November 28, 2009

* Mindfullness


Allow me to share my flowers with you.  Aren't they gorgeous?  Yesterday my errand run took me past Safeway, where my car turned in, totally on it's own.  Safeway in Victoria offers one dozen long stemmed roses for $14.99.  Once in awhile I splurge.  They are 'soul food', as are all flowers. Roses are special.  Symbolic.  A gift of love to myself, reaffirming I am in fact moving forward, I am in fact loving myself, appreciating who I am, knowing I am of value, and acknowledging my gifts.  That's what it's all about when we send roses to others isn't it??

These roses are a little 'nudge' for me to remain mindful.  To acknowledge the unique child of the Universe that I am.  I will focus on that this week.  It may seem selfish to some that I would be mindful of my unique gifts, however, I find when I am 'flying solo', it's important to support and nurture myself in this way.  No one else is near to to fill these roles.

We are, of course, all unique children of the Universe, God, Goddess, All That Is, Allah, Buddha, (however you wish to think of it).  There is no one in the world quite like us.  We are all here for a purpose, and without each of us, in the here and now, the entire world would not function in quite the same fashion. (the ripple affect) This week it would be lovely for each of us to be mindful of our own unique gifts, and give thanks for simply having the privilege of being on this planet during these magnificent and challenging times of change.



"We do not grow absolutely, chronologically. We grow sometimes in one dimension, and not in another; unevenly. We grow partially. We are relative. We are mature in one realm, childish in another. The past, present, and future mingle and pull us backward, forward, or fix us in the present. We are made up of layers, cells, constellations."  ~ Anais Nin

                                                        WHAT MAKES MY HEART SING?



Old doors and windows!!  They attract me, invite me, call me, lure me and tempt me.  I become curious.  They stimulate my imagination. What's inside?  Who lives there?  Whose lives are they protecting.  Who are they making a safe haven for?  What secrets to they hold?  I could write stories about doors and windows.  I could paint doors and windows.  Doors and windows have character.  They can be shy, bold, meek, in your face, ooze history, seem neglected and lonely, or be just plain beautiful.  Old doors and windows make my heart sing! 


* On Being Grateful


It's fall.  The harvest is in and we are enjoying the fruits of our labours.  Years ago, on the farm, that is literally what we were doing.  Mom and I would have canned or frozen all the vegetables.  The annual trip to the Okanagan Valley for a car load of fruit would have culminated in a cold room full of earthly delights.  Mama would have plucked the chickens, I would have gutted them, and they too would have been put away for winter meals.  Jam, jellies, and pickles joined the abundance.




Speaking of jams and jellies, let me tell you, the berries did not come from the frozen food section at the super market.  They had to be picked! We seemed to know where all the best berries grew.  The raspberries came from Aunty Mays' patch of cultivated bushes.  Blueberries grew in low lying, sort of moss/bog areas.  The day was spent crawling on your hands and knees to pick those.  Chokecherries, we had on our own land.  Mama and I would spend days picking berries.  The mere thought of Mama's chokecherry syrup still makes my mouth water.  It was a busy time of year on the farm.   Oh!  I forgot about saskatoons.  They grew wild a quarter mile from home.  I would walk there with my little bucket and pick just enough for Papa and I for lunch.  Mama wasn't a saskatoon fan.  I think she was served worms with her berries once, and for some reason she didn't want them again!  After we got the freezer, there was the pleasure of fruit pies 'on demand'.  Mama would whip up a minimum of fifteen pies in a day and freeze them.  At Christmas our choices of desserts would be, apple pie (apples from our own tree), raspberry, blueberry, cherry and/or Christmas pudding.   WHEW!  Those were the good old days!


Crops were harvested. Grain was stored to be sold over a period of time.   The wheat from our field simmered on the back of the stove all night. As it popped open, it became porridge with fresh farm cream and brown sugar the next morning.  The butchering was completed.  Hams and bacon hung in the smoke house, and beef was cured, cut and wrapped.  Before a home freezer was affordable, meat was stored in a rented locker in Edmonton. When a freezer became available at home, it was an entirely new world!

Times have certainly changed in my world.   Now I go to the grocery store or the market.  There are many farms and markets in Victoria where I can purchase locally grown produce.  I am very grateful for the abundance and quality of local food.  I am grateful my Mama taught me how to prepare and enjoy a beautiful meal.  I am very grateful I have experienced growing my own food.  I'd still like to have a little vegetable garden.  I am grateful I appreciate and understand the process of planting, nurturing, and harvesting - it applies to so much more in life than feeding oneself.  What's on your "grateful" list today?

"The true harvest of my life is intangible - a little star dust caught, a portion of the rainbow I have clutched."  ~Henry David Thoreau

Today, I am beginning a daily addition to the blog.  It will be known as "WHAT MAKES MY HEART SING".  The criteria for 'whatever the object of my affection' is this:  I must absolutely LOVE it - not simply LIKE it.   It must literally make my heart sing, take my breath away,  place an involuntary, uninvited  smile on my face, cause me to jump up and down (at least inside), give rise to palpitations,  generate a weakness in my knees, or initiate the vapours!!!  I hope you see what I mean.   I began to consider what sorts of things affect me in this way.  Quite a lot of subjects came to mind which produce these 'good vibrations'.  I found it rather interesting, so thought I would share one a day. Have you ever thought about what makes your heart sing?  I am very grateful I can feel that kind of exquisite emotion.

                                                    WHAT MAKES MY HEART SING?


Yes!!  Highland Cattle!!!!!!  I adore them.  When I'm driving and see a herd of them, I screech to a halt to 'oooooo' and 'ahhhhhh'.  If my camera is with me, I take more photos than necessary.  For some years, I collected paintings of highland cattle.  Simply looking at and enjoying those paintings produced contentment.   If I had some land and a partner, I would probably raise a couple!!!  Their long curly hair leaves me weak!  And their little faces - big eyes!!!  I just want to hug them.  They make me smile 'til my jaw hurts.  Naturally, the 'real thing' grazing in the Scottish highlands is even more thrilling for me -- they still have their Scottish brogue!   Suffice it to say --  they do me in.  Highland Cattle make my heart sing!

November 27, 2009

* Autumn


Autumn.  The last roses of summer ...  Sigh ....  This autumn has not been a gentle season.  Torrential rains have caused tremendous damage to our Island, and many people have been evacuated from their homes due to flooding.  Fortunately, no one has been injured.  For that we are grateful.

It's time to put my little garden and deck to bed for the winter.  There are still blooms on the roses and a few other of the plants, however, they know when it's time to take some time off to rest and renew themselves for next spring.  Our society should take the hint!!


I always enjoy the bird feeders.  The little birds bring me so much joy.  This year, I hung the humming bird feeder over a blooming thistle.  The ants liked the thistle a lot.  The ants found the sugar water in the feeder.  As you can imagine, it turned into an ant trap instead of a humming bird feeder.  I will find a new place to hang it next spring.

Last winter, at my other house, I had a little hummingbird stay all winter.  It was a delight.  It's amazing to me a bird of that size and delicacy is able to survive the cold.  There were times last year, the sugar water would be frozen in the morning.  I would bring it in, thaw it out in the microwave, and by the time I put it back on the hanger, my little bird would be hovering - saying - "What have you done with my breakfast - don't you know it's cold out here!!!"  He would dive right into his food while I was still standing there!

Last year at this time, I could still sit out on my patio with the candles it, enjoying the soft night air.  Not so this season.  It seems to be one coastal system after another.

I live very near the West Bay Marina and board walk.  On pleasant evenings, Habibi and I walk down to the park and watch the lights of the city come on.  It's quite spectacular.  The city reflects itself in the water, the float homes and boats light up, and people enjoy evening walks.  It's soul food for me.

Only about a month 'til I leave for San Miguel!  Time if flying by.  I must begin readying myself.






In the meantime, I will tidy my garden, pull the plants which won't survive the cold and trim the others back.  Geraniums survive the winter here, so I will just trim them back.




My fuchsia was spectacular, but it's done now.  There is only one bloom left.  I enjoyed it so much.  Always brings back happy memories of the beautiful fuchsias Mama hung by the back door.

"We've got this gift of love, but love is like a precious plant.  You can't just accept it and leave it in the cupboard or think it's going to get on by itself.  You've got to keep watering it.  You've got to really look after it and nurture it."
~ John Lennon


November 26, 2009

* Altered Books




















I belonged to a very creative club on the web, mostly women from the USA.  I think, in fact, I was the only Canadian member.  We had great fun, with altered book round robins.  The particular book I created, and am showing you here, was sent to nine different women who each contributed as many altered pages as they wished.  Before the book was sent out, the originating member would establish a theme and do the first few pages herself.  The book was then sent on to the next person on the list.  Each member was able to keep it for three weeks, create her pages, send it on .... and so it went.  About nine months later you would receive your original book back completed by other members with their own take on the theme and their own bent on creativity.  All the time we would keep in touch via our club headquarters on the web, posting tid bits and photos of what we were up to.  Fabulous Fun!

The theme of this book was Venice set in the 1980's. I will set the scene.  Picture this.  A registered letter is delivered to my house.  It's from a dear old friend from my days of traveling in Europe.  He is now the head of archeology at the university of Rome.  He is organizing an archeological dig in Venice, in a part of the old Doges Palace.  Knowing I have always been interested in history and archeology, I am invited to join them.  Naturally, I jump at the chance and am off the Venice to meet Michaele and his team.  I will share with you an excerpt of the story:-

"Details of the dig were sketchy.  A residence attached to the Doge's palace had gone up for private sale and was purchased by friends of Michaele.  While installing a new water system in the old underground kitchens, some interesting artifacts had been discovered.  They wanted them investigated. ........

We dug, day after day, underground in the cold, dark and damp.  Water slowly dripped down the walls - echoeing through the arches of the old structure.  The energy was incredible.

One morning, shortly after work began, I came across a fragment of material.  I called Michaele and he took over.  After hours of careful excavation with dentist type picks and shall brushes, objects of great interest began to appear.  I gasped, holding by breath, unable for just a moment to breath.

We had uncovered a carnival mask and long cape - or the fragments of one.  Later, after testing, the material was deemed to be hand woven black silk circa 13th century. The remains of the stones, which lay here and there - hand cut Russian crystals and pearls, also from the same period.  The few other stones unearthed stopped our hearts.  Breathtakingly beautiful black onyx oval stones inlaid with silver crosses lay before us.  In their silence, they screamed at us.  Michaele and I stared, first at the stones, then at each other.   ..... could it possibly be????

All those years ago, on the ship from New York to Athens, Michaele had told me the "Legend of the Mask".  In later years, after some research he believed this legend to hold at least some authenticity.  Over the years, Michaele had spoken with many bands of Gypsies and in one particular instance, the Gypsy Queen had sat quietly with him around the night fire and told him her version of the legend.

Our last evening in Venice, Michaele and I sat alone in a lovely Italian restaurant overlooking the grand canal discussing our long friendship and recent adventure.  At the end of the evening, he presented me with a beautifully wrapped gift.  My heart quickened again.  The energy eminating from the box was making my hands vibrate.  Inside, lay the old documented story the Gypsy Queen had told him by the fire.  A blue velvet bag contained some of the stones we had uncovered.  A hand written note from Michaele counseled me ... "Handle them with care and respect, they DO contain the magic."  His eyes sparked with delight.  I smiled quietly.

The mask I constructed on the front of this book contains some of 'the stones'.  The document in the envelope is the original.


I now counsel you ... "Handle them with care and respect ... they do contain the magic."   .... end of excerpt.



The mask I created on the front of the book comes off.  It is held on by velcro.  The theory is if you take the mask off, hold it up to your eyes and say some magic words which I have instructions for in the book, you will be transported to 'anywhere', and can be anyone you wish to become.  On that basis, members of the group created their altered pages with paint, drawings, images, stamps and anything else they could think of.  This process is one of my favorites.  I can let my imagination run wild.  It's amazing what 'comes out'.

"There is vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening, that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique.  And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost."

 Martha Graham













November 25, 2009

* Free Expression Painting


It was something I had wanted to do for years.  I kept delaying it.  I can't afford it,  it's bad timing, there will be another workshop next year, I don't want to go alone.  When I had the big wake up call, I realized a few things.   I will afford it, the timing is wonderful, if not now, when(?), and I had better get used to going alone because 'no one is coming'!!  So off I trotted, to Hornby Island, to a workshop with Caroline James.

It's a life altering experience.  You work through your creative 'process'.  You learn not to worry about the end result.  You PLAY, like a four year old child. When I was finally able to 'let go', I found myself in that 'magical place' of bliss.  That magical place of 'no place' where time doesn't exist, your surroundings are negated, and you come back into the room from time to time, not knowing where you have been, or where the afternoon has gone.   On the way there, you meet your dragons head on.  There is no alternative but to face them.  Caroline makes sure all the bumps in the road are tended to with respect, love, gentleness and above all, grace.  Your 'artist' is very safe there.  Judgment does not exist.  There is no critique.  No one sees or views your work unless they are invited by you to do so.  As your demons emerge from the dark recesses, Caroline gently encourages you to stay with it, to just be.  She  poses pertinent questions.  Your feelings and emotions are respected.  My personal dragons, which occasionally show up in other areas of my life as well, sounded something like this .... I want out of here!!!  Run away, Donna, as fast as your little legs can carry you.  Quit while you're ahead girl.  Don't take any risks.  Be afraid, be very afraid!!  You will displease someone.  It won't be perfect.  It won't be good enough.  Why do I even try?  I have absolutely no talent.  Where's the Rabbit Hole - I want to jump in!!


Caroline deals with all of this and more.  Everyone gets through it in a way which is unique to them and goes home with a little more knowledge about what makes them tick.

My personal experience has been one of enabling myself to quiet my inner critic.  I can now do this gently and with great respect.  My critic and I have a whole new relationship.  She no longer shrieks at me from front row centre.  In fact, she has taken a seat at the back of the room and has become quite dignified.  That in itself is very freeing.

So what is free expression painting exactly?  I will share with you a list which was distributed as a handout.




Free Expression Painting is:


- The process of expressing in paint the visual stream of subconscious images that occur continually in the mind.  Free expression painting is 'tapping into that stream".

- The engagement in the PROCESS of creating painted imagery in which one is passionately involved but DETACHED from the outcome or 'product'.

- Dreaming in a conscious state in which you allow random images to rise up at will without editing or interpretation.

- An INTUITIVE RESPONSE to existing inner imagery.

- A way of expressing our natural inclination for 'imagistic' thinking and re-engaging 'the imagizer'.


- TRUST - paying ATTENTION TO THE FIRST THOUGHT/ORIGINAL THOUGHT.  The "spark", the catalyst that engages the imagizer.

- LUCID DREAMING - Dreaming Awake!!  SPONTANEOUS daydreaming.

- AN INTUITIVE STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS in visual form.

- FREE ASSOCIATION.  Free Wheeling Imagination!!

- SPONTANEOUS IMAGING.  Storytelling.  Expression.

- What happens when we contact the INVENTOR, the CHILD, the MAGICIAN/SORCERESS and step into the mystery of the creative moment of "I don't know".


Caroline has her MFA.  She wrote her thesis on free expression and first thought painting.  Her own art, which hangs in many galleries, comes from the deep well within her.  Carolines' soul is visible on the outside.  Wisdom and a deep knowing are shared with her students in many ways.  She's a woman ahead of her time.  Knowing who she is, where she has come from and clearly living in the moment are all things which impact you deeply when you meet her.  She is awake, aware, conscious, and mindful.  Simply meeting her, makes you a better person.

I know you will be interested in seeing Carolines' work and knowing more about her workshops.  Please visit her website at http://www.carolinejames.com/.  When an opportunity comes your way to join Caroline for a workshop, by all means act on it.  Your life will be enriched by the experience.


My free expression paintings, which you are viewing along the right hand side of this blog, came from two different workshops. (Yes, and I would go back again!)  They are in the order in which they appeared from my subconscious.  I have only shared them with one person .... so ..... this is a huge step for me, putting them all 'out there'!  What the heck!  Life is short and time is flying by so very very quickly.  It's time to LIVE!

November 24, 2009

* Collage art


Creating collage is such fun.  It's very tactile and I adore putting all those little pieces together.

I have been creating a line of cards for a french country boutique here in Victoria.  Most of my cards are there at the moment, however, I have a few Asian theme pieces here at home I will share with you.

I'm still finding the photography a challenge.  Robert Kelly, where are you when I need you????  Robert, part of my Santa Fe tribe, is an accomplished photographer and artist in his own right.  Enjoy his work at http://www.robertjkelly.com/, and http://www.robertjkelly.com/.


Who else is doing collage out there?  I know many of you are sooooooooo creative!  Share with me, please.
          









"Art is the only way to run away without leaving home."  ~Twyla Tharp 

November 23, 2009

* M'lady


A few years ago, I took a workshop with Tessa Nunn.  It was an intensive nine to five, three day workshop.  At the end of those three days, as my friend will attest to, I was speechless, numb, dumbfounded and absolutely struck dumb (more than usual, lol) in more ways than one.  We drove home in silence simply because my brain had ceased to function!

M'lady came out of this workshop.  She was painted from a live model.  To me the model emanated the feeling of an old world Italian Mama, soft and warm, lovingly preparing her famous pasta for her boys.  When M'lady was complete, I looked at her with amazement.  She was anything but "soft and warm".  She was a woman of substance!  She seemed to have a strength to me, and even though she was not grounded visually, she was 'grounded'!  She absolutely knew who she was.

My critic went wild that day.  I 'hated' her, she was 'no good', in fact she was 'garbage'.  Unlike the other paintings which came home with me from those three days, M'Lady escaped the rubbish bin, and I have grown to delight in her.  She is framed and on my wall.  When I applied for entry into the Victoria Academy of Art, I was told "Donna, when you painted M'Lady, you found your soul".  I was accepted into the Academy, but was so intimidated by that statement, I couldn't attend and finally after much agony, withdrew.  That fear thing again, the fear I could not live up to that statement.  

Please visit Tessa's web site. http://www.tessanunn.com/ArtistStatement.php  She's one of those amazing women.  I love her work.  Some of it is very influenced by eastern culture.  Tessa is spiritual.  She's on the 'path'.  She was studying in New York on 9/11 and lived through the trauma of those tragic circumstances.  At the time of the workshop, she was suffering from hearing loss, however, only to the male voice.  Interesting!  I see her website has been inactive for awhile.  I wonder where the Universe has taken her?   As it says on Tessa's website:

"With practice, the magic cannot help but rise."   An Alchemic precept

November 22, 2009

* Surprise! It's Mama Moon


I was astonished when Mama Moon began to appear!  I had no experience in sculpture.  While still in Alberta a friend of mind invited me over to make a mask.  It sounded like fun.

I was presented with a lovely lump of red clay.  Just the colour delighted me.  "What do I do with it?, I queried.  "Knead it, and make it into a ball, then make a face."  The knead and ball part sounded possible --- the face part, not so much.  "What are you going to make?", my friend inquired.  "Don't know, how about you?"  "I'm going to sculpt a native indian."  The fact she actually had an idea impressed me.  My idea file was empty.

We put music on and went to work.  As I began to enjoy the feel of the clay, my hands went to work and a face began to appear.  It became rounder.  Her cheeks took on a life of their own, her nose widened and her lips became voluptuous.  "She's Black.", I announced.  I was stunned.  The face simply kept morphing out of the clay.  She began to smile at me.  Her face took on character.  I giggled and laughed out loud with delight.  There was no way any of this was in my head so where was it coming from?  "It's Mama Moon!" I squealed as I finished her long eyelashes.  I must say, my critic was very quiet that night.  I truly felt as though I had absolutely nothing to do with this creation.  It was a true gift from the Universe.  She was sacred.

Now, four years later, I was happy to find her in good condition in my storage unit.  She was disgruntled at being in a box for so long.  I brought her home.  She's hanging on my wall and causes me amusement every day.  Mama Moon is talking to me.  She's speaking out every day.  I'm getting dirty looks.  "I want to be decorated.  I demand to be painted.  I'm worth it.  I'm beautiful."  Mama does deserve some decoration, however, now I'm intimidated.  I might ruin this gift which was given to me.  I don't know where to start.  I don't know what colours to use.  I don't know what colour her eyes are.  What will I do with those long eyelashes which she adores so much.  So many questions, so much fear!   A spiritual teacher of mine once told me, "If you say you don't know, you don't."  I know that to be true.  However .......  such is life.  Scared and stuck when it comes to Mama Moon.  The situation is symbolic.  Any advise?

"That the universe was formed by a fortuitous concourse of atoms, I will no more believe than the accidental jumbling of the alphabet would fall into a most ingenious treatise of philosophy."  Johnathan Swift

November 21, 2009

* Art Helps Me Breath



Let's talk about creating. It doesn't have to be a work of art. It can be a special meal, a flower garden, or a business report. Creating takes you away to places you don't remember you've been to. You begin. It's a bit of a struggle. At some point you break through that invisible shield and loose yourself in a project. Suddenly the afternoon has slipped by. You look at your watch and never want to stop. Where did the time go? Look on the table, or in the ground, or on the paper. Something magical happened, and it didn't have so much to do with you, as it had to do with something which came 'through you'. Ever have that feeling? Ideas simply flow - there is no struggle. Wonderful stuff simply happens and appears magically before you. The two pears above are called "Just bummin' around".
                                                                                           
For me, creating is a particularly useful way to keep myself balanced.  It keeps me out of the Rabbit Hole.  Winston Churchill called it the 'Black Dog'.  He knew what depression was.  Innately, he understood what to do about it.  Every day he hand laid bricks into the wall at his beloved Chartwell.  He painted, and he wrote.  He was a very creative guy.  It worked for him. It can work for some of the rest of us.


A while ago, I began to play with oil pastels.  At first, it was very frustrating, however, as I allowed my self to be patient, and simply play, a series of fruit appeared.  Who knew?  All but three, I had framed and have enjoyed them every day.  I'm a little challenged with my new camera, so I am getting flash reflection from the glass. I'm sharing them with you anyway.

to the left:  "Yes darling, you are the perfect pear."






To the right:     "Or An Ge". Let me be clear.  I didn't say it was easy to get through those big old wrought iron gates to that magically place.  You may scream, cry and throw things on the way.  The urge to run away as fast as you can is common for me.  Laughing and mild hysteria may set it.  A sudden compulsion to scrub the kitchen floor on your hands and knees is a definite sign of avoidance. A deep sadness may appear, or anger may show itself.  Your critic may need to be 'hushed up'.  A little chat with myself is in order when my critic pipes up.  There is an end to the rocky road however.  Suddenly, you find the key in your hand. You slip through the gates effortlessly.  You have arrived.  Bliss.  Peace.  Contentment.  Knowing.  You are definitely in the flow.  Hours slip by, evening approaches, you look at your watch.  You don't want to ever stop.  That's my kind of afternoon!




"Granny's Granny"                                                

Here's my question.  What about discipline.  Where does the discipline come from to walk into your studio every day and just begin.  I'm not there yet.  I feel stuck half the time and don't do anything!  More work to do.  Other artists manage it.  I want some of that.
"Begin - to begin is half the work, let half still remain; again begin this, and thou wilt have finished."  Ausonius  
(do you think this could be the answer?)  Answers are so simple, it's the doing part that throws you.



I love "Papa Pear".  Actually, I'm not finished him as yet.  Isn't he delicious though?  A real hunk.  He needs to be grounded.  I didn't ground the bananas.  They looked like they were 'drifting' around on the page.  Thus "A Bunch of Drifters".  lol


The last painting is entitled "Pregnant Pear"  She was my first in the series.  Birthing this piece was quick and fast.  I was at my friends place playing with pastels.  My first reaction when my friend said "Oh, I like that." was "It's a piece of garbage".  How dare I.  The piece had come from my soul - how dare I knock it!!  It took me a good long time, however, I have made great strides in quieting my harsh critic and honouring my work.

Any other bloggers out there who know what they're doing?  I know they're are tons of you with gorgeous professional blogs.  I'm having so much difficulty with spacing.  Photos seems to fall where they please and the end result when published is a mess of huge spaces I can't seem to see on the 'edit' page.  Nor can I seem to fix it!  I want perfection, and I want it now!  "We" are not amused.  And .... "We" are fustrated.  I adore the Royal We.  As I said somewhere before, I'm a Leo ... lol.  Ah, Donna, patience please!  Will I ever master 'the process' of life?  "No, my dear, 'the process' is your lifes' work, enjoy it."  See, I answer my own questions!  Scary and wonderful!





November 20, 2009

* I'm Knitting a caterpillar


Well - it sort of looks like a furry caterpillar.  It's actually a wool shawl for those cool winter nights in SMA.  I call it my "Gypsy Shawl".  I feel like a Gypsy these days ... alive and ready to hit the road.  I've been dreaming about long road trips in a small camper van .. just me and Habibi. Would I have the guts?  Maybe!!  I'm working on it.  A few exploratory camping trips around the Island to see if I like it. Would I be scared to death?  Who knows.  Fear tends to hold me back.  I'm doing work in that department as well.  If it was a 'go' - I'd love to drive down to Santa Fe to see my Artist Tribe.  Ah yes, some of my tribe is in Santa Fe.  That is one beautiful city and area for that matter.  I could live there.  Let's get to SMA first, Donna!!!!!

Back to my shawl.  I don't have a pattern.  The pattern is an original - straight out of my imagination.  K1, K1, K1, K1 and repeat until end of row. I didn't risk knit one row pearl one row.   This way, it's extremely mindless work.  I can sit in the evening watching TV or listening to music and build my shawl.  I change colours randomly -- it's an intuative process I am finding.  I thought at first it would be an even balance of oranges and greens, however, I'm finding I want much more orange in it.

I drive about an hour out of Victoria to purchase my wool.  A magical shop called 'The Loom' located just outside Duncan at Whippletree Junction. You can loose yourself in there for hours at a time simply soaking in the richness of the colours.  The textures, types of wool, and countries or origin are incredible.  It is truly a dreamy place.  If you're not inspired when you walk in there - you can't help but be when you walk out!


Anyone else knitting out there?  It's becoming very popular again.  If I'm restless, it settles me.  It quiets my mind.  The rhythm is meditative and calming.  It lifts my spirits.  It's lovely to keep my hands busy. It helps me to keep balanced. It keeps me from the rabbit hole.  What more can you ask.
"Far away in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead."  Louisa May Alcott

November 19, 2009

* Home made cookies with Mexico May



Earth laughs in flowers. ~ Henry David Thoreau

I've enjoyed my flowers so much this week.  I wanted to share them with you.  The weather has been very grey for a few days now.  Terribly heavy rains have caused many problems including power outages and flooding up island.  A night drive to the airport in torrential rain to pick up a friend was a thrill a minute.  Huge pools of water appeared out of the night and threw my car from side to side, even at a cautious speed.  People were driving like there was a full moon.  I had a close call when a driver failed to yield and nearly smooshed me.  Even pedestrians were wandering aimlessly across dimly lit streets seemingly with no concern for their bodily health!  I was glad to be home.


It was home made cookies with May for me today. She is a lovely lady.  Twenty five years ago she began to winter in San Miguel de Allende.  Witness to the many changes which have ocurred in Mexico during those years, May has wonderful stories to share.  Over the years, as her photo albums attest to, she has made many dear friends, had many adventures, and above all as she told me with great excitement, "We have FUN down there.".  Isn't that what life is all about???


We discussed the education of young women and its importance.  For years May has been an active volunteer in an organization whose mandate is to educate young women.  Their focus is raising money for scholarships which enable further education. Rural children attend school locally from grades one to six.  After grade six, they must come into the city to be educated.  This naturally creates great financial challenges for families with lower incomes. Traditionally, the male children are sent to town for further schooling.  Young girls stay at home, learning the traditional domestic role.  In many cases they are are married or become pregnant as early as 14.  The organization May works with encourages the education of these young women.  It raises money for bus fares, school uniforms, shoes, hair cuts, school books and supplies.  It all costs money.  The scholarship recipients are determined by the teachers in these rural areas.  It must be a difficult decision to make.


During her years in SMA, May has seen amazing changes.  Young women return to Mexico from Harvard and other top American Universities with degrees in many disciplines.  The knowledge and experience they gain is automatically passed on to their families and community.  We both agreed the education of young women is of utmost importance in any society.  Men, traditionally are still the 'providers' in so many countries.   Once a woman is educated, everything she has learned and experienced will become part of her life.  She will pass it on to all members of her family.  As a mother, she will want the same for her children and her grandchildren.  A domino affect begins and positive changes occur.  I truly believe it is absolutely mandatory for young women to have these opportunites.  It changes the world.  I could get involved in an organization like this!


May has an interesting collection of Mexican art.  I have always loved Huichal Tribal bead work and May has some gorgeous pieces.  Intricate patterns are made with miniscule glass beads; an amazing feat.  Yarn work, paintings, pottery, and her own hand made wacky nichos are all part of the delight.  It all made me smile and I am sharing it with you.











Mays' Nichos are pure whimsy.  I particuarly loved the Elvis one where he is portrayed in the after life as a skeleton fully dressed to celebrate "The day of the Dead".  The inscription says "Elvis has left the Building".  May has a keen sense of humour.

The beaded gourds are exquisite examples of Huichal ingenuity and tradition. The Huichol Indians of the Sierra Madre Mountains of Mexico are well known for their beautifully intricate yarn paintings and bead work.  The Huichols express their feelings through their art, which is made not from the standpoint of decoration, but to give profound expression to deep spiritual beliefs. This makes traditional Huichol art, whether it be meticulous beadwork, yarn paintings, wooden masks, or striking embroidered and woven personal adornments, beautiful not only from its aesthetic standpoint but from the psychological as well.










fabulous beaded gourds




















The two wooden carvings below are special to May.  She thinks they are absolutely fabulous and I agree.  May refers to them fondly as "The Boys".     The next piece is an wonderful example of yarn art.


May is going to be in SMA when I am there.  How lucky can I get?  I'm very much looking forward to getting to know her a little better.  She's a wonderfully intelligent, interesting woman who loves life and knows how to make the most of it.


Thanks for a wonderful afternoon, May.