Three white candles in the middle of dried vines.

Of Brown Moths and Synchronicities

Literally minutes after I finished writing the previous, I hit “Schedule” and got up to do my usual nighttime ablutions. I’m standing there, trying to rinse the soap out of my eyes because I am a fool who couldn’t properly use a facial brush if my life depended on it, when something suddenly flies into my field of vision.

“Holy crap,” I responded, followed by a, “WHO told you?!”
(NB: “Who told you” is how I react to pretty much anything that surprises or displeases me, and also many things that don’t. They are good words for when you don’t have any better ones, like when a moth pings off of the side of your face, lands on your mirror, and acts all huffy about it.) 

It was a little brown moth. Not the sort of pantry moth I might’ve expected, though it was equally small and nondescript. If I had to guess, I would peg it as a Macaria aemulatariathough I didn’t really stick around to check its license or anything. I said goodnight, and got into bed.

That’s when I noticed that I had a new email alert on my phone. The Bloggess put up a new post: The silver moth. Her post is beautiful — full of love, kindness to a wayward moth that found its way into a pool, and memories of her grandfather. She talks about moths as representations of faith, and sphinx moths, specifically, as omens of death. It made me curious about my little brown moth. It wasn’t a sphinx, but it might be a good idea to find out if Common Angle Moths are omens of anything unpleasant. The timing struck me, and life doesn’t have many coincidences.

In dreams, brown moths are said to represent love and attraction. Moths, in general, are symbols of faith, transformation, psychic awareness, vulnerability, and adaptation, among other things. To some, they are omens of good luck. To others, bad luck. Coming on the heels of the cards I drew, I was at least happy to see that small brown moths seem to be a sign of more good things than bad… The kind of things I need to hear right now.

I’m grateful to the little brown moth that wandered its way into my bathroom. I’m grateful that The Bloggess rescued that silver moth, and I wish peace and good things for her and her family. I’m happy that I have another little message of hope, even if it did startle the everloving crap out of me and then sit on my mirror and look at me like it was my fault.

Advertisements
Don't be fooled. These are the soulless eyes of a kidnapper.

The time I was a monkey hostage.

I grew up in an area that, by the standards of my home state, wasn’t exactly affluent. Nonetheless, we had the good fortune to be located near a main road that ran from a major city, through my town, out to several areas that were considerably richer than my neighborhood. This street had some really neat shops — excellent restaurants, fantastic consignment and thrift stores, and even a store dedicated entirely to dollhouse miniatures. (I used to go there to get things to outfit the stable my grandpa made for me for my model horses. The man is a wizard with a saw.)

One of my favorite shops was a pet store. It had a room full of friendly, inquisitive parrots of every description, another full of exotic fish and anemones, and plenty of other cages full of exotic animals — hedgehogs, a toucan, I even remember a kinkajou. The shop was run by a very nice family, and, as far as I know, staffed entirely by the owners’ children. All of the animals seemed to be healthy, well cared for, with the kind of outgoingness that comes from regular handling.

My family wasn’t very well off, so going to this pet store was an outing just as much as going to the zoo might be. We rarely bought anything more than a bag of cat or dog food, but it was fun just to walk through and look.

I remember going one year when I was around four or five, maybe six. It was winter, and cold enough that I had on a lavender knit cap, a matching puffy coat, and a set of mittens on a string. I was walking past a row of cages, peeking in to see what my wide tiny child eyes could see.

Capuchin monkeys!

The cage was large, especially to me, and I don’t know how many it housed. They clambered over the branches suspended between the bars, spun rainbow-colored blocks strung on a jute rope, and sat watching the passing customers with their shiny, shoebutton eyes and fistfuls of half-chewed monkey biscuits in their paws.

Don't be fooled. These are the soulless eyes of a kidnapper.

Don’t be fooled. These are the soulless eyes of a kidnapper.

I don’t remember how it happened — I wasn’t actually that close to the cage. All I remember is turning away to look at a group of guinea pigs, and seeing a long, slim, black-haired arm snake into my view. A split second later, pairs of tiny hands pulled my hat down over my eyes and yanked me back against the bars. In the tiny sliver of light at the bottom edge of my hat, I could see more pairs of hands, arms, and even a few tails holding my coat.

“Um.” My mouth immediately went dry. I had the sneaking suspicion this would somehow be my fault, and I was almost as afraid of yelling and startling the monkeys into starting up a cacophony as I was of my mom spotting me and starting one at home. “H-help?”

I couldn’t see much, and my arms were stuck out like the kid in A Christmas Story. I was starting to panic, but also worried about struggling and accidentally hurting a monkey. Their little arms looked so spindly and fragile — deceptively so for something capable of restraining an entire kindergartner. I would’ve felt guilty for the rest of my life if I accidentally hurt one. I had also seen enough “U BREAK IT, U BUY IT” signs in other stores to foresee this ending badly. I didn’t know how much a monkey cost, but I knew we couldn’t afford one.

Help.”

I could feel the panic rising. What if I didn’t manage to get free? What if they stole my hat and I got in trouble for losing it? What if the monkeys tried to eat me? I turned my head frantically, hoping I could clear my vision enough to spot another customer, one of the employees, anyone whose attention I could try to get to help me out of my incredibly dumbass predicament.

Was this a hostage situation? Would they let me go for a banana? I didn’t even know monkey ransom was a thing, let alone had the foresight to bring anything I could use to barter for my freedom. I didn’t think my mom did, either, unless the monkeys were willing to negotiate for some Trident wrappers and half a pack of Marlboro Lights.

HELP.”

It took awhile for my mom to find me. Baffled, she started trying to pull me free before giving up and going to get one of the owners. It took both of them and the work of several patient minutes of prying away tiny fingers to free me, while monkey bedding and the remains of chewed-up biscuits rained down on us. The capuchins seemed to think this was hilarious.

In the end, I did (perhaps unsurprisingly) manage to get free. No monkeys were harmed, and my hat was only slightly unraveled. We still went to that pet store for years afterward, but I did stop wearing hats there.

Three white candles in the middle of dried vines.

The Wild Unknown called me an oyster and I don’t know how to feel about that.

Part of being Pagan, for me, is seeing the sacred in everything. I’ve seen some people arrive there because they were raised that way. Others arrive there after a crisis. From the unsprouted embryonic leaves in a seed (tiny, but strong enough to split a rock), to the chaotic force of a tornado, there is a majesty and a power in everything.

I am reminding myself of this because I do not want to be an oyster.

Don’t get me wrong — there’s nothing wrong with oysters. Farmed oysters are the most sustainable, least ethically objectionable source of animal protein. They turn bits of sand into pearls. Their shells are neat. They’re not exactly great judges of character, but they could be worse. They are basically questionably sentient water nuts filled with goo. It’s fine.

Still, as I was shuffling my new copy of The Wild Unknown oracle deck the other day, I had my hopes up. What energy would it help me connect with? A wolf? Lion? Maybe a snake?

An oyster.

“Surprise, nerd.”

Nah.

(I’ll level with you, this feels like a bit of hypocrisy considering my inward criticism of certain sectors of new age spirituality — like that nobody ever seems to have a dung beetle or a pantry moth as an animal guide.)

I don’t necessarily not want to be an oyster because I think they’re gross or boring, mind. They remind me of a sinus infection and aren’t exactly the kind of thing I’d want to hear Sir David Attenborough discuss at length, but still.

The Wild Unknown describes oysters as patient and persistent, but likely to hide things. They can be shy and withdrawn, and suffer from self-doubt. “When the oyster card appears, it’s important to reveal your inner treasures.” When in balance, oysters are generous and masterful. When they’re not, they are reluctant and silence themselves. To bring things back into balance, making yourself share something helps.

So, tomorrow, I’m gonna share you a thing.

 

 

Rooting Spider Plant Pups

Let me preface this by saying that I love my cat.

He’s a huge, sweet, orange doofus, albeit a surprisingly bright doofus. He’s learned a number of verbal commands, like “sit,” “up,” and “off” (even if he thinks “off” means “stop what you’re doing and run over to flop your gigantic butt on me”). There is one thing he hasn’t learned, and, at this point, I’m not sure he’s ever going to.

Don’t eat plants.

I don’t have poisonous plants. The only toxic ones I have are those that contain calcium oxalate crystals, and are more accurately described as “really irritating.” I also keep my plants well out of his way.

… Or so I thought, until I walked into the bathroom and spotted one of my lovely spider plant pups laying in the bathtub. Fortunately, they’re neither toxic nor irritating, because this pup was also very chewed.

This spider plant has a ton of offsets, so one isn’t really a great loss. Still, I managed to find it soon enough, and the roots were more or less unscathed, so I figured I’d see if I could save it. Luckily, spider plants are like goldfish plants, ghost plants, and pothos in that they’ll root with a snap of your fingers.

Close-up of spider plant pup root nodes.

These little nubs at the base of the offset will develop into roots.

(more…)

Cat relaxing in a car harness.

Have Familiar, Will Travel. Part I: “THEY ALL SAID I WAS MAD!”

Note: I link to some products here, but I’m not getting compensated for anything. Trust me, I don’t think any of these companies actually wanted to be associated with this idea.

This was not the post I planned to write.

This was not the week any of us planned to have.

Let me start from the beginning.

Neither my S.O. nor I have family in the area. I left the house I grew up in pretty much the second I was legally old enough to do so, and have moved wherever the wind blew me more times than I can count. He left home for college and job opportunities, to pursue his dreams. The end result is that we’re here pretty much alone, though his family has always been just a phone call away when we needed them. Unfortunately, this awesome family sustained a terrible loss.

Tl;dr: With pretty short notice, we had to find a way to get to a funeral in Mississippi.

We looked up plane tickets — $857 worth of no luck.

We looked up Amtrak — 44-odd hours of no luck.

He didn’t want to be away from home for too long if he could help it. I didn’t want to leave our cats alone if I could help it. We’ve had them for a little over a year and, in that time, we’ve discovered that Pyewacket needs more daily mental stimulation than a human toddler, and Kiko has separation anxiety that will make her try to destroy doors and hit the road in a bid for a Homeward Bound-esque reunion. Since they are both rescues, we also didn’t want to put them through the experience of being taken and dropped off in a kennel-like boarding facility. We also haven’t had to use a sitter in the past, so we didn’t really have anyone we knew well enough to trust them with.

(By the way — If anyone tells you cats are independent creatures, laugh at them. Laugh the high, gibbering laughter of the mad.)

We love them, but they are weird, weird animals. Ultimately, we decided that the simultaneously-most-sensible-yet-most-ludicrous solution would be to take the cats on a road trip.
Yeah, I know.

Two cats. Five states. One car.

It should be noted that these nerds hate being in carriers. They had a vet appointment for some boosters and a general yearly checkup two days before we left, where they sat in the waiting room growling at each other, Pye hissed at everything, and the vet came right out and said, “Yeah, this trip? It’s a pretty bad idea.”

Nevertheless, I kept on keeping on with my dumbass plans.

I’m not gonna lie, this was a long, strange journey. My S.O. was a surprise pallbearer. We visited a rad occult shop in Memphis. Mississippi poisoned our car. I’m going to have to break this up to keep it from turning into some kind of novella.

(more…)