Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Summertime Blues? White Hot is more like it!

Yeah, I post a picture in case any of us need a reminder, right? It's nearing the end of May, and the sun is reminding us here in central Texas that it's summertime. Forget that "summer starts June 22" stuff. Around here summer starts at least by early May and hangs around till mid October. 
It's hot, and dry. We had a couple of fair rains in the last week or so, and it was much appreciated. However........
It's hot, and dry. And, guess what, it's gonna keep on being that way for awhile!
I had a few tasks on tap today to accomplish before the lovely Cat Dancing and I head over to Round Rock for a meeting.
Yesterday I was going to take the Shadow on a run over toward Bastrop to do a couple of errands and do some more measurements, etc., over at the new 6 acre Permaculture project I'm involved in. As I was leaving, I discovered a leak in the back tire, so I parked the bike and took the car.
I thought the available working time for today would be good to fix the tire, maybe do a little work on the office re-build, stuff like that.
I got side-tracked. It happens much too easily. 
It was a little late when I finally got outside. I helped a bit with the laundry, spent a little too much time in the morning reading one of those "can't put it down" books. ("Rough Country", John Sandford.) When I finally got outside I discovered that the Shadow had fallen over after the tire flattened again. One of the side mirrors also broke off.
I got it straightened up and on the center stand. Carried water to a few trees. Got stung by a red wasp on the shin. Discovered one of our full water barrels at the shop had fallen over and had drained both of them.
Decided it was just too darned hot to do anything outside.
I'm inside. Enjoying the A/C and my email, and my blog.
I can handle the heat. 
I can handle driving around all summer without a car A/C. I've had to do it often.
For the most part, the secret is to drink plenty of water. Stay in the shade. Don't push it.
If you have to work outside, do it in the shade, better yet, rest inside during the hot part of the day and do your outside stuff early or late. 
Good advice. 
I just have issues with getting my bones out very early, usually.
It's been a few days since I've done anything on the office trailer. Saturday was spent on the job at the Sunset Valley Farmer's Market, and a meeting with the prospective Permaculture client.
Sunday was a day of work for us out at the Sherwood Forest booth. We're finishing up the walls finally.
Monday we had to head into Austin early for the monthly Tarot Class Cat is teaching, after spending the morning finalizing the class materials. (Cat designs the lesson, I help with details and do the layout and desktop publishing type stuff for the handouts. My expertise with AutoCad helps.)
Tuesday, yesterday, was as already mentioned, spent with project work. More cool down was needed when I got back late afternoon.
And there's today. Already getting close to "get ready to go" time. 
No, I don't really HAVE to accompany Cat for this meeting. I do prefer to.
It's together time for us, traveling to and from. Plus, hopefully some wi-fi time at the hotel while I'm waiting for her. 
All grist for the mill as they say.
And using someone else's A/C for awhile.
Did I mention it's hot?
Anyway, tomorrow is a home all day, day. 
I'll get to work early, I promise.
As for you..........
Stay cool, okay?

Friday, May 20, 2011

Stanley-Nolen Family Cemetery

In Garrison Park in South Austin there is a small family cemetery, the Stanley-Nolen Cemetery. I literally stumbled over this cemetery some time back and found out that I was related to the family interred there. When I told another relative about it, he was surprised. The family had been told that the old cemetery had been covered by one of the streets. When I returned recently, I couldn't find the marker I knew was there, it took a couple of trips to see it again. It is located near the pavilion at the rear of the park not far from the softball fields.
Descendants of the Stanley family mentioned here moved to the community of Andice in Williamson County, Texas. I am descended from William James Stanley who died in Andice in 1877.

The following info is copied from the Austin Genealogical Society website. I do believe there are more than two burials in the cemetery. The info itself mentions at least three. I think it likely there are several, but only two are now evident.

This marker information was transcribed by Billie Blackstock. There are only 2 burials in this cemetery. 

The Stanley Nolen Cemetery is the final resting place of two pioneer families and their descendants. Thomas Edward Stanley born in Darlington Co., South Carolina on January 6, 1805 met and married Holland West Galtin in Tennessee and in 1849 the family settled here 5 miles south of Austin.
Holland West Galtin Stanley who is buried here is the daughter of the sister of Nancy Hanks, Abraham Lincoln’s mother.
Jane Stanley only daughter of Holland Stanley married Thomas Warren Nolen who served as Travis counties first Assessor-Collector. The one remaining marker in the cemetery is that of his brother Mace S. Nolen. The Nolen’s played a prominent part in the development of Austin and Travis County. Sidney F. Nolen served as county commissioner 1894 to 1903 and Henry C. Nolen served as city Alderman from the first ward April 1899 to May 1903 both are grandsons of Holland Stanley and nephews of Mace Nolen.

Historical marker

Harry W. Nolen, son of Henry, was city commissioner from April 1923 until the city manager form of government was installed by the city of Austin in 1926. He also served as superintendent of police and public safety and worked to establish the city manager system.

The Stanley Nolen cemetery was acquired by the city of Austin in 1961 as part of a tract purchased from the Stanley heirs for the development of Garrison Park.

Name Birth Death
William Thomas Nolen September 7, 1849 July 28, 1889
M. S. Nolen March 6, 1822 January 12, 1872

William Thomas Nolen

It's Not Deja Vu! It's Not Deja Vu!

One of my favorite Monty Python sketches concerns deja vu. Maddeningly funny! If you happen to read both my blogs you may be getting the same feeling.
Like the classic Escher drawing on the right there is overlap at work. A bunch of you fine and obviously intelligent folks follow this blog of mine that chronicles my wide range of efforts in Permaculture, Avatar, writing, theater, and so on ad infinitum. 
A lucky few of you also follow my writing blog, Criminal Mischief. As that one covers just one facet of what I'm doing, and this one covers pretty much everything, there does tend to be overlap now and then. 
Such is the case with my remodeling efforts on the office trailer I call my RainCrow Writing Cave. While I'm working on that, it (and the blogs) are pretty much the only writing related efforts I've got going. Since it concerns building my "space of my own" it falls under writing efforts, sort of. It also has a more general appeal. Therefore, it gets covered in both places. I hope you don't mind. Thanks for reading!

Further Adventures in Remodeling

We've got sporadic rain showers here today. I'm not complaining, we definitely need it! However, it has somewhat curtailed my work on the trailer remodel. Therefore, I'm investing my time in getting my record here up to date.
In the previous chapter of this, I mentioned a problem with the rounded back corner of the roof and wall.

Remember this?
All of the wood supporting this corner rotted away. Below is how I solved it.

 The piece of wall paneling I originally removed from here still had the arch intact. I used it as a template to cut two pieces of the scrap flooring plywood which I then notched to accept the ribs and the window header. You can see my splice for the ribs to the left. It was only one end of each rib that was rotted, re-using them meant I didn't have to take the roofing loose on the other corner as much. I think it worked out well. 

Here is the lower outside of that corner. Again, I re-used much of the existing framing with some splicing to remove the rotted parts. There are new vertical studs at each corner as well as the window sides or mullions. 

The upper view of the same area. This opening was re-done as the original size, since I am relocating the good side window here. One synchronicity, I ripped scavenged 2x8's down to 2x6 for the new floor joists. The cutoff strip was just right to make new 2x2 studs where needed.

Here's an inside view of the opposite floor corner. I didn't have any more of the salvaged floor decking so I'm using salvaged pine 1x12's to replace the sections of rotted floor wood.

Here is the opposite end of the same board in the previous picture. (Below that pesky round corner.) 

And then continuing those boards along the sidewall toward the front. The boards are only butted and screwed to the floor joists. I'll seal the cracks later with silicone caulk. To the left is the new bottom runner to attach the new wall framing on the side wall. Below that is the new portion of the edge joist.

Okay, that's where it stands for now. At least until the intermittent showers stop.

Hooray for rain!


Latest News on the RainCrow Writing Cave! Or, Why I'm Not Writing!

When we last saw the cave I had just finished re-attaching the skin on the outside of the entrance side of the trailer. Now I'm working to re-build the opposite and rear walls. Removing the old paneling and insulation reveals the true story. It actually was not as bad as I expected. Some of the wall studs at the corner must be replaced, as well as the ones on each side of two windows. Pretty obvious in this picture. Again, the edge floor joists need partial replacement as well. The window visible in the upper left corner of the picture is too broken to save.

 This is the upper part of the same corner. The horizontals running across the picture are actually dangling down. The ends have rotted. One end has fallen loose and is hanging from the trailer lighting wire.
This is a close up of the same area. You can just see the dangling horizontals at the right edge of the picture. I'm a bit puzzled about how to repair this portion. It has to be curved and support the ribs that will be repaired as well as support both metal edges at the corner. In this shot, as well, the back wall and skin have been totally removed. 

 Here's the outside view of the missing end wall. The floor joist at the bottom edge must be replaced, as well as some of the window framing, so it was just easier to open it all up.
A close up of the back corner. You can see how the end of the edge joist is rotted away. A portion of the rotted flooring has been removed, much like I did on the first section I repaired earlier. 

 Here is another angle of that corner. Again, rotted flooring is removed exposing the outside floor joist that will be replaced. There is another of those metal pans over the wheels I have to deal with like before.
The front end of that wheel pan and the front limit of the flooring I removed. The wall is fairly solid in front of this, and the floor is much better beyond this point. 

Back to the rear again. The other end of the rotted floor joist. The flooring is not so bad, but that board has got to go.

 This is the side wall opposite the entrance. Again, the side supports are rotted away, as well as some of the runners that support the wall metal. This window will be relocated to the back wall and it will be re-framed for a larger window.
More of that window. Parts of the horizontal runners and the short verticals can be re-used. 

Here are some of the surplus windows I have on hand. I'll use one of the better and larger ones in the new location mentioned above.

Believe it or not, the end is in sight!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

New Permaculture Design

My partner Cat Dancing and I recently attended a Meetup in Austin for a new intentional community. The group, Vajra Azaya, is seeking to obtain land in Williamson County to build a community that will serve as a teaching center for Permaculture, alternative building, alternative lifestyle, health, and so on. It seems to be a really exciting group.  I signed up for several of their committees, Permaculture, Sustainable Agriculture, and Alternative Building (I think.)

We also made a new friend at the meetup who has recently acquired six acres of land near Bastrop and would like to achieve a permaculture design for it. It's very promising. We're meeting with her this weekend to talk over what she wants to accomplish. 

In preparation for that, I visited the place last Monday and looked it over. It's an interesting L shaped piece of property near Lake Bastrop. It has a medium sized house and outbuildings, along with quite a few well established trees of many types. The long portion of the property is running north and south and borders on a wet-weather creek. Some research on the Bastrop Tax Office website netted me the "official" outline of the property as well as the legal description. With Google Earth and an add-on that shows contours, I got the topography of the property and the satellite picture of it. 
Inserting these different resources into my drafting program and accurately scaling them to useful overlays took part of an afternoon, but it gave me a really good overview of the property involved. 
This has generated several maps I can use when I talk to the owner this weekend.

I suppose we can call this Stage One of the design process. Next will be the interview with the owner, and more detailed inspection of the property to accurately lay out all the existing features. I'll take you along for the ride.

Also, if you haven't checked out Meetups, you should. It's a great way to find like minds in your area. There are groups for literally every possible interest. Check it out!

Spiraling Inward, or is that Outward?

Flower Spiral at Sherwood Forest Faire: Cat Dancing Creations #309

The spiral garden shown here represents several principles of Permaculture. It is an efficient use of space and resources. It maximizes "edge" which is where the most diversity of life is located in any system. The spiral is one of the natural forms that life takes. It even approaches "vertical" gardening, albeit in a small way.

Think about edge. Most yards are examples of of monoculture. Usually it's grass, grass, shrubs, grass, and so on. Even open fields, while more diverse overall, have that diversity spread over a larger area. What happens at the edge? Along a fence row, a creek bed, the edge of a wooded area, or even a road? Usually you see much more diverse life compressed in a small area.

There are lots of reasons for this. Birds roost on fences and trees and spread seeds of all kinds. Mowing and cultivation are undertaken more randomly along the edges. There are also varying amounts of water, animals, and shade along those edges. We can find many, many explanations but the overall observation is valid, life is more diverse along the edges.

In many people's view, the most dynamic and growing segment of human life exists among those who are living "on the edge", whichever edge they are speaking of. Face it, that is where growth happens. Let's grow some today!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Do Not Adjust Your Set!

Experiencing some technical difficulties here at RainCrow Rancho. It will be another few days before I can post a significantly new blog  here. Check out some of the older ones! See you soon!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day Blog

Here it is Mother's Day. For the first time in my life neither of my mother-figures is around to acknowledge directly. My mother passed on a couple of months back, and both my grandmothers are gone as well. I've always been close to my mothers-in-law as well. They have generally welcomed me with open arms. My first wife's mother, Laverne, is a very sweet lady, and still living, though I really haven't had much contact with her in a long time. Mami, my second wife's mother, literally adopted me into the family, calling me "son" at every opportunity. She passed as well several years ago. I have only met Cat Dancing's mother once, she tends to be a bit reclusive. She lives with another daughter in Fort Worth, but we haven't been in contact with her for awhile for various reasons. 

I find myself, then, to be a bit motherless this year.

I've always had a very conflicted relationship with the two women in closest "mother" proximity to me. My biological mother, Doris, gave me up when I was four. Intellectually I can appreciate the pressure she was under to let me go. It can't have been easy. Her marriage had broken up, she had two young kids, and no job. I say I understand intellectually, but emotionally I have always had a very hard time with it. 
I never got close to Momma. We shared a lot of traits. I got my love of books from her. I was only allowed to visit her a couple of times a year. It was on one of those visits in New Mexico that she took me on my first visit to a library. I was amazed at all the books that were free to read. I never really lived with her except for a year or so just recently. She needed a place to live, and I was living alone, I got her to move in. Ultimately, when I married Cat, I let Momma have my home until she got into subsidized housing. She lived there until she passed on this year. 
I feel bad about feeling distant from her, but she never actually raised me. My brother Steve actually returned to her at age 8 and lived with her, her second husband, and their two kids. So, he was there, and my half siblings, Tim and Laura, were raised there. 
I admit I felt some envy that they, and my eventual nieces and nephews, got all of the attention I felt I should have gotten. My mother died in January, 2011. 
I know she always regretted the breach between us, but I suppose I could never bring myself to forgive and forget.

My paternal grandmother, Mildred, or Mom, had her own demons. We all lived with them constantly. She herself  was the product of a dysfunctional home. Mom's mother died when Mom was born. Her father remarried and fathered a son. Mom's stepmother tried to completely shut her out and treated her cruelly. She ended up moving away to live with her aunt and uncle at the age of 10, I believe. 
I'll never know exactly why she was so determined to take on two small grandchildren to raise. She never let us forget that we were her "cross to bear". She let everyone know that it was her Christian duty to take us in when "nobody wanted us." I'd heard her tell friends and relatives about it many times during my life.
I've never understood why she had such an animosity toward my mother. I know there were many times she refused to let Momma visit us, and she made it difficult when we did get to see her. Even to a small child it was very obvious how she felt and the various ways she tried to manipulate us against Momma. Mom never gave me the same story twice about what happened in those early days. She offered several excuses over the years for her treatment of my mother, but none I ever heard had any substance in fact.
I'm fairly certain that her manipulations over the years did in fact have a direct effect on how I viewed my mother, but, at the same time, those same sorts of things served to drive me away from Mom as well. I just stopped believing anything she said. 
Mom died in 2009 at the age of 98, just a few months after my grandfather died at 100. She had suffered with dementia for several years before she died, and she had antagonized many friends and relatives before that.
I'd always received more unconditional love and support from mothers-in-law, than I ever had from Mom.
Through some counseling and Avatar I've been reaching some peace with all of that. I've been working with my issues of abandonment. It is no longer such a sore point as it was. I even understand what drove them both to do the things they did, somewhat. It just remains a fact of my life.
My love and appreciation go out to all those mothers out there who are doing, or did, your best to raise your kids. Yes, to Mom and Momma too.
Happy Mother's Day

Friday, May 6, 2011


"He would have been 20 today!"
I looked around in surprise. I was driving home to Seward Junction from my summer job in Georgetown. 
I was alone in the car.
It was the day before my 19th birthday.
The voice was very clear, as if someone were in the passenger seat of my 1964 Malibu.
It freaked me out a bit, you may guess, and you'd be right. As soon as I could I pulled over and stopped.

I was headed back to my classes at Central Texas College in a few weeks. Back to my degree plan of an Associates in Drafting and Design. 
Just the previous semester I had been told that my previous degree plan in Electronics wouldn't work out. I had taken all the courses offered, several of the required courses didn't make. The counselors had given me alternate courses to replace those, but, in the end, those courses didn't actually substitute for the degree.
I was a bit pissed off about it at the time. 
I'd wasted a lot of class time taking courses that didn't ultimately matter.
I decided the counselors didn't know what the heck they were talking about.
Here was a smug counselor sitting there telling me that the courses he himself had offered me as substitutes now would not substitute! Grrr!

That was in 1969. Electronics was a booming field. A two year Associates degree wasn't worth a whole lot, but the mere "certificate" they wanted me to accept would have been worth diddly.
I refused. 
I switched my major to Drafting and Design. I'd taken a couple of drafting courses for my Electronics degree and I'd done well, I liked the teacher, so I switched. Resigned myself to another year and a half of school to finish.
I was working the summer at Compton Motors in Georgetown, the GM dealer for the area. 
I'd grown up helping Dad (my grandfather) in his garage. He was an all around old time mechanic, fixing everything that came in: farm tractors, cars, trucks, farm equipment, small engines, welding repairs, anything. 
I applied at Compton's. I didn't get my own service bay, since I didn't own my own tools. They put me in with another mechanic as his helper. I was in the body shop where all the experienced, well seasoned, but non "factory" mechanics were. 
I liked it. It wasn't that different from the home garage.
Later in the summer, when the mechanic I was helping went on vacation, I moved into the main service shop and used the bay of another mechanic who was also on vacation.
They offered to keep me on, give me my own bay, but I just had to return to school.
Even then, a mechanic with his own bay at the dealership made nearly three times as much money per hour as I EVER made as a draftsman!
Oh well. Maybe I screwed up there!

Anyway, that's the space I was in when I had my warning! I was feeling pretty good about myself, actually. I was about to turn nineteen, I had a girlfriend, the boss was saying good things about my work, and I was going back to school.
And, a female voice I didn't recognize was predicting my doom in my car.
I don't guess I have to tell you that nothing happened.
I was very, very cautious for a year.
I was downright paranoid the last few weeks before my 20th birthday the following year.
I was almost disappointed!
I certainly preferred surviving, if there was a crisis of some sort, but nothing.
I'd like to think my caution prevented something from happening. Perhaps that is what happened. Maybe I was eavesdropping on a distant conversation that didn't even concern me.
That happens sometimes too.
I do sometimes have moments when I drift away, not exactly daydreaming, but a feeling that I'm experiencing someone else's reality. 
I call it "having someone else's deja vu." Because in a way that's what it feels like.
I'm left usually not remembering any of it, except the feeling that I was elsewhere for a moment.
Kinda weird sometimes.
This voice, though, was really clear. And, I've never forgotten.

I made it way past 20. All my wonderful kids are past it too, except for one. He'll be there too this summer.
I don't know.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

A Letter from Deity

(if anyone knows who originated this, let me know, meanwhile....)
Dear Children (and believe Us, that's all of you),

We consider ourselves pretty patient folks. For instance, look at the Grand Canyon. It took millions of years to get it right.  And about evolution? Wow, nothing is slower than designing  that whole Darwinian thing to take place, cell by cell, gene by gene. We've  been patient through your fashions, civilizations, wars and schemes, and the  countless ways you take Us for granted until you get yourselves into big  trouble again and again.

We want to let you know about some of the things  that its starting to tick Us off.

First of all, your religious rivalries are driving  Us up a wall. Enough already!! Let's get one thing straight: These are  YOUR religions, not Ours. We're the whole enchilada; We're beyond them all. Every one of your religions claims there is only one of Us (which by the way, is absolutely true. We just have many names). But in the very next  breath, each religion claims it's Our favorite one.

And, each claims its scriptures were written  personally by Us, and that all the other scriptures are man-made. Oy Vey! How do We  even begin to put a stop to such complicated nonsense?

Okay, listen up now. We're your Mother (and father), and We don't play favorites among Our children.

Also, We hate to break it to you, but We don't  write. Our longhand is awful, and We've always been more of doers anyway. So ALL  of your books, including those Bibles, were written by men  and women. They were inspired, remarkable people, but they also made  mistakes here and there. We made sure of that so that you would never  trust a written word more than your own living heart.

You see, one human being to Us, even a bum on the  street, is worth more than all the Holy Books in the world. That's just the  kind of folks we are. Our spirit is not a historical thing. It's alive right here, right now, as fresh as your next breath. Holy books and religious rites  are sacred and powerful, but not more so than the least of you. They were  only meant to steer you in the right direction, not to keep you arguing with each other, and certainly not to keep you from trusting  your own personal connection with Us.

Which brings Us to Our next point about your nonsense. You act like We need you and your religions to "stick up" for Us or "win souls" for Our sake. Please, don't do Us any favors. We can stand quite well on Our own, thank you. We don't need you to defend Us, and We don't need constant credit. We just want you to be good to each other.

And another thing, We don't get all worked up over money or politics, so stop dragging Our names into your dramas. For example, We swear to Us ***smile***, that We never threatened Oral Roberts. We never rode in any of Rajneesh's Rolls Royces. We never told Pat Robertson to run for President, and We've never, EVER had a conversation with Jim Baker, Jerry Falwell, or Jimmy Swaggart!! Of course, We certainly intend to... ***Grin*** The thing is, We want you to stop thinking of religion as some sort of loyalty pledge to Us. The true purpose of your religions is so that YOU can become more aware of Us, not the other way around. Believe Us, We know you already. We know what's in each of your hearts, and We love you with no strings attached.

Lighten up and enjoy Us. That's what religion is best for. What you seem to forget is how mysterious We are. You look at the petty differences in your scriptures and say, "Well, if THIS is the truth, then THAT can't be." But instead of trying to figure out Our Paradoxes and Unfathomable Nature, which by the way, you NEVER will, why not open your hearts to the simple common threads in all religions.

You know what We're talking about. Love and Respect everyone. Be kind, in when life is scary or confusing. Take courage and be of good cheer, for We are always with you. Learn how to be quiet, so you can hear Our still, small voice. (We don't like to shout.) Leave the world a better place by living your life with dignity and gracefulness, for you are Our own children. Hold back nothing from life, for the parts of you that can die surely will, and the parts that can't, won't. So don't worry, be happy. (We stole that last line from Bobby McFerrin.)

Simple stuff. Why do you keep making it so complicated? It's like you're always looking for an excuse to be upset. And We're very tired of being your main excuse. Do you think We care whether you call Us Yahweh, Jehovah, Allah, Diana, Wakantonka, Brahma, Cerridwen, Mother, Father, Goddess, God, or even the Void of Nirvana?  Do you think We care which of Our special children you feel closest to, Mary, Jesus, Buddha, Krishna, Gerald, Mohammed, or any of the others? You can call Us and Our special ones any name you choose, if only you would go about Our business of loving one another as We love you. How can you keep neglecting something so simple?

We're not telling you to abandon your religions. Enjoy your religions, honor them, learn from them, just as you should enjoy, honor and learn from your parents. But do you walk around telling everyone that your parents are better than theirs? Your religion, like your parents, may always have the most special place in your hearts, We don't mind that at all. And We don't want you to combine all the Great Traditions in One Big Mess. Each religion is unique for a reason. Each has a unique style so that people can find the best path for themselves.

Know that Our Special Children, the ones that your religions revolve around, all live in the same place, Our Heart, and they get along perfectly, We assure you. The clergy must stop creating a myth of sibling rivalry where there is none. Our Blessed Children of Earth, the world has grown too small for your pervasive religious bigotry and confusion. The whole planet is connected by air travel, satellite dishes, telephones, fax machines, rock concerts, diseases, and mutual needs and concerns.

Get with the program!! If you really want to help, then commit yourselves to figuring out how to feed your hungry, clothe your naked, protect your abused, and shelter your poor. And just as importantly, make your own everyday life a shining example of kindness and good humor. We've given you all the resources you need, if only you abandon your fear of each other and begin living, loving and laughing together.

We're not really ticked off. We just wanted to grab your attention because We hate to see you suffer. You have free will to choose your own paths, and We just want you to be happy.

In Perfect Love and Perfect Trust,

A Cool Picture

I just had to share a picture we received from artist Chuck Bryan featuring our Sherwood Forest Faire booth. He did a great job! You can see Cat Dancing dancing in the center, (and another cat dancing on the roof). I'm on the left porch playing my flute, and Sir Silvanus is on the right side sitting down. I love all the detail. Well done, Sir Chuck!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Tarot and I

   My partner, Cat Dancing has her own excellent Tarot Blog, check it out. There is a button for it on this page. However, I have my own card story to tell here.
   First, a bit of history. From the time I was a teen I have been fascinated by the Tarot. I got my first deck, the ubiquitous Rider-Waite-Smith deck, when I was eighteen. At the time I had dated a young witch named Leslie. The cards were incredibly detailed and interesting. The art just got to me. I also got Waite's paperback on the cards, but I just couldn't get my head around the meanings. It was simply the art and the fact there was meaning there that interested me. For several years I would pull the cards out and look at them, wondering what I was missing.
   Over time I began to pick up other decks of the Tarot. I would find them at garage sales, used book stores, thrift stores and friends would gift me with them. Again, I loved the various artistic takes on the themes.
   My step-daughter, Sara, became interested and I let her use my original deck. Later, I tried to trade her out of them, but she refused. I found another Rider-Waite-Smith deck soon, and it felt like coming home again.
   Cat and I met in 2007. She was already a professional Tarot reader and teacher of several years. We met online originally. We had never really met in person, although we were in similar orbits. As a reader and teacher, Cat had her own collection of Tarot decks. When she discovered that I also had several decks, she thought we should meet. The result, as they say, is history. We've been fairly inseparable ever since.
   Together we still attract new decks now and then. We now have over fifty decks of Tarot and oracle cards.
   Before meeting Cat, I was only interested in the art of the cards. I began attending all of Cat's various classes in the Tarot and began to learn something of the history and meanings associated with them. In my own small way, I have learned to read the cards. 
   One of the truisms of using the Tarot is that the cards have a sense of humor. They usually tell you what you NEED to know, but not always what you WANT to hear. And often, parts of the readings will prick your bubble in not so subtle ways if you pay attention.
   One story about that involves the cards you see above. No, they're not tarot cards. However, there are relationships between the Tarot and ordinary playing cards. I know several readers who use playing cards for their divination. Here is what happened.
   I had begun a practice of drawing three Tarot cards as a daily reading. I had a set way of doing it, shuffle the deck a few times till it felt right, cut the deck. The card just below the cut indicates past, the card at the cut is present, and the card above the cut is future. As I said, I was doing this daily. It was a very interesting process, and often illuminating.
   One day I hadn't done my daily three cards. I was feeling a bit down from certain things happening in my life, and as I often do at those times I went for a walk. We live on a twisty dirt road in the country near McDade, Texas. I was walking along, and it came to me that I had not drawn my three cards that day. Moments later, I saw something sticking out of a wheel rut in the road. I stopped. It was the corner of a playing card. I picked it up. 
   A playing card, Jack of Clubs, in very nice condition. I thought, hmmm. It's a card! ( I had a firm grasp on the obvious!) I kept walking. 
   Within a few yards I found another card. This one was the four of spades. Again, it was half buried in the dirt but in good shape. As I walked on I found one more card, the Queen of diamonds. 
   My walk covered about a mile of the dirt road. (Half a mile north to the pavement, turn around and walk back.) I didn't find any more cards. 
   It dawned on me. I hadn't drawn my usual three Tarot cards, but I had been given three cards. As I looked at them and compared them with their equivalent Tarot counterparts, I got two messages. One was private and definitely relevant to my situation, the other was "you're gonna get your three cards no matter what!" 
   An ironic message from the universe, how refreshing!
   I finished my walk.
   A few weeks later, I found myself walking again. Half in jest I thought, "okay, where's my cards today!" A few steps further I literally stumbled across another card, this one the eight of spades. Again, relevant to my situation. I felt a bit chastened.
   Another few weeks after that, I was walking at lunch near where I worked. This was near the town of Kyle, Texas, a good 60 miles from home. My thoughts went back to my earlier walks, and I almost immediately found another card beside the road. This one was from a similar deck, but it was the Jack of hearts. 
   Apparently the cards were following me around.
   I got the message. I often get readings of the cards that give me a tweak, and I've come to take them in stride, somewhat. It's always interesting, though.
   A caveat. In my own interpretation of the cards, I used their Tarot equivalents. In fact, if you look into divination with playing cards, those cards have a fairly complex and somewhat different set of meanings of their own. I'm just letting you know.
   Thanks for reading.