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, November 18, 2017

Counting Down

It is Saturday of Thanksgiving week and there is much happening here at the Casa.

The kids and I are terrorizing the cats...er...tidying up a bit.  Poor Casa de Crazy is a right mess as a result of some serious depression, chaos, and stress, and it WILL BE CLEAN for Thanksgiving.  Or, at least, the parts our guests will see will be clean.  I hope.

This is a somewhat traditional post for me - every year I write a little something about this week, as it is the lead-off to The Silly Season and often one of my busiest here at the Casa.

So, here we go.

Saturday (today) - Bread baking for the dressing, and housekeepery. Oh, lort, the housekeepery.  Also washing all of the dishes, bowls, and platters for Thursday 
since they're the "good" dishes* and sit all year until I pull them out for Thanksgiving.

Sunday - More housework.  Lort, the housework.

Monday - cleaning, cleaning, more cleaning (I move slowly, the Casa is enormous, and I am not a good housekeeper so when we DO clean, it's a job).  Grocery shopping, because theres nothing like looking for obscure ingredients at the last minute.  Panicking about the butter - is two pounds enough for the day?  Gah!  Making sure the table linens are washed and ready to use and pulling out the "good" flatware**.

Tuesday - Quilt guild and pie baking.

Wednesday - helping Mom set up for the Mistletoe Market and making mashed turnips and carrots ahead of time.

Thursday - 
Turkey goes in to bake.  Dressing goes in to bake.  Green beans are steamed.  Corn is seared.  Finishing up any last minute cleaning.  Children are shooed outside to frolic.  Friends and family trickle in.  Set the table.  Fill the water pitcher.  Watch TV and baste the turkey.  Make food, food, more food.  Serve.  Eat.  Coma.  Dessert and coffee/tea.  More coma.  Play games.  Pack leftovers to go for guests.  Eat more.  Sleep well.

Friday - NO SHOPPING!!!  There may,however, be cookie baking.  Lots of cookie baking.  Certainly lots of leftovers eating and probably some Netflix watching.  Almost certainly crocheting.  Possibly attending a friend's workshop presentation.

Saturday - Start figuring out Yule stuff, maybe start addressing holiday cards, helping Mom with the Mistletoe Market.

Sunday - More Mistletoe Market, then packing it up.
How is your week shaping up?

*These are dishes that Mum and I bought one piece at a time from a grocery store a long, long, looooong time ago.  Service for fourteen including serving dishes, either free or bargain priced with purchase of a certain amount of groceries.  I love them.  Not fancy, but pretty and simple and I like them.

**Not sterling, but some rather lovely and solid stainless steel flatware from the Oneida Company, back when there was a Betty Crocker catalog and we clipped Betty Crocker points from boxes and saved them in a tin on top of the refrigerator.  Service for twelve, and some day I hope to expand it and add more serving pieces and other cutlery, but that'll have to wait a bit because it's a discontinued pattern and getting the pieces I'd like to have will cost a small fortune.  I adore my pattern, bought a few pieces at a time through the mail with little bits of cardboard and postage paid.

Sunday, November 5, 2017


My nose and feet are cold.  COLD!

It's 72 degrees inside Casa de Crazy and I have cold body parts.

There is something deeply satisfying about crusty French rolls and salted butter.
I went for almost a month without turning on, or even plugging in, my computer.  Whoa.
I didn't realize that DST was starting? ending?  Luckily my phone and computer take care of that for me, or the next week would have been...interesting...
It's November, over 70 degrees inside my house, and have I mentioned that my nose and feet are cold?  because they are.  Cold.
Casa de Crazy is a mess, and I'm determined to have it clean for Thanksgiving.  That shouldn't be a problem, but I feel like I'm moving through Jell-O all the time, and things that should be quick and easy?  Aren't.  Oh, well.  It'll all get done, somehow.
Whoever invented the freezer deserves a medal or sainthood or something.  I can make soup, freeze it, and then share it or have it whenever I want.  My children won't eat soup.  I am not entirely sure they're mine.
My daughter has decided that it's her job to clean off the dining table.  With a sopping paper towel and a generous dollop of dish soap.  Bless her heart.
Next weekend begins the Great Casa Garage Cleanup of 2017.  It is possible that I could be able to park in that space before Winter is over!  Hurrah!  Mizz A is coming down to help me because she's an incredible person who never shirks helping out a friend, and I'm lucky to have her or the garage would likely never have another vehicle in it.  Also, the kids and cats adore her.

Goodwill and the rubbish company will be getting a bonanza.  I will be getting an inside parking place again.  Win-win-win.
I'm going to go tuck myself under a blanket despite the warm house, because did I tell you that my feet and nose are cold?
What're you up to, today?

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Between Sleep and Waking

Between sleep and waking there is a place of half aware, half dream, where the mind weaves the input of the senses with threads of fantasy.

In this place conscious thought and imagination are jumbled jigsaw puzzle pieces haphazardly stuck together to make patchwork pictures that defy explanation outside the nebulous, wobbling incohesion between sleep and waking.

It is easy to get lost there, between sleep and waking.  Days dazed, not quite here, not quite there, scattered everywhere.  What was I doing in this room?  Why did I walk over there?  Why am I holding this dish, this broom, this piece of clothing, this book?  What was I trying to get done just now?  Did I see that, hear that, was it inside my head or out?

Walk through a door and forget, and forgetfulness becomes the wet woolen batting that wraps a body up from head to toe and makes everything heavier, sort of musty, slow, unfocused.  Walk back through the door, trying to remember, only to find that memory is elusive, a wisp within the mist swirling throughout the place between sleep and waking.

Minutes, hours, ebb and flow.  Liquid, undefined, gelatinous, oozing time slips through slack fingers, circles the drain, and is gone before it was ever there, life passing in stilted stop-motion muzziness like some old black and white movie playing on an endless loop between sleep and waking.

Somehow life goes on in tenuous moments pasted together with cobwebs, onion skin thin and brittle and always on the edge of becoming dust in the corners of the place between sleep and waking where it will remain unnoticed, unremembered, unremarked until the errant breezes of thought and consciousness send it swirling away to become motes on a sunbeam.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Pandora's Gift


Her name means "all gifts".

She was created as a punishment to men for Prometheus's gift of fire.  She was given to Prometheus's brother Epimetheus to marry, and along with her Zeus sent a locked box which was never to be opened.  Zeus gave the key to Epimetheus to keep, with stern admonishments to never, ever, under any circumstances, open that box.

So of course, Pandora wanted to know what was in there.

Of course she did.

Who wouldn't?

Humans are curious.

We want to know how things tick, and why, and if we can make them tick better, or fix them when they stop ticking.  We poke and tinker and futz and finagle, some by turning to gods and myths and some by turning to science, and we keep after trying to figure things out, down the rabbit hole and damn the consequences, until we have answers...or more questions.

Pandora kept asking Epimetheus to let her open the box.  Zeus kept reminding them not to open it.  Especially when Pandora had a handle on her curiosity, Zeus would whisper to her not to go bothering with that box, now, don't forget.

Eventually Pandora managed to get the box open.  I imagine the lock squealed dire warnings as she turned the key.  I imagine the lid creaked ominously as she lifted it.  I imagine there was darkness, silence, as the lid came to a rest and the contents were finally revealed.

The silence was shattered by the sound of every torment hitherto unknown to humanity cackling, gibbering, howling, shrieking, leaping into flight or clambering over the sides of the box, released from imprisonment and free to wreak their havoc upon the earth.  As they fled, each creature called out its name - war, hunger, hatred, death, fear, sorrow, pestilence, envy, need, and every other negative or unpleasant feeling and experience rushing forth, a box of angry hornets buzzing out to the corners of the world to sting and sting, relentlessly hounding us, our idyllic life suddenly changed in radical ways that we couldn't understand and likely never will.

Poor Pandora.

Reviled for her curiosity, her humanness.  I've noticed that no one ever gets mad at Zeus for being so petty.  He made the box, after all, and filled it up with all of those delightful presents.  He was the one who wouldn't let it rest, wouldn't let Pandora have any peace.

Pandora wept when she realized what she'd done.  She'd unleashed a kind of horror that would never end, could never again be boxed up, contained, again.

As she wept, she heard a whisper.  A soft rustle.  The barest hint of a sound.

It came from the box.

Pandora looked inside, thinking that maybe she could keep at least one terrible thing from escaping.

There, in the back corner, shining brightly in the shadows, was a tiny thing.  Pale, minute, and beautiful, it reached for her.  She lifted it from the box.

Hope, it said.  I am Hope.

I stand and face every dark thing, every shade, every nightmare, every misery, all of the things that drive you to the brink of madness and despair.  I am Hope.


Was it worth it?

Before Pandora opened up that box of curiosities, we didn't know anything about how unhappy we could be.  We didn't hurt each other, take what belonged to others, seek to own or dominate or eradicate.


We also didn't have hope.  Before Pandora, humans led a hopeless existence.

She didn't just curse us with all of those evils.  She gifted us with Hope.

We are the better for it.

Saturday, September 2, 2017


I like grist mills.  I like watching the water turn the wheel, the wheel turn the big metal rod thingies, the cogs and sprockets and whatsits all interlocking and translating the motion of the water into the motion of the great stone wheels that grind, grind, grind, until what was once the dried, tough kernel of some grass-related plant turns into powder useful for all kinds of kitchen alchemy.

I like seeing old millstones used in architecture and gardening, repurposed after the grooves are almost worn smooth.  I sometimes imagine making a patio out of some of those magnificent old stones, filling in between them with smaller stones and sand or planting creeping thyme or some other low-growing herb.

I don't like feeling as if I'm one of those hard shelled grains being ground down on some cosmic millstones, the wheel of time turning, turning, turning as I am worn away to nothing.  I don't like feeling as if I have somehow been bound to one of those old, worn out wheels and dropped into the millpond, left to struggle in vain to reach the surface as I am dragged ever downward into the murky depths.

I feel heavy and worn and useless, and I feel as if I would cry if only I could, but I cannot.

Hello, depression.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Tipping Point

When I was a kid, there was a weird little game that, at the time, was enormous fun - Don't Spill the Beans.

Playing was fairly simple - the beans (real ones, back then) were evenly divided among the players, and then each player gingerly placed a bean onto the pot lid.  Eventually enough beans were on the pot lid to cause it to tip over, and whoever made it tip had to collect all the beans.  The player who first offloaded all of their beans, won.

I don't recall if I ever won a game.  I played it at school, probably in kindergarten or first grade, and that seems an awfully long time ago.  The sound of the beans pouring onto the plastic surface underneath was enormously exciting and especially satisfying when it was another player who caused the havoc.

Lately, I've rather felt like that pot, although slightly less goofy, teetering at the tipping point but not quite ready to fall over.  Beans drop in and I wobble, but somehow manage to remain upright.

The thing is, I'd kind of like to turn upside down and dump the whole damned load, let someone else gather it up, tidy away the mess, and start over.

I feel like I'm on emotional gimbals when what I really want is an axle.

Sometimes, one needs to dump the beans (spilling sounds so passive - I like the more aggressive dumping for this), and I just can't seem to manage it.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

The Lonely House In Carnesville

Lately it seems like I haven't been witching much.  Other things going on, distractions, life tangling me up in its strands.  Yesterday I got to go visit a beautiful old house with Mizz A, and at the same time be a Witch.

It sits not far from the road that winds through the countryside, hills and farms, churches and cows, horses here and there, and giant rolls of hay that look like unripened or lightly toasted marshmallows waiting for the harvest.  It's on 49 acres, much  of the land let to go wild-ish, because that's a lot of land to care for when you're one woman, kids not interested in the place or the work involved. No blame, there, they have lives, but one person with a dicky back cannot wage that kind of battle with nature and her kind of entropy.

It was a plantation, once, and had a post office/store kind of place, and slaves, and then not-slaves, and there's a graveyard somewhere among the weeds.  The chicken house is still standing, and a barn, and one of the slave cabins and a storage kind of barn thing.

The owner called Mizz A because Miss A is part of a paranormal investigations group, and the owner was concerned about some odd goings on in the house.  Concerned enough that she moved out, cleared a little patch of land nearby, and built a new dwelling there.  Maybe it's haunted, or cursed, and maybe living there is a chance she didn't feel like taking any more.

So the old house?  Sits empty.

She loves that house, though, can't let it go just yet.  She has hopes and dreams, hopes and dreams that won't dry up and blow away just because of some...oddities.

Mizz A asked me if I could maybe come with her to visit the place and maybe despook or decursify it.  I like old houses and outbuildings, and figured a day out of the Casa, sans kids, might be a good thing, so I agreed.  We planned our jaunt, and yesterday was the day so off we went.

As soon as we drove up, I loved the place.  You know the kind of place that's home, even when it isn't?  That's quiet and peaceful and maybe a little sleepy?  Friendly and welcoming and a little quirky, like your crazy Aunt Edna with the crooked straw hat that makes you cookies and tells inappropriate stories that make you laugh?  The kind of place that wraps you in a gentle hug and tells you it's okay, you're safe here, and comfortable, and time slows down a littel?  Yeah, that kind of place.

And as soon as we drove up, I knew there was no haunting, no curse.

The house, it's lonely.

(A view of one side of the house, shot from a little table that was waiting in the yard)
It's been empty for a minute.  It used to be full of children, and laughter, and tears; life.  The family that has lived there since forever, the family that used to fill it with noise and motion, the family that steeped its walls with their history, that family didn't want it any more.  No heat.  No AC.  All kinds of updating, restoration, modernizing needed.  No thanks, we have different lives to lead.  No sentiment.  No attachment.  No roots.  They gutted it, sold off everything that once made each room a living space, sold the property, brushed the dust of it from their hands, and left it to its own devices and the whims of its new owner.  

(Roof and chimney, sound and ready to serve)
She saw its bones and felt the lull, the gentle tug of a house that wants to be lived in, and she was caught fast in its spell.  Love me, the house says.  I'm strong, sturdy, I'll weather the storms and keep you safe.  Here, you will have a haven.  Love me.

(Slave quarters, one room with a fireplace, now used as a kind of guest room)
And she does love it.  Every inch.  Every creaky board, every crack in the plaster, aver stone of it.  The house, it knows.  Some of the things she experienced in there, the not-hauntings, not-curse things, were the house trying to welcome her home.  It remembers, and it wants to share that it was a living place, once, and wants to be again.  It wants to welcome her, here, sit on the porch swing and relax with me, be calm, drink tea and let the world go on around us, we're fine right here.

(Oh, this chimney...how I adore this chimney)
You can feel its age.  Smell it.  It was built in a time when air conditioning was the wind, and doors and windows were generous and placed to catch every bit of moving air, let it wander through the house and back out again, carrying the heat with it.

(A barn, still in pretty good shape)
Despite the day being on the hot side, temps around 90F, the house wan't unbearable.  A modern home would feel like an oven, but with doors and windows thrown open, arms spread wide in welcome, high ceilings ready to catch and hold the rising hot air and leave it cooler down below, it wasn't unpleasant.Warm, but not unpleasant.

(The post office/shoppish building, exterior)
We walked around outside, looked at the outbuildings, chatted about the history of the place.  The owner offered us lunch, an unexpected treat of home made tomato sandwiches, sliced and seasoned cucumbers, apples, deviled eggs, radishes.  Chai tea.  We sat and ate and chatted some more, and I told her about the house's loneliness.

(Interior shot from the side door of the post office/whatsis)
She is afraid she will have to sell it.  There's a good bit of work that must be done before it is habitable, and even more to be done to fully restore its splendor.  She has a bad back, and a small bank account, and it's just too much.  Too much, but oh, the heartbreak of having to give it up.  She sees, appreciates, this house and its beautiful bones.

(An old saddle, waiting around)
We are kindred in our love of old houses.  There's something in the way they smell, of wood often polished and plaster, and memories.

(Shelf space...jars...shelf space...ooooh...)
She could do many things with this house.  Live in it, yes, but...

A bed and breakfast?  An event site, perfect for weddings and celebrations, parties, bonfires, music.

A museum, perhaps, or a gallery, or an artist's home.

So many things could be done in such a fine old place.

But you have to get there, don't you?  All it can be right now is a skeleton awaiting flesh, and that kind of flesh requires dollars.

(I wonder how much penny candy this old thing rang up...)
Love it all she may, the owner can't afford it.

(Dear old house)
She might be able to sell some of the land, but not too much, to fund the restoration.  That would be good, because the house doesn't care about the land.  It cares about feeling so empty and alone, and if land has to go in order to live once more, fine.  Make it happen, the house says.

(Front door)
It's not the land that makes the magic, here, although land is living and magical in its own right.  It's this house.  Something I can't quite name, but like the owner, I felt it.  heard it.  A humming, thrumming, in my center.

(Main hall, center through, similar to the house in Little Compton where I spent much of my early life)
As we sat on the lawn and munched our lunches, I felt the happy, tuneless song of the place; happy because people were there, eating, talking, sharing space and time, and even if it wasn't much compared to the past, it was something.  Stay, the house said.  Rest.  Relax.  Enjoy.  It crooned a soothing song, and even the occasional traffic on the road was hardly noticeable though we sat only yards from the pavement.

(The wood...the wood...I love the wood, great big planks of it running along the ceiling)
No curse needed lifting, no vengeful or restless spirit needed sending off.  I gave the owner a blessing I'd written, in Cherokee no less, and offered to do a little blessing but reassured her that there was nothing wrong there.  None of the sad or tragic things that had happened in the history of the place were anything more than life happening.  Nothing evil or angry.  Just a lonely house wishing for a family to fill it.

(The fireplaces all need work, but the chimneys are sound)
We went inside again, in where the feeling of the place was even stronger, the wistful welcome, and I lit some incense, mixed some things up, said a blessing for the house and its human, scattered the mojo mix around, and then played my flute for a bit.

(The kitchen fireplace.  I always wanted a kitchen with a fireplace.)
While Mizz A and the owner went out and chatted on the front steps, I went back inside and shot more photos.  I talked to the place.  Patted the door frames.  Tried to reassure it - someone will come love it, come live in it.  You, the house said.  You come.  I can't, I told it.  No money.  No resources.  No way to do it justice.  Maybe if there's a lottery win...

(The root cellar, currently full of cobwebs and a small water heater.  Yes, I went down there.  It was nifty!)
I felt like weeping.  Some houses are homes, yes, but they aren't alive.  They don't breathe.  They don't remember.  Some houses are just buildings.  No history, nothing and no one tied to them.  

(Chai tea in a chipped cup.)
This dear old place, though, was full of its past and hoping for a future.  One person, 20 people, it doesn't matter as long as there's life within, life without.

(Our hostess prepared a feast!)
I could see, in my mind's eye, what it could be.  Restored, lived in, this room a parlor or music room, center hall the living room, that room a library, those rooms bedrooms.  Dining room full of wooden furniture, kitchen modern but showing respect for the history of the place, maintaining the integrity of its origins in architecture.  Porches with rocking chairs.  Attic made into a finished living space, a staircase added in the front or side hall for access.

(The windows were glazed with old style glass, small ripples giving the world a watery look.)
I could see how I would finish the wood, paint the walls, arrange the kitchen.  I could imagine my family living our lives there, smells of baking, sounds of play, music, wind, fireplaces crackling in winter.

(Fireplace and closets in what would be the master bedroom)
For brief moments here and there, it was so real I could touch it.  The house, offering me possibilities, showing me what could be if only...

(A modern addition, the owner enclosed a bit of porch and added a bathroom - the house had none!)
Alas, I cannot bank if only, nor use it to pay for the artisans needed to do the house justice.  Sorry, house.  Oh, I can love you from a distance and daydream about you, and I certainly will hope that the owner can find a way to bring you back to your glory, but short of a miraculous lottery win, I'm afraid I can't do much more than write about you and wish you the best.

(More of the bathroom and a bit of the space beyond that could be a closet, but right now contains the attic access)
It's funny how old houses draw some of us in.  

(At the back of the center hall, looking at the back door and side hall that leads to the dining room)
The owner told us that when she first saw the place, she wept to leave it.  She drove away crying.  So quickly, she was attached.

(The dining room and the kitchen door as well as a glimpse of the side door that leads to the side porch)
Do you know that feeling?  That feeling of this is the place, this is the one, this is where I belong, and my roots are already sinking deep?

(The kitchen, from the dining room door)
She invited us to come any time, perhaps to have a bonfire.  A drum circle would fit in nicely, there.  A witch could live happily there.  She was relieved to know that the house is not infested with ghostly remnants of the dead, nor cursed.  She was touched that I felt it too, the house's sense of desolation and wish to live again.

(The kitchen and pantry, from the small enclosed porch door)
We agreed that it needed an owner who would love it for that it is, and shared a horror of the idea that anyone could buy it, knock it down, put in tract housing, erase something so fine.

(A nifty plant hanging out in the yard)
I hope something wonderful happens and the owner can keep the Lonely House in Carnesville.  I hope that she can find a way to restore it fully, live in it, enjoy it, and sometimes maybe invite a certain witch and her friend for dinner.

If you know of anyone who'd like to help keep a bit of history alive, who can donate time, talent, or money to put the shine back into it, get in touch with me.  I can repay you in smiles and possibly cookies, and the owner would be most grateful for the assist.