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.