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

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©Katherine Dunn.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Light-for all of us

Never fear shadows. They simply mean there's a light shining somewhere nearby. ~Ruth E. Renkel

For this upcoming year, one that will be full of challenges and many changes, I am going to always look for light. May you find it too.

Thank you to everyone who follows along here and supports my art and writing.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Parting is sweet sorrow, dear Professor

As Professor lay dying, Cornelia the piglet acknowledges his presence.

I had to say good bye to a dear friend. The little goat that arrived without a name accompanying Aunt Bea and was soon crowned Professor Otis Littleberry passed on. He had begun to lose weight a few months ago, and blood work showed nothing significant, but he was also exhibiting some neurological issues of late. I knew about a weak ago he would not be with his much longer, as he was becoming weaker, and if pushed at feedings-always by Raggedy Man-he would fall, but could still get up. Until yesterday morning when I found him cast, but I righted him and he did eat and drink. But by afternoon chores, he was down again, and very listless, and he could not stand. He had lost so much weight, even though he was getting more than ample feed.

I came down with a serious chest cold on Saturday night and had a raging fever. Having had walking pneumonia twice in my life-from neglect-I knew hanging out too long in the chilly barn was an open invitation to it. My goal was to get Professor settled into a spot where he could let go, unencumbered by inquisitive Misfits. I held him for a long time though and talked to him about his journey. He struggled a couple times, but then his eyes would close. I decided to move him into the healing ward, where Cornelia and the three sheep were, and I made him a straw bed. I sat with him , his head on my lap and he was pretty out of it. I wished he'd die with me there, but it usually doesn't go that way. Cornelia was very interested him. This is the last photo I took of him and her, in the grainy light of the nighttime barn.

I had a beautiful encounter with Daisy though She is our eldest matriarch sheep, and I had moved her and her daughter Lilly who is also getting up there, into the stall to keep the broken legged Opal company, and to keep weight on them in the winter since they are gummers and arthritic. Daisy is one of my favorites and usually acknowledges me, and she walked over to me as I sat with Professor. It was more unusual though, because she left her fresh hay to do it. I scratched her a bit on her first approach, but when I stopped, she would come closer until she was right in front of me, staring into my eyes.

It made me cry.

Everything right now is significant, and it all ties into our eventual move to Maine. While I assumed Daisy was just coming over to acknowledge this other creature in her area, her presence felt like it was a personal communion with me. And I felt it wasn't so much her saying,

I can tell you are upset about saying good bye to Professor-

as it was her telling me she wanted to go to Maine.

I just didn't think you would want to go with us, Daisy. You are old and arthritic and I thought you and the sheep would do better here or with another good farm.

I had never considered Daisy might want to come to Maine. Maybe I misread her, but I will remain open to her future discussions.

I was getting colder. And Cornelia, who is now back to her true form after being ill this month, was very interested in Professor, to the point I was afraid she might start nibbling on him. Pigs are carnivores, lets remember. I feared if he died in the night, she might start eating him. It happens, usually if a pig is really hungry and Cornelia is well fed, but I didn't want to risk it.

So I carried him one more time to the hay barn, and covered him in blankets and straw. Scooby Keith and the Head Troll sleep there too so he would not be alone. I stayed with him another 30 minutes or so. He struggled once and I let him sit up, but he was so weak he just lay down again. I kept telling him it was time, time to let go.

I stood outside the hay room, looking in at him for another 10 minutes, to make sure he was settled and still, which he was. There was no point to keep going to him, it only revived him slightly, and it was his time to let go. He died sometime in the night.

I will have to wait to bury him until tomorrow. I am still weak, it's raining and cold, and my sciatic nerve roared into pain this morning, I suppose from lifting him up and down yesterday. The cool temps will hold his body until I can prepare his grave. It is not comfortable knowing he isn't buried, but I have to take care of myself.

With each goodbye, it is a goodbye to the original Apifera, and to the original dream. That dream is evolving now, and while I have bittersweet days here now, I know that there are reasons for all of this. It would be less hardship to have everything happen overnight, and get on to the fun part of being in Maine and planning our new life there. But there are lessons I must have now, that is the universe's way. We don't pick our timelines for spiritual growth and understanding. One of the lessons I've been given is understanding I need to tweak my life with animals so I have more space for me-and people- in it. I need less animals, and I do not need to take on every elderly crippled goat that comes along. I have loved doing it. And I will always help animals and have them in my barnyard-Misfits of all kinds. But it's okay for me to admit I am stretched emotionally, and financially, caring for this many creatures that arrive in bad shape-that will change.

So Professor won't make it to Maine. But it was his time. I'm excited to have my Misfits entwine with elderly people. It has always been my goal, but I couldn't get it off the ground here.

I will leave you with some images of Professor in healthier times. I will miss this little chap, he was pure politeness in a goat body.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Snow on us

We got an unexpected snow this morning and it continued to linger even as dusk fell. It's beautiful. I grew up with snow in the winter, and went to college in upstate NY so I have snow in my blood. As much as I like always having a [sort of] perpetual spring, I find the blanket of snow a wonderful invitation to hunker down in creative and spiritual projects.

The White Dogs relish the snow, I know the climate of Maine will suit them well. Benne was sitting out in it most of the day. Earnest seemed to take it in stride.

I continue to go on here like I always have, but I do have one foot in Maine's pond, for sure. It is impossible not to-at least for me. Like any project I can't wait to begin, I have percolations of our new adventure. When I looked up at the snow dusted hills today, I thought,

Just like Maine will be.

Perhaps the farm here is giving me gentle pats on the back, showing me how much this farm will pop into our minds when we are there, and while here, we will rejoice in our current footing but anticipate the upcoming adventure.

Friday, December 25, 2015

A release from expectation

A wise woman relayed her Christmas wish today for all her friends, that we all have,

"a release from expectation, and a walk with expectancy".

Those words could not be more perfect for me to read. We went for a Christmas morning walk up on Muddy Hill with the dogs. Greetings were all around from the old Oaks and moss to the water in the stream, poking me with-

Look, here we are, we are still here and you are still here so let's live in wonder of each other until the time comes when you must part for Maine.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

The gift

Much has been written in the past days about the true meaning of Christmas. Many on social media profess we must keep the Christ in Christmas. I am not a Christian although I believe in the power of story as a learning tool and Jesus certainly had powerful stories and was a wonderful teacher. But as far as keeping him in Christmas, that is up to each individual. Christmas for me is about sharing, in the way you are most comfortable. If that means breaking bread, or giving toys or sweaters or cards, that is your Christmas. But for me it is just one day of sharing-it would be hollow to me if I wasn't following that golden rule on a daily basis.

I was blessed with wonderful Christmases as a child and into my adult years. My parents loved the holiday and always went way overboard with gifts, but it was all wonderful. There was a time though, in my early forties as I recall, when I began to yearn for more out of Christmas and I began recreating certain rituals for myself. We were not raised as church goers which actually was a blessing and a curse-I think it might have helped me in my twenties to have some foundation of spiritual lessons but it also allowed me to research and learn what following I wanted without shame.

But I have one special gift every day-Martyn. As long as I can hear him breathing when I wake up, it is a gift. When I see his headlights at the bottom of the drive and know he has made it home safely after an hour drive, it is a gift. I truly mean it when I say this-when I wake up, I thank God he is here, and I know that if he was taken from me for any reason-now that would be hardship. So when I acknowledge his presence each morning, and night, it puts perspective on any other hardship I might have that day.

We are starting to see friend's loved ones taken from them. Some have been young and knocked down by cancer or heart attacks; some young at heart but taken ill suddenly in their later years to something they can't fight, leaving behind a life long mate. Every time it happens, I empathize with the survivor, but selfishly I admit I think of what I will do to get through that moment when Martyn is taken from this life. I don't dwell on it. But, it's there and it makes daily moments invaluable.

So tonight we'll toast another day together. I have some things I'd like to happen in my life and would consider them huge gifts-the property to sell to a good person, a swift move for us, more art sales since it has been so horribly slow this forth quarter-but at the end of the day, and the beginning, there is this one gift presented to me that I acknowledge-Martyn.

We have an understanding that if he is to be later than 7:30 pm he will call and tell me because the roads he drives home on are curvy and rural-and dark. There have been many occasions in our years together where he is a bit late, and my worry takes over,

What if he is hurt, what if he isn't coming home tonight?

And then the dogs bark, sensing something I can't see yet. Headlights shine on the gravel road, and he's home. That moment of relief turns to the same feeling I had as a child when I got a new puppy-joy of the moment and a inner acknowledgment of gratitude for what just happened. As an adult, the daily gift of love, health and life are my constant new puppy feeling.

Christmas is about giving, but it is also about acknowledging the gifts we receive on a daily basis. The most important gifts to the soul can't have a dollar sign attached to them because they are priceless, they defy to be bought.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

My love letter to a Christmas Ghost

Dear Father Christmas,

I remember seeing you that night, I can remember the house we lived in and that means I was six years old. I loved that house, remember it had a riding arena out in the back where the nearby high school girls would journey through the woods on their horses and ride around and around. I would run out to greet them and sometimes they would lift me up to ride double. And every Christmas, I asked you for a horse. Of course you remember, because you are Father Christmas and you feel the hearts of everyone, good and bad, and you especially are sensitive to the naive hearts who still believe in magic no matter what the age.

But I remember that night, even though it was some fifty one years ago. I remember it was snowing and mother and father had us all tucked into bed, which was not easy because we always got to stay up late on Christmas Eve and watch for you. They were wise though, they knew exactly when you would come down the chimney. My brother who was a year older and very wise, like a scientist, he said you most likely came through the door and that the chimney story was just preposterous. He said preposterous. Even so, I was always concerned that the fire was out long before you arrived so as not to burn you. But you knew this too because you are Father Christmas.

So we got all tucked into our beds, my brother in the upstairs attic room, and me in the downstairs room, right near the chimney and living area. My parents stayed up some, but then I saw the light reflections in my bedroom windows go dim, and I heard foot steps walk off down the hall. I lay in bed...waiting. I was sure if I just stayed very still, you wouldn't know I was awake and you would come. I'm impatient, I always was even then, and I got up out of bed and crept to my window, looking up into the snow flakes falling, convinced you would descend at any moment. The snow made a sound, even through the window, a puff, whoosh, then silent until the wind blew it into the panes.

I heard noises, but not from the roof, from the living room. How did I miss this, I wondered, you must have come to the house from another direction. I ever so softly opened my door and tip toed out into the nightly house, the lights of the tree guiding my tiny toes.

And what I saw is etched in my mind to this day. The beautiful tree was lit and the tiny colored lights bounced off the white socks of someone sitting in my father's chair. And you had a little black dog in your lap, just like us. It was you, Father Christmas and you were smoking a pipe-I couldn't see the smoke but it smelled like what my father smoked in his pipe. But you know all this, because you are Father Christmas.

I let out a Haley Mills gasp, holding my little hands over my mouth.

I heard another door in the house, and slipped back to my room and got so quickly into my bed in case somehow you might see me all the way from the living room. I got under the covers, and clutched my brown bear, and didn't move. I am not even sure I was breathing, but the next thing I remember is waking up to a beautiful sun over glistening snow crystals on my window.


I ran to the tree and the first thing I did was look for anything that might indicate you had brought me a horse. I was sure there might be something somewhere out of sight that would be kept until all the presents were opened. But you didn't bring me the horse and as the morning wore on, I quickly accepted that.

"He can't carry a horse in the sky," my brother suggested. "You'll just have to wait some more."

I didn't tell anyone that morning about seeing you. I don't know why. But I know it was you.

Years later now, I think back to that night, seeing you in the chair. I imagined you were just resting in the quiet of the busiest night in your life, enjoying a moment to yourself, with your dog, the beautiful light emanating out of the tree, enjoying a smoke. You were probably tired because you worked so hard to bring us gifts and you just needed some time to yourself to be you. And I know you never did bring me that horse, but I did get one, and it is better that it worked out that way.

But you know that, because you were and will always be my Father Christmas.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

White Dog-I will revel in this mystery

A year ago, a dog mysteriously appeared in our lavender field. I found him as I was coming back from a hike with Huck and Mud, and at first, as the dog came bounding towards us, I thought,

How did Marcella get out this time?

But it looked a bit...different...wait a minute, you are an intact male Maremma, not Marcella.

Maremmas are not a common breed around here, and if you have a good one, you know how valuable they are-both in terms of cost you paid for a pup and their ability to protect your animals. The coincidence that White Dog showed up on our property, a property that already had a Maremma, was not only mysterious, it became quite magical for me, and my followers. At times, I thought my imagination and shear optimism had created that magic. But as months went by, I knew there was a true connection I shared with him, even before he arrived.

We have all fallen in love with White Dog, who we named Benedetto once we were sure he was staying. I certainly did not need another dog, nor did Marcella. We have imagined many different scenarios about how he got to us...and I still go back and forth about how he made it here. I started to write a book about White Dog this past summer, and was having a good time with it. But once we decided to move to Maine, the story I was working on seemed to lose the right meaning for me.

More than ever, I realize that White Dog has come to Apifera not only for a reason, but the reason has to do with me. I suppose that might sound egotistical, but the more I am with him, the more that goes on around him and me, the more I look into his eyes and feel his story is entangled in mine...somehow.

So, I need to start exploring it. Will it be a book someday? Maybe. A children's book? Perhaps...or a book I won't put a genre on because when I do I always goof it all up and get discombobulated.

I'm going to draw, search and explore, without worry, and will post on the White Dog page here on the blog. I need to do this too for my own grounding. With the property on the market, it is so easy to float away- float away to daydream what our new farm will look like, where it will be -exactly- and when will my magical buyers show up, especially after I wrote them a letter and released it to the universe. I need to focus while I am here and my intention is to do just that with drawing and art.

We shall see. We must revel in the unknown for now.

Read more about White Dog and his first year with Apifera.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Snapshot moments and Cornelia thrives

This is the look Raggedy Man gives me when I stop his back massage.

In between the torrential rains this month, The Misfits gather for a sun break and Kale Picnic.

And if you can put your head in a bucket, you are most certainly feeling better. Cornelia is progressing and is back to her normal level of grunts. She couldn't stand still for a photo, so another sign of recovery!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Old Victor slips away

Somewhere between 8:45 and 10:00 this morning, Old Victor died. I had greeted him this morning at 8:30 as I entered the barn. I was going riding so feedings would wait until I got back. This is a routine the barnyard is used to, and it makes it less chaotic for me to get to my ride on time.

On returning, I went about my business feeding which has an order of who gets fed first keeping everything going smoothly-as much as possible anyway. Victor, Sophie, Professor and Only Duck live in a large stall at night and are usually fed last, so I can attend to Victor's needs. Every morning and night, I lifted him up so I could clean his bedding and give him some relief for laying down all the time. For the past month, he has not been able to even hop as he used to, so he would simply lay back down again.

I knew it was only a matter of time before his system would just shut down, but there hadn't been any signs of distress yet. When I opened the stall door and saw him clearly dead, I called to him.

I lay my head on his and said,

"Oh, Victor, I'm happy for you. You were such a sweet man."

It appeared to be a quick death, no signs of trauma near by. It was time. He and I had discussed it several times. The only reason I hadn't helped him on his way yet is he seemed quite content and was not having any trouble staying upright once he was laying down [a cast goat can die quickly if not helped upright]. He had a smile in the morning and night and ate well. The torrential rains have kept everyone working over time on flooded roads and driveways, and I just kept thinking we could get along, him and I, for a few more weeks unless he took a turn for the worst. And we did get along just fine.

But there were several times when I helped him up when I sensed he was getting tired of it all. When I would enter the stall, he would try so hard to get up, but in time, he just positioned himself in a way that indicated he knew I was going to help him. It was also getting hard to keep him clean, and eventually that could have created health issues too.

I spent a lot of time with this gentleman, and that he was, a gentleman. He never had an ill head toss towards another goat, and we all know he always had a smile on his old face. He is like many elders, crippled, doing their best in nursing homes, unable to clean themselves or even move without aid. Some turn sour, some try to smile through it. Victor took the latter route.

I am not sad today, I'm relieved for him, and you should be too. As in any death here, I let the barnyard come into the stall to see the body. They of course were way ahead of me, and took it in stride. But it's also important for me to let them see me with the body, as it is my final convenant with that creature-to take care of his remains swiftly and as best I can. Martyn happened to be home as we are expecting more torrential rains and he helped me dig a grave. All around us the Misfits nibbled on grass and old pumpkins-except Sophie, who remained in the stall area to eat hay on her own. I sensed she felt the loss, and interestingly enough, she was much more personable today. I have seen this happen-the caregiver animal of a bonded pair loses the other animal, and then they blossom a bit, free from the responsibility of watching out for their friend.

I had my phone with me and took these crude images- a sequence that lasted about 2 minutes. Sophie showed me the body, I reassured her I would take care of him, Marcella came in and inspected the area around the body, and then smelled Victor's death, and then went on her way. Benedetto stayed out in the barn, his usual approach to death-letting Marcella deal with it.

The beautiful light that then fell on Sophie as she looked up to the stall ceiling moved me–what caught her eye? Light, spirit or just a breeze?

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Cornelia falls ill

Yesterday morning at feedings, Cornelia did not run out with the other piglets to greet me. As they all clamored around my feet while I carried their feed into their hut, there was Cornelia somewhat listless, breathing rather heavily. She did not eat. I thought it might be a temporary stomach issue, and let it go, but went out early to do do night feedings so I could check on her. So glad I did. She was the same, and I decided to carry her up the goat barn so I could put her in a warmer area- the Old Man Guinnias suite to be exact where so many have gone to heal...or pass on. The fact she let me carry up their without to much squealing showed how poorly she felt.

It was 2:30. She had no temperature but her breathing was heavy. She was a bit weak, and I gave her a shot of meds for inflamation and pain, and called the vet. I knew we would probably want to get a shot of the 'super pig punch' as we call it-a shot that covers a wide spectrum of pig problems, including pneumonia and other bronchial issues {I don't give out names of drugs online, as it is important that people learn these things from their own vets]. When Earnest went ill, he just lay don and didn't get up, but did not have the breathing issue, and he had a very high fever, so this was a bit different.

I was able to get Martyn to stop at the vet's on the way home so I could get the shot into her that evening. I found a dog coat that fit her well, held her awhile in the dark, and covered her up with hay and left for the night. There was little else to do.

Last night I awoke many times. I usually sleep like a rock but lately with all that is going on here, I have been waking up at 3 am and not falling back to sleep. But each time I did, I simply said her name over and over in my head. I dreaded going out to the barn. I am still somewhat new to pigs so when one gets sick I have a bit more of a dreaded feeling than with my goats and sheep. They react differently to illness.

So I headed to the barn, and the first thing I did was look into her stall. I saw her hay mound, and a head. She was perfectly still.

"Cornelia?" I asked, cautiously.

Up she popped, much more lively than last night. I went in and gave her a shot, and took her temp which was slightly higher than the night before but normal. She was much more herself, squealing a bit when I took her temp. When I went to feed everyone, she was very vocal, another good sign, and...she ate.


She is not out of the woods yet, and her breathing is still a bit labored. The super shot she got yesterday lasts for 10 days, so we will hope for a full recovery. All the other pigs seem okay, but I'll be watching them like a hawk. This morning I spent time with her and sang to her and massaged her. She seemed to really enjoy it. I told her the sky, although grey this morning, lit up for me when I saw she made it through the night. I covered her little chunk body in hay, and left her to sleep for the day.

I'm really fond of Cornelia and as you know if you follow along, I have decided to keep her out of the litter. I just love her chunky body and she will simply be a little pet. I hope to bring her on therapy visits, she seems to have a good personality for it and I've been working on holding her. When she got sick, I thought,

"No, why her? Why the one I have chosen to befriend? What are you telling me, Universe?"

I think one thing I've learned in life, as much as I want an answer for everything, there isn't always a reason why one animal or person gets sick. There isn't. That is one of the many challenges of life-we must often suffer, without reprieve, or answers. We must live through such uphill climbs, and look for the blue sky. I imagine when I lay my head down for the last time, while I'll be leaving the party and must say goodbye, there also will be relief in my final breath.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Power of intention and the Mary Poppins factor

I became aware of the power of intention sometime in my early forties. And I also learned that when you ask the universe for something, watch out...and be specific.

I've been so caught up in the details of getting the property on the market, that for a few days of time I lost my own power, my own understanding that my intentions are valid and will be demonstrated, if I truly intend them. And I do.

I sat down and painted this scene, where it is... I don't know...yet, but it is there. There might be slight differences in the final property we find in Maine, but it is a rendition of what my heart is pulling for now-maybe slightly less land or land that is laid out in a simpler way for us–an outbuilding that does not involve putting every darn little Misfit and White Dog away in a stall so I can drive my feed in-and Martyn can unload wood and other things without this issue. You learn a lot after living on a farm for 12 years, what you might want to change or tweak. Will it have a red door? Possibly not, but like the house I found in Portland when I moved from Minneapolis, it will cry out to have me paint the door red.

Last night we watched the original version of "Mary Poppins". I just loved it. I so remember watching it in the big theater as a six year old. I sang along to every song last night, gleefully, and still got verklempt when "Feed the Birds" came on. But what was so wonderful for me last night was the scene where the two little children write a letter to the perfect nanny they knew was out there, and they sing the letter out loud to their parents. Mr. Banks, the way to practical father, rips the letter up as nonsense, and tosses it in the fireplace. A day later, he puts an ad in the paper for a nanny, and the prospective nannies begin lining up outside the house. And then, a strong wind blows in and all the nannies are blown away by some force-and Mary Poppins floats down from the sky and into the house. She hands Mr. Banks the letter he had torn up and burned, and it has mysteriously been seamed back together again.

Well, that scene was my gift of the day! I realized I hadn't been firm enough, hadn't composed my intentions enough for a new buyer for our property here. And I will do this, I will write it and then I will sing it out loud to the skies, and burn it up.

And we shall continue on.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

"We are going together, White Dog"

A video posted by Katherine Dunn / Apifera Farm (@katherinedunnapiferafarm) on

Every morning I spend time with the animals, but of late I have been taking more time with them, because I need them more than ever. I am very agitated with the process of selling the place-it is what it is-I have sold seven houses on my own and know how it goes in ups and downs. It is uncomfortable to have strangers walking through your house. The limbo stage of not having sold so we can't pick our new home is unsettling, but as my mother always said in all the times they sold houses,

"It only takes one right buyer."

Oh I miss her through this process, but I hear her voice daily as we go jump through the hoops to sell.

So in the mornings, I have a healing sessions with Benedetto. The White Dog is special, we all seem to know that. He was born a healer, no doubt in my mind. Some animals, like people, are more inclined to be healers-such as our dear departed friend, Stevie, or the little donkey, Pino. The White Dog arrived a year ago out of the sky from who knows where. He was a mystery we gave up trying to figure out, and instead, accepted him as a gift. From the start, I always felt there was a reason that he came here, specifically for me. I still do. That might sound egotistical, I'm sure he has many purposes on this realm, but I do believe he is here for me specifically.

Each morning after feedings, I spend quiet, wordless moments with him. It begins with looking into each other's eyes. I read once that studies showed that our dogs emit some kind of feel good hormone when we look into their eyes. While some dead stares at animals might be taken as aggression, I can honestly say that with Benedetto our eye sessions are deeply moving and satisfying for both of us. {I wouldn't stare into Marcella's eyes like this for too long}. I'm sure Benne senses my anxiety. When I stop and divert my eyes in our morning stare downs, he puts his paw up on my arm.

I used to think that paw up was met as, Don't leave, pet me, hold me  but perhaps it is really him saying, It will be okay for you, and us.

For twelve years I've put Misfits on the top of the priority list. I will continue to work with animals, and hope to move into healing work with animals and Elder people once we get to Maine. I never got it off the ground here, never made the right contacts or contacts that followed through. But, Maine will also be a new place for me, a place to switch up some things. I need to fill my well, tweak how much caretaking I am doing. Benne knows this. He senses my anxiety.

I hold Benne too. He is a big guy, about 90# and when he stands his head is parallel to mine. But I often hold him as he stands, like we are dancing. Or I get down on his level and hold his neck. I will then talk to him, and tell him that everything is okay, but of course as I've said before, it is he who is saying that to me, I am just repeating what he emits. Once I figured that out, it gave me great comfort, because for many years I thought my value was in my helping animals. But what I'm learning is, I have value even if I was living all alone and wasn't helping animals. I have value just by being me. And Benedetto knows that and reflects that understanding back into me when we have our morning sessions.

What I say to him, and often Marcella if she is near us, is,

"We are going together," and they respond with open brown eyes, receptive to my words, but more importantly, to my intentions.

One of the things I've also been careful of with the animals of late is to not make a promise I can't keep. But with The White Dogs, I make sure I tell them every morning,

"We are going together."

They already knew.

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Don't worry, Mr. Plum

If you follow along here you know the story-we arrive at Apifera with zero cats to our name and within a few months had twenty-five, all semi feral, thanks to the seed of Big Tony, who fathered most of them and walked right into my trap with tuna that first month we lived here. I'll never forget finding him in the live trap, lounging in the sun, full of tuna, happy as a clam. Soon after, he moved to the porch, and because of my sneakiness, began living inside shortly after, in the bed, on Martyn's head. That rhymes.

So, twelve years later, Mr. Plum is the only remaining porch cat from the original litters. Hazel, his litter mate, still resides in the barn, with daily visits from Tomentosa who is fat and healthy and must have two homes including Apifera. He is always very dry when he shows up, so he must have a good place to sleep and eat when he is not here.

When Orange moved on to the next realm, his true ending unknown to us as is often the case with barn cats, it left Mr. Plum alone. Peaches also lives on the deck and comes into the house in the mornings to eat and nap, then goes out because her royal highness-you all know her as Itty Bitty Etta-is alpha and the two of them started having peeing wars-oh that was fun.

I had hoped Peach would slowly bond with Plum, but she is not a cat's cat. They have started sitting across from one another on the wicker chair, so there is hope.

But Plum has his very own bedroom, complete with prince pillows stacked high. He is usually in there in the morning when I feed, and often at night. He's a friendly fellow, and if fate had been slightly different and Tony wasn't in the house, I'd consider bringing him in. He is twelve and that is a very fine age for a barn cat that was born in a trash heap out back.

I have slowly been creating my master moving plan-as far as the logistics of how to take animals to Maine. Barn cats are often left with new owners, and this could be possible if the right buyer comes along that I trust. He is used to his porch and is at the end of his life. But I've decided if he is still with us when the place sells, he will come with us. I feel loyal to him. I suppose I might change my mind if a new owner showed me in their interactions with him how loyal they would be, but for now, he is coming with us.

Monday, December 07, 2015

Looking East

As as I ponder how to pack Earnest's suitcase, there are many holiday gifts for your animal and farm loving friends and family, like this print. Visit the shop and enjoy your time there. In one way or another it will help The Misfit get to Maine!

Perhaps once a person makes up their mind they are heading East, everything points in that direction. I didn't set out to make Blue Horse face East, he just did. Some cynic might say that if he is standing at a certain point of the property maybe he is facing West. Nope, he is facing East.

So I looked at a bunch of pieces I did back when Maine was only a percolation and I or Martyn didn't have the confidence to speak of it out in the open, and it seemed the art that struck chords with me at the time I finished them, had Eastward faces. Then I thought I should go back and look at paintings I did when I was still in Minneapolis, and was feeling a pull from the West-and many of those pieces had the faces pointing West.

I suppose it is a bit like what Richard Pryor said-that when you have a broken heart everything is sad, even if it is the song on the radio like "Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer". And when you are being pulled East, faces look East. I have one foot here and one foot there. This too shall pass.

A person told me the other day she didn't believe a person is "pulled East or West", but that you simply make a decision to go and you go. She didn't believe "things fall into place" just because you are on the right path, she felt you made things fall into place. She also has never felt wing nubs on her shoulders. I said,


I know there are all sorts of things that have to happen before I'm sitting in a truck hauling a bunch of short statured goats and some pigs to Maine. But I feel very positive about it all. There will pit stops, and closed doors here and there. Selling a country place is different than selling in the city, that is certain. I have sold six houses on my own in my adult life and was lucky to have a lot of experience too as I was growing up as my parents' moved a lot. I know how to pack a good box. My mother had a go-to line when we would put a house on the market,

"They always sell. Only takes one buyer."

We listed this weekend and I hope to get to a place where I can regain some footing in the studio. But there are so many details and logistics to this move and it might be my biggest creation to date, and I must possible just accept that, and enjoy it as much as possible. We have some ideas on hauling-and to be honest, I think it is going to be the experience of a life time. Someone suggested it will be a great book-true, however it is an awfully expensive and uprooting way to get a book idea!

Friday, December 04, 2015

I went through two hankies when I saw this

This is the video the realtor company created, drone and all, this past week. I have to tell you, I teared up immediately-but in pride and thankfulness that we could live here and do our best in as many ways as we could-with land and animal. We helped a house back to dignity and shored up a beautiful old barn that still whispers to its charges. We added trees galore and improved the fields and marked the territory with fencing. We gave help to the river front and made a place for a small group of tiny blue butterflies to land and repopulate. We gave comfort to elders-animals and people. And we had a hell of ride doing it all.

It's time for the next owner to come forth now. Where are you, I wonder? Are you near by? Or far off hoping a property will fall in your lap? The barn will most likely call out to someone too. My only wish is that the new owner will cherish the land, barns and house and continue on where we left off, in their own unique way and style.

Thursday, December 03, 2015

Blind pug humor

Hughie is pretty funny. Because he is totally blind, he relies on scent and hearing, of course. So sometimes when I am cooking and all the dogs are at my feet, I look down and see Huck and Mud facing me, but the little blind man is sitting in the opposite direction.

It always amuses me.

I continue to have many moments, where I look down at the pug in my lap, and think,

I'm so happy to have a pug again.

When you tell Oregonians you're moving to Maine

Today's fog fit us all like a glove, it seemed.

It's funny what happens when you tell people you are moving, especially when you are moving from Oregon to Maine. As one person I work with here said to me,

"Well, we could grasp it more easily if you were going to Montana, or Florida."


I'm finding it's very similar to when you had in your resignation at a company, which I have done several times in my life–at an ad agency in NYC, an architectural firm and a graphic design firm in Minneapolis–that when you give your resignation, people who were once allies quietly begin detaching themselves from you-for a whole variety of reasons. I feel that now. People are detaching, and I am detaching too, and it leaves my feet not feeling firmly planted.

I've been focusing so much on feeling for my wings in the past months and helping all of us here find our wings so we might have a softer landing once we leave the West, that I have forgotten about my feet, which need to get grounded again. There are many details to the move, and to be honest, it's pretty much up to me to make it happen. It's not that Martyn isn't helpful, but he has a full 12 hour day of landscaping, so it is up to me-and to be honest, it is for the better. Martyn's plan of attack to moving an entire farm coast to coast is

"I'm waiting until this place sells first."

Now there's a plan. We'll just figure it all out in a panic-hauling, logistics, places to live...

I admit it, I am a bit...distracted. But all is well. It will be fine. It will. Really.

When you make a bold decision, a life changing decision, other people react with their own set of issues. There has been the "How could you leave that property, it's your dream?"

Actually it is-but that person works in the city and has always wanted what I have here, and she doesn't seem to be making any efforts to get what I have so part of here dream lives through me. I don't care, but that happens all the time-people choose their dream keepers through blogs and online sources. Dreams evolve, they expand-if you let them. I for one know that no land or following can hold back my path, or Martyn's and my path.

Apifera will change in Maine. It has too. I want it too. That is part of the puzzle now-how will Apifera change? I don't have all the answers for that, but I do know the essence of Apifera will always be about sharing story, loving animals in my chosen way and bringing healing to people through art and nature. As one wise woman said to me, encouraging me,

"Your work has always been about relationship, and that will continue."

I've said a lot of goodbyes on this land. I think it needs a rest, as do I. The Misfits will be coming with us, but what new Misfits arrive at Apifera East is also part of the puzzle. I will always be attracted to misfits, and as importantly I draw them to me with my intention. I'm excited to see what the new Apifera will look like.

When we moved here in 2004, the place hadn't formed yet. I managed to create a perfect blend of a life-art, land and animal. But it took time for what people might know as Apifera today to form, and it has never stopped forming. You can see that if you have a week to kill and start reading the blog from the start.

I remember our first night here. We had a horrible moving experience, and the moving van couldn't make it around the culverts, and all our belongings were on the truck-dog food, tooth brushes, clothes, bedding, pillows. They had to leave us with nothing, except ourselves, and a blind terrier and pug. We went and bought a sleeping bag, some crappy wine and beer, and two pillows. We slept on the living room floor that night. I remember how discombobulated I was. We had left our adorable little vintage bungalows for a house in ill shape. I lay on the ground that night near tears.

What had we done? I thought.

In the morning, Martyn and I awoke with the dogs, and our backs were sore and we creaked our way to standing up. We had slept in our same clothes. And Martyn said boldly, with humor,

"I feel like a million bucks!"

I know we might have some bumpy moments, but it's going to be fine. So many stories to come, and many more million dollar moments. I hung a prayer flag last night for a man having some scary health concerns. The Little Prayer Flag Tree continues to carries messages of love and hop out through the breeze. I'll hang one for us too.

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

My new article in Mabel Magazine

Hot off the presses, the new issue of Mabel Magazine Issue 4 in which I have a 4 page article with photos [including a beautiful image of me and Birdie that my friend Lisa Hofmann took and let me use-thank you Lisa, this is one of my favorite photos to date. Please visit her soulful blog too.].

What's interesting is I wrote this back in the summer I think. Maine was percolating but I had kept stuffing it back inside a box, as the thought of moving was too big, too scary, too all encompassing with too many ramifications I wasn't ready to acknowledge or accept. The article is about not being afraid to adapt and change as an artist and business person-and how I evolved from calling myself an illustrator back in Minneapolis, to an artist-book maker-shepherdess-story teller in today's world.

The last paragraphs are telling, and worth sharing again:

While I was an illustrator in my beginning career, I was happy and that life 
seemed to fit me like a glove–but Apifera is my skin.

And the shifts continue. I know that the growth I went through in my past will help me be less fearful of the shifts that will inevitably happen as I age and evolve. I plan to be here working with my elder creatures, art, writing and farm as long as I am physically and emotionally able. But when I feel a shift, I will ask: What's next?

And I'll make up my own mind.