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.