Tag Archives: hearth

New Moon – Flower Moon Begins

Today, the new moon shifts from Taurus into Gemini.
The folks at Hoodwitch – who point out that this one is a Super Moon? – mention that this is a time when people may find themselves feeling a little overwhelmed, or else feeling like they can take on more than they actually can. (Guilty. My wife totally sat me down and told me not to reinvent the wheel on a particular project). They suggest that this is a good time, energetically, for rituals around goal-setting (new moons in general) but particularly for creative writing, communication, and social boundaries: Gemini is chatty and social, but is also an Air sign so, tarot-wise, Gemini exists in Sword Time, in terms of things you may want to focus on. Want to Work yourself to be better at Using Your Words? Now’s the time to do it. Want to get your actions more in line with your actual values? This – especially with Venus squaring Pluto right now – is a prime opportunity get that stuff sorted out, make a plan and implement it (for longer-term project, which this might be, I recommend Miss Sugar’s New Year New You magical-action project prompts – I’ve found them really helpful on a number of occasions). Want to focus and get clear about some Stuff you’ve got that’s keeping you confused and spiraling, dig down and sort out what you really, really want (as Ariel, at Siobhan’s Mirror, suggests I do in her Scorpio Tarotscope for this New Moon), or maybe let go of some Old Baggage? This is a good time to work on that (and, handily, Hoodwitch has you covered with a Meditation suggestion).
 
Liz Worth talks about Gemini New Moon as a time of social choices. She offers a handy tarot spread (bottom of the linked post) and asks us to consider who is choosing us, and where we’re putting our social energy. Are we deepening connections with people who matter to us? Are we reaching out to people who reach back to us? Or are we tossing our social energy “juggling balls” at people who aren’t tossing them back, and aren’t showing up? Are we expressing ourselves to the best of our abilities? She points out that Gemini Time has a shadow side that looks like indecision and lack of commitment, and a certain amount of abdication when it comes to owning our choices (and our ability to make them). <– This is absolutely something that I have a LOT of problems with and am only very recently starting to get the hang of. I've been faced with a series of crap options on the personal front and, not liking any of them, have chosen to stick with the status quo while telling myself (and firmly believing) that someone else had all the power in those situations… even though, really, I was making a choice to stick with something that wasn’t going well. This Gemini New Moon is a good reminder for me to watch myself, and my (in)actions, in those situations. As Hoodwitch points out: “Practice acceptance this week, even about the things you want to change. Acceptance isn’t consent; it’s self-awareness.”
 
Questions to Ask Yourself during Gemini New Moon and its Waxing Period:
What can I cultivate, nurture, and allow to take root within myself as this moon waxes?
You’ve got all that composted energy from the recent Balsamic Moon to work with so, set goals, yes. But then act on them. A goal is just a wish, if you don’t put some action into it. For each goal you set, come up with one internal and one external action you can take to further it. (E.G.: I want to use my words better. Internal Actions: I can do a faceup tarot spread to help me sort out what I want to say, or I can bless and drink a tea made from nettles and thyme, to bolster my courage and my way with words. External Actions: I can push myself to Use My Words to ask for what I want or need – attention, respect for a boundary, choose your own adventure – clearly and specifically, once a day, for a week… and see how I feel).
What I can I breathe through and/or air out during this period of clarity? Gemini Time means connections, but Air Time more generally means boundaries and sometimes cutting ties, whether with people or with old habits. Get clear on what are deal breakers (and who or what need to be offered less of your time, energy, and attention as a result) versus what are things you can accept as a “price of admission” in your social interactions (and therefore work to stop spending your energy stewing about them)?
 
Ariel’s tarotscope for Scorpio suggests that good things (and some much-needed financial/material stability) come for those who stand their ground. Which is a relief to hear. Gods know I have a hell of a time talking about Money Stuff, and don’t have a really solid grasp of what “normal” or “healthy” look like when there’s cash on the table (or not on the table, as the case may be). I hope her predictions hold true, but I suspect I’ll need to Use My Words and have some scary/stressful discussions in the near future to make sure of that. O.O
 
As far as good things coming to me go… I’ve landed another part-time contract: One day per week (or a little less – more like 4 hours, with the option of a few more as needed) at a very respectable rate of pay, working From Home for a friend who needed, essentially, a research assistant. I’ve also received a wodge of seeds and starts from friends of mine (an aubergine and a jalapeno pepper; a couple of ground cherries; a whole bag of seed packets that I can use in the front and back gardens). I’m really enjoying showing off my garden, and trading rhubarb (stewed or cooked up like lemon curd) for plant starts or giving it as thank-yous. I’m also enjoying harvesting from it! Rhubarb Bars, stewed rhubarb for desserts; baby mustard greens, dandelion greens, and garlic chives for dinner veggies with pasta and cheese sauce; sage (which is about to flower – it’s gorgeous in flower!) used to flavour dips and roasts.
The garden doesn’t quite have its legs yet, so to speak, but it’s getting closer every day. I spaced out my radishes this morning, and we’ll have them to eat in another week or so. The chard is starting (slowly) to take off, and so is the kale. I’ve (re)-sewn sorrel, and I hope it will germinate this time ’round. I may be able to get some lovage (a heavy perennial “herb” that works more like a vegetable. You use the stalks and leaves in place of celery and I think it would be good for “transition periods” – right when it’s available – for soups, stews, and as a pot veggie to cook up with a roast) from a friend of a friend.
I planted (well, seed-scattered) larkspur, forget-me-not, and field poppies in the front yard, and I now have lupin and nasturtium seeds to add as well. I’ll be getting some Lily-of-the-Valley and, maybe, some Dame’s Rocket (“Wild Phlox”) seeds later in the summer, after they’ve had a chance to seed. My goal is to hit up one of the markets (Byward or Parkdale) in the next week or so and see if I can’t get my hands of a few more herb, flower, and veggie starts to top things off but, for the moment, I’m waiting for my seeds to germinate… so that I can remember where they were planted. Adding more transplants has to wait until then! 😉
 
 
~*~
 
Movement: Not a whole heck of a lot. I spent most of last week sick, and I’m still recovering. I’m finding I need more sleep than usual (or at least “usual” during long-daylight time) and I get tired faster. I’m still walking a lot, and working in my garden (which involves lots of bending and squatting and digging), but I’m also taking a lot of rest breaks.
 
Attention: Paying a LOT of attention to boundaries and how much energy I have available to throw at any given project. Some of this means checking, and double-checking my schedule to make sure I know how much of my time is devoted to Other People (whether that’s social time OR paid-work time) versus how much I have available for writing, tending the garden, home-keeping, and other stuff that’s more solitary and self-recovering. Also working to be more actively attentive-to/engaged-with my wife, making time for date excursions and conversations, trying to make a little LESS space in my life for “screen time” (says the lady who has been on her computer for four hours at this point…)
 
Gratitude: Friends & family who give me things – Plant starts, seeds, a covered hotel room (!!!), a car to borrow (!!!), knife-throwing lessons, a recently-replaced washer and dryer (!!!!!) – to help me out. (Seriously, I can’t tell you how excited I am about all of the above, but in particular about the fact that we are going to have an in-house washing machine and drying machine as soon as early June! To be able to make the week’s bread, work my new from-home job, do the dishes, AND do the laundry all at the same time? SO AMAZING!) Grateful, too, for a long walk with my wife, dinner and conversation (and compassionate advice) with a friend, garden chats and catching up with other friends. The ability (thanks to the above-mentioned car and hotel room) to attend my family reunion in mid-June. Grateful for warm weather and long, sunny days. Grateful that my neighbour lets me use her garden hose to water my plants.
 
Inspiration: Dane Edidi’s poetry book, Remains: A Gathering of Bones JUST arrived in the mail, and I’m looking forward to digging into it. I’m also told that one of my library holds has come in, and I’m excited to dig into the work of one of Urban Fantasy’s grandmothers. I’m also getting inspired by the garden- and kitchen-craft of other folks – whether they’re friends and neighbours, or long-distance folks whose blogs I read. It’s great to geek about gardening and fermenting with other people who do what I do, to trade plants (or SCOBYs), and get ideas for what to try next.
 
Creation: Lots of kitchen creativity. Lots of garden nurture, though that’s not exactly “creative” on my part. Coming up with new recipes. Writing poems. Made jewelry for a friend (who was wearing them when she won her Big Award – I’m so chuffed about that tiny, rather insignificant, but special for me detail). Hoping I can push next week for a writing date or two. I read the work of people who come up with, like THIRTY, GOOD poems in the space of seven days, and I’m just like… How do you do that?? But I want to try, too, so I shall. (Remember what I said, above, about Internal and External things I can do to forward my goals? External: Schedule writing dates and put them in the calendar, then follow-through and attend them. Internal: Refill my creative well by reading lots of poetry by other femmes (which will then be glossed in my poetry writing, so…)

May Long Weekend in the Garden – A “Productive Home” Post

So! 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.
 
IN THE GARDEN there has been sprouting and there has been planting! Of both seeds and starts! And there has also been (a tiny bit of) harvesting! Because perennial food crops are fantastic!
 
PLANTED:
I picked up some starts from the local Home Hardware (I’m not choosy). Purple basil, peppermint (I seriously managed to kill my peppermint last year – possibly due to drought, or possibly due to poor management – so I’m trying again), Lebanese cucumber, yellow bell pepper, and yellow cherry tomato. I got them in the ground early this afternoon, along with planting some golden zucchini seeds. We’ll see if they come up.
 
I’ve got scarlet runner beans and butternut squash, along with a “perimeter fence” of daikon radish (I’m hoping the long, thick tap-roots that develop will help keep water in, and invasive runner roots out, of the in-ground bed where I grow my cucurbitas and all my nightshades) planted as seeds, and have some probably-butternut squash coming up from compost-seeds already, which is nice. My rainbow chard is popping up all over, and I spent part of this afternoon transplanting it into more orderly rows (yeah, I’m doing rows… ish. I want my chard to have lots of room to get big and gorgeous and start thriving). My kale – which is, in theory, the Tuscan Black variety (Cavalo Nero) – seems to have sprouted, too, which is nice. I’ve been thinning out the self-seeded mustard greens a LOT in order to give the chard and kale some room to grow. Mustard, I’ve decided, makes a lovely “baby green” for salads, but isn’t something I love as a cooking green, partly because it bolts so darned quickly. It makes for decent sprouting broccoli when it bolts, though, so I’ll have to leave some to mature. 😉
 
The as’kebwan’ (sunchokes) are starting to sprout (again – I dug up a bunch earlier, as I needed to get the last of last year’s harvest out of the ground, once it had thawed – they’re great, by the way, and finding their way into a lot of stew and “potato” salad).
I have no idea if my (new to me) raspberry bush is going to flower this year. Or any year. But fingers crossed?
 
READY TO HARVEST / HARVESTED:
I have tonnes of rhubarb (and sage, and winter savoury) ready to harvest. Along with some frozen rhubarb left over from last year. Uhm. So, as I’ve previously mentioned, I need to make some pies. Or at least a Rhubarb Cafloutis or a crumble or shortcake or something. It makes a great coffee cake (I use the recipe in Company’s Coming “Muffins and More” for cranberry coffee cake, and just use diced rhubarb in lieu of cranberries) and, now that I have eggs in the fridge again, I may just go that route as it packs easily for lunches.
 
The sage has been getting picked and chucked into braises, fairly frequently, but I haven’t been doing a whole lot with the savoury. The dandelion greens and Vietnamese garlic (the tops, not the roots) have been getting added to pastas every so often, but (weirdly?) I’m concerned about using them up too quickly (or at least before the garlic starts to scape).
 
OTHER:
I turned the compost (first time!) and edged the in-ground beds (front and back). I’m happy with how the compost is doing. I put stuff like pizza boxes and newspapers in the compost heap in order to add carbon to a pretty “green stuff” heavy heap (at least I think it’s heavy on the green stuff, as it’s mostly spent coffee grounds, old tea bags, egg shells, and veggie ends) and its rotting into oblivion along with everything else, which I assume is a good sign.
Also, there are wriggly worms in the compost (and even in the raised beds!) and the soil in the back yard’s in-ground bed (which, until Wednesday, the compost heap was sitting directly on top of) is dark a relatively easy to turn – unlike the dirt in the rest of the yard, which is pretty compacted and mostly supports stuff with deep tap-roots, like dandelions.
 
 
IN THE KITCHEN there has been baking and fermenting!
 
FERMENTS:
I’m drinking a LOT of kombucha lately. Partly because I’ve been home, sick, this past week, and drinking Lots Of Fluids has been a significant part of the bill, and partly just because it’s hot out now, or reasonably so, and I’m wanting cool bevvies, rather than hot ones (at least when I’m not hacking up a lung. Appetizing, I know). So I’ve been topping up my kombucha bottle a lot more frequently. NOTE: This makes for a less sharp kombucha which, with my love of the sour stuff, isn’t really what I’m going for. It’s still good, it’s just “lighter” than I like. I continue to cut it with a cup or two of lightly sweetened, long-steeped hibiscus (raspberry/pomegranate/etc) tea, as I like how that works out.
 
I’m continuing to make dairy kefir. My wife won’t touch it in terms of using it as a yoghurt substitute, but she likes it fine in baked goods, so I’m using it a lot in pancakes and coffee cake and similar. Even in bread (see below). I’m making Very Small Batches, and hoping I can get back to the stuff I was making in winter, where it would separate really evenly into curds and whey, and I could get super-thick “kefir cheese” (more like yoghurt or sour cream) that way, while using the whey in things like bechemel sauce or briases. Today, I made chocolate popsicles using (1) chocolate chips, (2) coconut milk, and (3) kefir. They probably won’t be solid until tomorrow, but they should be VERY delicious (and not overly sweet, which is a help when you want something refreshing on a hot day) if the liquid mixture is anything to go on.
 
I (finally) drained my sour kraut crock and packed the fermented cabbage (which is crunchy and done, but also salty AF, holy moly…) into some big mason jars and put it in the fridge. Time to start using this stuff on sandwiches. (Conveniently, I have some beet-and-bean spread sitting in the fridge that will work really nicely with this).
 
Speaking of sandwiches… I tried making a sour dough starter. It.. was not that? successful?
I separated out into Kinda Brown Water on top, and sludge on the bottom. Except, when I drained off the water, it was actually pretty bubbly and fermented-looking. So… It sort of worked? Maybe?
Basically, I poured the entire ferment into my most recent batch of bread, along with 2tsp of dry yeast, so while it was doing its thing, I don’t actually know if it was lively enough to lift a whole new batch of dough.
Yeah.
I’m learning to make sour dough from books like Michael Pollan’s Cooked, and I’m not too quick on the uptake. I don’t usually (yet) start making my bread dough the night before I actually want to bake it, and I’m realizing that if I want to do sour dough, that’s how it’s going to go. Or else I’m going to be starting the chef – like maybe making a chef from equal parts kefir and flour and water, which I’ve done, but am not entirely sure about (my wife liked it. I wasn’t too keen on the texture, which was a lot denser than I’m used to, but it was flavourful and made an acceptable sandwich, so it did the job) – at breakfast, and baking the bread after dinner. This is, by the looks of things, a bit of a slower process than the “only takes 2 hours” version using dry yeast woken up in sweetened warm water. So we’ll see. I’d like to keep this up, just because it would be nice to not need the dry yeast, eventually. But, for now, I’m really glad I have some on hand.
 
BAKING:
The entirety of this week’s baking has been the above-mentioned bread and rhubarb coffee cake. There are a couple of chicken legs baking in the oven right now – although that’s more like a “confit de poulet” than a “baked goods” kind of thing. It’ll be dinner along with some left-over potato salad (not made with sunchokes, or even at home, but left over from a catered lunch at a place where I was temping) and some wilted greens (as in: dandelions and garlic greens. I want that sorrel to successfully germinate even more now… Hm… a little lovage wouldn’t hurt, either…). Big Plans for this weekend include a new batch of bread (made with dry yeast, I have zero doubt), a further rhubarb Thing (maybe muffins), and cookies or cornbread. Probably not both.
 
 
GENERAL HOUSEHOLD STUFF:
Put together a care-package for someone who helped do the C-16 rally on Parliament Hill the other day. (Pasta, crushed tomatoes, salsa, tinned tuna, tinned soup, and 2L of pumpkin-coconut-lentil stew that I made with the stuff I had lying around).
I haven’t been gleaning a lot yet this year. I’ve got dandelions growing in my raised beds, so we’re just harvesting them like any other intentional crop. The the local fruit trees (my favourite cherry, plus tonnes of serviceberries) will be fruiting in about six weeks, and so will the red currants, and I’ve been watching their progress with GREAT interest. (The alley raspberries are about to flower, though they’ll take a little bit longer to fruit). I’m hoping the garden will keep us happily in greens all summer (and fall, and into the early winter…) with lots to spare for the freezer, so I’m not worrying too much about foraging for wild greens right now.
Went grocery shopping! I’ve been on “milk and eggs only” for 3-4 weeks, after a fairly lean winter. We’ve run out of a few things that I’ve been putting off replacing. It’s really nice to have cooking oil, mustard, mayonnaise, chocolate chips, and a bunch of other “not 100% necessary” things again. Plus I bought chicken. 7 chicken legs for $10. I have no idea if that’s a good price or not, but I’m really happy to have 3 meals for two + a chicken leg for some evening when I’m on my own over here, sorted as the greens start to come in. There’s still a lot of dry-goods to replace (particularly flour, but also honey and some basic baking things), and I want to re-stock on chicken and fish in one big go, though I suspect that will happen at Costco or similar, rather than ordering another half a pig. (Yet. We’re still finishing our first one). We’ve got a gallon of maple syrup due to arrive some time this coming week, which I’m looking forward to. I want to try using it more frequently in my baking.
As per usual, I’ve been offering the first slice of every new batch of bread to my gods and ancestors + Anybody local who wants to partake. Now that I’ve got the compost turned (and regularly watered – thanks to the neighbours who are okay with me using their hose), I can use it as an offering place for more stuff, should I happen to have it. The compost heap makes a great offering altar, just because it’s got All The Things in it – heat and wetness, earth and air, and movement, and change, all going on at once. If I manage to successfully make mead (hello, summer fermenting project), some of it will be going in there.
We turned the heat off. (Technically this happened a week ago, but close enough). It’s been wonderful to sleep with the windows open again!
I moved the fig tree outside. My landlord’s husband and I stood outside, drinking coffee and chatting about gardening. He said the fig tree needs a bigger pot (again), and that going around the edges with a big knife will help keep it from becoming root-bound. Which, admittedly, it might already be. But… we’ll see. It’s not technically ours, we’ve just been babysitting it for two years.
 
ANYWAY. That’s the state of the garden and the rest of the household for the moment.
 
 
TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.

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.

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!

Longest Night, Darkest Night – Ruminations on Winter Solstice

It’s raining here. I’m telling people that I’m pretending we’re in England (it helps that both of my partners are Brits). It’s grey and wet and occasionally even foggy.
Not winter weather by any stretch of the imagination (in spite of a long-gone skiff of snow for Winter Solstice), but it’s still really freaking dark most of the time, and the lack of snow means that street lamps and moonlight aren’t getting a reflective boost from the white stuff that’s (not) on the ground.
It’s really not helping my SAD-affected brain much, I don’t mind telling you.
Consequently, I find myself reflecting more on “dark night of the soul” this MidWinter than in years past.
 
Winter Solstice touches on a lot of things, even when you don’t have a wedding anniversary and a multi-faith extended family thrown into the mix. The beginning of the real Long Dark, the time of killing cold (this year’s weird-ass weather notwithstanding), and the months-long slog to get from here to Spring Equinox (or even Imbolg, when we’ll actually see that the days are for-real getting longer again). The technical beginning of the lengthening days (although see above on that front) and the celebratory stuff that comes with that[1]. The chance to honour the darkness as pro/creative space, the origin of al things. A time for reflection and meditation – whether we’re talking about Root Time, or candle-light vigils, or even just the more secular considerations that come up around the dark end of the year as the calendar is about to turn over. It’s all sorts of things.
But it’s also a period of stress (E.G.: getting together with Family of Origin – or not being invited to do so, for that matter – is a thing that us Queerdos, in particular, have to deal with in a lot of cases) and, frequently, loneliness, and even the gathering of chosen families – where we get to be our Whole Selves with people who really do love us – can still involve big emotional crashes in the lulls between get-togethers. I’ve been feeling it a lot this year – in spite of numerous Good Things going on… but:
I woke up this morning feeling lighter. Still exhausted, still sore, still slightly ambivalent about Weird Christmas[2], but feeling so much more hopeful than I have in ages. I don’t actually know what’s causing this. I mean, yes, it might be the subtle energies of marginally longer days starting to happen. It might be all of this planetary love stuff going on, but I suspect it has more to do with getting “I Love You”s in the mail (and the house), plus catching myself out on one of my (old, stupid) patterns while actually having an idea of what the outcome will be if I let it go (again, in this situation – all that “healing happens in spirals” stuff is so irritatingly true, I can’t even tell you).
 
Yesterday, I dropped in at my wife’s workshop for a visit and, upon learning that I’d spent much of my own work-day ruminating about The Things, she said “I don’t want you to just go home and fret”. I told her “Sometimes I learn things when I do that”.
I know I have a bad habit of fretting about the precarious What Ifs of life, and occasionally fail to enjoy the beauty and the wonder and the joy of things because I’m troubled by the things that could destroy them. It’s not a good thing to do, and it makes my life sadder, to be sure, and it’s frustrating (when I catch myself at it) to know that I’m doing it to myself.
Even still, it’s also important to take that time, dig down into the dark twisty hidden parts of your own brain, and see what you can haul into the light.
We’re in Root Time now, have been (technically)for a while, so maybe it’s no surprise that I’ve been gnawing on the roots of my own fears, trying to find where they begin, trying to figure out (again, always again) how to put them to rest.
Regarding my particular set of “dark night of the soul” revelations, I’m flinging myself into Miss Sugar’s “New Year, New You” online course (again) to see if I can use magic to push the odds in my favour when it comes to dealing with my personal deamons.
Wish me luck!
 
 
TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
 
 
[1] Although I kind of wonder if that big celebration of light and heat and merriment, with its accompanying high-calorie feasting, isn’t a way to kick off the dark-and-cold time where we’ll be mostly eating root veggies and huddling around the fire, and give us some momentum (and extra fat AKA insulation and reserves) to help get us through the worst of it.
 
[2] Christmas isn’t my Holy Day. I haven’t ID’d as Christian for something like 20 years at this point, and the whole Bethlehem Story stopped resonating with me, even as a form of annual nostalgia, at some point in my early-mid 20s. So the 25th of December qua Christmas is basically an extension of Winter Solstice Festivities (e.g.: Mothers’ Night, the Norse celebration of ancestor-women that, iirc, falls on the first full moon after Winter Solstice – handily the 25th of December this year) combined with the usual families, feasting, and generalized washailing that goes on between the 20th of December and the 5th (or so) of January. But this year – possibly due to the combination of Zero Snow, double-digit (above freezing) temperatures, and my (multi-faith) relatives doing Xmas in Calgary this year – I feel pretty much nothing-what-so-ever about the actual 25th of December. Which doesn’t mean I’m not cooking a duck and watching movies with my metamours, it just means that it feels really weird to feel NOTHING about this particular date.

Full Moon (Super Moon) – Apple Moon Crests

So the full moon was yesterday.
I spent it canning tomatoes.
I spent today canning tomatoes.
I still have tomatoes on the stove, in the slow-cooker, and in the dehydrator (but – for the most part – not in my fridge anymore, so there’s that), and I’ll soon have crab apples to jelly and – if I’m very lucky – pears to render into butter as well. I have a small number of peaches to preserve, as well as a few eggplants to roast, dice and freeze, and a few golden zucchini with-which to do the same, and a cup of chokecherry puree with-which to make a small batch of fruit curd in short order (I need to get more eggs, and more butter, before that happens though).

Apple Moon has, thus far, been all about the canning.
My wife commented to me, the other day, that she really enjoyed listening to me and my Canning Buddy hashing out how the day would go, in terms of what needed to be cooked in which receptical and when we’d need to start chopping X, Y, or Z, versus when we’d need to start sterilizing jars in the oven, and so-on, in order to keep things running smoothly and efficiently in the kitchen. She said that we were doing something that women have done for millenia: Planning out how to get things done and make things happen. Just for a moment, I saw backwards in time to my grandmothers, great grandmothers, great-great-many-times-great grandmothers standing in kitchen with wood floors, stone floors, dirt floors, a great kettle steaming on the stove – the range, the hearth-bricks, you name it – bubbling with food that needed to be cooked down or fermented to the point where it would keep over winter and keep everyone alive. Keep me alive, in the abstract, self-centred sense as well. And here I am, doing much the same thing, with all of them standing behind me.

Hello, Ancestors. It’s nice to see you here.

Speaking of which… As far as what I talked about at the beginning of this lunar cycle… What I said about it being a “physical, labour moon” holds true. I’ve been doing plenty of hauling and plenting of physical, get-er-done stuff in the past two weeks, and that’s not going to change. But I’ve unexpectedly found myself also doing some emotional heavy lifting – maybe I can blame that one on Venus’ retrograde coming to a head (and then an end) fairly recently? – that threw me for enough of a loop that all that What Kind of Ancestor stuff I was mulling over, back on the 17th, just got pushed a little bit to the side. Unless I interpret that question more as “What kind of example do you want to set?” In which case: The kind of behavour I want to model as an Auntie/Ancestor/Example is… kindness, patience, open-listening, generocity, proactiveness (wish me luck on that one…), well-rounded creativity, “follow your bliss but also pay your bills” practicality, and… Look, if my lovely wife is Called to help people across the border into Death, I feel more like my Witchy work leans towards helping people deal with how they relate to one-another in life. (I am, and have always been, far more Nanny Ogg than Granny Weatherwax).

Which leads me to ask:
Okay, self, so how do I model that behaviour and, more to the point, which parts of that really need my attention right now?
And the answer there comes pretty readily:
Proactivity and the witchy work of Interconnectedness… without turning into an enormous busy-body in the process. :-\

In another two weeks, we’ll be into what I’m currently thinking of as “Harvest Moon” (although we’ll see if that moniker holds true by the time we get there) but, right this minute, I need to be proactive about getting some dinner (finally) made, now that my second-last batch of crushed tomatoes is off the stove.

Wish me luck.

TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.

Tomato-Palooza 2015! (Recipes to Follow…)

So, my canning party for two was today.
Over the course of five hours, we canned 30lbs of tomatoes (roughly), and I now have 10lbs more in various stages of “on the go” (3-4lbs are in the slow-cooker already, with a pound or two (about 15 tomatoes) sliced into rounds and doing their thing in the dehydrator, and the rest sitting, already chopped, in bowls in the fridge – I need to get The Biggest Pot cleaned up before I can finish the rest…).
 
I’ve got one more 20lb box (or most of it) washed, but left whole, sitting in a plastic tub in the bottom of my fridge so that they don’t get mouse-contaminated over night.
 
Still. Having also gone through 0.8L sugar and 1.5L vinegar (maybe slightly more), plus 2L diced peaches, 2 large red onions, and about 5 bulbs of garlic, in addition to those tomatoes, what we got so far is:
4L crushed tomatoes
4.5L roasted-garlic-balsamic tomato sauce
3L (all in pint jars) tomato-peach salsa
 
Most of the above (except for slightly more than half the salsa) went home with my friend today, which was the plan. The only ingredients I’m running right out of are the ones for the salsa, thense me making sure I got some of the big batch we made.
 
The plan is to get another 4L of crushed tomatoes (mostly in pint jars, some of it heading my friend’s way), somewhere between 6C and 12C more roasted-garlic balsamic tomato sauce (in, ideally, half-cup jars), and to put the rest of the romas, thinly sliced into rounds, into the dehydrator so that I can chuck them into stews and similar over the winter. We’ll see if I’ve got the math right on that, mind you.
 
The goal of this whole escapade was multi-fold, but basically boils down to “Pay up front, with a day-or-two’s worth of time, energy, and attention, in order to have numerous weeks worth of convenience food lined up and ready to go”.
And I think we’re getting well on our way.
 
Something I’m doing this year that I don’t tend to do “automtically” is using pint jars for my tomato preserves. In years past, I’ve gone for one-cup jars (salsa, diced tomatoes, bruchetta-in-a-jar) and half-cup jars (fancy tomato sauce), and only reached for the pint jars when I ran out of other options. Partly this has been to stretch my tomato preserves over as many meals as possible, and partly it’s been because “preserved tomatoes” are enough of an acquired taste for me that I wanted to be sure my portion sizes were small enough that I could use up a whole jar in the space of one meal and not need to worry about eating jarred tomtoes more than once in a week ifI didn’t want to. (I have since come to basically rely on jarred tomatoes for multiple meals per week over the course of the winter, so that’s not so much an issue now).
 
That said, I’m still planning on doing my tomato sauce in half-cup jars, because it’s a good one to give away as a gift, and I find that a little bit goes a long way when it comes to meals for 2-3 people.
Regardless, with my “overnight” machines – my slow-cooker and my dehydrator – doing their thing in the kitchen, and all of my remaining tomatoes hidden safely away in the fridge, I’m calling it a night. There’s plenty more to do in the morning.
 
Heh. Other people use this Super Moon energy to get creative work done on canvases and computer screens. Aparently, I put it towards a winter’s worth of jarred tomatoes.
You do what works. 🙂
 
 
TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.