Friday, October 09, 2009

Moving Colours

Enlightenment *significant*small* I use a dye technique that I like to call my signature style. It creates color movement in the final piece, hand dyed roving, handspun yarn, handwoven fabric, handmade garments. The first time I took a dye class and created color movement I knew a long journey of learning and playing and moving was ahead of me. I'm starting to see a deeper level of why dyeing for movement is so important to me. It nourishes my transient soul and brings chance and change to my everyday life. Kids, family, farming, weaving, dyeing, shearing, wwoofing, milking, cooking, separating...

Here, my transient soul has tried to form an existence, on a beautiful piece of property, my beloved farm, but my roots resist going deep and my heart yearns for change, and feet itch for adventure, and my lack of skills and resources have crippled my being, and I must search for a deep healing salve. I'm afraid of doing it together. I'm afraid of doing it alone.

Almost. The llamas are gone and the goats are gone and the chickens are gone and the rabbits are gone. And I loved them. And I wish I wasn't so impulsive, but that's how they all came to me, and that's how they all go.

And I'm packing up water heaters and electric fencing, and feed bins, and wwoofer clothes, and sheets, and all the bits and pieces and it's time to move on.


I will fulfill dreams of craft vending, coastal living, traveling, wwoofing, moving, rolling home living, wandering, camping, festival touring, adventures in parenting, and dreams waiting for awakening. Only Dreams, a small consolation to the pieces of my heart.


I'm still in the stage of muddling about, and musing, crying, and sorting, while my mind takes its time solving the puzzle of my present, and my heart heals enough to look forward to the future.

And so closes this chapter of Natures Parkland.

To Morgan, Cairo, Everest, Marley, and Loretta,

My friends, you are gone, I must learn and move on:
Washing, washing, washing, washing,
washing, washing, washing, washing,
washing, washing, washing, washing,
washing, washing, washing, washing...

To Lisa, Champagne, Billy, Blueberry, Charming Jack and the Beanstalk, Tickle, Revel, Sambuca, Taz, Radar, Daisy, Lavalynn, Violet, Ebony, Mimsy, Rooster, and all my baby chickies,

I surrender you to your destiny:
Breathe and release, pray, believe,
Breathe, release, pray, believe,
Breathe, release, pray, believe,
Breathe, release, pray, believe,
Breathe, release, pray, believe,
Breathe, release, pray, believe,
Breath, breathe, breathe, breathe
release, pray, pray, hope, believe...

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Studio Warning: May contain scenes of creative messiness.

Weeeeeell, as promised, I am posting the little blurb from the show I was in at the library that was a promotion of the Rocky Studio Tour. *sigh* yes, I wanted to do a little blog promo for the Studio Tour as well but it happened last weekend, sooooooo, I'll do a extended follow-up to make up for my bloglessness. :)

"The heart of my farm is the studio. My favourite symbol is that of an interlocking spiral, at the center for me is creative ambition, and from that, everything else radiates.

For example, if it wasn't for my obsession with fibre arts, we probably never would have become farmers. In turn, my fibre arts studio gives me the peace and energy I need when dealing with the adventures of farm life.

My artistic philosophy is that it is much better to create than to clean. A superficial sense of chaos and disarray continually surrounds me, however, underneath it all, there is a rhythm. Create!

I renovated an old, historical log cabin to become my studio. The cabin was the farm's original homestead, built by a man who wanted to escape the world and live in the wilderness. The quality of workmanship surrounding the cabin speaks for itself, the cabin has survived almost a century of use and abuse and stills stands strong and true.

I find the cabin is a source of inspiration for me, the quality, the history, the escape, and the wilderness are all aspects that reoccur in my artwork in various ways.

When I imagine an ideal studio, I think of great, big windows, wide open spaces, and maybe an indoor waterfall. Moving to such a space (if possible) would greatly redirect my creative flow, so I am in no rush to get there, yet. The fired-log cabin studio is my complex sanctuary and I am grateful for the opportunity to be it's tenant."

The photos above are of my studio tour outdoor hand-weaving display (can you see my chicken tractor in the background!) and the studio cabin with all the flowers in bloom. I also had to include my typical lunch/dinner plate, home-made naan bread made using freshly milled grains, salad greens from the garden, olive oil with herbs, and home-made goat cheese. So good!

I have taken a break for the last couple weeks from being a wwoof host and enjoyed messying up the house and having lots of ME time (my darling boys are also away with their grandma in Sweden and I am alone in the house and its so weird!) But now the goats are starting to get MY goat like only goats can and I am ready for more helpers/woofers/farm workers. And the wheel is turning and you can't slow down, can't get off and you can't stand still...

Monday, June 08, 2009


I've been so busy writing for everyone else, I haven't really had time to blog. The latest studio news is that I am part of an "Studio" exhibit at the Rocky Public Library. I'll try to post my little blurb from that later.

I also did my first "formal" interview for the local newspaper and I am so tickled to have an article in this weeks paper thats all about ME and my artwork. Small towns can be so awesome that way, everyone can feel like somebody.

Trying to find the link, this might be it here on page 4c:

Other than that, life has been busy with spring planting. Can't believe it SNOWED two days ago. My tomatoes had already been long gone from previous frosts so I wasn't too mad about the snow, but still??!! My new herbs that i special ordered from ontario are going to have to survive in planters outside the front door, with all this ridiculous weather, I don't dare put them out in the garden. I also managed to plan Grams deck building weekend to correspond with the Rocky Rodeo weekend. I swear, that rodeo puts a jinx on the town, some awful weather always happens for rodeo weekend. Good thing for being hard-core (and now sore because of it), pounding nails through the sleet and snow. It felt great to get muddy with a good work-out and learn some more carpentry skills.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

May Long Weekend Campout

The May long weekend campout is a treasured tradition for many families that I grew up with. Soon we will be having our Reinstated, 3rd Annual campout at the Bone Tree and for the benefit of campers who do not use Facebook I am posting this blog with pics and mealtime info.

We hiked out to the campsite today and I think the trail into the campsite is relatively dry. There is still snow, as can be expected on the 3rd of May but the mud pits look passable.

We bumped into other campers who were also scoping out the site, they looked suspiciously at us, making me think that we may have some competition claiming the site this year. Anyone who wants to come early and spend Wed and Thurs night claiming the site, let me know!

The creek looks quite shallow, I don't know if floating on it will be an option. Upstream looked fairly clear, needs some work , but look at the size of the log jam down stream!

Food arrangements are as follows:

Gram Hazel is essentially providing and preparing the two main means for 4PM on Saturday and Sunday. We are to pick them up at the house and return CLEAN pots and dishes. Gram was very clear, she doesn’t want “people in the house/her kitchen.”

Anyone who wants to bring ‘something’ should bring a dessert cake or square for Sunday OR prepared veggies (washed, chopped before hand) for a veggie tray. If you have a preference and email/comment/facebook me, otherwise I will delegate a task to those who has already said they wish to help.

Everybody is to bring their own drinks, snacks and whatever they want for breakfast/brunch/lunch. Their own dishes and utensils. There is no dishwashing ‘service.’ Everyone is to clean up after themselves and do their own dishes. A dish washing station will be provided.

I need a volunteer to haul out the garbage this year. I need a volunteer to bring heavy duty garbage bags. I need at least 5 people to bring big water jugs to contribute to the communal water container. I need volunteers to chainsaw and chop firewood for the campfire and the wood-fired stove. I need two people to bring either a propane bottle for a campstove or both items to be set up for communal use (breakfast, coffee, tea, etc)

David will not be around to help me out this year so I need lots of VOLUNTEERS! If you are planning to help out, let me know by commenting on this blog, OR, facebooking me, OR call me! 403-845-3575

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Summer Fun Article Ideas

I've been asked to write an article for Edmonton Child magazine, the theme for the issue is Summer Fun and they want an article that talks about farm life. Sooooo, I'm feeling around for some ideas. There are many topics I could expound upon and I'm not totally sure which would be the most interesting.

Some ideas:
-daily chores for my kids: collecting eggs, helping mom make bread
-international workers living and working with us
-baby goats, llamas, bunnies, and chicks
-wide open spaces to run, roll, and play
-campfires in our front yard
-local creek, lake, forest, tobogganning hill

If you have more ideas about what would make a really fun, interesting article involving summer fun, please comment!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Rooster Roast How to Butcher a Chicken

We butchered our first farm chickens this morning. It's something I've been wanting to learn for so long, and not really something that I've wanted to experiment with a whole lot. We selected 2 roosters who have been getting "hen-pecked" and decided to put them in the pot.

Brave Tim, woofer extrordinaire, agreed to do the nasty deed of chopping the heads off. I thought he did a great job of it. We decided at first to try wringing the neck, then chopping it off. With all the flopping around it seemed a little gruesome, so the second bird I held on the block while he found the neck and the head was off with two quick strokes. I wasn't quite prepared however for all the flapping around after the fact, the bird was so calm before the head came off. We all got sprayed in blood and I've learned to keep a better grip on those powerful wings for next time. We dipped the birds in a big pot of boiling water then hung them on the clothesline to pluck out all the feathers.

So many things I learned! For one thing, it's not necessary to pluck the difficult wing tip feathers cause you cut the wing off at the first joint later anyway. Also, that dead chicken smell really hangs around, I'm so thankful I don't work in a chicken factory. We brought the plucked birds over to Grams house and begged her instruction, she was so hilarious. Of course, we didn't know to singe the hairs off the body with a bit of burning newspaper first. Then, the first cut went above the asshole ("it's not a vent, it's an asshole!") and the breast bone had to be lifted to make room for digging in and pulling the guts out. Unpleasent indeed! I was super paranoind about busting the bile sac open, small green bean shaped thing. It would wreck the whole bird if I did. Tim and I managed to pull all the guts out, after Grams showing us how on the first bird. Then the asshole was cut out, the neck trimmed, the esophagus and other tubing removed, the lungs scraped off the back bone (paper towel in hand is great for the really slippery parts), the oil gland on the top of the tail removed, the big crop taken out up by the neck. Oh yeah, that's another things I learned, to starve the chicken before killing it so the crop isn't so full of food. Grams said she's the best gizzard cleaner in all of Alberta and showed us her expertice. It was truely educational.

The whole experience confirmed in my mind that you should throw out the book and beg, plead, or badger someone into showing you how. It really is the only way. That's why I love being a woof host. There are so many things we've had to learn the hard way, it is such a joy for me to show other people the shortcuts we've learned and share the wonderful farming life that we live. I wish I had been smart enough to do some woofing myself before starting my farm adventure. It's something I still hope to do someday.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Spring has sprung and it's pouring

How does the saying go.... "it never rains but it pours" or " when it rains it pours" I'll look it up someday. In anycase, whether or not I have the saying right, my life is in the midst of the proverbial downpour.

Starting with the toilet, ahhhh yes, the toilet, modern necessity and trouble-maker, our toilet has been giving us grief since the tip of a lazer sword was secretly flushed down, leading first to vigorous plunging, then snaking, at which point the felon materialized. A small matter, if left at that, however, the vigorous plunging is now being blamed for seperating the sewage pipes below the trailer causing a major raw sewage washout. Probably 5 days of ewww de toilette from 5 adults and 2 children dispersing itself under our trailer.

The kitchen sink drain also seperated near the boys playroom, I thought the smell was coming from pissy pants that I had yet to discover.

On top of that, dh lost his job and is away looking for more work (we're actually happy, though still stressed), Papa next door broke his ankle, and I'm trying to prepare myself emotionally for a 5 week seperation from the loves of my life when the boys go to Sweden with their grandma.

Yes, I'm venting, but it's such a perfect venue. My favourite part of today was watching the baby goats push each other off the big playground tire, life isn't that bad.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009


I can't believe it!!! Triplets were born today, just after a big snowstorm with 5 cm of snow. We had Champagne outside and Lucas came running in the house to say that Champagne had her babies. We bundled the babies up, still wet and covered in goo, and rushed them into the barn where warm straw was waiting for them. I could sit and watch Champagne mothering them all day. They talk to eat other constantly and the babies flop around seeking her teats and usually finding a leg or an elbow. Champagne did an impressive job of licking them all clean and dry. She keeps fluffing up the straw to keep them warm and nuzzling, licking and always talking. It's so beautiful. We've just put the other 2 goats in with her and I have to go check them soon to make sure Billy is not stressing the new mommy.

I've already named them, Tickle (with the airplane ears), Revel (black and white with LaMancha ears), and Charm (brown and white). I stayed long enough to make sure they all got a good guzzle of clostrum, but Champagne was trying to push me out. I'm trying not to be too nosy but they are just so darn helpless looking. ALL GIRLS! Hooray! They're keepers!

Random Pictures, wwoofing and kids

Just some pictures, I don't have much to say today.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

How to make the Greatest Playdough!

As promised, I will now share the secret of how to make my favourite playdough. I have found the secret for this recipe is constant stirring and adding the ingredients in the right order. I would suggest you use a heavy wooden spoon cause the dough gets pretty stiff towards the end.

Recipe for Anna's Amazing Playdough

1 cup warm water
1/2 package kool-aid (or food colouring)
1 cup flour
2 TB oil
1/2 cup salt
1 teaspoon cream of tartar

Directions: Put water and kool-aid in to a medium sized pot. stir to dissolve kool-aid. Heat at medium low temperature. Add flour and mix well, add oil, keep mixing, add salt, mix well. Add cream of tartar and mix mix mix. As the playdough heats the cream of tartar will make it start to jell. Don't stop mixing, it takes a bit of elbow grease at this stage. When it looks like almost all the flour mixture has been converted to playdough, take the pot off the heat and let it rest in the pot for 1 minute. Squish it around a bit to make sure all the water has been absorbed. The playdough should be not be too hot to handle. If you over-heat it, the playdough will become stiff quickly, if you under-heat it, there will be goey sticky sections that did not get jelled.

Make all the colors of the rainbow if you want! Sometimes I add a little essential oil to make it smell more sweetly although the smell only lasts for one day.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Baby Bear Wipes - Making Disposable Diaper Wipes

I started making my own diaper wipes when my youngest got BAD diaper rash as a baby. His skin was very sensitive to the chemicals found in store-bought diaper wipes and I couldn't find a natural alternative in our local stores. I tried using washable cloth wipes but we don't have a dryer so the cloth wipes would get very stiff and scratchy after hang drying, and then there was the smell factor (phewwww!).

I've found numberous wipes recipes floating around, ranging from goat udder wipes to baby oil diaper wipes. I've fine tuned the recipe a bit and I now make and sell these wipes on my online store and at markets. I hesitate to call them "all natural", "chemical free", organic, or eco-friendly, cause many of these terms are being missued by corporations, etc, so I just call them "Baby Bear Wipes".

Baby Bear Wipes can also be used as a handy make-up remover, moisturizer, diaper wipe for sensitive skin, gentle alternative to chemically infiltrated store-bought wipes, hand and mouth wipes, emergency sponge bath, deoderant, farmers market table cleaner, you name it!

It may be difficult to find the exact ingredients I use so I'll provide alternatives in brackets (like this).


2 kg peanut butter jar, washed and sterilized

1 BOUNTY select-a-size paper towel, cut in half width-wise with a sharp knife and take the cardboard core out (must use BOUNTY, other paper towels will turn to mush, cut in half it will look like a toilet paper roll)

1 1/3 cup pure water (sterilize tap water by boiling for 10 min)

2 teaspoons phosphate-free dish soap (most biodegradable dishsoaps will work)

1 tablespoon tea tree bath oil (not essential oil, I used to buy bath oil from Melaleuca, am currently looking for an alternative)

5 drops tea tree essential oil

5 drops lavender oil (use any essential oil that will suit your needs best, rose, neroli, calendula, etc)

Pour all the liquids into the peanut butter jar, shake to mix, then squish the paper towel into the jar. To use wipes, pull the paper towel from the center of the roll (should be positioned upright in the center of the jar). It takes about 12 hrs for the wipes to absorb all the liquid evenly.

If this sounds like too much work for you, feel free to buy wipes from me! I also sell them at Earths General Store in Edmonton. I hope there will be many more happy baby bums thanks to this recipe.

Next up... how to make the absolute best most rocking awesome play dough ever, detailed recipe and hopefully some pictures of baby goats (although baby goats and playdough are not seemingly related)

Friday, February 27, 2009

Creating Kindness

How to Create Kindness.

I live on a farm, in the wilderness. I'm surrounded by forests, lakes, streams, beauty, animals, children, gardens, sunlight, and .......... violence. The hardest part of living out here is dealing with violence. Animals, they kill each other, sometimes just for fun. A weasel once came during broad daylight and killed every chicken, except one. One chicken survived. And the hailstorms, in half an hour, an entire crop of food was flattened, demolished. All that work and love, gone. The wind, blowing strongly from the southeast knocks the trees over. The sun burns the ground, the earth cracks and the soil is blown away. The children, they fight with meanness.

In a moment of anguish I sought kindness. Where can I be filled, how can kindness be found, and taught? And I was given this song. And a dance. And my own kindness was unbound. I created kindness, and around my spirit, something responded. As a spiritual being, have this ability that no element or animal has, though they lend their voices. And now I sing kindness all around.

Dear Light, shining round
Fill our hearts and warm the springs.

Dear Rain, gently fall,
Teach us with your balancing.

Dear Earth, warm and cool,
Shelter children, and feed us.

Dear wind, bring us seeds,
Blow into us a nourishing breeze.

Kindness and Love abound!
Surround Spiral, surround!

Kindness and Love abound!
Sing the Presence round!

Let your own voice be raised in song, let the earth be filled with glory!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

How to Dye Cotton Warp in a Pot

My signature for many of my weavings is hand-dyed yarn. Playing with colors is my favourite thing about making cloth and it is so deceptively simple to create a kaleidoscope, creating movement and interest in the weaving warp yarns.

I order all my dyes from ProChemical in the States. I have only ever had a couple problems with the dyes, some colors, such as brown, will not take no matter what I do. Most of the other colors are great. I am still on the valiant search for the perfect red dye that will not wash out as fuschia or blank pink.

  • ProChemical Dyes

  • After winding a light coloured warp, I tie a bunch of loose choke ties to keep the warp from tangling in the pot. The warp then gets soaked in a pre-mixed soda ash solution. I have been dyeing cotton for long enough that I don't measure soda ash anymore, just close my eyes and pour till it feels about right. The soda ash FIXES the dye to the cotton, there will be no bright colours without it. After donning latex gloves, I squish and press the warp into the soda ash water until it is totally soaked and saturated. Some mercerized cotton yarns are infuriatingly water resistant so this step can take awhile, but it is very important for thorough dyeing. I have heard of pre-washing yarns in a detergent but I like to skip that step.

    After the yarn is nicely squished and soaking in the pot, I dump out the excess soda water so the warp is still soaking wet but not floating in water. Then the fun part begins. I sprinkle dyes on the warp somewhat haphazardly. The power just goes right into the pot. I usually flip the whole mess over a couple times and use my highly sophisticated plastic utensils to sprinkle the dye powders and work them into the yarn. Once there is enough dye has been worked into the warp, I force myself to forget about it completely for 8-12 hours. I've made the mistake a few times of prematurely washing out the dyes or messing around with it out of curiosity, but I find the best results are had with patience.

    After dyeing, the warp gets rinsed. There is a fine line between needlessly tangling the warp by over rinsing, and not rinsing enough. I tend to err on the side of not rinsing enough and walk around with coloured hands for a few days after dressing the loom.

    I wanted this particular warp to have subtle colours to match the accent beige yarns I had planned for the warp. That's fairly easy to obtain by reducing the amount of soda ash used before dyeing. For really brilliant colours, I use a shorter warp with lots of fixer. Trying to get brighter colors by adding more dye powder tends to create muddiness and for some reason, all the colours blend together to become purple! One of my least favourite colours next to pink. :)

    I used to try recording how I placed the warp in the pot and how I distributed the dyes over it, as if I could ever duplicate it again. I have tried and tried and tried to duplicate a particular warp that I dyed about 5 years ago and it has proven to be impossible. Rather than bash heads against the wall, I'm now content to accept all my weavings as unduplicat-able and I have found that omnipotent imagination never runs out of ideas.

    Tuesday, February 03, 2009

    How to Become a Woof Host

    Woof is an acronym for World Wide Workers on Organic Farms. Also known as wwoof, woofing, farm travel, volunteer traveling, homestay, you get the general idea.

    I can't even count the number of people who have asked me "How do you get these workers?" "How can I do that?" "Do they really work for free????!" "You're organic?" Ok, ok ok!

    So, for starters, we live on a farm/ranch. We have 120 acres of mostly forested property that has never been "farmed" before. We have a small herd of llamas, a small flock of goats (a flock right?), and a small bundle of bunnies (I don't know what you call a group of bunnies) and miscellaneous chicken. We are not certified organic, I would say we are probably more "granola" than organic, meaning we have a healthy lifestyle, we strive towards sustainable living, we love the color green, we eat locally grown food as much as possible, and we love bugs.

    Having said all that, we also love to share our love for nature and healthy living with friends and family. When I first heard of wwoof canada, I knew it would be a perfect match for our farm and lifestyle, which leads me to the next step, becoming a farm host. Wwoof Canada has a lovely, user friendly website here:

  • Become a Host

  • If you have a farm and you support the organic industry, follow the steps on the wwoof host site, pay $50 yearly registration fee, and Da Da! Become a WWOOF Farm Host! It's as easy as that!

    Well, actually, it's not quite that easy cause the next step is getting woofers to come to your farm. I have a lovely little write up describing our highly desirable farm location that you can find here and you can also find "New Woof host guidelines" and "the ideal woof host/woofer" indicating what a woofer is expected to do and what a host is expected to provide:

  • Solstice Studios and Farm Woof Host

  • The above link is my write-up that woofers read and if they are interested in woofing. If they have paid their fee and got their woofer #, there is also contact information, email, phone #, address. Most woofers email me saying they are interested and do I have room? I respond to about 3 email a week. Last year I had 7 woofers stay with us for varying lengths of time. If you do the math, that's a whole lot of emailing and not a whole lot of turn-out. I find that many woofers end up changing their plans along the way, or get burnt out and go home before finishing their trip. Lots of woofers contact many hosts before committing to one, and very few woofers see a description and book ticket the next day. I have had woofers who phoned me, space was available, and they showed up the next week. I've also had woofers who planned months in advance. (Side note: woofers, plan to take breaks between farms so you don't get burnt out!)

    The last and probably most difficult step in becoming a woof host is flexibility and honesty. We are flexible enough to have rarely turned a short notice woofer away. I'm still learning how to be completely honest about communicating possible difficulties a woofer might face when staying at your farm, such as renovations in the only bathroom, noisy little kids in your face 24/7, small living quarters, and cold weather. Sometimes it's hard to see how your lifestyle might be difficult or uncomfortable for someone else. Domestic problems, illness, transition periods, inappropriate accomodation, and lack of work are all good reasons to NOT have woofers. I have turned woofers away in the past for all of the above reasons.

    Sometimes it is challenging for me as an individual to be a host cause I am accountable to keep it together and create a positive, uplifting environment for my woofers. I like having that accountability and that challenge. My kids love having woofers around to play with and boss around (or pretend to) Many of my woofers have said that the best things about staying here was the kids.

    This is a general overview of being a woof host. If anyone has anymore questions about becoming a woof host or a woofer, please feel free to contact me cause of course I am happy to answer questions. In fact, I might talk your ear off.

    (photos: looking out the front door, woofer summer accomodation bus, bus interior, humble *dumpy* home improving steadily, shared bathroom very very small)

    Thursday, January 29, 2009

    How to Create a New Direction

    I tend to journal in fits and spurts, usually only writing when I'm excessively moody and turning out pages and pages of bitchy criticisms, mostly directed at myself, eventually trying to come up with some inspiring affirmations, but mostly ending on a pleading note for enlightenment from the higher powers that be. Absolute nonsense, for the most part, yet in amoungst all these ramblings is usually found a grain of truth, as was the case this morning when I wrote "there is this invisible barrier seperating me from the fullness of myself". It's not something I would usually reread, but later today this little light turning on in my head that exposed me, giving me new direction and filling me chock-full of inspiration! Amazing! And totally unexpected, but correlated to my morning writing. Of course, there are books and workbooks and seminars galore on this exact sort of thing (The Artists Way, to name one) and all sorts of 12 step programs to unleash your inner muse. If you have hours and days and years to wade through it all, that's wonderful, but for those who need to find a new direction soon, I would suggest this:

    Empty your brain, be moody and mad, then relax your mind and your sub-conscious will do the rest.

    I've been to 3 art related meetings in the last 2 days and managed to bask in the glow of some highly creative people. It has helped give me the uplift I have so desperately needed. I've been creating art without inspiration, and though still enjoyable, it can be tedious. In the last couple months, while my creative juices have stagnated, I haven't been particularly happy with anything I've made. Hearing the same thing from other artists brought perspective, affirmation and maybe even gave room for epiphany.

    I finally feel true inspiration for this blog. Up until now it has been amusing, anecedotal, and probably boring. I can't say I've put much thought into themes or content. BUT NOW (dum dum da) my new direction for the blog is going to be based on "How to's". If you ever catch me reading a book (in my life it doesn't happen often), chances are it's going to be a "how to" book. It's part of me! I have always been aware of my strange choices in literature but perhaps never SEEN. And so, expect to read in the near future about my own personal how tos: teach beginners weaving, build a barn out of a school bus, drywall incorrectly, milk a kicky goat, catch an escaped rabbit, card exotic wool, spin for speed and softness, dye wool, birth naturally, breastfeed, potty train a 6 month old, make non-toxic disposable diaper wipes, get 4 bowls of popcorn out of one pot....
    Honestly, I could go on and on, and I will! Won't it be fun! If you have anything your desperately dying to know "how to", drop me a line, I could use a place to start :)

    As for weaving stuff, I have new inspriation for that too! I'm going to be using my facebook site for more studio photos and promos, etc. This new direction for my woven art is going to be AMAZING I just know it! But it's a secret!!! Ha ha!

    Become a fan on facebook and expect updates (my apologies in advance, this site will take a while to get good lookin)

    Sunday, January 25, 2009

    Happy Robbie Burns Day!

    I'd like to take time someday to research this guy a bit more. The Ploughman Poet. There's something about him that just strikes a chord. Maybe it has something to do with working on a farm, trying to make ends meet, and at the same time, trying to fulfill an urge to create beauty and reach others.

    Here he is described:
    His person was strong and robust; his manners rustic, not clownish, a sort of dignified plainness and simplicity which received part of its effect perhaps from knowledge of his extraordinary talents. - Walter Scott

    And I love his writing style:
    I walk out, sit down now and then, look out for objects in nature around me that are in unison or harmony with the cogitations of my fancy and workings of my bosom, humming every now and then the air with the verses I have framed. when I feel my Muse beginning to jade, I retire to the solitary fireside of my study, and there commit my effusions to paper, swinging, at intervals, on the hind-legs of my elbow chair, by way of calling forth my own critical strictures, as my, pen goes. - Robert Burns

    Here's my favourite poem by Scotlands Favourite Son (and why shouldn't it be!)

    Yestreen I had a pint o' wine
    A place where body saw na;
    Yestreen lay on this breat o' mine
    The gowden locks of Anna.

    The hungry Jew in wilderness
    Rejoicing o'er his manna
    Was naething to my hiney bliss
    Upon the lips of Anna.

    Ye Monarchs take the East and West
    Frae Indus to Savannah:
    Gie me within my straining grasp
    The melting form of Anna!

    There I'll despise Imperial charms,
    An empress or sultana,
    While dying raptures in her arms,
    I give an' take wi' Anna!

    Awa, thou flaunting God of Day!
    Awa, thou pale Diana!
    Ilk star, gae hide thy twinkling ray,
    When I'm to meet my Anna!

    Come, in thy raven plumage, Night
    Sun, Moon, and Stars, withdrawn a'
    And bring an Angel-pen to write
    My transports with my Anna!

    The Kirk and State may join, an tell
    To do sic things I maunna:
    The Kirk and State may gae to Hell,
    And I'll gae to my Anna.

    She is the sunshine o' my e'e,
    To live but her I canna:
    Had I on earth but wishes three,
    The first should be my Anna.

    Robert Burns

    Saturday, January 24, 2009

    Cold Feet

    yup, my feet are cold, and it is -25 and probably will reach -30 by midnight. Our pipes are frozen, which can be nice cause I have the day off from doing dishes, laundry, and showering! actually, I can't shower cause our hot water thingy froze, then broke. but, I have been called a hippie before, and I know just where to go. the swimming pool! the water pressure there is AMAZING! not at all like our rinky dink water savr shower head. so now dh is trying to thaw the vintage paloma, a propane powered on-demand hot water heater that was once used in a tree planting camp. good thing we got a ten ticket pass to the swimming pool :)

    Sable, my black beauty, is here beside me farting and having doggie dreams. Gawd, what did I feed here today?! Oh yeah, a left over pig foot from our Solstice Celebration pig roast. It was a truely cold and celebratory time. You had to have Viking or Old Yugoslavian blood in you to enjoy the huge bonfire in -20 degree temperature. Owww, my feet are really cold, might have to melt some snow to cook and put in the hot water bottle. Going to bed with cold feet is the worst. Actually, no, going to bed with hypothermia would be worse, but at least you'd be laughing!

    Thursday, January 22, 2009

    Heddle Meddle

    Bonus points to whoever can say what's wrong with this picture. Actually, I'll just tell you! If you look Veeeeery Closely, you will see that there are approximately 50 threads left in the reed of this loom and only approximately 25 heddles, none of which are on shaft 1 or 4. Yaaaaaawg! Now, I could also show you another photo, yet to be taken, of a mid-sized pottery vessel filled to the brim with empty heddles, all of which are about 2 cm to big for my table loom. WHY does the SAME company make DIFFERENT sized heddles for table looms and floor looms? Yaaaaaaawg! I was so excited to get this peice up and operating on the loom, I tried a quick and dirty dye technique on my warp and I'm anxious to see how it worked. I also have numberous backed-up orders for colourful tea towels that this warp could easily be turned into AND I'm desperately broke; meaning I really need to catch up on my orders and make a few gaurenteed sales (before my next car payment is due!) Yaaaaaaaaaaaawg! Ah, the life of an artist! Who knew that strategy and problem-solving had everything to do with being an entrepreneur. I have yet to grasp this whole concept of planning ahead (just ask my animals, they KNOW). Oops! Scrap that, lets think of an affirmation. I am a highly organized business woman with a strong and reliable cash flow. Anything I need to learn comes easily to me and I have all the money I need to finance my artistic endeavours.

    Next blog I hope to post some pics of my 4 new roosters. That's right! 4! Right now that's 2 roosters for every hen. I kinda thought my hens could handle a little bit of spoiling after a very long and lonely winter.

    Friday, January 16, 2009


    I have been trying like crazy to update my profile pics but my computer keeps kicking me out when I try to change the picture. Also happens on facebook and etsy, and it's #^$*&^()%$#@ infuriating! Must be one of those "old computer riddled with cyber-disease and on it's last legs" kinda thing. However, this old Mac has served us very well and out here in the sticks where we have no high speed, it's WAY faster online than any PC could ever be. Go Mac! We even bought it "second hand", scary I know.

    I'll post my little photos here and if anyone wants to comment on which one makes the best headshot, it would be greatly appreciated :)

    Monday, January 12, 2009

    More Doula Stuff

    I've been musing and waffling more on the subject of labour support. I think I was wrong when I previously said that alot of women don't want to feel empowered during birth. After having carried a baby for 9 months, dreaming of seeing baby's face and holding them, how could a woman not feel empowered by the birth of her baby The knowledge that she carried, nutured and was physically connected to that amazing being, it's empowering in and of itself.

    I'm scrapping the word "support". It makes me feel like another cog an institutionalize machine. I would rather been seen as standing BESIDE a birthing mother, uniting in her struggle. Not carrying her through it, or serving up some chivalrous wisdom. I hear the word support and I picture a wounded soldier being supported by his comrades. I don't picture a healthy woman full of vitality and strength witnessing her baby's birth and cradling the little loved one in her arms. Looking at it this way, I don't like the word labour support, or even the word doula for that matter (which means female servant to another female). I'm going to redefine this whole thing that I want to be doing. Birth sister. Woman circle. Labour dancer. Blessing Woman, Courage Finder, Light Seeker. Mother to Mother.

    Great. NOW how am I going to write the "The Purpose and Value of Labour Support"? *sigh* Maybe DONA is not the right thing for me. (more thinking)

    Sunday, January 11, 2009

    Winter, Wool, and Woofing

    The boys, Chiaki and I had a great trip to Banff recently. Looking out of the window of the Banff Springs Hotel, I experienced a surreal sensation of peace and beauty. The sunset on the snowy mountains was so moving and the lights of the hotel glowing in the foreground looked like they were straight out of a fairy tale. I wanted to capture the moment forever and thanks to the super high tech Canon camera I got for Christmas, I managed to get a pretty amazing shot. I think this will be my happy place for a little while. :)

    The last of the Christmas decorations have come down and I have been craving a studio fix and the chance to try out my new spinning wheel. I'm dyeing and spinning a skein a day. It's been fun digging out bags of wool, I was so excited when I discovered the white alpaca wool that was given to me this summer doesn't need carding! I basically spin it right out of the dyepot. So fun! And so soft! As soon as I get brave enough I'm going to try some angora. I've been holding off for fear of not liking it, or something like that. Here I have all these bunnies and I still don't have a full skein of angora yarn. Next, for sure. Same goes for the llamas. Still waiting to work with that wool. Once again, I think I'm afraid that after all my time, money and love, I'm not going to end up liking the yarn having been spoiled by so much alpaca.

    For the last month we have enjoyed getting to know Chiaki, our woofer from Japan. She is so kind and dedicated, happy to help with all kinds of odd jobs, including dry wall, milking goats, herding llamas, cleaning bunny homes, the list goes on and on. Of course, when Lucas heard we were mixing up MUD, he had to get his hands into it! Creative drywalling!

    Thursday, January 08, 2009

    What is a Doula?

    I've recently attended the third birth I needed in order to complete my DONA Doula certification. Since the DONA workshop in May, with Elaine Montgomery, I have attended 5 births and I'm now venturing into the stage of literary composition, a large part of the certification process. The question is posed: What is the purpose and value of labour support (in 500-1000 words). Ack! I'm tempted to write from a purely professional viewpoint, basically quoted the mutitude of books I have read on the subject, and come up with a very formal essay that any university professor would love, BUT, I'm not particularly fond of professors opinions when it come to writing styles. My instinct is to take a more personal and anecedotal stance, creating prose that would be interesting for non-professionals to read, perhaps even humorous and emotional, BUT, I really don't want to flunk certification due to entertaining writing skills. Hmmmm, finding a balance would be nice.

    I have found my experiences as a doula to be humbling. Mostly cause my intuition sucks, and I previously thought it was pretty good. AND although I beleive a doula's main purpose is to facilitate a positive birthing experience for the family, especially the mother, in my heart what I want is for all women to feel empowered by birth. Not all women want that.

    I would say, as a generalization, that most women are content to hand the birthing reins over to the institution and bask in the pandering and control that most health professionals love to administer. There is a feeling of safety, and a transfer of responsibility that an instituion allows which, for many women, creates a positive birth experience, but without any large sense of empowerment.

    And so, how can I, as an empowered woman advocate, liberally making choices for my own life that will further empower me, really be a doula who puts other womens agendas before my own. How do I maintain respect for that women and pride in her accomplishment? How can I portray to a woman that she is strong, beautiful, and dignified with sincerity?

    I have a feeling that it is in the little things, in the small yet emotional victories, that I will see the reality and will give heartfelt praise to its beauty.
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