Sunday, May 29, 2011

Beyond All that we Gather

     When we are born, we are introduced to this world bare naked, with nothing to our name except the love of our parent(s).  As we precede through our destinies, we begin to gather to ourselves that which will define us in many ways; our property, our belongings, our habits, our beliefs, our acts of service, as well as our selfish depredations, and our personalities which will help to shape our histories; those histories being constructed of the memories of those who knew us throughout our lives but especially in those final years.

     With more time on my hands these past weeks than I am used to, thanks to my back injury and unresolved leg pain, I have been basking in this place I have called home now for more than a decade, this odd acre of sand that has come to be known as Pendragon Hold.  I have had a love/hate relationship with this place; bemoaning it's location so deep in the hot, humid South, surrounded by your typical redneck average (for Florida) Bubbas, with a foundation of ancient sea bed white sand that on it's own will not support the growth of what many humans would take as a given, such as edible food crops and well-behaved grasses.  No, the ugliest weeds and shrubbery known to Man spent millennia evolving to eke out an existence in this nutrient-poor soil, and the heat will challenge anything else that dares to venture it's roots into this stuff.  Yes, you would think, driving around these verdant upper-class suburbs with their elegant, deep green golf courses and rich, thick lawns that this is a paradise for anything green, but you would be dead wrong.  Just peer into the undergrowth of the pine forests that line the highways and byways of Florida and you will see the TRUE champions of overcoming adversity, such as palmetto bushes with their evil spikes, and all those other heat and drought tolerant "weeds" that have never found a home in the average American landscape.  No, my friends, none of this PRETTY stuff, the fine grasses, boxwood shrubs, exotic trees and flowers, would not exist sans the TONS of artificial fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides which is dumped on them in this war on the natural world.  AND, of course, the results of all this is reflected in the increasing number of algae blooms in our rivers, the contamination of our water tables with an increasing variety of chemicals and drugs, and the red tides which come and go leaving our beaches buried in mounds of dead fish.  I have NEVER allowed any of this stuff on my property,  sticking with whatever organic and natural compliment I could come up with, but, I have neighbors, neighbors who are busy living the American dream, which does not tolerate anything less than a "fine-trimmed lawn".  All this also requires a lot of water, water being drawn out of the aquifer, which is not being replaced at any where near the rate it is being depleted.  How long do you think this can last?

     So, I do my best, as a committed Wiccan, to respect this acre of sand I have been given the privilege to steward, trying my best not to poison her, or make it a space unwelcome to the wildlife that hans't already been driven away or killed in the road.
It's not easy, especially when the results are all to obvious.  I have no lawn, only the vestiges of what can grow here without being watered or fertilized.  Yes, we do have a shade garden and a terrace garden, but we use fish emulsion or goat poop for fertilizer and we do not use any pesticides EVER.  Maybe some soap solution or some mail-order biological controls, but never the poison.  We even resort to pots for many of our outdoor plants simply because we can plant them into quality potting soil that way instead of endlessly having to amend the sand they would otherwise struggle in.  We still have a lot to learn about doing things totally organic, but the results are so much more satisfying in the end.

     But aside from what we have gathered onto ourselves here on this acre, I sometimes sit and ponder the fate of all that once WE have moved on and left this to the next stewards of this land.  I could take it for granted that we will leave this place to offspring, but in this uncertain day and age, that is not a given.  But, even though it might lay fallow for some years when we have moved on, it WILL eventually find new inhabitants, and I wonder, will the castle have succumbed to age by then and be torn down, to be replaced by some new fancy McMansion when the value of this property has gotten so much higher due to human density?  And will they bend this acre to their will with fresh assaults of fertilizers and herbicides, perhaps having to rely on newly installed water lines due to a compromised water table?  Will the sacred circle, our shade garden, not fit into their "decorator" scheme and the four sisters (the four oak trees which occupy North, East, South, and West) taken down and hauled away to landfill?  What will this place look like when the sea levels have risen and the shoreline is 20 miles closer to this redoubt than it is now?

     One can only wonder.

     But I do have this one true hope.  I hope that those who come after us gather unto THEMSELVES all these good things we have wrapped ourselves with here, and if they have to change it's name, that the name will know honor, and that in the embrace of that honor, protect it's "stewards" as this place has protected us, The Lord and Lady of this peaceful acre of sand we call Pendragon Hold.

     To all my neighbors, far and wide........Blessed be.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Ongoing Negotiations with Quality of Life (Life is Good)

     Ok, I've driven the wife to work, replenished the dog and cat food on the way back home, and now I have a couple of hours to blow while waiting to go in to gestapo headquarters to have my nerve conduction test, which Wifey gleefully describes as a "torture session".  She is SUCH a sharing person, my wife.

      So, I will take this opportunity, while I am still of sound mind, to lend another post to this august blog, which has become famous the world over for it's erstwhile obscurity as blogs go.  I am on my sixth straight day of steroid therapy, with still no apparent side effects such as AGITATION or anything that would suggest I start taking the Ativan the doctor prescribed along with this stuff.  Not that I would necessarily be AWARE that I've become a serial killer or a Republican.........

     However, along with the lack of side effects, I have so far enjoyed no apparent relief of my back pain, which is supposed to be the result of inflammation resulting in muscle spasms.  Perhaps I'm being a little impatient here, I don't know, but I would certainly be pissed if all I got out of this was an infection due to immune system suppression or a life sentence for attacking a Jehovahs Witness at my door for no apparent reason.......oh wait.....silly me; there's tons of logical reasons for doing that....hehe......

     I just finished (pardon me for my wildly wondering subject matter, but I AM being medicated here) a fantastic book downloaded from the Amazon Kindle Store, "The Dirty Life", by Kristin Kimball.  No, it's not pornographic, but it IS a nitty gritty examination of what living in close connection with land and the food it can provide can be like, blood, sweat, and tears included.  I highly recommend it, if only for her fantastic writing skills.  She started out just wanting to do research for a book about the new crop of organic small farmers and ended up marrying one.

     Speaking of organic and farms and such, we here at Pendragon Hold have hosted various incarnations of gardens; in the ground, raised beds, pots, you name it, with various success.  So far we have learned a few things about gardening in Florida.  First and foremost, especially if you want to go organic, SAND SUCKS as a growing medium.  It takes an INSANE amount of soil amending to improve this stuff, and it all ends up washing back out thru the too-well drained sand in no time at all.  We have the goats providing lots of excellent manure in easy to handle pellet form, but we've been short on many of the other ingredients necessary to create good compost, since our acre has been pretty much buried in leaves, severely cutting back on our grass and weed growth this year especially.  Secondly, it is friggin' HOT here in the summer and the plants require almost constant watering since it either evaporates in the heat and humidity or soaks straight down through the sand.  So, if we are going to have any good shot at growing a few heat tolerant veggies here at the  Hold, it's going to require extensive use of raised beds filled with REAL dirt that veggies won't laugh at.  I never imagined the cost involved in finding and transporting genuine DIRT, of all things, but it's a genuine cost consideration.  However, once I get some grass and stuff growing out there on the barren half of the Hold again (the goats decimated our acre before I got them properly fenced off), we can try to tackle the compost issue again, or even try some "lasagna gardening".  Whatever we end up doing, it's going to require hard work, because we refuse to bow to using pesticides or herbicides, which means weeding and and all out war on pests using natural methods, including just picking them off the plants.

     But first I need to get fixed.  And in the spirit of positive thinking I invested in a nice large tub dump-wagon which will make it easier to move dirt and leaves and other such loose items around the property without promoting more bodily abuse.  I also want to get work started on our chicken coop so I can rest a little easier about the meat we put in our bodies.  I just have to make a point of not lending my chickens names when I get them.  I have problems killing and eating life forms with personalities, but I also know that these creatures were bred by humans to give us eggs and meat, the supermarket doesn't grow those breasts in the back in a frankenstein lab (although scientists ARE working on that).  

     Meanwhile, in the continuing saga of the COOL things that happen to me, a nurse friend of mine is GIVING me a perfectly serviceable riding lawnmower, I just simply have to get it here, which is taking awhile to coordinate, as I have no truck, and theirs is one of those jacked- up- in- the- sky- jobbers so high off the ground you can't get anything sizable up into it.  Now, it seems that the alternator in the tractor isn't working, because her husband has to jump the tractor from his car to start it up, but hey, for free, I can afford to fix it.  I just need something I can mulch up this half-acre worth of leaves with so I can encourage some grass/weed growth.  Plus, it could probably pull my new wagon around on a hot summer's day.........

     So far, the two new spring additions to Pendragon Hold are doing well, stout young Puck, the male, and our prima-donna little black girl, Flip-Flop.  They have learned from their parents how to complain loudly to be FED whenever they hear the car pull up in front of the house.  As always, though, I remained concerned that this oppressively hot weather will take it's toll on our young ones and visit upon them the same malady that took our sweet baby Thor from us last year.  I will remain vigilant this time for symptoms, but this "summer pneumonia" is a rapid killer.  I can only ask the Green Man to keep them safe for me.

     AND, while my mood is in such good shape considering everything, I want to send out some heartfelt appreciation to all of those fellow sapiens of mine who have enriched my life by sharing your own.  Each and every one of you have brought your own unique perspectives to dealing with life into my home and helped me ignore the worst aspects of my own by making me laugh and lending me moral support when I really needed it.  I wish I could give back even HALF of the value received from knowing you.  I hope our relationships can grow and strengthen in the years to come, whatever comes our way, raptures included.  We less-than-perfect children of the Gods need to stick

     So, blessed be to you, Anne, Judy, Cheryl, Sharon, Paul, Mike, Donn, Jules,  Annie, Darby, Jamie, John, Paul, George, and Ringo............

     And that's the news from this hot, humid, homey little acre of sand on the outskirts of Redneck suburbia, where buzzards are well-fed on road kill and the popularity of Tea party governors plummet when the chickens come home to roost.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Gift that just keeps on Giving........

     Finally, the drama leading up to this wedding has past, and things can settle down to something resembling normal here at Pendragon Hold.  Of course, normal includes the continuing saga of my back injury, things breaking down, and whatever aggravating thing pops up out of nowhere which is the spice of life down here in the swamps of the "new" middle class.  In the old middle class, you traded your car in every 4 years for the latest thing from detroit.  In the NEW middle class, you run old Nelly Bell into the ground and THEN you pray you can come up with a way to finance a newer "pre-owned" car, preferably with some sort of extended warranty, which you will pay dearly for.  I now have about a third of what I think the Credit Union is going to demand for a down payment, and old Nelly Bell is starting to wheeze........

     We here at the Hold are looking forward to yet ANOTHER ending of the world, an event that has been happening with some regularity for the last thirty years or so, or at least according to the Christians of various denominations.  Now, what's really halarious/infuriating about these characters is how they cherry-pick their precious scriptures to back up all their wild assertions about this or that, completely ignoring the many other references in that SAME testament that go contrary to how they behave and what they try to get you to accept as "gospel" truth.  The latest (again) assertion, biblically proven, no less, is that the world will be ending (just how many times can a world come to an end anyway?) here in three days, or at least the rapture that is said to occur before the long-drawn out ending of the Book of Revelations.  And THIS time the preacher warning that the sky is falling is POSITIVE that he's got it right this time, again, despite the plain-as-day admonition in scripture that states that NO ONE will EVER know the date or time of the return of the Son of God.  But, like most fundamentalists I know, this man disrespects his almighty God SO much he feels he can second-guess him, speak for him, and do whatever it seems that the Lord God of Hosts can't seem to do himself.  That is just one of the many reasons I moved on and found a much more gentle, loving, and damn sight more logical spirituality know as Wicca.  The "Busy God"  (as Anne Johnson describes him) got to be a wee bit to lazy, angry, violent, psychotic, illogical, jealous, and downright pathological for me to even believe in, much less worship.  He LOVES me?  Fine, then quit, in his name, trying to oppress or kill me and we will get along a LOT better.  Till then, my fundy friends, I consider you about as safe to turn my back on as the Taliban.

     Now, you ask, what am I going to do if suddenly people start disappearing into thin air on this very day?  Will I throw myself on the ground in prostrate anguish, begging the Lord to please don't "leave me behind"?  HELL NO.  First off, as far as I am concerned, we have a major problem with physics, to say the least, and if this horrid creature really DOES exist, then he and me have a problem.  No, I will not bow down before a being who behaves even worse than the evil satanic devil that he blames all of our problems on.  No, I will NOT be worshipping Satan just because I can't get with this GOD character, because, c'mon, why would any DECENT person in their right mind go running to kiss the ass of someone so famous for screwing with man for all these millennia?  What, just because we disown ONE kind of evil we then HAVE to embrace ANOTHER kind?  Bullshit!  NONE of these cosmic crackpots get my loyalty, thank you very much.  You can't make me love or worship you with threats of damnation.  I never asked you to be created in the first place.

     Which, in the end, make it so much easier to go with common sense and not believe in these looney-tunes stories to begin with.  Come Sunday, I will once again roll my eyes and hope that for ONCE, the proof is self-evident, and these idiots will just put down their cosmic calculators and just shut up about it.

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Night Before a Wedding

Greetings and welcome to another long-awaited edition of “This Wonderment”, the bi-annual blog that begs the question, “What was the question again?”  I’m your host, editor, writer, photo editor and all-around blogging fool, Alex Pendragon, which, of course, is not my real name.

Yes, I know, the very fact that I have posted a few more than a couple of posts to this blog this year alone belies the claim of it being a “Bi-anual” blog, but the claim is accurate insomuch as it’s only made to cover my ass when it takes me so long to getting around to posting.  I only promised you two posts, period, so you’ve nothing to complain about.  Thus, rejoice, as I regale you with yet another bonus post to this award winning publication.  I wish these awards weren’t sent in the mail because mine is taking FOREVER to get here….sheesh…..

It has been very busy around here lately, as we plan for the wedding of the local twin, the one who isn’t already married.  They were hand-fasted here at the Hold a year and a day ago, and now have convinced themselves that they can stand each other’s presence for even more years to come.  So now they will “tie the knot” for good here again, with our local Witch, High Priestess, and Queen of the Hold performing the ceremony.  She can do this because she has a note from somewhere out there saying she’s Wiccan Clergy.  
Anyway, the Hold is full of family tonight, and tommorrow will be overrun with friends as well.  Two people will pronounce their vows in the presence of their Gods and their fellow sojourners.  This is their time.  These are the days of our lives.

Blessed Be.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

I Miss You, Michele


 This is one of the most bittersweet days of the year for me. In 1998, after years of declining health due to a lifetime of smoking, I lost my Mom to COPD and emphysema.  I had rescued her from her younger husband who due to his own issues had never been able to really take care of her, and she lived with me the remaining years of her life. I eventually becoming the "parent", until finally the day came when the Wife and I could no longer trust her alone while we were at work, and had to place her in a nursing home.  Up until that point she had had a fierce independence (as much as one could who relied on others to pay for food and rent) and a lust for life that only a gifted artist and gypsy at heart could have.  But like a balloon which had suffered one prick to many, going to the home deflated her spirit and she gave up there and then.  With nothing else I could do, and knowing her lungs would soon enough not be able to keep her going, I nonetheless suffered so much guilt, even though if truth be told, I gave my Mother back much more than she had given me beyond birthing me.  She didn't raise me; the Mississippi Welfare Department did.
     It wasn't really her fault; it all came down to a conspiracy of irresponsibility, passing the buck, hurtful blame, and a bastard of a sperm-donar.  It wasn't until I was sixteen that I finally met her, and even then I had barely a couple of years before she split with her then-boyfriend (whom I had mistakenly thought was her husband) and I was, having turned eighteen the summer before my senior year, on my own.  With no home and no options, I joined the Navy and I've been having it out with life ever since, only on MY terms and not those of a loveless bureaucracy. 
     Yet, from the moment we met, I fell in love with that woman, and no woman has loved me the way she has since, always proud of me for what I accomplished on my own, never judging me for being young, naive, and infused with the same lust for life that had kept her going thru a very rough life.  I was both amazed and envious of her artistic talent, thinking she had passed nothing on to me that I could be equally proud of, talent wise.  Matter of fact, it wasn't until blogging came along and I took to writing on a regular basis did I feel that maybe SOMEthing of her talent maybe HAD rubbed off on me.  So, despite my exasperation at her innocent, irresponsible hyjinks throughout the years (like burning through money I left her while on deployment for rent and food, or packing a lid of grass in her carry-on luggage when she flew down to visit), I never felt as though she'd ever had to EARN the worry and care I afforded her as she grew older and I matured.  I used to think I was such a lucky guy to have such a fox of a Mom, who always looked young enough to be my sister.  
     My Mom was the first born of my many Aunts and Uncles and became the black sheep of the family, and by extension, I suffered some fallout for her estrangement. Even now, the oldest of 20-odd cousins, and the one only child, I have taken over the mantle of being the odd-one out, the pagan, the one far removed from the others with the exception of one with whom I shared a very special relationship.  But, I am who I am, and I dare say that Mom would be proud of me, even in these dark days when I seem to be able to see the end of days, and my own future seems under constant threat, as the clouds of uncertainty surround me and I face my own mortality.  I look at her picture and she smiles back at me and I feel her love even all these years later.

      Had to take a break there........

     Anyway, I have one thing to say to people with children.  Please don't assume that just because you bring them into the world, they really owe you anything. Remember, they didn't ask you too, and what they think of you in the long run is going to depend on whether or not your love for them was selfish or selfless.  You'd be amazed at what they can forgive you for, but NEVER take their love for granted.  I hated my Mother the day before I met her.  I thank the Gods I couldn't once I met her.  And I thank the Gods for taking over for me in the Summerlands.  I miss her so much.