Friday, April 1, 2011

Craig Gallery Tapestry Weaving Project 2011, part #2

Balls of yarn, the beginning is near. One might think that having a hand cranked ball winder rather than a nostepind makes everything happen in a second or two. However, when there are about 43 skeins of yarn one can actually watch several episodes of whatever series one favours at the moment or listen to several podcasts of one's choosing whilst turning the crank and getting all the balls lined up and ready for commencement.




First row of bricks is in. Well first I have a couple of inches woven which will be taken out when the piece comes off the loom, it steadies up the bottom line of the piece and is the removable foundation for the whole tapestry.

 Weaving the first row was exciting, choosing the balls of yarn which looked like they were the ones strong enough to carry the whole piece necessitated a thorough thought-process, but once it felt right it was all pretty straight forward, wind the butterflies for each brick and also for the mortar between the bricks - the glue in the whole piece. 
Then it was time to put in guide threads for the next row of bricks, which had to be contemplated for a little while before they could start their meandering around the warp threads.


I am not the precisest of persons except when I start certain pieces of tapestry, then suddenly I am in full need of guide threads and repetitious counting of warp threads, over and over again, making sure that I am at the precise intersection where I want to be. 

No room for ...... seeing what will happen next ..... right at this moment the next step has to be 'just so'.


Third row of bricks is almost done, still need to put mortar along the top edge so they won't keel over in a windstorm. After that it is time to start the fourth row, but that is close to being one fluid motion now, from one row into the other, my hands and eyes have agreed on how it needs to be done so the many moments of thoughtful deliberation  and hesitation have dwindled quite considerably. Which also bodes well for the 'speed' with which the tapestry can progress from now on. Not that it is a race, but when spending between 6-8 hours on each row of bricks time is still a factor which needs to be part of the equation.
Several layers later it is time to put in the arches - had I chosen to use finer yarns I could have made the arches and the bricks along the top of the arches much more carefully rounded, but..... my hand-spun yarns do have a mind of their own so I have to smile and greet each brick as it takes its own shape and shows me its own special profile and place in the weaving. At one point I thought I had to take it out again, but fortunately a break and a walk brought me back to my senses and my eyes again agreed that it was fine and just the way it ought to turn out. No big adjustments needed at this point in time after all. 
After about each foot of weaving I have to move to the back of tapestry, for it is time to tuck in ends and clean up the not often seen surface. Some weavers leave all the ends, lots of them, I like to tuck them in, and cut them off so they are not in the way and don't interfere with the surface of the piece when it hangs on the wall. It is a nice time and an impatient time, for most usually I am anxious to get on with the next bit of the weaving, and yet, I know that tucking in ends is what must happen. If it is done after the piece comes off the loom it can leave undesirable marks in the weaving and.... I don't want that. So tuck I do with a big darning needle, with a small pair of scissors near by and scrunched up on a little stool between the wall and the loom.
'Artistic freedom' also plays in at this point. I had made the cartoon fairly true to the original photo I had taken of the wall, but when I got to the top part, where there was one row of 'diamonds' only and then a row or ordinary bricks it just didn't feel so right and I had to walk away again. The solution to calming down the voice that was protesting was to allow myself the joy of weaving more than one row of diamonds, I had the pleasure of adding 5 of them + the two half ones at the bottom and the top of this part and then.... all was well, my brain and my fingers could calm down. I did have a discussion (with me) about how many rows of ordinary bricks were needed at the top, one side was three rows for sure and the other kept shaking her head saying, ha, I don't think so. As the one row had been laid, we all had to agree, that ... one was enough. (and please take into account that I was born in the sign of the Gemini so...... we, myself and I have many good discussions always, on many topics!)


Finally Bispebue - Wall is on the living room wall. It got to hang here for a little while before moving to the gallery space at the Craig Gallery, Alderney Landing in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia along with all the other beautiful pieces of artwork from SEVEN, the group I exhibited with in Denmark, August 2010. 

This exhibit Udveksling is up for a month and the opening took place two days ago on March 30, a beautiful spring day and night for the drive to the city (approx 120km away from here for many of the guest who came to celebrate with us)



I love weaving and seeing the colours and feeling the textures and most of all the surprise when the finished tapestries come off the loom, for ...... most often there are expressions in them which I hadn't imagined they just came forth and took shape. 


Happy snowy spring day everyone!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Craig Gallery Tapestry Weaving Project 2011, part #1

Initial spark - this has been smoldering behind a screen somewhere in the grey matter between my ears for years. I first saw this when I visited with my husband's cousin about 10 years ago. It is a piece of wall from a church dated back to the 11th century. It was found in 1905 under an old house  being demolished and instead of just pulling it all down and loosing the story it could tell it was gently taken apart and then re-erected at the town museum in the town of Randers, where it was found.
I love the textures, the shapes, the flow of the bricks and the overall impression of this piece of wall.

In order to properly visualize the tapestry I had to make an initial cartoon. Due to the twists and turns of the brick work in the wall, I needed to clarify for myself where I wanted to go, disregarding colour, only looking at how the pattern and composition would flow, contemplating techniques and methods of weaving to facilitate how to make the piece emerge and develop on the loom.
Working on a cartoon like this does not mean that I stick to it all the way, it merely allows for an insight before the piece is begun of approximately where I would like to go.
The hurdle in tapestry weaving is that it takes a long time to weave a piece bit by bit, and since we go from bottom to top, one has to be pretty sure that the bottom part is right before getting to the top, because once there ...... the only way to make a correction further down is to take all the work out again, which is not very advisable or exciting.


Then I started spinning up a storm, visualizing yarns that would hopefully yield the texture and surface which floated around somewhere in my grey mass. I tried a few different techniques of spinning. I dyed several different wools in the same dye-bath. Since each sheep has a different fleece, just like we have different heads of hair, the different fleeces will take up colour in the same bath slightly differently. When spinning little tufts of this fleece or that, one can then make a slightly variegated yarn - this turned out to be a little too time consuming since I couldn't stop contemplating which red tuft to choose next.
So instead I spun the fleece au natural - washed but not dyed fleece and as I then proceeded to the dyebath, the overdyed yarns emerged with each their special tone and hue.
In order to save a bit of time I also made use of some wonderful tightly spun cones of wool I acquired some years ago. They are a natural white and plying two ends of these commercial singles with one end of my multi-coloured natural hand-spun yarn turned out to give a very round and beautiful yarn, just right for a good tapestry surface. 

Counting on the fact that the multi-coloured skeins would each have their own face of makeup to show off when they got out of the dye bath and were woven into the tapestry was a little bit of a leap of faith, one never really knows.

The skeins folded up to be able to fit in a box before I started the ball winding. The compacted surface of each one more easily interpreted when they were tighter and not so 'stringy' so to behold.



Hay in February!

Captive audience, the dog loves the barn!
It is snowing again and we were running out of hay which would mean very hungry lean ladies in the barn unless we could find a solution. And..... the man in my life did, see, he likes to talk to farmers, ask questions, exchange opinions, points of view, is genuinely interested in how other people sort out their relationship to food productions, nature etc.
Thus, when he was at the feed store a week ago he asked around and someone in there knew someone who had second cut hay for sale. Second cut is the better leafier hay for sheep, their absolute favorite, whereas horses are apt to eat a much more varied mix of grass straw and leaves.
Delicious texture and green smell!
So this past Saturday the cap came off the truck and we set out on the icy roads, with a bit of snow on the wind shield. Not too much fortunately but still, it was not a clear day.
We went a little further down the valley and met with a farmer. He is no longer keeping animals but cuts hay every year on his pastures and we were benefiting from his enjoyment of tractor driving.
Unloading at home!






As it was we loaded 50 bales of hay on the truck in 4 or 5 layers, very artistically and well balanced, it was all strapped down and then we headed home again, past the little pond where the fishermen have their little icefishing huts and past the fields where the cattle were gathering around the round hay bales seeking nourishment and energy for producing warmth in the not so friendly weather.






Fortunately it was only about a 20 minute drive to get back to the house and so the wet snow flakes were not able to make all the dry hay soggy before we managed to get it into our own barn at home.
And why am I talking about hay, well, this is the first  part of the fibre and texture adventure I live every day.
Queen of the Castle, left as soon as the flash went off!


These days I am working on a tapestry which is part of our next SEVEN show. Opening day is March 30th in Dartmouth. Some of the wool used in this tapestry is wool from my own ladies in the barn or their off spring from last year and so letting the yarns and textures slide through my hands as I am working also brings me around to visualizing myself swinging many bales of hay down from the hayloft to my husband on the back of the truck, watching him arrange them safely for transportation home.


The circles in our lives are interconnected into colourful strings of fun, tiresome, inspiring beads of happiness, sweat and enjoyment. Everything depends on something else, whether we remember it every minute of every day or not. But such it is, and it is lovely to acknowledge and embrace this fact of life.

This piece was written a while back and today is actually the day of the opening of the show Udveksling/Exchange at the Craig Gallery in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. It will be fun! And by the way, the sheep are full and contend, enjoying every bale of hay we give them!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Weavers and Fabrics!



Barry showing Pia dresses in beautiful colours
And so in the sometimes unsettling strangeness of a completely different world one meets a stranger whom one needs to trust and go along with. We met Barry, a young man looking for customers for his family's fabric store. We, Christina the MO, Soren and I walked up a main street in Dakar with Barry to the store, where he proceeded to show me finished garments and lots of fabrics, plenty of fabrics, piles of fabrics.

Søren in front of copious piles of fabric
 Two very persistent dealers were working on my husband to get him to buy ..... anything they thought he might be willing to take off their hands. Shirts, t-shirts, bags, cloth, pants, another shirt. In the end I have to admit that I got a bit rude and told them to leave him alone. I was the one with the money and we didn't need anything for him today, it was all for me, me, me! After having said this fairly strongly in several languages (English and French) a couple of times, they backed off and left him in peace. It was strange, I had come to a place in my head where I stood very firm. I did not want to let myself or anyone in my company be 'bullied' into buying or not feeling too good about where they were. The rules of trading, buying and selling in Senegal were very different from what the three of us in the group were used to.

11 meters of fabric for an as of yet unknown project.
On the other hand though I have to acknowledge the fact that life in the part of world we were visiting is very hard and when we visit we are being viewed as someone of 'means', we may not be according to our standards here at home in North America or Europe but....... in comparison to what the majority of people have to deal with in Senegal, which is where we were fortunate enough to be, we were majorly well off.  And so my mind kept tipping back and forth between slight irritation since I don't like to be pushed (as most of us don't I am sure) to buy anything and trying to calm myself down with reminders that what I was experiencing was not aimed at me personally merely I was in the midst of experiencing another person's survival technique.
This is the 11 meters of waxed cotton fabric which I went back to the ship with that day in my back pack, and as of now it is draped over my rocking chair so I can look at it anytime I want to. Eventually I will figure out what to use it for.
I was really there, am glad to have a photo for proof!
Walking back towards the square where Barry had picked us up he and I talked about fabrics, cloths and .... and we got talking about weaving and he offered to show me weavers - my ears went as long as rabbit ears, I could hardly contain myself. Unfortunately it couldn't happen just that moment since I was on my way down to the ship to go to work. Other people still had to eat although I was full and  satisfied with the bliss of this day and the thoughts of the one to come.



I think that young man could wind spools with his toes!
The next morning Christina and I set off again and met up with Barry who took us on a 3 hour whirlwind tour of Dakar to experience some of this city's amazing ways of life.
We jumped in a cab which took us to an area where weaving work shops were set up along the shelter of a brick wall surrounding some kind of compound or market space.
We stopped and took photos of one small weaving business, a boss weaver, two other weavers and 3 shaft shifters!

The third weaver with his swordsman!
Yes, it was hard to believe, there were only two treadles for the tabby weave, all the 12-16 shaft patterns were being changed by hand and the shed opened up towards the plain shafts with the aid of a weaving sword! On top of this the tabby treadles were merely two stings attached to the shafts and there were sticks at the end of the strings, which as a flip flop sandal was placed between the big toe and the next toe, thus resting a pencil size stick along the bottom of the weaver's toes from one side of the foot to the other.
My heart beat so fast and my eyes couldn't get enough, it was like ....... well, it felt incredible that I should have the great fortune to actually be standing there, on a street in Dakar, Senegal, with a friend and a guide and look at these very fast, precise and diligent weavers.


video
video
 We did pay the boss weaver a tip and were allowed to take photos. I used the fantastic button on my camera which allows me to film also and have done two clips of a few very short seconds of the rythm and movement involved in the mechanics of weaving in Dakar, Senegal.
In my humble opinion, AMAZING!
weaving shuttle, spool is a piece of plastic tubing
Looking at their tools I was feeling some hopes and wishes start to move about in my chest and so Barry was kind enough to inquire for me if it would be possible to purchase a weaving shuttle from the head weaver. Lo and behold, it was, I did purchase a shuttle. Barry thought it was expensive, and I suppose that he was right but I thought it over.

Bottom of shuttle,  18.5cm long x 4cm wide
I really wanted and wished to be able to take that shuttle home with me. The shuttles were hand carved and not for sale just in any corner store and it sounded like they actually could not be found in Dakar, you had to purchase them else where.  Once again I was grateful for my 'fortune' in that, although it was not a very cheap shuttle (and why should it be by the way, it was hand carved and a tool in use!) it would have been much more expensive had I had to fly back to Dakar to get it after returning home across the Atlantic to Nova Scotia. So I purchased it and the man showed it to me, picked up a stick to hold the spool into place, then hesitated, picked up a spool of his fine multi-threaded red tabby cotton and put it in the shuttle.
One of these days I will weave some sort of a piece which has a little area of colour and texture coming directly from Dakar.
We walked on along the wall and around the corner came to another little street which had even more weavers set up. Some of these had wider warps than the ones we had seen first, shawl width, but the whole very simple two person loom setup was the same and the shuttles were flying and the swords were sliding up through the warp just the same too. All these impressions and the thoughts which have turned up since then are like golden treasures for me, they can be brought out to brighten up the dullest of days.
I am thankful that Barry was an observant enough salesperson and guide that he picked up on my interests and was able to show me to a corner of Dakar, which I would have never been able to find for myself or have known how to articulate an interest in. I didn't know people would have  weaving businesses in the street under canapes of old sheets to keep the sun out. How was I to know, it was out of my landscape of knowledge until Barry had the kindness to show me.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Coming to Terms with Different Worlds

I have been home for a while now, and I love it. I love the well known paths in the woods, over the fields, the old boards in my floors, the looms, the spinning wheels and all the activities which are my joys of life.
View from the bus

 However,  as I am working on new pieces, spinning, planning, creating for new work to come I always have this quiet current of new found knowledge at the back of my head. New found knowledge of all the things in life which I know nothing off, of which I think I may have a notion but really ..... that is just me taking my mouth too full.






Visiting Senegal with the Class Afloat Programme on the West Coast of Africa was ...... amazing, eye opening, and for me an earth/soul shattering experience. I loved it and hated it at the same time. Or perhaps 'hate' is too harsh a word - it just unsettled me, it made big question marks sprout and grow in my fields of fairly firm convictions and it made the foundation for other thoughts firmer and stronger.

Centre where we met and finally said good bye to our Senegalese friends

Working as a Cook's Mate on Sørlandet I had the opportunity to partake in some of the port programmes planned for the Class Afloat kids. In Dakar, Senegal the project was called West Africa Initiative For me this meant that I got to participate in several day programmes involving a visit to a Micro Finance Institute,  a visit to a newly founded Eco Village and all the thoughts that follow an experience like that. In the West Africa Initiative groups of Class Afloat kids are mixed with groups of Senegalese youth from the CEFOPPPEM Centre in Dakar.

The busses!




We travelled with these kids to the seminar on Micro Financing and later to the EcoVillage.
On day one of the actual project our group was driven by cabs to a local Micro Finance Centre and the leader gave a good and thorough talk about the importance of micro finance loans for groups and the impact it can have on impoverished areas and people.
Next time the group went out we were on a bussed day trip to an EcoVillage  one and a half hours out of Dakar, established 6 months earlier.

Checking to see if the road is safe to take the busses down to the village.





The original plan or hope had been to go and visit a well established EcoVillage in order to experience the impact a micro finance loan can have for a group of people having a hard time making a go of it in an area where jobs are scarce and other development opportunities are close to non existent.


New dwelling being constructed and visitors being invited in to feel the coolness 





 It turned out, that the Micro Finance agent had never been to the village we went to. No meetings with the SEM agent, the villagers or the government folks involved in getting this EcoVillage going had ever taken place before. The village was young, new, and although some things were in place even more were not, and most questions had not been contemplated or touched upon by neither the villagers nor the officials.
This meant that what met our eyes was the beginning of a project, the beginning of .... something which was hardly defined yet. Something which the villagers themselves along with the guidelines from the officials will have to define, visualize and  make happen down the road.

In my wildest dreams I had hoped to be able to visit a full blown weaving EcoVillage, with weavers, dyers, spinners, cotton growers, you name it, I saw it in my mind's eye.
Matriac in her 80's, the mother, grand mother and aunt of many of the villagers.

Instead I/we had the amazing experience of being part of the very first meeting for all the aforementioned people, the villagers, the Micro Finance official and the Government Official, the willing participants for this particular project.

We sat on grass mats on the dry sand/soil under a big shady tree. Shoes off, officials in chairs in front of us, villagers over on the left, Class Afloat Group spread out over a good area but still within earshot to the right. All groups encouraged to give input and ask questions at any time.

Problem #1 - language - who understood what and how many?
An 18 year old Senegalese youth stood up and went over to the officials and then proceeded to translate questions and answers for about an hour - the languages spoken were Wolof, one of the Senegalese languages,  French and English.
Visiting younger brother of the Matriac
 The young man who took on this challenge turned out to be an excellent translator. In spite of his youth he managed to honour all the different cultures and languages gathered under the tree.
I could follow along in French and English and heard him being very precise in those two languages, and when the translations were done from Wolof to either one of the other two tongues it seemed to me that he was taking great care to translate everything, not just word by word but in such a manner that the meaning from one language to the other was carefully preserved.

As a little bit of a language nut that truly thrilled me greatly.

The men from the village sat up front of the village group, the women with the youngest kids right behind them, thus able to also give their input.

Leader of SEM institute mr. Boubacar and Soren at reception, Sorlandet
There was talk about what kind of money amounts the villagers were wishing for projects for their new little community, like new road construction and safer drinking water and talking about the money. The men were wondering why the SEM institute couldn't just give them an amount which would cover these expenses. The SEM consultant laughed and said something really loudly and fast, after which the women laughed heartily and clapped vigorously.  We were of course a little puzzled since the exchange happened very quickly and so the translation didn't come until a few minutes later when the mirth had died down.
It turned out the response had been something along the lines of this: Well, and what would happen if I just happened to give you guys a hand full of money for a new road? the next thing I know, you would be out there buying another couple of cows, planning a big party to celebrate your good fortune, adding another wife or two to your family and then..... tell me then, where would the road be????


The women laughed loudly and the menfolk did smile and nod. This was not a rude joke, this was just what it is, the situation in this part of the world.
The people we were visiting are/were nomads, traveling around with their cattle, but due to grass lands declining and drying up they have had to acknowledge that perhaps settling down and staying in one place might be the better plan for them in the future. This way their children will have a greater chance of attending school and getting an education.
Micro Finance Loans are mostly given to villages, groups of people who all have business plans as individuals, but whose future success in the business world will depend on the group goal and support the village rather than just their own family.
Groups of students interviewing villagers after the meeting

When lending money to a group like this everyone parricipating is interested in paying the loans back so new loans can be obtained when the first projects are off the ground. Should project A not work as well as hoped, but project B and C go glamorously, the surplus from B and C will be used to help pay off A's deb. Cooperation is the word!




thinking about dry conditions, bug covers and growing food!


An example was given where loans were given to purchase seeds to grow feed for humans and livestock. The human grains didn't grow so well, but the mishap still was able to be used for animal feed and thus fattened up the flock more than expected. This meant more offspring to be sold off at the  market and thus...... there was money to pay off all loans, not necessarily from the funds expected from the crop meant for human consumption but the surplus from the others made it possible to also take care of this and .... all were content and all things got squared away at the designated time.
The loan takers were actually very eager to make sure that these loans were paid off in time, in spite of the fact that they had been told the loans would be forgiven, given that it was inclement weather which had ruined their crop and not human failure. They were however not interested in having the loans forgiven as it was important for their personal pride that they could show they were able to take care of business themselves.  Close to 98% of micro finance loans are paid off, only the small percentage of apprx 2% are not honoured. Really a very small percentage considering the hardships the loan takers sometimes have to go through to make sure their dues are paid off.
We did not get to see any projects being decided on during the hours we spent on the mat, but we followed a very fine and delicate discussion.

Staying in the shade!
The people were nomads, great herders of cattle, and they had many heads of cattle.
The cows would traditionally give 1-2 liters of milk a day, which could be processed into yogurt or cheese to feed the families or be sold at markets. An initiative had been introduced where the cows were inseminated with semen from bulls whose origins are in the milk cattle breeds, amongst others Holsteins. This means for better or for worse that the heifer offspring once mature will be able to produce for some of them up to 20 liters of milk a day. This is quite a considerable increase. Especially taken into consideration that there are no refrigeration possibilities in the village. The most well painted and newest building in the village was the little cement shed which holds the batteries, charged by solar panels on the roof, giving light to the huts and the street lamps when night falls.
Coming home for a drink at noon!
An idea was being floated around that the villagers would like to take a loan so they could develop a cheese business with their excess milk. The government dept. would support two people  to partake in workshops at a dairy and cheese factory some distance away from their village facilitating understanding and knowledge of how and what is involved in safe production of cheeses and the building of the business so it can sustain the community, keep the production going and keep the villagers employed.

The shelter for the batteries, charged daily by the solar panels

As an interesting aside, one of the students asked why the cattle was not used for meat, if they had too much milk, and finding suitable pasture was problematic part of the problem would be solved, if they butchered some of the animals. My husband also suggested that just diminishing the number of animals they had might solve a lot of their headaches. What neither  one knew was that...... these cattle are part of the family, the nomads will sell off a head of cattle when/if they have to, and once sold they no longer worry about what will happen to the animal, but they would never butcher their animals and eat them, the animals are part of their family, a sign of wealth, what keeps them breathing and moving each day.
My husband apologized for not having had the proper insight into his suggestion and all was well, but ....  the layers and layers of unknowns which surround us when we venture into unknown territory, the sensitivities we are bound to develop if we want to be seen not as intruders but as supportive community builders are incomprehensibly many.. The quagmire a person who wants to lend a hand can end up in is quite substantial if not enough research is done into culture and tradition before trying to suggest changes. Changes which might look minor in one set of eyes can look down right insulting or catastrophic in another set of eyes.
I still think about this often as I go through my peaceful creative days. One of these days I may figure out what to do with my new found understanding of what it is to be truly human.




Monday, January 17, 2011

Home Again!

I have been away and now I am home, in my house, with the looms, the dog, the budgie, the sheep in the barn and the brilliant companion of my husband, Bucephalus the horse.
So amazingly much happened while I was gone - five months in all, three in Denmark exploring weaving, visiting with family and also showing work with a group of dedicated artists and daily creators who makes up our Nova Scotian group called SEVEN (because there are 7 of us, isn't that brilliant!)
From Oct. 23 until Dec. 23 I was aboard Sørlandet a Norwegian full rigger. My husband was teaching there for 4 months with an organization called Class Afloat. It was quite an adventure, close to the hardest thing I have ever done for many different reasons.
Let it just be known that ....... I have survived the crossing of the Atlantic Ocean on a sailing ship. As the cook's mate I have cooked food for 70 people 3 times a day, in high seas and on calm waters. It is not easy to get back to cooking for two people at a time, but..... we have a large freezer and slowly and surely it is getting filled up with ...... extras!

 Today we went for a walk in the woods, the dog, the man and I.

I have not taken the time to go for a walk in our little woods since we came back, left that to the aforementioned two all the time but today, although it is cold, the sun is shining and I could put on layers and layers of warm clothes and venture into the beautiful landscape of snow, frost, ice and bright, bright light.  As we were walking over the fields to the woods I look about and acknowledged the amazing differences in surroundings which I have experienced recently. Some of it almost too hard to believe, never mind fully understand.
A month ago this is what his legs looked like, when he took a salt water shower aboard Sørlandet. We were preserving fresh water so we would have enough for the next port. The fresh water maker cannot be used close to land and in port due to polution. It is not cold, but about 24 degrees celcius coming straight from the Atlantic Ocean through a firehose, into a bucked with holes and voila, a shower for all to enjoy. Much appreciated by the students aboard the ship, especially on really hot days.

Today's view towards the north west of our property,  cold crisp beauty.
Once upon a time, in early November, on a drive around the country outside Agadir in Morocco. Warm dry, slow and patient view.  Hard putting these two views above together it is ........ something to digest slowly.

And the end of our walk in the snow covered woods. We had brought a bag of sunflower seed for our friends and they were there, waiting for us, ready to roll, oh, fly back and forth between safe branches and the big communal snack bowl hanging in the tree.