Friday, June 27, 2008

What Happened?

I don't know what happened to the past two months. Yesterday we took Fernando and Oona to the vet for more shots and to see why Fernando is listless and losing weight (an infection, being treated with antibiotics), when the vet found a flea on Oona. He asked if we treated them, and we said sure, we'd just treated both of them with Advantage only three weeks ago. Well, as it turns out, it was two whole months ago. I swear I just bought the Advantage a few weeks ago. Sheesh, what happened to that time?

Well, for one my mother died. So did the parents of two of my friends. This week I have three Board of Directors meetings and one annual meeting. (Boards of FAWR, CHS and my homeowners association and annual meeting of MIC) Plus we managed to hold the CHS Summer Intensive, courtesy of the folks at AzureGreen and Silver Cauldron Coven in Maine. That was followed by a concentrated meeting of the Executive Director and the department chairs wherein we accomplished an amazing amount of work, news of which will be forthcoming from CHS in due time.

About that talk I gave via Skype in São Paulo, here's a photo and there are more here.

The bottom line is I'm too tired and confused to post anything particularly interesting or relevant to any readers I might have. Instead, I'll direct you to two other blogs.

First is today's Wild Hunt blog, which features news about my friend, Don Frew, and my candidate, Barack Obama.

Second is Threads of the Spiderwoman blog of my friend Lauren Raine, an amazingly talented Pagan artist. I'm looking forward to seeing her at Starwood next month.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Reuniting with Family

I spent five days back in Western Massachusetts for the Cherry Hill Seminary Summer Intensive, followed by a meeting of most of the Administrative Committee. Upon my mother's recent death, I had phoned several relatives who don't have email. One was my cousin Blake S. I knew he lived in Maine and found a phone number for a Blake S. in Maine, so I called it. Blake himself answered. We talked for a long time, and when he learned I'd be coming to New England the weekend following Mother's memorial, he said he wanted to drive down to visit me if I could carve out a few hours.

I did the carving and he the driving. I left New Jersey in June of 1959, when he was only 8 years old. It had been nearly half a century since we'd seen each other. I'm not even sure we saw each other before my family left the area, so it may have been a full half century. In any case, both of us are orphans now. Further, he has no siblings nor paternal cousins. His mother Catherine was my mother Elizabeth's younger sister. He and I are both Van Tines. Here we are together in middle age in Marin and Adair's kitchen at AzureGreen:

Photo by Holli Emore

Monday, June 09, 2008

Talking to São Paulo

On Saturday morning I gave a talk to 50 Pagans sitting in a hotel meeting room in São Paulo, Brazil while I sat is my cluttered studio in California. I was honored to have been invited by my friend Claudiney Prieto, Brazil's best-selling author on Wicca. Claudiney encouraged his publisher to publish a Portuguese edition of my book, Witchcraft and the Web, so that now I can say I'm "internationally published." He's also a primary organizer of Pagan Pride Day in São Paulo, which, with a population of nearly 11 million, is the largest city in South American and one of the largest in the world. And it's wildly multicultural.

This talk was done through the miracle of Skype. They showed me on a big screen in Brazil, but they had no camera for me to see them. I talked through an interpreter, Rose Hirasike.

The topic was "NeoPaganism Rising," about the phenomenal rise of Paganism worldwide, and things we can do to fortify and sustain this movement. Since American and Brazilian culture are so different when it comes to religion -- we American are by far the most obsessed with what others believe in terms of faith traditions, in my opinion -- I wasn't quite sure which developments and expressions of Pagan culture would be most useful to expand upon. I can only hope my talk wasn't boring or discombobulated, or worse, irrelevant.

Talking in smaller chunks to enable an interpreter to tell Portuguese-speaking listeners what you're trying to say is a bit of a challenge. The technology was fabulous, though, so I'm interested in exploring it further. Hopefully my Brazilian colleagues will invite me, and others, in the future.

Friday, June 06, 2008

More on Mom

This is the obituary announcement we put in the local papers:

Elizabeth Van Tine O’Brien
January 19, 1911- May 23, 2008

Second of five children of John Raub Van Tine and Elizabeth Hardy Kynett, born in Lansdowne, PA (Philadelphia), Elizabeth, also called Betty, came to Lodi, CA from New Jersey with her husband, James T. O’Brien and children in 1959.

A strong advocate for women’s rights, in 1958 Betty was the first woman elected to school board of Evesham Township, NJ, on a write-in vote. She and Jim traveled widely in connection with his work with Lions Club Int’l. An accomplished seamstress and knitter, she worked at The Fabric Store in Lodi for years. Longtime member of Lodi’s First United Methodist Church, Daughters of the American Revolution, Pi Beta Phi, Daughters of Founders and Patriots, and Dickinson College Alumni.

Predeceased by siblings Karldon K. Van Tine; John Raub Van Tine, Jr.; and Catherine B. Styles; husband Jim O’Brien and stepson James T. O’Brien, Jr. Survived by sister Eleanor V. Slim, Doylestown, PA; daughter Aline O’Brien and Corby Lawton, San Rafael; daughter Catherine O’Brien and Anthony Montanino, Palo Alto; grandchildren James T. O’Brien, III, Idaho; Rainbow Aline and Vincent Porthé, Chicago; Deirdre Blessing Wolfer, San Rafael; and Alexandra Amelia Foster, San Diego; great-grandchild Brandon O’Brien; and many other friends and relations.

Friends are invited to a memorial at 2:00 pm on Saturday, May 31, 2008, at First United Methodist Church, 200 W. Oak St., Lodi. Donations in her memory may be made to Hospice of San Joaquin County.

My, how the Internet has changed the ways we deal with someone's passing -- or any other life transition, for that matter. This is our mother's online guest book.

I encourage everyone to check out her or his local hospice group, and to support it. The people who do hospice work are saints, as far as I'm concerned. We were so reassured about how an what our mother and we were experiencing by Mother's nurse, Edee Singer, aide Kim Martinsdiaz, and social worker Diane Medina.

Our local hospice, formerly Marin Hospice, and now combined with San Francisco and Sonoma Counties, is now called Hospice by the Bay. Not only do hospice workers help with dying, but they also offer ongoing grief counseling (including some for children and teens) as well as maintaining a comprehensive library of death and dying resources. I might add that many include The Pagan Book of Living and Dying among these resources.

Paula Gunn Allen

Sheesh, what a year for deaths! Paula Gunn Allen died six days after my mother did. Thanks to Jason's Wild Hunt blog that I know about this, since I haven't exactly been tuned in to the world for the last few weeks. Paula was close friends with my late dear friend Mary TallMountain. Although I never met Paula, I heard a lot about her from Mary. I note from some of the writings about Paula that she had similar inner conflicts from having been brought up Roman Catholic. Hearing that Paula passed has reawakened my sense of loss from Mary's death.

I find grief to be a cumulative thing. Fresh grief, or fresh cause for grief, dips into that deep well of grief we all carry and brings it to the surface, sort of like priming a pump. Grief takes as long as it takes.