Friday, 29 June 2007

A picture's worth - well, a few words, anyway...


I'm too tired to write anything coherent, but here are some recent photos I'm rather pleased with...
















Sunday, 24 June 2007

Compelling Argument


http://view.break.com/311805 - Watch more free videos

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

Returning to Balance


Happy Summer Solstice!
It has been a strange week. T had taken time off work to finish painting the house, a job he started last summer but didn't get completed before the autumn weather closed in. Unfortunately he chose the wrong week. It has rained, rained and then rained again. He erected the scaffolding for the job last weekend, and yesterday he finally admitted defeat and took it down, unused. Of course, today the sun finally came out.


Yesterday was the summer solstice, the longest day of the year, when the sun is at its peak (for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere that is). From now on, the days will gradually shorten, imperceptibly at first. Although it's hard to grasp right now, with summer really getting into her stride, we are re-entering the dark half of the year. For the sun, it's all down hill from here.
It has made me think about balance and imbalance. For the last week or so I feel like I've been way out of balance - at full stretch, trying to juggle so many projects and tasks that at times I've felt completely overwhelmed. Each day has been completely filled with activity, carrying on until bedtime and resuming early the next morning. It's been the same for T; although he hasn't been able to get on with painting the house as he planned, he still has a huge mountain of other tasks to work on - getting our wind generator up and running, chopping & stacking the wood from the trees felled by winter gales, and remodelling our kitchen just to name a few. As a result, the week of him being at home that we were both looking forward to has ended up with us hardly seeing each other. And I know that when we have been together, I've mostly been stressed and tetchy.
Yesterday I hosted a Summer Solstice Ritual for members of my local Pagan Moot. It was something I'd committed to before things got so crazy, and I didn't want to cancel - although it was tempting at times. I've been wanting to build Pagan community here, celebrate the Wheel of the Year with others, make connections. Of course, like all the best-laid plans it didn't quite work out as I'd expected: for one thing the awful weather meant my lovingly conceived outdoor ritual had to be scrapped and another put together at pretty short notice. Being forced to celebrate indoors also meant that far from enjoying the beauty and serenity of the June garden my guests had to negotiate the building site that currently passes for my kitchen. No matter. The living room was beautifully decorated with vases of flowers, draped saris, representations of the elements and deities, and candles and incense. The ritual went smoothly and a good time was had by all. We may even do it again!
Late to bed, I had an amazing dream, in which a beautiful pure white swallow nestled trustingly in my hands. I was filled with the most amazing feeling of serenity and calm, just knowing that everything would be alright.
I awoke this morning feeling calm. Although I still have a mountain of things to do, and I probably should be worrying myself into a lather about the Summer Gathering, the new bees, the slugs and rabbits in the vegetable patch and the state of the kitchen, somehow I can't. T and I have worked hard today, but for the first time all week we have also made time for ourselves and each other. We picked summer berries in the sun together, ate lunch together, had proper conversations, and smiled and laughed together.
I am lucky to have such a wonderful husband, who has taken time to help me with my workload even while struggling with his own, has held my hand and calmed me when I've got overwhelmed and tearful, listened to my woes, and last night endured a houseful of strangers celebrating a festival he doesn't really 'get' - all because he knows it's important to me. I'm so lucky to have him keeping me balanced even when everything else seems way off-kilter. I hope I do the same for him.

Saturday, 16 June 2007

Busy Bees


Oh. My. God. To say the least.

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

Summer Senses


Five summer sights...
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

What Will I Do With All This Summer?

For the past nine years I've made an annual summer journey to Glastonbury, to attend Avalon Witchcamp. Since the first magical year, in 1998, Avalon has been my once a year treat to myself. It's a place where for one whole week of the year I can live with people who 'get' me, fellow Witches co-creating a unique space of trust, sharing and deep magical work. My husband and family aren't Pagan, and although they're supportive of my spiritual choices they don't really understand. Some of it they have no interest in and some of it they find frankly amusing. I don't mind. I don't have any desire to foist my beliefs on anyone else and as long as they're happy for me to go off and do my thing it all works out nicely.

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.

It's a strange mixture, this grief and excitement. I note the shift in balance from one to another, notice how I shift from one 'grief stage' to another - denial, anger, bargaining, acceptance. Strange how one can become so attached to an event, the security of a familiar schedule, a part-time community.

RIP Avalon Witchcamp 2007. I hope Avalon 2008 will arise phoenix-like from your ashes, and I'll be back to tell you all about what I did while you were gone!

Thursday, 7 June 2007

Things Ain't Cooking in my Kitchen...

Last night I wanted some mayonnaise to go with my dinner, but the jar in the fridge was nearly empty. No problem! We have plenty of eggs, so I decided to make home made mayonnaise, as I've done dozens of times before. But, for some reason it wouldn't thicken. It looked like mayonnaise, it tasted like mayonnaise, but it had the consistency of vinaigrette.

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.

But...

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

Dona Nobis Pacem


If everyone demanded peace instead of another television set, then there'd be peace.
- John Lennon (1940-1980)
For more information on today's Blogblast for Peace see http://mimilenox.blogspot.com/

Whirlwind over!

One of the great things about living in a beautiful part of the world is that friends and family are happy to come and stay. So far we have had 3 sets of visitors (10 people in total) staying with us in the last 4 weeks. It has been wonderful, but to say it has been a bit of a whirlwind would be an understatement. Our most recent visitors - my brother and his family - left this morning (the photos are from our trip to Saundersfoot yesterday).

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.

Now that we are back to normal it is a different kind of lovely. It is quiet and peaceful without my 4-year-old nephew chattering happily away nonstop. I am at leisure to do what I want - or more accurately, I have the time to catch up with all the jobs I have been neglecting whilst having fun! I no longer have to plan menus well ahead of time, but can revert to my more usual whip-something-up-at-the-last-moment-when-I'm-hungry style of meal preparation.
Being your own self in your own skin in your own home at your own pace is a whole different kind of pleasure to entertaining friends and family. I am lucky to be able to enjoy both. Like most contrasting experiences, they enhance each other.
So for now I will appreciate the peace and quiet, the daily chores, and the slapdash meals. And the next time my loved ones descend to bring novelty, chaos, fun and fine dining back to the Moonroot household, I will appreciate that too.

Friday, 1 June 2007

Interview

The lovely and talented Tori at http://gettingit-tori.blogspot.com/ has sent me the following interview questions:

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.