Monday, 28 July 2008

Six Random Things

I have been tagged for a meme by Fiona at The Cottage Smallholder. I must list 6 random things about myself. I love memes (I suppose that could have been one of the six things, except it's probably not random enough)!

Here are the Tag Rules:
Link to the person who tagged you. Post the rules on the blog. Write six random things about yourself. Tag six people at the end of your post. Let each person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog. Let the tagger know when your entry is up.

  1. Because I have a large head and thick hair, it's really hard to find hats that fit me.

  2. I love trees, and would much rather spend time in the woods than at the beach. In fact, I love the idea of a house in the trees - that or a hobbit hole!

  3. I'm scared of rats.

  4. I had my nose pierced at one time. It stayed that way for nearly 10 years, but after a series of nasal infections and nose studs mysteriously getting lost I decided my nose was trying to tell me something. I stopped wearing a nose stud and now the piercing's more or less healed over.

  5. I fell in love for the first time at age 20, and got my heart broken. Big time. Might tell you about it some time...

  6. I have a secret and shameful weakness for Mr Kipling's French Fancies (that's a kind of cake for any non-Brits who may be wondering!). They're sickly but I find them irresistible for some reason. So I try not to buy them too often!

And now, I tag:

Bohemian Single Mom, Breezy, Sleepy Kitty, Giles London (in hopes we'll get to read more of his novel, hint hint), Dragonfly, and Solstice Dreamer.

Thursday, 24 July 2008

Proud to be Human

I was listening to the Jeremy Vine show on Radio 2 earlier. They were interviewing a soldier, Lance Corporal Matthew Croucher, who has been awarded the George Cross medal after throwing himself onto a grenade, thereby saving the lives of his fellow soldiers. It is an amazing story, and his bravery is humbling and inspiring. How many of us would make a split-second decision to put others' lives ahead of our own in such circumstances? I'm pretty sure I couldn't do it.

Also on the show, commenting on the story was a writer (I'm afraid I didn't make a note of his name), who said, 'It's the kind of story that makes you proud to be British'. His comment stopped me in my tracks. I had thought he was going to say, 'Proud to be human', with which I would have agreed wholeheartedly; proud to be human was how the story made me feel. Our strange species can be so selfish at times, but as this story proves, can also be incredibly generous and selfless.

But proud to be British? What does being British have to do with it? Did he mean that other nationalities aren't courageous? Is concern for your fellow beings determined by an arbitrary delineation on a map? I may be unpatriotic, but I don't see how being British has anything to do with the bravery of this act. I'm sure plenty of Brits in the same situation would have run for their lives. And plenty of Norwegians, Egyptians, Fijians, Peruvians, Ethiopians, Thais, New Zealanders would have done the same as Lance Corporal Croucher.

Perhaps the comment was about sharing in Lance Corporal Croucher's acclaim. But for myself, it seems more appropriate to share it as a fellow human being than as a fellow Briton. Don't get me wrong, I think Britain has much to be proud of - but I don't think we have a monopoly on bravery, chivalry, selflessness or compassion. And that's a good thing.

Sunday, 20 July 2008

In Celebration of Creativity

It occurred to me yesterday that this is an appropriate time of year to be celebrating creativity in all its forms. Summer itself is such a time of creation and achievement as the garden blooms in full glory, birds and animals rear their young and there is so much abundant food for all. Lammas, or Lughnasadh, the festival celebrating the harvest of the grain is fast approaching, on 1st August. The name 'Lughnasadh' tells us it was associated with the Irish God Lugh, who was renowned as a craftsman. And what better metaphor for the completion of a creative endeavour than that of the harvest?

Perhaps subconsciously influenced by the season, I've been in the middle of quite a creative flurry myself. Here's a photo of the fairy jar I posted about a little while back. It's finally completed and I'll be giving it to my friend when I see her later today. Sorry the photo isn't great, but they turn out to be amazingly difficult to photograph well - something to do with the light reflecting off the glass. It looks better in real life and I'm pretty pleased with it, especially as it's my first attempt.

I've also been busy making a couple of masks and a few other Pagan-y bits and pieces, such as painted candle-jars, hand-painted boxes and Goddess statuettes and plaques. My friends at the 'Star of Venus' shop in Carmarthen had said they may be interested in stocking some of my crafts, so yesterday I took a boxful in for them to have a look at. To my delight, they liked them and want to sell them in the shop, so if you want to bag yourself a Moonroot original, get down there!

Here's a couple of photos of the masks I took down, first a 'Star of the Sea' one:

And a 'Woodland Spirit' one:

I'm just hoping the good people of Carmarthen like them! I have an owl one and a cat one almost finished, so I'm now feeling very motivated to get those done too.

In the meantime, on another creative tack, there's jam to be made from all the gorgeous berries in the garden, my elderflower champagne is just about ready to drink (those bottles which didn't explode, that is!), and my friend Donald has tempted me greatly with the idea of making fruit flavoured vodkas. Raspberry vodka anyone? Or blackcurrant? Yum!

I love that creativity can take so many forms. Handicrafts, music, cookery, gardening, clothing, artwork, writing, dancing... the human urge to celebrate life and express oneself is wonderful, and the only limit is imagination. Let's celebrate summer and the harvest by giving our creativity full reign. What are you going to have fun creating?

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Shameless Plug: British Reclaiming Summer Gathering 2008

After last year's successful British Reclaiming Summer Gathering, we've decided to have another! And this time it will be held in beautiful West Wales, from 8th to 12th August (you can come for 1, 2, 3 or 4 nights). The collaboratively created programme includes workshops and offerings such as 'How to plan a ritual', 'Becoming an ancestor pathwork', 'Working with dreams', 'Tarot as a spiritual journey', 'The Story of Janet & Tam Lin', 'Bardic Circle', 'Circle Dancing', 'LETS - Local Exchange & Trading', 'Moon Magic', 'Pagan Ecstatic Dance', 'Iron Pentacle Tai Chi', Visits to beauty spots & sacred sites, a Herb Walk (discover folklore, medicinal & magical properties of herbs) and much more.

Further details are available on the British Reclaiming website - click on the link at the bottom of the list of pages on the left of the screen.

Be there - or miss it!

Saturday, 12 July 2008

Dear Diary...

Dear Diary,
We have been here now for 13 days. I didn't know what a day was before, but here some of the time it is light, which is a day, and some of the time it is dark, which is a night. On the first day when it got dark, we didn't know that chickens are supposed to go into the chicken house to sleep at night, so we had to be put in there by the humans.

Day 2:
The house is dark and warm and cosy. When it got light again, when it was day, we didn't want to come out of the house into the strange green world, so we stayed put. The humans put food and water in the house for us and we snuggled together, my sisters and I, wondering when we would be taken back to The Big Shed.

Day 3:
Today the humans put our food and drink just outside the chicken house. By now we were feeling a bit braver and a bit curious, so we came out to eat and drink and had a good look round. We find the chicken-like creatures in the adjoining pen most fascinating, although they have strange habits. They scratch at the green tufted ground and eat the green tufts! Late in the day the human came back and threw some grains down for the chicken-like ones. They ate the grains with great enthusiasm. We want to try some.

We each laid an egg today, in the strange box like divisions at the back of the house. These are enclosed and we feel safe there.

This evening we knew that it was time for bed when it began to get dark. I think the human was surprised to find we had put ourselves away when she came down to shut the door of the chicken house. Hah! we may be confused, but we are not stupid.

Day 4:
This morning we were eager to get out of the house and explore some more. We were bumping at the door when the human came down to open it for us.

We have tried eating some of the green tufty stuff, and you know, it's not bad. Not bad at all. We have also experimented with scratching the ground and our food, which for some reason is immensely satisfying. We even scratched all our bedding out of the house!!!

We have also been pecking each other to establish the hierarchy of our little flock. The human doesn't seem to approve, but I think she knows we have to do this. Good heavens, can you imagine? It would be anarchy without a head chicken to obey.

Day 5:
After we scratched all the bedding out and made it muddy yesterday, the human is now only opening a small door in the chicken house which she calls a 'pop hole', instead of the whole side of the house. This is going to make scratching all that bedding out a real chore, I can tell you. But we girls are equal to the task. As compensation, we have been given access to an additional area of green tuftiness. Yum!

We have now learned to come running for our grain ration in the late afternoon when the human appears and calls, 'Chookies!'. Grain is nice. I like it even better than green tuftiness.

Day 13:
Dear Diary, I have been too busy to record my thoughts. There is so much to explore in this strange and amazing new world. We have eaten 'strawberries', been chased by giant chickens called 'geese', water drops have fallen from the sky on many occasions - each day there is something new and wonderful to experience.

I will close now, as I am too busy to write more. But I am no longer confused. I am sure this is heaven and not hell.

Friday, 4 July 2008


The elderflowers are now in full (if rather late) bloom, and yesterday I picked plenty to make elderflower cordial (recipe here). I was especially pleased that our little potted lemon trees had some lemons that I could use. When I told T what I was doing, he begged me to make some elderflower champagne too, which he'd seen Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall making recently on the latest River Cottage TV series. I'm a little wary of elderflower champagne as it has a reputation for resuming fermentation once bottled with explosive results (one recipe I consulted rather worryingly advised 'always put bottles which contain sparkling wine in cardboard boxes so as to minimise the danger of flying glass'). Still, Hugh F-W's recipe (scroll down - it's almost at the bottom of the page) seems to indicate it can be drunk pretty quickly after bottling, unlike most home-made wines. And with my birthday coming soon and visitors due to help celebrate, hopefully it won't be in the bottles long enough for any catastrophic eruptions.

The kitchen now smells deliciously of blossoms and citrus. As we seem to have a bumper crop of flowers this year, perhaps I could devise an elderflower and lemon pot pourri too?