National Dessert Day!

view out my windowThe weather today is mixed- some rain and overcast, some sun. The trees are incredible. As I understand it, we are not yet in peak color, but I always like it best when there is still green to contrast to the golds and reds, and they are so bright that they smack your eyes even when the sun isn’t shining on them, and when it is…. Wow! The view out my bedroom window has a maple that’s just gorgeous when I wake up in the morning.

Last Thursday John and I went over to Mark’s to help him with his storage lockers again. He’s inspiring, as he goes through and lets go of books he may not read again. I think there were a dozen cartons of them this time, the SF will be set aside for Ed Dragonslayer who can find new homes for them, the rest will go into those book recycling collection boxes. Kat and I had also made appointments to donate blood, and since I was out (I stopped there on the way back- missed my appointment but they still took my blood), Willow drove Kat. Since she was there, she looked through the fact booklet and discovered that they’d changed their minds and will take blood from CFS donors again- so she got to donate for the first time in a few years. She says it still hurts. When one considers that pressure sensitivity is a diagnostic sign, I suppose that’s not surprising. So they got 3 pints from our family this week. Yay!

Since I wasn’t a clan leader this year, I didn’t have to get to Twilight Covening until Friday evening. OK, the bottom line was, I needed to get there before dark because I don’t do well reading signs after dark. Sadly, I am a procrastinator, and having figured out that Sunset was at 6:30, googlemaps said it was a three and a half hour drive, I aimed at leaving at 2. But before I left, I had to pack my bedding, my clothing, and make sure everything I was supposed to have done before I left- although it didn’t seem like as much as when I’m a leader when I’ve got a lot of handouts, tools, decor, and such to get ready. On the other hand, I wanted to finishing posting the updated schedule for the conference, and schedule the posts for the CTCW blog, and Kat had finished a new poster with head shots of the speakers for me to pass along down at Twilight. I felt the “need” to change things around a bit (“you haven’t got any men on the top” “the performers should be in the corners” sort of thing), but it’s really gorgeous, and Kat’s very tolerant. I started to print a copy out, but it was pale and wan. Sadly, grabbing the “few things” and giving up and putting the most recent draft of the schedule on the website (rather than plugging each workshop time in as I STILL need to get to, took until after 3. I didn’t actually pull out of the driveway until 3:20. Then I decided to stop at Staples and print out 25 copies. The good news is, that we did distribute about 50 cards and all the posters to the folks at Twilight, and even though the early bird price is past, we are still getting registrations. The bad news is that I didn’t get in until 8. Luckily, I was off the highway and onto small roads where the speed limit was often 25-35 miles an hour when it got dark so I didn’t irritate too many people who would have been happier if I could go faster. My feeling that I need to not drive after dark is reinforced.

2015CTCW headshotsposterIt is a nice poster isn’t it? Actually, there’s been one change. Yesterday I got a note from one of our speakers, a couple, that they couldn’t make it, and we’d had their pictures on the poster. Poor Kat had had to photoshop them closer together to fit them in the circles. But we replaced them and will be able to print out new ones if we can find places to put them up.

Someone asked me when I got back and posted my “I got back safe” post, what Twilight Covening is, as the whole world doesn’t know, just because I go. TC is an event by the EarthSpirit Community that is described as a “four day ritual.” Earth Spirit does have other events- the huge pagan festival Rites of Spring, and a winter ball Feast of Lights. Twilight is held out at Camp Hi Rock in the wilds of western Massachusetts and consists of a lot of intensive spiritual work both as a big (around 160 people) group and in smaller ( around 12) “clans”. (I have no idea where the name came from, but I think this was the 20th or 30th year.) Lot’s of chanting, “journeying”, talk of spirit matters. While I’m not fond of a lot of rituals, I do appreciate being in a group of other people who, when you talk about energy working and spiritual matters, you neither need to apologize, or ‘test the waters’ to see if they are open to such subjects; you can just explore the practices in an environment of complete support and acceptance.
Having not gotten enough folks in my “clan” (I was trying the Divination one again), I had to decide whether to go to TC this year. I decided that I could use four days off from living and breathing CTCW, the website, advertising, and other issues that I don’t feel qualified to handle. I was in the Caribou Clan with Jane (whose Walrus Clan didn’t run either) and our friend Rose. This clan was about women, and I’m perhaps more uncomfortable with that than I should be since I am one. Jane and I were the oldest. I came up with the idea of another clan one to explore the issues of aging. Sadly, I’d rather be in that clan than run it, since the reason I think it’s a great idea is that I really wish I had someone to help me figure out how to navigate these waters. When I was a mother, I had my mother, and mothers in law and other mothers around me with whom I could compare notes, and share experiences. At this point, the older women to whom I’ve been closest have all died, and the folks my age are also just faking it. We still feel like teenagers who are trying to figure out how to fill our parents roles, and wondering why we have to deal with aching, and dribbling, and losing various capacities rather than gaining – which is what we’re used to. Oh well.
As I said, we did a lot of trance journeying- which means you meditate, get your brains from Beta frequencies into Alpha, Theta, Delta… in simple terms, you go into a trance, and in that state you can access information you otherwise couldn’t. I’m not bad at Alpha and Theta- I can open myself up to light trance- that’s what you do when you do psychometry. But with deep trance, I get amnesia and have no idea what happened between the “relax, and imagine yourself…” part to the “take a deep breath and come back into your body. Open your eyes.” It’s more than a bit frustrating, and I often wonder whether I just fell asleep sitting up.
During one of the first “clan times” we were each supposed to figure out what we were supposed to be doing for the weekend. I relaxed and got “I’m supposed to give…” but couldn’t figure out what I was supposed to give. On to the next woman. The trick in that situation is to relax and not judge what comes into your head. It’s when you think too hard that you can’t hear the little voice that is giving you information you’ve been resisting consciously. Then it came to me. “…a shit.” I was supposed to give a shit. I hope you don’t find the crude language offensive, but funny. Certainly the other ladies in the circle did. It became a running gag through out the weekend.  The final ritual was one of the most amazing things that Earth Spirit does- the create environments in which the participants can have spiritual experiences. Usually this happens at night after dark, but this year it was during the afternoon, although it went on into the evening. Because they simply create the place for you to have your experience, each person’s is different, and as they say, you get out of it, what you put into it. It can be a walk in the woods, or it can be a journey to other realms. Sadly, as I walked one of the things I discovered was that I don’t exercise enough. The magical pathway led around the small lake (Plantain Pond), and I think was about a mile and a half- maybe two miles by the time we got back to the dining hall. They had made arches and various stations where each person could interact and explore something, but at the same time, at the moment I passed a point where we were asked to listen- suddenly a crow cawed. They didn’t set THAT up, these things just happen. You get out of it what you put in. But then toward the end something else started getting my attention. I really did have to have a bowel movement. And I was out in the woods, alone (although I was on a marked path with people before me and behind me), and if I went offside, I wasn’t sure that I could leave my “gift of compost” somewhere that the large group of volunteers who make sure that everyone is safe on this journey wouldn’t step in it- that any leaves I put over it would concealed not protect. Let’s just say it was distracting. And when I got back and remembered the “give a shit” joke, I couldn’t help relating them.
On the other hand, having gone ahead of most people, while I didn’t get a chance to participate in the candlelit procession, I got to watch it come in- everyone chanting the All Beings of the Earth chant together: “Sing the Healing Song, Rising; Swim the Healing Deeps, Feeling, Will the Healing Fire, Changing; Walk the Healing Earth, Being.” I also loved that Kelly, the co-leader of the clan with Rose, taught us the ASL movements for the chant.
The food is good and made by us, everyone takes a kitchen shift. I think that does more to create community than anything else. Working together on any project does. I got to make the oatmeal- which is a trick when you are doing 5 gallons at a time. The first morning when we came in, the gas had gone out, so the breakfast crew put out cold food and toasted waffles in an electric toaster 6 at a time! Halfway through our shift the water pressure failed. Luckily the oatmeal was already on, but I think some folks may have missed their coffee. There was always good salad, and vegetarian alternatives. I remember when I first went being so reassured to see them chopping vegetables and cracking huge flats of eggs to make the quiche and other egg dishes, not using mixes. There’s also a large communal soup that everyone brings a vegetable (that they grew themselves if possible) to contribute. This year it was actually rather good. Too often it is overpowered with the squash that are large and impressive looking, but can dominate the soup. At the end they put out ziplocks so people can take leftovers home. Waste is not respectful. I brought home a mushroom quiche and some fruit.
Obviously, most of what happened was personal. I had some GREAT conversations with the other ladies in the clan, I remember one where several of us discovered a mutual interest in theatre, and boggled Rose at our intense discussions about Shakespere, and various film versions we’d seen and recommended to each other. I suppose that might happen anywhere. But another time Rose was sharing some of her shamanic experiences when she was dealing with the Civil War dead- and how she reached them because she and many of the officers had Masonry in common. Incredible! (in the Amazing way- not the unbelievable way).
While I didn’t read anything while I was gone, I did listen to the Odyssey of the West audios on the way down and back- I’ve now reached the Middle Ages. I fear that I do not appreciate Augustine and Boethus as much as I did Plato and Virgil, but we really have turned the corner from the Classical to the Medieval world, and if I were going to describe it in one word it would be depressing. It is good to have perspective, but it’s really not as exciting as many other things I’ve studied.
I got back on Monday evening. The kids had had a quiet time while I was gone. Willow was working on her cosplay for Another Anime Con which included a large curly pink wig. She had a long straight pink wig and was doing her best to curl it, but it resisted her efforts. She has decided to simply not do Rose Quartz this weekend but finish some more blankets. She has decided to change the design of this green and yellow one- she says she sells almost as many of these as all the others put together. At this point I think she’s just backing ones she’s done creating. I think she was doing a series of Pokemon generations of Evie- very cute characters. Sadly, I don’t think there are pictures of those yet-  but here’s a random picture of some of her blankets.triforce blanket
I also did not get a picture of the skirt Kat just made. I’ve actually misplaced my camera- very frustrating when there’s so many lovely things I want to shoot.  Kat’s new skirt is in a poppy pattern, with “miles” of red lace. She turns heads wherever she goes. They’ve also re-done her roots. I don’t think she’s made a new cosplay for this con.  They did not go to the local excitement this weekend: the Milford Pumpkin Festival (now that Keene’s done, a bigger deal than ever). I was somewhat surprised that the Library announced that it was going to be closed during the festival. I have a sneaking suspicion it’s to avoid strangers stopping in there to use the rest-room, since Milford has very few businesses with public restrooms. I’m sure they had portajohns, but still most people prefer flushies.blankets

What I did read, when I got back, was Kings The Colorado Kid, his venture into a straight mystery. The point was that it was mysterious, the newspaper folks working on it decided that it was just inexplicable, and therefore no good as a story. People like to have some sort of explanation. They also decided that for some reason the guy who’d left Colorado for no reason and turned up dead in Maine with only a few hours to make the trip MUST have chartered a private jet to get there because “when you’ve eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth”. On the other hand, even though it was a Stephen King story, they didn’t even suggest the possibility of time-travel, tesseracts, or anything else that is commonly considered “impossible”. I find this frustrating because (especially with the philosophy I have been studying) we don’t really know what’s impossible. We have a common set of agreements, which are constantly being over-turned, and yet this seems to make us cling even more firmly to the remaining assumptions. You can’t be in two places at once. You can’t effect the weather, or your health, there is no ESP. If you think any of these things is true, you are deluding yourself, you are a poor scientist. You MUST have altered the data. But they will alter data to make it match their preconceptions.  Let me be more fair. We will ALL filter data so that it matches our preconceptions. It’s just more comfortable that way. It’s easier to assume others are wrong than to change the way we behave. Speaking of which, I saw a marvelous TED talk when I got back. You may have heard me ranting about how we need to take the uncounted costs into account when making policies. Apparently there are organizations starting to do this. Watch The price of Nature; it will only take fifteen minutes. They say  “you cannot manage what you do not measure”, and really, until we give the policy makers some solid data that shows them just how much resources they are giving away and how much it’s going to cost us in the long run- or even a shorter run, they aren’t going to do anything. Ah, but if we can COUNT it, then it counts!
John continues to watch horror movies. I caught part of the Pit and the Pendulum and Tales of Terror (lovely bit with a mashup of Poe’s Black Cat and Casque of Amontillado with Peter Lorre).
I have now paused to try and figure out something else that has happened this week. Since I got back I’ve tried to get the schedule posted, but I keep finding things that need changing. I made gumbo yesterday, then discovered that Gumbo Day was Monday. And, tonight I tried to do my podcast. My guest was a kitchen witch and we were going to talk about food, which would have been fun, but we had massive technological problems. The producer simply told me to try again tomorrow night with a different company- which he just signed up for, but hasn’t tried yet, but they have a tutorial and it should be easy- good luck. Oh joy. I am SO not looking forward to THAT!  Oh, yes, speaking of technology- our oven will not heat. I have called a repairman, investing a hundred dollars in the hopes that I won’t have to spend a thousand on a new stove.
I’ll try to read, cook, watch or do something interesting next week. Meanwhile, feel free to tell me what you’ve been up to. Send me pictures of your kids, or your lunch. I am easily amused. Sadly I have seen far too many “My mother/father/ friend has passed on last night” posts on the internet. There is really nothing useful to say to that other than “thanks for letting me know”, and that seems callus.

“The trouble with having an open mind of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it.” Terry Pratchett