Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Crones, Crows and Capricorn ... wisdom learned sooner or later ... help with New Year's Resolutions

Moon Snatcher by Rob Schouten

The crow, a trickster hero in many mythologies, is often full of surprises and contraditions.  In this painting crow gets to the core of (the) matter, represented by the winter apple containing the universe, and extracts the moon, symbol of fertility and renewal.

Dutch artist Rob Schouten paints visionary images that evoke a sense of mystery and the sacred.  He lives on Whidbey Island, WA.  Moon Snatcher, the beautiful image reproduced here, is the Winter Season card we sent to friends and family this Winter of 2010.  Rob has generously given me permission to reprint it here on the blog.  Please link to his gallery here:  http://www.robschoutengallery.com/

JOTS and I are back on the slantboard working at piecing together a post.  The dripping rain is heavy.  Wet spots are showing up on the yurt-like tenting that is our latest form of insulation across the top of the quonset.  On a good day or night, the quilt has added to the warmth of our kitchen bringing the temperature up to nearly 68 degrees when I am cooking up a kettle of hot water or simmering a pot of steaming hot food or a pot of delicious Pink Madagascar rice.

Yesterday the three days and nights of the 'ole cycle of the Hawaiian Moon Calendar ended, and as is my practice I use that time to regroup and review life as we know it.  This morning I walked into the quonset and took a turn around the internet, and checked with some of my favorite sights of astrological insight.  I visited Elsa P. Auntie Moon and Cafeastrology and found gleanings of worth for my day.  From Elsa I was reminded to make use of the Jupiter-Uranus conjuction that was been offering lightening speed inspiration and opportunity to all during the summer, and through the first part of 2011.  The link to Elsa's posts about Jupiter and Uranus conjunct are here if you'd like to catch up and make use of the late (but NOT too late) energy of that window of opportunity. 

Auntie Moon, CJ Wright has two very timely posts that fueled me this morning.  Both posts were angles on Saturn:  the first was a post about looking to the transit of Saturn (where Saturn is now in your astrological chart).  Where Saturn transits (the House where Saturn is now) on your chart will give you clues as to where you really must attend to things in your life.  Saturn is the long-term teacher who never forgets and will use all the lessons in the books to give you opportunities to change/grow and make thing right.  CJ's post is as are so many of her articles, practical, grounded and licked with humor.  CJ's second article on Saturn is a three-part series that views The Saturn Return (approximately every 28 years in a person's life,) as a three -part play.  I was especially interested in Part III ... the Crone Year's because that is where I find myself today and I've been here for a number of years now. 

Here's part of what CJ Wright has to say about Part III The Second Saturn Return, the Crone Years:

We’ve been confused by Mercury’s words and sorted it out. We’ve fallen for plenty of Venus’ temptations and held on to the best of them. Mars pushed us into doing things we thought we weren’t capable of accomplishing, but did. Jupiter showed us that the horizon stretches further than we could have ever imagined, sometimes bringing us a little luck along the way. Uranus shocked us and we survived, gaining wisdom and moxie through upheaval. Neptune duped us on more than one occasion bringing compassion to naiveté, and Pluto showed us a way out of the dark corners that held us captive. Chiron comforted us with balm for our birth wound.

And Saturn?

Saturn was always there ~ always the teacher, always the coach. The people and things that surround us at our second Saturn return are our rewards for our good work, for fighting the good fight.

At the onset of our second Saturn return, we are sustaining. The foundation was laid long ago, the walls stand steady and squared, the roof is solid around this life that has, indeed, been worth living.

We start asking ourselves that crucial third act question ~ how will it end?

If you are dissatisfied with some aspect of your life, your second Saturn return offers you the opportunity to give it another go. The Teacher is with you, if you’re up for the task. It’s a second chance to make it right. Through careful chart analysis or in the hands of a seasoned astrologer, you can find the guidance needed to move you in the right direction.

LINK here for cj wright's entire post.  http://auntiemoon.wordpress.com/2010/12/15/saturn-act-iii-crone-days/
WISDOM Learned sooner or later ... help with New Year Resolutions

Over time, Saturn (which is ruler of Capricorn) has been at first a force to which I had no knowledge and when I did learn about Saturn's role as every present teacher, I wrestled with him and lost for more years than I care to admit.  Thing is though, the years of living with MCS (multiple chemical sensitivities) have been the years of making friends and making peace with this teacher. In the form of a teacher that would not go away I am learning "(to) find the grace to love my deepest vulnerabilities--the person behind the mask of the teacher." With Capricorn Moon and my ascendant in Capricorn this lesson is perhaps one of my greatest Saturn opportunity.  I've written posts crediting the counsel of Elizabeth Rose Campbell author of the book Intuitive Astrology for insight into my journey to date.  During the early hours of the evening yesterday, I picked up Intuitive Astrology and was given this bolt of inspiration and a window of opportunity . 

"It's commitment to character that Capricorn (Saturn) seeks to breed, an appreciation for what is good and strong, with faults falling away on their own, in their own time...
To Encourage Intuitive Flow for Capricorn ... Play with Capricorn ... Imagine that before you entered this life you went through training with a teacher who was the best of the best at a particular focus, and who loved you like a son or daughter...What did this teacher train you to cultivate and grow?  Do you remeber the part of the training that reinterated;  Try and fail a hundred times, rathan than playing too small, repeating what you have already perectly mastered?  Pass on trust in life-long learning, through the flow" - Elizabeth Rose Campbell, Intuitive Astrology

Saturn transits my 9th House in Libra for the next while.  The 9th House is the arena of life philosophy, the world view and broad band of experience, knowledge and wisdom.  It is place where the teacher has windows of opportunity to be open-minded and teachable, reachable and adaptive in all ways.  To be closed to new ideas, or rigid about what I believe is to challenge Saturn and at this stage there really is no challenging that teacher.  For me as a makua o'o (elder with tools) I see that I have room yet to learn.  Accepting and embracing the reality that trying new things, being in new places and teaching new things IS path:  LIFE-LONG LEARNING and chronicalling the journey (through my writing and blogging) is 'it.' Natally, Saturn was conjunct in tight aspect with Mars in the 8th House Leo.  Dramatically, my lessons have been to stop fighting change and learn to accept and embrace change rather than attempt to control or prevent change.  I would say the years of life with MCS have taught me that I must continue to attend to the details of finances. (Also an 8th House issue)  It does matter that I settle that check book and spend the time doing it routinely.  We are not bankrupt.  We are however, learning to live on skinny resources and like CJ Wright has reminded me, "skinny" is a Saturn word, and I need to embrace the hunger of lean to get this lesson of finances and resources. 

If you're interested in reading more about Saturn in the Houses here's a link that I found useful:  http://www.cafeastrology.com/articles/saturninhouses.html
So, I think I have my clues for focus and resolve for 2011 ... thanks to Saturn the crone-maker. 

And crows?

These are members of a grand society of watchers and teachers with memories as equally long as Saturn.  They have been a follower of our journey with a particular interest in my man, Pete.  Crows have a very distinctive facility for remembering faces, and it seems they pass that facility down to their kin, and their young.  Wherever we have travelled the crows show up to greet Pete usually sooner than later.  It helps that we are open-minded to the many messages and messengers who fly in our windows of opportunity.  Crow is the tricker and meddler who is unafraid to be messy and definitely capable of unlikely resolutions, and is very handy with tools.  I like to think of Crow as a Capricorn Ally, resolute and capable as well as funny they teach me to remain handy with tools.

If you have stuck it out through this winding tale, I hope there was something worth your time in it all.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Harvest ... those things that abide ... one year's progress PART TWO

The Pineapple Express continues to chug across the Pacific with its wet bounty.  The rain drops onto the quonset and I have the kitchen to myself.  JOTS is out doing kitty things and Pete and I have traded places between vardo and quonset.  Outside I hear the birdsong of a Toehee hunting up breakfast. 

Harvest is a long-term process.  As this year draws to an end, and Christmas Eve dawns here in the forest I can see the lightening sky through the tall trees.  It's like that with us this Christmas Eve we have many blessings to count. 

Continuing where I left off yesterday there are 3 more things to recount and review from Julie Genser's interview. 

7) openness to sharing resources

When we built VardoForTwo we did it knowing the tiny home was primarily a bedroom built to be a safe haven.  We used all the resources we had at the time to build it stout, safe and road ready. 

Home includes much more than a bedroom, but that was what we needed most.  The leap of faith we took with creating VardoForTwo was to believe that we would find people, place and situation where we could share resources. 

Stop 1-The Ledge

We arrived exhausted and fragile.  Our old friends had also taken a leap of faith giving us the spot on their land to land.  We found comfort in that act, made the ledge which had been till then a kind of salvage heap with a grand view of a fresh-water pond.  We refreshed ourselves, our souls and began learning what it took to share resources.

We stayed 6 months and found that even with the best of intentions, friendship has its limit and boundary setting is not an easy practice.  We arrived and lived from a near constant state of post-traumatic-stress and did the best we could to maintain our lives and health.  Educating friends who are not MCS aware is a long-term commitment; change is not easy under the best of times.  We are grateful we had a place to begin and I recognize the limits of old friendships.

Stop 2-The field in Bend

We had no place to go when we left The Ledge.  A long shot of a possibility took us on a journey across the pass to Bend, Oregon.  New friends, made over the internet, also living with MCS gave us hope for somewhere to be for our first winter.  The risk was enormous:  Bend was foreign land, the new friends were NEW, and winter in Bend meant deep winter.

What we learned in Bend is sharing resources with others even when you have an illness like MCS in common is not enough to build an intentional community, especially in winter.  Friendship develops and doesn't grow strong over night or in a season.  We planted seeds of friendship and learned some of the complexity of building community is multiplied when MCS and its myriad symptoms challenge decision making, and social intercourse. 

We stayed in the field for a month, became a friendship with two young people with similar though different dreams for a safe community and then packed up before winter snowed us in. 

Stop 3-Everett

Long time friends and supporters offered us a place to pull VardoForTwo.  The mill town setting would really test the limits of friendship and community.  Once again we were road y weary upon arrival, and yet we were stronger than we were when first we lived with these old friends. 

Tucked into space in front of and then between the large old mill town houses we brought such out-of-the-boxness to Everett.  We arrived in early November, 2009  and left on May Day, 2010.  We had a place to sleep, electricity to warm us and a basement where we set up our kitchen, used a bathroom, and generally spread our chattel into our friends' life.  They were accomodating, and loving.  The limits to there ability to be fragrance and chemical free made contact and socialization difficult.  Many deaths and losses happened during the winter of 2009 and that added to the process of sharing and caring.  We contributed in ways we could and I reached a new bottom emotionally, broke an elbow and arm while out walking and our relationships were tested.

We left Everett when the neighbors next door building a new house were ready to paint the big new mansion.  We'd stretched our welcome and tolerance for the city to a limit and had somewhere to go for a month.  We packed up once again and made our shortest trek for a place to be since our life as Gypsies began three years prior.

Stop 4-Whidbey Island

For the first time in three years we had a house all to ourselves.  We made arrangements with an MCS couple to work for rent in exchange for parking our VardoForTwo in their driveway and use their MCS-safe cottage in South Whidbey Island.  It was a wonderful feeling to be in the woods, parked on flat land with an extension cord fort electricity pulled into a cottage where no one else lived.  We felt an unfamiliar sense of freedom and relief.  We let-down our guard and crashed into the luxury of amenities.

Resiliency comes with practice.  We have had lots of practice and with the VardoForTwo as our kernel of safety our four weeks in the Whidbey cottage gave us time to seek out a more permanent place to stay.  We learned to use timing in our favor:  it was Spring and though the seasonal allergies were real for me (Scotch Broom !) we began searching for a place to be on the Island. 

Having a place where we could tend to the basics:  sleep, cook, bathe, wash and dry our clothes safely, breath fresh air and be in the quiet of the woods, we began feretting out this new place.  We have known Whidbey Island, though never lived here.  We posted a photo and a call for a place to park and hook-up.  People were very interested in the tiny home and we received many calls, first for us.  One of those folk also lives with MCS.  We visited her home in the deep woods of the Maxwelton Valley area but I was reactive to the cedar siding and something else.  We didn't move in there, but Pete has become her caregiver helping her with a sundry of different things every week.  

Whidbey Island has its own "Craigslist" ... it's Drewslist and it works like a magnet for local needs, wants and goings-on.  Through our MCS friend and DrewsList we met our friends who share their land, ducks, chickens and friendship with us.  We rent a space that gives us many ways to share resources:  Pete does all manner of fix-ems, I cook crockpots of food once a week and they have introduced us to the folk and groups who are of like mind and intentions.   

8) laughter whenever possible, if not more
There's always room for a little more laughter.  Like today when Pete locked me into the vardo until I settled the checkbook.  Feeling like Rapunzel I made my way through weeks of reconciliation.  Then I walked to the locked door and realized, "Hay, I have the dead bolt lock on my side of the door!"  Pete laughed at me when I stood on the vardo porch, "Wondered how long it would take you to realize that." 

We are often befuddled by the reality of our day, and forgetfull of where our keys, cellphone, mask, scarf etc. are.  Still we get through it and make shift with the short-falls. It lightens the load so much.
9) fragrance- and chemical-free

We both maintain the fragrance and chemical - free world we inhabit as much as we can.  We can do that much of the time.  What we can't do is make others change, or be as f&c-free as we are.  We educate and then try to be the example of what we ask of others.  It works sometimes, and sometimes people do what they can and it falls short of what we need.  So, we do what we can to change ourselves: a shift in attitude, a shift in position, a softening of expectation. 

10) a spiritual connection with Earth and Ke Akua (Source, Higher Power) that is the foundation"


This is the the partnership of most value in my life.  I try to see the Divine in the everyday.  Pete and JOTS and I just returned from a nice long walk through the woods around the bottom half of the land upon which we live.  The winter starkness is perfect for trimming out trails and reclaiming paths.  Armed with my o'o and Pete with lopers we had a very pleasant time.  The island woods are very thirsty and seem to absorb the drenching rains leaving very little on the surface. We hope there is space for us to bring family and friends to expand the community of this land.  We spend time with Papa Honua (the land/Earth) and tend her carefully.

Intentional community grows with time.  We count ourselves lucky to have time to grow, and thank Ke Akua for the life that grows slow and steady.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Harvest ... those things that abide ... one year's progress PART ONE

I've enjoyed reading the success stories of folk in the MCS community.  With access to the internet again, the ability to connect and share in healing and recovery journeys is the best sort of holiday present.  2010 has been a year of creative expression and change for me and Pete.  Ironically, the internet was not available to us most of this year, so the times when we did have it had to be focused and at the same time accepted as short windows of opportunity .  Blogging and surfing the web were replaced with the hands-on feet on the ground experiences of settling, setting root in a new place.  In May we boarded a ferry with our VardoForTwo and landed on Whidbey Island.  With rain drops fat and sloppy falling on the metal roof of our quonset shelter, and the radiant electric heat baking my right thigh there is time and circumstance for catching up on the wonderful harvest of progress.

First, let me celebrate the successes of sister Canaries who have made wonderful progress in the journey of healing from MCS.

Libby  blogs at MovingBeyondMCS

Libby began blogging about the small and giant steps of improvement and recovery from Multiple Chemical Sensitivities.  When her blog was infant she made it clear that her purpose was to chronicle the improvements in her life; the things that work for her; and the stories of others who are finding sources and experiences of recovery.

In 2010, I read how Libby has taken herself on a long and successful road trip to New York.  Libby lives in Canada, and her venture as well as the other posts of change and improvement are harvests of success.

Congratulations and Hurrah for you Libby!


Community forums and blogs introduce me to others with MCS.  Though I have had little contact or communication with LadyItchalot, I have read her experiences over the past two years on The Canary Report and Planet Thrive.  The link will connect you with LadyItchalot's current success and recovery in her own words.  I read the two part article on The Canary Report yesterday, and am truly filled with joy and hope after reading it.

This quote from LadyItcalot's story (Part 2) was especially resonant for me:

..."Let me please stress that I definitely still believe that we were chemically injured. What I now believe is that for most of us, there was another stressor at the time of injury. A stressor can be any of many different sources (physical, emotional, medical). MCS researcher Martin Pall addresses this in his NO/ONOO- theory with the eNOS, iNOS and nNOS. Brain retraining expert Ashok Gupta addresses that with amygdala co-wiring, as does Annie Hopper with her neural retraining"

This story of recovery and healing opens to the very broad band of opportunity and possibilities for reassembling life.  "There was another stressor at the time of injury" is a key factor for me.  Now that we are on Whidbey Island and have planted the seeds of a new life into this island community, those other stressors have a chance to surface and heal.  My blogging is one form of re-wiring and using the gifts of growth and creativity to heal.  Patience is necessary in large stores and others recovery stories fan the flames.  How grateful I am to have access to your story LadyItchalot in time to count it as a fine holiday present.  Thank you.

A year ago last summer(2009) Julie Genser founder of Planet Thrive did an extensive interview with Pete and me.  A Gypsy Life: Notes from the Diaspora has been a gateway ... a sign-post from which I have reviewed our journey.  The rune "Gateway" serves as reminder to review and consider what life has been like in all its phases and myriad forms before stepping through the gate to things yet to be. 

We have planted the seed of a new life, or 'new normal' and need to recount and value the progress we have made.  Here are a few of my favorite sprouting successes.  From Julie's interview with Pete and me I find these successes,and count them as presents.

A quonset kitchen

A year ago summer we were camped on The Ledge in the Woods, and cooked under our tarp-roofed outdoor kitchen.  Our outdoor kitchens have served us well during the summers.  When the temperature and weather changes to winter, other arrangements need to be concocted. 

Here, now though you have no pictures to confirm it, we have the quonset kitchen to enjoy degrees of comfort, warmth and respite like we have not had in a long stretch of time. 

We count this as a present, and give thanks to the guidance and generosity of a very creative Creator.

Intentional Community

This is part of the answer I gave Julie Genser when she asked us to describe our vision of an "Intentional Community" we would like to created.

"I think our original vision for intentional community was more idealistic. With each day and night of life from the Vardo that vision tempers. I see how slowly change comes and try to keep it simple. An intentional community might include the following basics:

1) clean air
Here in South Whidbey the air is clean and fresh on most days and nights.  Winter wood burning is an issue, and we need to close up the vardo and sometimes I use oxygen to ride out the exposure to the smoke.  The present comes from having both the vardo which seals well against things like smoke, and having the resources to pay for tanks of oxygen when I need it.

2) clean water

We share the well water with our friends  and landladies.  We choose not to use the water for drinking or bathing because the minerals and sediment from all manner of stuff is not the best for us.  What we have done for many years is to carry a portable RO (reverse osmosis) water purification system to filter the well water.  With the quonset kitchen in place, the filter works wonders from the faucet Pete has in the sink.  Slowly yet steadily we filter a half gallon of water at a time. 

HOT CLEAN WATER is the other blessing that comes from like in an evolving process.  Thanks to our friend Joan, who suggested the idea of using a big old fashioned coffee pot as a mini hot water tank, we have a small stainless steel percalator that is our hot water tank.  8 cups of filtered hot water is available any time for washing/bathing/drinking.  It's sheer luxury 8 cups at a time!

3) safe sleeping spaces
The Vardo for Two is that for us and we love it, love it love it!

4) quiet times often
Dreams do come true when you tether them to the footwork of risk taking and hard work.  Our place here in the forest is quiet often.  The loudest sound I hear now is the air filter and the fat drops of rain on the quonset roof.

We have separate yet close enough to our near neighbors living.  We have established respectful and consistent boundaries between us.  We have learned from the other shared living experiences and grow in our ability to live without unnecessary walls.  Since we live from small space, the outdoors is our living room and the walk between our neighbors home and the vardo or quonset give us plenty of quiet, often.

5) organic local food/growers and garden space to tend and harvest

South Whidbey and Whidbey Island as a whole is a mecca of organic, local growers.  We have made connections with them through the Farmer's Markets and through community groups like Transition Whidbey.  Here on the land where we live, nine ducks, three chickens and an orchard of fruit trees give us what we have dreamed could happen. 

There is plenty of maintenance to keeping the critters happy and the trees healthy.  Next year there will be time to do a little more than we have done this year. 
6) respectful human relationships
With each camping place we have taken Vardo For Two we learn what it means to be a human in respectful relationships.  That is a process that doesn't happen quickly, and with the lessons that challenge us because MCS makes us 'different' the process is one of learning and unlearning as much as healing from environmental illness.

Growing respectful of ourselves and others means I practice the things that have worked for me as an abiding process.  I practice the principles and practices of The Twelve Steps.  I remember that I am a Makua O'o and I use the memory of my Hawaiian culture as a backbone to connect with a Higher Power. 

Pete and I learn how to sustain and nurture a partnership of equals and give each other the room to be given the tiny spaces from which we grow our home.  Having the quonset extends this option to have separate, though small space.

I'll continue tomorrow with Part Two of Harvest and make notes on the remaining parts of the Intentional Community we envisioned.

7) openness to sharing resources

8) laughter whenever possible, if not more

9) fragrance- and chemical-free

10) a spiritual connection with Earth and Ke Akua (Source, Higher Power) that is the foundation"

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

"Making shift"

"Let us make shift together, until your fortunes turn."
-a line from the character Matty, from the BBC production Cranford

The Solstice is here.  Pete and I hoped to see the Lunar Eclipse late last night just as Winter Solstice 2010 marked the longest night.  The clouds were busy though, so when the alarm clattered on my cellphone at 11:45 Hina was a muted globe of light and no eclipse could be seen.  The dark sky in the forest lights up with any moonlight though, and my sleep was less than deep as I felt the energy of the eclipse inspite of the cloudy sky. 

This morning, the clouds have pulled away in big patches.  As promised there is blue sky.  JOTS is perched on my right elbow as I write, she's been busy on a Solstice morning doing what a huntress does when she is not warming herself under the heat lamp inside.  Pete has taken Scout our Subaru, mini safe haven on wheels, to the repair shop.  When winter came early in November, we were out in Scout ... and it was icey.  I, a Hawaiian, was at the wheel and skidded on a patch of ice.  A big truck parked at a traffic light slowed the skid, and Scout is in need of repair.  It's been a month since the accident and we have found ways to keep Scout on the road.  I have recovered from the trauma of the skid, and made my way behind the wheel after a couple weeks of recouperation.  Car insurance is the one form of insurance we have continued to pay.  When our financial reality led to our decision to stop paying $600 a month for medical insurance for two (we don't have it to pay and what we get from the premium falls short of what we get in return) what money we had went to maintaining our ability to remain mobile.  Repairs to Scout and the big truck I hit will be covered by our insurance after we pay the $500 deductible.  We will come up with the $500, and give thanks to a generous friend who sent an unsolicited gift to help get Scout back into shape.

We, like many thousands of Americans who live in the shadows of society make shift with the changing fortunes of life with chronic illness and living reassembled lives.  After I kissed Pete good-bye, bidding a sweet A hui hou I sat on the slantboard couch in the Quonset and spent time browing the internet.  With an open-mind to what I could post I found a series of posts at MCS Safe Housing written by Lisa Pausman.  Lisa blogs at Sundogtales.  Reading Lisa's chronicle of life in a tent gave me unexpected hope and a reunion with folks I had forgotten about.  "Making shift" is an expression of what folk have done time and time again to get through travail and changes of fortune.  Lisa and her partner Jeremy put expanded meaning to that expression for living in a tent in the Pacific Northwest in winter is a challenge few do, and yet scores of us with MCS will find themselves with no safe home this winter.  Lisa Pausman begins her three part article MCS Survivalist this way:

"Death or injury is a real threat when someone with little outdoor experience becomes homeless in the dead of winter. Hundreds of people with multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS) will be homeless this year and many turn to camping for shelter. This guide is for those with moderate to severe MCS and little outdoor experience. It focuses on teaching the skills needed to survive safely until either housing improves or the weather warms in spring. "
Another reality Lisa describes on her blog SunDogTales, is the issue of healing those pearly white within our mouths:  teeth.  Life with MCS comes with all the history before the illness, and with the daily challenges of survival maintaining dental health and attending to the ravages of tooth decay and loss without dental insurance the burdens get heavy.  Lisa has a post about reversing tooth decay, with a link to WholeHealthSource, a blog with very informative and empowering practices that give hope to those who are can not or choose not to be dependent upon contemporary dental practices for their well-being.  The links to WholeHealthSource and Lisa's blog are here: 

I have been at this computer in the quonset so long, the foam slantboard has formed a dent from my bottom, my feet are chilled to discomfort and JOTS has taken to circling along side of me wearied from my long stint at the keys. 

Happy Solstice dear ones.  In the practice of becoming more and more human and innocent in the making I see the line from the character dear Miss. Matty of Cranford as a good thing.  Making shift together is a good thing.  Thank you Lisa.


Friday, December 17, 2010

Pearl making

How is a pearl created?

The grit of life creates treasure.  What we believe changes.  Long may be the making of the pearl.  Yet if you are present for the process, no one can steal it nor value it as truly as you.

The storm has passed through.  The alder leaves have dried and fallen adding to the wet layer of rot.  The forest floor soaks the drench of rain, a breeze teases the ends of the huckleberry bushes and a tit-mouse hunts out the last of the dark sugar-rich berries.  News from our friends bring tidings about our favorite labrador, Bear.  A length of fishing line was pulled from his gullet, and difficulty digesting protein are the current challenges for the strong silent canine care-giver.  My prayers for his well-being connected me with this friend.  It feels good to have near neighbors who become more than neighbors with time and a commitment to grow friendship.

Our trailer built tiny haven of a home parks in the woods where we share land, place and life with folks.  We are new to this version of life on the planet and count as a blessing the stability this island community offers.  In no small way the journey here to South Whidbey has been one of pearl-making.  The grit of life has worn away many bits of life that once we held dear and requisite.  Forms of entitlement have been buffed down over the years since I lived in a gulch not far from old town Mukilteo.  Age, illness and unintended access to the essentials for true treasure slowly yet steadily rebuild my dreams and shore up my soul's desire.  Something else grows around the invasions to our life as oyster.  Uncertainty, yes there is that.

Winter 2010 marks the start of a season of staying.  The three years previous were part of the ending and new beginnings.  Numerology has an elegant way of conceiving and describing these cycles.  (More about numerology's role in the pearl-making will show up in future posts.)  My internet friend CJ Wright recently reintroduced me to the cycles of 9 when I won a giveaway on her blog Auntie Moon.  Such a timely gift.  (mahalo, cj!)  The wheeled haven is a seed proving to be one of hail quality.  Small, hearty, resilient, versatile and adaptable the lessons it shapes for us as we take it with us like land turtles affirms my choice to invest in it as "home."  From the vardo, our belief--our faith, in the process and a solid, nourishing future grows.  The curved oak roof, stone tile floor and inert stailness steel walls combine in a recipe of alchemy.  These materials were chosen with new focus and intent.  The choosing was tedious painstaking work with no prototype the gods and saints who know what home-building involves fueled Pete's mind and hands.  St. Joe the capenter surely had a hand in it.  To him and all others seen and unseen I am truly grateful.

Intuitive astrologer Elizabeth Rose Campbell describes what it takes to value the complex nature of creativity.  I love this paragraph from the chapter "The Aspects" in her book Intuitive Astrology. 

"Sometimes we must develop very sophisticated methods of combining talents to maximize our creative gifts to the world.  to do this, we need to be like the carpenter building a table. 
  • Aware of the variables
  • Present with our tools
  • Our full attention, and
  • A substantial fund of patience."
Reinspired, at just the right time Elizabeth Rose Campbell's counsel returned in a big, black plastic bag.  When this journey of heightened sensitivities began my reality, books, among the many treasured past-times were a no-go for me.  I could not touch a book nor be close to print for over two years.  Filled as it was more than a year ago, the big, black plastic bag marked as treasure for my son sat in a friend's spare room.  When we packed up our chattel there was no room for the bag.  Pete promised to return for the bag when we were somewhere.   Time passed, and the pile of pearls mounted.  I didn't remember the bag was left behind, Pete didn't think the bag would inconvenience.

We are somewhere now and word got to recently that the bag no longer welcome.  Word word reached us that the bag was now in the way now.  Re-claiming it took significant time, energy and money.  Still, Pete remained steadfast in his belief the bag and its contents were of enduring value.  There were mementos of a time passed that had value to him, and his Cancerian nature to mother is his core sense.  He retrieved the bundle in time to open it up with my son and me this Thanksgiving just  passed.  The contents of the bag were varied and unexpected.  Memories, books, pictures and mementos--many of which I had released becasue they had been exposed to toxic moth balls and smells that are toxic to me.  When the three of us stood at the barn door where the bag is stored, time tumbled from it.

One irreplaceable moment captured in a faded color photograph was destined for Christopher.  "Thanks Mom, " he said recognizing the old photo.  He needed a refresh as to where the photo was taken.  He was not yet two years old when Mel took that picture.  I reminded him of the location and said, "Pete took great care and much effort to bring this to you."  "Thanks, Pete."  He wanted few others in the mix.  A small brown boy wearing a Mickey Mouse shirt held in the arms of a long-haired bearded man with sunglasses watched a woman with long dark hair, sunglasses, a plumeria lei.  The woman was whistling and the man and boy watched.  Patience may be my more valued pearl.  If not greatest or biggest no doubt patience has been the steadying quality over time.  Campbell's insightful counsel has been valuable to me at many times over the last decade.  Before MCS I read and gleaned meaning at a level that equaled my experiences to date.  Years later when the variables (time, safe place, re-newed self awareness and new beginnings), tools (information about MCS, boundary-setting, spiritual practice), our full attention (MCS can do that), and a substantial fund of patience were present I was able to read for hours Campbell's book Intuitive Astrology again. The book was part of the black bag contents.  There is progress in the pearl making and that is something to crow about.  The Universe works in miraculous ways.  As I finished this post, I sought to credit and link to Elizabeth Rose Campbell and her work.  I found this link and though saddened that her light is now bright from the other side, I count one more pearl that grows solid and strong with her counsel.  Thank you, mahalo nui loa Elizabeth.  I wonder how well you loved a whistle?

Whistling on,

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Vardo for Two ... the journey continues ... with a Whistling Woman

a whistler from way back
Smuggler's Gulch, WA 1973
I come proudly from a family of whistlers. When we were small kids growing up in the valley it was my brother’s inimitable whistle that told me he was near (or at least within a whistle’s range). The puckering whistle has all range of melody, and when I could not or would not speak the whistle allowed me space in a place. Fingers in the mouth whistling was the style that suit my brother and Daddy. Those were bellows and shrieks with precise decibels and just as clear messages: “Get oveh here!” “Eh!” It took practice to get those fingers placed right for a bellow, and I do it when the need arises.

This space today is a place to welcome the whistling genes to pucker and crow like good laying hens do when they are in the throws of triumph...a new egg is laid! Several months ago I was listening to a radio show about Whistling Women and Crowing Hens.  I was fascinated by the old British Isles ditty that stirred history to say that both -- whistling women and crowing hens, would come to a bad end.  No doubt the Victoria Age deemed the attention whistling woman garnered destined for a bad end; and as likely true for a hen who would stir the silence of a barnyard to herald the coming of a fresh egg.  For me, and many many others whistling is a joyful venture into voicing currents that are vibrant, joyful, mournful, fervent and in all a whistle signifies the whistler is fully alive today. In the years that I count as my life, there have been many, many losses. I know the multiple degrees of pain and realize more than not, this is part of being alive. When one more loss weighs heavy on the load, I still wish some one could chip in/pitch in/take over.  That seldom happens, my life is still my life -- my kuleana, my responsibility.  I have grown from the loss and the pain and come to know myself and my place in the world with greater acceptance. Perhaps growing older, my partnership with Creator/Akua is much stronger and I heal from the darkness into innocence once more.

Today I am whistling again with more vigor and joy in a very long time, and with three crowing hens to lighten my load, one day at a time. Joy comes with whistling and though there is pain something happens when an old gal like me steps out the vardo door and finds Henny Henny, Kou and Aka (the three black crowing hens) kick'n pine needles and venturing into new territory as escaped hens from the corral. An opened gate let them explore this new ground.  They'd flown the coop so-to-speak, but not gone far.  It must be part of the gifts of encouragement that Akua fashioned for today.  What a sight!  I've been a whistler from way back and with the space that comes from forgiveness and amends of all sorts, our crowing hens give me hope for better things coming.   The Season of Light invites forgiveness and hope.  Whistling does that too.  Join in, pucker up and whistle.


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Change and Continuity

I've noticed a climb in the number of visitors to Vardo For Two in the last few days, and wondered what might account for the traffic.  Then it occurred to me, perhaps folks are using the MCS calendar girl calendars, and there I would be "November."  I chose to be the November calendar woman because I celebrate a solar return mid-November, and it's always nice to have a reason to celebrate coming to Earth.  Seems like such a long time since that project became.  If indeed the calendar is bringing new visitors that would be a good thing.

Those who are new to our blogs, there are ventures posted here that chronicle life with MCS and the challenges that try the metal of a human's soul.  Two years of postings include the formidable reality of life that changes when 'being out of control' is the mantra of the day/night/week/month/year.  Solutions and support come at different times and in degrees or leaps.  Always, the choice to remain hopeful varies.  Though I write from other places now, it is always heartening to see the Vardo for Two draws the attention of those who might be seeking hope, inspiration, connection.  Vardo For Two was written to tether my hope to a universe of unseen others who may or may not relate to the daily life of wanderers, homelessness by most standards, yet resilient and creative in our methods of staying alive and hoping to regain a sense of innocence, again.

MCS is for me an illness and a soul-storm that has blown the leaves off my limbs (more than once) and as that storm has bore me naked there is my soul of origin and faith springs.  We human beings may be in a place in our history when the capacity to mourn, grieve and move through life more human (if that is possible) because so many of us are humbled by whatever ails us.  Secretively enduring what ails because there is the shame of frailty or illness is common.  I have endured. 

Our Vardo for Two has served as a seed of hope from which Pete and I craft a new sort of life.  Growth springs from the vardo, and this winter is a season of staying where we are ... a very new world this winter.  We built a tiny safe space to re-learn our place on Earth.  The process is laborious and the relationships that end or start during this process are unpredictable.  I hope those who come here out of curiosity will find something in the pages of the blog to fuel our journey.  There are more than one blog to explore from Vardo for Two ... perhaps something there will spark something of value.

It's All Souls Day.  Blessings to all souls still in the flesh and others who watch us all and forgive us our sins,

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The new blog ... A One Apple Pie Life

Inspiration for that refreshed view of life has come from the farmers.  It's newly in the making.  Click to read what's starting.  The Harvest Moon, coming up October 2 ought to bring fall recipes to delight. Come share one at A One Apple Pie Life.

See you there,

Monday, August 30, 2010

This blog of ours has served its purpose I think. It feels like time to move from it and make changes that refresh our lives. Posts have slowed down for all number of reasons ... and perhaps most of all, this blog has filled with the seasons of crisises and awareness. We will keep Vardo For Two here as it is with all our discoveries, healing moments and makings of a tiny home built to be safe for us as we learn about MULTIPLE CHEMICAL SENSITIVITIES. In the future, a new blog may grow. What? I am not yet sure of that.

There's a lot to discover if you are new to the journey of discovery with environment illness and new choices and new values. Hope there is something to enrich, comfort and support you when you need it.

Much Aloha, Mokihana and Pete

Thursday, August 5, 2010


"...Without it wounds are slow to heal.  With it all things are possible."
-From the Healing Runes

I commit to more practice, daily, every day, of serenity.  The first pair of new boots I've bought in several years enclose my feet and ankles to aid the restoration of weakened ankles.  I'm getting used to them.

A douser from the Island comes to help me with energies affecting me where we live in the forest.  We wish to stay here.  Gods willing the serenity I need to accept comes as part of that 'all things are possible.'

I'm stitching up a sweet Penny Pouch for the Vardo's Abundance Corner.  A meditative hand-stitching project that keeps me in the practice a stitch at a time.  Once the dousing cures have been set, the Penny Pouch will hang in the Fortune Corner. 
(...for more information about Feng Shui, Abundance, Fortune Corner there are many books to glean meaning for you.  I have enjoyed The Feng Shui of Abundance by Hilton for many years, and it's from that resource that the idea of the Penny Pouch did spring.)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


More than enough real life is happening here in the forrest.  My need to get to the blog to describe it is ebbing.  Summer seems to be filling me with acceptance for the life that is mine.  The clotheslines are filled with routine washings, a tub full of pillow cases and night clothes is soaking in fresh water as I plunk away at the keys here.  We have a kitchen table inside our outdoor kitchen ... the first table we've had in years.  It's a treasure we've not had place to put.  How fine an experience it is to sit at it with tea and tablet.

Our routines are hard work, or time-consuming.  When I am able to keep it simple and let what I am doing be good enough, the work is exactly right.  The awarenesses are many, and calming the urge to fix the discomfort of some of those awarenesses just make the work difficult, and conflicted.  Without blogging as often, I live the awareness and am faced with choice:  fix it too soon and I have to sit with the premature mend and start again.  It's a journey, a process.  I meet my impatience and my irritation and finally wear out my control-button to the point of acceptance. 

My ankle break is wrapped in an ACE bandage that has been soaking to de-stink it from microbial doo-daa junk for weeks.  I can use it now with some precaution.  I wrap and ice the ankle to keep the injury calmed, keep it as stable as I can and then accept ... it's as good as I can do for now. 

The VardoForTwo is a gem.  We live from it and it continues to teach me lessons small and grand.  Change takes time, it is hard work and today I accept that.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

What now my love?

Summer sky fills the view from Computer Station #9 here in the Langley Library.  JOTS is curled into the old beach towel in her porch bed-box on the vardo, Pete is off to Everett and I enjoy another hour at the boards.  Staying in the moment to experience time now, the needs that will come when summer turns to winter can be put on 'pause' and fear is calmed if not replaced with prayers of gratitude.  "Thank God!" for the now I imagined was possible.  Faith needs a respite from the planning, so that is what happened this morning.  As I woke from sleep, still tagged with the remnants of the dreams I thought of a new writing project that could be very fun to cobble together.  Those unedited inspirations are always fun to entertain and like those prayers of gratitude the unedited first thoughts that are free from fear are such precious things.  The writing project has something to do with creating a kind of guide that Nomads such as Pete, JOTS and I would pass along to those who might take up this sort of road -- less traveled, yet as the world spins, might become part of the collective imaginings. 

A year ago Julie Genser creator of the blog and internet community PLANET THRIVE did a interview with us.  The link is here.  That link and onversation we had with Julie continues to be a truthful foundation.  The interview also includes a very useful addition link to another of our blogs that is a place where others thinking of building a mobile safe haven might find practice questions to ask and answer BEFORE striking out on the venture.  The interview is where we began, and now there are things to add.  When I heard my brother describe my life to an old friend as "she's nomadic" a chill washed through me.  It's still difficult to describe ... the feeling.  That writing project comes from my brother's description both because of how he said it, and more importantly because of who he is.  We have long history and the past has etched itself into our lives with common and uncommon threads.

What now my lovely life?  How can we share the journey in yet another fashion that could aid another Nomad?  We shall see said the blind-one.  We shall see.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

CLOTHES PINS and the journey back to innocence

We are living our second summer from our wheelie home VardoForTwo.  Together Pete and I have learned, and continue to learn what it takes to make "home."  For those who have followed the journey, the process of building a chemically-safe haven filled this blog for many months.  My other blogs, Sam and Sally, Makua O'o and the fairy tale Woodcrafting helped me sort through the tangle and jumble to make some sense of the losses/dead-ends and challenges.  Blogs sprouted to satisfy my writing calls and for that time because I had the help of my Ruby the laptop and access to the internet I did write and write and write.  The blog world was a godsend and I used that world to explain and interact with others who are and were unsure of the affects of environmental triggers on the reality of life as they'd known it. 

Now I live with a different sort of writer's deadline, working at the local public library for 59 minutes at a time, I prioritize my hour and decide how to spend it.  Do I search?  Do I write?  Can I do both?  Sometimes the answers are No. Yes. No.  Other mornings, I Search a little to get answers I need then move to my write something here mode.  So, the third answer is Yes.  I have 41 minutes left here at my favorite window computer seat.  And with some luck I will be able to spread the thoughts I came with onto to post:  Stages of growth and the journey back to innocence.  Working backwards from now, 'INNOCENCE'  is the first stage --- the beginning in a soul's journey, as in the innocence of babes, there is only the joy of possibility and the openness of all possibile good.  The runes have influenced me with their oracular insights.  I pulled the rune of Innocence yesterday and how light that insight felt to me.  Light, as in it's been a long-time since I've felt innocent.  Ahhhh, the sensation.  I took time as I fondled the stone in my hand, first the right and then the left-hand, and recalled other times when I did feel that innoncence.  A time of clothes-pinned tents hung from the clothes-line in my neighbor's yard came.  Aunty Lilly embraced my innocence, and fed it with her view of life.  Under sheets and blankets strung from those clothes-lines, I felt freed up from the heaviness than stewed in my own home just the other side of the hedge.  How long back was that?  Fifty and more years yet there there were.

The journey in VardoForTwo has included clothespins at many, many stops along our nomadic way.  That childhood innocence did bubble up within me when I needed to create safe-sense while we slept many places in our car.  Clothespins and curtains, like the tents created by Aunty Lilly in that old backyard, were the basics for transforming a nomad's car into a home for the night.  Clothespin ( bag full of them) are part of our early day essentials today.  We use them to peg laundry that is wet from a simple wash, and use them to peg bedding or clothes that must be washed and washed and hung with Nature's cycle for months or years to ready them for a safe-wear.  If you were to peek into the vardo you're likely to see the wooden clothespin clicked somewhere ... just because, or just in case.

A year ago, we finished building and investing in a dream of faith:  most of the money we had we used to build a stainless steel interior walled, white oak exterior, milk-painted single axle trailer home that is used mostly for sleeping.  We had many other needs to address a year ago, and yet the priority of safe sleeping place was met.  We are grateful every night and every morning to be inside VardoForTwo.  That dream built with hard work and faith is now the foundation for building the rest of our life on the Planet.  Once a safe wheelie home like ours is built, the challenges of growth from the kernel of goodness show up.  Rebuilding a life at any age includes being with the flow of Nature's stages of death and rebirth.  Without compost, a new seed will grow differently and at the other extreme, will die, to become part of the compost for another seed another opportunity. 

Today, mid-July, 2010 we are learning to live on our different resources of income and community-exchange.  A monthly social security check gives us money enough to pay a regular rent.  The rest of that check needs supplementation and resourcefully creative approaches.  Pete's diverse talents for work work are being tapped.  He is Pete the Tinker and the Care-giver and the whatever else needs to do sort of guy in town.  Together we talk through the ways we can make what we have into what we need.  We drive the vehicles less, and are working on a plan to create that sheltered kitchen and living space for the winter that we know we need.  The exact nature of that shelter is in the hands of Faith, and our footwork sometimes needs to include a bit of standing still while all the facts come to where we are.

That journey back to innoncence has seemed impossibly inaccessible for many moons.  Driving with Crisis will do that to a soul, and it must be part of the process of denying that something has died that keeps innocence at bay.  Whidbey Island and the friends who rent space to us as vardo dwellers offers us space to tap into innocence again.  It takes practice to feel innocence and that's the truth.  With a little imagination, I see how a clothespin might be just the tool to hold me to the moment of new beginnings.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Munching on the day

The library is filled with young voices, the corner just beyond my right eye entertains a gaggle of pre-schoolers dressed in summer garb and the excitement of fresh life.  In a lifetime so long ago, these young sprouts were my world and my first experience with life as a teacher.  Life continues to teach and teach and teach.

Pete is off island for the day, back in Everett creating a new look to the small patch of lawn where once we parked the VardoForTwo.  Today he will lay in some sod to make a comfy place for feet and paws.  The summer sun will make his work the sort he enjoys, those old muscles fill with energy-memory of how to do those tasks.  I have been to the beach for a morning walk at low-tide, but first JOTS and I spent the earlier hours quietly muching on the beauty of a summer morning in the forrest.  The cathedral ceiling forrest kitchen serves us fully.  The old table toted hether and yond is now raised so we are no longer bent to use the hotplate.  Pete's sink works perfectly with a tiny drip from the reclaimed faucet, I am able to fill a bowl, kettle or sink with running water.  This morning, the warmth of the summer sun called me to the wonderful wee deck on the other side of the futon.  New gifts are out on the deck thanks to our island friends:  a set of colorful pottery in the hues of Tuscany invite us to sit.  A large square platter that will fill will pasta some summer evening, a tall vase at least a foot and a half tall waits for something to come, and a narrow trough of a dish long enough for a loaf of crunchy bread are the trio of raffle ticket rewards thanks to the Transition Whidbey potluck we were at earlier this week.  While we wait for the pasta, flowers and crunchy bread to fill the Tuscan crockery, we have gifts of the oracle doing the serving-up.  Our first set of runes (the stones not the cards) came to us yesterday.  Ralph Blum has passed sets of the rune stones on to our friend Eileen, and she in turn passed The Runes of Healing on to us.  If food is medicine for the physical body, the runes are the direction finders for the body, mind and soul.  We have runes facing up from the large square platter, and a bag of runes and the book The Runes of Healing stand-ins for that crunchy bread yet to come.

Soon after Pete came to give me a kiss and tell me he was off for Everett, I pulled myself from the futon and walked to the deck to munch on the day beginning with moments to call on the divine for inspiration.  I sat with the gifts on that deck and in the early hour of this day did pull four runes.  From memory, they were WISDOM, GUILT, DENIAL, SURRENDER.  Today is all.  It is what I own just for the moment.  No doubt there is the old guilt that weighs too heavy, and with the brightness of summer sun the secrets come un-covered.  Will all be well tomorrow, next month, this winter?  Wisdom says 'Surrender.'  What a menu for munching on the day.  Thank you.

How have the runes offered you a menu for the day?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Slow-downs, set-backs

Hina in the early stages of a Crescent topped the hemlock just outside the vardo front door.  Marked as she was there in the sky with the tip of the evergreen as compass line, I watched in between morning chores to become aware of how quickly time passes.  Between morning toast and morning wash, Hina was gone from view hidden somewhere behind the treeline on her progress from East to West. 

Time in the forrest is always a different kind of progress.  Now that the sun has come to warm us up, light makes a difference.  The slow-down of energy because the elongated Spring wished to extend the muted light changed a couple days ago.  The 'Ole Cycle just complete with July 4th just passed was a cycle of review and recognition:  we are not yet ready to take on the enterprise of building another structure.  The idea of an 8x16 kitchen-gathering-shower space is not practical for us now ... maybe, later.  The madrona seedling did indeed present us with the issue of "entitlement" once again.  Fortunately, the gods have made that lesson clearer to us.  Just because we could build doesn't mean it's the right thing to do.  Smaller steps forward ... micro-steps are necessary first.  The process of a reassembled life means the spiritual footwork and the practical/material work already happening needs to be checked and double-checked.  Pete and I both recognize how the story/stories we have told about our journey with Multiple Chemical Sensitivites is changing.  Envirnomental Illness and the choices we make to heal without adding to the injury means with each opportunity we have to feel safe, we must also be conscious of the attitudes/choices/energy we carry about with us to evolve, stay put, or back-up.  The slow-downs and set-backs to our progress is good for us humbling us and providing material for a better foundation especially in our relationships with self and others.

We are slowing putting our experience as nomads into practice where 'I no mad at you, and you no mad at me.'  Friends and family relationships have changed as Pete and I learn to face the dark sides of our destiny, both our individual destiny and the one we share.  Vilifying others leads to resentment and that is a heavy load to carry under any circumstance.  Life from the tiny VardoForTwo can't really afford the cost of resentment.  Worse than the collection of road wear and daily toil that shows up as dust mites and pollens, resentment weighs heavy on the immune system and that can really slow an old dear down at the most inconvenient times.

The hummingbird outside the window made a sharp B-line, right-hand turn in front of me ... my signal to say A hui hou for now.  Hope your burdens are light wherever you are, and if not light, the dark is okay too.  Watch for the moon, she's there.


Friday, July 2, 2010

Malama Aina ... the living practice of Caring

I was out for a lovely walk through the forrest using the driveway and lane that are the main courseways from VardoForTwo.  JOTS was not to be found, so my walk was a solitary one.  The day was warmer than usual so wearing the linen shift instead of long pants and long sleeves was a different sort of ocassion.  The gravel drive way winds rather than traverse in a straight line and on foot each step from the cleared place where cars park takes a walker into the depths of forrest within minutes.  The clearing of trees on my left contrasts to the heavy woods on the right.  In the winter, the low sun will be mostly hidden on the right of the driving way as the tree tops are very high.  We have considered the possibility of moving our living pod of a vardo to the clearing, yet the needs we have (to be within electrical connection) make that move a multiple step process that we cannot afford now.  For the while, the place where we have positioned our vardo life gives us a degreee of access and comfort that we count as blessings and necessity ... so we nest where we are.

The walk was pleasant, and with the brace around my ankle, the exercise did body and soul a good measure of good.  I discovered neighbors who live tucked down the lane, and a development of homes is really not far from our covey of woods.  The development is far enough away to give us the protection from household laundry products and wood smoke though and that is another for the blessings count.  On my way back I hauled the empty garbage can with my left hand and felt good being able to do the simple task that benefits the four of us who live regularly here in the wooden human habitats.  Eileen was working in her gardens when I came home, and called to me.  I joined her at the pond-side and we sat and chatted about the this and thats of our real lives, and shared the dreams and visions of women who have been on the Earth for a while.  The subject of Care woven throughout our chat.  The subject coming to the pond-side from all sorts of angles, and as happens when partnerships are created when space for the Divine is welcomed, there was such shares of disclosure and trust.  I am often surprised upon reflection at the depth and breath of these kinds of sharing ... like the writing I do, sometimes, I don't know where the thoughts come from. 

I offered Eileen the Hawaiian concept, a definition plus, of "Malama" to describe Caring.  Sometimes English is too straight a language for one whose predisposition is to wander to a solution.  Like the gently, yet definitely winding driving and walking path, language such as Hawaiian (lyrical rather than literal) describe with broad views.  "Malama" is the Hawaiian word for Caring, and it begins with recognizing that "I" must start with has always been before I add what I might want/need to bring.  Years ago, when I living and working on the island of Maui, I listened to an elder describing how "Malama Aina" (caring for that which feeds you) applies to contemporary human.  In essence he said, "Live only on the white part of the postage stamp.  Care for the center/do not disturb it for that center will feed you into the future."  I have never forgotten what Sam said, and with each ocassion I have to practice that in my real life, I try to stay on the white part of the stamp.  A light foot-print might describe that same practice.  Malama is more than thinking or philosophizing about right-action.  Malama is acting, adjusting, attending and making course-correction regularly and over the long-term. 

Pete and I have begun the process of stepping through the idea that we need a shelter and warm place in addition to the gem of a haven-home VardoForTwo.  Winter will come and that is a given.  Our experience with winter without a shelter and warm place for the other needs of a semi-nomadic couple like us teaches us to prepare to be 'in the flow.'  I end this session at Computer Station #9 with the challenge we have to create that shelter and warm place without affecting the life of a seedling Madrona that lives where that place could be built.  The link that follows discusses the risks to moving the Madrona ... the beautiful Arbutus the shiny who we love and respect for their service to Earth.  What will be do?  More will be revealed as we attempt to maintain our commitment to live only on the white space of that postage stamp.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A wee deck, local buzz and the gift of oracle

Sometime in the near while, we may be able to share pictures of life in the forrest.  Bye and bye.  Our tiny moveable home has had steps of varying width and climbs since VardoForTwo became home.  While on the Ledge the steps were as broad as the vardo is wide, and a sturdy hand-rail added to the stability of our wee home.  Regardless of the size of it a stoop has always been one of my most favorite places to be.  I am comforted by the feel of steps and like the view of living that passes me or comes to join me.  Here in the forrest, the steps are narrower than those on the Ledge, yet still the life that passes or joins me here is precious stuff.  Just this past week new friends have come to visit ... lingering with me while still in my flannel robe, chatting about this and that or simply coming to see the variation of 'home' we concoct.

This weekend Pete and I dared to expand that variation, and between my imaginings and Pete's artistry with weathered wood and a screw gun, we have a wonderful new deck on the back of VardoForTwo.  Company for the tall full wall where laua'e (sweet Hawaiian ferns) are milk-painted, softed grayed boards and a picket of up-rights create a portable (if necessary) deck where we can set to watch the sunset, enjoy the warming sunshine in the later day, and JOTS is especially enjoying the added height to peruse the forrest happenings.
Pohaku li'ili'i (small stones) gathered from the dirt surrounding us now scatter at the foot of those deck up-rights.  A few collected pohaku from walks elsewhere ground the wee decking at both sides of the wide-V shape.  One of the pohaku is my Sature-stone ... ringed and smooth it is my reminder to keep on friendly terms with the keeper of time, the governor of gravity.  I am grateful to have the reminder.

Not far from us and just up the road is Mukilteo Coffee ... a local roastery and cafe and favorite gathering place for islanders and visitors.  In a life previous, we lived in Mukilteo just across the watery Sound and knew the owners of this roastery during the earliest times of their enterprise.  This morning I smelled the beans toasting ... slow-roasting from the metal roastery through the woods.  Eileen arrived just after Pete and I began our morning prattle with a fresh cup of coffee ... I guessed it might be the local buzz.  Along with coffee, a small bunch of freshly pulled garlic were our morning gifts.  Pete has been working his transition man magic with our friends and neighbors, tending the ducks and chickens, mending gate latches for smooth exiting and entrancing.  It is his kuleana, and he does it as a calling he heed long ago. Another of the recent gifts blessed upon us is a package of Rune cards and The Book of Runes written by Ralph Blum.  We took a drive to Freeland and ventured into a gathering where Ralph Blum was giving a talk about Runes.  Many years ago while I worked for a large corporation in Seattle, I met one of my dearest teachers, Betty.  I came to her to learn hula, and did that to a degree.  But, it was her introduction to the other teachings ... Numerology and the Runes that have laid a foundation of depth and insight at a time when life meant commuting to work and working for the man.  Thirty years later in a woods just across the water from the home where I was mother and wife and career woman, I would be gifted with time with the man who wrote The Book of Runes. 

This morning just before Eileen came with caffeine and garlic, Pete and I pulled a Rune card a piece.  #25 THE UNKNOWN was my rune.  #7CONSTRAINTS pulled upside-down or reserve was Pete's rune.  The Runes are a personal compass reading that gives you guidance on issues with unfretted influence and a large view of environmental influence.  A wee deck, local coffee and the gift of oracles with a bunch of garlic, that is a bouquet of daily grace.  Thank you.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Measure of success

Capricorn was raising on the horizon when a wee girl, not quite ready for the journey was called to begin life here on Earth.  "Pre-mature" by modern science terms the girl was pulled from the dark inkly womb only to learn over time, that all human babies are 'pre' mature and that all of us need months if not years of further nurturing to be as ready as the tiny deer who suckle with weak yet ready stick-like legs.  I was born when the zodiac would call my Sun position, "Scorpio" and my Moon Capricorn so with the Ascendent sign also Capricorn the journey would be purpose-filled, the track lined with hurdles of all sorts and the lessons of persisting emphasized in the arena of shared resources, re-births, deaths and inheritance/legacy.  In the brief view, this is the legacy I live with.  Re-births come often if one looks at the challenges from the point of view that life comes from the dark and contractions prepare for the forward motion and contraction can be painful. 

In many ways our Wee Life living in and from the VardoForTwo has been a series of contractions-- slow down and becoming more and more conscious of the visceral, remembering what labor is without sedation.  A few days ago I had one of those precious conversations with my son.  I told him giving birth to him was the hardest work I have ever done and the most satisfying work I've ever done.  He will be 38 at his next birthday, and at the time we talked telling him that seemed divine direction.  Pete and I are living close to Nature again, and divinity has a more direct line to us here in the forrest.  I have offered our gifts of presence to the fairies (chocolate covered raisins) and they have taken all five treats just as the Solstice welcomed more light! 

It matters that each success be recognized and as life continues to change for us the successes and failures mute. What does the farmer with the magic flute say after he has played music for his hens hoping to coax them into more eggs, yet finds no more eggs than usual?  "Ah, yes.  It was a grand day for making music!"
Yesterday we had many successes. 

Pete finished building the salvage yard sink, and last night we had running water to wash with.

Visitors have begun to show up on our stoop and in our kitchen.  Our neighbors and friends who rent space to us have begun to invite others to visit, and visit with us themselves.  They are fragrance-free and appreciate the life we live from the vardo.  Those two things make visitors the welcome presents we have prayed for.

A potluck gathering happened yesterday as well.  New to us folk brought drink and food to the patio-deck just across the duck yard, and we sat to eat, share stories and listen to other stories.  I learned that animals other than cats and dogs are very much part of the lives of the folk on Whidbey.  "There's always something dying ..."  Now hear out of context perhaps that snip of conversation would seem odd.  It wasn't though and was instead just part of what happens in the woods where predator and prey includes everyone.  Pete helped put a door on the cobbled house for the ducks that are our neighbors.  Two of the ducks have been snatched late at night by a creature a bit further up the food chain.  It pleases both Pete and our land-ladies to see how handy a screw gun and saw can be to make country life easier for the folk.

Folk with Capricorn rising know that life is learned through repeating a lesson over and over again.  Instead of all else, the school of life requires accepting the assignment hurdles and all.  Our successes make life a bit easier, like putting a door on the chicken and duck houses .or building a sink at standing up level with water that runs through a tap.  How many days have I misjudged as failure when in fact, it was probably a grand day for making music.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Making friends with Saturn

The sun is out ... the long months of Junuary ... a length sort of soggy season seems to be changing, at least by degrees.  Seated this morning at Computer Station #9 I am with Ka La ... the sun.  The Solstice came yesterday and with it Pete and I took ourselves on a roadtrip with Saturn.  Old Father Time-Keeper, Saturn has been teaching me many, many lessons of self-evolution the kind of lessons that must be learned in this lifetime.  There was work being done with a pressure washer, the wet forrest had dampened us so nearly spontaneous were our thoughts of taking a small road trip north to scan the recycling and reuse centers on the island.  There is an active spirit of solution-based community economy in the Whidbey Island whirl.  The small towns and expansive rural nature of this very large island seems to be tapping our own nature.  With the 'Ole Cycle lending us energy to review and focus on 'plantings' with sound seeds, we headed for Coopeville to explore what my father and I would have called the "Junk Yards." 

Our dream of building a Half-way House of a space for a warm and dry kitchen-privy-shower and storage place will take lots of creative enterprise.  Like many of our ventures, we try to focus on what we know is need rather than what we want.  This theme is surely an example of making friends with Saturn who is there to teach me groundedness.  Still the adventure North was both a break from the bone-wearing and with the 'Ole Cycle reminding us that it was a venture of exploring we made a brief stop for cookie restoration (oatmeal-raisin for me and a coconut-cranberry-lemon for Pete) and became searching for basic needs.

What do we need first?

A sink

The outdoor kitchen we use has improved by degrees, and though we work out of the direct line of rain, it is down on the ground dishwashing and bathing we do.  The dream of moving slowly yet with wisdom includes knowing a sink would raise the bar on our wee life.  Our search was successful and unexpected.  We found a very fairly priced double stainless steel sink further north, in Mt. Vernon.  Miraculously there was room in our Subaru to haul it back to the forrest. 

Pete has plans for putting the sink into a wooden table he constructs with bits and pieces of material to create a cleanable and tolerable surface.  The sink will fit under the arched tarp kitchen as a next step to making the in-between stages of our Half-way House construction more comfortable.

Viewing what others do

We have a size and shape in mind as we envision and toy with the design of the Half-way House.  Saturn maintains his watch on the work we do and from the limitations that are my accepted reality I know there are materials and resources that shape our search.  As we drove through towns we have known, we looked anew at the creativity with materials we could use:  metal siding.  One very beautiful example of a cobbled domicile made most of metal siding in very fun shapes is inspiring us.

Even when I experience the bone-wearing times, the esteem I have for myself grows when I let those very worn human moments be ... just for what they are.  Human moments.  We are at least half-way to something different.  Saturn has the plan for me, and with aging I learn to accept the many, many, many steps involved.

Grateful I am to have a sunny day to enjoy today.  Be well where you are.


Thursday, June 17, 2010

Half-way Houses

We are still here ... less frequently stringing stories together, we are none the less here in the town of Langley on Whidbey Island.  Bone-weary for the past several days, the tiny comfort of the vardo with its warm space, dry against the soggy wet have been a refuge.  Twenty steps from the wheelie home porch, the outdoor composting toilet is a luxury many would wonder about ... until of course, you have been without such a facility and sought that service in a public space.  Pete has raised the sides of the outdoor kitchen so we are now a family with cathedral ceilings made from aluminum framing and old plastic tarps.  A toteable carbon filtration system filters the hard water that we use from a hose that traverses the duck yard to our camp spot.  An ingenious ridging has food grade plastic tubing available for washing our clothes, dishes and hands.

I know this life we live seems nighmarish to some who come to read about it.  Among the challenges that have been our reality we have moved seven times in two years and financially, a social security check is the one regular form of incoming resource we have.  Yet, with the parcel of minutes left to craft a short post, there is room for patient and hopeful dreams even now.  Pencilled onto composition pads are the dreams of a half-way house, a stabilizing version of our cathedral ceiling kitchen and privy.  We are parked and renting the vardo space from two kind-hearted women who we did not know three weeks ago.  With each experience with them, we are encouraged to believe we can dream of a home that is our half-way house:  shelter that is as safe as we know how to build and maintain it living with people who are willing to learn what it takes to create life upon a foundation of chem-free and fragrance-free as possible.  Details are future issues, dreams come from a recipe of acceptance and illusion (the scent of something yet to be).

When we prepare for sleep at night we tell each other stories of things we have done, things we have loved doing, places and people who have filled our lives with joy.  It softens our drift into the world of dreamtime, and gets us at least half-way to the place of Grace where all possibility is fueled with surrender, first.


Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Two old dears and a feline ... we're one week back in the woods

A week ago yesterday we made our shortest trek from one encampment to another ... eight miles I think.  Whidbey Island is a long boot of an island and the southern end of this Salish Sea-found place is where we are today.  A wet spring has extended herself to this area, leaving our two clotheslines of garmets mostly wet for the past seven days.  People who live with chemical sensitivites know that cleaning most garments, bedding etc. can take as long as years and at least several months of nature doing her work (rain/snow/sun/wind/fresh air) before those garments or bedding are useable.  Tall trees once again provide us their stout bodies for clothesline poles and the clean air and rain rinse and soften thrift shop outerwar which we might wear this summer, or next.

There is healing and progress by degrees as we look back on our year of life from VardoForTwo.  Life from a cozy and tiny sleeping loft of a home has presented us with challenges and value.  The challenges show up when we are without a place to cook and store our kitchen-chattels; and toileting/showering is another phase of the challenge; and finally the issue of how and where to wash and dry clothing round out the basic challenges.  There are other luxury wishes, too yet the three challenges remain the basic needs of a human life so those are the ones we address ourselves to as we adjust once again to a new environment.

Camp Kitchens

Thus far, the reused green house frame gives us shelter and electrical connection to keep our hot plate hot and the tiny refrigerator we inherited from our Everett 'ohana is chilling most of our food.  The water of Whidbey is hard, heavy with iron and magnesium.  We use our glass jugs and use the grocery outlet RO (reverse osmosis) water machines for drinking water.  A garden hose feeds water for dishes, and today I took my first rain bath which was wonderful.  The magnificent trees and the woodscreatures are not offended by a little round two-footer washing herself with rain water and a cotton napkin.  We use no soaps so the forrest floor remains intact save for my washings.

We are working on the next steps for kitchen improvements, with a wise memory of what the winter is like when there is no covered and sheltered kitchen.  Many ideas in the work. At this point in the journey we are both still in agreement that keeping the kitchen and toileting space separate from our cozy VardoForTwo is a good idea.  Maintaining a safe sleeping haven remains priority.

Composting Toilet

Liz our dear friend from Anacortes has recycled her Nature's Head composting toilet to us, and we are very thankful!  In time, we will exchange some work for this valuable asset.  The toilet is parked on a small platform Pete built of recycled boards, and is tucked behind a new stand of young alders twenty odd steps from the vardo porch.  We have some work to do, and lessons to learn in making this toilet 'compost' ... our challenges come from using (too much) toilet paper/paper that doesn't break down easily, and the soggy cool weather makes it hard for air to move through the peat moss and poop. 

The toilet separates the pee from poop, so one must become conscious of those bodily functions and push down on the lever for the pooping part, and pull up to direct the pee in its own holding tank.  At first, it was such a treat to be seated under the tall stands of trees ... losing attending, until I was brought back to the moment. 

In all, this part of our evolving VardoForTwo life is such a leap of progress.  The details and adjustments are coming.


Our first laundry day is yet to come.

JOTS and the Woods

With the minutes left here at Langley computer #9 ... I'll leave this first week's narrative with the wonderful times we are having with JOTS back in her woods element.  She is happy to be with the woods again ... huntress and wild being.  We have many more walks through the new trails and spend long minutes cuddling her onto shoulder or lap.

Blessings and aloha your way,
Mokihana and Pete

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Living in the Woods again

We have been busy inching our way back into the Woods, again.  The 'Ole Cycle of four days and nights have just past and just in the nick of moon time, we did find a path to the woods where the Wee Wheelie Home of Vardo for Two plus One is now encamped.

Whidbey Island.  That is where are are living with the forrest floor, damp and mossy with White Pine and many many Cedar and Fir to remind us of our relative importance to the whole of All.  Two very kind women share their piece of land with us three vardo folk.  We pay them a rent that is affordable, and from the woods we have access to the things we need.  The women live with many animals including two dogs, an unknown number of inside cats, a string of quaky ducks and young chickens who will soon be laying eggs.  JOTS is appreciated for her skill as huntress, and we make our prayers to the beasties, and have conversations with her that include, "Kill only to eat!"

We are recouping from the painstaking work of going from one place to another; Pete masterfully moves our chattels and I set about making 'home' where we are while attending to the messages my body sends when there is no more energy to pour out.  I have rested during most of the 'Ole Moon times; and was so glad to see Hina the Moon in the midday of this Saturday.  Living in tune with Nature Time is different than some.

There is a community of like-minded folk who are open and positive about the style of living we practice.  Connecting with them has been delightful.  I have a cutting of fresh comfrey being bundled for me this afternoon for I am in deed our comfrey's bone-mending remedy ... my ankle has been hurt and only now can I spend time and mending on the small yet essential joint that holds this old body upright.

We are setting up our second summer outdoor kitchen using the metal framework from an old green house.  QUESTION TO ANY ECO-WOODS FOLK:  I am thinking of using organic canvas for covering, and need to 'waterproof' it.  Has anyone used a recipe of warmed beeswax and oils to coat canvas?  Any other ideas or non-toxic recipes for water-proofing are most welcome.

I'd love to hear from you. 

Aloha to you where you be.
Mokihana and Pete