Monday, July 7, 2014

Retiring Wandering and Wondering

This is the last post to Wandering and Wondering. Makes me sad because I love to write, it is a passion and part of my promise to myself to write at least 2 hours every day. When I find myself stuck somewhere in my book or one of the characters is thinking something through, I pop over here and wander and wonder. (yes, the characters have hijacked the book and are writing it themselves, I just type what they tell me to!)

I retired Wandering and Wondering last week and received so many emails, phone calls and kicks in the shin for doing so. Thank you, all who shared the love with me last week. It truly makes me happy  that you enjoyed reading my blog. There were 2417 posts since 2008, a couple of dozen entries that have not been posted as some are just too private, too sad and some are downright venomous. Over 21,000 visitors to the blog and that tickles me. Thank you all so much.

You have all asked me why Wandering and Wondering is being retired.

I come from a Hispanic background. Our family has never known a stranger, not just immediate family but family at large. Great-grandparents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, parents, cousins, brother and sister....we have all kept our doors open. We welcome all and make you part of the family, one of the many. We feed you, we comfort you, we will even house you if need be.

We don't do this because it is a tradition, we do it because the Hispanic heart has no choice; it cannot abide a forlorn face peering through the window with a yearning for belonging, nor can we handle watching someone's back as they walk away rejected. Unless, of course, it is the consequences of poor choices.

I am not talking about hospitality. With our family it is more a type of unspoken adoption. Every important occasion, we welcome you. From Christmas, Thanksgiving, birthdays, graduations to little gatherings to swim and play.

Open-Door-Open-Arms does not come without responsibilities. Respect for family members; Honoring the family as a whole;Holding members up not knocking them over and kicking them while they are down.

There is a phrase used in the contemporary U.S. culture, "Common Decency".  Common decency to me is the very minimum of effort one puts out towards another.  Families do not settle for common decency, that is something one exercises in the mall or on the sidewalks with strangers. Common decency is patiently standing in line at the store, opening a door for the person coming towards you or holding the door open for the person behind you.

Family deserves more than common decency. As passionate as the Hispanic-drive is to welcome all, so is the fervor for protecting family.  If you have been brought into the fold and made one of us, we expect "family" behavior, at least, I expect it.  It is unacceptable to gather up all the information you can garner, add your own perceptions to it and prattle it out over lunch. We will not tolerate attacking a person's character and intelligence.  If you have been welcomed in and think nastiness is acceptable, than you were highly mistaken. Will it be forgiven; yes. Will it be forgotten; no.

I am retiring this blog because after welcoming someone into my home for years, YEARS, it became an entitlement to them. They abused the title of "family" in an ugly, disrespectful way.  They hurt many of us but primarily one who was already wounded and trying to heal. They are  still in our lives (every chance they get) but they will never be in my home again and they will most certainly never be considered welcome in my life.


I found out recently that one of them is still reading my blog, which I could care less. But after reading one post, she actually called my daughter to ask her what I meant and who I was talking about.  I feel stalked. I feel that this blog is slowly leaking my spirit away to someone who has no clue, no honor, no respect and absolutely has not looked up the definition of "civility".

I thought she was my friend. She wasn't and isn't.  I thought she was family. She wasn't and isn't. I don't know how to convey the pain that was caused and continues to be caused by being so insensitive in her actions.

Again, this is the last post for Wandering and Wondering.  Thank all of you who have called and asked me to keep publishing it. I do appreciate your feelings. It makes me feel good that so many of you missed it. Thank those of you that understand why it feels too naked for me to keep it alive.


Thursday, July 3, 2014

Done

Done.  Done.  Done.

Incredible angry this morning. Been awake since 3:30 a.m.

"Why, Toni," you  may ask, "What has your knickers in such a bundle?"

Me! I am pissed at me!

I am doing this stupid game of life all wrong. Somehow I got it all mixed up.

I skipped the 7th grade completely and missed six weeks of 8th grade.  That must have been when the real hard core rules were explained. I missed all of them.

Honesty ~ not important

Loyalty ~ milarkey

Common Courtesy ~ ancient myth

The Golden Rule ~ piss on them before they piss on you.

Gossip ~ First prize goes to the one who knows the most and tells the most, especially if some of it is just conjecture. Grand prize if it's over lunch and you're paying!

Judgement ~ Jesus has been kicked out of the chair on the right hand of God and a whole bunch of people have assumed the position. Who knew there were enough gavels to go around.

Honor, Integrity, Respect.....words for spelling bees at the 3rd grade level, totally irrelevant to real life.

Chewing Through The Leash



Dear Readers,
The posts on my blog read like a bona fide roller coaster, up, down, really up, really down, up...well, you get it.

I assure you my therapist and physician have assured me, I am not bipolar nor do I have Borderline Personality Disorder. So, I guess I am just your typical post-menopausal woman!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Deprevation

A dear friend is writing a book.

He is an excellent writer.

He put off penning his book until he finished his Bachelor's Degree.

To feed-the-need to write in the meantime, he has posted regularly on his blog.

To feed-the-need to read intelligent, interesting material, I read his blog.

My friend graduated and received his degree.

Apparently, he is now working on his book (good for him) but, more importantly, WHAT ABOUT ME!!!!

He is not posting to his blog as often and I miss it.

Dear Friend,

Finish the frickin' book already and get back to your blog!

Sincerely,
Just Me

Filling My Cup

Shouldn't one have to purchase a ticket, stand in line and willingly board a roller coaster if they want a ride?

Life has a habit now and then of grabbing one by the scruff of the neck (or elsewhere), tossing and buckling you into the back seat of a chute-the-chute; then standing back to watch the show.

The final two weeks of June, 2014 was filled with ups and downs and twists and turns. Not that I can't handle ups and downs and twists and turns. In fact, I think I am pretty good at it but, dang gum; when life shoves six months of living into a two week Big Dipper, a person's nerves get a little raw!

The final twist of the coaster ride was to be a two-day workshop in Lodi. We headed for the workshop on Friday but to be honest, I had lost my zeal for the seminar, even though I had really anxiously been looking forward to it for months. If I had seen an infomercial for

 Instant Zest and Zeal
Free for only $19.99 plus shipping and handling
I would have dialed up and ordered 10!

My eyes were swollen from crying, happy tears and sad tears, angry tears and tears "just because"!
My cup was empty. At one point, my poor husband stopped to grab lunch in a drive-thru. He nonchalantly asked me what I wanted! I burst into tears! Uncontrollable tears rolling down my expertly applied make-up from eyes already the size of golf balls!

He got me a large coke and a burger with extra onions! He knows how to make me happy.

I am usually a cup-runneth-over kind of gal but my cup was empty and raw!

The workshop was great. Aha's and epiphanies going off everywhere. I think it was Socrates that is quoted for saying an unexamined life is not worth living. He would have lifted his toga and danced, danced, danced after this class.

Class was great, learned a lot; still cried and melted down a couple of times.

We climb into car and head for home...or so I thought! Half-way home my husband pulls into a Target parking lot, grabs my hand and pulls me in. He gets a cart, drops two sleeping bags into it, two large waters and a box of granola bars.

"We're going camping!" he announces!  "I've always wanted to photograph Hat Lake at sunrise!"


Off we head to Lassen. No tent, no stove, NO RESERVATIONS on the weekend before the 4th of July and clothing completely inappropriate for mountaineering!  BUT....don't you like how there always seems to be a BUT in life's circumstances! But, mountains fill my cup! Mountains, starry nights in the mountains, the smell of camp fires (even if they are someone else's smoke!).

Photo Courtesy of Frank Tona Photography
We pull into Lassen Park, find a site at the third or fourth campground. We put the seats down, crawled into our brand new sleeping bags and fell asleep watching a sky filled with bright shiny stars.

Just before sunrise, I woke Frank up. "Honey, I see a glow on the horizon, we should drive over to Hat Lake." He opened his eyes, smiled at me and was asleep, all in one breath!  I climbed into front seat and drove the two or three miles to Hat Lake.

What a beautiful day. Hat Lake was gorgeous, Lassen, as always, was majestic. We took some back roads once we were out of the park and discovered some meadows and vistas that could only be described as paradise. We also discovered how easily it is to get lost if you wander off of A Line. If you plan on wandering off of A Line, you should let someone know!

Our cups are full again. Thank God for mountains and lakes, for majesty and simplicity and mostly, for perceptive husbands!  Side note: hiking in gold dress-shoes isn't suggested but if that's all you got, what the hell!

"That's been one of my mantras - focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex. You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it's worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains."
Steve Jobs

"Great things are done when men meet mountains." William Blake

"My father considered a walk among the mountains as the equivalent of churchgoing." Aldous Huxley

My father was much different than Huxley's. My father taught me that walking in the mountains was God's church. He taught me that we go to church to talk to God
but we go to the mountains to listen to God.

Mountains, wilderness, wild flowers, little streams creating their own songs; all of it talks to my spirit.


My kids once asked me what they should do with my ashes after I'm gone. I told them I couldn't care less. I've changed my mind and would really like my ashes scattered in the mountains amongst the trees and granite; in the arms of God and Mother Nature. That might make being in heaven that much more special!


Where do you go to refill your cup?  What feeds your spirit and your soul?


Monday, June 30, 2014

Darth Vader said, "Whaaaa!"

Words. I love words, their roots; the path they take to become integrated into our language.

I am also a fan of synchronicity. Synchronicity gives me goose bumps! Synchronicity is part of our daily lives, learning to recognize it is easy if you stay aware. Words and Synchronicity, two of my favorite things....and Magic...and Cheesecake!

Last week, the subject of discernment popped up everywhere I went!  My husband and I were signed up for a Discernment Workshop last weekend so we were alert to the word!  It was a little like buying a pair of red rain boots and everywhere you look....Bam...red rainboots!  Two women were even discussing discernment as they chose ears of corn at Raley's, though I am sure it didn't apply to choosing the perfect ear of corn.

An online-dictionary defines it as the quality of being able to grasp and comprehend what is obscure. Discernment is an act of perceiving.

The dictionary gives an example "...the discernment to know if someone is a true friend..."
Synonyms include wisdom, insight, perception and don't forget astuteness!

Speaking of astuteness, in the past five days, I have heard the word "ingratiate" used at least 8 times! Synchronicity?Would it be astute of me to pay attention?

Ingratiate. It is a verb. The root is Latin from gracia meaning favor evolving into "in gratium" or "for the favor of"!  Around 1622 some Italian used the word "ingraziare" for the first time, alluding to someone who was making an effort "to bring oneself into favor."

Verb! That would be an action word, right?  How does one ingratiate? Why does one ingratiate?

Edward Jones, a social psychologist, coined the term ingratiation. Ingratiation, according to Jones, is a psychological technique in which an individual, through deliberate effort, manipulates their target (or targets) to make themselves more attractive or likeable. He also defined 5 different methods of manipulation. I am not sure if his goal was  to teach us how to ingratiate or how to recognize ingratiation. In recent years, psychologists have added another two or three methods of manipulation.

In all conversations this past week where it was used, with one exception, the word ingratiate was expressed with distaste. The one exception was used once to describe how someone successfully ingratiated herself with group leaders so that she could join a closed committee at her place of employment. She really had no interest in the goals of the committee but she was intrigued by the perks! She later dropped out. She said the perks were not worth the responsibility and demands.

Why would a person "ingratiate" themselves?

It certainly has nothing to do with good manners though I should look up Emily Post and see if she ever alluded to it. Frankly, I don't think it has anything to do with integrity either. It smacks of unadulterated control issues and overwhelming lack of respect and, to be honest, it makes me sad.

How would you react if you discovered that you or those close to you were targets?   Would you call the Ingratiation Police?

Good news! Turns out we don't need Ingratiation Police! Apparently, most people above the age of  9 can spot ingratiation! Some of them even faster than 63 year olds! 

Do You Have A Map?

I have a drawer that has 50, 60, maybe 80 maps in it. New York City (city streets and subways, Tokyo, Puerto Rico, Yellowstone, Utah, New Mexico, South Carolina, Maine. One map has both Vermont and New Hampshire.  I have, at least, 5 Redding maps! I've been here a long time and things change!

I have Santa Clara County, Ventura County, Tehama County, Jefferson County. I have Yugoslavia, Macedonia, Greece, Bosnia and Mexico.

Funny thing though, I never take a folding map with me. Weird huh?

Before I venture to any place I haven't been, I Google directions. Then I Map Quest the destination. I check out which route seems the straightest shot or path of least resistance. I memorize it.

I visualize the trip in "Home Health" directions! Just a bunch of R's and L's or E, W, S and N Once the route is in my head, it is pretty much there to stay. If you ask me on my death-bed how to get to the tree farm in Yuba City (which I haven't been to in 15 years as of this year) I will answer:

S on I-5 
E @ 20 @ Colusa exit
L @ 99 (Golden State Highway)
L @ Messick
R @ Sierra Gold Driveway ~ Main office is (or, at least, was) a little house in parking lot.


I will not use a GPS because I have found them to be bossy, boring and inaccurate. They don't prepare you for highway construction, new roads or downed trees!

Life is much like that drive to the tree farm. We need to set out our directions. We need to know which directions are going to get us where we ultimately want to go. Life's journey is usually not a physical address but a "place" in your soul and your spirit. 

Growing up, I wanted to be a mother, a doctor; live in the country or mountains, grow my own food and be happy.  My dream was not to live at 10786 Ponderosa Drive, have four sons, one with green eyes, two with brown eyes and one with blue eyes and I would name them Tom, Ray, Bill and Craig and three daughters, two tall brunettes, Zita and Fiona,  and a petite redhead who I would name Molly. I had a "general" vision; home, husband, kids, contentment.

On our journey we do need to set out a path. Our families, our communities, our faith and, ultimately, our nature, help define the path but the path is ours. We need to review our path now and then to make sure we are staying on course. Does that mean we can't turn left or right, or reverse our steps from South to North? 

It is always your choice but examine those choices and the consequences. Going W on 20 @ the Colusa exit isn't going to help you harvest peaches, pears or almonds next year but you might see wonderful wild flowers along the highway, catch sight of rolling vineyards surrounding Clear Lake and you just might end up at the ocean, observing the most beautiful sunset of your life. Your husband might be annoyed because he spent the day digging holes and preparing soil for the trees but, hey, he'll get over it! He always does!

Or, he might just say, "ENOUGH!"
So, what are the directions you have set out for you on your path?  What is your personal map for your journey?

Is accountability part of your personal directions on the path? When you say you will be somewhere at 7:00, do you call at 8:30 with a really good excuse, over and over and over? 

If you want to go straight and people are in your way are you going to bowl them over? Will you be a bully? Will you be a negotiator? Will you introduce yourself and ask if there is anything you can do to clear the congestion?

If there is a wide gap in the trail, will you slump over and turn around or will you study it, check out the other side, back-track a little for a running start and leap over the abyss?

If you want things that aren't yours will you steal them or destroy them or just plant yourself in the middle of them until the true owners throw their hands up and say, "Here, you can have it?"

On this most important journey, our life, we need basic directions. We need gas for our vehicle, I for one, certainly don't want to have to push my car the whole trip! Nor do I want anyone else forced to drag me and my wagon over the hill.

What are your values? What are your moral guides? What are you willing to be flexible in and what is firm and unshakable?

When we get to the end of the journey, will you be able to look into a mirror and like who is looking back at you?



Friday, June 27, 2014

Aunties

Do you know how important Aunties are?

I can't imagine having grown up without Aunties and, even, at 63, I have an Auntie that still inspires me, calms me, teaches me, makes me laugh and shares her wisdom (which, by the way, have no strings attached and that's the best!)

Aunties teach you that you can fly if you want but to wear knee pads in case you loose your train of thought.

Aunties teach you that it really is okay to fill the dirty pans with soapy water and hide them in the oven until morning!

Aunties teach you to dance.

Aunties teach you to toilet paper houses and about "see food"  (don't ask!).

Aunties teach you to steal signs (again, better if you don't ask).

Aunties teach you that to dream big is your right and duty and that people who want to pop your dreams are pinheads.

Love at first sight!
Aunties teach you that sometimes love doesn't make sense but do it anyway and other times they teach you that love makes sense but "this ain't love" so RUN AWAY!

Some Aunties sneak you tampons when your mom says, "No, wear this twin size mattress so everyone knows you're on your period!"

Aunties take you to the Mall, your first concert, sneak you cookie dough and teach you how to make friendship bracelets.

Aunties teach you about Little Bunny FooFoo, how to cross the street in heavy traffic and about flexibility.

Aunties teach you that many things are flexible including some rules!

Most importantly (except for the tampon part) Aunties teach you about unconditional love.

I saw two potentially awesome Aunties get their first feel of the position last night. There was no hesitation, both are totally ready to step up to the plate. But one of them fell in love with her neice in such a big way. You could see it in her eyes, her demeanor, her spirit. Even the baby felt it. She snuggled right into Auntie Haley's arms for the first of many cuddles.


Thursday, June 26, 2014

Red Letter Day

 June 25, 2014 ~ What a day!

After 3 days of labor our great-granddaughter was born today.

She is beautiful.

She is loved.

Life is Good.






Monday, June 23, 2014

Revisiting An Old Friend ~ Trees

Trees are the longest living of all of God's creations on this earth.

What can they teach us?

Not only does the tree live by the adage "Do No Harm" but every moment of its being, a tree is conducting life in a productive, nurturing and creative manner.

The tree absorbs poisonous carbon dioxide into its leaves, changes the chemical make-up, producing oxygen which benefits us all; fresh air for all breathing creatures.

Miles and miles of tree roots disperse through the earth, aerating the soil, preventing the ground from compacting. Have you ever tried to dig a hole in compacted earth?  Imagine a delicate seedling trying to break through, or a little earthworm bumping its little noggan on the hard mass of compacted earth.

If there is an isolated tree in a forest or garden that is floundering due to lack of water the surrounding trees transfer moisture to it through their root system!  Now that is nurturing!

The profusion of branches and leaves across the sky provides shade, a little haven of respite on a hot day. Those branches are also nooks and crannies for birds to nest, squirrels to hide their stash of winter stores.

Falling leaves cover the ground, providing a winter blanket  As the leaves decay, the process warms the soil and protect the bulbs and corms and sleeping plants. Nitrogen is produced, feeding the roots and plants.

There is never a time, in its natural state, when a tree is not being creative. It is constantly growing, bud, leaves, branches, expanding it's horizons.  Even in the state of dormancy the tree is creating miles and miles of roots underground.

A tree does not protect itself by attacking its enemies, yet it does not stand idly by, and letting it's enemies attack. Tree's produce bark to protect it's tender wood from infestation, from scorching in the sun's heat and from exposure to the elements. Some trees create their own chemicals, oils or gas that thwarts intruders.

Is it any wonder the God uses a "tree" to hold the forbidden fruit even though fruit grows on so many other plant types.

Is winter a tree's sabbath?  Does it "keep holy the sabbath" by its resting?  What does a tree "DO" in the resting?

Every part of the tree above the ground is idle, it grows no leaves, no branches during dormancy. But underground, ah, underground the root system is expanding, big roots, tiny capillary roots, all are growing, preparing the foundation for the next season's growth.  Is there a message in the tree for us.  Is our day of rest merely a day to attend religious services or a period for a tranquil, openness of soul?  A day to while-away or the opportunity to really be in a state of attention, to listen, to prepare the foundation for...?

Creativity is vital to the longevity of the tree.  I believe it is also vital to our health and longevity. As long as we continue to create, to learn, to teach, we maintain vitality. What do you do to maintain your vitality? 

Good Friend or Not?


What is a "friend"?

My old standby, Dictionary.com, states that "friend" is "a person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard." A friend is not a friend because they are bored with their "old" friend or just need a little distraction! I looked for that in the definition but just couldn't find it.

In Northanger Abbey, Jane Austen says, "There is nothing I would not do for those who are really my friends. I have no notion of loving people by halves, it is not my nature."

"...loving people by halves..." How does one do that?

In Out of Solitude, Henri Nouwen wrote, "When we honestly ask ourselves which persons in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solution, or cure, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in a hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares."

Are there people in your life who you can call "friend" using Nouwen's description? Do you reciprocate? Do you listen to them when they express their fears, their concerns, or do you snipe back?  Is there a friendship that says, You listen to me and my concerns and screw your concerns!"

What if your "good friend" is a person with a "what's in it for me" agenda? What if people around you can see your "good friend's" agenda but you can't? Do you toss your other friends away because they see what you don't?

What are you willing to give up for your "good friend"?

Do you think your "good friend" is worth a home, a marriage, a family? Do you think keeping the "good friend" is worth losing the trust of a spouse? Is that "good friend" worth making a spouse uncomfortable, scared, insecure?

When you see how a "good friend" has betrayed another "good friend" what excuse do you make for it?

When that "good friend's" name pops up in conversation, on texts, on messages and you see the pain it causes another supposedly "good friend," do you shrug your shoulders?

What is the worth of a "Good Friend?"




Saturday, June 21, 2014

So Many Choices

Summer Solstice today.  Researching "solstice" the words: pagans, neo-pagans and new agers are tossed out like candy on Halloween ( or should I say Samhain).

Having discovered lately (finally) that life does not have to be either/or, I have decided to celebrate solstice with an international-interfaith flavor this year.

In Lithuania it is called Saint Jonas' Festival. I will sing and dance and tell tales (this being my first of the day though the singing and dancing has already begun!) In true Lithuanian fashion, a fine hello to all Jonas, Jone and Janina's out there! By the way, the holiday was supposedly high-jacked and adopted as John the Baptist Day, so hail to you John. ( so I guess blessings go out to you Johns, Jons, Juans, Juanitas, and Joannes and Ivans)
 Photo Courtesy of rockfirevt.com

Speaking of Ivan's, it is also Kupalo Night or Ivan Kupalo Night, the shortest night of the year. Ivan is the John in Slavick languages. Again, the adopted by Christian religions to celebrate John the Baptist. John, Ivan, Juan, JoAnn, all those names, when deciphered into their basic roots mean "bathing". It kind of makes sense that baptism and John would be celebrated at this time of year. It could actually be one of those what-came-first-the-egg-or-the-chicken kind of things!

So many cultures celebrate the longest-day aspect of the solstice but I am intrigued by the "shortest night" view of the Slavik people. Bonfires are built and the revelers jump the fire to prove their courage; couples are encouraged to jump the fire holding hands. If they break their grip their relationship is destined to be short lived. Think of the lawyers fees that would be saved if we made bonfire jumping part of premarital counseling!

Some of the celebrants search for fern flowers and magical herbs; maidens create small wreathes to float down rivers and would-be suitors try to snag the wreathe of the one they are smitten with.

It is also a day to celebrate fertility. I would imagine if you were one of the lucky ones to find a fern flower, capture a sodden wreathe and jump a bonfire with the wreathes creator without letting go of hands and still had time in the shortest night of the year...well, you might soon be celebrating honey moon. That, in itself, is another fertility holiday and rite.
Photo by kostaskatsanis.blogspot.com

p.s. ferns don't flower! If someone brings you a little blossom and tells you it is a fern flower, cut them off from the mead....they've certainly had their fill!

In Poland, the day (or night ) is called Noc Kupalo. All the rituals mentioned above are observed with the addition of telling fortunes. I am guessing that the most accurate fortunes would be those predicting burned feet, lost wreathes and a few hangovers. ("The cards tell me you will awake in the tall grass, toes crispy and feeling as if Ivan Kupalo is in your head banging to get out!)

 Finland built huge bonfires too and called the longest day of the year Ukon Juhla. The Fins are very astute people, as they usually built their fires on the beach of a lake or the sea. Two birch branches would also be placed on either side of the entrance to the homes, welcoming visitors. Heavy indulging in spirits is also part of the Finnish ritual...and I am not talking ghosts! It is now called St. John's Day but still celebrated with bonfires and booze! Go Finland!

Fete de la Saint-Jean is what the French call the day. They, too, build bonfires but in the past it was called Cat Burning Day.  Moving on.......

Greece celebrates the day as Klidonas which translates to "Sign of the Oracle". Now that is a culture that saw John the Baptist coming!  The day is considered a fine time for unmarried woman to find their true love. Wreathes are also involved, but unlike other cultures, Greek doors are been decorated with wreathes for two months and they find this a grand day to burn them (the wreathes, not the doors). Like many others, bonfires, drinking and dancing are a must and after several "Opa's" there is the mandatory jumping of flames to prove your manliness and courage!

Many Western hemisphere cultures laid out a banquet for the Sun Gods, hoping they would be rewarded with good harvests.  I don't find that jumping flames was a popular on this side of the globe either.

I, for one, will try jumping the fire pit prior to building the fire. I will jump the flames prior to consuming any alcohol and I will definitely shave my legs to prevent any singeing. I may build a wreath and see if Frank retrieves it (which I am sure he will to prevent it from being swept up by the pool sweep) and he will be justly rewarded. At the stroke of midnight, eastern standard time, 9 p.m. here, I will take my pseudo-midnight swim, knock back a toast to the Sun Gods, Moon Goddesses, John the Baptist, Fire-jumpers, and all the Johns, Jons, Ivans, etc. I will dance sky-clad only until I reach my towel (shame to scare the neighbors on such a festive evening).

Climbing into my bed, I will know that somewhere, my ancestors will be smiling down on me and asking each other, "WTF?"