Midsummer Chills and the Pyramid

At the beginning of May we had a week of summer temperatures, and at the beginning of June we had three consecutive days where the sun managed to break through the cloud cover for more than a few fleeting minutes.

These are the ‘interesting’ times we now live in, and which will continue to get more ‘interesting-er’ as the seasons progress.

The seedlings I started in pots and carton-halves in the patio are only now strong enough to go out into the gardens. I will tend them as I can, but their survival is uncertain.

The beans and climbing cardinals, (I have no idea what they actually are but the flowers looked pretty on the seed packet) will be going into a new garden that Mrs Widds and I constructed, in between rainshowers and thunderstorms.

Baby beans ...

Baby beans …

... and baby cardinals

… and baby cardinals

Our little rented house on an island in the middle of a lake is a duplex. Since the new owners took possession four-ish years ago, the other half of has remained vacant except for their infrequent flying visits, so we basically have the yard to ourselves.

A previous tenant had build a firepit with old bricks, but it soon degenerated into a pile of ash and weeds. In order to do some sort of gardening this season I decided to take it in hand.

First there was the removal of bricks and weeds …

… to reveal a decent heap of ash, most of which we removed to the compost heap, then rebuilt the soil with compost and sandy topsoil. Then it was time to assemble the required tools …

An assortment of dried bamboo sticks ...

An assortment of dried bamboo sticks …

Scissors, a ball of old wool, and duct tape - a gardeners best friend

Scissors, a ball of old wool, and duct tape – a gardeners best friend

… and construct this …

I stopped stringing the wool halfway down to plant the seedlings

I stopped stringing the wool halfway down to plant the seedlings

Look at that craftswomanship!!!

Look at that craftswomanship!!!

Here are the babies, all snug and sound in their new home ...

Here are the babies, all snug and sound in their new home …

That white stuff on the ground isn’t snow, (although the high passes to the interior just north-east of us did get a bit of a fall for Summer Solstice) it’s crushed eggshells, to ward off slugs. They don’t appreciate all those sharp edges …. bwhahahahaha …

The sun graced us with her presence yesterday so I took advantage of the light for the final shot.

... and now we wait

… and now we wait


Why Mirrors Lie

Mrs Widds seemed in a pensive mood last night.

As couples who have been together for a while tend to do, we both, for no particular reason, turned to each other at the same time. I, from my computer and she, from her book.

Perhaps something had been triggered by what she had been reading, for she looked at me and asked, probably rhetorically, “Why do mirrors never show us as we see ourselves?”

“Because they lie,” I answered without thinking.

It’s not their fault, of course, they were cursed, a long, long time ago: And this is how it happened …

When they were first invented, by a cronemage who chose the name Skögul after one of the Valkyries of legend, mirrors reflected all aspects of the viewer back to themselves.

First there was the Physical image, but it was a weak, thinly defined, image, because, of course, the physical is only the first stage of one’s Self. Layered on the Physical, was the Mental image, where one could, if one looked closely enough, discern all the thoughts one had ever created. The third layer was the Emotional, thick and full of drama and beauty, it was the layer that created a three dimensional aspect to the other two. Finally came the Spirit layer that bound the other three to it and thereby giving the viewer what was known as a True Reflection.

Skögul made them, freely available to all who asked.

When she felt her life drawing to a close she made a special mirror that enabled her Spirit, at the moment of her Death, to brush lightly across the surface of all the mirrors she’d created, in a kind of a Blessing. Then she was no more.

Eventually one of Skögul’s mirrors crossed paths with a wizard. The sort of wizard who had long white hair and a long white beard, both longer, in his estimation than all the other wizards he knew. In fact the wizards gathered together once a year for a beard & hair measuring competition, as is the way with wizards who are concerned more with the length of their, beards, than being wizards.

This particular wizard looked at his reflection in the Skögul Mirror, and to his horror and disgust, saw the true nature of his Spirit.

He was also bald and cleanshaven, which wouldn’t do at all.

He gathered his dignity around him like a shroud and, ignoring the twitching eye in his reflection, cast a mighty spell that broke the enchantment on every one of the Skögul Mirrors, so they would show him only what he wanted to see.

Skögul, of course, had the last laugh. The wizards curse didn’t quite work out for him. From that moment on, all the mirrors ever made, in all the world, would only ever reflect back the thinnest, meanest, layer of what a person truly was.

Every now and then though, in dusty corners of second-hand stores, or mouse-nibbled boxes in attics and basements, and wrapped in cloth that smelled of mists on lakes, and sunsets on ancient stones, and if one is very lucky, a true Skögul Mirror will appear, and a True Reflection will be shown.

The Perfect Riposte …

… on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

Found this on a ‘fun memes’ thread at Permies.com, an all-things-permaculture-y site.

A Bit More About Doris

When I heard the news this morning, that Doris Day had died, my first reaction was, ‘Oh, that’s so sad’, and I put up a ‘Bon Voyage’ post.

I knew immediately which song video I wanted to include, because it has been a favourite of mine for decades.

A little while later I was listening to and watching the video again and I burst into tears, the big gut-wrenching sobbing kind of tears, but not, perhaps, for the reasons you might imagine.

When I was growing up, there were no songs about people like me. There were no movies, no TV shows, about people like me. There were books written about people like me, but the characters almost always went insane or died tragic deaths.

As I grew older I learned there was a large part of society, that I believed I was a part of, that wanted me dead too, or securely locked away from them, and at the least, to never be happy, never have a cultural identity, to never live freely, and most importantly never, ever, fall in love. (that part of society never goes away. Sometimes they’re able to butcher us with impunity and sometimes their brutalities are censured, but they never, ever, leave us alone)

Isolated from each other by all aspects of mainstream cultural expressions, we found our voices elsewhere. We started writing and singing and recording our own songs about women loving women. We started writing and publishing our own stories about women loving women. (mostly with happy endings, because we desperately needed to know that is was possible, but occasionally an unhappy ending, because we never fooled ourselves into believing that ‘happily ever after’s’ existed all the time)

And every now and then, there came from the mainstream, moments that called to us out of the relentlessly heterosexual cultural offerings, and we saw our Selves, inside the dialogue and characters of television shows and movies and books, and inside the lyrics of songs. (a secret code, like that ‘certain smile’ we give each other when we pass each other on the street)

Some of those songs became our cultural anthems, to be shouted from the rooftops, with all the anger and rage and passion we could muster. Some we danced to late at light in underground, and illegal, nightclubs, and in our living-rooms, because sometimes that was the only safe place where we could gather. And sometimes we cried them into our pillows, holding on to them for dear life. And sometimes our friends and lovers played then at our funerals. (or at the wakes we held because the ‘blood’ family wouldn’t allow us to attend the funeral)

‘Secret Love’ was one of those songs, of course it was. (pretty much the entire movie was, actually)


A bonus video, because I’ve had a good cry, and it’s time to smile and remember the good times.

This scene happens before ‘Calam’ rides out in her bright-and-shiny buckskins, a’singin’ and a’ridin’ along. You put the two songs together and wadda you got? A secret love that’s no secret anymore.

Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services

This is a report commissioned by the United Nations. Wikipedia has an outline that’s worth reading. One sentence leapt off the page at me and it goes like this …‘The total biomass of wild mammals has decreased by 82%, while humans and their farm animals now make up 96% of all mammalian biomass on Earth…’

And then there’s this bit …‘humanity has rendered 23% or Earth’s land ecologically degraded and no longer usable’. On a planet where only 29% of it’s entire surface is land.

Are you angry yet? Is there a sick feeling in your stomach yet?

The UN SDG (United Nations Sustainable Development Goals) website has a much more in-depth breakdown, and it’s just as horrifying.

All those facts and figures aren’t what’s coming, they’re what’s here, they’re real, and they’re going to get worse because politicians will tweet and squeak and blame the ‘other’ side. Their willfully thoughtless followers will do the same. Corporations will continue to use ‘jobs’ and ‘profits’ and ‘shareholders’ to justify their actions.

Others will use the good old standby of ‘no-one else is stepping up so why should I?’

Others will trot out their ‘sustainability’ credentials as if that absolves them. ‘Unwilling to comprehend that ‘sustainable’ is no longer enough.

There are men and women, and children, all over the world, millions of us, who resolutely face how things are, and are doing what we can to change this catastrophic trajectory, but right now in this moment, it’s not enough.

It’s not enough. This I believe.

More and more people will take action over the coming years, and perhaps that trajectory will be swayed. This I hope.

Right now, I’m going to take my tea and sit in my garden and I’ll probably have a good cry because my heart is hurting … and then … and then … I’ll watch the newly awakened bees, along with all sorts of other creatures, pollinate our strawberries, and the dandelions and buttercups.

This too, is where I find my hope.

Strawbs and Co

Strawbs and Co

Spirit House – Part 1

Most of the time these days my mind is coursing throughout the galaxy with my characters in my new story, (alluded to in my last post) so much so that I’m finding it hard to be present in the here-and-now, and when I do turn up, I’m ambushed by my body that has allergic reactions that put me out of action for three days, or migraines of varying strengths, or just general wear-and-tear on a body that’s spent more than half of it’s existence getting by with one-and-a-half knees.

(I give thanks to Efficacia Herbilaria, the Goddess of the herb, Star Anise on a regular basis this time of year. I’d do the ‘burnt offering’ thing but that would defeat the whole purpose)

It’s no wonder that I wander around in a semi-coherent daze, and want to get back to my galaxy hopping companions with more alacrity than is seemly in a lass of my three-score years, and seven months.

There are, of course household and garden tasks to hold my attention, relationships to maintain, the making of salves, repairing old journals, etc, and many and varied crafty projects to keep my feet firmly in this Realm … for a while at least.

So, we start with the basics, a table, lots of scrap cardboard, and an assortment of manufacturing tools …

... and a long stalk of bamboo, apparently, which is probably why the secateurs are there too, possibly

… and a long stalk of bamboo, apparently, which is probably why the secateurs are there too, possibly

I used this video on YouTube, as my inspiration. Beware though, if this sort of thing has any attraction for you, you will disappear into a nightmarish rabbit-hole from which there is very little chance for your safe return unscathed. I have the scathes to prove it.

I decided to go with a cardboard base rather than a plastic jar, because if there’s a hard way to do something, I’ll be in the deep end before you can say, “Maybe that isn’t …”, and ended up with this …


The front stoop, with spider-webbed portholes ...

The front stoop, with spider-webbed portholes …

... and in the rear windows,two cats having an intense conversation ...

… and in the rear windows, two cats having an intense conversation …

... which went on into the wee small hours of the morning

… which went on into the wee small hours of the morning

Next it was time to cover everything in paper clay. The recipe for which I got from this video by the same Irish lass as previously noted.

A close-up of the feline conversationalists while their window frames were being formed

A close-up of the feline conversationalists while their window frames were being formed

 And here it is, drying out in some late afternoon sunbeams on the front step.

Mmmmm, beams

Mmmmm, beams


Next … Part 2 – The Paint Job … see you then. I’m off, back to the other side of the galaxy to see what kind of trouble that motley crew have got themselves into while I was away.

Mending a Broken … Journal

Now that Prelude is out in the stratosphere, doing it’s own thing, I’ve been concentrating on my next great adventure.

This is a fanciful cover I did a while back for it, even before I began Prelude actually. I used this wonderful software called Pulp-O-mizer, and it creates the most wonderful ‘golden-age’ pulp fiction science fiction covers. It’s not for commercial use but it makes a wonderful placeholder to wrap around my new work until I finish the story and have a clearer idea of what the true cover will look like;

Bel and the Knight Whiskey Runners


I’ve had this ratty old spiral-bound notebook that I use as my writing workbook for, (first entry is dated, 4th March 2010, and still going strong) so, for a long time, and it’s starting to show its age.

I have a few journals going, for all sorts of aspects of my life. They help keep my thoughts organized on the task at hand, otherwise I’d be haring off in a gazillion different directions.

My writing journal is probably the simplest of them all. It’s just an abbreviated list of what writerly things I want to achieve in a day, and whether I’ve managed to achieve them, with a brief note or two if appropriate – hence it’s longevity.

But opening and closing a spiral-bound notebook over three thousand times has a price, and this is the price …

Worn out corners

Worn out corners

I thought it needed a new cover too, so I decided to do a two-fer upgrade.

But how was I supposed to reattach the separated  bit of the cover inside the spiral to the rest of it and still have it open and close?

First I measured the distance between the spirals. Turns out they’re exactly 8mm apart.

Checking out how it looks BEFORE I glue anything

Checking out how it looks BEFORE I glue anything

I had some business-card-weight sheets of paper stashed away, (we don’t throw away anything in this household!) that I measured up and cut into strips like this ….

Card strip on cutting board - I used a large needle to perforate the mid-point and cut and trimmed each bit where the spirals would go

Card strip on cutting board – I used a large needle to perforate the mid-point and cut and trimmed each bit where the spirals would go

Then, starting on the back cover, I carefully, and very patiently threaded the strip inside the spiral and pulled it in-between each turn of the wire spiral, and glued it in place with some PVA glue, thusly …

Back cover - Shades of dentistry

Back cover – Shades of dentistry

Having practiced on the back cover, I turned my attention to the front …

Front cover - The tricky bit was getting the completely separated bit of cover the old cover to stay in place while I glued it

Front cover – The tricky bit was getting the completely separated bit of cover the old cover to stay in place while I glued it

And here she is, all shiny and refurbished, albeit with well-worn pages within.

Final cover - Ready to go for another nine years

Final cover – Ready to go for another nine years


It seems that this week I’m all about D.I.Y. because I have a post up on my Widds The Shaman blog about making salves.