The Braid

July 12th, 2015
Braid

Braid

When our friend Paul, died Jon and I spent three days at Blue Star Equiculture helping out and being a part of the ceremonies that were going on.  When I got home and back in my studio, I wasn’t able to  get back to work.  Everything I tried to do didn’t feel right and that first  day I had this need to do something using my hands.  Something other than sewing, something tactile, like my hands needed to move in a certain way.  They needed to express what they were feeling.  I still don’t have words for what that was, but those feelings came out in a long braid.

I  took the hair I had from Chloe’s mane  (Eli helped me thin it out as the beginning of the summer), yarn from my sheep Suzy,  that my friend Suzy hand spun, and some of the old ribbons that I got from Laura Israel and braided them together.

When I ran out of Chloe’s hair I stopped.  The brain was twice as long as my studio.  I didn’t know what to do with it once it was done, so I hung it in my studio.

Yesterday Jon and I went to another ceremony at Blue Star for Paul.  This time we were all saying good-bye and letting him know it was time for him move on.   It was a ceremony of letting go.  I still wasn’t sure  what I would do with it,  but on instinct, I took the braid with me.

After so many people spoke and prayed and sang what Paul meant to them, we drank water from the river that runs through the farm, from a buffalo horn spilling some in a bowl for Paul.  Then the water from the bowl was sprinkled on the tree where Paul died as we circled around it.  We each made an offering of tobacco into the fire and walked around it entering from the east and leaving from the east.  Symbolizing  the life that comes after death.

In this day of letting go and new beginnings, I thought I would unravel my braid, walking around the horse farm, letting the pieces go.  I was going to do this quietly on my own, but Jon suggested I show it to Pamela first.  When she saw the braid she wanted to keep it.

So I gave the braid to  Pamela do with what she wanted, and that seemed right too.

 

 

 

Intuition Quilts

July 10th, 2015
The first step in making Gary's quilt

The first step in making Gary’s quilt

I started making a quilt yesterday.  It’s something I’m making for a friend whose husband died two years ago.  She gave me a bag with some of his shirts in it last fall.

As I started working on the quilt I thought about how I make my decisions.  I never learned color theory and the only quilting class I ever took was when I was in Jr High School, and I hated it, vowing never to quilt again.

The way I make quilts has nothing to do with what I learned in art school.  Although it is something I learned making my art.  Something, actually, making art taught me.  And that’s to trust my intuition.  That trusting got stronger when I started making quilts.  Especially, since not being in school or around other quilters, I was making the quilts without any input.  It was just me in my studio with my fabric and sewing machine.   I had no one to trust and learn from by myself.

As I’ve been thinking a lot about intuition lately,  my thought went  from my quilt making process to the women who inspired me to make quilts the way I do.  The women of Gee’s Bend, Alabama.  What I read again and again from the different women was that their quilts were not made from patterns (although some are derived from traditional patterns) but from each woman’s or girls intuition.  That’s part of the beauty of the quilts, they are all individual and unique.  Not based on someone else’s idea of how they should look.

And this process was passed on from mother to daughter.  But these women were passing on more than just a quilting process, they were passing on the wisdom of intuition. Like in the Baba Yaga story, when Vasalisa’s dying mother gives her the intuition doll to help her make decisions, essentially,  the women of Gee’s Bend passed on intuition quilts.  And through making the quilts, they were learning to trust and strengthen their own intuition.

And I know that this is how it works, because the same thing happen to me.  As I was making my latest quilt, I had no doubts that I would be able to create a beautiful and meaningful quilt for my friend.  And the way Mary Ann Pettaway taught me to make a quilt, when I went to Gee’s Bend to learn from her, makes me have to trust my intuition even more.  Because I’m not laying the fabric out first, I don’t know what the quilt will look like before I start sewing it together.  But I’m trusting that I’m making the right decisions with each piece of fabric that I sew.  I’m trusting my intuition.

So even if your mother didn’t pass on the wisdom of intuition to you, maybe you’ve been learning it somewhere else.  And like me you just weren’t aware of it.  Because it’s in us and it wants to live.  It’s just looking for a way out.

This is what Gary's Quilt looked like when I left my studio today.  It's not done yet, but I'll know when it is.

This is what Gary’s Quilt looked like when I left my studio today. It’s not done yet, but I’ll trust my intuition to let me know when it is.

Talking Horses, Chloe’s Place in my Life

July 9th, 2015
Chloe with Lulu and Fanny behind her.

Chloe with Lulu and Fanny behind her.

I’m learning there’s a lot of information about horses out there.  Books and movies and videos you can buy and watch on YouTube and everyone’s personal experiences too.  And it’s making its way to me through comments on my blog and facebook, in my email and in the mail.  It’s mostly encouraging and  well intended and I appreciate that people care and want to share and I like hearing many of the stories.  It helps me understand that I’m not alone in this. And I know that feeling of wanting to share and encourage. I do it all the time when someone expresses an interest in being creative.  But it’s also overwhelming and can be confusing.  There are lots of different ways to work with horses and lots of opinions about which way is best.

And I’m seeing that I’m not as passionate about horses as many of the people writing to me are.   And also, I find that right now, I’m not  interested in reading about horses.  I’m the kind of person who learns from doing, then when I have specific questions or problem I’ll go the experts whether people,  books or the internet.  I’ve never been able to read self-help books or how-to books if I’m not actually doing or experiencing what it is I’m reading about.  It’s too abstract otherwise. My brain doesn’t work that way.

Everyone does the horse thing different.  Some people started riding when the were kids, by jumping on a horses back and going. Other people get seriously into dressage or driving.  Some people take lessons for years before going out on their own.  Some people never ride at all.

And I’m just like everyone else.  Figuring it out and doing it in the way that makes sense for me.   I already  have people I know and trust to help me.

I love Chloe in my way.  She’s not my whole life, but she’s an important part of it.  Like the other animals we live with she has her place in my life. I don’t have a passion for horses in general. I don’t want to know everything about them, watch all the horse movies and read all the horse books.  What really interests me is the connection between horses and people.  Witnessing that connection in the Carriage Horse stables in NYC is what got me interested in horses to begin with.  Having Chloe I can experience that connection personally, everyday.   It seems a powerful things, something ancient and a way for me to be even closer to the natural world.

And I’ve come to love Chloe for who she is.  At times, head strong and affectionate, pushy and sweet, trustworthy and accepting.  She moved into the farm and within days it was as if she always lived here.  She gets along with the donkeys and sheep the dogs, cats and chickens and loves people.

I’m not looking for a horse experience that encompasses my life.  I already  have that, where I want it, in my work and my relationships.   So  I may not read the book or article you recommend or answer every email.  But I’ll continue sharing my story and I hope you’ll continue sharing yours.

 

 

 

 

The Shoe Maker

July 8th, 2015

shoemaker 2

It was like stepping back in time bringing my shoes to King’s Shoe Repair in Bennington Vermont.   I was surprised there was actually still a shoe repair shop around.

There was no small talk,we got right down to business.  Some of the stitching on my red shoes was coming out and the velcro doesn’t stick anymore.   The owner, who spoke with an Italian accent, didn’t take my name or phone number, just gave me a yellow ticket with a number on it and told me to come back at the end of the week.

I tend to  have long relationships with my shoes.  When I find a pair I love I wear them everyday and expect them to last.  Years ago, I had a pair of black boots once that I had resoled and  had the tops patched so many times the shoemaker finally told me I had to get a new pair, he couldn’t fix them anymore.

I  love places like Kings Shoe Repair.   In my mind, I still think of it as a Shoemaker’s.  I wouldn’t be surprised if that man put my shoes on the self at night and when he came in the next morning they were fixed by the elves.   It was like walking into a fairy tale going there.  I bet after the elves were done, my red shoes were up all night dancing.

 

 

 

Jon’s Intuition Doll

July 8th, 2015
Jon's Intuition Doll

Jon’s Intuition Doll

Jon was taken with my Intuition Doll, so I made one for him.  His has dog ears, and horse hoofs for feet.   Jon figures things out when he writes.   His truth always comes out his fingers on the keyboard.  Intuition centered in the Hara,  and being expressed through his fingers.  So I sewed a tiny bead on each fingertip.

Hitting A Deer

July 7th, 2015

Jon and Red

I’m feeling a little vulnerable, opened up and even more sensitive than usual after hitting a deer this morning on our way to Blue Star.   I was driving and the poor deer didn’t die instantly, but  didn’t live too long either.  I sat with it until it died.

And it’s true what Jon wrote, that I didn’t ask him if he was okay until after I dragged the deer from the road onto the grass.  But we were  all okay.  And no one else was involved.  And the car has a lot of damage, but that’s the least of it.

I felt better when a truck pulled up and the man inside asked if he could have the deer.  He butchers the deer himself, he said, and it would help feed his family.  Not a wasted life then.

Later Pamela sent me a Deer Medicine Card.  Deer is all about love and gentleness.  Being caring and  accepting of others as they are, not trying to change them or pressure them.  And using persistent sweetness in the face of darkness.

 

 

Kenna’s Quilt to Benefit Blue Star Equiculture

July 7th, 2015
Kenna's Quilt

Kenna’s Quilt

We’ve already raised over $500 for Blue Star Equiculture, so I’ve decided to end the raffle of Kenna’s Quilt early.  I’ll still wait to get your checks in the mail before randomly picking the winner which I’ll announce on Monday, July 20th.   I thank you, and the people and horses at Blue Star thank you!

My Intuition Doll

July 6th, 2015
Intuition Doll

Intuition Doll

I’ve been thinking about the intuition a lot lately.  Trying to focus on the place in my body with it resides, the Hara, just below my belly button.  I’ve been going there when I get anxious about something, or my mind starts getting wacky on me.  I’m practicing trusting my intuition.  For most of my life I  didn’t trust it.  Couldn’t even really access it.  But gradually, over the years, it’s been coming back to me.  And in the past few weeks it’s been getting stronger and stronger.  Decisions are easier for me to make, and I’m not second guessing myself so much.

So all of this is happening,  and yesterday I read the story of Vasalisa in Women Who Run With The Wolves, by Clarissa Pinkola Estes.  Vasalisa is an old Russian fairy tale.  It’s about a girl, Vasalisa who is sent, by her stepmother and step sisters to get a coal, to restart their fire, from Baba Yaga.  Baba Yaga is essentially a witch who lives in a house with chicken feet that dances around.  Before she died, Vasalisa’s mother gave her a doll and told her daughter that if she ever gets lost or needs help she should ask the doll.   Vasalisa sets off into the woods  and all along the way she asks the doll which roads to take until she gets to Baba Yaga.  Once there Baba Yaga gives her a bunch of  impossible tasks to do, threatening that she’ll kill Vasalisa if she can’t do them.  Each time Baba Yaga gives her a task or asks her a question, Vasalisa asks for the dolls help and gives the right answer or completes the task.  Finally Baba Yaga gives Vasalisa the coal and sends her home.

The doll is intuition, passed down to Vasalisa by her mother.  Estes says that intuition has been lost to most of us.  It’s no longer seen as something important.   Like a muscle it needs to be exercised otherwise it withers.  But it’s never really lost.  It’s always inside of us and just needs to be used and fed.  In this way it’s strengthened.  It’s fed by our listening to it and acting on it.  And each time we do this it becomes stronger and stronger.

The other thing that Estes writes about is the need for us to sometimes go into the dark places.  Vasalisa needs to leave her Stepmother’s home, where she toils day and night without complaint.  She needs to know that she can face Baba Yaga and survive.  Now she can live her life without giving it over to the people who would try and take it away from her like her stepmother and step sisters.  Those dark places may be scary , but they always have a gift.

So today, I made an Intuition Doll.  A version of my I’m alive Goddess.  But I gave her donkey ears, because yesterday when I sat in the barn Lulu came to me and rested her head on my shoulder.  And I got the feeling of ancient wisdom from her.  And I  knew my intuition doll had donkey ears.  I also gave her a wide open eye where her hara lies, just below the belly button.  I chose chicken feet instead of boots in homage to Baba Yaga.  And I sewed her on an old stained linen.   A much used and loved linen, passed down from someones grandmother to her daughter to her daughter to me.  Like the passing on of intuition.

 

A Quilt by Kenna Ogg, to Support Blue Star Equiculture

July 6th, 2015
Kenna's Quilt

Kenna’s Quilt

Blue Star Equictulture began their Restore the Bond Fundraiser today in memory of Pamela’s husband, Paul Moshimer. So I thought it would be a good day to join them by raffling off Kenna’s quilt.

Kenna designs quilts and sells their patterns on her website Madison Cottage Designs.  And, she sends me her scraps.  That’s where I got my  fabric to make my Crow Potholders and my Happy Housewife Potholders. But her generosity doesn’t stop there.  When she heard about Paul’s death and Blue Star’s financial needs to take care of the horses, she sent me one of her quilts to raffle off to benefit Blue Star Equiculture.

You can see the beauty and quality of Kenna’s quilt for yourself.  It’s mesmerizing really.  And you have a chance to win it.  It’s 60″x67″ and here’s a detail of the front and back:

Detail of Kenna's quilt front and back

Detail of Kenna’s quilt front and back

We’ve already raised over $500 so I’ve decided to end the raffle early.  I’ll  still randomly pick the winner on

Monday July 20th.  Enough time for your checks to get to me in the mail so you’ll be included.   

Thanks to everyone  for helping support the horses and people who care for them at  Blue Star Equiculture.  And good luck!

 

 

 



Finding My Way With My Pony Chloe

July 5th, 2015

chloe (1)

Writing is an amazing thing.  As soon as I finished writing about my issues with leadership and Chloe, I felt better about it.  Writing helped me sort it out and understand it.  Giving voice to my feelings and saying it out loud, by posting it on my blog, diminished the painful memories.  It also pulled me out of that troubling place and over the past day or so,  I don’t have those doubts about whether I’ll ride Chloe or not.  I know what I want.

I remember when I first got Chloe, I had the thought that maybe I could work with the donkeys more.  Halter train them, or teach them to pull a wagon.  Because I felt it would be good for them to have work. That’s what  donkeys are bred to do and I felt it would  deepen our relationship.  And although I was unsure about this after riding Chloe a couple of days ago, I really do believe that it’s best for the donkeys and Chloe to have work to do.

I also believe that it’s my job to make sure that Chloe learns to live safely in our world.  Chloe is a big pony, if I can’t control her, get her to go where I want her too, to be able to groom her and take care of her if she gets sick, make her leave the pasture so she doesn’t over graze, then I can’t have her living on the farm.  And although I can already do all these things with her, part of our life together includes me being able to ride her.  Because that’s one of the reasons she’s here.  I want to ride, I have this urge, this desire, so that’s part of the deal.  Chloe gets to live here and I get to ride her.   I forgot this for a little while, but I know it now.

And the other part of it, is the part about how I go about doing that.  I know I’ll figure that out.  In my friend and teacher, Eli, I have someone I can go to who I know and trust with my horse questions.  And then, there’s my own instincts and intuitions which I believe in strongly .  I also know more about living with animals that I ever have.  Some I’ve learned  from Jon, who’s been living with and writing about  animals years  and some of it is what I’ve learned from my own experiences  with animals.

The other element in all of this is putting it all out into the world on-line.  And  the comments I get.  Some of them were really good to hear and the ones about leadership were especially helpful, like when  Gaye wrote:  “we all need to be leaders sometimes–otherwise the world ends up getting run by people who feel really comfortable telling others what to do. We need more people who are empathetic and compassionate to lead as well. We need people who truly don’t want to boss other people around”  I can be that kind of leader, I though when I read this.  Or Luann’s message on facebook, a quote from St Francis de Sales:  “Nothing is strong as gentleness, nothing so gentle as real strength”.

Then there were some people giving me advice about how to handle Chloe or where I should go for help.  I wasn’t asking for help  when I wrote this piece.  The piece wasn’t even about how I could get Chloe to do what I wanted.  Like I said, I have someone I know and trust to ask my horse questions.  And I also have my own ideas about what to do.  So as much as I don’t like or want that kind of advice, I do love to hear people’s stories about their experiences with their own horses, or other animals.  Of course, they don’t always apply to my situation, but I find them encouraging and it’s nice to know I’m not alone in this.

The other thing I realized after writing about it, and what Holly reminded me of in her comment,  is that I’m never afraid when I’m riding Chloe.  We already have a certain level of trust.  I never think she’ll do anything to intentionally hurt me.  She’s not trying to buck me or run me into the fence, or anything like that.   And I always feel secure in the saddle, like I have a solid, balanced seat.

My relationship with Chloe is just beginning.  And I’m going to continue writing about it.  Right now I’m imagining me and Chloe riding on the trails in the woods behind our house.  We don’t have a way of getting there yet.  That’s another path that needs to be cleared.  But we’ll find a way, I’m confident of that.