February Purge

IMG_0735This is the time of year when people who live in Maine get antsy.
Enough with being indoors for days on end! Enough with listening to the furnace run incessantly! Enough with eating way too may carbs just for the fun of it!

It’s not just me; I see people around me cleaning out and clearing up their living spaces. Out of boredom, as a result of cabin fever, or simply a matter of recognizing that “it’s time,” the stuff is hitting the curb.

To the casual observer, my home is, as you’d expect, organized and tidy. (It may not be clean, but it’s neat.)  But even in this space there is so much around me that I really don’t need.

And to my surprise, once I started culling, there is so much that I no longer want.

Things change. We all change all the time, whether we like to acknowledge it or not. (For a more thorough look at the notion of change, click here to visit a past blog on the topic.)  Things which used to pull on our heart-strings can loosen their grip pretty quickly if we’re not attentive to the holding on.

The February purge at my house started with needing some extra cash to pay taxes come April. Ring the bell for Round One: Gather items for resale at a local consignment shop. This pile included pottery, framed prints, objects d’art, and jewelry. If all the items sold for their full price during the first month of consignment –-which they won’t – I’ll make $350.

Now I’ve got some momentum going … ring the bell for Round Two: Clear out old photos.MP900384902

This is a tough one for many of us. It pangs me to toss holiday-card photos of friends and family, cramming those cherubic  faces alongside the coffee grounds and used tissues. Was I ready to part with images of my daughter at age 6 on her new bike, or me in my 80’s outfits and hairdo visiting New York City?

Out, out, out! By the time I was done with Round Two, a shoe box full of past experiences and most of the pages from my wedding album were in the trash. I did save a few photos of grandparents and family, the kind of thing my “future heirs” might enjoy. But do they really want to deal with photos of rocks taken in Colorado circa 1992?

Now I’m seriously on a tear. Scanning the house like a CIA operative….what else can be jettisoned?? Ring the bell for Round Three: Cast off old relationship mojo.

Honestly, this one was not difficult, but was more a case of paying attention to what had just “hung around” long after relationships ended. .. my wedding dress included.

I’m not sure why I was keeping it; there was no sentimental attachment to a marriage that ended over 20 years ago. It’s not as though I wanted my daughter to wear it – she would be horrified. The truth was, I still thought it was pretty. I still liked it, the covered buttons and heavy lace and its flowing simplicity.

Out.

Once recognized as a piece of a past with which I was finished—out. No pangs.

I had to purchase a new bedroom clock since the one I’d been using was remains of a 10-years- gone love affair. For years I’d been sleeping next to “old lover” time. It worked well and fit with my décor but lordy what a bad vibe!!

Sold my bentwood rocker on Craig’s list, a much-loved chair received as a gift on my first-year wedding anniversary, at which time I remember saying, spontaneously, “”I’ll rock our grandchildren in it.”

Yard Sale Documentation Project Which I have, and now can let it go; the chair has done its job, served its purpose in my life. Do I have to tell you that the woman who bought the rocker had been looking for this exact piece of furniture for months and was thrilled to now own it?

Whether you do it out of boredom, for extra cash, to release yourself (and others) from past relationships, to cleanse the energy in your home, to create more physical space for your life as it is NOW, clearing out is GOOD MOJO.

Make room for what is important to the YOU you are today; it is time and energy invested in the YOU you are becoming.

 

Jeanne Fiorini TarotWorks http://www.tarotworks.comJeanne Fiorini offers easy ways to simplify and clarify your life.
Visit the
 She’s Neat website or contact Jeanne at shesneat@myfairpoint.net.

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Psychic Molasses

My mom called today from upstate New York, wondering how we were making out with the “blizzard of the decade.”

While it hasn’t yet shifted into high gear, we are having snow here in Portland Maine and much of the normal commerce and activity has ground to a halt in anticipation of the storm.

And so I’m baking.

DSC00814Today it will be French bread, but I was telling my mom how, earlier in the week, my 2-year old granddaughter Vera and I had our first baking experience together.

Vera enjoys a project and really likes to help; last week she “helped” me shovel the driveway, a task she tackled with earnest sincerity.

I’d had a hankering for molasses cookies for weeks. Normally a batch of chocolate chip cookies will soothe my need for a baked good, but not this time; it had to be molasses.

Someone might say that my body was needing the iron which molasses provides. Someone else might say “that’s what happens on cold winter days, you need some home-baked goodness.” But after my conversation with my mom today, it’s clear something else was afoot.

After I relayed to my mom the details of our little baking project this week, and my mom launches into this:

“Well, that’s very interesting that you baked molasses cookies. All week I’ve been thinking about them, and a few nights ago I even had a dream about them. I was at the farmhouse (in upstate NY where my mom grew up) and had baked a batch for (my) Grandmother and (my) Aunt Roseann. They were really good and I (my mom) was remembering how Aunt Marie (my grandmother’s sister) made the best ones, chewy and soft but not under-cooked. As we were eating them we all said, “Aunt Marie would be proud.”

I don’t pretend to know what it means. All I know is that it is very comforting to feel connected to the women in my family by means of a baked good, and to share such a simple pleasure with my own granddaughter.

I”m glad I listened to the voice of intuition. Without it, this whole experience dissipates into molecules of potentiality. But because I did listen and followed the call, a molasses cookie will never again be just a cookie.

It is a bridge, a connection to people unseen and yet heard. It’s love.

Jeanne Fiorini TarotWorks http://www.tarotworks.com

Jeanne Fiorini now has reason to enjoy baked goods even more.

When not baking, she’s doing Tarot http://www.tarotworks.com or being neat http://shesneat.com

Yard Sale Documentation Project 8-20-12

Monday: Five Days Out
OK, the executive decision has been made to have a sale this coming Saturday. Since Kate starts a new teaching job in two weeks and doesn’t have the mental or physical energy to clear out the corners of her house, I’ll be the lone ranger on this one. The advanced weather report looks good, and while I’d much rather have a few partners in crime, I’m focused and ready to go.

With no clients on the books today and an open schedule, what started as a bit of house-puttering exploded into a   full-blown tear through the basement.

Items which I’d clung to retain a year ago are now easily jettisoned. I’d worried that without Kate’s cast-offs to add to the pile, mine might look like a runner-up for the “Worst Excuse for a Yard Sale” award; I needn’t have fretted.

My only problem at the moment is the sinus headache that’s been triggered by whatever has been growing in the basement during this hot and rainy summer.

The house is oozing unwanted items. Like when the aesthetician pulls the cleansing masque away from your face and you see what kind of gunk has been hiding in your pores … “Where did that come from? How long has that been there? Oh good lord I’m disgusting.”

This is what’s going on in the 1140 sq.ft. of my house.

Yard Sale Documentation Project 8-4-12

PEACHES, POTTERY, AND SPIEDIES

Have you ever even heard of a spiedie? Definition: a foodie’s delight indigenous to the southern tier of upstate New York, a tasty marinated meat sandwich that is in and of itself sufficient motivation to prompt the 7-hour ride to its locale.

My mom still lives in this area of New York state, this place where I grew up, so instead of yard saleing this weekend I hitched a ride with my brother’s family and we trucked our way to Endicott, NY.

Aside from the spiedies, this blue-collar town in upstate New York is home to Endicott-Johnson shoes, now-retired IBM-ers who helped send the first men to the moon, a pizza pie rivaling that found in metropolitan New York, and a series of authentic German carousels scattered throughout the county courtesy of Mr. Johnson.

I have a much greater appreciation for Endicott now that I don’t live there.

Despite the fact that I was far from my home turf, my yard sale itch did manage to get scratched this weekend. My mom likes a good treasure hunt as much as I do (maybe it’s genetic?), and so a visit to one of her favorite haunts was on our Saturday’s to-do list. “Charlie Brown’s” is one of these places:

You know the joint—rows of booths, tons of stuff, lots of junk, a few gems amidst the rubble. A yard sale on acid. And just like a yard sale, if you have a little luck and a lot of patience you’re sure to come home with something you couldn’t live without.

Such as pottery! This lovely piece of Haeger was had for $17, not yard sale pricing but still reasonable for art pottery in perfect condition with such an interesting glaze.

The effort spent on such a discriminating search works up an appetite. Thank goodness Lupo’s Char-Pit is right around the corner. A happy accident? I think not.

This place looks exactly like it did when I was in high school … 40 years ago… exactly. No money has been spent on frivolous remodeling here.

And why bother. This is one of those places where people would spend their last $5 to have their last meal. This is a place where, on the weekend after Thanksgiving, I’ve seen cars from several different states in the parking lot, expatriates having one last spiedie on their way out of town.

Does a place like this have a Facebook page I wonder?

During the 40 hours of being in Endicott I went to Lupo’s twice. Good as ever.
How many things in life are this consistently satisfying?

Another taste treat of the weekend were the Pennsylvania peaches. Mom and I drove about 15 minutes out of town to another of her sources, “The Country Wagon.” These peaches are honey fresh right off the tree, fruit the size of soft balls. Peach perfection. We don’t get peaches like this in Maine; I came home with a peck; I may or may not share.

Summer is an opportunity for a peek into my mom’s intimate relationship with the natural world that surrounds her house. In some ways, she can’t help it because she lives in a 1940’s cottage on the edge of the woods. Here’s the view out her back door, what we call “the crick,” sometimes a roaring mass of chocolate milk but at the moment a mere trickle down the shale bed.

Here’s the bunny who appears to eat all his meals in her yard; Mom says he likes the clover. Not bothered by the sound of her car coming and going, he apparently didn’t like the visitors this weekend, hopping into the woods at the first sign of anyone else coming up the driveway.

Mom came eye-to-eye with a toad the other day as she was working in the garden, his eyes bugging out of his head, looking right at her. It was 30 seconds later that she realized he was half-swallowed by a snake and perhaps was pleading for her help. She went inside until that process was finished.

And then there’s Derek. Derek Jeter. He’s a robin who comes by two or three times a day singing his lilting song which for all the world sounds like “”Der-rik-jeee-ter, Der-rik-jeee-ter.”

Mom looks out the window and sees a robin in the grass, “Oh, there’s Derek.”

“How do you know it’s him?” I ask.

“I just know.”

I believe her.

The Disney bluebirds with their silken ribbons and bows are expected to make their appearance at any moment.

So while we’ll be resuming the usual saleing routine next Saturday, this first weekend in August was true to the Lughnasadh theme of abundance, fertility, harvest, and the peaking cycles of nature.

Bunnies, peaches, homemade pie, the charcoal grill, pottery, mom, robins, family, comfort, satisfaction.

Yard Sale Documentation Project 7-7-12

 No, we didn’t buy a sad orphan at a yard sale this weekend.

As it turned out, this was Vera’s maiden voyage into yard sale world.  She usually stays home on Saturday mornings with her Dad while Mom and I are out being crazy; but with Dad away on a hiking trip, the little darlin’ was left to tag along with the big girls as they drove around town in random directions searching for large piles of stuff that belongs to other people.

Here she is getting strapped in for the day’s trek. Sweet ride she’s got there, huh? Kate would disown me if I got those cowprint seat covers for my new Versa, but I am sorely tempted.

We probably should have expected an ebb after last weekend’s rushing flow of fine quality items. Also to contend with was how the mid-week July 4th holiday messed with everyone’s minds causing us to wonder, on any give day recently, which one of the days of the week it actually was.

Whatever the reason, today was a relatively slow sale day.

My only interesting purchase for the day is the Aborn California Pottery planter seen in the photo below. Although — as has been documented–  I have a lot of pottery, this roughly textured style is unusual for my collection and so I was happy to find it.

The most interesting parts of this day involved watching Vera interact with the strangers and what was happening in their driveways and garages. Once she got used to the scene, she was unabashed about tottering around people’s yards, handling the merchandise, giving other children the Vulcan death stare (which is her modus operandi  when it comes to meeting other small humans for the first time), and throwing an occasional small fit when it was time to get back into the car … she is almost 2 after all, she’s entitled.

We saw numerous basketball hoops (with which she is enthralled and can spot from 100 yards away), the larger-than-life Red’s Dairy Freeze “eye-kee-koh” (fortunately at 10:30am CLOSED), and we even met a friendly dog named Tom Brady. (Maybe this guy has playmates who can catch balls.)

The best part of my day happened when, at one stop where Kate and Vera had already reached the car and were buckled in — I was still poking around in the stranger’s pile — Vera apparently, with a panicked look on her face, pointed out the window exclaiming, ” Gee-Gee-Gee!”

In case you don’t speak 2-year-old, that’s Vera-speak for “Grammie Jeanne,” which is a far cry from what she has called me up to this point: “Dah.”

So, as if often the case, today’s adventure was about the experiences rather than the purchases. But for the record, here they are:

Aborn California Pottery planter (sold on Ebay these days for around $20) : $1

Two sets of Christmas lights, 100 per string: $1

Lined wicker basket: 50 cents

New smoke alarm: $1

Total expenditure for the day: $3.50

Oh yes, and one cup of lemonade from those 7-year-old hypnotists.

Father’s Day and The Emperor

Those of us who live in the US will be celebrating Father’s Day this coming Sunday. Since I gave Mother’s Day a shout-out via The Empress, it’s only right that I do the same for Father’s Day and it’s flag bearer, The Emperor.

Card image from the Rider-Waite Tarot (C) US Games Systems Inc.

Immediately some of you just went, “Ugh.” Don’t bother denying it, I heard you.

In some ways, it’s easy to dislike The Emperor.  We can readily associate him with lots of despicable things: abuses of power, “Big Brother,” corporate greed, the outworn patriarchy, the mean Dad who won’t let you go to the prom with 21-year-old Bobbie who’s just dreamy, that boss who is a real prick.

The Emperor can be a real party pooper.

But, and here’s where I’m about to piss off some people, I’ve seen more than my share of Tarot decks that totally disregard the positive aspects of this character, relegating him (and his cohorts in the Tarot deck) to a position of “should be in jail” rather than holding his own within the essential archetypes, which is where he belongs.

In an effort to give voice to “the feminine,” one unbalanced system was replaced by a different but equally unbalanced system. This does none of us any good.

We can’t throw the baby out with the bath water on this one.  The “Archetype of the Father” is not something you can take a personal stand against and say, “No thanks.” If there is a cultural crisis in America it’s, in part, related to the lack of positive Father Archetypes available to us, to both children and parents, to both men and women.

We can’t internalize something which isn’t modeled for us, and when we throw out that bath water a lot of personal power goes along with it. Since this is a blog and not a larger format, I won’t go on and on to belabor the point; you get my drift.

And so in honor of Father’s Day, I’m putting out the challenge to embrace, model, and/or identify a positive aspect of The Emperor:

*Step into a leadership role
*Take command of a situation
*Be the person who makes a change for the better
*Stand up for something that’s important to you
*Build a structure around some chaos in your life
*Create a plan to fulfill a goal
*Be the captain of your own ship, the king of your castle.

Come on, I know you want to.

And if you really want to go big:

*Build something (a shelving unit, a house for the dog, volunteer for Habitat for Humanity, it doesn’t matter)
*Start your own small business
*Create a nonprofit, a charity organization, a “Walk for Diabetes” fundraiser
*Become a real Big Brother
*Be a good partner and/or parent

It’s not a crime to own your personal power, but it is a crime to waste it.

And finally: if you have/had a father who actually stepped into the positive energy of The Emperor archetype, be very grateful. You are among the few that are so blessed.

Yard Sale Documentation Project: 4-21-12

Today is not going to set any records in the annals of yard sale history. Although the predicted-rain held off until much later in the day, this was a day where we all might have been better off sleeping in.

Today we had some guest salers with us, one of my daughter’s friends from high school and her sister. Kathy was searching for baby items for her June arrival, and her sister was looking to decorate her new office. Sadly, the only one who got anything today was Vera, and she didn’t even bother to make the trip. (She’s only 18 months old so I’ll cut her some slack.)

The photo at the top of this article is the sight that sends a yard saler’s heart into a twitter: THE PILE; the mound of possessions on someone’s property just waiting to be plucked. Such potential … which on this day was unrealized.

You’ll be seeing many photos of yard sale signage over the course of this season’s blog. Having a good sign for your sale is like having a smile on your face when you’re on a first date.

I wish I had taken a picture of the meager attempt to draw customers into one of the better-off neighborhoods, a pathetic 8” x 10” brown cardboard sign with black lettering on a 1’ stake on the opposite side of the road from where we needed to turn. COME ON people, give us something to work with here!

And then there’s this:

No address to locate, no arrow to point the way, no Pile in sight. No help at all.

Today’s doldrums did, however, spurn the clarification of the categories for which we will be casting votes during the current season. Here they are:

  • Best Dang Yard Sale of the Season
  • Best Over-All Day of the Season (Last year this was the day Kate’s college friend Whitney from Connecticut was with us…hope she doesn’t expect a repeat performance as a matter of course. Seriously — we needed two cars to cart home all the stuff we’d bought that day.)
  • Worst Excuse For a Yard Sale
  • Biggest Price Delusions of the Season
  • Best Signage of the Season
  • Most Fab Sighting of the Season (Refer back to the 2011 sighting of a woman mowing her lawn at 8:30am while sporting hair rollers and a nightie.)

So while it wasn’t that great of a sale day out there this morning, it’s always good to spend a few hours with my daughter and get an early start to the day.

For the record, here’s what I picked up for Vera: some Melissa & Doug wooden puzzle boards and a new book. Total cost $1.25.

Two Houses Under One Roof

This is a picture of my house.  I love my house. I like to think of it as “The House That Tarot Built,” but that’s not really true; it’s more a case of “the house that 20 years of equity in other houses built,” but that’s not the point.

The point is, when I moved into this house almost 6 years ago, it was a statement of becoming more visible, of having a larger presence in my community, of being willing to say, “I’m here, I ‘m a Tarot reader, we all need to get used to it.”

Most of the readings that I do and the classes I teach happen here at this house. Currently there’s a “Tarot Reader’s Practice Group” convening here on Thursday evenings, a group which is often divided up into pairs to work on specific methods or layouts, or to practice an exercise that has been set forth for them to test drive.

To keep the “teacher vibe” out of the room, I often go upstairs and sit at the computer for a moment or just putter around up there , giving the students some physical and energetic space in which to practice their  skills. From that perch I can hear the hum of conversation and the buzz of their attention as they work on their assignment.

What a pleasure it is to listen as that and the occasional uproarious laughter fills the rooms. It makes me and the house feel all warm and happy, even when at the end of the evening they each get into their cars and drive off to their respective homes. This house is more than a home, it’s a classroom, a gathering place, a place for learning and sharing.

We Mainers had a very warm spell back in March, as did many folks around the country. During the middle of that month, in the early part of the mornings, I would hear a rhythmic and persistent pecking on the second-story west-facing side of the house. Looking out I could see that it was chickadees who were making the ruckus. Since the house is sided in shingles, I figured the birds were seeking out a breakfast of bugs or small insects of some sort.

My granddaughter and I would watch them flit around the window as they regularly and earnestly returned to that specific part of the house’s exterior. “The eating must be pretty good here at Jeanne’s Bug Café,” I’d say to Vera.

This activity went on for about a month, until this week when it stopped. Suddenly my morning wasn’t being punctuated by the rapping on the side wall as I’d become so accustomed to hearing. So I wrenched myself out from the bathroom window and peered back around to see what there was to see, to understand why the pecking had stopped, to learn what all the fuss had been about.

As you can see, the birds weren’t into breakfast, but had  in mind something of a much greater design.

Looks like I’m going to be a grammie again! And now there will be two families living under this one roof.

My older brother would have a fit about this, sure to tell me all about how detrimental such a thing is the to integrity of the house construction. He’s probably right, but I’ll let the chickadees have their babies and then clear up the space once they’ve left. I’m happy to share the warmth and comfort of my home and am honored that they chose the South Portland Tarot Palace as the place to introduce their little ones to this world.

Addendum: This from a reliable source: Incubation lasts 12-13 days. It usually begins the day before the female lays the last egg, so that all eggs will hatch within 24 hours of each other. I’ll keep you posted.

 

A Weekend Fit For The Empress

This past weekend was one befitting the Queen of the Tarot, The Empress.

It all starts with lots of trees.

Nine members of my family met for a gathering in the Adirondack region of upstate New York. The Adirondack Park proper encompasses about 6 million acres and is constitutionally protected to remain a “forever wild” forest preserve. The Empress is happy already.

My daughter arranged the gathering with her same-age cousin, primarily because they each had a child — and each had a daughter — born in the past year or so. (That Empress has been busy!) So we had two very little girls, two sets of parents, myself playing the role of Grammie, my brother hosting the event and Grandpa to his grand-daughter, and my mom (whom we call “Big G” for great-grandmother) rounding out the event. In case you missed it, that makes 4 generations of women, and we take advantage of every opportunity to preserve the occasion in photos. (See to the right)

OK, so you’ve got four matrilinear generations meeting in the forest of upstate NY. Since we’re from Maine we were asked to bring fish and seafood. My nephew and his family brought an upstate delicacy, “spiedies,” which have to be tasted to be believed. Big G gets bored in the winter months when she can’t be out working in her garden (which really is spectacular, see photo below) so has taken up learning how to be, essentially, a pastry chef. We ate very well.

And The Empress smiled.

All this would have been enough to satisfy any Empress: family, abundance, procreation, nature, and good wholesome food. But the icing on the cake was our visit to the nearby Alpaca farm, which I’m pretty sure I enjoyed more than did the kids.

Did you ever meet an Alpaca face-to-face? They have the most beautiful face, the most incredible eyes, and unbelievable eyelashes. No kidding, they’ve got to be 4″ long. At this time of year, these gorgeous animals are still in their winter coats, and will be until May or June. Even in March, though, you can put your finger straight down into their fur and go down about 2 knuckles-length before you hit flesh and bone.  Not to mention the fact that you’ll never feel anything softer than what they wear around in that barn.

So, in addition to all the Empress-blessings we planned to experience, the unexpected trip into the animal world brought us fully into the wonder and beauty of nature that is the hallmark and the joy of The Empress.

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