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Archive for the ‘religion’ Category

In the Pagan tradition, Lammas marks the middle of summer and beginning of the harvest season, and is celebrated at the beginning of August. It is considered a time of thanksgiving and is the first of the three Pagan harvest festivals. The Sun’s strength begins to wane and the plants of spring begin to wither and drop their fruits or seeds for our use as well as to ensure future crops. We experience a sense of abundance at the same time we begin to feel an urgency to prepare for winter. First grains and fruits of the Earth are cut and stored for the dark winter months.

This is what I harvested from the garden yesterday, awaiting attention in the kitchen sink.  The tomatoes have been roasted now, and are waiting to be packaged and frozen.  The melons are resting in the storage refrigerator out in Jim’s workshop.  The cucumbers are becoming pickles as we speak.

We have much abundance to be thankful for.

Yesterday we burned the brush we have accumulated in abundance over the summer, the bonfire circle looks very tidy now.   It was a long morning’s work, as we lit the fire very early while there was still dew everywhere.  We kept it small and did not put too much on it at a time, wishing to keep it very much in control.   Afterwards, we relaxed for most of the rest of the afternoon, enjoying our beautiful place.

The hummingbirds were enjoying the cardinal flowers and the cannas, which have just started blooming.   I was sitting in the hanging chair under the pergola over the Hosta Dell, Jim was in the shade on the Thyme Walk.

I promise that I was wearing shoes during the burning process!  I haven’t quite learned the art of fire walking just yet.

We were enjoying some nice cold margaritas and discussing plans for the place, especially the front yard.   As we sat and talked, the hummingbirds would fly in and hover by the flower stalks.  I managed to get one decent shot of the mother.

We could see them over on the canna lilies too, but there was no way I was going to get a shot of them clear over there.   As I told Jim in my slightly inebriated state, “I would need a 200 horsepower lens to get a shot of her way over there.”   For some reason, that struck us as a very funny statement and we both had a grand laugh.

We had the irrigation going on the Hosta Dell as we sat there, it made it feel extremely cool in the hot afternoon.   The mist accumulated on one of the flower stalks.

It has been so hot and humid here even the mushrooms are moldy.

Maybe the first grains are ready to harvest according to Lammas tradition, but out in the meadow the big blue stem is just now flowering.

There was an amazing spiral form on the cucumber vine that has achieved the top of the asparagus patch.

A few more bloom scans.

“Ruffles and Lace”

“Waxing and Waning Sunflower”

Today we will put the bird net on the last row of grapes, so I must go out there and trim the side shoots to prepare for that job.

Happy First Harvest to you all.   Blessed be.

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The other day I was giving a massage and the person on my table popped out the question “Do you believe in God?”  What elicited the actual question was me admonishing the young man as to a statement he had made about his back and its healing process.   What I had said was “Be careful what you say.   The Universe is always listening.”

My experiences in living in the Bible Belt have taught me that it is much easier to answer the particular question above by simply saying “Yes.”  I have also learned that when someone makes a conversational gambit utilizing the question “Are you saved?” the quickest way to finish the conversation is to say, “Oh, absolutely.”

There is no necessity to actually define what you mean by “God” or “Saved” unless you are involved in a deep philosophical discussion with one of your close companions or cohorts.   I have also observed that when involved in such discussions, it is useful to have copious quantities of wine or beer available to lubricate the conversational rods and pistons.

In my line of work I find it useful to not upset people by being even more unconventional than I already am.   I have also found it convenient to be conversant with what those “other folks” believe, if only as a matter of self preservation.  Not only do I own a Bible (the King James version), but I also have a complete concordance to it.   That way, when I want to call “bullshit” I have the references on hand.

People find it comforting when a concept like “Karma” can be illustrated by a quote from their favorite religious reference.   You can say that in essence karma is illustrated by the old saw, “What goes around, comes around.”   But for some fundamentalist characters, being able to say, “Well, you know in Galatians 6:7 Paul wrote the words ‘for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap,'” is a fine way to give them a source illustrating the basic concept of karma that is familiar and acceptable to them.  For some reason, this resonates better with most people than Webster’s definition, which says “The effect if a person’s actions during the successive phases of the person’s existence, regarded as determining the person’s destiny.”

Personally, I believe in the concept of karma.  It just makes sense, and I have observed it in action many times.

I also believe in the use of affirmations.   I am not going into the hows, whys and wherefores of affirmations at this time, anyone who is interested can research that for themselves.  Suffice it to say that in my experience they are certainly not a waste of time or effort.

Is there a universal energy that permeates everything and facilitates communication that can be affected by our statements?   Reading books like Gary Zukav’s  The Dancing Wu Li Masters or by folks like Steven Hawking will make you ask questions about the very nature of the Universe and how it works.  These books have made me ask questions about photons and quarks, and start thinking about the idea that they may actually exhibit consciousness.  If photons can communicate instantly through time and space, can our statements and will not have an effect as well?  Or does the actual fact of making the statements change the subconscious climate of the brain making the statements, thereby making it more likely that the speaker will act in such a way as making them come true?   Or is it something else entirely?   Or a mixture of all of the above?

I don’t know, but I do believe that our words have quite a lot of power, and I do try to be aware of what I am saying and how I am saying it.  I have had many too many experiences of my statements being borne out by subsequent events to believe that all of these occasions were merely coincidences.

When the economy took a nose dive, so did my business.   I lost something like 2/3 of my clients in the space of one week, and the task of making ends meet on something like 30% of the income I was used to taking in was quite interesting, to say the least.   After the shock wore off, I started making affirmations designed to indicate to the energy of the Universe that I wanted more work.   I would say “My clients are talking about my work to other people.    Clients who used to come are calling me for appointments.”  It took a while, but both statements have been effective. Lately I have had people who were getting massage from me 5 or more years ago “returning to the fold”, and I have had quite a number of new clients calling me for appointments as well.   It’s nice to have more income than outgo for a change.  In fact, I am now starting to have to be quite careful about scheduling because my book is getting quite busy.

Some other examples of the power of positive statements occurred during Jesse’s leave.   When he told us during a Skype call that he knew that he was scheduled to leave his FOB on June 18, but that we should not expect him in the States for as long as five days later because connections out of Iraq to Kuwait were often very bad, I got off the phone and said aloud, “Jesse does not need to spend three days sitting on the ground in Balad.  His flights home will be smooth and trouble free.”  He arrived home on June 20th, having experienced nothing but smooth flight connections all the way from Kirkuk to Springfield, MO.

While he was here, we arranged a family dinner with Jesse.  The day that worked was also a day that my folks had a doctor’s appointment at 2:30 p.m.   My dad said, “That guy is always running behind or late, sometimes we have to wait a couple of hours to see him.  I’m not sure we’ll be able to get here by 6.”   I said, “Dad, we won’t have dinner until you and Mom are here.”   Then I added,  “This time maybe your doctor will be running on schedule.”  The expression on my father’s face indicated extreme doubt, so I added, “Hey, remember when we went to Colorado and I told you that it was only going to rain on the days we weren’t hiking, that rain would come only on our rest days?   And you told me not to be such a Pollyanna?   And that is exactly what happened?”

“Oh, yeah, I remember that.   That was weird,” he replied.

“That was the power of positive thinking,” was my retort.

Well, after they went on home, I stated aloud “The doctor needs to get Mom and Dad in and out in a timely fashion.”  On the day of our dinner, Mom and Dad showed up here at 5 p.m.   Of course, I had to ask.   “So, how was your doctor’s appointment, Dad?”

“Oh,” he said a little sheepishly.   “You know, not only was he there when we got there, but he was actually running ahead of schedule and for the first time in years we didn’t even sit down in the waiting room, just went right in.   We were in and out in less than 15 minutes.”

Okay, maybe these were coincidence.   But  there are an awful lot of coincidences like that piling up.  It certainly doesn’t hurt to practice the act of affirmation.  So I do, on a regular basis, because I think it works.

I also think that if you say something like “I’m willing to accept that karma,” you had better mean it.   Because the Universe may just perk up its ears and say “Oh.   Really?   We’ll just see about that.”

Now, if this affirmation thing would just work on the PowerBall.

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I suppose I ought to have a category labeled “rocks”.   But I don’t.  This is in response to interest expressed by sundry commenters in previous posts regarding the fossils which have found their way to my home.

Many of them I have found myself.   But it is surprising how people will give you fossils when they find out that you like them, and don’t consider piles of rocks in your house to be a nuisance.   A few of the pieces of my collection were in an old case that was designed to carry around 45 rpm records (remember them???) that was in a box that my mother purchased at an auction.   She was actually interested in a jar of antique clothespins that was in the box, but when she opened the red plastic case and found beautiful crystals, mineral specimins and fossils within she immediately brought it to me, her rock crazy daughter.   Believe it or not, I am NOT the daughter who majored in geology and anthropology in college; that would be my older sister.

So.   Here are a few of my treasures.

The first one was a gift from my college room mate, who lives in Germany.   It is a fossilized sea urchin which was collected by her and her husband on the shore of the North Sea.

This one was a gift from my gold smith friend, Doug Feakes, who found this in Montana.   It is a fern imprint on shale.

Another gift, this one from the father of one of my piano students.   He collected many of these sorts of fossils on his property near Mountain Grove, MO.   I have no idea what this intriguing animal was.

Next we have a few brachiopods.   The ones in matrix were in the above mentioned box, the nice big one came from Sue just the other day.

She also gave me a wonderful selection of fossilized shark’s teeth.   The shell they are in also contains mouth plates and stingers from an ancient sting ray.

She also gave me all the fossilized shells that are contained in this shell.   If you look closely, you can see that several of the ones at the front of this grouping have been silicated (that means the shell matrix has been replaced with silica crystals).

This oyster shell could not go out into the garden, it was way too cool.   How you manage to become fossilized and still keep your halves together but separatable is a mystery to me.  The second shot of this pair shows the oyster shell opened up.   The one just to the left also opens into its two halves.  Just behind this pair of shells you can see a wad of fossilized worm tubes

This is a commercial fossil, purchased at a rock show.   This is a cephalopod, now extinct, called Trilacinoceras hunanense, which was collected in China.   This lived during the Ordovician Period, approximately 460 million years ago.  Usually you do not find the long extension of the shell intact, so this is a very cool fossil indeed.

This next photo is of a grouping that lives on top of the computer desk.   The nautiloid on the right was a gift from England, collected there in Surrey.   The two on the right came from Sue from her excavations in florida.   The long pointed one is an extinct Murex, the one on the right is a Euphorba.   Apparently, the Euphorbas are quite uncommon.   She tells me that whenever anyone at the excavation found one you could tell because of all of the euphoric screaming that went along with the unearthing of one.  (Perhaps that accounts for the name?)

The next one is a fossil I found myself in Costa Rica 13 years ago.   We walked up to a waterfall, and this fossil imprint of a clam shell in a hardened pyroclastic flow was just winking at me from the stream bed there.  It is resting on a piece of petrified wood I purchased in Arkansas a few years ago.   I had to get it because it looked so much like a log, and it rests by our wood stove.   So far no one has tried to put it in to burn.

The last pair of shots I am including are of a fossilized beach.   I found this piece on a gravel bar on the Niangua River a couple of years ago.   I was attracted to the wave form on the side that faced me.

But what was really cool was what was on the other side of the rock.   Many fossilized worm trails are preserved forever here.

I hope you have enjoyed this tour through some of my fossils, and hope you come back for the next tour, which will be skulls and bones.

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I’ve been making some rash promises lately on the blog, and now I’m trying to come through on them.   First of all, I sort of mentioned that I was going to post some pictures of the labyrinth taken in the summer.  So, forthwith, I present several pictures I took over the last couple years of the labyrinth during its full summer glory.   It is full of wildflowers and I am about 65% finished outlining the whole pattern with daffodils planted every three feet.   I have been transplanting bulbs from my main gardens out here for at least five years, using this project as a way to utilize all the bulbs that have to be split as they propagate.

The last was taken right after we burned it off last winter.   This is supposed to help keep the fescue in line and encourage the wild flowers.   It is also about the only way we have that efficiently beats back the tall grass clumps that have formed around the rocks.  We could weed eat the thing, but bear in mind that at 84 feet in diameter, walking the twelve circles into the center means you have walked 1/3 of a mile, 2/3 round trip which is just over a kilometer.   That’s a lot of weed eating.

The aerial view was taken by the lineman of our local electrical cooperative when they were here replacing our power drop pole and giving us a new transformer and a new meter.   They had a big boom truck with a cherry picker and I induced the workman to take my camera up and get some overall shots of the labyrinth when they had finished their job.   I thought it was very nice of them.

Someone else expressed interest in my healing journey, so I thought I’d give an update on that.   I’m in pretty good shape now that the hole in my knee has healed as well as the pulled muscle in my thigh, both injuries I sustained during the snowy spell two weeks ago.   My sciatic nerve has finally quit complaining about all that, thank heavens.

I am always telling my clients that they must do self care, stretch and take hot baths and do self massage and stuff like that.   I have always maintained that if you do those things you can minimize injuries and help the ones you do sustain heal faster.   I was about to lose faith in that position while I was dealing with the sciatic thing, but it finally gave in and has started behaving again.   Right now I am struggling with my left shoulder, which I stressed out by playing too much Scott Joplin too soon and sort of yanked my shoulder girdle grabbing for the bass.   That has finally started to yield to the stretching and other self care, but that too was a real pain in the neck until it finally knuckled under.  At least I know I’m not blowing smoke when I tell my clients to stretch, stretch, stretch.

Part of my healing path has been to play the piano more and in order to facilitate that we moved the piano out of the ice box back bedroom and into the master bedroom which is generally warmer because it is in a straight line back from the heating stove.   Additionally, I have been playing with paper on a regular basis, which means my desk looks like this:

Here’s one of the cards I recently did.

There are several more, each just as much fun as this one.   Oh, okay.  I’ll share a couple more.

I have a big collage running around in my mind that I intend to start working on tomorrow, now that I finally got around to doing some of the coloring pages that Tammy Vitale sent me when I signed up over at her blog to get them.   That has been a lot of fun.   I did one in crayon, one in colored pencil.  I thought they came out rather well, and I had a real blast coloring them.  You could get something to color too if you wanted to, just go on over to Tammy’s place and click on “Delight Me.”

That is what I have been doing while it was snowy, rather than playing in my garden.   I have managed to get out and take Ruby for a walk almost every day, and that was a lot of fun because I got to see the animal tracks from the wild denizens of the park where we walk laid out in front of me.   I was very intrigued by this set of prints, which were left by a pair of raccoons who were out walking the path together.

This is where they came out of the woods, and you can see where a squirrel went off to the left as they headed right.

Out in the section of the path that runs through the woods I found a spot where a bob cat was out investigating the mouse situation, and I found it quite amusing that it very carefully walked in the footprints I had made the day before whenever it could.  Ruby’s footprints are in the shot also.

The sun was doing neat stuff behind the clouds that day.

As far as other parts of my healing journey, I find that I am not very motivated to watch my caloric intake right now.   I managed to lose all the weight I gained during the Cookie Season, which was only three pounds.   But Jim got a new cookbook which he has been sampling, and I have been regaled with wonderful enchiladas and some sort of rice/sausage casserole with chicken and peas, plus of course there is always fresh bread around the place.

I’m not too worried, I have only gained a couple of pounds so now I am at 162 again.  Still.  That trend needs to quit.  When it warms up and I start my next big project then I imagine that I will drop weight again.    I have determined to get the damned bermuda grass out of my flower beds out on the root cellar mound.   Last October I had Jesse pull the rocks out of the lower terraces so I could weed out the grass roots.   It looks like this:

You really can’t see the scope of the job from this shot, I have avoided taking pictures because really it is so ugly right now with the rocks torn out etc.   It hasn’t been screaming “I’m so photogenic, take my picture Mom” at me much.   However, in furtherance of making an interesting and instructive post later on, I suppose I should really document what I have goingon out there right now.

Mañana.   Now, it is my bedtime.

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I looked at my blog the other day and realized that I have been neglecting it utterly.   Over on my Desktop there are a couple of dozen photos just waiting to be uploaded so I can share how blessed we are here at the Havens.

I started saying affirmations for my business back in August or September (I can’t really remember which) in an attempt to allow the Universal Energy to work for me before I committed dollars for advertising.   I have advertised before, but it doesn’t seem to be very effective.   I think it is because in essence, when I advertise, I am saying, “By golly, I’m  the greatest massage therapist around and if you come and bare yourself to me you will feel so dandy!  Call for an appointment.”   The reader reaction is, “Well, of COURSE she has to say she’s great.   How do I believe this self-serving mass of blather?”   But when a happy satisfied client who has experienced pain relief first hand tells their friends and acquaintances, “I have this amazing massage therapist and she fixed my hip!  You need to take that (insert pain-ful body part here) to her and if she doesn’t fix it no one can!” the reaction is, “Gee, this gal must have some talent.   I’d better see what she can do for me.”

Well the Universal Energy has responded in trumps and I have been very busy giving massages, plus there is a nice full appointment book to admire and a week off between Christmas and New Year’s to prepare for it, plus a whole bunch of people have purchased gift certificates and so I will be meeting a lot of new clients in the new year.   As Jesse would say, “Hooah!”

Speaking of Jesse, he is now over in Iraq again, this time near Kirkuk.  So any good thoughts you have to spare to send his way would be greatly appreciated here.  We haven’t heard from him for a while, but the Army would inform us if anything bad had happened to him, so I figure he is just really busy and bored a (I sincerely hope bored!).   Soon he will be busy eating cookies and sharing with his battle buddies since I sent him a box just loaded with the cookies I baked last week.

That was a major occupying force in this house for about ten days.   I figured out how many cookies I have baked so far, and came up with 79 dozen, then I ran out of a couple of kinds and we were getting ready to have a party so I baked another ten dozen or so.

We hosted the Solstice Holidays Bonfire and Gift Exchange potluck party this year.   Once I announced my candidacy for hostess and it was unanimously accepted and ratified, I started humble petitions to the UniEn for nice bonfire weather.   As soon as we had all set a mutually agreeable date, the weather turned very nasty around here.   We had a week where it never went above 35 and a lot of mornings the thermometer seemed to be broken and stuck between 8 and 11 degrees.    It finally really was the end of the line for the swiss chard.

But the cold frames are still going strong, and last night we had a salad along with our fish.

Anyway, back to the party.   We decided to hold it on the actual day of the Solstice, and so Sunday was party day at the Havens.   We took time out of our preparations for guests to light the bonfire at the exact moment the sun crossed the solstice point (that was 12:47 p.m. here, by the way).   We had a very small fire this year, because it was too bitterly cold and wet to gather the brush from the back line in the days before the party.   Plus we were awfully busy tending the stove and keeping the house warm, and baking stuff.

So this is a portrait of the fire about 30 seconds after we put our matches to it.

Then I turned 90 degrees and caught the Driftwood Galaxy sculpture I installed on the sauna dressing room in the Solstice sun light.

After the fire was going well, we retired to the house to await our first guests.   The place was decorated just enough.

As you can see from the above series, the sun came out and started to warm things up plus a little warm front moved through and it turned into the perfect afternoon and evening for a bonfire party.    Thanks go out to the universal energy for that answer to our petitions.

Pretty soon the first people started to trickle in.   Ruby was SURE that everyone was coming by just to visit her and throw her ball and pet her ears, and no one popped her little bubble in any way.   Ruby is a very social animal, but very polite.  Suffice it to say that the dog was well exercised, fully sated with petting and attention, and no one gave her indigestible tidbits to eat.  Smokey, on the other hand, was extremely miffed that we had the unmitigated gall to have a party without asking or telling him.  And the Fools were sitting in His Chair and didn’t even discern how disgusting and disconcerting that was.  People.

Oh my, did we have food!   There were two types of wonderful gumbo, plus innumerable side dishes and cookies and pies and I don’t know what all.   Plus there were libations!  After dinner had been consumed Jim put the sticky buns in the oven and baked them.

They were served warm, and he made two pans of them.   We were able to find homes for most of the left-overs with departing guests, so that was good.  Because they were just a little too good, if you know what I mean.

We played the gift exchange game, and I stole the long handled duster thingy from someone who then got to open the hand turned oak bowl. . .  We ate, drank, made merry, took saunas, sat around the bonfire and generally confabulated fabulously.   This is me and my dad making merry.

After a while, people started to trickle home, and eventually the house was empty again.  Then I did a little tidying up, and got a picture of the festive board following the festivities:

Out in the living room, the cat was finally able to enjoy His Chair unimpeded.

During the gift exchange game, one of our number kept having whatever gift he had opened taken from him.   At his first choice, he reached in onto the table and said “I want the black ball,” to which I replied, “It is not wrapped, Dear, it is not in the gift exchange.”  When he was reaching onto the table for the fourth time and said “I still want the black ball,” I finally said “Okay, you can have it if I can come down to your place and take anything I want.”  You have to understand something about the sort of person he is, and have a concept of how many crystals he has dug, and don’t forget he has travelled extensively and he worked in a sapphire mine in Montana for a while,  plus he’s attended the Tuscon gem and mineral show every year for a decade or so.   He told me that was a deal only I couldn’t have anything that was already cemented into the house.   Fair enough.   He may just get a black silver sheen obsidian ball one of these days.

Meanwhile, I noticed what a fine job it was a capturing a reflection of my Solsticemas tree after the party was over and I was back from walking the labyrinth at midnight.

The sun is beginning its journey back to the North and a new circle of the year begins.   May you all be blessed with health, happiness and prosperity in the coming seasons.

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