Catchall

Where did I put that pen?  It’s my favorite.  It was part of my Dad’s pen set  that I inherited when he passed away.  It’s silver-colored, and has a slight bend in the middle of it, as though little hands had tried to break  it in half once.  I use it for everything, and now it’s gone.  The first thing I do, of course, is check the fairy altar in the dining room.  The Fae love to drag small items in there.  (I once found my missing glasses swinging from the chandelier, but that’s a different story.)  No luck, just the usual suspects….a ceramic hedgehog dressed as Miss Tiggy-Winkle with an iron in her hand, some German fairies that look like they’ve had a hard life, and a pinecone that has a fairy living in it. And, of course, the tiny bowl of water I place there daily. Next to the bowl of water is an offering dish with half a Mounds bar in it.  (Candy is a very fairy thing.)  But no sign of the pen.

What catches my eye is a little house sitting on the sideboard that I have recently finished.  I lift off the roof, and inside the house itself is a jumble of tiny items!  Most look like tiny twigs and sticks on top.  This has to be cleaned out — I have a festival in a week and have to get this house ready for sale.  Before I reach inside, I put fresh water in the offering bowl and make an announcement softly, but out loud.  I must clean out this house, and will be very respectful of the things I find there.  I wait a few heartbeats, then I reach inside the house and gently start pulling out little bits of sticks and twigs, bits of cedar, my miniature pliers I won in a craft fair that had disappeared, 9 inches of white string rolled up in a neat ball, the mirror out of a compact I had thrown away about a year ago, and quarter of a dried-up peanut butter sandwich. (?)  Sure enough, underneath it all was my Dad’s pen wedged upright,  forming a post of sorts, that supported all those twigs.  I froze, then my jaw dropped open.  I had found a fairy sleeping hollow.

For those of you who don’t know, fairies sleep in different places each night, much like deer. They find a tiny, cozy, safe place that will shield them from human (and cat) eyes.  They will use whatever materials they can find to build that shelter. This sleeping hollow has an actual bed made of twigs, a white pillow, and bedcovers made of little bits of animal-print cotton that I had used in a project and stuffed into a drawer years ago. A bit of netting over the head of the bed (mosquito prevention, perhaps?), and a tiny carpet made from a piece of fabric I don’t recognize.   I grab my camera and try to get a shot. I know that

a fairy sleeping hollow

the moment I touch this space, it will all turn to dead leaves, which is the fairy way.  And I don’t have to worry about dismantling it because the fairy that slept there will never return to the same spot.  Yet it gives me such a thrill to see the care and determination with which it was built.  I gently remove the last of the twigs and free up my Dad’s pen.  As if on cue, the twigs and cedar and string and pliers begin to crumble, until all that is left are a handful of dead, dry leaves in the bottom.  I slip the roof back into place, and that’s when the name of the house comes to me…. a “catch-all” for all things fairy.

"Catchall" has been sold.

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Hollis Hollow

One glance at Hollis Hollow and it’s easy to see what type of fairy lives there.  He is very, very tall, and very, very thin.  He’s about the thickness of a sheet of paper, and when he turns sideways, he just about disappears. His name is Hollis and he is a fairy that slips easily into the in-between spaces.

In-between spaces are all around us.  They are the liminal times of day:  sunrise,  sunset.   The exact moment of high tide at the shore; or the moment when the tide is lowest, seconds before it turns.  It may be the threshold of an unfamiliar door.  It could be that time when you awaken in a strange room and aren’t exactly sure where you are yet.  Maybe it’s when you are handed a wrapped gift… those precious seconds before you tear into it. Parents will recognize that liminal moment when their baby entered the world.  Some of us experience it when we sit with our loved ones as they exit this world.

Perhaps it’s that moment when you close your weary eyes at the end of a long day and start to fall asleep, yet you’re not yet asleep… it’s that in-between place again.   These liminal moments are intersections in the fabric of the universe… so full of promise and change.  It is at this point that your life takes a small turn – for better, or sometimes, for worse.  The choice is almost always up to you.

Hollis guards these in-between places.  He knows how sacred they are, and how much they affect human existence.  He wants you to experience them.  More importantly, he wants to watch you experience them.

The next time you find yourself at a liminal moment, de-focus and soften your eyes.  In the very far corners of your peripheral vision, you might catch Hollis slipping in to watch.

Hollis Hollow has been purchased, but there are more cottages here: www.etsy.com/shop/FairyCottages

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St. Clether’s Well – the Faery Version

It seemed like I was walking forever through the muddy meadowland on the side of a hill in Cornwall. Even to find this little path, I had to walk through the graveyard of an old church and out the back gate into miles of fields.  A very large black dog sat outside the gate leading out into the fields.  I’m a dog person, happy to see one of my kind out here in the fields. I clapped my hands and made little “come here” sounds, and talked encouragingly. He didn’t budge.  I tried again, slapping my legs and motioning to him. Nothing. He wouldn’t come close to be petted.  He just sat and watched me.

The sky was overcast and the wind came up. A sure sign of rain to come. Within a few more steps, the light pattering began. Dressed in jeans and a T-shirt, I was quickly soaked. But I pressed on. Somewhere in the vast fields before me hid a tiny chapel to St. Clether of Cornwall. Most tantalizing was the thought of the well next to the chapel.

Americans don’t “get” wells. To us, a well is a hole in the ground covered by a large metal plate that is impossible for anyone to lift. Wells are invisible things that either run underground or are found in theme parks with a cute little shingled roof, a hand-crank, and loose change in the 3 inches of water below. The Brits and the Irish know what wells really are. They know that you can be walking through a beautiful grove of deep green forest and suddenly come upon hand-hewn rock steps leading down into the earth, just wide enough for a human body. You descend into total silence in about 3 steps. You can feel the moist, cool air surround you, and as your eyes adjust to the dark, you begin to see a flickering candle or two set in little ledges of the rock wall. You are about 3 feet underground now, and at the last step or two you hear the trickle of water. Crouching down on the last step you see a small pool of clear water in front of your feet. If you look long enough, you can see where the water enters the pool and possibly where it exits the pool. The pool is usually absolutely silent and still. This is a sacred moment for the local people, and it is evidenced by the small gifts tucked into crevices near the water. They may be pieces of paper with hastily scribbled notes asking for healing, tiny statues of the Virgin Mary, coins, jewelry…anything to petition the Spirit of the Well, God, the Blessed Mother, or your higher power. The one thing that all people feel, I’m sure, is the magic of water coming straight out of the Earth, for the use of Her people and animals. These gifts and petitions are remnants of pagan practices of honoring the Spirit of the Well that have somehow made their way into the practice of everyday Christians.

To a southern Californian, this is about as foreign as it gets. Water, coming to the surface? An untended CANDLE FLAME, flickering in the open?? Since fires are common and devastating here, an untended candle flame is practically asking for jail time. So the ‘foreign-ness’ of these wells intrigued me from not only a physical and geological sense, but a spiritual one as well. On a trip to Ireland I became besotted with “holy wells”, and have visited too many to count. Now here I was in Cornwall, where I happened to run into some local witches who told me I must not miss this well. The thought of a well somewhere out in the rolling fields of Cornwall was just too much to resist. I pressed on.

Soaked to the skin, I trudged on with no well in sight. The wind came up. And just as I stopped at a tree and was pondering turning back, it was there, behind the line of trees. A tiny fence surrounded a small, rock chapel that would hold, maybe, 10 people. Inside, it was pitch dark, so I opened the unlocked door (another foreign concept in California) wide to let in some light. Up front there was a small altar made of stone and a tiny gothic-arched window above the altar that looked out into the deep green of the trees. I immediately walked up to the left side of the altar to see that which I had walked miles to see. Through a hole in the left wall, at floor level, water came trickling through an open, rock channel about 2 inches wide. It flowed beneath and behind the altar, and then out through a hole in the right wall. Above that hole was a small wooden door. I opened the door, and there below was a small basin where the water collected before it ran underground again. That basin was on the outside of the chapel, where people could walk up to it and collect this special water, even if the chapel was locked.

The energy in this chapel was peaceful, gentle, and a disarming mix of Christian and pagan sensibilities.  Water is known to be affected by emotions and intention.  What intention did these Christians send knowingly or unknowingly into the water flowing under their altar during their Mass?  Perhaps that of peace and forgiveness?  I just basked in the beauty and the energy for a bit, before the long walk back. Outside and tucked behind the chapel was St. Clether’s Well, a small, box-like structure of rock around the water coming up from the earth and trickling slowly toward the chapel. The entire area was well-kept and tidy, even down to a small bench with a hummingbird feeder next to it.  Clearly the locals were taking good care of this amazing place.

As I left through the tiny gate, I saw a stack of wood that had been cut and cleared from the many trees around the chapel. There was energy and vibration in that wood, so I collected a couple of pieces of it and brought it home to my studio in California. Once home, I began to think about the faerie world, and how there are many representations of our physical world there.  What would St. Clether’s Well in Faery look like? I lifted the pieces of wood that came from the chapel yard, and asked the faeries to guide me. This, then is the faery version of St. Clether’s well.

Faery version of St. Clether's Well

Faery version of St. Clether's Well Chapel

Roof of St. Clether's Chapel

Roof of the Faery St. Clether's Chapel

St. Clether’s Chapel has been sold, but others are in my Etsy shop here: www.etsy.com/shop/fairycottages

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How to Purchase a Fairy Cottage

All cottages are for sale via my Etsy site: www.etsy.com/shop/FairyCottages

First, you need to ask yourself if you’re ready to own a fairy cottage

Do you have a spot in mind for this cottage? It can be out in the garden (if you live in an area that freezes, you should take it inside during the winter.) You can put it on a shelf in your home, but it should be high enough so that it’s out of the reach of cats. Next to gardens, libraries are fairies’ favorite spots, so a bookshelf is always a welcome place. The best place, by far: a fern garden.

Are you willing to give the cottage access to moonlight occasionally? Fairies live by moonlight. They absorb it, they revel in it, and they need it the way humans need water. It is a spiritual experience for them. By placing the cottage in the moonlight from time to time, you are letting the Fey know how important their needs are to you.

 Are you able to supervise children’s visit with the fairies? We would very much encourage children to develop a love and respect for the Fey, and part of that happens by being able to touch the cottage and open its door, and take off the roof. However, sometimes little fingers accidentally press a bit too hard on the fragile fairy glass in the windows. If it breaks, it certainly won’t hurt them, but it will be impossible to replace the window later.

And finally…do you believe?   Click here: www.etsy.com/shop/FairyCottages


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Fairy Cottage Photo Gallery 1

Goosechase

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The Ice Cream Truck

I’m 56 years old.  I haven’t bought ice cream off an ice cream truck since I was a kid.  In fact, I haven’t even heard the tinkle heralding the approach of the “ice cream man” in 40 years.  I’m sure it’s a tough way to make a living. And then there’s that incessant tune you have to listen to all day.  No wonder they’ve all but disappeared from our culture.

Yesterday was a strange summer day.  The sky was heavily overcast with that odd sensation of pressure in the air, as if a thunderstorm would appear later.  I sat at the computer, paying bills.

Into my consciousness wriggled a little tune, slowly getting louder.  It was in a minor key, a bit sad, a bit child-like and, well, mystical.  I listened for the neighbor’s kids who are always playing loudly in their yard.  Did they have a game, a boom-box, or what?  The tune was so compelling that I had to get up and see what it was.  I walked out into the front yard and stood there, listening to it getting louder and more insistent; that strange, chiming, melody, drawing me in.  I felt transfixed, as if I couldn’t move and had to wait there.  It was an ice cream truck, no doubt about it, and it was stopping for my neighbor’s kids.  Little beads of perspiration on my brow, I feverishly searched my pockets for a dollar.  Really?  I was really going to buy an ice cream cone from a truck in the street?  At last the truck pulled away from my neighbor’s house and toward mine. My throat swelled, and a little memory bubble opened up in my mind.  I was suddenly was 7 years old;  I was standing in the middle of the street, clutching my quarters and listening to the receding sound of the ice cream truck.  I had missed it.  My world was crumbling in the way it only crumbles for deeply disappointed children.  My mother took pity on me and loaded me into the car and tried to chase down the truck, rolling down the windows and sticking our heads out trying to hear the melody of bells, but to no avail.  The truck was gone and only the distant tinkling of the bells on some far away street remained.  She offered me a Popsicle from the freezer, but I was inconsolable.

The memory bubble burst.  Here came the ice cream man, headed straight for my house, but this time I was ready with a sweaty dollar bill in my hand.  The sad melody tinkled loudly now.  I stood, staring, as the truck slowed down to a crawl in front of me.  Driving it was a very small dark woman, perhaps 45 years old, blonde shoulder-length hair with very dark roots.  Her hair stood not straight up, but straight back as though she were moving very fast in a high wind.  She wore a black leather jacket with long leather strings hanging off it at intervals, like lonely fringe.  She wore lots of make-up with heavy dark eyeliner and…wait for it…..a pink tutu.    All business from the waist up, and all ballerina from the waist down, even to the toe-shoes.   She drove the truck not by sitting (there was no driver’s seat), but by standing up, bent over at the hips, arms on the steering wheel, en-pointe with one leg raised behind her in a ballet pose. She cocked her head and never took her eyes off me as she drove slowly by, a sly smile on her face and her hair straight out behind her.  I was riveted. And slightly creeped out.  I fingered the dollar in my pocket and wondered if I should run after her. And just what was she selling, anyway?  I snapped out of it, realizing that I had let the moment pass, and was, once again, too late for the ice cream man/woman/fairy. The familiar childhood panic crept in, as the truck continued it’s strange melody and trundled on down the street.  I didn’t really want any ice cream.  Still…

I  jumped  into the car and took off after her.  When I turned the corner, I could see the ragged bumper of the truck turning onto another street, the little cut-outs of childrens’ silhouettes dancing across the back of the truck.  I goosed the engine to roar down the street, and turned where she had.  My eyes searched both sides of the street, and there, at the very end, was the truck pulled over with a crowd of kids around it.  I pulled up about 10 yards behind the her, got out and walked up, trying to blend in with the other moms and grandmas.  Slowly, I stepped closer and closer to the window, seeing an arm jut out now and then with an ice cream cone, and disappear back in with cash.  I smiled at the children and sidled up to the front and peered in the window.   The brown, tanned face of a teenaged boy looked back at me.  From the driver’s seat.   “Can I help you?”, he asked, pulling his white earbuds out, and anxious to get moving.  Wide-eyed and soundless, my mouth made a little “o”.  Finally,  “Uh, no, nothing, thanks” and I backed away confused.  I looked at the rear of the truck.  There were the same silhouettes of children playing, and the same ding on the right rear fender. The boy put his ear buds back in and pulled out, turned on the music that now played “The Entertainer”, and drove off down the street.

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Clock Fairies

Fairies have been known to inhabit almost anything they take a fancy to, but old clocks seem to hold a special fascination for them, as do grandfather clocks.  I’ve heard from other people that they’ll even mess with alarm clocks that have a bell in them.  Bells and fairies….long story there.

My own mantel clock that I inherited from my grandmother is a beautiful old thing that hasn’t worked since 1963.  Apparently, the Fairies don’t care about that. They take particular interest in the glass door that covers the face.   The old hands on the face are very delicate and I don’t want to have to dust them often, so before I go to bed I make sure the door is firmly closed.  And, like clockwork (hmm), that door is wide open when I get up the next morning.  I think they swing on it, and push each other on it like a rope swing, laughing hysterically. They fall off a lot and drop five feet to the floor, but that seems to be part of the fun. 

old clock

The door is irresistible to them.

There is a one inch clearance under the clock, that, when I move the clock to clean, is strewn with and odd assortment of fairy droppings.  An empty aluminum tealight cup, some hot pink bookmark tags (by Post-Its, of course) a finch feather from my aviary outside, a popsicle stick with runes scribbled on it, the cap off an acorn (we live in an old oak grove) which has been filled with sand. I recognize that sand.  It’s from the special sand box in my studio where I make the fairy cottages.  They play in it all the time, throwing it on the floor, hiding my tools in it, or leaving me gifts in it.  (I recently found 9 tiny brass bells buried in the sand, so they went on the cottage I was building at the time, called PineSong.)  I’m not quite sure what to do with the droppings.  Leave them?  Throw them away?  Relocate them to the fairy altar?  What do you think?

If you’ve found any fairy droppings, please tell me about them.

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