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Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Of Moors and Moonlight

On Friday morning, Fair Trade Kate and I were up early. She drove us to Haworth, where the Bronte sisters lived. Bit of background here, I've been there twice before, but on both occasions there was some reason (both times a person) why we couldn't go to Top Withins. The last time, Kate and I promised ourselves that we would go back. We kept that promise. Part of it was a great idea for a day out; part of it was keeping the promise - a birdie in the faces of those two who stopped us both going before and me going alone the time before that; part of it was reward for the shitness that was 2004.

'Oh, I'm burning! I wish I were out of doors! I wish I were a girl again, half savage and hardy, and free; and laughing at injuries, not maddening under them! Why am I so changed? Why does my blood rush into a hell of a tumult at a few words? I'm sure I should be myself were I once among the heather on those hills. Open the window again wide: fasten it open! Quick, why don't you move?"

"Because I won't give you your death of cold,"

"You won't give me a chance of life, you mean... However, I'm not helpless, yet: I'll open it myself."

~'Wuthering Heights' by Emily Bronte

Some say that Top Withins is Wuthering Heights. It's the ruins of a house high up in the moors, but within walking distance of the house where Emily lived. I've been there now and I believe those that say so. It looks like Wuthering Heights, the building itself and its terrain. It felt like Wuthering Heights.

I'm ahead of myself. First we wandered around Haworth itself. I've been there too, twice before, but the main road is steep and cobbled, and my companions couldn't handle it. I went to the bottom on one of those occasions, but not for long. I was called back up the road again. But this time, Kate and I split up and lingered where we wanted. At one time, I was walking down from a bookshop and an envelope fell onto the path in front of me, with my name on it. Kate was sitting at a bench, smiling. I opened it to find a card with Da Vinci's Vitruvian Man inside a Celtic border. She'd written inside: 'To my Jo. Thank you for the promise of a great year. May this be only the beginning of many, many more big adventures. Love you. Kate xxxx' Later, I was in a witchy/New Age shop and a wench was enquiring about reading Tarot. I went into my purse and found Froggie's card with The Witchcraft Shop contact details on it. I gave it to her and said to contact him and ask to be put in contact with Mab. Then she'll get some lessons e-mailed free to her. Having just been in the shop, it didn't harm to big up Froggie's shop too.

We dumped our shopping back in the car; double-checked our supplies (sweets, Kendal mint cake; water); and I did my usual last minute 'Ok, one of us is badly injured on the moors, out of sight and we could be there for hours, what would we need...' And put in an extra packet of cigarettes, just to be on the safe side. Then we set off. It even stopped raining after the first fag break about halfway up the road, overlooking the reservoir.

We'd started at a right pace, but as soon as we were actually on Haworth Moor, off the road, and past the first ruined building, we started to slow down. The wind was giving it some and there were occasional showers, but by then I was sweating so much with the walking that all of that was a relief. It brightened up considerably the further we went.

It was unexpectedly quite busy. Not as busy as the last time, when we'd got as far as Bronte Falls before the call came to go back, but there were a steady stream of people down there. Half wanting to avoid them and half wanting to see the pretties, we kept going on little meanders off the beaten track. The first of the best of these was the waterfall. Kate likes waterfalls. We often find ourselves pulling over on car journeys to better see one; or detouring to climb up one.

Kate spotted this one and was partway up, while I was reading the plaque at the bottom telling us that this was Bronte Falls. I don't know why this picture has come out so dark. I've just lightened it and reloaded it, but it's gone dark again again. :-( I was going to say that I'm not that good a photographer, so you don't get the height here, but the top of the waterfall is roughly what you can see just above the second branch of the tree. It was muddy and Kate had her wellies on, so she fell behind slightly... hence it was me who fell up to my lower calves in a swampy puddle near the top of the falls. LOL I had DMs on, so I was able to climb, practically vertically in places, up to the top of the falls. There the view was wonderful, but more wonderful was that seemingly secret place.

I found magic in everything I saw:

A Fairy Throne

A Fairy Throne; A pool where Celtic warriors of old threw in their swords that the Lady would keep them safe; and, you can't see it here, but there and in the picture on my digital camera, there appears to be a lad peering out from the picture to the top right.

Of course, climbing up there was one thing, but going down again? When your boots have kicked down some of the foot-holds in climbing and the mud has made everything slippy? And the rain is still softly falling... *hugest grin ever* That's why the Lady made heather. We went along until it was obvious that all we were going to get were vertical drops, with the rocks and water far below, then it was every wench for herself. I SO LOVED IT! Lying back against the bank, holding onto the sturdy heather with my hands above my head, sliding down until my heels found some purchase, then letting go. Sometimes I dug with my heels until the mud slipped and a niche was formed. By the end, it was sod that, I fell until the heather itself held me. I got to the bottom giggling like a kid and looked for Kate. She was about half a second behind me, giggling her head off herself. She had to wade across the falls themselves though and catch me as I leapt, because I'd have been well buggered trying that in DMs! LOL

We didn't get very far then, because the breck itself was just around the corner and that takes some getting past. Not so much in physical difficulty, because the maintained, well-trodden track and bridge sort that out, but in sheer prettiness.

We were probably there for hours or minutes... time doesn't really mean much, does it? Everywhere I looked, it was just beautiful. The breck cuts through a ravine, so the moors sweep upwards on both sides, with all the heather, sheep grass (and sheep, twisted trees and dancing trees, the bridge and rocks. It was typical of us really that Kate waded into the breck, taking pictures of the rain-swollen water rushing under that bridge, while I lay dreaming amongst the roots of a tree using, as a pillow, a tuft of grass which grew where the ground met its trunk. As she found her seat on a rock at the edge of the breck to watch its flowing, I stared up at broad broughs and then, through their extremities, the slopes of the ravine cut through by some ancient thawing ice age. And that's me and Kate in a nutshell.

Eventually we started off again though, up the opposite edge of the ravine, slowly following the signs to Top Withins. Stopping, of course, for Kate to photograph a stone wall; or me to gush over another copse of trees or another view. We were high up now, so that's always perilous when it comes to getting me to go anywhere quickly. I love heights. I love the fact of being high up; I love the views; I love just sitting there looking and looking and looking, not thinking anything, just drinking in through my eyes the scenery below. Kate had seen Top Withins though and had us practically racing the last bit, until my thighs just went to jelly and I had to sit down! A cigarette later and it was sorted out, but I think my body had just noticed how many miles it had walked thus far. I'm not known for being fit. Five minutes on, around the corner and there was Top Withins.

'I see a repose that neither earth nor hell can break, and I feel an assurance of the endless and shadowless hereafter - the Eternity they have entered - where life is boundless in its duration, and love in its sympathy, and joy in its fulness.'
~ 'Wuthering Heights' Emily Bronte

I climbed upon one of the walls and got the book out of my bag, with every intention of reading it, but the sheer beauty of the view got me. I sat there, transfixed, not knowing which way to look and, just as soon as I'd stopped my vision to see one wonderful scene, I had to move on, looking, just looking, because I couldn't see it all at once. I felt everything that hadn't yet been blown away by the fun and beauty below just drain from me now. A sense of privilege at being me in that place and time that I haven't felt since the Vegas Wiccaning. Kate stepped down off the wall, to find somewhere more sheltered from the wind to roll her fags; and her passage brought her down below my wall. I threw a paper bag into her path. It had in it a little book of Bronte poems and a postcard of Top Withins, which I'd find in Haworth. I'd written inside, returning the sentiments of her card. I stood then, wandering the walls, reading 'Wuthering Heights' until she came back. She has a picture of me doing it, one of the best I've ever seen of me, half-wild, half-studious, looking so calm.

Others came along. A German family, then later a lone woman. One of the German ladies took our photograph.

Then we climbed down and sat on a bench outside, reading passages of 'Wuthering Heights', until a poem grabbed me and Kate skim-read the entire book to herself, while I wrote.

In a little while, we were alone again, so climbed onto the walls to watch the sun go down and darkness start to fall. A beautiful peace; and such silence. Kate got cold, so climbed down. I heard her cry out, 'Oh fu....!' but nothing else, so I didn't jump off, just stared at the sun until she called me. 'Can you come here a moment please?' I meandered out and she was facing the sunset. She pointed, 'Just look at that... the colours... look at the blue, the pinks, the red...' I was looking, grinning, in awe. Then she said, in an echo of the book itself, 'And now turn around.'

So I did. And the Mother Moon was full and bright, filling the sky between the sweeping crags and slopes the ravine; all the land was silver, from here across to the far distant lights of Stanbury and Haworth, the trees in deep silouette and, by the Lord and Lady, it was one of the most beautiful, magical, wonderful sights I have ever seen.

'"Close your eyes and turn around. If it is fair, then so shall be your life..."'
~'Wuthering Heights' by Emily Bronte

I got it! I got it! Talk about telling me in my language on my terms. I just stood there bathed in moonlight, as if face-to-face with the Mother Herself, and it needed no circle to draw down the moon in that place and time. It filled me. It was as if everything made sense. Not just 2004, but everything before that too; everything which had driven me to that moment. I made sense. I don't know how long I stood there or what Kate did. I just know that if I never have another moment of grace like that again, it will be enough to carry me until it's time to go to Annwn.

The eventual walk back took almost as long as the walk there. Not because the whole round trip was between 7 and 9 miles (depending on which source you consult), but because we detoured and meandered and explored and sat for long whiles just being there. The moors, at night, were transformed again in silver and black; everything had a magical air. We didn't bother with the beaten track until we'd found the bridge again and crossed it. Before that, we were cutting across wild moorland, over rocks and fences. I told Kate to listen for the breck, because we couldn't go wrong, but without torches and in the brightness of that full moon, we could see for miles anyway. I didn't need her hearing to get us back and neither did she, really.

We sat for the longest time just up from the breck, where a scattering of huge rocks could have been a stone circle, or might not. I looked across and saw a rock turn into an old woman wearing a shawl. After a while, a whitened, dead stump, which looked like it had been struck by lightning at some time, turned into a dancing maiden. I grinned and wondered where the Mother was, then looked up at the full moon illuminating them both and laughed aloud.

We kept to the track after the breck, but probably only because there were fewer places to deviate from it. That final walk back will stay with me forever. The moon to our right, seeming low enough to reach out and touch, looking at Kate silver in it, knowing myself to be the same. Stopping to look at Orion, the Great Bear, Draco, the twins. Stopping every so often for a cigarette or just to stop and look.

Reality faded in slowly, a mile after coming off the moors, when the road wound around past a pub. There were voices and music, like a distant world, just as magical in its own right, though I think that both of our hearts and minds were back on the moors in the moonlight.

We stopped in the Black Bull, where Branwell Bronte used to drink, and briefly considered staying in Haworth. But a few coffees on, Kate declared herself fit and ready to drive home. That suited me. I was craving the solitude and silence, away from people, just me and Kate journeying somewhere. In a way, I wondered if, had we stayed, and no doubt been enticed onto the moor one last time in the cold daylight, the magic would have evaporated somehow. I wanted it safe inside me and I wanted to be out in the moonlight again. I didn't say any of this to Kate. It was her call, being the driver, and I said I was happy whichever way she jumped.

We drove home and, in the lanes, the song which reminded me of arriving in Vegas, 'King of Birds', came on. It will remind me of that journey now too, linking the two. *pause to grin at the computer screen* We were back in the beautiful Black Country (which has it's own kind of magic, if you've the eyes to see it) by midnight. Still giggling, still full of the everything of it all.

I feel as though I blinked and it was nearly dawn and Kate saying, 'Let's go chase the sun.' We went in Rebecca, seeing the sun rising over Netherton as we drove down by Merry Hill, but we wanted to find a good, pretty vantage point. We ended up in the Wren's Nest, up Dudley, the sun long up and us peering through trees trying to find somewhere for next time. Then sat on a log talking bollocks for ages. We found a totem pole for her garden though, which kicked off a whole adventure in getting it into Rebecca.

The day was spent in Kate's garden then. She and I bouncing ideas off each other in re-structuring the path, then her happily working in the soil, while I played with words. I'm assuming that no-one's still reading by now, seeing as I've gone on so long, so I'll record my poem here - started at Top Withins and finished in Brierley Hill. It's not meant to be 'good' as in sounding good; because it was the wordplay I was messing with. Making it harder and harder as I went along, repeating themes and syllables etc. This is me having fun! LOL

There was a moment when silence
Passed through my soul
And put out the light on
Sleeping troubles; when I,
Quietly smiling, gazed upon
A world of beauty
And knew it for my own.
This hushed, still mind, grateful
Beyond measure, drank deep,
Through eyes wide in
Sweeping wonder, and knowing
Not which way to look.
Lingering, breathing, delight.

There was a trackway where sunset
Paused me; my hills
Crowned with colour, dark
With long shadows. Then I,
Turning slowly, gasped aloud
At the full moon; the
valley flooded silver.
That magic feeling, honour,
Privilege, awe, sank deep;
Sense and psyche
Reeling touched. It healing
The witch within me,
Drawn down to earth by moonlight.

There was a journey on the moors
Placating the core
Of me and the roles that
Make up the whole. Could I,
Pagan, miss when gazed upon
By the world's beauty,
Its claim that I'm its own?
This studious brain, playful
Free from working, banks deep
The wild respite;
As the poet, inspired
Now finds the words to write.
Beautiful, transforming day.

That's going to sound so crap if you can't see what I was playing at! LOL But it was fun writing it. It was more like doing a puzzle than writing a poem. I really should write one properly about that journey; or at least the coming home part up at Top Withins.

After putting the pad down, I did something which is so rare that I was making Kate nervous. I did nothing. I just sat there watching the energies around the plants; the clouds; the sheer enjoyment that Kate was taking in her gardening. I was enrapt in watching the deep blue aura of a daffodil when Kate finally downed spade and asked if I was alright. Bloody yes! :-D :-D :-D So I made a cup of tea for us and then read half of 'The Da Vinci Code' to make her feel better. Mind you, I got into the book, so that was hardly the bind I've just made that out to be. *giggle* And I finished it the next day. The entire of Saturday and Sunday was mainly spent sitting in Kate's garden, writing, reading and just dreaming, unbelievably calm and happy.

Monday was a little weird though. I had a couple of hours reading 'The Old Straight Track' by Alfred Watkins, then craved a full English, so instead of going off out (as I'd vaguely planned... emphasis on the vague there), I went with Kate up Sainsburys. While she shopped, I ordered my breakfast (she didn't want one and I was on a timer!). I'm nose deep in the book, when one of the Sainsbury's ladies came over and told me that the lady in a wheelchair has been trying to get my attention. She feels like she knows me and would like me to go over there. So I did. I didn't know her, but as soon as I approached, she burst into tears and cried out, 'Jo!'

She could hardly speak and was often so frustrated that she sobbed, bouncing in the seat. She'd had a very severe stroke and was mostly paralyzed. I desparately searched the memory banks, wondering who she was, because it's very unlike me to forget anyone or anything. One of the most notable things about me is my bloody memory. I was there a while, still no wiser, while her husband gave me her history. I got ascertained that she had a history degree from the University of Wolverhampton and that she knew me. All those facts were present and correct, but if it was 1993/1994, that would explain the loss of memory, just not the fact that I'd obviously made a very good impression on her. She mustered all that she could and got out the words, 'I wish to see you again.' Though they took a long time and many tears to come. I held her hand, looked into her eyes and willed all the energy and calm I had for her to get so far. I said I would, then my breakfast arrived. Halfway through it, so did Kate. She didn't recognize her either.

Her husband wheeled her over and handed me their address, before showing me a photo of her in her robes. Armed now with a name and what she looked like, I placed her with a whoosh of memory, facts and figures. I told Kate, 'This is Rose, we share a birthday. August 30th... we did Irish history together.' And Rose sobbed her heart out, clutching my hand. This is Rose... she was so vital, energetic, her mind sharp and out-doing me every time in rushing about. Her mind will still be vital, just slipping, with blanks. That is frightening. But if anyone will overcome this, Rose will. I remember her now.

There was a gap in time between Kate going out and Jim coming home, in which I just hung around Selly Oak. I was aiming for the Lickey Hills, but I don't know Brummagen and Rebecca is in danger of losing a wheel, so I didn't want to push it. Instead I wandered around St Mary's Church, then the park, perching on gravestones and under trees reading 'Prince of Annwn' by Evangeline Walton, until I was too cold to feel my fingers. Then I wandered back to Rebecca and sat in her. I had the seat lowered and was half asleep, when the book hit me in the face and I noticed the sunset. But the houses were in the way and, for the first time, I was really bored.

So I 'phoned Georgia. That was fun. That's what I needed, to be canting with mates instead of sitting in a Selly Oak street falling asleep. I told her as much as I was able about the moon on the moors, but probably told her more in the sighs and squeals than I did in words. We were still canting away three-quarters of an hour later, when Jim appeared down the lane.

I thawed out in his house, having a brew and generally having him (my oldest friend, in terms of how long we've known each other... 20 years now, our Jamie...) raising eyebrows at how chilled out I was, until the news told us about the earthquake in Indonesia. I watched, willing the Grove to be roused and sending. I won't tell you who I targetted on the ether to tell, because I have no proof, but it was she who alerted them. Then I sent myself, 'No tsunami... no tsunami...' Watching and waiting until it was time to pick up Ian from New Street.

We spent the night thereon watching three episodes of 'Most Haunted...' which I really got into, then deciding to stay the night. Mind full of ghosts... night-time... driving home... do you blame me? LOL We had a Chinese take-away and talked about Mara, the Buddhist Puck-like being, before going to bed around 3-4am.

Tuesday tipped it down. It was raining from the moment I woke up (with three cats using me as their bed, bless them... quite proud of that actually) around half 1, until the moment I went to bed back in Wyrley Bank at 2 the next morning. In our office today, everyone was canting about what a let down yesterday was and how their plans to garden or go out were thwarted by the weather. I've just sat there silently, smiling to myself and remembering how Ian, Jim and I went hunting pumas up the Lickey Hills. Not with guns or anything, just going to see if there were any, as the rumour goes that there's one running wild up there. We saw several, but they were the size and shape of squirrels.

We got off the main path as soon as possible, climbing up into the trees to see where we would find ourselves. We found nature's own art, or some enchanted lizard turned into wood by a passing baddie; and lay down on the forest floor looking at the hidden lands in the topmost boughs and the kingdoms on the branches. They created a canopy above us, sheltering us from all but the occasional drops of rain, and these we watched falling towards us - not enough to drench us - but making a game of trying to see them furthest up, before they landed on us. There were sculptures in the forest too, a snake lady and two green men. I was enjoying getting muddy again. I do love the earth, it has to be said. LOL

We left the forest for tea and cake, ignoring the horrific screeching that Rebecca made as we turned into Warren Lane. I really am thinking that her back wheel is about to fall off. You can actually see the buckling of it now...

Finally we reached Jim and Ian's house again and I changed clothes into the only things left which weren't either caked in mud or slopping wet from all the playing outside I've been doing. Ian offered to massage my shoulder, which has been hurting since the 1980s. He's a trained masseur now - Indian Head Massage and Swedish Body Massage. I had the former and an hour later was so ethereal and floating, it was unbelievable. Even today, over 24 hours later, I can't click my spine like I normally can and the clicking of my shoulder isn't half so loud. Then I drove home in the pouring rain very, very carefully.

So now, a day later, it's still there. That sense of happiness and freedom, lightness and ethereal nature. In some senses, it's so needful; in others, I'm not sure I can function as I was without that hard shell around me. I read a thread on Kindly Ones earlier that had me feeling sick and crying. I tried to respond and there's a half-finished e-mail in my draft folder waiting, but I pushed it too far and actually did end up throwing up. So I stopped. This time last week, I wouldn't have stopped. I'd have mentally whipped myself into finishing and ended up flaying myself alive in the attempt to save just one more micro-spot of the world. But tonight, I wiped my mouth and came in here instead. Spent nearly three hours re-living those beautiful days. I must be getting better (or worse?). I've ignored all those e-mails in my inbox.

I'm still on the moors really. It has to be said. I'll go to the Grove in a minute and see what's happening there. I've lingered here long enough.

And I still don't know the answer to Anna's question, on the Grove, what is a priestess. Perhaps that is the answer... I don't know, but I'm loving the finding out.


Which Oh My Gods! Character are You?

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Thursday, March 17, 2005

Running to Stand Still

For some strange reason my last blog was there three times! LOL But it's only there once now.

I seem to be leading a very full life again right now, but mainly in a way which doesn't seem very productive, but is tying up a lot of loose ends. The biggest of these came when I had Tuesday off work to finish my dissertation. That involved sitting there with three different annotated versions of my dissertation and trying to integrate all of the comments made. Some of these were fair enough - despite me and Pixie both having copy-read it half a dozen times each, Caroline still managed to find some typos! Mainly these were when words had been missed out or duplicated though. Viv had raised some brilliant points, but incorporating those meant that I was forever in danger of going well over my word-count. In truth, there was scope for a whole new chapter in the dissertation just to discuss those, if not a whole new dissertation. By far the most infuriating though were Mike's comments. Sometimes because I felt I was idiot-proofing it way too much, eg writing 'as will be discussed below' all over the place; but also because most of his comments involved the structure of it.

All told it took me 12 hours on Saturday; 4 hours on Sunday; then about 8 hours on Tuesday to rewrite, restructure or generally tat with this dissertation. I started off excited about it again, proving that the break had done me the power of good; but by Tuesday, I was having bad thoughts again - anything do just stop me having to do anything else with this. I didn't care if it ended, I gave up on the MA, I ended or the world ended. It was pure, unadulterated torture.

I was more sensible this time though. Instead of pushing myself to break on through when I was close to tears with it on Tuesday, I walked away and watched 'Men in Black II'. By the time I came back to it, it was still frustrating, but I wasn't taking it all in as a personal attack.

That's the trouble with something like this. You tear apart your own religion, kick it around and batter it to death; then, if your research is similarly attacked, it doesn't feel like it was worth it. You neither have religion or intellect left then, so what's to rely on? I can see now why I really lost the plot in November and again in January. This was only the briefest return, but those were prolonged.

I'm so glad that it's over now. I'm half suspecting that it's no longer coherent and that the original dissertation was much better in terms of structure, but I've promised myself that I will never have to go through that again. I'd rather walk away from the MA than have to rewrite another word.

In the other news, I had a wonderful night last night. Aud, Bex and I met up and went for our tea in Sylvari's, in King Street, Wolverhampton. It was beautiful. To be honest, I was so hungry by then that I could have eaten a scabby 'oss sandwiched between two mouldy mattresses, but it was great food anyway. I don't tend to eat out very often, so this was doubly a treat.

After that, we drove up to Ruiton to the Old Mill. My gt-gt-gt-grandad, John Hyde, built the pub and this was the main reason that I suggested it. We sat in there for ages, canting, catching up, putting the world to rights. The one time I actually wanted to see a ghost (on the basis that I could be related to it) there was nothing to be seen. The cider was gorgeous though and we found the perfect little alcove to all sit in, so I can see us going there again.

The best thing is that we could do it again next week, as we're going to see 'MacBeth' at the Newhampton. So meeting up at the same time and place and probably eating at the same place! *happy dance*

I'm also meeting Kate Morgan in town later on today (I haven't seen her in a year!). I've just come off the 'phone with her. We're meeting in the same place and I suggested we go to Sylvari's, then onto an Irish pub, seeing as it's St Patrick's Day. I don't think I've ever been out so much in my life AND in pubs too. I normally avoid them because I can't hear and I'm driving so I can't drink, but the Old Mill was quiet last night. I can't see the Irish pubs being quiet tonight though! LOL


Monday, March 14, 2005

I've had a very productive weekend, though some things weren't precisely as planned! Woke up Saturday morning, in a very quiet house, as my parents have gone on holiday. I'd had me a brew and put the computer on, before I realized that it was only 20 past 8! :-( What happened to sleeping in Saturdays?

So I went through, clearing my inbox and the WG folder, before going up the garage and taking Rebecca to be made less dangerous. A mechanic named Lee (...) drove me back home, so I didn't have to wait around, then Steve brought her back later on. She's now safe to drive, but still needs some work. The important thing is that her squirty-up-the-window thing is now working again. Had me something to eat; watched 'Charmed'; Alan came over for a disc for Aud; then it was time to get onto my dissertation.

That wasn't nearly as bad as I'd anticipated. I'm glad I waited so long before picking it up again, because now I'm actually excited about doing it again. I was at it for 12 hours, using the comments from Caroline, Viv and Mike, and basically tinkering with it. Unfortunately, I also spent those 12 hours feeling very ill. I kept having to run to throw up; or because I thought I needed a shit, but nothing was happening. My stomach was rumbling like an old generator and there was a lot of wind. Caroline, having heard this, is screaming food poisoning.

There's still a fair bit to do on my dissertation. It isn't so much the amendments I was advised to make, but the other tatting I've been doing with it since. I need to do it this week, else my parents will be back and there won't be the hours of uninterupted peace and quiet to do it in.

Sunday morning, for some stupidity I woke up after only 4 hours sleep and felt so rough. I sank a pint of water as well as my brew. Did another 4 hours on the dissertation, but was still throwing up, though not as bad. I had me something to eat and cogitated telling Aud that I was too ill to go out, but after food, I went ok again.

Alan came and picked me up and that was fun in itself. Being driven through those Black Country roads as I could have driven blindfolded, I know so well. But I'm not usually the passenger, so I got to see fields and the such as I didn't even know existed!

We fetched Aud and he dropped us off down the pub. That was great! We were in there for an hour or so, catching up on the gossip and getting drunk. I was quite tipsy by the time we went to her friend's house for the tarot readings. Then I was drinking wine all afternoon. I had a brilliant time, but suddenly started feeling ill and tired again about half 6.

Aud and Alan dropped me off at home and I went to start looking at e-mails, but nearly fell over. I went for a lie-down and fell asleep. Woke up at 20 to 10 and realized I was missing the drama-documentary about Yellowstone Park. I put that on, after nipping out of bed for another pint of water and to switch my computer off, but watched the whole thing (and the documentary on BBC2 afterwards) feeling really ill and half-asleep. The concluding part is tonight. I did get to see a lot of Mount St Helen's and Anna's 'hood though. :-D

I think I was asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow again. Woke up at 25 to 4 feeling like there was someone in my room. I remember murmering, 'I'm ok, Georgia', though I have no idea what made me think that Georgia was in my room. There was a definite sense of someone standing over me and slowly I thought through the implications of that and sat bolt upright. No-one obviously there. Saw the time, noted that I now felt better and thought on getting up and doing more disseration, then went back asleep.

By 7am, when the alarm went off, I was sorted. I've got out of bed feeling very well and very refreshed.


Friday, March 11, 2005

I thought I'd have a little whizz through my world, so folk don't think that my relative quietness on the lists these days is another way of saying overwhelmed and stressed.

What's happened is that I took that typical day thing I did to heart, plus all the comments of everyone else. I've been experimenting with doing the things that I want to do, for me, first, and when I'm bored of that going onto things that I would have ordinarily started with. It seems to be working really well. I'm coming to things fresh and full of energy, instead of completely drained. I've also spotted that when I don't jump into things, other people will get them covered first. Cool!

The last couple of nights, I've been researching my own family history. Last night was helped by the fact that Frome sent me two certificates, which gave me a maiden name for Eliza Pike - Davies. Davies... that's heading into Wales again, isn't it?

I've come across two brick walls, which I need to either think my way past or find more information. But I'll put them here just in case I'm two close to it to see the clear answers:

Edwin Bradeley

Here's where this one fits in: Edwin Bradeley. Now, straight off I'm going for his surname being Bradley, because that's just written phonetically in Black Country dialect. Not so much today, but definitely back then. There's an area of Bilston, locally, which is written Bradley, but pronounced Bradeley.

All that is known about him is from his daughter's marriage lines. He was deceased by 1886 and he was a brewer. Mary-Ann herself was born in Lower Gornal or Gornalwood in 1862, so that places him in the vicinity at least 9 months before. I've previously asked Dudley registrar to find her birth certificate - Mary-Ann, daughter of Edwin, born 1862 - and they can't find it.

My contenders:

Edwin Bradley - born in Birmingham in 1818; living in Coseley (two villages away from Gornal) in 1851; married Elizabeth Robinson in Birmingham in the 1850s, before moving to Ashbourne in Derbyshire by 1881. He was a successful grocer and tobacco manufacturer there. I've scutted through the censuses and can't find him with a Mary-Ann as a daughter; however, he wasn't at home during the important 1871 census and I'm yet to discover where Elizabeth and the kids are. My major contender is still in Brum and hasn't a Mary-Ann.

Edward Bradley - born in Gornal in 1830-something; living there, working as a brewer, with a daughter called Mary-Ann, who is the right age, during the 1871 census. I've checked the BMD and there were only two Mary-Anns born in Gornal at that time, one is daughter of Edward and the other is the daughter of a John Bradley.

There are other Edwin Bradleys, but all too young to have fathered Mary-Ann, as in MUCH too young.

Actually the other brick walls are more information type things, so I won't add them here.

It's typical. I write a lot to Patrick Cormack, my MP, because I have views and he's representing me in Parliament. Usually, I get a mass-produced letter, signed by his secretary, with my name hand-written after the 'Dear...' part. He and I are finally in accord on an issue and I get a personal letter, signed by the man himself, with a copy of Hansard for Feb 28th 2005 inside. When Mum told me over the 'phone that I had a parcel from the House of Commons, I was like, 'well, is it vibrating or ticking?' But no, it's the recordings of the day.

That made fascinating reading, mainly along the lines of 'is this English?' All the MPs talk in a strange kind of code. I wonder if, when they get elected, their first mission is to learn the language. But the debate did show just how fucked the Government is over the Anti-Terrorism Bill.

Talking about politics, I had a bit of a rant on Kindly Ones yesterday, after receiving notification from Amnesty that we'd lost one. He'd been executed by the American state of Ohio, which now makes it well over 900 people killed there since 1976. *sigh*

I noticed that a lot of people had responded to my rant, but I haven't investigated yet about what was being said (being side-tracked by genealogy and all). I'll pop my face in there again tonight.

Talking Amnesty, I know have two people requesting readings with donations to the Zheng Enchong Fund. *huge grin* I'll make those donations direct to the fund.

And talking about readings, I haven't a clue what happened this week. I asked Anna to alter the database to put me as accepting readings now and suddenly, whoooooosh! I had an unprecedented number of requests that meant that within 24 hours, Georgia was sneaking in and putting me on 'not available'. Anna jumped in to take a couple of the later ones and I'm just sitting there thinking, 'what the fuck just happened?'

I don't even consider myself to be the best reader on that list. Anna, Cerr and maybe Ivy, at least, have all got the edge on me. Roxanne and Pixie are at least as good as me, if not better; and there are a few people who remain untried on list. So it's not a merit thing. Is it a placing thing? When I'm choosing who to ask for a reading, I get the database up, close my eyes and stick my finger on the monitor. I was thinking that it could be that. As I'm 'Mab' on there, my placement is more or less in the centre of the list.

It has got me worried though. As only three requests were actually on-list, it's not apparent just how many were off-list. It wouldn't have even come to the attention of the Mods had I not been one myself. I'm big and ugly enough to turn around and say, 'No, sod off', should I so wish; but if it happens to another reader, would they have the confidence to do that?

We haven't really had chance to debate this in the Mods lounge, but I know it's worried Cerr as well. She's written me a long e-mail telling me NOT to feel pressured and to tell any that I want to that it'll have to go through the proper channels, ie via the Grove. The reason that these things are openly done on there is precisely to forestall this kind of situation. I would be setting an example if I did that, which I'm supposed to do as a Mod. But on the other hand, I'm happy enough to just do the readings, which currently stands at 7 or 8 (I've got to check on one) readings; two of which are part of the Zheng Enchong thing. :-D


Me at Work

Thursday, March 10, 2005

'We always shone brightest
When no-one was watching
Now I'll kiss the lines
On your beautiful face...'
New Model Army

Sometimes you catch whispers on the wind of pure compassion and beauty, which were never intended to be spotted, just there, inate.

Andrea Wakely belongs on anyone's roll of honour. (Right up there with Anna Alexander, Georgia Langley and everyone else manoeuvring away in the background to make the world a better place.)

And {{{{{{{{{{TygerCub}}}}}}}}} Thank you for helping to light the candles of hope for Zheng Enchong. They might be surrounded by barbed wire, but they don't half shine brightly.


Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Are you Strange?

Space Cadets needs YOU!

I was minding my own business, floating through space on the bridge of a really funky space-ship, when a call came over the tannoy - recruit a stranger for Space Cadets!

So I'm looking for a stranger. If you are strange and even better if you are stranger, then please feel free to come for a fly around on our ship!

It's called The Spaceship Funk and it's lovely! Just say that Matilda Mother sent you. This is me.


Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Where do you go to my lovely?

This one's for me. I'm constantly shocked when it's knocking on midnight and I'm not sure where the evening's gone. Then I'm scrambling to do all the things that I wanted to do, before going abed around 1-2am. I want to see what I do of an evening. Though this is going to take twice as long as I'm recording it here as I go along, but I'm not going to do anything else that I wouldn't ordinarily do.

5.30pm: Got home from work and immediately went back out down the chippie.

6.30pm: Finished flicking through Valiente book, eating pizza and so came on-line.

6.30-7pm - Read through all WG e-mails and answered a couple.

7pm: E-mailed MP about Terrorism Bill after Amnesty (and Duncan) gave me an extra nudge. Kicked myself for not doing this sooner, but didn't have time to go into ordinary e-mails last night.

7.08: E-mailed Amnesty to tell them what I'd done; e-mailed Kindly Ones about it. Read Duncan's article.

7.15: Started scanning through ordinary e-mails to see if there was anything screaming. Sent e-mail about www.zaytoun.org to Kindly Ones; saved a Yahoo group I'm owner of from being deleted; found a pressie off Pixie and asked her questions about MP3s; forwarded some Wicca news alerts to Positive Paganism, which I keep forgetting to do; taught Yve a bit of Welsh; started on the less easily responded to ones.

7.35: Maggie phones to see if I want to sponsor Jordy. He's doing spellings to raise money for the NSPCC. He gets a fiver out of Auntie Jo and another fiver out of Grandad. Grandma's in London, so he gets nothing out of her, though no doubt she'll be tapped tomorrow. I remember that I was going to offer tarot readings to raise money for the Free Zheng Enchong campaign... it's a little close to the Witchgrove raffle to advertize it there... *bites lip* Ok...


Yes, I know that if you're Witchgrove, you get these free anyway, and it's 99% Witchgrove who read this, but... but... I am willing to do tarot card readings for a donation, which I will then pass onto the Free Zheng Enchong fund. I haven't got one of those funky pay-pal buttons, but if you send your donation to mab@dreaming.fsnet.co.uk, with a note saying Zheng Enchong Tarot Fundraising, then e-mail me with your name and birthday, I will do your reading for you.

This is an independent thing and I do not represent either Amnesty International nor Witchgrove, unless representatives of either of those tell you that I do in the comments section.

7.45: Get back to e-mails.

8.00: Friends of the Heroes are thinking about printing an anthology. Consider my take on that and e-mail them, also thinking of all the issues that Andrea et al raised while we were working out the Witchgrove fundraising. Notice that the Grove URL is out-of-date on the FotH website... open ftp...

8.20: Having now got side-tracked into doing some tatting with the WG web-site, having spotted something that needed fixing earlier, I nearly overwrite a WG page with a FotH page, thus illustrating perfectly what Pixie warned me about in an e-mail about half an hour ago regarding the naming of files.

8.28: Having added a link to Wild Mountain Gryph's poem on the WG 'Bards of the Grove' page, I'm now adding another poem, 'Trees' (ie a brand new page). Then think about the Andy Charnell poem. It's a brilliant poem, but he wrote it especially for Deedra at the loss of her mother. Ordinarily, I'd just pop on and say, 'Can I put this in Bards?' but that seems a bit disrespectful. At the moment, I haven't the confidence to know if my asking that is perceived as me on the nick on the behalf of WG, which would make that a VERY disrespectful question to ask him. The reality is that, yes, Bards does provide some interesting content for the web-site, but it's largely there to big up those who submit their work. Until I work this one out, the poem is in my 'to be up-dated' folder.

8.38: Whizz through the rest of my 'to be up-dated folder', they are all reviews, which another Grover does and so I don't touch to avoid duplication of effort. They are there as back-up for her really. Then items for March's 'This Month in the Grove'. I back away from the html and ftp software.

8.39: Notice that Cecilia's picture has disappeared here two seconds AFTER I close all the software. Decide to ignore it until tomorrow, THEN find it, THEN e-mail the Grove to see who writes elsewhere and wants bigging up here. I know there's Branny and Gryph for a start.

8.49: Computer AND blogger back up after the crashing of the latter led to the crashing of the former. Deleted all my temp. files and cookies and now it seems to like me again. Naturally all that wiped the half-written e-mail I was writing to Clive... Back to e-mails.

8.53: Realize that I forgot to get the other measurements for Andrea, but no-one's in the house to get them. :-(

8.55: Dry Cell, in my headphones, serendipitously sing:

'Is it ok to be myself;
why do we always have to fight?
It's alright.'

While I'm responding to an e-mail where that could be the soundtrack. I instantly become the lead singer of Dry Cell, though they'll deny it if you ask them.

21.03: Miss Mike. Then Korn sing,

I'm over it
Why can't we be together every day?

It doesn't help.

Take my hand now
And be alive.

They sing on helpfully, that's slightly better. I half compose a story where you can hold out your hand and bring people, Lazarus-like, back to life. Then I catch myself watching myself experiencing emotion and inwardly going, 'Oooo! I can write that emotion in a story!' That's the writer in me, just as Neil Gaiman uncomfortably pointed out in the 'Sandman Companion' last night. Git.

9.08: I have only a handful of e-mails left now, excluding the groups. Four are off-list requests for readings; two are from deities sorting my head out (this is a true story); three are asking me advice on witchy or tarot matters; one is a dear friend asking me if I'm alright. Six of the above say 'I know you're busy, don't afret if...' Aud texts to ask if I'd be available to do readings on Sunday afternoon. I am. I think about Zheng Enchong.

9.19: Blogger crashed again. This time it was because I tried to save this, forgetting that I didn't save it before I deleted the cookies. Fortunately, I'd copied it before I tried saving. I'm wise to this bloody computer. I've just been called 'tarot hero to the masses'. *grin*

9.25: Try to determine what to do next. Two sorting out my head; five readings (inc the one actually ON the Grove); Kindly Ones; or go and respond to some Grove posts. Or have a cup of tea.

9.26: Georgia is a scary, psychic witch-woman. I'm going for a cup of tea.

9.33: Return with cafe latte and decide that Pixie is bloody fantastic! The 'Queen of the Damned' soundtrack is one step closer to being in my car, thanks to her! *happy dance* Download my pressie and Aud texts to say that she's got an A in her English exam. Sit back and love life.

9.44: My non-group e-mails are now down to the ones I need to get Tarot cards out for. En route, Laurie and Minerva Ravenwing have both given me a lot to think on.

9.55: Up-to-date on WG Mods group and latte finished. I'll start on the readings now.

9.57: Defended someone, who'll never know they needed it; but nervous about that. But remembered 1985... now I'll do the readings.

10.40: Finished the first reading.

11.06: As I was sending the reading, Outlook crashed. It froze on the reading itself and so I had to delete it; this after 'phoning Shonna (practically in tears) to see if it had turned up on the Grove, on the outside chance that it still sent even though it had frozen in that white, yucky, no frames, nothing way. It hadn't. I saved this, which took about five minutes to do; interupted the download off Pixie's site, then ctrl ult del until my computer closed down. Just want to cry.

11.13: OMFG!! The reading just turned up on the Grove! Shonna's just e-mailed me to tell me and I'd been too busy being a weener on the settee to go and check after I got Outlook working again. I haven't a clue how it got out, but it did. Ok, I feel daft now.

11.18: Realized the 'defence' e-mail that I sent earlier was taken in totally the wrong way by someone else. Re-read what I'd written and realized how that happened. I wasn't very clear.

11.23: Stare at all the remaining group e-mails, after reading them and getting delete happy because I know there will be a hundred more tomorrow. I know what I want to say to them all, but my mind feels frozen. I do the whole What Would Roxanne Do thing; then start thinking myself in circles. Tell myself that this won't look so bad tomorrow; tell myself that I'm not a bad person; tell myself that I should take a break now. This is the point of daily meltdown. I want to see what it is that I'm doing that's keeping me away from looking at my genealogy, which is generally what I plan to do every night on the way home from work, but never actually get there; and also why I seem to be feeling like I'm on the verge of panic/meltdown every night at around this time.

I'm going to publish this, then go back to find out if there's answers to those things and, if so, what I can do about it.


Saturday, March 05, 2005

I NEED the Queen of the Damned soundtrack on tape for my car....

It seems what's left of my human side
Is slowly changing ... in me
(Will you give it to me?)

Looking at my own reflection
When suddenly it changes
Violently it changes
Oh no, There is no turning back now
You've woken up the demon ... in me

Get up, come on get down with the sickness(x3)
Open up your hate, and let it flow into me
Get up, come on get down with the sickness
You mother get up
Come on get down with the sickness
You fucker get up
Come on get down with the sickness
Madness is the gift, that has been given to me

I can see inside you, the sickness is rising
Don't try to deny what you feel
(Will you give it to me?)
It seems that all that was good has died
And is decaying in me
(Will you give it to me?)

It seems you're having some trouble
In dealing with these changes
Living with these changes
Oh no, the world is a scary place
Now that you've woken up the demon ... in me


And when I dream!(x4)

Friday, March 04, 2005

Interesting... Dec 8th 1866

Wolverhampton Archives Gallery

All around me darkness gathers, Fading is the sun that shone;
We must speak of other matters:
You can be me when I'm gone
'The Kindly Ones'

Of late, I've been working my way through the Sandman books again - not really through the novels themselves, because I haven't got most of them (they were lent out and are still making their way back), but through 'The Sandman Companion' by Hy Bender. It's an interesting book, if you really do know your Sandman, because it's full of interviews with everyone from Neil Gaiman to the editors, artists, inkists, letterers etc. You can see where their heads were as they were creating this thing, so it's interesting on that level; but it also brings out the philosophies and issues, which I'm finding fascinating. In an indirect way, it's helping me work some things out here... an exercise as it were. Not insofar as believing I'm IN this story, but taking the ideas and... applying...

There's a bit of background here. In 1994, I was taken to the house of a couple of friends, who were basically watching me very, very closely for a while. We don't need to go into the sordid details here, but I was in a bad place mentally, emotionally and physically, and this was the aftermath stage. Another friend seized on the fact that 'The Doll's House' had actually engaged my attention and so acquired all the other Sandman novels for my birthday. Early September 1994, I sat on a bed in a box-room, with a ghost sitting on a chair and me studiously not looking at her, concentrating on the book; a wardrobe, a dressing table with a mirror, and that was it. It was only recently, during a conversation on Witchgrove, that I realized just how important Sandman had been in re-establishing me mentally and spiritually in the world. I've generally half suspected that I'm a Methodist Alexandrian Jedi Knight, but closer to the truth is that all of this is washed over with the ideas from Sandman.

So I'm going back, trying to find my roots as it were, because I've lost sight of what they were. I've always said that I might look like Death (enough people said it for me to finally stop blushing and just accept it, though I think that's in the hair more than anything), but I've always been Delirium. Ian, who's read these books, generally nods sagely in agreement at that point. What I've not realized until now is that a subtle change took place over the past couple of years - I turned into Dream. It should have been bloody obvious, even my name switched from predominantly being Matilda Mother to being Mab of Dream. Trouble is that no-one told me, I've been wondering around thinking I'm still Delirium; or I didn't tell them, one of the two. *grin*

I've been following the story, even slipping it out of my head to a certain extent, around 'Seasons in the Mists', when the Three-in-One give their advice, which so underlies the future storyline. I've been thinking very deeply about what my own goddesses and god said to me; I'm yet to respond because I'm yet to finish reflecting on it.

Of all the novels I've been re-reading, 'The Kindly Ones', is the one most loudly resonating - perhaps ironically, given that I am still nominally the owner of Kindly Ones, though that's in name only. Ian Alexander is undoubtedly king there now. Extremely ironically, given the storyline of Sandman's 'Kindly Ones', the climax of which is summed up here:

'When (Death) turns up, Dream asks her if she'd like to throw bread at him again, but she answers with resignation, 'It's much too late for that.' More angrily, she adds, 'The only reason you've got yourself into this mess is because this is where you wanted to be. There's personal responsibility too, y'know? Not only the kind you're always talking about... Destruction simply left... and took off into the forever. You could have done that.' The Sandman replies, 'No, I could not.' His sister pauses, lays her head on his shoulder, and acknowledges, 'No, you couldn't, could you?'

Dream then says, 'I have made all the preparations necessary.' 'You've been making them for ages,' his sister responds. 'You just didn't let yourself know that was what you were doing.' More gently, Death says to her brother, 'Give me your hand.'
'The Sandman Companion' by Hy Bender, p 188

Sometimes I wonder if I'm looking for Daniel and sometimes I know I am; and yet others, I know I'm Daniel too. That's pretty much the whole point, isn't it, that Dream and Daniel are simultaneously the same and different people; just like the Three-in-One.

Something happened this morning - wench who left yesterday in tears, arrived today in tears and I, by sheer dint of being the only one here to deal, sat with her and talked with her. I watched her change before my eyes, over an hour or so, until she was bouncing around the place full of hope. As we left the room, she thanked me and told me I should have been a counsellor. I thought, 'I'm a priestess'. It wasn't just words I was up to in there, there was more witchcraft than pure headology at work. I listened to her, a few hours on, canting with someone else and every few minutes it was, 'Jo said that!' or 'Jo's given me some great advice on that.' And for the first time in months, I realized how bloody good I can be when I put my mind to it.

We'll see what happens when it's time to wake.


Wednesday, March 02, 2005


What is it with some people's absolute inability to read anything on a computer screen? In the worst extreme, I've had people printing off e-mails, not to file them somewhere as hard copy, but to simply read them in the first place.

Is it a lack of intelligence? Or something physical gone wrong? I know that I can copy-type much easier if the text is to the left hand side and the monitor to the right hand side. For some reason, it's like there's a blockage in the stream of information if I do it the other way round. Is it like that with those who can't read on a screen? I've just researched and written an entire 15,000 word dissertation and managed not to print anything off. If I can manage something as tricky as that without printing, then why can't people manage the smallest amount of reading?

If it's lack of intelligence, then I pity them, but feel that they shouldn't be in the jobs they are. If it's physical, then I want to understand this. If it's pure laziness, then I'm going to curse their arse. If it's ignorance, then I'll educate them.

Right now, I just want to stab them.


Tuesday, March 01, 2005

'I paid the union and as times got harder
I looked to the government to help a working man
But they bought prosperity down at the armoury'

There seems to be a recurring miners theme in my life right now. It's hardly surprising on one level, as it's the twentieth anniversary of the Miners' Strike, but some of it has been coincidence. For example, going out just now for a fag and seeing a coal train go up over the viaduct. I haven't seen one of those in years. It was empty.

On Saturday, Kate and I went out for the day. It was born of my whinging that I hadn't been anywhere outside the Black Country for months and I needed a holiday. I probably had Vegas in mind at the time, but realistically it was going to be a day trip. This was the first date that we were both free, but right up until the morning we were setting off, we didn't know where we were going. It was Kate's choice for the Big Pit, in Blaenafon, but I wasn't exactly adverse to that one. My gt-granny is from Blaenafon and I still have family there. The night before going up Kate's, I'd been working on my genealogy and discovered that practically every Hurle in the town is related to me and the rest probably are too, I just haven't found out where yet.

I've received a cheque in compensation for the crash I was in last year. It's paid off all my debts, though it's probably not worth the year of intense agony to get it! Of course, I'm still utterly confused when it comes to my finances, but I got that sorted last night. I just moved everything into another account and that left me with only my wages in this account. Hurrah! Now I understand what's what. I get so confused by money that's there, but isn't really (and vice versa). It really does have to be kept simple with me.

I've also made a list of things I want to buy and that wasn't as huge as I suspected. I might even be able to buy them with what's left over. *happy dance*

I am still crap at actually buying anything though. I stood there with a REM album in my hand for 10 minutes before giving up and replacing it on the shelf. I made up for it afterwards though, by buying a couple of Sandman, a couple of DVDs and a video.


I really need to get a decent night's sleep tonight. I haven't slept properly in days again and the staying awake has just got chemical.


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