Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Sleeping in the Forest

"I thought the earth remembered me, she
took me back so tenderly, arranging her dark skirts, her pockets full of lichens and seeds. 

I slept as never before, a stone on the riverbed, nothing between me and the white fire of the stars but my thoughts, and they floated light as moths among the branches of the perfect trees. 

All night I heard the small kingdoms breathing
around me, the insects, and the birds who do their work in the darkness. 

All night I rose and fell, as if in water, grappling with a luminous doom. By morning I had vanished at least a dozen times into something better."

"Sleeping In The Forest"
Mary Oliver
Poet extraordinaire

Snippets and Thread Tales 
With Heart and Hands from Michele:

And so we all return to life as we know it. We take deep breaths to center and ground ourself to the earth, we walk among the green things, under a canopy of trees.

We bid a final goodbye to someone we loved, now gone, and return our focus to the living, our families, and all that we yet need to do in this world before we too depart to sleeping in our own forests of our own beliefs, our own making.

I hold my young and very young grandchildren close, I read to them, make puzzles, draw and color, we play with toys their parents once played with.

I've learned to merge the past, present, and prepare them for the future. Just as all their parents do.
We have lots and lots of love and joy among life's challenges and sadnesses.

I look for and still can find peace.
And for that I am so truly grateful.  

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

Wednesday, June 22, 2022


I do not know whether I was then a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or
whether I am now a butterfly dreaming I am a man.

~Chuang Tzu

We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes
it has gone through to achieve that beauty.

~Maya Angelou

"Consider what happens to a bottle of water when it is left in the freezer. As it cools down, there is a steady, continuous change in its temperature.

The water won’t change much

in appearance until it begins to get near the critical threshold of its freezing point. Then, as it passes this, an extraordinary process happens.

Tiny crystals form, and when they do, other crystals form around those crystals, until there is a mass movement of crystallization in the water that rapidly changes state from liquid to solid.

This is discontinuous change.
With discontinuous change, a threshold is crossed where rather than just more of the same happening, something different occurs. There’s a jump to a new level, an opening to a new set of possibilities.

We might think it impossible that a small amount of water could crack something as hard as glass, but as the ice expands, it breaks the bottle."

Joanna Macy

“All life on Earth was created by tiny changes in molecules. An inestimable number of changes. Our bodies are miracles of transformation.”

"To find a fossil in a galaxy of rocks, you have to see in a different way. It’s called having a search image, a biological term. A search image is simply a picture an animal has in its mind as it looks for food or habitat. 

When an animal finds something that helps it survive, it fixes the visual characteristics of that thing in its mind. 

If it finds it again, the sharpness of the image improves, as does the animal’s chance of survival. Humans got where they are today with the help of search images, and we still use them every day.

 It’s how we quickly find our favorite cereal in a vast landscape of boxes.

Discontinuous change and phase shifts are the things of cocoons—metamorphosis. Most of us are familiar with the general concept of how a caterpillar will form a chrysalis then emerge weeks later transfigured into a butterfly. 

Less well known is how the caterpillar resists change. As it dissolves in its own digestive acids, the immune system of the cocooned pupa will attack the imaginal cells that are trying to transform it. In turn, a nascent imago will fall again and again into the soup of its former self. But this seemingly counterproductive immune response serves to strengthen the imaginal cells so that they can finally give rise to a winged, visually stunning creature.

Daniel Pinchbeck
How Soon is Now: From Personal Initiation to Global Transformation

"I have come into this world to see this: all creatures hold hands as we pass through this miraculous existence we share on the way to even a greater being of soul, a being of just ecstatic light, forever entwined and at play with Him."


We must remain as close to the flowers, the grass, and the butterflies
as the child is who is not yet so much taller than they are.  
We adults,
on the other hand, have outgrown them and have to lower ourselves to
stoop down to them.  It seems to me that the grass hates us when we
confess our love for it.  Whoever would partake of all good things must
understand how to be small at times.

~Friedrich Nietzsche

Grown-ups love figures.  When you tell them that you have made a new
friend, they never ask you any questions about essential matters.  They
never say to you, “What does his voice sound like?  What games does he
love best?  Does he collect butterflies?”
 Instead, they demand:  “How
old is he?  How many brothers has he?  How much does he weigh?  How much
money does his father make?”  Only from these figures do they think they
have learned anything about him.

~Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, 
From "The Little

It is necessary to write, if the days are not to slip emptily by.  How
else, indeed, to clap the net over the butterfly of the moment?  For the
moment passes, it is forgotten; the mood is gone; life itself is gone.
That is where the writer scores over his fellows:  he catches the
changes of his mind on the hop.

~Vita Sackville-West

Bees sip honey from flowers and hum their thanks when they leave.
The gaudy butterfly is sure that the flowers owe thanks to him.

~Rabindranath Tagore
"Stray Birds"

I blog on a Galaxy Note 9 mobile phone using only mobile data signal in a no wifi home.  Not easy but I am a determined woman who doesn't give up easily!

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

Friday, June 17, 2022

Land, Sea and Sky: There is Love

June 17, 1972

This year on June 17, 2022 my husband, Larry Bilyeu and I celebrate our 50th or "Golden" Wedding Anniversary.

Larry growing up in the small town of Mehama, Oregon and myself in the small town of Douglas on Douglas Island, Alaska. Larry and I were married at the "Shrine of St. Therese"a tiny forested island, past Auke Bay, about 25 miles north of Juneau.

This beautiful little Shrine was originally built by visiting Jesuit priests who came to the Diocese of Juneau to serve in territorial Alaska.

They found such beauty and so great the need for their services that several stayed and with the help of volunteers they completely built the tiny shrine out of the local beach stones on this tiny bit of land now known as "Shrine Island".

The Shrine is lovely, inside and out.

When the tide is in, the entire island is surrounded by beautiful blue water, except for the narrow 'walking-only' causeway.

We walked out from our wedding ceremony to the sight of eagles soaring above, whales spouting, and sea lions barking their congratulations. It was incredibly beautiful.

Now, there is this labyrinth walk etched in the sand where we once walked to the log cabin rectory on the mainland to sign our marriage certificate. And yes, we've been back and it's still lovely and weddings are still held there.

During our ceremony "The Wedding Song" by Peter, Paul, and Mary was sung and played on a folk guitar by a high school friend and at our reception a lot of Simon and Garfield and similar songs from that era. Somehow those beautiful songs filled hearts and souls as they were after all, new to many back then!

And yes, I made my own wedding dress! And each of my bridesmaids made theirs from fabric I bought and sent each of them in three different states as I gathered best friends from High School and College and included my youngest cousin who was so happy to be a bridesmaid!

Our dresses were all in different colors and were beautiful laces over satin, I even made my veil, covered my Bible with the same fabrics and carried a hand carved rose wood rosary.

Ah, the memories of a time, a place, the sounds, and the people. So many have passed on now, most of our guests, many of my own family even several who are younger than I am now.

You never know what paths and causeways you may walk in your life time. Who you will love and who you will remember.

I have since lost both of my parents, a sister in law who was there, and my dearest uncle who died a few months after he attended our wedding. Uncle Bobby's two sons were teenagers and his 12 year old daughter was my Junior Bridesmaid.

Love and pride filled his face and his heart that day. His one and only chance to see her all grown up in a long bridesmaid dress. It was a glorious day and a memorable wedding. And that day, that date, has only grown with memories ever since that beautiful day 50 years ago.

I rejoice in the wonderful memories of so many from that day, just as I grieve the loss of those who have since passed on.
For sadly, two of our best friends, mine and my youngest daughter's, passed away on this day, 25 years later in 1997. Terri Oldham was only 46. 

We met in college in 1969 as next door dorm mates and later shared acreage to each build our homes on and raise our children together. Terri and Greg's daughter Kelsy was only 12 when their family  was in a car accident en route to the 1997 summer Jr. Olympics where Kelsy was a cross country runner expected to win top honors in her division. Terri and Kelsy didn't survive though Greg and their two teen sons did. It was an unbearable loss for all of us.

Kelsy and my daughter were born 6 months apart. I was with Terri the night before Kelsy's birth and we saw her almost every day of her life as our girls were almost inseparable. Our other two children were closely bonded as well. This devastating loss broke our hearts and changed our lives and those of Greg and their sons forever.

While it also changed the memories of June 17th from our 25th anniversary on, it didn't change the love we felt for all who have been parts of our lives for whatever time we had with them. We treasured this family and all of our many shared adventures and experiences.

And now, it's not even surprising to me, that on this day, June 17, 2022 our dear friend, Daryl Stroschine is having his final big send off into the land, sea and sky with a memorial service in the tiny community church of Mehama, Oregon.

Larry and Daryl were best friends from Elementary School in Mehama, on through High School in Stayton, then off to separate colleges. 

Larry at Oregon State where we met and Daryl to Warner Pacific on a full athletic "wild and wonderful ride' of an adventure. Larry and Daryl would get together over the summers and as Larry's letters to me in Alaska can attest, he and Daryl got right back into their hiking, fishing and other adventures.

We continued to keep in touch through life's many challenges and Larry and Daryl never forgot phone calls on their shared birthday in November and in these many final years one to as many as three times a day phone calls!

Larry and Daryl shared a deep love of nature, and the outdoors. They hiked, camped, hunted and fished together throughout their younger years with lots of swimming up the North Fork River, or visiting their favorite spot at Shelburg Falls.

We sheltered Daryl (and Doobie his tiny lap dog) during the Santiam Canyon Fires, along with our own Mehama Kids/grandkids/dog/cat and even chickens.

It was a challenging time. The fires came within a 1/4 of a mile or less of their homes. Larry and I did all we could think of to keep spirits lifted and bodies well fed but the fear of losing not only their own homes in Mehama along with almost everything they owned was intense.

Daryl and I had deep talks over coffee about life, loss, and death. We shared a similar innate sense of natural spirituality, a love of the natural world, a love of arts and creativity, family and most of all love and pride in our grandchildren.

Daryl and Larry remembered decades of stories from their shared childhoods. What one had forgotten, the other remembered.

But in the end all was well, just like this rewritten, reused, and now rewritten with inclusions of Daryl's passing and connection to this anniversary post for Larry and I.

For in the end, the lovely and positive sounds, sights, and memories remain above all else and I am filled with gratitude for the good times and the lessons and treasures from even the saddest times.

Somethings never die. Beauty, art, music and love can fill up our our lives and our hearts forever.

Click below to hear this lovely song that was titled 'The Wedding Song' as it was often performed by "Peter, Paul and Mary" and this version by its writer/also solo performer on the folk group's own 25th anniversary.

The same song that Larry and I had sung by a friend, Geoff Rogers, as he played on his quitar during our wedding 50 years ago during our Catholic Mass Wedding service. Our service was performed by a traveling Jesuit priest in this beautiful place, special time, and never ending symbol of the timelessness of memories.

The song is just as meaningful and beautiful as ever.
The songs of that era are all etched forever in my heart.

Our professional and recessional songs played on his guitar by Geoff Roger's of Juneau Alaska was:

The beautiful chords and melodies that make up the songs of our lifetimes.

50 years later!

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.


Tribute Obituary/Memorial
Daryl Gene Stroschine 
 1949 - 2022
Rest in Peace
We love you and will never forget you.


Paul Toews of KYAC, a public supported small community radio station) in Mill City Oregon
"Honors the Life of Daryl Stroschine:

(And yes, that's my husband Larry who ended up at last possible moment being a call in radio guest)

Replayed from original broadcasting using mixcloud.

"Paul Toews asks why do we sing and play music/Daryl Stroschine responds." 
(Paul Toews and Ken Cartwright of KYAC Public Radio, Mill City, Oregon) 

Replayed from the original broadcast using Mixcloud.

Fathers Day in Memory and Deed

My Dad and I 
( 2010 )

From my journal/blog in 2010:

"I broke my wrist in Alaska on January's ice.  Dad had his 93rd Birthday and then 2 silent heart attacks not long after that.  

I cooked, cleaned, did laundry, and took care of both my parents with one hand for 3 months instead of physical therapy before heading back to Oregon.

I also kept up my blog, the best I could typing with one hand then correcting words needing upper case letters and punctions later.

It was one of the most challenging and meaningful experienes of my life. But the smile on Dad's face when I was able to visit him in the hospital speaks volumes about the  depth of our love and gratitude for one another and our lives."

It was the last birthday I ever spent with my father and I was so grateful I'd been there with him and my mom, broken wrist and all.

When I think back to my memories, our history as a family amidst each year, decade and era in time, i think of Father's Day today from all those years past. Then, I think about the true meaning, the value of our fathers in our lives, of our sons and all they mean to us in all generations. And then the history of holidays and just how they all came to be.

Many of us are familiar with the origin and history of Mother's Day and its linkage back to ancient goddess festivals, England's Mothering Sunday, the American political activist Julia Ward Howe, and finally Anna Jarvis's campaign from church to church to declare her devotion to her own mother.

But the history and origin of Father's Day is less well-known. I did a bit of research on this year's ago and  because of this I found that the idea of a complementary "Father's Day was the brainchild of Sonora Dodd, who first had the idea while she was sitting in church listening to one of these Mother's Day sermons in 1909.

She wanted to honor her own father, William Smart, a Civil War veteran, who was widowed when his wife died while giving birth to their sixth child. Mr. Smart was left to raise the newborn and his other five children, by himself, on a rural farm in eastern Washington state. Her father had raised them, as a single father, with many sacrifices and in the eyes of his daughter, a courageous, selfless, and loving man.

Sonora believed that if a single father had raised and loved children with selfless devotion as hers had, then those fathers deserved their own day of devotion, just as the mother's had. Thus, the first Father's Day, was actually intended for single dads who served as the only parent, and not all dads in general. It simply grew into the holiday we know it as, today.

Sonora's father was born in June, so she chose to hold the first Father's Day celebration in Spokane, Washington on the 19th of June, 1910. She had wanted the use his birth date but pending legislation was slowed down until President Calvin Coolidge, in 1924, supported the idea of a National Father's Day.

Eventually, President Lyndon Johnson signed a presidential proclamation (1966) declaring the 3rd Sunday of June as Father's Day. President Richard Nixon signed the law which finally made it permanent in 1972. In this sense, it is a relatively newer celebration, but one which most of us have celebrated throughout our own lives.

While other countries may or may not have their own versions of this day, some of the variations are quite interesting. In Germany there is no such thing as Father's Day but there are two terms and/or events of an older origin that while similar in name, have entirely different meanings. Männertag, is always celebrated on Ascension Day (the Thursday forty days after Easter), which is a federal holiday. Regionally, it is also called men's day, Männertag, or gentlemen's day, Herrentag. It is tradition to do a males-only hiking tour with one or more smaller wagons, Bollerwagen, pulled by manpower.

In countries with Roman Catholic tradition, Fathers are celebrated on Saint Joseph's Day, commonly called Feast of Saint Joseph, March 19, though in most countries Father's Day is a secular celebration and celebrated separately from the feast holiday.

In Taiwan, Father's Day is not an official holiday, but is widely observed on August 8, the eighth day of the eighth month of the year. In Mandarin Chinese, the pronunciation of the number 8 is ba. This pronunciation is very similar to the character "?" "bà", which means "Papa" or "father". The Taiwanese, therefore, usually call August 8 by its nickname, "Baba Day." In Thailand, Father's Day is set as the birthday of the king and thus varies from generation to generation of its royalty. No matter what your country, your culture, or traditions, today is still a special day to honor fathers everywhere.

On Father's Day, I honor my own father, who I loved and still miss so very much. A dear, dear man who lived a long life with incredible courage, strength, and steadfast determination to do his best for his family and for the state and country he loved so much.


coming and going: 2010

A good, hard working man, who was still working to fix up our childhood home in Douglas, Alaska up and into his last year at age 93, still working so very hard every day of his life care taking my mother who suffered from Alzheimer's, diabetes and was legally blind. Below is the photo quilt that I made for him.

I titled it  "Turning Ninety" , a variation of a "Turning Twenty" pattern.  As a WWII veteran, the father of 5 children, and a hard working and very dedicated and loving husband to my mother, and as someone who never forgot his and his brothers sacrifices for country and for family during WWII, I used photos from that time and from his courtship with my Louisiana French mother, who he met, fell in love with and married after the war years.

Because my mother was legally blind, but could see shapes and colors and could see details if things were large enough, or if she used a magnifying glass, I made the quilt pieces and photos very large.

They both loved it and treasured it. After their deaths, it came back home to Oregon with me, once more and now I treasure all of the memories of making it, of them and our lives together.

I honor my husband, the father of our three beautiful children, a man who in many, many ways reminds me of my own father. A man who in his 70s still works long, long hours during the day and often into the evening with hiring subcontractors and keeping track of billing. 

He enjoys continuing to be helpful to our son who has taken over the majority of responsibilities keeping our award winning green home building business "Bilyeu Homes" going. And best of all keeps our 2.5 acres mowed and hundreds of trees and shrubs pruned and flower beds weeded!

I honor my amazing Alaskan grandfather and uncles. Most are not in this photo. All men long gone but with amazing talents, skills, courage, and the perseverance to live and provide for their families with hunting and fishing in territorial Alaska as she slowly entered statehood and changed all of our lives.

My grandfathers,one Finnish, one French, both Immigrants from their native countries, who paved the way for their families during challenging times in their own worlds.

I thank them for all they taught me and all they gave in turn to all of us, their families.

I honor these fathers, and all of your fathers, your husbands, your brothers and our sons who are fathers now themselves.

Enjoy this special day and know, really know, just how much we all appreciate and love you!

With Heart and Hands: Links: 2,500 Free Quilt Patterns

With Heart and Hands: Free Quilt Block Patterns 

  With Heart and Hands: Free Quilt Block Patterns

 Father's Day Gift and Craft Ideas with fun and even quirky things to do with children or grandchildren, today or any day! No gift? Let your kids stay busy making one of these 😘

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

I blog on a Galaxy Note 9 mobile phone using only mobile data signal in a no wifi home.
 Not easy but I am a determined woman who doesn't give up easily!

(Imagine this woman being your wife, mother, or mother-in-law!?)