Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Took the plunge, finally! (New Etsy Shop)

After a lot of encouragement from friends and family, I've opened up an Etsy shop to sell some of my beads, focals and miniature vessel creations. I don't have a lot in there at the moment, and no finished pieces yet - but I'm going to work on it for the next few months and see how things go.

The link is Ritual Offerings Etsy Shop

Here are a few more of the items online right now...

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Oil People: You are what you eat

This is a set I'm calling "Oil People: You Are What You Eat." It's made from a lovely matte metallic glass, and expresses the fact that most of us are actually made of oil.

No, really - we are. You see, there used to be a whole lot fewer of us on the Earth. Then along came the discovery of cheap and relatively abundant energy in the form of fossil fuels, mainly oil. The unearned largess left to us by the captured solar energy of the past enabled us to create huge and complicated machines to do a lot of the work of survival for us, and mandated huge and complicated social and economic systems to support those machines. On top of that, we use oil and natural gas to mine phosphates and to create nitrogen for fertilizers that enabled us to artificially sustain much-heavier-than-natural growth of the plants we and our food animals eat, so another consequence of all this cheap energy was a suddenly much greater supply of agricultural products (especially food) which has enabled our human populations to literally explode.

Now there are a whole lot more humans alive than there has ever been in all of our planet's history. However, most of us wouldn't even be here without the cheap energy oil has provided - this is why I chose a glass for this set that has a lot of the visual characteristics of an oil slick. But the problem is, oil is a finite resource. Some day soon we will have to fully face that fact, and our population will once again drop back to sustainable levels that reflect what our planet is able to carry without "cheating" by using up fossil energy from the way far back past.

Unfortunately, our species has shown a lot of signs that we will likely choose to fight and to kill for the last energy effective drops of this limited resource. And that is the reason why the all of the focals in this set are skulls. If we had only listened to what the earth was trying to tell us about limits before we reached this point, we could have avoided the wars and death that are likely to follow. But, we didn't. People are just not very good at planning ahead, especially when it involves sacrifice. And what is to come will be all the more tragic for our species because of that.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Earth Path Report for 2009

The Earth Path has three goals. I will list them and then give a report on my progress for the year below each.

1. Performance of a regular series of experiences and practices designed to increase your awareness and knowledge of the natural world, and to decrease the negative impact of your own life on the living Earth.

Hiking and camping: We again spent a lot more time outdoors camping and hiking than we did the previous year. We bought a little old used camping trailer and fixed it up - now we have a mobile home base that will allow us to stay out longer, sleep in comfort, and still get in plenty of sunshine, fresh air and take in beautiful views. One of our favorite places this year was Toppance Canyon, which we visited twice this year for long weekends. It has a lovely creek running through it, Toppance Creek, and a nice mix of open meadows, feeder creeks and woodsy hillsides. We did a lot of hiking and some grouse hunting up in the hills this summer and fall there, and thoroughly enjoyed it.

We also spent a lot more time fishing and tried a couple of new places we'd never been to before. I re-discovered how much I enjoy being out in a kayak on a lake or stream! And fishing from one proved to be just the ticket - we spent several afternoons out on a local pond fishing from kayaks and caught our limit of delicious young trout nearly every time. Instead of flies or bait, though, we used roostertail spinbaits. The trout just tear those up - can't seem to leave them alone. :-)

Our goal for the next year is to continue to explore Idaho further, including taking some trips to special places for hiking and rockhounding purposes. Because I like to make "meaningful jewelry" from semi-precious gemstones and my lampwork art glass, I thought I might enjoy finding and personally preparing some of the stones that I will use for future projects. Idaho is a rockhound's paradise, so this coming year I have in mind at least two, and possibly three outings to places that are known for having interesting finds. I especially want to try my hand at panning for Idaho garnets, and if I find some of the right size, tumbling and polishing them, then drilling them for use in jewelry.

Eating more local food and wasting it less: This year we've met our goal of eating locally a consistent 75%. We've done this by buying local basics in bulk, gardening intensively here at the house, buying produce from local vendors, and preserving what we can find locally in season so it can be used later in the year. Something that made a big difference this year was finding some local folks raising beef and pork. We bought the animals "on the hoof" and then paid a local butcher to slaughter, cut and wrap them for us. The animals were raised in humane surroundings, butchered close to home and the steer was also grass fed and not given unnecessary hormones or antibiotics. Turns out the Farmer's Market, while cool, isn't the only game in town. Craigslist is a virtual cornucopia of places to get local foods! We split both the half beef and the pig with some friends of ours that live in north Idaho, and both families were well pleased with the meat. We're planning to do this again this year and to branch out to local chevon and lamb, and perhaps split a farm-raised elk in the fall.

The garden this year was a tremendous success, in spite of some very odd weather and a rather significant reduction in our already short growing season. We literally had wheelbarrow loads of tomatoes! We are STILL eating some of the "Long Keepers" as I write this, nearly three months after harvesting them! Those are definitely going back in next year, it's a wonderful luxury to have fresh home-grown tomatoes so far into the winter. They aren't anywhere near as tasty as summer 'maters, but they'll definitely do.

This year we froze a lot more fresh vegetables, but I still managed to can 3 or 4 hundred more jars of local fruits, vegetables, meats and broth, condiments and pickles to replace what we ate last year and augment our storage. I also ventured further into making our own condiments, putting up some very tasty homemade ketchup, chutney, bbq sauce and hot sauce in addition to the sweet and dill relish, jams, jellies and other things I already do.

Next year we are going to add more storage foods to our garden by using some space at my folks' home to grow things that require a lot of room, like corn, popcorn, sunflower seeds, winter squash, dry and green beans. If all goes well, we should be able to keep our 75% local goal and maybe even do a little bit better. I don't think we will ever be able to be 100% local unless the food system collapses, but 75% is pretty darned good, I think. Especially for people who must, for now, live in the city.

Composting and recycling: We joined our local recycling program this year, and I'm happy to report that this has enabled us to recycle a much larger portion of our refuse than in the past. We probably are recycling around half of it now, whereas before it was more like 10% or so. I am happy with this improvement, and don't mind paying the extra 5 bucks a month to help make it happen.

We are doing a little better with our composting efforts. We have a bucket for scraps on the kitchen counter now and if we will only try to remember to empty it more often, then I will be happy with our progress there, too! That's unfortunately what you get when you have two rather absent-minded adults running the place...

2. Participation in a regular series of seasonal Druid celebrations, including at least the two solstices and two equinoxes, which are traditional in the AODA.

Again, as I said last year - since I'm a solitary here, nearly all of my holy day celebrations have been either just minor affairs for my own benefit, or "virtual" gatherings with the AODA Inner Grove group. I've attended *all* of the Inner Grove rituals this year. I've also begun some preliminary work on some rituals that I'll be using in my Third Degree project.

One thing that is new this year - I'm making some plans to start a study group here at some point in the future - just in case someone else in the area decides they want to experience and study druidry. As far as I know I'm the only AODA druid in this area - for all I know I may be the only druid in the area, period! But, you just never know what the future holds. I'm going to call the study group the "Golden Aspen Group" after the lovely aspen trees we have here. We saw some this fall while out exploring and I have some pictures that are just wonderful. I'll try to post them later. This aspen grove was an old grove we stumbled upon while hiking. The tree trunks were pretty massive for aspen, and the trees themselves were tall and lovely. It was a magical spot. I wish it was closer so I could visit it more often, but if it was, it would probably get spoiled.

3. Practice of a regular series of spiritual exercises including daily meditation.

My meditation practice is becoming a bit more regular. I'm meditating now whenever I can find even a few minutes spare time and some quiet space. I would like to meditate more often and for longer periods of time, but sometimes it's just hard to get that much time alone and uninterrupted. I'm going to keep working at it, and as long as I can say every year that I've improved, then I'm going to call it "good enough." Maybe some day my life won't be quite so hectic, but for now, this is the way it is.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Druid's Egg Art Glass Focal

Here is something I made while messing around on the torch the other day. It's a focal bead in the shape of an egg. It's a type of bead called a "galaxy" bead. I am calling it Druid's Egg, because of the shape and because it has a bit of the magic of the Universe inside it. I may make some other beads to accent it and see how it looks in a necklace soon.

Better pictures of Land and Sea...

I finally got my photo set up back together, and took some better pictures of Land and Sea yesterday.

I'm thinking about replacing the triple oak clusters with something custom made from Art Clay Copper later this year, because while the ones I'm using currently are nice, they don't lay quite like I'd like them to.

Here is a closeup of the focal on Sea:

Sky is still under construction, but I'm hoping to have that finished up soon. I've been hip deep in projects for the past couple of months, so this has had to take a back seat for a bit. But I'm still determined to finish as soon as I can so I can start my Third Degree work.