When you don't know your ancestors.

This weekend, Chris and I are going away for Samhain to Four Quarters Farm.  In college, this was the typical call to us at this time of the year.  If you're not familiar with what Samhain is, take a look at this brief primer on Samhain.  At the farm, the legacy that we're part of includes the Labyrinth at Four Quarters.  This labyrinth is a guide for meditation and has been built by volunteers since 2005.  It's not easy work - the granite must be set deep into the ground, and the weather conditions aren't always ideal.  But the student group at Penn State that Chris and I met at, Silver Circle, has a long legacy of leading the labyrinth dig twice each year.  

This is absolutely the first photo of Chris and I together.  Taken Samhain 2008, we had met about a month beforehand.  This was our first visit to Four Quarters.

This is absolutely the first photo of Chris and I together.  Taken Samhain 2008, we had met about a month beforehand.  This was our first visit to Four Quarters.

Traditionally a time when ancestors are venerated and spoken with, Samhain is a favorite of many Pagans.  I think Samhain is really special to us, since we're able to be more socially "out" than other times of the year.  It's not during every holiday that our observances so neatly line up with more mainstream (read: acceptable) cultural celebrations.  Granted, Halloween barely touches the surface of Pagan practices.  It doesn't mean we can't enjoy a reprieve from appearing as secular as possible.

For me, Samhain has always been enjoyable.  The problem is, I've never felt truly able to connect on a deep level with Samhain rituals or practices.  I participate, I pay respect to those who have passed on, but there's a block for me nonetheless.  

What are you to do, when you don't know your ancestors?

Some of you may know this already; my father died when I was seven years old.  His mother, my grandmother, died in 1985, four years before I was born.  When my father died, there was a falling out between my mother and his father, my grandfather, because she decided to move us away from the town we all lived in.  This was a complicated decision, I'm sure.  I was too young to truly understand the dynamics of my family, and the issue is that I still don't understand much more than the basic facts, and that my mother needed to leave the house that reminded her of my father.  My Grandpa Yukevich died many years later, in 2012.  What I do understand is that aside from distant descendants who are still living (and possibly close to me in age, or at least in my generation), the death of these people left my sister and me as the last two Yukevich's we knew of.

The simple solution to this problem, the struggle of not knowing who I came from, would be to ask someone about the ancestors.  But I will tell you that this solution is easier said than done.  There's never a good time to bring this up to your mother, who lost her husband swiftly and unexpectedly, and is likely still grieving in some way.  I don't quite think we ever stop grieving those that we lose.  Everyone is different in this regard, but out of respect for her heart, I can't at this time bear to ask her for a history.

So.  If I can't talk to anyone (at least just yet), what do I do? 

First, I need to stop feeling like it's my fault that I don't know my ancestors.  It would be my fault to not learn about them now that I've felt the pull, but it's not anyone's fault that they cannot easily learn from someone who is no longer living.  We are only human, and we cannot control these things that make us the most human.

At the farm, I'll be participating in many rituals in many forms.  In the Stone Circle there is an Ancestor Table that attendees decorate with tokens of those we wish to remember and honor.  I'm not sure if dinner this year is a Dumb Supper, but we will at the very least be feasting with the Dead.  A ceremony in the evening will occur in the Stone Circle, and afterwards, we will undoubtedly share stories and reminisce with mead and more at the fireside. I don't know what I'm in store for in the ritual, but I am ready.  

A hope of mine is to create space to talk with the ancestors more regularly.  I'm imagining that I will consistently make offerings to them in my home, and to speak with them more frequently.

Another move that I'll be making to supplement the knowledge I've accumulated from Ancestry.com is to take a DNA test.  While I know many broad details of my family history, and some smaller details as well, there are gaps.  I'd like to fill as many gaps as possible.

And of course, there will come a day when I have to ask the questions to those it will hurt the most.  I'll get there.

If you're wondering more about Samhain, look at the two links below for more perspective.

Pagan Authors at Samhain

Ancestor Worship in Modern Witchcraft

Four Quarters Farm - Samhain

Making a Protection Jar

Without going into so many identifying details, there was a situation where I felt I needed a buffer between myself and another person several months ago.  I needed a safeguard, a warning, a "hey, stop that!" to go between me and an individual.  A reflex, when you touch something prickly or sharp, and you recoil.  You don't touch it again without a really good reason.  I wanted distance, and I wanted that person to realize that I was serious, and their treatment of me hurt and shouldn't happen again.

More generally speaking, another component of the protection jar was to stop people from intruding on my schedule - I felt really crushed by expectations and needed a little more sensitivity in regards to time.  I'm not always good at standing up to people, and I didn't think that this particular person would be empathetic to me.  

I collected all of my components, and the jar was made on a full moon, so it could work during the waning moon as a banishing.  The jar I used was a simple spice jar (now holding cat whiskers that the girls have lost through normal shedding).

Into the jar went thistles for protection and severity, mint for invigoration, yarrow for protection of psychic boundaries, a charged quartz crystal, and "Please Go Away" incense that I was gifted by a Silver Circle member over the summer.  

Tiny thistles in a jar.

Tiny thistles in a jar.

Yarrow.  Extremely multi-purpose.

Yarrow.  Extremely multi-purpose.

A note: the thistle, mint, and yarrow were all grown organically and locally.  Since I wasn't ingesting any of these items, the argument could be made the need for them to be organic isn't strong.  However, I feel committed to using sustainably and joyfully grown, small batch plant materials whenever possible.  The plants are more powerful and happier in their soil, and I feel a difference in these from the imported alternatives.  

I don't have any photos of the finished jar - I'll leave that image to your imagination.  Making the protection jar was cathartic for me, and I have no doubt that there was an affect.  This was witchcraft as recourse.  

What protections have you done for yourself?  

 

October: 10 of Pentacles

The final card in the suit of pentacles, and it’s almost difficult to see the illustration behind the pentacles on the card itself.  If the ten of each suit indicates completion or fullness, then the ten of pentacles is abundance upon abundance. 

Ten of Pentacles from my Rider/Waite/Smith deck.

Ten of Pentacles from my Rider/Waite/Smith deck.

When I drew this card for October, I was really excited about it.  This card depicts bustling activity, and the suit of pentacles relates to fullness and richness of the material realm.  This card also served as a bit of a gentle warning to me. 

My card for January was the Page of Pentacles, which I took to be the beginning of an internal journey through my relationship with finances, provision, and my home.  To see that the suit has been completed in October (not December, the end of the calendar year) stood out to me.  In regards to the calendar, this shows an early finishing.  It can be excellent to end a journey early – you really pushed forth and went for “it” full throttle.

And sometimes, you need to take a break because the striving and hustle becomes overwhelming, even if it’s exactly what you wanted, and even if you’re receiving lots of good results from the hustle.

This is where I’m at right now, and though I am enjoying some slight periods of rest, I want to make sure I’m also out enjoying what my hard work has afforded me to do.  I’m going to get a hair cut this week, which probably doesn’t seem like a luxury to some of you, but I haven’t had a professional cut my hair in about a year and a half.  This was partially by choice, but I would rather spend money on chiropractic care than hair care, since my ability to stand comfortably was more necessary than my aesthetics.  I’m also thinking about buying a new pair of jeans.  (At the time of publishing, I confirm the purchase of new jeans!  THANK YOU, LL Bean, for your dark wash, straight leg, not-too-tight-but-not-too-loose, conventional, un-trendy jeans.)

Chris and I are also going to go camping for Samhain this year with some of our closest friends – it’ll be his first time back at the land since 2009, mine since probably 2010 or 2011.  It’s time. 

Link Round Up 10/15/16

It's been a busy week.  I hate saying that all the time, but it's true.  We're winding down wedding season at the shop, and we had our last large rush of weddings over the weekend.  Five of them.  This might not sound like many to some of you, and it may sound ridiculously hectic to others.  For us, it was wonderful and fulfilling, but we're ready for a break.  Luckily, there is just one amazing wedding tomorrow.  We're psyched.  But we're also ready for some quiet time.  

A kind bride from August sent me this photo last night, along with her words of thanks in regards to the flowers on her wedding day.  I absolutely love this shot, and am waiting to hear back from her about which amazing photographer I need to credit!  I can't wait to see more photos she sends me.  Luckily, these clients are local to the neighborhood, so we'll be seeing them again!

A kind bride from August sent me this photo last night, along with her words of thanks in regards to the flowers on her wedding day.  I absolutely love this shot, and am waiting to hear back from her about which amazing photographer I need to credit!  I can't wait to see more photos she sends me.  Luckily, these clients are local to the neighborhood, so we'll be seeing them again!

Pittsburgh is known for the very distinct dialect that its residents have, so I thought I would take this quiz to see if I could be "read" over the internet.  My top three results: Dayton, Des Moines, and Pittsburgh.  Spot on!

If you love cats, then this online shop is for you.  I'll take one of everything.

I will share cafe au lait dahlia photos until the frost pries the blooms from my chilly fingertips.

I will share cafe au lait dahlia photos until the frost pries the blooms from my chilly fingertips.

A magazine about anxiety: Anxy.  What do you think?  I am interested, as a person with some anxious tendencies and as a person who likes to know about other people.

This article directly relates to my desire to take courses on herbalism and medicinal plants.  I've re-read it twice and surely will at least once more.

Open-Source Magic.  Yes.  Open source everything.

It's easy to fall in love with dahlias.  

It's easy to fall in love with dahlias.  

Link Round Up 10/7/16

Hi kittens!

Crooked glasses and my favorite scarf.  

Crooked glasses and my favorite scarf.  

Yesterday I turned 27.  I celebrated with cake and friends and family and flowers and crying happy tears and dahlias and homemade pizza and cats and...it was a good week.

Cake surprise at work!.  The people I work with are some of the best people I know.

Cake surprise at work!.  The people I work with are some of the best people I know.

At the time of publishing, I have submitted my application to this floral design workshop.  Fingers crossed!  If I were to win, my reaction should probably be filmed.  It'd be something truly special.

I want to try making this bread sometime.  Any bread, any time.  I'm down.

I'm not into the "hashtag blessed" idea, but THESE I can get behind.

I'm not into the "hashtag blessed" idea, but THESE I can get behind.

Happening upon one of these daily blessings from Briana Saussey was a highlight of my week.  I haven't had a moment to peruse her website yet, but the daily blessings just seem right for me at the moment.  I needed them.

I attended a workshop a few months ago with sweet Marlee of Have Company, and she has written a book about her daily dance practice - here is the Kickstarter!  She's been fully funded, which is awesome.  I am thinking of either pledging the level where you get two books, or the level where you get the book and tote bag.  Check her out, she's doing some interesting things up in Michigan (that is, until she does interesting things during her move to California).

Flower. Shop. Cats. (Sent to me on my birthday from Hayley, one of my closest friends.  She's wonderful.  We share an affinity for cats and a distaste for convention.)

Flower. Shop. Cats. (Sent to me on my birthday from Hayley, one of my closest friends.  She's wonderful.  We share an affinity for cats and a distaste for convention.)

These earrings are calling to me...along with everything else on Bethany Yellowtail's website.

My sweet friend, Brooke, wrote a beautiful blog post regarding her ancestral beliefs and modern influences.  If you read through her archives, you will not be disappointed.

"Insights Had While Harvesting Lisianthus"

My sweet friend Annie sent me an email a few weeks ago, and while I wanted to recap the main points of what she said here, I couldn't.  She works with Cassie at Jig-Bee Flower Farm here in the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia.  Her words say it best.  I asked her if I could share what she said to me, and with her permission, you can view her kind gift of words that made me cry.  I'm a crier.  If you weren't aware, stick around for awhile.  It comes up a lot.

Hello, my dear! 

So I was harvesting out that awesome rosanne brown and rosanne deep brown lisianthus for you today, and I found myself thinking, "This is so great that Alyssa is using this, because it looks great, and it's crazy to me that no one is ordering lisianthus from us anymore." I also thought about the arrangements that you were making for your friends and the selection that you had made today, and how sort of random the combination of lisianthus, dahlias, cosmos, and ruffled purple basil, etc., might look on paper to a designer - but having put them all together today, I had no doubt that you were going to come up with something organic and wonderful and wild. 

And then it sort of hit me. This is what I imagined working with designers would be like. That they would come to the garden and see what looks good and base their arrangements off of what was naturally occurring in the garden. As you know, I'm not a huge fan of the wedding industry, in large part because it demands a level of industrialization - that you decide "oh, cafe au laits should work," and then you order them and you expect to get exactly what you had in your head. But that's not what it's like for us on the local, organic, small batch farm level - some things are unpredictable. Like I thought I'd have a bumper batch of cafe au laits to harvest today but I didn't. But I did have some awesome lisianthus and peachy celosia. 

Basically what this made me realize is how grateful I am as a farmer to have someone like you to work with. Because the way you approached your design today really honored what we do and honors our garden. Because we try our best but we can't always predict that we'll have as many CAL's as someone wants, but we also can't predict that we'll still be having amazing lisianthus in September. So it's a give-and-take, and the fact that you based your order today on what you saw in the field, made me really happy and glad to be doing this. 

xo

Annie

Link Round Up 9/30/16

Some relaxation tea.  PSA: Seasonal changes, such as the movement of summer to fall, can affect brain chemistry of individuals who are sensitive to large changes.  If you're someone or if you know someone who has a brain chemistry issue, such as depression or anxiety, it may be more harsh to cope right now.  Let's remember to be gentle with people who are getting their bearings in this shift.

Some relaxation tea.  PSA: Seasonal changes, such as the movement of summer to fall, can affect brain chemistry of individuals who are sensitive to large changes.  If you're someone or if you know someone who has a brain chemistry issue, such as depression or anxiety, it may be more harsh to cope right now.  Let's remember to be gentle with people who are getting their bearings in this shift.

If you're a crafty person, this Etsy listing for leather scraps might be of interest!  I have one bag from Jenny's shop, and it was a huge investment that paid for itself in the first year I owned it.

This flower arrangement from the shop is really special, because it went to a prospective client from her fiancé in celebration of their wedding being a year from today.  We haven't even had our formal consultation yet, and she intends to book.  I am so excited to officially meet her next weekend and really get down to business!

This flower arrangement from the shop is really special, because it went to a prospective client from her fiancé in celebration of their wedding being a year from today.  We haven't even had our formal consultation yet, and she intends to book.  I am so excited to officially meet her next weekend and really get down to business!

This article about purification really resonated with me.  Even if you're not a person who participates in ritual, this might relate to you in your personal practice.

I really want to make these veggie pancakes!  Unfortunately, we didn't have the time to this week since we made lots of other delicious food.  Next week!

As if I need another tarot deck to lust after.  And yet...

From the Linestrider Tarot.  Keeps coming up for me.

From the Linestrider Tarot.  Keeps coming up for me.

To whom are we beholden?

Photo by  With Love and Embers   Attire by  Sweet Caroline   Hair + Makeup by  Occasions by Diana   Flowers by me(!) by  Falls Flowers

Photo by With Love and Embers

Attire by Sweet Caroline

Hair + Makeup by Occasions by Diana

Flowers by me(!) by Falls Flowers

As a florist who primarily works within the sphere of weddings, I think a lot about flowers, the cost of those flowers, my farmers, and my clients.  In my personal life, I’m a numbers gal.  I love sticking to a budget, and I get a rush of satisfaction each time I make a student loan payment (not joking).  When I get to meeting with prospective wedding clients, we always discuss budget in our consultation.  Sometimes people reveal a lot about their financial situation, sometimes less.  Regardless of the length of the budget discussion, I always am sure to mention that we understand the importance of being respectful towards a budget.  Weddings can be expensive, even when they’re small, and it can feel overwhelming.

I believe that no matter a person’s budget, they deserve beauty in their life.  I also firmly believe that my Libra self needs beauty to surround me in order to be happy.  Beauty comes in so many different forms, but the ephemeral beauty of flowers is always at the top of my list as one of the most soul-nourishing forms.

There are lots of florists out there who have minimum budgets, where the clients must meet a minimum amount of money for services and products.  For some, it’s $3,500, and for others it’s $10,000 for comprehensive floral and event design. 

Along the same lines, for those like me who seek education and a chance to stretch our fingers, many florists host workshops.  This is a different type of investment, but the range of cost for these experiences is just as wide. 

I believe that in any field, if you aren’t continuing to learn, then you’re dead in the water.  Whether you’re seeking out opportunities or learning through experience, stagnation is not acceptable.  And at any time in your career, there is absolutely learning to be had.

As most of you readers understand, education is expensive.  Regardless of the cost, many people still value their educational opportunities and choice as worthwhile and edifying.  Even more so than formal college education, I severely analyze the benefit of workshops and classes in my field because I don’t have the ability to finance continuing my education.  Classes and workshops are expensive.  And if it’s not clear that there will be a large benefit, I’m not going to invest.

Not every person who follows your social media feeds will hire you.  Geographically and economically, there are barriers.  Not every person will sustain you in your profession – after all, it is essential to bring revenue in, in order to maintain your livelihood.  The bottom line is certainly important.

I don’t think that the bottom line is more important than our humanity.

But my question is this: who are we to credit with our success or our exposure?  To whom are we beholden, to be responsive and accessible?  [I will note that I am saying these things as a person who generally prefers to be left alone.  I will also note that before you disagree with my take on this matter, please look up the definition of the word “beholden” and then reread.]  

I recognize that through the support of others, I become more than I actually am.  And shouldn’t I give back to this cohort in some way?

I don’t believe that the way to give back to a community that has elevated and supported you (way before you were cool) is to market yourself in an inaccessible way.  Giving back is not a $5,000 destination workshop.  Giving back is not being aloof.  Giving back is not ignoring praise.  And giving back is certainly not what many people are doing.  Of course, tons of people are.  But this post is not about those gems.  And I happen to know quite a few of those people.  Those people are my cohort, and they are mine. 

This post comes forth for many reasons.  There are things that I wish to see, that I don’t feel like I’m seeing.  But there are also things that I don’t know, and I recognize this. 

I’m looking for the connection and the humility.  I’m looking for the openness.

What is your responsibility?  Who are you beholden to? 

Don’t forget those things.  Don't forget those people.  And don't forget who you were before you became who you currently are.

Fall Equinox Tarot Reading

Fall is my season.  I’ve never felt completely at home in the summertime – as a kid who loved school (and an adult who still loves school), the longing for knowledge coupled with my un-athletic, un-outdoorsy, glasses wearing self was never a harmonious mix.  [For all you folks out there who can wear contacts with ease or have good vision, never underestimate how harsh the summer sun can be on a glasses-wearer who doesn’t have prescription sunglasses.]

Winter and spring are just fine, but I can’t hit that seasonal stride until fall arrives in all her vibrancy and familiarity. 

Our altar for the equinox.  Chris doesn't like to change things on it as much as I do, but we have different practices.  The lunaria will be enjoyed by both of us for a long while - they're so shimmery and luminous.

Our altar for the equinox.  Chris doesn't like to change things on it as much as I do, but we have different practices.  The lunaria will be enjoyed by both of us for a long while - they're so shimmery and luminous.

There were several things we did to celebrate the equinox.  We bought new seedlings and started seeds for one more harvest from the garden, made ketchup using tomatoes from our garden, and updated the altar.  #keepyouraltarupdated

Some details on the altar: thorns, Kwan Yin, henbane ointment, saffron, bay leaves (we used some in our homemade ketchup recipe), and more. 

Some details on the altar: thorns, Kwan Yin, henbane ointment, saffron, bay leaves (we used some in our homemade ketchup recipe), and more. 

If you haven’t clicked over to the Worts and Cunning blog from a past tarot spread or link up I’ve shared, please do hop over and look through Alexis’ archives sometime!  There is a wealth of information in the archives, not to mention several items in the online shop that I’ve been eyeing.

We’re presented with “Balancing: An Autumn Equinox Spread” upon searching the archives for a seasonally appropriate tarot spread.  The one note I will make is that while Alexis’ tarot spreads are always laid in an artistic, geometric configuration, I find that in my practice, I am more comfortable with numerically ascending rows.  If I were to personally craft a spread, it may be easier for me to lay cards in a pattern such as the one this reading shows, but for now, I plan to stick with a more conventional approach.

In my reading, you’ll note that cards 1-4 are on the top row, with cards 5-8 directly underneath. 

I used my trusty Rider/Waite/Smith deck for this reading.

I used my trusty Rider/Waite/Smith deck for this reading.

We are now firmly entering the darker half of the year, where change feels, to me, more noticeable and more rapid.  The temperatures that we experience in the fall and winter make me want to slow down and take stock of what I’m around, and what is affecting me. 

1) Inhale: What are you breathing in?  What is affecting your energy?

Ace of Wands: Energy itself, in the form of creation.  A spark of some sort.  Possibly my own creative energy.  Recently I’ve felt unfocused, but with a brain that can’t turn off or close all the tabs open in my head (or computer).  This feels like a minor imbalance of some sort, in the directions that I’m able to take.  You can’t take every road when you’re out walking.  Or, can you?

2) Exhale: What are you breathing out, or shedding or undoing?

Four of Swords: How am I preparing for the seasonal descent?  Rest and solitude for the sake of resting.  This feels like a heavy-duty mental assessment for focusing and clarity.  Fours in tarot signify a type of stability, and this card is a mental and emotional, an internal, stability for me in this context.

3) Descent: How are you preparing for the descent to Samhain?  (For the Muggles out there, Samhain is the final harvest holiday that many Pagans and witches celebrate.  The specific time of Samhain oscillates between October 31-November 2.  Samhain is the holiday during which we celebrate and remember the dead and our ancestors.)

Six of Pentacles: Investing.  Restoring equilibrium to the world around me, in terms of what I’m able to expend.  Determining what areas of my sphere have “give” to them.

4) Guide: Your tools or skills that you’ll need for the descent.

Page of Cups: I’m trying to read court cards as a mindset or attitude in relation to what is happening, and the Page of Cups to me signifies an emotional openness and willingness.  When I read this card and started writing, I felt that it almost needs to be a naïve outlook, a fresh outlook that I must take on other people and their personalities.  I do believe that there will be something that guides me through adopting this attitude.

5) Harvest store: What is the culmination of the work you’ve put in this year?

Four of Pentacles: Stability in financial affairs.  The rewards from the hustle will sustain me when the quit begins.

6) Harvest gifts: Where is your abundance?  What should you share?

The Lovers: It is important to note that this is the only major arcana card that is present in this tarot spread.  Major arcana cards are indicators of intense awareness and meaningful lessons.  In the context of this reading, The Lovers signifies an internal harmony, but possibly also the need to make a choice.  This choice of what to share may carry a lot of gravity, and all possible outcomes should be considered.  The word that settled in my head when I saw this card was commonality.  I’m not sure how I’ll use that in determining the answer to this question, or exactly what this portion of the reading shows, but I do know that it’s been on my mind since I did the reading.

7) Balancing out: What needs to be balanced by expanding?

King of Pentacles: My self-image.  I think there are times where we all can feel like a certain person in private, and that we don’t necessarily measure up to be that person in our interactions with others.  As simple as it may sound, I’ve been wanting to continue developing who I am more outwardly.  I don’t know if this qualifies as a personal brand sort of thing, but I’ve been exploring this idea and will continue to do so…for some time, likely.  There is a richness to life that I desire, and don’t always feel.

8) Balancing in: What needs to be balanced by retracting your energies inwards?

Three of Pentacles: My relationship to collaborative work and discussion.  Have you ever heard of step up/step back?  There are lots of criticisms out there on this discussion technique, but as I’ve learned and practiced it, stepping UP to talk and give your insight is great, but so is stepping BACK when your words don’t necessarily add to the conversation.  In other words, don’t talk just to hear your own voice in a discussion where you might not have the most valuable points.  So, in the context of a group piece, this card says to me that my role may be shifting, or what may be necessary might be for me to approach collaboration differently.  And boy, oh boy, do I have lots of thoughts on my function in social groups.  This one definitely requires more thought and exploration, but I will add that it is the responsibility of the group as a whole to be productive as a whole (in any context) – it cannot rest on one person to ensure that a GROUP of functional humans is working most appropriately.

All in all, not much in this reading really surprised me, but there are several points that I’ll be considering in my own life – namely the harmony that I seek in sharing myself to the world, and where I stand in my collaborative relationships.  I also need to determine where to focus my creativity, and how I want it to serve the world.

Clover loves tarot just like me.  I can't stand how darling she is sometimes.

Clover loves tarot just like me.  I can't stand how darling she is sometimes.

Link Round Up 9/23/16

I had a super busy weekend, with a dear friend getting married!  But now that I'm done doing flowers for them and they're off enjoying their honeymoon, I can breathe a bit easier.  I learned a lot doing flowers for their wedding, and I'll share about that soon.  It was a great weekend overall, and I'm really happy that Chris and I were able to spend so much time with so many of our friends.

My work space, graciously accommodated by the parents of the groom.

My work space, graciously accommodated by the parents of the groom.

Holly and her husband Jeff, me and Chris, and David!  His girlfriend, Sarah, is not pictured, as she was getting ready to officiate the wedding.  She also officiated ours, so it was special seeing her do it for someone else too.

Holly and her husband Jeff, me and Chris, and David!  His girlfriend, Sarah, is not pictured, as she was getting ready to officiate the wedding.  She also officiated ours, so it was special seeing her do it for someone else too.

A good article about "good" people that people say are good.  This also aligns with my thoughts on the "don't speak ill of the dead" bull that people try to tell you when a crappy public figure dies.

I'm not a professional, but this tarot reader is from Philly and wrote a great editorial about how her work can be perceived by the public.  Very insightful and now I want to meet her!

Perhaps my favorite article I've read about this time of year.

I made this recipe for our equinox dinner on Wednesday night, and it was amazing.  We used only one can of beans (black beans, no pinto to be found in the pantry), and subbed in some mushroom and also some peppers from our garden instead of a second can of beans.  Super delicious, and we agree that it should be made again soon!  Next time, we may add more spices and herbs, but the paprika was delicious as is.

Speaking of the equinox, here's a tarot spread that I did to do some analysis into the darkening portion of the year.  I'll post my analysis early next week, but you should absolutely try the reading out for yourself!  It's not too late.  

On Tuesdays at the shop, we have a puppy now.  Our intern, Meg, just adopted this sweet baby and he's chill and cuddly.  I can't handle it.

On Tuesdays at the shop, we have a puppy now.  Our intern, Meg, just adopted this sweet baby and he's chill and cuddly.  I can't handle it.

Gratuitous cafe au lait dahlia photo.  Because it's beautiful and now that it's fall, they feel just a bit more seasonally appropriate to me.

Gratuitous cafe au lait dahlia photo.  Because it's beautiful and now that it's fall, they feel just a bit more seasonally appropriate to me.

Hurting Hearts

Recently, I have noticed that in some way (and in lots of ways that I am not privy to), there are several people around me who are hurting in some way.

Perhaps it's because they are hardcore empaths like me, and they're absorbing a lot of troubles right now that they are having trouble filtering and managing.  I think some people are going through interpersonal struggles with loved ones, and internal struggles with themselves and their abilities - what they think they have to be, and what they feel they are showing others.  And the world might just feel like it's crumbling; civility and all.

I've been there.  It's hard.  And it's even harder when you don't know what to do to help yourself.  I'm crafting a tincture right now, and a honey, infused with rose petals.  On the full moon last week, I began both jars.  Eventually, one month from last Thursday, I will strain the liquid from each jar, discard the petals, and craft a rose elixir of sorts.

The blend will serve two purposes: nurturing and protecting.  Roses are a loaded symbol - romance, love, passion, etc.  But inviting and enticing as they are, they hold a fierce protection as their armor.  Thorns.

See the thorn in there at the bottom, near the top of the photo?

See the thorn in there at the bottom, near the top of the photo?

Roses can be used to encourage vulnerability.  To be ok with digging really deep and looking yourself and your problem in the face, humbly.  And roses can also intensely protect.  Rose thorns can transmit bacteria into their offenders and cause infection if the aggressor is too antagonistic (or too unaware to tread lightly).

Lemon balm tincture, rose honey, rose tincture.

Lemon balm tincture, rose honey, rose tincture.

The rose elixir will be for healing.  I'm going to look into sourcing some small bottles to give away once it's ready.  If you think that you might want some, or know a friend who might want to try it, I'll be sure to let word out when it's bottled.

It could be used in tea, in solitude, or in a personal ritual, or innocuously over a few days.  

Stay tuned for the development.

 

Link Round Up 9/16/16

Posting this late, but I'm still accurate on the date.  Still a Friday link-up!

No photos this week, it's been quite hectic, and I'm currently determining what to wear to a rehearsal dinner tomorrow night.  Yes, attending a wedding (and doing the flowers, whew)!

Want a reading list?  Here's a big one.

My current favorite song: "Hell Yeah" by Lake Street Dive.  Chris and I will be seeing them live when they visit Philadelphia in October!  Want to join?  Come on Wednesday, October 12th with us!

Interesting article about art and "comeback" of witchcraft.  Not sure where I stand amongst this group.  I would argue that witchcraft has always been there, just perhaps not as overtly.  Regardless, an interesting read.

I'm a little bit obsessed with this wedding that Saipua did last year, featured in Martha Stewart weddings just now.  Perhaps that will be us next year!

Residencia Botánica.  Should be an interesting think tank.

When you need to burn a bridge, burn it.

 

Buying Local Flowers

Buying local flowers, to me, is one of the most important things that I can do for my wedding clients.  Of course, meeting their expectations for the design of their event, and giving them a pleasant, easy business experience is also important.  But the back-end of their experience, the hidden components that make up our time together is equally important.  The aspects of my work that clients don’t actively view is what can make my job appear easy, and if those parts work smoothly, my job is actually easier.

When I meet with clients, I make sure to establish that purchasing local flowers is a known and valued practice in my process.  I share my excitement about the gorgeous local product with my prospective clients, and I educate them a bit about the natural variation in all floral product.  We might even talk about how white can be slightly yellow, and that ivory tends to read as very yellow in some flowers.  We also talk about how nature does not come in Pantone. 

It’s not that I immediately shatter their floral dreams, because I tell them how local flowers can be special in their wedding.  Perhaps I know that in the spring, they can expect soft neutral tones with pops of blush, burgundy, and soft purple in the ranunculus, anemones, and tulips that we know our farmers are growing.  If their wedding is next October and they tell me how they love pink peonies, I tell them that unfortunately, I cannot guarantee peonies in any way, but have they ever SEEN a dahlia?  The shaping may be totally different, but the large-headed, captivating focal bloom can certainly hold its own.  Some clients accept this local, seasonal substitution.  When they don’t we talk about ordering in roses. 

I’m no less a supporter of local flowers when I order outside of Philadelphia.  However, if the conversation does not immediately include locally grown flowers, it can be more challenging to bring up as a topic later on.  It’s all about striking a balance between routing the clients budget where I want it to go, and where the budget must go to achieve their vision.  If I can sneak in more locally grown flowers when it comes time to order their blooms, then great!  It happens a lot, but it’s not always a possibility.  The important thing is that the effort is made.

The effort in purchasing local flowers involves a combination of decisions: will the blooms be large enough?  Will there be enough product to design adequately in all of my vessels?  Are there enough flower varieties for each design?   Have I purchased any varieties that will hold up out of water exceptionally well, for boutonnieres and bouquets?  Which items will wilt out of water quickly…and did I buy too many of those?

Careful consideration must be exercised in determining quantities of flower varieties, local or imported.  This takes practice.

Good luck practicing.  And prioritizing!

What is a Pagan? What is a Witch?

“Alyssa, why are you writing about all of this stuff?  This has nothing to do with flowers or floristry, and I had no idea that you were interested in witchy things.”

There are a lot of things we don't know about one another.

Nobody actually SAID that to me, but I thought I’d share my reasons for wanting to share about Paganism and witchcraft.  These are typically not topics found on the wedding blogs, and though this is not a wedding blog, I do lean towards the romantic from time to time.

I’ve been a practicing witch and some form of Pagan since I was in middle school. Yup, since I was about 11 years old.  After more than 10 years learning and reading on the topic (some good books, some horribly inaccurate books – you learn to approach skeptically as a result and ask for recommendations often), it’s hard to separate yourself from that particular topic.  And for a long time, I was unable to share part of my life with the people who were around me.  My job security would have been compromised (yes, that’s illegal, but let’s speak the truth here – people get fired for shitty reasons all the time), and my day-to-day would have been unbearably uncomfortable with my coworkers.  Things are better now, and I have the head space to continue my research and personal education.  I didn’t have that ability for a long time, and it’s nice to be “back” in this way.

So I’m writing because I’ve been recharged and there is revival in me in this way, on this topic.  This is really exciting! 

I’m currently working on some things personally, including not having to be right all the time (“letting go of the right to be right”), which is a daily practice of mindfulness.  I do not believe this conflicts with wanting to educate others.  You don’t have to believe me, and you don’t have to continue reading.  That’s your power and prerogative.  Myself, I’m a constant reader and since you’re already here reading this blog post, why not continue and get some definitions?  

I’ve actually spoke on this topic before, when I was back in college.  There’s a recording somewhere, which I have thankfully, never viewed.

When I see the #witchythings hashtag on Instagram, I absolutely side-eye you.  If we really want to talk about witchcraft and things that witches actually DO, then we need to delve in a bit deeper.  On the surface, I will say that witchcraft is a practice.  One component is magic, and another common (but not necessarily necessary) component to a practice of witchcraft is the cultivation of a skill set or traditional craft, relating back to the planet.  If you ask seven witches, you’ll get seven different opinions, but this, to me, is as bare bones as it gets.

There are Pagan witches, and Catholic witches, and Atheist witches, and more.  As I said, witchcraft is a practice, not a belief system.  The belief system that the witch may or may not follow surely influences their practice of witchcraft.

If you wish to delve further into Traditional Witchcraft definitions, I invite you to peruse the blog of Sarah Anne Lawless, here

If witchcraft is a practice, then Paganism is a religious belief system.  If you’re familiar with understanding that the umbrella term “Christian” covers many different denominations, then you can place “Paganism” on the same level.  Paganism is an umbrella term that includes many specific “denominations.”  A limited list of examples includes Asatru, Kemetic, Hellenistic, and Neo-Druid paths. 

Not all Pagans necessarily practice witchcraft, just as all witches are not necessarily Pagans.

Link Round Up 9/9/16

"Why Don't We Treat Teeth Like the Rest of our Bodies?" is a really good question.  Our healthcare system needs a lot of reform, which this article shows in a very visceral way.  I also would love for optical care to be taken more seriously as health care, as a person with extremely bad eyes and a family history to prove it.

Butter yellow zinnias from a flower farmer friend.  That one beige-ish zinnia just gets me.

Butter yellow zinnias from a flower farmer friend.  That one beige-ish zinnia just gets me.

I have a tiny wedding this Saturday - very different from last weekend.  Their flowers are 99% local and it makes me really happy.

I have a tiny wedding this Saturday - very different from last weekend.  Their flowers are 99% local and it makes me really happy.

An all-female auto body shop near where I live?  Sign me up.  

If you stand with Standing Rock in the opposition of the crude oil pipeline (and I do stand with Standing Rock, for every single reason I can conjure), then think about donating to the cause.  Bethany Yellowtail is a fashion designer who curates a collective of First Nations artist wares on her website.  All proceeds of the "Protector" clothing will be headed straight to the legal fees of Standing Rock.

"When People Ate People, a Strange Disease Emerged"

Some solid foraging tips and advice.

I've started the hashtag #keepyouraltarupdated on Instagram.  So far, just me.  We'll see.

I've started the hashtag #keepyouraltarupdated on Instagram.  So far, just me.  We'll see.

Also, I wanted to just remind you all of a few things:

  • You're important and you matter.
  • You deserve to be happy.
  • Someone else's success does not diminish your own worth.
  • If you need help, ask for it.
  • There are so many good things about you.  If you feel sad (or Sad, with a capital S), ask a dear friend to tell you something nice about yourself.  I'm sure they can think of at least five nice things to tell you.

 

 

September: the Knight of Swords

September is here.  Finally a chill to the air, and a less dense atmosphere of our third floor apartment.  Breathing is a bit easier, as is dressing comfortably.  Read: I love layers.

The Knight of Swords is here for September.  If you’re not familiar with tarot, let’s have a short de-briefing on the structure of a tarot deck.

There are 78 cards in a tarot deck.  Tarot cards are split into two sections: the Major Arcana and the Minor Arcana.  The Major Arcana consists of twenty-two cards, starting with card 0 (The Fool) and ending with card 21 (The World).  The Major Arcana tells a story and shows a natural progression of the Fool’s journey and the things gained or learned along the way.  The Major Arcana cards represent thematic ideas and life-changing events or milestones.  Major Arcana cards can also indicate long-term effects within a reading, or instances that are particularly weighty. 

The remaining fifty-six cards in the deck are the Minor Arcana.  The Minor Arcana cards tend to represent more temporary influences than the Major Arcana. The Minor Arcana also seems to appear more in day-to-day life than the Major Arcana themes.  The Minor Arcana is comprised of four different suits: swords, wands, cups, and pentacles, and each is associated with a different element.  Each of the four suits read similarly to decks of traditional playing cards, with aces through ten, and then the court cards (Page, Knight, Queen, and King).  There are many different variations across decks with the Minor Arcana symbols and imagery.  One example: wands are sometimes staffs, and in other decks, pentacles may be represented by coins.

Each suit in the Minor Arcana is representative of a different element and different ideas.  My favorite suit is swords.  Most people do not like swords as much as I do.

(Blog post about each suit?  Perhaps I shall.)

Onto the Knight of Swords.

Swords are associated with the element of air, and notions of intellect, the mind, intellect, power, and rational thought.  Swords can cut ruthlessly, or deliver justice. 

I’m a Libra, which is an air sign, so I feel an affinity for Swords because of that already.  Also, my favorite tarot card is the Queen of Swords.  But this is about the Knight of Swords.

There is some hierarchy to the court cards of tarot, and sometimes they represent actual people in your life.  For me, the court cards tend to represent areas of my personality, or possibly even personalities that I might encounter.

In this reading, I believe that the Knight of Swords is showing up as a facet of my own personality, or a way that I might need to behave.  However, this Knight can sometimes be a caution card.  I used my Rider/Waite/Smith deck for the Year Ahead reading way back when.  Pictured on the card is the knight on their white horse.  The knight is outfitted with armor and wielding a sword above their head, riding wildly into the fray.  The landscape is barren and looks almost like a desert.

There is no stopping this rider – they are confident and are ambitious, going towards their mission.  However, the knight doesn’t have their helmet on properly – their face is exposed and unprotected.  This knight may be rushing into something without fully thinking about their actions, so this card may be cautioning towards a more balanced approach.  It’s ok to be ambitious and pursue your goals with decisive action, but it’s also really important to make sure you don’t have tunnel vision.

For September, I’ve already had more than one important discussion regarding my path and the future.  The sense that significant growth is on the horizon has been apparent for about a week or so, and I feel that I am ready for this transition.  However, the balanced approach of pursuing the outer goals, while refining my inner self, is what I think I’ll be working on.  The suit of swords, and its association with the element of air, indicates the intellectual side of my personality, and I feel that this awareness and metacognition will be important to the next month or so as well.  I’ll be having a bit more space for critical thought and personal development in the upcoming months, so this card is in line with what I anticipated my outlook would be. 

The Big Blue Wedding

1,200+ stems of delphinium.

100 hydrangea.

200 roses.

Thistle, salvia, scabiosa, and two buckets full of tweedia.

An admirable chunk of Peicha’s witch hazel.

One roll of chicken wire.

And as many beige café au lait dahlias as our farmers could provide.

...

We turned an existing pergola at the venue into a chuppah for the traditional Jewish ceremony.

We turned an existing pergola at the venue into a chuppah for the traditional Jewish ceremony.

After I met Jill and her matron of honor, Emma, back in January, I was a bit overwhelmed.  At the time, I had only begun to take consultations at the shop for a few months on my own, and Jill’s wedding was the most involved that I’d encountered.  Looking back, I never was worried that I wouldn’t be able to manage and design her wedding.  My concern was more that she and her fiancé Zach, and her family would be pleased with the quality of the work we would end up delivering. 

And luckily, I did not need to worry about that.  Jill and Zach were also the first client that I had ever done a mock-up for, at the meeting where we also selected their linens for the reception tables.  At this meeting, I was also able to meet Jill’s mother.  Although I was intimidated at first, it became clear very quickly that I had already proven everything that needed to be shown, and that I didn’t need to do much talking.  The flowers were already doing the talking for me.

I haven’t blogged many weddings that I do at work here on my personal blog.  I hope that it’s evident that I work at Falls Flowers through my social media presence, and that my place of employment and the venue through which I book clients is evident.  

But I need to talk about Jill and Zach, and how grateful I am for the experience of making the flowers for their wedding.  And it’s funny – I thought, after producing a wedding of this magnitude, of this budget, of this anticipation, that I would feel a much larger load of personal satisfaction.  It’s not that I’m unsatisfied.  But I think what mattered to me more in the end is that they are happy and that they know we created the beauty just for them, and that personally, a new bar has been set.

I can do things that seem difficult at first.  These things become less difficult because of how I approach the challenge.

At the onset of our initial consultation, Jill mentioned that she and Zach wanted to have the “most elegant hippie wedding” possible.  I did not write this on their proposal, because I wasn’t sure if her parents would appreciate that wording.  It can be hard to gauge what people you’ve never met might find appropriate for a high-caliber and high budget affair.  She also mentioned that her favorite flower of all time is delphinium.  She wanted delphinium everywhere and anywhere it could be placed, so I ordered three different varieties of delphinium, and it went into everything.  Her bouquet, which I do not have a photo of, was made of café au lait dahlias, delphinium, tweedia, and scabiosa blossoms.  As a person who shares the affinity for blue flowers (and who doesn’t love café au lait), this wedding was a perfect fit between client and professional, vision and flower availability.

One year ago over Labor Day weekend, I made my first bridal bouquet ever, under the steady direction of Peicha.  And this year, I booked, designed, and produced one of the largest weddings the shop has ever had.  And it’s important to recognize that this could not have been done alone.  This wedding couldn’t even have been possible within the bubble of our flower shop. 

Because of the trust of Jill and Zach, I was able to manage their vision without question.  Every single recommended change to their proposal, on item and budget, was accepted.  This was an enormous privilege, and I understand that this is not the norm.  They truly made me feel like an expert, even if I didn’t feel that confidence at the time.  I’ve gained some of that confidence now for the future.

I contacted all of our dahlia-growing flower farmers, and they provided more than enough of the specific tone of dahlia that Jill desired.  The importance of this relationship with our famers cannot be overstated.  These are the people that come through in the clutch, and tend to the precious plants that give our weddings the most life and magic.  This is also an enormous privilege – made very clear when you can reserve all of the soft blue tweedia from one of your farmers.  Two buckets worth was luxurious and special, and the remnants are in front of me as I type this, still looking just as fresh as the day they were delivered to the shop.

The cheering squad.  All of those sweet friends out there who like your photos of the in-production work, who tell you that you’ll do great, who mention they’re excited to see pictures.  The flower friends and colleagues who let you borrow tons of their rental items.  The freelancers who help set up on the big day.  The friends who got excited with you back in January, after talking about possibly booking this client.  Knowing that you’ll be getting hugs and high-fives from these friends after talking about how you nailed the wedding.  This matters so much.

The husband.  Chris’ willingness to listen to me about this wedding for months, and his support of my late night client meetings (there were only two) and the 17-hour day that it took to make this wedding happen, from taking the hair flowers to the salon in the morning, to composting the flowers immediately following breakdown.  I have few adequate words for how thankful I am for this man, on any day.

The Falls Flowers team.  This team is everything.  Words fail me here as well. 

Link Round Up 9/2/16

We have a huge, gigantic wedding this weekend at the shop, so it's been more quiet here that I'd like.  I've been thinking a lot recently about what I want to bring to the Pagan movement at this time in my life.  Unfortunately, because of this large wedding, I'll be missing Philadelphia Pagan Pride Day.  Next year, I hope to attend.  Expect at least one blog post next week about this portion of my life.

Tall centerpieces for the big blue wedding.  There are eight of these, and then eight urns and five smaller footed bowls.  Luckily, the bridal party consists of just five bridesmaids and five groomsmen.

Tall centerpieces for the big blue wedding.  There are eight of these, and then eight urns and five smaller footed bowls.  Luckily, the bridal party consists of just five bridesmaids and five groomsmen.

This is just one of the many armfuls of delphinium that came into the shop for the big blue wedding.  Pictured here are 150 stems, out of a total 1,200 that were ordered.  There is no filter on this photo - the blooms truly are this vibrant.

This is just one of the many armfuls of delphinium that came into the shop for the big blue wedding.  Pictured here are 150 stems, out of a total 1,200 that were ordered.  There is no filter on this photo - the blooms truly are this vibrant.

On to the links!

Lots of us know what CSA's are, but have you heard of a CHS?  Community Supported Herbalism, right here.  

Ritual and boundaries.

Several intact flower heads were in this bag of sweetness.

Several intact flower heads were in this bag of sweetness.

I was just gifted a bag of rose petals from a flower farmer friend of mine, and I'm not yet sure what I'll make with them.  A tincture?  Infused honey?  Lip balm?  Maybe this.  Or maybe these.

The Random Tea Room and Curiosity Shop has the best mint tea I've ever had.  I grew a lot of mint in my garden this year, so it can be fun to add sweet mint to their blend.  It's nice to treat yourself to a good cup of tea, now that the weather is not in the nineties.  

I've decided that this blog will be more educational for those interested in learning about Paganism and witchcraft, and so, here is my first link for you to peruse.  I'll explain more next week about why I chose this one.

A new-to-me tarot (actually an oracle) deck for me to add to my wishlist. 

The Fraught Path

A study of the Nine of Wands across three different tarot decks.  I've been reading since middle school, but am only now really feeling ready to fluidly and reliably read for others.  It takes time and practice.

A study of the Nine of Wands across three different tarot decks.  I've been reading since middle school, but am only now really feeling ready to fluidly and reliably read for others.  It takes time and practice.

This is a response to an article that I read, titled “’Mysticore’ is the New Norm: Inside the trend that’s casting its spell over the culture”.  This article was shared within a group that I belong to on Facebook, consisting of Wiccans, Pagans, Traditional Witches, and other rad folks.

First, go read the article.

Then sit down for a little story.

When I was in fifth grade, we were instructed to write a paper on the invention of something.  One student chose refrigerators, another student chose cars, and I honestly don’t know what the other students chose.  I was much too involved in my own research (in the library with books, but also using the internet – this was the year 2000!) to notice what my classmates were doing.  My invention of choice was the construct of modern religion, and my research led me back to Paganism.  It made sense, I continued the research, and even though I hesitate to define exactly “what” I am now, simply saying “Pagan” is the easiest way to explain.

And though as an adult, becoming a part of Pagan societies and groups gave me community, identity, my closest friends, and my husband, as a child and adolescent I received other things from this label.  Namely ridicule and a shit ton of bullying behavior from my peers.  It was obvious and loud, and I cried almost daily because they just didn’t stop.  Girlfriends in middle school tried to talk me out of my “ways” and told me that God didn’t want me reading what I was reading, and that I needed to stop.  Apparently, they were praying that I would change my ways. 

Teachers, school counselors, and bus drivers heard the names I was called and the mean things that were said to me, and did nothing.  My mother, in her desperation to have something done about the bullying, scheduled a meeting with my middle school principal, at which he asked me if I thought the boys were just teasing me because they “liked” me.  To which I responded a hearty NO.  But of course, nothing was done to help me, because I was an awkward and nerdy preteen, and in the scheme of a power battle, sporty and stereotypical groups of adolescent boys had the upper hand.  It would have been more work to call their parents and explain why their kids were assholes, as opposed to just minimizing my turmoil. 

Push it down further.  Don’t complain.  Keep your head down and stop reading those books. 

Sometimes, I want to go back and find all of those teachers and educational professionals, and give them a big FUCK YOU because they saw it all and did nothing, and thank goodness I was strong enough to not give up.

When I read the article, my feelings were mixed.  But the more I think, the more I rage.  I want acceptance for all people, but I don’t want to cheapen witchcraft or Paganism.  It’s not a subscription box in the mail, it’s not a how-to, it’s not a trend.  I think people are longing to make sense of the world around them, and perhaps a path similar to mine might be the right call for them. 

But part of me also says that unless you struggled to be validated by the world outside of what is trendy, then you have no business touching anything in this realm. 

I feel frustrated when people that told me I was wrong for reading about candle spells or hexing now identify in their social media profiles as a witch. 

It made me sad when I couldn’t tell people at my teaching job how I met my husband (Pagan student group, yo!) for fear of social blowback, but they are now able to talk about crystals, healing, or plant based medicine without the same concern.

I want people to have the things they need to be healthy and productive people.  But I also want them to do their research and respect what they are touching.  And perhaps the respect is there, and I just don’t see it. 

Thoughts from the group?  Mine aren’t fluid or eloquent right now, but I certainly have them.

Link Round Up 8/26/17

From a friend's wedding ceremony...at their flower farm.  Such a perfect place for their wedding.  

From a friend's wedding ceremony...at their flower farm.  Such a perfect place for their wedding.  

The cutest little planter that I ever did see.  And I might need to make one myself.

I need to brag on myself for a minute.  I did this wedding through my workplace, and I am so pleased with the photos.  This couple was a last-minute booking, because several florists they met with earlier were not receptive to their vision, and the couple didn't feel like they had been listened to.  This amazes me, since they had a beautiful vision, love flowers and had a good budget for what they wanted, and were truly a joy to work with.  And they left us the nicest review on Wedding Wire.  I'm so glad that they found us, and that I was able to make them happy.

White Privilege and the Wedding Industry.  I'm just going to leave this here.  Excellent article. 

Climate change as a reproductive issue.

I'm interested in reading this book.  Anyone else?  (By the way, this makes me want to do a book list of recommended reading.)

Might have to purchase the first two zines on this list.