Today is a celebration of hope. The indigenous cultures of old and the modern spiritualists and witches of today will be celebrating. So will gardeners everywhere. ‘Tis the Solstice, also known as Ostara.
Seeds in hand, faces to the sun, coffee hot, hose at the ready, we are grateful and joyous that the days will now be growing longer. Oh, happy day. More sun. More Vitamin D. More outdoor play. Spring brings with it baby animals and freshly turned soil and new life.
Ostara celebrates life conquering death. It had been celebrated long before organized religion did it. The word “Easter” comes from the word “Ostara.” Now, Pagans were nothing if they weren’t artists. Eggs were symbols of new life and fertility and were painted in beautiful colors. The Ukrainian folk art depicted on eggs is a fine example of art.
Ostara, the Greek goddess of fertility, loved the painted eggs so much that she asked the rabbit to distribute them all over the world.
The Solstice on the agrarian calendar was the date that seeds began to be planted and new life was born. The death of winter was past and new life has begun.
Our bodies and our lives are a part of nature as much as they ever were, we just kind of hid away behind screens and modern lives and forgot. You will find that death and new beginnings are prevalent right now. The Universe may have a bright new beginning for you. That means death comes first, but know that the sun is shining every day and that life always conquers. Welcome your new beginning. Happy Solstice!
My friends, you must read Big Magic by Liz Gilbert. I keep referring to it. I loved how it stated that genius lands on people, not people become geniuses. An idea has its own entity, its own life and “lands” on willing recipients. Sometimes a recipient isn’t ready for it and it goes to another person. That is the reason we see books, movies, songs that we were going to write. With this in mind, I asked for an idea to land on me. I wrote snippets in California. I asked every day for an idea. And one landed on me last week.
I then sat in front of my computer, a first time novelist, trying to construct a “proper” novel setting. Where do I insert dialogue? How many adjectives should I use? How do I set the pace? I have been reading novels this month trying to see the map of it all.
When I do my work in herbalism, I just kind of zone out, so to speak, and do the work. My hands move deftly to the right plants and combinations, and I can “see” easily. If I were to overthink it, I wouldn’t get much done. I went into that same zone and just started writing. It was as if I were meeting the characters myself as they hopped from fingertips to screen. “Oh, well, hello, nice to meet you!” “Are you coming back at the end of the book? How nice.” The prose and which person I used to speak changes and surprises me. I am not writing this book, it seems, I am just privy to how it is creating itself, much like my paintings, much like my recipes, much like my work as an herbalist, I am merely the middleman…woman.
The book starts in the nineteen thirties. As I was visiting my grandparents yesterday I asked a few basic questions, like did they drink tea or coffee more? Did many folks have cars? I told them I was trying to research the Cherokee land disputes that took place in the 30’s due to land rushes and oil companies. Turns out Grandpa remembers all about it. Grandma and Grandpa took turns illustrating in real life the dust bowl, the depression, the locusts, the farming, history unveiling itself. Many, many things we never learned in public schools. I was fascinated, humbled, grateful.
These beautiful old dolls are among my grandmother’s. As if my day couldn’t get any better, they were gifted to me.
Sometimes I fall into an irreconcilable sadness, wondering if we will ever get our own place, our own homestead, the city life here…I try to make the most of it. I visit other’s farms, I try to save money (try being the key word), I cry. It all seems so impossible. But I can, at this moment, write….
Over the weekend we were a part of the Native American Art and Culture celebration downtown. We diligently promoted it but it was a smaller turnout then we’d have all liked. However, the folks that were there were great, great people and we all had a lot of fun. The art was beautiful and I was proud to have a few pieces alongside nationally known artists.
The Aztec dancers took my breath away. Their astounding headdresses and clothing were mesmerizing. When they blew into sea shells creating a sound that stirred my soul, I moved to the edge of my seat. The drumming was intense and quick and my heart beat fell in line with these ancient dances. Danny, one of the dancers, expressed his appreciation for arts. For arts allow us to keep traditions alive. I have always been a huge proponent of the arts for they teach, they bring hope, they bring people together, they let us express our innermost knowledge, joys, feelings, angst, and creation.
The children dancing stole my heart. Their small feet were like hummingbirds as they skipped and danced the dances their grandparents danced. The Medicine Heart dancers are a troupe of young dancers. This non-profit program teaches youth with any indigenous/Native ancestors the dances of their people so that they won’t be lost. Miss Maryjane Rose will be joining these sweet dancers.
My friend, Rodney, brought out his karaoke system and it was like no karaoke show we have done before! Songs, drumming, children singing, poetry, and voices of expression filled the room. An amazing flute player played his beautiful songs for us. I am hoping Bear might come play at the shop!
We had our glowing medicines out to show people what I do. We connected with people and enjoyed our family and friends there.
I encourage you to paint, draw, write, dance, sing, and support arts by attending festivals, celebrations, and encouraging everyone to find their art, for there they will find their true self.
I will be participating in an art show October 2nd-4th and wanted to get a few more paintings done. One never knows what the artwork will look like at the end. It is a creation of its own and I always look forward to seeing what comes to life on the canvas.
I started by using the frame of my beautiful friend, Tabby, who was recently married.
And from there the medicine gatherer came to life.
If this painting doesn’t sell at the art show it will be hanging in my new shop. A name was chosen. Doug thought The Farmgirl Store but I imagined that folks would come in expecting alpaca yarn and zucchini. I had thought of The White Wolf but then didn’t think too much about it until the next day. I was recording memories and ceremonies for a very good friend of mine who said, “What do you think about calling it The White Wolf?”
Right now is a waiting game (ugh, my favorite…) while we wait to see about the auction on our old house in Kiowa, the second interview for Doug, and what the universe has in store for us. This morning we go see a house in Elizabeth that is zoned commercial. If we can get it rezoned to mixed use (another waiting game!) it could be full of possibility. It is a darling home from 1883. The front of the house is set up like a store and the back has a kitchen and two other rooms and upstairs there are two quaint bedrooms under the eaves. No shower and I do not know how hard it would be to convince the town to change the zoning but my imagination goes wild upon entering the grounds. There is a large yard. I mean large, Friends. We could have a heck of an urban garden right on highway 86 in town!
My paintings are hanging at Grumpy’s coffee shop and I notice they are getting a little slim. One sold before I could get it hung up! I would like to paint and I have always wanted an art gallery. I have a new idea for an apothecary. Not one that has perfectly labeled bottles and exact ingredients and an online store but jars and spigots of single extracts where I can mix things for folks as they come in and offer teas and blends plus some fun creams and salves. Folks know me in town well enough now that I don’t have to have the perfect store front for herbal remedies; they can just come on in and get a custom blend for the ailment they have. I could also resume my homesteading classes, my herbal classes, and any other idea I come up with! I can sell my books as well. All while not leaving my home and farm. Makes the mind wander with possibility, doesn’t it?
Well before I start dreaming too much before my third cup of coffee, we better go see the inside first. I have been in there before visiting prior businesses but not with an eye for staying there. Who knows what is planned for us but in the meantime I wish I had a place to paint.
I have a fun tip for all of you to try your hand at drawing or painting that I learned in middle school. Turn a page out of a magazine or a photograph or anything you want to paint upside down and draw it. You will be amazed at how it turns out! When your mind stops telling you how it should look and you draw it how it actually looks your work will turn out brilliantly. This works great for photographs of people where your mind really wants to step in and boss your paint brushes around but once you flip that photo your hand has to draw it exactly as it is.
Well, my world is certainly upside down and my mind is still trying to tell me how it should look! Let’s see what the universe paints for me….
What did you love to do as a kid? Or a young adult? I used to love to do many things drawing. I do a good job of trying to keep up with my hobbies and passions but a few things start to creep in. My closet is already filled with paintings! Art supplies and frames cost money. What will I do with all of them? I sell about two paintings a year. Now what do I do with the rest? And then there is the ever, well, I am not quite as good as other artists…I try to quiet down these rogue thoughts that try to keep me from doing hobbies I love.
I have moved to an enchanting place. It is the most beautiful and most magical place I have ever lived. I have seen bald eagles, two different types of owls, hawks, rabbits, foxes, coyotes, antelopes, horses running across miles and miles of open pasture, and sunsets and sunrises that have left me in awe. Without the neighbors and buildings so close, like in town, I have been able to greet the dawn as soon as she makes her way over the ridge of prairie grasses and it fills with me a sense of peace as I admire her colors and paintings. I want to capture them as well.
I purchased some pastels and paper from the store and woke up before dawn each morning and painted a different scene from each window. There are more dawns to capture, and sunsets too, as soon as the weather warms. I placed them in frames that were on sale and will take them to a local coffee shop.
If you are an artist, a previous artist, or a budding artist, you can call around coffee shops and ask to hang your art work. Many of them will let you sign up for a month at a time. They get rotating art from local artists and you get exposure and perhaps sell a piece or two.
I am also going to look into Etsy. And art galleries. And displaying art at our shows (though I do not like doing outdoor markets with art. Too nerve racking! One gust of wind and….eek!) The point is, if we love to do something, even if it doesn’t bring us an income, then we should find ways to incorporate it into our lives and if it is only because things are piling up in the back room that we stop, then we should share our hobbies with the world.
I gave art as Christmas presents this year and sold one. This month at the coffee shop I will bring my new pieces and a few of the old.
The landscape out here is different than any other I have lived in, even though I am a Colorado native, it’s like I have never seen my own state before. Out here feels like one western painting after another. Like every piece of fine art portraying western scenes was painted out here. I also bought an inexpensive set of oil paints. I used to paint with oils and I would like to try it again. Why not? When it gets warmer I will be out on the roadside attempting to capture a snippet of what God’s painting looks like.
How to price art? Let’s talk about that. Few can afford fine art these days. Don’t price your art according to the huge dealers downtown. One would be hard-pressed to get $700 in a small town or even a big town these days. Price it reasonably. Then you’ll have more room to make more art and a little change in your pocket. I am going to sell my pastels for $20. After the 20% the coffee shop takes and the cost of frame I will make $11. But I loved creating it. It made me get up and view the dawn, to greet the day, and it was a pleasure pursuing what I love.
What would you like to do this year? Grab a sketchbook? Start quilting? Start a blog? Learn to make cheese? Take a dance class? Finish a project from a long time ago? Go to a knitting club? Let’s spend this year doing as many things as possible that we love!
-18 degrees outside with wind chill. Since we cannot fly to the tropics we are keeping busy on this wintery day! Jack Frost’s creativity and beautiful artwork in the windows inspired some of my own.
While we are inside trying to stay warm it seemed a very good time to put on some music, turn on the propane heater to help the stove along, and work on Christmas presents and art.
Last month I had an idea. I am both fascinated and sad looking at old, dilapidated homesteads, long ago abandoned by the road side. The idea was to take photos of these homesteads then transpose a scene of what it may have looked like in its hay day via paint and a bit of imagination. So one day I had my camera and asked Doug to stop at one of them. I am not much of a law breaker (outside of selling raw milk by share) and I was nervous about trespassing. I kept asking Doug, “Is someone here?” There were no windows or doors on the property so of course the answer was no, save for the coyote pup that dodged under the foundation and a few pheasants that disappeared from our camera lens. I wish I had relaxed and taken better photos but what I came up with sparked my imagination.
This is the old barn on the place. I placed a piece of glass over it and drew this scene…
The photo is underneath to show what it looks like now and the paint shows what it might have looked like then.
Doug put on the Perry Como Christmas album, the heat is starting to penetrate our chilled skin, outside the world is a magical wonderland, inside is a holiday workshop.
You thought the last place we went to was old! The Puye Cliff Dwellings show the life of some rugged homesteaders! 900 AD-1600AD the ancestors of the Santa Claran people lived up on a mountain top in the summer in small rooms of one large building made of volcanic rock with a courtyard for dances. They lived in the rock face in the winter. The homes are extraordinary. The people were farmers. The altitude is the same as where I live. There is no more complaining from me on the altitude or short growing season! If they could do it, I can too. They saved water in a pool. Grew the Three Sisters that I have talked about, corn, squash, and beans. They were raided by other tribes because they had vegetables! Look at this amazing kitchen carved out of stone. A thousand year old kitchen! I cannot wrap my head around that. But, I suppose my kitchen at home is not too small after all. My stove is little easier to use than the one shown!
I feel very blessed to have received this break. Many of our farming grandmas would have had to take their break in the outhouse, find their inspiration while doing laundry. To be able to come out to this glorious state and refuel is a gift. I only needed to be inspired. Lack of inspiration is a terrible thing for a right-brained person. I can’t think of anything to cook, so we go out. I can’t think of how to make the house feasible, so I try to move. I can’t think of what to create, so I feel trapped and pout. It ain’t pretty. Here, I have stored up lots of vitamin D and a few years worth of inspiration.
Everyone we tell that we are from Colorado says, “I love Colorado!” “I wish I could live there!” “I love Colorado, it’s just like here, only green.” And then I realize, we all think the other side is greener! The terrain is the same here as it is at home. My love of here is the endless land without all of the building developement that haunts my state. The adobe structures. The people, the vegetarian chilis, the history! But alas, we live in a wonderful place, surrounded by people we love. That is where I belong.
I am so inspired to get back home. All doors closed on a homestead, so the one we have in town will have to do! Doug flinches when I tell him all my plans as he despises change and would be happier if he just stumbled upon the house being completely rearranged. The dining room is moving. There is more room in the current dining room/living room and I need a place to paint and sew. The art room and office are moving to the living/dining room and the dining room will be on the other side of the kitchen. Space to create! The shop is being slightly rearranged as well with my art being more prominent in the shop. This piece of pottery inspired me to take up a little clay as well.
It is time to set up the porches for outdoor living. To get my seeds in the ground and the drip lines set up. It is time to take the noisy teenage chickens out of the bathroom they are partying in and place them outdoors. I was even granted permission from the town to have goats and sheep should I be so inclined. So, the 2/3 of an acre homestead is on. The Silly Chicken Farm remains and I can get back to writing about what I first set out to do. Learn to be a farmgirl! We’ll be home tomorrow!
The sun is hot, it is good. It warms the chill from my bones. The ice from winter melting into something resembling relaxation. Awe. Inspiration.
Yesterday we stopped in Taos on our way to Espanola. There were a few sites we wanted to see that we missed on prior trips to New Mexico. I am standing in front of the (adorably small…I would have been a giant in the 1700’s!) doors of La Hacienda de los Martinez. A beautiful home built hundreds of years ago with two large courtyards and astoundingly simple beauty. The kitchen was my favorite with its kiva in the corner, coals taken from it and placed under pots of food to cook, the heat rising to warm the bed above. The root cellar was a room with a small window the same level as the rest of the house. No fireplace, no door originally there, just a nice cool adobe room. This is a picture of the grain room. Large bins held barley, corn, and wheat.
I am interested in how people lived a hundred, two hundred years ago. I want to know how they preserved food and avoided the grocery store, how they made yarn, fabric, clothing, rugs. How did they build their homes to be cool in the summer and warm in the winter? What a great time to live that we can avoid the harshness of the new frontier, its diseases and horror, but live as simply as our predecessors and employ some of the same techniques to care for our own families.
The art in New Mexico, the landscape, the colors, the history, the culture (something we don’t have too much of back home), the food, the spiritual vibe inspires me. We had to stop and purchase a small notebook for me to write all of the paintings I want to create and the ideas I have.
Welcome to St. Francis de Asis, our most recent spiritual adventure. The church itself is breathtaking, as are all the churches there. Many of my paintings are of these lovely, handcrafted churches. But this church holds its own gift. A painting. Painted 117 years ago, it has baffled scientists and sceptics alike. There is absolutely no reason why it appears the way it does. In the light, it looks like a rustic, old painting of Jesus. The canvas is coming off a little on the bottom, the paint slightly cracked from years of standing solemnly in places all over the world. When the docent turned the lights out, it started to take shape. The background glows, the sea moves, the figure of Jesus is a dark, billowing shadow, in three-dimensional awe. A large cross is behind him. Not in the original painting! We can see the whole painting. There are no tricks of the eye. No glow in the dark paint. No scientific explanation. And Doug and I stand directly in front of it feeling like we are standing in the room with another figure. In absolute awe. Uncomfortable in our inability to process it. The painting moves the very soul.
Today Pat and Rodney, and their son Mark, who are in Santa Fe for vacation will meet us at Las Golondrinas for a private tour. More miracle churches, shopping, and delicious fare. May your day be filled with inspiration!