Category Archives: summer

Sacrificial King

Crossing the Mississippi at the corner of MN,WI,and IA

In Frazer’s The Golden Bough there is some exploration of the notion of the sacred king.  There are a number of components to this idea.  One is in the Divine right of kings to rule, and subsequently that they are the representatives of the Divine on Earth.  Then there is the belief that the kings are connected to the land.  As the king succeeds the land thrives, as the king fails or falls ill the land is depleted.  In a system that holds these principles to be true, the logical outcome is to demand the sacrifice of the king to relieve a drought or natural disaster.  Frazer took that philosophy and connected it to the agricultural cycle of reaping and sowing – death and rebirth.

Prairie reclamation project at Wyalusing – Wisconsin State Park

I came back from spending a long weekend on the land to see my Facebook full of images of our Secretary of the Interior assessing National Parkland for its value to sell to industry for development.  Moving from visiting a Prairie reclamation project at the height of success to a clearly out of control consume and profit narrative was disheartening to say the least.

On the way home I noticed the corn was starting to come in from the fields.  The corn harvest is the mark for me of the Lammas celebration, John Barley Corn is dead, long live John Barley Corn.  This is the representation in Wicca of the sacred king mythology.  The grain God is sacrificed to feed the people.

Prairie Flowers

It’s been difficult to sort out the sacred from the political.  Police are shooting people, healthcare continues to be threatened in spite of an overwhelming majority who clearly want to have coverage, and our sacred lands are being sold out from under us – again and still.

I see spiritual representatives from around the world being dismissed by Big Oil at Standing Rock.  I see a spiritual leader in my hometown, trying to help a neighbor in distress, being shot by police.  I see places that I’ve stood in awe of nature being looked upon as a feast for mining, logging and manufacturing industries.

Included in the sacrificial king mythology is the Arthurian story of the Fisher King.  This is part of the grail quest.  The sacred chalice, that has magical qualities including the ability to heal, is apparently in the possession of the Fisher King.  The king has a grievous wound and is failing, as is his land.  Somehow he doesn’t have the wisdom, moral integrity, or desire/belief to use the grail.  Percival, who was raised by a single mother in the forest away from the society of men, sees the solution but fails (out of politeness?) to ask the question that will heal everything.

“LIfe will find a way”

We need to ask the questions.  We need to keep asking until we get answers that go beyond pats on the head and being told we can’t possibly understand.  Why can’t we get along?  Why does the notion of “equal rights” always seem to have an “except” clause?  When and how much is enough?  Who has the vision for our future?  Does that vision include life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? For everyone?


Happy Lammas!




Previous blogs about the holiday season:


Ducks, Geese, and Corn

Corn Mother

First Fruits

Corn on the Cob




Happy Litha! The feverfew is blooming under the new moon.

It’s been cold and rainy here.  Cold is relative.  Two months ago I thought 50 degree evenings were crazy warm.  It’s always seemed odd to me, a native Minnesotan, that Midsummer comes when it does.  Pretty much this marks the beginning of our genuinely hot season.

Karina’s birthday is at the beginning of June and we couldn’t plan her preferred pool party unless we delayed it or held it indoors.  Cool isn’t unusual.

Because of everyone’s crazy schedule we’re still delaying her birthday.  We managed to all get together this weekend.  Karina and I have a deal.  I take her out to a high-end dinner for her birthday and she does the same for me.

Happy birthday Karina! Huge deserts and the leftover bags.

This year she chose Pittsburgh Blue, a chain steakhouse.  It was surprisingly good.  The steaks were done to perfection and the seafood we had was also very tasty.

Gilda’s Club Friends and Family Day photo

Orion and I also stopped by Gilda’s Club for Friends and Family Day.  We’ve been doing this as an annual event, being sure to get our photos taken.  Looking at those pictures I note I have a jacket or sweater on in most of them.

We did silly one’s too

Orion brought his drum and we enjoyed a drumming workshop along with visiting. Hoof on the Roof, a folk band, joined us as we finished up drumming.  It was a treat to jam with them.

In spite of the cold things are starting to bloom in the garden.  I got behind so I still have a few things to plant.  I’ve been worried that I’ll lose everything when we start tearing things up to get the remodel going, but I’m afraid we are stalled again.  I really don’t want to wait for another year!  I miss having a fully functional kitchen.

tomatoes are starting to form in spite of the cool evenings

There are things I’ve been putting off (like a new microwave) in anticipation of getting this all taken care of.  It’s frustrating.

Fourth of July is coming up fast and furiously.  I’ll probably be off-line, so don’t worry if you don’t see a Monday blog next week.  I will try to remember to take some photos.

Hints of jalapeño as well



Maybe parades and fireworks will fill my page.  Maybe flowers and wildlife will inspire me.  Maybe I’ll remember to take pictures of the family.  Fingers are crossed for a fun filled, good weather, holiday.







Previous Midsummer Posts:



Midsummer – apparently I’m not very creative with titles at this time of year!

Charleston – I haven’t posted about Philandro Castile.  It’s too close to home, too horrible, and I’m not the one.  But I will say Black Lives Matter, because they should and it’s pretty clear that they don’t.  I will say it’s important to remember.

Catching Up

Another family photo at Gilda's A lot has changed in 3 years!

Another family photo at Gilda’s A lot has changed in 3 years!

With the long days and hot nights I’m not sleeping well.  I feel like I’m spending my time trying to catch-up with myself.  On the days when I’m busy I’m exhausted.  On the days when I do nothing I find myself dozing in my chair.

It may seem counter intuitive given my state of being, but I’ve been looking for a part-time job.  The latest news on the construction front is that the bank is worried about my income to debt ratio.  That’s a good thing I suppose, to keep me from drowning in debt.  On the other hand the work really needs to be done and I don’t have the money to do it.  I figure at the glacial rate this project is moving along I may be a couple of months into a new job – enough for it to count – before everything else (my outstanding debt for instance) is settled to the banks satisfaction.

Cardio drumming was fun enough to attract some of the kids

Cardio drumming was fun enough to attract some of the kids

It was Friends and Family weekend at Gilda’s club.  Orion and I went for our 3rd year in a row.  This year Orion has acquired a new drum and he was determined to bring it and play it.  We did cardio drumming.  That was kind of fun.  Drumming along to popular music on exercise balls in buckets.  Moving arms and legs.  Kind of like Taiko drumming for middle-aged women.

We also did the family drumming.  That’s a slightly more traditional drum jam.  Making connections to rhythms and a group apparently makes a difference in health and healing.  Who knew drumming could be so therapeutic?  Orion loved it.

Waiting for folks to arrive and the session to start.

Waiting for folks to arrive and the session to start.

We got to visit with friends, old and new.  We had a visit from a fairy (it was a hot day and she was taking a break from the fairy garden).  We had a lovely walk there and back.  And when we got home I was (again) exhausted.

Maybe I need to drink more water.

Visiting with a fairy

Visiting with a fairy


20160619_152554The summer solstice is called midsummer.  I’ve always wondered why.  To me this feels like the beginning of summer.   Here it’s come in like a rushing train.  I’ve barely turned off the heat (nights in the 50’s at the beginning of the month).  Now it’s in the 90’s with humidity.

This is the season of weeding.  My weeds are all out of control.  There are several beds I just didn’t get to and more I’ve not kept up with.  Seems my other “projects” are conspiring against me.  Or maybe the weather, it’s been rainy, hasn’t suited when I’ve had time.  Or maybe I’ve got the midsummer all I want to do is sit in a hammock and read blues.

20160619_143842The change in light (the summer solstice is the longest day of the year) and the changing temperatures have totally disrupted my sleep schedule.  Left to my own devices this time of year I’d be sleeping through the heat of the day and up all night.  Unfortunately I don’t live in that world.

This is the pause after the haying, after the planting, before the big harvests come in.  As I said earlier, weed season.  It’s also summer salad season.  I’ve made baked beans.  I’ve made potato salad.  I’ve got greens growing in a planter.  I’m anticipating tomatoes that taste like something.  I didn’t know if I’d be able to garden this year, but I’ve got a lot of pots around the house.  I just have to be diligent about watering.

20160619_132921 (1)Orion and I went with friends to see Shakespeare in the Park.  A Midsummer Night’s Dream seemed a fitting way to celebrate the season.  Perhaps it is the season to dream the dreams, summer love, vacation.  Or perhaps it is time to waken and make those dreams come true.





Memorial Day



Happy Memorial Day.  Enjoy the weather, the family, the picnic – whatever you have planned.  I’ll be gardening and taking a long leisurely bath.

Remember those who served with their lives.  Remember that many have sacrificed for the freedoms we enjoy.  Remember the families of those who have served.  And in remembering, think about all of those whose service was dismissed, or uncredited.  There have always been women serving alongside the men, but because they were not “official” were not counted.  There have been blacks and Native Americans in service for this country whose “special units” were often placed in the most dangerous situations.  Japanese American families lost loved ones in the internment camps in the US during WWII.  There are many kinds of service, many kinds of sacrifice.  Let’s honor that in gratitude for what we do have.  Let’s remember.


The First Decoration Day


Dad is home and doing well.  Thank you for all the support and good wishes.

The bees are liking the bee balm

The bees are liking the bee balm

I have allergies.  I’ve been doing allergy shots for 5 years or so.  Things are definitely better, but there are still a few weeks each year where I have to pull out all the stops.  This is one of those weeks.  Because of that, sitting in an air-conditioned hospital was not the most horrible thing for me to be doing.

I’ve missed some pretty dramatic thunderstorms these past weeks.  Either I’ve slept so hard I didn’t hear them or, like the night the tornado sirens went off, the worst has passed me by.  I’ve been grateful not to need to water the garden as I run out the door in the morning.

The lawn hasn’t been mowed, but the truth of the matter is that given the allergy conditions I probably wouldn’t be able to do it anyway.  I often quip that breathing is over-rated, but the truth is I’m kind of attached to it.

On a good day I can hit the top.  On a bad day…….

On a good day I can hit the top. On a bad day…….

I’ve been watching Dad work the spirometer post surgery.   He’s a champ.  So the other day I got out mine, “just to check”.  When your 79-year-old father whose just had open heart surgery literally blows harder it’s definitely time to hit the inhaler.  I had to work hard to get my numbers above the “you should really consider taking yourself to the emergency room” line.

Despite the allergies, being back to our “normal” routine feels like taking a deep breath.  The list of things I’ve “put off tending to” is long, but doable.  Orion and I went to the movies this weekend (so I could avoid making dinner as this theater comes with a menu.) which was fun for both of us.

Dinner and a movie.  We saw Pitch Perfect 2

Dinner and a movie. We saw Pitch Perfect 2

Now it’s Monday.  Rather than grumble I’ll be grateful for a new week to start.  I’ll be grateful for the summer weather and flowers that are pretty even through the window.  I’ll be grateful that my family is all where they belong and doing well. And I’ll remember to breathe.

Too Much

At the lake with my parents

At the lake with my parents

It’s easy to idealize the simple small town life most of us only know from books and old TV shows.  4th of July in Mayberry RFD, or with the Gilmore Girls isn’t really a fair expectation.  Still, this year visiting “up north” with my parents it seemed very much like that kind of holiday.

Karina and Minnie waiting for the parade.  Not entirely without internet access….

Karina and Minnie waiting for the parade. Not entirely without internet access….

My parents don’t have an internet connection, which limits the amount of media available.  We still have the smart phones, and Orion listens to his playlist on his computer, but it’s less appealing to be plugged in.  They’ve lived up here in these small towns for almost 20 years and so everywhere they go someone stops to say hi!  There are things to do and people to meet that also discourage electronic connection.

Piquot Lakes High School Marching Band.  The director is my sister's co-worker.

Piquot Lakes High School Marching Band. The director is my sister’s co-worker.

The complaints of the weekend have been, “The ice cream cone was too big.”  “The fish (fresh out of the fryer) is too hot.”  “There’s too much sunshine and fresh air.”  We found ourselves taking daily naps, not typical for me, just because the weather was so perfect.

A classic.  That's Elsa from Frozen being pulled behind a tractor.  Apparently if you stop by the store you can get an ice cream and shake her hand.

A classic. That’s Elsa from Frozen being pulled behind a tractor. Apparently if you stop by the store you can get an ice cream and shake her hand.

We did all the things, but it never felt like we packed too much into a day.  We went to one of the small town parades.  Homemade floats and the high school marching band had all the nostalgia of one of those TV shows.  We went to see fireworks in the “big city”, Brainerd.  They do a fabulous job and the location is set up so you feel like you are surrounded by the lights and they are right there in front of you.

In Northern Minnesota you WILL visit Paul Bunyon and Babe the Blue Ox.

In Northern Minnesota you WILL visit Paul Bunyon and Babe the Blue Ox.

We also took an afternoon to go down to the lake.  We all got into canoes – even Orion.  It’s been years since I’ve done that, but the muscle memory is still there.  Karina and I took Minnie out with us.  The dog was not sure about that and her roaming around in the canoe was a little unsettling but eventually we worked it out.  The lake was calm, the breeze was cool, another perfect day.

Dad showing off his affinity for local wildlife.  At least it wasn't the bear!

Dad showing off his affinity for local wildlife. At least it wasn’t the bear!

We went swimming in the lake.  Karina and my Dad caught the fish that came out of the fryer “too hot”.  The ice cream cones may have been too big, but that didn’t stop us from going back another day.  There is a haze up here from the Canadian wildfires.  It makes the sunset bloody and the moon rise red.  I may have taken more regular hits off my inhaler than I would have at home, but with the air moving even that wasn’t problematic.

Wished I had better than my phone.  The fireworks were truly spectacular!

Wished I had better than my phone. The fireworks were truly spectacular!


It’s definitely time to be back home, back in the normal routine.  There can be too much of a good thing.  With a little distance and a little nostalgia of my own I’ll appreciate having this weekend vacation even more.

Happy Birthday Gilda

Outdoor space at Gilda's Club Twin Cities

Outdoor space at Gilda’s Club Twin Cities

What a difference a year makes!  Last year at this time I was just starting out as a volunteer at the newly opened Gilda’s Club Twin Cities.  I was blogging about my to-do list as I prepared for surgery.

This is where the Gilda Greeters sit welcoming folks into the clubhouse.  It's a perfect volunteer spot for me!

This is where the Gilda Greeters sit welcoming folks into the clubhouse. It’s a perfect volunteer spot for me!

Gilda’s Club, dedicated to the memory of Gilda Radner, is a welcoming community of support for anyone living with cancer, along with their families and friends.  It’s a place where everyone is welcome, where no one faces cancer alone.

This year when we went to the Gilda’s Club Friends and Family Birthday celebration I participated in most of the events.  Orion and I met some new friends, visited with old friends and enjoyed the Clubhouse atmosphere.  I spent much of the day on my feet, and didn’t think anything of it.

Our "Gilda Fairy" maintains the fairy garden where members can send notes to those who have passed.

Our “Gilda Fairy” maintains the fairy garden where members can send notes to those who have passed.


The Clubhouse is really settling into itself.  The gardens continue to expand, making lovely healing and meditative spots to just sit and enjoy the sunshine.  There is the fairy garden, the new waterfall and picnic area (the first photo was taken there) and the healing fountain and gardens.

Orion at the healing fountain with the gardens behind

Orion at the healing fountain with the gardens behind

Last year the healing fountain was dedicated and Orion and I made stones for people we knew who had dealt with cancer.  He made one for my Mom and I made some for friends I’ve lost to this pervasive disease.  This year, unfortunately, there were more stones.  Orion made one for me!

Our helpers in the kitchen often bring family along.

Our helpers in the kitchen often bring family along.

Inside the kitchen is often in use for classes or just the staff throwing something together for anyone who drops in.  I decorated cupcakes and made Orion eat one, poor thing.  I’ve attended several events in the kitchen this past year.  (What can I say, if there’s food I’m more likely to show up – even now!)

Orion did this one by himself.

Orion did this one by himself.

The Expressive Arts Studio often displays projects members have created.  That’s where we colored our stones for this year.  It’s a great place to work out feelings through art.  I’ve taken the Homemade Card Making class and had a lot of fun.

We were the first ones to arrive at drumming

We were the first ones to arrive at drumming

There was a lot of vibrational healing going on.  We got to do a gong meditation in the Mind Body Studio.    Orion and I also did some drumming in the Community Room.  He’s pretty excited to show off his new rhythms the next time he gets to a drumming circle.

We participated in some short improvisation workshops put on by the folks from Brave New Workshop. Jenni Lilledahl, one of the owners of Brave New Workshop is also one of the founders of Gilda’s Club Twin Cities.  It’s great to have their support.  The workshops were a lot of fun.

Here we are in 2014

Here we are in 2014

The biggest change though is when I compare the family portrait Orion and I took last year to the one we took this year.  My daughter was talking to old friends, catching up.  When they asked about me she told them I was genuinely happy.  Maybe I am.  I’m certainly grateful that so much has changed.

and here we are this year.  What a difference a year makes!

and here we are this year. What a difference a year makes!






I captioned last years blog with our "photo booth" pictures.  These year we got a little sillier

I captioned last years blog with our “photo booth” pictures. These year we got a little sillier




Karina and I in NYC April 2015

Karina and I in NYC April 2015

Every year on their birthdays I write my kids a letter.  I don’t think either of them have ever seen them.  I’m not sure any of them are legible to a generation accustomed to typeface rather than sloppy cursive.  They are tucked away in baby books and old photo albums and who knows where around the house.

Since today is Karina’s birthday it seemed appropriate to write this year’s letter here.  The “photo essay” is for you guys, but the letter is for her.

Karina appreciated good food from an early age.

Karina appreciated good food from an early age.


Dear Karina,

Wow!  This has been a year of unexpected changes and challenges for you.  You continue to impress and amaze me with your ability to maintain a level head and make good decisions in the face of adversity.

I started your year out with the challenge of my bariatric surgery.  Growing up with your brother, I know you have issues with spending time in the hospital.  Even so, you stepped up for me.  Your calm (eye rolling) reminders kept the surgeon from canceling the procedure all together.  You celebrated the outcome and assured me you knew it was going to be fine all along.

Her fearlessness and determination have always been evident.

Her fearlessness and determination have always been evident.

Only you would have found the best way to manage your time while I was in the hospital was to include walking the puppy with your visits.  You arranged to work through the system and get permission to bring Minnie in to visit.  It was a treat to see her (and you) and I’m sure it got me released faster.

You were so stressed you quit a job, which was a good decision.  It was definitely time to move on.  But I know it was hard for you to regroup and decide what you wanted to do next.  The ups and downs of early 20’s relationships didn’t make it easier.  I’m not sure I did either, but I always believed you’d figure it out.

She has an artistic bent that comes out in her cooking.

She has an artistic bent that comes out in her cooking.

Then you took on the family dynamic and held Christmas at your house.  Family holiday dinners are a huge undertaking for anyone.  Given your family, and all its extensions, the potential for disaster was huge.  You were determined.  Everyone would show up, feel welcomed, and have good food that suited their dietary needs.  It was impressive.  I know that post party feeling of exhaustion and wondering if it was worth it.  Now you know you really can do anything you set your mind to!

My having cancer and a second surgery threw you for a loop.  It didn’t help that you were just starting a new job, that looks like a perfect career move.  Again you managed to juggle all the pieces and perform above expectation.   Karina’s Korner was launched to rave reviews and I managed to attend my birthday dinner with very reasonable portion accommodations.

She makes the hard stuff look easy - even that awkward age!

She makes the hard stuff look easy – even that awkward age!

This last month has been yet another challenge with moving, and then having the apartment you were moving to fall through.  Most of the people I know would have spent a week crying under the covers.  You picked up, kept packing, arranged for a storage space and have already found a new, new apartment.  Chances are you’ll like this one better in the end.

This year begins for you with a fresh start.  You and Minnie will be settled into your new place before the end of the month.  You’ve left your 2nd job behind and moved to a full-time position in your career field.  Your creativity and management skills are being utilized and challenged in productive ways.  You are ready to shine.

I can’t tell you how proud and impressed I am by you this year.   You have an astounding resiliency.  You have learned a lot about yourself through these trials and have a new appreciation for your own independence.  Even when you’re hurting you are kind, and generous, and dependable.

I'm so grateful that she still enjoys spending time with me!

I’m so grateful that she still enjoys spending time with me!

I love you so much!  I only wish you the best for the coming year.  May all the hard work you’ve done bloom into joy and fulfillment.




Corn Mother

0804131756aThis is my fourth posting about this time of year.  You might think I’ve “said it all”.    I call my page Spiral Visions for a reason.  It seems every time I come around I am never quite in the same place.  There is a shift in perspective.  Sometimes there are new things to see.  Some things take on more importance and others fade into the background.  The beginning of August marks First harvest, the Wiccan holiday Lammas and for me always Corn on the Cob.

Because of my surgery I don’t get local corn this year.   I did “cheat” and have a couple of cobs shipped up from Georgia right before I started my liquid diet.   I ate it reverently and with a nod towards this time of year.  It was a feast meal, for me, in advance.   It didn’t get me off the hook though.  I still had to do something to acknowledge coming around the wheel of the year again.  So I meditated for a vision.0804131758

I saw a cornfield.  Flying high above the corn was the Thunderbird.  The Corn Mother walked out from rows and I asked her for rain.

She said, “What you are looking for is balance.  Three weeks of rain and three weeks of sun is even, but it is not balance.  It is balance the crops need to grow, balance the people need to thrive.  You have no sense of balance.  You delude yourselves with notions of “fair” and “equal”.   You believe that balance is static, stable.  You are only fooling yourselves.  Balance is like standing on the water.  It is always shifting, but the movements are small.  Large shifts will dump you into the deep.  You need to climb out of the deep you find yourselves in and learn again to stand in balance upon the earth.”

100_4576She reached her arms up and corn silk streamed down from her sleeves like wings.  She reached for the Thunderbird, and he swooped lower.  She did not fly and he did not land.  That night, there was no rain.

It is balance I am reaching for, yet again.  Specifically a balanced relationship with food and nutrition.   More globally it is a balance about making heathy and sustainable choices.

Enjoy your first harvests.

Blessed Be.


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