At Year’s End

New Years celebration

Tomorrow is my 57th birthday. I still have no wish to “grow up” because to me, the next thing would be “growing old” and I refuse that judgment upon my person. I still believe in love, I still believe in the magic of those Unseen to affect beauty all around me, and I still believe (somewhat) in the goodness of the human race. I believe in romance; the kind that leaves you teary-eyed and breathless after a tender kiss. I believe in long-lasting relationships because the nature of love is compromise, care, comfort and consideration for one another. Oh, to be sure we all mix it up now and again to keep things fresh, funny and delightful to our beloveds.

I believe in reincarnation because I am very much a work-in-progress. It would be absurd, with all the flaws inherent in my being, to expect me to conquer them all in a single mortal lifetime. Especially if your lifetime has been foreshortened in a flash, with an unexpected crash. I believe in Wonder; because if I have forgotten what it looks like, all I have to do is find a four-year old to remind me.

When all the Ugly of this world descends upon me, all I really have to do is reach out to another. This has been the hardest lesson of all, because for years, I only interacted with others thru a narrow window of a bubble – refusing more than the scant contact of a phone call, a brief meeting in a small cubicle, the direct dryness of an e-mailed message. I wrote my stories at home, safely tucked away from the rest of the world in a 9 X 6 office, 30 miles from the nearest hub of human commerce. I liked it that way because those that deliberately looked for folks like me to harass, annoy, tease, belittle or outright bully could not reach me here; and I could illumine their souls with my limited understanding in the vain attempt to discover why they felt so compelled.

When you least expect it, Serendipity waves her magic wand and you find yourself bed-rest bound with a scary prognosis and an interminable wait for a follow-up CT scan and MRI. However, because of the Common Thread of Mercy, you also end up entertained by a lovely series of urban fantasy books. This was to be only the outside of the nesting dolls of discovery, but so little did I know.

Then, I discovered what a wonder a blog could be, and my eyes were sure to be as big as that four-year-old upon seeing fireworks from the top of a hay bale in a moonlit sky. Oh, the Universe wasn’t through with me, because then I had the joy of a writer’s retreat. Not before a near-complete meltdown, however. This little country mouse was secretly terrified of leaving her safe nest under the huge ash tree in the middle of the prairie. It took a lot of hand-holding, some serious acceptance of limitations and a warning of a bruised ego should she turn around and run back to the safety of the sun-dappled shadows, but Country Mouse not only navigated the airport and the rental car kiosk, but Chicago traffic and her own limited knowledge of getting maps to work on a smartphone.

There were some disappointments along the way as well; Google Maps is never accurate, hindsight is always better than gut-level panic, and re-think what you really need to pack before you have to schlepp it all over Creation. Learning your new limits or finding a new normal have been watch phrases for me; and in the spirit of being honest, not exactly welcome. The trade-off, because we do live in a Universe of Balance, is that I made some friends that have felt like they will and have always been a part of my heart.

The next stage of my life is a complete unknown – it’s like standing behind the curtain at an improv. You have no clue what you’re going to do, but you have a gut level feeling that you can wing it if you can just get over the fear factor. Every muscle in your body is both relaxed and tensed at the same time, your mind is racing and your breathing skips a bit along with your heart. However, there is that still, small voice telling you that “You. Got. This. You’ve had it your whole life. Now. Is. The. Time.”

To be sure, there is a wonderful happy part of me that is simply aching to share some good news. (I’m going to be published!) Of course, there is the part of me that simply wants the mess out of the house so she can sit down and finish writing some of the stories that fizzled to a whisper because of the distractions of crap she simply cannot abide! (Obsessive/compulsive, much?)

Here I sit, at the end. A sudden realization tearing my eyes; I am the only one with this voice, this perspective. Should I be too shy to sound out, the whispers of what I see will dim and face into the emptiness of Chaos, with no one to note that I even sat here at all. The fear of silence being more than the shyness of sharing a beloved’s touch on my neck, shoulders and the tentative kiss of “good morning” on a still sleeping face.

Soundtracks of a hundred movies sit in my queue, background music to a chattering brain flexing verbiage and feathered synonyms to paint the mind pictures. The window frames the sere grass overgrown for lack of a sufficiently powered mower to tackle the front acre. Naked limbs of crepe myrtle, mimosa, ash and tallow give depth to the framing, and within a golden pool of illumination, the fingers move and then still; here creation moves one phrase at a time.

Tomorrow, my heart will still waltz to an unheard tune, my eyes still looking for the miraculous, and my hands will still reach to learn that next, more difficult crochet pattern. Getting the brain to engage will always be the new challenge that the new normal has become, but I refuse to ‘grow up.’ No one ever said it that it was mandatory anyway; I prefer to grow better.

Mays the Bells of the New Year bless you and yours with their soul stirring chimes.

Gentle Hugs,



A Yuletide Pagan Primer for the non-Pagan



Time and again I’ve posted on Facebook and elsewhere NOT to wish me a “Merry Christmas” please, I’m not Christian. I don’t say it to sound mean or callous or Goddess-forbid engage in some feeble minded attempt to make war on a holiday held sacred by others. I’m simply asking that a level of civility be observed and to please extend to non-Christians the same courtesy extended to Jews, Muslims, and other non-Abrahamic individuals. In return, I’ve been asked “What DO you observe?”

I am only timidly going to stick my toe in the Pagan waters here, because I can only speak for our Druidic tradition and some of the Wiccan and Asatruar traditions that we share hearthkin with. Ah, yes…I can see that some definitions are going to be in order as well.

Shall we jump in? Primarily there are as many Pagan traditions as there are stars in the sky – and probably just as many variations in Druidry, Asatru and Wicca, so this is not gospel. It is a generality and should you have a burning desire to know and question that you just have to have answered, feel free to ask. Likewise, if I don’t have the answer, I can usually point you in a solid direction for where to discover the answer. is a likely resource, but not the final answer by any means.

Let us start with “community” – this is not as cohesive (although a crap-ton of us wish it were) or as inclusive as the word suggests. “Loose confederation” is closer, more holes that your granny’s doily is a better description. This mutually-agreed upon truce betwixt and between traditions and spiritual paths tends to generate a consensus gathering for most, if not all of the 8 “Holy Days” that revolve around an agricultural/astronomical calendar. Neither are the dates ‘set in stone’ per se. Because of a large amount of religious bigotry still running unleashed and rampant in a good part of America, most Pagani tend to utilize “the weekend closest to” the actual date/day/time for observance.

Let us also add an additional warning here. Because of the aforementioned problems with the distinct lack of general acceptance, if you’ve made an acquaintance of an individual that follows The Old Ways, please keep that information to yourself, unless that individual has acknowledged to you that they are “Out Of The Broom Closet” with regards to their spirituality. It’s a big no-no to expose someone who could very easily lose their job, their home, their children, their school funding or even their lives. No, I’m not going over the top here. It’s happened.

OK, definitions. “Heartkinship” – this is an established relationship between two separate groups of pagani; sometimes, two covens or circles, sometimes Druid and Wicca, sometimes Asatru and Druid. There is an agreed upon joint relationship for observance, prayer, feasting, even extending to informal fosterage of children during the summer months or sometimes during the school year. Yes, my family and I fostered our girls with an Asatruar hearth and likewise accepted their children into our household. It works very well when there are shared values and morals, with shared goals and expectations of the children involved. The benefits are amazing all around; but the trust and ability to compromise required of each side promotes a level of maturity that is admirable. Once upon a time, when there were extended families that knew each other just as well, informal fosterage was simply a given status. Modern America has lost something it could do well to rethink and regain.

‘Ghosti’ or Guestright – this is the set of acceptable behaviors between guest and host that stretches back into time. In a nutshell, it describes what is expected of a good guest; no breaking of the good china, lamps or host’s bones, no wrecking of the house, cars or property, no allowing the remainder of the household to come to harm through action or inaction on your part. In exchange, your host is expected to grant you a meal free from poison, vermin or inordinate gossip, a place to sleep should you require it, and a bath should you need one. Additionally, protection from anyone who would harm you while within the boundaries of their property is also an expectation. It sounds so simple, and yet too many times the members of the pagan community have seen both guests and hosts wreck the parameters of appropriate behavior on the order of a sleazy talk show.

As much as I hate to illumine the single underlying cause of the majority of these rampages, it must be outlined that alcohol can breed just as much antipathy as cheer. Setting firm expectations/boundaries with guests is a welcome foundation that can insure many happy holidays to come – be they Pagan or not. Oh yes. One more item. Set firm boundaries with regard to sex and sexual behavior. If you’re going to have a grown-up party, act grown-up and discuss consensus and protection.

Ah, so you’ve been invited to “circle” or “ritual” – Chances are the person that invited you will inform you of their particular traditions with regards to dress, time to show up, etc. Want to impress the person who invited you or officiates at the ritual? Bring a bottle of mead, or good wine, or something to eat. Clueless as to what would be appropriate? Do a bit of research on the ritual being observed. Many of the Full Moon/Dark Moon observations are closed – which means “no one outside the immediate group unless permission has been given.” So, if you are invited to a Holy Day observation, (one of the Big Eight) you’re going to be there with others who are likewise clueless or are attending their first event. Accommodations should have probably been made for your presence. Relax, keep an open mind and enjoy. Participation in the event is always voluntary, save for a preliminary ‘smudging’ or cleansing. Never be afraid to ask your host/hostess about appropriate attire, what to do once inside circle, if you can ‘sit this one out’ and where, etc.

What is this “Yule” thing anyway? For our hearth, Yule, is an ancient Germano-Celtic tradition that celebrates the return of the Light and is observed from sunset the day before the Winter Solstice to sunset the day of the Solstice. An hourly vigil is kept at the Hearthfire by the Yule Log to insure blessings to one and all that come to observe, offer prayers and seek blessings. There are some that keep an all-night vigil when seeking wisdom of importance. While there is gift-sharing, it is minimal and observes a protocol of “one gift to Share Your Light” (i.e. an artist receives expensive brushes, a chef receives a prized carving knife, etc.) There is often story-telling (the cycle stories of Munster, the Children of Lir, etc.) and there is often a recounting of the year’s events similar to Samhain.

At midnight, every light is turned off, the fire is ritually tamped out, and a new fire re-kindled upon the ashes of the old, with the exception of the Yule Log. Additionally, the Yule Log is never allowed to burn away completely; one piece of the log is saved to use to kindle the next year’s Yule Log, else the family line dissipate never to be spoken of or remembered again. Usually, only “hearthkin” (kindred accepted by rite) are allowed to share Yule as they are familiar with and answer to the traditions of “ghosti” or guestright. (This is a complicated set of traditions that have to do with hospitality – how to behave as a guest and/or host.) We usually roast a ham, a brisket and a salmon to offer on the table for the main feast. There’s baked apples, sometimes a roast goose, it all depends on a.) what we can afford and b.) what we can get at the butcher’s. It’s very different from Christmas, but very family oriented.

By far, this isn’t an in-depth description…because there is so much more. The names of all whom I’ve sent Yule cards to will be recited at the Hearthfire in order that the Exalted Ones extend a Blessing to them. There are bayberry candles that adorn the altar (for prosperity – “A bayberry candle burned down to the socket brings health to the family and gold to the pocket.”) Mistletoe is carefully hung over doors, holly and pine over windows (to honor the Ancestors & the Shining (Fae) Ones) and often the kitchen and pantry is ritually cleansed with salt & mint to keep pests away, the floor cleansed with herbal tinctures and homemade soap….It’s a JOB…but the laughter, the sense of community and the camaraderie makes it so worth the effort!

Yule is probably the one Holy Day wherein we open the hearth and door to any who care to share because we feel it’s only right to Share in the Light. To us, sharing the sacred with others connects us to them in a way that no other form of communion can. When you share a meal, a ritual observance, stories and song, you being to understand another person’s perspective, and their lives begin to have worth and value to you. A common understanding goes a long way towards acceptance and inclusivity.

Blessed Yule, Y’all…..from our Hearth to Yours.

The Spirit of Things


I’m not really exactly sure when I came to grips with that part me that others term as “spirit” but I can tell in a heartbeat if someone else is grappling with the idea of self-versus-Self. As a child I heard the magic of butterfly wings and raindrops, I remember the whispered wisdom of things that grow and go versus those things that have been here forever. There’s a sigh in the summer breezes that speaks of yawning tree branches and the deep coolness of spring-fed waters. Likewise there is a hollow echo to the chill winds of winter that aches with the absence of activity as all life slumbers.

This is not a consciousness that demands identity and labeling, this is a sense of self that requires a simple acceptance to freely express as whole and holy. There are no human words when the inner self needs to fly on wings that are not expressed as feather and tendon. There likewise is no language to paint with that captures a spirit in mid-dance. When that sense of what is eternal by sheer chance happens upon another whose dance is likewise free and uninhibited, “Love” is too small a term to embrace the sudden explosion.

Sometimes, if we are lucky, we come across the one person that makes the Whole of It real. I was lucky enough to have a person like this in my life; I call her “My Spiritual Mother.” Mama Donna came into my life just after I’d cleared the fog of the first three years of sobriety. She listened as I puzzled out where my Heart was, what my Spirit needed, and at the same time was unafraid to show where she was wandering so that others could learn along the Way, as she was doing. She showed me by example that Life was not about sitting on the sidelines, but jumping in on the Dance. Just to show me, she did; arms flung wide, one foot above her graying hairline and her heart open to all the Universe. I will ever remember her just as the photo captured, that “Woo-Hoo!” moment.

I remember when, in a moment caught off guard, she asked me what my ‘special stone” was and without hesitation, the wiser part of me jumped in front of my mouth and said, “Lapis lazuli, because it captures the stars.” She very steadily looked into my eyes and replied, “When you find that piece that is yours, send it to me and I will make something for you.” In a moment of serendipity some time later, there was a vendor at a city-wide event that had a beautiful disc of lapis in her stall and she sold it to me, along with some other pieces at a rock bottom price. Of course, I’d totally forgotten about Mama Donna’s advice until she lovingly reminded me again.

The unexpected thing about serendipity is that it never fails to bring home a lesson that will etch itself upon your heart for all time. I sent Mama Donna the lapis, and a month or so later, this beautiful pendant came to me in the mail, gold wire wrapped. What I didn’t notice (silly child that I am) was that there was a rune woven into the wrap – ‘sowelu’ – the Sun, wholeness and completeness. A sum of all that was, is, and shall be. It is a sobering reminder to me, now and again, that everything I need is at my hands – not everything that I want.

I’m still searching to ‘find my way’ and I suspect that this will be the status quo for quite a while until I can deal with the majority of the ghosts and terrors that haunt my waking and sleeping hours. Even turning your deepest anger into a fiction sometimes fails to slay the demons of memory; I cannot fathom the inhumanity visited upon one another our race perpetrates.

Within all of the lessons handed down to me this year wrapped inside the cloak of therapy is the stark reality that we are all more than the sum of what we do. What we do on a day to day basis is not the totality of the definition of our individual being, and when we allow such, we are in danger of losing that precious essence of self.

Here we are again, just past the edge of the cliff known as the Holiday Season. It’s enough to make me want to scream “Grow your own wings! FLY! Don’t follow the path of the lemming in front of you!” We tend to be herd animals, although. Be that as it may, I love and support those of us that have found a way NOT to go along with the herd – eschew the typical Black Friday/Cyber Monday madness, toss the idea of the usual gathering of relatives into the blood sport of dysfunctional verbosity, and find a new way to celebrate what they consider special and holy no matter what time of the year. Some of us even open our hearts and doors to others related only by virtue of species, because after all is said and done, we are all related.

In the Spirit of All Things, I challenge you to find another way this year. We each carry a bit of ‘sowelu’ within ourselves; we each have all that we need, not all that we want – we simply have to learn to ask and having asked, gratefully accept. The Light that we hold holy at this time of year is with us all year long. We simply need to learn to remember this, and carry a bit of it forward each day to share with each other. The road is not so long nor quite as lonely when we share the steps with one another.

Blessed Yule, y’all.

The Home Front


I never intended to raise a house full of girls. In fact, I think I can remember several occasions where I apologized for not giving my husband a boy to carry on his name. His answer was, “Have you SEEN my side of the family? We’re good.”

Be that as it may, just because there were females under the roof does NOT mean that there was a quiet, happy joy within the walls. Nope. No doubt there are Marine barracks full of rowdy males that were QUIETER and more sanitary than our home. From “fairy houses” of sticks, stones and mud to chickens (yes, I said CHICKENS) and the occasional kitten, there was always some sort of Chaos bubbling just under the surface of what appeared to be normalcy.

From birth, my girls were just itching to be into everything. Not a single one of them waited until their first birthday to walk, no run. At about 6 months, the urge to merge into bipedal freedom rose up along with their diapered little backsides. By 9 months of age, it was time to grab onto the curtains and cruise the furniture until “SURPRISE!” balance and locomotion made that little connection and it was time to run Mother ragged with squeals of glee and baby chuckles.

The firstborn had 3 acres and a pecan tree stump to wander over as she toddled into childhood from infancy. Not that she didn’t find enough mischief to get into; but dandelions were so much FUN to blow into her Papaw’s beautifully manicured St. Augustine lawn. A span of 8 years and then she had a sibling to join in on the domestic affairs, but Kat, the middle child, decided that living in the cupboards with the pots and pans was infinitely more enjoyable than just blowing dandelions into the manicured greens of the townhouse community we lived in.

Two years later and the last of the Celtic Warrior Queens Reincarnate came aboard just in time to celebrate with fireworks, watermelon and 100 degree temperatures in a very rural setting. We welcomed our first Great Pyrenees into our lives at the same time and of course he aided and abetted the baby’s first steps. What child could resist all that long white fur and gentle nature?

It appeared that the stage was set then, for all the antics and memorable moments to come. The move back into city life and the tiny apartment that barely managed to contain all the life within. The Yule tree that came with its own Squirrel; which didn’t reveal itself until the Dane was cutting off the 8 inches off the top to make it fit and managed to cut off the tip of his thumb when the squirrel made a panicked attempt at retreat down his body length. It gets better, the squirrel managed to find a way OUT of the apartment under the kitchen sink, but not without disturbing the bat that was sleeping/hibernating in the exit. When the sink door was opened to retrieve the dishwasher detergent, the bat fled the confines of the cabinet and all females of the household ran screaming for the relative safety of the master bedroom. This left Sir Bloody Thumb to capture the menace and expel such from the dwelling, immediately with no further assistance from the royal residents. You could almost HEAR his wish to fly free with the creature as he released it into the clear blue skies of a Texas twilight from the bat capturing shoebox.

The next move came with a backyard, an 8 foot privacy fence and a beautiful willow tree. It also came with the youngest daughters being ever-so-eager to go camping disappearing into the dark of a Yuletide Eve with a laundry bucket, their pillows, cans of food, but “No sharp knives, Mama!” The local constabulary were left with a Christmas story and had them all chuckling into their coffees the next morning as the paperwork was written and filed. There are also pictures of children wallowing in the mud of a drainage ditch where the only way their parent could discern lineage was by the blue of their eyes. Mad posse’s of children on bicycles when they weren’t at the neighborhood elementary also framed these years; as did the first of many sleepovers with children piled into heaps of air mattresses and blankets on my living room floor. This was where the practice of counting heads for pancakes began on those Sunday mornings way back when.

The next move would be marked by fields of bluebonnets accompanied by a little Welsh Corgi that had joined the household before the previous move, but now he was in his true element as the duplex bordered on a cattle holding. Retrieving Gizmo would become a household chore until a sane way of bolstering the fence line could be established.

Then, the eldest child graduated high school and was about to discover college. Time, it seemed had flown by all too quickly. True, there were two more daughters to get through the system, but this event telescoped the eventual happenings for the younger children. Once more, it was time to move. This time, into a house.

We were to lease/purchase a beautiful, two story home on what appeared to be a quiet cul de sac. Never doubt that appearances are deceiving, especially on a deal that seemed too good to be true. But, this was the house where the youngest child would set the sofa on fire with her laptop’s power brick and send her sisters screaming “FIRE” into our once quiet bedroom. This would be the home and final resting place for “Midnight- the Wonder Chicken.” This would be the home for what would become the starting set of kittens that grew into the “Crazy Cat Lady’s Starter Kit” I now know, love, feed and protect. This would be the home wherein I would watch a 20 pound Corgi ‘tree’ a 190 lb. electric meter reader up a 12 ft. oak sapling. This would also be the home that we would lose because of the shiftless, worthless lying greed of a ‘real estate investor’ and his inability to make the mortgage payments we’d been sending him for over 4 years.

I’d planted roses here, raised young girls into young ladies who attended their first proms here. Welcomed with open arms the eldest child back into the fold when a lying consort had beaten her and crushed her dreams. I planted morning glories and moonglow vines. I’d established an herb garden on the front porch, had plans to paint the bedrooms, created our first office, and managed to find a job that I could hang onto during the worst economic environment since the Great Depression. Now, with a single knock at the door and a visit from a confused Wells Fargo representative, it was going to be gone. Where was I going to shelter my daughters?

It all turned out better in the end, in its own way. Cat’s Paw Acres is not much; just 2.5 acres and a singlewide mobile home with a built on addition and a HUGE back porch, all covered by a wonderfully massive tin roof. In the past 5 years, we’ve made incredible memories here; the middle daughter’s High School graduation, but not before that fateful morning one late April afternoon when she received her acceptance letter into Cornell College. Then there was Batu, the wedding anniversary yak (an Anatolian Shepherd/Great Pyrenees puppy) who grew into a 150 lbs of lap dog. And last, the youngest daughter asking to go live with her godfather in California, thinking that he wouldn’t be as restrictive as Mom and Dad.

Before I knew it, the homestead is quiet. I can hear the winds sigh through the ash tree, the crepe myrtles, and the ligustrums. I’ve perfected the art of watching grass grow. I miss the insanity of having children underfoot. I miss waking up to piles of children between the Dane and myself. But I’m beginning to understand the term ‘golden years’ because like the golden light of autumn, while there may be some bad memories back then, they’ve faded with the light of happier times.

Transitions into Winter

I wrote the following about 2 weeks before the world as I knew it exploded into a Chaos of ICU and cognitive therapy. I was in that stage of life that a mother reaches when her children are in far-flung places creating their own lives, and she is left with the leftovers; forgotten socks, discarded shoes, and well-read books in unexpected places.

In late October, the sun stretches shadows in the afternoon into shaded hues of mauve and purple that contract with the sere and faded grasses of summer. It could be a melancholy symphony, or a simple reminder that life as we know it goes on, and in each stage we have our part to play. However, some of us have forgotten to accept the role with dignity and grace; we want to dance with our darker selves in the shadow of another life.

This poem describes my transition into the acceptance from the sorrow of leaving what was, because it no longer exists. If you ever wonder what whispers in the heart of a woman walking into her later years, perhaps this will illumine you.

France Autumn

When the Sun is Long – a poem by Rhae Camdyn
My children dance all on their own
In sun gold fields long overgrown.
My beloved tarries in his mind
And thinks I care not for his time.
My hand wanders over ancient craft
The needles plied thru weave and waft;
The days stretch out in times’ sweet song
Like shadows when the sun is long.
The house is silent with memories full
Cobwebs hidden from duster’s pull,
The bookcase stands with sentient tomes
That summon comfort in our home.
The kitchen waits its’ daily rhymes
Of coffee, tea and toaster time;
The tumbled cares of forks and tongs
Like shadows when the sun is long.
Outside the garden grown is spent
Remembered color, shapes and scent.
The trees with whispered windy breath
Now speak of cold and icy death.
The lawn stretches toward a paler shade
A stem of grass, forgotten blade;
The rake now moves to right all wrong
Like shadows when the sun is long.
And now I turn to find the dawn
Beyond the shadows when the sun is long.

The Change that Follows…

In the name of domestic transparency, tranquility and with a nod to the CDC (who has their hands full) I must admit to the rest of my immediate neighborhood that I cleaned out my refrigerator for the first time in several months. I know of the time period (last summer) from the items that I disposed of: half raisined grapes, bananas whose identity was only known by the rough shape of the roughage scraped off of the glass panel shelf that was their last resting place, several bread ends from gluten free loaves that were morphing into some previously unknown fungi, and containers of leftover hummus that were….well, less than fresh. That being said, in the spirit of “if you’ve grown it, you must own it” I’m admitting that I am not a domestic goddess per se.

Yes, I can make a pork loin that would make your tongue lap your brains out, I am famous for chili that will light your intestines with a glow that can be seen from space, and I can whip up a pot of chicken and dumplings that sends the swine flu virus screaming into remission…but cleaning up after these wild orgiastic bursts of creativity is not my strong suit. Therefore, my latest efforts in refrigerator hygiene will be, no doubt, growling in the depths of wandering goat guts for the next week or so.

In the immediate retrospect, after looking at the weather forecast for the next week or so, the monsoonal rains predicted may well drown any struggling bacterial phage and life form accidentally created by cross contamination of cleaning compound and dead organic “whatdafuqwuzthat” tossed into the compost heap. Further, since we’re in a burn ban until after the rains, there will be no airborne contaminants to terrify the local avian populations of mourning doves and cowbirds. However, if you’re starving field mouse, here’s your final chance this year to climb the ladder of evolution – at your own risk of course.

The cat populace here on the farm have wisely chosen to leave whatever field mice survive the compost heap well alone, but the barn owls are another story. So aside from genetically modified garbage eating goats, the other life forms I may have to claim responsibility for will be those lovely silent predators for whom I have immense respect but no way of warning off.

Ah, well….seeing as how tomorrow is Election Day, it seems that this week will be well annotated by the change that follows – in multiple venues. Be forewarned, apathy has its consequences in more than just one venue. What color was that goat this morning?

On The Road to Shambala


With a joyful heart and spicy, wicked grin for planting the earworm of the Three Dog Night classic in your mind, let me tell you where my body, mind and spirit wandered from four o’clock in the morning on Thursday to this Sunday afternoon. Let me help you get your bearings in the “Land Beyond your Imagination” – or where I live in my mind. I am a hopeless, shameless romantic that will occasionally ooze angst. I believe in the Power of Love to overcome all but the most Evil, and perhaps at that to have a fighting chance. I am also dealing with the aftereffects of a nasty cerebral vascular event which tends to make my life play out in vignettes of wonder strung along with tears and laughter.

Love is love is love and should be celebrated and held as Holy no matter how it manifests amongst consenting individuals of legal age. When I learned of the GRL Retreat being held this October, AND that not only would some of the individuals of like mind would be there but my favorite authors as well, it became like the Sacred Quest to attend. Fearlessly and courageously I cleared the mental chess board to ‘make this happen’ in spite of financial, physical and emotional limits. What I failed to consider, no toss that; what I denied even existed was the possibility of my short term memory loss manifesting adventure where I did not need it!

I was so proud that I’d made flight arrangements AND arranged for a rental car. I was going to do this like an adult! Did I LOOK at those reservations closely? Was I aware that I was shorting myself of re-coop time from travel? Did I know I was travelling before the chickens were awake BOTH ways and would miss the closing breakfast? Aww Hell, no!

Amy Lane is an author hiding her Goddess nature well, and as her birthday was close to the event, I packed a gift and card for her along with the books that literally saved my life for autographs. I packed clothes for cold weather, I packed clothes for hot weather. I packed shoes (which upon unpacking, I FORGOT I brought!) I packed all my electronic toys, and by the time I was done, I needed a wagon train with pack mules. Alas and alack, TSA doesn’t allow those on flights. Ok, time to reconsider and re-pack. Ummm, rethought and ended up packing even more. This wasn’t working. Finally, 8 hours before flight time I managed to get it together enough to have a reasonably bulky, but two item burden to schlep….and a purse….and a cane! Oh I was ‘Stylin’ – not!

packing list two

It was off the plane, onto a bus which took me to the rental agency and then into my chosen chariot for the weekend, a 2014 Kia Soul….but I did look lustfully and longingly at the Chrysler minivan as my evil heart had alternative plans flying around. I’d agreed to pick up another FB friend at Union Station whose train would arrive after my flight. This was not to happen simply because a.) The trains do not run on time and b.) Chicago depends on parking fees to pay its debts – simply outrageous! Looking at the maps on Google, my quest appeared to be quite easy. Allow me to interject here that while I have a snazzy Android style phone, the damned thing lost its mind AND it’s voice simultaneously at soon as I landed at O’Hare. Let us also interject that Chicago in its’ eternal wisdom of metropolitan angst decided to re-arrange ALL of the access roads, highways and byways with which one navigates any mass transportation area. I managed to get myself lost TWICE in the span of 4 hours despite having the latest in electronic navigation equipment via cellular device. Some would call it “creative ineptitude” – I prefer to term it as “The Tolkien Effect” – I was not lost, I was merely wandering with a purpose, because I eventually got to where I needed to go. Not without unnecessary drama, and I’m sure that there’s a certain member of Chicago’s finest who will NEVER forget the creative epithets that I have given him gratis for life in describing my cell-phone-that-doubles-as-a-flotation-device.

curse bubble

When I arrived, 4 hours AFTER I arrived, I was in no emotional state to do more than find a cool corner and quiver like nervous dessert (think jello) but I stowed the nervous breakdown for a later date and managed to get myself registered and responsibly present for book-stamping duty. Even though I missed the Swag Room and the Newbie Meeting, thus began the lovely adventure that ended all too soon but was marked by meeting Facebook friends and some new faces. Those I was in awe of: Shira Anthony, Rhys Ford, Amy Lane, Sara York, Ariel Tachna, Cherie Noel and Angel Martinez. Folks that I will share heartspace with forever: Dana Piazzi, Tame Anna, LE Franks, Kazy Reed, LM Somerton, Christy Duke, Kris Gray, JP Bowie, Tim Brehme and so many more that I simply cannot remember names. Allow me to take this moment to drop a deep curtsy of respect to the event organizers – you’ve earned a respite from incarnation as anything less than a pampered adored demi-deity for the next term of Eternity.angel-halo

The biggest development of sheer surprise to me? I sang karaoke without needing copious amounts of pharmacopeia to do so! That was ME – without Zoloft or Klonopin, (I’d brought them with in case I needed to return to the regimen I’d so carefully weaned off of…) and I remember just letting GO. Wow. Niki Massey and I did breakfast together….after schlepping the ¼ mile jaunt down the hallway that reminded me of the labyrinthine passages of a bad sci-fi movie. It was the only negative to a fantastic 4 day adventure that passed as a blur – the eternal jaunts back and forth and having to school the gnat brain into consideration of “things future needed”…(gnat brain barely speaks English on GOOD days. The cold weather and the fireplace gather pit was a welcome refuge that allowed me to enter into conversation as I was able to without an inner nervous breakdown/freak out.

Speaking of which, LM Somerton – honey, you were an angelic intervention when I was on the edge of implosion/panic attack. There simply not enough words to express the gratitude I feel for you being there when the press of the crowd was about to send me screaming off into the shadows. (Turns out that missing that particular highlight was a good thing….after the crush of the crowd, the temptation of alcohol would have been too great…Ya’ just never know when the Goddess will use you for emergency purposes!)

Lessons learned for the next gathering of my beloved, eternally adopted Tribe:

  • Bring your OWN pillows. Trusting others for your sleep comfort is foolhardy.
  • Pack simple basic outfits, not entire changes of wardrobe. Thou art not a clotheshorse.
  • Make room for every comfortable pair of shoes you usually schlep around in. Pack them.
  • Jammies trump t-shirts in cold weather.
  • Remember to send up good prayers for roomies with the patience of a saint – (LOVE YOU, Kris!)
  • There will simply never be enough time, hugs, smiles or tears when you spend time with the weirdos, misfits, and miscreants you call Tribe. That simple seed of Love will grow in my heart forever.
  • Find the courage to go outside your comfort zone – you’re amongst your people!
  •  HUGS. Give them, get them, seek them out. It’s how we stay sane.

Finally, I came home with a secret, glowing happy sheltered in my heart….Amy said my crochet was ‘Beautiful work’…..! I saw her fingerless gloves and was totally in AWE….Thank you, my new beloved adopted peoples, my Tribe!!!

PS: “Unicorn shifters? Ouch!”

unicorn funny

When You Wish Upon a Cloud

In the long lasting relationships there are always stories; these are the weavings of how we relate one to the other, of what we find precious and hold dear. It’s been more than 20 years since this particular incident occurred and I never considered what the impact of it would be for myself and my beloved. Today, I am glad to have this particular memory to look back on because it reflects on who we are as a couple and the tough decisions we’ve had to make.

It was October then, too. Six months after our wedding and I was VERY pregnant with our first baby together. I was also craving ice cream, but not just any ice cream. It had to be Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla. (Still my all-time favorite!) The Dane and I had walked the ½ block down the road to the corner convenience store and on our way in, we heard kitten noises. We looked around, but couldn’t locate the source –and I was worried, this wasn’t just an “I want my momma” cry, this was something more. Unable to find where the noise was coming form, we went inside made our purchases and then returned to where we’d heard the sound.

It was twilight, and there wasn’t very good lighting behind the store, but we were able to identify an area of the source; the dumpster. I was still worried and when we returned home, we asked the babysitter and my oldest child to take a flashlight and go see if they could find the distressed animal. 20 minutes later, she and my daughter came home with a tiny mess of a kitten; he was still yowling, but purring simultaneously. To our horror and shock, someone had wrapped this furry baby in duct tape and then attempted to set fire to him. His whiskers were singed, the tip of one ear was scorched, blistered and hairless, and his paws were a mess from where he’d tried to escape from both the dumpster and the tape.

With baby oil and scissors, we managed to get the tape off of him, and with cotton swabs and baby shampoo, we were able to get all the crud off of his coat. He was a green-eyed beautiful long-haired tri-colored tabby patched male, with fur so long and fluffy that I named him “Cloud.” His purrs were tremendous and his appetite more so. He ate the mix of canned and dry kitten food with relish and abandon, and promptly fell asleep with one paw in the food dish. We tucked him into a basket with clean towels and newspaper; sure that the morning would bring us a better chance to know our newest adoptee. After the rush of getting everyone off to school and work, the housekeeper and I discovered that Cloud had made a mess in his basket. I couldn’t clean him up as I was home on bed rest from having earlier premature delivery symptoms, so the housekeeper scrubbed the poop mess off the kitten and we layered newspaper in the bathtub of the unused guest bathroom for him. We figured that he’d just had an upset tummy from eating garbage and a week or so of eating kitten chow would ‘put him to rights’ – either way, he was much too young for worming meds.



I decided that Cloud needed a toy and went looking for something suitable for our tiny furry baby. All I could find was an oversized marble, but when I put it in the bathtub with Cloud, he pounced in absolute joy and abandon. Chasing and batting the marble was the thrill of his life, that is until his bowels decided that the extra movement was a signal to let go and he pooped all over the tub again. I heard him protesting loudly, Cloud did not like ‘dirty’ and his tub was ‘dirty.’

Sensing we might have a bit of a time with his bowel problem, I came up with a solution. Line the tub with paper, give him a potty box with newspaper and then plug the drain so his marble toy had free rein. For the better part of two weeks this was Cloud’s world; until anyone came into the bathroom, that is. Cloud preferred to be held and loved. He was happiest cuddled up under a chin purring for all he was worth, kneading the chest of the lucky person holding him.

At the end of three weeks, Cloud’s stools were still runny and now beginning to show signs of blood. He wasn’t weak, but I was worried and my beloved husband made a vet appointment for him. I wasn’t prepared for the phone call I received later that day; it was my husband, and he could barely talk. “Honey?” I asked, “What’s up? What’s wrong?” I heard him try to catch his breath and then I heard a choked sob. “Babe,” he replied, “Are you in bed or sitting in the living room?” I was propped up in the bedroom crocheting a toy for Cloud, and I told him. “Honey, put it down for a moment. Cloud was terminal.”

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. My beloved further explained, “Cloud’s mother must have been seriously infested with worms and she passed the infection on to her babies. The reason that Cloud didn’t get any better despite our care is that the infestation was so bad he had lost about 1/3rd of his intestines. The vet was surprised that he was so sweet natured as he had to be in serious pain. There was no saving him, honey. I asked for him to be put to sleep…and he passed in my arms.” There was a silence and then a sob.

I was crying, too. We’d tried to do right and take an abused animal from a nightmare existence, only to have an inevitable Death take him from us. It was also the first time that we would rescue an animal together. We’ve rescued animals and taken in plenty of strays since then, but no one and nothing compares to Cloud. People talk about the Rainbow Bridge and the afterlife. For me, I hope that on that big ol’ porch swing in the Hereafter waiting for me and my beloved, there’s a space between us – for Cloud.

Countdown to Chaos

Next week, I will be boarding a plane for the first time in 6 years to fly out of the State. I’m not going with anyone, and I won’t know anyone once I get there. Normally, this would be driving me to the point of insanity, but there’s this meme that has been going around and I think it pretty well sums up the wisdom that my heart knows but my head hasn’t been sold on. It says: “When you find people who not only tolerate your quirks but celebrate them with cries of “Me Too!” be sure to cherish them. Because those weirdos are your tribe.”

Chaos image

The heart of my inner little kid is all excited – for her this is Yule, the 4th of July and an early birthday present all wrapped up in one event. The inner grown up is trying to calm her with the memes of “Don’t get too excited, you’ll just be presenting an opportunity for disappointment.” The inner teenager – too cool for school, the usual smart-mouthed but wise “Tribe, girl. This is Tribe.” The whole of me is terrified that I’ll forget to pack underwear, socks, camisoles, clothes warm enough – the climate here is easy – you wear a string bikini and a parka at all times and change out as needed. Shoes, must remember to pack shoes. Please Goddess, my brain is back on the hamster wheel.

What I love most about GRL?? I’m a total and complete innocent – this will be my first. However, since I first read some of the attending author’s works and then chatted them on Facebook, I’ve felt as if I fell back into the arms of a long-lost family with all its quirks, faults, and frailties. Could it be? Have I come Home?

To defray expenses, I went on to a well-known discount airfare site, without sufficient training to navigate the vicious jungle of bargain basement prices. As a result, I’m going to not only miss the farewell breakfast, but I have to get up at the butt-crack of dawn BOTH ways. I will now state for the record, that I am not a morning person. I count myself and my day successful if I managed not to bite someone’s head off due to insufficient caffeination. The leeway given to potential Chaos is a portal that I really don’t want to see.

I will have a roomie that I’ve never met in person, however it seems that we have enough in common to set a place for her at our dinner table at least a dozen times a year and exchange holiday correspondence. All my family members are encouraging me to “expand my bubble” and “For gosh sakes’ Mom, get out of the sticks and see some folks! It’s bad enough you talk to farm animals and stray pets!” To which I will respond, “Hey, I communicate with others online. Remember you kids thought I needed to ‘get with it’ and get a Facebook account?”

Ok, I have the laundry all together for packing and preparation, various needs and sundries are in the primary stages of stowage. I still need to locate a couple pair of shoes….and oh look, my friend just signed on maybe I can ask her about restaurants in the area….Sigh, this is such a case for “direct supervision” before I hurt myself….I’m going to go find that large Danish mountain of a man that I married and get some before I so some additional strange research on cat’s tongue’s and sneezing (out of BOTH ends) that ends up with the domestic stock of pets hightailing it for the brush.

Weaving In The Ends

yellow ribbon

For the past three years, it’s been the Labor Day holiday that marks a bittersweet end of summer. This weekend means that the daughter will be making the 1100 mile journey to college. The first year, we took her – and all the belongings that she was convinced she simply had to have. It was an epic journey for a young lady that had never left her home state. She was so unnerved at our eventual arrival that she couldn’t even look at the beautiful Bell Tower and Chapel spire that marks the location of Cornell College in Iowa. It was hard for all of us, but we the parents put on a brave face and smiled in relief as the athletic students lined up to offload the arriving freshman. Her dorm room was on the third floor and there weren’t elevators….schlepping all this stuff up six flights of stairs would have invited a coronary in our unfit bodies!

At first, we simply couldn’t afford airfare for the winter break round trip, but we bought bus tickets and she managed the 18 hour long ride with patience overcoming hesitancy. The stories she would tell at the end of each journey were worth the nail-biting wait to see that she’d make it home and then back again safely. Her first summer, she brought home a classmate who couldn’t go home after a phone call home pleading for us to add to our brood. His sexual preferences and the politics of the emerging ruling party were at serious odds with his longevity as a human being. That the Buddhist priests in his native country were complicit in this travesty dropped my respect for their basic humanity and compassion considerably.

This was the summer of an education for all concerned, but it was also the summer of watching the joy of a newcomer to this country as he experienced the Fourth of July as it should be; with barbequed brisket, cold sliced watermelon, swimming in a spring-fed paradise and watching fireworks from the sweet scent of a newly mowed hayfield. It was also a wake-up call for the Dane and I – when we saw how desperately unhappy he was, we challenged him to follow his dream. Life is too short not to give it a go. He changed majors, colleges, and with his dream firmly in hand went to welcome his sister to America and her college. Whether he fails or succeeds, he will never have the regret that his dream went unpursued.

All too soon, it was time for Kat’s sophomore year to commence and this time, we could put her on a plane for the journey with a ticket to come home over the Yule holidays. What we didn’t even think of was the probability of the fickle Iowa winters when winter break came upon us and the encroaching blizzard that her plane barely escaped. There was a quick prayer of gratitude that her plane didn’t go through Chicago and as soon as it had come upon us, her winter break was over and she was back to deal with snow, classes and the season of cold that couldn’t seem to let go.

Now the second summer break is over and yesterday, after a meal with family at a Vietnamese noodle restaurant we put her on a plane to return for her junior year. Kat is no longer the uncertain student that she was when she first peeked through her fingers at the beautiful hilltop campus. Her friends, now lovingly known as her “posse’” have come to love her and us as we them. Not unlike something growing into being from yarn and a crochet hook, all the loops and twists are coming together into a solid body of education for our child, now nearly full-grown.

We are at the half-way point, and we see such a change. It’s beautiful, it’s breathtaking and a miracle almost equivalent to her birth. Within my heart, I sincerely pray that everyone with a child in college steps back to watch the unfolding, the rebirthing, and the forging of an individual that this process creates. Oh, it’s not over but when you could only see the misty edges of a dream, seeing it at the halfway point begins to awaken a belief in the impossible again.

I must admit to a bit of tongue biting when she announced that she would be the “house manager” for the year at the 8-person housing unit this year. My beloved child is about to learn all about ‘tough love’ and setting boundaries. My prayers go up that she won’t come home bitter and bald; however a certain knowledge of human nature predicts several phone calls home for a “What in the Hell do I do about this?” session. Her Dad will field those phone calls, because he married a Valkyrie who would rather pull a sword to dispatch a problem than negotiate an agreement on the bridge.

When it all comes down to it, it truly a matter of weaving in the ends rather than leaving something that could be snagged and pulled apart. We are all one, we are all woven together, and it helps to remember the feel of the threads in our hands when what we weave grows beyond the skein.