Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Book of the Month: August

I mentioned the book Radical Homemakers: Reclaiming Domesticity from a Consumer Culture already this month but thought it deserved a more dedicated post.  Reading this book brought me to a new understanding of how people everywhere are choosing to live their own lives in the wake of a culture that moves more and more towards consumerism.  We are told to consume more stuff and how can we do that but to work and work constantly?  Well we could use credit of course and many of us do but we all know where we end up eventually in that scenario.
This book tells the stories of people who have chosen to live differently.  Consciously deciding that for them two or more cars, fancy houses and fast paced lives are not what fulfills them.  Instead they adhere to the four tenants in the year 2000 document The Earth Charter which outlines principles for a sustainable way of life.  Following these would support a life-serving economy rather than the exploitative one we have today:

1.  Respect and care for the community of life
2.  Ecological integrity
3.  Social and economic justice
4.  Democracy, nonviolence and peace

Shannon Hayes wrote this book in a way that gives the reader time to pause and reflect personal values while also relating or not to the many examples of American people living their version of Radical homemaking or what some are calling a return to homesteading.  This is about re-learning skills that our ancestors used for survival but many of us have long since lost.  Baking our own bread, fixing a leaky faucet, growing our food, making our own clothes, making our own entertainment...the list is endless.

"Healing our planet, our hearts and our bodies, bringing peace to our society, finding happiness, social justice and creative fulfillment, all begin by turning our attention first to our homes.  But it does not end there.  Reclaiming our domestic skills is the starting point; our continued happiness, creative fulfillment, and further healing of our society and planet requires that we look beyond the back door and push ourselves to achieve more.  It is not enough to just go home and put down roots; we must also cultivate tendrils that reach out and bring society along with us."

Many of us misinterpret what being a homemaker today is.  We think living in a modern world means that we have to strive for success in the sense of demanding careers, ladder climbing, and being busy to the point of hectic lives.  There are many versions of being a homemaker, as many as there are people.  But at its core the term is for those who see the value of life as being enjoyed in the little things: wholesome food, handmade gifts, knowing your neighbours, and supporting the causes that you believe in.  This is not about perfection but connection, living and being present in our lives and not getting caught up in a culture that chews up and spits out many of us before we realize what's happening.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Learning about time with collage

I have a new post over at Pagan Parenting Resource Blog.

Hello all!
I wanted to share a little project that my 3 year old and I did recently.  He has developed an interest in time: "When will I be 4?"
"When will it snow?"
"When does soccer class start?" here for more

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

What's that you said?

This post has been running through my head now for several weeks.  To be honest I thought I had already written it....upon further investigation I have not.  There was a bit about it here, but today I want to talk frankly and openly about a little topic called feminism.
The movement towards social justice for 52% of the population is always an undercurrent of my writing.  I'm sure if you have read this blog for a while you have noticed it between the lines of what I'm saying, or maybe you haven't and that's what got me thinking that this post was important.  Perhaps I appear to be a blinders on stay-at-home mom, happily making dinner while her man makes the money and abandoning my personal ambitions for the betterment of my family.  Those who know me personally would never assume that, but how can I know for sure what readers (a.k.a strangers for the most part) would conclude?  For the most part I don't care about the perceptions of others but in this case I feel that for the sake of this movement that I consider myself a card carrying member of I must write this post and record for my own historical records where I stand and how I call myself what some would say are two conflicting terms.
"In my second year of University I took a Woman Studies class. I had always been one of those women who said: "I'm not a feminist, but..." I had conformed to the view of feminists that is stereotypical in North America; man hating, angry women. Taking that first Women Studies class changed who I believed myself to be. So much rang true and spoke to the deepest part of my self. And the phrase "The personal is political" made sense to me. The interconnection between all parts of self and how the outside world related back through that. I worked a Women Studies class into each following semester. And the more I read feminist theory the closer I came to the Goddess Spirituality Movement through images of Goddess art. I was pursuing a degree in Fine Art. My art began to reflect my journey. I was re-inventing myself. Stripping away years of society's conditioning to find who I really was."
I wrote that 3 years ago.  I have now been a stay-at-home mom for almost 4 years and I am learning more and more every day that "The personal is political" is so much more than a catch phrase.  I believe that the many thousands of women and men who worked to give me a choice of how to live my life deserve to be honoured and I honour them.  Today feminism is not only needed but is lacking momentum as this documentary chronicles.  My generation and the one just ahead have lapsed into a complacency that startles me.  But there is so much entangled with woman's rights and social justice.  Consumerism, racism, environmentalism, economic woes, religious all jumbles together.   Radical Homemakers: Reclaiming Domesticity from a Consumer Culture contains the closest new decoding of all these things into a cohesive thought for me.  I see my choice today as a radical departure from the mainstream idea of what being an empowered woman means.  It doesn't mean that I have to put my kids in daycare and work for a paycheck to be an equal.  Many of my close friends and family have made that choice and I respect their decisions based on what is right for their families.  Choice is key here.  Single parents don't often have the same range of choices available, in short there are as many ways to raise your family as there are families.  But for us, for me, this life of making a home, being a full time mom and in some capacity making art is what works right now.
Feminism is the means through which this life is possible.  I think of my life as a spectrum of choices.  Today I make my family and the work of maintaining my priority.  5 years from now there will be another dynamic.  Our home life will need more balance between Dave and I as I move towards charting a career.  But for now we work in roles that fall back to a time before feminism offered an alternative choice for women and men's roles.  On the surface they are the same but underneath they are very different and evolving every day.
The need for feminists, women and men who want equal rights and justice is real.  If you happen to fall into the category of persons who say things like:  "Feminism is obsolete," I beg to differ and I offer these oh, so western examples of why that is not true.

Judge rules rape victim's clothes and behavior ease the blame on her attacker

Number of women in Canadian Parliament

Wage gap between men and women

Domestic violence death statistics

For these reasons and countless others I am a feminist.  For the future generations of women and men, for my sons, for my nephew, for the earth, for the millions of people who are treated badly because of their sex, their sexuality, or their choices to live their truth.  If you agree then say so, if you want to change it then do.  Live your truth as a free thinker, an empowered person and a citizen of this earth.

    "The future depends entirely on what each of us does every day; a movement is only people moving."
                  -Gloria Steinem

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

my full moon

I love to hear the variations of names for each month's full moon.  Corn moonSturgeon moon, Grain, Red...the list of names for August's is probably as long as there are tribes all over the world who honoured the moon's light.  I decided that this moon's energy was perfect for a small ritual of empowerment.  I used the essence of four runes and the elements, along with the full moon to charge four objects for each family member.  While each of us needs something different our collective bond grows stronger each day.  Becoming a family unit, the weaving of our threads together, happens naturally without much effort but I can't see how helping that along is a bad thing.  When things feel at loose ends or too chaotic I appreciate the ability to focus our intent.  My object was the Carnelian broach in the photo above (also blogged about here).  I asked for stamina and for wisdom in finding small moments for myself.  I opened with a dedication to the moon stating my intent.  Following that I called on the qualities from each rune we needed and then I raised energy by chanting a poem on page 63 of A Victorian Grimoire: Romance - Enchantment - Magic.  Then I charged the objects one by one, consecrating them as I went and recited a small closing.  Simple without any bells and whistles.  It's all about the baby steps around here....

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Art of the Month: summer gifts

You may remember a photo here and there about these little drawstring bags of mine.   They are simple but pretty and functional which to me is always a winning combination.  So recently I added two more to my little grouping sending one to Heidi Dawn and the other was a gift for Heidi Joy.  I am blessed to have these two women as friends.  Collectively we are all mothers to 2 boys each, artists, thinkers, and conscious citizens of this planet. 

While they share the same name these ladies have different colour essences to me.  One whimsical with the other more delicate.  Making these bags is a kind of create therapy for me since if undisturbed I can make one in an hour or less.  With typical mama interruptions a day will suffice so I still get the satisfaction of a completed project or two.  These bags usually arrive filled with chocolate, other artist's creations or other special treats.  

Little gifts are important for mamas.  They fill up gaps in time that we miss spending with our friends, and when used remind us of that person or our memories of who we were and who we could be in the future.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

four & five

Keeping track of Elliott's first year on the blog seemed simple at the idea stage but since my blogging moments are few and far between I feel like content is suffering a bit from all the updates I tend to be doing these days.  But rest assured friends it will get more diverse as time progresses.

As I write E has his second cold.  It's extent is hard to determine as is often the case with babies.  Stuffy nose, goopy eyes, some coughing and restless sleeping (which of course adds up to a tired mama).

This baby is a mover though, he wants to chase his big bro already.  He "talks" a lot, is rolling from back to tummy and pushing up on his hands with his very strong arms.  He is close to sitting up and is several months ahead of his age in clothing size.

Since summer decided to arrive he is enjoying rolling on blankets under a sun umbrella at the beach and taking stroller and Ergo carrier naps in the fresh air.  He is also bonding with friends and family and smiling lots and laughing too.  Let's just say when he's happy he shines as brightly a the sun.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Tales from my Garden: summer heat

The sun and heat have arrived on the west coast.  And the garden is alive and growing.  As a novice gardener I think things are coming along nicely...but let's be honest it can change at a moment's notice.  First things first I wanted to show you the front garden which is finally "finished" for this year anyway.

From the enormous Hostas in the front you can see one perspective.  I should have taken the photo when the Lupine was in bloom it was a lovely pink.  The Rhubarb has grown happy stalks, the Primroses are bushy, we planted two fern varieties, Great Masterwort and some Impatiens for colour.

I am pleased with how the strip of river stones turned out. (once the trike is parked elsewhere they'll have more impact I think) And I'm on the lookout for a gnarled piece of wood to put between the Hostas at the back and the ferns.

As for the back patio the Paul Robeson tomatoes are fruiting.  Only flowers from the Brandywines yet.

We've been happily snacking on sugar snap peas.

Watching gorgeous spaghetti squash blooms turn solid.

And I'm anticipating a happy harvest of our Yolo Wonder green peppers.

I've been browsing Sugar Snaps and Strawberries: Simple Solutions for Creating Your Own Small-Space Edible Garden and it's a lovely book.  Dave informed me the other day that we need more plants out I'm formulating a plan for next summer and this fall as well.  Despite summer's late arrival we're happy it's finally here.