Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Wishcasting Wednesday - 2010 Wishes

As we prepare for the New Year, Jamie asks us

What do you wish for 2010?

My immediate thought is to answer with an obvious, but slightly flippant, statement. For it to be better than 2009, of course. But deep down, I know that there is more.

I wish for 2010 to be a year of blooming, even against the odds. It will be a year of deep blessings and joys to counteract the sorrows and terrors of 2009, and it will be a year of spiritual grace and acceptance. 2010 is the reward for surviving 2009 and standing in the muck that has been poured out on myself and all of those I know. It will be the year we see the blessings and glories that come from being the seeds buried in the earth and smothered with beautifully aged manure to enrich our environment. It is time to bloom.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Wishcasting Wednesday: Holiday Wishes

It is the day before Christmas Eve and today Jamie over at Jamie Ridler Studio asks us

What do you wish for this holiday season?

I wish for stability, less stress, more peace and happiness. I catch peace and happiness in tiny fragmentary moments as I am caught at the edge of this precipice where I am tiptoeing through the darkness. Like the stars on a cloudy night, I see the faintest glimmer as the clouds pass by, but mostly I see the inky blackness of the clouds. I walk tentatively, at the end of my strength, afraid that my next step will send me over the edge into the abyss that lurks just out of my sight in the darkness of the night I am walking through. I have called upon those whose place it is in life to guard weary pilgrims through dangerous passages, but I feel no guide, no warm guardian presence. Just the awful silence waiting to swallow me into never ending darkness. I push forward, knowing that the light will return and I will once again walk safely in the light of day on a path that meanders through bright meadows and gentle hills. The light is returning, and I am on my journey out of this particular night, but I seek the rest that those glittering fragments of peace and happiness can bring me here and now to refresh me as I travel.

I am glad to be celebrating the end of 2009 - quite frankly I'm having a difficult time finding the bright places in the year and I want it to be over. I want to start fresh, letting the manure and compost of the events of this last year settle into the soil and become the nutrients that feed my growth and blossoming in 2010.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Solstice Blossoming

My Amaryllis is blooming, and I pray that it is a foretaste of the blooming that I will soon do myself. I have patiently waited and watched and nourished it while the bulb sat until I could find the right pot to plant it in; while it waited in the darkness of the earth to know that the time was ripe to grow tall; while it sent out it's single strong stem; as the bud grew fat with promise. I have waited to know the beauty of this flower, this particular plant, until the time was right.
I see the lessons for my own life - that I must wait patiently while I am transplanted from a pot that was too small for me to the place where I will next be able to grow and thrive. I must continue to wait patiently as that place is prepared for me, the proper hole dug deep into the soil, amended with the proper nutrients and compost (this is especially important, because improperly prepared compost can burn a plant just as the difficult lessons in our lives burn and hurt us even as they give us the things we need to learn in order to be our best). When my new place is ready, I will be transplanted and my roots will find fresh nutriment and I will be able to thrive once again. I will be patient as my roots send out new rootlets and I become established in my place. I will soon be prepared to send out new stalks, laden with heavy blossoms. I will bloom.
It is difficult to be in this time of waiting. I have been uprooted, and am still waiting for my new home. I have a choice, though. I can be like some of my succulents, who require a time of hardening off before they can be rooted to start new bushes and who can survive on very little as they wait. Or, I can be like many plants that, if they wait too long for a new home, wilt quickly and may never recover. I choose to be like the hardier plants, the ones who wait patiently and transplant well. I choose to hold tight to the knowledge that my new place is nearly ready for me and that I will soon have a new well of nourishment with which to supplement my own inner supplies.
I will bloom again.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Seeking Christmas

Christmas Eve is a week from today. My creche is on the mantle, waiting for the small figure of the baby Jesus. My tree is in it's stand, waiting for the lights and ornaments that will make it sparkle like magic. I have a list of things to do to keep me busy... baking, wrapping, watching. Yet it feels almost empty this year.

My decorations sit in their boxes, waiting to be set out in their places. There is the beautiful nativity scene embraced by the wings of an angel, lit gently as a nightlight. The lovely Madonna figure crafted many years ago by my aunt that used to grace my Grandparent's house with her gentle presence each Christmas. The sweetly smiling Santa figure that my husband and I picked out our first Christmas that we were together. The angel with feathered wings. The glass ornaments. All of them are waiting patiently for me, sitting reproachfully in the boxes that fill up the space on the floor where I walk around them and carefully avoid looking at them.

I had planned to make lovely goody bags for friends and family this year filled with homemade candies and cookies. The list of what I am planning to make grows smaller and smaller as Christmas grows closer. My alternative plan is ready to go.

Instead, I sit on the couch and wait. I wait, along with my special decorations, along with Mary, Joseph, the Shepherds and the Wise Men. I watch in the dark stillness of the night, wrapped in a nearly finished blanket and unable to sleep. I seek and hope that I am prepared when it breaks through.

I seek the joy, the light, the love of the season. My spirit is cold in me as I wait for the nights of joy that I pray are coming soon. This year it seems that my heart is duller in my breast, my spirit farther away from me, my energy sapped. I have heard myself say, more than once, that "Christmas is just another day this year" and I wonder at how it got this far.

So I press my face close to the spicy needles of my Christmas tree, inhaling the sharp aroma of the sap and rejoicing in the tickling of the branches against my skin. I light a candle to ward off the darkness, praying for the light to lighten my heavy heart. I play the music of the season; carols and ancient tunes sung by joyful voices, ballets played in tuneful splendor by orchestras, thoughtful musical meditations played on the organ. I pray that the music will wash away the slowness that is shadowing my every movement and weighing me down.

I seek out the beauty and I pray. I wait, I listen, and I yearn for that moment in time that is coming when a miracle is born in the darkness of an unknown night.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Wishcasting Wednesday: Gifts

Today, Jamie is asking us

What do you wish to give?

Which is an amazingly hard question for me to answer! I am a giver at heart and often give too much of myself away. My delight is to know that I have made someone feel better or happier in some way for my having come into their life at any given time. I know that I fail miserably at that on some days. We all have those days and I try not to get down on myself for it, but it truly is my deepest joy to see someone smile or express relief or some other indication that I have been able to give them something (generally intangible) that they needed.

I believe right now, however, as I am giving away energy, love, and everything else to keep others moving and happy, I need to give myself permission to sit down and take care of myself once in a while. I cannot keep giving without refilling the well.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Settling in for Winter

There has been rain at the cottage for much of the last week, and I have thoroughly enjoyed my time sitting beside the windows or on our covered porch with a cup of hot tea in hand watching the show. I have even dragged out a few of my ufos (Un Finished Objects!) from this summer and am working on completing those. The doily could take me a while as I seem to be having difficulties holding my tension comfortably even, but I'm taking it a little at a time and it is, indeed turning out well. I am almost finished with the lapghan, a heavy acrylic number in grey, plum, and purple Homespun. I'm still not sure what to do with the beginnings of my round ripple afghan as I am not really enamored of the way it is turning out, so I may take it just far enough to be a small table cover or something and use it that way!

Things seem to be stabilizing for me as I settle in to the ways of keeping the cottage in a welcoming and homey way. Books are moving, decorative pieces are being adjusted and readjusted, and the atmosphere is coming together. Now I have to find places for my Christmas and winter season decorations!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Wishcasting Wednesday: Spirit Wishing

Today, Jamie asks us:

What is your Spirit wishing for?

My spirit is wishing for freedom. Not freedom to fly, but freedom to live authentically. Freedom from worldly worries of whether or not we'll be able to pay all of our bills this month or how I will earn money without compromising myself or my health.

My spirit wishes to live from the heart, doing what it is called to do here on earth. Playing with the yarn and fabric that makes my heart beat faster, dancing with the healing energy to share that brings lightness and joy into the core of my very being. How do I blend those things that bring me joy with the practicalities of surviving in this world where gifts are not always respected or honored?

Monday, December 7, 2009

Stormy Day

We are snuggled all safe and cozy here at the cottage while the rain has fallen and the wind is howling rather mercilessly. The dog hates the rain and won't go outside, so he is curled up in his chair looking at me quite pitifully every time I try to drag him out the door. On the other side, the cat is totally ignoring the weather and has curled himself up on our bed to sleep out the storm. It is our first real winter storm of the season, and I am delighted to be indoors with hot tea, a hand crocheted afghan, a fire in the fireplace and my husband on the couch beside me.

I am especially grateful to have survived Saturday. It was the debut of my parent's company, Ivy Hill, and we had a booth at the marketplace of the Point Loma Holiday Home Tour to benefit Best Friends Society. The sky kept getting darker throughout the day with the wind coming in little gusts that grew increasingly cold, but the rain held off until yesterday afternoon. The various seasonal baked goods that Ivy Hill offers were a resounding success, and we are off and running. I look forward to helping them fulfill the orders that will roll in as the holiday approaches.

I took several pictures, but haven't been able to load them into my computer yet, but I promise that as soon as they are in my grasp I will share them.

Stay safe and warm as the weather rages!

P.S. I thought I'd share a favorite herbal blend that is perfect for relaxing in front of a fire!

1 part Lemon Balm
1/2 part Peppermint
1/4 part Rosemary

Put herbs into a strainer, pour hot water over and let steep for 5 minutes before removing the herbs. I like to sweeten this with a dash of honey and sometimes I will even add a squeeze of lemon juice. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Wishcasting Wednesday

Today's Wishcasting Wednesday question from Jamie is:

What is your Winter wish?

The first wish that pops into mind is simply emotional survival. I have clinical depression, which is often exacerbated by the darkness this time of year. The strangest part about all of this is that Autumn and Winter are my favorite seasons! So no matter what I am dealing with a physical paradox, I suppose.

After sitting with the question a bit longer, my Winter wish is to use the time to prepare to launch my Etsy store and bring myself that much closer to my dream of bringing Wild Oak Cottage to life as a business that supports me and allows me to share my gifts with the world. I still have a ways to go to complete the dream, but an Etsy store is the most easily attainable first step. I also hope to have a school chosen to pursue my Massage Therapist License and to find the right teacher and tradition in Reiki so that I can have an avenue to share my healing gifts with a wider circle than just my immediate family.

Finally, I want to thank everyone who wished with me last week for closure. I had a telephone hearing yesterday and I know that no matter what the final judgement is, I have found closure and am able to put the whole miserable experience behind me. I am just sad that it had to happen in the first place, and that I allowed a betrayal by a pastor and co-workers to color my thoughts about an entire denomination that they represented.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Tea Art

After a lovely Thanksgiving and utterly relaxing Friday at home with my husband and bonus daughter I spent Saturday visiting a blogging friend! Kimberly Shaw is an artist that I have long admired (I've seen her work around in local tea shops and yearned for it for a lot longer than I have known she blogs!) and when she held an open house last year I was unable to go. My mom went and I had a delightful Christmas full of stickers, cards, and even some prints that are hanging among the teacups and plates on the wall in my dining room!

So when I saw her post with her invitation for this year's open house I hastily looked at the date and was overjoyed that I was going to be able to go. As an added bonus, Georgia was bringing her delightful Christmas ornaments and Sherry Evans was going to be there signing copies of her new book, Afternoon Tea in Southern California (which has Kimberly's artwork throughout)!

It turned out to be an absolutely lovely day in spite of (or perhaps because of) the stormy weather. We arrived just before the hail, and so were warm and cozy with cups of tea in hand perusing the Christmas cards in the living room of the home that houses Kimberly Shaw Graphics when the skies opened up. Among displays of all of her cards, stickers, notepads, pins, magnets, and teas (and beautiful paper crafts by Georgia and Sherry's book) we nibbled on homemade scones with homemade lemon curd and pomegranate jelly and sipped tea, chatting it up with all of the other Kimberly Shaw fans who came by to restock their stashes of her beautiful cards.

It was quite the day, and I came home with another print to join the two in my dining room as well as several cards and sticker sheets. I think at least three of the cards are going to end up framed (especially this one). It was wonderful to spend time in such a creative space and to chat with Kimberly about her products and plans. She even showed us some of the original paintings, and my mom and I spotted several of her teacups on the shelves as well.

I loved having the chance to meet Kimberly, Georgia, and Sherry in person and to make those local connections that sometimes get lost in the shuffle. I know that when I first started to covet those Kimberly Shaw cards and notepads I saw I never dreamed that they came from less than an hour away!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

It is Wishcasting Wednesday again... already???? Today Jamie is asking us

What Step Do You Wish to Take?

I wish to take the step to finally let the past be past. On December 1st I have one more hurdle before I can put the most recent betrayal by my former employer behind me. I had finally realized that it had been for the best when they fired me, but the hurt of how it was done has been lingering until there was formal closure. Next week marks that closure with a telephone hearing.

On a positive note, I wish to take the step of following my calling to be a healer. I have been given the gift, the skill, the compassion, and the passion and it is time I stepped into the part of my life where I am fulfilling my life's calling and being true to myself.

For all of our American friends, Happy Thanksgiving tomorrow!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Monday, Monday

This started out as a Monday Morning update, but has quickly become a Monday Afternoon Ramble! Not for particularly bad reasons - I've been busy baking (of course), doing laundry, picking up, planning, sorting, cutting, washing dishes (goes with baking), and in general pottering around doing the little things that add up to a satisfying feeling of having gotten something done even if you can't quite put your fingers on what it was that you have frittered your time away doing.

In so many ways I am content to do the little things that keep a house running, what is harder is getting said home to a point where it is just little things that keep it running smoothly instead of limping horribly, sadly along. Just last week I tackled a truly frightening project by organizing our mail center. It takes up the top of a bookcase in the center of our house and was completely covered in a very intimidating pile of papers and other clutter. I sat down and sorted the papers, created a very nice filing system of inbox-style letter trays, removed the extra chargers for phones that we no longer use and even had room to plug in the fountain that we moved to sit in a little alcove created by two bookcases. I still have to go through all of the pens and pencils I found and shoved into a couple of pencil cups (I'm sure that some of them are quite dead), but there is a little upright organizer for stamps, an address book, and a couple of member directories and other things needed for mail, and another one of those little upright organizers for sorting things that need to be taken care of right away.

I'm inordinately proud of myself for this endeavor, since it is one of those things that has been bothering me the longest and seemed the most impossible. The top ledge of the kitchen island (which these two bookcases sit under since it was built with not enough room to pull any stools up to) is my current project. As the clutter is cleared away and the counter cleaned it is filling up with boxes and such of things I need for baking and for Thanksgiving preparations. I had hoped to clear it completely, but I can't seem to find a more convenient spot for the gallon of molasses and 10 lb bag of flour and other large amounts of supplies that I am going through.

Now I'm practicing a bit of avoidance here, but thought I'd keep everyone apprised of my progress!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Another Friday Ramble

Friday evening, sitting on the couch with my amazing husband beside me and a Lemon Loaf cake in the oven (still baking those along with Gingerbread and a Luxury Almond Cake or two for Ivy Hill in a couple of weeks!), I am content. I should be working on my crocheted Christmas presents that feel as if they are falling behind, or I should be pounding away at my NaNoWriMo novel (I'm waaaaay behind by now), but instead I am sitting here typing away at my blog. I've been busy cleaning the last couple of days, and finally tackled one of the scariest projects in the house that I have been putting off for months. It feels good to have it done, and all of that stuff organized. Even better, it means that I am making room in my life and environment for all of the wonderful new energy to swirl through and bring me the blessings of living into my authentic life and calling. I love the feeling. Now I'm off to enjoy the rest of my Friday evening!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Wishcasting Wednesday

Today's Wishcasting Wednesday question from Jamie is:

What do you wish to embrace?

I wish to embrace life as it is meant to be lived.

I wish to embrace the true self that I have hidden for so long that I have forgotten what she is like. Too many traumas have allowed me to accumulate pounds of excess weight (what man in his right mind would think that I was available for his pleasure if I'm so overweight that I don't even come close to what society thinks is attractive?!), scars both emotional and physical, and a rather large collection of fears both rational and irrational.

I wish to embrace the lovely woman who is hidden inside, just waiting for her chance to shine. She is gentle where I am sometimes too harsh, she is forgiving where I sometimes rush in to judge, she is myself when I am being true and honest about who I really am behind all of the defenses.

I wish to embrace my gifts and talents instead of being afraid of the attention they might attract. They are a part of my true self that I keep hidden away where I don't have to see the possibilities, to know that I am missing out on a great deal of happiness and fulfillment as well as keeping something from this world that only I can contribute.

I wish to embrace joy, the profound happiness that comes when you are being your truest self and doing what you were created to do.

I wish to embrace my life as I am meant to live it.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Energy Flows

Our little cottage is a bit of a conundrum. When it was placed here on its little plot of land it was set so that the master bedroom is facing the busy street corner with our rooms for entertaining set in the middle and the office and spare bedroom furthest from the street, where there is peace and quiet. Personally, I would have preferred it to have been flipped 180 degrees - with the carport side along the side street where our garden is currently and the master bedroom in the back. In systems like Feng Shui our current alignment is a detriment, because it means that the private areas of the house are most exposed to the busy energies of the street while the areas that would thrive most on the passing energies are buried in the back. Most difficult of all is that our front door and porch are placed so that they face the foothills that run up to the back of our neighbors, making it so that energetically we are always coming up against large obstacles in our forward movement.

Lately, it seems as if those obstacles have become insurmountable and I was even ready to switch doors in their frames if it would declare to the universe that I am ready for a change. Unfortunately (or fortunately) the doors are different sizes, so that didn't work. I try to remember to call them by their opposite names, but everyone still refers to the door to the carport the back and to the porch the front, so I can't even fool the universe that way.

So now I am simply trying to open up our views a bit. Working on the house to maximize potential and energy, to capture opportunities to expand and rise above those foothills. I do not wish to say that moving to this house was a mistake, for I am learning a great deal from our cottage in the foothills. I am simply ready for the tides of energy to change.

Tonight I will join Suzie Ridler and many others in lighting a candle in the dark to proclaim myself a child of the light. I have not finished a great deal of cleaning, clearing or cleansing. I am walking my own journey through the clutter; energetic, emotional and literal. I will keep vigil tonight by my candle flame as it lights a circle in the darkness and I will remind myself of my potential as a child of light. Perhaps I will even gather my courage to work with the Reiki energy that I have been afraid to work with directly since my attunement went so wrong. Perhaps it will simply be enough to cup my hands around that one simple flame as it burns away the darkness of my night. I will not know for sure. Whatever happens, I will bask in the spiritual community of those who will be lighting their own candles, burning away their own darkness.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Friday Musings

I suppose I feel as if I should be saying "Nothing much to report this week" even if I have been steadily working on the baking and growing that are my main projects at the moment! There has been a rather peaceful ordinariness to my days while my mind has been working furiously in the background to keep me on my toes.

Instead, I am gazing at several lovely shades of green and a few brown yarns sitting on my table whispering my name while a paper plate contains the sparkling beads that make up the bracelets that I am making. Soon, the house will be full of the rich smell of the Gingerbread that I am making for Ivy Hill. I will be heading out the door soon to run my errands while it is still early so that I can return home to my cozy cottage that much more quickly.

With a gentle breeze that has a definite nip to it and large fluffy grey clouds rushing overhead through the blue sky it truly feels like fall. I feel rich in my ability to enjoy a day like this, full of the sounds of birds and a view of the wildlife open space that is just outside my back door. Blessings of Peace and Abundance to all of us!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Wishcast Wednesday

Today's question from Jamie is:

What do you wish to dare?

I wish to dare to take risks, to live life out loud, to be myself in the way that only I can be. I am tired of living small to avoid conflict or to keep from upsetting anyone. Today I dare to fly free and be myself - the healer who can heal others from her own knowledge of being hurt; the dreamer who dreams and believes beautiful, impossible things; the wise woman and goddess I have become and am now, even when I forget or hide from the truth about myself.

I dare to live.

(It seems that some of my wishes are a bit repetitive, but it all works. I guess I'm just wishing for the big things and working on the small steps it takes to get there!)

Monday, November 9, 2009

A Project Update

As part of the general busyness of this past weekend I went to a baby shower for a family friend. She is doing the nursery for her baby boy in a Dr. Seuss theme, with the colors being red, white, and navy blue. So, since she is a family friend whom I have known since she was born, I made a baby blanket.

Since there is no such thing as baby yarn in true red or navy blue, I decided to go all out and use a really nice, very washable acrylic yarn. This, with my mom's help, ended up being Lion Brand's Homespun in Colonial, Candy Apple, and Deco; which made a very nice, warm, heavy blanket that will be able to transition well into the baby's childhood years. I used the pattern Baby Granny Three Ways, which I found online as a free pattern from Coats and Clark.

I think it turned out quite well! (Yes, I know the picture is sideways, it fit better this way!)

I have lots of other projects in the works, but since they are Christmas presents for people who read this blog I can't show them to you until after Christmas!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Busy Bee

There I was: ahead of my goals, breezing through, spending hours at a time glued to my computer. I had ideas flowing, I was really going to town. Then I stopped. Two days ago. Today is day three. I haven't written at all. Instead, I've been baking, helping my parents prepare stock for Ivy Hill to sell at the upcoming Holiday Home Tour. The house has been full of the wafting scents of Lemon Tea Loaf and Gingerbread, while I have been nibbling on a sample of a Dense Chocolate Loaf that we are thinking of including. Hopefully, while I am rotating pans in and out of the oven and flying high on the lovely smells of delicious baked goods, I will be able to steal some time to work on my NaNo novel.

The hardest part of writing this is suspending my inner critic. The point is to get the novel on paper - not to have it fully edited and ready to publish! I have to keep reminding myself that it is okay if it doesn't make the best sense in the world: I have all the time I want after November is over to edit the heck out of my story. Perhaps I will end up with two or three stories by the time I sort myself out and figure out what the heck it is that I have just written!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


Is it Wednesday already?! Yikes. Today's Wishcast Wednesday question from Jamie is:

What do you wish to experience?

I wish to experience freedom, peace, deep joy, and healing for my own wounds.

I don't think that sounds like too much to ask! There are dark wounds masquerading as healed over scars that I have been carrying around for too long in my life, and they hold me back from fulfilling my purpose. Fear, even as far as terror, surrounds me when I do experience moments of deep peace and joy. The backlash from trying to work through the pain manages to knock me flat every time, trapped within the darkness. I'm not afraid of scars, they are part of the experiences that make me who I am. I just have not found the right teacher to help me find the tools I need to go deep enough to heal those wounds and cleanse them of the infection that keeps them open and active in my life.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Monday, Monday

Welcome back to the every-day world. Halloween this weekend was great fun with a young person here to celebrate with and giving me an excuse to be out wandering the neighborhood (somebody has to walk all those blocks with her and watch to make sure nobody tries to kidnap her!). She collected a large stash of candy which I am sure I will still be shifting around the freezer come February!

Today it is the usual round of trash and recycle pick up, laundry, and general tidying the cottage from the fun of the weekend. Or it would be, if I weren't so busy trying to wrap my mind around writing a novel. Of course, I am still doing all of my Monday tasks, but my mind is not as focused on them as it has been.

Today I am thinking about voice, names, countries, story lines. Fleshing out a fantasy world that has existed only in my daydreams. This writing it down is more difficult than threading a story through my head for my own consumption. It feels more vulnerable, somehow. More dangerous.

I am starting a whole new adventure.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Halloween is Coming

Halloween tomorrow. Strange energy swirling through the air. Pumpkin lanterns ready to be lit to light the path for our loved ones, carved with scary faces to frighten away the evil spirits. Candy in bowls ready to be passed out to children seeking treats door to door wearing costumes cute or scary. The veil between the worlds lifting and tearing. The return of standard time and the sun setting earlier, cozy nights spent curled up by the fire.

I love this time of year, and yet I fear it because of the biological changes that happen in my life and in the lives of some of my friends. For some of us it is chronic depression aggravated by the changing season. For others it is a case of Seasonal Affective Disorder. I know to expect it, but somehow it always manages to ambush me in its annual manifestation in my life. Just when I think that I have managed to support myself through the drastic shifting so that I don't fall completely to pieces I find myself in a puddle of tears on the floor, wondering what hit me and why I can't seem to function properly, if at all. I hold myself gently, allow my soul mate to lift me up, and then look at the good things and move on.

With some of my friends it is much more drastic, with much longer lasting anguish for them and for those who love them. I wish I could go to them and hold them close and offer them all of the healing that I could possibly be able to offer them - teas, energy, and love. Instead, I watch from outside, knowing that until they admit that something is wrong all I can do is hold them in a space of love and tenderness, lifting up a light of love and prayer in the darkness, and hoping that they will grasp the hands of their friends who are waiting to help them through this darkness.

It seems that autumn has become more difficult for people in the last few years, though this year it is more dramatic than I have ever seen it. The friends around me severely affected by the season are showing signs of the effect going deeper, lasting longer, feeling even more hopeless than before. Others have remarked on strange, even hostile, energies in the air this year. Whatever your preferred method of spiritual and energetic protection, I urge you to engage in it even more mindfully than you have been. Whatever light you work with, call even more of it into the world to help counteract this trend.

Be safe!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

A New Challenge

Last night I took the plunge. I've seen it on blogs before and just ignored it, telling myself that I couldn't do it. So this year I'm going to try. What have I committed myself to? I signed up to participate in NaNoWriMo 2009. You can find out all about it here. Basically the premise is to write a 50,000 word novel from scratch during the month of November, which is National Novel Writing Month. Hence the name NaNoWriMo.

I'm sure I could do it if that was my sole focus, but to make things more complicated I will be spending much of November at my parents house assisting in creating wonderful baked goods for them to sell at the Marketplace at the Best Friends Holiday Home Tour in Point Loma. I'm sure that will have some influence on the development of the story, too!

So, I am looking at this as an experiment. I am determined to make it to the 50,000 word mark to be a winner in this thing, but even if I don't I will have tried something new. Perhaps this is nothing more than an invitation to a massive case of writer's block. Perhaps I will create something wonderful. Either way, I am excited to participate and see what happens.

One thing I am sure of is that I will not be doing much editing. As they say on their website, December is for editing. November is for getting the words on paper. I'll share a few excerpts here as I go and perhaps use my other blog, Wild Oak Chronicles, to share more.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Wishcasting Wednesday

Today's Wishcasting Question is:

What Treat do you Wish for?

I wish today for the treat of being gentle with myself. In my struggles with depressive episodes and other icky stuff I often forget to be gentle with myself and am often up against a cycle of negativity toward myself while lifting others up and out of the muck around us. I know it would be much easier to help and heal others if I weren't spending so much time beating myself up for not helping others as much as I would like to and know that I have the ability to. So my wish is for the treat of knowing and valuing healing myself as much as I value healing others.

To join other Wishcasters, visit Jamie Ridler at her studio...

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Changing Seasons

The wind is picking up, the sky is shades of grey, and the temperature has dropped dramatically since yesterday's clear blue skies.

We are supposed be getting the edge of an Alaskan cold front for the next few days and it is helping me get in the mood for Halloween. Samhain, if you prefer. All Hallows Eve. Followed by All Hallows (All Saints) and All Souls days. Dias de los Muertos.

In other words, the veil between the worlds is thinning at this time and we are preparing for visits from friends and loved ones who have passed on. It isn't that they can't visit or send messages to us at any time, but this time of year is especially potent for celebrating and communicating with them. In many cultures the dead are welcomed with feasts of their favorite foods, special lanterns set out to guide their way and make their path easier, and elaborate displays of photographs and mementos. Think of it as a giant family reunion if thinking about dead people scares you.

I look forward to the shifting energies of this season. The welcoming of those from the other side for a time of reunion, checking in and sharing messages. The turning inward to celebrate and give thanks for all of our blessings, whether we are happy about them or not. The further turning inward to experience the fallow season as we rest and prepare for the return of spring and the blossoming of seeds that have been planted and rested in this quiet time.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Gift Giving at the Cottage

Over at Simple, Green, Frugal Co-op today there is a post gathering Simple, Green and Frugal Christmas Gift Ideas. Since I've already started on our gifts for this year I thought I'd add my two cents to the gathering.

Over the last few years I have been leaning more and more towards gifts that will be useful and not end up gathering dust somewhere. We are presumably giving gifts to people we care about, so why should we give them something that they will never use and perhaps may not even want?

For most of our friends and associates we will be giving "goodie bags" consisting of homemade goodies that are consumable, whether it be cookies, candies, nuts, or other treats with homemade jam or marmalade and perhaps some hand-blended tea added as well.

For the really close people in our lives like parents, godparents, and (bonus) daughter I am making some kind of useful item such as a collection of scarves or an afghan. Something tangible but most definitely usable. These will complement our "goodie bags" for these people.

Several years ago I began a tradition of writing a personal "gift" to each of my loved ones each year, expressing a special prayer for the coming year. Very often when I sit down with a collection of special cards to do this I am not at all sure what I will be saying. I put on some quiet Christmas music, light a candle, wrap a blanket over my legs and meditate on each person before I begin writing. Letting my love for this person flow onto the paper creates a gift that has become a cherished tradition for those I share it with, even the younger ones who I was afraid wouldn't care!

What do you do for your holiday giving?

Friday, October 23, 2009

What are you the goddess of?

Goddess Leonie over at Goddess Guidebook and Goddess School asked the question a little while ago as part of a giveaway she was hosting, and while I answered it off the top of my head at the time it has not left me alone over the most recent days of clearing and organizing.

My first answer was to say that I am a goddess of healing and domesticity. In their own ways, that is a true answer, but it doesn't go far enough. It is too glib and surface-skimming.

I am a goddess of healing, but most specifically of natural healing. Helping the body and soul to work together for the greater good of all. I was born with a gift for energetic healing - I have often been told that I have "magic hands" - and working with herbs. I blended tisanes by instinct for many years, then took some herbal basics courses and learned that what I had been doing all along was correct. Since then I have been given my first level attunement in Reiki and I have reached level two training in Healing Touch, as well as taken several hours of massage training. Listening is a part of this gift, knowing how and where to direct the energy. Deep intuition and some level of listening to the guidance of higher powers than I are key to this.

I am a goddess of domesticity in a specific way, also. I can create an atmosphere of welcome and sacred space given some time and a few tools to work with. I cook well (perhaps it was all those afternoons spent making "soup" in my barbie pool with leftover herbs and other plants as a child!), and love to set a beautiful table. Hospitality is a gift I have been given. Serving others in a way that makes them feel valued and important. I also create art in a domestic setting - I crochet, knit, and sew. I use the term "fiber artist" rather loosely, but it still applies to what I do. Keeping an immaculately spotless house is not a gift or skill that I have been gifted with, though! My domesticity appears to be rather limited in that sense.

The most recent months since I lost my job have forced me to wander the woods and fields around the cottage, seeking my own most authentic life. I know that in moving forward I must honor these divine gifts that I have been given. I still am not entirely sure what that looks like, but I am trusting that there is a path set before me and a plan in Someone's heart for me and my highest good.

Here in the cottage I have been clearing the clutter a little at a time, uncovering and remembering my authentic self and all of the fears and worries that I have developed over many years that have kept it hidden. I have always been afraid of being who I seem to have been created to be. It is very powerful to carry the knowledge I carry within myself, and I am afraid of using that power. Of how it will get me labeled. How I have been labeled when I exercise my gifts. So now I sit here, the oaks sheltering my little wilderness are stirred by the autumn wind, and I am hearing the call to return to myself. To feel the fear and do it anyway. To embrace the titles of healer, artist, soul-lover. To open myself even more to explore the depth and breadth of my gifts and powers. To heal myself, first and foremost.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Wishcast Wednesday

Today's Wishcast Wednesday question is:

What do you wish to say yes to?

I wish to say yes to this new life that emerging, slowly, into being within me. This wonderful, delicate truth that has been within me all along and is raising it's wings like a butterfly after squeezing out of the chrysalis of failure and disappointment. This is beauty rising from pain, the little bit of Easter after the horrors of Good Friday. I wish to say yes to this beautiful, strange, familiarly unfamiliar terrain that I am traversing now after years of ignoring and hiding my gifts, stuffing away my power, shame at who and what I am, and humiliation at the hands of others who do not understand and are afraid of me and my truth.

Thank you for wishing with me and all of those who share their wishes today!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Yarny Fun

It seems early to some, but I have begun working on Christmas presents recently. It all started with a coolish day a few weeks ago, when I pulled out some yarn and began on a special afghan. Then I remembered a baby shower coming up in early November and that got me going. The blanket for the baby is finished and I have my patterns picked out for almost all of the rest of my Christmas projects.

I have to admit that it feels really good to have my fiber projects going again. Over the summer I focused on small cotton projects - sets of cleaning cloths and a few hair ties and kerchiefs. Of course, my list keeps growing of all of the crafts I would like to do around the house! A pillow or two for my living room chairs, finish a doily or two that I have been working on for what seems like forever...

Almost all of this is exclusively crochet, which is my strongest skill. I'd love to pick up the whole knitting thing again, too. I keep thinking about all of the beautiful sock patterns I've seen (though I've seen quite a few crocheted ones popping up) and how there is so much fun sock yarn out there just waiting for me. I've also admired the knitted sweaters with all of those fun cables and different laces that I haven't been able to reproduce in crochet. I guess this winter it will be time for me to focus on using two (or more) pointy sticks instead of one hook!

Perhaps this winter will also be the time I finally open my Etsy shop. I've been talking about it for almost a year now but have been afraid to take the plunge. Much of it is fear that people won't like my work, but I need to get it out there so that I can find out!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Wishcast Wednesday

What do you wish to let go?

I have a regular laundry list of things I wish to let go of, things that I have struggled with for so long it seems like I don't remember a time when I haven't been wrestling with them.

I wish to let go of this nagging feeling of never being "enough". Good enough, busy enough, enough like the "popular" or "successful" people all around me... the list of not being enough is long. The little feeling follows me around, even on good days, the way the lingering effects of a cold hang around. I'm working hard, being true to myself and who I was created to be, but I feel a bit of a shadow lurking.

I wish to let go of feeling like being myself is somehow "wrong". Just because my natural gifts, talents, and tastes are not exactly mainstream for the world in which I currently live I feel as if I can't talk about them or even admit to them. I'm tired of hiding. I'm tired of being afraid of myself and my potential.

So much big stuff to let go of, so many baby steps to take on the path to letting them go for good!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Grey Monday

This morning I am looking out my window at a low grey sky and hoping that there might be some truth to the prediction of showers over the next day or so. We have been living in drought conditions for the last couple of years, and I love the occasional years when our winters give us the gift of being a true "rainy season".

It is a time for turning inward; setting the house in order (a never-ending job it seems!), looking to the harvest and preparing for winter, and turning inward as a person. Winter has always been a season of introspection for me. Time to examine relationships that I may or may not have nourished as I should through the past year. Time to look at my relationship with myself, the one I am most intimate with and will be even more so as the indoor seasons are upon us.

So I look to the grey sky, hoping for that whisper of rain to begin the cleansing, nourishing cycle that blesses us more generously every few years that usual with its abundance and wait.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Wishcast Wednesday

Today is Wishcast Wednesday over at Jamie Ridler Studios. Today's wishcasting prompt:

What do you wish to complete?

On a basic level I wish to complete the projects I have going around the house to make it more of a home. This is important to me on several levels, but I keep running into a lack of physical energy to get it done and a whole lot of energetic resistance to doing the emotional work to get over the lack of physical motivation.

I wish to complete this portion of uncomfortable waiting in my life while I do the work to close the doors to the recent past and prepare for the future that is waiting for me. I think I see where the next step is, but I am not ready for it yet. I am firming the foundation for what will be built next.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Monday Routine

There is a definite nip in the air this morning as I sit sipping my hot cocoa (usually tea, but I wanted to celebrate the first really autumnal morning with something special!) with a dog wrapped like a burrito in his blanket at my side. The Monday busy-ness has begun with laundry going; trash, recycle, and greens trucks roaring through the neighborhood; and above it all, birdsong. I am grateful for the reminder that this world goes on after a weekend, as my own home world is quieter with my husband at work.

I find the Monday routine comforting: wake up, take the trash and recycle out, sort and start laundry, try to find the kitchen again after my husband has been in it over the weekend, look ahead at what I need to try to work on this week. Sometimes I wonder if I will ever really get a handle on my house or if it will forever fight me and being neat and organized. It amazes me how, over two days, everything that it has taken me a week to put away is now spread from one end of the house to another, plus some additional stuff. No wonder I get down about it!

I am going to put on some pleasant music, start folding laundry, and dream of a house that doesn't take a week to semi-clean. Perhaps this time it will come true.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Wishcast Wednesday

Today's Wishcast Wednesday question is What do you wish to share?

I wish to share the deep peace that comes from knowing that you belong somewhere, and that that somewhere loves and supports you in every way. Everyone needs a place of their own where they go to heal from life's daily events and from the bigger stuff that happens. A place to experience the soul-deep comfort of being exactly who they were meant to be with no judgements, masks, rules, shouldn'ts, or put-downs. A spirit home. A healing sanctuary.

I may not have it yet, but I am getting there, and I want to share the joy of knowing that there is that kind of belonging out there somewhere for each of us. My calling at this moment is to seek out and create my place so that I can help others find theirs.

If you would like to know more about Wishcast Wednesday or to join in, visit Jamie Ridler Studios.

Friday, September 25, 2009

A Visit from Ms. CrankyPants

Somewhere between blissfully nourishing my plants this morning as the sun rose and checking the water level in the humidifier as the heat outside increased Ms. CrankyPants moved in. I didn't see her coming until she embraced me with her whining and sense of utter frustration. Nothing sounds interesting, I don't want to do that, or that, or that... or go out, it's too hot to do that, I don't want to eat that (never mind that eating anything at this point might make her go away). I am left with a vague sense of irritability and a general feeling that a childish temper tantrum is imminent along with dissatisfaction with life as a whole that makes me quite unpleasant company, even for myself. So I am going to take Ms. CrankyPants on a field trip. Drag her out of the house, put her in the (admittedly hot) car, and go somewhere. Perhaps I will treat her to a Caffeine Free Diet Soda and distract her while I try to lose her out there in the world. I certainly don't like her here in my house! Of course, that may be because with her here the walls feel as if they are closing in on me and I just have to escape even if I don't really want to go out into the heat and unpleasantness of the weather today (one of her excuses for being cranky is the heat...).

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Wishcast Wednesday

Today is Wishcast Wednesday over at Jamie Ridler Studios... and the question is What Luxury do I Wish for?

I wish for the luxury of being confident in my gifts and the direction in which my inner guides are leading me. I long for the luxury of not being afraid of what others will think if I am truly myself. I seek the luxury of standing solidly in my soul and not hiding the truth of who I am.

Most of the time I am afraid to talk about the things that fascinate me, light me up, set me on fire because so often I am greeted with blank stares and swift changes of subjects. Occasionally I have let things slip in "wrong" company and been informed that I am under the influence of "evil" and to "repent" of my "wicked" ways. So for a long time I have tried to bury my gifts: energetic healing, creating sacred space, supporting others so that God/Spirit/Universe/Energy (whatever they choose to believe in) can make them as whole as they will allow themselves to be.

I wish to not hide anymore. I wish to not be afraid to be my most authentic self.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Home Spirit

In my commitment to cleaning the house I am rediscovering a connection that I had long ignored. I am meeting the soul of our home as if for the first time - discovering that this home has a gentle and loving spirit of it's own. In some ways it is distracting, because it makes me feel as if I need to do it all at once since I have neglected it for so long. However, we are coming to an agreement that I will only do what I can and keep working at it to bring our spirits into an alliance instead of being at odds with one another.

We are still in the lurking stages; the feeling that someone besides myself is thrilled to clean and unclutter and reorganize the areas I work on. The feeling that someone else (and no, I don't mean my husband or mom) is breathing a sigh of relief as I try to return order from chaos. Knowing that some things are happening faster than I can do on my own; that ideas are coming from outside of myself to try things that I otherwise would never have thought of.

I realized that this must be the spirit of our house (or at least the resident spirits) after reading a book I picked up at the Library called Spirit of the Home by Jane Alexander. Some parts of the book seem a little out there at first, but it all makes sense on a deeper level for me. Perhaps I will be able to write about this journey to befriend my house as I go on.

Monday, September 14, 2009

How Much Tea Can One Person Drink?

Does anybody realize how much tea a tea drinker can have tucked away in various cupboards?

A few days ago I went and cleaned out my tea cupboard to put everything in tins so that I can find them more easily. I was amazed. I suppose that it complicates things that I also blend my own teas, and so have little bits and bags of that around as well. I now have a lovely bamboo box filled with bags of my own blends and a tray containing at least ten tins of various teas that I have, at one time or another, carefully chosen to add to my stash. Not to mention a small box of single teabags of varieties I have wanted to sample. Much of it had been forgotten, lost on a shelf behind other spices and cooking needs and I was only thinking about a small amount of what I had. This opens up the cupboard for things that need to be stored together and also creates a beautiful array of different teas that are easily looked over to find just the right flavor for each moment.

Tea party anyone?

Seeking Balance

I've been dodging lately. Obsessing, perhaps.

I avoid my computer to get started on home projects and just don't manage to make time to write. Somehow this is supposed to make me feel better, working exclusively on my nesting. In reality it is creating some imbalance in my life - I miss writing as a way to help me process what is going on in my life or environment.

This is becoming especially important as I make changes in my home environment to improve the way the energy moves and how "at home" we feel here. I've been researching feng shui with my mom, and while it feels great to be studying something, however informally, I am missing the processing piece.

So I am back to trying to find a regular schedule for writing here and in my private journal. Seeking balance in all things.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Love of a Cat

He crawls into my lap when I sit down, his presence announced by the prickle of claws through whatever I am wearing. It takes a while to settle in and he will turn himself around once or twice before deciding to see if I will let him rest in his favorite spot. Slowly he snakes himself up my torso, purring, until his front paws reach my shoulder. If my shirt is thick enough I barely notice that his claws are holding onto my shoulder as he finds his happy place. Sometimes I have to rearrange those little needles so they don't hurt quite so much, but unless I am busy I will let him stay for a while. With his haunches in my lap and the rest of him spread across my upper body he sleeps and purrs. It makes me think of a small child - that look of supreme contentedness on his face as he sprawls across me, sleeping.

Soon, my feet are falling asleep or I need to reach for something or I move for some other reason and he awakens. His first effort is to dig in the claws and not be dislodged. If that won't work (it doesn't very often since I prefer not to be completely perforated with claw marks) he will shift to my lap before giving me a disgusted look and settling elsewhere for his nap.

I admire the trust my cat places in me, and I am reminded that it is the kind of trust I need to place in God at all times. I am dislodged from my comfort zone, moved into a place I might even resent, but I will always return to the heart of my heavenly father where I am held in loving arms and comforted. I may want to punish God for moving me, for placing me in situations where I am uncomfortable, awkward, and unhappy, but in the end I know where I am safest and happiest.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Shifting Sands

It has been searingly hot and dry for the past week or so, peaking around 109 on a regular basis. It makes getting a whole lot done rather difficult, as I can only work for a little while before I am forced to stop for water and to sit to regain my equilibrium. Mom came Thursday and Friday (even she thought it was hot, which is funny because she is always cold!) and has inspired a whole lot of moving and shaking around here. Fresh eyes and a fresh perspective on my issues. We are full of ideas and thoughts about what to move and how to maximize the storage I do have and how to make the best of awkward rooms, but until today it has been too hot to do much about it.

A fog bank is descending into our little valley - pretty uncommon here in the dry foothills, even if it is a regular occurrence just a few miles away at the coast. I love watching the tendrils of fog sneak past, as if bent on a secret mission. It may not become a full-blown London style fog, but even this much moisture is a blessing. The coolness it brings renews energy and drive. I am ready to do more moving and shaking.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

A Visitor

I am finally realizing how much I have let slide in my home and for how long. It can be a bit discouraging, really, when I step back and look at what I have neglected and what it means that I have to do to "fix" it.

Today my mother is coming to my house to brainstorm with me. I still have a ton of basic clean up to do (just letting her come over today is difficult, since I don't want anyone to see the state of things...) but we are hoping that getting some ideas down of where I want the house to go in terms of decor will help me stay motivated through the tough parts. She has also developed a fascination with Feng Shui, and it seems to help her not only stay motivated with the picking up (not that she really had a problem with that to begin with) but also helps her to see the positive things that happen more easily.

I just hope that she can help me to see through the boxes that have been on my floor for months while I have been too depressed (and too overwhelmed by the mess!) to take care of putting them away.

One of the things I am hoping that she can help me with is creative storage ideas. Our house came with a lot of things, but storage space wasn't one of them. I keep running into this as I work on picking up and putting things away. There is a reason I haven't kept up with it so well - there doesn't seem to be anywhere to put it! So the boxes stay on my living room and kitchen floors, the computer stuff proliferates across the guest bed in the office, on top of the crochet projects that I finally have a place to store but now can't seem to get to. I'm guessing that I'll be looking for some large baskets and other dual-purpose furniture as I go along to help with the storage stuff. Not to mention even more decluttering!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Birthday Thoughts

The morning is quietly full of birdsong and the sun is rising strong, though it will still be pleasant for another hour or so. My flowers and seedlings are thriving in the long angles of morning sunlight, reaching for the sky in their many ways.

This seems to be a morning for reflection. Especially since yesterday was spent with my nose in a book! For my birthday this past weekend my parents gave me a beautifully bound book that contained both Wicked and Son of a Witch. I finished it last night. Yes, I read quickly. Yes, I enjoyed it thoroughly. But reading and immersing oneself in a world outside of one's own does not generally make much time for appreciating the everyday world around you.

Another year older (but I can't really tell) and another year wiser. I have no grand ideas this birthday about what the future will hold for me. I have no grand plans to go overseas, get married (I'm quite happy with my husband... and don't really want that stress again!), or anything else unusual. My plans for this new year in my life are to relish the simple pleasures, rediscover who I am and what makes me happy, and to live into the truth of what I learn about myself and my family.

I am looking forward to this simpler journey. I have wonderful companions on the trail with me and a heartfelt desire to be as true to myself as I am to them.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Dust and Reminders

I sometimes forget how wonderful it is to work with someone on a project. I have loner tendencies, exacerbated by a sort of perfectionism and a perverse need to say that "I did it all by myself" that can undermine my efforts at teamwork. Helping my mom this week with her projects has been a reminder to me that I don't always have to do it all by myself.

It is a lesson I am slowly learning in my marriage as well. I still love the sense of accomplishment that comes from completing a challenging (to me) project. But I am not weak or wrong to ask for or admit that I need help. This is a major lesson for me, especially as I am dealing with my ongoing depression. I don't have to face the isolation alone. I have my amazing, loving, supportive, awesome, encouraging husband at my side and my parents and friends a phone call away when I am trapped in my downward spiral or the bottom of the pit that I wake up in. I am not alone.

God, of course, is always with me. In that sense I am never alone. God has given me these people, this family, to embrace me with human arms when God's spiritual arms aren't physical enough to keep the darkness at bay. I also forget to look. I can't always find God when I am in the midst of the darkness, and I wander in a barren land wondering where He is. So He comes to me in the faces and arms of my family.

So much to learn from a few days of dusting and running errands with my mom. So many blessings showering down on us.

Monday, August 17, 2009


I received an early birthday present yesterday, and accompanied by my family and some friends we went to see Wicked. It was a fabulous show with some really thought provoking themes running through it. One of which is watching Elphaba, who becomes the Wicked Witch of the West, blossom into her own.

It made me think of the feeling I have had recently watching my seeds sprout on my windowsill as I prepare for the fall planting season. Kale, Brussels Sprouts, Fennel, Marigolds, all are sending up tiny little seedlings in the plastic sprouting tray holding small peat pots that will be planted with the seedlings to nourish them. This feeling is one of coming home, doing what is right for my soul in this season.

I am busy this week helping my mom to clean and beautify her house - a little bit like my childhood summer mornings. It is a gift for me to share my renewed energy with her, the energy that is blossoming as I clean and recover my own home from the chaos it had fallen into. Of course, hers is more of a routine neaten up than mine has been and will continue to be for a while yet.

I am finding both comfort and expansion in my domestic endeavors. Putting down roots and sending up leaves to the heavens. Defying gravity, as Wicked says.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Midnight Laughter

I was awakened around midnight last night by a sound that has been absent from our hills for a long time. We heard it often our first year in the house, but for about a year it seems to have been missing. Then I sat upright in my bed, my heart pounding with joy and dread, sometime just before midnight. It was quite close, perhaps a block or so away unless the echo was magnified by the nearby houses. I contemplated putting some outside clothes on and stepping onto the porch, but settled for laying back down and letting the sound wash over me through the open windows.

The coyotes are back. Their bark sounds a bit like rather maniacal laughter, and in the clarity of the darkness I could understand how coyote got a reputation among the indigenous peoples as a trickster. It sounded like several of them gathered and were calling across the hills to the rest of the pack to join them. I wondered what kind of pranks they were plotting in their midst as they cackled amongst themselves in the deep darkness.

So many people consider them nuisance animals, the same way they view wolves. They are good for nothing but ruining ranchers livelihoods. To me they are an important part of the ecosystem, managing rodents and other populations of small animals that could potentially cause issues by over stressing their various food sources. When coyotes are around and I hear their crazy laughing bark in our dry hills I know that there is balance in our habitat. When they are conspicuously absent and the hills are unusually silent I am aware that all is not right in our world, and I worry.

Laugh on, brother coyote, laugh on.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Cleaning Continued... Part 2?

What is it about cleaning house that seems to clean up those mental cobwebs and "stuff"? I've been at it non-stop for almost a week: deep cleaning a bit at a time, sorting, separating, rearranging, all kinds of stuff. I've started the seeds for my cool-weather crops (kale, brussels sprouts.... ) and am in the midst of several different jams and marmalades. I have more energy than I have had in months and I'm excited to get the day started every day.

Perhaps it is clearing all of that old stuff out, the way my mom is always talking about energy flowing with feng shui. Perhaps it is simply the physical activity after a sedentary job and the wide-open possibility of this time of transition. Perhaps it is the time to really learn about what my body and soul need to stay healthy. Whatever it is, I am feeling better than I have in a very long time.

I can't say that my house is finally perfect, or even close to the way I ultimately want my nest to be. But I can say that I am inspired to keep working at it. My biggest obstacle today is finding a non-chemical deodorizer/air freshener. Just below the bathroom window was ground zero for a skunk last night and it was enough to make my eyes burn! Any suggestions are welcome... I'm spending my computer time doing research today!

Monday, August 10, 2009

My Summer Vacation?

I've been absent from my computer recently. It really doesn't have much to do with my relationship with the computer. It has to do with the sudden, intense, deep excavation I have felt the need to perform on my home. I've been contemplating this for a while. I've even talked about my tentative beginnings here in the last months. Last week I finally dove in. Friday afternoon I was able to sit at my dining room table for lunch for the first time in (I'm ashamed to admit this) at least three months. Saturday and Sunday my little family enjoyed our meals at a real table instead of on our laps. This has inspired me enough to tackle part of the living room and kitchen areas today.

Okay, this is my house, but even I am revolted by the state of things that I am discovering. Ick. I hadn't realized just how much of what I can only call guck has been hanging out here in my little cottage for way too long now. It feels great to be cleaning it up and making a true home sanctuary here. I'm even getting excited to rediscover just how revolting the faux tile of my kitchen counters really is. Which I consider a sad statement of the reality of the way my mind has been (non)functioning in the clouds of an unacknowledged and untreated depression for many months.

Summer has always been associated with deep cleaning for me. My mother was a teacher (now retired) and so that was the time when we would wake up, eat breakfast, and start taking down everything on a wall or out of a cupboard, washing it, telling stories about it - where and who it came from, what memories are associated with it - and putting it all away again. Those summer mornings with my mom meant a lot to me, even though at the time I thought it was a drag and would do my best to escape from cleaning detail. Once we finished the assigned cleaning for the day we would go to Sea World, or as I got older, the beach or a local swimming pool for more traditional summer fun. Looking back, I treasure the stories and the way those mornings cleaning helped to form the wonderful bond my mom and I now share even more than the afternoons of fun ever did.

Summer is the time to set up the ability to keep your nest clean for the rest of the year. With my mom's need for a neat, clean, tidy home the deep summer clean was essential. I find that with all of my windows open, music playing loud enough to be heard over the dishwasher, washer and dryer and a soapy sponge in hand my mind is clearing even as my kitchen counters are clearing. Perhaps a little bit of Brother Lawrence in me - he believed that all work was spiritual in nature and is often quoted as saying that he could worship God just as well among the pots and pans as he could in chapel. My mom is just a phone call away for support, and I am praying my way through the clouds of depression in a way that is reminding me of God's everlasting embrace in ways that I never imagined. Healing is here. Home is here. God is here.

I am coming home in more ways than one, and my little cottage is turning into a sweet little nest and sanctuary in a way that it has never been.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Close Encounters

In the midst of this stressful season in my life I do have my light moments. This past weekend my husband and I spontaneously packed up a picnic dinner and headed out to the coast to watch the fireworks that happen nightly all summer at one of the local attractions. We parked in the parking lot of a park across the water from where the fireworks are set off and took some time to wander around the shoreline as the sun finished setting. We spent the next hour or so as the sky continued to darken watching the fishermen around us, the lights pass around us from cars on various roads that we could see, and the boats coming in from a busy day on the water. Slowly I began to unwind. My mind was running around just a touch slower and I could breathe again.

A little while before the fireworks began I looked down at the boulders at my feet that sloped down into the water and was startled to see a beady pair of eyes staring back at me. Bigger than a mouse, though I did see one of those later, too. These were larger than I would have expected, black and deep, just a foot or so away from my toes. I looked again in the weak light of the parking lot lights and realized that they were a part of a pale, pointed face, a grey or blackish body, and a long, flexible, naked tail. Yup. This was a genuine opossum encounter. He (I didn't check, but just sort of labeled it a him) investigated around the rocks and found some leftover bait to chew on for a while. We tossed a few lumps of bread leftover from our dinner to him and admired his very sharp little teeth and cute paws from where we sat. I was rather entranced by the whole thing once I relaxed about having something with a large quantity of sharp teeth within reaching distance of my toes in their sandals. I kept watching him hunt for his supper (breakfast?) until the booming of the fireworks sent him back to his nest and safety.

The fireworks were beautiful, but I remember the possum and that encounter more from that night!

I am sharing this post through Tuesdays Unwrapped at Chatting at the Sky. Check it out for more inspiring stories of special moments in the midst of the ordinary.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Garden Update

I haven't mentioned my herbs much lately. Or my garden. Mostly because I didn't do much with them early enough in the year - I've got a pair of heirloom tomatoes that are unhappy in the heat and some pretty standard herbs. Something keeps trying to devour my lemon balm and I may have to give up on keeping a plant going this year if I can't figure out what it is, but my lemon verbena seems to be doing fairly well. The peppermint is doing well, but the spearmint is not. Basil and sage are thriving, but the oregano is struggling again this year. I also devoted some pots to flowers that would feed and draw hummingbirds, of which the petunia is doing well but the verbena won't blossom (I suspect the same kind of critters eating on it as on the lemon balm) and the phlox seems to be toast.

Hopefully I will be able to do some more research this winter into what will grow here in the heat and sun and will not turn out to be sadly needing shade in this extremely sunny yard. I suppose that with the way the house reflects heat it cooks anything near it, and there is really no way to create shade. In the meantime I am glad that I have several reliable sources of dried herbs for the things I enjoy using!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Where am I?

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?
-Mary Oliver
This quote returns to me again and again, most often when I am in a transitional stage of my life. It was first given to me when I was a part of the Micah Project, a year-long time set apart for discernment as part of an intentional Christian community. It was a remarkable and dramatic year for me, with one of my mentors remarking that I had done seven years of growing and developing in the space of one. I returned from Micah a changed person.
I am entering a new stage... actually a new stage in my life is finally catching up with me. With the loss of my job I am set free to explore what it means to me, in this time, to be a wife with a house to care for and a bonus daughter who visits often. All of these are new things for me, and so I ponder where God is leading me to be. What is it God is asking me to do with my one wild and precious life?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A Special Gift Given

Monday was my mother's birthday. Not a major milestone number, but a special day nonetheless. So I had a special gift to share with her, and her delight was so much fun!

About a year ago I received an email asking for submissions to a new collection of prayers from women across the Anglican Communion. It was to be a follow up book to Uncommon Prayers and would be called Lifting Women's Voices: Prayers to Change the World. The submissions were to be focused on one of the eight Millennium Development Goals from the United Nations.

I wasn't sure I could do this - I hadn't written freely in a long time. I used to journal daily and often scribbled out poetry and short vignettes, but had let the practice go. But I love to write and this was just the challenge I needed to encourage me to sit down with my pen and paper again. I looked at the MDGs and struggled with what I could contribute. I wrote, crossed out, wrote some more, and wanted to scream in frustration. I had forgotten how hard it is to write something that my own self-critical eye would allow anyone else to see.

Then, one day, it happened. My then-future-husband and I decided to take his daughter to Green Valley Falls in Cuyamaca Rancho State Park to play in the waterfalls. We drove through what used to be a campground to the parking area, all the while marveling at the trees and environment in general struggling to come back from the devastation of the Cedar Fire in 2004. The Cedar fire is considered one of the worst human-caused wildfire in the history of the state of California and devastated a large swath of Southern California. The Green Valley Falls campground has been closed since the fire and will remain unusable until the environment can show significant enough stabilization to allow for consistent "residential" use again. Until then, it is a wonderful day trip from San Diego.

We parked and hiked the short trail to the falls, eating a picnic lunch overlooking one of the larger drops through the rocky canyon before making our way to the shallower end of the falls and wading into the water that felt icy in the summer afternoon heat. After a wonderful scramble over the rocks and through the pools and falls I retired to a quiet spot under some trees just upstream from where several families were frolicking in the water. There, I reflected on the wonders that God was working in the recovery of the fire-burned areas all around me and how it reflected in my own struggles with wedding planning, establishing a household, learning what it meant to be a stepmother, and the continual renewal of life. I wrote, and what I wrote spoke to me. So, with my husband's encouragement I submitted it. I didn't think much more about it - pretty sure that it would not be accepted as it didn't speak about the empowerment of women or the eradication of poverty or any other direct link to the MDGs. But it was accepted.

Just this summer Lifting Women's Voices was published. I didn't tell my mom, but ordered her a copy for her birthday. It arrived on my doorstep the same day we went to General Convention, and had seen it displayed in the Church Publishing booth in the exhibition hall. In fact, one of the editors, Abagail Nelson, was the preacher at the daily Eucharist that day.

Yesterday, I watched mom open this small gift to discover my poem (for those interested it starts on page 243 and ends on page 244) and the joyful surprise on her face when she realized the author of that particular prayer.

It was a good day.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Taking out the Trash

I wilt in the heat, watching the thermometer climb toward it's peak. I find that lethargy marks my days now; I wake up in a rush to get things done before the heat of the day begins to sap my energy and my mind slows to match the humid haze growing to the east over the mountains.

I have my goals for cleaning but struggle to cram them in as early as possible now. Today it is to carry the same momentum that has helped me to recover the kitchen island counter top from clutter to at least one other area - I hope either the dining room table or the raised bar on two sides of the island. This recovery of my home from the invasion of clutter, crud, and corruption that has taken over has given my days purpose recently and I am thankful. I never thought I'd be thankful for the very same clutter that has been driving me out of my mind for these past many months, but having a purpose and daily "job" has been a gift as I am adrift and trying to find my compass.

As I clear out the clutter and junk the trash I am forced to focus my mind on what is truly important. I don't want to waste precious storage space on something that is not useful, helpful, or does not mean something so deep that it would be painful to not have it in our lives. So it is with my heart and mind. I am sorting through old perceptions and roles I have played, finding which ones are truly a part of me at my core and what I have created in order to fit in somewhere that I don't really belong. It is a comfort to take out an old idea or belief and be able to say that it does not belong to me at all and is safe to discard or to realize that it is a firm part of the foundation of my being and to tuck it safely away in my heart where it will continue to give me strength. With each bag of trash I dump in our trashcan and with each box I fill up of things to donate to various causes I am lightening my soul's load as well, stripping myself down to what matters most and moving forward from there.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Thoughts on General Convention

The Episcopal Church Welcomes You... it was an unusually large sign, that peculiar combination of sky and periwinkle blue, hanging above the entrance to the Anaheim Convention Center as our bus pulled up. I got off, a bit stiff from the drive, and my mom and I walked into the main hall to register. In a few moments we had our name tags and a handful of information that we needed to sort out and we headed upstairs to visit the House of Bishops. There was a rather genteel sense of decorum in the ballroom populated by people wearing that peculiar shade of purple bishops seem to love, with a calm and serene manner reminiscent of a convocation of elders somewhere. On the other hand, when we visited the House of Deputies on the main floor of the convention center I had a feeling of brashness and an in-your-face chaos. I suppose that had much to do with the harsher lighting, cement flooring, larger room, and strangely decorated tables representing each diocese. I know that I was much more impressed with the collegiality expressed in the house of bishops, but I suppose some of that was due to the way the bishops were seated.

In due time the houses recessed to attend the mid-day Eucharist. I was fortunate to arrive in time to be able to be a Chalice for one of the stations on the floor. It wasn't until I was in my station after the Peace that I realized just how big this "chapel" was. I don't know how many people were there, but I found that from my position on the edge of the crowd the dais where the altar resided looked to be a few inches wide, with the people on it as over sized ants. The music was beautiful, the sermon inspiring, and in an ecstatic state I was able to participate in the Rite I worship of my childhood without needing to read the program for anything but the music! My spirit soared as I stood in the assembly blessing and being blessed by the magnificent language the lifts me above the mundane and reminds me of when my faith was so much simpler and more direct.

Lunch followed the Eucharist and then an afternoon of wandering around the various exhibits. First, we looked in at the National Altar Guild's display of liturgical art - including vestments and paraments. The stitching and stories on these beautiful works was amazing. Then, when we realized that the bishops were in a closed meeting, we went to wander the exhibition hall. I was overwhelmed by all of the various groups represented. Some seemed to be out of place in this hall, and it showed in the way they spoke to us. I was particularly taken aback to be asked, when mom recognized a publication often on display in a parish that abandoned the church, "then what are you doing here?" by a representative of the American Anglican Council who obviously thought that because we knew enough about a departed church that we should have gone with it. Other groups were much kinder and more enthusiastic about the fact that all of us, as a church, had gathered together to do the work set in front of us.

By the time we left that afternoon I had experienced some highs and lows in the midst of the congregation. I am still reeling today and most likely will continue to sort out my responses to this event for a while. One thing is certain, however: I was able to connect with new resources and information and to renew connections with old friends.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Church Happenings and Poetry Teas

For someone who is feeling deeply ambivalent about organized religion - especially politically charged denominations of the Christian Variety - I am doing an awful lot that is involved with them.

For starters, this past Sunday my mother and I were invited to take part in a Poetry Tea hosted by the Christian Education committee of a local Presbyterian Church where several friends attend. Our joint contribution was originally going to be only the centerpiece, but after the challenge of sixteen or so centerpieces for my wedding last September we felt rather an anticlimax once this one was planned out so we went whole hog and did the china place settings, flowers, and some sweets as well.

Since this was a tea based around people getting together to recite poetry we looked through all of our old books and came up with two beauties, which we accented with a beeswax candle in a silver holder, my Great-Great-Grammie Webster's silver teapot, a crystal bud vase from the last local crystal producer to the area my family is from, a teacup from my wedding china, an antique ink bottle and silver dip pen.

At each place setting (we chose to use my wedding china because it matched the blue and brown color scheme suggested by the books) we decorated the napkin with a rose, blue statice, and some gypsophilia.

My mother also provided some gingerbread petit fours and sugar cookie bookmarks while I offered shortbread made from my grandmother's recipe using lavender sugar.

As if this lovely afternoon wasn't enough of being up to my eyeballs in church, Tuesday I am going with my mother and others from around the diocese on a bus trip to the General Convention for the Episcopal Church.

I am hoping to run into some friends from my past endeavors - I was blessed to be a part of the Cathedral staff in Boston the year Bishop Barbara Harris retired and Bishop Gayle Harris was consecrated. It was a truly amazing experience for this girl who, at the time, didn't even know that we had women bishops and was still in a church where the rector referred to female clergy as "women in priest's clothing". You can't tell me there isn't a world of difference between the East and West coast churches! I hope to share some of my experiences when I return.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Today is Tuesday

Like an archaeologist I uncover layers of meaning. Unfortunately this is not some mysterious dig out in the desert, uncovering ancient artifacts. This is me, making my first tentative steps toward rediscovering my house. Today I decided to tackle part of a kitchen counter and was horrified to discover the well preserved memories of leftover decorating frosting from the sugar cookies we made at Christmas. Still in their tightly capped tubes they rested on a neatly folded paper towel in a dish. I am almost afraid to touch them, these colorful tubes of sugar, color, and preservatives. I do not wish to know if they are still soft and pliable or if they have petrified in their plastic cases, but I need to do something with them. I know that they belong in the trash bag I am holding in one hand, but there is a fear in letting go of something that is only half-used.

I take a deep breath and reach instead for my journal, setting aside the concerns of whether or not to throw the tubes of frosting in the trash. This is one of those moments I have been expecting - knowing that as I excavate the layers of physical clutter all around me I will be excavating ever deeper into my heart and uncovering clues to the truths that hide there. I married in September of last year and since then I have let the house accumulate layers of clutter as I try to define who I have become as I joined my life to my beloved. More has changed than simply my name and I have not embraced that change gracefully.

I do know that my surroundings echo my inner state of being, and it frightens me to look around at all of the unfinished projects and clutter that surrounds me. I find myself with long stretches of time now to deal with this accumulation of clues that I did not want to see the first time. I am re-learning myself one small piece at a time.

Today, in those four half-empty tubes of frosting from Christmas I rediscovered a part of my grandmother and the lessons I absorbed from her frugality and make-it-stretch mentality. But I am still going to throw away those tubes of frosting.

More Tuesdays Unwrapped are over at http://www.chattingatthesky.com/

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy Fourth of July!

Happy Independence Day!
It started early for those of us at the cottage with a picnic supper at a bay side park and watching two different early fireworks displays. It was a wonderful evening and we are all looking forward to repeating the annual pilgrimage to Ivy Hill to watch the city's fireworks over the harbor tonight. Last year we counted something like 16 different displays from our vantage point!
We will be sharing grilled tri-tip marinated in chimichurri, beautiful fresh white corn from the farmer's market yesterday, grilled onions, homemade potato salad, apple pie, and (if all goes well) homemade cinnamon ice cream. It sure sounds like a lot of food, but we'll manage. We always do and it is always a wonderful evening full of family and fun.
It is also a time when we remember our veterans and those still serving our country. This is, and has been, a military town and we are proud of our men and women in service. Thank God for those who are willing to put their lives on the line for the rest of us when duty calls for it.
Have a wonderful day and enjoy whatever celebrations you are part of!