Sunday, December 20, 2015

The Character of Place Part II

While the seasonal wet and dampness challenges us to find the good in sogginess, it is our neighborhood library that offers us distraction and entertainment. Our library cards (the smartest card around) allow us to borrow books, magazines, and DVDs. Ebooks and readers are also available but we are still part of the old school that prefers getting our entertainment off the literal shelf. Being a writer, I love holding a book made from the heart of trees even if I have to 'air them' out for days before I can hold a many fragrances of a former reader's hand cream or the residue of laundry products. I love the sound a good writer can make as words pack a boat load of description. The pace and the melody of story of books are still my first love. But more and more, especially during the years of living a tiny homes life, I have becoming a fan of a beautifully crafted film. More than once in a year I will be inspired by a film.

Last night we watched the 2009 French film Summer Hours written and directed by French filmmaker Olivier Assayas. The New York Times review written by A.O. Scott starts,

"In a literal, almost banal sense, Olivier Assayas’s “Summer Hours” is a movie about an inheritance. Hélène Berthier (Edith Scob), a silver-haired matriarch enthroned among her children and grandchildren at the beginning of the film, leaves behind a charming country house and a cherished art collection, and her heirs, as is normal, must figure out what to do with it all after her death..." The review points to the 'eye' of the film, the camerawork "And while Mr. Assayas’s filmmaking techniques are identifiably of the moment — and his sensibility is as thoroughly French as the long, painstakingly prepared family meals that punctuate “Summer Hours” — the assurance and aesthetic poise of the film make it quietly ravishing. The camera (wielded by Eric Gautier, who has worked frequently with Mr. Assayas, as well as, among many others, with Sean Penn on “Into the Wild”) seems less like a mechanical apparatus than an organ of perception, even of consciousness. Its movements mimic those of a person’s attention, at times restlessly trying to gather information from all directions, at times observing with serene and sympathetic concentration, occasionally puzzled but never bored...the film’s clearest and most poignant insight is that this longing, which is essentially to stop time, can never be fulfilled.
The New York Times' review was good, and accurate in its appraisal of the film's value just as the theme of valuing all the art is a major theme of Summer Hours. But though the article alludes to the experiences in the home and the natural surroundings of the place, it did not embrace the place as a character. And that is what I found most enduring about it. The family deals with the reality of a globalization, and making a living at their personal passion, separating them from the place. "Longing .. to stop time, can never be fulfilled."

The library borrowed DVD we watched includes a two disc set: one disc recorded the film, the second disc includes a later recorded set of interviews with the fimmaker Olivier Assayas. In those interviews are the inspirations that fuel my curiosity about creative process. These BONUS Features are as good as it gets for a Santa Goody in my Christmas stocking. Through the narration of his motivations and his depictions, his angles and the writing and rewriting of the screen play the listener is given the addition course more satisfying than pie.

Assayas speaks of the search for the right place. A place that is not bourgeois; not big or rich. Instead, the place that becomes the character linking the three generations is a French country home that has small(ish) rooms where one must exit through a glass door, step down what looks like brick steps, and cross the lawn a short distance in order to get to the studio. The land is spacious, rural, rich with flowers (that are gathered and cut to fill vases), fruit trees and berry bushes, a small lake for swimming. Eloise, a vital character though not focused upon does hold together the place and people. She is the housekeeper who has cared for the generations of Berthier, and at the end continues to cut flowers to remember the 75 year old matriarch after death and re-distribution.

The layering of scenes and the inclusion of people, things and place make for a very full experience, I will re-watch both the discs and come to my own destinations as a result. The character of place is something/someone that remembers things about myself that I might hide from myself. In the hiding of those parts of myself I may "try too hard to control your emotions so that others won't know how you feel, as if you were ashamed of your feelings. You shouldn't be ashamed of them...You often feel that the people around you or even life itself prevents you from expressing your emotions. You may feel lonely and unsupported by your friends, brothers and sisters and even your parents. To overcome this feeling of aloneness, you must have a great deal of emotional support from your family and friends." Perhaps in the investigation of The Safety Pin Cafe's character I will see how "You must learn that your merits and flaws exist independently of what others see in you. You are not the product of what other people see, but of your own inner energies." 

There is still time to consider how another angle on the character of this place, 'The Pin', might be enriched this winter of soggy times. I may find in the end that her character is just as it should be. One of the interpretations from Robert Hand regarding her character is found in the description of the Moon Sextile Uranus. "Your strong sense of fairness urges you to work for the benefit of all. You may work to change traditions and fight against customs that have outlived their usefulness. But remember, other people may not agree with that, and you must give them the same rights you demand for yourself." 

Saturday, December 19, 2015

The Place is a 'Person': the character of place Part I

If the story The Safety Pin Cafe were a 'person' and if The Safety Pin Cafe were a female person she would be three years old. Born in the morning of November 18, 2015 the character was imbued with the 'bones and blood' of magic. There were events and journeys to fill the soul of a writer and the readers (who she the writer could not know ... though there were a few she did, know) waiting in and out of the margins of story. It all started with the line "It was a day a duck could love" because it was truly that wet a day when the story was born. The characters: Pale the Border Witch, the Silver-haired Raven, Fairy Woman, Gypsy Woman, and Hi'iaka the Goddess pinned themselves together with a safety pin and many adventures grew during the three years.

As the Winter Solstice, 2015 approaches and I am soggy with the effects of seasonal damp I consider some creative solutions to a 'trapped and aging Mars'.  One of those solutions is to play with the character of the place, The Safety Pin Cafe, and shake the stuffiness in her a bit and maybe loosened the congestion both metaphoric and physical. Beginning with this post I'm going to consider the qualities of astrological aspects to give my winter sogginess a remedy to embrace. Like good, physical exercise that I need (but too often don't) to defuse anger (Mars) or direct it usefully, I'm hoping there is something, more than one maybe, that will come from exploring The Safety Pin Cafe as a person. 

Credit goes to and their Free Horoscopes option "AstroClick" Portrait for these interpretations. What I do with them, I can't be sure at this point. But I'm writing them down as tickle lines to stir the creative soup and we'll see what comes of it. The Natal Chart pictures in the banner for the blog is the chart that includes the interpretations. 

Moon Square Midheaven  
Your needs and feelings may often conflict with what other people seem to expect of you. Your feelings are sometimes more correct than rational judgments, which may be based on ideas taught by others with no thought for your individuality. You have to live with others, but at the same time you have to be yourself.
If reason tells you to go one way and emotion says the opposite, think about your choices carefully. If the 'reasonable' path helps others but offers you very little, then your emotions may be trying to tell you what your real needs are.
You will need the advice of a faithful friend who can show you which choice is best for you without having a stake in the result.
Interpretation by Robert Hand from "Youth Portrait".

Moon Square Saturn  
You often feel that the people around you or even life itself prevents you from expressing your emotions. You may feel lonely and unsupported by your friends, brothers and sisters and even your parents. To overcome this feeling of aloneness, you must have a great deal of emotional support from your family and friends.
Your mother, especially, must accept and support you, or else you are likely to become emotionally distant from her.
You probably try too hard to control your emotions so that others won't know how you feel, as if you were ashamed of your feelings. You shouldn't be ashamed of them.
Interpretation by Robert Hand from "Youth Portrait".

Moon Square Venus  
You need affection very much, and you will go out of your way to get it. By being very friendly and charming, you make others like you, but if you do this too much, you will not develop a very strong character. You must learn that your merits and flaws exist independently of what others see in you. You are not the product of what other people see, but of your own inner energies.
On the other hand, part of you is really very loving, affectionate and kind. You can make the people around you feel very good. If you take the trouble to develop your inner character, people will like you for what you really are. You will also have to develop some self-discipline about giving in to all your desires for pleasure. You could damage your health by drinking and eating for pleasure without considering good nutrition.
Interpretation by Robert Hand from "Youth Portrait".
Hover over the picture to read about it.
Moon Trine Jupiter  
This is one of the most pleasant of all aspects. It indicates that you are an outgoing person with a great deal of self-confidence and emotional security. You aren't afraid of being yourself in any situation.
You are usually generous and giving toward others. You want to take care of people and animals, helping those in trouble and protecting the weak.
You have great respect for honor and honesty, and you may develop a fairly strong interest in religion. Your faith will not be a limited puritanical kind, but one based on kindness and the desire to help people grow and move forward in their lives.
Interpretation by Robert Hand from "Youth Portrait".

Moon Sextile Uranus  
You have a great need to be free to express your feelings in your own way. You will show this very clearly by the kinds of friends you choose, for you insist on your right to choose them yourself.
You need to be emotionally independent as well, for you can't stand the feeling that you belong to someone, that someone has an emotional claim on you.
But you don't believe that you alone need this kind of freedom; you feel that everyone should have it. You are attracted to anything new, anything that takes you away from the everyday world or brings excitement and interest into your life.
Your strong sense of fairness urges you to work for the benefit of all. You may work to change traditions and fight against customs that have outlived their usefulness. But remember, other people may not agree with that, and you must give them the same rights you demand for yourself.
Interpretation by Robert Hand from "Youth Portrait".


Construction just didn't seem to be the word for what I'm up to as the Winter Solstice, and the promise of more light approaches. Playing with this wonderful female form of expression ... this place named The Safety Pin Cafe is more like it.

In between your busy day or night you might enjoy watching a border witch at play.

HAPPY SOLSTICE, 2015 the shortest day is Monday, December 21... AND FULL MOON ON CHRISTMAS, December 25, 2015 (for the first time since 1977)

Saturday, December 5, 2015

It was a day a duck could love ... celebrating stories you can wear your whole life!

I was led (by Maria Papova who maintains the blog Brainpickings) to read the beautifully written and illustrated children's book Open House for Butterflies. The partnership between author Ruth Krauss and Maurice Sendak has left the world of readers with many blessed reads and pictures. Open House for Butterflies was my first adventure with them, and they have long gone to the other side of the veils. 

Maria Papova writes in her essay on Brainpickings "[...]Open House for Butterflies is absolutely wonderful in its entirety, an epitome of the Krauss-Sendak magic that nurtured generations of children to blossom into creative, thoughtful, just-the-right-amount-of-irreverent adults."

Not SO long ago in this place at the edge of woods growing with Tall Trees and opportunistic berry bushes a sad and soggy heart was feeling very sorry for herself. Too far from her used-to-be- home where white, sandy beaches gathered up the ocean and let it out again, and again that sad and soggy heart was making it very difficult to be right where she was.

How can you long for white sandy beaches and used-to-be delight when the day of your truly now was a day ducks love. Well, of course, it would be possible ducks might love white sandy beaches but in that moment when Story was putting itself together to spill itself the clues were unwrapping. Unwrapping like presents in Santa's sleigh or Saint Nicholas's red pack. The clues began with a lost safety pin lying on the floor near by post office box. Perhaps it was the angle at which I carried my head, downcast and sad, that made it possible. Accidental or serendipitous. I think it both.

A safety pin (that exact pin picture above) was left. Lost? And, it might have been swept up by the cleaning woman later that day, tossed into the trash, or if she was also meant to use it ... that might have been okay as well. But instead, the pin above gave cause for the sad and sodden heart to remember joyful thoughts, silly friendships, odd cobblings of this and that. Influenced by the love of safety pins her mother had for the practicality of pins.

Today is one of those days that ducks love. That same heart, predisposed if given too much rope, will turn sad and sodden if not for the clues that simply won't let her stay gloomy another moment. A memory and those Invisibles make her put that Creamsicle hoodie on. What's that clatter? A small tinny clatter. Oh that! A butterfly was gifted not long ago on a day when a Border Witch with tendencies of a sad and sodden heart went for a ride with a Silver Haired Raven in search of a new red hat. They, the Border Witch and Silver Haired Raven found first a seat at a window in a cafe ... oh a window seat in a cafe is a very nice way to start an adventure. When both were filled with warm food and hot drinks they set off walking.

In a store that tells you to GO OUTSIDE the Witch and Raven looked and handled socks and mittens, looking for things to delight, and yes this is the shop where caps are sold. Such conversation ended up filling a few minutes that day. Wild and woolly talk of people and their rights on those islands of white sandy beaches. Oh, the talk was edgy and controversial. But. The shop keeper was savvy and business wise. He knew to keep his customers close and politics on a short string. The Witch found long, warm woolen socks to keep her legs and knees warm on days and nights only ducks love. The Silver Raven chose a bright new red cap to replace the worn and garden-dirty green one.

As a parting token the shop keeper gifted us with two tin pins. A butterfly. A honey bee. That butterfly you see was looking for the company of a safety pin. "Pins never unfit you. You can wear them your whole life." 

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Making adjustments, moving the safety pins

This has been a summer of great challenges, new ones, and familiar ones, the process has required making changes. The many forest fires in the Pacific Northwest this year have left large swaths of trees burned, and still more burn. Thousands of Oxygen-makers have been lost. Such grief. Such ash.

Living with MCS, means my body is often taxed by the usual fragrances, chemicals and products of contemporary life. The forest fires' smoke has added to the challenges, and I am humbled and set back. I was glad to have done one storytelling event early in the summer, but no more than that.

So I have practiced the art of my safety pin life, and made adjustments; affixing the remedies and enclosing myself in smaller areas of safety works for me. Slowly I recover. This is just a note to say that, and let any readers know what goes on with the teller and writer of medicine stories from The Safety Pin Cafe.

Fall approaches. The seasons are definitely changing. Hope you are enjoying the harvest time, appreciating the stories that are your life. All the best.


Monday, June 22, 2015

The Safety Pin Cafe Opens for the Summer: "A Gathering of the Animals"

If you're a Whidbey local, or visiting in early July ... come join us as we open the doors, pitch the tent for "A Gathering of the Animals" (Chinese Zodiac-style!)

When: SUNDAY, JULY 12, 2015
Where: South Whidbey TILTH Farmers' Market
Time: 11:00 AM - 1:00 PM (give or take a little time either way)

A colorful story about Rooster, Centipede, and Dragon was re-told and read aloud by all who gathered. Sharing in the storytelling, the energy of community filled the space. The South Whidbey Tilth is flourishing with that vigor, the energy of The Green Goat/Sheep/Ram.

We gathered 'the animals of the Chinese Zodiac' in February ... and beat the pans to clear out the old and welcome the new. 

Join us midway through the Year of the Green Goat/Sheep/Ram. Check in and make your 'animal' presence know. Help refuel the mana (spirit) of all animals together. Have fun, and leave with a Red Envelope and a penny to dance with.
Come fragrance-free please so we can get close to you!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Let's make island! ... HO'OMOKU

Pete and I open the door to The Safety Pin Cafe, where story is at the heart of service, and expand the menu for our community. The tables welcome the community in a journey based on na waiwai Hawaii, Hawaiian values. With the poi bowl readied, the 'aumakua (ancestors) welcomed with 'oli (chant), and the families of this Tscha-kole-chy (Whidbey Island) community seated and welcomed, we ask for permission to share/teach and learn what we need to learn. "Let's make island!" is the rallying chant and rough translation of the Hawaiian word HO'OMOKU.
Beginning in July, 2015 small groups meet once a week for 4 weeks. In July Session One focuses on MALAMA (caring for land, sky, sea, and beings). August's Session Two focuses on 'OLELO (Hawaiian vocabulary, and poetry). Session Three focuses on KILO (observation) and our Tscha-kole-chy (Whidbey Island) community links up with a Pacific-wide Lunar Conference held on O'ahu, Hawaii. Session Four focuses on ULU (thriving and growing). This session will take place sometime during the Makahiki Season (usually late October/early November - February)

 HO'OMOKU is a vision made solid, just as a coral reef becomes solid, one polyp one step at a time. A coral reef grows into an island. The words of our kupuna tell us that,  "He puko 'a kani 'aina." A person beginning in a small way gains steadily until he becomes firmly established. With the values of Hawaii in tact from head to toe, Mokihana grows Hawaii where she is today on Tscha-kole-chy (Whidbey Island) with a wish to grow a community curious, and passsionate about Hawaiian values and how these values contribute to our Island Earth.

HO'OMOKU has its own site here.  

Coral spawning in Washington

Friday, April 3, 2015

The Full Moons of April (April 1-4, 2015) and Lunar Eclipse

We practice counting the moon using the Hawaiian Lunar Calendar. In line with that practice we count 4 full moons, beginning with the Hua Moon, followed by Mohalu, then Hoku and finally Mahealani. 

Tonight the moon will rise before the sun sets. If you click on the link provided you'll see the times for Moon Rise and Sun Set (from Greenbank on Whidbey Island). Friday is the Hoku Moon. Tomorrow evening Moon Rise is thirty minutes after Sun Set, most people will call Saturday's moon the Full one. Mahealani is the name for that phase in the Hawaiian Lunar Calendar.

Astrologically there's a Lunar Eclipse along with the Full Moon...

"By the end of Friday night, the Moon is nearing full. It opposes the Sun and squares Pluto with Uranus and Jupiter involved. Keep your bearings and remember your goals if out and about. Even if you are on your game, you may find that others are not. Be prepared for explosions and meltdowns and you’ll be pleasantly surprised if they don’t happen!This full moon is about one on one relationships, and it is very volatile. If you’re concerned about volatility, I’d take things as they come, with patience and good humor. It’s possible to see some real growth and change happen, to see old structures disintegrate. Responsible and generous, straightforward talk is totally possible. But the only control one has is over oneself..." - read the whole post
We're dealing with a back injury(Pete's) with all its bubbling and boilings. So we may be moon watching from the woods where we live rather than drive out to the Tilth or Sunlight Beach. Maybe one of you all will make it to these spots.

It's Spring Celebration time this weekend as well. Happy Easter, Happy Passover, Happy Spring

Thank you Terri Windling for permission to reprint this dear Bunny girl from Bumblehill in Devon, UK

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Like the tides

Slowly and in movement much like the tides we are finding ourselves in sync with what and who is important. That's a photo of our friend Prescott and Pete on the night of Mahealani (one of the full moons according to the Hawaiian Moon Calendar). I have many words written on my other blogs, here and here. If you are interested in what that slow and tide-like activity is like, please go to my other blogs.

The Safety Pin Café, born as a myth, on a day in winter only a duck could love is feathering into a story with feet and a good heart. Pete and I grow older and root in a community with room for us. We give back and the story grows. As Spring Equinox approaches (March 19th) we look forward to more light and honor the darkness that is responsible for growth.

Enjoy your today!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Welcome to The Year of the Green Goat/Sheep/Ram, Chinese New Year Celebration

Pete and I celebrated our community of South Whidbey Island and shared our version of Chinese New Year last Saturday, February 21st, 2015. A collage of photos and a few words are posted on my other blog, Makua O'o. (Our computer has a bug that does not allow me to load photos using this software ... so please forgive the indirect connection!)

To see the fun we had and read those few words about the celebration PLEASE LINK HERE.