Thursday, January 21, 2016

Freeing the logjams to go with the flow

"Early Thursday morning the Gemini Moon opposes Venus in Sagittarius before moving back into its home territory in Cancer. If you’re up early, it helps to prioritize, maybe even make a list. This prevents dithering and promotes a sense of satisfaction!..." - Satori
Last night I finished the latest of my medicine stories Nine is for endings. The story sat for several weeks, unsure of how or if it needed something else to conclude things. My storytelling tends to flow up and over; never ending on the one hand new characters might join an old story. This winter has been a difficult one and the analogy of a logjam fits the feeling for it. Whether a jam is created solely as a result of my choices and habits or a cog in the collective energy it's probably a little of both. I write these short stories that I call medicine stories because they are a way through or over the emotional and physical congestion my immune system must manage. I am grateful for story for its powerful expression is like water flowing around obstacles and freeing me through the dialogue of imagined or pieced-together characters; a bit of this person from my everyday cobbled with an inspiration from history or a practice of ancestors. I  put together my latest experiences with the writing and my own longing to prioritize and make use of today's celestial flow and alignments as Satori suggests.

Story's Medicine

Nine is for endings is a story about the power of elemental forces applied to the life of a family brought together from different parts of the globe; and include the inter-species characters as well as elemental gods. When I finished with the EPILOGUE I emailed my old friend and loyal reader to tell her I used a different sort of vessel to end the story. Inspired by the re-reading of Charles DeLint's 1984 urban fantasy classic MOONHEART I borrowed his form of closure and applied it to Nine is for endings; a fictional blog post gives the readers a reporter's view of the culminating event in Nine is for endings. 

The EPILOGUE for my medicine story begins, "The article appeared in Seattle's Blog on Monday, December 28, 2016. "Christmas Gala Brings the House Down" ... (Link here to read the entire closing.)

My friend wrote back, saying she enjoyed the story and had many questions. She knows why I write these stories and is one who can and does read between the lines. Still, I was surprised she could see the backstory in this author. I was not aware I was transparent (to her). She asked, "Are you longing for such a solution; do you know of such a solution; are you working on a joint living arrangement?"

I answered, "Yes; No, not yet; Yes." 

I mean, yes, I am longing to see creative solutions that include a wide and diverse definition of community to address issues like affordable birthing centers, and housing options for the homeless. There are challenges and reactions to the homeless issues in cities, towns and neighborhoods through the country where we live. The reactions (such as 'sweeps') of the homeless camps are not solutions, you cannot use a leaf blower to clear the streets of people who have nowhere else to go. Personally, I am in favorite of eliminating the leaf blower for cleaning leaves all together. What happened to using rakes? 

"No, not yet" meant I don't know of a solution, but can imagine one that has the elements of diversity and creativity such as the character Maydene Short implements. 

The final 'yes' is the creative bridge-work that I use to aid me in my personal, and real-time life. I am, we are, my husband Pete and I, working on a new joint living arrangement. The six year experiment of living in the woods on a Salish Sea Island is nearing conclusion. We need to re-envision safe and affordable housing for us. We have learned what works for two nearly-seventy year old human beings with MCS. We have learned to create solutions of shared living, but then we age/change, the people we live with change; and the environment around us changes as well. We have also learned there are limits to what we can do. That's where the final paragraph of Satori's Daily Forecast: January 21, 2016 comes in: "If you make today what logic would call a mistake tomorrow? Roll with it. It needed to happen. Trust and believe. Have a little faith."

 Rain has come again to the Salish Sea. Puddles grow between the Quonset hut and Vardo creating flow. The medicine of story, and the blog give me a pole to free up the logjam, writing my way through one log, one word and sentence at a time. Add to that the simple and grounding walking routine I've begun, and there is flow going on! I need to trust and believe; it's one of my core challenges in life. Here's an opportunity to have a little faith.  

Jt thanks for the questions. 

Friday, January 15, 2016

On the trails

 Bundle me up in layers, and put my feet on the hills
 My eyes and innards crave the light so hidden in the deep forests,
 Seasonal sadness drains my esteem
 But if it is an accident that puts me behind the driver's seat, turns the ignition to my faithful carriage now recently repaired and refurbished for a new dozen years ...
 Then it is "Thank you" that is the best and simplest of prayers to offer the Gods and Goddesses, the Sun the Moon, the Wind, and the Rooted Ones
 Let me, and I do, sit on a bench and become part shadow at the top of the hill walk breathing and resting as my self feels the light inside my body
The trails are open, trod by paws and boots I add mine and find peace in the activity. Grateful. Playful. Out of the woods for a daily reminder that the trails are there for the exploration and into the light I go.

The tails pictured here are from Green Bank Farms in Freeland, Washington. 

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Remembering Maurice Sendak (Chicken Soup with Rice)

For more ways to remember Maurice Sendak go to Brain Pickings

Friday, January 8, 2016

HAPPY SEVENTH BIRTHDAY Makua O'o January 5, 2016

Seven years of blogging here. This surprised me! The start of my blogging life began when Pete and I imagined and then took the literal journey of creating a tiny home on wheels in 2008. Many new discoveries made life different when we began building Vardo For Two. But it was the creation and birthing of my second blog, this one, Makua o'o that has sustained the fire of creativity and writing via the blog. From these pages I have grown deep and unusual roots; and reached into the mythic world to create medicine stories that are a hybrid of memoir and applied wish-making for a world I'd love to live in.

Gift-giving as a Birthday Tradition

While I have kept Makua o'o alive with my musings and muddlings, three bloggers and their sites have been my steady backup and source of light. People across the Earth have a tradition of giving gifts rather than receiving them on their birthday. I'd like to thank my personal Backup Band of Bloggers; and acknowledge them here while including a small piece of each blogger's recent gifts of hope, insight, astrological navigation, and creative mojo boost:

ElsaElsa ... The internet's First Astrology Blog Ever (used to be her tag)

I discovered ElsaElsa in the early days of trying to make sense of a very different kind of life while we lived in a kitchen and built a Gypsy wagon as home. Through Elsa's constant storytelling, astrology and commitment to building a community (through her blog, forum, regular free newsletter, consulting services, periodic online workshops, and affordable astrology reports) Elsa Panizzon and satori (Lara Satori Harris) have established themselves as solid mentors for thousands of people worldwide.

This is an excerpt from Elsa's January 6, 2016 Newsletter (Free Subscription) today

"The Sun conjuncts Pluto in Capricorn...
How are you going to live?
What are your rules?
Where are your lines? (Saturn)
If your creativity is blocked (most likely by fear), how are you going to transform the situation?
The need for structure is further emphasized by the Moon, Venus, Saturn conjunction in Sagittarius.
The whole sky begs you act like an adult, control your emotions like an adult, do right by others, like an adult!

The message in this newsletter speaks right to me. I can apply those questions to my life. I emailed Elsa earlier today to thank her for the insight and questions to stimulate a positive use of the energy she described. Over time I have donated a small monthly thank-you to show my appreciation. Unexpected expenses make it difficult for me to do that right now. I wrote to assure her she's always on my list of gratitudes, and soon there would be a few dollars coming her way.

This 'virtual world' thing can be a true support when a blogger or site author translates the give-and-take of face to face communication as real as ... the velveteen rabbit, or a kind and quirky neighbor you enjoy sharing your morning tea with.

Thank you Elsa and Satori for the years of growing a community of generosity, humor and astrology applied to real life. You are a real force for me and Pete!

Myth and Moor

Writer, artist and book editor Terri Windling authors the blog Myth and Moor. Every morning I start my day with a cup of tea (Wild Forest Black my current fav) and Myth and Moor. I was originally steered to this blog because I was reading and following the parallel journey of Devon neighbor artist and puppeteer, Rima Staines. My loyalty to Terri Windling's generous posts about writing, creativity, chasing the muse, and building creative community has fed my writing life with magic. For this I am deeply appreciative. Magic and mythic entanglements have been my immune system's finest remedies and from them I find hope.

The topic of gifts: giving and receiving them is current at Myth and Moor. An archive post appears on a recent post "Gracious Acceptance". It is a classic example of  Terri Windling's posts which begin with a bit of personal substance followed by one after another example and excerpts to incite the creative spark. Here are the opening lines to Windling's post:

"To continue the discussion on gift-exchange....The other side of the coin from the art of gift-giving is the less heralded art of gift-receiving -- and to live a balanced, creatively fecund life we must learn to practice both with equal skill. But as Alexander McCall Smith points out (in Love Over Scotland), the act that he calls gracious acceptance is "an art which most never bother to cultivate. We think that we have to learn how to give, but we forget about accepting things, which can be much harder than giving."
"Until we can receive with an open heart," notes psychologist BrenĂ© Brown astutely, "we're never really giving with an open heart. When we attach judgment to receiving help, we knowingly or unknowingly attach judgment to giving help."
Thank you so much dear gracious and generous Terri.  My writing is regularly made better because of the substance of your posts, and the open-hand with which you encourage writers and artists to be involved in on-line conversation. I feel regularly blessed as I see you with your dear Hound, Tilly and am humbled as your health rises and falls, as does mine. And we continue being the artists who create art, and live a real life. A candle for you burns in my woods, on this birthday time.

Planet Thrive

When life became very different for Pete and me, it was the symptoms and unraveled sets of Once Dependables that spun us into a long term tail spin. Diagnosis of the illness was just the start of rewiring life. It was Julie Genser and her website Planet Thrive that came us a lifeline and a forum of connectivity at a key junction of time.

"Surviving and thriving with environmental illness" is the header description that greets a reader, lurker, community member on Planet Thrive. Since 2009 Julie Genser and the network of support she created and manages has been an incubator, wet suit, and light house for me and Pete as life with environmental illness remolded us.

Over time my visits to Planet Thrive has been less frequent, but I check back regularly to post an update; comment to a reader new to life with environmental illness; and discover something new. Environmental illness, or MCS is a morphing changeable condition. Body, brain-mind, spirit and soul are interwoven as symptoms change as I do.

Julie is also a fan and supporter of astrologer Eric Francis' work and posts Francis' monthly Sun Sign Astrology "Planet Waves." I'm a regular follower of this feature, and tell Julie regularly "Thanks for this!"

Environmental illness is not a 'popular' illness, not to say any illness is. But, the truth is Environmental illness isn't popular because you can't always be insured for the treatment of any or all or a cluster of symptoms, and it is not uncommon for many of us to be among the other unpopular segment of contemporary society: the homeless. Planet Thrive has been for me and Pete, as well as for hundreds of others in similar circumstances, a refuge and a community of hope.

Many thanks and wishes for your good health and well-being Julie!

And  last, but not least. Mahalo plenty to the readers who have come to Makua o'o over the past seven years. My loyal readers you know who you are, thanks a million for your email, interesting behind the scenes conversation, and tidbits of life which inevitably find their way into a blog post here, or somewhere in a medicine story.


Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Mercury Retrograde

A writing ramble as Mercury appears to be moving backward ... 

The damp and soggy weather imprints the forest and as I walk between the tiny room/homes the paths are pooling. No longer frozen and frosty the paths are damp; I change from the cozy fleece slippers back to my waterproof lace up boots. No Raven calls today, they too must be nestled in their rooks. Walking out into the orchard I call out to the chickens. No response. No movement. Each of our three hens has her own personal place of refuge during the day: Rygel has her Huckleberry Hide-out under the Grandfather Douglas Fir; Butterscotch loves Blackberry arches straight from the coop's ramp; Pepper circles around and down into the lower yard. At night they all claim a spot on the dowel inside their coop.

In our fashion Pete and I are seeking our personal places of Winter refuge, with only the briefest of verbal explanation, we take up daytime residency alone, alternately in the Quonset for hours at a time; while the other is covered in quilts with a good book or the latest entertaining movie or past episodes of TV serials. When the dishes pile up from eating and drinking food and drinks of comfort one of us will haul the bin of remnant covered plates, pans, pots, mugs and food covered silverware out the Quonset across the forest and into the Hale where hot water and sudsy dish soap wait.

The times and methods for communication change; daily cycles and longer periods of communication patterns exist consciously or unconsciously. Now that I have hauled, walked and done the bin of dirty dishes. I set about the gathering and transmission of my thoughts about using this current Mercury Retrograde (which began yesterday, 1/4/2015 and will last approximately three weeks through 1/25/16).

Some basic Mercury

From my bookshelf I refer to Intuitive Astrology by Elizabeth Rose Campbell and find this:

" Mercury: The instinct to communicate. Mercury is your desire to capture and transmit information: It's the messenger, the tape recorder, the camera, the database builder of your life story. Within your inner family, Mercury is the storyteller; within your village. Mercury might be your friendly librarian, aware of your interests, setting aside particular books for you to read. Mercury works through your eyes; your ears, the bottom of your feet; your fingertips; and very much your throat, your tongue, your lips--your ability to speak. Mercury is the synapse between the brain and the tongue." Campbell ends the paragraph with two questions, "How will you translate your reality? What words will you use?"
What does Mercury Retrograde mean?  Click on the links below for two answers.

One scientific answer. 
One astrological answer. 

How do I use Mercury Retrograde Well?

Donna Cunningham offered this example of how to use Mercury Retrograde well, "As an author, I am actually quite a fan of Mercury Retrograde, as I make a practice of editing the book I am currently working on during the retrograde period." 

 My personal opportunity for using this Mercury Retrograde well came via an email yesterday. Last fall I prepared and submitted a grant to a local college here in Washington State. The purpose for that grant is "... to address the professional development needs of individual artists, such as purchasing supplies and materials, harvesting resources, portfolio development, apprenticeships, workshop fees, training in marketing, teaching a workshop, etc..." The email I received was a 'rejection letter'. My first. It was the first grant I have applied for, and it was my first rejection letter for any kind of writing in many years. The email was short, offered a positive critique, and included feedback that I can really use!

How can I use that feedback?

Satori's Daily Forecast: January 5, 2016 suggested (in part) this action for today:

"... Pay attention to the awareness of what is missing, but use that impulse to target a new plan… not a temper tantrum or a blast of angry words. This mood is a marvelous shit-detector. Look for the shit and shovel it out of the way. Work to reveal a bright new path!

Elizabeth Rose Campbell concludes her basic description of Mercury with this paragraph, "Mercury is the intelligent eye, the intelligent ear, focused upon something in particular. Mercury is also communicative touch, communicative cadences--through voice, song, or dancing feet, dancing out a story. Mercury is the messenger." 
The proposal I submitted in the grant was a multi-media storytelling project with a large scope. It was perhaps the largest combined vision of Mercury I had yet to imagine. It does include nods and incantation to attract the intelligent eye, the intelligent ear and a focus upon the stories that are often caught on the other side of a sand bar after a high tide. You know, the sort of story that separates you from the pack, or pod like a beached whale or a water serpent who will sacrifice her tail to survive.

I have a wet and soggy January to target a new plan; editing and gleaning the parts that I know are well-nourished; and where there are missing parts I have an opportunity to literally grow a new tail, or edit the tale that has already begun. "People found your poetry compelling," read part of the message. The challenge for the board who read the grant proposals and chose winners was how I proposed to market my stories (recorded onto CDs) and reach 'my market.'

One last bit of gathering information over the past couple of weeks has come from our local library, where not just books but DVDs and movies can be borrowed. Over and over again (which is my habit ... repetition) I have listened, watched and absorbed the creative process of a film. This time is BEGIN AGAIN.

The 2014 film brings a story written by a Dublin director about the contemporary world of New York-based record industry, and the business of marketing stars. Brilliantly famous stars (Keira Nightly of Pirates of the Caribbean, Austin's Pride and Prejudice etc. teams up with Mark Ruffalo "The Hulk" from Marvel Comics) lit this film which addressed, for me, the optional versions of MARKET and MARKETING. The cast is peopled strokes of many colors, ages, musical-bents and levels of success and self-esteem. I listened and watched the people involved in writing, producing, acting and singing in this film to prime my Mercury, and my Mars (Instinct to Act). The tone of the movie, the feel of it was hopeful and may be I view them through rose-colored lenses; a perfect antidote for the grey of Rain Shadow Salish Winters. The character "Greta" collaborates with a down on his luck record producer. A vibrant, talented band of musicians create an album by the seats of their pants; and record each song in a different part of New York City. The Marketing bit flips the story from that place on the other side of the sand bar. (In Hawaiian that place on the other side of the sand bar is Muliwai.*) I love the film's ending, my Mercury genes pulse happily; and the possibility for spreading the love in my fashion loves the message. While the hens find their zones of comfort during the wet and cold winter, the Mercury retrograde gives me time to answer Elizabeth Rose Campbell's questions about Mercury.

"How will you translate your reality? (Or, "How do I want to 'market' my art.) What words will you use?" (And, Are there contemporary Mercury/Mars approaches I have yet to capture and transit?)

* The working title of the project I proposed is Mo'o Muliwai which in Hawaiian means "stories from the other-side of the sandbar" ... or 'stories from the water's edge.'

Saturday, January 2, 2016

"Speech, the most specifically human sound, and the most significant kind of sound, is never just scenery, it's always event." -  "Telling Is Listening": Ursula K. Le Guin on the Magic of Conversation and Why Human Communication is Like Amoebas Having Sex

Then there's Mercury (January 5, 2016) retrograde squaring Mars

"Mercury turns retrograde on Tuesday, 1 degree Aquarius.  He’s tightly square Mars at 1 degree Scorpio. I don’t expect this to be smooth..."-Elsa

 Anagram Animation from Wikimedia Commons

Friday, January 1, 2016

Mars in Scorpio January 4, 2016

Welcome 2016! Sunshine fills the woods this morning, this cold and icy January 1st by the Gregorian Calendar. Grateful to see the new morning and new year after a very cozy and restorative sleep I'm sipping on a cup of Wild Forest Black Tea contemplating the state of being, checking the stars (who have been very brilliant these last couple of nights) and practicing kilo ... timing, noticing, strategizing, planning. 

What bits and pieces tumble in my brain, calling my imagination to create a navigational plan?

Today is 'Ole Pau. The third of three moon phases that encourage not doing anything new (yet) it really is a good one to consider what has been done, and how best to enjoy what is. For starters on this 1/1/2016 morning I enjoyed a very restorative sleep. That is not a thing to be taken for granted. It doesn't take too much imagination to remember when we didn't have a place to sleep restoratively. Some nights are difficult (we had one when the neighbor's fire filled our vardo with congestive smoke). We do our best, and believe 'this too will pass.' 

Mars will be moving into Scorpio.
Lynn Koiner writes "... From JANUARY 4 through MARCH 5 2016; Retrograde/Direct from MAY 28 through AUGUST 2 2016, Mars will be transiting the sign of Scorpio. The transit of Mars has a general but indeed important influence over human behavior. It describes how people respond when they are angry and how we react to the anger in others. It describes how we handle our energies— for either anger or accomplishment...Unlike Mars in Virgo or Libra, I enjoy this period because I can overcome my innate procrastination and I can accomplish much! I look forward to this period when I time the commencement of important projects. I feel productive, determined and resourceful during this period..."
The Year of the Fire Monkey starts February 8, 2016. The post describing the Year of the Fire Monkey has me consciously lighting my fire. My very good, long-time friend wrote me a poem called 'Fire Dance.' I'm wearing red more often (I haven't for many years). Even Makua o'o is wearing a red background. My medicine woman friend and I are planning a Sacred Fire Ceremony for the Year of the Fire Monkey. Taken together Mars moving into Scorpio (in my 10th House) during the Year of the Fire Monkey has the potential to be a good luck year for me.

Timing is (sometimes) everything. In between writing these musings, I stop. "Can you write the check for the rent?" Pete asks. It's the First of the month. We have it to pay, and are grateful to have this woodsy circus grounds to call home. "Yes, I can write the check."

I will contact Evergreen College and ask whether the winners of the 2015 Native Artist's Grants have been chosen and notified. I hope I'm one of them. And, if not then I know my Mars and the Year of the Monkey energy can be directed in other ways in 2016.

Earlier in the week when Mahina the Moon was in her La'au Pau holoku Pete and I made hay, made good use of the healing and joyful energy of a late-December time. We headed north and had a day of mixed-media. Click here and see what we saw on the La'au moon. The photo above will give you a glimpse of the adventure we experienced.

Here's to us all ... a toast "May we all have a year filled with mixed-media adventures."