I am delighted to welcome you to my website. Please feel free to ramble at your leisure—there’s my blog, an interview, research suggestions, reader’s sharing page, and lots of great links to other writers and artists with similar interests.
And don’t forget to let me know what you think! I’m always up for a juicy discussion.
Tamis Hoover Renteria
The book is now published!
Both these towns are in California, but their cultural differences are so vast that you could swear you were in two different states.
Hanford sits in the heart of the Central Valley surrounded by huge agribusiness farms and cattle ranches. The area is extremely hot in the summer, and has been cited by the American Lung Association as the smoggiest region in the country. Much of the year the air smells like cow manure or fertilizer. Even the water has a faintly rotten egg smell.
Hanford’s main tourist attraction is a 1950’s style ice cream parlor that not only could use a facelift and a good clean up, but apparently hasn’t heard of the heart disease and diabetes epidemics in our country——its single serving of extra rich homemade ice cream is enough for an entire football team. Okay, I’m exaggerating, but not by much. (See picture; that bowl is at least 6″ to 7″ across)
There are a lot of churches in Hanford, churches that people actually attend every Sunday. And at least a third of its citizens have posted signs in their front yards that say “In God We Trust.” The signs all look alike so I suspect they must be from a single source——maybe a church campaign of some sort.
There are definitely no synagogues, mosques, or visibly pagan gatherings in town.
By the way, 99% of Hanford front yards have large lawns and I have yet to spot a xeriscaped yard in any neighborhood. They must know about the drought, because many of them work in agriculture, and there are signs everywhere saying, “No Water means No Jobs” and “Save our Water.” But no citizen has yet been concerned enough about the water problem to exchange her water-guzzling lawn for Mediterranean drought-tolerant plants like lavender, salvia, and rosemary.
Santa Rosa is also an agricultural town, in a way. It is surrounded by grape fields and was once covered with walnut and fruit orchards. However, because of its scenic beauty and mild weather, it is rapidly becoming “Wine-countrified” like Napa Valley. This is good and bad. There are a lot more trendy shops and fabulous restaurants, but real estate prices are rising to ridiculous heights, and that local, hometown feeling is rapidly diminishing as tourists, vacationers, and strangers fill up the neighborhoods and streets. Continue reading
When I was a little girl, I had a big book of nursery rhymes with a front cover showing a funny old lady riding a giant flying goose. It was of course, Mother Goose. I bet a lot of us had similar books in our childhood bookshelves. But did you know what that that silly old lady and her winged pet are likely the last remnants of a goddess tradition that was common across northern Europe?
I didn’t either. But I just learned it in a class I’m taking from Max Dashu, a historian of esoteric goddess traditions. (suppressed histories.net)… Continue reading
But he did.
And for months after the day he joined, I cried every day. It felt like a death——the death of all my dreams for him, the death of my illusions as a mother that I could control my sons’ lives, the death of my belief that I could somehow always protect my children.
Along with the grief came serious moral wrestling. Part of me wanted to draw a line in the sand and say to him, “If you are going to do this thing which I believe is ethically and morally wrong, then I don’t want you in my life.”
One of my goddess mentors encouraged me to do this, saying that I had to take a stand and be firm about my anti-patriarchal beliefs. She, like me, saw the military as a tool of American imperialism with a tendency to support dictators and suppress liberation movements throughout the world, not to mention a tool to maintain the male values of dominance and violence.
But other friends counseled caution and open-mindedness. One said that it was possible that he was in the army for a good reason, that he might be an important influence on the military culture because of his good heart and his background in a left-wing family. Others reminded me that the U.S. military had done many good things in the past, as in WWII. Some Dutch friends, ashamed of their own military’s inability to protect civilians in the Srebrenika Massacre in 1995, cited the U.S.’s allegedly more successful intervention as an indication of the good that a military force could do.
All of these opinions helped to broaden my perspective on this moral dilemma, but eventually it was love that won me over rather than reason. I wanted to maintain a relationship with my son, no matter what. Continue reading
I’m hesitant to write about the recent death of my mother because some people might think that I’m sharing something too private and too new. But that’s what’s on my mind right now, and I want to share it.
My mother Doris Hoover had been suffering from Parkinson’s for the last eleven years. For the past six years she required full time help to keep her functioning. My father tried the role of caregiver for many months, but eventually he realized it was too much for him and we hired a Tongan woman who became a godsend addition to the… Continue reading
In my earlier blog about my life as a witch, I was dealing on a psychological level. I neglected to mention, however, that I’ve been dabbling in modern witchcraft, or Wicca, for several years. But because my religion of choice is Judaism, and because I don’t feel fully committed to paganism, I am not able to say wholeheartedly, “I am a witch.” However, I am pretty comfortable with the terms “Jewitch” and “Goddess Lover.”
Allow me to explain what I mean by witchcraft. First, modern Wicca is not devil worship and has nothing to do with Satan. It’s a contemporary spiritual movement that has many streams, all of which claim the source of their practices to be pre-Christian pagan traditions revolving around nature and the agricultural seasons.
I have primarily explored two different streams of Wicca. One is the west coast based Reclaiming movement, written about so eloquently by Starhawk, a self-identified witch, writer, novelist, creator of rituals, and political activist. Reclaiming rituals are open to the public——both men and women——and are playful, joyous, solemn, and drug free. They celebrate the Goddess, and sometimes the God, and are rooted in a reverence for the natural world. They primarily meet on the eight holidays of the sun cycle derived from Celtic and western European traditions, like Beltane in the spring and Samhain (Halloween) in the fall. Continue reading
My husband and I are real homebodies, but the past four months since our youngest son moved out, we’ve been living on the road like gypsies. We recently relocated from Tucson to California’s central valley for Beto’s work, but we refused to give up our dream of returning to the Bay Area. So we rented an apartment in the small farming town of Hanford, and started commuting north every weekend to stay with relatives and enjoy the weather and culture of our homeland.
I must say that this new peripatetic lifestyle has been a challenge to me as a woman who prefers to nestle down in my own home, surrounded by my garden while keeping carefully guarded rhythms of writing, housework, gardening and socializing. But that old life suddenly vanished last spring when Beto received the job offer. From then on it was all about preparing the house for selling and then moving.
And now this strange commuter life on the weekends.
Frankly, I am so disoriented that I’m even worse than usual about keeping up a calendar and am constantly missing appointments. I’m also frustrated by the constant packing and unpacking, and the difficulty of keeping track of my clothes and all the items for grooming and health——toothbrush, floss, razor, vitamins, medications, lotion, make-up etc——that I have convinced myself are necessities of living. Continue reading
Recently I was interviewed online by a woman who——like me——considers herself part of the goddess spirituality movement. Because of our shared background, the interview flowed smoothly from the beginning until the moment I unintentionally stumbled into talking about my son joining the military.
What I said was that I felt deep shame and heartbreaking conflict about being a goddess woman whose son was a Green Beret in the Army Special Forces. I expected her to be shocked or possibly sympathetic. But to my surprise, she launched into a vigorous defense of my son and all people who “served their country” in the military. She herself had been in the navy, had husbands who had been military men, and knew dozens of upstanding, wonderful people who had served.
I confess that in response, instead of defending my position, I backed off and conceded that she might have a point. I was not prepared to break the easy-going affability of our conversation and start a fight. I was bred as a nice southern girl, and I usually opt for sociability over truth-telling in public situations. I’m not proud of that, but that’s the way it was.
When I say I’m a goddess woman, I mean that I care deeply about affirming life, growth, and genuine communication between people. (It’s also my take on being a Jew). I’m rooted in a leftist, feminist, Jungian, California, post-sixties, anti-military, anti-violence, anti-nuclear, pro-love, pro-LGBT, question authority kind of spirituality, the kind that Starhawk and other like-minded pagans practice, and that many leftist leaning Jews and Christians also practice.
So when my son started talking about joining the military, he might as well have told me he was joining a perverted Satanic cult. Continue reading
Our ancestors long before the introduction of christianity were deeply aware of the turning of the seasons and the cycles of moon, sun, and earth. At least for those of us from the northern hemisphere, autumn is the time of year when the days become shorter and the nights longer, and the sun appears almost to have abandoned us. Summer’s radiant flowers fade to brown and tree leaves whither and fall to the ground, visual reminders of our own fragility and mortality on this earth.
Soon, winter with its snow, rain, and cold will arrive, seizing our lives with a dark and icy grip. Our agricultural ancestors had to pray that their stores of food would last through this difficult season, and that the sun and its warmth would return fully in time for them to sow crops again and be reassured that they would live another year.
In both ancient and modern pagan ritual, autumn is considered liminal, a transitional period between life and death, summer and winter. It is time to turn from summer’s abundance, fertility, and reveling to prepare for winter and a long period of rest, renewal, and waiting. Continue reading
My 91 year-old dad said a mouthful the other day as he was puttering around the house, trying to fix a few things: “Honey, I’ve just got one thing to say; when old folks start falling apart, their houses start falling apart right along with ‘em.”
I can’t argue with him. As I wander around what once was my childhood home—— a beautiful, light and art filled Eichler mid-century modern house in Palo Alto——I know exactly what he means. Not only is the house deteriorating, but much of it is filthy. That’s because there is no healthy, live-in housekeeper to keep up with all the cleaning——the smelly bathroom that won’t lose the strong scent of urine no matter how much I scrub it, the filthy kitchen drawers layered with old food and crumbs, the cobwebs in every corner, and the dust on all the odd and beautiful assortment of pottery and baskets that my mother has collected over fifty plus years.
There has been no loving, cleaning touch in this house for the past eleven years since my mother came down with Parkinsons disease——only a commercial housecleaner once every two weeks and the bits of cleaning that my father and my mother’s full-time caregiver can manage.
Maybe one of the blessings in this situation is that my parents are too old, ill, and self-absorbed to really see all the dirt. However, my dad does notice all the maintenance issues that he can no longer handle, like leaves in the gutters and peeling paint on the beams, and it bothers him. Continue reading