Sunday, December 29, 2013

Testing, Testing: The Dark Grimoire

This is a tongue-in-cheek response to TABI's second practice question for November.
Please note: NO ACTUAL PERSON was offended in the writing of this letter! Both question and querent are fictitious.

Here we go...out on a limb with the Grim.

I've a young family and don't get the time to do what I want to and I'm unhappy. Please help!

Dear Unhappy,

I've chosen the completely inappropriate Dark Grimoire deck for your reading because I'm selfishly using your situation to further my tarot skills.

1. WHAT TO TRY - Knave of Chalices
Chalices are the suit of Water, our emotional centre, and in this deck represent Dreams which can be fragile and need to be nurtured.
TRY to hold onto your dreams of having more time for yourself, because as your family grows you will indeed emerge from your 24/7 status as a mom.
After everyone is bedded down for the night, pour yourself a glass of wine, and maybe just sit in the dark for a while to collect the bits of yourself that have strayed off during the day to care for your family.
TRY to find a bit of time to indulge yourself with what you want to do. Maybe you're a morning person (as is the young woman in this card) and sunrise might be this time for you to do a bit of writing or reading, or attend to your hair or your closet, whatever you need to do to make yourself feel like an attractive literate adult again.

2. WHAT TO AVOID - Knight of Pentacles
In the Dark Grimoire deck, Pentacles are Shadows, our physical body and our material possessions. The Shadow aspect, as WHAT TO AVOID, is suggesting that you are not your possessions. The real you exists separately from your material existence.
Since much of your physical existence right now involves the trappings of children and babyhood, this card is letting you know that you are not merely the lowly servant of the washing machine and high chair (although it may sometimes feel like that).
Perhaps AVOID getting mired in the idea that you will be stuck in the bad-smelling cave of the diaper pail forever!
This card may be advising you to AVOID excessive wishing that a Knight with a magic egg will suddenly transport you out of the childcare cave into an adult world where no one vomits on you and free time stretches infinitely!

How perfect for your LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL, Unhappy!
There is indeed an END to your current no-time-for-me TUNNEL. Your children will eventually learn to dress themselves and use the microwave and stop shoving coasters into the DVD player.
You'll need a little patience to get there, however.
Some ideas come to mind with the luxurious castle beckoning in this card:
  • your children will grow up to be rich, and will support you in palatial style in your old age
  • you will win the lottery and buy a castle, where an array of servants and nannies will see to your every need, including that of privacy and time to yourself
But in the meantime...

The Knave (sometimes Page or Princess) of Chalices invites you to DREAM up some small activities for yourself that will fit into your current busy family life.
AVOID getting stuck in the "I'll never get out of this cave of endless childcare duties" and put your Knightly energy to constructive use. Have a look in your fridge - maybe one of the eggs in there is glowing with an idea for you!
And know that your 24/7 duties will LIGHTen up, and there will be days when your home will look more like a palace and less like a playpen!

Who knew that even a seemingly ill-chosen deck such as the Dark Grimoire could offer up a useful and suitable reading to this young mother?
Tarot...ya gotta love it!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Short and Sweet

Yuletide greetings!
It's Tuesday night, December 23. Christmas CD supply abundant. Tree fragrant. Outside lights twinkling. Baking done. Shopping mostly done. Cooking...well, it will be done. Wrapping...not even close.
So this post is short and sweet.

Here's the short part:
One of the winter cards from the beautiful Wildwood Tarot. In the Hooded Man (aka the Hermit) I especially love the wreath on what looks like a hobbit door, and the holly leaves and berries on his cloak.

And here's the sweet part:
Chocolate Shortbread Cookies

All my Christmas cookies recipes are sized to use a pound of butter. No use making a piddly number of cookies, right? But it's happy being halved if that seems more reasonable to you.
Makes 64 thick wedges. Keeps for weeks in a tin.
Oven 350 F; baking sheets lined with parchment paper

In a mixer: (can also be done by hand or in a food processor)
It doesn't seem to matter if the butter and sugar get creamed together first, or the dry stuff goes in first and the butter gets mixed in last. Your choice - I've done it both ways.

1 lb. salted butter at room temp
1 c brown sugar

3 1/2 c flour (I use unbleached all-purpose)
1 c unsweetened cocoa (not cocoa drink mix) I use Fry's
1/2 tsp salt

Last in:
2 oz. bittersweet chocolate bar, melted (not icky baking chocolate; something you're happy to eat by itself)

Mix it up. Divide it into 8 pieces. Refrigerate for a few hours or a few days, or use right away. Pat them to a circle about 3/4 inch thick on the parchment-covered cookies sheets, cut into 8 wedges but don't separate them yet, poke some holes in it with a fork. I put four circles on one cookie sheet.

Bake for 17 minutes, turn the trays. If you're making the whole recipe, you can put a tray on top and bottom oven racks. Switch top to bottom and turn.
Bake 17 more minutes.
Recut the wedges and separate them on the cookie sheets so the edges have a chance to firm up. Be gentle when they're still hot; they're a bit soft and fragile.
Cool on the sheets. Pack into tins when completely cool.

Their flavours mingle nicely in the tins.

Happy holidays!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Christmas 1973

Oh those tempting racks of Christmas magazines at the grocery store checkout! I still love them.

Then, as now, most featured cookies I wanted to try (and sometimes did), and gingerbread houses I wanted to build (but never did, after looking at the architecturally terrifying instructions.)
There were variations on decking your halls and swagging your decks and dressing the bird, and the latest festive versions of the "little black dress".
And often a Christmas story to read to the kids.

In 1973 Family Circle published Lowly Worm and His Best Merry Christmas Ever by Richard Scary.
(That's Lowly on the left, perched perilously at the edge of the candy vat. You can probably guess what happens next.)

I read it to my son, and later to my daughter when she came along. Every year it got stored away with all the other favourite Christmas magazines, to be retrieved and enjoyed again.
But then one year it happened.
Family Circle 1973 was nowhere to be found. Had it been inadvertently thrown out? Did a box get lost in the confusion of moving? Oh no! A small piece of my children's past was lost!

Christmas time, the receptacle for so much nostalgia. Our own times past, our children's growing up, our parents turning from grandparents to great-grandparents. The best of Gram's baking and Mim's cooking. Shopping and wrapping. Family gatherings idealized by the mists of selective memory.

This year a little piece of my Christmases past came floating back to me, courtesy of my resourceful and thoughtful daughter (or maybe she just got sick of hearing me moan about losing Lowly Worm?).
In late November I received this early Christmas present.
(Note the cover price of 29 cents!)

Let's lift a glass to Yuletides past and yet to come!

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Balance and the Two of Pents

Juggling everything is impossible. Especially at this time of year!
Unless you're one of those people who can keep a dozen plates spinning atop sticks while tossing around roaring chainsaws, as you sing one of the arias from Handel's Messiah and roll out cookie dough.

I'm more the holding-a-plate-in-one-hand-and-a-mug-of-tea-in-the-other kind of person.
Tea Tarot

Balance. We all need it. We all strive for it. Sometimes we achieve it. But most of the time we're involved in a balancing act, teetering between too much of this and not enough of that.

Nature is great at balance. Wandering around this past August, camera in hand,
I found myself drawn to pairs of things hanging from trees.

Like these little keys.

                       And these apples.

Their human-built equivalents, keeping us on our toes and off our derrieres!
Bohemian Gothic Tarot

The Two of Pentacles encourages us to find the balance.
Sometimes we need to juggle.

Or take it one cautious step at a time

Or pause to grease the squeaky wheel.
Gaian Tarot

And then there are times when you just have to give up, throw your hands up, and crack up.
Some days you're the straight man, some days you're the Fool!
The Golden Age of Hollywood