Sunday, July 24, 2016

Re-focusing...

Giving myself some room, taking my time, just being.  Just being.  Just BEING.

A constellation of tiny green stars on the path to the shed got my attention...I've always loved the small things...

...and I remembered to look up, and marvel at the miniature flowers on the climbing vinca.  Until the last few years I didn't know vinca climbed OR flowered like this...perhaps a different variety?  I've seen small blue flowers on the stuff that grows in the back yard.  Little mysteries!
A patent-leather umbrella hiding under the brushpile...I almost missed it.
Loving the slower pace and closer attention...

Friday, July 22, 2016

Creativity, Simplifying, and "Jobligations"--Insights, Day 20 and 21

I have realized I am capable of turning every project into a job, an obligation, imaginary or otherwise...hence my new brand-new, freshly-coined word, "jobligation."  And in fact tend to do so.  It's a habit with me.

Just what this 31 days was NOT supposed to be.  I haven't simplified, I haven't stayed in the moment, I've only occasionally felt really part of the nature I was in.  Instead I have added one more project...and feeling pressured, as I have when I've taken on jobligations in the past.

I said I might not post every day, I said I might just share a sketch or a short poem, or a thought.  Or nothing at all...

...and then I made it a job--a discipline--to post a journal entry every day, taking photos or making notes, not so much BEING there as thinking what I'd put in my blog that day.  Creativity suffered as did mindfulness, and my goal got lost in the shuffle.  I recognized my tendency, again.

I've enjoyed it, I'm still enjoying it, but I am refocusing before it's too late on what this time needs to be, for me.

So now, two days' worth, and we'll see what else might be shared.  I'll still BE there, but making it into work...didn't work!


The bridge, with pigment from stones found just downstream...
A Japanese suzuri or ink stone works well for grinding small amounts...

Hematite and gum Arabic


My little rechargeable fan turned out to be a lifesaver, on the 20th...that day came closest to being what I had aimed for in the first place.

Recapturing a treasured memory of fresh peaches and long walks...20 years ago and more.

This journal page was a struggle...everything fought me.  My pen, the paper, which buckled on that humid morning, my watercolors...washes took forever to dry.  My colors were muddy...so NOT relaxing and fun...
In the heat and humidity, my materials fought me and detracted from the experience of BEING there, yesterday, contstanting distracting me...frustrating me...


Shoes off, glasses off, NOT trying to work...


Beautiful blue chicory...


Joe Pye Weed along the lane
And so, two days have gone by.  The weather was a big part of it...since heat exhaustion some years back I just don't handle heat well.  I hit the wall after yesterday's hotter, stiller, thicker morning, and spent the rest of the day reading, resting, drinking cherry water, and recuperating.  Listening to my body.  Listening to my heart, and my soul, and re-focusing.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Hot-morning wandering, Day 19


This is from last summer's explorations, a backyard Materia Medica...
I wander around doing a bit of wild garden maintenance while it is still cool enough to breathe, freeing the holly from the grasping vines of Traveler's Joy and cutting back volunteer Ailanthus sprouts where there is no room for a tree to thrive.  I am itchy and smell of Tree of Heaven, but it feels good to visit corners of our smallholding and offer love and gratitude.

My reward was the incredible cobalt blue dayflower, Commelina communis, with its two prominent petals and and one much less so.  It was named for 3 brothers, Dutchmen named Commelin.  Two became well-known botanists and the third died before he could contribute anything to the field.


The photo doesn't begin to do it justice...
I had forgotten what a useful medicinal it is...but given how little there is here, not so very common despite its "communis," I just enjoy its amazing color and smile a bit at its history.

When harvesting wild plants for our use, it is always best to take only a few and leave plenty for the Little Cousins, as well as for their own propagation--and that only if there is an abundance. I often satisfy myself nibbling a leaf here or there...

It seems to me that these wildings are much more rare than they were when I was younger...or I'm less willing or able to go too far afield to find them!  Sometimes I find a huge stand of jewelweed, useful for itching or rashes or the sting of nettles.  Occasionally in the early spring there will be a great plenty of wild greens.  But the huge brambles of wild berries, or stands of pawpaws or persimmons are more rare than they once were.  I am happy with a taste...



I love finding Indian Strawberries hiding in the grass and gill-over-the-ground, also called "mock strawberries"--Duchesnea indica (sometimes called Potentilla indica)--though not poisonous, they are dry and tasteless, unlike their distant relatives.  Those, I just enjoy looking at or sketching!





Our small front yard garden provides enough, without trying for wild edibles that are either tasteless or scarce...

Later in the day, stuck at a trailer place getting my Jeep wired (45 mintues turned into a bit more than 2 hours, with music that made me cringe), I passed the time sketching my husband...about ALL I got done that hot afternoon...


Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Day 18, exploring ancient tools again...from the comfort of my AC!

On the way to the shed, I taste of a young dandelion leaf sprouting from the bare earth where my neighbor's water line was recently replaced.  I enjoy its tender, flavorful bite, and called it good...my summer-morning wilding!

Tender young dandelion plant

A day of heat and thick blue humid air, when my "re-wilding" in the middle of the day must be done indoors, exploring pigments and ancient methods of making art--and watching the wildlife beyond my windows.  In lieu of a mountain stream or a cool lake to jump into, this will have to do.




The books I spoke of the other day are these--so different but all useful and inspiring.  I've done many of the things these authors suggest, from making my own pigments as I mentioned the other day to cutting pens from quills, twigs, bamboo and reed...

(I've owned the Dover book in the center for years...it's one of my favorites.  The other two are recent...if you click on the image it will enlarge enough to see titles and authors.)


I often test one stone against another to see if they'll grind with interesting colors...here's hematite, ochre, and some interesting greenish-gray pebble.  The grinder at top is a found stone, the other is an inexpensive Japanese suzuri or ink-grinding stone.
Here are a few of the pens I've made...

The pen on top has a tiny reservoir added, to make it hold more ink.
This is how Denis Diderot illustrated cutting a quill pen in the early 18th century...I use a similar method.
 
I have arranged with the friend who made the rawhide for the healing drum to save me some deer hair to make my own paintbrushes.

There is something so satisfying about making and using your own tools, whether art tools, practical pottery, sandals, moccasins, knives...



I used this little flint herb-cutting knife in the garden today, trimming back some things and harvesting on my way to the shed.  The handle is bone I found in the woods...


And for the maximum inspiration beautifully presented, there is this video chronicling primitive potter Kelly Magleby, exploring pottery Anasazi-style.  I am in awe...my own experiments with primitive-style pottery seem almost urban by comparison!

Hand built raku pot

Day 17...not as wild as I once was!



I seem to have mis-dated my page, though!

Heat really gets to me, after a run-in with heat exhaustion about ten years ago, so I have to time my outdoor activities in the summer with that firmly in mind.  This night, the heat and humidity were marginal--I almost didn't go with Joseph to Rocky Hollow, but I was delighted I DID.


The early-evening light made long shadows where I could hide...
I often wear a damp kerchief around my neck when it's hot out...a trick my ancestors knew well.  Occasionally I spray myself with water from my little watercolor kit, too...but when there's no breeze at all, that's not a huge help.

We are designed so our sweat will cool us as it evaporates, but on humid days that just doesn't happen...I feel as though I'm coated with rancid yak butter.  I find my inner journeying somewhat derailed by not being able to breathe properly...

The wee fan fits right in the drink holder, and can be aimed almost anywhere I need it.



Teeny-tiny technology to the rescue!  I am never above combining modern solutions with my re-wilding if it lets me enjoy the inner journey a bit longer, and in more safety--heat exhaustion is no joke.

The fan is rechargeable and works a treat--a little lifesaver...




Knowing our limitations is part of the journey...

I've been reading Elizabeth Gilbert's The Last American Man, about Eustace Conway, an amazing, brilliant, and committed man who lived close to the land and hoped to turn America around to his vision by sheer will and energy--and commitment.  It's a fascinating book, and I've done some of the things Conway espouses...but yes, at my age I need my AC, and my fans, and a comfortable bed!

Sketching with a bent-nib pen...

Writing as much as I have lately, I've discovered rather a lot of draft posts that apparently never got published.  So...a break from rewilding, a post that's been in hiding for quite a while!

As noted in my pen conversion posts sometime past--this is FUN, with a huge range of line widths possible!

Sketching our friends in the Copper Creek Band, with a bit of gray wash added...

Molly Hammer and Joe Cartwright at Chaz on the Plaza...

See all the line widths that are possible with just one pen?

I added a wee bit of color today...this is my new softcover Stillman & Birn Beta sketchbook, LOVE it.

Quick sketches of details...


I've got several Hero and Sailor calligraphy pens, almost like drawing with a brush!

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Day 16, re-wilding...life, and death, and the eternal cycles

"Missing people in our lives are like wounds we reopen with our thoughts." - Hunted, The Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne ...and so it may be.

That is often true for me, in a life of change and loss--and finding again. But it's a normal and necessary part of life, and we get through it.


There is beauty in all the cycles of life and death; in nature, in the forest, this is especially so.  We have a plethora of these lacy leaves here, and I can't resist picking them up to study and use as prints and stencils and collage.


But still I do love that Nature will repopulate, heal, restore itself--if allowed to.  I am most blest when I can help in some small way in that process; it is a cycle that nourishes and heals me as well.

The Smallwood reclaims the ancestral forest that once covered this land--and I protect and aid it when I can, picking up litter, discouraging invasive plants, rejoicing in the burgeoning life, exploring the forest floor.

The air smells of the fertile green Earth--as well as the cycle of decay that makes possible a NEW cycle of life.  Leaves fall to earth, decompose, and become rich, life-sustaining humus.  When trees die, colonies of lichen and moss and fungus grow on their recumbent forms, breaking down the cellulose in trunk and limb.  The slow combustion of decay returns them to earth as well.


Just a few short days ago these little mushrooms looked like this...

They are among the quickest to return to the earth, with the aid of insect larva, moisture, and time...

Even the bones of deer and fish and small animals provide sustenance...I see the toothmarks of rodents searching for the minerals in the bleaching bones.  Eventually those minerals return to the soil to nourish new life.

Some indigenous cultures believe that vultures carry the souls of the dead back to Creator; huge black shadows swim through the sunlit leaf canopy as they circle above the trees, and I smile to greet my own departed loved ones.  Parents, sister, cousins, friends...I wish you peace and joy.

Weather changes, and so do I...Drumming, ancient crafts, Day 15



I was taken by the notion of making my own when I got to play and hear The World Drum, which has traveled all over the world, from hand to hand.  It has been played in ceremonies and quiet celebrations and riotous dancing, and seems a miracle of worldwide cooperation in these turbulent times.  It brings peace to the heart.

For more of its amazing story, read this from Morten Wilf Storeide.



My first still goes everywhere with me...
 

My drums absorb the moisture in the air, changing tone day by day, hour by hour--I sympathize!  The weather affecs me greatly as well.  Their voices become lower and lower these humid days--and less resonant--and finally, soft and flat.  I warm and dry them as ancient peoples have done for eons, and once again their voices rise and ring and resonate, each with its own mysterious song.


The rawhide still carries within it the life of the deer and elk that once walked the land; the wood of the rims was born of stately trees that grew tall and took nourishment from the earth...as do we all.

I have loved making my own drums...and will make at least one more.  The most recent I call my heading drum; the rim of ash wood reminds me of my ancestors and of Yggdrasil, the World Tree of old Norse tales.  The hide was a gift from a friend, who prepared it himself.  And each step of the process was meaningful, respectful, and sacred.  The big elk drum is the family drum...Joseph plays it too and loves the deep rich sound.

Each one is different, and sounds different.  Each has its own demands, and resonates in its own way. 




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