Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A Paper

From an assignment of one of my classes at The Magical Circle School:

My Research Paper

(An Irreverent Look at Research Papers)

Wow.  Any topic.  But one of the resources has to be an actual, physical, book.  I decided that would be the limiting parameter.  After all, the web is wide open.  You can find at least a little information on almost anything on it. (For example, look up mule roping sometime.[1])  But I do not own an infinite supply of books.  (Nor would I want one, truth be told.  The ones I do have cost enough to move, thank you very much.  :)  )

I also thought I should brush up on what a research paper actually is.  I’d written countless numbers of them at university, but that was more than twenty years ago.  What if they’d changed?  What if I didn’t remember!  What if I’d gotten them wrong all along?!  My first stop was a Rice University page titled “How to Write a Research Paper.[2]”  It talked about general forms and styles, mistakes to avoid, descriptions of all the different sections, and so on.  After that, I found “A Research Guide for Students,” which explained “How to Write an A+ Research Paper.” [3]   Wow, I thought, I really need that!  It turned out to be a much more basic source, with a step-by-step guide.  Then, just to be thorough, I took a look at “Writing a Research Paper” from the University of Alberta Libraries.[4]  No surprises there—kind of a middle road between my first and second sources.

Alright.  I had now re-familiarized myself with research papers.  Now I needed to find a book, preferably without visiting the closest library.  I looked at my twenty or so linear feet of cookbooks, and decided that would be too easy.  The art books, computer books, and research books in the study sounded too boring. (Although I did find a book to use for my footnotes.[5]  Once upon a time I had those rules memorized, but alas, no longer.)   I then journeyed downstairs to our actual library.  I found books on dogs, on camping, on birding.  I found biographies and photography books and books on Wicca.  I found books I hadn’t looked at in years, books which I’d all but forgotten I owned.  And, of course, lots and lots of fiction and literature.  None of the non-fiction really caught my fancy, and the fiction certainly wouldn’t do!  But my eye fell on a narrative that is the basis for my favorite, favorite, favorite stage play, Wicked.[6]  I picked it up on a whim, more to glance through it than to actually consider it.  And there, though I hadn’t planned to write a paper on Wicca, was the most appropriate line, coming from this fictional witch:

“I can make no comment on the souls of others," said the Witch.[7]

[5] Kate L. Turabian, A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations, 6th ed., rev. John Grossman and Alice Bennet (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1996).
[6] Gregory Maguire, Wicked:  The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, A Novel.  Illus. Douglas Smith (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, ReganBooks, 2004).
[7] Ibid., 344.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Happy New Year

I'd long since given up new year's resolutions.  I never kept them for long, and all they seemed to do was make me feel guilty, inadequate, and miserable.  I do still kiss DH at midnight and make sure to have a bite of black-eyed peas on January 1st.  I also try to do things on that day that I want to continue to do all year long.

But while the kissing is fun (and it obviously works--we're affectionate all year, lol!), the other beliefs have never worked any better than the resolutions did.  And for the last year or two I've been playing with the idea of dropping them, also.  Until now.

DH and I celebrated our third Samhain this past weekend, and we had a long talk about when it makes sense, to us, to celebrate the new year.  We decided that November 1st suits us much better than January 1st.  It didn't quite sink in this year, so we didn't kiss at midnight or have black-eyed peas the next day, but we did spend yesterday doing things we wanted to keep doing all year long.

It's much too soon to tell whether this will work, of course.  But it feels better.  It feels right.  If I can keep these things up for a month or longer, which is about how long I ever kept those resolutions, I'll know that I'm on the right path.

And, either way, next October 31 I do plan to add that kiss at midnight!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Who Knew?

I have a confession to make--I am one of the world's absolutely worst housekeepers.  Combine this with my seeming inability to get ANYTHING done unless it's under pressure, and it spells disaster!  Really.  (And now throw in two long-haired, 100+ pound, "puppies"!)

So, imagine my horror when I found out we were out of temporary housing time and had to move back into our house before it has sold (or even gotten an offer!).  I didn't really enjoy the two mini-moves (to temp housing and back) in one summer.  I didn't enjoy fighting with the Residence Inn about their inhospitable pet policies.  And I REALLY didn't enjoy Kai getting so stressed he started to get aggressive.  But all of that, all of it, paled in comparison to. . .HAVING TO KEEP THE HOUSE CLEAN, really clean, LONG TERM.

As anybody who's ever had a house up for sale knows, you have to keep it spotless--make it look as if it is no effort to clean, or to keep clean.  Eeeeeek! 

You'd think the necessary pressure was there.  And it is.  But, unless you have a showing booked, it's in the background--laying there, stressing you out, yet never becoming acute enough to actually move you.  My worst nightmare. 

While we were not living here, we had a cleaning service come in once a week to keep things under control.  Easy, if expensive.  But actually being here, I feel much too guilty to allow that to go on.  Still, it has to be done, and I know myself well enough to know I'm not very likely to keep up with it.  What to do?  What to do?

We decided to try a Roomba.  I'd wanted one for the longest time (see the above paragraph about my housekeeping skills), and now I had an excuse!  And.  We.  Love.  It!!!!!!!  It works!  It really works!  People complain that it's noisy, or that it leaves tracks on the floor, or whatever.  But who cares?  It actually does KEEP THE FLOORS CLEAN!  Without any effort on your part.  And with absolutely no stress!

And guess what?  If you keep the floors clean, the rest of it follows--there is less dust generated for flat surfaces and there is less dog fur on furniture.  And, because you have to keep the floor clear for the Roomba to clean it, things get put up!   Did I mention that I LOVE IT!!!

I was completely astounded by this simple floor cleaning trick.  How could I not know this?  Why was I not told?  Why isn't it written down somewhere?   I asked my mother why she never told me, and her answer was, "I guess I just thought everybody knew."  

MOM!!!!  Where would I have learned it?!

Sigh.  Who knew?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Happy July

I hope everyone had a good weekend, whether you celebrated Canada Day or the 4th of July or neither.  Or both, I suppose!

We spent the weekend doing some last minute camping (!).  It turns out our temporary living arrangements are too stress-inducing for Lil' Kai, so he's spending some time with our wonderful, wonderful trainers over at Dogs in the Park.  A month of time, actually.  And Lance is spending a couple of weeks there himself.  We think of it as our puppies going to summer camp!

What does this have to do with camping?  Well, while they spend so much time away from us, we need to see them and spend time with them in order to not destroy the bonds we've formed with them in the past year or two.  So we get to spend weekends with them.  But we can't bring them back to Markham (because of the stress), we can't take them to Ancaster (because the house is now on the market), and we can't take them to a hotel (because it would be as stressful as the place in Markham).  That leaves us with camping.  Luckily, we really like camping, so it's not a problem.  Well, most of the time it's not a problem.  Last minute camping reservations for Canada Day weekend left us with a spot SEVEN HOURS away.  We've traveled longer distances for camping, but not for just three days! 

The really bad part?  Kai seriously injured his dew claw just before the trip, so he was on crate rest over the weekend and could not go.  Sheesh! Still, we and Lance had a great time.  And it was really nice to reconnect with him on a two-humans-to-one-dog level.  Not to mention it was a really laid-back trip, lol!

This weekend (and the next) means more camping, but luckily much closer to home.  (Thanks, Sue!)  We plan to have a ball (sometimes literally) with two dogs this time!

And maybe we'll even throw in some sleep!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Life Update, Part 2

As promised, the updating continues with a report on Kai's 1st Birthday festivities.  Things started out a little rocky, what with the pano and all, but they ended on an excellent note as the Boys' first camping trip was a resounding success!

We spent three days at Bruce Peninsula National Park, and with it being early in the season, there was almost no one else there.  That was great, especially for their first camping experience. 

They spent time hiking in the woods, swimming in the lake, learning new skills (like sleeping in a tent, and not trying to crawl under the dining fly's walls to get out), and generally having a great time.  They barked at geese flying across the lake, at squirrels running up trees, and at the Dreaded Nothing.  (Did I mention we were really GLAD we were the only ones there?)

Kai really enjoyed himself, but I think it was even more fun for Lance.  We had a hard time keeping him out of the water--swimming a mere four times a day just wasn't enough, it seems!  And, eventually, thrown sticks weren't good enough either.  He started dragging 3-5 foot logs in to shore!

They, and we, can't wait to do it again!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Life Update, Part 1

A LOT has happened since my last post (which is why this is the first post in almost a month, lol!)  Last time I was talking about "Little" Kai's 1st birthday.  (There'll be more on that next time.)  Since then, my fabulous, wonderful, astounding DH has accepted a job.  As I write this, I'm sitting in the tiny little studio apartment which is our temporary housing until the house sells and we buy a new one, hopefully sometime within the next 90 days.

It's a bit crowded here, what with 200+ lbs of dog and their accompanying enormous crates, but the good news is the place is about a five minute walk from DH's new place of employment.  Also good news--we just moved yesterday, but already the boys are greatly improving their loose-leash-while-together skills.  And they're starting to become accustomed to living in a multi-family residence, as opposed to their own private space.  That might take a bit longer--they're still a bit jittery when they hear a door open or voices out in the hall. 

The cats are still at the house, as we thought the stress of moving, a new place, cleaning staff, and close quarters with the dogs would be too much for them.  We'll visit them on weekends, and hopefully the close on both the old and new house will be fairly close together, so they won't have to deal with too much upheaval.

In the past month, we've been going through the whole "relocation" process, meeting with realtors (on both sides of the move), movers, repairmen, and so on.  All this, and we're just moving an hour or two down the road.  I'm not sure we've been treated this well even though we've moved three times over international borders, with two of those moves being across the continent, as well.  It almost seems a bit silly to be making all this fuss, but I sure do appreciate it!

The house isn't quite on the market yet, but we're meeting with the selling agent this Wednesday, so it will probably be up by next Monday.  At that point, all we can do is cross our fingers.  And do a ritual or two, of course.

Here's hoping to a quick sale!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Kai's Birthday Week

Yesterday was Kai's 1st Birthday (Happy Birthday, Kai!).  Unfortunately, we couldn't do much because he is going through the throes of panosteitis (pano) right now, poor puppy.  This means sedatives, analgesics, and much, much crate rest.  Luckily, the pano comes and goes, so he has good days as well as bad.  Because of this, we decided he should have an entire week of birthday fun!

When he is able, he'll go to dog parks galore, and travel with us in the car just about wherever we go.  He'll get to walk along the lake shore in Burlington, where he can take the "high" path and look down on everything, as he loves to do.  He'll go into any retail establishment that will allow it, and enjoy attention and admiration at all the local pet stores. The high point of the week will be his (and Lance's) first ever overnight camping trip.

If he is not able, he'll get all kinds of special attention anyway, just a more quiet kind.  :)

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Beltane Mezcal

I hope everyone had a very merry Beltane.  Despite rain and gloom, we certainly did!  We decided to focus on excess this year, and the result was a very enjoyable night and day.

It started with my first ever taste of mezcal, which, despite my Mexican heritage, I'd never tried.   We just happened to see it in Vintages section of the local LCBO.  We were surprised to see no worm in the bottle, but we found out from a helpful clerk that while they DO still put it in mezcal, Canadian health regulations prohibit a worm's inclusion in bottles imported into Canada.

The mezcal itself had a deep, rich, smoky flavor.  My DH said that he'd had a really inexpensive mezcal before, and it had tasted like kerosene.  This one most certainly did NOT.  While "smooth" is not a word I'd use to describe it, neither is harsh.  I could only take small sips, and there was a pleasant burning all the way down my throat, but overall it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience.  (My DH, who actually LIKES smokey flavors, enjoyed it even more than I did.)

The night continued with rich colors, great music, a superb bottle of wine, grilled steaks, and staying up WAY too late!  The next day, May 1, we slept in deliciously late, then spent the remainder of the day walking in the woods with our puppies.  Not necessarily excessive, but still a lot of fun.  And the woods, at least, felt wonderfully witchy.

Contact me if you want more details on the Mezcal.  :)

Friday, April 15, 2011

My Wonderful, Incredible, Magickal, Appreciation Journal

About a year ago I wrote a post about my appreciation journal.  In trying to keep my spirits up, I was looking back through the past 12 months of things I had to appreciate, and decided to revisit the topic.

I should prefaced this post by stating that I LOVE journals.  As some of you know, I love paper in almost all forms (plain notebook or printer paper doesn't do a whole lot for me, but just about anything else does).  Whether it be an individual sheet, a ream, a pad, or, most especially, a journal, I just love it!

Now that you know that about me, you'll understand my delight when I found this particular journal. I didn't want to spend a lot of money, but I wanted something relatively pleasant, thereby increasing the chances that I'd actually use it!  I headed over to the bargain books section of my local Chapters.  I didn't think my chances of finding a journal or blank book in that section were great, but I figured it was worth a try.

I didn't see anything, but of course I had to take the opportunity to browse through the section anyway.  After a few minutes, I saw a single copy of an untitled book with a pretty spine.  Pulling it out, I found it was the PERFECT blank book for my purposes. 

It's a pleasing square shape, with appealing, varied colors of green, pink, yellow lilac and blue on its plush cover.  Three small panels take up half the front cover, with a word written in each--Faith, Family, Friends, respectively.  ('Faith' gave me pause, because I tend to associate it with the Christian religion, but then I realized I, too, have faith.)  Flowers and a butterfly round out the rest of the front cover.  Inside, the pages are very pale versions of all these colors, with an inspiring quote on many of them, and a handy white bookmark ribbon to hold my place.

I fell in love with it instantly, and knew I had the book I needed in my hand.  I looked at the back, and the inside front cover, and the spine, but could find no title or price listed.  I looked for other copies, but it was the only one.  I decided it had been misplaced, and went to the gift books section, assuming I would find more copies there.  Nothing.  I took it up to the counter, explained my search, and handed it over to the sales clerk.  She could find no information about price on it, either, nor could she look it up in her computer without title or ISBN number or SOMETHING.  She called a manager over.  After hearing a shortened version of the story, the manager glanced at it, handed it to back to me, and said, "Just take it."

"Really?" I asked, not believing I understood her correctly.

"Yeah," she said.  "We can't find any information on it."

I thanked them and left the store, elated that I had found such a perfect book, and it hadn't cost me a cent!  I've thought since then that I was meant to have it, and that perhaps it appeared there just for me.


Friday, April 8, 2011

A Tarot Blog

Introducing "A Witch's Journey Through the Tarot," a blog I just started with a more witchy bent.  Don't worry, though, I don't plan on giving up on this one, or on changing it.

"Through the Tarot's" purpose is to chronicle my quest for knowledge of tarot cards from the very beginning to Tarot Grandmaster.  It'll take time, and a lot of hard work, but I'm confident I can eventually get there.  Along the way, I'll start with books I already own and eventually progress to online courses and even real-life apprenticeships.  I'll talk about my lessons, occasionally write reviews of decks or accessories, and just have fun with it.

I'd been thinking about it for a while, but I just made the inaugural post yesterday.  (I'd gotten hung up for months on a title.)  How often I post there will depend on the lessons upon which I'm working, and whether I'm at a daily part of them, or a period or reflection or some such.  It will be fairly steady, though, without all the periods of nothing-worth-writing-about-going-on that this blog experiences. 

Come check it out, and please follow if you're interested!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Spring at Last

Spring is busy springing here in Southern Ontario.  We’re actually getting a few days above freezing here and there, even if there is still snow on the ground about half the time.  And we’re actually starting to see more rain than snow, which is a great thing for rain lovers such as DH and me.  As for the animals, Kai, who absolutely LOVES to play in mud puddles, is thrilled, while Lance, who adores snow, is not so happy.  (I won’t mention how hard it is to keep our white-tile kitchen floor clean in this season, LOL!)  Dale and Audrey, being indoor cats, couldn’t care less either way.  :)

Another sign of spring:  Kai’s blowing his coat out, so we’re brushing out another whole dog’s worth of fur every evening.  And there’s STILL fur all over the house, and literally falling off of him in tufts!  It will pass, though.  Lance went through the same thing last year about this time, and now he’s got a beautiful, silky, adult coat.  Come June or so, Kai will also have lost the last of his wool-like puppy fur. 

And I really do like the combination of almost-warm days and still-chilly nights.

Monday, April 4, 2011


 A personal update:

DH came back from his business trip to China two weeks ago to be told that thanks to his employer going in a new direction, his position was being dissolved, and he no longer had a job.  Effective immediately.  On literally his first day back, he drove in as usual, then called me about an hour after he’d arrived to let me know he was coming back home.

 “Why?” I asked, worried that he was ill. 

“I’ve been laid off,” he answered quietly.

Now, if this has never happened in your family (and I fervently hope that it both hasn’t and never does) you can’t quite imagine the sudden terror that grips you at this sudden news.  There is a quick moment of panic—what will we do?  What about the bills?  The mortgage?  Groceries?  Aaaaaaaagh!!!!!!!!

But it has happened to both of us, both together and separately, before, so reason quickly re-asserted itself.  You make a plan to survive.  You stop spending any money at all that is not ABSOLUTELY necessary, you contact the bank and ask to skip a couple of mortgage payments, you start making a list of things you can sell if you must, you check into unemployment benefits, you thank whatever deities you hold dear that you began storing food and preparing for disaster a few weeks ago, so you have at least a small cushion of food to fall back on.  And so on.

DH started making phone calls to everyone he knows in his industry (micro-chips) on his way home that day, and has spent a lot of time since emailing more people, applying for jobs, and sending out resumes.  As I told a friend recently, I myself am simply trying to be supportive.  Together, we’ll be performing a ritual on the full moon for a new job.  (“When the moon rides at her peak, then your heart’s desire seek.”)  In the meantime, we’ll try our best to stay positive.

It’s not that hard, really.  There are a number of silver linings to his losing this job.

  • He and I will have more time together, something we’ve sorely been missing the last two and a half years.
  • He really, really hated the job.  Besides the long commute (an hour or more one-way) and the even longer hours, there were conference calls scheduled to start at 9:30 pm on some nights, and phone calls at all hours of the day and night, even on weekends, even on supposed vacation days.
  • I really, really hated the job.  We got to spend very little time together, as I mentioned above, and he was often answering phone calls or email in that little time.  Thanks to the company’s quasi-human rights violations attitude, I wound up spending Thanksgiving alone one year and Ostara alone this year—both times because of last-minute trips to Asia that couldn’t or wouldn’t  be postponed.  He was even asked to come in on Yule itself, in the middle of a three-week “vacation” last year.  And he was always depressed and/or stressed out, and always, always sleep-deprived.
  • We will no longer have to pay $500 in toll-road charges every month.
  • His embarkation on a job search gives us both motivation to start diets and an exercise program.
  • Even though we may be forced to sell the house at a loss, we will finally sell the house (if we need to move)!!!
  • The possibilities that come with a new job and a move to a new place are always interesting and exciting.
 And, finally,
I remain confident that an experienced engineer such as my DH WILL be able to find a job.  And if not, then at least with our Permanent Resident status we won’t be forced to leave Canada again.

Anyone know of a good Product Engineering position?

Friday, March 11, 2011

The (Bad) News Media

". . . it’s painful to turn on the news. "

So I read in Willamette Star.  This prompted me to comment:

"This is exactly why I stopped watching the news and reading newspapers.  Since I did, I've been a much less stressed, much happier person.  It's not that I don't want to know what's going on, it's that the news media focus SO much on the bad, depressing, anger-inducing issues in life.  I still hear about what's going on, from friends or items floating around the 'net, but without all the lets-get-the-ratings-up/sell-more-copies drama."

I made a conscious decision to stop watching the news about 4 years ago.  I realized that every time I did, I would get physically stressed and emotionally depressed.  I would sometimes feel angry for hours after, and occasionally I'd break down and cry.

When I finally became consciously aware of the problem, I stopped and asked myself why it was so upsetting.  Was there something wrong with me?  Was I just a basket-case?  I found out that no, it wasn't me, it was them.  Good news doesn't get ratings, or sell papers.  At least not like bad news does.  Sure, every once in a while they throw in something uplifting, like a good sports score or a local hero saving a child, but for the most part it's all about people and situations being horrible, scary, evil, and generally unpleasant.

When I stopped watching, I became a better person.  I'm definitely happier, I like people better on a day-to-day basis, and I don't have such a bleak view of humanity in the large sense.  Sure, I occasionally miss out on some big story, but it's definitely worth the price!

What is your news program talking about tonight?

Monday, February 28, 2011

Learning to Be a Witch

Another posting idea from Pagan Blog Prompts!

I heard a joke a while back (I can't remember where):  How many Wiccans does it take to change a light bulb?  Answer:  Just one, but she has to read 20 books about it first.

I don't know if that stereotype is true of EVERY Wiccan, but it was certainly true for me.  The first six months or so after discovering Wicca I must have bought thirty books or more on that subject alone.  And I continued doing so for quite a while.  And there's still plenty that I WANT, but don't want to buy at the moment.

It makes sense.  Since the vast majority of us come to Pagan paths from Christian upbringings, we have a LOT to learn as we seek those paths--not only one new religion, but often many new religions, not one god, but many, and that includes goddesses, too!  We also have new holidays, new philosophies, new moral compasses, new everything!  (I didn't realize just how much I actually knew about Catholicism, most gleaned from just growing up with it, until I started learning a new religion from scratch.)

And while it's relatively easy to find teachers on the 'net, it's generally very difficult to find real live people in real life to with which to interact and from whom to learn.  I'm lucky--the Wiccan Church of Canada has two locations fairly near me--in Hamilton and in Toronto.  If I wished, I could attend weekly classes at either of those locations.  (I don't, but that's a whole other story.) I am also unlucky in that they are so close--I haven't been able to find a small local coven which I do want to join because searches for such things in this area tend to bring back only the aforementioned Wiccan Church of Canada.  Which leaves me with books and the internet.

Not that I'm knocking the internet.  I've found many wonderful places to learn on it, met many great Pagans (and non-Pagans), and made some really good friends besides.  I'm currently enrolled in three classes at The Magical Circle School. (And I'd be learning a lot more there if I didn't have a personal problem with self-paced and semi-self-paced classes, but that, too is another story.)  And any halfway decent search will find at least dozens of other such locations, some free, some not.

But my first love is still books.  Actual paper books that I can hold in my hands, stick notes in (DH HATES highlighted books, so I don't do that anymore), and refer to just by walking over to a bookshelf.  So I will probably continue to do most of my learning on my own, through those books.

I think I'll go do some reading right now.  :)

Friday, February 25, 2011

To Garden or Not To Garden

Something to blog about from last week's Pagan Blog Prompts:

I loved my potted herbs last year, I really did.  But keeping them going inside over the winter didn't work--the house is in general too dark for houseplants, and the puppy gates we have up to protect both our puppies and our stuff (not to mention the cats) make watering where there IS sunlight extremely difficult.  Add to that the fact that I have at best a brown thumb, and it spells failure.

Oh, that I had even a touch of my late aunt Juana's green thumb.  She could grow anything, and I mean ANYTHING in her South Texas garden--and she made it look easy!  The only thing I ever really tried growing on my own when I lived in Texas was a fern, which I killed.  LOL.  (DH and I (mostly DH) did have a small vegetable garden there once.  We (he) had a successful crop of tomatoes and jalapeños.)

I guess I didn't really like gardening until I became a Witch.  Or until I realized I was a Witch, that is.  At that point, as I became more and more aware of the cycle of life around me, and wanted to be outside more and more, I realized that I did actually WANT a garden.  I changed from a few flowering plants, grown mostly to "pretty-up" the house, to a combination of flowers, vegetables, and herbs.  I even got to where I didn't mind dirt under my fingernails, at least not much!  And I did pretty well at it--nothing died!!!

I did have problems, though.  I had to restrict myself to container gardening--the ever-present possibility that we will be able to put the house on the market keeps me from digging up the now-disliked lawn.  And I had to place those containers where they wouldn't get knocked over or otherwise damaged by two rambunctious, rapidly-growing puppies, which limited the amount of space with a proper amount of sunlight.

I got around those problems last year, but I don't think I'm willing to struggle with them again this year.  DH and I have talked about using fencing to cut the yard in half--one side for the dogs, the other for a garden--but there's that ever-present "what if the market improves" feeling.  And we're looking at a community garden plot, but we're not sure we'll be able to swing it financially in time to actually get a plot for this year. 

All of which makes me think that this year maybe I should be thinking about gardening, researching plants, and planning for next year instead of actually trying to garden.  The dogs will be older, and presumably calmer by then, our financial situation will hopefully be better, and maybe, just maybe, we will have sold the house by then, or maybe even decided not to do so.

Anybody know how long it takes grass to grow and re-establish itself in Southern Ontario?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Free Stuff

Since I've re-injured my knee AGAIN (this time with swelling and everything), I spent last week on the couch with my leg elevated.  Fun, fun, fun.  Not.  Working with a laptop actually on your lap is not the best way to work, and I got so sick of watching tv that I wanted to pull my hair out.

The knee is much improved this week--I can actually get around pretty well with a knee brace on it.  And, even better, I can sit up at the table for long periods of time, especially if I alternate elevating the leg on a chair and putting it down.  This means I can actually work and play on the 'net with relative ease.  Yay!

I've spent the last couple of days downloading free stuff off the web, from the Kindle Store over at Amazon, and from Microsoft.  The Microsoft stuff was pretty basic--I just discovered the joys of Microsoft OneNote, and I was busy downloading tons of notebook templates for it.  (And a bunch of Powerpoint and Word templates, too!)

The Kindle Store, however, was fabulous!  A friend of mine pointed out over Facebook that you could get Kindle for PC for FREE!  (Thanks, Sue!)  I also found out you can get a Kindle app for your iPhone or your Blackberry or just about anything else you can think of, all free.  The best thing, however, was all the free books you can download.  Most of them are older (like cookbooks or classic literature), or the first in a series, or some such, but still--plenty of reading material, and some really useful volumes besides!  (For you preppers out there, I found some great TEOTWAWKI materials.)

A word of warning to Canadians and anyone else not residing in the U.S.--You can only get the books at the U.S. Amazon site, and the prices are in U.S. dollars.  Also, not all volumes are available outside the U.S., and some of the ones that are available are at different, usually higher, prices.  Most particularly, some of the books that are free in the U.S. are NOT free if you live elsewhere.  All in all it wasn't too bad, though.

Especially worth it if you're somewhat bedridden, and not sick!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Other Worlds, Adventure, An Oddball Group. . .

Since I'm not doing anything noteworthy in my own life at the moment, I thought I'd mention a webcomic by a friend of mine: 

By Marie Tary

It's a sci-fi/fantasy story about a group of adventurers in a future time when several worlds/universes have collided with our own.  The writing is terrific and the art is AMAZING.  (And she's only on the fourth chapter, so at this point it won't take you very long to catch up!)  If you have any interest in comics, science fiction, fantasy, roleplaying, manga, art, fiction, ongoing stories, or if you just want something new to read, check it out! (I swear I'm not making any money on this endorsement, btw, I just like the story!)

Put a little fantasy into your life!

Monday, February 7, 2011

C is for Craft

Whether you call yourself a Wiccan, a Witch, a Pagan, or something else entirely, chances are you practice some form of Craft, although you might not call it that.  I'm talking about The Craft, of course, what some call witchcraft.  (Although tons of Witches seem to practice arts & crafts, also, though not being crafty in that way I've never really understood the correlation.)

At any rate, The Craft can cover a huge scope of topics--divination, herbology, and spellcasting, to name but a few.  And even within those topics, the variety is endless--tarot cards or pendulums or scrying (fire, water, or mirror); healing with, growing, or becoming expert in the properties of herbs; candle or hedge or knot magick, the list goes on and on and on.  Or perhaps your Craft is a simple matter of ritual, or of praying to your Goddesses/Gods in whatever way you see fit.

A cast circle and a formal altar, or a tree stump and a rock--it matters not.  Meditation to look within or cooking with intent, it matters not.  A spell to heal the earth or one to heal your heart--it matters not. 

It is The Craft.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Groundhogs, Blizzards, and Spring

Welcome to the Groundhog Day Storm of 2011! 

February 2 is an interesting day for DH and I, even without a blizzard!  Imbolc is often celebrated on the 2nd, as is Groundhog Day and the stolen Candlemas.  My DH and I celebrate not only the day we met, but also the day, a year later, when we married on the 2nd.  This year, it also happens to be the eve' of Chinese New Year (Year of the Rabbit, or so I've heard).  And, just to add a little interest, today there is, of course, the storm.  Whew!

I'm pretty sure we all know about Groundhog Day.  But how many of you know it has Pagan origins?  I'm not kidding!  See for yourself--Google "groundhog" and "Pagan". 

Imbolc is also a Pagan holiday with roots in fertility, weather divination, and looking forward to Spring.  Those who know much more about etymology than I will tell you that the word itself comes from a Gaelic phrase for "in the womb".  This phrase refers to lambs, which are now or will shortly be waiting to be born, as we are waiting for Spring. The Earth herself lies in wait, preparing to burst forth with new life in a few weeks.

Most of you don't know that DH and I met on the internet, long before it was actually cool to have done so.  We met face-to-face when he drove from Dallas to Austin in an ice storm on February 2nd, and we were married a year to that date later on a rainy one.

I don't know a whole lot about Chinese New Year, so I'll move on to the storm.  A blizzard was forecast for last night and this morning, but I haven't checked if we actually made it.  I've seen snow falling harder since moving here, and I've seen higher winds, but the criteria for a blizzard are the durations of both.  The media is calling it the GroundHog Day Storm, and I admit it's a catchy title.  DH and I have never been in a blizzard before, and with our love of winter and of weather, we loved it!

Whatever you're celebrating today, I hope you've had and are having a great one!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Meditation, My Way

I recently read a post on meditation, and I thought I'd add my 37 cents on the topic.  Why?  Because when I started out I got so frustrated and upset that it was totally defeating the purpose of doing it at all.  I felt the situation was hopeless, that I couldn't do it, that I'd never be able to do it, that there was something wrong with me!  Then I figured out what worked (for me), and it just all came together.  You could say like magick, lol! 

I started out trying a few years ago by reading books and internet articles.  All of them said "THIS is how you do it," where THIS was their own particular formula of counting breaths (or not), staring at a flame (or a color, or not) and so on.  Also, apparently, you had to sit in as close as you could get to full lotus position on the floor in a totally silent room set up for meditation practice.

Perhaps needless to say, I, with no form of yoga training whatsoever, could get nowhere near full lotus position, or even partial lotus position.  Sitting on the floor for even the suggested beginning 10 minutes was awful on my back.  Total silence just made me notice every small sound in the background, amplified about 100x.  And preparing a room specifically for meditation?  The very idea of taking the time (and money) to do it was enough to send me into full procrastination mode.

Fast forward about a decade, and now I'm joining groups and taking classes that strongly encourage, if not actually require, one to meditate, even to do guided meditations.  Meditate?!  Not me!  I can't do that!  And I certainly can't take the next step and do a guided meditation!  That's downright scary!

But I really wanted to do these things--be a part of these groups and take these classes.  And there was now SUCH a buzz about how healthy meditating is, in so many different ways.  And I'd recently been introduced to the concept (through Wicca) of "do what feels right."  All these factors contributed to my decision to try again.

I started by trying out the old way again, but this time sitting in a comfortable chair.  Still not really working.  I moved to the sofa, lit a scented candle, and let the dog (Merly)  in to the room.  Closer.  I tried a guided meditation.  It was actually MUCH easier for me than trying to "empty my mind," but I still wasn't there.  Then, right there on the sofa, I tried an extremely relaxed lotus position.  It wasn't much more than crossing my legs up on the sofa and holding my hands in the correct position. 

BOOM!  I fell right into it!  It's was like I'd been doing it all my life!  It was freeing and balancing and mind-opening and WONDERFUL!  I saw things and relieved stress and learned things about myself and my relationship to everything and everyone around me--everyday life, the Divine, my Craft, the world at large--everything!

I still don't have a daily practice, but I'm getting closer.  Two huge puppies instead of one medium-sized older dog can be a bit of a challenge, but I'm learning (and they grow calmer everyday).  I've found that my posture is much more about my hand position than whatever I'm doing with my legs, so that's gotten even easier.  I don't usually pay attention to my breathing, or to trying to clear my mind.  I've also found that normal household noises or background noises don't interfere. I can now fall into meditation pretty much anywhere that I'm physically AND psychologically comfortable. (I have to be in a place where I feel safe closing my eyes and not paying attention to my surroundings, for example.)

And all by doing what feels right!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

B is for Bat Wool
ABC Wednesdays 

(I'm going to try and pick up ABC Wednesdays again, since I lost my way on it last year.  I've missed 'A', but coming in on the second letter of the alphabet isn't too bad considering how this year is going so far!)

Eye of newt and toe of frog,
Wool of bat and tongue of dog

From Shakespeare's Macbeth, of course, though the better-known lines are

Double, double, toil and trouble;
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.

I first saw this performed on stage during a field trip with my high school Senior English class, in which we were of course studying the text at the time.  Having always been attracted to the creepy, the dark, and the scary, I LOVED this scene.  (I loved it so much, I believe it had a great deal to do with my ongoing love of Shakespeare.)  The lighting was dark and  the stage obscured by floating mist.  The Witches were scary in their rags and warts, and the huge cauldron was properly glowing with an eerie green light.  Delightful!

I obviously still have fond memories of the scene, despite the stereotypes perpetuated by it, and how offensive I find them since becoming a Witch myself.  (And it begs the question, do we judge literature by our own standards or by the standards of the time in which it was written?)

Anybody up for bat wool or dog's tongues? (I happen to have two of the last item just lying around!  ;>   )

Thursday, January 20, 2011

I Like Ice In My Drinks, Not On My Driveway

I need help, Dear Readers.  Due to the stormy winter weather over the past few days, the pavement which makes up our longer-than-normal driveway and the "parking pad" in front of our garage is now for all intents and purposes an ice-skating rink.  The only thing giving it any traction at all is the thin dusting of snow on top of it.  And we have no idea what to do about it.

We don't like using salt or ice-melt due to environmental reasons, but even if we were willing to do so in this instance, we can't 'cause the puppies play on the parking pad and eat the snow around it.  (I don't know why, but they seem to prefer eating snow to drinking water.  Maybe they're hot.)  And our resident rabbits hop across pad and driveway constantly.  "Pet-safe" ice melt quite frankly doesn't work very well, and is prohibitively expensive for such a large area besides.  And I'm not sure how "safe" it would be in such large amounts.  On top of all this, the ice is too thin for our ice breaker tool to get any kind of bite, so we can't remove it manually, either.

Do any of you who grew up in real winters have any advice?  Native Canadians?  American Yankees?  Russians?  Swedes?  Mongolians?  Is there any way to get it off before the Spring thaw, or do we just need to give up and buy ourselves (and the dogs) ice skates?

This Texas girl and her South Carolina/Florida husband are stumped.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Back to Your Semi-Regularly Scheduled Reading

Alright--I've been off for almost a month, it's pretty much time to get back to my regular schedule, and to my computer!  You see, around our house, we have holidays starting at the Winter Solstice (around December 21st), through New Year's Eve and Day, and continuing through both DH's and my birthdays in the first half of January.  We still have our anniversary in the first week of February,  but that's usually a weekend or less--not nearly so disruptive.  And then there's Valentine's Day, which some Pagans refer to as Aphrodite's Day, but that, too, takes a weekend at most, if we even choose to celebrate it.

It actually used to be worse, when we DID celebrate US Thanksgiving.  At that point, our holiday season would start in the last week of November, and continue through all the Christmas parties and New Year's celebrations and birthday merriment right through until now.

Combine all the revelry during the holiday season, and add to that the amount of vacation DH usually takes at this time of year, and you can imagine how different our lives are for this past month!  Nonetheless, I'm determined to get back to normal!  I caught up on a bunch of personal tasks yesterday, and today I'm getting back to this!

Of course, I'm simply trying to get back in the habit, such as it was.  I don't have anything earth-shattering or particularly insightful to say. 

Maybe tomorrow.  :)