Wild Rice Pilaf + Sage Pesto Recipes

So, for the pervy-queer Thanksgiving Potluck, I roasted a turkey (also: my gravy brings all the pervs to the yard, I’m just saying) and made the following vegan dish that is (a) delicious, and (b) does not contain gluten or soy or nuts (though adding walnuts or pecans or even toasted Himalayan Balsam seeds would be an excellent addition) but DOES (c) contain white beans, so it’s definitely not Paleo, but can be made so very, very easily (drop the beans and add a bunch of nuts and/or extra seeds, basically).
Wild Rice Pilaf
1 C raw wild rice
4 C water
Pinch salt
2 C cooked white kidney beans or other white beans such as Great Northern (I just used 1 tin of same, drained & very well rinsed, but feel free to cook your own)
1/2 C cider vinegar
3 C diced butternut squash (I used pre-diced stuff from the store, but you do you)
2-3 sprigs fresh sage, shredded (or used the dried stuff, as you will)
2 apples (Cortland recommended, but I used McIntosh and it was just dandy)
1/4 C dried cranberries (sweetened)
1/4 C pumpkin seeds
1 tbsp prepared grainy mustard
1 tsp ground nutmeg (note: if you are going for Super Local, and have these available, you can use dried, ground spice berries in place of the nutmeg. The flavour (in theory – I haven’t tried this yet) is a combination of nutmeg and black pepper and should work well in this dish).
1) In the bottom of a double boiler combine the wild rice, water, and salt. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low. Allow to cook for upwards of an hour.
2) In the top of the double boiler, while the wild rice is cooking, combine the diced squash and the sage. Allow to steam for 20-30 minutes. Squash should be easily pierced with a fork, but not straight-up falling apart.
3) While the squash is steaming and the wild rice is cooking, in a large (1 gallon would make this very easy) bowl or casserole dish combine the cooked white beans and the cider vinegar.
4) Core and dice the apples and add to the bean mixture
5) Add the dried cranberries and pumpkin seeds and toss it all together like a salad
6) Add the cooked squash and sage, as well as the mustard and nutmeg. Toss again then cover with a plate or the lid of the casserole dish.
7) When the wild rice is done, add it to the mixture in the large bowl and toss until well-combined. The whole thing should smell gloriously of nutmeg and mustard and apples and all the other good things that are in it.
8) Serve hot (ideally) OR chilled.
This dish works as both a main and a side.
It goes well with chokecherry chutney and sage pesto (below), too.😉
NOTE: If you want to fancy it up a little:
Leave the squash out (I do still recommend cooking the fresh sage, though) and, instead, bake delecata, sweet-baby, or other miniature squash halves in the oven for an hour while the wild rice is cooking. (When I do this, I splosh a quarter-cup of apple juice into each of the squash cavities so that the flesh is tender and easy to scoop when they’re done). Stuff the squash halves with the wild rice mixture and serve garnished with sprigs of fresh sage. If you wanted to do this as a fancy center-piece dish, I would suggest using something like a cupcake tower to display the stuffed squash halves before plating them at the table.
Sage Pesto
4C fresh sage
1 C pumpkin seeds
4 cloves garlic
¼ C nutritional yeast
½ C cooked white kidney beans OR cooked green lentils
¼ C apple cider vinegar
Pinch ground ginger
Pinch salt
Grind black pepper
¼ C oil
1) Pulse the pumpkin seeds in a food processor until they are grainy but well-smashed (this takes waaaaaay less time than making pumpkinseed butter, fyi)
2) Add the sage, cooked lentils, garlic, vinegar, salt, and pepper
3) Blend until well-combined
4) With the motor running, drizzle in the oil
5) Spoon into ice-cube trays for freezing (works great) and/or pop some into a half-cup jar for fridge storage (I don’t know how long this will stay fresh, as I keep mine in the freezer to use as-needed, but if you want to serve it with stuffed squash, for example, within a day or two, this is an easy way to do it).
This stuff is lovely-and-delicious as the “sauce” for a pasta dish, mixed into scrambled eggs, spread (lightly) onto a chicken/turkey/roast-pork sandwich, blended into a bean dip/spread, stirred into root-veggies blender soups (rutabaga-cauliflower or carrot-apple would both be amazing with this), or, y’know, used as a condiment/topping/garnish for baked miniature winter squash stuffed with wild rice pilaf.

Full Moon – Squash Moon Crests

It’s Saturday night and the moon is round. Most of my friends in Toronto are getting their velvet chokers on to watch the Drunk Feminist Films showing of The Craft (and I’m following it on twitter because, in spite of not having watched it in my teens, I still rather adore that movie and the general (and generally gothic) aesthetic of 1990s teen witchcraft).
The jerusalem artichokes are flowering, the squash (all two of them) are in, and I’ve bought four pie pumpkins with-which to make pumpkin butter. I am waiting for the as-yet-to-materialize (I don’t mind) frost to arrive. My wife and I have spent most of the day loafing around and just had late-night (for us) grilled cheese + tomato soup dinner. It’s a weird mix of “we have not gotten nearly enough done” and “oh, thank fuck” over here.
I’m having a serious surface-area problem in my kitchen. Most of the counter is covered in pumpkins and small appliances (and dirty dishes, but they are not a huge percentage of the stuff, unexpectedly), and my shelves are overflowing with preserves and kombucha (which is probably vinegar by now, but works quite nicely when cut with soda water – I’m wondering if I could tincture stuff in it for a way-less-alcoholic-than-vodka option… Hmmm…), also we brought the plants in, so the floor space is limited, too. O.O
I’m thinking about time.
About things ending.
About things NOT ending.
I’ve got maybe two more life coaching sessions left, and I feel like what I’ve tried to accomplish through them (a) is working, but (b) is not going to be anywhere near a done deal by the time my 37th birthday (and final coaching session) rolls around. I’ve got about eleven weeks before the end of 2016 (er… maybe ignore that if you freak about late-December stuff?), by-which-point I’d like to be done my New Year New You project for this round which… will be cutting it close, to say the least.
Autumn is the season for letting things go, but I’m watching myself dig my nails in deeper, dig my heels in elsewhere, hold things at arms’ length like “Why is this happening now?” Trying to discern what I actually want. Trying not to jump in too fast, make assumptions, or flee in terror over imaginary things.
Horoscope from Chani Nicholas is telling me that I need to focus on work – on the day-to-day of doing my “chores”, but also on The Work that I’ve been doing all year, and on “work” in the sense of “career” which, in my case, is probably modeling? That and/or working in my wife’s shop. Honestly, this particular topic (in a Jupiter Return year, no less) has always kind of baffled me? My “Year At A Glance” in the We’Moon calendar is all “What kind of wealth do you want to accumulate?” and I’m all “??? This is even a thing???” Second Chakra Stuff. I don’t even know. :-\
I am clearly done like dinner. Birthday party for a 71-year-old sky diver tomorrow.
Goodnight, kiddies.
Meliad, the Birch Maiden.
Motion: Lots of long (1hr) walks of late. Spent a week not doing Plank, and my back was Not Impressed so, lesson learned there. :-\
Attention: Reading “If I Was Your Girl” by Meredith Russo. Trying to up my self-awareness game, notice and name my feeelings, try to spot my own repeating patterns before I get too sucked into them. Trying to notice it when I get Emotionally Stormy around self-inflicted feelings of obligation, so I can sort out where I need to draw a line or step myself back. It’s… sort of working so far?
Gratitude: Getting to sleep in late. Snuggling with my wife. Being taken out for a fancy dinner by someone cool. Friends getting good news. The chance to talk about symbolism and celery root (not of celery root, mind you, though maybe we could have?) with a (probably queer, probably femme) cashier at the grocery store this afternoon. My wife making sure we ate dinner, because sometimes I totally fall down on that front. Hot baths.
Inspiration: Femme Rage. No, seriously, that’s pretty much where it’s coming from right now.
Creation: Finished the pink shrug, finally, and even wore it out and about the other day. Beyond that, though, not feeling super creative right now.

New Year New You 2016: Week 13 – Sacrifice (You are the Thing That is Burning)

I’m doing Miss Sugar’s New Year New You Experiment in Radical Magical Transformation (again) because I find it’s a really good way to kick my own ass into getting things done. You should try it!
Instructions: A meaningful sacrifice to your Powers That Be. You and your PTB will know best what that is for you. Think on it.
Tarot Card: Judgement (20 of Major Arcana).
I picked this one for a couple of reasons. One is because of the Mary-El version of the card, which is very-much in line with the title of this post. Another is the idea of “Judgy Judgy Judgy” and the way we can be cruel to ourselves, the way our Jerk Brains can say the meanest things, in the (mistaken) idea that dissuading us from leaving our comfort zones will keep us safe. The third is the Osho version of this card, Beyond Illusion, which has to do with the “sacrifice” theme of this week’s prompt (the Collective Tarot’s take on it is also relevant, in terms of end goals, fyi).
So I’m going with it.
I’m just over two months away from the year-mark of my Queen of Cups project, and right about at the year-mark for when I started getting Messages about becoming more receptive in the first place. I have to say it’s been an interesting ride, given that where I’ve ended up is a question about how to have better boundaries. This isn’t particularly surprising, but it’s not what I was originally expecting when I set out to teach myself how to Let More Good Stuff In and how to be More Vulnerable (in the asking for what I need way) in relationships that matter to me.
Then again, it’s been a pretty constant internal argument with myself to avoid going back to the definition of “boundaries” that essentially means “nobody is allowed in, ever” and hang onto the one that (is fairly theoretical but also probably a better plan, and) says “boundaries” mean “I decide who is allowed in, and how far, and under what circumstances… and will back myself off accordingly if my needs aren’t being met”.
To that end, I’ve been pushing up against some significant edges during my most recent life coaching sessions. I’ve been reading about Non-Violent Communication, the notions of observing and naming my feelings, and of voicing needs and making actionable requests of people to help me meet those needs.
It suuuuucks.
I read a chapter, and my shoulders hike right up around my ears. My teeth come out, and I seriously start spoiling for a fight. Turns out my metaphorical Flailing Mermaid has had a lot to say about changing the way I interact with people when it comes to boundaries, needs, and consequences.
This is the bit about “Judgy” that I was talking about, above.
So, here I am, staring the “sacrifice” prompt in the face, and haaaaating the idea of giving up something that I value. I don’t think this particular NYNY Goal is one that can be met by limiting my time on social media or deciding to stick with fair trade chocolate, sugar, coffee and so-on[1].
The thing I have to give away is my illusions.
You remember I did a tarot reading a little while ago?
The thing that is burning, when The Tower shows up, is me.
I’ve been telling myself old stories over the past couple of days. Like, noticeably replaying Old Tapes, grinding old axes, getting mad (inside my head) at everyone whoever Wronged Me in some way. And I know that pattern.
What do I have to give away in order to get what I want?
If what I want is Liberation (which could also be understood through the last “phase” of this version of the 10 of Air), I have to move myself Beyond the Illusions that I’ve build around myself that simultaneously tell me (a) that I’m not worthy of love and care and kindness, but also (b) that Needing Things is how you get yourself hurt, so better off to keep your damn mouth shut if you’re codependent enough to need something in the first place[2].
So. How do I offer this to the fire?
How, in a situation where the behaviours associated with The Flailing Mermaid are part of me, have redeeming qualities that I want to keep, and which – like it or not – are never going to go away, how do I give away the control I let those behaviours have on me?
How do I let that go?
The answer, I suspect, is “slowly”. Slowly, but consistently, a sliver at a time, one bad habit at a time, burn a new path through my internal woods, tread it enough that I know my new way and don’t always twist towards the old.
In terms of how to back this up with some magical working, mind you, I can see doing some sort of a fire ritual. Write out the old way and feed it to the flames, spread the ash on my garden and let it compost into something good and new.
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
[1] Although, for the record, Ben and Jerry’s (which recently spoke out in support of Black Lives Matter) does fair trade cocoa and sugar on at least some (“Cherry Garcia” and “If I Had 1,000,000 Flavours”) of their stuff, which is always good to know. I’ve added them to my list of Approve Ice Cream (even if they are owned by Unilever), alongside Kawartha Dairy (which is Delicious and made in Ontario).
[2] Here I’m thinking of Brene Brown’s Rising Strong and the chapter about struggling with shame around need and needing, and how, when you are afraid/ashamed of needing things (or people, or help), you have set up a hierarchy where people who need/receive are Less Than people who help/give. I have a weird(?) relationship with needing and receptivity. Some stuff – like home-made dinner, hugs, or second-hand furniture – is easy for me to receive. Other stuff – like small-but-special presents or people going out of their way for me – is harder. Other stuff – like flirtatious attention, sexual touch, heaps of cash, or very generous gifts (which… 2nd Chakra Stuff, much?) – is very, very difficult. I get suspicious about what I’m going to “owe” the other person, or nervous about not giving them the performance/response they’re (in theory) wanting “in exchange” for giving me so much attention, effort, or “energy” (what is this thing where money = energy? I don’t entirely get it) which, in itself, can land me in Trigger Land or the kind of emotional storms with-which my Flailing Mermaid is all too familiar, real fast. I have difficultly needing things (and talking out loud about same) and difficulty receiving things – even if some of those things are much easier than others – and maybe it’s not surprising that the two go hand in hand AND that being “the giving one” feels powerful and safe (or powerless but indispensable, which is also a kind of “safe”… in a way) while being the “needing (“needy”) one” feels vulnerable (it is), dangerous/unstable, and burdensome/shameful (it’s not, but I’m having trouble working that into my bones). Relevant stuff here. Still sorting it through.

Chokecherry Chutney / Plum Relish and The Reason for the Season (of the Witch)

So, today I ran a canning workshop which, alas, did not have a great turn-out. BUT the lovely thing about running a canning workshop is that either (a) you get a big group and you all geek about canning and you have waaaaay less stuff to cary home than you originally brought OR (b) you get a small group and you all geek about canning and you get to bring home a whole bunch of preserves that you didn’t have to mess up your own kitchen to make. (The ACO, where I ran the thing, has a dish-washer and TWO STOVES. It was great!)
So I’m counting it as a win.🙂
My one co-canner and I nattered about canning (of course), about how satisfying it is, about our respective not-distant-at-all farming ancestors, and about familial and cultural food traditions… and on my way home, I realized: we were talking about what this time of year is about. About the harvest, about getting the family (chosen or origin or both) together, about sharing, about where and whom we come from.
It was really wonderful.
Anyway. I had about 5 cups of chokecherry purree put aside for today, so I ended up re-jigging last year’s recipe into something a little more plum-heavy. You can call it Choke Cherry Chutney if you want to, but you could also call it Plum Relish. Either way, it tastes amazing, and I have six jars of it put up in my cupboard.😉
Chokecherry Chutney 2016 (AKA Plum Relish)
30+ blue plums, pitted and diced (leave the skins on, it’s fine)
5 C chokecherry puree
1½ C red wine vinegar
4 medium onions, diced
2 C dried (sweetened) cranberries
2 C granulated sugar
2 tbsp dried rosemary
2 tbsp dried basil
1 tbsp ground cloves
1 tsp salt
Well in advance:
Pick chokecherries – you will need 3 litres to start with. This will take anywhere from 2 hours to a couple of days, depending on how abundant the chokecherry trees are being in a given year.
Wash the chokecherries, discarding any stems, leaves, and other detritus
Simmer chokecherries in a little water, covered, for half an hour, poke at them with a fork occasionally
Strain chokecherries & liquid through a sieve (or a food mill, or an apple-sauce strainer, or a colander with very small holes… you get the idea), scraping the sides to make sure you get as much pulp in with the juice as possible (this will take about an hour if you’re using a sieve, it will probably take less time if you’re using a food mill or an apple sauce strainer). The goal here is to remove the pits (which, like all almond-related fruits, have cyanide in them) and get a smooth chokecherry base for your preserve.
Day Of:
Wash, pit, and dice the plums
Peel and dice the onions
Combine all the ingredients in a wide, ideally deep, pot (this stuff will splatter)
Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally to prevent things from sticking to the bottom (leave the lid off the pot, at least a bit, to let the liquid cook down faster)
Sterilize a doezen 1C jars + lids and rings – you can do this in a dish-washer, by boiling them in a water bath, or by baking the jars (you still have to boil the lids and rings) in an oven set to 225F for 20 minutes.
When the chutney is bubbling and nicely thickened (the liquidy part will sort of glob together a little before dripping off a spoon and/or when you stir the mixture, you’ll be able to see the bottom of the pan for just a second before the mix oozes back in to fill the space), ladle it into your sterilized jars.
Cap and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
Allow to cool, listening for the “plunk” that tells you they’ve properly sealed.

New Moon – Harvest / Squash Moon Begins

It’s been an Eight of Disks kind of day. Grey clouds scudding across the sky, sun warm when it’s out, but mostly it’s chilly enough to remind me that it’s autumn, nearly October.
I’m running that canning workshop the day after tomorrow, and one of today’s tasks was getting the last of the ingredients together. I’m so relieved that Ontario blue plums are still available, because I’d have been in some trouble otherwise. (I promised I’d bring enough to make 3 litres of the recipe I’m teaching – about 1 pint each, basically, since it’s a small class – and I was worried I’d have to add rhubarb or apples or something to get the full amount).
Other tasks have included vacuuming, dishes, laundry… all the things that are required to keep a house going, day to day. It’s been really good to just dig into it and do it without feeling like I “should” be doing something else.
I’m feeling the spiral of time particularly thickly right now – mostly because, this time last year (and every year before last year for the past six years), I was prepping to go to an event that isn’t (exactly) happening this year. I keep going over “this time last year…” in my head, and part of me really wants to stop. I’m trying to focus on food, and the very beginnings of our local Festive Season (which basically runs from the full moon closest to the Autumn Equinox, all the way through the winter to almost Beltane – although, yes, things quiet down a little bit after Mother’s Nigth and New Year’s Day). I’ll be cooking a couple of turkeys, this time next week, bringing one – along with a wild rice pilaf ft butternut squash, McIntosh apples, dried cranberries, pumpkin seeds, onion, garlic, and sage – to a potluck thanksgiving gathering, and the other will be pulled apart and frozen in meal-sized portions to be added to pasta dishes and similar on nights when I’m too tired/busy/lazy to cook anything with a lot of forethought.
i’m glad that the temperature has dropped, though also glad that there hasn’t been a frost just yet. My forest of cherry-tomato and roma tomato plants (most of them a re volunteers, if you can believe it) are heavy-heavy with green fruit, and I’m looking forward to stewing it all into a chutney again, but it will be nice to gather in at least a little bit more of the ripe stuff before the season ends for good.
I picked all of my eggplants yesterday. Small, glossy, and dark purple – one of them has a “nose”, of all things, this random purple spike sticking out of the side. I’m going to peel them and cook them up with chick peas, coconut milk, and some of last year’s tomato sauce for dinner tonight. I’m down to only a few jars of 2015 preserves at this point (phew!) and I’m kind of hoping we’ll all be slightly sick of prserved tomatoes by the time the frost hits. That way, I can easily put off opening this year’s preserves until January or February, when the root veggies start getting scarce and I need to start leaning on what I’ve put up in jars.
That’s the way I’ve been cycling things, so far. Trying to rely only on jarred and frozen veggies for as little time as possible (which, let’s be honest, is still something like five months, but still), and have a few solid blocks where I’m serving fresh stuff (even raw stuff!) without anything I’ve put up. Otherwise, it can get to be too much vinegar in everything. Tonight we’re having jarred tomato sauce, yes, but this morning was eggs with garden tomatoes. Chicken and pasta with sage pesto fresh mashed from the garden and never having seen a freezer, or jerusalem artichokes (a solid month or more away from being dug up) sthen boiled like buttery potatoes or else sliced thin and stir-fried for a crunch like water chestnuts.
Next New Moon is the weekend of Samhain. I’ll have the squash in by then, and the garden will have mostly gone to bed. Between now and then, who knows what will happen.
Motion: Lots of walking, lots of lifting. A friend told me I was strong and that my muscles are in good conversation with each other, which was not what I was expecting at all, but which is wonderful to hear. The weather’s getting chilly, but I’m still trying to get out dancing now and again. Some of that’ll happen tomorrow evening, I think.😉
Attention: Watching the way my hope and my cynicism fight it out against each other. It’s not a great thing to watch, but there it is. Also keeping an eye on screen time (I say, typing this on a computer, having spent the last two hours reading The Internet…) – my lovely wife has suggested that we do a regular No Tech Night together – the kind of thing where we stick to tarot cards, accoustic instruments, conversation, reading aloud to each other, and that sort of thing for the evening’s entertainment rather than zoning out behind our electronics. I fully support this plan (and so want to get this finished in the next 10 minutes).
Gratitude: Running into a friend while out doing errands today (she said “I had no idea why I came in here, and then there you were”). Grateful, too, for the above-mentioned No Tech Nights. Grateful for house guests. For suggestions on how to approach house-hold cleaning and organizing as a series of short, contained “blitzes” rather than as this endless battle against entropy (hopefully this method will help us get our house in order for what, with a little luck and some encouragement, will be a winter full of guests and gentle entertaining). Grateful for friends who get in touch to tell me that they miss me.❤ Grateful, even, for the taurus (they had it tattoo'd on their arm) working their second shift at the McDonalds counter (yeah, you heard me) who made me change to get the laundry done with. Grateful for local-ish blue plums and on-sale Quebec McIntosh apples at the grocery store. Grateful for witchy fam and people to talk shop with.
Inspiration: Other artists (always), though not necessarily the way they usually are. The poetry of other femmes (always – this week, it’s Leah Horlick’s For Your Own Good), geeking out about how we’re a narrative species that loves fitting life’s intricacies into patterns that make sense to us. Talking tarot and witchcraft with masc-of-centre folks who, until this year, I never expected to be such a part of my woo-munity.
Creation: I wrote two poems this week, and submitted them to an anthology of femme writing!😀 Heaven and Earth only know i either (or both? A gal can dream) will be accepted, but I’m so glad that I did this!

Full Moon – Apple Moon Crests (and Wains) PLUS Autumn Equinox

There’s a nip in the air that wasn’t there a week ago. The sun is still warm, even hot, when it hits you directly, but the mornings are chilly and, while we haven’t needed to turn the heat on yet, I know it’s not going to be long before that becomes a necessity again.
People with gardens are harvesting hardcore, bringing in the green tomatoes before they get hit by the frost that’s threatening to arrive any day, putting up the last of the rhubarb jam. I did a second round of tomato-canning last weekend, while that big, gorgeous harvest moon rose in the sky, and my wife spent the weekend with her GF.
I’m teaching a water-bath canning workshop next weekend. (It’s a go! Woot!) We’ll be using neighbourhood-harvested chokecherries + farmers’ market plums and a slew of other goodies to make Chokecherry Chutney (which, technically, is a relish given how I’ve done the seasonings. I’m keeping the “chutney” for the aliteration of it all.😉 )
The chokecherries have been sitting in my freezer, already strained into a purree, for over a month. Even though there’s at least one tree in the neighbourhood that’s still got berries on it, I didn’t want to risk not having any available for this workshop, so into the freezer they all went. I suspect my October is going to be full of canning – a nicer time to do it, since the weather will be cooler and a hot, steamy kitchen will hold more appeal than it does in August. Chokecherry curd, GoblinFruit jam (chokecherries, black currants, raspberries, vanilla, and whatever else I can throw in there), rhubarbicue sauce, and lots of pumpkin butter. I tried harvesting apples from a local tree, but most of them were out of reach, so… we’ll see what we can add to my three apples + a couple of crab apples. They may end up in a green-tomato chutney (ft mustard and black pepper for heat), or else just baked into some kind of freezer-friendly cake recipe.
I’m feeling the need to rush, right now. Like I should be harvesting bouquets of grape leaves and dandelion greens and chard (my chard is finally starting to take off, can you believe it. Autumn plantings for the win, I guess?) and putting them up in the freezer so that we’ll have plenty of greens frozen for over winter when the imported stuff is soooo expensive. Like I should be buying as much yellow zucchini as I can get my hands on and putting it up in pucks so that we have something other than root veggies to draw on in January and February. Like I should be making (more) vegan sage pesto for the freezer and drying basil and Greek oregano in the dehydrator. And I should. I should be outside with a bowl, right now, cutting rhubarb stalks and yellow chard fronds and ripe, skinny eggplants off the gorgeous plant that finally started heavy-producing when the drought broke (I have a blowl of ripe baby-tomatoes and purple beans sitting on the counter already). I could do a nightshade heavy meal with added white beans and some of last year’s salsa on top of the left-over beefheart and quinoa slow-cooked dinner I made on Thursday,and it would feed the four (we have guests this weekend) of us quite nicely.
My wife, her GF, and our two guests are off canoing this afternoon. I begged off because I’m down with a head-cold and the idea of spending a windy, chilly autumn day on the water seemed like a less-than-wise way to go. So I’m home, writing about seasonal changes and plotting what to do with my garden’s bounty before the frost knocks it all down for another year.
The cross-over into Root Time is only a few weeks away at this point. The days are noticeably shorter than they were not that long ago and, now that the Equinox has (just barely) come and gone, they are shorter (only just) than the days are. I’m aware of all the Personal Growth I’ve been doing over the past six months, wondering how much of it would stick if I found myself trying to open my heart again to another unknown quantity.
I read a blog post the other day that asked “What are you afraid of being”, and the answer is: I’m afraid of being crazy.
I’m afraid of being in that space of spiraling anxiety and hyper-arousal and constant doubt where self-soothing, for all that I do it as hard as I can, also feels like I’m gas-lighting myself, telling myself pretty lies that only make it easier for someone else to be careless with me.
I’ve spent most of 2016 trying to tease out the strands of what I can manage and control in terms of anxiety and boundaries versus what I can’t (other people’s feelings and behaviour) and how to tell when to pull the plug on something that isn’t feeding me. There is still so much I don’t understand, and I am afraid of being crazy if I try this again.
Miss Sugar recently talked about “the dark part of the forest“, the dark side of one’s own Glamour, and how her Glam is equal parts Glenda and Elphaba. Equal parts the charming femme escort who works the tropes of femininity so hard they break (to paraphrase Kathryn Payne) and the fierce, terrifying, single-minded “belle dame sans merci” – the femme who is written off as mad/insane because she’s sick of playing by the rules that say “want less and you will always have enough“.
Carrie’s post for this moonth’s Scorpio tarotscope, over at Siobhan’s Mirror, says “The door of your transformation has been cracked open, and it cannot be closed again“.
Has it? How do I trust that what my gut is telling me is true? That it’s neither wishful thinking & relentless hope nor the awful stories my anxiety, fear of abandonment, and generalized self-loathing want me to believe are true?
The Autumn wreath is on my door. I have a couple of butternut squashes (hallelujah!) ripening in the garden, more rhubarb than I know what to do with (no, actually, I totally know what to do with it), and some shorter-than-expected but hopefully proliffic jerusalem artichokes that I won’t need to harvest until my birthday roles around, shortly after Hallowe’en.
From now until the snow flies and the killing cold comes on the heels of the longest night, we’re in the season of the witch.
Time to tincture, time to brew.
What’s brewing for me?
Time (and my intuition) will tell.


Motion: Not nearly enough, but Plank every day is still happening, which is something.
Attention: Paying attention to the way I watch people’s body language, check-in a LOT when they look stressed/uncomfortable/distant, noticing how often this happens with masc folks in particular, and wondering how much of my over-performance of emotional labour relates to the genderedness of emotional labour (which is heavily fem(me)inized) and whether or not my fretful/soothing (freeze & please, mend & tend) reaction to someone else effectively Doing “Resting Bitch Face” While Masc is entirely a case of hyper-awareness around other people Being Displeased (which is, of course, my responsibility to manage…) or if it’s actually a reaction to someone “failing” to smiiiiiiiile or otherwise perform “everything’s great, and I’m engaged in the proceedings”… It’s a weird thought-process to follow, but at least I’m noticing it now.
Gratitude: Grateful for ripening squash. For a new-found urban fruit tree near my wife’s workplace (ish) that is ready for harvest (it miiiiight be plums?). For the chance to see Against Me perform in Montreal. For old acquaintances blossoming into friends who want to come for weekend visits, and for new friends making the time to get to know me. For the chance to share knowledge and canning techniques and recipes with people who want to learn. Grateful for the slow return of body responsiveness, too.
Inspiration: Necessity, in many cases. What do I do with a dozen ripe and over-ripe pears? What do I do with four stale cherry-chocolate-chip muffins? How do I stretch this grocery budget farther than I did last month? (Answer: Make a lot of cheap eggs-flour-milk desserts like pear upside-down cake and chocolate-custard bread pudding with pears, plus Add Beans to Everything). Beyond that? I’m reading Bill Pfeiffer’s Wild Earth, Wild Soul which… has some good stuff, I think, but which is also getting my White Hippie Side-Eye going pretty hard in a couple of places. His “Wild Earth Intensives” are a neat idea, but I’d like to see what I can do to rejig some of the techniques for a decidely urban landscape.
Creation: I’ve mostly been creating in the kitchen these days, cobling together recipes for sage pesto, pickled pie cherries, and a slasa that involves more dried fruit than last year’s did. Today, I’m finishing off a sweater (minus the trim, which I’ll get done over the next few weeks). Poetry Critique Group is approaching again, so I need to get on that with some new pieces.

New Year New You 2016: Week Twelve – Every Day You’re Hustling

I’m doing Miss Sugar’s New Year New You Experiment in Radical Magical Transformation (again) because I find it’s a really good way to kick my own ass into getting things done. You should try it!
Instructions: This week is about putting your money where your mouth is. I want you to keep a daily journal. In it, talk about what you’ve done that day to accomplish your goal(s).
Tarot Card: Eight of Disks. This one was a bit of a no-brainer. The Eight of Earth is all about the daily grind, about getting it done, day in and day out, about the dilligence it takes to stick to a task until you get good at it (practice, practice, practice), which is what this week’s prompt is about. In the Wooden Tarot, the Eight of Bones is a spine, calling up both “put your back into it” and “don’t chicken out (don’t be spine-less)”, which touch on this week’s prompt while also acknowledging the “continuing in spite of your fears and doubts” elelments of Week Eleven.
But here’s a thing. In the collective tarot, whose suit of earth is also called Bones, the Eight of Bones is a ribcage, with a crysalys at its heart.

Eight of Bones - Collective Tarot A ribcage with eight ribs.  There is a crysalys nested in the sternum over (or in place of) the heart.  Below the ribcage, fiddlehead ferns are starting to unfurl.

Eight of Bones – Collective Tarot
A ribcage with eight ribs. There is a crysalys nested in the sternum over (or in place of) the heart. Above the crysalys hangs the figure-8 of the infinity symbol, echoing the transformative potential of The Magician in the Major Arcana. Below the ribcage, fiddlehead ferns are starting to unfurl.

That’s what the daily grind, the dedication, will get you. Personal evolution. Personal transformation.
Every time I (grudgingly) do plank to build my core-strength and literaly take the pressure off my spine; every time I pause to check in with my body, to see what feels good, to see what feels at all; every time I answer my journaling questions for Life Coaching; every time I push myself to stay with hope (which is so, so scary)… every time I do any of that, I’m letting the crysalys around my heart get a little more mature, I’m letting my internal changes move a little farther on the journey from where I was to where I want to be.
Miss Sugar asks:

Have you made you an option instead of a priority?

This isn’t easy.
Taking time out for myself – when my whole life feels like “free time” half the time, when I get so angry at myself for still being a tumult of anxiety[1] in spite of having rigged my life so that I mostly don’t have to deal things that are uncomfortably beyond my control[2] – it feels like… It feels like “Gods, Meliad, do you have to baby yourself even more than you already do???”
But the whole point of my Queen of Cups Project is to be more capable of receoptivity, of accepting kindness, pleasure, care, Good Things, into my life and my body without getting all freaked out about it. To be able to receive, as well as give, with an open heart (and open legs). To be able to trust instead of self-sabotaging thanks to my insecurities. To be able to trust realistically and with good boundaries rather than flinging myself off a cliff, so to speak, and hoping my reckless trust will prove I’m worthy of not shattering on the rocks.
… And doing that means I have to be able – be willing and able – to be good to myself, to be trust-worthy to myself, to follow-through with, and take care of, my Self.
So. If you’ll excuse me, I have Exercises I need to work through, and salsa I need to finish canning.
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
[1] Fun Fact: There is a farely good chance that I have “generalized anxiety disorder”, and have had it since childhood! I’m not looking to get a diagnosis, since meds are probably not the way to go here, but having that “Oh… that explains a lot…” moment after self-diagnostic test #3 came up with the same result, plus having a better idea of which strategies and techniques for managing this stuff are most likely to work? It’s been a big help.
[2] I work from home, I work with my wife, I do an outside-the-house job that I’m extremely good at and valued for. I may be broke all the time, but I’m also able to keep us somewhat-creatively fed on limited cash. I know how to rig the odds and ask for advice/information from My People through tarot, I put effort into maintaining the relationships I have with my awesome, reliable friends whom I can count on, I live down town so that I can walk everywhere, and can’t use “But… transit…” as an excuse not to leave the house and try new things, etc, etc…