Dance back from the grave (Page of Swords)

Back in the day, Don and I heard Marc Cohn perform at the little movie theatre in Williamsburg where there wasn’t a bad seat in the house. While I had favorites that he sang that night (Walkin’ in Memphis and True Companion chief among them), what stuck in my head was a righteous song about New Orleans titled Dance Back from the Grave.  We hadn’t yet been to New Orleans at that point, but listening to it in the here-and-now, recalled our journey there several years ago

Anyway, the song played in my head as I worked on the Death card yesterday, after which I was more than happy to draw the Page of Swords …

  • 78 Degrees: a much lighter card with a very different approach to problems … rather than change them, he finds it sufficient to simply get above them, to find the high ground
  • Kitchen Table Tarot: he is chatty and curious, he has tons of energy, and his ideas are flying around
  • The Creative Tarot: this card represents honesty and clarity, but also, on occasion, trouble

So, what better representative for the Page could there be than the grackle? A denizen well-known to the city of Austin

Here he’s landed on a newly completed abstract that Don whipped out the other day …

along with a bit of bookcover underpinning …

I hope you dance …

Death

Those of you who are familiar with Tarot knew I was going to have to confront Death one of these days …

And in another life, I would have tra-la-la’ed my way through it, whistling past the graveyard on the way to get an ice cream cone at Neville’s. But that’s another story.

This is now … and COVID-19 is real … and in spite of the Kitchen Table Tarot saying “Death doesn’t really mean death, it means change” … people are, in fact, going to die. However, there is light on the other side of this post. I promise.

  • 78 Degrees: Death strikes everyone, kings and commoners alike … it joins us to nature … each death brings new life
  • Kitchen Table Tarot: Death means change … change is happening and nothing is going to stop it … like it or not, change cannot be ignored and sometimes includes great tragedy
  • The Creative Tarot: it is the end of something …transition into a new stage of life … Death allows us to bid farewell to the way we were

When we lived in the Hill Country, the buzzards would ride the thermals over the house, their shadows winging across the grass as I looked out my stitching window. Three times deer died on the property and each time the buzzards would dispatch the remains. The following year, the grasses and wildflowers would grow thicker and greener, marking each grave …

Today I played outside. After cutting up an Eric Carle bedsheet and pillowcase that once cradled my sixteen-year-old granddaughter, I took the pieces outside with some sidewalk chalk, a paintbrush, a bottle of laundry starch, and a wild imagination.

There are two videos at the end of this post, but I’ve included some still shots, too. With thanks to Marti for the prayer flag inspiration …

So let’s see if the videos fly …

Be well …

The Knight of Pentacles + Addendum

This Texas Tarot journey has taken an interesting turn, triggering memories of latter days. This time, it was the Knight of Pentacles that drew me in, coming in the guise of a grey fox that dared to come close to our Hill Country house last fall. Driven, no doubt, by thirst … drawn by the promise of water …

grey fox

And therein lies a story.

When we were kids, our summer vacations on Shelter Island bore a striking resemblance to the current shelter-in-place orders. The cottage we stayed in each August was tiny, with no heat save a wood-burning potbelly stove, no air conditioning, no indoor shower, and no television …

My mom, who was left alone with us for the first of four weeks while my dad high-tailed it back to work, had to get us through the TV-deprivation stage. Cards and board games, puzzles and coloring books ruled. Granted we spent long days at the beach, but like perfectly normal kids, we argued in direct proportion to how tired and sunburned we were.

So Mom kept an ace up her sleeve. After the dinner dishes were washed and left to air dry, we would go to Neville’s, a six-stool lunch counter that presaged modern day 7-11 stores, but better known to us as a comic book purveyor and ice cream cone mecca. As I recall, my brother and I would each settle on a flavor for the summer … mint chocolate chip, butter pecan, pistachio, fudge ripple … each year different. One scoop in a waffle cone, 25 cents.

Then Mom would take us out to one of the beaches to watch the sun set, until mosquitoes and no-see-ums forced us back into the car …

Sunset beach

And driving home, we would shout out if we spotted a deer coming out to graze in the dusk … or better yet, on very very rare occasions, a fox.

  • 78 Degrees: The Knight of Pentacles is deeply rooted to the outer world and simplicity
  • Kitchen Table Tarot: he’s a bit shy and feels best when at home … he’s smart, thoughtful, and grounded … eyes straight ahead
  • The Creative Tarot: the goal is to have the strength to endure a long battle … make sure that you’re going to be able to stick it out

The foxes of my youth were red, but their Texas kin are grey, the better to blend in with the limestone I suppose. So, I looked through the bookcover box for rusty reds and found circles leading me there and back again …

And cloth in sunset hues, always the very definition of home for me …

Addendum

So what could be more home-y than bread? My grandmother was a storied bread baker, memorialized in this post from the early days of the blog.

Fast forward to yesterday, when there was no bread in my first-ever grocery delivery. No matter … a recipe for English muffin bread had shown up earlier in the day, which I modified, of course.

It looked great …

and tasted even better toasted in my nifty see-thru Dash toaster …

Best of all, it took a mere two hours start to finish.

You want the recipe? Sure thing!

English Muffin Bread (one loaf)

  • Grease a loaf pan with butter or baking spray. Coat with cornmeal or semolina if you have any on hand.
  • Mix 1 Tbs yeast and 1 Tbs sugar in 1/2 cup lukewarm water (just barely warm on your wrist). Let it work for about ten minutes while you tend to the next two steps
  • Combine 1 cup flour (bread flour if you have it, or all purpose), 1/8 tsp baking powder and 1 tsp kosher salt in a food processor or stand mixer.
  • Warm 1 cup of milk to 115 degrees (1 minute in a microwave on high should do it), then stir in 1 Tbs butter cut into slivers (which will cool the milk down if you overshot 115 degrees)
  • Pour the milk and yeast mixtures into the flour and mix everything together. Add 1 cup flour and mix some more. Finish by mixing in another 1/4 cup or so of flour to make a very soft, sticky batter.
  • Pour into the greased loaf pan and set in a warm spot to rise for 45 minutes (I tend to stash rising bread in the oven with the door cracked, so the light warms the space). However, don’t make the mistake I made of putting a damp towel over the batter … mine stuck to the towel as it rose, making a real mess.
  • Preheat the oven to 425 (being sure to take your rising dough out first if that’s where it’s been for the last 45 minutes). Bake 20-25 minutes … or a little longer if you want a super crusty loaf.
  • Turn it out of the pan onto a wire rack. Don’t be too alarmed if it collapses a bit, but do be sure to let it cool completely before trying to slice it with a serrated knife. Of course, if a bit of the crust happens to get stuck on the pan, you can try it out to be sure it tastes okay (or break a piece off the edge of the loaf … because who would notice, right?)