Monday, December 29, 2008

Year's end

The snow's melted (except for some piles in parking lots & lawns - inc. mine!) & life is 'back to usual' - except it's still vacation for the kids, & work for the 'grumps' . . . so juggling that. I'm doing some extra child care over the holiday, & did some SoulCollage cards for the New Moon in Capricorn with 2 of my grand daughters.

It's the time of year for wrapping up & completion of various projects. An ad. that I haven't finished the changes for, (is it too late??) remembering to pay bills, getting a new calendar for my purse, all those odds & ends. I like new calendars - got one of Leah's wall calendars for my kitchen, & enjoy picking up book keeping odds & ends at the stationer's.

One friend turns 50 New Year's Eve, & though her kids are visiting from out of state, she doesn't think they're doing anything for that milestone. Are they? Should we (her friends?) . . . I don't often host parties, & the friend whose house is a 'natural' has been invited to a wedding, . . .

Many of us in Blog vales are talking about clearing clutter - found this cool blog by Stephanie, who's written a book on the subject :) Love her 'smile in the sky' winter solstice photo! She writes: "Clearing raises awareness. Clearing releases attachments. Clearing reveals a spacious part that’s been there all along."

Over at the Red Leather Couch, DarklyFey writes about being given a mended gift that her son describes as Wabi-Sabi. What a delightful word which describes being satisfied with simplicity, free hearted harmonious way of being. I'm working on it!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Rain has come

& snow is melting! The roof is almost bare now, my prayers continue for gentle absorption!!
I am in the midst of midwinter cleaning & clearing - washing dishes, washing clothes, 'de-thugging' (Alexandra Stoddard's term! Isn't it just so appropriate?)

I found more info on wedding brooms, handfasting customs, & the Welsh 'priodas coes ysgub' or 'broomstick Wedding.' (this third, an excerpt from the book by Mary Neasham is a great resource on European Handfasting customs!) I'd forgotten the African American connection with the phrase 'jumping the broom' & a time when it was illegal for slaves to marry, but they could still declare their commitment in this way! Poignant.

I love Mary's comments in her Handfasting guide: "It is important to remember that throughout man's history there have always been two tiers of society - the rich & the poor. Up until Victorian times, marriage was seen as a political & economical arrangement for the richer families to gain strength, but for the working class it remained a simple affair based mainly on local customs." (p22)
& "One wonders if the subsequent invasion of Germanic tribes to Britain was partly to escape the spread of Christianity into mainland Europe." (p19)

Another delightful site I discovered yesterday - Jay Shafer's Tumbleweed "Tiny House" Company!!! Wow. When I lived at Breitenbush my homes ranged from 9X19,' (about the size of hisTarleton.) Mine had a 2 burner propane stove, a wee fridge, & loft bed, but I shared a tiny kitchen & bathroom facilities with several other houses. I also spent several months in a yurt (maybe 20' d?) with sunken bathtub & a lovely compact kitchen. A blessing at the Burning Bush was abundant geothermal heat, & electricity from our hydro plant - so no utility costs! I ate breakfast at home, & made tea, but ate lunch & or dinner in the fab. Organic Vegi dining room with other staff & our guests.

I love the spare look of these rooms - & did pare 'stuff' down when I lived at BB - I so tend to accumulate STUFF!! Sigh. I loved living round - after living in "Star Song," I moved to an octagon home (also with loft) that was 17' d. There were closets on the N & S sides, one with shelves, the other with clothing bar. These are still some of my favorite BB homes - 4 octagons surrounding a shared central kitchen & bath room, also octagonal!

If you click on the Breitenbush photo gallery link, 'facilities' will show you some of the public spaces. I taught Reiki in both the room with the fireplace (N wing of the Lodge) & the building with the arched window in the door (Forest Shelter).

OK, back to the cleaning!Link

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Happy Yule

Fun to have Grandchildren to share the joy of the season & *presents* with!! They were up at 6:30 - tickled that Santa came & brought wonderful treats - a dolly stroller for the 4 year old, & a girl Nutcracker for the 8 year old, who was in the ballet this winter! I got in on a bit of that - then across town to the other grandparents' for more presents & a lovely Christmas Brunch! A baby for the stroller (she has several 'favorites' already, & new BIKEs!

We'll have to wait for the snow to melt (slowly, Devas, slowly!) before they can ride them . . .

This afternoon I shoveled my walk & dug out my car - the neighbors across the street came over to help - so sweet! The city doesn't own a snowplow, & the State HWY dept hasn't seen fit to lend us one, so the streets are a combination of mounds, slush, & pavement, . . . the intersections & center mounds are tricky to navigate. Tonight it's clear, so will probably freeze again; though it's about 50 F this afternoon. There are still a few icicles hanging from the gutters.

I've used my broom to sweep the walk a few times, & we used it to uncover my car - I realize I'd like a new one for the new year!
"Don't take an Old Broom to a New Home." When I was newly married, my mother-in law swore by the Portland made "Brown Beauty" brooms, as they were well made & last a long time. I've had a perhaps 3 Brown Beauties, & have moved the last one several times. Occasionally I will look at brooms in the stores, & be disappointed in those available.

So I checked online - first for Brown Beauties, & was intrigued to find Mirador, a Portland store that carries them - (alas, now made in Ca), & also Scheumack brooms, (a seasonal rainbow of their besoms are shown on the right) made in Eugene! Oh, my oh my!! What beautiful brooms & besoms, even a Quiddich broom!!
Sacred Suzie's tell of blessing her besome with
Cinnamon came to mind - I spritzed my small one with water & Cinnamon essential oil back in November, & love 'sweeping energy' after I've swept with the big broom.
Looking for more information, I found some lovely chants & other information at Hecate's Cauldron
I'll add one here once I receive her permission :) Meanwhile - this is the one that came as I thought about it:
Broom of Light
Broom of Flight
Circle round & bless this room
Clearing all of stress & gloom
Bring Abundance, Cheer & Love
As is below, so is Above
O Sada! Blessed be

Most of my broom lore is in my head - 'jumping the broomstick' was an old marriage custom, & taking a new broom or besom into the home was a sweet tradition, associated with carrying the 'bride' over the threshold, & bringing flame or coals from her mother's to lite the new hearth-fire.
Another Oregon broom maker, Warren Olney, suggests that Realtors give clients a new, handmade broom as their 'thank you' gift! 'never bring an old broom into a new home!' He has also been asked to provide some "Nimbus 2000" Quiddich brooms for VIPs, & 1800s style brooms for the first "Pirates" movie, & The Last Samurai.
In some cultures, you didn't sweep things out the door, in others, that's part of the cleansing! You can hang a broom by the hearth, to keep evil spirits from entering, or by the door. Brooms are used to 'sweep' the circle free of negative energy before ritual gatherings (often above the ground).
In Karen Kingston's delightful 'Creating Space with Feng Shui,' she talks about the importance of clearing clutter & physically clearing & sweeping before doing the energetic rituals, & that each morning in Bali, wherever you are you hear the sound of hundreds of broom sweeping. (For anyone who was involved with Soul Coaching, Karen is another great guide to shifting energy in your life!)
I think of the
Zen tale of a novice given the task of the daily sweeping, & feeling it beneath his dignity, so doing it with a vengeance, & waking the older monks . . . & eventually realizing the importance of bringing his Presence to any task!

This simple cleaning tool has survived for centuries, & even in the most high tech home, there's usually a broom around somewhere. & how much nicer to find these BEAUTIFUL locally made brooms!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Nisse with Gifts

Snow, snow, more SNOW!! It's now a foot or so deep (most snow in about 50 years!) with a thin layer of ice over!
Schools closed Monday, so the kids are off till the beginning of January . . . I did one of the harp gigs this week, two others were cancelled or postponed. Some massage, & a lot of just being home enjoying the view.

My 'Moms Group' got together Sat AM for our brunch/holiday gift exchange - snow was about 6" deep, & above freezing. The goodies ranged from home made pretties, baked treats & chocolate to a table runner picked up in a Paris market!

I brought 'Nisse' with a string of presents - coins with images of women & wire wrapped beads, & had a few 'requests' for the Nisse! He will be pressed into service delivering presents to my grandchildren (I may need to make a second for my son's home.

The other adventure of the week was replacing my modem, & figuring out how to get the new one up & running!
My former hubby & son offered distant tech support, & today I figured out the last bit necessary to get up & running again! My computer is a Linux, so needed to visit my daughter's for the right program to compete the re installation. Most of the time I'm happy with this system, less worry about viruses & lots of free updates; but it doesn't run (or have) some of the mainstream programs, . . .

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Nisse Kalender & blessing star

It began to SNOW today!! About 2 -3 inches this PM - fortunately it was light until after my harp gig! The dogs love it - my Chihuahua, Gracie Mae, did her dogie dash back & forth, kicking up the snow - until she got cold! My daughter's husky mix can stay out longer, especially if there are balls (yes, inc. snowballs!) involved!!

Yesterday I began sewing a Nisse/tomten like Alette's for advent & he's mostly done ;) Still need to make him some boots - he has nice warm red socks & a hat.
I made a few little gift bags the other day, & my granddaughters quickly appropriated a couple, & had me make a bigger one for a (toy) hamster's sleeping bag! I got a few more done today, I'll use the little bags for some of the earrings & pendants I picked up at our holiday craft market yesterday - & maybe take Nisse along to deliver them? (Will probably have to make a Nisse for my son's house as well)

A friend of my daughter's is moving into an assisted living, & brought in some fabric for the gals in their office to choose from - there were a couple of sets of printed ornaments to sew & stuff, prob. from the 70s, as we had made some then! Saturday my daughter & I taught her girls how to sew them - even the 4 year old got half way around hers before she lost interest! & they were intrigued with the Nisse.

I also began making some new 'car stars' for my kids - they are little travel blessing dolls, usually felt, with a cotton batting face & french knot curls. They hang from a rear view mirror or knob, & give travel assistance. I've made them for my daughter & son's cars since they began driving. I tend to make something out of just about anything; & once Josh said "I bet she could make something out of dryer lint! Let's see, . . .
Both the Nisse & the Car star are stuffed with dryer lint (it's also a good fiber for paper making, or so I've heard :) I enjoyed seeing similar little beings Linkfeatured in this Australian present exchange. Sounds like a delightful exchange, & I look forward to seeing the rest of the gifts, too!!
I've made happy faces on dolls for years, & often small faces like these 'dotties' - my son has a wee felt nativity group I made, adapted from a pattern in the French 'Mon Tricot,' which are no longer in print - I need to ask my mother in law where these are - she rarely gets rid of books or craft mags!

Ooo, & Friday, Leah's lovely 2009 calender arrived (I'd just ordered it WED!) can hardly wait to begin using it, tho I adore my 2008 Hafiz calender!!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Yule Kalender

I love advent calenders - when my kids were young, I painted several 'Tasha Tudor' style calenders - one a doll's house, the other a tree with various animals peeking out. Mine had no gifts, just the little pictures behind the doors.

I love this one with the Nisse & little bags Alette posted on her site - makes me want to go make one!! I'm going to look through my red fabric - what fun to have these little bags! My daughter has last year's Starbucks 'tree' with little drawers for chocolates (or trinkets)
& I know there's a stunning blog with delightful mixed media advent calendars - I can't recall whose just now - will try to find it & add to this post! (is it yours?? I remember they were playing with arches!)

Oh, dear! I just wandered over to Leah's 'Creative Every Day' blog, & she's almost out of calendars - so I needed to order one!! A week or so ago I heard a financial consultant saying that it makes recessions even worse when folks cut way back on spending, . . . I have been doing my part to shift that, lol.

& then I went to Mother Henna's & decided to participate in a Valentines exchange :) . . . I'll never practice Christmas music at this rate!! Link

Monday, December 8, 2008

Big City Adventures

On Friday 4 'sisters' from my Mom's Group went to Portland for our annual big city overnight & shopping adventure. We had dinner at the 'top of the city' & enjoyed the great food & city lights. There are 8 in the group, but with illness, a mother in the hosp, a dau. in Europe (so that mom was in Paris - poor thing!) etc. only half made it - which meant a window seat!!

We strolled a bit after checking into our hotel, & in the AM went to breakfast at a lovely little 'slow eating' restaurant, 'Mothers' - famed for local & seasonal & just plain good food! It's next to the oldest bookstore in Portland, Cameron's - a place my former hubby & I enjoyed in the 70s! So I poked around there while the others were off in the big department stores; then lunch at the NY deli on 23rd & strolling among the sweet, eclectic shops.

This Camellia is in front of a 23rd street Chinese shop I'd hoped to visit - a fun labyrinth of porcelain, jade, & lovely objects. Last year another Mom & I got jade bracelets. Alas, it closed a month or so ago, & a rug merchant is in the grand old Chinese building.

The sunset as we returned home was spectacular! My son & dau-in law were also driving, & we sent each other 'dueling' photos!

This year at 8, my oldest granddaughter participated in her first weekend performance of Nutcracker (4 shows down, 3 next weekend)! I began dancing in this studio 30 years ago, after watching my niece in Nutcracker. (I 'always wanted to dance,' but never had the opportunity.) Lynn Marchant trained with Branaslava Nijinska (Nijinsky's sister) in California, & the style is classical Russian. My granddaughter studies with Lynn's daughter Emma Seth, who did an excellent job with the choreography & setting the show!

The friend I invited to the performance took class with her girls in the early 90s, (after I'd moved to Breitenbush), so she'd also spent time on the stage, as a parent in the 'party scene.'

I was Clara's (Marie in our production) mother, Mother Ginger, a Snowflake & a flower . . . ah, those lovely big skirted dresses! & oh, the confusing choreography! I was a 'flake & flower with the same group of teens, & the music is so similar - which entrance is this?? I took copious notes, & they often looked to me to figure out where we were supposed to be!

This week the round of Harping for the Holidays begins - always appreciated! I've begun practicing the Holiday music & reassembling the music that 'fits' this season.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Memory Box

Clearing clutter - my challenge is always the distractions - "look at this!"
Clearing a music shelf & adding a box inside the larger one, to better use the space - & oh, the goodies! A few blank books, kid books, music to add to the Christmas collection, some beginning songs that may entice the oldest grand daughter, . . .

& a mystery box!

I thot my grandpa Mel died when I was 6 - but that's probably when he went to live in a care center. I was actually 8 1/2 (my oldest grand daughter's age) when my mom recorded who came to her sister's for a meal after his service. For a few years, grandpa spent part of a year with us, part with one of my aunts. Then he began 'wandering,' & grumbled about my dad (whom he liked) when he stayed with us.

Here was a financial record book of his last few years, when to my mom's dismay, he was too 'confused' for a nursing home to handle, & he was sent to the State Hospital over in Pendleton. Some correspondence - 'thank you for sending money for Mr H's cigarettes & some fruit.' . . . A message about where to send payment for his care, & a ledger including payments from Uncle Ray for 'the ranch' - $360 a month, at 4% interest; that ranch (or part of the acreage & house) most recently sold for over $4 million!

The billfold was his, the little plaque a bowling award for my Uncle Allen's - the first of my mom's siblings to pass, in his early 70s. Was it Mel's pocket knife, or Allan's? & such a cute little passbook for my mom's savings, the year before she got married!
This the spring my last uncle, Ray, died at 93; my mother was also 93, when she slipped thru the veil four years ago.

Here she & my dad cut the wedding cake, Mel & Mary are in the little ovals, & great grandpa Ben (7th best sharpshooter West of the Mississippi in his time), gr. Grandma Laura.

The box contains Allen's letter to my aunt Letha, talking about shortness of breath, & that he'd made a will. He had smoked for years, & asked the doc if it would help if he quit? "You're about 20-30 years too late on that!" He comments "I hope this isn't too depressing! I feel better now."
There are a few other miscelaneous bits - a coloured paper leaf with my name on the back, a card or two, that knife & a pipe stem. Other treasure boxes rest in my garage, waiting to be uncovered.
Oh, & the cutest little white box that has a snap - contains a shell & agate, & a penny!! Was it the penny my mom had in her shoe on her wedding day? I know their honeymoon was at the coast! I'm going to assume/pretend they are!

Back to the music shelf . . .

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Moon Reflections

Water moon Quan Yin
Sit on embankment & watch
for the reflection
of moon in water
Calm, hint of a smile
was Mona Lisa
as complete as this?

I love the on-line function for our library - a few clicks & I see which books are due, return, renew (once), or reserve a new one. This week I realized in the Holiday busi-ness, I had forgotten to even look at one, shining from the New Non-fiction Shelf. It's a lovely twist of a tale of a daughter's adventures living with her father: "Moon in the Water, reflections on an Aging parent" by Kathy Phillips. Rich images of Quan Yin, in pictures & text, weave with her experiences with dad after moving him to her home in Honolulu.

My own mother spent her last few years with diminishing facilities, perhaps Parkinson's? Some of Kathy's comments remind me of her - "Dad pauses in his meanderings through my apartment & peers at me a long time. Finally he sketches me in: "You're my & Madeline's child!" He doesn't sound sure."

My mom, Lois, would sometimes introduce me - quite eagerly - as her younger sister, Letha. I appreciated that she still knew I was family, & was happy to have us visit. My son would tell us "remind her that the only things she needs to remember are: she loves us, & we love her!"

Observe all dharmas as illusions, flames, dreams, the moon in the water, echos, flowers in the sky, images reflected in a mirror, shadows made by light, magical creations.
Great Prajna-paramita Sutra

'Goon Yum, soy yin-guong' says Kathy's Cantonese neighbor, when asked how she pronounces 'Quan Yin' & 'water moon' . . .

Avalokitesvara - India
Goon Yum - Cantonese (China)
Kannon - Japanese
Qan Im - Thai
Quan Am - Vietnam
Kwansum - Korea (male image)
Chenrezig - Tibet (also male)

Kathy reflects on the qualities of nurturing, & shares little stories of her dad's sewing for her, bringing her food while she studied in her attic room (after her mom's death), telling her 'I'm here if you need me!' She comments this nurturing was, at one time, thought only to be possible in a male; then more recently assigned to the female; & her view of role assignment reflecting cultural beliefs.

I am reminded of a recent series of Soul Collage cards, made by Denise (KaleidoSoul group member), featuring a White Dragon & the communication that came during a visualization:
This dragon has come into your life to help make the warrior
side of your Yang lie dormant. He is the protector of your soul.
have many past lives where you were a warrior and you are at a time where that Yang has been satisfied.
Your future lives will be
learning the Yin - the kind and gentle part of your soul. The yearning of the warrior will, in one future life time, subside and you will eventually have both halves whole." (here are the cards: 1st, 2nd, & 3rd)

Whew! I can sure relate to this 'warrior' energy, & time to lay down the sword! In several relationships, I went into 'white knight' mode - defending a couple of boyfriends - when I could have been focusing energy elsewhere!

I enjoy this image of the dragon protecting my soul. Perhaps this is one of the reasons behind my '5 dancing fairie dragons' tattoo - spiraling up arm! I got the tattoo a few years after the last 'warrior to the rescue' relationship - hmm . . .
None of the dragons is white - fine & delicate, they have coloured wings - Earth (red & green) Water (blue & green) Fire (Red & yellow) Air (pale blue) & Sacred Sound, (lavender). The 5 elements of the Cherokee Tradition. dragons aren't whi