Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Vardo: metaphor and mythic practice

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

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

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

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

Preparing for Winter Solstice and the promise of more light

Monday, December 2, 2013

New Moon Shadows

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

Look here for the door early on.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Let's see how well we are

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Can you live from a cracked bowl?

"The six saimin bowls were stacked as they always are in an upright pillar one bowl nestled into the other. With time the nicks had grown but she never replaced them. Her company, and her family never minded. As a living philosophy the witch kept to her mother's original spell, "People don't come to visit my things; they come to visit me." I think it a spell because in her lifetime those sorts of people were the only ones to visit her. Pale's thick tea mug was emptied of the strong sweet chai, morning was bright with winter sun and only the hum of her computer broke the quiet. She had been up for hours stitching the small pouches that would hold a bit of magic and a few words. There was a birthday party later today but something needed to be stirred together for dinner.
Soup? Rising to consider what she could fill the bowls with Pale ran her small hands along the side of the pillar remembering most of the occasions which left the nicks or chips. Lifting the top bowl a thin but growing crack etched from the lip to about midway. "Can you live from a cracked bowl?" She thought aloud. The image of Max, her godfather rose from the bowl like the genie of Aladdin. He said, "I know a story that might answer that. Care to hear it?" The Border Witch smiled at the question then laughed at how stories come to a storyteller. "Let me fill this tea cup, Uncle. I would love to hear that story."
A funny thing happens when you step through a door you once shut with determination, intending to leave it shut for all time. Perhaps it's funny if you are blessed with the genes of drama which the Gods and Goddesses chuckle at and say things my mother once told me, "Wait until you have children of your own. You know what I mean." The thing about the way the Ancestors work is they don't tell me off so much as put me into the in between places where I experience all options at the same time. Ever live from a crack in a bowl? Reopening Vardo For Two is much like that. The quote that begins this post comes from a bit of writing done in my on-line, on-going writers' group. We call the group Prime the Pump. I created 'the pump' one February when I wanted somewhere to go with the fullness (and the limitations) of living from Vardo For Two. I could go no where. One definition of that condition might be 'isolation' but I had so much energy that needed out! What can a gal do? One option: create magic, common magic.

The bit above is a continuation of the medicine and mythic journey of Pale Wawae border witch. In many ways she is my mythic self both more vulnerable and more courageous than I am to the whirl that sees me. But the grand reality of it is, we -- she and I, make for a better whirl because the story is put down. I cannot be sure where my stories lead, just as Pete and I could not be sure what would happen once we imagined a curved roof and moveable home on wheels. Seated as I am now at the keyboard in a Quonset Hut that was no where in my imagination when we were building Vardo For Two, I can tell you with some certainty: the magic lies in the crack. 

And, if you need an astrological slant on things. Go here.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Re-opening Vardo For Two

Comings and goings

Many things have happened since I began blogging in 2008: blogs and bloggers have come and gone, I have a lot more gray hair today, and my love affair with blogging has grown to epic proportions. I've learned a lot about blogging and opened and shut dozens of them (really!) Vardo For Two was the first blog I started. It started as a way to chronicle the process of building a two wheeled moveable Gypsy-style home that was 'safe enough for us.' We needed to invest in the belief that we could rebuild our lives after I became increasingly ill from multiple chemical sensitivities and could no longer live, or be, in most enclosed spaces (houses were a no-go!) We, my husband Pete and I were part of the early stages of the Tiny Home enthusiasm thanks in part to Jay Shafer of Tumbleweed Tiny Homes fame. We drove to California in the fall of 2007, met and participated in one of Shafer's first workshops and as they say in the Twelve Step Rooms "took what we liked and left the rest." Vardo For Two did become the record-keeping journal of the process and the experiences of two old dears investing in a new beginning.

I closed this blog in 2011 when I felt the details of our lives and the direction of my healing was leading to new ground. I was healing. I was getting better, and at the time I believed it best to close the blog; leave diasposa and struggle behind. If I didn't call myself "ill" and retell the story of being so my brain would be retrained and recovering my health would come. I believed that. I don't believe it all the time today, and so I'm retracing old ground. The details and review of VardoForTwo, so much effort pictured in these blog pages, led me to believe  others could be helped. We offered lots of help, but found that few people would pay for our help even when we asked. Resentment built in. There's really not enough time to live with resentment.

Route 66

I turned 66 a couple weeks ago, and have begun what I'm calling My personal Route 66. The signposts and destinations for this journey aren't on a map, and it seems I need to reopen certain doors in order to move more surely forward. The quirky thing about this door opening thing is in the description to Vardo For Two "Stories Five Years Later ... life on the borders where myth-making and magic are the remedy" What does that mean? It means that sometimes the life you rebuild is one that becomes infused with the magic of myth that space and place that is no longer logical and uni-brain rational. The life rebuilt for me is one that does not re-enter the world at all the same way before I was homeless. It is a life that grows from the medicine of stories that are mythic and metaphors, whimsical and deeply connected with ancient Earth-based practices. Vardo For Two both the blog and the two wheeled moveable Gypsy-style safe place is a border crossing world from which I notice Nature at her unadulterated and live from that place.

Five years later ... myth and magic the remedies

"Stories Five Years Later ..." reopens the blog Vardo For Two so the process of rebuilding two lives might serve as a place for others to do a similar thing. It's very possible many many people will be doing that in this century. The stories that came before 2013 are true for us. The process and materials we used then are still working for us five years later. What has changed are the links to sites and resources on this blog, I'll be cleaning them up as best I can in the days to come.

The stories that I write and link to from this point forward are equally true. They are the mythic memoirs of an old woman who has found her ancestry of birds and storyteller. Both genealogies allow me to live on the borders where truth and lies become myth. Anyone who has rebuilt her life will tell you the process is out of this world. With the reopening of Vardo For Two I feel it's important to share the medicine stories living forward with magic. Maybe the journey and purpose all along was: forget what no longer works and find the magic that does.

Rima Staines, a sister traveller, storyteller and artist says if you don't look for magic you will never find it. I believe her.