Quote of the day...er...week...umm...hey, look, a quote!!

"...besides love, independence of thought is the greatest gift an adult can give a child." - Bryce Courtenay, The Power of One

For old quotes, look here.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Dark Matter

A murder of crows..

A murder?  Who thought of this?  Who decided to name these avian historians such a dark and angry name when they group, as if the fault is theirs?

These crows, they fluttered, feather askew, ruffled by the capricious wind, flapped and fluttered like ragged scraps of Death's cloak torn free from his regalia and flung skyward with little heed for up or down or any compass points.  Scattered into the dusking sky, harbingers of another soul parted from form.

Soul, or spirit?  What's the difference?

It was a deer, doe, unwary, perhaps not understanding the huge and forceful mechanical monster that bore down on her with speed she couldn't comprehend or calculate, catching her mid-leap then tossing her aside and roaring onward with no consequence save maybe a chipped tooth and a shaking driver who has somewhere to be, can't stop, stupid deer should've known better, on a timetable, dammit I hope she didn't wreck my front end.

The crows are brave, hopping to the side of the road and then back to her bounty.

Soul or spirit?

She's an animal.

Ego would have us believe that she has no soul, for animals are dumb in more than one sense.  But spirit they may have, for spirit is that little bit of the divine that all living things carry.

Soul, well, soul is for humans, only for humans, only for us because we are thinking, reasoning, self-aware, and more than that, aware of what is beyond us, of the indefinable.  We are uniquely able to see through the light into the heart of darkness, if we dare.

Beautiful dark.

I love the dark,

I hate it.

Cold and slick, it slips around me with sibilant whispers and intimations of what should.

What should?

This and that and anything that isn't.

I love the dark, the night pierced by stars and streaming light and the inexorable dance of the planets into entropy's embrace and the music that dayfolk tremble to hear in all its ecstasy.  Fearful, beautiful, loathsome, beloved dark.

I love the crows.  Tell me a story, cousin.  Harsh cries of "Aww!  AWW!!" back and forth and sometimes they land and turn their heads this way and that, staring at me and wondering what I am asking, what I am trying to tell with my hoarse, coarse mimicry of their tongue.


The crows don't know what should.  They only know what was and what is.  Something dies and they feast and remember and tell the tale and it carries from generation to generation from beginning to end, and in the end when the final darkness folds itself around everything, it will be the collective "Aww!  AWW!!" that rolls out and slowly dies into a near imperceptible vibration that shakes the single point loose and bursts outward into the new being, rooted in the old and ringing with that corvid call.

But we're the ones with souls, I'm told, immortal souls that mark us as more and better and other and all that, and certainly the deer was beautiful in her life, and graceful, but I with my clunky motion and graceless form am the better?  She provides life even in death and what do I do, in life, that is her equal?

I'm surrounded by death - dead eyed people staring at me because maybe I shine too bright within my darkness and maybe I don't care what they see with their flat eyes and cold gazes, dead spirited people who claim to have more soul, better soul because they pay lip service to something they don't believe, really, or at least they act contrary to the thing they worship.

All those shadows and shades, they don't like anything that isn't them and they claim soul as theirs alone and curse anything else.

The soul is immortality and so we are immortal, but that deer, she'll live forever in the crow's tales and in everything that feeds upon her carcass, certainly live long past the time the driver who hit her shuffles off this mortal coil and is buried in some vault where his body will never rejoin the whole and his precious soul will find itself astonished at suddenly being a deer wondering what that strange black surface is and if it can be crossed to find sweeter grass on yonder side, and what is that whistling, roaring noise?

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Gettin' Grilled

Waaaaaah!

My beloved blue grill/portable fireplace bit the dust.  Literally - it lost another of its legs and tumbled to the ground, never to rise and burn again.

It happened when Sprout moved it so she could watch the roofer...er...roof, but I'm still sad about it.

Now I have no grill/portable fireplace, and I rather miss it.  I suspect I will miss it even more as we enter into grillin' season.  I know that Someone will be disappointed when he comes home and there's no way to char meat over burning stuff.

Sigh.

I still have the little grill we use for camping, but I kinda use that when we're camping which means it lives in the trailer and isn't awfully handy to the Casa.

I'd like to get a new grill for Casa de Crazy, one more suited to the use we put it to here, but it's not a priority.  Meanwhile, I am thinking about knocking the last leg off of Old Blue and placing it in the fire pit...okay, hole in the yard...and grilling at ground level for a while.  We're nothing if not adaptable and maybe a teensy bit redneck around here.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Whoa.

I found out this evening that the sheriff who lives two doors down was fired from his job because he allegedly had an inappropriate relationship with a detainee he was supervising.

The mind immediately leaps to conclusions, rather unflattering ones.

Mostly I feel sad for him and his family.  If it proves to be much ado about nothing, his reputation is forever sullied.  You can't wipe this kind of stain clean no matter how false the origins.  Just ask the McMartin family.

If it proves true, he faces some pretty serious consequences.  I don't know the family well, but if they're typical of this area, he faces losing his marriage, his kids, his job, perhaps his freedom and his future.  It is unlawful to have relationships with detainees, even consensual ones.  It is considered to be rape, regardless of the circumstance, and is treated as such.  It's considered a gross abuse of power.  A detainee cannot, under the law, consent.

I wonder if the horrid woman next door, the one who takes such a smugly superior tone with me when she hurls her judgement at me and my family, knows about this.  While she still discourages her children from playing with or even speaking to mine, she hasn't kept them from visiting with him and his.  I admit, this puzzles and galls - here I am, living openly and honestly and trying awfully hard to maintain my integrity and live a compassionate and loving life, and I'm snubbed and chastised...and there he is, accused of an egregious abuse of power and of breaking what are supposed to be vows so sacred that it offends them and their church to contemplate letting anyone outside their rather narrow norms take them, and he is still more acceptable company than my children.

Sigh.

Que sera, sera, but it is likely that I will keep watch from my distance, watch and wait and reach out to catch his family if they start to fall, make sure they are fed and can find solace if the worst occurs and the life they've always known disintegrates.  The children are not guilty of the sins of the father, not that I believe in sin.  He himself deserves compassion no matter what he has done, because he is human and may have lost his way, and being lost like that can be devastating to the human soul.  I've wandered lost, myself, far too often and too long to let anyone else suffer for want of light.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Seventh Heaven

Seventh time I'm posting this, but why mess with perfection, eh? Yeah, yeah, I'm a lazy blogger.  You still love me, right?  Right???  Why do I hear crickets...?
~~~~~
With apologies to my friend Mizz D.D. who has a far better grasp of Irish history and much stronger Google Foo than I.

I'm cooking corned beef and cabbage tonight, much to my delight - there will be plenty for dinner and enough left over for hash tomorrow. Our friend Mizz A will be joining us, and maybe T.  I'll miss having Someone here, making appreciative noises and poking his beak in the pot from time to time.  The man is not patient when it comes to our corned beef dinner!  Bird opts out of the feast entirely, causing me to question whether he's really mine. I get not liking cabbage, but potatoes? Something's not right with the child. Someone would happily scarf the lot if he was here, because he's a good Irish lad.  Sprout may try a taste, or she may not.  She's trying to be more adventurous about food, but she can be put off if it looks odd.

I'm planning on baking soda bread, too, because we like it and any leftovers can be used to make a nice doorstop or stone axe.

Seeing as I'm Pagan, you wouldn't think I'd celebrate St. Patrick's Day. Better than most, I am supposed know what St. Patrick did to get famous and earn his sainthood. However, I'm also part Irish, and I happen to love corned beef and cabbage. Also, I consider it a reclaiming of the day for Pagans, or some junk.

A bit of slightly bent history (that has, I'll grant you, been mangled in my head over the years and is rather truncated because I'm not writing a book, here)(I'm writing a book somewhere else). When I was a child, we were told that St. Patrick's day was to celebrate his chasing all the snakes out of Ireland. It is an historically serpent-free bit of earth, and the church attributed this to Paddy and his efforts...kind of overlooking that there weren't any of the slithery things on the island to begin with, if you ask me. Which they didn't, because I was a kid and most grown-ups weren't prepared for my staggering logic and keen grasp of history but rather appalling lack of respect for theology.

 Many years later, people were saying St. Patrick's Day was a celebration of all things Irish, like green beer (wait, isn't beer German??) and green clothes, and green hair, and green mashed potatoes (which I won't eat on a dare because, really...green potatoes???), and rivers dyed green (I'm sure the fish are all so very thankful to be included...like Fridays and Lent weren't enough for them!)(that might only be funny if you're Catholic)(or not) and exclusionary parades, and funny little men waving their shillelaghs about (look it up you pervs!!) and that sort of thing.

 In none of the many different explanations for this seemingly random holiday did anyone mention pagans. A most curious oversight of you know what St. Patrick, who was just Patrick at the time (not really, I have no idea what his real name was. For all I know, it was Fred), was actually doing on the Emerald Isle.

He was born and lived sometime between 490 and 461 AD, give or take. Around age sixteen, he was either sent or stolen and taken to Ireland where he spent some time hanging out with sheep and being lonely. He talked to God a lot. You may notice that lots of shepherds do that. You would too if all you had for company all day was a bunch of mutton-heads. I'm sure the Pope understands...

Christianity was rolling along like a snowball in those days, spreading out all over the dang place. Good grief, it was getting so that a simple Pagan/Heathen (there's a difference between the two, not that the church cared much) couldn't get any peace any more. Everywhere they turned, there was a church being built where a sacred grove used to be, from the trees that used to be the sacred grove, or a church going up on a sacred hill, or someone bathing their dirty feet in a sacred stream. To be fair, there was a lot of real estate lumped under that "sacred" heading in the pagan world. We're like that - we just love our planet so. Plus, you know, all those gods needed housing, and they don't do the roommate thing very well. So the pagans were running out of places to have sex on the ground, in the woods, up a tree - they were big on the sex, those little devils - and to read entrails in their spare time.

I digressed. Sorry.

So there was this lonely kid, Patrick Whatsisname, hanging out with sheep and pondering life, the Universe, and everything. He got the idea, somewhere along the way, that maybe other folks should share his God. He got out of his contract (OK, probably slavery) and went around telling folks how terrific his God was, and how he reckoned they should convert. It seems that polite conversation wasn't doing it for the pagans, who tended to stare at him, or point and laugh. Rude beggars, huh? Now young Patrick (or middle aged Patrick, or old Patrick, I have no idea) decided he needed to be a bit more...persuasive. He had noticed something common among the pagan big-wigs. The guys at the top of the food-chain, magic/spirituality wise speaking tended to have a symbol on them somewhere...often around their wrist. On the wrist that indicated their "hand of power", or the hand which they believed their "magic" flowed from. If it wasn't a tattoo, it was a torque. Guess what the tattoo/torque was? A critter called the oroborus. For them as what doesn't ken what that critter is, it's a snake eating its tail, and often represents eternity.
Pat realized that if he took away this "power", he took away their mystique and leadership ability. So he removed the snakes - often with something edged and unpleasant. Yes, he whacked off their hands. Or branded their skin. Or took their trinkets. Converting Heathens is such messy work!! It was for their own good, of course.

Some pagans today go on "snake crawls", a sort of pub crawl where they wear snakes and proclaim their paganism. I'm not quite that...er...proactive. I also don't necessarily think old Pat went around mauling everyone he met in an effort to build church membership and win a nifty prize. But it's the bloody aspect of what he supposedly did that earned his name in Christendom and for which his holiday is celebrated.

So again, why would I celebrate the day? Well, I'm all for a day when families get together and discuss history, theology, spirituality, and the like. Traditions are important - they give us a foundation on which to build our lives. People should discuss their history so they don't repeat it - whatever side of the issue they're on. Also, as I mentioned, I am part Irish. I can celebrate that heritage even as I acknowledge its imperfection. And I am Pagan - and I am celebrating the fact that I can be pagan today without (much) fear of having my (largely not visible when I'm clothed) tattoos painfully removed and other unpleasantness (except for the odd zealot who thinks I'm fair game, but I'm used to that. I live in the Bible belt, after all). Precisely because we didn't get wiped out, I celebrate. And have you ever had a really nice corned beef and cabbage dinner? I mean, yum! Oh, but I won't be wearing green. I wear blue. Don't even think about pinching me.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Antvasion!


Casa de Crazy has Occasional Ants.  Not ants for all occasions, which brings to mind ants dressed in all kinds of fun costumes, dancing, wee tuxedos and shiny shoes with six spats, bow ties impeccably tied.  Or ants in holiday hats hauling enormous sacks of presents around.  Or ants helping pack boxes and move them out to the van.

No, we occasionally (and by occasionally I mean more and more often) have large, black ants marching about the kitchen on various ant missions that they don't bother telling us about.

Oh, lort, is that my counter?  I swear it's not really that dirty - I just sprinkled pepper on a chicken and it kind of got away from me.  Ahem.

That fellow up there is one of the smaller ones.  Yes, smaller.
 Another one of the smaller ones, pausing to groom itself for its close up.

I didn't mind them much at first.  When they initially visited casa de Crazy, there weren't many of them and I managed to keep their traffic down with soap, Borax mixed with jelly or sugar water, and occasional smooshings.  Always with a warning, of course, because I don't think it's right to just bump someone off out of the blue.  Yes, I warn the bugs.  I warn mosquitoes, too.  And ticks.  They never listen, but I warn them.

Anyway, these here ants have come back year after year, kind of like the Capistrano swallows but way less nifty and far more scattershot with their timing.  Last year was pretty bad, even with ant baits and continued blarings of Justin Bieber music.  They came earlier and stayed later into the year, but eventually they went away to wherever it is they go to when they go away.

And then, a few scant weeks after they popped off, they came back.

See those two down there?
"Mornin', Hal."
"Mornin', Fred."
Like the sheep dog and the wolf in the old Warner Brothers cartoons.

The one on the right is one of the medium-ish ones.  I couldn't get a photo of one of the big ones...it was too fast for me.  I think it was an enforcer and didn't want media exposure - nothing like having your cover blown.  It may have hissed at me as it dodged into the crack between the cupboard and the dishwasher.  It certainly shook its fist, or whatever the ant equivalent (Antquivalent?  Snerk...) of that is.
They're kind of nifty, in a horrid, my house is being taken over kind of way.  If they would keep to themselves and maybe quit partying into the wee hours, I might not feel the need to do much about them.

However.

They are starting to get impertinent.  ImpertinAnt.  Hah!

Ahem.

The are terribly familiar fellows, making bold to crawl onto my shirt when I'm standing at the counter and eventually making their way onto my arm or neck and tickling me creepily with their six feet.  I was bitten by one, once, without so much as a how-do-you-do!

If they were outside or in one of those semi-two-dimensional farm thingies I bet I'd really enjoy viewing them as they went busily about their...umm...business.

As it stands, the cats aren't amused, the children are tired of brushing ants off of themselves, the spiders are over their diet of ants a la ants, I can't really have guests over because bugs squick most people out, and I have found one too many ants cooked into my dinner because they keep investigating what's cookin' without really thinking about the consequences (oh, goddess, the Fryolator-of-Doom sure does a number on 'em) and I so hate wasting food but I'm not eating steamed or french fried ant, and also I have had one too many uninvited-critter-crawling-on-me moments.

I have called in the big guns. Contrary to my usual philosophy of live and let live, I have scheduled a six-treatment package that will turn Casa de Crazy into a chemical war zone starting on Thursday and continuing for one year.  We will hopefully be ant free, roach free, and scorpion free (Redneck Central is nothing if not well populated with critters and varmints).  I'm sad about the spider loss, but I need to not feel things crawling on me in my sleep, so the spiders have been warned to pack their bags and find buggier climes.

Here's hoping they ants don't carry us off before then!

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Woe, Whoa

This is how I woke up this morning:

Daughter goes out to feed the feral cats, calls out that I hafta see this.

This?

Water.  Dripping from the garage ceiling onto my van, the floor, and sundry things beneath it.



Umm.  Water?  Drip, drip,drippity drip?

Half asleep and not prepared to deal with it, it took me a few minutes to realize I may need a plumber.  And my garage was flooding.  And some of the things in the now flooding garage are not salvageable.



Deep breath.

Back van out of garage, need elbow room.

Plumber, maybe?  How to pay for...

Daughter calls out to me that hall bathroom is flooded.

Hey, maybe that's what is leaking down through the floor and out the bulkhead in the garage.

Lots of towels on floor.  Toilet bowl is overflowing.  has been all night.

Joy.

Seems a child clogged said toilet and didn't ask for help.  That toilet runs (Sprout and I haven't had the chance to replace the flapper valve and see if that fixes it.  Guess we'll be getting on that soon) and it ran all night.  All.  Night.

The garage got doused.

Unclogged the toilet and sopped up the water on the floor.

Went down to garage.  Still drip, drip, drippity, drip.

Got screwdriver and hammer and made drainage holes.

Note:  several showers and a steam bath will be necessary today.

Drainage holes helped but were slow.  What the hey?  In for a penny, in for a pound - used hammer to make a hole.  Whoosh.  Used claw end of hammer to pull on already sagging, soaked, crumbling drywall.  Drainage commenced apace.

Bad news that could also be good news?  Van bench seats that were stowed in garage now definitely not worth saving, so out they go.  Bummer, but Mum and I don't ever use those seats and a cat or ten may have peed on them so they would have needed reupholstering anyway.  Now they just need hauling to the trash because they will require ore work than I will do or can pay for.  

Bed that was stowed in there will also have to go.  Feel bad for roommate because I was trying to keep it for her until she could come get it, but it's covered in sewer/ceiling water now and I can't have it moldering in there, and wouldn't let a child sleep on it ever again anyway.  Don't relish having to tell her...

Pretty sure the rest of what got wet was closed plastic bins.  Needs checking, maybe later.  

Shot video.  Can't upload for some reason.  Blog anyway.

Right now?  Smoothie.

Also contemplating whether or not my house is starting to reflect my mental state.

How's your day going?

Monday, March 7, 2016

Moments In the Sun

"What are you doing, Mama?"
"I'm planting seeds for the garden."
"Can I help?"
"Yup."
"Will you please move your foot so I can sit there?"
"Sure."
"Oh, sank you!"

She plops onto the edge of the driveway at my feet.

"What do I do?"
"Will you please scoop some of this dirt into that pot?"
"Okay"

"Now what?"
"I will add some mushroom compost and you can stir it up like soup."
"Ewww!"  She grins.  
She likes mixing the dirt.

We load some small seed starting pots with our mix.

"Now what, Mama?"
"Now you put one seed in each space and put a little dirt over it."
"Oh, okay.  These seeds look like mushrooms!"
"They're pepper seeds.  Bhut Jolokia, very hot Ghost Peppers."
"Are we growing these for Papa?"
"Some for Papa and some for Mr. Ric."
"Will YOU eat them?"
"Not me - I don't like my mouth on fire!"

She laughs.

"There, I did all mine, now what, Mama?"
"Now we mark them and put them on the table in the sun."

She carefully carries her little six-pack to the table.  I mark them with old plastic cutlery on which I write the names of the plants. She thinks that's funny.

We plant more kinds of peppers - jalapeno, poblano, purple bell.
"These seeds look like mushrooms, too!  All the pepper seeds look like mushrooms.  How come they don't look like peppers?"
"Perhaps they're in disguise."
"Like the Flash so no one knows who he is."
"Sure."

"What's in THESE ones, Mama?"  She points to more pots on the table.
"Some lettuce, some spinach, some Bells of Ireland I planted because of Mama Ra."

"I sink I want to take a taste of some lettuce with my dinner when it grows."
"You will try some of our lettuce?"
"YES!!!"

We finish up for the day.

"Will we plant more tomorrow, Mama?"
"Yup, we will.  Will you help me?"
"YES!!!  Umm...what will we plant?"
"Tomatoes and cucumbers and sunflowers and maybe some beans, and catnip..."
"Wow, that's a LOT!!!  We are going to have an ENORMOUS garden!!!  Papa will sink it is the biggest, best garden ever!!!  We will feed EVERYONE!!!!!  I'm going to go play now."

Off she flies on her scooter, hair streaming behind her, bits of earth crumbling from her hands.

"...and okra and squash and..."