I splurged and had a pedicure today. As I was sitting and having the soles of my feet pumiced, I looked down the row of pedicure stations. There we were, all place or show medalists in the contest that is American Society (not the winners, mind you, the winners in the American Financial race do not go to store front nail salons. I know, I've played tourist a couple of times at the "so high end, there is no name on the door type salon"), with people bent over our feet, cleaning, buffing, polishing and annointing us. None of our attendants spoke English as a first language, and it was clear, from the way they dressed, spoke and held themselves, that they did not yet see themselves as part of the same society as the rest of us.I had a couple of moments of discomfort at the idea that I, and my fellow pedicurees (new word?) were exploiting the people working in the salon. After all, how many of us, would like to spend our days hunched over someone elses feet?And then, the massage function in my chair went into rest mode, allowing me to be somewhat more observant and I noticed that the workers, albeit quiet, were chatting amongst themselves. My guess is the languages were Korean and Indian influenced Spanish. Not one of the workers spoke to their clients, instead, they would pick up a foot, manipulate it into the position they needed, put the foot down. Occasionally, they would tap a foot to get the attention of the person attached to it, and then tap the foot rest, or point at the water, so the person would know where to put their foot.And then, another thought occurred. They weren't treating us as completely human! The way that we were being treated, and the camaraderie shown between the workers reminded me of horse shows and dog shows. They were the groomers, and we were the dumb animals. Pampered and special, perhaps, but still less than the full humanity that they held for themselves. A strange and humbling moment. None the less, in a life where I spend so much of my time taking care of others, both family members and clients, I am more than happy to be treated as a show pony every once and a while. I just need to remember to express gratitude to my groomers!
Looking for something to add to my daily work while I figure out this betwixt and between period, I've started doing the Tarot Contemplation exercise from the DM Kraig book “Modern Magic.” (Someone, somewhere described John Michael Greers teaching style as too intellectually rigorous, but it seemed to fit me just right). The tarot exercise uses only the major arcana, and not even all of them, when you start, you pull out and put aside some of the cards. So, the likelihood of repeating a card in quick succession is high. As a result, I was not surprised when I pulled Key XIV, Temperance, two nights in a row. When it showed up on the third consecutive night I said “OK, there is a message or a lesson here for me.” But, because the purpose of the exercise is to learn the cards, on night four, I pulled that card out of the deck and put it aside before starting the work. And, when I got to that part of the evening, I shuffled the remaining cards and pulled one out to study, and got---Key XIV, Temperance, because, yes, I am using a deck that has more than one version of the card in it. I think that I know where I will be focusing my studies for a little while…
(I know that usually the title Temperance is connected to the idea of cutting wine with water, but looking at the title of this post, something else occurred to me. Might it be the act of tempering? As in tempering steel by subjecting it to controlled heating and cooling? The strengthening of “something” by repeated controlled exposure to fire and water. This would certainly tie in with the other names for the card. Am I to do the tempering? Or am I the “something/one” being tempered? Or both?)
A blue ribbon for the almond cake, and the nice UPS man just brought me two books- "Magic, Power, Language, Symbol: A Magicians Exploration of Linguistics" by Patrick Dunn, and "Paths of Wisdom" by John Michael Greer. Of course, DH took Patricks book with an "Oh Cool!" so its just as well that I have plenty of reading material.
(Todays harvest from the garden, I don't remember the variety of cucumber, the tomatoes are Amish Paste. This time last week, nothing was close to ready to pick, and then, it rained...)
Mostly home and hearth magic lately.
Yesterday I spent a few hours filling gelatin capsules with ground tumeric-I try to do as many as I can at one time, since the tumeric dyes my fingers a shade of marigold yellow, and stains my nail polish. It is exceedingly grounding work, and I always feel so stable and "here" when I've finished. I tried to look up any other associations it might have in the "Encyclopedia of Natural Magic," but the not-quite-17 year old has made off with the book and shows no signs of being willing to give it back any time soon.
Today is baking. Tomorrow morning, DH and I will pack up 2 cakes and 8 cinnamon rolls and take them off to the County Fair. Yes, this hearthwitch actually lives in a place that still has such things. I've lost track of how many years I've entered the baking competition at the fair. Some years, I come home with blue ribbons, some years, not. I do best with bread, rather than sweet things, the problem being that the judges discontinue catagories when someone wins it more than 2 years in a row. So this year, the bread catagories are not very interesting. So I will try sweet items. I've one cake entered in the "anything but chocolate cake" catagory, and one in the "made with a commercial mix as an ingredient" catagory. I don't have a lot of hope for the second one, as I only have cheaply made bundt pans and the pans do not conduct heat evenly. Oh well, good tools, good results. Not so good tools...
So,I baked 2 bundt style coffee cakes with chocolate bits and walnuts, 2 amazing almond cakes, and everything for the cinnamon rolls except the actual baking. The rolls will rise slowly in the refrigerator overnight, and I will bake them at the crack of dawn tomorrow, that way they will be fresh for the judges (winner of that catagory gets a huge purple rosette ribbon, and I don't have one of those!). All of this done in addition to the usual daily stuff. Tomorrow, while the rolls are baking I will choose which of the cakes to decorate and enter. Then, fortified with much coffee, the baked goods gently wrapped to keep the dust off (and believe me, you do not want the dust from an agricultural fair on anything you are going to eat!), we will hand the entries over to be judged.
I have a long-term client (for those coming late to the story, among my varied careers, I am a personal fitness trainer) whom I have been working with for nearly 7 years. When he came to me, he was fresh out of cardiac rehab and morbidly obese (I am using the phrase in the medical sense, not the esthetic sense). When we sat down to discuss his goals, and what he wanted from working with me, he stated that he wanted to avoid another heart attack and live long enough to see grandchildren. Oh yeah, if he could get to the point where he could reach to tie his own shoes, he would like that very much.
We’ve worked on cardiovascular training and endurance. We work on muscle strength. Balance, flexibility, and coordination work are all part of our routines.
Over the years (and it was a very slow start), we have gotten him from morbidly obese, to grossly obese to “merely” obese. He has 5 grandchildren that he delights in spoiling. The dosages for his cholesterol medications and his blood pressure medications and his heart medications have been cut. His memory is better. He passed his last 2 stress tests with flying colors. He no longer needs his sleep apnea mask and is no longer dependant on sleeping aids to sleep at night. Whereas, when he first came to me (or at least before the heart attack that drove him to consider a personal trainer), he was playing golf once a week, and had to avoid taking practice swings because he would exhaust himself otherwise, he now plays golf 3 or 4 times a week and every year for the last 5, he has broken his own records for drive lengths.
So what is he most outwardly pleased with? That he can now reach behind his back and grab one wrist with the other hand. He showed me this yesterday with great excitement (although I knew that he had been capable of this for a little while), and said “Look, Look! Now, if I get arrested, I can be handcuffed, without my shoulder muscles tearing!”
The sky is blue and my vegetable gardens are lush jungles (no Martha Stewart gardener, I, my tomatoes get planted so close together that no weeding is necessary-the vines shade out the soil.). The blackberry brambles are full of fruit. This year, we have had a family of catbirds and a flock of sparrows take up residence in the yard, along with the usual cardinals, blue jays and robins. The rabbit is back (and yes, it is a fiercebunny!) Everywhere you look, there are signs of life. And yet…the air is still, heavy, hot. Away from the community beach, it is very quiet. This time of year doesn't feel like “life” to me, it feels like…stasis. It feels like winter, if winter were hot, instead of cold.
This could have something to do with my Jewish upbringing, when the Autumnal Equinox heralded the coming new year. Or, it could be that being the child of parents who pursued their higher education goals, even as I was starting school, September seemed full of new books, new clothes and excitement. Or, maybe it has to do with my psycho/spiritual “cell memory,” hearkening back to the Mid-East, to Mesopotamia, to Canaan, to Egypt, where summer, with its fierce sun and lack of rain was the season of death. My pensiveness is most likely amplified by a traumatic, but in the end, miraculous event of earlier this week, but that isn't where it originates. This is the time of the conserving of energy, for the activity that will come. It is the Alef, the intake of breath, before B’rasheit, when it all starts again.
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