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November 2020

fulfilling my RED intentions .1

RedscrapingI chose to do my informal sketching in an equally informal botanical sketchbook. Decided I'd scrape pure red acrylic gouache as a simple background and work with a graphic arts pen I keep on my coffee table work space at all times. Simple and back to basics.  Used the scraping opportunity to start out skimpy with the red areas/paint load and then let the vast array of empty space gradually build into something more solid.  I created an ongoing spontaneous meditation on the red square/root chakra work I've been doing all month as I sketched. 

ArchangelicarootI knew I wanted to sketch an Archangelica angelica root but instead of sketching it three times I worked from three separate reference images.  Lysdexia was making longer term concentration quite challenging.  You can see a vestige of it in the fact that I got the botanical name of my favorite plant inverted. 

Dongguiroot While sketching dried Dang Gui I recalled an amazing Chinese herb shop that used to be on Harvard Street in Allston.  And finally I drew a close up of tiny hairlike A. archangelica rootlets because they are so much fun to create with marks of many kinds.



Then I celebrated roots in a different way.  It was something I'd been meaning to make time for throughout this month and then once my body began foretelling today's torrential rain I just let myself curtail plans & ambition and instead reconnect with an old friend:

Wildroots  I adore this book equally for the information it contains and the marvelously sensitive pencil drawing of innumerable root systems.  Sat here on the dreaming couch and dropped all the down into my own sense of rootedness.  Memories of sharing this book and actively building community through book sharing more generally.  With each flip of the page I felt infused with the energy of so many herbal root systems holding so many personal and dreaming memories.  Time very well spent.

AngelicarootFor the A. angelica root example I decided to include some of the text to show a snippet of the author's voice and level of information provided.  It can be tricky to find a copy but well worth putting on a someday/quest list as well as searching down through inter-library loan. The pencil drawings are exquisite throughout.

DaylilyrootsDaylily. He really gives the root systems room to breathe on the page and I love that about the layout.

SpikenardrootSpikenard.  I love the tracery skeleton like shape suggestive of a human heart...

Every single page is a journey in drawing sensitivity as well as technical skill and a killer plant geek's eye.

SunnycoyotesquareThere's a part two for this topic involving glimpses of what I discovered when I went on a dedicated & specific search for ORANGE and discovered some additional significant RED instead.

chakra deep dive shortcuts

RED (root)       ORANGE (sacral)       YELLOW (solar)


 BLUE (throat)     INDIGO (vision)  

VIOLET/GOLD (crown)     BLUE-WHITE/SILVER (earthstar)

There are a few relevant posts on my main blog as well.

The collage challenge I guided last January has been returned to the blog in full.  This includes a number of prep and example posts I shared to build the energy throughout last December.

a state of relative peace & beauty

[eta:  every Thanksgiving season I seem to linger over deep appreciation for my grandmother Pearl's lasting and largely positive influence.  Today I'm bringing back a post about one of her small crib quilts.]

MoonunretouchedA lucky blur of a totally inadvertent sky capture through my dining room window at 12:30 a.m. this morning. The swelling moon is beyond the scrim of clouds on the left.  Also love the uplit burst of illumination caused by massive floodlights at the barn across the road.  Foxes are afoot.  In some kind of migration to locate "better" birthing dens where there's less human proximity.  This is the best guess of a friend who knows foxes the way I know their larger cousins the yotes.  During this time of year the latter recede into deeper woods and other reclusive stalking grounds.  The foxes quite promptly expand their summer territories accordingly. 

As soon as I saw the image above on my phone i started picking paint colors for both acrylics and watercolors.  Am making a point to have fun in my current sketchbook at least three times a week so this will be a good working inspiration on many fronts.

ThreepartoutcomeA few days back I had the brain storm to limit the scope of my card readings to something simple and standard:  where do I need to go next creatively?  Previously I meant that but asked the wrong and far more expansive question:  how do I synthesize everything cogently? The cards I pulled routinely included a sizeable number of major arcana that were clearly related to everything-everything.  It was overwhelming to try to translate that back into a response to the answer I meant to be asking.


Above:  I follow the practice of pulling three cards for the outcome position if the first two are minor cards.  Below:  The reading had just one major after months of anywhere from 4 to 7.

PriestessbotswanaMy streak of 'always' having this card brought to my attention continues.  In this context it's confirmation of something I felt it was important to expand despite the tweaking of contraction it will mean in other places. 


Next Thursday heralds the official beginning of second chakra deep dive contemplation.  That means our color based explorations will relate to the color ORANGE.

The second/sacral chakra corresponds to the element of water.   Common human relational associations include:  

Change     Movement     Flow

Sensation     Pleasure     Emotion

Need     Desire   Sexuality

The Shadow

Guilt     Duality

The sacral center's chief operating force is the attraction of opposites


WELL.  Since we've all been forced to live in Opposite World for far too long to keep our sense of foundational support vibrant and fully functioning-----what oh what are we to make of the utter mishmash going on collectively as well as more privately in the arenas suggested by the categories listed above? 

We are going to make Orange-ness of course!!  In a couple days I'll begin posting with prompts you customize by choosing a small selection of the most personally relevant categories.  What you make will be amplified by however you choose to answer the question I asked.  There's a broad scope of DEEP water involved with the organically fluid nature of our sacral center.  Much of what we may encounter there - especially in today's world of degrading the sacred and elemental natures of our individual and collective humanity - may prove far from pretty.  But one of the rudimentary powers of ORANGE is that it's a very powerful mood elevator. 


I am not personally done with RED in that I wanted to complete and share my Red Root endeavor.  I just haven't felt very rooted at all.  So I may wind up sharing a sketch - possibly done in oil pastel - rather than the paint and collage rendering I have in my mind's eye.  Because I do want to get at least as far as manifesting a sense of my personal survival root in a relatively glowing and love-infused form. 

we'll see.

Note: This particular 'blank space' sensation may be easier to re-imagine as time goes on for ever so many reasons.  If you wanted to do that exercise but haven't been able to get it going try a very basic simple lined sketch or three. 

Further Note:  If you're new to sketching or simply don't do it very often mainly because you think you "aren't good enough" at it -- try to successfully encourage yourself to make three sketches of the same idea or reference material in one go. 

Readingover[selfie and writing snippets created during this morning's wee hours]

I look so much like my mother in this picture it's ridiculous.  Additionaly I'm pretty sure this is what I look like most of the time up here in the studio.  Maybe also plenty of other places even/especially when somebody's trying to talk to me about something else.  

  All of which suggests  writing's going well.  Am currently working on a lot of interstitial connective tissue sort of segments.  It's more technical on some levels as well as a lot more challenging in others.  I suck on the inside of my bottom lip a lot when I'm thinking.  Did somebody mention thinking?

[note.  end of second line should read that SHE'LL go off about. Pride IN rather than from in the third graph etc.]

ThatsfairCarter's parents were raised together.  Their mothers were best friends boomers who thought if you put kids where you could visually keep track of them you could otherwise 'safely' overlook them in favor of your own socialization needs.  Hence Vic taught her to read when she was four then encouraged her to keep it a secret until she was meant to begin learning in first grade.  And so forth.  When Jessie was 7 her parents died in a car crash and she was adopted by Vic's parents.  They were both told they were now brother and sister.  This became a problematic household edict once they were in their mid and later teens respectively. 

Hence Carter.  And now a few decades later, beginning to learn what it might mean to become a couple together during a very different season of their life.

The heart to heart above takes place on a road trip just prior to the official start of Northeast's hunkering season in very early March.  In part the trip is designed to meet Carter's new guy who's both quite similar and very different from him. 

Below Jessie gets to know her soon-to-be son in law (none of them realize this yet) by learning a bit more about what it means when he says he's not a morning person.  [there's a context for the Fallujah remark.  He's the one that 'mentioned' the topic - to himself.]



One of my most vehemently entitled to 'call it like I see it' email trolls gets really bent out of shape whenever I post these snippets.   Don't I realize my idea of "writing" is strictly draft quality work?  And such dross that I mistake for "work" often contains typos and grammatical errors?



I could?  But why bother.


hope all the other uber-weary stateside peeps who read here are having themselves a bit of a kickback holiday weekend despite the low-key disembodied nature of many families'  time this year.  I feel plenty of gratitude for plenty of things.  And have more than enough of everything I love as well as what I need. 

Plus the best possible good fortune:  to have my adult son right here for this particular holiday and those in the foreseeable future.  We are so much MOST grateful for his return to good health.  Although a lot rests on his ability to stay healthy and the six month check-up to see if that's happening. 

even within that caveat.  living with him well enough to make jokes, climb the stairs to the studio so that we might spend more time just the two of us (and the cat of course) talking together.  Having him well enough that I feel at liberty to mother-harass him into picking out a new winter jacket and some decent winter socks, asking him more complicated questions about his various political takes and concerns and of course the all important maternal let's-get-some-of-these-empty-juice-bottles-off-the-floor kind of thing.

that's A LOT at a time like this ...

simple magic: red square realignment

BookofgridsJust for context I worked in the book above to create today's exercise.   The page on the right contains four antique aluminum christmas ornaments and five I painted so I'd still have a few reserve relics from my childhood.  PaintedandmetalAm trying to make each page the right combination of soothing low-pressure layering and challenging myself in some way.   Am working quite slowly page by page.  It's my favorite way to accomplish something memorable and fun to review.

NeongridblgIn the process of thinking about RED there have also been a lot of thoughts and some talk concerning squares.  I had the idea I wanted to work with red squares that were smaller - like Liz - and spoke to my particular favored reds - like grace.   In the 'me' quadrant I visualized working with different size squares.


Yesterday afternoon - when I knew what I wanted to create - i was not in the right headspace to focus-into.  But I was definitely prepared to consider the root chakra's primary RED imperative: Survival.  While also feeling precious little of one of the bright red color ray's greatest blessings: Stamina.  Yesterday I took a break from writing and quickly gathered a few magazine tear-outs and book pages with tints and tones of red that most caught my eye in a stabilizing and emotionally strengthening way.

RedroughlayoutFirst I visualized all my personal red square disarray and then further visualized it slowly liquefying into pure color.  I imagined setting the color in a kettle above a sacred fire to cook down into itself.  At the same time I imagined releasing attachment to individual fear-driven moments and emotional debris (recall FEAR is the destabilizing emotional challenge of our sacred ROOT) that no longer had a home.  The color in the kettle had become a sacred space unto itself.  I free-cut squares (so I guess I ought to call them 'squares' ...) and thought about this month's internal evolution so far.

In the very beginning of the month I asked myself to visualize the damage I perceived to this energetic center at a personal level.  I saw it as a rusting stop sign shot full of bullet holes.  Then I perceived a lack of fear in approaching what remained.  I visualized putting everything in a scarlet colored velvet sack and hanging it in a closet.  Today when I first got out of bed I mentally approached that other-dimension closet and took out the sack.  A few hours later I created my vision of personal realignment as it feels possible and most cogent at this time.

RedsquarerealignmentThe largest and most resilient squares attract the smaller pieces.  Everything is falling into place even if the eventual form can't be interpreted clearly at this time.

I live in a state where the rate of doubling is making itself known. At a nationwide level some very frightening Covid-based things are happening.  The root chakra corresponds, in part, to the human immune system.  Think about what sort of root vegetable you might have on hand.  Nourish yourself as you consider what kind of root/red square-based survival enhancing realignment you can begin to put into energetic place as you work to create this simple but highly effective collage project.  Plan to make time to give yourself the treat of a fresh brothy noodle soup with plenty of garlic and ginger.

Today I'm bringing back a post from early last March.  Back at the beginning of collective root chakra High Alert energy.


Red Square .2

Above is an altar cloth I made many years ago for the first series of chakra intensive workshops I lead at a local herbal apothecary.  Nineteen years seems both a long and short while ago.  As you can see the cloth's constructed very simply to yield squares within squares.  This suggests that even something as straight forward and pragmatic as a square can be amplified to further suggest layers of stability.

Redsquareoncoffeetable Today I put the cloth on the coffee table workspace here in my studio.   It seemed like a good day to clear the table entirely and re-build something new to keep me grounded in the face of ongoing mental duress and emotional/psychic wear and tear.  Once I put the cloth down and appreciated it for a few moments I started where I always start - with a simple True Thing.

WhiteappophylliteI wandered around looking at the what I've gathered in other little sacred spaces throughout the room.  From them I selected this stone containing gorgeously luminous rosettes of white apophyllite.  It was a very overcast day so it's hard to appreciate how much this lovely stone sparkles in the hand.  Apophyllite awakens spiritual joy and strengthens our sense of loving universal connection & illumination. 


I placed it in the middle of the central red square.  Note the stylistic reindeer.  They remind me of cave and rock paintings so I chose them to represent the first chakra wheelhouse of Ancestral roots and connections.  Taking joy in those connections.  Daring to imagine at some point in time taking joy in being an American citizen again.  AGAIN.

FoodandsightOnce I've isolated a single true thing I like to find two other objects that create a sacred triune.  I decided to give that level of re-considered attention to nourishment and clear sight.

Gradually throughout the day I re-positioned various tools and small baskets of meaningful stones & shells.  Every time I made a choice I took the extra time to re-appreciate the items and occasionally use a few.


These are tender delicate times.

find something vibrantly red and create a modest self-regulated stronghold for representations of things you value and know to be true.

give yourself time to hold yourself steady in contemplation.

tune out the noise until you're able to start remembering what that feels like:

authentic inner silence. 

our world may have started with a bang but the universe is a place of immeasurable silence.


Today I'm bringing back a light and shadow kitty guardian.

collage & paint in visual journals


Whatisaliciacomplete Awhile back I expressed my sense of disconnect to collaging.  It seemed too much like what my brain was trying to do the rest of the time  in the endless task of making some type of personal sense out of the world around me.  Both activities create narrative from disparate form(s) and that part of my brain got exhausted for a relatively long bit of time. 

I know I posted about this page after it took me forever to glue down What Is Alicia and the red flower on grey scraps.  Can't locate it right now though.  But it's taken me since whenever that was to gather an answer to the right scraps to answer that question.

CovidsptradIt took a long time to complete this narrative as well.  now it speaks well of the ragged beauty to be found despite the menace to ongoing equilibrium.  Bright emerald green is the color of healing physically and returning to a more organic form or other rendering of our individual life force. I'll add orange paint pen strokes to the blank spaces in the paint scraped background.

ReleasethehealingAdded the collage elements above the day of that weird Four Seasons press conference. In the flower essence realm - daisies offer us help in synthesizing overwhelming amounts of information from disparate sources.  I feel like that ability broke in me some time over the past week and I'll use the rest of whatever collage emerges to piece together something more sustainable and simply wired.


ThingscelestesspirtCeleste was a very special cat who was part of our family for 23 years.  Over the past weekend J, T, and I buried her ashes in a special memorial plot we created back in the spring.  We took our time finding the right moment and garden space.  I feel a lot more confident and less overprotective now that the space is fenced.  I still miss her intensely from time to time but the ongoing sorrowful yearning part of the missing has dissipated. 





Today I'm bringing back this post about a favorite sketchbook from '19.  I thought it was '18.  That's how long this year feels.  It's kind of freaking me out that the collage challenge was only 10 and a half months ago.  How can that be true?  Time's the thing that's changed the most it often seems to me ...

oh noes. another writing post.

ElectionnightQuite awhile back I posted concerning my sense that I would find myself unable to focus during the active part of election day season.  Especially the denouement which I think we all realized was likely to turn into a tantrum leading know-where of truly epic proportions.  I figured I'd be distracted by all of that and hence unable to really care about fictionland.  Instead I had that reality for three weeks prior to the election.  Then the day came.  It went how it went up to the point where I realized I didn't want to keep track anymore. I knew (didn't everyone?) that if I kept tracking it I would bear witness to some type of false declaration of victory.  Really glad I gave what happened a pass.  Instead I  lit some incense, smudged the entire downstairs of my home, and booted up my computer.

After I smudged the entire downstairs of our home following all three of us having any number of emotive preaching to the choir moments throughout the evening - I opened my laptop to write an email to Franklin concerning his most recent notes on the first section of the book.  But once my machine was ready I found I couldn't face the internet even if all I was doing was sending an 'unrelated' note of gratitude - and concurrence - to a friend.  So I opened a new word file and started writing pure first draft material for a technically and emotionally difficult part of the story.

Pictured above in fragment form:  There's a portion of the story where I knew Carter was going to convince his life long friend, Cici, that they ought to lose their virginity together.  He's been working on his pitch for who knows how long but he's not very good at delivering to a gobsmacked Cici who perceives the entire idea is strictly his idea and it makes her see him in a light that's very uncomfortable.  They are used to hivemind unity first achieved right before they turned five. 

It begins with Carter appearing out of context (he's supposed to be at Andover but the experience isn't 'taking') to broach what for her is an out of context subject which he then proceeds to pitch.  He makes it clear this is pretty much the only thing he's had on his mind beyond busting out of Andover permanently.  Cici doesn't feel the same way at all.  In fact she doesn't have feelings sexually except for herself.  And he's her best friend since they were four.  And he's absolutely crushed she didn't interrupt him in order to save the both of them, as she usually does, because he on his end imagined she was on the same page.  They're sixteen and a half.  Standing out in the middle of the main drag of their hometown.  Friends and other known associates driving by honking and waving.

And so she instinctively realizes she has to get them both off that street to a calmer place because she's going to tell him the truth about why she thinks it's a terrible idea.  And she does.  And he listens.  He's heard of this type of mono-sexuality before.  It gives them both a frame to go on with the difficult conversation.   She points out she's telling him because it's the most intimate and vulnerable part of her that he doesn't already know.  And that this is what she has to give him.  She tells him things that bring her friend back and he becomes a piscean waterfall of empathy.  Even though neither of one of them cry, that part was quite weepy to write.  After awhile I realized I was also crying about everything else and felt grateful for such a swift release rather than the usual festering.

Since then I have been advised by Franklin to write everything out.  In terms of their dynamic and relationship to each other in the present tense - just write out all that I know and then patiently delete until only the necessary sentences remain.  I still keep trying to short cut - 'oh I know this but it's not part of the story' and Franklin alerted me by pointing out the way I synthesized what I perceived to be backstory actually meant a whole lot of the book as I saw it in my mind's eye was going to be more showing than telling to a point where people would stop reading before that changed in narrative style if I didn't switch it up more along the way.

So I have been writing and then gradually polishing/deleting since election night.  Am amazed, really, to understand that it was only this past Tuesday night as in just a couple-few nights ago.  Seems like it should have been two or even three weeks since then. 


So.  I am writing again.  again.  Damn if I'm not determined to make that pence-ism my own for all times.  We should ALL do it:  Do things we used to enjoy without nagging turmoil in the back of our heads.  Connect more fully with our actual heart's work again.  AGAIN.

Below is what came out of me during this morning's wee hours.  I haven't changed anything beyond adding two words in a grammatical category I either don't remember or never troubled myself to learn.  At a mechanical and POV tone-level I'm getting back to where I used to be before closed head brain trauma; when it really was a matter of turning on the tap rather than ongoing editorial refinement of appearing to be such writing.

It is another difficult scene to open what encompasses a few shortish chapters from multiple POV's.  But it's really Vic's story just like it's really his book even though his son Carter's the main character. I thought the next emotionally and technically challenging series of scenes had to be written in a certain way but as I started typing I realized, no.  It can be this other way instead.  It won't be any less difficult to conceive and execute.  But it will be effective, memorable, and - most importantly - considerably less harrowing for the characters, me, and readers alike.  And so it isn't just first draft - it's first draft of something I didn't think about at all before I started typing because it didn't exist yet.  I can quite comfortably live with the quality level.  After one more pass I'll throw the whole thing in a mental cooler and come back to it in 3-5 weeks to get down to serious business. 

Today I'm bringing back a post with some cool/pretty thread-based eye candy shots.  It speaks of a relatively innocent arc in the Covid era.  Before I knew it was time to kick it up about twenty notches self-sustainability-wise and was thus planning an un-fenced sunflower house of a summer garden.  When having somebody come to the house in a mask bore mentioning rather than the other way around...Thirdchilddraft


SquarebeginningYesterday I began my sympathetic chakra journal.  Will be working in an 11 x 14 art journal with watercolor paper.  The book will be dedicated solely for this purpose.  I'm looking on it as an ongoing mindfulness practice rather than something to get done and then on to the next thing. That said part of my personal mindfulness leveling-up for this project relates to keeping my ideas from mushrooming beyond reasonable proportions given its long term nature.


I cut a 8.75 square of lightly textured scrapbook paper.  I find it's easier to paint on because the texture provides tooth that's not so much similar to a priming layer as it's texture, period.  Paper without protection/sealant is going to be a roll of the dice. Scrapbook paper can take a lot of abuse and it's a substrate well worth considering if you're new to art supplies.

The shiny heart has been trimmed smooth and somewhat buffed. I like that it's a bit dinged though.  It's here to represent a very core first chakra relationship to a human quality that's been dragged through the mud for the past four and a half years:  LOYALTY

Have been thinking a lot since this opportunity came my way about how damaged I perceive our collective and singular root chakra to be because of a deranged person driving us over one cliff after another. The more I thought  about that the more I thought about how important it is to reclaim a collective energy center from the very dark shadow side of itself. 

Loyalty expressed as love.  Love expressed with loyal understanding that there's a commitment implicit in that word.  The more I thought about it the more I wanted to commit to the premise of loving loyalty to the Whole.  But first I wanted to express another core self-world relationship emblematic of this energy center:  BOUNDARIES

SquarewstencilI wanted to connote boundaries in a way that felt luminous rather than reactive or representations of stuff I'm inclined to exclude entirely from my own energy center.  It's a big ask but I feel the least I can do is create a sympathetic marker of my intention.

color junkies - note how the red changes to a deeper apple-red kind of color when it's right next to the pink/madder colors on the metal stencil's taped edges.

StenciledsquareThe addition of flourescdent red paint skews the original red  towards wine/brick territory.  Because I started with a very clean bright red the deepening remains clear rather than muddy.  Really liked the way I was able to introduce a sense of imbalanced making-do with the stencil plate overlap to suggest seismic shifts within established order.  Thought to turn the stencil over so the excess paint could be smeared to suggest further ruptures in balance and energetic integrity.  Love the surprise result: some of the excess paint turned parts of the geometric grid into flowers. 

RedsquareungluedI'll add an additional collage component that I've managed to misplace in a room full of paper.  I might add some secondary collage elements if I can find or draw some appropriately scaled Crocosmia and/or Red Echinacea flowers.  Sometime before the lunar cycle ends I'll have a posting about red flowers and their healing/illumination correspondences on my main blog.  For now I'm keeping this initial venture into the very first project simple and graphic enough to use as a meditative aid.  If it works well I might consider making something specifically for that purpose on a wood panel.


another first chakra sphere of influence encompasses family, tribal affiliations & traditions, and ancestral wisdom.  To that end I present a few of the original Old Nanas.  As I've said many times they called themselves The Ladies.  I collaged grace's name within her own tribe over my memories because I realized The Ladies had been Old Nanas in deed and intent where I was concerned. 

the occasion for so many smiles and cake was either my 10th or 11th birthday. Pearl's holding the cake with me. 

Oldnanasgiven the above it's a no brainer to bring back the pre-collage challenge post in which I broke down an Old Nana kit I prepared for grace.