Saturday, November 3, 2007

Random, Earthy, Sacred, Simple Moments Of Everyday Life...

Not knowing when the dawn will come I open every door ...

~ Emily Dickinson ~

It came to me last night that I was a few days behind here and, as life would have it, what I had raked up in my pile of bits and pieces of interest to share, were but a collection of oddments, and yet all meaningful parts of my life.

One of the reasons I do my work at Dragonfly Cottage, and the reason I do this blog is not because I think I am important or special, but exactly the reverse. In the Zen way of things I am nothing special, no-thing special, and yet each of the moments of my days, as ordinary as they are, are the elements that make up a life. Things we must do, things we find joy in doing, things we fear but do anyway, moments of silence and calm, and moments in which the hub-bub of life feel as though they will sweep us away.

In this spirit I am simply going to present you with notes, quotes, flashing thoughts and a few photos that represent a few days in my life. My life is inhabited with children and a grandchild, dear friends, my dogs, birds and fish, a dying mother, an ex-husband whom I will always be close to, and a very dear love who is deep, deep in my heart. A lovely sweet friend who is the brother I never had and who shares with me a love of birds and bird welfare and who has 2 birds I handraised for him. A Congo African Grey and a Blue and Gold Macaw. He also has 2 gorgeous cockatoos and with Jeff's permission I will put the photos in this entry so you can see the lovely aviary he just built for them, not wanting them stuck in even the largest of cages available.

And there has been a lot of spinning and fiber work going on, a tremendous lot of work in the fall garden, cutting back, cleaning up and weeding, and bringing inside after repotting and feeding a host of plants that would die outside so that my already crowded cottage without an inch to spare begins to look like the Rainforest what with all the green things and hanging vines and parrots all around!

And so, this is where I think I shall begin...

Do not accustom yourself to use big words for little matters...

~ Samuel Johnson ~


... haphazard; willy nilly; unarranged; unsystematic; unmethodical; disorganized; irregular; unpremeditated; whichever way the wind blows; when the spirit moves...

Just now I am listening to my favorite Native American flute music by Carlos Nakai. This c.d. is called Canyon Trilogy. It is moving and soothing and I cannot write to anything with words...

Something happened to me, something very curious and very powerful, something I think I understand better after talking to my dear friend Noreen for some time a couple of nights ago. This has been a time of snakes and circles and spirals and now non-stop spinning. I am always doodling spirals and seldom seen without a spindle in my hand. Of late I have been filling several spindles using wild bright colors of many types of wool roving, silk noil, and wild bright sari silk that is a big bag of shredded vintage saris, very time consuming and yet meditative to work apart into sections to spin in with the wool. The best example is the large spindle in front. That gorgeous spindle was a gift from my friend Helen and the whorl is 5 or more inches wide. That is a LOT of yarn on that spindle...

Spindles hanging on lamp waiting for twist to set...

So yes, I have begun working in a curious fashion. You see for years I spun yarn to sell. I would choose what I felt were pretty fibers and all manner of things and spin them, wind them into skeins as per usual, wet them and hang them to dry with a bit of a weight on the bottom to take out the extra tight curls. I did well and I'm proud of the yarns I was spinning, but it wasn't satisfying to me. I love to spin. I am a born spinner. But I have finally realized that I am a hand-spindle spinner and will never use my 2 wheels. I need to sell them someday. At least one. And, for me, I need to be spinning for a purpose. NOT just spinning to sell yarn, but spinning to create something, one long organic process, an intuitive one all along the way.

As I have just said, my yarns, as they are spindle spun, and I am an intuitive artist, are all one of a kind yarns, never to be duplicated, though I try to stay with a theme when I am spinning several spindles together to work on the same project. When you don't production spin on a wheel you will never produce, say, enough yarn to knit a sweater. With one-of-a-kind handspun you can knit or crochet or weave wonderful bags, dolls, trim on clothing items, small items, or wonderful afghans or coverlets using all different types of handspun and make a crazy quilt of sorts. I have done this and it is great fun and quite beautiful. And it is perfect for Freeform work when you are using all different types and colors of yarn. Here is a new yarn I am spinning that will work with the big spindle you see above (A "Grandmother Spiderwoman" Halla spindle made by one of my favorite spindle makers, Helen Fleischer. I have quite a collection of her spindles...).

Another sari silk yarn just started that will
be similar to the above, using all different
types and colors of wool roving with sari
silk and silk noils blended in and they are
meant for a special piece I will soon be at
work on...

So what I am getting at is that I will no longer be spinning yarn to sell. As I am spinning I know what I am spinning FOR and that makes it all the more exciting, and I will not just be spinning yarns in a random fashion that I HOPE will sell. I will be spinning for a fiber piece I will be creating. To that end I no longer bother to wind the yarns into a skein, wet them and hang them to dry. I hang the spindles of spun yarn for a couple of weeks and the twist sets very tight on it's own and I work right off the spindles. It has proven to be a very satisfying way to work.

Right now I have very nearly finished the roughly 8 foot long snake (It is already sold, never even made it to my etsy shop, Dragonfly Cottage Design Studio!) that is wearable art, but it is very detailed and has taken a lot longer than I thought. And even then, I trust the process. I have learned that when it seems as though I am hitting a wall, it's because I think I'm almost finished but there is something else brewing, something that will need to be added to really finish the piece off right. I am at work on many other things that will soon be up in the store.

And while 10% of ALL sales will be going to Mid-Atlantic Pug Rescue, I am creating small bags for $25 that I will keep producing because 50% of the sales of those bags will go to Pug Rescue. I sold the first one and immediately sent $12.50 to MAPR last night. I am very excited to be doing this. You really ought to go to their site at the link above just to look at all the wonderful puggies. You simply cannot look at a pug and not feel happy, and all soft and warm and full of love for these tiny dogs....

Moving on, here is the boy I call my "Vibrating Foot Warmer." All of the dogs love to be around me but little Sampson, my newest rescue, is always so close he is touching me in some way. I always cover my lap with an old vintage quilt when I am sitting here writing and he likes to weasel in that small space under this little computer desk and get on my feet. He is warm and cuddly and kind of snores and vibrates. Gee, and some people have to PAY for a foot massage like this!

Tell me you are not madly in love with this face!
He is laying right on my feet!

Finally he settles down on the old quilt...

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz........... Sssssssssssshhhhhhhh.......

I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks as if they were great and noble.

~ Helen Keller ~


... natural; unpretentious; unsophisticated; down-home; homey;
salt-of-the-earth; comfortable; practical; pragmatic;
down-to-earth ...

Then there are the things people don't really talk about because they are just the routine things of life. We cook the meals, and do the dishes, and walk the dogs, and clean the bird cages, and do the laundry, and so on, but to me, this is the heart of life. The things that we take most for granted and sometimes even begrudge doing are the very things that give our lives the basis from which we move into the world. When you live in chaos at home you carry it with you into the world. I have been guilty of the latter, I will admit, and now I know.

I am in a period of trying to clean out, pare back, and simplify my life. It is a very long, slow process. And the simple things in life are bringing me such great joy. Things like bringing in plants from outdoors for the winter. Cleaning them, freeing them of dead branches and leaves, repotting them in fresh soil, watering and feeding them, and finding a place to tuck them in here and there in my crowded cottage. Going to bed with the kitchen cleaned up is not only a good feeling once the task is finished, but a joy the next morning to come into. Getting all five parrots fresh food and water and giving them kisses and scritches is such a lovely thing to do, and then off for a long walk with the three dogs in the now very brisk November air, my shawl wrapped around my shoulders. I have always been too sedentary and sluggish. Now, walking three dogs several times a day, with at least 2 - hour long walks, sometimes 3, I come in energized with spirits lifted and can move on with life.

Life is what we make it, I firmly believe that. And for me, in my small simple world, hearth-tending, gardening, my animals, my books, reading and writing, doing my fiber work, and the little daily things are precious and very life affirming.

The caring for, feeding, providing home space for, and loving our animal companions is another earthy daily task, and yet one that is holy, and a connection, a deep communion, with all that is sacred. My friend Jeff is one of the tenderest men I have ever met, and to see him with his birds brings me profound joy. I went to his house last weekend for dinner and photographed the new aviary he had just built, more like a little house, charming, a sanctuary really, for both he and his birds.

Everyday Sacred is about another journey, a
journey to learn about the sacred in my own life.

~ Sue Bender, Everyday Sacred ~


... devoted; holy; blessed; spiritual; heavenly;
divine, heaven-born; safe; secure, protected;
defended ...

Even the tiniest bird that lives but a short time is worth saving...

... and the bigger birds, the birds who become our heart loves, who share long lives with us, like my 5 parrots, deserve the best of everything I can give them. The largest of mine is my African Grey, Henry, but my dear brother/friend, Jeffrey, has 2 cockatoos and 2 birds I raised for him, a Congo African Grey name Taji, and my beloved Maya whom I handfed for 9 months and at a little over a year had to move to Colorado and she needed better circumstances than where I was going. I asked Jeff if he would take her, cage, toys, food and all, I didn't want any money, only the best home and he was it. We are both long time bird people and rescuers and it is a passion that we share.

He recently built a gorgeous outside aviary for them that is like a house and I photographed it for him. He has allowed me to show some of the pictures here. We call Maya, the Blue and Gold macaw, our "Love Child," and though she has been with Jeff since Aug. 2000 she still remembers me and I'm the only other person that can hold her. I can hold Taji as well. He went home with Jeff a year ago. But they never forget. Birds are so smart it's almost scary. So here, I am honored to share with you, my dear friend Jeff's birds. We have already made arrangements to take one another's birds in the sad case that anything would happen to either of us. You must prepare for any eventuality for your animal companions. Never forget that. It is a sacred bond. A Holy Communion. Love made manifest. Nature, God and Man/Woman united. So here are Jeff's beautiful birds...

Jeff with Blossom on his shoulder, a Greater
Sulfur Crested Cockatoo he rescued, and our
beloved Maya in her flight in the background.

Maya, Blue and Gold Macaw, our Love Child!
I hand-fed and raised Maya for a year before
she went to live with Jeff. This is his precious
baby and though I miss her still, she is exactly
where she belongs, with Jeff. I can still hold
her, but she adores him.

This is Peaches, Jeff's Medium Sulfur Crested
Cockatoo and the bird he's had the longest.
Everyone loves her because she is so sweet
and such a little love bug. While it's hard to
see from the photos, she is much smaller
than Blossom.

This is Taji, a Congo African Grey. I handraised Taji from
a very tiny baby for Jeff as he had always wanted one. This
is a very precious Grey. I held him and he is still, at one year
old, such a baby. And oh, does he adore his daddy Jeffy!

Jeff with Blossom and Taji. Blossom and Peaches don't
get along. Peaches is very jealous of Blossom. But Taji
and Blossom who live side by side are great friends and
preen one another through the openings of the wall
between their cages. This aviary is immaculate, they
have a superior diet and the best of care. Jeff's birds
live better than most people do! It is wonderful to see.

You need chaos in your soul to give birth to a dancing star...

~ Friedrich Nietzsche ~


... plain; homely; unceremonious; modest; unassuming; fundamental; basic; imperfect; bare; open; sincere; honest; ordinary; commonplace; humble ...

I am into my third day of writing this piece, and it has been a good thing, for as Virginia Woolf wrote in her diary, and I paraphrase, had she not written haphazardly, catching all manner of unimportant things along the way, she would never have found the diamonds in the dustheap.

To that end I want to end with something that has been very much on my mind of late. I have written here about adopting my 2 little pugs, Babs and Sampson. Though 12 and deaf, Babs just fit in here like a hand in glove and has had no issues out of the ordinary to deal with. Then came sweet little Sampson.

Sampson had traveled a long hard road to get here, his owner having died he was passed around a lot, ended up in a shelter, was grieving and not eating and ended up, finally, at pug rescue, where they took very good care of him, and they and they vet worked to get his weight up and get him in good health. He was then adopted and returned twice. They told me he had abandonment issues and would likely be glued to me. I told them that was fine because I had my own abandonment issues and I understood! And yes, he is pretty well super-glued to me. And I love it, and I adore him. He has a forever home with me. But he came with one issue of concern, and it has required a lot of work. He has seemed to think the inside on the carpet and not the outdoors was the right place to do his big business, even though we walk 6-8 times a day and I take plenty of time giving them the opportunity to get their business done. But I could walk for an hour and he would still hold it and come inside and go.

Now, perhaps this was part of the reason that he was returned so often, but I say, "For Godsakes, give the wee little boy a chance!" I have been loving yet firm (... showing him his misdeed, cleaning it up, and having a conversation with him about the right way to do things...) as well as bounding up out of my chair, grabbing the leashes, and heading outside if that is every hour on the hour. Moe and Babs love the opportunity to take a walk anytime, and after 6 weeks he hadn't gone to the bathroom inside in 4 days. He did have a little mishap today but I fault myself. I was tired, we had been out not long before, and I think I missed the warning signs.

The thing is this... When you adopt, buy, rescue a dog, you are taking on an enormous responsibility. It is not just about feeding, going potty, tossing a few toys, petting them when you feel like it and then tossing them if they require more or cause any "problems." It is about love, acceptance, patience, kindness, and tending to the small simple things. I think that Nietzsche was wrong. Yes, we all have chaos in our souls, at least at times, but we must be small and simple and plain and open to the world in an almost childlike way to see, to experience, the stars in all their glory, as well as all of the other little wonders in the world. A wildflower on the roadside, a baby's laugh, and a little dog who needs a lot of love and extra care.

So tonight, just as I was trying to finish up this blog entry, now days in the writing, and after being out so many times today I've lost count, even an hour before, Sampson obviously wanted to go out. I will admit to hoping it was something else, but he was persistent. Okeedokee, I jumped up, grabbed the leashes, my shawl, and off we went into the cold November night. The dogs were ecstatic, and while I was cold, I watched them, amused, as they went about the business of sniffing every single thing on the ground and the boys peeing on everything that didn't move. Finally we were walking in rhythm, in the night, in the dark, in the cold. I shivered a little, and then I looked up, and the sky was a midnight blue velvet with diamond like stars scattered across the firmament. I stopped dead in my tracks, I was awestruck.

It was a simple moment, ordinary. There are stars in the sky, visible, nearly every night, but one never loses the sense of wonder over the glory of it all. Tonight I didn't need chaos as Nietzsche wrote, but the simple precious ordinary walking of the dogs to be awed by the stars and feel God's presence. I felt a blessing upon me, and when the dogs and I finally came in I felt so deeply at peace I thanked God, I felt my heart open wide, I felt love, gratitude, and grace flowing in every direction, and I feel incredibly humbled by this whole amazing series of experiences. None of them are world-shaking. None out of the ordinary. Many will not even find them interesting, but it matters not. I live my life cherishing the simple moments and offering up gratitude for each moment lived, for even if I am afraid, if there are tears running down my cheeks, if my humble little abode is messy and I am behind in my work, I can still look around and say, "Thank you, thank you, thank you." I am deeply blessed and I feel it, I know it, I see it, I bow in gratitude. And then a soft warm nose presses against my leg, and Sampson is back, needing to be loved. I need love too. Let's cuddle together Sampson. The night is long, and there is no reason for two souls to feel lonely...



Noreen said...

Ah, Maitri, dearheart, your posting is absolutely gorgeous.
Thank you for being you. What a treasure you are! AND what a gift!

Maitri Libellule said...

Thank you so much Noreenie Honey... you are my dear dear sister/friend and I love you and appreciate you so much. Your kind words about my writing mean the world to me. Big hugs and a sweet kiss on the cheek, and hellos and hugs to the rest of the Crone-Findlay Clan!

Maitri :o)

Star Gardener said...

Most beloved Maitri ... Bless you for sharing these moments with the world!

How inspirational to be reminded to enjoy what too many consider mundane and neglect to appreciate. Your creative and loving spirit has inspired me once again! :-) Hugs (and treats to your furr- and feather- kids!) ...

Maitri Libellule said...

Thank you so much Angel, I truly appreciate your kind note.

And yes, the small, the simple, the mundane ARE the sacred, are our blessings, and filled with grace. Nothing is more important than the rounds of our everyday lives. It's good to remember that, and easy to forget. I write to remind myself, and when it matters to other people as well, that touches me deeply.

Warm hugs and sweet blessings to you,


Hairx said...

Thanks for sharing.

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