Monday, December 7, 2009

And the Walls Came a-Tumbling Down

Walls of jars and cans, that is.

We Preppers have lots of food in cans and jars. Traditional commercial canned goods and food we can ourselves is less expensive than those expensive free-dried food for preps, for one thing, and this way much of our food storage is what we use anyway - thus it gets automatically rotated.

But these things are HEAVY and full of water, unlike dehydrated or freeze dried food. So when the husband and I put together the kitchen pantry unit we added center reinforcement to the shelves that would hold heavy stuff. OTOH, we left the side attachments as they were, little push in plastic crap in pre-drilled holes in the press-board sides.

Well.

Yesterday morning I went into the pantry unit to get something out of it. As I said, this is full of stuff I use daily. The door of the pantry unit wouldn't close. I casually looked - no can were blocking it. Odd. I looked further. Okay, one of the shelves had slid forward a bit and was blocking the door. I figured I could just slid it back....

I pushed - and the little support under that corner of the shelf popped out and skittered across the flood. And the hole it has been in was deformed, as was the little support. In fact, ALL the supports and holes of that shelf and the one above it had that problem. And the sides of the unit were bowed out severely.

The cans, now realizing that with the door open and support in that corner gone, started sliding.....

I grabbed boxes and stared loading cans and jars into the box, starting with the heaviest ones. But as I emptied shelf space the shelves got MORE angled and slidey, I guess as torsion changed and the unit warped differently. More of the stupid mostly useless plastic shelf supports skittered around the floor.

I did rescue all the jars and cans before any died. Then washed the shelves, since that was easy and they were accessible. Then it was off to the hardware store for L shaped brackets.... then the joy of installing them on top an bottom of each shelf, since there is NOTHING I like batter than wielding a heavy drill while flat on my back wearing safety glasses to keep particle board shards out of my eyes ...

Oh, wait - all my husband's #2 drill bits were in BAD shape. I glared at him (at least he was working with me on this) and went back to the hardward store for a 10 pack of them. And every dang #2 drill bit was from China, to boot. Gag. Had to buy 'em anyway.

Back home, back to work. Opened a bar of Lindt milk chocolate (not that IT is American made, either, for that matter). Finally got it all done, but it took forever. Would have been FAR easier doing it at the beginning, no flat on back drilling if we could have put the unit on ITS back, but it's bolted to the wall and other furniture.

How was YOUR weekend?



Frondly, Fern

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Altars, an Alternative View

Pagans, most of you have WAY too much crap on your altars.

It's a table for you to do work on. Keep it clear of extraneous stuff.

Calling quarters? Great! Then there's no need to repeat elemental symbols on your altar.
Using salt water and incense to scribe the circle? Great! THOSE go on the alter.
Have light in the room? Great! No need for a candle.

What about magical tools? If you don't have a reason to handle them, don't have them on your altar - they are symbols and already included in your body. Your mind, your will, your emotions, your body, the fire of life or spirit within you - alread there if you're there.

Constantly having 'symbols of the season'? Feh. You're working 'in a place that is not a place, in a time that is not a time'. And sometime we'll discuss the issues involve with planetary energies - yeah, it's coming on Yule here in the North, but it's coming on Midsummer in the Southern Hemisphere. I consider it more complicated than I want to get into now.

Depending on how you are doing the hoodoo you do, you might want to avoid an altar cloth. Like if you are making Briget's Crosses out of reeds. The altar will be your work surface, and you'll be doing wet messy work.

In the words of Thoreau - Simplify! Simplify! Simplify!

Frondly, Fern

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

New Mammogram Rules

Read a few Tweets about folks saying that the new mammogram rules 'throw women under the bus'. That strikes me as odd.

First - it's not like mammograms are risk -free. It's still ionizing radiation. It still does its part to screw up the body.

Second - the new guidelines still recommend them for at-risk women. Ya know, sort of like their recommendation for PSA screening for prostate cancer .... except for high-risk men they say starting at about 45, not 40.

Third, and to me most important - mammograms are NOT PREVENTION. Mammograms (increased diagnostics) and new drugs/therapies (improved treatments) mask what I'd call the REAL need: REAL PREVENTION. We need research, lots of it, into what causes breast cancer in the first place and then an ability to put that in place.

The focus on diagnosing and treating cancer rather than preventing it is like saying 'we won't worry about immunizing anyone against influenza or pneumonia, we'll just make sure we have lots and lots and lots of hospital bed and respirators'. If we actually get PREVENTION going, we will need less (yes, still some) diagnostics and treatment.



Frondly, Fern

Saturday, November 14, 2009

MomSaga Goes On

So, Mom has decided that home care is too expensive - it's some $900 a month more than her long term care would pay for (no inflation rider in her LTC policy). So starting tomorrow she's trying a month in an apartment in a senior living place. Does it provide enough care? Hell if I know. The rehab nursing home says no, she needs someone by her SIDE 24/7. But this would be abouto $1500 a month. Dunno what that includes. 3 meals? Dunno. Do they make sure she takes her meds? Dunno.

So, tho' I've bought a plane ticket to Chicago, I shouldn't go there at Thanksgiving during her trial month - she'll just want to come home since I'll be there. Tuesday I'll see if I can pay some small amount and change the trip to after Christmas. I'll bet that the fee for changing it will be almost as much as the ticket cost - I cannot afford to get expensive easy to change tickets. I fly Priceline when I fly. And flying is still less expensive than any other way of getting there. And, of course, takes less time as well.

But no one has been keeping me informed on decisions.

Today Mom got out of the rehab place and is in her condo till she goes to senior living tomorrow. She no longer knows WHY she needs senior living or such. Not a good sign.


Frondly, Fern

Friday, November 13, 2009

Spicy!

So, in reading one of the hundred or so blogs I read on occassion (for I sure don't have time to read 100 blogs regularly!) this guy was raving about a chocolate cake a friend of him Mom's had brought over. Turned out it was chocolate cake mix plus a can of canned pumpkin. No eggs, oil, water, buttermilk, whatever.

So I tried that with a very old box of spice cake mix I had in the house. Okay, I have the Spawn, so no cake mix here is REALLY old, but it had been around longer than any other cake mix in the house. So it being 'old' and a boxed mix, I added more spices when I tried this experiment.

My goodness, that cake rocks. AND it's lower fat (but still has way too much sugar) and has more fiber and lots of carotene.

Obviously we're still at the point we're having pumpkin with at least one meal a day. I've only dried 3 of 'em so far, have 7 more to do. But now I have another range of options on what to do with the meat.

Pass the cream cheese frosting, please.

Frondly, Fern

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Post Halloween Pumpkins

Somehow I had the impression that after about November 1 the harvest is supposed to be over and all the food will have been safely stored. It's sure not that way in my house!

Yes, Fronds, I picked up my annual supply of 10 pumpkins. This year a few days after Halloween one of the churches that had been selling them even put a post on Freecycle inviting folks to take them. So far I've only fully processed ONE of them. Half of another will be blanched and put in the dehydrator this evening. I'm getting well and truly tired of hearing the fan of the dehydrator, but I'm never tired of eating.

It was easier to can them, but I just don't have enough jars or room to store them. I had thought that I had 10 dozen jars, but I only have about 100. Which is only about 1/3 of how many I'd LIKE to have.

Next year, Gods willing and if the creek don't rise, I'm going to get some of the leftover 'little pumpkins' that they had, too. No meat for cooking, but they looked like they were incredibly full of seeds! Yum!

Off to cook dinner, then blanch the slices. Laters!


Frondly, Fern

Friday, November 6, 2009

Long Term 'Care' Rantfest

Yes, Fronds, I'm ranting.

Mom's still in the nursing home, getting rehab.

"Everyone" thinks that Mom now needs care 24/7. She has limited eyesight & hearing. She is paranoid and somewhat delusional (she thinks that people come into her condo thru' the walls and steal things). She doesn't feel that folks come in when others are staying with her - I assume because she gets stimulation with companionship so her brain doesn't fill in new things to see and hear. She has muscle weakness which along with her limited eyesight contributes to her falling. She has some level of dementia. This, to them, equals incompetence. This, to me, equals disabilities.

Mom would like companionship after the cousin that has been staying with her goes back to Florida.

The same cousin who wouldn't get her husband the lawyer to help Mom give me Power Of Attorney (either medical or financial) now wants me to make all medical and financial decisions for my mother. Which I can't legally do, because I don't have the bloody POAs. And which is hard for me to do since I am in DC and Mom in is Chicago. And NOW can Mom legally give me POA if she is 'incompetent', or do I have to bloody go to court and PROVE that she is 'incompetent'?

Let me guess - I'm supposed to hide the fact that she's 'incompetent' to get the POAs and then use the 'fact' that she's 'incompetent' to USE the POAs.

But let's add to that issues with Mom's Long Term Health insurance. Which I can't talk to, because I don't have the financial POA - and let's not pretend that insurance is about her medical issues, health, or safety. I need a FINANCIAL POA to get information from them.

The insurer that she has been sending thousands of dollars to for years and years and years is, shall we say, severely financially unsound. So, rather than saving that coverage for when she gets really frail and vulnerable and care is even more expensive, the cousins think we should use it now. The company may die, and, 'let's face it, she's 94, she's not going to live that much longer. In their 90's they go quickly'. This from a cousin whose father lived to 99.

But it IS true that our family members die soon after they go into nursing homes. Is it because they are old, because they are frail, or because they give up (or because of some combination of the above)? They last a month or two, then die of pneumonia.

Anyway, the Long Term Care insurer doesn't accept what any silly doctor, nursing home, social workers, therapists, etc, say a person needs. First, Mom needs a date when she'll be released from the nursing home. Then Mom will need to call them and ask for care, they will set up a phone evaluation of her, then they will send paperwork to the doctor, then a nurse will evaluate her, then they will decide what THEY think she needs. A 30 day process. They can't even tell me what her policy covers, since I don't have a financial POA. Never mind that I'm asking what MEDICAL/CARE coverage that is. So even if I had a medical POA I'd be screwed.

At the end of 30 days, of course, what THEY decide to cover is not guaranteed to be 'what the doctor ordered'.

And the policy only runs 3 years. Not to worry, says cousins, both she and insurer will be dead by then. Let's hear it for the Death Panels!


Frustratedly, Fern

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

And the Prep Goes On.....

Word from a friend who speaks fluent astrology is that the end of July/beginning of August has the worst astrological line up he has ever seen. Not for natural disasters, but for humans doing things to other humans. He advises having food and water for a month on hand.

Well, that I've got, but it kicked me into overdrive on adding more and such.

I'd already started rotating stored water, a bit late mind you, before I heard this from him. And, my stored water supply being scant for a month, I'm enlarging it. I also figure I'll flush and fill the 55 gallon barrel mid-July.

I'm buying the heck out of all produce loss leader specials in the stores and storing them. Apples have been on sale, I've now got two half gallon jars filled with dried apples and 5 quarts of apple sauce canned. I'm drying potatoes and pineapple now. I should go drive over to the churches that had pumpkin patches for Halloween and see if they have leftover pumpkins I can take and dry.

I've been lax about exercising again, doing very little. But at least my tendonitis is clearing up!

Mom wants me to visit ASAP, but I can't do it till after Thanksgiving, and will have to figure out how to afford a plane ticket.

It's all a bit overwhelming, but I'm taking it one day and one task at a time. And I'm getting LOTS done in the mornings, thanks to the time change - I now get up an extra hour before everyone else, since I don't rise with the exterior clock I rise with my interior clock.

Oy, just remembered I have to build two more cold frames AND winterize the house. Well, back to work!

Frondly, Fern

Crisp and Crunchy

Yes, Fronds, the leaves have mostly fallen. They are over ankle deep on the lawn, smothering the grass. But who has time to rake?

Mom's out of the hospital and into rehab at a nursing home. She whines piteously that she wants to go home. I have explained to her that her lack of exercising is what landed her in the hospital/nursing home - which she seems to accept as real. She seems to believe that if I was there to care for her they'd let her go home. I have talked to the Dr, and that is NOT the case. She still needs PT twice a day, so they want her inpatient so she can easily have that, rather than trying to arrange transportation to their facility twice a day. AND she is not strong or steady enough on her feet to be on her own. Which is why she needs PT twice a day, and to walk as much as is possible.

They keep giving me different spins on her kidneys - they are 'monitoring' them, and she has an other appt with the specialist coming up. But then they say that it's not unusual or dangerous, at age 92 and after years of high blood pressure. OTOH what they described as a 'cyst' might be something else, I suppose, as it was for my friend John. He, being young and strong, insisted on more tests and they removed the cyst, finding it to be cancerous. But I digress.

Money is still pretty tight, one client has been turned over to collection agency, another client has a deal where a govt agency pays half - and we're still waiting on the govt to pay it's half of each fortnightly invoice.

Drying foods, canning foods, planting things in cold frame, etc.

Frondly, Fern

Monday, October 19, 2009

Did I say "Chaos"?

One of my life goals is to 'lightly surf the waves of life's chaos'. I can't argue that the way to learn that is the same way one gets to Carnegie Hall - practice, practice, practice.

I don't recall asking for QUITE this much practice.

Mom's in the hospital, after a dizzy spell that she says is different than her previous ones. She may or may not get out today. I'm 750 miles away. I've left a message for her doctor to call me.

Son was driving on automatic and in the rain last Friday and didn't notice the car a bit in front of him slowing to turn left. He avoided hitting it, but skidded off the road. "Into a ditch" is how he reported it to us, a minute later. Well, only the front wheels were off the road, and the car has rear wheel drive. We reassured him, and he backed out and drove home. This was in the 'old' car, the 1992 Buick.

He wasn't driving the 'new' car - the 1999 Ford - because it is again stalling out in wet weather. We don't have the $ to again replace the sensor. And replacing it twice a year doesn't seem to be a great approach.

The past 4 days, really 4.5 days, have been wet and cold, so only the Buick was running reliably. If you consider having to shift into neutral at stop lights reliable (it needs a new transmission). So, with sunny and dry today I had looked forward to having a car myself and being able to get a bunch of prep chores done - buying gas, getting winterizing supplies, etc.

However, last night husband's main development computer stopped booting up. Some problem with password protection, but he doesn't USE password protection. Yes, fronds, Windows at its finest, bringing down a computer that doesn't even use the screwed up function. Oh, 2 or 3 weeks ago I asked husband to back up that computer. Did he? No. Did he take out the hard drive and back it up last night? No. He DID do that this morning.

While he did that, I got the gas, and then ran to the auto supply store (did I mention that the Buick started flashing an idiot light about coolant?) and, since the Dollar Store is next to the auto place, got glass cleaner refill and waxed paper that I needed and they had in stock. Then came home and put stuff away and put coolant into the Buick, just in time for son to drive off in that.

Husband still - and it's now after noon - hasn't left to get the computer repaired. I could have gotten a lot more outside the house chores done if I hadn't been waiting on him. Now, even if I had the car I can't go anywhere - I'm waiting on that call back from my mother's doctor.

I'm getting things done, but not the highest priority things, and not according to MY plans.

Well, enough of this. Time to get back on that surf board before the next wave comes.

Frondly, Fern

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Prep Update

I got a generator at a garage sale - from a previous neighbor, so I know it's been well cared for. Paid $250, it was $500 new, one today would be $800, and the same model is going for $400 on Craig's List.

Certainly I wanted one for a LONG time as part of our preps. But we also have a home-based business, software development and tools and electronics consulting, which grinds to a halt whenever we lose power. We haven't been losing power as often now as we used to, but it will only take 3 billable hours to pay off the generator, 4 if I include gas storage containers and gas.

I'm sure we looked plenty odd, walking/wheeling it home.

It will power the fridge and the lab/office Fridge, like the stove, toaster oven, regular oven, and microwave oven, takes so much power when running that only one of those five items can run at any one time on the 'kitchen' outlets on the generator. I suppose the space heater in the lab can run with most of the electronics - but probably not when trying to print anything out.

So, that's the good news.

In bad news, the budget crunch in my state and county means that they are reducing staffing at the fire department - our local station is going to have pretty random times of being unstaffed, or MAYBE staffed only be volunteers. Clearly that means longer response times, and almost certainly homeowners insurance rates going up.

Other news - just that I'm planning on drying apples this week, and maybe hard squash.


Frondly, Fern

Saturday, October 10, 2009

You Never Write, You Never Call

Any other neopagans of Jewish origin, or other folks familiar with borscht belt humor, will recognize that line as 'typical Jewish Mother/Grandmother". In THIS case it's a message from ALL you ancestors. They've notice that not many neopagans here in the US have ancestor altars.

I suppose that they are more common among us Ethnic Traditionalists, Revivalists, and Reconstructionists, but even for us they are not universal.

Sure, it's getting to be Samhain here in the US now, so lots of us are doing SOMETHING this month to note at least one ancestor. But in many cases it might only be a quick offering while on your way out to a Halloween party or after a ritual that is focused on divination.

Back in the day - you know, where all neopagans say that their roots are? - ancestors were acknowledged on a very regular basis. Maybe there were daily prayers and offerings, as Luisah Teish says was/in done in African-Caribbean traditions, but at the very least folks had an ancestors altar going and there was SOME regular schedule of attention. Even totem poles have more to do with family history/ancestors than our modern idea of 'personal totems' (oh, cool, ANOTHER idea for a future blog post!)

I freely admit that the altar set up I have is much influenced by my time in Ar nDraiocht Fein Druid Fellowship (www.adf.org) which I joined around 1992. I have 3 altars 'up' all the time. One is for Nature Spirits/Land, one for Ancestors/Sea (Celtic dead tend to be on islands on/in/of the Western Sea, except when the go to the Top of the World), and one for Gods/Sky I don't leave offerings or work with all parts of the triads daily, although I know I'd make 'better' spiritual progress if I did, but I do work with them all 'regularly'.

The ancestors' altar, an 19 inch square wood top of a stereo speaker plus the wall space around it, is simple. When I had more room the space over it had a LARGE graphic of my family tree, now I just have a few pictures and an African carving on the wall (I work with the ancestor back to Mother Africa), an offering plate, a candlestick and candle. Simplicity means less things to dust.

With this as a permanent set up, I have made it easy for myself to stop by the altar, light the candle, leave an offering, give them an update, and listen for their voices.

Perhaps this is the key to ALL things we do, spiritual, emotional, material, intellectual, etc - make it easy for yourself to do the work. Don't put obstacles in your way YOURSELF. Smooth the path that leads to Best Practices. Yeah, it's a lesson I'm still learning - most obstacles I run into are still self-inflicted. But I covered THAT back in Chaos Theory.

Bottom line: Call your Grandparents. They are waiting eagerly to hear from you, and tell you the stories of your collective past that have shaped your today, and continue to shape the future.


Frondly, Fern

Friday, October 9, 2009

Chaos Theory

As some of you know, I'm pretty active on Twitter. The 140 character nature of tweets is great when I only have a few minutes at a time during the working day, night, weekend .... well, my whole life.

On Twitter I follow over 500 people, picked semi-randomly. Most have some connection to survivalism/prepping, or pagan/wicca/witch issues, or guns, or environmental issues. Some I follow because they are members or staff of Stompernet, some I follow because they are locals. Some I follow because they are long time friends. Some I've followed almost at random. I'm not at all sure how I started to follow @ChicaJones, for instance, but I'm sure glad that I do.

I like the people I follow, even while I know that some amount of what we ALL post on Twitter, like all we do online, and in life) is a persona we affect.

It's like a far more intimate form of people-watching, for they add their own comments about t heir lives and what's happening in their world. For some their world is very intimate, for some it extends to all people/animals/the ends of the earth.

Sometimes I regret folling a person. Not because their tweets angered me or shocked me - anger is an instructive friend of mine, and I don't particulary shock easily. Not over politics - I comfortably follow folks on the far left, the far right, and all inbetween.

I unfollow because of how they handle chaos.

Chaos happens to all of us. Sudden thunderstorms wash out picnics. People forget that they were supposed to call us at a certain time. Children get sick or act ... like children. Sometimes we run our lives in ways that increases the chaos. We intend to pay bills, but don't manage to (even when we have money) and the phone is turned off. Some folks have repeated failed relationships with the same type of person, over and over. For whatever reasons, chaos happens.

I've noticed that I cannot emotionallyhandle watching people who feel that chaos is inflicted on them PERSONALLY by the world/others. The person who says she wants to be a writer, and planned to edit 11 short stories last month, but in fact only wrote 3 and edited none. Who is sure that it's the fault of all those around her for not supporting her, helping her, not being reliable. Who spends her free time tweeting at pop stars, playing Sims, napping, or vegging out when her toddler naps, is down for the night, or at her father's.

Or the man who takes someone messing up his name personally, or thinks that someone forgetting to cal him is practically 'enemy action' (enemy inaction????)

Not surprisingly, I find that I value Tweople who handle chaos well, who do NOT take it personally, who work hard, play hard, and surf the waves of life lightly.

Chaos Theory is a branch of mathematics which studies the behavior of certain dynamical systems that may be highly sensitive to initial conditions.

I think it's also a description of human function. Or, to quote the Magical Aphorism:"As above, so below - as the universe so the soul. AS WITHIN, SO WITHOUT." (Emphasis mine, duh).


Frondly, Fern

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Prepping for Samhain

Samhain is coming to the northern hemisphere! Diminished and celebrated as Halloween by non-pagans, for many neopagans it’s one of the most important holy days of the year. Or not of the year, since technically it’s the day between the end of one year and the beginning of the next. At any rate, it’s the day when the veil between this world and the other worlds is known to be thin, and so we honor our dead ancestors.

Like all important events, getting the full spiritual experience of Samhain is easier if you do some preparation. And the more preparation you do, the better/fuller/more intense the experience.

So, Samhain being a Celtic based holy day, and the Celts being into triads, I posit that a great approach to Samhain is to take 9 days, a triad of triads, to prepare. What preparations to do on those 9 days? Take each day to open a dialog between yourself and one group of ancestors.

Day 1 – physical ancestors that you knew who have passed over. Those whose familial genes you carry. If adopted, add the family that made you one of their own.

Day 2 – physical/adoptive ancestors that you didn’t know who have passed over. They could well come forth at Samhain wit messages for you.

Day 3 – those who you knew that influenced you as you grew up who have passed over. Neighbors, pre-college school teachers, friends and their parents, clergy, etc.

Day 4 – Those who influenced your mind who have passed over. Authors, thinkers, statesmen, etc

Day 5 – those who influenced your spiritual path, who you knew and have passed over. Clergy, individuals, speakers, etc.

Day 6 – those who influenced your spiritual path but you did not know, and have passed over. Writers, tradition starters, those who you have learned about whose lives you try to emulate, etc.

Day 7 – Nature Spirits – because not only the ancestors might show up with messages at Samhain.

Day 8 – The Gods and Goddesses – again, because not only the ancestors might show up at your Samhain ritual.

Day 9 – Your Higher Self/Holy Guardian Angel/Spirit Guide/Patron Divinity – Well, you KNOW this one’s going to be there with you!

But, I hear someone asking, what do you DO on each of those days? Well, I’m not one for big Witchy set up. Make them a small offering – a tablespoon of barley maybe. Announce your intention – that you are because Samhain is coming, and you are there to open yourself to their inspiration. If it’s a day for folks you knew in life, maybe update them. Then listen. Take about 5 to 15 minutes. Then thank them, say you’re looking forward to anything they wish to tell you at Samhain. Leave the offering until the next day if you can. They will take whatever spiritual essence they want from it.

Now, don’t be surprised if one of the things you are told, either during one of these sessions or on Samhain, is that you should be honoring them more than once a year. But we’ll discuss Ancestor Altars some other day!

Frondly, Fern

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Using Ouija Boards

Blessings, Fronds!

Most forms of divination fall into one of two broad categories:

1. attempting to visually see future events (crystal balls, scrying, etc.) , or
2. interpreting symbols pertaining to the future (tarot, tea leaves, runes, etc).

In these forms of divination contact with the “Beyond” is mediated and indirect. With cards, bibliomancy, ogham staves, rune stones, etc. the contact is mediated by having to come thru’ your Higher Self/guide/whathaveyou and then guiding you to pull whatever card, land on whatever page with your hand, and further mediated by your interpretation. Inspiration to pull the card, not moving your hand and picking the card for you, and inspiration to help you interpret what you see or the symbols you pull, not spelling things out for you.

Ouija boards, on the other hand, are a different category – it’s far more direct contact with Some Thing Out There. Some thing that has enough access to you to communicate in the language you read and write in. Some thing that you are inviting into your room and allowing to move things around. But, seriously, moving things around is less a problem than it getting into your head enough to pick up the English language.

When using a ouija board, you use the board/planchette as a communication gateway to ‘Beyond’. Whether whatever you contact is moving the planchette or moving your hands on it, the being is there with you in the space. And at the very least it listens to your questions … or, if you expect it to answer unstated questions, the being has to access your mind. You throw open a gate, and invite Whatever Is Out There in to chat with you.

While ALL spiritual and magical activity increases your visibility on The Other Side, opening a gate and loudly announcing that you ready for visitors is similar to using Craig’s List to announce you are throwing a party Saturday night and including your address for everyone in the area to come. In short – it’s not the best approach to using this tool.

Some folks I’ve talked to have said “oh, I’ll be fine, I’m doing this in a magical circle”. Consecrated circles are great for many things – this is not one of them. They CAN keep things out – but they are using this WITHIN the circle, inviting Whoever INTO the circle. An open gate in a circle, you inviting What Ever in, makes the circle useless.

Some I’ve talked to have said “If your intent is pure, you need fear nothing”. I will note that those folks still avoid certain parts of town especially after dark, still lock their doors, and still have life/health/homeowners/car insurance. As above so below, folks. INTENDING to pay a bill is not the same as PAYING one. Magic, all types, is dangerous stuff, the stuff of change and transformation. Magic is about responsibility. This is not a time to slack on that.

Some have said to keep a talisman with you. They did not say a talisman aimed at what. Protection from something you’ve invited? Nor did they give any ideas on how to make one. “Just an idea”.

So, what am I saying? Not to use a ouija board? No, not really. I’m saying that you should treat it like the gateway that it is. Respect what you are doing.

Ward it.

Call upon some gatekeeping deity that you already work with (remember my “Intimacy with the Gods” blog post?) and ask that God/dess to guard the gate, letting only beings who will help you and tell you the truth through. Since you’re working with a Divinity that you know well, after you make the request you should be able to tell the change in energy when S/He arrives to ward. Then go ahead and use the board.

Now, not only do you have protection actually in place, you have some hope of getting the truth told to you. For, just asking some Being off the street for answers, how would you know if they were telling you the truth or messing with you? You wouldn’t even know it’s name, let alone be in a position to compel the truth. Even in this case you probably won’t get the full truth. You might get only part of the truth because of some agenda the spirit you’re talking to has, or because the gatekeeper has a reason to keep some things from you, or for other reasons.

By the way, there is some kicking information on divination at www.cantrap.net. You might want to check out the site, for many great things.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Proving the Laws of Thermodynamics

As all y'all know, there are three laws of thermodynamics. They are:
1. Conservation of energy - or, you can't win.
2. Entropy - You can't even break even.
3. You can only lose (technically, it has to do with cooling an item to absolute zero)

Well, this is one of those periods where I am the embodiment of those laws. Spawn has hourly exams at college, husband is sick and needy, housework and business needs and pet and other life needs continue. I'm racing around doing everything I can, but still falling farther and farther behind.

And it's not helped when I make mistakes that take time, energy, and cash to correct.

And every attempt to correct one problem leads to a tangle of problems that turn out to be intertwined. Like what happened when I just wanted to make some tea.

I filled the kettle (oh, the plastic bits on the kettle that cause it to whistle and that pull the whistling part back when I want to pour the hot water out have broken) with water and go to put it on the burner. It dawns on me that the burner has been flaky lately, so rather than start heating the water I take the electric burner out, and see that the connectors are somewhat corroded. Husband goes off to file the corrosion off, I remove the back burner of the same size to put IT in and make my tea, but find its connections need work, too. Husband works on that as well.

Meanwhile, the refector pan under the burner is terribly dirty. I don't want to consider how many pots of whatever have boiled over and burnt on to it - well, on to the aluminum foil I have covering the rusty, corroded reflector pan. I figure I'll take off the foil, wash the reflector, re-line it, and it will be happy and reflective again.

Turns out that there was so much fatty gunk on it that I had to spend a lot of time and energy scraping the foil off of it, and a lot more time washing the gunk off the refector. Then had to towel dry it, then air dry it to prevent MORE corrosion. Then, finally, cover it with aluminum foil (shiny side showing), put the reflector in place, put the newly filed burner in place, put the kettle of water on the burner, and heat it for tea.

Normally the reflectors would have had routine maintainance/cleaning, and even if the burner connectors had needed work it wouldn't have lead to the mare's nest of issues. But once I start getting behind, entropy gets a firm grip on EVERYTHING, intertwines the problems, and anything I try to do takes more time and effort than is typical .... and more time and effort than I allowed for in my plans for the day.

So, while I have three loads of laundry to fold, I can't do that until I remove the hair that the cats have left on the couches, so that when I put the folded laundry on the couches they won't get covered with that lint. If I don't vacuum soon then sick husband will be woken when I do the vacuuming and I'm pretty sure he won't be pleasant about having been woken up.

So, I'm off again, back to work. Laters!


Frondly, Fern

Monday, September 28, 2009

Grande For the Garden

While I try to find a time to make a video on 'breaking new garden ground, the easy way' - I need a time when I'm functional, the wind isn't blowing too hard, and the spawn is available for FlipCam work - I've been changing the garden from summer to winter state.

Tomatoes have been retired, and a kicking green tomato salsa made. I still need to disinfect all tomato related acoutrements (stakes, string) to reduce risk of late blight next year.

Basil has been retired, pesto frozen in cubes, and 2 final quarts of leaves are in the dehydrator even as I type.

Garlic has been planted, early for once.

And I'm working on adding mulch and such to my beds. Much of the mulch is the 'regular' compost from the compost heap. But I'm kicking up the mulch (and the compost heap) this year with caffeine. That is, I'm adding used coffee grounds as fast as I can.

Now, we don't drink huge amounts of coffee here. Only about 6 cups a day. So I have to turn to an outside source for used coffee grounds. Obviously, that means Starbucks. They are happy to give away their used grounds, by the bag full. Well, the one nearest me wants me to bring in my own bucket, but they aren't the busiest Starbucks. The one in town center just hands us bags of them. I'm having the Spawn go there nearly every day as he drives home from college. He also passes a few others on his way home from school, but I figure one bag a day is enough for me to handle. I don't want them piling up during rainy periods or anything.

So far I've added a bit to the compost heap (in the newest cut grass, destined for use next spring), worked it into the bed the garlic is in, top dressed the turnips, and spread it over the bed I'm putting cabbage in (I'm late in planting that) and put some in the bed I'll be using for the cold frame. I'll need to dig them into the last two beds really soon so I can get planting under way. Then I'll add them to the flower beds/blueberries/roses in front, the old potato bed, the pepper beds, and Gods willing and if the creek don't rise, lots more in the compost heap. All that before winter sets in.

That's actually more than I'll probably end up doing, but I like to plan grande .... uh .... grand projects.


Frondly, Fern

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Real vs Americanized Food

Heya, Fronds!

I've decided that it's time to expand the number of Chinese cooking sauces that I can make ... from 'one' to 'more than one'. Tonight I will expand to a home made sweet and sour sauce so we can have sweet and sour fried pork wontons. Since it will be a main course instead of the appetizer it was meant to be I'm increasing the paltry amount of green pepper, tomato, and pineapple chunks in the dish twofold. Especially since the peppers and tomatoes are from the garden, and the can of pineapple has twice what I need.

Coincidentally, several of the folks I follow on Twitter have mentioned eating at P. J. Chang's, a "Chinese Bistro", lately. So last night I printed their menu. Pretty basic Chinese, some with French words added (WTF????) and jacked-up prices. Whatever.

Husband looked at the menu and opined that it probably appeals to the same folks who like the Macaroni Grill or Carrabba's for pasta - folks who have never been exposed to anything but American versions of Chinese or Italian food. That might be. We like one Italian place not too far from us (I'm sure that there are many REAL Italian places in Baltimore itself!) and one Italian restaurant in Phoenix, where the three of us usually split a 5 course meal.

Well, I have to decide if I'm going to open a jar of cherries for the wontons. The dish calls for about 6, which seems silly to open a can for. But then I'd get to eat the rest of the cherries!


Frondly, Fern

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Liver - it's for lunch.

I suppose most of my potential readers have fled at the title.

But, c'mon - if we're going to kill for food (animals OR plants) we need to honor and not waste ANY of the food bits. And I have to admit that I don't hate liver. My husband hates liver - at least livers not from birds. Chicken livers he LOVES, when made into rumaki (wrap it in bacon, batter it, and deep fry it). My son hates liver.

But SOMEONE had to take the liver when a bunch of us split a steer, so I volunteered. Marta volunteered to take the heart. I think that folks with dogs took the other entrails.

So today I'm doing a Filipino dish of liver with tomatoes, onions, and red peppers. The veggies are from my garden. The liver is from a steer pasture raised.

My timer went off - time to eat!


Frondly, Fern

Monday, August 31, 2009

Fans Are My Friends

So are air conditioners.

I've spent the last few weeks with more hotflashes than I've had in YEARS. I had my first hot flash maybe 8 years ago, but they had fallen off my radar for the past couple of years. While I had a hysterectomy two years back, I had the doctor leave the ovaries behind.

I planned on a nice, gentle continued slide down the hormonal mountain. The past few weeks have NOT been nice or gentle. I'm not sweating thru' my clothes or sheets or anything, but I'm spending lots of time red and flushed. Like taking niacin for high cholesterol but without the itchiness/skin irritation. [Note - I am NOT taking my niacin for my cholestrol/triglycerides for a while, I don't need the hot flashes compounded!]

Of course all this started during a heat/humidity attack here in the swamp that Washington DC is. Today is cool, and the humidity is low - but the hot flashes go on. They are just less compounded by the weather.

When I was having hot flashes a few years ago I considered spending the winter sleeping in a tent in the back yard, and figured that if there was snow it would all melt back at least 3 feet from the tent. This time I'm considering simply not heating the house in the winter, and using my body as an alternative and green source of heat.

Think I can sell the husband and spawn on that idea?

Frondly, Fern

Monday, August 17, 2009

Freezer Prep

My 'big' freezer - a freestanding, NOT frost-free, 14.7 cubic foot one that we bought in 1979 - is rapidly running out of food. Normally I'd be filling it at this time of year. It would have pretty technicolor bags of fruits and veggies multiplying rapidly.

Not this year.

Part of it is the money crunch - I simply can't afford to stock up on fruits this year. But as much of it is that I've changed my focus from freezing what I store to canning what I store. Canning is harder and more time consuming, but having the veggies canned means I don't need to worry about losing power and thus losing the food.

We used to lose power all the time. The first year we lived in this area we lost power 8 times in the first year, usually for 2 hours at a time. Sometimes the cause was clear - a car accident took down power lines, a power surge from lightning blew a transformer, etc. Sometimes it was NOT clear. And then there were the longer outages ... we here, east of Washington, DC, get hit by the remnants of hurricanes. Floyd took out power for a week. Isabel took out power for most of a week. But 3 weeks before Isabel a thunderstorm took out power for longer than Isabel did!

I became very good at tracking down dry ice.

I also decided to rely less on my freezer, at least for things my family is happy to eat canned. They have not been gracious about the idea of canned meats so far.

Since I still have meat in the freezer - less since we've been eating down our stocks rather than maintaining them lately - I still have to prep the freezer for outages. Besides, freezers work most efficiently when pretty full. So along with the 'bones that will become stock' collection that IS still growing the freezer (I'll make stock after the weather cools!), I'm filling the freezer with ice cubes. That way there's lots of ice in the house if power goes and if it doesn't, we can just use the ice in drinks - my husband is DEEPLY into ice in his drinks.

When Isabel was still way out in the Atlantic, and already a category 5 hurricane with a projected track aimed at us, I didn't have a freezer full of ice. So I started making ice as fast as my freezer would do it. I had learned THAT much from the thunder storm induced power outage a few weeks earlier! And we really were ready for that storm. Not that I turned down the dry ice from the power company, mind you.

What natural 'issues', if not disasters, hit your area regularly? What preps have you taken to be ready for them? Suz - if you lose power, how will you water the horses? Miss Nic will get VERY pissy if she gets thirsty!

Frondly, Fern

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Food costs

Blessings, Fronds!

I'm trying to figure out why my food budget is so frakkin' high. Well, I KNOW why it's high - too much spent on meat and some spend on soda pop. But I can't figure a way to get the rest of the family on board in reducing those items.

Here's the basic summer weekly spending, excluding things I don't buy weekly (like beer, wine, flour, sugar, etc)

$12.00 milk - 4 gallons
4.50 soda (4 2 liter bottles)
7.50 one loaf bread at farmer's market, one pkg buns, one cheap loaf bread
15.00 produce
3.00 oj
20.00 meat
6.00 eggs (free range organic, 2 dozen

That's already $68, and I'd LIKE to only spend $80 a week. Doesn't include cereal, staples, etc. To keep family happy would take $100 a week. And there's only 3 adult humans and two cats!

Son would be willing to drink more v-8 fusion instead of cola, but that costs even more. Husband wants 'some' cola in the house - which means son will drink it. Bread costs are lower in winter, when we can't get great bread at farmer's market, same with eggs.

I have to find a way to get them on board. Like, having one meal a week without meat? Cutting back on soda? Great bread every OTHER week?

Dramatic Sigh.

Frondly, Fern

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Peach Season!

UNGERS FARM HAS RIPE PEACHES!!!!!

This is on of the most important days of the year - the day I hit the farmer's market and the Ungers have fresh peaches. Oh, I suppose they might have had them last week when I was out of town, but c'mon - this blog is all about Fern (sorry, Suz).

The Ungers grow the most amazing fruits and veggies. Great flavor, lovely stuff. Cherries, beans, plums, green beans, peppers, are all wonderful. But their PEACHES are amazing beyond words. I bought two boxes (10 peaches) of seconds, which came to about $1.25 a pound. Yes, about 25 cents a pound more than grocery store sale price peaches. But these are from the UNGERS - we are all blown away by the flavor, and the heck with the tiny cosmetic flaws!

Being broke I didn't buy enough for us to each eat one a day, let alone enough for me to bake with or can. Might do some canning later, if $ allows. But I have 4 jars of peaches left from last year .... no, I HAD 4 jars left from last year. I only have 2 jars now. For I just made peach cobbler out of two of the surviving cans. And my husband is so happy with it that I might have to make more this week. Or make a cobbler of the canned cherries.

Life is sweet.

Frondly, Fern




Saturday, August 8, 2009

Envy vs Astonisment

I'm back! I was on vacation, visiting my Mother in the Chicago suburbs for a week, then staying with my mother in law for a few days in South Bend, Indiana. We (the spawn and I) drove, so South Bend was on the way home, and my husband went there after the conference HE was at to visit as well.

I come from a BIG family. Not my nuclear family, where I was an only child, but my mother was one of 8 kids, my father was one of 6, both of Mom's parents were one of 6 .... and most of the extended family lived in Chicago. So when I visit I visit with lots of relatives, mostly the daughters of my mother's sisters but some of the others as well.

I don't seem to live like the rest of the family. Even aside from religion, since my side of the family is all Jewish and I'm pagan. But I clean my own house, make my own food, deal with my own yard (well, the spawn is mowing as I type but I get credit for nagging him and not hiring a lawn service), etc.

Now, I indulged while in Chicago - it was a vacation my mother was paying for, sort of. (Paying for in that she didn't want to cook, didn't want ME to cook, so we ate out a lot. And, bless her, she paid for the Museum of Science and Industry for me, the spawn, and a cousin's granddaughter that I took along. THAT was pricy - $16 to park, $78 for tickets to get in and see the Harry Potter exhibit for 3 'adults'.) We swam in the pool in her condo complex, we visited folks, I made my mother actually do the walking she claims she does daily, etc.

But I'm not ashamed to share a restaurant meal with my son or my mother, and they aren't comfortable with doing things like that in public. I don't join clubs to play bridge or mah jong or such to fill my time - I don't have free time to fill! I certainly don't buy clothes and then get tired of them so give them away (to my mother or to charities) soon after. I notice when my cars need maintainance or make funny noises and deal with the problems, tho' 'dealing with' usually means having someone else fix the problem I've identified. I rarely eat out. I don't get my nails done. I don't drink half a jug of wine a day. I can't imagine getting worked up because I wanted to go to another city for my 3 year old grandchild's birthday party .... honestly, I'd probably try to avoid a 3 year old's birthday party, not spend $700 traveling.

But am I feeling envy or astonishment over our lifestyle differences? Don't get me wrong, I'd LOVE to have more money and have the option of living without financial worries. But I don't THINK that I'd make the same choices that they make. I just don't LIKE to shop for clothes, for instance. I don't LIKE to spend hours a week playing cards/D&D/mah jong/WoW/whatever. They don't recycle. I'm pretty dang green. We're just SO bloody different!

We were all raised by the same generation of women, tho' I'm about 15 years younger than they are, and during my life time lived close to each other or even with each other.

It was just a 'WTF' visit, I guess.

Frondly, Fern

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Tomato Attack!

Warfare is going on in my tomato patch. And on my computer, as I try to figure out how to upload videos! I HOPE to soon have the text to the video added to the post, for my fronds who are hearing impaired.


video

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Strawberry in the Jello

Kay's death reminded me that, back in the day, a friend and I had a conversation about reincarnation on a yahoo group. Here's my main contributions to that conversation. Well, it was really a discussion of 'what service initiation actually provides', but most of the conversation was about what it provides the soul/spirit after death...

Re: Initiation as a Public Service?

--- In paganpath@yahoogroups.com, Daimon2@... wrote:
>
>>> So my first two questions are:
>
> 1. What do people think happens after death, both to initiates and
> non-initiates?<<

Dang Imps and their Questions! I don't 'know'. The Celtic
Reconstructionist part of me says we all reincarnate - that makes us
Celts brave in battle, a 'screw you and the horse you rode in on'
attitude towards death. It isn't seen as the end of anything except
pain.

However, if you look at reincarnation as a form of recycling: a tree
dies, rots, the atoms/compounds feed other trees. The 'same' tree
does not reincarnate, its atoms spread out to many other trees.
Perhaps the 'atoms' of the soul flow back into the Great Unincarnated
and mix with all the others there. Then a cup full of 'atoms' from
the greater mix get poured into one incarnation or another.

Or perhaps that is what happens to the 'common' soul - it ends up 'in
common', as one, with the rest. Initiation might act as a unifying
power on the soul, holding it together to act as one, not as if it
has 'individual atoms' or 'quantum units of power' in it. An
initiated soul would still get poured into the common mix, but hold
together in it - a strawberry in the jello of soul atoms! - and go
intact into a next incarnation.

>>> 2. How long do you think a soul lingers prior to reincarnation
if
> reincarnation occurs, or is it in a non-temporal state so that it
doesn't matter?<<

Dunno. I don't think it's immediate. I think that there is
some 'aging' or 'resting' done between incarnations, but can't back
my view up with anything.

>
>>> My third question is then, supposing existence is a roulette
game, and non-initiates cease to exist, or the material of their souls are
recycled into new souls prior to reincarnating, would it then be a public service to
provide as many open opportunities for people to become initiates of the
mysteries, what would be the ways to do this, and what ethical and spiritual
questions would it raise? <<


Who said incarnation is a good thing? We Westerners, who have
oppressed others effectively enough to be the top 1% of the worlds
population, who have enough to eat, homes, computer access, clothes,
are VERY happy to reincarnate. But out East, the Hindus and
Buddhists feel that incarnating SUCKS. That we are CONDEMNED to be
bound to the Wheel of Rebirth. Their whole bloody GOAL is non-
existance, in a way. Nirvana/Samsara is opting OUT of the game.

Initiation, if it lead to reincarnation instead of oblivion, would be
the ultimate self inflicted injury. Initiators would be seen as
enslaving souls.

So there.

Fern

Death in the Family

Cenn Ruahd/Kathryn "Kay" Donaldson long of Mugwort Grove of Ar nDraiocht Fein Druid Fellowship, passed out of this life in the early hours of this morning. By her stubborn insistance, no one was there.

She had been fighting cancer for about 20 years. She was a knitter - heck, she was THE knitter.

She was my friend.

I will miss her.

Grieving, Fern

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Chaos Multiplied!

Blessings, Darlings!

Have you ever spent a year being in trance or meditation EXACTLY WHEN the moon moves into specific phases? Especially when it becomes Full and when it becomes Dark? And I DO mean "Dark" - the 13 hours before the "new" moon silver is visible.

Most of us magick workers are familiar with the Waxing Moon energy (which starts 13 hours into the 'new' moon) - growth, beginnings, planning, etc. We're familiar with the warmth, blessings, sustaining energy of the Full Moon. We clean house, pay bills, let go of things during the waning moon's darkening nights. But then there's the Dark Moon ...

Dark moon energy is ... sometimes a vortex .... sometimes a roller coaster ... never what you expect. It's a time when you can more easily get to know your Shadow Side, when you an end up face to face with parts of yourself you had hoped to deny. It takes you into your deep dark depths. Especially if that's not where you want to go. I see it as the time of the moon's cycle when you're most likely to have a spontaneous initiatory experience, and it will be one of the types where you are taken apart and re-integrated by your own 'demons'.

It's humbling. People tend to go into the Dark Moon expecting that they will surf the tsunami, but the thing about the Dark Moon is that NO ONE does. ALL get swept away by it.

This coming Dark Moon there will ALSO be a solar eclipse. So, instead of 'just' the Chaos of the Dark Moon, it will be magnified by the Chaos of Solar Eclipse. Wild Times.

Now, I've been around the block a few times. First spell in 1968 (one of Z Budapest's, gotten from a newspaper!), first Goddess experience around then. I still do not plan to do magic during Dark Moons or Eclipses, because I don't fool myself that I can control or harness the energies. I'll scry during them - I find the veils thin then. I'll do workings where I learn more about myself, especially my shadow self.

If an emergency arises, such as a family member in an accident or heart attack, sure, I'll do what I can. But most likely it will be prayers to a God or Goddess that I'm already tight with, not magick where I am going to pretend to be able to shape the energy. I'm not saying that if I did magick during a solar eclipse that I'd have some "monkey's Paw" result, or grow a second head or anything. But I'm sure that the results would not be what I anticipated - they would be off on some totally unanticipated tangent and the unintended result would be HUGE. Probably bigger than the Crone working that resulted in great intended results ... and a liver infection that made me so ill I barely left my bed for 2 months. And that was for an INTERNAL working.

I know of folks planning to do Big Ass Magick To End Oppression in Iran during the solar eclipse. What unintended consequences might come from that? Israel bombing the Iranian nuke plant? Dirty bombs in some cities somewhere?

Chaos trumps wimpy ass-covering statements of 'good intentions' such as "for the good of all". For the LONG TERM good of all might well be served by the world human population dropping to 10% of what it now is.

I am certainly arrogant. But I'm not THAT arrogant that I think I can manipulate the energy of the solar eclipse for magick, especially world-influencing magick, and be able to 'handle' any unintended consequences.

Frondly, Fern

Friday, July 17, 2009

Fern's First Flame!

I feel a rant coming on.

I'm no kid, as most of y'all know - over 50, been politically involved for over 30 years now, worked doing domestic violence and rape counseling for over 10 years, run my own business (soon to be busineses) etc. I've been around the block a few times and have political, social, and economic bona fides.

So when folks do 'calls for action' on, say, Twitter, I want to know EXACTLY what they want done. "Support those protesting the #IranElection fraud" is a prime example. Let's review - I've been involved in women's rights, freedom from sexual assault, freedom from domestic violence, active in groups in the US that fought apartheid in South Africa, was asking the US govt. and people to impose sanctions on the Taliban govt of Afghanistan for AGES before the US went in there after Bin Laden, etc. So if someone tries to tell me "Call on the West to take action!", I ask exactly what action do they want the West to take? I've not gotten an answer yet on that, other than I'm supposed to join Amnesty International (as if I've not been a member since the 70's?). The people sort of say that they want Reporters Without Borders to document what's going on, and AI to do that as well.

But when asked if they want sanctions and deinvestment - silence. No response. Oh, wait, there was THIS tweet "witchygoddess10 @Fernwise And I cannot support any nation that feels it has the entitlement to rape women and abuse people. If you don't agree, that's fine."

Gosh, that because I asked 'exactly what do you want 'the West' to do'? Snort. BTW, witchygoddess10 - just because you delete a tweet doesn't mean it goes away - it may be out of your personal time line, but they still show up on Search ... as do the replies. At least for 3 weeks, not sure if any of the search engines will have it after that.

Yes, I know what effects sanctions had on Iraq when imposed by the GWBush administration. I also saw what sanctions - and more importantly deinvestment - did to promote change in South Africa. OTOH, South Africa now has the highest rate of rape in the world. I'm not saying that sanctions will necessarily work in the case of Iran, anyway - in South Africa those working for change were branded 'commies' by the PTB there, so the PTB weren't about to trade or accept other aid from the USSR or China. Iran DOES get aid/support from Russia, and I don't see Russia joining in sanctions and deinvestment.

I expect that when folks tweet wanting others to take action that they are taking action, have a game plan, have SPECIFIC ACTIONS that they want SPECIFIC GROUPS to do. Merely joining AI or whatever isn't specific. Recording abuses is fine, but what will simply recording them do?

Maybe the movie "Gandhi" made it seem like the press spreading word about British govt abuses in India made the Brits move out. Very dramatic for a movie. Not exactly accurate. What got the Brits out was that they had to put all resources they could into rebuilding their island nation after WWII and couldn't support an army in India. Heck, with all the resources that were also going into rebuilding mainland Europe, the British people were on SHORTER rations AFTER the war than DURING the war (US food stocks weren't just feeding them any more, but feeding much of the mainland as well).

But even if you think that publicizing abuses had an impact on the British govt - the Brit govt had to face more real elections, so if the British people objected to what they were doing in India they'd have faced being thrown out of office. The Iranian people ALREADY know the score, they ALREADY voted for moderate change. How does the rest of the world knowing affect that govt? Yes, if ALL nations imposed sanctions, if MOST countries/companies deinvested, that would do it - but, again, their main trading partners are NOT about to do that, even with abuses publicized.

The only way change is going to come to Iran is with the people continuing to be ungovernable. Will more people die? Yes.

Kind of like how the US revolution went, eh? How did the rest of the world help the US revolution? The main sacred stories we have on that are about individuals coming over and fighting with us. Marquis de Lafayette did, among others. Yes, France put in a naval blockade - mostly because they wanted British territory in Canada and in Asia and the naval involvement was part of THAT strategy.

Now, it could be that donating to the Red Crescent might bring medical aid to the protesters - I have no idea (RC isn't mentioning that on their web site!). That might be directly useful, or it might not. I have no info on how corrupt or not the RC is there. I stopped donating to the Red Cross in the US ages ago.

But, ANYONE who calls ANYONE to vague action ought to EXPECT to be asked what SPECIFIC action they want taken. And they ought to actually have a logical answer.

I'm just sayin' .....

Forcibly, Fern

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Smith & Wesson Protection Spell ™

Blessings, Fronds!

Keeping one’s home and person safe is a basic part of both Pagan and Survivalist living. Because we want to KEEP living as well as we can, and as long as we can with high-quality.

The Smith & Wesson Protection Spell ™ helps do just that. Now, given that I live in a state with no Concealed Carry I can only use this as a protection spell for my home and my family while we are IN our home. Y’all in states with CC can expand the protection accordingly, as long as you have your CC permit.

The working parts of this spell are about acquiring, getting adept with, and anointing your magical tools – your firearm, cleaning kit, bullets. For parts of this spell you will need teachers, if you do not already know how gun safety, loading, cleaning, and accurate shooting. Getting that training is part of your spellworking. It is part of the energy you are using to infuse the spell and make protection manifest in your life.

Your first step is to buy a gun. Go to a gun shop with a wide selection of models to choose from AND A GUN RANGE if you can find one. If the gun shop does not have a range, then ask them where you can go to test fire an assortment of guns to see what fits your hand, doesn’t overwhelm you with the kick, etc.

While the title of this spell is Smith & Wesson Protection Spell ™, don’t feel that you must be limited to a Smith & Wesson, or to a handgun. Kelly over there uses a Beretta. You may choose a shotgun for household use. It’s all good.

So, you’ve decided on a gun. Go thru’ all the appropriate paperwork, get the appropriate license, etc. Buy the gun. Buy what you need to clean and gun and keep it in good shape. Have the store employees show you how to clean it and keep it in shape if you can. If not, back to the gun range for that, and/or find a local National Rifle Association (NRA) group for help. Buy ammo. Lots of it. Because, especially if you’re not an experienced shooter, you’re going to need it.

Take your gun, ammo, cleaning supplies. Head to the gun/NRA range. Get trained in gun safety, accurate shooting, reloading, and appropriate cleaning. Figure on spending a full moon cycle training at the range regularly. You won’t be an expert shot at the end of that time, but you SHOULD be able to safely handle the gun and care for it by the end of that time. Also, the repeated use and cleaning of the gun over the month cleanses it of all previous people who have touched it and helps bind it to your energy.

Now you have the tools and experience you need to consecrate your new Magical Tool for Protective Work.

Surely you already know how to consecrate a magical tool? Oh, okay….

At home, take the gun, cleaning supplies, salted water, incense (and censor), matches and sit at a table you can work on. Visualize a blue protective bubble of light around you. Charge (end focused energy into) the water. Light the incense. If you oil parts of the gun charge the oil, too. Thoroughly clean and prep the gun, focusing increasing the safety of your home and self.

Touch the salted water, and touch the gun, saying “By earth and by water, I dedicate this gun to protect my self, my family, my home. So Mote it be!”. Wave the gun thru’ the incense smoke, saying “By fire and air, I dedicate this gun to protect my self, my family, my home. So Mote it be!”. Ask any God or Goddess you work with (assuming you’re not working with Quan Yin or such) to bless the gun as a tool for your protection. Visualize protective energy from the Divine Ones filling the gun, then flowing out of the gun into your blue circle, filling the bubble. Now expand that bubble, so it surrounds your entire home. See the protective energy surrounding your home. Hold the vision, then let the vision fade – the protection remains.

You will need to reinforce this spell with regular shooting practice, and by keeping the gun in a safe but ACCESSIBLE place in your home – and by being willing and able to use it as need arises.





Frondly, Fern

Monday, July 13, 2009

Auto-Immune Epidemic

What the heck IS it with so many folks now being affected by auto-immune disease? Type 1 diabetes, much of heart disease and high blood pressure, lupus, Multiple sclerosis, the list goes on and on and on. Now a friend's 3 year old with Kawasaki disease.

The healing arts used to be about helping kickstart the immune system - even leeches were about removing things 'that stood in the way of the body healing itself' by sucking the nasties out. Immunizations were next, training antibodies. Then antibiotics, to stop bacteria from reproducing so the body had time to beat them into submission. And the biggest gains in public health came from enforced sanitation laws combined with refrigeration and appropriate use of food preservatives.

But while we weren't looking the game changed. I suppose that the fundamental rules of the game are the same, but we are seeing a new facet of it. And I've not seen the Pagan community's healers address it at all - not that I'm up on all that's going on everywhere, mind you.

But I remember during the beginning of the Zoo Flu that everyone was quoting Susun Weed, and talking about tonics to help fight it. Never mind that what tends to kill in the flu is cytokine storms - the immune system going into overdrive and destroying the lungs. What we needed - and still need - to discuss is how to CALM the immune system so it responds in ways that don't kill us.

The extent of my knowledge of THAT is pitifully small. Ginger and turmeric are spices that help calm the immune system; Mediation may help reduce inflamatory response; and I suspect that chakra BALANCING (not 'turning them up') would be useful but I'm guessing on that. That's not much knowledge, and no useful treatment in it, just generalities.

Crap.


Frondly, Fern

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Drought or No Drought?

Being sluggish this morning I'm disinclined to look up the definition of 'drought'. My garden says we are having one. The statistics in the newspaper say that we are far from a drought, having had VERY much rain in May and June.

"VERY much rain in May and June" means we had gullywashers - short, hard, intense rains that mostly ran off in to gutters and streams and into the Chesapeake bay. Not long, slow, soaking summer rain that brought moisture 10 or more inches into the earth. Did my rain barrels get filled? Yes.

But the effects of that rain on my veggies was short-lived. And, of course, I've planted more veggies since then, and they are not yet deeply rooted. So I've used up all my rain barrel water already. This coming week I'll need to use city water at least on the beans and turnips, maybe on the tomatoes as well. I'll use grey water from doing dishes for part of it, but I know that I'll have to use 'virgin treated tap water' for some of it.

Dramatic sigh. Officially a drought or not, my garden needs added water or it will die. In MY life, that qualifies as a drought.

Frondly, Fern

Friday, July 10, 2009

Magic Menu and Casting Cupboard

Blessings, Fronds!

One of the many recommendations on how to learn magic is to do magic every day. I remember reading that, getting all enthused, and jumping in. Immediately. And with in a few days failing. Miserably.

Why?

I blamed myself for a lack of will power, or even lack of Will. Now I only blame myself for youth and ignorance.

What's the Key? The Magical Menu

My problem wasn't in the concept, it was in approaching it as if, well, as if I could approach it on a day-by-day way. Instead, I've learned that kitchen or other witchery has to be approached just like menu planning and execution in a well-run kitchen.

Plan your work, then work your plan

That means plan in advance. Enthused over doing some magic each day? Great! Want to start today? Well, okay, if you're talking about a visualization you send energy to. But you're probably not going to want to do just visualize and pump energy magic every day.

So, plan a week or two worth of spell work in advance. Sure, leave room for emergency magic as needed - that's a different topic. Get the list together. Now, go over each spell and figure out what items you're going to need for each spell. How many candles, what color. Incense? What scent? Going to make it yourself? How much time will that take? What ingredient will you need? Are any of the spells best at certain times of year, moon, day? Figure that in. Will you need oils? Will you need altar clothes in certain colors? Will you want to wear certain colors for the ritual or the rest of the day?

Lay it ALL out, in detail. Make lists.

Now, check your supplies. What are you missing? Okay, can you get that stuff locally anywhere? Will you be able to get to that store in the next few days? Will you have to order some of the supplies online?

Now that you have a two-week plan that you can do, get thes supplies and step in. AND during the first week, make your next two week list and start working on what you need for that - this may be when you do spells you had to order supplies for.

CASTING CUPBOARD

Of course, having ingredients around for spur of the moment or emergecy spellcasting is something I recommend. The Prep/Survivalist posts here aren't just for THAT community! Here are things I keep around all the time:

Candles: In the late fall, I get several boxes of Hanuka candles at the grocery store when they are on sale. They are usually good for every standard color except brown, grey, and black, and burn about 20 minutes. I also stock up on Jewish memorial candles in their glass cups when they are on sale - those burn 24+ hours.

I also have a few tall glass enclosed candles from the Latin American aisle of the grocer, in a few colors, and a few black,grey, and brown candles so I'm covered for colors.

Candle sticks/holders: Mostly bought at garage sales, and supplimented by the used glass candle jars as they get used.

Oils: Really, I just use peanut oil and work in whatever herbs I want for any use.

Herbs/Spices/roots/resins: I mostly use kitchen herbs and spices, but I have a LOT for cooking. Allspice thru' turmeric. But I also keep around some myrhh, frankincense, sandlewood.

Charcoal to burn herbs/incense on: This I usually buy several packages of a year, if I can't get the husband to buy it for me as a Yule present.

Altar Cloths: If I wasn't trying to Buy American, I'd just order a dozen multicolored bandanas from Oriental Trading Company. Instead I get end pieces of material from sewing supply stores or good parts of old clothes. But a scarf or two will do.

Incense Burner: Sea shell w/ sand in it will hold charcoal. Shot glass w/ sand will support joss sticks.

Matches: Duh.

Those are all you'll need for most workings. Sure, you will probably build up a larger cupboard over time. Acorns, pine cones, dried flowers, rocks, sea salt, whatever. But with the basics in place you can pull off pretty much any NEEDED magic or any EMERGENCY magic with relative ease.

Frondly, Fern

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

What Is the Sound of One Hand Typing?

I'm experiencing a bout of tendonitis in my left forearm. Since I've been trying to ignore it for the past couple of weeks and awkwardly favoring that tendon ... the result has been that it has not improved but I HAVE developed tendonitis in my wrist and shoulder from using them oddly.

Clearly, this is not acceptable. Now the arm is in a sling and I'm taking regular doses of anti-inflamatories. In a few weeks I should be fine.

This gives me a new way to rehearse my preparedness skills! Clearly, being able to simply grab a sling out of the first age backpack was a good thing. But I also get to practice general Life Skills one handed.

It has made it clear that there are some things I can do one handed, and some I can't. Wash dishes? Yeah, awkward tho' it is. Lift cast iron dutch oven full of food into and out of the oven? Nope. Not one handed. Hanging laundry isn't going really well, either - I've temporarily given up on clothes pins. Ironing has become very slow. I've punted getting ice cubes out of ice cube trays. And I'm not driving a standard shift car.

But, what would, say, a broken arm do to me in a survival situation? How would I cut or split wood? Use a wheelbarrow to move manure to the garden? Work the manure into the garden? How would I quickly reload any gun, or use a shotgun or rifle?

Hmmm. No answers here. Just questions ... typed slowly.

frondly, Fern

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Going-ons and On-Goings

Blessings, Fronds!

Sorry about the lack of posts - I may have to accept that over the summer I'll just be posting particularly sporatically. But let me tell you why ...

IN THE GARDEN

The spawn sort of hoed and weeded the older beds. I got the sweet peppers in (late) and started the first planting of beans (on time). The beans have not sprouted. At all. The exceptionally cute baby bunnies, who have worked hard at eating my parsley and salvia to the ground insist that they are NOT to blame for this (they say that they prefer them with the first tender real leaves before they eat them). So I should be planting more beans today. This planting was planned as the second bed. Oh well. The onions there are thriving, as are 4 of the 5 sweet peppers. I think my son mowed the 5th pepper, but I've not pressed him on that point.

The flowers by the front door are still not totally planted. Mostly because it has been too wet to plant them. We have had incredible rain this month! Oh - I have a new rain barrel, but haven't set it up with the downspouts yet.

Out in the back yard's new veggie bed I finally staked the tomatoes. They are coming along very nicely, especially the Roma's. The parsley is SLOWLY coming back - I have staked the 'body' of a milk jug around each of them to deter baby bunnies. I worry that I'm not harvesting the basil fast enough to stop it from bolting. Onions are lagging there.

I've harvested lambsquarters two times to serve as dinner veggies. The husband finds it a bit bitter, but LOVED it when I steamed it and added a cream sauce. Even if the 'cream sauce' was just a can of cream of mushroom soup!

FAMILY BUSINESS

Huband still working on getting new web site up. Main customer still down, no replacement. Should e-mail distributor today to see how month's product sales are going. Will eventually put a link to the NEW web site up here, but our current web site is so miserable I don't want to link it. I'm sure all of you want to buy USB HID and TCP programming products, but you'll just have to wait. Okay, if you insist on buying them, let me know. Or if you need Windows programming, or USB HID peripheral programming.

I'M STARTING A BUSINESS!!!!

I've been training to become a Mastermind group leader (Dr. Ben Mack's Carnegie Mastermind group construct). The first group starts tomorrow night, one hour weekly, by phone or computer. I'm looking to start groups on a whole variety of topics, including but probably not limited to: survival gardening, food storage, food storage cooking, divination/scrying, Wizard Tag, Intimacy with the Divine, Thaumaturgical magic, creating sacred space, and Business Skills for Pagans. All of this will be explained in more detail here and on .....

MY NEW WEB SITE

Far be it from me to let my husband have all the new web site fun. Yes, I'm finally building a full web site. I just installed Joomla on Sunday, and have been working on adding one article a day. I need to figure out buttons today, as well as adding a new article and getting a clue on how to do squeeze/registration pages.

THE REST OF LIFE

On top of all that, clothes still need to be washed, meals cooked and cleaned up after, the house needs cleaning, and the Solstice was this last weekend. Not that I made it to the ritual - the car died AGAIN, after $1K work of work on it. I spent the afternoon in a parking lot about 5 miles from the park we were meeting at, waiting for my husband's help.

So, that's what's up here. I'm not commenting on Iran, or the train crash here in DC yesterday, or any deep philosophical stuff at this point. But maybe someday I'll explain that in terms of Celtic Reconstructionism - in an odd way it makes sense.

Frondly, Fern

Monday, June 15, 2009

Frenzied Fern

Blessings, Fronds!

I'm way behind in my blogging, because there's so much to do in the 'real' world off-line. I've been planting more veggies, I discovered a bee hive in my compost heap while trying to get compost for said garden, husband's and my home business has has issues including but not limited to the main development computer's hard drive going bad, I'm working on a line of Mastermind groups I want to give, and I need to get a real web site up (which means husband and I spend quality time debating the relative merits of WordPress vs Joomla.)

Meanwhile, I still have the Mastermind training classes I'm in, the regular business training classes, meals have to be put on the table, clothes have to be washed, spawn has to be nagged to do lawn and clean bathrooms and I've lost his shopping slavery because he's working with husband to re-install all the software on the new hard drive while husband works on content for the main home business web site.

AND
On top of all that, and the expected drop in income, and the extra expenses for computer and car repairs - at our current main client, another very small company, the head engineer is out with a life threatening heart problem. Which is messing up HIS life, his family's life, their business's income, and thus OUR income even more than it was before.

SO
While I should be using this blog to plug the Mastermind groups starting now, instead mostly there's going to be silence and short posts. Because I'm busy hanging laundry, baking break, learning Wordpress, creating web sites and web site content, and finding new and different weeds - er - wild plants to eat.

Tomorrow night is Dolmades for Dinner - greek stuffed grapes leaves. I ain't paying for the grape leaves, and the filling is mostly rice (storage food) and mint (herb garden supplied). Tonight's dinner is lamb stew (3rd meal from leg of lamb, lots of potatoes that were on GREAT sale last week) in home-made bread bowls. All leftover lamb is going to go into soup for lunches this week.

Frondly, Fern

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

WOOT!

My "Suffering Is Optional" post got favorable mention at Flea' "Blog Carnival"!

http://beasurvivor.blogspot.com/2009/06/blog-carnival-time.html

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Suffering Is Optional.

Blessings, Fronds!

As I reported earlier, we are having 'cash flow issues'. No fear of eviction or other dire consequences, but we are having to watch every penny.

However, we're not suffering. Not even whining a whole lot.

WHY IS THAT?
Many factors go into that. First, of course, is attitude.

Attitude towards money
We are not afraid of having little money. We are not appalled by having little money. We are not defined by how much money we have.

Money is a form of energy, just like coal, food, and knowledge are forms of energy. We all can use them. Some folks get used by them.

Attitude towards the future
Certainly our attitude that this 'tight' time will pass helps. But optimism that what we are doing now is building a better future only one aspect of our attitude towards the future.

More important is my attitude that shit storms happen, so be ready for them. Be ready to handle those hard times, from whatever causes, when they occur. I have a one year supply of food on hand, amassed (some bought, some grown and preserved) while money was less tight and the foods were on sale. I know we will not starve, pretty much no matter what. We have savings which we are using to pay bills (which is why we aren't facing eviction or anything).

Our attitude means that if we were facing a natural disaster or such now and stores were closed or trucks couldn't get thru' (as in ice storms, floods, hurricanes, whatever) we'd be fine on our own.

It didn't take some huge amount of money to become prepared, either. "Seconds" from the farmers market make fine canned or dried fruits and veggies. Rice, quinoa, etc are less expensive when bought in 50 pound sacks than one or two pound bags. My flour is homeground - the wheat and corn are from feed stores.

Green attitude
Being 'green' has helped us prepare, as well as helping us live less expensively in general. We have the clothes we need for home and business ... most bought used. I don't bleach things often (just whites on very rare occassions) so all our clothes last longer.

Self-reliant attitude
Somewhat related to the 'shit storms happen' attitude is our feeling that we need to be able to rely on ourselves for all things we possibly can. Oh, I admit I will never be able to do heart surgery. But I can do my own cooking, grow some of my own food even now in a rented house in a suburb that doesn't allow livestock (except bunnies), I can repair my own clothes, etc. I can keep myself healthy so I don't need to visit doctors or need antibiotics or heart surgery.


After attitude come other factors.....

Practice
We've been thru' hard financial times before. When my husband was in graduate school and I was an undergrad (we both had worked for years before returning to school) we were eating on $16 a week. Shopping sales for everything is habit. Making soup from scratch not cans is habit. Line drying clothes is habit.

Practice leads to having skills. I'm over 50 - I've learned to cook. Actually, I did that WAY back when, but I do keep improving.

Enjoying Life
There is no need or advantage to being miserable when money is tight. I'd say that the opposite is true. Making yourself miserable is miserable.

So, since my tax dollars are paying for them anyway, I take advantage of free concerts given in my area (my city sponsors some - using my tax dollars; many of the bands are Military - using my tax dollars). We hang out in public parks picnicing. We hike on public lands. When we had time, we camped in municipal/state/national parks.

So....

My poor person's breakfast today was a one egg omlette filled with the spicy greens (from the wild lambsquarters, as you recall) left over from last night's dinner, and a home made english muffin.

Our poor person's lunch will be the WONDERFUL soup I made from the last of the frozen tomatoes and yellow squash from last year's garden, some leftover green beans, and some of that bulk quinoa (which is a complete protein), and some stock I made from bones saved from cheap beef and whole chickens.

Is that suffering? Nope. I refuse to suffer.

Frondly, Fern

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Summer Kitchen

Hi Fronds!


It's pretty much summer here. Temperature got up to a toasty 89 degrees today, and the humidity is currently at 83%.

I do not find this comfortable. I never DID find heat and humidity comfortable, so I can't blame it on me being a woman of a certain age. Therefore, one of my main goals is keeping the house cool.

But how to do this when I cook darn near everything from scratch? Like the soup and the corn bread I made today?

This is where having a summer kitchen comes in - cooking away from the main house, so you don't add heat to where you don't want it.

BACK IN THE DAY

Having a summer kitchen goes way back. It was standard for mansions back when the USA started. A trip to Mt. Vernon (which is a great place to visit for SO many reasons!) includes a tour of the detached kitchen there. That kitchen features a covered walkway to the house. Mine is not that fancy.

My kitchen appears under the maple tree out back. The shade is good there, even if the breeze is sometimes blocked by a neighbor's fence.


The standard parts of the kitchen are one aluminum folding table, one comfortable chair, the rocket stove, the BBQ grill/smoker, the hay box cooker, an extension cord, and any electric appliance I may need. Maybe the toaster oven. Maybe a one burner electric hotplate. I may have the day's ingredients out there in a cooler, too.


And, of course, a cold drink is part of the set up. Maybe an entire pitcher of cold drinks.


Benefits Of Summer Kitchen Cooking


The official benefit, of course, is having cooked food and not heating the house. But being outside is a benefit in general. (I'm thinking of going an entire week of outdoor living sometime soon, coming in only to hit the washroom, but that pagan and survivalist experiment will wait until later - I can still work out there on the laptop, at least.)


And the back yard comes with it's own floor show! Well, floor might not be the best word - birds are all around, the world's fattest squirrel thinks s/he owns the yard, the chipmunks are alway fun, and once we had a huge possum come sniffing around.


Our previous house also had the chickens a neighbor family kept for a few years, and their occassionally escaping bunny, several visiting cats, and a much smaller possum.


If the mosquitos get bad this year, I'm considing adding a screen house that I picked up at a garage sale to the kitchen set up. I certainly will use that if I spend a week outside camping.


Come away with me, darlings, to the Great Suburban Outdoors!



Frondly, Fern