Because we didn't quite have enough to do...
we added two goat babies to our farm.* On our way to pick up Demetrius and Dionysus, we had in mind we'd get two girls, balance out the crew we thought... and yet... we came home with two of the cutest baby boys. Then my friend Jay asked if we could over-winter his two Scottish Highland cows.
Mike and I thought about it for Almost
an entire minute, followed by a loud and harmonious, "YES!" The next thing that happened was what you'd expect...The cows jumped the goat fence, held it down for the five goats to escape, then turned back to taunt Mike and I. We ran here and there, chasing and running, grabbing one animal while just missing the other. Quickly reacting to the chaos, I ran to the barn to gather buckets of grain. With a few Pavlovian-esq shakes all the goats were collected. I looked back to find the cows way out in the road closely inspecting the Triple Helix.
As soon as I showed them the grain they were interested. "AWESOME! .... Oh. Wait.... Runnnnnnn!!!....." Heading to the barn faster than ever, both cows hot on my heals [though I am learning, I know little about cows...I figures, as you might when chased by cows, that they were going to eat me or at least trample me --- mentally insert the running of the bulls in Pamplona complete with me in a Toreador outfit]. Mike unassumingly met our full-speed grain-fueled run with an armful of hay, just like in the cartoons. "RUN...RUN! MIKE!" I yelled, he turned and ran, in the blink of an eye we were all back in the pasture, Luna and I through the gate while Dolly leaped over the fence the way she had come out.
* The crew has since expanded to Six! Welcome Mr. Valentino!
Like walking across a high river, we go over stone by stone, each day from April to October. One stretch last Autumn, we were six weeks on the run starting with a 10 day installation at St. Michael's College in Vermont, off the next day to Italy for two weeks, returning home long enough only to grab winter clothes and drive four hours from Boston to Burlington in the ten hour window between flights, in order to head out to Minnesota for another 2 week stretch to construct a 200 ton limestone design.
OUR HEADS SPIN AND WE DON'T KNOW WHAT DAY IT IS, WHAT TIME ZONE WE ARE IN OR WHERE THE INJURIES LIE.
Mike broke three fingers...crushed under a heart shaped rock, and I stepped right square on a hidden nail - we winced a few real sore winces but never missed a handhold or even a step, though racing through the airport in Rome by wheelchair was certainly a first for me.
HOw funny we must have looked on the return trip as we left single-vineyard wine and heirloom olive-oil behind in favor of two big hunks of stone...
but that's another story...
Last year, we traveled across the United States in big zig-zags, in cars and busses and planes.
Park City, UT; Jackson, WY; Manchester, TN; Durham, NC; Southern Illinois, Minnesota, and Wisconsin....We zipped off to Italy and back.
Thousands of emails written and enough photos uploaded to my Facebook stream even my best of friends became annoyed. In the end, our house is warmer than ever, our studio is heated and fully insulated, our animals have doubled in quantity, our productivity is up...
and every moment of every day is full from sunrise to sunset and sunrise again with doing and being.
Stone workshops always have my attention - the temptation presented by heaps of stone make my head pivot quick and my ears prick up - an addiction of sorts. I'll admit: I always want for more stone. There's nothing more beautiful than a pile of material luring, shimmering, expectantly waiting to become a creation.
This past year, I've received many offers, one included visiting Australia, another Mexico, one even Egypt, each to build or to lecture. Others were nitty-gritty ones, like leading women's-only step-up classes, and kids-only classes which are nearly impossible to plan for. Thanks to the challenges within teaching - such as engaging seven very unprepared students in Italy who had not read the syllabus and did not realize it was a WORKshop, and the exercise in remembering how to harness the flexibility required to teach children as young as four, paired with balancing the unknown expectations of students in their late 70's - this past year was magnificent. e handled over 700 tons of stone. Some days as many as ten tons each. We even kept this quote up during the Olympic Hockey games....to do so simply meant we worked harder and faster between periods.
Home encompasses beautiful creatures in great numbers. In addition to an orchard, a vineyard, a field full of fruit and nut trees and several bee hives. To me, the pursuit of adventure, of experience, of collective joy...all justify trusting, and handing off some work to willing hands. I frequently volunteer for international courses, it's a money loosing enterprise. Despite the numbers dipping at times into the red, the riches in my life are not financial. Money is not my barometer. Not at all. I feel as though I am among the wealthiest of people, even on days I feel completely barren.
I see more sunrises and more sunsets than is truly fair for one person.
LIFE ITSELF FILLS ME WITH AWE.
This is the work I aim to Do. This is the work I aim to Teach. Non defensively, Openly.
I dance and I shed. I have chosen this to be my life and I've taken control of it, taken control and responsibility for my actions and I am happy.
I live happy and I love happy
At times people who want to join our workshops are often conflicted as to making the commitment, because it means leaving work or home or farm. I completely understand, I know well the difficulty of leaving a small farm for a few weeks at the peak of beauty and nearly harvest... Farming is work every day, every season, all day long.
Two workshops will be held in Italy this year, one in the North, the other in the South (Domodosalla and Puglia, respectively). Both will encompass learning and building roof systems as well as a healthy side of walling. The arches and arch building will primarily be held in Vermont, though there will be a few arch workshops out west in April, July, and October.
In Vermont, at the Fine Wood Working School, we'll build a window of stone, for the Yestermorrow course we'll build a large Gothic Arch, and a course at Gardener's Supply will create a large gateway. The courses in Vermont hope to encourage curiosity through experiential learning while the Italy courses will pack more of a punch as they naturally incorporate learning with life changing experience.
WANT TO TRAVEL & LEARN, BUT NOT INTERNATIONALLY?
In first part of April, in Marion, IL we'll be building gates like you've never seen before, a mosaic patio, labyrinth and footings for a bridge. In Minnesota, we'll build a large arch at the edge of Lake Superior, and in October, we'll be at an enormous stone meet of internationally acclaimed masons in Gualala, California, to which I was invited because I'm a woman, and because my approach to stone is different from many, and because I represent nice.
We Build a life full of art, because of art, and by art
Support | se'pôrt | verb
1. bear all or part of the weight of
Thesaurus | verb
1. comfort, encourage, sustain, buoy up, hearten, fortify, console, solace, reassure
Art supports me. I hope it inspires you. No matter your level of experience, no matter the capacity of your strength, the fact of your inspiration fuels me, it ripples through this world, your smiles are contagious.
- Thank you!