feather shadow, and has dark 
eyes. I think of it as a Spirit Bear. Maybe someday, if I'm 
lucky, I'll travel to British Columbia and see one. 

Bears find their way onto my shelves, along with owls, 
trees, cats, a woman with her sacred broom, 
and my Santo from years ago when my father 
had a factory in Puerto Rico. Today, however, 
was a day full of crows. 

This one visited as Pasha and I sat below the big hemlock 
in the moss garden. I in a chair that is accessible without snow
shoes for the first time since late December, and Pasha on bare ground
snoozing in the sun. All day the crows flew by, 
many landing in nearby trees to squawk for a while. 

Pasha has been a happy kitty lately, outside a lot 
enjoying the mossy hillsides where the snow has melted.
Even the snow mountain in front of the studio is 
melting away. I almost lost my boot in the deep 
mud at the edges of the driveway
twice today, a soggy, mucky mess!

A bunch of self-inflicted business deadlines have kept
me out of the studio, but since in this post I seem to be 
telling you new things about myself, I think I'll share 
another thread of my work. I sometimes wonder if 
I scatter my focus with the different kinds of 
work I do, but it has always been this way, so 
I continue. In a way, its all these threads that 
weave together the many stories that live in me. 

Sometimes I must make these drawings - 
a bit more narrative or mythic. 
Here, A Man. 

Here, A Woman with Ravens.

Lately, as I find myself searching for my
ground, these Women Who Live in the Roots
keep appearing to me. They feel like 
important allies right now, 
holding rootedness for me, 
holding spirals: 
the keepers of 
ancient women's 

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Remarkable Trees in the Land of My Ancestors

Many years ago, my father's grandparents lived in 
Florida surrounded by acres of orange trees. I've 
heard stories of that wild land, the various people who 
worked in the orchard, and a brave neighbor who swam in the
 river with the alligators. There was the time that my grandfather
shot a hole in the bottom of the boat because a very large, very 
poisonous water moccasin jumped aboard. He killed the snake, 
but also scared his passenger half to death as he hadn't seen the 
snake come aboard.  

I remember stories of the orchard hands teaching my father to fish 
and tying bacon to his ankles to protect him from chiggers. My 
ancestors hauled water, and lived with the fragrance of 
orange blossoms in the night air. 

Though these stories are a part of my family history, they never 
seemed to take root inside me as something that bound me to my 
great grandparents. I have always lived in the north, comfortable 
and happy away from heat and humidity. 

Last November, my parents moved to the West coast of 
Florida. It surprised me, as I always considered them 
connected to the northlands here. As a family, we spent a 
considerable bit of time in Puerto Rico when I was child, 
as my father had a factory there, so who knows why 
it seemed so surprising that they should feel drawn 
to the tropics once again. 

I flew down to visit them last weekend, in the land of sun and 
alligators. My first sighting of an alligator was at the creek by 
their house. At first I thought a tire was floating in the water, 
until the fish started jumping and the alligators tail - with 
remarkably good tread - sank and re-appeared near the bank. 
If you look closely, you can see the nose sticking 
out of the water to the right. 

We went hiking on a boardwalk through a swamp.
Gray, Spanish Moss hung from the oak branches, 
and the palm leaves created linear light 
patterns that enchanted me. 

I recognized  many forest species, surprised to see
them in such a tropical climate. The old man's beard
below is a familiar forest lichen. 

I leaned in close, marveling in vine lines and leaf textures.  

Eventually, the swamp opened up to a river plateau, 
and we watched vultures soar on the thermals overhead
and egrets forage in the marsh. 

We were gifted by a sundog - a rainbow 
encircling the sun. 

Gnarled live oaks draped in moss
held court in the clearings, and shadows 
danced on palm leaves. In a moment of midnight
magic, I wonder if this palm leaf might turn 
into a peacock?  

One day we visited the Myakka River State Park, the 
largest state park in Florida. We took an airboat tour
and saw herons, egrets, cormorants and many, many

We climbed high into the canopy on this tower, 
walked across a small suspension bridge through the 
foliage, and up higher for the view. 

In the town of Venice, I met remarkable trees, and 
would have spent hours with them, though we were 
just passing through. Below is one of several 
Banyan trees in the center of the boulevard. 

The oaks lining the street also captivated me, wearing 
their Spanish Moss finery and shading the sidewalks. 

All of a sudden, when I viewed the scene below, a 
memory of a painting that hung in my grandparents' house 
came to me. Palm trees, and a man, or men, leaning on a trunk. 
A thread of memory, something familiar though distant, began 
stitching me to this place. These visual stories have been 
with me since I was a small child, though only called up again 
now, as I hear the whispering of the palms in the warm, 
afternoon breeze and smell the grapefruit blossoms 
and jasmine in my parents' garden. My father has come 
full-circle, choosing to return to the land of his youth, and I, 
on a pilgrimage to the land of my ancestors, 
feel connected to stories rooted here that
 I didn't know I had lost.