So, my shiny Candian English dictionary and thesaurus offers this as the second (so less frequently used) definition for “zest”:
2 Interest, flavour, or charm
I am focusing on the very last word in that definition: Charm. There’s a post of Miss Sugar’s entitled You Need Glamour that has pushed a couple of buttons for me.
Specifically, I’ve started looking at how I can use little magics – the kind that you post-it to your bathroom mirror or doodle onto your skin or build into your daily leaving-the-house-for-real-now routine – to give me a bit of a boost. How can I spritz a little bit of magical je-ne-sais-quoi over myself to help me glow when I walk out the door, or to help me Push Through The Suck on my way to Making Good Art when I’m at home (or out and about)? As such, I’ve started designing sigils (thense the “zigzag” part of my post-subject, even if mine look less “zigzag” and more “curly-cue” to my way of thinking) that I can charge and plaqce strategically around the house (above the stove, around the mirror, etc) and have started charging elements of my makup box as well.
Things that I’m sorting out how to enchant for:
Stick-to-it-ivness and timely action
Creative inspiration and output on various fronts
Seeing opportunities when they present themselves
People-I-like generally liking, and seeking out, my company
Still on the list:
Regular influxes of significant cash (I’m saying “significant” because finding a quarter, while handy, is not the same as finding a five-dollar bill or getting a last-minute modeling gig exactly when I need it) both the reliable, expected kind and the unexpected-bonus kind
Good food (I’m hoping that this will be general enough to cover both (a) a really productive garden, (b) affordable ethical animal-based food, and (b) various friends and phamily dropping by and bringing excellent cheese/chutney/chocolate or whatever with them for me/us to enjoy)
Romantic & sexual magnetism (minus the potential for Stalker Problems)
Like I said, the idea is to give myself a boost in these areas so that, when I try to put myself out there – by flirting with a potential date; by sitting down and chugging through those 1000 words/day; by applying for a gig or a contract; you name it – it won’t just be me against everything. My hope is that things will flow a little more easily in the directions that I want them to go and it won’t feel like I’m always trying to shove a boulder up the hill. (It’ll feel like I’ve got some traction behind me, perhaps, or like the rock is significantly lighter, even if it’s still the same size?)
Here’s hoping it works!
Onwards into 2015.
BLOGGER’S NOTE: So this brings us to the end of 2014’s Pagan Blog Project. The individual who curates the PBP has decided not to keep doing it, so if you like my posts, now would be the time to click the Subscribe Button or otherwise follow along.
I like having something to post for in a weekly kind of way, so I will be participating in The Pagan Experience weekly writing challenge over the course of 2015.
I look forward to talking your ear off in 2015. 🙂
See you then. 🙂
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
Gabrielle Fradet (25) was last seen at a home on County Road 7 in North Dundas Township on Friday, December 19, 2014. Police say she may frequent areas of #Kemptville and #Ottawa.
5’6″ and thin
blonde, shoulder-length hair
Possibly wearing blue jeans, a blue and white bomber style jacket and white boots.
If you have any information you’re asked to call OPP at 1-888-310-1122.
Gabrielle Fradet is described as 5’6″ and thin, with blonde, shoulder-length hair and blue eyes. She was possibly wearing blue jeans, a blue and white bomber style jacket and white boots.
Please spread the word and do anything else you can to help her get safe.
I’m writing this two days late (for the PBP) and a day early (for my lunar calendar/almenac) but I figure it all evens out. It’s Winter Solstice today – we had our annual shindig last night, so that nobody would have to get up at a set time to go to work the next morning – and it’s also our second wedding anniversary. It’s the very last day (fittingly?) of Long Nights Moon, with Snow Moon starting tomorrow. (Thense the name of this post). We’ll see if it lives up to its name again this year.
Snow Moon is kind of a long-haul period. Sure, it overlaps with secular New Year’s, so there are people making Resolutions and setting personal goals all over the place, there are still social things to get up to, but this is generally when the temperature drops hard and fast (and the bills come in, and – around here, anyway – you’re most likely to get hit with a big dose of Seasonally Affected Depression) and it’s one of the hardest parts of the year to get through.
Snow Moon is a hunker down moon. It’s a take stock moon. Given the astrological stuff going on right now (everything is crossing paths with Pluto, apparently) it’s also a time to consider (and maybe sort through) What You Are Doing With Your Life. (Just me? Okay). …I keep eyeing my year-ahead double tarot spread and my 2015 We’Moon horoscope that suggests it’s time for me to “learn how money works”. (It probably is). What is this coming year going to hold?
Zero Degrees – for most of the planet at least – is the point at which water shifts between solid and liquid states. A liminal time, a liminal situation. What parts of your life are seizing/freezing up? Which parts are getting more stable and solid? Where are things getting more fluid and flowing? What’s loosening up and moving? What’s struggling to take/keep its shape?
Things to think about as we go into the cold and head back towards the light.
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
So a week ago, I started writing (thousands of words in) a post about the Year Ahead spread I did, months ago now, for my 35th birthday.
I am opting, instead, to write a celebratory (and short) piece on the impending Winter Solstice because: Happier Thoughts and Less Stress.
It’s been kind of a rough week. In-so-far as I have those these days, I mean. But I’m feeling a lot less despairing today than I was on Monday, so I think things are looking up. Right now, I’m listening to various wintery tunes (instrumental, for the most part) while waiting for my third-last Yuletide Cooking Thing to get finished (It’s chocolate-covered peanut-butter candy, and it’s chilling/solidifying in the freezer right now, so there’s no work involved at the moment). (The remaining items are a pan of caramelized onions for having with cheese and similar plus another batch of my chocolate-pumkin brownies that are gluten-free, paleo, vegan, and also amazingly delicious).
Tomorrow’s going to involve a flurry of tidying and the usual flailing around “do I have enough XYZ” for the hord that I’m hoping will descend on our home starting at around 7pm. I suspect we’ll be fine, but we shall see. I swear, I’ve got more Fancy Cheese in this year than ever before PLUS I splurged on fancy-schmancy local-ethical animal products (smoked duck breast + something kind of salami-esque) to put out, as well. The spread is going to include the following made-by-me items:
Garlic-dill cucumber pickles
Roasted garlic (because that’s so difficult to make…)
The above-mentioned candy, brownies, and caramelized onions
Vegan ginger snaps (I’ll post the recipe – they’re amazing and exactly the right kind of crispy)
There will also be boxed chocolates, dips-from-the-store (two kinds of hummus – even though it’s really easy to make at home), baguette rounds, various chips, the above-mentioned mountain of fancy cheese & spiffy meat products, a lot of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages (including mulled sweet cider and – our Quebecoise version of Joie – Sortilege), plus whatever people bring to share.
This should be gooooooooooooood.
The presents are, for the most part, sorted out – even though, for the most part, they don’t need to be dealt with until jut about New Year’s Eve and, basically, I’m writing this post from a position of relief that I wasn’t sure I’d have the luxury of feeling. Thense the YAY attached to the Yuletide. Now I get to relax, light my candles, pour my libations, and enjoy things!
We watched the moon come up on Saturday night.
That was when the moon was full, this time ’round. (Long Nights Moon will be nearly gone by the time Solstice rolls around – a long, dark night, indeed).
I’m having a lot of trouble finding my Get Up And Go. All I want to do is (a) sleep – because the bed is warm and cozy and nest-like, (b) watch Laura Jane Grace videos on youtube, and (c) eat store-bought lasagna & other stuff that I didn’t have to cook myself.
I’m rapidly coming to the conclusion that I am Just Not going to get the baby blanket, let alone the baby blanket AND a coordinating scarf-for-daddy AND the knitted bats (for my wife) done in any kind of a timely manner. The baby blanket doesn’t matter so much, since the sprog isn’t due for another 3 months or so. BUT it would have been nice to get the rest done.
I’m at the point where I’m hunting through 2nd hand book stores to find appropriate gifts for Various People and, while books make great gifts, I’m feeling a bit like I’m betraying my Make All The Things mentality quite a bit by doing so.
It’s a struggle to just make dinner. Let a lone make bread, candles, breakfast muffins; let alone the kind of seasonal stuff that turns up on top of that (shortbread, ginger snaps, truffles, cranberry curd… plus knitwear and jewelry and other goodies that can be handed around to people as need arises).
I feel like I’ve been looking at my kitchen counter – which continues in its usual “we have no space to work because every surface is covered with dirty dishes” state – and feeling demoralized and defeated for months. Like the 6 weeks during-which we moved from one place to another and, particularly, the three weeks that overlapped the move and during-which I was working full-time, I feel like I had an excuse to be exhausted and miserable and escapist at that point, but by now – five weeks after completing the move – I should (a) have all the boxes unpacked, and (b) be back into my routine of cooking everything from scratch (in a timely fashion), making a lot of household supplies on my own, doing regular yoga, writing 1000 words every day (rain or shine!), and reliably lighting my altars every Friday.
I told my wife I’d make bread today. And breakfast muffins. If I do dishes, then mix up bread dough, then make muffins, then knead & proof bread dough, then bake bread & do more dishes while its baking… I can have this dealt with before 5pm, when I need to start the wild rice (stove-top) and the buttercup squash (oven) so that everything can be ready for 6:30 when my girl gets home.
I applied for a half-time, work-from-home job yesterday. I hope I get an interview. I hope I get the job. (And, yes, I can – maybe even will – dress and burn an ensorselled candle to that effect, since today’s the closing date and they’ll be going through the resumes starting tomorrow). It would open a lot of doors for us, and maybe give me a chance to feel a lot less useless about myself. Heh. My We’Moon horroscope has suggested that 2015 is my year to “learn how money works” which… I kind of feel like I’m starting from Zero on that front, so how hard can it be to make some progress there?
Anyway. That a whole lot of personal stuff, and not a lot about the time of year. The snow is sticking around now – even though we’ve had a few melty days – and we’re due to get a whole lot more before Friday. The days feel really short – I mean, they are really short, but when dusk starts falling a little, and the light’s already slanting towards night at 3:35 in the afternoon… It’s hard to get things done.
I think I need to break out the sweet orange essential oil, breathe in the scent of it, and stir up a little bit of joy.
So, as-you-know-bob, I’m a dyke. A bi-chick. A queer femme resident of Lesbonia (offical flower = Kale). We are people of pot-lucks and we are also people who, as a population, have a LOT of dietary restrictions, some-of-which conflict with each other in horrible/hilarious ways.
As such, it behooves us to have a couple of handy, easy-to-throw-together recipes for one-pot-meals and finger foods that can, somehow, manage to cover the basic bases of:
Vegan (also coveres vegetarian & lactose intollerant)
and, around here at least,
Paleo (which, I gather, frequently makes things easier for the Fibro folks as well)
Good luck with that.
Yeah. So. The other day, I threw the following brownie recipe together. It’s not Strictly Paleo – it contains chocolate chips, for example, which contain refined sugar, and it contains tapioca “flour” which… might or might not qualify. None the less, I think it works and doesn’t manage to hit any major allergins in the process, so:
Chocolate Pumpkin Brownies
½ C chocolate chips
2 tsp grape seed oil
2 C pumpkin butter
1 tsp vanilla
1 C cocoa powder
¼ C tapioca starch
¼ C maple sugar
¼ C tahini
¼ C raw (or roasted), hulled pumpkin seeds (unsalted)
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
Pinch each: nutmeg, cloves
Put the chocoalte chips and the grape seed oil into a small pot on the stove and cover with a lid.
Melt the chocolate chips over LOW heat for about 2-3 minutes
While the chocolate chips are melting: Mix everything else together in a bowl
Add the melted chocolate to the bowl and stir until well incorporated
Scrape mixture into a well-greased 9×9 cake pan
Bake at 350 for 30 minutes
Allow to cool COMPLETELY before serving
These brownies are tasty when the chocolate is still soft, and you can serve them with a little chocolate sauce and ice cream and call it lava cake if you want to, but as a brownie, it needs to be fully cooled. As such, make them a day in advance (if you can wait that long) and let them sit out (possibly covered with a tea towel or something else that breathese) overnight before serving them. They are quite rich – in the way of flourless chocolate cakes – so be aware of that when you’re cutting them. Smaller servings are a good place to start.
NOTE 1: I made mine with nutmeg and cloves (far more than indicated above – I used, like, half a tsp each), and found it a little overpowering in the spice department. But a pinch each should be lovely.
NOTE 2: If you want them to be a little more on the solid side, you can throw in a quarter cup of arrowroot flour as well, to help sop up any moisture in there.
NOTE 3: Given that these rely on solidifying the melted chocolate, some of you may be inclined to think of them as fridge brownies and just not put them in the oven. You’re welcome to give this a shot, but I used the heat from the oven to evaporate a little more moisture from the mixture, so I’m not sure how well they’d work done in the fridge. Probably fine, but no guarantees.
Anyway. So that’s my Pumpkin Brownie recipe. I will probably make a second batch of them (once I’ve re-stocked on cocoa powder) for my Winter Solstice Shindig, but I’m glad that my experiment worked. 🙂
Meliad the Birch Maiden
 I used my home-made pumpkin butter, which is sweetened with maple sugar and maple syrup, BUT you could also do this with: mashed tinned pumpkin from the grocery store (Add an extra 2 tbsp maple sugar in this case), left-over mashed sweet potatoes (ditto re: sugar), OR canned (home or otherwise) pears that you’ve mashed with a fork (though, in this case, you will probably need to add an extra quarter-cup of cocoa OR tapioca flour, because mashed pears are a lot more liquidy (and a lot sweeter) than mashed squash or sweet potatoes.
 I actually would prefer to use pumpkin-seed butter here, but tahini is what I had in the fridge. Hazelnut butter on sunflower-seed butter would both work, too, particularly if you’re going the mashed pears route for the fruit content.
 You really do need to melt the chocolate. The recipe relies on re-solidified, well-incorporated chocolate to hold it together – as such, the chocoalte is acting as a binder for the rest of the ingredients. DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP.
 And by “cool” I mean “put it in the fridge, or even the freezer, if you need to.
Some of my favourite YA and Middlegrade books are about characters who say Yes. Meaning: characters who make choices and live by them, who dive in with their eyes open, who strive.
I am a fairly fearful person when you get right down to it. And fear is enough to keep me frozen in one spot far too long and far too easily.
I’m fearful right now, as it happens. The tarot reading I did for my birthday included the Tower card in the “future” position, and – while I think it might still wind up being A Good Thing – I am absolutely DREADING what it means. What’s going to crumble? What’s going to fall apart? I’m scared.
Scared enough that I put the pictures away and haven’t done a full-scale interpretation yet.
Scared that I’m going to lose someone I love (because isn’t that my deepest fear, right there?)
And yet… Yes.
Yes, because I’m still chasing ecstasy (in a two-steps forwards, one step back kind of way); still singing, however intermittently; still taking baby-step after baby-step towards fully practicing my polyamoury. Every tiny Yes makes the next one a little bit easier, every tiny Yes brings me closer to myself.
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
Xylos – as in “xylophone” and “xylitol” – is Greek for “wood”. So, yes friends, I’m talking about trees today. You do what you gotta. (It was that or reprising Xmas for another year).
We are edging towards the longest night of the year up here in the northern hemisphere, so it’s likely that at least some of you are putting up douglas firs (or imitations thereof) in your living rooms. I’ve got my Fake Spruce wreath on the door, and my Fake Holly garlands to string up and decorate as well.
But those aren’t (exactly) the trees I want to talk about today. Rather, I want to talk about trees in general, in the context of Getting To Know the Neighbours. What trees grow in your neighbourhood? Can you recognize them when their leaves have dropped? Can you recognize – to choose folks who live in my neighbourhood – hawthorn, crab apple, rowan, evans cherry, choke cherry, serviceberry, apple, maple, poplar, oak (to name a few) by their bark, by where they grow, by the way their branches bend (or don’t), fork (or don’t), angle (or don’t)? Do you pay attention to what flowers when, to which fruits you can eat (and which fruits you can’t)? Can you tell the difference between juniper and cedar? Can you recognize a Norwegian Spruce at all? Do you know how to tell a pine tree by its needles? How to recognize a waxberry (bayberry) or harvest the thick, white berry-covering and melt it into vegan-friendly candles?
Long Nights Moon is about to crest, and Snow Moon is on its way. Frost and fire, ice and stone. Do you know your neighbours when dressed in skin and bone?
Meliad the Birch Maiden
 Er… I don’t. I mean, I can recognize them, sure, but I haven’t tried to make candles with the wax yet at all. And, while I can usually spot a poplar (size), crab apple (shape of branches + shaggy bark), choke cherry (almost-weeping branches), and maple (bark… ish)… I certainly can’t recognize all of those trees.
Xanthra Phillipa MacKay. I never met her. Surprisingly, hadn’t even heard her name until she died in February of 2014. I went in to work one morning, and, when I asked my boss how he’d spent the previous evening, he said “Mourning”. I wrote a little bit about it here. Xanthra MacKay is, among many other things, an artist, a sexworkers’ rights activist, a poet, and dead.
In so many ways, she is my ancestor.
And, yes, I’m using her as an example because her name starts with X. This could have just as easily been titled “W is for Wendy Babcock”, “L is for Leslie Feinberg,” “M is for Maria Callas,” “S is for Sappho,” or “N is for Nizzi”. Just as we can choose our families, we can choose, or find, our ancestors as we go.
Del has a post on ancestors & beloved dead who are not blood-relatives, and this is, in part, whence this post of mine stems. It also stems from Kathryn Payne’s essay “Whores and Bitches Who Sleep With Women” (in Brazen Femme) wherein she asks her readers “Do you know your lineage?” and last October’s sacred desire ritual at Unholy Harvest wherein we had the opportunity to acknowledge our sex-radical forebearers – our queer and trans (and both), sexworking, and kinky chosen ancestors – our lineage.
My ancestors include my bio-relatives, for sure. When I burn candles for the ancestors, I burn them for the people who gave me my face, my skeleton, my skin. But I also burn them for the chosen family who came before. The sisters and grandmothers whom I never knew, but who showed me my reflection in their poetry, their stories. The aunties and uncles and cousins who put words around my queer, bloodsoaked desires and let me name them.
So here’s to my ancestors, the ones who bore me and the ones who brought me out.
Thinking of you always.
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
 A local leatherman we lost to suicide this past year.