Monday, June 26, 2006

I walked to work today

I should really start doing that more often. On a related note, I saw An Inconvenient Truth yesterday. If you haven't been to that already, go see it. Pretty incredible, scary stuff.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Lots of Stuff

If you look up "packrat" in the dictionary, you'll find a picture of my Grandma Jackie. Her two-bedroom apartment was stuffed to the gills, basically just leaving linear paths to move around in, with no actual space. Now that she's gone, my dad's family gets to go through and figure out what to do with it all. I spent all weekend and also yesterday evening up there, along with Dad, all of his siblings, and varying numbers of cousins. So at any given time there were usually 6-9 of us trying to maneuver around in this little space, preferrably without breaking anything.

A lot of the stuff, of course, is getting divvied up between family members, based on either sentimental or practical desires. Even more of it is getting donated to the local hospice thrift shop. We started by filling the bed of a pickup truck with garbage bags filled with clothes. There's still another batch of those to go, too, I think. And then the books. After we had each taken a box or a few for ourselves, and Aprill and Lamar had gotten several boxes of books on Christianity for their church's library, there were still 34 boxes left to get donated. Then a few more of music and videos and such. Plus trinkets, figurines and knicknacks up the wazoo (the raccoons alone took up a box of their own). And there was plenty of pure junk as well. I lost track of how many boxes of stuff I threw away. And even after all of this, there's probably still more stuff in that apartment than I own myself, but progress is definitely visible.

The very sentimental stuff is getting handled more carefully, of course. The evolving method is to pick an item type (e.g. pictures on the walls) and then have people take turns choosing what they want to take, working through a hierarchy of siblings by age, and then into the second generation (mine) when the first has the most important stuff, and occasionally into the third, since Kathy's granddaughter Jessie was there last night as well. Anything left over after that is up for grabs until it gets packed away.

Anyway, it's been a really interesting few days. I think it's been good to have so much of the family together and working on a big project together like this. There's a huge mix of personality types in the group, but on some level there's definitely something that we all "get" about Jackie and her passing. We can all miss her and love her while still laughing at her eccentricities and her ability to just "keep on giving." So it's been good.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Grandma Jackie

Grandma Jackie Grandma Jackie passed away this morning. For 16 years various doctors have been telling her that her time was nearly up, but she just kept trucking along, traveling the world, being active in her church community, and just generally loving everyone who came within reach. When she had an accident last month and was hospitalized for a week, though, even she started admitting it was probably the beginning of the end. But she was ready, and was happy with her life, and it gave the family all time to get together and prepare. On Monday I was up visiting her and got a chance to record her talking about her life, and about Grandpa Marsh, and her brother Bob, and the places she had traveled, and other memories. Dad said it was one of the last few real conversations anyone got to have with her, since she spent the last few days heavily medicated and just generally fading out. So I feel very blessed to have gotten to do that. She died this morning with Aunt Pat, and I think it was all pretty easy and peaceful.

As I've thought about all this, both today and in anticipation over the last few weeks, I've realized that Grandma Jackie was not only a good role model for living, but also a good role model for dying. That sounds odd to say, but I think it's an important thing that isn't thought about often enough. She lived her life (and more of it than anyone had expected) doing everything she thought was important and meaningful, and she was happy with it, and at peace, and ready for the transition. She made sure to get visits from everyone she could towards the end, and she had her children with her in shifts constantly for the last few weeks. Uncle Jim and Lacey also both made it down from Oregon just the other day, and I was up again last night with Lacey, Aprill & Lamar, Dad and all three of his siblings, so it was a really good gathering. We all got to spend some time with each other and with Jackie, and to talk to her. She wasn't really able to respond much, but I think it was really good for her to have so much family love around her during the final stages. I couldn't have asked for things to have gone much better than that.

I'm heading up to Rossmoor tonight to be with family, and I'll probably be up there most of the weekend.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Indistinguishable From Magic

A while back I mentioned that I would post more about my theories on magic, and I still intend to. It will probably just come in bits and pieces, though, especially since my ideas on the subject are under constant development. Anyway, here's one more bit of it, to expand on some of my recent comments on Tarot cards. One thing I said there was that I don't explicitly look for anything magical to come out of a Tarot reading (or any other sort of divination system for that matter). However, I do believe there is a form of magic involved.

A favorite quote of mine is from a book called Why Be Jewish?, by David J. Wolpe: "Prophets do not foretell the future; rather, they see deeply into the present." This is more or less what I mean when I say I use tools like the Tarot, Medicine Cards, whatever, as thinking aids. By using them to focus my attention in certain areas, I can see more deeply into the present and learn why I think, feel or act the way I do. The better I do at this, the better idea I have of where things are going, since the future flows from the present. I'm not saying this in a completely deterministic way, though, as if we have no free will. This would merely be an indication of where things are going given the conditions that currently exist. If you don't like what you see, then you will hopefully also be having some insight on what you need to do to change it.

Now, one can imagine a person developing such skill at this sort of thing that they really do appear to be literally seeing into the future, or "fortune telling" in a stereotypical view of Tarot. Like Arthur C. Clarke's famous quote about "any sufficiently advanced technology," this person's skill would be indistinguishable from magic. And this is what I'm aiming at in my general theory of magic: that it is based in reality and therefore, in some degree, accessible to us without requiring supernatural or fictional powers. I'm certainly only a novice wizard, if you want to think of it that way, since my insights in Tarot readings are probably relatively minor as these things go. And I can really only do this for myself -- I don't think I could properly interpret cards for someone else. But the interesting point is that this is something I can do, and therefore something I can get better at. Which is why I think magic is possible.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Year of the Cubed Slip Jig

Twenty-seven is an interesting number, since being 3 x 3 x 3 makes it not only a cube but a slip jig. Also, slip jigs often make good cross-step waltzes, which is another reason this is a good number. It also reminds me somewhat of 25, in being very pointed, though I think it has more motion and less stability to it. But all the nines involved make it also very secretive.

On a final note, apparently I share a birthday with Scott Adams.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Tarot Clustering

I tend to approach Tarot (and other related things, like Angel Cards or Medicine Cards) similar to the way I think about dream interpretation. I don't necessarily look for it to be magical -- though "uncannily accurate" tends to happen a lot -- but it provides a very interesting way to think about things and focus the concentration. One thing I like to do is the "pathway" spread that I learned from my set of Medicine Cards, even though I currently prefer to use Tarot cards for it. I also like the idea of looking at cards' proximity to each other in a shuffled deck, which direction they're facing, etc., for additional interpretations or influences on meaning.

Anyway, based on that latter concept, I had what I thought was an interesting idea for a very large-scale, all-encompassing Tarot spread. Shuffle the deck as desired and then spread the whole thing out on the floor, with all the cards showing face up. Then group them all into clusters based on their proximity to certain predetermined, significant cards. E.g. if you're into this kind of stuff, you may have a card in mind that best represents you personally, so use that as one of them. The Lovers could represent your current romantic relationship, something like (just off the top of my head) the 10 of Cups could be family, somethings else for career, etc. Alternatively, you could choose to group cards around all the Major Arcana. Either way, the remaining cards could reveal influences on all those areas based on where they fall in which clusters. The central "point" cards wouldn't be entirely excluded from influencing others, since you could look at where they all fall in relation to each other. I think this would make for a fascinating interpretation project, though it would obviously require a good chunk of time, involving the entire deck like this.

By the way, if anyone's interested, I love the Robin Wood Tarot deck. (Thanks, Antonia!)