Thursday, December 19, 2013

Jingle Junk


What a month! It's been a wild ride around here for the last four weeks.
On the 30th, I hosted a party for the nephew's 40th birthday (his mom insisted on paying for food, so I did have help financially. Plus, my oldest sister brought shrimp and deviled eggs. Love those.) It was a nice gathering, with everyone enjoying the food we did not have to cook! (I like the word “catered”.)

Below is the birthday boy, using Rufus to attack his friend Erica.

It gave me an opportunity to see Guy, my brother-in-law, who is battling Pancreatic Cancer. I think he looks good!

Beyond the party, I had a lot of medical concerns: stitches in my toe, Cancer surgery on my face, a Breast Cancer scare, then Claude (my anam cara) had her back surgery. Once home from hospital and re-hab, she had a recurrence of her congestive heart failure and ended up back in hospital. Thankfully, everything is now under control and she is home, being tended by 2 sets of nurses and a physical therapist.

I was so exhausted from worry, stress, lack of rest, etc. that I fell asleep on the sofa edge and tumbled off, into the coffee table. Now the left side of my face will match the Cancer scar on the right side of my face. My glasses are a piece of modern art, my knees feel like they landed on cactus, I have a knot on my forehead...but it could have been worse.

There has been so much disharmony and hardship in 2013 that I am pleased we will soon be waving it a fond “bye-bye”.

I also wanted to do something beyond my usual to settle down the energies in my home. I decided to get a spirit house.

Spirit houses can be large and elaborate affairs, set outside a premises like an intricate playhouse. They can also be small, of modest wood design or painted and tiled. Their purpose is much the same as the altars in ancient Rome, set up to honor the Lares. It provides a place where the household energies can dwell, undisturbed.

The idea of household gods/goddesses/spirits seem to have been global at one point, and survives in various folk forms to this day. This is the spirit house I purchased, and placed near the inside entrance of my home.

It is traditional to place offerings for the spirits. Rather than food or wine, I decided to use seven appropriate crystals and stones:


This stone brings out the best in people. It protects against misfortune. It reduces anti-social, and reckless behavior. It also calms overactive minds.


This is my favorite stone. It is known for counter-acting drunkenness, but it does so much more. It balances emotions and allows the rational side of our personalities to arise.


I think this stone is greatly under-utilized. It's a stone of love, peace and wisdom. It aids you in staying level headed, and helps you stay calm during stressful times and situations.


I just started working with this stone. It can actually take all the negativity in a room, and turn it into Universal love and light. Hematoid is quartz shot with hematite, which gives you quartz clarity along with hematite stability. It's great for grounding.



This sparking purple stone promotes restful sleep, removes stress, wards against outside influences (no problems can walk through your front door!), and even brings luck!

Rose Quartz:

Rose quartz has been known as an emotional rescue stone. When placed with Lepidolite, it also generates love.

And finally...

Clear Crystal:

A nice crystal point acts like a battery to give an extra boost to the combination of the other stones.

Peace, rest, love, harmony and luck. What better for the holidays?

In Sherlock news.....

All the pacing in circles is almost over. We have 4 weeks until Sherlock Season 3, which should be the most fascinating of all (if this teaser is any indication):

The Great Detective returns to the US on PBS Sunday, January19th, at 9pm.

Finally, a joyous Yule and a happy holiday season from the Rufus and me!


Peace, Joy, and a fruitcake free celebration!


Friday, November 22, 2013


It was a Friday. I clearly remember sitting in art class with Mrs. Brown. We were making palm turkeys for Thanksgiving the following week. My seat was near the windows. As I worked away happily with my Fall colored crayons, the sun streamed in on my desk, and the shadow of falling leaves made gray, moving patterns across my paper.

A voice came over the PA system; it was Sister Immaculata. The President had been hurt while in a motorcade in Dallas. Everyone needed to stop and say a prayer.

I had no idea where Dallas was. It sounded like another country. I knew Jackie Kennedy had been to Delhi. Maybe it was somewhere like that. Then we were told it was in Texas. I knew about Texas, but it may as well have been the dark side of the moon. Regardless, my father had just gotten hurt, working at his garage, and HE ended up alright. Surely the President had enough Secret Service men to see to it that he wasn't too badly off....

But then the voice cam back again, only a short time later. The President was dead. We were being sent home. We got in our lines for bus and parent pick-up. (I was in line 3. We met our parents in front of the Hungarian church). Finally, with coats on and half finished palm turkeys in our hands, we made our way out onto the streets.
It was dead silent. We could see our mothers huddled together, in front of their cars, but if they were speaking to each other we couldn”t tell. We saw them stiffen as we approached, and quietly they gathered us into the back seats and left.

I don't remember if my sisters were in the car. The oldest may have been driving by then, and surely we must have picked up my middle sister from the pubic school at some point, but I only recall me and Mom.

What did they tell you?” she asked, cautiously.

The President is dead.”

Not what happened to him?”

No.” I looked at the rear view mirror and caught her eyes. “Why? What happened?”

All I know is that your Father called me from the garage and said, 'They just blew Kennedy's head off'”.

Nothing else was said until we got home. That's when my Mother began to be afraid.

This first, ever, Irish Catholic President was like a family member in every Irish American home. One of our own had made it to the White House, however the means: money, position, connections, or just plain politicking. At 6 years old, I wore all the campaign buttons, had the bumper stickers, and knew the “High Hopes” song by heart. (I still do!) His victory was our victory... and now, somehow, he was dead in a place called Dallas.

My brother was in college in Jersey City. He came home. The six of us huddled in the living room, like millions of other families, listening to the old vanguard of reporters piece together each step of the tragic path. 

When we heard that the President would publicly lie in State in Washington, my brother wanted us all to go. He argued that it was a part of history, something we should all experience, but my mother was terrified. We would be hurt on the road, we would be lost in a storm, we would be targeted for being Irish. She was so unstrung that my brother relented. Again, the TV became our main focus.

Over the next few days, we were wrapped in communal despair, depression, and grief. Flash images appeared before our eyes and stayed with us forever...Caroline's hand slipping under the American flag to touch her father's coffin, little John' salute, a pitch black horse (named Black Jack) with backward boots in the stirrups, refusing to settle down while being led to Arlington.

What dwelled underneath, however, also would last all our lives... the loss of more than a single human existence: the innocence of the New Frontier, the trust that all will be well, the promise that promises come true. We became a jaded Nation on that day, 50 years ago. But, like Pandora's box, something small, and huddled, and bright, remained tucked in the corner of our souls – hope.

We had our Camelot, and it rumbled to dust with the vibration of three shots in a plaza. Yet, having had it once, perhaps – one day – when things are at their bleakest, we may yet see another such as he.

Not long ago, I found our copy of “The Torch Is Passed”. Tucked in the back was a copy of Kennedy's official Presidential portrait, and a half-finished palm turkey. There is still much to do, work to bring to completion, that has it's roots in November 22, 1963.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013


To Dead Wise Women, And Those To Come

Back then,
we did not dignify
that purging:
we remembered.

The words, the pressing,
those most noble beasts
of burden licking entrails
from their own hands,
hanging Wise Ones,
burning timeless, bleeding witches.
And we were blood blazed
and all lost in that warm,
liquid squall of pain.

But survivors, gleaming now
-open -
we rock soft cradles.
We hush their old tongues,
the smell of their chambers,
the echoes of their knives.
We lift mead to lips.
We quiet memories.

But -
past our Circles,
the night air stirs.
Those most noble beasts
flick at moon shadows
with long, steely, bodkins.

They remember.

Katharine Clark
Samhain 2013

Rufus Update: 

Rufus' labs came back, and the results are positive. My poor baby definitely has prostate Cancer. For now, he is on medication to retard tumor growth and relieve inflammation. He also still gets his medicated baths. He seems to be much less itchy, and he is having less accidents and more comfort when using his tray.

The vet says he has about a year, so perhaps we'll see out another Samhain together. In celebration of his life, I present Rufus and his Halloweens. There are two years missing: he was a bumble bee his first year, and last year I just didn't feel well enough for costumes. Otherwise, I think it's obvious which outfits he liked, and those that didn't thrill him:

The Daisy: It was a cute idea, but didn't pull off too well.

The Pumpkin: The look says it all.

We disagreed about the Lobster. I thought it was great. He thought he looked like a geek dressed for a Star Trek convention.

He wanted this costume. He saw the picture and kept pawing it. I gave in. Once in the costume, he discovered that he had no way to pee. His stress was incredible. I actually wrote a story for Broomstix about it, and Robin Ator did the illustration below:

I hated the fish eating the shih tzu look. He, on the other hand, kept smiling.

He also loved his hot dog outfit.  I guess anything was better than the lobster.

Finally, this year, I found not only a costume we both loved, but one in which he actually posed. I present Rufus, the "cock" of the walk.

I really hope he's with me next year. We have an idea that will top even this!

In Sherlock News:

We have a PBS date!!!  Sherlock returns January 19,2014.

Safe and Blessed Samhain, everyone!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

..And Nothing But The Truth...

Why is it so hard for folks to tell the truth?

This was an issue that came up in discussion with a friend last night. It really doesn't matter what prompted it: they were fairly trivial events. However, it served to press that one button of mine marked: “What are you, twelve?”

I asked people, on two different occasions, to simply tell the truth. They were legit requests, but I was as interested in the nature of the responses as I was the answers themselves. Everything would be OK. (In other words, it wouldn't turn into a “confronting mum” moment. We've all had them: “ Did you break your sister's glasses? Just tell me the truth. It will be OK.”

Yes, Mummy, I did.”

What the HELL were you thinking? Do you think money grows on trees? You children have no gratitude, no concept of hard work, or how much it takes to provide..etc.” ...You get it.)

No, this was a simple, “Tell me and I will understand.” One did as requested. With the other, I got crickets. Oh, yeah... there may have been a tumbleweed in the background. I wasn't quite sure.

No one welcomes argument. No one that I know seeks emotional eruptions or a war of barbed, verbal arrows (especially since most of my friends are past menopause). A request for the truth may appear to be an emotional trap, which might illicit one of several reactions:

  • Lie like Hell
  • Take the victim route and try to turn tables
  • Hide in silence (see above crickets/tumbleweeds)
  • Tell the Truth

The Truth is hard. It requires Courage, something we seem to possess in ever diminishing quantity. Yet, as people on a spiritual path, isn't Truth and Honesty – each according to our hearts – aspects of the Wisdom towards which we strive? Is it that hard to drop the mental gymnastics, (Do they really want to know? Am I going to hear about this for the next 6 months? How can I make this go away?), speak your Truth with Compassion, and accept the consequences? Is hiding behind silence the decision of a mature adult, or more akin to a kid ducking behind the bushes when their parent calls them by their full name?


Little white lies, lies to placate others, lies of convenience... who hasn't told these? Hey, I'm not throwing the first stone. But just because it's common doesn't make it right. When someone requests the Truth, we should put honor before evasion.

We all feel betrayed when Washington makes promises, refuses to speak fairly, when “politician” automatically drums up images of snake oil salesmen. We detest the eternal waves of dishonesty and blame-laying. We ask how these people can behave this way.

Look in a mirror. As Pogo says:

Thankfully, other conversations this week weren't quite so weighty. I was demonstrating the singing bowl for a friend, especially in connection with the vibrancy of crystals.

Afterwards, I was contemplating how vibration, frequency, and tonality were so vital in my Wiccan practice. In fact, music has woven itself into the very fabric of my life (and not just ritualistically).

I'm a Wagner fan. I often wonder how I can be, given the man's personal philosophy. I've come to the conclusion that no soul is 100% evil, and his music is the expression of what Light he possessed. As such, I'm amazed how certain of his musical creations can elevate my emotions and my connection to a Higher Good. Chief among these is Tannhäuser, specifically the Pilgrim's Chorus. ( Ah yes, those of you who know me sense where I am heading...yes, Susan, YOU...)

Here is The Pilgrim's Chorus. You obviously don't have to listen to the entire thing; just enough to get the flavor.

This was forever altered, one Saturday morning, when the above indicated SUSAN called me and, in a voice that rang with tense immediacy, said, “Hang up and put on channel 5...NOW!”

I did. That was the moment that changed everything.

That's right – Elmer Fudd. He's serenading Bugs Bunny's “Broo-hilda” using the Pilgrim's Chorus score. Do you know what I think of now, when I hear the Pilgrim's Song? That's right , “Oh, Broohilda, you're so wov-ly...”

Someday I will repay the favor, Susan. Just watch me. I have infinite patience.

And now, Chuck Jones has been incorporated into my spiritual practice.
Just Grand.

Meanwhile... the new issue of Fate Magazine is out, with my “Glastonbury Tale” article. Those of you who signed up for a comp. Copy at Para-X: your names have been passed on to the publisher, and you should get your copies soon.

HOWEVER, here's a cover I like even better!

I've always said there were people I consider “my kids” regardless of their biological origins: Jennifer, Keith William, and - since 2010 - Benedict Cumberbatch. I'm not a swooning fangirl; I always felt totally maternal towards this talented man, who is younger than my other kids. I want him to find the right gal, have the children he wants – be successful (I backed the right horse there) – as any mother would. Then I saw the above cover.

Maybe I need to revisit the “truth” of those maternal instincts because -

holy moly – Mama like...

Have a good week, my poppets!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Much Ado About Ru

Hi, everyone! Let me start off by thanking those of you who stopped by the Para-X last Saturday, and those who were there in spirit. Particularly, I want to thank my assistants Jen, Claude, Keith, and Charlene for doing the lugging, the set-up, and the salesmanship. Claude, you were an excellent lecture assistant. The attendees loved you.

The sales were OK, but the swag bags went like hotcakes. Thanks, Phyllis, for the Fate Magazines. People signed up for their comp copy of the next issue, in which my Glastonbury article appears. Perhaps best of all was the media contact. The Star Ledger did a piece, mostly focused on my artist pal Lauren Curtis and her very long nails.

photo via The Star Ledger
The Sentinel did an article, which included a photo of me lecturing.

Unfortunately, my eyes were closed. I look like The Sleeping Prophet or...dare I say it...Cartman! (Respect my paranormal au-thor-i-tay!).

I was also lucky enough to speak with a gal from Weird New Jersey, who hopes to do an article on the Expo. That would be lovely, as Graven Images Oracle seems like something that would be right up their alley.

Now about the title of this entry.....Rufus is not a well pup. His toilet habits have changed, he is constantly itching and chewing, his skin is pink, he had a bladder infection in the Spring which came from nowhere, etc. They say a mother knows her child, and I know my dog. We took him to his usual vet, who gave him his usual pills. Rufus improved, but never got completely better.
Claude said I should try her new local vet, with whom she was very impressed. So was I. Excellent communication (copies of everything e-mailed to you, phone calls for follow-ups. Wow.), comfortable with the pets, nice staff. Long story short - Rufus is full of yeast, and his bladder has lots of tiny stones.

Initially, we thought he would need surgery, but there is a possibility we can avoid all that with diet change. It all depends on the composition of the stones. So, please, spare a prayer for my little Woobie. Can you say no to this face?

One funny incident came out of all this. The vet called a prescription into the Pharmacy. When I got home I realized the CVS would not connect Rufus Clark with Katharine Clark. I called the pharmacy and checked that they had the order, told them he was my shih tzu, and that they should charge the medicine to my card and deliver it to my house...

Is this his first prescription with us?”
Oh. We can't combine accounts. He has to come fill out his customer information sheet.”
I'm afraid that's not possible,” I said, sadly. “Rufus doesn't have hands.”

There was a pregnant pause.

I'm sooo sorry!” The clerk sounded embarrassed.
Plus he has a tendency to eat pens when he's frustrated. I never could get him to learn cursive, what with his paws..”
Yes!” I kinda shouted. “I didn't say he was my SON, I said he was my SHIH TZU!”
This med is for a”
Did you notice who called in the script?”
Monroe Animal Hospi...”
There's your first clue, dear.”

Word must have gotten around the pharmacy because, when I called to check on the status this morning, the nice male clerk on the phone said, “Script for Rufus? Oh's here alright!”

Oh yeah. I'm sure it is.

On the Sherlockian front, I saw this picture on a Tumblr site:

Look closely. The bag he's carrying says, “Take photos with Sherlock Holmes for any donation, and help save Undershaw – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's historic home.”

I like to remind fans, from time to time, that the home was saved from being converted into condos, but it is a long way away from being restored.

This is the house that Doyle built, and where he wrote Hound of the Baskervilles. There is an organization dedicated to saving Undershaw, and they have a great website: Learn about the place. See pictures of how it now looks. Think how it can be again. They even have a shop were all kinds of things can be purchased, or you can just pledge.

This bloke is willing to don a deerstalker and Inverness cape, stand in the rain, and be photographed with strange tourists for the cause. Surely we can spend a few quid on a book or a mug in the name of fandom and history!

Take care, everyone. Be careful – it's Samhain season. Updates on Rufus next week.