Friday, October 24, 2014

Feed the wolf, feed the dream


A very special pair of dreamers and weavers of magic are growing an off-grid Theatre for the Imagination. Artist and sister traveler Rima Staines, one of the early supporters of my life in Vardo For Two, and her poet-mask maker-storyteller husband Tom are conjuring up their life dream. A big, beautiful, fully-lived artist and storyteller family is imagining Hedgespoken. Though I am not very actively updating this blog, it seems many curious and imaginative souls with their hearts bred with similar stirrings as Rima and Tom, and me and Pete come here for inspiration. Thank you, and I do so hope Vardo for Two feeds the wolf -- the wild god -- who makes life full for you. Read Tom as he feeds the wolf, the Wild God for a taste of who this storyteller is.

Rima and Tom have set up a grand stage calling on all who speak the language of that wild and magical, uncompromising, Earth Mother and Sky Father connected spirit. They have an INDIGOGO project to help raise $ and support for the home and circus of wheels pictured below. Click on the link below the beautifully rendered Rima drawing, and see what they have tossed into the Global Jet Stream of imagining life on the planet. Support them how you are able, and follow the path of dreamers who live their talk.

Good luck and just the right amount of copper, and pennies, and pounds, and love
to Rima and Tom!!

Friday, August 29, 2014

"What is a very long time?"

"Geeeeooo is the Gnome of Slow Process. How long is it going to take for that water to wear that rock away? How much has that mountain grown (or eroded) in the last millennium? Geeeeeooo is there watching attentively, making certain that things don't happen too fast, resulting in a slip-shod job...Geeeeeooo is also the master of the clarification process whereby we let something sit quietly while the Impurities slowly settle themselves out, allowing the substance to purify itself in time."
-The Faeries' Oracle, Brian Froud and Jessica Macbeth


The long dry summer has brought with it many cycles, interior ones as well as the seasonal ones. The ones that are visible to us collect at our feet, the alder have loosened their grip on their leaves with more of the brown-edges on the forest floor than on their slender branches. But on the other side of the woods down where the chickens root and scratch for morsels the old peach tree has plumped fruit as big as baseballs. We gather some of them for juicy treats, and the robins save us a few in spite of their greedy appetites for all things sweet. Tendrils of pine and hemlock, cedar and fir parachute slowly in swirls and land in your tea water, or hide in your breakfast if you are munching at the orchard table. Down the hill from us where the community garden and local farmers have things green, and roots red and orange the food from dirt to table feeds us day after day. We give thanks to the many hands that plant, weed, wash and bag vegetables. Pete has firmly planted himself as a volunteer of major proportions in those gardens, and the Food Bank which serves our South Whidbey community. The seasonal change of rootedness is one of those visible ones, and part of the "clarification process whereby we let something sit quietly while the Impurities slowly settle themselves out, allowing the substance to purify itself in time," that Jessica Macbeth writes about in the wonderful book The Faeries' Oracle. It has been a while since I've come to the blank pages of my original blog Vardo For Two. Closed the doors to let things, and life settle themselves the season's change has me on the virtual porch of this dear space once again.

The temperature cools off the woods now, bare feet chill without socks and my hooded sweat shirt no longer hangs on its summer hook. Maybe its that nip of cold at my toes that reminds me of the many worlds that make for a full and de-light-ed life: there are warm hoodies to slip cozy and comfortingly around me. There are magnificent and tiny gratitudes to express as we look at the journey of living in and with small spaces in a grand world, on a globe spinning miraculously in space. Autumn's approach brings with it a quickening alerting us to the needs we must address before the rains come and the season of mold and damp changes our world. We are cleaning and clearing our spaces; we have learned over the past five years what that means for us, and how we must go about things. If there is one lesson that we repeatedly practice it is resourcefulness. We have created a Safety Pin Café born from the pathways to and from the building of the tiny wheeled home we live in today. "Small efficient and moveable" a Safety Pin Café life-style has woven itself into magical stories and a form of art that fuels me, roots me as storyteller and sensitive being. To make sense of loss we human beings learn, among many other things, to let go. When we began building our moveable life we were doing it as a creative solution to the loss of turf (no space was safe), and in metaphorical and literal ways we had become the faceless man, and the faceless woman invisible to the culture because we could no longer fit in the faces we once wore. Much has changed since our first night of blissfully safe and satisfying sleep in our Vardo for Two. We have moved along, stopping and starting up again feeding on the generosity of friends, and the company of guidance we would come to know as most resilient and sustaining. The worlds of 'aumakua (family gods), the animal guardians (Raven, Osprey, squirrel), the Plant World (Pine, Cedar, Fir, Madrone, berry, moss) and the Elementals (the wind, clouds, atmosphere) and the Universe (the sun, moon, planets, stars) have  made themselves palpably present in our everyday. These resilient companions made a space for us to feel safe long enough to pin the goodness of Grace back into the places of loss, teaching us slowly, that permanency is the illusion, and common magic ... a small space ... could be just enough.

Living in small spaces, we learn what is valuable. Literally, we look at where our small spaces are today. The Homestead House Milk Paint has held up beautifully. We've never had to repaint it, but every year since first we painted (Summer 2008) we take a diluted solution of vinegar and water and wipe down the mold from the winter's wet and cold.This year I'm looking at places that are showing wear; milk paint literally wears away like all things natural. There are spots where the milk paint is gone and the oat shows through. I stenciled the back wall of our vardo with a contrasting milk paint. The Hawaiian fern (laua'e) painted shades of green is wearing off. I'm not quite sure what I'm going to do about that yet. (Our homepage of Vardo For two shows that stencil. I love how the native ferns in the woods where we have lived for four years show up to be with the laua'e ... sweet diversity!)  We chose beeswax over any other coating option because of its low impact on my health, as well as the environment. We have no regrets! The process of wiping down the mold, inspecting the milk paint and re-waxing the exterior is not difficult but it does require consciously timing the work; if I am doing the work I wear a mask and goggles; and, you need to do this while there is SUN. Milk paint will go on and dry faster with at least two days of sun, and the wax will spread easier in this temperature as well. The waxing is a two-part rub on and wipe off excess process.

Earlier this week we had to remove the four year old put-together-sink in the Quonset (the 'kitchen' and writing house and second space we built three years ago) because over time, the wooden framework became a mold generating unit, and a trigger for asthma. It was not a planned change, but life is an experiment. When I think one solution will be permanent, Nature will show me everything changes. There is a transitional phase going on now. We are back to what we know we can do, and that is to set up a temporary outside cooking and the clothing washing sinks double for dish washing. We have purchased a stainless steel prep-sink to replace the old, but metal is processed with some very nasty and toxic sealant. The sink is being timed-out: Pete will wet sand-paper the surfaces and air the nasty stuff out for as long as it takes for me to tolerate it. As I write, the first raindrops are falling. Our temporary kitchen arrangement will need to morph today -- make that, now! Pop up the umbies. Umbrella Season fast approaches.

I'm back to the keys after moving things from there, to the no-longer-needed places, and finally to the next-best-place for now. The rain is gentle and small. We have a little more time to move the safety pins and hold life together in a common and magical temporary. Pete is racking down the walking paths, laying in more pea gravel for fall and winter. A new arrangement for preparing and washing up dishes will settle in for the time being. Later in this month my husband Pete and I will set up The Safety Pin Café for a Storytelling Sunday. I will tell stories about the guardians of this place; weave the myth and metaphor of my po'e kanaka roots (Hawaii) and invite the audience to help with the application of the healing salve of story. With the years of practice making up classroom setting using this and that, our audience will join in with their 'Gah, gah, gah' voice of Raven; make rattles from bottles and beans and clack sticks to call on the Ancestors for help with the everyday magic of living. I have rooted in this Salish Sea space enough to feel safe in my skin thanks to the oasis of a home Vardo For Two. I am re-infused with the passion for storytelling making sense of the harsh aspects of loss. It's medium to slow this healing process. Our new sink may have to wait, and sit in the orchard through rain and wind letting Nature neutralize the incredible armor of chemicals we humans have concocted. In the mean time, I'll hope to see faery Geeeeeoo the Sloow and his compadre tinker with that toxic armor, making silliness of the process while singing to me to slow down and keep writing and telling those stories about safety pins, and faeries, and journeys that mend or meddle or snap at magic.

Sunday, January 12, 2014


Please enjoy the history and the resources we're written about, and shared during the years of building and learning to live a simpler life in small spaces. This blog will be mainly an archive of what we've learned, with infrequent new posts. Your comments are welcome and will be moderated and posted. Going forward the writing and blogging I do will fill the pages of my other blogs:
Makua O'o is my primary blog
The Safety Pin Cafe is where storytelling and magic are woven into mythic memoir, cultural adventure and time-traveling

All the best for a great year 2014,
Mokihana and Pete

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Vardo: metaphor and mythic practice

"What I love about your vardo metaphor is it gives people like you and me that emotional outlet to feel connected to a nomadic life, to the Earth, to feel our feet planted on the ground while our soul travels the planet. It allows us to rise up and transcend the prison – or cage as you say – of MCS and create something more powerful for ourselves. Beautiful. This is why reading your blog made me cry! It speaks to that part of me, on a very deep, deep level. This is the power you have – anyone has – by following their truth and putting it out there. You don’t know how many others you will affect, and in what ways.." - Julie Genser
When Julie Genser, creator of the on-line community Planet Thrive interviewed Pete and me in 2009, life in a vardo was a new experience. Years in the making, the fact remains, we were new to what living in a vardo for two would be. I am an artist and writer and count those names as benefits, gifts, that I eat up and give up just as I am learning the trees and I give one another gifts. The Tall and The Small Ones (the forest) fill the island upon which we live with oxygen, lots of it. In turn, we inhale the gift, the oxygen, and give back carbon dioxide. They need it as we need oxygen. Now, the science of that exchange is not something I came up with myself. Research, that is the Tarot that feeds my knowledge. What does happen as we live a day a night, a season, a year in the forest from Vardo For Two is the experience of feeling how interconnected we are with all of it. My culture of Hawaii allows me to believe that in my every where within, and when the logic of the capitalist culture spins me for a loop I hold on to my metaphoric, mythic and real-life digging stick to ground me what I know beyond logic. We are five years in the practice and metaphor of living from a Gypsy-style home. We have grown older and the inconvenience of washing laundry by hand and being sensitive to the many smells of a product-heavy society wear on us, but so do the same product wear on the birds, the bugs, the ground, the water. What happens when the wear happens?
 "In many shamanic societies, if you came to a medicine person complaining of being disheartened, dispirited, or depressed, they would ask one of four questions: When did you stop dancing? When did you stop singing? When did you stop being enchanted by stories? When did you stop finding comfort in the sweet territory of silence?"  - Gabrielle Roth
Earlier this year my response to the wear-and-tear was to make more magic, and myth of the life Pete and I live.

"Join Mokihana Calizar for the inauguration of the Safety Pin Cafe on October 6 at the South Whidbey Tilth Farmers' Market. This two-hour event begins at 11 a.m. with a haunting and healing Hawaiian chant, followed by sharing stories, art and music--fold an origami cup as a symbol of how we can support one another--enjoy cinnamon toast, a symbol of safety and love. Mokihana has written about journey through illness from chemicals ubiquitous in the modern world using myth, metaphor and ancestral memory to create a tale and medicine story. She has found safety on Whidbey Island and has turned a corner toward regaining her health. She acknowledges the South Whidbey Tilth campus as a safe space--fragrance and chemical free." - from South Whidbey Tilth Newsletter--August/September 2013"

The Medicine Wheel from The Safety Pin Cafe
The ups and downs of life in this human body is learned daily. Some practices are consistent, but not constant. Not even the moon upon which I count on consistently, is not constant; she changes from night to night. Some days I have a worldfull of energy, other days I am without spoons to serve a moth. One of the practices that has kept me grounded and able to travel in and out of spaces that I can't step into in 'the flesh' is the artist's practice suggested and taught by Julia Cameron. I've been reading and writing from her book ARTIST'S WAY  Every Day. Today's reading for December 15th is this:

"As an artist so much of my life is determined by the size of my imagination. If I am making something big, and making it daily. I can perhaps live somewhere small. I can sit at a desk that faces a wall and tap words into space and my world is still large enough. I am more than my circumstances, more than the cage of my environment. There is a dignity inherent in making art, a filament of largesse and generosity, a connection to something better and brighter than myself. "You do not own me," I am able to say to the walls that enclose me. And yet, I must learn to love my walls."
Few people really know how we live here in the tiny spaces of vardo, quonset, and hale (wash house) but some do. I weave the myth, live the metaphor or switch it up and live the myth and weave the metaphor loving the walls and pushing from them sometimes to make something from them.

Preparing for Winter Solstice and the promise of more light

Monday, December 2, 2013

New Moon Shadows

The sun played brightly with the wall of yellow, sending shadows of string, and charms, limbs bare, a forest and trunk slender onto its face. Another ocassion for noticing that the moon can send her message, her tattoos, into the day while others miss it, some have eyes that love that sort of message.

Look here for the door early on.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Let's see how well we are

"The safe oasis room on wheels became the right answer for us when our savings and resources could no longer pay the asking price for renting unsafe space and gravity was working against us as well. We are aging faster than we can continue to recover from Diaspora. The small space we have built is what we could manage and afford to build. If the choices of others affect us, we’ll move our home. What it boils down to is this: the inconvenience that make up our daily kuleana (Hawaiian word for responsibility) today is no less inconvenient than Earth’s endurances. We have admittedly been part of the problem when it comes to living with environmentally triggered illness. Now we have a chance to be part of the solution. Let’s see how well we do." - from the July, 2009 Interview "A Gypsy Life: Notes from the Diaspora" with Julie Genser of Planet Thrive

We found The Egg and Berry Farm in the summer of 2010. Within weeks Pete found gates to build, and places to use his drill and his inimitable humor. This is him and Eileen (1/2 of a pair), and the foundation of the "intentional community" we had imagined. We share 5 acres of woods and 'aina with these women. The relationship we have with them evolves and we all learn to be the best we can be; and practice acceptance and forgiveness when it's a day when we are being human.

Time has been softening the ground of our being allowing Pete and me to root and build other tiny spaces as gently as we possibly can. The Hale (pronounced ha-lay) pictured above is a metal wash house with hot water, a shower and a double stainless steel sink we use to wash our clothes(by hand with a washboard and a hand wringer). My sewing machine has a place of honor in the corner just inside that drain pipe. There's nothing I love better than a space for stitiching!

To the right the Quonset is our cooking and eating hut, and the writing/computer space. It's also JOTS hang-out, sleeping room and all around get your rubs and company place. Like the VFT the Quonset is 12 feet long and 8 feet wide.

We have four chickens who root around the lower half of the orchard, and give us fresh eggs. We used to live with ducks, too. But no longer. The chickens teach us a lot about being, and becoming dependent; and the ducks taught us about dying and loyalty and I wonder about "animal husbandry" now. Domesticating animals, enclosing them (and us). It's a subject that is tickling at my curiosity. I've not yet come to many conclusions. But wonder about domesticating.
JOTS is the real mistress of the tiny spaces. Above, the vardo porch is one of her familiar lookouts. She was sent to keep watch, and we are the lucky ones. Below, it's her first winter (2008). She found us and nestled her way into a box warmed by a wool blanket and Christmas tree lights.

This fall I took a view of the yellow leaves that brighten the woods with their seasonal magic. Taken from the corner of VFT, the Tall One (Grandmother Pine) anchors us When we first arrived it was she I chanted to specifically, asking permission to live among them. She said, "Yes." The garage (with the chimney that does not get used) provides the attachment wall for The Hale, and the rain barrel catches water.
Thank you girls!
The VFT roof and new canvas porch awning gets covered with pine and fir needles, Pete's sweeping and lifting that chin for the Raven to see.

We're grateful and humbled for the life we live. The tiny spaces we live in are small in comparison to the woods and the Nature that allows us to be here. I'm reading a good book that I'm sure to blog about before too long. It's Philip Shepard's book New Self New World. This is one of those books that offers turn-on-your-head redefinitions; like the difference between "being tired" versus "being exhausted; another loop for throwing at Darwin's theory of "survival of the fittest"; and a chunk of consideration for domestication of humans and farming and animals. All of it suits my Scorpio curiosity, and my habit of digging around.

Onward on Route 66, a highway I am told by one who has spent much time on it, "Metaphoric or real, it's a great highway."