Emma Jo

This is Emma Josephine Penney, my maternal grandmother. In this HS graduation picture I think she is beautiful and I want to believe she had hope and optimism for her future. But her life was difficult. As a child growing up on a dairy farm in Sagus, MA, the second to last child in a family that had more than one death of a child, her father was a strict patriarch. As a grown woman, she faced single parenting during the depression when she and my grandfather parted ways under unpleasant circumstances.

Born February 15, 1893 (later in life she insisted her birthday was really Valentine’s Day), she rarely used her first name, always went by Jo Penney (where my name Penney Jo came from. Born on my paternal grandmother’s birthday, I was named after my maternal grandmother). She lived to be 105, dementia making her last decade unpleasant. She hated, and rarely went to, doctors. She grew roses, veggies and everything, and when she turned 100 Boeing Aircraft Company sent a representative to her party to present her with a t-shirt and pin because she had worked there for decades. She saw women get the vote and volunteered at the voting polls until she couldn’t.

As a child I didn’t know her well, but as an adult, I admire her stamina and intelligence. I think of her as Febuary draws to a close, it was “her” month. And as March, Women’s History month, begins, I think of many of the women in my family lineage and wonder who, what, she, they, would be if they lived in today’s world.

A Short Tale of A Fairy Ball & Fashions for Valentine’s Day

Today is the Valentine’s Day Fairy Ball. There are several Fairy Balls a year, usually held outside, but due to inclement weather, tonight’s ball is being held in the Great Hall. Though buried in snow, the entry to the hall has been cleared and dressed in their finery, the attendees are gathering to celebrate, exchange Valentine cards, and dance the night away.

There will be party foods – wild mint teas with rose infused honey, warming citrusy tea from sorrel leaves and Douglas fir needles, cookies made from hazelnut flour and dried huckleberries, and a warm stew from dried mushrooms and the roots of many plants, seasoned with wild ginger. This is fairy food, they harvest what their plants willing give them.

This is the door to the Great Hall. It is deceptively small, for inside is indeed a great hall. With a warm fireplace, torches to light the way and hearts hanging from wooden beams, it is a cozy place for the ball to be held.

Tree Fairy (you may remember her from my December post),  is not a socialite, she prefers the company of her beloved trees, but she does love her fairy friends, so donning a fancy cape and hat she set off for the ball. Her little seed fairy friends are helping her take a string of hearts to help decorate the Great Hall. 

One of the many flower fairies, this fairy in pink, decked out in stilettos and ruffled pants, is ready to dance. She loves to dance! I wonder if that rose bud is for a special Valentine?

So am I going crazy? Telling fairy tales? No to both. (Well, maybe a little crazy.)

I started making plant mandalas in spring 2016, a creative sideline when harvesting herbs, flowers and wild plants for medicinal or culinary use. Soon mandala making expanded beyond harvest times. During the winter holidays that year I started making angels, and then my “stone faced flower girls” showed up, a descriptive, but not very poetic phrase, so they became fairies. Not fairies by the conventional definition, most have no wings, and none are impish or tricksters.  The simplest dictionary definition I’ve found for fairy is “a small imaginary being of human form that has magical powers, especially a female one.”  That best describes my fairies.  They are forest spirits, little beings made from that which they love – bits of plants, stones, seeds, etc., and who live in and care for Nature.  Some can be stubborn, ornery and protective when their beloved plants and trees are threatened, but they are generally gentle, kind and loving. They don’t interact with people much, preferring the plants they care for. Besides, they are busy enough with their work. They do love people who come to the forest, or a garden, to appreciate their plants and trees. They are especially fond of children and will show them the magic of nature and help them if they are lost in the woods. They can be found anywhere in Nature, from a tiny garden on the corner of a city street to distant forests in the mountains.

“Story” lines about each one come to me as I make them, their personalities and bio emerge as they do. Like the mandalas, making them is an unfolding process with no predetermined concepts. The results usually surprise me (and sometimes frustrate me.) Unlike traditional fairy tales, my short one or two story lines have no villains or heroes, no moral or life lesson, and are not  “dark”, as many fairy tales are.

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Another fairy dressed for the ball. For her fairy job she wears all leaves, but she made a pretty petal top for the ball. Oh, and her very special shell purse contains Valentine’s for the Valentine’s exchange.

Fairy tales go back thousands of years and were (are) written with an intention. They are tales with a purpose – to teach a lesson,  a moral code, etc.  Most the earlier tales were not necessarily written for children and because they often reflect the values and social attitudes of the times and/or author, they may not be useful or even appropriate as stories in today’s world. There are modern fairy tales, especially in the movies, and there are some classic and timeless tales of old. (see links below to articles about fairy tales.)

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Her card in one hand for the Valentine exchange, a torch in the other to help her find her way home, this pixie fairy is off for a night of celebration! She is beaming with love tonight for everyone….including you! 

Any tales that emerge with my forest spirits are simple whimsy, the only intention is to make you smile, or laugh….or think I’m crazy.

HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY  from the fairies…and me!

A few previous  Valentine’s posts:

Nature’s Hearts

Animal Love

Valentine’s Day

The Love Story I Never Knew

To view more of my fairies check out Flora Mandalas. Or visit my Instagram page.

Interesting articles about the history of fairy tales:

Where Do Fairy Tales Come From?

True Stories Behind Classic Fairy Tales

Tree Fairy Tales for the your holidays…..

A little Tree Fairy kept me grounded through a month of windstorms, power outages, health challenges for both Mike and I,  and the usual “what do we want to do about Christmas”.  I shared her through a series of stories on social media. For those who do not interact with me on social media, I want to share her here and hope you find her to be a bit of delight in your life.

She and I wish for you Happy Holidays! Happy Christmas! Happy New Year! Happy Hearts!

Tree Fairy came to me with her little potted tree, which I offered to decorate, but she ONLY wanted candles, no other decorations. She was VERY particular!

I don’t argue with fairies.

The next day she comes back and wants me to decorate a big deciduous tree, saying they’re the ones needing color in winter and mumbling something about people decorating conifers, already green & pretty.

I told her the Alders and Big Leaf Maples here were too tall to decorate. She gave me a cross look. .

I decorated an alder for her.

Tree Fairy loves her trees but can be very grumpy about people.

On December 9th I told Tree Fairy about Worldwide Candle Lighting Day. She became very sad thinking of young children who have died. She doesn’t tolerate adults well, but she loves children, helping them when she can.

She went and got a very large candle (for her, she’s only 3 1/2″ tall), then left to go into the woods to light her candle and be with her beloved trees.

She too has lost many loved ones this year. .

She told me the souls of all little ones who die, of any species, go to a beautiful forest in a heavenly world. I don’t know how she knows this.

Tree Fairy did not return until Friday when she came to say Happy Solstice! In good spirits, she looks forward to the coming light, knowing her beloved trees will appreciate the longer days, some already budding in anticipation. She brought some friends (not sure who they are, seemed rude to ask, I believe they are tiny seed fairies). .

She’s returned to her trees, we’ve had wind storm after wind storm, she wants to help those who got hurt.

She is happiest amongst her trees, she said come visit wherever you go to be with trees. She loves people who love her trees.

Those that don’t. Well, a cross fairy has her ways…….she is a warrior!

To see more of my recent and seasonal botanical creations check out page two of “Flora Mandalas”

Holiday Full Disclosure and Tolerance

The winter holiday celebrations can be as divisive as politics. Which is sad given what they celebrate. There are some Christians who say Santa, trees, etc. have nothing to do with the birth of Christ, and non-Christians who say most traditions of Christmas were stolen from pre-Christian celebrations. Some Jewish people put up Christmas trees, others say that isn’t right. There are people who love Christmas music, those who hate it……the list goes on and on of other religious and cultural controversies this month.

a bit of whimsy made by a local carver

I thought I was becoming cynical about Christmas. Even Solstice. We celebrate both. What I thought was cynicism was the feeling that I have to be so sensitive this time of year around pretty much everyone as to not offend anyone, and very private about how we celebrate. Often I don’t even know which way is the “right” way to avoid offense.

Here’s an illustration of what I mean. One Christmas, when I had been very ill for months, Mike and I were enjoying a rare, leisurely, festive time together a few days before Christmas. At the gallery of a local artist who illustrates children’s books, Mike purchased a print of a little shepherd boy, taken from a book about the Christmas story. Mike loves Christmas and because of his Basque heritage he identifies with the shepherds in the Christmas story. (The Basque who came to this country, including his maternal great uncles, herded sheep in the isolated hills of California, Nevada and Idaho. A job no one else wanted). We walked out of the gallery and saw a friend to whom Mike enthusiastically showed his purchase. The friend’s only comment, said with disdain after Mike said why he bought it, was “but it’s so Christian.” My heart aches even now when I think of how crestfallen he was.  This person would not think of them self as intolerant. Yet this is the sensitiveness many people have around this season.

Though we celebrate in our house the way we want, it is like belonging to a secret society of two. How we celebrate has changed over the years, adopting new rituals, traditions, letting go of older ones. That’s the way life is. Of course new religions incorporate the traditions of older ones, its human nature. Archeological finds show just how long we’ve been adopting the ways of those before us, or from other places and cultures. Life is not either/or, people are not either/or……well, yes they are, and we see the results of that in our divided, polarized country, and in other countries, where everyone on all sides of the political spectrum talk of the “others” as though they had nothing in common and were from another planet. This intolerance of differences generates violence, at least in thought, and too often in action. Violence toward others is not taught in any major religious or spiritual tradition that has stood the test of time.

I’m quite certain I have much in common with someone who may have voted differently than me. We may both love birds, read plant books, support women’s shelters, have had cancer, drive the same car……who knows. I choose not to talk politics with people with different political ideals, but politics is not all life is about. Political choices may represent important individual values, but I know people who vote as I do and do not share all my values. They may not even tolerate how and what I celebrate this month. We are far more complex as a species and as individuals to put each other in boxes and categories based on limited knowledge of the “other.”

So here in our secret society of two, where Decembers past has often been a time of healing and recovery (i.e. recovering from surgeries, colds, flu, etc.) our celebrations are low key. Up until a few years ago we spent Christmas Day with family, usually elsewhere, occasionally here. We miss these family gatherings, but also enjoy just being “home for the holidays”. I have had a long standing “bucket list” item of spending Christmas in a cabin somewhere, then I remember – I live in a cabin somewhere.

the greeter on our front door

So here at this cabin in the woods is what is important to us when it comes to holidays. I apologize if any of this offends you. Actually, I don’t want to apologize, rather invite you to share with me what you celebrate this month that might be different, maybe I would enjoy your traditions and celebration also. Or perhaps you don’t celebrate anything you just enjoy December plain!

1) A nativity set, there are several to choose from, the tiny one from my childhood or various wooden ones. I have few friends who put up a nativity, but to Mike and I that is what Christmas is about.

2) Lights and candles are important because that’s what celebrating the Solstice is about, bringing back the light, celebrating the cycles of dark and light. And because here in Washington December is just plain dark and days are short.

3) We listen to a lot of music. (Mike can watch the same Mormon Tabernacle choir Christmas special DVD every year, me not so much, I like something new!).

back porch trees, two golden crest cypress

4) Though I often vow NO TREE, and NEVER thought I’d have an artificial tree, we always have a tree, sometimes a small table top artificial one, or a potted tree on the porch outside the window, or a cut tree. Sometimes more than one. Mike is delighted when we decorate a tree. In his younger adult years, up until we married, he didn’t really celebrate Christmas with anyone. Thirty Christmases later, he is still making up for it.

advent wreath

5) We now do an advent wreath to help us stop and focus on the spiritual aspect of this holy season, we light a candle each week, do a reading, meditate and slow down. Mike was in the emergency room last Sunday so we postponed our candle lighting to Monday, it helped “ground” us back into the season’s vibrations after a stressful Sunday.

6) We try to take a ride in the mountains, a walk somewhere quiet, depending on my body’s willingness. Connecting with Nature and the calm gray/green of winter in the northwest is very important to me this time of year. Nature reminds us human species that it truly is a time of peace on earth, and at least in the northern hemisphere, a time of rest.

7) Gift giving is minimal, fortunately an attitude shared by extended family and close friends. Something simple or homemade, if anything at all. (And this year I liberated myself from Christmas card sending by sending Thanksgiving cards.)

8) We have a special Christmas meditation with those in our meditation group.

little angel from my childhood on this year’s indoor tree

In a small house, where there isn’t a lot of room for decorating, besides the tree and nativity, you might find these favorite symbols of the winter season and holidays – snowmen, angels, deer, a variety of evergreens and their cones, red and white carnations, and (I have a mixed relationship with them) maybe a poinsettia, which Mike loves.

So if you’re in the neighborhood and don’t find our holiday celebrations offensive, drop by, we’ll share a cup of wassail! And if you too like the songs of the season, we could have a sing-a-long!

little china snowmen quartet

Just a few of many other posts of the season…

Solistice Thoughts

Christmas Eve Lessons From Nature

A message of peace

Sweet Silver Bells

Solistice

Seasonal Reflections

Gratitude & Grace

The word gratitude means “appreciation of benefits received” and comes from the Latin, “gratus“, which is also the derivation of grace, a word with many meanings, including “the quality or state of being considerate or thoughtful” and “divine assistance“.

The expression “grace under fire” usually refers to someone remaining calm under duress. Using the above definitions of grace I offer a larger meaning to this expression: recognition, with gratitude, that we are the receiver of gifts, even when under duress. These gifts may include empathy, compassion, acts of kindness and love. No matter how small or large, these are the gifts of grace from others. Certainly recognition that these gifts are there for us can steady us in the storms of life.

When we express gratitude we are manifesting grace, our thankfulness shows consideration to the giver. We also attain grace when we are the givers of kindness, empathy, help, compassion, and love.  Grace flows, it connects us to others and to Spirit. It helps us remember there is good in the world and we are both the receivers of and, when acting with grace, the givers of this goodness.

Even in the most challenging of times personally or in our larger communities, there are elements of grace, acts of kindness and blessings received.

We do not need a calendar date to express gratitude for the grace in our lives, nor to pass it on. However, Thanksgiving, originally a holiday based on a myth, a misinterpretation of history*, has become a time to give thanks for the abundances in our lives. It is a good time to pause, focusing on what we are grateful for, and an excellent time to express not only our gratitude, but to offer our gifts of grace to others.

Gratitude and grace, when practiced often, will change our lives and the lives of others. May you be filled with gratitude and grace this week, regardless of the challenges you may be facing.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

*To read about the myth of a ‘first’ Thanksgiving, this is one of several excellent articles at the National Museum of the American Indian: Everyone’s history matters: The Wampanoag Indian Thanksgiving story deserves to be known

related posts:

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Yummies

Thanksgiving

A recipe for winter

A pumpkin by any other name

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Finding my lost chords

We are still who we ever were in so many ways, and yet we are changed by life.

I bought a guitar last Saturday. I went to buy new strings for my old guitar, hoping to decide if I could, or would, play it, or if it needed to be passed on.

my old (sob) guitar

I love my old guitar. I’d sold the hammer dulcimer, donated the auto harp, but could not part with the guitar, bought in a little guitar shop on my first solo trip to Mexico City when I was 16. It represents and holds in its golden wood many memories and many parts of me.

Mike took me to town and followed me as I walked into the music store, guitar case in hand. He laughed and said “that is an old hippie guitar case if I’ve ever seen one.” And indeed it is, it is more hippie than I ever was. It has stickers from my college days in Washington DC when I marched in the Vietnam era anti-war marches and big 60s flower stickers, the same ones Mike said where on his VW van. They went well with the flowers I embroidered on my jeans.

As I placed my beloved guitar on the counter, the woman behind the counter pointed to the bridge as her husband picked it up. She noticed what I hadn’t, the bridge was detaching from the guitar. Sigh. “How much to fix it?” I asked. “And is it worth it?”

Without going into the sad details, there were a few more signs of its age and neglect from not being played for decades. And no, probably not worth it, though it was doable. If I could, I’d fix it myself, it still has a beautiful body and good sound, but it needs new hardware and the cost was more than the set of strings I’d planned on buying.

My ‘new’ Franciscan brand, made in Japan in 60s-70s guitar.

The man said “We have a used classical guitar for $99”. I picked it up. It felt as good as my beloved one, I bought it.

That was heartbreaking. He kindly suggested I hang the old one on the wall. Not going to happen, but it needs an honorable burial.

At home my hand, fingers and brain could not, would not, make music. My fingers hurt, my neck, already a cause of migraines, froze up. Having discovered I threw out all my guitar music not long ago, song sheets and all, (more heart-break) I’d look at chords on the Internet and not remember them 30 seconds later. Frustrated, angry at my aging body and mind, feeling foolish at being such a spend thrift, I just wanted to return the guitar.

Then something happened. After several hours of painful determination there was a shift and it happened….I started strumming and picking and smoothly moving from G chord to C and D. I was playing the guitar. I was making music. Mind you, I was never more than a beginner, and I have no expectations beyond that……but deep in my core the feelings of playing Girl Scout songs around a campfire and sixties folk songs came welling up. It is a feeling of coming home to a part myself lost through life’s experiences and challenges.

Now if only I had my music. And no, the Internet, though loaded with songs with guitar chords, is not the same. Though I find here and there songs I remember, they aren’t always the same versions I knew.

So I’ll be strumming my chords, making up songs, maybe playing a few verses of “Leaving on a jet plane” or “Where have all the flowers gone”, but there won’t be any public playing for this old hippie. Mike likes hearing me play. The guitar is soothing. A good friend got a kick out of Happy Birthday over the phone with my male vocal cohort. Abby, half deaf, sleeps by my side through my musical experiments. I’ll be as frustrated now as “back then” at my limits. But it still feels right. It feels like an essential part of me.

For now I’ll keep the guitar. It fits in my old case. Maybe I’ll find someone to fix my beloved one.

I bet I can still ride a bicycle too.

Is there a lost part of you waiting to be found?

 

 

Balancing the Elements

This month west coast skies have been gray, except near the fires, where they are lit with the hot colors of fire. Yesterday morning I laid in bed thinking how close the fire up the road was and the many houses in it’s path before it would have reached us, fortunately it was contained before nightfall. I had flashbacks of a wildfire that took off from a smoldering brush pile in a clear-cut behind our property 30 years ago, surrounding our property on two sides with lapping flames. I could see the fire through the trees as I tried to organize my thoughts and belongings for possible evacuation. No one had notified me of the fire, I just happened to notice before going to bed lights from police cars at the end of the driveway. Walking down the driveway I saw road barriers closing me in the fire area.

It was a different world then, management was not handled well on that fire. In the dark I walked up the road to the fire staging area and got a ride up to the fire line by a local volunteer in his truck so I could see if any of the tall firs on our boundary were on fire. It was a long, scary night, and I was angry.

What do these fires, does fire in general, have to teach us? Perhaps that is a personal question for individuals to ask, depending upon how wildfires have affected them. In Ayurveda, the ancient science of life, fire is the primary element of the Pitta dosha. Too much Pitta in an individual can cause rashes, fever and inflammation, people with an imbalance of Pitta, either constitutionally or due to dis-ease, can be ‘hot headed’, quick to anger and may express anger with aggressive words or behavior. (The secondary element of Pitta is water, as in ‘letting off steam”!)  When in balance, Pitta is the fire to “digest” food, thoughts and life experiences, it can be sharp, smart thinking, strong, have staying power and energy. When Pitta is strong people have endurance and can be “in their heads”. Like it’s element Fire, Pitta has both a negative, destructive side and a positive building side.

The other doshas, Kapha and Vata, are the elements water and earth (Kapha) and wind and ether (Vata). Kapha imbalance can be cold, immobile and needs fire to energize it, to give balance, drying up some of the sluggish dampness. For example hot spicy foods are good for Kapha, too much cool, heavy, oily Kapha foods can cause congestion and overweight, yet spicy foods can aggravate Pitta, giving it too much heat. Excess Vata, the wind dosha, can push Pitta, causing it to inflame, yet Vata is flexible and needed to balance too much Pitta or Kapha. Vata moves the fluids of our body as it moves the rivers and streams of the earth.

mandala entitled “Cooling the fires with the blues”

There are colors we associate with fire – red, orange, yellow, and these colors, while stimulating and balancing to Kapha, can be too intense for Vata and definitely raise the heat of Pitta. Pitta finds balance with cooling shades of blue and green. Vata, prone to fear and anxiety, finds balance with soft, warming shades of colors, such as soft golds. Vata needs nurturing, soothing and ‘grounding’ to calm its erratic, ‘windy’ nature.

Are we nurturing ourselves individually and in our communities during these challenging times? Or are we allowing ourselves to become too inflamed with heat and anger?

the seasons of life, the year and the times of day each are dominated by the characteristics of certain elements, making each period of time ideal for certain activities.

Summer is the hot Pitta time of year, now in late summer we are moving into autumn, the Vata time of year. There is heat, yet there is wind and transition. In the news we read of aggravation and anger in the behavior of people and often the events we read about bring up our own anger. Things seem to be moving quickly, for better or worse. There is fire, there is wind. There is imbalance. There doesn’t seem to be much groundedness. There is too much water in areas of North America and other places, not enough water in other areas. There are too many fires . The Earth, a living being, seems out of balance in so many ways. Does it start with how out of balance we humans living on the Earth are?

When there is serious illnesses, such as cancer, all the doshas are involved, they are all out of balance and a careful assessment of how to bring a person back into health and well being is needed.

Maybe one lesson of fire is our need to find our own balance – in ourselves, in our relationships, in our communities. Be patient and understanding, be kind, watch the temper. Try not to let the news ‘rile’ you up! If you are a Pitta inclined person, bring cooling calm into your life, surround yourself in cooling blues and greens, the colors of the earth and water. If you are Vata inclined, be especially nurturing, soothing and calming the winds of your anxieties and fears with meditation and walks in Nature. Maybe you are a Kapha person, grounded but immobile, lacking motivation and feeling there is nothing you can do. Taking positive action by helping others at this time could give you more energy. We can all bring calmness to our outer world by finding ways to balance our own nature. A world full of healthier, balanced, calm people will surely begin to heal this precious Earth-body. It is not easy to bring balance to such a large living being such as Earth, but starting with ourselves is a good place to start.

Are we not all calmed and find inner peace when in Nature, especially when she is dressed in blues and greens!

I’m going to imagine blue skies, blue water and coolness settling over the west coast, enveloping the fires til they smolder out, the balancing impact of Kapha on Pitta. And I will visualize everyone in the path of hurricane Lane being calm and safe as all that Vata energy moves through.

You can read more about Ayurveda and see a list of resources to learn about food and life style choices, etc. here: Mother of all Healing.

Just a little ring story

Wedding rings have been around a long time. Credit for the first ones goes to the Egyptians, but archeological evidence has shown Neanderthals and cave dwelling people wore rings made of plant material. Some say they were exchanged, as in a wedding ceremony, but I’m not sure how finding evidence of rings being worn would tell the story of why. Certainly the rings found among the remains of ancient people hold stories lost to time.

It has, however, been well documented ancient Egyptians exchanged wedding rings of woven reeds, bone, leather and ivory. The Romans were the first to make rings of metal. The tradition of wearing a wedding ring on the third finger also dates to the Egyptians who believed one of the energy meridians in the body ran from the third finger to the heart. Chinese medicine and other traditions also speak of that meridian.

It’s impressive a tradition can be traced back to antiquity and is still honored and meaningful today.

In the healing tradition of Ayurveda  certain metals and gemstones are worn to bring health and balance to a person. Different stones and metals are recommended for different people’s innate constitution (or dosha in Ayurveda) or what is needed to bring healing to a person. Being formed over long periods of time in the earth, metals and gemstones are thought to hold high energetic vibrations.

One guideline for healthy living in Ayurveda is to be cautious about wearing or using something another person has worn or used. This applies to clothes and other personal items, but especially to jewelry, which is often worn by the original owner all the time.  As the vitality of food can be affected by the health and emotional state of the person preparing it, a piece of jewelry can also contain the ‘energies’ of the person who made it as well as the vibrations of the original owner. This understanding goes back thousands of years, but recent science as shown that indeed we are all made of energy and the energy fields of one being can impact another, as shown through plant and animal studies.

Given all this information, as well as my intuition, I stopped wearing the wedding ring that was made for me when Mike and I got married (Mike lost his a few weeks after our wedding under a house, but that’s another story! It was replaced). It never really fit me, and felt too ‘clunky” to wear, and I no longer felt comfortable about the person who made it.

I went back to wearing a ring made for me before we were married that had deep significance to me. It felt like “the right” ring to wear, even as a wedding ring.

My mom gifted me several rings when she began to clear out her jewelry. I received several of her rings and a few that had belonged to my maternal grandmother. It was interesting how some of these rings felt comfortable to wear, and others not. Of course several of them did not fit me, either too tight on my ‘ring fingers’ or too loose on my little fingers. I knew the stories behind some of the rings, but not all. A little ring came into my possession that felt ‘just right’, like Goldilocks finding the right chair and bed! I began to wear it on my third finger as a wedding ring, but still had a desire for that special ring that represented our relationship, our marriage.

That’s when I found Stephanie Selle. Stephanie, with her husband Brandt, is in the business of love. She is a local jeweler who offers couples the opportunity to make rings for each other with her there to guide and teach them. Her business is called “With These Rings”.  People of all ages, sizes, colors and lifestyles come from all over the country, from other countries, and from the local community, to have the special experience of making each other’s wedding rings.  What they all have in common is the love they share with their partner and the desire to have rings to symbolize that love. Stephanie is dedicated and passionate about what she does and has a deep appreciation for the unique experience and rings made by each couple. She teaches them about the metals they can use in their rings (this information is also on her web site) and helps them make choices for creating their own designs. Written comments indicate making rings with her is often as important to a couple as the wedding itself.

I read everything she wrote on her web site and called her. Would she make me a ring?

At first she said I could find a ready made ring elsewhere, but I knew this was the person I wanted to make that special ring. She also suggested I take a workshop with her and make my own ring. Mike and I talked about him making the ring. He was concerned about this arthritic thumbs and I was concerned about how my challenged body, with pain and stiffness, could sit through the process. No, we really wanted Stephanie to make the ring, especially after meeting her and talking with her for several hours!

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photo by Stephanie

So she did. A simple yellow gold band with a tiny accent band of rose gold (you have to look close to see it). It may look like any other gold ring, but to me it is the ‘right’ ring, the wedding ring I’ve waited 29 years (this October) to wear, made by the right person!

Of course I had to honor it, and the person who made it, with a mandala!

Thank you Stephanie!

Stephanie’s web site is fun to explore, even if you aren’t in the market for a ring: With These Rings

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To see other recently made mandala’s check out my second page of mandalas: Mandalas II or my mandala home page at: Floral Mandalas

 

 

 

 

July 4

Questioning the recent misuse of the word patriot – for July 4th I share words from a few Americans who loved their country and made a difference, and who might not be so happy with current events.

Mark Twain “Patriotism is supporting your country all the time and your government when it deserves it.” .

Theodore Roosevelt “This country will not be a good place for any of us to live in unless we make it a good place for all of us to live in.”

Martin Luther King, Jr. “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed; We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”

Elizabeth Cady Stanton (in her 1845 Declaration of Rights and Sentiments) revised Thomas Jefferson’s words to read “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal.” She also wrote “A government is just only when the whole people share equally in its protection and advantages.

Happy 242th birthday United States, a work in progress, needing revisions, updates, and lots of fine tuning, but still viable with many good traits and good people. 🇺🇸

Have a Happy 4th!

Finding Hope

31 years ago I visited a German friend who lives in Nurnberg, a beautiful medieval town heavily bombed by allied forces in WWII. It had been targeted because Hitler had made it the home of his Nazi Party. The bombing had been called a “near perfect bombing”. The casualties were over 6,000 dead, 90% of the ancient city destroyed, the few historic buildings that remained heavily damaged.

After seeing evidence of the damage even decades later, and attending a Good Friday service in a famous church where art had been hurriedly stored away before the church was bombed (it was later rebuilt, as was most the city), I asked an older couple, friends of my friend, who were young folks during the war, if they were angry at Americans and others for the bombing and damage done to the city. Surprised by the question they answered no, they were embarrassed, and felt a sense of responsibility for what happened in their country, that Hitler came to power. They thought many, if not most, Germans felt that embarrassment.

Will there be a collective sense of responsibility in the United States by any group of citizens, or all of us, if our country continues on the racist, white supremacy, isolationist agenda of the current administration and those who support it? Those were my thoughts following recent Supreme Court rulings; the latest news on the detention camps; and so much more that is in the headlines.

Then I scrolled through my Facebook & Instagram feeds and saw photos of and read stories about ordinary people doing extraordinary and kind actions to help those who are impacted by government actions and the values that are currently sanctioned by the administration. I read of organizations whose activities and goals represent the values I have of honoring all who want to live their lives in safety, raise their children where they can grow, thrive, have meaningful lives and contribute to wherever they call home.

I have hope we will not be embarrassed, we will each say we did the best we could in resisting the destruction of those values. And I hope we do so in positive ways, with positive actions that do not mirror or in any way ‘feed’ the hatred.

May the activists “in the field” have strength and stamina in the elections and courts of law. May the angels volunteering and working to help families on the borders and in the detention camps be blessed. May we all help, however we can, those in communities impacted by economic devastation as government policies attempting to isolate and alienate us from the rest of the world through economic channels hurt those in this country. Also needing help are those whose health care, education, and jobs are taken from them due to funds being cut and channeled elsewhere. Those in our elected government who are resisting this agenda need our support and our votes. To those whose offering is prayers….may those prayers have power.

Where to you find hope? What actions can you take?