French toast and tea

Is there anything nicer than French toast on a cold clear morning?

You find me in a fine mood today. I woke on time, tossed on a robe over my nightgown, and made a pot of tea with time to spare before the witchlings wanted waking.

My first sip of First flush Darjeeling infused me with a warmth desperately needed after the past few icy days, and I decided this morning is an excellent one for French toast.

When the witchlings have school, they usually aren’t awake enough to eat much before classes. So baked oatmeals and protein muffins kept on hand for the cold months, also fantastic for a commuter with little time. This morning the kids had protein muffins, honey and almond flavored. Three each as these are quite small. They’re made in silicone baking cups shaped like roses and sunflowers, so the kids call them Almond Flowers.

So operating on the hobbit diet as they do, the break they get at 9 or so is the perfect time for second breakfast. Thus French Toast and tea.

Fia’s teacher is out sick today, so she’s stayed in her fluffy robe and rainbow slippers. She spent the morning with me in the kitchen going over a few lessons that aren’t on the schools curriculum. Folklore and foraging might not be important to the school, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t useful in life.

“Legends are lessons, they ring with truths!” Queen Elinor, Disney’s Brave.

Today Fia and I were discussing Old Man Winter, the Snow Queen, and Jack Frost. The insights from an eight year old can be quite fantastic. She’s taken bits of old stories, movies she’s seen, books that have been read to her, and made the most interesting collections of ideas. The conversation carried us through to her art class, the only one today not handled by her regular teacher and she’s pretty pleased with our afternoon plans.

She and I are to make a small expedition to the trees with Poppy, he knows which kind each are and if we go right after school when the sun is still high, he can point out the ones with edible nuts and fruits at various times of year. Also which logs the safe to eat mushrooms grow on, though she won’t be picking those herself for many a year to come, I’m 30 and have only been allowed for three years, most of that time under dad’s watchful eye.

There’s plenty other things for me to teach the witchlings, I’m still learning a lot myself, but we are all taking the time to learn together. They’re having a sewing lesson after dinner, sewing squares of cotton together for a small patchwork quilt. Nothing fancy yet, but a great starting place and lots of practice for small hands new to stitching.

I’ll leave you here dear friends, my afternoon looms ahead. Stay warm and cozy, and as always my dears, I wish you all quite well!

Snowed in with four kids

Feel like the title says it all here, but to be honest I probably need to get this out.

My brother needed a sitter because he and his wife have a death wish apparently. Our driveway is a clear sheet of ice, the road leading to our road is still yet to be attended to. We have three backroads minimum before we ever get to a maintained road. My little car couldn’t get the traction to move three feet today. My brother’s jeep is a much more effective prospect for this weather, it at least having four wheel drive.

My niece showed up without socks on and my nephew without sleeves under his coat. I fixed the problems accordingly, wrapping the little one in blankets and putting my nephew in a sweater as soon as I could grab him. The lytlings gave their father a hard time about getting ready today. They received no quarter from Auntie Kittie when they arrived. Both were made warm despite their protestations.

I had already set myself to making a cake and a new coffee log. My choice for dinner moved to gumbo when the chilled children came into my kitchen.

Nothing really warms the body like hot soups and stews. I had thought to make red beans and rice. Set them cooking in the morning and let them cook all day. With little ones underfoot however, this didn’t seem the best option any longer. Gumbo seemed a natural second choice.

If I can have a small moment here to rant, I’ve seen a lot of videos of people attempting to cook, emphasizing the term “attempting” here. My family delights in seeing me passionately make my displeasure and shock these people manage to stay alive on such foods as they make. But to be very clear, any good gumbo starts with a roux, this is flour and a fat mixed and heated. The roux should be dark, the color of milk chocolate or a little darker, and then you add whatever you’re adding for your gumbo. I like adding chicken and shrimp to the basic andouille gumbo, though pork and ham or even beef or venison is fine too. Rabbit I’m told is excellent, but I’ve not had the opportunity to try it.

Thanks for that, getting that off my chest was necessary. Anyways the cake I made was a lovely spice cake, with walnuts added last minute and a lemon glaze on top. I may not be Dame Mary Berry, but it was quite nice with a cuppa all the same. My nephew is sure this is the height of culinary achievement, and given his legendary food aversions, I’m well pleased.

It’s getting colder as it’s getting later, and my little witches have school tomorrow. Fia is tugging my hand to read paddington, Mimsy is well hidden behind the pages of Miss Peregrine’s. I’ve recited room on the broom for the lytlings and Stick man as well. Julia Donaldson has a way with rhyme that lends itself to memorization in a way Dr. Seuss lacks.

“Yes! cried the witch, and they all clambered on. The witch tapped the broomstick, and Whoosh! They were gone.” The final line of their favorite book, a fitting end for the long day with the lytlings, don’t you think?

Good night dear readers, I wish you all quite well, and hope your beds are warm and comfortable!

Sleet and cocoa

Waking today to gentle snowfall, I knew I’d not be managing much today. To be honest most of my day has been sipping cocoa and reading by the fire.

We set a pork roast cooking in the crockpot, and have a pot of green beans and new potatoes simmering lightly to go with the roast. A loaf of dark brown bread leftover from yesterday will pad out the meal and hopefully fill everyone up.

The witchlings are sitting by the fire now, cozy in their nighties with no inclination to try and go outside. I’m grateful for that, the last thing I need is another round of sniffles tearing through the family.

The sleet is scheduled to continue until the later bit of the night, and I’ll be concerned and nervy until that’s over. The roads are already messy, but there’s a chance it’ll get worse.

Dad is rewatching the Wartime Farm on Acorn, and I’m half wondering if he’s watching thinking about if we lose power, what we can manage without power, the camp stove, grill, and boil pot are all available for cooking or heating water. We’ve got plenty to eat and a sure amount of firewood lined up for the fireplace and woodstove.

I’ve got oil lamps and enough candles for a week. Of course I hope the power doesn’t go out, but I never hold out much hope in the cold months. Ice and trees make for unhappy bedfellows.

I’m going to spend the rest of my time till dinner knitting. Another pair of socks, a sweater, and a shawl, all projects set aside for a time just like this. I’m seriously debating taking some flannel I have and making us all some new long undies. Fia has certainly shown interest in a set from neck to toes after her since she’s been so cold today. Silly little thing’s spent the day by the window watching it snow and sleet, of course she’s cold!

They’ve taken a couple comforters and a cardboard bolt from some fabric I’d bought at goodwill and made themselves a tent on the sofa. They’ve got one of their tablets in there watching muppets.

Well the fire needs tending, and supper needs checking so I’ll leave you here, dear readers. Continued good health and warmth to you all. Until we meet again.

A tribute to Mouse

I come bearing sad tidings,dear readers. A cat held in high esteem, Mouse O’Malley, crossed the rainbow bridge this morning.

About a week ago he stopped eating, and was immediately taken to the veterinarian for care. Our sweet lad, belonging to my Aunt but beloved by both my mother and myself just as much, had developed all manner of problems in the last year, including a gum infection requiring the removal of his teeth, a sinus infection defiant of all treatment, and saddest of all, liver and kidney disease. We knew he wasn’t long for this world, and the decision was made after his last vet trip that his suffering should end.

My mother accompanied my aunt this morning for the last appointment, both were with him when his eyes closed, while I explained to my children what was happening.

Our lifestyle, with the farm and our animals here, have taken some of the shock of death from my witchlings. For this I’m grateful, the fear of loss is greater than the shock, so this conversation was far less awkward and more genuine emotion from them. Fia was confused at first, but she brightened at the thought he isn’t hurting anymore. Mimsy asked to come help when I went over.

I wasn’t going to let my aunt try to bury the poor cat by herself, not as cold as it’s been.

We did a small ritual for his spirit, an entreaty to Bastet and a wish for his memory to bring joy to the heart rather than tears to the eye. That he’d carry the bad luck away and carry our love and warm wishes along to those on the other side we love and miss.

His burial has had to be postponed, the ground is so saturated the hole filled with water before we could lay him to rest. My father and I will fashion him a very small coffin and scoop the water out before we try again.

I know this seems like a lot, but he meant the world to my aunt. He came away with her from a nasty divorce, to a stable loving home. They both went through so much. It’s hard to believe he’s really gone.

Someone once said that humans need a lifetime to learn love and kindness to others, our pets need less than a quarter that time and so their lives are shorter. I know for a fact that Mouse knew exactly these qualities, and our lives were better for having him in them. Wherever he is now, may he find the peace and comfort he so richly deserves.

This isn’t a great picture, you can’t see the orange blotch on his side that gave him his name, looks like the Mickey logo, but he was possibly the most camera shy feline on terra firma. I only got this shot because I was quick and careful not to let him see.

The majority of my day having been spent thusly, I shall bid everyone a good night, and hope tomorrow brings at least a nice day. May you all be well and your pets be cuddly

Take a minute

Good morning, dear readers, it’s been a while since I could write in the morning. The witchlings are doing their school work, Ian is asleep and Dad is reading in bed.

The animals have been fed and are content, the house is calm and my phone hasn’t delivered any devastation in 24 hours.

I’m sitting by my favorite window, watching birds and squirrels and the occasion chipmunk scurry about. My coffee is hot, very lightly sweetened and cooled just enough to sip by a splash of vanilla oatmilk creamer.

The remnants of the witchlings breakfast of toast and jam with cocoa have been rinsed and wait only for me to finish my coffee to wash everything up at one time. My bowl from porridge with spiced peaches is already sitting rinsed in the sink as well.

It’s warmer today, I’ll be able to leave off my second underskirt, maybe even manage with a wool cape rather than a heavy coat. i do have one that matches nicely with my favorite skirt and waistcoat.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately, and this year has started out very difficult indeed. For me and my family I mean. We began the year sick, afraid and uncertain. My mother’s family in an uncomfortable argument, my sister separated from her husband trying to start over from scratch, my brother in an unhappy marriage with two little children who’ve no idea what a loving relationship between their parents looked like.

The farm has suffered its setbacks as well, losing more than half the piglings and our poor old duck Claudia to the infection in her leg, we’ve dealt with so much this year already and January isn’t even half over. Grandpa getting so sick, that may have been the most frightening part of all.

But he’s come home, dad and I enlarged the weanlings pen, and the eight remaining piglings are thriving. Bex has an interview for a new job with less risk than she currently faces and a young man who’s been doing everything in his power to support her through her divorce. He’s steady and a good match for her.

My brother’s career is moving along nicely, and he’s becoming the father we all hoped he would to his children, both of whom adore him. He’s spending all his downtime with them now, and they’re the happiest I’ve ever seen them. His wife still refuses therapy, and it’s often still quite tense. But at this point I’ll take what I can get. My niece has begun calling herself Kiwi and claiming she’s a dragon. She has great fun roaring at the witchlings who cower with appropriate fear and deference for the pint sized beastie.

Mom and her sister seem to have mended fences, they’re both still livid with their younger sister, who no one has been able to reach since her father was hospitalized. She moved out to one of the hot dry states middle of last year and wouldn’t even give her mother her address. Mom wants nothing to do with her, my aunt I think is more hurt. I’m just flabbergasted. To leave one’s family in such a way and not even leave an address is mystifing.

I’ve got the kiddos coming out of class in a moment, I need to make them a snack. I’ll be back later hopefully, but after the past few weeks I make no promise. Until my return, I as always do wish you well.

A change in luck

I’ll knock on wood and whatever else, but it seems the luck is changing.

My grandparents are reunited today, Gran got to bring Grandpa home, with a home health nurse coming twice daily and a CNA to come out to help bathe him and care for his needs. He’s too weak to stand or sit up for extended periods of time.

I know it’s incredibly late, but as I’m sure you can understand, I’ve been very busy. Mom and I went to gran’s while she was dealing with doctors and such and we deep cleaned the house.

Wiping down every solid surface with Lysol, using hospital grade disinfectant for his bedroom. Mom and gran being nurses all those years certainly comes in handy at times like this.

The kids spent the time safe and sound with their grandfather, dad took them to the feed store and for milkshakes while we managed the disinfecting mission.

I’m bone tired once more but helped my grandparents. Any here that know my history know that’s a thing I’ll always do.

I bid you all good night, and I’ll wish you all good health and cheer, it’s a great feeling to know he’s coming home.

Worrying

Most of the past two days has been spent in a bit of a daze. Grandpa is in a hospital less than an hour away, alone and Quite sick still.

He’s responding to treatments and so far his prognosis is guardedly good, the doctors are hopeful and mom and gran are taking that as a positive.

I’ve been sticking fairly close to my mother, trying to be there for any news. Yesterday my grandmother spent most of the time resting. Mom made a chicken.

Today she had me get everything for Grans favorite meal, pinto beans with fried apples, collards greens, cornbread, and potatoes fried in bacon grease. I’m doing the grocery runs again, to give my disabled mother and grandmother a chance to heal fully. Even vaccinated the run in with the plague took a lot out of them.

I’m doing ok, very tired after today trying to help them cope worrying. Grandma was admittedly easier, as she’s quarantined and I’m just delivering Tupperware to her porch. It’s mama that worried me most.

She’ll run herself ragged trying to look after her mother. She’ll try and dispense information to everyone and not worry about herself until she’s so worn out she can’t get out of bed.

The worst of it is I can’t do anything to ease their worries. He had dozens of opportunities to get vaccinated, the science was there, there is no good excuse except an otherwise intelligent man being duped by the loudest voices rather than the wisest.

I’m remarkably angry with him, but in the same breath, I’m incredibly sad. A man that has been a loving grandparent to me, kind and determined to see me become the best possible human, to fall so easily for all the nonsense online, to his own detriment, well it’s heart wrenching.

I’ll update the state of things tomorrow, wish me luck. Until then dear readers I wish you good health!

A worried evening

My grandfather is in the hospital with Covid pneumonia, worrying about him and my grandmother means this will not be a post, more an announcement.

I will be going back to one post per day until further notice.

Picture of the piglings I was going to talk about some. They will wait till tomorrow.

I don’t know what the future holds, but please be patient with me while we deal with the continuing curveballs being lobbed at us. He’s nuttier than a Christmas fruit cake, but he’s grandpa, y’a know?

I’ll return tomorrow, hopefully with something positive to say. Until then, dear readers, being safe and well, that’s my fondest wish for you all. Adieu

A talk with Baba

I know I said I’d go more into William and his interactions with his coworkers. I promise that will come, but a partially sleepless night, and some tea and meditation time with some old podcasts led me to a knew understanding of my new old friend.

Spirits podcast has been mentioned here before and I dare say it’ll be mentioned again from time to time. But in listening to older episodes, I came across the author of an interesting book. Several now actually. Taisia Kitaiskaia is the author of Ask Baba Yaga.

I have a copy of these two books, which have lived on my shelf of semi witchy literature until roughly 11:30 last night.

If you haven’t read them, give them both a look! Even if it isn’t an interest in the Baba Yaga, the advice in them is fantastic.

I’m going more in depth with these books and listening to my intuition for now.

Ill be back this evening with more, I’ve been trying to ease back into two posts a day and I’m feeling the cognitive fog. Until then dear readers I do wish you all quite well.

A confusing book

A little while back, I mentioned my excitement at reading more about Baba Yaga.

In the simplest possible terms, I picked the wrong book.

Reading the description and the title led me rather astray. 

The book itself isn’t to blame, nor the author. Their experience of Baba Yaga is so far removed from my own it’s almost like two separate beings. The divinations I’ve done tell me I’m not, and I’ve been at this long enough to know when to trust my gut. The deity in question is Baba Yaga, but a side of her very different from the authors experience.

This makes sense to me, from what I know of folklore involving her, Baba Yaga is fairly unpredictable depending on who she’s dealing with. She has a way of living up to expectations while tearing them down. Coming in with expectations of any kind when dealing with the gods or the fae oof spirits or what have you, seems to be a recipe to miss nuances. I know we can’t complete subvert having any expectations, but I try to come in with the thought that I can’t really know anything from stories and legends.

Let me explain that a bit better. I can read as many books as I can get my hands on, read academic papers and listen to folktales and legends from the best storytellers I can find. I can get a clear image of the character in my head, but does that mean I know this being? Know what to expect from them? Not a chance!

That’s like saying I know a celebrity since I read the biography and autobiography, their press clippings and follow their twitter account. You can know about a being without any True familiarity. Coming in with these notions, is it really any wonder when the being in question plays to the typecasting?

I have to admit however, besides the differing interpretations of actions, I was a little put off by some of the gendered and Wiccanized language. Referring to Baba Yaga as a “divine feminine” and “the goddess” repeatedly put me off the book. Not unlike sitting across the table from someone who refuses to chew with their mouth closed or use basic table manners. The meal becomes rather unappetizing, and the book became similarly distasteful.

Now I’m very sure that a lot of Wicca practitioners would appreciate the nod, especially the perhaps older female type? But being that this is not me, the book is very simply not for me. That’s fine, I may see if my mom or aunt would like to give it a go, both came from a stronger background in Wicca, having come to witchcraft at the height of the new age and height of the Wicca popularity in the 90’s. It meshed better with their Appalachian upbringing. The southern Baptistness and Catholicism of their childhood did not take too kindly to the magic they experienced in their Nanny’s superstitions and knocking spirits.

Wicca, as I’ve said, didn’t mesh well with me. Too many rules, not enough information on key points of those rules. I’ve never been one to let a “it’s just bad” stop me from learning more.

This is not to say I go outside in the middle of the night to see what that weird noise was. Seen enough horror films to know the cute plump alt chick dies third or so when she goes to check on things. I’m quirky and plump and wanna live to a ripe old age thanks.

The point is, this book isn’t written for me, it might be just the ticket for someone else, but I’ll be continuing my research elsewhere. I have a lead, and the divinations I did earlier indicate this is the right way forward. I’ll report back with the outcome of these paths when I know more.

I’ll return tomorrow with the conclusion of the characters descriptions for Teawitching, to start what I hope to be a weekly sort of series. Until then, dear readers, I do wish you all quite well!