Thursday, January 23, 2014

Grief and Cats

Ten years ago I moved from Atlanta to South Carolina. I had lost virtually everything. My home, my children, my coven. The evil ex-boyfriend had spread lies that took years to live down. Some still affect my life in profound ways.

The only thing I didn't loose was my cats. 16 of them. I actually moved twice before getting my current home, living in a friend's basement and later in Cameron's studio. The cats were accommodated with the expected challenges.

In the early years of living in my mobile home, we occasionally had unfortunate great cat escapes. The backdoor didn't always latch, despite our best efforts. A few found other homes. Others just disappeared and never returned. One that was ill was eventually discovered to have died under the house. It was heart breaking to loose each one.

Eventually we did find a way to repair the back door. The cats grew older. Others joined our cat colony. Of the original, Dickens was my familiar and died about a year and a half ago. Several of Cameron's original colony have also died in the last year or two.

In no particular order, and with duplicates because I love the pictures, I share these with you.

Legba and Xian
Tannis when Thor came to live with us.
Dickens and Chole
Dickens and Lotus
Little John and Legba
Rascal and Tannis

Thor and Legba
Wee Bit
Lotus deceased 1/22/2014
Dickens and me 2010
Yesterday the last of my sixteen cats from Atlanta died of Cancer. Lotus was found in a parking lot in Atlanta by a dog person. She called me, saying "what do I do with it." She came home in shoe box. Lotus came to rule the house with well enforced personal boundaries. She didn't like kittens, believing they weren't really cats.

We still have 18 cats in the house. Two are older, most are middle aged, and about seven are under the age of three. Nevertheless, we mourn each loss and remember their stories with joy.

Lady Bastet, we are your humble servants. You bless us with your children for the short time they walk this work and you call them home to you. One day my own body will return to the earth and I will cross the Rainbow Bridge where I will be blessed beyond measure.

Dickens, my familiar

Saturday, January 18, 2014


It's a three day weekend and I intend to enjoy it! Today I've been cooking. I just finished making banana bread which has Godiva chocolate and a few walnuts. It's utterly decadent...mmm....

Banana Bread 
And for lunch...

Broiled potatoes and olive oil
Also made my version of potatoes for lunch. Made large fry shapes with potato skins on, with olive oil and seasoning...served with sour cream. It's a lovely lunch on a cold winter day.

Chocolate chip cookies

Chocolate chip cookies for desert.  I love Saturday because it's a day to eat just what we want.

Between and around the cooking, I am working on a MacDubh, or Doodle as I have nicknamed him, doggy sweater. Pattern can be found here: A Dog and a Sweater. Given that we have a rottweiler/dachshund cross, the measurements are interesting. Given that I only have been crocheting for a year, can barely follow a pattern and have never measured anything for fit before, the results are simply amazing. Here it is so far:

Even managed to use the stitch markers correctly for the leg holes.
And an update on our house renovations. We now have a stone hearth and walls for the wood stove expected to be installed on Monday:

I love this stone wall!
I love long weekends!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Sleep and Work

I am a substance abuse counselor in a medically assisted program. In order to treat clients before they go to work, we open at 5 a.m. This means I get up at 3:30 in the middle of the night. I'm a morning person, but that isn't morning.

My cats usually finish ripping and roaring by 2 a.m. and I find them sleeping innocently when I get up. Mostly I think about having to get up to be able to buy cat food, the lazy brats. These are from this morning:

Photo: 3:30 comes much too early. I should be sleeping!
Lugh and Ibn. Not sure how Ibn is breathing.
Thor and Bear. Size Large and Extra Large.

Monday, January 6, 2014

It's a Candle Making Day

I started experimenting with candle making a couple of months ago. We actually started with a youtube on using crayons. Two words for anyone with a similar thought. Don't bother. Turns out the pigment in crayons blocks the wick. So it burns low for about half an hour then gutters. I have a couple of gorgeous crayon candles on my alter that look really good but will work on for a short emergency! LOL

So then I did further research, giving up the idea of making candles in my microwave. I'm still keeping it very simple. I get a lot of glass jars in the side walk sale we attend twice a month. It's more like a attending a scavenger hunt with a whistle being blown and everyone diving for slightly out of date dried food items and filling banana boxes. $8 a box. We get the wildest things from Ghiradelli chocolate and Dickenson's curd to mac and cheese. We subsequently have a full pantry and surplus of very cool jars. Given we once set the bathtub on fire with candles, I have a fondness of candles in glass jars.

Work in progress. Yellow was poured a couple of days ago and tipped to dry. Red was poured today. I'll top it off tomorrow.
The above candles were poured in Dickenson's curd jars, a favorite jar found at the sale. I can't say I've used all the curd in all the jars, but I have found the vanilla curd very good in brownies and banana curd makes great banana bread.

Photo: These will be quarter candles. Made with first intent!
Quarter candles for circle.
I've been working quarter candles for circle. Have finished the red, green and yellow. Tomorrow, if I have the energy, I need to do the blue. 

Since we are attending GaFilk this coming weekend, I need to get my projects finished up. Don't want to leave a bunch of stuff sitting around for the cats to use for entertainment!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Sunday Musings

Sundays are for doing nothing except what I like to do because I want to do them. We've had a disrupted week with Cameron caring for Warrior Priestess the last three days. It's been very strange to sleep alone, have control of the thermostat, and watch Doodle mourn his poppa. The thermostat was okay, but not so much for the other two.

So I've started a new cross stitch project. Current estimate is 4 years to completion. Here's the picture:
Goblins Fae Guide - Click Image to Close
Goblin's Guide

The pattern calls for 25 count fabric, but I'm using 18. I am 50 years old and see it better! LOL 

Approx 2,000 of 98,800 stitches
I estimate the project will take about four years. But I'm going to be 54 anyway, so why not have this picture to hang on the wall!

My mindfulness exercise of the day was walk beside our lake. Seeing the lake was another matter.
Lake in January fog

No mountains today

Slight suggestion of water here.
So that is my Sunday. Many things I should've done. Only a few that I did. What a lovely day.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Musings and Prayer Request

My heart is breaking today for our beloved friend, Warrior Priestess. Many years ago she was misdiagnosed with lupus, and underwent oral chemo every Monday for ten years. Friends became accustomed to her schedule, knowing when she would be at her best and when she wouldn't. Over time, the meds messed with her memory and she also developed some balance problems.

Warrior Priestess is a remarkable woman. Her daughter and only child Sarah died at the age of 19 from leukemia. Her husband died about five years ago from diabetes. Despite these sorrows, she has led a coven, was the Priestess in attendance at my first initiation, and performed my second and third. She has served her community and been ever available as her health allowed.

The misdiagnosis was corrected a couple of years ago, the meds reduced we all rejoiced to welcome her back to some version of normalcy. Over the last few months the aphasia has worsened as has her balance. Last week Cameron learned from True Heart, Warrior Preistess' roommate, of her condition. He had found a job after many years of unemployment, but had to be gone for 12 hour shifts and it was worrying him to death to leave Warrior Priestess alone. So for the last two nights, my beloved Cameron as stayed with her, making sure she is safe and oriented. Warrior Priestess has an appointment with her neurologist Tuesday so we hope for information and direction that will help in her care.

In the meantime, I've slept alone the last two nights and anticipate anther night alone tonight. Cameron and I live very well together and it's very strange to have him gone. I had to gauge my wake up time around walking the dog as well. Doodle is used to late night ramblings with Cameron, and just couldn't understand my bed time last night. Poor thing laid on the couch all day yesterday just watching the door waiting for "daddy" to come home. Cameron came home for a few hours, and when he left Doodle moved to the dining room chair. Guess he thinks since its closer to the door, it'll bring daddy home faster.

Today I pick Cameron up in an hour and we're off to see his parental units for a much delayed Christmas gift exchange. We're out to his mom. His dad, on the other hand, revolves from seeing to understand we are a couple to rants against the evil of gays. He's in his 80's and I firmly believe there are some conversations that just cannot be had.

Lovely aside. As I write this, a plump male cardinal made his way across the deck. The two cats on the table, Starshine and Thor, were quivering with excitement. The deck is proving to be a wonder for all of us!

Anyway, send love and light, or prayers, to Warrior Priestess. She's often walked a dark path, but this one is really challenging her.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Sunset Tonight

I love living across the street from the lake. My property taxes this year are $2.50 for the trailer, and $50 for the use of the recycling center. I can afford that! But I get so busy that I forget to go look at the water. I neglect my spirit to get to bed on a time. Bed time is 7:30, so the daylight often keeps me up in the summer. And I spend all evening just getting my stuff together to get up for work at 3:30 in the morning.

So tonight I went for a quick walk. The sky was glowing with fierce orange winter clarity through the trees. I slipped across the street to snap this photo from the neighbor's carport:

Water and Mountains
I used to dream of living right on the water. Then one day I realized I don't need to live right on the lake as that invites a culture that I don't want to participate in. I don't intend to buy a boat and kick an engine every time it doesn't start. People would point from the boats and whisper about the strange woman who has a boat dock without a boat. And it also might be a bit like living in a fish bowl. My backyard would be water with the entire neighborhood entitled to its use.

So I've concluded what I need even more than water is those mountains in the background. Cameron and I can build a water feature. I might have a lot more trouble replicating mountains. LOL

In the meantime, I actually managed to take a moment to get out of the chair, to walk down the road, and to breath the crisp air, and smell the freshness of it all, and to be aware that I actually live across the street from this beautiful lake.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

A Study in Patience

This Lucy. She's a 12-year-old Calico whose callie spots have tabby stripes. She's a beautiful girl, with vivid coloring that my camera phone does not do justice. She was a healthy, sensitive kitten. With an impending break up in the two footed people of her household, she preferred the company of other cats. When Cameron moved in with me, he searched the previous house, bringing each cat to my home. But he couldn't find Lucy.
Lucy, named for Lucille Ball, as she is a red head.
Out of desperation, Cameron returned to his house one final time. In the kitchen, The frig sat next to the washer and dryer. Thinking Lucy was behind the appliances, he looked, and glancing up, saw a familiar striped tail. Despite leaving her food and water, Lucy was badly dehydrated. She had huddled so long beneath that cabinet on top of the frig, that she had stiffened. So she couldn't run when Cameron reached for her.

On the bed with Tannis.
She settled in with my brats her and her former cats well, but distrusted humans. The first eight years in my house, I never touched her, except when she got pregnant. She'd let me comfort her when in delivery and the first few days after birthing kittens, and then she'd start hissing. I remained patient, talking to her as I do all the four footed children.

Tannis grooming Lucy.
Finally MacDubh, whom I call Doodle, a rottweiler/dachshund cross, came to live with us. She would rub on Doodle while I petted him, and I eventually was able to touch, then scratch, then pet her over a period of months. 
Lucy Bit nursing Firedancer
Lucy Bit: Audrey

Lucy is still touchy. If she is laying with one of her grown kittens, or with Doodle, she's usually fine. Sometimes she even seeks attention. But she taught me the value of patience. Of being mindful, staying in the moment with her, reading when to proceed and when to back off. 

Lucy Bit Dante with Tannis

I used to long to stroke her fur, wondering if she's as soft as she looks. She is.

There's Going to Be a Lot of Cat Pictures this Year

In the spirit of mindfulness, I want to focus this year on things that give me joy. Lugh is definitely one of the things in my life that gives me joy.

Lugh at bedtime last night
Lugh is a kitten that never catted. He can simply curl one paw and slay me with cuteness. I'm not quite sure how he does it.

In the spirit of bringing joy to others, I made Mississippi Mud brownies yesterday. Actually, I made two double batches. One went to a friend who is in the process of moving. The other I brought to work today. Counselors and staff need a reward for showing up to work the day after New Year's on a Thursday!

I've also been making candles. I had thought to make quarter candles for family-of-the-heart, but I'm still learning how to handle color, and am not satisfied with the results. The candles are fine, but not quite the colors I had intended. So now I have lovely new candles either to share or use. No loss either way!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year!

Thor, Lugh, Starshine

My cats always live in the moment. At least my house, they have no concerns as to having their needs met. If they are tired, they sleep. If they are bored, they have toys, humans, and each other. Sometimes that doesn't work out so well, but the consequences don't seem to slow them down much. I keep coming back to the bible's quote (yes, this witch knows her bible), about "Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin". I'm taking the verse out of context, nevertheless, it still suggests mindfulness. Something I need a good deal more of.

Cameron and I often speak of the need to meet basic needs in order to be free to seek higher growth. When you are hungry, can't pay the electric bill, don't have gas for the car, and can't afford necessary repairs to your home, personal growth can easily go out the window. I don't buy new clothes, usually, I find them at garage sales, second hand stores, etc. My dad is repairing out house (what an amazing blessing!). We found a sale for food that lets us buy out of date items for $8 per per banana box. I suspect I've painted a fairly clear picture here. When my boss remarked I need to buy a new car (and the new car payments) rather than fixing my 14 year old Honda, I couldn't make her understand the impossibility of car payments. Always stuns me when someone doesn't understand working class poverty.

Despite the above challenges, I do work on personal growth. I combine both the Pagan and Christian path in an effort to develop as a human being. There's a line in Star Trek, spoken by Pricard, who states that as hunger, poverty, etc have been eliminated, people work to become better people. Well, that's what I want. First and foremost in this new year, I want to focus on my spirituality, on the people who's lives I touch, to become a better person. I want to be mindful, and stop throwing my life away on worrying about what others say or think, worrying about stuff I can't control, etc. I want to live in the moment as much as is reasonably possible. But I also want to keep my life balanced this year. Planning and enjoying my garden. Making candles. Learning to crochet. Treasuring the amazing relationship I share with my partner, and doing things together. Enjoying the growth of my client's who privilege me to be a witness.

And I hope the same things for each of you. Happy New Year! Blessed be.