Lammas Blue Moon Eve PotPourri Blogging


* If I had cable, I’d be watching Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell. Because I’m a penny-pinching old woman, I’m waiting for it to come out on Netflix or Amazon Prime. But Ms. Laity‘s take on it is quite interesting. If you’re into fantasy literature, you should definitely read the whole thing. /hat tip: Byron Ballard.

‘[G]rimdark’ is fantasy done in the style of post-Watchmen, Dark Knight comics: urban, gritty, violent—in short, everything that anxious males these days consider manly. It’s considered ‘realistic’ whereas typical fantasy happens in ‘Medieval Land’ where nothing is real—never mind that the Middle Ages was in fact a real time period while manly land is a fictional construct.
There’s a peculiarly ‘masculine’ romanticism that equates dark grimness as ‘realism’ somehow. It’s what’s behind the defensive avowals of ‘realism’ from the creators of Game of Thrones for the rapes they feature (never mind that they never show the ‘realism’ of male rape or a host of other ‘real’ events in their fantasy narrative). As Elaine Viets recognized, male romance is a category:
You’ve read them. You just didn’t realize it. That’s because the critics call these books ‘gritty realism,’ ‘hard-boiled,’ or ‘scathing social satire’…There are lots of guns and gore in the male romance novels, but they’re as sentimental as a royal wedding.

* The whole men’s-stuff-is-the-norm-and-women’s-stuff-is-objectionable reminds me of this very good article about why women’s voices and speech patterns, but never men’s, are often criticized.

I admit that, lawyer that I am, I’ve often cautioned young women not to end their sentences with a questioning tone. In our field in particular, sounding authoritative is half the game. But there’s a completely valid view that says that ending your sentence with an uptone is a way of seeking consensus, which is, or would, in a normal world, be different from “sounding insecure.” And the fact that we tend to equate “sounding like a girl” with “sounding insecure” while we associate “sounding masculine” with “sounding authoritative” is a problem in itself. And to assume that one style of communication (I don’t need your consent; I’m right) is better than the other (Do we all agree on this point? Can we move on to the next one?) is part of the problem.

I wish Joan Williams would take this on.

* Lughnasadh is the first of Paganism’s three harvest festivals. By this time of year, though, here in the Magical MidAtlantic, a lot of our flowers are over and done. (Which makes sense; you need the flowers to bloom and bear fruit before you can harvest. But if what you want to harvest is flowers, well, it’s getting on a bit.) Right now, I have daisies, Queen Anne’s Lace (I recently hired a gardener who asked me, “Did you plant that or do you want it to come out?” to which I responded, “NO! Don’t pull it. Landscape Guy dug it up by a roadside and planted it for me and I want it!”), black-eyed susan, anemones, and, just starting, obedient plant. The day lilies are almost, but not quite done, and I’ve let a bit of the bok choy and swiss chard bloom to get seeds for next year.

What’s blooming in your garden just now?

* There’s a Blue Moon either tonight or on Friday, the eve of Lughnasadh, depending upon how you count. I hope you have some magic planned. I do and it’s based on gratitude for accomplishment of two particularly meaningful goals and some plans for the future.

* One of my favorite bloggers, Michael Twitty, is doing a fundraiser for his upcoming book. His post lists lots of wonderful food ideas, including:

Make an easy peach vinaigrette dressing: take two tablespoonfuls of peach jam, 1/4 cup of water, 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar, a pinch of red or black pepper, kosher salt, a pinch of fresh chopped rosemary and 1/4 cup of light olive oil and whisk together. Makes for a great summer salad.

I think you could also just use smooched (that’s a technical term, BTW) fresh peaches (now completely in season here in the Magical, well, you know) and some sugar, instead of the peach jam.

* I made Charleston Harbor Picked Shrimp as appetizers for last week’s book club and then served the leftovers for an impromptu dinner on the porch with a friend. They were well-received. And very easy. You boil shrimp and Cajun spices for two or three minutes, just until the shrimp turn pink. (I think you could use Old Bay as well, or even curry for a different taste.) Peel the shrimp and put them, along with some thinly-sliced peppers and onions, in white cider vinegar. Chill for at least 8 hours or overnight. (I stole this recipe from the internet, but I don’t remember where.) Now that even the evenings are steamy and hot, they make a nice cold dinner, especially with some cole slaw and cantaloupe.

* I am in lust.

Picture found here.

Almost Lammas Poetry Blogging

Lammas isn’t known for thin veils, but, these last few days, they seem tatter-thin to me. Here’s a cautionary tale, both for Witches who sell themselves too cheap and for all who try to cheat Witches.

The Lammas Hireling from Paul Casey on Vimeo.

Ian Duhig’s award-winning poem The Lammas Hireling explores superstition in 20th Century rural Ireland. A farmer hires a casual labourer from a hiring fair and becomes wealthy very quickly. Little does he know that the hireling is in fact a witch, who changes into a hare at full moon. He is awoken one night to the screams of the witch who has been caught in a fox trap.

Staring Cork actors Rosie O'Regan and Geoff Daykin. Screenplay adaptation by Sam Thomas. Music by Macarena Ferrer. Directed by Paul Casey.

Premiered in 2010 at the Zebra Poetry Film festival in Berlin.
Clones Film Festival (in competition), Monaghan – 24th October 2010
Ó Bhéal Poetry-Film Night, Cork – 8th November 2010
Foyle Film Festival (in competition), Derry – 27th November 2010
Cork Spring Literary Festival, Metropole Hotel, Cork, February 2011
Corona Cork Film Festival, Gate Cinema Cork – 8th November 2011
Sadho Poetry Film Festival, New Delhi – 12th November 2011
(Plus on tour through eight cities in India during 2012)
StAnza Poetry Festival, Edinburgh – 14th to 18th March 2012
Cork Underground Film Festival – 15th August 2012


The poem, The Lammas Hireling, was written by Ian Duhig. At The Poetry Archive, he explains:

This poem is called ‘The Lammas Hireling’. It’s based on a story I heard when I was in Northern Ireland, out for a very late night walk, a local person pointed out a house he told me was where the local witches used to live, and in their tradition witches would change into hares, and when the father was dying, his family was very embarrassed because the father’s body was turning into a hare’s and this bloke told me the story said he attended the funeral and the last thing you could hear was the hare’s paws beating the lid of the coffin as they lowered it into the ground. Hare stories are sort of found all over England and Europe in fact. There’s one rhyme in this that I suppose it might be helpful for people to have pointed out, and that’s the one “to go into the hare gets you muckle sorrow, muckle care”- that’s from the Annals of Pursuit which is a North Country witches’ chant, restored by Robert Graves. “A cow with leather horns” is another name for a hare – if you think about it you’ll see why. The story is: a farmer gets a young man from a hiring fair, which is how labour was engaged well into the last century, and takes him home with him, and finds he’s got more than he bargained for. – See more at:

Monday at the Movies

Selkies. Ancestors. Magic. Liminality. Sense of Place. Stories Within Stories. What’s not to like?

Sunday Ballet Blogging

Full Self Attendance Blogging

Continuing Croning Cogitation


As a friend pointed out to me, retiring isn’t the same thing as becoming a crone. Lots of crones continue to work and many retirees haven’t achieved crondhood. But, for me, the two are related: retirement will signal the close of a large chapter of my life and the beginning of the final chapter, the one that’s supposed to tie it all up and finish with a profound insight and some good feels. I know; I’ve been reading novels all my life.

Over at the Wild Hunt, Alley Valkerie is writing about retirees:

As I watched her hand, moving so eloquently and furiously, I realized that I had seen her before, although in a different park on the other side of the river. She finished the bird with a few quick strokes and started to write underneath the picture in Chinese, quickly scribbling out a few rows of text in what seemed like seconds.

She then picked up the picture, blew on it, quickly looked both ways, and muttered a few words under her breath. And before I really understood what was happening, she pulled out a match and quickly set the paper on fire.

I gasped aloud, not meaning to, and she turned around, surprised to see me there. She nodded hello at me and I nodded back.

“It is OK, it is supposed to burn,” she said to me, smiling. “It is a prayer for the sparrows.”

“But you just spent so much time….” I stopped mid-sentence, recognizing the thought-trap regarding the value of time that I was about to fall into. She laughed.

“I have all the time in the world to draw things and set them on fire,” she said. “I am retired, I do not work. I do not like TV, I do not like bingo. Instead, I draw and I pray and I pay attention to nature.”

I would go back to work before I would spend my time watching tv or playing bingo, but I’d be happy to spend my days praying and paying attention to nature.

I’ve been reading Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life: The Plants and Places that Inspired the Classic Children’s Tales by Marta McDowell. Ms. Potter gardened and farmed in England’s Lake District. In The Writer’s Garden: How Gardens Inspired out Best-Loved Authors Jackie Bennett says:

Although it would only ever be a part-time home, Hill Top gave Beatrix the chance to put into practice all the aesthetic and practical ideas she had stored up over the years ab out houses and gardens. She was influenced by the Arts & Crafts movement, by things she had seen and done in her travels, and possibly by the great gardener of the time Gertrude Jekyll.

I’m getting more and more interested in how gardens and places influence the writers who live within them. One of my favorite poets, Wm. Wordsworth, also gardened and wrote in the Lake District. Ms. McDowell writes that:

In 1799, a few days after moving into he cottage, Wordsworth wrote that [his sister] Dorothy was very pleased with the house and that she had already started to imagine the summer house with a seat they would build at the top of the steep slope. On that slope they planted ferns, bulls, and will flowers, collected on their walks or given by local people. They created terraces, grew some of the food plants they would have known from the Cockermouth garden — peas, French and runner beans, distort, turnips and radishes — and planted honeysuckle and roses against the walls.

Can you guess the MOOC I’m planning to take?

Picture found here?

Considering Croning, Considering Lughnasadah


I loved school all my life.

Well, not PE, and not Algebra, and, OK, not that semester in high school English when we read The Pearl, The Lord of the Flies, and Crime & Punishement, and, OK, to be honest, not Civil Procedure. But minor annoyances aside, I really loved school. It’s not for everyone. I know lots of people who hated the whole process, who don’t learn well listening to a lecture, reading books, sitting in desks. But me, I loved it. I loved the loose-leaf notebooks, the reinforcers that I put on each of the three holes on my pages of notes, my color-coded notes on textbooks, the getting the syllabus on the first day, and the midterms in Autumn and Spring, and the going out for burgers after finals and, well, for me, even rather prosaic schools may as well have been Hogwarts because I love going to school.

I’m almost sixty and although one of the reasons I went into law was the fact that it’s a career you can practice even when you’re “old,” — one where it’e really true that experience and guile beat youth and skill (almost) every time — I am beginning to think about what I’ll do in retirement. What I have decided is that retirement can’t be like what happens when I manage to get a few days off from my job. The last few (OK, the last dozen or so) years have been (and, Goddess knows, the rest of this year looks to be) very, very busy at work. When I do manage to get a few days off, first I collapse for a day or so and then I work like a madwoman trying to catch up on everything that my garden, my home, and my life require, given that I’ve put everything off for weeks and weeks due to work. Maybe then I get a day at an art exhibit. And then I’m back at work.

Retirement can’t be like that. I’m going to need a routine, some goals, a purpose, an over-riding plan. And it needs to include gardens, and art galleries, and French, and much more time for meditation.

Whenever I mention retiring, my closest friends always say, “Oh, you’ll do pro bono work. First Amendment, Water Rights, Energy. You’ll do what you love and have fun. You can’t quit writing law.” And they may be right, but when I retire I want to do All the Different Things — I’m not sure what they are, but I’m pretty sure they’re not writing briefs, although, who knows, I may spend a year going mad and then beg some group to let me write a brief for them because, well, life is real, life is earnest and the grave is not its goal, I suppose, and we all know that old fire horses, even when put to meadow, start to run when they hear the sirens. We all have to do what we’re good at, and I’ve spent a lifetime getting good at writing briefs. No, really, a lifetime. My dad was training me for this, whether he knew it or not, when we argued politics, and books, and life after every single dinner of my life. So it’s not at all inconceivable that I’ll just keep doing what I know how to do even after I retire.

But one of the things that I’ve always hoped to do when I retire is to go to school. If retirement is a time to do what you love, well, as noted, I’ve always loved going to school. And there are about a gazillion, OK, well, at least a lot, of courses that I never got to take. My bachelors and masters degrees are in Special Education and although I took and loved a few semesters of Reading Swedish, Danish, & Norwegian, some Geology, a bit of American History, and some good tennis instruction as an undergrad, and although my masters work on Alfred Adler has informed pretty much every day of my life, and my time in the Maryland Archives writing a dissertation on the Lunacy Commission was grand fun, those degrees were pretty technically-focused. And, then there was my JD, which, Civil Procedure aside, I found really interesting, but I was an evening student and I mostly took what was going to be on the bar exam. And, so, I’ve always imagined that one of the things I’d do when I retire is go to school. Take the Great Books courses at St. John’s College, or take advantage of the fact that most states allow seniors to audit college courses for next-to free. French Romantic Poetry, Chinese Art, Philosophy of Religion, the Bronte Sisters, Virginia History, Garden Design, Southern Cooking, Flower Arrangement, Jugenstil Design, William Morris, Anais Nin, Feminist Poetry, Norse Government, Science of the Aurora, . . . . There’s not much that I wouldn’t study.

But technology has gone even farther. Tomorrow, I’ll tell you about a MOOC, or massively open on-line course, I’m thinking of taking even now, before I retire.

What’s your plan for being a Crone???

Picture found here