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.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Sriracha Crab Salad

A year or so ago, I was over at K2's house around lunch time and she offered me a bite to eat.  She's made a crab salad the day before, and as soon as I had a bite I knew that I should relieve her of it entirely...although her husband, E, allowed as how maybe I should put the fork down and step away from his intended lunch.

The salad had Sriracha in it, and that was my first experience of the hot sauce that has suddenly become ubiquitous.

I still have 9/10 of my original bottle - a  little goes a very long way!

Here's my own version of Sriracha Crab Salad, because you know I had to come home and play around with it a little...

The players (fair warning, this is a "some" recipe...nothing measured, just some of this, some of that):
Surimi, about half a pound
Crab legs - I prefer snow crab - about half a pound in shell
Onion - I like how purple onion adds color, plus I had some that wanted using
Cucumber, about half of one
Broccoli slaw.  I use pre-made because I am lazy.


I started with an empty bowl.  Like a blank canvas, it waits to become something more.  Let's not disappoint!

First I sliced the surimi on a sort of diagonal and dumped it unceremoniously in the bowl.

Next I cleaned the crab.  I like to clean my own, but the market has lots of pre-shelled choices.  One reason I like to shell my own?  I buy crab legs when they are on sale and freeze them for later use, and I am never certain whether I am going to steam them and eat them hot or use them in a salad or pasta.

So, cleaned and hopefully without any shell-y bits, in goes the crab.

Next, I chopped the onion fine.  I used two thin-to-medium-thick slices.  I like onion.

Now for the cucumber.  I slice it into quarters, slice off the seedy bit, and then cut it into the thinnest slices I have the patience for.  It works well if you confetti cut it, too, but I kind of like the texture and presentation of the thin strips.

Possibly the easiest of the ingredients to prepare is the broccoli slaw.  I had to open a bag.  I tossed in a large handful and then another smaller sprinkle.  If you don't like raw broccoli, I understand.  I don't, either.  Broccoli slaw, however, gives this a nice crunch and has none of the bitterness or pungency of raw broccoli florets, and so far I haven't gotten it stuck between my teeth (yes, that is important!).  It adds a little healthiness as well, and I need all the healthy I can get!

Finally, a generous dollop or three of mayonnaise and a swirl or two of Sriracha.  In the beginning, less is more.  Mix it all up really well and take a taste.  Adjust the mayo and Sriracha if you need to, a little at a time, until your mouth is happy. 

I plated it with Honeycrisp apple slices and Kalamata olives.

If you try this, please let me know if you made any changes and how you like it!

Sunday, December 28, 2014


Sprout adores doing puzzles.  Her brother received a couple of puzzles for Christmas and she wants to open them and put them together in the worst way!  I won't let her, which frustrates her, so in the spirit if keeping peace in the Casa, I took her to The Evil Empire yesterday to re-stock our Play-Doh population and possibly score a puzzle or two that are just beyond her age recommendation.

As an aside, have you ever been to The Evil Empire just after Christmas?  The employees looked shell-shocked and the toy department looked like it had been hit hard by a swarm of toy-eating locusts intent on consuming or destroying everything in their path.  They were out of Play-Doh.  Seriously.  I didn't think that was possible.

Luckily, we found a rack of puzzle packs - four per pack that were variations on a theme.  Me being me, I chose the set that was more educational than Disney Princess - numbers, colors, shapes, and the alphabet - because I just don't care to support the Princess archetype with my dollars and anything that helps with the home schooling is alright by me!

Another aside...we wandered a bit and in the crafts department found an alternate brand of our doughy plaything, ten colors for four bucks, not bad!  Yes, I intend to make our own dough one of these days, but there is something to be said for instant gratification and no kitchen clean up.

Of course, as soon as we came home we had to do the puzzles.  All four of them.  Sprout wanted me to sit on the floor with her and carefully put each piece in its place, and I obliged.  I explained about edges and corners and looking for which colors and shapes matched up, and she had fun handing me pieces and occasionally putting one in place.

This morning, as we snuggled and giggled in my big bed under the comfy blanket, she announced that she wanted to do puzzles.  Fine by me.  This time, she didn't want me to help.  Okie-dokie.  She dumped each one onto the floor and piece by piece began assembling them.  She held up a corner.  "This one has two edges so it's a corner.  Where does it go?" She looked at each corner and checked her piece for color and for which wavy edges matched where, and placed the piece where it belonged.  It took a minute and the occasional growl of frustration for her to sort out all 24 pieces, but she did it without my help.  I sat beside her on the floor, watching her as she concentrated very hard on the serious business of putting a puzzle together again and wondered at how quickly - overnight - she had caught on to puzzle solving.  It was...and is... a terrific and graphic example of how they process and apply information at blinding speeds.

Every day, something new.  Wonder what I'll teach her tomorrow...

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Scarred for Life, I Tell Ya!

We don't really celebrate Christmas at casa de Crazy - we're more of a Yule/Solstice lot.  That said, we aren't above inviting friends and family to spend the day here, especially if they may not have anywhere else to go.  This year, T brought the Evil Genius over (T's mother passed through the veil a few days ago and he thought maybe they'd have a nicer time NOT in an empty house full of her ghosts, and I thought that was a fine idea), and our friend Mizz M came with her dog, Milo.

Milo is a Pitbull.

He has a history.

That history involves dog fighting.

Because, Pitbull.

Milo was a bait dog, and when he was first rescued he had...issues.  Mizz M has worked lovingly, diligently, to help Milo recover from his rather horrid past, to shed fear, distrust, and a host of other issues.

Milo has worked lovingly, diligently, to help Mizz M with some issues of her own.

Milo has never been to Casa de Crazy.  We have cats.  Pitbull.  Cats.

Ah, but Milo has cats...and not for breakfast!  He has kitty-people who live with him and his human, and other canines, too.  Our cats didn't give a fig what sort of felines associate with Milo...most of them opted to step up their anti-social game and stay burrowed under the covers of my bed all day, but Maya, the sociablest (is TOO a word, spell check, even if I only just now made it up!) of the lot, the hostess kitty, came out and made friends.  She even permitted a few Milo-kisses.

The kids were both delighted by our four-legged guest - they've met his human and approve of her, but the pup stole the show.

The Pitbull.

So dangerous...because he could easily snuggle you to death!  So vicious, all those licks and kisses!  Such a menace...with that frantically wagging tail!

I let him sit on my lap.  He followed me around trying to convince me that I needed to feed him some of whatever I was having.  His human gave him little tastes of this and that.  I might not have given him the deviled eggs, but since SHE'S the one who has to live with the resultant...er...results...I don't mind that he snarfed up one or two that she "dropped".  I even unbent from my rule...well, more like a guideline...of not feeding dogs and when he sat on command I gave him some colby-jack.

Milo is proof that no matter how ugly a being's past may be, they can be loving, trusting, forces for good.  He is proof that judging a breed by the stereotypes of a few who have bee MADE what they are by others is a mistake, and unfair.  He is also more typical than not of the Pitbulls I've known in my life - sweet, happy, loving, gentle, trusting, adoring of children and other critters, and willing to forgive the worst that's been thrown at him because it's in his nature to do so.

I know some humans who could take a lesson...

Some photos:

 Oh, noes, the Pibble has my Sprout !

 Oh, the humanity - won't anybody help save my beautiful daughter from this marauding canine???

 Seriously, she's going to lose her...umm...heart?

See how traumatized she is?

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

A New Declaration (Please Forgive Me, Thomas Jefferson, et al)

Given what has been happening all around the country, and the general disillusionment of the many people inhabiting every side of the political fences, and given the great social unrest that is swelling from grassroots dissatisfaction to a tsunami of anger, I took the liberty of making free with one of my most cherished historical documents.

Underlined bits are the changes I would make to make the document more current.  I do hope the founding fathers will forgive my brazen theft and re-working of their creation.

Feel free to tell me what you would add or change, were you writing a document meant to radically alter the course of a nation...because I'm one woman and not necessarily the best or brightest, nor the most politically astute, but I do think my heart's in the right place.

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 beings 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 Government of the United States 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.
It has refused its Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
It has forbidden The People to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance to The People unless suspended in their operation till its Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, has utterly neglected to attend to them.
It has dissolved the rights of The People repeatedly, for opposing its invasions on their rights.
It has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing its Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
It has made Judges dependent on its Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
It has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
It has kept among us, in times of peace, militant law enforcement forces and Federal agencies given special permissions to disregard out natural and legal right without the Consent of our people.
It has affected to render certain law enforcement and federal agencies independent of and superior to the Civil power.
It has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution (see:  The UN), 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 (diplomatic immunity from any and all crimes):
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent (and enforcing with terrible vigor and no accountability via the IRS and bloated, incomprehensible tax laws):
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury (by threatening dire consequences if the accused refuses to plead guilty, and by denying accountability for abuses of the system)):
For taking away our due process, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring itself invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
It has abdicated Government here, by declaring itself out of our Laws and waging War against us.
It has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people, selling natural resources and public lands to foreign interests without the consent of The People.
It is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries  our servicemen 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.
It has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, by fomenting violence, paranoia, distrust, and fear and engendering bigotry, class warfare, unfair taxation, unjust enforcement of laws, unjust protections under the laws,  and lack of accountability for those charged with the equal and just enforcement of those laws.
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 government whose character is thus marked by every act which may define Tyrany, 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 our legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our ancestors' 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 People 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 United States, solemnly publish and declare, That these United States are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the current Federal Government, and that all political connection between them and the current Federal Government, 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.

Monday, December 22, 2014


Around 2:00 this morning, or perhaps a bit before, T's mother passed through the veil.  A tough old bird, she's been through two broken hips in the span of a month, was dealing with Alzheimer's and the effects of aging, and a septic infection.

Enough was enough.  She was in hospice, and the family knew it was only a matter of time, but knowing the IDEA of a thing and experiencing the REALITY are two very different fish.
Much love to T and his sister J.
I liked Diane.  She was something of a bird, flitting from this to that, petite, like a wren hopping about.  She could peck, but mostly was sweet to me, and she adored her grandson, my son.
The Evil Genius knows - I didn't wake him, but told him when he got up.  He was sad, but we've talked about her aging and ailments because I don't hide life from my children, and he knew that she likely wouldn't make it to the new year.  He said he thought she was better off, all things considered.
She's in good company, as another friend's grandmother passed as well.  I wonder if they'll meet on the way over...
Rest easy, Diane. The worst is done. May your journey to the other side be swift. May your destination be beautiful. May you be greeted with love and joy by those who went before you. May you leave behind sorrow and pain and remember only the love of those who live on. May you be welcomed with the warm embrace of your God. Safe journey.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Roll Tape

Isn't that the cutest little roll of tape?

I had three of them.

Operative word:  had.

Sprout found them.

Guess how much tape one of those wee rolls holds.

Go on, guess.  I'll wait.

No.  More.


Close, but more.

Yep, about two miles worth, if the way the clean-up felt is anything like accurate.

Oh, well...she had a lot of fun.

As an aside, umm...when the soon-to-be-four-year-old is that quiet, it may be wise to check on what she's up to before you get involved with a half-hour-long project.  Also?  Cats do not have a sense of humor when is comes to tape and their feet.  Just sayin'...

Friday, December 5, 2014


Forgive me if I have posted this before.  I am not feeling well...my heart is heavy, I cannot breathe clean or free, I cannot sleep, and I must smile and smile and show the world an untrue face because there is not room for my hurt.

Perhaps tomorrow...or tomorrow's tomorrow...it will be different.  In this moment, in this succession of moments, I play me false.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Clean Break

In the spirit of offering alternatives to going out into the feeding frenzy that is holiday shopping, I offer another option, an artisan who makes soaps, lotions, essential oil blends, shampoo, and more.  Her soaps stink purty!  Check out Soaps by Jan - her products are fantastic and all natural!

It's funny how priorities change with time - when I was a child, I wanted a pony, and toys, and candy, and...and...

Now?  I want to pay my power bill.  Barring that, I just want to spend a pleasant day with family and friends and store the memories for later use.  I like giving gifts, I like making gifts, I like knowing that I have made someone else smile a little.

I am, as usual, broker than a politician's promise, so this year I'm not sure what I will make/do...but I guess I'd better get at it, huh?

What sort of handmade things do you enjoy receiving? What sort of handmade things do you like to gift?

Friday, November 28, 2014

What If There Was Another Way?

Black Friday.  Sounds ominous.  Sounds like the day some calamitous event took place.  

Come to think of it...

We have a day each year set aside to celebrate our thankfulness.  Whatever the history of Thanksgiving, the holiday had come to be a time to reflect on what we have and to appreciate it. In our various ways we celebrate the bounty in our lives, however modest it may be, and seek to share that bounty with family and friends.  We fill our hearts with good will and our bellies with copious amounts of food, we fall into feast related comas, and we waken to eat again, watch football, play games, and participate in our various Thanksgiving traditions.

Then some of us spend the next day participating in what has long been called "Black Friday",  considered by many to be the official start of The Christmas Season (TM).

On black Friday, many stores open in the wee hours and offer progressives savings and deals on popular items, allegedly so that we can save money and buy over-the-top gifts for others.  On Black Friday, it seems that people forget their humanity, forget their compassion, forget their better selves and become raving, slavering, consumer goods buying monsters.

People buy cartloads of crap, caught up in the illusion of more-is-better.

 A number of memes point out the irony of this behavior...

For some reason, people are easily swayed by the belief that they MUST!  GET!!  THAT!!!  DEAL!!!! or die...or kill...trying.

Every year there are stories of mayhem and death because a certain item was sold out, or two people reached the last one at the same time, or someone tried to cut in line, or...or...or...
 What if there was an alternative, another way to find and purchase gits for your loved ones, meaningful gifts, gifts that are different, unique, beautiful, and supportive of an entirely different thought process?  What about a gift that is not only given to the recipient, but helps someone else, too?

You can support an artist or artisan - look for gallerys and art cooperatives in your area.  Check out craft fairs, which are abundant this time of year.  Don't want to leave home?  Just take a few minutes to cruise through Etsy.  There's Unleash the Goddess, a shop run by an artist who is a mother of two, a wife, a woman who is creative and encourages creativity in others.  There's amy's delight, another mom, artisan, and all around decent human being.  There's Stonekettle, etsy page of Jim Wright who also writes the blog Stonekettle Station - he's talented, funny, smart, kind to animals, and has a tart sense of humor.  His woodwork is whimsical, useful, and beautiful.

Want to help others build a better life?  Check out The Tinker's Packs, a site dedicated to selling you nifty things and donating ALL of the proceeds to supporting Heifer International.  Or take a look at Heifer International itself.

There are so many meaningful ways to show love through gifting, why on earth do any of us perpetuate this disheartening stampede of mindless savagery?  Does anyone need a new television, computer, talking doll, or hunk of cheap plastic crap that badly?  Is it worth a life?

Wednesday, November 26, 2014


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, K2, Mizz A, 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, I would have 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.

Monday, November 24, 2014

What'll It Be, Hmm?

Time for the annual posting of the menu!  You've been anxiously awaiting this post all year, haven't you?  I knew it!  You may now breathe again.

Casa de Crazy presents:  Thanksgiving Dinner

Featuring: Mr. Thomas Turkey stuffed with Various Herbs

Co-Starring:  Herb and Onion Dressing, Mashed Potatoes, Gravy, Green Beans, Mashed Turnips and Carrots and a special appearance by Can o' Cranberry!

Also Appearing:  Mrs. Smith's Dutch Apple Crumb Pie accompanied by Breyer's Vanilla Bean Ice Cream, Key Lime Pie, and possibly guest starring Something Chocolate by Angie.

Special Guest Appearances by:  Pitcher of Water and Stick of Butter, and also Coffee, Tea and Cider

Cameo Appearances:  Celtic Sea Salt and Black Peppercorn Grinder

How's your Feast shaping up (if you celebrate, that is)?

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Counting Down...

Thanksgiving is in four days.  Four days!  Where'd my year go?  Gah!!!


Yesterday I baked herb bread so I could cut it into cubes and let it go stale.  Yup.  That's how I do my dressing, and so far no one's complained they don't like it.  I dig bread dough - it's alive!  Watching it poof up, slowly encroaching on the edges of the rising bowl, is kinda nifty.

Casa de Crazy still smells fantastic.  I baked two batches, which yielded four loaves.  Not all of it is for dressing, but I have learned that I need to make extra - filling the house with that delectable scent and not having any to nom on is just about the height of cruelty!

I'll be doing little things all week to get ready for Thursday.  We're not having a big crowd and I'm not cooking a huge feast, I just don't want to have a ton of work to do in one day.  Also, some things do better when they've had a day or three to sit and mingle.

I have turnips and carrots to mash, the good dishes need washing, and Casa de Crazy could use a general tidying up for company.  Someone won't be here, and my heart aches a little about that, but his mother may be coming and a couple of good friends are joining us, and even T will be here (the Evil Genius is over the moon about that).

How's your week shaping up?

Friday, November 21, 2014

Dreams of Falling

Once we had wings.

Once we had wings, and oh...

Once we had wings, and oh, how we soared!

Oh, how we soared, and swooped, and looped the loop, and oh how we roared and whistled and snapped and fluttered.

Once we had wings and we flew.

We remember.

We remember in our hidden minds.

We remember when we stand in high places and look out on the far horizons and lean...

We remember how free and easy we were, riding the wind like it was ours to command, to shape, to harness, to carve through.

We remember when we dream.

Dreams of flying.

Dreams of rising upward.

Dreams of our feet leaving the ground, of the sky tugging at us, of gravity relinquishing its grasp, of thrusting ourselves heavenward on stolen breathes of exquisite freedom.

We remember and we dream and we yearn.

Then we fall.

We fall back into ourselves.

The present mind, the knowing mind, the learned mind takes hold, reminds us that we have no wings.

So we fall.

Slapping back into ourselves, wondering why...

...why we dream of falling when we know we should be able to fly.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Hunger, Thirst

At dinner time, before we eat we hold hands and share a moment of silence.  Then one of us will say "May you never hunger" and one of us will respond "May you never thirst".  Usually Someone and I will also exchange "Thank you for sharing food" and "Thank you for sharing life".  I continue this little tradition while he is away.

I've been thinking about hunger, lately.  While there are plenty of reports on the news about how unemployment is lower than it has been, and that people are doing better, here in Redneck Central it's still hard times.  Food banks are overwhelmed, as are shelters and services for the indigent and the food-insecure.

Amid all the stories of struggle, I was slapped by a headline discussing how a certain shelter is refusing to help gays.  Another headline lead to a story about the Salvation Army and its refusal to assist homosexuals, even going so far as to spend money donated in those holiday buckets on lobbyists to support anti-gay legislation.  So...these supposedly Christian, supposedly charitable organizations are refusing to help certain people because...why?

When, exactly, did Jesus say "Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, house the poor, but only if you think I like them"?  When did he say "Oh, no, it's okay to let the fags shiver and starve because they don't have sex the way they should with whom they should"?  In any of his teachings, sermons, rants, whispers, prayers, or other communications, did he ever once mention lesbians?

Granted I'm pagan and have been for a very long time, and granted it's been a minute since I read the bible or studied Christianity as a whole, but even with my faulty and aging memory, I don't recall Jesus ever mentioning that compassion, charity, or kindness were reserved exclusively for those in his father's house or who followed himself.  He certainly never said anything to ME about that...

To the contrary, he seemed to go out of his way to be inclusive, to the point of often distressing the people who thought they knew him best and followed him around soaking in his teachings and trying to understand his radically different way of seeing and doing things.

I still wonder how anyone can call themselves "Christian", a follower of Jesus, when they seem to so readily set aside the teachings of the man they laud as their "Lord and Savior" even as they act entirely against his teachings.  Most of the alleged Christians I know aren't.  They're church people, and they follow the bits of the Bible that fit their world view, but actually Christian?  No...not even close.

A Christian?  Would ask "Are you hungry?" and then feed a person.  No strings.  No questioning the religion or politics.  Just...fill an empty belly.  A Christian?  Would ask "Are you cold?" and offer clothing, a jacket, a blanket, without judging how the person came to be so cold.  A Christian?  Would ask "Do you need a place?" and help find shelter from the elements.  No demands that the one in need first attend a church service.  A Christian?  Would ask 'Are you sick?" and then offer medicine without demanding that the person who is sick convert to one particular church before they can receive aid.

Plenty of pagans don't give freely of themselves or offer succor to those in need...but then, those same pagans don't claim to follow the teachings of a peaceful healer who DID offer help, hope, and boundless love to any who reached out to him.

I'm NOT Christian...but here's my deal - if you are hungry I will strive to help feed you.  If you need clothing, I will strive to help you dress.  If you need shelter, I will work to help you attain it.  That's it.  You don't have to be pagan, or Christian, or anti-Christian, or straight, or gay, or bi,or whatever.  It doesn't matter your age, nationality, skin tone, or what music you listen to.  As long as I don't feel you threaten my family's well being, I won't turn my back on you.  As long as you are not doing me harm, I will try to help when I can.

You are a living being.  You carry with you the seed of life.  You are imbued with the same energy, the same spirit, that I am steeped in.  You are worthy of compassion, of love, of kindness.  You and I and all other beings are made of light and matter and vibrations and illusions.  We are the sum of the Universe.  I greet the divine in you.  I honor the journey you are on.  The sun that shines on me, shines on you...

So tell me, fellow sojourner, how can I help?

Monday, November 17, 2014

Small Things

Whenever possible, Someone calls twice a day.  We write each other several times a week, and Sprout and I go visit him once a week.  We're lucky to have that contact that we do - plenty of people over at the jail have no family, or at least no one who keeps in touch.

I think it's awfully important to maintain contact as much as possible, to remind the person in that strange and horrible pocket reality that there is this world out here and people in it who love and value them.  Every time Someone calls or receives a letter or sees us, it helps him remember himself and his connection to us.  In the jail is it far too easy for people to lose...lose themselves, lose their families, lose hope, lose touch with anything but the walls, the windows, the fear, the anger the unhappiness...

I miss him here at the Casa.  It's chillier in the house, quieter, less...vital...

It's funny, there aren't any great big things I miss, but rather a collection of small details that mean he's with us.

I miss waking in the morning when Sprout crawls in the bed with us and wedges herself between us.  I miss hearing him get up, shower, shave, dress for work.  I miss the sound of coffee beans pouring into the grinder, and Sprout's excited egress from the bed as she scampers into the kitchen to help her Papa make coffee - she like to run the grinder and help him dump the grounds into the filter - and then the smell of the hot beverage wafting through the house.

I miss sleepy morning greetings, the kiss as he leaves for work, the occasional call telling me he'll be home for lunch, hunting for his coffee cup (my goodness, but the man can find all kinds of places to put it down and forget it!).

The sound of him breathing in his sleep, and the sound of his heart as I lie with my head on his chest, drifting.

How warm he is.

The smell of him.

Sharing funny stories or bits of news, moving about the house in tandem, watching a movie together.

Sprout's giggles and squeals when he grabs her and hugs her or tickles her with his beard, and her excited exclamations over going outside and riding bikes with him, or playing tee-ball or soccer, or raking leaves, or gardening.

Most relationships cannot survive incarceration.  We've every intention of bucking the trend.  I don't give up on people.  Jail...it changes things.  It's not just the one incarcerated who is held captive.

We'll be here when he gets out, ready to continue piecing together the mosaic of our lives one little detail at a time.  Meanwhile, I am doing my best to keep it together in the here and now.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Veteran's Day*

If you served, or if you are serving, heartfelt thanks.

If your feet walk foreign soil, I wish you a swift and safe return home.

If you came home broken, I wish you swift and full mending.

If you suffered loss, I wish you the softening of grief, and abundance in your future days.

Thank you Dad, Big Brother, Uncle, Cousin, Basque A, Ed, Danny, and all of those who step/ped up and put on a uniform.

*For those who didn't know, Veteran's Day is for the living, Memorial Day is for the dead, which is why this post only mentions people still walking this Earth.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Growing in the Cracks

In the movie Jurassic Park, the chaotician Ian Malcom, played by Jeff Goldblum, warns that life will find a way.  What better example in our daily lives than the little bits of nature that thrust themselves upward through cracks in the pavement?  I adore them, these wee warriors.  I cheer them on, hearty growing things that surprise me in the midst of a parking lot, sidewalk, my driveway.  I know that as a human living in a quasi-urban setting, I should abhor them, yank, rake, chop, and poison them, but how can I?  I can't bring myself to remove these reminders of living entropy.

They put me in mind of compassion, taking root in places where it shouldn't thrive, but...somehow...it blooms.

Someone is currently in jail, serving his sentence for the drug related charges he was arrested for last winter.

Through him, I have had some opportunities to be compassionate, and I have taken them.  No one should be without contact with their family, so I make phone calls, let family and friends know that their person is in jail and how to remain in contact with them.  I have talked a few people through court proceedings so they'll have an idea what to expect.  I've given a ride or two to people who had no means of transportation.  I even, once or twice when I could, put a few dollars on an inmate's books so they could get soap or deodorant or envelopes and stamps from the commissary.  You see, when they enter the jail, men and women alike are given nothing but the inmate's jumpsuit and a pair of pseudo-Crocs.  They have to purchase underwear, paper, pencils, stamps, soap, shampoo, deodorant, comb, toothbrush, toothpaste, socks, and if it's cold they can either shiver or buy long underwear.  No money?  Too bad for you.


There's another well of compassion, one inside the jail.  It's an unexpected thing - we are taught that people in jail are a bad lot, the worst, that they fight and hate and steal and bully...and sometimes that does happen.

More often, though...

There's V.  He's in his fifties.  Never been in trouble with the law before.  Served in the military.  Got into an argument with his wife last March.  Reached for his keys so he could go for a drive, cool off.  She got them first, wouldn't give them to him.  He reached for them in her hand.  They bumped their heads together.  She called the police and he was charged with domestic violence.  Am I minimizing, sugar coating?  Nope.  Even the wife, now the future ex Mrs. V, says that's what happened, now that she's had time to cool off, realize what she's done and what she stands to lose.  She's sorry she ever called the cops and would love to recant...but here in Redneck Central, even if a partner/spouse withdraws their complaint, a person can still be prosecuted...because there are plenty of victims who will change their minds out of fear.  This is not such a case, but the DA doesn't much care...it looks good on their record, doesn't it?

Anyway, there's V.  Arrested, sitting in the booking/processing area, he tried to call his ex/first wife, but she doesn't answer strange numbers, so he couldn't get through, and the jail phones don't allow one to leave a message.

He was dumped into the population with nothing but a tremendous sense of bewilderment and prison issue jumpsuit and shoes.

Within 24 hours, some thirty different men asked him if he was okay, made sure he got food, showed him the ropes, made sure he had a shirt, some socks, hygiene items, even coffee (prisoners can order instant coffee from the commissary...they prepare it with tap water, or, if they're lucky, warm water from the shower).  When Someone learned that V couldn't get through to his first/ex wife, he called me, gave me her number and V's information.  I called her, talked to her, explained what had happened and what she could do to let him call her, when his preliminary hearing was, what the charges were, and how to put money on his books, and how to arrange bail and what it would likely cost.  I gave her my contact information and told her to call or text any time she had a question and I'd do my best to help her.  Funny, at first she thought I was one of the deputies from the jail.  I set her straight - they don't do this kind of thing...helping the families is NOT in their job description.  The ex/first wife and I text back and forth all the time, now.  She and V came to see me when Someone was taken to serve his sentence...they were worried about me.

Neither V nor his ex/first wife could believe that Someone or I would reach out like that.  Neither one would ever have thought that there, in jail, where there is so little...strangers would offer whatever small comforts they could spare.  True, sometimes there's an expectation of repayment or of paying it forward, but more often, it's just people offering their fellows a hand.

V isn't an isolated incident.  Someone and I are not an isolated incident.  In one of the darkest, dirtiest, grittiest, ugliest places humanity can wedge itself, there are many spots of beauty, so easily missed...so often uprooted and torn up by the keepers of the jail...but they grow, regrow, refuse to give up, refuse to let go of that little spark of spirit, of kindness, compassion.  Thank the gods for that.

Despite they way the world seems to be turning of late, I believe in the good and loving heart in all people.  Funny that it's a bunch of inmates in the local jail who are helping me hold on to that belief, f
lowers poking through the cracks of the pavement.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Olive Trees

I recall reading once, a long time ago, of people who would plant olive trees knowing that the trees would not fruit in their lifetimes, but rather that their grandchildren would see the first harvests.  They were not looking only at their own lives, their own wants or needs, but at what future people would benefit from their present actions.

Oh, how I adore that.

I don't know if we will experience the positive social and legal changes I hope for in my lifetime.  Perhaps it will be my children, or grandchildren, who benefit from the writing and exhorting I do now.  I can live with that.  I can live with knowing that some future generation will pluck fruit from the trees I am planting now.

Change is inevitable.

Why are we humans so fearful of embracing it?  Especially when that change is towards compassion, kindness, caring?

Yesterday I voted.  I did so as a compassionate, kind, and caring being,  I did so thinking not of myself and what I want or need now, but of the people around me, the next generations, of how I could help make a stronger tomorrow.

Idealistic?  Yes.  Foolish?  Perhaps.  But you know what?  I felt better about voting than I have in years.

I think I will continue to buck the trend.  I think I will encourage my fellow humans to do the same.  Who knows, perhaps we may start a whole new trend?

Are you in?  Let's plant some trees...

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Alright, Already!

Dear Republican Party,

Leave me alone.  Quit calling me a dozen times a day.  Quit mailing things to me.  Quit telling me how important it is that I am faithful to you and only you.  If you were a person, you would be guilty of stalking me and  would have a restraining order against you.
Dear Democratic Party,

Leave me alone.  Quit calling me a dozen times a day.  Quit mailing things to me.  Quit telling me how important it is that I am faithful to you and only you.  If you were a person, you would be guilty of stalking me and  would have a restraining order against you.
Dear Libertarian Party,

Thank you for not calling me a dozen times a day, mailing things to me, telling me how important it is that I am faithful to you and only you, and generally acting stalkerish.  Or was it simply that the Republicans and Democrats so stuffed my mailbox and clogged my phone line that you couldn't squeeze in?
Believe it or not, political parties, I do pay attention to what you are doing.  Your candidates actions are what help me decide how to vote, not some damn fool party line or loyalty.  Calling me at all hours and playing insincere recordings at me won't endear your party to me, most especially when you interrupt meals of time with my children and the recording say things that are decidedly contrary to your candidates' behavior.

Also, continuing the robo-calls on voting day, even after the polls have closed?  Irritates me.  You don't want to irritate me.  I'm already trying very hard not to go all Krakatoa on a minute-by-minute basis.  You're not helping.  

Don't make me got the chicken foot...

Monday, November 3, 2014

You Don't Have To...

I'm feeling melancholy today.  hardly new.  I am feeling as though I have lost myself, or given myself away bit by bit until there's not enough left of me for me.  I feel bent and broken and wrong.  I'm cold outside and in.

The world is still beautiful, and I cannot bear it.  I have things to do and I am doing none of them.

Music, instead.  Song after song, helping me tick away the hours until tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow, on and on...

Last week was death and anger and hurt and struggle and loss and hunger and cold.  This week looks like much the same.  How dare the sky be blue?

Friday, October 31, 2014


Blessed be those who have gone beforeBlessed be those who live in the now
Blessed be those who follow after
Blessed be we on the ever turning wheel

Tonight I remember Papa, Margot Adler, Robin Williams, Morning Glory, Vivian, and all who passed through the veil since last Samhain.  May the journey be easy, the destination be beautiful, and may they be welcomed int the halls of the dead with warmth and fellowship.  May those who loved them in this life recognize them should they return to the wheel once more.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Remembering Vivian, Part 3 of 3

Mum used to go and visit our friends at least once a year, often more.  July 4 was the preferred date.  They would get up to things.  All kinds of things.   Mum would dabble in glass.  Vivian would ask Mum for quilting help.  They would make forays to the local galleries and crafty places.

I know Mum will miss those visits.  Me, too - I like hearing about what they'd been doing.

Vivian's house in out in the country.  The doesn't mean she doesn't know the city - I like the colorful buildings.

Oh, a nice place to rest, dip your feet, listen to the song of the falling water...

Purple mountains, so lovely.

I don't know if Vivian was particularly fond of horses, but I like the way she depicted them.  With crayon, ink, or paint one may create the illusion of motion...Vivian did it with glass.

Chiaroscuro in glass...

This piece...oh, how I love this piece...

This piece is large.  It is the window at the end of the house, in the master bath.  I have nothing to show size, proportion, but...yeah...big.

The light shining through the dragon window makes puddles of color on the oposite wall.  Ever the artist, Vivian had beautiful tiles in the shower.

Light shields - nothing needs to be ordinary when you're an artist!

Here ends the photography - there was so much more I could have shown you, but the light, my camera, and my lack of skill didn't always capture what was there.

There will be a memorial.  I am hoping I can go.  Whether or not I do go, I will remember my friend, her smile, the time we shared, and carry her with me.

We never die, really.  We reflect our light and others take it in and carry us with them, part of their light, on and on, just as we carry the sun, the moon, the stars.  I regret carrying some people with me, but Vivian>  I am proud to know that her light still streams forth, from Mum, from me, form everyone who knew her.

Safe journey to the other side, Viv - may you be delighted by what you find there, and may I know you should you return for another round on the wheel.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Remembering Vivian, Part 2 of 3

When you look at the world around you, what do you see?  I wonder if Vivian saw things as bits of colored glass fitted together.  I wonder if she looked at beautiful scenery and her mind broke it down into planes and angles, shades of color, cuts and fittings.

She was a marvelous stained glass artist.  When I lived in the condo (before casa de Crazy, a very long time ago), she made a window for me.  I drew a few basic rune for her as a guide, measured the space where it would go (a transom window on the enclosed porch) and trusted her judgement.  When we moved from the condo to the Casa, I took the window with me.  It wants framing before I can hang it here...perhaps this winter I will manage that.

Her house...her daughter's house...is bedecked with stained glass pieces.  So many windows letting in light, how could she not hang her jewels to glow in the sun?

So many colors and textures...

So many ways to depict the world in glass...

It's the reflection that fascinates me, here...

Oh, the hummingbirds!  She loved to fill the feeders and watch them bob and weave from place to place.  When Mum visited, they would take their breakfast out onto the lanai and watch the cheeky hummers zip around, chipping and pipping at the humans who dared intrude on their domain!  I could NOT get a truly good photograph og this piece - the light resisted me.  

She made all sorts of things with glass - here's a candle holder.

Clever way to use bits and bobs, huh?

Here's another kind of candle holder.  I have one in...surprise...blue.  I keep it in the glass case most of the time because my kids respect nothing and I would be awfully sad if it was broken because they knocked it to the floor.  I bring it out for holidays or when I just want to have a candle going and watch the light through the glass.

Another candle holder...can you see the moon faces?  Lovely and dusky, and for some reason it put me in mind of New Hampshire and the birch trees in the woods there.

Hello, Moon.

Landscape photography I can do...but landscape glass?  Not so much.

There are quite a few transom windows in the house, perfect for playing with...Vivian and her daughter spent the summer making inserts for them all.  This was the only one that was in place when I visited.

Oh, such color...twisting ribbons rising upwards...

The rest tomorrow...

Monday, October 27, 2014

Remembering Vivian, Part 1 of 3

I celebrate my friend and her life, and if I mourn it is not for her, who has left behind cancer and pain and a slow and steady fading of her self...it is for Mum, and for me, and for her daughter, and for everyone who knew and loved a vibrant woman and are saddened by the loss of her.  Even mourning, I smile and smile and think how lucky I am to have had a bit of her, to carry her with me as part of my memory's hoard, and to have some of her here with me in the form of a few pieces of her art gifted me over the years.

Funny, one of the few photos I have of her is in black and white.  Why funny?  This was a woman who surrounded herself with color - plants, stained glass, people, all colorful, befitting a woman who was, herself, a gloriously creative and richly hued soul

Her home, now her daughter's home, is beautiful.  More than once I have told them with a wink and a smile that if their house ever disappears, I didn't take it and they should not come look for it here in Redneck Central.

I have so many photographs I want to share.  None of them show Vivian in person; they show tiny bits of her world, more revealing than any portrait.

We begin outside the house.  She had...has...had...flowers everywhere - it's impossible to walk anywhere in her yard and not see some flower shouting its joyful presence into the sunlit hills in which she lived.

Here I am!

Look at me!

Not your average plant hanger - I'd hate to see the mosquitoes it eats.

There's an entire pathway of stepping stones that she made.  I have a set she made for me years and years ago, depicting the four elements.  They will, eventually, be set into the circle at Dragon's Rest.  Every time I see them, I smile.  I considered a midnight requisition of this morning glory one...but nah, it's happy where it is.

Ah, a dragon, watch your step!

I adore these little flowers.  Viv told me when we last visited that if she was still alive when they went to seed, she would see that I got some.  Whether from her flowers or a catalog, I will get seeds and plant them and think of her when they bloom.  She told me what they are, but I can't remember right now.

Nothing is ordinary...even the outdoor coffee table receives its measure of talent and glass.

These caught my eye...I adored them.  Such fun flowers, another plant that made me grin.  The remind me of a party favor, and I think they're called Cat's Whiskers or some such.

Well, hello there bright pink, how do you do?

Vivid.  Vivian. 

Tomorrow and the next day, there will be glass.  Lots and lots of glass.