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.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Swamp Walking

Depression is an insidious thing.  It doesn't announce itself with loud sirens or flashing lights, no signs hailing its approach.  Rather, it creeps, slithers, drifts into the corners and lurks, slowly building.

An ache here.

A sigh there.


Mental haze.

A person is moving along through life, unaware of what's happening, until they are up to their ass in murky swamp with no exit on the horizon.  Everywhere they turn, more swamp.

It's all mosquitoes and mist alligators and chiggers and lonely-voiced frogs calling out their melancholy messages.

Some people can lift themselves out of the swamp and find the sunlight again, either on their own or with medication.

Some people sink up to their necks, then disappear entirely, lost to car exhaust or pills or sharp edges.

Some people pick a direction and start slogging until they are no longer hip deep in the muck.  I am one of these.  Day after day I pick up my basket of stones and wade through the slime, hoping to find firmer ground, a place to put down my load and rest a while.

Lately I have the feeling that there's not any solid ground out there - just occasional hummocks on which I pause before the swamp swallows them.

I'm tired to the bone of making the effort.

I keep going, but sometimes...sometimes I wonder why I bother.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

It Do Go Fast

I received a bit of money as a gift from family.  As often happens, I thought about what to do with it and made a little mental list of things I'd like to get.  Kind of like I do when I fantasize about winning the lottery.

What I wanted to buy:
A second battery for the new camera so I won't run our of power when I shoot a bazillion photos.
A passport drive to store pictures on.
A new memory card for Someone's camera.
A sushi dinner date for Someone and I.
A few more pieces of winter clothing for Sprout.

What I did use the money for:
Filling The Black Hole (my poor bank account has been in the negative for months)
Feeding someone else's addiction.
Taking Sprout to play with Buddy (the Evil Genius) for half a day at Catch Air.
Takeout dinner from the noodle shop for Someone.
Cat food, cat litter, and other items from the grocery store that we ran out of all at once.
And I managed to keep some aside for the Evil Genius's birthday party.

I have a dollar left.

A whole dollar just for me.


Thursday, December 27, 2012


I mentioned in a previous post that I was working on something for K2, a quilted something.  I was being deliberately vague on the off chance that the person for whom the quilt was destined might actually read my blog - a long shot, for sure, but why take chances?

Quilt finished and gifted, I can now post pictures - pictures that I shot with my shiny new camera, no less!

Here's the finished, slightly larger than crib sized quilt, held up by my lovely assistant...er...friend, K2:
 A detail shot of one of the special panels K2 ordered.  They were the most difficult aspect of the quilt for me - they were all slightly different sizes and cut alightly crooked, and the design goes right to the edge, so I had to cut very carefully:
 I held my breath.

Another detail shot, this time of the batiks bought to compliment the three panels:
 A shot of the quilt on the floor, showing the backing fabric, a nice, soft, nubbly bit of fabric that was actually the most difficult part of the quilt, but for Mum:
Since I didn't bat the quilt, we just put right sides together, stitched back to front, then turned it.  We?  No, really, Mum did that bit, and thank goodness because I would have been in tears.  That delicious backing fabric?  Stretchy.  I don't do well with that kind of material, and on top of that I don't have a walking foot for my machine.  Mum is talented AND has a walking foot, so she was nice enough to sew, turn, and top stitch, and then I could finish it by tying the corners of the blocks.

I plan to use the scraps to make a coordinating car seat blankie, too, but K2 really wanted to gift the quilt for Christmas, so I put a rush on it.

Whadaya think?

Wednesday, December 26, 2012


The new camera is tremendous.  Boy, do I have some learning to do!
Living with an addict is exhausting.  It is painful.  It is unpleasant, especially when the addiction is not being met.  It shapes one, often in ways one does not like. It is depressing, and difficult and isolating.  It is lonely.
Wine fermenting causes a bubbler to rise and fall, which, when it is steady on and in full ferment, sounds a lot like a clock ticking in the silence.  Tick.  Tick. Tick.
Wine sending outgasses through the bubbles smells very much like the fruit bowl one left full of fruits and on the table before one went on a 30 day vacation.  It is...unfortunate...but oddly pleasant.  Or perhaps I am simply weird.
Our friend A made Sprout a DVD of 135 Pingu episodes.  Oh...dear...umm...thank you?  Sprout adores Pingu (a gibberish speaking penguin).
It was a penguin rich holiday for Sprout.  She got a 30" high papa penguin with its baby which are the cuddliest things ever, the Pingu DVD, and a baby penguin that came with a bottle and cheeps when it's hungry, makes a smacking sound when it has the bottle, and has garnered Sprout's love and devotion entirely.  Happy Sprout.
The Evil Genius is spending some time with his dad.  Casa de Crazy is oddly still and quiet.
I need a counselor who is willing to work for baked goods.  Anyone know one within reasonable driving distance of Redneck Central?
How much is enough?

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Click, Click, Whir

I still feel kinda crappy this morning, but I haven't wet my pants, yet, so things are looking up!

Meanwhile, life rolls on, and however I may be feeling there are things to do, places to go, people to inflict mucous on.  Wait, strike that last one - I think I have some Kleenex in the van.

I finished the baby quilt I was working on for K2.  Well, not for K@, but on her behalf so she could give it to someone else.  I will be delivering it today, and will shoot some photos of it in her magnificent house (oh, yeah, I still have house envy more than a year later).

Shoot photos, did I say?  Why yes, yes I did.  My beloved Kodak Easy Share Camera of Amazing Photo Taking is finally cranky beyond my means to shake, smack, poke, blow, or bang on the pavement to make it behave.  It has decided that the whole world should be pink, possibly in an effort to make me get some rose colored glasses and join it in a delusional haze.  Or maybe the haze is from schmutz on the lens.  It also has trouble focusing, much like my son.

Also, on occasion, it does something very odd and sort of shoots in the negative, but in non-negative colors, giving the photo a sort of Warholian effect that has been interesting to behold, but not the desired result when trying to immortalize a precious moment in one's child's life.

You may imagine that such malfunctions as those would curtail picture-taking.  You would imagine correctly.  I have been doing my best to make it work, because I am still a would-be art photographer and do some shooting for K2's Etsy shop on the side, and using a phone camera just doesn't cut it.  Shooting several hundred photos to get a few good ones is something of a pain, but one muddles through.

Being aware of my plaint, Mum gave me a new camera for Yule.  I should mention that the Easy Share was a  Yule gift some many years ago, and it did yeoman's duty.  Anyway, new camera.  Sixteen megathingies, an LCD view screen that is bigger than a postage stamp, and lots of features I may never use but that look nifty.  It has been broken in with a few shots of family and fire, and even shot some video.  The zoom feature is terrific - I shot embers on a log from across Mum's living room!  It feels nice in my hands, and?  No pink where there oughtn't be!

It's not a Kodak, but I don't hold that against it.  It's a Canon, which National Geographic advertises and supposedly uses, so I have high hopes.  It has a nice, safe, well padded case to ride about in, so it may not wind up like the poor abused Kodak Easy Share which was dropped so often it should have had frequent flier miles.  With a lovely padded neck strap, the Canon should have a somewhat safer tenure as my shooter of choice.

I'll be photographing the quilt with the new camera, and if all goes well will post a picture on here sometime in the next century.

I'd better get moving.  Hey, what's your camera of choice?

Saturday, December 22, 2012

But the Days Are Getting Brighter

I am in a dark mood, right now.

I'm tired of anger and blame and fault-finding and feeling like all I can do is wrong, wrong, wrong.

I am tired of being held responsible for the well being of others, any others, adults, children, cats, plants...and that I am failing at it entirely.

While I'm whining, I would like not to feel like my sinuses are about to explode, making my molars ache, my head hurt, my eyes throb.  It would be lovely to blow my nose without experiencing deafness, earache, and dizziness.  I would like to be able to breathe freely, without fear that I am going to burst into paroxysms of violent coughing that leave me weak, dizzy, and useless.  Also, sometimes (and I hate to admit this), sometimes a little damper than I'd like because apparently there's some new cosmic rule that I have to pee a little when I cough, now.

What I would like is to be just sick enough to need to be put away somewhere restful, but not so plague-ridden that I can't come home again in a  little while, after maybe a few days of sleep and perhaps some pancakes that I didn't have to make and clean up after.  And, when I did come home, I would like to feel whole and well, not tired and worn.

I would like to be taken care of.

What can I say, I am weak.

Although my common sense and experience tell me no one's stepping up to make me soup or do whatever it is people do when they look after someone who wants/needs it, my dreaming self, the wistful part of me, kinda wishes...

I made my own soup and tried not to let Sprout do too much damage while I felt wretched on the lounge this afternoon.  Since no one seems to have noticed, I guess I did okay.

And yes, I am feeling sorry for myself.  I don't really care that there's someone who has it worse.  For today, at least, I'M the someone who has it worse.  Someone else can have the honor tomorrow.

Friday, December 21, 2012


Annual re-post freshened up with current info.
Happy Yule, y'all!

Wait, what? Yule - you know...Yule? The holiday that some people celebrated waaayyy before that poor wee baby was supposedly born in a pile of hay? Evergreens ring a bell? Holly? Ivy? Mistletoe??

OK, go get a snack and a nice beverage (eggnog on the right, pink punch in the center, pick a bottle from the high chair to spike it with)(yes, the high chair is our bar - the Evil Genius doesn't need it any more, Sprout has one that's a little more stable and able to handle her wiggling without that alarming creaking noise, and it's an heirloom that I want to keep on display - so why not??) and get comfy. All set?

Yule, or Winter Solstice, is a celebration of the returning light.

Yep, it's that simple.

The God is reborn today, and the days will lengthen with his growth, into the fullness of Summer. In some villages, way back in the past, hearth fires would be extinguished (a brave thing when you didn't have Zippos or matches or even two sticks to rub together). They would be relit from brands taken from a community balefire, lit by the sun himself with a little help from some glass (or a hidden coal or two - c'mon, we weren't above a little showmanship, back then), thereby bringing the sun (and, one hoped, his blessings) into the home. It also kept the community united, because everyone shared the same fire, the same light and heat. Cool, huh? Gotta love a religion that encourages playing with fire. Ahem.

The fir tree was (and is) a symbol of life lasting even through death, the promise of life and light renewed, and a reminder that beneath the snow, the Earth-heart beats on. Holly and Ivy were green, too, but they were also symbols of the Green Man, the Forest Lord, Jack o' the Green - the God primeval. The Holly King and the Ivy King, the old and the young, the constant, changing balance. Deep stuff, yo.

Mistletoe is still used in a fairly traditional way, although it wasn't always just kissing done under the stuff. I still use the leaves and occasional berry when I make love bundles for people (Note - a love bundle isn't a love spell, it is meant to strengthen what is already there, not coerce or sublimate the free will of another. I don't DO love spells, so don't even ask.)(I mean it.), and it's a terrific symbol. It was also a fertility and aphrodisiac herb, but only symbolically - even wigged out Druids knew the stuff was toxic!

We light a yule log, in our house one that's cut from the trunk of last year's tree (the rest of which is providing habitat and nutrients in the woods out back). Old tales say if it lights on the first try and burns for twelve hours, we'll have good luck...this year, I'm soaking one end in water, first. What? We need all the good fortune we can get...don't you??

This year we are spending Yule at Mum's, lighting the burn pile, celebrating the returning light with a little spark of our own. We'll collect some of the ash and bring it home to add to the ash jar and sprinkle around the foundation for a blessing.

Sometimes a group of us will get together and just spend a quiet day nibbling snacks, enjoying each other's company, and taking a break from the holiday insanity out there among the English. If we exchange gifts, we try to make them ourselves, or give things that encourage and nurture our spiritual or creative selves. Things will be a little sparse this year, and Someone and I have agreed not to exchange anything...we want the kids to have a nice holiday, although Sprout wouldn't know or care if she got a gift as long as there was a box and some ribbon to play with.

But mostly, it's a celebration of the returning sun, the waxing light, the cycle renewed.

Happy Yule - When the days be cold, may your hearth be warm. When the nights be long, may your fire burn bright. When the wind blows, may you find snug shelter. When tree and field are bare, may your larder be full. May you never know Winter's chill a moment longer than you care to, nor hunger nor want, and should you find you have all that you need and a bit more besides, may you find someone who will gladly take what you offer and live better for the receiving. Blessed be.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

End, Schmend

In three days the world is coming to an end, if some people are to be believed.

Me?  I don't buy it.  I figure if the world's going to end, we won't know until we've gotten to the other side of the ending.

Maybe the Mayans figured a few thousand years was far enough to chip a calendar into stone.  Maybe they figured if they were still around when it ran out, they'd make a new one.  Maybe they were playing a huge, far-reaching joke.

We've been teasing a little, here at Casa de Crazy, about all the frantic shopping that will happen on the 22'nd.  I think clever retailers should capitalize on that, have a "We Made It!!!" sale.  I feel sorry for the people who deeply believe that the 21'st is it, baby, and have spent up their money and their credit and will wake up one day later than they expected with a mountain of debt and no end of the world in sight.

Meanwhile, also in three days is Yule, Winter Solstice, the pagan holiday that inspired Christmas (because even biblical scholars are saying that Christ would have been born sometime in March).

I am not ready.  It sort of snuck up on me.  I don't know where the time has gone, but it sure went.  I am nowhere near beginning making some gifts, let alone finished.  Eek!  Today I'm going over to K2's place, sans children, to try and remedy that.  I also need her to help me pin a quilt so I can finish it for her before...something.

Thanks to Mum, gifts for the kids are ready to place under the tree at her place.  I have one gift started, another ready to put together, several more to start, and perhaps a day to get them finished and wrapped.  Nothing like working under pressure!

Of course, if I hadn't gotten partway through a project and decided I didn't like it and wasn't going to finish it, I might have been better prepared.  Hindsight.

It's all good.  We put more focus on time spent together than gifts.  All of us adults are aware that sometimes children, pets, and life in general nibble away at the hours until there's not enough left to finish what we started in the craft room.  And I'll stay up late and gitter done, by gum, because I really like watching people unwrap presents.  Warms my cockles, it does.

Meanwhile, we'll have good food, good company, a big fire (rain or shine, we do the burn), and a very good time.

The world will just have to end without us.  We're busy that day.

Sunday, December 16, 2012


In my mind is an entire world of possibility.  My imagination is powerful, fueled by years of dwelling in possibility and an endless faith in wonder.

As tremendous as it is, my imagination isn't always a happy, positive tool.  Sometimes it runs in another, darker direction.

Just now, it ran down a road I would rather not travel, but I believe in allowing my imagination free reign, letting it go its course until it winds down.  I believe this helps me to see how I would cope with...whatever.

In my mind, I saw a house.  An ordinary house in an ordinary neighborhood, decked with lights, wreath on the door, tree glowing in the living room window.  There should be smoke curling from the chimney, music playing, laughter, cookies baking, but except for the tree, which is on a timer, the house is quiet and dark.

Dinner sits cold on the table.

Under the tree, wrapping paper glitters, ribbon curls, gifts wait for small hands to hold them, tear off the paper, press the sticky bows to little foreheads, wrestle open packaging and gleefully exclaim over the contents.

They have a long wait.

Two days ago, a man made a choice that changed everything for the occupants of the house in my mind.

The gifts so lovingly wrapped and placed beneath the tree will never be opened.  They will sit, forlorn, until a broken-hearted mother or father puts them in a closet, unable to throw them away or return them.  They'll be a silent reminder of loss.

Every room in the house in my mind misses the echoes of one voice.  Every room is a little emptier, a little colder, because one person is not there to fill the space any more.

Under the tree are gifts wrapped by a mother who won't be there to see her child open them.  The child will carefully peel off tape, gently open a box that Mommy touched before she was...gone...and that child will treasure the gift, whatever it is, all through life, carry it as a reminder of the parent who was a target for wrongness.

In the house in my mind are beds suddenly too large, too empty, too crowded with memory and loss.  There is one too many places set at the table.  On piece of pie left where none used to be.  No one to bake that one special cookie or to throw the ball for the dog or hide their broccoli when no one is looking.  There is an unfinished quilt at the sewing machine, an unfinished puzzle on the coffee table, an unfinished book on the night stand.

One house in my mind, multiplied over and over again, far too real in a far away place that is not in my head at all.

Friday, December 14, 2012


I was a teacher, once.  Several times, in fact.  Children from birth to early childhood with a stint in a Montessori program for what we'd call 'Tweens today, but back then were just...kids...  At one point, I unofficially ran a daycare center with 112 children from infants to pre-K.

I ache, right now.  I bet most or you do, too.
Politicians are drawn to tragedy like buzzards to stink.  I wish I could believe it was because they hope to sooth hurt or help with the healing, but that's just not true, is it?  Like the buzzards, they hope to feed on death and will not leave off until they are glutted and have picked the bones clean.
I am so proud of the Evil Genius - he tried sushi and he liked it!  Sprout likes the sticky rice with soy sauce...preferably all over her...
I made a quilt top in two days, which was fun (yay, clean cutting table and somewhat tidier sewing room!) , but now I'm concerned that the end of the world really is nigh - all my corners came out square and properly aligned.  I know!  Hold me!!
I suddenly realized that I have less than a week to finish making Yule gifts.  Eek!  I think I can do it, if I can just break that pesky habit of sleeping...
If I build a fairy house, do you think the little bastards darlings will quit picking on us?
Sprout likes the holiday lights - she will point and say "LIGHTS!!!" when she sees them.  I can't wait to drive by the house up near Mum's that seems to have ingested tons of glass and vomited out thousand of lights all over their yard.
No blogs from me this weekend, maybe, probably, I'm pretty sure, because we have baking and sewing to do on Saturday and a friend's sixth birthday to celebrate on Sunday.  You'll be alright, right?  Cool.
What're you thinking about right now?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

We Shall Sing

Sprout has taken to singing.

She doesn't have much of a repertoire, but what she lacks in scope she makes up for with volume and enthusiasm.

She likes her brother to sing along.

Her lyrics are not terribly sophisticated, but there's something to be said for simplicity, and since they're never in the same order twice, the song is always fresh.

We have dubbed it The Family Song, and it goes a little something like this, in a sing-songy fashion:  Mama, mama, mama, mama, papa, buddy, buddy, buddy, papa, papa, mama, buddy!

Buddy is what she calls her brother.  It sounds more like "buh-eeeee".

She likes to sing along to the music on the radio, and The Family Song is what she sings.  she also sings it in the car, in the tub, lying in her bed, dancing around the living room, and when we're holding her.

It utterly ruins us.  Turns someone and I into puddles, melts us all over the floor.  Good grief.

If I can manage to transfer from phone to computer, I will share a video clip some day.

Did your kids sing?  How 'bout you?

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Truth Be Told...

...sometimes he is...

I don't claim to be the same kind of woman that fellow up there is singing about, though.  I think mostly I am tenacious, which is a nice way of saying I'm either too stubborn or too stupid to give up on a person even when they are pushing me so hard my figurative heels are leaving drag marks on the figurative floor and people wonder what I'm thinking.

What's that line from that movie about that guy who did that thing?  Oh, yeah - you don't give up on a life just because it's been knocked around a little, or something like that.

Pardon me, would you?  I'm feeling low and exhausted on every level, so I think a little Sprout tickling is in order, and perhaps some fabric shenanigans if a certain little girl will allow.

What're you up to, today?

Friday, December 7, 2012


It's such an easy thing to take for granted.  We do it without thought until we can't do it, and then?  It's all we can think about.

It is the focus of many meditation methods, yoga, and exercise coaches often exhort their students to do it.

We do it consciously to help us calm down.


To draw breathe, exhale, repeat as infinitum, from birth to death.

The first thing I say in my track communications class is "Before you make your call remember to breathe, because oxygen is your friend", which draws a laugh and reminds people to quell the panic, be calm, speak clearly.  Breathing helps with that.

Asthma tends to throw a spanner into the breathing works.

I grew up struggling for breath. One good, honest, deep breath was a miracle to me.  On asthma days, I had to sit on the sidelines and watch other kids run and play.  I couldn't swing or climb trees or even walk very fast.  Some days I had to focus everything I had on putting one foot in front of the other, had to fight for every expansion and contraction of my lungs.  Some days speaking or even sitting up was out.

I was surrounded by smokers, so a clean air was at a premium.

I had three triggers for my asthma: stress, allergies, and extreme cold, of which there were plenty in New England.

I learned a lot about how my body functions with low oxygen.  I learned some non-medical things about how to forestall an attack if I was aware of the onset - breathe through a wet paper towel, keep a cool cloth on my chest, drink caffeinated beverages

I learned that I could swim even on a bad day, but nothing helped on the worst days except being very still and focusing on each breath as if it were my last.

I learned that asthma isn't the inability to inhale, it is the inability to exhale.  Put simply, the lining of the lungs swells and creates pockets that trap indrawn air.  If you can't get the used air out, you can't get new air in.  The wheezing you hear is air trying to push out of those pockets.  Sometimes, if you're one of the especially lucky ones, you also get crackling from mucous build up.  Guess who was a lucky one?

A couple of times, it almost turned to pneumonia.  Once, it did, double.

Once, in another country where I didn't speak much of the language, it put me in the hospital.  I'll tell you about it sometime.

When you are fighting with your whole body to just breath, you become very, very focused.  The world fades, and your attention shrinks to the simple act of making your chest rise and fall.

The most intense moment is the one between breaths.  That's the moment when you don't know if there will be another inhalation, if your chest will expand one more time or if it will fail.  That's where you're tired and don't know if you should keep fighting, or if maybe you could just quit and rest a while.  It is no longer an unconscious, involuntary act - without thought, without effort, the breathing will not happen.

That between moment is a doorway of sorts.  Standing at the threshold between two worlds, balanced, waiting.

With the advent of steroid inhalers and home nebulizers, it's easier to treat asthma, for which I am grateful.  You see, the Evil Genius has asthma.  Both of his grandmothers smoke/d (Mum quit when he was born, T's mother still smokes), and apparently that makes it exponentially more likely that a child will have respiratory issues.

When he was little and had an attack, I would sit up at night and watch him as he slept, still fighting with all his might, his tiny body exhausted but rigid wit the effort of breathing.  I would watch, and count, and wonder if this, this was the breath that send us to the hospital.  A few times I bundled him up and hauled him into the city to be plugged in, hooked up, poked and prodded, and finally given that asthma-easing vapor.  When I finally got the diagnosis of asthma and the prescription for the nebulizer I was delighted - I could save us the stress of the ER!

I hate that I passed this to my son.  I hate that he has had to fight the same battle that I did.  I hate that he has had to discover the between place and dwell in that timeless moment, and one of the few things I pray about is that unlike me, his asthma will not follow him into adulthood.  That and that Sprout will not be similarly afflicted.

I also pray that he won't get stuck in that place between, lost in the vast distance that spans from one breath to the next when the lungs have gone haywire.

Close your eyes and breathe.  Nice, isn't it?  Take one for me, would you?

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Oh, Pooh

Sprout is besotted with Winnie the Pooh.  To date she has four Pooh stuffies, an Eeyore, a Piglet, and a Tigger.

She wanders towards the computer several times a day with the plaintive cry of "Uhhhh Pooooooohhhh", which, in Sproutese, means "I would very much like to view one or two of my favorite Winnie the Pooh clips on YouTube, if you please".  Usually, she watches with Someone, cuddled on his lap, feet kicked up on the desk.  She likes to point to things she knows on the screen, and when there are crows cawing, she caws along with them.  She keeps her papa pinned in the computer chair for clip after clip, melting our hearts.

She still likes Pingu (A Swedish claymation show about a little penguin and his family, it can sometimes be odd, is always entertaining).  She demands "Eeekooo, Eekooo" when she wakes up in the morning, and in one scene, where the penguin is lost, she calls out for him with his searching parents.

But Pooh is king of the visual entertainment world for her, right now.  She carries one or more of her stuffies around with her much of the time, especially the pooh that is almost as large as she is.

The big Pooh was Someone's score, found at Goodwill for a dollar. Best dollar spent, to date.  She will take Pooh by his arms and dance with him, sometimes singing "Eeeyah Pooh, eeyah Pooh..."

Piglet seems to be flung about a bit.  He's much smaller than the big Pooh, and apparently aerodynamically pleasing to Sprout, who likes to spin him around then release, or toss him high in the air (hoping to hit the ceiling fan, I believe) and watch him land higgeldy-piggeldy.

The funniest thing to see is when she bounces with Tigger (same size as Piglet, about 8 inches, give or take).  Sprout likes to hop, anyway.  She is a prodigious hopper, often hopping down the hall, around the living room, up and down stairs.  She has a good sense of distance and knows what's a buouncable gap or elevation and what's best to be careful about.  She shouldn't be able to spring with such confidence - at her age, balance is usually questionable at best - but what does she care for "supposed to"?  Not a jot. I am, of course, biased, but I think her sense of balance is superb - she thinks nothing, now, of standing on one foot and leaning forward like a lifetime practitioner of yoga or a dancer, and just...standing there.  Solid as a rock.

So, yeah, bouncing.  She will take Tigger by his paws, place his feet on the floor, hunker down in front of him, and bounce him, singing her version of the Tigger song.  She often looks to see if we are paying attention, coy little minx.

I recently tried to find a Pooh DVD online, but apparently people have lost their minds and Pooh DVDs are more valuable than gold.  I love my girl, but $120 for a DVD?  No.  Way.

YouTube will have to do until we unearth a bargain DVD somewhere, one not pressed from fairy dust or whatever it is that makes these things so costly.

Sprout is demanding I post the Tigger song.  Here ya go:

Sunday, December 2, 2012

The One That Started it All

One evening, some years ago when T and I were still new, we were walking in a mall just before Christmas. Madness!  As we walked, I heard the strains of one of my favorite carols, The Carol of the Bells, a piece I had sung many times in several choruses.  This rendition, though...this rendition stopped me in my tracks.

I had to find it.

Into the Warner Brothers store we went, where a wall of TV screen showed a video set to the music.

Who was it?

Where could I find it?

The clerk at the desk managed to find the name of the group, if not the song, and we went straight to the music store (they used to have whole stores dedicated to selling music, children) and bought what we could find of them.

The song, happily, was on the CD.

It is, to this day, the first holiday music I play.

Trans Siberian Orchestra, Christmas Eve in Sarajevo. If you ever get the CD Christmas Eve and Other Stories, read the liner notes.  Powerful, beautiful stuff.

Bird and I love to rock out to Wizards in Winter, sing along to Christmas Nights in Blue, and jam to, well, Christmas Jam from The Lost Christmas Eve.  The Christmas Canon from The Christmas Attic is one of my holiday ringtones on my phone.

I want to sing with them some day.  Seriously.

I have all of their music up to Night Castle, now.

There may not be a tree at Casa de Crazy, and there may not be lights or decorations, but there will always be TSO in the CD player.  It wouldn't be the holidays without them.

Here, then, is that video, the one that started it all:

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


Ow, that place on my bum that isn't my bum but more like my hip but not my hip kinda between the hp and maybe it is my bum after all, but that place that popped a couple of months ago still hurt and it's a...ahem...bummer.
The outside of my left foot constantly aches which I wouldn't mind if that meant something like "Hey, you're about to win the lottery!" but I'm afraid it really means "Hey, you're too fat!"
The Y quit having homeschool mornings in child care and the Evil Genius is too young to use the equipment, so I can't go in the mornings, and afternoons are out because Sprout naps (and so do I when I can), besides which we can't take her if she's been sick (24 hours fever free), which she has been often of late due to fractious ears and generous lashings of snot.  I miss the Y.  Maybe I'll get to go back there some day.
This morning I edited more than 300 photographs in preparation for some serious Etsy madness.  If you want to support artists and give fabulous, unique gifts, go check out Unleash the Goddess on Etsy.  Tell her Kyddryn sent ya.  You won't get a discount, but she'll smile at me, which is worth a fair bit in my book.
The baby knows when she's poopy and anounces it with a plaintive "I pooooo-oooop" and furrowed brow.  Oh, dear sweet Goddess of all things potty related, please let this be a sign that the girl will potty train more swiftly and easily than her brother did!
Sprout hs also learned a toddler's two most useful phrases:  "Mine!" and "I want that!".  Joy.
What would you rather have with baked ham, mac and cheese or scalloped potatoes?

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Did You Check In the Garage?*

I have been looking for something recently.  I checked in the kitchen because I often leave things there on the counter or on the table blocking the microwave door until Someone gets exasperated and asks why it's there, to which I sheepishly reply "Umm...I don't know?" before removing it to another surface where it will gather dust until I can't live without it and the hunt begins.

I have looked on the bathroom counter, collector of many things odd and un-bathroom-ish (like two Rolo candies, a pair of pliers, and a huge stack of National Geographic magazines)(although that latter of that lot may, in hindsight, actually be a bathroom ish thing after all), covered in dust and tiny splinters of beard and mustache hairs that defied gravity and flung themselves on tangential lines away from the sink only to languish on the counter until one of us can't stand it any more and finally gives the lot a wipe-down.

I searched the living room, but mostly what's to be found there is toy related, or dropped food that the cats spurned, or...what's that sticky stuff?  Never mind...what'd I do with the mop?  Sometimes there's laundry that WAS clean until Sprout decided it needed dragging up and down the hall and around the living room.  I usually leave the dust critters alone - they get a little testy when the weather turns and they want to hibernate until the open windows of spring coax them into the open once more.

I checked the dining room, but there's not really a lot going on in there right now - it's sort of a catch-all for everything we aren't doing today but may do later if we have the time, and didn't there used to be a table in there?

Bedroom?  Hmm...no.  No, there's nothing in there but dust, books, clothing, more dust, something I can't identify that has stained the floor and may or may not have been a green tomato one of the cats though made a dandy toy and dragged in from the kitchen only to let it rot until my foot found it and smooshed it in the middle of the night last spring and now it's turning into a new life form and who am I to disturb it?

This thing I'm looking for, I know I still have it...somewhere...

It's not in my pockets - those hold mostly lint, used tissues (we're having a sinus rich time at Casa de Crazy right now, with Sprout and I battling for the record use of tissues in a day)(I'm winning, but mostly because she doesn't care about tissue and simply wipes her nose on whatever's handy, usually my shirt)(yay), and occasionally a tiny hair elastic for when the girl child deigns to permit me the familiarity of pulling her hair up from her face (and out of the snot zone).

It's not in the sewing room.  I know this only because I haven't been down there in ages, not since the spring, really, except to deposit into (less often) or snag from (with greater frequency) the preps closet, and while it looks a fright down there it's not so bad that I don't mostly know what is where, and nothing new has been lurking in the corners or rolling around the piles of fabric and craft supplies, that I know of.

I used to carry it with me all the time, sharing it freely with anyone who wanted or needed any.  I had an endless supply and never minded giving it away, as there was always more to replace it.  Lately, though, I can't seem to find it anywhere.

I've tried to see if anyone else has any to spare, but it seems I'm not the only one coming up short these days.  There is a universal lack, and it concerns me.  The world, it seems, has a diminishing supply of something it needs, something vital for a thriving populace.

I am concerned that maybe...maybe...it is drying up, soon to be lost to us, or at best left in a few tiny dollops here and there, something to be stared and wondered at like the Australian Tiger, or mythical and scoffed at like the Sasquatch (Squatchy...had to say it...Squatchy...) or the purview of crackpots and fringe elements, like alien abductions.  Perhaps a little of it will wind up in museums, studied, a puzzlement to future generations who don't know what life is like with a rich supply of it.

I wonder, do you have any?  Because if you do, nurture it and feel free to plant its seeds here...compassion is such a beautiful thing...I sure do miss mine...

*When in doubt, check the garage - everything winds up in there eventually, except the actual vehicles it was meant to house...

Friday, November 23, 2012

Blech Friday

The day after Thanksgiving has always been a day to recover from dressing overdose, tidy up the dishes, and possibly haul holiday decorations out of storage, for me.  It's the day I will pull out the Trans Siberian Orchestra and The Bing Crosby CDs.  It may even be the day I bustle forth into the world and procure cookie ingredients, because this is also the day that heralds the opening of cookie season.

What it is NOT is a day to go thrust my way through crowds of angry, bitter, desperate, resentful shoppers drunk from advertising-circular ink and high on plastic fumes.  Sometimes being broker than a politician's promise has its advantages.  I will not be camping out or feeling my feet go numb just to save a few bucks on overblown products that the media tells me I must have or give in order for all to be right in the world.

I don't understand this craze.  Don't get me wrong, I like saving a buck where I can, but is it really a savings to buy something on sale that I don't want or need because it's such a great price?  Do you really want a gift from me that is tainted with all of the emotions that go with the experience of buying it on this day?

Here's a thought (and it's not even an original one, it's recycled):  how about saving yourself the trouble and supporting your local community?  Seek out your local gallery or artists.  Give Rumba lessons, karate lessons, gymnastics, boxing, cooking lessons.  Lawn care, house cleaning, or massage make nice gifts and help other people in your community support themselves.  I bet your local diners, cages, coffee shops, and bakeries would be delight to sell you gift cards!

If you're in the same boat as I am, cash is in short supply.  Seems like there's more demand than supply.  Why not make a gift?  Get the kids involved, especially if there's gluing - kids need glue, it holds them together, just ask a pediatrician.  Make coupons for time off, a meal cooked, driving services, cleaning services, a date, babysitting, pet sitting, anything the recipient might like that you can (and more importantly WILL) do for them when they need it most.  Buy used - Craig's List, yard sale, flea market, classifieds, even pawn shops.  People are trying to raise money right now, why not help out?

You don't have to add to the chaos and agita this year.  If you need the three-function espresso machine with milk whiffler and sonic cup deodorizer, then by all means dive into the crowds and procure one...but please, please don't get caught up in the feeding frenzy and trample some poor schmo who just needed a pair of shoelaces...

Hey, if you aren't joining in Blech Friday, what ARE you doing today?

Thursday, November 22, 2012


I have a few traditions on this day. Not many - the menu, recording the Macy's parade so I can watch it and fast-forward through all the crappy pop music, commercials, and talking heads to see the twenty minutes of balloons, floats and high school bands I'm interested in hidden among all that junk  (although I will have to forgo that pleasure, this year, alas), and my list of some things for which I am thankful, in no particular order and in no way complete:

The house in which I live
The Evil Genius
Gypsy, K, Kit, Sam-I-Am, PJ, Mizz Beth, and all of my friends who put up with me when I am most myself and therefor least likable. They are the net beneath me when I fly and fall.
The scent of leaf loam and woodsmoke in the crisp autumn air
Books, music, and art
Clean, plentiful water
Clean air
Clean clothes
Nature and the way she finds to show me something new of herself every day
Adversity, that joy is all the sweeter (Okay, okay, the joy is sweet enough, so basta with the adversity for a minute, please)
Every creature and plant that I consume to sustain myself, because without the life I take, there would be no life to live
Love - that it exists at all is a wonder, and I feel blessed to know it in many forms
Chocolate, gift from the Gods (yes, even the perversion called "candy bar") (Mmm...candy bar...)
Strong hands
Strong spirit
Strong will
Cussed determination not to curl up and die just because life can sometimes be a succession of truly awful, bleak, and desolate days...but sometimes it isn't.
The Internet

I hope you have a blessed day, and that you the things you're thankful for outweighing the things for which you're not.

Happy Thanksgiving, y'all, from us at Casa de Crazy to you out in the Blue Nowhere and beyond.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

On the Menu

Okay, enough wallowing.  I'm all covered in psychological ick and need to clean myself up a little.  Yech.  I spent Monday at K2's place, with a few hours at a new play place for the kids.  If you have a Catch Air where you live, go there with children.  Be prepared to get them out with a pry-bar, because that's the only way they're leaving.  There may or may not have been sushi for lunch (thank you, E and K2).  I shout nearly 300 photographs of K2's jewelry and art to post on Etsy.  It was a long, distracting, productive day.  Someone had the day to himself, and that went well, too - he salvaged some castaway items from a house cleanout and they'll be mighty useful to us.

Tuesday I was supposed to go to Quilt Guild with Mum, but something came up - an opportunity to somewhat help a friend while scoring furniture and other items to use or sell, as we choose.  It's a long story that I won't tell here, but we were helping clean out a house that had been abandoned by the residents and there was a ton of furniture left behind...antiques, modern, quite a few pieces that we can use.  Don't fret, we have their permission, as well as the house owner's, to take what we want...it's less for them to deal with, in the end.  So far I have a new sewing desk (it's terrific, sturdy, huge, marvelous, old, and heavy, and I can't wait to get it in the sewing room), a 1940's era record cabinet (I still play my records.  Anachronistic, much?), a trio of matching tables for the living room (they actually manage to blend our varied furniture styles and make it look like we did that on purpose), a few toys for the kids, and a handful of small, decorative items like outdoor candle holders and the like.  If things go according to plan today, while I am cooking, Someone will be going back to retrieve another truck load, and then on Friday we will try to finish gleaning and cleaning so the owner can get on with turning the house over to whoever gets it next.

Speaking of cooking...I almost forgot to do my annual posting of the menu!  How would the world have gone on??

In no particular order, here's what I am throwing together for Turkey Day at Casa de Crazy:

Turkey (because obviously)

Dressing (I baked the herbs into the bread again this year, made the house smell glorious)


Mashed Potatoes (really real ones, too, not from a box)(hey, I LIKE box potatoes)

Green Bean Casserole (a first for me, but Someone asked for it and I'm game to try ruining cooking something new)

Mashed Turnips and Carrots (because the world will end if we don't have these)

Sauteed Mushrooms

Can-o-Cranberry (in their natural state, cranberries jelly and form a log...it's a fact, the Internet told me so)

Dutch Apple Crumb Pie

Keylime Pie

Cheesecake (store bought because I just don't have the time to make one from scratch...that'll have to wait for Someone's birthday)

What're you having?

Friday, November 16, 2012

Down But Not Out?

In the next few days we will once again experience a hitch in our gitalong here at Casa de Crazy; despite my best (well, maybe a little lackadaisical) efforts, I have not been able to keep up with the phone bills, so AT&T will be declining to continue our service until I make good with the dough...which means no Blue Nowhere for a bit unless I manage to pull a sizable chunk of dosh out of my bum, which is unlikely.  Even a fifty-acre ass has its limitations.

I do not enjoy this half-assed existence I'm living, despite how it may seem.  My self-esteem is non-existent.  My desire to continue breathing is nil.  I'm so damned tired all the time my head is swimming and aches, my vision is blurry, and my entire body feels (on a daily basis) as though it was used for batting practice.

Worst of all, there is no end in sight, and the idea that all I can do lately is drag people down into the muck with me is a weight I don't have the energy or desire to carry any more.

I wish I could just. Give. Up.

I am dragging my ass through the days wondering when I became this person I am ashamed to be, struggling to do something, anything, and feeling the failure wash me away.

I used to think I had something to offer, that my writing or music or photos or anything I did was worth a damn, but lately it just seems to be more pointless crap I have wasted time and resources on.

It's not nice to fell worthless all the time.

Oh, well...life rolls on...right over me...

Monday, November 5, 2012


So tomorrow is election day.

For the first time since I was old enough to vote, I feel a deep sense of apathy about it.

I feel like I'm being offered two huge piles of poop and a few small piles of poop and maybe one poor wilted daisy and told "Here, choose, aren't' they wonderful???"


For the first time ever, I didn't know, really know, who I would vote for until a week before the election.  I even contemplated staying home.  I can't, though.  Since I registered, I have missed one election and that was due to the voter registrar screwing up and failing to transfer me to my new polling place after I moved (and did all the requisite paper-work/registering, too!).  Intentionally skip one?  I don't think I can.

Also for the first time, I am going to reveal who I'm voting for, and why.  Usually I keep that to myself - politics can be deeply personal.  We all have our reasons for voting as we do...

Fair warning - I welcome the free and open sharing of opinion here, but if you get ugly, snarky, mean, and nasty, I will delete your comments.  I support freedom of speech in general, and dissenting opinion as a matter of necessity for healthy debate and growth, but I do not believe in anyone's right to get ugly up in my space, and this here is my tiny, wee corner of the Blue Nowhere, and what I say goes.

I am not voting for the Ass.  Nor am I voting for the Pachyderm.  I am, in essence, voting for the poor, tired, unloved, often mocked or ignored entirely, Libertarian Fellow.


Because the two main candidates both suck beyond my ability to measure.  They are both liars, manipulators, prevaricators, thieves, black blotches on the collective soul of humanity, Satan's balls (one left, one right, both hanging there by the Dark One's asshole and thinking they're just grand).  They are both oath-breakers.  They both want to appear the hero while making the other man out to be the goat.  Boiled down to its essence, each one's "platform" says one thing to me - I'm going to lose my rights faster and faster, like a social-enslavement snowball plummeting down Mt. Everest and collecting hapless citizen-climbers in its wake, landing us at the bottom of the mountain a broken, crumpled mass wondering what the hell just happened.

I am voting for the man who cannot win, because I would rather "waste" my vote than give it to either of the putrid piles of fecal matter that I'm supposed to pretend don't stink.  On Wednesday, I won't make much, if any, effort, to find out who won...a pile of poop is a pile of poop no matter what you call it, and in the end it really doesn't matter who you voted for either...right, left, red, blue, we're all going to be in a pile of shit for the next four years.

Vote anyway, because if nothing else, I won't tell you to shut up if you didn't.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A reprint...because I spent the morning ferrying Sprout to various doctors.  More about that another day.
While little (and not so little) people are out extorting candy from strangers (on the one night a year Mum and Dad aren't telling them NOT to take candy from strangers, and isn't that a mixed message?)(and if you don't think that's extortion, think about about it "Give me a trat or I'll play a prank on you" is exactly that - extortion), more than a few pagans are spending the evening in an entirely different fashion.

Samhain (pronounced "sawin") is sometimes called the Witches' New Year. It's thought to be the time of year when the veil between the worlds is thinnest, and so best suited for speaking with our dead, with those who passed on in the previous year.

On Samhain, our living God dies, and until he is born again on Yule the Goddess and all the world mourns him. Poor Goddess, carrying her child alone for the next two months - throughout eternity she must suffer this loss before she can know her joy once more. Don't worry if you don't get it - it's a cyclic thing, a nature thing, and a deeply, weirdly Pagan thing.
Some will have large meetings, solemnly chant and circle the fire, call upon the gods of old. Some will dance wildly around bonfires, drumming, singing, shrieking, leaping the flames, looking for all the world like the imps and devils we were once purported to be. Some will just hand out candy and let the night pass, and some will put out the lights, draw the blinds, and pretend not to be home. A few (Pagan and non) will look for and find trouble. Many will feast, drink, and hold the dumb supper - the meal placed out for the those who've gone through the veil - whether alone or in numbers. These days, none who are truly Pagan will sacrifice anything more than a glass of wine and/or a plate of food to the fire, the earth, the old gods.
This year it's us Casa de Crazians and our friend Mizz Monster.  We're each carving a pumpkin - normally they'd be carved by now, but I am running way behind.

Of course we'll roast the pumpkin seeds because I adore them.

At dusk, we'll light the jack-o-lanterns and take the kids out for their bit of begging. If the night is fine, we may fire up the outdoor fireplace and sit out on the drive reminiscing about the past, about family and friends long gone but not forgotten. I may or may not mull some cider and have some cups to ladle out portions for the adults trailing the kids who will start coming around soon. Heh - come and drink my Witch's Brew - you won't fly or turn into a newt, but it'll take the chill off. I may or may not have a bit of whisky or rum to add medicinal value to the drink.

I will make a special dinner for Samhain night. I don't have anything traditional - this year it's chicke and veggie pasta. I try to make something that my ancestors or anyone I've lost in the previous year would like to eat. The first portion of each item is carefully plated and placed at the head of the table or on the altar. A bit of whatever's to drink will be placed with the laden plate).

Later tonight, after we've eaten, handed out candy, taken the kids out for some socially sanctioned begging, we'll take food and drink down to the woods and leave the contents for our ancestors. We may or may not name them. We may or may not sing a song for them. We will honor them, wish them well, and remember. We will ask their blessing in the coming year. It will be short, but heartfelt - we don't need a lot of ritual, these days, just a few quiet minutes with our Gods.

It's an odd hodgepodge of a night - some modern traditions that were founded in the old, and some straight from the days (and nights) when our people could be openly themselves, could worship the gods of field and wood, river and rock, without fear of censure or death.
Blessed be those who have gone before; blessed be those who live now; blessed be those who will follow after. The wheel turns once more, and blessed are we who turn with it. Blessed be.
This year, I celebrate: three years year ago, Someone made his first visit to Casa de Crazy, began the process of coming Home.

This year I honor: Crunch Malone, Dixon, Gordie, Harry Morgan, Ben in Texas, Andy Griffith, Anna Hill, Jude, Neil Armstrong, and Cap'n Bob.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

A Letter

Dear Golden Pantry,

I thought you'd like to know about the lady working the early hours at your store on the corner of 53 and Tanner's Mill Road here in Redneck Central.

I had occasion to stumble in for coffee this morning.  She was alone in the shop, probably because finding ONE person to work at that hour is miraculous, let alone TWO.  As soon as I made my squinch-eyed way into the shop, she greeted me.  When she noticed I was shambling towards the coffee, she asked what kind I wanted.  When I plaintively requested, half joking, "extra caffeinated", she told me which pot had the most kick.

The cash register in that store talks.  Do you know how annoying that is?  Compounding matters, it doesn't speak clearly, so what SHOULD sound like "Swipe your pass" ACTUALLY sound like "Wipe your..." umm...portion of anatomy that rhymes with "pass".  I beg your pardon?  Impertinent!

Said machine also says "Uh-oh!" in a high-pitched voice with distressing frequency.  The nice lady is developing a twitch over this.  I suggested making a drinking game of it - every time the machine says "Uh-oh!", she does a shot.  I apologize for that...but I DO think she's going to be MUCH happier now.

At any rate, the nice lady behind the counter made me laugh this morning, and given my rough night, scant sleep, and general level of grump, that was a difficult and much valued feat.  She deserves a reward, just sayin'.

The Early Morning Zombie

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Done is Done

Just a quick thought to share here in the void that was once my blog:  when there is no more clean air, when there is no more clean water, when there is no more clean food or any food at all, when the earth is gasping, dehydrated, and starving...it won't matter how wealthy, powerful, privileged, or famous you are - done is done, gone is gone.  Perhaps it would behoove us all to remember that as we mindlessly consume.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Physics of Being


According to Physics, I am not here.

I am simply more likely to be here than not here.

You are not here.

You are simply more likely to be here than not here.

No one, nothing, is here.

Only more likely to be than not to be.

Hey, Shakespeare was on to something!

I think I'll go be more likely to be somewhere else for a bit.

If you are here (or there), or simply more likely to be here (or there), I hope wherever you are more likely to be than not to be is pleasant.

If you could manipulate the likelihood of being and placeness, who/where/what would you alter?

Monday, September 24, 2012

Chilly Morn

We woke to a chill, this morning.  Relatively speaking.  If we were transitioning from winter to spring, we'd think it warm, but as we're coming out of hundred-degree weather, sixty-six is excuse enough for cheater biscuits and sausage gravy for breakfast, and oatmeal for good measure.

Some of my favorite days are when Autumn flexes her muscles and gives us a taste of what's to come.  It'll warm up again for a week or two, then cool, back and forth until the temperatures drop in earnest and frost glitters on the grass.

Meanwhile, we can enjoy open windows and give the AC some respite.  Soon, I will drag out the snugly covers.  If I must choose one season above the others, it is Autumn.

What's the day like where you are?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


As I exhale, others inhale. As I inhale, I breathe in the exhalations of others. The light that shines on me, shines on you, too. The rain that falls on me falls on you, too. We are all connected; none of us is alone.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Us Lava, Already

Y'all, I am near my breaking point.

Tell me a joke, or something funny, wouldja? See if you can put a smile on my face, because I'm tired of crying.

Monday, September 3, 2012


What do you call thirteen witches in a hot tub?

A self cleaning coven!
I don't think I can call Sprout a baby any more - she's full tilt toddler, now. Holy carp!
The Evil Genius grew two feet this summer. That may not even be an exaggeration. He needs new clothes. Fun!
I don't know who to vote for this fall. I have even had the thought scamper across my mind that I won't vote at all, that it isn't worth it. No worries - worth it or not, I'm voting. I will not let apathy steal away the one tiny voice I have in regards to running the rotting hulk that was once our ship of state.
I had my first Mormon Missionary encounter a few days ago. Boy, those Jehovah's Witnesses could take some politeness lessons from the Mormons. Nice boys, the Mormons...painfully young and I can't get past the sublimation of women or the magic underwear, but still...nice.
We have an acorn squash plant threatening the house. Inch by inch it is creeping from the compost pile (where it mysteriously sprouted up)(mysteriously because we haven't HAD acorn squash in two years) to the front landing. If it makes it to the door, I suspect it plans to come in and make itself at home, perhaps use the Internet and avail itself of plentiful clean water. Meanwhile, we're getting some lovely squash from it, so as long as it is willing to pay rent, I guess it can have a room. It still has to do a chore, though.
Sprout has a cough. She picked it up somewhere and won't let it go. I keep trying to convince her that coughs don't make good pets, but she isn't having any of it. I think she plans to keep it until it hatches. Sigh.
I didn't water my Christmas Cactus for three weeks. It'll live, but it isn't speaking to me right now. Good thing the other living things in the house have the means to tell me they need feeding, huh?
Sprout has learned how to blow kisses. Good grief.
There's not a zone on my body that doesn't have a twinge, aches, creak, pop, or pain. Is there a chiropractor in the house? One that will work for banana bread and acorn squash?
How're you doing?

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Ham It Up

Last Saturday our neighbors gave us a ham. A random ham. Weird, no?

Not really. He works at the local food bank, and when they have food that is close to or just past the expiration date, they send it home with employees.

We've received pizzas larger than manhole covers, pork chops that weighed more than Sprout, and once a rib-eye that fed several of us for a month. Okay, maybe not a month...but it was huge and more than enough for three meals (I et it when Someone was away, and it lasted through dinner, breakfast, and lunch, with scraps for the outdoor cats). I am happy to receive it - with a freezer, expiration dates hold less meaning for me, and I believe expiration dates are not the definitive factor for determining food freshness anyway.

This time, a boneless ham.

I turned into into dinner on Sunday - baked ham, mashed potatoes with home grown dill, and steamed, home grown green beans.

There was a lot left over, so ham and eggs were on the breakfast menu, ham sandwiches for lunch, and...umm...am I starting to smell like pork? I think I just felt myself break out in glaze...

What do y'all do with leftover ham? And how do you feel about expiration dates?

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Want, Need

When I was in the fifth grade, I had a teacher who thought our class could use learning the difference between "wants" and "needs".

Needs, he said, were what we couldn't live without.

Wants, he said, were what we could live without but would like to have.

In life, he said, needs come before wants.

He defined needs as food, clothing, and shelter. These are things without which we cannot get along. I would argue today that food and water are necessary to life. Shelter, while mighty fine, can be got along without in many places if needs must. Even clothing is extraneous - just ask a nudist!

I often think the human world could use learning the difference between what it wants and what it needs.

The denizens of Casa de Crazy have been watching documentaries on Netflix, of late. With satellite gone and the DVD player on permanent fritz, Netflix is our entertainment buddy. Thanks to T, who lets us use his account!

We seem to have a few basic topics that interest us right now: food (growing, harvesting, processing, nutrition), water (bottling, cleanliness, scarcity), marijuana (the disparity between public will, state law, and federal law, growing, medicinal uses, prohibition in general), and corporate culture (companies that are aware of and work to minimize their social and environmental impact, companies that seek to show a clean, compassionate public face while in truth they have little concern for anything but the lining of their pockets, and companies that don't even try to hide their ugliness).

Oddly, many of the subjects overlap.

Common to many of the shows we've seen is privation. If you live in North America, chances are you have, or can fairly easily find, food and potable water. Chances are also good that you have or can find shelter and clothing. In the US, a couple of dumpster dives can garner perfectly good food for a month. A few more in the right place can garner meat for a year. I am seriously considering my local markets and their dumpsters. In the US we throw away 3,000 pounds of food a second. Throw away. We don't even compost it or feed it to pigs; it all goes into landfills.

In other places, though, people feel lucky to eat a few times a week. Potable water is a pipe dream, let alone clean, clear, easily accessible water from a convenient tap. Often, governments and corporations make it difficult or impossible for the poorest, most desperate of people to meet their own needs, instead fostering dependence on aid from others; usually the very governments and corporations that seek to (and often do) control natural resources and the generation of wealth.

Now don't get me wrong, I actually aspire to wealth...but not at the expense of others or the environment.

So many people in this world can't even meet their own needs. We do without a lot of wants (while I may joke that I need the Internet to live, life goes on without it) but we have plenty of clean, fresh water on demand, and while we may get tired of leftovers and cheap foods, we don't go hungry at Casa de Crazy. No one has yet mandated that we choose between drinking toxic ground water or paying with our lives for dubious tap water, or decreed that we can't grow our own food, or passed laws that said we cannot collect rain water for our gardens (sorry Arizona, Oregon, and...umm...I can't recall who else had rainwater collection bans).

I want many things - to be able to buy nappies for Sprout, to go to a movie sometimes, to pay the phone bill, to be free (if only for a little while) of my first-world worries about paying car insurance or the Internet bill without having to borrow (borrow, borrow, borrow, but never able to pay back) from Mum to do it. Folks, I pure loathe being an Albatross.

Need though? I think we've got that covered in spades.

How about you?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


I don't look in the mirror often. I must cop to an aversion to mirrors. I've gone years without knowing if, indeed, I even had a reflection.

It's not as difficult as you might think to go without looking at yourself - I don't use cosmetics and what I do with my hair can hardly be considered "styling". I don't need to see what I'm doing.

From time to time I take a look, just to see what's going on above my ever-lower boobs.

Funny thing...I can't see my eye color. Really. I can look and look, but I can't ever tell what color they are. I have to ask someone else.

Come to think of it, when I bother looking I don't see me. I see my grandfather. I see his eyes staring out into the nowhere, looking at what isn't there, thinking his lonely thoughts, dwelling. I see my grandmother, my Mother's mother, tired smile and high cheeks like the one picture I've seen of her. I see my mother, the set of her mouth, the way the lines form around my eyes when I smile, the stubborn set of her chin. I see a little of my father, mostly in the shape of my body, my shoulders and wrists. I see generations of family, a line back to the beginning, my ancestry looking back at me through eyes that see do much more than what's there.

It's only when I look at my children that I see myself. I see myself in them, characteristics that they can only have gotten from me. I see, in them, bits and pieces of the people I carry with me.

Sometimes people look at Bird or Sprout and tell me they look just like me. Lots of folks voice the opinion that my kids are beautiful. I am biased - of course they are beautiful - they are my mother, my grandmothers, my grandfathers, and on days when I am not too tired or worn in spirit, I'll even own they're a little bit me.

The only mirror I need reflects so much more than my visage...

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Yes, It Matters.

A witch is a witch is a witch. Male, female, witch.

I mention this because lately I have run into the word "warlock" with irritating frequency, and in every case it has been misused.

Here follows a brief vocabulary lesson:

Warlock is a verb, not a noun. One may be warlocked. One may warlock another. One is NOT a warlock.

To be warlocked is to be banned from a coven, a community of witches, as an oath breaker. During what we call The Burning Times (aren't we festive??), it was dangerous to be known at a witch, so people took craft names and swore themselves to secrecy, to protect the coven and its collective knowledge. If a person were to make public those secrets, or to act in a way contrary to the coven's law, or endanger the coven and its members, or use their knowledge to the detriment of the community, they could and likely would be warlocked - banished from the coven and the craft, stripped of title and privilege, denied access to resources, and occasionally even ritualistically "bound", cut off from any source of mystical power or deity. Occasionally this meant being marked in some visible way to warn other covens, and banishment from the village as well. It was serious business, not undertaken lightly. Once warlocked, always warlocked, and that could mean a bleak existence, indeed.

If a person today refers to them self as a warlock, I presume they are either ignorant or not to be trusted. As the former is more likely than the latter - I have only heard of one war locking in recent history in MY community - I often undertake to educate the person in question, but it's a losing battle...it seems some folks would rather cling to their Hollywood ideas of witchery than embrace accuracy.

So why do I care? If society accepts the definition of "warlock" as "male witch", why not let it go? For the same reason I would not let it go if society decided that "frog" means "nightingale". It doesn't. No amount of misuse will change it.

A witch is a witch is a witch. Spread the word, would you?

Friday, July 20, 2012


We were in Ohio last week, the kids and I - Someone would have come, but we thought he had other plans. They fell through at the last minute, too late for us to bring him along.

We had a nice time with our friends, and even manged to get down to the drum circle...albeit in the morning when it was largely empty. Sprout didn't mind, though:

I'm hoping to go back again this year, but don't see it happening, realistically. Sigh. Since when are we so anchored in reality? Bah!

Thursday, July 5, 2012


Casa de Crazy, before breakfast. Subject has been awake for thirty minutes.

*What do you do all day?*

Nothing. Well, I guess you can't...hold on...the washer stopped, I need to start another load...

5 minutes passes.

So, where were we?

*Discussing what you do...*

Yeah! So it's not really true that...oh, nuts, wait a sec...

Fifteen minutes pass as the subject collects garbage bags from around the house, goes outside and rolls the rubbish bin to the street.

Okay, sorry, what was I saying?


Oh, right. I guess you can't say I do no...hold on again, the baby's hungry.

Fifteen minutes pass as the subject prepares and serves fruit, cheese, and crackers to the toddler.

Sorry about that...I think she's in a growth spurt. As I was say...um...hang on again...

Another twenty minutes pass as the subject scoops food off of the floor, changes the toddler's nappy, washes her face, and engages her in some play before washing the high chair tray.

Okay, so as I was saying, you can't really call it nothing, because...uh, hang on, the washer stopped again.

Ten minutes pass as the subject removes laundry from the dryer, puts another load in and starts the washer again.

Whew, sorry - seems like the laundry is endless around here. I don't know how so much clothing and so many towels can get dirty in a day! So...wait...uh...dang, sorry...

Twenty more minute pass as the subject changes the toddler again, empties the dishwasher, and hand washes the dishes in the sink.

*Why hand wash?*

I'm out of detergent, haven't had the time or the budget to go get more. Sometimes I think they get cleaner this way, anyway!

*Back to the original question, you were telling me about "nothing"...*

Of course! So...sorry...

Another fifteen minutes pass as the subject makes toast for the nine-year-old boy who has just risen, then carries his bedding downstairs to wash. Forty-five minutes more elapse as she sets him to a history lesson - she home schools him.

Anyway...whew...do you mind if I get a drink of water? I forgot to, this morning. That's what comes of doing nothing all day, you know...

The subject goes to the kitchen to get some water, but is stopped by the boy who asks if he has any clean cups despite the fact that he is standing in front of the cupboard and the dishwasher, both easily within his reach. Subject hands him a cup, puts away a few dry dishes, washes up after the boy's toast breakfast, makes some more toast for the ever-hungry toddler, and returns to the couch without having gotten any water. Thirty minutes have elapsed.

Right, so it's not really fair to say I don't do anything all day, I mean sometimes I...excuse me again...

The dryer has stopped, and the subject goes downstairs and once again shifts loads around, this time bring a basket of clean laundry up with her. She sits and begins folding. Ten minutes elapsed.

Sometimes I do get...baby girl, stop helping Mama fold...something...baby girl, please don't, that's not really helpful...every once in a while, anyway...baby girl, c'mon now, if you grab everything I fold and wave it around like you've captured the flag, it isn't actually "helping" Mama get this done! Grr...excuse me, please...

The subject removes herself and the clean laundry to another room where she folds it and puts it away, all while the toddler stands in the blocked doorway and whines for attention. Twenty minutes go by.

Can I offer you something to eat? Drink?

No, thank you, I'm fine. Could we return to the question of "nothing"?

Sure, sure. I think I was saying that "nothing" would be an unfair...oh, hang on...

The subject prepares a snack for the toddler, who is becoming cranky. When the child finishes her food, the subject rocks the toddler in her arms until the child is asleep. This takes half an hour.

Whew, sometimes she put up a fight and it takes forever to get her to sleep. Boy, talk about grumpy! So as I was saying...oh, pardon me...

The nine year old wants to know where his shoes are. The subject helps him find them, still cradling the toddler in her arms. She then looks around for her cup of water, only to realize she never got one. She juggles the sleeping toddler and a cup, realizes she can't reach the faucet, puts the cup on the counter and sits back down. Thirty minutes elapsed.

*Are you feeling alright? You look a little peaked...*

Oh, sure, fine. I'm pretty sure I had something to eat this morning...or was that yesterday? Anyway, I got five hours of sleep last night, so I'm good to go. Are you sure I can't get you anything?

*No, thank you. Can I get you some water, since your hands are full?*

Oh, no thanks, I'll get some when she wakes up. So, about "nothing", I...oh, hang on...

The toddler has awakened and wants a drink, and something to eat, and to be held while she enjoys her snack. The subject changes the toddler once more, places her amidst a pile of toys to play, and steps into the kitchen to finally get her water. She takes a sip, swears softly under her breath, and fetches a broom - the floor is crunchy. Forty minutes elapse as she sweeps, chases the toddler away from her sweep pile, moves toys, sweeps more, and eventually manages to use the dustpan to get the worst of the mess into the trash. She sits down with a sigh.

I guess it depends on how you define "nothing", really. I mean, an anyone truly say...

The toddler thrusts an empty cup at the subject, demanding another drink. The nine year old wants to know where a particular toy is. The subject refills the toddler's cup and tries to help the boy find his toy in his bedroom, which seems to have a carpet of nothing but toys, stuffed animals, and clothing. She admonishes him to get his clothing into the hamper and if he kept his room tided up he wouldn't have trouble finding his toys, and didn't he have that particular toy in the garage yesterday, anyway? He runs to the garage without cleaning anything up, and she returns to her seat where the toddler clambers onto her and demands attention. Thirty minutes have elapsed.

I'm sorry, but will you excuse me? I need to...umm...

The subject retires to the restroom for a few minutes. The toddler whines at the blocked door.

Whew, that's better! I never went when I got up...oh, wait, sorry, TMI! Anyway, I do sometimes manage...excuse me...

Things continue in this fashion into the evening. For the sake of brevity, we will now skip to the end of the interview. The telephone has rung and been answered a number of times. Several puddles of cat vomit have been cleaned up. Nappies have been changed. Snacks have been prepared, eaten, and cleaned up. Lost items have been searched for, some have been found. Laundry and dishes have continued to be done throughout the day. The toddler is sleeping fitfully, occasionally waking and crying until the subject rocks her back to sleep. Dinner has been cooked, and haphazardly eaten. Toys are scattered throughout the house, despite the subject having continually picked them up throughout the day. The floor is once more crunchy, despite several sweepings. The nine year old is in his room, playing before bed. The subject is sitting on the couch, eyes drooping. She yawns.

Wow...so what were we talking about?

*You were explaining what you do all day.*

Right, right! So I don't think you can say I don't do anything. I mean...even just sitting here all day, my heart beats and my body processes things, so I don't think "nothing" is a fair assessment. And anyway, sometimes I go get the mail - that counts as something, right? Nah, okay, I guess maybe I really do nothing all day - I'm lucky that way.

End interview.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Independence Day

Yep, this is a repost, but why re-write what already suits??
In writing the Declaration of Independence, in ratifying it, in signing their names to it, the men named at the bottom risked the very things they hoped to secure for themselves and for future generations. They were performing an act of treason, and by putting their names to it they made of themselves targets for the man, for the nation, they accused. They fought for the principles they named, fought for their families, for their lives, and for the burgeoning life of the tender new nation they hoped to nurture into a great place, a free place, a place where anyone could hope to not just survive, but thrive - a place where anyone willing to put their all into it, to do their very best, could find success, no matter what their gods, their nation of origin.

Since that time, people have tried to follow their lead, standing up and making their voices heard to help secure their rights, the rights of future generations. They have added color and sex to the list of things that cannot determine success, cannot be used as an excuse to deny equal opportunity.

You do the same when you vote. You do it when you attend council meetings, board meetings, town hall meetings, and speak your piece; when you ask the hard questions, protest with signs, songs, shouts; when you show people who think they own this nation to the exclusion of others, people who think they have the right to amend your rights to suit them, that you are watching them, that you SEE them, that you know better.

You do it when you tell our armed forces "Thank you for your service" whether you agree with whatever conflicts we're embroiled in or not - because they are standing up for our liberty doing a hard, dirty, often thankless job - and they are there, ultimately, to preserve our nation and its principles (As an aside - thank you, men and women of the armed forces. Thank you, and blessed be, and come home safe to the families who love you, miss you, and hope only for your swift return.).

You do it when you teach the children in your life what it means to be free - freedom to fly means freedom to fall, and freedom to rise up again; freedom to succeed means freedom to fail, and to try once more; freedom to speak means freedom for dissenting opinions to be heard; freedom is not comfortable - at times, it is downright terrifying...but it is necessary to the human spirit.

Given a choice to be cold, hungry, ragged, poor, weary, worn and free, or to be clothed, fed, housed, succored, safe and bound - I will be free. Do not make the mistake of giving up your freedom for the illusion of safety - you will one day wake to find you have nothing left but the yoke you bound yourself to.

I could go on, but to what purpose? You understand or you don't - and my little rant won't sway anyone, I fear.

Here, then, is a transcript of our most essential document, the one that began it all, the one that first gave shape to our name, to our identity as a nation. Read, if nothing else, the first two paragraphs. They are as stirring, heartfelt, and powerful now as when they were first written.

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

The 56 signatures on the Declaration appear in the positions indicated:
Column 1 - Georgia: Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton

Column 2 - North Carolina: William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn South Carolina: Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton

Column 3 - Massachusetts: John Hancock Maryland: Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton Virginia: George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton

Column 4 - Pennsylvania: Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross Delaware: Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean

Column 5 - New York: William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris New Jersey: Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark

Column 6 - New Hampshire: Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple Massachusetts: Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry Rhode Island: Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery Connecticut: Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott New Hampshire: Matthew Thornton
If you've made it this far, thank you. To support out troops, go visit Any Soldier or Troop BeBop (I know this woman - she's a force of nature!). I wish you a safe, joyous, and happy Independence Day.