Saturday, June 20, 2015

High Summer

High summer holds the earth. 
Hearts all whole.
Sure on this shining night I weep for wonder wand'ring far
Of shadows on the stars.
     --James Agee, Sure On This Shining Night

It was warm today, warm, not hot. I got up early, not meaning to, but the sunlight would not let me sleep further. I had some plans for the day, a couple of readings and a rare trip shopping. Before then, however, I had to verify some software changes really worked.

It was too early for the software changes. My part of the working weekend was small and I was glad for that. As soon as they called me, I could make sure they worked, make sure the data looked good, make sure the changes didn’t break something else.

I checked up on Alice, a little close inspection just to be sure she was doing better. She is doing much better and seems better than she has in a long time. I think now that the antibiotics she took for her kitty-cat pancreatitis had an overall “sunshine” effect of clearing up just about anything that was ailing her. Further, I think she may have had some kind of low-grade infection for a while. I posted something funny on Facebook because people had been asking how she was doing, imagining that she, like some famous-for-being-famous-for-five-minutes person in too deep and too much in the public eye, woke up from anesthesia certain that she was drugged and given a Brazilian wax. Horrors by light of day!

The Sun in the Tarot is sometimes thought to be good no matter what. Even reversed, for those who read with reversals, the Sun’s positive light shines through just about everything. There’s no dark side of the Sun. Or is there?

The Sun is not welcomed by everyone. One of my classmates in high school had a skin condition that gave her an allergic hives-like reaction when exposed to the sun. That was a tough problem to manage in New Mexico, where sunlight was obscured more often by dust storms than rain storms. If the Sun came up in a reading for her, would it be good? Would it mean hide? Cover up? Set her life by the opposite of most of society and become safely nocturnal?

The Sun is good news and bad news for amateur photographers too. When the Sun is high in the sky, the breath-taking views of the Grand Canyon from the South Rim are washed out glare, dust and rocks and a reminder to stay at least your own height in distance from the edge of the cliff. White clouds sail across a light blue sky with little definition. It is hot in the summer there. There are stories of the numbers of people who go over the edge. The dry trees, some dead, some alive gnarl towards the edge of the irregular canyon, and provide one of my favorite experiences, the smell of pinon pine sap.

As the Sun falls low in the sky toward the end of the day, no longer glaring down on all it rules, the canyon’s colors come alive in reds, purples, oranges, blues and yellows with a last hurrah of the coraling curtains of clouds before it rests, and lets all others rest, for another cooling evening. Colors and creatures come out then. Do they flee the Sun, the Sun that brings life and cooks it to dust and ashes?

That evening at the Grand Canyon, the angle of light at Monterey Bay, California, the brilliant sunsets in New Mexico are all made possible by the Sun, the Sun in the right position.

The Sun can expose the truth, bring realization. It can also dazzle and blind, create mirages in the desert or a lonely stretch of blacktop road. It can warm; it can burn. A happy day can turn into a sleepless night of pain.

Is the Sun always good?

A reading like this, the 10 of Swords, The Sun, the 9 of Swords seldom makes a “sunny” message. A betrayal has come to light and is exposed, known, perhaps known to all, and the realization that all illusions are gone, dreams are over and nothing but the real world faces the person betrayed. It’s hard to call this a positive reading. The shadows on the Sun may be the darkest of all.

In a larger sense, though, while a betrayal never feels good, perhaps it may be best to know, to know for certain finally and to wake to a new day even in sorrow so that the Soul may progress on its journey. It may seem like the longest day, but we and the Sun rest and begin again tomorrow.

Happy Summer Solstice!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Public Offering

I’m so glad I’m not a celebrity. I have an inkling every once in a while of what it’s like to be pursued by the wrong person.

In my Tarot life, I originally set up my Facebook account to the settings that make everything public. 

My background in technology has taught me that no matter how personal a conversation you thinking you’re having, if it’s electronic, it’s recorded somewhere and accessible by people other than the one you think you’re talking to. So I originally figured my Tarot life was open, out loud, ordinary, unremarkable or at least amusing.

Recently, some strange things have been showing up in my electronic world so I took advantage of the Facebook settings to limit access somewhat. It’s helped a little but there are still stories to tell.

When I was younger and svelte, I got used to catcalls from construction workers. I thought they were disgusting and stupid but also threatening, that implied threat that men stronger and faster than I am could overpower me if they dared. Oh, I would have put up a fight, no doubt. But the fear, just the fear, that made what should sound like a compliment turn into something menacing was bullying on a level that terrified me, revolted me and basically made all men seem like coarse slime. I hated that feeling. I liked men, still do, so why would they do something so mean? I realized I was an object, not a person in that instance. I didn’t want to be an object.

Then one day while I was in the public library in my unremarkable town in southern Illinois, the police swarmed in and surrounded the young man on the other side of the stacks from me. I had not noticed. The policeman and librarians told me later. He was stalking me. As I hummed happily to myself, savoring books on antique glass and china, looking up marks and dates and manufacturers, researching patterns and processes, then popping over to Agatha Christie, remembering my mother saying she could write a better mystery (she never did), I noticed the Army green jacket through the stacks and thought idly how odd it was that the guy was interested in the books on the other side of the shelves. When the police came and took him away, I was stunned, then shaken, then scared, then reassured. I’d dodged some awful situation and was grateful for others looking out for me.

Cyber-stalking can be much more subtle. Someone can have the account of someone you know or they can friend a bunch of your friends. Then they send you a friend request and you check—briefly—and think even if you don’t recognize the name, the folks in your home town or your Tarot community must be real friends with this person and you might accept their offer.

Most of the time people are just people, not stalkers or creeps. They have good days and bad. They have political opinions you agree with or don’t, take subjects too seriously or not seriously enough, have pet causes that resonate with yours—or not. Most of the time, people are OK.

Then there are people who presume to be innocuous enthusiasts who are actually advanced hackers who are looking for something valuable to them in your world. I don’t “get” why people would do this, but then again I’m too nice. I don’t get why people will threaten each other or feel threatened by someone, why people will hurt animals or feel little regard for nature or other people, why people will persist in sharing negativity and spurn any ideas on how to resolve it. I don’t “get” that. That’s me.

And some people just feed off others’ energy. My friend Fortune says there is a word in Danish, superlomsk. It’s the “creeptastic” feeling you get when being menaced by a vampire only perhaps moreso. Sometimes it’s just love. Sometimes, it’s like the Devil.

Reading in public venues opens me to a wide variety of people and their problems. I’m glad to be able to help in some small way and always emphasize to my clients in public or private readings that they have free will. They can choose their next actions. But I get surprised sometimes, of course.

Recently I had my table up at a public venue. Happily in the shade on a warm midday, I welcomed the brave souls who had never, ever had a Tarot reading before. A few of the readings were upbeat. A few were heavy and deep. As the sun rose high in the weekend sky, I stood to stretch my legs, knocked my cards off my table, laughed and bent to pick them up. I looked up to see a middle-aged man in a polo shirt and khakis walking towards the table, smiling. I quickly scooped up the rest of the fallen cards, then looked up.

He stood in front of my table smiling, looking at me with shark’s eyes, blue irises thin around suddenly wide chasms of pupils. He was an unremarkable man, clean, clean-shaven, medium everything except his close-cropped light-brown hair around his balding hairline.

“Hiiiiiiiii, Marrrrrrrciaaaaaaa.” He looked me up and down and scanned my table. He paused too long. Something wasn’t right.

“Did you want a reading?” I asked, still standing, not wanting to make myself smaller in front of a predator. I smiled too. It was self-defense. I faced him square on.

“I just have one question,” he said, shark eyes never leaving mine as he spoke. “Is there anyone here as pretty as you are?”

A thousand things filled my mind, all the alternate realities based on my response. I assessed the effectiveness and lung capacity should I determine screaming bloody murder at a Farmers Market was the right response. My matching alternate personalities appeared in my mind, only. I reviewed the possibilities:

SmartAss: Still live with your mom, huh?

BabyBoomer: That line didn’t work 30 years ago either.

CompletelySarcastic: Eeek. It’s a man.

PublicOfficial: Move along, sir. There’s nothing to see here.

And a lingering favorite, NinjaPsychic: Back up slowly or I will kill you with my mind.

I resisted all those temptations, understanding that any engagement, positive or negative, was the response he wanted. Whether he was a socially awkward sincere admirer or serial killer or anything in between, the answer was still, No. No way. What part of no…? No, thank you.

I gestured broadly with both arms wide, again increasing apparent size, some lizard-brain reaction from some non-human ancestor.

“Why, look around you! Everyone is pretty here!”

He stepped back, shark-eyes back to blue, hands in pockets and turned away.

I offer my services reading cards for a small fee. I have boundaries. And I like this work. If you want to meet me, strike up a real conversation with me. Leave the lines and the shark-eyes at home.

Best wishes.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

A Rat Lay Dead--A Love Story

I was all set for a quiet weekend and unaccountably I woke up earlier than I expected. A member of the British Royal Family said something about never passing up the opportunity to go to the loo. This applies to young dogs too, so I got Louie up and we walked outside.

It wasn’t really that early. It was just earlier than I meant to get up. But the 3-footed squirrel who resides in my yard was making a real racket. She’s usually pretty quiet and actually rather friendly, considering somewhere along the way she suffered a terrible accident and lost her right front paw. In spite of this injury, she gets around well, leaps from the oak tree to the fence and back, follows the circuit of squirrel path from the oak tree to the magnolia, to the roof, to the magnolia on the side yard to the crepe myrtle, to the side fencing, to the Fuji apple, to the plum tree and back to home base, the oak. The apples, plums and acorns keep her well fed and the birdfeeders invite the Little Creatures of the Yard also.

So that was actually what the racket was about. She pointed out to me and then also to Louie that there was, alas, an issue that I needed to deal with. First, was the matter of Alice the cat who apparently had made a break for it sometime during the nightly trips to the backyard that The Hubs makes with both dogs. He carries the elder statesman Quincy down the stairs since he’s not much on stairs nowadays in either direction. Nobody is as sharp as they might wish at 2:30 or 3:00 am except of course Alice who takes advantage of the boys on their wobbly pegs and inattention, and she easily slipped out the door.

I used to be utterly horrified when Alice would slip out. I’ve had cats killed in the streets because my parents would not allow indoor cats. I’m a staunch indoor cat person. Over time I realize that at least Alice has no intention of leaving the yard and, much better than either of the dogs, comes when she is called.

Alice sat on the low brick wall, the remains of an old summerhouse, under the plum tree. She was entirely too close to Mother Squirrel. And I was instructed to do something about this. Now. 

Neighborhood outdoor cats are much more inclined to climb trees than Alice. Alice prefers her prey to come to her and enjoy taking her heart’s ease in the morning air, with an occasional glance at the squirrel. But she had no intention of climbing a tree.

Second, and as it turned out more inspiring, on Mother Squirrel’s list was, and she did in fact point it out to me, the small dead rat near the patio of the former summerhouse.

“Oh,” sharp as ever in the morning, I mutter, “a rat. Dead, huh?”

Louie nosed the rat and, since I was interested in it, picked it up in his mouth and took a few gamboling dance steps sideways, offering a rousing game of Get the Dead Rat.

“Louie!” I tried to use my Stern Voice. I’m told I’m spectacularly unsuccessful at sounding stern. “Drop it right now!”

Unaccountably, he did.  Without a second thought, I stepped over, picked the unfortunate up by the end of his now cool tail and set him out of doggy range.  This started a chain of creative events that lasted the weekend.

In the quiet of the morning, I began the story with the obituary of one Rat, struck down mysteriously in the prime of rodent life and shared it on Facebook.

It wasn’t clear that Alice was the culprit although she was seen near the deceased when he was found. The Hubs, in defense of Alice, made a good case that it could not have been her since Rat was found in his entirety with just a bit of saliva at his neck and shoulders. After all, Louie had moved the body, and if you’ve ever watched a whodunit you’ll know that will always get suspicions aimed at That Guy.

Fictional CROX NEWS, a station known for making a mountain out of a molehill with the neighborhood fauna, got the exclusive with shots of the major characters in the dramatic investigation. My Facebook friends joined in the investigation with many theories of the crime.
Who killed Rat? His wife, always treated like a princess, or so she claims? As it unfolded, PerpPetual Life, the animal life insurance company wouldn’t confirm that there was a life insurance policy on Rat, but moved quickly to make an appearance at the scene. Was there a drug connection with the New York Sewer Rats who were fast to send their “condolences” on the loss, although Rat himself had made every effort to distinguish himself as a backyard resident of honest, if modest, means. Were Alice and Louie in on it together or was Louie an unwitting dupe? And finally, before charges were filed, Judge Quincy came out of retirement to oversee the moving of the body to the morgue. And what about Baby, a kitten of uncertain loyalties who spoke up early as a character reference, but apparently a reference for the highest bidder?

Alice and Louie were held on suspicion of murder and interrogated relentlessly by cynical local police. A team of special investigators from PerpLife was called in and by the next day the yard was crawling with S. Nail and his teammates. Mr. Nail, who declined to give any particulars about their investigation, gave a brief interview with CROX NEWS but spoke only about his company’s procedures and the Serious Undertaking and Crime Control Specialists (SUCCS) team searching for the facts on behalf of PerpLife. The District Attorney, a shady politician if I ever saw one (thanks to artist Debra Klopp Kersey) came out in support of law and order and justice for Rat and his family.

There was even a break in the broadcast for an ad from the local undertaker, Kelly’s Happy Endings.
In the end, the Coroner, another seeming member of the Good Old Cats Club (thanks to ceramics artist Sharon Boom) pronounced the death a “raticide by person or persons unknown”. The suspects were released and no charges were filed because of insufficient evidence.

Alice was seen reading the tabloids in disgust and is rumored to be considering a cosmetics modeling offer or two. When asked if she is opposed to animal testing, she replied she was not if free samples were available.

Louie was seen with a blunt object that turned out to be a paper towel roll. While it’s unclear whether this is the actual murder weapon, one of the many unknowns in the case, Louie looked very worried when his photo was snapped.

And the investigation continues. But, I have to say, sad as it is that somehow in my very own backyard a small furry creature met his 10 of Swords end, this has to be the most fun I’ve ever had with a dead rat.

Best wishes!