Look up, look deep and tell me what you see

I’m fixing up my résumé, and it’s not for the first or the last time. I also realize that what I want to write is not necessarily what I should write. They tell me that I’m meant to list, yet again, my education and work experiences. I want to write the whole truth. I want to show that the capacity to dream, to visualize and to see what is not really there is what has seen me through every change, every move and every downfall. That when I see the uplifted wings of a bird in flight in a passing cloud and I draw inspiration from it, and when I feel the wind in my soul that to you is only rustling the leaves of this birch in front of us, it is then that I realize that this lifelong friendship that I have cultivated with my imagination is my greatest ally. This faithful companion of all of my travels, real and imagined, can take up the space of the whole Universe and also fits easily, light as a feather, into my pocket or in the cusp of my hand. This breath that brings a smile to my lips when no smiles are warranted is the real reason for anything that I have the right to call my success.

I wish I could tell them that.

I wish I could explain that to them. That it didn’t matter so much that I was in a remote village then with no one to trust because I had white paper and my stories to write. And yes, there were also the mountains and sunrise climbs up to the top (because, obviously, mountain tops are even better for dreaming). That later on when I got home-sick I could go to the island and paint a maple leaf on a canvas. That in every colleague and every employee and every person what I first see is pure light and potential. That with near religious observance I dedicate at least several hours to my every Sunday for simply gazing into the deep blue sky and dreaming.

My imagination is my salvation.

The attitudes of all of the characters of all of the books and movies that I have ever loved live together there. And we romp alongside those people I love and who the world tells me are “real”. Tigers can backpack through Africa and grizzly bears are free to roam India. The elderly dare rock-climbing while toddlers ponder philosophy. Nonsense can be common sense if I want it to be. What is impossible in this world is an every-day cup of tea in mine.

I would describe how lonely I could feel except that I never do. Because with a deep breath and a look up I again connect with everything I see and everything that you can not. I could try to explain it to you but you see how crude it looks just by reading this post. Perhaps you see and you feel your own magic, I don’t know since I’m not living in your skin. Then again some of the time I’m absent from my own since this capacity to go so far beyond the body allows me to travel when I’m traveling and when I’m not.
They tell me that there are people who only see the here and now and the crude realities. My own imagination balks at the very idea; stops dead in its tracks. It and I are so close that it’s hard for us to imagine that other families can be broken.

With a blink and my intention I can also easily come back to this seat and the firmness of the laptop. Imagination is the least demanding of all of my loved ones, never asking for more than I need.

In my résumé I would quote Imagination as my education and also as my most influential and supportive work partner in all of my professional experiences. I would work its ideas and colour into every line of my whole life history. I would sit back, smile and admire my own daring. Then, in my final act of impudence, I would replace it for my street address and see if they understand my understanding of home.

***

Image source: http://wallpapercraze.com/wallpaper/Imagination-Realm/

Arms raised to me

Now.

Raising one hand, marvel at the mechanisms, the magic, the life-force creation here around, in soil, sun and sand.

Raise the other hand and the spirit slips through my fingers, its natural rhythm is in flight with the flocks, in tune with trance of trickling of the stream, with the whistle of the wind. It would flee from me.

Instead it is trapped, worse off than the wild mustang brought to the bit to be broken,
it is chained inside a human body,
this, this so wondrous and so futile, so fragile,
flung here to be ripped apart yet again

and in the light spilling through the gaps

to be brought to our knees to laugh, to smile, to cry again.

To gaze at ourselves now opened, perhaps more free this way, perhaps more.

The ocean’s waves next to me, the bird’s wings above, a constant reminder.
The ultimate tease.
To say
You, there. You on the ground below with your arms raised to me.
You are everything,
I’m not mocking you.
The bird’s beak twists to the side, and says again, in animal wisdom,
and yet
you,
yes, you
you are so helpless.

My first book is published!! It’s here and it’s real!

My first ever book has been self-published in print and 10 copies are lying on the table in my living room.

(And it’s available on Amazon!) 

I paid the UPS guy 11 zlotes for the extra taxes. At 8:24 am today.

I am speechless.

What an incredible blessing. To be able to take a project, create it from nothing and then produce a pretty darn quality book from it nearly 2.5 years later! Deep down this is what the Ride to Read has really taught me. That an idea was born in my heart, while conversing with a healer and midwife in the Andes mountains of Peru, and that given this idea and fire I turned it into a fully fledged fundraiser and cycling project. And now it’s a book.

Maybe I’ll keep pulling on these threads and see what else might happen?

And my own words on this screen feel empty and silly. But they had to be written.

What an incredible journey. Simply incredible.

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Oh but to live in a chicken coop again

Stories of home and hearth : central Alberta, Canada – June-Sept 2013

When the Fishers and I decided to work together last summer, I was to be living out at their farm near the town of Didsbury most days in the week, and touching base with the big city life in Calgary the other days of the week.

I decided it would be fun to bike commute one way by bicycle, about 100km across the open prairies in a day’s time, and would catch a ride with the Fishers back into the city on our weekly trips to the Farmer’s market.  In between, I would be working and living at the farm. The work would be divided between online marketing activities, farm work and food prep.  Ah, but living… that’s where we needed some luck: my lodgings.

On a large property filled with scattered farm equipment, old sheds and trucks and even a trailer or two the Fishers knew that finding me a spot to call my own would be more a matter of creativity than actual concern.  We initially toyed with the idea of using one of the trailers.  Then, when the flood hit in June, I had a little room to myself in the main house.  But finally, with a phone call that made me smile, laugh and shake my head (at the hilarity of my life) I heard the news from Nolan – “I just went to see the neighbours and they have this old, unused chicken coop that we could turn into a little cabin for you”.  I knew that Nolan was very handy in anything construction related, but I couldn’t help but repeat it back to him, “a chicken coop?”.  “Don’t worry”, he assured me “it hasn’t been inhabited by a chicken since before the war.  There’s no smell.  Actually, it’s in really good condition for such a historic structure”.

To top it off, the neighbours were aghast at the thought that I would be living in their old coop and even offered me a room in their own house instead.  I thanked them and declined their offer.

Nolan quickly sent me a few pictures of the weather beaten hut with the downwards sloping roof characteristic of poultry residences.  I was promised general maintenance on it, a fresh coat of paint (inside and out) and a few equally historic, and perfectly quaint, pieces of furniture for inside the cabin.  I mean chicken coop.  Sheesh. Honestly, we tried to rechristen it ‘the cabin’, but once a coop, always a coop.

And mine was a real class act.

the before shot (still at the neighbours property)

the before shot (still at the neighbours property)

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How to celebrate Agriculture Day with a paintbrush (and etching tool)

It was a coincidence (or was it?) that I headed out to Fire Escape (the pottery painting place in Calgary) last Thursday, May 1st.

May 1st also happens to be Labour and Agriculture Day in Haiti.  I’ve been waiting for the right opportunity to pay my tributes to Kouzen Zaca, the patron Iwa of farmers.  His symbol is painted on the underside of the black and white tree-themed dish I painted.  Enjoy some of the following creative process via photos.

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(1) dividing the piece into 8 pieces; drawing with pencil first (which comes off in the kiln so no erasing required !).  Most of my design is complete before applying black paint.  Inspiration came from this stock image.

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(2) Using strips of masking tape means I’ll get straight lines when painting my black sections over.  Once the paint is dry you pull of the tape to reveal perfect lines underneath. A quick photo of my own pencil sketches before painting over with black means I’ll have a reference for  what I later need to etch out in the paint.

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(3) Etching tool lies next to the complete piece. Before burning in the kiln and getting it’s glaze, the black paint appears grey.

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(4) The completed piece! Loving the blend from skewed painted lines to etching in the black paint and back again. 8 sections, 2 colours, 2 trees intertwining and the continuous whole represented. Where does it start and end? Even I couldn’t tell you 🙂

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(5) and the underside bears Papa Zaca’s symbol

Joel Salatin’s Polyface Farms – an overview

Compiled from my notes from attending the “You Can Farm” workshop; Internet research and videos – I’d like to make this overview of Polyface Farms readily available to anyone interested in:

  • alternative farming business models
  • making more money from sustainable farming
  • the Salatin success story and the foundations upon which Polyface Farms has been built

Enjoy!

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New materials, plants and ideas

So after the awesome Seedy Saturday event this past weekend I’ve made definite advances in my Calgary Woodlands design.

First and foremost I purchased seeds and even a few plugs – anything from sunflowers to kale – I know I’ll need a lot more but atleast it’s a start.

Have collected several dozen burlap bags from Fratello coffee distributors – great and beautiful material and I’m curious to see what place my creativity will find for it. Also adopted a bag of coffee husks… I’m sure they’ll come in handy ☺

After meeting with the backyard owners there are concerns as to how to hide the Global buckets from sight (it may be a practical, ecological and great food growing idea but it sure aint pretty!) – we’re thinking wooden screen to cover a whole row of them in one go. There is also debate over installation of rain barrel… for aesthetic purposes we may end up having to hide it under the deck (tougher access and no gravity fed watering) but ah well…

Am loving the process, will post further progress soon – for now I’m focused and super pumped to see Joel Salatin in High River tomorrow!!

Photos:

A collage of planter ideas using recycled materials

This is a collage of a dozen or so planter ideas I’m thinking of putting into action in the new Woodlands Perma project

collage of recycling ideas

So, basically…

I’ve got to phone around local businesses to see if I can get a few shipping containers, coffee bags and the like (I love the look!!) and figure out if there’s an ecological spray-paint that could transform yogourt containers into works of art…

Plus, I have several hundred CDs on my hands and would like to find a gardening use for them.  Perhaps I’ll cut them in half, stick ’em in the dirt and use them as bright, reflective vegetable and herb markers? Maybe I’ll make a giant cylindar “thing” and find a way to plant in it?  Who knows…

And get this – There’s an old, broken bike on site that we can use for planters too!  The seat’s getting replaced with a potted plant for sure, and I’d like to hang baskets from the handlebars.  Perhaps attach a vintage looking wagon and have plants there too.

Plants, plants, plants.  We’ll have them poking out of rubber boots, coffee bags and bicycles in no time!!

Sources of inspiration include:

top 30 DIY planters from: http://www.homedit.com/top-30-planters-diy-and-recycled/ 

Dishfunctional designs – about recycled salvaged materials for the garden: http://dishfunctionaldesigns.blogspot.ca/2012/05/upcycled-garden-using-recycled-salvaged.html 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A new photo collage – for Wealth & Money area (Feng Shui)

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I’ve been making collages for years, enjoying the creative process, content to decipher the mysteries of my subconscious upon completion of my work. Even after several years I’ll look at a collage differently, understand something more from the arrangement of photos that some higher force enacts through me. The layers, depth of meaning and significance that I find in these photo-inspired pieces never fail to surprise me.

This one, created in a bit of a frenzy last night, is destined for the Wealth & Mo$ey area of my new place in Barcelona. I’ve done a few before in this fashion, following certain colour, symbol, animal and material guidelines; I already have collages for the Helping Hands, Relationships and Family areas. This is the fourth of my Feng Shui themed collages created to date.

The Wealth & Money area in our rooms/houses is associated with more than just financial security – it’s also about our personal definitions of success, abundance and what it means to live a rich, full life.

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Barbara Sher’s “Refuse to choose”, perspective altering book

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Are you fascinated by Spanish guitar, Chinese cooking, running a successful language school and sailing to India all at the same time? Or maybe what makes your heart smile are rare bird species, photography, medieval poetry and chimney cleaning?

In my case, I find myself simultaneously wanting to study linguistics, start a rooftop greenhouse business, write a novel, sail around the world, learn horse-back riding and perfect my guitar skills…

!

Whatever our varied interests may be, the sharp intelect and love of learning attitude of “scanners” (term coined by author) doesn’t let us focus on just one thing or choose that one career to stick with “forever”! Scanners nead variety, stimulation, constant challenges and excitement.

Trouble is, scanners often times find themselves hitting their heads on walls in an effort to figure it all out. How do you choose amidst so many options, opportunities and talents? How do you stand strong against a society that constantly wants to turn us into specialists and experts in only one field?

That’s exactly what I’ve been wondering, and Barabara Sher’s book is, slowly but surely, unraveling the mystery of how to live a fulfilled life when you’re in love with everything and incapable of choosing… Turns out in fact that you don’t have to choose at all!

I’ll continue reading, and give you a full review soon!

beautiful video – Permaculture for the people! for art! for healing…

Came across this while preparing intro to Perma presentation in Spanish for the peeps here in Tarija.

the music is sweeeet!!

Home-made festive wreath

In preperation for tomorrow’s Christmas party, I made a wreath today (table decoration only, it’s not sturdy enough to be hung!)

the wreath

Materials used:

– branches of spruce and pine

– pinecones and some of those red-berry bunches from tree unknown (that I found around the neighbourhood)

– that fuzzy-wrapped kids wire called “chenille stems” (3$ at Walmart)

I made my arrangement and then grabbed 2 or 3 ends together and attached them with the fuzzy wire; since the colours I got were the “earthy” toned ones the green blends in perfectly with the branches and the brown perfectly with the pinecones!

It was a really enjoyable and quick project!

 

a new guitar and a holly jolly Christmas

After a brief stint with a 40 Euro made-in-China guitar that I first played on in Granada (which i sold for 20 before leaving), I am now the proud new owner of a beautiful classic guitar, an “étude” of the Canadian makers laPatrie (www.lapatrieguitars.com)

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Introduced to woodworking

 On a whim, about 8 weeks ago, I signed up for a “Woodshop for beginners” class in Calgary, through continuing education at Chinook College in Calgary.  After wrapping up the last class last night I can now sit back and reflect on what was a fascinating, humbling and extraordinary look into the vast world of woodworking.  Not to mention that it was really, really rewarding and enjoyable!

Working with wood means working very closely with trees.  Trees and forests are integral to our natural world; as the kidneys (to employ the Gaia theory) they bring down the rain from the clouds and they filter our fresh water, and they are incredibly diverse and rich ecosystems for both flora and fauna in most biomes of our Earth.  All ecosystems (except for deserts) if left indefinately to their own devices, want to and do eventually become forests.  In Permaculture we talk non-stop about maintaining at least 30%, if not more, of our site under tree cover.  Within the zoning system we have zone IV which is dedicated to productive trees, and zone II, the orchard, which is also partly wooded.  From all sides I hear of the importance of wood and trees, so I turned to the one great gift of wood that I didn’t know the first thing about – woodworking.

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