September 24, 2005 to December 31, 2005

November 24, 2005   We are one short month from Christmas as I write this  entry.  Winter has been gentle and slow.  We have had mild weather. and though I have snow on the ground throughout the forest,  just a few kilometres south, there is very little to see.

I recently made a trip to Winnipeg Manitoba for a family wedding.  It was my first time into the city and I had a good experience there,  I thank the good planning  and hospitality of  our hosts for a great time.   I just made it back home before a major blizzard hit that part of Saskatchewan and Manitoba and closed the roads that I had to travel.  I had seen the long-range weather forecasts and used prudence to make it back as soon as possible after the wedding and to do the entire trip in one day.  It was a long drive, but with a half-hour rest at my mother's home along the way, I made it  with no more than a few aching joints and muscles.   Later I calculated the fuel efficiency of my "Mini" and found that it was 5.0 l./ 100 km  or 55 miles / imperial gallon of diesel fuel.

I have been making a few things in wood for potential Christmas sales.  Our Artists' Co-op will have a booth at the Evergreen Show in Prince Albert this weekend, and I will be helping haul things over and set things up.  I also have a funeral to attend.  A friend and member of my  "extended family" died suddenly  at the end of last week, and the funeral will be Friday afternoon.  Some people live with so much suffering that when Creator calls them home, we can only see that to be a blessing for them.  I pray that his family can also see this dimension and find some comfort at this time of loss.

November 9, 2005  Winter has come to Friendly Forest, though rather gently so far.  The Inipi Lodge has now been used for the first time and it was also my first solo prayer of this kind.  The wood for the fire was not really dry, and things took a while to get underway.  For this first time I wanted to pray by myself, and be more fully attentive to the space and the Spirits who came to join me.  If I had others present, even my mentor, I would have been distracted to a greater degree.

It was very good prayer time and I thank Wakan Tanka for giving me the experience and the opportunity to learn this new way of communication.

Late in the day I drove out to my Dakota mentor's home reserve and had a short but good visit with him.  He gave me some more advice about how to learn and receive sacred songs.  I think he still believes in my capacity to really learn to pray and sing in Dakota.  I lack his confidence.  I repeated to him my own observations that my spiritual heritage makes me a kind of mongrel.  That perhaps if mixed breeding in dogs tended to strengthen the animal, perhaps my mixed spiritual and religious traditions would strengthen my own spirituality.  Over the weekend a friend, neighbour, and a man of the spirit was over and he was expressing some surprise, as he has before, that I was still connected to the Catholic Church as I am.  I repeated my belief that any religion or religious tradition should be supportive of an individual's spiritual quest to connect to and communicate with that person's Creator, and I was finding that each of the religious traditions of which I was a part were supportive of my own journey, and I saw no need to reject one in favour of another.  

In the past I have drawn an analogy to the Christian churches;  they did not feel they had to reject the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to find a new understanding of Yahweh through the person and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth.  Nor have different Christian traditions felt the need to totally exclude  practices and prayer forms that originated in non-christian cultures.  No one who celebrates a Christian Christmas or Easter can really deny the non-Christian elements of those celebrations.  My friend observed that perhaps the "officials" of my Christian church might have more difficulty in accepting my  position.  Be that as it may be, that has been so from long ago. Those who have a vested interest in preserving one way, their way, are very reluctant to acknowledge the validity of any other way and the possible reduction or loss of their control or influence on others.  I understand that, and history and church history has a multitude of examples of this.  We can see the same things happening in other non-christian traditions even today.  Those are the human dimensions of religious structures that undermine the authentic purpose of those very religious structures.

In so far as the human and institutional activities and positions and practices of any religion retard, interfere with or divert the journey of any member as they move toward a full reunion with their Creator, that religious structure is in error and lacks authentic character for that person's journey.   Too frequently human institutions, no matter how good their motives, seek to design one  pattern to cover all.  In doing so, they create a 'cover'  which fits no one, as each of Creator's creatures is unique and their purpose and journey is also unique  in Creator's plan.  The conflict  is a human one.  While a structure that is open and flexible and supports the diversity of individual journeys is the ideal, the human desire to control and impose one's own  vision on others, pushes the structures to demand uniformity of its members.  The more authoritarian and controlling those structures are, the more destructive its efforts are to the journeys of its members.  Then fear replaces love, intolerance replaces acceptance,  inward focus replaces  an openness to all of creation, and the profane replaces the sacred.  If that simplistic description resembles any religious institutions you know, do not be surprised.  I would suggest it is a natural character of any and all human institutions that  struggle to serve a higher power while being burdened by human limitations and frailty.

I argue that the individual needs to be open to the insights provided by Creator, and is first called to be authentic and responsive to that call, and then should look to the human structures to find those elements that support that response.  While our journeys are unique, we do not travel them alone.  We are ALL connected, and we have a powerful role in support of each other and of the collective.  Mitakuye Owasin!

 

October 22, 2005   Although winter is not here,  it is cool enough that I need to add heat to the house. I have started  using the wood I stocked for my winter supply.  I like the kind of heat my cast iron stove gives off, though I do not find much charm or enjoyment in splitting the wood and hauling it in to my wood box.  I guess for each pleasure there is work required.

I have built a simple A - Frame structure over the Sweat and covered that with a tarp so it will shed snow during the winter.  In this manner I trust that getting out after a heavy storm I would not find the Lodge  groaning under the snow load.  I have also added a wood board to the door flap so that it can be more easily closed from the inside or the outside.  Yesterday morning I brought the Sacred Pipe out there with me and did Pipe Prayer within the Inipi lodge.

Early work:  The ground is prepared and the ribs are placed but the fire pit is not yet dug.

My Dene Mentor is preparing for a Sweat Ceremony for a family that is travelling to see him for this.  They are from Alberta.  Since he is just out of day surgery I undertook to get him the wood for his fire.  I had also finished the ceremonial rattles he had asked me to make for members of his family who pray in the traditional way.  I had made 6 pairs, but I still needed to carve images on one set .  He took the other ten and will bless them in the sweat ceremony he will do today, and then get them off to his family.

I have placed an order for more  steel balls in two sizes that I will be able to use along with wooden beads that I have made in subsequent rattle construction.  I have become better at making them though I can still goof up when finishing the outside by making it too thin and having the ball break open on me.  I turn the top and bottom halves but leave lathe attachments  at the ends of the two haves.  I turn the edges so that they fit into each other, and this is glued with polyurethane glue to hold and build up the joint.  When that is set I remount the joined piece on the lathe and finish off the ends, leaving one with a projection that fits into an opening of the handle.  That is when I can run into trouble by making the wood too thin.  I need it to be thin ( 1/8 inch or thinner) so that the sound  of the rattle is good. 

I have been using birch wood for the rattle ball, and this time, I used aromatic red cedar for the handles so that the aroma of the cedar is always with the rattle.  I added  colour to some and left others plain with only the wood grain as decoration.  If the new owners want images they can paint  their personal images  onto the rattles.

I am finding that I speak very naturally and comfortably to my animal and tree spirit helpers during prayer, but I am still not as comfortable speaking to the Stone Spirit Helpers I have been given.  That is coming but needs more communication to become comfortable.  The Grandfathers and Grandmothers will teach me.

Recently I was brought special connections to  Brothers Deer and Weasel.  Since these were special prayer gifts from my Dene Mentors, it helps me build my spiritual connections, not only to the  Spirit World, but also to the Dene people  who are supporting me in my growth in prayer.  Creator has brought me so many people and Spirit supporters to help me on my journey on the Red Path that at times I am overwhelmed.  I ask what this is preparing me for.  I ask what  lies ahead on this journey toward the North Gate of the Sacred Hoop.  I am then reminded that I don't need to have  such answers; that the direction for that day is enough as long as I keep Creator as the centre of my Hoop, and not place myself there instead.

October 9, 2005 It is Sunday morning and we are back onto a Sunday morning mass schedule, our Lakeland Area Interdenominational Scripture Study Group is getting ready to start its fall sessions, and other fall / winter events are under way.

On Thanksgiving day I will host about 15 guests to a variety of foods.  Special dietary needs of several guests have had me getting more creative with my menu selections.  Even the time required to prepare or cook items was factored in with the hope that some of the tasks could be completed early and not be part of a last minute frantic scurry.

I took part of the day on Oct 8 to help with a Habitat for Humanity house building project in Prince Albert.  My old bones and joints are not really up to some of the acrobatics required with climbing through window openings, etc.

My Dene mentor gave me a high compliment yesterday.  He came to look at the Sweat / Inipi structure I had built and announced that my first effort was much better than what was done by "many Indians".  I guess the good work of a student is a credit to his/ her teacher as well.  I know that I am still not ready to pray in this manner, but trust that I will be shown when I am ready.  I used old military tarp pieces that I had for a few years now, and although a patchwork, they seem to be doing the job of blocking light and being weather proof.  Being inside brought back a flood of memories  from my Hanblecheyapi / Pipe Fast / Vision Quest experience as I was being sheltered under the Sweat Lodge cover of my Dakota mentor at that time.

Earlier in the week my Dakota mentor called me up and asked that I go with his son-in-law to get new willows for the ribs of the Sweat that he had passed on to his wife.  The year before he and I had gone to a special place along the banks of the North Saskatchewan River to receive the gift of the willows.  They grow tall and straight there.  As it turned out, his son-in-law was not available, and since he is extremely limited by his medical situation, I went alone to locate the site and select the willows.  I then also got willows for the lodge that I constructed at Friendly Forest.

I completed a custom coffee / storage table for a neighbour.  It was completely in aspen wood and I used a varathane finish to preserve the very light blond character of the wood. 

August 28, 2005   Since my last entry I have prepared for and had the art sale at the MacDonald Farm, have finished trail trimming, made some more product for sale at the Artist's Own Shop in Prince Albert,  have gathered my summer stock of medicine plants and even finished off the Beidermeier style armoire.

On completing the armoire I did a calculation of input costs in terms of materials and labour, and came up with a reasonable price.  I put in about $1,400.00 of materials, pricing my birch wood at $6.00 / bf, and pricing my labour at $16.00 hr.  the total came to $4,000.00.  Recognizing that this was more than I had anticipated and probably more than my client had anticipated, I called her up and offered to keep the armoire for myself and let her out of our agreement.  It appears that I am now the proud owner of that armoire.  Although the photos are great, the actual object is even nicer!    Yesterday I attended the wedding of a neighbour.  I had been asked to make a presentation just before the civil ceremony.  Since it was a wedding between members of two different faith traditions, it was a bit tricky to find what I wanted to tell them in a manner that would respect both of those traditions and the families gathered for the event.  I have posted the comments on this site. 

July 17, 2005  Sundance ended with a cold, very windy and rainy morning.  I prayed for the success of the prayers offered by the dancers.  At the end there were about 74 dancers.  Dancers who had earlier taken part had left and were supporting the singers, and others had joined for the final days or hours.  I did not stay for the feast as I did not feel that it was my place to do so, though I am confident that I would have been welcomed.  Instead I drove to the city and visited with my friend in the nursing home.  I had not seen him in over a week.

When I reflected on the Sundance  time with a few friends who called me in the evening, I expressed my experience as a renewal and affirmation of what I had come to know as the basis for my identity, for the basis of my very name, Candesna Cun Wakan Oksina.  The tree and the hoop are to be the centre of my life and my relationships on this side.  I pray that I have the continuing support of being able to be at Sundances in other years to support me in this journey to my Creator.

I met an old friend at the dance on Saturday.  What was really revealing for me was that when we met, we were mutually surprised to see the other person there.  We had not expected to see the other and asked "What brings you here?"  When we replied we discovered that we had both been at the Sundance on previous years and had not recognized the other.  He had been a dancer and I someone who prayed from outside the Lodge.  Since neither had expected to see the other, neither had recognized the other.  We have known each other well for nearly 30 years.  In fact at one time we had shared a close faith journey as I was his sponsor for entry into my parish church in the late 1970's.  Our expectations and preconceptions of the other had blocked what our eyes and memories could have shown us.  I think there is a deeper lesson in this experience for me.  it warns me that I probably have a similar blindness to other things as well.  My prayer should be that Creator who gave me my eyes, help me to keep them open and look at people and the world around me  with eyes free of prejudice  / free of pre-expectations.  For me, that seems to be needed to be able to see at all.  After our initial surprise, we were able to share some time sharing stories about our spiritual journeys and what brought us to that meeting.  I also know that the meeting was not an accident, but rather, what another friend calls, a "Godicence".  I await to see what it will bring to me.

July 16, 2005  I am delighted that Brother Wolf,  spirit protector and friend, has come back home to me.  King was suspicious for a while and sniffed warily, but when commanded to back off, did so and seems to be OK with sharing our home with another companion.  I offer pray for Victor, Jimmy and Henri, and thank them for their help in making this homecoming possible. 

Hawk also recently finished a journey that has taken some months to complete.  How Hawk and Eagle will share their spiritual roles in my life is not yet fully clear to me, but I expect to find it to be a relationship of reinforcing of purpose rather than one of conflict of purpose.

I have been praying at the Sundance Lodge at Whapeton for several days, and will be there for another two.  It has been as wonderful and powerful as anything I could have imagined ... no, more than I could have imagined.  I have also found happiness in the degree of acceptance and understanding of so many others.  I know that it is not so in all places where Sundance is  celebrated in the traditional ways.

On Sunday morning I will receive guests who have been prayer companions and friends, though I met two of them for the first time yesterday afternoon.  I thank my friends who continue to introduce me to others on similar spiritual journeys

.

July 11, 2005  We have a return of warm weather and some sunshine, though Thunder Bird is present frequently. Visitors have been coming out to FF as well.  That is always great.  I find that some will just come in off the highway and so I get to meet people I would never have encountered otherwise.  Old friends are also a delight to welcome back.

I have been trying to learn a bit more about some of my plant friends here in the forest.  There is such an abundant variety that it is overwhelming.  Their development from emerging out of the ground to full growth , blossom and seed development seems as if overnight.

This is Sundance week at Whapeton.  I hope to be able to go to pray with the community as much as possible.  Especially I would like to be there for "tree day".  I have missed that in other years.

I pulled my canoe out yesterday and found that a colony of ants had taken over one of the floatation chambers at the end of the canoe.  I was not impressed, though I could understand why they would have chosen that place.  I reluctantly got out the insect spray and tried to remove them from the space ,and then blew compressed air in to remove as much of the loose material as possible.  Then I took a foam insulation canister and sprayed it as full as I could get it.  I then took it out on the water for the first time in several years of low water.  I needed to pick spatterdock (yellow pond lilly) leaves and blossoms for a friend who is planning to use them for medicine.  It really felt great to have the paddle in the water again and have the canoe respond to each  paddle thrust and blade angle.  I left my dog in the house though.  I did not want him trying to swim out and perhaps upsetting the canoe in an attempt to get in while I was in the water.

July 1, 2005  This Canada Day, I started off by helping a friend gather stones and wood for an evening Sweat Lodge Ceremony.  Then I cleaned the house a bit and prepared food for after the Sweat.  I prepared traditional foods, bannock, fruit, salmon and corn.  Yesterday I visited my Dakota teacher.  I did a bit of yard work for him and we had a good conversation.  His health is  not good, and I will be praying for him tonight.  After the bit of work I did, his wife presented me with braids of sweet grass.  I was also told that the Sundance at Whapeton this summer begins with the Tree Day on July 13, and is followed by the four days of dancing with the wind-up at high noon on Sunday, July 17.  I hope to be able to go to pray during much of this time.  This Sundance would be the third anniversary of the special experience that awakened in me a good understanding of what the Sacred Hoop is really about.  It also was the event that led me to meeting with my Teacher who was the Dance Organizer /Chief Intercessor that year.   I pray that he is able to  visit this Sundance, and that it will help restore some strength to him.

I have posted some images taken by a friend and visitor to the Hoop Camp back in May.  He is an excellent photographer

June 29,2005   It was a week ago that I completed Pipe Prayer at midnight at the north gate of the Sacred Hoop.  It had been a warm and humid day, and the evening hours were also quite warm.  I had hoped for a clear sky to appreciate the full moon, but things started to become overcast.  As I began the smudge and prepared for the Pipe Prayer, I noticed some bright lights in the sky.  At first it seemed like really bright stars, but the sky was clouding over and the stars visible were not as bright.  "Nice!" I thought, not quite knowing what to make of it.  Then as I proceeded, I noticed a lot of very bright lights that moved and were of short duration.  "Fireflies!"  I concluded with delight.   I had not seen fireflies since I was a child, and then not so many or so bright.

I continued with my prayer accompanied by the fireflies and the mosquitoes.  After, as I collected things and proceeded back to the camp the entire route was lit like a Christmas parade.  The fireflies were out in full force and full brilliance against the dark tree shadows.  I claim no supernatural event, but the presence of these lights from the insect world were a delightful conclusion to four great days. 

Since I have been busy with catchup and new things.  It was high school grad weekend and I had two very nice events to attend.  I have also had numerous visitors, and am hosting a guest for a few weeks duration.  I am taking a few hours each morning to buck firewood for next winter.  Any more I would suffer from the excess physical effort.  Then I go into the shop to work on projects underway.  A broken belt on my lathe has changed my priority, but perhaps that is as it was meant to be. 

My friend King has been great to my guests and does a lot to extend welcome to this Forest place.  He has taken up a very protective stance with regard to my house guest, moving into the guest bedroom and watching by the bed until our guest rises.  If I were not so delighted to see his attitude, I could get a bit jealous of his shared affections.   Now, maybe if I paid him more attention and agreed to toss his ball whenever he wanted it, perhaps, just perhaps, he would be showing me the same degree of attention.?

June 22, 2005  This is the final time of the Sacred Hoop Blessing and Celebration.  It has been a good time of prayer and reflection, and sharing in the wonders and beauty of my forest companions.  Last night a chorus of wolves sang their even prayers.  The evening skies were filled with lightening.  That seemed appropriate as we had called blessing prayers on the west gate, the home of Bear and Thunderbird.  once I am back in regular routine I have a lot of things to catch up on and squeeze into a few days.  The pace change will be dramatic, but I need to carry the inner peace and prayer mode with me even into the hurried times ahead.

June 15, 2005    This morning the sun rose before I did, though I was able to greet it shortly after it rose above the trees.  I then picked up a few things and headed out to the Sacred Hoop and said morning prayer.  I have a busy day ahead of me and needed an early start.  Earlier this week four good friends visited and we trekked out to the Hoop for a bit of bannock and tea and good conversation.  Two are unable to come again during the formal celebration time  during the Solstice.

June 12, 2005  It has been a while since I added to this journal.  I have even considered abandoning the feature entirely.  What I have decided to do for the interim, is locate it in a more remote section of the site.  If someone really wants to check it out, they can follow through to where it is located.  I will reserve Gerald's Page for short  update things and treat it more like a bulletin board.

May 6, 2005  I have added some images of recent work.  Check here.

The weather has shifted to warm again.  After my delight in a healthy winter, I have come down with some sort of flu that has me with aching joints and muscles and some respiratory congestion.  I have not stopped other tasks, just slowed down and with more discomfort.  That too will pass.

The Face of Creator shirt is finished

.

Click on images for larger view.  You can also go to this page for more detail on the shirt.  However, as before, I will discuss the significance of the images only in a one-on-one discussion.  If you are interested contact me directly about this.

April 26, 2005  The ritual fast and blessing of the Sacred Hoop have ended successfully.

I wish to personally thank the many people who supported this undertaking with their prayers and best wishes, and the many who took time to visit with me and pray at the Sacred Hoop over the past 4 days.  Although I could not offer you food as a sign of hospitality, I hope you know that your presence and your sharing in prayers with me was deeply appreciated.

The ritual was concluded at midnight on April 24, under a clear sky, blazing bright stars and a full moon.  The frog chorus and the spruce grouse drummers provided the musical accompaniment, while the wind in the trees provided the whispers of assent to the prayers made over the final offerings and to the prayers that went forth from the whole universe from the Sacred Pipe.

My mental image and perception of what I could eat after that fast were bigger than what I could achieve in reality. Nevertheless, fresh bannock, pan fried fish, delicious ham and bean soup and a berry mix for dessert were great.  The remains were sufficient to enable my four-legged friend and constant companion and prayer partner, King, to have a good meal too.

On my return to the house this morning I found a phone message indicating some more good news; the NGA has voted to change its name to the Green Party of Saskatchewan ( http://www.votenga.ca. ) I am delighted, and the solid future of this political party was part of my prayers over the past days.

April 19, 2005   A short update;  Spring has arrived with the re-emergence of the frogs, the return of cranes and geese and many song birds, the blossoming of the willow and aspen trees, and the disappearance of the snow banks that we have seen since early October

I am completing preparations for my Spring Fast.  The site needs a bit of work and some firewood is to be gathered.  It will be a time of blessings in many ways.

I will need to find time to keep my promise of updated photos of recent work and the forest.

April 9, 2005  With a few days of double digit temperatures that snow that has resided here since early last October  has finally decide to recede and give way to our second season.  Our neighbourhood wolf pack has been joining me in morning prayer  for the last while.  Although  they are not right at hand, it is nice to hear the pack morning howl as the sun rises.  Geese have arrived to inspect the pond ice for a potential nesting spot, and it is nice to hear their  wings in the evening air and the loud  honking as they come to land and announce to the world that they are here.

I have added the first  three bands to my "Face of Creator" shirt, and am most impressed with the work of my friend.  I will post new images as promised, when they are all on the shirt.  One was still on the loom the other day.

My preparations for the four day fast and blessing of the Sacred Hoop are progressing nicely.  I have many of the necessary items out in the forest.  I managed the heavier things while the snow was hard frozen early in the mornings.  That saved a lot of extra walking all the way around the pond.

I have been gifted with elements of some of my Spirit Helpers recently, and I hope that I handle them with the deep respect they are due. 

There is a gravel pit near  Friendly Forest and during the week past I obtained permission from the proper R. M. to access rocks for my fire pit and for the use in Sweat Ceremony. It is like going into a treasure box and certainly saves a lot of work just digging into the clay and rock substrate that underlies the entire area in which we live.

I attended two funerals in the past week and  assisted an old friend move into a Nursing Home in the City.  The following day I was called to come to take him to the hospital.  He had fallen down the first night there.  It turns out that he had fractured  the bone in his upper arm.  He is now functioning with a broken hip, a broken leg bone and a fractured arm.  I fear that he maybe in for even more injuries as he does not seem to understand the great danger he places himself in when he tries to move without support or assistance until he has fallen and hurt himself.  Watching his difficulties  makes me really hope and pray that I never get Parkinson's disease.

 

December 24, 2005 (Christmas table photos by W. Berg.)

Table before food

Table after food and King asking for his share

My year-end letter to family and friends is linked from my "Gerald's Journal" page. 

December 15, 2005   Today is Full Moon and it will be a day of special prayer and ceremony.  I will be participating in an "elders' circle of prayer" as we do every full moon, and later in the day I will lead a Sweat Ceremony prayer with my Dene mentor.  I need to finish preparing the traditional foods for after the  ceremony, and that will be difficult as today also becomes a day of fasting.  It is hard to avoid sampling good food as you prepare it.   Make today or any other day a day of special prayer for yourself as well.  There is no one time to connect to the Spirit within and about you.  The images below, some taken last evening, show you the environment in which I live, and which certainly inspires me to pray.  Creator reveals its face to us in what has been created.  What we need to do is focus our senses and banish prejudices so that we can truly see Creator present in all things, in all creatures and in all relationships.  Even beginning to develop that capacity makes me stand back in profound wonder and awe.

December 14, 2005  09:40 images

December13, 2005  I have been doing shop work but photos of recent work is still not yet posted on this site.  I have a few Christmas special orders to finish, and then should be able to spend time on domestic obligations. 

I have been spending time on Green Party affairs and I was able to make a presentation to the CCPA (Canadian Council for Policy Alternatives) when they invited me to make a presentation for their Citizens'  Alternative Budget process.  Revisiting ecological and economic concerns about the forest was a good thing to do.

I also made a successful trip to Winnipeg in November to attend a family wedding.  I made it back just before the big snow storm that closed roads  along most of the route I had taken.  "Mini" performed well for me. 

I have been turning some bowls out of spalting Aspen blocks.  While it is frustrating opening logs to find the interior too degraded to stand up to making a finished product, the ones that are successful are spectacular.  The colours and patterns that I have been finding in a few pieces are really  spectacular.  Yesterday i applied a poly resin finish to the inside of these items to help protect them from moisture or foods that may be placed in them.

October 31, 2005  We have reached the end of October without  a snow cover on the ground.  Nice!

I have updated the Home Page image with a photo taken this morning as the sun came up in the south east.  The frost covering on everything lasted most of the day, and I was able to go out this afternoon during a break from the shop to take close-up images of ground vegetation.  It looked nice to see tiny leaves and lichen cups fringed with frost crystals.

My home currently is not smelling too nice.  I am rendering out some bear fat for my mentor friend.  It brings back memories of childhood and rendering pork fat for use later in the year.  It is nearly finished and then I can air the house out properly.

I finished making ceremonial rattles and beaded leather carry bags.  The other five pair have already gone to their new owners and I did not take photos in time.  I was informed that before I send these off I will need to bless them in a Sweat Prayer ceremony.  Perhaps this is my  friend's way of telling me that he is getting impatient with me and wants me to start doing my own sweat prayer ceremonies.  I will do so when I know that it is the right time.  In the mean while I pray and read and try to discern what Creator is asking of me.  The structure is ready and I have stones and wood, but those are just the physical things.  The spiritual things need to be in order as well.

Rocks in storage

Wood in storage

Moss and leaves with frost

Beaver Canals filling with water as pond level rises

October 9, 2005 It is Sunday morning and we are back onto a Sunday morning mass schedule, our Lakeland Area Interdenominational Scripture Study Group is getting ready to start its fall sessions, and other fall / winter events are under way.

On Thanksgiving day I will host about 15 guests to a variety of foods.  Special dietary needs of several guests have had me getting more creative with my menu selections.  Even the time required to prepare or cook items was factored in with the hope that some of the tasks could be completed early and not be part of a last minute frantic scurry.

I took part of the day on Oct 8 to help with a Habitat for Humanity house building project in Prince Albert.  My old bones and joints are not really up to some of the acrobatics required with climbing through window openings, etc.

My Dene mentor gave me a high compliment yesterday.  He came to look at the Sweat / Inipi structure I had built and announced that my first effort was much better than what was done by "many Indians".  I guess the good work of a student is a credit to his/ her teacher as well.  I know that I am still not ready to pray in this manner, but trust that I will be shown when I am ready.  I used old military tarp pieces that I had for a few years now, and although a patchwork, they seem to be doing the job of blocking light and being weather proof.  Being inside brought back a flood of memories  from my Hanblecheyapi / Pipe Fast / Vision Quest experience as I was being sheltered under the Sweat Lodge cover of my Dakota mentor at that time.

Earlier in the week my Dakota mentor called me up and asked that I go with his son-in-law to get new willows for the ribs of the Sweat that he had passed on to his wife.  The year before he and I had gone to a special place along the banks of the North Saskatchewan River to receive the gift of the willows.  They grow tall and straight there.  As it turned out, his son-in-law was not avaiable, and since he is extremely limited by his medical situation, I went alone to locate the site and select the willows.  I then also got willows for the lodge that I constructed at Friendly Forest.

I completed a custom coffee / storage table for a neighbour.  It was completely in aspen wood and I used a varathane finish to preserve the very light blond characvter of the wood. 

September 24, 2005  Fall images

Fall colours under way

Summer rains raise pond level

Shared ownership with VW Canada

Faithful Mighty too expensive to use for non-work trips

New home for Mini

Pond Ripples

 

Journal Archives can be found by going to the Journal Archive Index Page