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update on the chickies! and miscellaneous other things

May 10th, 2017

Oh they are cute and have more than quadrupled in size. We started them in a “brooder” created with Ms Gracie’s soft-sided pen, used while her broken leg was pinned. A heat lamp was NOT a good idea but a seed starter heat mat under the bedding worked great. We monitored the temps, kept adjusting as the littles got bigger and then one day, as if by magic, they seemed too big for the available space. Plus they wanted to stretch their developing wings.

Having read that a major challenge with not-quite-adult-chicks is familiarity vs. change, we put together their coop and installed it in the dining room. It took up a bit of our living space but worked great and was highly entertaining for everyone in the household. Within days they were able to climb the ladder or fly into the roosting area. At some point we removed the heat mat and nothing in their behavior changed. Hooray! They were obviously comfortable.

Now they are 6-7 weeks old and almost, if not, fully feathered. They are able to regulate their body temps and do well as a group. Outdoors temps are quite warm during the day (finally!) and usually above 50 at night. We moved the coop outdoors this morning. They had nothing to adjust to except the availability of grass and ground, which makes them quite happy, thank you very much.

The coop is temporarily situated in between a new raised garden bed and a straw bale bed and is sheltered by the S/SE angle of the house. They have grass, ground, sun or shade and everything they are accustomed to and seem quite content.

Zooey is still very protective and the coop-run is predator proof, plus is close to the main entrance to the house. Stella, the cat, has basically lost interest since the chicks got bigger. We will ensure they are secure at dusk.

Life is good for the Star House Chickens. Next project: build them a portable run  (aka “chicken tractor”) that can be moved around the yard and orchard. With a little luck that will happen this weekend.

*****

In other news, we enjoyed a lovely lunch today with a local friend. He’s an art appraiser and a collector of contemporary art and western writers. It was great conversation, stimulating and challenging. Living outside this small town is a rich experience. People are very interesting, there are good overlaps,  we’ve been made welcome and are “at home”. Life is good.

*****

I have finally begun to feel more myself after a long recovery period from March’s unfortunate illnesses. There’s a lot of catching up to do, socially, in the gardens, the studio, office and elsewhere. This all takes so much time and tests my patience. Saying “NO” got to be a habit the past months, now I get to decide when to say “yes”. <G>

The reset button has been employed: I am not behind, rather right where I should be. All will be well.

 

Are you well? What’s going on in your lives? Drop a note, here or privately.

Be well, do good work…..

 

What day is it?

April 14th, 2017

It is Spring on the edge of the Rockies! We get a little snow or rain overnight and next day, new green colors! Grape Hyacinth blooming, bees on dandilions, shrubs and trees beginning to leaf out. The blue birds are gathering their nesting materials, several mystery birds are here on a regular basis now, the honey bees are active. The Sandhill Cranes are nesting, Eagles sitting on eggs.

(7 )10 day old chicks are happily chirping away in a brooder pen in the dining room, just under my seedling table. They will eat from my hand now. Zooey took the “leave it” quite seriously and will not let Stella (the cat) near the chick pen! We’ll see what happens later, but it’s our intention that Zooey, a herding breed, regard them as “Hers”. (We will also have appropriate predator proof penning outside when it’s time.) I still fantasize about having a pair of geese for her but that’s a long shot .

On a different note: What a beginning to this year! One of my sisters died New Year’s Day (expected, difficult anyway).
Jeff and I both had the Flu in January. He recovered quickly, I spent an additional 2 weeks on antibiotics. February was a blur but we did get the hardwood floor installed. Hooray!

First week of March we got the call that Jeff’s mom was in ICU: Off to Colorado within the hour. We were with her and the entire family when she passed, at peace and aglow with love and loving.
Came home, went back the next week for her services.
Came home again and two days later, we were both ill as was the entire Colorado branch of the family. Flu B.
Jeff was out of commission for several days. I ended up in the hospital with flu, pneumonia and several domino effects. I am still “flat”. It is not easy or fun. It’s been a few weeks now: lots of meds, lots of tests, regular blood work: there is no magic bullet. It’s getting difficult to maintain a sense of humor, although anything that concludes with the statement “pretty good for a woman your age” makes me laugh. . The chickies were/are my mental health fix

All of this is giving me cause to reflect on relationships, on community, on the balances I work toward in my life. Since I’ve been ill, social contact has been minimal – I have not been contagious for a while but have zero energy and no desire to pick up a bug and I miss my peeps!

This has made me realize how out of touch I have become with long term, deeply valued friendships and professional cohorts. I am so sorry! We take these things for granted and maybe think Social Media stands in.
It really does not. Fair to note however that many of us were so disheartened by the after effects of the elections that our energies have been elsewhere???

To you all, my apologies for not keeping properly in touch. Life changes, sometimes it is challenging, but you know who you are, friends of my heart. Be well. Do your work in the world. Know you are loved and appreciated.

drop a note or two and let me know how YOU are!!!

and now it is 12/1

December 11th, 2016

We’ve enjoyed sub zero temps the last few days but there is some snow. Deer have been as close to the front door as I, but they don’t come in the house. They are enjoying the last of the herbs: parsley, thyme, marjoram. Some snapdragons…. it’s cool but the dogs object for some reason.

New work is on the walls and under the needle. We’ll see. Right now it is not ready to share.

There is current work in Billings at the Toucan (Billings) and in Helena at the Studio Art Gallery.

My Billings house is scheduled to close the 14th (wish me luck!!! I don’t want a continued rental),

In sadder news,  my sister is probably on her way out these next few weeks. I wish her smooth passage, and am so very sad for her.

Hold your loved ones close and have your screenings! Folks! so much of this is treatable with early detection.

 

 

november 21???

November 21st, 2016

Going into Thanksgiving week, we are enjoying balmy weather! So far only one little snowfall here at 4200′, but lots of snow icing the high country. My “gardens” all succumbed to heavy frost about a month ago, right on time. Next year’s plans include more native wildflowers and (heaven help us all) I’m considering some chickens and a couple of geese. yikes! The four colonies of honey bees are thriving. They seem to do well in the super insulated horizontal hives. I love the free form comb they build. Next year (assuming they winter well), we will take some honey.

 

Some of you have been following the saga with my sister. Today’s update: we may not be able to bring her here from another state. The paperwork and transfer (or not) of benefits is not conducive. It may also be she could not physically make the trip.

I will continue doing what I can. we’ll see.

Take away for some of you:

  1. Have your recommended screenings. Most of these cancers can be dealt with, assuming early detection.

2. Get or be an advocate! Hospice is wonderful. Not everyone has family or partners. You might need an advocate someday. You might have a chance to be one now. It is a good thing to do. Meanwhile, support Hospice where you live.

3. Fight for the continuation of Medicare and SSI and some form of the ACA. It does not take much for medical expenses to ruin even a reasonably comfortable household.

ok. that’s the personal stuff <G>> My website is being updated. Turns out there’s a lot of new work! hooray. I didn’t think that was true.

here’s a teaser:

http://www.cater-woods.com/gallery.php?cat=10

memory-mont

 

be well. be kind when you can.

please keep in touch.

following one’s own advice?

September 10th, 2016

Today, September 10, has been spent clearing out boxes of papers, stored since my move 2+ years ago.  The good news: there’s very little “trash”. The good news? much of what had been stored may now be obsolete. The better news: this draft blog post is still relevant, if not quite so much. Written at the end of May, it was a reflection on being at Crossroads. I no longer feel quite like that. Several exhibitions have come and gone since then – there’s been a lot of new work made over the past two years. There are two invitationals to deliver work for in the next month.

memory-mont    meditation-map   moon-1_02

***

draft post

For nearly three decades (yikes!), in one format or another, I taught, coached, facilitated – whatever you choose to name it- I worked with creative people, individually, in classes and in small groups. Whether in a formal setting such as a University classroom or professional symposiums or more casual retreat environments, my basic task was to help folks make the next move or next jump in their creative process.  Along the way a lot of processes, techniques and possibilities were shared but the underlying focus was always on each individual’s journey.

Every person is unique and each set of circumstances is very particular. Still, the basics of creative work are consistent from my point of view: learn the required skills and language, master your tools, improve constantly and most important, show up! Make one decision and then the next. Then the next. Be true to your initial creative vision, each subsequent decision should match that.

Life: Circumstances change. We find ourselves, every so often, just moving with the currents, perhaps adrift. It can be difficult (and is certainly time/energy consuming) to re-orient. Having just come through one of those multi-year situations, here were major challenges: My studio discipline was shot. The daily work habit needed to be rebuilt. I went from a decades long consistent daily practice to not being in studio at all. Part of this had to do with all that accompanies a major loss, from coping to surviving to putting myself back together, and then to building a new life. What did/do I want that life to look like? what is an appropriate life/work balance, now? I used to know the answers to these questions, has that changed? Actually, lots has changed and I am adjusting and choosing and celebrating!

Confidence, well, where did it go, if it ever existed? (Is the work any good? what happens next? how should it look? why am I doing this?  In short, all the questions we ask ourselves as we build what is generally, a very solitary work life.)

Identity: Marge Piercy said: “every artist lacks a “license”. This is true. We can self describe, self identify as artists, with or without degrees, with or without an exhibition record, sales, awards and external acclaim, but many of us face a certain sense that the outside world places little or no value on what we do. A friend once told me that what people like me do is non-essential, therefore without value. Is this true? For that friend it was. I’ve almost always had a strong sense of self, of who I am in the world, but at times the self-doubts can be challenging. There’s no shortage of reinforcement for insecurity, is there.

***Now, on the other side of this reflection from late May, I am still not in studio daily, but am creating new gardens, new pollinator habitat, new community relationships. This matters. My little cottage in Billings is on the market and has required major work in the aftermath of a renter. sigh. There’s been a lot of work at the treehouse – hooray- and here at the StarHouse. This has been the season of paint on my shoes <G>.

Some decisions have been made in light of personal changes as well as the change in the “market”.

  • Travel for teaching is no longer in the template of my life. I will miss all of you whose relationships have been so important over the years. thank you for the gifts of your friendship and for how you allowed me to see through your eyes.
  • A greater focus on putting the work into the world is important. Perhaps (if there is something to say <G>) I will begin writing again.
  • Primarily, it has to be about what happens in the studio. Without that, there is nothing to share, nothing to say.

As we approach the Equinox, colors are shifting; the habits of birds and wild critters are changing, there’s a welcome chill in the dark hours and lovely warmth in the afternoons. The higher peaks behind the house have snow. The light is wonderful.

wishing you well.

“walker”

March 14th, 2016
"Proverbs and Songs # 29, Antonio Merchado
(translated by Willis Barnstone)

Walker, your footsteps
are the road and nothing more.
Walker, there is no road,
the road is made by the walking.
Walking you make the road,
and turning to look behind
you see the path you never
again will step upon.
Walker, there is no road
only foam trails upon the sea.

--

Four Moons

September 26th, 2015

 

moon-1_02

Sunday, September 27, brings us a whopping 4 moons at one time–the Blood Moon, the Harvest Moon, a Super Moon, and a Total Lunar Eclipse!  Of course, they all refer to the same moon but each has a special meaning.

The Blood Mood refers to the last total lunar eclipse in a tetrad of 4 total lunar eclipses.  This tetrad started on April 15, 2014 and includes the eclipses on October 8, 2014 and April 4, 2015. The next tetrad won’t begin until April, 2032.

The Harvest Moon refers to the full moon in September.  Folklore says that this is the Harvest Moon because farmers can work late into the night bringing in the harvest by the bright light of the full moon. Nowadays I’m pretty sure that headlights have taken over that duty!

A Super Moon occurs when the full moon also happens when the moon is at its closest point to the Earth in its slightly elliptical orbit.  This Super Moon will be about 225,000 miles from the Earth won’t be this close again until November of 2016.  The difference is noticeable in both size and brightness but shouldn’t be confused with the “Moon Illusion” that makes a full moon near the horizon look massively huge.  The Moon Illusion really is an illusion–just bracket that huge full moon with two fingers–it will shrink right back to normal size.

Finally, this full moon with be a Total Lunar Eclipse.  For us, the eclipse will have already have started at moonrise but totality–when the moon enters the darkest central part of the Earth’s shadow–will begin with the moon nicely above the horizon and will last for an amazing 72 minutes!

To find the time of moonrise for your location, go to http://www.timeanddate.com/moon/ and enter your location.

Moon rise is always a magical moment, and watching one with intent makes it even better!

With clear skies, of course.

guest writer, Jeff Ross

Mare-Serenitatis

Mare Serenitatis

as we begin a new month

August 2nd, 2015

“Three Things to Remember”, Mary Oliver (from A Thousand Mornings)

As long as you’re dancing, you can

break the rules.

Sometimes breaking the rules is just

extending the rules.

 

Sometimes there are no rules.

***

sunfleur
It’s a new season in my  life. “Rules” in all variations of the term, are being considered and reconsidered.

At the beginning of August we are into full Summer. The garden is producing, the bees are happy and busy of course, birds come to the feeders. Decisions are being made in the studios – both the physical space and the more important “studio between the ears”.

My sabbatical is officially over.

 

 

dawn window

December 30th, 2014

FFAC

“dawn window: begin again”: My donation for “The 100″, the fundraiser for American Cancer Society.

5w x 7″h, mounted to 8×10”

Mixed media: photo on fabric, lutradur and other surfaces, hand beaded, embroidered, machine stitch.

A Summer dream, made in honor of a sister.
How can you participate? All the details are here:
http://www.virginiaspiegel.com/FFACThe100Fundraiser.html

the long weekend

October 13th, 2014

hh-2    Saturday morning at Hungry Horse for the Le Griz Ultra Run (50 miles). We were there to crew for a good friend. It was a long satisfying day in a gorgeous place.

HH-am The weather was variable, with everything except snow. Tamaracks and aspen have turned a burnished gold.

talltrees   fall

Later in the weekend we walked around Lion’s Lake. The trees are so tall. The climate there, near Glacier Park, is more like the Pacific NW than the part of the state where I live. It is semi-arid here.

backyard  west

the view from the house, looking west.

roadhome the road home, today at noon. That snow capped mountain is behind the house.

**
Years ago, in Houston, a random person gave me this quip as an early birthday gift.

It was a delight to see the words on a bumper sticker Sunday afternoon.

the edge