Tag Archives: cosmology and axiology

New Moon – Long Nights Moon Begins (Looking for Patterns, Setting Intentions)

Welp. It’s freezing rain today.
It had to happen some time.
There’s snow on the ground, though it’s been hovering around Freezing for days, and a lot of it has melted. I have sunchokes and pumpkin to process for the freezer (today, ideally),and more sun-chokes in the garden that I hope (uh…) I’ll have the chance to dig up before the ground freezes solid. (Note: If it does freeze solid, they’re not going to be hurt by staying in the ground all winter and getting dug up for fresh veggies in early April or something. It would just be nice to have them available sooner than that). I have kombucha, sour kraut, kefir, and lacto-fermented sun-choke pickles all doing their thing on my “fermentation shelf” (AKA: the top of the chest freezer). The sun is noticeably heading towards Already Set, Doll by 3:30 in the afternoon (so, y’know, about 2 hours from now), even if it isn’t actually Full Dark By Four PM yet… but it’s coming.
 
A lot of my horoscopes have been talking about money, lately. Money, value, blocking myself from Getting What I Really Want, making sure I get paid for what I do, stuff like that. The rest have all been about Self Care, topping up my metaphorical/spiritual larder, reminders not to be All Things To All People all the time and about how “self care” isn’t just about pleasure (though pleasure is important!) it’s also about things like “asking for help when you need it” and “being vulnerable and telling people stuff they don’t want to hear (like “no”)” and “taking Actual Care of your body, by feeding yourself, doing your physio, and bathing”.
Radiomancy is another story, and I will talk about that in a post of its own, but that’s been happening, too.
 
My wife and I have both been self-employed for three years now. (I was self-employed for another two years before that, but now it’s both of us). The lunar cycle overlaps Winter Solstice is not generally an easy time for us. There’s emotional stuff, old traumas starting to holler and the work of pushing back against all those meta-naratives (accurate or otherwise) that our families-of-origin like us least, are happier spending The Holidays without the low-income, queer-A-F, freaky people around. But, money-wise, it’s difficult, too. My main source of income is modeling. At schools. All-of-which are in exams starting in about 10 days. Some Decembers, my wife is up to her eyeballs in custom leather gift-orders, and other years… crickets? and she never knows what that’s going to be until it happens. Things will probably be fine. But right now? They’re feeling kind of dicey. I’m wondering how many family members will Hate Me For Ever if I fail to send them xmas presents. Wondering what kind of solstice party I can throw on no money and all-home-made food[1].
 
It’s not all doom and gloom around here, mind you.
I have gorgeous new cookbooks (Batch, by the couple who run Well Preserved, and A Taste of Haida Gwaii: Food Gathering and Feasting at the Edge of the World by Canadian poet Susan Musgrave – the latter of which is almost more like a memoir told through recipes) to pour over, budding friendships (and old ones <3) to nurture, a wife to laugh with, and paycheques coming in (hurrah) for the past few weeks of modeling work.
 
Long Nights Moon is all about sorting through things and finding patterns. (And we humans just looooove finding patterns!) As Mecca said, on Twitter, the other day: If Scorpio Season is all about digging secrets out of the muck and dragging them up to the surface, then Saggitarius Season is about shining a flashlight on that stuff, rather than sweeping it all back under the rug. Yes, for sure, there are frequently riches hidden in that muck. But there’s also a lot of crap to be thrown out, or otherwise composted into something better. (Which, P.S..? I still don’t have a compost heap in my back yard. After two years in this house… Hm… Time to get on that, I think…)
I’ve been avoiding my tarot cards for a month or more – for pretty-much all of Scorpio Season (didn’t even do a birthday reading for myself) – afraid of what they’d tell me. Well. Messages come through in other ways, but I think it’s time for some confirmation. Time to pick that deck (those decks…) up again, and see what stories they can tell.
 
Some of my secrets… aren’t really secrets. They’re just another step in the long (longer than I like) process of having to come to terms, over and over, with letting things (and occasionally people) go. But others are… news-and-not-news to me. Finding out exactly why I have such a problem with being told to Do Your Self-Care, and how much that relates to (internalized?) ableism, and notions of whether or not I “deserve” help/kindness/rest/pleasure/care in the first place. The difficulties I have with self-compassion. The fears that are still living under my skin, as much as I’m trying to repair them.
 
Goals for this lunar cycle:
Be patient with myself, but don’t stop making progress;
Practice being kind to myself, while recognizing that “being kind” is a very different thing from “being an enabler” (Be My Own Mommy, as I once said to a friend who needed a fresh set of eyes on a tarot spread she’d done for herself);
Do the things that make me happy: knit/weave/sew, cook/preserve/ferment/bake, keep writing poetry, take baths and read novels and light my altars on the regular, spend time with the people I care about… You know, all the good stuff. 😉
 
What intentions/goals are you setting during this New Moon around How To Deal with the secrets you’ve learned about yourself? What are you deliberately shining a light on? (What’s that thing out of The Omnivore’s Dilema? “No better disinfectant than fresh air and sunshine”? Or, as Brene Brown puts it: “Shame can’t thrive without secrecy”).
 
 
~*~
 
 
Motion: I am getting stronger. I can still only do Plank for one minute at a time, but I can do it starting from my toes, rather than from my knees, which is a big improvement. I can see muscle developing in my arms, which is exciting. I’m taking the bus more often, these days, but still get out to walk a fair bit. There’s a dance coming up in a little less than a week, and I’m looking forward to it.
 
Attention: Pulling the threads of this year’s Learning Process together, noticing the stuff that keeps popping up on my radar and trying to braid it all together.
 
Gratitude: I am SO FUCKING GRATEFUL for my larder (link actually goes to someone else’s post about their larder, but the concepts she’s discussing are ones I try to work with). My months worth of flour, oil, sugars, frozen veggies, jars of jam and fruit butter, crushed tomatoes, bags of lentils, dry beans, pasta, and grains, the kombucha that can be used as lemonade or vinegar depending on how I want to mix things. The only groceries on my Must Buy list (er… right now) are milk, eggs, and coffee, and that should stay the case for at least another couple of weeks (toilet paper will eventually be on there, too). We would be in a lot of trouble if didn’t kitchen really well-stocked with stuff that we actually eat (and that I actually know how to prepare). Also grateful for: Friends who check in with me about how I’m doing, send me Hello notes on FB or through email, tell me they miss me. For a wife who loves me to bits. For other friends who tell my why they never got back to me about The Thing and, as such, put my weasel-brain to rest on the subject of “did I do something wrong”. For parties. For dancing. For the little blue bird who chirps at me all day (and, okay, fine, for the other two birds as well, who are totally napping right now). For clean sheets to snuggle under. For gentle temperatures as the dark sets in. For my mom, who has offered to buy us a bed for our guest-room as an xmas present (Which is pretty amazing, I have to say). For friends who get as excited about pickling and knitting and so-on as I do. 🙂 Lots and lots of good things in my life.
 
Inspiration: All of those above-mentioned friends who like to pickle and preserve and ferment in their kitchens. ❤
 
Creation: Wrote three new (drafts of) poems! The plan is to take myself somewhere (most likely the dining room table) and write some more poems today! I’ve been working on my latest weaving project. In fits and stars, yes, but still! Weaving! I’ve also been poking through my fabric stash and seeing what I’ve got in there that I can use to make presents for people (shift dresses, vibrantly-patterned neck ties, fancy handbags) using what I already have.
 
 
Cheers,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
 
 
[1] Honestly, a pretty good. I’ve done it a few times before. But it’s really nice to be able to bank on having a budget for cheese and wine and non-home-made crackers to top things up. Right now (almost a month in advance, I realize) the menu looks like:
Garlicky Hummus
Red Lentil Dip (with nutritional yeast & dried tomatoes, among other things)
Kefir-cheese spread with herbs (probably rosemary, basil, and thyme)
Chokecherry chutney (AKA plum relish, as you will)
Bread, possibly baked in a round pan and torn up so it looks Fancy-Rustic
Crackers?
Lacto-fermented sunchoke pickles
Vinegar-pickled beets (from a friend)
Tomato-Peach salsa?
Creton (a Quebecois spread made with ground pork, cream, onion, garlic, and tortiere spices)
Various Cookies (we’ll see if I have butter to do shortbread, but I can do ginger snaps and other goodies)
Chocolate bark with walnuts and apricots/cherries
Mint-chocolate cupcakes OR wacky cake?
Kombucha
Raspberry Ginger Peach “friendship tea” (you make tea on the stove with whole spices thrown in)

Scorpio Season – Deep Shadows Moon Begins, Crests, and Wains PLUS Samhain 2016

Hallowe’en came and went, and I marked the transition into Root Time by cracking a bottle of Sortilege and offering a glass of maple whiskey to the Gods and Ancestors outside in the back garden. (That was, in fact, the sum-total of what I did for Samhain. No special cleaning, no new pictures up. Just a nod and I’m Thinking of You All. The year-gate swings, and it’s time to dive deep again).
 
When my birthday arrived, the Sun and the Moon were both in Scorpio.
My time.
Scorpio Season.
What are you digging up with the beets and potatoes of early winter’s harvest?
What is surfacing from all that deep, fixed water?
What’s coming up from inside your ocean heart?
 
All the horoscope stuff is, like, “Stop lying to yourself” + “Set some intentions with an eye to claiming your power, because Now Is The Time” (it’s very The Craft, but that Scorpios for you). (As a side note, Miss Sugar’s new book is pretty-much all about that, and it’s available for pre-order. It’s not out until next August, but it’s a good time if the beta-readers’ chapters are anything to go by).
 
I just turned 37 and, consequently I’m thinking about Returns. It occurred to me, as I was heading out to buy heaps of Prepared Food (multiple cakes! fancy cheese!) for my birthday party, that my Saturn Return (long over, at this point), started the year I separated from my first spouse and ended the year I married my wife. Given that particular set of Very Relevant Bookends, I can’t help thinking that the lessons of my particular Saturn Return were “This is what a healthy, mutually fulfilling relationship looks like. This is how to do it. This is what to watch for in order to know that you and given person work well together as partners“.
Good to know.
 
I’m also thinking about my most recent Jupiter Return (age 36 – they come around every 12 years) and how those returns are about generosity, abundance, letting yourself be seen, and broadening your senses of trust and understanding. I’ve spent this past year trying to get the hang of being kind to myself, to inhabit my whole body more easily, protect myself without walling myself off, to understand where best to invest my energy, my heart, my time.
Related (tangentially?) to that is last year’s We’moon “year at a glance” for me was all about figuring out what kind of wealth I want to accumulate and getting material stuff sorted out. And here I am… sort of half-owning a small business that’s maybe-maybe-possibly about to have one of our contracts go national-sized? O.O
…Which, y’know, would be good.
 
But it feels like I’ve spent this year walking through a fog.
My wife asked me “what do you want to do with 37?” and I just sort of blinked and looked at her blankly. I’ve been so busy (“busy”?) putting one foot in front of the other that I haven’t really thought of anything else. My friend asks me “How have you been? How’s your heart?” and the answer comes back “Uh…?” Heart? Sometimes, in spite of lots of lovely things happening, making new connections, making an effort to spend time with awesome people who treat me well, in spite of falling in love with my wife All Over Again… sometimes my chest feels empty, sometimes I forget that “happy” is even possible? It’s really weird.
 
I’ve also been thinking about the New Year New You 2016 project and how my most recent prompt involved sacrificing… something. when I wrote it, I thought what I had to give up was my illusions. And I still think that’s true. All the scorpio-horoscope “stop lying to yourself” stuff is definitely tied up with that. But… some of my illusions involve false hopes, right? So what else (who else) do I have to give up (on)?
Yeah…
I tried to pull my love for someone out by the roots. Cut the cord and burn it away. Let that green thing rot and compost into something good for me.
That sort of thing.
And what happened? 24 hours later, I dream of them. Talking in the front hallway. Not perfect, just people, both of us. Their arms around me, leaning into my shoulder, saying “I’m still your friend”. I have no idea what to make of this, but there it is. Mixed messages coming through various channels. I spent two weeks trying to climb out from under a very heavy heart, burned through myself with rage, let something go, found space to open again. (I’m being vague and sort of hoping that it sounds “mystical” or something, but I’m really just being vague).
 
Long-story-short, I had a rough night last night, a hard morning, and then something cleared. Maybe it was reading half a dozen posts on attachment theory, or maybe it was taking care of my various ferments (I now have sour kraut, kombucha, and milk kefir on the go!) plus mixing up three loaves of bread and filling the house with the scent of their baking. (There’s something about bread. It takes so few ingredients, and they are cheap-cheap-cheap, too… and you get so much good stuff at the end. The smell is like big-warm-home meets independence and self-sufficiency. It’s pretty fantastic!). Maybe it was finally writing and posting something on Syrens after almost two months of writing next-to-nothing at all. Maybe it was a quiet day of thinking and processing and puttering and watching the first snow pile up outside (on top of un-dug Jerusalem artichokes and unharvested chard, I grant you, but still). I feel a little bit less heavy. A little more sure of myself. A little less broken. And that’s a good thing.
 
 
~*~
 
Motion: LOTS of modeling work recently, multiple classes worth of mid-length poses (15 and 20 minutes) that leave me stiff, sore, and grateful for the hour long walk home after class. Went out dancing (and got guest-listed as a birthday gift from the organizer, which was great). Can do Plank without having to start on my knees, which is nice.
 
Attention: Honestly? My bank account and how much I’ve been spending on prepared food and restaurant meals in the past, well, while. It’s got me thinking of Erica’s (or her husband’s, since the link goes to one of his posts) Treat Spiral and how I let myself go a little nuts with Nice Things For Me – new shoes, a dozen dollar-store hair flowers, fancy chocolates, copies of The Revolution Starts At Home and She Is Sitting in the Night – at the beginning of the month. Not the wisest thing to do,in retrospect.
 
Gratitude: Grateful for the repeated message to be kind to myself (even if I… am not great at that… yet?) and that it’s okay for me to be kind to myself. Grateful for the learning and the releasing, even when it comes with a lot of crying. Grateful for a living room full of femmes (mostly), sharing food and laughter and chatting about fibre arts, crafting, writing, and making things from scratch. ❤ All the good things. Best Birthday, and just what I needed. 🙂
 
Inspiration: Recently read S. Bear Bergman’s Butch Is A Noun. Surprised (but maybe shouldn’t be) at how my reasons for speaking (body language, verbal language, deed-language) the way I do are held in common with the butch dude who wrote this book. Makes me want to write essays about The Work, about carrying a pocket knife, an erstwhile first aid kit, safer sex supplies, and other people’s sweaters in my “mom purse”, about The Couch of Relationship Angst where people come and sit and try to figure out how to navigate relationship styles they haven’t tried before.
 
Creation: I tried to write a poem the other day. Which was the first poem I’ve tried to write since the end of September. Feeling very… lack-luster(?) on that front. But I’ve been making things in the kitchen, and that feels good.

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

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

New Moon – Harvest / Squash Moon Begins

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

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

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

~*~

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

New Moon – Apple Moon Begins

I harvested pears today.
 
My over-the-fence neighbour has a big pear tree in their back yard. The kind of thing they might have planted 40-odd years ago, as newlyweds. This year – probably due to the drought conditions – a big branch broke part-way, and ended up hanging low over the fence into the yard I share with my heavily-gardening neighbour (the branch, I though, was semi-supported by her enormous squash-trellis, though that may not have been the case after all).
 
Anyway. I talked to the pear-tree neighbour, and then I talked to the squash-trellis neighbour, and then my wife got her ladder back from a friend, and today I picked as many pears as I could reach (not actually that many – maybe 6-7 dozen?) and, after dropping 2 dozen off with the squash-trellis neighbour (the pear-tree neighbour had assured me that they had more than enough on their side of the fence and happily invited me to harvest what I could reach), I chopped up most of the rest and put them through the food processor.
 
2/3 of the puree are bubbling away in my slow-cooker, and the remaining third will be doing the same thing, this time tomorrow. It’s all being made into pear butter (with a little bit of nutmeg, some balsamic vinegar, and some maple sugar thrown in). I don’t know if I’ll get any apples for making apple butter, so having this on hand is pretty great. YAY for free food!
 
Also in the realm of opportunisit harvesting, I’ve got a lot of choke cherries (and choke-cherry purree) in my freezer, which will be used to make at-home preserves, but may also be incorporated into a chokecherry-chutney-based canning workshop that I might (fingers crossed) get to run for local queers. I hope so. (If not: more chokecherry preserves for me. I don’t mind).
Likewise, I’ve got half a dozen one-cup jars of crab-apple jelly in the cupboard, after picking crab apples across from the laundromat last week. I’m inclined to make another batch but stick a dried chili into each jar, because I think that would taste pretty swell.
 
So! New Moon! Solar Eclipse! Mercury in Retrograde (again…)!
Chani says that now is a big time for Scorpio-me and my friendships – some of them are growing, some of them are kick-starting, some of them are coming out of the woodwork (and some of them aren’t), and tells me (here, and in my Cancer-Rising) that I need to honour the in-between and “trust the ebb and flow of connections” which… that’s pretty accurate, actually. I’ve been having a wonderful spate of connections-with-new-friends and reconnections-with-pre-existing-friends, and I am loving it. I feel “popular”, if you can believe it. Which is weird, and I kind of don’t want to jinx it? I’m hoping I can keep building these relationships because…
 
…Because I have a weird (or, y’know, not weird…?) habit of self-isolating and thinking that I’m less likely to get hurt if I’m “on my own” and I’m noticing that, hey, just because I’m not frantically chasing after an emotionally unavailable partner or spending hours of my time trying to work out what their unspoken rules are just so I can maintain a relationship with them… that doesn’t mean I’m “on my own”. Quite the opposite.
What it does mean is that I’m not exhausting myself and have space and time to build and strengthen relationships that are based on mutuality and that are with people whose interests and passions and values overlap my own to a noticeable degree.
 
It’s pretty fucking great.
 
Which is not to say I don’t still spiral and spin my wheels when a new friends unexpectedly drops off the map. All of that “honour the in-between” stuff is something I have a hell of a time doing. My Life Coach is fore-warning me that Step Three is probably going to be All About the Boundaries[1], and managing All The Feelings around those abbs and flows and uncertainties is very much on my “things to learn” list because I’m very, very bad at.
So, yeah. Chani’s Scorpio scope is feeling pretty spot-on right now.
 
Corina, over at Autostraddle, asks me (and all you other Scorpios) which secrets it’s time to share, and points out that “what you decide to share can help you feel lighter, freer, and much closer to the ones you share them with”. (See also: Brené Brown’s whole “shame thrives in secrecy” stuff). I’m digging into my brain and trying to root out the stuff I want to let go of. Easier said than done.
 
So many of my friends have been commenting that they can feel Autumn in the air. Autumn is the season of cups. Even if we’re not there yet – still in the slightly manic sprint of canning all the things, and slightly giddy with the abundance all those gleaming jars and packed freezer-bags imply/display – the nights are getting longer and cooler and I can smell the Gathering In on its way. We may be in Fruit Time right now (and I am trying to get out dancing as often as possible while I still can!), but Root Time – with its introspection and icy roads – is coming. What kind of stuff is going to come bubbling to the surface of my internal swamp as the temperatures drop?
 
I’ve had three (or more) weeks off from my wife’s workshop – an unexpected vacation that is about to come to an end Big Time – and I’ve been socializing and going to writers’ groups and all sorts of things. It’s been wonderful. I hope I can keep it up once I’m back to making harnesses a couple of days a week (you’ve got to wonder about my time-management skills, if two days of work per week puts such a crimp in my creative output, social life, and home-making projects…). Fingers crossed.
 
This year’s tomato-canning marathon will probably be chopped into 2-3 weekends, rather than doing a 2-3 day sprint all at once. Salsa, crushed tomatoes, and sauce, with an emphasis on the first two. Maybe some pickled cherries while I’m at it. I’m excited – of all things – to do the repetitive tasks involved with a heavy run of canning. Keeping my hands busy (knitting does the same thing, so does prepping harness webbing) frequently results in a poem or two percolating away at the same time, and I’ve got high hopes for the next chunk of “How to Cook a Heart”.
 
Harvest season is very much upon us. My house smells like pears and nutmeg and maple sugar. I have books to read and people to geek out with about them. My wife and I have new bedsheets (among other things). Life is pretty amazing.
 
 
~*~
 
Motion: There has been a LOT of walking lately (my hips and feet are sore as a result). Also body-scan exercises that, while not exactly “motion” in the sense that I was thinking when I started writing these prompts, are definitely meant to get me into my body. So far, so good? I think?
 
Attention: Trying to spot my spirals before they start (or at least before they start getting out of hand). Reading She is Sitting in the Night (Oliver Pickle, Metonym Press), which is a Little Book that offers a reinterpretation of Thea’s Tarot – the whole idea is that this piece of actively queer tarot (that is a product of its time) is being re-understood by someone a generation later (this second interpretation is also a product of its time). It’s neat to read a Little Book for a tarot deck I don’t have. It’s one more angle on the cards, one more scrap to add to my mental collage of what each of the cards means.
 
Gratitude: Thankful for scary-but-necessary conversations with my wife (and ensuing changes that are working out quite nicely, thanks). Thankful for awesome people who want to hang out with me (who knew?). Thankful for folks who return emails/messages/etc quickly, because I find that very validating. 😉 Thankful for free pears from the neighbour. Thankful for free fruit on city trees. Thankful for a poetry-critique group that had suggestions for how to fix my poems (YAY!). Thankful for slightly cooler temperatures and LOTS of overnight rain falling (and the four butternut squashes that are just, juuuuust starting to develope-as-fruits on my squash vine).
 
Inspiration: Using (or continuing to use) the suit of Earth as a skeletal structure for poetry. I’ve been diving deep into tarot meanings, trying to get my head around how the fours (or the sevens, or the nines) work together and complement each other (and related to the corresponding cards in the MA).
 
Creation: See above. Poetry comes. Not easily, necessarily, but the struture is helping. So is having a critique group to go to every three weeks – it means I need to come up with two new poems (and polish them) every three weeks, and it helps to have the deadline.
 
 
TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
 
 
[1] Boundaries 101 = Where I start and You have to stop. Boundaries 201 = Where YOU start and I have to stop. Boundaries 301 = How to handle it (gracefully and ideally with as little grief as possible) when there is a gap between where I stop and where You stop, and I want to close the gap and You don’t and how do I stop offering you every damn thing when you are not stepping up and matching me? Yeah… Boundaries 301 is not something I’m good at, at all

Full Moon – Tomato Moon Crests

Thunder Moon was the wrong name. I said, a mo(o)nth and a half ago, that the minor drought conditions seemed to be lifting.
I was wrong.
It’s been weeks and weeks of oppresive, heat and almost zero rain. Things have been so dry that one of my tomato plants tastes like… the tomatoes taste like salt and bananas, if you can believe it.
I’m pretty sure part of why I’m writing this today, after weeks of no updates, is because (yes, it’s Full Moon today[1], BUT) the heat broke, just a little bit. It rained over night, and I don’t feel nearly so exhausted.
 
I cut down most of my mustard greens today. They’re a cold weather crop that bolts much faster than I expected. Between the tiny leaves on the bolted stalks and the general heat-wilt, we just haven’t been eating them. Late August is coming, and I am hoping to plant out some rainbow chard (again – I have about two rainbow chard plants, and they are struggling. The rest never even jerminated, that I can tell) for an autumn harvest. Considering using a totally-threadbare tank top, stretched over a dollar-store trellis, as a sun-shade so that the seeds will jerminate, instead of cook, this time ’round. (I have a LOT to learn, folks. You should see my neighbour’s crops. They’re all doing just dandy!)
I have bought zucchini and curly (Scotch?) kale at the market. My plan is to process that stuff for frozen veggies over winter today. That and, hopefully, drag my ass out to harvest choke cherries.
 
I feel like “nothing is getting done”, even though that’s not really true.
I started my Life Coaching sessions (just barely), about 10 days ago, and did a lot of soul-searching / psyche-digging (more psyche-digging) to answer my coach’s initial questions (more on that in another post).
I went to Queer in the Kitchen and learned how to make sour kraut (which is now sitting, doing its Fermentation Thing, and should (in theory) be ready to eat around Labour Day Weekend) and offered to do a water-bath-canning class for them (we’ll see if that actually happens, but I’m excited at the possibility)
I’ve gone dancing a bunch of times, and started chatting about tarot cards with someone who DJ’d one of those dances and then went to the sour kraut workshop.
I’ve written more poetry for “How to Cook a Heart” and (finally) did a little bit more work on The Novel (yesterday).
 
And yet… I feel like all I do is make dog harnesses and eat ice cream while wilting in the heat. The thought of turning the oven on is enough to make me want to Never Cook Again (or at least not until we get our usual cold snap in early September). I feel like buying vegetables from the market, when they are the same kind of vegetables I planted (zucchini, cooking greens, eggplants), is cheating. Like we should just live off of grocery store root veggies + the roma tomatoes I was planning to buy and can anyway this winter, rather than giving us some minor variety in our diet by paying for things I was expecting to successfully grow myself. The house is a constant mess, and I don’t even know where to start with it.
 
When I look at where I was, this time last year, I was so hopeful. And what I feel now is tired. Like a waste. Like “why do I bother” and “why am I here”. When did I stop being hopeful and start feeling like I needed to justify my continued existence?
…And yet, when I cut the cards on my new tarot deck (the Mary El one), the card I pulled is the Queen of Cups, cancer’s crab – all feelings, all the time – climbing from her heart to her throat.
The questions my life coach asked me, two weeks ago, were to get a handle on what I want to accomplish through the coaching. Unsurprisingly, the single word we boiled things down to is Receptivity. Maybe I could have gone with “worthiness”, but – like my coach’s preliminary suggestion of “self-sufficiency”, it’s too easy to turn that into something that will hurt me rather than help me. Too easy to turn that into the “shame dance” of trying to prove to someone else that I’m worthy (of love, of care, of anything other than a kick or a curse), rather than teaching myself not to brush off kindness like it’s something I shouldn’t need.
 
I read – or tried to read – my most recent tarotscope (via Siobhan’s Mirror, ‘scope itself done by Marianne at Two Sides Tarot), which said… I don’t actually know what it said. Because I read this bit:

Before we get into that, though, can you take a moment to recognize just how capable and skilled and creative and worthy you are?

 
…And just stopped. Like: Nope. Can’t do that right now. Can’t do that at all. Why are you lying to me, horoscope-person? I can’t deal with this crap.
 
Like, if I say that I’m worthy, and mean it; if I say that I’m capable and skilled and creative… then why have I not done more than this? Why am I not pumping out poetry – good, well-crafted poetry that only needs some polishing to make it worth publishing – every day? Why am I just sad and tired all the damn, stupid time? Why is my novel still languishing in it’s half-finished state? Why is my house so filthy and over-stuffed? Why is my larder so full of things I bought, instead of things I made?
 
I’ve been reading Rupi Kaur’s Milk and Honey (a book of very short poems and lots of doodles), and she has one that says “How you love yourself is // how you teach others // to love you”.
And I don’t love myself.
If I did, I would probably treat myself better, not brush off someone’s “how are you” as a formality, not beat myself up so much.
I don’t have a clue were my self-inflicted nastiness came from. I guess… some part of me thinks that being worth caring for is entirely bound up with how much abuse I’m willing to take?
I don’t know. It’s dumb, and I need to cut it out.
I don’t love myself, and I need to learn how.
Life Coach is showing me The Plan for this on Wednesday.
I hope I can make it work.
I am so sick of feeling like this.
 
 
~*~
 
 
Motion: A lot of walking. A lot of dancing. One really, really long bike ride (2 weeks ago, 27 km round trip – with 7 hours of harness-making in the middle) followed by barely being able to take a single (long, fairly big, but still) hill on my normal bike the next day. Getting back on the bike on Wednesday, but I don’t think I’ll be riding to work again any time soon.
 
Attention: Paying attention to ripe tomatoes, chokecherries ready for harvest. The water levels in my garden. The sky, praying for more rain.
 
Gratitude: Thankful for multiple modeling jobs this week and into the next; for the way my wife smiles at me in the morning (adn the fact that she wears crop tops…); for hanging on a corner in the Market, watching fireworks, with a bunch of random strangers (and being able to tell them why they were happening, because I am apparently a know-it-all…); for getting some work done on my novel; for the half-cracked pear tree branch that has falling over our yard, sitting on top of my neghbour’s trellis, and the tree-owner telling me to harvest as many as I could reach… just to wait until early September so that they’ll actually be ripe. (So, guess who’s making pear butter this year!). There are good things in my life, and I need to rmeember that.
 
Inspiration: Read Juliet Takes a Breath the other day. Between that and watching queer kids (ages 12-15) get excited about drawing at Manga Camp (I was their model. They thought I looked like Harley Quinn. I’ll take it. 😉 ) I am chock full of “Yay, Adorable Babies!” which feels pretty great.
 
Creation: Was able to dive into my own novel (finally, again) to do some re-structuring. That felt really good. I still have to finish the damn thing, but it’s something.
 
 
Cheers,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
 
 
[1] Actually, it’s totally not for another week. Woops. >.>