Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Notan - Light & Dark

One of the online rug hooking groups to which I belong has a section called "Creation & Expansion". This group is moderated by an incredibly talented and generous "hooker", Wanda Kerr in Canada. (Here is her blog: http://www.wandaworksinwiarton.blogspot.com/).

Wanda comes up with some great exercises. Recently she introduced us to a concept called "Notan". From http://www.wikipedia.com/: Nōtan (濃淡) is a Japanese design concept involving the play and placement of light and dark next to the other in art and imagery. This use of light and dark translates shape and form into flat shapes on a two-dimensional surface. Nōtan is traditionally presented in paint, ink, or cut paper, but it is relevant to a host of modern day image-making techniques, such as lithography in printmaking, and rotoscoping in animation.

Here is my first try - this is cut from a 6X6 piece of black paper...all I can see when I look at it is a woman dancing, dressed as a gift box!

Next I did just a couple of little things which I think would be great in a hooked rug border...wonderful reminder to look for the light/dark in my rugs and other projects.

As I worked on this process, my brain grappled with the idea of positive/negative space and the play of light against dark. Sometimes as I was cutting, it was hard to remember what I was looking at - is this a black part? Or is it the edge of a white space?

Reminds me of life...sometimes I get so focused on the "dark" parts that seem to have so much more weight and form than the white spaces. Troubling situations, stresses, circumstances are all that I can see. But if I train my eye to see the "negative space" - the white/light parts - as well, I realize there is always peace at the center, a calm that underlies all that is happening on my palette of life. This blank page is mine to create the shapes I wish to see manifest in my life and in the world. It has been said that the imagination is the scissors of the mind - let me cut those shapes wisely, ever remembering the peace that is the foundation of my heart, mind, and soul.

10 Minute Challenge - Week One

Wow! Amazing what can be accomplished with the commitment to spend 10 minutes each day hooking. This exercise has really reinforced the fact that my major obstacle is initiation - once begun, a project grabs my attention and away we go.

Here is the progress on "World of Harmony" after one week...

Friday, September 25, 2009

Musings on Foot Cream & Consciousness

As I was rubbing some of the wonderful emu oil/shea butter foot cream that I made last week, into my feet this morning, it occurred to me that the properties of various oils used in making bath & body products are similar to the properties of the thoughts that are used in making up our consciousness.

Some oils are carrier oils - emu oil is like this, penetrating deep into the layers of skin and taking with it the healing properties of other oils with which it is combined. Rubbing some tea tree oil on your skin is good, but if you want it to really penetrate, emu oil will help "carry" it's healing properties deeper. Affirmations (essential oils) are great - they remind us of Truth with a capital "T". They point us in a positive direction. But unless they penetrate deep into our hearts, minds, and souls, their effect is somewhat superficial and not lasting. Consistently and persistently coming from a place of love rather than from fear acts like emu oil. Love carries positive affirmations deep into our consciousness, helping to heal and transform us.

Other oils are protectants - shea butter is particularly helpful for damaged skin, helping to restore elasticity. Prayer and meditation act as a protectant from the negativity and limited thinking we encounter in the media and in the world around us. It keeps our mind open and flexible - elastic.

So here's what I learned from my foot cream - remain centered in love, transform through positive affirmation and protect your sweet spirit with prayer & meditation.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

10-Minute Challenge

I started the 10-minute rug hooking challenge on Monday...as expected, 10 minutes most often turns into 45. Here is a picture of current rug at beginning of the challenge.

Unfortunately it became obvious last night that I would not have enough wool to complete the sky. Thus followed a frantic search for my notes from when I first dyed this wool - fortunately I was able to find them and I hit the dye pots today. I have been told for years to keep detailed notes whenever dyeing. I've not often done so, but this time I guess I listened. Whew! So many factors enter into the process - water temperature, placement and timing of adding various dyes, how frequently and vigorously the pot is stirred - but I think I got some usable "sky" wool. There are a couple of darker values that can be worked in....original "sky" is on the left - today's dyeing is on the right. Yippee! Tomorrow, it's back to hooking...10 more minutes.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Ten-Minute Rug Hooking Challenge

Initiation - getting started on a project -any project! - has always been one of my greatest challenges. Once begun, I enjoy just about whatever I find myself doing...it's that first push to get started that trips me up.

April DeConick of Red Jack Rugs (http://www.redjackrugs.blogspot.com/) is a fellow blogger and rug hooker. She came up with a great idea to inspire hookers to keep focused and working - work on your rugs 10 minutes a day, six days a week (excluding holidays) for at least six months. Brilliant! Work" includes anything rug-related: designing, drawing, laying out, dyeing, hooking, binding, even shopping for materials.

Okay, it's time to get serious about getting into gear. I'm taking the challenge and I'm starting today! It may take me 10 minutes to gather my materials and get ready to hook - does that count? I know once I get started, I will very likely work for more than 10 minutes...okay, I'm off to begin the fun!

Still in the kitchen

Still putzing around the kitchen... This time I've been "cooking up" some creams. Several years ago, with the help of LOTS of websites and online groups, I came up with something called "No More Owies" - it's a cream filled with wonderful oils and MSM that works like tiger balm without the smell or stickiness. I also came up with a hand and foot cream featuring bulgarian lavendar essential oil and tea tree oil. Both have emu oil as one of the main ingredients. Emu oil has amazing healing properties and penetrates deep into the tissue, thus acting as a carrier oil for other goodies, like MSM (a great anti-inflammatory). I also emu oil to make my own soap. I use shea butter in most everything I make as it is a great protectant.

At one time I had the idea I could sell these types of products and make a little extra money. Very quickly I realized that doing so takes all the fun out of the process so now I just make things for myself and a few friends. I enjoy the freedom of experimenting and playing around with different recipes and techniques.

Making lotions, creams, and soaps is just such a magical process. Who says oil and water don't mix? I love the way things change color and consistency, the effect of different temperatures, properties of different oils and all the little tricks that go into creating these wonderful things. And most of all...my feet are very happy!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Getting into Gear...in the Kitchen

Just as it can be a challenge to "get it into gear" in the work setting, the same is true when taking a time away from work. I've found myself at loose ends, worried this precious time will slip by too quickly and I won't have accomplished anything (hmmmm, that's not the point of time off!), or that I won't use the time wisely in engaging in my favorite activities (you know, those things I always have LOTS of plans for, especially when I'm at my busiest). This is a lesson in relaxing into being, taking cues from Spirit, and doing whatever catches my fancy at the moment.

Cooking (or just putzing around in the kitchen) is one of my favorite ways to relax. I love the colors and how they change with heat, the aromas, the sizzle in the pan and the pure magic that takes place in the kitchen. And yes, of course, I love to eat!

We've been trying some new things lately (aren't we always?) - we harvested our shiso and and made shiso juice using my mother-in-law's recipe. The first challenge was to have Takashi translate it from Japanese and the second was to convert grams into ounces and then use the postal scale to measure ingredients. Shiso juice is a refreshing summertime drink - a concentrate is made by boiling the leaves and then adding sugar and citric acid. We've always had red shiso juice in Japan so we were curious to see what would happen with our green shiso. Yep...there's that magic I'm talking about! It turned out a beautiful shade of crimson, diluted with ice and water we have lovely and delious pink juice.

Next on the list of "we gotta try" was takoyaki or "octopus balls" (yeah, I know what you're thinking). This delicious street vendor food is like a crispy, yummy, gooey dumpling filled with octopus, ginger and other goodies. On our way home from Silverton last weekend, we stopped at the wonderful Asian grocery in Eugene - Sunrise Market, where we uncovered a takoyaki pan. After some searching in the backroom for the handle, we headed home and Sunday was takoyaki day.

After watching a number of youtube videos on how to make takoyaki, we headed for the kitchen. We had been forewarned that the first few batches might stick. They were right. So we have photos of them cooking, but not the finished product. Rest assured, the taste was not affected.

This week was also time to harvest basil and make pesto to freeze for use over the winter months. Basil can be finicky in our coastal climate but we bought quite a few plants this year and should be set for the winter.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Blessing of the Bogs

Yep, I'm on sabbatical but I couldn't miss the 10th annual blessing of the cranberry bogs to kick off Bandon's Cranberry Festival. It was an incredible morning on the coast - sunny and warm. Not sure if it stayed that way or not as Takashi and I immediately headed up to Silverton so I could perform a wedding in the nearly 100 degree heat. I am SO happy to live in beautiful Bandon-by-the-Sea.

Anyway, I was happy to join three of my favorite people - "RevMum", Father Andrew and Pastor Les - as we blessed the harvest at the bogs on Randolph & 101. KCBY TV showed up along with the Cranberry Princesses & Prince.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Scrapbooking Koyasan Trip

Remember when you had to send your film (remember film?) away to be processed? A week later you received your photographs in an envelope. If you were an organized person, you marked the back of the photo with the date. If you were really organized you put them in a photo album.

Sometimes I think it was easier in the "old days"! Today we have to download our own photos, edit them, file them, print them, and then what the heck do we do with them?

Well I've decided to combine a few select photos with miscellaneous memorabilia to celebrate selected special memories. Today I started with a trip to Koyasan - Mt. Koya - in Fall 2007. Here are a few samples. This is also an exercise in learning to post & move photos in a blog post...

Despite the fact that it was a rainy couple of days when we visited Koyasan, we were charmed by its beauty and history.

We were able to spend the night in a Buddhist monastery. The monks served us an incredible vegetarian meal...the 3 trays of food in upper left corner were for just one person! In the morning we were able to join them for prayers/chanting. It was a wonderful experience.

I think I will post the other pictures in a new post...and try a few new methods in doing so!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Dye Day

Today I tried a new dyeing technique...it didn't go as planned but I am sure this wool will find a place in some project or another. I overdyed some "blah" tan wool with 5 different colors - did one in a crockpot and one in a mason jar.

Dyeing wool is very meditative for me. In fact, dipping wool in a vat of dye is like meditation - the more I dip myself into that inner space, the deeper and richer my life becomes. Unfortunately I was a bit scattered and felt somewhat rushed today - not the best time to try a new technique. Not the best time to start a new venture.

Above you see some before and after pictures....or should I say "after and before"? The results, although not what expected, are still quite pleasant. I guess we call that grace?

A Fun Exercise

I have often done "stream of consciousness" collages - quickly pull pictures from magazines that grab my attention, make a collage, and look for the message. One of my online rug hooking groups suggested doing the same type of exercise using a newspaper. This is what emerged in about 15 minutes...

Try it! Ask yourself what message it conveys or what it says about your life right this very moment.

Thursday, September 3, 2009


A sabbatical is a period of time granted for professional development and spiritual renewal away from normal responsibilities in a manner that is not possible during the busyness of a typical work year. Sabbaticals are not vacations, but carefully planned periods of time devoted to study, reflection, rest, and renewal. They frequently become a path to understanding one’s life in new ways or as a vehicle for a transformed sense of spiritual identity. This is a time to experience more “being” than “doing”; a time of freedom and authenticity. One of the goals of a sabbatical is to return to the congregation renewed and refreshed.

I am now on my second sabbatical. When it was written into my contract all those years ago that I would receive a six-month paid sabbatical leave every seven years, I don't think any of us could foresee my tenure lasting that long! This time around, I have chosen to divide the six months into two three-month periods. I was off March, April, May - back to work June, July, August - and now here we are in the second half. I find it takes several weeks to find a rhythm of more "being", to let go of "to do" lists and schedules, and to do whatever I feel inspired to do on any given day.

In the Spring I took a wonderful online class called "Tempting Techniques" to explore a variety of mixed media techniques. Here is a sample of using alcohol inks on photo paper. The background was created by using a really cool material that looks like a big blue sponge. You heat it up with the heat gun and press textures into it to make a stamp.

For the cover of the book I used some fusion "fabric" that I made from soy silk - a byproduct from processing tofu. Who knew!

So now that I'm figuring out how to post pictures (well...sort of figuring it out), there may be more to come!


Welcome to my blog. Only time will tell how this venture will evolve. This may be the first post in many - or it may be the last. My vision is vague but I feel prompted to jump in and at least give it a try.

Now here is one of the most difficult aspects of blogging - what is the topic?? You see, I am a very fortunate person - I love the work that I do AND I love the time that I have off to enjoy a variety of other activities. So on what aspect of life do I concentrate? As usual...ALL of it!

Unity of Bandon, located on the southern Oregon coast has been my spiritual community for 15 years. It is the first in which I have served as minister and will most likely be my last as I can not imagine ever leaving here. It's not called the "Odd Flock" for no reason!

I am currently on a three-month sabbatical leave (Sep, Oct, Nov) so now seemed like a good time to try this venture. My plan is to spend this time of renewal engaging in activities I love:
hooking (rugs and wallhangings), dyeing wool, quilting, visual journaling, altered books, soapmaking, gardening, cooking, beading...get the idea?
And now....the journey has begun....