Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Treasures from the Deep

No, I haven't taken up deep sea salvage, this is about something entirely different.

I recently found treasure in our garden - treasure of an edible kind.  I was feeling particularly frustrated because I was struggling to get a new blade sorted out for the lawnmower, which seems to have become obsolete.  As I tugged the machine out through the crooked door of our old back shed something caught my eye, I looked down and saw an odd looking mushroom.  I'd seen pictures of ones like it - in fact I'd even seen some in the grocery store - they were called morels.

morels in the garden

As I looked I noticed more of them - probably 20 or so in total, strange looking alien things growing in the garden.  I had never seen them there before!  Something inside me told me that was what they were - morels - but I know better than to guess at whether or not a mushroom might be edible.  This is where the technology of today is really serving us -- a little research, a few questions and I was 97% sure that they were indeed morels and not 'false' morels which can at best cause stomach upsets and at worse can cause death.  Because of their elusiveness and flavour they are quite highly prized these strange blossoms from the darkness, sometimes selling for $40 or even $60lb!

morels in the garden

We decided to try just one, fried in butter to see what happened - oh sweet deliciousness!!  I couldn't describe the flavour, it was somewhat familiar, earthy, nutty, mushroomy and quite delicious.  These had much more of a meaty consistency than the usual mushrooms we get at the grocery store.  Seeing as we were still alive with no ill effects the following day we decided to cook some up for a proper a meal - pasta and morels!



What a complete surprise and wonderful treasure to have found.  Looking for information on morels it turns out they are a little mysterious - some people would say they are a yeast and not a fungus or mushroom.  There is no guarantee where they might pop up although it seems they favour disturbed land, land that has been cleared or suffered a recent forest fire.  I had done some clearing around the shed earlier in the spring, and trimmed some wood there in the fall and can only think that this is what caused them to grow.

I got to thinking about the mystery of their appearance, how such  treasures as this can appear from out of the dark earth and how this relates to life.  Treasures and growth can come from the dark places and times of our life - sometimes drawn out by disturbances to the routine and safety of our everyday lives.  Very often an upsetting experience, a loss, or breaking of something can allow us to grow, evolve and learn in unexpected ways.

My garden is a wonderful teacher!

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Signs of Life

Sunday morning, first Sunday of May.

I glance at the thermometer to see the needle hovering below 10 degrees as though it is stuck, held fast by a force I can't control.  It seems to be perpetually hovering below 10 degrees lately.

I look out of the window, raindrops cling to the needles of the pines, beyond them the sky is white-grey, no promise of sun.

I could sit and bemoan the slow procession of Winter handing over to Spring, the fact that the daffodils are shivering in their pale buds, the bloodroot are refusing to unfurl and it's colder than I would like....  But early morning is my favourite time of the day and this morning I decide to go in search of signs of life.

My walk takes me down to the canal, over the lock gate and onto a path that traces a spit of land built years ago that separates the canal from the river.  There are trees and shrubs and water on either side.

Signs of life - come on Louise, look hard, you are sure to be rewarded.

The first thing I notice are buds, green leaves ready to burst forth.


Spindly branches bouncing around in the wind making it hard to get a good picture.  All around me is the sound of birds.  Redwings calling to their mates, robins, grackles and cowbirds - sounding the alert 'intruder!'.

The beavers have been busy gnawing and dragging trees and branches -

It's easy to see their pathways from one side of the track to the other, bits of twigs left in their wake.

Their lodge is on the right hand side - if you look carefully you might see it.

Threads of geese fly overhead calling to each other 'can YOU see Spring?'

A heron swoops through, close enough that I imagine I can almost hear the air beneath it's great grey wings.

Signs of Life.

Fungi clinging tenaciously to thin trunks, I'm constantly amazed by how that survives the winter, the ice and bitter temperatures.

Horsetail is pushing up, it seems as though everything is holding it's breath waiting for sun and warmth, waiting to let go and explode in a boom of greenery.

At the end of the trail I come to a point where the river rushes by on it's way to the sluice gates and the next set of locks.  From here I can look upstream to the migratory bird sanctuary.  Looking for green, seeing grey.

I see two little birds sitting on a branch in the misty wind - at first I think they are chickadees because they are backlit and I can't get much detail. Then they fly around and I see they are a pair of swallows.  I  think they are building a nest in a dead tree trunk, there are holes in it and one of them goes to to check it out as if to say 'what should I do next?'.  Then they are off and up and soaring on the wind, blown like leaves of feather, and around my head and back to the branch and away again.  It was beautiful, and I need to remember - Spring always comes.

Tuesday, 31 December 2013

On Despising Goals and Resolutions.

Are you good with Goals and Resolutions? My name is Louise Ingram and I am not!

It's that time of year again. I feel like a school kid at the end of term, trembling with a report card in my hand. Feeling like I'll be lucky to garner a few C's - the rest will be even less acceptable. What makes it all the harder is that I KNOW I should be getting A's -- deep inside I KNOW I CAN get A's.

[caption id="attachment_1102" align="alignnone" width="300"]Hope I'm not getting graded on my 'growing out' hair too! Hope I'm not getting graded on my 'growing out' hair too![/caption]

I have Leonie Dawson's 'Amazing Year' planners and Jani Franck's planner for 2014 sitting here. These should be exciting, wondrous things to fill out so why am I not looking at them?

I have realised I have a HUGE monster hanging off my back. It's the 'you are just setting yourself up for failure!' monster. He's not pretty, he's loud and he's obnoxious and every year, at this time especially, he starts screaming in my ear.

Any time anything connected with goal setting comes up - he's there - eyes glinting with joy because he knows just how good he is. The worse thing about it all? He's right! Or at least THAT is what I've let myself believe.


Why set yourself up for failure? Why spend the year dreading that final report card that points out the long list of things I fell down on. My monster and I have a much better way - we drift. We drift along, take the good and the not so good and at the end of the year my report card is not so harsh. Since I didn't actually HAVE any goals, I haven't actually FAILED at them and there are even some good things that happened regardless. I may have even made a passing grade!

Of course there's a problem with all of this. I know it, even if my monster doesn't. There are actually several problems - not the least of which is the guilt that comes with not setting any goals. There's probably another monster involved there but I'm ignoring it at the minute. Everyone around me it seems is making lists, setting goals, dreaming big and I'm feeling guilty, beaten and a little scared.

I see what's happening, this monster is taking things and turning them into failures and weaknesses. I have given him the power to convince me that nothing good will come of opening those planners.

There is another voice however, it's much smaller and quieter at the minute - but it's talking to me - not about goals but about dreams. Those planners are for dreams! They are for the day to day dreams and for the really big ones. They are for the things that will make my heart sing when I write them down. The things that radiate joy when I think of them and the things that may or may not happen in the coming year.

The real report card I suspect does not come with admonishments on what we haven't done, but is instead covered with gold stars for each and every dream that we have had the courage to dream regardless of the outcome.


Without our dreams what do we have? If we don't dream we might miss some really important and wonderful opportunities just waiting to happen.

I'm going to try and give that monster a talking to, who knows, just maybe he'd prefer to be a dream coach instead of a Goal Grader.

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Green Man Dreaming

I'm trying to make a Green Man bead.

For a while now I've been wanting to create a male themed bead to balance my Goddesses, I'm working on Cernunnos, he's tricky in glass.  My head is swimming with the Green Man at the moment so I thought I'd try him as well.

Here is the progression of my Green Man design.  With glass it can be tricky to get one part looking good without simultaneously melting in something you've already done.  Concentration on one part of the beads can lead to letting another part getting too cool so that it cracks when it's re-introduced to the flame - it's all a matter of balance, patience and nerves of steel!

1st attempt at a Green Man bead

This is my first attempt.  I was thinking of a stone face with leaves bursting forth.  This is not what I had in mind.  He looks impish which I guess is ok, but I don't like the way the bead looks as a whole.  I decided to try again.

Second attempt Green Man Bead


I like this one rather more, my sculpting is better but I don't automatically think 'Green Man!' when I look at him.

3rd Attempt Green Man Bead


Number three faired no better, he's just not quite what I really want.  I think it's time to loose the idea of a light coloured face.

Fourth attempt Green Man Bead


This one was a deviation and I rather like it - no worry about sculpting a whole a face, it has more mystery associated with it, all in all I rather like this one.

Attempt 5 at a Green Man Bead


My fifth attempt is heading somewhere!  I've been pulling leaf canes, which are strands of multicoloured green glass that add a little more dimension to the leaves.

Attempt 6 at Green Man bead


Yes, I might be on to something but I think I need some larger leaves in his face and a bit more contrast in the leaves.

Attempt 7 at a Green Man Bead


Ahhh!!!!  Getting closer!!  I actually rather like this one, I need more practise with the larger leaves.

Attempt 8 at a Green Man bead

This is number 8!  As far as I have got at the moment.  I want to make some leaf cane with a bit more orange in it and some that is maybe a bit darker, but I feel like I'm beginning to get the idea behind this design.

Bit by bit it comes together, each of these beads with the leaf cane in them took about an hour to make, first I have to wind the molten glass onto the mandrel and then shape the base bead.  Next I inset the eyes and outline them with leaf cane.  A rudimentary nose gets put in place as does the lower lip.  From then I work from the outside in, slowly laying down leaves and building up the design, the last thing is to finish off the nose.  Then I flip the bead over and work on the second side, I've decided for now to use my new stamps for this - I have an acorn, oak leaf and star/sun design.

It's definitely a challenge.  In my head is the most gorgeous glass Green Man bead - I don't know if I will ever make it, but I'm having fun trying!



What a difference a day makes

[caption id="attachment_998" align="alignnone" width="700"]Yesterday Yesterday[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_1003" align="alignnone" width="700"]Today Today[/caption]


[caption id="attachment_999" align="alignnone" width="700"]Yesterday Yesterday[/caption]


[caption id="attachment_1002" align="alignnone" width="700"]Today Today[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_1001" align="alignnone" width="700"]Yesterday Yesterday[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_1000" align="alignnone" width="700"]Yesterday Yesterday[/caption]


[caption id="attachment_1004" align="alignnone" width="700"]Today Today[/caption]

Yesterday, sunny, cold, crispy.  Today misty, still, blanketed.







Monday, 18 November 2013

Perhaps we are dreamers

Dreams are curious things, I woke up this morning with what seemed like dozens of fragments of different dreams in my head.

The more I tried to pursue them the further away down squirrely tunnels they fled.


Sometimes I can remember my dreams clearly, other times I'll be able to grasp at a meaning that seems to make sense, or a dream will impart heightened emotions that bring me to tears or great joy.  There have been occasions where my Dad has visited me, once in glorious HD, hyper real as though I were seeing him through the eyes of an eagle, more real than I ever saw him in life.  He let me hug him to prove that he really was there and he was a solid being as real as any I encounter when I am awake.

“All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream.” ― Edgar Allan Poe

Dreams are a mystery. 

Tim Freke suggests also that life is a 'dream'.

Life is a dream for the wise, a game for the fool, a comedy for the rich, a tragedy for the poor.
Sholom Aleichem

What is life? A madness. What is life? An illusion, a shadow, a story. And the greatest good is little enough: for all life is a dream, and dreams themselves are only dreams.
Pedro Calderón de la Barca


I rather like Tim Freke's idea of living lucidly, I know that when I feel connected a wonderful sense of joy and love fills me and wonderful things start to happen.
Row, row, row your boat,
Gently down the stream,
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily,
Life is but a dream.

Several things come together when I think of dreams, fleeting thoughts of how the universe might really be, questions that will forever remain unanswered, in this lifetime at least.


Are we the dreamers dreaming the dream?

The Shapers shaping the shapes?

Energy beings riding the cusp of a wave of creation and expansion?

All of the above?  None of the above?  Will we know the answer one day?  Do we hold the answer now?

Ahhh the mystery of Life.

Monday, 11 November 2013

Ten Things to Help Unblock

Here are ten tips that might help if you are feeling blocked.

We've all been there!  Frustration clouding our minds, that feeling of having come to the end of any creativity we may have had and comparing ourselves to other things and people we see.  Feeling not up to it - feeling not good enough - feeling blocked!


I've been feeling that way for a few weeks now.  I had been excited about setting up and getting to work on what seemed at first to be a brilliant idea 'The Blue Sky Caravan'.  Then it happened, little things chipped away at my confidence, wheels started spinning, progress came to a halt - I was stuck in the mud and that caravan was too heavy to push!

An email got me thinking and led to this post.

Overnight my blocks seem to have cleared, I'm feeling enthused, full of ideas and understanding a little more about the process.

Here we go - ten tips if you feeling blocked!

  1. DON'T PANIC!!
    I realise that many times I am feeling blocked and unable to make progress there is a very good reason for it - its because I am learning something!  Sometimes I don't even realise that I am learning something, all I see is that I'm not progressing the way I want to.  When I make my beads I seem to go through fits and spurts and now I understand why.  The times I am unsatisfied and feeling stuck are actually the times that new ideas are percolating, or I haven't perfected some technique I want to.  Then all of a sudden one day something clicks and onward I go.

  2. Try seeing things from a different perspective.
    Its so easy to get stuck looking at the block the same way over and over, and not being able to see through it.  Step back and look at it from a different point of view.

    [caption id="attachment_882" align="alignnone" width="300"]perspective Graphic courtesy of https://www.facebook.com/science.alliance.now[/caption]

  3. Make a list.
    Writing down the thing that is blocking you and breaking it into small parts in the form of a list may help.  You might find something small in the list that you can do to help you move forward. Perhaps it's just one thing that is holding you back.  Remember that saying - "Rome wasn't built in a day"!  However tiny the steps may be you'll be making progress.

  4. Check out what others are doing.
    Search the web, look in magazines, or around in your community.  Notice what others in your field are doing - there's no need to copy, you'll likely find some ideas come to mind that will connect with what you already have and give you a bit of a boost.

  5.  Switch it up!
    If its possible take a break and do something different.  Focussing your thoughts on something else for a while might be just what you need.

  6. Don't Compare.
    Try hard not to compare yourself with others doing similar things.  Don't fall into the trap of  'its all been done before' and 'I have nothing new to offer'.  Nobody would do anything if we all believed that.  You are unique and if you follow your heart then the things you create will also be unique.  Life is for creating!

  7. Try Brian Eno's 'Oblique Strategies'
    There's an online version here - don't dismiss what you get out of hand, think about it from different perspectives.  I just tried and got 'twist the spine' - my spine? a book spine?  a leaf spine? What kind of twist?  How can I put a different twist on something.

  8. Just DO IT!
    Is part of the problem procrastination?  Is there something you need to get done that you keep putting off?  Is this what is stopping you from moving forward?  Yup, like the magnet my mother gave me 'better to do it than wish it done!

  9. Take a walk in nature.
    Yes, something as simple as walk can help.  Nature offers much advice, all we need do is connect and breathe, think of the miracles of the season you are in and remember that even Nature takes a break in Winter to let things germinate. If you don't get unblocked you'll at least be guaranteed to come back with your mind feeling refreshed.

  10. Still Stuck?
    Know that you are in the 'now', this is where you are supposed to be and things will progress as they should - give yourself credit for everything you've already achieved.  No-one else on this entire planet has done or can do things exactly the way that  you do!  Its hard to be patient but know that as sure as you got stuck you will also become free.  If you honestly can't do anything to move forward right now then take some time to be kind to yourself in whatever way seems best.  Take a look at these famous folks who overcame adversity and you just might find your roadblocks are really only pebbles.