Tuesday, October 31, 2006


Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored" on Samhain 2006! Do you know where your ancestors are? Bless them all for giving you life! And no matter how hard you have it, remember that they lived through hard times too. And there will be more hard times to come, and that's why we look forward to the Summerlands!

What a long, strange trip these past two days have been! Have you got a minute? Can I make you a steaming cup of cocoa? Oh, by the way, do you know how to carve a jack-o-lantern? I have a beautiful pumpkin downstairs and no talent.


Our Druid Grove service on Sunday was uplifting and imparted such peace ... and boy, did I need it yesterday. The Nor'easter that so bedeviled Athana in Maine left us in the Mid Atlantic with a cloudless skies and thundering winds. We couldn't light candles, but the gusts were fabulous for sending off our prayers and our troubles into the coming darkness. Best of all, my daughter The Spare went with me and said she wanted to come again. We had a great mother-daughter day. All glory, love, and honor to the Ancient Ones!


Out of the blue, my super-fundie, Dobson-besotted sister phoned and said she would be in Philadelphia on Monday with her husband. Could we spend some time together? Well, of course. She's blood. Different blood type, but kin nonetheless. So I picked her up, and within minutes she was talking about people who speak in tongues, and how she urged the Holy Spirit to give her the gift, and was rewarded by praying in some strange language that sounded like Chinese, which it might have been because how would she know?

Remember, readers: We at "The Gods Are Bored" accept all religious faiths as long as no one stains the furniture. And there's no chance of that from my sister. She hadn't been inside my house in 15 years, but her judgment was that the clutter I live with would drive her crazy. Well, she should have seen it before I busted my keister to tidy it up before her arrival! So, no furniture stains from Sis or her god. But plenty of subtle hints that I should jump back on the straight and narrow before it's too late.

Here's something interesting for you Goddess gals. When Sis came near my shrine to Queen Brighid the Bright, all the smoke detectors went off in the house. The smoke detectors are hard-wired, meaning if one goes off they all do. The batteries are pretty fresh, so I immediately ran through all the floors looking for a fire. When sis moved away from the Goddess, the smoke detectors stopped beeping. They haven't given me a moment of trouble since.

I'd love to hear your comments on this. Was it the Goddess sensing danger, or was it Sis's God telling her to back off?

Anyway, I spent about 4 hours with Sis. And I could tell you more that would make you laugh, and maybe I will. But for now, suffice it to say that just when we got back to the Airport exit on I-95, she was pontificating (great word) about how creation science should be taught in school, and how she was going to vote Republican because of abortion, and how poor Christians are persecuted because they can bring home pictures of witches to color at Halloween but they can't sing "Away in the Manger" at their Christmas programs in school. And if you've ever been to Philadelphia, you know it's damn near impossible to miss the exit for the Airport. For crying out loud it has two dedicated lanes on I-95.

I missed them. Both of them. And I got lost driving home, and I've lived in Philly for 19 years.


As I said, I love my sister because you love your kin if you possibly can. But when I say I had the taste of wormwood in my mouth when I got home, that's putting it mildly.

Ah, but redemption was at hand.

Every year on the night before Halloween, our little borough has a parade. It's not much more than the high school band, followed by an unorganized mob of little tots and their parents, all dressed in costume.

It's been my tradition for the last three years to lead the parade in the high school's Fighting Wombat mascot costume. (Technically it's my daughter The Heir who is the mascot, but since the mascot never speaks, we tag-team.) So last night I got to lead the parade and hug about 100 adorable little kids.

And the Monkey Man was there. Oh thank all the bored gods! There was no one I wanted to see more than than my favorite lovable eccentric and his puppets! In 20 seconds he swept away the bad karma and re-united me with the Weird and Wonderful.


This morning my daughters The Heir and The Spare were running around in a tizzy trying to put together their Halloween costumes in time to get to school. I said. "Hey. Hold on a minute! Take all the time you need! I'll write you notes for your tardiness."

Turns out they weren't very late, but here's the jist of the notes I wrote for each of them:

Dear School:

"Halloween is the most sacred day on the Celtic calendar, and my daughters have a scheduled school day they must attend. Therefore I allowed them to be tardy. I expect this tardiness not to be affixed to their records because it has religious implications. Only a small minority of Americans are practicing Druids, so we as a group would hardly expect a Holy Day school break on Halloween. However, I ask that you respect our faith as you would that of any other religious group."

You can best bet that note lit a fire under the daughters to get to school on time. But I know The Heir didn't make it, and I would have loved to have seen the look on the principal's face. The Spare probably didn't make it either, but my guess is she'll take a marked tardy rather than turn in that note. Who can blame her at age 12?

Samhain is still fresh morning as I write this, and sure to contain many fun-filled (and serious) moments. One blessing is that our official artist, Seitou, will make a rare appearance, as she loves to stroll around on this particular day.

Wow! Long post. Sorry. I'll be back in form soon.

Did I mention that at midnight my husband's plant might go out on strike?

AREA 14, STAR 14

Saturday, October 28, 2006

The Inventor

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," the purpose-driven, peace-seeking polytheist's pit stop on the pebble-strewn pathway!

I just spent 4 hours at a Middle School play practice. My daughter The Spare has the lead role. The only sentence she uttered to me in 4 hours was, "You're not supposed to be drinking water in the auditorium. Get out."

I guess that's two sentences.

Awhile back we at "The Gods Are Bored" decided that Samhain was a wonderful opportunity to yank open the old closet and let the skeletons come tumbling out. We've reassembled some over the last month. Now we're almost finished.

Have you ever plucked a hair from your head and thought that you might need to drill five holes, side by side, across the tip?

That's never happened to you? I can't believe it.

Okay, here's another scenario.

Have you ever been sent into a toxic chemical spill, where the slightest whiff of fumes will kill or disable you for life?

No? Well, aren't you the lucky one! You must live in Montana or something.

Random thoughts on a blustery autumn day? Not at all. You see, my grandfather was an inventor. He worked for the American Celanese Corporation, where he was in charge of creating microscopic holes through which liquid would be forced, turning it into strands of synthetic fiber. The strands of fiber were also microscopic, until they got woven together and became either your grandma's favorite polyester pantsuit, or a cigarette filter, or part of a gas mask or a parachute.

My grandad invented the jet drill. I'm not offended if you never heard of it. Not many people are adequately knowledgeable on the topic of production and use of synthetic fibers.

My dad's father was my really and truly grandad, biologically and legally. (Unlike the mutant branches on the Cracker side of my family tree.) He was born and raised in a three-room log farmhouse on a mountainside, sharing his home space with parents, two sisters, and three brothers. He attended a one-room school, where he met my grandma.

Somehow Grandad found the dough to attend Shippensburg Normal School, as it was then called. He studied for two years to be a school teacher. His favorite subject was entymology. It was in that class, observing the mouth parts of dog fleas through a microscope, that my grandad discovered his raison d'etre. In other words, he thought microscopes were cool.

Grandad spent the first year of his working life teaching in a one-room schoolhouse just like the one he'd attended himself, and in fact not that far from home. He hated it. Loathed it. And I can imagine, because he wasn't a very assertive individual. The kids must have plastered the walls with him.

Then his younger brothers started gloating about the good jobs they'd gotten on the assembly line at the new synthetic fabric plant in Cumberland. They hadn't even gone to college, and suddenly they were making more money than Grandad!

So in he marches in his best suit, asks for an application. On the application there's a list of instruments. "Check the box if you know how to use..."

One of them was "microscope."

Forty-five years later he retired from the American Celanese Corporation, where he'd created a slew of patented tools key to the industry. They gave him a gold watch. When it broke, he stuck it under the microscope and fixed it. (That was his hobby, watch repair.)

From the time I could crawl until his death in 1987, I firmly believed that the sun rose and set just for my grandfather. Don't get me wrong. I adored my grandma too, his wife. She taught me all I know about cooking and flower arranging and gardening and a million other things. She was the hugger, the lap to cuddle in, the smiler and cheek-pincher.

But grandad was the cool, deep water, the tall, handsome pillar of kindness and wisdom. The guy who would take a little granddaughter by the hand, lead her out into the woods, and show her how wildflowers are symmetrical. He carved a hiking staff for me and showed me how watches work. And when I went away to college, and snuck up to see him for a long weekend, there he would be at the unscheduled Greyhound stop on a nearly deserted stretch of old Route 40, waiting in his latest luxury automobile. He always did like a fancy American car.

Have you ever gone to a wedding where there was a cake so multi-tiered, lavish, flawless, and awe-inspiring that it stuck in your brain forever? Well, if grandfathers were wedding cakes, he'd have been that confection.

Look at me. He's been dead 19 years and I'm still sitting here crying, missing him. Not because I've got a hair here that needs five holes drilled in it, but because he was excellent in every single way.


Monday: My Dad vs. God: May the Best Man Win.

Friday, October 27, 2006

My Kinfolk Go to War

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored." If you know a bored god who needs work, have him or her submit a resume and sample miracles. We'll try to find a praise and worship team in need of good new leadership.

Samhain is almost upon us. And it should be of no surprise to those of you out there who work that life goes on no matter what. Last night my husband's local authorized a strike to begin at midnight, October 31. The vote in favor of strike was overwhelming. You see, the new owner of the plant wants to fire everyone anyway. Might as well picket.

I don't handle these things well. I'm an extremely anxious person. This anxiety derives from my father's kinfolk, who were the worryingest bunch of critters I ever saw. Two of them literally worried themselves to death. I hope I have time to tell you about it.

I give you good odds that I'll be the next fine Johnson to worry to death. Some have met worse fates.

Yesterday I told a true story from the dusty family annals about how my father's ancestors buried 13 runaway slaves who had committed mass suicide in the little family graveyard, rather than allow bounty hunters to take the bodies back south out of Pennsylvania into Virginia.

These Appalachian farmers had seen their share of hardship, including the death of children by many and varied illnesses. It's not possible, however, that they ever experienced anything quite like a mass suicide, including parents who willingly murdered their own offspring rather than return to slavery.

The opinions Dad's people held of slavery and their neighbors to the south is not recorded. I don't think it's a leap, though, to say that they already held slaveowners to be vermin, and this "Chaneysville Incident" just strengthened their views. Dad's people lived in a small community of large, hard-working farm families who all knew each other. The incident must have been a topic of conversation. (I know a scholar would accept this unscientific remark, so please be advised that it is possible that 13 people could commit suicide on your property and you wouldn't talk about it with your neighbors and kin. Possible but not bloody likely. What's the idle chatter going to turn to at the mill? The new spot of mange on the cow?)

At any rate, when the Civil War broke out in 1861, the township in which "The Chaneysville Incident" occurred just pretty much emptied out of all its young men. Anyone who was old enough to enlist grabbed a horse and headed out to fight Johnny Reb.

My research shows an Aaron Imes who served at South Mountain, was hospitalized for shell shock in Baltimore (sure sounds like kin), returned to duty and was wounded at Second Fredericksburg. He's from Bedford County, but not a direct ancestor.

Family research also shows a hardy bunch of brothers named Bennett - five of them - who all enlisted. Theirs would have been one of the nearest neighboring farms to the dread place where those slaves committed suicide.

The two oldest Bennett brothers took the horses and joined Coles Cavalry, the 1st Maryland, out of Cumberland. They were captured and sent to Georgia to a prison called Andersonville. One of them died there. The other, Cold Mountain-style, walked home and arrived at the family farm in deplorable condition.

This is oral tradition, subject to all the scrutiny thereof. The Andersonville survivor, my great-great-great uncle Enos, was so wretched-looking that his mother ran out into the field when she saw him coming, made him strip off his rags, and brought him bath water on the spot.

Okay, you can almost hear the soggy "Gone with the Wind" music playing through that one.

But the rest makes sense. The written family history says Enos Bennett claimed he lost his brother in an escape from Andersonville. They somehow leaped the fence and dived into the river, and the brother was drowned. That was Enos's story, and no one thought of traveling down to Georgia to see if there was a river anywhere near Andersonville Prison. There isn't.

Exhibit A: Andersonville Prison

Whatever really happened at Andersonville, Enos kept to himself. The family history notes that he was a holy terror for many years after the Civil War, always eager to fight, and always a fierce fighter. He was finally cured of this tendency by a pastor who helped him to find inner peace by praying to God.

As opposed to some government psychologists thoroughly grounded in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Of the five Bennett brothers who set out to the Civil War, only three returned. My great-great-great grandfather was one of them. He served as a Teamster. (Needed them then, sure need them now.)

I have another great-great grandfather who served four years and came home with chronic bronchitis. He tried valiantly to collect a government pension and got the first check two weeks after he died. (I've got the correspondence.) Another great-great-great grandfather was drafted as a 42-year-old father of five girl children. He was present at Appomattox.

Never having met any of these folks, I can't assign a motive for their service during the Civil War. Maybe they just were tired of milking cows. Maybe they thought it would be exciting, glorious ... and they'd get new clothes. But maybe they also felt called to put an end to the need to dig graves for people running from evil.

It's so uplifting to assign high moral values to your ancestors! Many and many a politician has done it with immoderate success.

Tomorrow we'll learn how to drill five holes into the tip of a human hair, side by side and in a perfect row. No, seriously. Really and truly! With the fringe benefit that we'll be able to worry the whole doggone time about this upcoming strike.

Top image: Statue at Andersonville Prison

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Strange Fruit

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" We like to think of ourselves as a clearinghouse for all the deities that have been downsized, laid off, and deprived of their benefits due to a theological NAFTA.

With Samhain but a short six days away, we want to introduce you to some ancestors we'd like to entertain in our sacred Gnomehenge next Tuesday night.

Today we're going to talk about a book in which my father's people get a bit of a write-up. A behavioral review, so to speak.

The book is The Chaneysville Incident, by David Bradley. It's a historical novel. It won the prestigious PEN-Faulkner Fiction Prize. Go ahead. You try doing that. See how hard it is.

The novel is about an intelligent, troubled African American man who is trying to figure out why his father committed suicide on a remote mountain farm in southern Bedford County, Pennsylvania.

Actually, The Chaneysville Incident is based on a true story. The "incident" in question really happened. And the remote mountain farm belonged to my great-great-great grandfather. My great-grandmother was born there.

In the ancient days of g-g-g-Granpaw, it was customary to bury people in a plot on the farm. A few ancient generations of Dad's people are interred in the little farm cemetery, hard by a creek in Bedford County.

Also in the same cemetery are 13 unmarked graves. Or rather, they're just marked with plain slabs of shale (it's plentiful there, trust me).

The creek that runs through the farm has its source at the Potomac River and runs due north through a thin stretch of Maryland into Pennsylvania. It splits into three extremely rugged mountainside branches just above the hamlet of Chaneysville, PA.

Dad's people's farm is about six miles south of Chaneysville and about two miles north of the Mason-Dixon line. Escaping slaves from Maryland and Virginia used the north-to-south flowing creek as a pathway to Pennsylvania. If they could make it to Bedford, Pennsylvania, they found a black community bursting to the plimsol line with Underground Railroad volunteers.

But from the mouth of the Potomac to Bedford was a perilous trek. The creek seems mostly benign, but it contains "holes" that are as much as 20 feet deep. And as author Bradley conjures, not every white person along that stream felt inclined to help escaping slaves.

Hey. Like smoking ganj, it was against the law to help escaping slaves. When was the last time you lit a spliff?

A few years prior to the Civil War, a cluster of 13 slaves -- men, women, and children -- got tracked down and cornered by bounty hunters on g-g-g-Granpaw's farm. The slaves committed mass suicide, killing the children first and then themselves.

We will now pause and say the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag. (Yeah. Phooey.)

For bounty hunters, dead slaves were as valuable as live ones. The corpses served to scare other potential runners. But Great-Great-Great Granpaw, alerted to the commotion and appalled by the carnage, categorically refused to allow the bodies to be removed from his property. He and his family and his neighbors (all kin to me) buried the dead slaves in the little farm family graveyard. That accounts for the unmarked slabs of shale: No one knew the names of the deceased.

A few sentences about this incident appear in a family genealogy done in the 1970s. It was these few words that inspired Bradley's fine novel (which covers a whole lot more ground than just a single "incident.")

The graveyard is still there. I've taken my daughters to see it. Someone is keeping it up. I have no idea who that might be.

My dad's people run high to shyness and anxiety. They don't like fuss. But when pushed to extremes, they can be like a bull in your bedroom. So it was on that particular day, I'm sure. I know my dad was made of such strong Scotch-Irish stuff. I imagine my ancestors sent those bounty hunters south with every bit of spirit their ancestors showed when they sent King Edward back to England while fighting with Wallace.

And by the way, this "incident" made my ancestors felons according to the Supreme Court of the era.

Does anyone have a spliff?

This Samhain, "The Gods Are Bored" salute Aaron Imes and his children. We invite them to our sacred bonfire. And we have it on good authority from Chonganda that those who rest among them, under unmarked shale slabs, may join us too.

For my legions and legions and legions of readers: There's a Ron Popile twist to this entry. (i.e. "But wait! There's more!)

Even David Bradley doesn't know how "The Chaneysville Incident" played out in the next generation of my hillbilly kinfolk. Stay tuned.


Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Coming Clean

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" We're glad you could join us. It's official: Samhain is just seven days away. I'm assembling Gnomehenge for a service. I'll try to get a photo.

Do any of you really believe I'm a goat judge with a degree from Billy Bob Agricultural University? (BBAU?) Okay, I'm coming clean. I'm not a goat judge. Or rather, I'm a metaphorical goat judge. For instance, Senator Rick Santorum is a goat. In my judgment.

So if you like me and want to see what I'm really about, click here and then "Read More about the Scopes Monkey Trial."

At the very least, it certainly narrows down the number of Anne Johnsons I could possibly be, probably by a factor of a million.

Can't remember when I've enjoyed working on something like I did "Scopes." It was a pure joy.

P.S. Yes, I really am a hillbilly.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

By the Dark of the Moon

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," your Fabulous Forum for Fantastic Faeries!

This compelling fae is a "teaser" from the motherlode talent of Seitou. In other words, he's not completely finished yet. But, by all the gods, wouldn't you follow him into the forest if he winked at you? And as he tempted you into the bog to drown, wouldn't you say, "Well, so be it, this is nice peat, maybe some anthropologist will dig me up someday." ???

Tonight is a dark moon, an extra special time to begin new projects and to meditate on self-improvement. Perfect your love for all things great and small. Those who love can't even contemplate allowing others to suffer.

We're going to take a moment to re-acquaint you with the mission of "The Gods Are Bored." No time better than the dark moon for that.

When Mount Vesuvius erupted, the citizens of Pompeii and Herculaneum faced mortal peril. In some places, hot ash fell first, and those who stayed indoors thought they were safe. In other places the lava just poured in faster than people could run, especially those carrying children. And who leaves a child behind when a river of lava is coursing into town?

In the end, the ash folks didn't fare any better than the lava folks. All of them got buried alive.

Now, this is what the archeologists found when they excavated. Many citizens of Pompeii, fleeing the fury of the volcano, had only a moment to snatch one or two possessions from their homes. Very few chose bags of money. Most have been found clutching small statues of gods or goddesses, their patron deities so to speak.

All these human beings, overcome horribly by a natural disaster, are now credited with believing in "myths." So those little statues of Mercury and Athena and Hera that they clutched in their last moment of despair, those are just ... empty little statues. Myths.

Hold the doggone phone.

What do many people clutch now when they're near the doorway to the Other Side? A crucifix. Is some archeologist gonna call Jesus a "myth" in 2000 years? Face facts. The answer is YES SIREE.

This site categorically rejects the notion that any deity, however localized, minimalized, marginalized, or rendered historically obsolete, is a myth. We at "The Gods Are Bored" say, either Everything Is, or Nothing Is.

Holding that truth to be self-evident, we respect and revere deities of every culture and creed, trusting that some of them have been misunderstood by their followers. Personally we feel that most female deities promote a kinder, gentler model, based on a woman's selfless nurture of a child.

But hey. Who are we at "The Gods Are Bored" to tell you how to conduct your religious life? It's none of our business. All we ask is this: If we respect you, then you should respect us.

When that lava comes pouring into your town, you may grab your Bible, or your crucifix. Fine. Rock on. As for me and my house, we'll go down with our magick wands in our hands -- to be met with open arms by the Gentry of Sidhe.

So might it be.

Salutations of the dark moon to all!

Artwork by Seitou exclusive to "The Gods Are Bored," use only with permission of this site.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Thanks to Bubba

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" All nations, under the Goddess, individuals, with tenderness and mercy for all!

We can dream, can't we?

For the past few days we've been pruning the good ol' family tree. And now we come to the payoff. What every good arborist knows: Sometimes under the rotten wood, a lovely green twig may grow.

(If that's not true, please be mindful of the fact that I majored in Animal Husbandry in college, not Horticulture.)

When I was a youngster, my greatest treasure was my bicycle. In those long ago days, an enterprising gal could leave home in the morning, ride through Antietam Battlefield and on down to the Potomac, ride along the Potomac a brace of miles, and back again. Sans helmet, water, money, or ID. What teenager worries? If they did, we wouldn't have anyone enlisting in the Marines.

Exhibit A: This is Gettysburg, but you get the idea.

One of my favorite routes took me past the lovely white antebellum farmhouse in which my illustrious granmaw grew up. The house belonged to my great-grandmother and her second husband. When Granmaw was but a young and beautiful girl, she and her half-sister planted a huge flower garden beside the charming house.

Exhibit B: Pale Imitation of Ancestral Farmhouse

For years and years I rode past Great-grandma's farmhouse, taking solace in its homey charms. I wished my great-grandmother was still alive to welcome me home and offer me a piece of pie. I admired the flower garden, and the wide fields at the base of the mountain, and the barn with its green roof, and the darling shed behind the main house. But I never went closer than the gate, because some other farmer had bought the farm in the early 1960s when Granmaw's long-lived stepfather died.

Mama's photo albums had old black-and-white pictures of Great-grandma, and Granmaw as a teenaged beauty, and Granmaw's half-sister, standing in front of the house. They all looked so happy. I thought I'd be happy too if I lived in that farmhouse at the foot of the mountain, stone's throw plus some from the Antietam Creek.

Three years ago, I took my daughters, The Heir and The Spare, home for a visit. And as we were leaving the good ol' hometown (now hardly recognizable due to exurban sprawl), I said to my kids, "Hey. Let's drive past Great-grandma's house!"

And there it stood, surrounded by the green fields, untouched by time and unmarred by sprawl. I pulled the car up in front of the house and stopped just for a minute. I said to my girls, "Isn't that a beautiful little house? My grandmother was a girl in that house. They had taffy pulls and ice cream socials, and they competed to see who could memorize the longest poem and recite it the best."

We stared at the house for another minute. Then I drove on down the narrow country road, looking for a place to turn around. When I found a driveway and started my K-turn, I noticed a pickup truck driving down through the fields that used to belong to Great-grandma. I didn't think much of it until it became obvious that the pickup truck was following me back out to Scenic Route 40, the nearest snow emergency route. And I thought that was odd. I hadn't trespassed or anything, but whoever was driving was clearly on my tail.

He continued to tail me until we came upon a gas station, one of those newfangled ones where you can buy a pack of smokes before you pump. I pulled in. He pulled in behind me.

I turned to my daughters and said, "I don't know what this is about, but I'll straighten it out soon enough." Saying that, I got out of my car and went right over to the pickup.

An older farmer was driving. He rolled down his window.

I said, "I'm sorry if I startled you, sir. My great-grandmother owned that farmhouse once, and I wanted my daughters to see it."

He said: "Who wuz yer great-grandma?"

And I told him. I also told him how my grandmother had grown up there.

He asked my name. I gave my maiden name and said my mama's name. I figured if he was local (and his accent sure sounded local), he'd recognize the family.

He looked at me, and then he looked at my New Jersey license plate. He said, "Are you bound fer home jes now?"

And I said, "Yessir. We been visitin my dad, he's not doin too well."

He reached into his overalls and pulled out a piece of paper and a pen. (Isn't that something? I doubt if I could open my huge pocketbook and haul out a piece of paper and a pen.)

He wrote something on the paper and handed it to me. He said, "Next time yer up thisaway, stop by an me an my waaf'll show you the place."

I looked down at the paper. He had written: "Johnny and Sally Tewell. 301-xxx-xxxxx."

I looked up at the old farmer. I said, "Was you any relation to Bubba Tewell?"

And he said: "Bubba and my daddy was brothers."

Readers, when your mama's a woodpile child, this is how you meet your kin. I looked at that old farmer, and he looked at me. We both knew we were lookin at blood.

I said, very politely: "When I next come to town, I sure would like to call on you and bring my daughters. I've always dreamed of seein the insaad of that house."

He said: "Well, you're most welcome. I was mighty fond of yer great-grandma and yer great-aunt Bridey May. I knew yer granmaw too, when I wuz a lil boy. I'm sorry if I skeerd you ba followin you, but bein back thar on a country road we sometimes have troubles with strangers, now the county's so built up."

The longest tunnel has the brightest light at the end.

In recent years I've gotten to know Johnny and Sally Tewell, my woodpile kin. I've gotten to see the antebellum farmhouse in which my great-grandmother spent her life and my granmaw grew up. Sally has restored it magnificently. She and Johnny are two of the nicest, kindest people I've ever had the pleasure to know.

They have told me so many wonderful stories. For instance, my great-aunt, who died before I was born, used the darling little shed behind the house as a bakery. She made cakes for a living. When Johnny was a boy he would visit her on his pony, and she would give him a spoonful of icing to lick.

(Oh no, it's Ron Popile again!) But wait, there's more!

Johnny and Sally are sitting on 40 acres of highly-prized land, the kind of close-to-an-interstate-exit country farmland that makes grown developers weep like tots and slobber like rabid pit bulls. Johnny and Sally did sell part of the property. It used to be 80 acres, but they sold 4 "farmettes" of 10 acres apiece, with the ironclad legal stipulation that the "farmettes" couldn't be subdivided. Two of the stupid chumps who bought "farmettes" can't afford to build houses on them. The other two have occupants who wonder who the hell is gonna mow two acres of lawn in the years to come.

The sale of the "farmettes" gives Johnny and Sally enough of a nest egg to spend their golden years in their (and Great-granny's) farmhouse in fine style. They have no plans, now or ever, to subdivide the rest of the farm.

On my first visit I showed Johnny and Sally the old photos of the house. I'd scanned the photos so they could keep copies. When my daughters went outside to explore, talk inevitably turned to old Bubba, my DNA grandpa. And we all agreed that, well, who the hell cares anyway? Blood is blood, no paper can change it.

Exhibit C: Bubba's DNA at Work

Johnny allowed that his daddy didn't like Bubba's lifestyle and that the brothers weren't very close. But having gotten to know Johnny, I can say without hesitation that I lucked out in the DNA lottery, if only because I'm kin to one of the precious few farmers in Upper Appalachia who hasn't taken the money and run when the subdividers came calling.

The luck of the draw gave me Bubba, an enigmatic woodpile ancestor. The bored gods gave me Johnny Tewell, awesome kinsman of whom I can be oh so proud.

See? Samhain is still 11 days away, and already I feel better.


Thursday, October 19, 2006

A Bad Hand, Badly Played

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" Do you have your Halloween pumpkin yet? Those spooky decorations in your yard? Have you piled in the little packets of M&Ms? Oh yay! You're all ready for Samhain!

This year we at "The Gods Are Bored" are climbing the good ol' family tree, branch by lunatic branch. Today we get so far out on a limb we might just come crashing to the ground.

If you've been keeping up with "The Gods Are Bored," why thank you kindly! I'm honored. Anyway, you'll remember that my mama had two daddies, the one who claimed her legally ("Adolf") and the one who actually sired her ("Bubba"). And you'll further recall that Adolf and Bubba lived in the same house, with Granmaw cooking (and doing other things) for both of them. Bubba rented a room there long after Adolf no longer needed the dough.

Mama grew up in a household where expletives flew like fruit flies, where no one loved her (except Bubba when he was blotto), and where bigotry rampaged through the hallways. Curiously, no one owned a gun. Otherwise I probably wouldn't be sitting here typing this.

So Mama grew up with the conviction that screaming and cussing at the top of your lungs got results. And if that failed, you could always employ the fists or a suitable alternative. When I got old enough to understand the complexities of the English language, I found it odd that she called me a son of a bitch, since I was female and she would be that bitch.

(Channeling Ron Popile) But wait, there's more!

After turning 21, Mama was never a confident captain of her mental ship. For awhile she was able to teach, but after I was born she shut down. When I was two they shipped her to a padded cell in faraway Baltimore. The big-city doctor said she had manic depressive psychosis.

I still like that title better than bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder sounds like what happened to Captain Scott in the Antarctic. Psychosis, I guess, has become politically incorrect, but it sure describes Mama to a "T."

(Hey you snickering in the back row! I know half the posts I write for this blog make me sound psychotic too! But I'm not. I'M NOT I'M NOT I'M NOT NOT NOT!!!)

When you combine the worst possible bad-ass Cracker nurturing with a devastaing mental illness, it's kind of like shoving five Mentos into a bottle of Diet Coke. Mama was either exploding like steroid-laden fireworks or lying on a couch with her face to the wall, waiting for her next shock treatment.

Have any of you seen Full Metal Jacket? That nightmare of a drill sargeant in the beginning? His name is Lee Irmey. I once stood in line (on Mr. Johnson's behalf) to get a script of Full Metal Jacket signed by Cpl. Irmey (USMC, ret.) When I got to the signing table, I looked him right in the eye and said, "You wouldn't have been a match for my mama, no way."

Have any of you seen Throw Mama from the Train? Welcome to my world.

When lithium carbonate got its FDA approval in 1976, Mama stopped having manic episodes every 8 months. But the lithium wasn't perfect, she still was mighty peculiar in public and a Lee Irmey terror at home.

I was probably the only student at Billy Bob Agricultural University (BBAU) who found dormitory life and cafeteria food to be an improvement of epic proportions over life at home with Mama.

"Oh," you're saying. "It's just an illness. How bad could it have been?"

When you're 16 and have to call the sheriff at 6:00 in the morning because your mama is trying to kill your daddy -- and then the sheriff shows up and you're friends with him because it's a damn small town, you tend to hit rock bottom. Don't ask me how I went through this without doping and drinking, I sure as hell don't know.

Mama got old before her time and died five years ago next month. Absent her toxic presence, I've been able to come to terms with how and why she was the way she was. I'm finally at peace with her, now that she's Asleep with the Confederate Dead. Once or twice a year I put pinwheels on her grave, sort of a symbol of the whirlwind that was her life.

Now those of you who have come to know and love me wonder how I can be so calm, cool, and collected. And how I can worship the Goddess, having had such a virago as a female role model. Three answers:

1. I got heaping helpings of my dad's DNA, which means I'm neither calm, cool, or collected, but I'm not bipolar either.

2. While living in the Mommy Gulag, I swore I'd never treat my spouse and children the way I was treated. Case closed, I never have.

3. The Goddess is awesome and wonderful.

Life hasn't been perfect for me in the past five years, but once you sift everything through those childhood memories, the little things don't bother you much. I do watch my daughters for telltale signs of that ugly (and sometimes fatal) illness, and so far so good. I hope so, because I can't go through bipolar disorder again.

Well. WooooHeee. We've finally gotten the slave-owners, racists, two-timers, and manic depressives out of the closet! And this heap of scary skeletons yields a happy ending, believe it or not. I'll tell you tomorrow.


Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Hey Ho, Ho Hey! He's Not in My DNA!

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," where your god or goddess is our god or goddess! We show no partiality and play no favorites. Except for Mars and Mithras. We don't like them. They stain furniture.

This month brings the holy day of Samhain, and in honor of that we are taking a look at skeletons. The kind in the closet, not the one hanging on your front door.

Yesterday we established that my mother was a bastard, born of one man and legally claimed by another. Both men were living in her house when she grew up. Oh yeah, and she was an identical twin too. You could say Mama had a full plate.

My legal grandfather (We'll call him Adolf) was the neatest human being I've ever known, if you don't count those spotless Marines at the recruiting table. You dared not leave anything unscrubbed or out of place in his home. He always wore a suit and tie.

None of this, I suspect, will redeem him on the Other Side.

"Grandad" Adolf held strong opinions about the human race. First and foremost, he was in favor of rounding up and murdering every African American in the U.S.A. (Needless to say, he didn't call them African Americans.) He deemed these people lazy, stupid, and a drain on public finances.

His concept of wholesale slaughter extended to disabled Americans. If he saw someone in a wheelchair, or someone with MS or cerebral palsy, he would say they ought to be killed to decrease the surplus population. Think of Ebenezer Scrooge on Cracker steroids.

I won't use the word "Grandad" Adolf used to describe the disabled either.

He wasn't particularly averse to ethnic groups, so long as they were white and could spend eight hours digging a ditch without a break. (That's how he got his start in the oil business, by digging a ditch for an underground gasoline tank.)

I have many unpleasant memories of the man, even though he liked me well enough. I remember once when Mama was sick he took me to the dentist -- and rewarded my sitting for three fillings by taking me out for ice cream. I don't think he deliberately meant to make me faint from pain, but that was nearly the outcome.

One component of the Old Time Religion that I follow is the concept of justice. This concept of not judging others (and not actively advocating their mass slaughter) is common to many religions, though not always practiced with due diligence.

In "Grandad" Adolf's case, justice was served. He suffered a massive stroke that paralyzed his entire right side and spent the last 18 months of his life confined to bed in a nursing home. Where his caretakers were often African American.

In all the times I visited him there, I never heard him repeat the strong opinions he held during his vigorous years about blacks and the disabled.

Well, my grandmother's lover Bubba was no prize. No prize at all. But I can say without hesitation that I'm relieved not to have "Grandad" Adolf's DNA coursing through my body. I may be a little judgmental here, but old Adolf, for all his starched shirts, was not a stellar role model.

Live and let live, that's my motto. Trees, people, polar bears, you name it. Heck, you couldn't even get me to spray the salt marsh to keep the mosquitoes down.


Monday, October 16, 2006

Skeletons in the Closet Continued: Grandma's Little Secret

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" Fifteen days and counting until Samhain, and dark moon this week! Do you know where your ancestors are? In order to understand yourself better, you should chase down those forebears and see how they rocked on.

Take my mom's mother, for instance.

When I knew Granmaw, she was a fat old lady who could sing Appalachian ballads all afternoon. She had a memory like a needle point. Later I found out that some of the old songs she sang were ballads that dated to the Crusades. She said her grandfather taught them to her. I don't think he fought in the Crusades. He must have learned them from his grandfather. Or grandmother.

I was a rowdy teenager in those times, and Granmaw used to be called upon from time to time to give me lectures on morality. It was all I could do to keep from laughing in her face.

How can you take advice on morals from a woman who housed her husband and her lover under her roof for 30-some years?

(Hey, you in the back row! Stop snickering! This is absolutely true!)

My grandmother stubbornly made a very bad marriage. Her husband was mean as a junkyard dog, kind of like Big Daddy in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, except with a potty mouth. When Granmaw married him, they went to live on a rented farm. And as with so many farmers in the 1920s, they went broke.

Granmaw and Grandaddy had a hired hand who lived at the farm with them. Let's just call him Bubba. I guess Granmaw got sick of being pushed around, and she and Bubba ... well ... emmmmm.

But here's where it gets really good. After Grandaddy's farm failed, he and Bubba went into town and impressed the town slickers with their work ethic. Just before my mama and her identical twin sister were born, Grandaddy and Bubba were offered the job of managing some gas stations. Grandaddy was able to buy a big house with six bedrooms.

And Bubba moved in. He stayed thirty years.

Bubba was a hard-drinkin' womanizer with a rotten temper, but he sure had a soft spot for Mama and her twin sister. In fact he often dragged them along to the local saloon and bragged about being their father.

And voila! He was.

My mama had an older brother who hated her (and Bubba). Older brother got his medical degree, and the first thing he did as a doctor was take a paternity test on Mama and Auntie Mame. I think they did it by blood type then. So Grandaddy knew he was raising bastard twins by the time my mama was in grade school. He never let on. How would it look? He had risen in the oil industry and was Western Maryland distributor of Sinclair Oil. He was a Big Man in the Community, a Lion, a Mason, and an Elk. And a deacon at church.

Bubba was just Bubba. Still living at home with Granmaw and Grandaddy.

Sorta makes you wonder, doesn't it? We cousins did a lot of speculation about that triangle. In its simplest form it's just a sort of polygamy. It gets more interesting if you imagine threesomes. That was the position of some of my more rowdy cousins, but Grandaddy had a mistress, so I think it took the tame route.

In 1972 Mama and Auntie Mame got drafted for a study at NIMH. More about that later in the week. But NIMH took blood samples from Granmaw and Grandaddy, and lo and behold they called Mama one sunny day and said, "Ahem, Mrs. X, the man who says he's your father ... isn't."

And my mama said, "Yeah, Bubba's my father. I always sorta knew it."

I never saw much of Bubba. He died when I was nine. My most vivid memory of him is him lying there in the coffin. And I pretty much felt like, "Good riddance."

I'm very satisfied with my spouse and have never been tempted to invite another fella to bunk in Chateau Johnson. But if I did, I'd just be following the good ol' white trash ways of my mama's kin, all now Asleep with the Confederate Dead.

May they rest in peace. They never had any when they was a-breathin.


Friday, October 13, 2006

To Go Beyond

Well, folks, I never thought I'd be an inspiration to an artist, but then again I never thought I'd walk down the sidewalk talking on a telephone either. Since I'm going to be away a few days, I warmly encourage you to watch this beautiful, afterlife-affirming video by Nachtchat. So might it be!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Peggy Johnson Crocker's Choice

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," reporting from the front lines of a nation gone to the dogs ... when it should be going to the gods.

Yesterday's Philaelphia Inquirer reports the death of Cpl. Carl W. Johnson II of Philadelphia, victim of a bomb blast in Iraq. Cpl. Johnson was a graduate of Simon Gratz High School in the city. He played football. He was nice-looking and friendly.

Carl Johnson was the only son of Peggy Johnson Crocker. (No relation to this Johnson). This is what Cpl. Johnson's mother told the Philadelphia Inquirer:

"I didn't want him to go in the service. But I figured either the streets are going to absorb him or Uncle Sam was going to absorb him. So I stood behind him."

Ah, what a Sophie's Choice this African American mother faced! The streets of Philly (more than 300 gunshot deaths already this year), or the streets of Baghdad.

Americans, are you proud of this?

Let us not overlook the fact that it is possible to buy one gun every day in Pennsylvania. In a year you can have 365 guns in your family room. If I'd been in this mother's shoes, I think I'd have found active combat a safer option as well.

Except sometimes it isn't. Roll the dice. Your child's life hangs in the balance.

How can Republicans call themselves the party of "family values?" If Republicans really valued families, they'd be doing all they could to find ways to educate and assure employment to fine young people in the cities, in the country ... wherever there are families who (Rapture be damned) are really Left Behind.

A mother and her son should have more options than death and death. If you disagree, you must be a "right to life" Republican.

Blow winds, blow. Blow away these troubled times.


Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Mithras's Little Secret

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," where even benign polytheists get pissed off when circumstances warrant it.

If you feel seismic movement under your feet in Maryland and Pennsylvania today, pleased be advised that it is not a nuclear test. It's my Revolutionary War-era ancestors turning in their graves.

Maestro. Cue Music! (Think of "The Producers.")

Heil myself
Heil to me
I'm the Cracker out to change our history.
Heil myself
Raise my hand
There's no greater dictator in the land.
Everything I do I do for meeee....
If you're looking for a war, how 'bout World War III?

Mr. Johnson had a rental car yesterday and was surfing through the satellite radio channels. He thought he was listening to Air America, but after a few miles of turnpike he realized he'd accessed a top-secret conversation between Mars and Mithras (bored gods of war).

Mithras was bragging about how Fearless Leader in the Big White House has secretly ordered a flotilla into position off the coast of Iran.

Mars was reminiscing about how wonderful the Gulf of Tonkin incident was, how the American people got duped into the Vietnam War. Mithras was practically crowing when he said, "Look for a big-time offensive just in time for the election."

Okay. That's why this blog exists. To allow the bored gods to air their grievances, and occasionally to eavesdrop on the no-goodniks among them. This alarming information falls into the latter category. It's even more alarming when Anne picks up her morning newspaper (big city) and sees nothing about this in it. Anywhere.

Calling all Nations: Don't turn your back on Mithras now! He wants attention so badly he'll pull the world to pieces. He's nostalgic for the days of the Roman Legions. Enough said.

and JOSEPH BENET, Bedford County Militia, 1777-81
and JOHN HANNA, Lancaster County Militia, 1776-77

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Closet Skeletons #2: XTREME Abortion

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" Oh drat. We were looking for Halloween decorations, opened the wrong closet, and all the old family skeletons are pouring out on the floor! But you know what they say. Truth is stranger than fiction. So join us this month as we draw true stories from one of the most bizarre family trees in the whole damned forest.

Today's tale is inspired by reading Biting Beaver on the topic of abortion and emergency contraception.

Great-Great Granny's Tale
By Anne

My grandmother was born in 1888. When she was about 6 years old, she was visiting her grandmother one afternoon. My granny said: "I hate school. I don't want to go." And her grandmother said: "Go home and put away your school frock. You won't be going tomorrow."

That night my grandmother's grandmother hung herself from a low rafter in the barn.

(Hey, you, snickering over there! This is the truth and nothing but the truth!)

This was clearly a case of premeditated suicide, carefully planned and executed. But why? Why would Granny's granny go string herself up in the barn?

Let's whip out the yellowed old family tree papers and look them over. It appears that my great-great grandmother had 15 children between 1860 and 1892. The last three of those children all died within six weeks of each other in an outbreak of scarlet fever.

My grandmother said that Great-Great Granny had just become aware that she was pregnant again, and that's why she killed herself. Suicide as a method of abortion. Well, how many other options did GGG have?

Now, some of you are doing the math and saying Great-Great Granny would have been too old by 1894 to still be having children if her first was born in 1860. But suppose she was 17 or 18 when she married? (I don't have the exact date of her marriage.) I'm a goat judge, not a mathematician, but I put her in her early 50s by 1894. At that age, some women are through with the baby biology and some aren't.

The fact remains that, whether or not she really was pregnant, Great-Great Granny thought she was and decided she didn't want to have another baby.

The moral of this story: Abortion and emergency contraception should be available to every woman, at all times, in all parts of the country. Especially in places where you can also find barns and rope.


Monday, October 09, 2006

The Ugly Part 1

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," where we offer a possibility that will absolutely confound certain segments of the American population. Guess what? Pagans have morals! We're kind and generous people! We care about the earth and about the less fortunate. So what if we belly dance to drum music? Is having some clean fun that loathsome?

Maybe we need some pagans in Congress. Strike the maybe.

Crash! Clatter clatter clatter! Klok klok klock.

Oh dear. Annie's opened the good ol' ancestral closet. Out fall the skeletons, good, bad, and ugly.

Samhain is nigh upon us, and as you enlightened folks know, it's the time when the veil between the here and the hereafter runs thin. So this is the best time of the year to work out those issues with your dearly departed. And if they were dear to you, this might be the time to ask them to intercede in your current troubles.

Personally I have some deep issues with my ancestors of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Specifically, my mother's people. They were slave owners. Some of my ancestors who owned human beings (talk about loathsome) were benign for their time. One loathsome ancestor bought a male slave because he owned the man's wife. Then he freed their children when the children became 27. (But recall that in 1830, 27 was the equivalent to 50 today.)

Unfortunately it gets uglier. I have another ancestor who was an overseer for iron forges on South Mountain in Maryland. An African American scholar did her dissertation on the iron forges and found out many facts about slave life at that location. None of it was good, readers. The slaves sent to these forges had been iron smelters in their native land and knew many techniques that improved on European technology. You think the slaves got rewarded for that? Nope. They had to work 7 days a week, with two hours off on Sunday to hear a sermon. When they died they were buried near the forge in unmarked graves.
Sometimes I feel like the great-great-great granddaughter of Vlad the Impaler.

What have I done to atone for the sins of my mother's kinfolk? Not enough. Can't fund a scholarship, I can't keep up with my own bills. But trust me, if the U.S. government ever went for reparations and raised my taxes, I'd be among the minority of Americans who would suck up and pay without complaint.

The school in which I substitute teach draws its student body from Camden, New Jersey. The students are about 50 percent African American and 48 percent Hispanic, with a smattering of Asian. When I see those kids pouring into the school in the morning, I can only be grateful that one of America's most heinous hurdles has been leaped. Although the playing field is not yet anywhere near level, at least it's not a cliff anymore, with one race at the top and the other at the bottom.

So, this Samhain, with the help of my father's people, I want to work off the bad karma of my mother's people.

And by the way, Christian pastors of the eighteenth century used their pulpits to condone slavery and used the Bible to justify the practice. Hmmmm. Today certain Christian pastors are denouncing homosexuality and using the Bible to justify their views. Might we some day leap that heinous hurdle too? I hope so.

"Eyeball Vulture," by Cy, to be used only with permission of "The Gods Are Bored."

Friday, October 06, 2006

My Very Own Mennonite Stories

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" Check our Columbus Day specials for gods and goddesses you need to complete your set!

Well, the Amish have been much with us this week in all our prayers. But, frankly, they don't need our prayers because they are all going to heaven. And they know it, and it makes them brave and compassionate and ... insular. Why bother with what's going on in the world of the English, except to sell them quilts and scrapple?

In the years just before I was born (meaning, a long time ago), my mother taught Old Order Mennonites in public school. Of course, today you won't find a single Old Order Mennonite child in a public school. Heavens to Murgatroyd! The things worldly people want their students to know! Forget it.

My mother's students loved her, and vice versa. After I was born, and Mom's fragile health failed completely, her former Old Order Mennonite students would occasionally show up for a visit. You'd know they were at the house when you saw the black car with the painted bumper (chrome is worldly).

These folks are characterized by large families. Large as in 14 or 15 kids, with the last one usually having Down Syndrome.

Hey. I'm not being harsh, I'm just telling you what I saw.

One night I had a lot of homework to do when one of Mom's former students descended with about six of her kids in tow. I was in my room at my desk when a little girl wandered in, probably very little different than one that was buried this week in Lancaster County. She was cute as a button in her tight braids and plain dress with no buttons and black stockings.

She saw my pocketbook on the bed. It was a hippy-dippy leather thing with fringes. I made it from a craft kit.

She looked at me and said, "My mama says sinners carry those. Are you a sinner?"

Wow. What do you say to that? I sure wasn't gonna burst some six-year-old's bubble about heaven and hell by engaging her in a lengthy debate on comparative religion. So I just said, "Yes, but I'm working on it." She toddled out. Probably told all her siblings that she'd spoken to a sinner.

I recalled that exchange when my mom died in 2001. Somehow the Old Order Mennonites found out about Mom's passing. They showed up at the funeral home en masse, each one with the same fond story about how Mom took them on a field trip to Washington, DC. (Certainly a stronghold of sinners, then as now.) What struck me was that once they'd introduced themselves, men and women alike, they looked and dressed exactly the same. You couldn't tell Mary from Martha or Peter from Paul.

And I wondered, as I sat at Mom's funeral and listened to a eulogy by her favorite clergyperson, the gay choir director from her mainstream church (diamond stud in earlobe), what those Old Order Mennonites were thinking. Were they sad because they wouldn't see Mom in heaven? Were they wondering what they were doing amidst so many sinners? They certainly didn't try to convert anybody.

Once in awhile I run into one of Mom's students. They're getting old themselves now. One who runs a grocery in Flinstone, Maryland gave me some old black-and-white photos of Mom in front of the school where she taught.

They are one and all nice people with big hearts and long memories of pleasant times. I don't mind being seen as a sinner in their eyes if it makes them sleep better at night. On the Other Side, all distinctions become nebulous.

So sayeth the bored gods.


Thursday, October 05, 2006

Time to Call in the Faeries

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" If you think faeries are all a sweet bunch of little sprites flitting around the garden, think again. Now is the time for all good folks to call down the protection of the faeries from the rampaging forces of darkness in this land.

1. Fox News "incorrectly" identifies Congressman Folly (spelling deliberate) as a Democrat. Call down the protection of the faeries from this dangerously one-sided network.

2. Conservatives are saying that since liberals are sickened by Folly's behavior, that makes all liberals homophobic. Sorry, wingnuts, it makes us appalled that a grown man solicits sex from a minor. Gender matters not. Call down the protection of the faeries from sexual predators.

3. Burning fossil fuels and fighting to get more of them is hastening global climate change. Call down the protection of the faeries for the health of the earth.

4. Innocent children gunned down in their schools and schoolyards, walking home from school, standing on corners, strapped in car seats. Call down the protection of the faeries from gun violence.

5. The gap between rich and poor grows wider every day, and no American politician of any party (save Green) dares to challenge the mighty corporations from which campaign funds flow. Call down the protection of the faeries from social inequity.

6. If you are sick in body or mind, if you are anxious about your job, your children, your parents, your friends, call down the faeries to give you strength.

Remember, faeries and angels are different. Angels live far away, in heaven. Faeries flit among us all the time. There's probably one sitting on your computer right now. Ask him or her for protection, and join us, the followers of the Ancient Ones, drifting onward like apples on the flood no matter who strives to destroy us.

Image by Seitou, not to be used without permission of "The Gods Are Bored."

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

What Exactly Is the War on Terror?

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," where today we're going to talk about a well-trodden subject: terrorism.

We're fighting a war against it, you know. And we're safer than we used to be, but not as safe as we used to be, or something like that.

Okay. So we at "The Gods Are Bored" are seeking a definition of terrorism. Is it the unexpected violent murder of innocent civilians in an unprovoked attack?

Hey, wow, Anne! How'd you get so good with words as a goat judge?

The reason I bring this up is this: I would like for someone to explain to me how the horrible school shootings of this past week differ from the bombing of the World Trade Center in any particular except scope.

Anonymous lunatics, acting out of hatred, go on a spree and kill people, then kill themselves. It could be a skyscraper in Manhattan. It could be a one-room schoolhouse in Lancaster County, PA.

And my last question to our Fearless Leader is this: How do you plan to keep schoolgirls safe from terrorists? Oh my. Little Amish schoolgirls get killed by Christian mailmen with no oil wells in their backyards, in a state where it's easier to buy a gun than adopt a stray dog.

Em, Fearless Leader? They say you're tough on terrorism. Let's see you save school kids from random gun violence. That's terror, isn't it? How come you're not out in Lancaster today, promising that this attack won't go unanswered?

Ohhhh. I know! Because part of the answer would be to amend gun laws! And we all know what high regard our Fearless Leader has for the U.S. Constitution. No infringing on the Right to Bear Arms.

(Well, we need at least one clause in the doggone document to stay the same Before Bush and After Bush, right? Right? Right?)

One last word on the Amish and their children. These people live Christianity the way it was declared that it should be lived. They take no interest in worldly activities such as politics but rather see this earthly life as a drudgery to get through before attaining Paradise. They will have faith that their little lost daughters have gone to that Paradise without having to suffer the ills attendant on the mortal condition. This is not to minimize their grief, but just to explain how they look at the world. I know this because my mama taught Old Order Mennonites in school, and they liked her and allowed her a window on their world.

So, I'm back to the point of this post. My children go to school. I myself work at an urban high school, where sometimes I have to stand by the front door armed only with a walkie-talkie. Mr. President, what do you plan to do about this alarming development in the War on Terror?


Tuesday, October 03, 2006

A Living Treasure

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," your personal pagan promenade! And thanks for your many helpful comments on how to run for Congress! I decided I don't have the heart to do it. Apparently you have to get really close to your staff, especially if they're young, and that just doesn't appeal to me.

Before we get started today, I'd like all you pagan priestesses (and you know who you are) to check out "Blog from on High." http://blogfromonhigh.blogspot.com
Scroll down to see the most tasteless commentary on mammograms I've ever seen. Be sure to let Jerry know what you think of his sick fantasies.

Today's topic: Me! I'm a Living Treasure!

Yesterday was some sort of Jewish holiday, so the schools around here were closed. I am willing to spend one day -- one day -- per year at the seashore. Yesterday was that day.

My daughters and I toddled off to Ocean City, New Jersey. The weather was glorious, and about half of the stores were open. We had a super duper time together. It was a joy watching them cavort in the surf (close to shore), even though I dislike the beach because it's:
1. Where the water runs uphill, which ain't nacheral to a hillbilly gal like me.
2. Sand is composed of tiny itty bitty bits of Appalachian Mountains, ground up way too fine.

My daughter The Spare wanted some Johnson's Popcorn. With a name like that, you know it's the best in the world. So we got to the popcorn shop while it was still open. The Spare bought a small tub (nicely packaged for Samhain). Inspired by the name of the enterprise, I purchased an extra large tub (also nicely packaged for Samhain).

At day's end we were walking up the boards toward the municipal parking lot. We saw a threesome admiring the view near the community pier. I heard one of the gentlemen speak, and he had an Australian accent. Since he didn't use "youse" in a sentence, I concluded he was a tourist.

The couple with him asked where we had gotten the Johnson's popcorn. Alas, it was a mile and a half back down the boardwalk, and the hour neared 5:30. You could see they were disappointed. They wanted their friend to have some.

So I gave him mine.

The couple pleaded with me to let them pay for it. I wouldn't hear of it. They kept pressing until the Aussie gent told them to stop, clearly the sweet lady (moi) wanted to do a good deed.

As my daughters and I walked away, I heard the gent from Down Under say: "It's been this way for me everywhere I've gone in America. That woman. Oh, so kind. She's a living treasure."

Boy, did I tease my daughters about that! I've been making them call me "Living Treasure" ever since!

In everything I do I attempt to honor the bored gods and goddesses, most especially Queen Brighid the Bright. So rightly I think they're the Living Treasures, not me.

Just don't tell my daughters.


Sunday, October 01, 2006

Wisdom of the D.A.R.

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," spotless housekeeping and serious soul-searching in one neat package! Think of us as a melange of Martha Stewart and Mother Teresa pureed in a very clean blender.

You know how to get some good thinking done? Go to a luncheon of Daughters of the American Revolution. The ones with a cash bar are best. Then find a seat between two doddering old Relics whose entire blouse-fronts are covered with official pins.

Admire the pins on Relic One. Then ask her: "My, how long did it take you to locate so many Revolutionary War ancestors?"

Trust me, she will launch into an oratory of Homeric length, all about how her ancestor Jedediah Ezekial Snagglerumpkin married Mary Jones and had six children, but then married Mary's sister, Marie Jones, and had six more, and she had to figure out which Mary was the mother of her ancestor Obediah Jehosaphat Snagglerumpkin, who moved to Iowa after the war and ...

If she runs out of steam, you need only turn to Relic Two, who will regale you with the difficulties of finding her ancestor Ismail Bicker, whose name has been variously spelled "Bicker," "Becker," "Bikker," "Bekker," "Bichter," etc. etc. etc.

Next thing you know, you're staring at her nose and wondering how to get to the next level on Sonic the Hedgehog. All you ever need say is, "Oh, my," and/or "How very difficult for you!"

At luncheon's end the Relics will be telling your Regent what a promising young woman you are, you should definitely be holding an important state office!

Okay, Anne. What's the point of this little ramble?

Exactly this: Somehow, through many dangers, toils, and snares, the descendants of Jedediah Ezekial Snagglerumpkin (m. Marie Jones, 2nd) and Ismail Bicker (Becker) have come to be sitting in advanced old age in a posh country club, with Manhattans and steaming bowls of clam chowder before them.

Think about it. One day, Ismail's running pell-mell from the Redcoats, hoping he can reach the forest before they can aim properly. The next day he's home making babies. (They'd better be legitimate, the D.A.R. doesn't accept love children in lineages.)

Somehow we rock on, no matter how crappy the government, no matter how unpredictable the weather.

This month is sacred to the Celts, culminating in Samhain, our New Year. On Samhain Eve (better known as Halloween), the veil between this world and the other grows thin. If you clear Sonic out of your head and concentrate on your kinsfolk who have passed, you may perhaps feel them gather around you. When they arrive, you can thank them for not being named Jedediah Ezekial Snagglerumpkin.

In preparation for Samhain -- and quite mindful of how such stuff can be more boring than a stewardship sermon -- we at "The Gods Are Bored" will be climbing down the old family tree and meeting and greeting The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly of our ancestors. Somehow they found time to make babies while the world was going to hell around them. And it did, often.

You will not get a dull recitation of how many ways the name "Johnson" can be spelled. Promise.

So please join us for our Samhain-inspired series, "Apples on the Flood: Surviving the Apocalypse (Several of 'em)."