Sunday, September 26, 2010

Chapter 28 – Spring Equinox Lesson

Nola had tried to figure out exactly how to give the Spring Equinox lesson. There were 2 basic approaches. One was to have it be a simple a seed blessing ritual, with hints and suggestions about male and female energies and fertility. Which could work because of all the actual gardening they and been doing and because she intended to bless seeds to be used in the landscaping during the ritual. The other was to go at it straight on and talk about it like the sexual ritual it really was. She figured that Owen wouldn’t let her get away with just talking about blessing seeds and the earth’s fertility no matter how much she talked gardening. She had decided not to decide because she could teach it either way. She was going to let the student lead where he needed to go.

Owen looked over the back yard. The new salt water pool was full and fully functional. Back yard paving around the pool was finished. The bamboo had been planted. The rest of the back yard was bare. The trees they needed would be delivered from the NorthShore in 2 weeks. He heard Nola open the gate and met her in the driveway.

And because she saw him come from the backyard said, “Hi, looking over the pool?”
“Yes, it’s finished but it seriously needs your touch.”
“What it needs is for the trees to be delivered from the NorthShore.”
“They’ll be here in 2 weeks. Then you can work your magic.”
“It’s not magic, it’s gardening. Fingers in the dirt. Sweating. Digging. Ask Joe and Louis and the rest of the crew if they think the work they are doing is magic. They’ll poke you in the eye.”
And he laughed and opened the door to the kitchen to let her in.

He already had a beer out. “What would you like?”
“Water is good.”
“San Pellegrino on the way.”
“You spoil me.”
“Yes, every chance I get.
She laughed and thought the only man I’ve ever know who has even tried. And then she remembered her other Taurus who had also done what he could to pamper her.”
“What are you thinking?”
“Oh just appreciating the Taurian pampering.”
He smiled and said, “To the library.” and waved his hand for her to go first.

She settled into the sofa so she could look out the French doors. Owen settled into the corner where he often did his reading and reached for the manual. And said and he handed it to her, “Go ahead, and tell me what you want me to read.”
She laughed lightly. “Next week we’ll have the Full Moon and the Spring Equinox on the same day. Traditionally when the Treguenda and the Vegilione fall on the same day the Full Moon takes precedence and the Treguenda is skipped.”
“Really? Now that seems backwards?”
“I agree. We get a Full Moon every month. We get each Treguenda only once a year. But I was taught that it’s done this way to acknowledge the importance of the Full Moon and the Goddess and the beginnings of this path.”
“So does that mean we have to do the Full Moon Ritual and I don’t get to do the Spring Equinox Ritual?”
“Well there’s usually a way around this if you’re willing to either do 2 rituals back to back on the same night or the Full Moon one night and the Treguenda the next.”
“I get it so we can do the Full Moon on Thursday and Spring Equinox on Friday.”
“If you’re willing.”
“Yeah!”
She smiled, “OK, I’ll be here to start the Full Moon at the normal 9PM start time and then I’ll be back on Friday at 9PM for the Spring Equinox ritual. We really should go over the ritual because we won’t be able to do it exactly with only 2 people. But most rituals can be modified to work for whatever the number of participants.” And she flipped to the ritual in the manual.
“Have you read the ritual”
“Yes but it’s been a few weeks.”
We’ll go over it again. Let me check the supply list. And she ran her finger down the pages. “I have precut white clothes to use in the ritual box. There are 2 small pillar candles in there that can be used for the light of the God & Goddess returning. I’ll have to bring the 2 pouches and cords. I also have the seeds that we need to bless.”
She looked up at and decided to dive in and see what kind of reaction she would get. “This is the ritual where the Goddess begins her ascent from the underworld. She’s been there since Shadowfest. It’s also the ritual where we mark the transition from the Wolf Year to the Stag Year from Lupercus to Kern. One of the things done in the ritual is to symbolize the death of Lupercus by staining the cloth with wine. The seeds to be blessed are placed on top of this cloth. The seeds are blessed by the sacrifice of the Wolf God and the return of the Goddess. In ancient times, the seed blessing is a very practical part of the ritual. Quite simply, please help these grow so we can eat.”
“Here why don’t you read the Myth of Ascent.” And she handed him the book.
He grinned at her, “I knew you couldn’t resist making me read.” Then he read:
“Now the time came in the Hidden Realm of Shadows that Uni would bear the Child of the Great Dark Lord. And the Lords of the Four Corners cam and beheld the new born god. They spoke to Uni of the misery of the people who lived upon the World, and how they suffered in the cold and darkness. So Uni bid the Lords to carry her son to the world, and to the people rejoiced for the Sun God had returned.”
“This is essentially the story of the Winter Solstice. You can keep reading.”
“And it came to pass that Uni longed for the light of the world, and for Her many children. So she journeyed and was welcomed with great celebration.”
“God first. Goddess second. Sound familiar?”
“Like the altar casting.” And she nodded and indicated that he should keep reading.
“Then Uni saw the splendor of the new god as he crossed the heavens and she desired him. But each night He returned to the Hidden Realm and could not see the beauty of the Goddess in the night sky”
“This is classic Sun Moon chasing each other and eventually catching each other mythos. It shows up in many, many cultures.” And she nodded and he kept reading.
“So one morning the Goddess arose as the God came up from the Hidden Realm, and She bathed nude in the sacred lake of Nemi. The Lords of the Four Corners appeared to Him and said, “Behold the sweet beauty of the Goddess of the Earth.” And he looked upon Her and was struck with Her beauty so that he descended upon the Earth in the form of a Great Stag.”
Nola said, “She desires him and he is unaware of her. She changes, as the moon changes until she rises with the sun and when He sees her he desires her and returns to the Earth as a Stag. We have the classic Sun Moon chasing and catching each other and the changing of the Wolf God and the Stag God in one paragraph.”
He smiled and kept reading.
“‘I have come to play beside your bath’ He said, but Uni gazed upon the stag and said, ‘You are not a stag but a god!’ Then He answered, ‘I am Kern, God of the Forest. Yet as I stand upon the world, I touch the sky, and I am Lupercus, the Sun, who banishes the Wolf Night. But beyond all of this I am Tanus, the first born of all the Gods!’ ” And she nodded for him to keep reading.
“Uni smiled and stepped forth from the water in all Her beauty, ‘I am Fana, goddess of the forest, yet even as I stand before you I am Diana goddess of the Moon. But beyond all this I am Tana, first born of all the Goddesses!’ ”
This acknowledges the 3 Clans: Earth, Moon, Stars; Fanara, Janara, Tanara. But it also has the players acknowledging divinity in each other.” And she nodded for him to read.
“And Faunus took Her by the hand, and together they walked the meadows and forests, telling their tales of ancient mysteries. They loved and were One and together they ruled over the world. Yet even in love Uni knew that the god would soon cross over to the Hidden Realm and Death would come to the World. Then must She descend and embrace the Dark Lord, and bear the fruit of their Union.”
“’Loved and were One.’ The Streghe believe that there is God and Goddess, male and female, masculine and feminine, but beyond all this there is that which is both together and neither because it is more. So much more that we humans have had a hard time fathoming the concept. This is why we use the symbols provided by Nature, male and female as representations. But we know that there is more beyond the symbology. The other thing that is in this passage is the fact that the Goddess, the moon goddess, who weaves constantly changing and yet unchanging through out the entire year, is aware of the annual solar cycle and the cycle of death and rebirth.”
He put the book down on his lap and took a sip of his beer before he said, “These myths are sure packed with a lot of stuff.”
And she smiled. “The myths of Ascent and Descent are what is left to us of what those who came before us knew and thought. We can weave explanations around the Myths. We have Aradia’s Words as interpretation on how we should live. But these myths are the core and the solar Treguenda rituals that we perform are what help make the myths come alive for us.”
And she let that soak in for a minute, waiting for questions that didn’t come. So she held her hand out for the manual and he gave it to her. “The rest of the ritual is symbolic. The Goddess pillar candle symbolizes the Goddess’ return. The priestess takes the Goddess pillar around the circle one full circuit North clockwise back to North and stopping in the East. A pouch with soil is tied around a female, representing the Goddess, and she disrobes and is blessed by a male. Wine is used to wet the soil in the pouch. And some of the damp soil is added to the cauldron. The Goddess arrives and provides the fertile soil.” And she paused for effect, “Then the God pillar candle is taken around by a priest, symbolizing the God’s return. The God Pillar candle is taken around the circle starting 3 full circuits starting at the North and stopping at the East before he is presented to the Goddess.”
And she paused, “Why do you think the Goddess candle goes around once and the God 3 times?”
He had been listening intently and wasn’t quite prepared for a question. Then it came to him. “Because the goddess has just returned from the Underworld, but the God has been out and about for awhile.”
“Exactly.” And she smiled at her student and continued. “A male representing the God now has the pouch of seeds tied around his waist. He is still robed and blessed by the Priestess. Then seeds are removed from the pouch and added to the cauldron. I’m sure you can see the symbology there; soil-female, seeds-male and how important the fertility of the seeds and of the tribe would have been. Then Priestess, as symbolic Goddess, removes the robe of the Priest, as symbolic God, and they bless each other with the words “Blessed be the Plow the Seed and the Furrow. And I’m sure you can see that is about more than just farming.”
And he chuckled. And she smiled back.
He said, “It’s rich in symbology but it’s all pretty simple symbology. It’s all about the earth and renewal and seeds and rebirth and human sexuality and fertility.”
She said, “Yep.” and he put his hand out for the manual. So she passed it back to him. And he read, “Grove members will later bury the pouch in a planting field (for an increase in crops) or will suspend it from a tree within the woods (for an abundant hunt).” And she interjected, “Yes practical magic as a part of the ritual.” And he nodded and smiled as he finished reading, “In ancient times the entire Grove would copulate with one another upon the tilled soil or within the woods to charge the area with fertile energy.” And he smiled and let that hang in the air.
And she smiled back. And waited for a question. Until he finally said, “Well?”
“Well what?”
“Well, in ancient times… what about today?”
“Well sex can be a part of the ritual. It typically isn’t for non-initiates. But it isn’t strictly forbidden.”
“Well?”
“Well what?’
“Will it be a part of our ritual?”
“I don’t know. Do you understand the symbology? Are you ok with it?”
“Do you think I understand the symbology?” he said dryly.
“Yes I do.”
“Are you ok with it?”
“I’m a 3rd degree priestess.”
“So will sex be a part of our ritual?”
“Would you be ok with that?”
“Yes.”
“Are you free from disease?”
“What the hell kind of question is that?”
“A very practical and necessary question.”
And he sighed and conceded she was right and answered, “Yes, I have given blood regularly since I was in college and saw how important it was to save a friend of mine’s life after a terrible car accident. If I had AIDS they would tell me.”
“I give blood regularly too. I’m 0 negative, the universal donor, and they call me every 8 weeks.”
“Anything else I should know about your sexual health?”
“Damn it woman, No. I’m clean.”
“So am I. And I’m on the pill. We’ll see.”
“We’ll see. Not a yes. Not a no. We’ll see.”
“Yes, we’ll see. There is no telling what will actually happen. The Grigori and the Gods watch and I’m counting on them to keep us out of trouble. So we will see what the energy is the actual night of the ritual.”
He wanted a definitive answer yes. But maybe would have to do.

She said, “When we do the ritual, you will have to be the Priest and bless me when I have the pouch of seeds on. You will have to take the God candle around the circle. You will have to have the pouch of seeds tied to you. I will do all the maiden, goddess, priestess part and read anything we need from the altar. I’d really appreciate it if you would cast the circle. You’ve gotten quite good at it.”
And at that he smiled.
“Do you have any questions about the ritual?”
“Other than looking for a definitive answer it doesn’t look like I’ll get, No.”
“Well Ok then, I’ll see you on Thursday for the Full Moon and on Friday for Spring Equinox.”
“Wait, you’re all business and you’re leaving?”
She laughed and stood up. “I’m doing my best to be a good teacher here. I don’t want you to take what we do lightly. So yes, tonight I’m all business and I’m leaving. I’ll see you 2 nights next week for ritual. You aren’t being neglected.” And he got up too and started with his disappointed 10 year old face. But she held her hands out to him and hooked his arm. In the driveway she kissed him on his cheek and said, “Reread the ritual and I’ll see you next week. Night, Owen.”
“Night, Nola.”

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Moon moves the current and the current moves the shrimp

The quote below is Excerpted from Bayou Farewell by Mike Tidwell.

A fascinating and prescient title. But don't take my word for it. Here is a 2005 interview with Mother Jones.
Or this review by PeaceCorps writer William Siegel.

"In mid-autumn in the Gulf of Mexico, when the first serious cold fronts drift down from the nation's midsection and push haltingly across Louisiana's subtropical cost, the temperature of the ocean water begins to drop considerably. Miles offshore inside the minuscule brain of Louisiana's female brown shrimp - aka Farfane penaeus aztecus - this sudden Gulf cooling acts as an ancient trigger.

The female shrimp has already mated. She did so months earlier, back in the marsh, just after molting, when she was still sexually immature. She had carried the male sperm in a sac in her head all this time, and now, in the cooling weather of the open ocean, at a depth of at least thirty feet, she begins to spawn. From ovaries barely the size of peas, inside a body maybe six inches long, a half a million eggs somehow emerge. The eggs enter the cool water and the drift, subsumed in the vast ocean environment, sprayed only with a protective coat of jelly as a parting maternal act, then left totally on their own.

By November the water off Louisiana's coast is a veritable soup of trillions and trillions of microscopic shrimp larvae squirming with new life. So many are there that is all the larvae of just three successive generations of Farfante penaeus aztecus were to survive to adulthood and reproduce, the resulting shrimp would be equal to the volume of the sun in less than two years. A few more and every inch of the universe would be filled with shrimp, the mass of crustaceans expanding outward at the speed of light.

But of course most larvae don't grow to be adults. They'll be devoured by a fantastic array of predators, or they'll lose their way during the long migration as epic and perilous as that of the Pacific salmon and the common eel.

Afloat in the Gulf current, the spherical shrimp eggs hatch into first-phase larvae less than a millimeter in size, having not the look of shrimp but of grotesque monsters worthy of battle with Odysseus. They have only one eye, their bodies opaque and pear shaped, with triangular spines and whiplike appendages for swimming. A series of successive molts give the larvae the even stranger look of multi-limbed space aliens, with dozens of barbed digits protruding from bifurcating arms, a video-game villain from a galaxy far, far away.

But after two or three weeks, these odd changes stop and the final product emerges at last: tiny shrimp just half and inch long, but with the familiar stalked eyes and armoured tail and protruding antennae longer than the body itself. Now in order to survive, these newly morphed creatures must somehow get themselves out of the big ocean and into the estuarine coastal marshes, a long way to the north.

For help, the infant crustaceans, roughly the length and width of grains of rice, turn to a spherical body 92 million miles away in outer space, a G2 dwarf star otherwise known as our sun. Twice a month this fiery body of hydrogen gas nearly a million miles in diameter joins forces with the earth's moon, a mere 238,000 miles away, to create a combined gravitational and centrifugal force of enormous power. This force generates ocean tides on earth -- so-called spring tides -- which are much greater than the tides occurring daily throughout the rest of the month. Every two weeks, when the moon shows itself to the earth either as a barely visible new moon or as a blazing full moon, the phenomenon is at work: the moon and the sun have fallen into a straight line relative to the earth, reinforcing each other's gravitational tug, pulling the earth's oceans into two bulging masses of liquid on opposite sides of the globe. These fantastic waves, these great heaping ridges of water, are brought into collision with the earth's landmasses twice a day as the planet rotates. This, in the simplest terms, is how tides happen, and spring tides are the bimonthly champions. So strong is the combined pull of the sun and moon during this period that even the earth's atmosphere bends outward and parts of the continents bulge slightly.

For the trillions of minute shrimp struggling down there in the earth's Gulf of Mexico, this celestial force is plenty strong enough to bear them landward in a high incoming tide that squeezes between Louisiana's barrier islands and sweeps the shrimp up into the food-rich interior marshes. By March thanks to the spring tides, all the autumn-spawned brown shrimp lucky enough to have survived the marathon journey -- perhaps one in a hundred - are now inside the estuary nursery grounds where they begin to feed ravenously.

Brown shrimp, as they grow up, a famously indiscriminate eaters. They are what biologists call "encounter feeders" and "opportunistic omnivores", meaning they'll eat pretty much whatever organic decaying matter they stumble into: decaying plants, animals, algae, fecal pellets, amphipods. Sometimes each other.

This ability to ingest a wide range of food accounts for their rapid growth rate, especially beginning in April with the temperature starts to rise toward 70 degrees Fahrenheit in the coastal marshes and the shrimp grow as much as an inch per week. If both temperature and water salinity remain favorable, the fast growth rate continues and combines with the initial fecundity of the spawning females to produce skyrocketing results. In collective size and numbers, the shrimp, in the spring, reach massive proportions.. It's a shrimp explosion."

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Italian Definitions

From Myth on Italian Streghria

Fiabia
A story of a fabulous nature, such as wondertales, fables, or fairytales. These stories often contain supernatual or magical beings, such as dragons, fatas, stregas, giants, griffins, talking animals, etc, as well as mortal heros and heroines. See storia folcloristica.

Famiglia
Famiglia Iiterally means "family" in Italian. It carries the concept of a tight bond among those who are related, not only by blood or marriage, but also by commitments of friendship.

Fantasma
A fantasma is the Italian word for "ghost" or "apparition." It orginated from the Latin word, phantasma, meaning "vision" or "image."

Fata Buona
Literally, in Italian, a fata buona is a "good faery," who may randomly decide to assist someone. Fata buonas are common in Italian fiabias or folktales. The fata buona often appears as an older woman. Such a figure of folklore is sometimes called a fata buona della fiabe. See fiabia.

Gnocca or Bella Gnocca
beatifull girl, sexy girl (Gnocchi is a food.)

Gnomi
The gnomi are little people.

Lampadine
Lampadine are supposidly surernatual lights seen dancing or fittling over the fields at night. The lampadine may be related to the idea of the lampedes, who were Greek cthonic nymphs. The lampades serve in the entorage of the Goddess Hecate. These infernal nymphs are her lamp-bearers.

In English, these lights are known as "faery lights," "friar's lantern," "spook lights," "will o' the wisp," or a dozen other names indicating their otherworldly nature.

Mago Alchemist
A mago alchemist is a magician who practices alchemy (alchimia), the mysterious occult art or science that was the forerunner of modern chemistry. Alchemy focuses on the concept of the transmutation of matter.

Paese
Literally paese means "village" in Italian. In particular, it has been used by Italian-Americans to refer to the concept of the "home village" to which an indivdual has ties.

Paese Incantato
A paese incantato is an enchanted place, supernatual landscape, or faeryland, which is often an enchantingly beautiful place.

Paese della Fate
A paese della fate is a realm inhabited by faeries.

Spettro
Spettro is Italian for "specter," a visible, but incorporial spirit that is often the soul of a dead person.

Spiritetello
A spiritetello is literally a "little male spirit." He is a mischevious spirit with a faery-perverse nature.

Spiritetello Malevolo
An evil male spirit of faerie is a spiritetello malevolo, like the English "Red Cap" that dips his cap in the blood of murdered victims to keep it red.

Storia Folcloristica
The storia folcloristica is an Italian term for a tradtional story orginally spread orally in numerious versions among a people, generally the common folk, i.e. a folktale. The term literally means in Italian "folkloristic stories."

Stregone Divinatorio
A stregone divinatorio is a socerer who specializes in practicing the art of divination.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Chapter 27 - The Pool & Sirens

It was Monday, Owen had 2 of new jobs starting today. But he was onsite at his own home as the pool crews began to dig out his new pool. His backyard landscaping had been even more lawnmower intensive than his front yard. Pretty much the only landscaping in the back yard was the large oak tree. The far right side of the back yard looked like a crime scene where the tree expert had used yellow tape to mark the edges of the oak tree root ball where the pool crews should not cross. The pool crew had promised that they didn’t even need to get within 10 feet of the yellow tape much less the actual roots of the tree but Owen knew that if the tree were harmed that Nola would be heartbroken and he would be very angry with himself. So he was there to make sure. Most of the work would actually be near the house.

The original brick walkway under the 2nd floor balcony was staying but every other bit of the back yard between the porch and the protected oak tree area was going to be impacted. The back yard was now just bare dirt and they had just started the real digging. Owen was watching the action from the upstairs back balcony and waiting for a phone call from Roger. And there it was, “Hey Roger.”
“Hey man, how’s it going at your house?”
“Owen moved inside so he could talk over the occasional beep, beep, beep when the BobCat went into reverse.
“Ok. I have a sea of bare ground in the back yard and they’ve just started the digging. These guys don’t fool around. How are the new job sites?”
“Fine man. No worries. Everything is in place, the crews were all on time and work is progressing. The Lakefront owner was a little nervous at first but then settled in. The Uptown house folks just swung by to make sure we showed up and then were off to work." Roger then chided him, "The guys tell me that your Nola is quite the foreman."
"Really?"
"Well they didn’t really say that. But she is all they were talking about this morning. They liked her. Straight talk, explained clearly what she wanted and why she wanted it, no bullshit whining or indecision, please and thank you and pitching in to move stuff, real organized. She knew working the garden and the form at the same time would be a bitch and had planned as much as possible to keep their work away from it. Or was that you?”
“Nope, all her. Thursday afternoon when she came back to set the smaller plants I tried to help lay things out but was told, with a kiss mind you, “You can’t help an artist paint a picture.”
Roger chuckled. “You’re in trouble man. The guys liked her but nobody else got a kiss. So when Joe commented that all the mulch bags were exactly he they needed them…?”
“Nola.”
“You know she charmed Maurice & Louis into rigging string on your wall for those new vines, just by wondering how they would do it and listening to their suggestions, telling them good idea, thanking them and then walking away. I better watch it out, she'll get my job."
"No way, man. No way."
"I hear she's not bad to look at either. To quote Maurice, 'Curves man, just like Owen likes 'em. Not those skinny stick women with no tits the young kids tend to go for'."
"Well I'm glad to hear that Maurice approves of my new landscape specialist."
Roger chuckled, "Go back and watch your tree. You need to keep that woman happy so she will keep you happy.”
Owen laughed. “Thanks man.” And they hung up.

Work on the pool progressed at a rapid pace and by Tuesday they had the basic hole dug and most of the dirt hauled away. Owen was using some of it for fill at one of his job sites. He had no idea where the rest was going. The fountain crew was onsite for Wednesday doing measuring. It was going to be really easy to put the fountain along the wall because there was already an outdoor facet in the side yard. Owen’s guys had done the plumbing work to bring it the pipes the wall for the fountain last week. They had also run the necessary electricity in conduit. Maurice had set the pathway forms far enough away to leave room for the fountain work and for the path around it to be finished off later. By Thursday basic pool form was in.

Nola thought they could either talk about Roman Religion and the Cult of Diana at Aricia or talk a bit more about Owen’s reluctant to do magic. Perhaps they could watch The Secret. She had the small Secret companion book with her. She was planning on leaving that with him. She wasn’t sure that Owen would like The Secret DVD. Her daughter and her daughter’s friends liked it and it did say within the first 20 minutes of the program ‘thoughts are things’ but it might just be too saccharin sweet for this student. The small book might be less, she shrugged, irritating was the only word she could think to use. She had also gone through her DVDs at home and had with her what she called her ‘teaching movies’.

As she opened the gate and drove in, Owen opened the door. How did he do that?
“Evening, Big Man.”
He smiled, “Evening”.
She got out of the truck smiling at him and then started to look over the plantings. The small garlic chives, blue daze and oregano were hardy. The mulch looked solid. The other plants were larger and less likely to be stressed.
“Well how are things?”
“What we need is a good rain. It’s been so dry.”
“I’ve been watering just like you said.”
“Oh I can see that. Things look good, but there is nothing like rain to make new plants happy. Hose water is not the same.”
“Oh I see.” He didn’t but she seemed sure of herself.
She finally stopped looking over the plants and said, “How goes the pool?”
He hooked her arm and started walking her back to the house, “Amazingly fast. The hole is dug they tell me they will be painting this weekend or Monday. So, I’m hoping your plants can hold out for real rain for a few more days.”
“Ok, then I won’t twitch my nose for rain just is yet.”
“You do weather magic?”
“Well, rarely. It’s not something to play with, but sometimes. Especially during Hurricane season.”
“Did you have the day off for Katrina?” he teased.
“Actually, when Katrina kicked up, I was out of town, working 10 hours days and not watching the news. I had flown to Houston and Katrina was just a glimmer. When I got on the plane to Chicago 2 days later and saw the news at the airport, it was going to Florida. I didn’t even know about how bad it was or the path it had taken until James called to say he was evacuating. When I saw what it looked like on the Weather Channel I had to agree that leaving sounded like it might be a really good idea. I had arranged my flight to stay longer in Chicago. Then James called to say he was staying. It was insane on the highways, packing everything up and traveling to Texas or even the NorthShore was not something he relished. I told him there was no way that my family was going to be in New Orleans with me somewhere else. I arranged to fly home on the last plane that landed at the New Orleans Airport. The pilot pointed out the edge of the storm. It was crazy.”
“You stayed?!”
“Yes.” She knew she would have to tell the Katrina story.
He was dumbfounded.
“You’ve seen our house. The main living floor is 2 stories up. We were like a houseboat but we were fine. We had neighbors behind us and 2 doors down and across the street who stayed. After 3 days of heat and the water not going down, being able to watch the water level on the steps change with the tide, helicopters flying overhead like a war zone and inconsistent news, we used air mattresses and boards off the windows to float Jamie and our bikes out. So did out neighbors. Then we rode the bikes to Jefferson Parish, thinking we could get on the buses that never came. We spent a weird night on the side of the interstate, were rousted awake before Bush flew over in Air Force One. We had been in contact via land line and cell phone with my friend in Chicago, 504 numbers weren’t working well, who then relayed to our families that where we were and that we were OK. My brother was sent to find us among the 10,000 people on the side of the interstate and did and got us out. James and Jamie were set up in Austin. I bought my replacement truck in Texas and I was back 8 days later to check on pets. The cats were OK. The dog had been taken off the porch. After weeks of looking, we found her on PetFinder and she came home in November the day before James & Jamie did.”
“That’s all.” He said dryly.
“Well, no, that’s not all. You’ve been around here long enough to know that everything was crazy and complicated. But when things get too crazy and complicated the chaos somehow simplifies and crystallizes everything. The point was I wasn’t around or aware that I needed to do weather magic for Katrina.”
“Oh, I missed that. You can’t really think it would have mattered.”
“I have no idea. But you can bet I would have been twitching my nose like crazy if I had not been a 1000 miles away working 10 hours a day with my head in a news hole.”

Owen opened the wine in silence, still thinking about the story and what he would do for hurricane evacuation. Strange that he hadn’t really thought about it before. Nola moseyed over to the kitchen’s back door and took a peek out at the pool area. Owen handed her a glass and said, “You can get a better overall view from the upstairs balcony. She looked up and smiled “Oh I’d love to get an overview. It will help with planning the landscaping.”
He smiled and shook his head and said, “Crack addict, plants are like crack to you.”
They took a right at the top of the stairs and walled down essentially a short center hall with rooms on both sides. As Owen opened the door to the balcony Nola noticed a long room open room with windows all down on wall. “ooooo, This room would be perfect for painting.”
“Painting? It is painted.”
“No I mean for painting, canvases, you know art, Owen.”
“Art, canvases. You paint?”
“No, not really. I mean I’m no artist. But sometimes I paint with acrylics for fun and just for me. I find that painting or sketching is the only time I completely relax, shut off the busyness in my mind and can just be. All these windows to let the light in while still being able to be inside … perfect.”
He shook his head and opened the back door, “Anything else you do you want to tell me about?”
She shrugged, “I sing to the radio. My daughter says I play rock and roll too loud.”
They stepped outside.
“Wow. What a transformation.”
He shook his head in agreement and said, “and fast too.”
She nodded too, “Impressive.”
They just stood on the balcony in silence, sipping wine. Each locked up in their own thoughts. Nola finally said,
“You are lucky all the houses that back into your lot are only single story. With that high redbrick wall you have all the privacy you need. You said you were going to put bamboo along the west wall?”
He nodded, “hmm umm.
“I see Clematis or Passion Vine or along the east side on the garage. The oak tree looks ok. The yellow tape is a nice touch.” And she smiled at him and he smiled back remembering Roger’s conversation earlier in the week. “What are you going to do with that dead space behind the garage?” He had been asking himself the same question. But she wasn’t really expecting an answer she was thinking out loud. “I think that it would be nice to have at least one pine tree some where over in the far left corner to make your own mulch for the garden. I see a mini forest in that corner. You could add a Shumard Oak and some swamp maple… Swamp Maple has become a favorite postKatrina. It grows quickly and had a touch of fall color and some understory trees, more redbud, a slower growing Japanese magnolia. And on the left corner another Sweet Olive. A garden should smell good. Owen, do you like figs?”
“Figs?” He was trying to keep up again as she moved across and changed the landscape
“Yes, figs. Fruiting tree, large lobe like leaves.”
“I know what a fig tree looks like, woman.”
She shrugged, “Oh. Well do you like them? Personally I think they are decadent. But we should plant something you like to eat. Do you have a favorite fruit that we could plant as a tree back here?”
“Peaches.”
“Ok Peaches. I think there are some new hybrids that do OK in our heat. We’ll have to work on that. What about the fig?”
“Anything you think is decadent can go in my backyard.”
And she laughed and then walked over to the far left end of the balcony.
“What are you going to do with that corner behind the garage? Hmmm, that would be the place for chickens. How full is your garage?”
He missed the comment about chickens because he had heard garage… “Prying into a man’s private domain.”
She laughed again. “Well I was just thinking that pools collect toys, you know floats, balls, extra chairs, etc. Do you have enough space in your garage for those things or do you need to build more? Because behind the garage would be one place to put them.”
Now he understood where she was going. “The garage has wood working tools and plenty enough room for my truck with empty space left over for pool toys. I could add a door on the side or back.”
She was still in her own world thinking, “Didn’t you say you have a nephew? How old is he 11? 12?”
“He’ll be 14 this May. We share a birthday.”
She nodded, she was thinking about her neighbors and their PostKatrina pool and their son, “Does he play basketball?”
Owen was not following… “Yeesss….,”
“What if you were to put in a basketball court, not a full one of course. Aren’t garages where you hang a basketball hoops? My neighbors 2 doors down have a son and a pool and he and his friends are always shooting hoops or playing ping pong or …
And Owen got it and his face opened… “now that is a very interesting idea... I see what you see. Yes absolutely a basketball court. Next time Maurice has some free time. He can lay it out. You’re a genius woman. Eric is going to love it.”
She smiled at his enthusiasm and sipped her wine and waited while he imagined what the backyard would look like. He finally turned and smiled at her and said again, “Genius.”
“Ok, well what if we went in and got this genius idea on paper and made a list of plants you’ll need?”
“OK.”

It hadn’t taken long to fill in the backyard plan. Owen was still grinning with the basketball court, ping pong area idea and they had settled in the library.
“Well student what do you want to talk about tonight?”
“Hmmm, he settled into the sofa and said, “I don’t know. Nothing? We always work when you come here, through the manual or on the landscaping. I think it would be nice if you just sat here with me on the sofa.”
“Well,” she said looking at an imaginary watch, “I can give you 20 minutes or so but then I think…
He sat straight up and said, “What! 20 minutes, you are not leaving just because I can’t think up any questions?”
And she laughed at him, “No.”
“That was cheap. A cheap trick. Shame on you.”
She held up her hands still laughing, “I won’t do it again. It’s just you looked so content snuggling into the sofa I couldn’t resist.” And she got up and started walking to the kitchen where she’d left her purse with the DVDs.
He started to get up saying, “Where are you going, woman?”
“Relax, I’ll be right back.”
He sat down but he didn’t relax until she was back pulling a bunch of DVDs from her purse. His eyebrows rose as he said, “You already had this planned!”
“No, I had no idea what we’d do tonight. So I essentially planned options. These are my teaching movies. They are movies that I think illustrate concepts that are aligned with the Ways. Since you said you just wanted to sit with me on the sofa I thought you could pick one and we could watch it tonight.”
“Genius, woman. Let me see those.”
Calendar Girls, Sirens, Stealing Beauty, Under the Tuscan Sun, What Dreams May Come. Oh you mentioned that one.”
And she wrinkled her brow, and said, “If you can want to sit on the sofa, I can want to do one of the other movies.”
“Ok” and he looked them over and said, “Sirens?”
“Love, Sexuality, Freedom, Christianity’s tendency to repression, set in the 1930’s in Australia, full of links to various mythos. It’s light in its approach, subtle, slow, subconscious in its messages.”
“Sirens it is.” And he put in the DVD lowered the light and snuggled into the sofa, insisting that she sit close to him.”
“I swear Owen, sometimes I feel like I'm your favorite new toy. You need to get out more.”
“New? We’ve known each for months. You’re not new. And didn’t I just say I wanted to sit with you on the sofa? Get over here woman.”
She shook her head at him but obliged and they settled in to watch the movie.

Sitting so closely to him had made it hard to gauge his reaction. So when the movie was over she wasn’t sure what he thought. She was curious, but she waited. He let the credits run and then used the remote to power it off. And still he didn’t say anything. She shifted slightly. Still nothing. He wasn’t asleep he had just shut the player off. She had been leaning against him and he had his left arm around her but draped over the back of the sofa. She shifted again and he leaned to his left into her so she shifted some more and ended up leaning against his arm with him leaning into her. Finally she said, “Well?”
Still nothing…
“Owen…..”
Finally Owen said, “All that subtle sexuality with no overt sex.”
She smiled,“Yes, the movie is full of sexuality and sensuality and its power and how it’s repressed or its various representations or how it can be part of awakening the characters to who they are.”
“and the symbology, the snakes, temptation”
“in the Christian mythos, transformation in other mythos.”
“And Ulysses and the Odyssey, I expected some of that from the name, and the Christian symbols mixed with the pagan symbols. Very interesting. I can see why you would use it as a teaching DVD. But it’s so subtle and complex that if someone were to ask me about it I’m not quite sure what I’d say.”
She was thinking how she would describe it to someone she wasn’t teaching when he said, “I feel like the handy man in that movie.” And he kissed her. With the themes of the movie spinning in her head the kiss went spinning too. He was gentle but insistent and still lost in thought brought on by the movie. When he stopped Nola really didn’t know what to say or do.
Owen said, “We should watch it again.”
She laughed but only very lightly. “Not tonight.”
“Why not?” and he kissed her again. When Nola managed to say,
“Because it’s obviously already gone to your head.” And mine too. Then she sighed, “I need to get home before it gets too late. I have to go to work tomorrow. You can watch it again. I’ll leave all the movies here.”
And he gave her such a sad 10 year old face it almost didn’t look 10 years old. She gave him a gentle kiss and said “I have to say goodnight.” And she stood up and reached out to him, “Want to walk me to the door?”
“No, I want you to stay.”
She looked at him and held her hand out more firmly. He took it and she pulled him from the couch. They walked silently to the door and Owen gave her one of his hugs and a not so gentle kiss before he let her get in and watched her drive away.
He shut off the lights and climbed the stairs to his bedroom and flopped miserably in the bed. Tago nodded to Meana who sent him to sleep.

As Nola drove home she heard Owen say, “I feel like the handy man in the movie” again. And she wondered exactly what that meant to him. In his own way he was the handy man… He was also learning from her and by extension from those that thought her, a part of the continuum of learning and teaching but outside of it just like the handy man… All the women admired the raw physicality of the handy man, so much that the preacher’s wife and gone to him… And Meana nodded to Bellaria who shifted Nola’s thought process just enough so that Nola thought, Well this should make the Spring Equinox lesson very interesting.