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.