A Wicked Witch Discovers Gratitude

This is a story appropriate to Thanksgiving that I wrote for Feminism and Religion. If you didn’t read it there, I hope you’ll read it here.

Once upon a time there lived a youngish woman and her husband on a tiny farm outside the capital city. Their life was satisfactory. But when el presidente declared war on another country, the husband was press-ganged into the army, leaving his wife alone on the farm. Well, alone with a milk cow, a sow, a rooster, a dozen hens, and, on one side of the house, seven tiny graves holding stillborn babies. The woman was devastated. “What am I going to do?” she asked herself over and over again. “The land here is poor and infertile. I’m poor and infertile.” She was so unhappy, all she could do was mope around. The animals went untended and soon began foraging for food. The seven tiny graves went unweeded. Their one good field went unplowed. The woman stopped taking care of herself.

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Blogorrhea–it’s fun to make up new words

This is a slightly rewritten version of a blog I wrote five years ago. I think it’s still (or more) germane today.

BLOGORRHEA. I just made this word up. (I haven’t seen it anywhere else.) It’s related of course to “logorrhea,” an “excessive flowing of words,” which is related to “diarrhea,” which comes from dia, “through,” and rhein, “flow” via Middle English, Latin, and Greek. I receive a lot of blogorrhea via email. I’m sure you do, too.

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“Adverbs are radioactive.”

That’s what my son says. He should know. Most of his babysitters were Ph.D. candidates in English, and now he teaches English at a community college in Orange County. One of the classes he teaches is English 99, which is pre-Freshman Comp (English 101). Nearly all of his students are still learning English, but they don’t know quite enough to cope with English 101.

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Fussbudget Editor

I’m a major fussbudget when I’m editing.

As I edit, I am fairly conservative about our language. I believe that we should respect its history and construction. That is, if there’s already a word that works, it may not be necessary to make up a new one (unless we do it for a specific purpose). Some years ago, for example, I campaigned on a listserv against the word “gaialog.” Using this stupid word instead of “dialog” to indicate women talking made me crazy.

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I’ve read Shakespeare. All of Shakespeare. (And, yes, I can sing along with Cole Porter’s “Brush Up Your Shakespeare.”) My M.A. and Ph.D. major was English Renaissance literature with an emphasis on the drama. That means Shakespeare and that bunch—his friends and rivals. I’ve also read a lot of Elizabethan and Jacobean history and Shakespeare criticism. Shakespeare wrote his plays to be performed by living actors, and that’s why I prefer productions with actors on stage, either live in front of me or on DVD. I have, in fact, a whole shelf of DVDs of Shakespeare’s plays, plus the big box of all 37 plays as produced by the BBC in the early 1980s. I once spent a month watching them all and wrote a blog about it.

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Finding New Goddesses

Finding New Goddesses by Barbara ArdingerYou have no doubt noticed that spiritual and religious writing is almost without exception Highly Serious. But look at the standard-brand monotheistic holy books, mainstream metaphysics, Eastern wisdom, channeled “wisdom,” books on philosophy and meditation—hardly a smile in any of it, never a giggle. “This is Deep Thought,” the earnest and learned ones seem to be telling us. “Our Religion Is Nothing To Laugh At.”

Why not? What on earth (or in the various heavens and hells) is so holy that we can’t make fun of it?

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Stepping Into The 21st Century…

“Mother, it’s time for you to join the 21st century.” This is what my son has been saying for twelve or thirteen years. He said it again a day or two ago. I’ve heard him every time. Gee whizzly—I know it’s a new century. Didn’t I work on a Y2K project?

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The Witches That Fill My Home

I’m not sure when I started collecting witches. I remember going to a public ritual in 1988 or ’89 and seeing someone with a beautiful witch. “Where’d you buy her?” I asked. I went to the same store the very next day. Now I have (I think) 350 witches (not including me and not including the witch doll who rides in the back seat of my car with her own seatbelt). For a long time I thought I had about 200, but when I was interviewed a few years ago, I did a witch census.

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Musical Theater

Just about my favorite thing in the world is musical theater. I go to the theater as often as I can. There’s a lot of live theater in the L.A. Basin, from the Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum (where I’ve seen Shakespeare and Moliere), the Hollywood Bowl and the Pantages to little experimental theaters that do experimental productions to university theater to civic light opera and touring companies

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You know the cliché that working with pagans is like herding cats? Don’t you believe it. Cats are smart. They learn things fast. Herding them merely requires patience and rewards (usually food). Well…yes, this is true of pagans, too. Lots of patience. And the free food.

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