Posts Tagged ‘Oregon’

Dreams Come True at the Oregon Country Fair

Sometimes a highly anticipated experience can surpass keen hopes and dreams. Gratefully the Oregon Country Fair did just that. For nearly ten years I have heard of this free-spirited three-day extravaganza and let my imagination roll around, wondering what could make people sigh so contentedly when they thought of their days on the fairgrounds.

IMG_0640A road trip was in order. Our first stop was to visit my dear friend Ann in Upper Lake. We ate delicious calamari and wings and listened to jazz at the Blue Wing Saloon and perused her new store Upper Lake Mercantile where I traded my pottery for a beautiful recycled rug – perfect for camping… or should I say glamping.

IMG_0600Rambling through the Pacific Coastline we stayed next with Sageman Drums Familia – Kris, Jimmy, Althea and Finn in the Avenue of the Giants – surrounded by ancient redwood forests, ripe blackberries bushes and such amazing good friends and people.

IMG_0605We found Oregon campsites perfectly suited to our needs, bought local jam and rose quartz (definitely for glamping), ate local fish and chips, drank local beer and eased our way into Cascadia – a bioregion in Pacific Northwest, social movement and vision for a country of compatible, open, ecologically focused people. After five days on the road we set up camp at Elfen Wood campgrounds just 1,000 yards from Oregon Country Fair and took a nap in the hammock.

IMG_0678Oregon Country Fair invites you to be the kid running pell mell down a hill with your arms flapping or trying out cartwheels for the first time or dressing up like a cupcake or a tiger or a tree.FullSizeRender (7)

This buoyant open-hearted pulse vibrates through the entire grounds and forms a circle of protection for loving kindness. Its three days without hearing a sharp word spoken surrounded by hundreds of joyous people. Even or maybe especially the babies and kids emanate pure bliss and delight.

IMG_0675IMG_0674There is just so much to see and do with parades, meditation centers, yoga, sacred altars, vaudeville acts, belly dancers, ecology booths, tanning workshops and many stages and alcoves with performers of spoken word, ecstatic Kirtan, hip hop, classic violin, live drumming, rock, funk, on and on it went. The crafted work from pottery to jewelry to glasswork and metal work is so yummy, so dreamy. Joey absolutely spoiled me with treasures. And the food was so tasty and full of flavor.


My absolute favorite moments: trading The Wicca Cookbook for a t-shirt from my inspiration Jen Delyth, creator of the iconic Celtic Tree of Life, and when a girl of 11 or so screamed with sheer delight for her friend who juggled 14 times – absolutely thrilled for her friend’s success. Where else do you find that kind of support – but at Fair.FullSizeRender (6)

Here you feel your bigness and truest oddball self and know deep acceptance. This full expression of being opens possibilities of how to be in everyday life. It’s so tangible, so real that all the drive home I imagined stepping into the Light of My Greatness all the way home and was greeted by an email inviting me to Faeland Festival in New York. That’s what I call an
answer from the Universe.


Rambling Roses

I had the best intentions of finishing that rambling road trip to Oregon awhile ago, but life, or perhaps I should say death had different plans for me. October is the end of the Celtic Year when the veil between the worlds is thinnest and if you pay attention you can feel the spirits on the other side as the darkest time of the year prevails. With my best friend dancing with cancer for the entire year, I was walking the line between Life and Death – living large for me and Melinda, so I could come home and sit on her couch with my now bald friend and tell her stories of my adventures, so listen up friend….

bad ass cancer babe20150922_122839Joey and I left our wooden haven for Crater Lake and picnicked by the deep blue waters. (I ate too much cheese). Then we headed for the quaint town of Bend to visit Deschuttes Brewery, where we met a lovely couple who told us we must visit the waterfalls in Silver Falls. silver-falls-state-park

By the way, you get FOUR FREE tasters at Deschuttes (my favorite is Fresh Squeezed). We walked behind the falls and I grazed my hand on the wet rock and moss covered railings, leaning over to feel the mist. Fairies live here – spirits on the other side of the veil.

We shot out to the coast and camped in Newport with a visit to Rogue Ales Pub House. The boats creaked in the harbor, as salty as the characters in the bar. And the kimchi crab sliders were insanely delicious!!

20150923_174715We got fresh oysters in Coos Bay to barbecue at the family wedding on cousin Elise’s Oshala Farm, where Joey met another 20 or so of my free-spirited, gypsy relatives and see how very close this apple stayed to her roots. We stayed in a tree house in Cave Junction, about 40 feet above the ground.

IMG954100Oh yes, Melinda, it was a grand time. A few weeks later I went with good friends  to the Hollywood Cemetery in celebration of Dia de los Muertos. It was then I got the first real awareness that you were not going to be with me much longer and next year, I would be dedicating an altar to you. I just about lost it. So I wrote you a letter and told you how close to the veil you felt and asked you to give me a sign so that when you were gone, I would know you were nearby. We forgot to do that.

Or maybe neither one of us wanted to admit what it meant to have a tumor so big. Or that when it popped or whatever it did that the poison was now filling up your entire body. We made plans to go on a double date to Big Bear the first week of December. But you were too sick, so Joey and I went alone. I beat Joey in bumper pool and wanted to have you there. You never met Joey.20160110_124811

Three days later you went into the hospital, two days later home to hospice and two days later you transitioned to the invisible realm, behind the veil. Ah, girl, I miss you. You passed the same day as my father five years ago and again I await El Nino to mirror the deluge of my tears. I hope you felt honored with the ceremony I created for you. The day after your transition is dedicated to Our Lady of Guadalupe, who has always been a source of comfort to me, and who has offered signs of her omnipresence for 500 years.Virgin Guadalupe

I recently looked up our text messages

YOU: Thinking of you and all I love and how I want to spend the rest of my life showing my love

ME: I hope you take decades

YOU: That’s the plan.

I still feel you, girl. I know you are here and I will continue to share my adventures with you, my beloved friend.

A Rambling Ride – Day One

Armed with a couple of maps and a highlighter, Joey and I took off for a rambling ride through northern California and Oregon for my nephew’s wedding on Oshala Farm in Applegate Valley, Oregon. We passed sad, tiny towns that had more closed than open businesses before reaching  Susanville, a place I’ve always wanted to visit after reading my boys a wonderful book called Home to Medicine Mountain.

20151002_205236The author tells the experiences of her father Benny Len and her Uncle Stanley who as boys were taken from their home on Yo-Tim Yamne (Medicine Mountain) in Susanville to attend a school in Riverside for Native American children. They so desperately missed their Grandmother’s stories of Pa’nom, the brave brown bear that watches over the people who live near Medicine Mountain, the sound of clap sticks during the Bear Dance and leaves of sweet-smelling mumuni leaves. So when summer came, in the dead of the night, the boys escaped by riding the rails all the way home to Medicine Mountain.20151002_205213

I so deeply understand the yearning to be free and I agree with Benny Len who didn’t understand why he had to wear shoes that separated him from Mother Earth or how time could move in neat little lines on a clock when at home time was never the same, sometimes “slow as a waterbug drifting downstream in summer and other days slipped by as quickly as a coyote melting into the shadows.”  Perhaps some day I will find a home that brings me such good medicine. For now, its the road that makes me free and causes time to become obsolete in comparison to the experiences and connections made along the way.

20150921_143704We left Susanville for Lassen National Forest where we picnicked on leftover Buffalo Wild Wings off the truck’s tailgate. Then passed through Hog Flat Reservoir. I love these names! Dana had made a rocking road trip CD for us, which we sang along with as we drove toward the majestic Mount Shasta. Dana really should start a business of these personalized burnt CDs!


One day I will have wings like these.

We stopped in Mt. Shasta City and came upon a lovely farmers market where we got heirloom tomatoes and blackberries. I found some excellent goat’s milk lotion from a sweet woman who raises her own goats. Check her out at Baby G Soaps. This town has more crystal shops than Sedona! I bought a Serpentine because it matched my outfit for the wedding and it opens the chakras, clears mental and emotional imbalances, and helps one to feel more in control of life. 20150921_174626

Next we found Mt. Shasta brewery in the town of Weed. The beer was good and the ambiance a cross between a musty country store and a flea market complete with vintage bicycles suspended from the high ceilings with headlamps for night lighting and burlap sacks for transporting marijuana.

Then we headed back into the woods and found a nice little sneak camp spot for good night’s rest under the stars.

This Pedestal for Which I Stand

Who among us does not wish for comfort? Once held, security is hard to release without the hollow feeling of desperate abandonment taking a fierce hold. Cold and scared, the newly destitute must wonder if it would have been better to have never known the wonders of a full belly, the delicate softness of silk or the freedom of travel and choice.

At least this is how I have long imagined and empathized with the forgotten fall of my Californio ancestors who lost their land, their way of life, and their privileged standing when California became a state of the union. Years of digging into the historic annals that depict their habits, clothing, character, prestige, intelligence and eventual vulnerability have fueled a longing to assuage this wound and restore their dignity through the only way I know how. Words. I tried to put these ghosts to rest through my published books (Latino Writer’s and Journalists and Rogelia’s House of Magic), two unfinished books (Born in Blood and Hauntingly Familiar) and a screenplay Standing Against the Storm: Toypurina’s Legend.

And still I shed tears for their pain.

You can’t imagine the swirl of emotions I felt watching Romeo and Juliet (playing now through November) at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, which placed the centuries old tale in Alta California in 1840s. As soon as I saw the silver buttons down the men’s pants, colorful sash at the hips and distinctive hat, plus the women’s full silken skirts and mantillas, I knew this was a family story come to life. I smiled broadly as if truly present to a Californio fiesta with the music that somehow has carried its tune in my heart for 200 years. I sighed when I saw the father daughter relationship between Don Capulet and Juliet that so reminds me of my grandfather and his love and protection. And the one book I still intend to breathe life into.

The American flag caught my breath though and it has stayed there, as a wall to a fresh set of tears.

From the program:

“The intimidating US occupation inevitably helps to aggravate the simmering feud between the two great families. For prominent Don Capulet, a marriage between his daughter and a respected American officer would prove highly advantageous in the face of the onslaught of the New Order. Conversely, for any ambitious American, an alliance with an aristocratic Californio family, with its wealth and political influence, would be a profitable coup.”

I must admit it is hard for me to ask for empathy via storytelling for privileged gentry. Perhaps I’m drawn to this attempt because I know as Americans we are the same. Children in our own land pick fruits and vegetables for our table, but enjoy none because it is too expensive. Children half way across the world wipe their desk clean of coal dust from the energy generated so that we may continue to use far more than our share of resources.

I want to get off this pedestal. But I fear the fall.

Transcending Work into Art

Alive soil feeds the soul as well as the body. Dead soil strips the soul spirit and the life force that it was intended to nurture. Terra (Earth) Vita (Life) fed my soul these past five days…


Spring green meadows, dotted with conifers, impossibly beautiful, rolled and undulated over the curvature of Mother Earth below me. More open land than construction, asphalt or man-made linear boxes that herald civilization. Circular, flowing soft lines – signs of life in movement, healthy, true and real – natural. This is the welcoming sight of southern Oregon.

Silence enveloped me as I walked through the woods and tall fresh, tender grass and hopped creeks as the warm May sun begged me to allow its rays to caress more of my bare skin.

Standing in the open barn, I attached wires to bee box frames for TerraVita Springs, Cousin Elise’s working farm, while listening to Bob Marley and Neal Young and looking down the fecund valley. There will be 30 hives, which means 300 frames that require a process of nails, staple gun and a tight wire that will support the honey, even in hot weather. I completed 25 frames and trained two interns to take over.

The chill of the morning mountain fog swirled around my ankles as I inoculated felled branches with Shitake mushrooms. First, pick off the lichen, scrape the bark so it’s nearly smooth, drill holes four inches apart, put in the spore (Night Velvet strain), pound it in with a mallet and cover with wax. I finished one out of the 100 to be completed.

A dream of a writer’s workshop here on this mountain bubbled to the surface. In my dream, creative wordsmiths will work in the farm in the mornings and write in the afternoon. The content and camaraderie would inform the writing. I don’t know if I’m pushing myself beyond my capabilities again – whether I will teach or simply hold space. But I know that I am drawn to honest manual labor and work with my hands to prepare food and medicine. My sweat will find rivulets for transmission in the written words as stories, poems and essays capture my relationship with self, others and nature. Swirling words transcending work into art.