Sunday, March 19, 2017

Trying not to be ego-driven

This is a tough one for me. Only now, in the autumn/winter of my life, am I beginning to sort of figure out how to not let ego and its irrational demands rule my psyche. 

Here's what I'm learning. (My Mimi's voice is coming in: "Too soon old, too late schmart." Mim was French-Canadian, so I have no idea why she pronounced "smart" in a Germanesque way. But she did.)

1. Ego thinks there's a finite amount of excellence to go around. If they've got it, you don't.

2. Ego is forever on the hunt for fresh meat and new conquests. It doesn't let you stop and smell the roses.

3. Ego is always elbowing you, psst, and pointing out that other person who does what you do, only better.

4. Ego likes you to think that catering to it makes you happy. But, except for teeny tiny slivers of time, it doesn't.

5. Ego carries around a supply of pins to burst your bubble.

This week's card is the King of Pentacles. He's risen to the top of the heap.

The stats from the twenty-one Kings of Pents on the table:
In 14 of them, he/she is all alone at the top, and not one of them is smiling. What is the point of all that climbing if you're going to be alone and not particularly happy?

Three are impressionist-y vague. I can't tell what they're thinking.

One has gone off into its own Midsummer Night's Dream world.

Only three!!!!! show a King looking reasonably content, or engaged in an activity that doesn't involve amassing wealth.

Here's what I know: a wound to the ego is never fatal!

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Mourning the Loss of a Blue Spruce

This is not what I'd planned to write about this week, but it's uppermost in my heart and mind.

Wednesday, March 8, was an exceedingly windy day. Anything that could rattle and bang, did. The big evergreens in the front swayed and soughed as they always do when the wind is wild. Garbage cans rolled down the street, running away from home.
Around 11:45 I stepped out to test the temperature. Spring coat day.
Noon - time for lunch with my daughter and delectable one-year-old grandson. I grabbed my coat and opened the door. To this.

A tour around.

The remainder of the day passed by in a shock-y hyper blur of visitors: my lunchless daughter and little Simon strollered over to commiserate; a friend, responding to my panicked call, dropped by with her camera and a can of hard cider as a consolation gift; a neighbour with a long extension cord began sawing off branches that blocked the street or held my car hostage; passers-by and gawkers shared fallen tree stories; my brother sympathized, even though pieces of the front door to his shop were tearing off and blowing away as we spoke; later in the day the city (swamped with similar predicaments) sawed off more tree parts blocking the road and sidewalk, and fed them into a hopper (much to the delight of 5-year-old Emily who by now had been fetched from her school bus to see Gramma's toppled tree). And so it went.

Thursday, March 9, was going to be a great day. My calendar said so, in CAPS.
NOON: MARCH BREAK BEGINS! Last lessons to teach before a 2-week break, a nice little list of paper supplies to pick up at a stationery store. Pots of tea, books, Poldark Season 1 on DVD, time completely my own, possible bread-baking ahead. Ah.
So what was wrong? Nothing felt celebratory or fun. No enthusiasm bubbled. I didn't bake anything or watch Ross and Demelza or visit the paper store, even though my (miraculously unhurt) car was now free to travel.
By nightfall, I'd figured it out. I was mourning the beautiful tree and all my years gone by in company with it. The view outside was empty and plain. Yesterday's fallen but still graceful and majestic tree now looked like a broken ugly wreck. Depressing.

I pulled the cards for the week. Leave it to tarot to bring up Six of Cups, the nostalgia card. Fitting.

We're so sorry that you had to see this. The Shakespeare Oracle

Of course you are sad! You will miss its sheltering boughs. Deirdre of the Sorrows

The vista will never be the same. Tarot of the Thousand and One Nights

Perhaps plant a new tree, and watch it grow alongside your grandchildren. Modern Spellcaster's Tarot 

There is no tree in our image, and yet how beautiful it is. You, too, will find some beauty. Vikings Tarot

By some bizarre twist of happenstance, the poem of the day from The Writer's Almanac for that
Wednesday, March 8, 2017 was...

by Faith Shearin

There is weather on the day you are born
and weather on the day you die. (I like to think she's speaking to my tree here.)  There is
the year of drought, and the year of floods,
when everything rises and swells,
the year when winter will not stop falling,
and the year when summer lightning
burns the prairie, makes it disappear.
There are the weathervanes, dizzy
on top of farmhouses, hurricanes
curled like cats on a map of sky:
there are cows under the trees outlined
in flies. There is the weather that blows
a stranger into town and the weather
that changes suddenly: an argument,
a sickness, a baby born
too soon. Crops fail and a field becomes
a study in hunger; storm clouds
billow over the sea;
tornadoes appear like the drunk
trunks of elephants. People talking about
weather are people who don’t know what to say
and yet the weather is what happens to all of us:
the blizzard that makes our neighborhoods
strange, the flood that carries away
our plans. We are getting ready for the weather,
or cleaning up after the weather, or enduring
the weather. We are drenched in rain
or sweat: we are looking for an umbrella,
a second mitten; we are gathering
wood to build a fire.

"Weather" by Faith Shearin from Orpheus, Turning. © The Broadkill River Press, 2015. Reprinted with permission. 

Monday, March 06, 2017

Things to do before I'm 70

A friend of mine recently turned 60, and for the year before her birthday she was working on a checklist of "60 things to do before I'm 60". She managed almost all of it, and had some unique experiences along the way. I was inspired!

I decided to give myself more time by beginning three years ahead, on the "things to do before I'm 70" list. Some are big, expensive, and unlikely to happen, like trips to Africa and India. But what the heck? It's good to dream, right?

This week, I'm using the tarot to come up with more ideas for my "before 70" list.

Near the beginning of the year, someone (sorry! didn't make a note of who) posted an exercise using the Wheel of Fortune card, since 2017 is the Year of the Wheel (2+0+1+7=10). Here's my variation.

1. Shuffle your deck. 
2. Go through it face up until you find the X Wheel of Fortune.
3. Look at the card right after it. Don't think too much! Just blurt out something that comes to mind, even if it's crazy.
4. Put it on your "to do" list.

I chose three decks that have been tossing out thought-provoking cards recently. Here's what happened.
The Chrysalis Tarot (cropped)
In a land which has ancient trees, sit in the midst of some Standing Stones. 
There may (fingers crossed) be a trip to Britain in the fall. The land of ancient forests and stone circles.

Universal Fantasy Tarot
It's time to ride something you're afraid of.
A horse. I've always been terrified that it will turn back its head and bite my leg if I attempt to sit on it. 

Vikings Tarot
Go see where people worked. Visit a World Heritage Site.
This one set off a tingly chain of connections. I LOVE that!
2017 is Canada's 150th birthday year. In celebration, Parks Canada is offering free admission to all our national parks.
The only province I've never visited is Newfoundland, where the Vikings established their first North American settlement around the year 1000.
These images are from the Vikings tarot.
That Viking site, L'Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland, is now a National Park, and a UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) World Heritage Site.
My Parks Canada admission card is downstairs waiting for me to use it.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

No clue what to write about this week

Nothing seems interesting. Don't want to bore you with more calligraphy stuff. I'm reading about Sherlock but don't know nearly enough to tackle his deck. Don't feel like reviewing any of my other decks. Everything feels stale. Been there, done that. I hate it when my brain is lazy and bored.
I hear the voice of Julie Andrews speaking to me as Nanny from Eloise at the Plaza:

"Eloise, being bored is not allowed."
OK, Nanny, I'm shaping up.

I may not have any fresh ideas, but there are 21 decks sitting on the table behind me who probably do. Let's see who comes up to bail me out. The Magician! Who says there no such thing as magic?

Of the 21 Magicians, 9 are pretty much what you'd expect from this card, 2 look a bit nasty so I shoved them to one side. The other ten bring me new thoughts about the Magician, and that's what I'm looking for.

But first, a coincidence.
The Shakespeare Oracle shows the Bard himself in this take on the Magician. (I love pondering it, and am leaving you free to do the same without thought-interference from me.)
What showed up on today's poem of the day?

Shakespeare! Here's a clip from Sonnet 116. Good advice for our tempestuous times.

Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove.
O no, it is an ever-fixèd mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;

I think Nanny Julie sent this card. How on EARTH could anyone be bored when surrounded by such a feast for the mind, the eye, and all the senses?
Image: World Spirit Tarot

It's true, Shakespearian Tarot. I am working on an absorbing new project.

You're right, Margarete Petersen, the winds of change are blowing through my life as I near retirement in June. New opportunities blowing my way - yup, that's magic!

Ravens! How I love them and their incredible smarts! They've been showing up regularly here. I learned about their cleverness in Bird Brains by Candace Savage. (She also wrote Witch: the Wild Ride from Wicked to Wicca.)
Image: Chrysalis Tarot (cropped)

We live in a magical world, that's for sure. Wonders abound. I hope we realize it in time.
Image: Golden Tarot

Let there be light! Slanting sunlight and flashing firelight. This week I looked up an overnight VIA rail route that travels from Winnipeg, Manitoba to Churchill in the far north, where the Aurora Borealis lives. It's on my bucket list, that train trip.
Images: Vikings Tarot, Universal Fantasy Tarot

Every single week this deck puts out a gorgeous atmospheric picture based on the stories of the Thousand and One Nights. It's a Lo Scarabeo deck, with the usual skimpy (dare I say almost useless) LWB. How I wish I knew more! Oh...I get it. Time to find a copy of the book and study up? Well, you'll have to wait your turn, Thousand and One Nights. I'm currently working on the stories of Sherlock Holmes so I can read that deck!

Sunday, February 19, 2017

A rantish revelation about handwriting; the cards weigh in

No wonder no one writes by hand anymore! How did I not see this earlier? Duh!

February is International Correspondence Writing Month (aka InCoWriMo) and I've been working on my handwriting. Resurrecting some rusty Italic calligraphy, and trying for cursive writing that doesn't make me curse.
It all looks like crap.

You may have heard that the teaching of cursive ("joined together writing", as one of my granddaughters calls it) has been cut from the curriculum in many schoolboards. Time constraints is given as a reason. Outmoded means of communication is another. In other words, we don't need it because we're too busy typing on keyboards.
There is incoming evidence, gleaned from studying which areas of the brain are activated when a person is writing in cursive, that some crucial connections can only be made by physical writing. Kind of like crawling is to walking. I don't know where this educational dispute will end up. BUT...

People say that they don't write by hand because their writing is bad. So there's a vicious circle set up because good writing takes practice, and no one is practising because they're typing on their devices. (And of course, with cursive not being taught in schools, and there being less and less emphasis on penmanship, this situation will only go from bad to worse.)

But that's not the revelation. It's this:

On the computer we can access hundreds of fonts, sizes, colours, arrangements, borders, drawings, and designs in an instant. Just click a key and voila!
So no wonder we don't like our own writing, even if we practice and practice. Nothing quite stacks up to the perfection of the computer's consistently instantly perfectly formed lettering. And this incredibly fast perfection is what we've become used to. Anything else seems erratic, slow, and ugly.

What does this week's card have to say about this?
The Seven of Pentacles popped up. I feel a little lecture about my work ethic coming...

So you want to be the Big Cheese of Penmanship, eh?
Vikings Tarot

Well, you'll need to pour a lot of ink onto paper if you want your writing capabilities to grow.
Modern Spellcaster's Tarot

Learn how to heft a pen correctly. Pick one that fits your hand.
Golden Botticelli Tarot (by the way, this deck is SPECTACULAR in person!)

Use a firm grip, but don't pinch.
Deirdre of the Sorrows Tarot

Bringing a new skill to fruition takes time and patience and perseverance.
Tarot Mucha

You want to be good at this? Aim high.
Minoan Tarot

And start practising!

In one of life's delicious coincidences, I was laboriously carving out letters and watching Anna Olson make crackers from scratch, and she said, and I quote:
"I'm making them intentionally not too perfect because I don't want them to look like they came out of a box."

So when my penmanship looks less than perfect it's because I don't want anyone to think I did it on a computer. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Sherlock, the character and the deck

One of TABI's free-readers has been posting recently of her work with John Matthews' and Wil Kinghan's The Sherlock Holmes Tarot, and her work is so literarily beautiful and evocative that I'm all stirred up about this body of work that belongs to Sherlock. The 'canon', as she calls it. And about this deck, which I purchased when it first came out in 2014 but haven't used because I felt inadequately informed, Sherlock-wise.

A call to my local used-book store produced a GIGANTIC 2-volume set of the complete works about Sherlock with annotations and maps and pictures and what-not, more than I can ever absorb in five lifetimes. Must admit that I'm excited about delving into it, even if I'll never be an expert!

So this is not an article about or review of this deck - not yet. I haven't a clue (ha! unintended) about it, and am not about to insult it or massacre its meanings until I've better acquainted myself with Sherlock and his stories.

What I would like to do today is use this week's cards to offer their opinions on how I'll fare with the Sherlock Holmes Tarot.

Shuffling the Whimsical Tarot ... Seven of Cups... perfect!
So many literary destinations on offer, so many delicious stories and characters. Just where I am at the moment, poised at the taking-off point with Sherlock and John Watson. Each path and story has its own particular charm and appeal.

Here's a similar-looking design from the Minoan Tarot. Choose one of the paths, grab hold of the little suckers so you don't fall off, follow it through to the end. Then repeat, using a different leg!

'Yes, the task may appear daunting at first!' says the Universal Fantasy Tarot. 'No, the books you've purchased only seem to be this big.'

It's true, everything may initially seem a bit fuzzy. You'll find your focus. Margarete Petersen Tarot 

Just choose a story, start reading, and it will slowly become clear. The Elora Tarot

If the Lady of Shalott is too distracted by all the mirrors and illusions around her, she'll never weave any yarns across the warp threads of her tapestry, and she'll make no progress whatsoever. Chrysalis Tarot

One final piece of advice from the Haindl Tarot. Have no illusions about this. Success can only come from attempting, not merely dreaming about it.

And now, hailing a hansom cab to 221B Baker Street!

Sunday, February 05, 2017

Downsizing, writing by hand, and of course the cards!

First: downsizing.

Next: writing by hand (a nod to International Correspondence Writing Month, or InCoWriMo).

And now, the cards!
All three of these cards were chosen simply because I like looking at them. They come from the latest batch of twenty-one Fours of Swords, or Air, or Sky. The suit of the mind. The number of staying still.



Every morning, a one-minute video lands in my inbox from nature365. There are often wolves, so my attention was drawn to this card.