Saturday, August 16, 2014

Right Over The Edge Of The Earth

Lately,  instead of simply navigating onto a new page from it, I often actually deactivate my Facebook account. Without announcements and explanations, just like slipping out of the backdoor to leave the party. I used to take internet sabbaticals, for a week, or a day, the mornings, or the evenings, but lately, with work that requires computer time,  that hasn't really been an option. And when I'm already online, surfing around to different social media sites, or blogs, or news pages becomes an almost subconscious act, a stress relief valve, a cigarette brake for the modern age.

To be able to remove an option from the list, to simply not automatically navigate to somewhere that's now mostly just pictures of kids and endless quizzes, memes and pseudo-witty commentary, has become almost a guilty pleasure. Facebook is the easiest internet convenience to give up. Were it not for the fact that it's a good way to keep in touch with faraway friends, I would be done with the whole platform already. But it's also a kind canary in a social media coal mine: when checking your feed becomes a chore, it's time to step back.

This summer in particular the accumulation of comments, messages, conversations, this other life, has been a little exhausting. Having to check my email daily for work is not something I relish, and during stressful times, it actually becomes and added stresser, something I dread doing. Internet sabbaticals haven't really been an option and the more engaged you are, the easier it is to continue to be engaged.

There are parts of my internets existence that I love and consider and important piece of my life. Like, say this blog and the blogs of my friends and readers. But when I walk away from it, I hardly think about it at all and sometimes, that is one of the best parts of vacations and adventures away from civilization, the headspace of not sharing your head space with others.

But even still I often feel like whenever I go on a trip, I have to prepare this blog the way I set up my house for my return; scheduling posts and arranging topics, making sure everything goes on as usual even though I' gone. And that's what I was planning to do for the next few weeks. Because somehow, subconsciously, I've started to think of blogging, of social media as something where you have to check in or you'll disappear.

My friend Amber, one of my first friends that I met through blogging, once said something that really unsettled me and has stuck with me ever since: while you're not online, people continue to interact with your online persona as though you were. And it's true, upon my return, I often find that the conversation has gone on, as though I was still there reading it.  That seems a little dishonest to me right now. I want to be part of the conversation. And I'm sure you guys can do without my witty repartee and cat pictures for a few brief weeks. So:  

I'm leaving. We're going on long camping trip, rather faraway. I'll be back in the fall. Have a grand time without me! Safe travels. Peace and love and cats,

ps. If you think I'm broadcasting on the internets that we're not home, fret not, there's actually gonna be more people staying here than ever before;)

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Flower Power

This past weekend, I got to hang out at a friend's flower studio, while she made floral arrangements with the aid of another florally-gifted friend, crafted table arrangements and altar pieces for two island weddings, out of blooms all grown right there, just down the dirt road, in the field beyond the chickens and he horses.

The studio, is a half-indoor, half-outdoor space with chickens scratching around and the breeze blowing through the valley. Friends and kids and cats come by to check it out, or visit, or deliver messages. It's mundane and magical both. Inside, mounds of calendula blooms are drying in anticipation of being made into a healing, nourishing cream.

During wedding season, these ladies have to hustle to get their arrangements out the door and to the customers, but for me it was a much needed brake to get to sit down and craft some flower crowns for our dear friends who were getting married.

With pink, yellow and as I was repeatedly reminded, white which shows up better in pictures and from a distance, and a healthy sprinkling of high-bush cranberry bunches from the front yard, I tried my hardest to make sure the wreaths complimented both the groom's pink pants and the bride's complexion.

There is something downright magical about flowers, all flowers. From the exotic-looking ranunculus (They're like a cross between tiny peonies and those yellow water lilies!) and dahlias, to traditional pink and red roses, to bold sunflowers, to even the humble roadside Queen Anne's Lace, or yarrow.

Obviously, as much as I love wild bouquets, I wouldn't say no to immersing myself into bucketfuls of carefully garden grown blooms daily, given the opportunity.

Like all growing things, flowers have a way of uplifting your mood. They are so easy to marvel at, with their wild shapes and colors, their crazy abundance at the right hands. But unlike vegetables, the pleasure they create is a little more esoteric. It's not the joy of eating, though some flowers are certainly edible, but rather, feasting with your eyes.

And that, my friends, can be just as nourishing sometimes…

Do you grow flowers? What kinds? I have poppies and sunflowers and a cosmos, and some Northwest wildflowers, but I swear, next year, I'm going to have some more.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Come Together

This weekend we went to the kind of Island wedding where you get to visit with literally everyone and their mom. I love these events and they are too few and far between. Though in many ways, our community is much more tight-knit than many others in this day and age, both by the necessity of living on an island, and by the choice of like-minded folks coming together, there are only a few gatherings a year when most of us truly are  in one place.

Sure there are gatherings of different individual factions all the time: friends, bands, contra dancers, quilters, young families, drinking buddies, carvers, farmers, old fogeys, medicine makers, language classes, movie nighters, knitters, mbira players, wealthy charity ladies, poker sharks, singing groups, and just about any other group of folk you could imagine living on a small island in the Pacific, will regularly and irregularly hang out in all sorts of constellations. There are parties and get-togethers and retreats and just plain old dinner parties all the damn time (a frequent joyous gripe of mine-too much of a good thing), but our community at large, people of all ages and niches, rarely get to all come together.

That said, we do have a few steady annual celebrations, including the Solstices, Graduation, the Barn Dance, the community Thanksgiving, where we all gather together, everyone (and their mom) from close friends to acquaintances.

Just as often though, the celebrations of individual lives, the weddings, the baby circles, and sadly, sometimes memorials, are where we get to really visit with all of our friends and neighbors.

It's these events that often remind us how wonderful being part of a community really is. Standing on a lawn under August stars with people who know, if not all of you, then enough about to ask about your family, your life, how you've been, who are happy to see you and who care enough to welcome you with a hug.

When we celebrate our graduates, the babies that are going to be born, the kids that are growing and someday, like last Saturday, starting families of their own, we also celebrate ourselves.

The setting is almost always the same, only the starring parts get redistributed. There are kids running around in various stages of fancy dress and dirtiness. There is food and drink  and unpredictable conversations, with random people you haven't seen in a coons age (about a month). There are moms, and grandmothers, and grandpas, and aunties, and cousins, and brothers, and sisters-by-another-mother.

There are usually memories of the beautiful bride, or the blushing groom, or the handsome young graduate, as a toddling child, or a teenage terror.

And there are equally memories of the elders as very, very wild young men and women, of adventures, and farms, and unions and separations, and businesses and homesteads long gone, of good fishing years and bad harvests and escaped pigs. And then there are plans for the future of adventures, and farms, and businesses, and homesteads, and harvests and pigs too...

And always, there is music and singing and dancing.

We put on our good duds, the dancing shoes mandated by the invitation. We ride our bikes in the golden shimmer of the August dusk with potluck dishes and beverages rattling in our baskets. We watch the Perseids meteor shower rain down above the laughing bride and listen to the waves on the beach  below us. We do-si-do-e with older gentlemen and twirl with the little girls. We ask our neighbors how the heck they're doing. We have spirited conversations and laugh our heads off.

Together, we have a mighty good time. 

Friday, August 1, 2014

So 90s

My husband has a special hatred of the 90s TV character Blossom. Generally when he disapproves of a garment I'm wearing, it's because "Blossom would have worn that." As a pre-teen, I loved Blossom. She was the zany, strong-willed girl with cooky style, who was cute and adorable without being conventionally pretty. Plus on 6th grade one of the popular mean girls told me I looked like her. I'm pretty sure it was an insult, but I took it as a compliment. So when Charlie makes derogatory remarks about my Blossom-style, I know my twelve-year-old-self thinks I'm killing it with my outfit!

You're not supposed to love the styles of the era of your teens when it comes back to style, but honestly, I never really stopped loving the 90s. It was the first time I ever felt like style-rules weren't just tied to having your parents buy you the right things. In fact, it felt like there were no rules. There was a real creativity to getting to be in charge of your own wardrobe in the 90s. Much like these days, almost anything went: maxi skirts, mini skirts, dresses, jeans, overalls...

Oh and vests. They go together with 90s dresses and skirts like conjoined twins. The contingent of early 90s apparel I have the most love for is definitely the grunge-y layering old thrift store finds. Big cardigans, overalls, flannels, army coats, boots with everything, slouchy beanies with everything, are pretty much my staples from decade to decade.

I love 90s floral patterns and am forever in search for the perfect sunflower dress to replicate the one I rocked back in the day. This summer 90s rayon dresses and skirts have been my go-tos more than ever, since it's been way too hot even here in the PNW for tight-bodiced cotton prairie dresses.

Speaking of which, my 90s were very much the 70s all over again: bell-bottom jeans from grandma's attic, Stevie Nicks, vintage velvet, big bohemian earrings, peasant blouses, corduroy minis and tie-dye and striped tops and mandarin jackets.

Some things never change, especially if like me, you're prone to terminal nostalgia. Speaking of which: how is it that putting pictures of oneself in clothes on the internets seems to have gone full circle from embarrassing to normal and back to embarrassing? At least in my own circle of favorite blogs it seems to have been relegated to the back shelf, into the realm of "fashion bloggers".

Having always loved seeing other people's personal style and reading about their inspiration feel like it's time to bring back the outfit shot. Can I start "a 90s fashion blogger"-meme, or something?

What are you wearing this hot, hot summer?

Edit: I swear to God that is not my good side. Maybe I'm just left-handed…Also, hilarious headpoof in third picture :D

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

This Year's Mullet

(Before: the demure folksinger.)

Usually when people ask me what this blog is about, I mumble something about, "my life and stuff", which is a fairly accurate description. If pressed, I could probably rattle of a few choice words like "The natural world, homemaking, herbal stuff, personal style, books, spirituality…", but really, "my hair", sits squarely among the most enduring topics of this blog.

At least once a year, I post some sort of harrowing tale about haircare, or more often, the lack thereof. I've posted about dry-shampoo, the-no-shampoo-method, generally never washing my hair, the environmental and emotional perils of dip-dye, and of course, my signature hairstyle (Can one actually call the length of the front-half of one's hair a style?): also known as bangs (or fringe if you're British). These posts seem to always mention the dichotomy between my being sort of obsessed with my hair, yet in a very abstract manner, where I absolutely refuse to spend any time, energy, or money on it (But will devote the time to bitch about it on the internet?).

One side-effect of my love-hate-hair-relationship seems to be that whenever my hair is just about perfect, the perfect length, texture, color, whatever, I get fixated on changing it somehow. I was, for instance, really happy with how my hair was right before I bleached the s*** out of it and dyed it crazy mermaid colors. Similarly, whenever my bangs reach what seems like the perfect "70s-folk-singer-length", I get the overwhelming urge to chop them into a short 90s length, at the risk of giving myself a great and wonderful mullet.

I would blame my most recent encounter with scissors on the concussion I got on Friday, but this seems to be an annual event now.

(After: intense forehead glare.)

Anybody else rocking a fairly awesome bowl-cut-mullet?

ps. In case anyone is wondering when we might get back to regular programming with actual posts, I'm sorry to say I don't have an ETA for anything but pieces about my cats and hair. If you're lucky, I might move onto posting about my dislike of confessional memoirs and preoccupation with embroidering things of absolutely no consequence.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Kettu And Kissa

This is another one of those instances where you non-cat-lovers might want to stop reading right now. This blog I mean. Why are you even here? Just kidding. I totally understand that cats aren't everyone's bag. Well, actually I don't understand it at all, but each to their own weird ways, I say.


You might remember that a while back, I did a little post about the differences and the similarities between Charlie and myself, which was pretty fun. And since I'm sure all of my readers have been dying to get to know my cats better, here's a few select details from the rich tapestry of their feline lives.

Kissa means "cat" in Finnish.

Kissa is 4-years-old.

Kissa has the loudest purr, like a small engine.

Kissa is a little neurotically clean.

Kissa is a scaredy-cat.

Kissa is Kettu's best friend.

Kissa likes yogurt.

Kissa likes to smell the flowers.

Kissa looks like a great horned owl.

Kissa is a puker. Always has been. She's the eat-and-puke-and-repeat-cat.

Kissa thinks Charlie's beard is her mom.

Kissa skulks.

Kissa fights dirty.

Kissa likes sleep in places with room for one only.

Kissa likes to disrupt work, wherever it's happening. She's like a superhero in a world where work is evil.

Kissa likes to sleep in the closet.

Kissa eats kibble. And yogurt. And warm bread. And sourdough starter. And the occasional meat, or fish treat from us. She does not butcher her own meats.

Kissa's constantly worried that things are gonna attack her. She's not paranoid.

Kettu means "fox" in Finnish.

Kettu is named after Fox Mulder. And 'cos she's crazy like a fox. And also orange...

Kettu is 2-years-old.

Kettu has a silent, deadly purr.

Kettu is a daredevil.

Kettu is Kissa's arch nemesis.

Kettu is curious.

Kettu likes oats.

Kettu is a killer (in spite of our best efforts).

Kettu likes to fight.

Kettu likes to attack things.

Kettu is a martial arts expert.

Kettu likes to sleep in bed. And in this box that used to house Argentinian pears.

Kettu says hi to everyone when she comes into a room.

Kettu trots.

Kettu is kind of dirty.

Kettu's tail is always pointing straight up and curled to one side or another.

Kettu likes to sleep in a nest made out of hay in the yard.

Kettu eats moths. And has horrible moth breath afterwards.

They both know how to open doors, but can't figure out how to close them.

They're both expert cat burglars, when it comes to heated rooms and pantries full of sacks of oats.

They both like to sleep on your chest.

They both pull down things like sweaters and shirts, from chairs and shelves to sleep on.

They're both scared of the chickens, but unmoved by deer.

They both know how to say "Mamma!" when they come in the room.

They're both willing to compromise to any lengths to stay warm in the winter.

They're the opposite of each other, but the best of frenemies.

That about sums these glorious beasts up. Got pets? Are they dogs? Just kidding. Sheesh.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

St. John Saves The Day

I'll admit it, I've been in a rotten mood lately.
It's the same old pressures of summer livin' out here, about which I feel like I've written at length already, but which right now are just the reality of my day-to-day.

Whenever I get this way, it's important for me to remember to just ground out, to go outside, make something...

Sometimes I just need to actually get my fingers in the soil, at others collecting plants and making medicines, or just cooking for folks.

Looking for our first eggs, shaking down tiny, cherry-sized plums from the trees into a basket, planting new starts and seeds for winter greens, all suffices well.

These little projects take enough concentration to let me focus and drift away at the same time, allowing for that hard-to-define mental space in which I can relax, unwind and let go. It can be hard to muster the inspiration at first, but it's always worth it in the end.

The other day I was biking home from work I noticed that the bright yellow suns of St. John's Wort had finally opened on the one patch here on the island I've seen. It just so happens to be close to the edge of someone else's yard, or let's be honest, halfway in it, but I've been known to nip a few along my way and that particular day, was struck by the idea that making this particular medicine would benefit my spirit and provide me with tincture and skin oil in the future.

St. John's Wort is one of those plants I feel really connected to. For a number of years now, I've used it as my main beauty moisturizer, thanks to an introduction from my friend Amber, who makes and sell gallons and gallons of the stuff. I wouldn't trade it for anything. Never one for much of cosmetics and fancy products, a simple oil is the perfect thing for my body: it's nourishing, healing, rich and delicious and comprises of exactly two ingredients. Word to the wise though: it can make your skin more sensitive to sunlight.

As for tincturing St. John's Wort: there's no better cure for the blues in all of the herbal realm, in my opinion, but again, a word of warning: it can reduce the effectiveness of your hormonal birth control.

Having never made the oil before, I tapped into some instruction and instinct and now have two jars of golden sun liquid on the windowsill. It's so easy, chop a little, bruise a little, cover in oil, set in the sun…

There they sit now, serving as a good reminder of the power of making a little something for yourself amidst the madness of daily life.

What have you been making?

ps. Sauerkraut making is a perfectly grounding experience ;)