Sunday, May 28, 2006

Small, or Large, Successes

I'm very grateful for the amazing shamanic gathering... We watched a videotaped edition of the ghost show in which our healing tradition was highlighted, as it related to the young woman who sought our help... Stunned silence, like a paradigm shift perhaps... watching the faces of the shaman I train, watching the outcome of their gifted work. A definite high point to the weekend. And then I made venison for lunch, with shitake mushrooms and brown rice. Amazing stuff to add to our gathering and feast. For now we work on a Haida dance quilt, or robe, for a member of the community battling cancer. We are trying to create for her the same healing that was chronicalled on television for out client. Creator willing, she will dance a dance of healing on summer solstice, in her Haida robe, showing the glyph of a cougar.

Powerful times, great love and I'm really tired tonight.

Friday, May 26, 2006

The Last Weekend in May

Yikes!! I can hardly fathom how quickly this month is flying by!! Working on a CV for my art portfolio, doing beadwork on a quilt (and reworking the hem to decide I liked it better the way it was), and trying to prepare for our shamanic gathering on the weekend. Wow... Poor Brian has spent a frustrating day worrying about and trying to fix a tap set in the trailer we have for use by guests. He is very fussy about everything being pristine, and that is only ethical. The trailer is show-room beautiful... but his endeavours today were like a bad episode of Murphy's Plumbing Law, and he made 5 trips into town for parts. Here's hoping it goes together for him - he has never struggled with plumbing like this before...

Our daughter has 4 weeks left of school, and it is only 3 weeks until our sacred inipi (sweatlodge) to honour summer solstice and National Aboriginal Day. And next week another trip to Toronto with finished quilts and artwork, and that much anticipated portfolio to be handed in... and an artisans conference. Exciting busy times, and this is the last weekend in May... eeeekkk!!!

Thursday, May 25, 2006


Our summer-like weather has returned, after a long weekend seeing wet snow and hail... we've managed to get many major renovations done to the garden landscape. I am reluctant to let my little old dog Pooky outside with me, however. The mosquitoes are so large and numerous this year that I fear they'll carry her away!!! It is unpleasant to spend any amount of time outside, at a point of the year when I should be able to be in my garden. I don't have allergies to plants, but I am highly allergic to mossie bites - they come up on my leg like small pancakes. I feel like a prisoner in the house until their season is over.

Ahhh, spring and summer in Southern Ontario.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Family Day

Not much happening on this holiday Monday, just a trip into Hanover and watching a movie together (The Neverending Story 2). No fireworks here, as they disturb the animals, but the weather isn't co-operating anyway. It was a nice day to find an angel memorial statue for my deceased cat Ethol Louise Carnivore (the Quoon). It is an angel cat, actually. Ethol wasn't an angel, but we loved each other, so this is a fitting statue for her grave.

A day to be gently quiet - we don't do "relaxation" well - but we are being together. Happy Victoria Day to all!!

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Long Weekend Misery

Well, perhaps a bit overstated - the only thing awful about this weekend has been the weather - I didn't need to see wet snow this morning, threatening my just-planted violas and pansies. I originally hoped would have more of the medicine wheel garden dug out by now, as we donated many of the plants to Port Nelson Church, but due to the foul weather there are still plenty waiting to be transplanted... As aboriginal traditionalists, we don't plant in the 4th quarter of a moon cycle. Rather, we wait for water/earth signs in the first through third quarters. So, Brian will continue building raised bed containers to transplant the remainder of my circle garden plants after new moon (next week).

Last summer we decided to deactivate the 50' diameter medicine circle in favour of raised beds for a few reasons: a) our high altitude makes for a windy clime with a shorter growing season; b) raised beds allow me to garden, as I cannot get on my knees; and c) the new raised beds are nearer watering resources. It was too hot last summer, and we were unable to water, so much of our crops were decimated. Apparently we are in for another scorcher of a summer.

We managed to alter the front steps, and place some additional patio stones, levelling the walking area on the approach to the house, and Brian moved our planters to the west side of the porch, which I planted. He's made that area much nicer to look at... some of the clustering giant american mint and lemon balm will fill the spaces between the barrels so that will pretty up the approach to the house from the driveway.

I commented on a terribly cold long weekend in a previous blog entry, stating that we had an icy long weekend, and that this year was weeks ahead of schedule. Well, it is a month ahead of schedule until this past week, when it became rainy and colder. Perhaps, like gas, this too shall pass... Anyway, lots of work accomplished and tomorrow is a family day, whatever comes - hopefully laced with some sunshine!!!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Infidelity and Sex on First Dates

It amazes how many people are discussing their experiences of infidelity - mostly as the innocent member of a relationship where their partner has cheated. Obviously this is not new behaviour - I've been counselling couples for nearly 30 years, and many of them complain of the hurt and trust lost from the impact of infidelity.

I've come to understand that the basis of a relationship is love, born of trust and communication. Honest, intimate communication. Somehow, these relationship skills are not taught to us in our youth, and for the health of families I think they should be... We get taught communication skills for business, but why not relationships? Communication in business is polite, and not necessarily honest, so these skills aren't transferrable into the bedroom, frankly.

Infidelity is born of shadow self, that wild part of self we don't like. Someone contemplating a tryst outside of marriage needs to question what they are missing, and seek competent support to analyze that... help is cheaper than divorce.

As for sex on a first date - well - I have never counselled a person who really was 100% glad they did it... too risky (as in unsafe). Enough for now.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Shadow as Photo

It amazes me that the shadow exposes itself when we are photographed... having pursued my portfolio pix, I was surprised at the portrait shots. I've always shied away from photos - this is reflection of disdaining my obesity - but also a cultural phenomenon. In aboriginal society we've looked at photos as a stealer of soul. Of course modern natives don't believe that literally, but there is (for me) that lingering awareness of how a picture must have seemed to my ancestors... that little part of the Self, stuck on a piece of paper, and carried away by the photographer. So, given our history, photos have represented a time when we lost a little bit of soul.

However, my day was incredible. Bryn Gladding, the photographer, has given me back some of my artist's soul, because without him I would have no photos of my quilts, dolls, and my knitwear. I have never given as much to Bryn as he has given me today. Further to that, I could look at my own reflection on his computer screen and feel a sense of awe. I'm still obese, and more aged than I have seen, but I looked at myself today as if looking upon my visage for the first time. I marvelled that - gee whiz - my impish artist has taken up residence again, and yes, I could see her laughing back at me in my eyes. Bryn helped me find her again. I think shadow is happy, at least for today.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Only the Shadow Knows...

Can't say I'm happy doing a lot of confrontation of shadow issues. To teach the subject one has to face the shadow dance - every good facilitator knows that. Hopefully every good facilitator does that many times in the course of a career... well I've been dancing with shadow a lot lately, and not caring for how easily my toes get stepped on. My shadow has shown me that A)I don't handle disappointment well; B)I can be excessively perfectionistic in some parts of my life, and downright slovenly in others; C)I am more short-tempered than I would care to accept; and D) I can squash self-esteem (my own and others) with a few well-placed crashing words. Not attributes that I am proud of, to be sure.

Carl Jung identified that the shadow doesn't go away, is a wonderful repository of information and learning, and needs to be dealt with - never hidden. To ignore shadow gives it fuel. I have struggled with this nearly 30 years, personally and professionally, and I still need dance lessons. Unfortunately for my husband, his shadow issues mirror mine - we don't explode well together. Tonight, facing a trip to get my art professionally photographed early in the morning, pieces are missing. This is not a happy household.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Mother's Day Madness

It's a visual - it's now after 1 AM, I'm in bed, sewing snaps on doll clothes for my daughter's bear. The bear went through the wash, and so did the clothes. These are actually old Fruit-of-the-Loom baby shirts, with legs created out of the bottom... a tiny leisure jumpsuit for "Baby Bear". Onto the surface of one of these shirts I am appliqueing a penguin motif. Under the penguin is the caption "Reverend Looney-Up-The-Bun", both in reference to beloved Money Python sketches. The penguin was salvaged from a shirt that didn't fare too well when lost outside, but she wanted me to save the penguin. I've got the computer on my lap so at least I can hear some tunes while I prick my fingers, bleed on my bosom, and struggle with lighting that is too low for me to be sewing, but allows Brian to sleep...

Okay, I'm 49 years old, I'm a minister and yes, tonight, doing one of those incredibly strange things that my daughter will tell her kids about - ah, mother's day.

Friday, May 12, 2006


I admire (envy?) the Yarn Harlot. Her site is always amusing and leaves me feeling good. Her artistic abilities and her human-ness are right there - "in-yer-face" - she seems happy and productive. I appreciate her humour for I can go to that same place (usually) with a sense of ease. Not today, however. As a textile artist I must shift around within my chosen crafts to stave off boredom. Right now it is my quilting that acts as muse - but not an amusing muse. I'm being pulled out of some sort of cocoon, and it isn't comfortable. My inner artist is feeling a vulnerability born of midlife crisis and low self esteem. I've been so used to teaching my craft that the pressure of production (if self-induced) makes me feel like the proverbial deer caught in the headlights.

I'm well aware of the old adage, "them what can't, teach". I've taught for so long, to justify my art, that I'm rusty. My skill set seems dated and my artist's eye "primitive". My quilts are to textile art what disco is to music - horribly retro and very uncool. The prospect of putting my works in a selling gallery next month have me excited and frightened at the same time. Putting my professional portfolio out there (after 25+ years) is unnerving. I seem to have little to show.

I don't know what other artists feel... perhaps we need this angst to push us to have that emotional expression, as birth.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Creativity, Cooking and Kids

I love Food, and on APTN "Cooking with the Wolfman" a show about aboriginal fusion cuisine. These types of shows have raised the bar for me in terms of giving me cooking and baking skills I was missing, and generally to broaden my cooking horizons. There are a few shows which are souring - Crash My Kitchen is presumptuous, and Just One Bite make kids the power brokers of meal time. To be fair, kids can be ruinous of kitchen harmony - my 7-year-old can destroy the ambience of a labour-intensive epic meal with "Eww, what is all that green stuff."

The shows aimed at parents getting kids to eat in a healthy way try one-off, dismissive antedotes that pander to the fast-food lifestyle. I'm not adverse to the occasional visit to a burger joint, but it isn't regular, and not used as positive reinforcement. And the beauty line about getting kids helping in the kitchen just doesn't work well for this disabled mom - I have little enough stamina to cook, let alone clean flour off the walls afterwards...

I don't want my daughter to grow up too fast. Childhood is precious and innocence gone too soon - but to be honest, I look forward to the day when portobello mushrooms aren't shrieked at, and snow peas aren't sereptitiously used as bookmarks.

On a positive note, I have decided to write my own aboriginal cookbook - some fusion ideas but from a different perspective than David Wolfman. I have healing in mind, with the idea of food as epicurean medicine. As I write this, about 1/3 of the book is done, and awaiting a native press. I'm sure it won't be appealing to many children because the food won't be very recognizable, but it will be something kind of exotic.

It has been a WONDERFUL excuse to buy new appliances and kitchen gadgets!!

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Quilting Madness

Today's musings relate to an old reel we saw in health class called "reefer madness", (or something similar), about the evils of marijauna... Even the most innocent Gr.7 pupil recognized propaganda. Well, I have quilting madness... trying to get quilts done for a deadline that is increasingly arbitrary and completely movable, if I get my head wrapped around joyfulness, and less about panic.

Artificial pressure on myself doesn't help creative process - my patients and students have heard that lecture over the years. We create our reality, and while I work best with the pressure of a deadline, I need to have compassion for myself within the process. Like a diet - let's call it lifetime food plan - let's have reasonableness and not give up if we falter the first time.

Unrealistic expectations are crazy-making.

So, to help me be compassionate with myself, and just plain reasonable, I took a cue from Brian and helped him reorganize the sewing room. It has become so cluttered with show materials, spun yarn, capote fabric, and more, that I couldn't move in there. Removing buckets and bags of unneeded materials to the storage area has lightened up the space and calmed me. A little personal tidying (that only I can do) will allow me to be finished tomorrow afternoon, after the morning clients. I can start backing and quilting the tops I've chosen from my stash. All are aboriginal (native North American) themed, in keeping with the section of the guild shop I'm contributing to in June.

Monday, May 08, 2006

What was I thinking?

I thought I could hang laundry today, on a beautiful early May morning.... Nope... black flies, mosquitoes, horse flies and paper wasps had a different idea. Got everything nearly hung up - blood running down my arm - when I just laid the remaining socks over the edge of the basket and bailed. Pooky and I had to come in.

This is VERY early for black flies. 3 Victoria Day weekends ago, we had a tour group arrive for a view of the medicine wheel garden - there was an ice storm and bitterly cold winds. The tour group left disappointed, but nothing we could do - it had been too cold to plant. Now, the season seems about 4 to 5 weeks ahead, which includes the damned black flies. Every year at this time I wonder about life in B.C. in the Gulf Islands. No bugs, no screens on the windows. The older I get the more tempted I am to head west.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Learning for Life

Seems we've been meeting a lot of stressed parents concerned about the progress their kids are making in school... the critical watershed seems to be for those young ones between grades one and three. The more they get behind their peers at this junior level, the greater the chance for permanent failure by highschool. The skills and discipline needed for completion of homework and projects seem rooted in confidence and self-esteem. I never thought I'd hear myself do this, but I've actually begun streaming parents to private tutor companies. Like teaching our own child to drive a car, attempting to give kids primary level education needs to be left with experts. How we were taught and assessed has evolved into a more complex set of variables and markers.

We simply need to be supportive parents, nurturing the small learning steps, fostering successes, and building self-esteem in our charges - this is no different from the encouragement and support we give a small baby learning to take their first few steps. It means writing a cheque once a week, but our kids need this more than some of the other activities we're willing to spend money on...

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Disability Issues

I am appalled that in 2006 the access rights of disabled people are still an issue. Recently I visited Toronto and found parking to be particulary difficult. There were simply not enough designated spots in front of shopping centres or on major streets. We found 2 disability spots on a street 2 blocks long...

Parking on one street (Cumberland) was difficult for this disabled woman because to offload materials we must pull up in front of our destination, not drag buckets from a parking lot. I am disappointed that the rights of the disabled aren't considered. However a sadder aspect of this issue is the problem of able people parking in disability spots for "just a few minutes". The discourtesy is overwhelmingly unethical and selfish. The fines are often simply not punitive. Enough for this rant...

Incredible Change

Had a wonderful 3 days in Toronto... it was wildly energetic and very fulfilling. My friend Kaaren is a jewel, and drove me around to the various appointments. As a result of my visits with the Ontario Crafts Council I will be submitting some quilts for sale through the guild shop in early June. This is so validating in a long textile art career that has recently ground to a depressing halt. As lovely as their shop is, I found the crush of human energy on Cumberland Street to be quite unusual. Anyway I look forward to developing my portfolio this month, for a further cementing of this new phase in my career.

Coming home again
, Brian and Angeni are doing just fine. Mom can be away and they cope - more evolution...