Funk Tech with Panache
Last Friday I arrived in Marcola, Oregon, twenty-five miles north-east of Eugene, to visit my friend Ayala Talpai, a soul sister from my commune days in Sonoma County. Ayala, both an artist and craftsperson, and her husband Richard Talpai, a master finish carpenter whose work graces the palaces of the rich and famous in Los Angeles, have created a faerie kingdom in the woods, all of it handmade with style, while living on next to nothing.
Their house, a yurt plus additions,
surrounded by a flower garden
Their business name is Diligence--and I can attest that they are seldom idle, and proceed with the glee of elves.
Beside the house, a round garden full
of salad greens, cooking vegetables
Ayala raised her five sons in the country, sometimes without electricity or running water. They thrived. South is a bow-hunter and back-packing guide who bought Nancy Peregrine's lama saddles and business. Olin just won a scholarship to study ceramics at Kansas City Arts Institute. Andrew learned Richard's trade and opened a finish carpentry business in Eugene at age twenty. Benjamin works as the stage manager of the opera company of Oslo; he married a Norwegian. Stephen has a family in North Carolina, where he works with software. Ayala says they are all gourmet cooks.
Richard and Ica'mani
Ayala spins her own yarn, knits hats and socks from it, and uses it to make felt fantasy creatures, dolls for adults, and illustrated felt rugs. The fiber for the yarn and felt comes from her menagerie of fluffy creatures, which include five sheep, five angora rabbits, two cats, and Ica'mani, a long-haired, sweet-tempered purebred German shepherd. Ica'mani (Ee-chah-mah-nee) means "walks along side" in a Sioux language; Richard chose him from among ten litters and nurtured him to perfection.
Ica'mani is the only shepherd dog I
know with his own flock of sheep.
Ayala sheers her sheep and rabbits, and
saves combings from the cats and dog.
Richard's amazing woodworking created a
series of architectural details
The cupboard above the sink doubles as a dish-drainer.
The inside ceiling of the yurt, with
its central skylight.
The gothic arch and rose window in the
Bathtub set in paneled cabinetry,
illuminated by skylight,
The lace-curtained outhouse bolts
together to be moved over a new pit every
Carvings above the door, brass fittings
Even the wild birds have a shingled domicile here.
Even the metal front gate has a touch of fantasy. That's Ica'mani greeting me from afar.
But the best part of the whole scene is sharing with loving friends of like mind.