Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Monday, December 22, 2008
The sky is black, the stars are bright, the air is frigid. It's an hour or so before dawn on the morning of the winter solstice.
We can hear the drums as we walk toward the amphitheater. The waning crescent moon hangs over the tall crag that forms the southern wall of the amphitheater. We choose our space, spread our blankets on the icy seats. The drumming continues. Somewhere in the darkness someone plays a didgeridoo.
Najah takes out a tiny cauldron, lights charcoal. We share a cup of coffee while it smolders. When the coals are ready, she scatters a homemade blend of sage, cedar and copal. Smoke spirals up, the scents blending with the cold, the stone, the snow. Frankincense wafts down the rows, the drums keep pounding.
Najah takes up her rattles, I take up my drum. We join in the rhythm. There's no leader, no program, no script. People keep arriving, the drums get louder. The darkness slowly fades. There's no sign of the sun, but now there's enough light to see that the sky is cloudless, except for two banks of clouds rising up from the horizon like the wings of a dragon. The drumming continues, the dragon's wings turn from purple to a fiery magenta. The drumming continues. My shoulder is beginning to ache. I keep drumming. The wings turn to molten gold. There is the faintest line of light at the horizon. The drumming continues. And continues. It builds in intensity. There is still only the faintest line of light on the horizon. We drum and we drum, and the sun does not appear. Time seems to be frozen. The sun is not coming up. We drum louder and faster. The sun is not coming up. And suddenly, I understand the fears of our ancestors. For a moment, I am afraid the sun will not come up, that it has gone away, never to return. A deep, atavistic fear that the world will remain in darkness.
The drumming continues, it gets louder, faster, more insistent. A raven flies across the sky. The crescent moon hangs about the rock. Frankincense, sage, cedar and coffee mingle in the cold air. The line of light grows thicker. The drumming gets louder, faster. The sun peeps above the horizon, only a quarter of it visible. It hovers there, teasing, enjoying the attention. The drumming reaches a frenzy, voices break into ulalations and howls. The sound echoes on the rocks at the sun finally shows itself above the horizon. Hands raise in salute. Hail and welcome the reborn sun!
Now that the sun is in the sky, I can see the faces of the twohundred or so people who braved single digit temperatures to celebrate the Solstice. Everyone is shining.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
1.I understand that you were handicapped by a natural immaturity, and I forgive you.
2.Look, just because some man in a red coat hands you a sword it doesn't make you a hero!
3.There is something you should understand about the way I work. When you need me but do not want me, then I must stay. When you want me but no longer need me, then I have to go. It's rather sad, really, but there it is.
4.I do not attempt to deny that I think very highly of him - that I greatly esteem him... I like him. Esteem him? Like him? Use those insipid words again and I shall leave the room this instant.
5. I want you to remember you're supposed to be the chaperone on this trip.
Now let's get this straight, Gus. The chaperone's job is to see that nobody else has any fun. Nobody chaperone's the chaperone. That's why I'm so right for this job.
6.Then it must be the sugar. The sugar? Did you get the Belgian vergeoise like I told you? Are you telling me that you can taste what kind of sugar I've used? Of course not, but I can taste which kind you didn't use.
7. A fish saved my life once. How? I ate him.
8. Forth, and fear no darkness! Arise! Arise, Riders of Theoden! Spears shall be shaken, shields shall be splintered! A sword day... a red day... ere the sun rises! Ride now!... Ride now!... Ride! Ride to ruin and the world's ending!
9.. Make anyone cry today? Sadly, no. But it's only 4:30.
10.Ancestors, I ask you for your guidance. Blessed mother, come to me with the Gods' desire for my future. Blessed father, watch over my wife and son with a ready sword. Whisper to them that I live only to hold them again, for all else is dust and air. Ancestors, I honor you and will try to live with the dignity that you have taught me.
11. If I make a mistake, it hurts me. Do you understand that? I mean, actual physical pain. That's very 'Gordon Ramsay'. [stunned silence] We don't use that name in this kitchen. Didn't your father tell you? It's bad luck to say it out loud. Just call him 'The Scottish Chef'.
12.Why? Do you even know why they sent you? It's not my place to ask. I believe in something greater than myself. A better world. A world without sin. So me and mine gotta lay down and die... so you can live in your better world? I'm not going to live there. There's no place for me there... any more than there is for you. Malcolm... I'm a monster.What I do is evil. I have no illusions about it, but it must be done.
13.And how would you beat him? With a stick. While he slept. But on a horse, with a lance? That man is unbeatable.
14. Why?... Why do you love me? Because I came alive when I met you.
15. I don't care whose fault this was, just get it sorted! And could someone please bring me something deep fat fried and smothered in chocolate...
16. I set dinner on the dining room sideboard at six. Breakfast is ready at nine. I don't stay after dinner. Not after it begins to get dark. We live in town, nine miles, so there won't be anyone around if you need help... We couldn't even hear you. No one could. No one lives any nearer than town... No one will come any nearer than that. In the night... In the dark.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Indecision, vacillation in an important matter, failure, disappointment, mental anguish, disturbing dreams, loneliness, depression, desolation.
I'm not sure what to do, except keep going. Push myself a bit harder, get myself off my behind a bit more, make a list....
Or just go with it for now, waiting for the Solstice, when the light will begin to increase, however slightly. The sun will come back, the depression will fade, my energy will renew. Eventually.
Four of Swords - Solitude, repose. Temporary retreat to gather inner strength, seek spiritual guidance and reorganize thoughts and plans.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Monday, December 1, 2008
Kate: So, I'm redoing my fairy wings for winter, for this masquerade concert/party thing..
Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom is worth visiting just to see the ladies' room - it's muralized with scenes from the Wizard of Oz, and has sayings and poetry all over the walls and ceiling and stalls. The stalls are chalkboard, chalk is provided, and grafitti is encouraged. I didn't write anything, being somewhat preoccupied with wing management. Whoever designed the average bathroom stall did not take wingspan into consideration.
I danced so hard my pointed ears popped off, my wings bent and the feathers in my mask curled over. By the end, my feet hurt, my calves were screaming, and I kept going until the music stopped.
It's a start.
Friday, November 21, 2008
Carrot Cashew Pate
2 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, crushed OR 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
2 cups carrots, thinly sliced
2/3 cup water
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 - 1 teaspoon curry powder (Madras is my favorite)
1 cup cashews
1 1/2 - 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1. Saute onion and garlic in melted butter until translucent.
2. Add carrots, water, salt and curry. Cover and cook until soft.
3. While carrots are cooking, put cashews in the food processor and grind into a coarse meal. Add enough oil to make a paste.
4. Add carrot mixture and process until smooth. Serve at room temperature or slightly warm.
Use as a dip with crackers or crudite, or as a sandwich spread.
Monday, November 17, 2008
I'm way behind in my homework and in a side project, so I rearranged furniture, went out with Chef to get stuff for my next costume, had lunch with a friend, cleaned house and made a cheese & veg tart (like quiche, but not so deep. Helpful. Not.
Now I'm wasting time on the computer. So, tag, I'm it with the six secrets game.
Six of my secrets:
1) I rearrange furniture when my energy feels stuck.
2)I take photos that make people say "What did you take that for?"
3) Given a choice between an 'art' film and one where stuff blows up, I will usually pick the one where stuff blows up.
4)My absolute favorite thing about pastry work is making dough.
5)I recently came to the surprising and somewhat painful realization that I am tired of being a spinster. This has thrown my perceptions of myself into a fair amount of turmoil.
6)Deja vu is a common occurance for me.
Ok, enough of procrastination. Time to go do some homework. Right now. I'm going......
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Update: Jenn pointed out that not everyone has read/watched Mists of Avalon, so here's a very condensed backstory: Arthur has to undergo a rite of kingship in order to claim his throne, the Priestess personifies the Goddess, the king personifies the Horned God, their mating symbolizes the creation of the world and the blessing of the land, and makes the king once with the land, thereby solidifying his kingship. Beltane is the Celtic festival of fertility.
There is also a subplot going on with Arthur, Guenivere and Lancelot, and a subplot with Morgainne and Acteon, both of which happen much later in the novel, but tie into the theme of the video.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Sunday, November 9, 2008
My neighbors use a leaf-blower. I'm more primitive. I use a rake. Back and forth, the crunching roll of leaves, the chiming of the metal tines, the occasional 'ping' as I hit a stone, over and over and over. Raking becomes a meditation. My mind empties, the mental chatter ceases. There is nothing but the motion and sound of raking. I suddenly realize that whole minutes have gone by without a thought, just awareness of the motion, the sound.
Moving meditation is easier for me - Solvitur ambulando - it is solved by walking. Or solvitur purgamentum (sweeping - the closest thing to raking in latin) in this case. Repetitive motion soothes my busy brain, thoughts and cares drift away, leaving a serene emptiness in its place, if only for a moment or so. Hands to work, hearts to God/dess, hands to repetitive movement, mind to emptiness. A rosary or a rake, it's the repetition that frees us.
When my mind gets too busy, when it spins out of control, physical activity brings me back to center. It's part of why I love pastry. It's tactile, it's repetitive, it requires focus. There's a zen to it, a zone where everything but the moment falls away.
Carpe infrequentia. Seize the emptiness. Wait, that's not very zen. Seizing the emptiness won't work.
Complexo infrequentia. Embrace the emptiness.
That's more like it.
Note: aside from solvitur ambulando, all latin translations were done with an on-line translator. so, accuracy is not guaranteed.
Friday, November 7, 2008
one comforter is all I need.
The heavy weight of many blankets
no longer necessary.
A light cocoon
not too hot, not too cold,
it's just right.
Cuddled instead of crushed,
I slumber peacefully
and awake refreshed,
looking forward to the day.
they were on sale.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
I don't envy Barack Obama the mess he is walking into, but I have faith that he can handle it. He will start where we are, with a vision of where we could be, and he will motivate and inspire us to work with him. Inspire, from the latin for breath/breathe. A deep, collective breath, and off we go.
Go read this post, it's also inspiring.
One more thing. Senator John McCain - last night, you were magnificent. Gracious in defeat, you showed yourself to be the honorable man who truly does put country first. You did not get my vote, but you do have my respect.
Sunday, November 2, 2008
Friday, October 31, 2008
I waited until most of the leaves had fallen before raking the yard. The lavender plants were buried in the brown, crackling leaves, and every pull of the rake released a waft of sun-baked lavender. Raking at twilight is the way to go - no harsh sun, just the fading evening light, the rustle of the leaves, the scent of earth, leaves and herbs.
Our compost heap is now enormous, ready to make dark, rich soil to amend our stony clay garden next spring.
This is my roommate Laura, in her Maude Lebowski dream sequence Valkyrie costume. Bevin the Mistress of Costumery made it.
Laura is finally on her way to Indonesia for her missionary work. They sent her a plane ticket this morning. She leaves on the 15th.
Samhain/Halloween is my favorite holiday. It's the pagan new year, and includes dressing up and candy. Yay! I was lucky enough to have the day off from work, and even luckier to be invited to spend the day with my friend Najah.
My dark faery of Autumn costume, courtesy of ARC and the Dollar Store. Underneath is the fabulous red bustier.
The Witches Who Lunch.
Najah (in her HooDoo Priestess ensemble) and me at the Denver Botanic Gardens. We took a picnic. I enchanted a little girl in the tropical conservatory; she was thrilled to meet a fairy.
In all our Halloween finery, we visited Chef in the kitchen, Arts Myths, Spirit Ways, and Herbs & Arts. We celebrated the New Year by buying our 2009 calendars.
Wearing face paint and a costume, I could feel myself shifting. A playful, flirty self began to emerge. The longer I spent in my faery wings, the more flitty and floaty I became. I'll be donning them again tomorrow night for the Witches' Ball. Then transforming them into Winter Faery Wings for the Lunar Fire Masquerade Ball at the end of November.
We went back to Najah's to carve our pumpkins. I had an elaborate plan, a best laid plan, which ganged aglee most egregiously. The pumpkin was as hard as could be, and it cracked right through the design. So, it became a grotto for the skull candle holder, which was Laura's 'signing bonus' from the costume shop. It works, in a lame sort of way.
In a bold move of risk-taking, and calling in what I want for the next year, I took advantage of a free weekend offer from Eharmony tonight. After a lengthy, intensive questionnaire, I was matched with eight people. I started communication with three of them. We'll see what can happen in a weekend.
Happy Samhain! May the Powers you walk with bless you all.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Imagine a large, bustling costume store 3 days before Halloween. Imagine the 'boutique' section of the shop. It's where all the sexy costumes hang out - satin, leather, chain mail....... It's bustling. There's one table with costume books. Lots of people. And I am being laced into a red satin brocade bustier, my waist being nipped in, my bosom being lifted into heaving position, while being taught about the difference between a bustier and a corset. By a pastry chef who is working at Disguises because she can't find a job in her field. Having decided on the right size, she sends me to the dressing room to take off my bra and tee shirt so that she can fit the bustier properly. She knows a lot about them, she wears them under everything; including tee shirts.
In order to be laced up tightly, the person in the bustier has to bend over and brace themselves on a table or something. So, imagine me, in red satin, bending over the costume book table, next to a young man looking at pictures, with my heaving bosom getting closer to his face with every vigorous tug on the laces. He's trying not to look, but he can't help it. Everyone in the boutique seems to be watching. I should have sold tickets. I smile. What else is there to do?
I look fabulous. The bustier is amazing - especially with my baggy houndstooth chef pants. Oh yeah.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Friday evening I finally got around to attending one of Earth Temple's open rituals. This one was a Dark Moon circle, the moon being a waning crescent. In Virgo, which is about service.
Earth Temple does one or two open esbats a month, as well as on the eight major pagan holidays. It's a gift for people who don't belong to a coven, who practice alone most of the time, but sometimes want fellowship. The officiants come in from different groups and traditions, so you never know who will be there, or what you are going to learn.
Friday evening, the ritual was led by Cerridwen Brennan, and her partner (sadly, I've forgotten his name, sorry). They are the only Pagan chaplains in the Colorado prison system (federal, state and county). They are also the only non-Christian chaplains in the system. They travel around the state, go into prisons and jails, and teach Wicca, and counsel, and listen. They get several paths of Wicca and paganism, as well as Buddhists and Daoists, who don't find solace in the other options. They talked about their work, what it involves, why they do it. And then made a pitch for volunteers, both to go into the prisons, and to write letters. Letters specifically relating to the prisoner's study and practice of Wicca/paganism. They were very clear that it's not a penpal situation, but more of a spiritual mentoring, by someone secure and comfortable and dedicated in their faith.
Which led me to the question; where am I in my faith? I'm not entirely sure. Do I believe that there is Something beyond and behind and within the world I see with my waking eyes? Yes. Do I perceive this Something most readily as Goddess and God, do I feel the Presence most strongly in nature, do the rhythms of the seasons resonate in my heart and spirit? Yes. Do I believe that the Source can speak through a person, consecrated or otherwise? Yes. Do I have a formal, daily practice? Not so much. I feel better when I do, but I get lazy and distracted. So I start over. Ah, the influence of Zen. Start where you are.
It's almost Samhain (Halloween); the time of year when I tend to have a spiritual renewal, a reawakening. As the earth turns toward hibernation, I start venturing deeper within my heart and soul. It's a bit barren lately, cold, filled with the ghostly crackling of dried leaves in the wind.
Lonely. Not desolate, just lonely. A wild, windswept plain with no shelter in sight.
But something is stirring. And shifting. And after many years of being almost exclusively Goddess-centered, of including the God mostly to be polite, my awareness and connection is moving toward the Lord of the Hunt, the Greenman, the Stag-horned God. A wildness is brewing. The sleeper awakens.
Sitting in circle Friday night, as the ritual Drawing down the Moon was carried out, I felt that shift in the energy that I have only felt at darshan, or at a trance possession. The priestess was gone, and SHE was there. I know the voice of the Source when I hear it. "Be mindful of your choices, for the choices you make today will shape your tomorrow". Not very original perhaps, but said in a way that said "pay attention! this is important kate".
I've been to a few public rituals. They tend to be on the superficial side. This one was intense, a powerful guided meditation, and a full-on drawing down the Goddess. And some useful questions to ponder. And possibly, an opportunity to be of service.
Some people have a set practice, a specific time and place, a meditation, a chant , a ritual, something that they do everyday for a certain amount of time. My practice is more fluid. I look up at the moon and the stars at night, and feel their beauty. I watch the sunrise on my way to work, and take a moment to enjoy it. I walk with my dog and watch the turning of the seasons at the park. I close my eyes, and breathe, and know that I am not alone.
Where am I in my faith? I'm right here. That's enough.
photo is from 4witches.com
Friday, October 24, 2008
I'm rather tired of cake just now. I made three round red velvet cakes, three square chocolate cakes, and two half-sheet chocolate and white cakes. The half sheet cakes are for Wen Chocolates first anniversary, which is being celebrated tomorrow (Saturday the 25th), although the actual anniversary was September 29th. We've been a bit busy. Cake is free, and there will be other little treats as well, so if you are in the Denver area, come down to the store between 10am and 5pm, and say 'hi' to Will and Loren. I won't be there, I'll be in the kitchen with my 13 year-old apprentice.
I'm housesitting this weekend, this time it does not involve opening and closing the store. Just feeding Najah's dog and fish, and having a house completely to myself from Friday evening through Sunday afternoon.
Monday, October 20, 2008
No wonder Chef is always tired. Working from home, it's really difficult to turn off and just be. I brought a very good book, my journal, nail polish.......and I haven't used any of them. I did go out for a drink with Steven (pastry pusher extrordinaire) Saturday evening after closing, but most of the time I just seem to be working. It's not good.
Next weekend I'm housesitting for my friend Najah. There's no work to do there. Maybe I'll finally get that book read.
Monday, October 13, 2008
I woke up with that urge today. Realizing that I needed an intervention, I went off to Fantastic Sams. I splurged and got the shampoo/haircut/blowdry package. In spite of a language barrier and the inexplicable tendency of almost every stylist to blowdry my hair into an anchorwoman helmet, it turned out very well. Once I un-anchored it. It's been pronounced 'sassy' and 'adorable'. I can live with that.I also tried doing something creative that had nothing to do with pastry. The mask I won last weekend didn't really suit me; the red vein-y things were disturbing. So I changed it. The glue is still drying in the last photo; the blobs of white will dry clear, and all you'll see is the tiny golden beads.
Circumstances haven't changed from yesterday or this morning. But somehow, a haircut, a walk in the park, and arts-n-crafts time have made me feel better.
UPDATE: This hairdo was only good the first day - it was totally uncooperative and dorky looking the day after. So much for going cheap (Fantastic Sams).
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Most people know what they're doing by this point
Sunday, October 5, 2008
Friday, October 3, 2008
Monday, September 29, 2008
The gallery did look lovely, if somewhat crowded.
This morning, Puppy and I went to Prospect Park, a wilder and larger park than our usual haunt. There's a vast amount of rushing water, winding trails and an amazing sense of vastness for a place that's surrounded on all sides by homes and businesses. We saw a fox on the trail, found little paths we'd never explored before and I discovered semi-hidden places that would be good for meditation and suchlike, if only one's canine companion wasn't incapable of stillness when outdoors. I'll have to go back without her for contemplation.
Beside the rushing water
with a camera lens