Winter came to the Tabernacle suddenly. Dooley, our 12 year old long-haired border collie had gotten so overweight last summer–so much that Elizabeth and I put him on a diet. After some weeks on the diet, he failed to lose any weight and strangely (for Dooley, at least) seemed to lose his legendary appetite, so we took them to the veterinarian. His enormous weight was apparently not related to his eating, but to a huge, untreatable tumor that had filled his abdomen. The poor dog had to be put down. He was only 12: a sweet-tempered and loyal friend, always willing to lick up anything you managed to spill on the floor that was edible. We miss him a lot.
Then a few weeks later, Roscoe, our faithful 15 (maybe even 16) year old smooth-haired border collie left for the Summerland himself, probably looking for Dooley, or maybe a stick or a ball. That wasn’t unexpected, though. He’d had a pretty good run. I’m not sure if the shock from the loss of our “boys” has been greater for Elizabeth and me, or for Moira, our slightly younger Irish wolfhound-Afghan. It’d been been a tough few weeks. With only an aging wolfhound left, it’s pretty quiet around here. Why do I get the feeling we may be in the market for a puppy? It’s just too quiet around here.
This year we decided to try something new at the Tabernacle, a sort of “Thanksgiving for Orphans,” for church members with no families or small families. Let’s face it, Thanksgiving is a major cultural secular holiday, but cooking a huge turkey for 1 to 4 people is a lot more work than most of us are willing to tackle, so we decided to create one big family. We had a gigantic Thanksgiving dinner at the Tabernacle that included several turkeys, a big ham and all the usual fixin’s (lots of side dishes that were brought by the attendees). The few left-overs went home with everyone there. A good time was had by all, and we’ve been asked if we are willing to do it again next Thanksgiving. We probably will.
Soon enough, Yule loomed over the horizon and was upon us, and we did the “full-meal-deal” again! After the customary Yule spiritual church service, we all sat down in the new dining room to a sumptuous Yule meal – more turkeys, ham and the works. We’re blessed to have benefitted from the culinary skills of Katia, Gina, and Elizabeth (E’bet), who all worked together furiously in the kitchen and managed to bring it all together without stepping on each other’s feet or frazzling anyone’s nerves. The meal was amazing, and afterwards, to aid digestion there was a visit from Father Yule, who distributed the presents. Everyone had been asked to bring a small wrapped gift, a household or magical item they wished to give away, rather than something they went out and purchased for the occasion. You always have something you don’t really want anymore, but don’t want to get rid of either. Everyone went home with something new (to them) in their pocket, although not necessarily always something expected.
Elizabeth’s shoulder and back injury issues and my own myriad of age-related physical and breathing problems, as well as my inability to go very far beyond the end of my oxygen hose, has severely impacted our ability to do what our normal day to day chores around the property, though it didn’t slow us down terribly at Thanksgiving and Yule. Enter: Rodney. I’m sure everyone remembers Rodney, the carpenter/builder who donated many months of his own time to build the addition onto the church over the last couple of years.
Rodney has moved to a small cottage in Index these days, dealing with some infirmities of his own, and has been volunteering his time (occasionally with the help of Ryan G.), to pick up where Elizabeth and I are unable to continue. Things like taking out all the recycling and dumping it in the recycle bins for the trash collectors, helping with any heavy moving, miscellaneous maintenance work around the place, and that sort of thing. He usually shows up at the Tab once a week, with a broad smile on his face, asking what needs to get done, and then cheerfully does it all and perhaps even a little more. Rodney has been wonderful to the church for his efforts in building, and to Elizabeth and me, “filling in” at the things we are increasingly no longer able to physically do ourselves. He’s like another son to me; so much so that perhaps I ought to look into adopting him (although he eats a lot, and at 49, he’s probably a little too old for adoption).
Lady Bella, our Archpriestess, and Dusty are here once again and will remain until after Spring Mysteries Festival. Owing to their crisscrossing the nation by auto several times a year lately, they are having much more contact with our affiliated groups than I ever was able to, and that’s resulting in a lot more affiliate activities and interest in affiliating by new groups. There are four groups in some stage of the process of affiliating right now, including one in Wasilla, Alaska (they can see Sarah Palin’s house from there, and maybe Russia, too!).
Easter week of 2013 will see ATC’s annual Spring Mysteries Festival reappear once again at Fort Flagler State Park (in Washington), for the 28th consecutive year! As before, the story of goddesses Demeter and Her daughter Persephone of ancient Greek mythology changes, yet remains the same, as it has for thousands of years. Every year, it is more moving than before, the classes more interesting, the people becoming friends and our family, expanding evermore.
The dedicated people of the ATC who have made this possible for so many years, be they presenters, organizers, staff, teachers, students, and yes, even kitchen scullery “slaves,” and especially all of you volunteers, deserve all of the credit. The try-outs and script writing is pretty much completed, and rehearsals have already begun by the time you read this. This year’s event has raised more interest than usual, and registrations are far ahead of where they have been in the last few years so early in the process.
The online festival registrations have just been pouring in daily at an unprecedented rate, probably because after several years of using the online registration system, folks seem to be getting the hang of it and no longer having any confusion. (Well, not too much!) A large part of it is also likely to be the result of APs Bella’s cross-country evangelism (if you’ll forgive the word). Of course, mail-in and phone registrations are also still available if you are a little computer-challenged, as many of us still are. I can tell you, it will be something for the record books, and you don’t want to miss it; so register before all the beds in the dorms are sold out! Though I’ve missed SMF due to health problems the last 2 years, I’m not going to miss it this year, for anything!
I am saddened to add that the Washington Pagan community has lost one of its long-time Wiccan elders, Amanda Silvers, a/k/a Sylvana of the Sylvan Grove tradition, after a long battle with illness. While she and I had an occasional disagreement or two over the past 30 years, I am saddened by her untimely passing, and give much credit to all she has done for the community. There are more details about Lady Sylvana elsewhere in Panegyria. Her survivors are faced with enormous medical bills from her long hospitalization and funeral expenses, and welcome any help any of you may be able to provide. Email blackcat711 (a) gmail.com if you are able to help.
– Pete Pathfinder Davis, AP