Good Monday Morning From Bedlam Farm 6/18/18

June 18th, 2018

We never did get the sheep out into the pasture this morning.

I thought it was the heat and bugs (which are bad this morning) and that they’ve been grazing all night.  But Jon thinks it’s part of Red getting old, and losing his ability to move quickly.  He’s also almost blind in one eye which makes herding more difficult.

I imagine it’s a combination of all these things.

The Powerful, Open, Uplifted Attitude

June 17th, 2018

I was lucky to capture Jackie Slade’s   powerful, open, uplifted attitude  at the Farmers Market on Saturday.

One of the first things I noticed the first time I saw Sisters of the Shawl dance was their attitude.

Later in my Bellydancing class I found out that the “attitude” was an essential part of ATS (American Tribal Style) and that it manifests in a certain posture that is one of the first things I learned.

Marsha Archer founder of San Francisco Classic Dance Troupe “introduced the powerful, open, uplifted posture of the ATS® dancer.” She “felt her job was to enhance the power of the dancer and to make the audience feel privileged to be watching.”

I have adopted this posture into my everyday life.

When ever I feel myself slouching, or even beginning to feel emotionally “down”, I lift my chest and drop my shoulders and tuck in my butt.  It’s not as easy to hold the posture when I’m learning to dance, but I can feel the difference and I know people watching can see it.


The Challenge of Dancing At The Farmers Market

June 17th, 2018

Kathleen McBrien and Jeanne Rogers in the front and Trish Gardner and Jackie Slade in the back

Bellydancing at the Farmers Market has its challenges.

The Sisters of the Shawl, don’t complain about it, they just figure out how to make it work.

The stage is painted plywood, which can be tough on bare feet (some of the dancers wore shoes).  The music can’t be loud enough to bother the vendors,  but sometimes a song is so low you can barely hear it.  Like singing in a crowded bar, most people aren’t paying attention,  they’re at the farmers market to shop.  And, if the weather doesn’t cooperate,(last year it was raining, this year it was one of the hotter day we’ve had so far)  the show still goes on.

I tried to capture the feeling of dancing at the farmers market, in this video,  by showing the people walking by, some taking the time to stop and watch and others seemingly oblivious to what was going on  around  them.

Sister of The Shawl Portraits

June 17th, 2018

Kathleen McBrien.  Kathleen is one of my teachers at Bennington Beledi Tribal Bellydancing.

During one of the breaks that the Sister’s of the Shawl took during their three hours of dancing at the Bennington Farmer’s Market on Saturday, I put my iPhone camera  on portrait mode and snapped some portraits.

Callie Stewart

Trish Gardner

Belly Dancing At The Bennington Farmers Market

June 17th, 2018

Trish, Callie and Jeanne with Callie’s daughter dancing in front of the stage with her mom.

We sat together on a bench at the Bennington Farmers Market,  Kitty (aka Kat)  Farnham,  one of the founding members of the Bennington Beledi Tribal Belly Dancers now retired, and me, one of the newest students.

We were there to watch the Sisters of The Shawl Bellydancing.

Even though I dance with these women in class every week, I wouldn’t miss one of their shows if I can help it.  It’s not just about being there to support them, I love to watch them dance.   And now that I’ve been taking classes for almost a year, I can also watch them and learn.

Emily, who is member of the Sisters of The Shawl wasn’t dancing that day because she has a  booth at the Farmer’s Market where she sells her baked goods and painted scarves and tea towels.

She was also keeping and eye on Callie’s two daughters, who were running back and forth between her tent and watching their mother dance.  At on point one of Callie’s daughters ran up to the stage and started dancing with her mother.

I couldn’t help but think how empowering it must be for a kid to see her mother bellydance.  It reminded me of how Emily said her daughter asked her when she could start bellydancing.  She just thinks it’s what all girls and women do.

This performance was particularly important, because Trish was dancing in public for the first time.

I always like to get videos and photos of the dancing, but I especially wanted to get some of Trish, to help her remember the day.

She looked gorgeous in her layered skirts, coin bra over her choli and turban.  Each dancer creates her own dance costume, although these three elements are an important part of ATS (American Tribal Style) Bellydancing.

Trish dancing with the Sisters of the Shawl for the first time in public.

I had a hard time tearing myself away, but I was meeting Jon and our friend Susan for lunch.   So I got a cheese danish from Emily for the ride home, and left the Sisters of the Shawl while they were still dancing.

Emily and her baked goods and hand painted scarves and tea towels at the Bennington Farmers market.


Jon Calling Bingo at The Mansion

June 15th, 2018

When Jon calls Bingo at The Mansion, (the assisted living facility)  he often threatens to sing the numbers.  It always gets some laughs and kidding from the people playing.  We had a full  Bingo house tonight  and I got this video of Jon singing out the Bingo numbers.

Minnie’s Back Porch

June 15th, 2018

The Belly Dancing Sisterhood

June 15th, 2018

Me wearing my new hip scarf with coins

For thousands of years older women have taught younger women….women have passed on stories and traditions….younger women have taught older women new things. They take care of each other, look out for each other. They are there for each other in good times and bad. They know spending time with their sisters makes things better on a day that wasn’t so great to start with. They lift each other up and support each other. This is the tribal way or The Tribal Sisterhood.”  Julz Irion

Jackie tied her hip scarf around my waist.  “Here” she said, “this will help”.

I stood there like a kid being dressed by her mother, as she tucked the top of the sash into the waist of my Bellydancing skirt.    Normally, someone being so close to my bare belly would have made me uncomfortable.  But Jackie was so matter-of-fact about it, I just felt touched by her thoughtfulness and  grateful.

A moment before I asked our teacher Julz if she could review the Shimmy, a dance move we had learned.

A hip sash with coins on it, like the one Jackie tied around my waist,  jiggles and makes noise when you move.  It makes it easier to feel and hear the movement of your own hips.  And when you look in the mirror and see that sash swinging back and forth, it looks so good, it’s encouraging.

I understand now, that this is what Tribal Sisterhood is.

It’s Jackie giving me her hip scarf because she knows it’s easier for me to learn how to do the Shimmy when I’m wearing one.  And she wants to pass on what she knows to me.  She wants me to do well.

The kind of Belly Dancing I’m learning is called American Tribal Style or ATS.

It was started in the 1980’s in San Francisco with its roots going back thousands of years.  It’s more closely derived from a style of Belly Dancing that was competitive.  Each dancer trying to show up their fellow dancers.  In ATS, “the challenge style”  as it is known, was dropped.  Instead the dancers were encouraged to help each other look and do their best.

It’s based in the feminist idea of collaboration instead of competition.

I had no idea what I was getting into when I took my first Bellydancing class almost a year ago.  Now I find myself involved in a sisterhood that seems to be connecting to a part of me I didn’t know existed, but I feel l’ve been craving  my whole life.



Donkey Good Morning

June 15th, 2018

Pretty Garbage

June 14th, 2018

My overflowing garbage pail

You would think I didn’t save any fabric scraps to see the  overflowing garbage pail in my studio.

I spent the morning doing paper work, but now have a few hours in my studio before going to Belly Dancing.

First I cleaned up the mess from the last couple of days making potholders.  Now I’m getting ready to work on another pillow.