wheel of the year

A Very Mushroom Christmas


Leaving Leaves (and the magical life beneath)

Why am I (mostly) leaving my leaves alone?

I love leaves! They are beautiful, not to mention beneficial.

Ecologically, leaves serve many purposes.

1. Natural (and free) mulch to protect plants from brutal winter temperatures.
2. Wildlife habitat. Leaves are home to salamanders, chipmunks, box turtles, toads, shrews, earthworms, many insects species.
3. Natural (and free) fertilizer. As they decompose, leaves add plenty of nutrients to the soil.

It has always seemed unnatural to me that folks rake them up to display browning winter grass. Seems like that grass is just begging for a blanket!

Some even put them in plastic bags to be hauled to the landfill – what a waste!

Now, for the magic part.

Leaves are fairy blankets of course! And one must always appease the fairies, else suffer all manner of ill luck.


Grandma Martin’s Cheese Straws


Granny Cake

Granny Cake

1 1/2 cup sugar
2 cup flour
1/2 tsp. salt (omit if using self-rising flour)
1 tsp. baking soda (omit if using self-rising flour)
2 eggs
1 (20 oz.) can crushed pineapple in its own juice (including juice)
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup evaporated milk
1/2 cup sugar
1 stick margarine
1 tsp. vanilla

Mix the sugar, flour, salt, soda, eggs and pineapple together and pour into a 9 x 13 pan. Sprinkle the top with one cup brown sugar and one cup chopped pecans. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Cook the milk, sugar, margarine and vanilla until mixture comes to a rolling boil. AFTER THE CAKE HAS BAKED AND RIGHT OUT OF THE OVEN, pour the cooked milk mixture over the entire cake.

wheel of the year winter solstice

Winter Solstice 2016

As all of nature retreats to rest, it is fitting that we keep with the natural cycle and do the same. This is a wonderful time to rest, reflect, and dream.
For out of the darkness, new life will eventually emerge. And what emerges is largely up to us…

Here are some of the things I will be doing this winter, along with a few very quickly drawn illustrations.

Welcome the return of the sun!

Slow down. Rest. Dream. Become clear on your goals and dreams. Imagine the seeds you would like to plant in the coming spring.
Tonight is the longest night of the year…whatever you dream on this night is magic and can contain insight to guide us.

Care for yourself, tend to your needs. Drink hot chocolate.

Think of ways to genuinely help our world and make a plan to do what you can…

Let go of grudges and anything else that does not serve you. If it is weighing you down and not lifting you up, let it go.

(yes, it is that easy)

Do something fun. Learn something new.

Smile. All is well in the Universe. You have the potential to manifest. Use it for good.

Be gentle with one another. Be kind. And most of all, love.


My Landbase – Spring

I live in what is known as the Balls Creek area of the Catawba Valley. North Carolina, USA. It is mid spring. While the early spring brought plenty of rainfall, it has been dry here for a few weeks now, and we sure could use some rain. I have been wandering around my yard, a 3/4 acre mostly wooded lot built on top of an old iron mine. It is a challenge to get things to grow here. Even when there is plenty of rain, the ground here is hard as a rock. Digging just a small hole to plant a new bush or flowers will reveal large rocks and tree roots, with very little workable soil. Since My lot is primarily shaded, I embrace the shade lovers.

The Rhododendron

The rhododendron was planted just last year. I am very pleased with the growth and the flowers are just incredible. I will plant more of these.


The Moss

The Magic of Moss and What It Teaches Us About the Art of Attentiveness to Life at All Scales

“Life [exists] only because of a myriad of synchronicities
that bring us to this particular place at this particular
moment. In return for such a gift, the only sane response
is to glitter in reply.”


The Woodspirits


The Choral Bells

The choral bells delight me. My Mom and I used to sing this song when I was growing up. In fact, we sang it again the other day when I took this photo. The bells are not prominent in this photo, but this plant has a special place in my heart and on this list.

“White Coral Bells
Upon a slender stalk
Lilies of the valley deck my garden walk
Oh, don’t you wish that you might hear them ring?
That will happen only when the fairies sing.”


The Fern

Nothing is more mysterious or beautiful than ferns unfurling in the sun-dappled shade of the woodland on a spring afternoon. Ferns are the ancient ones of the plant kingdom, unchanged in appearance for millions of years. Ferns have long been linked to magic in the garden and the home. particularly valued for their protective vibrations. Thrown on a fire or smoldering embers, dried fern repels all evil.
Adepts of long-ago included ferns in luck and prosperity magic. Include a bit of fern leaf in a money attracting bundle. To attract the fairy folk, place a small shiny object among a clump of ferns at Beltane or Midsummer. –James Kambos


The Hosta


the troll tear

A Children’s Story for Samhain by D. J. Conway

The night was very dark, with a Full Moon hanging in the cloud-filled sky above. The air was crisp with the feel of late Autumn and the doorway between the worlds was wide open. Carved pumpkins sat on the porches of the houses in the little town, and the laughter of children dressed in costumes could be heard from the streets.

It was a sad time for Beth as she climbed the little hill behind her house. In her arms was her cat and friend Smoky, carefully wrapped in his favorite blanket. A little grave was already dug on the hill, waiting, for Smoky had died that day.

“Do you want me to go with you?” Beth’s father had asked.

“No, I want to go by myself,” she answered. “I dug his grave beside MacDougal’s at the top of the hill.” Beth clearly remembered when their dog MacDougal had died after being hit by a car.

Beth stopped at the top of the hill and knelt beside the little grave. She carefully laid Smoky’s blanket-wrapped form in the earth and covered it with dirt, laying several large rocks on the top. Then she cried and cried.

“Oh, Smoky, I miss you so much!” Beth looked up at the Moon, tears streaming down her cheeks. “Why did you die?”

“It was his time to rejoin the Mother,” said a deep, gentle voice in the darkness.

“Who said that?” Beth looked around but saw no one.

“Dying is part of the cycle of life, you know.” One of the boulders on the hill stirred into life

“Who are you?” The moonlight shone down on the little woman, and Beth could see she was not human.

“I’m a troll-wife,” said the creature as she came to site across from Beth. “This is a sad night for both of us, girl. I, too, came to this hill to bury a friend.” The troll-wife wiped a crystal tear from her cheek. “The squirrel was very old. Still it makes me sad.”

Beth stared at the troll-wife. The little woman was the color of rock in the moonlight, her hair like long strands of moss, her bright eyes like shining crystals. She wore a dress woven of oak leaves and tree bark.

“The squirrel and I lived together for a long time,” the troll-wife said. ” We often talked to your cat when he was hunting here on the hill. Smoky and I were friends. I shall miss him, too.” The little woman patted Smoky ‘s grave gently, “Sleep well, little friend. When you are rested, we shall talk together again.”

“But he’s dead,” Beth said, her voice choked with tears.

“Child, this is Samhain. Don’t you know the ancient secrets of this sacred time of year?” The troll-wife motioned for Beth to come and sit beside her. “It is true that our friends have gone into a world where we can no longer physically touch them, but the Mother has given us other ways of communicating with them. We can do this any time, but the time of Samhain is the easiest.”

“I don’t understand how this can be done,” Beth said, “or why Samhain makes it easier.”

“At this time of year,” the troll-wife answered, “the walls between this world and the world of souls and spirits are very thin. If we quiet and listen, we can hear our loved ones and they can hear us. We talk, not with spoken words, but with the heart and mind.”

“Isn’t that just imagination?” Beth looked down at Smoky’s grave, tears once more coming into her eyes. “Like my thinking I can feel MacDougal get up on my bed at night like he used to?”

“Sometimes it is, but mostly it is not imagination, only our friends come to see us in their spirit bodies.” The troll-wife reached up her hand and patted something Beth couldn’t see on her shoulder. “Like my friend the raven. He is here now.”

Beth looked hard and saw a thin form of hazy moonlight on the troll-wife’s shoulder. “I’ve seen something like that at the foot of my bed where MacDougal used to sleep.” She whispered. “I thought I was dreaming.” She jumped as something nudged her arm. When she looked down, nothing was there.

The troll-wife smiled. “Close your eyes and think of MacDougal,” she said. ” He has been waiting a long time for you to see him.”

Beth closed her eyes and, at once, the form of her little dog came into her mind. His tail wagged with happiness. She felt a wave of love come from him, and she sent her love back. Then she felt the dog lie down against her leg.

“Can I do this with Smoky?” Beth asked.

“Not yet,” the troll-wife answered. “He needs to sleep a while and rest. Then he will come to you. This gives Smoky time to adjust to his new world, and you time to grieve for him. It is not wrong to grieve, but we must not grieve forever.”

“I never thought of it that way,” Beth said. “It’s kind of like they moved away, and we can only talk to them on the phone.”

“It is this way with all creatures, not just animals.” The troll-wife stood up and held out an hand to Beth. “Will you join me, human girl? Although I buried my friend squirrel this night, I still must dance and sing to all my friends and ancestors who have gone on their journey into the other world. For this is a time to honor the ancestors.”

Beth joined the troll-wife in the ancient slow troll dances around the top of the little hill in the moonlight. She watched quietly while the troll-wife called out troll-words to the four directions, words Beth couldn’t understand. Deep in her heart the girl felt the power of the strange words and knew they were given in honor and love by the little troll-wife.

When the troll-wife was finished with her ritual, she hugged Beth. “Go in peace, human child,” she said. “And remember what I have told you about the ancient secret of Samhain.”

“I will,” Beth answered. “Will I ever see you again?”

“Whenever the Moon is Full, I will be here,” the little troll-wife said. ” And especially at Samhain.”

“I wish I had something to give you.” Beth hugged the little woman. “You have taught me so much.” She felt the tears come to her eyes again.

“Let us exchange tears for our lost friends.” The troll-wife reached up a rough finder and caught a tear as it fell from Beth’s eye. The tear glistened on her finger. The troll-wife gently touched her finger to her cloak, and Beth’s tear shone there like a diamond in the moonlight.

Beth reached up carefully and caught one of the troll-wife’s tears as it slid down her rough cheek. It turned into a real crystal in her hand.

“Remember the secret of Samhain, and remember me,” the troll-wife said softly as she disappeared into the darkness. Beth walked back down the hill, the crystal clutched in her hand. Her father was waiting for her on the porch.

“Are you all right?” her father asked as he gave Beth a hug.

“I will be,” she answered. She opened her hand under the porch light and saw a perfect, tear-shaped crystal lying there.

“Did you find something?” her father asked.

“A troll-tear,” Beth answered, and her father smiled. For he also knew the little troll-wife and the secret of Samhain


A very small animal

Animal so shy and small,
Dreaming you were Bold and Tall —
You hesitate, all sensitive,
Waiting for a chance to live.

Time is swift, it races by:
Opportunities are born and die…
Still you wait and will not try —
A bird with wings who dares not
rise and fly.

But that You you want to see
Is not you , and will never be.
No one else will ever do
The special things that wait
inside of you.

You can be a guiding star,
If you make the most of Who You Are.
And the sensitivity
That you’re now ashamed to see
Can be developed even more,
So you can find the hidden doors
To places no one’s been before.
And the pride you’ll feel inside
Is not the kind that makes you fall —
It’s the kind that recognizes
The bigness found in being Small.

– A song from Pooh summing up Piglet
From The Te of Piglet by Benjamin Hoff


May all beings be happy

May all beings be happy.


Cat Town Jazz