31 December 2009

Authenticity

(I will be so very happy when I can put pictures up again. The New Year promises internet at home, huzzah!)

Celebrations have come and gone.

I was very fortunate this year to have Christmas Eve off in its entirety. We spent the day baking cookies and the evening traveling to friends' homes for food, fun and holiday cheer. It was wonderful, but I totally admit to being a morning person, so by 10 PM I was turning into a pumpkin.

Christmas morning was full of fun and change. This was my first Christmas in my own home. Each year before I would take the niblets to my parents' home, to spend the night and days afterward and basically have the same sort of holiday I grew up with. Even if it wasn't quite what I wanted to do, but it was family, and family is a big deal around the holidays here.

Friday was about family also. My family. I awoke in my own bed to hear the niblets downstairs enjoying a video and their stockings. A wonderful thing about blending families is blending traditions: for my husband, we hung the stockings on Christmas Eve and got to sleep in while the kids went through their stockings; for myself, we opened presents after I had my prerequisite cup of coffee (or three). We let the niblets hand out gifts, and enjoyed in turn what Santa and family brought us.

That afternoon we went to my parents home, where there was enough food for three times the amount of people, where my mom made sure everyone had a wonderful Christmas, almost at the expense of herself. She just had surgery last Wednesday, but seemed to forget that. (Heart surgery, mind you. How do you forget THAT?!?!) I sat amidst my family as presents were handed out, paper was flying, children were cheering - all in all, the same sort of Christmas I have had every year since I was a child. And felt very overwhelmed and lost in it.

Don't get me wrong, my family is wonderful and supportive and giving - it was just...too much, in many ways. I got to compare two very different family rituals, one created with my assistance, one with just my participation. It was quite a difference, but both full of love.

But, the niblets loved their time in both places, and new and old family traditions are being formed and melded. And I had a chance to begin my own family holiday - the ritual that has been needed for so long with those closest to me, my heart, my family. My own. I got to have it the way I wanted, pretty much. A piece of authenticity in my Life.

Realizing through the years that I haven't always put my best Self - my true Self - forward has now become the focus for this next one. Many times I see that when the niblets are away, I can let my hair down, kick my shoes off, and behave like "the person I want to be". So, what does that say to my children, to other parents I associate with, to my husband? That I can't be my true Self unless I feel unfettered? That I am always more stressed being a mother than being a woman? That I live separate lives, depending on the company I keep? How do I teach my children lessons on always being true to themselves and the world, if I cannot live those lessons myself?

The coming of the New Year brings many, including myself, to compile a list of resolutions, goals to focus on as the Wheel turns and the world celebrates ushering out the old. Many of these are picked up and dropped year after year: losing weight, being healthy, finding more joy, taking time for yourself, lessening stress, being better.

How can I better myself if I am not being My Self? I can strive to be my "best" Self, but had it pointed out that the real way to be my best is to be my most authentic Self. To live the Life I want as the person I truly am, at every moment.

So, my New Year's Resolution, is to rediscover (or discover for possibly the first time) my most authentic Self. And be Me.

Happy New Year.

23 December 2009

A Little Light

We have passed the Winter Solstice, when darkness begins to lose its grip and light begins to take over our days again.

We are approaching Christmas, with many changes in my household, and much to rejoice in.

The New Year is coming. The Wheel shall turn again, wishes and resolutions made (and probably unmade shortly after) and Time will once again show that some things never change, never stop.

I wish I had pictures for this post. Of the candles my children and I put in the window Monday night. Of the cookies that will be made tomorrow for Santa. Of my family, and friends, and everything that brings joy to my Life and my Path.

But, today (and until I have internet at home in a week) all I have are these words. They are enough for now.

Merry Christmas.

10 December 2009

Another Year


Yes, another case of pictures packed away. But at least I have THIS one!


Since I told my younger one's birth story - I guess it is only fair (to me and to you all, NOT the girl, as she would tell you if she reads this) to tell the one of my oldest.

Heeding the advice of my well-read pregnancy books, (being a bookstore employee at the time, and a librarian now, I could tell you how important I thought it was to garner all the knowledge I could from books...but I digress) I left work on my due date, December 4th.

I was already out of work for almost a week. It was worse than waiting for water to boil, or paint to dry. It is amazing how many times you can re-fold onesies, rewash blankets, and generally go even more stir-crazy when your body, and your baby, is paying no heed to what the books are telling you!

I had also been having contractions on and off for the last two days. Finally on the 9th they were regular and about 15 minutes apart so I called my mother to travel out the 2+ hours and she, my boyfriend and I traveled to the hospital. We checked in and I was evaluated, about 3 centimeters.

After another six hours, that was where I stayed. Contractions were stronger, but going no where. Frustrations were high - well, mine were. And the hospital sent me home that evening.

Really. They sent me HOME. What was I going to do if all of a sudden the baby just decided to fall out and I was at HOME, in a trailer nearing winter and I couldn't get to the car or the pipes suddenly froze because everyone KNOWS you need hot water when a baby is coming! But, I digress.

Three hours later the contractions were strong and five minutes apart. I really didn't care at that point, I would sit in the hospital waiting rooms (or even in the parking lot. That would show them.) til that child came out, but I was going TO. THE. HOSPITAL. This was around midnight.

Eleven hours later I had made a couple more centimeters progress, and discovered that there was no good television programs on between 2 and 6AM. (This was 1996, btw, WAS there any good television back then?) My midwife finally checked in and decided that she'd try breaking my water to see if that would speed things up some more.

That did it. (WHY this couldn't have been done, oh, a couple hours or days EARLIER?) My daughter was born at 1:19PM that December 10th.

She took her own sweet time about it - as she does most things these days. Thirteen years have come and gone. I have moved her from place to place, school to school. She was present when her father and I finally got married - and divorced. We have had some tough days (okay, months). I have watched her grow from the baby who would bounce up and down and "dance" to "Tubthumping" to the young lady leaping across stage in dance performances last year. Growing from the drama queen who earned the nickname "Hollywood" at her after school program in first grade to...well, okay, she's a girl. I guess that hasn't changed much.

Today, she is officially a teenager. I am awed watching this child grow, and do things SO differently (and some things SO similarly) than myself. Especially since the first words out of most mouths are "She looks JUST like you!"


Would you know they were related?

I see that, sometimes. But I see a lot of her father, and her paternal grandmother, in her too. Now, at this age, I am starting to see the loneliness of being a teen - and one that doesn't always march to the beat of the same drum as others - and remember MY years.


I'll find my way out. Eventually.

Not that anything I did would have anything to pertain to what my daughter is going through. Because I am a parent. And I don't understand. And I am just trying to make her miserable. By making her eat breakfast and do her homework and wear a coat when it is 25 degrees out and she walks five blocks to the bus stop.... Crap. I AM a mother, aren't I?

Today I look upon the face of my daughter and remember the little peanut I could almost balance in one hand on my shoulder thirteen years ago - and know that I am blessed.


Happy Birthday sweetheart. You know I love you.

And yes, I know I am embarrassing you. Don't roll your eyes at me.

30 November 2009

It's a House

Change is in the air...

These past two months have been full of them. After a summer of relationship negotiations, of coming to terms and wondering about reality - I cast out on the table everything I had in my heart, plus a few ideas in my head. And I got a lot of answers on the hook.

I got married a month ago. An autumn day of laughter, friends, food and fun, I ended an almost-eighteen year back and forth "can we or can't we?" with a ring and a promise. As did he.

Just over three weeks ago, we moved. The original plan was to settle into my apartment for the winter and look in the spring. We didn't want to move the niblets from their schools, even though it meant staying urban when our souls scream for the country, we are pretty settled in our jobs and but not ready to put down roots and purchase a place.

So, we made the decision for him to give up his place and move into mine. Then three days later, I found this:

Not too long before we moved in...

We went to meet the owner that same night, and shook hands over the kitchen island at the end of it. Then proceeded to flip out in the car on the way home (just a little). It is a rental, but it's still a house. No neighbors footsteps echoing above, no voices below. A place we can make a home for the next years, to settle in and have space. A good yard for the kids, space for all of us plus company. I can have my wash line and composter outside. I get to have my vegetable garden in the back.

And flowers and herbs and berry bushes...a girl can have dreams, you know?

It's more than a house really. Especially now that the boxes are pretty much cleared out. Still some shifting and patching to do, but we have plenty of time to settle in, with winter coming on. Plenty of time.

Because we are home.

18 October 2009

Binding

I know it has been a long time. School has started for the niblets and the past weeks have flown. Autumn is usually a time of slowing down, preparing to bed. But my time has been rather rushed. Especially for one particular reason:


An autumn altar with the four elements tucked in between.




Harvest-coloured flowers for hair and hand.



A vow, a ring, a kiss.

Plus I have to move next weekend. But that will be a few pages into this new chapter I am writing in my Life pages. For now, I will enjoy this memory of Saturday, and be present for the new moments I get to share.

21 July 2009

Nine Years Ago Today

My son was born.

All my birth and infant pics are in storage. Oops.

But I can still tell your birth story.

I had been having contractions for the previous two days, and this was your projected due date. Your sister was six days late, so I wasn't too concerned when I left work for my 40 week checkup. Then the midwife told me I was already five centimeters dilated.

I waited up all night because I knew that you were coming, and we even gave the midwife an extra hour's sleep. The second can certainly be quicker.

Into the world, fast and furious. Fast, only three hours after arriving at the hospital. Furious, because you were 2.5 pounds larger than expected. Will never forget the look on the midwife's face.

"Oh. He is bigger than I thought."

Yup. You were my big boy. Still are. Loved by your family forever and a day. I celebrate each moment we have together.

Thank you for telling me you will always love me and never want to leave me (although you may change your mind after graduating high school, or in a couple days).

I love you too niblet. Happy Birthday.

17 July 2009

#followalibrarian

I have been on Twitter (@booksNyarn) for a couple months now. It has been a good way to check in on friends, colleagues and interests. You get to "follow" people - and people follow you.

Each Friday is a Follow Friday. Users will hash tag (#) their subject in the tweet and then people can search Twitter for those conversations based on that hash tag. The top ones will be shown on your Twitter profile.

Today was started #followalibrarian and I was awestruck by the amount of virtual colleagues and cohorts I could find. New connections for work and play are always a find. I went from around 60 followers to over 100, and met some new librarians along the way.

Follow along!

09 July 2009

Reading List

Summer has brought a lot more to do - and the time passes much faster than school days (Why IS that?)

However, the niblets and I still make it to the library once a week. Not only to receive my fix of the greatest free addiction a person could have (I can have all the books I want for FREE? And I don't have to store them in my house; I can give them back?) but of course the kids also have reading assignments over the summer. Trying to convince them that yes, Dracula is a classic but no, I still don't think they will accept you reading the graphic novel form, has been a challenge.

Especially since the only time I read Wuthering Heights was in third grade. In a graphic novel. This is where the "Do as I say not as I have done" argument gets inserted.

But, I do have a stack in my living room that includes:

How I Learned To Cook: Culinary Educations from some of the World's Greatest Chefs, edited by Kimberly Wit

How To Freeze: Everything You Needed to Know about Freezing and Freezer Management by Carolyn Humphries

The Everything Canning & Preserving Book: All You Need to Know to Enjoy Natural Healthy Foods Year After Year

Childhood Unbound: Saving Our Kids Best Selves - Confident Parenting in a World of Change by Ron Taf

Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg

Made From Scratch: Discovering the Pleasures of a Handmade Life by Jenna Woginrich

I also recently purchased a book that I have read but knew I needed to add to my collection: Plenty by Alisa Smith. In Canada, this was called The 100-Mile Diet, and brought to light the notion of buying locally.

Many people used to think this was a quirk - local buying, canning and preserving, growing food. It used to be a pleasure, a hobby. For many, it wasn't a consideration. But in this day and age, with what our country, even our world, is facing, I believe a lot of the future will be based in the past. Ideas, pastimes, even civilizations are created and destroyed, picked up and put down and picked up again. The Wheel Turns.

04 July 2009

What Do June Showers Bring?

Rain has been rather consistent this past month. I have heard reports of 27 out of 30 days had rain here. Don't get me wrong - I love rain. It has beauty - both in sight and sound. Lying in bed listening to the rain fall is a wonderful pastime. Except when that time is 4am and you cannot get back to sleep.

The rain nourishes the Earth. It is a very important part of the cycle of Life, and I would rather have it than not. It makes the days that the sun comes and makes his presence known that much more dramatic.

And the rain's effects can be dramatic also.


This is what I started out with for my tomatoes. The transplants were about six weeks old and pretty hardy.

Now I have these:


Needless to say they are a LOT bigger. I had Romas last year, and the plants were of decent albeit smaller size, not quite 3 feet tall. This year I have heirlooms: Black Brandywine and Orange Banana and Green Skin Long Keeper. They are large plants. Many have topped the stakes I put in.


My only real concern with the large amounts of rain is that there will be not enough sunshine to help produce the tomatoes. But, we still have a lot of July to go. I am hopeful.

I had some new plants this year too, for the little faerie garden I put in out front: foxglove and violets and bee balm. They have grown huge also, overtaking the planter and swooping down towards the grass. While I certainly wouldn't mind them running rampant through the yard, my landlords probably would. But, I did have my first bee balm bloom, and I can see why those insects would be drawn there. Gorgeous.

14 June 2009

Food Glorious Food

I got the email this week that our local U-Pick Orchard was opening up their strawberry patch. After the rainy week, and expected sunny skies on Saturday, I knew that getting there earlier than later would be essential. But, I have another orchard I like to go to, so I had a backup plan just in case.

And Saturday was sunny for sure! Bright sun and blue skies, it's been a while since we saw them. After the kids appointment in the morning we swung through a drive thru to get lunch (sometimes, you do what you have to do) and I called the automated picking line to make sure the patches hadn't been cleaned out before we got there. Still open, so off we went.

Finding a parking spot was hard, but not impossible. We queued up to get our baskets and off to the rows. They had people directing us to rows, reminding us to stay in them, mark where you stop with the little flag, and gave us a white bucket for any squashed or spoiled berries along the way.



After about ten minutes the niblets began to lose interest, but I moved them through filling their baskets as I worked on mine. Lots of people were out in the field, including row jumpers who didn't seem to remember what the rules were. I wanted to remind them, I also wanted to beat them with my flag marker, but I figured that would not set a good example for the kids.



Baskets filled, we checked out and moved the strawberries to the car. A good haul, over 14 lbs. worth. Then I let the children wander off to the playground, including the goats and ducks kept in a bordering pen. With children all over and food dispensers, the goats know they have it good.



Today we had rain and I have begun the process of washing, hulling and freezing the berries. I did a lot of jam last year, more than I planned with the ice storm and subsequent defrost of all my summer berries. I am sure I will do a little more, but I wanted to do some fresh stuff also.

This week has brought a lot of turmoil inside. Everyone has those days; I guess this week I was getting my fair share, plus a couple more. When times are hard, it is pretty easy to get restless and just need to do something. Something to move, something to soothe my soul - gardening in the rain doesn't hold real appeal, so I turn to baking. I had bananas stored in the freezer already and thought some banana bread would be good, and dug up my standard recipe (from Better Homes & Gardens New Cookbook, spiralbound), but hit the muffin recipe first. So, I threw together a batch of those, and decided to turn it up a notch with strawberries. Then they went into the bread.



Then I decided to throw together one more batch of muffins, but had used up all the bananas. But I sure have enough strawberries! Throw in a little lemon juice and zest, and I have enough to freeze for another week also.

It doesn't answer my questions or make the Path and smoother, but at least I have some snacks for along the way.


08 June 2009

Lavender


The scent drifts onto the front porch some days. I have three lavender plants in the front - and one of the Munsteads was just blooming. I didn't harvest the plant I had last year. It isn't a lot, but there are still closed buds on this plant, and many, many more on another.

I've been looking for a simple project to break in my sewing machine. It intimidates me a little, and I have only used it to hem my daughter's curtains. However, I think some sachets may be just the ticket.

02 June 2009

Blogging For Toys

I have blogged for a lot of things in the past - and today I am blogging for a giveaway!

No, not my own. Unless you want two niblets. One is entering puberty, so I can give you a great deal.

Anyhoo, today in my blogroll perusal I came across this giveaway from The Grocery Shrink Blog. She has been blessed by a donation of a Vado HD Pocket camcorder! It looks like an awesome toy. I can do some video with my smartphone and my camera, but this looks like it would beat the quality of both!

For details, and your own chance to win, head on over to her blog!

Dairy Queen

I have learned a lot of new things to cook and bake by studiously avoiding them with lots of excuses about time, money, and imminent failure before finally jumping in. It seems to work, so I am not going to mess with that sequence.

I have Ricki Carroll's Home Cheese Making sitting on my bookshelf and a mozzerella kit in my pantry. I really would love to try them with raw milk, but do not have a local source. Last weekend I went grocery shopping and was stocking up on various sundries, including the ever-disappearing-from-my-household butter and yogurt.

Butter has a bad rap, but I refuse to use the processed stuff. My parents' home now stocks margarine in all it's low-fat-low-cholesterol-we-say-it's-good-for-you solids and sprays. Not my idea of yummy. Or natural. I also eat a lot of yogurt now. I am not too much of a milk drinker anymore, and my consumption of ice cream has dwindled. But yogurt has been a great substitute, and when I was introduced to Greek yogurt, with its thick texture, I was hooked. But boy, it is NOT cheap.

So, I started roaming the internet halls to find a recipe for yogurt to make at home. I was perusing yogurt makers too, cause when you start working with liquids and stoves and monitoring temperatures to a certain degree, my head begins to spin from all the details. A friend of mine on Facebook mentioned making yogurt, and I asked her if she did it "by hand" or had a yogurt maker.

She did it by hand. But she did it easily - in a crockpot. She used a recipe from a blog that is one of my favorites, A Year of Crockpotting. I read over the instructions, no thermometer needed. Well, I did, but that is because I didn't follow the recipe quite exactly. Which I know with dairy products and the introduction of bacteria - deliberate or not - isn't always a healthy thing. But hey, as I said before, I have my sequence.

So off to the dairy I went to get a gallon of milk - even going the whole milk route since I was trying it the first time (I wanted to avoid imminent failure, just hints of it were fine). While there I decided to go full in and grabbed a quart of heavy cream also. While internet shopping for yogurt recipes, I started thinking about the butter that we go through in our house (it isn't just me, thank you). With costs rising, why not try making my own? And as much as I would love to own a Dazey churn, I found that my Kitchenaid mixer would be an excellent substitute. Although this one would also be nice, just in case I need butter during a blackout.



So, first the yogurt. I dumped a half gallon of whole milk into my slow cooker to cook for 2.5 hours. Easy. Then the directions said that it would need to cool for three hours before adding the yogurt. You need to add yogurt with live cultures to rev things up and start the whole process. I had about a half cup left from my Trader Joe's Greek yogurt, so I was all set on that. However, during the cooling process, I realized that I was going to be leaving the house before the three hours was up. Should I cancel? No way - I was going to see Star Trek. Not gonna happen. So, I did take it's temperature as the deadline approached, and although it hadn't quite reached 110 degrees, I dumped in the yogurt, covered and swaddled the whole thing and went on my merry way.

*I am not giving the standard recipe I used, since I didn't follow it and only want to be responsible for my own Self! However, you can find full instructions for the crockpot yougurt recipe here.


It could sit for eight hours, or overnight, so I went the overnight route. Not lazy, just following directions. I awoke to a solidified yogurt with whey settling on top. I am not a fan of whey, I know there are things to do with it, but haven't jumped there yet. However, I knew I wanted it as thick as Greek yogurt, so I lined my colander with cheesecloth (from the unused cheese making kit) and strained it.



While this was straining, I decided to throw caution to the wind and make the butter. It's pretty easy too. Beat until butter. How can you go wrong? (Shhh. It was a rhetorical question.) I didn't want just plain butter though, so I threw a head of garlic in my oven.



Into the mixer the cream went. It isn't a very exciting view, but you see the whole process of it going from liquid to soft peak to hard peak. Then, somewhere in between blinks, the whole of it collapses in on itself and liquid rushes to the bottom of the bowl. Your butter, and buttermilk, have arrived.

One thing all the instructions say is that you must wash the butter to get the extra buttermilk out, or it will go rancid pretty quick. First I beat water in the bowl, but that was a lot of manuvering to keep emptying the bowl. I took out the clumps of butter - not easy from a whisk - into a colander and washed it there. Once the water ran clean, I was done. I mixed a little salt into the whole, then I separated a large chunk out, about 3/4 cups, and mixed it with the roasted garlic. Both were shaped into logs and wrapped in plastic wrap.


(None of my butter pictures turned out well. Must be shy.)

I drained the leftover buttermilk into a container. I don't normally use it, but didn't really want to waste it, so I found a buttermilk bread recipe and threw the ingredients in my bread maker. Of course, I went to bed after this, so although it shuts off it also made the bread fall. It still tastes fine though, no complaints. One of these days, I may follow ALL the instructions. One of these days.

Oh, and the yogurt? With a lot of the whey drained off it is a thick and creamy consistency, just as good as store-bought Greek-style yogurt. The tang is different, I am honestly not sure if it is not as tangy, or just tangy in a different way. But it is good.


All in all, I loved making this stuff. I know that I will probably do the yogurt weekly, since I can eat it every day. The butter maybe not as much, but I will enjoy experimenting with flavored butters through the next months.

Now, about that cheese kit...

01 June 2009

What Makes a Family?


Today is Blogging for LGBT Families Day. Across the US - and I am sure many other countries - people are writing about the effect of being a gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgendered parent, a child of one, a relative, a friend, a supporter - maybe even a non-supporter (I will respect your opinion, but I won't read agree with it).

You can find a lot more posts through Mombian, and co-sponsored by the Family Equality Council.

Right now, I am single. I have been married to, then divorced from my children's father. I have been in relationships both before and after with people of both genders. I have sat in my son's class with all the other parents listening to a presentation from one about "my two Moms", and had discussions with my daughter about hearing kids tease and bully by calling each other "gay". I have taught at Sunday School and had numerous children picked up by parents, gay and straight.

Being a parent means being responsible for another's life for a long time (some even longer than you expected). It means dealing with laughter, tears, frustrations, homework, driving, dating, field trips, friendships, first loves, first heartbreaks, next loves...and there is no difference.

Except for those who cannot marry, not because they do not want to marry, but because they CAN NOT. California has flip-flopped, many states have said no. I am grateful to be in one state that says YES - and was also the first to do so. I can marry whomever I love, man or woman. But others would contend that my family "would not count" if I was in love with another woman.

But I disagree - for it is Love that makes the Family. And in that we are no different.


16 May 2009

ReDesign

I have been making a lot of cosmetic changes recently (nothing surgical, thank you), the latest of which you can see here on the blog.

I have been in a total Web 2.0 high from work this week. A lot of code work for some new enhancements in the catalog plus evaluation of where we can reach our libraries, and their patrons, and how social networking is reaching further and further into the business and service models. Facebook definitely has a toehold in that, and I'll be exploring that for my organization. I even stepped into Twitter, as you can see in the right column. Cause there are people who just cannot get enough of me! Someone, anyone? *crickets*

Anyway, last weekend I went to the nursery and picked up a bunch of plants (I also put a lot back - next time!). I have been drawn back to my bookcases and have been rereading Ellen Dugan's Garden Witchery, plus her new Garden Witch's Herbal. A font of knowledge in both. I am putting together a little faerie garden in the front planter this time: foxglove, lavender, coneflower and violets. The tomatoes are getting tall and hopefully will go out next weekend in the plot next to the kale that is just starting to come up. I am debating digging out my strawberry pot and trying that once again.

That same weekend I finally found a new nightstand. I have been looking for one for a while, scouring flea markets and Craigslist. I didn't want some Target pressboard newness, I wanted one I could do something WITH. Well, at the UU Church yard sale, in between making sure my niblets didn't buy anything back I had donated, I found a sturdy and well used stand for $5. The back was coming off, the varnish was worn off in spots, along with the stain. I walked past it the first time even though it was calling loudly, but could not go home when I realized what I could do: strip it, paint it, change the drawer pulls. I will make it mine. Another new cabinet and some new curtains, a serach for a reading lamp, I am finding the space fits me better now, and the energy I have committed to it reflects back.

I am not sure if Mecury Retrograde has been moving me along this way, because normally it just kicks me in the pants and makes me not want to speak to anyone for three weeks. For those of you who are not sure of the affects of Mercury Retrograde - check out About.com here and my friend Sharita Star here for some explanations - trust me, it is hard at work. I am not sure my communication has been up to par, but I have definitely been reevaluating mySelf. And it is bringing about reDesign in many ways.

29 April 2009

Reminders

"Life is a Journey, not a Destination." Ralph Waldo Emerson

It hasn't been a very settled past few days for me. The sun and heat haven't been able to burn off the sense of cold sadness that trickles in. My Life isn't bad; I have a job, a home, the love of my children. But, sometimes, it is the things that are missing that speak louder than the quiet flow of what exists.

Last night I didn't sleep very well. Up at 3, tossed for a bit, drifted in limited wakeful napping for the next couple of hours. But, I fell asleep deep enough to dream, and more importantly, remember it. That doesn't usually happen....

I was in San Francisco to attend an old friend's wedding, one I haven't seen in person for years. A beautiful old house with turquoise-colored bathroom and a living room filled with books. The ceremony wasn't formal, being inside in a room with people gathered in a circle. I held the rings - but they weren't for their hands, but for their wrists. Bracelets of wood and woven leather to wear.

After the ceremony my beloved disappeared into the turquoise bathroom, as I wandered around the living room. Small and lived in, covered with plants and set with several personal altars. On a table were several books: Wiccan, crystals, dreams, etc. I immediately picked up one about discovering or creating your own wand. I knew that I needed to find my wand. I knew that it held the key...to something. A man's voice to my right spoke, "We are rewriting that one, you know." I turn to see who spoke those words...

And then I woke up, with a sense of peace of Self I haven't had for a while. I wanted to confirm it, and for me, that means consulting my Rune Cards (Blum Deck). So this morning I shuffled and pulled:

Ehwaz - Movement (Transition, forward journeying)

Mannaz - Self (Search for inner Self)

Weddings in dreams tend to come at stressful times, and many say, beyond the integral touch of bonds they portray, can mean a reunion of sides of the Self. Dreaming of wands is to find yourself in a position of influence, both over others AND your Self. And the cards...Well. Okay, I get it.

Sometimes I just need a little reminder that the Self will keep marching on, whether or not your heart is in it. And do I really want to walk my Path that way?






05 April 2009

Under the Needle

I grew up with a father who was in the Navy. He traveled overseas for a few tours, and as many did in the 70s came back with a lot of tattoos. Leaving the Navy and resettling back in upstate NY, along with a wife who was SO not a body art appreciater, he stopped adding to the collection.

Then one year, while I was finishing college, my dad won a radio contest. To get a new tattoo. Live on the air. I went with him that day - and I was hooked. I came home the next summer getting my first tattoo - a Celtic knot crescent moon on my shoulder. In the following years I added three more to my body, each coming with a personal reason, a meaning that still resonates in my soul today.

I knew last year I wanted a new one, and decided to get my first color piece. Playing with ideas of things I love from past and present (The Cheshire Cat? Knitting Needles?) I decided to bring my love of autumn into play. I have developed more of a love for nature, and have always had a curiosity for Pagan and Wiccan beliefs, but couldn't really convince myself to get the Green Man. Then I found a picture of a plaque online of the Green Lady, and the Autumn Lady was born from thought.

A year went by before I could get it - I knew this would be costlier than anything I had done. I decided to get it done locally, and researched a few shops before deciding on Miraculous Creations. I picked Eddy for his portfolio work - his portrait work is very good. I brought the image of the plaque and some autumn leaves I wanted to work in, but his discussed how trying to change the image that much could make it appear worse, but we could certainly make it with the autumn colors.

And so it began.

I stepped into the shop thinking that this would be a one visit tattoo. All my work before has been black, and most of it is not solid, so a 1 1/2 - 2 hour job is what I am used to. Eddy told me it would probably be two: first for outline and shading, second for color. Okay, no problem. Of course, I was also flying out to Indiana that same evening. After 2 1/2 hours, he finished the outline and booked me another appointment for two weeks later to finish.


For my next - and thought final - visit I booked a four hour session. The outline has healed well. Eddy wanted to start by adding shading that would be covered with the color. I definitely wanted autumn colors, oranges and yellows, maybe reds, plus brown and some green. I knew my autumn lady would have green eyes. A hint of the seasons that lead to her time.

However, as artists work, art takes on a meaning and vision of its own. Three hours in, with another client on the way, both of us knew that she wouldn't get color. With the wider shading needles being used, my arm wasn't ready to have any more work done anyway. So, we booked another three weeks later.

Unfortunately my son got sick the same day, and the shading still hadn't quite healed, so we rescheduled for another two weeks.

Eddy and I both joked that we'd never do a piece like this again - at least until the pain wore off. We decided to keep the outer leaves in more browns and a faint olive green, with yellow and orange towards the face.

Yesterday the vision was completed. It isn't the one I started the journey with, nor is she the one I thought I would end up with when I sat in the chair at noon. I have learned that Truth almost always manifests differently than expectation - but it is still Truth. And she is beautiful.


I wonder what I will get next?

20 March 2009

Garden Views

Spring is in the sir...especially today being the first day of Spring. My son woke up cheering that it was the first day of Spring, and he "has been waiting SO LONG!"

Needless to say, I didn't break his heart by reminding him it was only in the 30s today. Why would I do that?



I was excited to see the articles at Kitchen Gardeners International, and later today on People (Yes, I read it online. Everyone has their weaknesses. Mine include coffee, good yarn and celebrity gossip.), about the new White House Garden that will be created. Shovels turned soil today for an 1100 square foot garden that will supply not only the White House Kitchen but a local food pantry. It will not only be a wonderful, and hopefully sustainable, organic fruit and vegetable garden, but plans are to make it an educational garden for children, including the Obamas' daughters. Supposedly there will be a working beehive too. Yum.

I know I am excited to start my seeds. From the blogs I follow, I am not the only one. Hope that everyone finds a way to enjoy their first day of Spring - and those that follow

14 March 2009

Signs of Spring

The weather has finally started to turn. As did the clocks last weekend, although that I am not so enamored to. While it is nice to leave work while the sun is still up, I need sun to help me WAKE up each morning.

Today I even opened the windows in my bedroom. The cats crawled into the space like they were trying to ooze out the screens. Anything to end the cooped up feeling that months of cold can do.

So, even this early in March, I saw a lot of people out clearing leaves and debris from their yards. Most of us have a lot more to clear this year with the December ice storm. We have a couple branches that are dug deep into the yard and broken, looking for someone to impale themselves. Better warn the kids since they are outside playing.

I did some clearing myself. Collected the leaves off my garden plot and out of the flower planter. The edges are soft enough to sink my fork and hands in a few inches, but the middle is still frozen. It was good to touch the dirt again, to link my body and soul back to the earth after such a long time indoors.

Seed starting will happen in a couple more weeks. I have my plug trays and grow lights ready to unpack. I would have set them this week, but I am leaving next week to see J. and the baby and feel that my sister will have enough to deal with with my kids and cats and schedule. Don't need to throw in "And make sure that you turn the lights on at 6am and off at 9pm." I can wait two more weeks.

I decided this year to pare down on the seeds I got. I was very excited last year, my first year having a garden of my own. Needless to say a lot went to waste and a lot more didn't get planted due to time, space and summer weather. So I scoured through my piles (literally, piles and piles!) of seed catalogs and went with Baker Creek.

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds was half of what I bought last year, and this year I got a very nice color catalog from them and after I made my list, crossed off all the items that would not fit in my garden (pole beans, corn, squash - my garden is 7 ft by 2 ft) then decided to work with what I loved last year: tomatoes and kale. Plus basil and cilantro, and thyme this year so that I can stop complaining that I have none in my cupboard every time a recipe asks for it.

So, the list this year is:

Tomatoes - Green Skin Long Keeper, Orange Banana, Black Brandywine, Henderson's "Pink Ponderosa".
(I wanted to try a variety, but still kept to ones that would be good for canning)

Basil - Genovese
Kale - Dwarf Siberian
Thyme - Common
Cilantro

Baker Creek also sends a free pack - this year's trial is Yellow Star Hot Pepper. I will probably put this in because while I really cannot stand any type of bell pepper, I do like chili and hot peppers.

12 March 2009

Welcome to the World


You are obviously in a hurry to see the world, since you arrived three weeks early. If you are anything like your mama - you are destined for great things. Cannot wait to see you.


04 March 2009

Best Laid Plans

...of those who like to plan things. J. and I are similar that way. We have to, living states apart.

So, with the baby due at the end of March, and a week's visit that included a doctor appointment to show everything was progressing nicely, I booked my ticket to come out around the due date. She made a birth plan to make sure that I would be able to be there, but had back up plans of a doula and friends. Just in case. Not that we were expecting it. But Just In Case.

Well, JIC is here in force. J. went into labor around midnight. Three weeks early.

I am 950 miles away and cannot leave. I can send peace and love and good energy through the Universe to her, and speak to her on the phone, but cannot hold her hand.

So, I am in the proverbial waiting room. I am not a patient person. This really sucks.

19 February 2009

If I Were a Muppet...

I watched the Muppet Show faithfully as a kid - probably too faithfully. So to find this quiz was a temptation I could not avoid:



Your Result


You are Janice.
You dig the groove man, nothing can bum you out. Too bad you're too stoned to notice.
INSTRUMENT:Like, you know, guitar, fer sure.
LAST BOOK READ:"Finding Your Past Lives on the Web"
FAVORITE EXPRESSION:"Fer sure, like, fer sure."
FAVORITE THINGS:Peace, love and, like, granola, totally.
NEVER LEAVES HOME WITHOUT:Her inner child.


It is amusing... I was just discussing Janice with a friend. I don't play guitar though...

13 February 2009

What About Love? Some/thing Blue


This is Part 4 celebrating Freedom to Marry Week. The blog carnival I am part of can be found at the Other Mother.

This will also be short and sweet - I can see blue sky today, which I am very thankful for. I am hopping a plane today to see J. and spend some much needed time together. Plus celebrating the wonderful Life that will be joining the world next month with a baby shower.

EnJoy!

12 February 2009

What About Love? Some/thing Borrowed


This is Part 3 of a blog carnival from The Other Mother, celebrating Freedom to Marry Week.

I had to think about this one for a bit - I am grown up and out of the house. I used to borrow my mom's clothes while in high school (she worked in an office - I was so NOT chic!) and I tried to save most of my clothes left at the house during various stages from my sister, who is three years younger.

However, while looking around the house, I realized I had a lot of items that were borrowed. In my living room is a couch my ex didn't take when we split, along with a handmade tv stand. They work well, although I have reached the point that I would like a new couch.

But, the piece de resistance is my dining room table. This was picked up by my ex out in Wichita and dragged out when we moved East, then buried in my parents' shed for the last three years. My kids have grown, as they are wont to do, and my small kitchen-size table was just two little to fit the three of us comfortably any more. So, I absconded with the table. With three center leaves, I could have a dinner party.

If I would ever let anyone see the inside of my apartment. Maybe after spring cleaning...

11 February 2009

What About Love? Some/thing New

I am participating in the blog carnival sponsored by The Other Mother. The theme is the wedding customs Something Old, New, Borrowed, Blue - celebrating Freedom to Marry Week.

Something new to enter my Life this past year has been my gardening. I currently live on the first floor of a triple decker apartment house, with a postage stamp backyard and even less out front. However, when one of the sisters on the second floor moved away, I was given access to the plot of land next to the front walkway. About 20 square feet, it sure didn't meet my dreams of cornrows or pumpkin patches, but it was still a place to plant seeds.


I hope I am starting to become a throwback to my grandfather. I grew up in a multi-generational household, and my childhood home, while less than an acre of land, was pure bounty and beauty. Vegetables and flowers all over, lilac bushes bordering the yard, wild raspberries next to the garage, and enough rabbits and woodchucks to please our fierce Siamese hunter. It was a place to watch plants grow, flowers bloom - and was totally underappreciated in my youth.

We eventually moved, and it forced my grandfather to have a smaller patch, just a few rows of roses and other flowers. Then he grew too sick to keep that up. My grandfather has been gone for over thirteen years now - but I am finally seeing that his spirit still continues.

10 February 2009

I So Resolve...and I Am Not the Only One

It's Day 3 of Freedom to Marry Week. The theme this year is Seven Conversations in Seven Days.

I am happy to see that people are not afraid to be honest about what they do believe about marriage equality. Some people can sound the rallying cry and get their walking boots on to march over and over again. Others, worn down in spirit by constant battles against those who do not support it, but also by non-inclusive language (it's hard for some to remember that Bs & Ts do not necessarily equal a "gay or lesbian couple"). Whatever the view, wherever you fall on the bell curve of support, I still believe it comes down to Love. Being with the one you Love and knowing that no one deny that relationship - whatever you want to call it.

So, today I signed the Marriage Resolution, and I am not the only one.
Follow the resolution link above and you can too.

What About Love? Some/thing Old


I am joining the Blog Carnival, hosted by The Other Mother, celebrating Freedom to Marry Week and the old wedding traditions: old, new, borrowed, blue.

Two of the oldest things I have are two of my most cherished: my cat Mookie and Mr. Bear.

Mr. Bear came into my Life when I was in kindergarten. I was a brief Navy brat, traveling base to base from ages 2 - 6, when in the middle of my first year of school my mother, sister and I moved back to upstate NY and in with my paternal grandparents and uncle while my father finished his tour.

It was a hard adjustment - new state, new home, new school, new friends. I was sharing a small room with my sister, and a bathroom with five other people. Although, the bathroom was also my parents' room, so they shared even more.

During this time I discovered an old small storage ottoman in the living room, filled with various toys that survived two boys using them: lots of green army men, cars, and an old stuffed bear. No eyes, no real fur and fully jointed, he became my best friend. I have taken him everywhere with me, and he still sits in my window now.

Mookie came into my Life when I moved off campus for my senior year in 1992. I had always wanted a cat of my own. I had parakeets and a hamster, but as you get older they don't seem as real. They cannot cuddle with you on the bed, wind around your ankles or trade on the mutual love and affection that a cat would.

As you see, I was living in my own fantasy world about having a cat.

So, before heading back to college I went to the local shelter. I knew exactly what I wanted: a small, female cat, preferably a kitten, but maybe a few months old. I wanted a black cat, or maybe a calico. I wandered through the kittens area, which they had a few, and then down to the lower levels where some of the others were kept.

There, in the midst of short haired stripes and solid browns, sat a large two-year old male cat with long grey fur and huge golden eyes. The shelter employee took a look and said, "Oh, you don't want him. He bites. He's been pretty unfriendly to the people here."

We stared at each other: me judging everything I had desired to this point, and the words given to me - I opened the cage and took him in my arms.. He judged everything he'd been through the last six months at the shelter - and began to purr.

I told him on the ride home I was changing his name. Cause Mookie was very silly, I didn't know how his previous owner came up with Mookie anyway and I didn't really like the name Mookie. And he talked back every time I said his name. I gave up that notion by the end of the drive home.


So, needless to say, this has been the dynamic in our sixteen-year relationship. I talk, he does whatever he wants. It has gotten us through moves cross-country, marriage and divorce, addition of another cat and two kids to the family. He deigns to give us all affection, and knows he deserves it in return. I expect him to outlive us all.

09 February 2009

I Have Freedom...Sometimes, Somewheres

There are some places in my country and others that I would be free to be married to someone of the same sex:

Massachusetts. Connecticut. California (for around 20 weeks this year). New York (if it is from another state where it is legal).

Canada. Belgium. Norway. The Netherlands. South Africa. Spain.

There are other states and countries that recognize civil unions and/or domestic partnerships - not the name of marriage. In some cases, not the protections of a marriage contract.

My girlfriend's is having a baby. I am flying in next month hoping that this child will remember the schedule we have discussed more and more frequently as the due date approaches (Yes, I know how unlikely that is - I've had two of my own).

But, we aren't married. Nor does she live in one of the above states. (I do. But anyways...) The possibility of not being allowed in when she gives birth, while small, is still a possibility. Really? We could be denied access to our loved ones because we do not have a piece of paper? We do not have the right to be with the one we love?

Sure, we could file for health proxies, second parent adoptions, joint tenancy of homes, powers of attorney, wills and living trusts, etc. etc...but with the simple word "marriage", at least in the United States, most of these are commonly accepted as given. Why should LGBTs have to jump through hoops to be entitled to what heterosexuals do? Why should we be denied it because we aren't allowed to have this piece of paper?

There is a lot of talk about religion. There is a lot of talk about rights. There is a lot of talk about beliefs, values and discrimination.

I live in a country that was founded on Freedom. Why then do we not apply it evenly? For everyone? Where is the Love in that?

08 February 2009

Still Waters Still Shape

I am not a forceful presence on this planet. I am not one of the waves that comes on shore and pulls the sand to other locations. I am not an activist, nor do I see myself ever leading a charge for Change. But, I do have my values, my beliefs, my Truth. As does everyone. And, like everyone else, I am entitled to them nor do I try to force others to my will (Well, I don't at least. I know that doesn't hold true for everyone.)

But, even knowing my waters run slower and quieter, they still run into the ocean. I am a part of the vast pool of Life - as I am a part of this.

Today is the beginning of Freedom to Marry Week. I will be joining hundreds of other bloggers telling tales, spreading news, sharing Hope. Seven Conversations in Seven Days.

My waters may just be a drop in the ocean...but we make a difference.

07 February 2009

The Only Agenda is Love



"The Only Agenda is Love" is a blogswarm event beginning Monday. Bloggers from the LGBT community and allies will be participating to promote Freedom to Marry Week.

I'll be writing along, posting my thoughts and following The Other Mother cross event on the marriage theme "Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue".

Stay tuned!

25 January 2009

Wii Got It

Yes, Wii do!

We were very generously gifted with one of these systems for Christmas. Of course, the hype has been incredible this past year, and my kids made sure it was on their lists.



I wasn't sure about it. I admit had Colecovision growing up (anyone remember that?) and loved to play Donkey Kong. Remember when Mario wasn't the star and the Princess wasn't a fruit?



But, Santa had her (ahem) way and we ended up with it. I was surprised at how small it was. It is half the size of my DVD player. While the kids were still on vacation I brought it back home and set it up to make sure that it worked with my older tv.



When J. came to visit, we tested the system to make sure that the games worked correctly. Wouldn't you? I think I ended up with a rotator cuff injury during bowling...




17 January 2009

Quick Musings

I haven't said much about the New Year. There are a lot of situations that have begun to shift in a major way: some I am enjoying, some not - but all are making me ponder my Self a lot more. Am I living the Life I wanted? Well, no. But, if I haven't really tried to change things, how will I ever live it?

A big question - with a myriad of varied answers that will only be found on the journey...

Holiday weekends are nice to catch up on things, although this one will be spent traveling to LG to visit family, and hopefully some friends. But, I am bringing some knitting, as I have a baby blanket to finish before March. This can possibly be done, although if someone can freeze time for me for about two weeks so that all I have to do is knit, that would help.

I am also bringing a book: Excuse Me, Your Life is Waiting. This isn't my first read of Lynn Grabhorn's book, but with everything that goes on I think it deserves a reread. It is "the secret" WAY before The Secret was published.

I am also bringing these:

January always brings the seed catalogs, which I am glad for. Right now, with temps below freezing and an apartment that never heats up well...it lets me look forward to something that I KNOW will happen. This being my second year of gardening, I will try to be a bit more selective due to failures (zucchini) and undesired successes (lettuce). Plus the caretaker said I can garden down the hill next to the steps, as long as I leave some of the plantings at the bottom. So, definitely more herbs this year.