Monday, November 26, 2007

Wearable Art For The Spirit ... or ... Led By Rainbow Serpents Into The Holy Land Of Fiber...

Cecelia, The Singing Serpent, in process,
nearing completion. Click on image for a
larger, more detailed image...

First of all, I want to clarify something. When I say led by spirit I am referring to the deep inner knowing, the still small voice within, the intuitive artist's spirit, the one that, if we listen to it very closely, we will be led to do the work, and lead the life, that we were meant to lead.

I have always been an Intuitive Artist. I have never followed a pattern in my life. I have tried, but my mind doesn't work that way, my hands refuse, in fact, I am as surprised as anyone what something ends up being, but I trust the process. One other thing... when I refer to "Serpents" I refer to beautiful, powerful, deeply spiritual creatures. Yes, they follow the teachings of the Snake as Totem, but I am learning that they are more than that, and more than that I cannot say, because I am just learning about it as I go. The Dreamtime, as I wrote about a few entries back, comes from the Aboriginal People of Australia. I too live in my own Dreamtime, and all of my work is created there.

Some time back I read a quote that has stuck with me for years and I'm sorry to say I don't remember the author, but the quote was, "Trust the process, it's larger than you." Indeed it is.

Some of this I have said before, but I will repeat it so that I can give a more cohesive account of what has been happening to me. One day I sat piddling and fiddling around, working with my tools, spinning fiber just because and what I ended up making was a little snake, less than a foot long. I named her Cassandra and she lay on my computer keyboard looking up at me, much to my delight. For some time I had her in my etsy shop but my tiny 3 1/2 year old grandson was just in love with her so I pulled her from the shop and gave her to him. Even he holds her reverently and he whispered to me today, "I will take very good care of her." He is an extraordinary child and seems to feel and know things other children his age don't. She belongs with him. For me, she was the vehicle that led me into the work I was meant to do.

I have been a fiber artist for decades. I knit, weave, spin, and do all manner of things, and just this year started to crochet. I have begun to call my work Freeform, because that is the popular term of the day, but freeform for me is a very different thing than what is thought of as Freeform today. I would call what I do intuitive work because I have a feeling, I start absolutely clueless about what I am going to make. And something very strange has happened to me of late... my whole process with my work has turned inside out and upside down.

I love to spin, and as I use hand-spindles only I create one-of-a-kind "Art Yarns" which I sold for sometime, but finally, though I loved the spinning, it became less and less satisfying to me. I was happy with the yarn and people were buying it, but I was creating it as a thing to sell rather than as an item that arose out of a spiritual journey, and frankly, I am a woman artist who must be led by spirit, purpose, and deeper meaning to be satisfied with the outcome of my work. My work is infused with prayer, spirit, and dreams. I meditate while I spin, while I do all the work, using several different techniques to create a piece like the one above, and so now I begin to spin and I know that it will lead me into a piece of art, wearable art, all made of my own handspun yarn, except, in some cases, the embellishments. So the yarn leads the way.

Next, that tiny snake that my little grandson has led me into the realization that the snake had come into my life as a totem animal, and it is so powerful I knew that I would be creating them, but I knew not how, or why, I just knew I was supposed to. As I began to spin the yarn for the piece that became Beatrix, Rainbow Serpent Of The Dreamtime, I was transfixed, watching the yarn lead me into the serpent that would grow to 8 feet long before I even began to circle round and round with one handspun yarn after the other, breathing slowly, meditatively, allowing it all to unfold, thinking several times that I was finished only to get that inner knowing that I needed to keep going. Little did I know, at that time, that I had begun a journey that would change my life, and lead me to the work I believe I was meant to do, after decades of doing a little of this, a little of that, and never having a strong focus on any one particular thing. And the pieces I am making are very heavy. When I put Cecelia on today to see how she felt I was surprised by the weight, but it feels good, grounding, holy, as if her very presence changed me, and the work goes even deeper than that.

The fact that Beatrix was sold before she was even finished led me to believe that I was on the right track, and just this evening I received an e-mail from someone interested in Cecelia. She asked me the price. I cannot yet say, because she is not finished, but the right pricing structure has come to me as well, after long and careful thought. And the exact price cannot manifest for this piece until the piece is finished. And it will be finished in it's own time, not mine.

You saw in an earlier entry the large spindle full of the turquoisey silky blend of yarn with a rainbow assortment of Cotswold curls that I spun for the new piece, long before I knew her name (This, too, was interesting, because I knew instantly that the first serpent's name was Beatrix. It was such a joyful process that I was floating nearly off the ground as I made her, and much to my surprise, as I was finishing her, I found out that the name Beatrix means Joy!). Well, with this new piece I didn't know a name and oddly it didn't seem important. The work unfolded, the yarn was spun, I began to work and still, no name. I got nearly as far as what you see above and her name, during a meditation, was revealed to me. Cecelia. I had no idea why, I didn't choose it, it just came to me, so I did some research and much to my surprise, St. Cecelia is The Patron Saint of Music. I don't just love music, my family are almost, to a person, all musicians. Music fills my little cottage and I am often spinning to something classical, or to Native American Flute Music, or something of that sort.

But even more than that, something rather jolted me last night. I had come to the end of the lovely turquoise blend yarn and still had perhaps a quarter of the piece to go, much to my chagrin. That was to be the outermost color/yarn before I began the embellishment for the face and down the center of the serpent's back. I started in immediately spinning more, the roving and Cotswold curls still all around me, and in the middle of spinning I was, again, in a place that felt nearly mystical. I kept looking at the piece and it was almost glowing, I had that knowing, the calling of the still small voice within. There had to be one more yarn spun for yet another outer layer of color, lighter and brighter, and for a very particular reason.

St. Cecelia was not only The Patron Saint Of Music, she was blind. As I was meditating on the serpent in my lap I saw it. The core of this large heavy serpent, now just over 5 feet long, was black, representing, to me, St. Cecelia's blindness. As the circles of color move outward they go from dark to light, as if the celestial music of the heavens brought Cecelia to a place where she could see, in a way that most of us never do, in fact, as a dear friend wrote to me tonight about the piece, in the way of a visionary. I was almost shaken by the labyrinthine path the making of this serpent had taken me down. I lay the work aside, walked the dogs, and fell asleep. Once again, the piece was so much more than I could have imagined.

When I was creating Beatrix a dear woman said, "You have created The Rainbow Serpent Of The Dreamtime." I knew the piece was special, but not just how special she was, and Cecelia, The Singing Serpent, has solidified this for me. Creating art that is spiritual in nature, that comes from the depths of meditation, prayer, silence, and that process that is larger than me, well, it's an awesome, amazing journey. It is the work of the soul. Frankly, I am simply shocked. And I know now that it is exactly what I am supposed to be doing. Tonight I took everything out of my etsy shop. I will be making and selling these new pieces, but if it keeps going like this they will be sold before they ever reach the shop! And if this is the case I will sell them from my own website. I believe they end up with who they are supposed to be with, and this was affirmed by Mary's very dear note below. I am on my way to a place I cannot imagine, and it is a wonderful place, the Holy Land Of Fiber.

As a woman deeply involved with animals, a Franciscan at heart, living amongst many animal companions, it seems a natural turn to have taken. I am excited to see what the pieces ahead will reveal and where they will take me. For now, I have finished spinning, today, the rest of the yarn I need to finish the turquoise layer of the serpent, and I will let the twist set on the spindle while I spin, for the next couple of days, two large spindles of the outermost layer. Apparently Cecelia has much to teach me yet.

As I have said, I thought several times that Beatrix was finished and I had to keep telling Mary, "She's just not finished yet," because Beatrix kept leading me forward into new colors, new lessons, down new roads. I followed them in reverence. I should have known better when I thought to myself this past Friday that I could finish Cecelia over the weekend and have her up in the shop by Monday. Her name had not even been revealed to me! And when I ran out of yarn last night so that I had to spin more, I knew that she wanted me to slow down, that there was more to learn, to see, to do, and so I shall comply. I do believe she will be done this week. I feel that that is true, but then, I guess that's up to Cecelia, and not to me...

Maitri, going up to bed, into the Dreamtime...

Saturday, November 24, 2007

A Thank You to the lovely new owner of "Beatrix, Rainbow Serpent Of The Dreamtime..."

I want to send out a warm hug and a thank you to Mary, who wrote a note which truly touched me, and for which I am deeply grateful. She purchased Beatrix, Rainbow Serpent Of The Dreamtime.

You can see her in entries further down, both being made and finished, and she is meant to be worn as a long scarf, or coiled around the neck as above, or even as a household protector used in many and various ways. She is Freeform Fiber Art, 8' long, and was a joy to make. Beatrix, her name, means joy.

Mary, the lovely woman who purchased her before she was even finished, wrote a thank you note to me and said I could share it, since it was going to go in my etsy shop but she bought it before it could so there was no way to leave feedback and let people see the work. Mary said I could share what she wrote, so with many gracious thanks, I share with you what she wrote to me...

Dear Maitri,

Thank you so much for sending Beatrix. She is more beautiful than I could have imagined. Her photos didn’t do her justice! She is truly a work of art, and I am honored to have her in my home. You so obviously infused her with love and warmth.

She is a true totem, and radiates happiness. I get a warm feeling every time I touch her. Thank you for allowing me the honor of having her in my home, and I look forward to your next piece! Much love and gratitude,

Mike and Mary

I was deeply touched by the kind note. I thank Mary and Mike for giving Beatrix a good home, for supporting my work, and for their gracious thank you note. For an artist, who works, as all artists do, in a vacuum, the affirmation means more than than I can say. I am humbled, grateful and delighted past measure.


Friday, November 23, 2007

An Intuitive Artist Watches Her Work Shapeshift In Her Hands (A Photo Essay!)...

What is Shapeshifting?

It has a fabulous and wonderful mystique, and is also an extremely subtle and well hidden art. It is about “thinking yourself” into another place. You take everything that “shows” you to the everyday world with you. You are not there through your own mind-abilities. Or you can ask another Being if you can share their shape - if they agree, you go with them. You share your consciousness with them and they with you. You might do this because you need the wisdom of the Being with whom you travel, they may be able to help you find answers to questions.

From the website: Celtic Shamanism

This serpent was meant to be called Bettina Ballerina as I
wrote about in the last entry. She was having none of it.
The name was not the proper name for her and certainly
was not representative of the lessons she had come to teach
me. She came to teach me the lessons of shapeshifting and
being open to change, which is part of the snake's energy.
She has not yet revealed her true name to me, but we have
already taken many twists and turns and followed unknown
roads into new places in my psyche. She is my newest
teacher, and has not yet revealed
her name to me...

The beautiful blend of red, orange and
pink Coopworth wools with dyed Cotswold
locks that was meant to be the outside edge
and will now be at least 3 layers in from the

Her face without embellishment
which comes after the body is
finished. She started at 4' long
and is now 5' long with quite a
way to go...

One of the next yarns that will be added.

in the way of this type of work, another multi-
colored handspun yarn I spun a few weeks ago
has already inserted itself ahead of the yarn
shown above... It happened right in the middle
of writing this piece. When I work I go back and
forth between writing and fiber art and somewhere
between-the-whiles yet another change took place...
My work is spirit-led and I allow my self to be led,
to let the spirits guide me. One never really knows
what will come next. I am wide open to the intuitive
voice within.

This is an absolutely gorgeous yarn with a base of
seagreen supersoft Corriedale wool and many, many,
colors of different types of wool locks and bits of silk.
There is a lot of silk noil and bits of silk in this piece.

As I have now put the above spindle beside and am working in another multi-colored handspun, as I wrote above, I will leave you here. The next time you see this luscious creature she will be up in my etsy shop, Dragonfly Cottage Design Studio, under Talismanic Wearable Art, with pictures of her here, completed.

I hope you all had a beautiful, warm, loving Thanks-giving with those near and dear. I have just come in from a very cold but vibrant walk with the dogs, and it looks like hundreds of birds outside at the 7 feeders, but who can count and it doesn't matter. My heart is so wide open just now...

Warmest Regards and Deepest Blessings to All,


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Spinning, Spinning, Spinning, Painting With Fiber, Magical Crochet Hooks...

Handspun Yarns on Spindles, Fiber, Dyed Cotswold Curls and
the beginning of another Magical Serpent, Bettina, begun with
Coopworth wool and colorful silk noils throughout.

I have been spinning up a storm since Beatrix went in the mail to her new owner. Making her was a magical experience and I was delighted for her to find such a good home.

As I am now spinning and letting the twist set on the spindles and then working right off of the spindles, a totally new approach for me, I am spinning like crazy so I have a number of new yarns to work with. I have spindles lined up and am trying many new techniques getting wilder and wilder with the yarn and I am having so much fun, as well as enjoying the meditative nature of the spinning itself. It is very soothing and healing in this time of tremendous change in my life.

And then there's the Freeform Crochet. It is such an amazing process to me. I learned to knit when I was young, I learned to weave as an adult. I have done embroidery and all kinds of needlework, but for some reason, until this last year, I have not crocheted. And heavens! I didn't know what I was missing.

Once I make the basic object, picking up the crochet hook and using many different colors, textures, and types of yarn is like painting on a canvas, I am painting with fiber, the crochet hook, my brush. And I have used a number of different types of crochet hooks, but the large, whimsical, magical Gulliver Hooks by Noreen and Jim Crone-Findlay are pretty much all that I use now, except when I need a small thin one to
pull in the ends as I'm finishing. If you look below you will see them. I used the sunflower, the daisy (to the far left) and mostly the Lady Gnome, my favorite hook of all, to make Beatrix. As I am using my own handspun for my projects and the yarn is all different sizes, this wonderful array of hooks lets me always have the "right brush," to paint with.

The magical Gulliver Crochet Hooks made by
Noreen and Jim Crone-Findlay. They are truly
a dream to work with, like holding a magic
wand in your hand as you crochet...

Creative work is so amazing. As I was working on Beatrix my mind was jumping 2 serpents ahead. The body of Bettina is made and now the embellishing with freeforming with many yarns and many crochet hooks begins, as well as adding vintage items like beads and buttons and whatever she feels like she needs in the moment. And I already have the yarn spun and am ready to make the next snake.

When I was finishing Beatrix and put up the entry before the final entry with her finished, someone wrote to me and said that Beatrix reminded her of the Aboriginal Rainbow Serpent of The Dreamtime, and that is very much what these serpents have come to mean to me. They are no longer simply snakes because they were always meant to be whimsical, other-worldly, have the power of totemic creatures, and yes, they are spiritual. When I spin, when I do my fiber art, I meditate, I pray, I weave blessings into the piece for the new owner. That's what fiber art is to me, it is holy.

Wearable art of a whimsical nature is where my future lies with my fiber art. After years I have finally figured that out and I have several much bigger projects in mind, but as I just started my store on etsy, and Beatrix, meant to go in the store, was bought sight unseen before she was even finished (...which I was very grateful for and delighted about!), I have too few items in my store so I am working working working to produce more magical wonders to fill the shop. I will soon be making large Goddess bags as well, and yes they will be freeform, and I can't wait to get started. My mind stretches even further to Goddessy, flowing freeform wearable art for plus size women like myself, as it is so hard to find this type of item if you are anything above a large/extra large at best. I think all women are Goddesses in their own right, with all of the mysteries of womanhood, the wonder, our awesome womanly bodies, and to that end to create powerful totemic, spirit pieces that can make a woman celebrate all that she is, that is my dream, as I sit with spindle or crochet hook in hand.

So I spin, I crochet, I do many other crafts to finish a piece, from embroidery to sewing to weaving to many other things, I am always working in the Dreamtime, dreaming possibilities into realities. How blessed I feel to be doing this work.

In the weeks ahead you will see Bettina materialize. What a wonder she already is!

Blessings and Happy Thanksgiving to one and all!

Maitri, about to pick up a spindle and begin spinning again...

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Is There A Pug Or Three In The House? And, Living The Wabi Sabi Life...

From left to right: Sampson, Babs & Coco,
and Maitri with her lopsided Bell's Palsy,
Wabi Sabi smile in the back!

Truly, I think it was all Molly's fault. She is the one who, with her wonderful husband Chad, said, as they left after bringing my first rescue pug from Mid Atlantic Pug Rescue, "Pugs are like potato chips, you can't have just one..." Ahem. Apparently not. And I am usually very careful not to show pictures of my Bell's Palsy lopsided face that started the wabi sabi of it all as Niecy Nash from one of my favorite shows, Clean House, might say, which I was blessed with in June 1995, but it's hard not to giggle with 3 pugs in your lap. And blessed by Bell's Palsy, you betcha!

Now, it's not that I like to look lopsided, but I'm a sort of lopsided, cattywompus person to begin with, and after having three babies and gaining weight, my last vestige of pride, what everyone always called "My beautiful smile," had gone all funny, as well as my eye and pretty much everything on the left side of my face, well, after the pain, after the shock, after a year and more, I realized that it was with me for good, and I kind of shrugged and went on. It taught me a wonderful lesson, it taught me compassion.

Bell's Palsy was the beginning of my learning the true meaning of maitri, the Buddhist teaching of loving kindness and compassion, that you must first have it for yourself before you can give it to another. I had to come to terms with the fact that I would always be lopsided, but life goes on and so did I. In fact it moved me to dedicate myself, my life, and my work to maitri, and ten years after I got Bell's, I got divorced, and I went straight to the courthouse and applied for a legal name change. Maitri is now my legal name, and I changed it to have a reminder all of the days of my life to continue the practice of maitri in every single moment. It, like meditation, is a practice. We forget, and then we remember, and it goes on like that. We keep practicing. It's hard to forget when you've taken it as your name. Which leads me back to the pugs...

Let me start by saying that I have had, loved, and felt closer to animals since childhood than I have to other people, and animal welfare and animal advocacy are the most heartfelt causes that I support, and I walk my talk. For several years I ran a non-profit shelter for disabled parrots and other domestic birds that were unwanted. Today I live with 5 parrots, 4 beta fish, one dog, and three pugs. You have to understand that pugs are not dogs, not really. They'd be the first to tell you so! And while I have loved all of my dogs dearly, most especially my big lab-doby mix, Moses, whom we adopted from the Humane Society at 3 months and who is now twelve years old, there is just something special about pugs that you can't deny. They are the first dogs I have ever had that have turned me into the kind of parent you run from when you see coming, as they flash out 78 pictures of the new baby. I blush, but it's true.

And I am now running kind of an Old Folks Home For Pugs. No, there won't be any more, not now, but trust me, 3 pugs are more fun and more trouble than a barrel of monkeys! Leave it to the woman with the lopsided face to fall in love with 3 funny-faced little creatures. And fall in love I have. I am, in fact, smitten.

Babs is 12 and deaf as a door. She will sleep any old where as long as it's on the bed with me. Coco is 11, hard of hearing, and sleeps under the covers all the way down to my feet, as I was told she would, but it's a bit startling, I mean, you wonder how she can breathe down there? And Sampson is the youngster of the group, being somewhere between 7 and 8, and sleeps next to me with his head on the other pillow. He's my Velcro-Pug. They told me he had Abandonment Issues. I said, that's okay, so do I. Babs came in August, Sampson in September, and Coco just yesterday, the November Newcomer. I'd say that Moe is the Alpha dog, but he is so laid back, as they all are, that I think he's just confused.

Moe says, "You're kidding, right?"

What I figured, after walking with Moe and the first two pugs for awhile, was that I could handle one more, 2 on each side, and it would be a more balanced walk, so in came Coco who needed a home and we are a downright spectacle walking down the side of the street. People's mouths drop open. My biggest fear is that we will cause a 15 car pile-up because people just stop and stare. And they shout things out, anything from "That's so cute," to "LADY, how do you DO that???" which is what I hear more that anything. And people just can't help but want to look at the pugs. Moe is a sweetheart and will be the great love of my lifetime, but the pugs, well, they're funny, and adorable, and charming. Right now Sampson and Coco are snoring. Moe and Babs are asleep as well. And don't tell me your sorry tales about having a spouse or partner that snores. Try sleeping with 3 pugs that do. Now that is something to write home about.

In 1995, just three days after Bell's Palsy changed my life, I learned about the Japanese aesthetic of wabi sabi. Wabi Sabi is the imperfect-perfect. It comes out of the Japanese Tea Ceremony and is about compassion, and about the reality of life, and that there is perfection in imperfection. All of my work became, in that moment, about wabi sabi, and maitri. And so it shall be.

So with sleeping snoring pugs around me, and a grey parrot named Henry (Now there's the Alpha male of the house!) on my shoulder where he spends much of the day, I will head into the kitchen and make my protein shake and latte. And I will watch the outside birds at the 7 feeders on the patio (my other flock!) and enjoy this beautiful, crisp, cool Sunday morning, and I will thank God for this beautiful day and all of my many blessings, and I will look at my funny faced dogs with my own funny face, and we shall have a splendid day.

Maitri, the five parrots, the four beta fish, the one dog, the three pugs, and I'm quite certain there's a partridge in a pear tree here somewhere....

Friday, November 16, 2007

Beatrix, Bringer of Joy, Rainbow Serpent of the Dreamtime...

The Rainbow Serpent (Snake) is an important part of the beliefs and culture of the people of western Arnhem Land. Today the Rainbow Serpent is associated with ceremonies about fertility and abundance, as well as the organisation of the community and the keeping of peace.

~ Found at Aboriginal Art Online ~

Beatrix, whose name means "Bringer Of Joy,"
coiled around my computer today just after
completing her...

Something has been happening to me all summer. Tremendous change and transformation. All that I wrote about last night, Snake as Totem Animal, has been true in my life. We don't ask for totems, they appear in our lives when the time is right. And as I am a very earth-centered woman, living with many animals inside, and tending to many animals outside, the presence of animals, totems, and familiars are simply part of my life. I was somewhat startled when in my hands the first snake appeared (She is very small and is in my etsy shop, Dragonfly Cottage Design Studio and I will not be making any more small ones.) as I had no intention of making a snake and my hands just created her without thinking. Her name is Cassandra. I was startled, just now, to look up the name Cassandra and find out that it means Prophetess, and that in Ancient Greece she was a Trojan Princess blessed with the gift of Prophecy. My Cassandra foretold the work to come, the work that would invade every corner of my life and guide me in a new direction. And then came the Rainbow Serpent of the Dreamtime. There is no turning back. I, too, have been blessed.

As Beatrix took nearly 2 months to complete and was sold before she was even finished I have also found that my work has become deeply spiritual. I thought many times that Beatrix was nearing completion, but she gently told me, "No, keep going." And the deeply spiritual journey that I was on, unbeknownst to me, changed me in so many ways that I realize I have turned a corner in my life and it is like the moment, in the movie The Wizard of Oz, when the screen turns from black and white to a vivid rainbow of colors. My world has opened up wide and the lessons, the teaching, the healing, are far reaching, and I know that there is much more to come...

Beatrix as Wearable Art on my
vintage dressform, Anastasia...

Why Wearable Art? Wearable Art is in vogue, it is all the rage, yes, it has become popular, but that is not why I'm doing it. I have been drawn to it for some time. I had the tools, I had the books, I subscribed to magazines, and read about it online, but it had to mean something, something more than just a piece of art to wear. For me, with Beatrix for example, she is, yes, beautiful and stylish, but she is a Protector for the one who will wear her. You don't wear a snake of that size and not feel changed, protected, blessed. I am in a deeply spiritual mode when I am doing my fiber art, and each peace comes with love, prayer, deep blessings and is infused with spirit. That is the kind of wearable art I am and will be creating. And for now it is the Snake that is guiding me, and may be for sometime to come. But there will come the day when I will shed that skin, and another totem will lead me along the path I need to go. I feel in awe, I feel humbled, I am wide open, this is most definitely spirit-led.

Coiled around the wearer's neck
for warmth and protection...

Beatrix is made of at least a dozen yarns, all handspun by me, with the exception of two beautiful handpainted cottons I purchased from another artisan. Her eyes are very old vintage buttons. And the last thing, the thing I was called to do, was finish her going all around the 8 feet, 16 in total, with the Sari Silk yarn I have just finished 2 weeks ago, with many types and colors of wool rovings and vintage saris, shredded into tangled bits of silk. It took a very long time to spin that much yarn as I only use a hand-spindle, but it was a very meditative process and one that I love. All of my work, henceforth, will be made from my own handspun with perhaps bits of embellishment or handpainted yarns I've purchased as I don't spin cotton. The work was very long, intricate, and each step along the way was so full of lessons, I bow before her, and thank her, for all that she has brought me.

Tomorrow Beatrix will be in the mail on the way to her owner. May she feel as much joy, as blessed, as I did in making her, and may the fiber totems to come keep leading me on this fascinating journey I have been called to serve.

Rainbow Blessings to One and All,


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Snake as Totem Animal, as Fiber Art, as Teacher and Spiritual Guide...

A Whimsical Snake Named Beatrix

Comes Into My Life To Teach Me

The Totemic Lessons of Snakes...

The name "Beatrix" means
"Bringer Of Joy," and she has
brought me so much already...

Wisdom, Healing, Initiation

"This a powerful totem -- it is the symbol of transformation and healing.

The Snake is wisdom expressed through healing.

The Snake is the symbol of eternity.

It is a protector and guardian totem,
along with its sister totems,
the Dragon and the Serpent.

If a snake totem has come into your life, your creative forces are awakening.
Your intuition will sharpen and be more accurate.
Snake energy is the energy of wholeness, cosmic consciousness,
and the ability to experience anything willingly and without resistance.

It is the knowledge that all things are equal in creation.
It also signals
a transition in your life. New opportunities and/or changes.
Snake is fire medicine, the medicine of transmutation.

On a material level, it is vitality; on an emotional level, it is ambition and dreams;
on a mental level,
it is intellect and power; on a spiritual level (the highest level),
it is wisdom, understanding and wholeness."

(Click here to read more...)

I have been spending the last 6+ weeks with
a snake named Beatrix coiled around me

while I work on bringing her into reality and
she teaches me the wisdom of the snake.
The incredible crochet hook in my hand is
a Gulliver Hook made by Noreen and Jim
Crone-Findlay... The Crone-Findlay tools
are the only tools I use in my work...

Beatrix teaches me the lessons of sight, smell,
and taste, and the sacredness in each, as her
face takes shape, with vintage buttons for eyes,
a nose to teach me the delicacy and wisdom of
our amazing sense of smell as I crocheted it,
and her handspun, tightly curled tongue ran
delicately along my finger to teach me that
those things that we are afraid of can also
give us great power...

Beatrix waiting patiently, having shed her old
skin, she is now getting another. I am finishing
her new skin with a beautiful sari silk yarn I
handspun with several wools and a long, pain-
staking shredding, separating and spinning in
the gorgeous silk from vintage saris... (You
can see the dark fat edge underneath and to
the right of her body. That is the new sari
yarn. It will go all the way around her
8' body...

A picture of the sari silk being pulled directly off the
spindle and crocheted along the sides of Beatrix using
one of my favorite
Gulliver Hooks who is a charming
Gnome lady...

Beatrix on the work table next to my desk with Sampson
under table, guarding her against any harm. She is a
very long snake, a very big girl, but she is rather innocent
and very charming. She was different and never quite fit
with her own kind. I'm thinking she's kind of thinking
she is a pug, appearances to the contrary... but that's
not so unusual with our third pug coming from pug
rescue this week!

Sometimes I need to take a break but Lady
is always there, on the job...

And so now I continue on, and Beatrix will
be finished today or tomorrow...

Being an artist who is open to the magic, the wondrous, the awe, and the spiritual teachings coming in from every direction, I have graciously accepted the Snake as a totem animal and she has come at the perfect time. And she is great fun. At 8' long she can be worn like a "boa" or long scarf twined around your neck and shouders, or laid out on the back of the couch, hung on the wall, wrapped around a Christmas tree, coiled in an unsuspecting place or curled up at night. She is very thick and soft and squishy, and being made of all handspun, hand-dyed yarns (except for two lovely cotton handpainted yarns) she is very much of the earth and grounding too.

Beatrix is the bringer of joy. It's not only what her name means, it's what she has brought me in my life...

Blessings and Joy to one and all,

Maitri & Beatrix

P.S. Beatrix is already sold and money gone to Pug Rescue. There will be many more snakes coming to the etsy store very soon.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Spiritual Warriors & Little Miracles...

The spiritual warrior sits in the middle of the fire...

~ Pema Chodron ~

Tiny Tithonia, Spiritual Warrior....

What a marvelous world it is! Yesterday, when I was walking the dogs I came upon a tiny Tithonia whose seed must have blown from the main garden to this dry barren spot under the large tree just outside my cottage. Nothing, sadly, has ever grown there with my best efforts and as I watched this struggling little green shoot sprout I must admit I was doubtful that it would ever grow up. I kept watering it and sending loving energy and talking to it and when I saw it blooming I nearly cried. And it came just after the most glorious weekend I have had for some time. And it made me realize that all things are possible, if only we believe. This, like The Little Engine That Could, was the flower that would not give up. It's brothers and sisters are towering flowers in the main garden, but this wee little bright orange flower is most precious of all. It, too, is a spiritual warrior, sitting firmly planted in barren ground, and blooming it's little heart out.

People tend to think of warriors as wearing armor and carrying weapons into battle, and certainly those type of warriors do exist. We have dear men and women fighting in a war right now risking life and limb, and I pray for them everyday. But I, too, am a warrior. I am a warrior of a different sort. I am a warrior of the heart, in the great Tibetan Buddhist Master Chogyam Trunpa Rinpoche's definition, a tender warrior...

Tenderness contains an element of sadness ... You feel so full and rich, as if you were about to shed tears. Your eyes are full of tears, and the moment you blink, the tears will spill out of your eyes and roll down your cheeks. In order to be a good warrior, one has to feel this sad and tender heart. If a person does not feel alone and sad, he cannot be a warrior at all...

~ Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, Shambhala ~ The Sacred Path Of The Warrior ~

Both of the words "warrior" and "sadness" have somewhat negative connotations in our society. Warriors are thought to be brutal senseless killers by some while they are men and women of honor serving their countries and their peoples as best they can. They do not make the big decisions, they simply put their lives on the line to carry them out. And we, too, must have the courage of a warrior to face life. We must have the courage and conviction. Nobody ever promised us a rose garden, as the saying goes, and it is the hardest times in our lives when the most growth takes place and the spirit grows stronger, if we allow it. It is a matter of choice. I choose the way of the warrior, the tender warrior, spreading the message of maitri ~ loving-kindness, and compassion, which is an important thing as well, and sometimes brings a soft sadness to our heart but still we prevail. If I can have great compassion for a tiny flower who fought for life and succeeded, I can have compassion for you, I can have compassion for myself, and if we are to survive in this world, I don't believe there is more important work to be done.

And finally in the middle of our life and days we must do our work and the ordinary tasks of life. Sue Bender, in one of my favorite books, Plain and Simple, about the year she went to live with the Amish to learn about simplifying her life, wrote:

"It is the everyday things that give life its stability and its framework."

And so amidst the world swirling around and about me I must steady myself here doing the work of my hands and heart to take care of life in this little cottage. Lately I have been hand-spinning a lot of yarn for freeform pieces that will go up in my fiber shop, Dragonfly Cottage Design Studio. You can see some of my yarns here, still on the spindles. And this, too, is a miracle, as piles of fluffy fiber, sheep's locks and more become yarn in your hands...

A bevy of spindles full of yarns I have been spinning for
freeform projects that will soon be ready. They are lying
on a bed of roving and red-orange Cotswold locks which
I used on the large middle spindle. The colors didn't show
up well no matter how many times I tried to photograph
them so below you can see the center spindle alone...

A blend of rovings in red,
orange, and pink spun
with red-orange dyed
Cotswold locks...

Mircea Eliade notes that the most primitive of all sacred places known in the history of religions is the archetypal, simple landscape of stones, water and trees.

~ Belden C. Lane, Landscapes Of The Sacred ~

I think that there is a deep truth in Eliade's words and the reason that I feel closest to God in Nature or with my animals. To listen to a running brook, to fill one's pockets with pretty stones on a walk and bring them home to lay out as the sacred objects that they are, to stand under a pine tree so tall it almost disappears into the clouds, that, too, is an amazing miracle.

A loblolly pine, which grow in
abundance here in North Carolina
and I so love these trees. The pine
cones are gigantic, and miracles
in and of themselves...

Or to plant a tiny seed in a garden and see it grow into a majestic flower, sometimes several feet tall, or, as I started this piece with, a tiny flower that found it's way on it's own. And all of the animals that I live with are great warrior spirits in their own way, even the gentlest of them. They were taken out of their natural environments to be our "pets." (I dislike that word and never use it. I say my Animal Companions, or, more aptly, my family.)

And then there are the little miracles. Like the tiny flower. Like the everyday tasks of human life. Like the little pugs on my bed last night. I had to laugh. The little fawn male, Sampson, likes to sleep in the crook of my knees or by my feet, but wee little Babs, the tiny elderly lady, twelve and deaf, started out with her little head on the pillow next to mine and through the night somehow gravitated to the arch of my neck or my armpit! Ha! And her silky, warm, firm little body was a fine thing to snuggle with! Moe, my big lab-doby mix had to get up on the bed too the first night to see what all the commotion was. "I mean, really," he said, "the bed is full of pugs. I'm sleeping on my rug next to the bed!" I don't know if it's the doberman in him, but he has always preferred sleeping on the floor with his back to me, right next to the bed, and his nose pointing out the doorway, in guard mode. I sleep peacefully with Moe at my side.

I call Sampson in this picture the Cami-Pug,
as it looks as though he thinks if he sleeps on
this particular pillow, no one can see him...

And so we go about our life and days doing what we can, being Great Warriors witnessing little miracles, and the smaller the miracle the closer to God we come. The Universe as a whole is too much to take in to fully understand. We will never understand the cosmos, the evolution of the planets, the beginning of life. Be it the Big Bang Theory, The Creation Theory of the Bible, or Evolution, the answers perhaps lie somewhere between them all. They are too much for my mind to hold. But this African Grey parrot on my shoulder, the little black pug sleeping at my side, the kitchen tasks I'm about to attend to and the box of new bird feeders that just came that I will fill and hang outside, as the old ones are worn and getting rusty and winter is just ahead, these things I understand and find glory in. There are six feeders on my tiny patio, just outside the four glass doors that open onto it. I live in a peaceable kingdom and I thank God for it every day.

I needn't don any armor, but I am ready to face the day anyway, and face it I will. And there is one difficult task before me today but I shall get it done and be all the better for it, and that, too, is a miracle I am grateful for.

Warm Blessings and Love to One and All,


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...