Apifera Farm - where art, story, animals & woman merge. Home to artist Katherine Dunn

©K.Dunn. All rights reserved.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Big news, huge news, happy news, shocking news

There is some HUGE news to share now. I have been keeping this inside for weeks, and only a handful of friends/contacts know.

Martyn and I, and Apifera, are relocating to...Maine.

Just as I was once pulled West by internal rumblings and guides, I am being guided East. But this time, Martyn is also having the same pull. This is a soul -and financial-and life-decision as a couple and farm. It will be our grandest and most complicated collaboration to date. The Misfits will come too. There will be many decisions to make, many arrangements, many pieces of a puzzle will need to fall into place. The land here would never think of holding us back, it simply says, "Thank you, you have helped me and I have helped you, now go on your way, something out there needs you."

I do believe there is a place, with a barn, standing in central Maine somewhere, in need. I do.

To say we are excited is an understatement. I am not joyous to leave, but we both are ready and eager for the next step of our forming. When I left Minneapolis for Portland in 2002, who could have known what things I would do in my relationship to land, animal and people? But when I left, I knew it was a huge opening for me, and it was, in more ways than I could have known. This is how we both feel about this move. Martyn is ready to have seasonal work-he has been working manual labor as a landscaper since he was 15. He wants a change. He wants to fish. He wants to expand. He wants to be east. I too what a tweak in my work. As a wise healer I work with said, "You will always find Misfits wherever you go because they always will find you-that is part of your path here on earth." How my work will evolve with the animals, and my art and books, we will see. I will always share story, my work is about relationship.

We are 57 and as we started looking towards our 60's, we knew carrying this mortgage would become a drain. We've seen it happen over and over-people age and don't make plans, or wait to long to make a change that is needed. We are not broke, we are not in trouble, but we also know this is a needed and important financial decision for us. We want to live where the other person can carry the mortgage on their own should the other fall ill, or not have a mortgage. And we can have that and more in Maine.

We are graced to have a couple friends already there, and they have been so helpful guiding us. So we know the area we want, in fact there is one town that seems to be pulling us especially. I'm not sharing that right now but and we already are getting acquainted with the area. We are finding many possibilities. And yesterday, I signed the papers to put our property on the market.

So what do I want from you? I want your wings. I want Apifera to be blessed and carried by love from one coast to the other. I don't want advice, nor does Martyn. I want your encouragement and excitement to follow us on this big adventure. Earnest is going East. The White Dogs will have snow. The One Eyed Blind Pug will feel the sunset on his one eyeball, but this time it will rise from the Atlantic. The Atlantic, I have missed the Atlantic. I want to have a cyber village of fans and friends that cheer us on.

Leaving will be sad in many ways-but I have been through this before. Leaving is just what you do before you enter something. I have tried to tell a few people and associates-if I left you out, please don't feel hurt. I realized at some point, let it go, I can't control the hurt of others. There have been some cynical reactions too, from Oregon friends. But I am not living their lives, so I won't own any of that.

A year ago when I started painting for the Oct '15 show, I immediately had an internal voice tell me the show should be called, "Calling All Wings". I thought I knew why that was. I thought it was because I knew many of the elders were passing, many of the original Misfits were going to need wings. And that happened. But like always, there is always so much more deep down under the dirt.  I want the sky to fill up with wings, to carry us as gently as possible.

It's going to be one hell of a journey. And we are both up for one more grand adventure, one more house to help, one more barn to fill with life.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

My Thanksgiving prayer

Martyn and I have been together for almost 14 years. We met in our forties which was a good thing as I still had a lot to learn before I met him, and I imagine he had his own work to do too. What I find so beautiful about our relationship is it just grows stronger every year. Like any couple, we have rough spots and warts, but we always go to bed with a kiss-at least 99% of the time.

The other night we were having our usual wine by the fire and as we were talking about a particular subject, I had this epiphany-that I loved Martyn even more than the day before and each day I kept feeling more love, and that it was a much more mature love than when we met. Our skills as a couple have grown more fine tuned and our ability to work as a team is more polished. I got up and told him this as he started to make dinner, and I cried a little because it felt so strong inside of me, this sense of strong love.

When I wrote the book, Donkey Dream, it was about how I left Minneapolis with a broken heart after The West spoke to me, called me, pulled me to her. On my first day in my new house, I met Martyn. A year later, we married and a year after that we were pulled further west, to find Apifera. Or I found Apifera. Selfishly, I always thought my finding Apifera as my cosmic plan, that Martyn was living his own path with his landscaping business.  I thought of Apifera as a gift to me for my heart, art, and work with animals. It was my call to service, the perfect meshing of my soul to land and animal. And all of that is true.

But I now realize that Apifera became an ongoing grad school for us to learn and evolve as a couple. The farm created opportunities to partner in ways we might not have been able to in town. When my father died in 2008, it opened another space for our marriage. And when my mother died, then Martyn's father, more spaces were open to us as a team. Our dynamics shifted somehow because of those openings. It is not that our parents were bad for our marriage, but there were things I shared intimately with my mother I didn't with Martyn. I realized our relationship has grown so much on many levels, due to these new spaces. Intimacy, true intimacy, involves trust in the partner. After 12 years of marriage I recently shared some dark secrets of my past, that almost came to me out of the blue, incidences I didn't want to revisit. Martyn was moved, and sad to hear of these things, but it was a beautiful moment too, that after all that time, he was the one I told, and nobody else knows, or will know.

Apifera is very much about my relationships with the animals and land. My art and writing work will always be about relationship. But I have been reawakened of late that Apifera is also about my loving and evolving relationship with my best friend and husband, my Dirt Farmer, my ever most gentle hearted, Martyn.

My Thanksgiving prayer is one for me and Martyn, that we be able to stay with each other until the end in sickness and in health. A more realistic prayer might be that we stay together until the end, and if we can't, that we grow wings and harvest strength to endure what life gives us.

In which I show selfies with a pig are difficult

Friday, November 20, 2015

Sale item a day is happening!

I will be having one sale item a day for the next few weeks. As already posted, there will be no other art or book sales this year.

Here's how it works. I post an item on my Facebook Fan Page, you view it at the shop, buy it [first come-first served], and then I Paypal back the discount offered. If that doesn't sit well with you, I can simply invoice the sale amount electronically, you pay, I ship.

Today's sale item is a pastel sketch of our lovely Lucia, Pino's baby sister who seems to always be tiny. We have a nick name for her- Tea Cup– because her feet are so teeny and her body just always stayed like a little wee one. This drawing is framed and is originally $175 but today only is $125 plus $12.00 shipping.

Sale price only lasts the day it is posted. So watch for the daily items on the Facebook page.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The cat who thinks it is a lion at your service

In the vitriol spewing forth from the internet all this week-something I have consciously stayed out of- I give you a portrait of a lion, er, cat. This is Mack who is a Main Coon but truly believes he is a lion. I actually believe him. He lives in a NYC garden apartment and roars every morning to make sure the neighbors remember his strength. They do.

He seems to be popular, so I made his image available on the store, along with his roommate's, Lucy who believes the entire world exists within her city garden, which it does.

There are many other prints to choose from. My goal in the coming months is to focus on growing the animal portraits available for prints.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Another one of Apifera's first cats...is gone

Little Orange in the background,  naps with his companion, Plum.

I have to accept it, and probably did even four days ago when I noticed he was not at breakfast. Little Orange has returned to Nature. He was going on eleven.

I am sad about it-but also, I acknowledge the gift of having him for so long, and the gift I gave him, and his mates, and mother, of having such a long life as a semi feral. He was going on eleven, as is Plum, his constant companion of the last few years.

Little Orange was most likely the cutest kitten we had, well, there was Itty Bitty of course. But Orange captured every one's hearts with his teeniness. He was the final kitten to be trapped and neutered, and he wore his big boy pants proudly. Many of you know the story of the Apifera cats. When we moved here in 2004, almost on day one, a little orange fluff ball poked his head out of a hay bale. It was an orange tabby and he was part of a litter of five from the elusive Mama Kitty. I set out to trap the litter, and did, spayed and neutered them and as of this date, two are still with us, Hazel, who lives in the hay barn, and Mr. Plum, who now resides on the deck after he left the barn years ago with Mama Kitty and Orange. They lived and ate on the porch, and Mama Kitty actually died in one of the baskets not long ago-she never tendered up, but Plum and Orange did over time, at least for me. When guests came, they would disappear into their forests of Quince bushes and lilacs, perhaps showing their faces, but never tendering to strangers.

Little Orange was from the second litter that Mama had immediately after we first found that orange fluff ball [that fluff ball went on to be known as Gus and he lived a long life but disappeared a year ago, he was ten years old]. It took me two years to trap Mama and spay her, but I did, and she too lived to be over twelve.

I found Little Orange and his litter in the trash heap the former owners had left out behind the old barn. We were cleaning it up and out popped some kittens. One was Little Orange. All the others- Blackberry, Pumpkin Head, Teasel, and Fig are gone.

I am sad. He was a favorite. And it is hard to not put my human emotions onto Plum, who was with Orange most days, and they slept on the porch all wrapped up together. Plum is fine, he is big and healthy and has ample baskets to sleep in. Peaches now sleeps on the porch, but she just isn't into buddying up with anyone. I'm hoping she might. She has become less hissy around other cats, and I have been noticing she watches Plum while he eats, and doesn't run off. So maybe, in time, they will bond. Plum sits on the porch at night and we communicate through the window. We have all windows there, and it is almost like he is n the room with us.

I looked for his body, thinking he might have died in the bramble. But cats are independent that way. The coons often come to the porch to look for left over feed in the dish, but they respect the cats, and vice versa. I think he just died, and took himself to a place that was dry and out of trouble.

Good bye, Little Orange. I know you are okay wherever you are. I'm so glad I could help you live a long life. And to all those who helped with donations for all those cat spays/neuters in the early years, you helped too.