Open Air Affair

Yesterday, while enjoying the view of the yard from my griffin chair near my front door, an urge took root. It began slowly, gently, enticing me with a soft hand. I smiled coyly. “Surely not”, my reply. Yet, the call to my primal instincts persisted.

Across the yard, things began to take a more urgent approach. “C’mon, you know you want this…you need this. It’s been too long and I know you can’t resist. Won’t resist.” I avert my gaze until I focus on several Chickadees darting back and forth to the feeder. “Nice try”, my seducer taunted. I felt a blush cast a crimson shadow upon my face.

Why am I so easy, so shameless? Has experience and life taught me that the taste of regret is punishingly sour and has a way of permeating of all your senses until you can’t savor anything else?  I am willing to acknowledge and accept consequences for my actions, this is the way of the Witch. No devil to blame and no savior to rescue me with flimsy excuses that have to do with the fall of man and the whore with an apple. Oh, please. It all comes down to free will and choice. Some choices are unwise, but wrong? I never look at things that way, trusting that all things have a purpose. Why blame the woman, or even the snake when the man is the one who made the choice to allow himself to be enticed?

So, here too am I. In the garden, alone, with the call of the wild reaching a feverish pitch. I bolt from my chair and stroll across the yard, soon my steps are falling faster, harder. I reach out and touch. It’s cool and a bit rough beneath the softness of my hand. It feels nice and not unexpected. Then, as my senses join with those of my beloved, I feel the beating of a generous heart.

It has been too long. Soon my arms lock in a rapturous embrace. Are the neighbors watching? I am long past noticing or caring. I feel the closeness of yet another lover near by. I depart from the sheltering arms of my current paramour and find wicked pleasure in those arms as well. I am a hussy.

Suddenly, the voice of South Park’s  Cartman echoes in my ears. Or, am I reading the thoughts of my husband who is grilling steaks and has been observing the whole time? “It’s just a bunch of tree hugging hippie crap!”

No, just a Witch who knows that connecting with life is not limited to that which wears a suit of human skin. It’s in all of life, not only in that which has been categorized as worthy or superior by those who feel qualified to make those distinctions.

I embrace Stevie again. The corkscrew willow, named for the solitary spiral dance performed by Stevie Nicks as she sings. Another hug for Evelyn Crabtree, whose blossoms are getting ready for her big performance when she will appear in a glorious cloud of intoxicatingly sweet white flowers. Yes, I feel the them in their infancy. It’s what happens when you open the doors of your mind and spirit and proclaim your readiness to receive. Never take this lightly or with out full acceptance of what will follow, for you cannot go back to unknowing, unfeeling.

What do my neighbors think? Probably not much beyond paying little attention to the eccentric among them. In Madison there is an appreciation for the diverse and the free thinkers. It’s a source of pride and lends an aura of sophistication that transcends the urge to stare, point, or even find the unusual to be unusual at all.

Apparently, I have reached the point of being acceptably ‘weird’. I like that. Keeping up appearances or resorting to mimicry to ‘fit in’ is degrading and uses up energy that shouldn’t be wasted on being anything but authentic.   No matter, I will carry on this love affair with trees, with rocks, with animals, with all of life, in the open, as long as I live.











Mac, Hmandu, And Ridley Too

After the hissing subsided and Hmandu figured out that he was not being replaced, he decided that, “the kid is ok”. Just as we had hoped, Mac and Hmandu are best buds.

We decided to get a Kitten for our Kitten when our two older Cats insisted that something had to be done. Also known as ‘the ‘ladies who nap’, seventeen year old Rhiannon and fifteen year old Astarte are no longer amused by getting chased, swatted at or being put in a random headlock by an adolescent male Cat with a testosterone problem. There was much growling, hissing and ear flattening, not to mention that the ladies’ stress level was at the point that I was going to ask the vet for Xanax…for them and for me.

Mac’s arrival was greatly anticipated and did not fail to live up to our expectations of producing a high level of fun. Exploring the house, playing with a large assortment of toys and the joy of discovering the never empty food dishes had him bouncing around like a furry super ball. Hmandu watched all of this with a mixture displeasure and caution that, when thrown to the wind, would result in a Gorilla Glue kind of bond.

Mac had no reservations what so ever. He was used to being accepted solely on his masterful skill of being adorable. Encountering not only one, but three ‘tough sells’ was a totally new experience for him. The ladies made attempts at filling a tandem mothering role of keeping him in line and spit taming any tufts of unruly fur as most mothers do. Hmandu soon dispensed with his posturing and allowed his inner frat boy free reign. That was when the real fun began and I had to make peace with having a few cherished possessions smashed beyond repair. Boys will, indeed, be boys. Everything was just as we had anticipated and expected. What we didn’t plan on was Ridley.

I had actually wanted a polydactyl. We would have had one when we began the adoption process for Mac if we had not lost Millie to pneumonia. Lauren, who runs Underdog Rescue, and I tearfully dealt with her loss. It was unexpected, painful and fast. One day we were making plans to pick her up and the next, things were delayed due to Millie having pneumonia and then the phone call to say that the measures that were taken to save her had failed. However, when Lauren sent me a picture of a male poly, who was considerably older than the ‘Kitten’ we were looking for, we decided to take Ridley too. After all, how could I say, “he’s too old and not the right color.” We wanted a very young black Kitten, but orange and white six year old Ridley needed a home.

He had to get neutered and had a few dental issues and excessive ear wax, but after seeing the rescue’s vet for all of those things, he was ready to come home. I, again, had an image of everyone settling in without mishap. Introducing an adult male Cat into a household that already had one, was not going to be without issues I know, but I wanted so desperately for Ridley to be happy. He had been through a lot between coming from a distant humane society and a foster home and I was eager to assure him that he had found his ‘forever home’.

For the first two days Ridley hid under the bed in the guest room and any amount of coaxing him out resulted in his being bullied by Hmandu. This really upset me. I can’t handle seeing any animal cower in fear and it broke my heart. By the third day, he came out and sprawled on the sofa demanding, “what’s for dinner?”.  Hmandu found himself on the receiving end of a number of well placed swats and, even though they still have that macho dominance thing from time to time, there is peace in the valley.

In the midst of the chaos and frenetic energy that bounces off the walls most days, we celebrate what has become life in this house of joy. My husband and I agree that a house is only a home to us when it is shared with multiple felines. When we had lost four of the six we had, some for twenty something years, there was a void. The pain of grieving runs deep and sometimes, you just don’t feel that you can go through it again so you think, ‘no more’. Having animal companions, except when you adopt those who will outlive you, comes with a knowing that at some point they will leave you. However, the attempt to protect your heart from pain by denying that which brings you joy is no way to live.

So, we are owned by five Cats and for the most part, they keep us in line, spit tame any stubborn tufts of ‘fur’ on us and each other, and allow us to spoil them rotten. We laugh and smile a lot and pretty much fashion our lives around their needs. Rhiannon was recently diagnosed with diabetes so she needs injections twice a day, but considering that a month ago she was badly dehydrated and near death due to a bladder infection, it’s what we have to do to keep her healthy and alive. We nursed her back with IV fluids and antibiotics and celebrated every bit of food or water she’d take in. Now, at seventeen years old, she looks great and is thriving.

When you open your home to animals it requires that you also open your heart. Then the love flows in and out. Somehow, we always find room for one more.

Love And The Potato

During the planning stages, May 17th, 1986 was expected to be a delightful Spring day. Not too hot, with a crisp bite still in the morning air that was not quite ready to surrender to the humid soggy gulp of Summer. However, Mother Nature had other plans. It was cold and rainy with the occasional sharp sting of sleet pelting our skin like stray buckshot. Had I acquired my current reputation as a dependable ‘weather Witch’ back in those days, I certainly would have transformed the day into one fitting an outdoor wedding in the park. However, I was a borderline Lutheran back then and slid in and out between the cracks of my traditional upbringing and resisting the feeling that I was just going through the motions.

I had been divorced for seven years and went the whole shebang route with wedding number one. Considering that that marriage lasted one month past the two year mark, the church, the white gown and reception at the country club is no insurance of it lasting. I did some unsuccessful dating, due mainly to the fact that I was city born and raised and the relocation to a spot somewhere between rural and redneck America was an awkward move that never really resulted in my transformation. My wardrobe consisted of disco glitz which properly reflected who I was and no amount of stacking wood and picking wild asparagus was going to send me to the local mercantile for bib overalls.

Being solitary is not something I fear or dread. I was a single mother, I had my career as a hairstylist, a few close friends and frequent trips back to the city on weekends so finding husband number two was not high on my list of priorities. Besides, I was becoming somewhat commitment phobic. However, I did long to converse with a male companion that didn’t focus on the subject of agriculture and cows. The main activity in a small Midwest town revolves around working all week and having a stool in a local dive bar that conformed to your ass on the weekends. Not my idea of a good time. I loved concerts, plays, going to nice restaurants and yes…dancing ’til the wee hours in clubs.

When the marriage fell apart I had moved back home with my parents. My father died shortly after I filed for divorce so that left my mother, my daughter and me to fend for ourselves in rural Wisconsin in what had been our Summer home. This got old after 6 years and I got the itch to at least meet someone who I might have a future with. Selecting one of the local good ol’ boys was not an option. In January 1984, in a moment of ‘what the hell’ I placed a personal ad in the Sheila Wood column of the tabloid, The National Examiner.

His was the second letter out of 40 that I pulled from the manila envelope I received in about a month after placing the ad. What fun! Some were too eager, some were too good to be true and some were looking for a means to a green card. But, Randy’s letter was different and subconsciously reading between the lines of our mutual Star Trek interest and chit chat was the knowing that he was the one.

Letters lead to phone calls and finally in December, almost a year later, that first face to face meeting. If anyone doubts that the ‘Universe’ will find a way to connect you with your destiny let me dispel that. Randy was living in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. A place to which I had no plans of going, much less even being aware of its existence. We spent a week together, during which he proposed. He flew back to South Carolina for a few months before he packed up everything he owned, left his home and his family to be with me. I had found him a near by rental cottage, he quickly got a job and throughout that year we planned the wedding.

Nasty weather aside, the rest went off without a ‘hitch’. A Lutheran minister was willing to marry us without the classes that my church required. The reception was to be held at my home on the lake so we just moved the ceremony there as well. About 25 people, several cases of champagne, an array of food that my mother and I prepared and a cake that I decorated myself thanks to a class I had taken, made up the deliberately private affair. My 8 year old daughter was my ‘maid of honor’ in a lavender floral print dress I had sewn. I also made my outfit, a soft silver gray skirt and jacket with a lavender satin camisole. My bouquet was white roses and my favorite wild violets. The groom wore a rented tux in a coordinating shade of silver gray. We were married in the warmth and glow of the large fieldstone fireplace in the living room instead of the park on the mountain.

After the luncheon and reception we left for our honeymoon in the closest small city with a Holiday Inn. On the way we stopped at the convenience store where I worked to see my coworkers who were not able to attend the wedding. One of my favorite customers was there so he made a brief fuss over my being there on my wedding day. He went up to my new husband and said, “I don’t believe I caught your name, young fellow”. Randy, in his tux seized the moment, stuck out his hand, and stated with confidence, “Bond, James Bond”. The man shook his hand and replied, “Pleased to meet you, Mr. Bond”. We still chuckle over having Mr. Pemble think I married James Bond.

More important than the vows we exchanged 28 years ago, I assured my man that life with me would never be boring. His usual response is, “That much is certain”. There have been rocky spots, but none so difficult that we couldn’t see our way to navigate through them. He is and shall remain for all time, my knight in shining armor. How blessed I am to have found someone like him. We’re both Leos so I said we would either have the greatest love or kill each other. Happy to say, we’re both still alive.

Time has a way of putting a burnish on things and marriage is no exception. Once you’ve passed the test that time puts before you, it rewards you by giving you a taste of nectar so deeply sweet that you never want to come up for air. You complement each other to the point that the two of you even breathe as one.

So to you, my Highlander, thank you for 28 glorious years. Your appetite for adventure and the fact that you admittedly love ‘crazy women’ has proven to be advantageous as I continue to evolve and transition since we met. Laughing and loving with you has been the stuff that Faery tales are made of. How blessed am I that one was written that included me because there was a time I doubted that they were true. You made a believer out of me. Happily ever after.

Groaning Pains

I prefer to think of myself as complex, or even complicated. Wearing either label sounds so much more glamorous in a bohemian kind of way than to say that I’m ‘difficult’. A Witch like me will sashay on the cat walk of life with it emblazoned on my chest, doing it all with unforgettable style.

The various complexities that complicate things can cause my logic to be mine and mine alone to the point that no one else can ever see things from my vantage point. Apparently, it seems to be so far out in orbit that the Hubble telescope can’t even find it much less home in on it. That being said, when I do what I feel is ‘sharing’ things, it has come to affectionately get referred to as my ‘rants’ by those that I ‘share’ with. Complex women tend to feel better when they are able to verbalize the things in their minds that others might consider to be space debris. Even if it is, it can’t just circumnavigate the universe without crashing and burning at some point in time so talking about it allows for a softer landing. My husband of almost 28 years is my ‘go to’ person when I need to be ‘grounded’. He puts things in perspective for me and most often keeps me from having to gnaw on my Vera Wang platform pumps when my version of things may prompt me to say what I’ll have to apologize for after the fact.

If you have seen the show, “American Horror Story: Coven” and Jessica Lange’s portrayal of “The Supreme” Witch, you might recognize me. That is why I consider myself so fortunate that there are people in my life who, have come to not only expect me to fly off the broom handle from time to time, they might even love me for it. After all, I keep our Coven interesting and when a Coven lasts as long as MoonShadow has…you need interesting.

Covens are families in every sense of the word and unless your blood is the consistency of water, you stand by each other through good times and the smattering of bad. Some members have known me since it all began in my living room in the early 90’s, but some are more recent. They don’t have the advantage of the certainty that, “she’ll get over it”, the way the founding Witches do. When my logic spins that yarn and knits it into a nasty, scratchy sweater, the urge to tear it off and throw it out has got to be irresistible, but they find it within themselves to just smooth it out and wear it anyway.

The odd, but beautiful thing is, that over time it softens and has the ability to become a favorite. It’s familiar, the color is complementary and it gets comfortable. It shows some signs of wear, but the repairs are done so well that no one can see them anymore and no one remembers how the snags got there or cares. The strands that bind us have been pulled tighter and they glow with a well worn shiny patina.

This Coven, this family, is a vital part of my life. If we just bobbed along the surface of nice, we would never know how to go deep and weather the storms. We’ve been tested many times. Relationships that forced us to learn to be more accepting, personal issues that taught us how to be committed to those not related by blood, things that made not helping someone something we never even considered. Then, there is my predictable propensity to misunderstand the perfectly understandable.

All in all, being part of a Coven makes a person grow in ways that other more mainstream groups don’t and can’t. Being on the fringes of what is considered tolerable, yet unacceptable, puts us on thorny common ground. When Witches are not being abhorred as evil we are being dismissed as flakes who personify roles that run the gamut from ridiculous buffoons to demonic. When the bright light of reality is cast our way, it usually categorizes us as tree hugging hippies who aren’t even organized enough to host a sit in. So, being social outcasts tends to help us form an instant bond, but when that bond is allowed to test its limits the real Magick happens.

I am so grateful that I have found my place among people who are capable of loving me since, as I have indicated, is no easy task. But, as I know so very well, the thing that may set a person apart by displaying traits that are diverse in the most unusual way, is the same thing that allows them to sense things that defy the normal senses. Given the choice, ‘weird’ wins every time.

Never surprised, but always amazed is the state that I find myself in most of the time. You’d think that by now the exclamation of, “OH WOW!!!” would not escape my lips as much as it does. The age and the experience thing has taught me that I’ll never be so old that I don’t want to experience even more. Growing beyond myself is something that I am constantly stretching to do. Thunderin’ tap dancin’ Christ, I love life!!! Even when it hurts.

The Urge to Purge

Looking up at a waning Moon always inspires me to eliminate that which does not serve me. Painful emotions and defeatist attitudes can always top the list, but for me, jumping from one erroneous conclusion to the next has got to go.

Our perceptions can be so wrong, especially when we allow them  to run rampant on the endless loop of accusatory thought patterns. Many times our perceptions are governed by the mood we are in and moods can be changed. When we take the time to notice how easily we can ‘snap out’ of a negative mood simply by changing our focus from a negative thought to a positive one, we will feel more in control of our responses.

Do you ever get accused of over reacting? If I was on trial for this, I’d have been handed a life sentence. So, where did it originate? My childhood? Relationships gone bad? Being a Leo? Never one to play the blame game, I always look within and try to look for ways to make a change.

When was the last time that you set out to deliberately hurt someone? I am well aware that my razor sharp whit can cut deeply even though that is not my intention, and my honest opinion can be brutally too honest, but I can’t say that I ever used either to purposefully cause someone emotional pain. Why then, am I so quick to assume that when I am offended or crushed by someone else’s word or deed, it was intentional?

We can laugh off the joke made at our expense, if we are in the appropriate mood to do so, but if we are ‘touchy’, the same joke can raise tempers and blood pressure. The benefit of the doubt needs to be given, but if we are really concerned as to if the words were meant to be mean, we can always ask. However, if they are capable of actually wanting their barbs to sink in and spin, we need to hit the delete key on that relationship.

We need to believe that we are lovable in order to allow ourselves the certainty that those who love us would not, could not, set out to hurt us. I’m going to work on that. I’m extremely grateful that I was able to defuse the accompanying anger before I took aim and confronted the person whom I had assumed deliberately attacked me. I know how hurt I would be if someone close to me thought that I was capable of doing something so mean spirited.

The movie “Love Story” popularized the line, “Love means never having to say you’re sorry”. I always thought it should be, “Love means being the first to say, I’m sorry”.  Even though the people who I had assumed had willfully hurt me don’t know that I thought that of them, I’m going to say I’m sorry that I did.