Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Poised for reset, in three, two, one...

Chanukah is for family.  Christmas is for my husband, DH.  Yule is for friends and community.  But the Solstice, that is for ME.

This year, all of the holidays/occasions seem to happen very closely upon one another, like the Fortuny pleats on a vintage gown.  Two weeks ago, we attended a Jolfest/Blot/Wedding.  Last weekend was my family Chanukah party/family reunion.  This weekend will be Christmas.  Each event requires planning, cleaning, cooking, gift collecting and wrapping (with the exception of the Jolfest/Blot/Wedding, which only required cooking and some planning).  There is also the collecting of daughters from various cities and schools, and the accompanying readjustment to having more people in the house.

And then, tonight there is the Solstice.  In inspiration, Solstice celebrations are close kin to the celebrations of the other holidays, but for me, the observation is very very different.  Today, I will clean the fireplace hearth and lay the wood for a fire.  At the base of the wood will be the chunk of charcoal saved from last Winters fire; after all, last years fire was successful in seeing us through to the return of the sun.  I will also make sure that there is plentiful firewood on the porch to make it easier to keep the fire going all night.  (This year, there is no snow on the ground, but things are awfully soggy.)  At sunset, the fire will be lit. There will be a light dinner (already prepped!).  DH will come home from work and have dinner.  There will be Chanukah candles.  And a quiet evening.  And DH and daughter will go to bed.

I will stay up.

Solstice is the night that I tend the fire; I tend the hearth and the home and wait, in vigil for the return of the sun.  It is a quiet night, just me and sometimes, the cat.  I will read.  I will meditate.  I will scry in the fire and with my drop spindle. (I am not very good as spinning yarn, but I find it a remarkable aid to scrying.)  I will, most likely, trance.  I will eat and drink lightly, and in honor of those Deities Whom I honor.  The night is long, and the house will get cold.  Come dawn, I will go outside and raise a toast to the return of the light and the Spirits of this place.  Then, I will come back inside, bank the fire, and get into bed, to get what sleep I can before the activities of the day begin.

In some Germanic traditions, the night of the Solstice is Mothers Night, sacred most specifically to Frigga.  She, and her handmaidens will check each household to make sure that all household work for the year is finished, and to reward those industrious souls, and perhaps penalize those who have not finished.  It is a very good thing that mothers are forgiving, because there is no way that I could ever be "finished," not when there are so many varied traditions to be honored.  The Solstice is both my "pause" button and my "reset" button in a busy season, at the end of a cycle of time.  The dark and the quiet and the fire feed me and my spirit, so that I can go back into the bright holiday observations with a lighter heart and without a sapping sense of martyrdom to the season.  It allows me that time to contemplate the year that is ending, and the one about to begin.


On a related note, Deb, over at Charmed, I'm Sure, is running a program on transforming oneself over this limnal season.  I am not participating, but that has no reflection on what I see as a quality idea-I simply came upon it late, and I already had my own ideas/plans in the works.  While it has already started, there is still time to join in.  You can find the link here:  New Year, New You

(I will admit to a bit of amusement at the title she chose.  "New Year, New You" was the catchphrase that I used to market personal training programs every December/January, when I ran a gym.  If  there is "egregoric" strength to a phrase, this one should do well for  it's participants.)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Awaiting the Reset Button

I'm pretty sure that there is a new blog post percolating. In the meantime, you may find this new publication of interest:

An International Journal on
Charms, Charmers and Charming

Issue 1, 2011, can be read as a pdf file, found here:

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

and sometimes, it is my nature to complain.

Today, I should have cleaned up the gardens to prep them for sleeping though the winter, but I didn't.

They've broken my heart these last two summers, and even though I know I will return to them and care for them, plant them and weed them, croon at them and hope over them; I'm just not ready yet. Two years ago, I found out that I was top listed in the salad bar section of the Zagats guide for deer and groundhogs. I think we salvaged a single tomato for the humans.

This year, I only had one garden to plant (the second one had been taken out of commission, the idea being that DH was going to dig it up, shore up the sides and put in better fence posts...) and I did figure out a way to discourage the critters who so abused my hospitality. So I laid the soaker hose, planted, weeded, and watered. June and July of this year were among the hottest I can remember. The gardens and I were very glad of the huge rain barrels that DH had built. During those months, I pretty much had a continuous drip of water going into the garden bed to keep the plants from drying up and dying in the heat.

It was an OK spring for the salad greens and peas. And the tomatoes did like the heat, especially since I kept the water flowing. And then we got to August, and it rained. I'm not sure what it was like in other parts of the country, but August 2011 was the rainiest single month in my county since written records were kept. September brought us a hurricane and more weeks of rain. (we have lived in this house since 1986, and this summer was the first time that we had ever gotten water in our basement.) If I had a stop motion camera, I'm sure I could have gotten some remarkable pictures of exploding tomatoes. Of course, the topper to all of this was our 16 inches of heavy snow right before Halloween that toppled our apple tree. So, currently I am somewhat broken in spirit regarding the gardens and the planting.

Perhaps coincidentally (or not) during the same time period, I have been trying to learn some material. I'd really like to be done with it, I feel stuck. Several times now, I think I've done it-I'm ready to present what I know and what I've done, so I could move along. But then something intervenes, and I don't. Sometimes, it's my doing, sometimes it is someone else, and sometimes, well, nature and seasons and events get in the way. And then, it feels as if I am starting all over again. Again.

I am always on guard and trying to make sure that I follow through on things, and do what I've told myself (and others) what I've said that I would do. Perhaps it is my flittery Gemini nature that I am on guard against. Maybe it's the responsible older sibling syndrome. I really don't know. But tonight, I will open up my notebooks and start quizzing myself. And tomorrow, weather permitting, maybe I will clean up the gardens.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Social Whirl

Last night, DH and I attended the Witches Moonlight Masquerade Ball. This is an annual event organized by the Bergen Wiccan and Pagan Group, and others, and is a fundraiser for St. Jude Children's Hospital and Four Legs Good, an animal charity that focuses on feral and homeless animals. But, primarily it is just a fun evening.

DH and I are friends with some of the people responsible for this event, but mostly, we were meeting people for the first time (although there was one mutual moment of "what are you doing here?" with a Rennie musician/actor). As I met people, I was really surprised to be told "Oh, I've heard of you!" Really? I admit, it surprised me. I also admit, I have an ego, and it was massaged very nicely.

Even though we are not members of any of the organizing or sponsoring groups, DH and I were asked to take roles in the Samhain ritual that preceded the dinner and dancing. DH was Door Warden, believe me, he can look very intimidating when he wants to, especially with sword in hand!

I was asked to call and hold the West Quarter, a spot where I am happy to be. We weren't able to attend the run-through of the ritual that had been held earlier, and since I am not Wiccan, I was a little concerned about the lack of "stage directions." The HPS reassured me that I should do what was right to me in that Quarter (as long as I stuck to the spoken part of the script, of course), and so I did. That meant that West was done a bit differently from the other directions, but no one and nothing seemed to be bothered by it. I was given a message by one of the Oracles, which, in the way of such things, could be understood in more than one way, depending on whether one of the words was used as a verb or an adjective.

After the Ritual, we partied. There was food and wine and beer at the tables, and a cash bar not too far away. We had an excellent DJ and a large dance floor. For the most part, we were in costume, and there were even some masks at the masquerade. (I wore one last year, but found that it got in the way of the dancing, eating, drinking, schmoozing...) I even came in second in the costume contest, wearing one of my younger daughters kimono.

Many, many baskets had been donated for the Tricky Tray portion of the evening fundraising, and two paintings had been donated for a Silent Auction, including one by Devyn Barat that I really wouldn't have minded taking home with me, except even the minimum first bid was a bit rich for me. I was glad to see that others weren't so constrained.
All in all, it was a good time for a good pair of causes. I am already looking forward to next year's event.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Mid October catch up

Today marks a full week without rain. This hasn't happened since sometime in July. Tonight should be a night of dancing under the Full Moon, but the center of the circle is a mud pit, and footing is hazardous in daylight, without a shift in reality. I hope the Devas (or Wights, or Spiritus Loci, they do seem amused by my attempts to give name and classification to them), will accept a more snake-like movement, with my feet planted, and allow the circle to whirl about me.

I've been waking to the sound of crows. Well, alright, I've been waking to the sound of the alarm clock, but I quickly become aware of the sound of crows. Mid day, and afternoon, they are gone and their sound is replaced by the calls of hawks. All though, I hear the chirping of chipmunks, they are chattier than all the birds put together, not even silencing in the presence of the hawks. And then, come dusk, the crows return.

Weeding the lavender, one is rewarded for patience and slow care. Weeding the roses, one is punished for impatience and lack of total attention. There is a parable and a lesson, here. And I will finish figuring it out, once I finish removing the thorns from my hands and arms and staunch the blood...

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


Columbia, Matron of our Nations Capitol, and by extension, of our Nation. Goddess of Freedom.

Lady, do Thou look after Thy people, so that we may all worship (or not) as we see fit!

(and I am infinitely pleased that her altar is atop a book case.)

Monday, October 3, 2011


DH and I finally were able to attend Crucible this year. (Crucible is a convention, for lack of another term, put together by Arthur Moyer and the Omnimancers) We enjoyed ourselves and I was able to take away some useful, if sometimes unintended by the presenters, knowledge.

1. Damn, you people really expect me to keep up with my blogging!

2. DH and I really are older, and more societally established than many (most?) people who attend such events.

3. I finally got to meet some people "in real life" that I have been corresponding with for a while, in some case, years. So pleased to finally sit down with Sara, Jason F., Jeff Mach Kenaz Filan and his wife Kathy, and R.O. And, of course, meeting new people is lovely.

4. I am really sorry that I missed meeting Jow and Deb. We were confused as to whether there was a gathering/party after the last session Saturday night, just as we were about the "closing brunch" at the hotel. And being that we didn't attend the sex magic panel discussion, and there is something about staying overnight in a decent hotel...but I am still sorry that we missed you guys.

5. I learned (or relearned), that while I don't know more than I thought I knew, my body of knowledge is larger, compared to others, than I realized. Not that I necessarily know or have experienced more than everyone, or anyone else on any of the given subjects, but until convinced otherwise, my assumption is that everyone knows more about everything than I do. Lovely to find out that it isn't always true.

6. Jason Miller could probably give a presentation that consisted solely of reading a phone book and make it interesting and entertaining. So when his subject matter is interesting, as his lecture on Malefica was, well, I am just sorry for those of you who missed it. But, FYI, Jason, some of us wear all black because it makes the silver in our hair look better. (feel free to insert smiley face.)

7. It was during the Malefica talk that I gained the most useful insight of the day. Some of you have complained that I rarely explain how I do magic, sticking only to the broadest outlines and the arts and crafts explanations. I've never felt comfortable going into detail on the blog, now I know exactly why I don't.

8. I did feel for R.O. during his talk on “Applied Hermetics: Conjuring a Better Tomorrow." So many of us were with him and watched him work his way through this project over the last few years, that his comment of it feeling like he was presenting to his aunts and uncles made perfect sense to me. He needs a new audience so he can shine properly. It will be well worth your time.

9. The fact that I admit publicly that I am a food snob will surprise people. Given the opportunity, I am also a wine snob, although that did not come up this past weekend. True, the way I phrased it in Jason's hearing sounded horrendous but I can admit, it comes from privilege. Too few calories are NOT a problem in my life (see note #2), so why should I eat anything that is less than excellent? I'd rather not eat food I don't enjoy, just because it is served to me unasked for. Really, starving children anywhere are not better off for my cleaning my plate.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Context, Context

Teach to the test. Memorize, memorize, memorize your dates, lists and correspondences. Diagram your grammar and cosmologies. Are we talking high school or magic?

Here is a question: 2+2=4
True, or false?

The answer? It depends.
Take the question out of the realm of the purely arithmetical and see what happens.

2 (cats) + 2 (pieces of fish) = 2 (cats). Or maybe even 1 (cat), if one is bigger and faster than the other. * In that context, 2+2= 2 and/or 1

Another question: 10-1=???
Give the question some context.
10 (mice) - 1(mouse, because it was eaten by a cat**) = 0 (mice-the others will run away when the first one is caught by the cat.)

There is a very large difference between education and training and our society has largely lost sight of the difference. Both are important, but which one is more important is dependent on what you intend to be. Keep your lists and charts handy, but remember that they are representative of something, and it is your job to figure out what that is. Sometimes, you might even find that you will then need to rearrange your chart or list. That doesn't mean that you are wrong. It does mean that you are looking at that chart or list from a different context from the one who handed it to you. (We do not live in a world of archetypes)

Don't solely take the word of experts.
Do your own work.
Have fun.

*Thank you to the Sunday New York Times for this example
**The educator quoted by the NY Times had a thing for examples with cats involved.

Friday, August 5, 2011


Do the problems with buying and building bookcases come under the heading of Mercury retrograde, or just Saturn in general?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Importance of Proper Titles

It seems to me that much of the advice given until the heading of "Life Hacking" was formerly available to readers of Redbook, or Woman's Day, or to the students of home economics classes, back in the days of strict gender separation. It may be that much of the remaining information was available in men's magazines of the 1940's and 1950's, or shop class. I don't really know. But here is a little "life hack" or household helpful hint, now available to all generations and genders.
One of the lovely things about summer is the easy availability of local, in season fruit. One of the less lovely results is that often, the fruit attracts fruit flies into your kitchen. Rather than buying traps that will need replacing, here is an easy (and nice smelling) fruit fly trap.
1 small shallow bowl
a small amount of a fruit based vinegar. (cider vinegar works well, I use raspberry vinegar)
a drop of dishwashing liquid to break the surface tension of the

Pour the vinegar into the bowl, you don't need very
much. Add the drop of dishwashing liquid. Leave near the fresh
fruit, or where you are finding the fruit flies.
*I'll bet with this blogpost title, you thought I was going to be writing about covens or magical orders or such. The point was that something titled "life hack" was far more likely to be read by an audience of the male gender than something titled "household helpful hints." And much more likely to be publicly crowed over as something new and remarkable.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Proof positive

So, how often have you done a spell or a working or a ritual and wondered if it had done anything more that make you feel really cool? Concrete (as it were) proof in the real world, that's what you want, right?

Some years ago, there were some problems with a person we had come across on yahoo discussion board. Coincidentally (or not) around that time we had a few problems in and around our home and family life. While DH's response was targeted and outward, mine was protective. I placed wards and walls, warnings and alarms around our property. All has been quiet since.

I keep up with the protections. I propitiate the local spirits. It is basic maintenance, and I've hoped that it has been effective. Last night, I got confirmation that it is.

We have a public path that runs along one edge of our property. It is very close to our neighbors house, but they have no windows on that side of the house. Directly across the street from the end of the path is a wooded lot. Our side of the path is edged with hedges and trees. The path appears to be a completely secluded place, especially at night.

For several nights, I've had nagging sensations and dreams to check on the perimeter protections. Each time I did, they seemed fine, but I would add a little oomph, just because. And then, I would wonder if it was doing any good-otherwise, why would I be concerned? I mentioned none of this to DH, it's my part of the housekeeping. Last night, when DH came home from work (he does not work a 9-5 job, so it was very dark when he got home) he parked his car, but rather than come in the house, something told him to take a walk around the yard.

Right away. In the dark, with no flashlight.

He heard footsteps on the path, but no one came out onto the street, so he went to investigate (we actually own the land the path is on, but it is a community right of way). Just as he came upon 2 teenaged boys, they, completely intent on what they were doing, lit some of the bracken on the ground on fire with a lighter. At the very moment the bracken and pine needles lit up, DH roared "What the fuck are you doing???" And those two boys, who had no idea he had come up behind them, levitated. And with great energy and inarticulateness started stamping out the surprisingly robust flames. As was described to me, it was far larger than should be explained by a lighter touching the bracken (it has drizzled earlier in the day). With the flames stamped out, the boys took off, and DH came in the house. We called the police, to give them a heads up. Then, with flashlight and a large bucket of water, DH and I went out to make sure that the fire really was completely out.

It was. The burn line followed the property line, exactly outside the borders I set for the protections. We used the light to make sure that no fires had been started anywhere else on the path. No other fires. But, in their haste to run from DH (who, admittedly can be scary sometimes), they left behind a large bottle lighter fluid. No wonder the bracken lit so well. And we wonder, what else and how much else would have been doused in lighter fluid if something hadn't told DH to take that walk without so much as stowing his work bag?

So. It all works. We are glad. But, as the policeman who came to take a look said, "Summer and teenagers, gotta love it."

Saturday, July 9, 2011

I Am One

The ancient Hebrews had a seven day week, with the seventh day, as the day of rest, the Shabbat; just as the modern, current calendar is formatted. (although, if we are lucky, we may get two days of rest.) Less well known was the cycle of seven years, with the seventh year the "Shabbat" year. And, after seven of those cycles (49 years) came the Jubilee Year, essentially a cosmic "reset" button. Then, everything was to start all over again, fresh.

I have reached my 50th birthday. I have gone through those 7 cycles of 7 years. I have gone through the "reset" year. I get to start over, fresh, now. Except, of course, that I have maintained my memory of experiences of the previous years. (well, mostly. There are a few years toward the end of the 1970's that are a bit hazy, and 1961 and 1962 are a bit hard to retrieve...)

If you go into an party supply store in this county and look for party ephemera for a 50th birthday, you will see that they feature tombstones or sayings such as "Over the hill." I am going to stick with "Happy Birthday, Baby."

It would all be a very neat package if I were starting a new career, or my children were suddenly completely out of the house, independent and successful and that BIG CHANGES were happening. But that isn't how we grow up. Not the first time, not the second time. Sometimes there are growth spurts, with lots of stuff visibly happening (and the occasional growing pain) and sometimes the growing isn't noticeable.

So, I am One. Happy Birth Day, me.

(and this time, I intend to enjoy my terrible twos and a non-angsty adolescence.)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


This week, I started rereading "Elements of Ritual" by Deborah Lipp. I first read it when the book was originally published, took from it what was useful to me at the time and hadn't looked at it since. I thought it was time for me to review the information, after all, if I have nothing to say publicly, I might as well read about the "hows and whys" of public ritual-it might spark an idea or two.

Today, I was asked to write and lead a public ritual.

Funny how things happen.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

I Seem to Have Lost My Voice

and I don't like it.
This is bothering me on several levels.
1.What if I have simply run out of things to say? Having just had
that 1/2 century birthday, this is not a minor concern.

2. Except in rare circumstances, middle-aged and elderly women tend to be ignored-regardless of the reason for my silence, I hate playing into the stereotype.

3. I hate the very idea of even the possibility of being

4. I've always taken pleasure and pride in having readers of this
blog-and of the relationships developed from it. But without anything to say, what is the point of the blog?
I've no idea whether this is a spiritual phase, a psychological phase, a magical one, or "merely" age. But it is bothering the crap out of me.
Full Moon Note: If you sit quietly in the dark and really listen, you can hear the fireflies opening and shutting their wings as they light, and fly. It is nearly possible to hear the patterns of light.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Unintentional Experiment

4 weeks without writing a blog post = no loss in readership.
6 weeks without a new blog post = loss of subscribers.

Ah, well, things have been percolating (a deliberate choice of a word), and there will be updates. In the meantime, here is a picture of the circle, taken by DH during the holiday weekend. He had to stand on a ladder at roof height to get the correct vantage point. And the trees aren't even 5 years in the ground! (DH would also like me to point out that those hammock stands are way longer than a human body; that having them in the photograph is a bit misleading.)

Thursday, April 21, 2011


Time is a funny thing; it isn't at all consistent. As I get older (and reading Gordon sometimes makes me feel very old), it seems to run both faster and slower, the way it does when you are running a high fever. Winters are getting longer, even as the entire year passes far more quickly. There is a logical explanation. With every year lived added to my lifespan thus far, each individual year becomes a smaller and smaller proportion of the whole. As for the added length of winter, the physical discomfort of the season has become more pronounced on my body. I get cold far more easily than I once did, and it takes longer (and more effort) to get warm again. I ache more easily. I yearn physically for spring and sun and warmth.
This, I suspect, is where the seasonal holidays got their start. Not from the agricultural year; the time grid of farming was a more modern reason for what humans were already doing. Just as the holidays of many current religions happen to coincide with the days when humans were already celebrating or observing.
I love my gardens. I nurture them, and they nurture me (although sometimes the deer and the groundhogs end up with far more of the actual nutrition then I do.) I celebrate the coming of Spring and the return of warmth, not because I can't wait to break my back grubbing weeds (I HATE the feel of dirt under my fingernails, and let us not talk about what the work can do to a manicure), but because it is the return of life and fresh growth, green, and warmth.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Two Quotes

With the political and economic (oh hell, let's just call it what it is, shall we?) war between the classes, AND the more natural disasters in Japan and elsewhere, two quotes have been playing tag in my head.

Pray for the dead, and fight like hell for the living.
--"Mother" Mary Jones

If I can't dance, I don't want to be part of your revolution.
--Emma Goldman

Do something. Do it here and now and visible to the world. Do it also, and as well, in the magical and spiritual. And don't forget to add joy.

(Twice now, I've composed grand, and somewhat pretentious, all encompassing and advice laden endings for this post. And twice, those endings have vanished. I can take a hint.)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Incense, part 2

The incense "dough" is made of a mixture of makko powder, which gives the incense it's bulk and base, and water, in one to one proportions. In the case of saffron incense, the makko and water are measured in teaspoons, while the incense is measured by the 1/8 teaspoon. (saffron is very fragrant.)

Makko powder has no scent of it's own (although there is always a burning odor) and as it is essentially a powdered wood, burns very easily. When the dough is formed into sticks and is thoroughly dry, the sticks are very fragile, and shatter easily. The addition of a very small amount of guar gum does several things. It adds enough flexibility to the incense sticks that they don't shatter as you try to place them in holders for burning. It slows the burning enough that the incense smolders and releases scent, rather than burning and giving off the smell of burning wood. And finally, the scent of the guar gum lets you know when the incense sticks are dry enough for use. When the sticks no longer smell like the sticky flap on a mailing envelope, you know they are dry! I use 3/4 teaspoon of guar gum for every 12 teaspoons of makko powder. (Now you know why a calculator was included in the tools for the project.)

When the dough is mixed, and then kneaded to make sure that everything is completely blended, I break off a piece, roll it into the size and shape to fit into the dough gun, and squeeze out lines of incense just slightly longer than the intended, finished size. I have no idea what the actual purpose of this dough gun is. I found it in a craft shop. There are few pictures of this part of the project as I did not want to pick up my camera when my hands were sticky and covered in dough.

As you can see from the picture above, the sticks look more like strings. Once you have used up the dough, you can straighten the sticks. This is best done by rolling them back and forth with open palms. In fact, over the next few days, as they dry, this should be done several times. One of the issues of this project is that they will dry unevenly-the edges will dry before the centers, causing the sticks to bend. Rolling them counteracts this. Letting them dry while tightly lined up, and moving the "outside" sticks to the middle (and vice versa) will also help balance out the moisture content and slow the drying time, so as to help keep them straight. You do not want them to dry too quickly, since that will encourage bending. On the other hand, you don't want them to dry too slowly because they will get moldy that way.

I use a marble board for this part of the project, similar to a pastry board. Here you can see the sticks drying. And the incense cone that I made with the small amount of dough that was left over and not enough to refill the dough gun.
Sourcing: I highly recommend RoseMountain Herbs for the makko powder. The best place I've found for the very small amount of guar gum that I use is The saffron, and the lavender (which will be my next project) come from my garden.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Incense project, part one

Tools, and some of the ingredients.
Makko powder and guar gum.
The red powder is saffron.
And, water, to make dough.
"raw" incense, ready for forming.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Still Liminal After All These Years.

This was/is to be the year that I stepped through the threshold, going from one state of being to the next. My baby went off to college nearly 5 hours from home, and the older daughter, having started work on her Ph.D. has set up household a mere 2 hours away. A major piece of magical work, a work of nearly 6 years duration, is successully and well finished. And, in a matter of months, I will have my 50th birthday.

I have great plans for this year, and the years to come, and I've been more than ready to get started on them. At the beginning of the year I set my first goal; to attend Sacred Spaces, in Maryland. I've wanted to attend for several years now, but being mother to a resident child (especially a child who, despite being a native New Jersian, does not drive), and the expenses of having that teenager home, kept me from attending.

In one form or another, I "know" most of the presenters at Sacred Spaces 2011 (that's one of the advantages of being around for a while), and what a group to hang out with! Judika Illes, Jason Miller, Diana Paxson, Ketzirah Carly, just to list the people that I know, or I've chattted with. I investigated hotel costs and transportation and started putting the funds aside. I started thinking about how I was going to break the news to DH, that I was going off to have fun without him.

And then...the supply list arrived for a film photography class that my younger daughter is taking. A list of items that are not available at the school bookstore where she has a generous scholarship. A list of items, that, when purchased, swallowed up the hotel and train funds.

So. Still Mommy, first. I will get to Sacred Spaces (and similar events) in the future. This week, I will stay home.

Still Liminal.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Long afterward, Oedipus, old and blinded, walked the roads.
He smelled a familiar smell. It was the Sphinx.
Oedipus said, "I want to ask one question. Why
didn't I recognize my mother?"
"You gave the wrong answer" said the Sphinx.
"But that was what made everything possible" said Oedipus.
"No" she said. "When I asked, What walks on four legs in
the morning, two at noon, and three, in the evening, you answered, Man.
You didn't say anything about Woman."
"When you say Man," said Oedipus, "You include women, too.
Everyone knows that."
She said, "That's what you think."

(A portion of "Myth" by Muriel Rukeyser)

Assuming that one's own cultural biases are universal is dangerous. That holds for whether you are dealing with humans, systems created by humans, or non-human entities. And just because something has become enshrined in teachings and literature, does not make that something so.

For the past several years, I posted a poem on this blog for Valentines Day (usually John Donne). This year, I did not, although the reason had to do with my being between desktop computer systems. (Nettie the netbook is great for reading email or facebook, but for writing, research or juggling several open windows, I really prefer a full sized system.)
So, instead, a post-Valentines day, and Happy Birthday to Susan B. Anthony, poetry post.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

What He Said!

I don't usually post links to other blogs, but Philip Pullman is worth reading. His point is that the worth of public libraries cannot be measured by the "free" market system. And he says it far better than this daughter of a librarian could.

Besides, who else would be able to mention both "Finn Family Moomin Troll" and "Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition" in the same blog post?

Go here:

Friday, January 21, 2011

This made me laugh

I have never been a high maintenance woman, no matter how hard I've tried (and I've tried!). Since I live in the world of suburban malls and chain stores, I hate to shop, preferring to do as much purchasing as I need to online. As a result, I get a huge amount of commercial/retail email. Rarely are these emails a source of amusement. But, today, I got one that read:

Repair damaged skin with DRAGON'S BLOOD
complex, a patented extract taken from Amazonian trees.

And, in case you were wondering, that is the font size and set-up of the email.
Now I am off to check out my pantry and supply shelves to see what other cutting edge beauty treatments might be lurking about.

Monday, January 10, 2011

No back button, no Tardis

Not long after 9/11, the New Yorker magazine had a cartoon; a couple sat in a travel agents office and when asked where they wanted to go, answered, "September 10th." I had a similar reaction on Saturday, when I heard of the shooting of Congresswoman Giffords, Judge John Roll and 12 others (6 fatally) at a Safeway Supermarket, where the Congresswoman was holding a public meeting. Couldn't we start the day over again? But, of course, we couldn't. Just as we can't go back to September 10th and redo our airport security for that week. Just as I would have liked to go back to the day before the Oklahoma City Federal Building bombing and redo those events.

There is no way of redoing events. No going back and erasing and "improving" history. And, I am afraid, no Golden Age, no Garden of Eden, when and where life was wonderful for everyone. Never happened.

Pick an era and there were winners and losers, the big difference being that, in the United States, the pool of "winners" as a percentage of the population, had been growing since the middle of the 20th century. The growth was not easy, nor was admittance to the "winning" side given, nor guaranteed to anyone. But the promise of full acceptance into society was not limited to Horatio Alger myth, nor legacy. You did not have to be of the right color, or the correct last name or bank account. Right now, that pool of possible winners is shrinking. People are angry and scared, and because a few years ago everything seemed brighter than today, there is a much angry talk (and looking for blame), about bringing back "the good old days."

You can't. I can't. Even if we could agree on when those days were.

There is no back button, no time machine, no Tardis, we can only go forwards.

Where are we going?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

And, an actual New Years resolution

I am giving up using Google Reader. It has allowed me to become rather promiscuous in subscribing to blogs. I find that when I read from the Reader page, I go from new blog post to new blog post, without ever visiting the actual blog sites. It has become the only way to keep up with all the places that I had become subscribed to. As a result, I was reading quickly to get to the next blog and I wasn't leaving comments, even at places where I had something to say. Since it is community and human relationships that are important to me, and Reader was getting in the way of my participating in conversations and community, Reader has to go. And so, it has.

Bright and Shiny

It's the new year, and just past the eclipses. Did you make your serious, life changing new years resolutions? No? Good for you! After all, why start your new year by setting yourself up for failure?

I am a personal (fitness) trainer. I spent years working in, and then running a gym. Every year, we would get floods of new members in January. You always knew who would stick it out, and it was never the person who would say with a sigh, or a rueful smile that "this year, really! this year I am going to get into shape!" By Valentines Day, they would be gone and life would get back to normal for the people who wanted to work out. That is the difference. The people who stuck it out were the ones who wanted to be there. Whether it was because they found the actual workouts pleasurable, or whether they had specific, reachable goals or a death threat*, those who found the specifics of working out useful, hung around.

Many of the bloggers that I read have made resolutions/vows/promises to blog more often, and post regularly, on a specified day. To them, I say "good luck!" But as for me, been there, done that, and I don't like setting myself up for failure.

The best resolutions are the ones that you can keep, and that resonate in your life. Gordon has a post here:
on well, happiness. And finding the small sustainable ways to happiness are your best bets for those resolutions that resonate. From small acorns mighty oaks grow, people! Or the single grain of sand starts the landslide, or...fill in your own aphorism.

As an example, some years ago, overwhelmed by the needs of motherhood, and working and filling what I saw as the requirements of being a good spouse, much of my life was that of utility, necessity, corner-cutting, and a lack of "ease." Frankly, I wanted a life with grace. My resolution that year? From that point on, I would use only slices of actual, real lemon in my tea, rather than bottled lemon juice. It was where I drew the line on short cuts and "good enough" in my life. And, you know what? Since that time, I have never gone without lemon for my tea. A single point of grace, and the constant confirmation that 1. I can keep a resolution and 2. small happiness's every day brighten my life far better than the rare big deals. (DH, if you are reading this, it does NOT mean that my upcoming significant birthday shouldn't be treated as a rare big deal!) Another year, I gave up cheap ball point pens. I only write with fountain pens or with a specific brand of gel pen. Why? Because the smooth flow of ink gives me pleasure. And, yes, every time I write something, I am aware of it. This year? I am going back to doing the New York Times crossword puzzles. I am not putting any conditions of success in finishing the (especially the end of week) puzzles, although I wouldn't mind getting the Monday puzzles done in under an hour...

Here's the deal. These little joys do not really cost anything except a little bit of thought right at the beginning. But they become self perpetuating very quickly because they cost so little in terms of time or money. I become a happier person. All other things being equal, a happier person has a far better life than a less happy person. Isn't there something that will do this for you?

*Death threat-usually surviving a heart attack or stroke, merely being threatened with either is insufficient.