Sunday, April 1, 2018

All Sorts of Foolishness

So it wasn't snowing, but it was very cold hunting eggs
Should you have been directed here by my annual letter of the first of April, of course you know that most of it is true (insects, broken wrist, grandparent visit, KU lost, teacher strike, summer travels, study about white privilege at church, witch ancestors) but the amusing details are not (today's snow, asparagus pee genetics, new dessert investigation) and of course there does not exist a June 31, but the Lek Off (a real word for prairie chicken mating dances) and the leeks in the plumbing are now classic and need to be re-used.  At least I'm amused as I repeat myself.

Energy so great it can't be captured in focus
(or something like that)
If you are here for a witch year update: here's a quick one.  I didn't do anything special for the second blue moon of the year, except for re-reading on the setting of dates of Easter and Passover.
I find myself considering many of my necklaces and scarves to be witchy and feel special when I am wearing them, although none of them is new or newly symbolic to me.
I've spent a great deal of time with my familiar, a white cat.
The Mister and I saw magical plants in California over spring break, including coastal redwoods, horsetails, and manroot (Marah, which interested me because it appeared to be closely related to the the squirting cucumber, Cyclanthera, that I study, and which must be useful to witches, because how could "man root" not be).
At magical Muir Woods
I've contemplated more of what it means to be a witch in other cultures as I read the excellent Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman and A Star Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi.  More on those someday (and let me know if you've read either so we can talk

Aster's Pinewood Derby Car
Altogether a different kind of foolishness

Manroot Flowers

Golden Gate Bridge in Background


Monday, March 12, 2018

Spring Magic

Someday, (soon! well, maybe?) I'll write about all of what's happening in witch year.

At this moment, I will draw your attention to the magic that is happening around us.  A long row of daffodils on the east side of the house is in full bloom.  More bulb iris and large crocus are popping up and one can find hyacinths blooming in several places around our house.
Yesterday afternoon I mentioned to my mother how spring is late here, as the bradford (callery, Asian) pears usually bloom by this week and the trees were nowhere close to flower.
Is froze overnight and was sunny today and BOOM!  the pears and plums are blooming on my way how this afternoon.
How did that happen?  It's magic!

Thursday, March 1, 2018


First crocus appeared in my yard Feb. 14 and the first daffodils on the south side Feb. 19.
The first two iris reticulata bloomed yesterday, Wednesday Feb. 28.
Moon is full.  Things are growing.  It's happening once again.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Witch Pie Books

Alice Hoffman's Nightbird was one of a few magical baking novels read in the summer of 2016 that led me to Year of Pie.   As it is an enchanting novel featuring pies, gardens, birds and witches, a re-read felt like just the right thing to bridge year of pie and witch year. The YA novel is still highly recommended.

A quick Amazon search led to Witch's Pie, a self-published children's book that didn't do much for me and two series that I need to investigate: M. Z. Andrew's Witch Squad Cozy Mysteries, including one entitled Witch Pie and Ellery Adams' Charmed Pie Shoppe Mysteries, which includes Pies and Prejudice.  Having been disappointed by Joanne Fluke's Blackberry Pie Murder, I'm not running out to buy any more baking mysteries, even if they do include witches, but if someone had a copy lying around . . . 
Rats, no pie, but lots of fun

Good book-- but that's not amaranth.
Meanwhile, at my local library, searching "witch pie" yields The Brixen Witch by Stacy DeKeyser.  I checked it out, baffled how a rat-infested re-telling of the pied piper would have anything to do with baked goods.  It was some time before I realized that "pied" includes PIE whether or not baked goods are involved (and I just now realized I could have been looking at pied-billed grebes and pied flycatchers during the bird to pie transition last year).  I enjoyed the book and will be adding the Brixen witch herself to my upcoming descriptions of witches.

Somewhere in the last week or two I also read The Amaranth Enchantment by Julia Berry, a very nice fairy tale that would have been made much nicer if the cover art included amaranth for the amaranth witch rather than an amaryllis (or an odd orchid).  True, the amaryllis is more to look at, but it is no "love-lies-bleeding" and many readers (well, at least this reader) would know that. 

I also finished Ruth Chew's The Wednesday Witch, which, while very pleasant about a witch getting mistaken for a vacuum cleaning repair woman in 1960s Brooklyn, is no What the Witch Left, which is one of my childhood favorites, also by Ruth Chew.

So I've worn witchy clothes at least once a week, I said "no" to a committee I didn't want to serve on, I've read three witch-pie books, two other witch books and ate lots of garlic with The Mister for Valentine's Day.  The year is off to a good start.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Groundhog Pie Graduation

Saturday's Groundhog Pie party, marking my 25th year of throwing groundhog parties, was something of a pie year graduation.  Somehow I determined that I needed to make all the pies for over twenty guests and it was hectic and silly and I was immensely proud of the results.

Farmer's Cheese Minis
On the savory table, we had two of the featured Groundhog Pies: sausage and apple in a cheddar cheese crust.  From Kate McDermott's The Art of Pie, the recipe is a keeper. 
The Mister also used ground pork to bake chorizo empanadas with a cilantro cream.
I made 48 Farmer's Cheese and Thyme mini-pies well in advance (recipe from Hand Pies), a few dozen curried carrot in turmeric crust mini-pies that morning and a galette of leeks, mushrooms and goat cheese on puff pastry popped into the oven at the last minute.
"Ground Hog" Pork Sausage and Apple in Cheddar Crust

With the sweets, I had bakes cranberry orange mini-pies and Winter Apple (apple with cranberries, walnuts and dried fruits soaked in spice tea) to represent winter, and homemade lemon curd on almond meringue to represent spring.  A cousin brought a delicious chocolate pie and Dianthus made a peanut butter pudding to fill a brownie crust to round things out.

I'd say that the party was successful enough that I am ready to end Year of Pie, but there is dough in the freezer, I still haven't baked a pie with a hot water crust, and I just learned of multiple books that show up in searches for "witch pie" so not quite yet.
Winter Apple: Apple with cranberries, walnuts, and spiced fruit

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

On the Eve of the Super Blue Blood Moon

Which year starts tomorrow?

Witch year starts tomorrow!

I think the second full moon of the year (and the month, thus the blue moon) with a morning lunar eclipse is the right time to start Witch Year.

Pie year continue until the lunar new year (Feb. 16), but I'll be starting my exploration of witches wearing black and petting a white cat as I watch the closest moon of the year (super moon) go behind the shadow of the earth.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Sweet Potato Pie and I'll Shut My Mouth

Back in October I baked two fabulous sweet potato pies and took them to a dinner as part of a Race, Religion, and BBQ series of conversations coordinated by our pastor.  The pies were excellent, perhaps the best I have ever baked.  (Our pastor walked outside to where I was eating that night to inform me that he didn't like pumpkin pie, and that was the best pumpkin pie he'd ever eaten, someone else raved about the on Facebook the next day, and the Mister liked them better than all of the [very tasty] pecan and chocolate pies baked with students a few weeks later).

The whole time I was baking them, I had a line from Alabama Song of the South stuck in my head: "Song, song, of the South, sweet potato pie and I'll shut my mouth" and all fall I thought I was going to eloquently write about race and racism; and about sweet potato pie, misplaced pride, and shutting up. 

Today I met with some of the same people from the discussions to march in the Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade in Oklahoma City.  We intended to march with the Black Lives Matter organization, but ended up with representatives of several churches with Black Lives Matters signs.  It was bitterly cold with a north wind and the too-long parade route was not lined with people waving at the floats and the bands-- mostly just participants who had already marched the distance and were returning to the start.  I still don't have the right words to say about racism.  I hope that being there, that taking Aster and Dianthus and talking about the legacy of King, in itself says something, and that something is hopeful.

I will tell my students, all my students, from families from all over the world, that they are valued in my classroom tomorrow.

I will let you know that not all are being silent-- from the expected (you can listen to David Wheeler's pre-MLK Day sermon here, and more from "badass preacher lady" Elizabeth Hagan here), to the less so (my friend J, a returned Peace Corps volunteer, in the midst of chemo-induced anemia, posting how about the great people she's worked with-- abroad and as immigrants: my friend D has had to speak up in support of her students learning and teaching each other ecology in Haiti [some older blog posts here]).

Let us not be silent in the face of oppression. Yet if our words might further injustice, why, perhaps we should just take that pie and shut our mouths.