I have been doing a lot of thinking recently about our world and what is happening in all areas. It began when we were driving through Arizona in search of a home. Crossing from California into Arizona, I became immediately conscious of how each and every mountain is named. Each mountain was sacred to our American Indians in the great Southwest. Each mountain, with its amazing columns that seem to rise up out of the earth as if a huge glacier suddenly burst forth, and when it was done, not only did the huge columns stay standing all of these centuries upon centuries, but solid boulders were mysteriously left sitting atop these columns somehow, perhaps placed there by the Gods. And even though some hang out over the road, they still do not fall.
It is not difficult to understand what made the earth seem so sacred. People took the time to thank the earth for the richness it gave to them. They understood their relationship with the universe and how it had incredibly come together to support a wide variety of life forms: plants, creatures, and human beings in every color, every belief system and every direction of what we know as earth. There was plenty for all. Even today, man with all his misunderstandings of what we have been gifted, comes to look and to experience. Without knowing it, he is experiencing what the ancients knew, and people continue to come despite any obstacles. It seems surreal, as if we have stepped somehow into another universe.
I thought about how we have all taken so much for granted, and become so involved in trying to live that we really don’t know a lot today about what is happening. What can we believe amidst the many forms of communications coming like unwanted missiles from so many directions. The governments of countries are shaping our beliefs about staying healthy, and more importantly about how much power they have to form the most basic beliefs we have about everything we have held near and dear over the centuries.
The viral isolation today has changed society throughout the world once again. We are more and more believing that the government is helping all of us through these times. Political parties are willing to fight to do whatever it takes to gain power, not for us, but for their own causes. The government is no longer about Of the People, For the People or By the People. But our people have forgotten so much, and the schools at all levels are decreasing our knowledge in reading, writing, arithmetic, and especially history.
Overall, today, I have thought about this beautiful universe and earth we have been given and what is going to happen to it and the people who have been given the responsibility of keeping it healthy so that it can continue to give its best to all of us. And then I thought about something I read once in the Bible. Blessed are the meek and the poor, for they shall inherit the earth. The ancients always had it right.
Looking at my posts, I realize that I have been neglecting to post to my own blog or to others. Then I look at what is going on in my life. My tiniest dog, a rescue who had a really horrible life before I found and brought him home. He had to have a major surgery to remove 12 of his teeth and 4 fistulas (holes in the mouth from teeth he has already had). Even there, he is not done, for he is a senior fellow, and he needs more oral surgery but our financial well is running dry. He also has kidney failure, likely from the teeth that were bad before we found and rescued him. I know he belonged to a drug person before, and there is no way that person is ever getting him back. So Mama (as I consider myself to my five chihuas and one cat and two goldfish) is cooking healthy food for the kiddos.
Then there is the man of my life, Richard, my significant other, who has had two cervical surgeries, and both have more or less failed, so the doctor was talking more surgeries, but I am taking him someplace else for another opinion of what can be done to help him. We will likely go to the VA since he is a vet, and he does have an attorney for a VA disability as well as being caused by his work since getting out. Anyway, I can only do so much to help each of my beloved ones.
I had a sore spot on the other previously non-cancerous breast, so I got a ultrasound, and now my doc is calling me as I think they want me to have a biopsy and it does show something irregular.
Now we are getting (or trying to get) a home on our own land – nothing expensive or fancy, but just comfortable, in Arizona. So looking at all the homes and telling the hubster all about them and getting hopes up for us both. And then I am starting to pack up things we don’t need, and I am redoing my file cabinet and also some nice chairs that I got for free that need work.
But at the end of each day, I stop and thank the Gods and spirits all for all the inspiration I encounter every single day in posts and the friendships I have built over the years. And especially to tell everyone I love how much they are loved. I don’t think the animals understand my words, but they definitely understand the things I do for them and the tones I use to talk to them. I never go to sleep no matter how tired I am until I tell everyone (pets and hubster) how much they are loved and give them all kisses. Life moves back too fast sometimes, and it is good to slow down and remember all the wonderful things we have learned in this life, the people we have loved, and to be sure to tell them all while we still can. I think of all the people who did hurt me, some very seriously physically and mentally, but I would not have the heart for others if I could not thank them at least in my soul for making me the person I am today. I have long believed we cannot really know compassion for others unless we have been through some life challenges, each one of us.
Today I went out in my side yard and I was so surprised and happy to see the whole yard full of beautiful wild violets blooming happily from the rain we have had. These are going with me along with the wild mint in my yard when we get moved. As I am looking around at this tiny and m0dest mobile home, I remember all the things I have put into it to make it a genuine home.
I have lived a very full life, and I want each and every one of you how much you have contributed to my life. I truly feel wealthy in a way that no gold or silver can ever buy. Consider that you each have received genuine thanks and love from me always. Thank you my friends.
I’m thinking of those old hangover memories from many long years ago when people still consumed fruitcakes, largely homemade and a gift signifying abundance for everyone who receives it. And when I read the book, A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote, it increased my love of the tasty treat.
So for several years now, I have adopted the philosophy that fruitcake is indeed a sacred treat and must be treated as such. Therefore, it is a treat that requires special ingredients and the timing must be well-thought-out to have it ready at just the right time. When you make a fruitcake, you cannot just throw the ingredients together. You must go out and gather the ingredients in the most meaningful ways you can, and you also should not be afraid to experiment with the ingredients. And in the end result, your fruitcake needs to be like a cake and not a bowl of soup.
Here is a recipe for one of the special fruitcakes I have made for this special time. It is from my book, Pumpkin, Pumpkin: Folklore, History, Growing Hints and Good Eating, 3rd Edition. The book actually contains a whole lot more than what the title implies, but it could have filled up the cover with the title, so I have kept it shorter intentionally.
1 c. canned pumpkin; 4 c. all-purpose flour; 1 c. buttermilk; 4 eggs; 1 c. brown sugar OR 1/2 c. brown sugar & 1/2 c. molasses; zest of one lemon and one orange; liquor of choice for soaking fruit
Juice of 1 lemon and 1 orange; Enough rum, brandy or liquor of choice mixed with juice of the lemon and orange, to cover the fruit; 1 1/2 c. pecans or walnuts (I like the whole halves or 1/4ths, but you might want to chop yours up more except for some halves for the top); 4 c. mixed dried fruit (dried apples, apricots, pineapple, cranberries, raisins, figs, dates or any combination you like); 1 tsp. baking powder; 1/2 tsp. baking soda; 1 tsp. ea. cinnamon, allspice, ginger (I add other spices as they occur to me by my choice – the recipe will not fail if you do not use others); salt (salt is very personal and will not make a difference whether you use it or not; if you have ever experimented with salt, you will know how this works).
Put all dried fruit into a bowl and cover it with a mixture of orange juice and rum or brandy, etc. to your taste. You need enough of the liquor to cover the fruit. Soak for at least 24 hours. I always add the liquor to what feels right to me personally. Remember that you are going to keep this cake in a tin until nearly Christmas (if you can do that), so you can add more along the way to make it better.
Preheat oven to 350o. To make the cake, mix all dry ingredients, and then add the pumpkin, eggs, and buttermilk. When mixture is consistently blended, pour in the rum soaked fruits.
Bake about 60 minutes, or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. This cake can sit out, covered in a lidded tin container, and it will just keep getting better.
For me, the making of the fruitcake comes from the line in the book uttered by one of his beloved relatives, “It’s fruitcake weather.” It is how I love to celebrate my autumn. I hope you will find some good ways to celebrate yours as well.
We really don't know a specific hour or date, but suddenly we know it is the time. It is the witching hour when all the goddesses of old come out to dance beneath and around the moon. The moon, pregnant with the bounty of harvest time, Welcomes us to share in the joy Knowing that all our tribe Will not know hunger through the winter months And so we dance once again Not knowing what the next harvest season will bring, But knowing we are in the here and now. And so we dance once again.
In this world, we tend to see things according to what we are taught, or by things we think we know because we have seen them with our eyes. But our senses are not always giving us the whole picture, or the correct picture. A lot of times we are afraid as adults of many things that don’t make any sense at all. We are afraid of others we do not know, especially if they are not the same color as we are, or they don’t speak the same language. We fail to see that they are human beings just as we are, and with the same fears and dreams and hopes, the basically same ways of relating to the earth that we do, or perhaps different, but they are still human beings as we are.
We all arrived on this earth by some factor beyond any of us. Whether it was God or Gods or some ancient power we may not understand in this lifetime, we all arrived here. That means that we are all meant to be here, and each of the cultures has its own area where it has chosen to live. We fight over property perhaps because it is rich in resources that we think we need. We don’t try to invent new technologies or new products that don’t require those resources. Instead, different cultures in the world attempt to show how powerful they are and how they can destroy any other cultures in the world. But is it altogether possible that without these other cultures, the aggressor culture will not survive for long? Is it possible that each culture helps to create a balance in nature by caring for a different part of the earth? Is it possible that even the very air we breathe is affected by the different cultures and helps to create another balance that is critical to all those who live on this earth?
We fight over the earth’s properties and resources instead of working together to get to other planets to discover what resources might be available there. Are we even intended to go to other planets, or is it our responsibility to learn how to live together on this one first? Is it possible that there are cultures living on the others also trying to learn how to live together? It is so strange because there is so much uninhabited land here on earth that could well be considered and perhaps utilized for living. And there are ample resources available to feed all the people on this plane if we all worked together.
Perhaps indeed, we are not so afraid of the darkness as we are of the light.
As most of us prepare for the Fourth of July, with its fireworks, barbecues and picnics, vacations, and joyful gatherings with friends and loved ones, perhaps we should take a few moments to set forth some prayers for those who have not yet fully gained or even partially gained their freedom throughout the world.
Frederick Douglass had it right when he delivered a famous speech on July 5, 1852, in Corinthian Hall, Rochester, New York, addressing the Rochester Ladies’ Anti-Slavery Society. The speech, “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?” In the speech, he brought out the contradictions to a celebration of liberty, citizenship, and freedom as an offense to the black slaves, who had none of those things. The Fourth of July was supposed to be directed to ALL citizens of the United States.
The times have changed, but the inequality has grown out of proportion. Today, as we prepare for the Fourth of July, let us offer a prayer for those living under modern slavery, which encompasses more than some nearly 30,000,000,000 enslaved people (as of 2013) – adults, children and babies alike – no longer black slaves alone, but all colors, races, political, religious or spiritual or other beliefs – in every manner of slavery imaginable. The highest number of enslaved people is in Asia, but the United States has a huge number as well. No matter where these human beings are located or how many of them there are, we cannot blindly celebrate without remembering those who are not as fortunate as we are.
“Oh Lord, thank you for this freedom that you have bestowed upon me and those I love. I know how precious it is when I see how many people in this world are suffering every day because they have no hope. I have difficulty understanding this inequality, and I honestly don’t know what I can do to help except to offer this small and perhaps inadequate prayer. But what my soul cries out is WHY? Why must innocent people suffer in this manner when you have provided enough for all of us? I have no answers, Lord. I want to believe that there is some power in this world that is good and that can nourish and care for people who have done nothing to deserve what they are suffering. Thank you.”
In the early 70’s, my brother returned from Vietnam. He is five years younger than me, and he was a young kid when he left to be in the Air Force as a Demolition Expert. He spent most of his service time out near the end of the runways, where the planes would come in, sometimes with bombs they did not drop, and one of his jobs was to neutralize and unload them until they were needed again.
When we had the first family reunion after he returned, I could hardly recognize him. He is now considered 100% disabled, though when he returned he was considered 40%. He had a TBI and had multiple surgeries to try to put in a plate, but none of them worked and they made him pass out repeatedly. He also had a spinal surgery that was blotched and so he could not walk well at all, and spent a lot of time sleeping because of pain. And then he had PTSD like so many others, his from having to shoot tiny children who came onto the runway, wired with bombs. It is difficult to imagine how people become so brainwashed or terrorized that they could ever harm their own children and babies.
Seeing him again like that when he had still been a big kid in his mind and spirit when he left, full of mischief and the joy of being young was almost too much. It gave me a heart to work with physically, developmentally and emotionally challenged children and adults, something I have done for the rest of my life.
I first began to work with special needs children in the Torrance and Redondo Beach school districts in California as a substitute, and I worked every single day and absolutely loved it. Many if not most of my children were preschoolers, kinders and middle school aged then, and had multiple challenges. I did this work throughout Southern California for more than 15 years, always as a substitute Paraeducator, Aide, or Teacher (uncertified). I think over the many years, I learned more from my children than they did from me, though I was always an innovator with the ways I did things.
I do not believe that special needs children who are likely to end up living at home or in a group home or other special facility need to be tormented by having them do repetitive work unless they really show an inclination to like that, and yes, some of them are very good and very happy and excellent workers doing repetitive work. My belief is that every child should be given an opportunity to do something that makes them happy, even if it is making beaded necklaces or weaving or whatever else they enjoy.
The book above is the cover of a book by Barbara Williamson and me. Her name, though not on the front of the book, is on the back with the other authors. Besides telling her own story, she made major contributions in the way of decision making and adding creative input through the journey of the creation of the book. Just ahead of the time I was working as a substitute, I decided to start a nonprofit to assist physically challenged fiber artists (art quilters, though many of them work in many mediums besides quilts). Because I too was involved with art quilting, I realized how difficult and expensive it was for them to enter juried shows, often to not get accepted after paying an entry fee that most could little afford. So I wanted to find venues that gave them a lot of excellent exposure and at the same time wanted to teach them professional development. Barbara Williamson and I became excellent friends and she became the Secretary of the nonprofit. We ran it successfully with just her caregiver, Rob as our treasurer, and no money in the kitty, which made running the nonprofit very simple.
The first exhibit we ran was called My World in Black and White, and we had s121 participants from various countries and the United States. The exhibit had some 10 live venues in one year (what we call traveling venues) and the exhibit museums, galleries and quilt shows were only too glad to help us send all the quilts as a group show for free. I only had to get the quilts to the first venue, and from then on, everything went from one venue to the next seamlessly. At the end of the last venue, the quilts were returned to me and I was able to ship them all back home to the ladies. If the venue was local, I was there to help hang the quilts and take care of other chores and greet the visitors as needed.
We ran the nonprofit for some ten more years, with back to back exhibits the entire time, and we did a lot of things besides that, helping after provide school projects and materials for the children of migrant workers, providing donated used sewing machines for other ladies who could not afford to get one on their own, donating quilting materials to the American Indian ladies on Pine Ridge and other things. During this time, Barbara grew her own art and developed her fiber arts as a profession. She is successful in everything she does now even though she is confined to a wheelchair.
We have changed our focus now as we are both older. Barbara lived in Paradise, CA, where the entire town burned down November 2018, causing her to lose basically everything. She has started life all over again and is busy settling into another home in a different city and working on her continuing career. As for me, I am studying a fantastic correspondence and event class called The Silent Eye Mystery School led by Steve Tanham, Sue Vincent and Stuart France. I still tutor special needs children and adults as well as ESL adults, and I will likely be a volunteer in some capacity the remainder of my life. I am currently a volunteer court-appointed volunteer advocate for CASA (a nonprofit located through the U.S.) for foster children. So life is never dull and when not doing these things I am working on more books and caregiving for my significant other, Richard, taking care of my garden and our six chihuahuas, a cat, two huge goldfish and two alien catfish. I am 77 now and intend to stay busy for whatever time is left. Although I have very little in the way of material goods, I have been immensely rich in life experiences and lifelong friends, and for that I am eternally grateful.
Today after a doctor’s visit, I was sitting out on a little circular border surrounding a large tree. It was just about the right height for a bench so I sat on the concrete flat area that seemed made to sit on. Inside that was a ring of rocks. To look at them at first, they were all about the same size and most were round and there was a bit of change in color. I picked up one and began to study it carefully. This one seemed to have one end cut or broken off, and it revealed a much darker and varied , somewhat smooth surface, as if I were looking into it. Down one side of that top area, extended a crack that seemed as if another part of it might split off. And crossing that seemed to be attempts to cut it with a sharp object diagonally.
Something drew me to pick up other rocks in that circle and to look at them. I guess sometimes it seems that, for example, perhaps all grains or sand, or in this case, all rocks in a group are similar in size, shape, color and texture. But in this case, the more I examined the rocks, I saw how distinctly different each one was. And I began to think about how each rock might have formed and what must have transpired to make it so different from all the rest. In my mind were so many questions coming forth, seemingly spilling out like a dam that was overflowing. How could it be that stones that likely all came from the same source/location could all be so different in texture, colors, shapes and sizes. Where was this magical place and what other surprises did it hold?
As I was pondering all these wonderful mysteries, my Lyft showed up and honked for me. I grabbed the one rock with the top seemingly cut from it and put it carefully into my pocket. I wanted to look at it once again at home and I wanted to ask it questions. One thing I learned today was that we should never even take a tiny grain of sand for granted. There is mystery and magic everywhere in this world.
I have been transforming my relationship with God or The One over the past year, and I have given this beautiful statement from Richard Rohr a lot of thought for its truth. I have become aware of how everything in the universe is sacred and it was provided for us to give us everything we could need or want for nourishment, for thirst, and for protection from the elements if we but make it our purpose to look for it and use it wisely. I have become aware of how there are many, many forms of humankind on this earth, and we were put here so that we could all learn how to get along, and to help this good earth to continue to survive.
I love this little piece of writing because it rings true for us all, and offers us a way to what spirituality or religion is intended to be. These days when I have to end the life of a bug or I cut a rose, or perhaps fail to appreciate so-called weeds of the earth, I stop myself and think about it, and suddenly I can see the beauty that surrounds us in its many forms. We have derived words that devalue even the nature of creatures and plants that were put on this earth for a reason.
Now I spend time each day meditating on all of these things and so much more that is related to my relationship with God and with the universe. Things look different for I am changed too.
Oh God, I come to you this day, my head bowed in sorrow. You created this magnificent world. And look what we have done to it and to you. Today, we celebrate Memorial Day to honor the soldiers who died fighting, each side with their own belief systems, somehow mistakenly believing that they were fighting for what was right. We fight each other believing that we are fighting for freedom, but as long as we continue to fight, we will never be free. When we think of the day of Memory, we need to remember not only soldiers who gave their lives, but for the millions of everyday citizens of countries who died, and especially the children, because the children are the future. The children are not old enough to understand the meaning of war. And yet they too lost their lives, or suffered physical and emotional damage that will follow them all the days ahead. You gave us this abundant world, God, with enough food and resources to feed each person on this earth, and yet so many are going without food or warmth, or thirsting because we have failed in our ability to nurture the world instead of fighting to gain control over it. Oh God, I pray to give us wisdom, and most of all, God, help us to learn compassion for all the others in this world and to see them as we see our own selves. We are all sacred because we are in you as you are in us. This I pray in your Memory.