The Here and Now; Living in the Moment

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This morning I passed by the family room altar with a pile of clean laundry. As I dumped it over the top of the couch and thought about how I needed to dust, my eyes landed on a “memorial” of sorts for Jazzy. Call me morbid, but in trying to work out how I was going to help my children deal with the transition, I made something to be placed on our altar a few days ahead of time. Just a small, framed photo and poem about the “Rainbow Bridge”. I was too distraught to even create my own poem. Hell, I could barely even do that little bit of copy-paste.

Each family member added something that reminded us of her. I planned on placing her collar and leash on the altar when I came home without her. My youngest daughter crocheted a small cotton yarn bracelet and hung it from the corner of the frame to be charged. She asked if I would place it on Jazzy’s left foreleg before she was “gone” and to tie it snug to make sure it stayed there “through what they, you know, do with her body after”. When I told everyone the good news, she immediately took the bracelet and with a big, beautiful smile on her face asked me to tie it snug to her wrist.

It’s many days later and our altar has slowly changed shape and form, but I decided to leave the picture itself there for the time being (interestingly, I never placed the date of her death on it). I feel it’s a beautiful reminder to us about life and the afterlife. The soul to soul connections we create (or continue) with loved ones during our incarnations are powerful and whether or not the “Rainbow Bridge” exists on the way to the Summerlands is really irrelevant at the moment. But I do think it will spark some creative conversation about how as individuals we feel about the cycle of life, death, the afterlife, and rebirth. There will be so much to talk about, and I’m curious to see what they spill out after being raised in a Pagan/New Agey/Touch of Wiccan/Zen Moment Reminding/Goddess Worshiping home. It should be interesting and I’m bound to gain new insights on how their own unique individual thoughts and feelings about their spiritual paths are evolving. They are old enough now to be able to make distinctions of what resonates with them and what doesn’t. And that’s what I want for them.

I think that some day next week we will sit down as a family and together write (or draw, or paint, and/or collage, etc.) something meaningful about our own personal connection to Jazzy in the Here and Now and create something special, perhaps a small hand-bound scrapbook or something that we all have contributed to… I don’t know yet, right now I am just too damned exhausted. My hope is that it will open the way to contemplate our own lives, the lives of our loved ones, and to remind ourselves of what we take for granted. I want it to help each of us to realize and appreciate every moment we have and every meaningful memory we create in the Here and Now. Because really, the Here and Now, this moment, this breath, is the only thing we know is for certain.

 

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Little Strands of Hope & Grief

Well, it’s officially month 2 of my stepping down from the meds. I’m wearing a 37.5 mcg/hr patch, but have started taking Clonidine to help with the withdrawal sweating/shaking. We haven’t lowered my oxy dose, in fact it’s increased by 20 mg per day to keep me at a more regulated level.

Last month fell into a sort of blur. Not at first, of course. In fact, I took advantage of a partly sunny day and the kids and I headed to the pumpkin patch. I thought, “Hey, this’ll be a breeze!” But that was only day 1. I managed to go to the serpentine costume “parade” at the school on the following Monday but I was hot flashing big time, majorly woozy, and actually bumped into a wall on my way out the door. (geez, I hope nobody saw that) I didn’t go trick or treating w/the kiddos. The pumpkins never got carved. My husband called the dr. and picked up an rx from their office for a 25mcg dose and I stuck that thing on immediately, like the fiend I was.

I did a lot of coloring. So much so, I don’t think my hand will ever recover.

Slow and Steady.

This week I began to feel pretty darn good. Finally. I’m feeling really encouraged and am looking forward to the day I’m done with all of it!

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But tonight I got some pretty devastating news. Our white German Shepherd (my constant shadow) will be put down next Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. They will then cremate her and her ashes will be scattered over a rose garden dedicated for those purposes.

There are many reasons why, the number one being that her health has rapidly declined over the past several months and she is having a more difficult time holding her bowels, which is distressing to her because she doesn’t want to make messes.

She has always been fiercely protective of strangers, but things took a turn for the worse when she bit a child who had come over to play. It nearly broke the skin, and would have, had she wanted it to. The boys were roughhousing and as I was walking to the room to tell them to calm down, but she had already bitten him on his forearm. The mom was very understanding though. In fact, I was more upset than she was.

I already feel tremendous grief and a growing sense of loss. That gaping hole will only get bigger between now and Tuesday afternoon.

I’m trying to decide on how we should tell the kids.

Bonfires & Cake Pops

 

Ahhhh… The New Moon in Cancer, my beloved Sun Sign. I just can’t shake it. The New Moon has always pulled at me more than the Full Moon. I naturally become more “Witchy” during this time. I gather herbs, (yesterday I began drying a new batch of lavender buds, rose petals, and tons of rosemary). I write a lot more, I cook like crazy (my daughter and I made cake pops today for the New Moon Fire tonight at a friend’s house) and I nurture, nurture, nurture until I drive people crazy.

It’s a time when I need to restore balance to my working area, my personal altar, and the family hearth altar. I dust, tidy up, rearrange, change the intentions, etc.

Since it’s a time for new beginnings, I give myself one task for the upcoming Waxing phase. Just one though, because I can’t handle any more than that. If I happen to do more, great, but my main focus is to stick to just the ONE. If I don’t stick to just the ONE I become scattered and unfocused and easily give up or put off until later. Several years ago I was diagnosed with ADHD, but I think some of it has to do with the medication I take for the nerve damage. But then again, maybe it’s why I’ve always been horrible at math and had a problem with focusing since I can remember. I hate excuses, but they are sometimes a necessary evil.

So just the ONE Thing.

The New Moon technically isn’t until about 4 a.m. PST. My HOPE is to have a little solitary in-my-shell-leave-me-alone ritual before my daughter and I head out to the bonfire around 8:00. I think it’s doable.

Maybe that’ll be my One Task.

Or maybe I was thinking way ahead and it’s the cake pops (just kidding!)

Many Blessings on your Journey )O(

The to Return to Reality; A Family Affair

So much has happened since we left for our vacation. Good things happened in our little bubble and bad things happened on a global level. For purposes of this blog and my topsy-turvy emotional state, I’m going to stick to my little “bubble”for the most part.

Sigh.

Our week at Disneyland was all in all a success. It wasn’t perfect, it was really hot and crowded. The kids weren’t perfect. My husband wasn’t perfect. And I know for damn sure I wasn’t perfect. But those little imperfections were so small and short-lived that they were easily forgotten about. So basically we had an amazing adventure.

And I was scared.

Scared of a panic attack on the plane because of my claustrophobia. Scared that the kids were going to fall out of a ride. Scared I would be in so much pain I’d have to spend a lot of time in the hotel room alone. I was scared of being scared of the crowds. Scared the kids would drown in the hotel swimming pool. Scared of forgetting my fentanyl patches. Scared of a crazed gunman running loose….the list could go on and on but you get my point. Catastrophizing is something I’m really good at and I do it with great clarity and knack for detail.

No wonder I don’t ever like leaving the house.

But once we boarded the plane, cramped as it was, the kids’ excitement was contagious. It was not only their first flight, but their first trip to Disneyland. We met the pilots who handed out stickers and trading cards (I have no idea who you trade Alaska Airlines cards with, but hey, it’s the thought that counts).

The four of us were pretty much inseparable for the week except for on two occasions. One was when I took a few hours to myself at the resort spa getting a massage, using the sauna and steam room, and then their amazing shower with its expensive shampoo and body wash. While my hair was drying I drank every variety of tea they had while wandering around naked underneath a fluffy white bathrobe and spa slippers.

It was pure bliss.

The other time was when we dropped the kids off at “Pinocchio’s Workshop” (the only prerequisites were that they were “potty-trained” and “played well with others”) to be watched properly while my husband and I took a couple of hours to ourselves in the hotel room. Alone at last, we ordered room service, fooled around and then took a nap while our 9 & 10 year-olds ate Mickey Mouse shaped chicken nuggets and apple sauce under harsh fluorescent lighting amongst much younger kids. I figured at least they had each other. After being “rescued” we took them over to Downtown Disney for a big waffle cone to help make-up for it. For the most part it worked.

The thing I was surprised about was my lack of homesickness. I still get weepy just thinking about how much we enjoyed each other (kind of sad, I know). The day after we got home my husband started talking “reality”. We had to go over bills and discuss his upcoming two week trip for work. I actually started to cry. I didn’t want all that reality crap. Give me Cinderella and the dumb light parade. I want to watch fireworks while standing in line for a ride. I want to complain about how much my feet hurt, and by how hot it was so it must be time to get another frozen lemonade.

Coming home meant I was no longer sheltered from the big wide world. I was ripped from the clutches of Fantasyland where there was no bad news except that maybe the carousel was down for the day. We never once turned on the t.v. in the hotel room, never saw the news or read the paper. I left my laptop at home and the only apps we used were the ones for the Fastpass and other related “necessary” updates. We were constantly busy at the park or at the swimming pool (where I rode the giant waterslide with the kids more than once).

So the reality of the world hit me harder than I could have ever imagined. It was time to return to dealing with laundry and dentist appointments, and hearing about what’s going on in the “real world”. How fortunate we were to have the luxury of even being able to seclude ourselves in non-reality, turning a blind eye to even Tomorrowland’s foibles. Most of the world has no such luxury. I’m daydreaming of frozen lemonade while over 600 million people lack access to clean drinking water. The children in war-torn countries have no idea what it’s like to stand in line to go on a thrill-seeking ride. Thinking of these things can really put things back into perspective, depressingly so. I have been working hard not to feel horribly guilty for indulging in a family vacation that we had been saving up for years to take. Knowing these things makes it all that more special; that we were blessed with a reprieve, and that we took joy in just being together.

Over the past few days we have looked through the many photos and laughed about the ridiculousness of some of the rides and I am able to smile. As far as reality goes, that’s the reality of our Summer Vacation and I will treasure it always.

Many Blessings on your Journey )O(

Cheers to Summer Solstice and Happy Places

 

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Many Blessings to You and Yours Today, On This Summer Solstice & Full Strawberry Moon!

We leave tomorrow for Disneyland, “The Happiest Place on Earth”, I should probably be happier than I am, right? I’m truly excited to go as a family especially since these youngest two have never been. But I am too stressed at the moment to enjoy the preparations. As I’ve mentioned, I am from Southern California and lived 20 minutes away from the Magical Kingdom. Our family went 2-3 times a year, but I haven’t been in at least 15. So I know that although a lot has stayed the same, I also know that a lot has changed and I am looking forward to what’s in store.

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Except this stress! I have to make sure the flight stuff is in order and that we arrive at the airport on time. I have to drop the dog off with the boarders and then to the doctor’s office to have my daughter’s stitches taken out. I also need to give the boys haircuts tonight. I’ve made reservations for all the cool places to eat at the Park (Rainforest Cafe, Blue Bayou in the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, and brunch with the Disney characters) but there is still so much left to do and if I don’t slow down, I’m going to forget something important; like one of the kids. (I’m joking!)

We are doing a simple family Summer Solstice observance tonight. It’s going to be hard to get the excited kids in bed at a reasonable time, but we have to get up early in the morning and head out to the airport. Nevertheless, today is a special turning point in the Wheel so we are having a small bonfire in our fire pit and do a little bit of drumming. Our outdoor altar has been set up for a few days now and we’ve enjoyed it while sitting on the porch swing listening to the rain. I am definitely going to set aside some time tonight for my personal Summer Solstice ritual and much needed meditation/downtime.

It’s recently been raining here with highs in 50’s-60’s. It feels more like April than the first day of Summer, even the nearby mountains have received several inches of snow in the past week. It’s supposed to be 108 degrees F in Anaheim today but is supposed to cool down a bit tomorrow. It’s going to be a bit of a temperature shock as we aren’t acclimated. We’ll be drinking Lots and Lots of water and spending the heat of the day in the hotel swimming pool before heading back in at night. Nighttime at Disneyland is the best because the crowds have thinned out and the lights are beautiful.

There has been a slight issue with my son being afraid to fly. His sister is excited as hell. I just want them both to enjoy their first flight. We aren’t able to sit together as a family because the seats are in rows of three. So there will be three of us together on one side of the aisle and one of us across the aisle. I told my husband that I would prefer to sit across the aisle and that I’d like to request a window seat. That may sound selfish, but I know the kids will feel safer next to their dad and I can be looking out the window as the plane taxis, speeds up, and eventually leaves the ground, watching the earth pull away in that strangely soft way, feeling a slight dip here and there as the aircraft gains altitude.

And I want to be far enough away from the kids so they don’t see me if possibly panic. For the first time ever, I’m apprehensive to fly. The last time I flew wasn’t a very good experience. It was a flight home from Alaska on a small, wobbly prop plane that felt like it had a hard time staying aloft. I knew it was silly, but it was still a very stressful experience. The only other reasons I can put together are that since that last flight 12 years ago I have had a few surgeries (one major) and I have developed claustrophobia and social anxiety disorder. Add to that I’ve been having to reassure my 8 year-old son several times a day that the plane will not crash and that no, the pilot won’t be drunk (I hope he’s not, but I will more than likely be).

I’ve already got my headphones and IPod in my purse with my most recent calming addition of “Drift” by Tonia Rose for the flight. All in all I know I’ll get a grip on things, especially the stress. To slightly paraphrase a quote from the Seven Dwarfs, …..”it’s off to work I go” so that I may relax and enjoy the experience through the eyes of my children.

Many Blessings on Your Journey )O(

The Accidental Marvel

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My youngest daughter fell off the bike at school yesterday. The class was riding on a gravel path and she rode down the hill way too fast, didn’t see the big rock coming right towards her, and…well….the result was a big, deep hole in her knee. She’s now got plenty of stitches and I must say she was pretty brave. Me, not so much. Now I’ve seen a lot of things over the years being a mom of 6, but when they started scrubbing with wadded up gauze and saline….well…they scoured her wound like I would scour my bathtub. It wasn’t a pretty sight.
On our way home from Urgent Care we stopped by and picked up her very first pair of glasses. I had gotten a phone call last Friday letting me know they were ready but I didn’t feel like I had the time to drive into town to get them. Besides, what was a few more days? She’s come this far without glasses, so what difference did it make?
Maybe the fact that she (perhaps) would have been able to actually see the rock up ahead in plenty of time.
I have felt guilty watching her limp around on a stiff leg while wearing her new glasses and then bumping into walls because her depth perception is off. It’s a good thing she has a sense of humor, otherwise I would have had a hard time keeping my laughter in-check. Shame on me, I know. But like most parents, I’ve learned to at least try and make light of minor yet unfortunate events; for the sake of all concerned, whether guilt ridden or not.

But hey, let’s not stop there. (yes, there’s more!) To help heap on the guilt, her class is heading out on an end of the school year field trip tomorrow that she has been excited about for months. The doctor wasn’t very helpful by way of opinion and told me to use my own discretion on whether or not she should go. I guess I wanted a green light. However, it’s a two hour hike including some switchbacks. I didn’t think the field trip was going to happen for her now. In fact, it was pretty obvious, I just needed to find a way to tell her that.
And there, in the midst of my dilemma, a touching moment occurred that made me take pause. While eating her cereal my daughter looked thoughtfully out the window (she had put her glasses on first thing this morning) and she said, “Momma, I never knew leaves looked like that. They are so…so vibrant!” Her statement, though a tad bittersweet, made me smile. She continued looking out the window, pointing out birds in the distance, the defined puffiness of the clouds and their trailing wisps….and on and on she went, not caring that her cereal was getting soggy.
With her big, beautiful gray eyes, she gazed upon the world with new-found wonder and curiosity. She explained to me how excited she was to see everything in a new light. To really see. She couldn’t believe how different things looked now that they were more clear. Such surprise in how blurry things were before. She just never knew.

I didn’t want to tell her the field trip was off.
My daughter’s fascination with how clearly she now saw the world reminded me of a moment we had when she was two years-old. I was holding her on my hip and we were both watching the big snowflakes land in her bare hand and I vividly remembered the way she would marvel at the sight of them melting before her very eyes. This memory made me pause. If she only knew the significance of her words. How often am I just going through the motions, not really looking at my life as I live it. The only way I really know how far my mindfulness has wandered is when I pause to refocus. To actually look in order to be aware.

I stopped emptying the dishwasher and went over and sat down next to her at the table. She came over and sat on my knee and together we looked out the window and watched the world happen. She took a big sigh and said, “I know I can’t go tomorrow, but it’s okay. I shouldn’t have gone down the hill so fast.”

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My little girl (who’s not so little anymore) has no idea how much she continues to prompt me to open my eyes and marvel at my surroundings, which at the moment included her. To see clearly not just with my eyes but with all of my senses. If I can find the patience to pause and take in all that surrounds me then the better my chances are of finding the strength to pull back on the force of my whirling world; a world that can all too easily become a blur. To remember that ‘shit happens’ but you learn from it in order to move on to the next marvel.

Many Blessing on your Journey )O(

The Gnome Project; Mother’s Day Musings

I have always said that I don’t want or need a Hallmark card or flowers for Mother’s Day because what I really want is a hug and a kiss from each of my kids. Even so, I was brought a warmed cinnamon roll to me in bed this morning along with little laminated poems my children made at school. They took great pride in their work so I read the poems out loud and shared the cinnamon roll with them.

I was then cryptically told there was one more little thing waiting for me in the dining room. I reminded them that I just wanted lots of hugs and kisses (although I must admit the cinnamon roll was a nice treat). I was shushed and told to close my eyes while I was led by little hands to the last “little thing”.

“Okay, you can look!” I opened my eyes and was immediately face to face with a 3 foot tall garden gnome standing on the dining room table staring at me. Much to the delight of my youngest children, I jumped in surprise, my hand clutching my throat, more than likely to hold back a scream. Oh but what sweetness there was in hearing them squeal in excitement and laugh at my reaction.

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One by one, my grown children came by to share a hug, kiss, and an “I love you”. One brought me a pot of tulips, (my favorite flower) another brought me a very sweet card (even though he knows how I feel about cards) along with a tiny Tarot deck (one of the itty bitty teeny ones) and a small book on mindfulness. The third one brought over Chinese food for everyone and we all shared a meal that I didn’t have to cook which was really nice. I even got a text from my oldest daughter who leads a very troubled life. It was such a relief to hear from her.

After my older kids left, I finished loading the dishwasher with the help of my two youngest. I sent them off to finish their homework as I wiped down the counters. Smiling over the events of the day, I finished up in the kitchen and rebooted the dryer. Turning to head back to the living room, I gasped, startled by the presence of The Gnome.

He has got to go.

Maybe no one was truly aware of how creepy I would find this giant garden gnome. But then again, maybe they were perfectly aware. Perhaps that was the point. I swear I saw his eyes move more than once, following me.

Since this morning I’ve been trying to think of what I was going to do with him.

I thought about chucking it into the neighbor’s yard but realized that was silly. Mostly because I knew I couldn’t throw something that heavy (this thing is ridiculously dense) at least not well enough to go over the blackberry brambles and onto the other property. And there was also a part of me that was afraid of being successful only to get up in the morning to find him sitting in the exact same spot on the dining room table (cue Psycho violin screech)
So I’m attempting to compromise, which as a mom is something I oftentimes must to do for the benefit of my children. I would hate to hurt their feelings (never-mind pissing off Mr. Gnome). I’ve been trying to think of a secluded spot for him to be placed…some hidden corner of the far garden… somewhere very, very hidden…someplace where I couldn’t see him and he most certainly couldn’t see me. Somewhere very close to the property line.

Today I’d like to acknowledge not only the loving mothers out there but all women who choose to nurture others. It matters not whether it’s people, pets, plants, or nature. Thank You just the same. Thank You for allowing the flow of love to lighten the world. Thank You for your willingness to give selflessly of yourself without demanding anything in return. Thank You for venturing forth even when you may be frightened by what you may face. Thank You for giving all that you can to create something better for someone or something else. Thank You for loving and cherishing that which you nurture, for you are the embodiment of the Great Mother Herself.

Happy Mother’s Day~ May your day be as Beautiful and Blessed as you are.

Many Blessings on your Journey )O(

The Birds, the Bees, and Fairy Beltane Blessings

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The clover has become a wonderful carpet, soft and lush, telling us it’s time to tend the Fairy Garden. So much of our little Fairy Village has taken quite a beating by the rain and winter winds. It’s time to clean up the damage and spruce up the garden in hopes of another magickal, fairy-filled summer. Of course we will keep some mud and grime because of course, fairies love that.

 

The temperatures have been very warm and mild for early spring so the daffodils and tulips have bid their farewells for the year. In their place, the air is bursting with the smell of the rosemary bushes and the lavender is ripe with unopened buds. The mint is gaining momentum, and the return of the thyme and oregano in the little herb garden is a welcome sight. I love to look up towards the heavens to see more blue skies with white puffy clouds, and then to the trees that are filling out nicely with tender new leaves.

 

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The birds are singing and the bees are buzzing keeping company with all the other miraculous living things that have come out from the shadows of winter and are ready to play. Once again a blackbird has nested in the birdhouse outside the art studio, her hungry baby birds making quite the fuss. Mamma Bird will make sure her presence is known to me if I get too close (like when I try to enter the studio). Out she’ll fly, whooshing over my head, making me jump or squeal. Sometimes both. Personally, I think she gets a kick out of scaring me.

The whimsical ringing of wind chimes mingles with the rustling sound in the cedars where squirrels dart back and forth. And then there are the wondrous, soothing night sounds of the tree frogs who are out calling again tonight. I opened all the bedroom windows to let in some cooler air and welcome the song of the frogs. My husband is out at a poker game he plays with his buddies once a month and the kids and I stayed up well past their bedtime. After realizing how late it was, we quickly brushed and flossed our teeth, fed the dog and cat, and refilled our water glasses. Then I tucked them in bed with lights out and left their windows open the cool breeze and the soft lullaby sounds of the little frogs. They’d be asleep in no time at all…

Some time later when I was about to turn out the light, the symphony of chirps and whistles was crashed by a loud, annoying toad. Well, I think it was a toad. Before I knew it my kids were climbing into my bed with me, furiously kicking their legs beneath the covers to protect them from whatever was making that loud racket. “Probably just an old toad,” I told them. But even I began to wonder…It (whatever “it” was) eventually quieted down long enough for us to drift off to sleep. I woke them when my arms began to ache beneath the weight of their ever-growing bodies. I nudged them off my bed and tucked them back into their own. We have a long day ahead of us tomorrow, what with it being the Eve of Beltane and all.

Many Blessings on your Journey )O(

Something Sweet; A Baking Tale of Woe

I will try my best to explain the painful, frustrating experience of trying to put together my daughter’s birthday cake.

And the unexpected outcome.

My youngest daughter just turned 10 and It’s a family tradition that I make everyone the cake they request on their birthday. I don’t really like to bake. It’s a science which means I have to follow some rules. I don’t like following rules. Luckily the requests that come in are usually pretty easy. However, a 10 year-old little girl is too big to want a pink princess cake again this year, but not quite old enough to realize that asking for a homemade Black Forest Cherry Cake was a little out of my comfort zone. But I knew that with some simple modifications I had this one in the bag. At least I hoped.

She must have read my mind because she pointed her finger at me with a sly smile on her face and said, “Homemade Momma. That means no Betty Crocker.” I was sure I saw a glint in her eye. Would she know? Probably. Damn. So I wasn’t going be able to get away with a boxed cake mix and can of cherry pie filling then dump it all in a bundt pan (which in my opinion is pretty good stuff). But I figured I could probably still cut a corner or two.

I inwardly cringed when she offered to help me individually pit the cherries. I thanked her but quickly pointed out (with relief) that cherries weren’t in season. She would have to settle for frozen pitted cherries in her dang cake. This was just getting worse and worse.

Did the bakery in town have Black Forest Cherry Cakes ready to go?

I was standing at the kitchen sink when I felt the warm sun peeking through the dark clouds. I closed my eyes and spoke gently to myself. “You can do this. Ground and center. Your feet are firmly planted on the earth beneath you. Feel the roots spread out from the soles of your feet…reach deep, deep into the soil and find your strength…pull that energy up through your body………

Later when I had finished gathering my wits about me, I found and read through my old recipe for the cake. Other than a boxed cake mix and canned cherries, there were a couple of other ingredients I would have to do without. Cake flour was one of them. (Do people really buy that stuff?) The other one was Kirsch, but I was the only one who would know it was missing anyway. I held onto a nearly full bottle of that stuff until about a month ago because it had done nothing but gather dust from the last time I made that cake; 14 years ago. If only I had waited a little longer because at that moment I could really have used a few shots of that stuff.

My littlest girl was turning 10 and if she wanted a Black Forest Freaking Cherry Cake then that’s what I was going to make for her; to the best of my ability. So suck it up Buttercup, I told myself.

I didn’t really believe she was expecting a perfect cake. In fact there’s probably no one who expected Black Forest Cherry Cake Perfection from me more than I expect it from myself. It’s why I cringed at the thought of making one of those cakes again in the first place.

It wasn’t going to be the end of the world if it didn’t look like a picture perfect Black Forest Cherry Cake because it might still taste good. I had to at least believe in that part.

And when things I cook or stuff that I make don’t turn out quite perfect I can usually just call them “Rustic” with some degree of success.

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So far so good…

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Smells divine!

 

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Chocolate whipped cream sounded better than just plain whipped cream for the filling. Besides, I don’t think the recipe said not to tweak the filling (where is that recipe anyway?)

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It’s taking a while. Even my faithful dog can’t wait around forever. Besides I don’t think she can stand the mess in the kitchen any longer and has decided to leave me. And lo and behold, there’s the recipe on the floor next to her. I wondered where that went…(I would eventually find it…after the cake was done).

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Not bad for the third layer. The chocolate frosting seems to be a little sticky, but I’m sure it’s fine. I’m not sure but at this point I think the recipe says I’m supposed to put one more layer of cake on. But first I must sneak a cherry. I think I deserve one.

When I was almost finished I set the cake in the fridge before the final touches because the whipped cream seemed to be getting a little warm and runny and the impromptu chocolate layer was becoming more and more sticky by the minute. I did my best not to panic reassuring myself that a little change in consistency was probably normal. While it chilled, I made some more whipped cream to frost the outside. Twenty minutes later when I removed the cake it was immediately clear that the cake wasn’t going to even come close to looking like it should. My 19 year-old son came over early for dinner and after one look at the cake said, “Oh man…well, just call it a ‘deconstructed’ Black Forest Cherry Cake.” Smartass. But wait, that was actually not a bad plan! But hope slowly faded as the cake began to fall apart even further right before our eyes. In a matter of minutes the cake had split into three uneven sections and though we did our best to try and save the dying cake, we were still quickly losing it to gravity.

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Please tell me this is all just a bad dream….

At the final attempt to push it back together I finally called it. “It’s over. We did all that we could.” I was looking through tears of frustration at the big mess and was sad that I failed my daughter’s request for a birthday cake. Never had I ever created such a mess of a cake as this. Not even close. But I sucked it up and piped on the rest of the whipped cream, filling in the holes as best as I could. I then took my nerve pain meds and went to bed with an ice pack while taking deep breaths and accepting my major screw-up.

But it was far from over. We still had to transfer the cake to the car and drive 20 minutes to my parent’s house where everyone was going to meet. (The only one that would be missing was my oldest daughter). I absolutely dreaded the unveiling of the disasterpiece so I made my husband do it.

My daughter stood next to him, excited to finally see her cake that I had spent the better part of the day on. Her sweet, accepting demeanor naturally came through because her reaction was of honesty, acceptance, and above all else, appreciation and gratitude. “That looks delicious Momma!” That’s why she’s so peculiarly amazing, my perfectly imperfect child who still comes in from playing outside with skinned knees and twigs tangled in her hair. A child with a passion for taking care of animals, and is not afraid to discuss how she feels about religion and politics with anyone who will listen. A daughter who will spend hours and hours reading, singing, or writing books about magickal animals.

The cake ended up more like a chocolate cherry/brownie (brownie because I got distracted and I think I forgot the baking soda) with chocolate frosting and whipped cream. A real mess but even I must admit, it was pretty darn good. Perfectly Imperfect. The fact there were no leftovers or any thrown in the garbage told me it wasn’t a total disaster after all.

I’ll probably keep a better eye on the recipe next time and hopefully that will make a difference.

Many Blessings on your Journey )O(

The Force of Nature

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I can’t believe that Imbolc is here which means we’re already halfway between Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox. Although it doesn’t really feel like it, the quickening of the earth has begun. To remind my kids (and myself) of this reawakening, I rummaged through the junk cabinet, you know, the one underneath the junk drawer, (no junk cabinet? I send great kudos to you, but you can’t convince me that you don’t have at least one junk drawer somewhere) and I found the crumpled paper bag at the very back. I’m not sure but I think I may have heard a chorus of angels because in that bag was the Holy Grail of possibilities and new beginnings. So out of the bag and onto the kitchen counter roll several small, strange looking brown blobs of promise.

And every year my kids will ask the same thing, “Are they dead?”

One of my favorite things to do a week or so before Imbolc is to force bulbs to grow in my kitchen window.

At the end of January that statement makes me feel so empowered! In midwinter I can’t do much of anything outside because of the thick mud and my little Summer herb garden seems like a distant memory. Sure, I’ll feed and water the houseplants but even they start to look sluggish. But believe you me, I will force those bulbs to grow!

And they do. They always do. Rain or shine, their vibrant green shoots will burst through the surface within days of planting, and before I know it they’re blooming with confidence and sheer force of will. And every year I am humbled by their elegant beauty, knowing full well I didn’t force them to do anything. I simply gave them a place to start and in return they shared their lovely blooms with me and my family.

That’s the power of Nature. All around us are reminders of Gaia’s strength, compassion, and never-ending gifts of beauty.

Many Blessings on Your Journey )O(