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It’s going to be a rough week.

July 30th is always a hard day for me, thank heavens it’s not a weekday this year because I tend to turn into a sieve while also turning into my own version of a pensieve, so many memories. July 30th is the 11th anniversary of my little brother’s death.

Today the pensieve is serving up music which is always hard since music was a bond our whole family has. I remember lying on the floor with him, playing 78s from mom and dad’s collection of records. Everything from the Mikado and Victor Herbert to Bozo and the Birds and Danny Kaye telling fairy tales and Hans Christian Anderson’s stories and a lot of Scottish folk songs and Harry Lauder.

He was a year and half younger than me, so I had a shadow whether I wanted one or not. We were in choir together, and in bell choir and in school choir but he took a left turn and took up the trumpet after torturing us for a semester on the violin, it was not his instrument. He joined band and orchestra and I stayed firmly in choir but played my guitar and recorders at home, you can hide in choir.
Mom and dad took us to concerts and musicals from the time we were little. Some of my earliest memories are sleeping in dad’s lap at the Hollywood Bowl under a starry sky and watching deer creep down the hillsides. I think our first musical was Brigadoon but it may have been Peter and the wolf too.

When we got to college we took voice class together and I was always more terrified for him than me even when we had to do recitals. He went on to do musicals and I was stage security and prompter. I did take piano but had to drop out because every time I had to play in front of the class I spent the hour before vomiting from stage fright. When Cam took piano the professor recognized him by his hands. He told Cam I had the best piano hands he’d ever seen. Wish he’d told me that but I just couldn’t do it.

I have a rather eclectic music collection and I put my Kindle on shuffle today, I shouldn’t have. It started to play Broadway musicals and the switch got flipped. I remember him singing in Fiddler as one of the sons, I remember him in the chorus of Hello Dolly but most of all I remember him in Babes in Toyland.

He played Barnaby and had a grand time twisting his moustache and trying to scare small children. That was the show I did security because some idiot had designed the stage door to open onto the main hall and not into the dressing rooms. Cam had to navigate the hall to get to his dressing room and the first time he got kicked all the way down the hall by small children with hard shoes since you used to get dressed up to go to the show and tennies are not dress shoes. His shins were black and blue. Cam was the bad guy in the black cape lined in bright red and with his top had and moustache he was easy to see especially since he was 6’4”. After that night I was his protection and since I was really good at the death stare, no kid dared kick him. Pretty funny 5’8” me staring down 5 year olds and sending them running. Cam was a big teddy bear, I am not! And I’d already been camp counseling for 5 years so I was good at the death stare. He hated scaring the kids in real life,on stage it was funny, I thought it was funny, period. I wish I had a picture of him in full makeup. I’m sure there probably is one back at school but I would have no idea how to get something from the mid 1970’s from them.

He ended up getting his BM in Music, in Opera, the one kind of music besides rap I’m not that fond of and one in computer science after his brain cancer went into remission the first time.

So this is going to be a hard week and Saturday was Mary’s birthday so the fun just keeps coming. Sigh…

We live in Fire country

For those not familiar with Southern California, there are two seasons: hot and on fire and cool and on fire. We really do have 4 seasons but they can come at any time and are mostly identified at least by me, for the quality of the light. And even then there can be difference in geography, the light on the west side near the beaches is different from the light in the San Fernando or San Gabriel Valleys and that is different from the light up on the mountains like the Angeles Forest that is burning now.

The problem with the mountains burning is that LA is built on mountains. They thread in and out and while some refer to them as hills they really aren’t. I laughed when I was in Scotland and they said how high Ben Nevis is. It’s only 4,414 ft. The camp I worked in in the Angeles National Forest was at 1 mile and Mt Baldy is 10, 064 ft. This is a listing of the peaks in and around LA: http://www.laalmanac.com/geography/ge05.htm

Mt Verdugo, for instance, is the hill behind the house I grew up in at 3126 ft. So we know fire and we know mountains. The house we moved to in Glendale had almost burned the year before we moved in due to a huge fire that burned around a good share of LA from the beach to Glendale where we moved to in 1964. When we moved in there were foot holes in the roof because the neighbors were on our roof trying to protect our house because the owners weren’t home so a garage roof burned down the street, the scorch marks on the inside of the garage were a fascination for us kids growing up.

We early on learned which things to grab if we had to evacuate, Photographs and papers and meds first since those are the hardest to replace. And we learned how to get the garden hose up to the balconies on our house so we could spray the shake roof if we had to do it. All the other rooves in the neighborhood were Spanish tile but no, my parent bough a big Tudor house, the only one in the area. It was the most expensive house in the neighborhood, $36,000 at the time and since dad was an underpaid teacher, I think my grandparents may have helped them buy it even though they sold our tract home in the Valley to move where dad taught 6th grade.

I don’t know how many times I came home from something as a kid and saw flames on the mountain behind our house but it was a lot.
You are always aware of the consequences of a cigarette thrown from the car, which by the way, is illegal but idiots do it anyway. When you work at a camp, you get a bit paranoid about whether the campfire is all the way out. Lightning storms also can put you on high alert.

When I worked up at a camp near Idylwild, a fisherman with no brains lit a campfire to grill his catch, under a tree. It was two of the counselors from camps day off and saw the guy do it on the other side of the lake and there was nothing they could do to stop him. That fire raged for a week and burned through several camps and ranches. It almost got our camp but the wind changed direction and the fire burned through the Girl Scout camp instead. We spent that afternoon in the pool waiting. They couldn’t get busses up to us and the only safe place was the pool so we had orders to sir on the edge of the pool and if the fire came to get under water fast and hold our breath. The rangers had told us because we had a huge grassy meadow that the camp might burn in as little as 30 seconds. I remember hauling fire hose and laying it out and we could see pine trees going up like giant match sticks and it was terrifying.

I remember being pissed off because all the guitar players were told we had to leave them behind if they could get the busses up just because it kept our minds off what could happen to us and the kids.

So those of us who are natives can be a bit paranoid. Last Wednesday I was walking out to take the bus home and smelled smoke. Some idiot had thrown their cigarette into our bark mulch and there was a fire burning about a foot across. This made the old Girl Scout in me rise up and get creative. No hose near by, so I used my cane to spread the mulch onto the nearby gravel. I was not impressed with the coworker that drove out the gate yelling she was going to call security. I kept at it and the next woman jumped out of her car with a couple of water bottles and helped me get the big pieces out. She said she couldn’t figure out what I was doing until she saw the flames and that was when I had it pretty well spread out but we got it out and I didn’t even miss my bus. I found out a day later from security that they had been afraid something like that would happen because under the mulch is some sort of weed cloth that is flammable and if that caught our 2+ acres would go up like a match if it got going under the mulch. That is what happens in a forest when the duff catches fire underneath the trees and spreads underground. My Girl Scour Good Deed for the day in 98 degree weather too.

So now we deal with a huge fire that is only 10% contained. Containment means they have a line around the fire. It’s burned 33,000 acres. http://abc7.com/ for news if you are interested. It’s been in the high 90’s and low 100s for temps for the last week of so here in the SF Valley. This really doesn’t help when fighting fires. Saturday the smoke was blown low which led to the apocalyptic photos I posted early and everything is covered in ash. I went to the ATM and had to wipe the screen off to even read it.

For those who use Celsius 90 degrees Fahrenheit = 32.22 Celsius = bloody hot. 100 Degrees is 37.7 Celsius. 33, 000 acres is 51,562 square miles which is bigger than a lot of cities.

So we are about 10 miles as the crow flies from where the fire is burning and hoping it doesn’t destroy everything and every being on the mountains

A lot of love and energy is being directed at the brave firefighters who are out there on the line.

Today would have been my grandmother’s 126th birthday

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Today would have been my grandmother’s 126th birthday. My mother always referred to me as her mother’s birthday present since I was born just after midnight on June 2. I always thought that was a complement. Now I wonder if that was just another way to distance me as her changeling. Another thing she called me when I was little or her fairy child.

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I’m a lot like my grandmother and my mom greatly disliked her mother. Grandma was adventurous, curious and always learning new things, all the things my mother wasn’t. Grandma and my Uncle Winn were the only ones in the family that wasn’t always judging me for something. My eye disability, or because they considered me homely, my lack of athletic ability, something, and I was well aware of it early on by their tone of voice. I still react to people’s tone of voice when they speak to me, not what I see.
But Grandma saw me and not just as a mini me of her. Her gift to me after my eye surgery was not a stuffed animal or a toy but a beautifully illustrated version of Grimm’s fairy tales and not the Disney versions either, the original gruesome ones. I adored it and I still have it and one of the few times I outright tried to kill my little brother was when he coloured in it. A homicidal 7 year old is not a pretty thing.

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I spent most summers with her in their house in Leimert Park where I was the only white kid on the block and to be truthful I never noticed I was, until someone pointed it out. My grandparents never said anything to me. They were just my friends. But most days I spent lying on the wide front porch watching ants or we took drives and we went places like Marineland to talk to the whales or one of the many piers in LA or we went to see all the buildings my grandfather had designed for Hunt and Chambers. We went to the San Diego Zoo where she talked the bird keeper into letting me hold and feed the toucan. She taught me to talk to trees and to listen to nature and we took walks around the neighborhood every summer evening. She taught me divination with her gypsy deck and told me family history stories. She taught me to embroider and cross stitch on gingham and hoe to make clothes for my collection of troll dolls. She taught me chants to do when I was learning to weave paper. She taught me Scottish fairy stories, all our clans and Scottish folk songs.

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She taught me to be curious and to always keep learning. She had gone to the Alaska Gold Rush in 1906 when she was 16 by steamer with her best friend. She gave me a bracelet of wolf teeth on gold wire that she had brought back. It’s way to small for me to wear and it was way before conservation so she wouldn’t have thought about killing the wolf but it sits in my drawer and is one of my treasures. She was a member of one of the first women’s groups in the US called the Friday morning club.

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She taught me to listen and try to make good decisions based on information and logic and to always want to know WHY? unlike most of the other adults I had contact with. She taught me what other people thought of me didn’t matter, what mattered was how I felt about me. She was really my best friend and when she died when I was 17, I was totally bereft. Even though I had lost a lot of my great aunts and uncles and my great grandmother, it was the first time I knew what grief really was. I still miss her.

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She was born in Ontario Canada near Hamilton in 1890 and came to Los Angeles at the age of 11 on January 1, 1901. Her parents were born in Scotland and Northern Ireland and they went by train across Canada and down the West Coast, evidently they wanted to go cross country but couldn’t because trains were being attacked at the time going through the Southwest. She married my grandpa who was 5 years younger which I guess was a huge scandal at the time and graduated from what is now UCLA with a teaching degree in 1910.

She was an expert silver smith and leather worker and I have a trash can she made of wood and then covered in worked copper covered in woodland scenes and a table with a leather table top.She was taking Japanese cooking lessons when she died.  I just hope I measure up to her someday.

Jesse Alexandra Cumming Sjoberg, my great grandmother didn’t want a kid and was busy making jam when my grandmother decided it was time and when my great-grandfather wanted to know what to name her, she said name her after yourself, so he did.

 

Say my name that I may live – Laura Janesdaughter

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For those gone too soon:

I give thanks for those who have gone beyond the veil.

Say my name that I may live!

I give thanks that they have touched my life

Say my name that I may live!

I remember the beauty of a face

Say my name that I may live!

I remember that they laughed

Say my name that I may live!

I remember that they cried

Say my name that I may live!

I remember that they were afraid

Say my name that I may live!

I remember that they were brave

Say my name that I may live!

I remember their smile

Say my name that I may live!

I remember the good about them

Say my name that I may live!

I remember their love

Say my name that I may live!

I remember them!

Say my name that I may live!

©Kat Robb

The 2nd BunniHoTep story

This is the second story also not found anywhere else but the 2nd blog post I ever wrote. This is what I dreamed the next night. BunniHoTep was very hard on my sleep for a long while.

If you know the story of Osiris and set and the dismembering, you know what was in BunniHoTep’s basket so I’m not sure it’s a safe story for children unless you want to do some explaining of the birds and the bees.

BunniHoTep does her job or Why We Use Baskets For Eggs in Spring.

Once upon a time long, long ago in Egypt there lived a small rabbit goddess. She loved Isis and she knew Isis was very sad because a very mean god, Set had hurt the one Isis loved most, Osiris.

Legend says that Osiris was cut up by Set and scattered in 14 pieces around the ancient world but there were really a few extra bits and bobs left over. BunniHoTep decided she would find all the extra pieces left around. She knew those pieces were very important to Isis.

So BunniHoTep went out to search for the missing pieces. She searched the shores of the Nile. She searched in the corners of the big temples. She searched the Valley of the Kings. She searched in the lotus ponds and under the papyri. She searched in all low out of the way places the other gods had missed. She found many dust bunnies but no pieces of Osiris.

BUT she found the last 2 special pieces in a hawk’s nest. She was very brave and made sure Missus Hawk was not at home when she went to look. She was brave but not THAT brave.

She put the pieces in her basket and hopped back to Isis. Isis was SO happy she rewarded BunniHoTep was a very big honor. She said that when BunniHoTep was tired of being on Earth, she would place her in the full moon where everyone would see and remember her forever and this is why there is a rabbit in the moon.

Because BunniHoTep carried the pieces back in her favorite basket all easter bunnies have baskets to carry their eggs in.

The very first BunniHoTep story

This was the very first BunniHoTep story I ever wrote and it’s only been published on anything once, on my very first blog post on March 24, 2005, so as of yesterday I’ve been blogging for 11 years. I started blogging because my brother had brain cancer and was blogging about it on Livejournal and wanted me to be able to follow his journey and he knew I loved to write. What he gave me was a gift beyond measure. After he died in July of that year it gifted me with a group of lovely gay men who had been his friends and shared my grieving. He was only a year and a half younger than me and it was like losing half of myself, he had been my shadow for so long. We shared a room until I was 9, we shared so much and both turned out to be gay. I still love a lot of those wonderful men and am glad they are in my life. Blogging gave me a way to grieve and not burden every one around me. It gave me a wider spiritual community. It broadened my life in so many ways.

So here is the very first BunniHoTep story that I wrote because I dreamed it. She was born at a priestess meeting of TOILA, it was our first meeting for priestess’ and that afternoon Inannamoon and I were going to Ellen Cannon Reed’s memorial so we had her Egyptian book out and there was a hieroglyph of a bunny but no real explanation of the meaning that I now know is the word “to be” but then no one remembered what it was but someone smarted off that it was “BunniHoTep!” and we laughed and went on to something else but that night I started to dream stories about a small brown Egyptian Goddess named BunniHoTep, she was the Goddess of lost objects and the small joys in life. So here she is:

The Tale of the Tail
Once upon a time in a time very long ago there was a very small Egyptian rabbit
goddess. Her name was BunniHoTep. She was a beautiful rabbit with soft,
soft fur and a long bushy tail. She was very vain about this tail. It was a
pretty color and swooshed behind her. It did have a slight problem because
when she hopped it landed in the dirt.

Every day she would groom her tail and if she asked nicely Bast would help
her brush it out so it shined and shined.

BunniHoTep loved to go down to the banks of the Nile and watch the fish
swim by. She could watch for hours and hours. One day while she was
watching the fish a crocodile snuck up behind her and opened his very big
mouth with its very big teeth. BunniHoTep turned around and saw the very,
big, nasty crocodile and gave a big leap away and hopped and hopped for her
life. She heard the jaws go snap as she sped away. She hopped all the way
to Isis and Hathor’s House. (They were sharing a summer Temple that year.)
As she was nearly there realized she was hurting and slowed down and looked
behind her. Her beautiful tail was gone.

BunniHoTep cried and cried, “Oh. it hurts.” she said. Nursing her bunny
hiney. “My lovely, lovely tail is gone.” She cried softly to herself. But
she didn’t cry softly enough and kind Isis and Hathor heard her.

Isis and Hathor picked her up and cradled her and soothed her hurt bunny
behind.

BunniHoTep sobbed to Isis. “What will I do without my tail? It was so soft
and lovely and cushioned me when I landed.”

Hathor thought carefully and knew she had just the thing and went quickly
into the house and came back. She handed Isis an object and said to Isis.
“See if this works.”

Isis it took and laughed and said this will be perfect and she put the soft
thing right where BunniHoTep’s tail used to be. BunnieHoTep looked down
and her behind. There where her lovely long tail had been was one of
Hathor’s powder puffs. It was lovely and soft and white and was much more
practical than a long tale.

And that is why bunnies have fluffy powder puff tales.

Yule Cookie – English Matrimonials

English Matrimonials

1 ½ cups sifted flour
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1 ¼ cup rolled oats
½ teaspoon of salt
¾ cup of butter
3/4 cup of raspberry jam (Mom used Mary Ellen but use the good stuff)

Measure flour, sugar, oats, salt and butter into bowl.
Mix with hands to a crumb-like consistency
Place half of mixture in an ungreased 6×10 Pyrex pan and press firmly
Cover with jam and top with remaining half of mixture
Press firmly
Bake in a preheated 325 degree oven for 40-45 minutes

Should be slightly candied around the edges and not too moist in center
Cut when cool
Makes 3-5 dozen

The recipe can be used as a dessert by substituting 1 can of whole berry cranberry sauce or cherry or apple pie filling for the jam. Serve warm with ice cream.