Category Archives: gardening

New Moon – Apple Moon Begins (New Moon in Leo, Partial Solar Eclipse)

Crab apples, Malus sp. - Photo by Jonathan Billinger - Via Wikimedia Commons

Crab apples, Malus sp. – Photo by Jonathan Billinger
Via Wikimedia Commons
Close-up of deep red crab apples, ready to be picked.


 
I may be jumping the gun a little here, but there have been ripe apples falling off the trees between here and the Redeau river for weeks, so even if the crab apples aren’t quite (quite) ready to be picked by the grocery-bag-full yet (I will be testing this theory tomorrow, while doing The Laundry across from a bunch of city trees, so we’ll see) I’m going to go ahead and call this one Apple Moon.
 
I pulled a LOT of quack grass (and some crab grass) out of the raised beds today. Also, gave the bolting mustard and icicle radishes a bit of a hair cut. I want the seeds, but I also want the volunteer cherry tomatoes and the kale (or is it collards?) and chard to have some breathing room and light access. So a lot of it is now drying (like hay? Ish?) on a bed of as-yet-unflowered new dandelion growth in the hopes that it dries down before I chuck it in my compost heap.
For my efforts, I managed to find one (1) beautifully ripe yellow cherry tomato and one (1) undersized striped zucchini. (I also harvested a very, very woody icicle radish which I slivered – along with shredding the more delicate greens – and added to my current batch of “wild” (ish) fermented veggies.
It’s a start.
 
The veggie ferment, btw, is now in the fridge. It was smelling Not Great – as in “smells like saurkraut is supposed to smell but… also with an over-layer of Ewwwwww” – and putting it in a cooler environment will help the Good Bacteria take over from the not-so-great bacteria in a timely fashion.
 
I’ve got four at-home days coming up, and my plans include doing laundry (finally!), harvesting crab apples and/or heirloom red-fleshed apples (hopefully! If successful: also making crab apple jelly and/or apple butter), setting up a new batch of yoghurt in the instant pot, and digging a lot of sunchokes out of the other raised bed (Thanks, helpful squirrels! I so appreciate the way you replanted literally ALL of those…) with an eye to pickling them in big chunks with some garlic, ginger, and mustard seeds. Maybe some bird chilies as well.
We’ll see how this actually goes though, as the week progresses. I’ve got poetry to submit, word-counts (novel) and further poetry to write, and a couple of things to mend as well, so. We’ll do what we can.
 
I’ve run into a bit of a problem with the yoghurt. I’m not sure if I’m trying to culture too much milk with only half a cup of starter, or if I’m not mixing the starter in well enough, or if I’m over-heating the milk initially, or if I’m waiting too long to transfer the yoghurt to the fridge (unlikely), but… I’m winding up with “thick milk + lumpy bits” rather than the relatively smooth, definitely cultured-all-the-way-through yoghurt that I was initially getting. I’ll take a look around the internet and see what’s what, but if anyone reading this is recognizing the problem and knows how to solve it, do feel free to leave me a comment on the subject.
 
My sourdough bread is… getting more like the kind of bread I want it to be. Which is a good sign. It’s still not as dry as I’d like it to be… I’m not sure if that means I need to cook it for longer, or let it rise in the fridge over night (my current suspicion is the latter), but things went relatively well the last time I made bread, and I didn’t use any “booster yeast” (1/2 tsp of bread yeast added to the initial sponge), so that’s a good sign.
 
My wife and I are going to visit the Twist Fiber Festival in Saint-André-Avellin next weekend. There will be demos. There will be a food tent. There will be art exhibits. There will be a “mini farm” (which… is that like a petting zoo? Or an animal expo? I have no idea, but I’m looking forward to finding out). There will also be vendors and pay-to-register workshops, which I will be avoiding because I have very little cash but a HUGE yarn stash (by my standards) AND access to youtube tutorials. But the plan is, in addition to taking a day-trip, to pick up some manure compost (and maybe some bagged mulch?) and cart it all home where it will sit and do nothing until the fall.
 
My wife and I were chatting about the garden this morning. About how the food forests that I day-dream about are honestly waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay beyond my current scope. My approach to gardening is mostly to ask “What grows here anyway?” and try to make the most of it, coupled with an attempt at planting things so heavily that the plants I want (like rainbow chard or “dazzling blue” flat-leaf kale or zucchini or winter squash or tomatoes, or, or, or…) overpower and shade out the plants I don’t (quack grass, crab grass… actually, that’s about it).
And that technique isn’t really working right now. So I’m starting (and ending up super out of breath… not a good sign) to weed my raised beds a little more intensively, in the hopes of preventing another wild-grass take-over of my food-growing spaces. Here’s hoping I manage to do some good.
 
Oh. I did, indeed, try mixing up a batch of rhubarb wine. Specifically, I took half a batch of my ginger beer, added 2C frozen diced rhubarb, and 1/2 tsp of bread yeast, plus some honey, and let it go for a couple of weeks. Just yesterday I racked it (sort of) and topped it up with a handful of chokecherries (that I mashed and pitted) plus honey, pomegranate molasses, some water, and 1/4 tsp more yeast. I figure I’ll let that sit for another week or so, and then rack it again and shove it into the back of the fridge to age (“age”) for a while. Based on the smell, I’m expecting something that tastes predominantly ginger-y but with lots of fruity undertones. Fingers crossed!
 
On the astrological front. It’s Leo Season. Everybody’s going “Look at me! Look at me!” on some level. Lammas, the first harvest, was a little over a week ago (or about two weeks ago, if you’re doing the lunar version), the nights are getting longer, though the days are still long (and hot), and Eclipse Season is in full swing.
The thing about quarter/cross-quarter days is that, because they happen roughly six weeks apart, they make for good points of reflection.
Liz Worth, who tends to talk about Eclipse Cycles – the multi-year dovetailing of eclipses that chase each other across any specific two signs at opposite points on the zodiac wheel (when the sun, and therefore the new moon, are in one sign, the full moon will be in the other) – recently brought up that Leo and Aquarius are both very creative signs, but that they’re creative in different ways. That Leo wants self-expression and the spotlight (freedom TO), but that Aquarius wants freedom FROM old habits/behaviours/rules that don’t apply or that hold them back. Maybe it’s no surprise that having eclipse energy (transformation a-go-go) in both of these signs, one of-which overlays Imbolg (a time of germination, stretching, hopefulness, and hidden/underground changes) and one that overlays Lammas (a time of reaping what you’ve sown, but also a time for sowing a second crop of short-season, cold-weather-loving seeds. In other words: Building new plans and projects in places where you’ve already seen some results), means feeling the push to make things (changes, projects, splashes) happen in your life.
 
What were you starting to work towards back in February? Now’s a good time to check in with where those projects are at. What kind of results have you been seeing? What do you need to turn under vs what do you need to tend better? What can you build from here-on-in before the Last Harvest at Samhain spins us back into the Root Time of resting and dreaming underground?
Liz suggests the intention/affirmation of “I am ready for my next step”, and offers a related tarot spread to figure out what that might be (it’s at the link, above).
 
Horoscope-wise: Jessica Lanyadoo, over at Hoodwitch, informs me that “There is strength in your willingness to move slowly and with intention, Scorpio”, and reminds me not to rush those changes unless I actually want to haul the same old garbage along with me into my next stages (which… not so much). On a related note, Chani offers this affirmation-scope: “What I am beginning now will grow over the next six months. I confidently pour my energy into what I want to bloom and become. I spend time developing the projects that most reflect my values.” Miriam, courtesy of Radical Tarot’s Tarotscopes, offers this bit of (awkwardly on-the-nose…) encouragement to Scorpios like me:

Oh Scorpio, it’s been a torrential few months. You seemed to be pulled back, dragged through the past, reminded of hurts and anger from several years removed. But even just the past few days have found you realizing that this was more a bow-and-arrow situation, necessary tension building to propel you further than ever before, quite specifically in the direction of hitting the mark where it comes to your passion. […] The magic is in your hands, and pushing past your need to pull away and be secretive will really allow all of this to spark, catch, and take blaze with truly dazzling effects!

 
Which I guess brings me to my Tarot Card Meditation:

The Lovers - Tarot of the Silicon Dawn (Egypt Urnash): Three colourful, femme sweethearts circle each other, laughing and playful together.

The Lovers – Tarot of the Silicon Dawn (Egypt Urnash)
Three colourful, femme sweethearts circle each other, laughing and playful together.


 
On top of being explicitly queer (both in the art and in the write-up), this is one of the most marvelously, deliberately polyamourous Lovers cards I’ve had the pleasure of seeing. I’m delighted to have drawn it for today’s meditation.
It is – as I’m finding a lot of these meditation random-draws are – remarkably relevant to current personal events, and also to that tarotscope from Miriam.
I pulled the card reversed – so this is about me and how I related to lovers-type situations. My relationship with my own desire. My relationship with my own sexuality. My ability to give myself permission to want, and ask for, and experience pleasure when there are other people involved.
I can’t help wondering how deeply this relates to the draw I did when Rampion Moon was full, about creatively engaging in my web of relationships by being willing to take some risks.
 
~*~
 
Movement: Hours of walking, some week-yanking (read: squating for 15 minutes at a time… urgh), but not much else. Plans for later this week to go apple picking in the neighbourhood and out near Mud Lake.
 
Attention: Totally absorbed by my friend’s recently-launched debut novel. Also paying attention to what veggies and fruits I can forage, harvest, and/or buy on-the-cheap-because-in-season. Brought home 3kg each zucchini and roma tomatoes, most-of-which will end up in the freezer, one way or another, for use in stews and pastas over winter.
 
Gratitude: Grateful for the rain that is still falling. For running water and a neighbour who lets me use her hose. Also grateful that said neighbour periodically hands us bags of snap beans or whole fuzzy melons from her much-more-prolific-than-ours garden. Grateful that I know what wild greens I can eat. Grateful for the apple trees that grow across from my laundromat. Grateful for upcoming work that has not been canceled (I had a bit of a scare last Friday but, while my next long-ish office booking has been shortened, I’m only losing two days, which is a BIG relief!). Grateful for a wife who loves me, and says so often. For a metamour who brings us corn on the cob and coconut oil and lends us her car so that her girlfriend (aka my wife) and I can go on day-trips together. Grateful for a second radish crop. For thriving rainbow chard (at last!). For my first home-grown zucchini EVAR and for the first tiny cherry tomato of my year.
 
Inspiration: The above-mentioned debut novel, and the woman who wrote it <3. A rejection letter from a paid market that was, none the less, very encouraging. My wife, who is quite the bad-ass and an astonishing wiz at fixing unfamiliar analogue machinery.
 
Creation: Making some progress on the spite-novel (aiming to make some more progress this Wednesday) and also on the knitted tank top. Made a batch of offering-candles today (beeswax + lard. We’ll see how they do). Plans to make some super-dangling rainbow earrings over the next few days as well.
 
 
Cheers,
Meliad.

Full Moon – Berry Moon Crests

On the left, a tall, 2L glass jar covered with a white and green striped cloth, half-full of beige glop (my sourdough starter). On the right, a blue ceramic cereal bowl full of ripe, dark blue service berries. In the background, the grain of a thick, wooden chopping board.

On the left, a tall, 2L glass jar covered with a white and green striped cloth, half-full of beige glop (my sourdough starter). On the right, a blue ceramic cereal bowl full of ripe, dark blue service berries. In the background, the grain of a thick, wooden chopping board.


 
The moon shifted into Capricorn today. My bee balm and day lilies are getting ready to bloom, the cherries are turning bright, lipstick red, and the service berries are RIPE!
I went out this morning and harvested a bunch – lots still not-quite-there, too, so (weather permitting) I’ll be able to go out again on Friday and harvest another litre or so.
Half of today’s lot (also about a litre) are in the freezer already, while the other half are pictured above in a cereal bowl next to my sourdough starter.
 
Which, also: I’m trying to do a sourdough starter again.
It’s… going better than last time, but… still kind of iffy? It smells VERY boozy, and there’s a pervasive scent of cooked broccoli that I originally thought was coming from the sourdough jar but which… might be coming from somewhere else. (Which is distressing in its own right… do I have a glob of rotting mustard greens somewhere in the kitchen that I can’t see?? Is there a dead mouse hiding somewhere out of reach? Ugh…)
Anyway. Regardless, I’m trying to do sourdough again.
Part of me is seriously going “Why? Don’t you have enough fermented stuff to look after?” Because being able to make bread in a couple of hours (as opposed to the 12+ hours it – in theory – takes to do sourdough once you’ve got a starter actually up and running[1]) is really nice. Especially for someone like me who routinely forgets to take things out of the freezer to thaw in a timely manner. >.>
BUT I’d still like to see if I can make this happen. I like the thought of having… I guess you’d almost call it a back-up plan? In case we have a tighter-than-usual month AND run out of bottled yeast at the same time.
Besides, the thought of being able to make, like, yeast-raised shortcake or yeast-raised coffee cake or whatever just kind of appeals to me. I want to give it a go. 😉
 
Anyway. As I said, I went out to pick service berries today. Chatted with a couple of old guys about them. (It’s funny, women almost NEVER ask me about them. They just notice what I’m doing and, if we make eye-contact, they give The Nod. But dudes? Every. Time). One of them told me about being born in the bush and how his parents would dig up wild horseradish and wild garlic, and said it was nice to see people still doing that stuff.
Which, y’know, was very nice to hear. I still don’t want to go visit him at his “house of the lord”, but hey. I assume he meant well by the invitation.
 
I’ve got a bit of a cucumber beetle infestation happening out on my squash crop – like ALL of them. Buttercups, zucchini, AND cucumbers. Not sure about the butternut squash, but it’s not flowering yet, so who knows. I kind of want to spray everything with soapy water, but I don’t even know if that will act as a deterrent or if I just have to go out there with a chopstick covered in something sticky and keep picking them off.
Alas, probably the latter.
I’m hoping that I still get some zukes and cukes and winter squash off my vines, though. Fingers crossed they everything gets pollinated and that the cute-but-desctructive baby squirrels stop eating the fruiting flowers!
Those motherfuckers.
 
ANYWAY. I have my first harvest of cilantro (a very few fronds) sitting in a mason jar vase in the fridge. I watered the garden today, even though it’s supposed to thunder down rain in short order (and I can see the clouds building from where I’m typing this), because they frankly needed the drink and a little bit extra isn’t going to hurt them. This is the point in the year when my micro-bio-region comes into its “yummy season”, as a friend of mine calls it. We’re still mostly eating just greens (and rhubarb, although that, too, is a leaf-stem, so…) from the garden, along with the occasional snow pea or radish root. I have no idea if any of the fruiting flowers on my squash plants have been successfully fertilized yet, so I’ll have to wait a bit and see. And/or start hanging out in the back yard around 7am with a makeup brush and doing the bees’ duty for them, which might work. But here’s hoping for a fruitful fruiting season in my back yard and beyond!
 
With that in mind, I did today’s tarot card meditation, by pulling two cards and asking myself “How can I cultivate more abundance in my life?”
 
The Chevalier of Swords and the Nine of Swords from the Tarot of the Silicon Dawn.

The Chevalier of Swords and the Nine of Swords from the Tarot of the Silicon Dawn.


 
I have to tell you, I was not expecting to pull a couple of swords out of that deck.
The suit of swords is the suit of air. Of thought processes, “old tapes”, black-and-white thinking, logic, and decision-making.
So my first reaction – or maybe second… after “Wuh??” – was “Oh. Change your thinking“.
If this is a “Who do I need to be? How do I need to be?” duo (I thiiiiiiink that’s one of Asali’s practices, but I might be mis-remembering), this is how it goes:
 
The Knight of Air is decisive. Sometimes that means she flies off the handle, sees enemies everywhere, or springs into action based on the lies in her head, rather than the truths or the facts. Other times, she’s the opposite: Witty and clever, but thoughtful enough to put her feelings on a shelf rather than letting them lead her all over the place.
If “who I need to be” to cultivate more abundance in my life is the Knight of Swords, I think I need to be the second version. I know I tend to get sucked into scarcity thinking and I routinely have to remind myself, when I’m having a hard day emotionally, that no, actually, the story in my head is WRONG and I do, in fact, have friends, have people in my life who love me and check in on me and will support me if I need it.
 
Which brings me to the Nine of Air.
This card has come up before. It’s the “Lying awake at night, can’t sleep for worrying” card. A card about betrayal. A card about “Everything is awful and I don’t know what to do”. Cristy C Road says, of this card, “Rest and grieve, but stay alert to old fears grabbing at your mind. […] Let vulnerability be your strength”.Egypt Urnash – who did the art and the write-up for the deck I drew these cards from – says “take help when it’s offered”… (there may not actually be enemies everywhere).
If “How I have to be [the knight of swords]” is the nine? I think that means I have to allow for some tenderness, some feelings. Be logical, but don’t cut yourself off from your emotions. Think things through, ask “where is this coming from”, rather than assuming that the thought you’re spiraling on is the only accurate way to look at a situation. Recognize when you need a hand (and when one’s being offered), rather than being arrogant/perfectionist about Doing It All Yourself (or having to).
 
~*~
 
Movement: Ha. Well, I spent a couple of hours walking slowly around the neighbourhood, bending fruit-heavy branches down to where I could reach them, and harvesting berries. So that’s definitely some movement going on. Beyond that, there’s been some garden-tending including putting up a trellis for the cucumbers to climb (so far, they’re barely noticing it, but I keep re-directing them and hopefully they’ll grab hold soon) and turning the compost again.
 
Attention: A lot of my attention has been focused on the living things around me. Checking the cukes and zukes for cucumber beetles (and crushing those little bastards), watching the service berries for signs that they’re ripe enough to harvest. Squinting at my sourdough starter, stirring it up, and squinting again, wondering if I’m actually seeing signs of bubbly life or not.
 
Gratitude: Thankful for a garden that feeds us. For a city that decided “Hey, these fruit-producing trees thrive on neglect! And the birds will eat the fruit, so we mostly don’t have to clean up after them, either! Yes! Let’s plant them everywhere!” and planted a lot of food trees in my neighbourhood. Thankful for long-time clients who hire me for week-long bookings that allow me to pay the rent during the summers, when work is kind of scarce. Thankful for a wife who talks me through panic. Thankful for being able to sleep for eleven hours when I needed to. Thankful for tomatoes forming on the vines, and for the friends who gave me their extra tomato plants in the first place. Thankful for the smell of roses. For the peony my friend gave me years ago, and for it finally blooming (first time ever!) a couple of days ago. Thankful for light but steady rain. Thankful for the enormous double rainbow that lit up the sky last weekend (Happy Pride, people who aren’t in Ottawa). Thankful for small birds and art and hot baths and massage bars. Thankful for friends who want to hang out. Thankful for easy strolls to the park with my wife. Thankful for the smell of dill and cilantro and garlic scapes (all recently picked in the garden) clinging to my hands.
 
Inspiration: Re-reading Cooked by Michael Pollan is definitely what inspired me to try making a sourdough starter again. Beyond that, I’ll be attending a book launch tomorrow (Thursday) evening, and feminist writers’ panel discussion on Saturday night, and I fully expect both of those to be inspiring as heck. I’ll be bringing my notebook. (And also money for poetry books).
 
Creation: Picked up my knitting again. I’ve almost got all the stitches for that cotton tank top picked up, so soon I’ll be in the wonderful spot (again) where all I have to do is Knit For Ever and I’ll eventually have a shirt. (I mean, okay, yes, there’s going to be some cabling in there and some increases that I’m hoping to make look a bit like something lacy (hahaha), and holes for something like sleeves (not actual sleeves, but… ish). ALSO! I started playing around with some ideas for a YA novel. Which is, tbh, basically “spite fic”. But it’s 4000 or so words of magical baby-queer dream-woo spite fic, already, so I’m going with it. Also, while this isn’t exactly “creation”, I have been sending out poetry submissions to various magazines – I’ve got one or two more to do in the next couple of days, mind you – and I’m proud of that. Onwards!

Full Moon – Melt-Water Moon Crests (Spring Equinox, Venus in Taurus)

I’ve been Spring Cleaning.
To some extent anyway.
I talked on twitter, the other day, about turning about turning the compost and the Ceremonial Piping On of The Manure from my childhood in New Brunswick. How doing that little bit of preliminary, seasonal garden maintenance was a sign that Spring had sprung.
I put the Solstice decorations away, that same day. Washed a lot of dishes. Noticed that the rhubarb was crowning.
Maybe it’s because Venus just moved into Taurus (the planet of material goods, sensuality, and beauty moving into the sign of Home, sensuality, tenderness, and all the pleasures life has to offer, whose ruler she is), or maybe it’s because it’s finally warm enough out to open the windows and let a breeze through the place, but my wife and I have both been feeling the call to Clean All The Things.
 
I’m relieved that the rent is in the bank, and has been since last week (good thing, too, since I didn’t have a lot of work booked for the second half of March), so I’ve been using the quiet days I’ve been given to putter around the house, slowly tidying and putting things away.
It feels like a solid week since I wrote a poem. That’s not a bad thing. Ebbs and flows are real and necessary. I feel like this is a recharging time, however brief it’s going to be.
We’re heading into Eat From the Larder Month, and getting the kitchen in order – especially with a week+ of full time work kicking off in a few more days – is a pretty high priority right now. Besides, getting the place a bit tidier – clean sheets on the bed, laundry done, lots of counter space to work from in the kitchen – is good for my brain. I’m already feeling more relaxed than I was two days ago when I started this little project.
 
It’s pretty cloudy out right now, so I can’t see much of the full moon. None the less – and even though the bath tub is still full of sheets[1] – I feel like I’m having a bit of a pause-for-breath moment right now. My wife is away for the weekend, visiting her partner who’s house-sitting for an out-of-town friend. I’m treating myself to a glass of shiraz and an indulgent read of a favourite piece of fanfic.
Tomorrow, there’ll be bread (and maybe muffins) to bake, kombucha to decant, vacuuming and sweeping up on the main floor, and an Easter dinner to get to at my mom’s place. But for now, I’m enjoying the quiet.
I’m also enjoying the different kind of creative that comes with home-keeping. The methodical rhythm of making yeast dough, cooling green and hibiscus teas for the kombucha, slow-roasting veggies in the oven, meal planning, putting books back on shelves, darning socks and knitting new garments one stitch at a time.
It’s like a reset button.
I know I can’t do this 100% of the time. Partly because constant entropy of Doing The Dishes feels more like drudgery than the in-and-out breath of a functioning kitchen. And partly because I need to make money (fingers crossed that Venus In Taurus will help me get some extra work booked for April, particularly on the Mars in Leo front, if you can believe it). But also because I need to take the gentle four-on-the-floor beat of a house’s steady heart and turn it into poetry, stories, crafting, the kind of creativity that produces something other than necessities.
 
With that in mind, maybe it’s not surprising that the card I pulled for my Tarot Card Meditation was the King of Fire.
 

The Creator (King of Wands) A bald person in flowing red robes holds a glowing energetic light between their hands

The Creator (King of Wands)
A bald person in flowing red robes holds a glowing energetic light between their hands


 
Otherwise known as the Mentor of Keys, the Visionary of Branches, and the Throne of Fire, the King of Wands is a glamourous artiste who dares to stand out and to stand by their creative work. Enthusiastic and innovative, this joyful, passionate art freak is bold enough (and vain enough) to take risks, take action, try something new, and put themself on display.
 
As someone who’s been making a point of submitting poetry to magazines for… four months now, this is pretty relevant to my interests. It’s a reminder to keep at that, keep working on my two in-progress manuscripts, and keep being brave and sending stuff out (without getting too demoralized when the rejection letters periodically come in).
The King of Wands is ALSO Venus in Sagittarius. Carefree, playful, happy to have built-in boundaries like geographical distance or time-bound scenes in place. This is also relevant to my interests, if only because my Venus is in Sagittarius (however-much I may act like my sun sign where the heart is concerned). It’s a reminder to play, to make time for dates with my wife and flirtations (that might or might not go anywhere) with new people.
 

~*~
 
Movement: The usual Walking Everywhere, a couple of modeling gigs that focused on Very Short poses (2 minutes or less, for 2+ hours… it’s like doing power yoga or something), but also the addition of Get Bendier stretches to my weekly routine. Monday mornings (usually) I do a few gravity-friendly stretches to help build core/lower-back muscle (like, more than just plank) and stretch the tendons in my legs. I’d like to try learning Areal Hooping (I picked that link because she’s tall… ish), and part of that means developing a little more flexibility in my legs than I currently have. Beyond that, I’m looking forward to going dancing a little over a week from now.
 
Attention: Generally speaking, I’ve been paying attention to the mess of my house and making an effort to un-mess it. It’s working, and I feel better because of it. Also, the fact that the rhubarb is coming up again has most-definitely not escaped my attention.
 
Gratitude: For the rhubarb crowning. For warm days walking with no mitts, my jacket open and my hair down. For discount foundation at the drug store. For a morning date with my wife before she left for her weekend away. For friends who will lend me gardening equipment that I don’t personally own. For lemon-pie flavoured yoghurt on sale at the health food store where I went to get yeast (twice, because I forgot the first time). For a strong body that can carry heavy loads home from the grocery store. For beautiful, beloved trans and cis baby queers being their wonderful, creative, resilient selves in the face of every hardship – you give me so much hope and joy. For a breeze from the open window. For clean sheets on the bed and clean dishes in the dish rack. For unexpected door prizes. For queer femme excitement and encouragement wrt my Femme Glosa Project. For a very full larder to draw on for the next month. For a patient landlord. For gig-employers who try to find extra work for me. For the rent already being in the bank. For the smell of humid, thawing earth, crocus leaves already poking through the topsoil. For quiet nights spent reading. For the chance to go dancing in big, fancy shoes. For a tiny bird, and a big lady, and a lot of friends who love me. ❤
 
Inspiration: I’m still working on femme glosas (hit 30 poems, not too long ago!) and attending VERSeFest on a night when two queer femmes – Kama La Mackerel and Rasiqra Revulva – were performing DEFINITELY helped on that front. I’m also working (still) on my moon-inspired chapbook, and trying to take honest inspiration from my own life, rather than being vague or trying to be “deep” or “shocking” about stuff.
 
Creation: See above, re: poetry. I’ve also finished the waistband of my eventual hand-knit thank-top/shell, and have started picking up the stitches for knitting in the round. I’ve got something like 400 stitches still to pick up, but I’ve technically started Part Two, and I feel good about that. I’ve also got Plans to make bread (and maybe muffins) and start a ferment of shiitake mushrooms (dried and reconstituted, to be fermented in salt water with thyme and garlic) tomorrow. It’s all creativity in some form or another. Wish me luck.
 
 
Cheers,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
 
 
[1] I finally got around to soaking some stained sheets in vinegar and salt water, which I’m hoping will help get them properly clean. Beyond that, I’m not sure what to do, since bleach isn’t much of an option for colourful stuff. Suggestions welcome. >.>

I’m Almost Forty – A (not so) “Productive Home” Post

If you’re wondering why I picked that title, it’s because I’m turning 38 this Tuesday. Now You Know.
 
Anyway.
Erica, over at NWedible, is doing a Productive Home Weekly Report thing, and has invited people to chime in with their own productivity reports.
I’m… not totally fussed about tracking productivity. It feels a bit like giving myself a performance review. BUT, if I think of it as an opportunity to brag about the awesome-fun-cool stuff I’ve been doing/planting/harvesting/cooking/baking/canning/fermenting/etc chez moi that I’m really excited about… it gets a whole lot easier.
So here we go.
 
As you may have noticed (or not) I haven’t done one of these since, oh, mid-July. I haven’t been hugely productive on the home-front in the intervening almost-four months.
I put my kefir grains in the fridge, in a pint jar of cream, to slow them down because I finally admitted to myself that I don’t love my home-made dairy kefir and, while it’s good when it’s thick enough to use as a sour-cream substitute in baking, it’s mostly a lot runnier and I just wasn’t going through a litre of the stuff every 4-7 days so… I’ve put it into hibernation mode and am hoping that the slower pace will let me keep feeding it (rather than letting it get over-fermented, moldy, or infested with fruit-flies… all of which have happened over the past summer) without getting “overwhelmed”.
I haven’t made bread (or much other baking) from scratch in a long time, either. I think I made cookies a couple of times, and that’s about it.
I… oh, heaven and earth, I think it’s actually snowing outside. O.O
 
Okay.
So you wanna know what I have done?
I pulled in as many green tomatoes as I could swing (a couple of weeks ago, when frost started threatening), and TODAY I dug up my jerusalem artichokes (as’kebwan’), which are now sitting in a full (if small-sized – ~2 gallons) recycling bin on my kitchen counter, waiting to be washed, blanched and frozen (that’s tomorrow’s job).
 
I put up something like 2 dozen pints of crushed tomatoes (Labour Day weekend, or there-abouts). Made choke-cherry curd, choke-cherry relish, and goblin fruit jam (also heavy on the choke cherries, big surprise).
 
I packed all the Supplies from Unholy Harvest into rubbermaid bins (which my wife then moved to the basement – hurrah, I have my main floor back and it feels so good), which was a good thing because our basement got 5″ of water in it during a big rainstorm earlier this week. (It’s fine. It’s a concrete floor on top of limestone, so the water just seeps in, no sewer contamination involved, thank goodness. And my lovely wife got the sump pump running in short order, so everything’s dried out pretty well).
 
I spent a canning day with a friend in Gatineau, making strawberry-rhubarb jam (last weekend, or maybe the weekend before?) while also pressure-canning eight pints of chick peas (my first time using a pressure canner, and I suspect I’m hooked. Looking into a membership at the Ottawa Tool Library so I can borrow the one they have on the shelves and do this multiple times per year).
 
I started a couple of new knitting projects this week as well. The first is a “safety shawl” (neon pink and pale turquoise stripes, the turquoise is going to have glow-in-the-dark beads looped into it) for walking after dark in Winter. The goal is to speedy-knit this using big needles and twisted (double-wrapped) stitches, so that I can have it done before next New Moon. The second is a cotton tank top. Which starts out looking like a really skinny cotton scarf and gets built upon from there. That one’s not the priority project, but I’m still excited about it.
 
Beyond that? Lighting my altars, making offerings at Samhain (and finally freaking switching the wreath on my door to “autumn leaves” instead of “tulips and lilacs”…), working on glamour magic stuff, getting a bit back into the swing of doing Fabulous Friday Dinners. Checking in with a lot of people. Re-homing furniture and small appliances to people setting up new places. Having breakfast with my mom. All sorts of stuff.
 
Anyway. My lovely wife is home, so it’s time to throw some dinner (left-over braised chicken thighs with root veggies, dried cranberries, and garden kale) in the oven to heat up, so off I go. 🙂
 
 
– TTFN,
– Meliad the Birch Maiden.

New Moon – Frost Moon Begins (Scorpio Season)

Hey, kittens,
 
Apple Moon crested just as Unholy Harvest was kicking off, and now it’s two weeks later and here we are. Over thanksgiving weekend, I was part of a Leather Covering Ceremony, hosted a bunch of lovely out-of-town guests, had a long heart-to-heart with a friend from south of the border, and (wait for it) baked two turkeys. One of them, I striped entirely for parts, and the other (while some pieces are now in the freezer as well) has been supplying our dinners with protein since it came out of the oven. Cash allowing, I’m going to do this again in late December, because having some pre-cooked, pre-shredded/diced critter in the freezer has saved us a LOT of trouble when everyone is hungry, including the cook, and there’s not a lot of time or brains to pull something filling together.
 
Right now, the bones of those two turkeys, plus a couple of chicken carcasses and – I think – maybe a ham bone(?), are simmering on the stove to make what I hope will be an excellent, thick stock. I’ve also got my steamer full of diced eggplant (going in the freezer) and a bowl of green tomatoes waiting to be turned into chutney. (There was a rumour that the temperature was dropping to -3C last night, so I pulled all my tomato vines down. It doesn’t look like we got a real frost, BUT I don’t mind being that much closer to having the garden put to bed, so).
 
I had a bit of a zucchini emergency. Not the kind where you have too many and need to foist them off on your friends (alas! One day!) but the kind where you (meaning I) stock up on late-season summer squash just before the house-guests descend upon you (me), and then ignore them for two weeks, having left them on a shelf in their grocery bag, rather than putting them in your (my) already over-stuffed fridge. >.>
Four zucchini rotten enough to be poured into the compost heap.
Granted, four yellow summer squash are just fine, and all of the eggplant and garlic in the same bag is salvageable. BUT that’s why I’m freezing one-cup portions of blanched, diced eggplant right now, and making pickled garlic in the next 24 hours.
 
In less great news: I did not get the job I applied for. I was apparently a strong candidate, which is good to hear, but not the best fit. I’ll live. And, with any luck, something better will come along quickly. But right now – between the supply back-up at the harness factory and the teachers’ strike at Algonquin – my employment front is looking a little bit sparse. So, fingers crossed that the phone starts ringing soon. At least I picked up a new reception client, which is helping! 🙂
 
On the more Woo end of things:
I finally picked up candles!
I stopped making beeswax candles …a while… ago, because my wax-melting pot has a teflon coating, and teflon off-gasses something that will kill birds. And we have four little birds in our house, and I want them happy and alive. So no more candle-making until I find myself a cheap and serviceable steel pot with a spout.
I’ve been filling my candle tins with oil, most recently (I’ve also used bacon grease), but find that it tends to set off the smoke alarm. SO! I got a bag of big tealights that should do the trick in the mean time, and my gods will be a little bit better fed.
 
As I said in the subject-heading for this post, it’s Scorpio Season – or will be as of Sunday (though the new moon is, itself, moving from Libra into Scorpio this coming Thursday, and both Mercury and Jupiter are dipping into it already).
Chani suggests that this lunar cycle is a good time to “shake loose from our lives what keeps us out of balance” and urges us to “stay with the desires that may have been tucked away for fear of being judged, rejected or abandoned”.
Her horoscopes for me say:
Rising: “Creativity is its own reward. It is no means to an end. It is the entire journey.”
Moon: “I take the invitation to understand myself in new ways, envisioning new possibilities for my own resilience. Envisioning a new way of understanding how to utilize all have been given. Envisioning inventive ways in which to get my needs met. Meeting myself where I am at.”
Sun: “I know that parting with the past is a process. I know that taking steps forward sometimes means I need to revisit what has held me back. I know that revelations take time to adjust to. New feelings need time to connect to. Learning what to do with what awakens within me is an ongoing practice. I’m allowed to be learning.”
 
Liz Worth suggests that we “use this New Moon to set an intention for kindness and compassion, but try to turn it on yourself first”, and offers a tarot spread on the subject of balance and honesty.
…Which I haven’t done, but which might be a good idea. That said, I HAVE been playing with my Silicon Dawn tarot, trying to get to know it a bit (it’s one of the Weird Decks that has a bunch of extra cards and has switched some of the elements around) while also trying to sort out, well, problems I’m not sure how to solve (nothing major, just… unfamiliar territory). I’m enjoying the deck.
 
~*~
 
Movement: A lot of walking. A lot of walking in heels (not even very high heels) resulting in my hip and lower back being more than a little annoyed at me. None the less, looking forward to dancing on Saturday night. Also looking into the (slim) possibility of snagging a pool membership for the local community center, so that I can hit up the hot tub on the regular and do some low-impact exercise while it’s cold.
 
Attention: Strictly speaking, I’m not paying as much attention as I should be. I’ve been cleaning out old (expired) supplies today, clearing out rotten food from the kitchen, and generally trying to get on top of the mess of my house… and it’s not going well. It seems like I’m knocking something over or otherwise getting things a bit messy every time I turn around.
 
Gratitude: The unexpected tax refund that will cover our November rent. My wife (just generally). My wife telling me she’s nuts about me and reminding me that kindness is a decision that someone makes, it’s not just something that people do auto-magically, and that she knows I make that decision consistently (which was really good to hear). Friends who bring me squash soup and home-made lasagna, or chocolate and fancy cheese from far-flung locals. Friends who tell me I make them feel welcome, or that I’m really dedicated, or that I make the world a better place. Hot baths. A functional furnace. Neighbours who bring me vegetables. The local sex shop that (re!) stocks my chapbooks. Chocolate with sea salt. Small good things every day. ❤
 
Inspiration: Right now? Not tonnes. Though I’m still using astrology, tarot, and the wheel of the year to inform my poetry. I’m looking forward to hitting up a local reading series tomorrow night, so that I can try performing my work again (first time in TWO YEARS!) and see… how people feel about it. How I feel about it. Fingers crossed my stuff goes over well!
 
Creation: Still working on my femme glosa project. Also composing non-glosa formal poems (a sonnet and ghazal, so far) with the intention of submitting them to a magazine at the end of the year. Plus all this canning that I’m doing at the moment. >.>

Full Moon – Zucchini Moon Crests (Lunar Eclipse in Aquarius) and Wanes

So, as will surprise nobody, I wrote this up about two weeks ago, when the moon was actually full, but am only getting around to posting it now – practically on the eve of both a new moon AND a solar eclipse.
Bear with me, folks.
 
~*~
 
Hey there!
So my own zucchini are doing NOTHING and my cucumber vine shrived and died. Meaning (again) I’m getting all my cukes and zukes from the grocery store and/or the farmer’s market this year.
NBD, but I’m looking forward to a time when I’m inundated with squash-type garden-fresh produce to the point where I’m calling my friends, friends-of-friends, and local soup-kitchens going “Can I offer you these grocery bags of home-grown zucchini? I have plenty to share!” ‘Cause that would be AWESOME.
My pumpkins seem to be doing nicely though, so there’s that. And my beans are just about ready to harvest! 😀
 
A friend of mine says that everyone she knows is a mess right now, so maybe my heightened anxiety stuff is just… Something’s in retrograde or something? I don’t even know.
 
Hoodwitch says “Eclipse season is about the powerful flow of feels”, so maybe that’s it. She also says “Be prepared to confront your ugly bits with compassion and strength.” And “strive to act in ways that reflect your integrity”, and advises (me, as a Scorpio, at least) to “Get grounded into the here and now so that you can notice if you’re reacting to something presently happening versus something tugging at your heart.”
 
Relevant.
 
Chani Says:
“Monday’s lunar eclipse will help you heal.
Whatever issues are in need of it. Whatever dynamics need dealing with. When you find that you need help letting something from your past go, ask for guidance. Ask for help. Ask for what you need to move forward in peace.
Mercury’s retrograde will be asking you to review your social roles, commitments and communications.”
 
So… That’s a thing. Not the Mercury Retrograde thing – that happens, what, four times a year? Easily?
No, I mean the OTHER thing.
 
You know how The Moon handles intuitive stuff, but it also handles repeating patterns?
 
Well, I’ve been having Feels (and Thoughts) about repeating patterns in relationships. How a shitty thing my brother said to me, about 20 years ago, is still rebounding around my psyche setting off tremors.
 
They only like you ‘cause you give them things.
 
This stuff came up during my life-coaching, last year. Stuff about feeling like I’m starting out all relationships (romances, friendships, you name it) “in the hole” or “owing” the other person just because they deigned to hang out with me. But I’ve also noticed a pattern (how 17 years later…) wherein all but one Person I’ve Dated has been relying on me for financial support and… I’m starting to wonder how to stop that from happening in future. Like, it’s one thing to be on Team Us and do what needs doing, but it’s another thing to notice that “team us” as actually been “us” not “team other person”… once? And that, given my history, that was probably by luck not by design. More second chakra crap, I suspect. :-/
 
On a (marginally? sort of?) related note: The Queens!
 
What really struck me about the descriptions in that link was the part wherein the Queen of Earth knows how to do SELF-care, and specifically because of that is ALSO able to do community care like a boss. I’ve always read it the other way around. Like, I start out learning how to take care of other people and… eventually this turns into me being able to take care of myself? Something?
 
Little Red Tarot has this to say about Aquarius Full Moon, btw: “During this Full Moon, we can’t not think about the collective, for one of the archetypes of Aquarius, the water bearer, is one that serves the collective. The Sun is in the sign of Leo, which is ruled by the Sun, the sign of the self. Here we are, trying to rise up into our best selves that can weave the most dangerously compassionate, enduring, uniquely creative webs into the world.”
 
Balancing what I need with what other people need.
 
This shouldn’t be so hard. :-\
 
~*~
 
Movement: Not nearly enough! BUT I did get to throw knives with a neighbourhood femme friend last weekend, which involved lots of throwing (which – unexpectedly – was good for my messed up back) and also lots of squatting (not so much – ow, my knees and hips), so I’ll definitely call that a work-out. 😀
 
Attention: As I said in my Lammas post, I’m trying to get my glam game back on track. Can I just say how utterly frustrating/irritating it is to be fighting up hill against a whole wodge of conditioning that says “keep yourself small (Ha! At 6’4” – that’s gonna work) and unnoticeable, and you won’t get hurt”. Holy crap, is that ever hard! But that’s the current project, so…
 
Gratitude: Having a spare room to offer a friend who needs some short-term crash space AND having on-hand the kind of food that it’s safe for her to eat. Getting to go for a motorbike ride with my wife, enjoying the breeze and stopping to look at the river for a bit. Such a lovely evening out! Having friends I can count on when I need to get things off my chest. Having friends who are game to sit down and do Writing Date stuff with me (and also give me feedback on my work!!!). Graeful for other witchy femmes (and non-femmes, tbh, but in particular the femmes) for just being visible and present and being My People. Grateful for a pumpkin vine with what looks like a solid two pumpkins developing rapidly! Grateful for being able to put chard up in the freezer, and for the week of work that’s let me restock on a LOT of kitchen staples (flour, tinned tuna, baking powder, and lots of other stuff) after running on empty for too long! Grateful for Pride Season arriving in Ottawa, for all the nifty things there are to do, and the way everyone’s turning their queer-viz up just a notch. It’s so great to see. ❤
 
Inspiration: Other witchy femmes, zomygoats! Whether it’s poetry, or seeing them get published, or running into them and chatting with each other, or even just SEEING US AROUND, it never fails to lift up my day and remind me (a) who My People are, and (b) give me a reason to keep being visible (keep working on my poetry and prose, keep blogging, keeping dressing to be spotted, keep being brave and putting my social self out there)! ❤
 
Creation: Have been pushing at The Novel again – sorting out some of the skeletal issues and plotting out the last quarter of the story. It’s, uh… I’m going to have to cut out a solid one, probably two, sub-plots (which will help drop the first third of the book down to manageable work-count size), but… I seem to be hitting my beats somewhat correctly in spite of that? Which is nice to see? Also, I have a knitting date semi-arranged, so maybe I’ll get some more work done on those stocking extensions. 😀

Full Moon – Berry/Rose Moon Crests

Hey kittens,
 
So it’s been a while.
Can I tell you I’ve been feeling “distracted” for years? Like, very briefly, before we moved into our lovely new house (back in September 2014), I felt like I kind of had a handle on things, and I’ve been feeling like I’m playing Catch-Up ever since? I don’t know where this feeling is coming from. I mean, probably? Probably it’s a mix of scrabbling for money and the decrease in “free” time (and brain space) that comes with that.
Or maybe it’s something else.
I don’t know.
 
What I DO know is that my wife and I went on a Laundry Date today (yes, we have a washer and dryer, courtesy of a generous couple of friends; no, we haven’t re-arranged our own – somewhat-mousey, ugh – basement so that we can carry them downstairs and hook them up) chez the Laundromat.
We went for a motorcycle ride the other day. Can I tell you how amazing it is to have a vehicle again? Evne one that won’t keep you warm and dry, it still gets us to work in 15 minutes and lets us go away for the odd weekend, which is AMAZING.
 
I put in another in-ground garden bed yesterday. Planted rescue-cucumbers (discounted to $0.54 at the Loblaws, and probably not getting watered anymore) and a rescue zucchini, plus transplanted a few cucuberits (one cucumber, two… probably pumpkins? Not sure…) into the same bed and sprinkled bone meal around all of them.
I can’t say I’m super-hopeful about any of them taking off. That family doesn’t like having its roots disturbed, plus the super-market starts had been neglected for a while and it’s not like my yard is super-amazing in terms of soil nutrients. Mostly what grows in the ground is (a) self-seeded mustard greens, (b) dandelions, (c) cats’ ears, (d) yarrow, and (e) creeping charlie. Stuff that feeds lightly and/or has hella tap-roots. But, frankly, I have fertilizer (well, bone and blood meal) and I’m not afraid to use it.
 
On the more more hopeful end of things, I’ve pulled out most of the bolted mustard and radishes (few of which ever developed big, juicy roots, ’cause apparently they don’t like being transplanted either) and my chard now has a LOT more space. I’m hoping that between the additional breathing room and the on-going heavy rains (and sunshine, every now and then!), I will get myself some very healthy chard and kale… right up until November. Fingers crossed!
Likewise:
I seem to have one jalapeno pepper (so far), one eggplant (so far), three beefsteak tomatoes, one roma tomato, and a TONNE of cherry tomatoes slowly developing as actual fruit. I am hopeful that things will continue in this vein! 😀
We are continuing to get LOTS of herbs (sage, cilantro, apple mint, winter savoury, and garlic scapes, all of which I’m harvesting. The lemon balm and the peppermint seem to be doing nicely as well, but I won’t be harvesting them (much) this year, so that they can get well-established). The French Sorrel seems to be doing nicely, too, though I would still like to get some Leaf Sorrel (MUCH bigger leaves) added to the mix.
 
I harvested raspberries from the alley this morning! I still haven’t gone out to pick service berries. I honestly don’t know if I will. Part of me wants to, and part of me is all “Meh. I haven’t actually used up the ones from last year yet…” so… not sure. But if I do, I need to do it THIS WEEK or I’m out of luck.
The cherries look like lipstick trees! (This is such a great time of year).
 
 
My tracking of Full Moon Energy Weird is… not currently registering a whole lot? So we’ll see what this looks like when mapped over multiple months.
 
So, here’s a thing I’ve started to notice. I do a “spare cards” pull at the end of every tarot spread. Doesn’t matter what lay-out I’m doing, I pull an “Advisor” card (top of deck), plus an “over-arching influences” (top of deck), and an “under-lying influences” (bottom of deck) card to go with it.
What I’m noticing is that these cards tend to provide the jist of the answer I’m asking for. Like, the entire rest of the reading boils down to detail-work, but the answer is in those three cards.
Like, last months (just barely posted) Full Moon post included a very short tarot reading, and the “context cards” made more sense than the actual (two cards only) spread.
Likewise, I recently did a (much larger, grand cross) reading about Dealing With Money Feels, and the answer was so clearly written in those last three cards. Sure, the Queen of Earth fell out of the deck (relevant…), but here was the last little bit:
 
Advisor: The Emperor
Overarching/Underlying: The Guardian (15 MA) / 10 of Earth (“Home”)

 
Sure, the Emperor CAN mean “dealing with The Man”, it can mean Patriarchy. It can mean pre-established and disempowering rules and laws (which always have to do with power structures, not with What Is Right).
But the Emperor (the Green Man, The Code), is also: Structure, getting organized, bringing order our of chaos, recognizing one’s own authority. Taking control of your own life, getting your ducks in a row. Being in a position of strength. Being your own boss. Breaking the chains that held you and going in a way that is good for YOU to go. Setting a direction. Bringing security and comfort. Sticking to a plan. It can mean “skills, confidence, competence. Al the stuff that the Three of Stones asks you to recognize in yourself and expect to be valued. Being able to talk the talk of the walk you’re already walking. It can mean self-discipline. It can mean leadership and taking the initiative.
The Emperor has good boundaries, and a willingness to act, to dare, but also the pacing to get stuff done in an orderly and sustainable fashion.
(Seriously. I was going to search “Emperor” on Little Red Tarot, and Beth had JUST posted a new post on exactly what I needed!)
 
My overarching and underlying cards?
Home – the ten of earth – all that material abundance, solid foundations, financial stability, all that stuff in “Made It Home”, in “We Are The World”, a house where all the windows open, with fruit trees, berry bushes, greens and nightshades and cucuburits, growing lavish in the yard, a kitchen overflowing with good food for everyone who comes and out of my always-open door, no fear of the rent not being payable, a home-base to come back to, to anchor me (us), no matter where we go on our adventures. An absolute certainty that we have, and will always have, enough to share on top of having enough “just in case” and enough for ourselves.
Crossed with? The Devil. With bindweed, with conditioning, with the boogy-man that stands in the way of really examining all the Stuff that lurks in my personal underworld. Call to katabasis, to the digging deep (and surfacing) in all my dirty secrets about wealth, worth, value, and morality.
 
 
Well. Okay, then. O.O
 
Anyway, onwards.
 
 
~*~
 
Motion: Lots of walking, this past week, as I was temping close to home. Also lots of bending and digging in the garden.
 
Attention: Watching the clouds, waiting for (and receiving) rain, rain, and more rain. Over-thinking everything (alas, but there it is), and trying to figure out how to stop.
 
Gratitude: Long rides in the country under clear skies. Working farms. My wife loving me. The friend who gave me a lift home on Friday, when it was pouring rain. Greens (and snow peas! and more on the way!) from the garden.
 
Inspiration: Big, beautiful moon last night. All the flowers blooming like crazy.
 
Creation: Chasing the first threads of a new (ish) story. No idea if it will go anywhere, but trying to catch hold anyway. Wrote a poem (about Scorpios and Feelings and the High Priestess tarot card) the other day. Message is “finish your damn book”, and no clue how to get there, but: scribble, scribble, ugh, scribble, scribble. So here we go…