Dear Family: May 14, 2014
What a difference a week makes! We got back from Beltaine and spring had sprung, there were leaves on the trees, (albeit not full sized yet), the peas are sprouting in the raised beds, the bleeding hearts are blooming like crazy, the quince bush is blooming, violets are all over, and you can well imagine how the knotweed (“Japanese bamboo”) is leaping skyward. The hyacinth are done, but the forsythia are still blooming.
There are still some bulbs flowering, the ones mother called paper white narcissus, although I have come to learn that they really aren’t- the fragrant ones she loved are Jonquils, (Daffodils are the yellow ones). We have a few later blooming ones in the garden now, enough that I’m willing to pick them and put them in a vase on the kitchen table. Now that the hyacinth are gone, I can put the bleeding hearts in with them. It bothers me that they have no scent. Flowers should smell good! Luckily, violets do.
There’s a bank of them out in the back yard that I didn’t see last year, and I hope to get a few minutes to pick a bouquet. Mother used to love violets, and they remind me of her. I actually prefer the somewhat flashier pansies.
I’ve picked up a few more flowers (my resistance is down) a columbine and pink daisy, at the farm stand. I am spotting the foliage of some of the flowers from previous years coming up, but so far am not spotting any of the nasturtium or morning glory where I planted seeds and may have to get some transplants if I want them again.
As I said, the peas are sprouting. I dared put them in despite “last frost” not being until Memorial Day. The snow peas I put in in April are hardly coming up at all, but the normal peas seem to be doing OK. I think maybe they needed more water. I haven’t hooked up the hose yet. If I can get the letter done quickly, I’ll be seeding the second bed with salad seeds today. Will I get to any gardening out back? I don’t know, but fresh salad greens should at least take care of my need to mess about in the dirt.
Oh, and I squished my first black fly today. Monday the weather decided to borrow a day from August and plug it into May. (Tuesday it was in the 50s again, and today it’s in the 70s.) It was in the 90s, and we put the screen door up. The cats are (as usual) offended that it requires two doors to be opened when they want to go in or out.
Over the weekend we went down to the Beltaine a Pagan Odyssey in Connecticut. It was very small this year, probably only about 30 people, but the feeling was marvelous. This was the kind of event that if it was the first one, it would grow because it was so nice! But it is the 16th, and it’s been hundreds of people before, so this was quite a downsized version. I wasn’t sanguine about going alone, but the girls were not up for camping at the beginning of May. (We’ve done it before and frozen our tushes off.) We’re depleted enough from April that I decided to go for a hotel room, and even though the event was small, we still covered the cost, so I call that a big win! Willow spent most of the time making new necklaces. Her workbox spent the winter in the trailer- buried in snow, so she was happy to be creating new pieces again.
There are pictures of several on her facebook page, since she could take pictures with her phone. I particularly liked this one with the “sea glass” flowers, but had a hard time choosing which one to post because there were several nice ones.
Kat was able to leave her eye patch off all weekend, and her smile isn’t too lopsided any more. Although she’s good about taking the vitamins, we keep forgetting to make new acupuncture appointments and I worry about that. It’s so easy to get complacent when things aren’t causing immediate problems! Mostly she’s having to deal with energy and digestion issues, probably left over from the antibiotics. I’m reading Missing Microbes, so I may be a bit over suspicious, but it’s also based on my personal experiences. I wish there were better ways to
We ate dinner both nights at a restaurant the Oriental Gourmet in Southbury CT. It wasn’t expensive, probably less than eating at Denny’s, and the wonton soup alone made the trip worth it! I felt a little guilty not eating the garnish- a flower made from sliced beet, which was gorgeous, but we were full, and the food was great. It was also nice to be able to shower, and have beds to sleep in- although my own bed is always best! I spent an extra $5 a night to stay at the hotel only seven minutes from the site (instead of 25 minutes each way).
I taught three workshops, one on the roles of soothsayer and healer in the community, one on soothsaying by tossing rune staves (sadly, none of the attendees knew the runes yet, and I hadn’t brought my bibliography to share with them), and Sunday I did one on Sacred Art. I talked with a lovely lady who’s developing her own card system- not Tarot, but something completely different. Sadly, I have misplaced her card! I hope I find it.
Alicia, who runs this event, has always been very big on entertainment, and even this small, she had two lovely performances, Joseph Firecrow, who’s a fluteman, and Shaman Starseed. I’d met him and seen him perform a couple
decades ago back when he was singing with his sister. Now he performs with his wife, (and the kids joined occasionally). I felt a bit badly because they’d come all the way from Michigan, and I already had most of their CDs (Alicia gave me some!), and I’m sure that selling their CDs is how they cover their travel expenses, just as it works for us, and our other vendor friends. I have such admiration for any musician who can dance while he (or she) plays his instrument! There is something wonderful about dancing to live music.
I’ll admit, I didn’t dance the may pole this year. In truth, I haven’t danced one in many years, but this year I didn’t feel bad about it. I’m over 60, and most of the other people who were watching (and taking pictures) rather than dancing were also the older folk! That seems VERY traditional to me!
I also didn’t participate in the ritual. As usual, it was very Wiccan/ Western ceremonial magic style and that’s not my type of paganism.
There was a concert Saturday night, Joseph Firecrow, then Shaman Starseed and Friends, and both were wonderful! I have a feeling that what I may take away from this weekend is mostly Joseph Firecrow’s story about his great-great uncle who was killed, probably by “friendly fire”, at the Little Big Horn because he didn’t take time to braid his hair. Apparently many of the tribes were identified by the way they wore their hair, and the family story is that he was in a hurry, so he left his loose, and that would have misidentified him as the “wrong tribe”. Always take time to do what you need to do, don’t be impatient, do it right. That one thought spoke directly to me. There were others, of course, but not so immediate. I am deeply grieved by the way the Bureau of Indian Affairs treated the children of Native Americans. There should be ways to share blessings and opportunities without robbing them of their own culture. He also mentioned that many tribes were exogamous, you had to marry outside your own tribe, so most people were from many tribes. This seems to me to go against the whole “you have to prove that you are x% of a tribe before we’ll acknowledge that you’re really in it” that the BIA practices. (I think. I could have understood that wrong.) Seems to me it’s whether you participate in and contribute positively to a tribe (or family) that determines whether you’re really a part of it. Blood is important, but participation is too.
Last week, having signed up for my classes for Pennsic and GNEW, I sent for some new books, and this week they’ve been coming in enough to make Willow nuts.
I also got frustrated by the broken handle on my belgian waffle maker, and decided to get a new one. I feel I really aught to be able to replace the handle, but haven’t figured out how to do that yet. I’m also annoyed, the one I have now has a little temperature gauge in the handle which lets me know if the iron is hot enough or too hot. With a stovetop waffle iron you have to remember which side you’ve had in the fire how long, and that helped a lot. The new versions don’t have that, which I find annoying. The Nordicware one is also in aluminum- I assume because most people don’t have the strength in their wrists to flip a two or three pound waffler. (Feh!) Really? While looking for it, I found a lovely little one pound IRON waffle iron and got that too. It’s adorable. I may leave it at Pennsic. The cast iron one with the ring was disappointing, the joints where it comes apart for cleaning don’t really lock together, although since they sit in a socket on the ring during cooking it works OK, but I expect better workmanship. I hate to say it, but it IS made in China. Having a variety of quality goods available doesn’t bother me, but shopping on line does make it harder to check these things out before you buy. (Let’s face it, with cast iron, shipping may be more of an expense than the item!) I’ve also noticed that googling the criteria you want doesn’t seem to help, they ignore the parts I consider important, to skip directly to the popular ones I was specifically trying to eliminate! Sadly, this also has led me to discover several other toys I now desperately (and ridiculously) want- such as the “silver dollar” waffle pan, or the egg waffle pan, the 3 ovals pizzelle maker, a fluted pizzelle iron, and my twenty year search for a stove top version of a (mini pizzelle) “Quatro” iron continues (they only seem to come in the electric version). It’s quite embarrassing that I like these things so much, but I have to figure- they’re toys, and people like toys, different people like different toys. I seem to be relatively immune to electronic toys. I like playing with my food.
This week Willow went to the dentist again and got her tooth repaired. They are very careful to make sure that you know how much it’s going to cost before they start, and I’m not surprised by that. It costs a lot, and they deserve to be paid for what they do. Once your tooth stops hurting, I know it’s got to be harder to collect. Yesterday she went down to visit a friend I spaced going to a birthday party her friend had for her bear. She took Pippin, (her fox) and they gave her a hard time because he wasn’t wearing clothes. He’s a fox!
Humans are not logical about our toys/ plush companions!
Kat has been trying to catch up on everything she fell behind on during a very hard April for her, as usual, catching up is hard when your energy levels are much lower than usual, and when she has some energy it’s too easy to think “it’s come back” and over extend. I hate the recovery period and don’t think it’s totally me projecting my feelings on her, as she deals with it. Luckily, she has the audio plays that she got for her birthday to help her stay quiet and draw.
Me, I’m enjoying the Person of Interest while working on Jane’s book cover. I also “watched” Mr. Nobody and Ender’s Game. Sadly, they are both very visual and I think I missed a lot by listening to them while I’m working. The same is true for Person of Interest. Sometimes I re-run a scene and discover there was an important plot point that was visual only, like a text on a phone that the hero looked at that told him that the person he’s talking to is going to kill him. I haven’t read as much. I downloaded the next books in the Young Wizard’s series onto my tablet, but put it on the charger to make sure it got through the weekend, and forgot to take it when I left.
Kat helped me set up the 64mb flashdrive to be back-up for my computer, but sadly, since that’s not enough to back up EVERYTHING, and I haven’t figured out what else to exclude, it just makes the computer slow down as it tries and fails to do it. While flashdrives may be more durable that disc drives, apparently I’m going to have to get a disc drive for backing up and maybe just periodically store things like my pictures on flash drives.
As I mentioned, I’ve been getting some REALLY yummy books in for this summer’s reading: The Origins of the Anglo-Saxons , Occult Medicine And Practical Magic, , & Esoteric Medicine and Practical Magic (and remember there were a bunch from last night). In theory, I’m going to only be editing a expanding on the High Magick in the Middle Ages, and Low Magick in the Middle Ages that I already wrote in 2008, but I’m not sure it’s really going to take less time than starting from scratch. The subject matter is so huge! I’m going to have to cut down on the books from the library until I’ve gotten through these! It’s like being a a banquet and trying to figure out what to eat first, so I nibble a bit on each- or in this case, I’m mostly reading introductions.
Oh, and I need to make a couple corrections from last week’s letter: it was the Battle of Otford not Oxford I read about, and the book was Deep Wizardry not Deep Magic, as I wrote. Sorry.
All weekend long I wondered about Morning Glory Zell. She is a well known figure in the pagan community (I understand that it was she who coined the word “polyamory”.), and at the age of 65, after doing rather well for years, she gave up on fighting her cancer and came back from the hospital to die at home last Thursday. Friday, before I left, I heard she’d passed, but apparently that was a widespread misconception. They were simply accepting condolences on facebook, so she could have them passed on while she was still alive. As long as that’s clear to one’s friends, I think that’s pretty clever. She had a friend post corrections in the form of two quotes: Twain’s “Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated” and Granny Weatherwax’s “I ate’nt dead yet.” which I took to indicate that her sense of humor was still quite lively. It seems that she got a good weekend in with her friends, and died yesterday. I only met her once, but she has been quite an inspiration for us all, especially the story (We are the Other People) of her bringing tea in to some young door-to-door missionaries while “skyclad”.
I have been cutting down on my facebook time to paint, but still am seeing lots of stuff about friends: Jane taught this weekend down at Fertile Ground Gathering, and passed out a lot of cards for CTCW. Megan has apparently managed to drop 60 pounds, it’s been way too long since I’ve seen her! Ruadh and Heidi took in a couple of rescued bunnies a couple weeks ago and were surprised by two sets of unplanned kits! They are now at the stage of ulitmate cuteness, and he put a “bunny-cam” in the cage. While he is trying to get takers for them, I’m pretty sure I won’t be able to get any of them, as he thinks of rabbits as “friends not food”. As I told Kat, would we give away kittens, even unwanted ones, to people we thought planned to eat them? It’s all in the way you think of them. During that intense heat the other day, Cathy developed shingles, one of the more painful rashes one can get according to Lisa. Our friend Suliman had a bad fall and had to get a knee repair. Finally, one of the “kids” (as I think of them) Azrael, from Anhrivedor drowned in a riptide while vacationing in Mexico. I feel so awful for her husband who fought his way out of it!
I hadn’t thought about Azrael for years, but we always think of our friends as remaining as we remember them (yeah, they were in college, but I only had two little kids!). Every day people have babies, children grow, people get hurt or sick, others die. I know intellectually that I can’t keep track of all the wonderful people I’ve ever known, but some how I feel guilty when I lose track of someone. The theory with facebook is that if you post about the major things that are going on in your life, your friends will hear about them. Sadly, they just drift past your page like leaves in the wind, and you only see them if you look out the window at the right time. I suppose that’s why facebook keeps trying to develop filters to pick “top stories”, but fails so consistently.
Well, that’s about it, the girls have just gotten back from doing errands. Willow has (I think) gotten me more Turpenoid or Sans Odor, modern replacements for turpentine. When I ran out and went back to the turps, it filled the kitchen with it’s distinctive smell, and made it harder for Kat to eat.
Well, let’s see if I can get anything done before tonights show. Tonight it’s Cathy Kane talking about how to turn bad luck around. There are people who just seem to have more than their share of bad luck, and wouldn’t it be nice to help them break the jinx? I hope I don’t blither too much, I am pretty “brain free” tonight. I am blaming it on the Full Flower Moon, but who knows what it is.
Answers from last week- how did you do?
1. 26 = Letters of the Alphabet
2. 1001 = Arabian Nights
3. 7 = Wonders of the World
4. 12 = Signs of the Zodiac
5. 54 = Cards in a Deck (with the Jokers)
6. 9 = Planets in the Solar System
7. 88 = Piano Keys
8. 13 = Stripes on the American Flag
9. 32 = Degrees Fahrenheit at which Water Freezes
10. 18 = Holes on a Golf Course
11. 90 = Degrees in a Right Angle
12. 200 = Dollars for Passing Go in Monopoly
13. 8 = Sides on a Stop Sign
14. 3 = Blind Mice ( See How They Run)
15. 4 = Quarts in a Gallon
16. 24 = Hours in a Day
17. 1 = Wheel on a Unicycle
18. 5 = Digits in a Zip Code
19. 57 = Heinz Variety
20. 11 = Players on a Football Team
21. 1000 = Words that a Picture is Worth
22. 29 = Days in February in a Leap Year
23. 64 = Squares on a Checkerboard