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

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©Katherine Dunn.

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Blue skies predicted

New year, new ideas, new art, new experiences. I love the new year. The week between Christmas and New Year's usually finds me cleaning the studio, reorganizing desks and sock drawers and shuffling things about. Preparing....it is a time of hope, always, for me. I am always relieved to see the actual holiday season over, as I would rather be working , and I would rather know other people are out there doing their prospective lives work. Life's to short to flutter around. If you are doing your life's work, the work is always full of flutter, I feel. We had a nice quiet Christmas, with a donkey walk to deliver lavender to neighbors. A nice day alone together. Quiet. Good meal, good wine.

While tonite is New Year's Eve, my favorite night to stay inside, last night we went to a lovely little get together at the nearby home of the people that bred Pino and still raise donkeys. It was good food, good conversation and just a nice time. It was really fun meeting some other couple, like minded in many ways, who live around here. Perhaps the best part of the night was reminiscing with the host and others about old concerts we had all been to in the late 60's and early 70's. I was only 10 in '68, but our friends were 17-20, and they had seen Jimi Hendrix live. I felt like bowing down on my knees. One woman had seen the Beatles, and she said they were tiny dots on the stage, and all around little girls were screaming and fainting, and the music could not be heard. We laughed about drugs and rock and roll. I am so glad I got to live in those times at the age I was.

We talked about generators, pump issues, difficulties of fencing for buffalo, the difference between goats and sheep, and how to get rid of mange and what to apply to a goats teats when they had been abrased by milking. There were cats looking in from the wrap around porch, sneaking in from time to time, a couple toddlers plodding around, laughter, twinkling lites, good smells, and intelligent, educated young adults who are just beginning their journeys in their lives. One young woman was studying acting in NYC and lived near my old Brooklyn neighborhood. She relayed how wonderful it is too live in NYC, and told me about her acting teacher and classes. She was full of spirit and optimism that made her beautiful. Some day she will attend a party and stand in slightly older mid life shoes. She will listen and look intently at the beautiful skin of the younger person who is talking, and be energized by her spirit, and she will think of herself many years earlier. She won't feel regretful, she will just make a mental note of it, "My, life is grand, but how did I get here so fast?"

It was one of those homes that when you are there, it invites you to come in, and invites you to stay a bit longer. Warm spirits reside there. I slept so peacefully last night.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

The dog knows

All week I had intended to write some kind of Christmas story with heartfelt messages of peace and kindness, but was busy with many things. Today I was able to free myself of the lavender orders, computer work and holiday details to give myself the freedom to just draw. I started out with the simple exercise of drawing a profile, and ended up with this , after covering the paper at least 5 times with black gesso. I like this drawing, and I am not sure why. I had a standard poodle when growing up, and my brother had a wonderful black standard for many years who I adored, but I certainly didn't sit down and think about them consciously today. After a couple hours, I rested with this one, and knew I was done covering it up once more with black gesso. I added the small piece of paper that says 'the dog knows', and hand sewed it onto the watercolor paper. What does the dog know? I don't know what it means. But I decided after looking at it over time today, that this piece was meant to be my Christmas story to you. I guess some time down the road I might know what the words to this story are, but for now, all you that read this blog can look at it and write your own Christmas meaning into the drawing.

On Christmas day, Martyn and I will take time to deliver some lavender bundles to nearby houses, via donkey. We walked them on Thanksgiving Day as a new tradition, and I thought Christmas is a wonderful day to take your donkey out to bring gifts to a few people. I have some bells I'll add to Pino's halter and red ribbon for Paco. We are going to prepare a leg of lamb from our own sheep, and serve it with vegetables and...something. My mother is sending me some of her home baked cookies so a little bit of my parents will be with me. I miss them.

Enjoy the story you tell yourself when you look at this drawing, and share it with others if you care to. And from all of us at Apifera, we hope you, your families and your animals can find peace in your own hearts so you can share it with all you encounter.

Monday, December 18, 2006

I'd like to thank the electricity

I feel almost torn about putting up a post, showing I have electricity again, while many in our area do not. The wind storm that came through last Thursday night was powerful, beautiful in ways, but deadly and serious. Most of Oregon and Washington were without power - and the national news is not reporting it, but many of the rural areas are still without it.

So, you get the candles out, and the storm is almost exciting at that point. The candles are pretty and it's a good excuse to sit and sip wine - which is what we did. Martyn cooked pasta by candlelight. But the wind gusts were scary. I feared for the barn roof and our windows getting broken. Going out the next day showed tree tops snapped at the top, signs bent in two and electric fencing strewn about pastures.

I had an appointment with the dogs at the vet, and they too were without power. Without lights, we got the dogs out by the window light and did all their shots and Huck was thrilled with the party like atmosphere. I decided I better get bags of ice for the freezer - I was not going to lose 2 lambs worth of meat. Every where I went I heard of trees in houses, near death escapes from falling trees and cars ruined. Barn roofs ripped off. I knew we would be without for some time, and once you resign yourself to that, you get on with it.

My laptop is a lemon and I've never replaced it, so I started panicking about not being able to pick up email and answer any online sales. But at some point, you just give up the struggle. At the same time we were without power, there were three climbers fighting for their lives on Mt. Hood, and my predicament seemed silly compared to theirs. We could still cook, the animals had ample water in their troughs from heavy rains, and we had the stove for heat. Martyn decided we should be relieving ourselves outside since our well doesn't work without power. I thought it was sort of silly, but agreed, and when I made my first trip out, Little Orange and Plum rushed to greet me as I did my business. I must say, doing your business under stars and crisp air, amongst a group of cats did make me feel like part of the group. By morning it was about 45 in the house. A tad nippy. The power came on about 10 am - we rushed around doing all the things you desperately missed, and now so appreciated. Warm water, the electric toothbrush, washing the dishes, coffee. I kept saying over and over, a little thank you. When we sat down to relax come nitefall, ready for some movies and wine, a nice dinner, out went the lights again. Crueler the second time! At that point, I allowed myself to actually believe I was the center of the universe and started whining, pretty much for the rest of the nite. I blamed it all on over population and deemed I would take the donkeys and go live somewhere else. I announced the power was gone forever, really forever, and decided I was better off in bed.

Without power, life does slow down to some extent. But it also makes one remember just how hard basic survival is in the world. Getting water, making it drinkable, staying warm, feeding yourself, family and pets. That's about it. But without power, that can often consume the day. As I was cleaning the barn in the dimness, I thought how the animals go on with the day and night like they always do, with or without power. Their day is clocked by sun and moon. Their day is always about being themselves without man made things - without whining. Like the baby owl near the barn at dusk.