Friday, January 29, 2010


When I joined an Art Box Exchange, held on Blogland Lane,and organized by Debra Kay, I had no idea what lay in store for me.

Me and art? It's been too many years since I've let that part of my brain have free rein. I once loved to paint...watercolours mostly, but some oils and acrylics, as well. And I've always loved to sketch, which now translates into doodling.

During my high school years, I took every Art class available. There were Art History, Silk screening, Oil painting, Watercolour, Acrylics...all great classes...but little or none regarding Collages.

During my young adulthood, I took college classes in painting. Again, oils and acrylics and watercolours were where my intuition led me. I was good with them. I loved painting with a passion, taking courses over and over.

And then, a long hiatus. Life crept in...there was no time, crises and joys occurred, and doubt prowled in with a cogent force. With that doubt the Muse left me. You don't use it, you lose it.

I didn't take any notice of the burgeoning popularity of crafting collages until my granddaughter began scrapbooking.

Snob that I am, I considered scrapbooking a hobby...a cut and paste kind of thing. Something we once did in grade school.

Huh. The Universe slammed me, as it will do, immediately, upon any kind of ignorant, negative judgment I make.

Suki's Art Box arrived. I had previously decided to make a collage. I thought that might be the easiest thing for me to do, since my fingers have stiffened and they tremble from time to time. Ahh, the ageing process.

I was astonished to discover how excited I was, when I received it. I didn't open it until I was assured of a long stretch of time to discover what treasures I had received.

Oh! There were so many items which spoke of spirituality. I immediately decided to take the beautifully prepared Birch bark,the Feathers, the speckled Bird's egg,the Amber and Stones and create a collage with a Shamanistic theme.

That one I will leave last; it is one that speaks to me, loudly and quickly and easily.

There were also old photos, handmade papers, buttons, stamps and ribbons and Seashells.This collage would be more difficult.

I thought and thought and thought about it. I could have sworn Suki was in the room with me...she sent a little booklet with the word Rethink on the cover...

I looked at the photos.  They were old, most from the 1940's. I looked at one of a young girl. Her name swam into my mind...Bea. Another young woman...Alice. One of a baby...of course! Jon.

The Muse and my intuition did not let me down. I only followed along with the story I was 'hearing'...a story about Bea and her family, her likes and dislikes, her passions. And another gathering of objects and their use in a storyline quickly became apparent.

The most difficult part lays before me. How to place these different items so that the grouping is pleasing to the eye? I have moved photos and papers and ribbons and buttons around on the background paper until nothing makes sense.

In my enthusiasm, I have forgotten to be still and listen to the little voice deep inside...the voice that so easily can be lost in a chaotic atmosphere.

Instead, I fight my sense of order...the idea that every thing must be in its place...that kind of order. I fight my perfectionism. I fight against my inexperience. I fuss and fume. I fight.

Until I'm done. Until I'm ready to listen.

And then? Well, then I'll be ready to go on, willing to let my inexperience show, allowing that certain vulnerability in.

Collages, I'm discovering, is all about taking bits and pieces and making a whole.

Not so different from writing, if you think about it.

Just a lot harder.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Benefaction and Grace

The Universe has seen fit to bless us with warm, almost tropical weather (for the Cariboo!) for the past couple of weeks. Even during the worst onslaught of the Bug's war on my body, I could not help being aware of it.

It is strange. I'm not sure what to make of it. Snow, which was piled up against fences, which had been ploughed and left in huge piles, has completely melted. Mud is the name of the game at the moment, with long swaths of Ice still lying about...making walking slippery and treacherous.

The warm Southerly Winds blow, sometimes with a ferocity which calls to me.  Come out, Wind moans, come out and feel my balmy greeting.  I speak to you of Spring...can you not sense it?

But it is the middle of January, I answer. I cannot fully trust your temperate and hospitable message. But I will enjoy it, for a time, and with great gratitude.

Gingerly, I walk about in the garden, avoiding the melting sheets of persistent Ice. I see the tips of Bulbs, bright, perky green...they seem full of wonder at seeing daylight so early in the Season. I check the Shrubbery. I see, with delight and foreboding, buds beginning to swell.

My greatest desire is to go out and rake the detritus from the lawn and gardens. I want to start seeds, I want to order mulch, I want to begin the gardening season. This is the message contained in the very gentle breezes from South Wind which caress my cheeks.

I am wary, however. Last year, it was May before Snow completely melted. It is still relatively early Winter...and I feel sure North Wind will have a rebuttal to South Wind's promise. Also, the Soil is still frozen, albeit barely.

And so, instead of finding shovels, rakes, hoes and wheel barrows, I fight the urge to plunge into the garden. On the Island, I would be outside in full force, knowing any Storm would be brief and rarely dangerous to plant life, even at this time of year.

Instead of launching myself into the plant world, where I can be completely immersed into a different space and time, I wander and think about the problems associated with the World today.

I send Reiki...a small, sincere the victims of Haiti.  I send gratitude to Spirit for delivering the seventeen High School students and their ten chaperons from the Kootenays  home from Haiti, safe and sound, into the arms of their parents. I cannot begin to imagine how I would feel had I sent my child off to help build a well and a Goat farm in an impoverished country, only to watch and wait helplessly as that same country was devastated by an earthquake, barely twelve hours after their arrival.

I send gratitude on the arms of the South Wind that the World's heart has opened...has unlocked...and that Nations have come together to send aid and financial help to a country in dire need of it. 

Closer to home, I ask Spirit to help family members who lost a parent, a grandfather and a great-grandfather just last week. I know, having experienced the death of my own parents, just how devastating and strange it is when parents follow the natural order in life and die...leaving one on the front lines, so to speak. I ask for understanding and acceptance and forgiveness to be sent to my family; I ask for a lessening of the stranglehold Death holds on one's heart, splitting it wide open, leaving it ever so vulnerable.

I ask for help for Graham, who is still very ill. The Bug has attacked his bronchial tubes, swelling them and making it very difficult to breathe. I send my extreme thankfulness that the nurses and doctors at the hospital here were able to move and shift the blockages in his throat, were able to lessen the violent coughing fits which hurt so badly, and were able to help him breathe.

My prayers are taken on the arms of the soft South Wind. It is as if I can actually see the words and feelings spiral up...up...up far into the Sky...into Spirit's receptive ear.

I see an Eagle fly high above...a messenger from the Gods. I know my prayers and emotions have been received.

The weather forecast promises a few more days of this oddly warm and friendly weather. And yet, I see at the end of the forecast period that the temperatures will cool again, after this weekend.

We'll be back in cold temperatures soon; this warm interlude a distant memory.

In the meantime, I will enjoy Spirit's benefaction. The weather Gods have smiled warmly at an area of the country where Cold and Ice generally reign.

And I find it such a blessing!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Indisposed and Out of Sorts

I made a list in December of things I wanted to get done during the cold and dark days of January. That list has been put aside for now.

I have the flu. Now, I received both the seasonal flu shot and the H1N1 flu shot. It seems there is a Beast of a Bug who has not been included in the mixture for the shots. And that Beast has found me...and Graham, and a score of others whom I have spoken with recently.

The Bug attacks in a soft, silent way. To begin, one's only want is sleep. Sleep overtakes in any situation; I was stirring a pot of soup and felt myself drifting off at least a couple of times. I slept as I ate, waking with food in my mouth. The only way I could stay awake was to keep moving. It was decidedly odd.

And then, after one has slept for what feels like a few centuries...the Bug strikes. Suddenly, sleep is a thing of the past. Very quickly, one's breathing is completely compromised. My nose, stuffy and red, is sore from repeated blowing and dabbing, my eyes, swollen and very pink, weep constantly, and I sneeze and sneeze and sneeze...

But the Bug will not stop there.  It is not enough that one's head feels enveloped in mucous; the Bug desires the chest cavities as well as the sinus. I cough and sneeze now, in quick succession, and attempt to block the Bug laden spray I know must be falling all over me and everything nearby.

The Bug will not, in the heat of his battle with one's mucous membranes, allow one to do anything other than move from bed to couch. And there one lies, staring into space, mouth open and breathing with difficulty. Sleep, that wondrous thing which just a short time ago was such a cross, now evades...disappearing into the ethers of memory.

At certain times, I become angry. How can this situation have come about, I ask myself, when I have done everything the medical system tells me to do? I have had the shots, I wash my hands at every place that has a station, I take my vitamins...and still the Bug found me.

I want to blame someone or something. I want accountability for my being ill. I want to stamp my feet and yell, engage in extremely childish behaviour...if only I had the strength to do so.

One must recover, at some point, I tell myself, from the Bug's onslaught.  But right now, the World is passing me by...I have not the concentration or the will to keep up with it.

I will fight myself out of the morass of mucous. I will dry out. The endless coughing will cease. The Bug will depart, in his own good time, sped on his way, perhaps, by the bombardment of various cold and flu remedies.

I will end my close association with the couch. With great determination, I will take January's list of things to do, and I will have the energy to do them.

This is how I pacify myself, when I am unable to do anything of consequence, when I want to join the World which is passing me by, when I want to clean the dust I see gathering on every available surface.

Wait, I counsel myself. Accept this Bug's war on my body. Accept the fact that rest will speed healing.  Accept that papers and books and dust and writing and crafts and hobbies will all still be there, when I am well. Take the enforced downtime, and be thankful that I can. 

I tell myself to be grateful my indisposition is only due to a rather rapacious flu Bug.

And that the World will still be there, when I am ready to ride forward once again...

Wednesday, January 06, 2010


This morning, at the early hour of 4:30, I heard a Cougar's spine-chilling scream. I was already up; Graham has a virus circulating through his body, and the subsequent stuffiness he is experiencing brings great, loud snores...

Just recently, a dog named Angel rescued her young master from a Cougar as he was gathering wood outside his home in Boston Bar, BC. And in Burns Lake, BC, a mother rescued her young son from an attack by flicking a towel at the Cougar's head.

I live in a forested area. I have heard Cougar's cry a few times, since we moved here. But I heard those cries in the Summer...a time when food is plentiful for these large Cats.

Cougar is not unknown to me. Throughout most of my life, I have lived in areas where Cougar is prevalent. On Vancouver Island, many of Cougar's normal prey, such as porcupines, do not exist. The Deer population is smaller. And so, I have learned to be wary when I wander in the Forest, no matter where the Forest may be.

My intuition told me a few nights ago that a predator was near. Nate wanted to go out in the middle of the night. That in itself is not unusual, since our Nate sometimes cannot control his waterworks for the whole night. What was unusual is that Lucky, very deliberately, in intensely cold temperatures, went out with him and sat on the deck, watching.

And I watched them both, very thankful when Nate was done and they both came in safely.

We have fenced in part of our three acres of wild Forest. Most of the Animals who wander through on the age old trails that dot the property respect that fence. But what happens when hunger...that great, growling beast in the pit of the stomach...takes away that respect?

We live in an area of abundance regarding wildlife. There are Deer, Moose and Elk that regularly use the trails, along with the predators...the Wolf, Coyote, Fox and Cougar.

In my research I discover that young Cougars who have just left the maternal umbrella are the ones most often confused and hungry enough to attack Humans. Children under sixteen are most at risk, considering their quick movements and high-pitched voices...and small size.

The Cougar's primary prey is Deer, although wild Sheep, Elk, Moose, Rabbits, Beavers, Raccoons and Grouse also figure as dinner. During late Spring and Summer, young Cougars routinely leave their mothers and roam widely in search of their own territory. And this is when they are most likely to interact with humans.

Humans have moved ever further into Cougar territory. How can these wild Animals know they are to have no interaction with the two-legged creatures? Especially when those Humans leave garbage strewn about, seemingly an invitation to dine? Hunger will drive an animal to desperate actions.

It is not only Cougars who encroach on Human communities. When I visited my daughter over Christmas, I was astonished when I was shown a gate and fence a Bear had destroyed, on my daughter's property. She lives in a well-populated area. But there are many Bears where she lives that have threatened pets and
left their calling cards everywhere in a desperate search for food. With Salmon populations declining heavily last Summer, Bear is left to forage in subdivisions.

I love Cougar and Bear and any of the wild predators. They are magnificent creatures to me. I understand their needs. I am the interloper in their domain; as a result, most of our property is left treed and wild. I would love to actually see Cougar, through the windows, with everyone safely inside, and close enough to photograph!

I'm unable to come up with an answer to the age old question of encroachment on animal life. I only know I am more vigilant these days when I wander outside. I check the large Trees which are everywhere on our property. I prepare myself for any eventuality, by carrying a large stick. Pepper spray would not be amiss, yet I am not sure I would have time to use it.

And I quite often sing, at the top of my voice, when the Dogs sniff the air and look suspicious.

I feel my version of "Let It Be" should scare off any predator!

Friday, January 01, 2010

The Beginning

I awoke this morning with the instant realization that a brand new year has begun.  The feeling was similar to the beginning of a new school year, or a milestone birthday having arrived, or even, for me, Spring arriving with all her finery. A feeling of really intense happiness...
2009 has now gone down in the history books. For me, it was a year of continuous renovations and rebuilding around our home. It was a year where we worked hard to add value to our place. A shop/studio now graces an area where formerly Trees and Boulders once held pride of place.

2010...the sound of it brings contentment to me. I wonder why that is? What is in store, that makes those numbers sound so right?

According to the Universal Psychic Guild, this  Number 3 Universal Year tells us...

"This vibration carries energy to communicate, create, maintain social relationships and joy of life. Hopefully this means that the World will finally get their act together for the celebration of an agreement on climate change. On the negative side there is the danger of self-indulgent behaviour, too much partying, spending and a possible financial crash again if we are not watching what the bank managers and mortgage agents are doing."  

And Daniel Heydon's Numerology Blog states...

"A 3 Year means social activity with both old and new friends. You may scatter your energies and un­dertake too many things at once. It is a time to be happy but not frivolous. The accent is on charm and creativ­ity. "

 I'm thinking this might be the year where we undertake more socializing and more sightseeing trips than we have as yet, here in the Cariboo. There will be time, that precious commodity, for it.

It feels as if the Number 3 Universal Year will lead me to a more positive outlook upon each day, which I vow to seize.  It feels as if there is anticipation within me, even as the state of Worldly doings continue to worsen.

My heart will open more, this coming year.  I am no longer so apprehensive of close relationships...will or will they continue? my eternal question...And if they do not, instead of curling myself into a rounded position and closing that heart again tightly...I will keep it open, grateful for the experience.

2010...the number conjures up grace and hospitality and joy.  Yes, joy. There has been precious little of this emotion for humanity.  I wish, also, that I not forget the ordinary joys of life so quickly, when I substitute the remembrance of negative moments instead.

I want harmonious feelings to flow, in the coming year. And it feels, this morning, as if they will, no matter the travails to which I may be subjected.

Happy but not frivolous...2010 sounds very nice to me, indeed!