Mystical Musings

The real-life inter-dimensional adventures of a suburban mom will entertain and educate you.

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Location: London, NW8, United Kingdom

A "recovering academic", I have left the world of research and teaching Psychology. My current focus is on offering hypnotherapy, Reiki, and spiritual support for clients and hospice residents. I like to express myself through the arts, especially drama (the quirky-comic relief part),stand-up comedy, painting, and the fiber arts.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Woman mauled in vicious sewing machine attack

At approximately 8 pm last night, a Massachusetts woman was injured in what appears to be a vicious attack by her sewing machine.

The woman, whose name was not immediately available, was placidly sewing on some costumes for a children's school musical production when her sewing apparatus attacked with no warning. With scorpion-like swiftness, the machine reached out and pierced her left index finger with it's needle-sharp needle. The sound of snapping metal reverberated throughout the room and a searing pain overtook the woman. She immediately stood up and examined the finger, from which part of the needle was seen to be protruding, having gone through the fingernail and partially out the fingertip. The only other evidence of this random impalement was a single drop of blood oozing from the fingernail.

She loudly called upstairs, saying she needed immediate medical attention. Her devoted husband drove her to the nearest hospital, using the exact route they had rehearsed only thirteen years earlier in readiness for the birth of their second child. In the waiting room, she ran into xxxxxxxx, who owns the local ice cream emporium and who remembers her from 19 years ago when she used to wheel her first-born in his stroller up to the corner for ice cream and air-conditioning. xxxxxxx was in the emergency room with his father, who had been in the industrial sewing machine business, and who insisted on finding out what brand and type of machine had gone so horribly wrong. Chatting with them was a good antidote to the searing pain now throbbing through the woman's hand. In between shouting her answers at the elderly partially deaf man, they watched "Dancing with the Stars" and assessed their chances of being seen in the near future.

The woman received superior care at the hospital and was home in under three hours from time of accident. She received before-and-after x-rays, a local anesthetic injection into the affected finger, extraction of most of the needle, potent pain management medications, and a band-aid. She also had to endure the radiologist's story of how he had nailed two of his fingers together with a nail gun. She was prescribed potent painkillers, which she advised the medical professional would keep her up all night cleaning the house. No, no, they said. This will make you sleepy AND kill the pain, unlike a sedative. Whilst waiting for the taxi that would take her home, she decided she really did need to lessen the pain, as the local anesthetic began to wear off.

Arriving home at 10:45 pm, she began to putter around the house and wound up writing this memoir of the occasion.

Due to the fact that a fragment of metal remains in her fingertip, eventhough she is actually able to use it without pain to type this report, she will undergo medical follow-up by the hand specialist in a day or two, with an in-patient surgical procedure to remove the remaining fragment of steel in the days to follow.

The sewing machine could not be reached for comment. It may be quarantined and/or destroyed.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

It is with regret that I write to let you know of the passing of one of our pets into the cosmic pond. "Schnookie Jr.", an African Water Frog, died sometime in the night. S/he (we never did definatively decide) was over twelve years old. S/He was originally a gift to my son from his cousin on his sixth birthday.

Actually, Schnookie Jr. was the replacement froglet sent by the Grow-A-Frog company, in keeping with their policy of replacing your tadpole in the event of "an unfortunate incident". That first frog, the original "Schnookie" made its transition shortly after completing its metamorphosis from tadpole to frog. The name "Schnookie" was suggested in the company's literature as a possible choice for your new pet. It means "cute little thing" in German. The irony was that Schnookie Jr. was neither cute, nor little, as it's snout-to-rump measurement was about five inches, and the outstretched legs added another three or four inches.

Schnookie Jr. had many endearing qualities, including making plopping noises in his/her tank at all hours of the night, startling some overnight guests. Unknown to his parents, our son also trained him/her to eat its diet of tiny broken "food sticks" by holding fly-sized pieces in his fingertips and having the frog jump out of the water and take them in its wide, toothless mouth. The first time that D. was away at overnight camp and I had to feed the frog, as soon as it saw my fingers over the tank, and just as I was about to drop the bit of food, Schnookie Jr. LEAPT up out of the water and clamped his/her mouth on my fingertips. I had to scrape myself off the ceiling.

At one point Schnookie Jr. was joined in his/her habitat by "Christina", a pink-colored albino African Water Froglet. This seemed to please both frogs, as one of them (we never figured out which, but suspected that "Christina" may have been a male) would make strange "rouwer-rouwer-rouwer" grinding noises at night. This noise was unbelievably loud for a froglet smaller than a nickel, and Christina, who was really our daughter's frog (hence the choice of pink) was moved out into it's own habitat in E's room. The mating calls stopped immediately.
"Christina" pre-deceased Schnookie Jr. by four or five years, never really acheiving full size.

S/he was replaced last year by "Lindy", another albino froglet. Interestingly, although kept in separate tanks in the same room, "Lindy" began the same pattern of grinding noises. This kept the family thinking that perhaps the dishwasher or even the TV was broken and was emitting the noises. Moving the two tanks into separate parts of the house did not always work to stop the calling. Lindy continues to make the mating calls even though there is no other frog currently in residence.

Schnookie Jr. leaves "Lindy", and his/her devoted family of over twelve years. His longevity is a testimony to the care provided by his primary caregiver, D., and the many pet-sitters who have assisted with those duties during our vacations.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Classes for Humans

Here, the latest entry in the blog of Mystical Marjie. Written in response to emails that are currently circulating.
Copyright (c) 2006 by Marjorie B. Harrison. Feel free to forward around the world without a fee, as long as the copyright notice is attached and the text is not altered in any way.

motto: Agape et Lux (Love and Light)
Founded Eons Ago

announces its course line-up for the current millenium
Basic Human Dignity 101: How to Feed, Clothe, and Provide Medical Care for Every Human on the Planet
An Extra Intensive Seminar on How Not to Whine About Taxes will be required for anyone who tends to whine about how much this will personally cost them.
NOTE: Lab Course will meet every week on a seven-day cycle. For five days of the cycle, Participants will be required to embed themselves in an underfunded district and personally meet and interview, and provide services for 700 people. The other two days will require working in a shelter or kitchen on one day, and providing intake interviews for medical care on the other.

This course will meet every day for a lifetime.

SPECIAL NOTE: This course WILL BE required for graduation, and, even if it is the only course taken, will guarantee that a diploma will be conferred. Fulfills all requirements for a concentration in Basic Humanity.

Back by Need: Men and Women Cooperating Together without Sniping.
Men and Women will meet twice a week together, and once a week with members of their own gender. Each week, consensus will have to be reached on a topic of interest to only ONE of the gender groups. The people of the other gender will learn active listening skills (how to reflect back that you've actually heard what was said) and active silence skills (knowing when to keep quiet) Topics will be chosen at random from a list generated by each gender. In the course meeting with only one gender, each group will have to discuss the opposite sex without resorting to sarcasm, put-downs, generalizations, belittling, or jokes.

Note: If you don't pass this course the first time you take it, you are required to re-take it after spending one semester LIVING 24-7 as the other gender.
Coming Next Semester:

Building a Society that is Humane
This is a more theoretical course provided by popular demand. Participants will be required to design, from the ground up, a cooperative community where the goal is the common good of all. Design of co- housing, food cooperatives, sustainable farming, renewable energy sources, and educational delivery systems will be encouraged. Participants will be graded on their final design by a panel of ordinary citizens.

ALSO OFFERRED For the Advanced Student:
My God is the Same God as Your God.
Participants will be asked to interview, live with, and worship with people from fifteen other faith-based groups. The final exam will be a test of 1) knowledge about the traditions and beliefs of those faiths, and

2) an in-depth report on the similarities of the Deity as seen through each faith.
Extra Credit will be given to those who contact the Divine Source directly through prayer, meditation, or other contemplative or active practice, and who are able to quote that Source based on their own interaction with Him/Her/It.

A Panel of Experts will grade participants. Experts will change each semester, but may include Jesus, Mohammed, Mary, Mother Theresa, Abraham, Isaiah, Shiva, Krishna, Buddha, Kwan Yin, Mother Earth, Great Spirit, Zeus, Athena, etc.

Coming Soon (we hope)

Living in a Society that Values Peace. This course is still under construction, but the Administration is aware of the demand.
Topics include: Proportion of the annual budget that is spent on warfare vs. Humane services, How to Invest in Peace-promoting Funds, Rewarding Members of Society for Peaceful Actions, Finding Peace in Your Own Heart So That You Can Be an Instrument of Peace.

Participants will be required to complete the following actions while maintaining a peaceful attitude:
  • Listening to a politician whose policies you do not support;
  • Driving in rush hour;
  • Getting through the Express Check-out Line behind someone with more than the maximum allowed items without saying anything either out loud OR under your breath (advanced participants will be asked to perform this action without even thinking anything ill of the person)
  • Parenting from infancy to teens
  • Watching real-life depictions of violence against other people without wanting to retaliate.

Universal University offers all these courses for Free to anyone with a human genome. Contact your Higher Self to apply.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

My Mystical Experience on the River, or How I Wrangled an Alewife

May 27, 2006

Yesterday I received a strange telephone call from a man named Mac Howland, whom I know from my church. Mac and I were supposed to go canoeing on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend. I had purchased this long-awaited adventure at our church auction seven years ago, and had never “collected” my trip. I was pleased that we were finally going to ship out, but was intrigued when Mac enquired how I felt about touching fish. I assumed he was talking about fish we would catch, and although I had not expected to go fishing, I said that it would be OK, as long as I didn’t have to gut them. Mac assured me that the fish would be fully alive, they are herring who just need a hand getting over a dam on the Mystic river in Massachusetts as they swim upstream to spawn.

Now, how many people can say that they have been invited to help wrangle fish over a dam? I took the bait, and we set up a time to depart for nearby Medford on Saturday morning, May 27, 2006.

At the appointed hour, Mac pulled up in front of my house in his station wagon with the canoe strapped precariously on top. I boarded, and we drove off to the Mystic River. About ten minutes later, as we entered the parking lot, we noticed a strong odor of fish. I did not believe that we’d be able to smell the live herring from several hundred yards away from the river, but it was true.

There was a great deal of activity already in progress at the dam. Several dozen adults and children milled around the spillway. Each person carried either a bucket or a net. People were standing on the rocks below the dam, swirling their nets in the water, and occasionally lifting a six-inch herring out of the stream. There was quite a lot of white water roiling around these rocks, but this was not an obstacle for the herring. The four-foot high dam just beyond, which divides the Upper Mystic Lake from the Lower Mystic Lake, was the spot that the migrating herring could not manage to navigate. As there is no fish ladder yet on this obstacle course, the fish would be unable to reach their spawning grounds to reproduce.

The Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries (as opposed to, say, the Division of Submarine fisheries, or perhaps the Division of Terrestrial Fisheries?) oversees the annual herring migrations on Massachusetts rivers. Poaching of herring (in wine?) is forbidden, so there were representatives from the Department there on site.

Mac and I joined the throng at the edge of the stream. I had remembered to don my Teva (tm)sandals just before I left the house, so felt secure on the algae-frosted rocks and concrete that lay below the dam. I picked out a rock at the lowest part of the spillway, and perched my bottom on it, while my feet and ankles were in the water. The area had received a lot of rain two weeks before, resulting in local flooding, and a deluge of thunderstorms had occurred just the night before, so there was a relatively high level of water in the river. The water temperature was quite comfortable for my feet, and the day was sunny with air temperatures in the 70’s. It felt like high summer, although still late spring by the calendar. The ocean temperature had reached 51 degrees F, so the type of herring known locally as the “alewife” (Alosa pseudobarengus) "knew" it was the right time to head inland and up-river.

After a few minutes, I noticed a cold bumping sensation on my ankles. It was the herring, arriving in clusters. I could see a few of the fish attempting to jump up through the rushing water, but not making too much headway because of the force of the flow, which had just danced over the dam. I swished the net around a little, facing the opening upstream, because I figured the fish would try to go up and would wind up going back downstream, hence into my net. Once I used this strategy with good results, I saw others, particulary two girls dressed in turquoise as I was, move lower down to the “bottom” of the spillway and sit on rocks nearby. There were some boys nearby with a net that had a six-foot long pole, and we had to watch our heads so we would not be conked by the vigorous thrusting of this pole as the boys wrestled the Alewives into their bucket.

Sometimes the herring would get stuck in the net, because their diameter at their widest point near the gills was exactly the same size as the holes in the net. Just turning the net inside-out and dumping into the bucket did not work in these instances. I had to grasp the fish around the middle and squeeze it forward the way it was headed out of the net. This would upset the already agitated fish, which would then plop gratefully into the relative safety of the bucket.
When the bucket contained “enough” herring (enough to make a trip over the slimy rocks to the collection spot, but not so many that they ran out of oxygen before they were liberated…I learned that the hard way), I would heave it up out of the river, sometimes using the weight of it to steady myself as the water rushing over the dam threatened to sweep me off my feet. A trip of about twenty feet across the slimy rocks brought me to just underneath the bridge that spans the spillway. Several people were up on top, and would lower another empty bucket down on a rope. The object was to transfer all of one’s fish into the empty bucket, along with some but not all of the water, because too much water made the bucket too heavy to be retrieved upward. After pouring the fish and water from one bucket to the other, I had to tip the full bucket slightly to the side and use my hand to prevent the fish from escaping as I dumped out some of the water. I then gave the bridge people the thumbs-up signal and up the fish went. If the “hauler” was good, the bucket full of fish would NOT careen violently towards one’s head as it started its ascent.

I would then make my way back to “my” rock, and the whole cycle would begin again. If it had not been such a pleasantly warm day, this task would have been much more difficult. The river water actually felt refreshing, not cold, and I found it fun to sit on the rock and have the water splashing all around and over me. Mac was off on the other side of the river, so I chatted with the kids nearby, and was occasionally asked for assistance in squeezing a few fish through the mesh of one of their nets.

Alas, our time with the Alewives had to end too soon, as Mac and I had another adventure awaiting us, which was to canoe from Little Pond in Belmont, Mass., down the Little River to Alewife Brook, and on through Arlington into Medford, where Alewife Brook joins the Mystic. The tale of that adventure shall be recounted separately.

Upon my arrival home, my daughter informed me that I smelled of fish, which was true. I decided that the theme song for the experience should be Van Morrison’s ballad “Into the Mystic”, which he wrote while living in Cambridge, Mass. The next day, I thought I smelled a similar smell coming from the pond across the street, which is connected to Alewife Brook in Arlington. I also had a run-in with a raccoon on Memorial Day (blogged separately) that smelled distinctly fishy.

See the Mystic River Watershed Association’s website for more information about the Alewife herring run in this location, and the state of Massachusett’s site for more information regarding regulations and permits.
There are also 9 “herring viewing opportunities” around the Massachusetts coast to check out from April to June: You may be able to smell when the herring are running!
  • Monument River Fishway, Monument River, Bournedale
  • Lower Mill Pond Dam and Fishway, Stony Brook, Brewster
  • Alewife Brook, town of Essex
  • Wareham Street Dam and Fishway, Nemasket River, Middleboro
  • Woolen Mill Dam and Fishway, Parker River, Newbury
  • Jenny Grist Mill Dam and Fishway, Town Brook, Plymouth
  • Mill Pond Dam and Fishway, Agawam River, Wareham
  • Watertown Dam and Fishway--Charles River, Watertown
  • Jackson Square Dam and Fishway, Back River, Weymouth

The list above is from the state’s publication entitled “A Guide to Viewing River Herring in Massachusetts”. To report herring poaching (NOT in wine) call the Massachusetts Environmental Police at (800) 632-8075.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

If you fight for control of the remote control

Hi there Mystical Seekers. Here is a quasi-legal document that you may use when your spousal unit sulks and/or tries to take away the remote control when you are watching one of you favorite TV shows. Use of this document is at the user's discretion, and no warrantee is implied. All rights reserved. Copyright (c) 2006 Mystical Marjie, aka Chakra Cannes, Suburban Shaman.


Let it be known hereby that the party of the first party (the complainant) is using this document to convey emotion, logic, fact and humor:

Whereas: There are a limited number of TV entertainments that are of interest to the complainant, these being What Not to Wear, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, and House, with the complainant's interest in Desperate Housewives currently waning;

Whereas: None of these are available on daytime television, even if the complainant were to be in the domicile during the daytime and have a ready supply of bon-bons;

Whereas: The only time these entertainments are aired include and are limited to Fridays from 8 to 10 pm, Sunday at 7 pm, and Tuesday at 9 pm;

Whereas: The party of the second part (the "complainee") watches ESPN Sports Desk, and Comedy Central on a daily basis, and multiple sporting events all weekend and some weeknights, and the all-new 24! on Monday nights; and engages in random acts of "Idiot's Touring" up and down 300+ cable channels;

Whereas: The complainee somehow thinks this entitles him to either a) ridicule the taste of, and/or pre-empt the watching of favorite shows by the complanaint;

Whereas: The complainant has regularly sublimated her wishes and desires to the greater good of maintaining harmony in the family, but does not feel that this obligates her to do so in every instance;

Wheras: The entry into the viewing room and snatching of the TV remote (hereafter known as "the remote control device ") while someone is watching and/or about to begin one of their favorite shows could and will be construed as an act of aggression, callous disregard for, and/or lack of respect for the complainant;

Let it be RESOLVED that: Both complainant and complainee shall BOTH take care in nurturing each other's wishes and desires around, among other things, watching their favorite TV shows;

AND that: If one party wishes to gain control of the remote control they shall make a polite request to the other party, even if they have just regained consciousness after a nap;

AND that: The other party may consider the request for control of the remote control, but is under no obligation to relinquish control of said device if watching one of their favorite TV entertainments;

AND that: Just because the complainee is not in the domicile during daylight hours during weekdays this does not automatically confer preferential status in regard to watching the television.

Signed, the undersigned complainant.