Community Living or Why Siblings are good for your spiritual growth

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I was an only child, and homeschooled to boot and believe me, my education was exceptional. My mom was a creative badass who believed that colonial williamsburg counted as history class and grocery shopping built math and kitchen skills. These things have served me well in life, not to mention a serious self-motivated drive. However, life, and my own choices are throwing me another curve ball called “getting along with other people”, and it is a tumultuous stage of growth, and more than a little embarrassing to be going through at good god am I actually closer to 30 than 20? When did that happen?!? Ah, let’s not think about that, anyway, the point is, I choose to pursue a path in life that led me smack dab in the center of the family/community I always wished I’d had and now I’m dealing with both sides of the consequences of that decision.
Dealing with 8 people’s opinions on laundry, basic hygiene, food preferences and don’t even mention the word dishes, is WAAAAAY more complicated than I could have ever previously imagined. I’m finally beginning to understand why people first started going to war. And we don’t even have the background of social expectation/tradition to help us along- it’s all trial and error. Thank goodness all of us are, generally, patient, committed and (thank whatever deity you recognize) pacifists.
But on a personal level, learning how to let go and not micro-manage, be open to new ways of doing things and generally learning to accept that there are people in the world who care about me even dealing with my crazy on a day to day basis (glitter, chocolate addiction, extreme emotional sensitivity which the glitter and chocolate help to medicate) has been a much-needed area of growth and balm to my isolated soul.
When it comes to my romantic relationship, I’ve been learning something else, something that is often said but hard to put into practice in the modern world- That you don’t have to be, and in fact shouldn’t be, everything to one person. Having this community has allowed me to start taking the perspective of, hey, maybe my romantic relationship can be just that- romantic. Since all of the stress of day to day life and major decisions, etc are generally shared amongst the whole community, not to mention hobbies and companionship, it’s much easier to just be romantic love, comfort and fun with my chosen lover. Don’t get me wrong, we still argue plenty, but I feel that I’m finally beginning understand what true day to day romance and connection are, both within an “intimate” relationship and on a wider social level as well.

Picnic Luxury Lunchboxes!

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One of the ways I have learned to live so cheaply, yet luxuriously is knowing when it’s worth it to put in the effort. I’d much rather do the extra few minutes of work to pack a lunch than to work for someone else the extra hours to pay for eating out. I’ve also found that if you eat quality food, you don’t need as much. Gourmet is truly achievable if you eat portion sizes. Have a few small luxuries and if there are certain people in your family or group who need extra calories, make that up with more staple fare- sweet potatoes, pastas, sandwich bread, eggs and other cheap but filling options.
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Here are a few ideas for picnic luxury lunch boxes:
bread with brie and apple slices, plus chocolate of course
bread with cream cheese, nut butter and jam,
yogurt parfait- yogurt, granola, and fresh berries, or a quality trail mix(my favorite is hazelnuts, cashews, pecans, pumpkin seeds, cranberries, shredded coconut and chocolate chips)
cream cheese, roast beef and fresh greens sandwich
shrimp with curry powder, fresh fruit , crackers with herbed goat cheese

If you have a chance to cook: sliced ham, brie, caramelized red onions, and a very light drizzle of honey, toasted like a grilled cheese is one of the most memorable tastes imaginable.

And in my world, lunch is not complete without a few bites of dark chocolate at the end, never forget the chocolate!
Siilin

Summer Bar-b-que

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As a perfect prelude to a miraculous few days the weather cleared up on monday, right as Pam and Brian’s daughter Tiffany- the remaining family we had not met- and her husband and kids came down to visit for a few days. Family friends showed up with their 3 month old and before we knew it, summer kicked in full swing with a massive outdoor barbeque with 12 adults, four kids, 9 chickens, I don’t even know how many cats anymore, and a dog just to make everything a little less chaotic. Paradise in a backyard.

I have witnessed a miracle of life in watching this progression of events- from chance meetings one after another that have lead to people connecting to build dreams I never imagined could truly happen before. We had an impromptu community meeting to discuss issues, ideas, concerns and set plans. And it happened automatically. I’ve always felt like dealing with people was frustrating, oftentimes, impossible. I feared that there were only selfish, uncaring people in the world, that I would wander alone forever. Without even realizing how much I wanted and needed a family, one ended up surrounding me, and it is openly growing everyday.

As I was toasting rolled oats in a frying pan this morning, cook the bacon first and toast in the gristle, Tiffany and I talked about the idea of combining forces on this, my blog and hers, so that between the two of us we could post more easily as I have many projects and she has many children. I add eggs and cream to the oats to cook it, and as we shredded cheese and chopped fresh fruit and avocado to top the oatmeal with we discuss book ideas. I love collaborations- all the beauty and creativity of a project, with the support and enhancement of loved ones. Kindred spirits are rare treasures. And with this new influence this page may be coming to you under a new name- The Nature Spirit. ( I have also been informed, repeatedly, that not everyone will think of the old english spelling of Faerie while looking this site up- simplicity has it’s usefulness I guess)

Zoe and I took Tiffany on her first Girls’ Night Out in, well, enough years she didn’t remember anymore. We arrived at Sonia’s house in town, proceeded to kick her boyfriend out of his own room( he was smart enough to bow out gracefully when girl number 6 showed up- a wise man knows when he’s out-numbered) and leave us to our sacred feminine goddess time. We turned up the music, danced wildly, laughed and talked to wake up the next few blocks and made almond-butter cherry chocolate chip cookies- Sonia’s recipe. She is now a contender in the ever ongoing cookie war for “greatest cookie ever”- a very scientific and technical title that can only be conferred after many years of tasting and debating. Consistency is key of course.

After a chance to let loose, hug, laugh, support and care for each other, we were all finally able to go back to our lover’s revitalized and strong. Apparently it had a major effect because I caught Aaron helping to hang laundry without me asking and even before running off to the shooting range. The effects of women coming together can be terrifying ;P

Tiffany had to return home this morning, but I am certain of seeing her again soon, and look forward to further adventures with a new part of my family.

Love to all!

xoxo

V

June Moon

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The new family rooster, Starbuck, who’s way to pretty for his own good. All the hens have been beating him up!

It has definitely been a mercury retrograde kind of week- all plans have just somehow gone awry or taken ten times as long as they should have, but all that being said it’s been busy. Radiators fixed, five loaves of bread and two cinnamon rolls baked, kitchen and laundry room all squeaky clean, and all in time for tomorrow’s Strawberry Moon!

Galadarling “how to survive mercury retrograde”
http://galadarling.com/article/how-to-survive-mercury-retrograde/

Cinnamon Rolls

Use base bread recipe: yeast let to ferment in warm water(about 4 cups water will end up with about two large loaves) with honey and a bit of flour for about 20 mins. Add flour(about two cups to start, esp if you add flax, bran or other grains), salt and melted butter or oil, stif into soft mush let stand in warm oven or sun for about two hours(24 is ideal, but let’s face it, you want to eat some bread), for sponge rise. Add flour to stiff texture, let rise, repeat once more. After second rise, flour and split into two portions, roll out on floured surface, coat with melted butter and cinnamon/sugar until the melted butter becomes thick. sprinkle with salt, roll up and place in pan, bake at 350 for about 35-40 minutes. Can also add cream cheese, marcapone cheese, dried fruit or nuts to filling.

I’m looking forward to a full moon celebration, I’ve been sorely neglected my nature practice, and I’ve noticed it’s so much harder in the winter. One wants to be outside to enjoy the sky and honor nature, but she can be just so cold! Watching the January Wolf’s Moon rise over the mountains was definitely the best one so far this year. I’m hoping the weather will work for a small bonfire tomorrow night to celebrate. As it’s the Strawberry moon, or sometimes known as the flower moon, a bowl of strawberries shared among friends and a little bouquet given to someone who needs uplifting seem like as excellent way to honor the moving into summer phase. Along with gourmet s’mores of course! Cinnamon graham crackers, dark chocolate Lindt bars, and fresh vanilla marshmallows(whole foods carries very good ones, often in the deli section) make outdoor living absolutely lush.

For other moon ritual ideas:

 

http://mooncircles.com/full-strawberry-moon/

http://journeyingtothegoddess.wordpress.com/2012/06/02/full-strawberry-moon-june

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Brian has been preparing to bring in honey bees and spent the time Zoe and I were redecorating the RV making a giant “beehouse”, not the traditional upright hive, but a long bird house style home, with a lid that can be taken off and everything ready to go but the screens. It’s longer than I am tall! (Not that I’m very tall at all or anything…)

Momma Pam seems to have invented an excellent allergy remedy- Aaron and Brian have been seriously suffering so we’ve been working on a concoction. It seems that if you pack a jar of fresh grated ginger, cover it with warm water, let it steep for a day and strain, then mix it with a bunch of local honey, coconut oil, fresh ground cinnamon and drink about 2-3 shots a day of it, the allergies disappear. Aaron’s been so happy to be able to breathe through his nose again, I’m getting chapped lips from all the kisses, which would be easily remedied with some honey, but that just makes him kiss me more 😉

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Promise has declared that the rest of her time here is “Fairy Week” and set Brian to making her fairy wings, and has commandeered Zoe and I as actors in a play she is writing. It seems to involve covering everyone in glitter, so I am definitely looking forward to it. Uncle Sakka has been set to work on building a stage and Momma Pam, as always, is support with dinner and cookies. Aaron has not been pressed into labour, she’s too fascinated by the fact he’s doing things like building a motorcycle and melting metal.

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Zoe made her niece the fluffiest purse imaginable, and this is only her third completed project! (Aaron calls it the octopus, guess what he’s getting for his birthday) I have barely even progressed past the basic scarf stage of crochet! I am learning to make socks though, being a size four foot makes that a very useful skill. I’m learning that it takes me so long to make stuff, and custom fitted wool things get very coveted come winter, that I’m working on getting the supply done now. Maybe I’ll even finish a christmas list in time this year? EEK!

Paint Fumes become Gypsy Vardo Part 2- Tada! PICTURES!!!

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Outside- a standard RV, all set up pretty in it’s newly cleared out camp space 😀

 

Julia Cameron Excerpt from: Walking in this World
“We are miserable not because we are neurotic but because we are creative and not functioning in our creativity. Therapy may help us to “understand” our blocks. We do better to just get over them. Art is therapeutic. It is NOT therapy. Therapy aims at transformation through understanding. Art aims at transformation directly. When we make a piece of art about something we don’t understand, we come to understand it, or, at least, our relationship to it through our own experience- which is more full-bodied than merely cerebral….healing is a somewhat automatic by-product of self-expression, not a goal per se…therapists urge us to “accept how we feel”. Art teaches us to EXPRESS how we feel and so alchemize it. …therapy adjusts us to the world. Art adjusts the world itself….At bottom, art is rebellious: You cannot name me. I am more than the sum of my parts.”

 

 

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It started off ENTIRELY grey- grey grey grey, with a bit of dirty blue grey on the ceiling and dirty yellow grey on the curtains. It was a depressing sight. A whole winter of grey, filled with outside grey, and did I mention it was just generally grey? So, with the onset of summer, and a super deep clean need growing in my bones, when Zoe said “Hey we could paint the RV” as I was walking past the box full of acrylics, I kind of exploded out a rainbow. We did the walls purple, green, and yellow, and filled in all the space with a rainbow texture covered in a marble texture of silver glitter and a super high gloss clear coat- the goal was to make it look like the walls were made of polished opal- and I think I succeeded as much as paint possibly can.

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Promise petting Harold in the finished RV

Since I was already doing mad colors, the idea of a chalkboard on the fridge was only fitting. We also found magnetic paint, but it was SO expensive, instead we put metal on the freezer front. It has been a big hit already.

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The wood stove, fully finished and installed, with our collection of garage sale cast iron

Learning to cook on this has been quite an adventure- and now I have strategically painted to hide all the ashy marks from maintaining it all winter, yay!

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The most interesting part of this was the transformative effect it had on me. For so long I’ve tried so hard to keep control of everything, to be productive, capable, focused, planned. But as I was fingerpainting rainbows on my wall I simply had to let loose, to let go, to just have fun on a level that I had not touched since I was a child. All of a sudden I was caught up in the flow of creation, of expression, of simply being and impressing the greatness of my being into the world I inhabit. For the first time in a long time I felt a radiant and expanded soul.

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I rebelled against the grey, the standard, the mundane. I rebelled against the fact that I was sharing a small space with another large personality. I rebelled against the feeling that I had to stay within the lines or the world would collapse. I found out what it meant to stop trying to understand and simply to DO, and the power of heavens that resides there. Things that should not have worked out did. Things that were impossible were done. I worked harder than I ever have on anything and I was joyful every moment of the day. And I did it for myself, no other, and everyone in the community has appreciated it and enjoyed it. I took paint and made it a home.

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It doesn’t matter what else is going on, just create.

 

Paint Fumes become a Gypsy Vardo

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Aaron is home! He got in late last night to an overwhelming change in the environment- the entire RV redecorated. (Pics to come- even I was recovering from this one). I have spent the last four days, from 7 am to 8 pm cleaning, organizing, repainting, dyeing and redecorating the entire place. And the rest of the community helped as well- Zoe helped me inside, Brian and Sakka made shelves and cleaned up the campground by clearing out more space for a workshop area, and Momma Pam was support staff with dinner and cookies every night for fuel. we’ve had Lemon Bars, No-Bake Cookies, Coconut cranberry chocolate macaroons and Poo-kies, chocolate cookies with peanut butter chips(they look like poo, get it? I know, way to many boys in this household!)

It has been gorgeous weather for Oregon, sunny and warm, perfect for the job I was doing, as we needed to have the windows open because of all the fumes. The kittens have started to come out of the greenhouse on their own, though there is a lot of hissing and arched backs about silly things like foot steps and chickens. Right now the chickens are bigger and picking on the kittens, but soon, that battle will go a different direction. There may be a recipe for shredded chicken sandwiches if they don’t start behaving. I’ve readjusted my schedule to rise with the sun and it’s been a beautiful transformation. I love the quiet feeling of the morning to drink tea and write my story. I sit in my robe to meditate and journal for a while, then move to writing. I’ve found the robe to be particularly inspiring. One reads fantasy in a robe, writing it in the same mode just feels condusive to the creative process. By the time I’m done the sun is fully up, as is everyone else, and the day is ready to start.

There is a 9 year old granddaughter visiting Pam and Brian, and it’s been fun to have a kid around, she has such a quirky perspective on everything, still in the stage of just saying what she thinks, though I’ve been forced to bite my tongue more times than I can count when she’s made a comment that any response too is just entirely inappropriate. But she’s been forcing us to slow down and realize what’s going on around us. We’ve made daisy chains and fern leaf fairy wings, and collaborated to get revenge on Uncle Sakka’s teasing (there was a lot of water and glitter involved :D)

In doing so much work in such a short amount of time, the last few days have been almost damaging in the amount of stress I’ve put on my body. So, when I reached the point of muscles starting to give out from overwork and shaking from anxiety, I reach for passionflower herb. About two teaspoons dried to a cup of hot water (I use less, but I’m sensitive to, well, everything), works as a anti-anxiety, sedative and even has properties to promote muscle repair. It’s often used by bodybuilders to build up damaged tissues. If you are trying to get into shape, it’s excellent to help handle the pain of getting back to the gym.

Now that the RV is redecorated I finally have a proper place to put all of my medical supplies and herbs and so on. I was very happy for Aaron’s comment “Now it looks like a proper gypsy vardo in here!” With green, yellow and purple walls, silver trim, glitter accents, and blue and wine dyed couch, I should hope it looks gorgeous! And now that it’s all “finished” (it’s my pet project, it will never really be finished, of course), I can get back to, well, sanity. Zoe’s first comment to Aaron was “Yeah, she went a little psycho while you were gone”- yup, I exploded my sanity and rainbows and glitter came out, but everyone expected that anyway! We did learn lots of fun things such as: always get the paint with primer, the few extra dollars will save you half the work, double check what supplies you have and always get a little more that you think you’ll need, Rit liquid dye is the only dye worth buying, chalkboard paint is epic, roller curtains are evil, chicken feathers make fun texture when dipped in glitter paint and most importantly, if you’re going to get high off of that many paint fumes, do it with a friend, it’s way more fun 😀

Maytime Market and Summer Wine

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World peace can be achieved with kittens, I’m sure of it. Maybe puppies too. Add a couple of otter and fox kits in there and we are omming our way into enlightened greatness. It’s been the greatest blessing on my soul to be able to wake up in the morning and take my coffee into the greenhouse to pet the fast growing kittens. Their eyes are just beginning to open now, and they are in the perfect fluffy roly-poly stage of playfulness to leave you laughing for hours as they try to walk around and tackle each other, only to fall belly up little paws waving to grab your finger. Bliss. This is followed with a close second of fresh picked strawberries at the Farmer’s Market downtown. We snapped up a pint right off, and I had to defend it to make sure any made it home for yogurt parfaits and chocolate dipped madness. By the time we got home from the market, Pam (who is everyone’s adoptive mom at this point) was making spinach and feta calzones fresh from the bounty of her garden, add a dash of Firefly (damn Fox for canceling that show!!) and a gentle rainfall to make the best night’s sleep in a few weeks and much needed after the exhausting fun of the Ashland adventure.

 Strawberry Madness
Melt about 1 cup of chocolate chips for a full pint of strawberries in a double boiler. Put 1/2 cup of heavy cream into a skillet over medium heat, add 2 tbs honey and salt, stir occasionally, let boil gently until the mixture thickens to a custard consistency. Let cool about 10 minutes while stirring occasionally. Dip strawberry in chocolate, place on try to cool, then dip into caramel and sprinkle with sea salt. Enjoy your sugar coma.

 

A little boy runs across a farmer who has a truckload of cow manure.  The boy asks him what he is going to do with all that cow poop.  The farmer tells the little boy, “I’m taking it home to put on my strawberries.”
The little boy looks up at the farmer and says, “I don’t know where you come from, but where I come from we put cream and sugar on our strawberries.”

      The strawberry theme has been pretty predominant lately, when we were in Arcata a little stone shop, for some unknown reason, was giving away free strawberry shoots. We took one, put it in our largest coffee mug, put some dirt from the ground outside in it along with some St. John’s Wort powder and water to help with the transplant shock, and put it in the window by the driver’s seat remembering every time we drove somewhere to water it. When we got to Eugene we simply put it outside and forgot about it. Coming back from Ashland the other day, I looked over to find that it is actually starting to bud and is outgrowing it’s pot. I love nature, live, let live and eat strawberries for your lack of trouble.

 

For everything you ever needed to know about strawberries, plus more silly jokes, visit: http://strawberryplants.org/

 

 

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Myrrh displayed at Avdat, a stop on the Incense Route. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

 

As it turns out, strawberries (I truly did not plan the post to go this way, the strawberries are taking over my brain) are actually quite good for your teeth. Their high acid content helps to whiten your teeth and the high vitamin C content is good for overall immune system health. This is good news as with all the chaos I’ve been sorely neglecting my teeth. But I’ve been surprised at how healthy my teeth have remained even with the neglect. I”ve found that using an electric toothbrush helps a LOT esp if you tend to be irregular about it. I dip it in baking soda and cinnamon to use as a tooth powder and my teeth glow white. I’ve found that a good mouthwash is a distilled alcohol such as whiskey or vodka cut with a 1 to 5 ratio with distilled water and a single drop per cup of any or all of: tea tree, cinnamon, myrrh, or fennel essential oils. DO NOT SWALLOW. It won’t do any lasting harm to the vast majority of people, but essential oils are potent and can wreak havoc on your digestive system even in small quantities(though the recipe I gave is very dilute, hence it’s safety as a mouthwash). Diarreha is the most common reaction, often accompanied by a headache. But it’s very good for your teeth and doesn’t affect the kidneys, brain or nervous system the way excess flouride does. And besides being in standard toothpaste it’s also in any water that goes through a treatment plant and a variety of foods.

 

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Picture: One of Aaron’s hand forged knives. He invented the folding technique that gives the steel that wood-grain pattern

I had no idea my request for whiskey to make another batch of mouthwash would send the boys into such a tizzy. They decided they wanted to make their own and commendered all of the apples, peaches and strawberries they could get ahold of, and I had to fight them over my fresh local honey, lest it in up in the brew as well(they ended up using bulk honey instead). After a week of fermenting, it’s been strained and is sitting until all of the silt goes to the bottom. In between this, the boys have been leaving blackened fingerprints everywhere as they are handling so much charcoal nearly everyday. Aaron is teaching Sakka how to forge and he has now completed his first knife, and is now working on the hard part: sanding, hour upon hour……

I’ve been alternating between the knitting circle and my crazy quilt. I love the idea of crazy quilts- all the fun mismatched pieces of beauty I’ve collected over the years being blended together to make a work of art. I’ve been making mine multi-layered and have even added faux flowers and leaves to create patterns along with the embroidery. I love mixing things like this, practicing quilting, embroidery, ribbon embroidery and wool work all in one piece creates deminision I could never achieve otherwise and serves to keep me from getting bored with a project. I really think it’s all about figuring out the personal little quirks it takes for you to get things done, the same methods simply don’t apply to everyone. Though really, my bigger issue tends to be how I like to overload my plate. “I want to do all the things!!!” then a week later I’m huddled in the corner crying that I can’t keep up with everything. Pacing and Finishing are ongoing battles, but I get better every year as I become frustrated with the emotional strain of acting otherwise.

 

I’ve been asked the question before, why bother to knit socks or sew quilts or craft x,y,z when you can get it cheaper at the store? And really it’s about something beyond money(gasp!! I know, in this culture? is it possible?) but it’s true. It’s about 1.) simply having a channel to create something of beauty( I also find it quite meditative), 2.) being able to make it custom in ways you can’t find in a store such as size, color and oftentimes full designs, and most importantly 3.) not being part of the system of human slave labor, corporate overlords and environmental destruction. If we raise sheep or purchase wool from independent farmers, we are being ecologically and local economy conscious. If we make it ourselves we have an outlet for creativity, a means to show love to our friend family, and we are not participating in the cycle of slave labor forced on 3rd world countries. Sure, it takes time, but I can talk and knit/sew, or watch a movie and knit/sew or ride in the car and knit/sew and, well, you get the picture. It doesn’t really impede life at all, and in fact makes all the little pockets of idleness and waiting throughout life far less tedious. Though I have offended many people trying, I cannot read a book and have a conversation at the same time, so handicrafts must suffice. It’s also such a wonderful feeling of accomplishment when I finish a project. It’s there, in my hands, a little piece of my life and I can use it or gift it how I choose. I have simply found it a much more positive and powerful way to give of my life-energy, and have found I appreciate it more when it’s given to me in a likewise fashion. As with everything, it’s about not being part of the mainstream cycle.