Coming back from out walk in the woods, Fate and I are often greeted by the donkeys. Today it was Lulu who welcomed us home.
The donkeys have been working on this mineral block all winter. This morning they succeeded in creating art.
For those of you who don’t know, we give the donkeys and sheep big blocks of both salt and minerals to chew on and lick. They’re both are diet supplements, but the mineral blocks are supposed to help keep the donkeys from chewing the wood on the barn. It doesn’t really work, as long as they can’t graze, they chew at whatever wood they can get to.
I save logs and tree limbs through the year and put them in the pole barn in the winter, but they’re still chewing on the wooden gates that we didn’t cover in wire.
The mineral and salt blocks are about 8″x12″ when they start out. But as the animals lick and chew them they morph, and sometimes into interesting shapes.
When I saw the perfectly round, evenly spaced holes, the same size, I immediately thought “eyes”. But when I propped the sculpture up in the snow and stood back to look at it I saw they belonged to an owl.
It’s looks to me like and ancient artifact. Something I might find in my Language Of The Goddess Book.
Now it’s true that the sheep may have had a hand, (or should I say a tongue) in creating the owl, but I tend to think it’s the donkeys who are the creative ones. The ones who sculpted the mineral block to look like and owl and then made sure that I saw it.
I’ve been working on my fabric painting for the past week but haven’t been posting pictures with the progress that I’ve made.
Usually I love sharing that process step by step.
But last week, as I was working, I was reluctant to share how I was finishing the piece. With each step I took pictures as I often do, but then when it came time to post them on my blog, I just couldn’t get myself to do it.
So I decided to trust what I was feeling, believing that for some reason the timing wasn’t right. I just kept working till I got it all done.
This morning I sewed the last bead on Shekinah.
This is what has happened since I last wrote about it….
After finishing up the 102 House of Representative horseshoe shapes, aka the Ruth Bader Ginsburg Dissent Collars, I saw how clearly the original appliquéd tulip not only had a vulva shape, but also looked like the phases of the moon.
There were four of the circular flowers still on the old quilt, evenly spaced around the center pubic triangle.
The one behind the giraffe’s heads had always been a sun in my mind, so I removed the other three. Keeping one whole, for the full moon, I cut the others to become the phases of the moon, from waxing to waining.
It was Sabina’s comment on my blog that helped crystalize the next step. The outline of the tulip on the upper left of the quilt, called out to me.
I immediately thought of the article that Sabina sent me about the West Coast Button Blankets. These are ceremonial blankets made by Native Americans mostly from the West Coast of Canada. They use shiny shell buttons to decorate the blankets with Family Crests.
I kept thinking of the circle left by the tulip appliqué as the New Moon. Filling it in with shiny shell and plastic buttons seemed only natural.
The “stem” of the tulip, which is appliquéd using white fabric, hung from the red border reaching down to the flower like a descending snake. Using green thread, I hand stitched the outline of the stem then following the creases and puckers in the fabric of the stem, I stitched around the puckered shapes that had emerged over time.
I colored the shapes in with permanent marker. Then I outlined the calyx around the flower with green beads.
Then I knew Shekinah was finished.
Between yesterday and today, I put on a backing and tacked it with a tiny sprinkling of beads.
I’ve written on my blog about the different parts of this fabric painting as I was creating it. All the parts come together to represent my idea of Shekinah, the Divine Feminine in the Kabbalah. It’s the Shekinah who fiercely protects Mother Earth and the Divine Feminine of the women today who are standing up for themselves and each other and speaking their truth.
It is the ancient and the contemporary. It is us, seeking the wisdom of the feminine in our lives right now.
The old quilt that is the beginnings of Shekinah came from a Victorian home, in San Francisco, that had been in the same family for many years.
Most likely it was a woman who hand stitched this quilt. Over the years it has become worn and torn. Whenever I use an old piece of fabric that someone else made, I always think of that woman, even though I don’t know who is was. I try to imagine her life and think about how much more freedom I have to create my art than she did when she was alive.
Linda sent the quilt to me with the hope that I could use it somehow. I do wonder what the woman who made it would think if she could see it. I do hope she would be able to appreciate it, but I would understand if she couldn’t.
Shekinah is sold.
for sale and I have a few people who are already interested in it. If it isn’t right for them, I will be posting it for sale on my blog. It’s 38 1/2″ x 43″ and is $500 + shipping.
I saw the shadow of the smoke, coming from the wood stove, on the snow from the dining room window.
I ran out to get a video, but couldn’t have anticipated the sounds that went along with it. From Socks baaing to our neighbor’s truck rumbling by.
The smoke almost seemed to react to the sounds.
The thermometer read -10 when I got up this morning, but the sun said something different.
Last night Jon was had a fever of 101 and was vomiting. This morning he was outside, naked except for his boots, taking pictures of the sun drenching the icy air, and eventing in its way, in dazzling light.
I instinctively yelled for him to come in side or at least but a jacket on, but I completely understood why he was out there.
The cold, the sun, the light, it was all to spectacular not to try to photograph.
A part of me knows that when I visit my mother, there’s always a backlash. And a part of me always forgets.
It was the day after my visit that I started to get anxious, felt overwhelmed and started to believe that I wasn’t capable of doing the everyday things that it requires to live my life. The old fear was back. The one that surfaces when I visit family.
I’ve been working on how to visit my mother and not get sucked back down in the dark hole of self denigration for years. Seeing her is a trigger. I revert back to the unknown, voiceless person I used to be. It takes me a day or two before I can get back to myself, to who I am now, after seeing her.
The problem arises more from what isn’t said, than what is. The damage is in the silence. In my not being able to speak my truth. In her not wanting to hear it.
My mother is almost ninety years old. I know this isn’t going to change. So I do what I can when I can.
I visit my mother on holidays and birthdays, and sometimes in between. More than some people see their parents, a lot less than most of the other members of my family see my mother.
It’s better than it used to be. I’m better at not lying to myself about what I’m really feeling, about not deceiving myself, which sinks me into that dark hole, quicker and for longer.
Last night, when I felt myself descending, I remembered the article, by Bellydancer, Alia Thabit about how doing something like drawing or dancing re-organizes our nervous system.
She writes that trauma disrupts the nervous system. When we distract ourselves from a past trauma that has us in its grip, it can pull us out of our suffering and make us feel better.
I know this.
I’ve been doing it for a long time. Probably even longer than I’m aware of. I know I feel better when I draw or sew or dance. (I almost always feel great about myself after a bellydancing class) I just never thought of it as re-organizing my nervous system.
The other thing is that each time we distract ourselves from our suffering in this way, we heal a little more.
With this in mind, I took out my sketch pad and markers on Sunday night and did a few drawings.
I wasn’t aware of it as I was drawing them, but looking at them today, I think the drawings themselves speak of the change in my mood from one to the next.
Understanding whats going on in my body, why when I draw or dance or sew, I feel better is helpful for me to know. I think because it feels like proof of what I’ve been experiencing. And It makes sense to me. I can imagine my nervous system rearranging itself back into place as I concentrate on my drawing, that it needs me to get out of the way, for it to heal.
You can read Alia Thabit’s article Why Distractions Are A Good Thing (and why dance makes a great distraction) here.
I went around the house finding things for the still life. It was my monthly art class at The Mansion, Assisted Living Facility.
I thought of some of the first art classes I ever took. The still life set up in the middle of the room, the green bottle, apple, teddy bear and draped fabric.
But I wanted my still life to be more inventive.
Instead of a vase, I filled the red boot, that Fran just sent me, with a peacock feather, a felted flower and a rolled up poster topped with a boll weevil trap painted by the Mississippi artist LV. I hung a necklace from one side of the boot and surrounded it with a donkey statue, a ceramic pony, a wooden and wire angel, an owl, one of the ceramic hearts that Jon gave me for Valentines day and placed its all on a colorful scarf. Most of what was in the still life was sent to me by blog readers over the years.
Everyone got a piece of paper and a pencil and I told them to draw whatever part of the still life they wanted to.
Madeline drew everything she could see from where she was sitting and added a second boot to the drawing. She called it “Madeline Gets The Boot.”
Mary decided to focus on the metal winged donkey that was in the still life. She truly caught the essence of it.
Jean couldn’t decide where to start, so I took the angel from the still life and placed it on her paper so she could trace it. She did the same with the ceramic heart, then began coloring them in with a purple marker.
Sylvie, like Madeline, decided to draw the whole still life. She was sitting across from Madeline so had a whole different view of it. She also colored it in with markers.
Alice smiled shook her head no when I asked if I could take a picture of her and her drawing.
I accidentally deleted the photo of the still life with everyone drawing around it. But I think you can get a good idea of what it looked like from the drawings. Or maybe not. That’s the beauty of doing something like this.
Sylvie was distressed that her drawing didn’t look like a photograph. But I told her that if we wanted a photo of the still life, we could take a picture of it. The interesting part, of course, is that each person interprets the still life in their own way to make their own unique drawing.
Lisa sent me this picture of my Rooster Potholder hanging over her cookbooks in her kitchen.
As often happens, the potholder seems to fit right in.
I heard the gun shot as Fate and I walked thought the pasture to the gate that leads into the woods.
It came from our neighbors house. I assumed they were slaughtering one of their pigs.
When we first moved to the farm, three of our neighbors pigs got out and were rooting around in our front yard. Red helped herd them back to their pen. A few months later, our neighbor came over with bacon and ham to thank us.
Once we got over the stream, the gunshots didn’t stop. Target practice, I thought. So instead of taking our usual path, which is close to and often through our neighbors property, we headed in the opposite direction towards the meadow.
I’ve only walked in the meadow a couple of times. It rests between our farm and McMillan Road. In the spring, summer and fall, it’s tight with brambles, tall grasses and ticks. The time of year, the ticks are dormant, the grasses are laid down with snow and the brambles are thinner and easy to pass through.
Jon and I often walk the dogs on McMillan Road and sometimes Fate will run into the meadow on a scent, but she never goes far. There’s an old wooden trough, disintegrating along the fence line, where the cows who used to graze in the meadow, were fed.
There are brambles and bushes, but even though there haven’t been cows in the meadow for years, there is still only one tree.
From the road it looks perfectly shaped as those big old trees that farmers let grow in the pastures for shelter often are. Unencumbered by other trees, they’re able to reach their branches out evenly on all sides.
Jon and I often admire the tree, it has grace and presence, is witness and sentinel to the land surrounding it.
Always seen from a distance, I never imagined how big the tree really was.
Even when I decided to visit the tree yesterday, I wasn’t thinking it would look so different close up. So what a surprise it was to see that it wasn’t a Maple as I always assumed, but a massive Shag Bark Hickory.
First I walked around it marveling at the long thick shards of bark bowing off of it. Then I spread my arms around it in a hug, my fingertips reaching as far at they could, all of me only spanning a third of its circumference.
I’ve been looking at this tree from a distance for over four years. I thought I knew it.
But being close to it. Walking around it, touching it, looking up into its branches, I knew I was only seeing a small part of it from a distance.
It was like when the first time I stood on the rim of the Grand Canyon looking into it. It looked like every postcard I’ve ever seen of the Grand Canyon. Like I was looking at a mural of the Grand Canyon. I knew the only way I could really “see” the Grand Canyon was to get down into it, walk it, be a part of it.
That’s just what I did with the Shagbark Hickory yesterday. I got to know it, to see it for who it really is, not what I imagined it to be. I thought of us being neighbors all these years and only now, really getting to know each other for the first time.