In Search of the Red Carnelian

March 29, 2008. We got up at oh dark hundred in order to meet our rock hound group in Kalama at 8 am. Soon I was once again thankful for our Subaru Forester slogging up a mountain road in 8″ of snow. In our group one vehicle after another just couldn’t cut it. We ended up getting three vehicles up the long timber road climbing snowy Green Mountain.

We entered a secret gate on Longview Fiber timberland. Our club president had permission to enter and the key. Still, I felt a little bit like we were sneaking in. I helped dig for carnelian for about an hour. I found one good specimen but soon lost my motivation. I retired to a warm car to observe a wood filling with snow. The trees, mostly Douglas fir and second growth. Impressive size. I had three hours to make this drawing, watch the snow fall, listen to the melting snow rustle and plop all around me. I took a long walk, taking care not to get lost on the many branching roads. No worries, my size 8 boot tracks were the only ones for miles. Except two sets of deer tracks, very fresh. I had the distinct impression they were peering at me. Also some other tracks, possibly cougar but not so fresh.

We made it home by 11 pm. Tom was so charged up over his booty that he took the time to clean each specimen. His hard work with a shovel produced many fine crystals and one really spectacular palm size red carnelian. One red carnelian, one nice drawing and a quiet day in pristine woods. No people except the rock hounds. A very good day.

Kendall, Dylan and Cheryl Look For Signs of Spring as The Woods Fill Up With Mist

I just want to point out the similarity between these two images!

I just spent the last week caring for my two grandchildren, 8 and 10 years. This chance to spend time with them during their regular routine is pure gold. Not a special occasion, just a regular school day while their parents take a much deserved second honeymoon. A miracle, really.

With the children off at school all day I suddenly realized that I did not have to actually “do” anything. For the first time in my life I felt that I had all of the time in the world. I gave myself the first day of spring by visiting Snoqualamie Falls and viewing Peregrine Falcons nesting on a cliff by the falls. They chose a pile of logs and sticks, seven feet across – an old eagle’s nest? The male hovering, meeting his mate in midair to pass her a bit of meat, a small bird most likely. She is off the nest each hour for 45 seconds only. She depends on her mate for her life.

But I digress. Time. I let the kids free swim for 45 minutes at the pool. So what dinner is late? I just watched them swim. I kept remembering the hours in the water – I was so intent on learning to swim, perfecting the underwater flips, learning to dive. Good memories – I was a kid once.

I return to my everyday life of making art, of selling art, and I feel that a certain time elasticity has been restored to me. It feels like more space inside my head and chest. This sketch is the skyline view of the Cascades from their home, the maple tree, the aspens and the valley filling with mist. No longer winter in spite of the heavy snow, but not quite spring.

Mandala for Letting Go of My Leaves

Mandala for Letting Go of My Leaves
March 22, 2008, first Saturday of Spring Break

This mandala is cut off at the bottom because it is my first foray into drawing on a larger piece of paper–this is 12 x 12 and textured.

I never know what I’m going to draw in a mandala because I like the idea that they are soul maps, and an avenue for the Wonderful One Within or the Secret Partner to speak to the day or the cycle or to its own truths.

It seemed to me that this was a self-portrait and that the release of leaves, which seems out of sync with the external season, is what happens at the end of an intense quarter for Teecher. In this case, I am also shedding two classes and an entire school, and perhaps the way of life associated with that school. Of course, all the students have been graded and they are falling away from me like leaves.

I have lots of projects I am growing, but it looks like I can hold all those branches in the air waiting for blossom time to come again.

Dissolution Mandala


March 20, 2008

Dissolution Mandala
Finals are over, grades are in,
Spring Break 2008 begins…


I see that all the elements that were wound so tightly into the classroom spiral mandala are floating loose from the center and going their own way in the dark universe. Godspeed little fernlets!

Showing the Way In: Classroom Mandala

March 11, 2008
Showing the Way In: Classroom Mandala

My mandala today is the unfurling fern frond spiral that seems to draw me as I draw it; it emerges from me when I am working in a classroom as the teacher. Tonight, we are working on our final portfolios.

I had students thinking of a name for their book/portfolio, then went directly to pulling an image at so-called random from our journals to put at the center of our soul map mandalas, and in my journal, I immediately saw the word “fern.” I knew it referred to the living shape I first saw in “Holding It Close.”

I like that it is a close to or echoes Mom’s soul shape, which is the nautilus.

I like that it has emerged spontaneously and that it came out of the energies in the classroom setting.

I see that it creates a clear pathway for the students to move to center along with me.

I think it peculiar and true that I can move the same drawing or writing project from class to class, school to school, and the emergent unspiraling frond is the same one.

Dormaier’s Hill and the Enchantments

Dormaier’s Hill and the Enchantments

March 14, 2008

Last night at the end of a long week that began with a back injury and ended with a headache, with Dead Week grading sandwiched in between, I began to draw shapes only to stop thinking, to bypass the persistent inanities of the day and to live for a frew minutes before sleep in the world of my Mysterious Night Vision Field Journal.

I drew a hill, and I knew it was Dormaier’s Hill, which I climbed and ran upon so often when I was a child. I began to add the colors of balsamroot sunflowers, lupine, the blue bells of mertensia, the energy shock purple blue of larkspur. I remembered my sturdy young legs, how they carried me uphill, how I tried to imitate the deer when I ran down, springing legs together, knees bent, from hummock to hummock. I could feel again the sensation of air beneath my feet, the touching down and springing up, arms outstretched like a newly unfurled butterfly, completely coordinated, athletic, accomplished and free.

When spring comes to that country, whole hillsides tilted to the south are buttered yellow with sunflowers. West-facing slopes run rivers of lupine blue, and it is in the secret hollows and hidden springs of the east and north where I would find the glowing violet wands of larkspur.

From every quadrant, the Western Meadowlark liquefied the air with its fluid multi-note call.

Later that night, I drew in the distant range of the Enchantments, which are not technically so visible from there, but in memory all obstacles are removed, and what is far becomes near. I have been to those remote, bright tarns. The water there melts out of the snowfields under the thin spring sun. It runs through dark moss and through tangled red roots. The current of its falling polishes granite to the white luster of a whale’s earbone—and I have drunk that water; it runs in the deepest chambers of my heart and clarifies my memory tonight.

I Googled Ralph and Rosalie Dormaier; he died February 17, 1993 and is buried in Evergreen Cemetery, East Wenatchee, Douglas Co., Washington, and Rosalie followed him two years later to the week, on February 12, 1995.

Tree of Life With Nesting Ravens

Tree of Life with Nesting Ravens


I wish I could tell you how long this image has been with me. It derives from a Siberian Shamanic story or myth. I do not know how I received the information, but this is an ancient image. Ravens nesting in the Tree of Life. I do not know the meaning of it but I hesitated for at least a year, maybe longer to make this simple sketch. It carries so much power in my consciousness, power with deep history that has meaning in some unknown tradition BCE.

COMMENT from Sandy:
I wanted to include an image that I think speaks to yours. It is a quilt by an Alaskan fiber artist who is also a Unitarian. You can read an explication of the symbolism here: http://www.uuff.org/quilt.shtml
About the Ravens specifically, she says, “
At the heart of the tree, a raven brings life to the quilt while evoking the next line of the hymn: “Wings set me free….” Another northern motif, Raven is the trickster of Native myth. In his guise as trickster, Raven brings both wisdom and humor into our sanctuary. Behind him the suggestion of mountains calls us to lift our eyes, seek physical and spiritual challenges, and remember the powerful role that the land plays in our lives.”
I’m saying that is exactly what your Ravens mean. You have beat back the dreaded death-bringer, cancer, and I believe you recently got a clean bill of health on a mammogram? Do you feel that death has turned benign and is now creatively nesting in your tree of life?

It’s your image, and what it means and the power it carries is ultimately yours, but I agree it is a very moving image that speaks to the ancient of days in all of us.

Raven’s Tree of Life

Pieced and Quilted by Stephanie Rudig, 2005

The First Trillium of Spring

March 8th, Lake Fenwick, Kent, WA. My husband and I are walking in a forest that is managing to survive development all around it. We walk here with our golden retriever Dusty and today his cousin Blue Heeler Dakota. The dogs did not disturb this suburban rain forest. They did not see the red breasted sapsucker tearing away the bark in search of bugs. I stopped to search for the bald eagle, scree, scree high overhead. I could hear him but he did not come into view this day. The old trees – every branch heavy with ferns growing like exotic gardens. I spot first one and then many trillium, glowing white in a golden green impressionist forest.

Three Feathers Mandala

Three Feathers Mandala: Soul Map, March 9, 2–8

“Carl Jung discovered mandalas in early midlife as he was working deeply with his dreams. He started sketching circular drawings in his notebook every morning, seeing them as cryptograms of his self. He often drew images in the center of his mandalas.”

Susan Tiberghien in One Year to a Writing Life goes on to say, “Often in my journal, I draw a very simple mandala…placing an image from a dream or from my surroundings in the center and letting my imagination fill the space around it. Sometimes I draw the image multiple times, letting it circle around the center, and other times it fills the entire mandala. I call my mandalas soul maps and I give them titles” (9).

Drawing my inspiration from this idea, I determined to open my journal at random and do a mandala with the first image I ran across. I opened it to the words: “…an image of three feathers,” and somehow that was exactly the most satisfying image I could draw in those moments.

In an e-mail to my Linfield friend, Samantha Jordan, I wrote:

“It is the nature of us as women and humans to compare ourselves to the crowd; and many fears come with being young and far away from home and childhood. However, your writing springs from your eternal soul as an artist, which is always bound to be outside the flicker of the social campfire, investigating the shadows.

“Yes, it is scary out there,and there probably aren’t any of your classmates there because it is a land outside of time and space.It is a soulspace where you have to do your writing and art no matter what. Just doing it has intrinsic value unrelated to the outer world happenings.

“Your journal and your art are deeply personal. They are the soil of your deepest roots, flowing with the deep green waters of your memories, dreams, and reflections.

“In that place, no one and nothing can touch you, and you are inviolate.”

Tree Woman with Fire Sticks


March 6, 2008 Tree Woman with Fire Sticks came out of a random late night, closed-eyes scribble… What is she doing up in the tree? What are the fire sticks for?