Friday, February 26, 2010

Power Failure

We lost power pretty early in the storm so we had plenty of hours of daylight to collect all the needed supplies for the long dark night that lay ahead of us. Thank goodness for our wood stove which kept us really warm. We all slept in the living room and went to bed at 7:30 (I passed out at 8pm!)

Monday, February 22, 2010

Sap is running!!!

A sure sign of spring.
We drank the sweet cold water and listened to the plink plink of the drips hitting the bucket after we picked Georgia up from school.

Saturday, February 20, 2010


Singing lullabies to the children and taking Music Together classes has been an amazing part of motherhood for me. I can sing in public now; I'm not shy and awkward like I used to be. I like my voice fine, which feels really good. When Lily was born I consciously sat down and thought of the songs I wanted to sing her. It was really important to me that I be a lullaby-singing mother.
I loved the scene in Raising Arizona where Holly Hunter is singing "Down in Willow Garden" to the stolen baby! Loved it! I wanted to sing songs like that and so I did (although I try to keep murder out of it)

I sang Joan Baez songs like "Wagoner's Lad" and "The Trees They Grow High" and Hey, Hey Watenay/ Walk in Beauty" and "Blackjack Davey" from Sally Rodgers along with traditional lullabies like "Rock a bye baby", "Pretty Little horses" and "Lullaby and Goodnight"
Georgia loved "My Bonnie lies over the Ocean" so I sang that thousands of times and We got some new ones from the Music Together collection like "Raisins and Almonds" and "Hush a Bye"

I was thinking I'd like to start singing even more. The children don't always want my lullabies anymore and I was missing that daily singing. I mentioned to our violin teacher that I might want to sing when I play the fiddle wondering what she might recommend. She just told me to start singing and if I had questions I could come to her. Hmmmm. It's so funny how much I want instruction or validation before I start something new, but there you have it. Try singing.

So, today I was singing a song as Lily and I put our violins away after a practice and I was really enjoying myself. I discovered the singer Susannah Park at the revels this year and I got 2 of her cds. Her voice is clear and gorgeous. As I was singing this song that she sings

Lily looked uncomfortable and said, quietly but insistently enough I had to stop singing,
"Mama! Mama!" "Then she continued, "When you sing that song; it makes me feel sick, you know, like I have hair in my mouth."

I laughed. For a while. Shoots of growth and confidence grow in the act of mothering, but when that growth is reflected back to the children who helped create them, they sometimes reject it! Denounce the very thing they inspired!

Later when I told Rob what she had said and he was shaking his head with a chuckle, she admitted to me, "I actually just wanted you to stop singing. I wasn't going to throw up."

I was relieved she hadn't actually had a visceral gagging reaction. But she must have thought I wouldn't stop unless she was going to puke. And she might have been right.....

Friday, February 19, 2010

Decanting Balsalm OIl

I've had big jars of Balsalm branches from our no-spray Christmas tree soaking in olive oil for months.

I got an email in January from Heidi (who designed by beautiful label) saying she wanted to make me a price list with some crows in the background.

A price list!
Hmm but that would imply I had a variety of product AND that I was going to sell it.

I sent her a whiny email about never having sold stuff before, not knowing how much to charge and having difficulty making time to pull it all together.

She sent me back:
just do it. :-) -xoh


Then on Friday morning my friend called and asked if she could purchase a bottle of massage oil! She wondered how much they cost. She had used up the one I gave her for Christmas as a gift and wanted more! She asked about my different varieties. I was flabbergasted. I've given things away for years and no one has never asked for a refill. Or offered to pay for it. "We loved it." She said, "We'd like some more. Can I pick it up this weekend?" I had a customer. An eager customer!

My sister was here on Friday so she watched the girls while I pulled out the big bottles from the pantry where they had been steeping. There were little waxy balls all over the needles when I first took them out. They melted as the jars sat out on the warm counter. I don't know if it was the olive oil made solid by the cold cabinet or if that was the actual sap emerging from the needles, but it looked really cool.
As it warmed the oil turned a lovely deep green. I poured all the delicious smelling oil into a saucepan while the pretty blue bottles sterilized on the stove in boiling water.

Then I poured the green oil into the bottles and capped them up. I love looking at them all tidy and filled with good stuff.

Then I put them upstairs on my Reiki crystal grid with my "Language of Light Master crystal" and charged them up with loving healing power, sunshine and light.

Tonight I labeled 8 of them and put on pretty bows. I was trying to figure out what to write on the label so I looked up balsalm on-line and was pleased to discover its wonderful healing attributes.

Here is a blurb from
"There is some evidence now that the “liquid gold” referred to in the Bible was none other than Balsam, an oil fit for kings and royalty. It was one of the three oils found in King Tutankhamun’s grave in 1922 and it is now thought that balsam was the “Balm of Gilead.” Balsam has been used for thousands of years as a medicinal oil for respiratory and muscular and rheumatic pain. Balsam Fir is mentioned 18 times in the Bible. Balsam fir has been used for respiratory and muscular system ailments. Hildegard of Bingen referred to balsam and said it was of royal nature and advised that it ought to be used as a medicine with great caution because it was so powerful. She used it for fevers, for paralysis, and for someone who was insane by making an ointment with it and rubbing it on their temples and around the head to restore their mind and good health.

Modern Use: Balsam fir has proved to be an anticoagulant and an anti-inflammatory. It is used by many massage therapists because it is a relaxant to the nervous system and to muscle spasms. Balsam can lower cortisol levels. Studies have shown that balsam will inhibit MCF7- (Aggressive Breast Cancer cells). Balsam fir is anti-inflammatory."

I'm going to put a little selection of massage oils, dream pillows and therapy pillows together and bring it to a few local shops. Yikes! And I am working on the price list, Heidi.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Home to winter woods

Lovely to be home and hear the familiar sounds of evening at home.

Train Whistle
Church Bells

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Rob and Me to NYC

Rob and I went away this weekend to New York City. It was our 20th, yes 20th! anniversary. We eloped on our 10 year anniversary. I wish I had a scanner; I would show you a photo of us in with the Justice of the Peace in New Orleans in the sunshine, looking younger.

This weekend we left the kids in the care of my parents and went to the city for 3 days and 2 nights. We stayed at Hotel 17 near Union Square that has a lovely elevator and lobby. The shared bathrooms are clean and make me feel like I'm in Europe with the polite notes to flush only toilet paper in 4 different languages on the brass plaque fixed to the back of the door.

Here is Rob's meticulous map marked with eating spots he writes down after he reads wonderful things about them. He has this system because years ago we went to New York and had a scattered trip with way too much walking and shitty food because we didn't really know where to eat. I didn't want to go back. Last year Rob convinced me that we could have a fun focused time and not walk 8 million miles and he was right, so we were back for more.

We each had our pilgrimages. He wanted Stumptown Coffee. It is supposed to be the best coffee in New York. He got carried away and said the best in the world. It was a sweet spot. The coffee was a bit strong for me, but I loved my latte. We had pretzel sandwiches. We both liked the one with butter and brie. Who wouldn't?!

Then to the MOMA. We'd never been. It was a bright airy building with wonderful art, but holy crap it was crowded.

We took a puppy picture for the girls

and a photo of us with Frida Kahlo. She did this self-portrait for a friend and put the mirror there so she and her friend could be together.

Rob was bored by the Monet exhibit but I loved the colors and had to get a photo of the lily's close up for Lily.

And Van Gogh's Starry Night which Lily had learned about in art class last month and then been blown away by the rendition on the cafeteria wall at Greenfield High School. "Mama! Look! That's it! That's the painting!" she had yelled, jumping up and down like she had spotted the original. I wish she had been there to see the real thing. Next time.

The next stop was St Patrick's cathedral. I had been looking for a Virgin Mary shrine since November when I posted in here about wanting to light a candle and ask for her guidance in mothering after listening to Marianne Williamson recommend it to a woman asking questions about parenting.

I had been complaining to Rob over the last month or so about how I couldn't find a local church that was beautiful and open. I had assumed that churches would just be waiting for me or other souls to enter, but they're not. I even called an Episcopal church and talked to the volunteer about if they could open for me and the rector didn't get back to me. I was frustrated and shy about calling places to get in but I didn't want to go on a Sunday with everyone else. I didn't feel like I could say, "I'm not a parishioner. Really I'm not even Christian, but I love the windows in your church and I need to pray to Mary as a representative of the Great Mother Goddess. My self-help CD told me I did."

The day before we left Rob showed me that he had been researching churches so I could do what I needed to do. I was so touched. Church-going is not his idea of a good time, but he knew it was important to me. He also thought, and was right, that there would be churches that would be open to the public where I could light my candle and have a moment without having to play phone tag with a church volunteer named Ethel.

I lit several candles and took some time to pray to Mary and ask for her guidance in mothering my girls. There were so many people, all sorts of people, praying to the Virgin Of Guadalupe. There were fresh flowers on her altar

Just to cover all our bases we also lit a candle at the Our Lady Of Czestochowa shrine, too.

The amber flicker of the lighted candles was beautiful.
The sunlight coming dimly through the blue stained glass was lovely.

I prayed for my girls, for wisdom and strength to be the best mother I can. I prayed for patience and asked for guidance. I put my 2 dollars in the metal cashbox and I lit the candle, actually Rob lit this one. That's his hand.

I could have stayed for hours, like the dozing homeless people in the pews, but we had places to go.

During the trip we ate really well, although the candy bar pie at Momofuku milk bar and the cereal milk ice cream sort of threw my sugar switch and I spent the rest of the time in town prowling for sweets to satiate me. We had ramen and pork buns, cookies and crepes. We napped, we walked and talked. It was a really marvelous time.

I've been with Rob for 20 years now. We got together when I was 19. Do the math. This year is the turning point of having spent more time with him in this life than without him. I feel so lucky, so blessed, so happy to have a partner I adore, a co-parent I love and admire and a guy who cooks me good food and makes me laugh all wrapped up in one great person.

I love him so much I went with him on his pilgrimage (when I resisted, he reminded me he had spent the morning in a church. A church!)

He wanted to go to the Russian Baths. We knew almost nothing about it and I was nervous.

So, when we got there we got dressed in the single sex dressing room and then headed down to the basement where there were four or five different saunas.

One has a shower head where you can cool off as you walk out the door, one is cloudy with eucalyptus steam, one is wood, one feels more like a gym. I started to get confused about which was which as time went on. Round clocks hang on every wall and every one displays a different time. It was 5pm when we went in, but I was totally disoriented. One clock said 11:05 another 9:15 another 4:00. I just gave up; which felt good.
I feel like I went back in time. The men mostly had facial hair and wore these robes that made everyone look like they came out of The Ten Commandments. Some people were hipsters and some were Russian old men and because everyone was wearing either bathing suits, shorts or these weird robes my social assessment and diagnosis cues were thrown out the window and I felt like I had traveled far in time and space.
There was a cold 45 degree pool and a bank of showers along the wall. Rob would dunk in the pool. Stepping into the pool is all I could do, it was too cold. I took tepid showers instead. I was there in my Land's End mama-skirt bathing suit , but no one paid me any attention. It was such a socially confounding landscape, it didn't matter.
I had been on high alert and wasn't thrilled about going because I didn't know if the place would feel intimidating and lecherous. I imagined alot of men in their skivvies glaring at me across the pool and that didn't sound fun at all.

This sign was on the stairs on the way down to the baths. It was a co-ed day and there were about 40 people who came and went and around 10 were women, but we were all pretty much left alone in a pleasant way. I was surprised, but everyone seemed disoriented and focused on their sweating selves. The big Russian sauna has a huge oven in the corner and up platforms were two men doing oak leaf cleansings with cold water, olive oil soap and a bundle of oak leaves they used to swat and soap up the bodies that lay on the platform with a towel over their head. "No way!" is what I thought when I saw that going on, but Rob was intrigued and shocked me by volunteering to go next. The masseuse guided me over to an empty seat on the bench in the hot hot room filled with about 15 men.
It was dark, the oven was made of clay and people sat staring off into space and then they would get up and gather a bucket of water from the well, pour it over their head and then go back to their sitting place. The masseuses were amazing. They would scrub the person, bend their legs up toward their heads, pull their arms to lift the upper body off the platform and then, Rob said just as he got too hot and was about to say something, the man would pour a big bucket of cold water over him, holding Rob's nose closed. I got hot and had to leave the oven room. I just sat on the tiled bench and relaxed while people wandered around around me going from one room to another. I felt deeply peaceful and cleared out. Rob emerged and was guided to the cold pool where he dunked and then was wrapped up in a robe and a towel was put on his head. He was glowing and happy.

We got dressed and paid our bill ($90) for the entrance fees and his massage combined. Not bad! We emerged into the dark city and it was snowing, white flakes drifting down. Lovely.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Bigger Reiki Crystal Grid

Here's my new Reiki crystal grid. I finally cleaned off the flat surfaces in my study so I could spread out and make it bigger to fit my new quartz crystal I got at the Peabody Museum.

The antahkarana underneath is a symbol to help move energy in a positive powerful way and the grid allows me to charge it with Reiki and then leave it sending Reiki throughout the day. I've got a people's names and a few requests I'm working on that are in the center of the grid.

I cover it with the rainbow cloth when I leave the room or the girls move everything about.

It's fun to have a place where I can see all my crystals and where I can be reminded of sending loving energy to people and issues I care about.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

My Reading

So, before Christmas I went to Inspirit Common, a spiritual store in Northampton, and bought a few gifts. There was a friendly woman there who gave me some guidance about gifts and then mentioned she was doing readings that day. I saw her card and was intrigued. I snuck one of the cards and put it in my wallet while I did my transaction at the register with someone else. I didn't really have money to spend on an angel reading, but it sounded compelling. As the week went on I thought about the card and questions I would ask at a reading. Finally I decided that if I got a sign from the universe that made it seem like I should go to her I would heed it; if not I would let it go.

I peeked at the website and was excited by the idea of a crystal reading. I got a very magical crystal at the Peabody Museum. It is called a Record Keeper and it has special marks on it that indicate it stores alot of knowledge from the earth and its history that can be accessed with meditation. I tried to sit and and meditate with it, but it just made me sleepy. I felt like it had more to say to me and I wanted some guidance. So I waited.

Here are some photos of my lovely rock...

I tried to get a picture of the mysterious triangle shapes that indicate it's a Record Keeper in this first one

It's too heavy to carry around, but I've got it on my altar.

A week or so later I was at work and my friend mentioned she had met someone who did angel readings. I put my hand up to stop her talking and then ran to get the card that had been sitting in my wallet. Somehow I knew it would be the same person, even though it was a totally different context. I came back, breathless, and showed her the card, asking, "Is that her?" My friend looked puzzled and replied, "Yeah, that's who I met. How did you know?"

I figured that was my sign so I decided to make an appointment.

I went on my kid-free Monday and brought my crystal and a tape recorder.

She was warm and friendly and we talked for 50 minutes.
First we talked about the crystal I brought

She was very glad to meet it and told me it was a "Language of Light" crystal that had found its way to me. She said they find who they are meant to be with and was surprised I got it at the Peabody Museum. But she said the crystals are very patient and wait lifetimes to make their way to the right person. She also told me it might take years to get to a place where I could use the crystal as I was meant to.
"It takes time." She told me a few times throughout the reading.
Early on, I told her that I get frustrated about communicating with the divine. "It's not clear; I don't get visions. I get lots of numbers repeating themselves, but that's a dicey one. People might think I'm a nut job if I tell them I saw 444 and then mention my Dorinne Virtue numbers book which says 444 means "thousands of angels surround us'"

She laughed but looked a bit surprised and said, "Numbers are one of the way that the angels speak to people and you need to let that fear go. You need to accept that this is real....Meditating will help with that."

I got complainy that I couldn't tell what my next step was, that I don't get clear messages that I understand and she answered kindly, "You will."
Then I mentioned that I stopped meditating because I have trouble coming back from meditation and Reiki without being spacey. "I meditate and then I end up with a slight headache and it's very difficult to pull myself together to do something like empty the dishwasher." She gave me some practical suggestions to help.

One was to envision going through a gate in the beginning of a meditation and then coming back before ending the meditation.
Another was to use crystals; they are very good for grounding because they come from and are made up of earth energy.
She also said just to think of my feet would help, to really feel them.
It can be really helpful to just go outside and put your hands on the earth, too.

She thought it was important that I meditate every day. I told her I sleep with some dream crystals under my pillow and sometimes when I wake up I feel like I've had compelling dreams that I can't remember but maybe something is being learned.

She said, "This is really important time consuming/ energy consuming work that you're doing; It's not just "Oh I do that when I'm sleeping."

I then told her about my recurring nightmare of leaving my family behind and moving into the dorm room. It seems so silly afterward, but in the dream I am unpacking my things and protesting, "But I'm married! I have children. I can't have a roommate. I already did this!" When I wake up I am so relieved. I don't want to go to some alternate plane and leave my family behind.
She looked understanding but said, "If you are going to do this work you have to be willing to give somethings up."
"But" she continued, They're not going to ask you to give things up that are of the light. That fear is not going to support this journey."
I felt relieved.

She told me many things, did an angel card reading and answered many of my questions.
A synopsis might be:
I am in a time of hunkering down and trying to figure stuff out with my mind but also resisting the pull toward spirit because I don't want to be weird or crazy. More time in daydreaming and listening to my heart or gut will help me move forward on my journey and meditation is the key there. The cards said I was entering a period of turning inward to figure stuff out which is part of the process.

I felt light and happy after the reading, like she "got" me and offered practical advice to get unstuck. On the way home I came up with more questions, but I am going to let the experience filter down through the layers for a bit before I go back.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Spirited Away

We watched (actually, I watched while Rob slept in front of me on the couch, pretending to watch) the movie Spirited Away by Hayao Miyazaki. The girls and I love Our Neighbor Totoro which Miyazaki directed as well. But this one was darker and scarier so I watched it with Rob after the girls went to bed. I loved the bizarre weirdness of the story; the young girl and her family come across a bath house for ghosts and spirits. Her parents eat the food of the spirits and are turned into pigs and their daughter must save them. It was a wild imaginative ride and then this song at the end! This song really got me. Bless itunes. How amazing that I could stand up from the movie feeling transported and moved by this song and within minutes have it playing in my own kitchen. I listened to it like 40 times while I was home alone making a 7 layer dip the next day for a pot luck at work. Heaven. (The song not the potluck)

Here's the song, the translation and a story about the song.

The words in English:

Always with Me

Somewhere, a voice calls, in the depths of my heart
May I always be dreaming, the dreams that move my heart

So many tears of sadness, uncountable through and through
I know on the other side of them I'll find you

Everytime we fall down to the ground we look up to the blue sky above
We wake to it's blueness, as for the first time

Though the road is long and lonely and the end far away, out of sight
I can with these two arms embrace the light

As I bid farewell my heart stops, in tenderness I feel
My silent empty body begins to listen to what is real

The wonder of living, the wonder of dying
The wind, town, and flowers, we all dance one unity

Somewhere a voice calls in the depths of my heart
keep dreaming your dreams, don't ever let them part

Why speak of all your sadness or of life's painful woes
Instead let the same lips sing a gentle song for you

The whispering voice, we never want to forget,
in each passing memory always there to guide you

When a mirror has been broken, shattered pieces scattered on the ground
Glimpses of new life, reflected all around

Window of beginning, stillness, new light of the dawn
Let my silent, empty body be filled and reborn

No need to search outside, nor sail across the sea
Cause here shining inside me, it's right here inside me

I've found a brightness, it's always with me

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Like apples!

A quote I just heard from the Talmud that sounds a bit threatening, but I loved the idea that it is our duty to notice the beautiful things around us.

"In a world to come we will be called to account for all the beautiful things that God put on this earth and we refused to enjoy."

Here's Georgia eating a Mutzu apple as big as her head at the Winter Carnival Farmer's Market in Greenfield this weekend.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Rob and Georgia time.

I had to work on Friday so Rob took a personal day and hung out with me and Georgia while Lily was in school. Here I got some documentation of their goofy interactions. Georgia has favored me forever, but recently when I picked her up at school she whined, "Oh I wish it was Papa!" Rob really enjoys kids once they get to be about 4 years old. Then they can talk and hold up to his wrestling and loud music. Of course he also loves them when they're babies, but now they like to sit and talk with him while they do projects.

The other day I was telling someone when I worked (3pm-12am) three evenings a week and she exclaimed,
"Oh that must be so hard! You don't put your kids to bed so many nights a week!" I agreed that it was but then I happened to be with a couple of other nurses who raised their kids on evenings and who said,
"Yeah, but half the time you're at work they're asleep and all that together time really forces the dad to be independent and build his own relationship with the kids, which, in the long run, is only good."
I'm not as sure as they seemed and I would love to be home. But, I am grateful that Rob is as close to the girls as he is.