Friday, December 19, 2008

Solstice at Newgrange

Due to last year's bandwidth-breaking popularity, the Irish Office of Public Works is once again webcasting the Winter Solstice sunrise from inside Newgrange, this time with considerably more bandwidth allocated.

You can watch it live online from inside the chamber here, from 8:30 a.m. until 9:30 a.m. December 21, Irish time. That is to say, 1:30 a.m. Sunday December 21, 2008 for us MST folks, if you want to see it whilst it is still happening. It will most likely be available after the event, as well. And no guarantees about whether the sun will actually shine...but if it does, we should all be able to see it. Hail our ancient forbears...I will feel connected to all of you if I can see this as you did.

Friday, November 14, 2008


No Gays for a Day?

(courtesy of

Joel Stein

November 14, 2008

You wouldn't think gay people would need tips on staging a splashy event from Mexican immigrants. Yet since they lost the right to marry in California, gays appear to have no game plan, marching around West Hollywood and Silver Lake with their old "No on 8" signs, which makes about as much sense as holding a John McCain rally next month at John McCain's house.

That's why I'm declaring Dec. 5 No Gays for a Day day. Patterned after the 2006 Great American Boycott organized by Latino immigrants, on that Friday, gays should stay home from work, school and do no shopping, to prove how crucial they are to American society. No Gays for a Day will demonstrate what it would be like if -- as so much of the non-coastal U.S. seems to desire -- gays just disappeared. You may not even know who all your daily gays are, so there's no predicting the impact. It probably won't shut down the restaurant industry like the immigrants did, but know this for certain: Dec. 5 will be a day that fashion does not move forward.

To gauge this strategy's effectiveness, I called Sonja Eddings Brown, the spokesperson for the Protect Marriage coalition that put Proposition 8 -- which defined marriage as exclusively heterosexual -- on the ballot. Brown, to my surprise, sounded defeated. I reminded her that Proposition 8 passed, so maybe she should pep up a bit. "Did we win?" she asked. "It doesn't feel like it." When I ran No Gays for a Day by her, Brown said, "I have so many dear friends who are such invaluable parts of this city and California who are gay." It was the boldest use of "some of my best friends are ... " I had ever heard.

My main concern about enacting my plan is that I'm not gay. And my previous attempt as an outsider to rally folks to a cause was a miserable failure: Right before I applied to college, I suggested Asian students protest being stereotyped as overachievers by skipping the SAT.

Also, I'm really lazy. So I called Amy Balliett for help. Balliett is a lesbian in Seattle who, just last Friday, created, which has organized an expected 250,000 people nationwide to march Saturday in protest of Proposition 8. Balliett immediately embraced No Gays for a Day as JoinTheImpact's second event. We worked out some kinks, like "pretending you are sick" for people who aren't out of the closet at work. For economic impact, we picked a Friday -- one of the big shopping days before Christmas and the day People, Us Weekly and Star usually sell out at newsstands. We also decided that because this is a general strike, not a directed boycott, even gay-owned, gay-patronized businesses should shut down. "I hate to say this, but we should even say, 'Don't even go out to the bars,' " she said. "I just don't know if the community can stick to that."

To get media attention, Balliett -- a search-engine marketer -- is going to use the social networking sites she used for Saturday's march. Although that sounded promising, I decided to hunt for a No Gays for a Day celebrity spokesperson. I chose Kathy Griffin because she's so well connected to the gay community and because it's hard to get Ellen DeGeneres on the phone at 10 p.m. when you're drinking and coming up with ideas like No Gays for a Day.

Griffin -- who is a spokesperson for the Foundation for AIDS Research, AIDS Project Los Angeles, Aid for AIDS and, I'm guessing, AIDS, AIDS, AIDS -- was thrilled to get the official celebrity spokesperson job. And she thought our impact would be significant. "Forget Pinkberry. It's over for them. They could go under in one day," she said. "If you do two days without gays, Bravo would go under too." People, we figure, will have no assistance at libraries or gym class and will madly butcher their hair. Subaru dealerships shouldn't bother opening. Entertainment journalism will take such a hit, TMZ will have to report hockey scores.

Griffin was getting more excited about our plan until I mentioned this might slow up the remodel of her house. "My remodel? What about the audience for my shows? The only reason I'm doing this is on Dec. 5, I don't have a show. I'd never do this if I had a show that day in Palm Desert," she said. Then -- and you'll have to trust me that this actually happened -- Griffin got quiet for a few seconds. "If my assistants don't go to work," she said, "who's going to go to the bathroom for me? I'm screwed on a day without gays. I've made a huge error in judgment. Me, Cher and Bette Midler are going to be the three most screwed Americans. We all might actually die that day. And what if Ryan Seacrest doesn't go to work? The state will collapse. This will wake up California."

But Griffin decided No Gays for a Day is a cause worthy of her suffering. Now the rest of the world will find out what Griffin has known all along: We need our gays. If it turns out I'm wrong, and we don't miss them, then as a married man, I can tell you this: The best way to keep them at home is to let them get married.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

An Everyday Miracle

I was driving home from babysitting for Lauren and Ellie tonight, and I saw the full moon rising over the mountains on the east of the valley. It somehow seems so much more plangent in the winter...maybe I need to find out exactly what the meteorological reasons for this is. In any case, she is amazing, and the sight reminded me of this which I wrote some years ago. So here it is again, with all my love.

Moon Mother

Aisling the Bard, October 18, 2005

We stood last night, a circle of kindred, and watched Her
Coming out from behind the crag of Mt. Olympus

Not shy, this globe of glowing silver light,
But plangent, full and bursting, assertive, a Presence.

She was THERE....and we....?

We stood, cups in hand, watching the unveiling
Sight seen so often, never taken for granted,
Her bounteous presence once again with us,
And yet new, unexpected, ever vivid and compelling
like the air you breathe every morning,
essential and appreciated,
though often unremarked.

But we had to mark Her, this night, this appearance...
It was like the processional of an ancient Queen,
Panoplied in splendor, golden, coruscating, glinting with awareness...
She would not be unregarded.

And we raised our cups, and honored Her, and bowed....
None of us, we urban-dwelling Pagans,
even for a moment thinking of Science or Technology,
But all of us awed once again, as our race has been from time immemorial,
By the living presence of the Lady,
The Mother of Lights,
In Her silvered radiance.

She is a Mystery, and we watch in awe,
As her face reveals itself to us again and again,
Always for the first time.

We drank deep, mead we had made together, and savored the moment...
Ancient wine, ancient Lady, ancient mystery of craft and kith,
Loving our Presence here in timelessness
within the globe of silver light,
And still so essentially present in our own world,
The hiss of cars on the motorway resonating with the pulse of crashing surf,
Recalled in genetic memory, though never experienced.

And at that moment, we recalled
Or thought for the first time,
Of all the Hidden Children,
over our land and other lands

All of them watching
Seeing Her in radiance,
The same glowing silver face
The same breathless awakening,
The same Awe,

Time and place compelling different circumstances
But all kindred, honoring the Mother of All.

We lifted our glasses again,
Gazing ever upward,
And felt our connection
To those unknown faces,
Perhaps also raising glasses in tribute.

We drank to them
A toast to "the Others"
Her other children,
Those we will never see,
But whom we Know,
More intimately, perhaps, than those
with whom we brush careless shoulders
In offices and stores
Where her face does not shine.

We connected
In moonlight
to all those we may never see,
But whose hearts and minds are kin to us
because of Her shining silver radiance,

And She smiled.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A VERY "Special Comment"...

In case there is ONE PERSON who reads my blog who has not yet seen this, here it is. Pay attention:

By Keith Olbermann
Anchor, 'Countdown'

Finally tonight as promised, a Special Comment on the passage, last week, of Proposition Eight in California, which rescinded the right of same-sex couples to marry, and tilted the balance on this issue, from coast to coast.

Some parameters, as preface. This isn't about yelling, and this isn't about politics, and this isn't really just about Prop-8. And I don't have a personal investment in this: I'm not gay, I had to strain to think of one member of even my very extended family who is, I have no personal stories of close friends or colleagues fighting the prejudice that still pervades their lives.

And yet to me this vote is horrible. Horrible. Because this isn't about yelling, and this isn't about politics. This is about the human heart, and if that sounds corny, so be it.

If you voted for this Proposition or support those who did or the sentiment they expressed, I have some questions, because, truly, I do not understand. Why does this matter to you? What is it to you? In a time of impermanence and fly-by-night relationships, these people over here want the same chance at permanence and happiness that is your option. They don't want to deny you yours. They don't want to take anything away from you. They want what you want—a chance to be a little less alone in the world.

Only now you are saying to them—no. You can't have it on these terms. Maybe something similar. If they behave. If they don't cause too much trouble. You'll even give them all the same legal rights—even as you're taking away the legal right, which they already had. A world around them, still anchored in love and marriage, and you are saying, no, you can't marry. What if somebody passed a law that said you couldn't marry?

I keep hearing this term "re-defining" marriage. If this country hadn't re-defined marriage, black people still couldn't marry white people. Sixteen states had laws on the books which made that illegal in 1967. 1967.

The parents of the President-Elect of the United States couldn't have married in nearly one third of the states of the country their son grew up to lead. But it's worse than that. If this country had not "re-defined" marriage, some black people still couldn't marry black people. It is one of the most overlooked and cruelest parts of our sad story of slavery. Marriages were not legally recognized, if the people were slaves. Since slaves were property, they could not legally be husband and wife, or mother and child. Their marriage vows were different: not "Until Death, Do You Part," but "Until Death or Distance, Do You Part." Marriages among slaves were not legally recognized.

You know, just like marriages today in California are not legally recognized, if the people are gay.

And uncountable in our history are the number of men and women, forced by society into marrying the opposite sex, in sham marriages, or marriages of convenience, or just marriages of not knowing, centuries of men and women who have lived their lives in shame and unhappiness, and who have, through a lie to themselves or others, broken countless other lives, of spouses and children, all because we said a man couldn't marry another man, or a woman couldn't marry another woman. The sanctity of marriage.

How many marriages like that have there been and how on earth do they increase the "sanctity" of marriage rather than render the term, meaningless?

What is this, to you? Nobody is asking you to embrace their expression of love. But don't you, as human beings, have to embrace... that love? The world is barren enough.

It is stacked against love, and against hope, and against those very few and precious emotions that enable us to go forward. Your marriage only stands a 50-50 chance of lasting, no matter how much you feel and how hard you work.

And here are people overjoyed at the prospect of just that chance, and that work, just for the hope of having that feeling. With so much hate in the world, with so much meaningless division, and people pitted against people for no good reason, this is what your religion tells you to do? With your experience of life and this world and all its sadnesses, this is what your conscience tells you to do?

With your knowledge that life, with endless vigor, seems to tilt the playing field on which we all live, in favor of unhappiness and hate... this is what your heart tells you to do? You want to sanctify marriage? You want to honor your God and the universal love you believe he represents? Then Spread happiness—this tiny, symbolic, semantical grain of happiness—share it with all those who seek it. Quote me anything from your religious leader or book of choice telling you to stand against this. And then tell me how you can believe both that statement and another statement, another one which reads only "do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

You are asked now, by your country, and perhaps by your creator, to stand on one side or another. You are asked now to stand, not on a question of politics, not on a question of religion, not on a question of gay or straight. You are asked now to stand, on a question of love. All you need do is stand, and let the tiny ember of love meet its own fate.

You don't have to help it, you don't have it applaud it, you don't have to fight for it. Just don't put it out. Just don't extinguish it. Because while it may at first look like that love is between two people you don't know and you don't understand and maybe you don't even want to know. It is, in fact, the ember of your love, for your fellow person just because this is the only world we have. And the other guy counts, too.

This is the second time in ten days I find myself concluding by turning to, of all things, the closing plea for mercy by Clarence Darrow in a murder trial.

But what he said, fits what is really at the heart of this:

"I was reading last night of the aspiration of the old Persian poet, Omar-Khayyam," he told the judge. It appealed to me as the highest that I can vision. I wish it was in my heart, and I wish it was in the hearts of all:
"So I be written in the Book of Love;
I do not care about that Book above.
Erase my name, or write it as you will,
So I be written in the Book of Love."

Friday, November 7, 2008

To Beirn, On Her Birthday...

A Sonnet For An Unknown Sister

It seems so odd to me we've never met
In any way but electronically
Because the more we correspond, I see
Some things that I have not related yet
To any realm of logic. I can try
To understand our similarities
As somehow accidental. Yet if these
Are catalogued, it seems to me that I
See congruence of talent, taste, and mind
That strike me as not mere coincidence.
We seem akin, not merely friends. And hence
What great delight it was for me to find,
That Monaghan' a name and line we share...
I knew there might be more than friendship there!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

About This Marriage Kerfluffle...

[info]estaratshirai said:
Copy this sentence into your livejournal if you're in a heterosexual marriage, and you don't want it "protected" by the bigots who think that gay marriage hurts it somehow.

And I don't qualify, queer folk that I am, so I moderated it a bit:

Copy THIS sentence into your journal ANYWHERE (not just LJ) if you believe the fucking government should keep its lousy nose out of the estate of "holy Matrimony", period, and leave it to the religious communities in which it rightfully belongs....

A proud Unitarian Universalist Witch, legally married in both my churches, which are the only locales I believe have the right to verify, or not verify, my matrimonial state.

Get the government out of your marriage. Pass it on

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Looking At A Musical Ancestor Of Truth....

Watching some movies with Brie on the Turner Classic Movie channel, and saw The Singing Nun, with Debbie Reynolds. It did make me think fondly of my own memories of that movie, and of Soeur Sourire, "The Smiling Sister", and of what listening to her music when I was in high school did for my own music, poetry and sense of self. I can still sing all those songs, and I still have the 33 1/3 vinyl of her one recording. And I still love and remember that heart-lifting feeling of just seeing someone bursting out into song because they are just so happy with life, and with god. And her later life brings her even closer to my own soul, as she left the convent, mostly because she was sure the Catholic Church had it wrong about birth control (she even wrote a song in praise of the pill), and also because she was coming out to herself, and finally gifted herself with a lover and soulmate, Anna Pecher, in 1975. And both of them, faced by increasing financial and health problems, lay down together and died of their own free will in 1985. So hail to Soeur Sourire, today's ancestor of the heart! I admire your talent, courage and dignity. Sleep in peace. And no, I don't believe in a god who would condemn you to hell for deciding to end your own life with your beloved. Somewhere, the two of you are together, singing.

Soeur Sourire

Paroles et musique: Soeur Sourire, 1959

Dominique, nique, nique
S'en allait tout simplement,
Routier, pauvre et chantant
En tous chemins, en tous lieux,
Il ne parle que du Bon Dieu,
Il ne parle que du Bon Dieu

A l'époque où Jean Sans Terre,
D'Angleterre était le roi
Dominique notre père,
Combattit les albigeois.

Dominique, nique, nique
S'en allait tout simplement,
Routier, pauvre et chantant
En tous chemins, en tous lieux,
Il ne parle que du Bon Dieu,
Il ne parle que du Bon Dieu

Certains jours un hérétique,
Par des ronces le conduit
Mais notre Père Dominique,
Par sa joie le convertit

Dominique, nique, nique
S'en allait tout simplement,
Routier, pauvre et chantant
En tous chemins, en tous lieux,
Il ne parle que du Bon Dieu,
Il ne parle que du Bon Dieu

Ni chameau, ni diligence,
Il parcourt l'Europe à pied
Scandinavie ou Provence,
Dans la sainte pauvreté

Dominique, nique, nique
S'en allait tout simplement,
Routier, pauvre et chantant
En tous chemins, en tous lieux,
Il ne parle que du Bon Dieu,
Il ne parle que du Bon Dieu

Enflamma de toute école
Filles et garçons pleins d'ardeur
Et pour semer la parole,
Inventa les Frères-Prêcheurs

Dominique, nique, nique
S'en allait tout simplement,
Routier, pauvre et chantant
En tous chemins, en tous lieux,
Il ne parle que du Bon Dieu,
Il ne parle que du Bon Dieu

Chez Dominique et ses frères,
Le pain s'en vint à manquer
Et deux anges se présentèrent,
Portant de grands pains dorés

Dominique, nique, nique
S'en allait tout simplement,
Routier, pauvre et chantant
En tous chemins, en tous lieux,
Il ne parle que du Bon Dieu,
Il ne parle que du Bon Dieu

Dominique vit en rêve,
Les prêcheurs du monde entier
Sous le manteau de la Vierge,
En grand nombre rassemblés.

Dominique, nique, nique
S'en allait tout simplement,
Routier, pauvre et chantant
En tous chemins, en tous lieux,
Il ne parle que du Bon Dieu,
Il ne parle que du Bon Dieu

Dominique, mon bon Père,
Garde-nous simples et gais
Pour annoncer à nos frères,
La vie et la vérité.

Dominique, nique, nique
S'en allait tout simplement,
Routier, pauvre et chantant
En tous chemins, en tous lieux,
Il ne parle que du Bon Dieu,
Il ne parle que du Bon Dieu

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Counting Down The Ancestors ~ 10/10 to 10/18

(From my LiveJournal)

[protected post] Today's Living Ancestor....

  • Oct. 10th, 2008 at 11:00 PM
Samhain, Hallowe'en
Went to Ellie's fourth birthday party tonight, at Emeliee's house. And I can't think of a better ancestor to honor today than my wonderful mom, Mary Duffy...Sitting in my daughter's livingroom and seeing all my daughters and all their kids and knowing this little lady was the reason we all happened...It doesn't get any better than this. I hope we have her around for a long long long time...
Here is beautiful mom. Ninety next year...this photo was taken last year....WOW....

[protected post] An Ancestor For Today....

  • Oct. 11th, 2008 at 10:34 PM
Samhain, Hallowe'en
A teacher this I will never forget. She was Soeur Marie Patrice, a Holy Cross Sister who taught me French at St. Mary of the Wasatch when I was in high school. She was a native Parisienne, and she was a tiny little woman with a huge heart who never spoke a cross word to anyone and always maintained perfect order in all her classes because she had the ability of seemingly effortless engagement of her students. My mother and I referred to her as "Ma Belle Chat" in a loving manner, because she had that feline self-possession that is so exquisitely elegant to watch. I was washing dishes by hand today, and I always sing at the top of my lungs when I am doing that, and since several French tunes came across my radar (Aupres de ma blonde, Dites-moi, La Marseillaise) and she did, too. Bon voyage, ma belle chat! Wherever you are, may your road be smooth....

[protected post] Ancestral Anomalies....

  • Oct. 12th, 2008 at 8:25 AM
Samhain, Hallowe'en
So, you have to take the whatever with the whatever, doncha? So today, we have a rather odd choice of ancestor...someone I am quite certain isn't related to me in any way whatsoever, except for a name. Today I am thinking about my Uncle Charles Duffy...ok. Yes, he's related to me. And he was someone I never got to know, strictly by circumstance, since he and his family lived in Saranac Lake NY and we only saw them on summer vacation, until we moved to Utah when I was nine, and then we never saw them again that I remember. So...why am I disclaiming a relationship with the brother of my father, since indubitably we were related? Well...I can't get inside his head. He shot himself, leaving a wife and four children, for no discernable reason that anyone could ever figure out. Of course, no suicide is really comprehensible to anyone left behind. And I have certainly felt bad enough over the years about a lot of other things about which I could do nothing. But I really don't understand what happened to Uncle Charlie, or how it affects me now. I know somehow it does. So I am going to give him my thoughts today and try to figure it out. For all he was, and for all he makes the family remember, we are grateful.

[protected post] Today's Ancestor Is....

  • Oct. 13th, 2008 at 6:42 PM
Samhain, Hallowe'en
Walter Duffy, my father's first cousin, who goes in the family by the name of Bud. As far as I know he is still alive, and he is writing and researching more genealogy than a person can possibly absorb in even a few sittings. It is, apparently, his obsession. And I am grateful for it. He has collated so much family information and lore that has become the basis of my own research...Just to say "thank you" to Bud, my great-uncle, in both senses of the word....

[protected post] A Cultural Ancestor....

  • Oct. 14th, 2008 at 11:25 PM
Samhain, Hallowe'en
JRR Tolkien, whose amazing world-building has inspired three generations of marvelous fantasy writers, linguists, and creators of art and music. I can't begin to explain the amazing influence this man has had on my own worldview, so suffice it to say I would be far narrower and less happy a person had I not encountered his wonderful writing and fallen under his arcane spell....John Ronald Ruel Tolkien....Mae govannen!! Elen sila lumenn omentilmo!!!

[protected post] And Today's Ancestor Is...

  • Oct. 15th, 2008 at 10:54 PM
Samhain, Hallowe'en
...Patrick Ball, another Celtic Harper who also happens to be a personal friend...Yes, he's been to my house. And he brought his harp, and he played for us, something he was just then working on...One of the most influential players of the "folk harp", the one who pioneered the break from pedal harp technique and fingering, who made Irish harp music accessible to people who had never heard a harp, one who brought back the role of the Celtic storyteller to modern times. Every time I play my harp, I think of him. Thank you, Patrick.

[protected post] And Yet Another Ancestor of Culture...

  • Oct. 16th, 2008 at 11:45 PM
Samhain, Hallowe'en
Amazing Dorothy Parker, inspiration of an entire generation of outspoken women, whose wit and ability for repartee is practically unmatched in modern history...I was reminded of her by [info]brigidsblest , who put several of my favorite quotes on her blog today. But it wasn't just her wit I's her life. She was a rogue in an era of non-conformity, and her founding of the Algonquin Round Table brought together such literary figures as Robert Benchley, Robert E. Sherwood, James Thurber, George S. Kaufman, Edna Ferber, Franklin P. Adams, and many others.

Regina Barreca wrote, in the introduction to Parker's Collected Stories, that "Parker's wit caricatures the self-deluded, the powerful, the autocratic, the vain, the sill, and the self important; it does not rely on men and small formulas, and it never ridicules the marginalized, the sideline or the outcast. When Parker goes for the jugular, its usually a vein with blueblood in it."

According to Barreca, many of the critics of her time painted her as having "sold out" and "wasted herself by writing about narrow topics." Nevertheless, her works paved the way for other realist writings by intellectuals, and other writers, which transformed American thought. As a woman before her time, she represented with her witty and satirical writings a select few women who became independently successful. This was a difficult accomplishment during this period that was moving away from Victorian ideals--a time when women were just beginning to see that women can have their individual identities separate from their male counterparts.

Throughout literary history, many people have written works which have added to the tradition of the American Jeremiad. Much of Dorothy Parker’s literature is a good example of the American Jeremiad which has revolutionized American culture and beliefs. Her work has had a tremendous influence on women’s history. There have been continuing arguments over our nation’s founding principles: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Parker’s ideas brought to life a profoundly realistic depiction of the rampant sexism and inconsistencies between those principles and the various social classes, races, and sexes in the life of America in the 1920s. She stated, referring to the renegades of the 1920s,

They come clean with the news that war is a horrible thing, that injustice still exists in many parts of the globe even to this day, that the very rich are apt to sit appreciably prettier than the very poor. Even the tenderer matters are not smeared over with romance for them. They have taken a calm look at this marriage thing and they are there to report that it is not always a life long trip to Niagara Falls. You will be barely able to stagger when the evening is over. In fact, once you have heard the boys settling things it will be no surprise to you if any day now one of them works it all out that there is nothing to this Santa Clause idea. (Parker, quoted in introduction to Dorothy Parker: Complete Stories, p.xi.)

Her voice is still heard in quotes that are used without attribution all over the world, because they just absolutely express the bon mot, the exact right way to say it. Here are a few of my favorites:

"The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity."

"You can't teach an old dogma new tricks."

"Heterosexuality is not normal, it's just common."

"That woman speaks eighteen languages, and can't say No in any of them."

"I'd rather have a bottle in front of me, than a frontal lobotomy."

[protected post] And Today's Ancestor Is...

  • Oct. 17th, 2008 at 10:02 PM
Samhain, Hallowe'en
...Martin Fennelly, who with his brother Patrick (my great-great grandfather) and their sisters Margaret and Elanor moved from County Kilkenny to Connecticut in 1896. They started a guesthouse in Ansonia Connecticut, and apparently made money enough to buy a home and got pretty well established. Martin has come down through the family as the quintessence of a who took care of his sisters at the expense of his own happiness, apparently, until finally in his later years he married a younger woman, whose name we have not yet ascertained for sure although it might have been Elizabeth. They produced progeny, she being younger than he, and lived with his 2 spinster sisters to be sure they were "well-taken-care-of", since of course in those days a woman without a husband was at anyone's mercy. From him stemmed the "other Fennellys", the ones who didn't all move to New York, and created an enclave in Derby Connecticut which was home to lots of other displaced Irish folk. So hail Uncle Martin! You kept us together...

[protected post] Today's Ancestor Offering

  • Oct. 18th, 2008 at 9:02 PM
Samhain, Hallowe'en
Goes to another Cultural Ancestor, Susan Cooper. "The Dark Is Rising" is not only a wonderful series of books,. it is witchy in the extreme (for a set of books based on Xtian theology, it's amazing) and has become a centerpiece of our family and coven wheel of the year. Reading these books every year at the appropriate time (starting at Yule) used to be a family tradition. We need to start doing that again. In any case, I tip my Witch Hat (see previous entry) to Susan Cooper this year, and wish her well....and really, really wish she'd write something else.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

WItches High Tea 2008

Samhain, Hallowe'en
...and a grand time was had by all....

The full set is on my Flickr

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

My Ancestor Goddess...Literally.....

Brighid Duffy of Kildare, one of the folk manifestations of St. Brighid, who is also the Goddess Brighid, who is regarded by my family as a blood ancestor. If I could find it, there is some poem my mother knows part of, starting out "Brigid the daughter of Duffy, Was not like other young things..." and talking about her sainliness. In any case, even before I was Pagan, I wore a St. Brigid medal, having been dedicated to her as a child. She is a huge focus of my Craft, and I do keep looking to find more stories about her as a Duffy. For today, though, to honor her as an ancestor, here is my daily prayer:

Every day and every night
That I say the Genealogy of Brigid
I shall not be killed,
I shall not be harried,
I shall not be wounded,
I shall not be put in a cell.

No fire, no sun, no moon shall burn me,
water, no lake, no sea shall drown me.

For I am child of Poetry,
Poetry, child of Reflection,
Reflection, child of Meditation,
Meditation, child of Lore,
Lore, child of Research,
Research, child of Great Knowledge,
Great Knowledge, child of Intelligence,
Intelligence, child of Comprehension,
Comprehension, child of Wisdom,
Wisdom, child of Brigid

Thursday, October 9, 2008

A Couple Of Ancestor Journal Entries....

I missed posting for a couple of days, so reading down:

October 7, 2008
They were a brave lot, my Folk. In some ways, brave to the point of Stupid. But I am proud of that, anyway. I have a little story to tell about today's ancestor, in the regard of being brave. Seems my father's family had a knack for being Irish at all the wrong times....Let me explain. My great-uncle, Francis Emmett Duffy, always called Emmett, was a rather large man in stature. His mother, through the years, has become famous within the family for often telling people, "I had thirteen children, and Emmett!" I suspect that might have made some kind of a difference to him throughout life, because from my father (who was born on his Uncle Emmett's birthday), I have always heard that Emmett was rather a quiet, gentle man, who collected bugs and butterflies, and who sang in a sweet, high tenor voice in church...But who, because of his great size, was seen as a threat by smaller, lesser men, and was always having to prove himself worthy of being the biggest man in whatever room it was. The incident of which I am thinking happened when Emmett was just 19, at a craic being held in one of the pubs in Lake Placid, the largest city close to where he lived in Saranac Lake, New York. There was a huge Italian population in Lake Placid, and most of the drinking establishments were owned and operated by members of Little Italy. So, since it wasn't home, the people who frequented the pub didn't know Emmett, and since it wasn't his customary Irish-American culture, he may have felt a bit out of place. And of course, with the drinking going on, someone got a wee bit into his cups, and decided Uncle Emmett needed to be brought down a peg or two. How dare he come in here flaunting his six foot six, and daring to only have a single whisky and not even get tipsy? Not to mention having about the best voice at the craic, so that a few Italian-American beauties were apparently eyeing him speculatively. So of course, there were words. I believe the way the story has come down through the family, the assailant came up to Emmett and said something akin to "Show me what you're made of, besides stretch, you stupid big lug" or words to that effect, and deliberately spilled a drink down the front of Emmet's shirt. Apparently Emmett realized that in a battle of wits he would be attacking an unarmed man, and ignored the insult. Instead, he simply turned around and bent over, across the bar, reaching for a towel. The bully pointed at him, laughing in mockery and saying, "So, you're running away from a fight, eh, coward?" And Uncle Emmett crooked his head back over his shoulder and said, "I am simply making it easier for you to Póg ma thoin, boyo." And, thinking he had saved his honor, Emmett turned back to the bar, only to be felled a moment later by a beer mug applied directly to the back of his head. Apparently he had chosen to insult, in an Italian bar, one of the few other persons inside the room who knew enough Irish to know he had just been invited to kiss Emmet's arse. So...Uncle Emmett's on the floor, bleeding from the head, and the man who clonked him one makes an abrupt exit. No one tries to help him. And he lies there for about half an hour, before he wakes up, shakes his head, stands up, gathers his dignity about him, and simply walks out the door. His cousin, Tommy Riley, had been in the bar with him, and saw him home, but apparently hadn't chosen to say anything to the bully or take any action to help Emmett. He told the story, though, to everyone who would listen. And the next week, Emmett went back to the same bar, and found a sign on the door (not unusual in those days) saying, "No Irish here. Drink somewhere else". So....history was made. And I think Emmett won, no matter how you look at it. Cheers, Uncle Emmett. Hope where you are they are a little less truculent, and the drink is better.

October 9, 2008

I am lighting candles today for another cultural ancestor. Her name is Frances Xavier Cabrini, and she is a saint of the Catholic Church, whose name is my middle name, making her my patron saint. She was an unique woman for her time. She was born in Italy in the mid-1800's. She was the first American citizen to be canonized by the Roman Catholic Church. In fact, I knew her as I was rowing up as "Mother Cabrini" because she was the founder of her own religious order. As a young woman she had wished to enter religious life, but she contracted smallpox when she was seventeen, and never fully recovered. When she tried to enter into the Daughters of the Sacred Heart, she was refused admission, even though she had potential in her, because of her frail health. She apparently was told, "You are called to establish another Institute that will bring new glory to the Heart of Jesus." She supported her parents until they died and helped the family on the farm. She and six other sisters that took religious vows with her ultimately founded the Institute of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Mother Cabrini composed the rules and constitution of the order, and she continued as its superior-general until her death.

She lived in New York City where our family lore said that she met my grandmother, Mabel Fennelly, because Mother Cabrini was involved with charity to the poor, whom my grandmother also taught. she obtained the permission of Archbishop Michael Corrigan to found an orphanage, which is located in West Park, Ulster County, NY today and is known as Saint Cabrini Home, the first of 67 institutions she founded. She was naturalized as an American citizen in 1909 even though all her life she had to deal with the same prejudice against Italians that my grandparents encountered against the Irish....Maybe because of this, she is now the patron saint of immigrants. I was always taught that she was a person to admire and to pray to, because we shared the idea of being condemned for where we came from, and my Grandmother was certain that as long as I wore the St. Frances medal she had given me, I would never be harmed by anyone just because they "Hated the dirty Micks." So, today, I honor her, because she was a strong brave woman and because emulating her in my childhood has helped me to grow up the person I am.

And then there's today:

Dear Derek Bell, harper extraordinaire for the Irish band, The Chieftains, until his death in 2002. I had the privilege of meeting him several times, and was so honored that he ever remembered who I was, but he did....both times I spoke to him after the first time. His music was extraordinary, his singing and speaking voice both bespoke the bardic craft handed down through his heritage, and I do believe he was a good and gentle and loving man the world will always sorely miss. In any case, I miss knowing he is in the world. Slainte, Derek, and may wherever you are be a place where the harp is welcome.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

God Save My Ancestor...

Queen Elizabeth the First, who had the great good sense to be born on MY birthday, preceding me by some several hundreds of years. I admire this woman, not because she was a queen, but because she was herself. She didn't kowtow, not to Essex, or daddy Henry, or sister Mary, or anyone else, including Sir Francis Drake, pirate or patriot depending on your POV. In any case, she was a strong, powerful woman, and her example has inspired me more than a little., Hail To The Queen!!

Monday, October 6, 2008

A Wee Bit O' Blarney, Albeit Out Of Season..

Flattery will get you everywhere, I think. I hope. Because I have just spent a great deal of time having an online conversation with a person I don't like much. And I didn't say anything which wasn't true, because there are things I can say that ARE true about what this woman does, and they are good things. Someone doesn't have to be someone I like to do work that I admire...but that doesn't mean I have to like her, or who she is, or how she treats me....So...why do I feel dirty? Why do I feel like a hypocrite, when nothing I said to her is untrue? Because I said those things to her because I want something? But she knows what I want, and she is ok with it. It's just that I know that I wouldn't be talking to her at all if there weren't something I want. And I would prefer to say how I really feel about her, TO her, and I don't feel like I can. So...I make nice, online, to get her to do what I need her to do. And I go offline, to this blog, that is a place I can be honest with the world, and say that it makes me feel like a bad person, like a liar, even thought I never told a lie at all. It is completely irrational to feel the way I do. I will have to figure out WHY.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Just A Nice Day, And My Ancestor....

Ru came over today, and we had some time together....a movie we really wanted him to see, "Boat Trip", and I am so glad he thought it was funny, because Brie and I think it's hysterical. Right up there with "Miss Congeniality"....And we did some deranged business, but somehow we're always somewhat deranged when we're together. And Ru was a witness to the most recent development in my personal magical life...just ask him. He'll tell you, I really can levitate!! So we sat and relaxed and watched the movie, and now Brie and I are watching an episode of SVU that I don't remember seeing before. And it is another quiet day, just the two of us now, and dinner will be the rest of the roast beef, and we are just hanging out together and loving it. I guess I really am either getting old, or I am just waaaay the eff overextended, because I am beginning to really cherish the quiet times when nothing much is going on. A call from Sara and one from Mom, as well as a call from Jody. Lots of folks talking on LJ that I am going to be responding to. A few little bits of household stuff....oh, and I gave Ruadhan the chicken soup, because there was so much of it and we have already eaten it twice. And it is really time to take Quin to the vet to get the mats out of her hair. And I do have grapes, so I will be brewing even though I thought I had nothing to brew with. And.....For me, this was a busy, as well as a peaceful, kind of a day.

And as far as my Ancestor, it's a cultural ancestor. Here's my entry:

" that I have one son and two grandchildren who play the flute (an instrument upon which yours truly can't even make a noise), I must acknowledge the breadth and depth of musical enjoyment and insight I have received from the work of James Galway, Flautist Extraordinaire. His amazing versatility and technical knowledge make listening to him a true mystical experience. I am thinking of "Annie's Song" as well as his Saltarello, and loving hearing it in my head. Sláinte, Seamus!!"

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Ancestor Journal, October 4

Today, it's raining and cold and overcast and absolutely wonderful here. I love this kind of weather, and I love the contemplative, cosey, snuggled-up-at-home feeling I get in this kind of weather. And it reminds me....

My grandfather, John Kyron Fennelly, (middle name spelled phonetically on purpose so it could not be mispronounced, since no one who wasn't another Irish Immigrant knew how to say "Ciaran" correctly) was a very quiet, reserved, dignified man. I never remember seeing him outside of a suit, a white shirt, and his characteristic string tie, whose bolo was a tiny pin of the Irish Flag. I never heard him raise his voice to another person, and I hardly remember his smiling, certainly not laughing out loud. He walked slowly, and spoke seldom. We would walk together to the druggist three blocks away from his house, every time I visited him, to get the papers, my seven-year-old self listening mostly to the crunching of the pebbled sidewalks under our feet, because there was scarcely any conversation going on. I remember thinking how dry, warm, and soft his hand was, my little fist securely encircled by his fingers. He smelled of bay rum aftershave, and always had a mint in his mouth, because he did not want to offend with his breath, since he smoked cigars (never in front of the women or the children). The only time I ever remember hearing him express any emotion at all was the one situation in which I DID hear him raise his voice, and that was when, after a whiskey or two, he would argue politics with my uncles, especially waving his fists and shouting about "ROOOsevelt" (said as if it rhymed with "ruse", not "rose"). BUT....there was one thing about him. One thing that makes this his day to be my honored ancestor. He loved rain. Loved it in a way that made him become all excited when he heard thunder, and had him digging in the closet for his "wellies" and walking out in it, bareheaded, face lifted to the downpour, and squatting beside the lilac bush in the back yard to inhale huge breaths of the soaking-wet fragrance. He it was that told me there were fairies one could only see in the rain. He it was who taught me to smell the rain before it came. He it was who made me listen, really listen, to the different sounds of falling water hitting, diversely, leaf and roof and driveway and grass and car hood and flowerbed and my own outstretched hand. I had chronic sinusitis when I was a child, and for me getting a cold in the head was a disaster. But I never recall getting ill after a foray in the rain with Grandpa, because it was as if we were in some kind of a place that nothing bad could enter. Only the beauty and mystery of falling rain. And in this storm, today, I honor him. I love you, Grandpa.

Make-Believe Maverick

This is by far the most comprehensive portrayal of the REAL John McCain that I have ever encountered, from Rolling Stone Magazine, of all places. I am totally appalled that some of this information hasn't been shared in other places, but for those of you reading this, here it is. And now tell me why you haven't yet registered to vote as a Democrat?

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Ancestor Altar and Journal

Today, I am thinking of Aunt Betty. My mother's sister, Elizabeth Fennelly. She died several years ago, and she was always an enigma to me. My mother's next-to-youngest sister, never in all the time I knew her had a man in her life, a little distant, a dedicated traveller (first in the family to re-visit Ireland), she never let anyone know her very well. She was a legal secretary and law clerk for many years, and she also took care of Gran (and appropriated whatever she liked after Gran died, to the upset of many people in the family, but she believed she deserved it). She was so unlike all the other women in our family that I never made a connection with her. Since I have been thinking about her, over the past several years, a few specific things have come to my mind. In her era, there was practically no such thing as a woman who was single by choice. I find myself wondering if perhaps she might have been a lesbian, with no way of knowing that nor any resources to become who she was. She also spoke bitterly against the Catholic Church in private, whilst scrupulously keeping to every iota of religious observance in the public eye. I wonder how she really felt about the church, and why? She is the one who taught me to read the tea leaves and to discern the weather, and answers to questions, by the flight of birds and the movement of clouds. She had a reputation for scrupulous honesty, but she also helped her sister Ellen do a spell to take away all her ex-husband's money because she thought Harry had mistreated Ellen. She was a very complicated person, and I hardly knew her. Now that she has died, I keep wondering if I missed something. I will be inviting her to Dumb Supper this year, and see if she will come and talk to me.

I will be posting pictures of the ancestor altar when I take some. On the dining room table this year, being the focus of the entire room, as I feel is appropriate.

And tonight I watched the Veep Debacle....erm, debate....and I am not at all sanguine about what might happen in November. Something is wrong when SP does not sound like an idiot. I am really afraid she cleans up too good to be as ridiculous as she really is....

Saturday, September 27, 2008

FInally over here...

I think it is time I began moving my bloglife over from LJ, a little at a time. Won't happen all at once because I have mucho history over there. But for now, I will be dual-posting, putting the same entries on my LJ account and over here...And I should probably pull IJ into the loop too...and OHEMGEE, I just remembered I have a MySpace and a Facebook, too...holy moly, what ever shall I do with all this MEEE-dom? I am wondering how it has changed me to become a person who doesn't use my "hand of write" to scribe in my Journal and BOS by hand, but instead uses my "hand of type" all over the effen place, including over fifty e-mail lists, the aforesaid blogs, Meetup, and all kinds of other forums...blather, blather. Memememememememe....I think I am going to be seriously thinking about this. Sounds like an opportunity to reassess self.....