"The flow of creativity feels like an avalanche of joy and wonder. Being open to that possibility creates connections with everything." - Feline Dreamers

Monday, October 31, 2011

NaBloPoMo Success!

Huzzah! I did it! Even through a very busy and active month, I posted here every day! It wasn't really a burden. I had fun. I needed to be very conscious about remembering to post, but perhaps now, 31 days later, it's become a habit. We'll see how that goes. I hope you've enjoyed reading about my life and my thoughts.

The NaBloPoMo theme was "between," and that's where I am right now. It is Samhain, and thus begins the darkest time of the year. The space between Samhain and Yule is time that I set aside for renewal and a particularly strong focus on my inner life. Over the course of the next couple days I'll refine what that will look like, this time around. I know I'm going to do my usual sugar fast, starting tomorrow. But there will no doubt be other intentions to focus on during this between time.

For tonight, we've figured out our Halloween plan. Dryst is going to the zombie walk and movie viewing with his friends. ElvenTiger is going to become Wednesday Addams once again, and do some trick-or-treating. Then we'll head over to Mom's for some soup, treats, and our Monday night viewing of Dancing with the Stars. It'll be fun and mellow and suits me just fine. Happy Halloween and Blessed Samhain!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Start Turning Inward

The final Dark Follies show last night went very well, and we ended our run with a group photo session and then going out for a drink together, as a troupe. I'm thankful to be working and playing with such wonderful folks! After that, even though we were having a big snowstorm, we went to the annual Halloween party of some friends. I had a fabulous time! When the electricity went out, the hosts lit candles and we all stayed a while longer before venturing home. The roads were messy, but we just drove slowly and our trusty Subaru got us home safe. Our electricity was down too, but we were headed to bed anyway.

We got up around mid-morning when the lights (and heat) came back on. I took a delicious hot shower, and Quester made us all a big brunch around noontime.

The plan for today was to head to some friends' place this evening for a beautiful and intense (and I know this because I was in on the planning) Samhain ritual. Mother Nature had different ideas. The ritual was planned for outdoor space, and with six inches of wet mushy snow, plus the re-freezing of everything tonight, it was decided to cancel the event. I think it was a wise choice.

And thus my day has been one of doing some house-tidying, making a big batch of salsa, playing Set and Skip-Bo, and getting some quiet relaxation time. I think after I finish this entry, I'm going to take a nap (or at least lie down and read) while the guys are watching football.

My Freaking Busy month is waning, as is the year. The moon is waxing, and the energy it brings me is the impetus to turn inward once again, to enrich my connection with the heart of things. Over the next three nights, I'll take time to honor my ancestors, release what I no longer need, and divine my new course, all things we had planned to focus on in our group ritual. We can try again next year to share the Work with others, and in the meantime I'm happy here at home, nestling down into Samhain-tide. Many blessings to you and yours!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Eye of the Storm

I'm sitting here at the laptop with my cup of decaf chai tea (with soymilk and honey, mmmm) and taking a few moments to write today's blog. I'm really psyched that I've almost made it to the end of the month, and have posted every day! Especially given the fact that I've been so very busy. It's been fun, though! And at least one person has said that she hopes I'll continue to post every day (or at least close to that). We'll see what happens.

After this we're off to the final Dark Follies show. It's been so much fun! We have some friends coming tonight to see it, plus a cast party afterwards. Apparently we might get some (more) snow tonight. That's OK, the show must go on! I'm tired, but not exhausted. I think I've been pacing myself pretty well. I'm not one of those people with vast amounts of energy (activity-wise), but I have very good endurance and stamina.

Our vending at the Gorham Art Fair (for the Maine Wholeschoolers) went well today. Tomorrow morning I can sleep in (oh joy!!!) and then have time to prepare for the lovely ritual I'm helping lead. And next week will be a lot more reasonable as far as commitments and running around goes. I'm pretty pleased, overall, and hope you all have a lovely evening.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Baking Day

Well, it's baking day today around the homestead. We got snow last night and now it's sunny, but chilly, so it'll be nice to have the oven going. I did a big kitchen cleanup this morning. I may have been letting things go just a bit, having been Freaking Busy (a friend gave me this official term) for the past, well, let's just say many days. We also went to the grocery store to stock up on baking supplies.

BlackLion is now working on his latest round of sourdough bread. He's very pleased with the starter that our chef friend gave him, and has been feeding it assiduously. He even gave some to another friend, so the yumminess is spreading! Anyway, he's making four loaves today, two for the household and two to sell at the bake sale.

What bake sale, you may ask? Well, the Maine Wholeschoolers will be offering all kinds of baked goodies tomorrow at the Gorham Art Fair. We'll also be providing sandwiches for lunch. This is our biggest fundraiser of the year. This afternoon, ElvenTiger will be making her prize-winning Oatmeal Chocolate- and Butterscotch-Chip cookies. They are literally prizewinners, at last year's Cumberland County Fair. Plus they're delicious.

I'm going to make some other kind of baked good as well. I haven't decided yet - I stocked up on a bunch of baking supplies, so I could leave my options open until the last minute. I'm thinking either no-bake cookies or something that combines peanut butter and chocolate.

Oh, and we're also going to make some neo-American chop suey for dinner, before we head off to the Dark Follies show. It's basically the vegetarian version of that dish, with veggie burger crumble in place of the hamburger. The rest of the ingredients are standard, but yummy: macaroni, sweet peppers, onions, tomatoes, some spices. It's BlackLion's recipe, and we like it, especially when we're on the go and can make it a bit ahead of time and let folks munch when they're ready.

I think I'd better pick a recipe. It's almost my turn for the kitchen!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Recovering Perfectionist

Last night, after a fun and successful dress rehearsal for the show I'm in, I dreamed I could fly. It was the most vivid and exhilarating flying dream I can ever remember (and I don't have a lot of them). It felt great, like I was soaring above it all, having a fantastic time, trusting myself to the air currents and my amazing flying powers.

The kids both stayed overnight at our friend's house (the awesome one who hosts the homeschool group week after week after week) last night after the Halloween party. So I was a bit relaxed about getting to the homeschool co-op today, especially since it was the end-of-term review and party.

BlackLion and I got on the road by 10am, which is when the event starts. I said to him, knowing that we still needed to stop and get gas, "it's okay if we're late, right?" His reply was, "well, you're usually the one who's worried about that kind of stuff." "Oh. Well, I'm okay with it. Right?"

My phone rings. It's ElvenTiger, calling on her friend's cell phone from the co-op, and she wants to know where I am, and if I have her baskets (which she made during basket-weaving class). I do have them, but I'm still just leaving. She says they're about to show them off, and I realize I won't get there in time. Cringe.

We stop at the store, and while BlackLion pumps the gas, I pull out my planner and take a look, just to make sure I'm on track. Most of my stuff is on our online Google calendar, but I also have a paper planner that I can take along (my ancient cell phone won't do that stuff. It's from, like, 2006. Yes, really). I realize that Tuesday was my parents' wedding anniversary, and I forgot to send them a card, or even wish them a happy day. Even though I did talk with my Mom that day. Cringe again.

"Wow," I quip, "I'm in trouble with both generations! What a rebel!" Of course, there's no trouble. I call my Mom, and she's fine with it. She tells me my brother didn't call that day, either. "Well," I tell her, "but he's the prodigal son, and I'm supposed to be the good one." Laughing at myself and all the pressure I put on myself to be perfect. And aside from an eye roll, ElvenTiger doesn't seem to mind that her baskets arrive late, and as they sit on the table all day, they do get lots of admiring comments from other Moms.

As I tell a group of the co-op Moms at lunchtime, when we sit chatting about all sorts of interesting things, I'm a recovering perfectionist. We all commiserate on feeling that way. Many women do. We can get 25 compliments and one mean-sounding comment, and we'll remember the negative one. Why? We want to fix it all, have our lives be perfect...or at least appear that way to all our acquaintances and colleagues. But that's what keeps us distant from each other, at times. It's when we get real, admit our fears and flaws and failures, that we can empathize and really feel for each other. That's when friendships are made or cemented.

And trying to be perfect is often just a recipe for stress. Face it, no one can be all things to all people, not even (or perhaps especially not) our kids and our parents. That's why I've given up perfectionism. It's when we let go that we can really soar. I'm now a recovering perfectionist. How about you?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Cake of the Month: October

This month, ElvenTiger, BlackLion, and I collaborated on the cake. This morning BlackLion and I baked a chocolate layer cake and a batch of pumpkin chocolate-chip cupcakes. Then I made some frosting, and ElvenTiger and I did the decorating for the Graveyard Cake. This creepy cake is for tonight's Maine Wholeschoolers' Halloween party. Here it is!

I also frosted the cupcakes, which are for tomorrow's homeschool co-op Autumn Party. I didn't color or decorate these because, with so many families in the co-op, there are lots of different food allergies and sensitivities. But I must say, they taste delicious. The frosting is a simple vanilla frosting. These are also dairy-free, although they do have eggs in them.

Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Evolution of Halloween

It's nearly Halloween, also known as Samhain, and today we've been finishing up some of our preparations. We're a Pagan family, and we've always celebrated the secular Halloween as well as our spiritual observance of Samhain. Both of these have been shifting and changing a bit over the past couple of years, although with some of our old traditions still intact.

For Halloween, since the kids were small we've taken them trick-or-treating, usually with friends. Now they're getting older, and are on the border of perhaps growing out of it. Last year we drove them to a nearby town with a suburban area where they and their friends could all walk around together, without parents. Four of us Moms hung out together in a local restaurant and chatted about how strange it was not to be walking around with them anymore. This coming Monday's plans are still ambiguous, and I'm just waiting to see what, if anything, they'll want to do.

The focus now is the annual Halloween party that our homeschool group puts on. There are costumes, yes, and prizes, and lots of yummy food, and sometimes even a dance party. Our friends who host it are great about decorating their house elaborately. Kids and adults both dress up and enjoy hanging out together. Today we went out to get a few last-minute items we needed for our costumes. ElvenTiger is going as Wednesday Addams from the Addams Family, from the movies (she loves the original show, but Wednesday is closer to ElvenTiger's own age in the second movie). Dryst is going to be Charlie Sheen. Yup, really. Teenagers...

For Samhain, we either host or attend a ritual, often focused on honoring our ancestors. This year BlackLion and I are helping co-lead a ritual at the home of some dear friends. Quester, Ocean Mouse, and ElvenTiger will all be attending, as will some other friends who we've done magickal work with in the past. Dryst isn't sure if he wants to go. There won't be many (or perhaps any) people his own age there, and recently that's who he wants to hang out with. I don't think he's focused on his spirituality right now, and that's fine. He's going through a lot hormonal changes, and figuring out who he is, especially with his peers.

It's interesting and fun to see the evolution of the holidays in our family as the kids grow up. I was just saying to my Mom last night how fun it was to buy toys for the kids for Yule and Christmas when they were younger, and that we don't really get to do that anymore. But there are new traditions to explore, and some old ones that we all still enjoy. Happy Halloween and Blessed Samhain to you!

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Spirits of Vaudeville

BlackLion and I are performing this week with the Dark Follies. We'll be part of a Halloween-themed show called "The Spirits of Vaudeville," at Lucid Stage in Portland this Thursday through Saturday evenings (we have to miss the Saturday matinee due to a previous commitment).

We'll be drumming with them as usual, but we'll also be appearing in our...ahem...feline forms. Oh yes, we're cats!

If you're local to the southern Maine area, click here to find out about ticket information. It's a very reasonable price and promises to be a really fun show! Come check it out!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Calm in the Chaos

As you may be able to tell from yesterday's post, we're having a very busy October! Sometimes when I get into the midst of a busy time, I get stressed out about making sure to get everything done, and I don't feel grounded. This time, though, at least so far, I'm feeling really great and enjoying just being part of the flow of events.

I think part of it is because I knew ahead of time that this was going to be a crazy time period, and prepared myself. We keep a Google calendar for our family, to keep track of all our events and appointments and plans. I look at October, packed full of stuff, and then flip to the November page and give a sigh of relief. Not that we won't have things to do next month, but it's certainly a bit calmer than this one, with more room to breathe. Another part of my calm is my recent transformation, the lessons I've been learning about how much better my life is when I go with the flow. Rather than worrying about the next moment, or hour, or day, I enjoy the present moment and let things unfold.

Perhaps because I'm not worried or anxious, things seem to be running smoothly, too. Yesterday morning I was supposed to go to a cake decorating class, but on Friday they called to say it was going to be postponed. So that gave me a chance to have a more relaxed morning, and center myself before jumping into the day. I'm feeling calm in the sometimes chaotic waters of daily life, and most importantly, I'm having fun.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

ElvenTiger's Week

I've mentioned before how my daughter ElvenTiger, who is 12, isn't really academically inclined. By this I mean that she's not the type to learn by sitting and doing worksheets or writing reports, although she has done those things. However, she does love to learn, and she's always learning new things. Her preferred style of learning is hands-on, active, and relevant to her life.

So I thought I'd give a glimpse of the types of things she does by talking about what she's been up to this week. Monday we had a birthday party for her Dad and Grampa. ElvenTiger helped me make the veggie pot pie, including the crust. We ran some errands while her brother was at soccer practice, and she chose and purchased a gift for her Dad from money she had earned doing some yard work for her Grammy. We went to the party and spent time with family. We also did our usual Monday ritual of watching "Dancing With the Stars" and critiquing the dances.

Tuesday was a quieter day. On her own time, ElvenTiger has been knitting, watching "The Addams Family" on Netflix, getting her Halloween costume ready, reading to me, and playing outdoors.

Wednesday was our weekly homeschool group. ElvenTiger not only hung out with her friends, but also went to an improv theater class with some of them. She got to participate in the class, and had a fun time. When they all came back, we played some dominoes and chatted. She also did artwork, making bookmarks with a friend. She stayed overnight with her friend and they did some more work on their costumes.

Thursday is the day for the new homeschool co-op gathering. ElvenTiger made a beautiful small basket in her basket-weaving class. She hung out with friends at lunch, and then in cooking class she learned to make four different kinds of cheese. She usually brings her knitting, and has helped a new friend with her knitting projects as well.

On Friday ElvenTiger and BlackLion went on a mushroom foraging expedition with a bunch of other homeschool families. A mycologist came and taught them about the different types of fungus they had gathered. ElvenTiger found a type of mushroom that glows in the dark! After that she had soccer practice. In the evening we had a fire, which she enjoyed with her Dad, and later we listened to jazz and played some Skip-Bo.

Today we went to a cemetery tour that my Mom was hosting. While Mom made a speech about the family who was buried there and their history (it was a small cemetery on a local farm), ElvenTiger, BlackLion and I provided the atmosphere. We dressed up in costume and walked around in the background, as if we were the ghosts of the family. We put our improv skills to use, and also provided some music, with drum, flute, and voice. It was fun, and we learned local history while helping out the local historical society.

Now we're off to ElvenTiger's soccer playoff game. Of course, woven in and around all this activity is a bunch of other stuff, including lots of conversations about a wide variety of topics. ElvenTiger plans to make some applesauce this weekend, from some local apples we were given. We have a family potluck tomorrow, as well as more soccer. Life is full and rich and educational...and fun! I hope you've enjoyed this glimpse into the life of an unschooled 12-year-old. Now I'm off to chauffeur her to the game!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Inanna, Sisters in Rhythm

My Mom and I went to a wonderful concert tonight. The performers were Inanna - definitely check out their website if you've never heard of (or heard) them. We've seen them before, most notably in 2004 just after my Mom got out of rehab after her major car accident. I remember that show particularly because Mom was still in a wheelchair then, and the concert was outdoors at an orchard, so I had to wheel her up the hill and through the grass. The drumming they do is so healing, though, it was definitely worth it.

Tonight's show was superb, as always. They are so inspiring! I love that they focus on encouraging women to play drums. And their new compositions are lovely - a bit more meditative and spiritual. Though they also played some of their upbeat get-you-dancing tunes, of course.

They are finishing up a new CD and are doing a Kickstarter campaign (the details are on their website) to help them raise money to finish it. If you haven't heard of Kickstarter (aren't I just a font of information tonight?), it's a very cool way for groups to raise funds (though, fair warning, there is apparently some controversy about how they choose their projects). That was how Starhawk raised the initial funds to get started with making her wonderful novel The Fifth Sacred Thing into a movie. But I digress. Check out Inanna, and support them. You can get a CD, be blessed in their prayers, wear some of their beautiful clothing that one of the members creates, or any number of other cool things, just for helping out. Drum on!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Hardy Girls, Healthy Women

Last night I attended a gathering of about a dozen homeschooling Moms who are interested in learning more about empowering their pre-teen and teen daughters. It was held at the lovely home of a woman I'd "met" online. She runs an e-mail list for homeschoolers in my area (a great resource), and she's also a devoted reader and fan of this blog (which, dear readers, is very flattering indeed!). And, in one of those "Maine really is a small state" moments, it turns out that I worked with her brother for years! They're both smart, witty, kind, and really fun folks.

Anyway, she hosted a talk by a young woman named Megan from Hardy Girls, Healthy Women (HGHW), a group founded by author and activist Dr. Lyn Mikel Brown. It's based in Waterville, Maine. HGHW has been around for 11 years now, and their mission is to empower girls to be strong and confident in the face of a mainstream culture that urges them to focus primarily on their looks and the latest fashions.

The first part of the talk was sobering and disturbing. Despite the feminist activism of the past 40 years, some things are getting worse for girls and women. Recent research by the American Psychological Association shows in detail how the sexualization of girls in the media is increasing, and the damaging effects it has on their still-forming world view and self-esteem.

The empowering part was that research also demonstrates how these negative effects can be dissipated when girls learn to think critically about media images and gender stereotypes. This is particularly so when they work together with peers and with mentors close to their own age. HGHW has a whole list of programs that put girls together in groups (run by these same girls, and young women a bit older), not only to help them understand and deal with these cultural biases, but also to empower them to become activists themselves and work to make changes in their communities. They also have a whole lot of fun in the process.

It looks like the hostess of last night's gathering, who is very involved with HGHW, will be starting a group for girls ages 11-14 (or so), and I'm going to see if it's something that ElvenTiger and her friends would enjoy. She's adapting it a bit from the usual school-based programs, so it will be more useful to homeschoolers. The program will most likely be art-based, which is right up the girls' alley.

I'm so thankful I went to this event, not only because this is valuable and fascinating work, but also to finally meet the hostess in "real life." There were four or five of us Moms in attendance who are part of the new Thursday homeschool co-op, too, including the Mom of one of ElvenTiger's new friends, so that was cool. I'm also grateful for the work that Megan and the others at HGHW are doing. I've included some links in this post, in case you want to check it out for yourself and the young women in your life.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

October Soup

Did you ever have one of those days when you have to make some food to take to an event, and you're having a busy day, and you haven't been to the grocery store? Yep, that was me, today. And yet the soup BlackLion and I made, which I'm going to call October Soup (because Leftover Soup just sounds icky), came out fabulous! It's really yummy! Here's a sort of recipe, though I don't know if it can really be duplicated.

October Soup
by Starcat and BlackLion

We started by putting a big pot on the stove and setting some water to boil, perhaps 10 or 12 cups. To the water, we added 1/4 cup of Braggs' amino acids (you could use soy sauce or tamari) and 1/4 cup of the red miso I just got from the new food co-op, and stirred them in.

Once it was boiling, we added our leftovers: 3 cups of cooked basmati rice, 1 cup of corn, 1/2 a cup of peas, and some tomato paste (probably equivalent to a 12-ounce can's worth).

In the meantime, we baked two squash that a friend gave us. We split them in half and put them face down in a baking dish with a 1/4 inch or so of water, baking them for about 30 minutes at 350 degrees. They were an acorn squash and a small spaghetti squash. When they were done and had cooled, we added them to the soup.

We also added the spicing (amounts are approximate): 2 cloves garlic (crushed), 2 Tbsp. chives (chopped), 1 tsp. chipoltle hot sauce, 1 tsp. cumin, 1/2 tsp. coriander, and 1 Tbsp. onion powder. We let the soup simmer for about half an hour, and then it was done. ElvenTiger had some for lunch, and proclaimed it delicious!

We brought the October Soup to homeschool group to share. I had to leave during dinner time for another event, but I'm told that it went over well, and that our chef friend even had two bowls! Huzzah for leftovers, and for necessity being the mother of invention!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

End of Soccer Season

Today Dryst has his final soccer game of the season. He's been playing on the junior varsity team for the local high school. Dryst has been playing soccer since he was six. He loves it with a fierce passion, though he's getting tired of playing in this school district, because his team rarely wins. I think it's a combination of being a rural area with less population than some of the surrounding teams, and being in an area that focuses heavily on the other kind of football. He's making the best of it, though, and wants all the playing time he can get. He'll be starting indoor soccer in a few weeks, which will take him through the winter. Then there's lacrosse in the spring, and perhaps spring soccer if we can find a team.

ElvenTiger had her last scheduled game this past weekend, though she may still have a playoff game or two (not many, as she too is in the aforementioned district, though on a travel team, not a school team). She's played since she was five, following in her brother's footsteps, and her interest in soccer is winding down. I think this may be her last season. She said she isn't interested in indoor soccer over the winter, and declined to play for the school team this fall because soccer every day was too much. ElvenTiger likes playing, but it's never been her passion, just something fun to add to her other activities. This winter she's going to be taking swim lessons - she's a great self-taught swimmer, but wants to learn the various strokes. She wants to become a lifeguard when she's old enough, too.

I've never been a sports person, and when the kids first started getting interested in team sports I was dreading having to watch all those games. Surprisingly, though, it's been fun (for the most part) going to the games and cheering them on. And since I'm only there for the kids and supporting their enjoyment, it's mystifying why some of the parents get so wound up about the games and scores! Amusing, though, most of the time. But I guess I'm a soccer Mom - the supportive kind, that is. At the end of each season I get a little sick of it, particularly all the driving we have to do for practices and games. So I'm glad to see this soccer season end, and perhaps just a wee bit sad that ElvenTiger is probably finished with it for good. On the other hand, it'll be exciting seeing what cool things she does next, and I always enjoy watching Dryst play his various sports, pouring his heart and soul into it every time he's on the field. Go team!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Blogging for the Ballroom

If you've been reading this blog for a while, you may know that this radical chick has a few kinda mainstream pleasures. One of them is watching Dancing With the Stars with my Mom. Yep, it's a Monday night family tradition for us. Since we don't have TV at our house, we go and watch with her, and we usually have dinner together first.

A lot of the celebrities aren't that familiar to us since we don't really keep up with all the pop culture stuff, but perhaps that means we're better able to judge them for their dancing and for the way they act on the show itself. Also, Mom calls us each Tuesday night with the scoop, after she checks out the results show. I'm actually glad to miss the part where they make a big drama over who's getting eliminated next. I think it would stress me out. Heh heh.

So, I thought I'd share my thoughts on the current dancers and their chances to win. Here goes:

David Arquette - He kind of creeped me out at first; I'm not sure why. But he's got style and can perform the character of the dance quite well. He's also gotten more confident with his dancing. I think he's got good potential, if he keeps up the hard work. He actually was kind of handsome in his last couple of dances.

Chaz Bono - I'm glad the fans have kept him coming back thus far. As my Mom said, it's good to see him stick around, to show the people who protest his presence on the show as a trans-gendered person that not everyone is a bigot. On the other hand, he can't really dance very well, and the show is about dancing. He has shown some improvement, and I admire his courage and tenacity.

Nancy Grace - So far she's shown herself to be an adequate dancer. She's okay, but not great. Also, her aggressive attitude seems kind of negative - I guess that's what she's known for on her own show, but I've never seen it. It's kind of off-putting to me.

Rob Kardashian - It's been fun watching him learn to dance and gain self-confidence. I know really nothing about him, but I've watched him go from looking like an awkward kid to tonight's dance, where he was sexy and powerful. He has great potential if he can keep up the good work.

Carson Kressley - He's another dancer whose fans have kept him in the competition so far. He's tremendous fun to watch, and is a natural entertainer. I don't want him to go, but again, it's really about the dancing, and he's still rather awkward and missing a lot of steps, at a time when the competition is heating up. We'll see.

Ricki Lake - She's doing a wonderful job. I love the way she portrays the stories of the dance, and her technique is also high quality. I think she can make it to the top. She has, besides her own good qualities, two great things going for her: her partner is Derek, who I think is hands-down the best teacher and choreographer on the show, and she's in love (she mentioned it in one of the episodes), which helps her shine even more than she might otherwise.

J.R. Martinez - He is an excellent dancer - tonight his dance was just top-notch. His story is really amazing, and I think since he found the will to overcome adversity (he was burned and injured severely in a war), he can do anything he puts his mind to. He'll most likely be at least one of the top three, if not the winner of the competition.

Hope Solo - Athletes do really well on the show, and that's because they make a living working with their bodies, like dancers. I think Hope's doing a great job! She definitely has the potential to win. Her partner, Max, can be a sort of grouchy teacher, and tends to have some drama with his students (he's the sexiest pro, in my opinion, but not the best teacher). But if they can overcome that, she can do very well.

There you have it, a very non-expert view of the ballroom from my parents' living room!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Aha! We've Figured You Out, Percy.

Several times each evening, Percy comes in, gets petted or perhaps has a few bites of food, and goes back out. We call him the "in and out cat." Eventually he'll (usually) come in for the night, and find a place to sleep on someone's bed or in various other warm and cozy places.

This evening I had a headache. I've had a weird persistent cough, and today it seemed to be associated with an achy head and neck. I made some honey-mustard dipping sauce, got the sweet potato "fries" in the oven, and then asked Quester to take over the rest of the dinner preparations. I just had to lie down for a little while. He kindly agreed, and I went up to my room, snuggled up in my bed, and crashed for a while.

Part of the way through my little nap, Percy showed up. He purred and cuddled up close in one of those lovely cat circles. He and I slept a bit more. When ElvenTiger came to wake me up for dinner, she said that she and Quester had come up with a theory. Perhaps the reason Percy comes in and out so much is that he's checking out what everyone is up to, and hoping he can get a good snuggle. So imagine his surprise and pleasure when he showed up at 6:30pm and his Mom-cat was already in bed. Come to think of it, he did seem a bit disappointed when I went down to eat. And he has since been out, and just came back in. Maybe I'll go to bed early. You just don't want to disappoint a stripey purring cat!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Saturday at the Homestead

After a whole lot of rain in a fairly short amount of time, the moon came out last night. I saw its pretty light from my bed, and then woke this morning to a sunny and windy October day. Got some sheets out on the line to dry; that is, if they don't blow away!

Dryst's soccer game was canceled, so Quester took him to run a few errands. Dryst got a nice haircut, and reserved his Skyrim X-Box game. I'm taking he and some friends to the midnight game release in just a few weeks. He also set up some time tomorrow for some friends to come and visit. We haven't seen them at homeschool group for a while, as their Mom is away visiting family and their Dad works full-time.

ElvenTiger had a soccer game today. She rested up for that, had chili for lunch, and watched some old episodes of The Addams Family on Netflix. She's gearing up for Halloween, as she wants to be either Wednesday (the older version, from the movies) or Morticia.

With some input from both Quester and BlackLion, I finished the next round of editing for a magazine article and sent it off to my editor. BlackLion and I also created a "punch list" for what we need to finish for the Core Belief Kit. I'm so excited that we're almost done, at long last! We had the idea several years ago, but for various reasons (including some inner blockages that we've both had to work through), it got delayed. But now we're ready and very psyched to be able to put it out into the world! And at the same time we'll be launching our new personal spirituality coaching service. So it's a very creative, busy, and fulfilling time for Feline Dreamers. Yay!

Right now it's time for A Prairie Home Companion, with awesome bluegrassy duo Gillian Welch and David Rawlings as the special guests. Spaghetti sauce is simmering merrily on the stove. We're ready to relax, and perhaps play some games. Tomorrow, there's more soccer in store for us, and some extra teen boys hanging around. Should be fun!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Cuddly Cats for a Rainy Friday Evening...

What do I do when I can't think of anything I want to write about? I post some cat pictures! That will keep everyone occupied for a few minutes, going "aww!" Then no one will recall that this post didn't contain much actual written content. That's my nefarious plan...mwahahahaha! Enjoy these beauteous felines!

Sir Percival Lovecat, aka Percy

The brothers enjoying a post-picnic nap

Cuddy brother cats!

"Dude, you make an excellent pillow!"

Merlin Lovecat, aka Merles, decked out with a mohawk

Our kitten cousin, Cali

Our dear beloved friend Huzzah, enjoying the sunshine (he passed away as an old man of 18-and-a-half in late 2008)

My Mystick - I still miss him (he died suddenly at the young age of 3, in 2009)

What? She's a cat!

OK, Star's not really a cat. But she's adorable!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

It Sounds So Simple

Okay, I'm going to share a profound bit of wisdom that I've discovered this fall. Are you ready? Here we go: when you stop trying so hard, release a bit of control and clinging, and let go, then things flow more smoothly your way. Sounds so simple, huh? And yet I don't think I'm alone in having to learn this particular bit of wisdom, by experience, again and again...and again.

I wanted to make some new friends this fall, ones who share my interests, laugh with me, and enjoy being with me. I also wanted the same for ElvenTiger, who had been growing apart from a couple of her friends, as they become teens and the one- or two-year age difference seems bigger. Guess what? The new homeschool co-op we joined has brought us both delightful, budding new friendships. I relaxed about my intention, and the universe offered us this vibrant new community.

I've been working to unite my career, my creative callings, and my prosperity, as longtime readers will know. I did a fabulous program of affirmations this fall (more about that soon, as I'm going to be writing a testimonial for the amazing woman I've been working with). Much of it was focused on letting go of old programming on money and allowing things to flow. And guess what? Some old blockages have melted away, my business is in an exciting stage of releasing new products and services, and while I can't (yet) say that my bank account is overflowing, new energies are stirring.

BlackLion and I had been talking about adding personal spirituality coaching to our services, without yet mentioning it to anyone outside the immediate family. A day or two later, a friend contacted us to ask if we did coaching. Why yes, yes we do! Now she's helping us to refine our process of coaching, while she (hopefully) gets the boost she's looking for.

For me, it's true that if you ask, you will receive. It's the part about allowing the answer to manifest that many of us seem to get hung up on. Why do we make it so complex? It's really very simple. I'm hoping I can remember that, but if I don't, I'm sure the lesson will come around again.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Must-Have Music

Today is (was) Quester's birthday. When I'd asked him for suggestions for what he wanted for gifts, he gave me a list of CDs, being quite the music aficionado. The one I grabbed turned out to be the most excellent new music I've heard for a long time. The band (as well as the album) is called Superheavy. The all-star performers? Mick Jagger, Dave Stewart (of the Euryhthmics), Joss Stone, Damian "Jr. Gong" Marley (yes, of THE Marleys), and A.R. Rahman. I most highly recommend it. I mean it. Buy this record!

And thus ends this rather short post, because I had one of those "oh crap, it's almost midnight and I haven't posted yet for today!" moments. Happy Birthday my dear Quester!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Brown Thumb Guilt

Confession time: I don't really like gardening. I love the idea of gardening. I enjoy being outside. I don't mind bugs and worms that much. I compost. I love how the plants look and smell. I adore vegetables - I'm very happy being a vegetarian, and I love trying new veggies. I love to cook them. But growing them...not so much.

I thought I'd like it. Well, though, there is my theory about being either an animal person or a plant person. And I've always been an animal lover, so... I do feel bad about my gardening lack of joy. And I'm not even sure what I don't like about it. Perhaps it's mostly just not knowing what I should be doing, or how to listen to the plants, or whatever. Maybe if I take a class, or learn from a friend, or just keep trying... And I will.

In the meantime, I do what I can to support those who love gardening. Such as: shop at local farm stands, ooh and ahh over beautiful gardens, offer space here on the land for them to use. Perhaps some of those among my family and friends who enjoy gardening will just grow my fruits and veggies for me. I promise to cook you many lovely and delicious meals!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Yes, I'm Still an Introvert

I started off life as a very shy introvert. Over the years, I've overcome much of my shyness. I love parties and events with lots of people, I speak comfortably in front of a group, and I enjoy performing. But I'm definitely still an introvert.

No, shyness and introversion are not one and the same. As I understand it, introverts recharge their mental, emotional, and spiritual energies by having time alone to be quiet and reflective. Extroverts are revitalized by spending time with others in conversation and collaboration. Conversely, introverts can be drained by too much time in social settings, while too much time by themselves can deplete an extrovert. There is, of course, a lot of variety along the spectrum of personalities.

After a very full and busy three days of social gatherings and outings, I'm feeling drained, for certain. I need time to be at home, quietly enjoying my down time. I will recharge by taking time for some writing, reading, and reflection. I enjoyed all of the activities I did this weekend, and wouldn't go back and undo any of them. Yet I can tell by my mental tension, a slight touch of emotional irritability, and some physical droopiness, that it's time to regroup. And I'm starting right now. A cup of tea and a book of sci-fi short stories await me. Enjoy your evening!

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Sunny Autumn Sunday

I spent most of the day sitting at a soccer tournament, watching ElvenTiger's team play (or waiting for them to start playing). Unlike the usual things we find ourselves doing during the October tournament, like snuggling in sweatshirts and blankets, and consuming large quantities of hot chocolate, today we were all in shorts and t-shirts. It's been a wonderfully warm and sunny weekend. A great weekend to spend time outdoors, and I'm glad.

Even so, though, I can feel the seasons shifting. The days are much shorter, and the breezes cooler. Before this mini-heat wave, the nights were getting downright cold, and we experienced our first frost. We also turned the heat on last week for the first time. The waxing moon was brilliant last night, and gave an air of mystery to the October skies.

Even though winter isn't my favorite thing ever (I don't like the cold), I really enjoy this time of year. I like seeing the Earth getting ready to go to bed, and the trees dropping their leaves as they ready to dream the winter months away. I like the foods of autumn: harvest veggie soup, hearty chili, homemade breads, and cider. I love apples and pumpkins and seeing the wild turkeys in the field. I notice the turn of the Wheel of the Year, and I'm thankful. Blessed Be!

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Even Though It Makes Me Squirm

I tend to be rather self-critical. I also often focus on what I *don't* yet know, because I always want to learn new things, progress, move forward, and all that. Focusing on my personal growth is my idea of fun.

So today was interesting because I got to observe myself the way others might see me, and was open in a new way to my positive qualities, the things that I am accomplished at and can shine while I'm doing. So I'm going to post about my observations here, even though I feel a bit uncomfortable tooting my own horn. Even though it makes me squirm.

I went to Eastern Maine Pagan Pride Day, which is about three hours away from where I live. This is the second year, and I go to volunteer, and because the people who run it are just so darn cool! I had planned to help staff an information table for two organizations I'm involved with, EarthTides Pagan Network (EPN) and Maine Pagan Clergy Association (MPCA). I didn't think to suggest doing a workshop, but someone who was going to do a guided meditation workshop had to cancel, so BlackLion and I got asked by the organizers to take over. And I also volunteered, as part of a three-priestess team of folks from MPCA, to co-lead the Harvest Ritual.

So, we arrived and set up our table. Then I was part of a panel discussion for new Pagans, or folks new to the area and the Pagan community here in Maine. I gave my personal story as a lifelong Pagan (though I only really knew it was called that since college, about 20 years ago), and then talked about EPN, of which I'm currently the president. I moved from that to an outdoor "classroom" to do the guided meditation workshop. BlackLion and I both talked about different types of guided meditation, trance, and shamanic journeying. Then I led five people on a guided meditation, while BlackLion drummed the heartbeat for us. We got some good feedback about the class. After that we got set up, and then I co-led the Harvest Ritual with two other experienced priestesses who are also friends of mine. There were about 30 folks there (and a dog). We all shared music, drumming, poetry, and it was a fun and magickal experience.

So I got to thinking about what I have to offer, as a spiritual being in her 40s. I drum and dance, call the directions, move energies, guide folks on journeys, speak coherently about issues other members of this alternative religion face, and share laughter and smiles. Actually, one of my favorite parts of the day was to take the basket of leftover apples, after the ritual, outside to share with the kids enjoying the playground. I love to spread love and joy and my excitement about life and the multiverse. Which, despite all I still have to learn, is really kinda cool. I offer thanks for the person I've become, and for the journey I'm on. Blessings!

Friday, October 07, 2011

Order of the Red Shopping Cart

It's Friday, and the (fun but) busy week I've been having is catching up with me. I'm not stressed out, but definitely have a very full mind and life. Lists are my friend. I haven't done my "morning pages" journal writing for a couple of days (well, there's still time to do today's, but most likely in the late evening by the time I get to it).

I had a nightmare the other night, after not having had one for quite a while. It was about a huge giant of a man who was a serial killer. I called the dream "Control Freak," both because that's how he behaved, but also because that's what I think he represents for me - a part of my psyche that wants to be in control of everything, thus killing other parts of me, or at least threatening them. It's something I've been releasing for quite some time now, and with excellent results, yet those old patterns often seem most resistant just when you think you're finally done with them.

Overall, though, things are going well, and if this post seems scattered, it's just because that's where my mind is at today. Here is a sampling of some things on my list: taking kids to and from soccer, birthday plans for family members and friends (hi Libras!), getting my bangs trimmed, drum practice, packing up stuff to take to an event tomorrow, vacuuming, various writing projects all clamoring for attention, and more!

If you're curious about the title of this post, well so am I. It's the only thing I brought back from my dreams upon waking this morning. What is the Order of the Red Shopping Cart, and am I now a member? Shopping wasn't even on my to-do list! What can it mean? No time to figure it out now. Gotta go!

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Co-op Love!

Our family has joined a homeschool co-op. What this means is that families get together (in this case, about 80 families!) and together we offer classes, clubs, activities, and other fun things. The kids range from babes in slings to independent teenagers. So far ElvenTiger and I have been the ones exploring it, though BlackLion made his first visit to the co-op this week. A couple of the other families from the Maine Wholeschoolers have joined too, and on alternate weeks I give some of the kids a ride, while their Mom is at work.

Here's a typical day: I picked up the two kids and we drove to the co-op. We arrived and greeted friends and acquaintances, and checked out the announcements for the day. ElvenTiger went off to her basket-weaving class. BlackLion got all signed up as one of the parent volunteers (he and I are going to offer an international cooking class this winter). I joined some Moms to make a hula hoop. After we created our awesome hoops (mine is purple, green and white), we went outside to learn to use them. I admit, while both my kids are awesome hula hoopers, I've never been able to figure it out. I made some progress, though, and I think I'll get the hang of it, with practice.

Then it was lunch time. We heated up and ate our soup that we brought, and chatted with some folks while we ate. Kids of all ages ran around. We helped brainstorm some ideas for a new co-op name. A bunch of teens were having lunch together, planning the group's fall/Halloween party. BlackLion left to go take Dryst to his soccer game.

After lunch we had cooking class. We made artisan bread and homemade butter. It was fun! I stayed to clean up while the others went on to their classes. ElvenTiger has a free period then, and she went and hung out with a new friend, helping her with her knitting. I talked with some Moms who came to help clean the kitchen, and went for a walk with a new friend of my own. Then it was time to go home. It is such a fun community, and I'm thankful we joined.

While I was there, I learned about a very cool weekend experience for teens at MIT coming up later this fall. It sounds fabulous. I think I'm going to ask Dryst if he wants to go, as sort of a mother-son weekend. We don't have as many interests in common as ElvenTiger and I do, but I think this would be something we would both really enjoy, and learn from. I love this lifestyle!

Wednesday, October 05, 2011


No, no, silly, I'm beyond the childbearing years. I have teenagers! I'm talking about my eyes. I went to a new eye doctor today. My awesome Dad drove me, and he paid for the appointment (it was my birthday gift). So my blog today will be relatively short. I would have written it later, when my eyes don't look like those of some of the demons on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but it's Wednesday, so I'll be at homeschool group.

I guess I'll just say what's on the agenda for today: eye appointment (check!), finalizing my order for the new food co-op (yay!), laundry (now that the sun has come out), making more soup, making paper snowflakes for a project, watching a new Christine Kane video (if my eyes feel better), taking Dryst to soccer, and of course hanging out with the crew at the Maine Wholeschoolers' Wednesday meetup. Perhaps even a nap. Should be fun!

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Sharing the Joy of Journals

This fall, ElvenTiger and I joined a newly-formed homeschool co-op group in our area. Well, the whole family is a part of it, really, but we're the ones who have gotten involved so far. ElvenTiger's taking classes in basket-weaving and cooking, and next session will be helping teach a knitting class. She loves it.

I'm having fun too, helping with the cooking class, meeting new friends, and learning how to hula hoop. Next session I'm offering a class on journaling. I've been keeping journals since I was a kid, and doing daily journal writing since 1997. I just love it! Journaling helps me practice my writing craft, capture memories of our daily life, gain deep insights into who I am and who I'm becoming, explore my dreams, and work through my emotions. I currently keep a dream journal, a personal journal, and a Tarot journal.

It's also fun creating a class in which to share my passion for journal-keeping. I'm choosing journal entries from authors and historical figures to share (for inspiration), finding exercises to get class members writing, and gathering resources to share. Once I see how the class goes, perhaps I'll gather my favorite parts into a journaling workshop to offer to the public.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Bedtime Routine and The Between

October's theme for National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo) is "Between." So I thought, since I seem to have taken up the challenge of daily blogging this month, that today I'd talk about one of the ways I use the term "between."

My bedtime routine goes like this: after brushing my teeth and changing into my PJs (really just a very soft oversize t-shirt), I climb into bed. Usually the window is open, at least a crack, to provide some fresh air. I grab a book from the stack next to my bed - I always have at least two books going at once, so I see which one is calling to me at the moment. I read for a while. It might be an hour or more, or if I'm tired, just for a few minutes. It's a rare night when I don't read before sleeping. Once I'm done, I make sure my dream journal and a pen are nearby, and turn out the light.

Then comes the Between part. I settle in and nestle my cheek down on the pillow, close my eyes, and let my mind roam. When I start to see images, sort of like dreams but more ephemeral, I know that I've reached the Between space, the magickal creative place between waking consciousness and sleep. It's a bit like dreaming, but I'm still aware that I'm in my bed beginning to fall asleep. Sometimes I take part in conversations there, or travel to interesting places. The imagery is vivid and fantastical, yet somehow not as easily captured as standard dreams. I like it there in the Between. I let myself drift down into sleep like a falling autumn leaf.

Sometimes upon waking, as I emerge from my dreams, I find myself once again in the Between. Or perhaps it's the reverse, since I'm moving in a different direction - maybe I'll call it the Mirror Between. Usually when I'm waking up, my thoughts are gradually organizing themselves. I'm focused on recalling my dreams so I can write them down, on what I'm going to be doing today, on the friendly household sounds, and on the weather outside my window as I emerge into the waking world once again. The Mirror Between is like emerging from a dimly lit room into the sunshine.

I want to learn how to capture some of the insights I find in the Between space. I'm currently reading "Active Dreaming," by Robert Moss, and he talks about how lots of creative people find interesting ideas, inventions and solutions in that liminal space Between waking and sleeping. Perhaps I'll see if I can jot down some of my Between notions. The trouble with that is, I get most of them when I am falling asleep, and if I wake up enough to make notes, I'll have to start over. Wait, that might not be so bad - I'd have even more chances to visit the Between!

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Homesteading Update

I haven't done a homesteading-type update lately. What have we been up to? Well, we joined a wonderful homeschool co-op, and as part of it, we now have the opportunity to once again order items from a food co-op. Our first order includes miso, Bragg's Amino Acids, soy sauce, and cumin seed. I'm sure we'll be ordering some other bulk items soon, like beans, nutritional yeast, and other delicious staples. We did get a bulk order of vital wheat gluten, which we use to make seitan, from a new local health food store.

So far we've made the traditional seitan dinner (with veggie gravy, mashed potatoes, delicata squash, and brussels sprouts), but have also done a vegan stroganoff, as well as using seitan in our veggie pot pie (so it's sort of like a beef pot pie). They've all come out yummy, if I do say so myself.

This has been an amazing year for mushrooms in our neck of the woods. BlackLion wants to learn more about edible wild mushrooms. We're going to attend a mushroom foraging workshop later in the month. In the meantime, he's been taking lots of pictures. NOTE: this isn't necessarily an edible type of mushroom - it's just one that he found in our yard!

We've also been enjoying the bounty of food from our local farm. We've made several batches of fresh salsa, as well as yummy salads. And we've been sipping local cider, chomping apples, and adding some pears (local pears are tiny and adorable) to our smoothies. We didn't end up doing a very big garden this year, but we do have some potatoes to harvest soon, and then we'll plant garlic in those beds, to overwinter. I'm thankful for the bounty of this season's delightful harvest!

Saturday, October 01, 2011

To Blog or Not to Blog...

...daily, that is. I recently found out about NaBloPoMo, which stands for National Blog Posting Month, and the challenge is to write a blog entry every day. A couple of friends who have cool blogs have joined in, and so I'm contemplating whether I want to do the same. The rules are simple: "Post something every day for a month. That's all you have to do." And the theme for October is "Between," which sounds magickal and right up my alley. So what's a cat to do?

The pros: I've done something like this before, a couple years ago, with BlackLion, and it was fun. I already write every day, so sharing some of that with the world would be valuable, and more practice is always good. I recently read that in order to master something, you need to put in 10,000 hours. I've probably done that with journal writing, but certainly not (yet) with blogging as a specific art form. The writing prompts provided on the NaBloPoMo website look intriguing. It would get me posting more often, and probably taking photos more often, too.

The cons: Just one, really: posting EVERY day. No matter how busy I get. Eeek!

Well, I'll continue to contemplate, and keep posting. Nothing to lose! Either way I'm writing more and connecting with you, my Dear Readers!