A Bountiful Crop

After a single digit night, I look outside at the snow covered ground and dream of the garden...

My green babies...foot long green beans, though some reached 18", anyone want to barter neat seeds, let me know...


 That being said, I'm grateful for this time of rest and renewal.

"Take a rest; a field that has rested gives a bountiful crop." - Ovid, from Ars Amatoria

I rest with extra reading, meditation, and baths and I renew with creating.
Lately I've been collaging Artist Trading Cards...

It took me a few years to collect and cut out all these small images.

The start of the organic process:  allowing the cards to come together!

I'll share some of the new ones soon.

~ How are you resting and renewing? ~

 from House of Belonging by David Whyte:

 "When your eyes are tired
The world is tired also.

When your vision is gone
no part of the world can find you.

Time to go into the dark
where the night has eyes
to recognize its own.

There you can be sure
you are not beyond love.

The dark will be your womb

The night will give you a horizon
further than you can see.

You must learn one thing.
The world was made to be free in.

Give up all the other worlds
except the one to which you belong.

Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet
confinement of your aloneness
to learn

anything or anyone
that does not bring you alive
is too small for you.

Candlelight Meditation - How to

Here is one simple method of meditating... begin easy, even 5 minutes is good, and work up to a larger amount of time.  Try to incorporate this into your daily routine.  You will find the benefits huge.
I began almost 20 years ago and I can say it has changed my life, and even my person,
for the better in ways that pervade my every moment.


Turn off your phone and other disturbances,
let household members know
you’re taking some private,
quiet time for yourself. 
You may wish to set a timer for 15-60 minutes.

Light your candle, turn off all other lights.
Find a comfortable position, back straight
so that your energy can flow unimpeded. 

Take 3 deep breaths:  all the way in to the depths of your belly, hold for a moment as you feel it nourish your entire body, and slowly release all the way out becoming empty…and open…
repeat 2 more times, then resume normal breathing.
Let your worries, or anything else you need to release,
go with your exhalations.
Breathe in calm stillness, or whatever else it is that you need.

When you find your attention wandering from the breath
and the candle, bring it back gently, and continue…

The Dancing Flame


Barberry Chutney: Using a Wild Edible You Can Find in the Winter

Barberry - Berberis vulgaris or thunbergii:  a wild edible that is a non-native invasive -
so you get the added bonus of removing the seeds from the wild that way it doesn't spread so voraciously.
Also, it's common, hence easy to find, either growing wild or in the landscape.
I notice that the birds and other creatures aren't too fond of these berries and they will often persist throughout the winter.

As you can see, the berries are easy to spot; they stand out in the stark landscape of winter.

Harvesting the berries can be a pain because of the thorns, but if you take your time and keep awareness you can do it.  Take it as a Zen moment in which you can be calm and present.

1/2 Tbspn. sea salt
1/2 Tbspn. grated ginger
1/4 c. sugar (be sure to get organic or non-GMO as most sugar in this country is
                       from genetically modified sugar beets).
2 garlic cloves
juice of one lemon (or equivalent)
1/8 c. apple cider vinegar
1/4 c. grated onion
1/4 c. raisins
1 tspn. coriander
1/4 tspn. cayenne
1/4 c. fresh barberries

Coriander from the garden... did you know Cilantro seeds are Coriander?  Cilantro bolts so easily, what a benefit that you can then enjoy the flowers, along with the butterflies, then let it go to seed and have Coriander!

Mix all together and cook on low to medium, stirring and watching it until thick.  It doesn't take long.  Don't overdo it and make it too thick and be careful not to burn it; it'll burn easily with the sugar.

This lasts a long time in the fridge.  Use it as a compliment to meats, a topping for flat breads, or as a flavoring agents in soups or grain dishes.

 I like to put it on Pakora; here's one variety:

Look at all wonderful Turmeric color!  When you see that you know you have a potent anti-inflammatory dish!

2 c. garbonzo bean flour
1 Tbspn. ea. cumin and turmeric
1 tspn. salt
dash cayenne

Mix these together, then add 2- 2 1/2 c. broth until no lumps remain, then add

2 c. finely chopped cauliflower
2 c. diced purple onion
bunch chopped Cilantro

preheated 450 degrees

Oil baking sheet, spoon mixture onto sheet, bake for 15 minutes, flipping mid-way through.  You could also fry these in oil if you wanted to...

I love to add Cilantro to dishes as it helps to remove heavy metals (such as mercury and lead) from the body through chelation.

"A Song Taking Flight"


"Wonderful how completely everything in wild nature fits into us, as if truly part and parent of us. The sun shines not on us but in us. The rivers flow not past, but through us, thrilling, tingling, vibrating every fiber and cell of the substance of our bodies, making them glide and sing. The trees wave and the flowers bloom in our bodies as well as our souls, and every bird song, wind song, and; tremendous storm song of the rocks in the heart of the mountains is our song, our very own, and sings our love." - John Muir

'Downy Woodpecker' 2007

the following from this site on the artist REMEDIOS VARO
Excerpts from The New York Times-Science Forum 
"Creation of the Birds."

by Remedios Varo

"A woman with the feathers and face of an owl in one hand wields a paintbrush that extends from a violin hanging where her heart should be. In her other hand she holds a magnifying glass that refracts light from a star onto the page where her bird-in-progress is about to fly away. A Rube Goldberg-type apparatus collects stardust from another window and transforms it into the red, yellow and blue pigments from which the bird is drawn. Here, Ms. Varo portrays the three ingredients necessary for the origin of life: matter, made up of complex molecules that scientists have determined were formed by stellar fusion, deep in the interiors of stars, thus her stardust becomes paint pigment; energy, again the gift of suns, beaming from the star through the magnifying glass and onto the page; and organization, the anti-entropy principle, represented by the Owl Woman's cardio-violin. Thus, through Ms. Varo's profound artistry, the origin of life is transformed, so that it can be seen for what it is: a warm-blooded miracle, a song taking flight."

Mixed-Media Collage as Therapy

 (Following is a re-post from 7-19-11 from another blog of mine...I am consolidating the two into one here).

A bit over six years ago, I experienced the tragedy of being a newlywed widow from suicide.  As part of my healing I created a collage:

I chose a door that my husband had punched when he was frustrated at the beginning of our relationship.  We had discussed how it wasn't a healthy way to respond to anger, fear, whatever... and he did not want to be like that.  Little did I know what it foretold as he reacted to us having an argument about him smoking cigarettes by shooting himself.  Of course, I could expound upon all of this at length, but this is not the time.

The point is that the door was the perfect foundation for this creation - this endeavor that I hoped would help me move forward.  I started by painting the door black.  Black seemed to be my life; I had found the bottom of the pit and it was pitch.  While I painted the door black, I felt I was painting my darkness onto the door, my fear, my guilt, my anger,...  In the process I wailed and so much came out of me as it moved through the brush.  In the end I was left limp, tear-soaked, and laughing.  It was a strange laugh, a heavy-hearted laugh, but one that nevertheless came from light and was freeing.  The darkness had moved from me and was gone - at least for the time being.  As I sat piled onto the floor looking up with tears still falling from my face, I saw too that the door was crying - black tears...they streamed down from where he had punched it.

I continued to work on this collage for about a year, sometimes working on it regularly, other times not. It was one of the things I did, along with being in nature, that I did when I did not know what to do with myself.  I chose to paint the area where he had punched the door - red.  This area represented the gunshot, the explosion that rocked our world in an irreversible way, the blood that I watched pour from his head onto our bed.

I then decided that I wanted the entire collage to be covered with the word "words" because ultimately I had no words - none that could fully express what I had experienced or what I was experiencing.  "Words, words, nothing but fucking words" was something that ran through my mind at the time.

I decided to stay present with the pain and not attempt to escape from what was happening with me, however difficult and horrid it was.  I knew that if I did not move through it, literally through it, I would never get through it and I could not live with this immensity lingering like a demon wrapped around my back.  I had to turn and stand to face it, face whatever it had for me.  So I said to pain "bring it on."  And she did.

Pain is a mighty teacher.  The depths of grief, despair, and pain have much for us.  I will never be the same again of course; I lack the innocence I once had.  But I also experience the Light now in a way that is greater, more profound than I had known.  Experiencing one extreme opens us up to the opposite extreme in equal measure - a gift within tragedy.

I also added some words to the collage that were a vain attempt at labeling, expressing, and describing:















































































Armed Peace





















The Owl represents Rebirth in Native American teachings.

The process of collaging was/is incredibly healing.  I was able to be present with what was occurring in my grief process and by representing it, I gave it a voice.  I put it into expression and it was freeing for me.  It gave me something to do with all the feelings and thoughts I had inside me that I wasn't sure what to do with.  Feelings and thoughts that couldn't exactly be put into words.

One part of the collage felt like I was freeing my late husband.  We used to do a lot of motorcycle riding together with me on the back of his bike.  He wore a white helmet and his hair would fly back from it out to the sides.  I always felt his hair looked like wings.  I had a picture of this that I took while riding down the road on the back of his bike.  I took this picture and put it on the collage, then I painted his helmet to look like the moon and his hair to look like clouds.  I felt I was releasing him, freeing him to continue on his eternal ride.

Once completed, I had this collage in my home for a couple years and it was a "comforting" (if that word can be used at a time like that) presence representing my process that I indeed was getting through.   Then it came to me that it was time to let go even of that, to move on from my initial stages of grief to where I was at present.  I was going to BurningMan later that summer, so I decided to take it with me to the Temple Burn, the burn that occurs on the day after the man burns, a more spiritual and brilliantly solemn burn in comparison to the man burning which is more celebratory.  Essentially this collage became an effigy of my experience the prior few years - the marriage, the suicide, the grief, the healing. 

The collage inside the Temple.

The Temple up close.

The Temple from afar.

Here is the Temple burning.  Check out the dust devils coming off it!

The process of carrying the door across the desert in the August heat to the Temple was also incredibly healing for me.  It was a sort of trial in itself with the wind hitting the face of it forcing me to grip it tight against me and the heat and dust making each step noticeable.  I felt I was carrying something that was heavy beyond weight and when I dropped it off and walked away from it, I felt more than that door leave my shoulders.  When it burned, it marked a transition in my healing process that has led me to this day.  This day where I feel that this tragedy is part of my past and not part of my present.  Something I have worked through.

And now I find myself blessed again to be with a man I want to spend my life with.  We are getting married next month.  This I feel is the last of my grieving process:  learning how to trust again in a deep committed relationship, keeping my heart open when the "protective" part of me tells me to run from this danger, continuing to move toward a place fully of gratitude for what my late husband and I shared, and, as before, being willing to be with the pain that comes up.  When this first happened, the pain was where I resided.  Now, since I was willing to be with it and allow it to come, the pain has left and it stays away for longer and longer periods of time before returning.

Now the pain comes up more as a memory of the past than as an actuality caused by the present.  But it is a deep, pervasive pain, something I hope to never experience the likes of again, and it is Love and marriage that is reminding me of it.  Going forward is scary but I am like a moth to flame - willing to burn away in the light.  I refuse to let this defeat me and turn my heart to stone or to give up before the battle for my heart is fully won.  I am building new pathways, new associations that are whole and healthy, and moving into my future present... 

 ~ ~ ~
I work with people in my home studio or through skype on an individual basis using mixed media collage and/or effigy burning as a tool to heal through crisis.  It does not need to be the loss of a loved one, it can be any traumatic event you need assistance with.  
I will guide you through the process. 
Inquire if interested; sliding scale hourly fee.

~ ~ ~ 

Here is a video of the Temple burning: