Setting The Stage For Spice Route Bellydancing Concert, Tomorrow Night

May 18th, 2018

The Stage at the Masonic Lodge

I just got back from setting up the stage at the Masonic Lodge in Bennington, Vermont for the Spice Routes Belly Dancing Concert tomorrow night.

Trish (who is in my bellydancing class)  and I met with bags full of fabric and scarves and yarn and scissors and anything else we thought we might need to dress up the stage for the dancers.

The concert is two hours and there will be bellydancers from all over the region.  It’s a benefit for Meals on Wheels in Bennington and something The Bennington Beledi Bellydancers (which I’m now a part of) sponsor every year.

I actually fit the eight foot ladder in my Toyota Yaris, using a bungie to hold down the hatchback.  Once again, it seemed that Trish brought everything I didn’t think of and I had what she didn’t bring.

We wanted to keep the set simple so it wouldn’t detract from the dancers.  We worked with the things we couldn’t change and figured it all out as we did it.

The room will be dark on Saturday night for the concert and the lighting will help set the stage.

There are still tickets, so if you live nearby, you can still come.  Tickets are $10 and you can get them at the door or by calling (802) 442-8012.  The Masonic Hall is at 504 Main Street, Bennington Vermont.  Doors open at 6:30 and the concert starts at 7pm.


Trish danced on the stage after we we’re done,  so I could get a picture.

Rosemary, Zelda and Kim

May 18th, 2018

Three very different sheep with different personalities and different wool.

Rosemary is a Romney, with her soft curly wool.  She has always had an imperious look and attitude.

Zelda is a Cheviot with a year’s worth of wool on her back.  Because she’s older ( 8 or 9 by now) her wool doesn’t come in a quick as the other sheep.  So I only shear her once a year.  She’s always been the leader of the flock, although sometime now, she hands that position over to Liam, who is a wether ( a castrated male) and Suzy’s Lamb.

Kim, with her long white wool is a Karakul.  She’s an asian sheep and known for their wool.  Kim is still shy around me. She’ll only come close to get a treat if I have one.  But she’ll back aways if another sheep gets pushy around her.

The Bold and Resourceful Wren

May 18th, 2018

For the past few days a wren has been landing on the branch  just outside my studio window.

I first saw it when I was writing my piece about “little Maria” and the Promise of the Panther.  It felt like another animal symbol to me, so I looked it up in Animal Speak.

I found that the wren is a “bold and resourceful bird…the has the vocal power of a bird much larger”   “It can teach the most effective means to build within your own environment… and holds medicine for using what is available”

Seeing the wren and reading its symbolism, feels like an affirmation for me to keep speaking my truth and continue creating my own community through my work and blog and in my own small Upstate NY town too.

The little wren is a mighty bird.

Minnie In The Marsh

May 18th, 2018

Having only three legs doesn’t stop Minnie from hunting.

This morning I saw her scanning the marsh in our pasture.  And this was after she had her breakfast kibble.

Later I found a tiny stomach or some internal organ on the back porch.  That was all that was left of her morning hunt.

House of Hearts Tote Bags For Sale

May 17th, 2018

Fate and the new House of Hearts Tote Bags I’m selling in my Etsy Shop.

I have the new shipment of House of Hearts Totebags for sale in my Etsy Shop.  They’re $15 each + $6 shipping. You can buy them by clicking here or on the Etsy icon on the top of my blog.

This is the kind of reusable bag you can fold up and put in your pocketbook or leave in your car so you always have a tote bag when you go shopping.   It’s 16″x17″ with a 6″ pocket on the outside.

They’re made of cotton, are durable and can hold lots of stuff.

Most of you probably remember my trip to India last February.  Many of you donated to help make it possible. And there was lots of money left over from my expenses so I was able to donate to the day care centers in the Red Light District, the kids rescued from  trafficking at Puresa Humanitarian  and to Co-operative’s like House of Hearts.

I never expected to be selling the potholders I went to India to teach the women at House of Hearts to make.  And I’ve sold a lot of them.  Now they’re making tote bags and I’m happy to be selling those.

House of Hearts was started by Soma Seal in her home in a village in West Bengal India.  When I visited her, her house was filled with the women who work there and their children.  We all had a delicious home made lunch and we made potholders.  Somehow they had all the materials we needed, including the thick cotton batting for insulation.

It was a thrill when Soma heated up a pot with water in and we tested the potholders to make sure they would work.  They did and we even took a picture of me, standing next to Soma, holding the pot of boiling water with the potholder.

Me and Soma using the potholder made at House of Hearts.  The women in the background are a couple of the women who made the potholders.

Soma worked her way up in the fair trade company Made By Survivors to a supervisors position.  When she did she open up the sewing shop, House of Hearts, in her home.  She wanted to help the women in her village the way she was helped when she needed it.  When the women in her village can learn a trade and earn money, it raises their status in the village so they have more control over their lives.

So if you’re like me, and always forgetting to bring your own bag when you go shopping this is the perfect bag to always bring along.  It folds up small and  opens up with lots of space inside and is durable too.

They come in white with black print or black with white print.  They also make great gifts, because each time you buy a House of Hearts Totebag it benefits the women in Soma’s village and their families.

You can see them and buy them by clicking  here  or on the Etsy icon on the top of my blog.

Each bag has a House of Hearts tag on it.

Working Spring Nights

May 17th, 2018

I love working late in my studio this time of year.

In the winter it’s too cold and dark to work in my studio after dinner.    I just want to be in the warm house by the woodstoves.

But this time of year, I can easily go back to my studio at any time of the day or night.  No heat to think about, I just open the doors and windows and let the warm air in.

I don’t get tired like I do in the winter, when it starts to get dark at 4pm, either.  I stay awake with the long days.

Last night I started tacking my Elephant Quilt.  It’s already sold, now I just have to finish it.

Writing An Introduction To Mary’s New Book

May 16th, 2018

Jon and Mary on our last visit. 

I’ve gotten pretty good at writing over the years.  Good in the way that it doesn’t make me anxious to do anymore.  I think it’s because I’ve been blogging for about over 10 years and writing almost every day.  So I’ve had a lot of practice.

But when Jon suggested I write the introduction for Mary Kellogg’s new poetry book, This Time Of Life,  I froze.

I’ve been putting it off for about  two weeks now.  Every time I thought of writing it, I found something else that really needed to be done, like picking up the dog poop in the back yard, or washing the dishes.

I’m an experienced procrastinator.

Honestly, I usually don’t read introductions to books.  And if I do it’s after I’ve read the book or looked at all the pictures (if it’s a picture book).  So I’m not really sure what they’re like.

I finally asked Jon for help. He said I should just write the truth about my friendship with Mary and about her books.  Just a couple of paragraphs, he said.

He made it sound so easy, but when I sat down to write a million thoughts came into my head and I had no idea where to begin.

When a  week went by and I still hadn’t written the introduction, I asked Jon for help again.

This time he sat down and practically dictated an introduction to me.

It sounded great.  Just what I would say if I knew how to write an introduction.  So I put Jon’s ideas into my words and sent it off to Abrah who is designing the book.

I’m not proud of the fact I had such a hard time writing an introduction to Mary’s book. And I still can’t figure out why I had so much trouble with it.

I’m just relieved it’s done.

Now I can look forward to see the proofs that Abrah will send us.  I can’t wait to show them to Mary.  She’s very excited about her new book and we’re already talking about her being at the Bedlam Farm Open House, in October, reading some of her poems from her new book.


Rescuing “little Maria”, The Promise of the Panther

May 16th, 2018

It wasn’t a dream, I was journeying.

It was 5am and I woke up scared.  The feeling was so familiar, at first I didn’t even acknowledge it.  A jittering in my stomach and chest.  My mind beginning to search for something to be afraid of.

Then I remembered.  Jon and I had talked  about  it a few days ago.  I knew for a while why I woke up scared in the night.  But just knowing didn’t seem to matter.  My brain and body overrode the fact that I was no longer in a place that I didn’t feel safe.

The fear I woke up to wasn’t rational, it was from a long time ago, when I was a kid.

My sister and I  were still sharing a room.  My father worked nights and came home from work early in the morning,  2 or 3am.  I don’t remember how often it happened, but sometimes he would often come home angry.

It got to the point where I would hear his car pull into the driveway and lay in bed waiting for him to come in the house.  Not knowing if he’d be angry, if one of us kids would be in trouble for leaving something out of place in the garage or not closing a door.   Anything could set him off.  I’d lay in bed every night waiting.  Waiting for him to throw open my bedroom door and turn on the light and start yelling.

Feeling helpless and terrified, I’d lie still and quiet in bed afraid to move,  trying to make myself small, trying to make myself invisible.

I don’t remember how often this happened or how long it went on.  I only know that, even now, at the age of fifty-four, I still wake up scared in the middle of the night.

But yesterday morning, I decided to do something different.  Instead of reading or trying to distract my mind and calm my body, I decided I’d journey back to myself as that little girl, laying scared in her bed and take her home with me where she would be safe.

This is something I learned to do in therapy.  To go back and reassure or even rescue the “little girl who still lives inside of me.

I closed my eyes and in my mind,  went back to the house I grew up in.

My mother and father were standing in the living room.

I told them I was taking Maria with me.  They didn’t say anything they just stood there.

I was angry and hurt.  And I think this was as much about me being able to make my feeling known as taking “little Maria” back with me.   I told my mother that she hadn’t  protected me.  And I understood if she was afraid of my father too, but she never helped me.  Growing up, I had no one to turn to.

Later I  cried when I thought about how alone I was then.  Not in a self-pitying way, but in finally seeing the truth of the situation and accepting it.  It had always been too painful for me to believe that my mother wasn’t there for me in the way I needed her.

Because of where my parents were standing in the living room,  I had to turn away from them to get “little Maria” from her room.  I found I was afraid to turn my back on my father.  I felt  he would come after me if I wasn’t facing him.  That he would physically try to stop me.  I was still afraid of him.

So I did what I had never been able to do in life, I confronted him. I threatened him with violence if he tried to stop me.   (I’m not going to go into details about what I told him I would do to him.  On waking I could see that it was incredible violent, but in my vision it was the most natural thing in the world to threaten him with) It seemed to give me strength because after that  I found myself growing like a spectral giant, hovering over him, looking down on him.

No longer afraid, I became myself again and went into my old bedroom.

“Little Maria” was sitting on her bed waiting for me. I  told her  that I was going to take her someplace safe.  A place where I would take care of her. It’s in the country I said.   I asked her if she ever met a donkey, there are animals where we’re going and paths through the woods, which are safe to walk in.

I took” little Maria’s” hand and we walked through the living room, past my parents, who were now, somehow less real.   As we went made out way out of the house,  I saw that a leopard was walking beside us.   It was long and low to the ground and it shifted from a real leopard to a shadow leopard, more of a spirit, and back again.

It was a comfort to see my little blue car parked in front of the house.  It meant we were closer to home.      When I opened my car door  I was even more happy to see Fate waiting there for me.  Then the leopard jumped into the back seat with Fate.  Fate ignored the leopard as if this was something that happened everyday.

I watched my car drive over the Whitestone Bridge, and north on the Taconic Parkway.  We stopped to eat breakfast at the cafe in New Lebanon.   “Little Maria” had so much french toast she couldn’t finish it all.

Finally home I told “little Maria”  about Jon and said he wasn’t a scary man, but if she was ever afraid of him she should tell me.

Then I brought her up to the guest room and tucked her into bed.  The leopard jumped onto the bed and curled up next to her.

This morning I looked up the symbolic meaning of the leopard.  In the book, Animal-Speak by Ted Andrews, I found this passage:

“The panther (also known as a leopard)  often signals a time of rebirth after a period of suffering or death on some level.  This implies that an old issue may finally begin to be resolved, or even that old long-standing wounds will finally begin to heal, and with the healing will come a reclaiming of power that was lost at the time of wounding.”

“...we may have to face offending malignancies of our life…those aspects of our life that we have…glossed over…or pretended didn’t exist. Sometimes this means  we must suffer the loss of what we think we love the most….The Panther is the promise that whatever is lost will be replaced by that which is greater, stronger and more beneficial.”

I fell asleep after my journey and when I woke up in the morning I was shaken by it and would be wrestling with the experience the rest of the day.

The anger I had felt towards my parents was still with me. But I also felt justified in my anger.  It wasn’t about blaming them, I understand they both grew up in difficult, abusive circumstances.  It was about me being able to be angry for what had happened to me.  For what they had done.

But I also felt strong.  Like I  helped the little girl who was me.  I had done for her what she always wished someone would do. Take her away and make her feel safe and known.

I’ve done this kind of journeying before to help me resolve old issues.

I don’t know if this one will stick.  If it will help me not be afraid when I wake up in night.  I’ve felt this way for so long, it may take me going back to see myself as a little girl more than once, or just take more time to embody this new reality.

However it progresses, I feel like I have a new ally in the leopard who walked besides me in the journey.

I also feel that, as Ted Andrews writes about in the symbolism of the Leopard, that  I glossed over the fact in my life that I felt so alone.   That my mother  really wasn’t there for me and I was never known by my family.    It’s not something I really wanted to believe and feel like it’s the “great loss’ that Andrews writes about.

But now I’m looking to the “Promise of the Panther”.  That accepting the loss creates an opening for something stronger and more beneficial for me.

I’m hoping a part of that will be not waking up scared at night, anymore.


A Package From House of Hearts in India

May 15th, 2018

I got a package from Soma at House of Hearts in India today.

It’s 50 totebags and I’ll be selling them in my Etsy Shop as soon as I unpack them and take some pictures.

I’m glad to still be working with Soma and the women at House of Hearts.  When I visited them in India last year, I never imagined I’d still be selling there work and supporting them in their effort to make a living for themselves and their families.

Just seeing the package brings me back to when I was there showing the women who work at House of Hearts how to make potholders.

I remember the heat, the home made meal (which was delicious) and being excited to work with the women.  We didn’t speak each other’s language, but we all spoke “sewing”.  I  showed one woman (I don’t remember her name now) how to make one potholder and that’s all it took.

I never imagined, that over a year later, I’d still  be selling their potholders and now bags.

Sewing the first potholder at House of Hearts last February

Showing My Soul

May 15th, 2018

I love to see my Show Your Soul poster framed and hanging on Dawn’s wall.

This is the first and only  poster I ever made from one of my fiber pieces. I only have a few of them left.   I love the idea of them hanging in people’s homes all over the country.

The idea of showing your soul is present in all of my work.  It’s what I’m doing each time I create something, whether it’s a six foot wall hanging a pillow or a potholder.

Thanks for the picture Dawn.