Sunday, February 20, 2011

Tea Party

Despite what some of our fellow humans may have done to tarnish the name (bless their hearts), there are some of us out here still celebrating the sacrement which is good old fashioned tea time. Speaking of tarnish, there was none of that yesterday at the lovely, quaint afternoon tea at Rachel's. She had perfectly polished and cleaned all the family silver and the crystal so that it quite delightfully caught the angled late winter sun through the southern window.

Rachel, ever thoughtful and right on time, posed the idea to a few of us gardeners and self-proclaimed lovers of old-fashioned beauty that we gather and share a moment in honor of "the last hush of winter", before we all become beside ourselves with our gardens and lives in the hustle-bustle of spring.
The timing of such a moment couldn't have been better, as this weekend has welcomed so many harbingers of spring- the old trusty pair of wood ducks visited Susie and Todd's pond for a few hours Friday morning on their way to their spring breeding grounds, the first peepers (spring frogs) were heard in the holler Friday night, comfortable temperatures have the snow melted even in the dark cold mountain coves, mineral rich nettles are poking their tender little heads up through the dark soil, maples are blooming, and the late February air smells fresh and of spring.

The tea was simple and wonderful. Rachel brewed an English breakfast, for those of us who like the black, and a rooibos chai (no caffeine). Sugar, honey and cream were available in beautiful silver, amidst the menagerie of her grandmother's colorful variety of china tea cups and saucers. It was such a stunning spread. She had also dipped dried bananas, mangos, pineapples and ginger in dark chocolate and made a plate of gluten free cheese and crackers. Sweet and salty popcorn, drizzled in dark chocolate, was also a favorite.

The afternoon was sweet, sitting in Rachel's living room, sipping tea and visiting with friends. A simple yet very important ritual in this day and age of so much being virtual and high speed. Sipping tea and chatting face to face in real time- no phones, no computers, no political agendas- is something we as a species need to remember how to do. Seriously. And while we're at it, why not make it gorgeous?

At the end of the tea, a small few of us lingered around the table and swapped seeds for this year's flower gardening. This is one of my favorite all time activities ever. Too bad I forgot my seeds to give away. Rachel and Laura graciously shared with me anyways.

Here's to the end of winter and to lovely tea-time moments!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Stairway to Heaven

I grew up listening to John Boy and Billy in Charlotte, back before they were all national and shit. They are still ruling the cheesy classic rock radio scene, and spinning two-fer Tuesday tunes like never before (or like always before, as it were...) Imagine my delight when I was able to spend the spring-like day up at my house that is rising from the hillside, jamming to two-fers from Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin, Jon Bon Jovi, Jimmi Hendrix, Queen, the Eagles, you name it. I danced on the the second floor, which is sturdy and prepared to receive walls later this week, and I grooved out on the new stairs, which rock harder than John Boy and Billy ever will (sorry, JB and B...) Todd, Marc and Greg were like studs from the Galaxy of Stud, building and figuring and such. I wore a tiger doo-rag, backward and Tupac style, in honor of the lovely day. This special doo-rag was a valentine's gift from the one and only Meg (Flemming) Renwick of the ATX.

Marc and his "whacker"

The "commanding view of the garden" (-M.A.) from the front wall of the bedroom

Monday, February 14, 2011

The House Rises from the Hillside

The house rises from the hillside, practically as we speak. Tomorrow I will be helping get lumber from the ground up to the the second floor so the fellers can put a floor on and start to get going on framing up there. It is pretty f-ing cool to witness the transformation of my pencil drawings on graph paper to a building that is actually 3 dimensional, and solid, and that will house me and my loved ones.

Jenna sits in front of the bathroom

My future workshop, framed

The living room area


View from kitchen sink

View from above kitchen stove and counter top

Looking out the windows from the living room area to mountains to the north

Jenna and I are too cool for skool.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Brain Tanning Under the Sun

I didn't smell the brain scent that had impregnated my skin (and hair) until tonight when the hot shower released the stench and washed it down the drain, along with the sandalwood soap and the residual wood ash from the fire and a little sand from the creek bank. I was too jazzed up and working too hard to notice. In case you are wondering, I brain tanned* a deer hide today by a fire on the banks of Spring Creek. I worked alongside a motley posse of friends, stretching and working the hide with hands, stones, and a pumice stone as it transformed from a wet, slimy brainy mass of skin, to a soft, white, piece of leather. The work on one of these projects is unthinkably sizable, but somehow it keeps me coming back again. Tonight my knuckles are raw, my muscles are sore, and I still smell faintly of wet hide and brains, but that's the price to pay for attempting to learn a pre-industrial revolution skill in this modern world. The hide is dry, not as soft as I would like it, and I'm sure I will be sore in the morning, but I have decided, after some Rebel Yell whiskey and hot carrot soup, that it was worth it. I had a blast with Rachel, Jason, Jeff and Josh (with Mom and Jenna as the on-lookers), and I got to spend the day outside by the creek, laughing and working on something I consider meaningful. I am going to take the partially soft/ partially stiff hide down to some local primitive tanning experts and see where they would suggest to go from here. Enjoy pictures from the process:

Stretching the hide

Wringing the hide

Lots of group stretching of the hide (and laughing) occurred

Sometimes you got to bleed into it a little, for good measure...

Git it, Jeff!

Rub the pumice on it, JL!

Alternate pulling of the hide on a nylon dog leash looped around a T-post for abrasion purposes

* Brain tanning a deerhide is a primitive technique of using the brains of the animal to condition and soften the hide, in combination with a sequence of other steps, to yield a soft, suede-like buckskin leather, suitable for clothing, bags, shoes, or other crafty and useful items.

Sunday, February 6, 2011


The glorious, post groundhog's day sun was fixing to set over back of a very special mountain, one whose skirts have been inhabited by mountain folk for centuries and whose coves are visited by bear hunters, but who still harbors bits of precious wildness. The sun cascaded fingers of light over this sweet valley of hot springs and over the constant yet ever changing river, and the trees in the valley complimented the sun's effort with a perfect paradox of long, fingery shadows which graced the shining river. The mountain sat, as it always does, offering itself as a canvas for displays of both light and shadow in the sinking sun. River valley mountain. A perfect balance.

Friday, February 4, 2011

3 Walls

Warning: this post contains mostly unadulterated stream of consciousness writing...

If I had 3 extra of me, I would delegate the super-entities as follows: Extra Dana #1 would assist the regular Dana, doing all the things I don't have time to do, like work full time out at this awesome place where there are 3 new walls, and do extra-curricular activites like direct and produce the Cold Hard Pimpin in my Jonathan Youngs video, engage in subversive and awesome art collaborations with Kathryn Temple, and study botany. Extra Dana #2 would attain a specialized and academic career, likely one of a medical doctor. Extra Dana #3 would actually do all the risky and out of the box things the regular Dana thinks about, but chooses not to do. (Examples will not be provided.)

In essence, what I am getting at here is simply marvelling at the plethora of possibilities one can perceive in one's life. And here I am with 3 kick ass walls sitting on a foundation on the side of a lovely and gentle hill above a clear and healthy spring. This house will house all the selves I am and the selves I am not, and the selves I may become. Because here we all are.

House from uphill facing mountains to the distance in the north

House from uphill future big garden to the southwest

House from the back of the future garden

Last night I woke up several times doing math equations in my head. I took a number, say 5, and squared it. 5 squared is 25. Then I went one number up from 5 and multiplied it by one number down from 5. This equals 24. Strange, a difference of 1. I did this with all sorts of numbers, and the difference was always 1. (ex, 8 squared is 64, and 7 times 9 is 63- a difference of 1). When I woke up this morning, I got out the calculator and did an experiment. I tried starting at a number, let's go back to 5. First I squared it, getting 25. I went one up and one down from 5 (4 and 6) and multiplied those, getting 24 (a difference of 1 from my starting place squared). Then I went two up and two down from 5 (3 and 7) and multiplied those getting 21, which was a difference of 4 from the starting place squared. Then I went three up and three down from 5 (2 and 8) and multiplied them, getting 16, which was a difference of 9 from the starting place squared. Then I went four up and four down from 5 (1 and 9) and multiplied them, getting 9, which is a difference of 16 from the starting place. I learned that there is this pattern: however many I go up and down from the original number I am making the square of, the number those multiply to will produce a relative exponential difference from the square of the original starting number.

I tried transferring this pattern to my ponderings of self. Perhaps from the starting place of self, the further out from original self that one expands, the greater the return. Does this make any sense? It might not.

What I really wanted to do on this post was show the 3 walls. It just led me to think about what is a house and who will I be in this one.

House from below the spring (flowing out of that pipe)

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Birthday Big Up!

Happy first birthday, Funky Mr. Forest of the Hill People and Sweet Lily of the Valley! You're the best! Speaking of the best, when you are old enough to appreciate it, we will watch this together...YOU'RE THE BEST

Anyways, that sort of awesomeness will come in time. For now, I am marvelling at how this first year of your lives has flown by. Not too long ago you were teeny tiny fragile little precious bundles. Check out your funny daddy holding you both just a couple days after you were born.

You were so tiny! Your sweet little skin was almost transparent, and you both looked like sweet little baby animals.

Now you are eating, standing, talking, moving all around. Your mom tells me that Lily, you are all the time yelling what sounds like "Dang!" and Forest, you say, "Yeah yeah yeah." I sure wish our families lived closer to each other because I would like to have you both in my day to day life. Perhaps that will happen in the future, but for now, I relish in my short visits with you and from reports from your mom and dad and pictures I get to see of you.

I love you both so much, and I am so happy that you are happy and healthy. May you have many many more birthdays and joyful times in between.

Love, your Auntie D