Tag Archives: hearth

Full Moon – Squash Moon Crests (Autumn Equinox)

Huge, ripe fairy tale pumpkin - light brown skin, deep orange flesh, and lots of seeds - sitting on on a thick butcher's block cutting board. The pumpkin has a big wedge cut out of it, so you can see how thick the flesh is. Photo by me, taken last January.

Huge, ripe fairy tale pumpkin – light brown skin, deep orange flesh, and lots of seeds – sitting on on a thick butcher’s block cutting board. The pumpkin has a big wedge cut out of it, so you can see how thick the flesh is. Photo by me, taken last January.


 
There’s no threat of frost yet, but the temperatures below 10C overnight and it’s cold in the shade (and in the sun, and in the house because I try not to turn the money-devouring-furnace on until October).
The picture, above, is of a pumpkin I bought last Hallowe’en. It’s the kind they sell – dark green, blazed with orange, and very under ripe – at the grocery store as a “decorative gourd” but which is hella edible, albeit very watery. It sat on my table for a few months before it ripened to a pale, milk-chocolatey brown, and then I cut it open and baked it in wedges. It’s too watery for pie, even when baked (flavour is too diluted) but it’s a gorgeous addition diced into stews and braises.
I have zero ripe winter squash on my vines (not surprising, they usually take another month for me, and get harvested in late October) and I might not even get any, since what fruiting flowers I’ve had have been gnawed upon by the squirrels. But I chose this picture because it’s getting to be that time of year.
The Season of the Witch.
 
It’s Autumn Equinox today. Full moon in Aries tomorrow. The day and night are balance – same duration – and boy howdy, was I feeling that these past couple of days.
For those who aren’t in the area, my neck of the woods got walloped as it rarely does, with a big wind storm and a tornado that destroyed a number of people’s homes and took out power to a number of big chunks of the city, including our place (which is definitely still standing and, given that I’m typing this at all, has its power back on).
I gotta say: The limited daylight hours are very noticeable when you’re trying to wash dishes by candle light.
 
A power outage is a funny thing.
The first night is almost like a vacation. We stood outside and watched the stars (which were so much more visible with no ambient city lights), waved to the big, gibbous (then in Aquarius) moon, shared a glass of wine.
Dinner was home made bread with a fancy terrine and half a wheel of local brie. I got some knitting done and we sat on the couch and chatted.
The next day was a bit more stressful.
Wondering how long it would be before the lights came back on. Wondering how many things we can reasonably cook on a butane camp stove before (a) we run out of butane, and (b) we have to start cooking outdoors because it’s too cold to ventilate by opening up the windows. Wondering how to manage our very well-stocked (go me!) freezers and fridge when the electricity wasn’t keeping them cold anymore.
 
That was the big one, tbh.
Like, ice cream for breakfast is fun and all, but I was very, very glad I’d made that batch of yoghurt – and thus used up half of my milk – on Thursday, because yoghurt would keep for a lot longer.
Wondering how pan-fried kidneys were going to work out (probably fine, even with no garlic in the house), and whether or not I could do a slow-braised pork tongue on that little camp stove, or pan-fry more than one chicken leg at a time. Wondering how long chicken stock in unsealed jars can keep at room temperature.
Wondering whether or not I could make an adequate, pan-fried falafel-type… patty(?) using the already-cooked, whole chick peas and black beans rapidly thawing in the freezer… Would they hold together if putting them through my food mill left them kind of… chunky? Would they taste okay?
Wondering if we could rig the non-functioning, grill-free barbecue shell in the back up to be a wood-burning fire pit where we could (maybe?) use downed branches to make a longer-term cooking area, if we needed one. (Would it warp or even melt the aluminum? Could we find enough wood in the immediate area to even do this?) Could we drag Boroslava, our chimney-free, not entirely structurally sound but remarkably resilient, wood stove into the back yard and get her up and running again?
Wondering, if we did that, could I bake bread, one loaf at a time, inside our biggest cast iron pot – Dutch oven style – once our remaining loaf was used up, or if I was going to be making tortillas (thank you all the gods for still having running water) and dicing up the rillette left over from last weekend’s guest visit and turning into pasta sauce. (Wondering if I had enough pasta to do this more than twice).
Wondering how to pickle the frozen veggies (which, tbh, probably wouldn’t have been a problem. We’d just eat them before we ate the raw ones that are still good to keep fresh on the counter).
 
I’m kind of making this sound like it was a huge disaster.
It wasn’t. Not for us.
We’ve been offering hot showers and freezer space to friends whose power isn’t back on yet, and a friend of a friend needs a lot of help, so we’re waiting on the supply list and will see what-all we can send her way. But for us it was mildly inconvenient at best.
But our own Ottawa Storm experience was short and really easy.
A friend who had gas in her car came and picked us up, whisked us and our empty gas cans out to an area south of town that still had power, and we stocked up on fuel (how Mad Max of us), got cash out of a bank, and bought a few bags of groceries – tinned tuna, dry beans, short pasta, quick-cooking grains… stuff that can be cooked on the stove and doesn’t need a fridge – before going out for burgers and heading home again.
Not a big deal.
And it was still SUCH a relief when the lights came on again.
 
Like, I felt my shoulders drop and my chest unclench, just a little bit, when the fridge and freezer started humming and I could clearly see what I was doing over the sink.
It’s got me wondering “Would we have gotten used to it? Or would we have fallen apart?”
 
It’s got me thinking – again – about how having a rocket stove in the back yard – just a thin chimney of brick, topped with a steel or iron trivet, with space at the bottom for air feed and, a little further up, an equally small space for twigs and pine cones and other kindling – would make a difference in terms of what we could cook, when, and for how long, in a situation like this (or, hey, in a situation where it’s over 36C and being able to cook pasta or sausages without adding more heat to house is really appealing).
It’s got me thinking – again – about how having pressure-canned beans (like chick peas and romano beans – big legumes, as opposed to quick-cooking lentils and split peas) and meat (think chunks of brisket, pork shoulder, or uncured ham) on hand means not having to keep that meat in the freezer, and not having to worry about how long it takes a large, already-soaked bean to cook through. (A friend managed to wangle us a membership to the Ottawa Tool Library – bless her forever – and I will be borrowing their pressure canner in short order with this in mind).
It’s got me thinking – again – how useful it would be to have one of those crank-powered flashlights that doubles as radio and a tiny generator for charging phones. Even if the cell service was intermittent, it helped to be able to check in with friends and make sure people were home and safe. It’s got me thinking that having an ancient, touch-tone (or rotary dial) phone on hand would be a good idea, if only because it’s not cordless – doesn’t require a charged battery at all, and can work on the (sometimes buried, and more likely to be functional) phone lines rather than needing a cell tower – and would let us (maybe) keep in touch with people for longer.
 
Basically, I’m thinking about how under-prepared I felt, in spite of a garden and a million jars of crushed tomatoes and apple butter hanging around the place.
The sun will be DOWN (and the full moon – in Aries – will be up) in a little less than an hour and a half. And I will have light to cook by, and a stove to cook on, and I am so freaking grateful for both of those things. O.O
 
Autumn Equinox is Harvest time, time to remember what you sowed in the spring and to take stock of how those plans and projects have developed. What are you harvesting/reaping at this time?
I was doing the Eat From the Larder Challenge (hahaha… funny how that works out) and spending all of March avoiding my Empress Project.
Now I’m here and being told by Sarah Gottesdiener, over at Little Red Tarot, that “What [I’m] making is manifesting” and to “Get a plan you believe in and invest in [my]self”.
The folks at Hoodwitch that the Aries Full Moon energy is good for spell work regarding courage/bravery, overcoming obstacles and clearing the way, and for letting go of anger. I love the horoscope they provide for Scorpio:

You don’t have to know what you want; you don’t even have to know where you’re going. What you do need is to be interested in finding out the answers.

 

The Eight of Fire (Silicon Dawn) - An anthropomorphic salamander-raccoon hurls a fireball at the viewer while leveling up x3.

The Eight of Fire (Silicon Dawn) – An anthropomorphic salamander-raccoon hurls a fireball at the viewer while leveling up x3.


 
An appropriate card for the Aries Full Moon. A card that says “Shuck off all those ‘shoulds’, all those notions of what you’re allowed to be, and to want!” A card that says “Take action! Take a chance, before it passes you by!”
I am trying not to freak right out about Not Knowing The Answer.
The intention I set back at the New Moon, was “Help me be brave”.
And I have been.
I have a date lined up (for right around the New Moon in Libra), in one of those places where it’s socially appropriate to revel in my violence and possessiveness and specifically to explore some explicit, specific desires that I’ve been curious about for a few years now. This is awesome but, while I definitely like this woman – we get along well and our interests dovetail nicely and she’s cute as heck – I have no idea how our planned shenanigans are going to turn out and my tendency to catastrophize (and not even in a useful way) is strong right now. O.O
 

Eight of Arrows “Struggle” (L) and The Ancestor (R) – Wildwood Tarot – On the left, someone in a tattered cloak struggles through the snow and the windy, gathering dark, carrying a lantern. On the right, A tall woman with a deer’s head stands in the snowy woods next to a bare birch, drumming on a bodhran. Behind her the new moon sinks towards the horizon.


 
The cards I drew for this Full Moon meditation aren’t the easiest ones for me. “Struggle”, which has shown up recently, is pretty self-explanatory and The Heirophant – for all that she’s presented here as both a figure of stern guidance and someone who’s actually got your best interests at heart (as opposed to, say, any given Pope ever in history) – is still a card with the potential to lean towards “thou shalt not” and the kind of social expectations that queer, emotionally messed-up, under-employed, polyamourous me consistently fails to meet.
And yet…
What I see here is “Yes, this is hard, but you have support if you need it, you have guidance if you need it”, possibly with a side of “You have your (various – social and magical/religious) traditions to draw on here, you don’t have to do this entirely by yourself”.
 
If I were to turn this into a request to any ancestors and gods who happen to be listening, I would ask: “Help me to trust. Help me to ask out loud.”
 
~*~
 
Motion: Yard work and modeling. My lower back and hips are not thrilled about this, but I’m glad to be doing work I enjoy.
 
Attention: The weather. Paying attention to the temperature, but also to the wind and whether or not there’s rain in the forecast. But also paying attention to what I have in my freezer, what I have in my fridge, what needs to be eaten first. Yeah. The power outage is over, and I’m still watching to see if the lights are flickering.
 
Gratitude: Light. electricity. The fridge and freezer are working again and we didn’t have any food spoilage. Pretty women who think I’m cool (and cool women who think I’m pretty, tbh). A ride home from work today, with further rides for the rest of the week. Maybe getting to (finally) see a friend tomorrow, who I haven’t seen since August. Having a duvet to add to the bed now the the weather is cold enough to screw with my hips and make it hard to sleep otherwise. Spending the Equinox chatting and knitting and drinking tea with a bunch of bi nerds in my neighbourhood. Hot food on a cold day. Getting to watch the stars come out and the moon come up with my lovely wife while drinking white wine on the back steps. So many beautiful things.
 
Inspiration: Crisp nights. Leather season. Blustery, bright days. Misty mornings and rushing clouds. Autumn is beautiful.
 
Creation: Not a whole lot, tbh. Though I did decide to take part in the local Smut Slam, pretty much on the spur of the moment. Wrote a less-than-five-minutes story based on events from my own life (done as a series of vignettes draped over the frame of a confession), memorized it, and presented it over the course of about an hour. And I’m pretty pleased with myself for that one.

New Year New You 2016 (…and 17): Week 20 – Hearth Appreciation

I’m doing Miss Sugar’s New Year New You Experiment in Radical Magical Transformation (again) because I find it’s a really good way to kick my own ass into getting things done. You should try it!
 
Instructions: Do something nice for your home.
 
Tarot Card: The ten of earth, obviously. (This is one of my favourite cards in the Wildwood deck. It’s one of the ones that made me decided to get it, and it bears a certain resemblance to the “home base” of my psychic hearth, which doesn’t hurt).
 
So. This prompt. What Miss Sugar says about how it’s hard to keep all the chainsaws in the air? She’s right. And I can SO relate to the feelings of frustration, overwhelm, and unraveling that come with having a home whose mess has gone beyond my capacity to know where to even start.
I’ve spent a lot of the last year-and-a-bit doing the money-hustle (which has been going better over the past four months than most of the time previous there-to – so yay) BUT, no surprise, it’s meant that I’ve had a lot less time available to do hearth-tending than I typically like.
This past week, though, and the one coming have been blessed (uh… ish…) with less paid work than usual, meaning: yeah, less money, which is a problem, but also: MOAR TIME! I’ve been able to get out and work on my freaking poetry manuscript (thank you, gods!) AND I’ve been able to do some cleaning (beyond dishes) and canning (at all), which has me feeling a whole lot better. I’ve even managed to light my altars for the first time in MONTHS (bad pagan…) which, I gotta say, is SUCH a relief.
 
Tonight I’m cleaning my counter (dishes + a solid wipe-down of surfaces), prepping the first bunch of tomatoes for canning, lighting my altars again, and putting a bouquet of flowering apple mint out for the Ladies, because… I owe them some attention, frankly.
 
Anyway. Time to get on that. ❤
 
 
TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.

Mid-July: In Which Everything Goes To Hell – 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 some planting, a tiny bit of harvesting, and a little bit of… building?
 
I rescued three cucumber plants and a zucchini from Certain Death in a neglected loblaws garden center… about a week ago. I transplanted them, plus one of my pre-existing but too-heavily-shaded-by-beans-and-radishes cucumbers and a couple of my probably-pumpkin plants to:
A new in-ground bed that I put together by piling up bolted mustard stems, overlaying them with some newspaper, and then emptying a bag of soil on top of everything.
They seem to be… mostly not dying? Which is sort of what I was going for. One of the (very small…) cucumbers is flowering, as is the probably-a-pumpkin (you can see both below). The zucchini occasionally tosses out a male blossom as well. I’m hoping that, by August, they will be blooming with the lady-flowers and starting to hint at bearing fruit.
 

Cucumber plants plus something that is probably a pumpkin, but might be a zucchini.  You can also see the bottom of the trellis I put up over the weekend.  We'll see if it holds and/or if anything manages to climb it.

Cucumber plants plus something that is probably a pumpkin, but might be a zucchini. You can also see the bottom of the trellis I put up over the weekend. We’ll see if it holds and/or if anything manages to climb it.


 
So there’s that.
 
I’ve given my daikon-radish “fence” a major haircut, so that the beans and eggplants and everyone else in that bed can actually get some light. This is less of thing for the Ground Cherries, which can handle a bit of shade (though my particular plant is probably getting too much from the tomatoes to produce much fruit. We’ll figure it out).
My jalapeno has three little peppers starting on it.
My eggplants have, between the two of them, three fruits developing.
My yellow bell pepper is… Let’s say I’m not holding my breath on that one…
But my tomatoes!
It’s been magnificently rainy this summer, and kind of on the cool side, so pretty much everything is moving slowly. I’m used to getting my first ripe cherry tomatoes, oh, about two weeks ago, and as of now, they’re all still green.
Which is fine. They’ll get there. Even if I’m bringing them indoors in October and letting them ripen next to an apple in the kitchen.
And look! This is my first year growing beefsteak tomatoes! I have… ANY! 😀
 
Beefsteak tomatoes, at the slightly-yellowish-green phase of edging towards ripening.

Beefsteak tomatoes, at the slightly-yellowish-green phase of edging towards ripening.


 
I’m pretty sure I’ve got at least one roma tomato, too, and the Big Tomatoes are in the ground, rather than the raised beds, so they’ve actually got enough root depth and aren’t getting themselves sick with blossom-end-rot and what-not. Hurrah! 😀 (Not that I’m counting my tomatoes before they’re ripe, or anything, but I’m hopeful, y’know?)
 
In further squash news: Danger Squirrel and company have eaten most, possibly all, of the waldham butternut and golden-zucchini seeds I planted, many months ago. But this bruiser that came up in the compost heap is, I’m fairly confident, a Fairy Tale Pumpkin:
 
Fairly confident that this is a Fairy Tale Pumpkin growing out of my compost heap, as squash are wont to do.

Fairly confident that this is a Fairy Tale Pumpkin growing out of my compost heap, as squash are wont to do.


 
Fairy Tale pumpkins are great, in that they are HUGE, and they finish ripening off the vine (like: harvest it when it’s dark green, streaked faintly with orange, at Samhain, but don’t cut it open until the rind is a milk-chocolate brown, around Imbolg). BUT they are not so great on flavour. Like ponca butternut (an ancestor of waldham butternut) and any zucchini you’ve ever left too long on the vine, a lot of their size is water. So they’re not great for things like pie or baked veggie side dishes where the squash flavour is something you care about. But they’re excellent for adding to braises and stews where the extra liquid will be soaked up by barley (for example) and the otherwise mild pumpkin flavour will be augmented by whatever else you’re cooking with it.
 
In other news!
My raspberry bush is FRUITING!!!
My raspberry bush is fruiting!

My raspberry bush is fruiting!


 
The friends who gave it to me warned me that it hadn’t fruited in all the years it had been in their yard. I said I was willing to give it a shot, as they wondered if being near other raspberries – like the ones in the alley behind my house – might encourage it to fruit.
That wasn’t what did it.
What did it was a big heap of bone meal dumped around the roots of the plant. Turns out, there was fruit (ish… proto-fruit) all along, it just needed some phosphorus and calcium to help the fruit develop into something that could actually ripen. YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY!
😀
 
So I harvested a couple of raspberries from my own canes today. Hopefully more will follow.
Beyond that, I haven’t been harvesting a whole lot. There have been garlic scapes, the occasional bit of chard, a heap of snow peas(!!!) and the last of the radishes. Oh. And a sprig of mint for hibiscus iced tea. But that’s been it. I think there will need to be a kale salad in my near-future, though, as the Cavalo Nero is getting bigger, and could do with a trim.
 
IN THE KITCHEN there has been… not a huge amount of activity, honestly. And a bunch of stuff that didn’t work.
I tried to make a sour dough starter. Which started beautifully, but died very quickly, in spite of regular feeding. I think I must have been doing it wrong. (That said, if I can make a chef from scratch every time…? That wouldn’t be the end of the world…)
 
I wound up making “by any means neccessary” bread, using 1 tsp dry yeast + a cup of kefir and… you guys, it’s not good. Like, “it makes great toast” levels of not good. It looks beautiful, and smells awesome, but it tastes like, well, like a fermented milk product (which is not what I look for in a sandwich-canvas) and tends to get soggy REALLY easily.
 
Speaking of fermented milk products… my kefir got fruit flies. In the worst way. I had to toss the entire batch, plus about 1/4 of the actual grains, because I wasn’t able to separate them from the corpses of fruit flies gone to their fermented-dairy graves.
On the plus side, the grains I was able to save are still alive and kicking and making kefir, so I can keep churning out coffee cake and scones until the heat turns up in these parts. So there’s that.
 
The Ex is coming by in two weeks to collect all the stuff they’ve been storing in our basement (among other places), so my wife and I have been moving some things around. Our antique kitchen table is now The Bird Stand (it looks good there, and it means it’s not blocking the washer and dryer… not that the washer and dryer are hooked up or anything… >.>) and we are sorting out where to store all the bird food and bird toys and such-like. It’s a work in progress.
 
Which… So is the rest of the main floor. I know this section is about what’s going on “in the kitchen”, but our front room (when we moved in, it was – briefly – my wife’s workshop, and it’s been a never-quite-defined half-storage room ever since she got her own shop) is currently the staging area for both The Ex’s stuff and a bunch of items we’re holding for a friend who’s getting divorced and will need help with furniture and other stuff when the time comes. When that’s all been taken care of, we’re going to turn everything around in there, so that my desk is facing the window and the bistro set I’ve been referring to, somewhat hopefully, as “the dining room set”, will be moved into a more accessible area, so that we can actually, y’know, dine at it.
The living room is looking better than it has in a while (hurrah!) though there are still things that need touching up. The birds are fed and watered and have had their cages cleaned (and, in Fiona’s case, some of her stuff has been moved around… though not by very much. I don’t want her to get bored…), and the vacuuming actually got done, albeit not by me.
 
The kitchen, to drag this back onto the topic at hand, is still a mess. Moving the table into the living room means I’m out about six square feet of “shelf” space, and the counter is feeling the pinch (and, consequently, I am feeling the “Augh, I don’t know where to staaaaart!” that I feel whenever there’s no clear space to put something down).
I’m continuing to use up my crushed tomatoes and my salsa (I made SO MUCH last summer), but I have a LOT of preserves still to go through. Crab apple jam, pear and pumpkin butters, chokecherry-plum relish, jalapeno jelly, a jar or two of pickled beans (they’re lovely on sandwiches, but see above re: soggy bread), and a LOT of gifted preserves (delicious gifts, mind you) from other folks. I need to do an inventory, and I need to put up shelves. This might or might not be the summer that happens, but it needs to happen. I have too many empty canning jars and nowhere for them to live. Too many (Ha! Meaning two, at the moment!) fermentation projects on the go. It’s time to add more storage to the kitchen.
 
 
Anyway, so yeah. Not a whole hell of a lot going on in terms of house-hold productivity this week, but that’s where things are at. Did I mention I had a grease fire (small, put out quickly and easily with baking soda) AND boiled a pot dry today? I did. “Productive Home”, indeed. :-\
 
 
TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.

First Weekend in June – 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 a lot of planting!
 
I think I’ve got the garden pretty-much planted for the year. I mean, yes, I’d still like to get my hands on some lovage (and I may have a source!), but other than that and maybe transplanting a bunch of winter squash, I think we’re set. It’s time to grow-grow-grow!
 
Planting(s):
The beans, winter squash, and yellow zucchini seeds that I had just planted, the last time I did one of these things, are poking their heads out of the earth and starting to look like they might grow into Serious Plants.
That said, most of the winter squash… doesn’t seem to have come up? It looks like I got a package of Mostly Duds on that one. BUT a few are coming up – which I’ll need to move around slightly, as it appears Danger Squirrel has been moving things around on me – AND I’ve got some sprouting in the compost heap, where they’ll stay as they should be super happy in there. The winter squash (which I think miiiiiight be Fairy Tale Pumpkin) that sprouted early-on from compod seeds needs to be transplanted (again) so that it can get its roots inper soil than is available in my raised beds, but it seems to be growing fairly happily, which is a good sign.
I’m saying that I might actually get a real squash CROP this year, even though I know it’s way too early to be counting my pumpkins and butternuts at this point.
The daikon radish “perimeter fence” is also doing its thing – though it remains to be seen if it does its JOB, which is keeping the soil IN, and the marauding runner-roots of crab-grass and creeping charlie (which I love, and use as ground-cover in the front yard) OUT of, my vegetable patch – but they’re growing, so that’s good.
My transplanted rainbow chard seems to have recovered from being unceremoniously uprooted and moved around, which is kind of a relief. Ditto, the breakfast radishes, which had been growing all in a clump and are now much more spread out.
In addition to the seeds that are coming up, I planted a whole bunch of starts. Two ground-cherries, from a friend up the street, a jalapeno pepper and an aubergine from another couple of friends (also up the street – I live in a goooood neighbourhood), and a bundle of goodies that I bought, once I had the $20 to do it (freelancer life, I tell you…), including:
A Lebanese Cucumber (because I think my first one got frost-zapped, or close to it, and I wanted to make sure I had some cukes this year)
A Japanese(?) Eggplant – the long, skinny ones
Chives (the standard-issue onion type, that get the purple flowers)
Lemon Balm
Sorrel (we’ll see if it takes off, the way my friend’s – also up the street – has in her shady front garden)
Black Cherry baby tomatoes
Roma tomatoes (I don’t actually remember the variety off the top of my head)
Beefsteak tomatoes (for my wife, who loves them. I’m… not holding out a tonne of hope, but we’ll see)
 
The friend who gave me the ground cherries may have some “mild salsa peppers” to send my way, as well. (Their parents have a Tiny Hippie Farm in the Valley, where they raise laying hens, and they often have spare plant-starts to give away to their youngster’s garden-enabled friends).
 
In Other News: My raspberry bush has one (1) flower! But there’s a strong possibility of more, so I am starting to get hopeful for fruit in the back yard! 😀
 
Harvesting:
Lots of rhubarb.
Lots of mustard greens.
You’ll hear more about both of those, below.
Beyond that, the garden is still young, and most of my perennials are flavourful herbs, rather than early veggies, so there’s not been a lot to pull out of the ground just yet. I admit, I’m hoping for a week or two more of cool weather (although maybe not as cool as it’s been…) so that my peas and greens can stay comfortable and my radishes have a solid chance to get big enough to harvest. >.> It’s funny. I want my peas to start flowering, but I don’t want my khol crops to bolt. But those things happen at the same time! I have to remember that if I want my fruit crops to start producing, I have to let my greens go to seed as well. 😉
 
 
IN THE KITCHEN there has been fermenting. And cleaning. And furniture-moving. O.O
 
Ferments:
So I treated my kefir grains to some whipping cream. As you can imagine, it’s much thicker than it has been, AND it’s delicious. Not that I’m going to switch my kefir to an all-cream-all-the-time diet, but it’s definitely something I’m doing again, and will probably try to do every now and then for the foreseeable future. I’m not sure that I could use this extra-thick kefir to make, effectively, a sour-cream “cheese cake” type custard, but… maybe? Certainly something I’d like to try!
Earlier this week, I made orange-pops, which is a recipe I got out of My First Cookbook EVAR (I think I was seven, if not slightly younger, when I was given this cookbook). Basically, you take a (small – slightly more than 1C) tin of frozen orange juice, mix in 2 cups of yoghurt, and a tablespoon of vanilla, blend with a fork (or a whisk), spoon it into freezer-cups, and freeze it over night. I used kefir instead of yoghurt. Tastes great, but it doesn’t freeze super-solid (unlike the chocolate-coconut ones), which means sometimes I pull the stick out with no popsicle attached. I wonder if adding coconut milk to this recipe would help or hinder on that front…
In other fermentation news, we have gone through about 1/3 of the sour kraut. I’m enjoying it, my wife is enjoying it, and tbh I’m also loving how quick and easy it is to add veggies to a sandwich – no washing, no chopping, because it’s all already done. TO THAT END, when I pulled a grocery-bag full of mustard greens, dandelion greens, and Vietnamese garlic greens on Wednesday (and picked some wild grape leaves, on the way home), I decided to ferment them into something like a sour kraut (except not, because these greens are waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay more delicate). It’s an experiment – I threw a little bit of onion, and a bunch of mustard seeds and (dried) coriander, plus a bird chili into the mix – and we’ll see how it goes. I HOPE it’s good, as it’s a good way to use up pulled greens, but… Look, honestly? Three days later, there was no bubbling going on. I added some kefir whey (I wanted to skip that step, to see if I could do a vegan ferment and also avoid the mold possibilities in letting dairy just hang out on top of the salt water like that, but oh well) and we’ll see if it helps, but I’m not holding my breath. I’m wondering if the dandelion greens have too many natural defenses (unlikey?) or if I just washed my greens a little too well? We shall see.
I have also made bread but, since it’s not sour dough, I’m not sure that it counts as “fermenting” at this point. Still! Bread! The loaves turned out small, but well. And that’ll do.
 
Other Kitchen Stuff:
One of my favourite Heathens is coming to visit for a few days (in town for a conference, and we’re conveniently located), so I’ve been tidying All The Things, prepping the guest-room, getting a spare house-key cut, checking my stocks to see what kind of vegan food I can whip up for dinner on Monday, that sort of thing. BUT I also spent a big chunk of yesterday moving in a WASHER AND DRYER (!!!) which meant my house felt really chaotic for a while.
The washer and dryer, which were given to us by some generous friends who were moving & at the same time and said we could have their old set FREE if we were able to ourselves, are currently sitting in my kitchen, where my ancient kitchen table used to be. Technically, the table is still the – we’ve just cleared it off (which took several days worth of finding homes for Things that got dumped onto the table because they didn’t have anywhere else to live) and shifted it around a bit.
I suspect the new machines won’t be hooked up for, probably, another month. the washing machine needs to be further moved into our basement (which… it may not fit through the door, but we’re willing to give it a shot) where the hook-up is – or else my ex-contractor wife will need to renovate the kitchen, which (as this is a rental) we’d rather not do – and the dryer will need to be hooked up to the vent (which IS in the kitchen) and set on top of… something… so that it’s not blocking the kitchen’s Cold Air Return. Both machines need a bit of a clean before that happens.
We’ll also need to find a new spot for that table, but an old friend (read: ex-partner), whose stuff we’ve been storing for two years, has decided to make a more permanent move to Alberta and will be collecting the rest of their things from us some time in the next month. Which means the plant stand and small cupboard we’ve been using as bird-cage stands will need to be replaced. With, for example, an antique drop-leaf table.
None of that has happened yet, but the table is tidy for the first time in a year-and-a-half, and the laundry machines are IN, and that’s a major part of the battle. I’m really happy about it. 😀
 
ANYWAY. That’s been my Productive Home week this week. Still to do: Make a vegan dessert (either chocolate Wacky Cake or a rhubarb pie), vacuum the main floor, sweep upstairs, and put clean sheets on the guest-bed. Also figure out whether or not I can hang a set of curtains today. :-\ (The walls are lath and plaster, which means stuff meant to be screwed into drywall… doesn’t work so well. But also, our guest would probably appreciate some curtains). ONWARDS!
 
 
TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.

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.