Hoooo Am I?

5 Oct


1.  If you could add one room to our house, what would it be?

The room I lost when I moved to this house – a craft room!  Somewhere where all my supplies can be easily accessed, with good lighting a large roomy work table.  I do a lot less now, in part because it’s such a pain to get to what I need.
2. How many pillows do you sleep with at night?
A bunch – I think there are currently 4 regular pillows, 1 memory foam pillow, and 1 body pillow.
3. What is the best costume you’ve ever worn for Halloween?
Glinda the Good, the MGM version – big floofy hair, a very tall translucent and glittered crown, a large disgustingly sweet pink dress… I spent the night making my voice sound like hers and annoying everyone.
4. If you could erase one item off the face of the earth, what would it be?
Um…. er….  Beavis and Butthead reruns?
5. Where do you do your best thinking?
In my thinking chair!  Where I sit and think…think…think…

October decorating – yes with pictures!

5 Oct

Things came together very nicely for getting some pictures up of my October decorations – my daughter loaned me her camera, but she couldn’t find the cord and I couldn’t figure out how to link the memory stick directly to my computer.

But then I got a lovely delivery – Michael bought me a computer/copier/scanner and it was delivered yesterday.  Today I got it set up and found a very easy to use slot for the memory stick on the printer.

Mind you, these aren’t very good pictures – the lighting wasn’t great, and my hands are a bit shaky to take steady pictures in bad light, I think.  But at least I’ve got visuals – I’ll practice to get better on the picture taking.

So, this year was an ‘absolutely no purchases allow’ year… and seriously I don’t need anymore autumn decorations (not that that is likely to stop me in a year or two) – I have more than enough for this home, especially when I have to account for visiting toddlers and a cat with a taste for plastic and straw.  Most of  these items are dollar store specials, or put together from items on hand – no real crafting involved, just putting things together until it looks right.

The main bunch of Autumn items are safely up on the mantle, out of the path of both granddaughter and cat:

There is also my year-round tree (the pictures, other than this close up, were far too fuzzy to post), a four foot tall metallic ornament tree that is currently decked out with fall leaf garland, a few black lace covered soft ornaments and home to this little scarecrow and corn dolly.

He’s a dollar store find.. she was handmade by volunteers at Prickett’s Fort up the road from me.  The corn dolly above on the mantle was made by me.

Finally, I took a close up of a few cross stitched items I currently have up:

These first two are my own designs – the crow was worked using variegated floss so the crow pattern was stitched in a sort of checkerboard pattern to add in some texture to help define shape using a black/grey floss.  I had a lot of fun with that one and need to tidy up the chart so it’s usable by others.

The little quilt block is a Tree of Life pattern, also done with variegated floss on perforated paper – stitching little motifs that don’t require a graph to do is how I while away the 5 hour car trips between here and MD (like the one I’ll be doing at the end of the week).  I need to finish this off with a backing and way to hang it – I think it would make a nice ornament to hang… for not it looks fine tucked up on the mantle.

This last is not mine, of course – it’s the work of the wonderful Lizzie Kate designs.  Also worked on perforated paper for quick framing – except I miscalculated the amount of overhang this frame would have, so it looks a bit cramped in there.  Fortunately, the frame itself (another dollar store find) has a nice autumn motif that pulls it together in spite of the cramping.

I’m being lightly mocked by family for all this decorating when I’m going to be away for a good percentage of the month – but it makes me too happy not to do it.  Switching out for November will be easy – a couple items put up, a couple more put out to take their place, and presto chango we’ll be ready for  the last hoorah before the Yule season takes over.

(shared with Tuesday Tag-along and Toot Your Horn Tuesday)

Oooh… I want this.

5 Oct

I am a huge fan of Red Envelope – they make lovely and unique gift, baby, and home decor items.  I wear a silver claddagh bracelet from them that I’ve had for several years.  Lately, I can’t afford them, but it doesn’t keep me from oohing and ahhing everytime I graze their catalog.

So, how exciting is it that Thanks, Mail Carrier is offering a giveaway of a $50.00 gift certificate.  This giveaway’s lasting all month, so go sign up… what a nice jump on the holiday season that would be.

Samhain Recipes

5 Oct

This is too good not to share – Cattra of Cattra’s Magickal World has posted a whole bunch of Samhain friendly recipes.  I started noting which ones I wanted to try..and then realized I need to just keep track of the entire post.   I think I’m going to make some of those shortbread cookies today.

Tarot Tuesday – Looking at the Halloween Tarot

5 Oct

Now that October is here, I’ve pulled out a couple of my favorite creepy, spooky, and altogether spooky Tarot decks -I keep a small basket near my chair with a couple decks on hand, and like to switch them up.

Today, I thought I’d show a few cards from the Halloween Tarot (Kipling West, US Games).  This is a really fun Halloween themed version of the Rider Waite Smith Tarot – one of the major systems of Tarot developed in the early 20th Century.  A whole lot of decks base their symbolism off the RWS and its my preferred method because the minors are pictoral rather than abstact.

In the Halloween Tarot, there is some switch up in the elements… Pentacles (Earth) become Pumpkins.  Airy Swords turn into Bats.  Watery Cups become Ghosts.  And Wands (Fire) are mischievous Imps.

This deck works for me on many levels – first, it reads really well – it’s not just a cute deck.. the RWS connects are there with some fun original twists that make it a good reading deck and not just a novelty.

But the fun factor is really there, making this a great deck to take to a Halloween party or other settings where people might be seasonally curious about Tarot readings, but nervous about the more serious decks.

This makes it also a good version if the deck is going to be used with children* who have expressed interest – Tarot can be a fun way to engage in storytelling, or to help a child express themselves about what’s happening in their lives. For younger children, there is a black cat that appears somewhere on each card, mainly observing each scene, but sometimes an important part of it.   Overall, this deck is child-friendly while still remaining meaningful.

*Due to the need to be sensitive to parental wishes, I think it’s never a good idea to present Tarot to kids unless they’re your own or parents who have given permission to do so – sadly, Hollywood and other representations by people who don’t understand Tarot have lead some to fear this little pack of cards or to implant connections to the adversary deity of their own religion – there’s no need to debate it – when it comes to other people’s kids, respect the parents, period.)

So… here’s a look a few of the cards – I’m going to show them side by side with the Universal RWS cards, to give an idea of the similarities and differences.

First let’s look at a card from the Major Arcana – these are the cards that show the Big Stuff… life lessons to be learned, universal themes being experienced. When you brush against an event or period of time represented by a Major Arcana card, your life is altered.

At random, the I drew VIII Strength:

Each of these cards depict a young woman and a lion – the woman is opening up the lion’s mouth, which the lion calmly allows.  I like this depiction of Strength as something other than brute force… she is not overpowering the lion… she is coaxing him – facing the lion with confidence and, as I see it, compassion.

In the RWS, this is a very pastoral setting, and seems to be gentling and controlling the lion (animal nature, wildness, natural instinct) and possibly using her hands to close its mouth – one of those things that are up to interpretation depending on the specific reading.  Over here head is an eternity symbol… we see that sideways figure eight on the Magician card as well – this type of strength is linked to divinity and something sacred.

In the Halloween Tarot, the setting for this connection between woman and lion is a circus – the lion sits on a pedestal holding his mouth open, while the woman looks inside with a tongue depressor.  Here’s she is not just controlling the lion .. she is looking at the state of his health.  The eternity symbol is on the tent material behind her so that one appears over her head.  I like very much what this card does to the concept of Strength… it speaks of not simply controlling one’s animal nature, but of keeping it healthy – not squashing out our instincts and urges, but making sure they are expressed in a healthy and stable way.

On the other hand,  I am not thrilled with this lion being in a circus setting… tamed, and expected to perform on cue.   But, that’s how it is with Tarot – sometimes creator’s interpretations work for you, sometimes they don’t.

Next, let’s look at the Minor Arcana – this section of a Tarot deck is broken up into two sections, the ‘pips’ or numbered cards, and the Court cards which depict various types of people.

In RWS style decks, the pips are not only markers showing the number of items (think about a standard playing card deck) but also shows an image describing what that card means (to AE Waite, that is) – because of the popularity of the RWS deck and its clones, these meanings have become standard, but it is helpful to remember that readers may not be reading with a RWS deck – and that intuition and personal experience comes into play, which is why they’re reading Tarot and not a book about Tarot.

Pips describe situations and events that cross our path – they may not be the Life Lesson stuff of the Major Arcana, but they are felt strongly on a daily basis.. this is where we live.  That flooded basement may not change your life the way the economy does, but of the two, the flooded basement is the one most likely to cause a sudden outburst of cursing – minor arcana cards are like that… possibly less important, but generally a lot more urgent.

Anyway, back to the Halloween Tarot – at random, I drew the Two of Bats:

Here we see a woman in white seated on a stone bench at night, in front of a body of water – in both cases, there are small bits of land nearby and a mountainous landmass in the distance.  A waxing crescent moon hangs in the sky – this has to do with something new that is just starting to develop.  In each case, the woman is blindfolded, arms crossed in front of her chest.

In the Halloween Tarot, the woman is not holding swords in her arms… rather, there are a pair of bats hovering at each shoulder.  She has wings, like an angel or – it seems to me – like an angel statue. In any event, the wings speak to the qualities of air, the element of this suit.  Air involves all things mental – communication, ideas, debates, thoughts and beliefs.

The Two of Swords – or Bats – for me generally has to do with a decision being weighed objectively.  The woman has turned herself away from the emotional waters behind her, she’s crossed her arms over her heart – both to protect it and perhaps to ‘cross her heart’ and be true in her decisionmaking.  She is blindfolded, perhaps to shut out irrelevent information….perhaps because she’s missing information she needs to move beyond this point and decide, already.   Sometimes, this card represents an impasse, where no decision can be made as the options are two evenly weighted – something needs to change to tip the decision one way or another.

The last card I’m going to draw will be a Court Card. In Tarot, these are cards that have to do with people, types of people, personalities and traits.

The card I’ve drawn is the Page of Ghosts (Cups):

There are again a lot of similaries here – in both cases, the page is a young man holding up a cup that has a fish inside that appears to be having a conversation with the boy.  The biggest differences I see are the dress – although they each are ‘dressed up’… the Page of Ghosts is dressed AS a Ghost, getting right inside his element.. the Page of Cups is in a foppish outfit all pink and blue and very pretty rather than practical.   They are each standing in front of a rolling body of water, althrough the time of day is different – daylight for the Page of Cups, night at the full moon for the Page of Ghosts.

One additions (other than the cat and ghost) I see in the Page of Ghosts is the sealed envelope on the ground.  It highlights, I think, one of the qualities of the Page of Cups – he is all about romance and romantic messages.

That’s what pages do – they are the carriers of messages regarding their element.  The watery element can be very fanciful, imaginative and yes, romantic.   This Page lives comfortably in the world of fantasy – talking to a fish, for goodness sake!

I tend to always see Pages as younger in spirit if not by age, immature and still learning about their element – this page is not a ‘player’ but an innocent… he isn’t always all that tuned into the reality of a situation, so he can get his (or her) heart broken, and break a few hearts too, though never intentionally.

That person you know that falls in love – really, truly, madly, deeply – to a new person every few weeks?  Who has planned out their wedding to the smallest detail (which definitely includes doves doing aerial ballet on demand, and swans wandering the grounds decoratively) but hasn’t yet chosen a partner or given a moment’s thought to what happens after… that’s a Page of Cups.

The Page of Ghosts shows the ‘let’s play dress up’ quality of this type of person.  I have a soft spot for the Page’s simple innocence and ability to dive into their own imagination.  Sure, there are some things still needing to be learned, but that sense of fun and possiblity is something these type of people should always strive to hold onto.

So… that’s my look at the Halloween Tarot.  Do you use this deck? How do you like it?

St. Francis

4 Oct

A Catholic friend of mine randomly made the comment today that the prayer attibuted to St. Francis is ‘sappy’.  Being not-catholic, I had no idea why we were suddenly dissing this prayer – one of the few Christian-based prayers I can unabashedly get behind.

After some back and forth, it turns out she’s speaking to the tune it’s set to – one I’ve never heard of before  although I am a fan of Sarah McLachlan’s version.

Sadly, my friend’s conclusion is that the music is so horrible (and yes, the version she sent me to was a very hideous elevator musical mess involving some guy with a bad haircut) that the prayer has lost all meaning for her.

How sad is that?

One of the most charming customs of the Catholic Church – and one being picked up by other denominations – is the Blessing of the Animals on October 4 (THAT is why she brought this up – it seemed so random until just now!). But beyond that, this prayer… which apparently is actually from an anonymous source in the early 20th century.. speaks to me of a profound and deep religious humanism, where one’s faith includes a response outward to value humanity.

I don’t quite not how to see this as maudlin or ‘sappy’.. it seems so brave, so difficult to live up to to me:

Lord make me an instrument of your peace

(your peace, not mine, where I’ll stop fighting unless you annoy me again)

Where there is hatred let me sow love

(just let me plant some seeds – I know it may take awhile to see any result)

Where there is injury, pardon

(because forgiveness is what heals – both giving it and getting it)

Where there is doubt, faith

(‘you’re wrong’ never led a single person to faith – let me be an example instead of a critic)

Where there is despair, hope

(because without hope, there is no path out of despair)

Where there is darkness, light

(help me be brave enough to share what I know)

Where there is sadness, joy

(and remind me that that isn’t the same thing as just being happy)

Oh Divine Master,

grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console

(remind me that I get what I need when I give it freely)

to be understood as to understand

(that change in outlook alters everything)

to be loved as to love

(help me be willing to be that vulnerable)

for it is in giving that we receive

(the law of return)

it is in pardoning that we are pardoned

(because we can never feel that pardon while we carry the burden of bitterness)

it is in dying that we are born into eternal life

(we need to be willing to face profound change in order to move onto the next stage – help me not cower in stagnation and fear)

It is really profound… and not a little intimidating.  But sappy?  Only if you’re talking sappy like the lifeblood of an oak…

I love St. Francis.. he was a good pagan. 😉

Return to Sender

4 Oct

The Today Show today had an interview with the father who got on his daughter’s bus and let loose on a bunch of kids that had been bullying her.  He knows he crossed a line – I know it too, though as a parent I can’t help but applaud.  This is a father who loves his daughter – who hurts right down to his core at the reality that there are people out there who are willing to cause her pain for the sake of a few minutes worth of entertainment.

I honestly hope they spent the day in school with wet pants.

I didn’t sleep well last night and today I indentified why… today is the day I’m due child support – and for the last six months or so, it’s been getting very haphazard… either short, or late, or not coming at all.   And it’s leading to heart palpitations due to stress every couple of weeks.

Worse – and that’s bad, but its just the money part – he’s totally dropped communication with her and with all the other kids. I think they’re connected… if he relates to her as a person, it’s not going to be so easy to pretend that its ok to regard he as an optional expense he can take or leave.

So..she’s lost her dad, who made a whole lot of promises about that not ever happening when he left.  She’s lost the ability to enjoy her last year of high school because finances are so tight that everything is regarded through a filter of ‘can we afford this’ and the answer is always ‘no’ or ‘depends on if the money comes through as it should.

Even when it does get paid on time, in full, I’m afraid to spend it beyond  absolute immediate necessity because there is no safe guarantee that the next payment will happen on time.

So anyway.. not so much a complaint as a basic look at how things are.  I deal with the money, occasionally panic, mainly try to use what we have as wisely as possible… it’s when he makes clear that he doesn’t care what it does to her… when he rejects her attempts to start a conversation, or promises something he doesn’t deliver on and then suggests to her that it’s HER fault she’s not getting it because she ‘nagged’ (because she asked if he was still going to do X…)… that’s when I get mad.

That’s when I’d love to get on the metaphorical bus and put the fear of goddess in him and make him feel what she feels – make him live the shaky life he thinks its fine for her to live when he’s got a BMW that cost him well over $60,000 and the last time he saw her – over two years ago now – all he did was brag about it while she asked in vain if he might take her shopping for a pair of jeans.

I hate feeling this kind of anger.. makes my throat close over in pain… makes me shake… makes my heart start pumping so hard I am afraid it might literally burst right out of my chest.

I try very hard not to wish him harm… and that is hard, hard, hard when he is causing my daughter harm. But I do want him to feel and live with the harm he makes her live with.  I do want him to know, down deep in his core, what doing without feels like.. what having those who should love him show him neglect and disdain.

I want to just send what he offers back to him, where it belongs.

A couple years ago – when I was dealing with an earlier set of conflict with him, I came across this protection spell and stored it away.  I have actually used it in modified form many times –  I modified it because I was… and remain … hopeful that the harm being done might stop.. that rather than offering harm, good might also be offered.  Hopeful that maybe a connection could be learned that when you treat others appropriately, that good comes back to you too.

So this is my modified chant – and I say it to keep myself from frankly cursing him, as once again, he tried to short us by nearly three hundred dollars.  I’m speaking this chant to remind myself that his well being is also my will if he remembers to value the well being of his daughter.

(Note.. this is not a money issue for him.. he makes 6 figures; we live under the poverty level.  This is because he is a very greedy man with a taste for expensive toys and has racked up his credit debt so high that he ends up with little cash left over after bills.  If he looks after her first, I welcome him being showered with abundance – I simply object to the imbalance he’s fine with.)

Return to Sender

All acts of good or negativity

will now return threefold to thee

All harm or help you send my way

upon your own self will hold sway

All acts and words of love or hate

become your own decided fate

By all that’s good and true and wise

by oceans wide and deep blue skies

by day and night, and powers three

as I will it, so mote it be!

I promise, this sort of woe-is-me post will not be the norm here.  I am very blessed… his bailing on parenthood and health problems are the only negatives in my life. My children are lovely people, my grandchildren and a joy, the man in my life is kind and compassionate to a fault.   I don’t want all the stuff my ex has – it always was a chase to try to buy happiness that has never worked for him.  I am surrounded by love, and am ridiculously happy when I’m not panicked over trying to make the edges of living meet.  I have no credit debt so am far less immediately impacted by the current economy than many.

I just want to stop having me and mine being the recipients of the spewing negativity he fills himself up with.  I spent a long time trying to help him find a way to happiness… that’s not my job anymore, but I do believe the only hope he has is looking after the people in his life he’s been blessed with and doesn’t appreciate.

*whew* Ok rant over.