Painted Rock Cactus

I think this is a great idea. If you have the skill or pattern/ design to make it as detailed as this one is. Great idea for a rock garden, literally.

Katie Loves …a plant for those who lack any sort of green thumb. Paint smooth stones to look like cacti and nestle into a planter just the same. No watering or sunlight required.  Photo: El Nido de Mama Gallina

Source: A Painted Plant For The Gardening Impaired

How I Chose to be a Pagan Earth Witch

When I was about 20 I decided to look into religions. I knew the traditional Christian ways were not for me. I didn’t like they way these religions viewed women. I had just read a book where the women were put into isolation after having their period or giving birth, they were “unclean”. This was on top of growing up with the Adam and Eve mythology. From that point the Bible (written and rewritten by men) just goes on to look down on women, and worse. If I were a male, I would probably never have become Pagan. I would never have begun researching other religions and beliefs and looked deeper than the surface. Most likely I would have put religion behind me as not being all that important.

My Early Pagan Experience

I started with Witchcraft and Wicca because I found a book written in the 70’s. It’s a book I wouldn’t choose to read now but parts of it were enough to send me looking for more information from more reliable sources. I found a Pagan bookstore referred to in a book. I made the hour long bus trip to downtown Toronto and found the place. Entering for that first time was not easy. I felt daring and yet I also felt I was walking into a place I didn’t fully belong and might not be welcome. I wondered if they could see inside of me, my mind and my thoughts. Would they know what I was thinking, could they see my future and my past, my aura…? That was creepy.

The first thing that really happened was the smell. Ever since then I have noticed the same smell, strongly of incense over time, in every Pagan bookstore. I like pulling out a book I bought in a Pagan store. Even a couple of decades later I can smell it in the pages. If the smell ever goes away I don’t know. So far it hasn’t.

My adventure in that first Pagan store was intimidating. If I were less determined or less curious I doubt I would have tried another Pagan store. The people there did watch me and yet said nothing. Maybe they thought I was going to walk off with something, maybe they were just curious too, I won’t know and I didn’t ask then. I was already the shy type. I bought a book and a couple of polished rocks and I left, glad to be out of there. I was left with the feeling of not belonging and I never did go back to that store. Luckily there were others and more came along later.

Finding Where and How I Fit In

A few years more and the Internet came along too. By that time I was making my own decisions about what I believed and how I believed it. I didn’t accept Wicca as it came. I took what felt right to me and put it together with how I felt about the world and it’s people. I still believe this way; I’m very much an eclectic solitary type of Pagan. I gave myself the label of Earth Witch and I’ve stuck with that, to keep the explanation simple. To me an Earth Witch means I focus on the Earth, the natural and I don’t feel influenced by deities or magick. I believe we each create our own magick from ourselves and it is up to each of us to choose how to use it, or not use it.

I have written about my Pagan beliefs before but not shared much of my actual experience. I used to get email from young women who wanted to know more about being Pagan. The main thing they wanted to know was how to hide it from their parents. I was never behind this. For one thing, if you have to hide it, maybe you should rethink the whole thing.

I do understand that some families are very Christian and close minded or even afraid of Pagan ideas and Pagan ways. If that is the case and you are living at home, this is not the time for you to explore being Pagan. Wait until you can do it openly. In the meantime, there is no reason you can’t do simple things like have a collection of rocks, maybe some shells and feathers, keep a journal about your observations of nature, history and people. These are things you can do without upsetting your parents and family. You can be Pagan without having to prove you’re Pagan. Know it yourself and start there.

Nowadays…

For me, being Pagan is a personal thing. I mainly keep it to myself. I’ve found a local group with weekly meetings but I have yet to venture out and attend one. I think I will. Each time I have stepped out and met other Pagans I have enjoyed the experience and learned new things about history, religion and beliefs. But, I’m comfortable with what I believe now, the way my feelings about being an Earth Witch have evolved. So I’m not as eager to stir myself up as I was when I was younger and just starting to explore and discover.

Why I Like the Old Houses

I was asked to write why I like documenting the old, abandoned houses. I had different ideas in mind right away but none really fit. Since then other elements have come along and I’ve tried to build the full picture. Part of it the loneliness of the old place and yet their strength in standing, enduring.

Today, while watching a documentary about the geography under the Great Lakes I had another idea:

I like the old houses because they show our own history, the impact we have had on the land and at the same time the old places erode and become part of the physical geography, just another bump on the land of rocks, earth and water.

Storybook Style Stone Cabin

I didn’t see this in my look for storybook style houses. But I love it. I’m rock crazy so the combination of whimsical storybook with the rustic looking rocks is probably the perfect house for me. This comes from Hendricks Architecture.

See my other posts about Storybook Houses, start with this one.

Pretty for Spring Flowers

Spring is very much here. Outside the Spring flowers are blooming and… it’s been raining all day. Grass is green, robins are pecking around for worms and I’m ready to feel pretty again.

I found a “Blushing Necklace” at Nesting Pretty Things shop on Etsy.  Very pretty with that romantic, soft and slightly fragile look. She has some really lovely things in her shop.

Have a look at the recycled denim necklace. When I first noticed it I thought it was made of rocks. Kind of neat looking and yet not at all heavy to wear.

Nest Pretty Things has a decorating journal with pretty things.  Also a tumblog, on Tumblr.

Quietly an Earth Witch

I don’t blog about being Pagan very often. It’s a personal decision and something I mostly keep to myself. But, now and then I think of something to say to more than just myself.

When the Internet was newer there were some really good sites for Pagans. Also, many personal sites which were a mix of good and flamboyant. I don’t see many good sites still around. It’s a shame. Some of those which were my favourites have been gone a long time. It’s not an easy road to take, to put yourself out there as a Pagan and an authority on what being Pagan is. When I wrote a column about Wicca I would get a few upset emails but more often it would be questions from young women who wanted to know how to cope with family who disagreed with their choices.

I still think about those young women, now and then. I sent them replies, did my best to explain that for me being Wiccan (as I called myself at that time, it’s a bit more generic and easily understood) was all within myself and I did not need to tell anyone anything. I did hear back from a few of them, nothing long term though. I wonder how they did, if they understood what I was trying to say and if they stuck with being Pagan or changed/ evolved in another direction.

Anyway, for any young women who come across this and have the same issue. What I would most like people in general to understand about being Pagan is that it is personal and does not need to be displayed. You don’t need to buy the “Kiss me I’m Pagan” t-shirt, or the “I’m a Witch, I can put a hex on you” poster or all the fancy tools, jewellry and books available in Pagan and New Age stores. You don’t need to create elaborate rituals and altars. You don’t need to work on casting spells. I’m especially against spells as those are always about changing something in someone else. You can only change yourself.

Being an Earth Witch, as I call myself now, is inside of me. I’m quiet about it because I don’t need recognition for it. I don’t need to join a club to have someone else tell me I’m who I am. I don’t need to stick it to Christians. I don’t think I’m better than they are. I don’t want to upset them or try to make them understand what being an Earth Witch is about.

Being an Earth Witch, quietly, means I only change myself and all the magic comes from me as I work on being a better person and do my part to make the world better. If I am being the best person I can be then the world is that much better too. I don’t need to change the world or anyone else. I don’t need to broadcast who I am or stir up others. I let them do their best too and when I can I encourage them too. I don’t cast spells. I have love and respect for everyone, letting them have the benefit of my optimism.

Of course, there are people who let me down. There are people who have gone too far down the wrong road. I can’t even try to change them or feel I should. I can keep myself going, on the right road and in that way be a good example. I’m not perfect and don’t want to be. I just keep working on it. We are all works in progress after all.

So for young women who want to buck the system, insist their family accept them as Pagan and so on, stop! If you really do want to be Pagan, do it quietly. Be the best example of what being Pagan can be. Once your family see you doing well and being happy they will be happy and eventually they may see that being Pagan is part of that for you. If they see no reason to fear you being Pagan it will be just a little quirk, rather than a stand of aggression and rebellion.

A practical idea… if you want an altar and don’t want it to seem out of the ordinary, get a goldfish. A small goldfish bowl with water, rocks in the bottom, a red feather beside it gives you all the elements represented. You can think up something that will work better for you. But, as an example it shows that you can have an altar without anyone knowing it is anything more than a goldfish.

Best of wishes to all the quiet Pagans and Merry Season to everyone. 

Mookie Morris: Canadian Idol




Mookie Morris was eliminated from Canadian Idol this week. I did not expect him to be gone. He was my choice to be the Canadian Idol this year. So I’m surprised and disappointed. Some of the articles about the voting have said Toronto does not vote for the contestants from Toronto. I’m from Toronto originally and maybe it is true. I don’t think much about where they are from when I vote. I just vote for those I like. I voted for Mookie, over and over. I really wish he was going to be on next week and the week after, right up to the end.

The Mookie Experience on MySpace.

Toronto’s own Mookie Morris rocks Idol judges
July 21, 2008

Andrea Gordon

Mookie Morris, the easy-going baby in a brood of four, has always been called “the coolest Morris,” says his sister Deirdre.

Three weeks ago, Canadian Idol judge Zack Werner called the 18-year-old singer “the coolest guy in the history of the show.”

Quite a leap for a kid who started teaching himself to sing and play guitar four years ago, when a broken ankle put his elite AAA hockey season on hold.

Quite an inspiration for zillions of kids banging drums and plucking bass strings in basements all over the GTA.

Morris is one of the remaining nine Idol finalists, including fellow Torontonian Sebastian Pigott, who compete tonight to become one of the top eight.

“Yeah, it’s kind of a lot to take in,” Morris chuckled over the phone last week between rehearsals.

Nicknamed for former Blue Jay Mookie Wilson’s game-winning hit the evening he was born, the teenager (whose real name is Peter) honed his performing skills in garage bands and battle-of the-bands gigs around Toronto. “I must have been in about 10, I can’t even remember them all.”

After his ankle injury, he gradually eased out of hockey but diverted that same intensity to his music.

His first band was Gong Show, back in Grade 8. They got their start at a concert fundraiser set up by his brother in university. Deirdre Morris, 23, remembers Mookie rocking the house with his version of “Twist and Shout.” The college kids went crazy. A woman’s undergarment was flung on the stage.

Four years later, when he performed that classic at an Idol audition, judge Jake Gold said: “I really do believe you are a star.”

At Northern Secondary School, he was lead singer for Blind Sight, which attracted a loyal following to all-ages events at teen haunts like The Kathedral and Reilly’s. He finished his last school credits at City Academy in January and has been devoted to writing music, playing and “just trying to grow up” since then.

He’s registered for Concordia University in the fall, but says he’d rather end up following his musical dreams.

His mom, Julie Wang Morris, is still in shock. “These were kids who played in the garage!” she hollers over the phone. His dad plays piano and harmonica, she likes to sing and figures musical genes also came from her parents, who lived in a fishing village in Taiwan. Mookie, who she describes as “remarkably secure in himself,” is her only musical child.

She was one of those moms with a minivan who ferried guitars and amplifiers and wannabe rock stars all over the city on Friday and Saturday nights. She was also one of those parents who wasn’t too keen on the venues packed with pumped-up adolescents, questionable supervision, and lots of noise and body-slamming.

“I always worried,” she says. “But it was their only choice if they wanted to play.”

Guitarist Sean Fischer, 19, says Mookie is “a regular dude,” kind of shy. “And then once he starts to sing, he completely transforms.”

Over six-feet tall, dark-haired, brown-eyed and clad in punky blazers and Ts, his look inspired Idol judge Sass Jordan to once describe him as “Louis Armstrong meets Elvis Costello.”

“He has phenomenal presence and soul – you can hear it in his voice,” adds his bandmate, drummer Daniel Singer, 19. But audiences love him mostly because “he’s true to himself.”

That showed up in some of his unusual song choices for Canadian Idol.

Deirdre warned him against “Valerie” by British band The Zutons. Too obscure, she said.

He did it anyway. The judges loved it – it was what prompted Werner’s “coolest guy” compliment. And judge Farley Flex praised his understanding of “who you are, why you’re here and what you want to do.”

“Now I just keep quiet,” Dierdre says.

Last week was “a bit of a low point” though, as Mookie describes it. The response to his rendition of David Bowie’s little-known “The Man Who Sold the World” didn’t overwhelm. He and Pigott were both in the bottom three. The judges noted Toronto isn’t voting.

His mom and sister took matters into their own hands. They produced 300 “Vote Mookie” lawn signs, hung a giant banner over a Yonge St. overpass in their neighbourhood. They’ve organized another “Mookie Night in Canada” tonight at a pub to watch and vote.

Mookie meantime, is revelling in it all, but in his typical laid-back style.

Sure, he wants to win. But his ultimate goal: “just to be happy in life . . . I want to just be able to do music as a job, you know, go on tour, travel the world and record.”

Toronto Star

Thursday Thirteen

For the Thursday Thirteen: 13 Things I Like

1. Reading science fiction and the odd paranormal romance. Also reading fiction about web publishing and related topics.

2. Taking photos of abandoned farm houses or old buildings in general, the more fancy stone, iron and wood work the more I like them.

3. The way my hair looks when I brush it after a shampoo. It doesn’t look all that great if I get lazy and don’t brush it. Sadly, I get hair lazy quite often.

4. Having someone (preferably male) even sort of ask me out. Even sort of being asked out is nicer than the usual day of not being noticed and feeling like a big nobody.

5. Finding something really interesting and new (to me) in an area of arts. Especially if it is something I can do myself or find a way to adapt and do myself. DIY is great.

6. Being a grrl. Even if I am not into all the fashion and beauty which is like a female law (look at all those guys who want to be grrls, they seem to OD on it or is that really just a stereotype?) I am still a woman and I wouldn’t want to be a guy.

7. Rocks. I’m not sure what causes my fascination with stone, rocks, polished pebbles, etc but I can not see a photo of rocks and not stop and look. I have rocks collected which are somewhere around here in all the clutter.

8. I like not having a routine. Or, as little routine as I can get away with not having. I don’t like words like duty. My Grandmother loved words like that. She thought I was crazy, literally, not as a joke in any way.

9. Coffee when it’s lovely and smooth and not sweet. French vanilla and caramel lattes are really good. Gingerbread used to be good but was kind of yucky over the holidays this year. I think they tried to make it fit what they thought people wanted instead of just sticking with a good thing when they had it.

10. My eyes. Or would that be my eyeballs since you can’t really have one without the other. But I like my eyelids too, they fit nicely around my eyeballs and keep them from falling out. My eyes are blue. But not literally, I’m not a space alien.

11. I like holidays when we get paid to not go to work. But I like them for the spirit of being something special we can look forward to each year. It is kind of weird to think that the holidays will still be there, every year, even long after I’m not still here. Not that I’m making plans to not be here. I just didn’t get any guarantee otherwise.

12. I like blogging. Real personal blogging where it is just here for me to experiment with. I like that people read it and give opinions and feedback and ideas. Thank you to everyone who does read this and extra thanks for comments. I read them all and I do make some effort to visit in return and leave a comment so you know I was there. I’m not always successful at returning visits and I feel crushing (well not crushing entirely) guilt over it.

13. Dragons. I’m a wood dragon by Chinese astrology. It is the only “fantasy” (meaning fantastic and likely overly blown ego) creature in the zodiac. Kind of nice to be unique (among the masses of dragons) in some way. I don’t let it go to my head. Sure I don’t.

The Monster in my Eye

New tagline for this blog… “Exploring myself, one rock at a time.”

So, how are the rocks in your head today? Mine are clunking around up there. I think I almost was asked out today at work. I’ve never had a guy actually pursue me. It would be nice. Seems I am usually the one who starts things, arranges get togethers and such. It’s not the same as having someone else do the work, the planning and the asking. It would be nice to be pursued. I’m not going to hold my breath. I will hold my breath many years from now, when it won’t matter any more as far as having oxygen in my brain. Maybe, it will work, I’ll finally get all those things I wasn’t going to hold my breath for. That would be an interesting time in my life, if I could live to see it.

Can your eyeballs still function on some level once you are brain dead? There’s a new horror movie in the making.

The best ideas for horror come from every day real things. We take so much for granted. Yes, the bus doors will open – the bus driver isn’t about to fly off the handle and haul everyone around all day against their will. Yes, the coffee you make that morning is about the same as the coffee you made yesterday morning – there wasn’t a stow away venomous spider hiding in the coffee beans. Yes, your eyeballs are still your same old eyeballs – an alien didn’t drop down into your room last night and replace them with marbles or some other weird alien eyeballs. Horror and science fiction can just have so many endless spins put on a simple idea.

Day off tomorrow! Ha ha ha!!! and more mad scientist evile laughter Can’t decide if I should sleep in first or go grocery shopping. Oh, the excitement!…

I did my laundry yesterday so I spoiled that part of my weekend of fun. Too bad. I will just have to get over it.

Next weekend is a pay cheque weekend. I may actually do something that involves wearing laundry (clean) and spending money on something less than practical. I could even go all out and give that guy at work my email address and the mention of going for a Rrrroll up the Rrrrim (coffee at Tim Hortons). See how that happens, the not being pursued thing? Is it because I’m just not patient? Perhaps. I do like to get started once I decide on something.

One last bit of babble.. I think the coffee I bought from Second Cup a couple of weeks ago is NOT french vanilla. It does not taste right at all. I had the caramel first so didn’t start what should have been french vanilla until today. I don’t like whatever it is I have instead of french vanilla. I think it might be one of those with a nut flavour. Now I have two bags of it, whatever it is. Kind of aggravating when it was not cheap AND the guy at the store made some major goof up and sold me twice the amount of coffee I asked for. I really doubt they would go for letting me return it for real french vanilla now. Look, there’s another idea for a horror story. I’m just full of them today. Rocks and monsters, that’s what I’ve got in my head.