Friday, 29 June 2007
Sunday, 24 June 2007
I found this level-headed and articulate examination of the choices facing us re Global Warming at No Impact Man's excellent blog. Please take the time to watch it - I think it's worth it. And the rest of the blog is a good read too!
Friday, 22 June 2007
Saturday, 16 June 2007
I am beyond exhausted.
If you are a regular reader of this blog, you'll know about my disappointment at the cancellation of Avalon Witchcamp. In the aftermath, a suggestion was made that an alternative event be put on in its place. Somehow - I guess I'm just a gal who can't say no - I have found myself in the thick of organising a Reclaiming Summer Gathering for disappointed Witchcampers and other interested parties. It has been exhausting just because there is so much to do before the Gathering manifests in early August. Plus there are complicated financial manoeuvres to ensure Avalon gets paid back its deposit on the venue so that disappointed Witchcampers can get reimbursed their deposits so they can pay to come to the Gathering. I think. My head is spinning just thinking about it. And of course we are trying to decide what workshops and activities to provide, what supplies we may need to cost in and how to get word out in time to ensure a good attendance.
On top of that I'm working on a fundraising project to help Avalon out with the balance of the debts they've incurred in planning camp for this year. I've been pasting together a 'Best Of' the British Reclaiming Newsletter (of which I'm editor) to sell to raise funds. It's been fiddly and time consuming, but I'm quite pleased with the results so far, and I already have three advance orders, even though it's not quite ready yet.
And for some reason I can't quite remember in the midst of all this - although I do know that it seemed a grand idea at the time - I've invited the members of the local Pagan Moot along to a Summer Solstice ritual and feast next Thursday evening, for which I have so far had absolutely no time to prepare.
Plus in the mundane world of Jobs That Must Be Done I'm in the middle of painting our kitchen, and trying to stay on top of a garden that - now we've had some rain - thinks it's some kind of temperate jungle.
And the phone hasn't stopped ringing all day (I think everyone who knows us has rung at least once).
By this evening I was really, really tired - and more than happy to sit down in front of the TV to watch Dr Who and consume veg & cashew nut stir fry and a bottle or two of lager. Ah!
Ah! That is, until I strolled down the hill to give the chickens their evening corn - and discovered bees swarming in one of the trees in the orchard. Then it was more like, 'Aaaaaaaggghhhh!!!!!'.
There were two possibilities - either they were our own bees, about to fly off and forsake us for pastures new, or they were a new swarm looking for a home. With a decent swarm of bees at the local auction fetching on average £130 this spring, either way we didn't want to lose them. Knowing that a swarm can take off and fly away at any moment, I dashed breathlessly back up the hill to alert T. We struggled into our protective gear and grabbed a spare hive and a box to shake the swarm into. Have you ever tried to run full pelt down a Welsh hillside in a beekeeping suit and veil whilst carrying a hive? I really don't recommend it. Especially after a large plate of stir fry and a couple of lagers.
It says in all the books that swarming bees are docile and don't sting (wrong!). It says that all you have to do is give the branch a firm shake and the whole mass will fall gently into the box from whence they can be transferred to their new home (wrong!). It makes it sound like a piece of cake. It isn't. These bees have obviously been reading different books.
But, at last they were (most of them) in their new hive. Tomorrow we will be able to have a proper check and establish if we've merely relocated our existing bees or if we're lucky enough, captured a new swarm. Right now I actually don't care much. At least I should sleep well!
Tuesday, 12 June 2007
The cats searching for a cool place to lie... Birds working hard to feed their brood... Bees hovering above the hive entrance... Wildflowers speckling the meadow... Fruit swelling on the trees...
Five summer smells...
Freshly mown grass... Jasmine in the evening... Warm wet earth after a rainshower... The intoxicating scent of elderflowers... Tomato leaves in the greenhouse...
Five summer sounds...
The joyous chattering of swallows on the wing... Tractors zooming down the lane... Bees bumbling in the comfrey patch... Thunder in the distance... Buzzards mewing overhead...
Five summer tastes...
Sunwarmed strawberries... Freshly dug new potatoes... The sweetness of the first homegrown tomato... The tang of homemade lemonade... The juicy bittersweet crunch of lettuce straight from the garden...
Five summer sensations...
The tenderness of baby broad beans... The sting of sunburned shoulders... Wet trails of dewy grass on bare legs... The velvet delicacy of rose petals... Hot paving underfoot...
Sunday, 10 June 2007
In everyday life, I'm 'in the broomcloset' about my Paganism. I live in a fairly conservative, churchgoing area and I'm not keen on standing out from the crowd. Also, to be honest, over the years I've got tired of being treated like a weirdo because of my beliefs. Pagans - like almost anyone from the 'alternative' end of the spectrum (vegetarians, eco-activists, practitioners of alternative therapies etc) are almost without exception portrayed as comic relief by the media - that is when they're not accusing us of eating babies. Therefore most people don't take us seriously at all, which is tiresome especially when you've heard the 'Witch, eh? Better be careful you don't turn me into a frog!' joke a few times. So by and large I keep in the closet, except for that one precious week each summer.
Sadly, it has just been announced that this year's Avalon Witchcamp won't be going ahead, due to low bookings and a shortage of organisers. It's hoped Avalon will be back in 2008.
I'm amazed by the depth of my feelings about this. I feel bereft, like I've nothing to look forward to this summer. I feel grief. I feel homesick for my community. I knew Witchcamp was a very important part of my life, but I'm almost embarrassed by the depth of my sadness.
I have wondered over the last few years if I ought to break out of my routine, go to an overseas Witchcamp (they have them in the US, Canada and Europe - see http://www.witchcamp.org/), or just do something else entirely. I am well aware that I'm a bit of an Avalon Witchcamp obsessive! But each year the idea of not seeing those familiar faces at Avalon kept me coming back. This year the decision has been made for me, and part of the time I feel like a kid who's been told Christmas is cancelled. Yet some of the time, I feel like my summer has just opened up too. There's such a wealth of other things I could choose to do instead that I'm worried I'll end up paralysed by indecision and not do anything at all.
Thursday, 7 June 2007
Today, we had some olive oil/balsamic vinegar left over that had been used for dipping ciabatta into. We also had some garlic. 'I'll put them in the food processor with a spoon of mustard and blend them into vinaigrette!' I thought.
It looks like vinaigrette, it tastes like vinaigrette, but it has the consistency of mayonnaise...
Anybody know what the hell is going on?
Wednesday, 6 June 2007
I love people coming to stay. I love the anticipation beforehand, the excited re-unions, the shared meals, the laughter and conversations, the days out showing them around the area, and as a Cancerian, I must admit that I just plain love looking after people.
So it has been lovely.
Friday, 1 June 2007
1.~ Where did you grow up? Tell me about your childhood home.
I grew up in Essex, which is the county east of London. It's mostly the kind of place people travel through to get to somewhere else, and generally has a poor image due to it's industrial areas and the soulless 'new towns' that sprung up there to accommodate people from the bombed-out areas of London after World War II. If you give it a chance though, Essex does have another side - picturesque villages, thatched cottages, arable fields, willow-lined rivers, country pubs, lonely saltmarshes and big skies, due to it's rather flat topography!
I was lucky enough to grow up in a small village, in a house Mum & Dad built themselves (my earliest memory is 'helping' build the fireplace - I must have been about 2 years old). It was next door to my maternal grandparents. We had a large garden, as did Nanna & Granddad - their plot also included a wild and overgrown apple orchard (Granddad built us a treehouse in an apple tree!), which was a great adventure playground. It was a place that really fired my imagination - I used to make elaborate palaces for the fairies out of moss, twigs and petals, play at being a spy or a gypsy, talk to the trees, pretend my bike was actually a pony called 'Silver'... really, if I hadn't had to go to school it would have been the most idyllic childhood ever!
2.~What is something about marriage, about being in a committed adult relationship that you wish you had a better understanding of growing up?
I wish I'd realised that you have to really work at marriage and relationships. My Mum and Dad made it look so easy! Realising the fairy-tale ending actually requires compromise, compassion, empathy, patience, dialogue and plain commonsense would have saved me a lot of mistakes!
3. ~What is your day job?
I wish I knew! I don't have a paid job and I never know how to answer when people ask me what I do. In the past I've been a librarian, barmaid, children's nanny, accounts clerk, receptionist, switchboard operator, customer services assistant, typist, secretary, aromatherapist, and voluntary worker at a city farm. I stopped paid employment when I was trying unsuccessfully to get pregnant and it was thought my stressful job may have been part of the problem. Since we moved to our current home I am kept busy with the house, the animals and the garden, plus I do voluntary work one day a week. I also make & sell crafts (mostly Pagan-themed) including my papier mache masks - although it's by no means a living wage!
4. ~What is your favorite form of artistic expression (for yourself to create)?
I love to create things, but I have a real butterfly mind when it comes to artistic expression - I flutter from one medium to another, getting bored if I stick to just one thing. In the past I've been passionate about creative writing, poetry, embroidery, cross-stitch, mixing aromatherapy blends, candlemaking and glass painting to name just a few. More recently there has been mask-making, decorative painting, jewellery making, felting and clay modelling. And right now I'm having a blast writing my blog and playing with T's digital camera. My approach may be a bit 'pick and mix' but I have found that I need to have some kind of creative project on the go to keep me happy. The thing that usually gives me the most artistic satisfaction though is to create something beautiful and/or useful out of something that would otherwise have been thrown out as rubbish. I love to recycle!
5. ~What is a goal that you hope to accomplish in the next year?
I would love to get something I've written published - and preferably get paid for it! I would also like the opportunity to student teach at an overseas Witchcamp.
What fantastic questions - thanks Tori!Want me to interview you?
1. Leave me a comment saying "Interview me."
2. I will respond by emailing you five questions. I get to pick the questions.
3. You will update your blog with the answers to the questions.
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.