Tuesday, January 7, 2014

With a little help from my friends = *Give-away!*

Winter break is over ... we had a one-day extension due to excessive wind chills (as if any of us could forget, it is Winter!) and now it is business as usual.

Well, not exactly.

I find it vexing that the impulse of Winter - slowing down (who's kidding whom? total inertia!), inward focus, deep rest and quiet - contrasts sharply with the energies of a new year and the directive to start anew with projects, programs, regimens for wellness and health.  I know I am struggling over here to emerge out of my cocoon of blankets, sweaters and hot beverages. And while part of me is attempting to embrace (with frozen fingers) this time for reflection, deep listening and receiving of guidance another part of me is crying out for rescue from slothdom.  The mind is willing, but the body heavy and slow to awake.

Such is the time when I draw upon the light and inspiration of friends near and far.  Seeking sparks of life and energy in others words, work, and life examples, slowly slowly slowly I feel the crusty shell of ice and inertia fracturing, my being ever so slowly moving, awakening.  I cannot even begin to name all who lift me up (you may not even know it ... but yes, that dead weight you feel you are dragging just may be me clinging to your back) but I hope you/they know.  

I want to honor and acknowledge one of my litter bearers.  When my creative sparks ebbs, when my faith in the goodness of the world is tested, I turn to the denizens of Apifera farm and their mistress and voice, Katherine Dunn.  

gestural drawings inspired by Stevie (part of "Capturing the Essence" ecourse)

Writer, artist, channel for the stories of each member of her farm, I discover upon each virtual visit breadcrumbs of magic, wonder, love and celebration of both life and death, as well as the gifts of everyday.

Moose sock puppet (left) inspired by project in Creative Illustration Workshop (see below link)

In the past few years I have leaned heavily upon Katherine's instruction in art (her wonderful book Creative Illustration Workshop for Mixed-Media Artists and her online course Capturing the Essence) as well as her blogpost chronicling life on her where she nurtures and shares the stories of the goats, pigs, cats, geese and donkeys that she rescues.  Theirs are stories of survival, of the endurance of love despite pain, illness and death, and the immense courage and gift of standing clear-eyed in the midst of life's hardest lessons. 

Many of my own favorite pieces have been inspired by Apifera and the art of Katherine Dunn.


I want to thank Katherine and Apifera for all the intangible treasures of art and love I zealously gather up and hoard for emotional lean times. I think the very best way to express my gratitude would be to pay forward the gift of inspiration by offering Katherine's latest book Misfits of Love: Healing Conversations in the Barnyard as a special New Year giveaway prize to one of you, my dear readers, who support and sustain me so generously and lovingly. (If you visit the book's link, you can hear a book reading by the author as well as view selected page spreads.) 

sample page spread from Misfits of Love, used with permission from author

I feel particularly proud of this book because in a sense, it was a collaborative effort.  Not only between the author and the animals whose stories she shares, but with her audience who supported her quest to bring this book to life, eventually through self publishing and fund raisers. 

I am fortunate enough to say I had a small part in supporting this project.  It gives me hope to see others supporting art, voting with dollars to sustain a lifestyle devoted to loving care, creative expression and the power of stories to inspire and ignite imagination and acts of compassion and kindness.

And Play.  My favorite aspect of Katherine's work is the strong element of playfulness and invention that takes me back to the imagination I knew as a child.  Imagination that knows no limits.  Imagination that sees possibilities overlooked by tired, adult minds. 

But also there is the child's ability to hold both the hard truths within a deeper understanding of the magic and healing such lessons bring.

 "He [Giacomo, the donkey] died with my arms around him feeling kindness. His grave is now a place of comfort for visitors, as well as for me.

I truly believe Giacomo knew he was in a safe place where he was ready to rest. And I believe he was meant to rest here. He showed me you can trust even after you've been hurt.  I will never forget this creature, and he often comes to me in paintings."
(excerpt from Misfits of Love, used with permission from the author) 

I have one autographed copy of Misfits of Love that I will be giving away as my token of gratitude and as an act of sending light and warmth into our Winter world.  I will select a name at random (perhaps Sock Moose will draw the name out of a hat?) next Sunday, January 12.  To enter your name into the drawing simply leave a comment here, telling me who is your favorite denizen of Apifera farm.  If you are unfamiliar with Katherine's blog, then lucky you!  Follow the link and scroll through past blog posts to discover the many colorful and beautiful characters that call Apifera home.  I don't know if I could single out a favorite, but certainly Aunt Bea is a goat who stole my heart along with a more recent member of the barnyard, Moose. (of course, right?) And I am a sucker for the back end of a very photogenic Pig named Rosie

Comments will close on Sunday night and I will announce the winner on Monday.  Be sure I have a way to contact you. (If you have problems commenting, you can email me at: Lishofmann(at)novia(dot)net.)  Share this post on Facebook (let me know!) and your name will be entered twice.  

And bonus prize: if you are the lucky winner and choose to continue to pay it forward by making a contribution to Apifera  I will make for you a personalized, embroidered bookmark to accompany your prize  (Please note: Apifera is not a 501c registered nonprofit organization. But donations are welcomed: "While you can rest assured that each animal will be cared for, fed and vetted as necessary out of our own funds, we are happy when kind people want to slip us a little money to help defray the costs to maintain the barn animals we take on for life." - Katherine Dunn)

Good luck! And help spread the magic! 



  1. We SL sisters do share some of the same soul stirrings, don't we? I've followed the blog, and more recently, the fb page of the misfits with love. Thank you, Lis, for this opportunity to receive a copy of this wonderful book. xo

  2. I love the way you write! I'm sharing your post on my page on Facebook. Spreading the magic. Stay warm, Sister!

  3. Love this my dear friend :)
    Oh what a discovery! Thank you!!
    As a lover of all animals, I had a difficult time choosing only one.
    I narrowed my choice to Professor Otis Littleberry, he reminds me of Mr. Tumnus in Narnia :)
    Many blessings and cheers to paying it forward

    love and light and warmth

  4. Oh, it's Rosie the pig! The book looks just lovely..thank you for the chance to win!

  5. what a lovely give away - and i am in love with her 'misfits' hard to pick just one favorite but itty bitty etta sure did touch my heart - and i am smitten for little moose. thank you for this opportunity, lis.

  6. samuelle's got my vote, if'n i only get one. it is so hard to choose, but he's a charmer extraordinaire and i think needs an extra special little vote of love these days as he is on the mend! thanks to you for the lagniappe!!! bless you too! may your new year be bright!

  7. oh!! well if this isn't the most spectacular thing!! i've been wandering over to Apifera for a short while now - since you made the recommendation to me some time ago -- i think it's the most magical place. i'd be very hard-pressed to pick a favourite denizen -- i have a bit of a soft spot for old Rudy and of course, the donkeys are right up there...but i'm a sucker for a great name and a big round belly...as soon as i saw Raggedy Man, my heart just melted. who doesn't love a goat, anyway?

    i had no idea your fabulous livestock portraits were the fruits of one of Katherine's classes....you wretch, you. :)


  8. I have alerted the Barnyard of your give-away but told them I think it is inappropriate for them to participate, don't you think? They understood but did as I was leaving the barnyard, they were taking a straw pole of the creature they thought would be picked the most times. i left before hearing, it's just not always my business. Thank you, for sharing my book!

  9. ~my heart bled as i read of Old Man Guinnias...tears of many emotions began to fall...a journey...the precious gift of friendship...the transition of life as one makes their way from here to a more peaceful place...his letters of comfort and silent guidance that remains...a reminder that even when one is no longer here in our worldly place they are there quietly walking by our side...thank you so very much for sharing such a tender and beautiful artist this day...an inspiring one and i can now see and understand through this post where the heart of your drawings are coming from...being moved in such a wonderful way this morning...much love light and blessings be with you~

  10. I love the book, the drawings, the animals and their stories. And I own the book and also gave one to a friend for Christmas. I would like to donate this one, if I win, to my local library. And my favorite animal (it was a very close decision!) is Lofa, with his little bowlegs.

  11. I love Lofa! She has my heart because I have anemia too. The book looks amazing. And your barnyard animals always make me smile!! xoxo

  12. Love those farm animals. I can't wait until I get dairy goats! xoxo