Monday, December 31, 2007

I Didn't Actually Kill It

I started messing with my websites yesterday. Well, one site in particular. There's something I want to add and I was trying to find out how to do it (to be added to the other site later, once I figure it out). I thought I got it but, when I went to publish, I found all the information that connected my program to my host was gone. The site, the directory, the access id, all of it gone. I don't remember how I set it up before, and I don't remember where I found the information to do it. Panic mode on. The website itself wasn't gone, mind you, just all the fancy settings that allow me to publish it.

I tried a few things, I looked up a few more things, it still wouldn't connect. "The specified directory does not exist, would you like to create it?" it said. No, I don't want to create it, it's already there! But it wasn't there, there was nothing for the program to connect or upload to. Panic mode still on!

If the directory was gone, then that would mean my website was gone too, right? I went to the host first, and couldn't find my directory. Then I tried to open the site itself and was met not with the familiar blue on gray background, but the horror of website errors "This page cannot be displayed." What the heck! I was just trying to add something special and I killed my website!!

Well, logic settled in after that, and I decided to check my other page. This one is built with different software and I haven't updated it since the solstice when I changed an image, so I couldn't have killed that one too. Sure enough, that purple page could not be displayed either. We all know what that means, right? The host was down. Of course the program couldn't connect to the host, the host wasn't working at the time. Of course my sites couldn't load, the host wasn't working at the time. Whew! Panic mode off, and I felt a little silly for overreacting like I did. Of course I couldn't have wiped out my site, I didn't actually publish anything because the thing couldn't connect because the host was down!

I guess I was just really excited to add this thing I think will be neat if I can get it to work, that I wasn't thinking with sense when it wasn't working. Really, everything's ok. I went to bed reminding myself to check the sites in the morning because I know they will be there and just fine. I did, and they were. Silly me.

Today is going to be a long day at work. I'm only allowed to go home an hour early, which really isn't going to help my plans at all. And I still have to fill in for those two people who weren't here on Friday and aren't here again today. That's what happens when everyone else is off: I get screwed. I wonder if it's too early to ask for the days after Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years off next year....

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Cleaning and More Cleaning

In the absence of First Night Annapolis, Fox and Fae are coming over tomorrow for New Years Movie Night! We're going to have food and snacks and a fire in the fire place, and ring in the new year with a marathon of some movie series.

We haven't settled on what series yet. We're looking at something that will occupy us until the wee hours of the morning. It probably won't be a Harry Potter marathon; there are just too many of them. But we could always curl up with Lord of the Rings, or Pirates of the Caribbean, or Back to the Future, or Jurassic Park, or Indiana Jones, or something in the Star Wars universe. There are plenty of options, and plenty of DVDs to keep us occupied until we scream for breakfast and cozy beds.

This means mom and I had to do some cleaning to make the house presentable for NYMN07. We cleaned the dining room and the living room and we'll have to produce another chair from somewhere (don't worry, I have one).

I'm the only poor sod in my house who has to go to work tomorrow. But at least I get to take mom's CR-V!

Saturday, December 29, 2007


The fact of the matter is that I don't make enough money. Tell me something I don't know.

But then there's thirteen-thirteen. It will be completely redone. It smelled of new, unfinished wood and fresh paint. I'd never thought I'd find a place where lavender didn't work. It really didn't work here, but that will be replaced too. Smaller than desired, but not too small. A small stand of trees sits across the way, that I've been assured won't change.

Now, all I have to count on is some deals that they have no reason to give me; if the cost goes down and the term goes up. And we're still counting on the stocks to rise and thirteen savings bonds that haven't yet matured.

And complete strangers to cut me a break only on faith.

She'll call in a few weeks. But, on the bright side, by then the moon will be right.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Two Cups of Coffee Before Ten O'clock

I think that means I'm in for a long day.

Two of the three members of my group are not here, so I have to cover for both of them, and Adolf had to pull people from another group to cover my regular work (which doesn't include answering the phone or voice mail; I still have to do that). I'm looking at the work I've already completed for today and it feels like it should at least be 1130 or so.

So much for a slow Friday.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Problem Solving is What I Do

And in today's case, it was only because I can recognize patterns and ask questions. My questions prompted the problem to solve itself. If only all issues could be handled this way.

It made for a headache of a morning, though!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Too Polite to Say Shut Up About It

During my limited thirty minute lunch, I got to hear WAM boast about her family's connection to the royal lines of Scotland and England. "This person signed the Magna Carta, and this person fought alongside William Wallace, and this person was related to Henry VIII, and actually we can go back to Henry IV, and this person was a cousin of MacBeth, and then they came to this country because I guess they didn't want to be royalty anymore and-" I really wanted to scream OH WHO CARES! but, I'm just too polite. And I don't want WAM to get all pissy at me.

I can think of a hundred things I would rather have been doing during my lunch than listen to WAM prattle on about things mightily irrelevant. I even brought out my computer and attempted to get some writing done, but she just wouldn't shut up.

And at this very moment she's talking to another co-worker about it.

But she's off tomorrow and then for the rest of the year and I won't have to hear about it for at least a week.

Thank whatever is out there for small favors!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Not Celebrated By Everyone

Today consisted of a lot of sitting around. I exchanged gifts with my parents, my mother went to church, we took a walk around the neighborhood, baked a pie, and sat around with our video games.

When the pie was done, it was off to my grandmother's for dinner. This was another opportunity for my aunt to yell at me for desiring to move out. Her point of view, of course, is that she's been living with naught but her dog Shelley for the past eleven years since her husband died. It strangely does not feel like it's been that long. I understand her point of view. I also understand that she's 90 years old and from a very different generation than I.

I received two text messages from two friends wishing me a Merry Christmas. It's very odd, I usually have no problem being wished a nice day even if it's a holiday that doesn't have any particular significance to me. For some reason, I couldn't return their greetings. I had no problem calling out "Merry Christmas" at my neighbors while my mother and I walked this morning, so I really don't understand why I'm having this reaction. Maybe I'm a little upset at my own neglect that I didn't wish either of them a Happy Yule, even though I know one doesn't celebrate it and I'm not sure about the other. It's a peculiar place to find myself in.

Now, we're all stuffed with food and can't get to sleep. There's time for more video games!

And if you do celebrate it: I hope you all had a Merry Christmas. And to my two friends (who don't read this anyway), thank you for your wishes, and I hope you also had a happy day.

Full Cold Moon

The Cold Moon, also sometimes called the Long Nights Moon, is so named because of the long, cold nights of midwinter. Yule isn't actually the first day of winter. Meteorologically, we're about half way through.

Yesterday, the middle day of the three day full moon cycle, was the most opportune moment for me to begin a spell that will be unfinished until the moon waxes again.

This is actually a simple candle spell, I had originally intended for it to be a seven day spell - I tend to have much success with those - but the timing was not quite right. Spell work is really like anything you do; you get out of it what you put into it. A spell that gets completed over the course of several days becomes more effective because it is focused for a longer period of time.

I began by clearing my altar, and setting it to the north (where I normally start in the east). I placed two candles upon it, a green one for monetary prosperity, and an orange one for a successful endeavour. I cleansed and charged each candle with Reiki while thinking about my purpose and what I hope to obtain. I lit the wicks, the green one on the left first, and sat before my candles in meditation. About an hour of this concentration about what I wanted to draw to me was all I could hold, so I snuffed the candles and went to bed.

They will remain on my altar until the new moon, when I will light them again and meditate until they burn out. My goal is to finish at the next full moon and therefore come full circle. During the waning period, I will be physically putting my desire into motion. Even if you trust your spellwork, you should never just perform a spell. If you want money, for example, a great big wad of cash is not going to fall out of the sky and into your lap. You have to take action; mind your spending, work overtime, whatever you need to do to help things along. That money you're looking for will come in a natural way, but it won't come at all if you're not doing anything to encourage it.

Monday, December 24, 2007

I'll Call This Number Two

As in the second most boring day of the work year. The first, if you missed it, was the day after Thanksgiving. Nothing happens at work. No one calls in, and we can't call anyone because no one is home, or open.

If it wasn't for the ginormous project Adolf just gave me, I'd be twiddling my thumbs right now.

Sunday, December 23, 2007


I had this post all written out, but it didn't publish and now it's gone. I just don't feel like rewriting it.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Really Tired

I was up quite late last night and had to pay for it today. Mom and I had to go shopping. I hate shopping this close to Christmas, but someone has to get the groceries. And I've been itching for some more challenging origami models, so I came home with a few new books. Some are pretty hard!

I was going to take a nap, but my brother and his wife showed up for a little visit. They're going to spend Christmas day in their house, so they came up for the day to pick up some things from her parents and drop of some gifts. We got a basket full of yummy things from a Mennonite market near their home. Yummy things like honey and apple butter and tea and coffee. Mmmm! It's ok that I didn't get a nap (by the time they left, it was too late to take one), it's always nice to see my brother and sister-in-law. And they got to talk about their house; the two acres it sits on, unpacking, the hideous carpet that needs replacing, poor Ichus and his really long, easily tangled fur. We haven't seen them both since mom and I drove down there in May. It makes me so happy to know that at least my brother is getting those things that I've wanted but had to abandon.

Now, it's late, and I can barely keep my eyes open. I hope everyone had a wonderful "first day of winter!"

Bright Yule!

The solstices and equinoxes can sometimes be hard to plan. The dates change every year, you see, but as long as your ritual takes place somewhat nearby, it makes little difference what day it happens. It just so happens that the solstice will begin in less than half an hour; the official start is 0108 today.

The Yule ritual celebrates the re-birth of the sun god. To the ancient peoples, it probably did seem like the sun was dying in winter, until it suddenly started growing again. There is a reason why so many light and birth festivals occur during this time of year.

My ritual was simply a celebration. With my Yule log burning in the fireplace, I set my altar before it. In the center, I placed my altar cloth. This was my very first one, that has a pentacle, a special rune, and symbols for the four directions embroidered on it in spring colors. The symbols for the directions did not line up for this purpose, so I folded them out of the way. My Yule log served to represent fire in the south well enough. To the east, I set an incense burner, and lit the stick from the Yule log. It was interesting to watch the smoke from my incense go right up the flue. In the west was a silver chalice with water. This is also where I placed my wand on its stand, as I knew I would be facing south for most of this and I am right handed. In the front was a small glass holder with three pieces of moonstone to represent earth. Those pieces have an ironic significance that I may explain later.

I cast my circle and called the quarters. Then I lit a black candle from the Yule log and placed it in a holder on the pentacle. This candle symbolizes the end of the sun's travels. When it had burnt out, I threw the wax stub on to the Yule log. The log burned with new life, a representation of the new length of daylight to come. I contemplated this dark time, and the things I need to leave behind to move into the light of the coming season as the log burned.

When it had reduced itself to a pile of glowing coals, I dismissed the quarters and opened my circle. The water was offered to the Earth in libation. When the morning comes, I will clear my altar and light a single gold candle to represent the return of the sun. Sometime during the course of the day, I will collect the ashes from my Yule log for later use. (Among other things, they are said to be quite magickal!)

I hope this Yule found everyone warm and ready to rejoice with the soon return of spring.

Friday, December 21, 2007

I'm Moving to Mercury

I just heard if you weigh 200 pounds on Earth, you would weigh 76 pounds on Mercury. Time to live on Mercury! Who's with me?

Course, we'll have to be prepared for the heat! But, otherwise, it's not a bad idea at all!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Wondrous Words

One of my favorite reference sites, How Stuff Works, has a featured article today about the Rosetta Stone. Language is one of my passions. Unfortunately, I so love language that it's very hard for me to focus on becoming proficient on one at a time. As a result, I know bits and pieces of a lot of them.

I was fortunate during my last trip to England to accidentally wander into the Egypt section at the British Museum. Suddenly and without warning, there it was. My mother was more giddy than I have ever seen her about standing in front of the Rosetta Stone. This remarkable slab of basalt has quite a history. It has perplexed and defeated many a worthy scholar through the years before linguistic experts cracked its code. It was no easy process.

Suddenly, we, the people of the world, had a window into an ancient civilization that had previously escaped our study. All from the power of language.

Becoming more proficient in any one of the languages that I know pieces about is on my list of things to do. And someday, I shall. Focus is key, I think, so I think I'll finish ventriloquism (which is like a language itself) before I turn to those other words. It's terrible to leave things half done!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

There Are No Interstates in England

Some years ago, I was at work, eating lunch with Doug (who remembers Doug?). We were talking about my then-recent trip to England. Doug has dual-citizenship with England and the US, you see, so my photo album was a little bit of a journey home to him.

While we were talking about my trek to Stonehenge (which included my friend, a local, driving us there), someone else in the lunch room suddenly burst out, "I heard they have no interstates in England!"

Befuddled, both Doug and I looked up with the same expression on our face, and at the same time in the same disbelieving tone said, "That's because they have no states in England!"

I think I've been here too long. It's about time I travel again. And even though the strange state of Idaho is like another country, I'm not counting that. It's not the same thing, being not actually another country.

I wouldn't mind another trip to England, but I really want to see Ireland some day. And Egypt, and Greece, and Japan, and Australia, and Spain, and Brazil, but Ireland is at the top of my list. You know, a trip across the pond really isn't that expensive, relatively speaking. A couple thousand greenbacks can get you a nice tour for a week or so, or a few hundred for a glorified weekend. That last one wouldn't be enough, of course!

Or, I'll take another trip to London, there are still a few things I haven't seen.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


The elephant, thirteen feet tall and weighing more than eight short tons, stands in an open, low-fenced enclosure. People pass by him with ooo's and ah's, and there he stands. His trainer comes into view, brandishing a horrid little pike to make sure he behaves. And he does. He would much rather run away, but he is tied there in this pen.

A thick rope strapped to his feet keeps him there. He could easily clear the fence, knock over the people, and find himself outside. But he is tied. He doesn't know that, with his weight and his strength, he could tear that rope that keeps him there. He doesn't even try.

This is because he remembers.

He remembers being a small calf in that same pen. He remembers being away from the other elephants and being scared and being hit with that awful pike. He remembers being unable to get away because of the heavy metal chain around his ankle. He tried and tried and tried and could not break himself free.

This is why he stopped trying. He's bigger now, and stronger, and what holds him is not a chain but a frail piece of rope. But he doesn't know that.

He's learned to be helpless. He's been conditioned to be hopeless.

Monday, December 17, 2007

What Does it Feel Like to be Thoroughly Crushed and Defeated?

Probably like I'm feeling now.

I'm a person with simple goals but my shallow pockets can't meet them. I can't even find a shitty place that meets my budget.

I hear under bridges and overpasses are nice places to live. Just think of all the natural A/C and plenty of bugs to eat.

I'm tired of trying, and getting exciting, and seeing everything I've wanted out of my life unattainable.

I've had to abandon too many dreams to bother with it anymore.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Birds and Homes

After a tiny bit of purposeful delay, I finished my one thousandth crane. I had been putting off folding the last one, until I was certain about my wish. As it turns out, I was certain all along. It took several months, and could have been done much sooner if I were more diligent. It wasn't about the timing.

Unfortunately, it is too gloomy and rainy here for me to get a decent picture of the vase and cranes. I'll save that for another time.

About nine years ago, my brother had a girlfriend (this was, of course, before he was married). She was very nice and I liked her a lot, except she had a rather cripling self-confidence problem. Not too long after they broke up, she married a nice guy who happened to be one of Turtle's friends. They moved into a modular home just near Cedarville State Forest, had a son (incidentally, they named him Andrew, which happens to be my brother's middle name), and in time moved to a better area for their family. I'm not sure how they're doing now, Turtle might know.

I had a couple occasions to visit her in her little home. I remember it was small, but a good size for them. While she said they liked it there, they were moving to a place with better schools. I'm not really sure what schools are near there anyway.

I've been keeping an eye on the community's website, new homes have not been posted to it for some time. During our Saturday outings, my mother and I would try to make time to drive down long Cedarville road to check it out; maybe something would be for sale by owner and therefore not listed on the site. It's been a month or so, actually, but we finally took the time to drive down there yesterday morning.

There's one main road and thirteen side streets to the left once you turn into the park. All houses are on the left, and the community office is on the right, with a couple swing sets and some picnic tables, a playing field and then trees. It looks like the main road is going to be extended at some point. We drove around, went down 13th street and came back up 12th; there were a handful of houses indicating for sale, three of them are double-wides. That means they're going to be bigger.

The sign in the office indicated it was open, but it didn't actually open until 0900. We saw a lady leave her house at the corner of 13th street, get in her car, and drive to the office. I would have walked there, but she was probably afraid of the snow we didn't get. Even though it was just before 0900, she let us in and answered our questions.

The ground rent is somewhere in the $400 range (I don't remember exactly), and two of the double-wides are new (they're asking for $110,000 for one and $96,000 for the other, the used one is looking at $84,000). Never will I find houses for anywhere near these prices unless they don't also come with the land, you see. The lady in the office was not the main sales person, but she had lived there for thirty-seven years, and could assure us that the area is very safe. In fact, her neighbors can be seen walking the streets until 2200 or 2300 at night. We took the sales person's card and I'm going to call her tomorrow. It's a little further away from work, but what's a few more miles.

A modular home like one of these is a compromise to me. I want to buy a house, which I can't even come close to affording in this area. I also want to stay in this area. I enjoy the weather (humidity and ice and all), I love the kayakable waters, and I can't imagine what I'd do without a nice Renaissance Festival nearby. It's also close to my parents, aunt and uncle, grandmother, Fox and Fae, Monty, and not too far from my brother and Turtle. And then there's that little thing about how much cheaper it will be to move a mere ten miles than any of my other possibilities. I can't rent a place here anyway, but I'm not fond of renting either. This is the best of both worlds.

In anticipation of tomorrow's phone call, and how much I desperately need to be out on my own, my dreams last night were filled with nothing but a house. And it was specifically one of those houses. It was taking pictures while we were viewing them, and how I would place my furniture and hang my pictures, and where I would store my kayak. Which closet would have my costumes, and the themes I would want for each room. I had guests over in my dream, and my cats were both tolerant of each other in their little house.

I can't say that it's time for me to be out of here, it's beyond time for that. And that goal seems to be closer than ever.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Forget About What They Say

Monty and I saw The Golden Compass last night. Monty has read the trilogy where I have not. It was visually spectacular, and my friend mentioned it was just about how he had pictured it while reading. He did indicate that the book explained itself better than the film, but that doesn't mean he had to whisper to me what was going on while we were watching. I will say that the end of this movie wasn't and end and all, and that really sucked! But they've already contracted to do the trilogy.

You may have heard about how many people are in an uproar about this film; that it has an anti-god message. You may have heard many people saying they won't go and see it because of this, indeed the people saying those things probably haven't bothered to read the books or watch the movie at all themselves. If either of these two sentences apply to you: you are a fool.

My first point is that those people don't have a problem when a film with a heavy religious message is released, so they should also not have a problem when one without such a message is released. Ah! Intolerance at its finest!

My second point is that I have a real problem with people who can't think for themselves, and with people who listen to the opinion of someone else and don't bother to find out the truth and form their own.

The Golden Compass was fabulous. It didn't have an anti-religious message at all. If anything, the themes were of freedom from oppression and fighting for what you believe is right. There was magic and curiosity and courage and loyalty in it.

The author of this story is an atheist, but that does not mean that his tale is filled with atheist messages (and even if it were, there's nothing wrong with that). If anything, I think he communicates hope. Through his work, he acknowledges that there is something greater out there. He does not know what it is, but he wants to believe that it is something good.

The first part of this adventure told me a story of hope.

Friday, December 14, 2007

When the Time is Right

Many years ago, I lost touch with a very dear friend. I have tried all manner of ways to locate her, including old e-mail addresses, searching known aliases, and having a contact at the Census Bureau look up her last known address. She has a rather uncommon first name and a very common last name, you would think she'd be easy to track down. Alas, there has never been a response to any of my letters or e-mails.

I wrote a spell to attempt to get in touch with her again. In my case, it's simple because my address and phone number have not changed since I knew her.

You need some paper, a writing utensil, and an envelope. You can add whatever other tools you want to this mix; the simple way includes a cauldron and a candle. I used the brick fireplace in the house.

Cast your circle, sit comfortably, and write your friend a letter. Write it like you would if you were going to send it in the mail. Tell her everything you want to tell her; catch up on old times, give me a call, anything. When you are done writing, seal it in the envelope. I embellished mine with a wax seal. Then, light your letter in the candle flame, and place it in the cauldron to burn out (or toss it into the fire in the fire place). As it burns, see your words rise up with the smoke, to be caught by the wind and carried to your absent friend. Know that she will hear your words. Whether she acts upon them is up to her.

While Esbats are reserved for spellworking, you don't have to wait for an Esbat for all spell working. The time just happened to be right for me to do this last night. There was a fire in the hearth and the rest of the house had gone to bed, so I was not disturbing anyone. We had left the fire to die down on its own. The waxing moon was also just fine to carry a message (it may make sense if you think of your message as traveling to your friend, just as the moon is traveling to fullness). The brick fireplace is also on a South wall, the direction of fire, making it very appropriate as this spell taps the energy and determination of fire.

I wrote my letter and placed it on the log. I felt the heat as the paper burned, I could see my message being carried up the flue to the wind outside that would take it to my friend. Whether she contacts me or not, I know she will get my message and know I am thinking about her.

Mrs Claus Never Looked So Good

But, I'll have to wait until Mr Claus sends me a picture because I forgot my camera.

The entire operations department had a holiday brunch-ish party today. I say brunch-ish because Boss³ called it brunch, but it was really bagels and donuts. There is usually a little pep-talk, and then little presents from a client, and then a drawing for some rather nice presents, and reserved parking spaces for a month. Who pulls the names and passes out the presents? Santa and his elves, of course. And this year was special because he let the Mrs out of the house. That was me!

After our little party, the Claus' and their three elves wandered the building, passing out leftover presents to the important people (like the CEO, COO, CFO, etc). Santa brought his camera and took a lot of pictures. I'll probably have them on Monday for you.

Luckily, work has not been burying me for the past couple days, so the long morning break didn't set me back any.

I used to think I wouldn't teach my children, if I were to have children, about Santa Claus so they wouldn't be let down when they realized it's not true. I would watch the Christmas Eve news reports scornfully as the location of Santa's sleigh was tracked by NORAD. A few years ago, I changed my mind about this position. Finding out Santa was not real wasn't a huge let down for me. I think it was just knowledge that I realized I had.

Did you hear someone a couple weeks ago saying Santa is a bad role model because he's overweight? I forget who was talking about it, but I remember the local news radio station opening up their comment line to see what we thought about it. Most people said we should leave Santa and his bowl-full-of-jelly image alone. I agree completely. The article they were talking about was all over how he's setting a bad example, kids look up to him and he needs to slim up to be a good role model.

First off, Santa isn't a role model in the sense that athletes who operate illegal and cruel dog fighting rings are. Secondly, he only comes around once a year, therefore is only on our minds once a year. And the real reason why they should lay off is because he isn't the kind of figure that kids strive to be like or hope to become one day. His main lesson is a very important one, and the reason why I've changed my stance about teaching children about jolly old St. Nick.

Like the tooth fairy and the Easter Bunny, Santa teaches us to believe in magic. That's the most important lesson he could possibly give us.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

You'd Think I Could Find Something

I can't remember what I wanted to write about, so I thought I'd post a picture for you instead. You'd think with more than three thousand image files on my computer, I'd be able to come up with something you've never seen before, right?

Ah, well. Nothing it is, then! Maybe it's because it is past my bedtime.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Probably Not Just Dry

It hit me last night, maybe this isn't just a bought of serious dry skin. Maybe I'm allergic to the Burt's Bees lip balm that I started using on Thursday. Or, it's possible this is a reaction to my hygienist's latex gloves from Wednesday. Whatever the cause, I'm pretty sure my beat up appearance is an allergy to something. It's almost unbearably itchy (and red and patchy) to the point of being unable to sleep because it hurts so much. Don't worry, I have a trusty bottle of vitamin e and lavender essential oil to smear all over my face today. It burns when I put anything on it, but I left Burt's Bees at home.

I've used some of their products before, but never the original lip balm. I hope that's not it, because I really like the stuff. I tried to test it out with a spot on my hand yesterday, it looks like nothing happened. Of course, lip skin is a lot more sensitive. Aye, me!

Kitty's name is Saphira, from the Greek sappherios; sapphire, appropriate for her big grey patches (called blue in kitty color lingo). We all hope her birthing goes well.

We cleaned out the fireplace last night. It was the first time in years. It went many years without being used at all, but it was pretty full of ashes. I don't think I've ever seen it so clean (not clean enough to eat out of, of course). We burned a peat log while watching the Secret Garden.

I found another modular community near by this morning. There is one house for sale that is the size I want at a decent price. It's not in the best area, but it's not living with my parents either. Now, I just need to find out what the land rent is. Wish me luck! There is a community near a park where some friends used to live. I'd much prefer that place, but they haven't had anything available for a while.

While I was searching, I found that there is a great number of houses, most of them need some work, for the same price in the Richmond area. I'm not really interested in moving to Richmond, though I bet Turtle would be willing to rent a room from me if I had one. It helps to have a little help. Staying up here means I'm all on my own. But it means I could keep my job. While I don't like it much many days of the week, it's income and that's important. I'm really not sure how to go about finding a job in a city where I don't live and can't easily travel to. Wherever I live is, at the core, dependant on a job.

You can probably tell, dear blog readers, that I'm getting antsy about moving out of my parent's house. I'm to the point where I'm willing to rent something in a crappy neighborhood that I'll never be able to move out of just to be out on my own. There has to be something.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Just How it Should Have Been

My coworker reported this morning that Kitty (who has yet to tell anyone her name) found herself eating good food, causing a little bit of mischief, adored by a rat, and with a warm bed to sleep on.

We gave them a can of some all natural, no by-product cat food that my cats won't eat. She had a little of that when she got to her new home, and scarfed it right up. No surprise there, really. She was given some dry food also, and knocked over a TV and some Star Wars lego trying to get to the bag. She shared the bed with rats while they were getting their cages cleaned, and got her head groomed by the big male. I know I'm not telling the story to make it sound as sweet as it was told to me! She spent the night on my coworker's bed, having claimed it for her own.

I knew she'd have no problem charming her new caretakers.

One of the main things that I don't like about this season is the lack of humidity. Sure, other times of the year I complain about the humidity but do you know what happens when there is none in the air? My skin dries up like the brown leaves covering the ground. It gets dry and patchy and itchy and really really annoying. Actually, it looks like I've been punched in the face from how my skin is so dry. I wash, I moisturize, it's just not enough. And in order to not look like I've spent the weekend in a bar fight, I have to cover it up with make-up. This works fine, but prevents me from putting more moisturizer on during the day. It's driving me crazy today.

Maybe tomorrow I'll try a new strategy. Skip the make-up and bring a little jar of moisturizer that I can dunk my face in every hour or so. I'll just have to explain that I'm not beat up, just really dry.

The same thing happened when I visited the humidity-lacking world of Idaho, though not this bad. My aunt who lives in Utah was told by her doctor that "it's just the way it is around here" about her dry skin. I guess I never really noticed how much the moisture in the air did for my skin.

And I guess the irony is that the fog and rain this morning that caused me to be thirty minutes late for work also created 99% humidity. Alas, too late to save my poor complexion.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

And That's That

Mom and I took Kitty for a little drive to a Metro station in Virginia where one of my coworker met us and took Kitty home with her.

I'm a little forlorn about it. I know that my coworker is going to take care of her, or find a good place for her. But, I do miss her, and dad mentioned missing her too.

She wasn't with us for long, but she gave us something to do. We had a kitty who needed help, and affection, and food, and a warm place to sleep, and a reason to purr.

I can't keep every stray cat that comes up to my porch. But, I've learned that I can help them just the same.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

She's Ok

Our little guest is anywhere from six to twelve months old, and she might be eight or nine months, because cats reach puberty around then. The reason Dr Springer pointed that out is because she might be pregnant!

I've never had to deal with a pregnant cat before. One thing is certain; I am not interested in trying to find if she had an owner. The main reason for this is that it's terribly irresponsible to not spay your cat. There's a popular myth that it's somehow good for female cats to have a litter before you spay them. This is a myth, people! It does not improve their temperament to let them have a litter! You are contributing to the already massive overpopulation of cats! There are more cats in the world/country/county/city where you live than there are homes to put them in. Don't add to that! Morons....

Also, if she had an owner, they were irresponsible in letting her outside in this freezing and snowy weather. No, I'm not concerned with trying to find someone who may have owned her. What I will do is find some people who are responsible and will take care of her.

The main reason why I don't want to keep her is because I don't want a new cat to affect the personalities of my current ones. Cat owners know how that can happen! Our guest is in my brother's old room right now. She spent some time on my lap. Such a sweet thing.

We've got feelers out. Someone somewhere must know someone who wants a cat that may need a tiny bit of extra care and may be expecting a litter in a month. She got a rabies shot today, so they won't have to worry about that.

And in the process of typing this, I think I may have found someone who wants to keep her. One of my coworkers who, like me, is against bringing her to a shelter is IMing that she and her roommates would like a good housecat. If they're all going to pitch in for the vet bills, I have no problem turning her over. I know this coworker cares about animals. She raises rats and loves dogs, but just my story of this sweet kitty is melting her heart too. Good news for sweet sunshine kitties who need good homes that I would provide if I could. (Course, I may get first dibs on kittens.)

I'll be sure to get a picture before she leaves my care.

She Reminds Me of Sunshine

That's what my mother said about our visiting calico. "It's her bright gold eyes," I told her. The kitty's coat isn't that bright. She has some white, and big patches of blue (gray) and cream (light orange). She would be what they call a dilute calico.

She was at the door this morning, which I figured she would be, and dad was able to get her in the carrier and sat her in the house. NOT GOOD! What if she has FIV, or FeLV, or fleas?!?!?!

We moved her into the garage and set up a liter box and some food and water. She does have some flea dirt on her (great), and an appointment for a blood test and worming at 1045 this morning.

Mom maintains that we can't have another cat. I know she's right. But I've got a few people on the look out for someone who may be able to take her. If she's clear of disease, I'll be happy to foster her until we can find a home.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Hang in There, Little Kitty

There is a lovely calico that we've never seen before. She looks to be about six months old or so, and she is incredibly friendly. She's not afraid of people, eats like her last meal was days ago, and really really wants to come into the house and get out of the snow. We, of course, can't let her in unless we know she is free of disease.

Her coat is a little coarse, which leads me to believe she's been outside for a while. But she's not feral like Miss Luna was. I wonder if she just got away from someone.

She just broke my heart when we opened the front door to go to work and there she was. My mother saw her yesterday and gave her some food. We really can't have another cat, but I can't just leave her out in the cold either.

Hold on, little kitty. Stay around the house. If you're there when I get home, I'll clean out the cage for you and get you out of the weather. Then the questions will be: do we put out signs? do we take her to the vet to have her checked out? do we take her to the shelter and hope someone adopts her? Someone would, I think. She's so sweet. Poor little thing.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

What Would You Wish For?

Many cultures have myths or legends about some supernatural being granting a wish to some lucky person who found the secret by chance or deliberate action.

A magic djinn in a lamp will grant you three wishes. You also get three if you catch a leprechaun. Some faeries will grant wishes. You say a wish with the tossing of a coin into a well and blowing out of candles on your birthday cake. Folding one thousand origami cranes puts the gods themselves on hand to grant your wish.

The most common wish, according to wish experts, is some kind of wealth. I suppose that means that most wishers believe money will buy happiness, or rather happiness isn't important.

Beyond getting things, the act of wishing teaches sensible people to identify that which they want the most and therefore allow them to set goals for themselves.

If you could have anything at all in the world, what would you wish for? If you found that djinn in the old oil lamp, or saw that star streaking across the sky, or pulled the bigger half of the wishbone, or folded one thousand cranes, what would you want granted to you?

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

I've Never Been to Omaha

But I'm thinking of you now.

You've Got to Be Kidding Me

I just read an article in which Jennifer Love Hewitt is quoted defending her size 2 frame against some really off the wall comments about her in a bikini. What the heck were those people looking at?! I know a few people who would love to have her size. Kudos to JLH for loving her lovely curves and not being afraid of them.

JLH is my age, I certainly don't have her size, but I don't have more than I can handle either. I think she's beautiful and those people need to shut up.

Today, it snowed. It was our first official snow of the winter season (meteorologically, it is winter, you know). It was enough to dust the grass and the trees and cars and make the roads a wet slippery mess. Tomorrow morning has the potential to be quite yucky!

No one in my house went to work today, we all had dental appointments. There was some running around to do afterwards, but it was mostly a 'stay in' kind of day. A good thing we didn't have to go to work, we heard the roads this morning were awful!

I hope I make it to bed early, though. This weather just makes me want to nap.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Who Wants a Pleo?

I spend considerable time at One of the articles featured on their home page today is all about Pleo; a robotic camarasaurus-like toy. I spent the morning learning about this innovative piece of complex machinery. Yes, I want one. No, I won't be getting one. At least, not soon.

The HowStuffWorks article had only a little bit more details than the official Pleo website, PleoWorld. I won't be getting one because I have live critters as pets, the Pleo has a hefty $350 price tag, and a mere one hour of power on a fully charged battery (that takes four hours to charge). This thing is really amazing, and I'd love to have one. But I'll wait. If I wait long enough, I'll either forget about it, or new developments will make the price come down and the battery power go up.

If you want to create a cog-making machine, your first batch of cogs is going to be expensive, because they also have to pay for the machine. But, once that gets paid for, all subsequent cogs will go down in price, because they don't have to pay for the start up anymore. That's a simplified way of how innovation works. Once the Pleo is not so new, its price should be less. True, I don't need one. But I'm quite happy to support those awesome developers who came up with such a thing!

The truth is, I'm talking about this thing because I have nothing else to talk about, and I'm bored at work so waiting until I get home to find something isn't going to work. At least blogging about unimportant things is keeping me awake.

I attempted to hook up a VCR to the one TV in the house that gets cable, so I can record Tin Man because it comes on too late to watch. Sunday night didn't work. That's ok, I got to watch the first third of it last night and try the recording again. I don't know if it recorded anything, but the tape was run all the way to the end and it had ejected on its own from the player. Great. I was really hoping to do something else with my evenings (that's the point of recording something, isn't it, so you can watch it at a time that is more convenient to you?). I don't have work tomorrow because of a dentist appointment. I could spend four hours in front of the TV to watch the rest of the series, or two hours today and two hours tomorrow, and then have a little bit of time tonight (this will not create time tomorrow night because I have to go back to work on Thursday). It's all the fault of the SciFi channel and its two-hour-a-pop mini series. Though, I am quite thankful that I have so many opportunities to see this show, that looked exceptionally interesting from the first commercial I saw weeks ago.

I do like the show, at least the first two hours of this six hour thing hasn't let me down.

That's it. I've talked about nothing enough for now!

Monday, December 03, 2007

This is Going to Sound Heartless and Uncompassionate

But I'm going to say it anyway.

Young men and women get shot and killed by the hundreds every day in the war zones of Iraq and Afghanistan, but we never hear their names. However, if a young athlete gets shot and killed, his name is all over the news for days.

Don't get me wrong, I was sad for that athlete's family a week ago, but enough already. Everyone laments the loss of someone who was good at football, but no one sings for the real heroes who fight and die in our name every day, in conditions that are the stuff of nightmares. And many who do come home can't leave it behind, and many take their own life afterwards to be free of those horrors.

Priorities are a little skewed.

To those real heroes, I will sing for you.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Not the Time for Shopping

Despite the threat of rain, we walked the mile or so to Annapolis for brunch. I bought a new hat before we walked back, then mom and I did some shopping.

This time of year isn't a good time for shopping. True, we got a later start on it than we would have liked, but it also took a lot longer than anticipated. With only four stores to visit, we should have been able to get home by 1600. However, we didn't get home until some time after 1500. Still, there was enough time to move the VCR from the spare room and set it up to record Tin Man tonight.

Hopefully we'll remember how seriously we need to stay away from all stores during this time of year!

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Another Doctor

Poor Callie got to go to the doctor again this morning. Poor baby; two vet visits in a week! She must think I'm punishing her for something.

Fox came over to help out since dad is busy working all day, and that allowed mom to do the weekly shopping without delay.

I made a game plan for getting Callie in the cage, and then we went to it. It had never previously been so easy! Maybe it helps to have a game plan, and a friend nearby who can start it earlier. (I'm talking about putting Callie's feet in the cage, since she usually used them to brace herself outside. Fox got hold of her feet right away and the poor thing never had a chance!) She still cried her little cry all the way.

I used to work for this DVM, Dr Springer, I really like his methods and how thorough he is, and that's not just because I worked for him. He looked at the x-rays, mentioned that he was impressed that Dr Ruth took them without sedating my cat, and was also perplexed by the shadow between her femur and tibia. It took three of us (his two employees and me) to hold her down while he manipulated Callie's knee. Poor Callie howled like I have never heard her howl before. It was hard to watch, because I knew it hurt, and she was really fighting the three of us while he did it.

Dr Springer wasn't so sure about it being major arthritis, he thought that it might have been trauma like an injury to the anterior cruciate ligament (that's one of the two that cross right behind the joint and the easiest to injure, even in humans). That spot on her x-ray (that he made it a point to say he'd never seen before in a cat) could just be a hematoma (that's a fancy word for a bruise, basically a collection of blood where it shouldn't really collect as a symptom of an injury). Then he asked me if she hurt herself recently. No, not that I know of.

He decided that, while Dr Ruth's advice was sound, he preferred not to give lots of aspirin to cats because their liver can have a hard time with it. It sounded a lot like what I had read about (not) using essential oils on cats. He said we really wouldn't be able to tell for certain without surgery, and he didn't recommend that at this time. Whew! He decided he'd rather treat it like an injury than arthritis, and he gave her a shot of cortisone and some cortisone-like pills to start her on in a week and change, and orders to re-x-ray in a few months to see what's happening.

Now, this just hit me (and Fox, you've got to tell me what you think): Dr Springer had asked about an injury, of which I knew none. What if it is the result of an injury, and what if that injury happened sometime between Friday night going to bed and Saturday morning breakfast? None of us were awake, she could have done anything. She could have twisted wrong while jumping or ran into something while running from Miss Luna that hurt her knee and viola! Sudden and unexplainable limp. If this is the case; 1, it's the best scenario for Callie's poor knee and 2, it will take a long time to heal. The knee joint doesn't get a lot of blood to begin with, and it will take a while for a hematoma there to get reabsorbed. The anti-inflammatory cortisone should help.

Dr Springer also had a look at her teeth, and I tell you, I was amazed. I saw what Dr Ruth pointed out to me on Monday: her gums were really really red and it looked like they were growing over her teeth. When Dr Springer opened Callie's mouth, however, it looked like a regular, tartar-filled cat mouth. That's a relief! I don't know what the deal was on Monday, I saw what Dr Ruth saw, but I guess it took care of itself. Maybe the aspirin helped.

And, just in case anyone is reading this and gets ideas in their head, never give an animal cortisone and aspirin. One or the other. And always follow the advice of your vet, or the advice of the vet you choose to follow. This has been a public service aside.

I'm going to try it Dr Springer's way. I was expecting cortisone to begin with. She was walking a lot better today anyway. Maybe it really does just need some time to heal.

Friday, November 30, 2007

One Thing Leads to Another

I started out having an ok day. I spent my morning correcting mistakes made by coworkers and bugging the heck out of Adolf. And I let my tea get cold.

I will have a busy weekend from when I get home today. I have to verify some information, then pack up some boxes and envelopes, and watch my one TV show. Then tomorrow, Callie goes to the vet again (I've rethought being upset at him, we really couldn't have prevented this flare up unless we started some years ago), then mom and I are off to the post office and the store and a few stops in between. Tomorrow night, I have things to make, then Sunday is brunch, and a trip to Trader Joe's and Homestead Gardens. Phew!

One day, the running around all the time will stop.

Monty and I were supposed to make plans for something, but we never actually made any. I promised Turtle I'd visit her some time this month. Ack! Maybe I'll suggest that weekend before Yule. That might work.

And I still dream of a place to call my own in a land where such places are affordable to one income, where there also is income to be had. I don't have much longer before I will force myself out of my house. I have a feeling that means I'll be scraping to make ends meet in a dead-end job for the rest of my life. They housing prices are falling, but they're just not falling enough. Take $100,000 off a $400,000 house, and I still can't afford it. I need to change something, because I'm definitely not doing something right.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Waking Dreams

I saw something today. Something that was both completely new and strangely familiar. It changed the tone of my internal voice and filled my head with words that did not go together. There was a rhythm and a music to them, like the song where I should know the words but don't. I couldn't stay long, and my mind's voice reverted to normal eventually.

Maybe a poem or a song or something I knew long ago and learned to forget. There are rainbows in my eyes and yellow leaves clinging helplessly to a dry branch.

I put my finger on it just now, and I know what to add and where to put it.


For two people, who's lives together meant my own. Who do more for me than any two people ever have, ever will, and ever could.

Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

That Looks Like Incompetence

When I was in Idaho this past summer, I got an e-mail from a merchant about something that needed changing. And another. And another. I was gone for a long time, after all. Then, he got frustrated because he wasn't getting a reply from me and sent his e-mail to the box that I answer anyway, on the day before I returned.

I answered his e-mail (replying to everyone on the group list so they would know I had completed it), and included a note that I didn't get to it sooner because I was out of town. Boss² sent me an e-mail stating that I shouldn't have told him that I was out of town and no one else was around to answer his e-mail "because that looks like incompetence [on the part of the company]." What I wanted to say was "if the shoe fits..." but I told Boss² that I told him I couldn't answer sooner because of the three e-mails he had sent directly to me over the course of the two weeks I was out.

Two weeks ago, we got a brand new phone system. We converted from a standard PBX to VOIP, gradually company-wide. This meant that some incoming phone numbers changed, and all automated greetings had to be re-recorded (I'm the back-up voice for when the main voice is unavailable. Neat, huh?). There is one number that rings to a long message of information and goes directly to a voice mail box after the message (a voice mail box that has since been added to the one I already check. I was quite unhappy about this). Included in that message is a fax number that we encourage merchants to use. The problem is Voice #1 misspoke the fax number, saying "3" when it should have been "2." So, everyone who calls this number gets the wrong fax number to use, a number that does not exist. I told the department management team about it as soon as I discovered it; the day the new phones went live exactly two weeks ago.

A little less than a week later, I told them again because it was still not correct. Boss² replied that the people who could do something about it had been informed, the new message was recorded, and it just needed to be uploaded. I have seen an influx of messages left by increasingly more angry merchants because the fax number they have doesn't work. I confirmed yesterday that it is still not correct.

This is not rocket science. It should not take two weeks to fix a message. I even verified it with the phone guru (aka dad) who said it might take a day tops. There is no excuse for this delay, and I am very angry about it because it increases my workload. I have no problem telling these people when I call them back that I told management about the problem two weeks ago and they are sitting on it with their thumbs up their collective ass.

That looks like incompetence.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

For Anyone Who Wishes to Know

My cat did get to see a doctor yesterday, though it was not our regular doctor. After some prodding and a few x-rays, it has been determined that she is suffering a flair-up of osteoarthritis. In addition to the medication given by the doctor, her Reiki sessions will continue.

Remember, no matter how much healing work you do or how much faith you have in its success, never use your work as a substitution for seeking and following the advice of a professional.

There is a Short of It

And it's that "she has a bum leg."

I found a vet really nearby who had a 1230 opening to check out Callie and her poor leg.

Getting Callie in the cage to take her to the vet is an ordeal in itself. Sometimes, it takes all three people in the house to do it. Mom couldn't take off as well, so dad and I had to manage. First, we got the cage out. Callie was sleeping on a couch in another room. We went to get the cat and -- no cat. She must have heard it coming and hid under a chair in the dining room. Maybe it's fortunate that she's limping, because she couldn't get far before I caught her and manhandled her into the cage. She yowled the whole five minutes it took us to get there.

This place was very nice and the people were kind. The assistant checked Callie out first (my baby weighs in at 17 lbs 10 oz!) and then the doctor came in. She did some prodding and some bending and some general things, found she has a really bad teeth problem that will require sedatives to clean up, and gave me an opinion about her leg. She said it looked like arthritis, they could take a few x-rays and find out exactly where, or we could have my regular doctor do that later. Well, I won't be able to follow up with him until Saturday at the earliest, so I just had her do it. They took my cat to the back and said it would be about twenty minutes. Dad and I grabbed some lunch.

The doctor had to see another patient when they finished with Callie, so she napped in her cage (not so afraid of it now) while we waited. Then, the doctor came in with some pretty pictures of Callie's bones. She said she wanted to tell me Callie was an angel while we were gone, but I wouldn't have believed her anyway. They had to tape some of her legs down to get a clear x-ray. Poor thing. She's going to be pissed off at me for a while.

She has a bit of hip dysplasia (which most cats suffer from but it's largely not diagnosed because it's so common and doesn't seem to affect them as much as it affects a large dog), mostly on the left, which caused some arthritis there. She has a majorly bad knee, with an unidentified calcified something between the two leg bones where nothing should be, causing more arthritis. There's also a bit in her ankle. Her toes "click" when bent back, so there could be some arthritis there, but it's hard to tell in an x-ray of the toes.

Callie gets to take an aspirin every three days, and she's got a narcotic-like non-narcotic pain killer if the aspirin isn't helping much. She gets some fish oil added to her food to help reduce inflammation, and is supposed to start on a glucosamine supplement next week for her joints, which I haven't bought yet.

Two hours and $200 later, Callie got sent home with her meds and her x-rays so we can follow up with our regular doctor later.

I'm actually a little upset with him. Wasn't it some year and a half ago when I told him that she was having trouble jumping onto my bed? I had to get her a little stool to help her up. Didn't I mention that she was very sensitive around the hips and really hated being touched there? That was dismissed as her just not liking it. It looks like signs were there, but nothing was done about them before they became a problem. The thing is, I know our regular vet is a good doctor, and I know he does the best he can for the animals in his care. I used to work for him, after all, and I've seen him with a variety of animals and their many cases. Of course, nothing prevents aging. She's halfway to ten years old after all. I've never had a pet as long as I've had her.

But, we'll manage the pain of her osteoarthritis and get her teeth taken care of, and she'll have another ten years to go at least.

Monday, November 26, 2007

I Have Got to Start Listening

Yesterday, I mentioned to my mother that I should call the vet and leave a message, that way he'd get it in the morning and be able to call me back right away.

If I had done that, I would have learned that his office was closed today.

I can't take off tomorrow too, so now I'm searching for some other doctor.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Mom Had This Great Idea

There's this awesome Irish restaurant somewhat nearby called the Kilarney House. I like to go there for dinner around my birthday, and a big group from RenFest takes the whole place over on the last night of the run. My parents have gone to Sunday brunch there before, but they always seem to go when I'm in Idaho, or on a snowboarding trip or something. This morning, mom suggested we go. Ok!

So far, this place has not disappointed me. Even the pan-o-scrambled eggs, which is generally my most detested of brunch buffet food, was good. And the corned beef hash, and the cream chipped beef (even though it was a little more runny than we tend to like it), and the Shepard's pie, and the pumpkin pie. You can tell I completely ignored my diet this morning!

Afterwards, we stopped by one of the best garden centers around, Homestead Gardens, to see their holiday decorations, which include themed trees (accompanied by racks of those ornaments that you can buy) and a wonderful model railroad. People gather around it and spend hours looking at it. I could spend hours looking at it. What is it about model railroads? As you can see, the set-up is rather cute. I only caught one train going by with my cell phone camera, but there were several.

Fox and I got to play Guild Wars a little bit together when we got back. We found ourselves overwhelmed for a bit there, but managed to complete the mission anyway. Then he went off to play with his friend who gave him the game, and I'm taking a break.

Tomorrow, dad and I are skipping work. Ok, it's not exactly skipping, but we're not going in. And no, it's not so he can spend all day playing WoW and I can spend all day playing GW. Callie started limping yesterday, and today was even worse. We're going to have to make a trip to the vet to find out what's wrong with her poor foot. Taking Callie to the vet, injured or not, requires no less than two people, and sometimes it takes three. Hopefully dad and I can do it without a third person around to help if we need it. And hopefully the doctor is in and can fit her in.

Beaver Moon

My original plan for this Esbat was to do a cleaning ritual to help me clean up some of the clutter in the physical space I live in. Circumstances beyond my control forced a different kind of ritual upon me.

One of my cats woke up yesterday morning limping. I'm sure she did not injure herself through the night while she was sleeping with me (I'm not the kind of person who flails about in sleep). Her favoring of her left back leg did not improve during the course of the day. So, my Esbat plan changed.

I gathered my supplies, and made sure the cat was on her pillow where she often sleeps, not laying on that side that was hurting her. I gathered my last brown candle, brown being the color of animal healing, my special healing wand, a fluorite pendulum, and some ritual incense. I prepared my ritual bath, which is just a literal cleansing before your ritual. I have special soaps that have been made and given to me for pre-ritual use.

I set the candle and had the wand nearby and cast my circle around us. I lit the candle, and directed the healing energy with the wand to the cat. When I had visualized that to my satisfaction, I took out the pendulum. I was trying to identify the specific areas that were causing her pain. According to the swing of my pendulum, it was mostly in her hip and her toes. I performed an auric scanning, a skill learned in Reiki training, and came to the same conclusion, though her knee also seemed to be a source of pain. I then put my hands over that area for the Reiki to flow where it seemed to be needed. After I was satisfied with that, I closed my circle and dismissed the energies. The candle had already burnt out.

I did not time this ritual; I believe it lasted somewhere in the vicinity of an hour and a half. I am quite surprised and pleased that my cat stayed still for all of it.

Healing rituals such as this should always, always, always accompany the care of a professional. It seems that she has not improved any this morning, so I will be sure to get her an appointment tomorrow.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

New Worlds

Big bad shopping day was a little short today because, for some strange reason, neither mom nor I had to go to Target. Apparently, Target is the big time waster of our shopping. But, I'm quite happy with that.

On the way home yesterday, dad and I picked a really bad day to stop at the dreaded Walmart (everyone in my family really doesn't like Walmart, probably because all the stores around here are trashy). Both of us had a gift card to use, and I did have something in mind to get. Did you know that you have to register at their website just to fine out the balance of a gift card? Talk about crap! I had to do that yesterday (I did a fake register) and it really pissed me off. Yet another reason to hate Walmart.

Anyway, we went to a store that was on the way home, fought through the crowds, picked up my game, fought to the register, spent my gift card, and that was that.

My game, I'm not sure I've talked about it here, is Guild Wars. Fox was given a copy and telling me about it. I really like that there are no monthly fees, so I don't lose any money after I've bought the game. It is highly Player vs. Player-oriented, which is not the kind of gaming I like, but you can still play with only a few forced instances of PvP combat. It has similarities to EverQuest, but I can already tell you what it seems to be lacking that I wish it had.

There's no /consider command. In EverQuest, you could "con" your enemies to gage how strong they were compared to you and how much they hated you (i.e. how likely a mob is to attack you if you were to get close). I really miss that function. There isn't a /who command. In EQ, this command let you search your zone, or the world for people, and you could enter parameters. For example, /who all ai would bring up the names of every character that began with "ai" across all zones; tell you what level and class they were and what zone they were in. This command would bring up level 3 Ranger Aidan in Greater Faydark and level 50 Paladin Airiana in the Temple of Veeshan. While useful for finding if people were online, it was also fun to see if your friends adventuring elsewhere were gaining any levels and where they were hunting. It'd be cool to have something like that. As I play more, I'll come up with more, but that lack of a /con system is what I miss the most.

There are many things that this game does right. When you're out in the world, where all the mobs are, you get your own little copy of it (you, and your party if you have one). This eliminates spawn camping and kill stealing, both were big complaints in EQ. The downside is that it also eliminates people being around to help you if you get overwhelmed. But, dying isn't so bad in this game. You don't have to go running for your corpse or anything, and if it's just you, or if you and your entire party get wiped, you (all) get resurrected at a special place in the zone. This is nice because you no longer have a need to run, completely unequipped through tons of dangerous mobs who want nothing more than to have you for breakfast, to get your things back. I've also learned that I seem to naturally outrun most of the baddies in the world. This is great! That means I can most likely get away if I need to! Zoning still works like it did in EQ; there are distinct borders to the area that you're in, and if you get into trouble, you can run for one of those borders and load into the next area. Whatever was chasing you can't follow. I don't think they call it zoning here, but that's exactly what it is.

All in all, I like it. I've only played a few hours, but I'm going to start over. There is a point at the beginning that changes the world and you can't go back, and I realize I missed a ton of things by getting to that point too quickly. That's ok. Do over!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Writing Continues

This is a hard time of year to deal with almost any project. The United States alone is looking at two holidays celebrated by everyone and four more celebrated by groups of people based on faith or ethnicity, all in a span of little more than a month.

For those of you in the United States, I hope you had a wondrous Thanksgiving, filled with the company of family and the bounty of this pre-winter harvest. Thanksgiving is, after all, a harvest festival. It is unique in that it has no religious roots whatsoever, and most cultures around the world celebrate the harvest in some way. Canada, for example, holds their harvest Thanksgiving the second Monday in October. It has become a day not only to give thanks for the bounty of the harvest, or the Natives who taught the Pilgrims how to have a bountiful harvest, but also for all of your blessings. Gratitude is a blessed thing.

I want to share a blessing with you. I usually bring this up around Lughnasadh but, as you can see, I did not have my journal up for that holiday. It is appropriate here because Lughnasadh is a Thanksgiving holiday, it is the first harvest.

Since many Wiccans and pagans come from other religious backgrounds, and most of those are Christian, many ask me about a pre-meal blessing appropriate to their faith, similar to a rhyme they were taught as children (for example, the "God is great, God is good" blessing of the Methodist Church, or the "Bless us, oh Lord, and these, Thy gifts" blessing of the Catholic Church).

There is such a grace that can be said with pagan flair. You can recite it aloud at a faith gathering, or to yourself when you are surrounded by grace-sayers of other faiths and wish to be discrete. I quite regret that I do not know who wrote this. It was repeated to me by a High Priestess of a local coven, and I heard it again in an online coven. It is usually credited as an historic part of the Lughnasadh festival, but even in other online sources, its actual origins seem to be unknown.

The grace:

Thanks to the Lord for the food we eat.
Thanks to the Lady for her gifts so sweet.
Thanks to the farmers who labored long.
Thanks to the animals for their bodies strong. 
Thanks to the hands that prepared our meal.
Thanks to all who turn the Wheel.

Lughnasadh or Thanksgiving or just dinner, it's always a good time to give thanks for the food that keeps you alive.