I have driven passed the VA National Cemetery in Sarasota many, many times without really even noticing it. Yesterday, I felt a sudden compulsion to stop and see it.
It was a moving experience.
Margaret Atwood’s novel Alias Grace was published in 1996. Canadian television based a miniseries on the novel and I watched the six-part series on Netflix. (My version of binge watching is one or maybe two episodes per day. It’s just the way I am.)
Alias Grace is based on an actual murder that occurred in Toronto in 1843. Grace Marks, then probably 16 years old, was convicted as an accomplice to the murder of her employer and his mistress. She claimed to have no real memory of what happened and she was remanded to an insane asylum and later a penitentiary. There were efforts to have her pardoned, but the doctor who evaluates her in the book and the miniseries is fictional.
Margaret Atwood did say about her writing of the book, “The maddening thing about history is that it can leave out the things you most want to know,” I can say the same about the book and the miniseries.
If you are into lots of action, this is not for you. If you enjoy psychological tension and drama, the series will deliver. I liked it very much.
One interesting thing that I read was that the murder does have modern echoes. Grace Marks was an Irish immigrant to Canada and the case did cause some argument about limiting immigration. (They are rapists and murderers.) Is history really just one revolving circle? No forward progress at all? I really don’t want to believe that, but . . .
I went to see a movie with my friend, Ellen. It was Into the West. It was released in 1992, filmed in Ireland, and produced by Harvey Weinstein. Setting that last bit aside, it was an outstanding film.
Two young boys live in the slums of Dublin with an alcoholic father. Their grandfather visits bringing his ability to pass on the oral tradition of Irish myths, an appeal to his son to return with the boys to his rightful place as King of the Travelers, and a magical white horse named Tir na nog.
An unscrupulous police officer steals the horse and sells it to a wealthy man who plans to make even more money showing the horse in jumping exhibitions. The boys, Tito and Ozzy, take the horse back and ride off into the west. It seems Tir na nog may have planned this all along.
Bereft, the father follows after them and finds himself going back to the places and the people he thought he had left behind for good. The police and the wealthy man also follow after them.
The film was shown at the C.G. Jung Society of Sarasota so after tears were dried there was a long discussion about the archetypical motifs and symbolism and Jungian concepts. Intellectual and interesting, but the film was so emotionally touching I just wanted to let the feelings of it wash over me. (I hope Carl Jung would have been okay with that.)
I think this was originally seen as a children’s movie. How sad that we so easily dismiss ancient myths as trivial or childish.
This is not an uplifting book, chronicling as it does a series of cold-blooded murders, dozens of them, committed over a number of years against the Osage Nation in Oklahoma.
It was perfectly acceptable in the Wild West mentality to herd Native Peoples onto reservations of fallow land, but what then to make of this once oil is discovered underneath in the early twentieth century? Well, for one thing, if you are corrupt and greedy you can take advantage of people to make your own fortune. For another thing, if you are J. Edgar Hoover, you can make your reputation on it.
This is not a book that makes me proud of our history. But it is history, and so worth reading.
I made a resolution to be more conscious and conscientious about healthy eating this year. In February I did a cleanse/elimination diet. The cleanse involved eating mostly raw vegetables — the theory being that raw vegetables act like a scrub brush through the digestive system.
Raw vegetables in salad with olive oil and balsamic vinegar
It was an easy cleanse to do because I could eat all the raw vegetables I wanted so I was never hungry although my wrists were a bit sore from chopping and my jaw was a bit sore from chewing. After a week I was very ready for some protein. Then I started slowly adding other foods.
Vegetable soup in chicken broth
Here is what I learned:
Well, dairy is something I limit anyway so no surprise. Fried food — everyone pretty much knows that is not health food. Sure, French fries taste good, but they are not every day fare for me. But gluten — that was a blow. I did not want to believe that it would be an issue. I did not want to be concerned about the foods I love — pasta, bread. Adding those back was pretty dramatic. The almost immediate negative reaction was undeniable.
Spaghetti squash and stir fried vegetables. Good thing I really like my vegetables.
A little wine and a little chocolate don’t seem to be a bother for me so I will be okay!
For those who celebrate Easter, I wish you a happy day.
As with many religious holidays, our celebration of Easter most likely derived from ancient pagan rites and practices. There is Eostre and her totem rabbit, which may have given us the name for the day and, perhaps, chocolate bunnies are a vestige in her memory.
Even beyond that, there are stories that involve death, sometimes torturous death, followed by resurrection, predating the passion of Jesus. That was part of the legend of Ishtar, ancient goddess of fertility and also a fierce warrior who dressed to the nines before entering battle. A precursor to the Easter parade and all the fancy bonnets?
Eggs — well there is the story of the Phoenix, a mighty and mythical bird that dies in a blaze of fire only to be reborn from the egg it had laid itself. Eggs have long been a symbol of new life associated with spring rites.
I don’t know how those awful Peeps got into the mix. I am only sorry now that I can’t stop buying them in protest of their corporate irresponsibility to their workers’ futures.
Easter is not my favorite holiday. I always wanted to be happy celebrating the renewal of life associated with spring, the season of rebirth. My mother was fanatic in her preparations. We went shopping to get a fancy dress, an Easter bonnet, and dressy shoes. I might have liked that, except for the hat. For the entire week before Easter my mother was cleaning and cooking. She put out a huge table of foods — traditional Ukrainian dishes to be blessed by the priest on Saturday night. After church (which often we attended with new dresses under winter coats and dress shoes left at home because we had boots on our feet, springtime not being all that reliable a season in Vermont), my mother would be so exhausted she went to bed and my father would give us our dinner served like leftovers and my sister and my two brothers were always too crazed from candy to really care. I thought it was a let down of a holiday.
When my own kids were little we went to my in-laws for a nice dinner and I enjoyed hiding candy and small toys for an Easter egg hunt. I remember filling two baskets one night before Easter when my kids were teenagers though, and my son was outraged at being treated like a baby that I would think he had any interest in a basket of goodies. Just another big let down as far as I was concerned — my failure to pass along a sense of tradition and celebration.
So there you have it. If you celebrate, enjoy the day. I am going to put on my bathing suit and go sit by the pool.
I recently spotted an eagle family in a pine tree along one of the walks I take. I felt honored to witness this domestic scene — baby in the nest, both mother and father standing guard nearby.
From Pure Spirit
When Eagle appears to you it means that you are being put on notice. Eagle totems appear to inspire (push) you to reach higher and become more than you think you are capable of. They tell you to be courageous and really stretch your limits and see what you can do. They bring a sense of courage and a desire to explore and grow. To dream of a flying eagle or one who is perched high signifies good fortune or victory coming your way. If it scares you or attacks you it means there are some self-imposed limitations you need to push through.
The lesson of the eagle is to take a look from where it sees. You must have the courage to relinquish stale and comfortable habits and beliefs to soar into unknown realms and new realities – continually expanding your view. Now is the time to take full responsibility for your life and be prepared for instant destiny. As your spiritual awareness increases, the positive and negative ramifications will become more immediate and have greater force.
I have been on an elimination diet to try and discover what, if anything, in my diet has been causing recurrent heartburn and acid reflux. I have had heartburn before, but it started being a daily, nearly constant thing. Starting in November of 2016. I was inclined to blame it on another event that took place about that time.
Not watching the news helped some, but I started thinking this was “all in my head” and I should not give a certain individual power over my body and my health. However, today I read this headline in The Washington Post: “Political instability can seriously hurt your health” by William Wan.
A 2013 study cited found that infant mortality increases under Republican presidencies, likely due to increased health care inequalities. Put that in you pipe and smoke it, family values party. Another study found worsened blood pressure and blood glucose levels in adults.
Well. I thought so.
I attend a yoga class here in Venice, Florida, twice a week. The instructor has a very gentle approach. The class is long so she can start out with breathing and stretching, build to more intense poses and then take it into relaxation and restorative poses. She also offers essential oils to those who want to put a drop or two on the mat and cards that set an intention for the practice. I always leave her class in a good mood.
Friday I picked a card that said:
Ask for help. Receiving is an act of generosity
I have always been an independent type — sometimes stubbornly so. It’s a lesson I know I need to keep practicing.
Sit quietly and still.
Feel the embrace of air
gentle against your skin,
the deep intention of the earth
to hold you safely here.
It will hold you.
All the flowing streams of your body —
the clamor on the senses,
the simmering emotions,
the endless chattering mind,
the very essence that is you —
let all that go.
Become aware of the breath,
your own sweet breath in and out,
always the breath, surrender.
With eyes closed, sight goes inward.
Release worry and fear in this moment,
the streams will continue to flow.
Step into this unseen world,
Float in a pool of love and compassion
and know happiness is in your grasp.
The breath guides you to this place
where you cannot stay perhaps,
but where you can always return.