Category Archives: fall

Thanksgiving

My sister and her daughter doing “finishing touches” on Thanksgiving dinner

Thanksgiving this year was at my sister’s house.  She and her husband have a lovely space with a beautiful kitchen and it’s close to my parents so it’s the logical spot for family gatherings.  I keep saying that I’m grateful that she’s the one doing the work!

My little sister and her family didn’t make it this year, which is no surprise.  Karina also didn’t make it.  She just got a promotion at work and was assigned the Thanksgiving Day buffet.  She spent a lot of time with decorations and set up.  Karina is a hard worker and she wanted to impress on her first event for the restaurant.  She did a beautiful job and got lots of kudos.  Hopefully she’ll learn fast how to delegate some of that work.

Some of the Thanksgiving Buffet at Claddagh Maple Grove

We missed Karina, but she sent up a cheesecake.  She may not be baking at work, but her love for doing that hasn’t stopped.  It was a great treat, especially for me.  With a cinnamon allergy most pumpkin and apple pies are death to me.

Orion and I came up Wednesday evening and stayed at my parent’s house.  We planned to spend the weekend visiting and helping with some of the housework.  Just keeping up is getting harder for my parents.  Wednesday’s mail brought 36 catalogues.  Mom can’t get through them, and doesn’t really need anything.  Unfortunately that depression era mentality makes it hard for her to just toss them without at least looking at them.  I can sort through the pile, hand her 3 catalogues and send the rest to recycling.

Mom and Dad at Thanksgiving

Friday morning we all slept in a little bit.  The plan was for a lazy day.  Mom was thinking about sorting through one of her old jewelry boxes.  She was also pretty sure there was a box of Christmas ornaments we had sorted that needed to be taken over to my sister’s Saturday for her and her kids.  I got up and my Dad greeted me with, “Good Morning.  You need to go home – today.”

YIKES!

The problem wasn’t me (thankfully), but the weather.  We were having an unseasonable thaw.  All that deer from hunting was frozen in coolers on the back porch.  It wasn’t going to stay frozen based on the weather report.  I needed to take it home and get it in my and Karina’s coolers!

And me and Mom

So we spent the day packing, setting up leftovers into meals, and taking a memory lane trip through Mom’s jewelry box.  We called Karina, who was back at work, and arranged to stay through close so she could haul and carry meat.  At least we didn’t have to drive home though holiday traffic.

It all turned out well in the end.  Sad that we were unable to spend more time with my folks, but happy to have a few “extra” days at home.  I kept off the internet, didn’t tell anyone I was back, and started making space for the rest of the holiday season.  I just have to figure out how I’m going to do the baking in my torn apart kitchen!

Orion and I waiting in the Pub for Karina to get off work

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Hunting

Dawn does not conveniently “fall back” for Daylight Savings

I missed posting last week because of hunting season.  We went up to my parents for the week.  They don’t have the internet.  We were up before dawn bundling up to sit in the cold and back again at dusk.  In the meantime there were meals to make, housekeeping to tend to and just visiting.

I knew Karina would wear her favorite shirt so I couldn’t resist finding a similar one for Orion

The area we were in was pretty unrestricted but we did need to have everything inspected.  There is a prion, like mad cow disease, that has been invading the deer herds.  The state is trying to track its spread.  Given that we hunt for meat rather than for trophies this is kind of important.

There are a lot of views on hunting and a lot of reasons to hold those views.  I like wild meats and having them makes a significant impact on my very tight budget.  My family has always supplemented the grocery budget this way, even the farmers.  It makes sense to me to know that something has to die for me to eat.

Participating (even if it just means sitting with a gun in my lap waiting for Karina to shoot something) in this annual ritual is a way to connect to my heritage, my ancestry.  Through both lines I come from northern climates, where hunting was an essential food supply.  My people were not city folk, and even when they were they stayed involved with natural cycles.

Growing up in my family I’ve cleaned fish, tapped maple trees and weeded gardens.  I’ve tried my hand at milking a cow and had pigs, chickens, and goats butchered to accommodate my visiting the farm.  I’ve always known where my food came from.

Karina is also going to look good doing it. This year Blaze Pink was available as an alternative to Blaze Orange.

Karina’s generation is even further removed from food sources than mine.  As a chef food is important to her.  In taking up hunting she is also committed to learning how to field dress an animal, how to process it and of course how to prepare the meat.  The fact of the matter is that she’s the one doing all the work.  I’m just making space in my freezer.

This year hunting was also an exercise in support.  As my parents age it is become difficult for them to be as independent as they’d like.  My Mom worries about my Dad’s eyesight.  She worries about him carrying a loaded gun through the woods, tracking a deer on uneven ground.  My Dad worries about my Mom being left alone too long.  She has trouble getting around and has taken a fall or two herself.

Going up this year we could pretty much be sure My Dad wouldn’t have to go out alone.  We could set Mom up for comfort and give her a “check-in” call before we wandered too far off.  Orion stayed inside so they could “look out for each other”.  Karina took charge of all the carrying.  She says the beer kegs she’s been weighing each week at work are heavier than the deer.  She also appreciates how easily things slide when you drag them on snow.

Now that I’m home I can look forward to some tasty meals.  When I have them I’ll be grateful.  I will be grateful for the deer that sacrificed its life.  I’ll be grateful for my daughter taking care of me.  I’ll be grateful for the opportunity to make memories with my parents.  I’ll be grateful for my heritage.

Comfort

My Facebook feed is full of black and white “Day in the Life” photos. Here’s mine.

The temperatures are dropping and the wind is gusting.  The cold and damp are fitting for the season, they set the mood.  There are ghosts walking.

I am at that age where parents die in clusters.  This is the way of things, of course, but that doesn’t make it easy.  I worry about my own parents as they approach their “end years”.  I see that gradual decline isn’t so gradual any more.  It’s getting harder for them to keep up, to get by, to get things done.

This year in particular I find myself trying to offer comfort to friends whose loss simply can not be consoled.  Grief comes in waves, it takes its own time.  Those “stages” are neither sequential nor independent.  They can come in any order, repeatedly and sometimes all at once.  And I take those phone calls.  I listen.  I witness.  Sometimes that’s enough.

The symbol of death and renewal in Paganism is literally food and seed.

I’m looking for comfort too.  I want to escape in a good book.  I want a fire in the fireplace.  I want a pot of soup on the stove.  For my ancestors those things were just part of the days.  Now I can go to the grocery store and buy mirepoix, precut and measured.  (I didn’t, but I can.)  Bone broth is on the shelf in boxes because much of our meat is already removed from the bones.  Soup is no longer the ever present cauldron, but a can in the pantry.

Baking is part of that comfort factor as well.  A good bread, warm from the oven, and I can feel myself relax into the smell.  Pop-up biscuits from the refrigerator case do not elicit the same affect.

Bringing in plants meant repotting everything and trying to find space

There is no time for this kind of comfort in most of our lives.  We rush through our days, rush through our meals, rush through our grieving and just “get on”.  Perhaps the most important part of this season is to make a point and take some time.  In most of the U.S. we have an extra hour coming to us this coming Sunday.   How are you going to use it?

Meditation on the season

 

Autumn

At the apple store (no the real apple store).

I love this time of year.  I like the cooler weather.  I like wearing sweaters.  I like the light and the colors in the leaves.  Fall harvest has me making soups and baking.

I struggle at this time of year.  I have serious mold and dust allergies that always gets worse until we have a good hard freeze.  The temperature swings (I live in Minnesota.  It can be 35F one day and 80F the next) are tough to navigate.  I cherish the sunshine and dread the days getting noticeably shorter.

There is so much to do at this time of year.  I need to bring in the plants and repot.  I need to get ready for Halloween (both trick or treat and the Sabbat).  I need to swap my closet and bedding over to the winter wear.  All I want to do is curl up in a blanket with a good book and a warm beverage, or maybe take an outing to the movies.

We saw Victoria and Abdul. Orion appreciated the Urdu. He did not translate for me.

There’s also the food issue.  My body wants to eat more.  I’m not hungry, as the post-bariatric pouch won’t allow that.  It’s not even head hungry.  It’s more like hunger in the bones.  My genetics expect a winter and have kicked into survival mode.  I can tell I’m not getting enough protein, even though my diet hasn’t really changed.  It’s another push and pull.

This year it seems I’m especially aware of the paradox of the season.  As I struggle with balance in my own life I become more alert to the push and pull around me.  I recognize that I can allow any of these things to buffet and batter me, throwing me off course.  I can also simply acknowledge them and let them wash over me.  There is a peace in simply appreciating the variety of moods the season brings.

I live in bounty

So I do small things.  I get apples and squashes for baking and decorating.  I tidy the house.  I pick up a few things in the yard as I walk by.  I’m playing the grasshopper, not the ant.  I’m not ready for winter.  I am simply trying to be present in each day.

 

Giving Thanks

 

The Tower card from the Morgan-Greer Tarot

The Tower card from the Morgan-Greer Tarot

Gratitude is difficult when the world seems to be falling down around our heads.  It is difficult to find gratitude in crisis.  It is difficult to find gratitude when we feel threatened.  It is difficult to find gratitude under stress.  But it is especially during these challenges when we need  gratitude the most.

Practicing gratitude is uplifting.  Even seeing people who seem to have less than we do being grateful can be inspiring.  Knowing what we have to be grateful for is like finding a lifeline in a troubled sea.  When we most need something to hang on to, an active practice of gratitude gives us just that.

Thanksgiving is a highly charged holiday.  There are the family dynamics.  Mixed families, blended families, new relationships create conflict over who gets to be with who when.  There is finding table talk that doesn’t push buttons, make judgements, and generate huge arguments.  There is the food both, expectations and execution, and issues of tradition versus lifestyle.

The First Thanksgiving Jean Louis Gerome Ferris 1863-1930

The First Thanksgiving
Jean Louis Gerome Ferris
1863-1930

Thanksgiving is also highly charged politically.  Not just with the family table, but the actual nature of the holiday itself.  What we celebrate is the coming together of the European settlers and the Native Americans.  The reality of that relationship is not nearly as peaceful or generous.  Even now at Standing Rock Native Americans on their land with their supporters are being treated in ways that have the United Nations, the ACLU, and Amnesty International making statements against our government’s actions.

I am reminded again about the power of gratitude, and so I write reminding you.   Let’s all take a moment, many moments, this week and dig deep into the things we do have to be grateful for.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!

I am grateful for all the people who work peacefully and diligently to preserve my civil rights, my breathable air, and my drinkable water.

I am grateful for all the people who work to ensure I have good, healthy food available to me especially all winter long.

I am grateful for all the people who are actively kind to others, who help those in need, who work with populations (in prisons, the mentally ill, impoverished families etc.) that I am not equipped to help.

I am grateful for the small opportunities I have to do my part to bring kindness, and caring, and loving support into the world.

I am grateful for the support I receive (from family, friends and strangers) just to be able to function in this world.

I am grateful to have a platform and readers who support my work. – Thank you!

What are you grateful for?

The right to vote

part_1414966271790_20141102_161041As someone who works with ancestral spirits it is important for me to acknowledge that my ancestors put themselves on the line so that I would have the right to have a voice in how my life would be governed.

In fact everyone in this country has the right to vote because some ancestor put their lives on the line for that right.

If you are a white male landowner you have the right to vote because we fought for independence from hereditary kingship.   Right to vote 1776.

If you are a white male who does not own land, but who is strongly in support of states rights when you got the right to vote varied considerably.  This was a state by state decision and the last state finally came in almost 100 years after the revolution.  Right to vote 1856.

If you are a Native American you pretty much didn’t have the right to vote until you’d been educated away from your people.  The boarding school era, where children were ripped from their homes and sent away to school where they were given Christian names and punished for speaking their native languages was from the late 1800 into the 1900’s.   Congress granted the right to vote in 1924, but again some states maintained their right to prevent natives from voting and did (despite congress) until after WWII.  Right to vote 1957.

27 Sep 1948, New Mexico --- Federal courts ruled in favor of granting Native Americans the right to register and vote.  The New Mexico State Constitution had previously denied voting rights to those who did not pay property taxes while living on reservations lands. --- Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

27 Sep 1948, New Mexico — Federal courts ruled in favor of granting Native Americans the right to register and vote. The New Mexico State Constitution had previously denied voting rights to those who did not pay property taxes while living on reservations lands. — Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

If you are female (and I am) you may have relatives born without the right to vote.  Women fought for the right to vote for over 70 years.  In the musical Hamilton the Skyler sisters are determined to make Jefferson include women in the rewrite.  Abigail Adams wrote to her husband “Don’t forget the women.”  The suffragettes  were beaten, jailed, ostracized and ridiculed.  These women were feminists and that word still has degrading implications.  Right to vote 1920.

If you are black in this country you are still struggling for your right to vote in some states.  Although blacks officially gained the right to vote in 1870 there were many barriers placed to keep them from the polls.  Plantation owners intimidated their workers and refused to allow time off or transportation.  Polling places required fees (often waived for poor whites and increased for middle class blacks) to vote.  There were “intelligence tests” demanded for registration.

The voting rights act of 1965 – which required a filibuster to pass congress – eliminated those discriminatory practices.  Unfortunately in 2013 the Supreme Court decided that the voting rights act was no longer relevant or necessary.   Some of the contention in this election and much of the concern we hear from the United Nations is because of the indication new versions of Jim Crow voter restrictions are being put into place.   Right to vote 1965-2013.  Currently depends on State and circumstances.

Peaceful protesters in the Jim Crow south

Peaceful protesters in the Jim Crow south

Immigrants have the right to vote (based on the above factors) when they become citizens of the United States.  However, the reality is that at the polls and in registering they need to prove that citizenship.  Again this is regulated by the states and that means that many natural born citizens who “look” like immigrants can and are being harassed at the polls.  Right to vote requires proof of citizenship.

So please, honor the ancestors and if you have the right to vote exercise that right.

Trick or Treat

part_1414966271790_20141102_161041

Does it count if I wear my ritual gear as a costume?

Does it count if I wear my ritual gear as a costume?

Halloween on a Monday!   It’s been a weekend of ghouls and goblins and I’ve still got a lot to do to be ready for the little ones knocking on the door tonight.  Of all the scary things we’ve done in the last week I think the top one was voting.

 

 

 

This has been an election season wrought with emotional ups and downs, no matter who you prefer.  We have the option of voting early and have found it’s much easier for Orion and me.   It feels like a weight off to have it done, although the election results are still a bit Sword of Damocles.   I’ll say it again next week – the day before the actual election – but if you have the opportunity, please exercise your right to VOTE!

Not quite as scary during the day, but easier to get a photo

Not quite as scary during the day, but easier to get a photo

 

 

Karina threw her first big party in the new house.  Halloween Housewarming.  (Oh, and incidentally her boyfriend’s birthday).  It was a smash.  She entertained kids, visited with relatives, partied with old friends and stayed up until the wee hours with the dependable hold outs.

What more do you need? Coffee, beer, "poison" apples and a birthday pie.

What more do you need? Coffee, beer, “poison” apples and a birthday pie.

 

 

 

I did my part the day before.  We shopped and tidied up decorations and got the food prepared to go.  She still has most of my chairs.  Of course I put in an appearance at the party as well.   It was fun to see all the kids all grown up.

These girls slept over, traded clothes and shared secrets for years. Now one is pregnant, one is engaged and one just moved into a house.

These girls slept over, traded clothes and shared secrets for years. Now one is pregnant, one is engaged and one just moved into a house.

 

 

 

Halloween is a mixed bag because it’s also a high holiday.  The honoring on the ancestors happens all year round, but at this time of year it is done formally.  Sharing remembrances is a little bittersweet, but it can be very heartwarming as well.

Even Orion's Grandpa stopped in to see the new house.

Even Orion’s Grandpa stopped in to see the new house.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are a few posts I’ve written in the past about Samhein celebrations.

Ancestors and Descendants

Legacy

 

 

Author

resized_20161022_171951It’s been awhile since I’ve really felt like an author.  My first book is out of print.  The last few years I’ve been contributing to anthologies rather than writing on my own themes.  I’ve had a hard time making the space to work on my next book.  Life happens.

This past weekend, though, has been a writers week for me.   On Friday I attended Women of Words.   I’ve been a member of this amazingly supportive writers group for over a year, but I’ve had to miss meetings the last few months.  It’s great to feel “back on track.”

Then, as my regular readers know, I went to the Minnesota State University, Mankato Women and Spirituality Conference.  I spent most of the weekend vending my books (and the anthologies) and being “seen” as a writer.  I also gave a well attended workshop on Daily Practice (the next book).

my view for most of the weekend

my view for most of the weekend

There were some gems that dropped into my ears over the course of the weekend.   Some of them were immediately useful.  Others I’m still digesting.  I’ll share.

One of the Women of Words said that when you go to sell your books you need to have the expectation that they will sell.   Now that seems self evident, but I know I have set up vending with “Maybe I’ll sell a few books” in my head.  Not this time, and it made a significant difference in my sales.

The conference keynote speaker, Daisy Hernandez, talked about the power of memoir.  How when we share those personal stories we often find they are much bigger than we are.  In telling our own stories we tell a human story, a culture story, and there are at least elements of that story that belong in other people’s stories as well.  It’s hard for me to share those personal stories, but I know when I do my books are better for it.

My table was across from the artist who drew the cards in the Spirit of Archetypes divination deck.  I drew the Martyr card.   These cards carry “illuminated” and “shadow” meanings.  The shadow of the martyr is exactly what you think.  The illuminated archetype is about conviction and commitment to a purpose.   Like being an author and owning it.

Speaking about Daily Practice

Speaking about Daily Practice

When I speak about Daily Practice, and especially when I speak to women I have to address the issue of “How do I put myself first?”.  This comes across in a lot of ways.  It can be about time.  It can be about priorities.  It can be about reluctance to do self care.  It’s a very prevalent theme when I converse with people about their issues with Daily Practice and it’s certainly been one of my issues as well.

One of the suggestions I give to people who can’t seem to “do it for ourselves” is to dedicate the practice to the Divine.  Make your practice devotional, take a sacred vow to do the practice, add a gratitude component.  Essentially I recommend heightening the perceived value of the practice beyond just something we do for ourselves.

So… it finally occurs to me on the drive home to LISTEN to some of the things that come out of my own mouth.  What if marketing and promotion (the necessary and my least favorite parts of this job) were sacred service?  What if all marketing and promoting was about opening a channel for the Divine to inspire more people?   This one I’m still chewing on, but it tastes a whole lot better with this kind of seasoning.

Samhein/Halloween is New Year for Wiccans.  I’m feeling well packed for a new start.

Rain

The indoor mural doesn't feel quite the same as being out in the woods

The indoor mural doesn’t feel quite the same as being out in the woods

It has been raining on and off all week.  That puts more than a little damper into our plans.  There is flooding.  (We’re fine, but there have been road closings just 10 minutes north of us.) Power has been a little unstable.  (I haven’t had long outages, but there have been several rounds of reset the clock.)  My allergies, especially mold, have been acting up.

The part that’s hard is that Orion and I had weekend plans that involved being outdoors.  The weekend was actually mostly quite lovely.  The sky cleared, the sun peeped out it was pleasantly cool, but not cold.  All things that make for a great time in the outdoors.   Unless you are in a wheelchair.

Playing with the bull snake

Playing with the bull snake

I struggle to push Orion when we’re “off roading” under the best of circumstances.  When the ground is firm, when there aren’t a lot of fallen obstacles or rocks, when the grass is short, when he could push himself for at least a short distance that’s ideal.  This weekend, given the amount of rain, was not going to be ideal and could be really horrible.

Beekeepers, we did pick up some honey.

Beekeepers, we did pick up some honey.

We skipped through several versions of our plans.  We did make an appearance at the Richardson Nature Center.  They had an event called Party in the Park.  Most of the party was spread out into the park, and not accessible.  I got help from a stranger to go up a small hill.  We visited the bee keeping exhibit inside.  We played with a bull snake, made a seed bomb, and had some sumac popcorn from the Tatanka Truck.  Then I was done in.

Our “time in nature” was mostly spent shopping at the co-op.  Even there we didn’t load up as much as we often do.  Prices are high and the budget is not.

I ended the week on a note of gratitude.  We did a ritual for the harvest season.  There is a lot of bounty in my world, even if I don’t have full access.  It’s good to take some time out to recognize what I do have, to be grateful.

Harvest Home

Harvest Home

Fall Equinox

 

Beautiful day for a sail

Beautiful day for a sail

Equinoxes are about balance.  It’s the time where the amount of daylight equals the amount of night.  The reminder of the season has me working on balance as well.   I’ve finally gotten the internet back (knock on wood) and I’m actively trying not to let it absorb all of my time and attention.

I’ve written about balance, and about the fall equinox, many times before this.  Sometimes lessons seem like the same things over and over again.  But for me the reminders really do help.  I still need to be reminded that balance is active, not static.   One of the best ways for me to get that visceral understanding is to get on a boat.

Time with friends is important too!

Time with friends is important too!

Balance is about making sure that the list of things I need to do also includes time for my relationships.  I am really bad about initiating contact, making the phone calls, checking in without a schedule.  I also forget how much I need that interchange.  I need to take time for the good conversations (and the hard ones).  I thrive on sharing stories, information, lessons learned and lessons that we are still struggling to incorporate into our daily lives.

Balance is about finding time in between getting dinner on the table and earning enough money to pay the bills so that the floor gets swept and the laundry put away.  Balance is about watering the plants, but not too much.  It’s about bringing in the tomatoes before they rot on the vine and about drying the peppers before they go to mold.

It's still a workday for some people on the river

It’s still a workday for some people on the river

In such a politically volatile climate balance is finding a way to be of service without overloading.  It is about being firm and honest, and still polite.  It’s not just the election.  It’s the pipeline.  It’s the nurses strike.  It’s Black Lives Matter.  It’s all the shootings, stabbings and bombings.  Sometimes it is about shutting out Facebook (the wifi in your home going down is a really effective means of taking a break from the mudslinging).

Captain Beth at WIMNSail.net

Captain Beth at WIMNSail.net

Balance is about getting enough sleep.  (I’ve had too many late night/early mornings in the last month!)  It’s about taking the time for real food.  (I’m pretty good about that, it’s just that I also try and do 6 other things while I’m eating it.)  It’s about being in the moment.  Sometimes that means writing things down so that you don’t have to hold them until you need them.  Sometimes it means remembering to bring that grocery list with you when you go to the store.

So today I’m filling this blog with photos from sailing with friends.  We need more “time out in nature” in our busy lives.   We need to enjoy and appreciate our friends.  We need to remember  balance is active (like being on a boat) not static (like sitting on the ground).   Have a happy Equinox!

Coming back to town "Red at night....."

Coming back to town “Red at night…..”

 

Previous Fall Equinox posts:

Good Tired

Autumn

Darkness

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