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

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Friday, November 30, 2007

Homes Needed



Homes are needed for some of my beloved raggedy doll messes. Visit my Etsy shop to see these and two more cat raggedies. If you want that perfectly sewn doll, these will not work for you. But if you can look at imperfections as personality quirks, and a messy dresser as an independant thinker, these dolls will be your friends. All are filled with our own Apifera Farm lavender bud. While I can't compete with prices of some production sewers, I can tell you that the hours in each one were spent in that creative zone where the world disappears. The happiness I experience while making these is immersed in each doll - and you just can't put a price on happiness.

I will be doing more dolls as I have time. They bring me such joy to make. I really want to do a girl, her donkey and a basket of fresh pie - but I haven't figured out how to do the pie [filled with berries] in a way that won't take me all day.

Next week, I have BIG donkey news. And in case anyone is wondering, I do plan on getting back to painting next week.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Write a donkey, pass it on


I am gathering all things pie for Pino's Pies. I have big plans, and a full heart.

So, please write my donkey a letter, which I will in turn read to him. Tell us about your favorite pie memory, be it baking a pie, eating a pie, getting a pie, a pie gone wrong, your favorite pie shop - or anything pie.

Consider your act of writing this letter as not only a gift to me, but also a gift of peace. By writing about pie, you are taking 15 minutes or so out of your day, and writing about a peaceful, love filled thing - pie. In so doing, you are putting 15 minutes of peace into the world.

Ask your friends, children, classrooms, mothers, grandmothers, fathers and others to write Pino about pie. Spread the word. While Pino's Pies encourages people all over the world to make a pie and deliver it, it is also a wonderful gift to share the stories of pie. The pie gets made, then eaten. But the memories of the pie maker and eater live on, and bring comfort over the years in ways you may not know.

By taking time to write me and Pino, you are acting as an assistant pie ambassador. And your name will be added to the official list on the Donkey Dreams blog list.

Gifts from the hands


I recently read a blog advocating people not buy anything for a day or more.

I do not have a problem with people shopping, or buying - let's face it, I need buyers to survive as an artist. I guess I would just advocate that people stop and slow down, and make choices based on heart, versus what corporate marketers point out as trends that one must have to look right and feel better. There is so much of the same out there, not only in clothes, but in music, big box stores, cars, advertising, children's books. I can't tell the Kmart ads from Target anymore - all use red and the same feeling music. The masses seem to be walking around in the same post beatnik black/grey outfits and driving home to their houses with Ikea kitchens and Dwell furniture.

Not everyone wants a hand sewn raggedy doll, or a piece of art. That's ok. It's ok to buy a sweater, even one made from another country. But there is a choice, and the consumer does have power. But hearing people advocating not buying for a whole day makes the struggling artist and farmer feel lousy. Small business owners struggle.

So, even if you have a Dwell looking home, with post modern furniture, these raggedy wands will add an eclectic feel - your guests will wonder where you purchased them. And you can tell them you found them through a blog of an artist who lives with donkeys and wears aprons and rubber boots.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Write a donkey, pass it on


I am gathering all things pie for Pino's Pies . I have big plans, and a full heart.

So, please write my donkey a letter, which I will in turn read to him. Tell us about your favorite pie memory, be it baking a pie, eating a pie, getting a pie, a pie gone wrong, your favorite pie shop - or anything pie.

Consider your act of writing this letter as not only a gift to me, but also a gift of peace. By writing about pie, you are taking 15 minutes or so out of your day, and writing about a peaceful, love filled thing - pie. In so doing, you are putting 15 minutes of peace into the world.

Ask your friends, children, classrooms, mothers, grandmothers, fathers and others to write Pino about pie. Spread the word. While Pino's Pies encourages people all over the world to make a pie and deliver it, it is also a wonderful gift to share the stories of pie. The pie gets made, then eaten. But the memories of the pie maker and eater live on, and bring comfort over the years in ways you may not know.

By taking time to write me and Pino, you are acting as an assistant pie ambassador. And your name will be added to the official list on the Donkey Dreams blog list.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Home




The importance of having a home, a harbor attached to the shore, is exaggerated when leaving that home for a week. I am a hopeless homebody. Everything I might need in one day is usually right in front of me, or on the back 10. How fortunate for me. We took a week to visit family in Minneapolis, leaving our farm in the trusted care of an experienced farm person who stayed and cared for all the animals and house. The days of putting one or two dogs at the kennel and locking the door, and stopping the paper delivery seem so easy, are easy. The trip was worth the effort for many reasons, but landing back on Oregon ground, seeing the sights that have become my new home, were welcome.

The importance of leaving once in awhile is to remind me that I am not the creator of all of this. I am just a trusted steward. The animals do live without me. The fences stand up just as they did when I left. The fog was here to greet us. I used to think that if I focused hard enough while sitting in the plane as it took off - repeating over and over in my head and heart - "Please get us all their safely, please bring me home safely, all these people on this plane have friends, family, pets that need them - please get the plane off the ground" - I used to believe I actually mattered to the plane getting up off the ground. This may sound ridiculous and egotistical, but it was also a burden. Perhaps another beauty of leaving the over self absorbed younger adult years, is to understand one doesn't hold the power to get the plane off the ground, but when one arrives at the destination safely, one has the power to relish it, cherish it as a gift - then take that gift and do something powerful with it.

And so I returned home, full of that gift. And while the animals all survived just fine without me, there was a difference to their step as I greeted them for morning feedings. The donkeys walked closer to the gate to greet me rather than standing back at their barn door. Frankie waddled all the way in a mist to greet me even though she hates rain. I am convinced they missed me. But more important, the gift of travel allowed me to acknowledge how welcome their faces were for me, and my day.

Our farm sitter had cut fresh eucalyptus branches for our house, and had the fire going. This morning I was greeted with our first green egg from one of our young hens - her first, and our first green egg. I praised her profusely.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Small givings noticed or not



I have been working on improving the Donkey Dream blog. Please subscribe to it's feed if you are interested, as I will be adding more ideas through the holiday, and making plans for next summer's Pino Pie Days at the farm. And visit the store site for new things in the Donkey Art section.

I have one idea of making a rag doll and donating them to children's wards or elder care places. I also am interested in getting a group of international artist/ sewers who would each donate one or two handmade dolls - farm theme related - and then I could have a special Pino Giving Day. It's too late to do it for the holiday, but I'm a firm believer that the holiday is every day [in fact, I confess, I get a little cranky about Christmas at Halloween, and now adults have taken over Halloween - oh, don't get me going]...

Anyway, I was thinking about how I can get more people involved in the Donkey Dream blog, and get people to share their pie giving experiences. And then I realized, it is not important that people write me their experiences. What's important is that I go out and effect one person at a time, in my own way. By delivering a pie, or writing my stories, or helping one old person on my own. I do like sharing what I do, I like that about keeping a blog - it is a document for me. It is why I started my farm blog to begin with - so I would look back and enjoy the memories, see where we came from, how much we've done and learned.

I was reading a passage from an inspirational book on care giving by Maggie Davis , and a quote by Mother Theresa hit home. "I never take care of crowds, only of a person. If I stopped to look at crowds, I would never begin."

I guess that is how I feel about Pino's Pies. One pie at a time, a person is touched. I'm sure there are others doing one small thing at a time, quitely, without drawing attention to it in a blog. Once, about 15 years ago, my then boyfriend broke up with me, I was so down, immobilized by it. I was not a church goer, but took myself to hear the choir and be with people. I was looking for anything, something, to bring me comfort. I was getting over a cold, and had a coughing fit during the service. I tried so hard not to cough, and finally decided I must leave, so as not to disturb people. As I started to get up from the pew, the very elderly woman, sitting alone next to me, reached out and touched by hand. She had a throat lozenger for me, and I sat back down. I can not tell you how that tiny offering was so meaningful. I'm sure she had no idea. But it was 15 years ago, and I remember her kindness like it was yesterday.

That is what Thanksgiving is to me. Small givings, daily. You never know when you are that old woman handing out a throat lozenger.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Good Bye, Little Birtie



Birtie the chinchilla, was the smallest member of Apifera Farm, and we said goodbye to her today. She died as unexpectedly as she had arrived last winter. A neighbor had rescued her from a household of neglectful college students, and she figured I would take her in. Actually, she drove up the drive and put the cage at the doorstep - by the time I got the door open she was in her car, telling me I had to help this poor animal. I had recently buried Tucker, the other chinchilla I took in back in Minneapolis, and I was not looking to take on any more rodents.

The little creature came with no name, so I called her Filbert, or Birtie. She was very timid, and it took time to tender her up. I am not really an advocate of having pet rodents, especially a lone one, but they are sweet little creatures. I decided she had been through enough, so I kept her. Rodent or not, she needed a stable home.

Not long ago, Birtie developed a condition that I knew was not good, and it was obvious she was ill. It appeared to be related to kidneys, and there wasn't anything I could do medically. I knew she would die from it , but she was still eating, sporadically, and drinking. I kept her three decker condo near one of my drawing tables, so she had companionship while I worked. Last night when I returned from barn chores, I saw her body in an odd pose. She was dead but her body was still warm. She must have died when I was in the barn. I felt badly I wasn't there to hold her while she died, but she was not one that really liked being held, and perhaps having the normal sights and sounds of the studio was comfort enough.

I wrapped her in french linen, and made a little scarf of vintage cotton. The little red string was a toy she liked, and I placed 2 raisins at her feet, and a sprig of fresh lavender to sooth her soul. In dry weather, I'll paint her headstone properly. She rests next to Tucker.

Death is not bad. It's not morbid. It's just part of the project of being alive. The actual act of caring for the body is very important, I've learned.
Digging the little hole for her body, tending the grave, it's very important for me. It's not really about honoring the dead, for the fact they lived and meant something to someone is honorable enough. By carrying the body and burying it, it shows me what death is. It's OK. Death is safer than life, really.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Angst combatted by new thoughts


I did this piece recently and want to do a series of them, but maybe incorporate words as in a story. Not sure. Mulling. The computer issues I had all week put my head and heart in a mess. I do believe causing physical pain to people or animals must be avoided, but after 5 days of non cooperation from computer devices and online tech systems, I did what any thinking/feeling/soulful person does - I hit the device causing all the angst. It did no good. It won the battle. And now, it sure to get back at me in some form today. I am hoping it will all pass by Monday.

The end of the year always has me thinking of what I want to reshuffle. I'm mulling some changes to the online store, including changing the Donkey section to really include more donkey art of all kinds.I've added the nursery/children's section , which will include little items, along with pieces I create for both books and portfolio that are more child related.

And I added some holiday originals that were created originally for holiday card market. They will make fun home holiday decor.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Chicken Named Dog


Every morning there is a strict routine of farm feeding, perfected over months of tweeking the system. On the way to the main barn, I now open the front door of the hen and gentlemen's house, so that the chickens can be in their yard, but not the barn yet until I'm done with chores. This keeps my perfected routine from going haywire, like having the gentlemen eat all the cat food before the cats get a chance.

So it is with great pleasure I introduce you to Chicken Named Dog, the white chicken on the left. She is not the prettiest of the chickens, she is all white with some hints of grey. And standing next to this gentleman she looks plain indeed. But Chicken Named Dog as become a favorite of mine. She is named such because she follows slowly at my heels, like a loyal dog. She doesn't get pushy really, she just stays right there with me, but always at my heels. If you are walking around and you sense a presence, it is Chicken Named Dog. Chicken Named Dog is the first one out the door, and I greet her with her proper name, "Hello Chicken Named Dog!". She does not have a nickname. Nobody called Black Elk "Elk", or "Blackie", he was Black Elk.

The funny thing is, Martyn is convinced Chicken Named Dog is a gentleman. I am convinced otherwise. It would seem when living on a farm one should know ladies from gentlemen, but, not always I guess. Either way, this is Chicken Named Dog.

A little retreat


"I know I'm little, but I can't I leave for one day and night without you falling to pieces? " asked Little Orange as I went to do morning feedings. I picked him up and squeezed him into my face, rampant kisses pursued. Perhaps he had just had enough of being 'little' and needed to prove a point. Whatever the reason for his 24 hour retreat, I was relieved to see him tucked under his favorite wicker porch chair this morning. After being squeezed and kissed way too much, he looked at me as if to say, 'Can I just eat breakfast now?"

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Wordless


I have many thoughts, but few words to express them. This will pass, but I just have had an overall quiet blanket over my mouth and typing hands.

I am also quite worried that Little Orange has gone missing. He never misses breakfast. Last night we heard a scuffle near the porch. Perhaps he's still hiding, but his compadrés are all here and he's not. I think having the once feral, now sort of feral, creatures is hardest on my heart. I can't protect my farm from a bomb, I can't predict a fire; but I can put my sheep in at night, and the dogs in and the chickens in, and the horse and donks are safe in gated pastures. But I can't protect the ferals. I really can't protect anything from anything. It makes me feel like this painting.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Proper perspectives on life


When I'm hugging the donkey, this is what I see.

What as age brought me, now nearly 50 years of living? That a day is like a wave. It has a rhythm of its own. You can't control the rhythm, but you can ride it out. When riding out any day, a donkey hug helps. There are really no good and bad days, there are days. There is just life to go along with.