Wednesday, June 26, 2002

The Crone Has Flown

Goodbye Blogger. Goodbye Ev. Goodbye old template. Goodbye old posts. Goodbye old archves. Goodbye old comments. Goodbye old URL.

The Crone has flown to Movable Type and her own domain on the coat tails of theonetruebix and his Spartaneity Project.

So, link to me now at

Or else....

Consensual Amnesia (Why Dissent Matters)
I have a hard time keeping up with the pithy (no, I'm not lisping) stuff that b!X is tossing into his blog these days. But his intensity makes in unnecessary for me to blog about the depressing and oppressing tenor of the times. All I have to do is link you back to him. So that's what I'm doing to clue you in about the illegality of the pledge of allegiance, here and here; the citizen rebellion in Northampton, Massachusetts; and the environmental tragedy of progress.

And while he's running virtually around to gather all of that crictical citizen information, he's also been working on revving up, with my new blog as the current project. So, watch for the Crone's Grand Re-opening in MT, coming soon to a screen near you.

And, by the way, forget Aunt Sally, Rage Boy. The Crone is three for three.)

Tuesday, June 25, 2002

Conspicuous by its absence... mention -- in the blogs that I read -- about Dave Winer's bi-pass heart surgery that was the painful result of his cigarette smoking. I know that many of my blogger friends smoke. I'm sure that they don't want to think about what happened to Dave. Obviously, they don't want to blog about it. (I think that's called "denial.") Except I noticed that b!X, also a smoker, is forcing himself to take a hard look at the issue.

So, if you smoke and are reading this, please take your own hard look at what Dave has to say, including this:

OK, here's the deal. I did not have a heart attack, but it was close. I had bypass surgery, which I am now recovering from. It was my fault -- I had classic warning signs that I ignored. No family history of heart disease. Most important -- I wanted to keep smoking. The numbers are good if I quit smoking. If I don't the numbers are totally awful.

Blogging about what you went through is doing a real service for your fellow bloggers, Dave. I know that they probably don't want to hear it. All the more reason for you to blog it.

How fragile our real lives really are.

I feel fortunate that I never got into smoking -- just some early adolescent puffs out the bathroom window and some late adolescent drags while playing college sophisticate. I had very bad asthma as a kid; I knew getting hooked on nicotine would probably mean giving up non-stop lindy-hopping. And I'd always rather be dancing -- although these days Salsa is my preference.
Meet the Geek Icon
She's young, she's smart, she thinks, she writes, she sees, she cares, she believes. She's the subject of Frank Paynter's latest interview. Andrea Roceal James, my Apprentice Crone. Check her out, in words and pics. The world needs more like her.

Monday, June 24, 2002

The Crone Chants a Full Moon Om.
The full moon commands the deep night sky. I take my ritual outside, stand with arms outstretched to the bright promise of the moon. I wear the shirt on which I painted the magic mandala. I chant. Aum. Aum. Aum -- the sacred sound of OM. I watch the thin strands of clouds move into the form of the syllable. There is no wind. There is no sound other than the hum of the universe.

Sons are borne. Sons are born. Sons are borne. This full moon is for my son, too far away to see the sky as I see it. Across the continent, tonight I send magic through the ether. Tomorrow, I send magic through the mail. The Crone chants Om. Om. Om. See the mandala moon. Chant Om. Intend. Become.
Blogdom as the Village Water Pump
From an print newspaper article by Jay Bookman, who writes for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

In his 1964-classic "Understanding Media," Marshall McLuhan related the story of several post war villages in India where UNESCO, the United National relief agency, had installed pipes to deliver running water to each home. After a few months, village elders went to UNESCO officials and asked that the pipes be ripped out.

The villagers had realized that nobody congregated any longer at the village well, where they used to wait in line to fill their water jugs. The well had been the communal center of village life, the place where gossip was exchanged and village values reinforced. It was the place where the village met to create a sense of identity.

I suppose that when "The Well" was created, the idea was to bring that village well into cyberspace. What has really accomplished that miracle, however, is blogging. We meet here to exchange gossip, reinforce "geek" values, argue politics, and share opinions on everything from gender issues to software preferences. And, just like at the old village water pump, we each establish our very specific voice, recognizable after a while by all of the others who gather with us. Then instead of a couple of us going back to my hut to balance some herbal refreshment on our laps while we hash over more personal trials and tribulations, we e-mail or instant message, with our cups of coffee or tea balanced (just as precariously) on our CPUs.

Just as the village values were reinforced at the village water pump, the values of a non-discriminatory, free-speaking global village are constantly being reinforced at the flowing pump of our collective blogs. We are becoming a village with our own identity.

Saturday, June 22, 2002

Being a Woman is Often No Treat
This post and this one on Blog Sisters have drawn attention to the fact that religious fundamentalists around the world are joining forces to halt the efforts of women around the world to ensure their rights as autonomous human beings.

Back in 1975, the First world Conference on Women in Mexico City called for a Treaty for the Rights of Women. I still have in my jewelry box the pin that I bought to assert my support of that still U.S.-unratified Treaty and of the (finally) official acknowledgement by the United Nations of International Women's Day (which was first established in 1911). The bird-in-flight design of that pin is the logo for the current web site of the Treaty for the Rights of Women.

I am asking that all who read my weblog take action and overwhelm our government "leaders" with statements of support for this Treaty. Why? Because (as the Treaty site indicates) even though the lives of women in some countries have improved, there is still much that needs to be done on these issues:

-- Female genital mutilation: 130 million women are victims worldwide;
-- Maternal mortality: 510,000 women die each year from pregnancy-related complications;
-- Obstetric fistulas: some 2 million girls suffer uncontrollable leakage of urine and feces through vaginas damaged in obstructed labor, most because of forced early marriage;
-- Sex trafficking: 2 million girls are sold into sexual slavery each year;
-- HIV/AIDS: women are four times more vulnerable than men, and 1.3 million die each year;
-- Violence: an estimated 25 to 30 percent of all women experience domestic violence;
-- Discrimination: millions of women lack full legal and political rights.

Today, the headline of an Associated Press article by David Crary announces Bitter Divisions Resurface Over Global Women's Rights Treaty That U.S. Has Never Ratified. There is great pressure being exerted by Americas religious fundamentalists to join with kindred soul-less males throughout the world to to destroy the spirits of women by defeating the Treaty for Women's Rights.

Just who's really in control here?
b!X posted the other day "about a recent poll from blowhard William Bennett's new pro-war group." As usual, my erstwhile son presents the issue better than I might, ending with:

Although I do find it interesting, as always, that apparently those who make themselves allegedly subservient to a God who commands against killing might be the most willing to go unquestioningly off to kill at the behest of their government. Which, I guess, means that it's not about God -- because, well, you know, you're suppoed to obey his commandments and all -- but about a preference for being under someone else's control.

And so, again, yet another affirmation of the wisdom of my remaining an irreverent non-believer and equally irreverent citizen.

Friday, June 21, 2002

Holy Halley!

I'm back from my trek to the Maine shore, where the highlight was a chatty day spent with Halley Suitt, walking on the beach, analyzing sea weed, reading Tarot cards, and doing some major Blog Sister bonding. It was pretty windy on the beach that day, but it was Halley who really blew me away with her amazing energy -- both head and heart -- and her genuine openness to whatever life throws her way. I have always liked what she says in her blog; what's even better is how she says it all in person.

The rest of the week was just what I intended -- lots of beach time (yes, Maren, I did wear lots of sunblock), quick reads through a couple of sexy mystery novels, and hours of just doing absolutely nothing. The bright half-moon meandered past my bedroom window each night, and clear blue skies woke me each morning. The real beach season started today, so even the beach time was peaceful, wrapped in the hushed rushes of Maine's mini-waves.

Tonight's the Solstice, and I've just finished painting a t-shirt for b!X with an image of the Sri Yantra. Now it sits with a major crystal -- progammed by Marcel Vogel himself -- holding its center, waiting for the full moon on Monday, when the ritual will be completed. All together now, everyone chant -- "Om Namah Sivaya."

Very often asserting the power of intention for someone's benefit doesn't bring to that person what he/she thinks he/she wants. What it usually brings is the wherewithall to help that person get what he/she needs. So it seems it is with Mike Golby; so, I suppose it is with Chris Locke. Or maybe not. And so, I imagine, it will be with b!X. Or maybe not. As with the saving of Tinkerbell, magic only works if you believe.

Sunday, June 16, 2002

My bags are packed
I'm ready to go. Got my trashy novel, my Scrabble game, my flip-flops, the ritual object I'm working on, and enough assorted clothes for any kind of weather. I shaved my legs and painted my toenails. Tomorrow I'm off to York Beach, Maine but will be back for the Solstice, when I am doing my last ritual for a while. This one's for b!X (and he knows why). But most of the time for the next five days, I'm going to be somewhere on that beach communing with the sea and the sun (what there will be of it). I need to re-create.

I've set my mom up with food and emergency numbers. She's also going to feed my cat (I hope, I hope!) so I made little baggies of cat food and posted the feeding schedule all the hell over the place so that she doesn't forget. My brother says that he'll be up on Tuesday and stay overnight. That’s better than nothing.

So, please don't blog anything important until I get back. I hate it when I miss out on something big.
From Father to Son
b!X is in a posting frenzy, and I hope that those of you who might have given up on him are rediscovering his way of hitting the mark with clarity and brevity. If you're interested in the ongoing discussions about journalism vs blogging, read his take here.

Saturday, June 15, 2002

A Father's Day Synchronicity
My Dad died 18 years ago. Each year since then, I have ignored Father's Day. It's irrelevant to me.

Today I was contacted by a writer from my home town of Yonkers, NY -- a woman who writes for a Polish weekly newspaper. She wants to do a feature on my Dad, who, during his lifetime, was well known in that city, not only for his work among the Polish community, but also for a range of political activities behind the scenes that put him in contact with some of the major players in New York State.

So, I spent this afternoon-before-Father's Day looking through the folders where my mother has stashed dozens of newspaper clippings, award certificates, photos, and other documentation of my father's life as an active citizen. There are notes from Nelson Rockefeller and photos of my Dad with Thomas Dewey. There's another photograph of him with Francis Cardinal Spellman, Archbishop of New York back in the '50s.

What really got to me, however, was a copy of an op-ed piece I wrote that the Yonkers newspaper published on January 31, 1985, a little over a month after my Dad died from pancreatic cancer. In email conversations I had with Halley Suitt while she was struggling with her father's dying, I mentioned the article, and she asked me to share it with her if I ever came across my copy.

So, here it is now, edited for length and relevance. This is for you, Dad. I am thinking about you this Father's Day after many years of not wanting to feel your loss all over again.

My youth in Yonkers was bordered by death. My father was an undertaker, and I grew up with death as a matter of everyday, emotionally distant, fact.

When my father received his own death sentence last October on his 71st bithday, however, death abruptly closed that distance. For the first time, I looked death in the face, and it was my father's face.

My father was well-known in Yonkers. In his prime -- which it seemed extended throughout his lifetime -- he was well-respected by colleagues and adversaries alike for his compassion, pragmatism, and humor; for his ability to see all sides fairly; for his willingness to seek and accept advice and cooperation. These were the virtues that brought meaning to his life. These were the virtues that brought dignity and courage to his death.

Four days before Chrismas, having become progressively weaker, despite the best effort of hopital staff, my father told us that he wanted to die. He had, in his life, virtually worked miracles for the Polish people of Yonkers, but he knew that there would be no miracle for him. The next day, irreversibly weakened by the strain the disease had placed on his system -- but mentally alert and aware -- my father asked to have all tubes removed from his body. The nurse had tears in her eyes when she came out of the room with the doctor after thay had presented their final argument for delaying the invevitable.

The hospital staff had all liked my father; no matter how weak he was, he would find something to joke about. When one of the doctors had asked him what he did for a living, my father paused for a moment, smiled, and shot back, "I take care of your mistakes."

We cared for my father at home for four days, massaging the tired flesh hanging looser and looser from his proud bones; struggling to move him, turn him, find ways to ease his bad back, urge liquids into him --first with a straw, then with a spoon, and finally with an eye dropper. We warmed his icy hands in ours, wiped his forehead of the cold sweat that matted his still-thick head of gray hair. We told him jokes and told him we loved him. We assured him, again and again, that we would be all right; he was not to worry about us.

At one point on the night before he died, I went into the living room where the movie "Gandhi" was playing on the television. That night replays through my mind like scenes from a Coppola movie -- sudden shifts back and forth between two simultaneous occurrences, tension mounting toward some anticipated disaster. I would watch Gandhi building his ashram and then tiptoe in to see my father clutching at his pillow. I would listen to Gandhi speak for peace and freedom and then return to hear my father's raspy breathing. And so it went, until the burning pyre turned the TV screen red, and my father's cough brought my mother out of her light sleep in the other room.

Finally my mother lay on the bed we had pushed next to my father's, her hands folded around his. He was sleeping, panting rather than breathing; she was watching, murmuring encouragement and prayers. I fell asleep next to her.

It was the silence that awakened me. The clock said 6:26 a.m. For the first time in days, his hands were warm.

Friday, June 14, 2002

You Can't Have Love and Patriarchy
As RageBoy continues his mystery-shrouded evolution into ...well, we don't really know exactly "what" or "who" yet. But there is a definte pattern in his growing affinity for females of obvious power -- both silently mythic and vocally authentic.

His latest discovery is Carol Gilligan's new book, The Birth of Pleasure, and he links to an interview with her that is well-worth the read.

The research documented in Gilligan's landmark book, In A Different Voice, provided the foundations for a major project that I was assigned back in the 80s to analyze the exhibits in the New York State Museum in terms of the "voice" they gave -- or in this case, did not give -- to women in the history of the state. In Gilligan's own words, the "Voice" book shows how including women's voices changes the human conversation, makes it more expansive, more real in certain ways and that's not only for women; enlarging the conversation and changing the resonance can also encourage men to say things that they know but may have felt but they couldn't speak about. That book not only triggered major changes in the way the Museum's exhibit designers and curators were expected to do their work; it encouraged me to release my own voice, both in the workplace and in my personal life as well.

Interestingly enough, Gilligan used students at the Emma Willard School for much of her research interviews. I did "development" writing for that school several years ago during a series of events promoting "girls in Science." I even got to write a speech for Jane Fonda, a graduate of that school, who came in to do the opening presentation. Heh. She used about half of it; most of the time she promoted her exercise videos. But that's off the subject.

Carol Gilligan's new book takes her basic premises in a necessarily deeper direction, one that she believes is beginning to begin the end of patriarchy. I particulary like the following statement that she made in her interview: Once feminism is understood not as a battle between the sexes but a move to free both women and men from contraints that have limited their capacity to love and live fullly, it becomes clear that feminism is one of the great liberation movements in human history.

You can't have love and patriarchy, Gilligan asserts in her interview. I agree. But, personally, I don't think that most men are going to be willing to give up the power of hierarchy and patriarchy for such a simple thing as love. As Gilligan goes on to say, Love means.....being willing to change.
Into the silence, we leap.
With Andrea's Seven Memories piece added to the "power and protection" shield crafted for Mike Golby and his family, the ritual object is ready to be mailed out to Mike in South Africa tomorrow. This is the note that is going with it:

“Healing is the leap out of suffering into myth.” --Joseph Campbell

Native American shamans constructed “power shields” as part of healing ceremonies, often including or attaching images of sacred animals and representations of spirit folk to reinforce the protective capacities of the ritual object. The circle, itself, is a powerful symbol of wholeness, completeness, and the front of this shield is woven in concentric circles, an ancient symbol of the power of the feminine, the all-embracing, all forgiving, Great Mother. The colors and textures are like the fabric of life – unplanned, pieced together, varied and vibrant. The back of the shield symbolizes the power of what is often hidden deep in the great sea of memories, hopes, and dreams.

This gift, this prayer, this creative act carries with it the magic of friendship and opens a way to make the leap into the magic of healing.

Thursday, June 13, 2002

Identity Crisis
While I blogged early about my take on AKMA's theme du jour, "identity," I am now as lost at sea as was once the intrepid Odysseus -- referred to by Tom Matrullo in his post on the subject. This is not the first time in the land of Blogaria that I find myself time traveling back to my old chair in my old office, looking at an assignment from my boss to interview relevant professionals about on how they apply "integrated arts education" or "non-traditional learning" or "diversity in the workplace" and recognizing that I first have to go back to my boss and ask her how she defines those terms. Because I already know that there are as many definitions of those terms as there are people who use them. I know, from past experience, what happens when you set sail on a group journey of discovery without first all getting into the same boat. You often wind up all sailing off in different directions, having different adventures, and discovering different continents. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Except that the original "identity" of the journey gets lost at sea. Like me. With this whole "identity" trip. Hell, I know who I am. And if you read Frank Paynter's interview with me, you know who I am too. So what's the big deal anyway?
Life is what happens while you're making plans
I'm supposed to be heading out for York Beach, Maine next week with one of my best friends. This afternoon, I'm taking my mom to the doctor's -- dizziness, weakness -- maybe a flare up of the multiple myeloma, the beginnings of which she was diagnosed with several years ago. I haven't had any time away -- I mean really away -- in more than a year. I really need this little 5-day vacation. I hope that I can still go.

This is the first time that I'm feeling angry about having to be the sole caregiver. I have an unmarried, unemployed brother who could very easily come up here (he lives about 80 miles away) and take over for a few days. But he always has an excuse. This time his cat is pissing all over his house because she's afraid to go outside because some other cat is menacing her. One would think, then, that the solution would be to get her a litter box. Only he doesn't want to have to clean out a litter box. So he has to stay home and make sure the cat doesn't continue pissing indoors. What's very very very wrong with this picture! (Oh, he says maybe he can come up for one overnight. What a guy!)

I want to cry "ENOUGH!". But there's this frail, frightened little old woman who depends on me. Someday, perhaps but I hope not, I will be just like her, and I will need someone to care enough about me to set plans aside and take care of life.

I want so much to have a few days at the ocean, nourished by the healing murmurs of Mother Sea, the warm Apollo sun -- to sit around playing Scrabble, laughing, and having a beer or two -- going out for some good dinners. Well, I have to remind myself that at least I'm not buried in a burda. Life. Happens. But I still just want to sit down and have a good cry. Oops, too late.
Hecuba should have cried ENOUGH!
b!X ends this post with "Enough is enough."

The two statements above are synchronistically related.

Tonight I watched the film version of Euripedes' Trojan Women that featured Katherine Hepburn as Hecuba, Queen of Troy, who was given no choice but to watch while her city, her countrymen and women, and her family were ravaged by men of great ego and little else. They took everything from her that they could -- her birthright, her identity, her freedom. But what they couldn't take from her was her voice.

I watched the film with a group of women called together by my therapist friend in ritualized support of one of those woman -- an American nurse suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as result of her expriences in Viet Nam. We were there to help her give voice to her painful memories, to rage and cry out and vocalize whatever was staying stuck so painfully in the deep wounds of her soul. (Ritual, art, drama, healing: the legacy of Asclepius.)

ENOUGH! We wanted Hecuba to finally cry ENOUGH! We wanted the Trojan Women to all finally cry ENOUGH! But they didn't, and so we all cried ENOUGH for all the times we didn't -- for all of the times that men and women of conscience do not cry ENOUGH loud ENOUGH for all of the times that men of great ego and nothing else continue to repeat and repeat, over and over again, the very same tragic scenario that Eurpides so eloquently and dramatically and ritualistically unfolded all of those centuries ago. When will it be ENOUGH?

In the Middle East men of great ego and little else ravage and destroy what they cannot possess. In our very own America, men of great ego and little else take away everything from us that they can -- expect us to watch and endure, like Hecuba. We are all Hecuba, watching, enduring, while men of great ego and little else ravage our liberties, our identities, the very planet that sustains us.

Where are our voices crying ENOUGH! ENOUGH! ENOUGH!

Tuesday, June 11, 2002

Love those connections!
So, here I am blathering on about T.S. Eliot (like who but me even thinks about that guy any more), and after I sign out to do some surfing, there on Tom Matrullo's blog today is a couple of quotes from another Eliot poem. Now, I'm sorry to admit that I had not gotten around to putting Matrullo on my blogroll. But I have taken care of that pardonable (I hope) sin of omission. I take these kinds of synchronistic connections very seriously. Indeed I do.
Cybill Sibyl Symbols
I am an old woman with a deck of cards
A witch, an Amazon, a Gorgon
A seer, a clairvoyant, a poet.
I have visions of becoming and
I dream in female

--(Barbara Starrett, 1974)

I adored the character that Cybill Shepherd played in her '90s sitcom. Raunchily relevant in menopausal splendor, she laughed a lot --mostly at herself -- loved largely, and dreamed in female. The Lady of Situations.

Sibyl is another gut-grabbing female, one I first encountered the first time I turned to the first page of T.S. Eliot's "Wastland." (I still have verses from that epic endlessly looping through my brain: Madame Sosostris, famous clairvoyant/ had a bad cold nevertheless/ is known to be the wisest woman in Europe/ with a wicked pack of cards. Here, said she, / is your card, the drowned Phoenician Sailor (those are pearls that were his eyes. Look!) / Here is Belladonna, the Lady of Rocks, / the lady of situations.)
"For I once saw with my own eyes the Cumean Sibyl hanging in a jar, and when the boys asked her, 'Sibyl, what do you want?' she answered, 'I want to die.'"

The quote which prefaces T.S. Eliot's "Wasteland," "NAM Sibyllam quidem Cumis . . ." is taken from the Satyricon of Petronius Arbiter, a Roman of the first century B.C.E. The Sybil is a prophetic character who, when granted a wish by Apollo, asked to live for as many years as there are grains of sand in a handful. She forget to ask for eternel youth, however, and is confined to a bottle so as to prevent her body's disintegration..... The Sibyl, then, is a bit of a paradox: she strove to live eternally yet ended up in constant danger of decay and pain. Her quest for eternity was a failure that Eliot finds terribly important yet terribly dangerous. His goal is not to end up like the Sibyl, but to free her.
(quoted from here)

Cybill and Sybil, symbols of women with strong voices -- strong with meaning, with intention, with visions of constant becoming -- with guts full of female dreams and hearts used to surviving great tides of sorrow. A lot like the many women bloggers I know and love.

But we still have to watch what we wish for.
It's All in the Timing
Since the announcement of the New Moon ritual to bend the universe a little in favor of the Golbys, lots has been going on with Mike, including his belated Viking-type burial of his father's ashes. As Andrea stirred up her memories and turned around to catch an unexpected rainbow, on the other side of the planet, Mike was unknowingly mirroring her experiences. Some might say the magic is working. Others might simply note in passing that I have uncanny ability for insinuating myself into the destinies of others just at opportune moments. Personally, I have no idea how all of this happens -- something about the Flow, or quantum physics, or maybe it is just my surprisingly accurate sense of timing, my own destiny as a perennial catalyst --sort of like being always the maid-of-honor and never the bride. (Well, OK, not never; I was a bride once. Once is enough.)

The worrisome thing is that now Andrea's getting sick. That's what happened to Jeneane after she gave her all to the RageBoy ritual. Either I have to figure out how to protect my cronies (pun intended) from totally depleting their not-insignificant energies, or I'm going to have to become a Lone Crone.

Just as whatever was put into motion for RageBoy has not yet played out, so is the Golby saga continuing. It will be another couple of days or so before the ritual artifacts are complete enough to send over to Mike in South Africa. So, the magic energy is still out there, homing in on the Golby hearts and hearth. Pay attention. It's all in the timing. And the connected destinies.
E-writer Reveals (Almost) All
As a pre-eminent blogger, Jeneane Sessum tends to be magnificently forthright and open in what she writes. But if you think her blog has revealed all there is to Jeneane -- well, read her interview with Frank Paynter and find out what she hasn't told until now. Once again, Paynter reveals his own artistry in getting to the good stuff.

It's interesting that, as b!X keeps track of our government's plans to make sure we keep nothing secret from them, we bloggers are keeping nothing secret from any one. (Well, almost.) I wonder what would happen to the world if there were no more secrets, if everyone revealed everything. It seems to me that it would pretty much level out the playing field. Actually, we'd probably have to call off the stupid game completely. Heh.

Monday, June 10, 2002

Now, for something really serious
So, now that we've had our fun bending the universe in the direction of South Africa, it's time to tackle some very serious stuff.

I finally read Gary Tuner's post (somehow I missed that, what with all the fun I was having) about creating "Global Villagers: the Sitcom." He says As blogs extend the boundaries of communication into telephone conversations and now meetings (great post Anita) I think that it's now about time we had our own sitcom show.

Of course! That's it! That's what we need to really put us on the map, and Gary makes some suggestions for sitcom characters. For example, he says Chris Locke can play a mad hippy revolutionary in a lead role reminiscent of Becker or something. David Weinberger can base his on-screen character on someone more sensitive like a Niles Crane. Crazy Marek J can be a bald clone of Kramer from Seinfeld.

After some very clever additional suggestions, Gary asks for input. Hah!

How about Anita, Andrea, Halley and Heather doing a kind of "Laverne and Shirley meet Thelma and Louise" type characters. (I didn't include Jeneane because Gary's post already mentions a role for her.)

As for me, it's got to be a Cybill-type (of the '90s Cybill Shepherd sitcom). A menopausal prima donna who does pratfalls and howls at the moon. Whoever wrote the scripts for that must have been following me around with a hidden camera. Of course, Cybill shares the spotlight with her friend Maryanne, a brassy, boozy, bombshell with a sharp, quick, and well-aimed wit. Sounds like either Shelley Powers or Mike Golby in drag, doncha think? Now, Gary, for you... I'm thinking maybe Alf?

In Comments to Gary's post, AKMA suggests the much more appropriate title: "Bloggal Villagers" and Andrea mentions "Blogwhore: The Web Game," which already has set a precedent.

So, forget Blogtank, Gary. This is the kind of serious stuff that we really want to work on.
While the Golbys sleep....
...the magic continues. I've added a few more pieces. Andrea is doing her thing. Then we will join our magics and our part will be done.

While Mike's blog sits still, Mike is not. Things are stirring. Maybe the universe is, indeed, bending just enough. It's not over until it's over.

And, of course, Blogaria waits for RageBoy's next move. Is the voodun done? Has the magic worked? Patience. Patience.

We all wait with the moon.
Moon Time
For me, it goes until midnight here tonight. Then it will move into the lives of the Golbys. The magic.

I started last night, outside under the moonless, cloudless, deep magic midnight sky. Among the various artifacts I took out there with me was this:

These are the sides of the Golby shield, without the piece that Andrea is making today to add. One side vibrant with color and surprises and a patchwork of textures and movement. Like life. The other, the dark of a moonless sky, the deepest ocean calm -- the place of dreams and memories.

Mike Golby's blog is in stasis. We are all waiting for this magical ecliptical New Moon day to move into the past. And then the rest will begin. This day is for the Golbys. Send them your most loving thought.

Sunday, June 09, 2002

Feel the Power
The Golby shield is finished, except for the piece that Andrea, the Crone-in-Training, will add. This Geek Icon is coming into her own, and I can tell that I'm soon going to have to share the throne.

After midnight, it begins for the Golbys.

Meanwhile, like Andrea, I'm into the Ya-Ya Sisterhood thing and am going to see the movie later today with a buncha my ya-ya friends. Then out to dinner. Then...then...getting ready for the New Moon magic.

Saturday, June 08, 2002

Countdown to Golby's New Moon
It has begun: a woven shield for Mike Golby, the deep serenity of the midnight sky on one side and a vibrancy of colors and textures on the other, symbolizing the balance that one needs in a full and healthy life. Art as ritual. Ritual as art. It's not done yet, and there's much left to be done, so probably not much blogging until then. The good news is that I have a "sorceresses apprentice" conjuring on the West Coast, where she will be able to see about 50 percent of the eclipse that also will happen with the new moon on Monday. She will incorporate that "magical" phenonemon into whatever she contributes to our Mike-centered magic. Blog Sister and Geek Icon Andrea, cybercrone-in-training. Stay tuned. Join in and think of Mike on the New Moon.

Oh yeah, Andrea. We Got Mana! heehee cackle cackle

Thursday, June 06, 2002

The Moon Moves On
While my ritual magic seems to have had some effect on RageBoy, we have yet to know the total result. I believe it will be for his good; I think it already is. He's finding his way through the gate. No need to worry. It will be good. He will be back, better than ever.

In the meanwhile, there's more magic to be done. This time for Mike Golby. He knows it's coming. He's ready. I will be getting ready for the New Moon, which sits dark in the sky on June 10th. New Moon. Dark Moon. Emptiness. The Void that is the beginning.

I will make magic for Mike who waits in darkness half-way around the circle. I will conjure the words that will move the moon. You will see. You will see.
The Crone goes South Park

A is for AKMA
I have to admit that clerics are not usually among my favorite people, but over the course of my blogging life, AKMA has continued to earn my respect and admiration (even though sometimes his prose gets a little too intellectual for my preferences). He's able to balance the courage of his convictions with a heartfelt curiosity about how others view the larger issues that shape the convictions of those who populate the rest of the thinking world.

One more reason to like AKMA: he's accepted my humble application and named me Crone in Residence -- Purveyor of Eclectic Mysticism and Rhetorical Ritual at the ubiquitous University of Blogaria. I now can die happy.

Current reason to like AKMA: he's begun a discussion of "identity" -- If nothing else, "identity" serves as a principle of continuity that binds together the cute little baby, the uncouth adolescent lout, the aging-gracefully professor, and (what I hope will be) the white-haired nonagenarian. We customarily talk about this continuity as the subject's identity--who he or she really is.

My ex-husband used to criticize me for being like an onion -- layers upon layers, but nothing at the core. I think, perhaps he saw that "core" as being a person's fundamental identity and the layers being the roles that one plays.

I never agreed with him, although neither have I ever been able to identify what IS at my "core." Publicly and privately, I identify myself as caregiver, cybermom, crone -- dancer, writer, feminist -- activist, spiritual seeker. (notice the "8")

I recently discovered the Kali Yantra:

Like a mantra, a yantra is meant as a focus for meditation. To me, The Kali Yantra "images" my identity, which is the interplay of all of its essesntial pieces.

The square with its four entrance portals represents the boundaries enclosing the meditating self as well as symbolizing the earth element and the material quality of nature. The [notice the 8] lotus petals express the different stages of spiritual expansion. The circle is the symbol of wholeness and the downward pointing triangle represents the seat of feminine energy. (quoted from here)

At the core of my identity -- the essential female energy. But my identity is the whole ever bloomin' thing.
Ya' gotta luv the guy....
b!X as a South Park character.
What the....?
Big storms over here last night, growling in from the west. Everywhere but right where I am (where there was hard rain), hail, funnel clouds, lightning at a flash per second. The gates opened. Power drained from the firmament into the earth.

Then I do my usual morning check in and discover RageBoy's posts from last night. (This is where I usually do my heehee cacklecackle, but not this time; this is very serious magic.) Keep on dancin' through the gate, RB. The tribes are with ya'.

Wednesday, June 05, 2002

Polyanna or Pronoiac?
Rob Breszny, the non-linear purveyor of reams of abstruse astrological advice is inviting us all to look on the bright side. His recent newsletter makes this announcement:

On my new Web site, which will debut in a few weeks, I will have a section devoted to "Pronoiac News." (Pronoia, for those of you who're new to our community, is the opposite of paranoia. It's the sneaking suspicion that the whole world is conspiring to shower you with blessings.) I invite all of you out there to share with me (and all of us) the interesting, invigorating, intellectually- and emotionally-stimulating pronoiac news that you stumble upon in your travels. Send it to ....... Please feel free, too, to take up the cause of zoom and boom as you resist the practitioners of doom and gloom in your own sphere. Let this be our battle cry: WE DEMAND EQUAL TIME FOR NEWS ABOUT REDEMPTION AND INTEGRITY AND JOY AND BEAUTY AND PLEASURE AND RENEWAL AND HARMONY AND LOVE.

And this is his astrology reading for me for this week:
PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): Your key symbols for the coming days: a night-sea crossing; Jonah in the belly of the whale; a treasure chest dislodged from its hiding place in the earth by a flood. Most reliable source of information: your dreams. Totemic animal: octopus. Special number: 44. Secret password: *superconductor.* Methods for building soul power: taking ritual baths; being naked for hours; singing songs you consider sacred. Inspirational role model: Dante Alighieri on his way out of the Inferno. Pop culture book likely to be most helpful: Joseph Campbell's *Hero with a Thousand Faces.*

Well, I read Campbell's book ages ago. I recently recalled a Motherpeace Tarot reading I had years ago that brought out the eight of discs as the card that reflected my fundamental modus operandi. I remember it as an octopus juggling eight discs. Still sounds about right. Four and four is eight. So far, so good. Ritual baths and getting naked? Well, metaphorically, anyway. Superconductor? Why not. Out of the Inferno? Don't I wish. We'll see about the rest.
b!X is alive and well (well, alive, anyway) and blogging again.
So, in case you gave up checking in on lately, try again. He's re-surfaced. And that's good because now he won't be sending me all those URLs on issues that ought to be blogged. He does a much better job at that anyway.
Confessions of the Bombshell Barrister
It's Denise Howell's turn on Frank Paynter's hot seat, and she proves just how cool she really is. Go here for the whole Howell scoop as she unpacks her Bag and Baggage.
Now that's a really good rap
Thanks to a pointer from b!X to this account of a protest in NYC, where
Ten people, including singer Wyclef Jean, were arrested as thousands of teachers and students turned out for a rally to hear hip-hop stars and politicians denounce proposed cuts in New York City school funding......The rally, which police say attracted some 20,000 school children, was organized by the United Federation of Teachers and the Hip Hop Summit Action Network, a group organized by rap impresario Russell Simmons.

Bloomberg and his crew are sooooo clueless about the real impoverished world. Shame, shame on the Big Applelites for electing someone like him as their advocate and leader. Noting the number of students at the rally, Bloomberg spokesman Ed Skyler said he hoped teachers had not allowed students to cut class for the afternoon rally. Like, THIS is the only thing these well-heeled idiots could think of to say? What world do they live in? Good for those teachers who risked standing up and being counted on behalf of their students. Rap. Rap. Rap 'em a good one for me.
The Other Side of Bombast
Chris Locke shadowdances through the mirror and shows us the other side of Bombast. It's Beauty. Beauty of heart. Again, he has proven himself truly a man for all seasons. Out of the silence, he shares a liberating soulfulness that is always there but not always shared.

I think now of one of the most influential books (for me) that I've ever read: Rollo May's The Courage to Create. The courage to share a deep and authentic humanity.

(And, who is to say but that our little ritual didn't contribute to this open-handed offering, this RageBoy resurrection. heehee cacklecackle.) The Crone is not done yet. Mike Golby, get ready for some major Crone magic.

Tuesday, June 04, 2002

If I periodically say things that remind b!X from whence he came, rest assured that he returns the favor. He emailed the link to this article about, well, in his own words, Nice fuck up with the Regents exam censoring/sanitizing passages from other people's writings in order to not "offend" any test-takers.

Ah yes, the New York State Board of Regents and their infamous statewide assessments. One of the major pieces that I left out of "the story of my life as told to Frank Paynter in five emails" was my 20-year career with the NY State Education Department, three of which were spent deeply immersed in promoting the "school improvement" agenda of the New York State Board of Regents. I did everything from write brochure copy, manuals and "town meeting" type video scripts (read "propaganda") to actually going into schools to help the teachers and administrators figure out how to improve their teaching strategies so that more kids could pass the statewide exams (read "propaganda"). Yes, I sold out. For the salary and the benefits, the promise of being able to retire at 62 and live relatively comfortably -- oh yeah, I spun their straw into gold. Or rather, gold plate. Gold plate that peels off very quickly and reveals some very flimsy, old, stale straw.

Interestingly enough, the woman quoted in article, Rosanne DeFabio, was my Team Leader's boss back then. She was the standard-bearer for the work that we did. Carefully coiffed and spoken, traditionally classy and well-mannered, Rosanne has never taught in a public school; her teaching background is in Catholic schools. So I was not surprised to read the following in the newspaper account:

Roseanne DeFabio, the Education Department's assistant commissioner for curriculum, instruction and assessment, said Friday, "We do shorten the passages and alter the passages to make them suitable for testing situations." The changes are made to satisfy the sensitivity guidelines the department uses, so no one will be "uncomfortable in a testing situation," she said. "Even the most wonderful writers don't write literature for children to take on a test." DeFabio said that, as a result of an objection recently received from an author, the department had decided to use ellipses in future exams. She also said that she thought it worthwhile that the department consider marking passages that are altered, but she did not feel it was necessary to ask the permission of authors to change their work.

One of the objections came from one of my favorite authors, Annie Dillard, who, according to the news report, wrote the following in a letter to the Commissioner of Education: "What could be the purpose of an exercise testing students on such a lacerated passage - one which, finally, is neither mine nor true to my lived experience." As explained in the news article, When they read a passage from Annie Dillard's memoir "An American Childhood," gone were any racial references from a description of her childhood trips to a library in a black section where she was one of the only white visitors.

Keep in mind, now, that the New York State Educational system is considered a leader in setting standards for learning and providing statewide tests to assess whether or not kids are learning up to those standards. (I even worked on some of the standards-setting documents.) On the surface this sounds great. Legislators who have to vote on how much money to give schools love it. Parents who want to see high marks on report cards love it. But guess what. It doesn't work. It doesn't work because of just the kind of manipulation of learning and testing that the news article reports. It doesn't work because it's not based on what makes kids want to learn, love to learn. It doesn't work because teachers teach to the test. It doesn't work because kids don't wind up with a love of learning; rather they wind up with just the opposite -- and with headaches and stomach aches from pressures imposed on them by both schools and parents to make sure that they pass the tests.

Well, I couldn't say all of this then, but I sure can say it now. My retirement checks come from the State and not from the Department. They can't fire me now.

P.S. I didn't hang in there all of those years just for the money and security, really. I considered myself an infiltrator, a wolf in sheep's clothing. I was trying to change the system from within. When I went into schools I tried to begin showing them the truth, I began conversations, I listened. In many ways I was beginning to apply the Cluetrain philosophies and Chris Locke's Gonzo Marketing approach to the education market. But that was long before the Cluetrain guys came on the scene. I had no models. I was winging it. And that's what made it fun. I remember I began one speech that I gave to the New York State Reading Association with the lyrics from Concrete Blonde's song (originally by Leonard Cohen) from the movie Pump Up the Volume. "Everybody knows the dice are loaded..." I told them to "Talk Hard." To tell the truth. To listen to what the kids are saying. To watch MTV. I expected that I would never be asked to speak to them again. Not true. They loved it. They loved that someone from that big bureaucracy came and used an authentic voice. But one voice is not enough, no matter how hard or true.
If we don't laugh, we're going to cry
Got this from Tish. And this on the same site. Grab a cup of coffee and spend an hour letting Mark Fiore's repertoire make you smile.
The Intoxicating Fragrance of Pesto
Well, I think this mindmeld with Halley has gone a little too far. Now RageBoy is personally promoting -- by wearing -- Isabella Rosselini's new basil-based scent, Manifesto. Listen, RB, I've got this great patch of basil growing full tilt out here in my grave-sized garden. I'll blender you up a batch and save you a lot of money.

Monday, June 03, 2002

It's our fault but we don't care.
Or so Dubya seems to be saying as a response to a national report in which, according to the NY Times, the administration for the first time mostly blames human actions for recent global warming. It says the main culprit is the burning of fossil fuels that send heat-trapping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

See b!X's post on this issue for the big absurd picture of the new ugly American: they are (not that their self-interested hypocrisy should come as any surprise at this point) responding to the rest of the world's pleas for the U.S. to get with the program and protect the entire globe from the threat of global warming by telling them to go to man-made Hell.

Sunday, June 02, 2002

Amused by the Muse
When a wolf shows up, it is time to breathe new life into your life rituals. Find a new path, take a new journey, take control of your life. You are the governor of your life. You create it and direct it. Do so with harmony and discipline, and then you will know the true spirit of freedom.

RageBoy wanders back alleys in search of his wolf and turns around to find his Muse instead. Except that she's it. She's she -- the wolf in muse clothing. Like dreams, muses sometimes play with misdirection, take the words we know so well and turn them inside out. And then maybe we notice that the muse is hiding behind a mirror etched with the eyes of a wolf. And we look into those eyes and know.

Writers are always in search of their muse. Jennifer Balderama, off to Paris and beyond, is figuring that she needs to re-acquaint herself with hers. Needs to re-think how she writes fiction. Needs to get less structured, more sloppy. Her mirror image, maybe. I wonder if she's going to be out of the country -- and without her laptop, too -- when Frank Paynter's interview with Denise Howell hits Blogaria. Maybe he can reveal Jennifer next.

I haven't written any poetry for a long while. That muse seems to have gone on an extended vacation. Maybe Jennifer will run into her in Paris. Instead, a blogging muse has taken her place. She looks like a faerie and needs lots of attention.
let it rain, rain, rain
save me from myself again
wash away my ugly sins
opposing thumb, dorsal fin
that monkey died for my grin
bring my happy back again
let it rain, rain, rain
bring my happy back again

--- REM, "Lotus"

I dreamed last night that I lost my thumb.
It was the thumb on my right hand, and I didn't lose it; it broke off somehow but I never felt it happen. All of a sudden I looked at my hand and the joint where my thumb would have been attached looked like a chicken joint looks when you cut off the appendage. It didn't hurt, but seeing it missing triggered such a wave of panic and sadness and loss that I started crying uncontrollably (in my deam, that is). In the dream, my mother was there and tried to console me, but she was powerless to do so. And it was not her comfort that I wanted. Someone else's. Whose?

I moved out of the REM sleep, waking up to thoughts of Sissy Hankshow in Even Cowgirls Get the Blues (great novel, btw; terrible movie). The benefits of the opposable thumb.

I told my mother about the dream, and, in typical good-Catholic-with-leftover-old-country-superstitions, she immediately went to consult an expert, to find out what the accepted "dogma" is. In this case, she consulted her book on The Classic 1000 Dreams, which said: To dream that you have injured your thumb indicates that you will shortly be in a serious quandary. You will have to choose between giving offence to someone whom it would pay you to please, and making yourself look ridiculous in the eyes of your acquaintances. Hmmm.

bIX once posted (long ago, in some other weblog at some other point in his life when he was actually posting) that dreams are the garbage dump of the brain. But I think dreams are important messages from our unconsious, from the oracles of our spirits: "pay attention, think about this" they say in their language of misdirection. But there is a message here somewhere in my missing thumb. I'm still trying to figure it out.

it's not that the transparency
of her earlier incarnations
now looked back on, weren't rich
and loaded with beautiful vulnerability
and now she knows.

now is greater
and she knows that

she just wants to be somewhere
she just wants to be
She just wants to be somewhere
she just wants to be

---- REM, "She Just Wants to Be"

Saturday, June 01, 2002

Oh ye of little faith....
Some things take time -- love, tomatoes, grandsons, magic. Some things take a special space -- same list. Halley surfaced on her blog last night long enough to remind us that "it ain't over 'til it's over." So please remember that about RageBoy's silence as well.

So, it seems that you can be sure that Blog Sisters will be the place to be this summer. Halley has explained why she's vowing to keep the cauldron stirred over there. Jennifer Balderama just officially joined the BSisterhood with her first post. We've got Andrea and Anita and Sheri E and Mare and Tish and Esta and Gina -- and growing numbers (close to 100) of other incredibly savvy Sisters -- voicing, voicing, voicing; and, of course, Denise -- who is Frank Paynter's next interviewee -- is one of the earliest and dearest of them all. And Jeneane and I -- well, heh, we just never shut down or shut up.

Now, as far as you men are concerned, while you're not allowed into the inner sanctum, if you're brave and pure and loving (like Marek J.), you can Comment.

And, just to reassure Halley and anyone else who is still wondering, if I am a witch (which I have never said I am), I'M A GOOD WITCH. GOOD. GOOD. MMMMM MMMMM GOOD.

If you believe in faeries, clap. Keep Tinkerbell alive.
There is a group of women with whom I've been friends for more than a decade. On Tuesday, I will be attending an event at the offices of the New York State Bar Association in recognition of one of them, a lawyer who is receiving an Award for Excellence in Juvenile Justice and Child Welfare.

I met Joan Byalin when she was dating one of my ex-boyfriends. They broke up but we became good friends because we had so much in common. (Of course, that makes sense. He liked the same qualities in both of us.) Not only is she a great lawyer, but she's an amazing quilter, who -- until very recently when she finally bought a sewing machine -- constructed her quilts by hand. Her designs are built around vibrant Mexican colors and original, non-traditional patterns that sort of evolve as she goes. She is making a quilt for my soon-to-be grandson, and I can't wait to see it.

Among the other women in my group are an accountant who gardens, a parole officer who sings, a mail carrier who's a psychic, and an environmental specialist who does Fung Shui. Add Joan the lawyer-quilter and me the educator-blogger, and we've always figured that if they would just let us run the country, we would have just about every public sphere covered and do a better job than the people who are doing it now. Plus, we all collaborate very easily, share information readily, and know how to do rituals to bend the universe. (heh)