windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (Default)
Why I'm Here and Not There
You may wonder why my entire journal teleported over to Dreamwidth. It is a long story, I guess, that I don't know if I have the right to share with any great detail. What I can say is that two years ago, I had a terrible fight with someone I love and respect a tremendous amount. Both of us were hurt by it and our relationship has been altered by it. What I learned in an email this week, though, is that she is still greatly wounded by that phone call and the experiences that led to much that seeing me or reading about me on social media was leading her to continually relive that sense of heartbreak and betrayal and hurt. And, you know, that's about the worst thing I could hear about someone I love that much. The years on LiveJournal have knitted a complicated tapestry of friends and mutual friends that has spilled over onto all kinds of platforms--Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr, Facebook, Good Reads, blogs--all parts of the social glue of my long-distance friendships. I'm everywhere and connected to so many of her people, her support system, that secretly feeling this way for this long must have been pretty unbearable. And it is weird, too, because I'm left wondering who my true friends are in the midst of all this bottled bad feeling. Were they both hating and loving me all this time, too? I don't know. What I do think, though, is that the only thing I can do, beyond the apologies I've sent for the pain I've caused (intentionally or not), is to give her some space without me in it. I've deleted my LJ, my Twitter, and my Instagram presence. I've moved here to an out-of-the-way corner on Dreamwidth. I'd rather my friendship be an 'opt-in' sort of thing instead of a 'there's no nice way to unfriend Rachel and I don't want to hurt her after all the history we've had'.

It really sucks, though. I have this mental image that there was a land mine and someone's leg is shattered and hanging on with shreds of skin and muscle and ligaments. Like, there's no repairing that damned leg and it is hurting you with every step and it has been for two years. I've been that lower leg and I needed to be amputated and all this time I just didn't know.

So that's what's brought me here to Dreamwidth.
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (ocean heart)
I didn't get my brother's phone calls, I was sick and had turned my phone to silent. Yesterday afternoon, though, I got an email from Daniel that I needed to call my brother. I called him and he said, "Oh, hey Rachel. How are you doing?" and I said, "I'm alright, sick though. Is something wrong?" and he said, "Yes, something is wrong. Dad passed away."

As I understand it, staff at the assisted living facility he's at found him yesterday morning, having died in his bed. The coroner expects it is a cardiac issue, and given my father's medical history that is very likely. He was 69 years old.

My father weathered (and at times miraculously survived) a series of health crises. He has been code blue and resuscitated, on ventilators and then revived. We have sat at his hospital bed, in vigil, more than once and in more than one city. It is just unbelievable that he is gone, truly and irrevocably gone, and we didn't even get a phone call as warning. It feels like there has been a mistake. I didn't know that our last phone call was going to be our last.

He was really down last week. He only picked up my phone call because I left a rambling message that began with "Dad, are you there? If you're there, pick up! Pick up, pick up, pick up! Well, I'll tell you about me..." He hadn't seen much of my brother and was isolating himself in his room. He was having all his meals delivered so he didn't have to get out of bed or socialize with anyone. I bullied him, albeit good-naturedly, to take a shower, put on fresh clothes, and to take his next meal in the cafeteria with the rest of the residents of the assisted care facility. He said something about how he had nothing in common with those old people, those infirm and forgetful. I lashed back, in disbelief at his snobbery, saying he had everything in common with those people--he also had trouble moving around, needed care, was in poor health. (It turns out they all outlived him.) He said he had to go to the bathroom and he'd talk to me later. He was cagey, never promised to get out of bed, and I said, "Okay, well call me back if you want to talk."

Those were the last words I ever spoke to my Dad. His spirits did improve, though, and he went to dinner at my brother's mother-in-law's house on Saturday and then ran errands with my brother on Sunday. Things were fine, we never expected to lose him this week, no matter how fragile we knew his health to be.

I wish I'd been kinder, in my words and in my thoughts. I wish I'd known the last time we talked was going to be the last time. I wish he'd gotten to see our new home, the one we'd be staying in here in Florida. I wish he'd been able to go to Disney World with us, to experience it with his grandchildren after so many adventures there with his children. I wish his life had been better and more fulfilling. It is tragic that he died after decades of waiting for renewed health in order to live. The tragedy wasn't his death, as that was something he yearned for as a perfect respite from suffering, but in the waste of his life and his potential all the years before. What a shame, what a shame, what a shame how much mental illness stole from us all.

I was digging through boxes of old photographs, looking for something appropriate for the obituary or the visitation. A letter from my father, written on the back of a piece of church bulletin dated July 15, 2002, fell out onto the table and was overlooked until I'd repacked the rest of the box. His scrawled handwriting leaps off the page. It wasn't one of his cruel letters, but one of his kind. It says, in part,

"You are very special and a wonderful daughter--I am proud of you! If you get a little discouraged, just get healthy and think of Michener's quote on character!!!!"

(Which, with a little Googling, I believe is this quote from my birth year--"Character consists of what you do on the third and fourth times.")

He went on to say, "(never give up, you have great genes) (you have Viking and Scottish Highlander blood--great potential) (not to mention Irish grit and determination) (BRAINS +)".

He wrote about Vietnam after that before closing:

It was kind of an extraordinary find yesterday, a letter I never remember receiving saying everything you'd want a Dad, forever gone, to have said.

He was so sick, so, so sick, and yet I know that he loved me. He really did.


I had no idea how devastating his loss would be. I couldn't have imagined that I'd be surprised when he died, that it'd be so sudden, so unannounced, so final.

windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (scarab)
I've just gotten back from South Florida, my subtropical heart home, where I spent a week reconnecting with my Mom. It was none of the things I thought it would be. Instead of me pulling her into my reality, she pulled me back into hers--evenings of junk foods and the never-ending, mind-numbing chatter of her television. I had a few successes--getting her to watch an episode of Whale Wars and spending a few hours unboxing and decluttering her dining room and then hauling a substantial donation to Goodwill on her behalf, but really it didn't feel like I made so much as a ripple in the sameness of her existence. I thought she'd play with Graeme but her idea of time spent together was to change the channel to a child-friendly show and to bring out foods for him to eat while he watched them. It was down-letting. I'd envisioned and even planned for an entirely different visit. I had hand-written notes about places to remember to go and opening hours and days and they went unvisited. But really, this isn't about my Mom, but about me within the context of my Black month with [ profile] sacred12novices.

I'd planned to go to the beach for the full moon. That beach, with the dark shapes of great sea turtles pulling themselves out of the waves to nest, is my spiritual homeland. I became a witch on those beaches--over sixteen years ago. I pictured the moonrise out of the waters, the silvery road it would paint over the midnight waves, and the Black month ritual and experience that I could have there. That was my image of myself for this month. It didn't work that way, though. That night was the only night I had left free to see my oldest, best friend in the world. He took me out to dinner at a vegan restaurant I love and I ate too much food in the joy of the easy availability of it all. So stuffed and bloated we went back home and as the moon rose unseen in an overcast sky, we were sitting around the living room of my Mom's house playing with my toddler son. He was imagining that we were all in a rocket ship set for the moon. We had great adventures as he unspooled the story from some wacky part of his young brain. The moon was inhabited, it seems, and there was an underground cookie factory and rainbow striped kangaroos with pockets instead of a pouch and our rocket was commandeered by monkeys leaving us at the mercy of a rocket-ship salesman who wanted 10,000 cookies in exchange for one rather miniature rocket but was convinced to settle for 5. That's the reality of my night. It did not match up to how I'd envisioned it--not one bit--and yet the lesson from Black was there all the same. The lesson was more Truthfully there than would have been at my perfectly timed beach/moon/magick/meditation event.

Truth is what IS. It is peace and certainty and the mental stillness of mindfully being in the present. The rest, the scrambling to be and act and meet certain self-requirements, the mental voices that keep talking and talking and talking are all scripts.

I've been thinking a lot about mental scripts--the self-deceptions that rest within them--and how they keep me from living Black's Truth. I read a book this month about a wealthy family in Atlanta who sold their dream home and downsized. They used half the money they earned from the sale to buy a new, smaller home. The other half, they decided as a family to donate to the Hunger Project in Ghana to help villagers build schools and medical facilities within their communities. For me, The Power of Half's best gift to me was the wealth of quotes I found myself copying down from the pages as I read. There were inspiring words from Martin Luther King, Jr and Mother Teresa and dozens of others. But one comment, from the author himself, was exactly what I needed to hear during my black month. He says,

"It's a funny thing about collecting stuff that takes on its own inertia, a resistance to change. The need for bigger, nicer, more, becomes a force unto itself. Scientists define inertia as a force that keeps a body in motion moving in the same direction. Psychologists describe the situation as 'an unconsciously chosen life script that narrows your choices'--in other words, being stuck. Either way, inertia/momentum/autopilot--call it what you like--is an incredibly powerful force to reverse."

Those words screamed out at me. An unconsciously chosen life script that narrows your choices. Inertia. This is about more than the things I own. How often do I not act or not evolve or not bail myself out of less-than-ideal circumstances because my mental scripts tell me that I can't, I shouldn't, or some such other claptrap? Stuck in a rut of my OWN MIND'S MAKING. Not Truth. Not the Divine. But squirrely, deceptive mental scripts. Scripts that narrow my choices and diminish my power. Scripts that not only convince me that I need to buy mascara and nail polish and lose weight despite the junk food I'm simultaneously saying is my right but also scripts that convince me, in the most insidiously malevolent ways, to not fight at all. The voice of complacency and routine and hopelessness. The voice that tells me that I'm not who I should be and could use more work than I'm capable of to get there. The voice that says I should gloss over who I am, at least a little, to be more be more okay. There is ME, unvarnished and Truthful, and then there is the Me That I Would Have Me Be.

I've long been a fan of Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House books on her life growing up on the frontiers of America. They're magical and captivating. What's amazing to read, sometime, is a biography of the author. The facts of her life and the stories she chose to tell about it do not quite match up. There are places she's lived that she chose to forget. There are events, terrible events, in her family's life that were never mentioned. She tells stories of places she was too young living at to have memories of and introduces characters into her books that were not yet born. Reconciling the two, it is obvious that she took liberty in retelling her childhood. For reasons of her own, she chose to shape it into something a bit fictionalized. I can't know her reasoning. Maybe she polished it up and romanticized it a bit for her perceived audience. Maybe she removed some of the thorns that hurt her the worst. Maybe she chose to only tell what she thought people would want to hear and believe about her and her life. I can't know--but there is little Laura and there is the little Laura that Ms. Wilder recreated from the facts and scraps of her childhood and they are not exactly the same person. The Me and the Me That I Would Have Me Be.


In my history courses in college, we talked about the unreliability of diaries. The private journals of people used to be pretty useful as first-hand sources and truly, still are today. The huge grain of salt, though, was introduced when the first diary was published for broad public consumption. (And Gods, I wish I remember when it was...18th/19th century?). After that, there was a subtle shift in the writing behaviors of ordinary people. There became some small chance in their mind that someone may someday publish what they were confessing in private. Can you imagine? Going from the absolute assurance that only your chosen heir would have access to your personal papers after your death to the uncertainty that what you write could become something that every neighbor, acquaintance, and stranger could be reading in bound form in the future. It changed everything about the act of keeping a diary. I've only known this world of uncertainty. I write knowing that not only are a select few reading what I have to say here but that, in fact, they could easily broadcast it to the rest of the known world. That's our reality. There is Me and there is the Me That I Would Have Me Be. I, like Laura, sanitize my journal for the general public. What I say is as significant in my story as what I choose not to share. Everything is filtered through my scripts, my insecurities, my troubles and aspirations. There is Me and then the Me That I Would Have Me Be. They are so similar and yet, they are not the same. Only Lady Black can truly know me as I am. Only Truth knows my Truths. To be honest, there are times often enough when even *I* can't distinguish between the two.


With the Full Moon, and only two weeks to go in my Black Month's work, my challenge has expanded a bit. It started, at the New Moon, with the need for discernment in my life's choices. I needed to find a way out of my mental scripts so that I could see Truth. I needed to learn how to honestly value what was important in my life and what was only white noise. I needed to choose, consciously, to be mindful and awake. And now, I'm realizing, that the scripts are not only trying to shape my life into something materialistic and nonsensically unimportant but that they are also creating within me the stagnant rut of inertia. They are narrowing my life choices by making other avenues, other ways of living seem impossible. They have me spinning in a current that, if I choose not to swim for my life, will gently wile away the ever fleeting hours of my life. They are distorting the way I view myself and making Me, Truth Me, unacceptable to my own self-perceptions.

I will do another self-portrait in the last two weeks of the work here. It will be Me (not the Me That I Would Have Me Be). It will reflect not the flaws that I fear I have but the Truth of me. It will be raw, unedited, present, and unromanticized. I know that Laura's Truth would have been as beloved as Little House Laura and I know, intellectually, that the unvarnished Me is as relatable as the Rachel you've gotten to know through this journal. They are the Me and the Me That I Would Have Me Be.
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (everything changes stars)
I was anxious on the walk to ritual that night. I should have gone ahead without my cabinmates, but they had the flashlights and parts of the road were muddy, so I waited as they layered and relayered their ritual wear for warmth and made last minute stops at the outhouses on the way. The road was empty, we were the last to make the walk and I was pretty sure at the pace we were making, we'd be not only the last to arrive but also, quite unmistakably, late. All of my anxiety, my hurry, my worry about being rude jarred me out of what is usually for me a very solemn walk. I was pretty miserable.

I arrived, at a speedwalk, to Carter Shay where a double ring of chairs was arranged around a small fire that was burning blue and green and sunset colors, popping sparks up into the circle of sky among the towering trees of the grove. I found, and took, one of the few remaining chairs in the back row and watched the fire for a few moments before we began. It was cold out and I was wearing, pretty much, everything I'd brought with me. Jeans and a long-sleeved t-shirt, fleece zip-up jacket, hooded ritual cape, and butterfly shawl. I was so bulky, I felt like a linebacker and felt comfortable but disconnected from my surroundings. Sitting in the back row gave me a feeling that I was observing, more than participating, in the event as the ritual began. Watching the majority of the group leave their chairs to move closer to the fire, I wanted to cry. Really cry. I was feeling terrible about myself. I felt like, I have no business being within this community, and all sorts of other uncharacteristically unkind thoughts. It was tempting to stay in my second row chair, watch the backs of the participants, and cry. I felt like the perpetual outsider. I felt profoundly alone.

In my pocket, folded up, was the letter I'd written to Persephone. My plea. That part of myself I wanted her to walk into the Underworld with. The seed that needed to be buried, out of my hands, so that the transformative powers of the earth could allow it to sprout. The part of me I wanted her to embrace and heal. It wasn't worded this way, but in the days following, I can tell you what my letter was all about. I feel worthless. Ineffective, unimportant, small. I don't see the positive impact of my actions. I think that if only I had a clear vision, a detailed Calling, of where I should go in life that I could then work towards becoming that worthwhile person. I could feel good about myself if I was utilizing my skills in making the world the proverbial 'better place'. But I don't know where to go and I don't see a clear vision of my own best self and so I circle around, uncertain, in this whirlpool current of low self-esteem. So I'm sitting in the back row of ritual with that letter in my fist, watching the fire, watching everyone moving in the firelight, and thinking to myself with hot tears in my eyes, I don't have anything worth contributing here.

It was awful. Low self-esteem isn't new to me, but it hasn't ever intruded before into my ritual life. In ritual, I feel I have something to give. In ritual, I am comfortable in my skin. In ritual, my voice has value. So it was taking this one realm of power and opening the door between it and my self-doubt. (Misery!)

At some point, I forced myself out of the chair and forward into the group by the fire. The fire was really a marvel of fire-building. There was a central fire, small and dynamic, and it was contained within a circular low-wall of heavy logs, stacked like bricks in a wishing well. At some point, that fire was triggered into the outer wall and slowly, the flames extended around the entire circle, creating this incredible cauldron of fire, a portal or empty space just past the walls of flame. We were each given the chance to drop in our letters. I went early and dropped my letter into the center. It disappeared, immediately, out of my sight.

I had time to watch the fire and feel gratitude for its architect, the Grove's resident cook and man of many talents, as he stepped forward again and again, almost entirely unnoticed, to feed or adjust something. We were chanting, solemnly, and I felt this yearning for Persephone to hold me, to heal me, to take away the mental anguish I was feeling.

Deep Calls to Deep
and Deep Calls to Deep.

Again and again, we sang those lines. Dozens of letters were thrown into the fire. I remembered, as I sang, something that had been said during Ritual Conspiracy when the chant was introduced.

Deep Calls to Deep

The place where my deep passions meet the world's deep needs.

and Deep Calls to Deep

The World wants, needs, me to be me, to become me.

We go down as She goes down
We follow her under ground

Hail to Persephone!
Who heals the souls below.

Deep calls to deep
and deep calls to deep.

Persephone can heal anything but what I put into her hands, like burying a seed, I must let go of. I am the seed I must let go of. I cannot predict or control what I will grow into. I don't even have to know what sort of seed I am. I just have to trust the process, relax into the earth, and know that every day I am undergoing my own becoming. I am a work in progress.

Deep calls to deep
and deep calls to deep.

At the end of ritual, I stayed behind at the fire with many others for some additional singing and voice work. I sang my heart out and shifted my chair back, bit by bit, as the fire got hotter and hotter. I felt something cold strike my face and thought maybe I'd been burned by a spark from the fire. It happened again, though, and was distinctly cold. I looked up, into that circle of sky that the fire was sparking up into, the vault of stars and indigo sky and a wind picked up and in a spiraling cascade, the trees at my back released a sigh of leaves that surfed and settled into the fire, into Persephone's portal, across the ritual space and the participants still standing and seated within the circle. It was absolutely magickal. Fall, quite unmistakably, had arrived and it felt almost palpable that Persephone had descended with our letters into her kingdom under the earth. I felt a quietude, a sense of awe, an overwhelming sense of well-being as drops of water and whispers of leaves fell among me. It was time, for me at least, to make the walk back to the cabin.

Ahead of me, robed figures walked in the light of hand-held lanterns. Others, like me, made their way in darkness. I thought of how many people had made this walk at Diana's Grove and how many people felt transported into a timeless spirituality the way I did. I could be anyone, anywhere, anytime as I walked down the road of torches and starshine.

It was autumn, my own season of sovereignty, and I felt peaceful in my own skin. I skipped the dessert and companionship in the barn and chose, instead, to curl up in the warmth of my bunk and sleep a healing sleep.
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (underworld fae)

Saturday morning, with the sun lending me ample light for scanning my path and a company of Grove dogs surrounding me everywhere I went, I felt better about snakes. I am smart and capable and cautious--I wouldn't stumble upon one unannounced so long as there was light to discern my path. Still, I was feeling ripped out of the myth of the weekend and no longer connected to the work we were there to do. In the morning, my Circle of Support, that had been facilitated by the snakebite victim, was folded into another's group. We were able to talk about our experience of ritual the night before and in my case, about the snake's disturbing contributions to the ritual experience. I didn't come to any great conclusions about my unrest, but I was at least able to voice it completely and address the elephant in the room for me--that after the snakebite, my mind had gone from assisting the ritual's mood and message to full-time survival mode. I worried that I wouldn't be able to reengage with Psyche. My full and complete attention was on the level of physical reality. Good news was that the man bit by the snake had come back from the hospital in the pre-dawn hours with a lot of medications to combat the swelling and a pair of crutches, but otherwise with a good prognosis.


At morning session, the heavy-lifting of the weekend, as I saw it, was unveiled. Pan and Psyche spoke, after Psyche made her fateful decision to accept the path of challenges in pursuit of Eros. In traditional tellings of the myth, Venus was motivated throughout with feelings of waspish, petty jealousy and revenge. At the Grove, though, Cynthea smiled knowingly at the thought that the Goddess of Love and Beauty would ever be jealous of "just a pretty girl". Instead, she told us, Psyche offered herself as a dedicant to Venus. No face of the Divine wishes you harm. Venus, tutoring and pushing, said, "To become a Goddess, you must become more than you think you are. You must do more than you think you are capable of. You must take on a series of challenges that seem almost impossible. At the completion of each challenge, each impossible task conquered, she turned to Psyche and said, "Thank you and now...." and the next impossible task was set before her. There was no time for rest or reflection or celebration, just a never-ending climb up a sheer rock face. Imagine that first task, when Psyche managed to sort the seeds of the granary. She'd achieved something that had seemed impossible! Yet, without acknowledging the weight of that triumph, 'impossible' had become the new minimum-standard, the new form of normal. Did she ever own her own heroism in meeting each successive challenge?

The path of challenges, the road to becoming our true selves, is not a glamorous one. There is no praise, no hero's welcome, no ticker-tape parade. You arrive back, scratched and dirty and breathless with the golden fleece and are swept directly, unceremoniously, into the next challenge. As Cynthea put it, "Following your bliss isn't blissful."

Our task for Saturday, the work of our final ritual of the weekend, was to take the time to breathe and honor our own heroic selves for all the impossible things we'd done, all the challenges we'd successfully passed in life unsung. We are all Psyche, all Breath and the Soul, all heroes already. Could I reframe my self-perception enough to see all the things in life that I could not have done and yet somehow did? Could I acknowledge that just because I had managed to get through something did not diminish how difficult it had been? Could I see myself as the hero in the story of my own life?

Based on the four elements, we were given four types of heroism to consider:
Challenges of Air- the heroism of speaking the Truth and intellectually, strategically solving the problems before me.

Challenges of Fire- the heroism of confrontations and transformations, the times when I throw myself into the fire.

Challenges of Water- the heroism of surviving the unsurvivable, of simply going on, of living another day.

Challenges of Earth- the heroism of taking a stand, standing for something, standing my ground

So the question isn't whether you are a hero or not (you are) but what sort of heroism you have used throughout your life when you met challenges. Oh, this work spoke to my greatest sense of wounded self. I know, intimately, every detail of every wrong decision, hurtful thing, and spectacular failure of my life. My victories, too soon, are forgotten and discounted and belittled. I don't count myself and I certainly don't count myself as a hero. The people around me, I see their glory and myself, I only know how uncertain and small and making-it-up-as-I-go I feel inside. That does not feel like the stuff of heroes! Throughout the session, I was writing madly and doodling stars in the corners of my notes. I was drinking it all in and yet, still, I wanted to go find a private place to curl up and have a cry. Was I an unsung hero? Had I never given myself credit for my accomplishments? Did I never breathe and reflect and honor myself as courageous and strong and capable of achieving impossible things, of surviving impossible pains? Oh, it hurt and it healed and mostly it stopped me dead in my tracks. I'd never considered such a thing.

There was incredible wisdom and strength and beauty among the heroes of that room. Some shared stories of their challenges. Others shared insights they'd had on the topic. I resonated most with a few snippets and so I'm just going to rescue them from my notes and leave them here, the wisdom of staff and participants alike. Maybe you'll resonate with these truths, too.

~Anything I know I must do but don't, I label 'impossible'. Anything I know I should do, but haven't yet done, I say is 'impossible'. (Of course, once I do this 'impossible' thing, I then bury its importance with a shrug. Afterall, if puny me managed to do it, it wasn't such an achievement after all.)

~No face of the Divine wishes you harm. Sometimes, though, catastrophe is the only way for the Gods to get us to move. How much worse do we want to make it for ourselves by choosing, stubbornly or out of fear, not to change, not to act when we know we must?

~We compare our insides with everyone else's outsides. They look so brave and accomplished and put together and we feel scared and inadequate and flawed. Everyone else looks like a hero to me, but inside, I don't feel like a hero myself.

~Virginia Satir was quoted, "I own me, therefore I can engineer me. I am me and I am okay."

~Everything you've done up until now has worked. Otherwise, you wouldn't be here. That's okay. Good work. Now the trick is, for the next challenge, to strategize to get to the other side without paying such a high price.

~What if, instead of seeing your life as a string of failures, you insisted on seeing it as a string of victories? Remember, one type of heroism, the challenge of water, is simply surviving another day. What does your life look like, that Path of Challenges, if it is retold from the knowledge that you are already a hero and that you've accomplished/survived/overcome one impossible thing after another? What does that change?

We had the afternoon to let these truths percolate, to sit in the cleansing flow of the stream and then to step into ritual one last time. A ritual gathering of heroes...
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (witch's circle)
The weekend before my surgery, I flew to St. Louis with [ profile] mermaiden and drove from there to Diana's Grove for their July Mystery School weekend. The theme of the long weekend event was Playing for the Song. The temptingly vague registration catalog promised, "This weekend celebrates the creative spirit. To enter the innermost sanctum of your soul requires a leap of faith. Challenged to step into your own power, what will you create? Are you ready to let go of yourself and bring your sacred gifts to fruition? This weekend will be devoted to unleashing your own art… whatever form that joy may take." As a singer, the very mention of song drew me in and I was sold, completely, on whatever spiritual challenges, transformative experiences, and path-shifting surprises the ritual team had in store for me. There was that frisson of anticipatory bracing, though, wondering what I had gotten myself into and if the Universe would smile on me and my kidney stone out in the middle of nowhere for a weekend. :D The magic of the Grove is that it changes everyone it touches. My story is my experience. Though we may have gone through ritual and meals and meetings as a group, the other magic of the Grove is that everyone is having their own private transformations, confirmations, inspirations. We are all there alone, together. So this is my story of my weekend the way I heard it, experienced it, and was changed by it.... :)

Our meadow-view cabin--we had the Moon(right) side. :)

A longtime Mystery picked us up at the St. Louis airport and drove us out to the Grove. We arrived late afternoon and had a few hours to ourselves to sort out our luggage, set up our bedding in the cabin, and walk the land together. I think something like thirty people were at the Grove for the weekend, but Sarah and I were still fortunate enough to be given our own cabin that would normally have housed four more campers. It gave us full license to have long slumber-party talks about things together without feeling like we were excluding anyone else around us. And, dorm-room style, it gave us plenty of room to strew our belongings around, hang wet towels and creek-swimming clothes out to dry, and otherwise take over the little lavender den as our own little retreat from the sun. :)

Our little cabin kingdom!

Myth, Ritual, and a Call into Life )
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (pink lotus candles)
My second wound is simple and yet profoundly limits my life. I do not want to look foolish and so I avoid trying things that I think I won't be good at or that I don't already know how to do. I allow myself no time for beginner's mistakes and learning curves. I, too often, choose not to take the risk because embarrassment and the potential for ridicule looms larger in my head than any potential benefits. That is no way to live. That's that squirrely intruder again, making past embarrassments seem monumental and potential future embarrassing moments even worse!

In the past, this afraid-to-look-ridiculous has kept me from:

-auditioning for solos, despite having a very good voice
-dancing where anyone could see me, outside of those show choir group performances
-playing table games at a casino with a real, live dealer
-teaching classes
-playing sports
-attempting art
-going to the gym
-aerobics/fitness classes
-celebrating my birthday
-cultivating friendships; inviting people I don't know well to get together
-wearing skirts or other pretty and/or impractical clothing
-interviewing for better than minimum wage jobs
-inviting people into my home
-cooking for an audience
-answering the phone
-parading around naked
-wearing shorts that show off my uncommonly pale legs
-wearing sandals
-doing my hair or makeup
-going someone I might get lost
-parallel parking
-learning to drive a manual transmission car
-changing a tire/adding air to a tire
-practicing my foreign language skills in the hearing of others
-admit, where I fear strong debate or backlash, being a witch
-go to the spa
-go swimming
-(I'm going to come back, edit, and add more to the list as I think of any).

My inhibitions would love for me to sidestep this issue entirely, but I know that I have some unearthed talents in all these things I've never attempted. Just imagine, I finally learned at age 31 how to hula hoop! It was fun and I might have looked laughable but who cares? (Okay, I care.) But if I get over the wound of insensitive people from my past making fun of me and tormenting me, then maybe it would start to not matter if people giggle when I don't quite get it right the first time. Maybe. I need to start doing things that feel emotionally risky to me. It is the only way to put those demons of self-doubt to rest. What's the worst that can happen, realistically?
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (scarab)

For the last time, I've lit my black pillar candle, the one so cheaply made that it is only a whisper of black coating on an unabashedly white candle. Earlier this month, I knew it to be a metaphor for our embodied existence. It is so much more than that.

I've pulled out my collaged self-portrait, that archetypal image of the Goddess, of air and water and magickal heart. Making it, digging down through all my layers in order to accurately, honestly represent them, I expected to have to overcome shame at what I found. I knew I'd have to just bare it and steel myself for the response from friends and family and myself. Who would still love Me, the dark and the light, the public and the private, the hidden and the obvious together in one complex person? I had no idea.

I am that candle. I dug through the dark parts and you know what I found this month? My Soul. My whole, shining, good, Divine, immortal and evolving Soul. The heart of me is big, it is filled with the infinite possibilities of perfect love, true connection, and the potential for complete healing. I chose this embodied life to learn more, to grow more, and in so doing I pulled on a flawed mantle. I trip up on silly things and skin my knees. I worry about my flyaway hair and let insecurities lock me away from other people. I am human, imperfect, a work-in-progress and that's just the thinnest most inconsequential surface layer. If I dig, I don't get to darker places within myself--I scrape off the daily-life detritus that obscures my soul from view. I am as beautiful, as perfect, as shining and loving as everyone else is in their depths--for we're all bits of radiant godstuff poured into flawed temporary housing.

I have spent so much time worrying about the time I was wasting, anxious that my life didn't meet some arbitrary standards that I had set for it, shameful at how ineffectual and unimportant and invisible I felt. I have been so hounded by the looming sense of my eventual death that I've been paralyzed and self-hating. That's short-sighted one-life thinking.

At my birth, the moon was in Taurus. Physical things make me feel safe. It is a stubburn, fixed sign for me, at odds with the rest of my air and water chart. I feel safest when I've dug in. When I'm anxious, I ground my emotions with food and material accumulation. I abhor change. Well, what greater change can there be than death? New existence, new chance, new set-up. I value it spiritually and intellectually, but my little warm earth body wants to stay just this way, unmoving, forever. Without change, though, the egg never cracks, the seasons never shift, the seed never sprouts, and my soul cannot continue to evolve.

By doing nothing, by vacillating for years, I've been making a daily choice. I can choose, instead, to change and to allow my life to change and evolve along with me.

"It is free will that lets us choose what we eat, our cars, our clothes, our vacations...similarly, we can choose to increase our capacity to love or be compassionate; we can choose to perform the little acts of kindness that bring us internal satisfaction; we can choose generosity over selfishness, respect over prejudice. In every aspect of our lives we can choose to make the loving decision, and by doing so, our souls will evolve." ~Dr. Brian L. Weiss in Same Soul, Many Bodies

I am not on track to cure cancer or govern the nation, become Miss America or a fashion model or do any other exceptional and ambitious and societally applauded life undertakings I may have once dreamed of. That has poisoned my self-esteem for so long, measuring my accomplishments against that impossible yard stick. My soul doesn't need that to be bettered. None of it. My month working with the color Black in the Temple of the Twelve was bookended neatly by volunteer shifts at a neighborhood homeless shelter. Six hour shifts, without break, interviewing families and seniors teetering on the brink of complete financial disaster. I could have done it, tirelessly, for days. Both times, I came home with such a sense of completion and presence and inner satisfaction and divine glow that I felt, quite fully, that I could die a happy woman in those moments. I let my heart lead and I shined and watched others shine around me and I was in an almost otherworldly state of Perfect Love and communion. I was doing what I'd entered this world to do--to Be Love. What more than that could I possibly aspire to? It's all about love and I have that, naturally, in spades.

My gift isn't small after all--it has the biggest potential of all.

"All of your roads will end in death. Not all roads lead to life." ~Cynthea Jones (Diana's Grove Mystery School)

I will love to my best, most fearless ability. I choose to hold a candle in the dark so that others may catch a glimpse of their own divine soul. I trust that change, while not always easy or safe feeling, leads me to greater spiritual evolution and healing. I know that under this very thin veneer of flaws and uncertainty, that I am truly a "whole, shining, good, Divine, immortal and evolving Soul" and I will look for it sparkling in the eyes of those around me.

Lady Black sent me a token. It is a Glamourkin, the image of a castle tower on an utterly black night with light in just one window. The text, clipped from an old book and reassembled, reads "a candle burns, as bright as stars". We are the candles, little embodied bits of godstuff and starshine, immortal and growing and exactly where we are supposed to be on this learning path. Love shines in the darkest of nights and connects us, not only to each other, but to our own immortal, divine cores.

I read the words I collaged together as part of my self-portrait's heart one last time.
We all have a role mothering. Witch, help connect all our broken pieces together.

Hail and Farewell, Black.

windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (scarab)
This past weekend was the Full Moon, the half-way point of our Black Month. How has your work with Black been going? Are you unearthing secrets? Dark sides to your personality that you hide from everyone, including yourself? Have you begun honoring your talents by using them in the world?

In the book, Caroline arrives at her Full Moon with a crisis of faith. She hasn't even started her true self-portrait and she is certain it is a task she won't complete in time to move on to the next color. She feels unequal to the challenge she's been presented with. Under the Full Moon, she performs a ritual and is given something she needs--a teacher to help guide her efforts. It is only then, with the reassurance that Lady Black would provide all help necessary, and a newfound determination to do her best, that Caroline's work drawing herself as she truly is can begin.

How did the Full Moon's power change your relationship with Black, with the work, this month?


For those of you who signed up for the June/July token exchange, have you both sent and received a token package?

Mine waits for me on my altar and I know I have a lot of work to do to earn it! I hope to devote quite a bit of my free time this long weekend towards my portrait. One of the themes for the month for me has been the consequences of fear, of living with my eyes stubbornly closed so I don't have to risk seeing what's in the dark with me. It has manifested, in one way, as a medical phobia. I avoid the ounce of prevention, like seeing the doctor, because I'd rather not face what scares me (being not in control and some unknown life-changing diagnosis) and then down the road I have to pay for it with the huge, even scarier consequences of neglecting myself. It's like, I can spend $30 on an oil change every 3000 miles or I can wait and then kablow!! spend $2000+ on repairs. I can keep up with the dishes every day or I can wait and then wham!! I've got too much to manage and a sugar ant infestation to boot. What is it within me that invites the worse? Why do I continuously choose to ignore something until it reaches crisis stage? That theme is everywhere I look this month for me. I need to keep my eyes open and honestly look at what's around me, what's within me.

On the other side of the token, my talents, I had a tarot reading that addressed a lot about that. For me, the entire reading was about water and emotion *except* for the work of the month. That, it said, was the Ten of Swords. One of my talents is my logical ability to step back and see, dispassionately, the big picture. In order to use the rest of my talents as part of a meaningful, service-oriented life, I realize I must prune and trim both what I choose to utilize and how I spend my time. That's something that must be done intellectually and deliberately. So I will be doing a lot of thinking and list-writing about where all my time goes now, what my best talents are, and what few interests I should pursue in the future. I can't do it all. By not choosing, I'm just in idle, wasting both the days of my life and my Goddess-given talents, and I recognize that's not acceptable. I have been waiting for a Call, for Someone to make the hard decisions for me and that's being chicken. I must make decisions, narrow my focus deliberately, and get to work on my life's work. I must dictate what that life's work will be. So, yeah, I have a ton of work to do in the next two weeks and I, like Caroline, doubt my ability to honestly complete so much heavy-lifting and hard, scary soul-searching.
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (witch's circle)
Graeme and I spent the last two days up at Disney World, exhausting the last bit of my annual pass and enjoying a few days of Mother and Baby bonding and adventure. I'm in the midst of a series of epiphanies about the nature of Earth (as an Element, as a planet, and as Gaia Herself) and my time there has only furthered my thoughts about it. Like all epiphanies, I find it almost impossible to articulate and yet, I must. It'll have to come through piecemeal and patchwork and I hope it makes some sense.

I am an acquisitive person by nature. Maybe it was because I was born with the Moon in Taurus or perhaps it was my mother's influence as I was raised in shopping malls around the country or maybe something else entirely, but I seek comfort and stability and peace in material items. I have a collector's mindset. I love the good humor and humanitarian spirit of The Muppets, for example, and have held decades-long the desire to dedicate an entire room in my home to Muppets memorabilia. I can't help but want and when I get, I want more. It is an insatiable hunger, my desire to accumulate. I love crystals and when I'm in a crystal store or that mining museum in Arizona, I don't want one or two. Ideally, I want them all. I could buy a crystal every day of my life and never reach a point of satiation. Same too with vinyl art toys in blind boxes or sparkly stationary or art materials or seashells. It is never enough. I collect shells when I visit beaches around the world and those shells have poured above and out of every container I designate for them. I can't stop myself from scanning for more to take. I want sky-high alphabetized libraries of my own and endless color-coordinated closets, whole museums of stuff immortalizing my existence on earth. I could have scrapbooks and photographs and statues and picnic tables and gold-plated athames and the entire collection of Fraggle Rock DVDs and I would *still* never reach a point where I said. "I have bought all that I want." That point will never be reached on this path I'm on, because the stuff doesn't actually bring me fulfillment. I'm searching for contentment, an end to the yearning, and accumulating a lot of stuff I don't need in the process.

The Earth suffers because I take more than I need. I've read the works of Thomas L. Friedman and I'm aware that our American standard of consumption is unsustainable for our planet. I know that the undeveloped population of the world cannot aspire to the dizzying lifestyle we demand for ourselves in the Western World. Something has to give in this resource-exploitation arms race and I'd really rather it not be our planet's viability. I want our government to step in and start acting like this was a life and death matter, for all of us, and yet what am I doing myself? I acquire reusable shopping bags the way I seem to collect everything else...I have more than I'd ever need. I was raised this way, in a society where advertising executives revolutionized the way we live and convinced everyone that Kleenex were superior to the handy, reuseable, buy once hankerchief and that what we need for our own lasting happiness lies in the next product release or upgrade. I'm being tricked into taking more than my share, more than I need.

(You can probably begin to identify my epiphany as, well, pretty much Buddhism.)

So I'm living in this dream state where I'm completely insulated from the damage of my choices. If I choose to eat a slice of cheese pizza, I'm protected from having to witness the trauma of a dairy cow's existence. I don't have to explain my actions to the veal calf awaiting slaughter in his tiny plastic crate. If I buy a piece of jewelry, to join the collection of jewelry I already own, I don't have to see the laborers gouging into the heart of my Mother Earth to extract the metal to make it. I am so divorced from the reality of my resource consumption, I couldn't possibly tally what impact I make on the world with all my purchases. The pollution, the underpaid laborers, the environmental degradation, the resource competition, there are too many factors to figure out. What I am beginning to sense, though, is that I am part of the whole making this world so troubled. I am sitting at the communal table and taking more than my share. Though I cannot see all the other diners, there is no doubt that some/many/countless will be/are forced to do without because of my greed.

If it can't be grown, it must be mined. That's the mining industry slogan but it also pulls into sharp relief the reality that everything on this earth is natural. Everything I buy or accumulate or collect was grown upon or extracted from the earth. The sad thing is that once it is taken, it can almost never be returned. So I bought that stupid, useless metal pin at Disney World. I can't put that metal back, smooth over a disrupted ecosystem, and apologize for my mindless materialism. I can't restore hides to slaughtered animals, I can't rebuild the secret crystal cathedrals that were shattered apart by machinery for my tumbled rock collection. I cannot mold my junk mail back into living trees on an Alaskan hillside. I cannot return the resources that I have demanded for my sole use. It is too late for that.

At Disney World, I overheard a conversation between a father and his child. The child said, "This is boring." The father, with a tone of disbelief and fatigue, said, "We're spending five days at Disney World. I sold a kidney for this! You can't be bored." I'm that child. I turn to my mother, who has literally opened a vein (of petroleum, water, silver, gold, copper, platinum, quartz, etc) for me time and time and time and time again and I still take my purchases home and say, "I wish I had the pink one, too. Maybe tomorrow I can get that." It is a wonder how much She loves me, that I haven't been smited yet. My ever-suffering Mother.

I'm addicted to shopping. When I had not one cent to spare, I searched the ground under vending machines for overlooked coins. When I couldn't buy, I went browsing in dumpsters and gleefully dragging home what I claimed for myself and our household. I always wanted more. Now, I am blessed with abundance. I don't have as many natural restrictions on my ability to gather more and more material possessions. I can go to the thrift store with no needs and haul home bags and bags of things I didn't need. I can haul home books from the bookstore and ignore the library altogether. It is messed up. Okay, and admittedly I'm not actually addicted to shopping anymore than the rest of our society, but that's messed up enough. I am entertained by material items and I have the wealth to seek them out. I'd rather browse a thrift store aimlessly than do just about anything else. It is unnatural, it creates a chaos of clutter, and more than that--it is disrespectful. I do not value that everything I buy, everything I take into my home, is part of Gaia. Part of Her blood, Her body, Her very essence. If I owned one jacket, it would have importance. Instead, I have half a dozen and all of them treated as if they were unimportant, replaceable, devalued.

I both long for, and fear, the Little House life. Remember in Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House book series, how she recounted tales from her childhood? Oh, the Christmas that a neighbor surprised them with a precious piece of candy when they were going to have to do without gifts. The one precious, tattered rag doll she called her toy. I can't tell you the number of holidays where I've had so much to open that none of it, ultimately, made any impact upon me. I've been asking my mother for years to write me a letter in lieu of a gift. I've yearned for that meaning, that message, that immaterial, precious sentiment. I tend to get makeup or a sweater, instead.

I own an old New England home-cooked style cookbook solely because of its Tasha Tudor illustrations. The "receipts" are organized into meals for all sorts of special occasions. For birthdays, there are special cakes for the children and the author's memory of her son's favorite meal. Wouldn't it be liberating to request a favorite food on my birthday, enjoy it with my family, and happily do without any unnecessary gifts?

All these romanticized visions share one siren call--the lure of 'less is more'. It sounds wonderful, it sounds healthy and necessary and yet to do that would be to fly in the face of all that our modern society is, all that I am. I'd have to become the weirdo that didn't give gifts at the holidays and I'd have to, even scarier, cut my ties to material goods. I'd have to learn to say, "I have all I need."

What would happen to the world if I did that?! My entire lifestyle, my day-to-day motivations are rooted in materialism. What would it take to shut down that programming and what would be left of life as I knew it?

It is terrifying. I'm contemplating giving my security blanket away. I don't want to.

Sarah asked, in passing, what the work of this past esbat was for me. Truthfully, it is this. I'm thinking of it as Mindful March. I have started to hear the voice and rock with the intense emotions of Gaia. I am catching glimpses of myself outside of the dream and awakening to find that I've been mindlessly consuming Her resources. I'm living out-of-balance and taking more than I need. I must learn to feel the sensation of "enough". I must make my decisions consciously. I've gotta get awake and stay awake and act accordingly. I certainly cannot serve Her living as I have been, a zombie shuffling ever-forward for more.
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (beachcouple)
* Shaun left yesterday morning. It was spectacularly great to get to spend an entire week with him under our roof. Graeme gloms onto him like white on rice. (When prompted as to what his name is, Graeme says, "Unka Hooray!". Very cute as my little toddler is now obsessed with role calls. In a group, he'll point to each person and name them, including himself. *pointing* "Mama. Daddy. Baby. Unka Hooray!". It was priceless.

We spent a lot of time doing not much. This weekend, though, we went to the Museum of Science and Industry and had a glorious, indulgent vegan meal at Green Zebra. Mmm. I even went so far as to put photos of the courses up on my Flickr.

* I just sobbed my way through 17 Again. I'm a sucker for every movie they preview in the OnDemand listings. This one wasn't creepy in the least. It was great.

* I sawed into my thumb with a serrated knife a few days ago. I was saved from worse by my thumbnail. I don't know what happened. I've never cut myself with a knife. Owwie.

* In a little over a week, I'm leaving for Graeme and I's Alaskan cruise. I'm both excited and intimidated. It is a little more ambitious than I usually care to be as a solo parent. eep!

* Graeme's had a fever overnight. He sorta collapsed at the playground yesterday afternoon, laying down on the pavement and refusing to get up. It was scary. I got about four or five hours of sleep and spent at least that much nursing him. We're having a cereal and pajamas and Sesame Street kind of morning.

* Mystery School has been much on my mind this past week. Next year, they're doing the story of Persephone. What would your story be like if it was told by your mother?, Cynthea asked. Not coincidentally, I got into my first ever fight with my father two days ago and got to hear him unleash "17 years of grievances" against me. It was an hour-long tale where I played the part of the villain in every vignette. (Though Daniel got to be co-star in some as the man with a singleminded striving for acquiring material wealth at the expense of everyone and everything else.) It was astonishingly poisoned, like something bottled up for seventeen years and festering and finally unleashed in one great hour long diatribe.

So thank you River, for passing that Grove wisdom about Demeter telling Persephone's tale along. I thought, "Oh, so this is my life story as told by my father. How fascinating. This isn't my self-perception at all." I'm taking a few days to get over the sting of it, but I feel ultimately healthy and self-secure. A long conversation with my mom about my Dad's mental illness and how that skews his perceptions and that heart-security of hearing her say she loves me and that I've been a blessing to both her and Dad, no matter what he says to me now, helped me, too. I had friends chiming in and my brother and sister-in-law calling just to say they're sorry and that they love me. I know that I've made poor choices at times but I also know that my father's assumed motivations for me aren't true or fair. It stinks, though, to have him have such obvious scorn for me and to think, on a fundamental level, that I'm selfish and evil and irresponsible and uncaring. I have a good thing going, I have a beautiful family and I'm sorry my dad doesn't see it that way.
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (chakragoddess)
There's an emptiness inside her
and she'd do anything to fill it in
but all the colors mix together
to grey

and it breaks her heart

The cheerful chatter of Sesame Street in the other room blended quietly with the music I'd turned on for ritual--a mix of songs I find emotionally inspiring that I've collectively come to call "Get Up, Stand Up". A year and a day of Lunaea Weatherstone's influence, of her Ninth Wave program, and I've collected quite a few of those art-journal, song-weaving, creative, gentle, Goddess-dancing habits. I've come to appreciate the prayers of oil pastels on paper, of scissors and magazines, of songs in the shower that can all lead to profound yet joyful experiences of the divine. The ways of her Sisterhood of the Silver Branch are affirming, supportive, flexible. She reminds as a last farewell this final month, those of us prone to self-criticism and regrets, to:

"Know you are in the exact right place at the exact right time. Know you have done everything exactly according to plan. Know you have done nothing wrong. Know that what you've done is enough, and that more will be done in the months and years to come. Know that the Goddess loves you dearly."

I will get down on my knees
and I will pray
My hands are small, I know
but they're not yours, they are my own
but they're not yours, they are my own
and I am never broken
we are never broken

we are god's eyes
god's hands

One last ritual to bookend the year's work. A simple acknowledgement, a blessing, an anointing. I wasn't feeling eloquent. Wasn't even feeling adequate.

I pour part of my heart out in text, song lyrics, and photographs. )
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (Default)
Graeme loves a few things: playing in the bath, drawing, and popping bubbles top the list. (So you can perhaps see just how great baths can be when I pull out the bottle of bubbles and the tub crayons.)

This week, I encouraged Daniel to give Graeme (who was covered in dinner) a bath. I stayed downstairs. This has probably only happened a handful of times in Graeme's life. Usually I give baths or our babysitter.

There was the splash of the tub filling and Graeme's happy footsteps as he raced around to pick out the toys he wanted to dump in there. (Plastic Ostara eggs and a bowl, probably.) Happy conversational tones and then blood-curdling screams. Daniel's anxious questioning, Graeme's repeated screams of "No! No! No! No!" in a sheer panicked, blubbering way.

I got upstairs and Daniel was soothing a towel-wrapped toddler who was red-faced and tear-streaked.

"Maybe the water was too hot for him", Daniel says.

I go to feel the water, that'd been sitting now for a few minutes, and it was HOT HOT HOT!

Graeme didn't have any burns, but it was obviously way hotter than any bath Graeme'd ever been in. Daniel says he'd happily climbed in and then, like a delayed reaction, started screaming.

We had no luck getting him back into that tub. I changed the water, climbed in there myself, mounded it with toys. No way. He whimpered and wailed, even when he could feel the water wasn't hot anymore.

So today, Graeme has marker all over his face, hands, feet, legs. I ask him if I can give him a bath (something he used to request daily!) and he says no. What about if there are toys? What about if Mama gets in, too? Eventually he says okay. I put a few inches of water in the tub (different tub! different apartment!) and the minute he's ankle deep in that totally tepid water, he started screaming in sheer terror. I couldn't calm him down or do anything but get him out of that tub. I tried washing him up in the sink, another of his former favorite play spots, and he acted the same way.

I know Daniel feels like a villain. I have to admit, I'm pretty upset about it, too. Not just the too-hot mistake but the parenting inequality that allowed for something that is so obvious to me to be so unknown to D. Mostly, I feel terrible for Graeme and unsure how long it will take to get him to trust water again--let alone restore it to its beloved status.

We both feel horrible. I guess Graeme does, too.


windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (Default)

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