The Canyon in Us: Me and Mattie, And Potato Nettle Soup

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was out on the plaza watching my beloved busk with his one-man-band outfit a few weeks ago when I saw a woman fluttering by in a beautiful, long, hooded beige coat dress. It was funny, I only saw her back, but there was something so familiar about her… it was almost like seeing a little piece of myself. My rational brain just thought “Oh, it’s because she’s wearing something I would wear, that’s why I feel this.”

A few minutes later, she came back down the street and stood right in front of me. “Loba??” Is it you? WHAT are you doing here?”

(here’s a little moment of Mattie being her beautiful self here!)

A little yet-untold back story for my readers here, that some of you already know from reading the Anima blog I was a sporadic contributor to for at least a dozen years: Elka has only been my name for about the past four years. Before that, my name was Loba for twenty years. Before that, I had another name that I dearly loved, and still love. (You can find out what it was here in the second story that appears).

It took me a few seconds to adjust my eyes to see this person apart from the only context I was used to.  “MATTIE, is that you???”

I’d been thinking about Mattie, I’d been wanting to contact her, but had lost track of her email and didn’t remember her last name. I figured she was probably back in Montana, where she was from.

She was one of my all-time favorite helpers in the canyon, and stayed quite a bit longer than most of our other helpers did. I have many beautiful memories of us baking together in the outdoor kitchen, sharing songs, harvesting and cooking up the wild greens of summertime with endless panfuls of homemade corn tortillas, floating in the river, doing water dances in the moonlight with our lovely & mischievous friend Evangeline, sharing tears and fears, stories of our lives and some of the powerful moments we each had on our own with the canyon.

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Healer’s Night Soup

Last night was quite the event in our house. Jessica (who recently changed her name to Camitza) shared an inspiration about a month or two ago of our home hosting nights in which local people could get together and offer their healing practices to each other. As we were all discussing the logistics of ways this could work, and not work well, it eventually became evident to her that we needed to do a practice run.  Read more

A Happy Spring Breakfast!

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It doesn’t take long to make and eat a simple breakfast of eggs and vegetables. But how many days of the week do we actually do something like this for ourselves?  If you say “nearly every day”, yay for you! I’ve made these kinds of breakfasts many, many days of my life. And, back in the canyon, by the time I left, Rhiannon was very good at whipping up wonderful egg and veggie breakfasts for all of us. So when Monica made us this one, it was a very warm, familiar feeling, to be cooked for with love and attention! Read more

A Valentine to my New Kitchen

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

An appropriate day it is, for sharing some more about my new home here at 130 Orange Street, also known as Kindler’s Haus. Kindler was the man who bought this very strange and amazing structure I now call home, many years ago, and totally redesigned it. He was a very eccentric man. Among other things, he was an environmental activist, piano tuner, book and music lover, community builder, and a father. Legend has it that his wife returned from a long journey one day, opened the front door, and found that there was no floor to step on. It was not long after that that she decided to leave him. He died last year, and his son Asha (our landlord) inherited the house. I met Asha one beautiful snowy day up on Mount Ashland, the day of Bobcat’s Snow Blessing Ceremony. Bobcat is an old friend of Wolf’s from his activist days, so really it was thanks to Wolf that I made it to this ceremony, and ended up meeting Asha, Jules, and Jessica, who were all present that day. We all connected in a beautiful way that day, along with several other new friends, and of course Bobcat, who I got to spend some quality time with before he drove several hours back to his land in Northern California.

So many stories, which ones to tell?

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On Missing People and Places

I was talking to my dear coworker Kimberly about missing Rhiannon, quite calmly at first, but then I lost my composure and was so glad for the absence of customers. Now I’m home and the rest of the house is laughing downstairs, watching a comedy. The kitchen is quiet and full of dirty dishes, ginger tea brewing on the stove and three kinds of good chocolate open on the counter. The fridge and fruit baskets are nearly empty today- the first time since I’ve been in this house (I’ve recently moved– more about that next time!) that I’ve seen this happen– but still, this kitchen always manages to feel abundant in just about everything– chaos, inspiration, love and affection, ideas, potential things to make or to sit and contemplate or just enjoy.

The laughter is sweet and heart warming. I know I’m not really as lonely as I feel, right now, in general, but at the moment it’s hard to access my usual feeling of connection. Read more

Chasing the Sun

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Stopping halfway up the mountain to add some coolant to the van.

When Rhiannon was little, one of our favorite things to do in the late afternoon was to climb the mountainsides, following the last rays of sunshine, from one golden patch of beauty to the next. Sometimes we’d bring a little treat to enjoy along the way. Here in Oregon, in my brand-new life, I’ve been keeping up this practice.   In Ashland, the mountainsides are only a few minutes from the bustling little town streets. It’s easy to get caught up in all the demands and distractions of every day life, and miss the outside moments that keep our souls fed, as we all know so well! And having someone special to share the beauty with– what a blessed treat! Here’s some recent photos of some of these little jaunts. Read more

No Small Thing

It’s been a really weird week here, not to mention the weeks before  that, the election, Standing Rock, and all the other escalating craziness all over the world. I keep thinking of Blue’s Journal, which is a recurring thread in Wolf’s novel The Kokopelli Seed. Wolf started writing this book way back in 1980 (incidentally, the same year Kiva was born, which is interesting because it was the same year the character that Kiva was named from was formed in Wolf’s consciousness, more on that maybe another time!) Blue’s Journal is the collection of notes by one of the main characters that chronicles notable events—natural, as in earthquakes, political uprisings, terrorist attacks, and random very odd occurrences. Read more

Welcome To the Enchanted Valley!

 

Hello Friends!

What do you know, here I am back at this blog again!
Life has been kind of insane lately. Things that I never expected to happen are happening. It’s scary, it’s painful, it’s raw, it’s real, it’s beautiful… and it’s totally Wild..

I always thought that someday I’d be the old woman of the canyon, stirring pots of soup and making pies in my beautiful wood stove oven, my kitty cats climbing on my shoulder. Drinking tea in my outdoor kitchen while I watched the sun rise through the mist. Gazing at those cliffs every day of my life, feeling like the luckiest lady in the world. Walking the same paths, noticing the same plants, seeing the same birds and lizards and bugs and skunks hopping and crawling and waddling around, and feeling so glad to see every little creature that shared the canyon with me.

But what was starting to happen there in the canyon is that I was feeling too lonely, and a little bit restless. Maybe it’s just a typical mid-life crisis. But for the past year, I’ve been fighting it. I’ve been trying so hard to make everything ok, and convince myself that if I could just love myself enough, maybe I could quit feeling like I needed to be around more people, and NEW people, singing and dancing and sitting around outdoor fires. Shopping at farmer’s markets. It might seem silly, but these are the things I felt like I was missing the most. But also, just being around little kids, and old people, and feeling like I was part of a larger community than just my family.

But, I tried as hard as I could. I really, really did. And I just couldn’t shake it.

So, to make a very long story short, I’ve ended up here, in this beautiful valley in Southern Oregon that is truly some kind of magical oasis. It’s just 16 miles from the border of Northern California, so it has the weather of California along with the fertility of the North West. When I walk the streets here, I see chestnut trees and blackberry vines, wild rose bushes, and acorns that are about 4 or 5 times the size of the ones in the canyon. There’s rosemary flourishing in so many yards, spilling over practically onto the sidewalks. There’s grape vines bearing really fat grapes that I can smell from many yards away.

I really, really love it here. It’s totally magical, but in a very different way than the enchanted canyon. I miss New Mexico hugely though. I miss the crazy blue of the skies, the feeling in the air, the weather there, the lay of the land and the very unique kind of wildness that that place has, where it’s really easy to feel like you’re in some kind of old Western movie. And of course, I miss the canyon.

I miss my enchanted kitchen and its perfect, curvy countertops that Wolf made with his own, beautiful hands. I miss the river and the cliffs, and my little dock patch, and the wild mustard and the tiny acorns we have there that are so much more flavorful. Really, I miss every little thing there so much. I miss my giant school bus closet with its ridiculous amount of clothes, I miss my solar refrigerator, I miss my knives and my wooden spoons and my 12 bins of fabric for the sewing projects I hardly ever seem to be able to make time for. I miss my Singer treadle that used to be Wolf’s grandmother’s. I miss the rocking chair that I sat at the table in the outdoor kitchen. I miss my darling kitty cats… sooo much.

And it kind of goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway, how much I miss my family. It’s really hard to even go there in my mind without tears welling up in my eyes. Even in my happiest times here, already, at any point in time I could go to the park and bawl my eyes out at how hard it feels to be separated from them. It’s crazy to love and miss people so much, and yet to know that it really is better for all of us for me not to be there.

It’s just not right for me to be with people I love so much, and yet to feel the least bit ambivalent about being with them. It doesn’t honor them, and it doesn’t honor me. It’s really hard to deal with this. I want to have my cake, and eat it too, but life just doesn’t work like that. We have to make choices. And for every choice we make, there is a price. Sometimes the price just seems to difficult or high to pay. But what is the alternative?

More than anything, I don’t want to become the old, bitter, resentful woman of the canyon. Really, I can’t allow it. The canyon doesn’t deserve that, and neither do I, and neither do my most beloved ones. But I think it was seriously in danger of happening, if I stayed.

So here I am, taking the leap of faith. Of all the places in the world I could have gone, I picked this place because I trust Wolf so much. From all his years of traveling and performing in his Deep Ecology Medicine Shows, he felt strongly that this town I am in, Ashland, Oregon, was the place where I would feel most welcomed with open arms, and feel safe enough to be myself to my fullest– singing and dancing and finding my own way through my days. A place where people often leave things unlocked, where folks you talk to on the phone that you haven’t even met yet, call you “Love”. As in,”Thanks for calling, Love!” It is a place full of sweetness and kindness, open arms and open hearts. Singers, dancers, artists, and musicians. People that, even after only 5 days here, I am starting to feel really are my tribe.