Archive for the ‘Altars’ Category

Happy Bayard Rustin Day!

erbette chard

Delicious erbette chard needs no assistance from fancy spices.

Yesterday was Bayard Rustin Day at our house.

When you’re trying to invent a holiday that you hope to see people actually celebrate, well, it’s not something that’s going to spring full-blown from the mind of its creator. That’s a work in progress, and will be for years to come. Enjoy the journey, children.

Previous observances have been rather slapdash; I keep meaning to spend days or weeks steeping myself in the writings of Bayard Rustin, and so far I haven’t accomplished that. But the food — well, the food is coming along nicely.

Mr. Rustin was a vegetarian — but only after going to India to meet and work with Mahatma Gandhi and his followers, round about 1935. (He was born in 1912, so that would’ve made him about 23 — plenty old enough to go off to India and have Important Adventures.) So anyway, my Rustin Day menus tend to be Indian-flavored.

So when I began cooking after the radio show yesterday afternoon, all I knew for sure was that I had a beautiful cauliflower, an even more beautiful armful of erbette chard, and a sack of potatoes. Also a bowl of frothy idli batter.

Well, after a little Google-fu, I came up with this menu:

Gobi Aloo (Indian Style Cauliflower with Potatoes)
That gorgeous erbette chard, simply wilted and buttered (because you do not upstage the chard!)
And my first attempt at idli, with a nice tomato sauce flavored with sambar powder and garam masala

Pristine idli with what might be a mint chutney

The idli was (were? — it’s one of those nouns that may or may not be plural) a saga in itself, stretching over a week or more. I wasn’t actually thinking of Bayard Rustin Day when I first started experimenting with them; I was only trying to lower my blood sugar in the evenings. Anyhow, between the fact that I can’t get urad dal in this town and don’t have an idli steamer, mine are kind of reddish gray and cupcake-shaped, not the pristine white lenticular shapes you see in pictures like this one. They are, however, tender and filling, and go beautifully with almost any rich, spicy dish.

Well, I put some in the solar oven — it worked pretty well, too — and happened to mention this in the chat room at the radio show. Miss Cat, of course, had to know all about them two minutes ago 🙂 We were typing at each other as fast as we could. I wonder if she will ever seek some out to try them.

Next year, we will pay equal attention to the intellectual feasting, I am sure.

(I bought my erbette chard seed at Bountiful Gardens. Now you can too.)

An activist, poet, and chapel visitor



You can’t see it clearly in this picture, but the pretty It Gets Better lamp was still burning 12 hours after I lit it at evening candle service.

William Brandon Lacy Campos died last week.  He was someone I met when he was a college student grieving over the traumatic death of a friend. He was sharp, compassionate, quick to defend those in pain and call out their oppressors.

It was only later, on Facebook — within the past year or so! — that I heard about his work with Queers for Economic Justice, his poetry book and readings, and his marriage.

I also found out he was funny, anxious, and up to the elbows in life’s toybox.

With all that, I barely knew him to speak to.  My very last exchange with him was about three weeks ago, and it was food talk.  He had posted some photos of a dish that turned out particularly well, and I mentioned the parsnip curry I was making. “That sounds fierce!” he said.

When he died, his friends were tagging him in photographs all over the place, and they were showing up in my news feed, tearing at my heart.

So I dedicated one night of my It Gets Better lamp to him.

That helped, but not enough, so I lit him a candle of his own.

Last night, my daughter — who can see spirits come and go — heard “someone” walking around in the chapel; a few days ago, she saw “someone with glasses” in the kitchen out of the corner of her eye.  On both occasions, there were no living humans present; she checked.

So, is it the shiny activism, the chance to meet Bayard Rustin, or my cooking? Probably all of it.

Welcome, Brandon, a thousand times welcome.

His Facebook page is still up.


“Pie! Now!”


Santisima Muerte has a small altar at our Chapel. She works hard to protect those in danger and to guard and comfort those facing death, so she requests frequent food offerings.

When I began working with Santísima Muerte, I hit the ground running: I had a client who had been seriously jinxed and needed to be uncrossed and protected in a flaming hurry.

Well, they say Most Holy Death is kind and merciful when she isn’t grimly just, and so she stepped up and helped my client.

And then the orders began coming in — from her.  I’d see them in my mind’s eye — single words in block type: GINGER or FRUIT, mostly.  (She decided to move in after the first offering of crystallized ginger scones.)

Lately, when praying along with the Crystal Silence League, I’ve been offering her the miseries and pain of those who post prayer requests — inviting her to uproot those miseries and consume them to sustain Herself.  That seems to content her — there have been fewer demands for the material sweets of earthly life.

But tonight I made a Shaker-style Meyer lemon pie (a variation on this recipe), and She wasn’t going to miss that!


If you make this pie, by the way, be sure to let those thinly sliced lemons sit in sugar at room temperature as the recipe directs — but for more than the 6 hours specified. If you use them at once, it’s like a mouthful of perfume: not nice at all. Eighteen hours is about right. I also used a standard flaky pie crust recipe, and added an extra egg and some flour to the filling.  It’s rich and smooth, but too sweet.  Maybe one more lemon…?


“Console and strengthen the living; avenge the dead”


I’ve gone back to lighting good solidly built pull-out candles for GLBT folks who are still worn down and heavy laden by needless shame, bad preaching and teaching, bad laws and bigotry.  This one is tender pink, dressed with with all sorts of balmy blessing herbs — and then rolled in Fiery Wall of Protection and black wax. So, yes, a reversing candle.

The great civil rights activist, Bayard Rustin  — who was also a gay man — watches over the work.

Behind the flame is Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; off screen is Frederick Douglass.

You will also note that there are two little pictures of Jesus nearby; and he had precisely bupkes to say about homosexuality.

I’ll be burning this for an hour or so each night — that way it will last for at least two weeks, maybe longer.  My nightly prayer is: Console and guard the living, and avenge the dead.  And it would be wonderful if I had some names, the names of real people, to put under this candle.

And it’s not just the civil rights movement that owes a huge debt of gratitude to LGBT people:

“It’s hard to have any conversation about this brilliant cultural production — gospel music — without affirming the prominent role that same-gender-loving people have played and continue to play.”

via Gospel Music Book Challenges Black Homophobia –

Halloween and/or Christmas!


Folks, I can’t decide whether it’s Halloween or Christmas here today! Two different conjure friends of mine sent me grave dirt from:

Caroline Dye … and Frederick Douglass!

Adam Smith and Butch Comer, thank you about a million times!

A feast day for angelic troublemakers


St. Patrick’s Day doesn’t get much play in the chapel. We celebrate Bayard Rustin Day instead —

Brother Outsider — ResourcesNow available on DVD for home viewing from our online store.Click here to buy the DVD Educators and educational institutions can order Brother Outsider through our educational distributor, California Newsreel. Click here for the Brother Outsider Discussion Guide:guide.pdf Download the discussion/curriculum guide produced in partnership with Frameline’s Youth In Motion program.

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via Rustin

How we celebrate Bayard Rustin Day

  • By all means get the DVD if you can — it’s wonderful.
  • Print and frame a picture of Brother Bayard and welcome him to your table with a vegetarian feast. I think we’re going with red curry noodles (no fish sauce, please) and Thai Corn Pancakes.
  • Then place him on your angelic troublemaker ancestor angelic troublemaker altar — if you don’t have one, you’ll start one tonight, I bet.

I also like to give him a vegetarian treat every Saturday, and listen for any directions he might have for me.

So Happy Bayard Rustin Day, everybody — and do feel free to post any good links you find!



And the Spirit said, “I want to play”


Spiritual guides eager to take part in the work of the Crystal Silence League: From right to left, Rev. Howard Thurman, Aunt Caroline Dye, Dr. Jose Gregorio Hernandez, Jesus of the People

I’ve been keeping my crystal set on my justice altar by the window, where the sunlight can beam in and touch it.  These foggy winter mornings, though, call for extra light during my Crystal Silence prayers.

Well, Aunt Caroline was cajoling me to take it over to the healing altar, where there’s a nice bright oil lamp and that nice Dr. Hernandez.

This morning, we tried it.


And I gotta tell you, Don Jose Gregorio looks much milder now than he did when the power was moving.  He had that whole laser vision thing going on.

Further progress in the chapel


Well, you know the simple wooden table I was using for my workbench? My darling husband/IT Master/Art Department/Sexton switched it with my justice altar (the one where Aunt Caroline Dye and Dr. Hernandez presided). So the justice altar now sits by the window, and the old workbench is now a new love altar.
The “old” love altar — about a week old, it was! — is now Dr. Hernandez’s new, private altar, where Jesus and St. Jude stand by him.

In the shot of the Justice Altar you can see a corner of my new workbench.  More you won’t get … until I clean it.  Again.