Monday, September 18, 2017

Shift in The Weather

    The shift in the weather, though inevitable, and not unexpected, always stirs up something deep inside of me. An unrest. A sense of urgency with a hint of desperation and dread. The first heavy rain of September, heralding the death of Summer. Already I feel an itch of cabin fever, a tickling of stir crazy. And it is only the second day of rain.
    I also know that the rain will be over in a day or so, and we will be blessed with dry weather, sunshine, but cooler temps. Again, it is inevitable. Yesterday I put away tools, covered bags of concrete, dug potatoes, and mowed the lawn, all with an eye towards the gathering clouds and my hair whipping in the gusty pre-storm winds. Then the rains came and I came indoors and baked bread. Today I ran in the rain.
    And now I sit, pecking away on the keyboard while a tempest presses against the inside of my ribcage. It is a peculiar feeling, one I am all too familiar with. I tried to describe it to my Mom, with dubious success. I feel an inner pressure, maybe I am a human barometer? An inner pressure to be going, doing, chasing, hiking, running, cycling, something, anything, anything other than sitting indoors while the rain beats against the windows. I have the overwhelming need to be doing something. But what that something is eludes me. It is an itch that can't be reached. A hunger that is vague and insatiable. It is too much like the feeling of being faced with overwhelming tasks to the point that you become dysfunctional, and all you can do is drink tea and read a book. I have done some of that today; disappear into the pages of a well written yet slightly vacuous novel with a cup of steaming tea at my elbow. I want to, need to, find tasks, line up my winter projects, litter my living room with bicycle parts and knitting and books and drawings. I need to look ahead and plan on how best to prepare my body for next summer's epic adventures while suppressing tears over adventures not yet managed this summer. I still haven't taken my new gear out for river snorkeling. Though I have gotten in some nice hiking and bike riding these last few weeks.
     It is not as if we don't know winter is coming. It comes every year with the inescapability of, well, of the seasons. They do come and go like clockwork. It is not that I dislike rain. I actually enjoy the rain. It is the loss of daylight, the short days and long nights. The darkness. And the cold. I do not like being cold. Cold makes me Sad. Being cold is honestly one of the main triggers for my winter melancholy. Cold makes me Sad. And the cold is coming.
    In my usual attempt to head it off at the pass, so to speak, I am planning my battle strategy. Online shopping is my friend, and winter workout gear is on the way. As are books to help stoke the fires of my training. Every year for the last 15 years, come September I know I have to set myself up for training of some sort. In the past, the early years of understanding, it was making sure my gym membership was ready. Now, it is making sure my living room is ready, with the gear that I need. I add gear every year. This year it is sand bags, a heavier kettlebell, and a weighted pack. Much of this with an eye towards more hiking adventures with my big red dog, Hugo. Some with an eye towards regaining my footing in the world of triathlon and trail running.
    That is all good and well, but it does nothing for my current state of unrest. The buzzing in my veins, the pressure in my chest, the thoughts ricocheting around inside my skull like so many ping-pong balls. Oh my god, maybe I am having a heart attack?!! No, that would be too easy an explanation. Another all too simple explanation would be that I am losing my mind. Again, too easy. No, maybe this is a primal need to make sure that all the crops are in, the food preserved, firewood stacked, wool spun, leaks filled, and blankets mended so we will survive the dark days warm and fed to emerge like a daffodil in the Spring. Maybe it is that simple, the primal need to be prepared for winter, but feeling like I have fallen short. There are still dry, sunny days ahead. A few, anyway. But the Rains are coming.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Simplicity

    Magic is not elaborate. Magic is not complicated. It is not golden amulets engraved with runes and set with gemstones. It is not ornate altars, intricate spells, convoluted charms, extravagant robes.
    Magic is simplicity. The rainbow colors of a dragonfly's wings. A seed sprouting, growing. Dew bejeweling the grass. A stone polished smooth by the river. Feeling the magic in the sough of the breeze on a quiet summer night. It is as simple as a wish for health and prosperity while stirring the soup.
    It is as complex or simple as you want it to be. For me it is as easy as "I see you," whispered to the full moon.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Small Magics

Nearly a month since I last posted. That is not good. It is not as if there were nothing to write about. In fact, quite the opposite. There is so much going on inside my head, and out in the world (which causes more things to bash about inside my skull) that I get overwhelmed with things to write. The best defense against the onslaught would be to write daily, get it out in dribs and drabs, instead of letting it collect until my brain is like a clogged pipe letting nothing through.
   The total flip side of this is that I have been so physically and spiritually focused on my gardens. Honestly. This is the year I am trying to become the gardener and hedgewitch i fantasize that I am. My Mom said my place looks "Like the home of a professional gardener." Okay, it was my Mom that said it, but she is a gardening goddess, and a compliment like that from her made my heart swell.
    Aiming for self-sufficiency on several fronts. I want to be able to have several months where the bulk of my food comes from my own plantings. I want to be able to make a little money at some point with plant sales. I want to have a decent magickal garden, overflowing with flowers and herbs, medicinal as well as magical. And from that magickal garden I want to be able to produce objects with meaning; poppits, pookas, dream pillows, woo bags, balms, tinctures, smudge sticks, charms, dried herbs for spell casting. For myself, and others. I need to bring magic back into the world, my world.
    "... a country on its way to banishing magic altogether. And that would have a very serious effect on the very soul of the country, for a country whose people ceased to believe in magic soon lost much of their ability to Imagine and Dream, and before long they ceased to believe--or hope--for anything."
    So you see, with the current chaos that is swirling around the globe, being manifested by those in charge and those with wealth, we have to be able to have Hope. We have to believe that Light will overcome Darkness in the end. That if we continue to fight the Good Fight, we will prevail.
    I don't expect some great miracle to come along and save us, deliver us from evil. But I believe in the small magics of hearth and home, peace and love, family and friends. I believe that our world is what we make of it, and that it is the seemingly small efforts that will eventually make the difference. If everyone did just one small thing, one small act of kindness, or charity, or peacekeeping, that we could change the world. A bucket or an ocean can be filled one drop at a time. It may seem that we are up against insurmountable odds, but I have to maintain my belief that each of us can make a difference, each in our own small way.
    For me, that small way is to continue to hope, to love, to unite, to heal, to help, in whatever way I can. Part of that, for my sanity and peace, is to create my own magic space, my hermitage, my hedgewitch gardens, my own small magics. To grow for the birds, bees, and butterflies. To create healthy spaces for the myriad of small wild creatures that share my world. To blend wild and cultivated, magical and earthly.  To nourish mind, body and spirit with the greenspace that surrounds me. I moved to the edge of nowhere with the intention of just this. And now, at this point in time and space, it is what seems to consume my thoughts and actions. Finally creating what has been in my imagination all this time. And isn't that, in and of itself, magic?

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Gardening as Defense Against The Darkness

    There is no denying that the current national and international vibe is stressful and depressing. I can only spend so much energy on freaking out over what I have no control over. So I have turned inward and have been focusing on creating and maintaining my personal environment. The last few months all my spare time and money has been going into adding to my edible landscape. This is the year of the berry. From the beginning I have held a vision in my head of a self-sustaining, productive mini-farm. Each year I have added something new, the first year I went a bit wild and planted a Texas King fig, two Stanley prunes, white Himrod and red Suffolk grapes, lavender, sage, and rosemary. Since then I've added raspberries (with limited success, so far), rhubarb (with even less success), a raised strawberry bed, a Brown Turkey fig, and 3 more apple trees to go with my 3 old trees.
   This year I am making great strides forward. I built 4 raised beds in my front yard, raised to get them above the high water table I have in my front yard, and well prepped since they are going over grass. I have planted 2 Goji berry, 3 Honeyberry, 3 lowbush Cranberry, 5 Gooseberry, a Jostaberry, and a Currant. I also added asparagus, a Brown Mission fig, a hardy Kiwi. and a Red Aronia (aka chokeberry). In the raised beds, since they are prepped and ready and the berries will take time to fill them out, I also planted carrots, sugar snap peas, Haricot Vert bush beans, sunflowers, sweet alyssum, and marigolds (to repel insects).
    In the manic gardening mode I have also managed to wrest my garden area back from the blackberries. I have 6 tomato plants, yellow crookneck squash, yellow zucchini, pole beans, small sugar pumpkins, Yukon Gold potatoes, and sunflowers.
    I am leaning towards the permaculture form of gardening. Weed and grass smothering ground cover, mulch, companion planting (pumpkins with the beans, sunflowers with the squash, and all the intermingled raised beds), and composting. I am building a second hugelkulture (raised bed based on how fallen trees decompose in the forest) and will plant it with perennial herbs in the fall.
    Another aspect I am paying close attention to is my magic herbs. I am starting seeds of Rue Herb-o-Grace, Mugwort, Wormwood, Feverfew, and Chamomile. I will get more seeds to start for fall plantings.
    Getting my hands in the soil, touching the Earth, feeling a Spiritual reconnect that I have been needing for some time. This has been important to me, even more important in the current world clime. I feel grounded and connected. I feel I am doing what I need to do to step further away from dependence on outside forces. I feel I am doing everything I can to counter and combat the negativity that is rampant in our world. The Hedgewitch is rising, I am channeling the wisewoman, the crone, Danu, Gaia.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Note From The Past

   I jot things down. All kinds of things. My desk is littered with notes to self, ideas for projects, workout plans, recipes, reminders, phone numbers, books I want to read. It is a bit obsessive. I finally broke down and started putting things in various journals. I have several with their own more specific contents: Quotes, business ideas and product designs, workouts, sketches, and one for oddities that don't fit any of the other journals.
    The point behind this is that I jot things down on random bits of paper. Today, I was picking up a small avalanche of papers that I had boxed up to burn, because they had too much financial and personal info to just toss in the garbage. Some of these were from a purge from boxes that have moved with me several times, boxes marked, "Misc Stuff From Desk." Yeah, that kind of stuff. Some of it was old, old, old checkbook registers (like 15+ years old), old tax stuff, random bits and bobs. You get the idea. Anyway, one neatly folded piece of paper caught my eye because it had a quote scribbled on the back, "There is much to be Known and above all much to be Loved, be it the turn of the Seasons or the shape of a river pebble." I stuffed it in my pocket because I wanted to transfer it to the journal of quotes (told you, I am a bit obsessive). I don't remember writing this quote down, and was pretty sure it was from a few years back.
    So, I finished with my random chores, made myself a cup of tea, and then remembered the paper I had stuffed in my pocket. I reread the quote, savoring it, and thinking it was a timely and timeless note to self. Then I unfolded the paper it was written on, It was two pages, I glanced at the second page first, just because of how I unfolded it, it was typed, on an actual typewriter, and the first line was "For children, the most important thing is that they are allowed to build a conceptual model of the world that allows them to both understand the world they encounter and cope with the new aspects of the world that do not readily fit their model." My first thought was that it was something from a home-schooling seminar I may have attended. So I looked at the first page. It was a letter to me.
    It was a letter from a friend, an honest-to-god penpal from about 20 years ago. His name was/is Graeme, and he lived/lives in Ayrshire, Scotland. We never met face to face, never talked on the phone, I don't even really remember how or why we started corresponding. But we wrote to each other, via international snail mail, for several years. This was before the internet was very functional, besides he didn't have computer access in his remote farmhouse on the edge of nowhere. Hell, I don't think I had a computer or an email at this point either. Yeah, it was that long ago.
     The letter was long and well written. I remember always being astonished by his intelligence and education, he had a degree in philosophy. He was a mentor. We had met while I was exploring Celtic Druidism, as was he. He had a vast wealth of knowledge of so many things. This particular letter was written shortly before Alban Eilar, the Spring Equinox, probably 22 years ago. Reading it through, I was struck by the topics that were covered, including climate change, family, our mutual struggles with winter depression, and the education of children. It could have been written this year and still been pertinent to my life
     One line, a quote from one of his favorite authors, John Ruskin (we both jot down quotes, you see), was, "There is no wealth but Life."  This, as you may know, has been a driving force behind many of my actions these last few years. The soul deep knowledge that my life is far better spent pursuing what is important to my life, than it is in the pursuit of money, status, or climbing a corporate ladder.
    I'm going to keep this letter, tucked away in one of my journals, as a reminder. As much a reminder of a friend and mentor, who reached out to a stranger halfway around the world, to share ideas, spirituality, and a piece of their life and soul. I had nearly forgotten Graeme, not quite, but nearly. It was a Note from The Past, a voice in the darkness, a reminder that although things change, the important things remain the same. Thank you, Graeme.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Subconscious Nagging Me

    I had a dream last night that a family wanted to order 5 of the stuffed dragons I used to make. And another dream that I was loading my truck with stuff to take to a farmer's market. I am thinking my subconscious mind is trying to drive home a point, I have been wishing for quite a while now that I didn't work on Saturdays. Partially because it keeps me from being able to sign up for any races, partially because Saturdays at work are brutal and stressful, but more and more it is because I am wanting to be able to take various goods to farmer's markets on weekends.
    It gnaws at me that I am chained to an employer. Yes, I like the knowledge that I will get X amount of dollars every month. But I hate that I work so hard to put money into someone else's bank account. And I do work hard, I take my work responsibilities seriously, I strive to keep my team on track and focused. I have never worked so hard to get people to work hard, and it exhausts me physically and mentally. There is no way I could manage to do this 5 days a week, and it makes me feel drained on my days off. It is no secret that I feel I am being seriously underpaid, with no hope for a raise. But I doubt it would be different anywhere else. These days the battle cry for most employers is "Do more for less."  It is the norm these days.
     So, once again, I am struggling with the desire to be self-employed. Hell, if I am going to live like a starving artist, I might as well actually be able to feel like one inside and out. But it always comes down to the fear of needing a certain amount of money to survive, not to lose my house, and pay off my debts. I wish I had the nerve to take that potentially fatal leap and either quit my job, or find one that was more flexible. This will take some consideration. I know one thing that holds me back is my loyalty to a few of my coworkers. I hate the idea of leaving them in a lurch. But g'damn, Don't I need to look after myself and my own health and sanity?
    The time has come to start taking steps towards accumulating an inventory. I am thinking new and used, handmade things for home and garden, maybe some herbs, repurposed miscellany. I have a journal filled with thoughts, ideas, designs. I just need to make myself take the step. So, build an inventory, be prepared, and then find an outlet. Maybe just aim for a few events now and then, to inject a little income as well as start building a name for myself. The Hermit of Marquam needs to take the next step, my subconscious seems to be nagging me.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Doing My Best

    There have been so many things to write about lately. So many thoughts ricocheting around inside my skull. So many things of both great importance and trivial. So many that it overwhelms me and I can't seem to write anything. It is like being faced with such a vast amount of work that I can't manage to do anything but turn my back, pick up a book, and disappear into an alternate reality. There is too much, too many thoughts, an endless flow that keeps me awake at night, and plagues my waking hours. With the current state of the world I wonder that anyone can sleep at all. Are we on the brink of war? The brink of climate change that will surely end the world as we know it? So much, too much. It is all I can do to not lose my mind.
    We are facing dark times, I have no doubt. Our country is in the hands of a lunatic and his puppetmasters, and there is little we can do but sit back and wait to see what fresh hell he can lead us into. We are confronted daily by his atrocious, outlandish behavior, and the continual blunderings of his inept and idiotic staff. It is a daily assault that is slowly numbing us to feelings of outrage, beating us down into a grim feeling of a shell-shocked new reality. We raise our voices against the regime, it is all we can do. We support the groups we can. We protest as best we are able. I can only hope we can hold out long enough to see the regime toppled by their own heavy handed, brutish behaviors, and that right will win over might, Where is Superman, with Truth, Justice, and the American Way?
    Lately, my best form of protest is to continue with the plan of self-sufficiency. I plug away, one day at a time. I plant more edibles, ponder ways to make a living outside of the "American Dream," I look at every alternative I can think of to take me another step further away from dependency, and The Man. I hold onto my dreams with both hands, and fight to not lose hope. Some days this is more difficult than others.
    Surprisingly enough, despite what feel like the gathering of dark forces just over the horizon, I have had fewer issues with melancholy this winter. Yes, the weather has been cold and miserable for far too long. Yes, my financial situation is a bit bleak. Yes, my job is wearing me down bit by bit. Yes, we are teetering on the brink of a global flux. But, despite all this, I have managed, most days, to maintain at least a modicum of my eternal optimism. I think it is largely due to the fact that I am not relying on anyone but myself for my happiness. I am the captain of my fate, the sole hand at the tiller of my ship for one. It keeps me balanced. And at the end of the day I can look at what was accomplished and know it was entirely my own doing. For now, this moment, that is enough. I am doing my best, and that is better than a lot of people can say.