Saturday, December 26, 2009


3 dreams clearly remembered, but I do not remember the order in which I experienced them.

With a huge rake, reminiscent of a 19th century pastoral painting, I am raking up a harvest of green beans? squash? (the imagery isn't clear) from the side of my garden. As I rake, I see mice, tiny and curled up and sleeping under and among the vegetables. It doesn't appear that they have done the vegetables any harm and as I rake, they wake up and run off.

Leaving a school building where I had no business being a student, apparently it being a (very media image, castle like) school of magic. As I walk away from the building, I am knifed, from throat to stomach by one of the students, and while seriously weakened, I do not die. He, who attacked me, though, takes poison and collapses, dying in my lap. This person was someone whom I had attended junior high school and high school with.

A dream of Abraham, Sarah, Isaac and Rachel, most likely inspired by R. Crumbs "Illustrated Book of Genesis," which I received as a gift yesterday. In the dream, I am both Rachel and an omniscient viewer. Sarah and Rachel are urging Abraham and Isaac away from something/someplace, but Abraham and Isaac are reluctant. The women are also concerned because Abraham is senile and physically weak. None the less, the women cannot leave him behind. He is concerned with walls, and when encouraged by Rachel that there will be safe walls where they are going, he stops to play with rocks in the roadway.

Friday, December 25, 2009


It appears that the "obnoxious, but not flu" virus is, infact the H1N1 flu virus. Happy, happy.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

So what do I do about Christmas?

Note: This post is entirely my venting and working out some issues. If you have a low tolerance for TMI, feel free to not read it.

Chanukah (todays spelling) is over less than a week. I sat with the Fire and the Dark on the Solstice just 2 nights ago. My older daughter took her final final for the semester today. My younger daughter is just getting over some really obnoxious, but not flu, virus. DH seems to have now come down with said obnoxious not-flu and stayed home from work, to drink tea and rest. So what did I do today?

I wrapped and labeled presents (and fretted over the ones that have not yet arrived). I wrote out the menu for the Christmas dinner for Friday, with the steps needed for each dish, so I would know what order and how far from eating time each step should be started. I cleaned. I did some of the cooking. I braved the supermarket and the liqueur store. I figured out the baking schedule. What we will eat the morning of, and what we will eat the night before (the night before will most likely be pizza).

Why? The holiday means nothing to me. I am hereditarily and culturally Jewish. So, how did this come to pass?

Because I wanted to see my husband smile.

When you are young and not really settled, the holidays belong to the parents. Because my family is Jewish and DH's is various flavors of Christian, dividing the holidays between the families was never a problem (well, Thanksgiving was an issue, but we worked it out). Christmas and Easter with his mother, Passover and Chanukah with my father. We just needed to show up (hmm, it was always more complicated than that, this is the approved sepia toned memory...). Then DH, new at a job, had to work both the day of Christmas Eve and Christmas day, leaving no opportunity for us to make the 2 hour drive to his mothers house. He was upset. His mother, trying to console him and make him feel better (I will believe that, I will believe that), didn't exactly choose the best phrases and managed to make DH feel even worse.

I decided that I would make Christmas for him. I ordered a tree. Yes, you read that correctly. Knowing absolutely nothing about any of this, I called the local florist and ordered a Christmas tree to be delivered. With a stand. Up three flights of turning staircases in an old Victorian house. I should have tipped that kid enough to pay for his college education. I ran out to the local drugstore and bought whatever ornaments they had on clearance (by this point, it was late afternoon on Christmas eve). And I threaded and hung the ornaments with sewing thread. I put my present for him under the tree, and I waited for him to come home from work.

When he finally did come home and saw the tree, he was struck speechless (those of you who know DH can understand how surprised he was, for those of you who don't know him, take my word on it, being struck speechless probably happens to him once a century or so). It really made him happy. So the whole project made me happy, too. And while DH was at work on Christmas day, my father and I created an English Victorian feast, by using the book "A Christmas Carol" as our template. When DH got home, we ate and drank and celebrated (he and I, my father and his current girlfriend) for hours. It was truly an amazing meal and an amazing evening.

I didn't realize that a one time event would become tradition.

I am no longer responsible for getting the tree (Thank the Gods!). But somehow, over the years the responsibility for gifts has become mine. The gifts for his mother and brother and brother's family. The gifts from his mother to him, our daughters, and to me. Gifts to our daughters from us. From me, to him. I did manage to draw the line at buying myself a gift from DH. The cooking, the baking, the planning is mine to do.

I am very tempted not to. (except that it is too late to not do it, this year.)

What stops me? Two things; once, when the girls were little around ages 2 and 5, I decided that having a garden was just more than I could handle that year. So for the first time since we bought the house, I didn't buy garden seeds or seedlings and I didn't garden. I didn't notice any free time. I did feel a hole in my life for more than a season, though. I didn't miss doing the work (for those of you without children, having a 2 year old and a 5 year old is more work than 1 person should handle anyway), I missed having the garden. I missed it enough that I welcomed the work the next year, and every year since. Will I miss the "event" of our household holiday, even as I don't miss the work that it entails? (even if, as with gardens all the work in the world can't guarantee success and happiness?)

The second thing that stops me is the memory of my husband, speechless with surprise and pleasure.

The presents are ordered, mostly here (still waiting for one item that I didn't realize needed to come from India) wrapped and labeled. The food and drink purchased and somewhat prepped. Dining room returned to its designated use from sewing/craft room. I am exhausted and cranky.

I can't expect surprise, but pleasure and happiness would be appreciated (and so would appreciation).

Monday, December 21, 2009

Blessed Solstice and Return of the Light

What is the Solstice? Astronomically (and in this case, also astrologically), it is the moment when the sun enters the constellation and sign of Capricorn, the furthest south on its journey. (yes, yes, I know, the sun doesn't move, it is a question of appearing to move. Excuse me, while I put the earth and its inhabitants in the center of creation for a moment). The solstice marks the shortest day (in the northern hemisphere), and therefor, the longest night. This year, for the East Coast of the United States, the moment of Solstice was at 12:48 pm. Pretty much right in the middle of the day. As a result, the nights on either side were of the same length; 14 hour and 47 minutes from sunset to sunrise.

Thinking it through, I decided that it made more sense to celebrate the maximum dark and encourage the return of light and warmth on the second of the two long nights; it is only after the second one that the days will begin their increase. But that also means a Monday night, a weeknight, a work night, and since the Solstice is one of several holidays observed, a busy time indeed. I am a firm believer in observing the astronomically based holidays at the right time, not when it is convenient, so Monday night it is.

I came home from a morning appointment with a client and swept out the fireplace and hearth. Laid in the logs for a good fire, and set matches and "help" near at hand. At the center of the grate, I place the charcoal that had been left from last years Solstice fire. I filled the wood box on the porch. Then I spent the next hour or so getting other responsibilities and chores out of the way, so when night falls, I won't be busy and distracted.

At the moment of the Solstice (Verizon time), I lit the fire. It has been blazing merrily for more than three hours, and the sun has begun to set. I will have time to go out to the woodpile once more before it gets dark, but there is plenty of wood stacked on the porch. Sitting by the fire with the long dark outside, I will contemplate, think upon and remember all those who came before me. All those who set fires and lit candles and created beacons in the dark and cold, so that light and warmth could be found.

Love, and blessings to all of you. If you are without light and warmth, may my fire be as a beacon. And for those of you who have found your light, and source of warmth, may my fire help feed yours.

See you all on the light side!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

I'm glad I am not a redwood

The Wheel is turning constantly, but for the most part, we humans only notice the big moments. Tonight, I celebrated (for lack of any other term) the last New Moon before the winter Solstice. Going out into the Circle was not negotiable, but my apparel was! According to the local weather report, it was 24 degrees out, but with wind and lack of humidity, it felt more as if it were 14 degrees out. So never mind the ritual robe, even with the ritual long underwear. Tonight, it was polar fleece and down filled coat and boots. Even taking into consideration my casual attire, there are advantages to outdoor ritual on a sub-freezing dark winter night. No neighbors came to stand in doorways or on porches to see what I was up to, or to add light to my starry darkness.

It was intended to be a short ritual. I may take my oaths seriously, but I also take my health into consideration.

I said what needed to be said, did that which needed to be done. The experience and the result was remarkable, a reward (possibly) for not finding an excuse, for not sloughing off. We speak of seeds, sleeping in the earth at this time of year, awaiting the return of the sun and the warmth to sprout and grow. Sometimes we mean actual seeds, sometimes we are speaking metaphorically. Standing in the (wind chill factored in) 14 degrees, listening to and feeling the breeze and watching (and listening to) the stars, I was very cold and very awake-sleep did not seem possible. So it was shown to me.

As I stood there, the ground and the trees grew up and curved over me, until I was within a hollow ball of earth and soil and bits of tree. I was still standing upright, the way one carefully plants a flower bulb, so the correct part faces up, toward the surface of the earth and the sun. But I was within the soil. It was dark, no sky, no stars. And silent, the breeze could not be heard and the earth creatures were all sleeping. I felt supported, even as I was standing by the earth around me, cool but not cold, it must have been below the frost line. And because it was silent and dark and not so cold, I said "Yes, I see now, how this works." Once I said that, the closed space above me peeled open, like a flower bud beginning to bloom. The sky and the stars reappeared; the land flattened out and the trees reoriented themselves. I wasn't to experience the sleep and the awakening and the push and the growth of the seed, I was just being shown that small part that I had questioned.

There was a bit more, which for now I shall keep to myself. But I was very glad for a hot shower and a cup of tea when I came inside.

(about the post title-Redwoods and closed cone conifers need to be exposed to fire before they will germinate)

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Winter is here

It snowed today. For some reason, this took me by surprise. With errands to run, I had no choice but to clean off the car and relearn how to drive in the snow. And relearn a few other things. Such as; remember your gloves (not the nice ones, the waterproof ones!) and locate the snowbrush/scraper for the car before you are ready to leave. I wasn't the only one surprised by the snow, it seemed as if the road crews (town, county and state) were surprised, as well. The roads were barely plowed and there had been no spreading of sand. What should have been a series of three 15 minute errands stretched into 3 hours of white knuckle driving, while the sun set and it got dark. I didn't realize how stressed I was by the drive until I showered later on and realized that my legs were quivering from having them tensed the whole time.

And there is a perfect image for me for the year. I've gotten through this year of the reordering of my family and universe. I've mourned my Grandmother and accepted the changing of the familial responsibilities. I've made her belongings a home in my home, and have made them my own, in the process. But, just as the driving today was bad enough, but do-able, but then made worse by nightfall, new, small and possibly expected events kept testing my abilities.

After 27 years of holding on to my mothers jewelry (he kept it all in her jewelry box, in a drawer in his dresser), this Thanksgiving, my father decided it was time for me and my sister to have it. Shall we say that is created a new psychological and emotional workload? The week after Thanksgiving, my mother in law came up from Florida for a visit. While I knew that I would do the lions share of entertaining her, DH's work schedule was such that he saw very little of her. And, as a further test of my abilities (patience, empathy, grounding and centering, translating...) we found that my mother in law was without a legal drivers license. So now I can add chauffeur to my list of skills.

All Work (Great or lesser) is personal, whether you are aware of it or not. This year, there was no way to avoid that knowledge.

There is a great deal that I am looking forward to writing about-I've written little to nothing about actual magic is a very long time. But first, I am going to New Orleans for a week. Maybe I will write about that first.