Tuesday, June 07, 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 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.

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.

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 a daily phone call. They had the same 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 as he played on his quitar during our wedding 50 years ago during our Catholic Mass Wedding Service 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:

Oh the power of music to touch the soul.
The beautiful chords and melodies that make up the songs of our lifetimes.

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.

Rest in peace Daryl.
We love you and will never forget you.

Obituary/ Tribute for 
Daryl Stroschine 
1949 - 2022

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. by Ken Cartwright

Replayed from the original broadcast using

Monday, May 23, 2022


Ikigai is a Japanese concept meaning a purpose for being or "a reason to get up in the morning."

Everyone, according to the Japanese, has an ikigai. Finding this deep meaning, this purpose in life can vary for all of us and it can change as we journey through life. But it usually requires a deep and often lengthy search into one's self. And like all journeys, in the very end, it is often that journey that is more significant than anything, or everything one may do, or accomplish, or even achieve in their lives.

For the journey can often be the purpose. It can be the meaning and the reason for getting up every single day and allowing the spirit of wonder and expectation to enter. To focus the energy of being, the spirit of wanting to learn, to know, and to grow to enter. And then to access that deep inner energy, that drive, that creative impulse to center and to ground to become one with that purpose.

Pronounced :                                                    
"Uh key gay I"

For me, my 'Ikigai' has always been about using my gifts - physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally - in service to the greater self. And the greater self for me, is expressed in helping others. Sometimes, it has been someone I already know and care about. And sometimes it has not. 

Sometimes, people are directed into my path or found along my journey. Sometimes our meeting is for a reason, or a season, or a lifetime. I never know which until the path unfolds.

This journey has always been a challenging one for me. I always know what I had to offer and it can vary from day to day. I always know what I want to give, to do, and to be in a greater sense. 

But that has so very often conflicted with what I had to do, or to give, or to be in order to fulfill this purpose, this meaning, this greater destiny of spirit catalyzed into action here on earth.

The word "ikigai" is usually used to indicate the source of value in one's life or the things that make one's life worthwhile. Secondly, the word is used to to refer to mental and spiritual circumstances under which individuals feel that their lives are valuable. It is this combination that creates the spiritual impetus for doing good for doing that deeper spiritual impulse's purpose in this life, through love and not ego.

The term "ikigai" is composed of two characters : iki and kai. Iki refers to life and kai is a suffix meaning roughly "the realization of what one expects and hopes for."

As we mature, as we realize our own courage, our own deep need and our abilities to survive beyond all that which we think we are capable of, all that we think we can achieve, and are often surprised to discover that it might not have been what we originally thought we were meant to do, to give, and to be in this lifetime.

And so today, I share my doing, my passion, my being, in one tiny little form..creating from fabric and bringing forth the manifestation of a greater gift..the gift of love, of giving, of doing and creating. Not just for myself, but through myself for others. My reason to get up in the morning.

So, today I ground myself, my purpose, and my spirit with ikigai. I share this little embellished art quilt begun a very long time ago when my mother was still alive. My mother who loved all things Japanese, all things with deeper meaning, never knowing that one day, her own family, my own family with have members of Japanese descent that we love dearly marry into our family and begin the process and finalization of the healing of many wounds from World War II. 

A war that cost one of the five members of my Alaskan family his life by the hands of one once seen as the enemy but now seen as part of ourselves, our family, our earth, our humankind.

We gave up the anger, the blame, the polarization that leads to division and separation of our true spiritual self and our incarnated soul. It's not easy to stay in spiritual radiance. One has to always remember who we truly are and what it is we were sent here to this earth to be and to do.

I honor that journey, this earth, my life, and the grounding that I find along the way - that balances the darker shadows of life and its challenges as I always do.  I use.with the brilliance of the light, the sacred power of divine energy and that desire to do more, be more, and give more. 

One of those things in life that never fails to give me joy is creating.  All of these little quilts were begun during my work with the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative and my caring for my parents in my childhood home on Douglas Island, Alaska. 

I made and donated my 75 little 8.5" x 11" art quilts to AAQI from 2006 to 2013 for sale on site or at auction for them to earn money towards research funding towards finding a cure for Alzheimer's Disease.  The ultimate form for not remembering who we truly are. 

And perhaps for me, the ultimate reason for getting up with love and purpose each and every morning.


Caring for my beloved mother over the 9 years of her disease progression was an act of steadfast love and determination traveling back and forth from Oregon to Alaska as many as 4 times a year as I was needed by my dad who cared for her with the help of other family members the rest of the time. 

It was hard, hard work but still filled with love and joy no matter what, each and every day. And in between I sewed and donated my 75 tiny art quilts to AAQI. The most blessed and deeply personal work of a lifetime of service and volunteering with and for others. 

I treasure that journey of its purpose and its creation and I bring those energies into my new day. Quilting with grace and with purpose and with deepest meaning and joy.  

A journey and a process and a joy created with love 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 🤣

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 08, 2022

Celebrating Mother's Day

Our American holiday known as Mother's Day is credited to Ana Jarvis, from Philadelphia, who never married and never had children.

But Anna Jarvis still had a fierce devotion to her own mother. She began a national campaign to establish a national Mother's Day, beginning first in her own church, and then moving outward into others.

She was inspired by her own mother saying "that it would be nice if someone created a memorial to mothers".

Three years after her mother died in 1905, she organized the first official Mother's Day service at a church where her mother had spent more than 20 years teaching Sunday school.

By 1911 Mother's Day was celebrated in almost every state. And in 1914,  President Woodrow Wilson made the official announcement proclaiming Mother's Day as a national holiday that was to be held each year on the 2nd Sunday of May.

Today, over 100 years later, the former Andrews Methodist Episcopal Church is considered the official shrine to mothers around the world.

So, today as the shrine celebrates this anniversary, each mother will be given a white carnation...Jarvis's pick of the 'official' Mother's Day flower...her mother's favorite.

What is most interesting, is that while Anna Jarvis was passionately devoted to the idea of celebrating an official Mother's Day, she was also just as passionately against its commercialization!!

She detested store bought cards and believed that gifts should be individualized. She felt the era of the 'true' mother was rapidly disappearing and was adamant about the day as a celebration of the 19th century ideal.

She became well known for scathing letters in which she not only berated those who bought their cards but for whom the holiday simply had become an opportunity to sell cards, candy and flowers.

Before she died in 1948, she actually protested a Mother's Day celebration in New York and was arrested for disturbing the peace.

Like her own mother, Ann (a celebrated community activist) Anna Jarvis believed in her ideals and was willing to fight for them to the end!

💜Love you and miss you sweet mama 💜

Nell Grace Peltier Savikko
Sept.1, 1925
St.Martinville, Louisiana
Sept.8, 2013
Douglas Island,  Alaska

We celebrated my Mother's Day 2019 with wine and chocolate and beautiful fresh garden flowers and lots and lots of lovely plant starts and seeds to grow more flowers next year and many more years to come and a darling handmade and little hand printed stepping stone!
Picked, harvested, created or thoughtfully bought with love!

The next year I made sure each family celebrated their own person Mother's Day with their own little families and not necessary to celebrate me as a mother or Larry as a father. They are all working full time as mothers and fathers with parenting and pet raising. I truly want their days to be their choices of being, doing, and celebrating. That makes me so happy for them. 

So Mothers Dat is now  their day for each family's fun and of course Sunday doings and each family's own Mother's Day in all the forms that comes !

We can be mothers and grandmothers, aunties and foster moms, we can be mothers to beloved pets, friends' children who've lost their mom,  we can remember our own mothers and grandmothers and aunties.

But most of all we can take good care of ourselves and love and nurture our hearts and our spirits in all ways.

Happy Mother's Day Love to Mother's Everywhere

Links for creating lovely gifts ideas for Mother's Day:

With Heart and Hands: Links: 2,500 3500 4500 over 5000 Free Quilt Patterns!

Making Fidget Quilts, Aprons, Pillows, Bags for Alzheimer's Patients: 

Free Redwork and Embroidery Patterns



Making a Quillow

How to Make a Quillow 

...and fold it back into a pillow!

moms pink ribbon blanket.JPG

Celebrate Mother's in All Ways on Any 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.

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