Wednesday, October 31, 2007

holy-day, holi-day

and so we come to the end. another year, another harvest, another season of germinating, flowering, fruiting and fading is come round to the opposite side of the Wheel. today i count the gains, measure the costs, and honor the absence of all that i've lost. today, i look back. today, as the veil thins even more, i mourn the absence my beloved dead and invite them to pay me a visit. today, i pray for both release and discernment. today i stand mid-way between the worlds.

this morning i will prepare my offering plates, tidy my house so the ancestors aren't horrified, and visit the Crone in the guise of my grandmother. my friend laura said to me, after meeting my grandmother... i know you won't be offended, but your grandmother looks just like a witch!

and she does.

this morning as i was making my coffee - Beloved is sick, poor Beloved - mama pele came into my mind. she is the one i called on to help jumpstart katie's labor when it stalled out a bit - (when the contractions finally started heating up, katie started moaning, im so hot... why am i hot... i don't understand why im so hot....i just smiled and thanked mama pele.)

pele tests people who would seek her favor by appearing as an ancient crone. so in the name of mama pele and the Great Hag, i begin my halloween with an offering of bananas, spice cake and socks.

and furthermore, the war must end. blessed be.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

happy birthday, katie liz

twenty-seven years ago this morning, my first baby pushed her way into the world. she was tiny - 5 lbs, 10 ozs, 19.5 inches long. she had a head of silky dark hair - just like baby jake - and when the midwife put her on my belly, wet and slimy, the cord still pulsing blue, i remember how she curled and mewed like a kitten. her apgar score at one minute was 7, at two minutes, 9.5. it was a glowing, golden october morning. i remember thinking how amazing it was that one minute there were three people in the room, and the next there were four.

now my baby stands beside me on the same side of the Great Divide. already she knows that milky mazey besottedness, that fierce and adoring love of Creator for the Created. i remember gazing at her as she nestled against my breast, scrawny as a plucked chicken, all sharp limbs and great big eyes. i see the look on her own face, as she cradles baby jake.

when he was three days old, she said to me, he's so cute i dont' want to put him down... i just want to keep holding him... is that bad? ... of course it isn't bad, i said, until you decide you need to do something else and he doesn't understand what it is or why.

that's what i said to her.

but another part of me, the silent part said... it doesn't matter whether you hold him or not, honey... there's a part of you that's never going to let go.

happy birthday, katie liz... from the mommy who loves you the way you love baby jake.

and furthermore, the war must end. blessed be.

Monday, October 29, 2007

samhain season

the first thing i noticed when i stepped outside this morning was how cold and crisp the air, and the stars scattered like fairy dust across a sky as black as pitch. the grass crunched under the puppies' feet and sparkled back at the stars. the mum fields next door were white under a blanket of frost, and the moon hung high, looking hard and cold as a white chip of bone. i shivered and wished i'd zipped my jacket. it was samhain weather, season of witch, and hag and crow.

and right on time. for the ancient celts, time was divided into 14 week blocks of 5 day weeks. the extra days in the year were set aside for holy day observances, festivals and rituals. each holy day was celebrated over three to five days. thus the period of samhain encompassed the days both before and after our calendar date. the ancient celts, like other ancient peoples, believed the day began at dusk. it is a concept quite contrary to our modern left-brain way of thinking.

we think the day begins at dawn, with the light, when the sun comes up, but our fore-mothers understood a truth we live with every day and have forgotten how to comprehend.

we begin in darkness. from the darkness of the womb, to the darkness of the earth, to the darkness of the sea... all life comes out of the dark... out of the dust...and the dirt and the water, thus ultimately, out of death.

samhain is the time we acknowledge, recognize and celebrate the Necessity of Death in the dance of Life.

today i begin my season of samhain, and prepare to sink into the silence from which all things spring. this year my celebration has five parts - acknowledging my ancestors, physical clearing, opening the veil, releasing the old and sowing the new. what i wish to release this year is particularly meaningful to me.

what i wish to release this year i'm not sure i can.

and furthermore, the war must end. blessed be.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

such a nice sunday

it was a busy day... busy in the way sunny autumn weekends sometimes are. i finished the dresser and hauled the drawers inside. i put the furniture refinishing stuff away - i doubt i'll have a chance to do another piece this year. the weather has been so uncooperative.

i got my paperwork done...started the Seasonal Sorting of the Wardrobe. (this always puzzles Beloved. he should've seen the grand Overturning the house was given when i was a kid. my mother practically ripped down the wallpaper every six months.) i made apple crisp... two of them, actually, and brought one to my gramma.

i took the girls shopping for sweatshirts, socks and underwear and bought myself a new teakettle, as well as a couple items for katie's birthday on tuesday. i ordered the week's groceries on peapod... the laundry is all caught up, thanks to meg. the entry is cleaned, thanks to libby. dinner was apple-roasted ham, maple-baked squash, butter biscuits and string beans, with apple crisp for dessert.

Beloved built three quarters of his jetty.

it's time to curl up on the couch with a pot of oat straw tea.

and furthermore, the war must end. blessed be.

october winds

"the october winds lament around the castle of dromore,
yet peace is in her lofty halls, my loving treasure store,
though autumn leaves may droop and die, a bud of spring are you,
sing hush a bye loo la lool, low la, sing hush a bye loo la loo..."

i woke up late...relatively speaking. the sky was still dark but the clock said 6:00. the first thing i heard was the sound of the wind in the pines, and the words of the irish lullabye, october winds, ran through my head. winter is coming, i thought.. soon, soon...

my task today will be to stay focused on all the odds and ends of things i need and other people want me to do. libby wants to go shopping, my gramma wants a visit. dust-bunnies lurk in the corners of the closet in the bedroom where i need to get serious about switching the clothes around, apples for apple crisp are begging on the washboard. i'd like to give all the gardens one more weeding and i might as well take advantage fo the weather and plant some bulbs. im hoping brad will come over and get the furniture for baby jake.

i used to sing that lullabye to all my babies. someday soon.. i'll sing it to him...

"take time to thrive, my ray of hope, in the gardens of dromore,
take heed, young eaglet, til thy wings are feathered fit to soar,
a little rest, for then this world is full of work to do,
sing hushabye loo la loo low la... sing hushabye loo la loo."

and furthermore, the war must end.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

the rain is raining all around... falls on field and tree... it falls on the umberellas here... and on the ships at sea.

so wrote robert louis stevenson. his poetry infused my childhood, no doubt still subliminially colors the way i shape and form my own writing.

i lay awake in the deep gray dawn, listening to the delicious sound of the rain running off the roof, dripping through the trees, scented with pine and the sweet mustiness of wet leaves. already when i woke, the ponds were filling up. gomez - i mean Beloved - may have to forgo his jetty til next spring.

today on aol i read about all the parts of our country where water is becoming scarce. since baby jake was born two weeks ago, i feel i have a deeper stake in the far future than i ever used to have. this child's children could live to see a time and place that i will never see... the 22nd century. i want them to have water there.

the native americans had it right, i have come to realize. we can not own the land, the water, the air. you might as well try and leash the sun. (the sad thing is, i can see someone doing that in the not too distant future - leasing proprietary rights to a certain slice of sunshine during such and so hours of the day. maybe i better erase that last thought. no sense in giving the lawyers any more ideas. :x.)

i'd rather have a sunny day. i have some running around to do today... id rather do my errands when the roads are dry. but instead, i will be grateful for the water. i will give thanks for the rain. and i will ask the Mother in Her Infinite Love to please please please send more where it's needed most.

and furthermore, the war must end.

Friday, October 26, 2007

while my Beloved sleeps

the skies aren't clear any more... the day that started off so bright and crisp and clear has turned cold and wet and gray. it was an upside down sort of day...all my plans to do one kind of thing turned into necessities to do another kind of thing altogether.

and yet... it was a day i did a lot of writing... a lot of snuggling... a lot of readings. i did get the final coat on all but two of the dresser drawers - oh, yeah, i'm still slogging out the weather. damp and humid don't mix well with furniture finishes. i also sorted a mountain of paperwork into a molehill of tasks.

i walked the puppies as the sky was getting dark. there was a raw, dampness in the air that i always think is best described by the scots word "braw." the pine needles drifted around our feet. i was glad i thought to wear a coat.

it's finally october. and furthermore, the war must end.

clear skies

this morning, when i walked the puppies, the stars were back. orion was stretched across the sky above the trees, the full moon shone through the not-yet-bare branches. if the trees had been in full leaf, i wouldn't have seen her. on our second time out, the palest blue of dawn was streaking the eastern sky, orion still visible but fading, the moon gleamed like a klieg light behind the trees.

it is my routine, every morning, to walk the dogs while Beloved makes their breakfasts and my coffee. he thinks it's a terrible chore i have... outside at the earliest of hours, rain or shine, cold or hot.

he doesn't know how much i savor that first full blast of day. the world is sometimes silent, sometimes noisy, the sky is sometimes cloudy, sometimes clear. it is the moment when i pause and step into the world. i bless my puppies, actually, who drag me out of bed each morning. Beloved thinks i'm crazy.

i think i'm really, really lucky.

and furthermore, the war must end. blessed be.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

back & forth & side & side

today is a day i'm going to spend mostly out of the house... tomorrow, i anticipate a long day spent mostly IN the house. yesterday i went to see my grandmother. today i go to see my grandson. yesterday i marshalled my cleaning team (meg and libby) delegated laundry and floors, and accomplished (nearly) everything on my chore list. today i marshall my team to accomplish as much as humanly possibly on katie's chore list.

this is the dance i do across the generations, weaving this web of mostly women. i see it like a blanket of marvelous colors stretching across time and through space, each individual a gleaming, glowing strand, unique in shade and texture, integral to the whole. i feel it flowing through my hands like a rainbow river of crystal light, hear it singing in my blood.

and furthermore, the war must end.

blessed be.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

where have all the flowers gone?

this morning when i opened my email, there was a note from a friend of my daughter's, a girl she's known since college. naomi was one of katie's bridesmaids, katie was one of hers. naomi is the reason katie had a shower... if naomi hadn't prompted me to begin planning it two months in advance... i'd have never have pulled it off.

one of naomi's cousins, a young man just my son's age, was killed on sunday by a drunk driver. the boy wasn't drunk... the older person driving the other car was.

naomi included a picture of her cousin dancing at her wedding. i stared at his beautiful face, and all i saw were the faces of my sons. i thought how devastated i would be if anything happened to them. and then i thought how beautiful young men like this are dying every day in iraq. and we have no plans to bring them home.

in ancient rome, i think it was the senator cato who ended every speech - no matter the topic - with the sentence.... "and furthermore, carthage must be destroyed."

from now on, im ending my blog in a similiar way. it is horrible enough that accidents happen, that young lives end in a blink and a bang. it's unconscionable that we should send our sons and our daughters willfully to die. at least the ancient spartans waited til a man had a son before sending him off on a suicide mission. we dont even wait til a kid is legally allowed to drink.

i grieve today for naomi and her family. but i also grieve for all the bright young men and women whose lives have been cut short in the name of an unjust war. my deepest condolences to naomi.

and furthermore... the war must end.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

living with the addams' part two

the rocks were just delivered. gomez... i mean Beloved... was beside himself with glee. he had me out and moving cars around before the sun came up. a very large mack truck brought the rocks. it was quite a procedure apparently, to get the truck down the driveway but i wasn't around to see the actual delivery because i had to drive libby to school.

when i got home, there was gomez ... i mean Beloved... outfitted as predicted standing beside his rockpile, practically dancing for joy. i snapped and hummed a few bars, moved the yellow bug, and went inside.

so how'd it go? i asked. how come the rocks aren't closer to the pond?

well, said Beloved, the driver wasn't happy. he kept cursing. he said mean things. i don't think he liked me. i don't think he was a yankee fan. maybe his life among the rocks has hardened him.

i bet lurch and thing would be puzzled, too.

ordinary time

in the religious tradition in which i was raised, the sundays between the end of lent and the beginning of advent are for the most part delineated as those of "ordinary time."

i remember when i was child, leafing listlessly through the misselette while the priest droned on, how taken i was by the idea that there could be two kinds of time. if there was ordinary time, then by definition, there had to be extrordinary time... and it didn't have anything to do with a calendar. i was sure about that.

today is tuesday. it's far too humid and warm for october, but at least there's the hope of rain. i heard the peepers last night... they sounded cautious, disbelieving. i have a list of errands - go see gramma... appointment with nora for help writing my ritual...pick up my calendar at the purple rose where i left it since saturday. i need more hemp milk and more rainbow foods - apples, especially. the laundry's behind... the cupboard's a bit bare. i have paperwork to sort, checks to write, a couple bills i've forgotten to pay. meg wants help hanging pictures in her room, i'd like to get over to joanne fabrics and target in torrington. at some point i'll blink and children and puppies will want dinner.

it is an ordinary day in ordinary time.

blessed be.

Monday, October 22, 2007

life among the addams'

gomez... i mean Beloved... has decided to build a jetty. the reason he decided to build a jetty that extends into the lower pond is because it dried up this year. in to one side, near the center, are a couple of very large rocks, so large a little pine and a couple of straggly birches are struggling for purchase on them.

when i asked gomez... i mean Beloved... exactly he why he felt we needed a jetty, let alone why he felt the need to build one, he said it was because he'd seen mister duck sitting out there on the rocks every spring and if mister duck could sit on the rock, so could he.

so all this effort so you can conquer a duck's territory? (i'm starting to understand the mentality that thinks the iraq war is a good idea.)

well, yes...err... no, said Beloved. it's my rock... i want to stand on it.

to that end Beloved left his office early and ordered 21 cubic feet of rocks. they're all going to be delivered tomorrow. the thought of Beloved, in jeans, yankee hat and flannel shirt, watching the dump truck back up to edge of the pond, just sends me into fits of giggles, not to mention giving me the urge to snap my fingers while whistling and tapping my feet in time to the addams' family theme song. i suppose i should expect uncle fester, mamma, cousin it and the rest of the extended tribe to be showing up shortly!

three rules of good writing

today i am guest-teaching a writing class for my friend who has to be in court. it's been a while since i had to teach a class of college freshmen/sophmores, so i'm looking forward to it. plus, the college is right around the corner from baby jake! what a great reason to stop in for a cuddle!!!

(note to self- wear something poop-proof.)

it's also a good reason to think about what i think good writing is. there's a lot of awful writing out there, much of it in print. people seem intimidated by their language. it's a shame really, even though i appreciate emoticons as much as anyone. i like shortcuts and pictures really DO say a thousand words. wouldn't it be funny if a thousand years from now, everyone all communicates in grunts, gestures, pictographs and LOL's and they shake their heads over the poor primitives who had to use WORDS and SENTENCES to talk? our descendents will pity us for the books we had to drag around. i can see mine now, shrinkwrapped and shellaqued against the ravages of time, made into my great-great-great-great + 10 grandchildren's headboards.

somerset maugham, the english novelist, said that there's only three rules of good writing. the trouble is that no one can agree on what they are. here's my updated list.

1. don't be afraid to write garbage. what comes out of my head is frequently as smelly as what comes out of my butt. that's why i rewrite as much as i do.

2. pay attention. god really IS in the details. a writer is first an observer. actions speak louder than words. what a person does is a lot more telling than what he says. your five senses are the way to connect with your reader. so pay attention to everything.

3. have a reason or a goal. every journey should have a destination, or at least a reason for it. if you don't know where you're going with a piece, at least have a reason for writing it in the first place. (yes, i need to pass this course is a perfectly acceptable reason, as is, if i don't tell this story, the characters will eat their way out of my head.) all reasons are acceptable. just know yours.

so there... in a nutshell... is what i will take roughly forty minutes to say. any questions? :)

Sunday, October 21, 2007

strength to your sword arm, sister

tomorrow a friend of mine goes to do battle in the halls of blindfolded justice. she goes not so much on behalf of herself, but on behalf of her children.... and we know just how much children are valued by our larger culture... our own president just declared victory against them. this is one reason why a blindfolded person with a sword is an accurate depiction of our legal system. by the time the judge gets finished, i'm pretty sure she'll have decided it'd be quicker and easier and far less painful to blindfold him and let him take a swing at her with a broadsword.

she said to me, today.... it'd be easier if i'd stayed. at least i know my kids would be clothed and fed and cared for.

but it wouldn't be authentic. i've known a lot of people who stay married for "the sake of the kids." i always feel sorry for their kids. because kids know when relationships aren't real. and for people in abusive relationships... if you stay and be abused... you're teaching your kids it's okay to be abusive, and it's okay to be abused. and it's not.

i know because i was. my ex husband is a sick, sad, sorry man who blamed me for everything he thought was wrong in his life. he's still blaming me, in fact. now it amuses me to think how much power he thinks i have. (i do, of course, but i sure don't intend to waste it messing up his life.) i found the courage to leave after i'd sold two novels and he suggested i quit writing. you wouldn't be the first woman, he said, to put her career on hold for her family.

i filed for divorce shortly afterwards. it was a brutal, bitter, bloody battle, waged across three states, eleven years, and utterly unfair... because he IS a lawyer. and i'm not.

the fighting's mostly done, however... libby is finally old enough to decide for herself when to see him. he's remarried to a lady of the cloth who thinks it's her job to save him. (bless you, too, sister, for i don't think the blessed virgin herself could please him. i'm here if you need a place to run.)

i remember how in the beginning, he puffed himself up like a guinea hen and said... gird your loins... you're going to find out what it's like to litigate against me!

i remember i looked at him, this silly, vain, proud little man who'd never have gone to law school at all if i'd not encouraged him (be careful what you wish for is a lesson i had to learn in spades), and i said...

you can win every battle, but you've already lost the war. you lost me.

so just remember that, sister... when you stand before that judge tomorrow, in the halls of blinded justice in the courts of men where the needs of children are weighed like human chattel. they can win every battle, but they've already lost the war.

strength to your sword arm, dear susan. sleep sweet. ;)

date night

yesterday evening, Beloved and i went out for dinner as is our habit once a week. we have three or four restaurants we tend to visit in turn, and last night we went to a place where the tv in the bar is always tuned to cnn.

as i was slathering the butter on my bread, i saw the headline announcing the president's "victory" over his opposing party. the issue is children's health insurance. (somehow we have learned to equate the idea of health CARE with health insurance, but that's another rant.) the "victory" means that children aren't going to have access to health care.

because that's the bottom line, that's what it MEANS in terms of human cost. and we, i've heard people claim, have the best - healthcarelegalsystemeconomy - in the world.

we should be ashamed.

we should be ashamed that money is being spent on war while children go hungry, while old people go without medicine. the pope who protected pedophiles is on the fast-track to sainthood. we have a president who both looks and sounds exactly like a puppet. we should be ashamed of the world we live in. but if we are, not yet enough to change it.

i sat in that place where the food and the wine and the laughter flowed like perfumed oil and something twisted deep inside me. the last pope made me ashamed to have been raised catholic. this president makes me ashamed to call myself american. thank goddess i'm a woman, i thought.

i couldn't eat anything else. i wanted to stand on the bar and scream - does this not offend your soul?

but i too, keep silent.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

atlanta is three months away...

... from running out of water. it CAN happen. even here.

living retrograde

yesterday, the facilitator of the womens' council i attend every month announced she was taking a sabbatical. the other women got sad. i got excited. as my mother says, i hear a different drum.

it's not my conscious wish to live and think and feel outside the mainstream. if i had a nickel for every time someone ever said to me... wow, i never thought of it like that...i'd sure have an awful lot of nickels.

i noticed a long time ago that periods of mercury retrograde can be fantastically productive times for me. while the rest of the world twitters and spins, i forge forward... sure and steady in my purpose. then i learned that not only was i born under mercury retrograde, but of the fifteen heavenly bodies used to cast a horoscope, eight others in my chart are retrograde as well. unfortunately for me, mercury doesn't go retrograde more than four or five times a year. this means that while everyone else is forging forward, *I* am twittering and spinning. however, i also do real well with new moons...under which most people slow down.

it's taken me a long time to feel comfortable in this skin. it's taken me a long time to recognize that in order for me to do the work i do, i need to stand on the edge of things. a writer is first an observer. the best place to view the Big Picture is out here where the footing can be shaky.

today i go to do only slightly different work... it's my turn to read cards at Enchanted Saturday. i'm not sure if i'll get to do any readings... Laura and I have some Big News to share.

Friday, October 19, 2007

happy birthday, baby elena

baby elena is five years old today. she is my sister's daughter, and my only god-daughter. on the day she was baptized, i walked into my sister's bedroom to find my mother holding baby elena who was screaming her little dark-curly head off.

this baby wants to stay a little pagan, my mother said.

well, tell her she's got the right godmother, i replied.

my mother pursed her lips, rolled her eyes, shook her head and sighed to heaven. but she didn't tell me not to whisper a prayer or two of my own as the priest poured water on elena's forehead and sealed her with the chrism of salvation. besides, there was always something in elena's big brown eyes that told me she was indeed one of My Kind.

this year elena told my sister she'd like to go to disney world and see the princesses - just the two of them - no papa, no baby alex, who at two is the bane of elena's world, in much the same way my brother john was of mine at that age.

then she looked at her father, who doesn't have much time for disney. and you, papa, says elena, don't you make any fuss about it.

my mother shared this story with me and as we were laughing i said, maybe i better tell andi and sheila that elena was born on the anniversary of the Big Crash of '87. clearly she's a Force to be Reckoned With.

nah, said my mother. let them find out the way the rest of us do.

how's that, i asked.

by surprise, she cackled softly.

that's mean, i said.

you get better stories that way, she replied.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

dancing through time

yesterday, i fielded calls from my grandmother, who's upset about her house, my mother, who's upset about her health, and katie, who's upset about everything.

today,i visited my grandmother (she was napping); visited katie (yes, baby jake is even CUTER today than he was on monday); spoke to my mother about everything, my son about his contact lens insurance and generally tended to my girls and my puppies. okay, dinner was pizza, but at least everyone ate.

when my children were younger, it was always a challenge to respond to them appropriately on the turn of a dime. what 14 year old katie needed was not what 1 year old libby needed which was never what 10 year old jamie needed, nor 7 year old meg. it was a skill i developed almost without thinking about it, and one i think that daunts those less flexible. it's one reason i guess a lot of people think it's easier to have kids close together, and i guess maybe it is. you don't have to do the jumping back-and-forth across wildly differing demands.

i'm lucky my kids gave me a lot of practice adjusting to different expectations, different needs and i don't think it was just marvelous coincidence that the four of them and me made FIVE and now, instead of dealing with the competing demands of offspring,im dealing with the competing demands of FIVE generations.

five is the number of catalyzing change. when fives start to show up in your life, it's time to tighten your seat belt and hold on for the ride. it's also no coincidence, i think, that for this short while, at least, i am the generation in the middle.

one of the first principles i learned about magic was that liminal times and places - the middle times and places - are considered those best suited generally for all sorts of rituals and magical workings. another is that for the celts, there were five directions, not four. the first four correspond to our north, east, etc. but the fifth is for the place called HERE, which is where all the other places meet.
it is the place where the magic begins.

it is the center of one's being.

so here i dance, in the center of the five directions, back and forth across five generations. the possiblity of what dreams might come, what stories might surface, what insights and challenges i might face, boggles my mind. and so for tonight, i watch the glowing crescent maiden moon rise in all Her glory. and i breathe.

dancing on the head of a pin

yesterday i was called upon to explain how an abundance spell cast on a thursday might have led to one's husband being laid off the following monday. the customer in question had purchased the spell from the shop and i could hear the indignation in her voice. i think she was expecting me to offer to refund her money.

but a spell is a prayer attached to an intention. make that intention strong enough, focus that prayer carefully enough, and your wish goes zinging like an arrow into the heart of the Universe. when you unleash that kind of energy, you have to be prepared for a kind of ripple effect through your life. it can knock you off your feet if you're not prepared.

however, even i was at a loss for the proper words. i've been laid off - three times in five years. i know the hollow, hard feeling of fear that explodes in your belly, in your chest, in the way your palms sweat every time you think of all the bills. i could feel it in her voice. i didn't know what to say.

kuan-yin, i whispered... could You take this one?

and She did. in an image complex as a stained glass rose, i Saw a pattern unfolding, geometrically graceful as the petals of a rose. the image shifted, became three dimensional and i saw a series of Gates laid out sequentially through the petals of the rose. and i Understood.

i don't know if what i said made any sense to the lady. to tell you the truth, i don't remember much of what i said. i called laura right afterwards and said it again to her, because she will be Required to deliver it again. i believe it made sense to her. the gist of it, i think, is that in order to be on the path of True Abundance, this job needed to be lost. there's something else, something better, for this person and his wife, too, to do, and losing the job wasn't really a sign that the spell WASNT working... it was in fact evidence that it WAS.

but only a Fool could believe that kind of thinking, right?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

food for thought

last night, the second meeting of the cosi girls book club convened at my house. our chosen selection, EAT PRAY LOVE, was an interesting look at a woman's journey through divorce and depression to love and happiness across italy, india and indonesia. i think what really disappointed me at the end, now that i've had a chance to really ruminate on all the other women's points of view, is that in the final analysis, it wasn't much more than a real-life romance. it's ultimate message, because that's the note it ended on, was that a woman's ultimate happiness lies in the man she finds to love her.

and that is so not f-ing true.

in that sense, the book reminded me of that ridiculous piece of trash about mid-life women - something's gotta give. i wish ms gilbert had used her insights in india to become a deeper person... not just someone who's ready to forge a lasting relationship with a man. once the guy entered the picture, the whole thing just deteriorated into a romance novel complete with an unwilling maiden and a suave older suiter. sigh.

don't get me wrong. i like men. i adore my daddy, love and admire my stepfather, enjoy my brothers and brother-in-law, am awed by my sons, am blessed by Beloved. but they're not the focus of my universe nor the compass at the center of my soul. books- fiction or non- that focus on a woman's need to "find" a man don't speak to me. my life would be emptier and grayer without them, of course, but it's been empty and gray in big patches since i lost lorraine last year.

so i guess the question then becomes... what IS the focus of my universe? what is the compass in the center of my Soul?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

47 years

this morning, long before the sun poked its lazy way through the thickening canopy of clouds, i lit a very special candle, in memory of my great-grandmother. forty-seven years ago today, she opened her eyes to her last day of mortal life, and drew her last breath. she was only in her 70's but her health had not been good for years. her name was benedette, but everyone called her anna. i was named for her, and in the family, she was Big Nanny - i was little nanny.

i wonder, sometimes, how much of her there is in me.

just yesterday, i read how european scientists have identified the seven strands of mitochondrial DNA that link all of us with european ancestry back to seven women. mitochondrial dna is passed from mother to daughter in a virtually unbroken chain. thus, it is through my Big Nanny that i am rooted to this human race. her mother's name was angelina, and she was born in the same small town in italy nanny was, exactly a 100 years before i was. she died in 1932, when my grandmother was in her early 20's. she's buried in a narrow little grave in the "old section" of the same cemetery where nanny and poppy are, and where my grandmother will (i live in constant hope) some day be laid to rest.

this place i find myself is a curious place to be. i feel as if i stand with my feet on either side of a deep chasm. the view is astounding but i'm not even sure i know what i'm looking at.

it can't last. this strange configuration - mother, daughter, grandmother, granddaughter - it's days are finite, numbered. it is an undiscovered land of terminal duration. and i have no idea how long i get to be here.

but it seems fitting to me that i begin this journey first with thanks, and then with a long glance back, into the misty reaches of time, to the woman whose memory i carry in every cell of myself.

Monday, October 15, 2007

saying thank you

somewhere between the rush and the pause, it occured to me that a big THANK-YOU is called for.

so today, when i stop at the store for groceries for katie and brad and baby jake, i will buy a few extra - apples, honey, corn, beer and cream. this evening, when i make the pork roast, i will reserve a small piece or two. and tonight, as the crescent moon rises and the twilight thickens, i will place offering plates on my rock outside, on the bridge over the stream, at the crossroads, and offer a dish of cream to the fairies. i will offer sacred fire to bride and pele, water to hecate, and incense to kali-ma.

i will also write thank you notes to katie's midwife, and to the staff of the maternity unit, and one to katie and brad, for including me in that moment when my grandson slithered, hairy, blue and covered in birthslime, into the world.

because if there's one thing my life has taught's ALWAYS SAY THANK YOU.

always. there is a richness in the art of saying thank you that is in danger of being lost today as we rush from place to place, from obligation to obligation. we have equated thanks with giving, and so thanking becomes just another chore, just another thing we have to do, another draw of energy we have to feed our endless fount of competing demands. but saying thank you isn't about giving. saying thank you is the outward sign of acknowledgement that you have noticed the other person's expenditure of energy on your behalf and validated the effort. it is a simple gesture of connection and of grace.

a few months ago, i was given a powerful lesson in the value of saying thank you. an aspiring writer in search of an agent emailed me out of the blue. he wanted an introduction to my agent and he contacted me because i was a - in connecticut, like he was, and b - wanted my agent. we exchanged a couple emails, but when i wrote back explaining why i thought he didn't need an agent in the first place because he wrote YA (Young Adult for those uninitiated into the Arcane World of Publishing) and suggesting a few other things he might try instead, i never heard back from him - not so much as a single sentence.

it was one of those lessons kali-ma dishes out... sharp, stinging, but quick if you're paying attention and "get it."

and so today, i pause and say... thank You.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

enter grannie annie

people have called me grannie annie since i was in college. it started when i began to bake myself a batch of cookies every thursday afternoon. i had very little money for food in those years and the cookies were the only treat i could afford. i guess the smell of baking cookies permeated the student ghetto apartment building, and soon my friends were showing up regularly on thursdays to eat cookies, drink tea and talk. one day a kid named bri paused before leaving and said, you're going to make a great grandmother some day. and grannie annie was born.

a few years ago i happened to be on a plane when a 15 year old pregnant girl told me... you remind me of my grandmother, because i bought her milk and cookies and gave her my energy bar. i was young enough to feel a sting, but wise enough to recognize that she had paid me the greatest compliment in her lexicon.

as the sun set last night, on the barest cusp of a waxing moon, grannie annie stepped out of the bounds of imagination and into my skin. my second look at my new grandson was on the baby warming table, where he lay, screaming his little lungs out under the approving eye of his father and the baby nurses.

well, hello there, i said. he was very pink, very squirmy and very small. there is enough of katie's timbre in my voice that he stopped screaming and looked directly at me. oh, i said... this baby wants his mommy. as if in agreement, baby jake commenced his wailing.

when they brought him to katie, he was still screaming. hello, baby, she said. and he stopped screaming. look, i said, to katie, he knows you. you think? she asked, as her hand danced around his little face. without a doubt, i said.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

it's a boy

jake michael .... october 13, 2007.... 6:02 PM.... 7 lbs 10 oz... 19.5 inches long...blessed, blessed be!

D-D day in Due Date day. it's ironic that baby jake should be due on the 13th ... all my kids have a three in their birthdays somewhere, and except for libby, all of them were born on days with threes in them: katie on the 30th, jamie on the 3rd, meg on the 23rd. libby was born on 12/14...missing the 13th by one day. she has a three in her birth year... having been born in 93. just another interesting iteration of the 3/1 theme that seems to reverberate through my life...

on other fronts... i think today i get my wish to finally finish the dresser.

wow. as i was typing the phone rang. katie's water has real contractions yet but last night was a restless one for her. i told her that was a good sign...not that she agreed. i told her to start the blue cohosh ....take a nice long shower.... try to walk and stay upright as much as possible... gravity will help hold the baby's head now against her cervix and will start to stimulate the contractions. i mentioned to Beloved she should start sipping chicken broth and he went running to the kitchen to start a vat of chicken soup cooking for the new family's first meal. i'll stop at the farmer's market for some fresh bread, and tell the girls to make some brownies.

unlike her brother who was a full two weeks late, and meg who was 12 days late and libby who showed up 2 days early, katie was born on her due date. i always felt this matched her personality - katie has a sharp eye for detail, an appreciation for timing and orderliness, as well as a deep awareness of the courtesy puncuality implies - punctuality, after all, is the courtesy of kings. how wonderful if baby jake takes after his mommy and shows up right on time!

it occurs to me that 13 is my own birthday - 31 - reversed.

come hecate and pele, bride and kali ma.... open wide the portal, the one from dark to light ...assist and allow this soul to cross from eternal life into mortal life, that he may once more take his place upon the Turning of the Wheel.

all i say three times shall be... as i will, so blessed be...

Friday, October 12, 2007

finally done

10. two loads folded, another in the dryer and a fourth in the washer - done
11. errands run, herbs & lunch fetched - done
12. nap - done
13. chores delegated.... still undone.

plodding along

4. zone 1 tidied - done
5. towels, etc put on stuff outside - done
6. laundry started - done
7. dinner decided - done
8. zone 5 - vaccuumed, dusted, windexed, etc - done
9. massage music and candles picked - done

still to do:

one load of laundry folded; one to dry and one started (delegate to meg)
zone 2 (delegate to libby)
trash out
errands, etc

so far, so good

1. shower & dress - done
2. zone 3 - swish n' swipe - done
3. zone 4 - bed fluffed, laundry sorted - done

rain, rain, go away...

...not forever, of course... just... for today. i have running around to do today...more than i expected. i'm giving katie my massage this morning, then off to do errands... for her, for me, for gramma. i don't like days to turn crazy as i'm afraid this one very well may... so for now... off to do some breathing, some grounding, some centering, and then... make my List!!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

back to the book

after a few days of reflection, some feedback from Beloved and Trusted Friend, i have decided that my story that's set in peru will stay in peru for now. i've also decided that i need to switch the point of view (pov) from first person to third. that's a switch from an I-character who tells the story to a he/she character. this will allow me to switch back and forth from chapter to chapter between two female characters without driving the reader crazy. it also relieves me of some of the burden of differentiating the characters' voices enough so the reader realizes very very quickly they're in the Other One's Head.

these last few days i haven't been writing much. but i've carried the story around in my head, feeling it slosh around like a big stew in a very large cauldron. every so often a big chunk swirls to the surface, splashes into view. i dance around with it, if only for a second or two, or maybe even just observe it, then let it go. i used to be afraid that i'd lose stuff that way.... that if i didn't capture every fleeting word or phrase, they'd be gone, forever, into that Limbo labelled Lost Thoughts...right down the hall from the one for Lost Socks. i know a lot of writers feel that way. and so writing becomes a desperate act, like a hunter, stalking a flying flock.

but now i know better. if it's in there, it's in there... ripening and seasoning. it comes in its time, and that time is not necessarily mine. there are things i can control like whose point of view and what tense to tell the story in. there are things, like the story itself, i have no control of at all.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

new moon

... presages a waning moon for samhain... a crone's moon...all the better. i have grand plans for the holy day. but i have miles to go before i can sink into of my most favorite. i have a threshold or two to cross all my own.

we're all impatient for baby jake... no one more so than katie, of course... who has reached what i like to call the beached-whale phase. this is the part of the pregnancy the baby doesn't actually need but the mommy does, so she is willing to do ANYTHING to get it out of her. i think it's also the Mother's way of preparing you for the Great Work of motherhood...just when you think you can't stand to go forward one more step while enduring whatever dark night of the soul your child requires you to withstand, you do. just like when you think you can't stand to be pregnant one more hour, or endure one more contraction.. you do. as my mother would put it, isn't god good?

i think it fortuitious that baby jake will in all likelihood be born under a waxing moon... and that i will cross this first threshold of my Croning as the Moon gains in strength, size and power....and then will have the opportunity to contemplate and celebrate such a momentous step under, as i said, a Crone's Moon. to glimpse even a tiny piece of the Grand Pattern of it all sends shivers all the way down to the center of my soul....

and, oh, baby jake... the places we'll go... i see the worlds unfolding ...all's that's needed is for you to come and make them real.... so don't be afraid, my darling... tuck your head tight now, down to your chin... then it's second star to the right... and straight on til morning...

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

where have you gone, joe dimaggio?

it's over, officially, as far as i'm concerned.... summer 2007, that is. the yankees lost last night in the play-offs, for reasons best left debated by better baseball minds than mine. for me, the yankee defeat only signals the end of the season. Time to oil the gloves, to lay the bats and balls to rest. Time to let the summer sleep.

of all the games, and all the sports, only baseball holds any interest for me. perhaps its the slow deliberateness of play, or maybe just the way you can fall asleep in the second inning, wake up to catch the end of the game in the ninth, and see all the highlights on the post-game show. there's not many things you can do and sleep at the same time.

for me, there's magic in baseball - and its not in the statistics and the numbers that men seem to store so frantically in their heads, as if they all Mean Something. it's in the way the game is played, in the nine men on each team who play nine innings of three outs each. there's three bases and one home plate. but more than anything else, i think, something clings to baseball of the broad green fields on which it spawned, of the dusty summer games played in long gold evening light. but now, the shadows are long over homeplate, leaves litter the infield, the stands are cold and dark. Time to lay the bats and balls to rest. Time to let the summer sleep.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

back to earth

i woke up early this morning to the sound of falling rain. last week's high humidity has thrown a monkey wrench into my refinishing plans... it's just been too damp for the finish to dry properly. i have high hopes that the rain will clear out early.

on other fronts, dishes, laundry and the ever-growing piles of clutter need attention, as well as my sons' room downstairs... given that both boys are out of the house, their room has become a dumping ground for all the stuff i have no idea what to do with next. time to make a new List!

Saturday, October 6, 2007


the night is heavy, hot and thick with latent thunder. it is the calm before the storm. i can feel it gathering in the humidity that lies so slick between my clothing and my skin. i can hear it in the sultry bullfrog's moan.

baby jake is coming. i can feel his soul pushing against the Gate, gathering force and form. i can feel his essence pushing against the Veil, searching for a threshold, a doorway from That World into this. this morning as i was gathering sweet annie and other herbs to make my bundles for the fair, i heard a baby crying. na-na, na-na, na-na...someone pick me up please before i,na-na,na-na...

i'm here, i whispered back. i'm here. i stare across the broad horizons of the years and i am dazzled by the view.

knocking on heaven's door

yesterday my girls and i went to brunch at a quaint old-lady place in simsbury and then drove to buckland hills mall where i had to make good on a promise of a shopping spree for meg and libby. katie - vastly pregnant - mostly hung out on benches with her hugely swollen feet up, slurping lemonade. then we met jamie for a very late lunch.

i wondered as i sat in the cool dark booth if maybe this was the last time i would have all my babies... all together... as MY babies, not as anyone else's anything. i watched them tease and joke and laugh, these golden children of mine and from the bottom of my soul i felt blessed. there they all were, so healthy and so strong, young and rosy with life. jamie talked about his plan for the future, meggie batted around her ideas for a major, libby bemoaned high school. katie listened when they bickered and i looked at her and laughed. baby jake even woke up and kicked a few times, just to let us know he' s on his way. it was just an ordinary lunch in an ordinary place in an ordinary afternoon, but it was one of those moments i will file away in my memory, to savor again and again like a photograph or a film.

for of any work i ever do, of far greater importance to everything than any book i could ever write, i have always believed that my real legacy to the World are my children. if i do nothing else, achieve nothing else, and offer nothing else, i have given the world four bright, healthy, happy people. if i had to die today, which i most sincerely hope i don't, i would at least know that what i have always believed to be my "real" work was done as well as i could do it. i saw it yesterday, in the faces and the voices and the laughter of my children.

next time we are all together, i think, baby jake will have joined us. things are already cooking ... katie is already dilating and effacing.

and so we stand on the threshold, my children and i. blessed be.

Friday, October 5, 2007

what being pagan means to me

last night i attended the first meeting of a pagan study group convened by my dear friend rose. it was wonderful to see old friends there.... kim and heather and louise...and a couple new faces... lora, stacey and (another) annie. no men... though rose promised she'd work on conjuring a few for us. ( i asked Beloved if he wanted to check it out... he said - maybe.)

why call yourself a pagan, rose asked? what exactly does that mean to you?

this is my answer.

the word "pagan" comes from the latin word "pagannus" which means country-dweller. in the roman world, it connoted someone who lived way off the beaten track, removed from the world of the City, the hub of all that mattered, at least to the romans. by the time it was adopted by the early church to label unbelievers, it already had a perjorative cast to it, sort of like redneck.

because my spiritual path has led me beyond the boundaries of organized and accepted religions, because i feel that i have outgrown the creeds of my fathers (and my mothers), the word "pagan" fits. for me, no one human belief structure can possibly encompass the Enormity of what i sense Spirit/Source to be. in order for me to even begin to wrap my mind around All of what the Eternal Is, i acknowledge that every spiritual system contains truth. most of them, at least the dominant ones today, are flawed because they've been coopted to support other kinds of cultural systems that have nothing to with spiritual belief or practice and have a lot to do with controlling people.

out here on the rim, however, the Voices are clearer, the Light is brighter. the footing can be shaky, but the view is always grand.

my dear friend rose calls herself a recovering rigid. i guess i could call myself a religious redneck. :)

Thursday, October 4, 2007

on decadence

i have a confession.

i do not wash my underwear. i don't wash my socks, either.... nor sweaty t-shirts, nor Beloved's smelly jock straps. i don't wash kitchen dish-towels or household rags.

and no, i don't throw it all away... i SEND it all away... to the wonderful world of Wash n' Fold .... where stinky laundry becomes sweet. thanks to wash n' fold, my laundry is Under Control, my laundry room floor is clean and neat. not for me the weekly or daily Search for the Missing Sock. wash n' fold has elves who personally accompany each sock through the entire wash cycle from pre-rinse to final spin. they must, i decided, because we've never lost a sock since starting with wash n' fold.

all the dirty stuff gets dropped off and then is picked up again, folded, clean, and sorted. and all this little miracle costs is $1.25 a lb! it used to be even more perfect but then they stopped picking up and delivering. oh, well. nothing's perfect. at least not for long. so why the rant?

i can't quite See the Voice that whispers, in the far side of my mind, that nothing comes without a price, that $1.25 is just the tip of an iceberg that is built of human sweat, human bones and human skin. i have achieved a place in our culture where i can delegate one of the most distasteful, yet intimate of personal care chores onto someone else. under the heading of do-unto-others, i am perfectly aware on some level that the hourly wage earned by the person actually washing my clothes in no way compensates for the tedium, the distastefulness of the job.

and yet, under the heading of this-is-perfectly-okay-because-this-is-a-free-country-and-if-they-don't-like-it-they-can-do-something-else, i continue to live, whether or not that is actually the case.

bless me, Mother, for i continue to sin.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

thoughts on a dying year

for witches, the year ends and begins at samhain. literally "summer's end" in ancient irish, samhain (So-En or Sow - Ane depending on your accent) is the turning point - the lynch-pin - of one year into the next. it is the most holy of holy days, the time when the veil between the Worlds lifts and separates, and EveryThing becomes Possible.

twenty-seven years ago this october, i stood on the edge of another threshold, peering into a place i had been raised to imagine from earliest childhood. when my oldest daughter was born on that golden october morning, with the orange sunlight pouring into the bedroom, i remember how when they placed her on my suddenly deflated belly, my first thought was:

this child's grandchildren will live to see a century i can never see. and in that one enormous moment, with my newborn baby squirming on my skin, i felt the link back to my great-grandparents, who were born in the 19th century, to my children's children, who would be born in the 21st, to all of those who would come after, and all of those who had come before.

it was one of those lynch-pin moments, because, having peered even for one brief moment into Eternity, one can never be quite the same. but even in that moment, something died. the old annie, pregnant annie, young and irresponsibe annie died in that moment, and a new annie, fledgling and raw as the scrap of flesh we were calling katie, stepped into Existence.

this october, katie herself stands on that very threshold. it is amazing to see her morph into a Mother, gratifying beyond belief to hear my own words fall so easily from her tongue. all the silly things we ever argued about have fallen away...suddenly she Understands. but something is also dying.

one morning when she was 13, katie came to me in tears because she'd had a particularly vivid dream in which i had died. what does it mean, mommy, she wailed, holding on to me as tightly as any infant. i remember i hesitated. help me say the right thing,i remember praying. and miraculously, i did.

well, i AM dying in a way, i said. our relationship is changing. you don't need me to take care of you the way you used to, and so that mommy IS dying. you're not two any more, you don't need me to change your diapers and put you to bed. you still need a mommy, maybe, but you don't need me in quite the same way and part of you is aware of that and is acknowledging that by showing you in your dream how the old mommy has to die in order for you to have the new mommy that you need. after all, i said, my little girl is changing too... you're NOT the little girl you used to be, either, are you?

we held each other and we wept that morning for the Little Girl Who Used to Be Katie and for the Mommy She Used to Need. and so, on this soft gray october morning, with the moist gray mist wrapping itself around me like a blanket, and the crows calling from behind the curtain of the trees, i will pause and remember and weep for All that Used to Be.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

ten thousand words

... or almost. i have one more scene to finish, and then it will be time to Assess, time to print out hte complete manuscript, not in chapters, but in scenes. time to lay out the story as i know it so far... who wants what, and what they don't want and what could happen if they don't get it. that's the hardest question of all, the question i think of as the big so what? if the protagonist doesn't get her wish, what happens, and why should we care?

that can be fairly easy to answer in science fiction or fantasy. if the hero doesn't succeed in his quest to do whatever it is he wishes to do, sauron will rule middle earth, darth vader will rule the galaxy and superman will have to eat kryptonite and die.

unfortunately, the child in me likes stories only slightly more complicated than that. the child in me loves monsters and evil wizards and strange machinery and wily computers as much as the next person (did i mention anywhere that one of the ladies who came last night to the Cosi Girls works for a software company that makes software for all the police computers? such interesting possiblities that creates, don't you think?) BUT...i also like love and sex. tolkien was woefully lacking, star wars only marginally less so, and poor superman and lois lane were black-and-white virgins.

so here i am, stuck in the rainforest in the middle of peru with two really cranky heroines - one an accountant who wants to be a writer and one an amazon, both hellbent on revenge - and not a hero in sight except a cheating husband and a thug.

and back to do so Re-Visioning i go....

how to be a Cosi Girl

1. show up late OR show up a few minutes early to save the table and figure out what you want to eat.

2. have at least one ex-husband or be in the process of acquiring him.

3. laugh a lot

4. the further you are over forty is fine.

5. know that, in fact, everyone is fine*.

6. watch interesting movies

7. read interesting books

8. have been and plan to go interesting places with interesting people and do interesting things.

9. appreciate life's vissicitudes as the character-building, wisdom-learning experiences that they are.

10. laugh a LOT more.

*fine - fucked up, insecure, neurotic and emotional - thank you to Anne G. for that one!

Monday, October 1, 2007

first monday in october

the first monday in october is the day the supreme court convenes. i know this because there was a movie by that title about the first woman on the supreme court. the image of - i think it was jill clayburgh - striding resolutely through the inner sanctums of the Great Halls of Blindfolded Justice, black robes flapping off her shoulders seared itself into my adolescent mind.

for me, this first monday in october calls me out into the world... to a full day at the purple rose, and then to a coffee meeting with the Cosi Girls tonight. there are tasks i must finish, errands to be run, people and animals to tend, a day in "ordinary time," a day possibly dull and even tedious at points. i think of ms clayburgh, steely-eyed and stern. i think of the real supreme court, stepping up and sitting down to the Great Business of the World. there was a time when i would've wished to be among them.

but my experience has taught me that the path of Blind Justice is edged with blades that bite. personally, i've learned it's better to keep your eyes open literally and figuratively when you have to make decisions about anything, and does anyone really think that it could ever be a good idea to let a blindfolded person swing a sword? if it's not something we'd actually consider doing, why do we have her up on a pedestal as the image of our (goddess save us all) legal system?

when i look at the image of Blind Justice, i see an image of the subtle dissonance that snakes like a poisonous vine through our culture. if the image doesn't actually depict a good idea, why use it to stand for something we think is supposed to be a good thing? instead of ditching the image that doesn't make sense, we do all sorts of mental gymnastics and gyrations to convince ourselves that this depiction makes a Statement that Explains a Deep Truth and in the process we congratulate ourselves for being Deep Thinkers (when all we really are is tortured) and then we wonder why we're tired before we even get out of bed every day.

this is why i prefer to stay out here on the rim of things. what it lacks in depth, it makes up for in clarity and the Way of Open-Eyed Compassion is just a little easier to See.