Thursday, July 31, 2008

Thanks To My New Friend Daisy For This Award! The Brillante Weblog Premio-2008 Award...

Dear Ones,

I am terribly behind on updating this blog but I WILL have a new entry up by tonight, come what may! In the meantime, my new friend Daisy sent me this award this morning and I am touched and tickled and grateful. Thanks Daisy Love! I shall now share with you how it all works, and who I am sending the award on to...


1. Put the logo on your blog.
2. Add a link to the person who awarded it to you.
3. Nominate at least 7 other blogs.
4. Add links to these blogs on your blog.
5. Leave a message for your nominee on their blog.

So here are the blogs/links that I am sending this award to. And by the way I think the blogging community is AWESOME and I am sending BIG LOVE out to you all. So hard to pick only 7 when there are so many I love. Click on the names below which will take you to their websites!

The Awards (And a BIG HUG!) goes to:

* Amy Lilley Designs

* Dr. Susan Gregg's Toltec Insights

* Robin's Woods: Daydreams, Old Memories,

* Margie and Edna's Basement

* Mama Flo's Place

* Aerten Art

* WaterRose: Handcrafted Obsessions

Congratulations to one and all! You are a constant source of inspiration to me, and I'm pleased to pieces to send you this award! Keep on keeping on and I will be reading your blogs and cheering for you along the way!

Blessings and Love to One and All,


Friday, July 18, 2008

Working In Small Spaces & Living In Snuggeries...

"When I cannot write, I think about the pleasures
of small spaces like this porch. If I have to stay in a large place I immediately reduce it. I do not want a choice of aspects but the limitation of one, so my mind will stay fixed on what I am doing and nothing irrelevant will be suggested to me, no distraction by variety. In one day, I settle into a routine to match the small space. There are whole areas of any new place that I will never explore, certainly never stay in for very long. I have no curiosity about unvisited or unused space, feeling grateful for the protection of the narrow corner I have created."

~ Doris Grumbach, Coming Into The Endzone ~

My writing/fiber/art corner...

It came to me, as a rather curious thing, that we all have our comfort-modes in the way we live, work, and have our being in the world. The above picture was taken early December 2007. In January I took a bad fall, tore the tendon in my ankle and broke my wrist very badly, taking months to heal, so my life as a two-handed fiber artist came to a halt, I had to close my etsy store, which broke my heart, and all of the fiber things you see above have been moved to my upstairs fiber room and have been replaced by tons of books and reference materials for the big book I'm working on plus the smaller books I will self publish through Dragonfly Cottage Press.

The difference, I have realized, has made me sad, because I need a space for writing and fiber work simultaneously, which gives the cottage a rather cattywompus look, but with all the birds and dogs one hardly notices. And then today I came upon a word I have fallen in love with and which describes the kind of space I love to a "T". The word is snuggery. A snuggery is a "small secluded space."All of my life I have loved and created snuggeries, from the time I was little, growing up in a 4,000 square foot house, to the married with children years when we lived in a 3,000 square foot house, even to now when I have a total of 1,000 square feet, 500 on each floor, and for the first time feel that I live in a cozy, manageable place. I do long for a little more space with a fenced yard for the dogs and a special sun room for the birds, but even then, like now, I will have created a small corner to live, work and have my being in. I like to be surrounded by my things.

I am completely enamored of people who have created such spaces and places, and I must admit, my favorite of all is Dan Price who has published The Moonlight Chronicles for eons and lives in an underground Hobbit Hole. You heard me. A hobbit hole. Click on the links to read about the most amazing man in the universe. At least he is to me.

I first ran into Dan's work when I was publishing my own 'zine and I am about to start another. Yes, I'm working on The Big Book, but I'm a 'ziner at heart. My new 'zine is called Compassion*Zine and is well underway. I am not, like Dan, a hermit in a hobbit hole, but rather an anchorite in a zoo. I'm not sure which one of us has more fun!

Too, I love little things. I am not a little woman. I am losing weight now but I will always be what I like to think of as Goddess-shaped because it fits my sense of whimsy and adoration of the Goddess, which is why one of my favorite poems is Maya Angelou's Phenomenal Woman. Child, I read that poem and it just makes me sassy! Here's the first stanza...

"Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I'm not cute or built to suit a fashion model's size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I'm telling lies.
I say,
It's in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me."

Maya is a strong, very tall woman who really is a Goddess and one of our most gifted poets. And I have to smile when I reread the above, because while I am losing weight I am quite comfortable in my own skin and have a very womanly body. And my 4 year old grandson, wee tiny innocent boy that he is, said, "Grandma, I love you TOO much. And you're fat. You're nice and soft and squishy. Everybody else is too straight up and down." When I told him I'm losing weight he said "Not TOO much!" Apparently squishy grandmother's are all the rage!

But though I be not a small woman, I love tiny things. I imagine a built-into-the-wall dollhouse that I can fill with handmade dolls and wee creatures and things for little ones (and myself!) to play with. Someday I shall probably be followed about by a herd of pugs, and no matter the rugs, we won't have any then! We will have a little more space to play and work and garden and hide, and if we won't have a hobbit hole like Dan does, we can still dream about such things, and make our own little (if a little bit bigger) snuggery of our own.

I have been dreaming about my next living space. I love the old cottagey bungalow houses from the 30's and 40's with big eat in kitchens and plenty of space to cook and feed your loved ones in. I have to have a big creative space that will house floor to ceiling books and fiber taking up as much or more room, and Tallulah the vintage dress form that you can see above wearing the Rainbow Serpent Of The Dreamtime that has longsince been sold, made completely of my own handspun yarns. I want space to make wearable art from recycled clothing and more, I want to be surrounded by vintage things and living things and too many flowers and herbs to count.

I am dreaming, envisioning my way into the reality that I want to create, and I want one room for the Small Press Room, a place to have the light table and the artwork, fonts and collages and more. My 'zines have all been hand-done, cut and paste, and while this one will utilize the computer in the main, it will still have a very hand-done feel because that's who I am. Fortunately, with small print-on-demand presses like around to do the printing work, it becomes far more affordable to do such a thing, but the magic and joy is in the work itself. I have a slavish devotion to small books one can hold in the hands and revel in.

And mind, I have plenty of help around here. Henry (the grey parrot) is the Office Manager and Man of the House. Moe, the Big Black Dog, is the the peacekeeper, and also my body guard. Sampson wards people off with sloppy kisses if they get too close. If you don't have the right password you will never get past wee little black Babs at the front door. She may be the littlest pug in the house, deaf as a door and going blind, but trust me when I say that she has "special powers" and nothing and nobody gets past her, and if you cause her to get irate, well, she'll go all alpha puggish on you and this just isn't a pretty sight.

Blossom, the Greater Sulfur Crested cockatoo, and Coco, the cream puff pug, are sheer eye candy and get by with murder because they are beautiful. Actually, Coco doesn't really pose any problems. Blossom has eaten the woodwork, the couch, a great many expensive garden books and more, but she and Coco are the glamour girls here. The rest of the birds answer phone calls, e-mails, and poop on the ones they don't like. Vincent, the golden yellow beta fish is an old soul, wise sage, and philosopher, and guides me in all that I do. Yessirree, I have a staff that I can depend on, and we do quite well in our tiny place.

I have been giving quite a lot of thought to the kind of place I will be moving into in the near future and I was most delighted when I came upon my new favorite word. We have discussed it and even shy Moe agrees. It has to be a snuggery. A Puggery Snuggery. That's where we will be living.

As one door closes, another opens. I have doors opening and closing everywhere in my life right now. Sometimes, it just helps to dream...

I send love, armloads of flowers from the garden, and oh, I wish you could smell the gorgeous fragrance just outside the front door of the cottage right now. The flowering ginger is blooming, and I almost swoon when I open the door. Despite the pain of the world, life is so full of so many wonderful things.


Maitri, dreaming of snuggeries and puggeries and little things...

Saturday, July 12, 2008

My Body Is The Record Of Those I Have Loved... Anne Truitt

"When we love one another the most delicate truth of that love
is held in the spirit, but my body is the record of those I have loved. I feel their bones as my bones, almost literally. The record is autonomous. It continues, dumbly, to persist. Its power is independent of time. The love is fixed, instantly accessible to memory, somehow stained into my body as color into a cloth."

~ Anne Truitt, DAYBOOK: The Journal Of An Artist ~

Last night I was leafing through a pile of books that I have had for a very long time, most of which I've read more than once, all of which I've used in my writing classes. It is still an awakening to the changing of ourselves over time when we reread a book and wonder why in the world we underlined some things, and why things that didn't seem to have that kind of power the first time around hit us between the eyes and like a pinball shot through a pinball machine circling round and about, the new passage, once read and nearly ignored, shoots through our body, zings through our heart, and hits the bull's eye in our solar plexus. Our whole body wakes up. Such was the way I felt coming upon the quote about by Anne Truitt, whose books I have loved for decades. In that moment the resonance of those words moved through me, and I felt a connection with my mother's frail, dying body; the vibrancy of my children, now young adults, partnered or married and into the throes of young adulthood -- one married, 2 partnered, and one of the partnerships, my daughter Rachel and her sweet Jeremy, have my grandson Lucas. The generations move through my body, and even as I feel my mother's tender bones wasting away from cancer, I feel my daughter's heart beat against mine as we hug, and I hold my grandbaby in my arms, the wee little 4 year old boy, small and thin with huge eyes and tousled curly hair, and I can hold his whole little body in my arms, loving him with all my might as he squeezes me tightly and says, "Grandma, I love you TOO much!"

Too, I have had an unusual relationship with the most extraordinary woman I have ever known for the past 6+ years, and we couldn't be more different nor more perfect for one another, and yet her work takes her to places far away these last couple of years. I can close my eyes and see her in that place inside of me, inside of all of us, that is all seeing. Her voices echoes through my body, fills the four chambers of my heart, and the tenderness, the strength, the awe-filled moments of wonder that we have shared fill me to brimming over with love. She doesn't have to be present, standing in front of me, for me to feel her. I believe that's how love is, all kinds of love, if it is pure and perfect and true.

"Pure and perfect and true" does not in the least mean that we have led a life trouble free and without problems with our loved ones. One of the most painful things about my mother and I is that we have had a very difficult relationship most of our lives, especially as I became an adult. We went years without speaking, only to make our peace when she was diagnosed 3 1/2 years ago. Still we had our ups and downs but for some time now, in the face of her death, all of those things that we held onto that were tinged with anger, have fallen away as the truly meaningless and unimportant things that they were. We are mother and daughter. What I want most is for her to die in peace knowing how much I love her. I call her everyday to tell her just that. It is an especially difficult time because she is in Illinois and I am in North Carolina and I am not able to travel easily, or leave my little cottage very often, so the phone has been our means of connection. I feel so badly about that, but she has a lot of family and friends, neighbors and church members, and people practically lined up out of the door who want to help her. She was a hospice volunteer for 30 years until her illness really took hold. She is loved by many.

Sometimes, I think back to the shock, horror, and heartbreak, in February of 2005, when she left the doctor's office with the diagnosis of Multiple Myeloma, and given a very short time to live, until now, 3 1/2 years later, when she is finally coming into the endzone. She will be 82 on July 21. But then I look at 2 things. Through her illness, not only her great faith (She is a very devout Catholic very involved in her church, and led the congregation in the rosary before early morning mass, well into her cancer, until she no longer could.), and the most positive attitude I have ever seen in my entire life. And this positive attitude, I firmly believe, has not only kept her alive this long, but she has become a beacon of light to all of us. Our family, my children, her friends, to all who know her. She has gotten up every single morning, through the worst that the cancer and various treatments she has gone through, many grueling, many painful, terrible side effects, by last summer she was blind, and on and on, but every single time you talk to her she has said, "Everyday's a good day. It is what you make it." And she has stood steadfastly by this statement for 3 1/2 years and is still here, much to the surprise of the medical professionals as well as everyone who knows her. Many times she has come to the brink of death, only to regain enough strength to keep going. It's hard to get up in the morning and complain about anything when your dying mother can say, every morning, in the worst of her pain and illness, "Every day is a good day." That phrase will be a guiding star for me for the rest of my life, as will she from the heavenly realms that she will have ascended to.

Death is an odd thing for all the life, renewal, and awakening in leaves in it's wake. That her cancer finally brought us together not only allowed a tender relationship to grow between us, but let so much of the negativity fall away that beautiful memories that I had long forgotten, clouded over or weighted down by the trauma a long-term sexually abused child carries inside of her, the darkness clouding over any ray of light there might be underneath, has been parted like Moses parting the Red Seas. Up from the depths have come sweet and lovely memories. So so many, and more come all the time, and in the blessing of these beautiful memories I have wept for so much time lost, but then, I must focus on the gift that we have been given, to find this peace and love before the end. And when she is gone, through my tears I will look up at the heavens and say, "Everyday's a good day Mom," and I know she will be smiling down on me. We pray for each other daily. She wraps herself in the big shawl I made for her for Mother's Day a few years ago before we knew she had cancer, and the shawl is like a hug from me. She loves the things I have made her and that means a lot to me, more than I can say.

Mom visiting me in 2003 for Mother's Day,
2 years before the cancer diagnosis...

Our bones are all connected, historically, through time, in the way the human body has evolved, in the way that the skeletal structure is one of the early things that begin forming in the early life of the fetus, as well as all that is left of us in the end. I am a Buddhist, having left the Catholic Church at twenty, but as the saying goes, "You can take the girl out of the church, but you can't take the church out of the girl." I don't choose to follow the Catholic faith, but it is a beautiful faith, as are so many others, and that is part of the structure of my being. When I flew back to Illinois to spend Thanksgiving with my mother a year ago we would sit and say the rosary together. My mala beads were with me, but I cherished the time to say the rosary with my mother. Prayer is prayer. Grace is grace. It's all the same no matter what religion, belief system, or view on spirituality one might have. My mother's speaks a different language than I do, on the surface, about things spiritual, but universal truths are universal truths. We now meet on some plane of understanding rather than contention, and she has been able to see, not Buddhism itself, but having practiced Buddhism for thirty years, which has had a large part in who I have become, she is happy in the ever evolving transformations that have made me the woman I am today, it becomes more about what is. It doesn't need to be labeled.

In my favorite book on writing, Writing Down The Bones by Natalie Goldberg, the bones are the structure inside of which there is great freedom. I begin to see the bones of everyone in the world like some massive jungle gym and our relationships with one another are like swinging from bar (bone) to bar, sometimes resting awhile in one spot, sometimes coming back to that spot often, and sometimes stopping only for a moment, never to arrive at the same place again. It reminds me of the phrase, "Some things were meant for a reason, some for a season, and some for a lifetime." So too the people who come into our lives, and their bones, perhaps only small fragments, join with ours, leaving leitmotifs throughout our lives as the memories of them wax and wane, ever in the background, having helped make us who we are, if not thought of often in the present.

I reach out my hand to hold yours. The bones in our hands are easily felt and there is an exchange. Even in this iffy medium called cyber space we touch one another and are, in the best of circumstances, changed in some way. I have been touched by you, and I bow in gratitude, humbleness, and praise. Thank you for being there, and being part of my world.

Warm Regards, and Deepest Love ~ Namaste,


Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Down Into The Earth and Up Into The Light And Air ...

"The theme of integrating the opposites develops in my work from book to book, the seed having been sewn in Centering. Another archetypal development comes in the geometric form of the lemniscate (moebus strip), which is the ground of my second book, The Crossing Point. The crossing point is the name given to the layer of cells out of which the root and the shoot of a plant begin to sprout. The plant grows in opposite directions simultaneously, down into the earth and up into the light and air. The forms of the plant change accordingly. Think of the carrot, for example. All orange and dense and pointed, it digs deep into the soil. And all filigree lace of green foliage above ground, it opens to the sun."

~ M.C Richards, Centering: In Pottery, Poetry, and the Person ~

I am at the crossing point. The center of the lemniscate. My roots are going deep into the earth like Persephone down into the underworld, while my feathery, lacy green leaves smile up at the sun and there is a balance, if difficult, to it all.

I have written here before that my mother is dying, has been on the path to the final end for a very long time now. 3 1/2 years ago she was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma, given very little time to live, and told to go home and put her affairs in order. 3 1/2 years later she has been on every kind of medicine known to modern man as well as many experimental treatments until the last year she went blind and the deterioration has continued on and on and on. It has been excruciating. No one wants to lose their mother, but to see a long slow process like this takes the energy out of one until they feel like a deflated balloon, and you are always waiting for the proverbial "other shoe to drop." It looks like the shoe is falling. She has now been in the hospital more than a week, most days too weak to even speak on the phone for even a moment so I can tell her I love her, and she is in pain and heavily medicated. It is heartbreaking. And the thing is she could still go up and down this last little bit, but many things are shutting down and other problems arising, and my heart is so heavy with sadness and fear that I can barely breathe.

However, while part of me has had to go underground, to the dark place, to deal with death, there are the green leaves, the budding flowers, their faces to the sun, that exist at the same time. It is the yin and the yang, the balance of the universe.

If my heart is breaking because my mother is dying, I wake up every morning to this house full of animals -- the parrots talking, singing and chattering; big dog Moe charming, dignified, gentle and loving, the leader of the pack, always by my side in a guarding position, which touches me deeply; and then there are the three little hooligans, that is to say, the pugs, who daily bring me so much delight, laughter and love, well, when my mother started her most serious decline, nearly one year ago, the first of the pugs came, another the next month and another 2 months later. It's as though all the sacred and holy spirits, God, the Goddesses, my spirit guides and animal guides all got together for a council meeting and agreed: "What she needs is pugs, lots of pugs, they aren't really dogs you know, they are little alien beings whose purpose on earth is to bring joy and make their owners laugh, to stay by their side and give them unending, never ceasing love. Send her three, at least for starters!"

For starters, yes. When I move into a bigger place I will be adopting more. I was given the gift of pug fever, and it keeps you in such a joyful state it truly counterbalances much of what life has to throw at you. When I am most down, crying, feeling as though the world is crashing in on me when more bad news comes about my mother, you should see this place, the dogs are glued to me, Henry flies over and is on my shoulder, Blossom the cockatoo wants to stay with me and very, very gently preens me and rubs softly against me. I wonder how people make it through life without animal companions? I dream of someday living on a little farm where I can grow my food organically, have goats for milk who can frolic and have a lively happy life the rest of the time, free ranging chickens in a large safe enclosure for fresh eggs (and to be cuddled and loved), and I would like to provide a rest home for those in need of one. I'd love to have retired horses who won't be ridden but can live out their lives with love, safety and all that they need to live out their final years. Dragonfly Cottage will one day grow into a farm and the creatures, great and small, and I, can grow old together. That is my dream.

And pugs, I will always take the elderly and infirm pugs, the ones that few people want, but who are my deepest loves. Tiny Babs is getting cataracts and going blind. She will be 13 soon and came deaf as a door, and is the tiniest of them all, but the sassiest, and she communicates with me so well I swear we have a psychic connection. She has been here nearly a year and knows her way around, from her bed, to me, to the kitchen for food and water, and she is the first and loudest to bark when she needs to go out and all the others follow suit. Coco, almost twelve, came partly deaf and is nearly all the way there, but she, too, knows the lay of the land so well that she does just fine. And Sampson, well, he's just glued to one of my body parts at all times, and that's just the way it is. My animals sustain me, are the "fertilizer" that helps me continue to grow upwards toward the sun. Rich and luscious in their love, I am blossoming at the same time that part of me is underground mourning.

Today I go to babysit my tiny 4 year old grandson Lucas. He is the most magical child, tiny, towhead blond curls and huge eyes, and so affectionate. He, too, is a bright shining star in the firmament of my life, as are my three adult children and their loving partners or spouse. Friends that are dear are supporting me through this hard time, and my precious silence and solitude feed my soul. Lately, I've fallen asleep many nights, finally, so exhausted I couldn't hold my eyes open, in my big easy chair with the huge ottoman, an old, worn, vintage quilt over me, the t.v. on softly, the rest of the room dark, and Sampson asleep snuggled in my lap. All the friendly beasts are sound asleep, but if I so much as move Sam is up and staring me in the face. If I cry he licks my tears away. This little dog, terribly abused and abandoned many times over before he came to me, is more than a beloved companion, he is a soulmate. His valiant little spirit has grown so strong in his year here, and he has bonded with me so deeply, he knows my every move, my every thought. What would I do without him? Without all of them?

I pause for a moment and look around the room in a kind of awe. These last ten days as my mother has been in the hospital, weaker by the day, my collection of African violets, now large, are all bursting into bloom, flowers everywhere seem to be blooming all at once. The sun is shining, we've had much needed rain, my writing is going well, it is a very fertile time.

The lemniscate. So much is happening above the ground it is feeding the bottom of that figure eight that grows under the ground. The roots are being deeply nourished by the rich material being sent down from above. When the time comes and my mother is gone, it will be a deep time of sadness and grieving, but a relief, and a peace-filled time, knowing that she is free from her earthly shackles and no longer in pain.

Birth and death, the yin and the yang, the two sides of a coin, the lemniscate. These are the story of life and we cannot have one without the other. I will keep reminding myself of that in the days ahead.

Warm Regards and Deepest Blessings to All,