I will learn to take weekends off on a regular basis from creative endeavoring work. Weekends are a luxury for the self-employed and it’s about time I incorporate this type of luxury, (though in the next two months I have a major deadline to complete the Chilkat robe I am weaving), so I am postponing regular weekends until AFTER I deliver the robe!
Having at least one day off from work helps rejuvenate and revitalize our bodies, mind and spirit. We need this type of “food” to nourish and support us. It helps keep our creative juices flowing!
I appreciate a great travel partner who instigates simple great adventures and is attracted to the same subtle and not-so-subtle images, energies and beauty in nature. Of the many places Dan and I have traveled to and through in Western North America over the past 5 years, from the American Southwestern states up through Montana, Alberta, Yukon and Southeast Alaska, the early evening day trip to the Great Sand Dunes in Colorado last weekend captured my entire being. I felt as though I were walking on holy ground, sacred ground…vulnerable yet spiritually and physically powerful. I am happy I followed Dan’s lead to this place of mysticism and sacredness.
These are the highest sand dunes in North America up to 750 feet covering 30 square miles at the base of the Colorado Rockies between Crestone and Alamosa. We arrived in mid-afternoon when the sun was lowering on the horizon for better contrast of light and dark. I complained like a kid “…are we there yet!?” because the straight highway drive was absolutely boring, especially after driving through phenomenal scenery driving down from the Leadville area the day before!!
I yearn to return to the Sand Dunes. I imagine just to sit and be there. In peace. Alas, I have other commitments and major deadlines one right after the other; I have a Chilkat robe that I have to finish weaving by June 1st, then I have to deliver it, then I have 6 classes to teach in Yukon and Alaska and I do not return back to Colorado until mid-Summer when the Sand Dunes Park will be cluttered with too many people!!! — So alas, we must wait until AFTER Labor Day weekend because we will avoid the crowds.
I know Dan and I must return to this place. Not just for an afternoon but for at least an entire week. Camp out. Hike. Bike. Play flute. Play a hand drum. Do Tai Chi. Take photos. Paint. Draw. Sit and be still at the top of one of the 750 ft. peaks. I have even imagined living nearby just a few miles South of the dunes, or make a yearly trek in a camper van and just hang out. I have never been to a place that has tempered me like the way a camp fire tempers me. I feel a large solid heart filling my entire chest and abdomen – it is obvious the spirit of the Great Sand Dunes has filled me to no end. We shall return. Soon.
Click Here …..to view more photos of the Great Sand Dunes…and better yet, the next time you are in Colorado, check out the power and spirit of this magnificent place!
30 years ago, when there were less than a handful of weavers, I thought I’d try my hand at Chilkat weaving without an instructor. I wove this Chilkat sampler using cheap clothesline for warp and commercial 4-ply black, turquoise, cream and red (a taboo) weft yarns. Instead of using the traditional yellow, I thought red would be nifty because the rest of our traditional artwork uses these same colors, so why not?
According to a Chilkat weaving elder from Haines, Alaska, the late Maria Ackerman Miller warned me not to use red in the weaving because it signifies the weaver as being egotistical. Both Maria and the late Jennie Thlunaut said weavers only use red for example in the tongue of a wolf.
I have never publicly shown this weaving until now. I’ve hidden it for 30 years and it is now coming out of the closet. I have reasons for this. I want to show an example of one of my very first attempts at Chilkat weaving, where I didn’t have some one to help “show me the way” nor receive proper instruction on using fine, traditional materials or to teach me the taboos…yet (not until my apprenticeship with Jennie Thlunaut the following year in 1986). I show this sampler here also to show any beginner students of Chilkat weaving to have compassion for self as you learn the intricacies of weaving in this style; you WILL become a better weaver — a few of us start out as perfect weavers, others like myself do not! Not until last year have I felt like I know what I am doing in Chilkat weaving… 30 years later! hello!
I also wanted to show my tendency to get a big head, especially when I was younger!
Teachings such as the ones I received from Maria Miller Ackerman and Jennie Thlunaut are invaluable; they help keep us on the right “spiritual” path. Our elders will tell us many things we do not understand, though we have the respect to follow through with their words and their example without question. In our culture, we do not ask the question “why?” A respectful Native (or non-Native) person will heed an elder’s lead.
It is good to be humbled now and then. Sometimes we do get big-headed; we forget the words of our Native mentors, though there are things that bring us back to “who we are.”
On another intense deadline to complete half of a full-size Chilkat robe in 6 weeks is not only daunting, but sounds ridiculous, right? Like, will I have time to sleep a full night, conduct other business, tend to family, household chores, play with grandchildren, and have a picnic now and then with my Dandan? Where do I fit in some exercise?
The real question is: will I really achieve the goal of completing the robe by June 1st?
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