Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Story of Stuff

I think Jay is the person who told me about this short online film..(Thanks Jay)...but as luck would have it, I forgot about it until I came across it on the net randomly (there are no quinkydinks) today...check it out.

Pictures from my Strawbale course at Blue Rock Station

Pictures from Living on the Edge of the Pacific

Sunday, June 28, 2009

June is Pride Month

This is a collage that I created today, June 28th, 2009
Every once in a while if I am feeling really out of sorts, I sit down and do some ART.
I have this habit of collecting color photos from the local newspapers (wherever "Local" is at the time) and combining them with pictures of plants from seed catalogues. This is the combination that I love for collages. This is the first time in a long time that I haven't included a postage stamp somewhere, but one wasn't handy at the moment. SO instead, this time I decided to use some clay seals from the land of pyramids and rare historic coins, or pictures from the paper of them anyway. Lightning has only struck my favorite local landmark tower in Columbus twice that I know of... and both times it wiped out the transformer for my favorite radio station, a beacon of the times, WCBE. It struck when I was living here back in 2004 and again after I arrived back this time, 5 years later in 2009.
That symbolizes how inspiration comes and goes with me, like my spiritual awareness, it ebbs and flows , and sometimes strikes like Lightning, then I do Art for days on end. Yes, I might get in trouble for using a few pictures of noteworthy glass artists here, but that is the beauty of collage.
If you look closely at the bottom, the 2000 year old stumps revealed during a lowlow tide on the Coast of Oregon this week ,blend right into the pyramids on the horizon.
Speaking of pyramids, there are an abundance of them in downtown Columbus architecture.
The rope reaching for the sky from the depths of the sand, was part of a float holding two women getting married (symbolic of course until the bigots "wake up")last weekend the day of the parade here in Columbus. The Aztec headdress that adorned a local guy in the same parade, now is being worn by Lady Liberty on a hidden old rare coin. And sunflowers , I just plain Love... for all their glory, growing in all types of soil, following the star that our planet revolves around, a symbol of endurance.
On the right is a pest that I am supposed to be looking for on my (really big) tomato plants. It is so beautiful, it has 8 marks like eyes on it. I gave it a tomato to eat in this picture, as a little prayer to stay away from my healthy ones out back.
So far here in my Mom's backyard, I have planted 8 Tomato plants, Zucchini, Beets, Kevin's open pollinated Corn, some "Indian corn" from an ear I got from the Santa Cruz Farmers Market last fall ( in a different corner of the yard:), Carrots, Gourds, Pumpkins, 4 or 5 five different kinds of Sunflowers, Heavenly Blue Morning Glories, Purple Morning Glories, Purple Hyacinth beans, Love-in-the-Mist Nigella, sweet and edible Peas,Jacobs Cows beans, Moon and Stars watermelons, Nasturtiums, Bachelor Buttons, Cosmos, and 6 new Hydrangea plants. My plants that survived multiple mowings by my brother, Patrick ...(he thought they were "weeds") but I moved them from my garden on Richardson Ave when I left here in 2005 : Echinacea, Day Lilies, Comfrey, Lemon Balm, Evening Primrose all waited for me to come back and identify them and let them grow taller than 2 inches...and they waited and endured. In addition to that there are 25 different kinds of Roses, 2 kinds of Lilac bushes, Mock Oranges, Balloon Flowers, Violets aplenty,Astilbe, Vetch peas from the West Coast years ago,Hollyhocks (from my Sebastopol, California garden seeds), 4 different colors of Buddlea aka Butterfly Bush,Trumpet Vines, and a small collection of container plants including a thriving Heliotrope,(sp?) Impatians, Lobelia and several of my Jade plants that have survived a few cross country trips in the front seat of whatever I was driving. So I am surrounded by alot of beauty when I am in my Mom's back yard and that is the key to my recent ENDURANCE.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Lloyd Kahn and Shelter Publications

I am reallly surprised that I have not written about Lloyd Kahn before this, but here is my plug.
His book "Shelter" inspired thousands of people all over the planet to build many different types of homes, both off the grid and on. I met him in person for the first time at Solfest in 2006 at the Solar Living Center (Real Goods) there in Hopland, California. He had a booth promoting "Homework" his new book at the time. It is phenomenal in so very many ways. I told him that "Shelter" had been one of the most life changing books I had ever read and he gave me a signed copy of a poster for that book. Shortly thereafter I discovered his Blog. He actually inspired me to start my own blog and it's one of the only blogs I even read, 3 years later.
Take the time to go through it sometime. So amazing in so many ways. Then last fall he came out with his newest gem, "Builders of the Pacific Coast", which is hands down now my favorite Lloyd Kahn book. He sent me two of those posters when I was at the Lighthouse and one of them is there still, in the "Staff bathroom".
I saw him speak again in Santa Cruz, the night before I lost my job. I had wanted to find a place to learn how to build a Strawbale House next. Be careful what you ask for. Buy his books. Read his blog. Its about so much more than building, but quirky things about the things he sees, music, skateboarding, surfing. You name it, I love it all. Thanks Lloyd! His next venture is going to be about "Tiny Houses", another thing I am crazy about.
Here is the link to his blog.
Enjoy! and support this amazing Earth lover and amazing spirit please.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

My Favorite Quote from "The Grass Harp"

"It may be that there is no place for any of us.
Except we know there is somewhere;
and if we found it, but lived there
only a moment, we could count ourselves blessed".
From "The Grass Harp" by Truman Capote

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Summer Solstice Y'all

My picture to the right that is always there was a painting I did years ago for Summer Solstice. I think I was out of watercolor paper at the time and painted that on an envelope thatI found had lying around.
We had a serendipitous celebration of Summer Solstice here at Blue Rock Station (at dinner last night), following a full wonderful day of BRS Open Day here that brought about 35 new folks out for a tour and tea led by Jay and Annie. I got to use some of my experiences using nature art with kids and we did leaf rubbings and then painted them with watercolors. Alot of fun with 4 amazing kids and their parents. I also met a really neat family from Kettering ( who also felt like my long lost family)and they were really curious about Herbal Medicine, so I was able to share that part of myself too. These things fuel the very essence of my spirit. Earlier in the day ( between the public day and the dinner with some of Annie and Jays friends and two surprise friends), I had taken a nap. I woke up with " I have to find out the correct /official time of Summer Solstice" and went in and looked it up on the computer. I came across this amazing site( www. womenssolstice.com ) and read this prayer/invocation at dinner. We also talked about what Summer Solstice meant to us and I was able to drum (and sing some) with Eliza (Thank You) up in the garden as the sun was going down. Thank You Great Spirit , God/dess, All-That -Is
for sending all of these people my way. Annie B. Pictures later hopefully

2009 Solstice Celebration
June 18 – 21, 2009
A Morning Star Rises
For each child that's born
a morning star rises
and sings to the universe
who we are.

We are our grandmothers' prayers.
We are our grandfathers' dreamings.
We are the breath of our ancestors.
We are the spirit of Love.

We are mothers of courage,
Fathers of time, daughters of dust
Sons of great vision.
We are sisters of mercy,
Brothers of love, lovers of life and
the builders of nations.
We are seekers of truth,
Keepers of faith, makers of peace and
the wisdom of ages.

We are our grandmothers' prayers.
We are our grandfathers' dreamings.
We are the breath of our ancestors.
We are the spirit of Love.

For each child that's born
a morning star rises
and sings to the universe
who we are.


We Are... (from lessons by Y.M. Barnwell (c)1993)

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Annie B. has Meltdown

Okay so I have been homeless for a little over two months now.
Whether I am forthcoming in admitting it to myself or not, I am
a nester.
I have been truly loving the pace of this work, mixing the
clay, straw and sand plasters, pushing the wheelbarrow down to one of the unfinished shelters and applying layer after layer of insulation made of this Earth.
But there are some things besides the lack of a space of my own that have
helped to send me over the edge.
It is monsoon season in Ohio, which in the summer is sometimes (when not in drought) most of June. I should have remembered
This from when I lived here in Ohio from 98-05. Every June in those years, it rained buckets, and my garden thrivedJ
But I wasn’t camping in it for days on end. And the humidity. It’s not like I forgot that part either, but pretty much right after you get out of the shower here, you start to sweating again. I am too cranky and my body hurts way too much sleeping on the ground, the older I get. And speaking of the ground upon which I sleep, there is a tree stump right smack in the middle of this unfinished strawbale “chalet” in which I have set up my tent. When we were here for the weeklong course, I told folks that it seemed to be getting wet from below, but a few looked at me as if I was crazy. When I returned on the 9th, I saw that the oak stump had been waiting these past 3 years and had sent up 3 small leaves…so I wasn’t crazy and it is still alive. Simple tree biology dictates that as one of the most amazing water pumps of all, this tree, like all trees has brought up water from underground. (Read “The Man Who Planted Trees” for more). That water then transpires out into the atmosphere ( my mattress) where it will eventually turn back into rain and fall down upon us again. The Water Cycle.
And there is the issue of excruciating pain that I acquired after 3 years of non-stop computer reservations at the little hostel on the coast. I finally figured
out while looking at a book of Annie W.s that what I am dealing with is Carpel Tunnel
Syndrome. The night time is the worst. Yes, I am taking lots of herbs and trying to take care of myself but the details above make it unbearable at times…mostly when I am laying down and trying to sleep. So there is little of that (sleep).
So tonight after dinner I went back to my tent and cried a little and felt sorry for myself
And drummed on my drum. Then I put on my shoes and long mosquito proof clothing
And went down to the Mayapple Strawbale and low and behold there was a chair set up in there and it was completely dry inside. So I sat and dreamed about having a little House like this of my own. The birds were calling everywhere and it was so very peaceful to just sit there and think of all of the love that went into building that
little shelter. I looked lovingly around at it’s strong walls ( still growing grass like a chia pet) . I am proud ( and all of you should be too) that it has very even walls.
It has the most amazing presence there in the forest on the way down to the creek.
Something ( a bird maybe) has already built a nest above the bottle windows and beam and below the roof. I saw the most amazing Redbird (no not a Cardinal but a Redbird) that I have ever seen I heard a Barred Owl call down in the valley (as it was nearly dark). I thought of all of you who helped build it and all was okay in the world.
I got up and went up to the garden and put the corn seeds from Kevin that I had sprouted into the ground, planted the squash plants Annie gave me and fixed the screens around it so that the chickens wouldn’t eat them. I know that it’s okay to have meltdowns every once in a while. If nothing else, the amazing Pacific Ocean taught me day after day that everything in life ebbs and flows.
Tomorrow will be another day. I will finish the final coat on the inside of the Firefly shelter and hold onto the hope that someday soon, somewhere on this beautiful Earth, I will have home of my own. AB

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Corn Mother

Open Pollinated White Corn Arrives
While having one of our various stimulating discussions about organic gardening, farming and community and such during the weeklong Strawbale Build, Kevin (from the border of Ohio and Indiana who was our “Super-Carpenter in residence” for the duration) mentioned that he has some Open-pollinated white corn from his Grandpa and family farm that he grew out to save.
In this time of huge agri-corporations such as the “M”-word ( no I won’t give that company any free advertisement) trying to take away the power of the people and the farmers who grow our food by creating atrocities such as round-up ready this -and -that and seeds that cannot be saved to grow out a new crop the following year, saving seed such as open-pollinated anything is a revolutionary act.

So a few weeks after that, I was back here at Blue Rock Station and talking to my Mother on the telephone. “A weird envelope came in the mail for you today. It feels like a rosary, or some seeds”. My heart leaped in excitement and I tried to explain that it was probably the corn that Kevin had promised and that it was special because it was heirloom and open-pollinated and that it’s the kind of corn that companies like “M” do not want for us to have at all, all in one breath.
I plan to save some of my new corn collection and plant some of it here at Blue Rock in the fashion that I have always grown corn.
The “Three Sisters” method of planting in the old way is the Mother of all companion planting that flows through the Cherokee part of my DNA. Some of the original inhabitants of this continent grew corn, beans and squash (or pumpkins) all together in little hills. This was done right on the west bank of the Scioto River by the Mingo , in what later would become downtown Columbus ( central Ohio’s first town and the part of town that my ancestors on both sides migrated to from Appalachian Ohio, Franklinton really). First I plant the corn in the hills along with the squash or pumpkins. Then when the corn gets tall enough , I plant beans to grow up the corn stalks. The squash tends to block out all of the weeds , the ears of corn grow tall and strong buffering each other in a circle against the wind and the beans eagerly grow up the slender built in bean-poles.
Here’s more wisdom from Linda Hogan:
“She, the corn, is called our grandmother. She’s the woman who rubbed her palms against her body and the seeds fell out of her skin. That is, they fell from her body until her sons discovered her secrets. Before she left the world, she told them how to plant the beans and corn together, plant their little sister squash, between them. This, from an oral tradition, came to be rediscovered hundreds of years later, almost too late, by agriculturists in their research on how to maintain the richness of farm soil”.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Alicia's Picture

This is a picture Alicia took of me standing in front of the Dragonfly (and her nickname) that she created on the side of our Mayapple Strawbale shack during the weeklong intensive. See www.mayapplestrawbale.blogspot.com for more amazing pictures of all of us!

Mayapple (podophyllum peltatum)

Mayapple aka American Mandrake
from "Peterson Guide to Eastern/Central Medicinal Herbs"
Perennnial; 12-18 in. Leaves Smooth, paired , umbrella like; distinctive. A single white flower, to 1 in. across, droops down from crotch of leaves: April-June. Fruit is globe shaped to egg shaped, about 2 in. long; edible but relished by rodents who collect as soon as ripe, robbing humans of a wild food ( me: heaven forbid they should do that, have we robbed them? sarcasm)July, -August, woods, clearings S. ME to FLA; Texas to Minn.
Uses: American Indians and early settlers used roots a a strong purgative, "liver cleanser", emetic, worm repellant; for jaundice, constipation,hepatitus, fevers, and syphilis. Resin from root, podophyllin ( highly allergic) used to treat venerial warts. Extract active against herpes,influenza, and vaccina viruses.
Podophyllotoxin, an important lignan from the root has anti-cancer and anti-malarial activity. Two semisynthetic derivatives, etoposide and teniposide are used in chemotherapy against several cancer types. Sales of the compounds exceed 200 million per year; etoposide is used in combination with other compounds for testicular cancers and as a primary treatment for small lung cell cancer. Also for various forms of leukemia. Teniposide is used for certain childhood leukemias. Fruits edible. Warning: Tiny amounts of root or leavess. Powdered root and resin can cause skin and eye problems.

Mayapple is everywhere in these Appalachian foothills and I am so very happy to be back here where the medicine plants are starting to come back and thrive again. Kinda like we herbalists and folks who choose to "Heal Ourselves", we are starting to remember what our ancestors knew.

"The Cherokees believed that every tree shrub and herb, down even to the grasses and mosses, agreed to furnish a cure for some one of the diseases". Sarah H. Hill from
"Weaving New Worlds"

Me , I believe in the HMO: Herbal Medicine Only.

Here is a simple liver tonic from Rosemary Gladstar( my personal herb goddess):
try www.sagemountain.com
or Search Rosemary Gladstar
Blessed Liver Tea Blend:
3 parts Nettle Leaf
2 parts Dandelion leaf,
1 part Alfalfa
1 part Chamomile flowers
2 parts Red Clover
2 parts Lemon Balm
pinch of Stevia for taste
Boil water
put all herbs into a glass container and steep
As a general rule: Leaves are for steeping, roots are for simmering ( at least 30 minutes)

This is all a part of The Simpler Method of Herbal Medicine
Peace and Happy healing, Annie B.

P.S.check out my other blog( shared with folks who came to the weeklong Strawbale Building Workshop at Blue Rock Station)
I am trying to get some of the pictures from that week put onto it... from folks who were there, hint hint...but pateince, patience....

Monday, June 8, 2009

Turtle Island-Gary Snyder

IT IS HARD TO EVEN BEGIN TO GAUGE how much a complication of possesions, the notions of "my and mine," stand between us and a true, clear, liberated way of seeing the world. To live lightly on the earth, to be aware and alive, to be free of egotism, to be in contact with plants and animals, starts with simple concrete acts. The inner priciple is the insight that we are interdependent energy-fields of great potential wisdom and compassion-expressed in each person as a superb mind, a handsome and complex body, and the most magical capacity of language. To these potentials and capacities, "owning things" can add nothing of authenticity.
"Clad in the sky, with the earth for a pillow."

More From Linda Hogan

From Dwellings:
Fritjof Capra Wrote: "Doing work that has to be done over and over again helps us to recognize the natural cycles of growth and decay, of birth and death, and thus become aware of the dynamic order of the universe." And it is true, in whatever we do,the brushing of hair, the cleaning of cages, we begin to see the larger order of things. In this place life occupies, and with death. Like one of those early physicians who discovered the strange, inner secrets of our human bodies, I'm filled with awe at the very presence of life, not just the birds, but a horse contained in its living fur, a dog alive and running. What a marvel it is, the fine shape life takes in all of us. It is equally marvelous that life is quickly turned back to the earth colored ants and the soft white maggots that are time's best and closest companions. To sit with the eagles and their flute-like songs, listening to the longer flute of wind sweep through the lush grasslands, is to begin to know the natural laws that exist apart from our own written ones.
-LINDA HOGAN "Waking Up the Rake", from Dwellings