The case of the glittertastic file cabinet

01

Did you ever start a craft project and then get carried away? That’s me. Carried Away Craft Girl.

It started so simply. My desk is white. My bookshelves are white. The tiny file cabinet that I got on clearance at Staples only came in oatmeal.

02

All I had to do was paint it white.

End of story.

03

 

No, that’s not the end of the story. I got a few coats of white chalk paint on there and all it needed was a top coat. One last step and it’s done. When suddenly I wondered what would happen if I used a purple glitter paint for the top coat. I couldn’t stop there; I had to do the trim in purple too.

04

The only thing missing is the unicorns and rainbows.

You don't really get the full effect unless the light shines directly on it.

You don’t really get the full effect unless the light shines directly on it.

So now I’m eyeing the trim on the desk and bookshelves, paintbrush in hand. Something else needs a splash of purple. You know, to make it match. And because I let my inner twelve year old decorate.

06

I may blog more carried-away crafts, because the truth is that my projects never seem to end the way I intended at the outset.

(BTW, on the second day of this piece sitting out to dry, my husband walked past it and said, “You know, it’s actually starting to grow on me.” Myself, I’m wondering if chalk paint alone will cover it or if I need primer first.)

In which I return to my blog

flower

Let me tell you about my summer:

Thunderstorms. Daily. The end.

(I know what you’re thinking. How much excitement can one summer hold?)

Let me tell you about my blogging:

I used to write here. And I was happy. Then I started to write at Patheos. And I was unhappy. For awhile, I didn’t write anything at all. Now, I am writing here. And I am glad.

What else has been going on?

  • My husband and I have been binge-watching The Office (US) and we’re at the end of season six.
  • We’re making some Big Plans but they’re in the too-early-to-discuss-yet stages.
  • I’ll be turning 40 this Lammas Eve. That’s really soon. I used to think I’d run a marathon the year I turned 40, but I was clearly overambitious. I have been doing some squats, though. That’s…not really similar. But it’s something.
  • One of my sons is about to start his senior year and we’re doing all the get-into-the-program-you-want-in-college planning.
  • I may do some crafty household projects and if/when that occurs, I will share them here.
  • I’ve been really inspired by the whole “Illustrated Faith” movement that Christian woman have been sharing all over Pinterest and Instagram. I need to find a way to incorporate this into my totally-not-Bible-based spirituality. I’m the kind of person who already has Micron pens and washi tape and watercolor pencils lying around.

Summer is always a bit slow around here but the weather this year and the fact that we had some unexpected expenses come up have made this one especially blah. I have a lot of ideas brewing, though, and I expect the next few months to be productive.

What about you? How has your summer been so far? What’s going on in your life?

Antlered God

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Last week my parents stayed at a bed and breakfast in Amish country. We drove out there to meet them for lunch and it was such a nice change of pace. It was so quiet and calm there that when we came back to our small town it looked like we were entering a large city. While we were there we didn’t just see horses. We took a wagon ride through a ranch and saw this majestic deer up close. I’m not sure what kind he is; he’s not the white-tailed deer I’m used to seeing in Ohio.

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Zen and the Craft of the Kitchen Witch

I got this picture from Pinterest.

I got this picture from Pinterest.

I need a new broom. I’ve been on a massive decluttering streak lately and when I decluttered my patio and swept it clean, I didn’t want to bring the broom back inside and bring outdoor dirt into my kitchen. So I left it as an outside broom and now I need a new inside broom.

I thought of the fact that Deborah Blake has a recent book called The Witch’s Broom. I thought of the group in town that sets up at the Strawberry Festival each year; they sell beautiful handcrafted besoms. The Strawberry Festival, though, is at the end of May and I need a broom sooner. I was thinking of the broom I’d get in the meantime and the symbols I might add to the handle, when I realized:

This is mindfulness.

Usually mindfulness is associated with Buddhism. I realized that Witchcraft is also about mindfulness. I could just add “broom” to the grocery list and grab whatever the store has at the time and never give it another thought. Or I could contemplate the broom and intentionally buy a certain color or style of broom and infuse the broom with my desire to cleanse the room of negativity as I sweep. Then, each time I use the broom, instead of a haphazard act, I can make it a spiritual act. I don’t have to, but I can.

It was this kind of thing that made me call this blog “Mistress of the Hearth” in the first place. Making the mundane magical. Putting intention into the meal when I cook or blessing the checkbook when I pay bills. Instead of letting things be “just chores” that I rush through so I can get to the better parts of life, I can make each chore a meditation.

I don’t do this with everything every time. Sometimes I rush through cooking dinner because we’re hungry and sometimes I even resent that my celiac means I can’t just randomly pick a restaurant and show up without studying their menu online and finding out if they have anything safe. But when I slow down and chop each vegetable with love and attention, it is a form a mindfulness that I call Kitchen Witchery.

The aesthetics differ — Witchcraft doesn’t look like Zen. We all have to “chop wood, carry water.” Underneath appearances, Zen and Kitchen Witchery both practice mindfulness while chopping the wood and carrying the water. Or sweeping the kitchen.

An announcement

I’m officially bloggging at Patheos now. Mistress of the Hearth isn’t moving, and I’m not at the Pagan channel there. I actually have a new blog at the Hindu Channel called Gathering Nectar. I chose not to move any of the old posts over there (though I may rewrite some of them). I’ve always felt confused about what I was doing with Mistress of the Hearth. Now I have a clearer vision of how I’ll write about Hinduism  to my heart’s content at Patheos and keep a personal blog here. Please stop by Patheos and say hi; there are always crickets on a brand new blog!

Circle is cast

A picture of people taking picture of Krishna. You can't actually see Krishna in this picture.

Ritual in the 21st century: a picture of people taking pictures of the altar.

At Wiccan rituals, people are asked to remove watches, set aside cellphones, and step between the worlds. At Hindu rituals, not so much.

If you’re used to delineating sacred space before you start ritual, you may be surprised to see how pujas take place right in the midst of life, with children playing, people coming in and out, and an iPod blaring a Sanskrit chant.

I can see the wisdom in both methods. There is a profound peace when you cast a circle and know that you won’t be disturbed for the next hour. There is also practicality to inviting deity into your life as it actually is. Some people feel they don’t have time for ritual when their kids are little, but children are not a hindrance to doing puja, even if they climb on your lap one minute and run out of the room the next.

When I go to Krishna Janmashtami, I don’t usually spend much time listening to the talks. There are so many other things going on. This year I sat a long time — at least a few hours — listening to the speakers. I listened until I was distracted by my body telling me it couldn’t sit on a metal folding chair any longer and demanded I walk around a bit.

Last week I went on a news fast for a few days because I’d been struggling with some depression and the state of the world right now is not helping. Sometimes the news has actionable stories, and I end up signing petitions or whatever. But when it’s an onslaught of things you can’t do anything about, like whether the Yazidis survive, it just adds to the feelings of hopelessness.

As I listened to the talks, I was surprised by how much the news crept in. Maybe I found it jarring because I’d been news fasting beforehand.

One story was about how Krishna killed the evil king Kamsa and installed a good king, but neighboring kings who had been friends with Kamsa were angry and started causing problems. They were like ISIS, we were told (he didn’t pronounce the name of the terrorist group like the Greek name of the Egyptian goddess, he said, “eye ess eye ess”).

Later in that story, another king worshiped the Sun (Surya), who bestowed on him a gem that has the power that no one in the kingdom will suffer pestilence. The speaker talked a little about Ebola and how many people have died and what it would be like to have a stone that kept Ebola from your land.

In a later talk, someone asked, “What does it mean to surrender to Krishna?” That speaker, a large black man, thought for a minute and said that it’s not like what we think of as surrender. “It’s not like if I surrender to the police so they won’t shoot me. That’s a bad kind of surrender.”

My 16 yr old son said later that he’d appreciated how the talks incorporated current events that made it easier to understand and relate to the stories. I get that. But I also felt profoundly sad. Lately I’ve been feeling a sadness like a cloud around me. I can’t see it but it permeates the air I breathe. I grew up in a town with a steel mill and there were occasional pollution warnings. It might look fine outside, but we were told it was better to stay inside as much as possible for a day or two.  This depression that I’ve been struggling with feels like it’s in the air like that. It might look like a bright sunny day, but I’m inhaling invisible despair.

Most people at Janmashtami had cellphones and a few people were using laptops. We take a camera that is not a phone, but this year we took a cellphone and we did check messages at one point. Earlier in the day my mom had told me that my dad was having shortness of breath and she thought it was because the doctor changed the dosage of his blood pressure meds. I wanted to make sure I didn’t miss a call, like I did on Yule 2010, when I logged onto Facebook late in the day and there was a message from my aunt telling me that my mom had tried to call me earlier and that my dad had a heart attack. (This time, my dad not only felt better, but they took a trip to Amish country yesterday).

There has never been a time that I wished the celebrations at the Krishna House were conducted like a Wiccan ritual. My younger son isn’t interested in sitting through six hours of spiritual stuff, and I like knowing that he’s running around with other kids and checking in once in awhile. Contrary to casting a circle, the atmosphere not only allows children to be kids, but also allows adults to stop by without committing to a six-hour stay. It’s more like the Christmas Eve parties my aunt held when I was little, at which my parents arrived at six and stayed until after midnight, but dozens of friends and family members and neighbors would pop in for a few minutes on their way to church or to another party.

Still, I feel the need for deep ritual work that doesn’t involve iPod music or people coming and going, or swirling mists of this terrorist organization, that deadly outbreak, police militarization, and my dad’s dwindling health. I want to step out of this worrisome time and into timelessness. I want to create sacred space and leave the phone and clock and WiFi connection outside of it. I want to step out of the cloud of depression and into the realm of possibility.

I want to protect the part of me that still believes in magic.

“The circle is cast, and we are between the worlds.” Blessed be.