Wednesday, May 04, 2022

The Guest House

This being human is a guest house

Every morning a new arrival.
​A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

by Rumi

(Jalāl al-Dīn Muḥammad Rūmī)

Rumi believed passionately in the use of music, poetry and dance as a path to reach God. It was from these ideas that the practice of whirling dervishes developed into a ritual form. In the Mevlevi tradition, worship represents a mystical journey of spiritual ascent through mind and love to the Perfect One.

Taken from SELECTED POEMS by Rumi, Translated by Coleman Barks 

(Penguin Classics 2004)

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 01, 2022

Preparing for May Day 2022

The month of May 2019 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.

After all I am ALSO the blogger who's posted about my own chickens sashaying into my dining room and out again! Oh the life I lead!

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......

Other Pig Visitations

When Pigs Fly

Chickens and Pigtails

Green Acres

 Here You Come Again

And because I believe in Paying It Forward

So on the various days I Google my own name just in case I missed anything I've been up to (I am the woman who almost never sleeps) I also discovered before Easter long ago I was in various denominations Sunday Sermons! I loved that! I mean isn't that loverly?

And the most interesting places I found me included this:

Follow Michele Bilyeu blogs *With Heart and Hands* with Blogger's Friend Connect or Feedspot!

Started at #32/last at #44 out of the top 100 quilting blogs! So scroll down their list to see who is there before me then click on my blog link when you see it to come back and read about even more!

And well over 10 million views!

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, April 29, 2022

Earth Day 1970-2022

The 1960's were a decade of great change and intense social upheaval. It was marked by the untimely and violent deaths of John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy. It was an era filled with exciting new musical groups, strange yet exciting clothing, big hair, bigger earrings, taller shoes, shorter skirts and unforgettably wide bell bottom pants. It was the era of "Flower Power, Far Out and Feelin' Groovy" and there was someone, and something to watch every where you looked.

I spent my high school years from 1964-1968 in Juneau, Alaska and then traveled "south to the States" and college in Corvallis, Oregon. I remember well the intense and dynamic activism and social awareness many of us experienced during that time. My college classes included categories like "Black Lit" and "Poetry of War".  It was a strange and intensely exciting new world filled with dynamic changes and my first experiences with social activism and loud protests in my once quiet college campus against "the war'.  

The "war" meant Vietnam and the topic of the 'draft' struck terror in all of our hearts. I'd just met my future husband, Larry Bilyeu, at Oregon State University and he'd already received his official U.S draft card. Classmates from our hometowns--mine in Juneau, Alaska, his from Stayton, Oregon were already looking at a rapidly changing world and uncertain futures.

"What's your number?" was just as common as "What's your sign?" Your number meant your draft number and could signal the end to your college career, your hopes for the future, or even the end of your life.

Our "sign" was always the peace sign, above all else. You saw it everywhere, on everything. It was what we all wanted and what we prayed and lit candles for. Just as much as we cared for our rights, for human rights and for rights to either 'choice or life', we also cared ardently about environmental issues.

It was during the mid 1960s that Congress passed the Wilderness Act, and Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas asked, "Who speaks for the trees?" I remember reading in college Rachel Carsons, shocking bestseller Silent Spring (1962). I didn't read it 'just' to learn about environmental was assigned and mandatory classroom reading! 

I remember how much it pained me to think of all of the environmental damage we were so unwittingly creating... not only for ourselves, but our children and grandchildren for generations to come.

In was during the sixties, that Gaylord Nelson, a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, called for an environmental 'teach-in', or 'Earth Day' to be held on April 22, 1970. Over 20 million people responding to increasing interest in environmental issues, participated that year, alone.

Thursday April 22, is one of several recognized 'Earth Day's' and is celebrated by more than 500 million people and national governments in 175 countries. Senator Nelson, an avid environmental activist, may have taken a leading role in organizing that first celebration, but it is one that is taken up, on many levels, by many ages and groups, today. 

Eco-Ball at Riverfront Park, Salem Oregon
A grassroots community advocated project

Seen as more of a 'grassroots' celebration by many, and even protested and disapproved of by others, it is still the the largest secular holiday in the world, celebrated by more than a half billion people every year. Many cities extend the Earth Day celebration to an entire week, usually beginning on April 16, and ending on April 22. 

The unofficial Earth Day flag is the photo taken by NASA and submitted by John McConnell.

But according to 'Flags of the World' it is this ecology flag created by cartoonist Ron Cobb, published on Oct. 25, 1969 that is the Ecology Flag. Patterned after the U.S. flag with 13 stripes - alternating green and white. Its canton is green with a yellow Theta symbol. While originally sporting a symbol which combine an 'E' for environment and an 'O' for organism, it 'evolved' into the Greek alphabet letter for Theta. (Theta is historically used as a warning symbol.)

Whatever the symbol, the meaning or the intent, Earth Day remains a day of continued awareness, social and environmental responsibility and a continuing commitment to the stewardship of Earth as our home.

“This is for young and old who care about the Earth, its air, water, land and living things. We must change the attitudes and actions now destroying the Earth into those that will heal and build our planet.”

– John McConnell, Speech (1974)

“Earth Day is Nature's Day. A day of drama, dreams and dedication to the restoration, renewal and improvement of Earth's natural beauty and bounty." 

– John McConnell, "Celebrate Earth Day" speech at United Nations (20 March 1991)

 Michele Bilyeu Creates *With Heart and Hands*: Happy Earth Day 2021!

Our family marched at the last (pre-covid) Salem OR "March for Science" gathering at our State Capitol building and walking with pro-environment signs, dogs, children, and grandchildren.  

I wore and passed out my quickly made Earth Day eco-pins featuring a version of that eco-flag (made with felt with safety pins ) to family and friends. One person even walked up to with with an "Oh my gosh! I haven't seen one of those in years!"  It made my day!

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

Saturday, April 16, 2022

Prayers, and Prayer and Peace Flags Still Flying High

During times of intense national, global, or personal challenges, where I have often asked for shared prayers, and well wishes for even members of my immediate family, the designing of prayer flags has always been a natural progression of my fiber art.  

When I learned during the prayers flags from the many world religion books I was fascinated the amazing discovery of just how much seemingly disparate religions share in beliefs, stories and symbols, I realized that my need to be and to do continuing good in my world stemmed from innate beliefs and energies archetypically handed down by the many generations of my ancestral lineage.

All of my many interests and passion, my cultural and spiritually combined belief system and the deep inner knowing of who I truly was in my innermost being had led me to all of the places and all of the people who would come into my always interesting but still basically home centered life. 

 Creating peace and prayer flags from the simplest of fabric strips that I hang from trees or my prayer arch arbor outside and the prayer flag garland I created from vintage fabrics or Crocheted pieces I inherited as well as my inkjet printed words and quotes added such heartfelt love and joy in their use!

Then there is my Buddhist prayer flags specially delivered via two Quilting friends. Starting from an Oregon Quilter who moved to the city of Mungpoo in the Dar-jeeling District of the Himalayan mountains as she fulfilled her wish to truly study Buddhism in a Buddhist abbey with monks who sent me an authentic prayerful flag garland, which is always above my sewing projects on my little loft sewing table. We didn't manage to meet up at the Sister's Quikt Show as we'd hoped but left them with another quilt collector and his promise to mail them to me after their mutual visit in Oregon. 

They were a true delight to receive. Even is she teased me by asking me to forgive their musty smell as it was the wet and often humid monsoon season in Mingpoo. She also added that they were carried down the mountain on the back of a yak." Not sure about that but it made me laugh!

Rainbows are such a beautiful symbol of miracles and of hope as they always follow the rain. The rainbow and the dove are both biblical and ancient symbols of hope and peace as things we always, always need.

So today, I salute and pray for Ukraine and Ukrainian peoples everywhere. Bless you all and may God/ the Highest Powers of All and all that is Divine hold and strengthen and protect you with a multitude of Angelic High!

Praying for peace now as spiritual warriors is what all of us can join in and continously do. Be peace, live peace, send peace from and in your deepest being.

These original style prayers above (on one of my many surfaces displaying my special gifts or found objects) used to be free gifts mailed to those of us in the 1980s for encouraging further donations to "Free Tibet" groups in India comprises of displaces monks driven out by communist China long ago.  Sadly I have not received additional ones in a decade or two but gladly with prayer I hung or used as gifts to others .

But I love my lone surviving packet and these cloth ones above my hand-me-down 1940 or 1950s little folding table that once was our only dining table and now is my rotary cutting table for fabric for sewing, quilting or crafts. 

From the Himalayas to these special art flags that I created for Oceanside Museum of Art a number of years ago for a special gallery exhibition. Oh the joy of knowing my three prayer flags were flying high and being looked at by everyone from art lovers to gallery members to those with open and loving hearts spreading this simple but deeply meaningful art form.

I had followed the Prayer Flag Project blog for a very long time, and have loved all of the beautiful flags that everyone had created and shared their and shared many of my own there as well. The site is still there but no longer moderated or added to.

However, I kept my own bigger site going with its Prayer Flag Page as it has aways had the first and biggest compilation of the history of Prayers flags that someone used to rewrite even the Wikipedia entry. I can only hope my very ancient library angels and their books predating the internet are smiling!

It was a a delight to extend my thoughts, my prayers, and the making of my own flags to a greater, and deeper meaning as I created my prayer flags for submission to the Oceanside Museum of Arts Prayer Flag Project and their project submission, eventually to be included as part of this group! It is so incredibly sad that the group slowly dwindled down through the years where artists were giving up blogging and out of need focusing on their own time for making their own art. For me these flags are still being made and given as gifts to others during hard times.

My Oceanside Art Musrum flags were made on my own painted fabric with raw edge applique, beads and inkjet printing. They include quotations from well known sources on their fronts, and my own prayer flag blessings (in poetic form) on each of the backs of the flags to tie them into my themes.  

Knowing that my three prayer flags were flying high with so many beautiful creations,in California, I know that so much goodness and intent is being manifested during all of our personally challenging times and the challenges of Hurricanes and Super Storms on the East Coast. As we have since learned our weather pattern and the number of super freezes, storms, hurricanes and tornadoes have increased year by year.

We are all combining our energies of manifestation, and healing from East to West, and West to East and the thoughts and prayers of so many only intensify with the height, the depth, and the breadth that all of these external energies of rain, wind, and storm!

And throughout these heartbreaking times with the Covid-19 virus in its many mutations, prayers have only increased in need and sharing.

Blessings to all of you during our ever continuing times! And many happy blessings for a celebration of Easter Sunday, Passover, or even the original Oestre that those with Druidic,  Shamanic or the original pagan practices of ancient peoples still practice following their own beliefs, spiritual practices and innate roots to re-ligion which originally meant "to link back"!

However you celebrate this time of rebirth and renewal as Winter transforms into Spring-- celebrate with family, friends or loved ones and enjoy the beauty and sense of peace we all carry within. We will be with our family of 12 including our four beloved grandchildren and 4 dogs. The cats stay home as do the chickens!

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."