Wednesday, May 20, 2009

It's Good Bread! It's Fresh Bread!

I have been told by a former witch that cooking is an essential skill for all witches. Reluctantly, I agree. It makes perfect sense. We mix potions, concoct unguents, prepare incenses, oils and brews. Getting the chemistry of each and every creation spot on is of the utmost importance if we are to affect the change we want. Cooking/baking itself aside, when we prepare meals as the ritual, all of our hopes, wishes, desires are baked into our dishes. Getting the recipes right is just as important as visualizing and focusing all our energy on the spell.
You can imagine, then, how crest fallen I was when I was forced upon this realization about a year ago. Me. I burned water! (I realize that you can't burn water; that it turns into vapor. But, damnit! The pots certainly burn black!) Rather, I suppose that proper statement would be that I used to burn water, or the pots, or what have you. We all remember my soupy Hot Cross Buns, yeah? I'm quite certain I posted a quick blurb about that one. Now, let's never speak of it again. *shudders*
The point, Renee? Yes. The point is, I baked a successful loaf of break last night! Not just any bread, mind you. It was oat bread that called for not only all purpose white flour, but wheat flour! Wheat! Very few people, I have heard can master wheaten bread. I think the recipe calling for yeast by the tablespoon rather than the ounce helped a bit. And, oh! Let me tell you! It tasted divine! Tasted, yes, past tense. We still have a little heal left of the loaf if you'd like to stop by for a morsel, but I can't guarantee that it'll still be available when you get here. Being oat bread, it was a lovely pairing with my morning oatmeal. It takes butter very well and is only complimented by a bit of blackberry jam. Then, of course, I daren't pass it up for the store bought stuff while slathering on the pb and j for my brown bag lunch!
The beauty of it is the ability I now have to bake bread from scratch shared with the positivity and love I put into that bread. I was determined to do it; do it right, do it well. And I went along happily, diligently following the recipe, step by step, with no negative thoughts or worries on how it would come out. And, viola!
Marvelous, if I do say so myself.
And I do.

Friday, May 15, 2009


This morning my alarm was set for 6:50, just the same as it is every morning I must wake to work. My body, however, decided that 5:30 was a fine time to rise. I disagreed and fought it until 6:30. "I might as well just get up and get started," thought I. This was fine. If I'm awake, I'm awake and there's no telling otherwise. So before I even began dressing for the day, I turned on good ole' Eliza (the name of my laptop, named for Eliza Doolittle) and set to thinking on which albums I'd be transferring to my cell's memory card. Working on the farm alone everyday has it's advantages; one being the ability to listen to whatever music I please as I shovel the poo and feed and water the precious beasts. Sadly, I keep a lazy music library, and nothing but the albums are labeled. To make matters worse, Eliza had lost her voice for no reason other than the Faeries wanted to play keep away from me with the volume. No one could figure out why the volume wasn't working...for about a month. Not a peep. Then, this morning, the Fae decided that I had grown tired of their game and I wasn't playing anymore. They got bored and gave it back. Thanks, Fellows! It was completely random, too. But all of this is off topic.
As my library opened, I stole a peek into my gmail. Someone had replied to a blog to which I had signed up for email responses, then forgotten about. That someone struck my fancy as she is a full-time homemaker with a flair for the 50's aesthetic that is all too familiar in my home. Imagine my excitement when I discovered her roots in the Pagan Path! Woot and Ye Verilee, indeed! Now, we've covered my indifference-bordering-dislike for children. Most people don't get it, many insist on telling me to wait, that my mind will change and I'll eventually want them, others let it go and say, "Good for you! Some people shouldn't be parents. And those that shouldn't but still do screw up the future of the world!" For the record, I agree with the last comment. But this Lady is so thorough in her witchy directory and help sections, that she even gives tips on raising Pagan children. Now, that's classy! I adore Mrs. B's style, both wordiness and online decor and look forward to reading more of her blogs.
One of her sections has a short list of Pagan prayers for bedtime. This reminded me of a concise Circle of Proctection prayer I had thought up in high school and have whispered or focused upon as I've fallen asleep every night since.

White light surrounds me,
And those that I love.
As it is below,
So it is above.
Blessed Be.

Poetry never came as easily to me as I would have liked. So when this came to me without even batting an eye, I was thrilled to say the least. The Lady must have given it to me to share. I have shared it at a friend's sweatlodge once or twice, but am happy to share it again with you darlings, and always.

Monday, May 11, 2009

No Clue Where This is Coming From!

Yikes! The last three posts all filled to the brim with death. We all know Death as a part of the cyclical pattern that is life on Earth and in the Universe. It is inescapable, undeniable and frightening to many. Sadness tugs at the heartstrings and depression looms, watching with one eye as it peeks round the corner waiting and wondering if it can claim fresh company. I am a wallower. Ofttimes I've had difficulty moving on; wondering if one morning I'll wake to see Gilbert by the kitchen door, a letter in the mail from Great-Grandmother or a message on my phone from a long-departed cousin. Wallowing, as 50's Gal has pointed out recently, is not healthy. Moving on may seem cold sometimes, but dwelling on sadness and loss only make you miss out on the life that is happening now. The week of rain that persisted following the euthanization of darling Gilbert was an apropos mourning time and I have "moved on" with my life. I remember him, and I always will. Some cultures believe that perpetual mourning over the loss of any loved ones, be they human or otherwise, prevents said loved ones from moving on with their journeys. I am letting Gilbert go.
As for my forward journey, I have not practised much, of late. The Sun allowed me reveling time this past weekend (my days off) and today (on the farm.) I adore rain and the fury it can be, but I was ready for a break after the week of gloom! A little (or a lot) of thunder and lightening would have broken the monotony of the constant grey and intermittent beats of drops on my head, roof and windows. The plants enjoyed it all thoroughly, however, and the farm is in full bloom with lovely flowers and yummy things to eat. Auntie's garden is thankful, too, and so are we for the break in the utility bill for not having to water the aforementioned garden. Still no garden planned by me, though.
Speak of canning, preserving, pickling and root cellars this morning at the breakfast table tickled my fancy and Auntie and I will be reviewing which recipes we'll need to take advantage of and which veggies we'll need to add to the garden for a sated and healthy winter. Self-sustenance always excites me! Until that is possible here, though, I've decided to switch to my local businesses. Among other switches, my local grocer will benefit instead of the Stop&Shop to which I could walk. I hope to eventually be able to bike to the local guy (as he is more than a short walk away) , but convenience will be taking a back seat to community from now on. I'm expecting to save money, too, for all of the impulse items I waste my hard earned cash will stay tucked into their environmentally unfriendly, cardboard or plastic displays, garishly decorated until some other schlub falls for their plumage. Not me! I'm done with that. Auntie and I will be growing our own food (which, as I had stated before, she has already begun), baking our own bread and supporting our local community. Why not?! People did it well into the late 1950's! Why not get to know the local grocer/butcher (though I will not be meeting the butcher as I am a vegetarian)/baker/farmer? We even look at our neighbors funny, as if they shouldn't be there. They've got as much a right to happiness and closeness of community as we have! Let's share! Let's resurrect the barn dances, the talks over the fence, the sharing our recipes over coffee or tea! Let's have a summer block party with bonfires and ghost stories and fun for every age!
What am I talking about? A fire has been lit in my vicinity. Here is who lit that fire. She is a must read! I'm not just talking about living life as if you are a housewife in 1955 (as 50's Gal, there), but that we are missing the primal togetherness of community we all, as humans, once had and lost along the way somehow. Forget about race, sex, creed, orientation, etc and look at each other and love one another for the pure reason that we are human beings and we need each other. Each and every one of us needs every other person. Yes, even the people that really grate on your nerves. Without them, we wouldn't learn all of the lessons we thought we were teaching ourselves all these years. I'm not saying you have to keep the poisonous people you know in your life or even bring them back. Just try to acknowledge them in your mind and life and take away the lessons your were meant to learn, or even those you weren't meant to learn, but did instead. Releasing the anger you feel/felt for the poisonous people is better for you in the long run. (I hold my anger in my lower back. *U_U*) Forgive, but don't forget. That is a lesson! Don't carry it with you. Understanding is key in this life. Once you let go of preconceived notions, fears, hatred and doubt, the Universe opens up to you; gives you what you want and need. We don't need what the government, advertising, lawyers or anyone else richer than us says that we need. We need each other to survive and be happy. Embrace that, and be happy.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Dear, Sweet Gilbert

Time to say goodbye to yet another piece of my heart. Thursday brought the sad realization of giving mercy and taking death into our own hands. Auntie and I made the decision, after a week of sudden immobility, refusal to eat and drink independently and wetting himself because he just could not stand, Gilbert, our 17-year-old Jack Russell Terrier had to be put to his final rest.
Gilbert came to Auntie when she was a young, college girl in Michigan. She adored and cared for him as well as each of the happily spoiled pets throughout her life. As she went off to Europe for a year, Grandmother and Grandfather were good enough to take him in and continue loving and caring for him. Change happens and Auntie returned home to move to Massachusetts. As Gilbert had become Grandfather's little shadow, he stayed with my grandparents.
Sadly, my grandmother has Alzheimer's disease and my mother (who has turned out to be the kind of person no one would really want in their life) decided to bring my grandparents out here to help take care of them. Things quickly went downhill with what can only be described as some sort of schizophrenia on her part and she deserted my grandfather's side for sudden selfish (and completely asinine) pursuits. Her abandonment turned into Grandfather wanting to follow her back to Michigan to live with the rest of the family and be near his selfish daughter again. All the while, darling little Gilbert labors along, adoring the man that has been the constant for the majority of his long life.
One day, this constant decided that the old boy was "always getting in the way and under (Grandfather's) foot." So what does he do? Grandfather called my sister that worked in an animal shelter for a year to ask her if she knew of any shelters where he could take Gilbert to be put down! Because he was "in the way!" That is not right, Auntie and I said and we took Gilbert into our custody. The first few weeks were a little difficult with his wandering and looking for Grandfather and accidents because he was a bit disoriented looking for the way out. Once he settled in, though, life with Gilbert was sweet. He'd bark to go out, he'd bark to come in, and he latched on to me for reasons unknown to the three of us. He'd follow me everywhere in the house. It got to the point where we had to keep him from going near the stairs unless he was being carried, for fear that he'd fall and really hurt himself. That didn't stop him. He'd find ways around barriers keeping him from me and I'd constantly find his dark, saucer-like staring longingly up/downstairs as I'd turn the corners. Auntie would tell me how he'd sleep all day but come alive when he knew I'd come home or into the room when I'd been gone to work or in my room. I let him kiss me whenever he felt the urge (though his halitosis was abhorrent due to age.) Nevertheless, I loved him as best I could and he returned the favor. I recall playing with him and another sweet pup long since past (a black chihuahua named Licorice) long before moving at the age of twelve. I have known Gilbert for more than half my life and that is what made this decision all the more difficult (though decisions such and these are never easy.)
Taking him from Grandfather when we did gave him another playful, rambunctious (more than ever expected from a pup his age) 5 months with Auntie's other (two) dogs, with whom he would romp when the passion and ability struck him. So when his inability to function properly came about, Auntie and I were at a loss as to his affliction. We took the three dears to a vet Auntie was never comfortable with, and for good reason. Though I care not to retell the details, I can tell that the three were tested for disease and Gilbert was found to have Lyme Disease. Claiming him from Grandfather, we knew not how long he had been afflicted, but asked the vet his opinion on being euthanized at his age and with this illness. The vet said that, though he was old, he would not dream of putting him down. He gave us pills for the Lyme's and the instructions; two doses each day with food and call him in a month to decide on further treatment. We came away thinking all was well but within two days, he was truly worse. This was when he could not stand, walk, drink and would not eat. Auntie then called and spoke to the vet she knew and trusted.
This brings us to the sorrow of putting down a beloved member of the family, though tossed about, but finally reclaimed by those that ever really loved him. I'll not relive each moment of his euthanization, but once the needle was emptied, the nurse gingerly checked his heartbeat. It had stopped almost immediately. Gilbert was ready to go. I had whispered to him the night prior and once during the carride to the vet that, should he feel he was ready, he mustn't hold on for our sakes. We would miss him terribly (so much more than Auntie nor I had imagined) but we would never want him to press on in pain or anguish (we never heard one yelp from him) just to keep us happy. He could let go if he felt he was ready. We love him very much and always will. These were my final sentiments to our dear, devoted friend.
And I will always love him.
We brought him home and buried him in the orchard in the front yard just below one of the newly planted apple trees. When the weather clears, Auntie and I will plant Forget-Me-Nots, Pansies and Johnny Jump-Ups. (He used to lie in the patch of Johnnies when Grandfather kept him.) When we enjoy the orchard and all the fruit that it will bear and all of the happy times we will have there, he will be with us.
And my heart will always miss him.

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