Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Birds of paradise


It's been a wild while. Sometimes m life seems a little too schizophrenic to me from moment to moment; editing on my computer wearing sweatpants, then an hour later digging in the garden, or drinking raspberry wine on a field surrounded by musicians and goats, then mushrooming and wildcrafting with C, or wandering the woods in a vintage slip taking pictures of my wares, or making jewelry into the night.
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Not that I'm complaining. Because, I realize, I've got nothing to complain about. Except maybe there's not enough hours in a day. 
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Want to see how all this hard work pans out? Well, fingers crossed, Fireweed and Nettle opens tomorrow, right in time for May Day!

Solidarity! Finnish mead! Flower crowns in honor of Flora! Frocks and finery! Feathers from imaginary birds!

And then this weekend we're having a big birthday bash for our 1-year-old shop and my kid sister is coming up just for that!

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Oh and, since I'm the luckiest gal alive it seems, guess what I scored on our off-Island extravaganza?!?! Yep, a pair of mint condition, right-sized Frye boots from the floor of Value Village, for only $6.50! I know, right? I'm pretty sure I'm about to get hit by lightning.
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But if that doesn't happen, I'll see ya all tomorrow!
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Peace, Love and Baby Goats!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

You walked down a busy street, staring solely at your feet.


I'm heading out of town for some important fun, business business, I'll be back soon. In between farm chores, sea shores and mending, minding and messing around, it'll be fun to go on a little field-trip with partners and friends.

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In the meantime though, is anyone else having absolutely crazy (moon induced), possibly prophetic, dreams?!!?? I've had a few very vivid, seemingly important ones of late.

See you on the other side!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Family Portrait

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You may remember the Procession of The Species from last year. It's a parade of animals, real and mythical, that some friends of ours put on every year around Earth Day.

C. seems to traditionally have an awesome mask about ready to debut and I cobble together whatever I've got kicking around the closet. Actually I'm pretty sure that if you wrote down like ten ideas for a costume I could do five or six of them straight out of my closet. I don't like to brag, but I did grow up in the theatre playing hide-and-seek in the costume department.

Making costumes is totally one of the many things I look forward to if we ever have a little one ourselves. While I remember how my mom was not interested in crafting with me when I was little, the seamstresses at the theatre made all of my costume dreams come true from age 5 on, no matter how elaborate, and I remember too the joy of turning into someone, or something else...one of the great pleasures of kid-hood.
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C.'s Bear mask has genuine bear-fur eyebrows curtesy of a generous friend who had a few bear hides, you know, kicking around. He's holding his Raven rattle, which he kept shaking as we took photos. After a while, a real raven started responding from the woods, cawing and rattling and tattling away the whole rest of the time. Most every time C. shook his rattle, the Raven replied from the trees.

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This was the most fun we've had in a long time, partly because it was exciting for me to experiment with photographing another model besides myself, in a more constructed setting than just snapping away and partly 'cos, you know, it's fun to traipse around the sunny spring woods with animal masks on and make merry.
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I was kind of shocked that C. was a willing participant in the picture shenanigans, since usually he gets annoyed with my obsession of getting just the right compositions and light and colors. It's the tiny cinematographer in me. No really, it's tiny, I'm a word girl. Word.
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Since my complaints about camera woes, I've actually been getting really good shots. The lack of depth and close-up focus quality still drive me nuts, but I'm determined to make the most of what I've got.
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These images of C. beneath one "our" old growths actually kind of gives me the chills. There's something eerie about it. It's so interesting to me how, watching the parade, kids are spooked by masks, believing that they transform the person beneath them into another being, even in spite knowing who's under there.
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One of the moms I talked to at the parade was a little huffy about having "scary" masks where there's kids around and honestly, I kind of wanted to roll my eyes (Totally not okay to roll your eyes at anyone I know. But I did on the inside since the assumption is that as a child-free person, I obviously know absolutely nothing about kids, right?) at her.

Being scared and figuring out why and of what, is totally part of growing up. In fact, most children themselves seem to go through a fascination with the macabre, the spooky, the spine-tingling. Many want to be scary themselves, hence all those good sheets with holes for ghost outfits, and monster growling jump out of the closet fits. Everyone's entitled to their opinion of course (except people without kids, obviously), but if scary masks are the only thing your kid ever has to figure out, they'll be so darn lucky.
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As for my decidedly un-scary costume, I wore a dress from Missa's last package that is a perfect fit (whaddya know-the girl's a genius) and a really flattering cut, but a brick red/rust color that I'm uncertain of. It's one of those weird things, I'll wear any damn color I want, but tend to gravitate away from earthy tones, toward primary and bright colors.
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The compliments I got for it made me think that I ought to give it another whirl and it is a damn flattering cut. The cardigan came from Sadie, the flats and tights from the dump, as did my tail, of which I was pretty darn proud. It was so lustrous and ridiculous. I'm crafting a little something out of a bunch of that second-hand fur in the vein of this costume.
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I think we found a new favorite photo spot, too.
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How was your weekend?

And scary creatures, or butterflies and rainbows only?

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Happy Half Moon

As a little present from me to you, or rather, my Iceland-friend Jessica D. to you: a rather different heavenly phenomenon.

The night we went hunting for the Aurora together, into the Icelandic wilderness, looking for the light, Jessica was maybe the one out of everyone on the bus that most wanted to see them. She had already gone looking for them once on a boat and this night she was determined. "We'll see them." She told me, "I just know it."
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We drank expensive cheap beer and hot coco and whisky at a hotel in the middle of nowhere, with its own lit-up waterfall and a killer LP collection the guests were welcome to play.  In the lounge, the guide taught folks how to take pictures of the sky at night. We hiked the hills and craned our necks at nothing. We got back in the bus, then back out, again and again, to no avail. A few green shimmers, but no undulating light.
"We'll see them." Jessica repeated.

I was happy just to be there, happy for the adventure, the excitement, but her conviction was contagious. Having seen them many times before, I still hoped we'd see them that night, partly because seeing the Aurora in Iceland felt appropriate, partly because she so much wanted to.
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And see them we did. At two in the morning on the way back to Reykjavik. Suddenly an excited blast of Korean bubbled up at the back of the bus, sleeping bodies rising, Jessica jumping to the window of our two other traveling pals. The bus pulled over and we watched them swirl around, as though moved by some unearthly currents. for a good twenty minutes. I think Jessica cried a little. She got these beautiful shots of them. Before we parted ways that night, we exchanged contact information, so that she could share them with us all.

Thanks Jessica!

We may never meet again, but hey, at least we'll always have Iceland, and the Northern Lights. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

New Ceremony

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Some people call these kinds of posts "life lately", but you know me; I like to be willfully obtuse.
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So life, lately, has been good, breathtaking, magic, magic.
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This whole being a self-employed, semi-employed, a house-wife, a writer, a homesteader...thing, though is actually way more time-consuming than one might think. I'm totally still figuring out how to be productive and have a good balance between, work, art and play.

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Lucky for me I still have a few paying gigs outside the scary realm of selling my vintage and jewelry and soul brilliant writing ideas. Every once in a while I get to make healing, beautifying cream with a bunch of my favorite women, get thoroughly moisturized up to my armpits and eat delicious food, talk and...

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...try to bottle-feed baby goats.  Cute-coworkers like George here, are a definite bonus.
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I've said this before, but your "work" is so much beyond your day job. It's that, but it's walking the woods in search of food, reading about foreign places, making things, watching the sky for birds, whatever it is you love to do, as well.
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Delicious, delicious work.
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And since we're on the topic of wildcrafting, I'm sure you don't mind some pictures of someone else harvesting nettles in our woods.
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The lovely, empathetic, intuitive, magical Mindy  and her son G came to visit us for the weekend and nettle-gathering was high on the list of things we needed to do together. The amount of stuff we had to talk about, I'm amazed we managed to actually get any picking done.
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Mindy and G were like long-time visitors, adapting to their new environment effortlessly. So much so that when I asked if he wanted to, you know, climb a mountain with me, G barely blinked an eye before uttered an enthusiastic "Yes!".
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What a trooper, that kid.
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I think I've mentioned this before but it's so fun for us to have visitors, because they force us out of our routine and make us see our beautiful surroundings in a whole new way. Or a whole old way really, the way we did when we first came out here.
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I'm ashamed to say it, but it's not often we sit on the beach and build rock towers, or even go out for coffee and walks. Mostly we're wrapped up in our chores, our art, our what-have-yous.
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There's much work to be done on that front. Be more present, go on more outings. Visitors are a wonderful way of catching that traveling spirit I mentioned in my last post.
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Just today, we had friends over for a dinner and meeting on the beach, and when C. came back in he sighed deeply and said "That's better. Whenever I actually go there I just feel so lucky to be able to live here."
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That's what we need. More dinners on the beach. More work in the sun. And I have a feeling there'll be plenty of both this coming season.
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As for lives, lately, I've also been trying out a few test shots for my wears, and feeling more than ever that I "need" a new camera. For the last year, I feel like I've noticed that my photos are getting markedly better and my interest in trying out different visual ideas and needing functions my point-and-shoot doesn't offer growing. Of course, a camera doesn't make a photographer, but I do find myself frustrated with mine a lot.
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Anyways, if anyone's got tips on this topic, they'd be much appreciated and in case you're wondering, the shop should be open by the first of May! Scary. Back to work. 

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Iceland Is A Nice Land

...but more importantly it's the land of my dreams
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You know how there are certain places you've always wanted to visit and sometimes, when asked to examine why, you can't come up with an intellectual response, only an emotional one.
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Since I was a little kid, checking out my grandmother's globe I've always wanted to visit, Japan, Alaska, The Outer Hebrides, Nepal, Tibet, Mongolia, Patagonia...and Iceland. The list has remained pretty constant all through my years of travel dreams, yet by the same token, I've never really aspired to be a world traveler, and therefore have never actively aspired to see any of these places.
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For someone who's lived in several foreign countries, I've always found  "traveling" kind of distasteful. Don't get me wrong, I love adventure and enjoy the anonymity and exotic locales of foreign destinations as much as the next girl, but ever since my generation decided that seeing the world on a grand tour with a backpack was the gateway to "experience" and adulthood, something you had to check off your list, I've preferred staying in a place and getting to know it.
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And as you may know, about seven or eight years ago I developed a little bit of an aversion to flying, so at this point, I doubt I'll ever reach many of those destinations.
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Still, when the opportunity arrived to spend some time in Iceland, which along with Alaska, is my oldest travel obsession, I could hardly contain myself.
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I made no plans, I looked at no travel guides. I just got there and marveled at the vast, primordial expanse of it from the bus window.

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I walked the streets of Reykjavik (a whole post in and of itself) at dusk, and wondered what tomorrow might bring.


I slept very little, woke up a stranger in a strange land, and did something I never thought I'd do.
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No, I didn't hike a glacier, or get wasted at the heavy metal bar directly below my hostel room; I signed up for a bus tour of the local sights along with Japanese grandmothers and Americans from Wisconsin.
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What travel often teaches you, is that it pays off to think outside your box. Chattering tour guides aside, this was the most fun, magical ride I've had in a long time.
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From the Medieval gathering place, seat of the parliament, and the scene of executions by drowning, to the waterfalls and Geysers, sitting on my seat, the predictable sound of Björk in my ears, I felt fully immersed in the landscape, yet totally present in the moment.
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And while it took all my strength at times, to not just wander off into the hills, I also enjoyed the company of our fellow travelers, all people who wanted to be there and marvel at a land so completely different than their own.
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I don't know if it's just the nature of being removed from your own reality, but the days (and nights) I spent in Iceland, seemed longer and more full of experiences than most any before.
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One moment you're looking at the largest Volcano on the island, Hekla, the one you learned about in fifth grade, blowing smoke, getting ready to unleash holy hell and streaming lava, at the next you're eating lambstew, or petting Icelandic horses, or craning your neck to see the Northern Lights.
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All around you a landscape unlike any other unfolds, with mountains in unfamiliar shapes, glacial lakes and rives, small houses under a huge sky.
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You can stand on two different continental plates, not just in the same day, but within fifteen minutes; see where the world under your feet actually cracks.
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Around the bend might lay a valley full of geothermal green houses, or you might rise on a mountain's side into a sudden snowstorm.
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It's hard not to wax lyrical about Iceland.
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The moment the tour started, my instant traveling friends and I were imagining other lives for our selves, ones where we herded sheep along the steep hillside, slept in a house that looked like as it were made of old wood, but was actually constructed from corrugated shipping container-metal.
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"We could live here." We said to each other dreamily. "How could we live here?"
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The land is, not to be redundant, primordial, ancient, yet familiar. A million pictures, music videos and films and books later, a lifetime of exposure to exotic places, its hard to differentiate that secondhand knowledge of somewhere from the sense of having been there before; but my own sense of geographical and emotional deja vu was keen. I felt like this was not the first time I had walked these hills and fjords.
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I can't explain in words, but I felt it. A connection. If not to this place than to this state of being, some cellular memory of the earth in it's volcanic beginnings.
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Yes, it is easy to wax lyrical about a place that's among the youngest on the planet, where the earth is still alive, constantly shifting and moving.
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Where water flows boiling and frozen. Where hillsides look like crouching trolls in the night.
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Where everyone can trace back their roots to the first settlers and people speak thousand-year-old Norwegian and believe, actually believe, in the supernatural in the everyday.
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In a landscape both utterly alien and oddly familiar, it's easy to believe in how different your life might be here, how much less mundane. That, of course is part of the magic of travel.
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In so many ways we are differently people when we travel. We are more laid-back, more adventurous, happier, more curious. We meet people easily. We stay engaged with the present, instead of being distracted and contemplating the past or the future.
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If we lived in the countries we travel to, the towns we visit, we would slowly, day by day, return to our ordinary selves, the ones that are ordinary everywhere. An office is an office still on the edge of glacier. A kid's swimming class is still a swimming class in a geo-thermal pool. Bills must be paid, relationships cultivated, winter coats bought and dinner made.
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Yet if we can retain a little of the spirit of our traveling selves, we are better for it. True freedom and adventure see, comes from having freedom and adventure each day, not just on special vacations and in extraordinary places.
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Which is why, I will carry Iceland with me always now, through the though times and the good, a secret place inside myself in which the earth is still very young and I am curious and wild and free.

(And possibly protozoan nummulite?)
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Where is the land of your dreams?

ps. stay tuned for more Scandinavian adventures!