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mermaidcamp

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Carved Copal Art By The Cruz Family of Oaxaca

December 7, 2016

I had the pleasure of meeting Agustín Cruz Prudencia and his nephew Jesus at the Tucson Botanical Gardens yesterday.  The copal wood carvings they brought to Tucson for sale are lively and brightly colored. I fell in love with the figures instantly. I am officially on restriction from buying any art, but I could not pass up the chance to own a piece of their stunning work.  I was in a pinch for time, but made a choice to buy the frog that is happily decorating my living room now.  It goes with all the art in my house, and yet has a unique quality that makes it stand out.  It will be a prized momento from my encounter with these incredible craftsmen.

They are Zapotec from a tribe that lived, and still lives in a remote part of the state of Oaxaca.  Agustín’s father moved his family to the capitol city of Oaxaca in order to make a living by selling his art.  They now have a workshop that employs about 15 family members carving and painting the folkloric figures.  The super fine painting is done with out stencil or straight edge.  They develop the ability to create super intricate geometric patterns by eye, by hand.  The apprenticeship to learn this craft takes a long time.  It is easy to appreciate all the fine work that goes into each piece.  With both delicate carving and intricate paint designs these little characters pop with personal style.

They are going home for Christmas to be with their family.  They will be celebrating with banana leaf tamales and other special seasonal dishes.  They are very proud of their culture and cuisine, and rightly so.  Both of my new young friends had spoken their native mother tongue as children, but have lost the ability to speak it after years in the city.  They suffer from heavy discrimination against indigenous tribes in the city, so speaking it is dangerous.  They still understand their mother tongue when they hear it.  Their elders dressed in traditional clothing, and those members of the tribe in remote mountains still do.  Modern Zapotec life as an artist is complicated, and includes borders and customs.  I am glad they made the effort to bring this unique folk art to Tucson.  I hope the sale works out very well for them so they will return.  If you are in Tucson this weekend you can make a purchase at the United Nations Association of Southern AZ on 10 and 11 December.  They have gifts in all price ranges for all art lovers.

Copal carvings

Copal carvings

Oaxacan folk art

Oaxacan folk art

Oaxacan folk art

Oaxacan folk art

Oaxacan folk art

Oaxacan folk art

Copal carvings

Copal carvings

Copal carvings

Copal carvings

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Copal carvings

Copal carvings

Copal carvings

Copal carvings

Copal carvings

Copal carvings

Copal carvings

Copal carvings

Cruz family carvers

Cruz family carvers

folk art from Oaxaca

folk art from Oaxaca

Copal carvings

Copal carvings

my new frog

my new frog

my new frog

my new frog

 

 

Godfrey Ragsdale Jr. And The Jamestown Massacre

December 6, 2016

memorial

memorial

 

My 8th great-grandfather was born in Virginia Colony in 1643.  His parents were both killed in the Jamestown Massacre when he was an infant.

Godfrey Ragsdale I was the first generation emigrant to America. He came sometime before 1641. He and his wife were killed in an Indian massacre on April 18, 1644. Their baby, Godfrey II, was spared. He evidently came at his own expense with intent to inhabit the land, for no grant has been found to him, but there is a record of a purchase of 300 acres of land by deed from John Butler, 25 Feb 1642. This land lay on the north side of the Appomatox River in Henrico Co. Virginia. Source: “Godfrey Ragsdale From England to Henrico Co. Virginia” by Caroline Nabors Skelton; 1969; and Henrico Co. Records; Bk. 6; p. 21.

Godfrey Ragsdale II (1643 – 1703)
8th great-grandfather
Ann Wragsdale (1659 – 1724)
daughter of Godfrey Ragsdale II
Benjamin Abraham Vesser (1740 – 1779)
son of Ann Wragsdale
Samuel Harris Vassar (1757 – 1846)
son of Benjamin Abraham Vesser
Mary Vessor (1801 – 1836)
daughter of Samuel Harris Vassar
Margaret Mathews (1831 – 1867)
daughter of Mary Vessor
Julia McConnell (1854 – 1879)
daughter of Margaret Mathews
Minnie M Smith (1872 – 1893)
daughter of Julia McConnell
Ernest Abner Morse (1890 – 1965)
son of Minnie M Smith
Richard Arden Morse (1920 – 2004)
son of Ernest Abner Morse
Pamela Morse
I am the daughter of Richard Arden Morse

The Ragsdale family name is said to come from Ragdale, England, meaning either “valley at the pass” or “dweller in the valley where the lichen grows.” Henry Ragsdale was born in Leicestershire, England about 1450, his son Robert was born about 1485 in Ragsdale, Leicestershire, England. He died about 1559 and some of his children were Henry, Thomas R. and John R. Henry was born about 1510; he married Elizabeth Oglethorpe about 1532 , and their children were William, Dorothy, Elizabeth, Margaret, Owen and Catherine. Henry died in 1559. William was born in 1575; he married a woman named Heathcote, about 1615; they had a son, Godfrey I, who married Lady Mary Cookney and they both came to America.

Godfrey Ragsdale I and his wife, Lady Mary Cookney arrived in Virginia some time late in the summer of 1638. They were some of the first Ragsdales to come to America. Godfrey Ragsdale I ands his wife, Lady Mary Cookney lived in Henrico County Virginia on a 300 acre plantation on February 25, 1642, upon the north side of the Appomattox River.

On April 18, 1644 afterwards known as “Opechancanough Day” the Pamunkee Indians and several tribes in the Indian Federation went on a rampage. There was a carnage that was greater than the one in the Norfolk area in 1622. The Indians slaughtered no less than 500 Englishman. This massacre fell almost entirely upon the frontier Counties at the head of the great rivers, and upon the plantations on the south side of the James River. Both Godfrey I and his wife Lady Mary were killed and scalped.

From documents we know that Godfrey and Lady Mary had a son named Godfrey Ragsdale II, who was born in 1644. Because his mother and father had been killed in the “Jamestown Massacre”, Godfrey II’s next door neighbors raised him and later became his in-laws. Historians say that most Ragsdales in America came from Godfrey II.

Ragsdales in Virginia

Ragsdales in Virginia

Do You Hear What I Hear?

December 5, 2016

Do you hear what I hear?

Do you hear what I hear?

Listening with full attention is an art and a skill. I believe one can listen to several layers of reality. I listen to music all day which I pipe into my environment on purpose. At the same time I read posts from all over the world making an effort to truly lend an ear to each point of view. I am sure I edit in favor of my own proclivities all the time.  I hear what I want to hear, like all my fellow humans.  The written word has less power over the brain to create action than the sound of the spoken voice. We can skim over either written or spoken words by drifting off with our attention. The question is, what do we hear when we distract ourselves from our own reality? Whose voice is creating our desires? Do we hear the voice of the universe, the voice of God?

Prayer and contemplation are designed to create an atmosphere in which we hear or know our purpose.  Silent meditation is purposeful to teach the mind to shut up sometimes.  Mystics and prophets have made contact with the Beloved by various means for all of history.  Silence, and often seclusion, has been the path for many to attain mastery.  Those who have not tried to be still and know might be very surprised how many internal voices have so much to say when one simply wants to quiet the mind to focus on the divine.  These little chatterboxes are constantly yacking it up in our consciousness, a combo of memory, prejudice, and persona. They are the voices that make excuses for the ego. They are the smarty pants know-it-alls in our personas that are busy composing a response rather than paying full attention to a speaker.  They think they are all that, but they are often confused.  This does not indicate that we have split personalities, or are unusually fragmented.  Everyone has to practice to be able to quiet the mind and keep it quiet.  The phrase “a mind of its’ own” applies to your attention.  Harnessing the full power of your own mind will be the greatest feat of patience you will ever achieve.

  • Listen to what nature tells you in your body and in the environment
  • Hear the sounds of the Beloved in music and chanting
  • Sharpen discernment by listening deeply to other people
  • Make a joyful noise unto the Lord

 

 

#WeekendCoffeeShare Set For The Season

December 4, 2016 9 Comments

If we were having coffee this morning I would serve you any hot or iced tea you might like or a cup of medium roast coffee. For those of you arriving at cocktail hour from other continents I have some cranberry vodka for cocktails. It is pretty and tasty at the same time. Have a seat, put up your feet on the fireside ottoman and tell me what is happening with you. I have the room seriously scented with lavender and citrus essential oils. The wood stove is a perfect diffuser. I need to replenish the moisture it sucks out of the air, so I position two containers of water on top to continually evaporate. It is a little bit shocking to see how much goes into the air. I dump substantial amounts of essential oils in those vessels, which become my giant air fresheners all winter.

Citrus is the scent of the season for me.  I have purchased a full set of citrus essential oils for December which are going quickly because I love using them liberally. Now I am rocking sweet orange and mandarin, mixed with a lot of lavender. These are all high notes in aromatherapy, or uppers if you will. The idea is to extend comfort and joy in the atmosphere.  I have my ceramic gingerbread diffuser rocking the scent with a scented candle as the heat.  This is the only time of year when I burn wax candles in my house because it does pollute the air inside that we breathe.  I am not worried about the amount of pollution a few tiny tea lights will emit.  I also have my digital candles with remote control LED lights that change color. They make me very happy.  My decorating theme is not exactly geared to a modern religious holiday but to the winter solstice, and a celebration of light that seemed to happen universally in ancient times around the darkest night of the year.  I am fully ready of Old Man Winter. We are stocked with wood for the fire and I have mounted all manner of solar twinkle lights in the front and back yard.  We are warm and, if I do say so myself, lit.

If we were having coffee and American politics came up I would tell you that yesterday I attended a meeting to organize a satellite protest march to show support for the Million Women March on Washington, 21 Jan.  Many American women are traveling to DC to march on the mall to protest the inauguration of the Donald.  I have much sympathy for this movement, but not enough to travel to DC.  I decided to find out what the Tucson group looked like, and what they planned to do.  I live streamed the event to my FaceBook page. The meeting was at once very uplifting and disconcerting.  The median age of the women in attendance was around 55 or 60, with very few under 40, and I saw nobody under 30.  They debated the language of protest and how to best express the outrage they felt.  They talked about Gandhi and Martin Luther King, which was predictable.  There were 3 men over 60 in the crowd.  One with his wife, one with Occupy Tucson, to convince the group to join their march, and one who had very good sense who came out of nowhere.  He suggested the group use positive rather than negative language.  A lot of women wanted to show off and talk about their previous political involvement and how they knew Trump supporters who were poor and underserved who needed to be converted.  When I asked them if they knew how hashtags work I was told they planned to find high school girls who would instagram and hashtag the whole thing for them.  These old ladies have missed the point.  They can march until the world looks level and will have little sway on national politics.  They need to learn how to lobby, how to hashtag, how to trend, and how to relate to the youth.  The times they have been are a changin’ and they need to acknowledge that the problem here is not HOW Americans voted, but that half of Americans did not vote at all. I am in favor of their march and movement, but the medium is the message.  The most efficient and effective mediums must be exploited along with the labor intensive.

If you were relaxing by the fire today I would now end my observations of politics and society in general and find out what you have been doing.  I have a killer nutloaf of spinach and almond with a nice parsley sauce.  Let me heat up a slice and serve it to you while you enjoy the fire.  I have almost used up all the nuts from last year, but am still pitching the nuts to guests because they are so healthy and tasty.  Thanks for stopping in today.  You are welcome to take a nap by the stove after your snack, especially if you have a long trip home. Alexa is loaded with Amazon unlimited music, so please ask her to play your favorite music.  Just say her name and tell her what you want.

Ending the year with this sophisticated group of digital coffee drinkers is a pleasure.  I appreciate knowing you, sharing with you, and learning about your writing journeys.  Thanks to Diana for keeping the party going from New Orleans even week.  Drop in and comment, post, or just enjoy the coffee.  Cheers!

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Christmas cactus

Christmas cactus

Season's decorations

Season’s decorations

scent diffuser

scent diffuser

 

The Greed Grinch Meets Sustainable Chic

December 2, 2016 4 Comments

Frida gets dressed

Frida gets dressed

The advertising industry fills the consumer’s mind with dreams of more consumption. That is the job of propaganda, to convince the public to buy more of everything. We now discard our clothing and buy more than ever at a faster rate.  Disposable fashion is a good example of how we rape the earth’s resources without subtracting the loss from our ever expanding GDP. We buy the cheapest clothing with the plan of wearing it only a few times before moving on to more new outfits available at very low prices.

There are some of us who object to the whole trend because it results in poorly made garments.  Locavores like me are bringing up the concept of sustainable chic as a fashion standard.  The Primark Effect refers the growing danger of discarded fiber in the landfills around the world.  We have begun to throw out clothes at a dangerous rate of speed.  The handcrafted garments of the past are giving way to cheap, poorly made and designed goods produced with slave labor in the third world.  Disposable fashion is a real and growing thing.  The only real winners are the companies producing these cheap products and their retail outlets.

My first choice for wardrobe shopping is thrift shopping.  It is a sport for me to find classic, well made garments for good prices.  The older clothing can be exquisitely well made with fine tailoring that is not common these days.  I like all kinds of finds, but the older the better if it is still in good shape to use.   I still enjoy sewing from time to time because it is a pleasure to bring a garment to life from scratch.  My fashion philosophy is to acquire and take care of unique, well-made goods that will last for a long time.  I prefer that they be previously owned or come to me in the form of a piece of lovely fabric and some buttons. I like to feel that nobody else can ever show up dressed like I am. How do you shop for your clothing, gentle reader?  Have you given any thought to the effects our cheap clothing has on the economy and the environment?

Alcohol Advent Calendars

December 1, 2016

the ginvent calendar

the ginvent calendar

I am impressed with the creativity and packaging of these specialty advent calendars by Drinks by the Dram. They are partnering with Masters of Malt to bring customers a unique way to celebrate the season.  They are offering 24 different drams of spirits to cheer up the recipient who opens each day with anticipation.  Alternately they sell Christmas crackers, a British thing, also filled with spirits.  The crackers include a bad joke and a party hat, all that any reveler needs to crank up a holiday fiesta at the office or anywhere.

The chance to taste test exotic and rare spirits is a very festive idea.  I like  gin because of all the variance in the botanicals used.  Each gin has a particular blend of herbs that creates that flavor profile.  I have tried a few expensive gins, and have thought the extra cost was worth it.  I think it would be fun to be guided like this for 24 days to try 24 new kinds of gin. We don’t have a traditional gift exchange around here because we are trying to go minimalistic with little success.  I am tempted to buy it for myself.  Which spirit would you choose, gentle reader?  The most expensive collection is $156.57 worth of fancy whiskey.  They also offer the customer a chance to build you own calendar by combining spirits.  This is a special way to make the season bright with delight.  Cheers!!!

the armagnac advent calendar

the armagnac advent calendar

Twenty-First Century Schmutzli

November 30, 2016 4 Comments

Krampus

Krampus

I am a big fan of both Schmutzli and his Austrian cousin, Krampus. These characters are Christmas symbols that teach children the value of obedience to parents.  They appear on 6 December, St Nicholas Day, to deliver small gifts like oranges and nuts.  They also scare the devil out of all the kids by giving each one an accurate description of their discipline problems.  The list of behavior to correct is provided by the parents ahead of time.  In the past the home visit might include placing the child in a bag to kidnap him for infractions on the list.  My Swiss friends had this happen in their youth, and reported that it was truly scary. Santa gets drunk as he travels from home to home because he is offered some spirits along the way.  One of my friends was at the end of the route in her small village.  She said Santa was always drunk by the time he came to her house, and she was always afraid of him.

How does this differ from our department store Santa that asks kids what they want? Well, first of all, they only ask the parents what they want out of the situation. The threat of Schmutzli’s terror is intended to root out all that bad behavior before 25 December.  On Christmas Eve the baby Jesus is supposed to fly through the child’s window and leave gifts.  Baby Jesus gets through all the windows just like our Santa gets down all the chimneys, no questions asked. Kids who reform themselves in those 24 days they have to redeem themselves will be rewarded by Jesus.

I think it is a practical system. Now that Schmutzli has been calmed down for modern times, he just represents winter.  In Austria I don’t think Krampus will ever be diluted.  He is more adored than St Nick.  He is still a horned pagan kind of archetype.  He jumps out at you on the street in Vienna to scare you just for fun.  Have you met either one of these guys?

Krampus

Krampus

There’s A Natural Mystic

November 29, 2016 3 Comments

Things are not the way they used to be.  I wonder what Bob Marley thinks about the recent elections legalizing recreational weed in many states.  Bob died young, and it must be noted he died from lung cancer.  He may have used too much.  Peter Tosh did some serious lobbying for legalization in the states before he passed his last spleef.  He and some of his friends were shot at home by an associate who was a house guest.  Something went terribly wrong there, for sure.  Bunny Wailer and Beverly Kelso are the only living members who survive from the band.  The three young musicians, Bob, Peter, and Bunny took their stage names and formed a ska band that evolved into the pioneer sound in reggae. Jamaica was a rough place to grow up, and they were well acquainted with persecution. They were believers in ganja as a religious sacrament. They believed everyone has a right to grow and smoke it regardless of the local laws.

Arizona has legal medical, but in the last election rejected recreational use by a slim margin.  With our long border and popular pathways for smugglers I think our state actually supports the Sinaloa cartel by keeping the black market open for their crappy product.  They are not nice people, and I do not like my state to enable their business activities. I believe we need to grow our own and shut them out of the weed market in the United States.  In that respect I am all about patrolling the borders to close the loopholes and corruption that keeps the flow of Mexican dirt weed running.  If they focused on keeping the dirt weed out at the border, they would, as a side effect, keep the most undesirable of all persons out, the sellers of that drek.

I think it is a business and taxation decision that will soon convince the whole country to legalize cannabis.  I am surprised it has taken this long to come to this point.  I doubt that the Wailers are proud of our progress toward equal rights and justice.  We know how that war on drugs has damaged our equal rights in America.  What we need is a war specifically on Mexican dirt weed rather than on Americans who smoke.  The winds of change have arrived.  There’s a natural mystic blowing through the air.

Young Wailers

Young Wailers

 

#MeatlessMonday For Everyone

November 28, 2016 2 Comments

The fad of #MeatlessMonday is a trend I happily embrace. My home is meatless every day, and folks sometimes ask me how to become a vegetarian. I always reply that by slowly converting, finding meatless meals that satisfy and please, anyone can eat less meat. I know that plenty of people view a meal without meat as a sacrifice. This is where the #MeatlessMonday fad shines brightly. The great display of recipes on display every Monday clearly demonstrates how tasty and appealing vegetarian diets can be.  #MeatFreeMonday is the UK version.  I have been trying vegetarian recipes in my kitchen since 1969, and every week these hashtags yield new ideas for my menu planning.  I appreciate the recipes from around the world and the new uses for ingredients I eat frequently.  This is my favorite living cookbook, appearing weekly on twitter.

I use Pinterest to store recipes and keep them in order.  Although I am a lacto-ovo vegetarian, I have a board that is vegan because we go lightly on the dairy and eggs.  Most of the food we eat is vegan, but we still include the dairy and eggs for variety.  My partner eats meat when he is outside the home, which does not bother me.  His consumption of meat is extremely low, and has no ill effects on my health or happiness.  His meat eating situation is between him and the animals he eats.  He is happy to take a vegetarian lunch with him to work every day from home.  I know sometimes he brags to his work colleagues about how they would never know his chili, or lasagna, or other dish contains no meat, and he makes them try it.  His coworkers share the meat dishes in their lunch boxes with him , so I guess it all work out in the end.

What is your favorite vegetarian dish, gentle reader?  I could not possibly choose just one.

raw taco salad

raw taco salad

Progress Through Procrastination

November 27, 2016 2 Comments

In the month of October I took the #OctoberUnprocessed challenge as I have for a few years now. Each year I give up fake meat products, chips and crackers for the month. I eat pretty well, but those products have been prominent in my diet forever.  I also bought two small packages of sugar, one brown and one confectioners, and vowed to make them last until 2017.  I am happy to report that both of those sugar bags remain unopened.  I probably will open one today for banana bread, but I have used no sugar in the kitchen for almost two months.  The other progress I made was to adapt to life without bags of chips and boxes of crackers.  I made one tasty batch of home baked crackers in October and then just forgot about them.  I decided that if I go to a great Mexican restaurant once a month that makes tortillas in house I never really need to buy bags of chips.  So far, this is working too.  Instead of answering each and every whim I have to eat nachos, I am practicing delayed gratification by anticipating much better nachos in the future.  There is no way I want to give up nachos forever.

I have stumbled upon a positive way to use procrastination.  This word   means putting off necessary tasks.  I have reversed this process by putting off  bad habits without giving them up once and for all.  It is brilliant.  I will admit I am back on the fake meat.  I was wolfing down bacon bits on the fist of November like they were going out of style.  Maybe next October I will break that habit. There are far worse things to which one can be addicted to than fake chicken McFriedFood and veggie burgers.  I can accept myself with this silly exception to my almost all unprocessed diet.  I am feeling good about the cracker conquest. They have no power over me any more.  Do you have a processed food that you can not bear to stop eating, gentle reader?  What is yours?  I have to have really good taco salads in my life:

tortilla fix

tortilla fix

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