Diana in NoVa

I'm quite literally an old Witch. In my spare time I follow politics, write fiction about those who follow the Pagan path, keep house (not terribly successfully), and hang out on the Moose, Facebook, and sometimes the Great Orange Satan. I'm a nanny-granny to three adorable grandchildren and the granny of two who are quite grown up. Sisterhood is powerful!

Jolyon–Part II

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Flung back in time to the Minoan Crete of 1450 BC, can Fiona adjust to such a different world?

“Put your arms around me and hold on as tightly as you can,” Jolyon said. He stepped closer until just a breath separated us. I did as he instructed. A vast shudder rippled through us, after which utter blackness descended and I knew nothing more.

When I regained consciousness, very slowly, I became aware through closed eyelids that it was daylight. Gradually the realization dawned that I was lying down, covered by a warm blanket, and that I could hear voices. Two of the voices were male, speaking English. A third voice sounded feminine and the language was not English.

Jolyon

knossos-palace

After graduation a visit to Knossos beckoned Fiona—but little did she guess where it would lead!

 

I noticed him because he was always alone.

And in a country where most people are dark-haired and dark-eyed, he stood out because of his blond ponytail and gray eyes. Only the shape of his eyes belonged to Crete—large, almond-shaped, compelling.

The Weirdness of Planning for Extreme Old Age

Garish yellow flowers flaunt themselves while Dearly escapes through the front door

Garish yellow flowers flaunt themselves while Dearly escapes through the front door

My husband and I aren’t getting any younger. In fact, looking at us, you’d say we’re downright old. It’s taken me two years to accept that at 72, I’m no longer “middle-aged”: now I qualify as elderly.

Last year I began to think about what we’d do when we’re too old to drive. In suburban America, you either have access to your own transportation or you languish. We visit the public library, gym, grocery store, bank, gas station, doctor, dentist, Target, Costco. We pick up grandchildren from elementary school (on foot, if it’s nice weather), or from day care, which requires driving.

Taking a taxi is out of the question. The fares would be astronomical. Even the fares for Lyft or Uber would be astronomical, given all the places we visit. So—what to do?

Was Shakespeare a Stoner?

Was Shakespeare a Stoner?

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Of all the wild-eyed theories ever circulated about William Shakespeare, Bard of Avon, surely the most spectacular is that he smoked pot.

Who’d have thunk it?

Is it time to debunk it?

Let us examine the findings so far.

Jonathan O’Callaghan reports that a team of scientists from the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa studied 400-year-old pipes dug up in Stratford-on-Avon. Four of the pipes that came from the garden of Shakespeare’s house were found to contain traces of marijuana.

Marc Cugnon, writing for USA TODAY Network , says:

…in fact, Shakespeare’s Sonnet 76 may contain some references to drug use. Throughout its lines, Shakespeare refers to keeping invention in a ‘noted weed’ and to ‘new-found methods and compounds strange.’

When I first read “Much Ado About Nothing” many, many years ago I was completely bemused by the Lancelot Gobbo scenes. What did they mean? Why were they there? They seemed to have nothing whatever to do with the story of Beatrice and Benedick. If anyone had told me at the time that Shakespeare wrote those scenes while higher than a kite, I would have believed that person implicitly.

However, when I saw the magnificent Kenneth Branagh-Emma Thompson film version of “Much Ado About Nothing,” I realized for the first time that those Lancelot Gobbo scenes were funny. I even laughed. Very likely Shakespeare put in the comic relief for the “groundlings,” those who could afford only a copper to see the play and stood at the back of the theater through the entire performance. It goes back to the old truism: Shakespeare’s plays are meant to be acted, not read.

As to whether The Bard smoked pot and was high when he wrote, Edward Delman, writing for The Atlantic, affirms that so little is known about Shakespeare’s life it’s impossible to say whether he smoked pot or not.

And there’s always this to think about: perhaps he didn’t need to smoke weed to get high. Perhaps he simply got high on his own words—not at all a difficult thing to do. Consider the following (John of Gaunt’s speech from Richard II):

This royal throne of kings, this sceptred isle,
This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,
This other Eden, demi-paradise,
This fortress built by Nature for herself
Against infection and the hand of war,
This happy breed of men, this little world,
This precious stone set in the silver sea,
Which serves it in the office of a wall,
Or as a moat defensive to a house,
Against the envy of less happier lands,
This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England….

And there we will leave it, Master Shakespeare, Bard of Avon, foremost poet and playwright in the English language. On this day, the 452nd anniversary of your birth, we salute you once again as being “not of an age but for all time.”

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The Invisibility Factor

The girl was snatched before their eyes—why didn’t the police respond to the women’s calls?

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It all happened so fast.

One minute the young girl in the pale pink track suit, eyes cast down as she texted on her cellphone, was walking down the opposite side of the street from where Charmiele sat on her front porch working on her laptop; the next minute, a young man jumped out of a black SUV with darkened windows that rolled to a stop behind the girl, and grabbed her phone. Thirty seconds later another man jumped out of the SUV and helped him bundle the girl into the vehicle.

When the support staff quits, you have to hire…

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The law office of Reed, Wright, Pray & Singh was in a quandary: not from lack of business, which was in fact burgeoning, but from lack of help.

The simple fact was that the young, the middle-aged, and the early elderly had been promised free, safe passage to Luna City, the new moon colony, so there was no one left to perform the support tasks of a law office.

“Free passage to the moon, free apartments for life, a $50,000 signing bonus—how can we compete with that?” Arthur Reed, the senior partner, asked in a morning meeting of the firm’s partners. He was grumpy from pulling an all-nighter to prepare a legal brief.

“We can’t. We’ll have to rely on a temp service. Surely they have people who can staff our office,” Ronald Wright said.

Lettice Pray nodded agreement and drank the rest of her coffee; Kuldip Singh looked at the others and said, “I will contact the agency this very morning to get the people we need.”

However, in the conference room at lunchtime he reported that his efforts had failed. “There is no one, but no one, available,” he said. “Everyone’s gone to the moon.”

Pray looked up from her peanut butter-and-banana on whole wheat and said, “I have an idea. No, I’m not going to tell you what it is until I’ve sounded out the parties concerned. However, if I’m successful we may have the solution to our problem.”

___________

Collette

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“Excuse me, but do you have any more brochures on prison reform?”

Darren’s head was under the cloth that hung from the table in his booth at the town fair, so he stuck up a hand high enough so the visitor could see it. “Be right with you, okay?” Even to him, his voice sounded muffled.

Having extracted a pile of the brochures he wanted to replenish, he groped rightward to the box in which the prison reform brochures were kept and grabbed a few. Then he stood up and looked straight into the face of the most beautiful girl he’d ever seen.

In fact, she was probably the most beautiful woman in the world. Slim and graceful, she appeared to be just a few inches over five feet. Her dark brown afro hugged her beautifully shaped head. Bright brown eyes, filled with amusement; long, long black eyelashes; smooth café-au-lait skin, and red lips pressed together. She looked as if she would burst out laughing at any moment.

Aware that he looked like the nation’s prize idiot, Darren stammered, “H-how can I help you?”

“Prison reform brochures,” she repeated and could barely conceal a smile as he handed them to her.

“D-do you need anything else?” Wildly, he looked around the booth, hoping to find something that would tempt her to linger, to chat.

“No, thank you,” she said firmly, “I have what I need. Good day.”

She turned and began to walk off. She mustn’t get away! Hardly aware of what he was doing, Darren left the booth and called after her. “Wait!”

She turned. “Yes?” Her tone was cold.

“May I ask you a question?”

She looked bored. “If you must.”

He took a deep breath. “How would you rate my chances of taking you out to dinner next week?”

Her eyes widened. “That’s not at all what I expected!”

“What did you expect?”

“I thought you’d say something like, ‘Have you ever dated a white guy’ or a more vulgar variant thereof.”

Darren’s lips tightened. “I would never say anything vulgar to you or to any woman.”

“Glad to hear it,” she said, and turned to walk away.

“Wait,” he called out. “Is there anything I can do to convince you I’m a nice guy who just wants to know you better?”

She half-turned, appearing to consider this for a moment, then shook her head. “No, not really.”

Chastened, he watched her walk away. He’d never get to know her. She was the most beautiful woman he’d ever met and he’d never get to know what made her tick, what kind of music she liked, whether she enjoyed long walks in the woods.

Please, Goddess, don’t let her go out of my life!

She’d proceeded a few yards when she suddenly paused. Turned. Walked back until she stood just a few feet away.

“You know, I don’t have time for most white guys, but I’m getting a vibe from you that says—well, never mind what it says. So…yes. There is something you could do to prove you’re serious.”

“Anything!”

“Come to dinner at my grandmother’s house on Sunday.”

Despair turned to delight in seconds. “I accept with pleasure!”

She pulled a small notebook from her handbag, wrote something on it, and handed it to him. He scanned it rapidly, noting the address, the phone number, and the date and time he’d be expected. “My name’s Darren Peterson,” he said. “And here’s my number, in case you need it.”

She entered it in her mobile. “Thanks. See you Sunday.”

“Oh, by the way,” Darren called after her as she began to walk away again, “what’s your name?”

She looked back at him over her shoulder. “Collette.”


The Looming of Bastet

Black, beautiful, and wild described Pombagira Rodriguez. Her promiscuous nature would have doomed her to perpetual pregnancy if it hadn’t been for a certain medical procedure a year ago; as it was, she was known for staying out all night and then gaining access to the house by climbing a tree and entering through a partly open window.

“She’s a second-story cat,” Celine Rodriguez would say with a sigh. “What a naughty girl!”

“You treat that cat as if she were your child,” people would say from time to time. “What a pity you never had children of your own.”

“I teach, I blog, I write. I have brain-children, and I labor just as hard bringing them into the world as women who give birth to physical children,” Celine would reply. She was referring to intensity of effort, not physical discomfort, although she did sometimes have to retire to her bed with headaches.

Happily, Pombagira and the dogs, Joel Collie and Eleanor Labrador, were available for the cuddles that books, posts, and lectures couldn’t supply.

___________________

Five minutes before the knock sounded on the front door, Celine gazed out the window at the rain blowing through the front yard. “Remind me again why we got married in October?”

“Because we got a fifty percent discount on a last-minute deal for a cruise to the Bahamas,” Eduardo reminded her. “We decided to make that our honeymoon. Stop worrying—the weather forecast says the rain will stop at six o’clock. We can still go out to dinner to celebrate our anniversary.”

“And that will be the only good thing about this gloomy fall Saturday,” Celine said.

But she was wrong, because the knock on the front door turned out to be the United Parcel Service delivering a package addressed to her and Eduardo.

“Who’s it from, Celine?”

“It’s from my sister priestess Serafina,” Celine said. “How nice of her!”

“You open it, dear,” Eduardo said, handing her the box cutter. “Knowing her, it could be anything.”

Eagerly Celine undid the wrappings, slit open the seams of the box, opened it, and gasped in delight.

Bastet

“It’s Bastet! How beautiful!”

Twenty women danced around the fire that night but only one would be…

 

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It was late summer again, time for the yearly gathering on Serafina’s property. This year the gathering would fall on Celine’s birthday, the first of August. As she packed her large beach bag she shivered in anticipatory delight—she looked forward to this occasion all year.

Into the bag went a flashlight, sunscreen, a beach towel, flip-flops, and a sun visor. No book would be necessary for the sunbathing part of the day, because the company would be so congenial she’d spend her time chatting. She added a pashmina—the evening was always chilly with the breeze coming off the water—and filled her water bottle. She was ready.

The large cooler filled with ice and soft drinks was already in the trunk of her car, as were the fruit and crackers she was bringing for snacks. Serafina, of course, would be cooking up a storm of both Puerto Rican and African-American specialties. Celine smiled as she thought of the arroz con gandules, rice with pigeon peas, that was her friend’s signature dish. She was planning to eat lightly all day so she could give the evening feast the attention it deserved.

The hour-long drive passed pleasantly as Celine, always analytical, contemplated why this yearly celebration meant so much to her. For one thing, no men would be present. There would be no need to appear deferential to male sensibilities, no need for the women present to refrain from speaking their truths around the fire circle: everyone could say whatever she damn well pleased. The best part of being with other women, Celine thought, was that one didn’t have to explain anything. Women already knew.

She smiled again as she drove on and the miles ticked away on the odometer.

Tashkent Auset was also looking forward to the gathering. Awakened as usual by cockrow, she had risen with the dawn, gone out to feed the roosters, hens, and goats, and prepared breakfast for herself and the children. Later she dropped off six-year-old Nico and three-year-old Yana at her mother’s house before setting out on her journey to Serafina’s beach property.

Jannah, previously her divorce lawyer and now her friend, had told her a great deal about the gatherings of previous years. “Only women of color attend,” Jannah said. “No white people, no men. We can be ourselves.”

It sounded wonderful to Tashkent Auset. Ordinarily shy in company because she lacked money, social position, and advanced degrees, she knew she’d feel comfortable even though most of the women present would be strangers to her. Among other women of color there would be no one to disparage her dark skin, her homemade clothes, her lack of cosmetics. There would be no need to be careful of what she said for fear of offending white people’s feelings or disturbing their comfortable stereotypes.

Driving the rattletrap car she’d acquired after the divorce,Tashkent Auset sang as she drove to the gathering place. She hoped the other women would like the brownies she was bringing to the feast.

An hour earlier Jannah, too, had set off in her sleek little Morris Minor to Serafina’s place. In the trunk of her car was a cooler full of fried chicken—a cliché, Jannah thought dispassionately, but nonetheless delicious for all that—and a blueberry cake she’d made because it traveled well and required no messy frosting that would melt in the heat. She was looking forward to seeing the people she knew would be there—Celine, Serafina, and Tashkent Auset, for instance—and women she didn’t even know yet. It had been a tiring year so far, with one difficult case after another, but this weekend would be her time to swim, eat, dance, and thoroughly enjoy herself.

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Why I’m Tuning in to the Hillary Channel

Why I'm Tuning in to the Hillary Channel

If it hadn’t been for DailyKos front-pager Greg Dworkin’s link the other day, I would never have known about a statement in that diary. As a rule I don’t have time to read the APR when it’s fresh and hot; on this particular morning, however, Younger Son was late bringing the baby to my house, so I had time to look around the site and read whatever caught my fancy.

And this statement in a diary about Hillary and Bernie definitely caught my fancy:

Meanwhile, it is difficult for him [Bernie Sanders] to make inroads among women who are understandably excited about finally getting a woman president.

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Yes.

As much as I like Bernie Sanders—in fact an online test showed me that I agree with his policy positions 94 percent of the time—I plan to vote for Secretary Clinton in the primary (if we can call George W. Bush by his previous title of “President,” I can certainly call her “Secretary Clinton”) . If you’ll bear with me for a few minutes I’ll tell you why.