Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Ornament

I feel pretty rough this morning and I really want to write about that and an exchange yesterday with another concerned customer (about my health) but this ornament must have its story told.  I said it looked like something the artist son would have made.  We’ll call him John.  I feel like I’m assigning letters to variables in algebra equations!  More about that- the process of choosing fake names- later.  John is the older son and studied art or design at a fine university I think in New York State.  It has been years since I’ve seen him.  He was the first one to leave the nest only a couple of years after I started cleaning for the Anthony’s.  Though he has not been around for me to see him, the house is full of his art work from over the years. 

In the old house one of his paintings was in the kitchen, one in the upstairs bathroom one in the media room, geez I can’t remember all of them off hand.  And now as I bring them to mind I am struck by the variety of subjects he chose to paint; the one in the kitchen was a still life of a potted plant in their cellar that had vines draped over exposed pipes.  I never asked about that one but I’m positive it would be a good story.  The painting in the upstairs bath was a large canvas of a male figure seated showing the back and the lowered left shoulder; a calming study of the complete figure.  It looked like he was studying the use of color to express degrees of warmth.  The one in the media room was of a solitary older man in mid stride, a fairly distant perspective of the subject compared to his other works in the house, except for a small whimsical piece in his bedroom of a hot air balloon in flight.

What makes me think the sculpted figure ornament is one of John’s creations is a wire sculpture of a male figure that used to be perched on the light fixture of the half bath in their old kitchen.  I did ask Lisa about that one and I swear I remember that smiling quality of a really happy mother recalling the surprises that come with children; I think she told me the wire had come from one of the neighborhood refurbishing projects, very thin, plastic coated in various colors, and how John had used it in his creations.  That same figure now sits in the guest bath of the new condo, looking like a modern Ponderer.

I hate to stop here, I’m afraid I’ll get distracted and never come back, but my eyes are very sore and the discomfort in my chest has spread this morning to the neck and head and despite aspirin is intensifying.  I have to rest in the hopes of being able to work tomorrow with out too much pain.  I’m sorry to be such a whiner, but I’ve never been noble that way, and I do hope one day someone with this same condition will find courage and comfort when they come across an account of the same pain they experience.  It is very humiliating to read medical descriptions of painful symptoms subsumed under the heading of hypochondria.  Until science has a way of chemically revealing this subjective pain, like acids changing the color of litmus paper, people who live with it need to hear the accounts of cohorts to remind them that they are not victims of their own faulty imagination but people in real physical distress.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Goodbye to the 14th Floor

I finally made it to the Anthony’s yesterday at 12:15 and finished at 6:45 which meant I was still there when Doug arrived from the airport with their son and daughter in law.  I had cleaning gloves tossed on the rug under the dining room table, and spilling out of the plastic grocery bags I use to tote them to and from houses.  That same rug was also cluttered with a stack of boxes that I had moved to wash the surrounding bare floor.  The condo was in various stages of disassembly (to get at hidden dirt) and I had not even cleaned the guest room.  But of course I was lucky, as I almost always am, because they were just coming to stow their luggage before going back out to pick up Lisa at work.  She had to work late yesterday.  We haven’t seen each other nearly as much in the last three years as we did before she took this job.  She is working for an organization that has something to do with education and scholarships or fellowships.  I think it is connected with the University.  It sounds like she has to put in very long hours and is still focused on the job when she comes home from work.

When I was racing through the last tasks, trying to finish up the most important ones- I did neglect a few minor things like vacuuming Lisa’s closet and washing the part of their bedroom floor that doesn’t get drip marks- I glanced up quickly at the nightscape from the south windows.  I get a pang of regret now thinking I will never have a chance to enjoy that view as a solitary housecleaner again.  Last night I raced to wind up the cord on the vacuum and put it away even as I thought I should take a more leisurely last look and smiled at the thought that I would miss the view more than I would miss Lisa and Doug.  One day we will have a chance to share a laugh about how they live on such a posh piece of real estate the house cleaner didn’t want to retire and miss gazing down on the city lights.

This morning, as I write about Lisa’s job, I am reminded of what I will miss about her.  I admire all of my customers.  It is one of the most difficult aspects of my role as house cleaner, the psychological effect of looking up to the people I work for.  I will miss the role model that she has been for me.  I guess this gets to one of the top reasons I am writing about my years cleaning houses, this need to document how my customers have set a spiritual example for me of a life dedicated to family and community.

Last night was a perfect illustration of their unfailing tolerance- I did not detect a single note of impatience or disappointment in their voices or actions when Doug arrived with his two tired travelers from the airport.  They had been on planes for at least 12 hours and were ready to rest and relax, but came home to find that the well paid housecleaner still had not finished.  All I got was a friendly “Hi Mary Pat, how are you doing?”

When I said, cringing, “Good, but I’m late!”- their only response was, “Well don’t mind us,” in a completely relaxed tone.  I had not met Ha, and Tim brought her to the bathroom where I was scrubbing the sink and introduced her.  We had a quick friendly exchange and they returned to the living room where I could hear Doug discussing something about the Christmas tree with them.  No one seemed the least bit inconvenienced by my tardiness with getting the job done.

The Christmas tree brings up another joy of being a housecleaner; the amazing THINGS people have in their homes!  Their tree this year- how do I describe it?  First of all it was just sticks, maybe an inch by half inch thick.  Secondly, it was suspended from the ceiling.  They were very short at the top increasing in size toward the bottom, and arrayed around a central cord which must have been very strong but thin, because I didn’t notice it.  The ‘trunk’ was really formed by the central intersection of the several sticks spaced in all directions to make several diameters of a circle, or branches of a tree.  It was adorned with traditional ornaments and hand crafted originals such as a spray of small wheat stalks tied with a colorful ribbon, and a small sculpture which looked like something the artist son would have made one Christmas as a fun exercise in forming the human figure; formed of dark modeling clay it was…well I have to stop here again and explain something about art in people’s homes.

      <  *   >   *  <   *   >   *  <  *   >   *   <   *  >   *   <   *   >   *  <   *   >

I got up to make some tea and realized just how bad I feel.  Is it just how bad or badly I feel?  These are things I never worry about when I write in my journal.  I feel like sh…  Aspirin is helping but this is no fun.  The thing is I know these aches will return often so I don’t have to worry about failing to describe them.  What I do want to relate is the delicious taste and texture of a sweet bread I toasted to go with my tea.  When I left I grabbed, without even leaving a scribbled thank you note, a big bag full of goodies from the local natural foods store.  There is so much to tell about; the ornament, the big bag of Christmas goodies, the card I have not opened.  I have to approach this like cleaning a house and just take one item at a time and give it the time it needs for completion.  But even cleaning a house I skip from one area to another, changing from cleaning a sink because my gloves are soaked on the inside and I want to give my hands a break from water so I dust, or return to running the vacuum cleaner.  When I clean a house I don’t have to worry about losing the customer’s attention or boring, or confusing them.  I am glad I have read authors like Camilo Jose Cela, otherwise I would despair of anyone taking the trouble to read my story.

This bread is healing me.  It says on the package it is a sweet from medieval Sienna.  Pan Forte: an Italian holiday dolci with honey, hazelnuts, almonds, orange peel, citron.  Flour and butter are at the end of the ingredient list.  I have never eaten fruit cake and have always been afraid of the day that surely must come when I will be forced by Christmas courtesy to try a taste, but this bread gives me courage.  The powdered sugar on the outside of the round loaf helps, but really, after a little warm-up in the toaster this treat makes me forget what ails me.  One more piece and I hope to return later.  Right now Una (that’s her real name, everyone else gets an alias) is sitting at attention beside me.  That could only mean it is time for the morning walk.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Last Cleaning on the 14th Floor

Today I clean the Anthony’s for the last time.  I wrote a little bit about them in the Good Neighbors essay.  I’ve learned over the years that the sense of loss at these farewells creeps in quickly and is stronger than I would expect.  I used to say goodbye to friends as though they were going off on a weeklong trip and we would be seeing each other again soon, which cloaked the parting in a festive air of liberation.  If a friend was leaving I was looking forward to seeing how upcoming adventures would change and invigorate them.  In the case of customers the relationship sometimes ended because they were moving into a retirement home where housecleaning was included in the deal, and I felt frankly relieved to shed responsibility.  As much as I love my customers, I am always happy when a work obligation, no matter how well rewarded when fulfilled, is removed from my life.  I float on the anticipation of freedom that will come with extra time and energy and look forward to new opportunities that I will be able to explore.

The Anthony’s are from the beginning of my second wave of customers when I went back to work after a three year break to take care of my son.  They all came to me through Liz Hunt, a friend and neighbor from when we lived near the Governor’s Mansion.  To tell the truth I really don’t feel up to writing about all this, which is ironic since it has been one of my fantasies ever since I started cleaning.  Even when I worked as a server on the salad bar in Balentine’s Cafeteria I spent hours thinking about what how I would entertain an audience of other food service people with insightful and humorous observations about the job of feeding the public.  So here I am taking one of the first well deserved steps toward retirement from a very fulfilling life cleaning other people’s homes and facing the fact that I’m not sure I can do this (write about it) now that the time has come.

I guess I am like my customers who appreciate me when I don’t come even though it might be an inconvenience; when they do a job I would normally be doing they remember why they hired me to do it in the first place.  Among many other things they remember the patience required to complete the details that will go unnoticed by casual observers, but add up to a home that feels orderly and well cared for.  As I go back and forth between this essay and washing my own dirty dishes I wish someone else would tell my story, or that I could tell it to them and they would present it in coherent prose that doesn’t put the reader to sleep or make them cross eyed with incomprehension.  I have yet to read an account of a servant who has enjoyed the depth of friendship that has benefited me for the last 27 years among my customers.  I see so much advertising about employees being members of a corporate family and think how lucky I am to have real intimate and honest partnerships with every one of my customers.  We trust each other, tolerate each other, sometimes we get irritated with each other and barely keep from striking out in anger.  We experience in the limited amount of time that I’m in their house most of the emotions that are associated with home and family, in the sanctuary of the family.

I wish I knew how to shape a story to convey the sense I have gained over the years that a house really is a sanctuary for its inhabitants.  Even if people don’t have altars in corners with candles and pictures of saints or loved ones, there are relics of special bonds to loved ones throughout the home.  No one has more opportunities to handle these brittle icons of hopes and memories than the housecleaner and, if they are lucky enough to be able to visit and share stories with the customer, the various bones and images are literally brought to life, infused with the history and aspirations of the owners.

So today I go to the Anthony’s, who moved from their big old house in a historic downtown neighborhood of shady streets and progressive families mixed in with a few remaining low rent rooming houses, into a 14th floor unit in a new high rise building.  They can see their old neighborhood from the floor to ceiling windows in the new condo, as well as the highway leading south to the beach.  At night they look down at moving lights on the streets and see the lights stacked in windows of all the other tall buildings of our growing city center.  Last spring I watched the sun set, the bottom of the great orange circle touching the distinct line of the horizon, and stood transfixed at the western window watching it …now here is a problem.  How do I describe the motion.  I have to stop because I cannot think of a word that contains the deliberation of movement that impresses me with such a view of the sunset.  It reminds me of a dancer making a deliberate, pageant like exit from the stage, gliding with perfect control not a millisecond too soon, into the wings.  This is the impression I got from watching that one sunset from their west window, followed by the appearance in the darkness of Venus and Jupiter like two jewels suspended in the fresh sea of night.

Well, I suppose it is now evident that I would bring romantic notions to any job or situation.  I guess what’s important to me are the people who can live with that, the customers who have kept me over the years are the ones who could put up with a woman who sees magic in everything and looks for love in every nook and cranny.  All this romance can be very distracting.  It fans the flames of emotion and leads to a lack of self control.  What I’m getting at here is that my customers have been heroically patient with my habit of showing up later and later and taking longer and longer to complete tasks.

This morning I am calculating for the last time how late I can arrive and still have plenty of time to finish before they get home.  I can probably get away with 11am; there would be time for 30 minutes of rest, or time wasted and I could be leaving by 5:30.  Their son and daughter in law are arriving tonight from Taiwan, so there’s no telling what their schedule will be.  What time do flights from the other side of the globe usually arrive?  My first guess is late in the evening.  I want to make brownies before leaving but only half of the dishes are washed and I’ve got that funny feeling in my chest.

I went to work yesterday with the intention of working only two or three hours to hold a customer over till I could come for a full cleaning- I wanted to be in good shape for the big final cleaning at the Anthony’s today, but of course I got intoxicated on the after party dirt in the Hat house (they have a collection of hats hanging in the breakfast nook) and ended up rushing through to finish in 4 ¼ hours.  I still must take my dog for a walk and take a quick bath.  I know I will need 30 minutes in the bed before I leave just to keep the shaking down.  Brownies would be so nice.  But with an hour left before time to leave they will have to wait.  I can’t rush anymore.  I can’t fit things in the way I used to, like spreading light or peanut better a little bit farther.  My body rebels at the least expectation of hurrying through life. 

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Luck of the Irish

“If you had the luck of the Irish, you’d be sorry and wish you were dead.
You should have the luck of the Irish, you would wish you was English instead.”  Lennon/Ono

I have taken the day off and resolved (again) to start writing about my life as a housecleaner with Grave’s Disease.  Yesterday was a day of worrying about what my customers think of me.  When my neurology customer asked me how I was feeling and I said fine but shaky, he took my pulse and said it was “a little fast but strong, no fibrillation.”  

To a person free of all but the normal anxiety about paying bills and getting the kid into a decent college that news would be reassuring, but in my case I was robbed of the one physical explanation I had for the mysterious feeling that haunts me under the breastbone and grows to an intense pain in my neck, head and eyes in irregular cycles.  I spent the rest of the day in circular thoughts wondering what was causing the sensation in my chest if it was not related to the heart and resisting the impulse to defend myself against the logical conclusion that I have hypochondria.   By the end of the day I returned to the Wikipedia article on Grave’s Disease that I’ve read twice before and was reminded of the tears that popped from my sore eyes the first time I read it.

It has been my plan for several years to write about my life as a house cleaner and tell the story of how I grew up in the nurturing atmosphere of my customers’ homes, strengthened by their kindness and inspired by their patience.  Now that I have been living for 3 years with the knowledge that I carry this chemical difference, and have had some time to consider the various ways it has affected my moods and behavior, I realize how important it is for someone to tell the story of what it’s like to live with Grave’s Disease. 

Today the awareness that shines most brightly for me is my appreciation for both this condition and modern medical science.  I sometimes say condition because calling it a disease contradicts my feeling that I am lucky to have it.  I am reminded of the students at Gallaudet University who protested the hiring of a hearing person as leader of their institution in 1988, beginning the ‘Deaf President Now’ movement; their demands for a deaf university president raised awareness of a culture that chooses to regard difference as an opportunity rather than a disability.  To receive a diagnosis of Grave’s Disease at the age of 51 after the body has been revved up by the effects of an over active thyroid for many years, is the same as being diagnosed with a mental illness that bears a shameful stigma.  It is handled very much in the same way that people once handled the diagnosis of cancer back in the days when it was a death sentence carefully guarded from the patient.

In other words, I was never told I had Grave’s Disease.  I had to put the puzzle pieces, which by mere chance fell in front of me, together.  If I had not repeatedly sought out available literature and asked questions of medical professionals, and if a friendly radiology technician had not told me the story of a fellow soldier’s mental breakdown, I would never have received an explanation for the wild mood swings and intense bouts of pain that I have lived with for years; I would be just another confused woman unable to control herself.

Mother without a License

When I discovered that I was pregnant at the age of 36, without health insurance, savings, or any other trappings of the corporate dream, I went to the county clinic.  Other than STD clinics I had never patronized medical establishments, but I liked the waiting mothers’ clinic; I liked seeing the various parents and guardians with infants and toddlers that circulated every month, just like me, through the waiting room and lab stations.  Eventually, I even liked being called ‘mom’ by the workers in the clinic, after wrestling with the inner conflict of feeling like a comrade in a state reproductive program and deciding that I could resist the repeated appellation as a social rank or let it help me prepare for the new life I was trying to fathom.  How in the world one of those small turkeys would come out of me was too frightening to consider.  I chose instead to meditate on the variety of women progressing through stages of abdominal growth and scolding restless children, and trust that if they could do it, somehow I would manage too.

Every month I was given two pages with a drawing of the corresponding developmental stage of the fetus.  I loved studying all the information and projecting where I was in my journey to motherhood, I loved telling my guy about the latest scientific gem that I had gleaned from the handouts or a book from the library.  I was uncomfortable accepting the WIC coupons that I was automatically signed up for and found the bureaucratic labyrinth I was subjected to every three months to collect them tedious, but like an embedded journalist I never missed an opportunity to sit in the waiting room and go through the experience of being told how I should plan and prepare meals for my family.  I learned a lot about government funded prenatal care and became a big fan of Jimmy Carter.  It was the last 2 weeks of the pregnancy and delivery that opened my eyes to why the American medical institution is casually demonized by the same people who can’t seem to get enough of it.

Ever since I was literally restrained in a hospital bed for the birth of my son I have been engaged in an uneasy standoff with the institutions that are the pride of the average American and yet the first target for blame when lives are compromised or lost.  This account of my life with a difference called a disease is not an indictment of science, American health care, or the medical community.  It is the story of my effort to make the best of the body I was given, and take pride in the woman I am.

Name Your Poison

Grave’s Disease is a name commonly used in America for the autoimmune condition which causes the thyroid to produce thyroid hormone indiscriminately.  Robert Graves was a revered Irish physician of British ancestry who published a two page article in 1835 describing 3 women suffering from heart palpitations accompanied by enlargement of the thyroid gland.  There are, however, earlier descriptions of the condition in medical literature, including one in the 12th century Thesaurus of the Shah of Khwarazm by Al-Jurjani.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Credible Accounts of Creation

"Assigning intellectual achievements to one culture over another is a process which carries a heavy ideological load."
                                              Tamsyn Barton
                                               Ancient Astrology

My natal saturn had an incredible visit from mars Friday, Nov. 9.  The hour I was born more than 50 years ago Saturn was in the 3rd house (east coast USA) at 25degrees Sagittarius, and I do find that I bring a sober frame of mind to discussions of philosophy.  I like humor and polemic, but at bottom I approach discussions of philosophy and religion with an awareness that they shape institutions.  So I was glad to have spent the several hours leading up to that meeting of phantom and physical planets in Sagittarius with someone who cares deeply about friendly conversation and spirituality.

Western astrology teaches that the spiritual preparation for seeking truth is to enter subjective experience and face with courage and a steady hand that which we find within.  There are usually few if any people in an individual's life that have the will and capability required to accompany them on the journey into their private night.  I was fortunate to be with just such a friend Friday when preparing for the meeting with old philosophical beliefs in the process of being dissolved.  I think of beliefs as not so much things we hold to be true, but ideas which are dear to us; visions that we treasure for their ability to help us make sense of life or lead us to the kind of life we would like to live.  Beliefs to me are ideological treasures luring us into a more beautiful life, one as yet only imagined.

Myths are accounts of how life came to be as we know it, in the context of all existence and nonexistence.  Our ancestors have taken a collective look, over various cultures and countless generations, at what they perceive to be their common origin, the point from which all the miracles and suffering emanate; the first cause. 

This is the purpose of myth, to weave what we know about existence into a memorable story that captures the depth of meaning in what we are experiencing as a race of divinely inspired creatures.  We feel grateful for the gift of life and look for someone to thank, we want to know them, we are drawn into the past in a quest to give a nod of the head to them, maybe to shake their hand; some of us would like to spend time among ancestors listening to their stories, reliving their lives, past, present future in the language of music and poetry, number, nature and change.

We know this human story to extend hundreds of thousands of years into the past within a solar neighborhood that we describe in billions of years, but many of us do not know that there are sacred documents of sister cultures that date back 3,000 years which outline this same story in multiples of billions of years, following and projecting the trajectories of stars above us far into the past and future.  Many of us are not only unaware of, but convinced that no ancestors exist as far back as 3,000 years who could predict the whereabouts in the sky of a star 100 years or 1 year in the future.  We are like the indigenous people of a colonized land that have had our language systematically repressed.  Those of us who are ignorant of astrology are literally an indigenous people colonized and robbed of their native language, unable to discuss fluently our collective knowledge of life.

The language of organic time, of which Plato is a fairly recent philosopher, is widely seen as nothing more than a cheap self help distraction at best or an insidious con game at worst.  Students in American universities are taught the works of Boethius but discouraged from studying the same math and astronomy which he practiced under the guidance of Philosophy, the apparition of redemption who consoled him and lifted him up to the heights of wisdom at the hour of his death.

This is the value of astrology; not predictions, but the consolation of philosophy, the real understanding from the first duality of two particles with opposite polarities to the infinite permutations generated from there to here; all the light, explosions of stars and attractions that come from what we know not and through billions of years created us.  Our real past and future is not secret, it is shamed and stripped of the dignity of poetry, soul and assumed unity and direct inheritance from the ultimate source.  Those who embrace astrology acknowledge their oneness with all that exists past present and future and seek to understand the meaning of life through the humble study of the passage of organic time.

Now this is what I'm talking about when I say I love astrology.  Frankly it makes me feel much more sane than using clocks as exclusive measures of time.  This is the chart for the moment I clicked the send button on the above post.  How can anyone not cling to such a system for evidence of the divine? 

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Our Sky Horoscopes September 2012

Aries:  You are now more than half way to the goal of breaking down barriers (April 2011) at the same time you’ve gotten a more intimate look at the function they serve.  By Sept 3 outsiders seeking to build will look to you for the inside scoop.  Sept 15, 16 you feel the need to invest ephemeral gifts of fortune wisely.

Taurus:  Sept 2 you enter a position of authority on a mission of diplomacy by standing firmly for tender life forms.  Sept 6 you leave the protective atmosphere of the greenhouse for direct access to the sun.  The 21st a hobbit you’ve been sheltering begins granting wishes; 26th you question whether pageantry is for power or edification.

Gemini:   Sept 1-16 will fly by in a blur of uncertainty.  When the boss looks to you for answers Sept 17-21 you’ll have enough fluency to present clear and balanced explanations with your partners.  Sept 26 you soar with eagles.  The 27th restrictions begin to apply as you approach an inescapable task.

Cancer:   A 17 month process of stripping away the distractions of life and drinking deeply of its essence begins Sept 1, just as the survival instinct is focusing on immortality.  Sept 5, 6 your spiritual approach to security will respond to the challenge of carrying life through times of loss.  Sept 12 enjoy a good laugh with someone you love while sorting out what to keep and what to let go.

Leo:  Sept 5-7 you begin putting the puzzle pieces together.  Over the next few months you are in a position to view an upcoming challenge from various angles and test the most promising ideas.  By the 17th you’ll be ready to seek another opinion.  You’ll have the most control Sept 18, 19; and then necessity to prepare for the future will start opposing other interests.

Virgo:  This is a very productive month until Sept 16, 17 when your mind turns to having fun with friends and being creative.  Sept  20, 21 you help someone zero in on the truth by keeping the channels of communication open.  Sept 25, 26 as you approach a long term task there will be strong opinions.

Libra:  The last half of this month if some one looked up the word flawless in the dictionary they would find a paragraph about you, and you even get to celebrate your perfection Sept 22-30 when people will recognize your charm and your creativity.  Next month the god of time leaves your neighborhood; it may take a while to adjust to less responsibility.

Scorpio:  You finally get all the control you crave but it comes with the ball and chain of responsibility.  By Sept 16 you’ll be able to see that 18 wheeler in the rear view mirror and start fiddling with the controls on the radio.  Use what you hear as a prompt to compose and refine your argument.

Sagittarius:  Some people pay to go through mazes and experience the thrill that comes from emerging after the horror of being lost.  Some pay good money to have others do their tax returns.  If intuition is the ability to connect and reorganize experience, then you are building a strong base till Sept 16.  After that you’ll get to compare notes to start composing a map.

Capricorn:  Sept 6-12 leave cares behind and have some fun.  Sept 13-17 study and practice your presentation.  Sept 20 you’ll have the wit and Sept 21 the poise it takes to square off with history and make sure at least two sides are heard.  Sept 23 you’ll still be getting things straight, but people will want to show their appreciation.

Aquarius:  This month you get a good look at what goes on behind the scenes of change.  Complicated deals and power plays that many lack the stomach for will benefit from your dispassionate judgment.  Where others see a corruption of ideals you see inevitable compromise.  Sept 2-4 begins approach to balance and 20, 21 it is reached intellectually.  

Pisces:  The beginning of Sept even if you are not a political pollster, you will be swimming in data.  The 9th and 10th will be passionate hunts for pieces of information and their correct place.  Late on Sept 16 you show someone what you’re doing and the process opens up to wider possibilities.  Tensions are high Sept 20 as competing views face off.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

We Are More American  <----  Click on the blue words to see video with lyrics in spanish and english of a popular Mexican group.  This old post turned up tonight.  Maybe I was going to put the words in the video as subtitles, but see how lazy I have become! I don't know why I did not publish it back then, but I guess I can do it now.

This song was one of the first I heard on the radio ten years ago.  It was very popular.  The group, Los Tigres del Norte, is kind of the patron band of the country, they appear in lots of movies and advertisements.

I just watched the video.  It looks like there was a verse or two more that I did not transcribe and translate.  Reckon I need to get on that.

Monday, August 6, 2012

An Endless Essay for Taurus and Libra

Venus Entering Cancer: A Walk in Cancer’s Shoes for Taurus and Libra Natives

The morning of Aug 7, Venus leaves the sign Gemini where she has been since April and begins a month long journey through the sign Cancer.  First let’s talk about what we mean when we say a planet enters the sign Cancer.    

Cancer as Turning Point
Many people know that at summer solstice the sun rises higher in the sky than any other time of year.  The word tropic (as in Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn) comes from the Greek ‘tropicos’ meaning turn.  The summer solstice is the turning point in the ecliptic where we see planets turn from an ascending direction to one that is descending.  I often imagine a Ferris Wheel with the Tropic of Cancer being the position of highest elevation after which the seats begin to return to earth.  Any time a planet is in the first degree of Cancer it is at that point in the ecliptic of highest elevation.

Let’s look at the solar system from above for another perspective:  when we see the sun highest in the sky on June 21 it is because earth is in the point of its yearly trip around the sun where the tilted north pole is pointed toward the sun.  In similar manner any other planet entering the sign Cancer is moving into a position relative to earth where our north pole is leaning toward it, and in our sky we see that planet at the most elevated point of the ecliptic.

So on the morning of Aug 7 (east coast North America) Venus reaches this turning point.  But what does it mean?

Well…the sign before Cancer is Gemini.  In that sign Venus was slowly climbing to the highest point in the band across the sky.  In the case of the sun, we are still benefiting from an increase of its time above the horizon from one day to the next, but that increase is negligible compared to the gain we get in Pisces and Aries.  In those two signs we get about 2 more minutes of light every day, while in Gemini we go, in thirty days, from an increase of 1 minute 28 seconds per day to an increase of only 2 seconds.  Though we are still gaining light, the amount we are gaining is dropping off a little bit with each day.

What we are doing is measuring the amount of energy the earth is receiving from the sun, or other planets, in units of time.  If we imagine the sun’s energy as money going into a bank account, Aries would be the period when money is coming in so fast we can hardly count it, Taurus would be when the income starts to level out, Gemini would be when it slows down so much we start counting and figuring out how much we’ve got, and Cancer would be when the money starts to trickle out instead of coming in.  When any planet is in the sign Cancer, the time it spends above the horizon (in the northern hemisphere) diminishes a few seconds with each degree it moves forward.

Planetary Rulers Tell Who is in Charge
OK, I'm not beating around the bush, all this is to give some mechanical basis for the meaning of the zodiac signs.  With that information we turn to which planets are in charge of each sign- just like priests being in charge in churches, teachers in the classroom, and cashiers at the register, there are planets recognized as the ‘rulers’ of various signs based on the nature of their cycles.  The sign Gemini, where many small adjustments occur, is ruled by Mercury, the yo-yo planet that we see pass back and forth never far from the sun.  Mercury is associated with the mind, our ability to create within ourselves a facsimile of our changing environment. 

So while Venus is in Gemini she is ruled by Mercury, the planet of the mind, or basic intellectual processes.  Taurus and Libra have both been occupied with the Gemini process of gathering and filing information since April while Venus has been in Gemini.  I should back up here and explain for those who are unfamiliar with planetary rulerships that Taurus and Libra are both governed by Venus- so following Venus for them is like checking in with the boss.  When the boss is in her own office she has more control, but when she leaves it she comes under the influence of whoever is in charge of the office she is passing through.  During most of March, Venus was passing through Taurus and so able to rule her own territory.  People born when the sun was in Taurus or Libra enjoyed a short month of inner peace and friendship while the ruler of partnership was keeping melodious order in the house.  When Venus had to leave one of her homes (remember she also rules Libra) in April and begin her extended trip through Gemini she came under the influence of Mercury.  So if Venus has been getting her cues from Mercury- let’s look at what Mercury’s been doing.

Looking Back on Venus’ Trip through Gemini
(But First-We Define Pisces)
On April 3, when Venus first entered Gemini, Mercury was in Pisces, the last sign of the Zodiac where energy is seriously building up like the engines firing on a rocket as it begins lift off.  In the case of the sun passing through the ecliptic- (an aside here- we use the sun’s cycle to define the zodiac not just because it is the main source of energy in our system, but also because its cycle is the most consistent….every other planet (except the moon) stops and reverses course at some point in its cycle with earth…the sun marches at a fairly steady rate through the zodiac as we steadily circle it)—OK, back to the sun passing through the ecliptic… We gain 2 minutes 16 seconds of light every day for the last 10 days that the sun is in Pisces.  The ten days before that (sun passes through a sign in 30 days) we get an average of 2 minutes 14 seconds extra each day; and the first 10 days we gain about 2minutes 9 seconds per day.  The sun starts out in the sign Pisces rising quickly in the ecliptic and builds up in those 30 days to its greatest increase in energy units delivered to the northern hemisphere by the time it reaches Spring equinox.  Spring is not just spring because that’s when the sprouts pop out of the earth, it is also spring because that’s when the sun springs up over the celestial equator and ascends the ecliptic.  Pisces on the Ferris Wheel is like the part of the ride where the seats are starting to go straight up.  It is exactly like a ride in an elevator.  This is why the sign Pisces is associated with hope, there is so much energy getting poured into the system after the long winter nights, we can’t help but feel positive. 

So when Venus came under the influence of Mercury April 3, Mercury (the mind) was like a rocket in the early stage of lift off.  The first half of April was positive and hopeful for Taurus and Libra even though their boss was not in complete control.  April 16, Mercury entered the following sign Aries and was officially off the ground and on the way to god knows where.  This is the nature of Aries.  When a planet enters Aries it comes under the influence of high energy Mars and things are happening so fast you can count on surprises good and bad.  Beginning April 16, Taurus and Libra through this chain of command beginning with Venus, passing to Mercury, and finally to Mars because of Mercury in Aries, were in a state of high alert.  They were flexing their mental muscles eager to take on any challenge.

May 9, Mercury entered Taurus and all of a sudden the control, though indirect, was handed back to Venus.  Venus was still in Gemini and under Mercury’s rule, but Mercury was in her sign so looking to her for guidance.  They became a cooperative team, consulting with each other.  Taurus and Libra got a chance to calm down and turn their attention away from self assertion and crisis management, to more relaxed consulting on how to keep things running smoothly.

By May 24, when Mercury moved into Gemini, where it actively rules, Venus was on its way to passing between earth and sun and so appeared to be going backwards.  (It is because of this apparent backward motion that we saw Venus in Gemini for 4 months while she spent less than 30 days in Taurus.)  May 24 began a period of rapid and prolific information processing for Taurus and Libra.  But that was not to last long; on June 7 Mercury flew into Cancer, and I say flew because the little yo-yo planet was still on the far side of the sun where we see its relative motion at high velocity.  If we go back and count from May 24- June 7, the total number of days Mercury took to pass through the sign Gemini was only 14!  When Mercury hit the sign Cancer it was just slowing down at the same time it was peaking at the summer tropic; it was entering the sign ruled by the moon.  So Venus, still in Gemini, was now being ruled, through a chain of command going through Mercury, by the moon.  June 8-25, while Mercury was in Cancer, Libra and Taurus natives got an indirect preview of what’s coming tomorrow Aug 7, they got a chance to think like Cancer.  That’s not the same as their ruler being under the lunar influence, it was more a witnessing than walking in the same shoes, an observation of what it is like to experience the gravity of the moon.

June 26 Mercury entered Leo and the party for the mind began.  While the sun was in Cancer the party was sketchy, because the moon ultimately had the reigns, everything depended on the mood of the moment.  July 22, when the sun entered Leo, the party of the mind was unstoppable.  Libra and Taurus through Venus’ answering to the basic intellect were approaching things from a more spiritual level.  The conscious mind began running the show instead of an urge to make a partnership work.  This handing over control to the ego can seem less spiritual, unless we see spirituality as being true to our individual destiny as opposed to the pull of relationships.

Today mercury is completing its passage between us and the sun in the sign Leo.  Leo is the fun sign.  It is like the part of the Ferris Wheel ride where everyone is dropping down and screaming.  The sun rules the sign Leo.  We feel intensely alive at that point of dropping, we are hysterically laughing at our own fear, we are cresting on the outgoing energy that came from the sun-Leo.  The sun is now (Aug 6) in its place of power and mercury is nearby at the celebratory banquet, they are both in the sign Leo.

Leo is a place of strength.  No king or queen rules forever, no summer is endless.  But summer is summer, and Mercury (Gemini’s boss), now so close to the sun is in this place of spiritual strength and power.  The mind is under the influence of the spirit (Sun in Leo), enjoying what it can do, like a child enjoying the long days of summer.  This happiness of the mind impacts Taurus and Libra as long as Venus (their boss) is in Gemini. 

Looking forward to the Next 30 Days of Venus in Cancer
As soon as Venus hits that turning point of Cancer it comes under the influence of the moon instead of Mercury.  From where we are, the moon is a whole lot faster than even liquid mercury and a lot bigger.  The moon, because it is so close to us has a major impact on our lives from one moment to the next.  Think of a baby, so small, so incapable of sustaining its own life, but so important to its parents because of life’s connection.  The moon is the soul, it is our connection to other lives.  Taurus and Libra will go from an intellectual focus to a focus on others, and get swept up in the gravity of emotions. 

Following the Moon Aug 7-Sept 6
Let’s take a quick look at some of the many changes the moon goes through in its path through the ecliptic in one month:

The morning of August 7th the moon will be in the high energy sign Aries; so the planet of stability and balance will come under the pull of others at a time when emotions are in a state of excitement.  This is very similar to the crisis people experience at the birth of new life.  But by sunrise Aug 8, the moon will be in Taurus, and disturbing emotions will be grounded in useful tasks for the next two and a half days.  The night of Aug 10, when the moon in is Gemini and lining up with distant but very large Jupiter there will be a chance to review the new landscape.  The moon’s proximity to Jupiter will infuse emotions with an expansive sense of hope and purpose.  That sense of hope should carry for the next two days.

The morning of Aug 13 the moon will be in Cancer lining up with Venus.  This will be the point when Taurus and Libra feel the strongest attachment to others.  It will be like the magic that happens when friends are on a raft in the middle of the great Mississippi, weightlessly traveling toward their next adventure, two hearts beating as one.

By lunch time Aug 15 the moon will be in Leo and something we have not talked about will be impossible to ignore- Mars lining up with Saturn.  This passage of the moon thru the territory of the ego will intensify the test of will subjected to discipline of the Mars/Saturn conjunction.  Bonds formed from Aug 7 till the 14th will be strained.  The needs of survival and individuals will supersede those of connectedness.  Mercury, still in the sun’s sign, will speak to the moon of how much fun our own thoughts are, how creative we are when we shine our own light- and there goes happily ever after.  The child in our raft mate (every one has a child in them) is after our attention and we would rather be shining our own light, but they will not stop till they get a reaction.  At this point our ability to laugh and be entertained will be most important.  We have to be able to look in the eyes of that other person we are connected to and see another light, a different light that holds our attention.

Skip to the night of Aug 17 when the crisis has had its way with us and the moon enters Virgo.  Here we become students, if we imagine ourselves still on that raft, we are now analyzing our partner, our surroundings, recent activity.  It is a time to adjust to the reality that surrounds us on either shore of the river, to discuss how we can cook the fish differently to improve the quality of life on the raft.

When the sun rises Aug 20th the moon will be in Libra, and on the night of the 21st it lines up with Mars and Saturn.  Mars will have completed its alignment with Saturn but they will still be close.  It is as though the moon’s passage through this area brings added gravity and reflective new light to the crisis of Aug 14-16.   

Cancer’s View
Here I want to shift to the perspective of Cancer natives, who are gaining sympathetic companions with this transit of Venus into their sign.  As Taurus and Libra natives are dipped in the healing waters of love, Cancer becomes like a minister whose flock has gained members.  People who normally take pride in their ability to stand on their own two feet (Taurus), or see friendship as an agreement instead of a life and death bond (Libra) are given over to the lunar influence which governs the lives of Cancer natives.  Until we are at the top of that Ferris Wheel about to take gravity’s plunge we have no idea what it is like to live life as a Cancer.  Just as childless adults are baffled at the emotions that transform parents, many of us cannot understand the powerful emotions that drive Cancer natives.  We can’t understand their fears.  We cannot see the edge of the cliff where they stand looking at the ground wayyy down below.

So, for the month from Aug 7- Sept 6 while Venus is in Cancer, Taurus and Libra sun people will get a taste of what it’s like to be a Cancer- and Cancer natives will get the support of willing partners working beside them and witnessing the reality of what they live with every day.

Return to the Following Moon
Back to following the moon through this month when Taurus and Libra join the Cancer club as honorary members- Aug 22 the day begins with the moon in Scorpio.  When the moon is in Scorpio the time it spends above the horizon has diminished markedly from when it was in Cancer.  While the moon was in Cancer it was above the horizon for more than 14 hours a day, Aug 22, when it enters Scorpio, it is above the horizon for less than 11.  We have less time of conscious awareness of our feelings and the period of unconscious awareness is increasing.  We are now looking at the feelings under the surface.

The moon reaching Sagittarius at sunrise Aug 24th, is a critical stage in the Cancer walk; the moon is preparing to ‘bottom out’ in the lowest energy point of the cycle.  I often think of Sagittarius as the point on the Ferris Wheel ride where the seats are close enough to the ground that riders can see the network of power cables supplying the push that gets all those rides to spin and whirl.  Then I picture a tube of toothpaste that looks empty- how if you’re not careful a big blob will squirt out when you roll that envelope up thinking there is hardly anything left in there.  Sagittarius is about directing the diminished incoming energy to achieve the most effect.

It happens that the later signs are occupied by two outer planets; Pluto is in Capricorn for the next several years and Neptune is in Pisces till 2025.  Once the moon passes through Scorpio/Sagittarius and enters the ‘mature’ signs occupied by slow moving planets, emotions will be affected by wider ranging issues related to the longer term flow of history.  The night of Aug 26 the moon will be approaching lineup with very distant and small Pluto. 

Returning to the journey on the raft, when the moon is conjunct Pluto the night of Aug 26 it will be like getting a sense of what’s on the bottom of the river.  How deep is it?  What is making the water change course in areas where there is no visible obstruction?  In Capricorn we are at the lowest point of the energy cycle.  All we have is what’s been saved and built up.  The plunge has been taken, emotions have spun out, and here we begin the process of rebuilding.  We pull ourselves together, control our emotions, and do what needs to be done.  By dinner time Aug 27 when the moon opposes Venus, Taurus and Libra can see how much stronger they are because of the bonds they have formed with others; they will be 3/4ths of the way through the month long journey walking in the shoes of Cancer, and have enough experience to make a sober assessment of love’s power to heal and nurture life.  

As the moon moves on to Aquarius the afternoon of Aug 28, consciousness will be lifted out of the body, up above the treetops where we see the river’s water going to sea.  Though Venus is still in the moon’s sign, and under lunar rule, the moon will be in a place of detached observation.  If we turn again to the image of the Ferris Wheel, Capricorn and Aquarius are the two signs at the very bottom, where we find the mechanic insuring that the system runs smoothly.  There is no sense of danger or adventure for the self; thoughts are on the safety of everyone, and the integrity of the machinery.

At sunset Aug 30 the moon will be full and lined with distant Neptune.  Aug 30- Sept 1 are the days assigned to compassion in this Pisces stretch of the month long journey.  As the moon climbs toward the equinoctical midpoint it spends an increasing amount of time above the horizon. There is a sense of being lifted up in the sign Pisces that infuses us with hope. 

When the sun rises Sept 2, the moon will be back in the high energy sign of Aries.  This is where it was when Venus first entered Cancer on Aug 7.  But this time around the sun and Mercury will be in studious Virgo instead of pleasure seeking Leo, and the trial of Mars contacting Saturn will be a known event in the past instead of an unknown event to come.  Martial drive will be in a position of quiet power, instead of having to bow graciously to necessity.

But the most interesting aspect of Sept 2 will be Venus coming to a place 90 degrees behind Saturn.  While energy is over the top with the moon contacting Uranus in Aries, Venus will be teaching authoritative Saturn a lesson about the importance of love in balancing the scales of justice.  I wonder if this means Taurus and Libra will have to stand up to some one and challenge them to a more loving interpretation of fairness. Cancer will certainly be prepared to speak up as they always are when kindness is an issue, and they will appreciate the support of allies.

By the afternoon of Sept 4 things will be more grounded with moon in Taurus.  At this point Venus is in the last couple degrees of the sign Cancer, Mercury is almost across from earth on the far side of the sun and moving fast.  Minds will be sparking and there will be lots of activity around documentation.  The month of Taurus and Libra walking the path of Cancer will be over by lunch time Sept 6- Venus will enter Leo and the tender lessons learned about love will now seem like child’s play.  It will be time for Taurus and Libra to shine and have some fun. 

Wrap up
Before I sign off this interminable post I want to say one more thing to Taurus and Libra- Venus has been in Gemini since April, that’s 4 months of wonder and amazement at the variety of the universe.  You are about to be carried on the wave of life instead of observing it, to leave the detached world of ideas and enter as a participant into the flow of events.  Beliefs will cease to be things you study like a naturalist, or theories to advocate among cohorts; they will propel you forward, and by the actions you take, reveal what matters most to you.

Taurus natives will be amazed and intrigued at the direction they take.  Librans (as if they haven’t been doing this for the last two years) will feel the responsibility of following through and standing up for others.       


Wednesday, August 1, 2012

August 2012 Horoscopes

Aries:  An infectiously upbeat attitude becomes more vulnerable on the 7th.  While diplomatic tensions peak with a sobering test of courage Aug 13-15, kindness will rule and fairness will be appreciated.   From 1:30 pm Aug 22- 11:30 am Aug 23 you have a brief chance to strategize without repercussions, after that you are the pilot on a private mission.

Taurus:  Aug 7 you answer the door and find an alien infant in a basket making disturbing noises.  The next day the feeling of crisis will give way to the routine of life support.  By the 13th you’ll see how caring for others is as indispensable to life as leaves on trees.  This month’s crisis is a chance to find out what you’ve learned and which skills you want to sharpen.

Gemini:  On Aug 7 the harmonizing influence stabilizing your life since April will move on at the same time your creativity becomes free to explore further afield.  You are in a good position at the middle of the month to gain philosophical or musical understanding from contractual tensions.   This month’s challenge to gracefully fulfill an obligation under pressure is a chance for Gemini to shine.

Cancer:  A relationship that’s been casual and intellectual since April will become more familiar after Aug 7.  You are a mother coyote this month, caring for a pack on the edge of civilization.  Religious rules about eating are institutions to preserve certain alliances.  The more scarce the resources, the more a pack must encourage discipline.  Aug 13-15 you are encourager in chief.

Leo:  Leo’s are exceptional teachers because their reverence for casual conversation elevates it to a higher level.  They spark beauty with openhearted enthusiasm to sharing ideas.  Aug 7 begins a tour spreading the gospel of pleasure; Aug 16 early risers see Jupiter, Venus and maybe even Mercury rise before the sun.  Your community rewards you for preserving traditions.

Virgo:   In 1848 when tax exemption for the nobility was abolished in Hungary, The Married Women’s Property Act was passed in New York, and the first Women’s Rights Convention was held; sorting out the language and helping define the aims of these social movements was tedious and largely thankless work…but everyone involved thought the dream was worth it.  We’re in a similar time, and starting late on the 22nd, attention to details will bring new visions into clearer focus.

Libra:  The skill most respected in politicians, teachers, and business owners is the ability to compromise and to cooperate with a wide variety of personalities, to strike a deal with a friendly hand shake.   A strong wind does not destroy structures designed over time to receive the force, and the rest will get a chance for renewal.

Scorpio:  After Aug 23 truths will become secrets waiting to get free.  Before that you will have no control, but perfect opportunity to decide which truths are most vulnerable and how to protect them.  Pickled, salted, or is mummifying the only option available for the time frame involved?

Sagittarius:  Somewhere between 1995 and 2008 you shed innocence.  Some people toss it like a shirt on the bed, others fold it up and put it in a closet hoping one day to reclaim it.  Some people fleeing oppression leave innocence in the woods and grab whatever clothing will let them pass unmolested.  This year you feel as blessed to look back on that process as a historian who finds witnesses.

Capricorn:  Aug 13-15 is time for baptism in the waters of religion, history, and tribal myth.  The more we know about the roots of traditions, the less we are slaves to self destructive belief systems.  Aug 1-22 get the word out and keep as many parties at the table as feasible; after that start privately strategizing for various outcomes.

Aquarius:  The first of the month an organizing principle balances theatrical flare, and the end of the month it gives ideas for adjusting the script.   Emerging developments Aug 5, 6 should be interesting when the moon lines up with your planet (Uranus) in Aries.  Aug 15-18 look like a lot of fun as the moon passes mercury.   

Pisces:  Aug 3,4 and 30,31 are good days for flights of pure imagination outside graduated cylinders. Aug 11 your tender sense of luck this year is highlighted.  Tension is high Aug 15-17, but Aug 22-26 the sun opposing Neptune highlights clarity, and the moon illuminates exiles in healing  institutions.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

We are Living in a Spherical World

One of the most damning ‘observations’ made of astrologers, by defenders of modern objective science, is that they make decisions based on how the planets are aligned.  Aside from the obvious corollary of making a thousand daily decisions based on the motions of a mechanical device that crows from beside the bed, this reminds me of the doctor who forcefully asserts that levothyroxine made in a lab is eggsactly like what your thyroid makes.  Thus speak the righteous scientists.  And then there’s religion.  But of course its all political to me.  Its all political to me.

But then I think love is political.  I think love is a highly charged political action.  Like, who you love is a political choice.  I think a lot about the politics of love- what rules a society imposes on acts of love.  What makes an act of love illegal?  Are acts of love privileges which require license?  Driving a car is a privilege.  Like a lot of privileges, driving is taken for granted by those who have a license.  But many of our neighbors are denied a license to drive.  Why do we deny people a license to drive?  A license to enter our country?  Why is it ok to have our cookie and appliance factories in Mexico?  Is it because the labor and environmental laws there are more favorable to corporations and work is mas barata.  All life is basically cheap there.  Death is where the money is.  Down in Mexico guns are illegal, but we don’t respect their border and let them flow across freely, so they have heads literally rolling in the streets.  Gun control rules in Mexico.  Guns are big in Mexico, like they are in Russia, Afghanistan- where else do we see guns in the streets, strapped over the shoulders of people in public (usually men).  How did those guns get there?  Where did those madrassa students get all their weapons and pick up trucks?  Where did the money come from?

Right, though, we’re talking about those stupid (stupid!) astrologers (how could they be so turned off by reality?  How hard they work at weaving their stories of la la land!)  And when a prediction comes out wrong, they just change the date.  They are worse than prostitutes and we can’t seem to get rid of them.  But people give them their hard earned money!!  They are worse than high interest credit card offers and pawn shops.  They are worse than NASA, the EPA, and ICE combined; astrologers just want to run our lives and it’s a real shame to see people get caught up in that bull.

Well, the moon is catching up with mars in libra today.  This is like the visit of a loved one or the food truck at the camp.  Mars is really showing off his most charming side this month whether he or she likes it or not.  It is really important to see mars in the females in your life as well as the males.  The will to survive is strong in every one.  Right now we are actually starting in on a wrap up of almost thirty months of gaining a sobering understanding of fairness.  Saturn will soon descend even further down the ecliptic, below the celestial equator.  This month mars is catching up with the old one, and today, the swiftly changing moon.  All three in libra-saturn, mars and the moon.

Mars will catch right on up beside Saturn about Aug 16.  When that happens the sun, moon and mercury will be in leo, with venus in cancer.  That should be fun. 

The new moon was beautiful last night.  How could any people who follow the moon believe the earth is flat?  It is when the moon is really new, or really old and all we can see lit up is a curved sliver, like a tiny blanket of light on the bottom side of a Christmas tree ornament, perfectly curved, illuminated by a candle from a lower branch; that it is obvious we live in a spherical world.