Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Decibel the Parrot, 1986-2015

I thought she would live to be 70 years old. That's what I'd heard that parrots do. When the vet told me she was nearing the end of her lifespan at age 29, I couldn't believe it. I wasn't prepared.

Decibel the parrot died of atherosclerosis on Black Friday. She had had a heart attack two weeks earlier, and I rushed her to the vet. That's how I got the diagnosis. She was given an X-ray that showed fatty buildup in her heart. I got her a prescription of blood thinner, and she was taking it very well twice a day, but it wasn't enough to prolong her existence in the apparent world.

Well, she didn't fly, and she did love her sunflower seeds and snack cakes. Just like a human.

When Decibel was young, my grandfather was alive, and my children weren't born. She came to me as a partly-feathered chick and lived with me all her life. I loved her, but I grew to understand that she was a wild animal forced into an unnatural state of living that was not even remotely close to what she should have had or what she might have been. It's great that she could call for my daughter, say my name, chuckle, cry, sing off key ... but what she couldn't do was soar above the rain forest with her own kind, mate, raise her family, and get all the exercise and proper food her little body required.

Life will be so odd now.

It's not like my whole day revolved around Decibel -- far, far from it -- but she was always in my mind, in my reality, part of the daily routine. She was an antagonist, a source of laughter, an obligation, a friend, a needy child. With all of that removed suddenly, there's quite a void. My mind still expects her to be there. I'm sure it will be that way for awhile.

I buried Decibel the parrot with the poppet Mrs. B made for her, under a young oak tree near the infamous Snobville Pond. There's a bench where I can sit and see her well-hidden resting place (didn't want the resident night critters to dig her up).

I'm still in the close-to-tears phase of mourning. I'm racked with guilt that I didn't spend more time with her ... although I did in these ending years.

I owe an apology to Decibel and to Gaia. Goddess, I was young. I didn't know this "pet" should be a wildling. Forgive me.

Decibel, you did good with what you were given. You did real good, ol' girl. May you have found a Summerland that is 100 percent rain forest, 100 percent of the time.

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Friday, November 06, 2015

Another Goodbye

Welcome to The Gods Are Bored, where we find our mission accomplished! Many bored deities of many pantheons are no longer bored. They have growing praise and worship teams who are seeking to communicate with them genuinely, humbly, and with curiosity. That's all a deity really wants. I should know, I've interviewed dozens of Them.

I've come to an end of the road. I find I have trouble infusing my life -- and this blog -- with the humor that once animated it. But before you bag The Gods Are Bored, pick a year. Any year. I wrote a lot of funny stuff, and it's all still here online. You could literally read me three times a week for five or six years. Some of the political screeds are stale, but the rest of it, the interviews, social commentary, and Pagan child-rearing, hasn't changed. And maybe I'll re-discover my funny bone. There are many reasons that it has disappeared. I'm hopeful it will return in the fullness of time.

Yesterday I got up at 4:00 a.m. to go to the beach for one of my favorite pastimes, collecting sea glass. When I got to the beaches on Absecon Inlet, they were covered with bulldozers and chain link fences. Somehow, economically depressed Atlantic City has found money to construct a sea wall straight down the inlet, so that the five sea glass beaches will disappear. Two of them were already off limits.

I watched the sun rise over one of the smaller beaches that has yet to be bulldozed. It was so peaceful and beautiful. The tide was going out, and the waves lapped gently on the shore.

 This realm of King Triton and Queen Oshun will be altered because storms like Hurricane Sandy impinge upon the high-end real estate in the area. The sea wall is being constructed by the Army Corps of Engineers, those humans who seek to impose their will on the Goddess, to little avail.

I had bonded with this stretch of beach, pleased that it soothed my aching longing for Appalachia. Now I'm aching for Appalachia and Absecon Inlet. Change, change. Daughters grown, farm sold, beaches bulldozed, aching joints, vultures no longer wintering in the area, dissolution of spiritual bonds. Can't shrug things off like I used to with a la-di-dah.

Yesterday was my swan song at the sea glass beach. The God and Goddess took pity on me and gave me a parting gift that will forever be special in my heart. Where do I go now?

There's one more post I'll put up. Yet another agent has showered my novel, Gray Magic, with indifference. Therefore, my next post will be the PDF of Gray Magic. It's yours, free, to shower with your own indifference. It's not perfect. It needs the editorial hand it never got,because it didn't ever get that far into the process. Still I think it's a good story, with a real ending.

Here's my gift from King Triton and Queen Oshun. It's my fourth and final beach marble. All glory, laud, and honor to the Deities of the Deep!

Blessed be,
Anne Johnson

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Monday, September 28, 2015

Pope Party

Well well!  His holiness Pope Francis has left Philadelphia! His plane flew right over Chateau Johnson on the way out of town. And that's as close as I got to him, thank you very much.

However, his presence blessed my little corner of the world in a wonderful way.

About 18 months ago, a gay couple bought a big house across the street. The house had been lived in by a family, probably since the 1960s or even longer ... so it had fallen to a sort of shabby disrepair, outside and in.

Boy, did that house get a makeover! Fresh exterior paint, a fish pond, chain-link fencing torn down, tasteful exterior lighting, and a whole, new, lavish interior as well. That aside, these new neighbors (and their cute kids and their big, happy, black dog) are just a joy to be around. It's always a pure pleasure when a nice family moves into your everyday sphere of existence.

So the pope came to Philadelphia, and the whole city closed down to keep him safe. This disruption in routine reached into Snobville, since we're not very far from the city. It occurred to me that our little block should have a party, since probably everyone would be home. (Turned out they were.) The only trouble with parties is that you have to plan them. Which this Pagan did not want to do.

On Saturday I had just settled into the easy chair to grade papers when there came a knock upon my door. It was the gay neighbors. "Oh! You're here!" they exclaimed. "We're having a party! Come on over!"

So I went.

Reader, those fellows had their back yard looking like Party with a capital P. There were yellow and white balloons in clusters, a life-size cutout of the pope, pope "masks," pope candles, and a big banner that said "MEETING OF THE FAMILIES."

They had a DJ. They had a bbq rib contest, and I got to be a judge! Mr. J came over after awhile, and he had a good time too. When it got dark, they lit the pope candles, and the DJ turned on a portable disco ball. All the neighborhood tots went swimming in the pool (yes, they even have a pool) and then entertained us by dancing and lip-syncing. The adults got gently plastered (self and Mr. J and hosts excepted). The music lasted long into the night.

This was the pope party I wanted to throw, except I didn't have to lift a finger. Gosh, I didn't know about it until it was too late even to cook a church lady casserole! Not that I would have needed to -- the place was chock-a-block with delicious food and icy cold beverages.

The funny thing about organized religion is that it does have a spillover effect. Because we Snobvillains were stuck in our neighborhood, as opposed to running all over the place, we got together as families and enjoyed each other's company. So I would have to thank Pope Francis and the World Meeting of Families for a genuine trickle-down experience.

Regarding the pope's message to Americans, wow, was this Druid pleasantly surprised! Save the planet, cooperate as lawmakers, end the death penalty, families are great, kiss babies ... could have been worse, much worse.

And since I used to be all about humor, I leave you with this very short and completely hilarious article from The Onion about Papa Frankie's experience in Philadelphia. He sure got it right.

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Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Alban Elfed 2015

Someone asked me, "Under what circumstances would you go to see the pope?"

I said, "Not while there's one tree that needs a hug."

A blessed Alban Elfed to you all! Not long ago we had a wonderful Pagan Pride Day in Philadelphia. How very different from the circus that will come to town with Pope Francis! Here is our altar for the Main Ritual:

Beautiful, huh? Everyone in the circle got to Hail their deity of choice. No one even flinched when I said VULTURE. Pagans understand these things.

This is actually the hardest holy day for me. I don't like to bid farewell to the Sun, the bright Sun, that kisses our fields and brings the fruits of the harvest. It's not a good-bye, though, it's a "see you later." The Southern Hemisphere needs to have summer too.

Therefore, on behalf of all the (not so very) bored deities out there, I wish you and all those you love a bountiful and happy Alban Elfed. May Vulture love you, and keep you, and make His wings to fly above you.

Blessed be!


Monday, September 07, 2015

Labor Day Laundry List

Hello and welcome to The Gods Are Bored, Labor Day 2015!

No one's just joining me now, so you all know how I feel about organized labor.

I can't say one more word on this topic without weeping. Unions have been all but busted. Our only hope is a candidate like Bernie Sanders. Slim hope indeed.

So ... will catch you up on the doings!

Item: I now have 8 chapters of my novel, Million Dollar View. And it appears that yet another agent has tossed the manuscript of Gray Magic into the dustbin. On November 1, 2015, I will put Gray Magic on here for free download. Just because various agents haven't liked it doesn't mean you won't. I'm not going to see all my wonderful characters, who walked with me through a large part of my life, just sit on the shelf like unwanted teddy bears. As for Million Dollar View, I've decided it needs more than the sleigh ride I'd been giving it. I can make it shine, it will just take a little longer than planned.

Item: On Saturday I facilitated my very first drum circle! Yes, I volunteered to do a drum circle at Philadelphia Pagan Pride Day, and by golly, they signed me up, and we had a nice group of seven people ... including two who could drum way better than me! (That was what I was hoping would happen.)

That's me in my mountain hat, far right on orange chair. Thanks for the photo, Cliff!

Item: I met The Heir's boyfriend. He's adorable. I'm happy for her! He had many questions for me about Paganism, since he grew up in a strict Christian household.

Item: Mr. J and I made four excursions to Gunnison Beach this summer. It is a clothing optional beach. It's a long drive, especially in traffic, but the payoff is swell.

Item: School started this past week. I have more than 60 students in three classes (block schedule), all freshmen. We are in the midst of a heat wave here in Philadelphia. My classroom was moved from an air-conditioned room to an older room. It was fully 90 degrees in the room every day last week. I cannot project sound from my computer so that anyone can hear it, even with the fans off. Anyone in the market for a challenging profession?

Item: There is a brand new Extra Chair. This one is male. He will be starting his sophomore year at the local parochial school. If he likes us, and we like him, this is three years of guaranteed monthly income. Withholding judgment on this right now.

Item: Spare is a Resident Assistant in a posh dorm! I trash picked a beautiful love seat for her apartment. She's still working on her web series ... a task more challenging than teaching in an urban school.

That's the news! Thanks for dropping by. Be sure to look here November 1 for Gray Magic, free to many good homes.

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Thursday, September 03, 2015

Pope Bait and Switch

Hello and welcome to The Gods Are Bored! If you happen to be in the Philadelphia area on Saturday, come share a drum circle with me at 3:00 in Clark Park! Yes, and if you can really drum, I sure could use your help!

My last sermon concerned a scheduled visit from His Holiness, Pope Francis, to Philadelphia. The pope will be here from Friday evening until Sunday evening. And basically the city is grinding to a halt to cater to him.


Crowd estimates have been hard to come by. Some are as high as two million. Some favor 60,000. Well, that's a big difference, right?

I guess reality has caught up with Philadelphia -- and the pope. Today, out of the blue, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia (had to look up how to spell it) announced that people would need tickets to get close to the pope. Independence Hall, where His Holiness will deliver some sort of speech, is releasing 5,000 tickets at 9:00 Friday morning, online only.

So much for democracy.

What the heck happened? This was a chance for anybody to see the pope! All you had to do was rent a hotel room, or someone's house, and stroll out on the day of the event, and there he would be!

Um, nope.

Nobody asked me, a practical Pagan, to make suggestions about the pope's visit. I'm not sure why they didn't come to me for advice, because, after all, I spent a memorable 12 hours with Isaac Bonewits and Skip Ellison a few years back, so I know all about communing with holy leaders of religious affiliations. My suggestion would have been to announce tickets way ahead of time. Knowing the basic size of the crowd might have saved a lot of people from being put out for a whole weekend.

This afternoon I heard on the radio that many of the booked-up hotels have been seeing a tidal wave of cancellations. I imagine the same might be happening to the good citizens of Philly who put their residences up for rent (at widely varying prices). Nothing could possibly soften the blow of learning that your prospective renters -- who were going to give you $8000 for your efficiency on Walnut Street just so they could see the pope -- have decided to go to Tahiti instead.

This was a bait and switch, pure and simple. People are finding out now that their chances of celebrating Mass with Pope Francis are slim to none. Meanwhile, there's been no talk of scaling back the mammoth road closures planned for the Delaware Valley on Pope Weekend.

I would hate to be a Roman Catholic today. I really suck at being the first in line online, so it would be really, really frustrating for me to think that a man I revere could be six miles away ... without me being able to see him.

If for no other reason than this, being a Pagan is wonderful. If you admire a particular leader in any of our many Paths, chances are you can rub elbows with that person as soon as you want, for as long as you want. Size matters.

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Thursday, August 27, 2015

Pope Francis Is a Blizzard

Hello, and welcome to The Gods Are Bored! Guess what? We are going to have an unprecedented event in the Philadelphia region. We're going to have a crippling blizzard -- like, the blizzard of the century -- the last weekend in September!

I know, I know, that sounds weird. But I'm not kidding you.

What do we know about blizzards?

*They shut down highways.
*They close schools.
*They make travel hazardous, if not impossible.
*They cause disruptions in health care and public safety.
*They make people run out to the store ahead of time for bread, eggs, and milk.

All of that is going to happen in Philadelphia during the final weekend in September.

Pope Francis, he of the "everyman" and "feed the poor" ilk, is coming to the City of Brotherly Love for a fluffy thing called World Meeting of Families. We in the Delaware Valley have already been told that Pope Francis will not be including gay people in his definition of marriage and family. That's to be expected.

What's also to be expected is total chaos in Philly. (I wonder if anyone will be able to tell? It's always partially chaotic in Philly.)

This lunatic pope is going to Independence Hall on Saturday and is giving an open-air Mass at 4:00 Sunday afternoon. Anyone -- I mean anyone -- who wants to go see him is warmly invited to do so.

Not that it will be easy in blizzard conditions.

Let's go back over those blizzard prerequisites:

*Shutting down highways -- Every major highway except Interstate 95 will be closed while the pope is in Philadelphia. All highways coming in from the east. All highways going out to the west. Both major bridges into Philadelphia will be closed. (The Ben Franklin Bridge will be open to foot traffic, but everyone has to go through scanners, like airport security.)

*The pope must be guarded by the FBI, local and state police, the sheriff's department, and Homeland Security. They are already at work on plans to erect a fence around a huge swath of Center City Philadelphia -- including Spare's college.

*My school will be closing at noon on Friday and not opening up again until Tuesday. This is because all major thoroughfares in Camden will be closed to traffic.

*Spare's school in Center City will be closed from Wednesday until the following Tuesday. All students are being strongly urged to go home, if possible.

If it disrupts traffic and requires extra police, and closes the schools, it's a blizzard.

Maybe that's why he wears white.

I had the utter bad fortune to have to spend the day with a devout Roman Catholic colleague. She proudly said that this pope will seek out the poorest neighborhoods in the region to visit. He has a lot of ground to cover, if that's the case. But what I think (and I didn't share this with my colleague) is that this blizzard visit is a colossal case of hubris. This pope is asking for a terrorist attack, he's asking for crowds to crush each other in an effort to get to him, and he's basically giving criminals of all stripes a wonderful chance to rob, pilfer, and scam.

La di dah! This will be a funny adventure for those of us at The Gods Are Bored! We'll lay in our stores of milk and bread. We have plenty of firewood and space for Heir and Spare. Gonna hunker down and ride out this storm, praising and worshiping the Bored Gods!

Stay tuned.