Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Something to Cozy Up To

We have gifted ourselves with something luxurious to ward off the winter chill. I've always wanted a fireplace in the bedroom and now I have one, albeit electric.

I associate bedroom fireplaces with rambling and romantic English manor houses. While my house does not meet this description, it's a step in the right direction.

Now.... I'll also need some tall white pillar candles, a Persian rug, and perhaps an antique wing-back chair or two to complete the picture....

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

The First Snow

It snowed last night for the first time this season--just enough to make the trees glisten and the streets slushy. Maybe two inches all told.

Alas, not enough to qualify for a paid snow-day off work. Even I, an unhappy driver in the snow, had to concede that the streets were not exactly unconquerable. Although it's sometimes amazing how a couple of inches of mucky slush is enough to stir chaos and close schools here on the West Coast. People from the Prairies just laugh at us.

It was very pretty anyway. The children at preschool enjoyed it. Well, until their mittens got soggy anyway.

Have you ever tried to wrestle twenty preschoolers into and out of snow-suits, hats, boots, the full winter-time ensemble? It takes some mental preparation.

You need to go deep inside yourself and find that small calm centre and take some deep breaths. Aaaahhhhhhh..... Ahhhh...

(AAAHHHHH!) "Where is your other boot?... Hmmm, your zipper is stuck... Who else needs to go pee?... Mittens are not for hitting. (AAAAHHHH!)

On the plus side, you are getting paid to help build a snow-man.

This is the snowy forest around our yard.

By the end of today I was weary, but I still enjoyed the walk home. More snow clouds may be gathering, but the late afternoon sun filtered through the mist and made the valley down below gorgeous and dreamy.

I live on one of many neighbourhood hills like this. My street would make such a perfect tobaggan run, don't you think?

Sunday, November 27, 2005

The Wee Folk Vs. Big Business

This is from an article from the UK newspaper "The Times" with the headline "FAIRIES STOP DEVELOPERS' BULLDOZERS IN THEIR TRACKS":

"VILLAGERS who protested that a new housing estate would “harm the fairies” living in their midst have forced a property company to scrap its building plans and start again.
Marcus Salter, head of Genesis Properties, estimates that the small colony of fairies believed to live beneath a rock in St Fillans, Perthshire, has cost him £15,000. His first notice of the residential sensibilities of the netherworld came as his diggers moved on to a site on the outskirts of the village, which crowns the easterly shore of Loch Earn.

He said: “A neighbour came over shouting, ‘Don’t move that rock. You’ll kill the fairies’.” The rock protruded from the centre of a gently shelving field, edged by the steep slopes of Dundurn mountain, where in the sixth century the Celtic missionary St Fillan set up camp and attempted to convert the Picts from the pagan darkness of superstition.

“Then we got a series of phone calls, saying we were disturbing the fairies. I thought they were joking. It didn’t go down very well,” Mr Salter said.

In fact, even as his firm attempted to work around the rock, they received complaints that the fairies would be “upset”. Mr Salter still believed he was dealing with a vocal minority, but the gears of Perthshire’s planning process were about to be clogged by something that looked suspiciously like fairy dust...."

Later in the article, a local chairman was quoted: "I do believe in fairies but I can't be sure that they live under that rock".

Apparently the local Planning Protectorate has "no specific guidelines on fairies"...

Fairies Stop Bulldozers in Tracks

I just finished reading a book written by an Irish- American couple who recently returned to their homeland as adults and they mentioned a few items of this nature. One was a farmer's field that nobody would build on because it was the location of a fairy rath (or fort).

The other case was a home renovation nightmare. Apparently a house was built too wide and blocked some sort of ancient highway used by the little folk. As long as the home encroached, the household was plagued with ill luck. Ten feet was shaved off the side of the home and refinished before things were right again.

I wonder how common this belief is nowadays in the British Isles. I remember my Irish auntie telling me that just because you don't personally believe in fairies doesn't mean you should tick them off by forgetting to put milk out for them.

Good advice, I suppose. Cover your bases. Keep on the fairies' good side. Build somewhere else.


I was cutting through a park yesterday, a beautiful place filled with oak and nut trees and peaceful small meadows, when I noticed some deer grazing nearby.

Now deer are quite commonly seen where I live, but I still get a little thrill seeing wild animals unexpectedly.

Before I left for Africa, someone assured me that when I went on safari I would soon suffer from "animal fatigue", especially in regards to gazelles and other common hoofed mammals. She was sure I'd be yawning after I saw my twentieth wildebeest. I was fairly convinced that she was wrong. Indeed she was. After all, I still reach for my camera when I see little does grazing at home.

There were six deer in this little group, and they let me get quite close. In fact, getting them to raise their heads to look in the direction of my camera proved quite a chore, as I approached them clucking and chirping softly to get their attention.

They would flick their big brown eyes up at me for an instant, and then it was back to cropping the grass.

Gardeners around these parts are not so thrilled to have the deer visit them, as they are voracious and leave very few kinds of plants un-tasted. But as my mom reflects ( when her deer visit and eat the seed out of the bird-feeders and munch on her spring flowers),they are beautiful creatures and one can always plant daffodils, which luckily they snub their noses at.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Fiesta Bazaar

It was packed downtown today. There was umpteen separate events: the local Santa Claus Parade, craft fairs, photographic exhibitions and Christmas sales.

Jeff and I made our way into this shopping scrum around one o'clock to see how his mom was doing running her Childhaven fund-raising tables at the Fiesta World Craft Bazaar.

We had to squeeze our way through the crowds, which is always a good sign when you are a vendor. We took over Jeff's mom's place while she took a little lunch break.

Oh, how I missed the indoor flea-market today! Back in the old days, when good old Norris ran the big flea-market in this very building, it was a thrilling sight for this flea-marketing girl to see a crowd like this milling about with Christmas shopping on their minds.

On the tables today there were Buddhist thangkas, Indian saris, caftans, and embroidered cushion-covers.

And check out these hats from Nepal: you'd never get lost in a crowd wearing one of these.

She made about eleven hundred dollars for the ChildHaven orphanages today. She's a whirlwind of energy and enthusiasm, is my mother-in-law. she's already into planning next years fund-raisers.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Attack of the Christmas Craft Fair

This is my cat Colby checking out my new acquisition.

I was on my way into the gym tonight when I was physically assailed by the wafting aroma of homemade mincemeat tarts in the wintry air. Oh, it smelled SOOOOO good. It turns out they were having Ye Olde Christmas Craft Fair in the downstairs part of the rec centre.

Come on", said Jeff, dragging a drooling Spider Girl up the stairs to where it smelled more like sweaty socks. "We're going to the gym, not a bake sale."

But from upstairs big floor-to-ceiling windows overlooked the merchants down below, and as I pumped iron, I scanned the booths for oh, I dunno....pottery? It is a weakness. Crocheted tea cozies and wooden knick-knacks I can resist, but I'm always on the lookout for something smooth and made of clay.

An hour later, we were downstairs buying a particular type of butter-crock that Jeff (yes, he likes pottery too) has been on the look-out for, the kind where you put water in the bottom and the butter in the top to keep it fresh.

As sugar must be thought of as the Devil's handmaiden, and the irony of eating baked goods after slaving on a rowing-machine would be strong, I resisted the tarts. But hurrah, the pottery is mine!

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Any Excuse for a Turkey Dinner

Hey, Happy (American) Thanksgiving all!

I'd been wondering why Canadians and Americans celebrated their Thanksgivings on different dates and so , when I happened upon this passage in my friend Kim's blog, I thought I should pass the information along.

She had this to say:

"Whenever I've been asked by American friends, "Why do Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving so much earlier than Americans?", I've always given the answer, "Because our harvest season comes earlier in the year. It's cold up here, y'know."

But I've been WRONG. I've been disseminating false information!

Before Confederation, the date of Thanksgiving shifted throughout the year, and had nothing to do with harvest season. So why do Canadians give thanks? The first official Thanksgiving held after Confederation celebrated HRH The Prince of Wales overcoming a terrible illness in the spring of 1872 -- thank GAWD! It must've been quite the fever, to warrant a national holiday!

Other reasons for holding Thanksgiving in Canada: Cessation of Cholera (1833), For Restoration of Peace with Russia (1856), the Coronation of King Edward VII (1902), and End of Quarantine of Ships at Grosse Isle (1834). Next year, I'll make sure to stand at the head of the table and proudly proclaim to my family how thankful I am for not having cholera, and that the Russians still haven't bombed us. That's sure to raise a few eyebrows."

Something else to raise a few eyebrows: 100 Pound Woman Wins Turkey-eating Contest

So there you have it. I hope y'all are enjoying your turkey and cranberry sauce this evening. :)

Wednesday, November 23, 2005


I saw so many skinny little cats running around on the island of Zanzibar. They were everywhere-- in the alleyways and the marketplace and the beaches. I even found nests of kittens like this one, tucked under an overhang by the overgrown ruins of a sultan's palace.

I love cats (and have two of my own--neutered and spayed) but seeing so many hungry and unwanted saddened me. It would be impossible to feed them all, but preventing the population from growing any more would be an enormous help. Alas, I'm sure the vet fees for that would be well out of reach for the average African.

But here where I live, on the west coast of Canada, the same problem exists: too many animals having kittens like crazy. And the vet fees are not very palatable for some people here either.

My friend Fireweed and her partner, both dedicated ecologists and pet-sitters, have recently formed a society called Denman Island M.E.O.W. (Make Every One Wanted) to run "cat clinics" in partnership with some local veterinarians so low-income families can have their cats neutered or spayed at a reduced rate, and also a catch-and-release program to sterilize feral cats on Denman. It's a small island so curtailing the population here is a forseeable goal.

I think it's an excellent idea, and it's been quite successful as over seventy cats have been sterilized since the end of August.

I've been out selling raffle tickets for MEOW and just sold my last one yesterday. I found it quite easy to sell them, and not just because the prizes (all made by local artisans--quilts, art prints, photography, cushions)are rather nice.

My theory is the tickets sell well because a) if a person likes cats they want to help them but b) if a person dislikes them, well, it means less cats roaming about. Something good in it for everyone.

If you are from the Vancouver Island area and plan on going to the Denman Christmas Craft Fair (Dec. 4th and 5th), you can pick up your own ticket there. :)

Monday, November 21, 2005

A Place in France by the Sea

As soon as I can figure out how I'm going to do it, I'm going to up and buy an apartment like this with a view overlooking the harbour in Nice, France.

It's priced at 125,000 euros which is still a hefty price tag for a one-bedroom apartment, but I'm used to seeing Vancouver condominium prices, so this actually sounds pretty reasonable to Jeff and I.

"Hmmmm...let's move there", we said, looking at one another. We really liked Nice. At the risk of sounding trite, it was nice. :)

I've been spending a pleasant evening looking at European real-estate pages. England and Ireland are right out of my budget's range, but France seems quite affordable as long as you don't decide to live in the Paris environs or in, say, Monaco or Cannes.

For instance, the French manor above is listed at 330,000 euros: a pretty penny, but maybe I have some friends out there who would like to go sharesies and move to France with us?

Mind you, my French is rather rusty, but c'est la vie....

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Bunnies With Big Pointy Teeth

What do you get the werewolf in your life for Christmas? Especially if she (you know who you are, dear) likes fuzzy bunnies? Why, you get her one with big pointy teeth!

(Okay, I know we don't give gifts at the Un-Christmas, but now you know what you WOULD have gotten if we were more traditional folk). :)

And for the Monty-Python fan/geek in your life (you know, ones like me who know ALL the words to the Holy Grail sketches, and understand references to the Knights Who Say Nee and the Holy Hand-Grenade of Antioch, and who will sing along to all the songs, especially if I've been imbibing a Baileys and ice-cream creation of some sort---ahhh, those were the days...), here is where you go to get one:

Run away! Run away!

A Girl with Comfortable Shoes

Ah, shoes. My friends have different tastes in shoes, as you can see. That's my leg in the foreground with the black dress and pink shoes. But this was an aberration, you see.

I just bought new shoes today. They are black and sneaker-like and delightfully-cushioned. My feet are sighing in contentment. I am a girl who wears comfortable shoes.

Tai is my friend who can wear wild shoes without being crippled in them. She buys the strappiest, pointiest, most teetering shoes she can find, and strides about in them in confidence. I DO own a pair of wild shoes..they are Italian leather and pink and delightfully head-turning (they are coveted by at least two co-workers)...but an hour tops and then I must go barefoot for a while to recover.

The exact opposite seems to be true for Tai. A few years back, the two of us went on a back-packing trip through the British Isles. We hiked and hauled our packs through the cobbled streets of England and Scotland, and up innumerable Irish staircases. There were hills and stairs everywhere. Our rooms in hostels were always twelve flights up. It was imperative that we wear practical shoes. And we did. Both of us.

But after the second day, Tai was groaning in pain and cursing her sturdy hiking boots: "Damn these practical shoes!", she shouted to the skies, rubbing her calf muscles in agony.

For you see, when you wear high-heel shoes constantly, eventually you will get to a point when your leg muscles adapt to them and any attempt to be level-headed and health-conscious about shoes goes for naught.

Luckily, Tai had brought along her heels and once she was back in them she travelled about quite well. Both sets of our feet were happy after that.

This is a picture of the feet of me and two friends. Any guesses who's wearing the red shoes?

Friday, November 18, 2005

November in the Garden

This time of year any sunny hour in the garden has to be seized. There's so much work to be done. But it hasn't been too sunny around these parts lately, alas. The West Coast is gorgeous but it can also be a squishy bog.

Most of the autumn it's too dark in the morning to go out and dig in the dirt before work. Nor am I inclined to go out into the cold morning when I'm cozily drinking my tea in my warm kitchen.

Then, by the time I'm finished at work and pick up Jeff, it's five o'clock and dark comes down early. Drat you, Daylight Savings Time!

But the last two afternoons combined glorious sunshine and a slightly different work schedule. I threw myself at the garden: ripping out creeping ranunculus and cutting back shaggy stems. I even deemed it productive to rake the leaves from under the trees now that only a few leaves cling to the tops.

My pile of Weeds-to-Be-Composted-at-the-Dump is getting impressive again.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Fifty is Not Old For a Tree

(This is a picture of an ancient tree in Stanley Park in Vancouver. It's still there, you can walk inside it.)

A good friend of mine has turned fifty with much grace and fanfare. "After all", she laughed, "Fifty is not old...for a tree".

A group of friends (all women) toasted her new decade by drinking champagne and eating chocolate in a hot-tub, while a November storm blew around us and the blue herons called from the beach down below. We toasted the mothers who gave birth to us: after all, THEY are the ones who did all the work on our original birthday.

Afterwards, climbing steaming from the wonderful water, we ate fantastic food as we sat by the roaring fireplace. We were a scandalously-clad bunch, clad in towels, and er, less than towels. One woman wore flannel bunny pyjamas and felt she was overdressed somehow.

"I've never been at such a informally attired dinner party", I had to admit.

We talked long into the night, this wonderful group of women and I. Not a person in the house except for me was younger than forty-nine. They were all beautiful, strong, talented women..and proud to be their age. It was refreshing.

Two nights ago I was at another birthday party. It was fun, grandly fun, but one thing puzzled me. Everybody there thought they were old. This time, the birthday girl was turning thirty-one, and the guests ranged in age from early twenties all the way up to..well, let's just say I was the most elderly thing alive in the room at age thirty-three.

There was much talk of aging and wrinkles and the horror of being called a "cougar", an older woman trying to date younger men.

I wanted to say, nay, DID say: good lord, people! you are NOT old! This is the prime of our lives and it's getting better and better. We have such potential.

Monday, November 14, 2005

The Hobbit from My Childhood

Long ago, when I was quite a young child, an auntie and uncle of mine gave my brother and I a marvellous gift: it was "The Hobbit" by J.R.R. Tolkien on cassette tape.

We listened to it over and over--it was eight tapes in all. I have memories of lying in my bed, sick at home from school, listening to the adventures of Bilbo and Gandalf and Thorin Oakenshield for hours and hours.

It got so that my brother and I could quote great long passages from this story; we knew the poetry and the conversation, and even the riddles of Gollum by heart. We listened to it so much that eventually the tapes grew garbled...and eventually broke or were lost over time.

Since then I've searched for that Hobbit story on tape or CD. There are many versions and I did not know the name of the talented narrator (one man did all the voices). No other version would do.

Then this weekend a friend from Vancouver visited and brought his Laptop- Computer- Full -of -Wonders over so we could do a bit of file-sharing. He mentioned that somebody had shared the "The Hobbit" with him, and would I like it?

He started to play it and a familiar voice from my childhood began to speak: "...It was a Hobbit Hole..and that means Comfort..."

I could have cried with joy. Even after all these years I can still listen to it and know the words even before the narrator speaks them.

I think my brother will be happy too.

Sunday, November 13, 2005


I went to a concert of the Cantiamo Chamber Ensemble this past week with my mother.
I've been to many, many Cantiamo concerts and have always appreciated the beauty of their voices.

The last two years I've volunteered as a serving wench at their annual medieval event. The choir sings Italian canticles and love songs from the Middle Ages and jugglers and fire-eaters entertain the dinner guests.

It's worth carrying precarious plates loaded down with the messy leavings of food like venison and quail up and down the creaky staircases of the hall to hear this gorgeous music. And it's worth doing loads and loads of greasy dishes to listen to them rehearse in the room next to the kitchen, primping in their medieval finery. (I should add that if I didn't volunteer I probably wouldn't get to go, as tickets sell out so fast.)

This season's concert(not the medieval event, more of a pre-Christmas theme) was a smaller affair, held in a local church, but was as usual sold-out. Mom and I still got good seats. Tonight's music choices were mainly old Christian spirituals sung gloriously in Latin, pieces like "Plorate Fili Israel" and "Kyrie" and "Os Justi". I've always thought that the best part of going to church was listening to the music.

I sometimes think that if I could change one thing about myself it would be to have a beautiful singing voice. It would be marvellous to open your throat and have melodious songs flowing out without effort.

I used to belong to a church choir, long ago in my high-school days. I wasn't part of the church; I just liked to be part of the music.

I was one of the very few girls who sang in the alto section. Alas, what this mostly meant was I couldn't carry a high note to save my life. I claim kinship with the mystical but croaky songs of the crows and ravens in this regard.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

You Can See My House From Space

I said to a friend recently, "The vacant lot across from my house has been cleared. They're going to build new houses where my blackberry bushes used to be."

She replied, "I know. I noticed that on a satellite image of your neighbourhood."

Could it be true? Could my friend keep tabs on me from outer space? Yes, apparently she can.

The above picture shows my neck of the woods. The big pale shaped box-like thing near the top and in center is the new monster-sized house going in across the stree from me.

I downloaded the free version of Google Earth tonight and have spent a giddy evening soaring and sight-seeing over my town (well, virtually anyway)...ooh, look there's the bridge! There's the college! Hey, what's that lumpy thing? Is this my street? Is that my house?

I could actually see a red car parked out in front of my workplace.

You can also zoom in on other places in the world---the Eiffel Tower, the Great Pyramids, the Hoover Dam, that little restaurant in Italy you remember so fondly, secret UFO landing-sites..the possibilities are endless.

It's a little spooky. This is the basic FREE version, remember. I'm sure the governments of the world shell out a few extra dollars for the upgraded version. I think spies may have it easier nowadays with this new sort of technology.

They can probably zoom in on license plates. They can probably tell you haven't cut your lawn in a while. You may THINK nobody's watching you scratch your bum...

Give them time and they'll know what colour tooth-brush we're using.

Heh heh, just a little healthy paranoia to go with my new toy. :)

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


I am reading Mary Roach's "Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife".

After enjoying her first book, "Stiff: The Curious Life of Human Cadavers" (decapitations! decomposition!) so much, I was looking forward to her next one, and so far (page 143) it hasn't disappointed. Although the subject matter is a little more esoteric than physical, the same curiousity, humour, and attention to historical trivia and gory/morbid detail are present.

Sample chapter titles:

*You Again (a visit to the reincarnation nation)

* How to Weigh a Soul (What happens when a man (or a mouse, or a leech) dies on a scale

* Hard to Swallow (The giddy, revolting heyday of ectoplasm)

* Chaffin vs. the Dead Guy in the Overcoat: (In which the law finds for a ghost, and the author calls in an expert witness)

I'm really going to have to obtain these two books for my own book-shelf. I was talking on the phone with my mother tonight and I mentioned how much I was enjoying Mary Roach's latest. She asked if I owned a copy of "Stiff" yet, and seemed incredulous when I admitted I didn't have a copy.

Yes, it DOES seem like a book I should own. Er, Christmas is coming...anybody?


I walked into a house the other day and the first thing I saw was a stuffed owl hanging from the ceiling. Startling, no?

It was suspended from a string and twirled slowly around in the breeze from the window, giving one the impression it was circling and watching for prey.

There was definitely a predatory-bird theme going on in this lady's house: Sculptures of eagles. Hawks carved in wood on the coffee table. Beaks and claws in the art on the walls.

I don't know her personally, but from the sounds of it (and her brochure) she is a new-agey hands-on type healer who likes angels.

Strange, but I'm getting a different impression of her persona from her house....

I wonder what my house says about me? Does it reflect me?

Does your house reflect you?

Monday, November 07, 2005

A Beach Walk at Dawn

I had the good fortune to miss the last ferry back home from Denman Island the other night, and so was there in a gorgeous little cabin on the ocean when this dawn came along. No pyjamas, no toothbrush, and only a misty sunlit beach, a cozy woodstove, and organic blueberry pancakes to comfort me.

Sunday, November 06, 2005


I just learned today that Bentley has passed away. I will miss many things about him.

I will miss having him grandly stomp over me as I sleep over on Tai's sofa.

I will miss his distinctive kitty sounds.

I will miss stroking his jaunty, crooked tail.

I will miss knowing a cat who patiently puts up with anything.

I will miss his pacifist, non-squirrel-eating ways.

I will miss him because he has always been there for my friend Tai, as no other fellow in her life has been.

He was a beautifully large cat: large in belly, large in personality, and VERY large in the hearts of the people who knew him.

Goodbye Bentley.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Time to Feed the Birds

The dreary November weather is here and our bird feeder needs to be refilled every day or so. They are all messy tiny brown birds that live in the enormous shrub outside our kitchen window. They adore to burrow into the seed with their little beaks and cheerfully throw it into the air and onto the porch as much as actually eat it. They are sparrows and finches, I think. I think of them fondly as LBJ's.

I met an elderly gentleman once, in a park in England, and inquired about the little birds I saw fluttering in the hedges.

"Oh, aye, I know them", he grinned. "Those are LBJ's". And what kind were those, I asked, intrigued.

"Little Brown Jobs", he answered. And so they are, all the ones that come to my kitchen window.

I included some pictures in this post which are exactly unlike my LBJ's. I saw these ones on my trip to Kenya this September: a little red fire finch which wanted to steal my cake, a brilliant blue-sheened superb starling (nothing like the Noth American version), and the nest of a weaver-bird, which is brilliantly yellow, but eluded my photo.

If I lived there, I'd have a lot of bird-feeders up in my yard, I'm sure. :)

Friday, November 04, 2005

Buying Experiences

I spent another half hour clearing out another cupboard last night--about half of it I could cheerfully part with.

Anybody need some canning jars? Me, I'll probably cheerfully go to my grave before I actually do any canning of homemade preserves. :)

I've been reading some books to inspire me to rid myself of clutter, and last night's bathtub-reading quoted from a book by Stuart Wilde called "Infinite Self". They were words from a chapter called "Hold on to Nothing". Ahem, the chapter title does not come close to describing me yet, but I liked the spirit of it:

"The whole function of money is not to have it; its function is to use it. The main reason for generating money is to buy experiences. You want to get to the end of your life with zilch in the bank, and look back and say, "My God, look at this huge pile of experiences..."

I like the thought of that. Although the practical side of me still plans to have leftovers from a comfortable retirement fund as well as having had lots of world trips and theatre nights under my belt when I hit age ninety-five.

What do you think is better? Money to buy things you can have and hold, or money to buy "experiences"?

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Xylophone and King Dream

I was invited out to another post-Halloween Day of the Dead celebration last night, but when I got off work too late to catch the ferry over to Denman Island where it was being held, I felt a little bit relieved. I was still tired from the night before and was feeling a little homebody-ish.

There was also the possibility of missing the last ferry back to MY island at the end of the night, and as I work the next day, this would not be a good thing. And I hate having to leave at ten o'clock from something like this.

So in lieu of more spooky celebrations (yes, I think I'm done for a while), I puttered around the house cleaning out cupboards, and then retired to the bathtub to read more of "Lost Souls", a horror novel by Poppy Z. Brite with punked-out white-trash vampires who get drunk a lot and eat Twinkies in between killing hitch-hikers.

And then I went to bed and had this dream:

My friend Tai was playing in a concert in Canterbury Cathedral in England (where we once attended a service about six years back on a back-packing trip). She was playing the xylophone, and was actually a famed xylophone player!

The King of England was attending the concert, and so I was very excited about going and getting a good seat. I sat down in one place, and it felt too crowded, so I moved to another spot which was also not satisfactory. Finally, I just leaned against the end of a pew.

An old fellow wearing a crown was sitting there and while we waited for the music to begin, we started to chat. He was very interesting and was reading a book on Canadian history so I was able to hold up my end of the conversation.

As we continued to talk, something tickled at the edge of my mind. This guy seemed so familiar...ah...yes..the crown. He was the King. Heh.

When everybody stood up at the beginning of the concert to acknowledge him, he chuckled to me and said, "Don't worry,you're already standing."

Tai played the xylophone most excellently in my dream, by the way. :)

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Bonfires and Labyrinths

I hope everyone had a great Halloween! :)

I celebrated with a bonfire, drumming, singing, tarot cards, parsnip and apple soup, pomegranates,and, best of all...walking a labyrinth.

The celebration I attended was held in a star-lit meadow surrounded by cedar trees. We had all walked through the damp forest by the light of lit pumpkins and pottery lanterns. The mist swirled and pooled atmospherically round our feet as we gathered at the labyrinth.

The pattern was created on the ground by thousands of oyster shells and must have taken a lot of effort to create. It was at least fifty feet across and the shells seemed to glow a brilliant white even without a moon.

We walked and meditated on those who have passed away in the past year, remembering our dead loved ones and our ancestors too. For one friend I came with whose mother passed away suddenly and recently, this was especially powerful.

We began in a circle around the labyrinth's edge and then one by one silently followed the maze's path. Following the glowing pathways in the dark, one began to feel almost disembodied. I thought of my grandmother, I thought of friends who I miss, I contemplated my own mortality. It was a very special way to walk and think.

With the mist swirling and our winter-cloaked figures silhouetted against the trees, we would have looked at home wandering in a gothic painting.

But, magical though it was, I really needed to warm up by the fire afterwards and quaff lots of hot apple cider. Communing with your ancestors is chilly work and I plan to wear thicker socks next time I celebrate Halloween outdoors.

This is a link to a virtual give you an idea of the path.

P.S. As someone was curious about the image at the top of my post, it is a medieval labyrinth pattern I found on the internet, similar to the one I walked, but I'm not sure what the wolf and the fellow with the sword are up to. Hopefully, peaceful contemplation, but you should really leave your sword home for that sort of thing. :)