Seasonal Sustenance

I feel so lucky to be dating a man who actually asks ME to go Christmas shopping with HIM. And who is secure enough (and loves his niece enough) to spend a whole 20 minutes in the pink-and-girly plastic-toys-with-hair aisle at a large and busy store on a Friday Night while we agonize over which MyLittlePony is the right one to give a well-loved four-year-old. And then he bought her two.

Also, there are three cats snoozing on my bed right now. Mostly because I turned the heater on in my room, and cats like to be warm. The grey boys are all curled up together in a ball on one end, and Abbigale rests in majesty on her heated pet-pad with the flannel pillowcase on it (washable) at the other end. And there is a bit of half-hearted eyes-closed paw-licking going on, which is the very best kind, except when they take turns cleaning each other's faces.

Tarot, Intuition, and Personal Symbology

So I'm part of a monthly Journaling Group through SisterSpirit. SS is a local nonprofit whose focus is on providing safe space for women to practice their personal spirituality, with an emphasis on Paganism. And they offer a lot of donation-based monthly workshops.

So the one I'm personally most at home in is the Journaling Workshop. We usually have a set theme for so many months in a row, and then a new set theme. Our last theme was so amazing and powerful-- we journaled our way through the seven primary chakras. Now, we are creating our own Tarot decks. For me, these two topics have become entwined in a really wonderful way.

I find myself working more and more with the concepts of Chakra energies in the body. And while my special Tarot Deck, the Medicine Woman Cards, are truly a gift to work with... There are more symbols that hold various personal meanings to me. And I wanted to find a way to access those symbols as I do the messages in the Tarot. So I started by making lists of symbols I find important in my spiritual journey-- symbols found either in my reading and research into various existing sets of symbols (like the Trees or the Chakras), or in my personal life story.

And I promptly got very overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of the list. Our world is FULL of meaningful symbology. So I decided to start with something simple and central. I decided to start with the Chakras. With the first Chakra-- Root Chakra. I made two cards that to me hold so much power and meaning that they have become precious and beautiful. Then I bogged down. And right about that time, SS Journaling took up the "make your own Tarot Deck" mission. I got inspired all over again. And I've done the preliminary work on any number of cards since then. I'm not done, either. There are a lot of workshops left to Journal my way through, and I'm staying open to inspiration as those meetings of spirit and pen emerge.

What I find is that the cards I've made that I am most drawn to-- their power and their intuitive meaning-- are the ones most specifically geared to my personal awareness of symbols in my life. For example, I find Universal Wisdom most clearly represented in two forms-- the Guide in the Forest, and the Wise Old Fish. And I've combined those two forms over a background of stars. I just love that card. I could spend a long time sitting and meditating on Universal Wisdom, with that card in my hand as a focal point.

There are other cards that hold a more general meaning-- the symbols are ones easily identified by more than just me. For example, I have an intricate glittery silver fabric, and inset over it is a moon with horns and wings. The Goddess, in a somewhat traditional form. Silver. The Moon. Wings. Cow Horns. And while I think it's important to have a Goddess card in my deck... I am not particularly drawn to the one I've created.

I may need to try again. To look with a more specific eye to my personal intuitive and internal representations of the concept of Goddess. A fiery mountain, a woman standing with her feet in the water, a lit candle, a windy night. A sense of Her strong will and Her power-- filtered by Her love for all living things, and the elements that are Her tools.

Maybe that would draw me to contemplation of deeper things like the fish and the trees. Maybe She is already sprinkled throughout other meaningful cards in my deck. The footprint in the ocean. The heart-shaped leaves on a bed of menstrual blood. The hearth fire of Hestia, the apple and the carafe of herbs, marked with a star for healing.

And with this energy and strength to CREATE flowing through me so strongly, it is harder still to buckle down to my work of applying for mundane paying day jobs. Jobs I need in order to keep body and soul together. Sigh. It is so tempting to live fully in the light of Spirit, and forget the shadow of the Mountain in whose caves grain must be stored for the winter.

In fact, I've tapped so strongly into my creative strength of late that I dream of being pregnant. Of creating something vital and dependent on me for its health and well-being in the world-- something physical and precious. An embodiment of what I have to give the world that is good. But the day job has not emerged, even while the life work has been clear for months. And so I dream over and over of being pregnant, and of lacking the resources and the strength to take charge of my (and my baby's) destiny.

In every dream, I am never the one who drives my car. I am too busy trying to make safe spaces in the car for the baby that represents my pregnant potential, and for any other living being in the car who is dependent on me for their safety-- and I lose my chance to be the one driving and determining where we will all end up. Me and my creativity and my life work. Maybe it is time I trust it to take care of itself, while I take charge of my own car, and drive directly and sturdily to where I really want to go. I'm tired of being forced (by my fear of failure to birth/protect this wondrous thing I hold inside) to take a back seat in my own life.


I recently participated on a Wisdom Council to create the first yearly Wisdom's Feast spirituality conference for women. It was a humbling and glorious experience. Those of us who served on the Wisdom Council were able to meet earlier this week and digest our experiences and learnings from the day-long Conference itself.

And what we all got out of it-- each with her unique experience and perspective-- was greater self-confidence. I have more trust for my intuitive knowledge. She realizes it's okay to be loud and large and visible sometimes. Another woman expressed her boosted confidence in becoming a keynote speaker; and so on. Each of us suddenly has greater respect for our own abilities, and a stronger trust that we can grow to fill a larger space in the world than we previously thought. And this conference made room for all of it.

My workshop was on Intuitive Wisdom and Tarot. The concept of opening one's self to guidance and to self-knowledge on a deeper, intuitive, and Universal plane. This was coupled with the reality that tools like Tarot exist to draw our attention to things we already know, but need to acknowledge or work on in order to move forward productively. And thanks to all the wonderful women who attended my workshop at the Wisdom Conference, the energy in the room was amazing. The workshop was amazing. And I was amazed to find myself a conduit for such a powerful and beautiful group experience that morning.

So I'd like to continue thanking the Goddess for that. For the opportunity to be me, and be enough, and participate in that beautiful learning/teaching experience. I look forward to participating again next year. Next November, at the second annual Wisdom's Feast Conference. It's beginning to look like next year's conference may have a focus on women's experience of transition. On Croning and the role of Crones in our daily spiritual practice. At least, I hope that's the direction we take. There seems to be a lot of energy in that direction right now. And the right people in place to give workshops on those or similar topics. Women in Transition. Women as Bringers of Wisdom. Wisdom's Feast.

Whatever the outcome, I'm confident that She will order all things well.


Growing Up Good

I copied this post from the link below. I'm reposting it here because it gives me so much hope. (Much-needed hope!)

Non-mofo award
I've been meaning to mention this one for a while, but...

To the two-year-old twin girls who come in with their mom, so well-behaved, and clean up the children's area when they're finished playing, and always push in the chairs, and wait until we're done with the patron on the computer before showing us that wonderful book they found this time, that they're so excited about getting to read... Thank you. May you grow up just as wonderful as you are when you visit us...and just as generous.

We actually have a whole bunch of awesome little kids at work, but these two really take the cake. They came toddling in one day with their mom, nearly bouncing, and came up to return their books, and handed us a bag. Inside was the majority of their joint sticker collection. One of the things we've had to cut back on is fun kid-stuff, like coloring/activity pages, and the stickers the kids get at the end of their visit, at checkout. These two little girls visit with their mom regularly, and always ask for a sticker, like the other little they donated their sticker collection from birthdays and other presents so that everyone could still get one, when they come to the library.


Windburn in Autumn

Life got busy. I thought it was busy when I spent all my time applying for jobs and writing my book and working part-time as a Life Coach and keeping up with friends and practicing my pagan skills and working on my other projects. But it wasn't.

For the past two weeks (and this is a happy thing), I've worked six days a week. Four at the Farm, and two half-days as a nanny for this huge chunky four-month-old-baby with a lady-killer smile. Next week, I get to focus more on the Farm. (Which, really, is more about the Foundation that is working to preserve the Farm, and a lot about Education, come to that. I may even eventually get to do the job I was originally hired for, and preserve/digitize/catalog something. You never know.)

And it is SUCH a freakin awesome place to work! We have free-range wild ducks that are huge and black with red and blue and white bits here and there-- and they have little fuzzy yellow babies!! We have three grey barn kittens who keep sneaking into the house and onto peoples' laps when they aren't looking, and one old black Tom who lives by the kitchen stove and was totally offended when the kittens arrived. We have apple trees and pear trees and zucchinis the size of small sports cars. Lots of friendly male goats who come when called ("hhheeeeerrrr goat-goat-goat, hhheeeeeerrrr goat-goat-goat!") and really want you to rub behind their ears, and three dappled white Davenport-Arabian horses that all want to make sure they get some of whatever you're handing out.

We have school children learning to make butter and listening to the story of Florinda Geer who traveled the Oregon Trail with her parents when she was eight years old, and then planted a tree on her parents' land-grant farm in 1856 that is still standing and growing on that same farm today. Look, there it is. We have farm-fresh dairy cheese made with a long-lost recipe from very old hillside cave dairy farms in Switzerland. We have an archive with over 165 years of family history, letters, tintype photos, and furniture from that trip over the Oregon Trail in 1846.

What we don't have is money to keep everything going. We're still working on that bit.

Oh, and we offer farm visits and tours.
Check us out at
Can I just TELL you how much I love wearing jeans to work?!

Anyway, four days working like crazy at the farm with long 45-mile drives to get there and back, plus working part time as an Empathic Life Coach, plus writing my book and keeping up with friends and working as the Moderator for Natural Medicine on an online information distribution website called Factoidz, and carving out time to spend with my boyfriend (I seriously never thought I'd date again, but this man is worth it!) and making time to honor the changing seasons and glorious full moons and and and-- Well it's a heck of a lot busier than I was before. And I love everything I'm doing. I just don't get much sleep. And the days are flying by so quickly anymore, I keep checking my face for windburn.

Soup, Soup, Soup

I think this particular title comes from a Maurice Syndac book I read when I was little. I recall the book also being fairly small, and in it is a little boy with a very large wooden mixing spoon. I've always wanted a spoon like that. I always figured, The bigger the spoon, the better the soup! I love making soup.

This evening, I walked into the house to find that my housemate (PC-- stands for Pretty Cool. And if her middle name started with a D, she'd be Pretty Dagmn Cool, if you ask me...) is watching a musical on the TV in her bedroom. Loudly. Which is just down the hall from mine. And her door is open for air, since today was actually rather warm. I think summer might still be summering for a few more weeks here after all. sigh...

So anyway, I'm at home, going to my room, and I've gotten to the top of the stairs. In fact, I'm just rounding the end of the banister, not listening particularly closely to the actor in PC's musical, who is listing a bunch of specific ingredients as he mixes them all together...

The man in the musical intones: ...A bit of this, a dab of that, a cup of this, another ingredient or two, and a pinch of cohones.

I stopped with one hand still on the banister railing, and blinked bemusedly at her bedroom door.

...What are cohones? another TV personality asks.
...Don't ask. And the music swells with magic potion billowyness.

"I see breasts. And foam. Of Course the magic potion is foaming." PC says this the same way that one might say "I don't believe you. This is ridiculous. Of course I have a cavity, because this is a dream, and you are an evil dentist." Dryly, with total disbelief at the predictability of the situation.

"Hi PC," I say, and open the door to my room. Just another night here in wonderland. With breasts and cohones and foaming magic potion thrown in for fun. What the heck kind of musical was that, anyway??


Feeling Green

So I'm in this totally AWESOME Journaling Group that meets once a month. It's an all-women group hosted by SisterSpirit, and we talk (and write) about self-knowledge, wisdom, intuition and-- this year-- ourselves in relation to each of the seven chakras.

This month, we are focusing on Fourth Chakra. Heart Chakra. It's green, and gold. Here are some of the things that this particular embodied energy focal point is about:
generosity, transformation, balance, awareness of universal consciousness, wealth, imagination, determination, will power, the heart and upper back, circulatory system and immune system

It is the element of Air, and the sense of Touch. It is the heart of emotional healing, personal evolution, and clear vision. It is said that if you truly want to manifest something in your life, you have to envision it with your Heart, and not just with your Mind. The Heart Chakra is the center of the chakra system in that it connects the three higher and the three lower chakras. Through this chakra, we learn to get in touch with our core being and our inner truth. It is the balance point of the higher self and how we manifest that self here in the mundane world. "As Above, So Below." (Some of this is quoted from VJ's notes for our group. Thanks VJ!)

And after writing and thinking about this for a bit, I had the realization that WEALTH and DOLLARS are a part of that healing Green Energy of the Fourth Chakra. Who Knew?? And that when I do finally dig myself out of debt and have money to spare, my heart's desire is to buy land and create spiritual and physical sanctuary on it, using (guess what!) Green Building techniques, and Green Energy sources-- in a more mundane sense of the words. To create a place of healing. So in a fairly direct way, me receiving money (which just happens to be green in our culture) allows me to give healing in bigger and better ways, the more money I receive. It allows me to magnify the amount of green heart-healing energy I give back to the world. Through my very use of money, it becomes a green energy in and of itself.

I know-- it's crazy.

For someone who actually has felt rather dirty about accepting money to heal people and be their Life Coach in an eternal Wise Woman sort of way... this was a real revelation. I heal emotional issues for my clients-- and I do it through the chakra energy of my heart. Green Energy.

And suddenly, I'm coming to terms with the reality that if I DON'T get paid in money what my healing energy is worth, I won't have the basic building blocks (food, clothing, shelter, freedom from debilitating debts) that I need if I want to stay energized and capable of helping others to heal. I've had this block against earning money for what I just naturally do. Money is not natural. I knew the block was there, but I didn't seem able to budge it. And this week, my Journaling Group changed all that.

So I thought I'd share. I'm really thrilled, actually. I finally understand ENERGETICALLY how important the money piece is to the whole healing circle of green energy in today's world. I'm finally making peace with the role money plays in my life. I'm learning not to resent my need for money. If I'm lucky, this might even make it easier for me to draw money-- and opportunities to earn money-- into my life path.

And now that I'm beyond the shock and awe of having that particular personal block to a healthy relationship with money just ...disintegrate... I'm starting to realize how unhealthy our whole nation's relationship with money is right now. I mean, here are some signs of a blocked Heart Chakra:
Feelings of jealousy, indifference, loneliness. Becoming needy, grabby, or demanding. Asking others for love and fulfillment, rather than looking within for self-love and self-fulfillment. Fear, despair, hate, longing. Pretending we don't need other people. Pretending we can cope with everything the world and life throws at us-- all by ourselves, alone.

And I thought, what a perfect description of the relationship I have had (and I think most of us have in this flailing economy) with money. It's amazing what a perfectly nice person will do to someone else, even someone they love, once money enters the picture. For myself, I've been jealous of those who have money. I've felt desperate to get or earn money. I often looked to others and their ways of earning and spending, instead of focusing on the relationship *I* want to build with money, and the strengths and abilities I want to use to earn it.

I have spent the last five years in a constant state of financial fear. I have hated my dependence on money, and yet I longed to have more of it. I have pretended all was well, in my financial world, while quickly falling into debt and despair. And I have insisted that I shouldn't need money-- or help with my budget and/or cash flow-- to get by. I have bought into the myth that talking about money, and my relationship to it, is shameful.

I've been very unhealthy and wrong and just BLOCKED, without even knowing HOW I was blocked and unhealthy. All I knew was that I had to find some way to unblock if I wanted to actually be able to have money come into my life (ie: income), rather than always watching it leave. And now, I'm excited to understand that money doesn't have to be evil. I begin to feel GOOD about my potential to earn large quantities of it. Because I spend large quantities of energy doing good work for other people (and therefore for myself) and for the Earth.

It is fair and reasonable that I be recompensed in a format that enables me to keep doing what I do-- only better. I'm excited to learn how much MORE I can do as a healer now that I've finally unblocked my Heart Chakra. And I'm curious to see the effects of finally allowing my definitions of "Abundance" and "Wealth" to include financial well-being, and an abundance of income. My definitions remain very broad-- but I realize now that it's okay to wish for not only an abundance of good friends, good food, good health, and good experiences-- but also to look for a good income as a vital part of truly Abundant Living. Wish me well-- it's turning out to be quite a journey.



When I was a little girl, my mom taught me to ignore the annoying kids in my class, and maybe then they'd get bored and go away. As a strategy, it worked fairly well. Certainly, the parents and teachers loved my "adult approach" to problems.

By the time I was in third grade, I was such a good little two-shoes that the teacher, Mrs. Z, put me in the seat between two of the most disruptive goof-offs in class. Both named Aaron. Problem was that they were funny and interesting, and the conversations that went on behind my head weren't always that easy to ignore. I tell you, bad boys just have more fun.

In sixth grade, a boy with a really tough life figured he could out-annoy my tactic of "ignore and avoid." And eventually, he was right. I caught the attention of a teacher and explained the challenge I was having with locker-access between classes, since JO was always there to slam the locker shut for me again. When the teacher explained to JO that his homeroom teacher was my dad... Well, he left me alone after that. And I continued to ignore him.

In eighth grade, a different boy went straight from annoy to abuse. And no matter how hard I ignored him, I still went home from school every day with extra bruises. Eventually I again approached a teacher for help. This time it took a while, but eventually the kid's parents decided it was in his best interests to pretend I didn't exist, and I was allowed to get on with my life. We both worked hard to ignore and avoid each other for the whole four years of high school, where we both played violin in Orchestra class every day.

My first serious boyfriend was in high school... And he often forgot to show up for our planned dates and get-togethers and such. He often ignored my phone calls, too. I worked very hard to ignore the things I didn't like in our relationship because I wanted to succeed with him the same way I'd learned to succeed in school as a little girl. His other girlfriend-- when I found out about her-- was a bit harder to overlook. So I decided to ignore them both.

Add six years, a different guy, a wedding... and you have my marriage. In which I learned to ignore my own needs, my feelings, and my right to be treated with respect. Because that was the only way my marriage was going to succeed. And I didn't want to be the bad guy. Ignore the annoyance-- the way the boy in the seat next to you is goofing off and making bad choices in his life and generally distracting you from your work and your goals-- and it'll stop. Right?

So here I am. Knowing already that I am not Cinderella (in other words, no magic wand or prince charming to make it all better)... And I am facing the fact (again) that my most-used coping mechanism for things that bother/annoy/frustrate me... is to ignore them, and hope they go away. Some life skill. It didn't work in my marriage. It sure isn't working on my financial and job woes. Or on my cat's arthritis, come to that. And it's all gotten a bit over my head, really... But the thing I just tripped over is the realization that there's no teacher to go to for help on this one... And the last few teachers (or Argmy Commanders) I went to weren't always that helpful in the situation anyway.

So now I'm thinking--
Maybe we should teach little girls Aikido or Brazilian Ju-Jitsu, and encourage them to confront life's frustrations HEAD-F*ING-ON!! Because we sure aren't doing them any favors by training them to believe that being nice and pretending the problem doesn't exist will make everything in their life okay.

I'm just saying is all...


Where The Heart Is

I have been sitting here-- and on GB's sofa-- for the past several days, worrying and worrying about money. Feeling that no matter how hard I tried, there would be no way to make ends meet on my own-- or even at all. And I have worried, and cried, and been generally unhappy with the way of my work opportunities and with my own inability to make things work out "right" with my budget this month.

Finally, I sent my best friend an email, with all my worry about money and my dwindling choices packed into it. With my disappointment that I couldn't make my life turn out the way I want it to-- financially.

And she called me back, and told me that her dog-- her best friend of the past thirteen and a half years, since just before she and I became friends-- her Aussie has stopped eating. She is skin and bones, and she is dying. And there is nothing my friend can do to change this reality. There is no way for her to make the outcome what she wants. That she is scared to even consider the future that waits for her after that final trip to the Vet with Aussie tomorrow morning.

And I realized how narrow my worry has been, how shallow. I realized that I am blessed in the most important parts of my life. I have my family, my cat, my friends. I am so rich in love and in having. And I wish with all my heart that my best friend and Aussie could be spared the pain of this loss, the worry and fear of this decision. I wish I could be there to hold them both at the end.

It is in the heart that the greatest tragedies are weathered, and in the heart that the greatest loves and the greatest fears are embraced. And Aussie has been my best friend's heart for so very many years now.

And after we discussed all this in a not-quite direct way, so that we could put off really feeling just how deep this pain goes, just a little longer, and only feel the beginnings of the hole Aussie is leaving in her heart... That's when my best friend turned the conversation to me, and told me that it's okay to need help. It's okay NOT to face everything alone. She reminded me that I've been facing my challenges alone my whole life-- and maybe now that GB is here, it's time to let someone help me. I don't know what it is about death that makes the living so wise... but it does.

And if tears were money, I'd never have to worry about such foolish things as budgets and banks again. I overflow with this terrible richness of feeling. How much worse it must be for her. The sorrow I feel for my friend brings understanding of just how important such a friendship is in my life. In some ways she's right-- I have overcome huge obstacles to reach this point in my life, and I've done it by myself. But yet, she herself (and others like her) has often been there supporting me. And now it is my turn.

Please let me be worthy of the gifts that fill my life. Of the deep friendships, and the trust that is so easily given to me by friends and strangers alike. And let me guide them through their pain and back into harmony with the cycle of life-- as I have been guided by them.

Please don't let Aussie suffer, and help my best friend's heart to heal.
And thank you, whoever you are, for the reminder of what is truly worthy of tears.


At the Root

I've been working to strengthen my Root Chakra lately. (Strength is important-- particularly when you've got a cat lying on your arms and you're trying to type.) It has been a roller-coaster couple of weeks, and the timing for having my Root Chakra nice and strong couldn't be better.

Calamity comes in all shapes and sizes, and a bunch of my dear friends have been faced with one calamity or another in the past week or two. And it's a relief to support them all without having to also feel all their pain for them. I used to take on other folks' emotions-- still do sometimes-- but at this point, I've done enough work as a Life Coach/Tarot Reader to be able to separate what *I* am feeling on my own behalf from what I am feeling on SOMEONE ELSE'S behalf.

And so I was tired from all the energy I (gladly) used in support of my friends coping with life-crisis stuff... but I wasn't emotionally overwhelmed or incapacitated by all the grief. And I'm really proud of myself for that.

The Root Chakra, by the way, is the one in charge of our connection with the Earth, our sense of security and belonging, our financial and physical well-being, our safety, our solidity in whatever we are trying to accomplish with our lives, and how well-grounded we are in the way we cope with challenges and with daily life. The Root Chakra is set up and nourished the most strongly in the first two years of our lives. It is the First Chakra, and it is the foundation on which all other Chakra work is done. If your Root Chakra isn't strong, its hard for the rest of you to be strong. Each chakra has a purpose in relation to the others-- and in relation to our life-patterns. And each chakra has a specific "right" attached to it-- like the right to fair representation, only that isn't one of them. For the Root Chakra, you have the right to be here; and the right to have.

It was a weird sort of awareness for me to realize that I've spent most of my life working really hard to make other people look good, and help other people achieve their dreams/goals/successes. And I've spent the last several years not really believing I had a right to my own success, or to use my skills and experiences and abilities to make MYSELF look good. No wonder it's been so hard to find a good-paying job. I never felt like I deserved one!

This whole awareness process started with my SisterSpirit Journaling Group. This session, we are devoting a whole month to each of our chakras. So we started by journaling about our interaction with the Root Chakra's particular meaning and how it shows up in our lives... And since my Instructor says that the Root Chakra is the most solid, and thus takes the most time to really shift or change out of its current form, she gave us the homework of thinking/writing/doing yoga in connection with our Root Chakra every day for the whole month until our next Journaling Group meeting in May.

Now, I know I've been having Root Chakra issues. And reading about my right to have (as in-- have respect, have a safe & secure home, have a good-paying job that I love, have a relationship with someone who really appreciates me, etc) well, it really sank in that I have some foundation work to do-- some Root work, if you will. I've made a point of focusing on that stuff for a few minutes every day. And I can feel the difference. I'm a lot better grounded than I was a few weeks ago. Thank goodness, considering all the challenges that have come up since then.

Even the visit to the Family Farm couldn't have been better-timed. OH-- and I finally broke down and bought some freeze-dried nettle leaf capsules (instead of relying solely on my home-brew nettle tincture)-- and they are SO controlling my allergies with NO side effects!!! YAY for uninterrupted sleep!! (Except of course, that Abbigale continues to throw up a little too frequently this week, and I had to jump out of bed an hour before my alarm so I could give her some tummy meds-- which did work this time, thank goodness!)

May your Way be strewn with fulfillment, and the blessings of a life well-lived.


Shoveling it

Today, I mucked out a barn.

Back a few months ago when I dreamed of myself doing this, I woke in utter disbelief that such could EVER be true. I mean, this is ME we're talking about. But today, it was. I actually volunteered.

See, through one of the random blogs that I follow-- maybe it was one about urban homesteading, or no, maybe that one about sustainability-- anyway, I found a link to this one Family Farm. And discovered that they need volunteers, and they give you a whole talk-and-tour to get you familiar with the farm and the jobs that need doing.

And I thought-- Hey. I want to create a mini homestead/garden/farm someday when I've paid off my debts and have enough money to buy a few acres of south-slope land... Maybe I should get a better idea of what I'm getting into. Maybe I should find out what it's REALLY like to have an organic garden and some goats and chickens and sheep, etc.

I'm also in the process of working to strengthen and balance and ACCESS my First Chakra-- my Root. The one that has to do with the earth, and security, and grounding and the physical body. What could be more Root Chakra-centric than spending an afternoon working on a farm?! Farms are homes that include food, earth, animals, and all those natural processes and cycles and bodily functions that we associate with the Root Chakra. And it was really quite grounding to be out there and to do that. Sun, wind, dirt, straw, water, goats, pitchforks and wheelbarrows...

So today was Orientation Day for volunteers at the Family Farm. I love it out there. It really reaffirmed that what I want is attainable, and that I'd be happy having it. It also reaffirmed something I already knew-- Goats like me. I mean, these were just generally friendly goats and all, but... seriously. Goats like me.

It took two hours to meet all the creatures and see all the watering buckets/troughs/etc that need regular cleaning and filling (one of the four approved jobs for volunteers on the farm-- mucking out the three barns, the chicken coops, and the mini barn that houses Waldo is another). Then, since I did drive a whole hour to GET there, I decided I had time to muck out one of the barns before driving home again. And I did have time. What I didn't have was stamina.

So the biggest, stinkiest, most-in-need-of-mucking barn on the Family Farm has three sections. I did the biggest one. And I couldn't do any more. In fact, I'm really glad my blister didn't get a blister. I'm even MORE glad I thought to bring my work gloves. And a change of shoes. And I'm glad I didn't fall asleep on the drive home from the farm (in my nice clean spare shoes-- the ones that didn't have muck all over them). Since I was the one driving. But seriously, I was that worn out. Muck is heavy.

And did you know that fresh farm eggs that are unwashed last longer, and don't need refrigeration? If you wash them, you have to pay attention to which is warmer-- the water or the egg. Because the egg shell is actually really porous, and bad bacteria go toward the warmest thing-- so you want a cold egg and warm water to wash it in. And you don't want to store your eggs in with your salmon or your onions, if you plan to make a cake. I have a whole yummy dozen washed farm-fresh eggs in my fridge right now. They're making me very happy. Because every time I remember I've got these awesome fresh Family Farm eggs to cook with, I also remember how awesome my day was today while I was AT the Family Farm. Happy-Happy.

I've got some researching to do for the Family Farm from home (hell0--LIBRARIAN!!), and I think I'll try to make it out there again in a couple three weeks to do something slightly less intense like watering the chickens or something. I'm definitely going back. I want more eggs, for one thing. And I'm definitely sleeping well tonight. Just as soon as I rinse out my nose with something that doesn't smell like the month-old backside of a male goat. Apparently, the male goats stink more than the females. Made perfect sense to me.

And when I get my own land, I'm starting with vegetables. And herbs. And a couple of fruit trees. And maybe a few chickens. But nothing that requires mucking. Or castrating. And I learned that I need to add an "egg-cleaning station" to my dream home design. And probably a small barn and an extra fridge to store all my gardening produce and equipment, my spare bales of hay, my chickens, my wheelbarrows, and the muck I buy from my neighbors once or twice a year.

sigh... Who knew bliss would smell like THAT?!


Natural Processes

So March is, apparently, the month of the flu. As in, I caught it, and here we are ten days later, and I'm still not fully recovered. And I'm tired of it. Seriously. I have a life I'd like to be living-- or at least pursuing.

So I decided to pretend I was all better, in the hopes that believing would make it true, and because my parents were going to be in town for a visit, and I wanted to enjoy their company.

We decided to check out the Da Vinci exhibit. And it's pretty cool. They've recreated a few pages from his personal notebooks, one of which explores the way that a planet and a sun affect the light on another planet. VERY COOL to see that!! And they've rebuilt a bunch of the machines and concepts of flight, motion, and energy into little wooden examples-- with the same tools and materials that Da Vinci himself would have had access to. And you even get to play with some of the gears!! There are reproductions of his sketches and studies of the human body. And a whole room devoted to understanding the genius behind his painting, particularly the Mona Lisa.

Da Vinci was a pretty cool frood, really. He believed that we could learn to do anything that could be done in nature by observing how Nature does it. And so he spent hours and days and months observing the way birds fly, the way people exert force on a lever, the way toes are made to wiggle through their attachment to bone with fine sinews and fibers that direct movement. For Da Vinci, Mother Nature was the ultimate teacher, and he devoted a lifetime to Her lessons.

It was a valuable reminder to me that we can learn more than how to fly or be more efficient manual laborers. Nature also offers valuable lessons in anger management, hierarchy, family commitment, survival during times of drought or other hardships, and most importantly-- the lesson that there is a purpose to every thing. Rain nourishes plants so we have food sometime down the road. Cold weather keeps the snowpack from melting just a little longer, that maybe we won't have a drought this summer. The falling leaves offer insulation to keep Earth's creatures and plants from freezing when winter weather comes... Maybe there is a purpose to my enforced inactivity right now, too...

A room full of musical instruments and war machines later, and I was barely shuffling along, trying to put one foot in front of the other. I actually fell asleep in the restaurant over lunch, I was so exhausted by the outing. Three hours of standing around, and I slept the rest of the day and a full ten hours last night. I'm ready to have my energy back. I'm just not sure how to get it.

Well, to paraphrase Da Vinci's classification of people, there are those who understand, those who can be taught to understand, and those who will never understand. Maybe it's time I looked a little more closely at the processes of the Great Creator, and trusted more openly that a reason exists, whether I have the capacity to see it right now or not.

Blessings Be.

Roll With It

So talk about your roller coasters!
They finally force-fed my kitty at the vet's right before I came to see her at the end of the day. Then they sent me (and her!!!) home with a bunch of kitty opiate oral liquid pain-killers, and some pepcid. And orders to call with updates, and especially to keep track of her food intake. Of which there wasn't any.

She finally daned to use her litter box for the first time around 8am this morning. I've never been so excited about my cat's peeing habits before, let me tell you. And when I got out another dose of the pain meds, she ran over to me so I could give it to her. RAN OVER TO ME. FOR MEDICINE.

I think she's addicted. Seriously. Of course, being a tortie, that didn't mean she'd actually let me GIVE her the medicine-- she just let herself be caught so I could pry her mouth open, shove the gunk in, clamp her jaw shut, and stroke her throat while she tried to bite off her own tongue. Sigh.

So I was hopeful. Until the Vet called. The final test came back, the CDC (whatever the heck that is, it costs a hundred dollars) and it turns out her white blood cell count is horribly low. So We made an appointment to take her back into the doctor's for another test. This one was to see if she had either feline leukemia or kitty AIDS. Those being the most likely reasons for a low white blood cell count, apparently.

The drama of library conferences has NOTHING on this, folks.

But luckily, I had a massage scheduled (in trade for other work, so neither of us had to come up with cash, thank goodness!) for this morning. So I went ahead and had that done. Unluckily, I realized when my masseuse was a few minutes late that I wasn't going to make it to the vet on time, so I had to reschedule that by a half-hour. Luckily, the noon appointment time was still available. And my cat was still fairly stogned and pliant when I got home to put her in the cat carrier.

Apparently, she was also much calmer about getting her blood drawn this time around. And it only took ten minutes to get the test results back. She is evil illness-free, as far as we can tell. Luckily, it is NEITHER feline leukemia NOR kitty HIV. Unluckily, we still don't know what it IS. I have strict instructions from my vet (who also owns a tortie) to call her with updates.

And LUCKILY, I have a very wonderful update to report. As soon as we got home, she got out of the cat carrier, wandered over to the wet food that has been sitting hopefully in my room for the past few hours, and licked it a few times before wandering back to her blanket in front of the space heater. FOOD!!! She ate a bite of FOOD!!! That's more than she's eaten of her own volition in three days! WAHHOOOO!!!!

And I have finally got some hope back that she'll recover from this insane trip of hers.
Thanks for all your good thoughts, everyone. We both needed them for a while. Maybe we still do. But at the moment, Abbigale is curled up on my bed in the sun pretending that her little fore-arm isn't shaved and listening carefully, just in case I venture over to the pain medicine again. Because, as I said, she REALLY LIKES that pain medicine.

So, basically, three days of worry and vet bills later, the only thing we know for sure is that she had some really painful gas, stopped eating, got really dehydrated, and is now hooked on pain killers. Not necessarily in that order. ...sigh.


Loving Abbigale

My cat is in the Animal Hospital today. They're trying to figure out why she stopped eating and drinking two days ago, why her chest hurts, why she has a build-up of gas, why she's been puking and other grossness for the last 24 hours, at both ends. And how to make it all better.

I'm trying to figure out how I'm going to cope. She is a fixture in my life. She is one of my best friends, and my life-companion. She is only ten years old. And if she needs surgery to remove an obstruction in her bowels, I'm not sure I can pay for it.

I'm trying to figure out how to make my situation go away. How to have a job, or another credit card, so that I could have a hope of paying for this. Or rent. Rent would be nice to be able to pay, too. I'm trying to figure out how I got so desperate financially that I would even consider NOT getting this $800-$2000 surgery for my Abbigale. I'm looking into donations from animal-rescue organizations. I'm looking into my credit card totals to see how bad they really are. I'm looking into payment plans. My vet is looking into some possible other cause for her illness.

I'm trying to cope with my sudden reality that I've already spent $600 on her medical care today, and that I really don't want to wake up without her tomorrow... and that it costs less to put my best friend to sleep than to heal her... but even that would be expensive. I'm really trying to cope with reality, but failing.

Because the reality is that she is my one ability to keep coping with my life. She gives me a reason to get up (even if it's a half-hour earlier than I wanted to get up), and she helps me sleep at night. She loves me unconditionally, and forgives me for being selfish and stupid from time to time. Nobody else does that. How can I weigh her life against something as stupid as two or three months' worth of rent payments.

I have some wonderful wonderful human friends-- and some of them have really been there for me when I've been in tight spots at various times. But believe me-- I've spent more time being content because SHE was content to be with me than I have just happy on my own account. So here it is.

The last few shreds of hope I have are that maybe the problem is something that can actually be fixed without surgery... or that I won the lottery last week and just don't know it yet. Because as much as I need a job, and want the opportunity to earn my way-- I'm going to feel like shit if I get a good-paying job within a few days or weeks of putting her to sleep for lack of funds.

I know that my desires are purely selfish here-- the desire to keep her alive, and the desire not to go into debt to do so. And I've realized, that as much as it's going to hurt-- whatever the outcome-- what I really want is for her to know I love her, and for her not to suffer. Whatever that means, I think I can make my peace with it. Eventually. After the heart-hurt eases a bit, and the empty spot starts to heal. I know I'm never going to fill her spot.

Today, I'm just sitting around waiting for news, researching dead-end financial options and grant moneys for emergency pet care, and crying. At least, after I made the vet appointment last night, she and I had the whole night to lay together and cuddle on the bed. And even though she had to get off the bed to vomit and have diareah about five or six times, she always made her way back up to where she could sleep on my arm, curled into my side.

God, Goddess, please let her live.