second, companion piece to the bison which will be placed on the panel
side of the Medicine Table
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
neighbour stopped by the other day and took a photo.
Credit: WW Berg
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.
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"
Hoop" is also known by some as the "Medicine Wheel."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
'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.
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.
Christmas sled for a young boy. Constructed in Birch with bent
said; "MUSH !" Come on, I have deserved this for a
09:30 A.M. December 16, 2003 , Soon the sun will be rising earlier
in the day.
link to a community memorial Service that you might be interested in
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!
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.
will be part of the Prince Albert Youth Activity Centre's art show
and sale this weekend.
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
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.
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.
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
is Canadian Remembrance Day. I plan to take part in the Canadian
Legion Services at Christopher Lake.
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!
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
will be good to get back into the shop too.
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
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!
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.
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.
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.
guessed it! The Premier has called the election for November
5, 2003. This means that my campaign efforts are formally underway.
amount of paper work that needs to be handled is very intimidating,
especially for someone like me who is new to the process.
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
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
you are a Saskatchewan resident, be sure to become informed and cast
your ballot on November 5!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
also tweaked the Saskatchewan
NORTH flyer and got more printing quotes and prepared for a regional
meeting of our Green Party.
half-expected the election call to come on Monday.
morning I loaded on images of some turning work I had done a few weeks
back. They are in RECENT GALLERY
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
get the day underway. I will pray today for all who read this
page until I update it again. Pray for me too.
Journal Archives can be found by going to the Journal Archive Index Page