Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Post Spooky!

I'm late getting this up as I've been off having lovely holiday adventures - lots of photos for this month's spooky theme! But first, down to business. If you'd like to participate on your blog in my annual October's Post Spooky, it's easy. Just follow the simple steps below:

1. Pledge to Post Spooky all month long. This doesn't mean you have to post every day, just that every post you put up in the month of October has to have some sort of "spooky" element. It can be fun, silly, scary, interesting, real, fantasy, or just generally autumny. It's your call. If you have other, non-spooky news to share, just add a spooky twist to it or something spooky to the end of your post, a "P.S." (Post. Spooky.) Mwahahahahaha!

2. Add the fun button shown above to your sidebar linking back to this post so that other people can join in the fun and can find the other Post Spooky participants that will be listed and linked all October long in my sidebar under the button.

3. Once you've added the button, let me know so I can add your name to the participant list.

That's it!

I'll be Posting Spooky both here and over on Laume's Studio through October and into the first week of November to include Dia de Los Muertos celebrants.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Bad Faery Day after Sunset

I need to finish up the Faerieworld photos.

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We left off as the day was winding down. Aren't these three fae adorable?

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And then the faery raised her golden wings and...

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... pulled a beautiful sunset out of the horizon.

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Lights twinkled beneath the casbah tea tent. Faeries gathered for a bit of food and refreshment.

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I had this magical vegan pumpkin spice cupcake appear before me. And gobbled it up. I actually gobbled up many cupcakes before the weekend was over, but this first one was the absolute best - I'd been waiting all year for it.

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Then it was time for more music. The band Faun, all the way from Germany, played incredible folk/rock interpretation of ancient songs.

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Faun's lead singer - quite a few ladies were... smitten. I expected the band to be sort of dark and gothy, but they were in fact wonderfully personable and great with the crowd!

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Faeries big and small felt the call of the music and danced deep into the night.

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Some danced with light.

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And some even danced with fire.

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After the music, the evening carried on with storytelling of ancient truths.

Finally tired faeries wandered back to their snug tents, homes, or hotel rooms. One more day's photos left to share with you.

October Reads

I like to fill every October with reading choices appropriate for the season - spooky, gothic, Halloween themed, a little scary, filled with witches or monsters. Of course I'll admit that, on the surface, this doesn't appear much different than the themes I select in... say June or February. But I know what I'm looking for, something just a bit MORE these things. I'm planning ahead this year, to make sure I have all the books I'd like to read at my finger tips.

Dracula by Bram Stoker. Last year I read Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. So this year I thought I'd try another gothic classic. I was surprised to find that I don't have this on my shelf, but it's available at the local library.

Collected works of Edgar Allen Poe. I have several collections of Poe's work and although I've read some in the past, the long ago past, I thought I'd give it a go through one whole book.

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. Yes, I just finished this book. But I love it so much, I want to read it again.

The Divine Circle of Ladies Making Mischief by Delores Stewart Riccio. When I typed "Halloween" into Amazon's search box, this book came up. Works out perfectly as it's a series I've been working my way through already. I've read the first three books and this is the fourth - perfect! I'm off to order it from our inter-library loan program today.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith. This book has been getting a lot of good reviews lately. The only problem is I haven't read the original yet, which means I would probably lose a lot of the inside humor. So, I might read this one if I can read Pride and Prejudice first, but honestly, I probably won't be able to manage it this year.

Vulnerable: The First Book of the Little Goddess Series by Amy Lane. This book came up on an Amazon Listmania list and I'd already had a casual interest in it. I'm even more intrigued now because I just noticed it takes place in northern California. I always like to read books where I'm familiar with the location. Unfortunately this book, and the next one on my list, are expensive and not available through my library ILL. So I'll have to just keep my eyes open for this one.

High Spirits by Dianne K. Salerni Found this title in the same list as the book above and it just looked like a fun read. Got good reviews too. But also like the above book, only available at a high price. So, I'll watch for it.

I also think I want to read a book about the history of gravestones. I thought I had one in the house but if so, I can't think now where I would have put it, I haven't seen it around in any of the logical places. I remember the store where I originally found the book, maybe I just THINK I bought it. Hmmmm. So, I'm off to do a more thorough search before I consider ordering a copy, and then it's off to the library. And the supermarket.

Each year, as I read the most obvious choices, it gets tougher to find new selections. What are you planning to read this October? Any good suggestions for me?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

On to the Next Holiday!

I hope you all had a lovely Mabon, Autumnal Equinox. I did. Poor Hubby did, until a migraine laid him low. But I had a lovely walk, a lovely meal out with Hubby, I finished putting up my peaches, listened to some lovely music, and had a lovely chat with one of my sons. I also figured out how to make a pumpkin spice latte at home - not too hard at all and yummy for a fraction of the cost and calories of the storebought version.

But now that the sun has set on this holiday, it's on to the next. I had so much fun at last year's fete that I can't miss out on Vanessa of A Fanciful Twist's boooo-tiful, magical, witchy, blogger's Halloween Party this year. If you're not familiar with her blog, make sure you flutter on over and treat yourself to her special brand of fantasy.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Folk Music

Yesterday the world lost Mary Travers, of the folk trio Peter, Paul and Mary. Some of my earliest musical memories are of the folk music my mother played when I was young. There's an irony in that now as she is now long detached from the political and social issues that was the nest from which the heart and words of folk music was nutured from and took flight.

But it settled somewhere in my soul as even now, many decades later, the earliest songs still can move me to anger and tears and joy.

It perhaps set the course for much of my musical selection forever after that. I was never one to mostly listen to music of love songs or pop silliness. Instead I wove my way up through John Denver, Crosby Stills Nash & Young, Joni Mitchell, John McCutcheon, Pete Seeger, world music, Cat Stevens, and now Green Day and Steve Earle. Music that has something to say about more than just who broke who's heart.

Of course folk music isn't all about the world outside us, some of it is about what's inside us. I'll leave you with this video of a song that I sung as a child and to which William fell asleep to each night for several years in his childhood. It's a dated video, and doesn't highlight Mary as much as the entire trio, but I chose to share it because it focuses as much on how it affects the people listening (and singing along) as the singers themselves.

Thank you Mary, for the beautiful, the meaningful, the magical music.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Totally Tea Totalling

A Proper Tea is much nicer than a Very Nearly Tea, which is one you forget about afterwards. ~A.A. Milne

Don't think I ever showed you the tea set I bought this summer. On sale. The tea pot and the four cups. I also bought the big red tea cup on the right. And the two plates beneath the red saucer match the four cups in the set. This set calls for something light and Asian. Maybe a nice white tea or a jasmine.

I broke (well, someone ELSE broke) my basic white tea pot last week. So I ordered a new one. And while I was at it I found this tea pot and ordered it too. It arrived today! In this adorable matching box. I'll be having some of the new supply of Pumpkin Spice tea I laid in recently in it tonight.

I've been having a proper tea most cool nights recently. A tea pot. Loose tea. A different cup each time. Something sweet perhaps on the side. Which inspired me to attempt the making of my very first tea cozy. Photos of it up on Laume's Studio today.

I haven't read a Terry Pratchett in ages. So I rummaged through his many titles that I have on my bookshef to find one that I haven't read yet. I've lost count and I've read them out of order, it took me three starts to find one that didn't suddenly become familiar about three pages in. I ended up reading, for the first time, Carpe Jugulum. Which, it turns out, was the perfect read. It's about my favorite characters, the witches, specifically my favorite character, Granny Weatherwax. And it was about vampires. And it was about .... well, it wasn't about, but Terry Pratchett being an Englishmen, had many lovely references to tea. A small sip of dialogue -

"Do we have any tea?" he said.
"What is tea?" said the Countess.
"It... grows on a bush, I think," said the Count.
"How do you bite it, then?"
"You... er... lower it into boiling water, don't you?" The Count shook his head, trying to free himself of this demonic urge.
"While it's still alive?" said Lacrimosa, brightening up.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Millions of Peaches, Peaches for Me

Millions of Peaches.... Joshua used to have this album and played it all the time. We had a big ol' ancient peach tree in the side yard and the kitchen would fill with peach steam and peach juice and peach pits and peach peels and ...... putting up peaches every fall. Joshua and Sam loved to sing this song to me to accompany the annual peach putting up week.

That peach tree is gone now, old age took it. Of course Joshua is gone. No more little kids under foot. Sam is off creating little footers of his own.

Several years ago I bought a new peach tree and Hubby decided to plant it for me, next to the front door. I know, totally wrong place for a peach tree. But there it is and now it's a member of the family and there it stays.

This year there are literally millions of peaches on it. Well, okay, maybe not MILLIONS (maybe just 70,000 or so - political joke there - ha!) but TOO MANY PEACHES. I should have stripped more as they grew, three branches ultimately broke under the weight of them. I've learned a lesson. Apologized to the tree. And when this peach harvest is over, major pruning will happen and hopefully it will be a stronger, sturdier little tree because of it.

But first, I have to do something with all these peaches. And the time is NOW. The time is quickly going to be PAST now. Must. Deal. With. Peaches.

Uhm, yeah. That pretty much sums up how I feel about that. Since there's no longer younguns under foot in the kitchen to annoy and entertain me in equal measures. Sort of takes away the fun of it all.

I'll just have to rally. And sing it myself.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Is It Too Early for Halloween?

Of course not, it's never too early. Halloween 365 days a year, that sounds good to me. Well, maybe take off a few weeks to squeeze the other holidays in. But now that summer is slipping into fall, I'm totally ready for the annual decorating frenzy.

My mom sent me this pretty autumn fairy a while back and she's been dangling from a piece of driftwood in my living room ever since.

Traditions often are created without intention, like the miniature gravestones that I've bought, a few each year,until they've turned the entertainment center into a sprawling cemetery each October. I found this new one at the Dollar Tree and just stuck it right up there until I unbox the rest of them. Great idea, huh. (lightbulb, great idea, get it? The lightbulb was just sitting there so I thought... never mind.)

I've been calling him Bob, in honor of Jim Butcher's skull companion. He's quite realistic looking and seems at home atop a stack of books. (like the real Bob would).

Can't do any serious decorating yet until I get the summer flotsam and jetsam cleaned up. Do you have any Halloween decorations out yet? Or am I just odd that way? ..... maybe don't answer that last question.

Sunday, September 13, 2009


Hubby renewed his membership in the Sierra Club and they offered incentives. He chose this FOUR pack of reusable shopping bags. Look at how tiny they are, they all fit into this little pouch that fits in my hand and stores handily in my car or even my purse if I wanted them there. (Don't you love the little face in the photo looking up and ready for whatever I'm planning?)

And here they are all filled with groceries in the back of my car. They're incredibly roomy. I have some of those that you see in stores, made out of a fibrous cloth "plastic" and they stand up a bit better for filling, but the cashier and bag girl were all gaga over these new ones, just like me. These are made out of a sturdy nylon, like a windbreaker. And most important of course, they're such purty colors!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

What's for Dinner?

Anyone who knows me knows I spend a lot of time thinking about food. I grow it, put it up, prepare it, shop for it, and eat it. Usually, but not always, with a lot of thought behind it. I pretty much know how I feel about food, both on a personal and a global level, but it's not something that I can sum up in just one word. It's both more complicated than that, and in my mind, it's not complicated at all. Unless I need to explain it to someone else.

It would be lovely if I could just say "I'm a *insert eating style of your choice*" and be done with it. But I can't. I do, sometimes, just to save myself the trouble of explaining the details. I'll say "I'm a vegetarian." or "I don't do dairy." or some other comment, and those things are at the same time true and not true.

"I'm a vegetarian." Mostly. But I do eat fish. And sometimes chicken because when I'm out and about the chicken item on the menu might be the healthiest choice offered even if I'd choose a nonchicken item if there was one that wasn't deep fried or covered in cheese or.... I used to be a vegetarian, long ago in my twenties. I let it go when family grew. But even in our least vegetarian years, our family rarely bought or ate much red meats and had vegetarian entrees more nights than naught.

"I'm a vegan." My recent efforts to clean up my diet and lifestyle has had me realizing how much of a dairy allergy I truly have. I stopped eating it because I didn't like how much it caused me to cough and get stuffy sinuses. But I can tolerate and do eat some. Nonfat yogurt in moderation doesn't seem to cause any symptoms. Feta cheese is apparently from goats and is a treat on salads from time to time. I stopped eating egg yolks and then eggs altogether because of the cholesterol (although I'm not convinced it really is a problem) but now I'm avoiding them more because it bothers me to think of the conditions under which chickens are kept in the egg laying industry. If I could get them from a neighbor who's chickens cluck about in the back yard, I'd buy them again. Still, I don't sweat the occasional egg I know is in baked goods.

"I'm a locavore." A locavore is someone who considers the geographic location of their food sources. They try to buy "local". And you can't get more local then growing your own food, which I do as much as I can in the local short and erratic growing season and my own small growing space. Living here between the mountains and high desert chapparral, true local eating would require a lot of venision and free range beef. So, yeah, that's a problem. If I widen my perimeter a bit, I can try to buy California fruits and vegetables instead of ones from South America, I can buy my coffee from northern California roasters instead of chain brand. But I also take into consideration things like the social ethics of the company and sometimes I have to factor in the price.

And then there's the Slow Food Movement, which asks us to consider not just what we eat but how we eat. They eschew fast food, fast life in favor of slowing down and enjoying the process of eating from shopping cart to dinner plate. I was exposed to this concept long before it became a named movement, first at my grandmother's table and later when I read (yes, READ) my treasured first edition copy of Laurel's Kitchen cookbook.

All the proponents of these different food movements and choices do overlap of course. But many people seem to stand solidly in the middle of at least one of them. I do not. Vegetarianism appeals to me but I also love the history and, let's be honest here, taste of farm animals. I'm old enough and lucky enough to have grown up remembering family farms with happy and respectfully raised and processed animals and plants. I know that almost all the foods we buy in supermarkets these days do NOT come from this sort of environment. But if none of us ever ate meat, there would be no reason to continue to breed and appreciate many animals that simply do not have any other niche in the natural world. You can't release a chicken or a cow "into the wild".

And are we going to give up the rest of the lifestyle choices that come with animal production? Are plastic sneakers really healthier for the environment than a good pair of leather shoes? We can keep a dog healthy on a vegetarian diet but not a cat. Do we give up our beloved pets? And what about people like a couple of my friends who have severe allergies or can't tolerate gluten? They tolerate meat in their diet, thrive on it indeed, on levels that I know would make my stomach doing it's version of the French Revolution.

To my mind, the best course of action would be for people to change the amount of animal foods they eat so that we could be assured that animals would once again be raised in a healthy and humane environment. That would mean no daily Big Macs or omelettes for breakfast. It would mean paying far higher prices for animal protein and purchasing it for special occasions. If you consider the sheer volume animal products sold daily, even a slow, incremental change towards less meat and dairy would make a noticeable difference in the market place.

I like the idea of eating locally but, as I mentioned, not everyone lives in an environment where they can grow their own food or even shop at a farmer's market. Cities, large stretches of the American southwest, even modern suburbs with their ridiculous codes and restrictions, make it difficult. Too, I like the idea of supporting local farmers but I also like the idea of supporting the people in third world countries trying to develop sustainable and organic industries and agricultures that can support their way of life and stop corporate farming. We are ultimately, globally, all in this together.

I do enjoy "slow food". I enjoy growing it, putting it up, creating meals for myself and my family, and taste and quality truly are more important to me than simply quelling the hunger. (I can say this of course from the safety of a middle class lifestyle). Caught between "catching a bite" because I'm getting hungry and staying hungry until I can find something worthy of eating, 99% of the time I chose the latter course. (99% of the time Hubby chooses the former.) But even this is philosophy has it's exceptions. Travel makes it difficult. And for me, football games are a problem. There's virtually nothing at William's football games that I would choose to eat or drink (even the bottled water - I don't buy water in plastic bottles when we have amazing water straight from our tap) but visiting the snack bar is a way of supporting the local team.

The one movement I can unequivocally say I stand behind, even if I can't say I abide by it 100% in real time, is the Organic Foods movement. I've gardened organically for over 30 years now, back when us organic gardeners were considered extremists and downright nutcases. (although there are still people who try to argue that - like the pesticide industry trying to tell Michelle Obama her organic garden at the White House was unAmerican!!!) I do try to buy organic as much as I can but I live in a small town with few shopping options and sometimes I just get tired of having to read every label and research every company and .... sometimes I just toss the cheapest, generic can of beans into my cart, okay?

So, what's for dinner? It depends. When someone asks me what I am in relation to food - vegetarian, carnivore....? well, the answer depends as well. On what I'm trying to communicate at any particular moment. Am I trying to explain to the waiter that I don't want cheese on anything on my plate? Am I trying to fill out a grocery list for when the rest of the family descends on us, with a variety of diet preferences? Am I arguing why it's worth growing your own food to someone with no sense of the bigger picture? I'm not lying when I pick and choose what to tell people. I'm just simplifying. Because although I believe in simple foods, the food industry and food selection.... well, it's complicated.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Faerieworlds - More Bad Faery Day

My server is acting up again, it's now decided to slow down in the evenings (don't we all). Unfortunately that's when I've planned on blogging and so I've been thwarted. I'm back posting this (it's really the next morning) and hopefully I can get another post in and catch up a little bit.
It's always a toss up between spending extra time catching up in "real" life or extra time catching up in my cyberlife. Sometimes I miss the "olden days" when we only had ONE life. Although I know I'd miss my global friendships and the ability to gather information at a moment's flutter of my fingertips.

So, moving on - these pics are offered in flipped order (from late afternoon backwards to morning) because it's just not worth the time to correct them. Just random bits of the day.

Here's Nonny enjoying a little lap time with her auntie.

Noel looks like a grown up Wendy here, snuggling on one of her very own little lost boys.

I didn't know this woman but we just had to get a photo together of our wings - GMTA! Her wings make me think of Guns & Roses for some reason.

We introduced Joli to our friend's daughter Ki whereupon she (Ki) immediately pronounced them new best friends. I suspect this happens on a regular basis, but it was still a very "awww" moment. (see comments - Jasmine said au contraire, this is the only time Ki has ever told anyone that! Awwww!)

More new friends, don't these twin faeries make an adorable set of matching book ends? Or more specifically, don't they make an adorable set of matching Joli ends?

Get a bunch of faeries together and of course it's gonna lead to dancing.

Our friend Copper in all her steampunk finery. The word "Copperlicious" comes to mind whenever I see this photo.

More dancing, slightly larger fae.

My friend Kristen (in the black) with her friend. Kristen was sort of wearing the black color scheme equivalent to my outfit that day.

Our friend Kylie made an awesome Jareth. (for those of you asking "Jareth?" - from the movie The Labyrinth)

My friend Whisperfae who I spent far too little time with at the festival - sniff. Her outfit was so gorgeous. And doesn't it look like those blue wings are sprouting from me in the photo?

A shot of the gorgeous main stage altar. I thought it was particularly beautiful this year. Surprising, with the overwhelming heat, that the flowers stayed so happy.

This wee dragon was so adorable. He was thoroughly enjoying spraying his mother's feet with water, not fire. Must have been a water dragon. Sea serpent?

One more set of Bad Faery Day photos to come, from sunset on. And some more Faerieworlds photos up on Laume's Studio today, over there because they're "art related". Although, it's a tough call since it seems the entire experience was one big artistic whirlwind.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Tea Breaks, Balls, Books, and Boys

The last couple of nights it's been cool enough for hot tea and I've decided to pamper myself a bit and make more than just a cuppa. Half eaten there on the right, my first attempt at vegan pumpkin spice muffins. Turned out yummy. Last night was a creme brulee flavored black tea, tonight is a chocolate flavored black tea. More yum.

Football season started. Last week's game was fun but we didn't win so much. William played well for what it was worth. That's him in the photo, the second purple helmet from the left, hugging the guy in red and gold from Chico High School. I've always thought that the Chico uniforms look like what a football uniform for a Ken doll would look like. So bright! They won, so I guess they won't mind me teasing a bit.

I went to the thrift store today and had fun. Bought a bunch of stuff that I'm showing photos of over on Laume's Studio. Except for this one book - so cute.

Since we have a Rosie (who is a chihuahua, not a cat, but still) and numerous black cats, I couldn't resist this adorable children's book. Now I only need a visiting grandchild to cuddle up and read it with me.

After a lunch date with Hubby, I stopped to browse at the local bookstore and scored in the used book section. I found almost all the Dresden File books, a series I love but started out reading from the library because they had the first half of the series. I bought the last few books. Now, except for the newest still in hardcover and the next one that will come out next spring, I have all but one of the books on my shelf! Yay! And I found all those other fun titles on the left. That one on the bottom is the first of a series I've been collecting but couldn't read until I found the first book. Of course this is balanced out by finding that top book on the left, which is the third in a series that looked interesting and which I don't own the first or second book yet. That's the thing about sci fi and fantasy, it's almost always a commitment to a series. Whodunits too. I love me a good series, but it makes it more of a challenge since I'm pretty picky about going in order of publication.

Walking the other day, I stopped halfway across the bridge to admire and take some photos of this particular bend in the river which always has the most magical dance of light and shadow, no matter what time of day. I heard voices and looked straight down.

These two boys were very busy trying to find or scoop something out of the river. I loved the Huck and Finn summer adventure moment playing out and snapped a few photos, at which point the boys hopped from rock to rock and disappeared underneath the bridge. I took a few more photos of the river and was about to put my camera away when I heard the boys underneath me once more. One of them was saying to the other one "Okay, you get that one and I'll get this one." I thought they'd finally found what they were trying to capture and I snuck my camera over the side of the bridge to snap another photo. I swung quietly forward, ready to click, and then slid quickly back out of sight, giggling.

The boys weren't capturing anything. They were both, "equipment" in hand, aiming at rocks. I thought it was even more Huck and Finn adorable, my boys loved the "aiming game", but decided it best to walk on and leave them to their private boys-will-be-boys fun.

If you wanna see what I found at the thrift shop today, don't forget to pop on over to the studio.