Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Ghost Train 2008

A Pirate battle

Jack-O-Lantern display

Some scary sea creatures

waiting for the train to start

this spun as you passed

Last week we visited the Ghost Train in Stanley Park. Dave and I enjoyed it, Ky...was perhaps a bit young to get the idea. Heidi and I discussed that you often take your first child to events that they are too young for, out of the excitement of having a child. We went when it was already dark and I think Ky was too disoriented to understand what we were doing. For those who have not been, this is a miniature train that goes through the park and they have a theme each year and there are performers and decorations. The theme this year was Pirates. next year we'll go when it is lighter out and since he'll be closer to two I think he'll get more out of it. There is so much to do in this city around Halloween. I think as Kyan grows we'll have to try different things out each year. Hope you are all finding fun Halloween activities in your area.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Book of the Month: October

My first post in a feature I will be doing once a month. I love books and thought it would be fun to review books that I have in my library. In honour of Samhain and Halloween I have chosen:
Witch: The Wild Ride from Wicked to Wicca by Candace Savage.
This book delves into the history of the word Witch and brings the reader from the author's own personal history with witches through the Burning Times and beyond.
There is a wonderful pictorial element as well, she has archived many images from fine art to print and film. This book is worth buying if just for the artwork, but it also tells many recorded stories of folk who were accused of witchcraft or the like. I really like this quote where the author is describing her yearly attraction to dressing as a witch for Halloween: "At the age of ten I had no idea that I was shouldering centuries of oppression, judicial murder and high-minded mockery. Instead, I was attracted by the power of angry cursing and ill-tempered laughter, of forbidden knowledge, of fear. Bad-girl power."
A great addition to any witchy library.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Six Random Things

Mrs. B at Confessions of a Pagan Soccer Mom has tagged me and given me another award today. Thanks so much. It really makes you feel great to know that people are reading and its nice to have more friends too.

So for the Six Random Things here are the rules:

1. Link to the person or persons who tagged you.
2. Post the rules on your blog.
3. Write six random things about yourself.
4. Tag six people at the end of your post and link to them.
5. Let each person know they’ve been tagged and leave a comment on their blog.
6. Let the tagger know when your entry is up.

Random Things about me:
1. I had braces on my teeth from age 11 to 13. My Mom grew up with crooked teeth and vowed that her children would not have them. At 11 I had 4 permanent teeth pulled(because I had too many teeth for the size of my mouth) and then had those lovely silver tracks. I never was teased much about them since my peers decided that my being skinny was more fun to tease about. The day I had them off my teeth I remember feeling like I had this huge mouth of white, and I'm very grateful to my Mom for paying for them. I believe they made it possible for me to do the next random thing.

2. I was a fashion model for 3 years. When I moved to the west coast I had trouble finding a job. So I thought it might be a good time to look into finding a modeling agent, since I had been obsessed with modeling since I was young. I found an agent and went on to have some great times doing local fashion shows and even an ad campaign. I loved modeling, I was really good at it. Since I only started at 24 I was considered a bit "old" (gasp) for a beginner though. So despite my agent's best efforts I was never picked up by an agent from Paris, Milan or Japan. But I had a great time for those 3 years and have a beautiful book of photos. I still look back on it and think "Wow, I really did something that I dreamed of as a child."

3. I hate olives and goats cheese. I have tried over and over to like these things. Every few months I try another sample, taste buds change sometimes, but man, I just don't like them. In most restaurants here goats cheese is in or on things. I really want to like it, but my palate says no. What can you do?

4. I have a huge sweet tooth. I love chocolate of course. But after dinner I always crave something sweet. Pie, cake, ice cream, brownies, I love it all.

5. I'm bilingual. I grew up in Quebec where I went to an English school but took a french class every day. So for 13 years (elementary, secondary and cejep) I took a french class and I lived in a predominantly french town. I would not say that I am fluent because I haven't lived there for over 10 years and you do lose it if you don't use it, but I can hold my own.

6. This one is a bit gross but is a very personal one. I have a vomit phobia. It started when I was around 12 years old. I would have panic attacks at night from just a pang in my stomach. My Mom would come into my room and calm me down and I drank tons of Pepto Bismol, probably damaging my stomach, but what can you do. I no longer have the panic attacks, but I really hate to vomit. I will avoid it at all costs, even if that means not doing something that could induce it like riding crazy amusement park rides or getting really drunk.

Ok now six blogs to tag.

1. Amy at Magical Musings : I have learned so much on her blog and love her art and just her way of being.
2. Bret at This Guys Journey : His blog is really honest and funny.
3. Witchy Mama: She is so prolific and I think you can really tell that she loves life.
4. Janet at Livin' La Vida Vegan: Her blog made me think that I could blog, and for that I am grateful.
5. Darth Mommy : With humour and love she is so personal about motherhood.
6. Amy at Crunchy Domestic Goddess: She is such a well rounded, green livin' cool person.

This is a fun exercise. I hope you all enjoy doing it too.

I would also like to pass on the Kreativ Blogger award to these six blogs. They are all very creative and diverse. Along with passing the award along to six blogs you are supposed to list six things that you love:

1. Books....anyway they come, and in all spots you can find them.
2. Trees...they make me very happy. Nothing can ground you better.
3. Joni Mitchell's music. Her songs just resonate with me, she's my favorite songwriter for sure.
4. T.V. I know its bad to love it, but alas I do.
5. Old/Vintage things. I love old photos, clothing, furniture....etc.
6. Harley Davidson motorcycles. They are loud, shiny and sexy.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

In the Land of Mommies

When you are a dreamer like me you think of lots of scenarios in your head. They play out so simply and usually have a lovely movie soundtrack as well. When I was pregnant I imagined play dates, and talking with...(insert name here) about sleepless nights and teething. The reality for me after 10 months of mommy-hood is different. I chat to my close friends with kids about these things, and my mom and mother-in-law too, but I don't really have any close mommy friends with babies Ky's age. I have tried, and the possibilities are still there that I'll become closer with some of the acquaintances I've made so far, but it seems that my friendship style is not conducive to Mommy land. Granted I've never made friends fast and furious the way some do. I guess I'm bad at small talk, and it seems especially mommy small talk.
"How old is he, oh is he walking yet?"
"Those are great shoes, where did you get them?"
"I attend this playgroup Monday and Wednesday and on Fridays we do Mommy boot camp!"
I really suck at that type of conversation. I don't mean to belittle anyone who is good at it. Some of my girlfriends are sooooo good at it. Give them 2 minutes in a crowd with a piece of gum stuck on their shoe and they have 3 phone numbers and a group hike scheduled for the next day.
My whole life I have had wonderful friends, but almost every friendship has taken time, conversations over tea, coincidences of running into someone on the way somewhere and having more conversation. I guess I just need one on one time. I need to bond with someone. Feel a soul connection maybe. A reason to talk beyond the weather...and in Mommy land you just don't have the luxury of time. For a while I felt a bit guilty about this. Will Ky suffer because I can't make other Mommy friends? Do I suffer because I lack the dreamed about "support group" that so many people said I needed prior to Ky's birth?
I don't think so. I have friends with kids, most are older but that's ok. I have a great family, who offer tons of support. As a homebody I love to putter around, and play with Ky, and I don't mind being the only adult until Dave gets home. And in a year or so when Ky starts to need friends, he will meet his friends, and I will either bond with the other mommies, or smile at him while I read on the park bench and marvel at how much he's grown.
I can't force myself to become a social butterfly if I'm not, and I will deal with the inevitable guilt that arises here and there with being a mom. The last thing I need is to put more pressure on myself. So if you're out there feeling bad about not having a mommy group to hang out with once a week, don't beat yourself up about it. These things take time, and while time is always short when you are a new mom, you are bound to find some friends as long as you keep trying.
And in the mean time there is nothing wrong with you and baby being your own play group. At least you don't have to talk about the weather.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Thanks Mrs. B & Dancing Goddess Dolls

I was thrilled to receive my prize from Mrs. B's 31 Days of Halloween on Thursday. Kelli at Dancing Goddess Dolls does beautiful work. I love Hecate and have placed her on my Fall/Samhain altar. A big thanks to you both for making my New Year so special.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Art of the Month: October

Blanket of Stars, quilt, 2005

Cross view, Blanket of Stars, 2005

Detail, Blanket of Stars, 2005

This piece was a gift for a dear friend's daughter. I was new to quilting,(I still consider myself new to quilting) and was inspired by the idea of being wrapped in a quilt of stars. There is a mixture of hand embroidery, machine quilting and applique. It was a huge undertaking for me. To date it is the largest quilt that I have made. I work in a mixture of quilting and embroidery so bigger pieces are very time consuming. My friend's daughter enjoys the quilt and spent many of her younger days pointing and touching it. I hoped to make it tactile enough for a toddler and yet not so juvenile that she won't enjoy it as an adult.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Poverty and Homelessness: Blog Action Day 2008

Today is Blog Action Day. I learned about this from Nature Deva. Bloggers from around the world unite to write about a world issue. This year the topic is poverty. After the Canadian election yesterday this topic is even more important. A court ruling handed down yesterday in Victoria BC, has given homeless people in that city the right to erect tents in public parks and green spaces. For more info click here.
Many of us may cringe at the "unsightliness"of this. Make shift shelters, debris and goodness knows what else will be laid out for all to see. This is a landmark decision and one that the mayor of Victoria is not happy about. In many countries around the world poverty is not as hidden as it is here. We shake our heads at our homeless, thinking they may be lazy, drug addicts, or mentally ill. Some give spare change, some support homeless shelters, but most of us turn our heads the other way. Poverty exists in Canada and while our government gives tax cuts to corporations people have no public housing. Our climate on thw west coast may be the mildest in Canada, but I cringe to think that a nylon tent or card board shelter is all that keeps many homeless from our sub-zero temperatures. I don't want to see tent cities in our public parks, but I don't want to see human beings living in poverty anywhere. Why is it that parks can only be used by people who have? If you were homeless would you rather sleep in a tent in a park or in a cold concrete doorway or dangerous back alley? We need to get our homeless the option of housing. The options of shelter and the help they require to pursue what we all do. I say the option because some people who live on the street choose to live there. I do not understand that choice but I try not to judge it. I have not walked in anyone else's shoes. For those that want off the street our governments from federal to municipal must provide safe alternatives for them. I think that is a worthy case for my tax dollars, and until they do, on their drive or walk to work each morning they will be faced with the reality of poverty in Canandian cities, tents and all.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Pumpkins & apples & bees, oh my!

Friday was our second annual trip to the Applebarn. We had a great time, despite the crowds of school children and my luck of getting stung by a bee. Kyan did not sleep on the way there as I was hoping, so he was a little out of it for some of the morning, but I think he liked the fresh air. We took a hayride to the pumpkin patch and picked out a small one for him. I picked a 10 pound bag of apples that are lovely and crisp. I really love pumpkins, their shape, their taste, their colour, and the fact that you can make them into wonderful globes of light.
On a side note, the election results are coming in...looks like my riding is staying NDP but the country is headed for another Conservative minority government. Despite my previous post about accepting the will of the majority, I find it hard to swallow this one. My views just do not mesh with Right wing ones. I hope with all my heart that Mother Earth is able to sustain the pillage that this government will probably put her through. John Mayers' song Waitin' on the World to Change comes to mind here, especially the line: "one day our generation is going to rule the population". The fact that our population is aging does not help us bring in the fresh blood. I have to look for other ways to create change, I've cast my vote and now must walk my talk.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Heidi's Blessingway

All of us sporting the feather crowns and Heidi's final belly henna

Heidi reclining before the Pledge to My Child

Heidi's Goddess Nest Crown

A massage for baby

The Goddess and Element altar

The Henna artist and the Family altar in the background
(I didn't take a picture of it...darn)

As promised a more detailed post about my best friend's blessingway. My other best friend Matthew and I planned this for about three months. It is amazing that it stayed a secret because he often lets the cat out of the bag. But we managed to completely pull the wool over her eyes and she was pleasantly surprised when she arrived. As I wrote previously Blessingways are a more Mother centered and meditative event than Baby Showers. They can follow many patterns, not necessarily pagan in nature but since both Heidi and I are pagan the ritual was typical of a pagan format. We based the ritual on the book Mother Rising ; which we later gave to Heidi so she can use it in her doula work. In the planning process which they take you through in the book we chose the theme of "Nesting". It has been something that Heidi talked about often in her pregnancy, not to mention she started nesting at 4 months pregnant. Most of the ritual that follows ( circle casting, Pledge to My Child, and circle release) was found in the Mother Rising book.

Heidi's Blessingway Ritual
Over a bowl of salt water:

“May these waters from the west renew and ready us for the important work we will do here today” (We all wash our face with the water)

(We then did a Grounding to center our spirits and release fears.)

Circle Casting:

“We welcome the spirit of the East, who brings the breath of new life and gives relief from difficult labouring energy. Please be with us today.”

“We welcome the spirit of the South, who inspires fiery determination and prompts a baby’s first cry. Please be with us today.”

“We welcome the spirit of the West, who calms the waters of a baby’s uterine home and ensures the plentiful breast. Please be with us today.”

“We welcome the spirit of the North, who comes from the land of quiet rejuvenating spaces to tell tales of surrender and of our ancestors. Please be with us today.”

“The circle is cast. Blessed be.”

Invoke goddess Isis at the center altar.

“Winged Isis was a teacher and Mother of all Life. As a moon and wind Goddess she gave birth to Horus who was the God of the sun. Together they sustained all life. We welcome your spirit to our circle.”

(Have Heidi light the Goddess Candle)

Statement of Purpose:

“We are here today to honour you Heidi, to help you prepare for the next phase of motherhood. To soothe your soul, rest your mind and allow the magic of this time to come forth.
We are also here to honour the new baby, to celebrate his impending arrival and send him love as he completes his growth in your womb and prepares to join us outside you.”

(Heidi finds a comfortable laying position on the floor; we can have an area ready with blankets and pillows. Everyone takes a position around her and places a hand on her belly. Everyone can offer any blessings to the baby if they wish. Before removing our hands…)

Pledge to My Child:

“May you anticipate your child’s birth, his childhood, and his life and encourage him to look forward to.
May you watch him flourish and discover his home in this magnificent world.
May you nurture his innocence and never forget the sacred place it comes from.
May you show him the way of wonder and walk strong along beside him.
May you stand for him as parent and a friend, valuing his dreams just as you value your own.
May you voice your feelings honestly, and honour the promises you make.
May you listen to him thoughtfully and give him the freedom to expand his own mind.
May you envision his happy future, always mindful of the precious, present moment.
May you embrace him and enjoy him with your heart wide open.”

(Massage & Henna)

(Once henna is done we can take pictures etc. and then gather on the floor seated in a circle)

Weaving a Web:

“This will symbolize our connection to each other now and once the baby is born. We wrap the cord around our wrist and then pass it to the next person with the Goddess candle as the center.”
(Once the web is woven we can raise some energy with chanting)

“We are the flow, we are the ebb, we are the weavers, we are the web”

(Chant dies down naturally and we can ground out the energy raised into the candle)

“We will now cut the web leaving enough room for each of us to tie the cord around our wrists. We will wear the cord until the birth is over and Heidi’s milk is in.”

Circle & Goddess Release:

“Thank you great Isis for your presence. You are free to leave our circle. Please encircle Heidi with your strong and powerful wings, and breathe life into her efforts as she prepares to birth her second child. At the time of the birth please place your great shield in front of her and help her proceed with her work unafraid and safe in her nest.”

“Spirit of the North, we thank you for your presence. You are free to leave our circle. Please remain with Heidi to give her the ability to surrender to her changing role as she births her baby.”

“Spirit of the West we thank you for your presence. You are free to leave our circle. Please remain with Heidi to facilitate her rapid physical healing after the birth of her child.”

“Spirit of the South we thank you for your presence. You are free to leave our circle. Please remain with Heidi to give her all the courage she will need to birth her child.”

“Spirit of the East we thank you for your presence. You are free to leave our circle. Please remain with Heidi so that the burdens of mothering will become light as a feather."

“Our circle is open yet unbroken. Merry meet and merry part and merry meet again. Blessed be.”

We had a wonderful time with good food and lots of relaxing for Heidi. I really enjoyed making the decorations and crowns. It was lots of work but worth it, I think it is harder Moms the second (or third etc) time around to make their pregnancies special. They spend so much time looking after family matters that they don't have as much bonding time. So these events are nice to honour the process and the new arrival. We also honoured the new big brother and Dad with gifts. A "Big Brother" Cloak(which I made and am very proud of) (pic to come) and a lovely art print of a family of four birds for Dad.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Canadian Political Debate

I was invited to blog on the website which was set up by The David Suzuki Foundation. I registered but have yet to receive my here is my view of the debate last night.
Over all I felt that each candidate was well spoken and kept to the issues. The moderator is of course the one to thank for that. The top issue to me in this election is the environment.
The Greens, NDP and the Liberals believe that working towards stopping the destruction of our life source does not have to send us into debt. Its a matter of shifting our priorities. I agree. The problem that the average Canadian has with "left" thinking politics is that they believe that socialists spend money like there is no tomorrow and have no cares about driving the government into deficit. That may have happened in the past, but I for one am a practical socialist. We can't spend money we don't have, but we don't have to. Shifting the money to reflect our new priorities is all we have to do. What good will paying down the National debt have if in 50 years we can't breathe? Obviously we can't increase the debt, we must live within our means. In my home if we don't have the money we don't get it.
After watching the film The 11th Hour where the panelists recommend that taxing pollution and lowering income tax is the key to making a cleaner environment without incurring debt, well that is what these parties are saying they will do.
Secondly the arts funding cuts. I thought Jack Layton made my main point when he told Steven Harper that his $500 tax credit for parents enrolling their children in Arts and Culture programs was no good for the average person working in the arts sector. The average income for an arts sector employee is $10-12,000 a year barely enough to live on. Another great point that Jack Layton made was that poverty is the key reason for crime. If we dealt with poverty we would not have the desperate petty criminals robbing homes and stealing cars. So putting young kids in jail and having their identities public (as the Harper government wants to do) will do nothing to help or stop crime in our country.
The last point I consider important when anyone is deciding on who to vote for is this idea of strategic voting. Splitting the "left" leaning vote, is in some people's opinion bad. They urge us to vote for the party that has the greatest chance of beating the current party in power. Who cares if they have run the country for more than a decade with little to show for it? At least they are not the Right wing guys... Well I do not agree with this way of voting. I'm not going to vote for the people who have the biggest chance of beating the ones I don't like, I'm going to vote for the person/party that I feel represents the values and goals I strive for in my country. Democracy is about casting your vote in your interests and value set. If the rest of my riding or the country does not agree, then I have to go along with the majority. I can still fight for what I believe in and stay active and participate for the causes I care about. But I will not vote for one party in the hopes that they will eek out a win, the polls are still saying the the Conservatives are in the lead. In my riding we have a NDP representative. So I feel confident that at least my riding will not go from left of center to right in one election span.
Thursday night we watched both the Canadian and American debates. I felt so proud to be participating in the democratic process and informing myself on the choices at hand. Both outcomes are going to be really interesting to see, especially with our current economic situation. Whether we you decide to go Green, Orange (NDP), Red (Liberal), or Blue (Conservative) (Blue really??? Are you sure???) democracy is happening now, have your say.
What is everyone feeling about the election race and possible outcomes? Do you feel that your options represent your values?

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Remembering South Africa

In Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden, Cape Town

An ant hill in Lowveld National Botanical Garden, Nelspruit

Male elephant, Lodolozi Game Reserve, Sabi Sand

Male lions, Londolozi Game Reserve, Sabi Sand

Our private cabin at Londolozi

Table Mountain, Cape Town

This time of year always makes me miss my trip to South Africa three years ago. My husband was born there and moved to Canada when he was 8 years old. His grandmother, an aunt and uncle and several cousins still live there. Three years ago we traveled there on our pre-honeymoon (we were married the following summer). I loved this trip. It was the furthest, longest and most memorable vacation of my life.
While there we visited a Game Reserve where we saw elephants, giraffe, lions, leopards, hippos, rhinoceros, baboons, water buffalo...the list is endless really. I remember the first morning I woke in a hotel on the way to the game reserve. I turned on the t.v. it was the BBC and the news was all about the African continent. No North American news at all. It was my first time being off this continent and I was so happy to be immersed in something so new and different. That day we visited a lovely small botanical garden and I remember that the smell was new to me. I had never smelled this pollen, this soil, these trees. It was a delight to the senses. I tried to drink in every moment.
There are many things in South Africa that are hard to handle for someone from a more sheltered culture(like ours in Canada). Child poverty is everywhere. Here it is much more hidden. The level of poverty in general is huge. The obvious division between white and black people. The systemic and often sub-conscious racism which was blatant to me, but was the lasting effect of apartheid there. On a political level what struck me the most from the trip was the hope and current of the people. Decades of oppression were lifting and millions of people who had no hope before, can now work towards a life of their own choosing.
This hit home for me on the gondola ride down Table Mountain in Cape Town. Dave and I were on the gondola with a group of school children probably 10 or 11 year old. As the beauty of their city struck them they spontaneously began to sing the South African National Anthem. This song is in English, Afrikaans, Xhosa, Zulu and Sesotho. We asked their teacher what they were singing and when he told us I was just overcome with the love they had for their country. The possibilities are endless for them. They are a new generation rising from the ashes of apartheid.

We plan to go back one day when our child(ren) are old enough to remember it. It is a long flight and expensive but it has stayed with me for three years and I know it will always remain in my heart. That was something an employee of the Game Reserve we stayed at said, that Africa grabs your heart to never let it go. I have to say that it won me forever. The original home of us all.