Friday, October 31, 2008

Leaves, Lavender & the Best Samhain Ever

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

Kate's in Red Satin

Dad, you might want to skip this one.

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

Drawing Down the Moon

warning - this post contains soul-searching and paganism. if that makes you uncomfortable, stop reading. wait for another post.

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

Friday, October 24, 2008

Blood & Chocolate

The yearly blood sacrifice to the the pastry gods was duly made during the waning of the Hunter's Moon. It involved a frozen red velvet cake, a cake slicer that is just shy of being a short sword, and of course, blood. My blood. Rather a lot of my blood, but not so much as the previous two sacrifices. Three cuts on two fingers of my left hand ( a feat that can really only be accomplished with a serrated knife, for those of you playing at home). No need for stitches this year, although one cut is still oozing a bit. As if anyone really wanted to know.

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.
Just a few more hours of work tomorrow (starting at 6am so I can put the finishing touches on al the cakes) and then just solitude. Yay.

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Dark Side of Pastry This weekend, from Friday through Monday afternoon, I'm housesitting for Chef, running the kitchen, and opening and closing the store. And aside from a short break for an emergency haircut (it's fabulous, Rachelle talked me off the ledge and gave me a super-hot 'do, even my bedhead looks good) and a trip to the thrift store and the dollar store for my Halloween costume, I can't seem to stop working. This is supposed to be a total day off, and I think, maybe I should go make the savannahs because we are completely out, and maybe I should fire up the tempering machine and take care of the mojca's and the new marcipans( that's the Slovenian spelling), because I can't pack up the gift baskets without them and gee, why not do the babycakes now instead of in the morning.......

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


metamorphosis - 1 a: change of physical form, structure, or substance especially by supernatural means
b: a striking alteration in appearance, character, or circumstances

I started with option b. I've been having an urge to shave my head for months. The reasoning (if it can be called reasoning) goes something like: it doesn't matter what I look like, nobody wants me anyway, I don't even like talking to stangers, I'm going to die alone and be eaten by my pets so I might has well shave my head OR the alternate version - I really need a fresh start, so I should shave my head. I always talk myself out of it, because I know I'll be really sorry about halfway through. Last week I did cut off a few inches (by myself). It looked ok, but was really boring, and yesterday's humidity made it stand out like a triangle. So not good.

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


Here we are again
all of us in here (it's crowded in my head)
back at a crossroads
having thought we were in the right place
on the right path
only to find that maybe we're not
It seemed like a good fit
tactile, creative, varied and demanding
but now
faced with realities beyond our control
we aren't so sure
would we want to do this somewhere else?

Or is it time to consider a new direction?

Sometimes we think we're getting a bit old for this
We should have had ourselves sorted by now

Most people know what they're doing by this point
Know where they're going

Don't they?

Well into middle-age
and at least today
we still don't know
what we want to be when we grow up.

We had dreams, we have dreams,
and where we are at this moment
just doesn't match.

Knowledge of mortality has become more present over the last few months, bringing a bitter taste of risks not taken, adventures untried, skills not mastered. Depression is threatening to visit again, taking no notice of the 'no vacancy' sign.

I'm back in that uncomfortable place, with one voice shouting 'suck it up and get on with it' and another murmuring 'be where you are'. Too fuzzy to go within and listen with any sense of clarity. Or maybe just too lazy.

So, start where you are. Right. Where is that exactly?
Waiting. Waiting for others to make a decision that affects the immediate answer. Waiting for myself to answer the deeper question - where do I want to go, and how do I want to get there?

Sunday, October 5, 2008


My latest resolution is to accept any invitations that come along. It has finally dawned on me that it will be easier to meet people if I go to where people are, rather than hiding in my lair. (No, it is not surrounded by hot liquid magma, nor do I have sharks with frickin laser beams attached to their heads).
So, today when Najah called and invited me to a open house/marketing event at the Arts Myths Gallery, I said yes. I went armed with business cards and a small gift basket of chocolates. In exchange, I got a free mask, a candle and a full sunflower seed pod. And a sample salt scrub and body lotion from the Arbonne salesperson who was participating. So, score. But never mind about that.
Tiffany is an amazing artist. Check out the small sample on her website: The small shop is filled with masks, hats, hair ornaments, cloaks, clothing, scarves, jewelry - all designed to invoke the wild, magickal creature within us. The studio is behind the shop - it was tidied up for the event, but everywhere were feathers, beads, silks, velvets, leather, flowers, gorgeous paintings of goddesses, hanging plants.......if you are in Denver, go see them.
Everything I tried on evoked a hidden self. Wild and passionate, regal and lethal, demonic, favorite - a small mask, iridescent turquoise blue, with small, wave-like twirlies and a diadem of peacock feather. Small spills of twinkly beads. It was beautiful. Wearing it, I felt beautiful. Alluring. Worthy.
A more wonderful feeling than I get from the mask I wear everyday.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Wine, slow cookers and cake

Beouf Bourguinon - beef with carrots, onions, mushrooms, garlic, thyme and wine. Burgundy wine. Have you tried to find Burgundy at the liquor store? Yeah, no.
So I was wandering, carrying two bags of groceries and a twelve pack of toilet tissue, looking for Burgundy. The shopkeeper came over to help. He didn't look like a wine guy. Crewcut, piercings, celtic necklace, black teeshirt, Doc Martens, long black apron..... Another lesson in not judging. He knows wine. He explained that the Burgundy wine is made from Pinot Noir grapes, that the wine from the Burgundy region of France is priced way out of the reach of most people, and that Pinot Noirs from other parts of the world are really good. He asked my price range and steered me toward Parker Station 2006; he said it was the most 'drinkable' wine in the price range. He wished me luck with the recipe. If he didn't smell like a smoker I might take him some. The wine is certainly tasty. One bottle provides the two cups for the stew and one generous tumbler for the cook. It's a bit on the tannic side, (it sort of curdles the edges of my tongue) but I like it.
And I needed a glass of wine with this recipe. Every ingredient needs to be browned, sauteed or simmered before going into the slowcooker for 8-10 hours. So it's simmering overnight. Because trying to pull this off before going to work is just not going to happen.
Total change of subject - go to Let the schadenfreude begin.