Magical Battle of America – The Answer Blowing in the Wind?

Last week, I did not work for this – not only were we overwhelmed with the final chapter of grief and loss for a friend – but I don’t feel a personal need to “clean America’s archetypes” much. The past IS as it is, I don’t need to white wash it to still defend the product OF that past — the NOW America I reside within.  If our archetypes are the results of the flawed actions of flawed humans?  Well, it is through failure and flaws that we learn; and then we move forward to put loss behind us.

This week’s task was summoning strong, cleansing winds of change.  I got my protective circle in place, looked around my Nor’west — spotted  the stream, visualized the fish leaping — because it was dark, I saw nothing.  I zipped to the dark Plains, and sat on the roof of my sod house, looking first up at the pentagram overhead.  No dripping sparkles of light this time, just a soft glow.  I looked to the East, a very faint golden-pink glow there, the dawn almost hitting the coastline.

I turned my back on the distant dawn and stood facing the dark West, though there should have been a nigh full moon.  Perhaps it set already, I did this quite late?  I shut my eyes, visual things are not my strength – having been nearly blind most of my life.  I listened, expecting to hear the banners flap and rope-fittings ringing; but no, scarce any sound in the still dark air.  I consider my energy and feel the almost unnatural stillness around me.  I decide I would rather get something partial done right than fail entirely.  I will call only for the West wind.

I lift my face and begin a summoning whistle.  For a moment, I am very much two places — lying relaxed with my cat purring at my shoulder, and standing there whistling and clearly hearing the high piping sound of my call.  I continue to whistle — once, twice, four times before I feel a motion in my own belly.  A swirling there, suddenly if barely perceptible.  Far away, I hear the slap and bluster of a blue banner…and a red one.  I scent dust in the air and feel my hair lift.

The grass moves against the bare sides of my feet.  I raise my right arm and pivot to the Northeast, directing the barely warm breeze growing in strength.  In my mind, I picture Washington, D.C – a place I have not visited since 1986 on a cold December day the week before Christmas.  But I paint it mentally with Spring’s colors and see cherry blossom pink.  The West wind rifles the trees, like children hitting chocolate filled Easter baskets — pink petals fly into the air.  They sweep in drifts along street curbs.

“Carry change,” I say, “carry courage and Will.”  I think of all the economically blighted places the wind passes and say, “Carry courage, give power and truth.”  I hear flag pole rings ringing against the metal and fabric snapping.  The glow of dawn is brighter, lighting up thin dancing waves of pink sweeping the streets before the Capitol.  “Relax,” I say to the wind, “Rest upon the sea and ride home round the world…”

My cat’s purr brought me back to my bed.  She moved closer to me as I opened my circle, and put her paw on my face.  And then to sleep, to dream, to hope, to dare…perhaps other nights for other winds?

The Discomfort Zone – Are We Recycling Selves in Shame?

2017-01-08-107nc_df_0-2I’ve been struggling for a good while now with certain trends in society. I’ve fought racism and sexism all my life — I started taking hits for doing this as early as fifth grade for the first, and my junior year in high school for the latter.  So, I’m not a novice, exactly to the field of change vs progress.

I think progress is the goal, rather than just any old change that comes along being labeled as progress.  And I’d really rather not watch those I think of as allies doing what is commonly referred to as “eating their own.”  So, I admit, a relatively recent phenomenon in feminism makes me squirm with discomfort: the seemingly harsh take of some feminists about trans-women.  The level of “cut them from our herd” behaviors makes me wince, to be honest.  I first noted it being written about in relation to some pagan conventions, when certain women’s spirituality groups banned trans-women because they weren’t “real” women, weren’t “born” women.(Just as a small linguistic aside?  Let me say the term “cis” for those “real”, “born” women makes me think of the word “cyst”.  Make of that what you will.)

One acquaintance tried to make the case for being anti-trans inclusion by asking me if Rachel Dolezal was black.  No, she isn’t black although she chooses to identify as black.   What does that objectively (if not objectionably) mean?  When I first read about the outing of Rachel as white, I spent a good deal of time trying to get inside her head.  Why would she do such a thing?  I began to speculate and review my own memories and experiences in search of explanation.

As I was graduating high school – with a grade point average artificially reduced because my Principal, who was pissed at me for getting a petition allowing girls to wear pants instead of skirts/dresses only, said in spite of my A-average, I had “too many unexcused absences” and reduced ALL my grades to mere B’s – I read “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee.  It broke my little all-but-entirely-white heart into little bitty guilt-stained pieces, let me tell you.  I have a grandmother I’d been told was Comanche — though whether she was a “half-breed” or a mere quarter was lost somewhere in shamed white pride in the family.  Oh, reading that book and then soon thereafter following the white cop/FBI confrontations that ended with Leonard Peltier in prison, sure made me wish I could claim another race than white!  This would have been complicated by my blue eyes and blond hair, right?  But that didn’t stop Rachel Dolezal, did it?

So, it made me wonder, if my late adolescent desire to be Indian instead of white (in spite of having only a few drops of Amerindian blood) was motivated by shame?  Was that the motivation, if only subconsciously, for Rachel Dolezal?  And yes, I know some several someones out there on the web will take umbrage and get insulted at the idea that shame could be such a motivation.  Tough.  Shame IS a motivation in society, otherwise slut-shaming and other such egregious behaviors would not exist.  I DID manage to not present myself as anything but what I am — a blend of Northern European with a drop of Amerindian to lend me lactose intolerance, yay? (And coincidentally, much later on being told by an Indian, that I was NOT Indian because I was not reservation-raised.  Gee, I feel so excluded by choices I did not get to make?  Maybe?  So, is a black woman not black if she didn’t grow up in Donald Trump’s hellish “inner city”?)

So, if one makes a leap from feeling such horror of actions done by one’s race can make you wish you were something else, could horror over what things have been done by one’s sex make you crave a different identity?  I have no idea if horror at male behavior could make some men actually say, “You know, I don’t want to be THAT guy – in fact I don’t want to be ANY guy!”  It seems doubtful to me.  Trans people I know say they just knew they were in the wrong body.  A few I have read about might have a point – certain people born with confusing combinations of sexual parts – who might once have been called hermaphrodites, might have had a snap decision made by a doctor or parent in their infancy.  I could easily see that causing them to want to be something other than that random “assignment.”

Feminists have been at lengths to rationally explain that there are two “sexes” determined by physical attributes at birth.  But what does that mean for people with indeterminate sexual bits, eh?  On the other hand, gender, they tell us, is societally imposed bits assigned to those bearing said physical attributes.  My school Principal, seeing bumps on my chest, assigned “wears skirts” to me as a gender attribute to match my physiology, for instance.  Perhaps my demand to wear pants violated some deeply held belief in a Biblical injunction against women wearing men’s clothing?  (Never mind, of course, that in Biblical days NOBODY wore pants!)

So, if I am understanding the trans objections of certain feminists, they are against the idea that trans people wear the clothing of their chosen gender as an outward sign of the sexual identity they wish to adopt?  Gender is an artificial and negatively affecting condition and thus to be wore down, ground out, and destroyed, you see?  So the trans idea of men wearing feminine attributes like skirts, bras, make-up only reinforces the subjugating force of gender and must be opposed?  Am I getting this right?  My mind does boggle at this, you see?

I get into these moral dilemmas when ideology seems to completely cut people, who are surely suffering, out of the equation in the service of an idea.  What are these suffering people left on the margins in the pursuit of a perfect ideology, if not some kind of snarling logicality induced collateral damage?  If one assigned this same rational to homosexuality, by saying, for example “Men being fucked like women reasserts gender roles, so by Logic, we canNOT have THAT happening!” it wouldn’t wash, would it?  Oh, wait, something very like that IS what homophobic religious jerks DO say, isn’t it?  We have seen how that played out, haven’t we?

Thus, my problems with being anti-trans because “feminism opposes gender.”  I care about the people it is happening to more than I care about an idea about reinforcement of “gender”.  And what has this to do with a photograph of pretty glassware at the top of this random mental ramble?  Well, those lovely “glasses”?  They were once soda bottles.  They were TRANSformed into pretty, bright, colorful glasses to drink beer, wine, martinis — or water — out of instead.  So, I expect that any day now, we should catch hell from the Mormons decrying the natural non-alcoholic use of that GLASS being TRANSformed into something promoting the use of demon rum, etc, etc, etc.  Recycled soda bottles should only be made into more soda bottles, damn it all!

We are chasing our semantic tails round and round and forgetting people.  This disturbs and troubles me.  There are plenty of oppressors out there, I’ve met them.  It is when I meet them looking like ME that I am most disturbed.  I cannot “see” a trans woman being an oppressor by “reinforcing gender roles” because she is wearing a dress and has her hair permed.  No, I cannot.  I will not.  And no, I can’t just sit on my fingers or keep my mouth shut.  I am deemed an idiot, occasionally.  The reason is, I keep saying things like this: What would the world look like IF everyone actually COULD choose who/what/how to be?  Is that not really a suggestion of what a post-racism, post-sexism world might look like?

And yes, thank you.  I’d rather be an idealistic idiot than a snarling logicality-induced bit of rhetorical rubble.  I’m pretty ashamed to be American in the wake of the November election, but I don’t think I can be anything else.  I’m also pretty ashamed to be a human, in light of human behavior.  So, I will stick with idealistic idiot until I find a wolf pack that will take me in in spite of my inadequate hairiness.

Gratitude 12 August – Crafty Museum Art Hack Version

I am grateful for help and healing. In this case, help from my skillful youngest son, who used a planer to make old cedar fence scraps into 6″ x 14″ smooth panels to re-create a miniature of something I love so much it made me long to be a master thief!  Over a dozen years ago, we first visited the Seattle Asian Art Museum, when I was still mourning the running away of my youngest son.  There was a beautiful room screen — six panels I thought were of wood (but are actually paper covered with gold leaf!) with a murder of inky black crows!  It lit something in my failing heart like nothing else.  I wanted to fold it up, tuck it impossibly under my arm and runaway home with it!

Edo crow screenI didn’t, of course.  The gorgeous, fragile screen was from Edo Period Japan — had centuries of time in it’s fragile folds.  But this week, with the help of my returned now grown up (clear into his 30’s!) son, I made myself a decoupaged miniature of the screen out of a museum poster!  Mine is about 14 inches tall and a bit more than 30 inches long. It is not hinged;  but connected across it’s back by two old leather belts – one belonged to my Runaway/Raptor son in his teens and was left behind; the other was the one I wore in his absence.

So help and healing, a loss of fifteen years from our lives connected with paper, glue, gilding pens, and leather!  Good thing, too, because the museum has not displayed the very fragile original in about a decade now!

 

Gratitude Catch-Up, July 20 Thru 23rd

Feeling scattered and shattered today. Suddenly life is both full and empty.  The last three days were very hectic.  I’ve not had/made time for yoga since Monday and am full of bodily aches and groans as a result.  So, counter-intuitive as it is, I am grateful today that my body has become accustomed to a new yoga norm and bitches about my UNhealthy habits!

Yesterday was hectic, rising early to hit the road to Seattle to one of Swedish Medical’s SIX locations.  The Minotaur had an appointment to consult with a neurosurgeon there.  Traffic was hellish, it took over two hours to drive there in a light rain.  Then finding parking took another twenty minutes.  Then the VA (Veterans Administration/Very Annoying) had NOT sent the promised necessary authorization codes and a further half hour had to be spent getting all those things.  They were not nasty, the dear people at Swedish, they did not chide us or cancel the appointment we were thus very, very late for — they simply re-alloted time.  I am grateful for that – a reasonable medical staff and a humane doctor.   But it was a two/three gratitude day!

Image-1I was also grateful that we took a traffic stress break after the doctor and drove to Volunteer Park to visit the Seattle Asian Museum and the beautiful conservatory there.  I took a picture of the trunk of an unfortunately dying cedar there and “Prizma’d” it — even in death was beauty.  The Seattle Asian Museum did not have my favorite gold and black 12th century screen on display, but I did get a poster, cards, and a scarf embellished with it’s image!

FullSizeRenderI love crows and corvids in general – so this image never tires me.  Our metal front doors on the porch were roughly modeled on this design.

Thursday’s gratitude was that the food at Appleby’s, where my German lady lunch partners chose to go this week, has improved.  I was able to find something that didn’t ping my allergies!  Also, it gave me a nice mental memory instead of a nasty one for that restaurant — laughing friends, instead of my son’s former in-laws in drunken condition!  (Also, on Thursday, we dropped by a favorite European Cafe — with French food and a French chef – to drop off a dried bouquet of lavender in memoriam of the dead in Nice, France.  The Citron is an excellent choice with delicious soups for lunch for only $6 or so!)

Wednesday’s gratitude was again for food.  My husband the Minotaur took us to lunch in Puyallup at the Roadrunner Bourbon and Burger House.  This was very satisfying and sustaining.  They have far more than mere bourbon and burgers.  The music is early ’60’s and the decor is maybe what I’d call early Las Vegas.  The food and booze is excellent and happy hour(s) is noon to six and ten to close!  

We don’t actually eat out very often, aside from my carefully budgeted luncheons with the former employees of Hess Deli.  So finding the Roadrunner and great happy hour and delicious food is a marvelous break.  Not from cooking, but from the world.  The ambiance is totally in the past — in the allegedly “great America” certain asshat-not-to-be-named claims he will bring back.  So why, knowing the Rat Pack years were certainly NOT ideal, do I revel in this place evoking all that?  Because it was the years of potential — the moments when I still believed everything was going to change for the better!  So, when I sit in beneath the crystal chandeliers in the Roadrunner’s bar, listening to Dean Martin, I take a break from the heartbreaking, mind-bending news of the day and go back to a time when I believed it was going to be different.  It actually does brace me up a bit and allow my batteries to re-charge.  It surely beats thinking about how everything did start to change and then suddenly went rapidly retrograde when every crazy white sort in America freaked out over a black man in the White House!

Now, back to the “salt mines” of a yard getting ahead of me, an election year that is insane, planning schedules around surgery and recovery time next month and much more solo yoga!

Poetry Month – Sixteen: Reading, Ridicule, & Recipe

flying monkeyOh, did I leave sarcasm out of the title?  I know this is the blog where I intended not to swear or snark.  I’m not swearing.  But by all that is holy in history and writing, I will snark.  The photo?  It is the one I utilize when I really do want to fling monkey-poo from on high. So obviously it is prose first this day.  Otherwise, the succinct haiku would make no sense, sorry.

I’ve felt very low and weary and pained lately and I often escape into books.  I went to the library since money is short presently.  That was my first error — our library sucks rocks through bendy straws.  I checked out a book I had seen reviewed online as “luminous” — and hey, fungus and rotting manure can glow in the dark, right?

The title is “The Cenote” and I am pretty sure it is the result of a nice Utah-reared Mormon girl vacationing in Mexico (and without Richard Burton as a crazed drunken priest) and having too many forbidden margaritas.  Was that nasty and snide?  Tough cookies.  It is one of the worst novels I have ever read in my entire life. I’m not apologizing for the spoilers ahead, either.  Consider yourselves saved by my taking one for the team!

It revolves around an apparent pre-Columbian (or at least out of any notice of any possible conquistador sorts) village that sends the chief’s runtier son off to the islands to find a wife who can’t run away home.  The one he brings home has been been knocked up by a handsome trader who visited her island and her parents are in a hurry to unload her before her “shame” becomes obvious.  Don’t you just love to hate it when Christian values are mythologically imposed on otherwise happy indigenous populations?

The new hubby is sweet and sensitive and very unwarrior-ish, unlike his hunky-born-to-be-chief big brother.  The pregnant bride can’t even cook and doesn’t like meat, being a fish-eater (hey, is that code for Catholic?!) and she chops up “yams” though I’m pretty sure those are an African, not American staple at this point.  Even when he eventually finds out his cute baby daughter is not his flesh and blood, he charitably “forgives” his slutty-hot-island-girl wife (with her nappy hair, even!) and vows to love her.

But there are bigger things to worry about; in the dry season, the only source of water is the “cenote” — one of those deep holes in the midst of jungle.  Trouble is, with a poorly told myth of siren-like irresistable women of the ancient past as cause for the effect, the village men keep wandering away at night lured by the “voices”.  They drown in the cenote, and get their brains eaten by the “women” — apparently zombie mermaids of some kind.  But miraculously the hero-in-spite-of-runtiness son has figured how to “filter” the presumably poisoned water through sand and ashes.  (Wouldn’t that be more likely to produce lye than drinkable water?)  So they don’t die of thirst, they simply keep losing men.

Finally, a family tragedy sends the husband to jump into the cenote, and the island girl jumps in to save him — being swim qualified!  Hurrah!  Then the wildly in love couple decide to leave and go off to explore the world and each other (is this code for a mission of prematurely wed Mormons?!).  Never mind that the water source is still inhabited by brain sucking zombie females that the more obviously virile men of the tribe canNOT resist.  Alrighty then.  Aside from some shockingly Christianized thinking and guilt tripping and desperate tribal women painting their lips red in an attempt to foil sexy swimming zombies, the utter lack of historical research was stunning.  When I was twelve I knew enough history to find this book should fall under the genre called CRAP!

So, thus, reading and ridicule complete?  The haiku:

Too much tequila,

Too little hist‘ry research,

Man-eating mermaids!?

That only leaves the promised recipe, a bit of sarcasm all by itself.  Lynn Alley has a neat little cookbook called “The Gourmet Vegetarian Slow Cooker” out on cheap sale at B & N!    Since I am eating vegetarian about 5 times a week, I indulged my cookbook addiction; but because I am me, I can’t leave a recipe alone even the first time.  So I altered this one by changing the very American potatoes for SWEET POTATOES, just as the very bad novel’s heroine did!  My market had no poblano chiles, I got some Ancho chiles instead.

My changes are in italic font.

Rustic (Sweet) Potato and Poblano Ancho Gratin

2 large ancho chiles – I fire roasted them in the gas flame of my stove and stuck them in the fridge to cool overnight before scraping off the charred skins and slicing them for use.

1 T. garlic flavored olive oil

3 medium light colored sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced. (about 1 to 1 1/2 lbs)

smoked salt

1/2 lb shredded cheese (jack or cheddar)

1/2 c finely sliced sweet onion

3/4 c water

3 -4 cloves of comfited garlic (instead of fresh)

1 c heavy cream or half and half — or more if needed.

Layer the potatoes onto bottom of crock of slow cooker — after heating the olive oil in base.  Top first layer with 1/3 of the chile slices, 1/3 of the onion, and 1/3 of the cheese — repeat twice more — preferably while chanting something to scare away missionaries.  Turn that puppy up on high (recipe says low, but forget THAT) and pour the water down the side so the sweet heretical potatoes will start steaming tender!  Let it cook for up to two hours, depending on the virility of your crock pot!

Mix the salt into the cream, mash the soft garlic comfit cloves (or use roasted garlic) and mix that into the cream as well.  Pour this over the softened sweet potato-chile-onion mass and cook for another hour or two!

Enjoy while imagining shooting zombie mermaids in a cenote barrel, ok?