Saturday, October 31, 2009

Remembering Gram on Samhain

Every year for Samhain I create a special ancestor altar to honor all of my beloved dead, but this year I did something a little different. This year I created an altar honoring just one specific relative-- my Gram, who died last June.

Gram was the last grandparent I had, all my other grandparents died when I was still in my teens. Although I grieved for her at the time of her death, the trip back to Iowa for her funeral seemed almost unreal. I wondered if the reality of losing her would hit me harder at Samhain, when I remember my beloved dead, and it has. And so, to say a final goodbye, I created a very personal altar in her honor.

I gathered all the photos I had of her and chose my favorites. Photos of her as an infant, a toddler, a teen, a young married woman, a grandmother. For an altar cloth, I used the quilt with embroidered panels that she made for me when I went away to college. I also included a couple of framed cross stitch pieces she made for me to decorate my home with after I was married.

The dress is one of her calico house dresses from the around 1950's. I found it in the attic back when I was in college and used to wear it myself-- with white lace tights, Madonna-style. I can still remember Gram shaking her head and saying, "Why you want to wear that old, ugly thing is beyond me." My Gram was a lady who always had a linen handkerchief in her pocketbook or tucked up her sleeve, so I included one of her monogrammed hankies and another with a lace edge on her altar, too.

Gram used to have a little sun room in her house that had window shelves full of African violets. I got my love of African violets from Gram and so of course her altar had to have a couple of those lovely, blooming plants. I put each one in a milk-glass pot just like she always had them. After her funeral, I brought home half a dozen milk-glass pots from her sun room.

The baby-doll was a gift from Gram and Grampie when I was just a little girl. Gram and my Great-Aunt Phyllis made and entire wardrobe for her-- embroidered nightgowns and rompers and dresses-- even a little wool coat and hood. The bible is Grampie's, which always sat on one of the end tables in their living room.

The cookie jar is part of the set of cannisters I have in my kitchen that used to be in Gram's. The cookie cutters are ones from Gram's kitchen too, and I remember lots and lots of sugar cookies that were made with those cookie cutters.

The only items on the altar not tied directly to Gram are the tarot cards I picked-- Death (end of a cycle), The Sun (joy), the 6 of cups (nostalgia), 10 of cups (family celebration) and 10 of pentacles (family traditions).

Creating this altar brought up a lot of emotions and brought back lots of memories. It has been a bittersweet experience. And, in remembering Gram the best way I know how, a healing one.

May the blessings of Samahin be upon you.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Wishcasting Wednesday: Treats

Each week, Jamie Ridler Studios hosts Wishcasting Wednesday.

You can be a maker of magic and a tender of wishes. It’s easy. Answer the wish prompt on your blog and leave a direct link HERE. Support wishes by visiting other participants, leaving a comment saying “As (insert name) wishes for her/himself, so I wish for her/him also.” It’s that simple. There is great power in wishing together.
This week's prompt asks:


At the risk of sounding superficial and frivolous... a treat I've always wanted is a professional manicure. Yes, really.

I've struggled with biting my nails my whole life. When my nerves kick in or my fingers feel dry and rough, I can chew my nails and the skin around them until they are mangled and bleeding without even realizing it. When I was younger, I tried putting bitter stuff on my nails, sitting on my hands, wearing gloves... As a child I frequently heard, "Get your fingers out of your mouth." I was always embarrassed and ashamed to be caught chewing my fingernails, yet I couldn't seem to help it.

This is about as good as they ever get.

The older I get, the better I've been about leaving them alone, yet its still a struggle. My nails are soft and weak and tear easily; my cuticles tend to be dry and hard and ragged. I don't want long and glamorous nails-- in fact, I prefer to keep them short since they're not very strong, and long nails get in the way when working with clay, leaving little crescent moons everywhere on my creations.

But I really crave short, even, neat fingernails. I try my best to manicure them myself, but I would love the treat of several professional manicures in a row, including paraffin waxes to smooth away my rough cuticles. I've always admired and envied anyone with nice, neat, buffed fingernails. I don't want anything fancy, I just want fingernails that look well-cared for. After all the abuse I've put mine through, it would be lovely to have nice looking hands for a change.

What treat do you wish for?

Saturday, October 24, 2009

A Sad Goodbye

This week the sad news filtered through our pagan community that Lake Wellington, a long time location for three different yearly pagan retreats-- as well as a very popular primitive mountain campground, is closing.

The original news was that it had become too popular and was being closed just for the winter to give the lake and surrounding land a resting period, however... a notice went out a few days ago that everything from the campground and camp store is being sold this weekend-- the rental boats, camp gear, campers, trailers, and personal items from the caretakers who lived at the lake and have been told they must move-- so it seems that the lake will no longer be available to the public as a campground anymore. Rumor has it that it will become developed for housing.

I am torn. Part of me would like to go to the sale for the express purpose of seeing the lake one more time and saying a personal goodbye. And yet, I think it would be too sad to see everything being sold off. Nor do I know that I'd even be allowed to get any closer to the lake than the view from the camp store.

I feel regret now that I did not attend any of the pagan retreats held there this past summer. It was my choice, and at the time it was what I felt was best for me. But I never imagined that I would be giving up my last chance to see the lake.

Although I'm fully aware that its communing with my pagan friends that makes the retreats so meaningful, nevertheless, I will miss this beautiful, magical lake that has been such a big part of my summers over the years.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Feline Friday: Fall Foliage

Before we had our first freeze, the tree in our front yard was turning the most vibrant shade of yellow. A nice backdrop for the kittens in the window, who were watching the chaos in our front yard as we had some construction done on the drive, stoop and walkway.

Kitties watching the workmen...

Kitties watching me watching them watching the workmen...

And so on and so forth...

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Afternoon Tarot Study

Got together today with my Ya-Ya Sistahs for lunch and tarot practice and we had a good time, as always.

I brought two decks with me to use; my trusty Robin Wood tarot, which I find easy to read and understand, and my Pearls of Wisdom tarot, the deck I got for my birthday and am totally in love with. I've decided I really want to learn to read with this deck, its so lush and detailed and I think it will be excellent for readings because there is so much symbolism in each card. Most of my fellow readers who see this deck feel its too bright, too detailed and too... well... psychedelic-- but I tend to like highly colorful and detailed decks; I feel I get more out of them when reading because no matter how many times I might draw the same card, I usually see a new symbol or detail which gives me a deeper interpretation of its meaning.

For our first exercise, we each did a practice reading using a spread from the Complete Book of Tarot Spreads. I just recently found this book and I really like it, lots of good exercises and useful spreads. I did a 9 card spread on self-definition, with some interesting cards appearing for my answers. It was quite accurate (the cards always are) but I'd like to take a little more time exploring in depth what came up, I think there's lots of good information for me that I didn't have time to really delve into during our practice time.

Our next exercise came from the same book-- we went through our decks and drew all the cards we disliked or that made us uncomfortable for whatever reason. Then we compared which cards we drew-- and for the majority of the cards, we all chose the same ones-- I.E., we all had The Tower, 3 of Swords, 9 of Swords, 10 of Swords, 5 of Pentacles, etc. So then we each shared what it was about the card we didn't like-- the message, the artwork, etc. Each of us was using a different deck, so it was interesting to compare the similarities or differences in the same cards.

Then we looked at the cards we'd drawn that we didn't have in common and discussed why we'd chosen them. For instance, I was the only one who had the 4 of Pentacles, which in the Robin Wood deck just expresses isolation and misery to me as well as possessiveness and greed.

This whole exercise was really fascinating and generated lots of good discussion. It was also interesting to note that the number of cards I drew depended on my deck. There were more cards in the Robin Wood deck that I disliked/made me uncomfortable than in the Pearls of Wisdom-- almost twice as many!

We had some competitive fun for our last exercise. We used a deck we're all familiar with (Rider-Waite) and threw down each card one by one. The first person to shout out a correct keyword/phrase, won the card. After we'd gone through the whole deck, we counted cards to see who had the most. Darling kicked butt-- she won 45 cards out of 78! I had a total brain cramp, I only won 13 cards. I definitely know what I'll be working on-- my keywords and phrases for each card.

I love tarot study with the Ya-Ya's. We always have such a good time and I always come away feeling like I've learned something. Who says study time has to be boring?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Creating Comfort Food

Cold, wet weather is here! And that means its time for a little comfort food. This is a recipe I've had for so long I can't remember how I first got it. No, its not the healthiest thing in the world, but if you're needing a creamy, filling, comforting dish-- its definitely got all that.


1 lb. frozen tator tots
1/8 C melted butter
1/2 C chopped onion
1/2 can cream of chicken soup
1/2 C sour cream
1/8 tsp pepper
3/4 C shredded cheese
1/2 C milk
1/2 of a ham steak, diced

1. Thaw potatoes in greased casserole dish.

2. Mix diced ham in with potatoes.

4. Mix butter, onion, soup, milk, sour cream & pepper. Pour over potatoes.

5. Top with cheese.

6. Bake 350* F for 1 hour.


Friday, October 16, 2009

Feline Friday: Where the Hell is Sassy?

This week's Feline Friday is inspired by Mrs. B's kitty, Tanner, star of the "Where the Hell is Tanner?" chronicles.

Only in our household we beg the question: Where the hell is Sassy?

Oh, there she is. Evidently inspecting the dishwasher to make sure its properly loaded.

It all looks good. Activate wash sequence in 3...2...1...

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Stumbling Along

For the past year or so, I have really been stumbling along my pagan path. There is no doubt about it, I am still a pagan and nothing is going to ever change that-- its in my heart and soul, my bones and blood. But I am really reassessing my path, and not sure where I am headed with my spirituality lately.

I used to be a solitary and all was good. Then I met many other pagans in our thriving community, and I started to do more group oriented rituals and celebrations. Group dynamics, however, are a beast, which is why I'm back to being mainly a solitary again. Sort of. There is potential for a small sisterhood of three-- my lovely Ya-Ya friends... having been burned in the recent past, I am treading carefully. But I do love those two women, so who knows what will happen? I am trying to let the Universe guide me.

In order to reconnect with my path, I started taking Wiccan Spirituality "classes" last month. An opportunity was presented to be able to learn from an elder in the pagan community, a woman I highly respect, and I had to jump at the chance. While I am coming to the conclusion that Wicca is not really my path, I hope to learn a great deal from my teacher; if nothing else, I love having the opportunity to get to know her better! She is a true spiritual beacon of light. And I believe this year of teachings with her will help me reconnect with my pagan path, whatever form of paganism that may be.

Last night's class was a wonderful discussion about connecting with the earth and its cycles, something I've felt disconnected with the past couple of years. But now I realize I'm not as disconnected as I thought, that I am still in tune with the tides. And I have hope that I can nuture that bond so that it is strong again, even stronger than before.

What is best about it all is that I have hope once again. I know I'm not lost, just stumbling around a bit.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Feline Friday: Togetherness

Well... sort of...

Moose, Sassy and TwoDot are getting more comfortable with each other. They started out with posturing and hissing, moved on to sniffing each other's behinds, now they tentatively touch noses.

Napping on the couch together... sort of...

TwoDot really likes Moose and wants to be friends, she will try to rub against him when walking by or try leaning on him when napping. Moose always looks startled, he has no idea how to react and isn't used to having his space invaded. But we have seen him (very briefly) groom TwoDot a couple of times. Moose and Sassy still aren't quite sure what they think of each other, but they do touch noses and Sassy has tried rubbing her head against his a few times (Moose pulls away looking suspicious).

As we'd hoped, Moose is beginning to play with them. Mostly he watches the kittens' wild rampaging with a look of amazement, but from time to time he joins in the game of chase and tumble, especially with TwoDot.

Sassy & Moose, comtemplating a twist of paper together.

The other night, the three of them had us rolling with laughter. We have those cat toy wands-- a strip of fabric with a cluster of feathers on one end and an plastic stick on the other so that you can flick the feathers around for the kitties to chase-- and it had been lying neglected on the couch. TwoDot discovered it, seized the feathered end and strutted off with her prize, pulling the wand end behind her. Sassy saw the wand trailing behind TwoDot and ran after it, swatting. Moose saw Sassy following TwoDot and the wand and he became curious, so he started following Sassy. TwoDot didn't want any other kitty to take her mouthful of feathers from her, so she just kept walking around and around the house dragging the rest of the toy behind her... with Sassy and Moose following. It was HILARIOUS-- we had a little kitty train going from room to room, winding around the furniture!

We're having so much fun watching their relationship develop; more adventures to come, I'm sure!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

31 Days of Halloween Giveaway Today

Have you joined the fun at Confessions of a Pagan Soccer Mom yet? Every day this month, Mrs. B is hosting the ultimate Halloween blog party--

There are giveaways from talented artists, the haunted blog tour, guest blogging on all things Halloween, Halloween crafts, decorating ideas, recipes and MORE!

And TODAY ONLY, this unique Electric Elemental Spirit box from me here at Into the Dawn is just one of SIX free giveaways! All you have to do to enter to win is visit Mrs. B's and join in the fun! Good luck!

EDITED TO ADD: Congratulations to Angela, winner of the Electric Elemental Pentacle box! I hope you will enjoy owning this unique and useful little box. I will pop it in the mail to you just as soon as I get your mailing information.

And a BIG Thank You to everyone who joined in the contest! I can't tell you how much fun it was for me to be on the giving end and how much I appreciate all the positive feedback about my items. And thanks to all who joined my FB fan page for Into the Dawn Designs, and to all the new followers of my blog. You're all awesome!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Double Award

I've been given a blogging award, not once, but twice! Thank you, Nydia from Bringing Up Salamanders and M. from Wandering Soul for this award. I'm thrilled that you both thought of me!
The rules:
1. Thank the person who gave this to you.
2. Copy the logo and place it in your blog.
3. Link the person who nominated you.
4. Name 7 things about yourself that no one would really know.
5. Nominate seven 'Kreativ Bloggers'
6. Post links to the seven blogs you nominate
7. Leave a comment on each of the blogs letting them know you nominated them

Hmmm... 7 things about myself that no one would really know....
  1. I color my hair because my natural hair color DOESN'T look natural on me. Plus, I love being a red-head.
  2. I've been a nail-biter my whole life, although the older I get, the less I'm biting them. But I still struggle with this bad habit.
  3. If I find a craft I like, I tend to teach myself: crochet, polymer clay techniques, Chinese knotwork, Celtic knotwork, glass etching, wheat weaving, calligraphy...
  4. I don't like blank walls; I have to decorate them with pictures, shelves, vintage china plates, floral decor...
  5. I loooooooove scary movies, but if it's really scary, I have to hide my eyes.
  6. Vintage dolls creep me out. Same with clowns.
  7. My husband is 5 years younger than I am. ;-)
Now to nominate 7 other Kreativ Bloggers:
  1. Merily at Elbit Blog
  2. Creative sisters at Threads of Magique
  3. M.E. at One Swaying Being
  4. Coltpixy at Coltpixy
  5. Dora at Dora's Explorations
  6. Kathleen at Whimsigals
  7. Dori at Sassy Clay Creations