Tuesday, September 30, 2008

new moon in libra

"Because of high energy use, rising living standards, the whole world is heavily interdependent. The concept of We and They is no longer. The whole world should be an OUR. The concept of war is eliminated when there is no enemy! With dialogue, just a few words is not sufficient. The way of life should be advanced. Consider others as a brother and sister. Respect them no matter how difficult it is."
- HH The Dalai Lama, Vancouver, 2008

on this morning of the new moon in libra, i wonder, i do, i do.

maybe the dalai lama has never seen siblings fight. we had a doozy of one here, that ended with meg flouncing off to katie's house at nine-thirty at night, and libby retreating to her room with a bad case of the sulks. it's jealousy, pure and simple, the realization that life-is-not-equal, even at home, that rankles so deeply, spurs so much hate. libby's life is not the same as meg's was seven years ago. there's simply no getting around that fact. here on the manor, as Beloved likes to call it, the queen and her last little princess live well. meg, of course, has it easier than katie had it, lo those many moons ago. but meg doesn't see that. all meg sees is that her bratty little sister gets more, is coddled more, has fewer responsibilities than she ever had. it just isn't fair.

i realize that if i have negotiated the tricky shoals of sibling rivalry among my own offspring with any success at all, it's because i know the hard edges of envy's teeth all too well. my children's snarls last night reminded me at the same time of wolf cubs and congress, not to mention me and my brother john.

maybe the trouble with a universal call to brotherhood is that sibling relationships dont always work out well for everyone involved. i remember how, when i was a child, i discovered a deep hatred that existed between my great-grandfather and his brother, who lived two blocks away and had a different last name.

why did uncle leon change his name, i asked my grandmother once. she made a face. "bad blood," she answered. "there was bad blood between them." "what kind of bad blood?" i pressed, sensing a story like a shark after chum. she shrugged, waved her hand, pursed her lips. "it was bad blood," she said. "that's all we needed to know."

deena's teachings, the new moon in libra - the sign of harmony and balance - the words of the dalai lama, the argument erupting between my girls, all swirl and stir around me. the contrast between my morning in sacred space and Beloved's at the edge of the financial chaos stares me in the face. that such a possiblity exists, i think deena would say, would've been unheard of forty years ago. things are changing, she assured us, even though it may not feel like anything has changed at all.

as i dealt with my daughters last night, deena's question - how do we find our way to peace? - echoed distantly. i listened to the ranting and the raving and the farflung accusations and i wondered that myself.

the only tactic i have ever hit upon that seems to work with any success at all is to help them to see each other not as rivals, but as individuals with common needs, wants and desires. and just because we all want the same thing doesn't necessarily mean we have to be in competition for it.

as i whispered a prayer for meg's safety as she stormed off into the night, i realized how slow and deliberate a process this must be.

and furthermore, the war must end. blessed be.

Monday, September 29, 2008

tales of a renegade boiler

my delightful day sharing dreams with deena metzger was perforce cut short as i feared by the Nice Man who came to Fix the furnace.

have you considered a new boiler, ma'am? he said, gazing at me with enormous baby blues.

not on the day the market drops nearly a thousand points, i wanted to say.

i shared my dream with the group. i thought it was interesting that deena opened the day by telling us how the women of liberia had dreamed that a war was coming but they did nothing, in terms of honoring the ancient ways designed to avert such disaster.

my dream felt like a similiar kind of wake-up call. after i left the meeting, i came home, and before the Nice Man showed up, i did a small ritual of my own, to honor the energies that came to me in that dream.

and furthermore, the war must end. blessed be.

day with deena

today im going off a day-long retreat (at least i'm assuming it will be a day-long retreat, unless the Nice Men who fix the furnace require my presence this afternoon) hosted by nora jamieson's Women's Temple. nora is a Witch in the best sense of the word. deena metzger is a wise-woman Grandmother if ever there were one.

i have a dream to share with the group - oddly, it is a dream about the group and a disturbing dream at that. i am eager to hear what deena, nora and the other women think. it is the second of two disturbing dreams i had the same night, a couple nights after the full moon.

and furthermore, the war must end. blessed be.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

shades of the shining

for some reason, the heat in the main part of the house refuses to go off, despite a new thermostat that assures the heat is turned off. my suspicion is that it is somehow connected to the fact that new heating was installed in the new addition.

when i pointed out to Beloved that this was a potentially dangerous situation, he pooh-poohed my fear, until i pointed out to him that this was what happened to the hotel in the shining - that ultimately the hotel blew up because the furnace overheated.

now the heater is turned off and the nice men have been called, and presumably, we will have the issue fixed before we really need the heat.

i walked for an hour with my friend cheryl today, and came home to spend the rest of the afternoon creating a corner in my bedroom that was clean and clutter-free. my summer clothes are sorted and put away, my winter things unpacked. the only category i've yet to switch over are my shoes. the rest of my closet and all my drawers are rearranged with my cold weather clothing.

i sorted a few more loose things that had been sitting around taking up energy - my overnight bag, my gym bag, and a basket chest that i have repurposed into a place where i can stash extra candles, my foot cream, my planning journal and my current reading material.

its nice to have a clutter-free space at last.

and furthermore, the war must end. blessed be.

Friday, September 26, 2008

the cranky crone considers...

...an outrageously modest proposal to alleviate the current financial mess. go check it out HERE.

and furthermore, the war must end. blessed be.

another Blog Stop Book Tour!

today the book on the Blog Stop is Midwife of The Blue Ridge by Christine Blevins. i looked forward to reading this book, for several reasons, mostly because ALL the books on the Blog Stop Book Tour that i have reviewed so far have been thoroughly enjoyable and well-written.

this book.. well... not so much.

the subject matter - midwifery, historical fiction, the native american tribes of the eastern united states - are all subjects dear to my heart. i thought i would love this book.

alas, well...not so much.

the midwife of the title, an orphaned scottish girl named maggie duncan, only delivers two babies in the entire length of the book, and there's little drama about it, nor do the births seem to tie into the story in any meaningful way. it's as if the author said to herself, oh yes, she's a midwife, i better have her deliver a couple of kids. that may sound mean, but i know i've certainly thought that way more than once, so while i understand where the author is coming from, i see now that it's better to show us a character busy birthing babies if you're going to call her a midwife.

and because this book is really a romance dressed up as historical fiction, i lost interest in the plot once i identified the hero.

but the great Thou Shalt Not this author committed, in my very humble opinion, and the reason i could barely force myself to read the book, is that she had the characters speak in DIALECT - heavy dialect at that - the whole freaking way through the story.

and yes, gentle readers, i understand the characters are scottish. yes, i understand they speak with an accent, and i understand the writer wanted to give us a flavor of what she, no doubt, heard in her head as she was writing the story.

however, this writer's editor should have pointed out to her that characters - like real people - only appear to have an accent to people who don't share it. there is no reason to have EVERY line of dialogue reflect that accent, any more than it is necessary to continually hit me over the head with any other kind of information about them. a few "dinna fash yersel, maggie's" or a couple "we better bide a wee's" and i would've happily accepted that these people are from SCOTLAND and would've probably found the dialogue far less intrusive than it was.

so... do i recommend the book? if you like romance, if you like romances set in the early colonies AND if you can tolerate the dialogue - absolutely.

and furthermore, the war must end. blessed be.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

small steps

i have identified four areas of my life where i hope to make changes over the next three months. the first major area, of course, is the chaos now currently clogging my house.

another is exercise.

now that my shoulder is finally feeling better, i want to get back to yoga. im still not sure downward dog is the best position, but there's other simple poses i know i can do.

and then there's walking. i realized i don't walk as much as i want to because i feel guilty not walking the dogs. and i don't like walking with the dogs - they want to stop and sniff and scratch and search even at the most determined pace i can muster. and so today i recognized the need to take TWO walks a day - one with the puppies, and one without them.

such a small step, but one, i think, in the right direction.

and furthermore, the war must end. blessed be.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

whimsical wednesday

this post is in honor of my dear friend rose, who offered such a sage observation on my last post. for those gentle readers who don't know about Win a Whimsy Wednesday, i invite you to check out rose's What I Made Today to find out how you can win your very own whimsy. i won one once, and i wanna win another. so on second thought...wait til tomorrow :).

i woke up happy and in a silly mood. tonight i'm offering my workshop, eating... the angel way again and there's something about angels thats light and frothy and, well... silly.

but first i have baby jake for a few hours and i need to tie up a few of the loose ends on my list i didnt find my way to do yesterday - both my hour readings scheduled for the afternoon turned into ninety minutes. and so.. off i go.

and furthermore, the war must end. blessed be.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

a day to get stuff done

the mire of the chaos is starting to muddle my mind. i can feel it in my more-than-ordinary resistance to thinking in straight lines. and yet, with autumn nipping at my heels like a persistent puppy, i feel an ever-growing imperative to Get Things Done. winter is coming - a season in which i hope to reap the benefits of my fiction-writing fallow of the past six months. but in order to wallow as i would, to truly sink down and settle in, i would like my physical space to reflect the same inner order i envision creating.

and so i toy with the idea of calling in my Mother. my mother is not so much my mother as a Force of Nature - rather like the Faerie Queen. her ability to think in straight lines approaches genius but one dances with her at one's peril. if my father is a big picture person like i am, my mother understands the means by which the big picture is accomplished. but do i really want this Energy - even ever so briefly - in my house, in my home?

i reach for my list, as my mother would. and i ponder.

and furthermore, the war must end. blessed be.

Monday, September 22, 2008

making minor headway

Beloved, goddess bless him, painted the kitchen. i helped - i did the older part - the part we painted three years ago when the first phase of the renovation was complete. im sorry to say good-bye to my terracotta floors, but i think the blue slate tile will look better with the countertops. i know that the pale cafe-au-lait color now on the walls sure does. i think the darker shade will look nice in the living room, too. the countertop people called this evening - another encouraging sign. it means that some day - maybe even by halloween - the boxes now populating the living room will disappear like spring snow. (i just hope their disappearance doesn't coincide with the spring snow.)

i had baby jake today, and he was fussy - runny nose, maybe teething, definitely out of sorts. he's not an inconsolable baby when he's feeling bad, just a cuddly one, and so we spent the major part of our day nestled on the couch. i drew the line at disney, however, and so baby jake dozed to the sound of a show about a guy who was a famous novelist and killed his wife. or so said a jury of twelve good people and true...he's appealing his sentence. the most damning piece of evidence seemed to be that twelve or thirteen years ago, another woman he knew died the exact same way. this seems to fall under the "lightning can't possibly strike twice in the same place" school of criminal justice, but then, again, it does seem like an awfully big coincidence. and he ended up as the legal guardian for the woman's two daughters, when they had a perfectly lovely blood aunt. made me wonder, it did, it did.

it made baby jake sleep.

i managed to get enough laundry and other things done that the day didn't feel like quite a total waste. the split pea soup i made for supper turned out well, and we got the food shopping done. it's little things like these i cling to in the midst of chaos... it's so bad i'm thinking of calling in my MOTHER (gulp).

and furthermore, the war must end. blessed be.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

chaos in the kitchen

this time last year i was enjoying the pause between the frenzy of moving my grandmother and the baby shower for sixty people and baby jake's arrival. last year, my house was clean, my gardens weeded.

this year i am buried, in boxes and paint cans and construction dust. my world feels chaotic, unspooled. all the artificial structures and spreadsheets i have created to get some fragile fix on the world feel just that - fragile, and utterly unequal to the task of Holding It All Together. nearly three months into this massive project, and i am restless, edgy. i want to get it Done.

and yet, every step i take in that direction feels as futile as a finger in a dam.

and furthermore, the war must end. blessed be.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

dearly departed

last night, laura and i held our first gallery-style mediumship night in a private home. ten ladies, meg, libby and a host of spirits and assorted loved ones gathered in a new farmhouse on an ancient plot of land. somehow it seemed fitting, beside an old track that winds along a river, deep in the connecticut woods. a last-quarter harvest moon, hung low in the star-studded sky, fat as a gold crescent roll, as i drove home, reminding me that this is the weekend of the equinox. as summer's last twilight crept through the trees, laura and i sat shoulder to shoulder and peered beyond the Veil, into that (as shakespeare described it) undiscovered bourne from which travelers normally don't return in ways readily available to our five physical senses.

we got a lot of good hits, as they say in our business, though i expected that. when laura and i work together, we complete each other's sentences and thoughts. working alone, we are both as good as any of the well-known psychics out there, but working together, we're even more accurate. sometimes we even say the same thing at the exact same time.

meg and libby tagged along - meg because she has to do a project on a cultural experience outside her comfort zone for a class, and libby because she had nothing better to do. (yes, gentle readers, it amazed me, too, that meg could find sitting around listening to her mother talk to dead people outside her comfort zone, but children really ARE like little aliens who land on your doorstep. it was even more amazing libby had nothing better to do.)

yesterday was my aunt babe's birthday, today was my dear friend lorraine's.

my aunt babe is thrilled to have her sister - my grandmother - with her, at last. i felt them all celebrating on the porch at the Big House washed in the Summerland's coppery light. and my grandmother is so happy to Be There - she Gets It now, at last. be happy, nanny, i hear them whisper. live rich, breathe deep. the scent of the beach, of the fumes on tenth street engulfs me, i hear the shriek of the gulls and the screech of the sirens. i lit a candle for aunt babe yesterday.

today i light one for my friend lorraine. i see her sitting in her meadow, with her dog celtie by her side, watching her other dogs play under a cinnamon sun. and inexplicably, sam and buddy begin to frolic like puppies, rolling and snapping and arching and twisting, and i see that we are watching the very same thing, on different sides of the Veil.

and furthermore, the war must end. blessed be.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

the river, by moonlight

another Blog Stop Book Tour day, dear readers!

this time, it's The River, by Moonlight by Camille Marchetta

Set in a small Hudson river town in 1917, The River by Moonlight is the story of the shock waves set off by the apparent suicide of a young woman who, like Richard Corey, appears to have it all.

In prose as deeply and gently moving as the river itself, ms marchetta creates characters so vividly drawn the reader feels them as real as the neighbors next door. What completely captivated me about this book was the subtle sense of the surreal that infuses it. the author’s deft portrayal of the characters’ own shock and disbelief of this terrible event creates its own little bubble, even as events outside that bubble are carrying the wider world along toward wider tragedies, wider griefs. It’s the other side of “It’s a Wonderful Life,” about what really happens when lives are truncated too young.

The best part of this book for me was the ending – set five years after Lily’s death. It leaves the reader with a sense of peace, if not satisfaction. I highly recommend it – this is another book for a rainy afternoon, a snowy evening, a story to be savored like a hot cup of tea.

and furthermore, the war must end. blessed be.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

happy birthday, edward david

thirty-three years ago, when my little brother david was born with downs' syndrome, his condition shocked and devastated my mother. i, on the other hand, had known for years.

i was 13 when the Voice told me my mother would have a baby with down's syndrome. the condition was vaguely familiar to me - in gym class in middle school i was often paired up with the special ed kids, a couple of whom had had it. You can't let that happen, i remember i argued with the Voice. i'm not ready.

i am not sure what i had to do with it, but a couple weeks later, my mother miscarried. i knew it was only a reprieve.

but i said nothing. to no one. i had learned by then not to acknowledge the Voice, no matter how right and true the things It told me were. i had also read doctor spock's baby and child care, and i knew that adults called such thinking "magical." i knew if i said anything at all, it would be attributed to such thinking plus sibling rivalry. and i knew this was beyond that.

the following year, on the first day of school, i sat down at my desk in biology class, and opened the book randomly. it fell open to the section on human genetics and what could possibly go wrong. i remember how my eyes were drawn to the phrase "down's syndrome," and i heard the Voice say "That."

i knew the baby was coming soon.

about a year or so later, my mother announced she was pregnant. and i knew what lay ahead. but again, i said nothing. but i remember i told the Voice, "okay, i guess i'm ready."

why didn't you tell me, my mother asked me, years later, when i finally 'fessed up. what was i going to say, i asked, and what difference would it have made? you would never have done anything about it. and it would only have upset you.

that's true, she said. and then she was very quiet. i do remember, though, she said at last, how when i was saddest and most upset, you'd show up, as if on cue. and you always said what i needed to hear. you always had a good answer. i remember thinking then how unusual it seemed.

my little brother david is special to me in many ways. but not the least of which is that his birth was the gateway for my first experience of what i now understand to be Divine Grace. so happy 33rd, wavy davy... long may your light shine.

and furthermore, the war must end. blessed be.

Monday, September 15, 2008

the sky is falling

among the first things Beloved said to me this morning - somewhere between "don't forget to brush your teeth," and "do you mind being on top?" - was, "we're in the middle of a world-wide crash."

in the 13 years i've known Beloved, there've been other crashes, other crises. the asian contagion had Beloved getting up at 430 am to catch the market reports from hong kong and japan, and caused me to work my first Spell. i'd gotten tired of Beloved's miserable mien and thus, arrived one evening with a backpack full of magical supplies to find Beloved watching the financial news channel, with what was becoming his habitual pained expression.

what are you doing, Beloved asked, as he struggled to sit up and i began to unpack.

i'm working a spell, i said. we're working a spell, actually.

can we have sex? he asked.

of course, i answered. where do you think we're going to get the oomph?

i think i like this kind of magic, said Beloved.

i don't remember exactly what it was we did, nor how oomphy the sex, but three days later, the asian markets turned around, and there was, as Beloved puts it, lift off.

and furthermore, the war must end. blessed be.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

on Worldbuilding, or, a question from another Writer

a Gentle Reader was kind enough to leave this question as a comment on one of my recent posts.

I'm interested in writing fantasy myself, but what has me freezing in my tracks is creating a world...a whole world...the Gods must have felt something like the panic I feel when I think of it. Okay so I don't need to create a whole world, just a country to begin with, but still its a scary thought and one that has me struggling to even begin. So if I may ask a question, how did you go about creating a realistic world for your characters to live in?

ah, world-building. depending on your outlook, it can be your greatest pleasure about the art and craft of fiction, or your greatest chore. what's interesting to me about this question, i think, is that the answer doesn't just apply to fantasy or sf, though writers of less colorfully imaginative fiction may not be quite as attuned to the care required to create Believable Worlds.

sometimes this is referred to as Setting, and while not as acknowledged as universally important as Character or Plot, it is nonetheless sufficiently integral to the creation of effective fiction to warrant its own Writers' Digest book.

however, even sf can rely on the Known Science of our own world in terms of groun-rules, short-cuts and What the Reader Knows. in fantasy, you get to make it all up, which is, as so many things are, both blessing and curse.

so where do *I* start, gentle reader? for me, fantasy isn't just a chance to make up cool stories about magical beings who have enormous powers, heroic adventures and mythical sex. i see fantasy is a chance to play with the world views of the characters who live inside the story, a chance to examine a different way not just of living, but of understanding How Things Work. if i lived in a world where jesus had never died, i wonder, what would that world be?

because i grew up steeped in three things - literature, judeo-christian mythology and irish folk music - a great part of the shaping my worlds begins with these three things - what are their stories? what do they believe? and what does their music sound like? for me, the easiest way to any kind of reasonable answer lies in the world's other Mythologies.

the world-view of the celts, for example, was very different from that which we commonly share today. by adopting it in the silver books, i was able to make subtle shifts in such things as motivations that perhaps don't seem very large when first confronted, but which, over the unfolding of the story, adds up to the feeling for the Reader that he or she is defintiely not anywhere near kansas any more.

for example, in silver's edge, when nessa goes into Faerie to save her father from the sidhe, she doesn't go to save his LIFE. she goes to save his SPIRIT, so that he may be free to travel back and forth from the human world to the summerlands. she EXPECTS him to die soon after his return to the mortal world, in fact, because it is well known that being in Faerie and then returning can kill you. but trapped in Faerie, dougal's spirit would be lost to those who loved him forever. this shift in motivation, subtle though it may be, not only shapes nessa and her world, but also illustrates another point of view quite different from the one this culture seems to promulgate: living in the same youthful body forever would constitute paradise.

so my advice to you would be to immerse yourself in mythology - to read as widely as you can about as many mythologies as you can absorb. find the one that tickles your soul, that leaps large on the canvas of your mind. then take your plot and characters and see how they might fit on the foundation of that frame.

the characters in my silver books do not believe everything the ancient celts believed. the mythology that supports the world of the silver books is mine, woven out of the strands of ancient ireland, but sprinkled through with quite a bit of Other Stufff, too. just as an aside, one of the criticisms sometimes levelled at the books by those earnest amateur scholars i call Strict Constructionists, is that the mythology in the book is NOT "real" celtic mythology. "this isn't the way it really happened," bemoaned one particularly offended purist.

to them, i'd like to say: of course it isn't. i made it up all up. that's why it's called fantasy.

and furthermore, the war must end. blessed be.

Friday, September 12, 2008

back to bed day

the morning air is soft and heavy as an old blanket, and the gray clouds are puffed and plump as pillows. the trees are still, the muted light soothes. even my coffee tastes milky and warm. buddy snores sprawled across the throw rug, sam curls in the corner of the wing chair under her pink blanket.

Beloved is engrossed in his online game. i think it's called pimp-war. the point of the game is to become number one pimp. i understand the lure of roleplay games, and what i find interesting is that he's working his way up the ladder not by being agressive but by forging alliances within the pimp-world.

cooperation... what a concept. may it flow in any form it can.

and furthermore, the war must end. blessed be.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

does it pay to write?

every so often, i get emails from aspiring writers asking for advice. this morning, i found this one from a kindred spirit:

Ms. Kelleher,

Seeing an AOL email account in these days of gmail and other free email account means you must be a kindred spirit and myself being from Jersey means you must also have a sense of humor...I am an aspiring fantasy writer and only wish to ask you, as I search for an agent, for your advice. If you could spare me a few minutes I would be grateful.

I have written about 6 chapters of a book over the last few years, tweaking, changing, adding, deleting until I had something I would want to read myself. It may sound strange but I'm very fussy.

I was interested in you mainly because you wrote fantasy/romance. Being a Computer geek for the last 27 years didn't allow me much time to read but I've read Andre Norton, Donaldson, Eddings, Williams, Modesitt and Goodkind so my base is well grounded

I'm new to this and ignorant. Ask me anything about computers and I could rattle off "tech talk" for hours. I've read all the " How to get publish" books and it looks to be a long road.

My question;

In this day and age, does it pay to even start? Seems like there are hundreds of book already out there.My wife and kids think I'm crazy to even try.

- Aspiring Writer

here is my response:

Dear Aspiring Writer:
when you ask me "does it pay?" - i'd have to ask you... what kind of "payment" do you have in mind? :)

writing fiction is not the road to riches. for some, yes, it can be... but the whims of the market and the words of the writer are frequently two entirely different things. if you envision doing this in order to get rich, believe me, there are easier, faster and far less painful methods.

but if you are writing out of a deep need to create, out of a longing to tell your stories in ways that no one else can, if you are writing stories that YOU enjoy reading, or to leave some integral part of yourself that will speak to your children and your grandchildren and your great grandchildren long after you are gone, then i would say it pays in spades.

fiction has not made me financially rich. it hasn't even made me financially secure. but when i see my row of books lined up on the mantel, in five different languages, and i know that a hundred years from now, my great-great grandchildren will be able to (well, hopefully be able to, but i'm an optimist) hear my voice as clearly as if i were in the next room, and i feel that there is some piece of me that (as the roman poet horace said,) shall not wholly die.... then, i feel very rich indeed.

the heretic's daughter

no, gentle readers, not me.

today i am once again participating in the Blog Stop Book Tour - and this time the book is a debut novel called THE HERETIC'S DAUGHTER by kathleen kent.

set in andover, massachusetts, near salem, at the time of the witch trials, the story is told from the viewpoint of one of the author's own ancestors, a ten year old girl named sarah, the daughter of thomas and martha carrier. martha carrier was one of the women hanged for witchcraft, the only one who never confessed, and went to her death protesting her innocence. thomas carrier, a fascinating man in his own right, carries some taint of a blighted past, that the discerning reader (with perhaps some knowledge of seventeenth-century history) will realize relates to the regicide of king charles i of england in 1649.

beautifully written, the story is told in heartbreakingly simple prose as befits the ten year old narrator. although this is one of the strengths of the book, it is also possibly its only flaw, because the child's limited understanding limits the reader's.

but this is a minor flaw in this marvelous story. in bits and pieces, kent weaves the ancedotes that ultimately reveals characters both sensitively and finely drawn, and shows how small things can snowball into larger things, and sometimes disaster.

the most touching aspect of the book for me personally was the relationship between martha and her daughter. strongwilled, stubborn, intelligent and never afraid to speak her mind, martha reminded me more than a little of myself (gulp.) although sarah at first misunderstands the nature of her mother's love, she comes to understand just how much her mother really loves her, when martha gives the sarah the means to save herself, even while she (martha) goes resolute to her death on the hanging tree.

ms kent has not written a light novel for the beach. instead, she has given us a novel to savor on a long slow winter's afternoon fortified with blankets, hot beverages and a roaring fire. this story is an excellent read that will stay with the reader for days after it is done. i highly recommend it.

and furthermore, the war must end. blessed be.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

grammy's ring

a few weeks ago, i mentioned my Other Grandmother, the one i called grammy. she died when i was ten, so i didn't know her nearly half so well as i came to know the one i called roey. when i first began to open to my psychic gifts, she was among the first three spirits who came to me.

at first, i was confused, because when she said she was "my grandmother," my first thought was... she's not dead. and then the little Voice said: your Other Grandmother is, and memories of grammy came flooding back.

my father was her youngest child. she had four boys all together, and all those boys had sons, except for me. i was her only granddaughter. at various points in my life, i have felt her energy close around me.

this summer, before i went to california, i asked her for a sign. nothing too big, just a little something, i asked, so i would know she really WAS with me. a couple weeks after i returned, i got my sign.

out of the blue one day, my father called. i just got off the phone with uncle joe, he said. he was cleaning out an old suitcase that hadn't been touched in 20 odd years. inside he found an envelope marked "mom's ring." inside the envelope was a ring.

then my dad choked up. you were her only granddaughter. we both want you to have it. we know that's what she would've wanted.

today the ring arrived, a moonstone set in yellow gold, surrounded by little sapphires and diamonds. it fit me perfectly.

you know the funny thing about that ring, my father said, the last time we spoke. i was with my father the day he went to pick it out. i remember that ring. isn't that amazing? of all the pieces of jewelry she had, i remember that one.

so did grammy, daddy. so did grammy.

and furthermore, the war must end. blessed be.

Monday, September 8, 2008

when fascism comes to america

i posted sarah palin's list of banned books at www.cafemom.com, where it is currently the number one journal posting, and has ignited a firestorm regarding whether or not the list itself is "accurate."

whether or not the list itself is accurate is immaterial. the truth of the matter is that palin attempted to have books removed from the wasilla, ak, public library's shelves by threatening to fire the librarian when the librarian balked.

what this shows is not just how seriously palin takes her religious beliefs but what little disregard she has for the first amendment.

i'm by no means a strict-constructionist when it comes to the constituition of the united states, but i think the first amendment probably articulates one of the most precious of all the rights we possess as citizens of this nation. as a writer, it certainly articulates one of the most precious of all rights for ME personally.

any candidate who would even consider asking a librarian to remove books from bookshelves in a PUBLIC library has no business being elected to a position where they will be asked to uphold and defend the constitution, because clearly, they don't even understand what that constituition says.

as sinclair lewis wrote in 1935, "when fascism comes to america, it will be wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross." gentle readers, i think it's arrived.

and furthermore, the war must end. blessed be.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

feeling 90% better

considering how sick i felt yesterday... i'm amazed at how much better i feel today. i don't have a lot of energy, but my cold symptoms - the stuffy nose, the scratchy throat and the phlegmy cough - have all but disappeared.

thank you to everyone who left me get-well wishes yesterday. i appreciated them all! :)

i took it easy today, though - i didn't do anything much at all beyond lie on the couch, lie in bed and write the third chapter of my new book, "Eating the Angel Way: the Rainbow Route to health and happiness" or whatever exactly it was patrice suggested.

i'm still working on her prize. a free copy of the book doesn't seem like quite enough since i'd give one to her anyway. the last time i gave her a plant she looked sort of pained and said, oh, i don't have much luck with plants. lunch doesn't last beyond a few hours.

maybe a little Angel will give me some inspiration.

i checked back over my blog, to see when i was last sick. last winter i was sick twice, for two or three weeks at a time.

maybe there's more to this eating the angel way stuff than i realize.

and furthermore, the war must end. blessed be.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

sick as a dog

i woke up this morning sicker than i've been since last february. it's funny, because i had just been thinking it'd been a while since i'd been sick. and then whammo... baby jake sneezes in my face, and down i go for the count.

thank you to patrice and kim and kittengoddess who left me well-wishes. :)

this afternoon, i managed to drag myself from the bed where i've spent most of the day cuddled up with sam - buddy prefers to flop on the floor - in order to plant my holly trees ahead of the soaking rain we are expected to get.

as i expected, i've lost four of them already. but nine still look promising - they're green, the berries firm with leaves that cling to the spindly branches as if they'd like to stay there. and so i planted them, three to a pot, in a mixture of tree and shrub soil and vermiculite. i set them under the big pine and asked him to look after them.

when the weather turns cold, i'll bring them inside.

and furthermore, the war must end. blessed be.

Friday, September 5, 2008

happy birthday, my Beloved

today is Beloved's birthday and i went to bed sick and woke up sicker. poor Beloved will have to make due with a card and the flowers i bought him yesterday and a couple bottles of his favorite aftershave.

there will be no Big Celebration tonight...sigh.

and furthermore, the war must end. blessed be.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Eating.. the Angel Way

hard on the heels of an unexpected downpour, and a splitting migraine, a burst of inspiration overtook me, and in less than thirty minutes, i wrote both the outline and the first chapter of a new book. patrice suggested the title and so i feel she ought to get a reward of some sort.

here're two of my favorite paragraphs:

As humans, we arrive with an innate need to nourish our physical bodies appropriately. A newborn human’s whole life centers almost completely on the need to take in food and eliminate its wastes. However, as we grow, we are frequently taught that the very appetite that kept us alive in those early helpless days is not to be trusted. We are taught to fear our bodies’ desires, wishes and needs. For many people, their appetite – of all sorts – becomes their enemy. And so many of us go to war with this most basic part of our human nature, as if it were something that needed to be controlled, tamed or conquered.

However, the human body is the physical instrument in which our Divine Spark is en-fleshed. A critical part of Knowing the Presence of Divine Spirit in your life is to embrace and accept your own human-ness, which includes the unique beauty of your physical body, as well as the appetite that keeps it alive. I (we) believe that all of us are meant to be Channels of Divine Love and Grace in this world. The more deeply we love and accept ourselves, the more we are genuinely able to love and care about others.

and furthermore, the war must end. blessed be.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

steps in time

an astute Gentle Reader of my Other Blog noticed that i referred to myself as the mother of four daughters - not three. as this Gentle Reader said to me in an email, which i dont think she'll mind if i quote:

"Just last night, while taking Oldest Daughter out to dinner before
sending her off for her last semester of college in L.A., she and New Husband
and I talked about the "step" prefix, and whether it would ever fall away,
after we've been a family for 20 or so years. They didn't think so. Do you
always make the distinction between steps and your own kids?"

well, no... at least i try not to. i prefer not to. i don't like the bifurcation such distinctions cause in families. blended families have so many issues, the last thing everyone needs, i think, is yet another reminder of the blendedness, which, alas, in so many quarters of our culture, equates to broken-ness.

real families, at least as i think of them, are created by bonds of love, not law, and not, certainly, even by shared DNA, especially when i consider how much i love my puppies. and so, i don't like to put in the steps, the dashes, the little signifiers that tell the world we could in some sense be "broken."

because we are not. in our together-ness, we are healed.

and furthermore, the war must end. blessed be.

itchy eyelids

at first, when i felt the pinprick sensations in my one lid, i thought i was merely suffering from sort of allergy. i AM allergic to things like molds, ragweed and the pollens of trees and grasses. so i dosed myself on antihistamines, but the itching didn't stop. i could feel my eyelid becoming more and more irritated, and just a tad swollen. so i smeared it antibiotic ointment, which helped, but not as much as i would've liked, and the itching spread, to my other eye.

a single application of hydrocortisone cream helped tremendously, but burned like the dickens going on. then it occured to me that something in nature's pharmacopiea might offer a better solution. it also occured to me to google the symptom. so i did, and i learned that apparently itchy eyelids is a real symptom of some fairly diverse diseases and conditions. it can also occur for reasons unknown, and some of the postings i found were from people begging for or offering all sorts of advice on how to alleviate this very annoying (believe me) condition.

my dear sister-in-spirit laura mentioned her own homemade brew that is very effective against poison ivy - a simple home remedy based on wild impatiens, or jewel weed, and plaintain, that broad leafed invader of my herb gardens that looks to me like a cross between rhubarb and crab grass, and yet our dear friend rose swears by it.

to freshly cleaned bunch of leaves and stems, i added three tablespoons of olive oil - the googled people mentiond sweet almond oil, but i don't have any - and a few drops of boiling water to kill any beasties that may be lurking in the leaves. three times daily applications of this little concoction, along with warm salt compresses, had me about 95% cured when i gave the rest of it to katie for baby jake's face.

today i woke up with a just a touch of an itchy lid. and it's back to the fields i go.

and furthermore, the war must end. blessed be.

Monday, September 1, 2008

sweet september

if a month has to begin on a monday, i think a monday holiday is only fair. i spent the day in the kind of personal reflection achieved while accomplishing - not too many things - but enough to give me a sense of personal satisfaction and justified reward while my homemade rice pudding, redolent with cinnamon - made from leftovers, even - steams and thickens on the stove.

i corralled meg into cleaning up her room enough so that any damage done by the workmen tomorrow when they install her new window should be minimal. i induced libby to spend half as much as she wanted to on a new comforter for her new full-sized bed. i sweet-talked Beloved into hanging up his clothes and sorting out his laundry. i found the prettiest curtains for the new kitchen - a fabric called Laura's Garden - which certainly answers why i've been hearing that. (i was beginning to think i was supposed to go see my dear friend laura and her garden.)

i did two loads of laundry (dark and white towels), vacuumed, changed the sheets and pulled a few weeds. then i checked on the baby hollies and congratulated them on being so brave and hanging in so well. i sorted through the pots Beloved cleaned for me, and filled in the first layer with pebbles. i found a beautiful piece of yellow quartz that almost gleams like citrine.

i ate like an Angel ALL DAY today - beginning with a delicious raspberry-vanilla yogurt smoothie before my three and a half mile hike up the mountain. lunch was another smoothie - this one peach-banana, and dinner was rainbow-roasted pot roast... a pot roast simmered all day long in a positively heavenly melange of garlic, basil, oregano, tomatoes, carrots, purple onions, green beans, wax beans and celery, with red mashed potatoes on the side. i added dried wild blueberries to the rice pudding i made because i thought i deserved it.

i gave some thought to taking some radically new directions for my writing - into the realms of nonfiction, a place i never thought to go. i think the Angel Eating Way would make a good book, as my dear friend patrice suggested. (im calling the massage lady tomorrow.) i think there's other topics i could write reasonably intelligently about. goddess knows i've decided to devote a whole blog to things i write intentionally unreasonable about. and my father - of all people - encouraged me to query Real Simple - of all magazines - because he thinks their readers would enjoy my blog.

but then, my daddy loves me.

and furthermore, the war must end. blessed be.