Monthly Archives: June 2014

Ethical Eating (Critter Edition) – The Continuing Saga

So I lent The Omnivore’s Dilemma to a friend of mine, and she and I were chatting about it and she said that it’s got her thinking about how she sources the meat her family eats, and how to find ethical sources of critter now that she’s paying (more) attention to this stuff. Conveniently, she knows me and my lovely wife, and we are making more and more connections (most of them, unexpectedly, through my wife’s day-job, although maybe that isn’t too surprising) in the ethical-livestock-farmers neck of the woods. We get our monthly rabbit. We’ve got a lady looking to split a goat with us (and there may or may not be a bag or three of angora goat hair – in need of carding, but otherwise ready to spin… apparently – in it for me, as well). A friend of one of my wife’s other partners raises a wide variety of pastured livestock. And then, of course, there are folks like Barb or John & Lorraine who run meat CSAs, sell at farmers’ markets, and do (some) home deliveries or bulk orders.
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Serviceberries! :-D

It’s almost July, the moon just started another cycle, and the serviceberries are ripe and ready for picking!
I went out for about an hour on Friday and picked from a good half a dozen trees (along Preston St, mostly) that were mostly almost-but-not-quite ripe. By Saturday evening, the trees in Dundonald Park and along Glouchester St were already dropping over-ripe berries. I’ll be going out again in the next 36 hours to see if I can’t harvest a Big Heap of berries to put in the (chest) freezer. I figure if I keep that up every couple of days, I’ll have a good store of frozen fruit to get me started on the rest of the year.
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K is for Kick in the Pants – Pagan Blog Project 2014

Hey, folks. so I’m still on “K” and the actual PBP timeline is quite a ways ahead of me (M or N, I think), but I’ll get there eventually.
Today’s letter is for “Kick in the Pants”. I totally thought I’d be writing about Sacred kink or similar, but no such luck. Instead, I’ve been hit by web-omancy, so we’re gonna talk about that.
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New Moon – Serviceberry Moon Begins

Well, the serviceberries were ready to be harvested as of yesterday, if not slightly earlier. Say hello to two weeks of fresh, delicious berries, folks! ๐Ÿ˜€
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K is for (Just) Keep Swimming – Pagan Blog Project 2014

Just Keep Swimming (Dory - "Finding Nemo")

Just Keep Swimming (Dory – “Finding Nemo”)

Yeah. That.
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J is for June – Pagan Blog Project 2014

Yes, I said “June” – the month – not “Juno” the Roman goddess.
June, in my neck of the woods is a time of waiting. But not the way that, say, most of Winter is a time of waiting. This time is dynamic. Everything is moving forward, and the “waiting” feels more like “Are we there yet?” in a moving car, than the stillness that comes with waiting out a deep freeze for six months.
I’ve written before about how it doesn’t feel like Midsummer around her right now, that it feels less like momentum building towards a goal that almost ready to be achieved, and more like a struggle to get out of bed in the mornings.
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J is for Jostaberries – Pagan Blog Project 2014

So I’m deep into Catch-UP Mode when it comes to the PBP. Bear with me for a little while, folks.
Jostaberries are a relative (direct descendant, actually) of both black currants and gooseberries. They are a dark purple fruit with relatively thornless cains, and they can grow in scrubby, damp soil and partial (not full!) shade just fine. They make excellent jams, syrups, and country wines, and are delicious dried (use as a substitute for raisins in pretty-much anything) or fresh (their sweet-tart taste makes for an amazing trifle).
Magically, it can be associated with both the planets Venus (gooseberries) and Jupiter (currants), the archangel Anael, Thursday (and Thor, aparently?), the element of fire (for reasons I can’t fathom), as well as with various gods of wine and fruit.
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Full Moon – Rhubarb Moon Crests

My mind is boggling at the fact that it’s nearly Summer Solstice. My wife and I will have been married for a year-and-a-half (exactly) as of ten days from now. Tomorrow night, I’ll be cooking our first Bunny Of The Month Club rabbit – I’ll be consulting the Joy of Cooking on that front, I think – and probably doing it in the cast iron Dutch Oven (the one I used to cook last week’s Fabulous Friday braised pork shoulder roast in) with mushrooms, rhubarb, onions, chunks of parsnip and potato… but I’m not sure what-all else. We’ll probably eat it with a vidal and I’ll do a rhubarb pie for dessert.
It’s… strange. It doesn’t feel like Midsummer.
Maybe that’s the stormy weather we’ve been having lately, with its overcast skies and chilly, wet winds. Or maybe (likely) it’s the fears that I’m living with about money and employment.
Rhubarb Moon is supposed to be “everything’s coming up roses”. All hope and expansion and great sex, all rocketing towards fruitfulness and first harvests. All that stuff that one started working towards back in February, all the dreams that one planted and started cultivating at Spring Equinox and through Beltane, those are supposed to be moving – fairly clearly – towards fruition of one sort or another.
While I realize that “supposed to be” is a phrase at-which the gods, generally speaking, probably laugh their asses off, it’s still kind of sitting heavily with me that nothing that I planted is doing much of anything. Not that I’ve been “planting” very much.
Our chest freezer remains in the storage locker – which means no CSAs this year (again); the ritual group that I joined has… not done a whole lot (I need to get in touch with people and suggest that we do an afternoon Thing instead of an evening one, this time, as I suspect it’ll work out a bit better). The presentation I made in February – a sort of “Where do we go from here?” discussion with area LGBTQ Service Providers – has lead to me getting downsized so that I’m spending my “coming to fruition” time looking for new sources of income/employment. Our casual search for a less buggy, yard-posessing place to live has, so far, turned up fairly fruitless… and that’s not the whole of it.
You can imagine that things are feeling a little bit stressful and a little bit demoralizing at the moment.
Which doesn’t mean that there’s no hope, and it doesn’t mean that there are no Nice Things to be had.
The serviceberries are ripening all over the neighbourhood. In 2-3 weeks (right around the time that Serviceberry Moon starts) I’ll be able to stroll through my neighbourhood and pick bags of sweet, purple tree berries to freeze, eat fresh, and turn into jams and chutneys and pies as I will. A neighbour up the street passed me a big handful of Vietnamese Garlic (the same stuff that I use to make asparagus relish[1]) and I was able to make pizza[2] for the first time – it was such a hit that I’ll probably start making it on a semi-frequent, regular basis[4]. This weekend, my lovely with and I are going to a 12-hour telling of The Iliad – which will be thoroughly awesome – and then, a week later, I’m visiting my Aunties and picking up a gorgeous antique cabinet (heirloom – otherwise we’d never be able to swing it) to bring home[5]. I might even have a chance at a part-time job for a month or two (or six) depending on how things go. Fingers crossed. ๐Ÿ™‚
So all is not lost, as they say. ๐Ÿ™‚
Where are you finding hope and joy at this time?
Meliad the Birch Maiden.

[1] I’ll post the recipe in a bit, if I haven’t already.
[2] The dough was just some extra bread-dough that I had lying around – not quite enough to make a third loaf, but enough to be a pizza crust, so I went with it. I used some of my roasted-garlic balsamic tomato sauce for the sauce – just as-is – and added some of the above-mentioned home-made (vegan) pesto[3] along with dollops of labneh (accidental yoghurt-cheese), button mushrooms, rounds of turkey sausage, and some discounted “cooking mozzarella” that I picked up (with the mushrooms and sausages) from the store.
[3] Basically, you take 3 cups (ish) of garlic chives (AKA Vietnamese Garlic) and chuck it in a food processor with a quarter cup of oil, a quarter cup of crumbled walnuts, 2 tbsp nutritional yeast, 1 tbsp cider vinegar, and a pinch of salt, and then you puree the heck out of it. I froze the first batch, and then made a half-batch to put on the pizza. It works! ๐Ÿ˜€
[4] In the same way that our Bunny of the Month will likely be eating on, or near, the Full Moon, I may do a monthly Pizza Night that happens on, or near, the New Moon (that’s amore?), in the interests of marking these recurring events with recognizable foods. My lovely wife has suggested doing pizza using chutney – like rhubarbicue sauce, for example – and roast turkey or pork (or chicken). I kinda love this idea as it would be a way of acknowledging the Lunar Cycle in a very literal way: Serviceberry Moon might be begun/marked with a pizza topped with serviceberry chutney (in lieu of tomato sauce), a layer of whole grape leaves (or shredded other greens), chunks of chicken or turkey, halved baby tomatoes (or not), and a sprinkling of fresh (or dried) sage and thyme. Thunder Moon might involve tomato sauce, sure, but couple it with slivers of zucchini, chunks of tomato, whole squash blossoms, and fresh basil, with corn meal added to the crust. Apple moon might use apple butter (very sweet) for the sauce, and include barbicued pork, raw cranberries, slivers of onion, and shredded kale or nappa… You get the idea, I’m sure. ๐Ÿ˜‰
[5] At least that’s the plan. It’ll go (some way, some how) in our Living Room and be used to hold either leatherworking supplies OR fibre and chandalry supplies & various oils and essential oils.

I is for Integration – Pagan Blog Project 2014

I mentioned, the other day, that “everything is coming up shadows” at the moment, and so I find myself thinking of the Integration Card in my tarot deck.

Integration – 14 of Major Arcana (AKA “Temperence”)
The Union of Opposites

Your shadow isn’t your opposite, at all. It’s… Okay, as far as I understand it, it’s a bit like the reversed position of a tarot card and a little bit (a lot of bit?) like all the things that you wish you weren’t, but are.
I took myself on a trip to my Inner Landscape; went into the river, which became the ocean; talked to a dragon queen and sharks and warrior women and a whale; wore the body of a squid-maid, and learned (ish) how to shape-shift by biting a mermaid hard enough to break the skin (her blood was copper-based, as it turns out); and then tidied up my Inner House, which now has a huge tusk coiled around the trunk of its host-tree…
The idea was to talk to my shadow and figure out who it is and how to integrate it with myself. Except that I don’t actually think that’s what I did. I think I told myself a story about talking to fierce and scary-looking Creatures and still being okay, and I don’t think I actually met the parts of myself that I don’t like (well, except for the predory part – but I knew about it already).
Miss Sugar asks “What could you be if you got out of your own way?
What am I putting in my own way?
Fear? The absolute certainty of failure. Shame.
Hiding from the attention (of various kinds) that I would draw to myself if I let the full force of my intensity out of its box. Wouldn’t entirely know how to handle it or navigate it – the intensity as well as the attention. Wouldn’t know how to keep people from being scared of me, either.
But that’s only half the story.
The other half is that I don’t think I could keep it up. I suspect that I’d deflate like a big balloon if I tried to be bombastic and demanding all the time. And I wouldn’t know how to direct that power, even if I could make it last.
What do I want?
A house and a garden and my wife standing with me. A tribe whom I can love and be loved by. Enough available time and financial stability that I can dedicate hours in any given day to creative pursuits – everything from cooking to writing to crafting to music to gardening – without having to worry about whether or I’m being a freeloader by doing it, or whether or not I’m “allowed” (or wise) to do what I want instead of chasing money.
…And I feel like even saying that out loud is inviting disaster. Like someone is going to shout down from the sky “So why don’t you have it yet??” or “Why are you selling yourself short?” But I don’t know how to want anything more than that, that doesn’t grow directly out of that, and still have it make me happy.
Sometimes I think my Shadow is the Femme self I’m kind of afraid of – the bombastic, self-posessed, powerful woman who is what you become if your Maiden goes a direction other than Motherhood. Sometimes I think my Shadow is the vision of Betty Crocker or June Cleaver, the iconic 1950s House Wife, who came to me with a Black Devil‘s teeth, told me that she was Hungry[1], and gave me a frying pan as a weapon.
But if that’s true. If I know her and recognize her… How do I let her back in? How do I get out of my own Power’s way and still retain myself?
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
[1] I originally wrote that as “told me that she was Hunger”… and I don’t think that’s wrong, either. I am very much a vampire, all appetite, when I can be.

Preserved Grape Leaves

Thinking of using this as a base for a different kind of recipe – lacto-fermented grape-leaves and garlic-mustard leaves, done together with a few other shoots (like garlic chives) thrown in.

My Pantry Shelf

Here in Sonoma County, California, we have more than our share of vineyards.ย  For good or for bad, the apple orchards and more diversified crops have given way to hill after rolling hill of vineyards.ย  Now that we are well into May, the vineyards are awash with green as the grape vines put out their leaves.ย  So though the grape harvest is still months away, this is the ideal time to harvest grape leaves.

Harvest leaves from grape varieties that produce smooth and not fuzzy leaves.ย  The leaves pictured are from a Thompson grape vine, but there are many, many possible varieties.ย  Choose leaves that are large (the size of your hand) and not damaged by sun or insects.ย  This time of year they are fresh, tender, and supple.ย  Later in the season they will turn tough and not be as suitable for eating.ย  Take care to ensure thatโ€ฆ

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