Tag Archives: poetry

X is for XXX – Pagan Blog Project 2013

And so we come to X. As an Anglophone who doesn’t have much to do (if anything) with Aztec, Mayan, Chinese (maybe) or Greek deities, the X prompt gives me pause. So much so that it apparently stopped my in my tracks last year.
Okay.
 
But this year, I think I can manage at least one entry on the subject of “X” or, in this case, “XXX”. Much to my surprise, I have a goddess of sexworkers in my pantheon.
People who know me, or who read my other blog, maybe won’t think this is all that surprising, but back when I sent out my all-call for deities (this was just over ten years ago, if I think about it), I was a staunch anti-porn feminist and it was only much later – like “when I got divorced” later – that I realized that I’d done something Funny with my Goddess Job Descriptions.
 
Earth Goddess Job Description: Hearth, home, abundance, growth, parenting, food, cooking, shelter, pregnancy.
 
Sun Goddess Job Description: Passion, dance, wealth, money, careers, courage, overt sexuality.
 
I had split my understanding of “abundance” and, in my case, “the purpose of my ovaries” into two parts (or three parts, if you bring Maia – with her queerness, creativity, peer-to-peer attachment bonds, and midwifery – into the equation). One of them had (and has) a lot in her jurisdiction that is very much the socially-approved-of realm of The Wife, even though (to my knowledge) Mattaer has never had a spouse of any kind. (I might be wrong about that. She’s just never mentioned anyone to me, is all). The other was… all the stuff I was afraid of, that I felt were things that happened *to* me, that would be done *to* me, rather than *by* me.
 
A year after that, I was in a romantic relationship with a woman who was involved in various areas of the sex industry, and it was only when she had a really bad night[1] one New Year’s Eve that I realized that one of my Goddesses – with her courage, her sexuality, and her career/money work – was exactly the deity to be praying to under those circumstances.
 
Much, much later, after that relationship had ended, I got asked to perform for the AGM of the local sexworkers rights organization, and I wrote the following poem for that set.
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Published! :-D

Happy Imbolg, all!
 
I’ve got chocolate custard flavoured with vanilla, sweet orange, and cloves[1] baking in the oven, and a new poem published at Hyacinth Noir (go check it out).
 
~*~
 
 
Imbolg Chocolate Custard
 
INGREDIENTS
 
6 eggs
1/2 C milk
1/2 C cream
1/2 C sugar
1/2 C semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 tbsp butter
Pinch salt
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp orange extract
1 tbsp vanilla extract
 
 
DIRECTIONS
 
Fill a shallow baking pan (I use a glass cake pan) 1/3 full of water and set aside.
Grease an oven-proof dish (like a casserole dish or some corningware), and set it in the water pan.
Preheat the oven to 350F
Blend eggs, milk, orange extract, and sugar in a 2C glass measuring cup (or a small bowl) – use an immersion blender for this, as it will make things really smooth.
In a sauce pan (or a double boiler) on MEDIUM melt the chocolate chips with the butter, vanilla, cloves, salt, and cream, whisking gently until very smooth.
Reduce heat to LOW, and add the egg mixture to the chocolate mixture.
Whisk mixture steadily while it thickens (takes 5-10 minutes. If it winds up getting kind of grainy, it’s okay. Not as smooth as you might like, but it doesn’t hurt anything).
When the mixture is thickened, pour it into the greased oven-proof dish.
Put everything in the oven.
Bake for 45-60 minutes
Remove from oven and allow to cool
Serve on its own, or spoon over angel-food-cake or baked pears (or both).
 
Enjoy!
 
 
~*~
 
 
TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
 
 
[1] This combination invites joy, love, sensuality, prosperity, & bliss, while banishing jealousy. Poly Custard for the win! 😀 As a bonus, sweet orange and cloves (although not-so-much vanilla) correspond to fire and the sun and, thus, are good for honouring Brigid and/or the noticeably longer days, as is appropriate for this time of year. 😀

Crafting Update – Candles (and, to a lesser extent, Jewelry)

Flower Moon started about a week ago (for all that the actual flowers have been around for ages). Chances are that the flowers in question, this year, are roses and hawthorn blossoms. The crocuses and service berry blossoms of cooler months and earlier new moons are long-gone, and the apple, pear, and cherry trees are putting out their fruit (long from ripe, yet, but you can see it forming). Bu the hardy roses I see in people’s front yards and lining parking lots, parks, and bus terminals? They’re just opening up right now, a dozen shades of pink – from palest blushes and bisques to magentas, fuschias, and madders so deep they become purples and reds – filling the air with their scent and their promise of summer still coming into its fullness.

I’ve been working in the wonderful world of crafts today.
I’ve worked on my Honey-Month-inspired earring collection, and I’ve also made beeswax candles.

Not many of the latter.

One is an experiment to see if the “dark beeswax” pre-tabbed tea-light wicks I got actually do have a two-inch burn pool. If yes, I’m set for making votive-esques. If no, it’s back to the drawing board (but at least I’ll have lots of tealight wicks). I’m burning the last of my previous (thinner wicked) votive-esque in the hopes of doing a refill (there’s lots of unburned wax in this one) while switching out the used up (soon) wick for one of the new, thicker tealight wicks, just to see what burns better/more.

The other candles – seven in total – were re-fills (new wick, replenished wax) for the tealights that live on my altars. My altars are all lit up now. It’s been a while, so I think my gods are happy for the quick meal. I’ll have to spend some time doing refills on the beeswax tea lights I made earlier so that I don’t run out. (They are shallow tealights – they only burn for an hour or so, typically – so I go through them pretty fast).

I find my new wicks are (possibly due to being thicker) slower to light. We’ll see what else is different about them – will the tealights burn faster because the wick is thicker? Will they burn more evenly/completely?
We’ll find out! 🙂

My tealights don’t look anything like this.

Anyway. That’s my crafting update.

TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden. 🙂

Refilling the Well

So, I spent the last few days visiting family in various parts of the province. This included (a) about 8-10 hours (round trip) in the car, mostly staring out the window and living in my own head, and (b) spending a lot of time away from computers and close to water, rocks, trees, and good food.

Julia Cameron (in her book, The Artist’s Way) talks about “refilling the well”. As in: getting out, doing stuff that isn’t work-work-work, that is meant to top up the part of yourself where all those ideas actually come from.

The first time I tried working my way (ish) through The Artist’s Way, I aproached the well-refilling exercises (“Artist’s Dates”, where you take yourself Out and do something fun and interesting) with a whole slew of capital-R Rules. My Artist’s Dates couldn’t cost money. And they had to be intentionally solitary. And they couldn’t be something “frivolous” or “shallow” like going to Sephora and playing with all the makeup testers, or whatever[1]. Which, not surprisingly, meant that – once Winter hit and I could no-longer use a long, rambling walk as my weekly Artist’s Date – I stopped doing them pretty damn quick.

And, strictly speaking, I totally haven’t picked them back up again.
But every so often, I get the chance to do something like this. To get away from the laptop and, somewhat more to the point, away from my email (hoy…) and… it really has a noticeable effect. As in: I wrote a short story today, and it flowed, and made sense, and wasn’t full of hideous, lumpy, clunky bits, and it was acutally good. Other times when I’ve done something like this, the result has been a poem or a new jewelry collection, but regardless. I’m noticing a pattern.

So now I’m wondering if, possibly, I should make a point of having no-computer days, or something. Maybe a bit like Cathrynne M. Valente’s Abbey Nights. Or my sweetie and I will just start hitting up a museum every Thursday or something.

Either way, I think I need to start taking time away from the email with enough frequency that I can maybe (in theory) get my writing groove back.

I was saying to my sweetie, earlier this evening, that I miss the ease of writing that I had back when I was in such an emotionally awful situation that writing stories was literally the only option I had for speaking about, and dealing with, the stuff that was going on.
I don’t at all miss the situation.
But I miss the stories and the ease with-which they came out of me.
So the goal is to find a (sustainable) means of getting that flow back, without having the rest of my life got to, er, pot.

Anyway. That’s where I’m at just now.

TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.

[1] Miss Sugar has a thing or two to say about glamour, and why it actually matters. When I start feeling like I’m being shallow (or similar) because I care about visual presentation and/or sensual experiences, I go and read her blog. 🙂

Looking for Omens (in all the wrong places…) – A Progress Report of Sorts

The trick with having multiple blogs is that you always feel like you’re neglecting one of them. I’ve been neglecting Syrens for what feels like weeks now ( about 10 days, actually), although it’s been getting a fair bit of input recently. But, of course, this means I feel like I’m neglecting Urban Meliad.
Figures.

Ice/Hunger Moon is coming up (on Sunday, by the looks of things[1]) and I’m trying to get my ducks in a row with regards to my take on the New Year, New You project.

On that note:
I dreamed, last night, that I was looking after an excitable little boy who – for reasons I don’t entirely understand (I think he was just unthinkingly enthusiastic and/or wanting to impressive by emphatically getting the answer right) decided to start throwing lit candle(s) around the place.
The candle he threw (a) broke, but (b) didn’t stop burning. Although (c) nothing else caught fire (thank goodness) and I was able to put the (still burning) candle back together. He got sniffly about it. I think he was afraid he was going to get in Big Trouble.

My “big accomplishment” today has been Actually Watering the Plants – which I’ve also been neglecting. And noticing that I’m avoiding being social with a lot of people. Huh… Can’t tell if that’s just a wintery desire for hibernation or what, but it’s there.

So that’s what I’m noticing, so far, with regards to Miss Sugar’s latest New Year New You prompt regarding looking for signs and omens. (I’m not exactly looking for Signs and Omens, but I’m looking for recurring themes. No idea if that’s the same thing…)

Anyway. Tonight I’m in a poetry show and, hopefully, also getting some knitting done. (I’m trying to finish a mostly-virgin-wool, partially-merino, partially-other-stuff, black and red beret for next weekend. Wish me luck!)

TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden

[1] I confess, I rely more on my We’Moon date book than on the actual (frequently overcast) sky for this one, so…

Unexpectedly Lammas-Related, Poetry-Inspired Baking

Yeah, I know. That title’s a mouthful. A mouthful of deliciousness!

See, today I made Peach Jam. Specifically, I made peach jam with the addition of pear-cider vinegar and a few strawberries I had lying around (it’s a remarkably pink orange colour as a result of both the peach skins and the strawberries, I don’t mind telling you).
I used my last two 2C jars to can the stuff, though, so when I was left with about half a cup of fresh jam lying in the pot with nowhere to put it (except in me, of course), I decided that it was time to do more baking.

So I wrote a cupcake recipe (see below).

Of course, me being me, I didn’t actually stick to the recipe once I wrote it. My recipe calls for eggs, yoghurt, and a couple of other bits and pieces that I didn’t have on-hand at home. I switched up a bunch of stuff (including adding half a cup of fine cornmeal to cover the ground almonds I didn’t have, and adding a handful of chopped white chocolate plus a few dried apricot bits and dried cranberries, all of-which came from an ancient and failed attempt at making white chocolate bark one Winter Solstice) and baked with what I had. The recipe you’ll find, below, is actually an amalgamation of the original recipe with the extra thrown-in-stuff added (either as definite ingredients or as optional ones).

The resulting baked goods, possibly due to the cornmeal, taste more like a very, VERY fluffy muffin than like a cupcake. BUT they’re still uber-tasty and I recommend them, for sure. 😀

Some Notes:
The recipe itself is in part inspired by the jam I made, but it’s also inspired by Peach Creamed Honey (I hope that link works for everyone), the award-winning poem from Amal El-Mohtar’s gorgeous book of poetry, The Honey Month. So, obviously, the best choice for the small amount of honey called-for in this recipe is actual peach-creamed honey. Which I have no notion where to find. BUT it seems to work nicely with clover honey, so do what you like.
Also: While I didn’t mean for this to end up being Lammas-related, it includes honey[1], cornmeal[2], peaches[3] AND jam[4]. So I’m feeling like it’s kind of Seasonally Thematic, half by accident.

Anyway. Without further ado, the recipe:

*~*~*~*~*

PEACH CREAMED CUPCAKES

Ingredients

For the Cupcakes

1½ C flour (wheat, oat, barley, mixture, whatever)
1 C ground almonds (OR ½ C ground almonds + ½ C fine cornmeal – which is what I used)
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt

½ C sour cream OR yoghurt
½ C margarine/butter/shortening
½ C brown sugar
¼ C peach jam
2 tbsp creamed honey (liquid honey is also okay)
2 egg yolks
1 tbsp vanilla extract
½ tsp orange extract (optional)

2 egg whites, beaten until stiff

¼ C chopped dried peaches (may substitute dried apricots – the emphasis here is on “dried”)
¼ C white chocolate chips

For the Frosting

1C icing sugar
¼ C margarine/butter
1 tsp orange extract OR vanilla extract
1 tbsp peach jam

Flaked almonds OR strips of orange zest (to garnish)


Directions

Preheat oven to 350F

In a small bowl, beat the egg whites until they are very stiff

In a large bowl, cream together the sour cream, egg yolks, sugar, and margarine

Add the jam, vanilla, honey, and optional orange extract, and blend until smooth

In a separate bowl (or not) mix the dry ingredients together, then add them to the sour cream mixture and blend gently until smooth, being careful not to over-mix

Fold in the beaten egg whites

Add the chopped dried fruit and the white chocolate chips and fold in until well-distributed

Spoon the batter into paper-lined muffin cups

Bake for 20-35 minutes (until golden brown)

Remove from oven and let stand ten minutes before moving the cupcakes to a wire rack to finish cooling

When cupcakes are fully cooled, frost them with the frosting and decorate them with orange zest, flaked almonds, or whatever your heart desires

*~*~*~*~*

Please note: My oven only has one element (as opposed to the usual two) and so a dozen cupcakes tend to take a good half hour for me. If you have a fully-functional oven, chances are good that your cupcakes will only take 15-20 minutes. Be aware.

And, yeah. That’s my recipe. 😀

– Cheers,
– Meliad the Birch Maiden

[1] Harvested, around hear, in Mid-to-Late July. (You can also do a harvest around Hallowe’en, actually, which I’ll be keeping in mind come late October).

[2] It’s corn-harvesting season at the moment and, if you do Lammas as a specifically grain-related festival, that’s your grain if you’re in my bioregion.

[3] Currently in season in Ontario.

[4] home-canning, related to harvesting and planning for the future, plus the jam includes strawberries[5] and locally-brewed[6] pear-cider vinegar. I could also note that the dried fruit, drying being another method of preserving produce, fits the same correspondences as the jam. Just saying. 🙂

[5] Also in season (though getting late) in Ontario.

[6] By a friend of mine who had a batch of pear cider go… awry. It’s a gorgeous, mild, seriously fragrant vinegar that I love using in desserts. 🙂

On Bread

I made bread yesterday.  And cookies.

I know.  Baking when it’s 41C (that something like 106F, for you fahrenheit people) with the humidity, why was I turning on the oven??

 

But it’s something I do.  I’ve been baking bread since I was about fifteen, off and on (but mostly on), and it’s something I watched my mom do when I was little and we lived in the Maritimes and she’d do it every week for both us and the farmer’s market where she had a stall (bread, fresh produce, and bouquets of marsh flowers, fyi).

 

I love that bread is alive (even though, of course, you kill it when you bake it).  I love it because it’s such a huge staple food — the way rice is in just about every part of the world.  The staff of life.

 

I’ve got a cook book called Laurel’s Kitchen (I’ve got the original, which was given to my parents before I was born, but I’m linking you to The New Laurel’s Kitchen because it’s waaaaaaaaaaaaay less expensive than the original) and, while I definitely don’t agree with all of its politics, I love the way it talks about bread as a living thing that nurtures the makers/eaters on multiple levels.

It does.

When I bake bread — most of the time, anyway — I feel like I’m doing spiritual practice. My deities are those of hearth and home and harvest as much as they are of meadow and moon, sun and ground and crossroads. So when I take flour(s), warm water, honey and yeast, salt and oil and (sometimes) milk and eggs, and turn them into a living dough that I then turn into an edible substance of deliciousness… I’m working with the flesh of a number of my deities, and I’m doing something kind of akin to magic (sort of like alchemy?).

Sometimes I wonder if that’s why so many people (even now, when most of the folks I know do their own kitchen alchemy, making pickles or jam or paneer) react with “You make your own bread??? From scratch???” when they find out.
Other times, I figure they react like that because, no matter how easy bread-making actually is, the theoretical time-consumption and physical work is… a little intimidating if you haven’t tried it before.

Anyway. Those are just some very scattered thoughts on bread. Here. Have a poem:

*~*~*~*~*

Bread

Anyone who tells you
Bread
is a science
is lying
or misinformed

Oh, sure
if you follow the directions
explicitly
to the letter
(six cups of flour
a tablespoon of yeast)
you’ll get something to eat
it may even be loaf-shaped

But it won’t be Bread

Because Bread is an art
The art
of making miracles
from scratch

It is breathing
life
back into the dead
(desicated bodies
the blood of trees
even stones)

It is taking what you have
whatever you have
(cornmeal
mashed potatoes
beer
sawdust)
and turning it
and turning it
and turning it
until
by fire and life
and the work your hands
you have turned it
into something new

Bread
is an act of worship

It is the art
of making love
solid

like flesh

*~*~*~*~*

Cheers,
Meliad the Birch Maiden