Monday, November 24, 2014

Vardo first ... then the community Part 2

When market season ended, and harvest season began Pete and I began to dream again
... of community and a place to gather

Dreamers have a pre-disposition to see magic in the most unexpected places, or see the multiple universes potent in the everyday. Here we are day dreaming of a winter home for The Safety Pin Café. A space and place where Sensitives can gather to tell stories, sip hot teas and laugh at the unpredictably weird words that come from between the borders and out the cracks.
Our South Whidbey Tilth community has given us the nod, and is receptive to our vision to enclose the existing Pavilion (the space pictured above) as a fragrance-free and chemical-free space for us to continue to share the medicine of story! Using the years of experience we have gleaned from a life that we thought at first might do us in, we will grow the fairy tale and share what we have learned because we built a Vardo for Two. To read the process of collaborating to involve our local Tilth ...

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Vardo first ... then the community

I juggle writing content between the three blogs The Safety Pin Café, Makua o'o and Vardo for Two like I walk between the three separate tiny houses that make up home; wake up in Vardo for Two, walk to the Quonset and have a cup of hot tea, walk to the Hale for a hot shower or wash the dishes. Not unlike walking from one end of a house, or through a hallway except that our hallway is the forest floor and our ceiling the canopies of pine and fir up a hundred feet tucked beneath Earth's sky, the stars, Hina and the Sun. Today, the Sun is just beginning his brighten through the trees. The Quonset's heater is working overtime to keep the kitchen-writing room-kitty space warm. What it will really need is for me to start cooking something to get the heat going. But. For now I munch at an apple crisp and cold from being stored in a box outside. It's probably in the high twenties now. Cold for a Hawaiian. The rest of this post will lead you to a piece of writing that expands upon this juggling experiment we began when we first dreamed up Vardo for Two. It is truly an experiment in living and deeply digging into the potential that so often appears as a knot or cluster of knots with no solution but to abandon the mess -- leave it for someone else to sort out, or cut the tangle and if you're lucky there's still enough left over to start again.

Kalei Nu'uhiwa one of my favorite Hawaiian scientists and teachers is fond of saying (well she's fond of saying quite a few things but for now ... ) "I don't know about you all but I love chaos." In this video, and presentation at the 2012 'Aha Wahine (Womens' Gathering) Kalei expounds on the process of creating sacred space. Specifically she describes the rituals and foundations for women's role in creating sacred space. We Hawaiian have a huge capacity for embracing multiplicity: we see the connectivity of seemingly dis-similar events. What Hawaiians, a people bred on making sense of life with what is (through keen observation and documentation) practice is a highly evolved sense of community. Nothing and no one is an orphan, what happens here will and does affect something there. Our creation story, the Kumulipo begins in darkness with the coral naming the seeds and the birthing from the seed polyps. From the sea, to the land. From darkness into light. From Po to Ao. Over time. Every thing is named. Every birth is recorded. From chaos comes order. From the knot of potential everything is possible.

From The Safety Pin Café ...
"Five years ago (2010) my husband Pete Little and I found the South Whidbey Island community. Our former life was being rebuilt; we had to dig deeper for people, place and values to thrive in spite of a medical diagnosis with one basic 'cure': "avoid almost everything!" That's a bit of a stretch but not much of one. The short story is I was diagnosed with MCS Multiple Chemical Sensitivities, or Environmental Illness in 2007, pesticides, chemicals and common products of the everyday 21st century are the primary sources of harsh and often debilitating reactions. My immune system was unable to cope, or restore health. A house or public spaces? For years those were "no-can-dos". In 2008 we learned what materials were less toxic and lessened the body's burden brought on by exposures; we experimented and tested how to build a tiny movable space to live in and regain wellness. Then began the journey to become part of a community.

Above: Pieces of cloth from an earlier time are being reworked,
and become something beautiful in a new life freshly in the making.
Below: The sign says it all. We learn to live with Peace in our loyal 'Scout' the Subarus and discover how much is enough while remembering who and what is really important
We lived from this faithful Subaru and from it, we learned how little was necessary, and how much could be had with what was at hand. The photo below is an early stage Vardo for Two porch when we were parked on a ledge in the woods
 in early summer, 2009.

In the summer of 2010 we found a place in the woods of Langley to park our Vardo for Two. Life began to re-fresh knowing we had a home. That same summer we found the South Whidbey Tilth and Farmers' Market. At first, it was the companionship and laid-back atmosphere that made us feel at home. Then, we discovered Tilth's history as a place unsprayed with pesticides for three decades. Our shoulders relaxed, my immune system calmed for the first time in three years, we began to root, volunteer, share what we have learned about fragrance-free and chemical free practices and become part of the community. Link here to read the full post, and see how the untangling of potential and the belief that everything is connected just keeps happening. Like the man said, "If you build it they will come."

Friday, October 24, 2014

Feed the wolf, feed the dream


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

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

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

Friday, August 29, 2014

"What is a very long time?"

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


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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, January 12, 2014


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

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