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Tomte Finds a Home

The night was silent, not even the owl was calling. The tomte looked up at the night sky. Oh, so many stars flew in flocks overhead. The tomte trudged through the snow that was so deep he kept disappearing into deep holes and he was getting wet from climbing out of snowdrifts.

The tomte was looking for a new home. Tomtes had to have homes with families to look after and his family had left their house and moved far away. Tomtes belong on farms and not in the city so he was looking for a new home and some big people who would appreciate him and of course, didn’t already have their own tomte. The tomte sighed, as he made his way through the snow, he really wanted a home for Yule. He wanted children to bring gifts to and a farmer to bless with help on his farm. That is what tomtes did and he didn’t feel right not helping people.

He straightened his tall red pointed cap and tugged his beard straight and climbed out of yet another snow drift when he saw a light in the distance. He was so tired and wet. There was no point in using a drying spell if he was just going to get wet again. He trudged toward the light and came to a large new barn and peered inside. No other tomte was in sight. That was a good sign. He went in and found two cows drowsing in their stalls.

“Cows?” He whispered quietly, “Does a tomte live here?”

The first cow who was a beautiful light brown, looked down at the tomte. “No, we haven’t got a tomte and the family really needs one. This is a brand new farm and my name is Elsie”

“Hello Elsie, very pleased to meet you, my name is Karl, do you think they would mind a little help? Are they the kind of people who would be good to help? ”

The second cow lowed and said, “I’m Delsie and they have never been farmers before and they do need help and they have been very kind to us. I think we are their only wealth and they take very good care of us. I heard them say to the children that they might not get very much for Jul but that that wasn’t what was important. Being together was important.”

This made the tomte think. These might be the people he needed. The cows were beautiful and healthy and that was a very good thing since they hadn’t had a tomte to help them. He thought he’d go watch the family quietly if he could just to make sure they were his people.

The tomte trudged through the snow following some big people footprints back to the house. That made moving through the fresh snow a little easier. He followed the light falling through the window onto the snow and peered into the house from behind the new shutters. The tomte was impressed with how they had been sanded to a shiny soft shine and stained. These people took good care of what they had and had been doing it without a tomte!

In the main room stood a small tree that had been brought into the house in a pot. It’s branches had been hung with strands of popped corn and red berries. There were handmade ornaments of paper that had been obviously done by the children and he could see the mother cutting carefully into paper to make more snowflakes to hang on the tree. The two children were lying on the rug in front of the fire listening to a story that the grandmother was telling. It looked like she was knitting good wool socks as she spoke. The father was sitting smoking his pipe and listening and looking at the family with love and pride in his eyes. The tomte saw that there were no gifts under the Jul tree. He also saw that their clothes had been carefully mended but showed signs of hard wear. The tomte straightened his red hat and thought, “these people look like they could use a tomte like me! I need to help them!”

The tomte made his way over to the door and was about to go through as all tomtes can when the door swung open and the father came out to get more firewood. “That was easier!” thought the tomte as he quickly went to the house and hid behind the hanging brooms in the kitchen.

He waited into the father came in, stamping his feet to get the rest of the snow off and removing his boots. The father then piled the load carefully in the rack and went to hurry everyone to bed. It was Solstice Eve and farmwork and cows still had to be tended to in the early morning. The tomte watched as the family went to bed. The children went to the loft and the parents and grandmother to their rooms downstairs. The house settled down and it became very quiet with only the sound of snow falling off the trees and the slight sigh of the wind.

The tomte went to the mud room first. He cleaned the farmer’s boots and added a waterproofing spell. He then cleaned all the family’s clogs and shoes that were there and waterproofed them too. He went into the kitchen and charmed the pots so they wouldn’t burn the food and he had fun helping the yeast to grow in the bread and Jul rolls rising on the counter above the old wood burning stove. He polished the iron stove and charmed it too so the wood would burn evenly and there would be even heating.

He moved into the main room and stood looking at the lovingly decorated tree. It wasn’t very big but it was still lovely. He liked that the family had carefully dug up a live tree and were obviously going to put it outside again when they could. He liked that they hadn’t killed a tree for the holiday. The tomte decided to make the tree shine. He charmed the red berries to gleam and shine and he made the wooden ornaments glow just a little. He changed the paper snowflakes into flakes of shiny crystal that gleamed in the dimness. He put a spell on the candles that were on the tree to never cause harm and to go out when they burned down. He stood back and looked at his tree. It looked magical. What else could he do?

Tomtes give gifts but he didn’t know what this family wanted. What would be good? What would really help? Meanwhile while he thought, he very quietly left piles of nuts and fruit and candy in the slippers by each bed. The family all looked so peaceful and he felt so good to help. This is what a tomte did best but what would be the biggest help? He decided to go ask Elsie and Delsie what to do.

He hurried through the snow and back to that mostly empty barn to his new friends. “Elsie! Delsie! Your family is so wonderful and they love each other so much. I want to do something wonderful for them this Jul! Do you know anything they want or need?”

Elsie thought carefully, “They have love in plenty and isn’t that the greatest gift?” Delsie nodded her big head.

Delsie said quietly, “If you are helping them, they will have prosperity. What else do they need? Besides don’t tomtes all have goats? Where’s your goat?”

The tomte knew they were right but he still wanted to do something special. And then he knew what he was going to do and found a place in the hay and went quickly to sleep.

Early the next morning, the tomte woke up and cleaned the hay off. He peeked out. The farmer must not be up yet. He couldn’t see any lights in the kitchen. So he crept in the house and unbanked the fire in the stove and set the table. He went back outside and sent a call out to anyone that was listening.

“I’m a tomte and I need a goat? Is there anyone who needs a tomte and a place?” The tomte counted to himself, 1….2…..3……. and there was a small flash and a very young black and white goat was looking shyly at the tomte.

“You asked for a goat? I’m ready! The goat said eagerly.

The tomte looked at the tiny goat, “what’s your name?”

“Flicka” said the goat shyly.

Suddenly the door opened behind the tomte. He froze in place holding the goats mane.

And the farmer came out with his newly clean boots on.

The farmer smiled down at the tomte. “Are you the one that cleaned my boots?” the big man roared out.

The tomte shivered a little. He wasn’t supposed to be caught by the big people. “yes” he said very quietly.

The farmer got down to the tomte’s level and looked in his eyes. He held out his big hand to the tomte. By now the tomte was thoroughly confused. Big people coming down to his size? That hadn’t ever happened before.

“Thank you” the farmer said. “They look cleaner than when I bought them. “Thank you very much!” The tomte started to shake. The farmer was really big up close. “How can I help a tomte today?”

The tomte was now even more confused. “But I need to help you not you help me.” The tomte stammered out. “I need to know if you need anything.”

The farmer looked into the deep blue eyes of the tomte. The tomte noticed the whole family had come to the door and was listening. This was sooo not how it was supposed to work.

The farmer looked at the tomte kindly and back at his family. “All we need this Jul is a good friend. Are you a good friend, Sir Tomte?”

“I think so, I try to be.”

“Well”, said the farmer. Welcome to the house, Sir Tomte and please come in.” The farmer stood up and walked back in the house.

Karl, the tomte followed and when they were inside. He looked up at the farmer and around to the smiling family. “Could I be your Tomte?” he asked quietly.

The farmer looked at the tomte, “I thought you already were. Welcome to our house.” The whole family cheered and the tomte looked at his family and sighed. It was good to be home.

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Bjorn the bear’s winter dream

Once upon time there was a small bear named Bjorn. Bjorn was born in a far northern forest up where it was very, very cold in winter. Bjorn had been born in the dead of winter with his brother and sister, Berta and Esben. They spent that first winter cuddled close to their mama and as they got older she started to tell them stories about the outside world.

Deep in their den she told them about tall trees they would see and deep, cold lakes and about the high mountains around the place they lived. He heard about the salmon that swam in the rivers in spring and about the rabbits and squirrels that lived near the den. His mom told them where they could find a honey tree and where the best back scratching trees were.

When spring came there were no more stories, Mama led them out into a world of wonder. To the bear’s eyes the world was born anew just for them. The snow was gone and the water ran clear. Mama taught them to hunt and to fish. She taught them how to hide in plain sight as they grew. She taught them to stay away from people. People had guns and guns hurt bears.

They grew quickly ambling along in the forest and the summer passed in beautiful days of deep burning blue skies and sunlit days in their northern forest. As the days got shorter Mama showed them where the best blackberry bushes were and the cubs stuffed themselves fat. They got so sticky Mama had to dunk them all in the spring and in late fall they went back to their den to sleep. This year, when they woke up in their long sleep Mama would tell them about a tree that she had seen one winter not far from their lair. She had woken in up on Solstice night and had felt the need to walk in the quiet of the forest. It had been silent except for the owls and she had seen a bright light.

Mama bear followed the light across the forest and watched it land in a little pine trees branches. The tree had stood there bearing the star in its branches and had lit up their forest. It was so beautiful. The bear had gone back to her den to sleep after the lovely sight and had never managed to wake up again on Solstice Night. The cubs bothered her the rest of winter for that story. It became their favourite winter story and Bjorn began to have a dream. He wanted to stay awake and see the tree and the star but that winter was deep and cold and the bears slept most of the winter and didn’t come out until the next spring.

The bear cubs were bigger that year and Mama spent most of the summer teaching them how to be on their own. That fall they would have to make their own dens for the first time. She taught them how much they needed to eat to store enough fat to make it through the winter. She taught them how to make it cozy and she taught them how to stay away from other bigger bears. Soon it came to be fall and the cubs split up for the first and last time. Each of them choosing a different direction to go and seek a place to make their own and all the time he was choosing and making his own den, Bjorn day dreamed. He was going to find some way to wake up and see the tree and star.

He kept trying to figure out a way to wake himself up. His mother had told him that just wasn’t possible, that if he was meant to see it he would wake up in exactly the right time to see it, otherwise it just wasn’t meant to be. She had supposed that it was something most bears would ever see once in a life time and then only if they were very, very lucky. She didn’t even know if it happened every year or if it had happened only once. She had never heard anybody else in the forest ever talk about it.

Bjorn swore he would be that lucky bear! He would wake up on Winter Solstice and he would see that star and his friend, the tree. He wanted to know what that special night was like. He wanted it with all his heart and he kept whispering to himself as he lay down for his winter nap to “Remember to wake up! Remember to wake up!”

He extremely disappointed to wake up and it was almost spring. It was different in a den by yourself with no brother and sister and no mama to tell you tales. He had slept the winter away and missed it. He was horribly disappointed and fell back asleep until spring had truly arrived.

This went on for several years and Bjorn had decided it just was a dream his mom had dreamed and maybe he should just give it up. Bears belonged in dens in the winter sleeping not roaming around in the cold and dark forest.

Bjorn was making his den again one fall and he remembered the story but just shook his great black head. No point in wishing, he would just sleep anyway and tucked himself into his lair but this year was different.

One cold, cold clear night Bjorn woke up. At first he was disoriented. What had woken him up? And then he heard it. He could hear a faint chiming and see a bit of light filtering in the entrance to his den. “Could it be? Could it really truly be?”

Bjorn shot out of his den and pushed the heavy snow way from his den and stood up. The light was coming from the north but not very far away at all! He started to move quickly through the snow. He saw other animals around him, a small herd of elk. Snowshoe hares that should have been asleep were lolloping through the snow. White owls that flew silently over head hooting softly. “Come, come celebrate with usssss”

And they came. They came to a tree that was standing all alone in a field of deep snow. In the tree’s branches a star hung nestled at the top and shedding star dust all around. The snow sparkled and shone all around. The animals crept closer and closer and soon it seemed every kind of animal was there and on this night it felt like they were all friends. A deep peace hung over the forest and the only thing that could be heard was a soft chiming from the star.

Bjorn had never felt this way before. No hunger, no need to hunt, just a need to be with other creatures and to maybe, just maybe have friends and be at peace. He looked at the other animals. They seemed to be feeling the same thing as they sat in large circles around that tree absorbing the blessing of the tree and the star and Bjorn thought to himself, “Sometimes having a dream come true is better than any dream.”

He sat in the snow and a small hare snuggled up to him and then a squirrel. A great deer lay down near by and an owl sat in the rack of his antlers. For this night there was peace in the forest and the blessing of a star from far away and a lonely little tree that was his friend.

***This follows yesterday’s “Lonely Little Star” and is available here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/146621239X/ref=mp_s_a_1?qid=1354728417&sr=8-1&pi=SL75

The Lonely Little Star

Once upon a time there was a lonely little star. She shone up in the sky every night but she shone all alone. There were no other stars for millions of miles. For millions of years she went round and around another star called Polaris because that was what all stars did near her and she got fainter and fainter.

One day the Star Goddess couldn’t stand it any more. All the other stars she shepherded were fine for stars are like sheep and have to be shepherded very carefully. They shone brightly each night and lit the night just like they were supposed to do but this little star was different. She wasn’t part of a constellation and she was way, way at the tip of her nebula so the Star Goddess could see how she could be lonely so she went to visit the lonely little star.

“Astra.” For that was the lonely little star’s name. “What can I do to help you shine bright like all my other stars?”

The lonely little star twinkled at the Star Goddess. “Keep me company?” Astra asked shyly.

“No, you know better than that. I have an immense flock of stars to keep watch on. There are millions and millions of you and you all keep moving all the time. I know time moves very slowly for you out here and not even a comet has come to visit you in a long time so I have a suggestion. See that tiny planet down there?” She pointed to a blue and green marble way down below.

The star twinkled faintly at her. “Yes. Why?”

“I want you to watch that planet for a year and see if there is anything you can do to help someone down there on it and if you do I’ll have a surprise for you.”

So the lonely little star started her vigil watching Earth for a year. She saw ships that sailed on the sea but no one seemed to need the kind of help she could give.

She watched the people who lived in the desert but no one seemed to need her there either.

She watched jungles in the Amazon but life seemed to be very busy in that jungle although she could see things like the cutting and burning of lots of trees.

She didn’t like seeing trees hurt but how could she stop the hurt? She became very interested in trees as she roamed over the world at night she looked at all the different kinds of trees. There were tall ones and skinny, funny looking ones with poufs at the top. There were tiny squat ones on the edge of cliffs or in deserts. There were trees that were constantly blown by the wind and trees that always had their feet in the water.

She crossed over the poles and one night while the Aurora was watching, below her she saw him, a tree all alone. He was a sturdy little tree. She saw that he was a beautiful deep green. He was very far north on the blue and green marble.

She watched him every night as she passed over the Pole. Sometimes he was covered in white stuff. Some times he wasn’t but he looked cold standing there all alone. She wondered how he got there since there were no other trees near him.

One time she did see some large animals with big antlers pass by him. It reminded her of how the stars move through the sky.

One day when the planet was tilting toward the star that was their Sun the Star Goddess came back.

“Is my year up already?” Astra asked.

The Star Goddess smiled at the little star. The little star didn’t know that ever since the star had found the little tree she had been growing brighter and brighter every night. She now shown so brightly that she could be seen on that little blue and green ball.

She also didn’t know that the Star Goddess had had a conversation with Gaia, the Earth Goddess. For the Earth Goddess was having a problem with a certain lonely little tree who was very, very lonely, so lonely that not even squirrels and birds visited him and they had a plan, “Little Star? What do you want your wish to be?” the Star Goddess asked.

“There is a tree that stands all alone in the snow. It looks so lonely. Do you think I could meet him?”

The star looked up at the Goddess with hope in her eyes.

“Do you mean the one that’s way up on top of the ball where it’s almost always white?”

“Yes!’ The star twinkled at her. “No one ever visits him except big herds of some beast and they only run by him. They don’t seem to stay and chat.”

“You mean the reindeer?” The Goddess asked.

“Reindeer? So that’s what they are. I wondered.”

“I have a job for you and I think you are going to like it. You might even make it your wish when you hear it.”

“What!” The star was bopping all over in excitement and getting brighter and brighter and somewhere down on Earth there were three very confused astronomers watching and wondering.

“Well, I talked to Gaia about you and she says she wants you to meet that very tree you have been watching. He has been drooping and she is very worried about him because trees live a long, long time. Not quite as long as stars but a long time down on Earth but he isn’t going to live very long if he doesn’t cheer up. Now, here is what I want you to do.”

And she whispered in the star’s ear.

“Just for tonight?”

“Just for tonight and if all goes well next year too and the year after that.”

“Ooooooh! Goody!” squealed the little star.

And the star began to compress herself into a very, very, very tiny ball of very bright light.

The star whizzed down to Earth heading for that small tree way up on top of the world. She slid down the Northern Lights and bounced across the stone and snow until she came to the tree she had been watching.

People everywhere that Solstice Night, for it was Winter Solstice, saw a bright light move across the sky to the north and called out to each other about it but the star didn’t know anything about that.

“Hi! Tree!” twinkled the star at the lonely tree. “I’m here to visit you!”

The tree looked up at the little star.

“Why do you want to do that? No one ever visits me but reindeer passing by. I haven’t seen anybody else since a big black bird dropped me here when I was just a cone.”

“I’ve been watching you from way up in the sky and the Star Goddess said I could visit any one I liked on Earth and I picked you!”

The tree was quite astonished. Someone had noticed him! He didn’t think anybody but the reindeer, that big black bird and maybe Gaia knew he was here. He stood up a little straighter. He could have a friend after all.

“Would you like to rest in my branches?” asked the tree. “You must have come a very long way.”

“Oh, that would be nice.”

And the star settled down on top of the trees very top. As she settled in star dust fell off her and made the tree glow with hundreds of little lights. The Star Goddess had been careful to make sure that when the star visited she wouldn’t burn anything. The star and the tree started to get to know each other and as they started chatting something strange began to happen.

Some birds noticed the beautiful shining little tree and they came to visit. Then the reindeer came around to chat with both of them and drink in the beautiful sight of the star and tree shining on this longest night. Squirrels and badgers and bears woke up from their winter’s nap just to go see the beautiful sight knowing they would have to go to sleep again soon.

Owls and other night birds came to see. Pretty soon the little lonely tree and the little lonely star were surrounded by a party of animals and never noticed that they weren’t lonely anymore.

The night sped through all too swiftly and soon the sky began to get pink and yellow and the star knew she had to go back up into the heavens.

“I have to go now.” The star told the tree. “But the Star Goddess says I can come again next year. You only have to wait a little while and I’ll come again, I promise!”

The tree nodded but not too sadly. Now that all the birds and animals knew he was there they promised him they would visit too.

“I’ll see you next year!”

The tree cried. And the star flew back up into the sky of dawn light. She twinkled at Venus as she whizzed by. She had a friend now.

She settled back into her cold bit of space and watched over the little tree. The next Winter Solstice would come again soon enough and she wanted to shine bright enough that her new friends would be able to see her every night.

And so the little star and the little tree weren’t lonely any longer and the Star Goddess and Gaia saw this and knew this was a good thing.

And one year on their nightly visit a lone woodsman was out and saw them in their beauty and splendour and it made him feel very good and the next year he decorated a tree in front of his cabin just like he had seen the little tree shining.

And now little trees shine at Winter Solstice all over the world with stars on top and deep in the northern part of the world under the Aurora Borealis every Winter Solstice a very, very, very tall tree still lights the northern snow on the longest of winter nights with his friend the little star.

This story and others available here:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/146621239X/ref=mp_s_a_1?qid=1354602640&sr=8-1π=SL75

Kat

The Lonely Little Tree 

The Lonely Little Tree looked out across the freshly fallen snow. His friend the Lonely Little Star would visit soon and he couldn’t wait. Soon the night he waited for would come and his first but not only friend would come down from the heavens, she had never failed to come.

The Tree was now tall and healthy and green. There were nests that nestled in branches and a badger had dug a home at his feet and Elen’s reindeer had already come around this year.

The Tree was getting a bit anxious about whole thing. The snow was not as thick as it should be and it wasn’t as cold as it should be. It was getting warmer and warmer every winter.

Bears who should have been sleeping like his friend Bjorn were wandering around. The snow shoe hares that should have changed to a white coat already were now changing before the snow came and that wasn’t good since then they stood out against the ground.

Other trees now grew within his sight, he no longer stood alone out on the snowy plain.

The Tree worried about his friends as he watched the Aurora weave through the sky in beautiful bright colours.  Why were things changing? He had lived a very long time now. He had a wide strong trunk and he was firmly and deeply rooted but were the other trees? Did their roots go deep enough to reach the receding waters. He wondered about so many things as he listened to wind move through the quiet wood.

So he looked to the sky and he watched the beauty of the twisting shifting Aurora. He loved to see the colours of the Northern Lights, the greens and blues and sometimes if he was very lucky shades of brilliant red. Sometimes it looked like a shifting wall of light, sometimes other shapes scrolled across the lengthening night’s sky. Astra had told him it was from winds that came from the Sun but he didn’t care it was beautiful and for a while he forgot his worries.

He simply was. He was shelter. He was a sturdy home and a good friend. He was shade on warm sunny day in summer and when the snow piled up he was a warm shelter the animals around could dig into deeply. He knew things were changing and he didn’t know why. He just knew he would stand as long as he could. And he would wait for his friend, Astra and their yearly visit.

His friend, Astra had taught him many things, to be patient, that is was okay to be alone sometimes. And for one night a year to be a light in the darkness, to be a bright spot for the friends around him.

And then the one night something wondrous happened, Aurora came to visit him!

The winding, twirling tapestry of light lightly touched down in front of him. The Lonely Little Tree watched in wonder as Aurora shifted.

“Welcome!” cried the Lonely Little Tree.

“Hello, and thanks,” said a soft voice, “Blessed Solstice!”

“And blessings to you, replied the excited tree! What brings you down from the sky?”

“The Solar wind and the sky Goddess.” laughed the Aurora.

“I bring love, and light and a warning.”

“And warning?” whispered the Lonely Little Tree, “What about?”

“Things are changing as they always have. It’s going to get very hard before it gets better and probably very scary for everyone.”

” But someday it will get better?” asked the Tree.

“Hopefully,” said the Aurora thoughtfully.

“What can I do?” asked the Tree.

“Simply be who you are. Stand fast, care for others, protect those who need it and can’t protect themselves.”

” But I do that already,” replied the Tree.

“I know,” said the Aurora, “But now it’s even more important. And the only real thing we have that will last is love.”

” Just love?” the Tree asked.

“Love and all things that go with it. The actions we take because we love will always make things better.” The Aurora twirled a bit in the northern stillness and silence while the little Tree thought about what the Aurora had said.

“I can do that,” he thought, “I can be a refuge,  I can provide food, I can be for others. I can love and I can live.”

While he was thinking Aurora had twirled back up into sky and was shining brightly. Her colours of green, and blue and red rippling across the sky in beautiful ribbons and bands.

The Lonely Little Tree was still a worried but now he felt he could do something and that made all the difference in the world.

I welcome Autumn

I turn my face to the east to welcome this Autumn morning.

The shimmering, sparkling green gold of the palm tree out my window.

The throaty croak of the raven watching over the neighborhood.

The fresh touch of the first cleansing winds of fall.

The castenet rattle of sycamore’s brown leaves.

The scold of the greedy squirrel in the tangerine tree.

The welcoming wave of the winds in the trees.

The fresh fall colours starting in the liquidambers.

The calmness of a quiet morning.

The blessing of a warm cat’s cuddle in the first chill of the season.

I welcome autumn with its fire and colour. I welcome the coming sleep of the trees. I welcome the harvest. I welcome a time of reflection and thanks. I welcome Autumn.

Magic and stories in Photos Part 3

 

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To get a degree in Naturalist Interpreter/Ourdoor Resource Management one of my required classes was Backpacking. Since most of us turned out to be experienced backpackers, the professor decided one of our trips would be crosscountry skiiing up in Mammoth because none of us had done that and it was winter semester. We were supposed to be there a week but I had to go back a day early but that is another tale. One of the mornings we skiied to a hotspring to take a dip and when I was studying photography one of the guys was talking about how he wanted to get the elusive star effect on film without using a filter. I admit I eavesdropped. On the way back from the hotsprings I turned around and took this. Its a wee bit red but time can do that to Kodak Kodachrome since it favours reds and yellows. I got home and I’d gotten my star. My photography professor entered in a Kodak college photo contest and it was one of the top 60 in the country and was displayed at O’Hare airport where of course I never saw it. It was still very exciting even if it was almost 40 years ago.

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I went to visit Denise and Mary by myself last January and we took a walk late in the afternoon at Jackson Bottom Nature Preserve. It had rained all weekend and a lot of it was under water but it was nice to get out of the house and breathe. When you know someone you love with all your heart is dying sometimes you have to get out of the house and ground. The caretaking becomes too much and your heart needs a rest. So I got Denise out of the house for a walk after we did some necessary shopping. The geese were coming in on the flyway for the night and there were few people there and it was late enough that things were starting to silhouette against the sky. I love teasels. Something that our female ancestors used to card wool and linen. Something that can bite you since the spines can be a bit sharp but something that to me is beautiful in its simplicity.

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Right before Laura died my sister and I went out to the Sepulveda Wildlife Refuge and on trail that is less taken there were a flock of vultures. I had never seen them from less than 10 feet away and they didn’t seem to mind us. All I could think of was the Goddess Nehbet whose head is a vulture. She’s a matron goddess of Upper Egypt. I just love their wings and I got this one just taking off, such a gift.

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This is last year at our camp reunion. This camp sits square on the edge of the San Andreas. That valley and drop off? It’s the fault. Old Arts and Crafts building had the fault straight down across the one lane camp road. When one is raised in Southern California you get hyper aware of the earthquake faults. There was a shower that used to hang out over the fault that they have since torn down. I used to worry it was going to drop off and then I got a bigger worry, one time a rattlesnake took refuge there when I was taking a shower. He was in the dressing area and everyone was at Mass in the chapel so I was trapped naked in the shower wrapped in the curtain until the two maintenance guys happened to come by and I could yell for help. Cured my fear of the fault.

 

 

Why growing up in a church home can really hurt – part 1

I’ve been thinking a lot about Orlando and about how so many pastors condemned the dead and not the shooter. It brought back a lot of bad memories of growing up in church and hiding for all the years before I came out and had to leave the church or rather, they left me.

I was raised in the largest Presbyterian church in the US at the time. We always had a minimum of 5 pastors, an executive pastor, an asst, a pastor that did hospital visits, a youth pastor, a college pastor and we also had Christian ED heads, usually the only woman on the executive staff and a Minister of Music. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Presbyterian_Church_of_Hollywood

There were a multitude of choirs and we were world famous for the one that ranked the highest. I started in Carol Choir and moved up to the all girl Lyric choir in Junior high, I was also in a special choir that sang at Junior Church, Wylie Chapel Choir during second service which was supposed to be an honour to be asked to be in but most of us were choir brats whose parents were in the main choir, The Cathedral choir. There was also a High School choir and a choir that was a mix of people not good enough to be in Cathedral Choir and college kids that I skipped called the Chancel Choir and got into Cathedral Choir after High School and I was in the Sunday night choir called the Happening, (hey it was the 70s.) and we got to sing more modern music. We also had a bell choir for each age group and I was in those along with my brother and eventually my sister.

We started Sunday School at 2 years of age and started learning the Bible and memorizing to for awards, a Bible in third grade, filling up shields with memorized passages, (they were shields because they represented the armour of God). This why the holy rollers and Bible beaters can’t get far with me because I usually know the Bible better than they do. I was in Church every Sunday and at Bible Study during the week when I was older. We took catechism in 7th grade to become members of the church and that was the first big time I was aware that maybe I didn’t fit in. I had feelings before this about it. I had difficulty memorizing and Saturday nights before I had to recite some new thing were absolute torture, if I couldn’t sing it I had real trouble remembering  it. I felt really bad about it. I was told I wasn’t trying hard enough.

The year I joined the church I had to make some decisions. At the time I was dad’s punching bag when he got mad and I decided to tell the Elder that interviewed us to join about it and I did and I was told to honour my father and mother in all things. So I made my first act of rebellion. I refused to get baptized when I joined the church. Presbyterians dedicate their babies to raise them in the church and you are supposed to be baptized when you join the church. I told my parents it was because I didn’t want to get up in front of the church which shouldn’t have made any sense since we had to be in the front of the church to join and I was in front all the time when I was in choir and when I did other things but they bought it, even though my best friend was doing it.

My Dad was Head Usher, he was an Elder, he had been a Deacon. He had status in church and I did not. My mom was in Cathedral Choir, and was at one point, President of the Women’s Auxillary, She was President of Elder’s Wives and when women were allowed to be Deacons and Elders she became a Deacon. Wives and husbands couldn’t be Elders or Deacons at the same time. They were in their adult Sunday School classes. Mom was also the Executive Secretary for the Minister of Music. She had status.

We were in church at least 3 days a week, usually more. The only respite I got was summer when I was with my grandparents who for some reason did not go in the summer. That was when we took trips to be in nature. That was when I became a sponge to what my grandmother was teaching about nature and faeries and family stories. That was when I was free.

About 7th grade I became aware that I liked girls way more than the girls around me who liked boys. So not only did what they were teaching in church make me in uncomfortable but the only kind of church I felt at home in was when we went to camp.

They sent us to some conference where the minister yelled about the evils of holding hands and kissing boys and I felt relieved because I had no desire to do it anyway.

I would sit in Sunday School and make up questions to ask my Sunday School teachers. Miss Pringle was our 7th grade Sunday School teacher. She was older than God and had no business teaching a bunch of 12 year olds in the late 1960s. We were smarter than her and we knew it. I remember asking why is was okay for Mary to be an unwed mother and not us? She freaked out at the question and scolded all of us. This was on my mind because my mother has started going on about being an unwed mother and that it would be the worst thing in the world if I did that. Since I didn’t like boys, I found it amusing.

But I was feeling more and more alienated and out of place and the feeling only grew as I got older. No one ever told me there was such a thing as lesbians and this was pre-Stonewall. I only ever heard about gay men and how it was so sad about them being “HOMOSEXUALS” even though I could see Jim in my mom’s choir was anything but sad and I loved him because he was always encouraging me to try new things like design needlework patterns. He loved to needlepoint and at the time I did a lot of it too.