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

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©Katherine Dunn.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Reminders of firsts

Watching Lucia quitely ponder her first snow flakes reminded me to stop and remember the thrill of the first snow. Growing up in Minnesota, we almost always had snowy winters. Winter isn't really winter to me here in Oregon, even though there is a season change. So a breif snow day is magical.

The fact that a liquid up in the sky turns into white flakes - how can one be so jaded not to stop, stand, and admire the snow? It lightens my heart.

I'm glad snow is white. Imagine if it were blue, it would be fabulous, but white goes with everything, and gives everything contrast.

If my posts seem heavy, dulled, it is because I am manically painting the kitchen. We have lived in a torn up kitchen for 3 years, and have finally reached a 'light at the end of the tunnel'. Other jobs were more important when we moved in - the place was a mess, outdated wiring, no furnace, bad fences and more. I feel like this year we turned a corner on the 2 biggest jobs - irrigation and the kitchen. Still so much to do, but an organized kitchen is my yearning, and it's coming to fruition. It's off white beadboard and butter yellow cupboards and plank floor. It screams out for pie baking. Once again, the merits of a handy husband are everywhere. Martyn is doing it all.

And as I paint another cupboard, I prepare mentally for 2008. What will happen this year? What characters will I encounter, or lose? I dream of art directors connecting with my work, illustration jobs, a publisher for Pino, and a new voice for our country. I have so much to paint.

Again - thank you so much to all my readers who write comments, and emails, and cards. I usually don't respond in teh comment section - it takes to long with a land line - but I appreciate your thoughts.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Peace Please

We awoke to my wish - snow flakes. My other global wish will take much more from many people working together. Meanwhile, the flock is at peace, as are all the animals in the barn. Martyn and I are warm, working inside, the cookies are baking. Pinot Noir tonight, with some of our farm raised lamb meat, sitting in front of the fire with Huck at our feet, Billy on my lap, a blanket, and Martyn in his rocking chair with Big Tony on his lap.

Thank you too to all the cards Pino fans have sent this week - it's heart warming.

I'm full up.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Littles are Happy

The dreary rains have made it necessary to pull out all techniques of fighting the blues...my arsenal includes: lots of fruit, run on the treadmill, keep drawing, donkey-Martyn-pug-Huck-horse hugs and......COOKIES.

I was a self entertaining unit while baking with my new mini donkey cookie cutter from my German artist friend . What better way to give Lucia her first important job on the farm - spreading cheer with cookies. I had way too much fun baking them, but packaging them up with the "Little Lucias" pink label and adorning them in pink cotton rags, well, I was completely happy throughout the whole experience.

The back label points out the farm fresh local butter used, as well as Apifera eggs.
Who knows where the sugar was from - I do buy King Aurthur flour. Testing of cookies was completed by Pino Blangiforti, and Paco Giovannetti gave final approval.

It was almost as much fun sneaking up to my friend's house and tip toeing up to the front porch and hanging the package on the door. A difficult task when the family dog wanted loving, and the barn cat too...

I did have a raw dough hangover for a day. I confess to adoring raw dough. When I was little, my much wiser and very grounded brother would warn me I was going to die someday from raw dough or kissing dogs. So far I'm still here.

More ongoing...

Another installment of the ongoing "He Was" series has been posted on the portfolio site...

Friday, December 14, 2007

Honor the Light

Yesterday was St. Lucia Day, the Festival of Light. I was inspired to do this piece to honor the celebration, after visiting Bibbi Forsman's blog [an incredible ceramic artist!]. . It has been [many] years since I was in Sweden - I'm not even sure Abba was around yet, but her blog reminded me of the charm of her country, as well as all of Scandinavia. I can only imagine the charm of the holidays there, for even in June, Copenhagen and Stockholm felt like a fairyland to me.

Lucia is an ancient mythical figure with an abiding role as a bearer of light in the dark Swedish winters. According to one Swedish website: In the old almanac, Lucia Night was the longest of the year. It was a dangerous night when supernatural beings were abroad and all animals could speak. By morning, the livestock needed extra feed. People, too, needed extra nourishment and were urged to eat seven or nine hearty breakfasts. This kind of feasting presaged the Christmas fast, which began on Lucia Day.

In today's Sweden, people dress in white gowns and wear crowns of light [which used to be candles]. I guess there are many traditional songs honoring Saint Lucia, and the Lucias serve glögg or coffee, along with these little crossed buns. If I've my facts wrong, maybe a Lucia expert can enlighten me, please.

Next year, I hope to remember this tradition, and I'll have a festival with our own Lucia. "Light" is a worthy thing to honor.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Ongoing Process

I have begun a new personal series called "Once He". . I began with one original painting, and then created a new painting over top that original, scanned it, and then repainted another piece over that original. In the end, there will be no originals, only scans which I might turn into gicleés and then promote the whole series as an exhibit somewhere down the road, maybe.

The series depicts my personal processing of someone’s life, and death.

A memory or life does not have an ‘original’ to hold in one’s hand, the memory of a life is made from a past series of moments. These pieces also had a moment, a life, and then were painted over to create another. I destroyed one life to get another. The originals were only for me to have. Nobody in the whole world saw the original but me. No one can take that memory of that original from me.

I will post new series pieces as I do them in the "Once He" section of the main art site.

Gifts for Pino from Germany!

What does it mean when the donkey gets more mail than the human? Pino Blangiforti received a holiday gift that filled us up all day with love and joy - and I'm sure it will continue. One of our Pie Ambassadors is Friederike! from Germany, and she sent Pino this wonderful package, full of hand-madeness, as well as a cookie recipe and cookie cutters. And it is his first mail that had to go through customs!

Not just any cookie cutters were in the gift - but a sheep, and a DONKEY! How did she know I was unable to find a donkey cookie cutter? Ah, and it is a nice small cutter, so the baker of these future cookies will only gain, say 10 pounds instead of 20.

The original doll is created by Friederike's! human companion and artist, Sandra Monat , and I've written of her before. This Viking angel will watch over the flock and herd, as well as our whole farm. Visit her site to see her magical creations - a word of warning - unlike my raggedy dolls, this person actually knows how to sew.

Thank you, Blue Sheep, from Pino and me. You made our day and week so much more lovely!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Under deep

Sometimes I get overwhelmed with how deeply intertwined my art is with my sub-conscious. You paint something and it comes true - or I should say, it is already true. My sub conscious just knows things way before my conscious braid does. This spread is from the mock-up of my children’s book about Pino. At one point in our walk home with Lucia, I said, “Look, there’s the valley,” I had my arm around Lucia and braids in my hair. Sometimes the revelations of one's art to the maker are not earth shattering revelations that will change the world. But it reminds me there are many wisdoms within my sub conscious, waiting for me to sit down and recognize them.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

And then there were three

Last Spring, I took care of my nearby farm friend's donkeys while she was away, including a little 2 month old lady named Lucia. She is daughter to Gabriella and Angelo, the same mother and father of our Pino Blangiforti. To be honest, I probably immediately started devising a Lucy Ricardo scheme on how I could sneak her home someday. Well, my friend is reducing her herd [and I will be posting some pictures of the jennies she has for sale later this month], and there was no question, I must have Lucia to finish off my little herd. There was no immediate reason to get a third donkey, but no hard driving reason not to get a third donkey. Like I said, I did my best Lucy Ricardo scheming and pretty much had Martyn on the same page within a day. He's a smart man, he knows how to keep a happy household - let the lady of the house be in charge of livestock and animal purchases and sales.

So today, little Lucia took her first journey outside of her birth farm. My friend and I, accompanied by her ever lovely Fiona the Bull Mastiff, walked the 2.5 miles from her farm to ours. Everything was new to her, the sound of the water in the streams and culverts, cars on the gravel, new sounds everywhere, and smells.

She did so well, and as we neared our farm,, she met Rudy, the gelding that lives across the road from us. Rudy lives alone, is never ridden, and he took such a shine to Lucia. I will have to walk her down there often. She let out a little bray for him!

Up the road we went, and I yelled out to everyone, "I told you I was bringing home something special! Lucia is here". The goats and rams gathered on their hill and watched as we walked up the road. She saw chickens for the first time, and then we let her free with Paco and Pino. Paco did his usual grumpy bossy stuff, but Pino was pretty calm. I'm sure he could smell his mother. I spent the day sitting in one of our grass paddocks with Lucia, and later let the boys in. Lucia is no push over, and after some kicks, things calmed down. I did put her in her own stall tonite, she's too little to be out all nite. She has a special window made for her tiny size so she can reach out to the other donks.

So, please be patient with me and the onslaught of Lucia pictures and art that will most likely come from this purchase. She is very symbolic of many things for me right now, something I will try to put into words later.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

New Pie Ambassador Discovered!

When you get envelopes like this in the mail, your day just gets happier, better than the good it was before you opened the box. Kiran of Portland is now an Official Pie Ambassador, and the art that came with her envelope made me even happier. Her mother kindly wrote a wonderful story about baking their pie, which Pino patiently listened too, as did Paco. [Paco, by the way is grumpy, and is quite content just having pickle duty in summer.] Read more and see Kiran's art over at Donkey Dreams.

Kiran Pronounced New Pie Ambassador!

We have a new pie ambassador, who chose to draw a picture of pie to express her inner most feelings of the subject. I am not one to dissect others art, and always say, if you can put it in words why the need to paint it. I just I was so HAPPY to open the mail box and find this envelope. When I opened it, I felt even happier. As if the drawing were not delight enough, Kiran's mother wrote a long, wonderful story about making a squash pie for our Pino Pie mission. You can read the entire story, - she writes! - but let me highlight what I think is most rewarding to read from her letter:

..."But I knew I needed to make a pie, and it didn’t need to be perfect to make someone happy. After all, as you are teaching us, the beauty of a pie lies in the eyes- and the stomach- of its beholder. Pies are made to be passed on. And so now the difficult question, with whom to share this wonderful new and unusual delight? There are so many deserving, yet only one available (I did make two, but we ate one). But given this success, I doubt this will be my last pie of the season. In fact, this might just be the beginning of a new pie challenge in my life- taking the unconventional, and making it pie. And for that, I have you to thank, dear Pino."

And what's great, the experience of Pino's inspired her to make cupcakes and give them to someone! This is how it works, people! One pie at a time, one donkey at a time, one Kiran at a time.

We thank you, Kiran,and Miss Salmon Poetry Lisa, you will be receiving your official Pino Pie buttons soon.


I was commissioned to do a painting of Neil Young for a person's husband. I put on "Live at a Massey Hall" and jumped on the treadmill at the end of the day. My treadmill looks out of all glass doors, so at night I can see my reflection when I walk on it. The first song came on, and the words grabbed my throat and pushed them into my belly. It was clearly a letter for someone I know, someone far away in body, but who is at the top layer of my heart right now. Someone who is suffering, and I can't get words out of me. I can't. My reflection in the glass showed a woman who is halfway through a life, not a child anymore. Soon, I will be nobody's daughter.

When the dream came
I held my breath
with my eyes closed
I went insane,
Like a smoke ring day
When the wind blows
Now I won't be back
till later on
If I do come back at all
But you know me,
and I miss you now.

In a strange game
I saw myself as you knew me
When the change came,
And you had a
Chance to see through me
Though the other side
is just the same
You can tell
my dream is real
Because I love you,
can you see me now.

Though we rush ahead
to save our time
We are only what we feel
And I love you,
can you feel it now.
© N.Young

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

And the ram got wet

Thank you to everyone who emailed to see how we made it through the wild weather. We fared much better than most, never lost our power and had minor inconvenient damage. My heart goes out to those who had serious flood damage. Some lost everything. Some are not able to business yet. Each hour we had power I just gave a 'thanks' to the upper realms.

The power of water is the message of the week for me - or the power of the elements working together, or against each other. Man makes pithy items like houses, fences, bridges and these are no matches when the elements collide. As much as I love wind, I am terrified every time we have a wind storm. My imagination, which is always in overdrive, imagines all sorts of way I or Martyn can die in the wind - a piece of the 4'x8' metal barn roofing can fly down and slit my throat - people, this happens, who am I to think I am immune.

After the storm settled on Tuesday, the sun came out, it was 60 degrees and just heaven. The sound of the roaring Yamhill River was deafening as were all the small streams on our properties that were now more like rivers. I was going to take a 15 minute gander down the road to spy on damage, when I immediately saw that part of the fence in the goat/ram area was down, pushed over by enormous weight of water. I managed to get there without being electrocuted by the downed wire fence, and immediately felt my boot fill up with cold water.

At the same time, Joe Pye Weed was on to me, and decided to jump in the same area to, well, to basically knock me over. I was greatly amused when the water went up to his mid belly, and he abandoned his farm girl battering idea. I spent the next two hours struggling to get the fence up. But the sound of the water, the smell of spring in December - was nice. Especially mingled with the wet hair of a ram.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Poem for Pino

Pino recieved this wonderful message from a new fan, and he cherishes poetry. I love knowing moms are out there singing little songs and poems to their children. And passing them on to donkeys! Cheers to Rose!


i sing this song to my kids, but i'll put your name where i put theirs:

pino pie
pino pie
if i don't get some
i think i'm going to cry!
take away the green grass
take away the sky
but don't take away
my pino pie.


Wind in the Dolls

They've been talking all week about the big storm coming, and it is now firmly under way. Winds of up to 100 mph are predicted for the coast and our valley winds could make 70 mph. I'm hoping I don't fly away, but if I do I hope I have a donkey or maybe Boone at my side for warmth. I'm keeping my fingers crossed the power and phones stay on. We sat by the fire last night listening to the torrents of rain, dogs and cat warm at our feet. Being inside in a storm, makes one feel graced.

Going out to do barn chores in the wind gusts this morning was special too. There's always sort of this anticipation in a wind storm. I don't take them lightly after making it though a straight line wind storm in Minnesota. Out here, the barn roofs flap and the barn itself makes the most peculiar sounds. The pouring rains pound the tin roofs, animals all inside, soaked, their bodies letting off steam. It feels safe in the barn, especially on a rainy day. I spent time buckling down the hatches, and giving extra hay to everyone. The chickens are miserable and I'm low on feed. I was almost lost in 4 tons of hay bales, as I climbed to the top, about 15 feet up, and put my foot in a crevice. Safely back down on the ground, I slipped in mud but Hazel the barn cat was there to greet me. Even the ewes, always up for stormy weather, have stayed in the barn most of the day.

As I quickly made a new trench in Boone's pasture to help keep as much water away from his dry area as possible, I was struck with the fact that I get to do things almost all day that I got to do as a child. I was making a little river in mud, and creating little channels to alleviate the gutter runoff- it was just like making streams and dams as a child...And I climbed on hay bales - up on top, it felt like a tree house. I came inside and made more raggedy dolls , like this Grandmother Mouse, and the Funny Looking Donkey. Working without a pattern or plan, just free form, just like the messes I made as a young girl.

Here comes another wave of downpours. I can smell soup cooking in the kitchen.

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


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


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.

Friday, October 26, 2007

A dog named Lump

I have been thinking about Picasso a lot for some reason, and was drawn to a book by his good friend, and world renown photographer, David Duncan Douglas. "Picasso and Lump: A Dachshund's Odyssey". Lump the Dachshund belonged to Mr. Douglas, and would accompany him on visits to Picasso's. From the first meeting [documented in the book], Lump and Picasso formed a comfortable union, and Lump basically stayed on there while Mr. Douglas traveled for his assignments. Lump had the run of Picasso's house, also inhabited by a boxer called Yan and a goat, Esmeralda. Picasso owned many dogs in his life, but it is only Lump that he held, often like a baby we are told. While he preferred to work totally alone in his studio, only Lump was allowed in, and the dog appears in 15 of the 44 "Meninas" studies of this era [1957]. Picasso once exclaimed, "Lump is not a dog, he's not a little man, he's somebody else." I responded to that, and it speaks of a couple dogs I've known, and definitely Pino.

At some point, Lump became sick, suffering from a spinal condition prone to his breed, and Picasso put him in a vet clinic in Cannes. When that vet could not help Lump, Mr. Douglas retrieved him and took him to Germany to his old vet for more help. Lump stayed there in the care of this trusted vet for some time, but the dog could not be cured, and eventually, Mr. Douglas took him back to his own home where he lived out his life. Lump was never able to visit Picasso again due to his condition. In April of 1973, Mr. Douglas lost two dear friends. Lump died one week before Picasso.

Butternut Empire

Remember spring, the weather begins to warm, thoughts of vegetables dance in your head, you rush to buy seeds and you set out to create your vegetable empire. Only this year, you will do it all correctly, you will not rush and try to get too much planted at once - that only leads to messy rows, mixed up plant tags and sore backs.

No, this year, you will have a real plan, even if it's in your head, or scribbled on the back of a seed bag.I thought this year I had planted just the right amount of butternut. But like the last three years, I forgot one important thing - I plant them in 'the gold mine' as we call it. A huge hill of compost created from years of the former owner's horse manure, and now mixed with our horse's, and swirled in with the best fertilizer you can get - sheep poop - and the occasional donkey-goat mix. The man who eats at Apifera truly gets a taste of the farm.

And in true Apifera fashion, I first gathered the squash in piles at the gold mine. Days later, hauled them to the house. Days after that, arranged them to create a Big Tony pathway so he can sit outside out of the rain. And now days later, or has it been weeks, I dragged tarps down to cover them at night should we get a frost. Eventually, I will drag them down to the cellar, and try to create order there.

Rome was not built in a day.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Another man reawakens

Last Wednesday, BW ["Black White"]bravely and calmly allowed me to put him in a cat carrier and take him into his "re-awakening", as I call them, so as not to alarm the kitty he is about to lose his manly gems. I had spent about three weeks slowly tendering up this stray that came upon our farm, a big beauty,and he warmed up pretty fast, obviously starved for attention. Within two weeks I had him accustomed to the front porch tribe versus the barn cats, the latter being a much tougher bunch. He then began sleeping on a comforter I put on the deck for him. I trained him to eat in the crate, and that morning, there was no trauma. After 20 trappings of strays, this was a relief, for both woman and cat. He had a couple bad wounds I'd been trying to doctor, but the vet was able to really clean them well, and treat his ear mites. He really is such a loving cat, he adores being held, much more than many of the tribe. Big Tony has somewhat adjusted to him being on the porch. I have soothed Big Tony's heart and ego by confirming to him that no one takes over his throne and title as king. So thanks to all who participated in the BW raffle - the art was sent to someone in NYC who is going to share a lot of it with people.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Neil messages

Anyone who knows me well knows that I have been a Neil Young follower since I was about 12 years old. I was in 8th grade when I bought "After the Goldrush" and it remains a album that resonates insights I always need to hear - even though the insights can be different as I age and evolve. I have never had some kind of rock star crush on Neil Young, rather, it is master guide-pupil relationship. I usually have about 2 dreams a year in which Neil Young appears, rarely speaks, but the lesson I take away from the dream is one that I just wasn't getting on the world plane, so Neil the guide comes in and offers some gem in a metaphorical way, and I have a lite bulb moment. I still paint NEIL on my jeans - to remind me to follow my muse, don't be afraid if you don't fit one genre, or if I get afraid of fitting in [which I do all the time] I just think of Neil, and his steadfastness to dance his own tune, even when the record producers were telling him something different.

Recently, I purchased Neil tickets for the Minneapolis concert in November, as we were going to take a trip to see my family. Plans had to be changed, and I had to sell my beloved Neil tickets. I've seen him so many times it's not the end of the word, but perhaps painting a quick, simple piece of him was my consolation to myself. So first I painted him as about a 30 year old Neil, and then I started to do a portrait of him as 60 year old Neil. As I worked on the latter, it became clear quite quickly that the face was not that of Neil's, it was my father as a much younger man. My father is in his mid eighties, and is not doing well. I knew that Neil had a message for me today. I won't disclose it here. But I did this portrait of my father. He was ana rchitect well into his late 70's, and he he loved good fabrics and wore nice hats and ties. I love his ties. I can still remember some of the ties he wore whhen I was young. It's funny how an object can hold so much memory, it can hold a life and bring it back.

Monday, October 15, 2007

When things go grumpy

Have you ever met a grumpier cow? I spent the day drawing, and everything was grumpy looking. I started with some ideas I wanted to explore with drawing people, they looked horribly horrible. My energy was all messed up and sometimes you can draw or paint your way out of it, but I think today it is just a grumpy day and everything will remain grumpy until tomorrow morning. I feel so badly for this beautiful cow, who really isn't grumpy in real life, I just allowed myself into his sweet persona. Sorry, Cow. I will bake a pie for you and we can share it, when I'm not so grumpy. No body wants grumpy pie. Energy is transferable, you know, so I will cover my head with a bag and hope that my grumpiness does not spread.

In the meantime, my grumpiness was lifted from me for a few seconds when I found out that I sold this painting , one I have always loved.

I hope this post doesn't make you grumpy, but sometimes my faithful readers think I am always sweet and content, like a fairy in the brook. Not so! Even those of us blessed with so much love, companionship get grumpy, even when you live with Pino Blangiforti and your dog does happy dances.

I'll be better tomorrow.

One small victory for the environment

This is the day many are writing on their blogs about the same topic - the environment. As you can see above, I am grumpy today. But I would be remiss not to write something, although I think my work and canvases speak for themselves about the environment.

However, I will announce that we found out this weekend that the sub development plans up the hill have been squashed, as the land use Board of Appeals [otherwise known as LUBA] reversed the County Commissioners absolutely inappropriate, ill thought out and not very well explained approval a year ago. Sadly, it took a lawyer and $9,000 or so to prove it; this is not the place for the legal ramblings of the case, but it is a clear victory for land use advocates, and the neighbors and we are pleased and relieved. Martyn and I had are names on the appeal, and neighbors helped donate money along with a local land use advocate group. There is still much to do [and money to raise], and fight for. I urge all voters in Oregon to vote YES for Measure 49 , if you care about water, air, plants, nurseries, vineyards, farms, and forests - and countryside lacking sprawl and billboards. It is what makes Oregon unique. I came from a state without land use planning and if there is an inch of ground, and given the chance, it will be developed for one reason - money.

Martyn and I also had our application approved and finalized and we are enrolled in the CREPS program. By doing so, we will be planting 400 or more native species of trees on our riverfront within the next year, helping to create shade and improve the health of the river and the fish and wildlife that must survive there.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Pie Love: Share a pie

While each day of the year is ripe for the opportunity to share of yourself, the upcoming season can be particularly painful and lonely for many people of all ages. Nor should we assume that just because someone drives a nice car and has a nice income that they do not suffer from loneliness, or pain, or fears. I think some of you have mentioned things like, "I just have never made a crust...' or "I'm not sure I can just show up unannounced with a pie...". Just...take...the...step...

If you feel silly delivering a pie to a neighbor you've never met, try taking one to someone you know. Tell them you are stopping over with something you found you just have to give them. They get a pie made of love, you get to give it and receive the energy beaming back from their face and voice when they say, "You made me a pie?!"

For starters, baking a pie crust really isn't hard, and the messier ones are often the best. If you like the home made pie idea, but feel intimidated by the crust, for heaven's sakes, don't fret. Just buy one of those pre-made ones. No, it's not quite the same, but it might get you over the hump. For all my pie baking friends and gurus, I am not promoting those plastic tasting crusts [I have used them in a rush myself]but if it gets you on your way to being a pie ambassador, great.

And if you have children, teach them early to bake a pie, a skill that really should be required to graduate from grade school. I was lucky to be raised in a home that valued home made food and baked items. I cans till remember the first pie I made. It was pretty horrible. Banana cream pie, very runny, chalky crust...Ah well, I was only 8 or so. But, I still remember it. Do you still remember your first store bought cookie?

Good deed doers certainly do not have to write blogs or announce to the world, "Hey, I baked a pie and gave it to a stranger today, I'm a good deed doer." But Pino and I like to hear from people making pies.

Sometimes Life Begets Nuts

Yes, that really is a tree, our beloved walnut that sits in the front of the house, in view from one of my studio windows. That tiny man is the master steward of Apifera, gracefully gathering our walnut harvest. We now have millions, it seems, walnuts drying everywhere in the house, including the oven dryer. Someday, we keep saying, we will build drying racks for the barn...In the meantime, we have been entertaining ourselves with a plethora of nutty quotes. Upon going to bed, we make squirrel sounds and say, "I'm ready for winter!"... In the morning, after turning the drying nuts on their racks, I say, "Are your nuts dry yet?"..."What are you doing today?...Nut'in honey"...and "I'm livin' in nut house"...It goes on and on.

Nuts, I gotta go...