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Friday, April 27, 2012


It was an otherwise forgettable day when I found her.  Perfect, pure as moonlight, strangely soft, a full three feet wingtip to wingtip.  The dawn must have marked both the close of night and the close of earthly life.  I carried her to the thicket and sat for a long time.  Just looking.  Thinking.  Rocking on my heels.  Caressing her heart-shaped face.  I sang a little wild song for her, barely audible.  I thanked her.  For so many things that remain unsaid, for the secrets in the night of my heart, for her golden eyes which bring sun into darkness, for the holiness of that moment.

And then, when peace was found, I laid her under a broad-leafed tree, gathered wild arugula blooms, tilted her face to the sky, and said goodbye.
* * *
(sterling silver, montana agate)
* * *

Have a beautiful weekend friends!
~ Umber ~

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Making it Beautiful

I read a book awhile back by a woman who was a sort of therapist/self-help guru.  In it she described a particular phone session wherein a client called from a low place, a dark place, a place with the threat of self-hurt.  The guru, knowing this particular client well, told them "Find one drawer in your house, dump it out, glean through the contents, organize, purge, save only what you love and arrange them back as beautifully as you can.  Then call me back.  You have one hour."  The client did as they were instructed and all in all, it was a very happy ending.
This story has stuck to me for years, and even though I'm in a grand mood today, I found myself thinking about it over breakfast.  About shaking up a space, wiping out the grime, detailing the nooks and crannies, culling, curating, and making it as beautiful as I can.  About how good I feel in a place like that, how pleased to be surrounded by my favorites, my collections.  About how much it inspires and delights me to arrange these things I love: houseplants, driftwood, stones and bones, feathers, natural forms, and gifts from those who know me well.
This little corner is my very favorite spot in the house.  It's technically our wee dinning room, no more than seven by ten feet, but when I sit here and write, or sup, or type (as I am right now), I feel that southern light soaking into my hair, the huge eastern window at my back with the sound of the river, the oxygen-carbon exchange with my plants breathing life into my skin and the brilliant feng shui that living things impart.
Today I scrubbed it down well, deeply watered every green thing and took my time making it lovely.  I fussed over the maiden hair, glossed up the aloe, polished every inch of glass, and nestled my little blue bird right in the middle.  The only spot I left unattended was the upper corner of the window.  I have no love for spiders, but about seven months ago I made a peace pact with this particular one.  Back then she was teensy, smaller than half my pinkie nail, but she had built a frothy white web and did a number on the flying pest situation that happens when one lives in the country right above a river.  She was such a hunter, I told her as long as she kept up her end of the bargin, I'd leave her web alone.  I saw her just the other day, multiplied about four times in size, fat on flies and gnats and I kid you not, hibbie-jibbies ran down my spine.  But a deal is a deal and I'm not planning on breaking our peace treaty.

So this has me curious: do you have a place in your home that serves to house your collections?  A place that makes you breath deep and feel a little bliss just from looking?  A place you fuss over, arrange, tinker and tweek until it's just right?  
Where is it?  What do you keep there?

I'd love to discuss this in the comment box!
Signing off,
these the two green thumbs.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Candy

This morning I woke, pulled back the curtains to see, overnight, the cherry blossom tree has come to life.
I'm helpless against the power of that pink!  Positively heady and drunk on chroma!

We'll call it the long candy swoon.

Friday, April 20, 2012

A Ring for the East
For Red-Tailed Hawk
For Vision
For Trust

(sterling silver and prehnite)

You didn't think I could forget about the east, did you?  ;)

(in the shop now...)

Thursday, April 19, 2012

For the West, the North and the South

Rings for the West, the North and the South
A Ring for the West
For Great Blue Heron
For Release
For Reflection
(sterling silver and lapis lazuli)
A Ring for the North
For Elk

For Ancestors
For Wisdom
(sterling silver and kingman turquoise)
A Ring for the South
For Red Fox
For Action
For Abundance

(sterling silver and carnelian)

While I've been thinking deeply on goodness, I've been making.  Meditating really, allowing my thoughts to circle, allowing animals who are not necessarily part of my regular imagery to stride out right onto the silver bench, to offer me lessons in exchange for my attention.  And somehow, at the end, I found myself with these three rings.  Rich with physical weigh, even richer with symbolism, consider them an exploration for an open heart and a fertile mind.  They sing of honoring cyclical nature, of honoring life, of reconnecting with this earth that holds us so dearly.  When I look at them, they make me sigh deeply and tingle with my own aliveness.
* * *

I am offering these three to begin; send me a convo if you are interested in reserves or would like to just chat a bit more.  Additionally, I will be placing, at random, three quasi-custom, made to order listings for similar rings in the shop.  These will be first come, first serve, but I am excited about the prospect of co-creating a ring with you, with a stone and an animal that speak to your heart!

Cheers my bright eyed, bushy tailed friends!
~ Umber ~

Thoughts on the Living

I've been rather absent from the webular worlds this last week... I'd apologize but the truth is, we've just been busy with the living.  That place wherein dishes still pile up, the dogs run out of food, work carries on, all the busy things fly fast and thick, but really, you're just immersed in the living.  You're present. Do you know that feeling?
There has been a topic BC and I have been chewing on lately:
What if, just what if, we deeply believed that humankind was inherently good rather than bad?  What if we could look at our own selves with a clear eye and apply that belief?  You see, like so many others, I grew up with certain beliefs systems that told me otherwise, that humans were base beings, riddled with sin.  But that idea has never truly stuck.  There is too much kindness, too much love, too many individual souls I've been blessed by for me to believe that.  So what if I personally tried to view every person I came in contact with as inherently good, even in the face of poor decisions, even if they've lost their way?  How would that change my interaction with them, how could that change the way they view themselves?  What if I (and by this I mean each and every individual one of us) saw how bright our light shone, how beautiful our hearts were, how even in the face of daunting adversity, we made the best decisions we could possibly make and were proud to stand by them?  I guess this all boils down to this: what if we loved ourselves without reservation, without agenda, without pride, just loved ourselves for our own beautiful, messy, goofy, melancholy, stubborn, insightful, rich souls?

I think this could change the world.

So really what I'm trying to say is this:
I believe you are deeply, deeply good.
Plus I think you are beautiful.
And I think your soul is perfect.
I'm glad you're here.
p.s. How cool are these vials and beakers and test tubes filled with everything that I love?  My parents sure do know me well, and let me tell you, they are SUPERB gift givers.  Can we just give them a collective shout out?  

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Birth of a Day

Pelican Music
Singing in the dawn with words, tea and a lonely stretch of beach
This is the face of a gal who has seen thirty-two years on this earth.  I suppose that also make this a shameless plug for my birthday!  Way to live me!  As has become a birthday tradition, I greeted the dawn solo and silent, with the crash of waves and a rich cacophony of bird song.  In the dark of morning I dressed like the dunes: all shades of olive and navy and salt-soaked driftwood.  But then the sun rose and I found myself on a beach dressed in coral and fire.  One should only ever emulate nature, never compete, because I tell you true, she'll take your breath away every time.

Now I'm home, full up on poached eggs and avocado on toast, ready to spoil myself rotten for the day!  I'm going to have a THIRD cup of coffee, a cookie before noon, and generally indulge myself as I see fit.  If only I had a pony.  That would be perfect.  I'd saddle him up and we'd gallop along the river right into the heart of the redwoods, puppies at our heels, where I'd set up a tent and we'd share a bucket of carrots and oats.  Afterwards I'd don heels and BC would pour a martini as foxes slipped by, owls flashed white in the night and we danced to blues around a camp fire.

I think that could work out quite nicely.

So as I go about my day, I'm curious:  Tell me, if you could celebrate your birthday in any fashion, in any locale, in any activity, what would you do?

I'm off for that cookie.
~ Umber ~

Monday, April 9, 2012

Dreaming in Long Ears and Strong Feet

Today I feel small and quiet and choked up on words, so I'll spill them into a journal and let time decipher.  I hope you don't mind.  It's a gray day here; even the redwoods feel introspective.  I'm chewing slowly over a beautiful experience I had last night in the woods, a flit of rust, a flash of emerald and hummingbird wingtips running across my jaw.
"Live out your joy in this moment."
That's a lot to think about.

So while I amble along in my own head, I thought I'd share a couple newly finished pieces with you.
(8" x 8"  Oil on Canvas)

Last night I lighted two candles and finished this piece.  It's a blending of past and present, a methodical attempt to understand the new, a seeking of direction and of course, a self-portrait.  This one will require much writing and studying on my part, keeping the dialogue between mind and oil open.

True Center Ring - Breaking Limitations

True Center Ring: Breaking Limitations
(sterling silver, turquoise)

We have so much to learn, so far to go, but I tell you this: there is no label strong enough to hold you down, there is no box great enough to constrain your spirit.

I'm far, far from arriving at my own true center, but this journey is right where I want to be.  I made this ring last week; sawed, filed, created a relief, imprinted a sheet, soldered, polished and patinated her with a one-hundred percent intent of keeping her for myself.  But all weekend I've had this little knot bugging me, telling me she actually belongs to someone else.  I tried to ignore it, but I know better: art will find a way to arrive to the exact person who needs to see it.
(If she calls your name, you can find her in the shop)

Namasté my friends!
Be well in your souls!
~ Umber ~

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Sketchbook Writings

~ From my sketchbook writings, Thursday April 5th, 2012 ~
I saw the first amethyst blooms of the lupines today.  I don't know why that flower holds such a potency in my heart.  Why it makes me feel hoary and timeworn, even as they spring up from the sandy earth in a flush of youth.
This brings me to the ancestors.  My own lineage is pockmarked with great holes of unknowing which leaves me free to wonder:
Have my people always needed water, great, dark rushing bodies and the physical sensation of tides?  Were they struck dumb, hearts cracked open at the permeating energy of ancient redwoods?  Did they always wear feathers in their hair, were they always the familiars of the red hawks?  Did they believe the white tailed deer understood them, and feel a sympathetic trembling in their tendons?  Did they scan the undergrowth for ferns before staking camp, did they run fingers along spore spines?  Did they whisper wishes for raven calls at sunrise and gray foxes in the night?  Did they leave a lock of hair for the cedar, offer the best blackberry to the birds, gift song to the sweet peas, and rock on their heels, breathing thanks for stone treasures, wood treasures, bone treasures?
I guess what I'm truly asking is this:
Did they realize, each Spring, just how much breath they held waiting for the lupines to bloom?
* * *

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

For the Light Seekers

Introducing The Mothlette Cuffettes!
The Mothlette Cuffettes

For the light seekers,
The night flyers,
The ones who don't give up,
I offer a winged totem for your wrists!

These mini cuffettes are so pleasingly dainty and svelte, perfect for wearing solo or fitting right into your collection of wrist-wear.  I've been wearing mine with an assortment of bangles and charms all weekend and heartily give them my stamp of approval!
Naturally, you can find them in the shop right here...