Grocery Store Talk

Before we get to the main attraction, a little State of The Union type update (minus that insanely annoying Cheeto colored man)

Oh Dear Readers, where oh where have I been?

Here. I’ve been here. Stuck in the same muck that has rendered me as creative as a white crayon on a white piece of paper. The first two months of 2019 have stunk. It’s like a holdover from whatever sticky spiritual substance made the end of 2018 feel like cement has seeped into the first few months of this year. It’s like a hangover that just won’t quit, no matter how many cheeseburgers and aspirin you have.  It doesn’t help that it’s rained almost every single day and I feel like I haven’t seen the sun in half a damn year. The brief time I spent in the Pacific Northwest had more sunshine than we’ve had recently.

I’m still taking my antidepressants if you are curious, and I guess they are still working. I can not fathom how hard life would be right now without them. I’m guessing without them, instead of just feeling uninspired and stressed, I would be crumbling and ruined either always or never asleep. For now, I’m functional, I’m performing, and no one is writing complaints about my behavior anywhere yet. So there’s that?

I’ll take small victories where I can find them.

Now, as they say, on to the show.

I was at my local grocery store ending a quick toilet paper and energy drink run when I pulled my cart towards the checkout lanes. It was Sunday morning and the church crowd was just starting to get out. And by that I mean, the old ladies with their hair all set were just starting to bum rush the store.

I made a quick pick as to which lane I was going to take and skirted my cart to the 12 Items or less line.  Which just so happened to be headed by a cashier I knew in that small town kinda-sorta way. I’d gone through his line a few times and made random chit chat with him about random shit before. The last time it was about Adventure Time and how awesome and not okay we are with the show ending. (How did that conversation even begin, you ask? Well, I have an Adventure Time purse. And a daughter named Marceline.) He is a cool dude and always good for a laugh. A stranger that makes an everyday occurrence a little more fun.

That day was no different. I placed my items, more than just the TP and energy drinks of course, on the belt and waited my turn. As the customer in front of finished up, I greeted Cashier Dude with a smile. We passed pleasantries back and forth while he scanned my first few items. Then he asked if I’d like my ideas packed in my bag or the store’s plastics. Having only brought in my purse I was caught off guard and responded with a “Wait, what?” Seeing as how the purse I carry (which was a wonderful gift from an even more wonderful friend) is big enough to haul groceries in, the confusion was easy to understand. We shared a laugh over the humor in carrying Italian sausages in your purse and my admittance that I was going to be thinking of that for the rest of the day. It was a lighthearted fun interaction that made a mundane task a little bit better.

Then, while I was looking for that one specific plastic tab on my keyring full of plastic tabs to scan for some sweet discounts, it happens. Cashier Dude looks at me while doing the international hand sign for necklace and says,

“I like your..” and then a pause..”…um. Hey, are you Wiccan?”

Of all the questions in all the grocery stores in the world, that was not the one I was betting on having asked of me.

But you best believe I was going to answer it. Right after I remembered what necklace I was wearing. It’s such a normal thing for me, I kind of forget it’s there. But around my neck, I wear a necklace with a pendant that was a gift from my #bestwitchforlife and a small silver pentacle. So when my fingers got to my necklace I realized exactly why he was asking.

“Nah, I’m Pagan. Wicca is just not my thing. It’s not for me.”

And here is where the worry kicked in. While I am truthful in my beliefs, I do not want to be disrespectful to others. We have enough heat from God’s crowd. We don’t need infighting and wand measuring. So, going by my intuition I knew that Cashier Dude had some stake in The Craft, but I didn’t know exactly how he took his tea if you get my drift. And while Wicca really is NOT the shoe that fits me, it could have been for him. So my feelings on what I see as faults in Wicca were not to be discussed there in the fluorescent-lit grocery store.

Cashier Dude chuckled and responded with a knowing nod and said, “Yeah, Wicca is  like that.” Then we shared one of those looks that translates roughly into “Shits cray, right?”

Before we could delve deeper into the conversation, the card reader started telling me that it had read my card and prompted me for my PIN. Then he was handing me a receipt. He thanked me for shopping, I thanked him for cashiering and we wished each other a great day. And off into the rainy day I went. With smiles all around, the moment was over.

But it stuck with me. First because in this area, there’s not much conversation about religion that isn’t about the Christian God. The last time I was asked about religion at that store it was by a Jevohah’s Witness. (Who was such a sweet lady!) The time before it was by a Church of God fellow (Who was also a very sweet person!) My point is, this is the Bible Belt. Christianity is THICK here. We have more churches than schools and although their flavors are different, they all have the same main ingredient. And like the lactose that keeps me from being able to enjoy all the flavors of ice cream, it’s the one that keeps me away. It’s not my jam, it ain’t my thing, I want none of it even though its everywhere and on everything. Not saying that I hold it against anyone that does. Everyone is free to practice what they want. It’s just the predominant religion and lifestyle here.

Second, to have someone agree that maaaybe Wicca isn’t the end all be all of the Pagan experience is a home run in my book. Once again, I am not trying to drag Wicca through the mud. But still, having someone agree that the Rule of 3 Ain’t For Me feels good when for a long time you’ve been feeling like the odd kid out. I’ve tried Wicca and while there are things from it I do like, I just can not see myself as following that path. Which is why I always try to vet the classes that are offered in the workshops and meetups in the area. While we can always learn from each other, there are some things I’d rather not have to unlearn.

Also, just having someone to talk to about it, in person, is nice. Even if it was a brief, it was nice. So many of my witchy, Pagan friends are online (Hell, most of my adult friends are online). Being able to talk about beliefs aloud without getting the condemnation to Hell talk immediately was more powerful than the contents of the energy drink I purchased. Especially right now. I’m kind of treading water in my day to day life, if you can’t tell. So for the Universe/Goddess/Whatever to drop this moment of  “HEY YO!” on me out of the blue was nice. It was a little wake up to remember what is important in all the bullshit and not forget it.

And to top it off, the whole encounter got me to sit down and write this all out for you Dear Readers. So for that alone, it was worth it.

We never know when these chance encounters are going to change our lives. That is why we have to be open. That is why we have to allow ourselves to be aware. And that is why we, above all, have to listen. Trust me when I say, living in the middle of your own isolation and worry will add to both.

Ever on, Dear Readers, ever on. Let’s enjoy the journey and try to experience life. And above all, let’s not forget what’s important. (And don’t worry, I’ll be holding myself to these standards too.)


Magickal in the Practical: Storm Water

As of the date of this writing, the Mid Atlantic states are preparing for what could be a catastrophic hurricane. Florence is scheduled to hit later this week with winds in the 140+ mph range. Since flooding and damaging winds are almost a certainty, some coastal areas in North and South Carolina are being evacuated. Interstate 26 east, the artery of traffic that takes you from Columbia SC to Charleston SC, closed early Tuesday to allow for the reversal of lanes to expedite in process. That’s how serious this is.

41471183_2340652892631309_8936067771616198656_n

Hurricane Florence

I live in South Carolina. I’m about 2 and half hours from the coast, so we are pretty far inland. Basically, if you look at a map of both of the Carolinas and go about a half of pinky fingernail south from Charlotte, NC that’s where I am.

hurricane

However, the forecast for my area is still warning of potential flooding and damaging winds. Like all things, forecasts change. We could see nothing but drizzle from this storm. Or like Hurricane Hugo in 1989, we could get swapped and be without power for days. Mother Nature works in mysterious ways.

Since it’s looking like we are going to get enough rain over the next week to end the slight drought we’ve been in, I figured this would be a great time to talk about magickal uses for Stormwater.

Storm water, simply, is the rain collected during a storm. It sounds simple enough. Put a jar or bucket outside during a rainstorm and gather the water. Or build a system of pipes to collect the runoff from your house. Either way the how is not the biggest part. The what and the why are.

As a side note, some States do have laws that restrict the collection of rainwater. I don’t think anyone is going to bust you for a few Mason jars worth of rain, but it might be wise to check with the laws in your area.

Different types of storms produce different types of storm water. Each type of storm water has its own usage.

There are typically three types of storm water: calm water, thunderstorm water, and fierce water. Below are explanations and uses for each other.

Calm Water

“All I can say is that my life is pretty plain, I like watching the puddles gather rain.”

Calm water comes from those showers that come in easy and leave the same way. The nourishment from these pleasant interludes of rainfall keeps the green things green and the soil moist. This is the same type of water that lulls us to sleep on a rainy night. Just as it is in the physical world, in Magick calm water works the same way. This water is best used when your work needs calming energy. It can be used to ease emotional issues, encourage peaceful sleep, and to stimulate growth. I personally collect water every time there’s an easy storm and use it to water my indoor plants with.

Thunderstorms

“Lightning crashes and a new mother cries”

Thunderstorms typically straddle the line because beautiful and terrifying. Ranging in intensity from low rumbles to sound so loud that your heart skips a beat storm water from a thunderstorm can add an extra boost of energy to any work you are trying to do. The power boost of being from a thunderstorm can aid in protection work. It’s good whenever you need a powerful boost and a neutral energy.

Fierce Water

“Am I the calm or the hurricane?”

Falling from the angriest and most powerful of skies, the water from tornados and hurricanes is fierce water. It’s powerful water. In it is the displacement of so much energy and motion that it’s perfect for darker, left hand magick. (Save your fluffy judgment. It’s all about balance, baby). If your work involves breaking or asserting control this is the storm water to use. If you are looking for extra power to break or cause (once again, the right and left hands work together) manipulation and/or confusion, fierce water can be used.

border11

Storing storm water is easy. The stereotype that witches love jars is funny because it’s often true. After collecting your storm water, you can keep it in any of your favorite jars. You can even keep it in plastic jugs if that’s all you have. I personally have an overabundance of glass spaghetti jars. That’s what I often use.

Because storm water is so powerful, you don’t need to use a lot at one time. A little bit will do what you need to do usually. So what you have on hand will last for a long while.

While storm water is one of the easiest things to harvest, it can also be one of the most powerful. The power that lies within Nature and the elements is so strong and wonderful that harnessing it only makes sense. Appreciate the power in storm water and use it wisely.

Lyrics quoted:
“No Rain” by Blind Melon
“Lightning Crashes” by Live
“House on Fire” by Rise Against

“But You Know It’s Fake,Right?”

Childhood, Pro Wrestling, and Being a Mark

Back before “sports entertainment” was a thing, my dad ran an independent wrestling company. Think less Vince McMahon and more flea market Jim Cornette.

He’d book shows in high school gyms, bingo halls, auction barns, basically anywhere that had space for a 16x16ft ring.  Because of that, I spent the first five summers of my life stuffed between my parents in a late 70s Chevy Silverado. This was a time before mandatory child seats, seat belts, and common safety knowledge. We travelled the Carolinas, towing behind us a trailer full of wood and metal. The bed of the truck was full of mats and turnbuckles, 12 packs of Natural Lite and multicolour cable ropes.  At our feet were empty Salem cigarette boxes, beer cans, and a black belt with a big metal plate.

We’d arrive at an empty building around midday and my dad and his motley crew of weekend performers would go to work setting the ring up. I would sit on the bleachers, a few toys in hand and watch the men strain and swear and finally turn a pile of random junk into the fabled squared circle. I’d try to stick around and watch them do run-throughs of the matches but usually, I’d be swept off by my mother to come sit with her and the other women in the concessions area. More often than not, I’d sneak off to go hang out with my dad and the other menfolk, getting ready for that night’s show. It was there I was schooled in the secrets of the business.

Wrestling_ring

One of the secrets of wrestling is that there are these things called “works”. A “work” is when you get over on a crowd. It’s the act of getting people to suspend disbelief long enough to become emotionally invested in what you’re doing. It’s a grown-up version of playing pretend.  As an example; On April 27th, 1991 during the peak of a white-hot feud, Earthquake (Whose real name was John Tenta. He was billed as 6’7ft 486 lbs) crushed a bag that held Jake “The Snake” Roberts pet python Damien. Damien had been Roberts’ sidekick and was a character in his own right. When Earthquake “crushed” his bag, the crowd went wild. Those fans that lost their minds and completely bought into the story are known as “marks”. With Roberts tied up in the rings, he was unable to do anything but watch this huge mountain of a man crush his pet and only friend presumably to death. Roberts work is some of the best ever to grace the inside of a ring, and that night he was on point. His face full of despair, he yelled and screamed for Earthquake to stop, for it to all not be true. In reality, it wasn’t true. The snake was never in any danger and Jake Roberts didn’t watch his only friend die. The role of Damien that night was played by ground meat shoved inside a pair of pantyhose.

Too many times I was hauled away from the wrestlers and forced to sit still and be quiet in some boring corner, far away from the banging of bodies on the mat and counts of three. In those moments when dad and the crew overruled my mother, I was the official gopher for the night. I’d run the lengths of the gym, hauling beer, towels, cups of water to the guys in the back.  Before the main event, I would usually be out of sight, asleep in the truck far away from the crowd. Wrestling was a constant in my life, and I loved every bit of it.

Growing up in the Carolinas it was kind of hard not to be surrounded by the sport. The closest major city to my little backwoods hometown was not only the home of Jim Crockett Promotions (which would be sold to Ted Turner in the late 80s and become World Championship Wrestling) but also the home to one of the biggest names in wrestling, The Nature Boy Ric Flair.

Ric_Flair_in_Seoul,_South_Korea

Arrogant and flamboyant,  confident and animated, Ric Flair was, and still is, pro wrestling. From his expensive shoes to his bedazzled and feathered robes, he was the icon for the sport. His theatrics, his ability to tell a story not only with his passionate speaking/screaming but also his body set the bar for how a professional wrestler should perform. In my eyes, he and the men he faced in the ring were more than human. They were like the Greek gods. But with championship belts and American accents.

And that’s what the allure of pro wrestling is. It’s men who look like superheroes acting out comic book storylines live and in person. It’s bigger than life characters taking part in beautifully violent choreographed battles. Good guys versus bad guys, babyfaces versus heels, heroes versus villains, add some beautiful ladies and it’s the male equivalent of a daytime soap opera. But with way more punching than kissing.

Sadly, a real-world workplace injury brought our wrestling adventures to an end not long after I turned six. The ring was broken apart and not put back together. It’s corner post used in the fencing for our merger herd of cattle. The hefty Silverado replaced with a smaller truck. The walls of my dad workshop stopped getting promotional poster stapled to them. It was over.

But my love for professional wrestling continued on.

It wasn’t until middle school that my love for pro wrestling, or as the regional accent in my head says “rasslin'”, became socially acceptable. But still, it wasn’t something that many girls my age were into. Along with my ill-fitting boys pants and at home butcherblock haircuts, my excitement for wrestling set me further apart from my female peers. Nevertheless, I was enthralled. What I lacked in a social life, I made up for with being a wrestling fan. No matter how many times my interest was discouraged with “But you know it’s fake, right?” I continued on.

High school and college came after and with them, more adult responsibilities than I should have had to take on. The schedule I was keeping kept me away from the TV for most of the week. Still, when I could, I would sit down Monday and Thursday nights and watch wrestling with my dad. Like keeping up with the Atlanta Braves, wrestling was how we bonded. I’d watch the spectacle of The Undertaker, Stone Cold Steve Austin, and DX with glee. My dad, in typical grumpy old man fashion, would complain about how wrestling had “gone to hell” and was nothing more than “a bunch of hogwash”. With the space between us filling up with more and more things, it became our last avenue for connectedness.

But like all storylines, that too would end.

The day of my courthouse wedding, it was a disagreement centred on the name of his old promotion that kept my dad from coming to witness the event. Someone had decided to use something close enough to his promotion’s name and he felt slighted they hadn’t consulted with him first.  At least, that’s the story that hurts the least to believe. If I can believe he missed my wedding for something he gave numerous years of commitment to, it really doesn’t seem like that big of a deal.

After all, I know what a work is. And I’m a big enough mark to believe it.

BBBBBB

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.

Screenshot_2017-12-07-11-44-38-01

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. 

BBBBBB