When the Ancestors are too Close

Today is the fifth anniversary of my mother’s death. Anniversary sounds like it could be a day of celebration, “day of remembrance” is a more appropriate expression perhaps, but anniversary, commemoration, I guess those words work too. The bottom line is she died, and it wasn’t until then that I truly saw her as a human being with a life; with hopes, and dreams, fears, foibles, and shortfalls beyond those in her role as mother, my mother, my sisters’ mother, a person in her own right, separate from me, even though obviously there is probably no greater connection than that of a mother and child.
I don’t particularly like going to the cemetery where she’s buried, that’s one of the advantages of cremation, burial at sea, or a family plot I suppose. I enjoy visiting my grandparents, aunts, and uncles in the shady cemeteries where they rest, but my mother? She’s an ancestor who still feels too close to me. I’d rather remember her when I catch a glimpse of her in one of my expressions, remembering one of her sayings (when she was livid with anger she’d say “I’m on the warpath!”), or when her face would light up when a kid or grandkid visited her. How about you? If you’ve lost a parent, how do you feel about visiting their grave? I love cemeteries for many reasons, I just don’t love my mother’s.

Important Announcement

Subscription Update: After much deliberation I have decided to scrap the subscription service idea. I expect paying customers to be respectful, and while many of you actual gentlemen are, there are several Neanderthals (no disrespect to Neanderthal humans intended, it’s merely a colorful expression) who aren’t. There’s a right way and a wrong way to speak to a fellow human being, regardless of gender, and when I feel a person is capable of learning and understanding that, I give second chances, but with restrictions. Then there are those who simply aren’t able to grasp the concept, and I block them immediately and forever. This is not a sex site. I am not your mommy, auntie, granny; and I detest sexual slang. However, I appreciate intelligent Shakespearean sexual innuendo and fun, flirtatious repartee.

So, without further ado here is what will be on offer this Fall:

*One censored photo at a time on my artfoodsoul blog, along with a price. Prices will range between $10.00 and $35.00, depending on the photo. Photo will be available for one week or a set number of purchases for that photo, whichever comes first.

*If you are interested in the non-censored, you will contact me via IG.

*If you’re someone I’m familiar with and trust, someone who has been respectful, I will allow you to purchase the uncensored via Paypal. I will then email you the photo.
If you’re new to IG, you will not be allowed to purchase for several months (kind of like a probationary period).
Photos will be of an art or erotic art nature. If you’re looking for playboy-type or, “smile for the camera” while nude, there are 1000’s of others out there to suit your needs. This is not about the money, otherwise I’d be doing an Only Fans. And I do not disparage anyone who does OF or Patreon. I actually seriously considered Patreon, but I really want to be able to control who sees my more intimate photos. And there are many of you whom I will be comfortable sharing with. It’s about knowing the person I’m sharing with.


Good Reads for Pride Month

Earlier this month I finished “Sometimes You Have to Lie,” Leslie Brody’s excellent biography about Louise Fitzhugh, the author of one of my favorite adolescent books, “Harriet the Spy.” It has occurred to me how appropriate it was to be reading this during Pride Month. Louise never hid her sexuality, well aware her money, privilege, and talent allowed it. Most of her long-term romantic partnerships were with women, and while she may have had a few “gentlemen” friends, they were never a serious interest. She was an outspoken social justice advocate, and I was thoroughly absorbed in her literary world of the 60’s and 70’s. Her gender fluid fashion sense had me captivated and a quote from another author’s novel sort of clicked into place for me how I feel about identity and sexuality.
It’s from Carson McCullers book “Member of the Wedding,” another story about a pre-teen tomboy, Frankie, in whose ideal world “people could instantly change back and forth from boys to girls, whichever they felt like and wanted.” Sounds good to me, Frankie.

Sweet Rolls

The wind here doesn’t cooperate with garden plans, but somehow we manage. At least there was sunshine and some warmth this weekend. After Saturday’s gardening, we ordered Chinese for the first time since the  Christmas before the pandemic — what a treat!  — then watched the rest of the Murdoch disc. Sunday morning was quiet and slow. Before heading out to the garden, I listened to classical music while making sweet rolls, this time orange ones, inspired by those from Marian’s Pie Shop down in Chatham. My mum used to love to drive down there for their pastries and they are still as good as ever — they’ve been here for years, one of those rare bakeries that offers truly old-fashioned goods reminiscent of a grandmother’s kitchen. I use my old Betty Crocker cookbook for sweet rolls and stumbled upon a recipe for orange rolls that I’d previously overlooked. Sharing it here. Happy Monday!

In the Garden

Today was the perfect day to get started on the garden cleanup. Spring is always touch-and-go weather-wise (and health-wise) here, so when all the conditions align — warm sun, but not blistering hot, no wind, and no rain; no aches and pains, allergy fatigue, headache or any other obstacle in the way — once I get started out there, it’s hard for me to stop, but I am trying to pace myself better these days so I don’t fall into overwhelm with little accomplished. Cleared out along the border fences, and spotted asparagus (already a couple pickable stalks) peeking out. Rhubarb, violets, poppies, coneflowers, lupines, bee balm, coreopsis — once it gets going, there’s no stopping it — especially now that we have it protected from Oonagh. Mugwort grows outside the perimeter of one of the fence lines — an herb for boundaries, protection and dreaming. Good for smudge wands, in smoke blends and tinctures. The violets are a gentle reminder of the simple wonders of just being — and the flowers and leaf, besides use in smoke blends — are also good for tea, edible flower garnishes (candied violets anyone?), flower crowns, simple syrup or an essence. It truly is a garden awakening, and should all the powers align yet again, I’ll be back at it tomorrow. (Photo is from last spring).

One year

A year ago this weekend we were in Shelburne Falls, a magical place I’ve written about before. Unbeknownst to us, it would be our last “normal” getaway pre-pandemic. By normal I mean mask-free, hugs okay, indoor dining and open mic nights at local breweries — it was all still happening. We’d stopped in nearby Turner’s Falls on our way there, and delighted with what we found, looked forward to returning to explore it there further.  I miss that.

Nevertheless, I’m thankful we have some photos of the time. Photos can make me feel wistful and nostalgic, sometimes sad, sometimes happy, it really depends on the photo, as well as my mood.
Looking at the year-old Shelburne Falls photos makes me happy, I suppose because I feel that hope is closer on the horizon now. In the meantime I have our photos to remind me of that weekend —The Deerfield River iced over, fresh snowfall, misty breath in frosty evening air, and plenty of walks back and forth from the Airbnb across the Iron Bridge, and past a silent Bridge of Flowers into Buckland — for favorite restaurants, the brewery and the coop. We enjoyed the Friday open-mic night at Floodwater Brewing followed by a cozy Saturday evening at the fabulous Blue Rock Bistro, sitting at the bar. Casablanca was showing on the screen and we shared a delicious meal and cocktails. Morning coffee run to Mocha Maya’s and homemade doughnuts from the Foxtrot Diner. Walks through quiet streets with friendly hellos and drivers who actually drive like people live there — and even better — stop to let them cross the street. Places like Shelburne Falls don’t need a pandemic to slow things down and illuminate what truly matters, they never forgot, but for others who have forgotten, our former speeded-up, business-as-usual world would be one of the few pandemic casualties I’d welcome.


St. Blaise

Candles feature today with the celebration of the Feast of St. Blaise, and the blessing of the throats. Legend has it that St. Blaise, a bishop and a physician, while on his way to be martyred, cured a child who was choking on a fish bone. In the Catholic Church, a priest will bless a parishioner’s throat with two crossed candles, praying for protection from choking and diseases of the throat. It’s fascinating how Christian and Pagan rituals and celebrations share so many symbols and themes — from candles, fire, light, smoke and herbs for ritual, to gods and goddesses (or angels and saints) who are patrons and protectors for various human experiences.


Between St. Brigid’s Day, Imbolc, Candlemas, GroundHog Day and St. Blaise’s Feast Day this week, there’s a whole lotta light and candle magic going on. I celebrate the Solstices, Equinoxes and cross-quarter days in some small way, as I find this to be a sort of anchor for the rhythm of my days and the flow of the seasons. They can certainly be something to look forward to, much like the phases of the moon for me. There is endless information available over how different cultures celebrate some of these festivals or feast days, but I prefer to do my own abbreviated versions of various rituals associated with my own Celtic heritage — and as we are now halfway through the dark season and moving into the light, naturally I have candles lit. Keeping it simple means I will actually celebrate with some intention. For St. Brigid’s Day and Imbolc, I have my herbal smoke blend with violet leaf, and a supper of salmon, with my riff on Colcannon (basically a mash of potato and cabbage) of kale and potato — the salmon symbolizes the return of Springtime for me, violets are early harbingers of the warmer days ahead, and the potato is a reminder of the importance of the dark of the underground, as well as the light from above for growth and renewal. Stuff like this is just one of the things that floats my boat, what floats yours?

January Break

The truth of the matter is…I haven’t really missed Instagram this past month. Another truth? I didn’t get a whole heck of a lot of writing or work on my website done either. That was my intention — sort of anyway. BUT…I took lots of walks, did lots of baking, tried a new meditation app, did some hand sewing and knitting, read and reread good books, rediscovered other places to sit and look out the windows of our home, watched snow fall, heard gale winds howl, and rainstorms dance, and listened to classical music. The most radical act of all though was sitting and doing absolutely nothing else but put my arm around my furry beast, Oonagh, and allow myself to rest in that space and enjoy the sheer luxury of…doing nothing. The break has served me well. It’s an art you know. Tricia Hersey, of @thenapministry is an artist who speaks to this art in a language I understand. Perhaps she speaks it for you, too. 

History and Mysteries

I love a good historical mystery, particularly those that are set at the turn of the 20th century. I learn a lot from a well-researched novel. My favorite decades are the 1920’s and 30’s, basically the years between the two world wars. It’s uncanny, if you’re a history buff like I am, how you can follow the social, political, economic and scientific events of those years in the last century, and see how they parallel similar events happening now in this one. People really were clueless, dancing and spending their merry way into two world wars. It’s interesting how journalists like Dorothy Thompson tried to sound the alarm, and yet no one paid attention until it was too late. But maybe that was the plan all along?