I got interviewed!

When I started to train for open water swimming again a couple of years ago, I decided it would be in my best interest to become a US Masters Swimming (USMS) member. This was mostly because a lot of open water events are only open to USMS members (for liability/insurance reasons), but there are a lot of perks that come with the membership that I like, especially the forums where I can ask other swimmers questions, training programs, and their magazine “Swimmer”.

Well, a few months ago, Swimmer Magazine had an excellent series of articles about diversity in swimming which mostly focused on race, but did mention other diversity issues, except body diversity.

So, I wrote a letter to the editor, Laura Hamel, and told her as much. I basically said that while I thought their articles on diversity were really awesome, they forgot to talk about size diversity. I mentioned how hard it is to get good training swimsuits. The major swim companies don’t carry suits past size 24 (maybe) and the places where you can get suits in my size have maybe one style of suit that is suitable for swimming laps. (Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for cute swimsuits, but I’m not lounging by the pool when I go swimming, you know?) I also mentioned that I was nervous about going to a Masters training session because I wasn’t sure how I’d be received, or if they would take me seriously, or if they’d just assume I was there to lose weight.

The editor and I had a nice exchange of emails, and they published an edited version of my letter in the next issue. She was really awesome, and said that she hoped that any Masters event I went to that they would take me seriously and welcome me. (To be honest, I still haven’t gone to one yet.)

But color me surprised when a few months later I get an email from Laura about wanting to interview me! The journalist, Elaine, and I had a great discussion when she interviewed me on the phone, and a later I got pictures done with a very nice and body positive photographer named Mike Calabro in Lake Michigan (literally in!).

The online version came out a couple of weeks ago, but I finally got my initial hard copy a couple of days ago. I created a PDF of the article, which is below! The article belongs to Swimmer Magazine and US Masters Swimming, so, if you are going to share it anywhere online, please make sure to give the appropriate citations.

I’m still going “Holy cow! Someone thought I was interesting enough to interview!” but this is awesome!

swimmerarticle

Updates: Moving, Lenten Working, and PaganBloggers.com

With Pantheacon now over, the move is becoming much more real. If I didn’t get to see you at Pcon, I apologize, as my back was being super cranky, which made staying in the suite most of the time less stressful. It was, however, an awesome time, as usual, and I’m really glad to have been able to talk with all sorts of folks, use my possessory skills, and even do an initiation!

After resting for a couple of days, we had cleaners come and give a good clean to our kitchen and bathrooms so that the landlord can give tours. We gave notice this weekend, and there will be open houses both days this coming weekend. I do need to do some tidying and some extra packing this week, but the house is clean enough. The gardeners come tomorrow, which will sort out the yard.

Right before Pantheacon, Patheos changed their contract and people found out (or had confirmed) that the company that now runs the site supports right-wing (read: anti-pagan, anti-queer, etc) groups. While I’ve had my own reasons over the years to be disgusted with Patheos, it seems that my spidey sense has been justified.

In response, right before Pcon, my friend Jamie decided to start a pagan blogger’s website: PaganBloggers.com. I’m proud to say that I’ve been accepted as a blogger on the site, and I plan to write about radical inclusion, body positivity, and multi-faith practice. The site has an Indigogo campaign, and while it’s met the initial goal, any additional support will be most welcome! The site plans on opening March 21.

I’ve been trying to figure out what to do for a Lenten working this year. Last year’s working was rather epic, and while I’d love to do something similar again at some point, with the move I just can’t. The other problem is that pretty much all of my altar stuff is packed already. The one thing that came up the other day, though, was to write a poem a day during Lent, and since that’s pretty much sticking in my brain, I’ve decided to do it. Some will probably be posted here, but not all. The best thing is that this is portable, only requires a notebook and pen, and is low-stress. I’m kind of thinking of going to an Ash Wednesday service, I just don’t know where yet.

The wife and I are also thinking about new rituals, since we’ll be spinning up a new coven in Chicago once we’re settled. We have some really great ideas, and it’s given me a project to work on in addition to my Lenten working. Projects are good. Projects occupy the brain.

Still don’t have a place in Chicago yet, but we’ve decided to rent instead of buy for now. Wish us luck!

If you want to visit with me and/or Sarah before we leave, you need to contact me ASAP so we can make arrangements. Otherwise, we’ll have to start doing Google Hangouts!

Moving and Moving Forward

Most of you know by now that the wife and I are moving to the Chicago area in March. There’s a lot of feelings around this move for me: excitement, fear, stress, wonder, and grief. It’ll be sad to leave the Bay Area as we’ve both lived here for over 10 years, built a witchcraft tradition, and made many many wonderful friends. That is definitely the hardest part about this move.

But we’ve also both realized that it’s time for change. We’ve both been a bit stuck creatively, and this will give us a chance to start some things over and try new things: creatively, spiritually, and overall. We’ll be meeting new people, trying new things, and dealing with seasons again. We’ll be closer to the east coast, which will allow us to reconnect with my family and friends from that side of the continent.

It will be different, and we’re both pretty ok with that.

For me, I’ll be figuring out new directions for my ministry and my creative endeavors. The biggest realization I’ve had over the last 6 months is that it’s time to let go of This Week In Heresy. I had originally stopped because I was burnt out. I felt like I was having a lot of the same conversations, just with different people. Finding new interviews had become a chore, not fun or interesting. But as the “hiatus” lengthened into November and December, I realized that TWIH wasn’t going to come back. I have some ideas for other media ventures, and maybe some new podcast-like things, but TWIH is not one of them. The website will stay up as an archive of the interviews I’ve done as they are still a great resource and are still awesome. I don’t regret doing the podcast at all, and it was really cool while I was still into it, but if I’m honest with myself, it’s time to move on to something new.

I’ll still be writing on this blog (and my Dreamwidth blog) and since I’m not doing the podcast anymore, you’ll probably see me write here more. I’m also working on another writing project that I’m not sure when it will be done, but it’s interesting and I like it a lot. I’m also really busy coordinating all the moving stuff on the California side, while the wife is sorting out stuff on the Chicago side.

It’s funny how you know it’s time to move on to something new, and while it will be sad to leave here, I know (and the wife knows) that it’s time.

Happy New Year! (Aaaaaand…we’re back!)

So, we had some technical difficulties with my personal site over the last couple of months, but now I’m finally back! Expect a lot of blogging from me in the next few weeks as a way of dealing with the stress of de-crapifying our house and moving to Chicago!

Yup. For those of you who don’t know yet (which, I’m sure are few), the wife and I are moving to Chicago at the end of February (the weekend after Pantheacon to be precise). It’s scary, exciting, and stressful all at once, which every house move is, really. But I do see a lot of new opportunity for both of us. I’ll talk more about my feelings on it later, especially as it relates to ministry.

But for now, Happy New Year! I hope that 2017 will not be as bad as we all think it will be, or if it is, I hope that we all come together to fight for justice, peace, hope, and freedom.

Many blessings for 2017 from my family to yours!

Make a plan and VOTE on Nov. 8

Friends,

We’re in the last few days of this election. At this point, most folks will know who I’ve voted for and who I support.

But that doesn’t really matter. What matters is that you make a plan and make sure you vote on or by November 8. If you haven’t turned in your vote-by-mail ballot, make sure you do so, or make a plan to drop it off at a polling place on election day. If you’re voting in person, make a plan as to how you’ll get to the polls on Tuesday. If your state still has early voting this weekend, go for it and bring your friends.

If you’re in Santa Clara county, polls open at 7 am and close at 8 pm. If you’re in line before 8 pm, you’ll still be able to vote.

Know your rights at the polls! If you are harassed, or if someone is looming over you or trying to look over your shoulder, let the election officials know! If you’re an election officer, don’t let anyone try to intimidate your voters!

Overall, let’s take a deep breath and get this over with so we can move forward.

Samhain Meditation 2: The Descent by Mage of Machines

The Descent by Mage of Machines is an approximately one hour meditation journey to the Underworld and the Isle of Apples under the protection of Inanna to commune with the Beloved Dead. The music was written, composed, and performed by Sarah Thompson, also known as Mage of Machines. You’ll recognize a little bit of this album as the show intro and exit music for This Week In Heresy.

Some of you, if you had attended Pantheacon in 2013, will also recognize this music. The Circle of Cerridwen, with friends, performed The Descent in a live dramatization and dance with an early edition of the music. The final edition of the album was released on Samhain 2013.

Sarah Thompson is your Guide. Inanna is voiced by Calyxa Omphalos, and Rev. Gina is the voice of Ereshkigal. The script was written by Rev. Gina and Sarah Thompson.

This is offered as a Samhain blessing for you, as a gift to the community, and to honor the Beloved Dead.

The album version of The Descent is available via iTunes. If you are looking to purchase it through other platforms, click here.

Click here to to listen (player will open in new window).

Baked Stuffed Pumpkin with Mushrooms, Spinach, and Cheese (A Mabon Recipe)

I made this for my coven the other night for our Mabon dinner and it was an instant hit! This is vegetarian and gluten free! Yes, you can make this with regular bread if you wish, although, we all liked the texture of the gluten free bread in it (it doesn’t get as mushy). This is pretty adaptable, and according to my original sources, you could also use cooked rice instead of bread. I may also make a non-veg version of this by adding some cooked bacon. (Mmmmm….bacon!)

I was inspired to try doing a stuffed pumpkin by this blog post and video by Jas. Townsend and Son, Inc, who have a YouTube show about 18th Century Cooking.

What you need:

1 pumpkin, about 3 lbs (or an acorn squash, or kobocha)
About 2-3 cups of gluten free bread cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 8 oz package of a shredded cheese blend of your choice (you can always add extra)
1 8 oz package of sliced mushrooms
1 5-8 oz package of baby spinach
2 shallots, finely diced
2 heaping spoonfuls of minced garlic (or about 4-6 large fresh cloves diced fine)
salt and pepper to taste
heavy cream
1-2 tablespoons of butter

What to do:

  1. Cut the top off your pumpkin and scoop out all the seeds. (You can either discard the seeds or roast them.)
  2. Melt the butter in a frying pan. Put in the shallots and cook until just translucent.
  3. Add the garlic and mushrooms. Cook until the mushrooms are golden brown.
  4. Add the baby spinach and cover the pan to let it wilt.
  5. While the spinach is wilting, add your bread cubes, cheese, salt, and pepper in a large bowl and toss together.
  6. Once the spinach is wilted, stir the spinach, mushrooms, shallots and garlic together until they’re well mixed, then add it to the large bowl with the bread cubes. (Some of the cheese will melt, but don’t worry, it’s ok!)
  7. Combine all the ingredients in the bowl until well mixed, and then pack as much as you can into the pumpkin, squishing it down into the pumpkin if you have to, until you can just fit the top of the pumpkin on without it sticking up too much. (The top should still fit as if you were making a jack-o-lantern.)
  8. Slowly (!!) add the heavy cream. You’ll want to do this in 2 or 3 stages. Add some, then let that soak in a bit. Then add a bit more, let it soak in, and then add a little bit more. You want to be able to see the cream come a bit to the top, but not so much that it’s drowning (with all the bread and stuff packed in, you won’t be able to add too much anyway).
  9. Put the top back on.

Cooking method 1 (which is how I cooked it for our dinner):

Wrap the pumpkin well in heavy duty aluminum foil so that it won’t leak. Get your grill set up and start your coals (you could probably even use a regular campfire for this method!). We used mesquite coals, but I’m pretty sure you could use regular charcoal for this, too. The goal is to have a very hot set of coals to nestle the pumpkin in to. When your coals are ready, make kind of a well in the middle, and carefully set the pumpkin on them. Bring up the coals around the pumpkin (kind of like using a dutch oven), and cook for about an hour and 15 min (or longer, depending on how hot your coals are). You can tell it’s ready if you can poke the pumpkin from the outside and it feels like it’ll squish if you poked it too hard. Carefully remove from the coals into a heat proof dish, unwrap, and be ready for awesomeness!

Cooking method 2 (for the less pyro among us):

Put the lid on the pumpkin and bake at 350 degrees F for approximately 1 – 1.5 hours. Basically, when you can stick a knife in the pumpkin without resistance, it’s done. To make it fancy, you could take the tops off, add more of the shredded cheese, and put it back into the oven until it’s all good and bubbly.

Blessed Mabon everyone!

So, this happened…

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The final design and tattooing is being done by the super duper awesome Morpheus Ravenna of Banshee Arts Studios. (Pictures by Calyxa Omphalos)

In two weeks we’ll be doing all the fill, but OMG! Look how awesome!! (And Crow was being pretty funny while the tattooing was going on!)

Squee!! 🙂