Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Tales from my Garden Wrap up

The word of the week it seems is "crisp." It's being thrown around everywhere I look, radio, t.v., podcasts. It seems that our fall is officially here. Today Ky and I took a walk in the rain and watched the water moving in all its glory over stone retaining walls, down gutters and through gardens. It was refreshing but chilling as well. We haven't turned on the heat yet but I think this week will see us doing that.

I thought I'd do one last post about my garden since I'm putting it to bed for the season. This year was different than last. Overall I felt that my garden looked nicer for longer last year and I'm not sure why that is. I put in a retaining fence to keep the soil from running off, added several bags of new soil and tried to put plants that would like the conditions in. I lost several plants and found that some purchases were not what I was looking for. My vegetable attempts did not work out. Although after completely giving up on my tomato plant I realized that it did in fact grow on tiny yellow tomato. That was a lesson in and of itself. My peppers were just too late in blossoming and were infested with some sort of pest from my Nicotina plant. My herbs did the best and I plan to freeze some parsley and basil before the frost arrives.

This year my garden taught me that when you work with living things improvement and progress is not a straight line. There is a spiral aspect to the progress of gardens. Some years they do well and others not so much. If my houseplants are any indication then this year was just not my year for plants. Better luck in 2010.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Art of the Month: September

When I thought about featuring an art piece of the month way back when, I thought it would be a good way to showcase what I've done and keep me motivated for future projects. But since I haven't been what I'd call prolific with art for ages it has changed somewhat for me. Art in my life right now is many things. Colouring/drawing shapes and objects for Kyan, making food look decorative or laying out a table with flowers and dishes. My mind and my heart find art in every little cranny of our home and outdoors in some unlikely places as well. And this monthly feature is becoming somewhat of a motivation for me to finish new projects and take small snippets of time each month that I would otherwise use for something else and use them for my own little projects that mean something to me.

With that in mind I offer you this months endeavor. An autumn goddess. I found her at the thrift store last week. My friend Heidi found one years ago and dressed her up for her kitchen goddess. And a few years after that she found another one that she dressed up for another wonderful friend of ours. It was my turn to find mine. I decided to give her a autumn theme so she won't be out all year but because she's a straw lady she just felt like autumn to me. Slowly over the years I have been building up seasonal/sabbat related decorations. Putting them out for their seasons makes them special and helps to break up the monotony of looking at the same decor for too long.

So here she is before as I found her. A little the worse for ware. Country kitchen style with some faded fake leaves, faded dried flowers, worn out cinnamon sticks and a skirt of eucalyptus.

And here she is now. I gave her a bouquet of flower seed pods and dried lavender in a checked fabric. A silver crescent moon on her brow, a multicoloured beaded necklace and a juniper berry sash with a beaded counterpart. And I repainted her shawl so that it was brighter.

She's on our mantle now watching over the autumn bustle of our days. Classifying her as art is perhaps a bit of a push, but she is this month's small space of time where I was able to create something just for me. And for now I'll call that art.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Bloggers Unite October 15th

I urge you all to visit Blog Action Day headquarters and consider adding your voice to the thousands who will be blogging on the topic of climate change together. Visit www.blogactionday.org to sign up.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Autumnal Equinox in Pictures

Under a hot sun that felt more like summer...

In a circle of stones, with feathers, leaves, and words...

Under the shade of leaves waiting to fall...

Leaf fights with the ones that have...

Rolling down hills of late dandelions, towards the changing Oak King...

A happy day of balance to us all.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Poem of the Month: September

We have emerged from a two week bout of cold followed by Roseola (a childhood virus of 3 days of high fever followed by several days of a red rash). Ky is doing much better, back to his happy self and my body has finally began to let some knots out. By Friday last week I felt like a top about to spin out of control. Thank goodness for my Mother-in-law, a bath, a date afternoon with my hubby and fantastic weather. On this eve of Equinox I offer you a blessing from Caitlin Matthews' book Celtic Devotional: Daily Prayers & Blessings.

Blessing of the Elements
(to be said on using any of the elements in daily life)

Blessed be the precious and preserving air,
the breath of life, our inspiration and delight.
Blessed be the precious and preserving fire,
the blood of life, our warming guest.
Blessed be the precious and preserving water,
the water of life, our cleansing guest.
Blessed be the precious and preserving earth,
the flesh of life, our sustainer and our wisdom.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Evaluating my Path Fall 2009

The figure you see above is one that I found at the beginning of the summer at a thrift store. Despite her 90's new age feel she compelled me to bring her home. Clean lines, serene, seated cross-legged with her hands open. After a fresh coat of paint I planned for her to be a focus for my altar. I wanted to create an altar in the one spot in our home that no one else went to, the corner of the balcony off our bedroom. I wanted to get a small table and set it up with a carpet/blanket in front for me to sit on and just have this little place of my own. I could meditate, do rituals etc. and most of all have an area to focus that energy to. Well, here it is September and is there an altar out there? No. Why didn't this happen? There are many reasons. Money, time, lack of dedication, lack of making this wish a priority for myself.
When I find an hour to myself it is hard to prioritize what I'd like to do most. Read, sleep, work,
blog, sew... the list is endless for me. I never have problems with boredom since my to-do list is always so long.
But where does this leave my personal practice and are the ways I see my paganism changing?
I consider the development of my personal practice to be a series of baby steps. I have tried to set goals each year for my practice and this year has seen some of them realized and some not so much. But my main intention is to work my spirituality into my everyday life. What that means to me is changing though. One of the great aspects of participating in the pagan online community is that I'm learning in a more community based way than I did previously. 10 years ago when I found this path I relied on books and the experiences of other peers who were exploring similar ideas. In its next phase my journey joined with that of other women and we worked together on shared goals. I have yet to feel the need to seek out "a teacher", I may never feel that need. Instead I see my sense of spirit evolving with my life in an interconnected way. For instance my cooking skills are not separate from my witchy tendencies. Each time I make bread or try a new recipe something inside is putting intention into my work. If I'm not careful, if my day is not going well, my intention can affect my food. This has happened to me several times in the last two weeks because I've been "off". Just not focusing, not being present in the moment when I'm cooking. Being mindful of the present moment is a primary focus of my practice.
Another development for me in terms of my interaction with the pagan community online is that I am learning incredible amounts of valuable information. There are several sources for this. One being the many podcasts I listen to. Hearing about the pagan community at large, from writers, musicians, and pagans practicing their paths their way is so enriching. I find myself evaluating my views on issues raised and keeping abreast of current news and concerns has really changed the way I see my place in the community. I feel compelled to participate, use my voice, and present that voice as authentically as possible.
Sarah Lawless at The Witch of Forest Grove has opened a can of worms inside me as well. She is doing a series of posts on the history of different pagan traditions. These posts are so interesting. I have flirted with terms like green witch, hedge witch, domestic/kitchen witch but Sarah defines them and provides resources for further research. There is a wealth of info on the web about paganism but there is also misinformation out there. I feel very confident with Sarah's research. Terms are more for the reference of others than myself because I don't feel the need for self-definition. But I also don't want to call myself anything specific without understanding the meaning of the term. Witch has been a word that I've identified with for the last 10 years. Not in the Wiccan sense, not even in the witchcraft sense (although I do often consider my work witchcraft) but the word resonated with me. Pagan, witch, and now I say solitary witch. Witch means many things to me: magic worker, gardener, artist, weaver of energy. It's meaning is changing for me though. The more I understand about the specific Witch paths the less I am able to identify where I fit into their spectrum. I don't expect to resolve this issue in one post or even any time soon. I think I just have to keep working, learning and listening to my inner voice and guides and all will be revealed in time. This post has been a bit all over the place so please forgive my ramblings...but they definitely reflect my inner voice these days. Inspired, tired and open to change.

A Must enter Giveaway from Mrs. B!

For the first time ever I'll be posting twice in one day. I had to tell everyone about this great giveaway Mrs. B is doing at Confessions of a Pagan Soccer Mom. Mother Tongue Ink has just released The Last Wild Witch written by Starhawk and illustrated by Lindy Kehoe. And the giveaway is a copy of this book. Mrs. B gave it a raving review and I can't say I'm surprised because Starhawk is a great writer. I recently read something that said that Starhawk was inspired to write the book while teaching here in BC. Even if you are not pagan this book is a great story for kids of all ages with morals and values that the earth friendly can champion. Check it out!

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Full Fridge Myth

Over the last few months I have been revamping our family's eating, purchasing and overall interaction with food. My goals for this were to reduce waste, save money and most of all appreciate the food that we bring into the house. During this time I have learned many valuable lessons about how I see food and what my culture has taught me about it. I have reached back into my childhood habits and questioned the validity of many of the thoughts that tumble through my head when I open the fridge.

The first one and the most powerful one is gazing into the fridge and thinking:
"There's nothing to eat." How many times did I say that to my mother while staring at shelves filled with food? My husband says it to me, I think it myself. I've been trying to deconstruct that thought. Trace it back to its roots in my being. The result is a hard look at how many North Americans (probably more of my generation, the 30 somethings and younger) have been raised to view food.

Many things affect how you view food. How you were raised is a huge factor. Members of my grandmother's generation who went through The Depression for example, would not say there is nothing to eat when gazing at a full fridge. Even if there were only a couple of things in there they would see that differently than someone of my age. Why? They understand hunger and poverty in a way I do not. There are still people all over the world and in our own neighbourhoods who have little to no food. They would look into my fridge when I think there is nothing to eat and see many more options, they would view the food as plentiful. They may even be overwhelmed by too many options.

So where has this mindset come from in me? The culture of convenience, middle class, I want it now. If I can't take it out of a box, put it in the microwave and be eating before the next commercial is through on t.v. then there is nothing to eat. It's been a hard pill to swallow for me that I have this trait but I do. I will often make something fast rather than make something wholesome and nutritious. Our culture also eats out in enormous numbers for this same reason. No time to cook, no time to shop but I do have time to order something off a predetermined menu and wait for it to be made for me. In other words I'll pay you to do all the work and reap the rewards....or in some cases pay the price of unhealthy meals later.

I've been battling this attitude in myself for quite a while. And we are slowly taking measures to combat this often silent opponent. We rarely eat out. When we do it is a treat. Dave and I both really appreciate the luxury of not cooking for ourselves. Because it is a luxury.
We don't have a microwave. Egads!!! Can you be serious? Yes, I really am. We hardly ever miss not having one. And it removes a huge portion of prepackaged foods from our grocery bill. If we can't make it with a conventional stove, we don't buy it. Being at home has helped me to develop better cooking and baking skills. I mostly make our bread, granola bars, and baked sweets. Canning and preserving fresh food is something that I'm slowly learning and incorporating into our food chain. Time and storage space are a challenge in that regard but I hope to plan better next summer and make tomato sauce and can peaches.
The biggest change that I have made in myself is to really look at the food on the shelves of my fridge. Having less food in there has actually helped me in the long run. How often do you find a head of lettuce or package of something perishable at the back of your fridge behind three more recently purchased items? I used to do this all the time and I forgot that it was in there. So now its gone bad and I wasted that food (and money) by having too much other food in the way. There is a strange urge within me to fill that fridge up because that means we have enough to eat. Even on grocery day we have food that could still be made into a meal. It's all about the way you look at it.
When I am able to use leftovers to create a new meal I am very proud. I feel that not creating more waste is good. I also want to teach my son to appreciate food and understand its preciousness. I encourage everyone to notice their own habits toward food, especially the next time you open your fridge.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Book of the Month: September

A change of pace for this month's selection. This book was published in 1974 and is so vintage that it blows my mind (in a good way).

The Stichery Idea Book by Beverly Rush is full of wonderful examples of embroidery, applique, bargello (needle work), batik, crewelwork...all that cool retro stuff that some probably think is terribly outdated but I enjoy looking at and getting inspiration from. There are some glorious examples of original design and even though most of the examples are in black and white photos you still get a great impression of the work involved. While you turn through pages of dolls, embroidery on clothing, quilts, art, accessories and holiday ornaments you get a sense of many talented artists and crafters who have come before. This book is not about how to craft these objects but is instead intended to be ideas to get the creative juices flowing.

I can't remember exactly where I found this book but besides the subject matter something else made me buy it. It has an inscription:

To Jennie,
In the tapestry called life
you're my favorite stitch.
(two wks before...)

Besides this being my name, with the spelling of it being the less popular "ie" ending that I so rarely get to see, I was so intrigued by this inscription. I wonder what was happening in September of 1979. Was this a husband writing to his wife before the birth of their first child? A enamoured groom writing to his bride of their upcoming wedding? Two friends about to embark on a trip? I will never know what prompted Dougie to write to Jennie 30 years ago but it's fun to wonder and I can treasure this book as a resource for wonderful ideas for years to come.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

I want to remember...

The time that I was so looking forward to is in full bloom. Ever since Kyan started walking I've been waiting for the time when he'd pick up rocks, sticks, pine cones and such and carry them around with him. I was a collector as a child and stones were my favorite. Often I would fill my pockets and hands to the brim and play with them for what seemed like hours.
Now that this time is here for Ky I just want to remember it. I wanted to record it here so that I remember his exclaims of delight at seeing pine cones! How he tries to pick up huge parts of fallen tree branches, the expression on his face as he contemplates which object he must relinquish in order to pick up another and how glorious his little hands are as they reach for nature's toys.

To store some of these treasures in one place I've created a little shelf for his outside toys. It used to be a shoe rack so it's nothing fancy but it's functional. On top I've placed a wooden salad bowl and a few other little pots to hold the rocks, sticks, feathers and such. It is his own nature altar for all of the things he holds dear at this moment (and some that I like too.) He usually goes to it as soon as he's out the door and chooses which things to carry with him. This stage is so interesting as if he must hold at least one thing in his hands at all times. I will keep this little habit of his as one of my most precious memories of this summer.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

A Monthly Column

Hey everyone. I'm very excited to announce my new monthly column at PaganPages.org. It is called Pagan Parenting Every Day and it is up for your reading & viewing pleasure. We've had a bit of a mix up with it being author credited to administrator but I'm clearing that up as we speak.
I am very happy to be contributing to the world of pagan e-zines and hope to share some interesting topics relating to general parenting issues with a pagan spin. Blessings.