Thursday, December 23, 2010

Mom Watch, Solstice Edition

Mom apparently fell.  She doesn't remember falling, but after being okay last Friday, by Saturday she was disoriented and complained of neck pain, and her usually neat apartment was a mess.  Monday (!) a cousin took her to the ER, and she has two broken bones in her neck.  They tried a halo brace, but that increased her anxiety and blood pressure, they had to remove it.  She's now back in her apt, with a 24/7 companion and a stiff neck brace.  They will do another MRI in 3 weeks.

Why no family who saw her stepped in before Monday is not clear.  Why the staff, who help her with her meds daily, didn't notice there was a problem is not clear.

I'm not happy, but have no money to go back and work on things.  She can't handle the stairs living here, even if she and I could survive living in the same place.  Which we can't.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Moving On

Blessings, Darlings!

So, we've been in the new place, and out of the old place, for about 6 weeks now.  I'm still unpacking boxes.  So far this morning it was "okay, found the tortilla press, but what I'm actually looking for is the pasta maker....".

It cost more to move than we had figured, due to our not figuring out how to streamline that till the very end.  And it took longer to move and get the lab set up than we had planned, so income was interrupted longer.  Nothing really surprising there.

And the expenses of registering cars in the new state (and getting them fixed up to get past inspection), getting the business registered in the new state, getting new drivers licenses, etc.  At least the cost of car insurance dropped!  But, boy, first estimates on health insurance are staggering.

Thus it's another lean Yule for us.  We bought a 12 inch tree at Goodwill for $1.59, a bunch of used books for gifts, some chocolate.  Food budget is at $80 a week.  We're fine tuning the heating in the house - which vents to leave open, which closed, what hours to have the heat up to 66 vs 60 or 55 degrees.

Nothing really unusual there, either.

But every morning we watch the sun rise over the Blue Ridge Mountains, which is a wonderful thing.  I can watch the cows on a nearby farm.  The deer that will be eating my garden in the summer wander across the yard now.

It's all good.  Okay, it's mostly good, except that the Chubby Hubby isn't sleeping because he's worried about all the financial stuff again.

Frondly, Fern

Friday, November 12, 2010

Moving, Continued

Blessings, Darlings!

This is the move that will never end.  We're still  moving.  We were supposed to be out Monday - 4 days ago. 

Part of the delay was a dead truck - the alternator had to be rebuilt in our driveway.  Part of it is that we have a home business with delicate lab equipment that takes lots of bubble wrap packing - and we are doing all this ourselves.  Three people means it takes lots of time.

We THINK the inside of the house will be empty but not cleaned by the end of today.  But we'll still have to empty the shed, pack the stuff in it, then dismantle and pack the shed. 

We're just moving things off the truck and into the garage at this end at this point.

But at dawn this morning I watched Momma Deer and her spawn come up from the woods and walk across the neighbor's lawn - made me hungry for venison just looking at them!  And the Blue Ridge Mountains are lovely any time of day.  AND we see real stars, lots of them, and Bob saw a shooting star the other night.

Frondly, Fern

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Moving, Day 2

Blessings, Darlings!

This is a long-ass post, because I'm having long-ass days.

Yes, I know I didn't blog about Moving Day 1. I'm combining it here.

You know how they say that battle plans last only until the battle begins? So, too, for moving plans. 

The Chubby Hubby had this aggressive plan on which rooms we'd move each day, what time we'd leave by, etc.  The CH lives in a fantasy world.

I figured we'd leave to get the truck by 8:30, be home with it before 10:00. Uh, no. We didn't leave till 9:30 because CH wasn't ready.  But we got there and I discovered that we could have gotten there at 7:30, a fact the CH hadn't told me.  Fine, we're now running late.  I have to be at the house by 2 because cable guy is coming between 2 and 5, and the electrician is coming at 4 - but the husband plans to be there WELL before 4, with the loaded truck, to meet the electrician.

So problem 1 - we ran late.

Problem 2 - as we drove to get the truck, the battery light lit up in the car.  The car I was going to leave out in at noon, to drive to the country.  Where I know there are places on the road which have no cell phone coverage (middle of the Potomac river bridge is just one place).  So after the CH heads off in the truck for home, I drive the car to the mechanic - the one we give so much business to that we call him our Corporate Partner (this is what happens when you are keeping older cars on the road), and explain the problem.  And that the Check Engine light is on as well, because the engine is running too lean.   I asked him to look at things and give us a call, giving him the CH's cell  number.  Spawn picks me up from there and we meet CH at home.

I call Comcast to verify that the cable guy is coming.  It takes 20 minutes to get thru' to a human and do this.  Husband was on the phone with someone else during all this, I've forgotten who or why. I run out to get rope and a lock for the truck.

Time to load truck.  Well, it turned out that spawn had packed about 20% of his room and the pantry, rather than the 80% I had assumed he had packed.  What had he been doing over those days?  I have NO idea.  I had the library fully packed, and the living room and my office 80% packed before running out of room to put the full boxes.

Notice that CH hadn't packed a thing? That the office/laboratory/business hadn't been packed at all? Sigh.

I help load the truck as fast as I could from 11:30 till noon, when I had to leave. Very little was on truck.  But I leave two men in charge.  No problem, right?

I get to the house early, so I take a side trip to find out where the Aldi's is.  Success!  I even find a faster route than the obvious one back from the Aldi's.  Get to the house a little before 2.

And I wait.  I clip coupons. I plug in the laptop (I brought it and a small TV so I could be damn sure cable and internet worked before cable guy left), and listen to music. And I go online thru' an unsecured ethernet connection someone in the area has, to see what's on sale at Rite Aid and Food Lion.  I also have lunch.

I wait more.  Around 4 the cable guy arrives, I explain what we want, he marvels at the kluges others have put in for cable wiring.  He gets to work.

Husband calls - they are running late.  They leave the house around 3:30, for a two hour drive. Electrician is due at 4.  He tells me what he wants done.  Fine.

Cable guy keeps working. I keep waiting. At 4 CH calls - ooops he forgot he can't take a truck on the parkway. He's taking Rt 1 instead.  Will be later than his already late estimate.  Whatever.

Electrician gets there at 5 ish.  We go over what is needed.  He'll report it to the business owner, I'll report to husband, they'll talk tomorrow about the estimate.

Husband gets there around 6.  Cable guy is just finishing up, I'm signing the finished work order.  Husband and son haven't had lunch yet.  I offer food, husband wants to unpack truck while there is light.

We start unpacking. One bookcase promptly falls apart.  It gets dark.  I send the guys in to nuke some dinner.  Spawn makes his in oven instead, takes 45 minutes.  He does little unloading during his wait.  I unload and unload and then nuke some dinner for me.  We finish unloading a bit before 9, leave out around 9. 

I take a seriously needed shower, and several ibuprofens. 

That, my dears, was day 1.  About 1/2 of planned objectives met.

Day two begins.  I do dishes. I start packing, since now I have room to put full boxes again.  Get my office and the living room to 90% done. 

The guys slowly start packing.  Then they break to vote and pick up repaired car.  The one no one called us to give us an estimate or approve work on.  Which now has a rebuilt alternator, and a bill of $600.  They return.

I head out to vote and hit the store for more prepared meals, and a veggie tray, and OJ, and to fill the car.  Come back and pack and make boxes for CH.  It takes CH 16 boxes to pack his first bookcase.  We start loading truck.  My knee - the one with torn cartiledge and arthritis - soon tells me that I can't do the stairs a whole lot.  I go back to packing.

Husband's schedule says that the library, my office, the living room, and the kitchen will all be done being moved by end of day.  It is 3:35 right now - I've barely started packing the kitchen.  We are consistently making 1/2 of the estimated progress each day.

But we're at least at 100% of painkiller.

I must get packing and lifting and loading. 

Frondly, Fern

CPT #13 Marinade Beef

Blessings, Darlings!

While we're on beefiness here, let's talk about our American love of grilling.

It's dangerous.

Yes, getting your sear on adds flavor and complexity to the flavor of meat.  But it raises the carcinogens (HCAs, or heterocyclic amines) on the meat a whole lot.

What to do?  Boil everything?


Going to grill meat?  Okay, Marinade it first.  That can reduce the amount of HCA's by up to 88%.  AND adds flavor. Win-win, if you ask me.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Museum Eating

Blessings, Darlings!

I'm not here to talk about food-court food or that type of mall.  I'm talking about the food in and around the Mall in DC.

When we first got to DC, the museums and food stands of the Mall were not exactly a 'food destination'.  Boring and tasteless, with very few healthy options, or vegetarian options, or fresh foods.  Case in point was the National Air and Space Museum.  They had a cafeteria, but could not cook food there.  The volatiles given off by cooking would harm the exhibits.  So there, and I believe in ALL the museums, the food had to be cooked off-site and sent in by conveyor belt, sort of kept warm.  The cheeseburgers were to die from, not for.

Best of the lot was a little restaurant on the ground floor of the National Gallery of Art, West, the Garden Cafe.  It was very pleasant, quite overpriced, but had food that was nice.  Second to that was the ice cream parlor in the American History Museum - great ice cream, AWFUL service.

That has changed over time.  Not that I think that the fast food places that have been moved into the Air &  Space Museum are worth the calories or my money - but at least they are cooking it on site with appropriate ventilation.

But now there are some OUTSTANDING places to eat.  The Cascade Cafe, in the basement between the National Galleries, is wonderful cafeteria, with good sushi and other foods, outstanding desserts, etc.  One of my favorite is bookstores there as well.

And, oh my Gods, the cafeteria of the National Museum of the American Indian!  The Mitsitam Cafe features foods of the Americas.  Amazing food. Pricey food, but worth it. 

Frondly, Fern

CPT #12 Grass is Good

Blessings, Darlings!

I'm talking about grass fed organic beef, my dears.  What did you THINK I was talking about? 

Pastured organic beef - well, really, beef without growth hormones specifically - lowers the chances of early puberty especially in our daughters.  Which lowers their risk of breast cancer.

Frondly, Fern

Sunday, October 31, 2010

CPT #11 Exercise

Blessings, Darlings!

How many times have you heard/read it - "Moderate exercise is good for you "? Well, this is another one of those times!

Half an hour a day (average) of moderate exercise (bike riding, brisk walking, serious dancing, etc.) reduces the incidence of intestinal, endometrial, colon, breast and lung cancers.

Why, you ask? Let me tell you - apparently because moderate exercise kicks up the immune system.  A well-tuned immune system, running along efficiently, does a better job of recognizing rogue cells that turn cancerous before they can become tumors.  Maybe, if it turns out that viruses are involved in more cancers than we know about, a top-notch immune system destroys them before they can do their dirty work. Maybe it's some other mechanism that we'll find out about in the future.

For now, the recommendation I can give is to move a little more.  I'm trying to get my Mother In Law to walk around the local indoor shopping mall. I'm suggesting that my mother take stairs and not the elevator. Both my Mother and Mother-in-law are in their 90's, so 'moderate exercise' for them is WAY different than 'moderate exercise' for me. The main point is - get off your butt!

Frondly, Fern

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Rally Ho!

Blessings, Darlings!

The Spawn and I went to the Rally For Sanity today.  I took the day off of packing to go.  He took the day off of pretending to pack, leaving the task of pretending to pack to his father. (I left the Chubby Hubby with 25 empty but put-together boxes to fill.  It is now 8 pm - 8 of them are filled. This is his first day packing.  I've packed roughly 150 boxes so far all by my little lonesome.  We start loading the truck on Monday.  HELP)

As  usual, we left later than we planned - at just after 10 am instead of at 9:30, which WAS my fault.  CH drove us to the New Carrollton Metro station - there are advantages to living in the DC area.  Instead of taking either of the exits most folks take to the station, we took the second one from Rt 50 West, rather than the first one (to the Beltway and the Metro) or the exit from the Beltway.

We did good.  Yes, we had to make a left into the station, and wait for the light to change.  HOWEVER, the traffic from those other two exits was really heavy and merged into one lane.  And that one lane was backed up as far as we could see it.  I don't know if it was backed up on the beltway, too, or not - it had not been backed up on Rt 50.

The Spawn hops out of the car as soon as we turn into the Metro, I'm driving so the CH and I kiss and switch drivers where it's legal to.  I start looking for the end of the line and/or my son.  The line is long - from the farecard machines out of the building, down to the parking structures to the left.... thru' one garage, outside the garage back to the front - that's where my son is.  I join him. By the time we get half way thru' the line we joined, the line was 33% longer.

It took us an hour to get on a train. Where we sat for a while.  Because the Mall area was too crowded with trains for ours to start out - they were backed up in the stations.  The train fills, totally.  The doors close, and the driver warns us that she HAS to stop at all the stations and open the doors at all the stations.  We laugh. The people waiting at the stations we stop at look at the train, we see them mouthing "No WAY!".

Actually, at the first stop, the Landover station, while there WERE people waiting for the train, the parking lots were empty-ish and there were no lines for tickets.  The people there should have gotten on a train heading for New Carrollton and NOT gotten off, just sat there as the New Carrollton people got on.  It would have worked out GREAT for them.

We got to the mall by 12:30. No, we got NEAR the mall then.  We tried to get to the Mall many different ways.  3rd street was hopeless.  7th little better.  We stopped for lunch. Back to 7th.  After working our way thru' the crowd for 30 minutes we found a place where we could get glimpses of the Jumbotron, but couldn't hear.  Did that for a while. I THINK Sam Waterson was on the screen, but  I'm too short to have seen more than glimpses.  Later, we worked our way to a place where we could hear some but not see at all.  There we caught Yusef Islam, Ozzy Osborne, and the O'Jays. But we still couldn't make out anyone speaking. 

Mind you, we were still having a great time in the crowd, reading signs, watching street theater. 

So we hung out.  After a while, we went for more food.  We cut out before the end, since it was clear that trains going home would be as problematic as trains getting there.

Since we've lived in the DC area since 1988, we've been on the Mall for lots of events.  But we have NEVER faced such lines at the metro, or such crowds on the Mall.  Granted, mostly we've done inaugurations, where I'd bring a radio since I knew I'd not be able to hear but could count on the event being livecast for free.  But even for Clinton's first inauguration the crowds weren't that thick.  Frankly at that time the Spawn was only 5 and I'd have panicked trying to handle a crowd that thick with him. 

I don't know how much of the Mall was covered with people - that's one problem with being IN the crowd. But if it went down to 14th Street, as JoeMyGod says it did, the crowd was over 250,000.  There were plenty of helicopters overhead, so someone was trying to estimate the crowd.

But I think that the police and metro were TOTALLY blindsided by the numbers.

Frondly, Fern

CPT #10: Bok Choy

Blessings, Darlings!  damn

Today's cancer prevention tip is to have a daily serving of cruciferous vegetables - today' veggie is bok choy.

I suppose it's ironic, writing about bok choy when there is a desperate shortage of it in Korea, where it goes into the Korean staple comfort food kimchee.  That said, here in the US it's easily available, cheap, tasty and healthy. They are high in vitamin C and soluble fibre and contain multiple nutrients with potent anti-cancer properties: diindolylmethane, sulforaphane and selenium.

My favorite recipe for it is to combine it with straw mushrooms (or other Chinese mushrooms), fried tofu, and a bit of stir-fried pork, then add a brown sauce (yes, the recipe I posted before).  I'm using less sugar in that recipe lately, by the way, by at least half and sometimes totally eliminating it.  All my recipes are always in flux!

That said, it's good to keep in mind that too much of it can interfer with thyroid drugs, in case you happen to be taking them. 

Frondly, Fern

Friday, October 29, 2010

Hero Story

Blessings, Darlings!

The other day (Wednesday, and I'm not sure what day I'm going to finish this post and get it up on the blog) a friend and I had an interesting conversation over on Facebook.

He was bemoaning that, by publicizing the Mass his OTO Lodge is doing as "Crowley's Mass", that it promoted Thelema as a cult of personality around Crowley.  I, of course, responded as any child of Marketing would, that getting people in the door is about branding.  It's okay that the Crowley, the branding, gets them in the door, if you deliver more than the promise. Crowley is the 'promise' - whether it's the perceived edginess or whatever - the sizzle that brings them in the door - spiritual development is the steak you deliver.

Of course, I have to acknowledge that I'm just as pissy about the rainbows and unicorn farts branding that brings a lot of folks into neopaganry or Wicca.  Magic/religion/spirituality is always happy joyful singing, healing always occurs, reincarnation is a good thing (covered previously in the blog), etc. I'm that that different in view than my friend is.  Which has a lot to do with why we are friends.  The only difference is that I have a longer view of the sales funnel. He's focused on that first click, the opt-in. I see the opt-in as a necessary step, but once we Pagans get that e-mail address we start them in a long-term e-mail drip sales campaign, with an OUTSTANDING 'hero story'.  

Frondly, Fern

CPT #9 Rancidity

Blessings, Darlings!

Rancid fats are teh suck.  They taste bad, usually even in small quantities.  They are also highly toxic and carcinogenic.

So avoid them.  Refrigerate your butter, store fats and fat-containing foods (nuts and the like) in cool places, watch those expiration dates, throw them out if you have to.

Irony - stomach cancer used to be a WAY larger problem in the past, before hydrogenated and trans fats started being used.  But now we know that hydrogenated and trans fats are huge problems for cardiovascular health.  BHT, BHA,  hydrogenation = lower cancer risk, higher other risks.  There is no such thing as a free lunch.

Frondly, Fern

Thursday, October 28, 2010


Blessings, Darlings!

Pagan Lifestyle? Christian Lifestyle?  Gay Lifestyle? Heterosexual lifestyle? Hippy Lifestyle? Green Lifestyle?


I can't speak for others, but I don't have a 'lifestyle', I LIVE a LIFE.  No, not just A life, I live MY life.

I'm a member of all sorts of affiliation groups, if you want to try to categorize me.  But the one that I most identify with is being an incarnate human being.  As such, I share a certain group of needs that must be met with the rest of the incarnate human beings out there.  I need to ingest a certain minimal level of nutrients.  I need oxygen.  I need my body to work well.  I have social needs.  I am a sentient being, and I use my big human brain to see how the environment around me can fill my needs now and in the future. 

To fill those needs, I live my life.  I make decision on what to eat, what and who to surround myself with, ways to fulfill my other needs and wants and desires.  These things make up my life.  Not my 'lifestyle'.

While I see humans as 'categorizing animals', who are genetically programmed to group things in categories and make generalizations/rely on stereotypes to lessen the amount of decisions we have to make - the categories implied when I hear folks talk of 'lifestyles' seem totally at odds with reality, and thus are counter to living the best lives we can.  I just don't see there being 'a pagan lifestyle', or even a 'Wiccan lifestyle'.  There isn't enough uniformity in the Pagan community.  Or the Wiccan community.  Or any other community that one usually hears/reads the term 'lifestyle' applied to.

An 'agricultural lifestyle' is totally different if you are talking about a 30 acre organic farm where a group grows some crops to sell, some to eat/preserve, a small amount of animals that keep them in meat/eggs/wool verse the lifestyle of migrant farm workers verses folks living on 3000 acres of monocropped wheat (and working a day job as well) verses folks with 3000 acres with meat cattle in Wyoming.

Humans have lives. Stereotypes/straw men have lifestyles.


Blessings, Darlings!

Some cancer statistics are missing, as in no one seems to have tracked the issue.  One area where statistics are missing is in hormonally-linked cancers in people who are undergoing gender correction treatment.

I've tracked down some good news - both M2F and F2M hormone treatment show signs of being safe in the short term.

The best prevention tip I have here is that everyone needs to advocate that statistics - good statistics - be kept.  By cancer prevention/treatment groups, and/or by groups advocating for the rights of transexuals, and/or the CDC, etc.  The drug companies can't be trusted. Not all doctors can be trusted.

Yes, this cancer prevention tip is political/activist in nature.  It's not going to be the last tip that will be.  That's because we as individuals can't do every bit of the scientific research; we as individuals are affected by the environment (air, water, etc) around us; we as individuals need transparency on the part of those that supply our food, our drugs, our cleaning agents, our cosmetics, etc. so we can make informed choices.  I don't think that these things will happen without consumers banding together and getting the government to force disclosures, to force companies to not pollute, and to put money into science research.

Incidentally, Libertarians out there - I think it's section 8 of the US Constitution that authorized Congress to promote scientific research.  Just thought you'd like to know.

Frondly, Fern

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

CPT #7 Smoke

Blessings, Darlings!

Stop smoking. Not that this is news.  However, I'm still looking up info on the effect of incense, since most of my readers are Pagan (and some are Catholic, and some are Greek Orthodox, and some are Buddhist, and .....)

Starting with the tar, going on through the particulates, and the assortment of other chemicals naturally in tobacco, let alone in what is added to most cigarettes (and pipe tobacco, and cigars), it's all an insult to your body.

Oh, I also don't know the impact of smoking grass, hash, opium, etc.  These are all smoked because getting substances into the body through the lungs is quick and easy.  And the toxins in each of them enter the body just as quickly and easily as the psychoactive components. 

Frondly, Fern

Different Worlds

Blessings, Darlings!

As I pack, and we rent a truck (and I stop my husband from hitting the 'submit' key until I look for AND FIND a coupon for 20% off of the truck rental), my mother calls.

In every call, she tells me not to work too hard.  Now, I'm not a type A person, folks.  I'm laid back.  I like playing online, I like reading, I love cooking and gardening and all sorts of leisure activities.  And I totally ignore housework as much as I can.  I TOTALLY do NOT 'work too hard'.

But in her eyes, I work way too hard.  I don't hire folks to clean my house (at one time when I was young we had two women who helped clean our house) (and I was an only child, it wasn't like she had 8 kids like her Mother did) (and her mother didn't hire anyone to help with the house) (but I'm sure her older daughters were given PLENTY of chores).

Mom, altho' a Cancer and .... uh .... rather family obsessed and co-dependent, was the baby girl of the family.  She and her twin brother were the youngest of the 8 kids.  She didn't get taught to cook everything her older sisters learned to cook - by the time she was growing up my Grandmother wasn't making her own challah for Shabbos.  She wasn't helping raise younger children (at least until her sister Anne was widowed and came home to live, and needed childcare while she worked).

But Mom did work outside the family for a while, for the Corps of Engineers.  She even made it to supervisory level there.  And I'm SURE she never told anyone she supervised to 'not work too hard'.  In fact, she and a friend of hers from that time, who worked under her, tell a story about how Mom told the woman to get back to work (using some 'strong' Yiddish as part of her order).

Mom can't understand that we, like most of humanity, are doing the bulk of our moving ourselves.  We'll hire folks to help us one day, to move the heaviest furniture, and that's it.  The boxes, all 400 or more, we'll pack and handle.  She can't understand that we have more than 20 books.  I've not even tried to explain prepping to her, and the amount of stuff that involves having and moving.  She'd lose it at 'grind your own grain', let alone STORE your own grain.

I often wonder how she ended up with me as a daughter. We are alike in some things - a few from nature (whole family with anxiety disorders!) and some nurture (some of the manifestations of the anxiety disorders!), but so often so totally different.  She loves that I put my life on hold to homeschool.   She loves that I dropped everything when my Mother In Law had a heart attack and made sure she got the right drugs, followed thru', changed doctors, etc.  Co-dependence gets her full approval, possibly because I manifest that so VERY rarely!

My son and I have a far more natural relationship, at least in my view.  We're quite alike, I understand his grunts, jokes, etc. Helps that we're both Sagittarian, I suppose.

Well, I must get back to packing.

Frondly, Fern

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Plan B

Blessings, Darlings!

I still need to take pictures of the furniture work I'm doing, but I'm giving an update even without them.

We have cats.  Our cats have claws. As a result, the 'upright' parts of the arms of our sofas and armchairs are in sorry shape.  They are torn.  Stuffing is hanging out.  The cats deny responsibility, even as we look up and see Brianna with her claw caught in the material.  She waves her other front paw, does the cat equivalent of 'this is not the arm-chair destroyer you seek', and (once she gets her claw free), casually leaves the room.

The Chubby Hubby has declared that the couch, love seat, and arm chair should look better before we move.  So, I figured to cover the vertical front part of the arms of each with pleather, nailed in with decorative nails.

FAIL. There is a mix of cardboard and Gods-know-what as the frame of the furniture.  The nails kept bending, and neither of us wanted to try the lightweight staple gun.  It just seemed like more FAIL waiting to happen.

So I'm hot gluing the pleather on.  As usual, being of sound mind, I'm doing the worst looking piece first - even if I can get it to the "sucks less" stage it will, well, suck less.

So, the first loveseat is done.  It DOES suck less.  It's not gorgeous, but it's totally serviceable and way less embarrassing for others to see.  But, wow - hot glue is HOT when you screw up and get it on your fingers!

Frondly, Fern

CPT #6 Cum

Blessings, Darlings!

Yesterday's tip being all about cis-women, today's is all about cis-men: The more times you ejaculate, the lower your risk of prostate cancer.  At least in men under 40.  Five times a week in your 20's shows lower rates, over 13 times a month by the 40's.  Is it because orgasm reduces stress which reduces hormones that kick up cell division? Is it that it 'cleans the system'? That's not clear.

I don't know if there is a lower association between cancer prevention and ejaculation in older men or if there haven't been as many good studies done.  But, hey, extra orgasms can't be a BAD thing as part of a cancer prevention program!

Frondly, Fern

Monday, October 25, 2010

CPT #5 - Breed!

Blessings, Darlings!

This is a tip that applies to ciswomen only: being pregnant or nursing your entire post-puberty life greatly reduces your risk of breast cancer.  At least if you are a female rat.

There is an INCREDIBLY HIGH rate of breast cancer in female pet rats.  Why?  Because evolution's programming is for them to be pregnant or nursing - or both at once - all the time.  Pet owners, however, not wanting to find homes for all those ratlings, don't tend to let that happen.  So they get breast cancer a lot.

For human women, it's a bit different.  There is a slightly lower risk of having breast cancer if you have at least one child, especially one before you turn 30.  There is an additional slightly lower risk if you have many children - the main theory is because you have fewer menstrual periods.  I'm not sure about the details on how that helps, the scientists might not know yet.

Of course, having one (or more) child(ren) just to reduce your risk of cancer is not doing justice to the child(ren).  Gods know, parenting is rarely about the parent, when done right.

Frondly, Fern

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Proof Reading

Blessings, Darlings!

I've been breaking in some new cookbooks and new recipes lately, and have noticed a HUGE problem:  apparently publishing houses have cut back on proofreaders.  I know how Beef with Broccoli is supposed to taste, for example, and it does NOT require 2 tablespoons of chopped ginger for one pound of meat.  Two TEAspoons, maybe, but not two TABLEspoons. 

Another recent recipe for blue corn pancakes called for 1/3 teaspoon of baking powder or soda, I've forgotten which already, for 2 cups of dry materials.  I've been making pancakes for years - for this 3 teaspoons would have been more appropriate. 

Yes, cookbooks have had occasional 'Errata sheets' in them for years.  But the problem has seems to have increased over the last few years.  I HOPE that most folks using them have skills and self confidence enough that they are able to look at the recipe and change the amounts they use on the fly, rather than blindly following and then blaming themselves for the failures, but I fear that too many users aren't there yet.

Frondly, Fern

CPT#4 Water

Blessings, Darlings!

Today's Cancer Prevention Tip is in the 'reduce exposure to toxins' category.  It is: filter the water you use to drink/cook with. 

There's a boatload of chemicals that get added to city water supplies to purify it and otherwise adjust it.  Chloride, fluoride, etc are added deliberately, aged pipes can add lead and other heavy metals, and so on.

While filtering is more important with city water, if you are on a well get a test every few years for chemical infiltration there.  Landfills leak, agricultural chemicals travel, illegally dumped stuff happens.  In the first house we owned - where I was pregnant - the well water in the area was contaminated by a Cargill dump site.

Frondly, Fern

Saturday, October 23, 2010

CPT#3 Sun

Blessings, Darlings!

Today's cancer tip is all about the sun.  It's a mixed tip.

Relatively high vitamin D levels are associated with reduced cancer rates.  We create vitamin D naturally when our skin oils are exposed to ultra violet sunlight then re-absorbed into the body. 

However, high exposure to ultra violet sunlight is a risk factor in skin cancer. 

We here in the USA tend to wash off the necessary skin oils, plus don't get much daily sun.  When we DO get out in the sun we tend to use sunscreen which messes up the process.

Apparently, 10 minutes of exposure (of how much of the body they don't say!) without sunscreen and some unknown time after your last shower and before your NEXT shower (so you have time to both excrete than reabsorb those oils) is enough to help lower your cancer risk. 

Me, I try to get that exposure, but I also take 1000 to 2500 IU's of vitamin D3/Cholecalciferol daily - the amount has more to do with preventing influenza than cancer, but it wouldn't totally surprise me if there is overlap in protection.

Frondly, Fern

Friday, October 22, 2010

Not In The Stars

Blessings, Darlings!

I've been married a LONG LONG time - since 1980 (just after Mt. St. Helens went off, for those keeping records).  But it's not been easy.

I'm a Sagittarius.  There are many things we Sag's are. Obsessively organized NOT being one of them.  We're a fire sign - we want to get the show on the road, and deal with issues as they come up.

Or, in practical terms - I started packing as soon as we were faced with moving, some 6 weeks ago.  I started in the room I knew we'd move first.

My husband, on the other hand, is a Virgo, and a Virgo VERY near the Leo cusp.  Virgos are organized.  Okay, my experience is that Virgos are micromanagers. A micromanager on the Leo cusp means a micromanager who thinks that the world revolves around himself.

Or, in practical terms - my husband has NOT started packing.  He didn't want to start packing until
  1 - we had a new place lined up, totally.  Lease signed and all
  2 - we had a floor plan
  3 - we had EXACT MEASUREMENTS on the floor plan, down to where every electrical outlet is.
  4 - we had decided, based on all the above, exactly where in which room every piece of furniture would go.
  5 - we had decided, based on all the above, exactly in what order we'd move each room/type of item.

He finished all today, just after noon.

By the way - the order 'we' finally decided on is the same order that was apparent to me 6 weeks ago.

Since I didn't wait for his needs to be met before I started packing, I had data available for him on how many boxes it will take to pack a single bookshelf, or a full book case.  He had the notion that it would be maybe one box.  Nope, for his books, which he has two or more rows of per shelf or are big (aka Encyclopaedia Brittanica) it's at least two boxes per shelf.

He thought everything would go into boxes, and we'd need a whole lot of wardrobe boxes.  I pointed out that wardrobe boxes are a pain in the butt to handle, and that bagging our hanging clothes/coats with contractor's sized 55 gallon garbage bags would be far easier to deal with, as well as far cheaper. 

I have not killed him, as we spent the entire morning when I could have packed several bookcases planning things in excruciating - and to me unnecessary - detail.  He did not kill me over the past few weeks as I packed even tho' he did not want me to.

Marriage.  Not the sissies.  Especially if your stars aren't aligned well.

Frondly, Fern

CPT #2

Blessings, Darlings!

Cancer prevention tip #2 is ... embrace the power of the rainbow and diversity

That is, eat a wide range of fruits and veggies with a wide range of colors.  Ad the brighter/deeper the color the better.  By doing this your diet will naturally contain a range of phytochemicals.  And to quote Wikipedia....
Phytochemicals are chemical compounds that occur naturally in plants, such as beta-carotene. The term is generally used to refer to those chemicals that may affect health, but are not yet established as essential nutrients.[1] While there is abundant scientific and government support for recommending diets rich in fruits and vegetables,[2] there is only limited evidence that health benefits are due to specific phytochemicals.[1]

Thus, by eating a range of foods and colors, you cover your assets, by natural and delicious means.

I just bought some purple sweet potatoes, myself.

Frondly, Fern

Thursday, October 21, 2010


Blessings, Darlings!

Are you a good witch or a bad witch? Are you for us or against us? Is it good or is it evil? Is he gay or straight? Is that a man or a woman? It's us vs. them!

There's a lot of pressure to see everything through the lens of dualism. 

To some extent doing so is probably hard-wired into us humans.  We, as a species, seem to be 'categorizing animals', probably as a result of evolutionary pressure that started with "food or not-food" and went from there.  Categorizing, even generalizing, are shortcuts to decision making in an environment that requires LOTS of decision making.  It is a useful thing.

But - categories are mere representations of reality, and therefore by definition limited.  For while categorizing is black/white, the universe is technicolor ... and has at least three dimensions.  Never confuse the map with actual reality.

Apparently, some neopagans out there combine the concept of duality with the concepts of good and evil, to the point that they feel that the concept that good and evil forces must always be in balance. Which seems odd to me, since most neopagans also say that there is no God/dess of Evil a la Satan, no anthropomorphized or demonized Evil. Being the snarky judgmental Druid Bitch that I am, I assume that this is another way to shortcut making decisions and taking actions in life.  If good and evil MUST balance, then you don't - maybe even SHOULDN'T - take action against evil being done, for you'd upset the balance.  Throw in misunderstanding the Rede, and some can't stop those harming others because they might harm the perp.

For me, of course, I see myself as the Hands of the Gods on Earth, bitchslapping those the Gods would have bitchslapped.  Which means self defense, which  means throwing the occasional curse, etc.

I'm also not pre-occupied with balance.  The universe isn't into balance, it's into entropy. Assuming we don't have the cyclic universe some theorize, then the universe will end, and end without even a whimper as energy and matter diffuse out to uselessness. 

But that's the long, long, long term.

In the short term, we can look at our world, and see how human society has changed, and it doesn't show balance, either.  A friend - Henry over there who commented about Hinduism in a previous post, in fact - who once made a great case on how we show all signs of coming OUT of the Kali Yuga not descent into it.  Lifespans are growing longer, more humans have more rights than even, more children are surviving infancy, more people have at least some level of voting rights than ever, a smaller percentage of the human population is in slavery, etc, etc, etc.   Is this evenly distributed, even in the US? Oh, heck no. Ask an African American who lived 100 years ago if there has been real progress, the answer will be yes.  Ask a transexual woman, and she'll explain in detail how the answer is no.

I'm NOT saying that life is rainbows and unicorn farts.

Of COURSE there is still a long way to go to promote 'good' and reduce 'evil'/abuse of people.  What I'm saying is the promoting good, making changes that increase the good and reduce the evil does NOT mean that evil is just going to break out elsewhere to 'balance' it.

For that matter, I suppose that some folks feel that all good in their lives must be balanced by evil in their own lives.  It may bring some 'pie in the sky' solace to those who have survived abuse, but.... that good is not going to spontaneously arrive.  Good CAN and WILL happen in lives, but working for it, demanding an end to evil and abuse, working for ending abuses and for good is going to get a whole lot more good in your life than passively sitting back and waiting for it to get dumped in your lap.  

And those poor, scared, folks who think that all good that happens to them must be balanced by evil happening to them - that every moment of joy MUST be balance by moment of sadness, that every love must be balanced by hate!  Life sometimes sucks.  It does not HAVE to. Prepared for challenging times, but don't feel you MUST SUFFER because you are loving life at other times. It doesn't have to be that way.

Frondly, Fern

CPT #1

Blessings, Darlings!

I'm going to use "CPT" for the Cancer Prevention Tips series, just so you know.

And the first tip is one of the ones I'm finding hardest to implement - drop your body fat index to under 25%. Why? Because it seems that obesity increases the risk of cancers of the breast (postmenopausal), endometrium (the lining of the uterus), colon, kidney, and esophagus

I'm starting with this tip because this one takes the most time to reach, unlike a 'don't do this/do that' quickie. 

That said, I'm NOT willing to say that it's the obesity itself that directly ups the risk, although that could be it in some cases.  For esophageal cancer, for example, the largest risk factor is gastric reflux.  But being obese increases the rate of reflux, just because of the weight/pressure on the stomach pushing the contents up to the esophagus.  And, as we'll get into later, many of the activities involved in losing weight are also associated with lowering cancer risks.

So, to repeat - Cancer Prevention Tip #1 - start work towards dropping your weight.

Frondly, Fern

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Beat Cancer. Really.

Blessings, Darlings!

Y'all already know my frustrations with the #BeatCancer/Paypal/Twitter campaign that I blogged about a few days ago.  So, putting my time/energy where my fingers are, I figure I'll do something that might actually help folks beat cancer - post a tip every day or so on how to reduce your risk of cancer.

By this I'm NOT saying that getting cancer is any individual's fault.  What I AM saying is that recent research seems to indicate that most cancer has environmental causes/triggers.  Some of those causes we can reduce in our lives by our life choices.  Some of those causes we can work together and reduce in our environment.

To me, effort put into prevention makes as much sense as efforts put into finding cures.  But research and efforts in the US 'healthcare' system mostly - and I mean 98% - goes into diagnosis and treatment, not prevention.  We do not have a 'healthcare' system, we have a 'sickcare' system - it only activates for those who are already sick.  That's ass-backwards, in my never-humble opinion.  And this being my blog, my opinion is the one that gets more attention here.

This 'tip a day' thing won't be the only thing I plan to blog - I still hope to keep daily blogging on other topics near and dear to me.  That said - I can probably do daily tips even DURING the move, so they may be the bulk of what gets posted at times between now and the middle of November, since things will be crazy.

Frondly, Fern

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


Blessings, Darlings!

Back in February I said I'd eventually blog on Snowpocalypse. This is eventually, isn't it?

But really, what's to say? Washington, DC and environs got record snow, repeatedly, back in February.  But no ice.  The city closed down for a week, then more.  Our street got plowed once. Everyone got great exercise digging stuff out.  Gutters that had made it thru' the snow back in March of the year before came down all over town.  Store weren't restocked, and no one could get to them due to unplowed streets.  Electricity went down for a while.  OTOH, not too many water mains burst, since it wasn't that cold during it and snow is a great insulator.

We taught the neighbors to park cars towards the end of their driveways, so there is less area to dig out to get to the street.  And to dig out every few inches of snow, not the full 22 inches at once, because it's just easier both physically and mentally.  I dug out the fireplug on our street, which is right on the property line of our house and the unoccupied house next door.  Not everyone with a fire plug did this, which lead to problems in another part of town.  House on fire, and fire department couldn't find the fire plug to hook up hoses to.  Homeowner of the house where the fire plug is (not the house that burned) to this DAY says that it should not be HIS responsibility, he's an old man of 60, the city should pay folks to do that.  I consider him to be a flaming red diarrheal anus, personally, and he chooses ignores the LAW that says that it IS his responsibility.

Now, the Chubby Hubby and I had some FAIL during Snowmeggedon, too.  The worst was our failure in getting the generator going when power was out.  There we were, 18 inches of snow on the ground, more falling, wind howling.  Uh, where do we PUT the generator? No covered porch. No covered anything outside.  No cleared ground by the house.  We worked on clearing some of the patio, tried to rig up a tarp over an area to keep the snow off the genny.  FAIL. It wasn't deadly (obviously) or anything - power came on as we were fussing with it.  We'll have to figure out how to handle that in the house we're moving to - while the power/fuse box area is set up for a generator, there's no outdoor place to PUT it, especially in the snow.

People all over DC complained mightily that DC wasn't able to handle the snow and it should have been able to.  How silly.  If DC had enough equipment to handle this - a snow the like of which it has seen only one or two times before in 200 years - they'd have been screaming at the waste of having that much stuff on hand when it's rarely used.  It would be the equivalent of requiring anyone with a car to have 5 cars, in case 4 of them broke down at once. Or the equivalent of requiring every resident to own their own snow plow. Foolishness.  Wastefulness.

People can be such fools.

Frondly, Fern


Monday, October 18, 2010


Blessings, Darlings!

I'm anti-cancer.  I've lost friends and family to it, and am sort of phobic about it. That said...

That whole "Tweet #beatcancer and PayPay will donate 5 cents to stop cancer" had to be one of the weirdest, and probably least useful, campaigns I've ever seen. 

Yeah, it got retweeted. A lot. For days. Because virtually no one understood that it was a one day thing, it ended Saturday night.  It's STILL being retweeted.  I can't find any announcement of how many times it was retweeted - but any retweets over 400,000 don't matter.  Paypal said from the get-go that they were donating up to $20,000 total.  Addenum - as I have been typing this post, Paypal JUST announced that altho' they didn't get the amount of tweets they were aiming for, they'd still donate the full $20K.

$20,000 for a lot of free publicity for Paypal.  I doubt that even .05% of those retweeting  know where the money is going to, or what aspect of the 'war on cancer'. Is the money going into basic cancer research?  Is the money going to treatment? Prevention? Education?  Support? Any particular cancer?

I looked hard enough to find the organization - but even I can't find any rating of it on Charity Watch, or how it spends its money (like, how much is spend directly on services vs administration). 

So, some hundreds of thousands of folks, over the past 3 days (I'm typing Monday evening) have tweeted a phrase that makes them feel good.  But might it have made more impact if the tweet had a bit more substance? What if instead of focusing on a hashtag, it has been a series of tips on cancer prevention? What about if folks had retweeting a pledge to change one risky habit, or work to stop one environmental risk?

Personally, that seems more useful than tweeting a hashtag that gives publicity to PayPal and money to a charity I can't find financial info about.

But I'm just into Sadonecroequusism.

Frondly, Fern

Sunday, October 17, 2010


Blessings, Darlings!

I had a new experience today - I took a bite out of a dish and had to throw it out.  And I'm NOT one to waste food!

The culprit was a Spaghetti Squash.  It turned out to be INCREDIBLY BITTER - far too bitter to eat.  And I'm no Supertaster when it comes to bitter (my husband is, and what a pain THAT is to live with).  This has NEVER happened to me before.  NEVER has a trusted food been inedible.

Has anyone else run into this with spaghetti squash?  I've even dumped the seeds instead of seasoning and baking them!  If this has happened to y'all before, how do you avoid bitter ones in the future?

Frondly, but grossed-out, Fern

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Raising A Foodie

Blessings, Darlings!

The Spawn, now a 23 year old man-like thing, is well on his way towards being a foodie.  I'm not saying that he loves the work involved in, say, grating real parmigiao-reggiano when he makes an al fredo sauce, but he does it and knows WHY he is doing it.

Obviously, just having parents who are foodies helped make him this way.  But I think that our approach to his eating when he was young helped, too.

Like many young American children, he had times of being a picky eater.  ("Picky Eaters" are kind of the definition of "First World Problems", wouldn't you say?) We let him pick a few foods he didn't have to eat at all, one fruit (he always picked grapefruit) and two other foods (usually cooked dried beans and Brussels sprouts, sometimes spaghetti squash, or winter squash, or whatever).  He got to change his selections every 6 months.  But for all other foods, he had to eat a serving at any meal it was served at.  A serving was defined as 'as many bites of it as you are years old".  Also, when we ate out, he had a sample of whatever we adults ordered, to help expose him to new tastes/textures/foods.

Now, the spawn has always been a pretty easy child outside of his speech delay, fine motor skill issues, and sensory integration issues, and this level of respect plus explicit expectations worked for us.  There were no meal time negotiations, no excessive whining, no tantrums over food. 

For us, this worked.  The Spawn is now into darn near all foods (even those dried beans, on occasion). He also does a good job as a food critic, and is experimental in the kitchen and when out to eat.  He makes his own sushi.  Yeah, he's still an American male and eats his share of fast food, too.  I'm proud of him!

Frondly, Fern

Thursday, October 14, 2010


Blessings, Darlings!

This losing-weight/getting fit program I'm on is a solo program - the rest of the family isn't coming on this roller coaster with me.  Which has good and bad points.

Bad, of course, is that they want, and are getting, normal meals.  Tonight's dinner was served with puff pastry for them, but brown rice for me.  I made the brown rice in bulk a few days ago, so nuking some wasn't a big deal. My son is still bringing home the fried chicken lunches he doesn't eat, as we're having that for dinner once a week.  I eat mine minus the skin and breading.  And it KILLS me to take the skin and breading off and throw it away!

On the other hand, I'm Druish - Druid of Jewish Origins.  So I'm making the most of the Martyr Points I get for letting them not change their eating habits while I change mine.  I also get oodles of Self Righteousness Points and Smugness Points.  I hug those points to myself as I have fruit for dessert.

Actually, I AM slowing moving their diets in 'my' direction.  For example, we had pasta last night.  I had whole wheat, they had regular white semolina based.  But both TASTED mine, and agreed it was perfectly adequate.  Which is an improvement - in the pasta, not their taste buds.  Whole wheat pasta used to taste overly sweet and didn't have anywhere NEAR the same mouth-feel as regular pasta, but now the taste and mouth feel is almost the same as the regular.  So I will be able to serve them whole wheat pasta now, or at least a mix of the two.

We'll see what other steps I can get them to take with me.  Maybe my husband will take walks more often, or walks that are longer than 12 minutes?  Yes, I timed his walks!  I admit it!  Using chutneys to season lean meats is right out as husband HATES that, and he hates sweet salsas, too.

The Chubby Hubby IS helping one aspect of my diet.  I bought a bag of tiny square 3 Musketeers, and gave them to him to dole out to me when I ask for them.  Only one or two at a time.  They have only 25 calories but really nice sweetness and, of course, CHOCOLATE.  They make me very happy.

Frondly, Fern

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Samhain Energy

Blessings, Darlings!

It's been one of those days when I've been going "hmmmm" a lot.  Like I'm missing some important concept.

A concept related to Pagan "Earth" or "Nature" religions and the "southern hemisphere" problem.

I am pondering the "what is the energy of Samhain, and WHY" this evening.  It's been seeming to me that the whole "third/last harvest" idea, like the "Witches New Year" idea is just so .... local.  It's certainly not what the Earth is doing in Naples, Florida let alone what's going on in New Zealand or equatorial New Guinea.  I'm having issues with imposing the Wiccan Wheel of the Year on the world, rather than just temperate areas of  the Northern Hemisphere. 

If the "veil is thin" October 31, shouldn't that same energy and thin veil be just as present on April 30?  Shouldn't the Ancestors of all sorts be JUST as active then? 

After all, it's coming on Beltane in the Southern Hemisphere.  They are gearing up for planting, not harvest.  Or do some folks feel that Samhain is determined by astrology or such, which WOULD be the same in both north and south hemispheres?  But why would a 'nature religion' be so out of whack with what nature in the location actually be doing?

I think I"m going to be puzzling over this for rather a while.

Frondly, Fern

S[e]ay[nce] What?

Blessings, Darlings!

That title is an amalgamation of 'say what' and 'seance', in case it was too confusing.                 

Being an American of European ancestry, I love my family ancestors.  They had the balls to get on ships, sail the Atlantic, and start a new life in a totally unknown continent.   None of them even knew the language here. 

They are one of the many types on ancestors I work to attune with at Samhain, along with ancestors of philosophy, religion, etc.  We worked it out to 9 types one year.

Which doesn't mean I'm all that comfortable in calling any of them by name to slip me some info on Samhain.

First - I believe in reincarnation, so I worry that they aren't available for disincarnate visitations because they are incarnate.  Second, because as I stated the other day, not every ancestor was particularly  nice or brilliant, and I don't see how, even if they are out and about in the Other Worlds, that has made them somehow the sharpest tack in the box.  Third, because some of them are likely hanging out in what they think THEIR religion's afterlife is .... and that does NOT involve being available for seances of any sort.

So - my grandfather has been dead for over 50 years.  I could invite him - but how long is he hanging out in the Jewish Avalon between incarnations?  How happy would he be to answer questions from a descendant not of his religion - the one he came here to practice (along with coming here for economic reasons)? And, let's not forget, that some of my cousins think that he was rather a douche.  Why would I invite a douche?

As a result, I don't tend to CALL on anyone in particular to visit at  Samhain.  I open myself to messages, but listen and consider the source.

Frondly, Fern

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Reincarnation: What, Me Worry?

Blessings, Darlings!

Many of us in the Northern Hemisphere have Samhain on the brain for this entire month.  I'll quibble about what date it 'should' fall on, but I did that in April of '09 about Beltane, so I'll give it a rest now.

This time I'm up for talking reincarnation. Why? Bbecause I'm wonder how folks figure to contact their ancestors when so many  neopagans believe that everyone reincarnates.  World population being what it is, how many old souls are currently between incarnations and available to be contacted?  And why do folks think that the same people who weren't the sharpest tack in the box when alive are suddenly going to be fonts of info now that they're dead?  But, back to reincarnation......

I touched on reincarnation a bit before, in last years post  There I talked about the soul and what initiation might do to it, and if that was good or bad. 

But now I want to talk about how neopagans have the ever so Western view that reincarnation is all rosebuds and unicorn farts, while in Asian countries - where belief in reincarnation was far more common that it was in Europe - it was seen as being pretty awful, something to get out of as soon as possible.  Life wasn't pretty for most of the world.  Heck, life still isn't pretty for most of the world.  Getting out of it, whether to the afterlife of any sort or to the relative oblivion of Nirvana, was a grand thing. 

But here we neopagans are.  Mostly we're in Western countries, with Western sensibilities.  And most of us just LOVE LOVE LOVE the idea of reincarnation.  Why is that?

So I looked at modern western life.  Anyone reading this on a computer in their home is among the top 1% elite of the world.   You have a home.  You are literate.  You have a computer in your home.  You have electricity.  Etc.  Yeah, I think that being part of the world elite colors our view of reincarnation.

Reincarnation including a rather 'evolutionary' view here in the West, 'clearly' anyone Elite enough to be reading this must have been quite the ubermensch in the past life, eh?  How else would you have earned this?  And, since we're all already so enlightened to have earned this, certainly WE aren't going to be facing a life of starvation, misery, etc in our next lives, either.  Fear the next life? Don't be silly.  WE won't be born in a slum in India.  WE won't be working the garbage heaps in Rio.  We will born in a clean environment, be educated, have enough food, have the right number of chromosomes,  etc.

After all, we have evolved.  We have learned all the lessons we needed to learn by being poor/3rd world/whatever.  So WE have no worries.  Clearly THEY still have lessons to learn.  Not us.

Frondly, Fern

PS = we REALLY need a dedicated font for sarcasm.

Monday, October 11, 2010


Blessings, Darlings

So, I'm reading my timeline on Twitter, and Men's Health has this link: Identify What's Stopping You from Losing Weight.  My immediate reaction - dudes, what's so hard about figuring THAT out?

For me, it's really easy:  I love to eat, and I hate to exercise.  Food TASTES GOOD, at least food I buy/make. I love salt.  I love grease.  I love carbs.  I love protein, covered with salt, and even better when covered with grease.  Breaded and fried and salted?  Excellent!

And I HATE sweating.  It doesn't matter if it's from the day being hot or from exercising.  I hate it.  Today was a really ROUGH day for me on the exercise bike, because I SWEATED while exercising.  Yech.  Well, also my right butt cheek started whining, even BEFORE I got on the bike, "I do NOT want to get back on that bike seat".  Great, I though, prototypical 'talking out of my ass'.  I got on the bike anyway.  I did my exercising - warm up 4 minutes, then 30 minutes of 30 seconds at medium speed/30 seconds of sprinting, then 6 minutes of cool down (I did cut 5 minutes off, in deference to the now screaming butt-cheek).  Yes, I had the fan on while I biked, to help me feel better while doing it.

Weights and aerobics will follow (I'm typing this at noon).  But I do NOT like to exercise.  I may never like to exercise.  I may always HATE to sweat.  I expect to love to eat all my life.

I know WHY I'm fat. One of my problems in dropping weight is that the 'doing' doesn't have an intrinsic reward - putting on weight comes with activities I love, dropping it means NOT doing things I love (eating lots of fatty, salty, etc, food) and doing things I hate (sweating).

Yeah, yeah, I know, there's a reward if I keep at it.  Pie in the sky by and by.  How odd - I appear to be a "Reverend Ike" type dieter, who want reward NOW not in heaven after I die.

Frondly, Fern


Help Wanted!

Blessings, Darlings!

As you might recall, I did a 6 month series on Life Wellness this year.  And I posted links to it on Twitter, using health-related hashtags only.  I didn't specifically try to get the attention of Pagans by #pagan-ing it.  I'm wondering if I should have then, and if I shCeould do it now for health/diet/weight loss posts now.

I'd love to get some feedback on this!  Will the #pagan #wicca hashtag get me more READERS WHO CARE, or not, in your opinion?  Clearly, Wiccans have a reputation of being 'women of a certain size', but that's true of ALL American women right now. 

What say ye?

Frondly, Fern

Low and Slow

Blessings, Darlings!

Being foodies, we're celebrating the unusually warm October weather by continuing to heavily use the BBQ grill and smoker.  Tonight will be a beer-can chicken.  Last week it was a sirloin tip roast (I didn't name that, it was on the package).  Last night it was .... drumroll, please ..... a truly outstanding pork shoulder butt.

It has taken us a LONG LONG time to master cooking roasts on the grill/smoker.  We gave lip service to 'low and slow', but only really put it into action over the past few years.  Now we'll probably never go back (except when using a pressure cooker, which is a TOTALLY different animal).

Yes, it took a LOT of time to do the pork butt.  We - I sprinkled and Bob rotated the meat and rubbed it in -  ever so carefully anointed it with rub (Steve Raichlen's Memphis rub) the night before.  It sat on a platter in the dorm fridge overnight (some day I might post on where I keep raw meat, and why).  The next morning, early, I started soaking the wood chips.  The wood chips HAD to be hickory.  They had to be chips, not chunks, as even the best-soaked chunks tend to smoke just a short while and then burn.  The grates had to be washed, since there wasn't going to be direct heat to burn off the bits from the last thing we cooked on them.  Washing grates is pretty miserable work, especially since my husband has a 'use no soap on them' rule.  Thus, HE got to wash the grates.  Charcoal was started in the chimney.

By 11:00 am, charcoal was in the smoker, soaked chips were on the charcoal, the rubbed roast was on the grates, and smoking had begun!  For the next 2 hours I was outside every 15 minutes adding chips.  The temperature in the grill stayed about 150 degrees.

At 12:45 I prepared to change gears.  I started to pre-heat the oven to 325.  Yes, the in-the-house-oven.  Why, when the grill was already going? 

Because I have learned, the hard way, that I can't maintain a great even temperature in the grill.  I don't mind adding logs to the charcoal - the only way to get the temperature as high as I want it.  What I can't do is keep an eye on it ALL THE DAMN TIME to keep it at the temperature I want, increasing and decreasing air flow, adding wood, rotating the roast because the heat comes in from one side and it takes lot of rotating to cook it evenly.

At 1:00 I wrapped the roast in heavy duty aluminum foil, put it in a pan for easy handling and to catch drips, and lovingly put it in the oven.  Where it remained until 5:00.

The result? A hunk of pork with excellent flavor, a smoke ring to die for, and cooked to a turn.  The meat 'pulled' easily, the fat and collagen melted and buttery.  Meat was pulled, put on a crispy bun, the sacred Doctor Bob-B-Que sauce (my husband's creation) added.  Cole slaw, of course, completed the meal.  I wish good sweet corn was still available, but, alas, October is too late for that.

Don't you wish you were here?

Frondly, Fern

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Dramatic Sigh

Blessings, Darlings!

Remember the series I did earlier this year, Life Wellness?  How's that going for you?  For me, it meant I stopped GAINING weight, I am now dealing with arthritis in my knees, and my physical endurance has improved.

My diet, however, is still pretty miserable, I'm still fat, my blood pressure is still high as are my triglycerides and   cholesterol (total and LDL). So, as of this afternoon, I'm kicking up working on that.

Why?  Because I hate looking at myself in the mirror.  Is this a good time to do it, with the move and all?  Of course not.  There's never going to be a good time.  I did have the CH take my picture for a 'before'.  CH has not made any noises about joining me on this, BTW.

So, I got my 2 servings of fruit and 3 servings of veggies today.  I don't know if I should count the sweet potato as one, so I didn't.  I had a good serving of beans with lunch, and a little lean organic beef for dinner.  Alas, that's the last of the lean organic beef I have, so I'll be eating regular grocery beef for a while.  I'll probably pick up some whole grain bread tomorrow.  Or not.  I may try to avoid stuff with flour in it and just to less processed grains.  We'll see. 

I also got 45 minutes in on the exercise bike, at increased resistance.  My knee is not amused, but not whining too much.  Did an upper body workout with the heaviest weights I can use, obviously almost no reps.

Doing this while moving and while trying to keep the grocery budget on track will be kind of a challenge.  We'll see how it goes.  I'm sure that I'll slip at times, but I guess the point will be to just get back on track.

Stay tuned.

Frondly, Fern

Thursday, October 7, 2010

We Fail

Blessings, Darlings!

As my loyal readers know, we're about to move out of the DC area.  You probably didn't know that POTUS is speaking this afternoon at the college a stone's throw from us.

We've never been live at any 'intimate' POTUS event.  Oh, we were at a few inaugurations, but being with a quarter million of our closest friends for the event doesn't make for intimacy.  So, we figured we'd go to this one.  Parking lot near us opened at 10, shuttle buses from the lot started at 10:30.

But, life being as it is, we first needed to hit our accountant/agent for some of our IRAs, and take out some money for the move. It's okay, budget fans - Bob old enough that we don't get hit with early withdrawal penalties.  We get there at 10. We are there for about 2 hours - the accountant is thorough but not speedy.

Accountant can't file our withdrawal electronically or fax it, the company requires it be sent.  Okay.  He gives us the envelope, since we live near the post office.  But we figure we'll mail it later, and hit a convenience store for a soda then park & catch the shuttle.

Got soda.  Got to parking lot.  Chubby Hubby suddenly realized the envelope is missing.  We tear the car apart for 10 minutes, then head back to the convenience store.  it's now 12:45.  Doors to the hall have been open for 15 minutes.  Standing (no sitting) is first come, first serve .... and we were WAY back in the parking lot before we left to track down envelope.  We get lucky - the owner of the store DOES have the envelope, maybe CH dropped it inside or someone found it in the lot.  We go to the Post Office and mail it.  It's now 1:00.  We're frazzled. We had seen the crowds pouring in to see POTUS.  We figure we can't get parking any more and probably can't get into the hall.

We #Fail. 

I sigh.

Frondly, Fern

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Tell Me Why

Blessings, Darlings!

I'm feeling mildly ranty today. (That was a warning label, BTW.)

I've been getting progressively more irritated by the short-but-sweet Tweets on 'what to wear to align with today's energy', 'what to work on with today's energy', and other short bits of 'advise' I see both on Twitter and on calendars, etc.  I want to know WHY. 

Case in point, a recent tip was to "wear garlic when working on the astral plane or spirit Realm'.  Why?  I mean, by definition your body isn't going there with you.  Is it to protect your body while you have it 'unoccupied' here on Malkuth? Isn't that what a circle is for?  I'd worry that it would keep you more grounded and inhibit your Astral Travel (I'd not be wearing hematite, either).  

For some things, telling me the day of it is pretty useless.  Some folks posted on an eclipse after it happened. Or posted 'energy of the day' at 10 pm that night.  Hmmm.  But even if they are posting that the day, and say what to work on with that energy - daily posts on that are less than useful to me.  Give them to me a week at a time, 3 days before that week begins, and I can PLAN my work, not just try to 'align and work' on something I pull out of my ass.

Oh - by the way - if I'm supposed to work with the day's energy to get rid of something, should I really be wearing some color that draws anything to me? Could someone explain THAT

Yes, 140 characters isn't much.  But you can use more than one tweet.  You can link to a blog.  You can use Tweetlonger or some other tool.

Context matters. 

Frondly, Fern

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Soup's On!

Blessings, Darlings!

The weather has turned blessedly cool and refreshing after the record heat of summer (and the record high temperatures that the DC area hit even last week!).  So I can go back to ENJOYING hot bowls of soup again.

My love of soup goes WAY back, before even my earliest memory.  My mother remembers the first time she fed me soup.  Apparently I couldn't get enough.  I'm sure it was chicken soup, served as part of Shabbos dinner, and she made it herself.  She didn't say if it had noodles in it.  She DID say that she stopped feeding it to me that night before I was done eating all I wanted. 

My favorite soups are hearty stew-like ones, full of vegetables, meats, noodles or rice or potatoes or matzo balls, etc.  But that's not to slight cream based soups, or lovely broths, or silky split pea, or.... well, you get the obsession.

Usually we have soup with lunch almost all year.  This year, with the heat, we really couldn't face that (and we really don't like cold soups), so we've been soup-free for rather a while.

But it's time to get back on the soup bandwagon! 

Simmering has started again in my kitchen.  Barley, unhulled, is almost done cooking.  It will be joined by stock from the freezer, a can or two of mixed veggies, and a can of beef.  Maybe a can of mushrooms, too.  Tomatoes? Why, yes, since the garden is still burying us in them!  Herbs and other seasonings will be adjusted, bowls will be filled, and comfort food will fill our tummies, easing cool-weather sharpened appetites.

I'll be repeating the magic of soup making at least once a week for the next 9 months (except during the move, when I expect we'll use a lot of canned soup).  I can't wait!

Frondly, Fern


Blessings, Darlings!

Today in "The Klutz's Guide to Reupholstery for Total Morons", I'm teaching myself to reupholster the seat cushions on the dining room chairs.  We've had this dining room set for 23 years, and we bought it used - they are well over due for an update.

The Chubby Hubby wanted to get the chairs, and couches, professional re-upholstered.  I priced that, and laughed.  We can buy new furniture for less.  Mind you, newer stuff won't be as well made, but I'm not getting all new furniture just because we're renting a better house in a better neighborhood. Thus, as per my coven sisters' advice, I'm doing it myself.  It's a bit nerve wracking, because I AM so non-crafty.

So far, I've learned how to remove the seat from the chair, and done a practice run on upholstering it.  The practice was neatly attaching a large piece of an old sheet to it.  It really is AMAZINGLY simple.  Staple guns are my friends!  Okay, all guns are my friends, but for today the staple gun is my gun of choice.

I did not try hard to get the material stretched taut over the cushion, because the thin thin thin old sheet material (there's a REASON this material was in my rag bin!) is so stretchy that it doesn't compare to 'real' brocade type material that I'll do the real work in.  The CH has asked that I practice with stiffer material before doing the final version.  I'll buy that on Tuesday, probably, and then take the picky CH with to pick out the official material.

I'll be doing the backs of the chairs, too, not just so they match the seats (which is important enough!) but because the cats, specifically the Bree, has really done a number on them.  They are JUST the right height, and apparently a good texture, for her to scratch/mark territory with her claws.

Yes, our cats have all their claws.  Damn RIGHT our cats have all their claws.  Okay, that's a rant for another day.....

Frondly, Fern

Thursday, September 30, 2010


Blessings, Darlings!

Even before we agreed to a date we'd be out of the house by, I had started packing.  As I previously noted, we have 24 bookshelves alone, and then there's the in-house 3 month supply of food, clothes, the BUSINESS, the KITCHEN (my condiments alone are daunting to pack and move), etc.

The food, of course, is a bit of a dilemma.  It's a lot of stuff to move.  We can't eat ALL of it in the next 4 or so weeks, but we CAN reduce it.  And I could 'rotate' commercially canned food by donating it to the food bank. 

But if we greatly reduce our stored food, that greatly reduces how prepared we are after our move.  And the town we're moving to doesn't have the vast array of supermarkets that I use here, or a BJ's/Sam's Club/Costco, or an Aldi's, and CERTAINLY no H-Mart!  So stocking up again, at the low prices that I could get by hitting the vast array of store loss-leaders I'm used to is going to be right out.

So, a compromise.  We're eating our way through about 4 cans a week, sometimes up to 8, and I'm not replacing most of them.  I'm doing just-in-time purchasing of things we use up, like cream of mushroom soup, only buying what I need for planned meals. 

Some food will certainly be donated rather than moved.  Commercially canned tomatoes, mostly, along with scattered other items. 

It's been great to have the food when our income was so low, but, boy, I dread moving it all.

Frondly, Fern

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Magical Metrics

Blessings, Darlings!

No, the title of this post isn't about the usual metric system, kilometers vs miles, liters vs quarts, etc.  What I want to talk about is setting up you do magically so you can measure the results.  Clearly, this applies more easily to thaumaturgy than theurgy, but it can be done in both.

I lightly touched on measuring results in the last post, on curses, where I mentioned that I had not set up any way to measure my first curse, but the second one was more easily measured - the Beltway Shooters got caught and police started getting FAR more clues starting that day (and for the protection spells I did with that, none of the rest of the attacks took place in my county). 

If you can't/don't measure your results, you don't know if the spell worked at all, worked some, worked a lot, failed totally.  And you need to know these things so you can improve the results of your magic.

I still say that if you do a ritual for peace for a specific period of time, and war breaks out instead, then your ritual probably failed.  If you do a protection spell on your home and it's followed by a break in two weeks later, then something went wrong.

Your Book of Shadows is a lab notebook.  You note exactly what you did, what you wanted, how you did it, etc.  You then note all the results.  And then you see what could be tweaked. 

About 15 years ago I did a working to help our home business get more business, focused on improving our marketing, our success in getting word out to potential clients about how we could help their businesses.  It worked, we got TONS of business in a few months.  BUT it turned out we got more business than we could handle, we lost some clients, got sued by one of them that we hadn't vetted well enough, etc.  Not the best magical result.  A costly lesson, but one that I know about because I followed up on results. 

Doing a ritual to heal the earth? Focus on a specific area where you can check stats on results.  Maybe compare number of days with air pollution warnings to the same time last year.  Or number of days beaches are closed.  Maybe number of people involved in stream cleanup, or percents of garbage recycled vs sent to landfill over time.

Metrics are you friends. Measuring results lets you modify what you are doing to get better results.

Go forth and be wonderful!

Frondly, Fern

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


Blessings, Darlings!

I'm going to discuss using magic/witchcraft to curse folks.  So let me say right up front that I'm currently in a trad that does not allow that (nor can I order around Goetic Demons while in this trad, dunno about making servitors and such) so I'm not currently doing curses nor have I been doing any since I started Wicca 101 with them.

That said...

Back in the day....

Heck, yeah, I did curses.  And I'd do them again.

Remember, I'm up front that part of my motivation for becoming a witch had to do with power, knowledge, all that good stuff.  With those things comes responsibility.  One of those responsibilities, in my mind, is to use curses when appropriate.

When is Cursing Appropriate?

So far, I've done curses twice that I remember.  I doubt there are any times I don't recall, because it takes a big deal for me to do one.  Obviously, I wasn't cursing the morons who clearly got their drivers licenses out of a gum ball machine.  I wasn't cursing folks who insulted me in AOL chat rooms.  

Most folks who do stupid or irritating things curse themselves just fine.  They don't need my help in that!  I might include in a prayer that it happen sooner rather than later, but that's about it.  

Harm to the Tribe

But when someone does harm to the Tribe, it's time for intervention.  The police have their role in 'harm to tribe' interventions, and I have mine.

So the first curse I threw was targeting rapists.  Not that they die, not that they suffer.  But that they get caught.  That they get STOPPED.  Yes, dying would have done a fine job of stopping them, but that wasn't necessary for my goal.  They didn't ask me to help them heal from whatever reason they chose to rape, and magically forcing them to change is forbidden in most Pagan Witch traditions, and healing without permission is equally forbidden.  But the Tribe would benefit from rape stopping.  So I did it.

I did not follow up local law enforcement arrest stats, let alone district attorney conviction stats, to see what, if any, measurable effects the spell had.  This was WAY early in my Witchy life.

The second curse I did was in fall of 2002, at the Beltway Sniper (BS for short) here in DC. It was the day he shot the kid at the school my son had been attending the year before.  Again, it was all about stopping him (or, as it turned out, them, but I didn't know that at the time and it didn't matter for the working).  Me, the Sacred Weber Grill, articles on the Beltway Sniper, and well-directed fury.  It's a pretty direct attack on my tribe when a kid who my son went to school with as recently as 5 months before get shot! 

Result? This was the first of the attacks where the BS left a clue. The Death Card from the Waite-Rider Tarot deck, deliberately written upon and left for the police, a fact not released to the public for a few days.  The BS was now contributing to being discovered. 

[Yes, I also did healing spells for the wounded, and all families involved, and protection spells for the area, thanks for wondering.]

A Curse Not Done

OTOH, I did NOT do any cursing after the 9/11 attacks on the US.  Why? Several reasons.  At first I didn't have a good enough concept what group did the attack, later because I wasn't sure what outcome would be best to deal with the type of radicals who were behind it and what bred them.  I'm still not sure if the US killing them might just make martyrs for future generations to emulate and thus increase the problem if underlying social and political factors remain the same around the world.  And for CURSES, rather than general magic, prayers, etc, I think that you need an especially tight focus. Therefore, I did different magicks for that rather than going to a curse.

Where do you stand on the subject of cursing?

Frondly, Fern

Monday, September 27, 2010

Rite of Passage

Blessings, Darlings!

Is there some reason why dissing Christianity HAS to be a rite of passage for neopagans?  I'm getting REALLY REALLY tired of it.  Especially since it's usually combined with the "Oh, we Pagans are tolerant and accepting and never proselytize, even to you awful Christians and your awful religion, that you really should leave and I'm going to do everything I can to tear down your religion so you'll leave it" intolerant unaccepting proselytizing.

I'm tired of the birthers - you know, the "My Goddess Gave Birth To Your God (and BTW, your God is part of MY "The God", so if I choose I'll add him to my rituals anyway)" stuff. I dislike the assumption in this that Paganism is somehow different and didn't plagiarize from everything that came before.  Heka in Egypt became Hekate in Rome, and become the Hecate versions we see worshipped today in so many different ways.  Oh, everyone gives lip service to Paganism as having 'evolved over time', but apparently when Christianity does that it's different and sinister.  Hell, pagans still take from other religions and cultures today.  We have a huge problem with cultural appropriation.  We should address that - oh, or how about saying that Christians learned THAT from Pagans, too?

Actually, this one includes a dose of antisemitism, in my never humble view, since it ignores the Jewish roots of Christianity.  You know, the Torah, the "Old Testament law" part that is still part of the underpinnings of Christian Theology. 

I'm tired of the "Christianity (alone) has a history of genocide".  They do ... but how about saying that they learned that, too, from Pagans?  Pagan Rome tried to commit genocide against Christianity, remember? And did it because Christians wouldn't worship the Roman Gods.  Heck what happened to the Picts, the descendants of the proto-Beaker people who started Stonehenge? Stonehenge was 'stolen' after they did the astrological work and first round of building.  They 'disappeared', they were obliterated as a people thru' genocide and appropriation by the Celts.  Have a peek at the "Book of Invasions" to see the history of genocide in Irish Celtic Pagan history.  The Tuatha were but the latest invading God-folk, killing all the previous God-folk.

I'm especially tired of the "Everything in Christianity was stolen from Pagans (except Satan and Hell, since I don't like those things)" version, too.  How had Set evolved in Egypt by the time Christianity started evolving?  Hmmmm?  Most moderns see Pan as the party animal lusty lover, but back in the day there were REASONS He caused panic.  When you do a ritual to meet the Crone, do you expect Betty White?  What if Baba Yaga shows up and expects you to get into her mortar and pestle? I'm not talking 'trickersters' here.  And, yes, many Pagan cultures had at least some small afterlife area where a particular nasty person could be tortured for ever.  Sisyphus, anyone?

It's all getting old.  How about encouraging Christians to live and grow in their religion, 'be the change you want to see', all that stuff?  

It may not make you happier, but it would make ME happier.

Frondly, Fern