Tag: family

Cankles and their cotton picking connections

According to Google, a cankle is “an unusually thick or stout ankle.”  If you take a look at the images that pop up after that search you will see cankles are huge punch line in what sees to be a never ending fat joke. A lot of the memes circulating right now are at the expense of Hillary and Bill Clinton. Whatever feelings you have about them, you can agree that insults of this nature are low brow and juvenile. You will also notice a lot of “Get Thin Quick” style ads willing to help you eliminate your unsightly cankles for the low, low price of $19.99. Usually these ad have some mind blowing before and after pictures and a giant Click Here NOW!!

So, based on that, cankles are a bad thing right? Something completely and totally unattractive. Another thing women need to change about themselves to fit into the ever shrinking category of “Acceptable.” We mustn’t let ourselves be too thin, or flat, or hairy, or fat, or anything else that might be too much or, conversely, not enough. We must always, no matter the situation, be attractive. And we must never, ever have cankles.

Guess what? I have cankles. Big, thick, stout calf ankle hybrids. Starting after my scarred up knees, my legs flow, like fallen logs down a stream, into the flatlands that are my big wide feet. Since late elementary school, these chunky stems have been hidden under pants. People may assume, but they don’t for sure know. But I do.I have big cotton picking cankles.

And even though I’m using “cotton picking” as a tongue in cheek adjective, there’s some truth there. Going back many generations, the women of my blood line worked in the cotton fields and mills, picking and spinning the crop that made this part of the South.

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My maternal great grandmother, Grandmaw Katie, worked the fields with her husband Ott,  and their five children. ( Sidenote: Grandpaw Ott passed away before I was born, so while he is a family member, I don’t really know a lot about him.)  From sunup to sunset, they would move through the fields, hunched over at the waist, plucking the little balls of fluff out of their thistle homes. The fields they inched their way through were owned not by ‘well to do’ farmers but by ‘better to do’ farmers. No one was well off in their corner of the world. They picked cotton and tended the fields in exchange for a little clapboard house to stay in and a few dollars per bale.

It was a hard life but Grandma Katie was a hard, tough women. Story goes that she picked cotton right up until she was in active labor with one of my great uncles. She then went into the house, birthed the baby, and was back out in the field before the sun was down. I remember her being mean and stern in the way that only a grandmother can. And I remember, she too had big thick legs and cankles.

In her later years, they would swell and become stiff. Her knees would become hard and refuse to work right. Her ankles would expand over the edges of her good church shoes.  Both those legs traveled many miles inches at a time to keep a roof overhead. They stood hours upon hours in front of hot stoves, frying every part of the chicken to feed the hungry mouths at the table. They bowed at the knee to give praise to her god, and jumped and jived to the out of tune gospel music her sister played at reunions. Those legs worked a sewing making to make clothes out of flour sacks. Those legs birthed a generation, and held the ones after. They were the legs and cankles of a goddess.

When I was around 10, while hanging out looking at his motorcycle, my maternal uncle grabbed my calf. He laughed when I yelled.

“You got them thick Grandmaw Katie legs.” He said, working his fingers into the thickness of my calf, something between a tickle and a pinch.

I was ashamed, feeling the weight of a what I thought was a male declaration of my unsightliness. I was a young girl, I wasn’t suppose to have old lady legs. I was suppose to be little and pretty. I was not.  I pulled myself out of the uncomfortable air that surrounded us then and went back inside. I remember at the time, not fully understanding why I felt so weird by his comments. It would take me years to unpack all the things from that day. And if I’m truthful, I’ll admit, some days I still carry that memory as part of my heavy mental load. The next time I saw him, and every time after, I made sure to wear full pants.

A lot of time has passed. So has that uncle. And now, after a life of  being ashamed,  I’m proud of these thick legs and these stout cankles. I get shit done with these things. I’ve birthed a generation of my own and spend everyday helping them become who they are. I work a modern sewing machine pedal with these chunky extremities, making clothes and bags out of fabric a little more expensive than flour sack fabric. I worship my gods and goddesses with these legs and feet, using them to walk under the moonlight.  These cankles are important. And while they might not fit in most conventional boot sizes, they are wonderful.

As much as they are mine, they also belong to those who came before.  They are one of the links to not just my ancestors, but their strengths as well. I can only hope that wherever they are, the women that came before me are pleased with the woman I turned out to be. Cotton picking cankles and all. 

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Low Class Witchcraft

One of those most daunting things about my recent belief voyage is feeling slightly outclassed.  Witchcraft, Wicca, the Mystical and the Occult, often have a flair for the dramatic. Candles and robes, crystals and essential oils, sliver ceremonial tool. Just so much stuff!  The practical side of me keeps considering the cost associated with all this. And after reading the Modern Girl, Mystical World book, I was feeling a little too low class to take part.

Let that sink in for a minute. I was feeling like I couldn’t commit to what my soul was calling me to do because of my socio-economic status. My family’s situation is better than some and less than others. We don’t face fears that we will go homeless or even hungry. But we do have three children. And as we all know, kiddos are expensive.   Because of this and my upbringing in cotton mill generational poverty, I don’t feel comfortable spending money on myself when I know there are other needs that need to be met. I also don’t think MFMW made me feel any better. Sorry, I can’t go on retreats to find my OM. Sorry, I can’t drop hundreds of dollars on supplies to do rituals to put me in touch with my gods and goddesses and,more importantly, myself. Designer shoes and crystals? Yeah dude, that ain’t happening.

While reading Witch by Lisa Lister (side note: I’m going to reread this wonderful book and bring you guys a review soon. It was so good!) I realized those things don’t really matter.  I didn’t need certain items to strengthen what I believe.  All I needed to do is awaken what was buried somewhere deep inside of me. The ideas of the kitchen witch and the granny witch resonated with my soul.  It’s that practical everyday magic that I feel drawn to. So, it’s what I’m going to focus on.

I come from a long line of women who did what they could with the little they had. If you think feeding a gaggle of people on a pound of beans ain’t magic, you’re mistaken.  If you can’t see that magic in keeping the house warm when you’re out of cut wood, you’re blind. And that ability to chase off the nightmares with nothing but some loving words and a silver coin? Pure magic. That’s what is inside of me. That’s what I need to remember. Having pretty robes and shiny tools won’t make one bit of difference if I don’t follow the path my feet know.

 

There is no wrong way to be a witch.

I’m going to wake up the part of me that remembers how.

Wake up witch, we got magic to do.batborder

 

Icy Roads

I live in the Southeastern United States. Winter, to us, is only a slight reprieve from oppressive damp heat and endless pollen. That being said, I have no idea how to drive on an icy road. If it’s icy, I retreat further into my home and refuse to venture out. I’m a horrible driver on a good day. So when the roads are compromised I’m extra dangerous. It’s not intentional, I’m just a bad driver. Winter weather just adds to my inability.

Sometimes though, you can’t avoid the icy roads. Sometimes you need to go out for milk, or toilet paper, or medicine. And sometimes the icy roads are not actually roads connecting geographic locations. Sometimes those icy roads are genetic paths that connect people.

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I’m on one of those roads right now. I’m revisiting a relationship I had put a Dead End sign on long ago. I’m realizing that so much of the narrative that played in my mind for all these years was not only seasoned by other people’s agendas, but was mostly hypothetical. I had created wars in my head where there were just misunderstandings. The mountains I made and were struggling to carry, actually might have been mole hills.

With that, I’m facing the hard realization that the people I backed never really were backing me. Imagine standing the the corner for someone’s fight only for them to use your battles to hype their own. Someone I thought was a wise and caring person is actually nothing more than a gaslighting soul leech. Narcissistic abuse comes in all shapes and sizes. I realize now that my naivete and gullibility lead me like breadcrumbs through the forest right to the door of a storybook villain.

There’s so much I need to reassess.  So many things I need to judge clearly on my own. So much to unpack.  While I do that, the cold stays and ice continue to form. This road isn’t getting any less clear.

For right now, I’m just trying to stay in my own lane.


Postface: This is not about my significant other. Mr. Conjure and Coffee and I are wonderful. batborder

 

Shoes, love, and footwashing.

At the end of last school year, a flyer was sent home with JoBean for a local Back to School Bash. The Bash was being sponsored by several local churches and small businesses. All those who registered and attended would be given a free pair of shoes, free school supplies, and treated to a hot dog dinner. I spent a day or two trying to decide whether to sign up. While sometimes we have financial struggles, we still do okay. I was worried that us signing up might take a spot away from someone who needed it more. I brought the issue up to my sister-in-law, and we discussed how missing out on opportunities because someone might need it more is detrimental. So I went online and sign JoBean up.

It’s been a while since I posted about the kids. As a refresher ,my lovely cast of characters includes:

  • JoBean– 9 year old boywonder. He’s hilarious but often short sighted. He loves video games, especially Minecraft.
  • D-Man- 4 year old gentle giant. He’s quiet and caring, but hates crowds and sharing. He loves everything JoBean loves
  • MarMar- soon to be 3 year old Queen Bee. She is sassy and playful and loves talking to people. She also loves shoes and animals.

School ended and summer began. We did summer things and soon the day of the Bash was upon us. On the drive over to the event, JoBean and I revisited a conversation we had many times before. We discussed how different people believe in different things. We talked about how most people in this area, and America for the most part, are Christians. He, like pretty much the whole of our family, doesn’t identify as such. He talked to me about what he believes in. I talked to him about what I believed in. He talked about how the other kids at school treated him and how sometimes, it wasn’t very nice. We both agreed that being a part of a religion doesn’t make you a good person or make you an asshole. It’s who you are at your core. I also really worked on him to understand how important it is to allow people to believe the way they want . We don’t have to agree on what we believe, but we should allow other people to believe it.

We arrived about 15 minutes before the start of the event. I snagged us a good parking spot and we took our place in line. A light rain began to fall while we waited. It was a nice reprieve from the temperatures we had endured during the summer. When the doors opened, they started allowing groups of fifteen to enter at a time. We were in the third group taken.

We went in and signed the entrance forms and were quickly directed to the shoe room. It was there that things took a turn. This was not just a find your size and style shoe event. It was a huge conference room filled with shoe boxes, sock boxes, and a row of people kneeling in front of wooden chairs washing children’s feet. Apparently something I had skipped in the initial sign up was that a major sponsor of this event was Samaritan’s Feet. Samaritan’s Feet is a Charlotte, NC based charitable organization that, in their words “serves & inspires hope in children by providing shoes as the foundation to a spiritual & healthy life…”. Part of their mission includes washing children’s feet, praying with them, and providing them with well fitting, brand new shoes.

And that’s what they were doing. It was a like a well oiled machine in that room. Some people were running back and forth finding correct sizes. Some people were wrist deep in soapy water, chatting up giggling kids. Others were power walking discarding and refilling bowl after bowl of water as children and their parents shuffled through the line. We collectively were a little taken aback. When it was JoBean’s turn, we, with both Littles in tow, were shown to a chair and met a very excited lady. She politely asked JoBean if he’d like his feet washed to which he politely declined. So instead of that, they spent a minute chatting about what he was looking forward to in the upcoming school year. While he was being fitted for shoes, another lady came over and offered to let the two little ones get shoes as well. I explained that they weren’t registered and wouldn’t be attending school for a while. She patted Miss MarMar on the head and said it didn’t matter and helped me show them to their chairs. While I buzzed around the three of them, I noticed the the lady with JoBean asked if she could pray for him and he said okay. Together they held hands and closed their eyes. I have to admit, even as a Pagan, this made my heart swell. She didn’t pray that he find God or any of the other backhanded prayers you could imagine. She prayed that he have a good year and had help when he needed it. Those prayers were not much different than the ones I had whispered to my own gods for him. After an honest hug which left me a little misty eyed, we collected the Littles and our brand new shoes and moved on to the next station.

There JoBean received a new backpack and a slew of supplies to fill it up. We ended our walk around the school supply rodeo with more hugs and giggles and some major excitement over brand new shoes. According to JoBean, his new shoes were both “boss” and “baller”. The light rain of the morning had turned into a full on summer rain storm, so we skipped the hot dog line and ran to our car. In stark contrast to the clouds in the sky, the spirits of everyone in the car were light and shining. Even after all the overstimulation, everyone was in an upbeat mood. I drove us home were we rushed in out of the rain for lunch.

This event was so important. All the kids had a chance to be exposed to a belief structure that was much different from their own. And it was in a positive way. They were able to see that just because we are different, doesn’t mean we have to be separated. Love is a connective fiber that runs through all of us. When we tap into it, and extend our share to others, the feelings we create are magical. No matter the name, love is magic. And love for our fellow man is the best magic of all.

Angela, Ascending

I remember sitting cross legged on the floor of the bookstore, running my fingers over the spines of the books on the bottom shelf. Tucked in the back corner of the small store, no one noticed the monumental moment that was about to happen. My pre teen brain was a storm of anxiousness and contentment.  Slowly I zeroed in on a purple covered book written by an author with a perfectly picked New Age-y pseudonym. I pulled the book from the shelf and my life was changed. A magical moment had just occurred.

I was in a mall in North Carolina and I was just about to purchase my first book on witchcraft.

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That book would not be the first time younger me had been pulled towards the nonconventional. I think I was born with one foot in and one foot out of this world. My dad would tell stories about how once I began to talk, I would tell him and my mother about the “Old Timey Days”, or my life before. I have no clear memory of these stories. Just a faint haze like a billboard passed at night.  According to my dad though, they were yarns that a preschool kid shouldn’t be able to think up. What I do remember, even back in those pre school days, is feeling like there was more to the world than what everyone else saw.

Religion was an odd thing in my home growing up. We didn’t go to church or practice anything really, but the idea of God was the ultimate rule. Like when I was 8 and wanted to get my ears pierced, the answer was “If God had wanted you to have holes in your ears, you’d been born with them.” This line of reasoning continued until I finally bit the bullet and got them done at 17.

I never could accept that idea. Christianity never sat right with me. Who was God and why was he the only one? Why did we have to perform by these certain rules to please him? What about all these stories in mythology and lore? Why can’t they be as true as the stories from the Bible? No matter who I asked, no one had answers for me. Most people told me I was wrong to even ask. So that’s when I turned to literature.

I was always checking out horror novels and collections of ghost stories. I read a lot as a kid. I had some physical ailments that, at least in my mother’s eyes, limited what I could do. So that kept my nose in a book. It was in those worlds that I found things to believe in. The gray ghost of the Carolina coast, the poor women who were burned at the stake in Salem, the shamans and medicine men that were here before us white folk landed. Those were things I had faith in. The supernatural became something I found, well, natural. 

That belief never left. I grew up as the weird kid. Now I’m the weird mom. But lately, this weird mom has been feeling dimmed, forgotten, and overworked. It’s the classic caregiver’s problem. You give so much of yourself, you don’t have any left over.  I let my interest in the supernatural and paranormal wane so I could focus on dinners and school, milestones, and laundry. I gave up my magic. And I’ve been struggling without it. 

I want to capture some of that feeling from the bookstore again. After getting my wake up call from the Universe, I’m ready to go explore. I’m ready to re-embrace what for so long has made who I really and truly am.  

It’s time to ascend. And that’s just what I’m going to do.

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Power Outages

Some people say that when you are open to it, the Universe guides you. That it gives you gifts, like a mama cat leaving a half dead mouse on your pillow. It knows you need the nourishment, but even more so, that you need the experience.  The limitations of my experiences kept me for totally agreeing that was gospel. I think too much, second guess myself too often. And that’s clogged up my ability to see and review these gifts from the Universe. That is until this happened. This chain linked series of events opened my eyes and showed me that, if you pay attention sometimes you get just what you need to be laid right out in front of you.

In the early hours of a Tuesday morning, some unlucky bastard ran his car off the road and into a tree. The driver was fine, but the tree was not. It had found itself a brand new home by crashing into a substation that supplied power to a large section of this small town. That power outage split the lumbering county in half. The northern half had power, while those to the south were without.

It was on that Tuesday morning I had an appointment out in the southeastern part of town. I don’t follow local news so I had no idea there was a widespread power outage. My only concern was getting two kids into a car and being able to make an 8:45 am appointment. Ever try to get two kids under the age of 5 ready and out the door in a quick and timely manner? Yeah, it’s about as easy as tying snakes in knots. Somehow, we all ended up where we needed to be with ten minutes to spare. It was then that we caught up with local events.

“M’am, we ain’t got any power. You’re gonna have to call and reschedule.” A very exasperated lady standing in a darkened door hollered at me across the parking lot.

Seat belts were buckled and kid tears were shed. Apparently, not being able to go into the darkened unairconditioned building was heartbreaking. I pulled out of the parking lot only slightly more annoyed than I should have been and started home.

I passed the DMV, giving them a mental middle finger for making me wait the last time I was in there half a year before. I passed the consignment shop that had a mouse problem last time I had visited. I passed the yellow house with the little yellow well house out front that I’ve loved since I was a kid. I slowed down after that house because the new police station was just up ahead, right past the fabrication shop that was owned by one of my distant cousins. More specifically, my dad’s uncle’s son.

And there, sitting on the tailgate of a blue S-10 was my father.

Here is the part where I tell you that I’m not on best terms with my biological family. I’ll explain it all later, but remember Cinderella? Well, instead of an evil Stepmother and stepsisters, I had an evil Mother and a father who was on his third marriage and was getting close to his fifties when I was born. When I married my husband, the ties were severed. After a few tries, I realized that my mother just wasn’t good for my mental health. The drawback was that cutting her out, cut him out too. I’ve never fully recovered from that.

So to see him, after all these years, just sitting there talking smack with the fellas caught my breath in my throat. The decision was easy. I was there. I had a block of time suddenly empty. Without turning on my blinker, I gave in to the message the Universe was sending me. I turned into the gravel parking lot and got out of the car.

Two minutes later, I was wrapped in my father’s arms.

I want to tie this back to my original point. Because of a series of unfortunate events, I got to see my father. It was exactly what I needed. The Universe gift wrapped an experience just for me. And by not second guessing it, I received two things. One was a salve on a decade old wound. And the other was the first step of a relationship with something greater than myself.

I’m listening Universe. You don’t have to knock out the power to get my attention again. 

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Life, Death, and pictures on the Internet

The internet is a weird thing.

At it’s core, its a bunch of zeros and ones, arranged together in sequence, making something out of nothing. I can’t really explain how it all works. It’s all way beyond my realm of understanding. What I do know about the internet though, is that it can bring people together.

Let’s start at the beginning.

Half a million years ago, you know when Myspace was popular, I was a brand new adult discovering the world of body acceptance. I had always been the “ugly fat” girl. My mother started me on the path and the kids at school picked it up and ran. I never had good feelings about my body or my looks.  So after marrying my husband and having my first child, I realized, maybe that’s not who I was. Maybe , you know, I actually might be pretty. Somehow, I stumbled upon the world of online modeling. There was a site that was for plus size pin ups. I knew as soon as I saw the website and the ladies featured I wanted to be part of it. Luckily enough, after applying, I was accepted. And it was so much fun. It help bolstered my self love and helped me unveil my sexuality. More importantly, it gave me a wonderful group of lady friends. The type of friends I never really knew existed.

Friendships never were my strong point. When you’re raised by a paranoid narcissistic, you learn that the basic set up of the world is  “Us vs THEM”. If you weren’t genetically related to us (and sometimes if you were), if you disagreed with us (and sometimes if you didn’t), if you did better than us (or if you did worse) you were in the THEM camp. This fucked up mentality stuck with me until I clicked with these wonder women online. We were all different, but we were all the same too. We disagreed on somethings, and agreed on others. We walked different paths with different steps, but were still able to hold hands. The feelings of love and support was new and amazing and, I’m not shitting you here, changed my life.

As it does, time moved on. We all did our own thing and Myspace died at the murderous hands of Facebook. Our group of friends faced real life challenges and adventures. Marriages, divorces, births, deaths, relocations, and stagnations. We drifted then found each other. We lived our lives. We shared our stories. We loved each other.

Recently, one of my close lady friends from that group passed away. We were never able to met in person and, as the good ole Southern phrase goes, hug each others neck. But we were close. She watched my babies become kids, I watched her kids become men. We laughed, we cried, we lived. We exchanged letters and stories, gifts for the kids. We swapped clothes. We were sisters. And it was and will forever be on the of most important relationships of my life.

So here’s to my favorite pirate mama. Way the wind always blow you to where you need to go. We’re going to meet again and when we do, I’m going to hug you for a good long while. Thank you for showing me and my scallawags a love we didnt know existed. You helped teach me that a true family is the one you make for yourself. You were a beautiful radiant star that blessed us all. You helped make me a better person. I will always hold you in my heart and take you with me on my travels.

Rest easy, beautiful. You are so loved.

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