Monday, December 21, 2009

I wish to share a happy story...

...that began very glumly. With a cut in pay to a third of what I was making less than two years ago, Cameron and I have scrambled to make ends meet, choosing to feed cats ahead of the people. Not that we've gone hungry, but that we give them Iams (less food eaten and less litter in the cat box needed) while we have eaten a lot of mac and cheese and such like. When Cameron's job ended last summer, we cinched our impoverished belt even tighter. Despite our lack of funds, miracles have continuously appeared. Each a blessing unlooked for. A generous and loving friend across the country put money in my paypal account, unasked. Friends praised my jewelry, things fell into place and I began my side business while attending grad classes, working full time, and spending time as a student therapist at the school's clinic.

When a friend suggested Barnyard Flea Market we checked it out and began vending. For the last six weeks I've beaded necklaces way past my bedtime, vended every weekend and walked around in a sleep deprived haze. Cameron has championed my efforts, providing biscuits, potty breaks and moral support. Cameron even created a panda bear focal point based on one of her paintings (which sold yesterday!).  We had some success at the flea market, but it was apparent that we were not in a venue that was appropriate for my work. We sometimes barely paid the table fee and bought hot chocolate. We lost money two weekends ago. One miraculous weekend we made $200 and were able to make it through the week. We worked out the table displays, improving weekly the putting up and taking down process.

Yet my work didn't seem to sell  like I thought it should. Sure, friends were buying here and there, but I could chalk that up to friendly generosity. My boss commission some pieces, but I still was loosing faith. Then an email came challenging my creativity and offering a fair price for my work and I wept (dearest sister, you know who you are--I look forward to beginning to create them next week!). The next day co-workers looking for last minute gifts received their Christmas necklaces from my boss that she had commissioned and started buying. And more today. And six more tomorrow!

What a joy to have my work appreciated. Cameron's excitedly anticipating a trip to the grocery story today for more than Ramen noodles, and I'm merrily planning my next commission. And my joy is so great that I needed to share my own Yule miracle.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Follow Your Vision

Despite the winter storm of last night, warming temperatures during the night cleared the roads and I was at work at 5am this morning for my monthly turn at working a Saturday. It was uneventful except for the constant calls inquiring if we were open. Given that the owner lives five minutes from the clinic and folks can't go without their medication, of course we were open.

From there I went to Barnyard to begin the last weekend of vending. Melting snow and ice had created a puddle on the table and I had to dig through the car for an old towel to dry it. Since we had a winter storm last night, Cameron had talked me out of putting out of putting extra energy into making the new displays. So I borrowed the table (the dry end) next to me and quickly stapled them together. Yea! We now have professional looking displays.

Crowds were thin, vendors arrived late or not at all, and I imbibed in a lot of hot chocolate.We sold a few things (sold a fair amount yesterday at work, so I'm not complaining!), and with dropping temperatures, decided to pack up early. A lovely lady from down the way came over as I packed up, and truly inspired me.

She told me about a local church that invested in her beginning her small business of baking bread. She uses quality ingredients, but folks complain of her prices, even when she reminds them that they aren't paying for white bread. Last summer she got a number of customers who asked for zucchini bread. She doesn't like making zucchini bread. Her vision of her business doesn't include zucchini bread.  But after several requests, she finally yielded and baked zucchini bread. The very customers who asked for zucchini bread did not come to her table to buy. Instead, they crossed the aisle to avoid her table and kept walking. She no longer compromises her vision. She just bakes banana nut bread.

Customers complain that all I have is "that glass shit," and Southerners must "wear a lot of glass." Customers complain of my prices (I'm making about $.50 an hour). Customers want this or that, but not what I have on the table. We had requests for pandas week after week. I put one on the table and it's gone unsold for weeks. Never mind them, I'm off to festivals next year where hand made beads and hours of time designing necklaces might be appreciated...and I can follow my vision.

Monday, December 14, 2009

It's Monday

And it's foggy and rainy, and I'm tired of the blues. So I stepped over to one of my favorite blogs for a little joy and a smile. I thought I'd share it with you, my cyber family .  A Fanciful Twist has such a joyful approach to living. While I'm too old and too jaded to be so cheerful, it does make me smile: )

And after I a weekend at the flea market, which was a bust, I need a smile. We payed $28 for a table for two days. Saturday was so cold that no one came to our forlorn, unprotected row. I made $6. We didn't even bother to go back on Sunday since it was equally cold and rainy. Instead, Cameron rested her hips on the futon while Brilliant and I made polymer clay beads, which turned out fabulous!

Next week is the last weekend before Christmas. I hope to make enough to pay off the payday loan I had to get for cat food and gas money. Nevertheless, today I am warm,  I have a job, however low paying, and I deliver two commission necklaces to a friend. She'll be blown away at them!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Burned Out

Before I begin, I'll acknowledge that December has been my burnout month for many years. Having observed a school/semester schedule for 14 or more years of my adult life, I have often noted that by this time of the year I've begun streamlining, eliminating and dumping every person, responsibility and request possible. So take the following with a grain of salt. The feelings are appropriate and authentic. The perspective is narrow and exhausted.

I planned this year very carefully. I began this round Feb, 2007 (the third return to grad school, previous experiences in IL and GA in English and technical writing). I'm working on an Ed.S and will have spent four years and 88 semester hours when I'm done. We don't discuss the student loans. I began the practicum in Feb officially, but entered with approximately 30 hours I gathered in Dec and Jan that applied (500 hours total are required). I hit the ground running, clocking 45-60 hours a month, while working full time and attending classes. I know me, and I knew where the burn out would hit, and what I had to do to survive. I predicted myself down to the month. I started slowing down at my school site several months ago, and dropped from 12-15 hours of therapy a month to 5 last month. I've gone from 3 hours a week of supervision a week to 1. Everything has gone exactly as it should. I've even got the videos ready to edit for clinical comps next month. Without overwhelming financial burdens, I might have even survived better than expected because I had used my time and resources so wisely.

Having lost my home twice, once in the nineties and again in early 2000, I have become very sensitized to the possibility of loss. I bought my old, scruffy trailer because it fit my budget. It needed a great deal of work, has received some work such a roof, extreme repairs to outdoor siding where insulation was showing, a couple thousand in plumbing, and appliances. We removed the carpet following an ice storm that knocked out the power for several weeks. With so many animals at the time, it was ruined when we couldn't clean it without electricity for hot water and a steam cleaner. We've lived on the subfloors for several years now, simply because we haven't had the funds for more (can we say extremely high electric bill EVERY month?). We did manage to lay inexpensive linoleum in the dining room, which as become the repository of cat boxes rather than people.

With student loans coming in, Cameron's painting when the opportunity presents itself, and the miracle of guardian angels who have periodically helped (you know who you are, thank you again), we have limped by. And today we will limp by again. But the wear and tear is showing. My edges are frazzled. My knee has gone out and I'm using a cane this week (don't have sure footing, if interpreted metaphysically). Tuesday night, I reached a breaking point, screamed my anguish and fear, and now I've lost my voice (I haven't written here in weeks, so lost it metaphysically several weeks ago).

Out of desperation, I've been making necklaces like crazy, thinking to sell them at the local flea market. The other vendors all tell me I am a year late. Up until a year ago in April, the flea market was prosperous. However, continued layoffs in our geographical area have results in a desperate shift. Folks aren't coming to the flea market to buy necklaces anymore (one vendor said I could have expected $600-$700 a weekend in the flush days). Now they come looking for food and warm socks. I make $50 last weekend, and it cost $28 to be there. The previous weekend was better, but only because I sold things just above cost to pay the car insurance. Of course, cost of gas and groceries goes up, but my paycheck does not. My boss is too busy vacationing in Vegas.

Having been a debt collector, I have no fear of them anymore. I remember when I hid from the phone, crying because I couldn't pay money I owed. The only thing that shakes me now is when they can take something away from me. On November 30, I got one of those calls: "We are on the way to pick up your rent-to-own storage building. We'll be there in an hour." Our trailer is very small. And 4,000 books, camping equipment, and miscellaneous stuff that doesn't fit the trailer resides in that 12x10 building. It's more than half paid for.

I freaked. Usually Tina calls and gives me time to make the payment. She claims to have left messages. I didn't get them. Since I missed a vital client call this week as well, I believe her. A kind friend bought some necklaces on the spot, once again bailing me out. But on December 8 Tina called back, saying we are two months late, again, and they were coming on Friday to take the building. Shesh. Normally they'll wait till the payday at the end of the month. Not any more. Once again we scrambled, found a friend, bartered goods, and I talked Tina into waiting for Monday. I had hoped to depend on funds from the flea market, being this close to Christmas things should pick up. But the weather forecast is not promising. So the friend's offer stands, and it'll be paid.

On the one hand, moving to SC is the first time in my life that friends and loved ones have helped, taken care of me, been there. I have family of choice who come to support me at the flea market, barter for Cameron's haircut, provide funds when we have nowhere to turn. I am no longer isolated, without resources or friendless. This child of abuse, disrupted attachment, and neglect is overwhelmed by the love and outpouring of support. And I make beautiful necklaces, so I offer goods in return. There have been gifts and charity, but also honest exchange of money and goods, which soothes my sense of being. My therapist says I need to believe the universe will provide, and it has.

On the other hand, the universe didn't always provide, and the losses out number the gains. When I moved to South Carolina, I called myself a winnowed woman. Like the biblical image of women throwing grain into the air to separate the chaff from the wheat, my life had been thrown in the air to separate the valuable from the trash. At that time, there wasn't much left. I had friends, including Cameron and Luna who took me in. My connection to Luna led to a job. A friend paid for my storage and I lived in 1/2 of Cameron's small studio. I had lost my sons (one still does not speak to me). It was a hard time.

Compared to those days, my life has improved considerably. Cameron and I are together. I have amazing friends, in California, in Atlanta, here is South Carolina. I have people who love me, will give me anything they have available, who value and honor my life, my person, my work. Nevertheless, I'm raw and I'm exhausted. We've had both cars repaired ($400 each), plumbing repair and subsequent high water bills ($900), missed electric payment resulted in $250 deposit, and the list goes on. It doesn't take much, living on the edge, to fall off. Especially if it happens within six weeks. We've survived this far because of our CA angel (goddess bless you, my friend, the cars run, the water leak no longer runs through the air vents under my floorboards, and the plumber insulated the pipes).

Not an unreasonable state, really, all things considered. I work full time. I am in graduate school. I just finished the most emotionally difficult class yet, which left me triggered and wounded (the class dealt with child abuse and taught by a cognitive behavioral therapist who has no clue how much harm it was doing to several of us). Cameron's work ran out, and the promised December work didn't materialize because of budget cuts. I'm staying up nights making jewelry for a flea market that is not the right market for my work. Moreover, this is a challenging and difficult time for my clients (as attested to by the late night emergency phone call from one after I went to bed last night). I'm sleep deprived, in pain from knee and scarcely have any voice around the damage I did earlier in the week.

I believe in what we are doing. Vocational Rehab is helping Cameron with tuition and will be extremely invested in finding her a job (with insurance so she can get the other hip replacement) and work around her learning disability. Indeed, she's amazing with teens and with her art therapy, they'd be crazy not to find a good nitch for her. I graduate next year, and with a lisence won't be limited to my current job which does not pay a livable wage. Hopefully, my two year internship will earn enough to cover the additional student loan payment. And I believe in this jewelry business that has thus far generated $800 that we might not have had otherwise. In a better market (festivals, Pagan Pride, etc) we should do well. Currently, I'm transferring two clients to new therapists in January, and no longer have to attend group supervision. My Gender Identity Disorder client will stay with me through the spring semester, but my other two will be reassigned in March or April. I only have to attend one hour of supervision. Moreover, I'm taking an independent study and child art therapy class next spring, which will provide some healing.

Yes, I have an appointment with my own therapist on Monday. Yes, I have help at the flea market this weekend from Cameron and Brilliant, who is spending the weekend and a delight to be around. I'm doing as right as possible. Nevertheless, I've been off my blog for as long as I've been in crisis. Surprisingly, I still have hope. I can see how things may work out next year, and we actually might be able to exchange gifts valued at more than $5 for the first time ever next year (yep, always seems to hit in Dec but we have each other and all that mush!). But today I'm burnt. I'm exhausted. And I'm going to freeze my ass off at the flea market tomorrow with highs in the 40s and rain on Sunday!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Financial Stress: A Rant

So many platitudes exist regarding being wealthy in friends or loved ones, yet ignore the deeper wound. Here I sit, almost fifty years of age, over educated and under employed, making less money than I did in the nineties, unable to pay the phone and cable, or buy groceries, and praying for yet another miracle. Pardon my gloom; maybe it's weather in addition to my bank balance, but in the hierarchy of needs, I'm still at ground zero.

Yes, I know how to count my blessings. I am loved beyond measure. But Cameron needs dental work and we can't afford it. I need groceries, and we can't afford that either. On the blessing side, our guardian angel recently materialized with enough to cover two huge car repairs and the electric bill (still was turned off overnight). Oh, and did I mention the $400 plumbing bill and the additional $300 in water after it was adjusted? My water bills are usually $20 a month! Cameron still needs a transmission (come on student loan), the electric company wants a $250 deposit, and I can't make it to the next payday. Indeed, another angel has agreed to defer my car payments until I afford groceries. Goddess bless her!

I also know how to do magick. I do see the pattern of miracles that have made survival possible. I do recognize my hard work, and Cameron's, in our attempts to provide for ourselves. She is at my side at the flea market, running errands, adding in her earnings (can we say people don't want to pay for art?) And tonight I'll do my prosperity spell and open myself to the possibilities that the universe has to offer. And one more time a miracle will come. But I have to admit, this insecurity is getting old. I am educated. I work hard. My boss pays me half what I made less year, which was down $20,000 from ten years before that. Every month I'm $700 short. Oh, the boss was in Vegas last month, St Thomas the month before (continue the monthly pattern since the beginning of the year), and has put a freeze on pay raises.

I had hoped the flea market would get us through. While we had the best weekend yet, $90 isn't a lot. Especially when I paid $14 a day for the table. Someone who also sells jewelry told me that until April of this year, he averaged $5,000 a month at the flea market. Now he makes $100-$200 a weekend. They are hurting, too. The flea market, however, is providing what I need to be successful at festivals next year. I hear the festivals are still going strong and money is good. Unfortunately, I can only make jewelry one piece at a time. I can only buy velveteen and display stands when jewelry sells. And without all those things, I can't create a portfolio to submit for acceptance to festivals next year. And since when do jewelers have to submit a portfolio anyway? The folks that have been doing this for a while tell me that they never did. So I must not be the only one looking for creative solutions to financial disasters!

I'll post pictures of some of my jewelry that is for sale. Anyone's interested, let me know!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Happy Birthday, Cameron!

It's those quite moments in the middle of the night, when I prepare for work, while I find it hardest to go. Leaving the warmth of our bed, the protection of your love has become a daily challenge. Yet I also feel blessed. The house is silent except for the quite mews of the furbabies who want attention. You lie peaceful in your sleep, beautiful, wonderful, precious.

For six years we've shared this intimacy. Five years we've lived together, building a quiet life of miracles.

I tease you about coming out "half baked". Beneath the humor lies a reminder how amazing you are, that you are here, that you walk, that you are whole. Today is your birthday. May it be special. Know that you are loved beyond all measure.

TSG13 Remembering Our Dead

Unabashedly stolen from Alissa because it is important and we must always remember:

Because when one person's rights and safety are denied, so are we all endangered.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Feeling Subversive Today

Maybe fussing about panties got me on a roll. Or maybe I've been too busy making necklaces lately to bitch. But today I am exhausted, cranky, and ready to give the world a piece of my mind. Next item on my list: "I Believe" license plates. US District Judge Cameron Curry ruled "I Believe" license plates to be illegal because it violates the First Amendment ban on establishment of religion by government. At least our judges have some sense. Unfortunately, my Christian brothers have a plan B to get a similar plate issued using a state law that permits private groups to issue tags they design.

There are a great many things that might be said about this issue. But at the crux of this issue lies a basic inequality in how this country views anything that is not Christian, that is not heterosexual, or that is any kind of "otherness". Until I can not only put a pentacle or a gay flag on my license, but also know that I am totally safe dong so, Christians have no right to put such license plates on the road. Eventually, such a mentality will lead to a world where if I don't sport such a profession of faith or heterosexuality or other party acceptance, that my otherness will still put me in danger.

Panties: A Love/Hate Relationship

I adore Body Impolitic simply because it celebrates real people. When Cameron sent me an IM this morning, I hurried over to see what they are up to this time. The heading "Everyone Likes Panties. Don’t They?" screamed at me. After reading the blog, I also scanned the comments to find my own Cameron's comment included. Of course I could not resist and included my own rant. You are invited to investigate!


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Finding my Niche

We have agreed to spend every weekend between now and Christmas at the Flea Market selling jewelry. However, I don't believe it is the best market for my work. Yet getting in front of the right people is costly! I investigated the holiday sale in Greenville this year: $600 per table. The stopped accepting jewelry July 31. This is not a cheap adventure.

My plan: be at the Flea Market for Valentines, Mother's Day, and holiday purchases. Otherwise, I need to attend Gay Pride in Atlanta (equally pricey as Greenville for a table, maybe walk the sidewalks with pride bracelets; Gay Pride in Charlotte, Columbia and Ashville; Pagan Pride in same locations, and a couple of festivals like Lyman Fest. So I'm looking up dates,cost, and deadlines and making plans.

 On a happy note, I made a dozen necklaces over the weekend that will sell for $12 each or 2 for $20. Half a dozen hearts and half a dozen spirals.  The purchased items are shown here. I'll post pictures of completed work later in the week.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Meet Me in Paris

This is an amazing photo essay that I want to share. Have a box of Kleenex handy and tell your family that you love them.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Maine voters reject gay-marriage law

I grieve. I don't even have words for how deeply this wounds the soul. Obviously, in no way does legal saction to marry my wife destroy another's marital rights. NOTHING changes for heterosexual people. And yet I'm such a threat, every state sees fit to deny my right to marry. The trick is in the advertising. By voting to uphold the institution of marriage, rather than voting for homosexual people to marry, then the advertising implies the voter is simply upholding the institution of marriage, rather than voting to deny  my rights. I've written about this little problem previously. Click on the label "Brian Brown" following the article.

By GLENN ADAMS and DAVID CRARY, Associated Press Writers Glenn Adams And David Crary, Associated Press Writers – 12 mins ago

PORTLAND, Maine – Maine voters repealed a state law Tuesday that would have allowed same-sex couples to wed, dealing the gay rights movement a heartbreaking defeat in New England, the corner of the country most supportive of gay marriage.

Gay marriage has now lost in every single state — 31 in all — in which it has been put to a popular vote. Gay-rights activists had hoped to buck that trend in Maine — known for its moderate, independent-minded electorate — and mounted an energetic, well-financed campaign.

With 87 percent of the precincts reporting, gay-marriage foes had 53 percent of the votes.

"The institution of marriage has been preserved in Maine and across the nation," declared Frank Schubert, chief organizer for the winning side.

Gay-marriage supporters held out hope that the tide would shift before conceding defeat at 2:40 a.m. in a statement that insisted they weren't going away.

"We're in this for the long haul. For next week, and next month, and next year — until all Maine families are treated equally. Because in the end, this has always been about love and family and that will always be something worth fighting for," said Jesse Connolly, manager of the pro-gay marriage campaign.

At issue was a law passed by the Maine Legislature last spring that would have legalized same-sex marriage. The law was put on hold after conservatives launched a petition drive to repeal it in a referendum.

The outcome Tuesday marked the first time voters had rejected a gay-marriage law enacted by a legislature. When Californians put a stop to same-sex marriage a year ago, it was in response to a court ruling, not legislation.

Five other states have legalized gay marriage — starting with Massachusetts in 2004, and followed by Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut and Iowa — but all did so through legislation or court rulings, not by popular vote. In contrast, constitutional amendments banning gay marriage have been approved in all 30 states where they have been on the ballot.

The defeat left some gay-marriage supporters bitter.

"Our relationship is between us," said Carla Hopkins, 38, of Mount Vernon, with partner Victoria Eleftherio, 38, sitting on her lap outside a hotel ballroom where gay marriage supporters had been hoping for a victory party. "How does that affect anybody else? It's a personal thing."

The contest had been viewed by both sides as certain to have national repercussions. Gay-marriage foes desperately wanted to keep their winning streak alive, while gay-rights activists sought to blunt the argument that gay marriage was being foisted on the country by courts and lawmakers over the will of the people.

Had Maine's law been upheld, the result would probably have energized efforts to get another vote on gay marriage in California, and given a boost to gay-marriage bills in New York and New Jersey.

Earlier Tuesday, before vote-counting began, gay-marriage foe Chuck Schott of Portland warned that Maine "will have its place in infamy" if the gay-rights side won.

Another Portland resident, Sarah Holman said she was "very torn" but decided — despite her conservative upbringing — to vote in favor of letting gays marry.

"They love and they have the right to love. And we can't tell somebody how to love," said Holman, 26.

In addition to reaching out to young people who flocked to the polls for President Barack Obama a year ago, gay-marriage defenders tried to appeal to Maine voters' pronounced independent streak and live-and-let-live attitude.

The other side based many of its campaign ads on claims — disputed by state officials — that the new law would mean "homosexual marriage" would be taught in public schools.

Both sides in Maine drew volunteers and contributions from out of state, but the money edge went to the campaign in defense of gay marriage, Protect Maine Equality. It raised $4 million, compared with $2.5 million for Stand for Marriage Maine.

Elsewhere on Tuesday, voters in Washington state voted on whether to uphold or overturn a recently expanded domestic partnership law that entitles same-sex couples to the same state-granted rights as heterosexual married couples. With half the precincts reporting, that race was too close to call.

In Kalamazoo, Mich., voters approved a measure that bars discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Challenge of Flea Markets

(posted concurrently on beading blog)

There are two flea markets near my home. Barnyard Flea Market is huge, and part of chain of flea markets. Capitalizing on its success, half a mile away and closer to the interstate is Peddler's Junktion, (yes, they spell it wrong intentionally) a much smaller outfit. Barnyard has billboard advertising and excellent restrooms. The Junktion is older, built on a hill, and has poor restrooms. Their future advantage is that they are building storage like buildings and locating in the parking space behind the table. So if you rent a storage building, you get the table and a permanent place to set up for half the cost. With little foot traffic last Saturday, it would not have helped me.

The day was cold and raining. We got the tarp (provided by the flea market) dropped and set up the table. Mostly the only people to visit our table were other vendors. I spent $14 for the table, $6 for a hotdog lunch for two, brought my own drinks, and made three necklaces. Cameron says that at least I had the opportunity to bead in a cat-free environment!

Barnyard requires rental to be paid two weeks ahead of time, which is the furthest out they will book a table. So we've paid for the next two weekends, and we'll see how it goes.

I've run out of focal points and am waiting on the mail, so I'm taking a bit of a break for a couple of days to catch up on my life!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Hate Crime Legislation has Passed at Last!

The headline reads: "Obama Signs Measure to Widen Hate Crimes Law." President Obama has signed a measure making it illegal to "assault people based on gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability. Federal hate crimes protections already cover race, ethnicity and religion." About damn time. But what will it mean?

The article states "More than 77,000 hate-crime incidents were reported nationwide by the FBI between 1998 and 2007." The reason they say "more than" is because I live in a state that has no hate crime legislation. I live in a state where Sean Kennedy was murdered and his killer served less than two years. I live in a state where local Christians picket gays in front of the building where a pay my personal property taxes.
“After more than a decade of opposition and delay, we've passed inclusive hate crimes legislation to help protect our citizens from violence based on what they look like, who they love, how they pray, or who they are,” President Obama said before he signed the bill.
For the first time ever, states like South Carolina that have no hate crime legislation can prosecute hate crime. Moreover, the statistics can now be compiled to add to the national statistics. I strongly suspect a number of people will be shocked at the sudden spike in statistics when states like our begin reporting hate crime to the FBI.

My East Facing Window

Clients like to tease me about my small office. It was created by splitting off a space from the doctor's office. Originally inteded to become the cash office, I have a split door and a very narrow space. Clients often lead on the bottom half of the door exchanging pleasantries and providing additional personal space. Indeed, my office measures about 4 1/2 feet by 10 feet. With an east facing window, I once pointed out that making a cash office might be dangerous. So when they offered the space as my first office as a counselor, I accepted. I enjoy being at the front of the building and out of the drama flow.

After being in my office several weeks, a counselor resigned and I was offered larger space. I declined. I have the only office in the building with an east facing window! I enjoy watching the sunrise and progression of the seasons. With the natural light, I find I have less depression. Indeed, I've created such wonderfully inviting space that clients, many not even my own, drop in to compliment me on my office.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

My House x 19

Gotta love it!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Blue Spiral

So we have checked out the flea market and it looks like no one does exactly what I can do. Indeed, some of the glass focal pieces are available from other vendors, so I'll know not to bother to stock them, but all the other vendors put their glass on ribbons or cords. And charge a fortune to do it!

Moreover, no one stocks these spiral pieces. I'm working on business cards and marketing ideas this week. I'll also be spending the next two weeks creating more necklaces. Can't get a table for next week as they were all taken. Tough on the finances, but better for preparation.

I'm also trying to finish the commission for my boss. She bought 12 focal pieces that I am beading for her. I hope to finish them today. Pictures to follow!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Checking out the Competition

Headed to Barnyard Flea Market today to check out the competition! Notebook in hand, I have a list of the regular jewelry dealers. I plan to follow up on a report that no one does the kind of work I do. My work involves a lot of glass focal pieces strung with seed beads, accent beads, etc. Most folks selling these focal pieces stick them on string or ribbon.

This afternoon we have a date with Misbeavin'. Going to draw upon her artistic and business skills to set up a website to sell my work, as well as to do some photography. New display boards and camera are waiting in the car.

And today I'm more motivated than ever. The Boss Man owns a multimillion dollar business. This year he's taken a pleasure trip every month --this month was a week in Vegas. My immediate boss left him messages all week reminding him of the payroll. I had to use half an hour of comp time waiting around for my check to arrive yesterday. Because of the recent water leak (still have to pay very steep bill despite the discount), I wanted cash to go to the water company. So I went to a branch of my boss' bank to cash the check. It bounced!

 A few phone calls later, I figured out that payroll was in the previous day's intake. (I've always known his money handling was a bit odd.) Apparently it takes a bank an extra step to process payroll, so the Boss' branch bank had to be called to speed it up. In fact, my pissed-off boss called the bank president and twenty minutes later I had my money. I'm still deeply disturbed that my well being depends upon such unethical practice. Shouldn't a business this large have a nice balance in case of any unexpected bills? The building is paid for.

So finding a second source of income seems increasing imperative. I've worked for companies that bounced checks. Don't care to repeat the experience.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Turning a Hobby into a Job

While my boss profits at something around $300,000 plus a year, he has stopped all pay raises. He also does not offer health insurance. Since my paycheck does not go as far as it did even a year ago, prices keep going up after all, I've been trying to find ways to make ends meet. Random people have praised my jewelery over the last year as I have snuck a few dollars here or there to Michael's for something pretty. Then a few weeks ago, my boss asked me to accept a commission. She had already bought the focal points (should have talked to me first - I can get them far cheaper than what she paid!), and wanted to know if I would create the necklaces to go with them. I sighted her a rock bottom price (she's not getting a pay raise this year either!), and she brought me the focal points.

In the mean time, I got the bright idea of vending a Pagan Pride. Given that the rain never stopped and the temperatures never hit 60, and it was Clemson's homecoming weekend, I thought we did very well with $75 in cash and bartered goods worth about the same. Cameron got lots of cool loot, which should lure her out the next time I want to do such a thing! Maybe next time I'll also barter for something I want! LOL

So I've been shopping ebay, building stock, and plan to visit Barnyard Flea Market this weekend. It has an excellent reputation and would probably be a good place to cater to the Christmas crowd. Cameron and I will head over this weekend to scope it out and to pay the fee (cash only, paid in advance) and the following weekend I hope to be in business! Wouldn't it be a hoot if I could make as much or more than what I do as a counselor working for Scrooge?

Soon to come: Glass Dream Blog. There'll be a link from here to there...but not in reverse to protect my Christian customers. : )

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Upstate of South Carolina Pagan Pride Day

October 17, 2009 at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Clemson 226 Pendleton Rd., Clemson, SC

Cameron and I have been offline for the last week, since Priestess told us about PPD at Clemson, SC. In my enthusiasm, I signed our fledgling grove up to vend. Then I had to create the necklaces and other jewlery I wanted to sell! I'll post a few here when I can.

I also have received my first commission order. My boss bought ten focal pieces and asked me to design a necklace around them. I cut her a good deal and she's excited by the work I've been doing.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Not in My Bible

Some days I want to disavow the Christian church all together. This from our local paper:

Church Members Protest President: Group Rallies the First Sunday of Each Month
By Gary Glancy & Kim Kimzey
Staff writers

Published: Monday, October 5, 2009 at 3:15 a.m.

There were no counter marcheers, no police and not much fanfare, but about 50 members of the all ages from true Light Pentecost Church publicly vocalized their frustrations with President Barack Obama on Sunday.

Marching with a small brass section that played hymns such as "Lord I Want to Thank You," and "Victory is Mine" along North church Street from the Spartanburg County Administration Building to Krispy Kreme next door, the church rally opposed the president's position on abortion and homosexuality.

The held signs that included "America was founded on the belief of the true God. What happened?"; "The early church did not fear the sodomites";' and "President Obama continues to allow the innocent slaughter of babies...abortion is pre-meditated first degree murder."

After the march, Prophet H. Walker, overseer of True Light, delivered a sermon through a bullhorn condemning homosexuality, and saying "leadership causes this problem to manifest itself."

The only interaction with the public came as church leaders handed out fliers promotion their message to motorists stopped at the traffic light in front of the administration building.
I find the image frightening. I wish these people would read their bible before they spew hate. I am one to choose to argue scripture. I leave that to Cameron, to my priest, and to my own heart. However, I am deeply troubled by pickets reading "Modern Term: Homosexuality-Lesbian. Bible Term: Sodomites I Kings... I have to wonder if they have any idea that Sodomite is a term used by the King James bible, and can't even be found in some other translations such as NIV. Indeed, this is from the Purple Pew:

The men of Sodom forcibly sodomized foreigners and strangers as way to claim authority and dominance. As the bible passage says, all the people were present, including the women and children. The entire city was wicked. The Sodomites were prideful, haughty, slothful gluttons who had respect of persons, cared not a whit for the poor, and did not follow the ways of the Lord (Ezekiel 16:55-56). The act of anal sex is called sodomy today not because the men were homosexual -- for Ezekiel says they had daughters, and if they had daughters then they had wives -- but because the men of Sodom (in the presence of their wives) used anal sex as a weapon to control, humiliate, and show contempt for their enemies: foreigners and strangers.
So Sodomites were rapists, which the people of True Light Pentecost Church equate with homosexuals. Hmmm.....can it get more wrong than this???

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Caster Semenya and Womanhood

To repeat the same question offered across the net, why must Caster Semenya wear glamorous clothes, burgundy nail polish and let her hair down to be perceived as a woman? I find it alarming regarding the message we send our young women. Certainly outward appearance does not define womanhood. Or does it?

It pains me to live in a society where youth and beauty define the person. Where one's achievements are measured by one's genitalia. The secretary of world athletics body IAAF, Pierre Weiss, said: "It is clear that she is a woman but maybe not 100 per cent." Reports have it that an Indian woman underwent a similar situation, and later attempted suicide. Indeed, Caster was placed on suicide watch immediately after her test results were "leaked".

I find so much in this story to be troubling. Certainly the fact that men do have a physical advantage over women is troubling to my feminist soul which screams for equality. I also find it troubling that a woman with feminine genitalia can have her gender questioned based on running quickly and having a deep voice. I also am troubled by a professional organization that would leak such critically sensitive test results so that a woman like Caster might learn the results in the media, rather than privately. Moreover, I am deeply troubled my Caster's appearance in a magazine sporting ultra feminine clothing, cosmetics and hair, and quoted as saying things like “I’d like to dress up more often and wear dresses but I never get the chance. I’d also like to learn to do my own make-up” and: “I’ve never bought my own clothes – my mum buys them for me. But now that I know what I can look like, I’d like to dress like this more often.”

Monday, October 5, 2009

Beer, Lesbians, Gender Dysphoria and the Episcopal Priest

I grew up in the Church of Christ. Oh, and my daddy was a preacher. For those who aren't familiar with that non-denominational Christian church, they have very strict rules. No drinking. No dancing. Grape juice for communion. No piano or chores. Everything is sung acapella. No mixed bathing (swimming). The list goes on and on. In a word, they are very restrictive.

Having been a member of the United Methodist Church before I turned nine, I missed the choir, the pageantry, the ritual. Especially since we lived in Bloomington, Indiana and the Indiana University music department often contributed to Sunday morning worship in a variety of ways.

My very pagan soul fell in love with Holy Cross Episcopal Church the first time I attended. Easter Sunday is High Church, and the pageantry and ritual was a balm to my very wounded soul. Six years later, I finally have made the decision to join (Cameron joined about six years ago). I've attended the prerequisite class and next Sunday the Bishop will welcome new members.

This church as been amazing to us. When Cameron had hip surgery, members drove 45 minutes to serve us communion. Of course Mother Linda was also at the hospital during surgery. She was present with me when I requested a rite of absolution prior to taking my third degree in wicca. I wear my pentacle when I take communion. All are welcome. Including our gay selves.

As a part of the discussion during that class, I quizzed Father Mike on the church's stance, and his own, related to GLBTQ people. He mentioned reservations regarding the Q part of that community, having read something written by priest who denied sexual identity in such a way he seemed to deny is own "isness". Father Mike had a hard time seeing how one could deny such an essential part of self.

Which is what led to two lesbians and one priest having a beer a Logan's. The poor waitress almost had a heart attack when we introduced ourselves and she realized she was serving beer to a priest! Ah, the joy of Episcopalians, whose love of the soul does not denounce the gifts of God/dess to the flesh!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Resignation from Human Race

Some days I want to resign from the human race. This feeling is not provoked by having the flu for two weeks (the reason for the sparse postings from this rather prolific gay witch), but by my outrage at this homophobic culture. Here's an example:

The United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida today rejected Lambda Legal’s lawsuit filed against Jackson Memorial Hospital on behalf of Janice Langbehn, the Estate of Lisa Pond and their three adopted children who were kept apart by hospital staff for eight hours as Lisa slipped into a coma and died.
But it's not just our women and children who cope with discrimination. Here's one soldier's story:

The rate of suicide by gays and lesbians is higher than that of the general population. Military gay personnel are still subject to those same problems as the rest of the homosexual population, but gays and lesbians have fewer opportunities to deal with these problems. While overseas or home, “don’t ask don’t tell” greatly harms the ability of a soldier to get the care he needs.
I can't even phrase my outrage at such discrimination coherently.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Hep, Depression and Anxiety

While hepetitis may not create its own form of anxiety, certainly having hepetitis can result in anxiety. Indeed, "data suggest that anxiety disorders are not a specific consequence of CHC, but rather reflect the stress associated with the awareness of a chronic progressive disease."

While clients may suffer from this chronic disease, doctors don't seem to recognize the seriousness of the symptoms, or want to say other conditions are creating the anxiety, the depression, or the fatigue. So when a client presents, distressed and wanting treatment, the doctor may deny the client their much needed treatment out of concern for the secondary psychiatric symptoms. Yet depression and anxiety plague the population who also has Hepetitis C. Indeed, research shows that:
These limitations notwithstanding, the prevalence of psychiatric disorders is likely to be higher in patients with hepatitis C than the general population given the major routes of transmission for this virus.
So the very conditions of stress and anxiety that lead people into self medication and drug addiction may be what prevents their eventual treatment for Hepetitis C. Indeed, a recent study showed that "between 26% and 34% of hepatitis C-positive patients in this study met criteria for mood, anxiety, or personality disorders." So my client's anxiety gets hightened even more because they cannot receive treatment for their hepetitis C because the medications used can increase depression and anxiety. Hmmm.... I think my anxiety and depression would go through the roof from lack of treatment!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Having the Flu can be Quite Instructive

I've been offline, for the most part, for the last week because I have had some variant of the flu. I don't claim to be well today, only somewhat better. I only missed one day of work last week, but I had to cancel all of my appointments with my clients at the teaching clinic. One had asked for an emergency appointment, which I did not keep. I did, however, make an exception to my cancellations and kept one scheduled appointment.

Despite extensive, sensitive payment arrangements and other compromises, I have a client that is very unhappy with me. I suppose I expect too much. Or that my simple presence, coughing, hacking and blowing my nose, would be enough. Guess not. Now today I have a unique opportunity to become a target. I'm about to go completely out of my way, and with this borderline personality disorder, very likey to get the blame if things go poorly. Some days I have to wonder just what was I thinking when I wanted to be a therapist.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Cost of Insurance Outweighs Police Protection in SC

One more reason to be ashamed of being from SC. Wellford, just down the road from me, no longer allows either foot chases or car chases because of the threat of insurance claims. The mayor believes that insurance charges outweight catching criminals!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The following question was posed on my favorite egroup: Having renounced my first degree when I renounced my Wiccan tradition recently, the experience has shaped my view on initiation, and I would pose this question to everyone - what do you think about the permanence of initiations? Once initiated is it forever or can it be lost or given up?

It took five years to work myself to initiation. Started with the Eternal Harvest tradition....declined initiation. Went to the Unicorns....problems there; I had to leave due to the instability of the situation. I went to an eclectic fairey Priestess who was a part of community eldership, but not in an active coven. Did the work, and had the most amazing initiation I could possibly describe. Seven third degrees in their tradition (Cameron represented Christianity) challenged and welcomed me in a ritual drama of Inanna's journey. It was exactly what it should be...and the last sacred act of the Priestess. She was bipolar and her illness spiraled out of control. She has subsequently left Wicca. In the throws of her illness, she once said to me that she should have never initiated me and that she'd undo it if she could. Sent me into a profound spiritual crisis in which I wrestled much as I hear you wrestling.

I struggled long and hard with what makes an initiate. For me, I believe we reach that stage of spiritual growth in which we have spiritual encounter with Deity which is then honored in community. If we believe ourselves to be initiates and we have a witness or two for the ceremony in which that initiation is witnessed, I believe we are Initiates. And I believe that initiation cannot be taken away by leaving the group, changing traditions, or even by curses of Priestess. In the case of warlocking, the person does not loose their status as an initiate. They are cut of from their internal source of magic/power instead.

In the case of my friend, it sounds like she renounced a tradition. OK, wise decision if she felt compelled to do so. But her initiation was witnessed and sealed by the group. What is done cannot be undone. Indeed, when she initiated, she took back the karmic responsibility her group/priest/priestess had to her, and accepted responsibility for herself. The only way she can be uninitiated, I believe, is for her to renounce her initiation (but I'm kinda like the Christians that believe once baptized always saved--once initiated, always marked by the goddess).

I think I've gotten so distanced from working within a tradition that I've really changed my feelings about what initiation means. I once trained within a tradition that have all of these things very carefully delineated...I've been away from that space for almost seven years. Now I've come to see dedication as the time of dedicating ourselves to learning about a path. Initiation becomes a place where we meet Deity within community. Certainly, there can be additional benefits if a tradition has an inner court system.

I agree that renouncing other paths can be extremely inappropriate. Even when I was with the Unicorns, I was not not required to renounce my Christian roots. When a priestess of another tradition expressed interest in their tradition, they welcomed her and simply trained her in the things that separated their training from her previous roots. They never expected anyone to renounce anything. I think that would be a big red flag for me to keep walking!

As our discussions evolve and we grow our group here in SC, we chose the name Sacred Pathways Grove because we want to embrace each mentoree's experience. We don't want folks to renounce something they hold dear to become exclusive to our grove. Want to circle on Saturday night and take communion at the Episcopal church on Sunday? OK... Want to study druidism and circle with us too? If you can make that work, ok... not my place to dictate anyone else's spiritual journey! Just be ready for a lot of conversation as we find ways to make things work as a community! To see theory meet practice, take the case of my sister of the heart. When Verdandi takes her second degree in the spring, she's not going to be required to jump through the iniation process again. We're on the same page enough that she's simply going to pick up where she previously left off.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Initation, Status, and Eclecticism

This question was recently posted on my favorite elist:

I will also add that if you are an eclectic Wiccan than I truly don't understand why you care - if you don't believe you need an initiation to be Wiccan, than why worry about what other people say?
Hmmmm..... I consider myself to be eclectic because of having had each of my initiations with a different coven. In fact, my third degree, while conducted by a priestess who had been present at the previous two degrees, was more my elder than my "teacher". I was mentored my several priestess, actually, amidst several groups imploding/exploding. The little fledgling grove we are forming, which Cameron will initiate with, is the last remnant of any of these groups. We are not gardinarian, fairey, or any other "tradition" although we will borrow from whatever "works". If our group grows and survives, I hope it will become a tradition of its own in due time. Until we can be a tradition (meaning one of our members eventually carries our ways to another group of people), then we are a gathering of eclectic witches who have formed a grove.

Why is it important to be known as a grove, coven, etc and to have had the initiatory experience beyond the personal experience associated with initiation? I hate, hate, hate to say this, but initiation confers status. Of course you'll have to prove yourself with new people, but the simple statement "I initiated with" opens doors.

I'm not forgetting that you want to be part of the wiccan community at large, and be respected, then you better know your stuff, have some sort of credentials, be verifiable and have name recognition. I am suggesting that when we go to Goddess Fest, I want our group to be treated equal to any other group. I want our group to be a stable presence in a very unstable community. I want us to teach workshops, be present on Pagan Pride Day, help the homeless, and serve our community in whatever capacities the Goddess provides. I want the people we mentor to be able to say "oh, I got my degree/initiated with the Sacred Pathways Grove" and the folks at Goddess Fest, Autumn Fest, or any other gathering think "Oh, they know their stuff over there". I want us to be able to teach a workshop and participate in our community without a whole lot of "cat sniffing butt" behavior that usually occurs.

Right or wrong, there can be a lot of arrogance in the wiccan community. Since I want to be a part of that community, because change can't occur if I don't help work at it, then I've got to meet them on their terms. And honestly, we wiccans have to be suspicious. There are some crazy people out there that can cause a great deal of harm. And that's the end of my rant/thoughts/reflection.

Children's Altar

A fabulous friend from Wicca Place set up this altar for a child that was having surgery and added my grandson when she heard about his being tested.

My daughter-in-law sent this text message moments ago: All test results are normal, so it is not an absorption issue.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Thirsty Kitty

Domestic Abuse a Preexisting Condition for Denying Insurance

Nine states deny insurance to victims of domestic violence, including Idaho, Mississippi, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota and Wyoming. In addition, Washington DC also belongs on this list. The insurance agencies involved? Nationwide, Allstate, State Farm, Aetna, Metropolitan Life, The Equitable Companies, First Colony Life, The Prudential and the Principal.

Lawyer Jennifer Wriggins presented a paper to the annual meeting of the The Law and Society Association in which she stated:
Liability insurance of all types generally excludes from coverage acts
"expected or intended" by the insured. This "intentional acts" exclusion
operates to eviscerate coverage for domestic violence and other intentional
torts. Moreover, homeowners liability coverage does not cover claims by family
members against one another. This "family member exclusion" operates to bar
coverage for domestic violence since it often is committed by one family member
against another.

So insurance companies have come to the conclusion that if you are in a relationship with someone who has beaten you then you are more likely to be beaten again, and consequently you are more expensive to insure.

The women in my practice don't stay in abusive relationships because they like to be beaten. They stay because they need their husband's paychecks to take care of the children. They stay because they need a place to live, and their own income is inadequate in a minimum wage world to pay rent in a safe place to live. They stay out of fear. They stay for many complicated reasons. But I don't know of any who stay because they want to be injured.

In 2006 Democrats tried to end the practice of discriminating against victims of domestic violence but lost by a narrow margin. All the votes in opposition were Democrats. Indeed, opposers argued that such legislation would raise everyone's premiums. I have trouble understanding that logic when most states do not have such legal discrimination.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A Prayer for Wisdom

As my grandson goes for testing today, I offer up this prayer.

Lord and Lady, bring your peace to baby Widsom's family,
Bring your grace to his doctors,
Lend your presence to the child,
Lend your stregth to us all,
We pray for best possible outcome,
So mote it be.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Disposable Grandparenting

With the death of my two beloved cats this weekend, by the time we got home from the emergency vet last night I knew I had crossed a line. I was not going to be capable of working today. So I called and left a message on the boss' voicemail, which she will have found about 4 this morning, that I had a personal emergency this weekend and needed to take a personal day. The therapist/addiction counselor didn't have anything for anyone else.

We were up very late last night as Cameron dugevening a grave in the late by the light of a lantern. I couldn't even bring myself to go out and bless the grave. Thor was very precious to me -- one of the blessed special cats that in a house of wonderful cats managed to stand out clearly. I was grieving, am grieving, hard.

So I slept late, unable to force myself out of bed. I needed to be doing all the things I skipped over the weekend because we had so much going on. Instead, I lay in the bed, unable to move. I finally managed to get moving, researched homeopathic ways to deal with a flea infestation, and then got to work on the house. I started with clearing and cleaning the altar, setting up the peace/harmony/balancing candle in hope of orchestrating a little internal peace or balance. I worked at laundry and other mundane chores, and finally went to take a much needed nap. My therapist called -- I had forgotten my appointment. So bless her heart, my therapist spent the next 50 minutes putting me back together. I was doing pretty good by the time we got off the phone.

She asked me about what lessons or gifts the cats had brought to my life. Bubbles was easy. She brought the gift of joy. Thor was tougher. I finally came to the conclusion he brought the gift of trust. Knowing who to trust. Learning how to trust. Learning to let go of fear. I talked about Thor reaching back to the time when the boys came to live with me, and being with me when it all came down around my ears. Thor was also about mourning lost dreams of parenting.

So I missed my nap. A few minutes later I was on the phone with Cameron when my daughter-in-law called. The Patient One began as if I already had information that had never been given to me. I suppose people who are actually invited to see my grandson would notice the obvious -- that at 6 months old he is the size of a three month old. Of course, since I am not really treated like a grandparent and do not have any rights to see my grandchildren, I could not necessarily notice from Internet photographs. So while I am trying to grasp this rather alarming news, which The Patient One treats as old news, she begins asking about a family history of cystic fibrosis. Of course I deny any such family history. Between us lies my true crime. Since I was nineteen, in Atlanta, and had a one night stand with my son's biological father, it's all my fault that there might be a family history of cystic fibrosis of which I did not, could not, apprise them of. Not yet grasping the true concern behind her words yet, I listen to my daughter-in-law talk about her mother offering to come out from Missouri to help. She talks about Marcus taking off work tomorrow to watch Beauty while she takes the baby to the hospital for more blood tests. I remind her we are only a few hours away, and although things are strained, I would be glad to come to help. She does not answer.

As I sit hear writing these words, a little part of my soul dies. Some part of me has hoped for reconciliation with my judgemental, foolish Marine son and his beautiful little family. Surely my grandchildren are worth whatever price I must pay to be in their lives--I have lived by that thought. I suppose it is time to give up and to let go. If my Marine son could not forgive me being wiccan or gay, he certainly will never forgive his unknown heritage. Obviously, to him it is my fault his son has physical problems.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

More Grief: In Memory of Thor

Thor, a powerful name for such a shy cat, found me ten years ago on a hot fall day as I headed into Pet's Mart. Nestled into the palms a pregnant woman's hands, she was desperately seeking a home for him. His feral mother had the kittens in the bumper of an old Edsel. When Momma cat was hit by a car, the young woman went looking for the kittens. She was too late for all but Thor. Dehydrated and starving, she nursed him back to health for several days. Crying because she loved him and crying because she couldn't keep him, she was seeking a home for the tiny charcoal grey ball of fluff. Her baby was due in a couple of days and the apartment had a no pet rule.

I told her that if no one took him before I came out of the store then I would. I had had Toulouse for two years. I had just adopted/rescued Dickens, Starshine and Firedancer. I didn't need another. I no sooner made it into the store than my decision was made. Pivoting on my heel, I went out and claimed my kitten. Terrified, he rode home between the truck door and the seat. He remained a shy, reclusive cat all of his life. He just never lived up to the towering thunder of his name. Yet he was a loving cat that grew into a beautiful Tom. Huge paws told the story of a cat who should have been much bigger, much heavier. But he was never ill a day of his life.

"Thor hugs!" was the word I would croon to him as I nestled him against my chest. He would wrap his paws around my arm, cuddling under my chin in happiness. He loved to drink water straight from the facet, and I would leave it running for him while brushing my teeth or showering. When he'd get too reclusive, hiding behind the dryer or in the shower, I would spend a few days "wagging" him. Soon, he'd be sleeping on Cameron's chest at night again.

This weekend we realized the extent of the fleas in our pets. Fairly broke, we purchased Hartz flea protection, which I have used previously with success. This morning Thor didn't drink much water when I was getting ready for church. This afternoon I realized we had a problem. Before I could get Cameron on the phone, he had two seizures. I thought he was dead after the second, but he revived. Cameron met me at the door, abandoning a buggy of cat food and cat sand at Wal-Mart, to rush us to the emergency vet. Negotiating cost, horrified at prices, we compromised, put off bills, made hard decisions. They wanted to bathe him first, finishing getting the flea debris off him. He didn't make it through his bath. Another seizure and he was almost gone. Sobbing, whispering to him to go ahead and cross the Rainbow Bridge, we asked the vet to finish the process, to not let him suffer. He was gone before the syringe emptied. Tonight Cameron has buried him next to Bubbles.

The vet told us that he had probably had a previously undiagnosed condition. He was underweight--we assured her this was good compared to what he's often been at. Indeed, as a kitten, I had to create a growth spell because the vet worried he wasn't going to make it in those early days and months. He lived a loving and happy life of ten years. Not bad for a cat that needed magic to live.

And so Toulouse died two years ago, as did the first Starshine. My familiar Bastet died four years ago. Gimli and Jason died the first year I lived here (the vet begged us to take them after they had been abandoned at his office for months). Firedancer has gone, as has Butter Cup and Brom. Butterscotch and Champagne were adopted out. Persephone the First died right after I moved here (a rescue, she never gained adult size). I once had 20 cats brought from Atlanta in another lifetime. Bridget died last summer along with her mate Bandit. Maya (born of Bridget and Baulder) only weighed three pounds and stopped growning. She lived to be three. Bubbles died this weekend and Marco died earlier this summer. By dog Brittany died four years ago at the age of 12. All came to me in time when I lived as a heterosexual woman. A time when my children still lived with me -- a time before the oldest stopped talking to me, or denied me my grandchildren. I still have Tannis, Dickens, Lotus, Xian, Silvermoon, Tully and Temptation.

The grief of loosing furbabies is profound. We've had so many of them along the way. While people often express shock or disapproval of our large number of cats, we have loved each. Indeed, when I lived in Atlanta each was fixed, got yearly shots, frequent vet visits. When my income became a quarter of what it once was, the vet visits decreased, but my love did not. Losing them is like loosing a piece of my heart.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

In Memory of Bubbles

Today we grieve. Bubbles, beloved furbaby, kitten of Bridget and Baulder, died early this morning. She was found curled up in neighbor's driveway, as if she had fallen asleep and simply stepped out of her body. She was 9 years old.
Bubbles had one litter of kittens and developed complications. She was not spayed, but never had another heat. She loved being out of doors, only sleeping in at night when we could convince her to do so. She was vocal, loving, and always greeted us when the car pulled into the driveway.
She adopted me by shear force of will. When I would go to Luna and Cameron's home for a visit, years ago while living in Atlanta, she would greet me at the door and stay in my lap until I left. Eventually, I gave in and took her home with me. Later, when I bought my trailer, after having lived at Luna and Cameron's for six months, she stayed with me but insisted on going outside. She soon learned to convince the neighborhood she would starve if not fed. She was a car slut, hopping into any car door open. Cameron frequently had to stop her from going home with anyone else. I made sure she was tagged just to keep anyone else from adopting her!

Cameron often leaves her car window down, and Bubbles loved sleeping in the car. The only thing she appreciated more was finding an unopened bag of cat food. Often Cameron would go to get the cat food, only to find one corner torn open from Bubbles having had a snack.

Blessed child of Bastet, you will be missed. We love you, baby girl.

Friday, September 11, 2009


Once again, my email list have me wonderful things to think through. This is a compilation of several emails. I was responding to a fellow list member struggling with issues to do with prosperity, asking for needs, and possible backlash from a spell she had done. The following is about three responses, woven into one. I share with my blogging friends because the things I say here influence so much of who I am:
Rather than money spells, I try to think in terms of prosperity spells. I visualize the bounty of the universe as a ocean, sufficient to all and available to all. Many of us have been trained not to be greedy, so we don't ask for the prosperity we need. I don't believe that calling to us that which is needed or desired is greedy.

Prosperity, by the way, is more than money. It is all the things we need, including a place to live, transportation, eduction, bills paid, etc. Specifically, I like to visualize myself drawing on the bounty of the universe. And sometimes, instead of the teaspoons we've been trained to use, I like to use buckets or even pipelines to draw what is needed.

Often, I have found, it's very hard to open to the bounty of the universe. For me, it comes down to worthiness issues. I have trouble internalizing that I am truly worthy of having my needs and desires met; that I am a worthy child of the universe. So when I do prosperity spells, I try to work something in to claim my place in the universe as a child of the lord and lady. I try to state my worthiness and place it within the context of calling to me the bounty available to all when we open ourselves to possibility and magic. I also place the call in the context of best possible outcome, in case there's some miracle that I haven't thought of that might answer my call better than I have envisioned.

I recongnize the right for all to decide what they may/may not do. That said, because I have worthiness issues (abused in the past and all that), I have come to believe that we are co-creators with the universe and have the right and responsiblity to see to that our needs are met so that we can then meet the needs of others appropriately. Indeed, without our basic needs met, it is extremely difficult to meet the needs of others.

it seems to me that wicca/paganism especially demands a heck of a lot of personal responsiblity. In my view, as a witch it is my responsiblity not so much to seek power, but to utilize my resources, including my own personal power, to do the work of Diety (as a priestess I see myself as a channel, but also called to use my own resources in Her service). One of things that drew me to this path, in opposition to Christianity, is that I have a direct access to Deity, and that I am personally responsible to do the work to make the magic happen. When I keep in mind the Wiccan Rede, then it all seems to balance quite nicely.

In my work, I have a responsiblity to provide whatever healing I can, for example, because that is part of my calling to this path. Indeed, I am blessed to work as a therapist and as a substance abuse counselor, so I literally consider myself in the Lady's direct service as a healer. Yes, I have gifts and abilities. I have trained and learned my art for a long time. Yet my gifts and abilities sort of co-mingle with with the priestess part of me to become something really bigger than I am alone. So when I'm balanced and functioning well, I become a channel for the Goddess' work. Perhaps power is wrapped into that work, but I just don't think of that way.

Once I have worked out a spell, I work it repetitively. Usually every night for seven nights, or even thirty. I find that the repetition gets it into my subconscious which further opens me to the possibilities of the universe...