New and Old and New

Tonight we mark the passing of an “old year” and the beginning of a “new” one. I accept that this date is traditionally marked as the closing of the “old year” by western culture. And I am also aware that for many other cultures, it is not. Paganism has taught me that there are many days marked as the New Year, depending on tradition and place. It could really be any time of year, but the important thing is that we choose one – ONE – defining day to mark the end of something and the start of something else. That’s us human beings again: trying to quantify everything; trying to put lines and edges on that which is cyclical and eternal.

source: flickr
source: deviant art; labeled for reuse

And on one hand it makes perfect sense, and on the other hand it makes none. I take the concept of the Wheel of the Year very seriously; it is my favorite aspect of Paganism. The perfect ring, no discernable beginning nor end, flowing from life to death and back to life again. You could spin that Wheel, and put a pin on any place it chanced to stop, and say, “There. There it is: the point at which it all ends and then begins again,” but you’re fooling yourself. I see in my mind’s eye the Goddess and the God laughing at our silly attempts to create demarcation where there is none, never was, and never will be.

Still, we are human. And a calendar only has so many pages. There must come a point when the last page is ripped off, and we open a fresh, blank booklet of little squares. We mark off the birthdays and anniversaries that mean something to us, and fill in appointments and conferences and nights out. The Wheel may turn on, and the dates may be arbitrary, but to function as a society, we do need to agree on when things should occur.

Happy New Year to you all: tonight, tomorrow, every day. May each day find you making a resolution to be good to yourself, to give to others, to live your beliefs, to be kind, and to love with all your heart. Bless you all, and thank you for being my friend.

Merry Christmas from Buckle and Pat

Pat and Buckle wish you all the very best during this Holiday Season.


They have been overwhelmed by the flurry of activities. Buckle discovered he had a real talent for baking cookies.

Pat added the peppermint sprinkles.







Buckle made some new friends.


We hope your holidays are as happy as ours!

Best wishes from Buckle and Pat.

Buckle: The True Story (part four)

Buckle’s love for Pat was plain. He was determined to make her adjustment to life among the squishy people pleasant and trouble-free.

Pat has a very different temperament than Buckle, though. She is not one to throw herself into an activity. She has to ease into things slowly.

Buckle had her playing Rock Band right away. Pat has a soft, tremulous voice which … well, it’s hard to say it, but she really isn’t a very good singer at all. Buckle does not mind one bit. He smiles as she warbles along to his favorite David Bowie songs. When she sat down on the guitar, though – that’s when Pat shone. She has a natural sense of rhythm and tremendous enthusiasm. Together they are unbeatable.


Buckle taught Pat how to crochet. He loves making little hats for himself. Pat tried her best. She had a difficult time. I came home one day to find her wandering around inside a skein of yarn. She went in looking for the free end and couldn’t find her way out. She did get the hang of it eventually. She crocheted Buckle a gorgeous scarf in his favorite colors. Buckle made her a cute pair of pink slipper socks, with sequins for some razz-ma-tazz. She loves them, and looks at them every day, since she has no feet.

Buckle has been very patient. He spoke up and asked for a car seat for Pat so she could go travelling with us. He taught her how to do eyeball stands (so now I yell at both of them.) He got her hooked on watching “Barbie: Life in the Dream House.” Pat gives Buckle purpose, and Buckle gives Pat a sense of peace and belonging. They both give me something to think about, every day.


Up next: Will our happy couple find more interests and hobbies to share? Will Buckle’s increased confidence lead him to trouble? Will Pat ever find her way out of my yarn box? You know where to find the answers!

“Dying Doesn’t Mean You’re Dead”

This may be the oldest of my “Greatest Hits” I share with you; at least from the internet age. My first on-line family was a group dedicated to a soap opera. I’m no longer a fan, but coming across this old parody, I realize not much has changed as far as this particular plot device goes.

(to the tune of “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend”)
A push off a cliff may be quite detrimental,
but dying doesn’t mean you’re dead.
A campaign by fans who are so sentimental
can mean your return – and even free you from an urn!
You may drown and not be found
or an anvil may fall on your head;
If it’s storyline driven,
you’ll come back to the livin’!
Dying doesn’t mean you’re dead!

If you’re in the water, your jet ski could blow up,
but dying doesn’t mean you’re dead.
Your widower’s wedding’s the best time to show up
to reveal to him: The victim was your evil twin.
Writers know fans watch the show
no matter what drivel they’re fed.
Whether plagued by disaster
or buried in plaster;

Dying …  (Even Cremation)!

Dying …  Doesn’t mean you’re dead!

Buckle: The True Story (part three)

Part Three

Something was clearly missing from Buckle’s life.

He began to spend long hours staring out the window, sighing occasionally. He added old Air Supply songs to his iPod. He nicked all my Jane Austen books.

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We brought home other rocks from the lake, some painted, some plain. Buckle always enjoyed socializing with them, reminiscing about their days on the shore. Soon it became obvious that one of these rocks stood apart from the rest. One rainy afternoon, Buckle rummaged through my craft supplies, and brought me a set of google eyes and some glue. I set to work, while Buckle paced nervously back and forth on the table. The minute they were secure, Buckle gazed anxiously into her eyes. Was this the wee nugget of his dreams?

Pat looked all around in amazement. She glanced down at the craft supplies scattered across the table, and her gaze fixed upon a spool of pink ribbon. In short order, she was gussied up and ready to meet her new friend.

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It was a magic moment. They were made for each other.

Buckle was enchanted with Pat. His eyes glowed whenever he looked at her. Pat was quite overwhelmed by her new surroundings, and relied on Buckle’s comfort and reassurance. There was so much to learn, and she was lucky to have such a devoted companion. Neither would ever be lonely again.

Will the course of true love run smooth, or are they in for a rocky road? Will Pat share Buckle’s interests in baking, music, and ancient Mesopotamian texts and architecture? Find out soon, in “Buckle: the True Story (part four)”!

Buckle: The True Story (part two)

Part Two

Buckle settled easily into his new home, chattering with the family all day long. He speaks no English, yet has little difficulty making his needs clear. He wrote letters back to his friends at the lake, letting them know that he was happy, and inquiring after their health. (Other then some algae issues, they were well.)

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Buckle can be a bit of a daredevil; I often find him attempting eyeball stands. I warn him and warn him, but he thinks it’s fun. He is also very interested in cooking, and likes to sit right on the handle of a pot to see what’s going on. I worry about his feathers.

Buckle loves music, and is always ready to play Rock Band with the kids. His favorite song is “Rock Lobster.” He is a huge fan of The Rolling Stones and Rush (it isn’t always about puns.) I often hear him chirruping away to himself.

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Buckle camped with us at several more state parks, always behaving himself beautifully. He hiked in Genesee County, and traversed the Allegheny foothills. His knowledge of geology impressed us. He saw an old friend at Sonnenberg mansion, and made new friends wherever he went. He is so genial and charming, everyone loves him at once.

Yes, Buckle felt he was where he was always meant to be: with a family who loved him. Yet, something seemed to be missing from his life …

Is it his inability to play the violin? His sense of emptiness after he finished “Firefly” on Netflix? What troubles our hero? Find out next time, in “Buckle: The True Story (part three)”!

Positive People Problems

A friend of mine is facing a challenge this holiday season: a sick family member. On his Facebook page, he apologized in advance for not being himself during the time of year he usually loves so much. Of course those who know him and love him understand; it’s hard to be holly-jolly when your heart is full of fear. I’m sure many of you have experienced a similar feeling of apprehension, realizing you are expected to act a certain way and feel certain emotions – and knowing you simply can not do it.

I have maintained a reputation throughout most of my life of being a rather positive person. While on my own I often drift into self-recrimination and broodiness, I place a great value on remaining cheerful for family, bosses, coworkers, employees, clients … well, everyone. We all have a role to play, and mine is generally that of comic relief, always seeing something amusing or whimsical or absurd in any situation. It helps me cope, and it buoys up those around me.

But a problem arises when those around me come to expect it; come quite near demanding it. Associates frequently complimented me on my near-constant smile. The same people were puzzled and alarmed when they did not see that smile. Some would inquire as to the reason, and I might confide – or not – depending on the person and the circumstance. But what surprised and appalled me were those who actually got angry at me. They required me to act happy, or else they could not.

We are a reactionary species. I understand that people accustomed to my cheerfulness felt let down because their answering smile depended upon mine.

But it’s a little disconcerting to feel that pressure.

We are all affected by the moods of those around us. This morning I went from cheery to irritated when my youngest gave me a hassle about what she wished to wear. I went back into my bedroom, kissed my husband, and murmured to him, “Well, I was in a good mood when I woke up.” But really, no sooner had I spoken than I realized how foolish that was. I’m a product of the internet, and when I say things like that, a thousand memes float into my brain: “I can’t change my circumstances but I can change my reaction” … “I am the deciding factor” … “I will not allow negative people to ruin my day” … All of them with a beach scene in the background. And so I headed back out with a smile on my face to deal with the great “Pink Dress or Pink Corduroys Controversy” of 2015 December this week.

If I don’t wish to be held accountable for other people’s happiness, then in turn, I must be accountable for my own. And it follows in a perfect circle that if I take responsibility for my own feelings, so must you.

Positive people, you do not always need to be a beacon of light for everyone else. You have permission to be negative. You have permission to cry, and rage, and mope, and panic, and frown.

You have permission to be human.

photo: wiki commons; public usage

Greatest Hits – “The Saga of Sahm: An Epic of Ennui”

Hark to my words, those who would hear tales of perseverance!

Set down thy tablets, and refresh thy coffee,

For the sweeping saga of the wise and exhausted mother!

Long days she has endured, yes, and sleepless nights.

Each morn while the sun yet slumbers she arises;

Each animal she tendeth with care: alike the dog and cat and lowly guinea pig.

She girds her children in the armor of their kind:

Shirts emblazoned with warriors bold; spinners of webs and giant green men.

So likewise skirts of pink, with embellishments of sequins bright,

Shall be the vestments of the youngest.

Onto the groaning board she places circles of oats, slices of risen grains;

The generous juices of fruits from distant lands.

And a cry of distress rises in the household,

For the younglings do protest that they will eat none of it.

A chariot of golden orange, bright and welcome as the sun in its height,

Appeareth on the horizon!

Patiently she awaits its approach,

Admonishing each child in turn that they standeth still.

And she repeats the words they will not unstop their ears to hear:

Recounting again that yes, they must indeed each wear their outer tunic,

For it yet remains too cold to do without.

How endless are her tasks, and how dauntless her efforts!

She labors long in scullery and privy.

She removeth dirt from the floor.

Clean linens doth she bring to each chamber.

At length the chariot returneth, and the younglings once again milleth underfoot.

Thence a maelstrom of mayhem commenceth within her walls,

Until at last she crieth in anguish:

“Out! Out! To the gardens fly, I beseech thee —

For though thou hast been once again within my presence but minutes,

Already my crown throbbeth, and the pressure of my humors doth rise!”

She baketh cakes upon the stove — wondrous, flat cakes,

To be drenched in the sweet sap of a stout softwood.

Her brood, thus fortified, take up their quills to tally numbers,

Learn letters by rote, and read such tomes as they will:

Fanciful folios concerned with mounts of rainbow colors,

Hounds that speaketh in the tongue of man,

And a heroic knight who wears naught but underbreeches.

At length the night draws upon her, and lays she down each beloved bairn

Upon fleeces soft, and whispers to each a lullaby.

With weariness besetting, she dresses in her nightclothes,

And takes up her own quill and scroll:

Determined she should tell her tales, that she might share them with the masses,

And thereby amuse and enlighten.

Alas for her, and woe: she writeth naught!

For Morpheus eagerly claims her his own,

Ere she hath penned a dozen words.

May her sleep bring dreams of quiet days: no one clutcheth at her skirt, no one spilleth out his cup, no one practice violence upon his sister, no one sitteth on the cat.

For all too soon, she riseth once again;

To tame all wandering dragons, to fix all manner of wrongs, and to maintain peace within her happy realm.


— Melissa Cassick 2014


Buckle: The True Story (part one)

I have pet rocks. Started off with one, and then … you know how it is. They’re so cute you need another, and then one comes along that really needs a home, and then you think, well, what’s one more? And before you know it – you have a house full of rocks.

It all started with Buckle.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

My family and I camp near Lake Ontario, and the park guides often conduct lectures and activities. One fine Sunday morning, bright eyed and eager to learn, we trotted over to the main pavilion. The presentation focused on the geology of the area surrounding the lake, and our helpful instructor passed around samples of sandstone, shale, and limestone for us to see close up, and feel. After the lecture, our hosts brought out the fun stuff: plastic containers filled with rocks, paint, stickers, google eyes, glitter, and feathers.

What guided my hand as I reached in and pulled out the rock who would be a member of the family by the afternoon? I attached his eyeballs, and he looked up at me with a hopeful expression. Sensing his need for uniqueness and color, I rummaged through the craft supplies until my fingers closed upon exactly what I knew he wanted: three perfect purple feathers. Before the glue even dried I could sense his delight.

His name was Buckle. And he was ready to come home.

Will Buckle adjust to life away from the lake? How will the other pets greet him? Is he even house-broken? We answer these questions and more in “Buckle: The True Story (part two)“!