Monday, August 28, 2017

Forest Faces: Photography

One of my favorite photography "hunts" is to look for "faces" in natural objects.  Facial recognition is one of our earliest cognitive skills--and it's fun to "revert" to childhood and see what I can find. Here are three faces I found in the cedar in our forest yesterday.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Illusion: A Poem from Easing into the Mahabharata

Illusion American-Style

More than a hundred years ago,
they raised the statue.
Hope carves like that—
stiffening onto stone,
motion, breath,

Today, others want to tear such things down,
laying Paper Mache and blogs and airwaves
bird shit and weathered bronze,
sweating and cursing in the humid air
to make the outside
some insides.

Move the outer world around as much as you wish—
yell you are “for it” or “against it”.

All Time’s child play with objects in a sandbox.

Honor: A Poem from Easing into the Mahabharata

He greets me at the door,
a black and white brown-eyed wagging,
toenails tapdancing on linoleum
so I know that “welcome home”
celebrates in wiggles and long pink tongues.

He lays his head on my lap,
slobber and all, soaking in,
and still I laugh,
untangling unruly clumps around his ears.

There is honor in my dog—
he knows who he is
he sees who I am
no matter what role I am currently playing-
mother, wife, farmer, writer, child
and from that knowing
we both love deeply and well.


Monday, August 21, 2017

Choice and Life: A Poem from Easing into the Mahabharata

Choice by choice
I have dropped enamel
on the tiles of my soul.
The world splashes on the rubbing alcohol
and oh!
delightful unexpected
brilliant oranges to muddy browns,
everything mixing into something
messy and alive.
Patterns I cannot always control
but I have always
brushed in with deliberation
at the edges.
That, my dear sons,

is life.


Sunday, August 20, 2017

You ARE Joy: A Poem from Easing into the Mahabharata

Sunlight on a thousand shades
of yellow petals.
Scarlet maple leaf tapestry
on the shade-dabbed path.
Scent of an ancient birch,
its bark shedding the ground
like parchment inked with
aromatic secrets.
A perfect brown hen’s egg
and a side of fresh cherry tomatoes.
Yarn and paint and tree branches
weaving into art.
His eyes, crinkled with fifty- two years
of smiling
sets down his coffee and opens his arms wide.
Don’t you know?
You ARE joy.


Saturday, August 19, 2017

How to Never Lose: A Poem

I rode hard-
posting without stirrups,
sweating in the 90-degree summer sun,
but my mare, feeling irritable
dragged her feet in the dust,
simply done for the day.
Twenty riders,
six collected ribbons but not me.
there was Sue with her gap-tooth grin,
and Darlene on her wild-eyed Arabian,
and I laughed out loud,
clapping as my Morgan
sank into her bones
and rested one foot in
the hot arena sand.
I learned early if the heart is big enough,
I never really lose.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Play: a poem from Easing into the Mahabharata


I am the dishwasher,
wet bubbles popping on the silver faucet.
I am the farmer
clucking to the hens, laughing.
I am the weaver,
needling fiber and beads into beauty.
I am the lover of stones,
stacking, circling and painting.
I am the mother
sitting in the moonlight at midnight, praying.
I am the wife,
leaning into an embrace, shivering with delight.
I am the friend of the birch tree,
feeling her scar as my own.
I am the writer
riding thundering Kitaro
to allow spirit to flow through

the empty flutes of my fingertips.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Twig Weaving and Weaving in the Round

I've worked on large looms since 1998, including big four-harness rug looms and 7 foot triangle looms.  The hard part about the size of these monsters is finding a place in your home to set it up and what if you want to weave in a doctor's waiting room?

There are two really cheap and fun alternatives to the big standard looms that anyone can make and use.  The first is the twig loom.  Find three or four small branches in a finished size you like.  I've worked as big as 2.5 feet and as small as 4 inches. Here is a finished piece with three small twigs, great for Christmas ornaments or pieces of a mobile:

The weave was very simple, just two lines under and over.  But the frame could be warped and woven in a more traditional tapestry or common weave style.

Here is a stick frame warped and ready to weave on.  The sticks came from our beach and were sanded by the wind and water and snow--they are silky to the touch.  It helped to do a double-turn on each side of the "loom" to help keep the warp threads from slipping.  You can also gently score your loom with a pocket knife and allow the threads to drop into the score lines to help them stay put.

I bound the three interesting twigs together with hemp string, giving it a rustic look.

This is the weaving underway.  

And this is the finished product, ready to hang on a wall!  I created a rustic piece on purpose, and love the swoosh and energy, like a winter seascape.

If you want a more traditional loom, you simply lay two straight twigs parallel to each other, then bind on two cross pieces to make the square, warp it up and weave away!

You can also follow the natural junction of a twig or branch.  Here is a piece I am creating using "dreamcatcher" weaving and regular weaving as well as wrapping the piece with yarn. In this beginning stage, I wrapped the yarn, then warped from branch to branch, doubling up the top warp to create a firm line to weave to.

Here is the same project with the dreamcatcher weave added between branches:

It's really fun to create these projects and easy enough for upper elementary kids to each do a big branch then create a forest along one wall of the classroom.  

Finally, one of the easiest looms to make is the needle point frame loom.  Simply purchase a round needlepoint frame or look for them in places like garage sales and Goodwill.  I found several for $.50 at our local St. Vincent de Paul resale shop.  Separate the pieces of the frame, and warp the inner circle, wrapping thread away from you, keeping the tension, and giving the circle a little turn for the next pass.  When you are done, tie it off and gently slide the outer part of the frame over the inner circle. Tighten the screw to lock everything in place.  

Here is an example of weaving in the round with this type of frame.  What's great is you can then hang your piece from the tightening screw!  If you visit other sites on lines, there are some lovely pieces done with different widths of yarn, dyed fiber and even dried flowers and plants.  Have fun!

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Audio Version of Easing into the Tao te Ching is Now Available!

The latest addition to the Easing Into comparative religion program is out in audio!  Easing into the Tao te Ching features gifted narrator Collene Curran.  This short work allows listeners to gently enter the world of the Tao through ten "great ideas" found in the work.  Explanations of each idea, original poetry for contemplation or opening material for small groups and five probing questions to take you deeper into your inquiry all function to provide a wonderful introduction to this sometimes difficult text.

The Easing Into Collection is slowly growing to include titles from all the major world traditions.  In this time of discomfort with what is "other", I pray it will help people of all faiths understand what is important and beautiful in other traditions. Watch this fall for You Tube teachings from this series and be sure to tune into or download past programs of my radio show, Deep Communion, which are available on the ArtistFirst Radio network.

Here is the link to it's Amazon page.  Enjoy!