Sunday, December 4, 2011

Mea Culpa

My life has been a train wreck, of late. Because of this, my blog has gone unattended for far too long. For those of you wondering “What happened?” please forgive me, but I have been blessed to live in “interesting times” - Gods help me.

Honestly, there is a lot going on – some of it pretty scary. I developed another ulcer on my foot, directly above my old wound site. Thankfully, it healed up rather quickly, although the old wound is now having its own troubles. The skin over it cracked, and so it has a habit of bleeding, made worse by my blood thinners.

Why the blood thinners? Because I had a Doppler that showed I MIGHT have a blood clot in my leg. Better safe than sorry, according to my doctor, and so here I go – once a week – to have my blood tested and my medication adjusted. Meanwhile, I had a complete blood panel done. I knew I was buggered when Dr. Scharf called three times:

(first time) “Increase your blood thinner to 5mg.”

(second time) “Increase your insulin to 40 units.”

( third time) “I just looked at your A1C. What the hell are you doing! Get IN here!!”

It just so happened that my endocrinologist was holding all my scripts hostage until I got my stubborn posterior into HIS office. I had the appointment set, so my primary was content to let my specialist rake my sugar soaked booty over the coals. To this meeting, I took my old friend Ellen. Ellen wanted to make sure the doc knew what kind of “big bad” I've been (I asked her to do this, to keep me honest). Turns out my A1C was 12.1... a bit of not good.

So, I must now stay to the straight and narrow. I had already swore to my anam cara, Claude, and my nephew that I would safeguard my health, and I've been true to my word. I have never lied to either of them, and don't intend to start now. Happily my sugars have gone from the high 300's to 96! With change of diet should come change of weight, which will be wonderful for my foot and my mobility. The goal is to travel with Claude and Keith to see my cousins in Ireland next year, healthy, happy and able to walk. Surprisingly, my sister and Guy (brother-in-law) have mentioned possibly going with me. If my Mum were alive, she would never believe it: not only do I get along well with Diane, and enjoy our time together, but would love to have her travel with me. (Mum's idea of “keeping the peace” was to keep Diane and me separate, preventing us from working out our little differences when young. It was a real shame she didn't trust us to push through and find our own peace – but that's all past tense now).

There are changes happening in other areas as well. For the past 2 months I've been very emotional, even to the point of sobbing in my sleep. I have no idea what the crying was about – I haven't been unhappy and don't remember upsetting dreams. There have been things happening to other friends (My buddy Goldie in PA lost her husband a short while ago, and her house burnt to the ground Friday before Samhain, and another friend lost her mother Samhain morning) but nothing to bring me to the point of sobbing! Goldie's situation prompted me to action, gathering replacements for her magical tools, clothes etc. (Boxes are coming, Goldie!). My other friend's loss was sad, but her mother was suffering. Her passing was also a relief.

It got so ridiculous that I played a CD my first love made for me a few years ago, and broke out in tears the minute I heard his voice. I couldn't continue to drive! I mean, OK. I'm proud of him, always loved his voice, miss singing with him, may even get teary-eyed nostalgic, but this was loony tunes.

Wil performing in Nashville

Then I started to notice that when I got that way, someone always showed up needing help, or comfort, or advice. It was as though I was clearing space in my heart so I would have the empathy to relate to these folks. It was a cleansing, of a sort.

It also prepared me for other changes happening in my life. I can't really discuss details just yet, but I'm about to go into complete lifestyle overhaul. Almost everything is going to change for me and, while some may say I'm dancing with adversity, I feel great potential and opportunity ahead. There will be more on this as the weeks progress. Thankfully, I have talented and caring friends guiding me through the metaphysical barrier reef!

I have spent the latter portion of the Fall enticing my friends and fellow Sherlockians to watch the BBC's “Sherlock” and reading through the Fan Fiction. There are wonderful tales being written (as well as slash and porn, but I usually skip all that), as well as some great art. “Season” 2 won't come to these shores until May 6th 2012, although BBC One will be showing it in January. For those who are Conan-Doyle fans, I would like to make a plea for support. His home, Undershaw, is slated to be turned into 3 terrace houses. In the interim, the premises is being allowed to fall into ruin. It was at Undershaw that Doyle wrote some of his best Sherlock, including “Hound of the Baskervilles”. Please visit the Undershaw website and lend your support:

Undershaw in better days

Doyle at Undershaw

Undershaw today, falling into ruin

As I mentioned in a prior post, I enjoyed myself immensely at Para-X. I'm happy to report that I've been asked to be a speaker at the next. I have to make sure I'm not in Ireland at the time! Fairly soon, Keith and I will be prowling around New Brunswick, NJ setting up the pictures for yet another Fate Magazine article, “Haunted New Brunswick.” I already have the photos I wish to use in my final article on Glastonbury. After that, I'm not sure what I will do. I have neglected my manuscript shamefully, and intend to have that completed and shopped out by Spring.

Finally, as promised, here are a few more of the gargoyle pictures that did not see the light of day in my Fate article. All photos are by my wonderful nephew, Keith Filarowitz.  Enjoy.  I'll post more next time!
A metal lion on a Red Bank door

A lion's head on a Red Bank public building

A worn Princeton gargoyle..

... and a Classic one, still surviving the elements

Grotesques can be a beautiful face.... one plagued by monkeys!

The chapel has owls...

...and a bat!...

..and even this steampunk looking fellow!

Sunday, October 23, 2011


Last weekend's Para-X in East Brunswick was a real blast.  Thanks to New Jersey Ghost Organization for hosting the event, and also to my lovely publisher, Phyllis Galde, for providing new Fate Magazines hot off the presses.

I also have to acknowledge my friend Charlene and nephew Keith for doing all the lugging and setting up/ breaking down that was beyond my abilities. We handed out lots of goodie bags, and sold both books and pouches, we had lovely neighbors in the guise of the Lytle sisters, and generally had a ball.  Would I do this again next year? Absolutely!

Yours truly

The signing table

Charlene in green

Me and ECTO 2

I mentioned in a prior blog entry that I would be doing the Samhain Circle at Earth Spirit on October 30th.  That has now been changed.  The shop decided they wanted a party, instead, complete with psychic readings and a seance. During Samhain season? Well, good luck there, folks.  I'll be safely tucked in bed.

Speaking of Samhain season, I have always said "If things can go wrong, they will"... and so they have.  Last Wednesdsay I took my shower, started putting on my socks and there, on my left ankle, was an ulcer.  I froze.  I thought I was having flashbacks.  I went to see my doctor and, thankfully, it is very shallow. No walking in the CRO until it heals. Therefore I had to 1) work at home again 2) give up my ticket to see the Ghost Hunters at the Count Basie Theatre and 3) cancel my Salem trip.  However! I am happy to report the healing has begun and we have avoided the road I went down last year. Worth a trip to Salem? Oh, yes.

Next weekend, the blog will be all about Samhain - and will also feature some of the gargoyle photos not used in the "Jersey Goyle" article.  Until then, be careful out there.  The worlds are getting closer and closer...

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Finally! A Clue...

I am in love. 
Oh, this isn't a new relationship by any means.  I've been carrying the torch for this gentlemen since I was in high school. I admired his intellect, his near-magical abilities, the fact that he was not focused on monetary gain, surface relationships, or chasing the mundane and pedestrian in life. He has placed himself in the service of others many times, risked his life, but all with the commitment of conquering the puzzle, finding the solution, feeling alive.

He's far from perfect.  Like me, he dwells on the darkness when there are no distractions.  He mopes.  He withdraws. But I have loved him with all my heart. Many have tried to be like him, a clear compliment to his individualistic style, but I have never seen the spark of his spirit in any man's eyes…until now.

This weekend, I watched all 3 episodes of "Sherlock", the BBC's 3-parter, and my skeptical heart just melted. Finally! A Holmes and Watson that doesn't insult the intelligence, that plays to those human traits - strength, weakness, flaws, brilliance - that have been in the "cannon" all this time.  And they are young - as young as they would have been in Sir Arthur's stories: mature, in their thirties – men old enough to have seen the jaded side of the world (John in war and Sherlock in crime investigation) but who still have a longing for “the game” - the thrill of life.

Stripped away is Victorian England. This is the 21st century. There are laptops, cell phones, Chinese take-away open until 2am. What remains is pure relationship and character development or, better stated, character re-discovery. Holy Goddess, what a ride! They have just finished filming next year's three episode 2nd season. Was that actually me giggling when I got the news? Funny, what love can do.

As to this quote:
Barry: "Hey, you gotta help me, Mr. Holmes! Everyone says you're the best. Without you... I'll get hung for this."
Sherlock: "No, no, Mr. Bewick, not at all. Hanged, yes."'s part of scene one, episode 3, current season.
Those who know me, and my near obsession with proper grammar (specific errors in particular) are now grinning like Cheshire Cats. Do you see? If I hadn't yet given my soul to this Sherlock after Episodes 1 and 2, he would have had me at “hanged”.

Regarding everyday existence - I went to see the doctors this past Thursday.  The new CRO and shoe are working out OK, but I still have a chronic fear of falling.  They've given me a script for physical therapy.  I also complained about pain in the back of my leg, and now I must go for a Doppler. Blood clots may be forming, even at this late date. I couldn't go Friday because my car was at the garage having the electrical system checked. (Sigh) it IS still Samhain season.

On the bright side, the Fate Magazine issue has arrived and the article looks great, as does Keith's photography. I have a supply, although limited. Come see me at the Para-X event at the East Brunswick Elks on Saturday, October 15th, and pick up a copy while they last. There will also be goodie bags, books and pouches for purchase, and lots of candy corn!

Hopefully, Jersey folks who read Jersey "Goyles" will take a few snaps of their own local stone lurkers and send them to me. In my next blog I will begin sharing images not used in the article.

See you next Saturday!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

And On To The Next

This is a just a short note to thank those of you who stopped by Earth Spirit yesterday to buy a book, get a goodie bag, or simply talk about Wicca. A special thanks goes to Keith, who did a lot of hauling, and dragging, and searching for misplaced muffins and keys. At least we always have SOME adventure, nephew!

For those of you in the Red Bank NJ area over the Samhain weekend, I will be conducting an open Circle at Earth Spirit, 25 Monmouth Street, on October 30th, starting 7pm.  Please, no costumes, but if you wish to wear a robe or Circle garb, that will be fine. This is a serious ritual, so kindly leave the children at home.

Our next signing will be at the 3rd annual Para-X at the East Brunswick Elks Lodge, 21 Oakmont Avenue, on October 15th.  The event runs from 11am-8pm and looks to be a blast.  This will be my first time appearing at this venue.  There will be authors, psychics, artists, paranormal groups, food etc etc. Even Ecto 2 will be making an appearance! This event is sponsored by the New Jersey Ghost Organization.  Check out their web site at: 

I'll be there with my books, Graven Imges Oracle decks, hand sewn tarot and stone pouches, and goodie bags! 

Thanks again, everyone.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Samhain...

Sometimes, I don't listen to my own advice.

I knew “me and mine” were experiencing difficult times. I specifically made runes to ward my property, even shared the “how to” on this blog. Then, life got busier. I put off charging and placing them. September came – I should have known better.

Because my CRO was not cast properly, my insurance paid for a re-cast, this time by the man who made my original devices. I was prevented from going for my final fitting because Hurricane Irene created the “island” of North Brunswick. I couldn't get over any of the bridges, Route 18 was flooded, the canal was now a river all by itself and – forget East Millstone. If any of you saw Bound Brook NJ in the national news during Hurricane Floyd, East Millstone flooding is it's equal.

I had water in my basement, and a problem with the bathroom wall. It kept changing into various forms of modern art. (No kidding! It was morphing before my eyes!)

Wall as Art
I was to pick up the CRO the following Wednesday. OK. No problem. I also had a two day workshop at the office that was mandatory Wednesday through Thursday. I would miss a few hours, but otherwise could get it done.

That Wednesday, I got up early, took care of Rufus, got out to the car in the scary CRO and shoe (by now, I was terrified of falling in them again), and started the car. I adjusted everything, checked for school kids, started to back out and...BOOM! There was a nice explosion, my car listed to the left, smoke rose in the breeze, and then – silence. To me, it was a blown tire. That's all I saw. I moved my CRO appointment to the following Wednesday and called my boss. Thankfully, my cousin George is an auto genius. He was on his way to change my tire. I assured my boss I would be late, but I would make it.

Two hours and three jacks later, cousin George finally gets the car lifted up enough to see what happened. I knew the news was bad when he walked in the house carrying something that looked like a metal horseshoe. This was not good.

“This is not good,” said cousin George. “Your coil exploded, it shot this piece right though your new tire, and you're going to need a coil, strut and another new tire. Don't know if I have the parts on hand. I'm calling a flat bed to pick up the car. Sorry, Kath.”
(I was comforted by the thought that this happened backing out of my driveway, and not going 50 mph down a country road).

So goes the mandatory workshop. Boss understood, but wasn't happy. Two of us had to miss this event and would need to attend it at another site. She finally found one – Glastonbury CT. The date? Oct 20-21.

Same time as my already paid for vacation. My NON-REFUNDABLE vacation – to Salem Mass. And I was all ready for it!

Eventually we found another venue, NYC in November. Ducky. I can't yet handle trains and subways, I can't park at the Sea Port and walk. That means car service for two days, for which I will probably have to pay myself. Yikes.

I finally charged those runes and had my nephew place them for me in the proper spots. The water in my basement dried. Gold Metal came out and replaced the flashing around my bathroom exhaust pipe. There was an actual hole in the roof caused by Irene (who knew?). I picked up my CRO and my new shoes. I'm still getting accustomed to both, but I can tell the CRO is a vast improvement over the prior. You just can't beat items hand made and personally adjusted by the individual who crafted your device.

Rufus and CRO
I went to my eye doctor and all was well there.
I am breathing a wary sigh of relief. It's still Samhain-tide, however. If it can go wrong it will. However, I think I'm better prepared now. Beyond warding the house, my friend Goldie took a look at my chart and provided some guidance which has proved to be invaluable. Thanks, sister!

I am still hoping I get a few copies of the new Fate Magazine, with my gargoyle piece, in time for my book signing next week. If not, there are still plenty of goodie bags with other issues.

I will be at Earth Spirit New Age Center, Monmouth Street, Red Bank from 12-4pm on Saturday September 24th. Come visit, see the shop, buy a book or a Graven Images Oracle deck. Meet Keith, my nephew and photographer. Have some candy corn and enjoy yourself!

Before I go, I must share this. Keith and I were running errands the day before Irene hit. At one point I had to get gas. We pulled into my local BP station. While filling up, I mentioned that the next Fate article will probably be “Haunted New Brunswick”. I glanced over at the garage bay, then added “And I must be onto something if THEY are here!”

Keith took a quick picture. It's not perfect, but take a look what was in the bay for servicing.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

A Memorial

It was an incredible, beautiful day. We had had a lovely weekend, celebrating my niece's upcoming wedding. The weather had been OK for the start of the week, but this was spectacular. There were crystal clear skies, deep blue, perfect, and mild temperatures announcing Fall just around the corner - a time when I felt alive.

I knew where my family and friends were: Claude would be working from her office not far from the Trade Center, my nephew was suppose to be heading into NYC. Everyone else was working in New Jersey. I was at work in Piscataway: my day started at 7:30am. I was at my desk when someone said they heard a plane had hit Tower 1. All I could think was “What kind of civilian idiot went off course now?” Shortly thereafter, I was told another plane hit Tower 2. That's when we all realized: this was no accident.

We emptied into the foyer, huddling near the company's large TV screen. The images were surreal. The smoke and fire, the people jumping to their death. One of my co-workers whispered to me “Oh, God! Adam works in the South Tower!” (Adam was a former employee who married one of our long time office friends.) I turned to another co-worker who was a volunteer fire fighter. “Any chance they can put those fires out?” He merely shook his head no.

We scrambled back to our desks for cell phones, then returned to the TV. My best friend worked blocks away from the Towers – no answer. My nephew was suppose to be in town – no answer. Our friend had heard from her husband. He was on the way down and would call when he reached street level. He never did.

In horror, we saw Tower 1 disappear. Then, Tower 2 was gone. I thought of Claude, out in the streets, breathing in those toxins with her asthma. I thought of my nephew potentially on the trains beneath. Another friend's husband worked in the area..we all had colleagues in those buildings (it housed many insurance offices).

Rumors ran rampant: more planes were missing, the White House was hit, no – the Pentagon – all planes were grounded, and all bridges were being closed. We were told to go home. I left, still not having heard from anyone.

I had just about gotten to my street when an explosive sound erupted overhead. It was a military squadron, flying so low I could see their markings. A neighbor appeared on his lawn and started to film as they flew by. There was no doubt they were heading towards the City (we're only 45 minutes away by bus). In a sky usually full of Newark International flights, they were the only aerial presence.

I hurried home to my phone.

By day's end, I located almost everyone. My nephew got up that morning and decided he was going to work from his NJ office. He was safe. Claude had survived as well, although barely. After the first plane hit, she ran to the window in her boss's office where she had a view of the Towers. A shadow passed overhead, then a wing. The second hijacked plane had to dip to avoid her building on the way to its doom. She witnessed the second strike.

With that, she abandoned the building. She just made the subway as the first Tower fell. A co-worker with asthma, who got caught in the cloud of dust, died from the exposure. She somehow made her way to the New Jersey side of the river, where people were being hosed off before boarding trains. Finally, she made it home.

We did not hear anything about Adam.

The next afternoon, our friend called and said if we wanted to visit, we had better do it now. She was sitting calmly on her sofa when we arrived. The kids had been sent somewhere to play. She told us there was no sign of Adam in hospitals, on any lists – and yet the majority of the folks with whom he left had made it out. Eventually we heard the story: Adam and others got to the sky lobby when the office secretary wanted to get off. She had gone through the 1993 attack and was afraid to take the elevator any farther. Adam volunteered to walk down the stairs with her. That's where they were when the building fell.

The memorial service was almost unbearable. I don't know how our friend stayed as centered as she was. We tried to follow her example and be brave, until her 9 year old daughter read a piece she had written about her Dad. Her voice didn't waiver, or hold a trace of a tear. She was magnificent; it was we who broke down.

More and more stories came out about folks like Adam. There was a man in one office who could have left but refused to abandon his invalid friend. There was a security guard who volunteered to stay with a badly wounded man, waiting for help that never reached them. Amid the destruction of humanity arose the beauty of its spirit, over and over.

In the following days, the tragedy was unavoidable. All our communities had lost members, and our local fire fighters went to the aid of their brothers in NYC. They maned a fire house, allowing that company to go search for their missing. In gratitude, we were given part of a Tower support beam which forms the center of our 911 memorial.

The Raritan Valley is in a unique position: smells from the City have a way of drifting towards, and lingering, along the river. We couldn't escape the smell of fuel, concrete dust, burnt was everywhere.

Finally, after the rains that night, the shift of winds, the flow of time, the air cleared. Trees were planted, names engraved in stone, on plaques, in bricks – but we weren't likely to forget. And the thing I remember most is Adam willing to help a co-worker, people going back it to search for others, folks staying behind to comfort the fearful.

My x-husband once turned to me and said “ They call them 'heroes.' WHAT heroes? They all just went to work, or hopped on a plane, and got killed. They didn't do anything heroic, they just died.”

Oh, really?

The Gods of the Universe bless every single one of them.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Needing My Just "Re-Wards"

It's been a strange few weeks around here. The effects of the last nine months have finally hit me, and they had quite a punch. Consider: I've been through major surgery, extreme pain from the external fixator, re-learning how to walk in a new CRO (which, by the way, is not fitted correctly), the end of several relationships, return to work with its pressures and veiled threats, invasion of privacy, and two expensive repairs to the home. And hey! Let's not forget the mystery hives!

While I braved it through when it was happening, I look back now and get the shakes. Concern about my continued healing process, unanswered questions as to failed friendships, (Am I that bad a judge of character? Are there people who deliberately hurt others for power?), and instability in my industry have me loopy. I'm too young to retire, too broke for another mortgage, and yet I'm slowly being talked into a move to Maryland by my siblings – who are all moving to Maryland.

There are fears from the past, fears for the future, and now my family's been hit with a string of bad luck. There have been layoffs, car crashes, sick shih tzus (no, not Rufus), and a general shake up of the world as I've known it. I'm so exhausted by the time I limp into the house in the evening, I can barely turn on the light. Yet, the phone calls start my butt's on a timer. It's my sick elderly neighbor first, then family then friends, then the neighbor again ... and each with their own tales of woe, which they freely share. Then, when finished, they unfailingly ask “Why do you sound so down?”

Call off the flying monkeys!!

It's enough to make you crawl around amidst the squeaky toys, banging the living room floor boards, chanting “Must be a way out...must be a way out...” No, it doesn't help, but Rufus thinks it's a hoot.
 So, what to do. Curled up in my jammies one evening, I though about how my house use to feel cozy. Now, it has a tumbled, stressed overcoat of negativity. I want my cozy back! The answer – new wards. It's time to take back my house, even if the rest of everything is sliding into the flames. Then I thought, why not share the knowledge? So, for those of you needing a clean sweep through your environment, here is a little “re-ward”.

First: Decide what kind of a protective symbol speaks to you. It could be a classical sign, ogham, something from the Druids, Christian, Egyptian, or one you developed yourself. If you'd like, you can even borrow mine (see blurry drawing below). The point is this: the symbol has to mean something to you. Even if you just use a pentagram, make the symbol one in which you can focus your energy, trust, and believe to have the power to protect.
 As to my personal rune, allow me to walk you through the elements: The “V” at the top is actually the horns of the God (Divine Male), and the half circle shape at the bottom is a crescent moon, the “horns” of the Goddess (Divine Female). The vertical line is the “World Tree” that connects all levels of being, and the horizontal lines top and bottom represent the concept “As Above, So Below.” The diamond shape in the middle shows the four corners of the World, and the crossed lines inside the diamond symbolize my property. The waxing and waning moons to either side show a perpetual cycle. In short, this rune says: from wax to wane, from world to world, from above to below, and the land betwixt and between, may my premises be guarded.

You can decide how to make your wards. You can find 4 rather flat stones and draw/paint upon them, you can buy river rocks for the same purpose, or you can even use seashells if they call to you. I decided to make mine from polymer clay, like Fimo or Sculpey. I made 4 flat “cookies” of the primary colors, mixed with a light sand color. I next took a screw driver and pressed it into the clay, making the designs. I baked and cooled them according to the directions, and then outlined the rune figures with a gold art pen.
You should now bless your wards with the four elements. Sprinkle them with salted water (Earth and Water), rub a little incense ash onto them (Air), or use your own breath to blow across each ward three times. Finally, pass them through the heat of a lit candle (Fire).

Hold each ward and tell it – aloud – what you wish it to do. Don't be too vague on this. Don't say “Keep all negativity away from my house” because “negativity” comes in all shapes and forms: your own bad mood from a conflict at work, sick kids dragging their tushies over the threshold after school, the bearer of sad news, etc.! It may be better to be specific. For example: “May these wards protect my premises, and all within its borders, from any negativity intended to hurt or cause ill. May Evil be turned aside, as well as deliberate dark acts against us. May our loved ones leave their burdens at the door.” That covers just about everything intentional, as well as bad spirits – metaphysical and human.

Finally, place your wards at the four corners of your property. This doesn't have to be literal. If I were to place my wards in the actual four corners, Rufus would be chewing on two, and the lawn guy's mower would be chewing up the others. I'll place mine at the four corner of the house, tucked in the gardens and under the deck. You can put them inside the four corners of your house or apartment as well. The important thing here is to state your intention: “As I place this ward may it's powers extend beyond this wall, and to the borders of my premises/property.”

Once placed, envision the wards being connected by a line of electric blue energy. See your premises enclosed by this grid of protection, then let the vision fade. Periodically, envision this grid again, to recharge it. You do not have to touch the wards to do this. They can stay where you placed them.

Am I sure this is the time to re-ward myself? Oh yes. I went to see the surgeon in PA yesterday. Everything is progressing fine, except I need a new CRO. I got back to my sister's house without any problems. However, when I went to leave, I did a header into the driveway gravel. I took two years off my poor sister's life, as well as several off my own. Plus, gravel hurts, damn it! My shoulder was wrenched, my arm was scraped, and my knees looked like a connect-the-dots game.

Once home, I went down another two times.

This morning, I am working from home, too stiff to walk or drive. Yeah, it's time for a whopping big dose of “Bad go bye-bye.”

There has been one bit of pleasant news. My piece on Gargoyles in New Jersey will be running in the next issue of Fate Magazine. It will be the one with Yoda on the cover, so watch for it! After the piece is published, I'll add some gargoyles shots, that weren't used, to the next few blogs, along with any pictures readers send me.

Well, that's it. Let me know how the wards turn out for you, and be careful out there. The world has gone mad.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Oh Lord, it's hard to be humble...

I went to college with a multi-talented bunch of women. Some were artists, some writers, some combined art and science. We also had wild senses of humor and a ton of creativity. We were commuters, but that didn’t stop us developing our own group mentality. As the smart, boisterous, geeks that always sat at the large table in the commuter lounge, we were dubbed “Animal Corner”. We bore that moniker proudly.

 (One year we returned to school, only to find that our large table had disappeared. We found out from an assistant dean it had been placed up on the third floor in the “quiet study” lounge. We rolled up our sleeves, and the silly little table that was our substitute, and proceeded up the three flights of stairs to the “quiet” lounge. We dumped off the dinky, told those studying “Sorry, change of plans,” and proceeded to roll our large table all the way back down to the corner of the commuter lounge. We pulled up chairs and got on with our school year. I remember someone in the lounge moaning “Oh god, they’re back.” We sure were. BTW: No one moved our table for the next 3 years.)

"Animal Corner" ala Camelot

Out of all these gals, one was very devoted to space science. Let's call her Sally. She eventually went to work for NASA. She also plied her other talents in sports and photography, public speaking and writing. After a few years of correspondence (this was before e-mail) we lost contact. The reason was lost as time marched along.

Almost three decades went by. When the shuttle Columbia exploded in 2003, I sent her my condolences. I was aware that some of these astronauts were her friends. I also sent her a copy of my first book. Eventually I heard back from her that she had received the book, skimmed through it, but really didn't understand it. It wasn't her thing. That was it - no "Good for you" or "Congrats." - nothing supportive at all. I figured she was curt because she was busy and shrugged it off.

A few years later, our Alma Mater was giving my friend an award. She would be in town. Could I pick her up for a visit? I was delighted! On the specified evening, I met her at the University. She got into my car with a load of scrap books, looked at me and said “What happened to your hair?”
“I cut it short.”
“Looked better when it was long.”
“Yeah – 30 years ago, maybe.”
Next I was asked to take her to a CVS so she could pick up some essentials. After that, we went to my house. She walked in, looked around and said “I'm not afraid of color. You should see MY house.”

I had invited another college chum to join us. When this woman came through the door, she looked at Sally and happily exclaimed, “I would know you anywhere!”
The response? “I'm not sure I would know you. I work out to keep in shape.”
The rest of the evening went along those same lines. I was a published author and teacher. My other friend was a scientist with Lockheed Martin. Sally was having none of our adventures. We sat through books of awards and stories about her sporting events for the rest of the visit.

 The next evening, she again asked if I could take her to another shop. Afterwards, we stopped for ice cream. I started to tell her about my friendship with Pauline Campanelli and how I missed her. (Sally is into art; Pauline was a famous artist. I thought it would interest her.) I saw a look of complete and utter boredom on Sally's face. “Did I tell you all this before?”
“No. It's just – I don't know this person, so...” and shrugged off the rest of my tale.

We parted that evening. The next day was the awards ceremony (I was not invited), and then she was winging home. As I pulled away from the college, after dropping her off, I remembered why I had stopped writing to her. I would always pen a personal letter, no matter how busy I was. In return, I started getting form letters, like I was part of some fan based group. (Today, she would have blogged instead of writing.)

So, why am I telling you this? Well, I periodically look on line for news of long lost or past friends and classmates. I had seen Sally's various web sites, proclaiming her successes and making sure folks knew she was available for public speaking. She describes herself in glowing terms. “Well, good for her,” I would think to myself. I suppose we all do a little self-promoting from time to time. After all, I don't have book signing and tell the folks my books are mediocre, do I?

However – this week – a large news operation did a story on our Sally, now that the shuttle missions are ending. The photo they used was of our gal, dressed as an astronaut. Sally has never gone into space. Physically, she didn't qualify. So why the get-up? I thought of those who went into the unknown and risked their lives. I also thought of the Challenger and the Columbia where lives were lost. This, to me, was just more "Showboating Sally" - and I found it very sad.
I blotted out her face to protect her I.D.

I had to ask myself, when does accepting recognition and acknowledging our accomplishment turn into Hubris? I've boasted to folks (kiddingly) that I could hurt them without leaving a fingerprint, so they'd better behave. Can I? Well...yeah, not that I would. Was I being Prideful? Humm...maybe so.

How do we usually feel about those Witches and Pagans who declared themselves “King” and “Queen”? Those of you who are a tad older in the community, remember the “witch wars” when certain folks (seemed like one on every corner) declared them-
selves the teacher of the one true Wiccan path – and fie on the rest of you phonies. Were they defenders of the faith, or just puffed up glory hounds?

I still find some of this extreme self-aggrandizement among our ranks, although happily less and less. I think there is something lacking in folks who have to extol their own merits so aggressively. Shakespeare wrote: “Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.” ... but that doesn't mean they get to thrust it upon everybody else!
Aesop had a fable about the results of Hubris: There were two cocks fighting in a barnyard. (Get your minds out of the gutter, the bunch of ya!). One rooster eventually won, and the loosing cock quietly removed himself from the hens and rested in the shade of a far corner.

The winning cock sprang to the top of the hen house. He ruffled his feather, flapped his wings and crowed as loudly as he could, announcing his victory.

At that moment, an eagle was flying overhead. He saw the bright plumage, the flapping wings, and heard the victory call. He honed in on that, and snatched the rooster right off the roof. Later, he became a tasty lunch, and the “looser” cock ruled the hen house from that day forward.

When my niece was small, she started to brag about her reading skill. I told her to try being a bit more humble. Did she know what that was?
“Sure,” she said, puffing out her tiny chest. “I read it in one of my books: It's when you're not too proud, and close to the ground.”

I think it may be time for all of us to get closer to the ground, and let our intelligence, abilities, and achievements speak for themselves, for a change.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Thank You!

Just another brief blog to say "Thanks" to everyone who made the book signing on July 9th a success.

To those who bought books, or just came by for a chat, thanks for the support!

Eric, you were the perfect host.
Laura, we couldn't have gotten back to the car without you!
Claude, thanks for driving me through the wilds of New Hope, even if you WERE screaming things through the closed windows.

Claude and I had a blast. We'll do it again sometime in the Fall... when it's cool...and there's less traffic...

Me and Claude - once we settled in

Our little corner of Mystical Tymes. Nice brooms, huh? Eric has more!

My books, the Graven Images Oracle, and Fate magazines.

There is one more person I should thank - Phyllis Galde. She is not only my publisher and friend, but also the Editor and Publisher of Fate Magazine. She graciously sent copies of the magazine so that folks could check out the goodies inside (including one of my articles!) 

I'm dreaming up some Autumnal workshops for late September - early October. I'll keep you posted.

Again, thanks - everyone - for a great day!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Come and Get Me!!

Just a quick, little blog to announce the  following Book Signings:

1) Place: Mystickal Tymes, New Hope PA

    Date: Saturday, July 9, 2011 (THIS WEEKEND!)

    Time: 2pm-6pm

2) Place:  Earth Spirit New Age Center, Red Bank, NJ

    Date:  Saturday September 24, 2011

    Time: 12pm - 4pm

All three publications will be available for purchase at both locations.
Concerning our traditional ways, and rituals

Graven Images Oracle - written with Natalie Zaman

My latest look at the Craft I love!

Come shop these wonderful venues, visit me, share some goodies and buy a book.

I'm looking forward to seeing you~!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Matrix, Part....?

It's a common problem in ghost hunting, and often in some of our everyday lives. We hear things in our environment, like refrigerator motors running, the sound of baseboard heat or air conditioner vents. We may suffer from Tinnitus (ringing in the ears) that varies in pitch. Suddenly, the noise or the ringing sounds familiar. Is that a few bars of an old tune? Was that someone...or something... calling our name?

We are investigating a house. There is an antique mirror on the wall. No matter how many times it is cleaned, a fuzzy hand print still remains. We look up at a window of a “haunted” house. The sun is bright, the trees move in the breeze, the clouds speed across the blue sky and, suddenly, we see a face looking down at us through the window glass.

Dots....or Aunt Dottie?
It's called “Matrixing” - when our minds strive to create recognizable images and sound from random noise, hums, blurs and reflections. A typical example from our youth is when we stretched out on the grass, and saw dragons and other mystical beasts in the cloud formations floating overhead.

Sometimes Matrixing happens in lives, as well. I know that I have often looked at my job, the home situation, my friends, and saw things that were never there, or weren't what they appeared. I have taken a clear look at those people who have populated my life of late, and have been both comforted and bewildered by what I found, once I looked past the layers and images my mind created. Some were true, and some were illusion, just like ghosts in a mirror.

My time working home during my leg crisis (15 months!) also gave me a different perspective on my function, my management, and my co-workers. That served me well. I returned to the office for half days starting last week. No one threw confetti or released helium balloons and doves. No one had “welcome back” coffee and donuts set out. No one offered to GET me a cup of coffee. It was just the way I knew it would be. I had gained a clearer picture from my time away. I was prepared for the silence.

Tumbleweeds.. All I need are crickets...
In the authoring of my own live, however, I am still trying to leave the Matrix behind. I earn my living in a professional capacity – but that is not me. That is not my passion, my universe. I am good at what I do because I have pride in those things which bear my signature. My name means something to me, and I will do what I must to keep it honorable. Yet, my profession is not my heart's desire.

I have aways seen myself as a writer. In grade school, in high school, in college, it was Kat, a pen, and a loose leaf book, a blank book, or a journal. I won awards for poetry, published my first vignette while still in college, won the William Carlos Williams awards when I was 23, and taught for the National Endowment for the Arts when I was 24. I met writers I'd no hope of meeting, broke bread with people in my field whom I admired for years, and finally wrote for a magazine in which I wanted to appear since my teens.

I wrote one book, developed a prediction system (Graven Images Oracle), wrote another book, and am working on the third. And yet...

Is That what I want to do? If so, is this the way I want to do it?

I have always been of one mind with Dorothy Parker. I hate writing, but love having written. Never having had a biological offspring of my own (my Jen is a foster) I don't know if I can accurately describe the creative process as akin to child birth. I'm told kidney stones are worse than labor, and I've had one of those – and yeah, OK, sometimes writing is like that. The idea, the desire, the funny bits, the great lines of poetry, kick around in my psyche until they just HAVE to come out. I can't focus on anything else, can't sit still (physically and metaphorically) and then – whoosh! The real pressure begins, I rush to my notebook, grab my pen, and commerce the struggle.

After hours of cross-outs, circles, arrows, additions, doodles, question marks in parentheses and ink scrawls that barely pass for English, I'm done. It gets typed up in Open Office and then I've either given birth to a beautiful, new work of linguistic persuasion – or I've popped out the world's “ugliest baby”. Such is my process.

True, it's not engraved in stone or immortalized in papyrus, (“Elders” damn near wrote itself) yet it is the norm for me. Have I embraced this as my calling because of the destination only? Isn't the journey the vital aspect? Do I want to squeeze out book after book, or does my True Will lie elsewhere? Am I more fulfilled writing articles and teaching, and perhaps producing the occasional book?

I have finally gotten a bit beyond the Matrixing and realize that I love words; I love being a writer. The goal is not to be prolific, The goal is to be good. I'm as content with the idea of writing my upcoming "Fate" articles as I would be penning a series of Wiccan books. (Don't get me wrong: I'm happy to be working on “Myth Spelling”, but no longer feel that I must look past it to line up the concepts for the NEXT manuscript.)

Ultimately, I discovered what I really want to do after retirement (only a few years away!) I  want my New Age Bookstore, the one I've dreamed about. I want to run it with my nephew Keith. I'll call it: Three Willows, Books and Beyond (Keith says I'm in charge of the Beyond section.) It will have a Victorian tea parlor for readings, and a lecture/Circle room. I can still have my love affair with words but also instruct, because I now know my calling. I'm not a Writer who teaches; I'm a Teacher who writes....

... and therein lies the difference.

Monday, June 13, 2011

How Do You Solve A Problem Like Ophelia?

This is Ophelia.
 She is an aloe plant.  Looks normal, no? Her name SHOULD be Cleopatra, for reasons that will soon be clear.

She was a gift from my daughter and son-in-law four years ago, presented to me during my healing Circle. After all, nothing says healing like an aloe...right?
I'm great with outdoor plants, but not so much with indoor. Thankfully, an aloe needs little care. Ophelia grew and had babies. These were also given away as gifts, and Ophelia was given a nice new pot. She continued to thrive, and reach out to the two other plants on my kitchen window sill...and reach out...and reach out... One day, I found her spiny “leaves” forked around the “throat” of my lucky bamboo. She got moved further away, and turned inward towards the kitchen.

While I was recovering from my surgery, I had to wash my hair in the kitchen sink. On occasion, I would feel something tapping the top of my skull. I would bring my head up... and be face-to-face with Ophelia. If a plant could grin... She got turned towards the refrigerator.

So, now I'm not sure. Is she just being her own unique self, or is she trying to make it down and out the kitchen to go snack on the shih tzu?

The jury is still out. I know she's an aloe, but she reminds me of another plant with similar structure:
Cleopatra enjoying a bowl of...?

In other news, I went down to the police station in Somerset and positively identified myself on the janitor's tape (see last entry). It was a shock to my system. I remembered an old school chum who is a lawyer in New Brunswick. I called him about the case, and will meet with him tomorrow. Thank the Gods. I would hate to go through this, relying on a complete stranger.

Meanwhile, I got my new CRO..the “octopus”. That's not the brand name, but it should be. One strap goes across the toes. OK so far. Next there are two straps to the left, and two straps to the right, bolted to the CRO in the center of the back. Being made of Velcro, the minute you get out of the contraption, the straps all start getting warm and fuzzy with each other until there is real jumble love going on back there. It makes it almost impossible to untangle and put back on. (Sight) this, too, shall pass.

CRO - side view

CRO - behaving badly
Oh yes, and the Allergist!. He asked lots and lots of questions. He looked at my picture of my hives, (I'm smart, I took a picture in case they went away on the day of my appointment!)

 He jotted notes, then spit out a really complication name which, in plain language, means “indeterminate hives.”
Yes, I have hives from an unknown cause.
$40 bucks, please.

I still had to go for blood tests because I'm diabetic. We must make sure there are no deadly nasties causing them, just confused, post menopausal hormones. This is typical of my medical diagnoses through the years: I either have 6 months to live, or I have to change my dryer sheets. There's never anything in between.

Well, I start my first day back in the office tomorrow, after which I go to speak with my mouthpiece. Wish me luck.

Next time the entry will be more “food for thought” than “OMG! OMG!” least, I hope so.