Monday, December 16, 2013

Kombucha SCOBY

A quart jar full of SCOBY babies I can't throw away. It turns a cup of sugar tea into Kombucha overnight!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

New electrons, just in time.

Recycled picture, but perfect for the last six months.

I have a new computer. As I scrambled to get set up and learn the new (to me) iOs for my new iThings I discovered that my Google Reader needed rescuing ASAP! I think I have accomplished that with Flipboard.

I am delighted and astonished to see that I still have 17 followers! This makes me happy beyond the appropriate proportion, but that's the truth.  Thank you all you faithful, or sleeping, readers. I've missed reading you all and writing here so much.

My way of facing the breakdown of the device I once lived completely without was to just... Try it old school. There were things to learn from the experience. It was probably good for me.

Some clown is spamming one of my comment sections. I'll fix it as soon as I figure out how. I thrive on your comment, but not on his shoe ads.
I'll stick to the path.  It's really all I can do anyway.  Since I lost EVERY SINGLE THING from my old hard drive (I heard you whisper backup... I heard you) I am beginning with only the tiny cache of pictures I had shared here. My little phone was also rescued the same week, a few contacts saved, not many.  I didn't have my sister Glenda's number, but it popped into my head from when I used to have to dial it-11 years ago!  How amazing. If you ever had my number, which is the same , call me and leave your data in a message. That way I will build up a new and better lists. 

Remarkably, all my recent client numbers transferred. I don't know what that means, but it was a relief.  Not having loads of new clients in the last year helped, but that is what made my new computer purchase take so long too.

In other awesome news, I went to France. Too much more on that to come. 

And the raisin-bran stealing dog is still alive. Astonishing. That other cabinet door open in the picture below is for cooking pots and liquor. She didn't need either of those, it seems.

Friday, March 8, 2013

E- Eggs for Ostara

I colored eggs with lots of different natural dyes last year, some worked well, some did not.

This year I gave up on spinach, carrot and turmeric and made eggs colored with the things that worked best last year.

Black tea.

Black walnut hulls.

Onion Skins.

And my favorite:

Red cabbage!

This makes a beautiful dark purple blue that becomes bluer as it sits overnight. The high ph of the eggshell turns it a gorgeous shade of blue. Here is how I did it:

Chop up half a red cabbage from the grocery. put it in enough water to cover. boil one hour, adding water to keep it covered. 
Magic floating egg cartons!
Strain the pale purple chopped cabbage from the dark water. I served my cooked cabbage for dinner with vinegar and sugar and black pepper. 

The water looks really dark but it takes a long time to color the eggs.

Cool the liquid and add raw white eggs and 1/2 tsp salt. Boil the eggs the same way you make hard boiled eggs. remove the pot from the heat, add 1 tbsp vinegar and leave in the water overnight. If you plan to eat the eggs, do this overnight int he fridge.
When you remove the eggs from the vinegar water they will be purplish but  in the air they will become bluer.
Eggs in cabbage vinegar water.
I love the reflection .

Voila! Gorgeous eggs.  The lighter blue ones were cooked in the same water the next day. I bet I could have made another batch in that water, but I needed the pot.

Really big beets. No dice.

Beets were disappointing. They stained me, the counter, spoon and cutting board red but the eggs came out beige! I tried twice, because I am stubborn. I recolored those eggs with more onion skins.

Dilute onion skin water- maybe yellow?

The four red and gold ones at the top of the egg box and all of the ones in the box to the right were colored with the skins from one bag of yellow onions. Boiled in the colored water and then soaked overnight, they are almost red, especially if you begin with brown eggs!

The pale greenish ones are calendula flower petals- unimpresive to me. I overdyed two of those in cabbage water- they are army green.

Another way to decorate eggs is the PA Deutsche traditional scratched design. It is an art that began in Europe and came here in the 18th Century, but has nearly died out now.

You can see one I began working on in the bowl of really dark colored eggs I made just for scratching. Black tea or walnut hulls for browns, cabbage for the navy blue-black ones, the red are onion skin.

Scratched eggs will be for another post, but that is why I made the very dark colored eggs.
It's snowing right now, but I am going camping tomorrow and bringing these to the 18th C farm we are staying on. I will scratch them with traditional 18th C patterns representing power and blessings of the returning Spring. There are a few extant examples and a few reports of the work, but several  19th C newspaper photographs and reports of family eggs handed down 3 generations. The ones thought to bestow power or blessings were traditionally not kept but broken and buried when the work was done. 

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Born to be bad.

Brand new box of raisin bran flake cereal. In a 15 lb Dachshund dog. The entire box. Wow.

There are also pieces of the cabinet she chewed on the floor, the latch is still latched, she just somehow got the box edge and pulled it out and removed the inner bag.

Sadly, the raisins in any raisin bran cereal are toxic to dogs. Zambonie my darling is in the hospital until Saturday morning with activated charcoal and IV fluids and a catheter.  We are hoping to help offset the poison and save her kidneys. I am a sad dog mommy today.

little labyrinth

For my friend Poppy at Book of Shadows and Blessings.

Friday, March 1, 2013

E- Ellen Dugan Garden Witch

Ellen Dugan's books are a great inspiration to me and they are beautiful and thoughtfully written.  If you haven't checked her out, then do!

She published the Witches Tarot through Llewellyn Worldwide.

Pretty and educational!

Her Garden Herbal is one of my favorite books, and her other garden witchcraft books are wonderful too!

Check out Ellen' site at: Ellen's pages and blog she is my E choice for the Pagan Blog Project.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Rock Cairns

From Ye Journal of Mad Anne Bailey, Frontier Heroine:

A Letter!

"27 March 
Dearest Anne,

Whilst traveling in the far west I had the fortune to travel a pathway defined by rock cairns. These wonders of western travel are created by travelers stacking rocks one upon another. They are a symbol to guide those who would otherwise not know the way. 
Each magnificent rock cairn is devised by the strength and knowledge of many, the power of one, and a careful balance of similar but differing objects..."

More of Anne's Journal at the link above. I love this woman and admire the woman of her portrayal.

and I love these words:
By the strength and knowledge of many, the power of one, and a careful balance of similar but differing objects...
Isn't that how we cast!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

After we learn, what do we DO?

After the learning, the challenge is to use, incorporate, combine, make something new, at least make something out of your own hands and heart, something personal, perfectly suited to you and your needs, using your own powers of adding, subtracting and incorporating; in short: creating.
Not just making. 

The quote above is by from Woven Thoughts by a weaver called Sara Lamb. I sat down with my morning coffee to read the first blog in my feed today and really paid little attention to the header (sorry Sara, it was early). It struck me as I read how important these words are for our approach to daily spiritual practice and larger acts of witchcraft or power. Study does really not add things to our lives- just to our heads.  The challenge of combining what we now do with what we might do is what brings our acts into the realm of personal and "perfectly suited to our needs".
Hat4. Sara Lamb 

Also, the pictures were gorgeous!

I was surprised then near the end of her post to realize that this post is about the making of woven artworks, NOT acts of spiritual enrichment!

These thoughts on learning new things and always striving to understand them but incorporate experience, once, twice... over and over into your practice and make each act of creation your own; each act of trying again a celebration of the last act really moved me.

They have stayed with me all morning, so I am sharing them with you as a weaver of spirit as well as cloth.

Sara Lamb is the author of the book Woven Treasures: One-of-a-Kind Bags with Folk Weaving Techniques by Interweave Press, and a DVD called Spinning Silk, also by Interweave Press. Her work is beautiful and her words are very inspiring.

Friday, February 22, 2013

The historical record

Japanese shibori fabric.  Precise tied resist.

Recently, I had the chance to reply to a friend who thought that it was vain to label her beautiful woven work with her name. I couldn't disagree more!
Kuba cloth called Kasai velvet, literally woven
 CASH in Zaire.

I am very interested in the history of textiles in several parts in Asia, Africa, the northern Americas and of course I often study how Europe influenced all of these cultures and their textile practices.

As a hobbiest, I am what is properly called a "living historian" but more popularly: a colonial re-enactor. We strive to get things as close to correct for the period as possible so that merely by looking visitors to our encampments and demonstrations can learn.

As a living historian, I (and others in my club) try to spend short periods actually living under colonial conditions as closely as we can represent them for the public. I do time studies on spinning, linen processing and  weaving and try to extrapolate how valuable a piece of cloth was to a farm household... you get the idea.
Tape weaving with linen thread on a reproduction 18th Century tape loom.

I am delighted to hear that your Aunt labeled her weaving with her own name- and Aunt Marvel was certainly the right name for her!! I'm glad you are doing the same. Because so much of the work of women was not taxed or marked in account books, the value of their contributions to the economies of the past (and today) are lost (read the diary of Martha Ballard in A Midwife's Tale by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich to get an idea of how important weaving was to a town's economy and how it was only peripherally recorded in the account books as raw materials ordered).

When you get your next set of labels made, may I suggest that you add your maiden name if Peterson is not it? Quilt makers have adopted this notion and it makes tracing an artist's contributions so much easier then we have two family names to search!

You are not vain, you are contributing to the historical record!!

D- Deer

Can you find two deer in this picture?
I see deer in my yard in the morning because I live in their bedroom.  The dogs look our the large glass doors in the back (through which these pictures were taken) and bark.  And bark and bark and bark.  Deer are smarter than dogs, they look up but soon go back to sleep or have a snack.

Left deer.
I love that they visit me and that they can sleep late because they can't be hunted here so near my house.

I have no objection to hunting though. I have some friends who are pagans AND hunters, and their approach to taking a deer is beautiful, sound and respectful.

Right deer. You can tell she is laughing at the dogs wigging out by my feet.
At least one of them makes offerings to Diana at his place of worship near a small spring. She is ever present with him as he hunts and his offerings of thanks to her this year were truly moving. My friend is a Longhunter, he hunts with a flintlock and so he has one shot and one charge of gunpowder to spend. His skill and patience have to do the rest. Longhunter feels that this deer gives up her life for the hunt to continue and to help keep the connection between the God and the Wood strong.  Some of his prize is returned to the ground before any is consumed.

I have found that I can be both proud and saddened when an animal gives its life for my use.

Here in PA, a lot of jobs depend on the hunting activities. Deer is good food and oh, a bunch of other things...  I'm not meaning to sell you on hunting- if it is not for you I respect your choice to steward the earth in a different way very much.

What I AM meaning to do is represent deer as a path to appreciating the natural world around us.

Deer represent so many good things- they are not my totem animal (so far...) but they are wonderful herbalists- said to lead Native Americans to healing plants and as we can see, they are creative and frugal and good at blending in when needed.  Deer are swift, fertile and live efficiently- all qualities I admire and don't mind being reminded of!  Spiritually, they are harmonious and balanced and interact well with others.  They represent the rut in the Midsummer fertility festivals- that is where we get the term Stag Party!  A deer-like man adorned with an antler crown and possessing some of these qualities would be a good choice to end your chase and mate with at Beltane!

I don't live in the middle of nowhere, my area is solid suburbs. These deer live in 20 foot wide by 600 foot long strips between backyards, occasional empty acres in our town and the wooded areas along the highway.  PEOPLE have crowded them until they have been squiched into that space.  A lot of them don't make it under these circumstances, but I am grateful for the ones who show up and share themselves with us.
I will need to fortify our garden beds around my circle garden with a fence if I want to grown anything other than herbs, because These Gals used my garden as a salad bar last summer.  They even ate the hot peppers!
Garden raiders or not, I look forward to them every morning.
Deer need salad too!
Zambonie (@Zambonieknows) the feathered white Dachshund  takes a break from barking at deer to
practice a  little sympathetic magic.  Her belief in this position is very strong.
  "I can roll up in a ball and the deer will come lay here with me. Please stop typing and take my picture."
Read about other notions and pagan practices that begin with the letter D at the Pagan Blog Project.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

I need 100 compliments

Rant warning:  I'm pretty sure I'm all out of placid today.

I am lucky, and I know it. I have my sister, Glenda the Good Witch, to help me navigate the waters as we try to move my fairly sick Mom to a retirement place.  So many people have to deal with the adjustments, the packing , the cleaning and property sale issues along with the financial planning and forecasting issues.  I have only to do the logistics, Glenda will handle the money things.  I am lucky.

I am lucky.
 I am Lucky
  I am LUCKY.

I. don't. feel. lucky. I feel furious and want to spew my crabbiness all over my lovely blog friends.

I would try spewing on strangers, but it's hard to make them sit still for this sort of thing.

I'm crabby because I'm sad, it's hard to shepherd anyone through such a major transition and I know I'm not alone, but after one day of looking at places I think:

I am overwhelmed.  I am a bad daughter; This is not about me. I only have to drive and smile, I need to suck it up. My mom really should have planned or saved or something. Who the hell is going to pack this whole place?  I do not deserve to be snapped at just because she is Tired - Scared - needs a drink - not in charge - in denial.

Do I seem overwhelmed?  I meant to mention, O-Ver-Whelmed.  In case I forgot.

So... my story is nothing new. Complicated relationship with Mom who has always acted like drinking and pretending will make things turn out all right. Not a dime saved because she has been living beyond her means.  For twenty years.  I have tried to address this problem, also for twenty years, only to be shot down and called (mild) names by my sibling and mom who would like to pretend.

Meanwhile, I save like an ant. Plan for my future. Now I am going to go through the misery of finding a way to grow old without a plan or money -even though I am the ant- on behalf of Mom who would still like to look at 2 bedroom apartments with granite counter tops and options to add nursing assistance!  Much nicer than my vintage 1952 kitchen. Much.

Augh. There is not answer. I know that. Just feel my pain and pay me a compliment.  Bearded Bob has already started.  At 3pm today he texted me: "You are a good daughter".

Boy, I love that bearded guy.

The Ritual of My Morning Cup

I took my favorite coffee cup and made rings of black coffee.
I have a real eagerness to get to the coffee part of my morning.  I'll even get up early so that I have an extra half hour to sit and do nothing but cradle the cup in my hands and complete my morning coffee ritual.

I am not even so particular about having the perfect cup- but I AM particular about not cooking, talking or working on anything while I have my coffee.  

I like to go outside and sit. Just sit and look and listen to the birds.

The second part of the background was adding the allover dashes with a brown pencil and a wash of coffee 
all over everywhere but the coffee circles.  Next came the pink paint and a sketch of the coffee cup.  This is not my actual cup, which is a huge deep mug. 
And why not pink steam?

I'm not a big fan of symmetry, but I like balance.
Opposite the cup: Pink framed spoon.
(yellow bleed through from another page will be dealt with!)

I might light a candle or some incense if I can't get outside.  Sometimes there is a little dog who needs to sit and meditate with me.  

The key thing during coffee time is not to plan for the day. No mental packing of paperwork, review of lesson plans or figuring out what to put in the crock pot.

I joke about sitting without a thought in my head sometimes, but it actually takes quite a lot of discipline to just sit in one place for half and hour and be in the moment.  

Meditation is not hard to learn, but frequent practice is the key to getting the most from it.

This journal entry was a part of the Pagan Art Journal Project about using mundane activity as ritual.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

What makes a good Spiritual Teacher?

This week's prompt for the Pagan Art Journal Project is about good qualities in a spiritual teacher.

This one really made me think- I had formal religious training as a child but also knew a mountain woman who taught me all kinds of plant and spirit lore as well as a good deal of Greek mythology in little plays and skits she would write for the local kids to put on at the library in the summer.

I sought self-guided religious exploration in my twenties and then did some formal study to learn about pre-christian texts and about Jewish religious ritual. I have long studied goddess centered icons, worship and themes to guide my artistic creations.  I've also made art based on some pretty complex natural mathematical constructs. The longer I sought, the farther back in history I seemed to study.

The more independent my orthodoxy, the more I felt able to connect with the divine. I was free to try a new practice, adopt or invent a ritual. Knowing all of the academic information is certainly valuable to me but I have discovered that it takes plain old DOING to experience a heightened connection with the power of nature.  Once I felt that in a ritual way I began working on feeling that connection (raising the power, if you will) with fewer and fewer trappings of ritual.

The best spiritual teachers I have had are the ones who followed up with me yet offered a relationship driven by my curiosity and not by a set curriculum.  The worst teachers for me have been those who, because of their own style or the size of the group they needed to teach, followed a plan of a parcel of information out for us to absorb at a time with little chance for feedback and no opportunity for practical experience.

A perfect example of a wonderful teacher is a thunderstorm, If I can go outside and feel the wild and free energy sweeping in, swirling around and climaxing- then nature is teaching me. Getting feedback from me and letting me take in only as much as I can handle each time.

I read well researched and historic  texts and modern criticisms of them, still, I like to do and touch when it comes to spiritual learning. I know I get more out of the experiences because of the study on paper than I have done; the two go hand in hand.
I used a cardboard roll to stamp gesso shapes all over, brushed 3 colors of acrylic over the dry gesso and rubbed some off immediately.  Then I sanded the gesso to expose the white textured shapes and added the lettering.

Friday, February 15, 2013

D- Divine using Amulets of the Goddess

On the whole, I don't think I want to know the future.  I want to arrive at the future with my illusions that I have many paths open to me at all times intact.
My very used, painted, stained and annotated amulets.
Today's draw. 
My very favorite way to divine my path, short or long term, is using my altered Amulets of the Goddess.  I keep them in a plain white drawstring pouch and spent lots of afternoons over a few years staining, coloring on, painting and distressing the resin tiles.  Eventually I wrote some notes about their historic and folkloric significance on the back along with their magical meanings.  They are heavy for their size and a draw of only three gives me plenty to think about.  I draw and spread them in the same way as I learned to use Tarot.
The notes on the back of each of today's tiles.

These little tiles of resin were sold in a pack as an
oracular device. One third are Goddess images.

The thing for which I find divination tools so handy is the alert they offer to possibility.  Just as I feel my dreams call to my attention the things I need to work out or work on, I feel that my interpretation of divination prompts reveals to me what I need to bring to the front and think about.

In other words, what I divine is already what is within me, I just need some guidance to point me in the right direction.

That doesn't mean I can't be surprised! Some-times I'm surprised or quite mystified by what I draw or read as divination.

One third are animal images.
The book has very good information
about the historic and folkloric meanings of each image.

There are times when I just store the info, or note it in my BOS, for later digestion.

The thing is, I can't remember a time when I found a divination to be utterly useless forever.  I find when I look back on ones I jotted down in mystery that even they applied to my experience after time passed.

I had a wonderful time revisiting these tiles over many years and adding more and more to them as I learned more and the images became more meaningful to me.

By the time I had colored and applied a paste wax coating to all of them, I knew the notes on the back pretty well.

When another sees them though, the notes come in quite handy as they allow the seeker to bring his own interpretation to the draw without my voice involved.

I guess I should say that although I have done divination for others, I think it is for them to interpret how the reading applies to, leads or warns them.  I don't do it often either.  I just think I have other strengths to offer.

Thanks to Nanlt at Flickr for the photos of the plain tiles and the book cover.