Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Other Than Work

I spent the day writing. Work was slow, as usual, but I had to work four and a half hours. I ended up being there for five, not sure how that happened with so little to do! Between jobs that came in (and they barely did), I worked on a story I've been writing for a while but have also put aside for a while. It was pretty nice to get back to that, actually.

Now, I'll crawl into bed for a nice, pre-party nap!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Not Broke

Phoenix thought she broke something in her hand. One clinic said so. The specialist said not so. We're happy with not so.

She broke her foot once, and left it untreated for four years. At one point, they put her in a cast, and she was so annoyed by it that she removed it with trauma shears and the help of a friend. I told her, if it was in fact broken, I would not be an accomplice to her cast-removing crime. Thankfully, a small, removable brace is all she needs. I must admire her determination, though.

There was a sale on yarn at the craft store yesterday. I know, I don't need any more yarn. But, it was on sale!! And yarn is expensive. I did restrain myself somewhat. I'm close to finishing one project that I've been working on for a while, and I've got a garden gnome and a half waiting for me to open my shop some time next year. I need a few more crochet pieces and a couple malas and I'll be ready to go. It's exciting.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Not a Day Off

It was August, I think, when I asked to be off the days after Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's. I was denied the first two because someone else in my group was already off those days, and I was needed here to cover that work. The stupid thing about this is that I spent both of those days bored beyond bored. As a matter of fact, I was so bored this past Friday that Adolf sent me home an hour early because there was no work for me to do. I probably could have gotten out of here sooner, but I admit to putting off asking for more work simply because I got annoyed at having to do so. Well, next year when I ask for the days after holidays off, I will remind them of this year. Unless they give me some other task to do on a regular basis, it would not be worth it to have me here when I have so little to do.

This week is shaping up to be exactly like that, really. Although, WAM is out tomorrow, and I will have that work to do. I just need to get through this already very slow day.

At least I'm off on Friday. And, going to see Jeff Dunham at the Patriot Center. It's gonna be fun!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Lots of Game

Phoenix, her mom, and I had a quick breakfast at a coffee place then drove around town a bit showing off some of the trail heads and neighborhoods in the area. After that, the two of them headed out to visit nearby relatives, and I sat around playing my game.

I started a new character, really for the purpose of getting some holiday prizes when the winter festival ends on Thursday, and I really enjoy playing this class. Sometimes a little bit of gaming nothing is a fine way to spend a day.

When Phoenix gets back and we send her mom on her way home, we're going to hit Trader Joe's for some much-needed groceries.

Saturday, December 27, 2008


We have so few visitors, but Phoenix's mom came to see us today. I spent most of the morning cleaning, did an hour on the elliptical while Phoenix went to the gym, and then we went out to dinner when she arrived. After dinner, it was chatting, then Spaceballs, and now we have reached bed time.

Good night!

Friday, December 26, 2008


Even with one person in my group out of the office, I'm not inundated with work today. I'm not even moderately engaged, actually. I'm working slower than I know I can, because more work just isn't there.

One of my coworkers, who has been curious as to why we pulled someone from another group (they brought LDS over a few weeks ago, though they say it's temporary) instead of giving that work to me, asked Adolf and Boss² why that was. He kindly reported that they have some plan for me. We guessed it's just not ready to happen yet. That's a comfort, I guess. I hope it means they understand why I'm producing so little work: that it's not because I'm not working, but that the work just isn't here for me to do. I know many people would enjoy that, but I have a somewhat unique work ethic. I'd much rather be busy than to sit around and get paid for doing nothing (it makes for faster days too, when you're busy).

And, while I was typing this and working, I finished all the work that had so far been given to me. 1100 can't come soon enough. That's when I don't have to be ready to take calls (which haven't happened yet) and can pass the time with my iPod. That will help. A bit. I have a small army of origami spiders on my desk from the slowness the past couple weeks. I've even had to throw a few away because the paper tore. I guess this year's daily origami calendar has less-quality paper than the previous two years. It was a different brand. Phoenix got me the 2009 calendar, and that is the original brand that I had been getting. So, for the record, Workman Publishing's Page-A-Day calendar does not have very good paper (though, it did have some nifty models). And, unless they've changed something in the year that I didn't have one of theirs, Accord Publishing's Fold-a-Day calendar has much better quality paper. It actually holds up to the complex spider model. I'm running out of star paper too (again).

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Happy Christmas Day

I stopped celebrating Christmas some years ago. Still, Phoenix and I opened gifts to Christmas tunes and drank egg nog while we made pancakes for breakfast. There's no reason why we can't take advantage of a day off, right?

After breakfast, Phoenix took a nap and I played on the computer some. Then we prepared dinner: yummy chicken injected with wine, mashed potatoes, and peas.

Holiday gatherings with my family usually involve someone, either directly or indirectly, commenting on my singleness. I couldn't escape that today either. Phoenix kindly believes there is someone for everyone. That may be true, but if I don't find my someone soon, it will be too late. One of our friends tried to encourage me by saying that she didn't meet her husband until she was thirty-five. That's all well and good, but she already had two kids from a previous marriage before that, and neither of them wanted more. If "the one" shows up when I can't have children anymore, what the hell is the point?

It doesn't matter. I don't expect someone to knock on my door and I know perfectly well that I'm never in a situation where meeting someone is possible. I just need to keep saving so I can get a little spinster's house and fill it with lots of cats. I can be like that crazy lady in The Happening who lived in the middle of nowhere with no connection to the outside world. That sounds nice.

After not escaping the "Fyrecreek is alone" conversation, we ate an exceptionally tasty dinner and spent the evening with Sense and Sensibility while soaking our feet with our faces covered in an electric blue facial mask. Now, it's time for sleeping!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Yet Another Boring Day

I did my work, asked for more, sat around, asked for more, and sat around. Today was one of the longest four and a half hour days I've had.

But, I'm home now. Phoenix doesn't get home for a little while, so I still have time to finish getting things together.

And, maybe take a nap. We still have a little bit of shopping to do for tomorrow's dinner. Hopefully, we can find what we need.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Trying Not to Feel Guilty

I know there is no reason for it, but I'm feeling guilty anyway.

A couple coworkers have given me gifts. That's so very nice of them, and they will look great under our little tree until Thursday. I'm feeling guilty because I have nothing to give them. Funds are tight, and I can't craft fast enough (or en masse) for them. I couldn't even afford a box of candy canes to make into reindeer this year. It was the shift in pay weeks that did this.

But, I know I shouldn't be guilty. For a true gift, people give because they want to, and they give within their means. I would be happy to give things to some of my coworkers. I think gifts make people happy, and I know giving makes me happy. I just don't have the means.

However, I do know the power of being gracious, and each one of them will get a thank you letter from me. That gets neglected more than it should. E-mail, text, and in-person thank you’s don't count, you know.

Monday, December 22, 2008


As much as I loved my pretty rosy template, it's high time I do something more with my near-rusty HTML skills. Tell me what you think.

This is only the beginning.

Not As Planned

I was going to do something fun today (I think), but I'm too tired. Miss Luna wanted breakfast at 0300 and wouldn't let me sleep. Fooey.

So, it looks like shower and bed early. Maybe I'll load those pictures tomorrow.

Yule 08

I had such a moving experience at Shadow Grove for this sabbat that I scarcely know where to begin to talk about it. I supposed the beginning is the best place!

The evening started with hors d'oeuvres and some sabbat-appropriate crafting. We made corn garlands and coated pine cones with peanut butter and seeds so the critters of the forest could have something to eat during this time when this area is quite barren.

After dusk, we gathered in the lower room of the house for a run-down of the ritual and to get started. Down an immense flight of stairs that descends into the forest, there is a path that wraps around a gathering place and over a little creek to the ritual circle. Grove rituals usually start at that water crossing, where participants and smudged and cleansed and sent into the circle. This ritual was working a little differently.

Pre-ritual cleansing took place in the house. We each took an unlit candle with us and gathered on the deck. In a dark procession, we descended the sixty-step flight of frozen stairs to the ritual circle.

The theme of Yule is bringing back the light. After the longest night, the sun will slowly begin to take hold again, until it dominates the skies in the summer. For this ritual, we called on the sun, represented in fire, to bring back the light and fill our cold world with the blessings of its bounty. We took a flame from the ritual fire and, as we dismissed the quarters, lit our candles around the circle on that one flame. The procession then went back over the creek and up the breath-taking stairs, bringing back the light from where we started in darkness. It was, by far, the most beautiful Yule celebration I have ever been a part of or witnessed.

After that, we feasted, laughed, fellowshipped, and chose random names for our gift exchange. You may recall my crafting from my November esbat; the gift I made was a Chilean three-legged pig. They're usually made from pottery and exchanged between friends as a token of goodwill and luck. My little pig was crocheted in Yule colors of red, white, and green. The recipient, an extremely kind and loving person who makes a delectable beer bread said it made him smile every time he looked at it. This, of course, made me quite happy. My gift was a beautiful dream catcher made by the High Priestess' son. He is an extremely creative young man, and it just so happened that I needed a new dream catcher. As moving as the ritual was, it was also amazing to take part in this little Grove tradition. It seemed like gifts went to the person who needed them most.

The tradition of exchanging gifts at this time is centuries old. Early people would share what they had in abundance with their neighbors. This was usually crops or meat, or useful things like wool. Nothing was wasted and everyone had what they needed to get them through this time of year when things do not grow. We are blessed in this day and age to have stores that carry such necessities even in the bleak of winter, but the tradition lives on. Maybe none of us really needed any of those little trinkets, but you could tell they were all made with love and warm intentions, and we all do need that.

I hope you, gentle readers, had the brightest of bright Yules.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

All About Patience

The day wasn't about patience, just right now. For some reason, it takes several tries to get anything to print from my Word Perfect program. It's not the new printer, because it was doing this on the old one too. Patience. It will work eventually.

Phoenix and I had the need to do a tiny bit of shopping today. We needed to run by Target, and she needed to go to Lowes to get a heater so she can give mine back to me. We also found some Borders coupons and planned to find one of those too. (The Borders is not exactly nearby.)

Still trying to print.

We found the heater at Lowes for the same price when I bought it. Then we got some necessary (and unnecessary) things at Target and had a yummy Five Guys dinner. The Borders was in the completely opposite direction of where we were, but we did find it. And, both of us bought more than we really needed with a list of things we needed to return for at a later time. Possibly Friday.

Still trying to print.

We found a radio station yesterday (she has satellite radio) that is playing lovely classical Christmas music. On the way home, we heard a song that I've not heard since my last year of college, when it was part of the Concert Choir's Christmas program. The song is called O Magnum Mysterium, and I had not heard it before nor have heard it since I sang it in that production. I have searched for it, but kept finding other versions. Even Phoenix sang a different version in her choir days. The version the radio played was the version that I sang. I was so very excited to hear that!

Still trying to print.

I did very little gift shopping this year and, while I still have a few things to finish making, I'm pretty much all done. Yay!

Except, I really need this thing to print. It's part of a gift!! Grrrr......

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Lots of Parties

I feel like I've been going to a lot of parties since I moved. That's mostly true, comparatively speaking, and it's great and this group of people is a lot of fun (even if I'm surrounded by couples, a situation I usually liken to getting paper cuts on my eyeballs).

So, I have a casserole in the oven, and then we'll be on our way.

Friday, December 19, 2008

FedEx is Stupid

Know this now, gentle blog readers, that if you ever have to send something important, don't use FedEx, and I'll also urge you not to purchase from a business that only ships with FedEx.

I cancelled my plans yesterday because Phoenix and I both talked to someone who said it would be no problem for them to deliver the package while I was home. When the package didn't come, I checked online and saw the estimated delivery date as today. So, I didn't run any of my errands today either, so as to not miss the delivery that someone has to sign for. You know where this is going, don't you? That's right, they didn't deliver it today either. The person I spoke with on the phone said there was no guarantee that they could deliver it on the day we requested because that's not the kind of shipping that whoever purchased the damn thing paid for. Nice that they tell us this after I've spent two days sitting around when I could have been getting things done (like grocery shopping). If it was a problem, the two people that Phoenix and I spoke with should have said so. Talk about a shitty way to do business. Oh, and the person I spoke with today asked if we would be home tomorrow so they could try again. WHAT THE HELL!! You couldn't bring it by when we told you someone would be here, now you want us to cancel our plans for the third day just so it can not be delivered again? Fuck off, bitch.

This experience has made me detest FedEx and their bullshit, illogical policies. People have jobs. If you require a signature, deliver in the evening when people are home. It's not rocket science. And then, when we tell you when we'll be home, don't tell us it can be delivered and not do it. It boggles the mind that someone paid for that amazing lack of service. I know I will never support that company, and I'm not going to inconvenience myself again to drive to their facility to pick it up. They're just going to have to trip on it for a week and send it back.

We don't know what it is, and we don't know who sent it to us. I have no interest in receiving it. What a stupid company.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Working and Waiting

I've got a few projects that I've been working on, so I've spent my day off doing that. I'm also waiting for FedEx to deliver a package.

This package baffles us, really. It has both our names on it, a note that it's a gift, and requires the signature of someone over twenty-one. The person I spoke with at FedEx said that means it's some kind of alcohol. We've asked our mutual friends (because, to have both names on it, it must be coming from someone who knows us both) and no one has sent us anything. It is very weird.

But, we called them and asked them to deliver it today when I will be here since the stupid people kept coming by when people are at work. It's a wonder anything gets delivered, really. If it requires a signature, then they should know that they need to deliver it later. It seems logical to me. But, at least I have plenty of yarn to keep me busy while I wait.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Second Visit

You might remember last year's little venture as Mrs Claus. I got to do that again this year. It really is fun. What would you expect from someone who likes costumes so much?

I just realized that I never got a picture from last year, so hopefully Santa will remember to send it to me this year. We were sure to take a few, but I forgot my own camera (again).

When we went around the building after the department party was over, I was impressing people with how quickly I answered their questions.

"Where are your reindeer?"
"They're on the roof waiting to take us home."

"Why don't you have any elves with you this year?"
"Oh, they're working hard in the workshop. We couldn't spare any this year."

Yup. Fun.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Suddenly Cold

We still haven't seen that snow that the weather people were calling for a week ago, but it's been super cold and rainy.

Yule is next week and I'm mostly prepared. I have a few more things to finish making (which will happen when I'm off Thursday and Friday) and then I just need to bag and call it done. Everything I had to order is here, and I only have a few things to pick up. Nice, huh? Despite the fact that I'm close to being all set, I feel like the holiday really snuck up on me this year.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Short Week

The rush to take days off is at an end. I have Thursday and Friday and that's it for the year (excepting Christmas Day that everyone gets off). This will be a short week at least.

Miss Luna has decided that 0300 is the best time to wake me up in the morning. She's been eating a lot lately and runs out of food faster than usual. I'm not going to feed her any more, though. I don't need her to start gaining weight. She's at a healthy size now and needs to stay there.

Those mornings are too early. I hope she gets used to the right time again soon.

Sunday, December 14, 2008


Phoenix and I had our first official visitor today! One of our friends called in the morning and said he wanted to hang out (and bring SingStar) and didn't mind that we were going to get our Yule tree today, in addition to a couple other errands we had to run.

He helped us with the tree and the groceries and then we sang a round and sent him home. It was fun!

Phoenix and I tore apart a chicken for dinner, then set to work on the box of decoration goodies we got from my parents. Much of the lights didn't actually work, so we ended up with a string of purple and a string of red. Amazingly fitting for us, actually. To the soothing sounds of a variety of holiday music and full glasses of eggnog, we set up our little tree and hung the lights, some silver beads, balls of red and gold, and pretty sparkling jewels (and one hidden plush red pepper) all over it.

I haven't had a real holiday tree in years. The cats aren't bothering it (yet) either. I love our little tree. I'm so glad I have such a wonderful roommate. We spent the evening decorating it, then played some SingStar and knitted to a movie. It was a perfect day.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

December Esbat

I hope everyone had a wonderful esbat.

I had planned to do something else entirely with this esbat, but the need arose to send some dear friends and family safety in travel. My sister-in-law is going to Japan in January. I am both excited and terribly jealous for her. Another friend is going to be making a long road-trip at the end of the month, despite the possibility of snow and ice in the way. This was the perfect opportunity to send them some safe travel wishes. I think we all know how stressful traveling can be.

I lit a blue candle for tranquility and calm for my sister-in-law, who will be in transit for quite a while just getting to her destination. I then lit an orange candle for alertness for my friend who will be on the road for days. I drew on those energies, filling myself with those hopes and safe thoughts, then projected them to the people they will help.

It should be noted that, while casting a spell for someone who did not ask for it is unethical, that is not what I did here. This was a spell on a wish, my own wish, for the safety of my friends. It was not a spell that imposed my will on their actions, but it did put some extra strength, calm, and fortitude in their grasp if they but reach for it.

A Challenge

Someone mentioned, someone asked, the challenge was received, and behold! A Beholder!

He is all acrylic yarn, polyfill, and a little bit of wire in the eyestalks. There was no pattern used and it took about five hours total. Phoenix named him Frank.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Never Easy To Do

Kitiara was suffering. She had to be put down. That doesn't make the act any easier to face.

Good pet owners treat their beloved pets like children. They’re companions, members of the family, sons and daughters who don’t speak the same language as we but we can learn what they mean just the same. The problem lies in that they don’t speak our language and we don’t speak theirs. They can’t tell us what’s wrong like a person can. We rely on what we know; by comparing how they act to how they used to act, and by taking the advice of experts on who we rely to help us when our general knowledge fails. We do the best we can with the knowledge that we have at the time. Sometimes it serves our furry family well and sometimes it does not, but it’s all we have to work with.

If nothing else could be done but to let her live until she died, would that have been right? Would she have been happy, spending her days playing and eating and sleeping and playing some more like a rat should? Or, would she have spent the time lying around, not playing, not happy and ready to make her way to the Rainbow Bridge where she would not feel the pain that the end of her life caused her?

It’s never an easy decision, and we end up second-guessing it for a while. But I think we must know when it is the right thing to do, or we wouldn’t have gone through with it at all.

Peace, my friend. You didn’t cause what was killing her, and euthanizing her was an act of mercy and love. I know your heart knows that.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Done Wrong

The wind is ruthless
The trees shake angry fingers at the sky
The people hunch their shoulders
Hold their collars over their ears and run by
It's a cold rain
It's a hard rain
Like the kind that you find in songs...
And before it gets so cold
That the rain turns to snow

It's not snow yet, but it sure is a cold rain (and it will be snow in a couple days, they say). I just hope the windows don't leak because the gutters are clogged again.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

All About the Grind

I wish I could be talking about coffee, which is a yummy kind of grind.

There is a chap in my office who is rather pleasant, even if he sleeps through most of the day. He gets away with it because he is friends with Adolf. I choose my words carefully around him, as I'm certain some of the things I say get back to Adolf.

Just last week, we were talking about some of the work I do and I mentioned the parts that annoy me (like the fact that they scream when I don't answer the voice mail and yet I've never had a voice mail back-up for the four years I've been tasked with it). I'm pretty sure this found its way to Adolf, because I came back from my long weekend to an e-mail asking for voice mail instructions so Adolf can designate a back-up when I'm not here. The only thing I can say is: finally!

For the record, I have asked about that before, and the fact that there was no back-up has come up before. It's most noticeable when I take whole weeks off.

In addition to finally getting a voice mail back-up, I also answer an e-mail alias for merchants and someone was designated as back-up for that. Now, answering the e-mail requires a bit of diplomacy (just like the phone) and it is sometimes more complex than just hitting the reply button. If we don't "reply to all" the other people on the alias don't know it's been done. Some of these e-mails come in from other departments, so if we only hit "reply" or "reply to all" the original requester does not get the response. My back-up person has not comprehended this.

An e-mail went to the two of us this morning, clearly stating that the e-mail is one of my primary tasks and who the back-up person is for it. A few e-mails came in during the day. I replied to them, and got an e-mail from the back-up stating they were done an hour ago. Of course, not everyone was copied and the fact that I was primary was simply ignored.

I don't mind if this other person takes the task. I don't mind if I keep it. But we need to be on the same page here. I'm the one who looks like an idiot if I go behind someone who should not have done the work in the first place. Adolf promised to clear that up.

Take a simple thing, and someone will turn it into something difficult!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Calcite Crazy

The problem with someone like me going to a place like Luray Caverns is that I love that place. I end up with hundreds of pictures to sort through, each with some wonderful thing about it. Then, I must limit myself to sharing only a handful of those images with you, because I just don't have enough space to share all of them.

This is called dream lake. It is actually stalactites that are reflecting on about half an inch of still water. Quite the optical illusion.

This well-known calcite flowstone formation is known as Titania's Veil.

This bit of translucent drapery formation is part of the Saracen's Tent, said to be the most perfect drapery formation yet discovered.

Here is one of the mechanical hammers that make up the stalacpipe organ. Sound is produced when little hammers gently tap a stalactite, causing it to vibrate and produce a note. It is part of the largest musical instrument in the world.

When the explorers first strolled through the caverns with not much more than a few candle lanterns to light their way, they didn't realize that their path crossed itself several times. This column, named Pluto's Ghost for the Roman god of the underworld, appeared several times on their journey. Walking through the caverns with a much better lighting system, it is still easy to see how those explorers may have thought the ghost of an angry or curious god was following them.

Turtle hadn't been to the caverns in years. We didn't have time to hit the National Firearms Museum like we wanted, but this was the main draw for the day anyway. We learned that the cooler months are the best time to come; tours of twenty or more are reduced to six, and the three gift shops on site are running massive sales. It was a great day, and a great time spent with my friend.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Out We Go

Turtle got here in the afternoon, so we went to the Air and Space Museum that's right over here in Chantilly. The first part was an observation tower where you could watch planes take off and land from Dulles International Airport and hear the communications between pilots and air traffic controllers. It was neat.

The center was set up like a big hangar. In addition to the many cool aircraft, they had missiles on display as well. Like this one:

There was a space hangar too. It had satellites and an R2-D2 mailbox and the first Enterprise.

No outing with Turtle would be complete without a crazy picture of one of us doing something crazy. We weren't sure what this thing was, but this seemed to fit.

They had a Concord and the Spirit of Columbia and the Winnie Mae and the most awesome SR-71 Blackbird.

It was a great way to spend an evening.

Sunday, December 07, 2008


The raid on the attic worked well enough (though, somehow my stocking was not among the plethora of stuff). We'll try to get our tree this weekend.

Today, we have business at the ministry, and hopefully, we'll get home in time to have a nice walk.

Turtle is coming to visit tomorrow. Fun! The plan, which I've yet to run by her completely, is to go to the Air and Space Museum Udvar-Hazy Center, Luray Caverns, and maybe take in the National Firearms Museum. Most of these are pretty local (except Luray), so it should be fun.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

The Possibilities

Since Phoenix has been sick, though she is finally getting some much-needed meds, our plans for today may change.

We are going to have a live Yule tree this year. Miss Luna has never had one, I think she'll be climbing her little heart out. Nevertheless, we're getting a tree. That will likely be next weeks' task.

For today, we were planning on raiding my parent's attic for old decorations that they've long stopped using. My family stopped getting live trees and started going with fake ones for a while. Then, we stopped getting trees altogether. They were pretty, but it was a hassle. It will save us quite a bit of money if we can take what my parents don't use to decorate our tree. Hopefully, Phoenix is still up for doing that today.

The other thing is the Annual Antietam National Battlefield Memorial Illumination. It is quite a moving thing to see acres and acres covered in 23,000 candles for each casualty or the battle. It is a process to go, and Phoenix and I may not be up for it. We'll have to see.

Friday, December 05, 2008


Three years ago, I wrote this post about the retail trend we see this time of year to either embrace or reject any number of winter holidays. It's going to happen every year, I think. There is no end to this debate until people start to accept that their faith is not the only one and they need to not be offended if they hear about another. Freedom of religion does not equal freedom from other religions, nor was it ever meant to.

So, if you are atheist, I would imagine this time of year is quite annoying. You need to accept that it is important to the majority of people around you.

If you are Christian, you need to accept that many of your neighbors are not and they don't hold the same meaning for this time as you.

If you are any number of pagan faiths that celebrate the winter solstice (which, and let's be fair, is the true reason for the season), you need to remember that many people simply don't know and it's not right to punish them for their ignorance.

If you are Jewish, you need to accept that.... You know, I don't think the Jews need to accept their side of things at all. See, Hanukkah often gets overlooked or pushed aside because there are just so many more Christmasers out there. The Jewish holiday is not ignored; it just doesn't get a front seat. I usually see one end cap in a store dedicated to special Hanukkah items. That's progress, but you don't have to accept it. Stand up, Jews, for your very special holiday! Don't let Christmas overpower what really happened on those miraculous nights!

And, if you are not Christian, you need to accept that many people are, and this is a big, important time for them.

Truly, this is an important time for many people, for a variety of reasons. In this wonderful country, we need to be aware of that. We need to not get offended if we hear the word "Christmas," for we all know that Christmas happens around this time. We need to shake our heads sadly when we don't hear references to Yule or Hanukkah. And for goodness sake, we need to accept that some people are tying to cover everyone with "Season's Greetings" and "Happy Holidays" (which often include Thanksgiving and New Year's) and therefore commend them for the effort.

Maybe they should just stick to the day? On December 24th and 25th, it's ok to say Merry Christmas. On December 21st, how about wishing us a Happy Yule or Solstice? Hey, and starting December 21st, you could even wish us a Happy Hanukkah (and don't forget that on the 24th and 25th too). Any day where an actual holiday is not taking place, stick with the generic. It's not an actual holiday after all, it's a day within a season. That's a fair compromise.

I still believe what I said three years ago: that I'd rather hear what is important to you than suffer through you trying to guess what is important to me.

Now, this came up because I read an article this morning about the issue. I'm going to go somewhere else with this, and this is one point that I must say does upset me. An individual from Focus on the Family (a Christian organization) was quoted in this article as saying one of the group's efforts is to make sure retailers are not calling a Christmas tree a holiday tree. Christians, I would really like to know, what in the world does bringing a tree inside your home and decorating it have to do with celebrating the birth of the Christ? Seriously, there was no tree in the manger. Why must you be so adamant that a tradition that was not yours to begin with be slapped with your specific label? If it had significance to your holiday, I could understand it, but it doesn't. If you think it does, give me a Bible reference. The thing that puts the tree practice into the realm of your holiday is a completely unrelated tradition that took place during the time of the winter solstice long before the birth of the Christ was celebrated during that time. By the way, some people still celebrate that tradition, or a revival of it, or something somewhat related to it or based on it. So, shut up about your Christmas tree and give it back to the pagans who started the mess. It's not our fault that converts couldn't let go of it, but it has nothing to do with what you celebrate during this time of year.

That's all for my soapbox today.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

One Set Back

One of our neighbors has a beautiful white cat. She found her way to our door the first time she got out and Phoenix and I just loved her. Her owners were looking for her and we (somewhat reluctantly) sent her home with them. The second time she got out, she found her way to our door again. We once again brought her back home. She was outside again this morning, pathetically mewing because she didn't want to be outside. She was not near the door when I left for work, or I would have brought her in.

We live by a busy roadway and the cat does occasionally venture towards the road. We would be so sad if she met an untimely end because her owners couldn't keep her inside. Remember that fox I saw? It would be very sad if she became dinner. We didn't see her when we got home and can only hope that she is safe with her owners.

The second time she got out (and she's been outside several times since though I haven't seen her, other neighbors have), Phoenix and I declared we would keep her if she came our way again. There are several factors that helped us with that conclusion: the two dangers I've already mentioned, the fact that the cat clearly does not want to be outside because of how she screams when she is, and that only one of the pair of owners seems to care about her at all. The biggest problem with taking on another cat is that she likes to sit in the window. Eventually, she will and people will see her and know we stole someone's cat. Whether they are worthy or capable of caring for her is irrelevant.

I hope she got home. Next time I run into one of the owners, I will be sure to remind them about the dangers of the road and the fox and ask that they be more careful. If I learn she is intentionally let outside, I will have no qualms about keeping her. Unless she's tattooed or microchipped, they couldn't prove it was their cat.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

No Title Today

When thinking about what to write, I couldn't settle on anything. Most of my thoughts went to work: how they have to remind people to dress professionally when important visitors are coming, how new employees get offended when they do something wrong and have to be corrected to the point of quitting like they're children, or the myriad of times that management and peons don't agree as in the case of our old database program and how the new one isn't nearly as user friendly. (Of course, for the last one, management doesn't actually work in the program so of course they're not going to understand how great the old one was.)

Then I thought about the awesome sunset I saw last night over the distant mountains. And how incredibly cute and affectionate my kitty was being when I got home.

I could also talk about how sick poor Phoenix has been, and how she started coughing a little blood and thought she might have developed strep throat. Thankfully, it was negative on the strep test and she came away with some nice antibiotics to get rid of her non-viral bronchitis. That should be good.

Yeah, I guess today was just a hodgepodge of everything.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

What Would You Ask

Alright, pet owners (and other people who might have an opinion), if you moved and had to find a new veterinarian, what sort of questions would you ask a prospective doctor?

Miss Luna isn't due for her shots for another few months or so, so I have some time to find a place. I've heard it's good to have one before it's needed. But, this is all new to me. I've never had to look for a vet before. I've always taken my animals to the same doctor. Even if I hadn't moved, he retired, so I would need to find a new place anyway. I may scoff at doctors for me, but I don't skimp on care for my pets (except for one time when I put off going to the doctor because I hoped the problem would clear up on its own).

So, what would you ask a prospective veterinarian? What would you want to know about a prospective animal clinic?

Monday, December 01, 2008


In the midst of planning something, I found a list of state symbols. Since moving to Virginia, I learned that unakite is unofficially the state stone (Virginia has not adopted a state mineral/rock/stone/gemstone, but many consider it to be unakite, as it is found naturally in the Blue Ridge Mountains). I learned this morning that Maryland has a state gemstone, declared only a few years ago. It is called the Patuxent River Stone, and it is a unique and native agate.

This stone is described as having brilliant reds and yellows and contains bone-like structures. I haven't found any place turning the stones into jewelry or beads yet, but I'll be on the lookout for that. It also makes me wish it was kayaking season again, as I'm ready to scour the rocky landings of the Patuxent to chance finding such a stone. I do plan to go on the Patuxent River sojourn this year. Maybe I can learn more about this rock.

I think I'll always be an Marylander at heart.