September 6, 2003 - February 14, 2004

02-14-2004    The second, companion piece to the bison which will be placed on the panel side of the Medicine Table

02-13-2004  I started to make the relief carvings for the Medicine Table.  The first I have finished is a Bison.  It is carved from 3/4 inch thick Pau Ferro / Brown Ebony from Brazil.  The wood had some sapwood along one edge and I made that the section under the hoofs. Next will be a Bald Eagle in a Hoop.  these will be attached to the panel of the medicine table shown below.  The piece is 5.5 inches high and 9 inches long.  The wood is hard, and I was being rather aggressive in the carving ... with the result that I broke off the tail twice and had to glue it back on.  The image is a thumbnail.  Click to see a larger view.

02-05-2004  The Sofa Tables are finished.  I don't think I want to do any carving again for a while.  I am happy with the effect.  The following thumbnail images are not good quality as they are taken with camera flash.  I will have to wait for better summer light to flood the room to get a better set  of images.

02-02-2004  We just came through a week of very cold weather, and even this morning it is -35 Degrees Celsius.  My home is warm however, and my life is such that I can choose to go outside as it suits me.  Those are two incredible blessings.  The news reports that yesterday the body of a man was found frozen  near the middle of Saskatoon, and the evening news featured a homeless man living on the streets of Calgary.  There are a lot of things wrong with how we deal with  other members of our human family. 

The sun is making it a bit higher in our skies these days, and the mornings are coming earlier and the darkness later.  Even though a thermometer does not indicate the advance of the seasons,  our eyes and hearts await warmer and longer days that will come again thanks to Creator.  We trust that this will be so because these gifts have faithfully flowed to us from Creator.  That means we often will take  these gifts for granted and forget to say thanks and use the gifts with respect.  That is a mistake even for our human souls.  If we lose the capacity , if we lose the gifts of wonder and awe in response to the wonderful things that are part of the ordinary and constant, we lose the opportunity to have our souls grow in love for Creator who gives us these gifts.  By analogy, when we forget to say thanks for the food we eat each day, when we forget to say thanks to those who love us and care for us, when we forget to say thanks for healthy bodies, we miss the experience of joy and wonder at a precious gift  received and opened.

I am working at two "sofa tables".  I have the units in the house and am presently carving the drawer faces for the second unit.  The tables sand 45 inches tall and are 21 inches deep and are each 72 inches long.  These thumbnails show the completed one and the just-carved face of one of the remaining drawers.

My neighbour stopped by the other day and took a photo. 

Photo Credit: WW Berg

01-24-2004  Last night some friends gathered with me at Friendly Forest. We were joined by two elders from Whapeton to join in a "naming" ceremony and prayer with the Sacred Pipe.

After  a cleansing and Pipe Prayer in which we all entered the connection to Creator in a spiritual way, I was given the name " Sacred Tree Sacred Hoop Boy"

"Sacred Hoop" is also known by some as the "Medicine Wheel."

The name reflects the spiritual journey I travel and will help me focus my prayers and connection to Creator following the spiritual path represented by the Sacred Tree and the Sacred Hoop. 

We followed the ceremonies with a feast with a really great menu,[ even if I say so myself.]  Just to make you wish you had been here, I served:  A wild rice, corn and fish chowder with fresh bannock.   This was followed by a Mandarin Orange, onion and lettuce salad with an oil-vinegar dressing and a Potato - Egg salad with a cream-mustard dressing.  The main course consisted of poached salmon with a Dijohn Mustard - Tarragon cream sauce ,  oven baked, herbed potato wedges with sour cream and dill  on the side, and  Bison Sirloin roast with a rich gravy.  Dessert consisted of a multi-berry fruit mix and/or spicy fried apple with cream topping, followed by  my own version of mint tea or coffee.   The best thing at the table however, was the sharing of friendship which nourishes our spirit and gives us courage to continue to walk on the path to and with Creator.  To all of my friends, present and not present, I thank you and promise to keep you in my prayers.

01-20-2004 I am preparing for a ceremony at my home later this week, and for part of it I am preparing gifts for my guests.  I have had a request for some wood water dippers, and I tried my hand at those yesterday.  They still  need to be water-proofed by adding some poly resin.

The first ones pictured are sold wood and the in natural wood/bark is a traditional birch bark dipper.  It simply is a circle of fresh birch bark, folded into a cone, and the folded portion held together with a forked stick and then a bit of leather lacing along the top of the folded section to keep things together.  Since it is a complete circle cone fold, and since birch bark is waterproof and tasteless, it works well for moving water or for drinking from it.


01-15-2004  I have had a few busy weeks in the new year but it has been nice to get things back onto some what of a normal  mode of living.

Some of you may have read my "rant" about the need for hospice supports on the SoapBox Page.  As I indicated in that item, it is sometimes a good thing that we do not know the implications of what following our conscience will entail.  Before the

Christmas period I had been invited to become part of a committee looking at creating hospice support  for people in our health region.  As of our meeting last Thursday, I agreed to serve as co-chair of the group on an interim basis.  I hesitate as I can see the work of this committee going on for a long time and requiring a lot of additional work.  I guess no one ever said that important things would come easily or without real work.

I have also basically "finished" my prayer / medicine table.  I still have some carved images to add, but otherwise it seems complete to me.  I incorporated the woods of 6 continents in its construction.  The  key wood is Pau Ferro, a very heavy, dark and hard wood from Brazil.  This wood makes the table top and will be used for one or more images as well.  I carved the impression of a medicine wheel into the surface.  When I run my fingers over the rough surface of the image the wood "sings" along with the movement. 

The top rests on legs/pillars of birch which at the lower levels support a birch, red cedar and nogal  box storage unit which holds my smudge materials and place for other medicines or special objects. The Cedar is aromatic and will keep away harmful insects and add the great fragrance to whatever is placed inside the space.  The rails below the top and below the box base are of African Nogal.  The pull out shelf is edged with Burmese teak and a drawer bottom is of Finnish / Baltic birch ply.  The birch comes from the forest in this area.  There is a front panel of the storage space that is spalting birch that I find particularly beautiful.  I turned the door handles from Australian Lacewood.

As I planned and constructed this special piece I thought and prayed about what I was doing ,and that my selection of wood and design would combine to make it a worthy object to support prayer to the Creator of all these woods and of all beings.  The Red Cedar (really a juniper wood) represents the earth, and on its surface I am drawn to place a rock I dug from the mud that came from the cistern I had dug near the pond at Friendly Forest. I do not see images in the rock, but a Spiritual Elder who visited me today immediately saw several animal images on the rock surface.

When I first used it for my morning prayer, after I had held the smudge  holder to the six directions and had washed myself in the sacred smoke, I placed the smudge container on the storage box under the table top.  As I rested my hands on the top and on the carved medicine wheel,  the smoke slowly rose from under the table top, curled around the edges and moved to the centre of the table where the medicine wheel image and mark for the Sacred Tree are carved, and then rose to envelop me as well.  This has happened each time since as well.  I suppose there is some good reason in physics why the smoke / air movements followed that pattern instead of just dispersing out into the room or continuing upward from the edge of the table, but I prefer to think that as the smoke represents my prayers to God / Creator, and that as my prayer is trying to recognize the many gifts of Creator  according to the four directions of the wheel, that the smoke was gently lifting these thoughts and prayers of mine and of all peoples of the universe, and bringing them into the presence of a gentle, caring and powerful Great Spirit.  The images here are thumbnails but are rather poor quality as I had to take them in the poor indoor winter light and with a flash unit on the camera.  Later I will make better images that can capture the richness of the colours and textures of the unit.  The unit is "wakan",(holy / sacred) and I am honoured to have been able to make and now use this item.  I believe we can call objects holy if they help to bring us into the conscious presence of our Creator, because only Creator is truly holy and sacred.


01-06-2004  A late Happy New Year!.  It seems that not only am I late in getting my Christmas letter out to personal friends, I have also neglected to extend greetings to my cyber visitors. 

The period has been a good one at Friendly Forest with the exception that there is still not enough snow to give us peace of mind in the forest which is still so tinder dry from the accumulated years of drought.

I have been receiving guests and spending some time with friends as well, and have been doing some shop work.  I have decided that I will use some of my time and some of the beautiful woods that I have to make a few pieces of furniture for my own home for a change.  I am working on three specialty tables right now.

One will become a prayer focus table  and it is one which, at least in my mind's eye, will be  very attractive, and two identical units to serve as oversized "sofa tables" in which the height is so that the storage drawers can be pulled out over the sofa back and the top is deep enough to hold my entertainment units while the drawers will hold CD's and such.  I will take photos when finished.

The 'prayer focus' table top is of Pau Ferro, referred to as Brown Ebony, from Brazil.  This is a very dense and dark wood with soft streaks of black, brown and deep red browns.  I had enough to glue up a panel from which I was able to cut a circular top of 29 inches diameter.  I have carved a medicine wheel into the top surface, and am adding the rubbing layers of oil/varnish mix that I use to create really great finishes.  It is a truly gorgeous wood table top.  Now I have to ensure that the other woods and the design I use for the lower portions  has the same rich and elegant quality of the top.  I am feeling myself guided by a deep respect for the woods and for the purpose for which the table is intended.  At present, the component woods are likely to be:  The Pau Ferro, Saskatchewan Birch, Aromatic Red Cedar, Nogal and perhaps some Padauk.  If I add some teak or Indian Rosewood, I would have woods from 4 continents out of the 5 largest.  I will have to think that one through a bit and see if I have something appropriate.

I have obtained some books on traditional spirituality , traditional medicines and traditional ceremonies which have been great reading for me.  Yesterday I received a few more that I had ordered as a result of my readings in the first books.  Two friends also have noted my interest and have given me two books that I had not known about but which have also been a great addition to my starting collection.

 


12-20-2003   Recent work

A Christmas sled for a young boy. Constructed  in Birch with bent Oak runners.

I said MUSH!

I said; "MUSH !"  Come on, I have deserved this for a long while!

About 09:30 A.M. December 16, 2003 , Soon the sun will be rising earlier in the day.

 


 

12-10-2003  Prayer Time

Prayer Time

11-30-2003  A link to a community memorial Service that you might be interested in seeing   LAKELAND MEMORIAL

11-26-2003 " Evergreen," the Prince Albert Arts Council Art Show / Sale is over and I did reasonably well in the sales department.  Once again I met many interesting and very nice people ... even those who did not buy anything from me!

I was able to meet and visit with an artist cousin of mine from Watson, and we were able to talk about various things including Green politics.

I will be part of the Prince Albert Youth Activity Centre's art show and sale this weekend. 

I did manage to get a few things made since the election.  Here are a few thumbs.  I have posted more under my Turnings and Recent Work Galleries.

Creator keeps bringing me into contact with others on similar spiritual quests.  That happened to me again this week.  I appreciate these interventions in my life, and thank both Creator and those individuals for the times of sharing and growth that happens when we do share about how God is part of our lives.

Over the past 10 days I have been creating a series of Web Pages as part of this web site that are intended to be a support for our Parish Confirmation Program.  I will not link it directly to the site in order to help retain its separate character and purpose.  It will operate as a separate site, though housed within my own site.  This seemed to be necessary because we have been unable to find print materials that are suitable for our group and the way we meet.  When Candidates or Parents miss a session, they now have a way to review what we did , and it will also become an information reference for all. 

On a rather silly personal note, I took one of those on-line IQ test the other day.  I was curious to see if the results would be similar to the scores that I recall from my younger years.  In general, the scores were in the same range and some of the "interpretations" were similar to what I had been told back in the early 1960's.  There were efforts to dress up the profile to  entice a person to pay money to get a full 15-page profile.  I know enough about such measuring devices to know that it should not be taken very seriously and even then to know that it is only one of many indicators of gifts that we have been given by Creator.  The important thing is not the precise character of the gift, but how we use those gifts  to realize the purposes of Creator in having given us those gifts in the first place.


11-11-2003  This is Canadian Remembrance Day.  I plan to take part in the Canadian Legion Services at Christopher Lake.

The election is over and we both won and lost for the Green cause, depending on the measure being used.   We did not gather many votes in this highly polarized election.  We did get our name and our values onto the radar screen and received very favourable reactions from many,  from people from all parts of the old left - right spectrum.  We alone stood for a positive vision  and a comprehensive platform in the election while others  created bogeymen and  did the negative attack ads stuff.    John Gormley, columnist and talk show host said that  when you have hope and fear, fear always wins.  That is what happened, and that is a blight on the democracy for which we stood and fought.  Did we do an effective campaign with our limited resources;  You bet we did !  Are we better prepared for the next round; Again, You bet we are!

For me the true measure of what I do is always an internal one, and not determined by reactions from others or measurable outcomes, and from that measure, I feel very good about what I did and how I did it.  I responded to God / Creator's call to move in this direction, and I did what  I could.  the rest is left for Creator to advance either through others or through me at another time.  I cannot see that far ahead, and do not need to.   All I need is the vision and the courage for the next step.

For the past few days I have been scrambling in the shop making a few items.  I have used some of the Pau Ferro that I have.  What a beautiful wood!  I will post images later, but the images will not do justice to the items.  The wood is very dense and enables a great finish, and the dark brown and black colours  glow with their dark beauty.  As always, my favourite pieces are my last ones, and these clearly are my current favourites.

I continue to pray with a smudge to centre my prayers.  I also slowly become more comfortable and natural with praying to Creator  by praying in the different directions,  acknowledging Creator's presence and gifts from different perspectives and for different dimensions of this earth and of my being.  This form of prayer seems to have a completeness to it that many traditional Christian formulations seem to lack, instead focusing on a narrower dimension of connection to Creator.  With slow insights I move in this spiritual direction too, and I continue to ask for the help of my spiritual companions on this journey to support and guide me as they are called to do for me.


11-01-2003  Today was a great day.  I was invited to take part in a Dakota Sweat experience that offered a great opportunity to pray and have others pray for me.  As the ceremony progressed I realized that I should shift the focus of my prayer away from my perceived need for guidance as I moved through this time of my life and to prayers of support for the people who were praying with me and who share their lives with me.  As these people experience Creator / God's support for their lives, they will in turn share their wisdom and guidance with me, and I will thereby find the guidance that I prayed for.

I had wondered whether my claustrophobia would be an issue for me in the darkness of the sweat lodge, but I was pleased that it was not a problem at all.  Creator was there and had led me there.

I greatly appreciate the kindness and prayer concerns of these friends.  We have been led to come together for some purpose that Creator understands.  I pray to be open to this.

I was asked if I had any Aboriginal heritage somewhere in my past.  Since my father came from Germany, and my mother, though born in Canada, was born of German parents, that is not the case.  I am born of one of the four races made by Creator, and I guess that is where we are all connected.

On the political trail, I did some visiting in Prince Albert on behalf of Ben Webster, our Party Leader who was laid up with a virus, and I have been visiting at the sub-divisions at the lakes up here.  Our time has nearly run out, and then the second great part of our democratic process unfolds;  each voter gets to make up his / her mind and determine the character of our government for the next while.  My part of the process will be over for a while unless probabilities are really upset and I actually win this election here.

It will be good to get back into the shop too.


10-29-2003    On a personal level, I have been having a very interesting experience in this first effort to enter the provincial electoral system.  The first week or so was taken up with a monumental mountain of paper work. I was also busy getting out our campaign material and then helping the Saskatoon area candidates prepare and publish a parallel flyer for that area.

I have also been attempting to visit as many areas and communities of this huge constituency as possible.  It takes about 3.5 hours just to drive from one end to the other ... and that is without stopping!

I have visited in Big River and Debden in the west, along Highway 35 north of Tobin Lake and in White Fox and in Choiceland in the east.  I have visited in acreage areas north of Prince Albert, at farms  along the way, at homes in the resort areas around Christopher, Emma and Anglin Lakes, and still have other communities to visit.

I have been delighted at the completely positive manner in which I was received everywhere.  Although I am sure many people I spoke to will not be supporting my party, the New Green Alliance, absolutely everyone has been courteous and gracious to me.  Experiencing that really positive character of Saskatchewan people is a solid basis for hope for the future of our land and our society.

Tuesday, October 28 and the morning of October 29 have been special in unexpected ways.  On tuesday morning I bade farewell to a great friend, Msgr Edmund Ulinski.  when we said goodbye, he called a blessing on me, and I in turn called God to bless him.   Yesterday evening I was visited by two friends who had also come to pray with and for me, this time in the form of a traditional  pipe ceremony.  I found this response to me at this time incredibly timely and supportive.  I tend to believe that the visit by my Aboriginal friends and their prayers for me were already an answer to the prayers of my old Polish friend that morning.  then on Wednesday morning  three of our area NGA candidates were guests at the Apostolic Church's School of Ministry morning chapel session where we joined the students in prayer, we discussed with them the NGA platform and our own beliefs, and we were gifted by having them pray over us and our efforts to be part of the leadership process of our society.  Not once blessed, not twice blessed, but thrice blessed within 24 hours!  I thanks all of those who pray for me and others who are offering our service to our communities.

10-10-2003

You guessed it!  The Premier has called the election for November 5, 2003.  This means that my campaign efforts are formally underway.

The amount of paper work that needs to be handled is very intimidating, especially for someone like me who is new to the process.

We got our tabloid flyer off.  I just managed to get it for Rural Roots distribution on the same day the election was called on Wednesday.  Things had to be in at the Daily Herald on Wednesday for weekend distribution,  and on Friday I got the Canada Post  bundles into the Post Office for mailing. 

This means that our election fund is broke again, but we did manage to get it printed and into each home in the four constituencies that our Regional NGA group represents.

A few other people have seen it and were positive about how it looked and how it was put together.  I hope it also works to inform electors in a positive manner.

Last Saturday I sprained my ankle, and things were mending this week.  On Friday I also tried to wheelbarrow some more wood under cover and I think I over did the effort.  My ankle swelled up again and caused a lot of pain overnight.  The fall and twist did its number on my foot.   I do need to be more careful.  I won't be getting much campaigning done if I am crippled!

I may not get much posted to  this site for a while.  My commitment is to keep the www.votenga.ca site current and operational for the campaign. 

On the 19th I will also be starting one of our church catechism programs.  That was an earlier commitment that I plan to keep despite the election.  I will take the time for the things that are important and will not stop living because of this political pursuit.

If you are a Saskatchewan resident, be sure to become informed and cast your ballot on November 5!

 

05-09-2003     It is early Sunday morning and I once again must apologize for not  updating this section earlier.   I have taken a few images of the forest in its fall colours, but that colourful time passes so quickly that you cannot stop to look, it will have vanished before you have taken the moment to appreciate it.  I used one of those images on the home page.

 

A week ago I joined some friends to gather firewood from a forest burn area to help another friend get winter wood in.  Later in the week I also moved some of my own winter supply under cover, but still have more to do.

On Monday last I picked up our SaskatchewanNORTH election flyers.  The election was not called but at least we have the items printed and nearly ready for distribution.

I also did d few other election-readiness things.  In some ways our lack of funds is a blessing in that we cannot plan a lot of undertakings, and have to be content to do the best we can with what we have.  Hand painting of a few signs becomes part of that.

As a young person I wanted to become a commercial artist as that was the only way I knew art could be pursued in a meaningful way and still make a living.  Art school was really not an option, so I worked from books I borrowed from the provincial library system and practiced hand lettering with the few pens and brushes that I was able to buy through the sale of some of my work or from the proceeds of prizes my work got from submission to summer exhibitions around the province.  It was a demanding discipline and I only ever learned to be a poor amateur calligrapher.  Following outline letters with a brush soaked in enamel paint and knowing when to twist the brush to get a particular curve started to feel a bit familiar again... after nearly 50 years of inaction!

Our church services have moved back to Sunday mornings so I need to get going soon.  This evening we are also having a political planning meeting here and that will require a bit of house cleaning in respect for my guests.  My efforts will be slowed considerably as a result of a small accident yesterday morning.  I was on the deck and was walking in one direction.  In the meanwhile a young squirrel decided to appear at the other side of the deck and my friend King saw it and took off to intercept the squirrel.  That path was directly across mine and we collided with me also colliding with the deck boards after twisting one foot under me.  I have what I assume to be a sprained ankle which give considerable pain and limits my movements.  I had a two point landing.. on my ankle and on my rear end, and the rear end did not escape a severe bruise either.  Getting older is especially noticeable when the body is injured.  This simple accident also alerted me to the increasing risks both I and my canine friend are  under when we live alone in the forest.

21-09-2003   Wow, the end of a busy week!  It was one of those weeks where I was busy all the time but did not seem to be getting anything done because everything being done was work in progress or work that needed to be repeated.  You know what I mean.  There was never the opportunity to stand back and see the end of a task, just the next step that needed to be done.

I spent a lot of time on the road.  I had the pleasure of being able to visit with  some of my family  a week ago.  I also was back and forth to Prince Albert at least once each day, and twice on another.  A friend needed to have some medical attention and needed some transportation and a bit of post operative support here.

I also tweaked the Saskatchewan NORTH flyer and got more printing quotes and prepared for a regional meeting of our Green Party.

I half-expected the election call to come on Monday.

This morning I loaded on images of some turning work I had done a few weeks back.  They are in RECENT GALLERY 2.

I also let go of my most recent favourite piece.  On Thursday a Green Ash Bark-on vase was picked up in redemption of a gift certificate.  I did steer the customer in the direction of that vase as I did consider it the most attractive piece for what he was looking for, but i did regret seeing it leave my home.  Usually my favourite piece is my most recent piece, but not this time.  The way I need to look at it is that now that it is gone, I need to focus to making something more beautiful.

06-09-2003 I still have not taken photos of my latest work and posted it to this site, but my intentions are still to do so soon.  I have had a guest for a few days and other responsibilities have taken more time than anticipated.

I did have the pleasure of having a discussion about some elements of Traditional spirituality and ceremony earlier in the week.  I thank those who help me grow in my spiritual journey toward the Creator and pray that their gifts may continue to grow and that they continue to share them generously with others who seek their help.

During a discussion I was told that the word "God" was a difficult one to use because it had been pronounced so often within the context of residential school abuse, and that the name "Creator" or "Great Spirit" were preferred and enabled discussion of God without the psychological and emotional baggage that accompanied that name for the one, the almighty, the great spirit, the creator, the lover of all beings created in love, the protector, the guide,the sustainer....   When you think about it a bit, you realize that no word or name can possibly pretend to identify the being we know only  in small part, and whose connection to us, whose relationship to us is all that we can begin to understand and try to name.  I guess it has always been thus when humans have tried to talk about these spiritual experiences and knowledge.

I know that the use of the word "Father" to represent God, even though it was used by Jesus in the form of "Abba" / Daddy" , would bring up many negative associations for those who have known only an abusive father or only a distant father or no father.  The limitations of human language and how language is part of our experience and communicates experience must be one of the problems God did not solve for us, and has left us for ever to struggle with.  Given the uniqueness of each experience, that is probably not such a bad thing either.

I have been working on this election material and have posted an early draft of half of it to the VOTENGA.CA site.  I have not linked it to the rest of the site as it is in quite unfinished form, but if anyone reading this would like to take a preview, click here to see it.  Feedback would be appreciated.

I have been fortunate in having people come forward to request special wood items to be made.  It is gratifying to have that kind of confidence placed in me, but at the time of election-timing uncertainty, it is also a bit of a problem.  I hesitate to make firm commitments about having an item completed if I cannot know the time I will have to get things done.  I have a steam bending item to do first, and then continue with some chess boards / tables, and then on to other requests.  The good thing is that I do enjoy working with wood, and trying new things or new ways of finishing things is exciting and a good creative undertaking.  That keeps the interest juices going.  I cannot imagine myself as a full-time production worker.  That would take all of the joy out of what I do.  In one way though, the way I do things, is that I am always learning from my earlier mistakes or product shortcomings and selling off my mistakes so I have room to make more and a bit of money to buy more material again.  Not the most flattering way to look on my earlier work, but in many ways a reasonably accurate one.

Must get the day underway.  I will pray today for all who read this page until I update it again.  Pray for me too.

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