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Friendly Forest Happenings Journal Archives Jan 01, 2013 to Dec 31, 2013


 

December 12, 2013  I have been catching up on December tasks, and have completed most of the major commitments I took on.  It has been bitterly cold for the past week and staying inside and warm is no great hardship.

I have just completed my Christmas 2013 generic letter and will post it here as a PDF for anyone who may want to read it this way.

I have been making a few small stocking-stuffer gifts for my expected Christmas Dinner guests, and have nearly sorted out menu decisions.  If you are going to be here I think you will enjoy it, and if you are not going to be here, I guess you don't know what you are missing!  Check on my Recent Work page to see recent wood work efforts.  Thank you to all of my 2013 customers.  You have trusted me with some very special projects and I was honoured by that trust.

November 18, 2013  Winter has  declared its enduring presence, and we human inhabitants of the land have had to make adjustments as have all other creatures.  For my part  I have been forced to abandon most of my unfinished outdoor chores and have  been concentrating on other responsibilities.  One of these was the monthly Inipi held here at Friendly Forest.  Although temperatures had dropped  Saturday evening, Sunday was not too bad and the fire of the retreating sun, still locked in the wood of my firewood, was ready to  be transferred to rocks which brought that fire into the centre of the Sweat Lodge.  One participant commented at the end of a rather hot round, that she actually appreciated  getting to the opening where it was cooler.

I have strung an electrical extension cord out to the Lodge site and have a lamp that I can use when  a ceremony goes on into the dark hours, and into which I can plug a small heater fan which  takes the chill off the lodge before we use it and which helps dry things out  the following day.  I always need to remove the rocks the following day from the centre so they do not freeze onto the  wet earth.  I was joined by three friends, and I thank them for  honouring me  with their presence.

I  have also applied myself to making some foods that will serve well during busy holiday time soon to be here.  I have  made a batch of Tortiere meat pies, a large batch of rich beef stew, and a few apple pies (Thanks to Carol and Graham for the apples).

November 11, 2013   Since my last entry we have had two heavy snow-falls.  I will post a few images of the new scene later.  Today I completed the addition of the aniline dye colour to three custom  memory box chests that I have been working on.  They are made of Birch wood with red leather-dyed straps and snap fasteners.  There is a full length piano hinge  for the lid and turned  crescent side handles.  Click on the image  to go to the Custom Work page where I show additional images of these three units.

They still need to have the colour  sealed and then several additional coats of varathane  finish . 

Completing this project  allows me to go on to tackle the next order in my work queue.

Last night the temperature dropped to - 25 degrees C. for the first time this season, and the sounds of contracting wood  with snaps and pops in the house, announced the drop in temperature.

October 19, 2013  On Wednesday, October 16, I had the honour of visiting the Hanblechyapi site on Tobin Lake where  I was able to  do the Pipe Fast Ceremony back in 2004.  Again, I was hosted by a good friend.  The actual  land on which I had sat for those four days has slid into the river and there is a new edge from which to overlook Tobin Lake in Northern Saskatchewan.  I was able to  sit with friends and pray with the Chanupa. 

As we drove off to go back home Eagle  hovered overhead.

It was a good day.  It was a very good day!

October 14 was Canadian Thanksgiving.  I had 13 guests at the table at Friendly Forest.  Thank you for coming and sharing this time with me.  For the few who had to miss it due to special circumstances, I hope to see you here again next time.

With the help of a good friend, I was able to take down the Tipi at Eagle Camp on October 12 and store things away till next spring.  Given the turn in weather, with some snow on the ground this morning, it was none too soon to pack it in for the season.

October 18 was Full Moon again, and  time for the monthly Inipi ceremony here.  I am sure that  a month from now there will be snow on the ground and the heat from the Grandfathers will be appreciated even more.

September 24, 2013  Over the weekend I had the pleasure of attending a mini - family gathering hosted by my sister who lives in Prince Albert.  During this  gathering , as happens at family gatherings that happen too infrequently, one has the  opportunity to hear what other family members are doing.  One such discussion  was about the steel art work  that a nephew, Chris Spilak is doing.  I was finally able to get the information needed to access his facebook page that shows some of his  outstanding work.  It is a public  page so others can see what he has posted.  CLICK HERE to go to this site.  Enjoy the impressive work of this young artist. 

September 22, 2013  Summer has been with us longer than usual with cooler days and nights  only happening now.  We have not even had a killing frost yet!

I have taken advantage of the warmer days to do outdoor and shop work.  During the summer months I can use the larger vehicle portion of my shop as an assembly area, and larger work projects are easier to handle.  During the colder months  I am limited to a rather small and very cramped work area that is insulated and can be heated.  Glues require certain temperatures over a period of time to cure properly.  If not  handled correctly, glue joints that  did not cure well have a way of coming apart a few years later.  I do not want that to be happening to items that have my name and mark on them.

I have put together a series of Memory Box chests that are not yet  finished.   These are images of the unfinished units.

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Yard work also demands attention.  I was fortunate to be given permission by the RM of Paddock to access a near-by gravel pit of theirs to pick some rocks for use here.  Although I am  living on a hill of rocks and clay, gaining access to buried rocks is not a practical  thing.  The RM had recently  done some  gravel removal from  the area that had left  unwanted rocks just the size and type that I was looking for. 

Having picked and carried those rocks also reminded me that my  body no longer has the resilience it once had.  But I am  delighted in being able to still do that heavy work even if it is for shorter periods.  The arthritis of my hands and arms also limits the length of time I can spend on certain wood tasks, I have the freedom to vary my work tasks and not incur serious pain or incapacity.  I  shudder to imagine the experience of others who do not have such choices. 

September 19 was this month's Inipi day, and I appreciated the three people who chose to come to share that prayer time here.  The food for the feast after was also very good.  Thanks for sharing your  gifts that way as well.

This weekend  provides me with the opportunity to see some family members I have not  seen for  a while.  I am looking forward to that blessing as well.

August 25, 2013   Over the past month I have been harvesting some medicinal plants that grow here.  I offer a gift to Earth Mother and to the plants that I seek help from and ask for their permission to take some and to make medicine from their  leaves and blossoms.  This year  most plants are healthy and vibrant and seem to offer good medicine.

I have discovered that arranging the plants loosely in a large tub and placing the tub in my mechanical room where I keep a dehumidifier going during summer months, dries the plants very well and prevents any sun damage or risk of mould when conditions are too damp as is often the case with outdoor air drying.  Evenings are getting cooler and moisture  attaches to plant and other surfaces and slows down good drying, even if I had hung bunches of plants from my clothes line as I used to do in the past.

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The image and information about the Yarrow can be accessed  here: http://spiraeaherbs.wordpress.com/2010/04/01/yarrow/

Once the plants have dried I put on a pair of gloves and strip off the leaves and flowers and store them in sealed plastic containers to keep them dry. 

Recently I decided to try to make an ointment from yarrow plants that I had harvested earlier this summer.  I wanted to have an ointment to use as a mosquito repellant.  I have  used fresh crushed yarrow leaves and rubbed that on my skin in past years, but sometimes  there are no yarrow plants  where I am and the mosquitoes are there.  I am trying to see if the Yarrow ointment works as well as the freshly-crushed leaves.  So far a tentative test suggests it will work.  The real test will be when mosquitoes populations return in full force next summer.  Here is a link to one of many articles that  speak of Yarrow's  insect repellant  properties:  Article

I used a formulation that used the Yarrow leaves, olive oil, and beeswax to give me the consistency that I wanted.  If that does not seem to be strong enough I might add some pasture sage to the Yarrow  in a new batch.  In any case, the ointment should be useful as an anti-bacterial and anti-viral salve for topical applications.  The aroma it leaves on the skin is pleasant and is a kind of earthy plant  smell that I rather like, but I wonder if others would agree with my smell assessment.

August 24, 2013  Last weekend the Woodlands Studio Art Tour took place.  We were blest with great weather.  I wish to thank the members who did so much work creating the idea for the tour and  so much of the organizing.  I also wish to thank the 70 + visitors who came and signed my guest book.  I enjoyed your  presence at my home and gallery and I trust that your tour experience was a good one in all respects.

To see the  current brochure prepared for Friendly Forest Products.  Click here

After the tour I had the task of returning the upper level of my home to a functioning part of my home.  I had moved some furniture  to the lower levels and cleared the space  in my kitchen and dining areas for display shelving and tables. 

Tuesday was full moon again and I held the Inipi ceremonies here.  It was a good experience as it always is. 

Bear has been in the yard and has taken a few crab apples from the tree and broke off one branch, but left most of them intact.  I decided that  this was a message to me that this year I would be able to harvest these apples and make some juice concentrate.  I picked the apples and have been using my Lee Valley-sourced steamer to make the juice concentrate.  It makes a great fruit juice for use during winter months. When I open a sealed container I dilute the concentrate with enough water  and / or ginger ale to make a good drink.  Some sweetener is also called for as the apples are quite tart. 

The greenhouse and garden are also  offering their gifts  in some abundance.  We wait so long for fresh produce and then when it comes there is so much more than we can handle.  Cooler nights are warnings of  the approaching end of summer.

The trails at Friendly Forest are once again groomed and  in good condition except for a few tree dead-falls that need to be cut out of the paths.  My winter-injured foot is healing and I find that I can do a few hours of trail walking and clearing  each day.  This morning I was able to complete all of the trails.  It is a good feeling to finally accomplish that task again.  It also reminds me that sometime sooner than I might wish, my body will no longer be able to do that kind of work and other decisions will have to be made.

There is a lot of sign of bear and a few weeks ago I  came across mother and cubs on the trail.  The cubs scurried up trees and the mother woofed her  disapproval of my presence.  I  was not too close and was able to  retreat and leave her be.  I had failed to take the advice I always give to  visitors who walk my trails; to wear bear bells!  When I later  returned to work on the trails I made sure I was wearing two  bells that would announce my coming presence and give Bear an opportunity to find other places to  feast on the abundant berries the Forest offers this summer.

July 23. 2013  Morning greetings from Father Wi on the day following Hanwi's full display.  The Inipi was a wonderful experience again.

Click here for more of these sunrise images.

July 18, 2013  Eagle Camp 2013.

I took much of the week, July 14 - 20, as a reflective prayer time here at Friendly Forest.  I had considered spending a full four days out at Eagle Camp but with the full fury of mosquitoes this year and Edward having few defenses, I limited my time out there to several longer visits.  It was a good week and I am thankful for having had the opportunity for  it.  For any who might have tried contacting me  and who found an unanswered phone, you did not leave messages  either, so the issues must have been able to wait for my return. 

July 13, 2013  It has been a busy period between posts.  An old friend was able to make a move to a Care Home in northern Alberta, and preparations for this move took quite a bit of time.  He had asked me to assume power of attorney  responsibilities earlier in the year and that made things easier to manage for the transitioning.  I recently received a letter from him in his new home and early indications are that it was a good decision to move and be closer to some family members.

I have also had a few custom order items to finish. With a few more hours to put into a special hope chest, I will have caught up on that.  I have also made the road signs that our Woodland Studio Art Tour needs for our mid-August  Studio Tour.

These signs will mark the road locations of the participating artists.  To see the tour route click here to see the map on our brochure, and click here to see the participating artists.

CLICK HERE for a Google Map of the Artists and their locations

June and early July have been setting records for rainfall.  I have measured at least 11.5 inches rain fall in about three weeks.  The pond is very high and there is water and flooding in the entire region.  Anglin Lake  received a huge  amount of water and the dam had to be opened to relieve the pressure.  That has caused flooding down stream, especially within the Little Red River Park in northern Prince Albert.  The Park will be closed for the rest of the summer because of damage done by the high waters.  We are told that it has permanently changed how the park will look. Highway 2 from Prince Albert to LaRonge has had several washouts that closed the road, and now there is a stretch north of Prince Albert that is totally under water that resulted in the highway being closed.  No one in this area recalls this amount of water during their lifetimes.

As one can imagine, with all the water, the mosquitoes are having a population explosion as well. 

Today I made a happy observation;  a Grebe nest on the pond water  had some difficult times.  As the pond water rose  quickly, the Grebes were busy, frantically so, trying to raise the level of their nest to keep the eggs from drowning.  Today I saw two young Grebes leave the nest with their parents.  There appears to be one egg unhatched in the nest.  I suspect that no other water birds will have had a successful nesting season here.  The water his risen a good two feet since they would have started to make their nests, and unlike the Grebes, their nests do not float.

With all of the demands on my time over the past few months I did not get to set up Eagle Camp until recently.  I plan to spend a few days out there  for my very late "spring fast" time.  The mosquitoes will be a challenge, but the design of the tipi with its natural venting system should work out.  If that is still a problem, I can light a fire and make some smoke to help the mosquitoes  exit out the top through the smoke flaps.  Despite the rain, the inside of the tipi is dry.  I have a rain cap over the top of the tipi poles, and that makes all the difference in the world.  It does not look as elegant as the long tapered extensions of the poles that I had initially when I set it up years back, but a dry inside is worth a loss of some elegance.

I will post some photos of the new cover soon.

Over the past month or so I have had the  honour of carrying on a correspondence with a young man in the country south of our border.  He  has been on a personal spiritual quest and had found this web site and my section on my Hanblechyapi and related items.  I pray for his continued success in his own vision search and I ask any reader of this entry to do the same.  Ask Creator to bless this son and help him to find within himself the centre to which he is being led.

May 24, 2013  Today is the day of full moon and the day for Inipi prayer once again.  The lunar months go by so quickly.  We are told that as we get older, time flies by faster.  Perhaps, it is so, and I have my own convoluted theory why that might be, but it might also be that life is good and  there are so many things to look forward to that time does not drag or the days or nights seem long.

If my days or nights were filled with pain or anxiety, the hours would go slowly, as would the days.  So on this day of special rebirth and prayer, I rejoice  in how quickly and how well the journey is going for me.

It is planned that I will be joined by three persons who have not prayed  this way before at Friendly Forest.  I hope that they will find the connections to Creator and the Spirit World that they seek, and that  it will strengthen them in body and spirit.

The skies have darkened with cloud and rain is forecast, but this comes with a stiff wind as well.  That gives me some cause for concern.  Although my fire pit is well built and secure and meets all regulations, I plan to be extra vigilant with the fire.  I have  a garden hose at the ready  I will have wet down the  surrounding area, and I have pails of water filled as well as a fire-fighter's backpack with hose and nozzle attachment.  The  vent stack  is covered with a rain cap with a wire mesh screen to prevent  the escape of sparks.  During the winter times those special features seem redundant, but during our spring times especially and with a wind, they are most appropriate.

I have been watering the  areas of seeded garden, but if it rains that natural watering will  be great for the  germinating seeds and seedlings.

The ground squirrel / mole that is in my garden area has invaded my medicine plant circle.  It has been very successful in springing the trap and filling the tube with good fresh earth.  I hope it moves on to other areas where there are good dandelion roots and shoots to eat and leaves my medicines alone.

This morning I participated in a part of an assessment for care needs for a friend of mine. It was an educational experience for me, and brought to the fore  all the many ways that time  can rob our bodies and minds of  the capacity to cope on our own, and the great need for compassionate and competent people  to step in to support the elderly in our community.  When a person gets very old they have likely outlived most or all of their family and circle of friends, and that is especially when we all need to  be aware of the need for us to be  the replacement for those  missing family and friends.  That is definitely something to be prayed for  this evening.

May 19, 2013  It is one of those idyllic mornings at Friendly Forest.  The air  resonates with the  threatening honks of rival Canada Geese.  Other water birds  make their own sounds but the water is calm except for ripples  from swimming  animals.  There are no discernable mosquitoes yet, and a morning walk along some of the forest trails in short sleeves was a treat that will not be possible in the same way for much of the summer. 

The sun rose here at 05:20 ... at least that is when it made its appearance  over the trees to the East.  I was up to say "thanks" and to enjoy the gifts received.

Over the past few days I have been cleaning out my greenhouse and preparing the soil in the  raised beds for planting.  The soil I have there was primarily marsh  / bog soil, that is low in mineral content though it has a light organic texture.  Over the years I have added more mineralized soil and organic fertilizers, mainly compost and bone meal.  When I am careful about tending it  I have had  great summer crops of  tomatoes, cucumbers and various herbs for summer salads and pizza toppings.  I have not set out the tomato plants yet, but soon they will be getting the right size for the final transplant. 

Outdoors, the garden rings are showing  signs of  rapid spring  activity.  The chives are nearly ready to set out blossom  stems, the medicine plants are emerging from their root buds, and  the raspberries are leafing out.  My Greek Oregano has survived another winter and is sending up new shoots as well.  Some French Tarragon which had  survived  four winters  did not make it back last spring.  The mother bed of Sweetgrass is already sending up its first flower heads. 

In years past when I was looking for Sweetgrass in the wild I would look for the distinctive  flower / seed array in addition to the purple basal colour and the leaf arrangement.  I could never find the distinctive flower stems.  The main reason was that I was looking for those flowers at the time of year that other grasses  bloom.  Sweetgrass blooms very early in the year, well before other native grasses in this area.

Last spring I made a medicinal tincture from fresh, strong dandelions.  I still have a good supply so they are safe from my harvest activities, but not so from the mole population which is very active.  There are signs of mole activity in my garden area so I will likely not even attempt to grow any root crops this summer.  It is just a losing battle all the way.

When I was clearing out the greenhouse, I  decided to explore some of the birch blocks I had put there about three years ago.  I was  tired of stumbling over them or having to move them over  to new locations all the time.  I cut  a few open and took them to the shop and mounted them on the lathe.  A few were not  useful in that they were too punky, but others were  well spalted with wonderful colours.  I turned seven pieces and yesterday evening and this morning have been  sealing the wood and  preparing the insides for a coat of poly-resin that I should be able to apply later today.  I have posted  images to the Recent Work Gallery pages.  Working with dry birch instead of the green aspen was a treat. 

Some years back I came across a tip from a wood turner, from  a book, or from the WWW, that a final polishing of  a turned wood piece should be achieved by burnishing it with some of the  shavings / chips that had come from that same piece of wood.  Holding it firmly against the wood as it spins on the lathe  gives it a polish that even the finest sandpaper does not achieve.  A great  and useful tip. 

May 15, 2013  Winter has become summer in one  short  time span.  Now outdoor tasks  demand  attention and I still have  some unfinished aspects of recent wood projects .  I have posted some more images on my Recent Work page.

I had a request for two custom cremation urns.  That  alerted me that my  supply of these units had  shrunk to the point where customers really did not have a reasonable selection.  I made several types.  Over the years I found that about half of my sales of these units were special order / custom units.  That works if someone is pre-planning or if  there is no immediate service that requires that the cremains and urn be present.  For others, time is often  short and customizing  must also be limited. 

Many years ago a good friend of mine passed away and his widow really could not afford the high costs asked for by the local funeral home.  She asked me to make a simple  wood box for her husband's remains.  That urn was seen by others, and generated additional requests.  This is still the case.  My price range is from  $150.00 to about  $225.00.  I have been told that  units similar to mine  have price tags ranging from $400.00 to over $1,000.00.  That really bothers me. 

I had left the canvas  door flaps  on the entrance to my Initi open to allow  spring moisture to evaporate.  That was a mistake of sorts.  When I checked on it today I found that  a bird had  nearly finished a nest inside the  shelter.  I had to remove the nest and close the flaps, hoping that she would still be successful in finding a suitable nesting site soon.  I apologize to  their spirits for my oversight that led to that  disruption to their lives.

April 22, 2013  Nearing the end of April and we still have winter.  For this area, it puts us into the seventh long month of winter weather.  Radio commentary today announces that March and April have been the coldest months in 113 years.  Daily we are setting cold weather records. 

When we can do nothing about bringing Spring to the land I sometimes resort to making comfort foods such as this pot of  savoury Gypsy Soup; so-named because of its Mediterranean  origins.

It is a vegetarian recipe and uses the turmeric and chickpeas  so typical of  recipes from that part of the world.

During February, with the help of a friend, I was able to take down  several large Black and White Polar trees that were starting to die off and which would have threatened  the Initi if they came falling into the yard area.  Since they were near the pond edge, I thought it best to fell them onto the ice, buck them up there , and then drag them onto higher ground.  The base of the trees was  about 15 inches in diameter and it yielded large and very heavy blocks. 

Most of the wood blocks were solid to the core and  seemed good to use for some "green-wood" turning efforts. 

I enjoy turning green woods but  bringing these to a finished product does represent  several extra steps and more work.  White Poplar / Trembling Aspen wood is a bright creamy white colour. 

When turning green wood you have to get used to being sprayed by the wood sap coming from a spinning block of wood, and water dripping off the lathe tools.  I turn the  basic bowl shapes  and then bring them to the house to be dried using my microwave  ovens.  I find that using microwave energy speeds up the drying time from several weeks to  less than one day and does not require  the careful wrapping and slow drying as often described in books, and it certainly produces more usable items than simple air drying which often results in  serious checking and destruction of the whole bowl.  This is what one effort that was being dried in the microwave  looked like because there was a hairline fissure near the edge and which could not take the  internal tensions that happen during drying.

There were also several  efforts which exploded on the lathe as internal weaknesses were exposed as the  turning  became more fragile.  It is never a happy event when that happens but I find  it more acceptable at that stage than  after the investment of even more hours of work.

I did complete a series of bowl which can be found by going to my Recent Work I page  or clicking on this image:

February 26, 2013  Once month later, and it is again the day after the Full Moon and the Inipi prayer at Friendly Forest.  While I was waiting for the Tunkas to get hot I finished painting  images on a new Tipi cover and door.  I have downsized to a 16 foot tipi from the previous 18 footer.  It should be easier to raise  and will serve my purposes  well.

Click on this image to go to a page which shows  all of the images added to the canvas.

January 27, 2013  Yesterday was Full Moon and the day for Inipi ceremony at Friendly Forest.  I started preparations at first light  and was splitting the logs for the fire in  minus 25 degree weather.  It was just the right temperature in that the logs split  easily and it was not too cold to  be outside.

I enjoy the preparation and prayer time leading to the  actual bringing of the Tunkas into the Lodge.  Yesterday I  had a rather rare opportunity to  pray this ceremony,  being the only  living representative of the Two-legged Nation to be part  of the process.

When I have this situation, which happens  about once or twice a year, I find  that I do not have to verbalize / vocalize the prayers or actively focus my  prayer attentions to  those others sitting within the Initi, nor do I need to pay special consideration to keeping the temperatures  within the comfort zone of other prayer participants. (On that point, on my return to the house and with a glance in the mirror, I  concluded that I had  it quite hot as my head and face were quite red.

My prayer focus was  directed to so many  that I know who are suffering  serious illness at this time.  I enjoy, what I consider to be, remarkable good health and vigour,  Even an aching shoulder which is probably the result of  wrestling the snow blower too vigorously and  a previous injury years ago, remind me  that  this is the only  discomfort that I need to bear.  This winter has been a difficult one for many with widespread flu and other  respiratory illnesses, and so far I have escaped unscathed.

Quite a few years ago I had created a mixture of  medicinal plants that grow in this area and used it to make a very drinkable medicinal tea.  I have  relied on this mixture  over the years as a "tonic" and  when I felt my body weakening or beginning to succumb to illness.  This past summer I used some of the plant mixture to make a tincture  so it would be available  all the time and  would not require the brewing of a hot water tea.  I did an alcohol extraction first, and then a hot water decoction of the mixture, and then blended the two for the final product.  I am gaining confidence in the healthful effects this tincture  has for me.  I am most thankful to  the many plant people, Native Canadians, and those of European background, whose experiences  with these plants and their medicinal uses, has been shared with me both orally and through printed materials.  This gives me  a level of confidence I would not have otherwise in their safe use practices.

Thus, just one more special gift from Creator through Earth Mother, Bear and Thunderbird to help me along my journey along the Sacred Hoop.  (I noted that it was 9 years ago on January 24th that my then-mentor, Don, conducted ceremony and  gave me the Dakota name  which describes  my journey.  It was also at that ceremony that I was instructed to  rise early and do morning prayer before the sun rose in the sky.  I have adhered to that directive  with few exceptions ever since.  During our long winter nights it is easy to do, but near summer solstice, the sun rises at 04:30, and that  is not always a happy time to be rolling out of bed for prayers.  Even my monastic days did not require me to be up that early!

For those who do not  rise early and are not able to take quiet time before the  activities of our busy lives take over, you are missing a great blessing.  What might seem to be a hardship is really a wonderful gift.

January 19, 2013  I have created a page showing the table that I have just completed.

Click on the image of the table to go to the page that shows more images of this table.

January 5, 2013  I have just archived last year's entries for this page.  Links to archive pages can be found at the bottom of this page.

The weather has  become mild for this time of year and I took advantage of that to go for a long snow show hike in the forest.  Edward liked it but by time we return to the house the ice balls  between the toes of his feet had become large and bothersome. 

I have also been adding images to the birch table I made last spring for my living room.  I constructed the table and just when it was finished, the weather  became warm and I decided  spring and summer tasks were more pressing and more enjoyable.  The finishing work could wait for  rainy days or for next winter.  At this time I have run out of excuses.

Way back in 1993 I collected leaves of various trees and shrubs  from the forest and  lay them neatly between paper and then sandwiched those between two  pieces of gyp rock.  They were placed on top of the clothes closet and remained there till I finally painted on top of the closet last spring and  brought them down.  They had  preserved very well, and I  stored them in a box.  A few days ago they came out  of the box and were models for the sketches I added to the table.  Now I am  doing the pyrography on the raw wood.

When the burning is complete I will need to seal the wood and then add colour using the aniline dyes that work so well for this kind of work.

I have also  placed an order for flooring tiles for the upper level of my home.  I had installed vinyl-asbestos tiles, commercial grade, when I first built the house.  They  served me well but in recent years, especially in winter months, the corners of some of the tiles  curl slightly and lift.   If they are bumped by moving furniture or even a sliding shoe, they  break and  leave a hole.  At the time of installation, the tiles were  fully accepted, but since then we know of the dangers of the asbestos  in the tile.  Leaving them in place  makes much more sense than trying to remove them, so the new floor tiles will  be laid over the old floor.  Although I believe I could have learned how to install the new floor, I made a decision to have professionals do the installation as well. 

This decision represents a real change for me in some ways.  It is not that I lack the confidence to do the work myself but rather a change in attitude and an unwillingness to prolong the work and living with  the construction mess for a longer time than necessary.  I am sure it would have taken me at least a week or more of work and the installer has  slated only three days for the work.

I have opted for a porcelain  tile with a neutral grey rock/ marble  texture with no contrasting pattern.  That will change the appearance  significantly .  The pattern I have lived with for over 20 years featured  dark blue tiles  outlining traffic lanes and  functional areas such as sitting, table and kitchen areas. 

In deciding to keep to a light  and neutral  effect I  was influenced by the  wonderful reflective light that I get in the house during the Spring to Fall period.  Dark floors would have worked  but would have swallowed too much light.  Also, I like to navigate the house in the night with only the assist of a few night-lights  that  give very low-level illumination.  I  can clearly see furniture and other obstructions that would not be visible against a dark floor.  Safety was also a deciding factor.

I have  made a new medicinal tincture from Golden Rod and another batch from the Daldinia concentrica. 

December 28 was full moon and I held the Inipi ceremony despite the cold weather we had at that time.  I had  tentatively planned to only bring the hot rocks in twice instead of the  traditional four times.  However, in my prayer I found myself asking for the courage to undertake difficult things in the new year, and  having voiced that prayer to Creator, and having asked for assistance in those undertakings, I  decided  it would be a  good thing for me to brave the cold all four times  in the normal way and not seek to do it the easy way. 

It was a good prayer time and I am most grateful to Creator for  letting me  have these opportunities each month.

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