(My Gods, where did the year go?!)
Spring is certainly busting out around here! I think it was the warm weather last week. It was so hot that when I was packing for Beltaine I packed all light clothing (the internet weather forecast somehow missed the rain- perhaps it was the wrong region).
We’d hung the screen door last week to allow breezes in, and then this week we had to keep it closed to keep the heat out. Then Friday it started to rain, and since then has been cold and cloudy. Welcome to spring in New England.
But the combination of warmth and rain has done great things for the garden. My cherry trees are blooming, and the quince bush, which I never figured out where to put, so planted in the herb garden “temporarily” is blooming like mad. We have one purple tulip- about where the daffodils and hyacinth were, and in one week the bleeding hearts went from a small reddish mound of sprouts to fully grown and blooming. The morning glory seeds I planted are sprouting and reaching for support. I put in a pot of forget-me-nots, which cheer Willow, by the door. I did replant Pansies in the cinder-blocks we bought when they were on sale and put between the driveway and the strip of garden in front of the house, but the Sweet William I put in with them last year seem to have come back. I’ve also got (edible) Johnny Jump ups and nasturtium blooming, and am looking forward to the other transplanted flowers I keep sticking in that space. I’ve been pulling the mint that Kate put in, and trying to tame her climbing rose- I think it would work better if it were closer to the building. I’ve also been weeding the burdock and raspberries (along with the weeds, and of course invading “ornamental bamboo”) out of the herb garden. I’ve taken some of the raspberry leaves to dry for teas, as long as we were pulling it. I found the garden sorrel, and hope to make some soup, and am enjoying the violets- they are everywhere, and make me smile. I can identify the leaves of other plants- the hollyhocks, purple cone flowers, yarrow iris, a clump of chives, the lovage (I had to replace the Angelica), and see where they are coming up.
Willow’s rose bush that we call Miles has survived the winter and is doing the new growth thing, I haven’t located the other roses, so they may not have made it. Hardy is good. I think I’m beginning to understand why people get so excited about flower gardens. It’s nice to see them coming- although certainly most of my “flowers” are also medicinal, edible or good for something else like dying. Or maybe some of this has rubbed off on me from Dennis and Megan who are so excited by their garden in their “new” house. Den says it’s just because he loves summer so much. When I got the new pansies, I gave them my leftovers because I’d gotten 4 dozen because I liked the colors, and only had room for 2 dozen. They’ve offered me some of their lily of the valley which needs thinning, and I LOVE lily of the valley!
I also got hit by an impulse purchase this weekend- the tent next to us was run by a fellow who casts concrete garden sculptures, and among his wares was a little door you put on a tree to make it look like the entrance to an Elf Cookie Factory (or other fairy domicile). But he also had lawn gnomes- which I mostly find resistible- but one was leaning over with his pants down, and I couldn’t resist. I was tempted to just slip it under the foliage of one of their plants and let them wonder where it came from- but I felt the need to see the look on Dennis’ face when he saw it. Luckily, they liked it. It’s not like they don’t have other sculptures in the garden. Of course, there’s the full size Tin Man of Oz, (and the yellow brick road), as well as pink flamingos, and strange birds made from welding garden tools together. The gnome fits right in.
I just noticed that the sun had come out, so the girls and I set up the frame of the pop-up and hung the tent roof over it to dry. Star and I had had it out Monday- draped over the cars and clothes lines, etc. but it was so close to raining that the stress got to us, and we brought it in again. The girls did it this time because Star’s out (still) cleaning the Aegean Stables. He’s piling the compost deeper on top of the goat bodies, because in the heat we could smell it, and that’s not good. As I told him, the reason coffins are usually put six feet under is because we want to make sure there’s enough dirt between us and them.
The girls did get off at 7:30 a.m. on Thursday- I was not as well organized, so did not get out at 9 as I’d wished, but past noon. This did allow me to make a seed cake which I used in my morning ritual down there. Beltaine a Pagan Odessey wasn’t as big as it has been in previous years. I think there were only about 10 vendors this year- although there were the usual 10 or more performers or acts. Alicia is very big on the entertainment. My picture was on the cover of the booklet, but even better- they had volunteers to help me put up and take down the tent! Specifically, it was a girl named Annabel we’d met there last year who pounded in all the stakes for me, and while she had to go home at noon on Sunday, her friend John stayed and helped take down. I’m not sure how I’d have gotten along without that help. I now have a much better understanding of how it is for Arwen and Alizaunde and my other single friends who have to get help with their tents. I slept the first night in the tent, (I love that tent!), but the next two nights I spent in the nearby hotel with Jane who hasn’t got such a nice tent. I do believe that my comfort is greatly enhanced by the fact that our tent is “water and draft proof” (good enough for most conditions), and that I sleep on a nice inflatable mattress with featherbed as well as the normal bedding. Of course, it does NOT give the amenity of a hot shower which hotels do.
As it was raining, we took my lovely inflatable to the hotel so Mockingbird was able to sleep under cover with us. He chose to deal with the rain the next night because he missed the bird song in the morning. He has the most amazing ability to identify birds by their songs. My “morning rituals” were scheduled at 8 a.m. on Friday and Sunday mornings (we were very glad that someone else did a sunrise ritual on Saturday, so we could have breakfast at the hotel). Sadly, my habits have changed, and I am not waking up at quarter to six every morning as I used to do when the kids were going to school. I also sometimes worry that people who come to the morning ritual may be “ritual addicts” who like lots of fancy energy work. I simply shared what I do- we had water and a towel so everyone could wash; we did the “there is but one god, and he is the sun god, Ra Ra Ra!” chant in hopes of good weather- and mostly because it’s silly; we shared seed cake- because sharing bonds people, and we did a silent appreciation of the immune system, because people are so freaked out about the Swine Flu these days.
Personally, I’m not terribly worried. One of the bits I read about it said that as many people die annually in Mexico from exploding balloons as have died from the Swine Flu (from combining fireworks or candles with helium or hydrogen balloons I assume). Yes, I do think it’s possible that viruses can mutate and become more virulent, and that we could have another pandemic like the one in 1916, and it would be really horrible. I’m not convinced that we need the level of panic that’s going on. There’s a two page posting on the door to the Village Store in Lyndeboro about it (which I didn’t bother reading). There’s always a possibility of dying. I think most of us are in more danger from cars, or other things we tend to ignore than we are from the media hyped disease-of-the-year. But the chances are that Mexicans will not worry about what gas they use in their party balloons because it’s only 17 a year, but because it’s a flu- oooh scary. We die of so many avoidable things. Heck we get sick because we don’t cover our coughs and wash our hands, and get enough sleep and water. I suppose, millions of people every day spend their money on lottery tickets and I assume they expect to win. (As another tangent- we got our “stimulus” checks. I am suggesting to the kids that they stimulate the local dentist office’s economy.)
Aside from needing help with the tent (and it took me from 3 to seven to get packed, usually it only takes us an hour or so), I also didn’t get to go to the many workshops they have- which ordinarily I can, because the kids are watching the booth. Admittedly, I did get to some, but basically, Jane and Martin (in the SCA Arwen and Suliman) and I watched the booth while the other ones were teaching classes, and we all taught several, so I didn’t think it was reasonable for me to duck out on them too much. I think each of us attended one class that we didn’t teach for fun. I went to one on healing gods and goddesses- apparently Asclepius had seven or eight children, all of whom were also made gods (the process is called apotheosis) although they may have originally been human- or they may have been legendary. Each had a separate healing function, including one who was basically a researcher- he traveled a lot and collected new techniques to bring home.
The classes I taught were my standard Herbalism for kids. Only four kids came- and I broke it off at about 45 minutes because they were getting bored- but I am pretty sure that they each left knowing that jewelweed is good against poison Ivy (and I was able to find some to show them, even though they are only putting out their first leaves now and are about 2 inches tall), and plantain for bug bites and stings. It’s a good start. Because they got bored, I caught the end of Ceiswr Serith’s Indo-European workshop which I’d been bummed to have been scheduled against. Between classes Cei spent a lot of time at our tent. Such wonderful discussions went on. While we were all sitting around having breakfast Sunday morning, we started talking about poetry, and quoting our favorite poems. How many places can you do that? I also did one on Cunning Folk (one of the antecedents to the modern Witchcraft movement), and one on healing without tools, in which I talked about Reiki, huna, therapeutic touch, eft, Silva, RunValdr and taught them Dynamind. While I often worry that my style may be too scattered, because I’ll go off into history while teaching healing, or technique when covering history, I got several compliments this weekend by people who said they like the way I bring together the divergent subjects.
I also made surprisingly good money for only having brought two tables worth of stuff. I had the specifically pagan silver, the overflow of the socks, my ceramics, the glass knitting needles, and my cookbooks. I also took the candles and wooden boxes to fill in corners, and I brought in enough that I felt good about getting breakfast at the hotel.
Kat and Willow had a really slow start at Costume Con. It was also a three day event that required them to get in Thursday night- but they also had another night of hotel fees because it closed at 6 on Sunday, and I expect they didn’t get all packed until nearly 8, so it made sense to stay in the hotel. Joanne and Scott took them out to dinner, (they got to see Scott in his tiger suit- I’ve only ever seen pictures.) but I forget which night. (and of course, people at Beltaine asked where they were and said they missed them. Kat’s always so quiet I hadn’t been aware that people had noticed her- apparently they like her wit.) They shared a room with Bryana who they know from Pennsic, and they’d made the arrangements at Darkover (it’s the same hotel). The first night I called to see how they were doing and they’d taken in $15, and spent $20 on dinner, and also Willow’s clothing rack for her silks broke and had to be replaced (while I’d made about $300). Eventually they covered their expenses, although I worried that people don’t really buy the jewels (which is why we were asked to come to CostumeCon) until they’ve had a year to think about what they’d do with them. Next year is going to be out in the Milwaukee, so we are not going to be there when they come looking for us. I am toying with the idea of seeing if we can put an ad in their booklet that says we’ll be there the next year because that’s “only” going to be in Pittsburgh (and the costumers on the west coast are gnashing their teeth in frustration). The most important thing is that they had so much fun they said it would have been worth it just to go even if they had to pay for it, so breaking even or a little better was just gravy. Kat’s steampunk-Lolita outfit was apparently too understated to get much attention, but she’s going to add more “steam punk” accessories, and more lace to Lolita it up. She did get a hall ribbon for her tutu. I don’t think Willow got anything, because she’s been resting ever since they got back (late Monday- they missed the turn and went through the middle of New York City), but they did get to hang with people who understand them.
And she’s talking about getting a pod for the roof of her car so that next con she can take some of the bulkier props like her pink scythe. Since I got back I’ve plunged back into getting my book, Subtle Pagans, written. I may give up on the format I’d planned and just organize it by describing and quoting the responses to each of the questions I asked. It’s easier to find them in the returned questions that way. Kat had been going to pull them out into a database for me, but got distracted, and it never happened. I’m aiming at 4 hours a day on the book- which should leave me time to do the sculpting and painting (I think I sold six sculptures this weekend).
Sometimes we theorize that there must be hidden cameras around and our lives are a sit-com called 4 Oaks Farm. Tuesday I was pretty sure the episode was focused on me because it was such a comedy of errors. I was accompanying Honour to take a form to the super of her apartment because she can’t deal with him alone anymore, and it took me about two hours to get out, because I kept loosing track of things, when I finally got there there was no where to park, so I squished in between the dumpster and the back of a truck that was taking up two spaces, got as far as the front door, dropped my keys, then when I got inside, noticed I’d left my umbrella in the lobby when dialing to be buzzed in, when we got back to the car (having retrieved the umbrella) the keys were nowhere to be found, we checked back in her apartment, asked the super’s wife if they’d been turned in, then used Honour’s car to go to the library to make copies of the form she needed. When we got there, we didn’t have the forms, and the first time I went to look for them, I forgot to take the keys, and had to go back for them, etc. etc. etc. all day long. Eventually we found my keys (they’d fallen out of my purse in my car), got the forms copied and mailed, and even went to the recycling center and had a nice lunch. I’m sure the audience loved it.
I think we all have a touch of schadenfreude (getting pleasure from someone else’s’ pain). I think it’s based in being reassured that the gods have not singled us out to pick on, but these kinds of days happen to everyone. We laugh because this time it’s not us! (Enjoy!)
Other totally non-monumental happenings in our lives include that Amber, the pregnant cat (I’ve taken to calling her “Round Cat”) still hasn’t kindled and she’s looking quite comically shaped. I haven’t been able to get a really good picture of her walking away (the funniest view). A total head on (or tail on) view is what I’m hoping to get because it really shows her roundness.
I made an interesting red soup this week with red cabbage, red onions, kidney beans and one of Arwen’s vindaloo (I think) blends that has beet powder in it (also some tomato and chicken broth). I’ve spent entirely too much time on Gaia, and am trying to cut back. It’s a lot like playing solitare- or paper dolls. One gets immediate gratification, but it can be such a time sucker.
Kat’s birthday is tomorrow. She’s going to be 22. (One card so far.) The girls are out shopping for birthday presents for her. Also, I think they are going to go to Boston where you can rent a private Karaoke room for $30 an hour this weekend. Tomorrow it’ll be just dinner with cake and presents. I continue with the Japanese lessons, mostly in the car, although I spent more time listening to the Roman History course on the trip up and down from Beltaine than that. There’s a lot of drama in Roman history.
I’m watching a lot of old TV shows, MASH (which I get from the Library, I’m up to season 8), Supernatural, the next disk of Primeval, the Young Indiana Jones (this one on Mata Hari). Star got the Tale of the Mummy with Christopher Lee, but I still think the Brendan Frazer version is the best. First of all, Lee’s part lasted all of five minutes. Second, the mummy wins. I don’t mind the implication that the monster could come back- that is a basic warning that we must never get complacent about evil. I just don’t like it when the bad guy wins.
And finally, since I’d taken out an audio course from the library on the Spartans, I got a documentary on them which has a lot of cool images I wish I could steal to copy for my art.
Weird Holidays this week:
6 American Grump-out, No Diet Day, Nurses Day, Crepe Suzette Day
7 Kat’s Birthday, National Day of Prayer and Day of Reason, Leg of Lamb Day
8 No Socks Day, V E day, Red Cross Day, Coconut Creme Pie Day
9 Miniature Golf, Train, Fair Trade, Butterscotch Brownie, & Stay-up-all-night Days
10 Mothers Day, Windmill Day, Shrimp Day
11 Eat What you Want Day, Fibromialgia Awareness Day, Mocha Torte Day
12 Limerick Day, Nutty Fudge Day
Tchipakkan “We are what we think. All that we are arises from our thoughts. With our thoughts, we make the world.” Buddha