Friday, January 30, 2009

Small Town Life

Just so you don't think from previous postings that I have a problem with small town life, I thought I would pass this along.

Yesterday, a squirrel fell down the chimney and was trapped in our fireplace. The only hav-a-heart trap we own is far too small for a squirrel, so this morning, I called the police, to see if they could recommend a wild life rehab organization for me to contact. The woman at the police switchboard took my information and told me that someone would be out to see me. Within ten minutes, we had not one, but two police cars pull up, one marked, one unmarked. What were they thinking? Squirrel home invasion? But once it was officially confirmed that, yes, there was a squirrel in the fireplace, the animal control officer was contacted. And, she, with net and no gloves dealt with the squirrel.

Small town life-gotta love it.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Saturn Salts

The Saturn in Capricorn salts finally crystallized. They were coarse, non uniform in size or pattern, dirty yellow, and had black flakes in them. Really ugly.

So, I scraped them up, and redissolved them in more distilled water. Again, the water turned pale yellow/green. I filtered the water and the water turned yet more green. So, I did it once more, and the water turned even greener. I washed the glass pan that I've been using for the crystallization process, and this time, I rinsed the pan with the distilled water, just to be on the safe side. I poured the salt solution back in the pan (without wiping it dry, that way there would be no issue of something from the towel contaminating it) and now, I am back to waiting.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Bionic Grandmother

A big "Thank You!" to those of you who spared some thoughts for my Grandmother and her surgery. I just got the phone call, that not only is she out of surgery, she is out of the recovery room, hungry (!) and asking for her reading glasses.

I also want to say (again) "Thank You" to all those people who helped to elect Barack Obama president. That may seem like an out of place comment, but the election had a lot to do with the surgery. My grandmother is hours away from her 97th birthday, and this was elective surgery. She now has a new knee (which means that both knees and one hip are replacement parts). Prior to the election, many of her conversations with me centered on her great unhappiness with the politico/social situation of the nation. Post election, many of our conversations centered on how hard it was for her to get around, and how she didn't think that was a good way to live, how she missed the opera, the ballet, the museums. (she also talked about how she missed having her own car-but she is NOT getting that back!)

My Grandmother was born in a tenement on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, in an apartment that was heated by a coal stove and lit by oil lamps. She was the first member of our family to graduate from high school, to graduate from a university (with a degree in mathematics, no less). She watched the rise of the American Empire and traveled to places that are no longer safe for Americans to visit. (I don't think she has ever been to Antarctica, but its possible I am wrong.) She taught in literacy programs, and worked to reform the machine of the Democratic Party in Brooklyn. She raised three daughters, while my Grandfather was often away, on government business. When her children were old enough to let her concentrate on her own projects, she learned to paint. Somewhere, down some corridor of the Brooklyn Museum, hangs one of her paintings, although I could not find it, the last time I was there. Somehow, she survived a year in which her husband (my grandfather) died, and then six weeks later, her oldest daughter (my mother) died. And then, not much more than a year after that, she danced at my wedding. She is the most loving and most "brook no crap" grandmother and great-grandmother out there. She lives in her own home, with her dog (and yes, people and their pets do end up resembling one another. Both dog and Grandmother are small, fluffy-haired and fierce.) And, she tells me at least once a week, that she is unhappy with me for having moved so far from her. And then we talk politics, philosophy, history and about art.

When I grow up, I want to be like her.

Happy 97th Birthday, Grandma, and congratulations on your new knee.

To hell with the silk and linen

Its cold and grey outside. We have a wonderful pancaking of snow, ice, snow, sleet and now freezing rain going on. My house is old and quite frankly could use a lot more insulation. Its almost enough to layer my sacred ritual long underwear (which I really do have, and use) with the holy sweatpants and top (which I have never yet resorted to). Instead, this weather may be just the push I need to finally do something with the almost 4 yards of dark grey, double faced wool that was left over from another project. I'm thinking, some sort of open fronted coat/cloak like thing to wear over my other stuff. All I have to do is figure out how to lay it out (officially, its not "enough" fabric!) and how to keep the cat off of it while doing so. Also, since I've had to redo all the incense I made yesterday (it dried far too fast, due to the lack of humidity), I have to keep the color from the incense off the fabric. If I can figure out a way to stay warm, it will all be worthwhile!

Also, my grandmother is currently having surgery-if anyone can spare a thought or two in her direction, for a quick and easy healing, I'd appreciate it. I'll blog more about her, once I hear that she is in the recovery room. Thanks.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

It was a good day and I only upset one person

DH and I finally got our day at the museum. There were several special exhibits that I had wanted to see, but as is the case with best laid plans, we just didn't take everything into account. Such as, when the Metropolitan Museum of Art puts together a special exhibit it's a big deal (not like the Egyptian Magic exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum last year. That exhibit could have fit in a closet.). We saw "Beyond Babylon: Art, Trade, and Diplomacy in the Second Millennium B.C."{F3EC2A76-071C-45DE-9713-B4EA77EBA531}&HomePageLink=special_c1b

It wasn't so much about Babylon, Mittani or Egypt, or any of the nation-states that were between them, as much as it was about the relationships between the states. So, if you didn't know alot about the era or that part of the world, you could walk through the rooms in an hour or so. We saw plenty of people doing just that, saying "oh look at that sword" or "cool sandals" (they were made of beaten gold, and they were cool), or "those little beady things-what are cylinder seals?" But for us, we only got through 2 of the rooms, and had started on the third, when we decided to break for lunch (and yes, we did eat at the Petrie Court Cafe. The duck comfit is better at MOMA, but the food is still very good). After lunch, and coffee and sufficient rest for our feet, we went back to the exhibit.

That was when I disturbed the world view of a fellow museum goer. We were looking at a display of Babylonian styled cylinder seals, made and found in Byblos, mid to late second millennium. A pair of women was looking at them rather intently, and DH starting talking to one of them. (he has that talent of being able to talk to anyone.) She was amazed that writing was used for common place purposes-there was instruction on horsemanship, written in cuneiform, incised in clay. She was under the impression that the situation in Europe in the early Middle Ages had been consistent throughout history-until the Enlightenment, only priests knew how to read and writing was for religous or state purposes, only. Then, she said that she had visited Jerusalem, and had seen cylinder seals in a museum there, but none were as fine as the ones we were looking at. I (and this is why I am not good at talking to just anyone) pointed out that at best, Jerusalem in the mid to late second millennium was a backwater village. Holy tilt the world off its axis, batman! Bad enough to suggest that business people could read and write (or hire scribes), but to suggest that there was a time when Jerusalem wasn't the center of the universe??!!

(We spent nearly another two hours going through the rest of the exhibit. A good part of that time we found ourselves in the same area as those women, but they were very careful to avoid us after that!)

After we finished (and my feet felt like I had been wearing those gold sandals, rather than comfortable shoes), we made a quick visit to the Egyptian galleries. Even though the museum was crowded, the "feel" of the Temple of Dendur was that of calm. Even with crying babies, cavorting teenagers, nervous guards, I felt I could stay there for hours. From there, we visited the Tomb of Perneb. The feel there is very different, I get a sense of deep brooding unhappiness, to the point where I begin to feel pressure in my head. It becomes unpleasant and then painful very quickly. In some ways, the Temple is still in use, maybe not for the active worship of the Roman era Isis, but it is still a place of visitation and awe. The tomb? It is an exhibit in a museum, and something there is not happy about it. DH said that he, too, felt something like that. I will admit to relief, confirmation that I am not imagining things is always nice.

We've already started making plans to go back.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Just what are they selling?

Occasionally, my sister sends me sample sized packages of skin care or cosmetics that get sent to her. (she is loyal to her own brands, but sales people are always looking to seduce). This afternoon, I opened a package and read:

Active principles include white agaric mushroom, halophile microalgea and our swiss muscle relaxing peptide based on the venom of the temple viper.

My only question is, do I put this stuff on my skin, or feed it to an enemy?

Tincture # 2 Saturn in Capricorn

The non-Magical community thinks we are crazy. Last night by about 8:15, I was inclined to agree. There I was, in the dark, in the snow, with another storm approaching, standing bundled against the 14 degree cold (but with the wind chill feeling more like 1 degree below zero) trying to keep a bowl of chopped leaves burning and smoldering. There were definitely moments when I wondered about my sanity.

If I thought that this tincture project would be 7 identical operations, with only the herbs being the variant, I learned otherwise. The menstruum are different. Jupiter is emerald green, Wizard of Oz, Emerald City, emerald green. Saturn is forest green. Last month, the lemon balm burned beautifully, and took very little coaxing to smolder to the white ash stage. The comfrey? Oh, the alcohol burned off quickly enough, but that was it. I then spent the next hour and a half (in that lovely weather) with a long nozzled lighter heating the comfrey and encouraging it to light. The lemon balm burned from the center, out. The comfrey would light in a ring at the circumference of the material, and the coals would not spread. Another difference was the odor of the smoke. The lemon balm smelled like burning herbs and was pretty evocative of certain teenage and young adult years. The comfrey smoke was far more acrid. It smelled of the barnyard, with under notes of over ripe bananas.

While I am quite sure that there are common place reasons for the different behaviors, the different ways the calcinations played out were very much in tune with the planetary, elemental and herbal powers. Of course the fiery Jupitor herb calcined more easily than the earthy Saturnian one. And, it does make sense that the Capricornian herb smelled more of barn yard than the lemon balm.

At 9pm, I came inside (I started at 7:30). I had a bowl of coarse gray ash, not the fine white material I had hoped for, but my fingers were far too numb to use the lighter anymore. I covered the bowl, so no foreign material could get into it, and took a most marvelous hot shower.

I finished the calcination today, using the oven. First, I broke up the large pieces of material that were still evident in the bowl, then put it in the oven (set for 450 degrees) for an hour. Luckily for the utilities bill, that was all it took. After it cooled, I ground the ashes, mixed them with distilled water, and then filtered the water. Here, too, was a difference from the last tincture. The "sludge" filtered from the Jupiter tincture was brown, from the Saturn tincture, it was gray. The filtered solution from the Jupiter tincture was clear. The solution from the Saturn tincture had a faint colored tinge to it. So I filtered it again, and again, and then a fourth time. And with every filtering, the solution became more colored. After the fourth filtering it was clearly a bright citrine (the color of the gemstone, not the Golden Dawn muddy color).

I had intended to take a picture of the salts in the pan from the last tincture as they had made such a beautiful pattern. However, in my great enthusiasm for the project, I forgot. I hope to remember this time around.

When this tincture is finished, I will have a several month break before I start the next one (Mars in Aries). Then, it will be pretty steady work through the summer. This first round will be planetaries, but already DH is encouraging me to try working with all the zodiac signs. Knowing how many people work without the encouragment and interest of their spouses and partners, I thought I might say now (and forever) how grateful I am to have his support of my interests.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy First Day of 2009

DH, Younger Daughter (somehow, a very Asian way of referring to her) and I had a lovely, and to us, traditional bringing in of the new year. We had a collection of snacky, delicious and bad for us finger foods, a few bottles of bubbly drink (a bottle of champagne for me, several bottles of sparkling apple cider for the DH and the daughter) and a movie. This year, the movie was Hogfather. When shutting down the computer afterwards, I found this link in my email, from my sister:

How very cool (and amusing), my sister had no idea what movie we had been watching, nor does she enjoy Terry Pratchetts oeuvre.

So...Plans and Resolutions for 2009

Bring more organization into my life. Hecate said it far better than I can, here:

and, in sub headings, clean out my pantry (so things will stop falling on DH), organize my grocery shopping (coupons!) better.

Write more real letters.

Pick up the phone and make arrangements to meet and see people, rather than waiting for someone else to make the first move. I love that I've met so many interesting people through the web and email, but what I really want is the ability to actually sit down and talk and hang out with interesting people.

Work on my Planetary Tinctures project. This will take me the better part of the year, in any case, since I will start each tincture when the sun is in the sign ruled by the planet that I will be working with. It is already proving to be an interesting project.

Work on what I need to do to experience those occasions of complete and unified knowing of the immanence of the Divine. The memory of those moments I have experienced glow in me, but they are far fewer than I would wish for.

2008 ended far happier than 2007 ended. And 2009 started far more happily than 2008 started. This is a progression that I intend to encourage.