The otherwise unexplained fourth wooden item of this post is the rolling pin directly above these words. It's from Pearl's kitchen in the house I was raised. Am not a baker, never will be, and so I use this talisman of my crafty roots as a brayer kinda thing for art journal smoothing and layering plus the occasional spontaneous monoprint that might chew-into the rubber brayers I keep around and misplace on the regular. But it's pretty hard to misplace my grandmother's rolling pin for more than a moment or two. Here this treasured bit of family memorabilia is serving as a scale model. The rattle is roughly the same size. The inner dimensions of the lid & box is 5. x7. My plan is to display it sideways as seen later in the post
Since this is the third phase of US pandemic response here in MA talking about "day one" isn't feeling very first-ish anymore. From the perspective of my adaptability quotient it's been 5 days since I last crossed property lines and ran one drop-off and two pick-up errands in my car. The things I purchased then are still cooling their heels in my car. Tomorrow will be a full 5 days worth of 24 hours since I came home and spoke truth to the concrete walls of my garage: No more. Not until there's no other choice.
Keeping track of the days is vital to also keeping track of when it's safe to bring newer items into the house. Tomorrow it will be safe to wipe down and store the enormous bottles of brandy and 100 proof vodka I bought on that very last run into the headlights of crumbling normalcy. The brandy's for stabilizing and preserving flower essence mother stocks and also tincturing certain flowers - e.g. ladies mantle. The Vodka will back-up the fifth I already had to hand for the rest of my medicinal tincturing needs. It's also what we'll use when there's no more rubbing alcohol.
In case you're not yet as far down the rabbit hole of radically changed awareness/priorities/general life flow as I've become - Per established universal viral contamination guidelines -- Glass containers need 5 days isolation time before handling. Plastic needs nine and so the other package in my car must wait 4 days beyond the glass bottles' removal. But I don't care. I'm not planning to go anywhere beyond a ride in J.'s truck tomorrow to pick- up our bread share in the next town heading northeast. All I can say when I catch myself thinking in endless lists of contamination safety data is that I'm ever-grateful I got back as much brain function as I did before all this hit the fan!
Last night I asked my dreaming self to set me a path for early morning grounding. Prior to that I'd gathered three of the four very well loved wooden possessions pictured above. I also gathered a soft scrap of cotton quilt batting and the lemon verbena wood conditioner I've grown to love. Had planned to get ginormous amounts shipped here so I could clean and condition as much of the wood finishing over-load in this house as ultimately possible but then I thought to check the location of the product's manufacturer and shipper. Canton OH. I checked the pandemic map and decided I'd work with what I have with much smaller refurbishing ambitions setting the course. This will maximize the number of wood items I'm able to nourish if not in much scope. Makes sense to start with a few extra special personal keepsakes, right?
(while writing this post I came up with a spontaneous DIY solution for my urge to condition ALL THE WOOD. I will use the pine/juniper/tulsi oil I just strained clear the night after the full equinox day here. I'll simply add about a quarter or third more melted beeswax - not sure yet which essential oil - and that will make my own place-based conditioner. The wood in the house will be fed by the wood living as trees just beyond. It makes me smile just typing that.)
In the summer of '80 I bought a beautifully constructed wooden box topped by the parquet lid directly above these words. I bought it directly from the wood wizard who made it. He was stationed with a wide table full of beautiful boxes and jars and intricate oversized parquet coasters just by the center entrance to Central Park (south). It was a warm t-shirts only mid-Spring weekend that proved to be incredibly switched-on and seemingly charmed. Right up there with this experience. in terms of my personal memory highlights. The creator of this lovely piece and ever so many more was a little arrogant and presuming but the box has remained a beautiful thing that I love. The best part of 'having' keepsakes is the recollections that move far beyond the thing itself. This is why I love boxes as memory keepers on multiple levels.
Somewhere along the line the impeccably constructed box separated from the box. My goal now is to use tacks in the wall placed to mount the lid in a place where I'll see it often and use it as an ongoing lunar-driven touchstone. This is so important as sunlight lasts longer each day and I move into a stronger solar mode myself. I continue to use the dis-joined box as an altar space container for a shifting arrangement of stones, shells, and tiny mementos.
Note the pictures show my treasures before full wax absorption and buffing. With that slow and steadying process now complete, the objects' combined presence is now a glowing line of energy as I've set them side-by side for contemplation here in the studio.
Above is an inkwell that was always kept carelessly in a desk I sold in '88 for enough to get us through an entire winter, spring and summer as a young family in Boston. First by my grandmother and then my mother. I know the story behind their grim attachment to it but it's a sad discouraging story about my grandfather so we'll leave it at that. I took it to heart and have kept it because as a [failed] ethnobotanist I'm really fond of this piece. Inside the carved seed pod is a tiny inkwell I use with my dip pens on somewhat regular basis.
This rattle has lived a very hands-on life over the 19 years we've been together. It's taken me probably 15 of those years to grow into my inner spirit voice enough to shake the rattle in ways that speak to her voice's scope and power. I have her because when I heard her in full voice I understood the person who'd known how to hold and shake her like it's an easy thing to merge with a rattle's spirit would not be able to take her home.
I heard her in full glorious voice as a perpetual flurry of the small white stones lovingly described on her authentication certificate. The shaker was a tall sturdy-legged teenage bear of a boy. He stood very straight with a rapt expression on his face as he shook and shook and shook. Everyone in the gallery turned towards him - surprised and smiling. Everyone but his father who was annoyed and intent to cut the experience short. Words were exchanged between father and son - protestations and refusals and a final plea with a backwards glance.
If you think I'm putting up with THAT any time you take it in your head ...
And the rest of us either turned away briskly or sought-out each other's eyes. Small little head shakes and shoulder shrugs. I'd been planning to buy a colorful wooden Mexican candelabra of carved hummingbirds circling in clusters. But I asked the owner if he had any sense that boy might come back. What if I bought the rattle and he kept it under the counter just in case? Owner shook his head as he looked me over - suggesting I'd be better off buying it for myself. I thought how much easier it would be to keep a rattle too big for me close at hand than to haul around an elaborate candelabra that felt just right. And was undoubtedly a beast to clean after use.
That's how the rattle came home with me. And we have taken a thorough good long while to get to know each other. When I shook her briskly over the newly pressed-into-earth columbine seeds I heard what I'd heard in the art gallery so long ago. Not sure how and when it happened but I've got the touch for her now - and she for me.