Clay, life

April 9, 2018


Pink Floyd plays, a fire roars in the big old fashioned stove, a single light bulb shines in the center of the room. Deep breath. I am alone tonight. My hosts went out, I took a bath, washed my clothes, now there is the night quiet in Tymakov, the Czech village where I am living right now.

One of the reasons for deciding to go on this journey was that I could not afford to pay rent. I am at this very moment down to ground zero. Right now I am a seed.

Looking back,  I see that in 1989 I was also a seed arriving in Vancouver, a blooming plant grew from that seed and produced many fruits. I became Danielle the singer songwriter, recording artist, a translator-producer, an entrepreneur, I married, I worked hard and made good money. Good fruits they were.

But fruits fall to the ground and become food and shelter for the seeds, All that grows eventually yellows, grays and collapses to the ground. Of this glorious plant was, left as the cycle demands,  the seed. The dandelion seed pushed by the winds made a likely metaphor for my life.


So in this little Czech village tonight I am having a moment to myself.  A few days ago Pavel showed me clay that he pulled out of a stack of big plastic bags. This “white” clay, as he called it, is a special vintage that was dug out of the Czech earth, where a sea existed many eons ago. I had this clay on my mind ever since he showed me. Saturday morning I asked about the plans for the day, he said: No plan, today off. I immediately decided to do something with this clay. I had no idea what I was going to do. I was too much in a hurry to put my hands in the stuff  and didn’t want to delay this moment in order to find material to build an armature, I just put my hands in the cool, damp stuff and started shaping it.

I sat outside on a blue stool, in front of a rough old table, the sun shining brilliantly on the land, the birds filling the air with their sounds and trills, there are so many song birds here, I love, love, love them… one pot with water a handful of wooden tools and this hunk of clay. It was the finest atelier one could ever dream of. What a freedom, what a quiet, profound joy. Around me, the many friends of my hosts are coming by, always bringing a small present of some homemade sort, a strudel, water from a mineral water well, or IT help. The men went to turn the earth in the back field, for a garden to come. Pavlina cooked lunch, Peter was fixing appliances, everyone contributing their skills at Living Whale.


So destitute as I am on paper, I am living this life of plenitude.

I’ve been here 2 weeks now, I’ve come to know some of the friends, the place, the poetry of these people. So quickly, I inserted myself into this life, and so quickly I will disappear from it. Since I’ve been here I have been given so many gifts, my host is so perceptive, first it was a guitar that appeared, then I had the chance to try a pottery wheel, visit some sculptures on a couple of outdoor sites, then after wasting my ink supply, a bottle of blue ink from the communist era appeared, they tell me it dates back from the 80’s and had been waiting for me ever since. ( I am practicing the calligraphy I learned in Oleron with it) Then it was this clay, the space, and this immense kindness.

I could be tempted to worry about leaving this place, tempted to feel sorry about letting go of this little paradise, but this is that lesson again: impermanence. Life is vast, abundant, magical.


I ended up making a horse, of course. The absence of armature meant that I had to devise something solid for the legs to support the form. I will make another one soon, this time I will experiment with sticks, Pavel who is a clay artist told me about this technique, using tiny sticks which will burn when put in the kiln. (yes after I leave and the pieces will have dried they will fire them)

I am here for now. Each day a new day. Each day like the last, each day like the first. Facing me, trying to love me, giving, helping as much as I can. I hope I can repay a bit what magnificent gifts they are bestowing upon me.




Czech Republic, hello!

April 5, 2018

d35my work inspired by l’Ile d’Oléron


After finishing my work I left Oléron.  My heart stays full of this place, it was absolutely magical and I have a longing for it in my heart.  I hope I can return one day.  I did indeed succeeded in making this big journey I talked about in the last post: going from Oléron to the Czech Republic. I crossed France hitchhiking via Bordeaux, Nérac, Carcassonne, Nice all hitchhiking except for one bit between Aix en Provence and Nice that I did via BlaBlaCar.  It was amazing.  I got to see friends all the way through and managed to make new friends on the road.

c87 The Atlantic shore, next stop: Québec…



In Italy I took the train, as opposed to France, the trains there are really affordable and easy, I would look forward in the future to traveling the country that way.  I was told that hitchhiking sucks in Italy so I did not even try.  Torino was great, I got to see my friend Antonio and met the Gypsy Marionettist, drank awesome coffee and really loved it until Milano where things kind of got sour between the train station and my seat to Berlin on a RyanAir jet.  Lets just say this:  if you go to a cafe in Milan 1. ask for the price before you sit or you may be charged for the air you breathe, 2. if the web site says it is a ticketless shuttle to the airport, print your ticket anyways.  3. if you fly Ryan Air PRINT YOUR BOARDING PASS.  4. If you are carrying art supplies… well, … don`t carry art supplies on RyanAir.  I`ll just add that for me RyanAir is now RyanNightmare.  Enough said.

the Gypsy Marionnetist



In Berlin it is the sweet Rebecca that I got to see again.  We knew each other from the Chillout days.  It was really cool, but it was very short, two nights and I was on my way to Poznan, Poland, then to Wroclaw for a very short overnight stop, then a quick stop in Prague where I just switched busses and was on my way.  I really wish to see this city in the future as it looks absolutely amazing. I arrived around 8 PM in Plzen (Pilsen) where my Workaway host picked me up.


Preparing for the Sweat Lodge on full moon night

Workaway.  I talked about it before: a website that connects travelers and hosts for work projects.  The travelers in exchange for their work get food and bed.  There is everything on the website, from labor camp to babysitting to bio-agriculture to language teaching, to art projects, etc, etc.  My beginning here were a bit tough, mainly because I have been a city girl for the last 5 years and have not done much exercise, let alone outdoor work so all the muscles involved in  things other than writing, talking, sleeping, sitting, playing guitar or drawing have been inactive… so piling wood and hauling bricks an building a wall felt like the Gulag to these hibernating muscles.
Thankfully the Easter weekend provided a much needed rest.  Also, we had a native indian inspired sweat lodge on the full moon (Saturday night) and that really helped in healing.

But don`t get me wrong, I am not complaining at all.  I realize that these Workaway experiences go beyond just showing up and meeting cool people.  As with most things in life, there are no accidents and I am now seeing that each experience helps me face an aspect of myself that needs facing.  So if something is very intense, I just reach in and try to confront it so that I can learn and heal.  It is a cliché but there are no accidents, especially if you do things mindfully, your choices will guide you to where you should be. Just traveling around superficially can be a sort of cool escape.  But being somewhere as a stranger with strangers, with all the challenges that come with not knowing a language, with the need to just surrender to whatever happens and trust the outcome, to be patient if you don`t understand, to be strong enough to overcome your fears and doubts.  It is really an amazing school if you allow it.  There is of course there is the bonus advantage like seeing new horizons, new cultures, be amazed by people and their visions and creations, make new friends and live unique, special moments on the other side of the globe.  It is totally inspiring.

And speaking of inspiration I feel it rise in me.  It had been a while since I have felt that kind of spark.


So there you go, I will not go into it too deep for now.  The images will have to do until next time.

All my love.