Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Oregon Fires and Hope for Better Times Ahead

My son-in-law on roof of their house in Mehama Oregon hosing it down. Evacuated with few clothes, phones, kids, dog and cat. 

One day emergency phone alert was prepare for poor air quality from wildfires way over mountains. Then next day alert said Level 3: Get out now!!!

They did. 

All of our family plus all pets plus chickens safe at our house in Salem. Fire got as close as 1/4 mile away!

Photo days later when my son and son-in-law had sheriff's permission to try to get in for limited window of time to try save farm animals plus they hosed down roof.

Poor phone (always my only internet) but worse signal now every where due to extreme air quality from 37 Oregon Wildfires. Worst in the world! 

30/35 members of our family and many more or my husband's childhood through high school friends evacuated to Salem with minutes notice.  Multiple familes  with dogs cats chickens with us since Monday of last week.

All doing fine.  Our own air is yellow to yellow orange,  incredibly smoky and thick.  Creates headaches, swollen or burning eyes, coughing and runny nose for the canary in the mine--me!

Most of Lyons/Mehama did but many lost homes. People up the North Fork River Road/ slept through 1 a.m. message waking up to flames due to silenced phones Some simply did not have enough time to get out no matter what. 

Statistically this fire moved 15 x faster than the world's fastest runner. If cars were blocked by fsllen trees on only road no one could get out unless they were able to run to another car leaving farther down. 

Paul Allen Environmental Learning Center
Bilyeu Homes Inc  
Larry and Blake Bilyeu 
Photo 2007 by MicheleBilyeu 

Many are missing including one of past Governor's Vic Atiyeh's nephew. Founder and Fundraisers who created an amazing community around Opal Creek and Jawbone Flats now with many hard sad stories. 

Most likeky burned to the ground. Bilyeu Homes Inc our 2 person super environmentally conscious Dad and Son home office/home based business built the Paul Allen Science Center in the Opal Creek Ancient Forest area. 

Known affectionately as the Commissary when we were building it, it served as a hub of learning and activites for all. 

Our hearts mourn the loss of so much beauty that was a big part of our family's lives for decade's. My son still in contact with the people who lived and cared and taught classes there over time. Our family and friends building and working on many buildings there


Michele Bilyeu Creates *With Heart and Hands*: 

Opal Creek Ancient Forest Center 

Local online quilting business owner Bonnie Sullivan lost her beautiful home on the banks of the North Fork River. All gone.

She escaped the raging fire by flagging a car whose driver had to put her in the open trunk of a car that fully packed with her legs hanging out. Her husband was safe and away with work in Australia. But can you even imagine him learning of this half a world away? Bonnie, her sister. and mother are all from Salem and members of our. Mid-Valley Quilt Guild.  She wrote on Facebook thar she is fine and that she is lucky to have insurance.  Still it was built alongside what i assume must have been the family's original cabin. Sad to know that is gone as well. Oh the losses and the stories are heart breaking but the resilience of the human spirit is mighty.

SPECIAL REPORT: A night in hell - Santiam Canyon's ordeal | Salem Reporter | News about Salem – In-depth, Accurate, Trusted

Larry grew up living in both Lyons and Mehama and spent summers picking strawberries to earn money then swimming in the beautiful waters of tbe North Fork River every day he could!

Bilyeu Homes Inc. built a custom home for the Patterson family on an awesome site on the North Fork 16 years ago. Here are before and after photos courtesy of the home owners.

Although Larry still works along sidevof him our son Blake now runs our company and he heard almost immediately from them after the tragic loss of a beloved home filled with beautiful and deeply special memories. 

 They asked: "We lost everything. Can you help?" 

It was their home they saved for and finally built with coveted river front views and a great swimming area.

Now their house, antique furniture and a classic car collection all torched by heat and flames from this unimaginable massive fire.

Our hearts and prayers go out to all of these many, many families for all of their losses 

We still have the original vellums my husband rough drafted their custom plan on which can be used for new blueprints in the years ahead. Or a new plan if they so desire.  

We build very few houses a year but they are true homes and not just houses. We mourn the loss of this house and their grief and tragic loss. One can only imagine all of the grief and pain of these losses.

My own family home burned to the ground in Alaska in 1970. I was away at college at Oregon State learning by a hallway dorm phone at Oregon State University that my beloved cat died waking my brother up and using his crutches (he spent a year and a half in a body cast after a terrible accident ftom a dry docked boat falling on him as he worked underneath it) 

He woke up our parents  my mom running to neighbors to call fire department and my dad carrying my 3
unconscious brothers out a 2nd story window half throwing them down to our garage roof below.

Of course we said "yes" to our rebuilding our own home (my dad designed and built it with volunteer help) all those decades ago. We all need to have hope and a promise of renewal no matter how bad things are! Things can be replaced.  Lives cannot.

On top of everything else my almost 20 year old Kermit (she not a he) died a few crazy weeks ago. A long life still filled with health challenges, she was held, told stories to, and loved during her sweet passing naturally at home. Finally kissing her goodnight I woke at to a loud plaintive call for me. Gone and so soft and warm yet i told her how much she was loved and to follow the light over the rainbow bridge to my beloved Keira, her litter mate. πŸ’œπŸ˜­πŸ’œπŸ•ŠπŸ’œπŸ˜­πŸ’œ

If you're in our condition with any similar challenges and need love, hope and cheer i found this you tube little girl and her dad.  I cry with heart touched tears.

So incredibly sweet, well done and amazing little girl and her dad πŸ¦„πŸ˜ŠπŸ¦„

5 year old Claire Ryann Crosby sings "Tomorrow" from musical "Annie"

And with her dad Dave 
Claire Ryann Crosby sing "A Whole New World"

Michele Bilyeu Creates With Heart and Hands as she shares her imaginative, magical, and healing journey from Alaska to Oregon. Creating, designing, sewing, quilting, and wildcrafting... from my heart and with my hands.

Monday, August 31, 2020

The Inward Garden

Deep within each of us lies a garden.
An intensely personal place this landscape grows from a rich place of ingredients--
Imagination, memory,character, and dreams--that combine in wonderful ways in our innermost selves.

Throughout most of our lives,
This garden remains hidden from view save for brief moments spent daydreaming or in quiet contemplation.
But many of us long to make this imaginative garden real; 
To sit in it,stroll in it, to palpably possess it on our land.
We seek to give form to our inner garden as an ornamental landscape--an outward garden in our own backyard.

Your outward garden lies upon the land--
a private landscape for watering, for dancing, for daydreaming.
Both gardens represent a personal paradise--a beautiful place designed specifically to capture the most positive and refreshing landscape memories;  
a that is both a sanctuary from everyday life and a place of rejuvenation;  a place available to you at all times.

Julie Moir Messervy
An Inward Garden

Michele Bilyeu Creates With Heart and Hands as she shares her imaginative, magical, and healing journey from Alaska to Oregon. Creating, designing, sewing, quilting, and wildcrafting... from my heart and with my hands.

Monday, August 17, 2020

Light, Love, and Healing

The writer and activist Joanna Macy says:  "Work with your passion. Work with your pain. Work with what is at hand."  And to that,  my own heart responds.

For now, more than ever, spiritual warriors are needed to feel the light and love within them and radiate that love to the darkest corners of hearts and souls everywhere.

There must be peace in the nations.
If there is to be peace in the nations,
There must be peace in the cities.
If there is to be peace in the cities,
There must be peace between neighbors.
If there is to be peace between neighbors,
There must be peace in the home.
If there is to be peace in the home,
There must be peace in the heart.


Chinese philosopher

6th century bce

Still your hearts from anger, fear, or hatred. Fill them up with love and peace.  Our spirits know who we are, why we chose to be here during these incredibly challenging times.

With life's many challenges ever increasing, how do we find peace in this horribly troubled world, this universal psyche that chooses the negative over the positive, the masculine over the feminine, the warring over the peace making and bridge building?

It must be personal as well as national, universal as well as international. We must care, and care deeply about one another in any and all life forms and we must use our hearts, our energies, and our time to do good, say good, and be good to the best of each moment's ability.

"There are those who give little of the much which they have and they give it for recognition and their hidden desire makes their gifts unwholesome.

And there are those who have little and give it all. These are the believers in life and the bounty of life, and their coffer is never empty.

~On Giving by Kahlil Gibran from The Prophet~

The fires, the floods, the earthquakes, hurricanes, volcanoes, and tornadoes are not only the change and transition that Mother Earth, herself is expressing--as hard for us as it might be to understand.

They can be seen as our planet's release buttons for survival. If there is too much pressure within the Earth, it erupts in volcanoes or crack opens in earthquakes.


If there is too much pressure within us, we may erupt as well. And the damage we may do to others may be just as great emotionally as volcanoes and earthquakes are physically.

If we see Mother Earth as Gaia--a living breathing entity with her trees and plants as her lungs, her incredible beauty as her heart--then Gaia is losing her breath, her natural sustainable growth and energetic flow from decay  just as so many of us are losing ours.

Natural connections of mind, body, and spirit through the destructive energies of anxiety, fear, anger, hatred and dis-ease have caused cracks and many of us are stuck in the unhealthy patterns of those cracks. Everything makes us fearful or angry or hating the other. 

We are all connected and when we hate the other we increase our own weaknesses of self judgment, low self esteem or low energies of illness, pain, or depression.

But in this process of death and destruction there is still an opening up in our world and our world view. The chance to learn and grow and to transition our world and our hearts and spirits into unity once again.

We are all connected. We are all part of one another. My microscopic  atoms are merged with yours like stars in the cosmos. The pain that i feel is my pain, your pain, all pain. The fouled air that I am breathing will become the fouled air and the foul breathing of yours.

When we set off a bomb in one country, its repercussions and loss of awareness and love are felt by all of ours. We are perpetrators and we are victims. The winds of time and change merge into 
one and so do we.

There is a purpose onto heaven for all of this. It doesn't have to be ours to understand but there it is. And part of that is the destruction of the old to make space for the new. As challenging and as awful even unbelievable as this may seem.

As someone who is old, this gives me pause. But, I am more than willing to go through whatever I have to in hopes that someday, a heaven on earth can become possible and a newer kinder, more caring and loving world might exist.

"Do not be dismayed by the brokenness of the world. All things break. And all things can be mended. Not with time, as they say, but with intention. So go. Love intentionally, extravagantly, unconditionally. The broken world waits in darkness for the light that is you.”

L. R. Knost

To be creative means to be in love with life.   You can be creative only if you love life enough that you want to enhance its beauty,you want to bring a little more music to it,a little more poetry to it,a little more dance to it.


How do we choose to feel peace, make peace, be peace in our own hearts? It starts with each of us as individuals, each moment of every single day. 

Life is truly challenging for many,  many people in this world now.  
My own beloved oldest daughter was diagnosed last year with an already advanced, very aggressive, and unusually challenging form of cancer.

She is a remarkable and fierce spiritual warrior and she has withstood non-stop treatments without respite for a year and a half since diagnosis. She fills up my heart with her steadfast determination and fortitude amidst unbelievably challenging conditions. 

I hold her always in my highest heart and spirit and I pray for deep inner and outer healing and strength, with all the love and light and healing powers of all of the  highest angels of the most divine powers of God by any holy name.

"Blessed be the mind that dreamed the day
the blueprint of your life
would begin to glow on earth,
illuminating all the faces and voices
that would arrive to invite
your soul to growth.

Praised be your father and mother,
who loved you before you were,
and trusted to call you here
with no idea who you would be.

Blessed be those who have loved you
into becoming who you were meant to be,
blessed be those who have crossed your life
with dark gifts of hurt and loss
that have helped to school your mind
in the art of disappointment.

When desolation surrounded you,
blessed be those who looked for you
and found you, their kind hands
urgent to open a blue window
in the gray wall formed around you.

Blessed be the gifts you never notice,
your health, eyes to behold the world,
thoughts to countenance the unknown,
memory to harvest vanished days,
your heart to feel the world’s waves,
your breath to breathe the nourishment
of distance made intimate by earth.

On this echoing-day of your birth,
may you open the gift of solitude
in order to receive your soul;
enter the generosity of silence
to hear your hidden heart;
know the serenity of stillness
to be enfolded anew
by the miracle of your being.'

John O'Donohue, To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings

I am active in my own unique ways of trying to work with this incredibly challenging time in our lives, our changing country, nation, and world.

I focus on doing all I can to make it through them with spiritual thoughts, prayers, and deeds to create a place where we can not only survive turbulent times but prepare ourselves for the many challenging days and years ahead.

I focus on staying centered, filling my heart with gratitude for the gift of every day with my family--my three children, their partners,  and my four beloved grandchildren.

I know in my heart of hearts that I have been waiting for this time to come.

By Clarissa Pinkola Estes    

"Refuse to fall down.
If you cannot refuse to fall down,
refuse to stay down.

If you cannot refuse to stay down
lift your heart toward heaven
and like a hungry beggar,
ask that it be filled,
and it will be filled.

You may be pushed down.
You may be kept from rising.
But no one can keep you
from lifting your heart
toward heaven —
only you.

It is in the midst of misery
that so much becomes clear.
The one who says nothing good
came of this,
is not yet listening.

refuse to fall down"

~Clarissa Pinkola EstΓ©s~

Excerpted from The Faithful Gardener: A
Wise Tale About That Which Can Never Die

Peace in our hearts creates peace in our world. And that is our soul's create this peace by doing and being what we are called to do, and to be.

"Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I'll meet you there. When the soul lies down in that grass the world is too full to talk about." 



Michele Bilyeu Creates With Heart and Hands as she shares her imaginative, magical, and healing journey from Alaska to Oregon. Creating, designing, sewing, quilting, and wildcrafting... from my heart and with my hands.