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, September 17, 2014

Who Wants Music On Monday?

Yes, I know it's not Monday - but I have an attachment to using that title for musical posts.  Check out this tremendously talented group of folks:

Aren't they marvelous?

I adore them.

I said this on Facebook a few days ago, but I'm not ashamed to repeat myself:  It isn't often that we are fortunate enough to witness this kind of conjunction of talent, personality, a bit o' the glamour, and what I call "Shiny People", that is, people who are unquestionably doing what they were made to do, doing it well and with such joy they cannot help but shine. 

They're delightful people off stage, too, and I count myself thrice blessed for being considered a friend.  I only regret that they're so fantastic they never have any peace at the events we attend, so I don't get to spend a lot of social time with them...because making music with people of this sort of talent feeds my soul in unimaginable ways.  They won't let me pay for their music...so I have to be stealthy and buy things when they aren't looking...and you have no idea how difficult that is.

They would have no problem selling YOU their music, though, dear reader, so feel free to visit their website and feast on their auditory offerings.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Lost and Found

I'm a Witch.  Y'all knew that, right?

Lately, I find myself thinking about that.  I'm a Witch, but sometimes I forget what that can mean to me, to the people around me.

I'm not one of those wart-nosed, angry, cackling*, evil Disney critters that seem so popular around Halloween, or, as some of us Witches call it, Samhain.  I'm not a TV witch who can twitch her nose and make things happen, nor am I one of those movie witches who turns into things or bibetty**-bobetty-boos things into other things, nor am I one of those book-y ones.  I've never flown on a broomstick, and more often than not my wand is more useful for stirring things (but not trouble) than for unleashing some kind of light-effects zapperoonie.

Nonetheless, I am a Witch.

I do things.  Not big, flashy things, not turning-a-frog-into-a-prince things, but still...I do things.  I bless houses and by gum, they STAY blessed.  I de-spook places, and the spooks stay gone.  I mend broken things that cannot be mended.  I find things, all sorts of things, when no one else can.  Sometimes, if I am fortunate, I can even help people find what they've lost of themselves, help them stitch together their broken parts, heal their hurts, and move along life's path once more.

I'm a Witch.  I'm a warden for this Earth that I love.  I am part of the web of life, and more, I am a weaver of it.  I pulse to the pull of the moon and sun, ebb and flow with the tides, move with the timeless dancing of the stars, sing the Song, the Note, am part of the grand music that came before everything, before the bang and the rush and the whoosh and the frantic scrabbling of life.

I am a Witch.

It's so easy to get lost in ordinary entanglements, to forget who and what I am and have built a significant part of my life on.  It's not a costume or an act or an excuse to wear funky clothes and jewelry and scare the Mundanes.  It means that, against all sense, I believe in Magic and fairies and things unseen, that I believe in spells and poppets and all sorts of foolery that would never make it past my more pragmatic and even skeptical sides.  It means I believe, Believe, that I not only can but DO have a hand in calling upon those things unseen to manipulate reality when that manipulation is warranted, and I am willing to accept the consequences when I am wrong...and when I am right.

I've been so lost, the last few years.  Longer.  I've been lost and struggling.  I need to find myself again.

I'm a Witch...and it's time I started acting like it.

* Not that there's anything wrong with a good cackle...
** I was raised to believe that one should never bibetty in public...it's rude...

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Murky Waters

A dear friend of mine* recently bought a house.

It's an old house.  It has old house issues and quirks.  Before she bought it, she had it inspected and asked all the questions she could think to ask**.  She bought it outright so she wouldn't have to worry about payment, a mortgage, all the little things that go along with dealing with banks and their foibles, and she bought it knowing that she was eventually going to need to make some repairs - houses, like people, need upkeep and the older they get, the more upkeep there is.

The seller told her that the well was good and the septic system was healthy, and the inspector gave the house the thumbs-up with a few small exceptions, items that weren't urgent but that would likely need attention sooner rather than later.

Yesterday morning, she discovered that she had no water.  her well, it seemed, had run dry.

Wait, what?

The well that had never given any trouble to the previous owner just suddenly went dry?  Not even two weeks after she moved in?  She's not a profligate water user.  She doesn't leave taps running or take insanely long showers or run a sprinkler on her driveway or display any wasteful water tendencies.  How on earth could this "perfectly fine" well be dry?


She called a company that deals with these things.  How interesting to discover that they've been to that house before to work on this supposedly good well.  How interesting to learn that, according to them, they had told the previous owner that his well didn't have enough water in it, that it could possibly run dry, that ca certain part needed replacing right now.  How interesting that the previous owner never mentioned this to the real estate agents or to my friend.  How interesting that her neighbors confirmed that the wells are old and shallow and that they had to go on city water because THEIR well kept running dry, and that they offered to include the previous owner if he wanted, and that he refused and became contentious with them about it.  How interesting to learnt hat the septic tank is, in fact, too close to the house and well, and not up to current code and that sometimes the neighbors smell sewage when they walk by.  How terribly interesting it all is.

My friend faces an uncertain future - she is without work, but diligently looking (I have never known ANYONE who filled out more applications, sent more resumes, worked so hard at finding work!), without the funds to make all the repairs or pay for the city to bring her water (because she just bought a house, for cryin' out loud!), and without water.

The previous owner claims the well company never told him the part needed replacing, that he never was offered access to the city water lines basically that all these people are lying.  He says he never had any problems, although he doesn't deny having called the well company to begin with...so yes, there was at least ONE occasion where he had a problem, and he forgot to mention that when he sold his house.  It seems sadly likely that he lied outright and hid what he could so he could sell quickly and get out of the house without dealing with the problems.  Perhaps he was simply too tired, too sick (he has cancer) to wait any longer.  My friend would probably still have bought the place, but maybe she would have offered a tiny bit less so she could pay for the repairs needed, would have been forewarned about the well so she would be even more careful with water use until she could find a solution that fit her needs.

I am trying to help my friend see the bright side of this mess, which is something of a challenge.  She has no water, doesn't know when or how she will restore water to her new home, and is staring at a worrying financial future.  Still...these things were going to need to be dealt with eventually.  Dealing with them NOW means, hopefully, she won't have to deal with them later.  If she does have to go on city water, she can count on having water even if she loses power.  And?  This is an opportunity for her friends and family to show her that she is loved and valued, that we will not let her fall far before we catch her, that she can accept help with grace and see that whatever we can give her is given freely and with love, without strings or expectations (or at least with clearly given expectations) and no hidden agendas.  It is an opportunity for her community to shine, and for her to allow herself to ask for and receive help.

Also?  The well company has offered to come on Monday and complete what repairs they can on the well without charging her another fee.  In the meantime I bought her some water for drinking and we are filling up jugs for her to use to flush the toilets.  Mum (who lives far closer) has offered my friend the use of the shower and the bathroom at Dragon's Rest, and will likely also permit her to fill jugs from the tap so my friend doesn't have to keep buying water at the store and can flush her toilets.

From murky water, lilies may grow.

*I am refraining from naming her here fro privacy reasons.  Unless you are she, please do the same.

*Not all of them answered or answered honestly, as it turns out.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Not Hot Hot

I made salsa yesterday.  I've never made salsa before, so I exercised my Google Fu, found a recipe that looked workable, and mostly ignored it because that's how I roll, yo.

I don't eat a lot of salsa, but Someone does, and he mentioned the many tomatoes lurking around our kitchen and how maybe they'd be better used in something rather than sitting about growing long hair and menacing the other produce or earnestly insisting that the denizens of the veggie drawer hold a poetry slam, so...salsa.
I used a great many yellow pear tomatoes, a few Romas, one rather orange tomato of a different sort, several green onions, a green bell pepper, and a Thai Insanity Pepper from out garden.  I added some white onion, chopped garlic, key lime juice, cumin, black pepper, and Celtic sea salt.

I refused to eat any until Someone tried it - he has a better tolerance for spicy than I do, and those Thai peppers?  Are angry, angry critters. 

He liked it well enough to eat it with chips, and then on the fish I cooked for dinner, and then with more chips, so I guess I can safely say it turned out okay and I'll be playing with the recipe in the future.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

We were sleeping.  I was still married, T worked nights, we slept late into the morning.  There was a knock at the door, the man here to do the annual termite inspection.  He said, offhandedly, "You hear about the plane that crashed into the World Trade Center?"  I hadn't.  He was so casual, I thought it must be a small aircraft, a little Cesna or something.  I turned on the news.  Woke T up.  Called family.  Called friends.  Cried.  Cried more.  Watched them fall.  Spent days stunned, trying to grasp the enormity of what had happened, even as I thought about how it was, in some places, an almost every day occurrence.

Somewhere, I still have a VHS recording of it...some day I may watch it, or maybe I will just destroy it.

The days following, so eerily quiet, the sky empty of everything that nature hadn't put there.

Oh, how I cried.  So many lives gone, so much more than mere buildings destroyed.

In the months following I railed against the Homeland Security act and everything that accompanied it - passing those laws stole away a large measure of our freedom, the freedom so reviled by the people attacking us.

The victims - the people inside those buildings just going to work, going about their day, trying to pay the bills and save up for a vacation, retirement, paying off the house or the car, living out their military careers...the passengers who spent Goddess knows how long thinking about their end, knowing they were doomed, wishing for one last opportunity to kiss someone goodbye, to hold them close, to whisper "I love you" before boarding, regretting angry words or what they'd left undone...

The heroes - the people who, against all instinct, against all sense, went IN to save others, to help them out and down and through, to rescue strangers at the risk and eventually cost of their own lives...the people on the one aircraft that didn't make its target, who chose to shape their end THEIR way rather than let strangers use them to kill others...

They have names.  They have faces.  They have left behind children, spouses, partners, pets, homes, cherished memories, gaping holes of used-to-be-them.

There are conspiracy theories.  There are claims that our own government did this, or that there were no aircraft, or that the aircraft were empty, or...or...or...

I believe that three building fell in New York City, that the Pentagon was hit hard, and that a bucolic field will never, quite, be the same.  I believe that people died who, under normal circumstances, would have lived out the day and continued on Life's path.

I believe that we honor the dead by living, not by allowing fear and hatred to win.  I'm alive.  I remember.

Monday, September 8, 2014

No, They Aren't All the Same

So this started as a comment on a Facebook post, but it got too damned long.  Caution, my opinion on this matter is vehement and I am understating it here for the sake of politeness.  I wrote this in response to this little gem.

Ugh.  This is inflammatory writing, biased and without anything remotely resembling objective thought.  Not all sex offenders are pedophiles.  Most aren't.  That is a common and terribly damaging assumption, often used to persecute not only the EX-offenders but their families.  Why not pick on the pervert's family, too, huh?  They deserve it for not abandoning the rapist, don't they?  Why not deny that child molester a job, a place to live, a support system?  After all they're all child-rapists anyway right?  Right.  None of them made a mistake, had sex as kids with other kids, peed in the bushes, or mistakenly thought they were at the nude beach that was actually a mile down the road.  None of them had sex in the wrong position, had vindictive ex-family who framed them, were lied to about the age of their partner, took a photo of their kid in the bath because cute! and shared it with family, only to be told that's child pornography AND it crossed state lines.

You'd think, though, that given the assumption that ALL SEX OFFENDERS ARE CHILD MOLESTERS!!!!! the author would be DELIGHTED that so many of those awful offenders who are clearly NOT human or worthy of compassion are contained in one place rather than living with their tainted families in the community at large.  Thank goodness we are free to judge them all the same without reservation and without actually having to KNOW the nature of their offense.

Also, FYI - I do not know a single person, NOT ONE, who wouldn't be considered a sex offender in the state of Redneck Central, which only recognizes missionary position marital sex as legal...everything else, ALL OF IT, is unlawful and a sex offense.  Peeing outside is a sex offense.  Living with a partner but unmarried?  Unlawful.  Gay?  Living as partners? Holy cats, SO UNLAWFUL!!!  That's right, not a single one of you who knows me IRL ISN'T an offender under the law.  Think about that...

Yes, there are monsters out there.  Yes there are drunk, stupid, unthinking horndogs who maybe could use learning a lesson.  No, they aren't all alike and they aren't all dangerous and they aren't all stalking your childrenz all day long.  Truth is, most of them are reeling from their experience and just want to try and live out their lives as quietly and inoffensively as possible.  And yes, I think we should not only let them, but do our damndest as a society to help them instead of blocking them at every turn.

And before you tell me I have no idea what I'm talking about, I was molested by a serial offender when I was a child, and I know a couple of people who fall under the "I fucked up" label, so I get to look at this from both sides.

Not that I feel strongly about it or anything.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The Exchange

It was a scorching day in June.

She was at the fuel pump, cell phone pressed to her ear, trying to get the nozzle into the opening on her car while juggling keys, gas cap, and listening to the phone.  She wasn't frowning, quite, but she wasn't smiling.  It was an old look, a tired look, an expression that spoke volumes of such phone calls flooding her day, a tired patience that was pained, a sort of wistfulness about the edges as if remembering or dreaming of better days, or even minutes.  She had to go inside to pay for her fuel, returning to her car with a dejected expression and her phone still pressed to her ear.

When the van pulled up to the pump behind her, she didn't notice it.  She was busy trying to take care of too many other things to see the world around her.  The driver of the van got out, fueled up, took her receipt, and got back into her seat, watching the rest of the motorists at the station - the man on the ground under his car, tapping at something with  hammer, then getting in and trying to start it.  The woman who went into the building and came out with cigarettes, a fountain drink, a lottery ticket, scowling.  The woman at the pump fumbling her keys, her phone, stuttering and stammering, trying to speak but seemingly interrupted every few words by some sort of tirade.

The voice from the phone carried to the van and its driver, not in detail but enough for her to hear anger.  The other woman's face confirmed that what she was hearing was unpleasant.  She pulled the dispensing handle on the fuel pump.

It only took a moment.

The pump nozzle jumped from her car, spraying liquid in an arc that went from the tank to the woman's torso and face, finally falling to the ground before shutting off.  There she stood, dripping, trying to tell whoever was on the other side of that phone conversation what had just happened.  She finally hung up, hung her head, and sighed.

The van driver left her van, telling her children t wait a few minutes, Mama would be right back, here's a snack and she'd leave the AC on.

She approached the driver of the car.

"Are you okay?"
"Not really..."
"Did any get in your eyes?  Your mouth?"
"No, it's okay, I just need to go wash my hands."  She looked at the pump, where it was clear that most of the two dollars in fuel she'd paid for had landed on the pavement.  Her eyes teared up.
"Come on inside and get cleaned up."  The van driver placed a gentle hand on her shoulder.
"Thanks.  I was on the phone...I don't know what happened...I was talking to my husband.  He's mad because I went out for a drive and got a little lost, turned around, and took longer than he expected.  I ran out of gas...just stopped here to get enough to get home."
"I'm so sorry.  Rough day."

They went into the gas station.  The woman from the car found the restroom, washed her face, hands, and arms, rinsed her shirt a little, and came out.  The van driver walked her back to her car.
"I bought you some more fuel.  It's only ten dollars...I'm afraid things are a little tight right now...but hopefully it'll get you home."

The driver of the car cried.

"I don't...I can't...you don't...I can pay you back, just give me your address."
"No...just pay it forward.  Some day you'll run across someone who needs a friend.  Be that friend."
"I will.  Wait!  Here...take this!"  She fumbled in her car, removed the decoration that was hanging from her mirror,a moon and stars with a prismatic crystal suspended from the bottom, the words "Follow your dreams" etched into it.
"It's okay, you don't need to..."
"Please!  I sell these at the store where I work, I can get another one!  Please..."
"Thank you.  Take care, now..."
"Thank you..."

The woman fueled her car and the van drove away.