Thursday, April 29, 2010

Full Moon in Scorpio

Lovely full moon time again - with Mercury a wee bit retrograde, across the sky in Taurus.

This afternoon, the sun 'in the sky' will be trine my natal sun - about which, my favorite astrology site says: "you experience a time of balance and equilibrium in your life, when you can be yourself with the fewest obstacles from people or circumstances. Various affairs in your life will hum along very nicely now, and you may be tempted to think that they will always go this well. But in fact this is the time to firm up your affairs and make sure that they are strong enough to withstand troubles that may come later on."

The sun will be in my 8th house for several weeks: "You will have a strong desire to experience life on a feeling level, and this is just what you need. One very real possibility at this time is that an encounter with someone will produce the need for very searching psychological self-inquiry or will force very powerful changes in your life. This person may challenge your value structure, or there may be a powerful intermeshing of your personalities."

Years ago, one of my friends showed me the back of her chart, where another astrologer had marked these sun transits, when the sun 'in the sky' would enter each of the 12 houses of the natal chart (marked from the time of day you were born) & the emphasis of that month! I recall being intrigued at the time, & observing times this monthly overlay was particularly 'acurate.'

If you do know the time & place you were born, Astro is a fun site to peruse. You can calculate charts simply by entering the data (if you sign up, you can 'store' unlimited data at no charge; anyone can do a few charts) here's an overview of what they offer. Even without any knowledge of Astrology, you can use the 'astro click portrait' feature to click on lines & symbols of your (or someone else's) chart, & get a basic overview.

Of course it's more fun to have an actual reading with a real person!! But this is a good way to familiarize yourself with the lingo, & some of the basic information.

Things to look for: what elements are your planets in?? Esp Sun, Moon, & the Ascendent (horizon line - the left side) Where are Mercury (how you think/process info) Venus (female energy, often how the world 'sees' a woman, what kind of woman a man is attracted to) & Mars (male/active energy - how a man is viewed, & in a woman's chart - the kind of man she's attracted to). While I'm a Virgo, my Venus is in Leo, a more vibrant & 'center stage' energy. Folks are often surprised to find that I'm a Virg0, 'you're not like the other Virgos I know!'
Venus & Mercury travel close to the sun, so will be in the same sign, one ahead or one behind the sun - so this is actually a fairly common placement.
'High' manifestation of Leo energy (my Venus) is both the ability to be 'center stage' oneself, AND to encourage others to be comfortable in the limelight. (low side is to want to be there all the time oneself - combine that with being an only child; make sure you NOTICE me!! - esp when I was a kid! Now I more easily manifest 'high Leo' energy.
Each planet & sign has these 'high/low' offerings, the trick is to learn how to use the energy well.

The site has several tutorials, so you can learn a lot just poking around :)

Ooo, look to the right; I just added the current planet positions on the Vale's sidebar!! > > >

Enjoy the moon, your day, & tra la, tis almost MAY!!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Sacred Geometry

Several years ago, before moving into my current home, I had a phone consultation with a psychic. Her suggestions included 'anchoring' my home space by placing a small crystal (individual or small cluster) at each corner of the house, & I did that (clear quartz & amethyst).

I've used various clearing techniques for my home & land since the late 80s, & this felt harmonious. I enjoy doing little things like this that feel 'happy.'
In the mid 90s, I studied Lightwork with Amorah Quan Yin, & played my harp to help set the 'Dolphin Star Temple' energy daily during the month long workshop. Amorah comments: "There are numerous mystery school systems on Earth now & (have been) in the past. I just happen to be a dreamer/channel/anchor for one of these. Each system has equal beauty."

Dim memories of living & swimming in warm water oceans & an affinity for 'the blue place' attracted me to Amorah's teachings, & the term 'star temple' has its own sweet resonance. Toward the end of one particularly intense session (the 25+ students worked in small groups & we were clearing 'contracts' on the etheric level) I'd begun playing my harp. A friend told me that the music had really anchored the Star Temple 'as soon as you began playing.' (I also send Reiki with my music.)

Recently I've thought about that anchoring, both for a personal space/home, & for places folks gather intentionally (& it feels appopriate) - placing the corner - stones & others at the midpoints of each wall - but out 3 or 4' (or at the lot line).

My daughter & her family will soon move across town, & we talked about each of the 4 family members choosing an 'outer' stone (by their Astrological element - N by Earth (Taurus), E by Air (Aquarius), S by the youngest (also an Earth sign - S is fire, summer, play) & W by Water (Scorpio).

A newly opened center in downtown Mac has a sweet selection of ~ 1/2 " stones that range from 2/ $1 to $1.50, these are the ones I picked up Saturday. I plan to take the girls in to choose stones for their new home! I thought the 'dalmation jasper' would be nice on the front corners of the house, the pink agate for the back corners (these were each 2/$1 :)

Apache Tears: good luck, tapping 'what is
Blue Lace Agate - communitly, clarity, loyalty, trust
Botswana Pink Agate: stabilize, strengthen
Chiastolite (cross stone) creative, practical, solve problems, Insight, Soul Purpose
Dalmation Jasper (2: for the front entrance - either side) protect, nurture, absorb, cleanse
Lepitolite: Rebirth, lighten heart, elevate moods
Nephrite Jade: steady, good luck
Sodalite: heal emotions, relax, de-stress
Unakite: dissolve past blocks, move into present

I also intend to place 'outer stones' at my house - loved the times I lived in a yurt (round) & later in an octagon - fun to think outside the box.

Off to work!! Had a LOVELY quick 'recharge' trip to the beach Sunday with my daughter & her girls - 66* & sunny - with no wind!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Tax Time Again

Here it is, April 15 . . . got the taxes off (yes, I put them off - a-g-a-i-n!!)

It's funny, it really doesn't take me that long to go through my paperwork & get the figures sorted out & down - why do I put it off?? Mmm could it be because I know I'll have to pay?

& despite my resolve, I only paid the first quarter's estimates last year - I sent those off again with my payment, & broke down the quarter into each month's contribution - will post that somewhere at my office - maybe in my the change & credit card slip bag in my drawer! (it's funny - April, June, Sept & Jan don't quite seem like 'quarterly') Also the amount I want to contribute to my IRA.

Last year I was busier the first & last months of the year, & business really does seem to have picked up a bit. On the 14th, I did a bit of 'first aide' chair massage at the tax office where my gal friend works - much appreciated! She & I plan to have lunch tomorrow, celebration time! Our Red Hat group is going to a tea room that wasn't interested in working with me to find GF options 'Everything we make has gluten!' . . . 'we don't serve salads' (well then, thanks!)

Last week my daughter & I attended a fascinating talk on Mental Health & food intollerances, with a focus on gluten sensitivity. Gluten Free RN was the main speaker, she discovered her own sensitivities 4 years ago, when her health had seriously deteriorated, & she felt she was on death's door. I esp. enjoyed her description of having 'Polish Potato Picker Legs' which had developed pitting edema - at 40! Yikes! She's lost 35 # in the 4 years since, & we were both wearing 'skinny jeans!'
She's a great local resource, attending our GIG, Gluten Free Friends' monthly meetings, & offering insight.
She had been an ER Trauma nurse, & on her site, comments: " I have been an ER nurse for 16 years, I saw multiple doctors, and still could not figure out what was killing me.
"Within 2 weeks of being on a gluten-free diet, I felt much better! By February 2007, I started RN On Call, my own business. In March 2007, I became a gluten intolerance/cel
iac disease educator.
"I can save more people with this information than I ever could have saved in the emergency department."

She's also on Facebook; as is celiac nurse, who has a great 12 part series with information about many of the ways gluten sensitivity can manifest. Both these great ladies are on Facebook, too:)

My daughter-in law & her two kids are spending the night - she works with the 'horse vet' from a local clinic, & will be riding on 'rounds' with her tomorrow. My son has an early job (at Nike) so will come over about the time she leaves, as I have an AM massage to give. It's fun to have them here - they had a grand time running around with their cousins!

My daughter's kids are in the middle, my son's on the outside - 6, 10, 5 & 4 years old! (can you see the ballet influence? :)
I fed them free range chicken, mixed grains, & greens from the garden with root veggies from my CSA share. They put the sun to sleep, staying out till the last possible moment!
Now they're all tucked in & sound asleep.
My daughters girls are back home, across the fence, sigh. Next month they'll be moving across town! It's good, their house is way small, & the new one is the same style, 50s with hardwood floors, etc; only 2 owners before them! & on a double lot! With veggie garden already in place . . . still . . .

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Calling all dancers

So here's a new development.

Last fall I decided to take Square Dance lessons at our local Grange, which you can read about here. I began taking the lessons so I could attend our dances, 1st & 3rd Saturdays, & have a chance to do Round Dance, which alternates with the 'squares.'
I'd attended one dance before taking lessons, got hauled into a square ("It's easy - you can do it" . . . then they called out: "NEW DANCER - NEW DANCER" when it got too complicated, & Leonard came down with his cordless mike, & moved through the square behind me, guiding me through it - whew!!)
It does get easier each time I attend a dance, but I'm still not great at it! & it surprises other dancers when they find out that I 'round dance,' (which I am pretty good at!) Many dancers begin with the squares, & later study round ('choreographed ballroom').

You'll remember that my college roommate, Charlotte, began calling shortly after begining to square dance, back in the 80s while I was donning leotards & point shoes. She took a break for the last few years, while finishing up her PhD; & recently, she decided to begin calling again!! YEA! I've tagged along to dances with other folks from the club, or with our 'cuer' Jackie & her husband, getting to one or two dances most weeks through Feb & March - Char & Bill have been at several of them.

A few weeks ago I called Char to see if they were going to a dance at the 'Square Dance Center' in Salem, & they were. Then she sprang her idea - that she wanted to put together a woman's 'singing group' to SING (& call) at square dances. Sounded rather harmless - would I like to be one of the gals?? Sure, why not! (thinking she & Sandy, already callers, would focus on the 'calling' part . . . )

At the dance, she talked to Jackie, & invited her as well. Now 'cuers' choreograph the ballroom 'round' dances - partners move down the line of dance in a circle, just like regular ballroom, and are given the moves just before executing them. Cuers 'speak' the moves, rather than singing them - so while Jackie has a rep of cues, she's as new to calling as I am - & it's a whole new world! (callers generally alternate between 'patter' - which sounds like an auctioneer, & 'singing' calls, where they sing the instructions, & parts of the verse of the song)

Monday, having sent numerous e-mails back & forth, we met at Sandy's house in Albany (like Char, she's been calling for a number of years), & surrounded by her computer, mikes, amps, (& lots of square dance outfits) . . . began to listen to music, & tried to both sing the lyrics AND alternate calling the tip!!
YIKES - I said "Yes" to THIS?? . . .
For THREE HOURS we sang & tried to make sense of it!
And when we left, they told us they thought it went pretty well (kind words . . . .

As new as I am to square dance, I'm even more a neophyte when it comes to trying to 'call!' The eventual goal is for us to rotate singing the call between the four of us. . . . um, what's the pattern??
While Sandy has over 400 songs on her computer,
Char's are still on vinyl, & she's slowly entering them into her computer (Jackie knows how to do that) We hauled out Sandy's old turntable, & switched the mike cords to sing along with several of the records.

So today Jackie & I met for an hour, listening to & singing along with the songs Sandy recorded for us, with the calls written out. Jackie had an e-mail from Sandy clarifying the pattern flow, so that now makes more sense. (I followed some of this from dancing it, & being aware of patterns in music & dance, but hadn't broken it down as precisely as this!)

- first there's an 'opening,' where you dance with your partner
then the figure, where you do a pattern with your partner, & move to your corner (the guy to your left), then a second 'figure' (usually the same pattern) moving to the fellow 'across' from where you began.
Next, the 'break' where you dance with that 'opposite' guy - (this may be the same as the opening, or a separate sequence)
Now two more 'figure' patterns, moving to the next two dancers;
& finally the 'ending' when you're back with your original partner.

So a, b, b, c, b, b, d (a, c & d can all be the same - or slightly different; & you can vary the b parts a bit)
In our 'Plus' lessons, Leonard will often give the number of beats that each of the more complicated patterns should last, & I had 'gotten' the general pattern of moving counter clockwise around the square, dancing with each guy in turn (if I don't get lost somewhere in the pattern!) He often refers to 'Caller Lab' for the precise wording; this org. standardizes calls, & give a lot of support to the callers. (I've begun spending time on this site as well.)

So we worked on talking/singing the call pattern & verses on most of the songs - & came out pretty well on most of them! Sandy also made copies of Char's cue cards for us- with several call patterns in 'shorthand'
sq -- square through
p -- pass through
sw /prom swing & promenade
T by Trade by
S F G Sq Sides Face, grand square (this is a longer pattern, so a chance to sing the words of the song you're using)

Then there are all the 'cute' ways to say it: 'swing your pretty girl, & promenade home . . . '
'all the dishwashers promenade inside that old ring, come back & swing your own'

I've spent a bit of time on a favorite site that has animations of the patterns. I know that Char & our caller, Leonard, both took lessons in calling when they began - we sure could use some! For the time being, I'll pay more attention to the patterns when I'm sitting out at the dances this weekend (Milwaukie Sat PM, & Lebanon Sun afternoon)
Dance is supposed to be one of the things that helps us stay young . . . did I think when I began learning Square Dance last fall that I'd be learning to call in the spring??

I pulled a fairy card (Magical Messages from the Fairies / Doreen Virtue) & got Travel (well - that's for sure!!) "An upcoming trip proves to be life-changing in positive ways. You'll soon be traveling to an important destination where you'll learn & grow through new experiences & discoveries. Ask the fairies to help you with the finances & details; most of all, enjoy yourself on your journeys!" (I did sign up for a dance camp weekend at the end of April, Leonard & Jackie will be calling/cueing Fri, & different folks on Sat; & our hostess promised to as the food folks about GF options)

I'll keep you posted!
What projects are on your plate this spring?

Friday, April 2, 2010

happy Eostre (Goddess of the Divine Female)

& happy April!
Busy busy week - lots of sessions, consutations for playing harp at TWO weddings (one mid April, one on Summer Solstice - what a sweet way to spend Solstice!)
Yesterday I was watching my granddaughters so their folks could have a 'Date' & the oldest (gotta love her) asked 'can we make some Kefir?' She'd just had some to drink, & had figured out that I made it - sure!!! I've been making it for just over a month now, & drink almost a quart of the (coconut) milk kefir daily. (here are the first Kefir posts)

So they helped open the can of coconut milk, strain the kefir from the day before (we began with scooping some of the culture out with a spoon, then ran through the lovely canning funnel a friend suggested, with a strainer on top. The 5 year old lost interest, but the 10 year old helped through the whole process, encouraging the kefirs to grow, helping cover them with the cloth & rubber band . . .

Then time for the water kefir (it takes a couple of days, while the milk kefir cultures in 24 hours) - straining, eating some of the grains - a 'flirty' look, as she wanted to eat more - & more . . . yes, it's OK to eat the grains - increases the probiotic 'bennies' . . . Here's a great little piece comparing the probiotic benefits of yogurt & kefir.

After we'd strained the kefir, & washed the grains (you don't need to wash milk kefir grains, but it's recommended with the water kefir) & measure sugar (OK, so she wanted to lick that spoon - when we were done, too) stirred it up, added the kefir grains (& eat a bit more), & cover it with the cloth (the jar in the middle); it was time to 'doctor' the strained kefir for a second ferment!

To one jar (those water kefir grains increase QUICKLY - tho I have shared some of the milk kefir) we added 'chai' herbs - slices of ginger, star anise, fennel, licorice ('but licorice isn't gluten free!' - 'this licorice is - it's just the roots!' . . . 'oh :)' such smart girls!), cinnamon (I snip a strip of whole cinnamon with my kitchen sheers), ginseng, astragulas, pepper, schizandra, hawthorne, cardamom; she loved smelling the herbs before putting them in the 'brew;' then stirring the mix, before we capped it (another piece of muslin - the jar on the Rt above). A number of the herbs in this mix are 'adaptogens' - tonic or 'building herbs.
The three main actions of adaptogens are:
  • nontoxic to the recipient.
  • produce a nonspecific response in the body—an increase in the power of resistance against multiple stressors including physical, chemical, or biological agents.
  • has a normalizing influence on physiology, irrespective of the direction of change from physiological norms caused by the stressor.
  • & while all adaptogens contain antioxidants, antioxidants are not necessarily adaptogens and that is not proposed to be their primary mode of action.
A young accupuncturist friend once engaged in a 'discussion' with folks from a multi-level marketing group, who were touting the values of their 'patent' adaptogen formula; inviting them to recognize that the Chinese have been perfecting these formulas for years, & that he had researched sources of high quality ginseng, etc - to no avail! Their product was vastly superior to anything anyone else had ever thought of . . . (hmm - & rather expensive, as I recall!)

In the second jar we used a simpler mix of lemon ginger herb tea, nettles & a bit of damiana. She helped with the whole process, wishing the herbs well as we covered the jars, & tucked them in to 'brew.' Quite the budding herbalist!