“If you look deeply into the palm of your hand, you will see your parents and all generations of your ancestors. All of them are alive in this moment. Each is present in your body. You are the continuation of each of these people.” Thich Nhat Hanh, Vietnamese Monk, Activist and Writer.
We live within a mobius of meaning, an ever-birthing continuum of stories. Our stories don’t begin with us and they will continue when we are no longer. Once upon a time is our matrix. We are all connected in the continuum of the Women of Once Upon a Time. The Charm Chest of my life includes my story, also the stories of those I follow. These are the stories of my grandmothers, the women of once upon a time, the whispers that carry across the ages telling me the stuff I know that I don’t how I know, the voices I hear echoed in my own voice. Research now indicates we carry their stories in our blood, our DNA code, our inner Charm Chest. It is with these women, my own Circle of Grandmothers, that I have learned the source and value of my accumulated charms, the offerings that I will contribute to those who follow me. SKML
Welcome. Please enjoy this excerpt from my memoir in process.
Again I have strayed from my tasks.
It’s my three year anniversary as guardian of Compostella. Today in celebration I will stray from my to-do list and the lawns will not be mowed.
I have strayed into and out of relationship with my former husband. There are months of presence, months of little, and months of none. I am too moody, too capricious, too smart, too sassy, too bossy, too, too too damn much trouble, Rick says, then returns to his home. But this story is not about my relationship with my husband. Another time, another tale, perhaps.
I have strayed from the agendas of others. I’m learning to say no, sort of.
Although liberating, to stray is costly. One risks being exiled. And to be in exile is to be marooned. Is there a promise of redemption hidden in the chasm of exile?
I’m grateful that soon my field of heavenly earth will be tucked under a blanket of interwoven leaves, memories, and snowfall.
Straying from the trajectory of my life before Compostella has left me tired in every facet of my being. I didn’t know I could be so exhausted. Mowing, weeding, planting, tending, harvesting, canning are relentless tasks, never ending without a change of the season. Raising the learning curve is painful, with many bumps on the head and heart. I’ve learned to paint cottages, set tile, hang blinds, and to scrub, scour, make a living space for each new tenant fresh and inviting.
It was a hot summer day two months ago when fires raged up the canyon sending smoke over the valley. Wearing a yellow tee-shirt I walked into the greenhouse to put my shovel away. My mind was on trimming ivy from the house, setting up the ladder, finding the clippers and my gloves. That is until the shovel handle hit a nest, sending irate yellow jackets swarming. Invited by my yellow tee-shirt many of them landed on me, biting me viciously seventeen times, in spite of my screaming and cursing with my best outlaw language. I screamed, still relieved nobody was there to hear me: “I’m leaving this fucking place.”
I cried, staring at my chapped hands, gnawed fingernails, and my sunburned, sweaty, wrinkling more by the minute skin. I cried harder. Heartbroken by the state of my life. I had taken the wrong road, there was no doubt. For the first time in my life I was experiencing allergies. I felt drained physically, emotionally. Every day was a financial struggle, maintaining the balance between the improvements I longed to make and those I could without guilt. In my dream Compostella was an art colony, a school for earth based spiritual studies, a bed and breakfast, a perfectly coiffed garden, an estate worthy of my boundless imagination.
I longed to wear my burgundy high heeled boots, a slinky silk blouse with lacy camisole, a sexy skirt, my ‘good’ jewelry, my dramatic hooded vicuna cape. My New York wardrobe that I kept separated from my other clothes, still hung in the back of my closet as a shrine to my other self. “This life is not me. It’s not worth it. The earth mother sojourn just simply is not worth it.”
I soaked in the tub for an hour after infusing myself with a massive dose of Vitamin C, then soothed the bites with baking soda. Two vodka sodas later my pity party was well underway. I resigned myself to having failed and went to the garage, found cardboard boxes and started packing my books.
My friend Marcia Reynolds, Psy.D, tells a teaching story about the importance of learning to get past the ‘fuck it’. For those moments when the dream feels impossible and the urge to walk away almost wins, you rise up and push through, carrying onward, having risen to greater level courage, rather than having quit the journey.
Well past my ‘moment’ I woke thankful for mornings when the sun is rising, the grass smells of green, when the plants are covered with rainbow droplets of dew, for the tree branches now engaged in a breathless lusty tango under the Aphrodite tree.
Yes, I’m still straying. But straying doesn’t always mean lost.But I did go a bit crazy following my near retreat from my beloved property.
It is said that one meets canny strangers while taking a pilgrimage.
I did. And the canny stranger was me.
I don’t know if it was a primal need to mark my territory or just plain eccentricity, but I spent many evening hours with a magic marker writing inspirational quotes on my living room and hallway walls.
I should have taken photographs of the scribbles of my madness, but I did not. I have no idea why this quotation by Rimbaud was meaningful at the time, but it was most evidently by the size and flourish of my script. To whom must I sell myself? What beast must I worship? What sacred image are we attacking? Whose heart shall I break? What lie should I tell? In whose blood shall I walk?”
I scribbled on my sidewalks, making up gems of wisdom as I was inspired to do so. Gems such as: All one needs is a lamp and a knife. You are my canvas, I am yours. My home as my studio, my studio as my home. Give and take with landscape, you have no choice.
To this day I don’t know what I was attempting to communicate, or to whom. But then, I was in an altered state for a decade, very likely there is a great deal of essential meaning I don’t remember and much of my journaling is unintelligible.
Paradise is a place that is neither in the past nor in the future, but where anyone who gardens is ever- dreaming.
Crop art doesn’t require an entire field, only a garden.
Women’s tools include a tarp, shovel, and wheel barrow, we move things at inch at a time, and ounce by ounce.
Still working on art book about homemaking. Tending the Temple, I will call it. My intention is to overturn the devaluing of the mundane. To reveal the rhythm, the eternal doing and being. No need for splashy statements. Little acts create great meaning.
My muse at this time is water. You can’t put the muse in your art, you must discover it after completion.
I’m designing a kitchen installation: fruit jars, orderliness of cabinets, fragrances, vinegars, spices, contrast with antique tea pots, etc. Viewers could interact by touching cornmeal, beans, rice…
Sigh. As I admitted, I went a little crazy. But gestating in the craziness was a seed.