My customer had four rather ratty plywood pieces that were the right size to trim out a window. I sanded them and slathered them with lavender paint to smooth out the worst of the hills and valleys. Then, listening to horrible romantic comedies in Spanish (luckily I couldn't understand enough to be truly revolted), I painted the trim boards in a sort of Celtic-ish style. That's a book on the Lindisfarne Gospels in the picture.
Since Mom's dementia has gotten more severe, I've made it a point to write her three times a week so she feels connected. I'm working on simplifying the text without losing content–she may have trouble with complexity but she's not stupid.
Mom was a committed artist in her day and still identifies as one. The two things that will wake her up are music and art. I can't do long-distance music, since she can't figure out the iPod I gave her, but I can send her art, which I do.
I replaced the broken printer with an Epson Stylus Photo RX595, very high end for me. But used. Alas, it didn't come with cables. So as I await the proper cables, I'm sending Mom little "Schnellmist" - her word for quick sketches. "Quick," as in "about an hour to make."
There are four suits with four cards in each.
Tent Caterpillar Suit: Tent caterpillars are voracious creatures which chew through alder and fruit tree leaves in outbursts about 10 years apart. The Tachinid fly lays its eggs in the caterpillar's head. When the caterpillar pupates, either a moth or a fly may emerge.
Tent Caterpillar - a voracious beginning
Tachinid Pupa - potential for two different outcomes
Moth - hidden
Tachinid Fly - control of impulses
Amanita muscaria is a poisonous and hallucinogenic mushroom that has captured human imagination. My German grandmother taught me a nursery song about a man with a red hat who lives in the forest. Caribou are known to eat the mushroom with impunity.
Amanita spores - a small start to a large result
Young mushroom - growing from debris
Old mushroom - poisonous unless you know how to handle it
Caribou eating mushroom - beneficial if you handle it right
Crows are curious, pesky, and intelligent. They represent wisdom and trickiness.
Crow eggs - a beautiful start
Standing crow - keen observation
Flying crow - flight
Crow skull - an end to suffering
Garry oaks are local to my region. They represent ancient strength.
Acorn - a lovely start to a huge endeavor
Oak leaf - the first flush of energy from the roots
Oak flowers - getting ready to produce fruit
Bare oak - completion
Telling a Fortune:
1. Keeping the issue or project in mind, choose three cards at random.
2. Lay them out in a circle, with the fourth spot, representing Death, empty. The places are child, mother, and crone, representing the beginning, middle, and outcome.
3. Use the key above to read the cards, starting with "child."
Baba Yaga, of course, cheats.
Back in the Russian forest, she added potatoes and nettles to her stews. Here in the Pacific Northwest, she has to work out new recipes. Here is one of them. Sorry, but due to ethical constraints, I was unable to test it.
It was unusually sunny when I took the picture. Because of the gleam, some of the words in the image are unclear. Here is the complete recipe:
10 gallons stream water (frogs okay)
1 wasteful child
1 kelp stipe, diced
1 gallon blackberries or salal berries
1 # sautéed Hooker's onions
3T Russian sumac powder
Simmer 3 days and a night (do not allow to boil!). If desired, strain out clothing, shoes, hair. Garnish with fir tips, sour cream made from deer milk.
I keep a journal something like the one I am creating for Baba Yaga. As a forest kami she uses animal hides instead of art store paper. The journal reflects a beleaguered spirit who was once dangerous and present but is now herself in danger. The first page, of course, identifies herself and asks for the journal to be returned if lost.
It was the middle of the night so I thought it was a dream, but when I went to print out a letter I'd written to Mom, it turned out not to have been a dream. The cats, it seems, had a violent disagreement (or perhaps it was fun?) on top of the printer. Result: ten sheets of paper, toast. One printer, also toast. There are a few little plastic pieces that don't seem to go anywhere, and the paper feeder is detached and no longer snicks into place.
Well, people used to write letters by hand, didn't they? The trouble is, Mom has dementia and doesn't do well with my handwriting. I like to send her photos because as an artist, she is always interested, while text sometimes bypasses her consciousness altogether. There was only an hour until I had to go to the Post Office, though. I'm not a very sudden artist.
Calligraphy! I'd calligraph something for her. Okay. I have some calligraphy projects that she did back in her heyday, and they are all rather dark German poems. Best not to revive them. Rumi, though. He's got the flavor of what Mom used to like, but he's upbeat as well.
I've been paging through More Than Fine Writing about Irene Wellington, a British calligrapher. She did a series of "panels for the staff-room at Edinburgh College of Art for firewatchers during the war" in 1943. I was struck by a fragment labeled "MS of Benedictbeuern," and looked it up.
The Benedicktbeueren is an ancient Bavarian monastary, famous for a collection of Medieval drinking songs, the Carmina Burana, which were discovered in it in 1803. Carl Orff set some to music. I looked up the poem O Fortuna, and found it pretty much as Carl Orff says. Then I suddenly woke up! Rabbit hole alert! Back to copying Irene Wellington! I did a rough draft and a second draft, which is probably the final draft.