Saturday, December 30, 2017

Crowood: Appause

Remember awoke with a start, the wounded owl, making panicked high-pitched sounds, Remember shaking her head and coming to at the cries of the wolves in the nearby forest.  Appause...the Wampanoag word for Moon.  It was January 1...time of the Full Wolf Moon, called thus because of the wolves' howling that occurred in the dead of winter. She arose out of her bed in a moment, quickly donning her warmest clothing and slipping on her leather shoes, moving swiftly into the gardens and past the wattle fence. There, on the edge of her beloved woods, she checked on her latest visitor.  Talking softly and sweetly and, looking askant, she opened the door to one of the makeshift cages for wounded wild ones. Stepping silently to her newfound friend, she whispered secret words of comfort and carefully lifted the great bird onto her delicate arm.  The owl accepted her, his powerful talons acquiescing and gently gripping her small arm. This one had come to her in the morning time, wing broken and helpless.  Remember knew that owls appeared when transition was near...they were masters of the night, of the unknown, and thrived in the shadows. The Wampanoag recognized them as keepers of sacred knowledge. She smiled softly at this, as Goody Prymm had taught her that the owl would awaken thoughts of the spirit. Manitou. So many lessons she had learned from this great and humble lady.  Knowing that all was well, she calmed the great bird of its fears, gently stroking its sleek and grand earthen-hued feathers and speaking words only they two understood and, when the wolf-howlings finally ceased, silently departed the large wattle enclosure.

Remember paused to breathe in the cold and crystal night, the Lady shining in her velvety, starry realm.  Goody Prymm would have called tonight's full moon, Olde Moon.  Had it really been nearly thirteen years since Imagination had left her?  And yet Remember felt her presence still, every day, in all that she did.  Remember's eyes softened at the memory of Nightfeather, her dear wounded crow which, once healed, she just couldn't release. That joyful Midsummer's Eve when she and Imagination threw their flowered head wreaths into the fire...she could still hear dear Goody imploring her to set Nightfeather free...that wild things were to remain wild.  The Wampanoag knew it, having great respect for animals, and a belief that all creatures were equal and should be free to live their natural lives.  It was finally at the releasing of her dear Goody Prymm that she was able and ready to release Nightfeather again to the wild.  Remember held this lesson closely in her heart, and thereafter took in the wild things that came her way to be healed, only to rightfully set them free in the end.

Taking in a fresh breath of the pure night and the soft nighttrill of the owl, Remember crossed her threshold, leaving the night to itself.

© 2017 Nancy Duncan

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Green Witch's Report: A Winter's Walk

It's cold and grey today where I live, an excellent day for a Winter's Walk...won't you come along and see what we shall see?

The lake's muted greens seduce me with their visual notes of quietness and softness.  The plants, like those in my gardens at home, have gone to seed, providing sustenance for the woodland creatures, and interesting shapes and colors for the walker and observer...

Oh, the Whites of Winter!!! Trees that no longer stand...and those that still do! reveal their pale bones...

And the ghost of a Christmas tree whispers past lives...

A giant cedar shows its unusual form of twisted trunk and amputated limbs...but one little tree poses sweetly for the camera...

The russet grasses don't sway today, but stand like sentinels, waiting...while tangled briars prod the observer into troubled thoughts of life's complications and confusions...

The merry red berries of the Possumhaw chuckle at Winter's subdued tones...but the ever-green cedars remind the more thoughtful walker of immortality.

I truly love Winter Walks...and always come home afterward feeling restful and accepting of all of life..

© 2017 Nancy Duncan

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Antique Herbal Christmas

If you follow my blog, you know that many of my projects have revolved around the healer, the midwife...Goody Prymm, as well as my stitching and research. This year I asked Santa for my first antique herbal, which I saw in a charming shoppe last October in Centerville, Indiana...and I must've been (fairly) goode this year because it arrived! :)

I possess a number of herbals, but this is my very first antique one, the others all being modern herbals or reprints of the classics such as Culpeper's. This herbal, entitled Gunn's Domestic Medicine, or Poor Man's Friend, was originally published in 1830, my copy being the eighth edition published in 1836. Apparently it was once owned by a Mr. Enos Osborn (Ozborn?) in 1853, his ownership signature written at the beginning in quite a lovely hand, I might add. The book is in fair condition, its cover calf skin and its pages rather foxed. But it is complete...and readable! And this condition allowed me to become its owner, for these antique books can be very expensive.

I love the title page, which indicates that the book was written expressly for the poor man---to enable him to aid himself in healing, having been written in plain English (no complicated doctors' terms) with roots and herbs accessible to him. It states, "Why should we conceal from mankind that which relieves the distresses of our fellow-beings?" Notice that the book was written for those families in "the Western and Southern States," which, in 1830, was no further West than Tennessee and a few other states at the time. I also love that Mr. Gunn intended for the book to communicate the practice of medicine using the "principles of common sense."

The Table of Contents is interestingly arranged, and in the next several days I shall be studying it, as it reflects his philosophy of healing...notice that it is arranged by the passions in some categories, such as anger, love, hope, joy, etc., while at other times by the cures and diseases themselves. Some of the remedies will take you by surprise...laudanum?!

And definitely by the use of naturals...

Mr. Gunn's work was printed for decades, allowing for updates as needed. It was most popular and was even referenced in great literary works such as Twain's Huckleberry Finn.

I've read enough literature to realize that a work is either a reflection of the times...or a reaction to the times, and sometimes both. This herbal is no exception. The political climate of the day called for a work written expressly for the common man...and that appeals to me.

Today I shall carefully read the Introduction in which Mr. Gunn explains his medicinal philosophy...and I will report back to you what I glean!

The day after Christmas is a lovely time to take in the blessings of the day before, don't you think?

© 2017 Nancy Duncan

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Ring, Christmas Bells!

Merry Christmas!!!!!!!

God's Creatures

I think of the Birds and the Beasts on this special Night...the birds eat the berries on my bushes and the seed heads I have left to winter from my gardens, and drink the water from my baths...

Here the seasonal migrating Cedar Wax Wings have returned, with their shrill cries and their beautiful presence.  Merry Christmas, all of Creation!

© 2017 Nancy Duncan

Peace on Earth, Goodwill to Men

***Photo taken in Beaver Creek, Colorado

© 2017 Nancy Duncan

Saturday, December 23, 2017

A Winter's Eve

All of a Winter's black silk Ipswich Lace, the trees...

© 2017 Nancy Duncan

A Quaint Norwegian Church

While in Alesund, Norway last summer we visited a small church. Little did we know then that we would be seeing Christmas in July...

When we stepped inside this humble rock church, just look at the beauty we beheld! I stood enthralled by the painted ceilings! Here the Nativity, with a chorus of glorious angels! Oh, those colors...


© 2017 Nancy Duncan

Friday, December 22, 2017

Pine Trees

"No writer on the solitary meditative dimensions of life can say anything that has not already been said better by the wind in the pine trees."

                                                           ~~~Thomas Merton

The conifer pine is one of the most ancient of plants on this earth.  A symbol of enlightenment, strength, and immortality, meditation with the scent of pine lifts the spirits and provides energy.

Goody Prymm well knew the health benefits of pine needle tea in winter!

Pine needles, sap, bark, and nuts were used by Native American people for medicinal purposes, ingredients in recipes, and for their crafts...who doesn't appreciate the beauty of a pine-needle basket?

So many dimensions to this ancient and noble tree...

***Photo taken in Beaver Creek, Colorado!

© 2017 Nancy Duncan

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Old Man Winter Has Arrived!

Happy first day of Winter!  Today is the Winter Solstice (though some sources are saying it is tomorrow), the shortest day and longest night of the year...

Goody Prymm would have loved this day, as it is honored through the symbolism of many healing herbs:

***All evergreens---holly and ivy---represented immortality and the cycle of life

***Cedar, believed to heal grief

***Bay and Chamomile, herbs of light and the sun's power

***Blessed Thistle, Holly, and Juniper, herbs of protection
      (many old homes have a holly tree planted near their front door...mine does!)

***Mistletoe, for a kiss of peace

***Pine, the tree of peace

Welcome the Winter with arms wide open!

© 2017 Nancy Duncan

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

In the Heart of Nature

A good rain changes everything.  Couldn't resist you see what I see in the shape of this spider web on the edge of my garden? It's magic...

© 2017 Nancy Duncan

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

A Morning for Emily

I awoke to melancholy this morning, accompanied by fog and taking down my book of poetry by Emily Bronte, imagine my surprise to learn that she died on this very day in 1848.  Emily would have loved this day.  In Number 145, she wrote:

Methinks this heart should rest awhile,
So stilly round the evening falls;
The veiled sun sheds no parting smile,
Nor mirth, nor music wakes my halls.

I have sat lonely all the day
Watching the drizzly mist descend
And first conceal the hills in grey
And then along the valleys wend.

And I have sat and watched the trees
And the sad flowers---how drear they blow:
Those flowers were formed to feel the breeze
Wave their light leaves in summer's glow.

Yet their lives passed in gloomy woe
And hopeless comes its dark decline,
And I lament, because I know
That cold departure pictures mine.

                       ~~~Emily Bronte, 1841

Monday, December 18, 2017

Updates for Angels in My Head

I've decided I will call this piece "Releasing Angels." This post will be changed periodically as I reach turning points. I've been roughly stitching the whitewash, and then playing around with the exposed brick. You know, we have some new neighbors up the street who had this done to their home as it was being built. They had the pinkish brick covered in a whitewash paint...and then an artist painter came in and distressed it. It must've cost a fortune, but I'm quite sure the intended effect was what you see in the painting here. It did turn out beautifully, I must admit.

So to achieve that look in stitching, I've tried to first stitch the white...and then stitch over with the light grey-plum (that effect is seen in the lower left). Then I thought, well, what if I stitched the grey-plum first and then worked the white around it (which can be seen in the white-stitched space between the windows). The effect is similar but perhaps stitching the white over the grey-plum gives it a more washed-out look...what do you think?

Never fear, I will be fixing the left slope of the roof...this is all hand stitched as I go, so accuracy is not going to be a strong point, but I'll get as close as I can to it.  Also, the white stitching will be more blended, less "row" looking. I decided not to put frames in the windows, at least for now, as the dark grey makes it appear more empty. Perhaps I'll add a single stitch frame at the end just for definition. It's so much fun experimenting!

Update:  The white wing of the farmhouse is done, sort of. I like the textured look.  Tonight and tomorrow I will be shading in the washed brick, and I will add the tin (I assume) roof.  One side (the right side) could use more symmetry, so I will try to rectify that, as well.  Twice I stitched in window frames...and twice I ripped them out.  I think it looks better looks lonely that way.

Update:  The picture on the right is the white farmhouse wing completed, though I may go back and fill in a bit more white. Overall, I am pleased with how it turned, I begin to stitch the main part of the house, which is variegated stone. I researched a bit about the Ohio artist and his works, and this particular farmhouse in his painting is in Pennsylvania.

Update:  You know, I'm doing this all by the seat of my pants...and it is sort of a problem-solving thing.  I felt like the roofline of the stone portion of the farmhouse needed to be starkly straight, so
I used four strands of DMC thread and followed the lines of the linen, creating the (what looks to be) guttering. Then, to secure it down, I used a single thread of the DMC to stitch it lightly down. It worked! You can see on the lefthand side the four threads stitched down, whereas the righthand side I am just beginning to anchor to the linen. Looking at the painting, though, I wish I had used a light, light yellow for the guttering...perhap I can add a light yellow strand to the already existing stitching...

Update: I added a shade of light yellow to the guttering of the main house, which is just enough of a contrast to the white brick portion... and I've stitched a ghost outline of the stone (or main) portion of the farmhouse and its chimney (it's a massive chimney, from which angels will be released). The threads there will be the various stones...nice colors, all. I think the stones will be stitched willy nilly, perhaps in the same way the actual farmhouse's stones were placed...where they fit.

Update:  So, in between wrapping gifts, doing some household chores, I have managed to begin the rock's painstaking, but not bad. I need to dig around for more tan threads...

Update:  A nice, cozy Christmas Eve day, stitching and watching football...stone building is coming along nicely...

Update:  A disorganized workspace is not always a sign of a disorganized mind. It's often a sign of a free mind, one that allows its owner to have free-play while she works. Note that the backside looks like Pandemonium...

Now let's turn it over...much better. You can see that there really is a method to my madness. ;) You know what I really like about it? Its's like running my fingers over tiny little river stones of colored cotton.

I've begun another will be the last.  And then I'm thinking about a few bare, wintry trees...and then the angels! Lots of angels!


 And with a few which I added three crows taking flight, startled from their rookie wood...

In the process of all this stitching, you can see how my needle has bent! A good argument for choosing the right needle for the intended material... :O

Update:  The first angel has been released...I'm borrowing from images of olde New England tombstones...The trick is to make them "ethereal," but it's a challenge to stitch the tiny...

Update:  I sketched a few 1600s tombstone angels and have decided to make their "hair" the colors of the stones of the main section of the old and abandoned farmhouse...

Yet more of these ethereal creatures...sigh...I long to move on to the next project, but the angels will not let me go, not just yet...You think me slow? Yes, I wholeheartedly agree. They must be stitched in their own time...which is my own time.

Annnnnndd.....they're free!

© 2018 Nancy Duncan