Sunday, October 25, 2015

Making Honey for the Heart

Honey for the Heart. Sigh. I surrender: it is our October.  This year is like puppets on crazy juice, amped up and SO BIG.  There are several visiting artists who have joined in the three weeks of making, and they bring shape, energy, and knowledge to the event that has really enriched the whole experience. There is always someone around to bounce ideas off of and the responsibility for seeing it all get done isn't falling on one person's shoulders, so there is, dare I say it, more joy in the room! Hard to imagine, but there it is.  

Ani and I spent much of the first week doing paper mache.  Whatever needed moving along to its next stage, that's what we worked on.  A huge joy this year for me is seeing her feel really competent and confident, not needing to be right with me all the time.  I turned around one day and she was helping a class of college students who had just come in learn how to paper mache. (I know you think you know how to paper mache, and it probably works pretty well, but trust me, when you are working on large puppets that are meant to last a while, there actually is a better way! It starts with cornstarch...)

Ani and Zen working on water hags and dragons

mushroom hats!!!! yessssssssssss!

working on the first phalanges of a giant hand

Look who's home and jumping in! She sewed Queen Patty that fancy dress.

Ani and I have been recruited to be bees in the parade.  There is a theme this year - the Chinese elements - and the bees are the clowns of the Fire section.  They're the ones that make the honey for the heart, of course. I was greatly torn between getting to dance as a water hag and follow my true heart to the Earth section as a fungus, but in the end, my daughter asked me to be a bee with her, and I could not refuse to be among the mischief makers. 

Ani and Talal trying out part of their costumes
Dan constructing a cart to carry a makeshift gamelan - yes! Music!!

It's mischievous, glorious, over-the-top fun. Some year I will allow myself to make a whole puppet, but it takes me a while, you know, and I've been content to know I added many layers to many creatures, and that my spirit will be a part of the magic that is happening this week. If you are in Southeast Ohio and need an invitation, here it is: please come!!! You won't be sorry. 

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

making all the specials happen!

This past month we accomplished the seemingly impossible: every member of our family was in a different state for several days. GULP. This mama's heartstrings were pulled tight and long. It was mind over matter, my friends, mind over matter.  The great thing was that we were all doing what we really wanted to do: Eliza was flying off to Seattle with friends from her baby days there, Ani was embraced in her Mormor's care in Madison, Dan was busy doing his theater thang here in Ohio, and I was driving with my dear Jen, through the crazy rain, to North Carolina for our annual fill-er-up at the Southeast Wise Women's Herbal Conference.

Bon Paul & Sharkey's Hostel in Asheville
 We landed in Asheville, with our friend Sarah, and had an evening to be adults in a city together.  We walked around, ate Ethiopian food, and were in bed by nine. What can I say?

who is photo-bombing whom?
This is the fifth year Jen and I have attended the conference, and we've worked more hours every year, becoming more and more a part of the inner workings.  This year was intense with the hurricane weather we were getting from the east coast; lots of rain and lots of wind.  There was a lot of pulling up by the bootstraps and making a go of it, much improvisation and a good amount of chocolate. 

We were exhausted by the time the conference started, but so was everyone else, and I saw so many smiles peering out from under umbrellas, hats, and garbage bags. 

I must say that we made a name for ourselves with our MC Hammer-style rain gear: garbage bags with leg holes, tied around our waists. We wore them the entire weekend. High fashion.

soggy, soggy Red Tent

The ducks joined us up on the green, floating on the deep puddles and catching grubs.  A crayfish made its way into one of the classroom tents; the teacher was kind enough to step around it during her lecture.

Umbrella and tutu. That's the spirit!
The classes, though soggy and occasionally hard to hear from the downpour on the canvas roofs, did not disappoint.  I attended classes on type II diabetes and understanding bloodsugar; dreamwork and stone medicine; brain waves and the pineal gland, and 21st century gut health.  I ate delicious food and clutched my warm coffee to me during morning talks. We fell into bed early, so tired that we were actualy able to sleep on the plastic matresses, through the snores of our congested room-mate. We were nourished and felt like we worked hard and accomplished something by helping the conference go on in spite of the dramatic weather.  

Our last morning we helped move chairs from a tent that was collapsing from the rain and the wind, and crammed 75 or so women under a shelter to hear this firey elfin woman - her name is Whapio - talk about brain waves and altered states, and hormones that we share with all living things, even plants.  It was incredibly interesting and inspiring and we were all ridiculously happy to be there, together, huddling when the huge gusts threatened to blow everything over, listening to this woman speak her passion.

I always find that there are a few key messages woven through the talks I attend that get repeated over and over.  This year - some of you might be happy to hear - they emphatically reiterated what I heard last year: eat good fats!! EAT GOOD FATS!!! (Animal fats, butter, coconut oil) 

The other message was about awakening the heart: finding the places in life that make your heart blossom and nurturing them. Court altered states through art, music, yoga, meditation, nature, dancing - places where you are in your zone and can access a wider understanding.  Does this sound woowoo to you? Mmmhmmm, well here is my other message: change happens beyond your comfort zone. Ain't that the truth. 

So, we arrived home in record time, because as we climbed out of the green valley that is Asheville, we climbed out of the storm and the path home was dry!! Hallelujah!! There waiting for me was Dan, and my mom, who had driven down with Ani.  I am so grateful for all of the little pieces and big-hearted people who came together to make all of the specials happen at once.  We did it!!

Saturday, October 10, 2015

poetry on the bus

A team of wonderful artists headed by my good friend Molly and joined by our beloved local poet, Wendy McVicker (also a friend in the making and one of the girls' teachers) succeeded this week in completing a project long in the works: poetry wrapping around and throughout one of our small town's main buses.  Ani and I joined them to celebrate the unveiling of the bus with a trip through town, and a poetry reading in motion.  The bus was packed and spirits were high! It is such a treat to see this bus coming down the street.

We rode after everyone but Wendy got off. Ani is mesmerized...

In Summer 

we rolled down
the fresh–mown hills
into pools of dusk.
One by one, up
and down the street,
the small square houses
lit up, like ships
at sea, rocking
on the tide of night.
We swam from yard
to yard, our bodies
flickered in the spaces
between hedges, slipped
as easily as shadows
down gravel driveways.
Our eyes grew large
and luminously deep.
We knew the sound
of each one’s footsteps, the taste
of each one’s breath.
The night air
ran down our skin, smeared
with green.
We bit off blades of grass
and tongued them, sharp
whistles arcing
across the sky.
When our mothers
called us in, their voices
were like a net
cast over the night
catching us in its folds
pulling us out of the darkness—
and we came
reluctant, blinking,
opening and closing our mouths
without a sound

by Wendy McVicker