Thursday, October 30, 2008

Unlocking Words

Blessed Samhain/Happy Halloween to you!
Have fun this evening, take care and take a moment to remember your loved ones who have already crossed the veil.

Most years Billy takes the boys trick-or-treating, while I (with any littleuns too young) stay home and pass candy to the ghosts and ghoulies who come knocking. I love passing out candy in my neighborhood- in some ways, it seems like trick-or-treating is a dying practice, and it makes me feel good too keep it alive. Plus, I feel neighborly.

This year however, I will be leaving the lame bowl of candy on the front porch, because Billy and the boys will be trick-or-treating with their cousins, while I drive to a friend's for some Samhain celebration with only ONE child to be responsible for. Hopefully I'll get some relatively uninterrupted adult conversation, and actually be able to reflect on the turning of the year as it draws to a close, and we enter the fallow time.

* * *

Meanwhile, (perhaps suitably, for this time of year) I have put down the enlightening non-fiction book I've been slogging through, and instead picked up The Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice.

Surprisingly, I've never read any of Anne Rice's books before. So far, I am really enjoying this story. It is drawing me in, and opening windows in my brain that I hadn't noticed had shut.

You see, it's been quite awhile since I read a fiction book for pleasure, and I'd not realized how much I depend on it to keep a creative spark alive inside my head. I'm already aware that I need to write regularly to keep certain neurons firing, to make those verbal connections that give shape and form to the tides of my experience. But until recently, I hadn't really understood how very much reading for pleasure can have the same effect. In fact, I'm beginning to understand that neither can work effectively alone- I need to both immerse myself in the words of others, AND consciously create my own, if I wish to call the muse.

Since delving into Interview With the Vampire I've gradually noticed words coming to me unbidden, causing reflection. . . The words have nothing to do with vampires; they are merely subconscious thoughts and feelings that through words, are given the gift of life. Words give them substance and allow me to recognize them from the formless void within.

One thought that surfaced was a better understanding of my oddly polar existence as a mother: I am nothing before my children- a vast gulf of emptiness, their life force driving away my Self. Yet at the very same time I am everything, the whole universe to them, there is no one more important than I. I am a mote of dust in a forgotten corner; I am omniscient Goddess. All and nothing. It's a condition not unique to motherhood; indeed we are all a mysterious composite of dirt and divinity- but the utter surrender of motherhood has brought a deeper understanding to my contradictory position.

Or words unbidden in reaction as I step outside on a cool clear evening: reflections on the brittle beauty of crystal clear night air, a velvet dark sky and shining stars. What is it about a clear autumn night that calls to me, coaxes me like a lover, excites my senses? How can something so dark and cold stoke such fires in my soul?

Words, words, words. What would I do without them? How could I understand my own urgings? I'd be a painter without paint, a baker with no flour. A sunset void of colors. Tonight I am grateful for inspired words, unbidden.

Saturday, October 25, 2008


   /mæˈleɪz, -mə-; Fr. maˈlɛz/ Show Spelled Pronunciation [ma-leyz, -muh-; Fr. ma-lez]
1. a condition of general bodily weakness or discomfort, often marking the onset of a disease.
2. a vague or unfocused feeling of mental uneasiness, lethargy, or discomfort.
1760–70; < F, OF; see mal-, ease

   /ɑnˈwi, ˈɑnwi; Fr. ɑ̃ˈnwi/ Show Spelled Pronunciation [ahn-wee, ahn-wee; Fr. ahn-nwee]
a feeling of utter weariness and discontent resulting from satiety or lack of interest; boredom: The endless lecture produced an unbearable ennui.
1660–70; < F: boredom; OF enui displeasure; see annoy

dis·re·garded (dĭs'rĭ-gärd') Pronunciation Key
dis·re·gard, dis·re·gard·ing, dis·re·gards
1. To not be heeded, not be paid attention; ignored.
2. To be treated without proper respect or attentiveness.

   /ˈlæsɪˌtud, -ˌtyud/ [las-i-tood, -tyood]
1. weariness of body or mind from strain, oppressive climate, etc.; lack of energy; listlessness; languor.
2. a condition of indolent indifference: the pleasant lassitude of the warm summer afternoon.
1525–35; < L lassitūdō weariness, equiv. to lass(us) weary + -i- -i- + -tūdō -tude

* * *

wet blanket

noun, informal
someone who spoils the pleasure of others [syn: spoilsport]


* * *

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Kids and Doggies!

So, the other evening the kids were eating lasagna. It had been a really busy day- they were whiny, dirty and reluctant to cooperate. Littleman in particular was taking F-O-R-E-V-E-R to finish eating. Babyman was crying, more than ready for bed, and Sweetcheeks had finished eating. Finally I left Littleman to finish up while I ran Mr Sweetcheeks' bath and then put Babyman to sleep.

As I helped Sweetcheeks into his bath, I realized that not only had Littleman not come upstairs yet, it was awfully quiet downstairs. "Littleman?" I called. No answer. Uh, oh. I hurried into the kitchen to find this:
From assorted

He was sound asleep on his chair at the table.
From assorted

Poor Littleman. After hunting down my camera and checking on Sweetcheeks, I snapped a couple pics before helping Littleman off to bed.

* * *

In my previous post Moon Moment, I mentioned that we were at my sister-in-law's house that evening. Earlier in the day we'd been relaxing in their spectacular garden, enjoying the warm fall afternoon. They have two dogs, and one of them ("Thoreau") is quite the kisser. He honed in on Babyman right away.
From Lisa & Mark's 10/12/08

I'm only slightly ashamed to admit that we spent much more time laughing at Babyman's plight than we did discouraging Thoreau's lapping tongue!
From Lisa & Mark's 10/12/08

He expressed some displeasure.
From Lisa & Mark's 10/12/08

But was a very good sport, overall.
From Lisa & Mark's 10/12/08

He even showed off his own tongue tricks for us!
From Lisa & Mark's 10/12/08

* * *

Mr. Sweetcheeks loves his Aunt and Uncle's yard. He had a particularly nice time.
From Lisa & Mark's 10/12/08

Really, we all did.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Moon Moment

Hurrying to and fro, packing away leftovers, collecting toys, stray socks, and dirty glasses, stepping lightly over the dogs and the baby to drop everything in it's rightful place. Conversation, squeals and laughter fill the small space of my sister-in-law's house. Is everything ready to go? I glance around. There's nothing left for me to do, at least until we are ready to walk out the door. No one is paying any attention to me. The children are all attended to. My husband is in the middle of a story, sure to be occupied for a few more minutes at least.

I slip quietly through the sliding glass door, stepping out into the dark windy night.

The air is fresh, and just beginning to smell of dry grass and autumn leaves. Even though it's October, the night is warm and pleasant. The gentle breeze suddenly gusts, gleefully whipping the flower beds and making all the windchimes sound. I steal down the back steps and find my way along the rock path to the firepit's clearing. There, I plant my feet firmly and tip my head back to the sky. The moon's glow is just visible behind the racing clouds, perfectly centered in my vision with the waving pines all around. Stiff with tension, I stretch to loosen my muscles. As the wind whips higher, I throw my arms out and breathe deep, deeper. Suddenly the moon explodes through a break in the clouds, shimmering silver and blue. It's nearly full, and glorious. I drink in the sight. Feelings of peace, awe and gratitude mingle with sadness and longing. I want to stay right there, stay and listen to the wind in the trees. Stay to watch the clouds. Stay to talk to the moon. To feel the earth beneath my feet and remember what it's like to notice the subtle beauty. "I miss you", I tell the moon. I do miss her. I miss the quiet connection. I miss my spiritual self. I watch as the clouds hurry to veil her brilliance again. The wind whispers to me that I'm probably wanted inside. Still, I linger. The beauty of the night is a balm for me, a sip from the chalice to keep me going a while longer. Finally I turn back toward the house. As I near the door I can see the boys inside, bouncing and talking and hanging off their uncle. The shouts and laughter are audible long before I open the door. With a last longing look, I slip back into light and noise, love and chaos.

Until next time, moon. Until next time.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Littleman cooks: Grape Pie!

Littleman offered me another helpful recipe, this evening:

Grape Pie

- First, you take some bread that has been baked in the oven.
- You roll it out, then add some muffin batter and some grapes.
- Put it in the oven to bake, and
- ta da! You have grape pie!

* * *

Now, I have never heard of grape pie before tonight. But as I was writing this post, I decided to google it and see what I came up with. Lo and behold, there IS such a thing as grape pie! It is apparently a specialty of bakers in tiny Naples, NY. Here is one such recipe, courtesy of an article from the NY Folklore Society (


Even though they may be perfectly willing to share their recipes, the bakers of Naples have trouble letting outsiders in on the secret of the perfect pie because they never bake just one: they prepare pies in quantity. After much consideration, Irene Bouchard worked out the following for me:

5 1/2 cups Concord grapes, washed
about 1 cup sugar, depending on the sweetness of the grapes
1 tablespoon tapioca
Pastry for a 9-inch pie

Pop the skins off the grapes by pinching them at the end opposite the stem; set them aside. Put the pulp (without water) into a heavy pan, bring it to a boil, and let it boil 5 to 6 minutes. Put it through a colander or food mill to remove the seeds. Pour the hot pulp over the skins and let the mixture sit for 5 hours. ("This colors the pulp and makes it pretty.") Add the sugar and tapioca, then pour the mixture into the pie crust and dot with butter. Put on the top crust. (Irene uses a "floating" top crust—a circle of dough slightly smaller than the top of the pie—because it is easier than crimping top and bottom together and it also makes a pretty purple ring around the edge.) Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Lower the temperature to 350 degrees and cook 20 minutes more until the crust is browned and the juice begins to bubble up.

* * *

Thumbs-up tonight for grape pie! I am SO going to have to try it out. (The Naples NY kind, not Littleman's!) I wonder if our local muscadines or scuppernogs would work? Yum, yum!