Monday, June 17, 2019

Anniversaries of the Heart

On June 17, my husband and I will have been married for 47 years.

Larry and I were married at the "Shrine of St. Therese".  Located on a tiny forested little island, in Auke Bay, Alaska. It is 25 miles north of Juneau, and was originally build by several visiting Jesuit priests who came to the Diocese of Juneau to serve in territorial Alaska.

They found such beauty and so much need for their services in the area surrounding Juneau, that several stayed.  And with the help of volunteers from the primary church and diocese in Juneau, they all completely built the tiny shrine of local stones on a tiny bit of an island.

This once unknown and rarely visited tiny spot in the ocean is now known and loved as Shrine Island, and can now be accessed by an improved highway, exit, and the little "pedestrians only" causeway.

When the tide is in, the entire island is surrounded by beautiful blue water.

On the Island, the beautiful Shrine of Saint Therese, named after the Roman Catholic Saint  Therese known and loved as "the little flower".

Inside and all around the Shrine both natural and man made beauty of all kinds creates a feeling of not just beauty but mystical wonder that such a place was built by hand in the 1930s by 2 visiting priests and a handful of volunteers.

Anything man made was created in Europe and shipped to America such as the statue of Ste.Therese, the Stations of the Cross or the stained glass windows.

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

The spiral is an ancient and sacred symbol, and as we trace its path with our senses it connects us with all there is, has been, and ever will be in a repeated patterning. This is why we are subconsciously drawn to many culture's ancient and enduring signs and symbols.

The labyrinth is walked by thousands of people a year who come out to view the beauty and feel the incredible energies of spirit that fill land, sea, and sky as animals gather without fail as blessings for all. Walking a labyrinth has been a deeply meaningful, often very spiritual experience..

During our own symbolic and magical wedding ceremony,  "The Wedding Song" by Peter, Paul, and Mary was sung and played on a folk guitar by a high school friend, (with The Love Theme from Romeo and Juliet for the Processional) .

During our reception 25 miles back to my town of Douglas on Douglas Island, a lot of Simon and Garfield and similar songs were perfotmed for our guests  from that era. Somehow those beautiful songs filled hearts and souls as they were after all, new to most 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. Handmade wedding in so many ways! 

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 cause ways 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 uncle (who died by drowning on a moose hunting trip with my dad) a few months after he attended our wedding  (his young 11 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. Now, that once 11 year old girl is in her 50s and about to travel to Africa and hike Mt. Kilimanjaro. 

Oh, the changes and memories of all of our lifetimes.

I rejoice in the wonderful memories of so many from that day, just as I grieve the loss of those who passed on.

For sadly, my best friend and her 12 year old daughter, our dearest and best friends in the world passed away , on this day..25 years lster. Friends since 1969 and neighbors for 20 here in Salem.

While it changed the memories of June 17th forever 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.

The sunshine and the shadows of our lives. The loss of many we have so deeply grieved and will forever grieve the loss of from our lives.

But in the end, the lovely and positive sounds, sights, and memories remain above all else.

The beauty and the joys of love, hope, promise that the sun rises on each new day just as it transitions each day back into night.

 I am filled with deepest gratitude for the beauty and my heart's treasuring of all of the beauty, joy, and laughter filled days and the lessons and treasures from even the sadder ones.

My heart and my spirit connect to the labyrinth of my life's journey. For just as I have traveled to my heart's forever home in Alaska, so to it travels back again to my life in my also very beautiful state of Oregon.

Here, we built our home together. We raised our three beautiful children. Here, too they found their own life partners. We attended their weddings, watched them and their families have children or beloved furkids, find and buy houses, face lifes challenges and experience fun and joy as well!


They blessed us with three grandchildren and furry grand dogs and cats to add to our own lives to love, as well. Time brings changes to all of our lives and day by day we deal with them the best we can.  We love, we care, we help and we share each day, and each new experience that comes.

Our family has
shared many, many wonderful times and beautiful days and faced many often seeminly unbearable  challenges.  We've had great adventures, visited lovely areas, camped, hiked, and canoed and kayaked our own Oregon, as well as  my Alaskan wonderlands.

The circles and the cycles and the spirals widen and deepen; but the greatest of all things remain.  

For always and always, among the good times and great fun, and deepestest and most meaningful experiences, there is love.. 

Peter, Paul and Mary - Wedding Song "There is Love" 

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.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

When Pigs Fly

The month of May started with a wild snort and a snuffle and an unexpected guest invading our home.

It was more of a May Day! May Day! than I'd ever imagined.

Little did I know that my house would turn into a bed and breakfast for some caged escapees and my house a pigsty.

This little pig tale began early in the morning as I heard a noise, glanced out the door and was startled by this charmer.

We don't entertain many house guests out here in our looney boonies other than family. And this one was a bit of a boar as far as guests go and didn't have much to say.

Before I could grab for my phone to call back up, he made himself right at home! After a quick tour through my house and finding no breakfast on the table (or even on the stove) he lost interest in my decorating style (well worn vintage) and more interested in my patio door and greener pastures.

He allowed an armed escort, as in my arms raised and wildly waving and me calling out "here piggy piggy" and finally "sue-y sue-y" or however I thought you were supposed to call pigs to come to you (my apologies to anyone named Sue)and yes, he headed out our back door.

Now, I've written extensively over the past decade of how animals love me. I've even blogged about one little Pomeranian who'd traveled 5 miles after being spooked by 4th of July Fireworks going off at nearby Volcano Stadium. Traveling from a Primrose Farm in Brooks not far from I-5 and down fields and farms and down a hodge podge of country roads to our house seeking refuge.

Stray or abandoned cats, dogs, discarded Easter bunnies, goats, a cow calming eating our entire garden and once I looked out onto our back deck to see a huge horse with his nose pressed against my living room window.

And there have been countless raccoons and possums glaring scary eyes at me in the dark as Inpeered out at weird noises on that same back deck. One night I saw a pack of three wild marauding dogs out in the pitch dark, casing out our chicken coop trying to break through the chicken wire. And then a few weeks later, a coyote leaping, pushing, and clawing at their coop door as well

We're a strangely popular night spot.

I clashed pots and pans lids to scare that coyote off. (I've learned to keep protective noise makers handy). The sight of me in red polka dot pajamas running at him (I'm sleep deprived and not in my right mind any time but especially at night) screaming and clashing pot lids at him had him off and running in a hurry!

My husband claimed he'd probably ran all the way to Silverton (5 miles away) before taking a a single breath. This after my clink and a clatter had him (the husband) jolting awake and ready to grab a gun and defend his hearth and home. (He was just surprised no one had called Noise Control on me!)

But this pig was cut (so to speak) from a different hide. Really, really friendly he was more of a high quality silk purse kind of a fellow.

After a small snack of frozen corn, he was happy to follow me into our fenced chicken field and eat chicken food pellets and cracked corn courtesy of Duke, our rooster and his girls, our chicken harem of Ping, Priscilla, Hazel, Nellie, Esther, Milly, and Clementine.

The chickens were not too happy watching as this pig consumed their personal food supply. They lined up at the fenceline and flew up on the gate in self defense and vocal protest.

Historically, May Day is not just about pagan rites of Spring and leaving flowers at doors. It is also about the commemoration of the struggle for fair labor practices and the Haymarket Affair of 1886. We had hay, we had piggies refusing to go to market and all of the hullabaloo was quite an affair!

We had a struggle of the species and the invasion of their chicken dance hoe and hay down and their fervent wish that this little piggy eat roast beef not their cracked corn, go to market, or at least cry all the way his own home, not theirs.

By early evening, our greatly spoiled pig guest had broken out, flew the coop and disappeared.
Without a break in any fence that we could see, he'd somehow flew the coop and proved the whole "when pigs fly " story entirely possible.

However, by mid-morning of May 2nd, he was back. He decided this was a five star b abd b after all. and he not only wanted more, he apparently sent out a pig song through the pig airwaves to call his tribe over for a visit.

Within 5 minutes he was joined by his brother, within 10 minutes they were joined by 2 sisters.

It was wild and crazy chaos. Four large, pigs all desperate for attention, scratching, and food. They loved us and if they hadn't been so big, such voracious eaters and far too many at once, we might have adopted the one who'd already gotten close to us inside and out.

But alas his little love affair with us was not meant to be. It was obvious they were on the loose and eventually would be found out and I was pretty sure the food and clean up was going to end up on us.

Our only evidence of its previous houseguests being rather large dark brown to black "cigar" shaped parting gifts. And while their tokens adorned our fields and flower bed, thankfully none were left as house warming gifts.

Moral of this story:

All's well that ends well.
The owner eventually showed up and while his idea of a pigsty was more of a reality than ours as he had more pigs yet at home and hadn't even noticed anything awry much less missing.

And our abode at least returned to its somewhat more peaceful and buccolic natural state of chick, chick, chick and "green acres is the place to be, farm living is the life for me" least for our chickens!

And all I can add to this curly tail of 3 days of phew was a final adieu......

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.