Goddess of the Week: Ceridwen

one. ugly. monkey.Image by chris.corwin via Flickr

There's nothing worse for a mother than to see her child suffer, just ask the Welsh goddess Ceridwen, who had the bad luck of giving birth to some of the ugliest children ever born. Take her oldest son, Afagddu (yeah! Try to survive middle school with that moniker). Afagddu was so hairy that people mistook him for a shag-carpeted ottoman. His teeth were rotten. His nose looked like a grapefruit. And his limbs were so scrawny and akimbo that his father once mistook him for moss-covered kindling.

Think of every mean name you've ever been called. Think of every person who teased you. Now multiple that by the entire planet: Now you've got poor Afagddu's childhood. He was the butt of so many jokes that even goats laughed when he walked by. It was a bad scene.

Mothers can do a lot for their children, but there are some things they can't do. Mothers can't take their children's SATS. They can't shield their children from every hurt and insult. And they can't take Afagddus and turn them into people you would want for your secret boyfriend. All mothers can do is try and help their children make the most of what they have, which is all to say that Ceridwen had a plan.

If Afagddu couldn't be beautiful, she decided he could be wise. In fact, she decided he could be the wisest man who ever lived. She totally signed him up Kumon. Plus, she decided to make him this special wisdom potion. It took a year and a day to boil, and when it was done there were only three drops of it -- but that was all Afagddu would need. Unfortunately, one of the drops fell on Cerdiwen's younger son, Gwion Bach, who licked it right up, so poor Afagddu only became smart enough to know how ugly everyone thought he was, which made him really depressed.

Now, when you've been cooking something special for a year and a day, and one of your kids snags it when it isn't even for them, it kind of pisses you off. I mean, just think how annoying it is to stand there stirring instant pudding, and that only takes one minute. We're talking A YEAR AND A DAY OF STIRRING A FRICKING POT ON THE STOVE. It'd turn Cinderella into a bitch. So we kind of have to forgive Ceridwen for getting so mad at Gwion Bach that she ate him. (Besides, it's not like he was dead forever. He got to be reincarnated as some totally famous bard, which was cool for him and which just goes to show that bad mommy moments are not irredeemable.)

Ceridwen reminds us that mothers can't solve everything, even when they're goddesses. Mothers can point us toward paths, but they can't choose them for us, and they sure can't strap us on their backs and make for the horizon.

Channel this goddess: Usually around science fair time, but you'll know when else it's appropriate.

Need a goddess: I got goddesses! Tell me what you need in the comment section and I'll see what I can find.

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Joyology 101

Ok, people, we must work very hard to find the joy today. The hounds are positively at the gates. There is not enough money, there is not enough time, and the children ar

Large Tea Cup and SaucerImage by mccheek via Flickr

e ill behaved at best. And have you seen the dust bunnies? They tried to eat the dog today. We could barely corral them back under the dresser where they belong.

Still, we must be resolute. Here is what we must do: Since the sky is gray and rain is predicted, we must make a cup of tea and we must put it in a pretty cup and saucer. (No. You may not use that chipped mug with the Easter Bunny on it. Sure. It's easier to get to and it's less fragile than the china but it's ugly and tacky and today we are seeking our fricking joy so get the goddamn good cup. We deserve it.)

Next, let's enjoy our tea while wrapped inside in a big warm blanket. Let us remember those happy in utero days of yore when life was one big, cozy water bed and we could peacefully suck life straight out of our mothers' bodies. Let us not dwell on the karmic justice of having our own little vampires suck the life straight out of ours, in utero and out, for almost fifteen years now.

Instead, let us sip our tea, in the dark, and watch "Bridget Jones Diary." Let us watch our secret boyfriend nobly see the inner beauty in that alcoholic, chain-smoking, foul mouthed Renee Zellweger. Sigh. He is so good. And since it is all about the joy, let us (meaning you), refrain from all eye-rolling and smirks directed at our choice of movie and secret boyfriend. We all have our coping mechanisms, after all.

Finally, let us indulge in a little bowl of our favorite cherry chocolate chip ice cream. (The dust bunnies are advancing, but we can't hear them when the spoon clinks against the bowl. Best make it a big bowl.)
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Cookies Anyone?

Younger daughter held a bake sale on Sunday. While the rest of the country was getting ready for the Superbowl, she was making brownies, chocolate chip cookies and oatmeal cookies.

She organized the event with two other girls from her math class. All three of them would bake, all three of them would sell, and the money would be split between The Glendale Humane Society (where we got our dog) and The Sunshine Club (an organization for orphans in the Philippines.)

Alas, in the end, one girl couldn't make it and one girl forgot. But Younger Daughter is pretty unflappable. She took her product and sat in front of our house for an hour and a half. Neighbors came. People ate. Money was raised. Good deeds were done. By my girl. She's a keeper.


Goddess of the Week: Calliope

Rois needs a goddess to help with writer's block. Let me tell you, sister, I've been there myself and I know just who you need: Calliope.

Calliope is the Greek muse of epic poetry. It is her job to inspire writers, just like

Detalhe da musa CallĂ­ope no quadro The Muses U...Image via Wikipedia

she inspired Homer. Because of the sorry state of modern education, most people don't realize that Homer struggled with terrible writer's block when he was writing The Odyssey.

Here's what happened: Homer's first book, The Iliad, had been this huge success, and Homer's publisher was all, "We want another book just like The Iliad, but different -- maybe a sequel! Yeah! A sequel! I'm thinking zombies in the Trojan horse. I'm thinking zombie Achilles. I'm thinking zombies, zombies, zombies. And naked Helen. As a zombie."

Homer tried, but he just couldn't do it. His authentic self just couldn't do zombies -- or vampires. He wrote half a half the manuscript for a book called "Trojan Twilight," but he just had to burn the damn thing. It was that bad.

He didn't know what to do! He was ready to give up writing forever when Calliope paid him a visit. She said, "Homer, I know the people want zombies and vampires, but this is Ancient Athens. We don't have have zombies and vampires. Write what you know. Write cyclopses and enchantresses that turn men into the pigs they already are. So he did, and the rest is history.

Calliope reminds writers that good writing is authentic writing. Be yourself, and if your self has to let the ground lay fallow so that it can once again produce fruit, then let the ground lay fallow. Your pen will be there when you're ready and so will your readers.

Channel this goddess: when stumped about what to write, when the well has run dry, or when you need to sound especially articulate in order to get what you want.

Need a goddess? I got goddesses! Leave a comment specifying your need and I will see what I can find.


Wise Women Friday: Gertrude Stein

Words of wisdom from American writer Gertrude Stein (1874-1946):

As a cousin of mine once said about money, money is always there but the pockets change; it is not in the same pockets after a change, and that is all there is to say about money.

Icon of U.S. currency.Image via Wikipedia

Ha! I found five bucks on the street today. I was just walking along with my dog, minding my own business, and there is was: a five dollar bill. So there you go, the pockets changed. I'm guessing the bill fell out of some middle schooler's pocket. The kid probably would have used the bill to buy lunch, but since I'm pretty much down on middle schoolers these days, I say this child has learned an important lesson. Use a wallet.

I remember this other time I found five dollars. I was probably about twelve. My sister and I were fighting over whose turn it was to take out the trash. In an injustice of outrageous proportions, it was finally determined by the gods on high -- namely, my mom -- that it was, apparently, my turn. So, in another example of the mile-high burden of suffering I endured as a child, I took out the damn trash, which meant that I had to walk, like, 100 whole feet to the parking lot of our apartment building and put the garbage in one of those big, stinky bins. (And it was stinky. I'm not exaggerating.) But, HA! I turned around, and there it was, on the parking lot asphalt: five dollars. There was not a soul in sight, so I grabbed the money and ran home.

"Look! I found five dollars!" I screamed to my mother and sister.

"That's not fair!" yelled my sister. "You have to share it with me!"

But I didn't share it because it was fricking mine!

(Which just goes to show that as much I suffered as a child, my mother suffered even more.)

Anyway, too bad for the sucker kid who lost his money because it's my money now. Mine. Mine. Mine. I'm a happy miser.


Thank You

First, a thank you. Thank you to all the readers who clicked over to the Rose City Sisters flash fiction website to read my short story "Sweet Revenge." Because of you, my story was named a finalist in the site's story of the year competition.

Second, an update. "Sweet Revenge" won! I'm excited, honored and grateful. I had very good company.

Just thought you'd want to know.


Goddess of the Week: Athena

JCK asks for a goddess of "courage, daring and leap of faithing."

At first, I wanted to come up with someone really unusual for you, JCK, but I think I've got to go with Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom and the stalwart companion of heroes. She helped Odysseus find his way home after the Trojan War. She helped Jason get his golden fleece. She helped Heracles redeem himself after post-traumatic stress disorder finally caught up with him and he killed his wife and kids. If you want to be the hero of your own life, Athena's your gal.

Odysseus and his men blinding the cyclops Poly...Image via Wikipedia

Athena reminds us that courage is not about brawn or a reckless willingness to jump into the deep end. It's about smarts. Odysseus wasn't the biggest or toughest warrior fighting the Trojans, Achilles was, and -- OMG -- talk about your prima donnas. Achilles spent practically the whole war sitting in his tent because he didn't get to keep the girl he stole. Then, when he finally did fight, he went and got himself killed. Achilles trusted only in strength. Odysseus trusted in smarts, which is always a better bet.

Just ask the giant one-eyed cyclops Polyphemus. He was kind of like Achilles in that he was total brute strength and fearlessness, but he was even dumber. On their way home after the Trojan war, Polyphemus trapped Odysseus and a bunch of his men in his cave. When Polyphemus started snacking on them, Odysseus got Polyphemus drunk, poked his eye out and snuck out of the cave under a sheep, which just goes to show that brains and a sharp stick can take you far in life! Of course, later, Polyphemus got his dad Poseidon to hamper Odysseus' journey so that it basically took them twenty years to get home, but that's only because Odysseus got cocky. So basically, brains, a sharp stick, and humility are what you need.

Athena won't give you the sharp stick, but she'll give you the brains, and she'll be more generous with them if you're humble about it. And that's all you need because, in the end, courage is all in your head.

Channel this goddess: When trapped by fear, doubt, or Cyclopes -- real or metaphorical. Don't worry. Be clever.

Need a goddess: Leave me a request in the comment section. I'll get you just what you need!