Tag Archives: G/Son

Tuesday Evening PotPourri

En Deshabille

* First, I’d like to wish a happy Diwali to all who celebrate it. May we all live our lives such that Lakshmi feels welcome.

* I flit here and there around the web and I admit that my time is limited. It’s difficult for me to understand why it should be controversial for a group of Pagans to gather in a circle at Pagan Pride Day, but then we know that I think many Pagan Pride Day events are poorly-thought-out. However, one of the lovely things that I found when flitting about the web is this set of cornerstones for building Pagan groups put together by Diana’s Grove. I particularly like the emphasis, based upon a Jean Houston quote, on The Sacred Wound:

The wounding becomes sacred when we are willing to release our old stories and to become the vehicles through which the new story may emerge into time. When we fail to do this, we repeat the same old story over and over again.

Blessed Chiron, guide our way.

* Medusa has the information on the recent death of Goddess scholar Patricia Monaghan. May the Goddess guard her. May she find her way to the Summerlands. May her friends and family know peace. Damn. Everyone who laid down stepping stones for me is passing.

* Love the (new-to-me) word “fibershed.”

These little realities about living and working with plants and animals – it creates a difference in your body. I know this because I observed the changes in myself. You really learn how to work. It’s like systems theory; you can get a system to start producing good results if you get the pendulum swinging in the right direction.

* If you do not follow Style Crone, you should.

* This weekend, G/Son and I went to the National Gallery of Art. It’s been some time since I’ve taken a little boy to an art museum. Hence, I was, foolishly, not anticipating the FIRST REACTION OF ALL SIX-YEAR OLD BOYS EVER to the main hall of the National Gallery of Art: “Nonna! Those statues are naked. You can see their penises and, oooooohhhh, Nonna, you can see their . . . breasts.”

Shorter Nonna: “Yes. Artists knew that the human body is beautiful and not shameful. That’s why it’s silly to be ashamed of our bodies. Oh, and look over here . . . .” G/Son really liked the statue of St. George (which led to a long discussion about why some art works get saved even when they’ve been damaged) and the picture of Daniel in the Lions’ Den. He didn’t know Daniel’s story, so Nonna told it to him and he said, “I bet that he prayed very fearfully,” and Nonna agreed. His other favorite was the fountain of cherubs and a swan, and he explained to me that, at his school, they call cherubs “baby angels.”

When we got to the fountain dedicated to Mercury, G/Son noted that people had been throwing coins into it and asked Nonna for a coin. Mercury is the God that Nonna’s always invoked for Son, a runner who has wings on his feet and makes the quick decisions that all Scorpios make. Nonna and G/Son talked about being the messenger of the Gods; we talked about being fleet-footed; and we talked about the role of Air in the recent election. Then, Nonna handed over a quarter and said, “When you throw it in, make a wish to Mercury.” G/Son threw the quarter in and said, “I prayed to God because you don’t see people doing this (making praying hands symbol and bowing head) to Mercury, Nonna.” And Nonna laughed, took G/Son’s hand, and said, “No, no you don’t. I wonder why that is.” Nonna’s playing the long game here; it’s that for which age equips one.

Later, after the all-important trip to the gift shop, we wandered through the Lichtenstein exhibit. Those pictures were very accessible to G/Son and this was his favorite. On our way out, we visited and discussed the NGA’s one, disappointing (IMHO) Goldsworthy and the Ernst sculpture, which drew a strongly emotional response from G/Son who did not, for once, notice the genitals.

Then, we stood outside waiting for our car, saw the Canadian embassy, and had a long discussion about International Law. My old prof would have been proud of me.

* My soul is deep, deep, deep into a late MidAtlantic Autumn, the kind where the morning rain on the orange giant Maple and the cherry-red Japanese maples is set off by the golden crape myrtles and the deep green of the local magnolias. I am what my landbase is.

Can it be true that Old England Is Dying?

I don’t believe it.

Photo by the blogger; if you copy, please link back.

Read Me to Sleep

So Matilda’s strong young mind continued to grow, nurtured by the voices of all those authors who had sent their books out into the world like ships on the sea. These books gave Matilda a hopeful and comforting message: “You are not alone.”

~ Roald Dahl

When I was a sick little girl the thing that would, — heck, as a sick old woman, the thing that does — above all else, make me feel better is to be read to. I love to read, but there is an element of nurture, and rightness, and care, that being read to brings immediately to the sick room.

Today, when G/Son was feeling very sick, Nonna straightened the cool cotton sheets, and offered iced water with a straw, and proffered pudding, and Italian ice, and soup. She ran bathtubs full of mint leaves and she made ice compresses and rubbed feet. And, most of all, Nonna read. G/Son asked for The Secret Garden, and so we moved from cholera-struck India, across the sea with the snotty children of a missionary and his wife, onto a train running north through the rain to the Scottish moors, and into a house with over a hundred rooms, but most of them locked up.

And then we closed our eyes, and imagined a red light surrounding us to make us feel better. And then the crickets came to do magic.

And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.

~ Roald Dahl

Has anyone ever read you back to health? Have you ever read to anyone as a spell?

Picture found here.

What Is A Weekend?

Sound Asleep

Weekend plans altered, as G/Son has a fever and sore throat after two weeks at his new school.

We’ve read chapters from The Secret Garden, we’ve sung Hoof and Horn, we’ve talked about running roots into Mother Earth who can absorb all the germs and sickness.

Tomorrow, we will have a quiet day at home, playing Uno and watching The Golden Compass. We have a mug of honey and lemon and we have apple cider warmed with cinnamon. We’ve had a warm bath and we have cool cotton sheets.

I think that it’s all going to be fine.

May it be so for you.

Being Present


It was very hot and muggy this weekend, but G/Son and I got up early to go to the farmers’ market. On our way out the door, he spotted one of our neighborhood cottontails, breakfasting on my neighbors’ lawn. We spent a long time watching her, as G/Son crept closer and closer. Eventually, he got inside her circle of comfort and she took off for the next yard.

At the farmers’ market, we bought tomatoes, corn, peaches, and a bar of handmade soap that G/Son picked out for his mommy. I always give him some money to spend “on his own,” and he made a bee-line for the lady who sells donuts, fresh and hot from her little donut machine. She threw in an extra one and G/Son was delighted.

When we got home, we sat inside the car and watched a momma cardinal and a bright goldfinch hang upside down and pull sunflower seeds out of the now-drooping heavy heads of the sunflowers. G/Son pointed out the other goldfinch, eating seeds from the centers of the black-eyed susans that bloom so reliably and last even through the drought.

That evening, just before bed, I read G/Son a wonderful book called What Does It Mean to Be Present? I asked G/Son when, during the day, he’d been most present and he said, “Well, Nonna, of course it was watching the bunny and the birds because you can’t do that and think about any other kind of thing or want to be any other kind of place.”

I think that’s about right.

Picture found here.

“We Must Risk Delight”


A Brief for the Defense

~ Jack Gilbert

Sorrow everywhere. Slaughter everywhere. If babies
are not starving someplace, they are starving
somewhere else. With flies in their nostrils.
But we enjoy our lives because that’s what God wants.
Otherwise the mornings before summer dawn would not
be made so fine. The Bengal tiger would not
be fashioned so miraculously well. The poor women
at the fountain are laughing together between
the suffering they have known and the awfulness
in their future, smiling and laughing while somebody
in the village is very sick. There is laughter
every day in the terrible streets of Calcutta,
and the women laugh in the cages of Bombay.
If we deny our happiness, resist our satisfaction,
we lessen the importance of their deprivation.
We must risk delight. We can do without pleasure,
but not delight. Not enjoyment. We must have
the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless
furnace of this world. To make injustice the only
measure of our attention is to praise the Devil.
If the locomotive of the Lord runs us down,
we should give thanks that the end had magnitude.
We must admit there will be music despite everything.
We stand at the prow again of a small ship
anchored late at night in the tiny port
looking over to the sleeping island: the waterfront
is three shuttered cafés and one naked light burning.
To hear the faint sound of oars in the silence as a rowboat
comes slowly out and then goes back is truly worth
all the years of sorrow that are to come.

**************

When I was younger, I did not believe this. I was horrified at Jesus’ statement that it was OK for his follower to wash his feet with oil instead of using the money to feed the poor. “The poor you will have always with you,” seemed (and, in context, still does seem) breathtakingly brutal coming from a man who claimed to be THE All-Powerful God who worked miracles on a whim.

But, for the rest of us, made of Goddess-stuff as we are, I’ve come around, as I’ve gotten older, to Gilbert’s view: “We must risk delight. . . . We must have the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless furnace of this world.” I thought of those lines last night as I contrasted the horrible shooting in Wisconsin with the amazing achievement of landing Curiosity on Mars.

There was a moment this weekend when G/Son was idly washing his hands and singing, in his six-year-old perfect pitch, a song that he likes to sing: “When the sun goes down, the stars come out. And all that counts is here and now. My universe will never be the same. I’m glad you came. I’m glad you came.” I stopped, leaned back against the cool wall, closed my eyes, and positively drank it in. I want to be able to remember, and to delight in, that moment forever. Once in a while, something happens that makes me say, “OK, I’m glad that I did the chemo. It was worth it.” That was one of those moments. I’m glad that I was willing to risk delight.

What do you think?

Picture by the blogger; if you copy, please link back.

Check out the toes.

I’m a Pisces, Taurus, Gemini. My beloved G/Son is a Pisces, Taurus, Scorpio. This week, he’s been trying out his several year’s worth of Spanish in a location somewhere south of New Orleans. Here he is, in his (my, our) element:

It’s just impossible for me to tell you how happy this makes me.

Check out the toes.

Eagles for Eostara


All day, my Bit of Earth has rung with the sounds of children, esp. the 4 little girls who live in the 2 houses across the street, playing outside. It’s way warmer than it has any reason to be, here, a few days ahead of the Spring Solstice. I woke up this morning to the sound of children’s voices coming through my open windows, then dressed and drove to G/Son’s martial arts tournament. Afterwards, he wanted to go to the local Nature Center.

I know that I’ve blogged about this before, but G/Son and I love going to the Nature Center. This morning, we were almost the only ones there, so the wonderful naturalist was great about sharing her wealth of information with us. She told us that the stuffed bird was red-tailed hawk (not a falcon, as G/Son and I guessed). She told us we were right about which snake was the copperhead and which was the rattlesnake. She showed us how to make a tiny tornado in the bottles filled with liquid. G/Son and I walked all the way around the pond and saw nine (!) turtles sunning themselves on fallen longs (“sunbathing,” G/Son called it). We saw two Canada Geese and at least a few bees and moths. We’ve been checking out this website which, last night, showed an eagle chick emerging from its shell. Technology can, IMHO, be amazing. A few minutes ago, I watched daddy eagle feed his less-than-a-day-old chick some fish. There’s one more egg to hatch, likely tonight or tomorrow. Welcome to early Eoastara. These eagles are south of Richmond, just inside the southern boundary of what I consider my landbase. G/Son and I think that they’re v cool.

When I invoke Air, I often visualize eagles. I shan’t be gone long. You come too.

Seed Swaps with G/Son


My beloved G/Son is growing up so fast.

I know that’s what old women always say, but we say it because it’s true. From our perspective: the wind-sanded, rain-washed, sun-warmed sitting rock here, just before the edge of the cliff, (you know, the cliff that you jump off, or that you get pushed off, or that you dive, or dance, or dither off of to get to the Summerlands, the Isle of Apples, that place where Arthur and Galadriel went, into the West — that cliff) we can see how fast the Dance to the Music of Time (as I learned to call it when I was a young girl in college, taking all the Lit courses I could take) always proceeds, even when it appears, for a moment or two, to slow down. But the fast-action nature of Mama Gaia’s spin through the ever-more-quickly expanding universe has its good points, as well as its overall hint of saudade. And one good point is that I’ve learned to really treasure each moment that I get to spend with G/Son. I’ve learned not to take any of them for granted.

This weekend, I had hoped to take G/Son down to Occupy DC, so that we could bring the Occupiers some hats that I’ve knitted and a bag of apples that I bought and to show G/Son how people are trying to change our world so that some people don’t go hungry, homeless, without health care, while others have too much. But this was the weekend when the National Park Service attacked Occupy DC, and a five-year-old and an old woman with (what my grandma referred to as) a bum ankle aren’t a good match for police in riot gear. So we put our visit to Occupy DC on hold. But we sat quietly, took some deep breaths together, lit some candles and incense, and made pictures in our minds of the Occupiers being safe and protected.

Instead of Occupy DC, G/Son and I went to Washington Gardener Magazine‘s Seed Swap. We took envelopes of the woad and dill seeds that Nonna collected last year from her own garden, and a bunch of free sample seeds that Nonna got last year from various seed companies.

We registered and got our goody bag (G/Son kept the corn seeds and melon seeds and Nonna kept the chive and lettuce seeds) and raffle ticket. G/Son was v interested in the concept of raffle tickets, but he took it like a good sport when we didn’t win the box of seeds to grow lovely baby vegetables.

We answered questions from some of the volunteers who were sorting the seeds and came running up to us to ask about woad seeds. (Volunteer Ladies: “Do you grow them?” Nonna: “Yes.” Volunteer Ladies: “On purpose?”)

Then, we listened to Barbara Melera of Landreth Seed Co. (Landreth is America’s oldest (selling seeds since 1784) extant seed company. They’re in financial trouble. If you’re going to buy seeds this Spring, you could do some good by buying from Landreth. Just saying.) talk about America’s Love Affair with the Tomato.

While we were waiting, G/Son and Nonna talked about how G/Son doesn’t like raw tomatoes, but he does like tomatoes in pizza sauce, spaghetti sauce, and catsup. G/Son was captivated by the title slide that Ms. Melera put up before her talk that said: America’s Love Affair with the Tomato: a Story of Adventure, Passion, Commitment, and Nonsense. Since he’s learning to read, G/Son was able to read most of the words by himself. Nonna helped with “commitment.” And we talked about what that word means. A former reading teacher (it’s like a disease; we can’t help ourselves), Nonna got G/Son to anticipate what Nonsense could have to do with growing tomatoes.

When the talk started and Ms. Melera showed a slide demonstrating how tomatoes first grew in Chile, but were first cultivated in a country to the North of Chile, G/Son called out, “Wait! That country is Mexico!” And he was right; tomatoes were first cultivated in Mexico. The talk was twenty minutes long. Midway through, Nonna broke out the Lunchables that she’d brought for G/Son (I’m not proud.) But G/Son paid attention all the way through and was rewarded when, near the end, Ms. Melera explained the “Nonsense” part of her title. She told us how the green-striped zebra tomato (which G/Son and Nonna buy in the Summer at the farmers’ market,) was developed by a man who, as a young boy, wanted to grow a green tomato to throw at people to make green goo. G/Son and Nonna laughed a lot (in fact, a lot more than any of the other (all grown up) people in the audience laughed) at that idea. G/Son also paid attention while Ms. Melera talked about two of her (and Nonna’s) favorite tomatoes: the pineapple tomato and the Black Krim, which G/Son and I came home to trace on a map from Chile, to Mexico, to Italy, to Russia, to America.

In the end, learning about how to grow tomatoes and about how people and this full-of-spirit plant have interacted over the centuries is almost as political an act as Occuping DC. I’m an old woman, sitting near the edge of the cliff, tossing breadcrumbs back, as far back as I can throw them, for my G/Son. Some of those crumbs are learning how to take deep breaths and make pictures of protection in our minds. Some of those crumbs are a discussion, when watching Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, about how it’s important for the leader of the country to identify with the landbase. And some of those crumbs are just the way that I make herb tea with honey for him, look at him with approval so that he’ll have yet another experience of what that feels like, play board games with him in our pajamas on Sunday morning, show him how I collect blue jay feathers, and the way that we snuggle, after reading Redwall, before bed.

Here’s a great list of political books for young children. I think that G/Son and I will be reading a number of them over the next few months.

And, at some point, we’ll get down to Occupy DC. This little person is the son of a kick-ass woman who puts bad people in jail and a father who practices kindness as an act of politics. He’s the G/Son of a feminist and the great grandson of a labor leader and a Catholic Worker activist. I’m going to make sure that the bread crumbs that I throw back from The Cliff show true.

Just take your time, G/Son. Don’t grow up too fast for your old Nonna, or, do, but, if you do, throw (in the way that the universe is changing and the Noosphere is growing) some crumbs back for me.

Picture found here.

Father Christmas (aka Old Sami Shaman)


Every year, about this time, G/Son & I read Tolkien’s Letters from Father Christmas. (A million years ago, I used to read it to his dad.) The part that G/Son likes best is the part when the North Polar Bear tries to carry too many presents down the stairs, trips, drops them, and falls down the stairs. We have a good laugh about that, and G/Son assures me that none of the presents destined for HIM got crushed. So far, that’s been true.

A few years ago, after we read the story for the first time, I began to make G/Son a cake version of Santa’s workshop, filled with uncrushed presents.

(Picture by the author. If you copy, please link back.)

This year, G/Son and his mom will make the cake and Nonna will show up to help decorate it. When this little soul was born, one thing that I promised the Goddess as I sat outside the room where his ‘rents were doing the magical work of bringing him through the veils, was that I would ground him in traditions that would sustain him into the 22nd Century, long after my ashes are, may it please the fates, fertilizing lilac bushes. I hope that this tradition is one.

What traditions do you create?

Picture found here.

Talking with G/Son about Hunger


This week, Son and DiL both found themselves invited to professional holiday parties on the same evening. I was happy to skip mine (Hmmm, party with economists or spend time with G/Son? Economists, G/Son? Not a difficult choice, although I love me some economic consultants. I do.) and spend the evening with G/Son. This elf-eared little man is lately quite interested in his ancestors and Son had been telling him some stories about my father. G/Son mentioned the stories and I said, “You know, one thing that my dad always taught me was that, if something is wrong in our country, it’s important to protest it. Like the OccupyDC people who are protesting that some people in America are too rich and some are too poor.”

G/Son said, “Nonna, if some people are too poor, can they make some things for themselves? Then they wouldn’t be poor.”

I said, “Well, to make things for yourself, you need raw materials. Like when I make you a sweater, I need yarn and knitting needles. And those cost money, too. So the Occupy people are camping out in the cold and rain to protest that some people are too poor.”

I told G/Son about how, when I was driving out from my office to his house, I passed a man who, a long time ago, fought in one of America’s wars and who was standing on a street corner yelling that he needed money to get something to eat. I told G/Son about how I gave him some money for food, and I said, “G/Son, That’s just wrong. That man should not have to beg for food. It’s wrong for anyone to not have enough to eat.”

G/Son thought about that and then (cutting right to the chase) he said, “Nonna, do some children not have enough to eat?”

And, you know, it just made me feel like the biggest failure in the world — me, the young revolutionary who was going to change everything for the better — to have to sit there all these years later and say to my grandson, “Yes, it’s true. There are children who don’t have enough to eat.” And I can’t say it (or even type it) without thinking about the deep, soul-satisfying, life-giving, rooted feeling that I have when I watch G/Son fill up on healthy food (Really. There is something scientifically measurable that makes the blood run better through my old veins, that eases the arthritis in my old hands, that strengthens the mitochondria in my old cells when I see that child eat his fill of good food, or snuggle warm and asleep under flannel sheets, or dress against the cold in mittens and socks) or the terrible feeling that some Nonnas must have when they watch their grandchildren not have enough.

And because I always cast about for an action to improve things whenever I feel unhappy with the current state of affairs, I said to G/Son, “Saturday, after we go to the Holiday Party and you see Santa, would you like to go down to the Occupy camp with me? I have some warm hats that I knitted for those people and maybe we could take them the caps and a bag of apples to eat.”

G/Son’s eyes lit up. He said, “Nonna, let’s take them your caps and some cans of clam chowder. Because clam chowder is the most deliciousest soup there is, and my mommy’s clam chowder is the best thing to eat, but some cans of clam chowder would be good, too. And if you’re outside, and hungry, and cold, you would really like to have some clam chowder to eat.”

And I said, “OK, that sounds like a good plan. We can take them warm caps and some clam chowder.”

It’s an old tradition in my family. When something’s wrong, we protest.

And when we’re too old or too young to protest, then we support the protesters.

I’ll be happy to take my privileged G/Son to the holiday party where he can have his picture taken with Santa, get a balloon sculpture, have a glitter tattoo, eat cookies and hot dogs and hamburgers and crab cakes and turkey and cheese and egg rolls and sushi and fruit and juice, and leave with a box of goodies.

But what I’m really looking forward to, old leftie that I am, is taking G/Son to his first protest site. My dad was a world champion weeper. I imagine that he’s already tearing up. Because — difficult relationship that we had, he and I — one thing that I know for sure is that, were he still on this plane, he’d be at OccupyDC. And he’d wear the hats that I’ve knitted and he’d eat the soup that G/Son will bring.

And so G/Son and I will honor not only our vision for the future, but also our ancestors.

May it be so for you.