Saturday, May 10, 2008

Wiccan Landscaping

If there's any literature on this, I'm unaware of it and would welcome links. I feel as if I am in terra incognito, although I shouldn't be. How do Pagans landscape?

I bought this small plot of land (as if one could "own" land) almost five years ago, in Arlington, Virginia, just outside of the nation's capital. In fact, before Virginia got mad, took it's clay, and went home, the place where I live would have been inside Washington, D.C. Due to Virginia's pique, however, I have Senators and a Congressperson, live near enough to the Capitol to do serious political magic, and live in the state named, as my history prof once said, for the alleged state of Good Queen Bess' hymen. The lot has ancient oaks, a pretty old maple, and a ton of other stuff just stuck in willy-nilly. My first year here, I took out a dying tulip poplar and a v. poorly-placed holly tree. I've taken out rose bushes, tomato plants and their attendant wire tee-pees, azaleas. Ivy. Vegetables. I've edited madly and I've tried desperately and badly to grow herbs in shade and rich, acid soil.

This year, in late March, I figured that I'd lived with the land enough, edited enough, gotten an idea of what I wanted. After a long search, I hired a landscape designer: a local boy, someone who's, above all, a good listener. And, now, we've begun.

We've torn up land, buried drainage pipes, turned an ugly alley into a walk through a lovely, cool woodland. In the coming days, we're going to turn an ugly, orange, mini-barn-style garden shed into a charming hobbit home, build walls that will give me the privacy to continue to do ritual in my tiny suburban yard, re-build my front entrance into a welcoming walk into an Arts & Crafts home, and, thank the Goddess, build a raised herb bed out of bricks and river stones in the sunny Northwest part of my yard, sacrificing the spot for the "second" car that I neither have nor need in my driveway and getting sandy soil and sun to grow -- oh, everything. Basil and rosemary and sage and thyme and dill and all kinds of mint and wormwood and woad and angelica and thistle and damiana and feverfew and mugwort and . . . . OK, I may have a bit of editing to do.

Later this year, we'll build a patio of river rocks, ferns, fire pits, fountains, and large, living stones in the back yard and next year we'll tear up the concrete walk from the street to my house, lay down giant flat stones, and plant a bunch more trees, including evergreens and a Japanese Maple in the back around the patio. The final step will be a huge collection of arisaema in the back Southeastern garden.

Anyone ever done a ritual for this, an invocation of the genius locii, a sacrifice to the land? Of course, the land demands it and, of course, I'm not quite sure what, beyond the gentle talks that we've already had -- the land and the oak trees and the fox and the squirrels and the cardinals and the raccoons and the mourning doves and I -- to do, or, more appropriately, how to do this.

What She Said

Ellen R. Malcolm, founder and president of Emily's List, in today's WaPo:

It's not surprising that low-income working women are the cornerstone of Hillary's success. Many of these women live on the edge of disaster. A pink slip, a family member's illness, a parent who can no longer live alone, a car that won't start or a mortgage rate that goes up -- all are threats that could devastate the family. And yet these women do what women have done for ages. They put on a confident face, feed their children breakfast and get them off to school. They don't quit. They suck it up and fight back against whatever life throws their way.

They see in Hillary Clinton a candidate who understands the pressures they face. As they watch her tough it out against all odds, refusing to quit and continuing to compete against whatever the media and her opponents throw her way, they see a woman as tough and resilient as they are. They clearly want her to win. Her victory, I believe, is their victory.

So here we are in the fourth quarter of the nominating process and the game is too close to call. Once again, the opponents and the media are calling for Hillary to quit. The first woman ever to win a presidential primary is supposed to stop competing, to curtsy and exit stage right.

Why on earth should one candidate quit before the contest is finished? Democrats need not be so fainthearted. Both of the party's remaining candidates have raised tens of millions of dollars. Both have the respect of Democrats nationwide. Each has a progressive agenda that stands in stark contrast to Sen. John McCain and his adherence to Bush administration policies.

So why are some Democrats so afraid? We simply need to count every vote, let the remaining states have their say and see the process through to its conclusion.

Hillary Clinton certainly has the right to compete till the end. But I believe Hillary also has a responsibility to play the game to its conclusion. For the women of my generation who learned to find and channel their competitiveness, for the working women who never falter in the face of pressure, for the younger women who still believe women can do anything, Hillary is a champion. She's shown us over and over that winners never quit and that quitters never win. We'll cheer her on until the game is over. And we hope that when the final whistle blows, we will have elected the first female president and the best president our country has ever had.

You know what they'd be saying about a guy who was as close behind the front runner as Hillary is and who wouldn't quit: He's the come-back kid! A real competitor! This guy just won't quit; he's got a lot of heart and a lot of guts. You've got to admire him; he's courageous and, win or lose, he's reminding Americans what it's like to fight to the finish, yadda, yadda, yadda. Hil, becuase she's a woman, is so egotistical that she's willing to "bring down" the party, should quit before she hurts Obama any more, is letting her ambition run away with her, blah, blah, blah. Liberal male bloggers, I'm looking at you.

My New Name For A Blog

What Jamison Foser Said.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Friday Cat Blogging

Emerald City

It absolutely poured last night and into this morning. We had such a dry summer last year that any rain is welcome rain. And I love the sound of it when I'm snuggled warm in bed. Everything is the color green that is the universal symbol for: ALIVE!

What's growing in your life this Spring?

Thursday, May 08, 2008


Thirst is Mary Oliver's book of poems written after the death of her beloved partner, Molly Malone Cook (there's a name for a poet's lover if ever there was one!). It also chronicles Oliver's flirtation with xianity. I'm biased, but I find a number of the explicitly xian poems below Oliver's usual standards; that said, you've got to love an established poet who takes the kind of risks that Oliver keeps on taking. She opens with one of my favorite quotes from early xianity:

Abba Lot went to see Abba Joseph and said to him, "Abba, as far as I can I say my little office, I fast a little, I pray and meditate, I live in peace and as far as I can, I purify my thoughts. What else can I do?" Then the old man stood up and stretched his hands towards heaven. His fingers became like ten lamps of fire and he said to him, "If you will, you can become all flame." You know that Rumi would have said the same thing.

Oliver's first poem, Messenger, works:

My work is loving the world.
Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird --
equal seekers of sweetness.
Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.

Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young, and still not half-perfect? Let me
keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work,

which is mostly standing still and learning to be
The phoebe, the delphinium,
The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.
Which is mostly rejoicing, since all the ingredients are here,

which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart
and these body-clothes,
a mouth with which to give shouts of joy
to the moth and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam,
telling them all, over and over, how it is
that we live forever.

So does her paen to Cook, Those Days:

When I think of her I think of the long summer days
she lay in the sun, how she loved the sun, how we
spread our blankets, and friends came, and

the dogs played, and then I would get restless and
get up and go off to the woods
and the fields, and the afternoon would

soften gradually and finally I would come
home, through the long shadows, and into the house
where she would be

my glorious welcoming, tan and hungry and ready to tell
the hurtless gossips of the day and how I
listened leisurely while I put

around the room flowers in jars of water --
daisies, butter-and-eggs, and everlasting --
unlike our lives they trembled and shimmered

Isn't that how you'd describe every real lover you've ever had: my glorious welcoming, tan and hungry and ready?

She's less successful, IMHO, when she becomes explicitly xian:

The Vast Ocean Begins Just Outside Our Church: The Eucharist

Something has happened
to the bread
and the wine.

They have been blessed.
What now?
The body leans forward

to receive the gift
from the priest's hand,
then the chalice.

They are something else now
from what they were
before this began.

I want
to see Jesus,
maybe in the clouds

or on the shore,
just walking,
beautiful man

and clearly
someone else

On the hard days
I ask myself
if I ever will.

Also there are times
my body whispers to me
that I have.

It's not a bad poem, it's just not up to Oliver's typical standards. You never get that ice-pick-in-the-guts moment of: "Oh, my, YES!" that she so regularly delivers when writing about Nature. And, of course, Oliver's had so many real encounters with the God:

The Place I Want to Get Back To
is where
in the pinewoods
in the moments between
the darkness

and first light
two deer
came walking down the hill
and when they saw me

they said to each other, okay
this one is okay,
let's see who she is
and why she is sitting

on the ground, like that,
so quiet, as if
asleep, or in a dream,
but anyway, harmless;

and so they came
on their slender legs
and gazed upon me
not unlike the way

I go out to the dunes and look
and look and look
into the faces of the flowers;
and then one of them leaned forward

and nuzzled my hand, and what can my life
bring to me that could exceed
that brief moment?
For twenty years

I have gone every day to the same woods,
not waiting, exactly, just lingering.
Such gifts, bestowed
can't be repeated.

If you want to talk about this
come to visit. I live in the house
near the corner, which I have named


Going every day for twenty years to the same woods, not waiting, exactly, just lingering. That will suddenly set you alight, all flame. Before enlightenment, chop wood carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. But the wood and the water are something else now from what they were before this began.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Derrick Jensen On Demands Of The Land

Rhododendron In Bloom In The Woodland Garden

(I promise to quit playing with the new toy soon!)

Music: The Lark Ascending by Vaughan Williams, Adrian Boult conducting the New Philharmonia Orchestra on: Vaughan Williams, Suites, Seranades, Fantasias

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Ruh Roh

A co-founder of the investment company proposing a biblical theme park in Rutherford County was a prolific photographer for Penthouse magazine in the 1970s.

Amnon Bar-Tur shot cover and centerfold photos of nude models for the soft-porn publication, according to Web sites that sell back issues of the magazine.

. . .

U.S. Bankruptcy Court documents show that C2 Media filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Oct. 10, 2001. The company was in debt for about $71 million ? equal to its assets at the time. Amnon Bar-Tur served as the "executive chairman" of C2's board since May 1999, and prior to that had been the chief executive officer for about five months in the company's infancy, according to the court records.

According to the bankruptcy affidavit filed by co-founder David J. Manning, C2 Media executives attributed the company's downfall to a softened economy and "by a dramatic fall-off in business following the World Trade Center disaster."

The company's inability to pay off the debt also stemmed from the collapse in 2000 of the initial public offering market, which allows a private companies to sell its stock to the public. Without the IPO, the documents said, C2 could not pay back what it owed.

What a great use of Rutherford tax dollars! No, it's not. And it will cost even more to defend this stupidity against the inevitable First Amendment challenge. Is Tennessee really that stupid? You do know that the rest of America is laughing at you, right? Mayor Burgess, I'm looking (and laughing) at you

More here.

Look What I Did! Look What I Did!

Music: Crowning of the King by Blackmore's Night from the album Fires at Midnight

Monday, May 05, 2008

Our So-Called Liberal Media

From Media Matters:

Summary: In 2004, the editorial pages of The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal called on Teresa Heinz Kerry to release her tax returns. But both have yet to call on Sen. John McCain's campaign to release Cindy McCain's tax returns or even note that the campaign has refused to do so.

Cindy McCain's wealth is reported to be about one hundred million dollars. IOKIYAR.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Good News!

Desiree Fairooz was initially charged with two counts of assaulting a police officer and one count of disorderly conduct for telling Condoleezza Rice,"The blood of millions of Iraqis is on your hands!"

Judge Ringell honored her actions by referring to Thoreau, Gandhi, and Dr. Martin Luther King, all models of resistance, and explained how they understood they would eventually spend time in jail for their acts. He told Desiree," Some day you'll have to accept the consequences of your acts, but not in this forum [his court]."

He found her guilty of "disorderly conduct" and could have given her 90 days in jail, but instead he sentenced her to 5 days suspended sentence, 3 months of unsupervised probation, and $50 for a mandatory victim's fund. Thank you Desiree ... and thank you Judge Ringell!

Jack-in-the-Pulpit and Roses