Dealing with Crisis in Community

I’m going to be taking a break today, from talking about fun things like crafting and my home, because there’s a much more serious topic that I feel the need to weigh in on.

I saw news this week that pagan author Kenny Klein has been arrested on charges of possessing child pornography. I also noticed, upon seeing this story, that very few in the pagan community have said anything. Which may simply be a function of time, and people choosing to measure their responses carefully.

First of all, let me begin by saying that I don’t know Kenny Klein. I attended one of his workshops once, at PantheaCon, and I wasn’t terribly impressed. But I can’t say that I immediately found him setting of warning bells, nor can I say that I am totally shocked by this news. He was simply a person, not standing out in either direction.

What I have noticed, in the few responses I’ve seen, is this immediate sense of anger, of people who almost appear to want to push back and distance the community from him. But we can’t do that. The pagan community is not the first religious community to deal with these types of allegations, and we most certainly won’t be the last. Like it or not, shared faith does not ensure the virtue of all members and there will always be people who take advantage of the trust given in community.

The question, then, is how we deal with it. My hope is this: that we resist the urge to shove this under the rug and distance ourselves. To cry that Klein was not a “real” pagan or that he was never a major part of communities. I am not foolish enough to believe that Klein won’t have defenders — there will always be people who do not want to acknowledge painful incidents and breaches of trust.

Instead, I hope that as a community, we are able to find the grace to recognize what has happened. That these charges exist and, if proven,* that we deal with the aftermath in a responsible way that protects our community and gives justice to any who were harmed. That we do not castigate ourselves over what might have been missed, but that we take note of red flags and warning signs, to serve us in the future.

Most of all, I hope that we begin to see that a growing community can be based on love and trust while still allowing room for clear boundaries and the protection of all members.

*I am not saying this to dispute the charges or offer a defense of Klein, merely to recognize that our justice system recognizes that defendants are innocent until proven guilty. At the point of this writing, Klein has been arrested on 25 charges of child pornography, but has not been tried and found guilty.


On Reading

Sometimes I feel like I don’t read anymore.

That is, of course, ridiculous. Since my job involves keeping up with the news and researching things, I read all the time. It just mainly comes in the form of articles. I also read blogs, for inspiration around my hobbies.

I read books, too, though they tend towards non-fiction mainly. The topics vary, but I’d say around 2/3 of my personal library is non-fiction reading material.

But I miss fiction.

The hardest part for me is that I get attached. I don’t want to let the characters go at the end of a book or series. I get sad and lonely and feel lost without these fictional people to whom I’ve given space in my head and my heart.

At any rate, last week I read the Hunger Games trilogy. It’s been on my list for a while, but I took the plunge and wound up reading all three books in about four days. Needless to say, I loved them. (And I’m once again reminded that things like survival skills and archery are on my to-learn list.)

But now they are gone and I miss them. I miss Katniss and Peeta and Gale and fandom is not doing a whole lot to fill the gap. I suppose I should try to figure out something to read next, though I’m not sure what else is in that vein, and I’m very picky about what books I consider similar.

I just wish we had a word for it, that sadness you feel when you finish a series and find yourself missing the characters you came to love. Maybe something German, they like compound words …

Unexpected Near Disasaters

I had plans for my Sunday. They were good plans. I had to mop the kitchen floor and do some laundry, but otherwise there was going to be relaxing and knitting and re-watching the first Hunger Games movie because I’ve read the books now.

It started out fine, until I went to put the second load of laundry in the dryer. I started it up, was about to walk out of the laundry closet and then stopped.

Because it smelled like smoke.

Now, I don’t know if I’ve shared this here, but one of my biggest fears is a house fire. I don’t know why, there’s no tragic story in my past to explain it, but I’m absolutely terrified. Maybe it’s the way fire destroys so much, so quickly. But I fear it, fear my home gone, my things reduced to ash, my cats harmed or lost.

So when I smelled smoke, I panicked. I could feel the panic rising in the back of my throat, the fear gripping my mind. I immediately shut off the dryer, waited a few minutes, pacing my kitchen and trying to sort out. Was I overreacting? Was I underreacting? Should I go buy a fire extinguisher and try again? But what if it had already sparked? Should I put the cats in a crate and take them with me just in case?

My landlord was upstairs but not answering knocks, so after one more try of starting the dryer — still smelled like burning — I called his wife, who told me to just walk in, he probably was watching TV and not hearing me. So I went up and apologized profusely for interrupting and explained. Luckily, unlike my last landlord, he’s a reasonable guy and was happy to take a quick look for emergency hazards. (Since the dryer is mine, not provided with the unit it is technically my responsibility to fix but I figured the first priority was not setting the building alight.)

Turns out that the ventilation pipe wasn’t connected. I’d emptied the lint trap every time I did laundry, but the rest of it had been spewing out the back and building up in the space between the dryer and the wall, creating a fire hazard. When we pulled the dryer out, it looked like this:

Dryer Hazard

Luckily, that’s not fire damage. It’s lint. A lot of lint.

That is not what it should look like, in case you were wondering. I had only seen a bit of lint on the wall above the dryer, which I didn’t register as especially wrong. It wasn’t a lot, and I’ve never had my own washer and dryer before so I didn’t know it wasn’t normal. But most of the stuff was on the floor and lower wall, building up.

So Thom reattached the vent and I cleaned. It filled my entire vacuum canister and, when the vacuum was no longer working and I attacked the walls with a sponge, turned a bucket of mopwater black.

Cleaned Up

That’s back to what it ought to look like! It’s back in place now, and more laundry was done without incident. I’m glad I listened to my mother’s advice to never run a dryer when I’m not home, because this really could have been a big disaster. I’m also glad I listened to my instincts when I smelled smoke, instead of convincing myself it was in my head and would be fine to keep going.

On the flipside, I’m very displeased with the installers from Home Depot. Thom (my landlord) said that he’d guess the vent was never connected properly and that the dryer has been venting indoors since it was installed about a year ago. I’d had it installed by Home Depot specifically because I don’t know a ton about appliances and didn’t want to risk a fire hazard doing it myself, so I am very unhappy to have paid for something that was done in a dangerously poor manner.

But at least it’s working now!

FO Friday: Aggressively Queer Bi Pride Socks

Something is finished! It’s a miracle! I started the socks during the Olympics, but didn’t push myself too hard to finish them then. Because my main knitting goal this year is to make major progress on the CAYA Socks, these were strictly a commuter project.

The one exception to that was taking them to PantheaCon to knit during panels, because unlike my other projects, they don’t require me to look at a pattern.

Agressively Queer Bi Pride Socks

Because the colors match the bisexual pride flag, and because I was feeling exceptionally angry about the state of LGBTQA rights in the world, I named these the Aggressively Queer Bi Pride Socks.

The yarn is Socks That Rock Lightweight in Knot in Vain, and the pattern is just a basic sock formula. I can’t wait to wear them.

Catching Up

I finished the first sock in the pair I’m currently knitting, and cast on for the second but I’m not making a lot of progress. The second sock should be going quickly, since I figured out all the size adjustments on the first but it isn’t. I’m so stressed and out of sorts when I get home that I can’t even pick up my knitting.

The commuter socks are near to being done, which is excellent. Unlike the others, these are for me and I’m delighted by them. After the mothpocalypse a few years back, I’m down to only three pairs of knit socks (and one of those is in need of repair) so I’m glad to add another pair to my drawer.

Since crafting is apparently beyond me these days, I’ve started trying to read more. I feel like I don’t read anymore, which isn’t true. I read news and articles and do research all day, but I don’t really read books. I’m finally getting around to the Hunger Games. They were always checked out of my library and I didn’t want to spend money on something I’d get through so fast, but I discovered that Amazon Prime gets me access to the Kindle Owners Lending Library, so now I’m finally reading them.

I started last night and stayed up too late and now I’m halfway through the first one and really enjoying it. Hooray, books!9

Seed Moon Candles

Another full moon means another batch of candles. I had hoped to start pillar candles this month, but ran out of time to order the molds so I’ve done jar candles again. I’m also not wild about the shade of yellow I got, but it will do.

First Pour, Seed Moon Candles

These are set with the intention of planting seeds for growth, the initial steps and ideas that will pay off in the end. They are lightly scented with the smells of spring — earth, honey, almond, and lilac.

They have been charging outside, but I think I may need to do a third pour. Since the full moon was on a weekend, I was able to do the first and second pours closer together than I usually do, I think they might not have cooled enough in between. Luckily I have wax left over to do a third pour, and it shouldn’t take long.

Spring Cleaning and Curb Appeal

Last year I planted some cheery marigolds in tiny pots on my front steps. They were very cute, but the pots were too small and lacked drainage and eventually the marigolds withered and died. (Okay, I also forgot to water them at some point.)

I ignored it, but then my new neighbors moved in. They have several planters of very lovely flowers out front, and it made my withered, tiny pots look quite sad in comparison.

So off I went to Encinal Nursery top pick up some more flowers — I tend towards herbs and vegetables in the back, but I wanted something nice and pretty out front.

Front Steps

On the inside row, I have a marigold, some lavender, and some pretty tiny white flowers that I’ve already forgotten the name of. I tried to save the markers that told m what they were but apparently I missed that one.

Front Steps, Outside

The outside row has some more marigolds, snapdragons, and some violas in purple and yellow. They remind me of some overalls I had in the 1990s, from Limited Too, did anyone else have those? They were right next to the sunflower print babydoll dress in my closet ….


Red Geranium

Finally, I put a red geranium right next to my front door. I read somewhere, once, that a red geranium by the door was a sign of a witch’s house. I don’t know how widely spread that is, but I liked the idea (and red geraniums) so why not?

Now as long as I remember to water them regularly, these plants should keep my front door looking quite nice.