Sunday, December 27, 2009

why the irish sing about booze

many years ago, i should've realized my first marriage was doomed when, shortly after we were married, my first husband asked me, "don't you know anything other than irish love songs and irish rebel songs?"

i thought about it for a moment, and then i said, "i know a lot of irish drinking songs, too."

needless to say, mister ex was Not Amused.

some years later, long after i'd come to my senses, i mentioned to a friend of mine that irish songs are generally sad.

not all of them, he answered. not the ones they sing about booze.

i thought about it, and realized that was more or less true.

the word whiskey itself is derived from the gaelic name for the brew, which roughly translates as "water of life." the song, finnegan's wake, which inspired james joyce's novel, is about a man who literally resurects at his own wake when a bucket of whiskey is inadvertently spilled all over his corpse.

but i never understood why. in my experience, limited as it might be, whiskey was nasty hard-edged stuff that scorched like a flamethrower all the way to your belly. back in the day i could keep up with the best of them, but my preferred poisons were gin and vodka, things that more readily blended with juices and other softeners. (i stopped drinking tequila when i realized it made me take my clothes off in public.)

until, courtesy of a friend of Beloved's, i found midleton's.

in its own words, midleton's is "the most exclusive whiskey ever produced in Ireland. distilled three times by jameson and sons, whose methods go back over a thousand years to when the irish first invented whiskey, the whiskey is aged in specially chosen casks."

i remember how he poured out the liquid in clear shot glasses. you have to try this, he said.

we raised our glasses, and (slainte)... down it went.

i braced myself, ready for the burn. but this stuff was different. it didn't scorch and it didn't burn. instead it rolled, smooth as liquid velvet, all the way down the back of my throat, and when it hit my belly it exploded, in a wave of heat that didnt sear, but turned my blood to gently warmed syrup. the second shot went down feeling positively pillowy.

wow, i thought. no wonder the irish sing about booze.

what can i get you and don for xmas, asked irish moo a few weeks before she was due to come home.

well, i said. seeing that you're 21... there's this whiskey. it can be our birthday and christmas presents for both us.

sure enough, under the tree, santa left us (me) bottle number 026346.

and furthermore, the war will end. slainte!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

the weather outside is frightful

i fell back to sleep in the middle of the night listening to an icy mixture of sleet and snow falling through the rhodendron bushes. i woke up to a soft coating of fresh snow that set sam the beagle dancing in tail-wagging, ear-flapping delight.

it's warmed up even more and the precipitation seems to have stopped. im thinking soon buddy and i will venture out for a walk.

mercury is retrograde, and unlike a lot of folks, i enjoy mercury retrograde. i was born under mercury retrograde (9 of the 15 heavenly bodies used to calculate a horoscope are retrograde in mine...i think it explains, if not excuses, a lot). there's something about a mercury retrograde that feels like home to me.

for me, the experience of mercury retrograde is only difficult when i insist on forging ahead during a time best spent looking back.

and furthermore, the war will end. blessed be.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

a Christmas message from the Angels

"Living against your body clock — as so many of us do — can affect your health and well-being in myriad ways." Olivia Judson, The New York Times - Dec 24, 2009

What gift will you give yourself?

It's the season of Frazzled Women, a friend of mine observed yesterday. And men, too, if Beloved is any measure - he's been running around coordinating a Christmas dinner at a Hartford soup kitchen among a myriad of other things, all while fighting a cold.

And yet, in this darkest part of the year, our mammalian bodies are telling us to sleep, to rest, to slow down and dream. It's this living out of synchrony with our bodies and our environment - our real environment, not the ones we attempt to create for ourselves - that leads to so much chronic sickness, to fatigue, and even to weight gain.

science is only now catching up to what everyone's body instinctively and intuitively knows: living out of harmony with our own intrinsic physical rhythms not only makes us tired and stressed, it makes us fat and sick in the long run.

The gift the Angels urge all of us to give ourselves is love...the kind of Love that gives us the strength to say "no" when pushed to the limit of what we can reasonably accomplish or achieve in one day, one hour or even five minutes; the kind of Love that gives us the ability to close the doors, turn off the phones, the lights and the alarms and allows us time to rest, to sleep, to simply do nothing, even as the silent trees outside my window aren't really doing anything in particular, except Being; the kind of Love that enables us to choose what we put into our bodies with the same tender care or sense of responsibility so many of us shower on those around us.

The point, the Angels say, is that without the experience of true Self-Love, a person will have a very difficult time being truly loving to anyone else. how can you know how to treat your neighbor like yourself, after all, if you've become so used to denying, to denigrating, to punishing your own Self, you've become innured to your own pain? if you don't accept your own needs, it can become difficult to understand anyone else's.

it is in this way that we inflict the numerous thoughtless hurts all of us do. we're so used to treating ourselves badly (or allowing ourselves to be treated badly in the name of whatever virtue we think we're serving) that for the most part, we don't recognize when we're being unkind to others. i have seen time and time again that most people i know don't set out intentionally to do harm or to cause pain - it's that so innured are we all by our own pain, our own calluses and scars and missing pieces, we cannot recognize the suffering we inadvertently cause.

if we want peace for the world, say the Angels, we can begin by making peace with every aspect of our Selves - including our appetites, our hungers and all our physical needs. if we would be healers in the world, begin by loving the individual wounds each of us possess. the more we work to accept - not necessarily to heal - our own woundings, the more aware we become to how our actions and our words affect others.

some people - like mother theresa and nelson mandela - are called to work for peace on a global scale. right now, many people i admire and a few i know personally are preparing to go to one of the most historically war-torn and wounded areas of the world and march for peace. however, peace is not something that can really be imposed from outside. real peace, true peace, the peace that leads to not wanting to harm one's neighbor in the first place, comes in some measure from a deep sense of self-acceptance....of one's WHOLE self, not just the socially acceptable or more readily controllable parts.

the Angels urge all of us to take some time in the midst of the lights and the caroling and the gifting and the gratitude and the chaos to do something kind for yourself that no one else knows to do as well as you. sink and relish and revel in that experience ... give to your Self some of the energy you are doubtlessly expending on everyone and everything else on your lists. throughout the days ahead, be kind and gentle to your Self. listen to the Child who lives in you, and allow her or him to have her holiday, too.

the Angels are all around us and we truly are Loved.

and furthermore, the war will end. blessed be.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

silent night

... but for the churn of the dishwasher, the washing machine and the dryer, that is. the puppies are walked, the tree's watered. the only thing left to do tomorrow is vacuum, fold clothes, wrap presents and bake.

and furthermore, the war will end. blessed be.

Monday, December 21, 2009

hark, the herald angels sing

the longest night of the year is behind us. dawn glimmers on the horizon, a pale gray streak brightening to blue even as i type. from here until next june, the days will lengthen, the sun will strengthen, and the light will return. it won't matter how cold it gets, how blustery. this half of the world, from here on out, is literally growing brighter.

whether or not it grows metaphorically brighter is up to us.

last night our sleep was disturbed by one of those phone calls parents hate to get. i was grateful that no one was injured and there was no loss of property. still, it's the sort of incident that can serve as a serious wake-up call to the young person involved.

hopefully, out of this particular darkness will come a great light.

and furthermore, the war will end. blessed be.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

letting in the Light, or how one witch contemplates christmas and celebrates winter solstice...

despite the dire forecasts - i swear the predictions are getting higher by the hour - i went out and cleaned my front window this morning. as the willows danced in the gusts, and cold nipped at my fingers and ears, i dusted and sprayed and scrubbed and swept last year's dirt away.

it seemed to me a fitting ritual for this time of year, a literal releasing of things that have shriveled and died, so that the light of the newborn sun may better illuminate the space inside the house. i put away the last of the summer decorations, uncovering the pine cones that lay covered in the flowerbox. i replaced them with a fresh layer that jake and i gathered a few weeks ago. the scent of pine still clings to my fingertips. i sprinkled salt across the ledges, across the threshold of the door.

the window, like my world, feels cleaner, fresher, barer, a blank slate ready to be written upon. despite the sound and fury of a culture that would tell me this is the season to spend, spend, spend, the brisk air and soft gray sky whispers to me that this is the season to shed, to release, and to dream.

and furthermore, the war will end. blessed be.

starry starry night

i started to write a blog last night about the progress of my holiday preparations, and then i went outside to walk the puppies.

the sky was absolutely black, the moon a thin silver sliver. the stars glittered like magic dust. i stood and stared, until the cold glazed my cheeks and crept inside the crevices of my clothes, until nothing i thought i had to do seemed very important - or even very pressing - any more.

and furthermore, the war will end. blessed be.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

into the deep

libby had to create a project around a list of virtues or other things she valued. her list went through some iterations, and it was interesting to see what she added or eliminated.

one of the changes she discussed with me was whether or not imagination was a worthy substitute for passion, which was on her original list. i don't know that much about passion, she said, with the unconscious wistfulness of someone who is sweet 16 and never been kissed. but what do you think about imagination, mommy? is that something to be valued?

i think its the most important thing there is, i said. without imagination, nothing that humans make could ever exist. everything, even passion, begins in someone's imagination first, as an idea or an image first. everything - even those things that are the most technical or concrete - begins in someone's head long before anyone attempts to turn it into physical reality.

i'm glad you think i made a good choice, said libby.

and that's why the first candle i light, three days before the "official" solstice, is a black one.

and furthermore, the war - all of them - will end. blessed be.

vaulting into christmas

sometime early last week it occured to me that while my attention was wholly absorbed in redecorating meggie's room and finishing up her bathroom, for the rest of the world, it's the "holiday season." gifts, baked goods, decorations, stockings, cards,... all these things are appearing at an alarming rate in the wider world outside my front door.

today meggie and i made what i would consider a serious inroad into the detritus that's clogging the lower level of the house, and through which anyone entering has to navigate. i have my Master List in hand, i have perhaps two-thirds of my presents bought and wrapped.

in recognition of the solstice celebration which i begin tomorrow, i swept the threshold and the entry way of the house and sprinkled salt across the threshold. mindful of the bitter turn the weather has taken, i also spread birdseed along the edge of the woods. tomorrow i'll hang some evergreens around the door... i've got to get up to the attic to find the ribbon :).

for a pantheistic neo-pagan witch like me, the solstice begins tomorrow at dusk with the burning of a black candle. why black? come back tomorrow, Gentle Reader, and i'll explain.

and furthermore, the war will end. blessed be.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

what meggie saw

finally i can show's meggie's new room!!!

happy (belated) birthday, libby jo

where's my birthday blog, libby wanted to know.

i couldn't blog about your birthday, i said. i was keeping too many secrets. the trouble with secrets is that you need a really good memory, and the older i get, the more i see the remnants of mine disintegrating. its the reason my blog has been so neglected of late - keeping the secret of meg's room, AND the secret of her early return on libby's birthday - strained my old dendrites to the breaking point.

and really, who expected my kids actually READ their birthday blogs?

it tickled me no end to know at least one of them does.

a few weeks ago, we found a cache of pictures stuffed into an old envelope. i'm not sure where they came from, but when we looked through them, most of them were of libby's birth. there was katie at 13, jamie at 8 and meg, nearly 6 and a half. and libby, of course, tiny and red and wrinkled, and me, glowing with the joy that only a new mother knows.

it tickled me to see how happy i looked, how interested the kids were as they gathered around the newest arrival. it tickled me to see the faces of the old friends who witnessed libby's birth - since all the kids were there, they needed support people of their own. the father, theoretically, was there to support the mother. (and theoretical is the only kind of support the kids and i got from mister ex.)

i think it tickled libby, too.

so happy birthday, libby jo, from the mommy who's glad you showed up.

and furthermore, the war will end. blessed be.

Monday, December 14, 2009

first peek!

detail of the tile:

view into moo's room:

the shower:

what moo will see first:

and furthermore, the war will end. blessed be.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

im so excited...

...and i just can't hide it... not for too much longer, anyways.

one of the hardest things about keeping secrets is remembering who not to tell. when you're in the habit of spilling at least a part of your guts every morning on your daily blog, it can get hard to remember what not to tell. so that's the main reason for the long silence...i haven't wanted to accidentally spill any of the proverbial beans.

but... but... meg's soon to be out of computer range... libby's turning 16 tomorrow. Beloved's downstairs, obsessing over lines involving paint. i told him to call me when he was done. im thinking i'll be posting pictures soon.

and furthermore, the war will end. blessed be.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

in thy mother's womb

four years before my brother was born, my mother got pregnant. i was 13, and i remember being very upset.

it wasn't because i was jealous, even though i knew immediately that everyone would think so. it was because i knew my mother was going to have a baby with mental disablities, and i had enough to cope with. thirteen was a very turbulent year in my world and i remember being angry not at my mother, but at God.

You can't do this to me now, i remember thinking with some awareness of my temerity. i'm not ready for it and neither is anyone else.

the Powers That Be must've agreed, because a few weeks later, my mother had a miscarriage. i remember feeling three things. one was a sense of relief. the other was the knowledge that i could never share my feelings with anyone. and the third was that this was only a reprieve. Heaven had heard, and Heaven had agreed that the time was not yet.

but i knew what was coming.

the next year, my sophmore year in high school, i walked into the first day of biology class, and i opened the textbook lying on the desk. the page fell open to the section describing human genetic anomalies, and the first caption my eyes fell on read "Downs' Syndrome." i heard the Little Voice say clear as a bell, "That."

the year after, my mother got pregnant again. i was junior and had hit my stride. school was good, life was under control. i remember how the world seemed to pause when she delivered the news, at the top of her lungs. "will you kids stop bickering? im pregnant and expecting a baby!"

shocked into silence, my brother john and i just looked at each other. but i knew. and yes, i remember thinking, im ready. i didn't exactly know what i was ready for, but i knew there was an element of my consent involved. yes, i said to the Voice, which seemed to suddenly be very Present, and waiting. yes, i said, i will.

my little brother, david, and i have a special relationship. on the surface, we would seem to have little in common - he's 34, a life-long bachelor, into bowling, horseback riding and opera. i'm a serial monogamist, never picked up a bowling ball in my life, am allergic to horses, and opera makes me itch. and then there's the fact that david will never read above a 3rd grade level.

in actual fact, however, david and i have a lot in common. we both love irish music. we both like to spend the mornings writing. he is the most easygoing of spirits, the gentlest and the kindest of souls. he is the bellwether by which i may judge every other human being. those who are unkind to david are likely - sooner or later - to be unkind to me.

and furthermore, the war will end. blessed be.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

full court press

the clock is ticking and the countdown begins. i have to be out of here by eight am on wednesday morning. half of the items on my list are accomplished, the other half await the assistance of a Strong Young Man with Power Tools.

as i observed to my friend, allison, once, the older you get, the harder it is to rustle up strong young men with power tools. this is yet another reason why it is good to have straight daughters or gay sons if you are going to turn into an old lady like i am.

at any rate, i've accomplished much:

meg's closet is painted, reorganized, and a new curtain installed - one that doesn't drag on the floor :).

meg's dressers are painted and polyurethaned - with acrylic this time, so they won't yellow.

the mirror is hung, the paintings have been picked - many of them already hung - and where the wallshelves are to be arranged has been decided. there are new baskets and boxes and dried flowers. another day or two (or three) and she'll be able to walk in and see a whole new room.... less than two and a half weeks at this point... she will.

and furthermore, the war will end. blessed be.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

two tickets to paradise

the air was balmy this morning when i walked the puppies, the wind roaring in the trees all bluster, no sting. this afternoon promises to be mild and sunny.

four years ago this morning, Beloved and i went down to the beach, and at a spot where a fresh water river spills into the ocean, promised to love, honor and cherish each other (foresaking all others)until death we do part. no one knew what we had planned... our hawaiian vacation was just a vacation, as far as anyone at home knew.

and yet, as reverend koko, the hawaiian kahuna who married us, declared, when you do it the way we did, you do it in front of Everyone.

no one, least of all me, expected the experience to be as transcendent as it was.

the sun's shining now, soft and gold as in hawaii, and the wind is balmy as the trades that blow ceaselessly across the islands. the trees are dancing. it's like a kiss from mama pele.

and furthermore, the war WILL end. (i wish someone would put a copy of the Art of War in the presidential potty. mister obama could use some impartial advice.) blessed, blessed be.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

deep december

the days have been mild, but the sky is black as midnight by five pm. there's three more weeks til the turning point of the year. i've been grateful for the mild temperatures.

i've put in MY request for a reasonably mild winter. let's have a few snow falls... call them dustings... nothing more than two or three inches so it can melt during the day and not be a problem to people who have to drive at rush hour. the older i get, the less i like the concept of slippery surfaces.

among the challenges i've been facing in the last few weeks included dinner for 23 on thanksgiving. i didn't cook as much of it i might normally - my mother assured me that my sister didn't want to feel left out and so i had her bring a lot of dishes, including stuffing, home-made cranberry sauce of the sort my kids refuse to eat, butternut squash and a broccoli-cauliflower casserole. andi, my brother in law, also made focaccia bread.

we had two turkeys - one my son and son in law deep fried and one i roasted. my mother peeled a mountain of potatoes and we had mashed potatoes to feed an army. i made peas and the gravy. a dear friend who was brave enough to join us brought a wonderful mango tart AND a chocolate raspberry tart. my friend ric the chef (he would be quick to tell you he's not REALLY a chef - but he cooks like one) sent mini pumpkin cheesecakes and maple sugar cookies. the beer, wine and apple cider flowed copiously and i think it's safe to say a grand good time was had by all. it took me three days to recuperate, but thanks to my mother, i didnt have to worry about cleaning the house.

in terms of decorating, meg's room is finally getting underway. joe the builder was under the impression she was gone all YEAR. however, my friend karin is coming over to push the project even further along - she's painting the room today. im really excited to see the color... its a fresh, clean aquamarine color is how i think i would best describe, more blue than green, but with just a touch of teal to make it interesting.

i'm up to ten chapters and nearly 30,000 words in the novel i've been working on. im trying not to get too excited but i'm really liking the story. (of course, i like all my stories.) im keeping my fingers crossed that karen and i get some positive news on the Angel book soon.

in terms of the Angel book, as soon as i stop following the Guidelines, the writing pretty much grinds to a halt. so here i am... climbing once more back on the Angel wagon - karen has developed some cool new charts and i am eager to put them to use. i've been doing a fair number of readings, and was asked to come to the granby village health shop in granby on thursdays, to do the same kinds of readings and reiki sessions i offer at Passiflora in new hartford.

we've scheduled a two week vacation in hawaii in january with a few extra nights in san francisco with my daddy. last weekend we bought our christmas tree. i have a box of christmas stuff to put up and soon we'll do the tree.

i have a Big Surprise brewing for libby's 16th birthday... but please, if you know it... don't blow it!

and furthermore, the war will end - despite our corporate-military complex's best efforts to continue the conflicts. blessed be.

Friday, November 20, 2009

and now a word from the cranky crone

ten years ago at some point this year, i very politely refused my doctor's recommendation to have a mammogram. i had just turned 40.

you know 1 out of every 8 women gets breast cancer, he advised, very earnestly.

i looked him in the eye and said, you know what i think that really means?

what? he said.

seven out of eight don't, i said. i'll play those odds.

ten years later and im proud to say that not only have my boobs NEVER been mashed in the monster masher, but i'm still here, still alive and breast cancer free.

luck, contrariness or good genes?

you can put it down to anything you want.

just this week, the medical establishment conceded, for all intents and purposes, that i'm right. and you know what? im REALLY glad i didn't waste one minute of my forties hanging out in a waiting room for a mammogram. i never wasted one minute of my time rearranging my schedule to accomodate some machine's availability, and im really glad i never wasted one second of the last ten years of my life living in unnecessary fear or anxiety. im even happier i protected my hard-working girls from needless discomfort.

not only that, look at all the money i've saved the health care industry.

and how did i do it?

call me crazy, but i think it's because i just said no.

and furthermore, the war will end. blessed be.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

oh, what a week

i haven't blogged much recently and i've felt bad about it - not that i haven't had things to say or thoughts to share - but much of my writing energy has been drawn in two directions - the Eating the Angel Way book, and this new-old work of fiction.

with the help of some new writing buddies, and a bit of input from some old ones, im excited by the progress of the story. the direction it's taken is much different from the one i originally envisioned, but i think that's one reason i don't mind letting ideas stew as long as i let them. it's one reason why, when i feel the impetus to back off, to let an idea rest, i do. it's frustrating to a degree, and it means that there's a lot simmering on the back burner in my head, and it means there're a lot of ideas that have yet to really see more than a glimpse of the light of day.

but Rachel is emerging slowly but surely,and the story is spinning itself out in ways that's taking me by surprise, so i find myself beguiled by it, drawn in, entranced. i don't know if im communicating anything of that to a reader, of course, but for right now, ive been enjoying it so much, i don't want to stop.

i've also been working on the Meg's-Room Project - all the furniture i can reach that needed to be painted is painted, as are her wall shelves. her wall shelves are painted the same color as the wall, and i am very pleased to see how bright and fresh a color it is. even her big sister approved. im hoping the contractor gets to the bathroom before thanksgiving.

the number of readings and reiki sessions i've been doing has begun to increase, as well, so that i seem to be doing as many readings and reiki sessions as i can comfortably manage. in my free moments, i've been enjoying carnivale and hunkering down for winter.

so that's what i've been up to, Gentle Readers... how about you?

Monday, November 9, 2009

just another magic monday

these last few days have been the kind that only make me remember it's november when the sun sets so early it surprises me and the chill in the air is nearly instantaneous.

my decorating proceeds apace - meg's furniture, at least the stuff i can reach - is painted. the colors are picked, the new fixtures for the bath are delivered. we await now is Joe the Builder - who is supposed to come this week. i plan to begin my sewing projects i run out of things to paint.

i have over 9000 words of my key west story. i've polished the first three chapters as much i need to, i think... im getting a good handle on the main character, and the others seem to be developing. i'm going to move forward later on.

this afternoon libby and i have some errands to run, some shopping to do. i picked up a few stocking stuffers at marshall's the other day - it's getting to be That Time of Year.

and furthermore, the war will end. blessed be.

Friday, November 6, 2009

freaky friday

a few weeks ago, i gave a brief talk at one of the local universities on, among other things, the difference between witches, wiccans and pagans. it was a wide-ranging lecture, and we covered a lot of areas - the after-life, reincarnation, the tarot and quantum reality among other things. i had a lot of fun and i think most of the students enjoyed my talk too

the professor who invited me to come mentioned a television series he thought i'd like that wasn't on any more... called Carnivale. set during the Great Depression, it's about a troupe of carnival workers - or carnies - who travel from town to town.

check it out, he advised. i think you'll like it.

i thought i would too, but all my efforts to acquire season one were thwarted for one reason or another. i resolved to wait until the library was kind enough to call me.

until today, when i found season one waiting for me at passiflora, thanks to ron...i've already enjoyed the first episode. i especially liked the part where the tarot card reader says to the guy with the healing ability in his hands, "these people in these towns... it's like they're asleep. they go from house to job to house... just sleeping. and we wake them up."

i'm all for anything that wakes people up.

and furthermore, the war will end. blessed be.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

blogging for peace

today is guy fawkes day, as well as blogblast for peace day and the juxtaposition of these two events makes me wonder what message the people who chose today of all days to blog about peace might really be sending.

one of the more interesting - to my mind, anyways, - movies of recent years that's been largely overlooked is the film V. set in some bleak near-future britain, it's about a guy who's so disfigured by what the government has done to him and so furious about the living conditions, he decides to finish what guy fawkes started in the seventeenth century - blowing up parliament. by the end of the movie, the audience understands this to be not an act of civil disobedience but one absolutely called for and justified.

no one riots as old ben comes down - they just watch in silence as the walls come tumbling down.

and no, i dont think the way to peace is to blow the government, ours or anyone else's. i think we have to be willing to change our beliefs, our worldviews and our mindsets in such a radical way that most can't even imagine how such a thing could be possible. trained to believe that we should only be sure of what we can see with our five senses, how can we trust our imaginations to lead us into places we have not gone before?

and yet, despite the results of tuesday's election, i believe peace is possible. i believe peace is achievable, on both a personal and global scale. i believe that in order to do that, we must be willing to "blow up" all about the past we have been told to believe in but is patently showing itself to be outdated at the least and toxic to children and other living creatures at its worst.

and i don't believe this has to involve explosives and other dangerous accoutrements.

what i do believe it involves connections, a lot of imagination, and the willingness to turn all that we collectively agree is "good" on its side and see if it really, really is, or if it is because people have told us for so long they expect us to agree.

i believe that peace will be a reality when there's enough of a critical mass of a new world vision, one that might not even yet exist, but that i believe is struggling to be born. i refuse to allow the voices of the hatemongers and the fearmongers - the Lush Limpballs and the Phlegm Flecks of this world - to color or to cast what i can begin to imagine as anything other than what i know it can be. i believe that some day there will be enough who share my vision and my belief to tip the scales. if there are enough of us who believe in peaceful cooperation and coexistence, perhaps eventually the others will simply Go Away.

however, if we dont and we manage to create the Armageddon so many of us appear to want to believe in, i personally believe that world peace will someday be achieved.

in a hundred million millenia after humanity has blasted itself and the planet into a nuclear wasteland, consciousness will rise again in the form of sentient cockroaches. i think we're going to thank ourselves some day, as we munch our way peacefully through the mounds of garbage we're so thoughtfully creating. we're going to admire the ability of humanity to not only obliterate itself with the thoroughness of the dinosaurs, but to leave behind such fertile soil from which the mighty cockroach - made invincible by exposure to generations of our chemicals - at last arises to take its rightful place upon the trash heaps of the world.

so in a way, i guess you could say im crazy enough to believe that peace is not only possible, but inevitable. which is why i say with such confidence that someday, the war WILL end. blessed, blessed be.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

all in a day's work

it's not that i haven't had chances to blog in the last few weeks - it's that when i've sat down, i've been TARRED, as my little brother david likes to say. really TARRED, bone TARRED, and this time change hasn't helped.

the other reason i haven't blogged much is because i've been writing other stuff - though maybe rewriting is a better term. a story i've been kicking around for ten years - ever since i noticed this house about an hour outside of key west - is coalescing in a whole new way that i didn't expect.

i've been enjoying it so much that when i haven't been too TARRED, i've been too entranced by the story. like a newborn baby, i can't stop myself from touching it, from fussing with it. today, however, with the moon so full, i felt blocked - i have learned i don't write well under full moons, and thus don't expect it of myself.

i write most easily as the moon wanes into the new moon until a few days before the full. (this story began to flow, in fact, with the last new moon.) today, instead of writing, i did three readings, met with a young woman from the CCSU lecture i gave last week, and had dinner with a friend who is rapidly becoming very dear. i also made two kinds of chicken soup and snuggled Baby Jake for most of the day - the poor little guy continues to swarm with germs of the common cold variety.

tomorrow im planning on going back to the key west story - im up to chapter four and have nearly 9000 words. it's not quite the nanowrimo goal, but it's close. how bout you, Gentle Readers? have you noticed any correlation to your creativity to the phases of the moon, the change of seasons or hailey's comet? anything at all?

just curious...

and furthermore, the war will end. blessed be.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

back to the future

the old sun is brilliant today, the mist has burned off and the gold light spills across the still-green lawn. most of the trees, though, are bare... only the silver willow clings to its yellowing leaves.

this morning, i had an appointment with libby's guidance counselor to discuss libby's Future - her Plan after high school. where i come from, the Plan after high school is as preordained as the direction the sun sets every night, but this year, i like the sense of ritual surrounding it.

it's the last time i'll have to do it.

and furthermore, the war will end. blessed be.

Friday, October 30, 2009

tune in if you can.. .

to 90.5 FM... at 1:00 PM... i'll be speaking to colin mcenroe and chion wolf about halloween and other assorted merriment and mayhem...!

thank you to patrice for the suggestion! :)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

how writing saved my life

the summer i met my first husband, i was working on my first novel, and according to him, most of the people who knew me then thought i was crazy. (my children, if they read this, will most likely wonder how anything has changed.)

however, shortly after we married, i stopped writing.

i'm not sure how, i'm not sure why. i know i was very young, and a writer needs a certain amount of experience from which to draw in order to have something to write about. when i was first married, all my stories seemed flat and uninteresting. and so, i stopped.

years passed. i birthed babies, kept house, chased bad guys, taught aerobics, ran a daycare, dabbled in interior decorating, and mediated peace between neighbors, landlords, tenants and other tormented souls. i volunteered at the library for successive children, but where other parents read stories to their classes, i told stories to mine... stories no one had ever heard before, because i made them up.

along the way, i supported my ex body and soul through law school and his daily demons. nothing i tried i ever really succeeded at, mostly, because - as i realize in retrospect - mister ex sabotaged my success at any critical turn.

and then one day, i got an Idea. it was the kind of Idea i hadn't had in a very long time... in more than eleven years to be exact. it was the kind of Idea that spawned more. As more and more interesting ideas came to me, i saw that they came complete with names and needs, dreams and desires. it was the first time in a long time i felt the sensation of Something trying to eat its way out of my head.

so i bought a notebook. i carried it everywhere. when i stopped at red lights, i wrote in it, quick jottings that captured just a phrase, a place, a thought. then one labor day weekend, on the beach in ocean city, i turned to a fresh page in my notebook, and i wrote the first sentence of my first manuscript.

are you crazy, asked my ex.

i think i am, i answered.

i knew there was no turning back. when mister ex tried to sabotage my writing, he found a very different opponent from the one who had cowed so readily before. when he demanded i stop, i laughed. when he tried to guilt me into it (you wouldn't be the first woman to give up her career for her family, he said), i told him writing isn't what i do, writing is what i am. when he accused me of having lesbian affairs with the people in my writing groups (i didn't know any male writers), i reminded him i hoped i'd be able to tell oprah i'd succeeded because of him and not in spite of him.

when he threatened to divorce me (six times in four weeks) i filed first.

the year my first novel came out was the most terrifying year of my life. i had hardly any money, and an angry ex who was determined to punish me by using his advantage as a lawyer. i had no idea where i was going to live, or how i was going to live when i got there.

but i had my writing, my children, my family, my friends...and very shortly afterward (as a result of that first novel) Beloved.

and that, as it's turned out, was enough.

and furthermore, the war will end. blessed be.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

what i know for sure

oprah asks... in this moment, what do you know for sure?

1. i know my parents love me.
2. i know i love them.
3. i know i love my kids... and most of the time, im almost certainly sure... they love me.
4. i know that whatever happens, it's all going to be okay.
5. i know that having stuff doesn't matter, it's the people and the connections you have that do.
6. i know that love doesn't have physical boundaries.
7. i know that i'm here to do whatever it is i'm here to do, and i'm not leaving a second before its done.
8. i know weather is never worth getting upset about.
9. i know that being kind is more important than being right.
10. i know Beloved loves me .... and most of the time, im almost certainly sure... he knows i love him.

so how about YOU, Gentle Reader? in this moment, what is it you know for sure?

and furthermore, the war will end. blessed be.

what dreams may come

so very, very much to do suddenly... just as i would prefer the world to slow down and let me settle into a nice fictive dream-state. i can't complain too loudly, though... it's all of my own devising and choosing. i feel like a gardener suddenly overwhelmed by a plethora of plenty. it's all quite wonderful in its own way, but wow, is there a lot of it.

i pulled the Archetype cards that represent monk, mystic, shaman and warrior from the Caroline Myss Archetype deck, and now that i'm aware of Them, i can feel them quite clearly, hovering around the edges. i pulled my 12 "sacred contract" archetype cards, as well, and i can see how those energy patterns which i brought into my life merge and morph and shift into these others.

i have agreed to be a guinea pig of sorts for my friend carla of Wings For You Coaching, who is learning a new method of creatively coaching people. as part of that process, i will be posting a blog every week about what i've learned and what new insights i've had into my own writing process.

this new-old story that's suddenly emerged is going well - im frustrated by the lack of certain empirical knowledge - florida estate law to be exact - but at least i have friends who might be able to point me in the right direction.

the rest of the Angel chapters are gnawing away ... begging to be born. karen's first chart is perfect for chapter three, but part of the problem is that i've been so focused on decorating and painting and thanksgiving for 30 (yes, possibly) i've fallen off the Angel wagon, so to speak, and have been paying less than perfect attention to the Guidelines.

my plan for today - after the Writers' Circle meeting, and before the tarot readings im doing tonight - is to take some time and set some priorities and some goals for the next several weeks.

and furthermore, the war will end. blessed be.

Monday, October 19, 2009

monday musings

the air was very crisp and the sky was very clear when i walked the puppies this morning. i noticed orion first, just above me, and then i noticed how brightly the morning star was shining, so low in the eastern sky, it seemed about to touch the edge of the indigo horizon. it was still too early for even the faintest hint of dawn.

in the tarot, The Star is the seventeenth in the major arcana, and for me, it means endless possibility and bright shining hope. it's an optimistic card, one i am generally glad to see in readings for myself and others.

on the other hand, in Christian mythology, Lucifer is identified with the Morning Star.... before he fell, of course. in the tarot, the Devil is all that we fear.

the air smelled like pine cones, the puppies woofed and snorted at the underbrush, reluctant to come in, even for breakfast. i stood and thought about how to work with both these energies in the coming week.

then i noticed orion again, just above my shoulder.

and furthermore, the war will end. blessed be.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

writing as a spiritual path

some years ago, when i first began to embrace my psychic and intuitive abilities, i was somewhat amazed to find how easily things came to me. i could take a class, attend a workshop, read a book or hear a lecture - and wow - i "got" it.

i could find my power animals, i could talk to my spirit guides, i could talk to dead people once i got over the shock. shamanic journeying, guided meditation, sensing the energy of crystals or chakras - no problem. past life regression? easy for me as falling off a log. understanding the energy of trees, animals and rocks... i could do that too. it was almost embarrassing.

a friend asked me once, "when they tell you to see a red seven, do you see a red seven?"

"what shade and how big would you like the seven to be?" i replied.

i knew it was connected to my writing. i knew there was something about the fact i spent so many hours and so many days - since i could read - immersed in another kind of reality, but i didn't know why. i had no language to articulate what i felt in my bones.

then a few days ago, i happened to pick up the book, Writing as a Spiritual Path, and i found my answer. when writing is something you ARE as opposed to something you DO, the writer, author jill jepsen suggests, combines the energies of mystic, monk, shaman and warrior, all rolled together.

i'm looking forward to exploring this book more deeply.

and furthermore, the war will end. blessed be.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

shopping spree

when i was a child, i had two sets of clothes. there were the clothes my grandmother bought me because they were what she wanted me to wear, and then there were the clothes she bought me because they were what i wanted to wear. frequently, she and my mother vetoed the clothes i wanted the most and the fact i wear almost nothing but jeans now is probably due to the fact i wasn't even allowed to own a pair until i was old enough to go to a store and buy them for myself.

my grandmother, however, was a woman who raised the art of shopping to a religion. when my grandmother took me shopping, we went from store to store, rooting out bargains with the ruthless focus of a shaolin monk. she may have censored my wardrobe when i was kid, but she taught me a necessary skill in this world of too-too much.

one consequence of cleaning out my drawers and closets at the end of last winter is that i found myself with nothing to wear this week when the season suddenly turned chilly. so last night, while Beloved snored in front of the yankee game, and libby went off to see a movie with her friends, i took myself off for some seriously needed retail therapy.

over the years, i've learned to shop mostly by feel. the first thing i do, after the color has caught my eye, is feel the fabric. if i don't like the way it feels - if it's too slippery or slimey or itchy - i pass it by no matter how much i might like color or cut. the effect this has had on my wardrobe is that i tend to wear clothes that dont feel too much different from comfy pajamas - and i'm sure my children would tell you they mostly look that way too.

another thing my grandmother taught me is that there's nothing more satisfying than a shopping expedition that's NECESSARY. i love the feeling of not only wanting new clothes, but actually needing them as well. i came home with two sweaters (a cuddly blue cardigan and a purple striped crew), two turtlenecks in white and plum, three thermal t-shirts in gray, pink and plum, one black t-shirt, and three woolrich blouses - one in black corduroy, one in chamois flannel, and one in an aqua blue swirly print that made me happy to look at it.

they'll all look great with jeans.

and furthermore, the war will end. blessed be.

Friday, October 16, 2009

snow falling on flowers

it's friday, finally, after what's felt like a head-long rush of a week. there just weren't enough days this week, and not enough hours in those days. i don't know what happened to seems i blinked and they went by.

the next few days are so busy i'm looking forward to next tuesday.

this morning brings a welcome moment of calm while improbably, snow falls in big white flakes. improbably, it's sticking in puffy clumps speared by long blades of too-green grass, and blood-red rose petals sprinkled overtop. i'm looking at a three-season tableau - summer, fall and winter all overlain into one bizarre kaleidescope of nature.

i'm sure there's a metaphor in that.

and furthermore, the war must end. blessed be.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

blue room

that's what libby came home to.... a very, very blue room, courtesy of my friend, karen nemri, who is - in addition to being a magical painter - an amazing healer and channel. libby's room was finished in what felt to me like a blink...karen refused to let me anywhere near it, so that may have had something to do with it :).

libby's putting it all back together as i type this. i have some painting to do of shelves and mirror frame and bedside table, but its minor compared to how long the room would've taken me. i also need to iron her curtains and wash the bedskirt. eventually, hopefully not before too long, i'll find her a pretty area rug.

however, what's even more astonishing than the magic karen made happen is the snow falling outside and sticking (??!!!) to the lawn. it reminds me of our phantom summer - the one we never had. that was presaged by three extrordinarily hot days in april, almost six months ago to the day. so, until confronted with evidence to the contrary, i choose to believe this unseasonably early snow is just the one taste of winter we're getting. :)

and yes, i plan to keep telling myself that as long as i possibly can.

as my sister once observed... i live in my own little world. and it's okay - they know me here. :)

and furthermore, the war will end. blessed be.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

wow, it's wednesday?!

i can't quite believe it's wednesday already. the weekend is shaping up to be a busy one, with writing-related activities that continue through monday. today we're celebrating baby jake's birthday (for a truly poignant birthday blog, please read meg's, here) with a few balloons and a birthday cake.

in terms of progress on the house projects, the new fixtures for meg's bathroom are sitting on the driveway, and joe the builder is calling us back to let us know his schedule over the next few days. what joe says will determine my plan of attack over the next few weeks.

however, tomorrow my friend karin is coming over to help paint libby's room.... assuming libby can pick a color, and by next week, libby's new look should be completed... i'll post pictures when it's done.

and furthermore, the war will end. blessed be.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

back from the Big Apple

we're home. the puppies are snoozing in the sun, libby's cuddled up on the couch. Beloved is romping through Pimpworld, and the yankees play at 7.

it's been a great weekend so far, even though it had it's moments.

once again, i was disappointed by the Dream Hotel. other than the erotic murals on the walls, there's absolutely nothing to recommend the place as far as i can tell. the rooms are bare to the point of spartan, and the blue and white decor only makes them feel angular and cold. the furniture is black and silver, and all right angles - there's not a curve in ANYTHING - except the drape of the comforter over the bed. so that's not really a curve in my opinion - it's a softened right angle which just isn't the same. if this is really deepak chopra's idea of what a relaxing hotel room should be like, i have to seriously question if he really does understand as much as he obviously thinks he does.

the fact that the shower head had a coating of slime and there was a noticeable layer of dust under the console only heightened my determination that we not return. Beloved says he likes the place, but i think this is a case of him being led astray by the little brain below his belt. i think what he really likes are the erotic murals - but they're all in the public areas. the rooms - which is what i think matters in a hotel - totally do not live up to anything promised.

on the other hand, we found a taxi just as we walked around the corner and we found seats at the bar at carmine's, that came complete with a bartender who kept us well supplied with just the right amount of food and drink before the play.

Beloved deserves a Best Long-Suffering Husband Award for the determination with which he threw himself into his attempt to enjoy hamlet. he seriously studied - reading all kinds of reviews and synopses to give himself a head's-up. unfortunately, where i found the lines like old friends, Beloved finds them as clear as old crud. so he tried - i could see he tried, and he only nodded out a couple times before intermission. things get livelier in the second half - ophelia goes crazy, hamlet rolls around with his mother on her bed, people start to die.

was there any part you liked at all, i asked wistfully as we strode through the crowd like fortinbras through denmark.

oh i loved the ending, said Beloved. it reminded me of your books.

and furthermore, the war will end. blessed be.

Friday, October 9, 2009

practically perfect in every way

... that's what yesterday was. it was sunny and warm and breezy and bright. i walked the puppies up and down the driveway a couple times in my new super-sneakers. the orthotics make the shoes so comfy i can't wait to fully break them in and get back to my walking routine. neither, i think, can buddy - who needs to lose at least 30 pounds. (oh, for the life of one of my dogs.)

i gathered a big basket of pine cones, and a few herbs. there's a patch of thyme growing obligingly by the front path - i'm going to dig it up and bring it in. i finished painting meg's closet and began putting things away in it - neatly. it's coming together really well. the stuff for the bathroom has already been delivered and we just need to coordinate with joe the builder.

i think i discovered an elderberry bush growing in front of the house - i need to take some pictures to confirm it with my herbalist friends before i get too many crazy ideas in my head. i spent some time singing and playing the piano, and considering my writing. i took another look at the introduction to the Angel manuscript and think i may make a few tweaks. i went to bed with a tummy full of warm milk and puff pastry twists.

in fact, it was such a nice day yesterday, i'll take another twenty years or so, please :).

and furthermore, the war will end. blessed be.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

the Angels on empaths and "brown" foods...

Empaths are getting a lot of press lately. Lately almost everyone I know claims to be one. One even showed up on this season's Ghost Whisperer. (I used to love that show - used to being the operative phrase.)

An empath is someone who is extraordinarily sensitive to the feelings of others AND is able to transmute those feelings into something better. You leave the presence of an empath feeling better about yourself or your life, often for some reason you can't quite name. Empaths are like deep sea sponges saturated with so much divine love and grace it leaks out to everyone. Not much frightens them because nothing shakes the inward connection they have to the Divine.

Such truly evolved empaths are still relatively rare. However, ALL people have the ability to develop their empathy skills - empathy, after all, is a fundamental part of our human nature. Children who fail to develop empathy turn into serial killers, narcissists, and sociopaths. Part of the "Big Waking Up" as the Angels sometimes call the process we are all going through is that more and more of us are aware of our empathic abilities.

Newly aware empaths will sometimes turn to foods - specifically brown foods* full of cushioning fats and softening sweets - to create a natural buffer between themselves and a world they feel too intensely. This is why many lightworkers, especially as they begin to develop their abilities, develop some extra cushioning. Women at menopause typically put on a few extra pounds for many reasons, and among them is that psychically, a woman is entering her most sensitive time of life.

The energy of brown foods is grounding. Some indigenous cultures believe that infants, until they're weaned or turn a certain age, aren't fully "human" and may not even give them names. What this reflects is that until a child eats "brown" food, his energy body is not fully anchored into his flesh.

Just as under our skins, we have a kind of spider-man suit called the fascia which holds us all together, there's a similiar layer of energy that connects the energy body into the physical body. This layer is directly nourished by brown foods energetically, so eating brown foods literally grounds us into our own flesh. (No wonder eating too many of them will make us fat faster than any other kind of food!)

Thus, all evolving empaths must learn to fill themselves not with brown foods or other people's emotions but with an awareness of the Divine Love that emanates from the spark of Spirit within all of us. If you completely saturate a sponge with clean water, it can't pick up anything else.

An evolved empath lifts the energy all around her, and is not brought down by the presence of negative or sad or depressing people. Such a person might never ENJOY those people's company, but she is not affected personally.

Therefore, it's especially important for empathic people to pay close attention to the brown foods they eat and to eat brown foods with awareness of the kind of energy they contain. Wholesome grains and starches provide not just fuel for what we do in the world, but also energy to nourish the connection between our physical bodies and soul-bodies as well.

*brown foods include grains and starchy vegetables such as corn and potatoes.

and furthermore, the war will end. blessed be.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

amazing advice...

... from one sister to another. i couldn't have said this stuff better myself... Meg In Ireland...and then go read Ask Annie over at Sited & Blogged....

and furthermore, the war will end. blessed be.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

blue-blankie blue

when i was very little, i had a blanket. it was blue, and very soft, and over the years, the color faded to a soft shade of bluish gray and the flannel felt as fluid as silk. my blanket went with me to england and to college, folded small, tucked in a drawer, but always somewhere near. i brought my first three babies home in it.

when meg was born, i didn't think i'd have any more children, and so i let her have it, as "her" blankie. if anyone loved the blankie more than me, it was meg.

until one weekend when she was three, her father took her and her older siblings off on a camping trip. meg took her blankie, mostly because she took it everywhere. she didn't come back with it, mostly because her father, who knew how much she loved it, made sure it "disappeared." never mind that it was MY blankie, too.

meg and i both cried for the blankie, but i took comfort in the fact the blankie had been left behind in a forest, where it would decompose and go back to the ground, and perhaps, warm a bunny or maybe a baby bird.

this week, i've started work on meg's room. we've moved beyond planning and packing and into painting. today i started on her closet. the only hint im giving is... blue-blankie blue.

and furthermore, the war will end. blessed be.

Monday, October 5, 2009

granny annie cooks

this afternoon, i hosted a dear friend for lunch. although i'd made plans with her a while ago, on saturday, my friend's mom died. although the lady in question was in her 90's, and my friend was as well-prepared as anyone could be, i could sense that my friend's entire energy system was reeling under the hit. so, mindful that her root and heart chakras were experiencing the brunt, i prepared this meal for us to share.

butternut squash-apple soup:
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 tbsp garlic, minced
1 tbsp butter
6 cups cubed peeled butternut squash
2 apples, peeled and chopped
1 box (32 oz) vegetable broth
2 tsp fresh thyme or 1 tsp dried thyme
1 cup light cream

in a large saucepan coated with cooking spray or rubbed with olive oil, saute the onion and garlic in butter until tender. add the squash, apple, broth and thyme. bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 45 - 50 minutes until squash is tender. using a potato masher, mash the squash and apple. add a tablespoon or so to the cream. heat the cream in the microwave for 30 - 45 second. add to soup slowly. once you add the cream, do not allow to boil.

grilled bacon, tomato and sweet basil sandwiches:
lightly toast four slices of bread. layer broad whole basil leaves, tomato slices and one and a half strips of oscar mayer prepared bacon. brush outside of bread with olive oil and grill in 2 -3 tbsp of olive oil over medium heat until the outside is brown and crispy and the basil is wilted.

apple-almond crisp:
peel and slice four granny smith apples. arrange in buttered pie pan. top with a crumb mixture of 1/2 cup flour, 1/2 cup oats, 1 stick softened butter, 1/2 brown sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon. sprinkle 1/4 cup slivered almonds over all and bake at 375 for 25- 30 minutes. serve warm with whipped cream, creme fraiche, or clotted cream.

to complete the rainbow, and soothe both our souls, i served lavender tea.

sometimes you just have to brag...

here's a post my irish moo wrote... made me cry, even...Meg In Ireland...

weekend wrap-up

i got a lot done this weekend, considering i spent all saturday having fun and hanging out with my friend. libby's desk and bookcase are painted, stenciled, polyurethaned AND put away neatly in her room with all her stuff. i can see that the interior of the desk shelves might benefit from being painted the same color as her walls - which she decided on... thank goddess.

the boys got all the other furniture moved and sorted. this week im painting meg's closet. i decided i'll start there and work out. my son in law will come and help me do the prep and finishing work, but first i have to make some room.

this week im working on chapter four of Eating... the Angel Way and interviewing the fourth of my main characters. so far im finding Rachel and Evie most intriguing.

and furthermore, the war will end. blessed be.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

what i'm making...

... is progress. slowly, but surely.

i have a list of all the furniture that needs to go to the storage unit. i have a list of all the furniture i intend to repaint/refinish through the month of october (and it's formidable, but the first item is done, the second item is in the process of being stenciled, the third item has its paint purchased, and its final look planned, and as for the others... those are all for meg and so im not saying much more than that.)

in terms of meg's room (meg, stop reading this and skip to tomorrow's blog) i have... the comforter, the accent pillows, the curtain fabric, the valance and bedskirt fabric, a color scheme, a list of furniture that's going by-by, a list of furniture that's moving, and a floor plan.

libby needs to pick a paint color. i'm formulating a plan of attack that includes the use of a truck and the help of strong young men.

i have three of my five character interviews begun, and three more to do. my reiki practice continues to grow, slowly but surely, even into places i never thought it would. at the event in cromwell this morning, i happened to sit next to a woman who did promotions for a living. big ones.

and furthermore, the war will end. blessed, blessed be.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

thus spake granny annie

browsing the internet, i found a link to a site called "motivation for moms." it's one of those sites that offers daily tips and quips for busy mothers. today's was, and i kid you not: show your kids how much you appreciate them. do something nice for them... take them out for a little treat.

no wonder so many young mothers are bewildered, not to mention exhausted.

the first priority in my house is making sure my children appreciate ME. after all, when the item at the top of the list of "things i do for love of you" reads GAVE YOU LIFE, i think the balance for who is supposed to appreciate whom is squarely on my side of the playing field. most women i know are lousy at taking care of themselves and even lousier at expecting their kids to help them take care of anything, let alone mommy. from the blogs i read, it's pretty clear to me that the idea of telling a kid - leave mommy alone, or help mommy do this or im taking away your tv for the week - hasn't ever occured to them. i've spent nearly a hundred years collectively mothering, and one of the reasons i've been so good at it is because i have taught my children that i have needs too. that's when i show them i appreciate them -not for simply showing up in my life - when they are cooperative, kind and show that they're aware the world does not revolve around them.

so do i disagree in practice for showing my kids i "appreciate" them? no, of course not. my children are products of their age and socioeconomic status, and that means they get given lots. but the standards i hold them to are high, and the expectations i place upon them in terms of time and energy contributed to the collective family coffers is considerable. there's a quid pro quo involved that includes my needs. the degree to which im willing to show them appreciation is on some level the degree to which they've shown me they appreciate me by being cooperative, kind and generally agreeable.

would i be taking my kids out for a treat today? sure, after the chores and homework are done, and mommy's had her nap.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

painting roey's cupboard

this piece stood in the original kitchen in my grandmother's house. i say original because at some point before i was born, they added a second kitchen, on the same floor, but farther away from the living area of the house. my great-grandmother, my grandmother said, couldn't stand the smell of food. for as long as i could remember it, it was white, with silver knobs. it was one of the pieces i insisted we include in our kitchen - it may not be elegant, but it's incredibly useful.

here it is, all scraped and sanded and primed:

with its new color on:

the finishing touch:

check it out...

Eating... the Angel Way for a yummy root-veggie roast that nourishes the root, sacral and solar plexus chakras...

and Meg In Ireland ... for the continuing adventures of irish moo...

sunday morning silence

i woke up to the sound of falling rain. Beloved has yet another trip to make to the Land of His People (aka brooklyn) so im all alone in this sweetest of silences. i've been alternating playing the piano, dancing to irish music, checking my email, meditating, and stenciling my great-grandmother's cupboard. i like the plain silver knobs i found at the hardware store, and the vine stencil has come out just as i hoped. im taking a break now, to let the vine dry, before i finish up with a few flowers and maybe a berry or two.

i have a lot of packing up to do for the rest of the day... meg's bathroom, meg's bedroom, the exercise room all have shelves of books and other items that need to be packed in boxes before much else can be done. we're hoping to order the stuff this week... so major progress will begin soon. im even thinking of asking my mother and stepfather if they'd like to come and help me spend a few days painting. (maybe it could worth another broadway show.)

i have quite a few pieces of furniture to refinish or paint - libby's new desk, meg's new desk, meg's bookcases, libby's bookcase, libby's wall shelf, meg's dresser and blanket chest and wall shelves, AND the bookcase im moving into the exercise room - not to mention a couple of bookcases i plan to move into my writing room as a quick aside.

in terms of writing - do you do that any more, Beloved wondered the other day - my character interviews are proceeding apace. im really quite amazed at what the first one told me. im tempted to go tearing into the story, but im so intrigued by what happened this first time, im more tempted to interview the others. i can feel them lining up, just beyond the Veil. maybe i'll share some of them here.

and furthermore, the war will end. blessed be.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

where i've been and what i've been up to...

i didn't realize nearly a week had gone by without a blog post until a friend asked me when i thought i might write again. i miss your blog, she said and until she said it, i hadn't noticed it'd been a while since i'd written.

in the meantime, i've gotten a lot done.

my grandmother's old kitchen cupboard has been scraped, sanded, primed and painted and ive got the stencil patterns all picked out. ive decided much as i like the cute cream-colored knobs we put on last year, i need simple silver pulls for the new look. so it's off to ace hardware this morning - im hoping the pulls i want are so simple even the local place has them. i'll post before and after photos when im finished.

i've also been sorting through the last of the boxes from my grandmother's house. i have to admit i teared up as i opened them - for some reason they all contained the simplest and homiest of her possessions: the things i remember using all the time, things familiar by touch, by smell. a few things broke in the shipping, a few things i'll offer to the kids. a few i'll give away. a few i'll keep for me... like the knives that always stayed sharp, despite the corrosive ocean air.

i asked my grandmother once how - or where - she sharpened them. i don't sharpen them, she answered, looking slightly shocked, as if i'd inquired into some intimate personal habit. then how do they stay so sharp, i pressed. i don't know, she replied, with the faraway look she wore when she didn't want to tell me the truth. they just do.

i wonder if they'll stay sharp for me.

and furthermore, the war will end. blessed be.

Friday, September 18, 2009

new moon

im sitting here feeling satisfied with my tummy full of hot milk and cinnamon. i'd like to write more, but i keep stopping, to sip my milk, to listen to the peepers and the bullfrogs, to feel the cool breeze tickle my neck through the lace curtains.

the puppies are tucked away, even Beloved has gone to bed. i have a busy weekend planned, whatever i end up doing.

it's been a nicely balanced week. i accomplished just about everything on my to-do list, made some progress on fulfulling my Wish List, and gave some deep and serious consideration to what my next Writing Project will be. i saw six clients, helped out with baby jake. i attempted to broker at least a state of detente between my mother and my sister, who are about to launch a full scale Cold War.

im going to go to bed now, and ask for a Dream. it's a good night to lie in bed and Listen.

and furthermore, the war will end. blessed be.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

getting here from there

a bloggy friend of mine posed this question: what would you tell yourself 20 years ago? her answer was so poignantly, beautifully, brutally honest, she inspires me to do the same:

dear annie -

it's 1989 and this is the year you move to bethlehem, pennsylvania, following your husband like the dutiful wife you're trying so damn hard to be. he's going to manage to fuck this job up, as well as the one he gets afterwards, but don't worry, honey... sooner or later you're gonna wake up.

don't fight so hard when he wants to bring home the internet, okay? that's your ticket out - that, and the story that's going to come to you in oh... i don't know...six months or so after you move. you're going to feel the first inkling when you drive past that house right around the corner from the one you're going to live in. you're going to KNOW that something bad happened there, and when you find out the place really is called "the house of horrors", a strange little chill is going to go down your back. this hasn't been the first time you've "known" things, and it's not going to be the last, either.

so don't be so afraid. i know you're young and you've got 3 little kids - haha, there's a 4th coming - and you don't seem to be very good at anything terribly useful. you should've paid closer attention to how angry Jerkimo Jones got when you scored nearly twice what he did in the LSAT. but don't waste any time beating yourself up when you do figure out you should've paid closer attention, okay? just cut your losses, and move on.

and don't waste too much time bemoaning the fact you didn't go to law school. most people who you will meet who are lawyers are miserable. law school does something to people, something mean and nasty and not nice. you're not going to need that. life's going to beat you up plenty, but you're going to come out of it just fine. more than fine, really. that which doesn't kill you is going to temper you into something finer and stronger than steel... something more like mithril.

so when the valley of the shadow starts closing in, and you have to walk through places so dark and scary it seems it might be easier just to give up, hang in there. because i'm here - twenty years later - waiting for you, and the view from here is grand.

how to live with a ghost - from Sited & Blogged

Question: I think I have a ghost. Am I crazy, and what should I do about it?

Answer: No, you're not crazy. Lots of places, not necessarily old houses, hold energy from the past. There are many reasons why this can happen, and it doesn't necessarily mean you've got an evil entity lurking in your attic. The first thing to consider of course, is what kind of activity you're experiencing. Take some time to keep at least a mental list of what happens, when it happens, and who's around when it does.

Call in a plumber, check batteries, even things like train or subway schedules if you live near one. Ask other family members to be aware. If does happen that you find there're things happening that can't be explained by rational explanation, don't panic. Consider if any of your own family members or loved ones have passed. Investigate the history of the property, if possible.

Consider as well the geography of the place. Here in New England, for example, there's a lot of granite in the soil, close to the ground, and, in our cemeteries, slabs of it. Granite is especially good at holding energy vibrations, so not only are there a lot of houses in New England full of history, but a lot of those houses are sitting on top of foundations or on ground full of what amounts to energetic sponges.

I've lived with a ghost for the last eleven years, and it's perfectly possible to come to an understanding with residents who refuse to leave. (there could be many reasons - including the nature of the haunting itself - why you may need to learn to either accept the haunting or move out.) Most intelligent hauntings - ie, ghosts who can be interacted with - can be reasoned with, in my experience. On the other hand, if you are truly frightened, don't hesitate to call in practitioners who understand how to work with negative energies. One of the worst things to do in the case of a truly malevolent haunting - rare as they may be - is to deny what's happening.

and furthermore, the war will end. blessed be.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

near nirvana

i love fabrics. from the time i was a child, large swaths of material - aka my mother's curtains and drapes - fascinated me to no end. i loved the swish, the gathers, the quiet gleam of the rough silks or the gossamer sheers, and the heavy crush of wool crepe.

i also love color. asked to choose my favorite, i inevitably say "all of them." not love every color? which one could we do without? i have shades and tints and tones of color i prefer - but i like them all just fine.

couple these together with an indulgent husband who shares an enthusiasm for color and a comfortable home, and we veer quite regularly into an ongoing reality decorating show. at times i think my life could best be described as trading spaces: the sit com.

so with meg tucked away in ireland, i see this as my chance to get into her room and do some serious Redecorating. i had her pick out a comforter she liked to give me some idea of a color scheme. today, my friend and i drove out to a place where we found decorator fabrics for $1.99 a yard...(affordable fabrics in rocky hill ct) i bought at least several hundred dollars worth of fabric of meggie's room for 37.99!!! 18 YARDS!!! 60" wide!!!!)

for the curious, i bought enough to create a valance over her bed and window... curtains for her bed and window... and even possibly a bed skirt to go around the bottom. at marshall's, i found square european style pillows in just the perfect color scheme, as well as a comforter set i think she's going to love. but i know she reads this blog - so other than to say i also have the paint and even some new furniture picked out... she's just going to have to wait and see :).

ask annie wednesday

over at Sited & Blogged, i'm answering a reader's question about what to do if you find yourself living in a haunted house!

and furthermore, the war WILL end. blessed be.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

tuesday's child

today was one of those satisfying days when everything seems to go right with the world. Beloved brewed my favorite flavor, there was just enough puppy food for breakfast. Libby and I did a Good Deed on the way to school.

i got all the housework done that i'd planned to do - even the mountain of laundry that has somehow managed to accumulate is on it's way to diminishing. i spent nearly two hours outside, visiting the weeds. it's pointless to call them weeds - i might as well just acknowledge they're the neighbors and, just like in a neighborhood, recognize they're not going away, no matter how intrusive. so i can't say i weeded, i can only say i encouraged certain plants not to encroach on certain others.

i came in with a wonderful harvest of mugwort, chamomile, motherwort, betony, queen's anne lace, burdock, marsh mallow, plaintain, and wild impatiens. most of them i'll use for teas and infusions. the plaintain and the wild impatiens i'll grind up for my grandson's skin, as well as for my itchy-eyelid remedy. some i'll use to stuff in dream pillows, others i'll burn. some i'll simply leave as offerings at the several crossroads places on our property.

i also did the fourth reiki treatment and reading that i did this week - since saturday, at any rate. i have another reiki session tomorrow with one of the neurologist's patients and a reading for a friend on thursday. libby and i had our third vegetarian supper this week - tonight i made a pasta primavera (no cheese, of course) with lots of wonderful green things like sweet basil and spinach and tiny baby peas in chopped tomatos, garlic, onion and oregano.

tomorrow i'm going on a field trip for some retail therapy with a friend, and then i'm picking up baby jake for some snuggling. i might be missing him as much as i miss my irish moo.

and furthermore, the War will end. blessed be.

Monday, September 14, 2009

echoes from the alley

a few months ago, i expressed to my mother my puzzlement that in the annals of ocean city history, my great-grandfather's name is conspicuously absent. his name certainly isn't absent from ocean city - even today, you can walk down almost any of the main streets and find his name (JOHN CASTALDI & CO) engraved on the sidewalks. so does the fountain in front of city hall - indeed, the very foundations of city hall, as well as the catholic churches - all three of them - the rectories and the convents all bear his name, resting on the concrete and pilings he and his men placed, as do countless houses and jetties up and down our small stretch of coast.

oh, said my mother with a sniff and shrug, there's a strong anti-italian bias in ocean city. always has been, always will be, probably.

and suddenly, so many pieces - tiny pieces - fell into place, small instances where i suddenly felt somehow less - in some mysterious, inexplicable way - by the citizens of what is supposedly my hometown.

we lived on one side of ninth street, said my mother, and the black people lived on the other. and somehow i knew without her telling me that west avenue, running perpendicular to the numbered streets, the street where my great-grandfather's house continues to perch, is another kind of dividing line - between those who get mentioned in the histories of ocean city, and those who get left out.

and furthermore, the war will end. blessed be.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

silly sunday

it's been a while since i did anything fun with my oldest daughter. so this afternoon, after i cleaned my bedroom and my bathroom and changed my sheets:

we went on a bit of a shopping spree, and even i came home with...

new make-up!!! (it's been quite a while!):

a sweater and a couple of tops to mix n' match:

and some pretty fall flowers:

and here's my desk... spotless as it ever gets:

frances the talking mule

among the many black-and-white world war two movies i remember watching with my father when i was a little girl were a couple i dimly remember as featuring a talking mule named francis. i don't remember much about the mule's adventures, but i do remember being captivated by the mule's name... francis, like my mother's.

when i mentioned this to my mother - upon her return from the beauty parlor - i remember being very taken aback when she bellowed: I AM NOT A MULE - and my name is FRANCES with an E!!

yesterday i learned from my sister - my phi beta kappa sister - that our mother went to washinington, to protest obama's health care policy.

two things leaped to mind: one of jesus's last sentences on the cross, and a vision of Frances the Talking Mule.

there are two kinds of people who oppose the idea of health care for everyone, ive decided: the angry and the scared. my mother isn't angry (unless of course she thinks you're somehow implying she's a mule)... my mother's scared. what saddens and ashames and appalls ME is how my mother doesn't understand that she's become a mule in the worst sense of the word - no matter how we spell her name. she IS a talking mule - a talking mule for a party and a set of convictions hijacked by the worst kind of racists, power-brokers and fear-mongerers the world may ever have seen.

and the trouble is, my mother doesn't know it. unlike francis the talking mule, my mother has no clue. she doesn't seem to realize that what she believes has been twisted and altered into a monstrous weapon of greed and deceit. these are not republicans in the tradition of lincoln, or conservatives in the manner of edmund burke. these are tyrants, masquerading as sheep. they have put on christian garb, they cloak themselves in the pages of the gospels, they mouth words jesus would never have said on his longest day, and they've scared a lot of people.

and they've turned my mother into Frances the Talking Mule.

to paraphrase jesus - whose work my mother most sincerely tries to do - i'm trying to forgive her... because i know she really doesn't know what she's doing.

and furthermore, the War will end. blessed be.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

pain in my foot or, treating morton's neuroma, pt 2

as Gentle Readers may remember, i was diagnosed with morton's neuroma in both feet about six or seven weeks ago. the doctor who made the diagnosis offered me two solutions - gel pads and a cortisone shot in my foot. i took the gel pads and said no thanks to the steroid in my feet. the cortisone was only going to mask the pain - it wasn't going to address the issues at the root of it.

at the time i limped out of his office, i would say the pain in my left foot was at a 2, the pain in my right foot, a 7. according to what i read, this was a common condition that i was simply going to have to live with.

since morton's neuroma is essentially a nerve problem and nerves transmit energy, i decided the most effective course of action was likely to be any system of healing that works directly with energy. thus, i scheduled an acccupuncture appointment for the following day. i also do not believe that pain is something to be masked. i believe pain is a messenger and i believe the way to address the pain is not to deny it - but to confront it, without judgement and without fear.

i remembered how, from my natural childbirth classes, we were taught to understand that the strenous exercise of labor can be interpreted as pain - or accepted as evidence of the Great Work every mother's body does at birth. we were taught to understand we could either tense and fight the Work, thus causing even more pain, or we could relax and appreciate and allow the Work to happen. (i still howled like a banshee.)

at least i had a framework within which to see this pain as something more than just an enormous inconvience. so i took a lot of time and sat with the pain in my foot. i visualized what it felt like - alternatively a hot poker, a splintered wooden stake, an iron nail. i visualized what in my life could be causing such pain in the ball of my foot. what was holding me back? pinning me down? nailing me to a cross?

the more i meditated, the more i embraced the message of the pain, the more i was able to understand that the pain in my foot was as much about the accumulation of emotional and spiritual and mental pain, as anything physical. i continued to treat with accupuncture. i began to do a series of small stretches with my toes. my chiropractor adjusted my feet. i added 400 mg of turmeric to my diet on the advice of my chiropractor and several herbalist friends who know me well. (check with your health professional before you ingest anything, Gentle Reader) i had a deep tissue massage and i gave myself copious amounts of reiki.

at some point in my healing, i realized i was objectifying my foot. i realized i do this with all my body parts i dont like or when they are in pain. "me" somehow becomes separate from "my neck" or "my foot." in my meditation, i deliberately turned my attention to healing this breach. it was after i came to this realization that i began to feel long-term relief.

im happy to report that the pain in both feet have diminished to the point where not only can i get out of bed without wincing, most of the time i don't even remember my feet used to hurt so bad. i'm looking forward to getting my orthotics and walking shoes - this experience has certainly taught me to appreciate walking in a whole new way. i know that there are other lessons as well, that will continue to make themselves understood as i am ready to receive them.

and furthermore, the war will end. blessed be.

Friday, September 11, 2009

the rain is raining all around

many years ago now, by anyone's reckoning, i moved to a small city in pennsylvania that prided itself on two things as far as i could tell - its moravian heritage and its annual musikfest. the moravian heritage i found as entertaining as any other kind of history, musikfest got old fast. im from a small town by the jersey shore, after all, and im bred to despise shoobies* of any kind.

so when busloads of them starting treking through my backyard, armed with sunglasses, lanyards and water bottles, tying up my parking spaces, elevating the already frenetic tempo of my life into a veritable tarantella, i could see it wasn't something i was going to be able to embrace long-term. the first year, i enjoyed musikfest, the second year, i tolerated it. the third year, i'd had enough.

the fourth year, i announced - in may - it was going to rain on musikfest.

natives and fans laughed at me. oh, it NEVER rains on musikfest, they assured me. we've NEVER had more than a day or two AT MOST of REALLY bad weather. you'll see. it NEVER rains on musikfest.

we'll see, i muttered, mostly to myself.

it started raining a few days before the festival and continued, through seven of the nine days. (the other two the sun shone watery and faint-hearted through thick layers of lowering gray-white clouds.) and when i say it rained, it didn't just drizzle or shower. it RAINED, with a deliberation that verged on biblical.

i said it was going to rain on musikfest, i remarked with grim satisfaction to a friend as we watched the soggy 'festers slogging sodden through the torrent from the shelter of my front porch.

there're small african nations that would pay you large sums for this kind of ability, she observed.

maybe i've missed my calling. ;)

*shoobies, sometimes shortened to shoob, are tourists. traditionally, day-trippers to the south jersey beaches brought their lunches in shoeboxes... hence the term "shoobie."

september's blue skies

it wasn't raining when i walked the puppies, but the sky was low and thick, and i heard the low-flying plane before i saw it. it zoomed over head, graceful and proud, banking into its descent, and as i watched it dip and turn, i remembered what day it is.

what i remember about that day was how absolutely beautiful it was. the skies were a clear and cloudless crystalline, the air balmy with summer sun. before i moved to connecticut, Beloved extolled the virtues of connecticut's skies. you've never seen such blue, he enthused, and no, i never will again. i remember thinking it was too nice to be inside as i drove to work that morning. i wonder how many people had that very same thought.

and then it changed, not in an instant, but in a series of events, a chain of phone calls and conversations that began just before nine o'clock... five minutes of nine, as i remember, because 8:55 is the time i was born... in the evening, thank goddess.

first came Beloved's. his voice had just a hint of excitement. did you hear about the plane, annie? he asked. he was on his way to work.

ive been here since seven, i answered. i was busy. i had deadlines, projects, stuff to do. i didn't care about planes, unless i had to be on one.

a plane flew into a building in new york, he said. im not sure what kind it is, i think its one of those little planes.

some idiot flying where he shouldn't, i said, and we hung up because the next call was from my daughter, at uconn, my oldest. in a voice i hadn't heard since she was very small, she said: mommy, i just watched a plane fly into a building. a big plane. into a big building.

she had seen the first footage of the second hit.

from there the word had begun to spread, across the cubicles, out of the offices. we gathered in the cafeteria around the big television set and watched what couldn't have happened happening before our eyes.

at ten thirty came the order to go home. i remember how when we left the building, i looked up, into those clear blue skies and wondered how it was they'd turned that subtle shade of gray.

and furthermore, the war will end. blessed be.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

never fear, martha dear

when i said i succumbed yesterday, i meant to another facebook quiz - not the mediocre book on which it's based. im not saying im not a fan of mediocre fiction - after all, i've written a lot of it myself, and continue to do so - but the Twilight phenomena has mostly left me cold. when libby read me the first book -it was the only way i'd consent to try to get through the whole thing - i couldn't stand bella. i liked her so much less in the second book i had to make libby stop reading it.

the trouble with bella is that she whines. incessantly, but mostly, as far as i can tell, because edward refuses to make her a vampire.

not that i blamed her.

OF COURSE she wants to be a vampire. who wouldn't want to a vampire in this story, after all... they're all gorgeous and rich and they live forever. oh, yeah, sure there's that silly part about losing a soul - but if you can be rich and beautiful and young forever, why does it matter? the vampires in these books don't suffer from lack of anything as far as i could tell.

consequently, when that idiot edward kept telling bella he wouldn't make her a vampire, i wanted to hit him. i didn't find the vampires in twilight attractive OR credible. i found them insufferable in a way that made me want to go for THEIR throats. (sure, doctor cullen's a vampire who can be around blood - oceans of it, for hours on end - not only without going berserk but also performing brilliant medical feats that make everyone around him love him even more. that makes tons of sense when we're also being told how difficult it is for vampires to be around humans even when they aren't gushing fountains of blood.)

of course, what's really going on is that the author is a mormon, and the book reflects her patriarchal world view where Wise Men know better than Silly Girls what's best for them. that my daughters and my sister (my phi beta kappa sister!)are so enthralled boggles my mind and makes me wonder if maybe i really did wind up with the wrong kids in the wrong family.

so no, it doesn't really make me want to swoon, martha dear. it makes me want to puke.

and furthermore, the war will end. blessed be.