Merc Retro : February 2013

Writing about Mercury retrograde on an astrological blog has been done. Many, many times. There is no justification for adding to the knowledge pool, but here I am today, adding.

Mercury in Pisces is heading into its retrograde action on the 23rd of February until the 17th of March. (check out for an easy peasy explanation of retrograde.) Personally I’m not good at the whole dreamy thinking stuff that comes with this transit, much less throwing a retrograde motion in there too.

We always seem to live out the dance of the stressful Mercury Retro. Our car broke and we lost the Internet all week. And my friend’s car broke, and my workmate’s car broke. I missed texts from folks I had been planning to catch up with. And so on – nothing new. So after the wonderful present of Pancake Tuesday being transformed into Vomit Tuesday literally when the kids got home from school, we were stuck at home until Sat night. Four days, no Internet, no driving, …….And it was bliss. We spent last week consolidating the garden, the house, our relationships, & the laundry. The kitchen is still a mess this morning when we left. The Cleaning Fairy is going to break an ankle on all the boxes left in the upstairs hall. But the bulbs are growing. I know the garden beds are ready for planting. And I knew where everyone’s school uniform was this morning.

Now is the time to tidy off the projects you are finished with. Weave in the ends on your crochet hat, and move on. Give yourself a big hug for having worked so hard. Clean up the mess, and curl up with your soul and love yourself up.

Relax, breath, the world will still be there tomorrow.

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Sunday Rugby

We don’t have a television. There is a tiny bit of deep hidden political meaning in this non-ownership. It means that we have a lot of freedom in how we view entertainment, but on the other hand, we are also limited. Sunday was a good example of that.

Using the Internet, and particularly the RTE player to watch live rugby with a bunch of under tens is frustrating. My broadband is good enough for Netflix and general browsing, but when it comes to the dreaded RTE player it cannot cope. Scrums and throw outs became nonsensical, when the image hangs and then catapults you into a completely different possession & position on the field. I still don’t know how England got those first horrid 3 points that defined the match. And don’t forget, you the viewer are expected to explain the game to these bouncy boys pummelling you with questions, while your husband helpfully yells go England while the baby spills things! When confronted, the husband explained he was only trying to add frisson to the event. Like that’s what we needed.

Unhappily the game ended with wailing children and much sofa punching with disgust, but the last half was spent by us, mainly ignoring the off on coverage and rediscovering the joys of face painting. The baby was garlanded with Irish flags and white flowers and a bit of war paint. The husband was nicely done up with an English flag and Irish flag on both cheeks, and the kids were jumping around covered in green, white and gold.

It gives us so much freedom living in West Cork, but honestly these days I can feel the limitations too. A bit like using the RTE player to get our shared social experiences.

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Swedish Meatballs, Wild Strawberries & Lists of Five

This post is a week late. Due to family life, my mind could not focus on a suitable theme, so am combining my comfort things into one happy post.

1.            Ingmar Bergman films

2.            Great Grandma’s recipe for brown sugar (Swedish) meatballs

3.            Astrid Lindgren

4.            Wallander TV series (BBC & Yellow Bird Films)

5.            Volvos

And now for something completely different…

1.            Get a jar, and put in one litre of organic milk & kefir grains.

2.            Leave for about three days, reach in and fish out all those lumpy grains.

3.            Pour the rest into a cheese muslin (j-cloth) resting in a sieve.

4.            Once most of the whey has run out, hang over a bowl and let it drip dry.

5.            Breath, you have made Kefir Cheese!

Goes great with cherry jam & rye bread, see the Swedish theme still stands – ish.

(Still struggling with the what astrological sign rules fermentation. It must be so obvious I cannot see it…Scorpio? And what about the rising sign of the country Sweden?)

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A Reflection on Funerals

 We have had a month of deaths. Special people who made the world different and  people who matter to my dear friends are gone. Mortality is on my mind.

 I’ve gone to funerals before now. I’ve felt that awful sense of helplessness when next to someone in deep grief. Their pain always brings tears to my eyes literally, and then I judge myself for crying for their tears, all the time hoping desperately that somehow my showing up has lessened the burden for them. I have not gone to the funeral, but been there for the afterwards which goes on for weeks and months and never goes away, just transforms into something to live with.

 One of these passing was celebrated as a humanist funeral. I am not going to talk about who had passed, or the horrible grief felt by those she left behind. I am going to talk about how a having a non-religious structure to a funeral helped me. There was no mention of God, no promise of Heaven, just simply that she was gone and we were sad. It was the first time I have ever heard someone actually talk about a death that simply. It was plain,  but it was all about her. There was no benevolent deity also taking centre stage. It was so good to have the ceremony be just about her, her life and those who cared about her. It was a relief to not have to translate God into Goddess or quietly talk to the departed directly under my breath because the religious dialog was going on some other tangent. I was able to listen and be fully present.

 To have the option of a ceremony which is about the human/person is a wonderful thing. The Humanist Association of Ireland have accredited officiants all over Ireland.

 Think about it.

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Mars in the Time of Wild Onions

We are in the sign of the Ram and the energy is all piss and vinegar and springtime rut. One of my sons has an Aries sun and since he was born, he leads with his head literally. Headfirst into everything and tumbles back up shouting ‘I’m OK!’ He is my youngest, but is at the front of the charge into slashing the nettles with sticks, the loudest warrior yell, and the quickest to flash into temper. Aries people are like fireworks, bright bright flashes of pure energy.

 Recently Mars (the planetary ruler of Aries) returned into direct motion though the sign of Virgo. For some of us, especially children this was a huge flare-up of internal energy. A friend of mine, we going to call her ‘D’ experienced this last week with her ten-year-old son. It had been a long day for D and her children, and while cooking the dinner, she had gotten more and more tense with the children’s behaviour. They were tired and hungry just like her, and all of them were pushing the boundaries at the same time. The oldest lost his temper when she gave out to him for knocking a glass of water all over the set table. He started to rage at her physically. He kicked and screamed and bit. She ended up on the floor with him, holding him so that he would stop hurting her/himself, just like she had done when he was two and in a tantrum.  When he had stopped flailing about, she released her hold on him and sent him to his room. D was so angry that she was shaking and this frightened her. His behaviour was totally uncharacteristic of him.

 He came down about a half hour later, and asked if it was ok for him to come into the kitchen. He was calm and pale and obviously unsure of his reception. When she looked into his little face, all her anger just drained away, and they were able to hug and talk about what had happened. Both feel older and unsure of their roles in each other lives. Later she looked at their birth charts to get some kind of intellectual handle on what had happened. She saw that Mars in Virgo turned direct two days earlier and was transiting his natal Moon.  She understood that what had frightened her was the lack of emotional control. He had been a raging tiny child in the body of a preteen. It was an emotional explosion that had been expressed physically as a toddler would.

 Things have calmed down for D and her son. They were even able to cook dinner together. Apparently they made pasta with ‘wild onion’ pesto. So to celebrate all of our Mars impulses, here is my recipe for that dinner:Image

photo from

 Place the wild onions and walnuts into a food processor. Blend until nicely crumbed. Scrape out of the processor into a bowl and grate in the cheese – again about a large handful is good – taste test. Glug in the olive oil until everything is only slightly running, more a dollopy dribble consistency. Then pepper and salt it to however you like. Add to fresh hot pasta and eat!!!!!!!!! Feel the fiery garlicky flavour and remember we all have the impulses to lash out. Remember we all have a Mars.

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Why is marriage alot like sourdough?

Why is marriage a lot like sourdough? Because it doesn’t always work. See, in making sourdough, you need time, warmth, labour, plus the basic ingredients – Isn’t that exactly what marriage needs too?


Certain family members are gluten intolerant, so we bake all our own bread. Thankfully our local whole food store – Hudson’s Wholefoods, who do great bulk deals – can supply me with 25 kilo bags of spelt and rye. We have been baking sourdough for over a month now.


Last week, I lost the magic. The loaves were dense, and just not rising enough. I was adding too much water or not having enough patience to wait. I still can’t get when to add the salt. The best way to eat the stuff was to toast it, which then created this thin bricklike slice on which to spread ones morning butter. Not very comforting for the soul.


I like my marriage when it’s like a good loaf of bread. I am happy to put the time and effort into it, but I sort of expect that there is going to be a relatively fluffy and nourishing but tasty bit of bread at the end. But on our fifteenth year together I am finally getting that marriage is a lot like sourdough. You can do everything according to the recipe, but it won’t necessarily turn out right. There is an art, a creative judgment call on tweaking that recipe totally dependent on the environment at that moment in time. Basically it isn’t always successful. But the microorganisms are still there in the starter. It is always alive and ready for another try (as long as you remember to feed it!).  These sleepless nights with darling daughter, and daytimes with cranky birth son No. 1 are driving Husband and I nuts. We are combating it with hugs, and kisses and trying to be really nice when we are not snarling, and somehow our marriage still alive. Each day brings a different kind of loaf; some days work out great, and some days are awful.


Just like us.Image

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Fermenting in the Spring Equinox

After a nice long hibernation from the world, blogging and life, I am renewed and determined to post more regularly. So…today I will be sharing my latest craze – home fermentation.

Along the sideboard in the kitchen are various pots bubbling away. One small ceramic pot covered with a green J-cloth and a jaunty silver ribbon is the sourdough starter. Another larger food grade plastic bucket topped with a muslin cloth houses the kombucha. There are others; red cabbage sauerkraut, a turnip based Kim chee, and ginger carrots.

My kids call the kombucha mushroom pee and my eldest birth son pretends that sourdough sponge is his barf. I let them play, because they eat and drink these products. Somehow their contorted faces as they yell ‘ ewwwwwwww gross’ are very happy, and are part of some far off remembered tribal dance that celebrates alive food. These foods are powerful. They smell. They ooze. They taste pungent and inescapable. My baby girls face as she sucked on a strand of purple cabbage transformed by lacto fermentation was a Shakespeare play or a Hindi drama. These foods are complex.

As I messily transferred the latest batch of caraway, carrot and cabbage, the deep violet juice overran the kilner jar. My fingertips and the table now share an indigo tint. From the waiting and stewing and fermenting a new jar of sour glory has been born.

I wish that we all burst forth on this spring transformed by the fermentation of winter. I am a happy witch.

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Budget 2012 Part One (event chart)


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The Grinding of the Teeth

I went to the dentist recently. A molar that turned into an emergency root canal right after baby no. 1, with the birth of baby no. 4,  broke in half. Four kids and only destroyed one tooth… The point being is that the dentist told me I grind my teeth.

How can I have existed for 36 years and not been aware that this is something I do? Husband insists that he has never heard me grinding away while I sleep, but then he snores way too loud and always sleeps heavier that I do. I never heard any parential annecdotes about this habit. Yet the dentist insists that my front right tooth has had 2mm shaved off of it. The upshot is that I get to sleep in a lovely plastic mouthguard that is going to set me back €150. Actually it is the romantic indications of looking like a rugby player at night that has me worried .

Seeing as Saturn is associated with the teeth I started to look at some astrological indicators for this behaviour.  I threw astrology saturn teeth grinding into Google just to see what would show up.  I found this

It is an account of a homeopathic proving test for a remedy made of the light of Saturn. ‘The remedy was made by exposing powdered milk sugar to a powerful telescope in Boston, Massachusetts while it was focused on the planet Saturn during April 2009.
The remedy was triturated to a 3C on July 25, 2009 by a group of 7 people in Buffalo, New York. ’ While the proving indicated that this remedy might be effective for accident related trauma, bone and nerve damage, and not for my grinding teeth, I went to sleep that night a happier woman. . Who knew people were collecting the distant light of celestial bodies, and creating homeopathic remedies?

It is a weird and wonderful world out there.

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Giving Thanks

Liz Green says about Capricorns ‘ But to most goats, life is a serious business, because it has to be mastered if you want to survive’ ( Astrology for Lovers). I do take life seriously, so seriously that I have struggled with depression since I was a child. So, one of the things that I have had to learn is how to trust. I could go into a long spiel about all the reasons why trust has be a difficult thing to master. But I hate that. I don’t like how people’s weakness or mistakes define them, like not knowing somehow means more than knowing. Everyone has to learn, we are not lesser for having to do so. And everyone’s life lesson plan is different. My spirit and I just were absent on all the days devoted to learning trust.

My reason for posting today is to give thanks.

I thank the universe for giving me countless reasons to trust in life being good over the last year. There are so very many things: My lovely baby daughter born on Darling Husband’s birthday, eleven days late but at home. My father slipping into a weird world of endless hotels and retreats in his Alzheimer’s mind, but maintaining a sense of himself throughout. The magnificent house we live in and get to take care of. The year of reconnecting with our beautiful lost eldest son/stepson after four years of no contact being returned at all. The joy of all our animals. Buddy the amazing escaping Lab. Flash the best fox watchdog ever. The geese, ducks, chickens, rabbits, fish, turtles and now Johnny the African land snail.

And most importantly you all my friends. All of you have encouraged, challenged, helped, loved, forgiven, fought with and befriended my family and I , this year.

I especially give thanks to the two lovely families that let me feed them Thanksgiving dinner tonight. (You know who you are!) They have given unstintingly to my family and children since we have first met them. I treasure the times we spend together, and feel so blessed that my children can know and play with their children. They are vibrant families, different but similar in their passion for their children’s wellbeing and their joy in life. To you, thank you!!!!!

Blessed Be.



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