Friday, May 25, 2012

Kitchen Altar

Since moving to our new home almost 2 years ago I have wanted to erect a small altar in my kitchen.  Besides the obvious reason of honouring the seasons and deity, I wanted this to be a reminder of what my time in the "center of our home" means to me each moment I am there.  And the thing is I'm there most of the time.  I make about 5 meals a day in there.  Sure at times it's as simple as cutting cheese and assembling a plate of crackers, or boiling water for tea, but each of those actions is a work of spirit for me.  Feeding myself and my family is a work of devotion, sometimes toil, sometimes pleasure.  I hear the hum of the fridge motor, feel steam rising from soup, and move through ritual after ritual of cutting, kneading, measuring and stirring. 
Looking to my little white altar and seeing what sits there reminds me of this great work.  Humble though it is.  I honour the food that comes into my doors, from local farms or from far away.  I honour the spirit of the Goddess Hestia and her vigil over hearth and home.  I chose an image of her where she is offering her flame since it mirrors how I feel when I bring offerings for us to eat.  Along side the image is my arbutus wooden knife.  I purchased it many moons ago.  Carved from a fallen branch I consider it a symbol of the craft work I do in preparing our meals.  And a simple homemade beeswax candle to light when the mood strikes.  I find that the action of lighting the candle is helpful in making my time in the kitchen more meditative.

If you have a kitchen altar I'd love to see it.  Leave a link in the comments for all to find.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Book of the Month: planting a seed

There is a new favorite in our family.  This time it is not mama, dada or big brother who love a specific book but the littlest member of our foursome.  Elliott has chosen The Carrot Seed By Ruth Krauss as his current read of choice.  There are a couple other books that he enjoys but this one is special because it is about the littlest member of the family and how his faith and perseverance is rewarded.

 I bought this book when Ky was a baby.  The vintage colours and illustration style called to me from the cramped book shelves of Value Village.  It is copyrighted 1945 and the illustrations were done by Krauss' husband Crockett Johnson.  A quick internet search didn't reveal a ton of information about Ruth although she is regarded as a star of child literature (not that uncommon for many women artists unfortunately).  I saw on Amazon that someone has written a biography about the couple that will be released this fall.  What I admire about the story is that it is simple and has a wonderful message.

The little boy plants a seed and the rest of the family says it won't come up.  When it gets to the page with the big brother piping in Kyan will run over and recite his line: "It won't come up."  And then...

The whole family is in one illustration together and Kyan will point to each character and name us as the family.  I mean we look like them, don't you think?  Oh, right my hair is never that coiffed, but Dave has always harbored a secret desire to take up pipe smoking (really!)  And if the suit was replaced by a hoodie and jeans we'd be in business.

All kidding aside, what makes my heart sing about this story is that while it must be hard to be the littlest brother and try something on your own when everyone tells you it won't work, if you believe in yourself you can make your goals happen.  I love the message that Elliott and Kyan get each time we read this to them.  Granted at 15 months Elliott may not get the deeper meaning but something about this book compels him to want to see it again and again.  That's a great start.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Tales from my Garden: 2012

I feel a bit behind in sharing about the garden progress already and it's still only May. As we head into a week of rain my pots are out on the deck getting a good soaking.  The snap and shelling peas are over a foot tall, I've picked out two new varieties of tomatoes to try and planted cucumbers .  Fingers crossed on those!  This year I also decided to double up on parsley because we love it in almost everything.  I also got some applemint, lemon balm, lavender and bee balm.  In the front plot the tulips are just getting past and I'm really excited about our first rhubarb harvest (once I use up the last frozen rhubarb in the freezer.)  I may add one more round of plants in a month or so, but for the most part it's time to sit back a bit and let nature do her thing.


Friday, May 18, 2012

someday...J is for Jasper

About 10 years ago this summer my sister and I took a 12 hour bus ride from Vancouver BC to Camrose Alberta to attend our cousin's wedding.  Along the way we had many stops but the one that is most memorable for me is when we stopped to stretch our legs outside of Jasper National Park.
From the Convenience Store parking lot I saw a far away mountain peak...(after searching mountain names in Jasper I'm still not sure which one this is)

And this wild and stunning landscape has been sitting in my heart ever since.  Someday a visit will be planned and carried out.  This trip will have a sense of pilgrimage to me.  I have many such places that I'd like to visit in a spiritual context.  Many are the typical pagan spots: Stonehenge, Newgrange, the Ganges river and some are just mystical and compelling to me for other reasons.
Being in wild places is very important to my pagan path.  It reminds me that I am small, that the earth in her mystery and power can inspire wonder and quiet the aimless ramblings of the mind.  I can get that when heading outside here as well but certain places in the world hold an allure of something deeper.  A lesson of place emitting an energy of a specific kind.  That energy can only be felt when your feet are planted on that ground, when you are breathing that air and feeling the breeze on your skin.
This song was inspired by this glorious place and only increases my resolve to visit.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Art of the month: pink & purple

Early this month I had the fun of making a little girl gift.  Picking out pink fabric was fun too.  So much fun that I decided to make the apron double sided.  One print was for a 4 year old palette with the required purple and pink and some food references.  Along with the hand embroidered name on the pocket.

 Fabric is Having a baby style#1201071 for Camelot Cottons

  The other print was for me, cause I love it.  Because when she is 8 she will still be able to wear the apron but may tire of the cutesy baby print and prefer the more grown up one that I chose.

Fabric two is sherbet pips by Aneela Hoey for Moda

Aren't the little girls swinging adorable?  Some of the trees have apples and some cherries.  I bought more than I needed for the apron of course and plan a few other projects with both of them.  And since there is no shortage of little girls around us I will get to plan other fun birthday sewing projects in the future.  I used an apron that Kyan has as the template and it came together really quickly which is lucky for me since sewing time is at a premium around here.  Next up: a few other gifts, a clothespin apron for me and I must get Kyan's quilt finished before he doesn't like trains anymore.  Must get more sewing done around here!  

Friday, May 11, 2012

J is for new Journeys

Last week I stumbled upon a new to me project that was started at the beginning of the year.  The Pagan Blog Project goes through the letters of the alphabet and each Friday you pick a topic beginning with that letter.  This week is J and so I've chosen the word Journeys.
Finding this project has been a step in the right direction for my languishing spiritual path.  I have celebrated Sabatts here and there and have acknowledged the moon as she passes.  I've had intentions of refreshing my altar and planning rituals with friends.  But life gets in my way so often and I just haven't had the dedication I want to to make these plans a priority.
Taking this journey with my blog and focusing my intentions once a week will be a positive step forward for me.  As the boys get further from the baby stage that time will increase, I know.  I try to be present and not fixate on what I can't do.  So joining this project is giving me a sense of what I can do.  Can I plan an elaborate ritual and dance under the full moon, no.  Can I cook with mindfulness and think magical thoughts while stirring a pot of soup, sometimes.  Can I spend Summer Solstice at the beach and bask in the sun for the longest day, hopefully.  And can I write about what my spirituality means to me once a week, yes.
This journey is about finding and redefining my path for myself.  As we grow so too does our path and what we need from it.  Summer is almost here and there is warmth on the horizon.  I'm looking forward to sharing the beach fronts with my almost running 14 month old as he gets to let waves splash on his toes.  Camping trips, preserving wonderful local food, picnics, hiking and watching the gardens grow.  So much goodness to the summer journey ahead and so much is lovely in the spring journey we are already on.  Robins dancing on the grass, windy days, Kyan learning to ride a two wheeler, Elliott's third clear word emerging as cheese.
As my pagan path weaves this way and that, over hills and dales, through thick brush and sunny meadows I have to adapt and reevaluate what it all means to me.  And as the boys grow they will need guidance in their journey's as well.  Learning about different religions, spiritual philosophies, and what they need for themselves.
As the sunshine promises to stay awhile this weekend it seems perfect to just bask it in and let time roll along slowly.
Here's to your new journeys and a wonderful Mother's Day weekend for us all.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Elliott's Birth Story

On the morning (early morning) that Elliott decided to arrive we were should I say it...prepared?  I mean we had diapers and supplies, etc. but the household was under the weather.  Dave had just started antibiotics for Bronchitis, Kyan was getting over a cold and I was fine other than being very pregnant.  Oh, and to top it all off Dave had just started (and I mean days here) the training period for a new job.  All of these things set the stage for me dubbing 2011 the year of bad timing....but as all babies do Elliott picked his perfect time and we just had to deal with it.  And deal with it we did.
For a week before E's birth I had some false starts.  They felt like the "rushes" that Ina May and the gang talk about in Spiritual Midwifery.  They made me wonder if I had forgotten what contractions felt like.  But they faded and so I just kept on with my days and waited for something concrete to happen.
In the early hours of March 16th Kyan called out in his sleep.  As far as I remember it was 4 a.m.  I walked into his bedroom and had my first contraction.  Immediately I said to myself: this is what they feel like.  And I knew this was it for sure.  I laid down in the bed for a few minutes and had two or three more and decided I had to wake Dave.  My first labour was 7 hours and it was established with the midwives and all friends and family that my second labour would be faster than that.  I was not prepared for how fast that was.
We called the midwife first.  She talked to me on the phone.  When I said that I had talked through a contraction she said that if they were still manageable to that degree then it was too early for her to come.  She said to take a shower and they would either subside or intensify.  And she assured me that she'd start gathering her things and prepare to leave regardless.
I jumped in the shower and within minutes the contractions became overwhelming.  As I'm moaning to Dave to call the midwife again, Kyan called out and woke up.  Dave somehow managed to call the midwife just before Kyan began throwing up in the sink.  Seriously?  What the...any way.  Dave also called Heidi Joy, my best friend who is also a Doula and his mother who was to hang out with Kyan while we took care of business.  In a matter of minutes we set out the birth area in our bedroom, put on music, lit a candle and I tried not to panic.  I remember having no concept of time but knowing that things were moving fast.  And I needed the support people there now.  I have a distinct memory of being on my hands and knees on the floor pounding it with my fist through the contractions.  Saying when will they get here, when will they get here.
And then Heidi arrived.  And then my mother-in-law arrived.  I felt more relaxed then but the contractions were not letting up at all.  After Dave admonished the midwife to "haul ass" a term she had never had directed at her before in her too arrived.  With everyone there I felt safe and had my most peaceful moment of the birthing stage when my water broke.  With my first birth I had been on the toilet when my water broke and so I felt nothing but a pop.  With E I was laying on my side on the floor and the water gushed in what felt to me like waves.  Fluid, rhythmic waves.  And after that the midwife was telling me it was time to push.  Push! I say, I've only just begun labour.  It's time to push though everyone tried to convince me.  And then my labour clouded brain relayed to me, push you silly and then this will all be over.  You'll be done.  Get going.  So in a very few pushes out came Elliott.  And he screamed for 20 minutes straight despite my best efforts to soothe him.

  The midwife (the wonderful Yarra) said he was the healthiest baby she had seen born in a long time.  Oh, and did I mention that he was born at 5:30?  Yah.  An hour and a half.  In an hour and a half 7 pounds and 14 ounces of sunshine was born and made our family complete.  So here is to my Pisces, curly haired, blue-eyed baby boy who is now almost 14 months old and is full of mischief.

  He honours several ancestors with his names and also decided to honour one more by being born on my Grandmother Mary's birth date.   So out of all of the crazy bad timing of 2011 the date he picked to be born was the most perfect day to be born into our family.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Spring cleaning

In my magical dreams spring cleaning would look something like Disney's Snow White movie.  Snow White dancing around with a broom in the seven dwarf's home, chanting a cleansing rhyme as the animals of the forest circle her with help in dappled sunlight.  
You know like this...

The windows would be open, the pail of warm water scented with essential oils, I would be scrubbing with energy and intentions of letting go of the old and welcoming the new energy of the season.  At the end of the day I would look around with a sense of accomplishment at a clean home...

I now interrupt this  daydream with a reality check.

Instead of seven dwarfs I have two little boys.   They circle around me as I try to finish one task; washing the windows, cleaning the cupboard fronts, maybe vacuuming under the fridge.  All the while I hear calls of: I'm hungry, can you fix this, various grunts and yells from the smaller one.   The essential oils never made it to the pail of water, all I can think is please don't spill all  the water on the floor and please let the windows stay fingerprint free for at least an hour.  At the end of the day the cleaning done earlier is a mere speck in the chaos of toys, food ground into the carpet and folded laundry that is now crumpled in the corner.

So the daydream of cleaning remains just that and finishing one task without someone being injured is an accomplishment.  And the crazy chaos of life with littles is our normal and I can't think beyond that for now. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Beltaine 2012: ribbons in the wind

Yesterday we had the pleasure of joining some old and new friends to dance the Maypole and make May baskets.  The spring has teased us with a few warm days here and there and glimpses of sun.  Just when I thought it was time to put on sandals and put the heavy coats away we get a week of gray days and Beltaine brought us wind.
It was crisp and fresh and had only a hint of sun here and there.  But we gathered, we danced, we laughed and the kids ran and played.  The adults made a tincture of spring's fertile energy, really it was just a lovely afternoon.  I plan to put out some offerings and clean and refresh my altar.  All the while preparing a handmade gift for a little girl friend and today I'm cleaning away.  But more on all that to come.  Blessings of Beltaine to you all.